By the powers vested in me by the gods and my publisher, i.e. the prerogative of an author, I have summoned some of the members of the Burgundy Club to Lady B’s ballroom. See those three gentleman lounging in chairs in the corner? Let’s go and hear what they have to say.
Sebastian, Lord Iverley, hero of The Dangerous Viscount: Why are we meeting here? There are too many ladies in this room and not enough books. In fact I don’t see a single volume. How can we hold a meeting of a book collectors’ club without any books? [Adjusts his spectacles and looks around.] Good Lord, everyone is dancing. I won’t do it, not without Diana.
Cain, Lord Chase, hero of The Wild Marquis: In my opinion any gathering is improved by the presence of ladies. It’s too bad Juliana can’t join us, but she went shopping with Diana and Celia. I always enjoy seeing her in – and out of – a new gown.
Tarquin Compton (star of the recent Amorous Education of Celia Seaton): Miranda wanted us to meet here. Apparently she has something she wants to reveal. I wonder if it’s another Baby Epilogue.
Sebastian: What’s a Baby Epilogue?
Tarquin: It’s an extra chapter when the author reveals the sex and name of a couple’s child. Our child hadn’t been born when Miranda wrote the end of our book, but I can now reveal and Celia and I have a daughter named Rosalind, after Celia’s mother. Of course we all know about your unfortunately named Aldus Manutius, and the fact that Diana is enceinte again.
Sebastian: [looks self-conscious] I do seem to have rather – er- vigorous seed.
Tarquin and Cain exchange disgusted looks.
Cain: I never had a Baby Epilogue. If Juliana is with child I think I should be the first to know. I’ll be quite annoyed if Miranda intends to reveal my impending fatherhood to the world today. Not to mention that I wouldn’t have let Juliana go with the other wives if I’d known. Diana is far too indefatigable when it comes to shopping. Miranda, come here.
Cain: Is this meeting anything about babies?
Miranda: No. I brought you here to reveal some information about my next hero.
Sebastian: We know the next book is about Minerva. Who are you going to match her with? I trust you’ve found her a brilliant and high-minded politician, a man who will become Prime Minister. And of course he must be a book collector.
Miranda: You’ll just have to wait and see. I promised Lady B she’d be the first to meet him. Here she comes. [The gentlemen all rise]
Lady B: Gentleman, welcome. I don’t believe I’ve met Lords Chase and Iverley, though I’m sure we are related. I remember you, Mr. Compton. I was happy to learn you came to your senses and married that nice Miss Seaton who was hiding in the cupboard here.
Tarquin: I’m glad too. We’re rapturously happy.
Cain: Enchanted, Lady B. [He kisses her hand and she blushes. Sebastian bows but does NOT kiss her hand.]
<squawk> Lock up your daughters. <squawk>
Lady B: Don’t worry, Albert. Miranda assures me that Lord Chase is quite safe now that he’s married. I do find him charming.
She smiles at Cain and they chat for a few minutes, until her attention is distracted by a newcomer to the ballroom.
Lady B: Who is that man? My goodness what a face! What coloring! What cheekbones! What LEGS!
Sebastian: [disgusted]. That is my cousin, the Marquis of Blakeney. What is he doing here?
Lady B: Ah, yes. Blakeney. The Duke of Hampton’s heir. Miranda told me to expect him. She’s been writing a book about him.
Sebastian: That can’t be right. Her next book is about Minerva, my sister-in-law.
Lady B: What’s the difficulty? Your sister-in-law is a young lady and Lord Blakeney is most definitely a man, and highly eligible. It all seems most suitable.
Sebastian: But Minerva cannot abide Blakeney! He’s a sports mad idiot with no interest in politics. It would be a disaster. Besides, it’s bad enough that the man is my cousin. I refuse to have him as my brother-in-law as well. I can’t believe he could be anyone’s hero, but especially not Minerva’s. Miranda must have been talking about the book after next.
Miranda: draws Lady B aside. I should have guessed Lord Iverley would be upset. He has a long history with Blakeney. There’s no point telling him that Blake has hidden depths and a tragic secret. He’s going to have to discover it for himself. Just like the readers.
Lady B: I love a man with hidden depths, especially one with such excellent legs. I can’t wait.
I admit that Blake did not appear to advantage in Sebastian’s book, The Dangerous Viscount. While not actually a villain, he was definitely the bad guy. I believe, however, that he redeemed himself very nicely. I hope readers will agree when CONFESSIONS FROM AN ARRANGED MARRIAGE becomes available next spring. I love seeing a villain made over into a hero. Do you have a favorite reformed bad guy romance? I can think of a few great ones.