Lady B: Miss Darby! Who is that you have with you there? It’s been a while since any of you authoresses have brought fellow lady scribblers around, although I do expect them all to show at my holiday ball.”
Sabrina: This is Kate McKinley! She’s a fabulous new (well, new to Regency that is) author whose novella, A Duchess In The Dark, just released last week from Grand Central Publishing. I happen to know her off of the internet as well.
Lady B: (scrunching up her face),Of course you do. This internet thing…It has been two years and I still never know what my authoresses are jabbering on about. However, that is neither here nor there. I am quite pleased to have one last authoress guest. Especially, as I heard about that book on my outing earlier this week. It’s a naughty little story isn’t it?
That outing that Lady B claimed was to buy luggage for Lord B but all of us secretly believe was to buy a new, scandalous and possibly 50 shades of depraved corset?
Sabrina: Well the story is advertised as so:
A Duchess in the Dark
Miss Daphne Hayward is on the hunt for a safe, honorable husband and she has set her sights on the perfect target. He’s kind, titled, and miraculously single. She plans a full-scale seduction that will bring him to his knees, begging for her hand in marriage. But when she mistakenly climbs into another man’s bed, sparks ignite, threatening to send all her plans up in smoke.
Ashton Fitzgerald, Duke of Claymore, is surprised by the powerful desire that surges through him when he sees Daphne for the first time. So when he unveils her as his mysterious midnight visitor, he is determined to make her his…forever.
But since Miss McKinley is here, why don’t we ask her? Kate, how naughty is it?
Kate: It’s excessively naughty, I’m afraid. Scandalously so. You see, the story begins with my heroine, Miss Daphne Hayward slipping into the wrong bed one night at a house party, and well, she and the gentleman have [leans in and whispers] relations. That is when the trouble begins.
Lady B: There is always scandal at a house party. That is why I adore them. And if one is to behave indecently, at least she had the good sense to do so with a duke. At least, I presume the Duke of Claymore is the man in question. Tell me, does he have good calves? We have luckily had a veritable battalion of heroes with good calves, which is very important. As we all know, I cannot abide weak calves. It suggests a weakness of masculinity, good health and other important manly details.
Kate: The Duke of Claymore is indeed the man in question, but you didn’t hear it from me. And as it happens, his calves are rather firm. I had the opportunity to peek while I was writing him into existence. And between you and me, that isn’t the only thing firm about his physique, if you catch my meaning [wink, wink]. Oh, here he comes now. I asked him to meet me here.
Claymore strides into the room, his firm, manly calves carrying him across the white marble floor. He approaches the three of us and bows.
Claymore: Miss McKinley, pleasure to see you again.
Kate [sighs wistfully]: Yes, indeed, it is quite a pleasure, isn’t it? [A moment passes before she realizes she’s staring] Oh, allow me to introduce Miss Darby and Lady B, our hostess.
Claymore [bowing]: Lady B, Miss Darby, the pleasure is mine.
Lady B: Your Grace, so pleased you could come. Claymore…and Fitzgerald is your family name? I do believe we are related. My fourth cousin, Anne…
Sabrina: I would not be surprised. You are related to everyone. Kate, you do write them well! Imagine, one misplaced word and his fine legs could be fine pegs.
Lady B: Your Grace, surely you don’t propose to every woman who sneaks into your bedroom at a house party. What makes Miss Hayward different?
Claymore [to Kate]: She knows?
Kate [blushing]: Well, um, the thing is…everyone knows. Your story was published last week.
Sabrina: (aside to Lady B): Poor Claymore. These heroes never understand that their lives are at the whim of an authoress’s inspiration.
Lady B: It is rather confusing, but I assume it has to do with that space-time continuum that is bandied about all the time.
Claymore [turning to Lady B] Thankfully, Lady B, only Miss Hayward has been bold enough to sneak into my bedroom at night. She is an extraordinary woman—loyal to a fault, and the most improper lady I have ever known, but she is genuine and honest, and from the moment I met her, I was hopelessly ensnared.
Lady B: This book sounds wonderfully romantic as well, as naughty! I am certain it is an excellent read for holiday travels and shall place an order at Hatchards. Well, Your Grace, Miss McKinley, you shall have to return for my holiday ball. It will likely be my most talked about ball as yet. As well it should be. And now, you shall have to excuse me, I have a very important appointment to keep. As my authoresses have taught me, loose ends are sequel bait, but I so wish to see Monty matched.
Scandal can happen everywhere, from Lady B’s “appointments” to a staid house party. To win a copy of A Duchess in the Dark (Kindle, US only), tell us about the most scandalous party you’ve ever attended!