The second novel in my Accidental Heirs series, One Tempting Proposal, is a “second chance at love” story for my hero, mathematician turned duke, Sebastian, Duke of Wrexford. He’s experienced heartbreak in the past and isn’t too keen on repeating that experience when the story opens. For my heroine, Lady Katherine “Kitty” Adderly, the story is a redemption tale. She served as a sort of mean girl character in my first novel in the series, One Scandalous Kiss, and the challenge in this story was to make her likable, and redeemable.
Inspiration: I took a bit of the inspiration for the story from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and its modern incarnation, the 90’s movie, Ten Things I Hate About You. Both stories are about the softening of a woman who initially seems quite prickly and difficult to woo. Taming of the Shrew is actually one of my favorite Shakespeare plays, and I’ve been wanting to write a story that gave a nod back to those fantastic characters, Katerina and Petruchio, for years.
The Story: The decision to tell Kitty’s story second in the series was truly a collaborative process with my editor at Avon Impulse. She loved the notion of redeeming my mean girl, and as soon as we discussed the idea, the story, and Kitty’s hero, began to unfold in my mind.
Sebastian: Developing a hero to suit Kitty was key in mind to making the romance work. Though alpha heroes are popular in romance, I imagined an alpha making Kitty
even harder. Such a man would remind her of her domineering father and turn her off completely. Sebastian had to be strong, but have a tender heart, an easy confidence that bumped up against Kitty’s defenses.
Kitty: Telling Kitty’s story meant finding her soft edges. We’ve all probably met people who have snarky or gruff exteriors, only to find it’s all just a shield to protect a soft heart underneath. For me, Kitty’s softness is about her sisters and her love of plants. My grandfather was a landscape designer, and he could tell you the name, both common and Latin, for any plant, flower, or tree you’d point out to him. He instilled a love of botany, and I used some of that knowledge to develop Kitty’s love of flowering plants and floral scents. To people with green thumbs, tending plants can be a relaxing escape, and I imagined Kitty’s green house as a haven from the pressures and expectations of her father.
Pippa: In addition to being a confidant man with a tender side, I wanted Sebastian to have an appreciation for strong women. Thus, I knew his mother would have been an outspoken woman, and Pippa, his fierce sister who loves fencing and all sports, and studies mathematics at Cambridge University, came to mind. The detail about her studying math at Cambridge is based on a real woman, Philippa Fawcett. In 1890, she became the first woman to earn the top scores in the university’s tripos mathematics exams. Pippa is the secondary character I hear about most from readers, and I would love to tell her story one day.
One Tempting Proposal is available at all e-tailers for just $1.99.