Will the Real Main Character….?by Grace Burrowes
“Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal” was in some ways the most challenging book I’ve written. When my editor, Deb Werksman, began reading my manuscripts, she told me I was a hero-centric author, and that struck me as a Truth. My focus, in the stories she read, was most closely and accurately on the hero. Who wouldn’t be focused on swains who defeat all odds to win their one and only true loves?
A trilogy of brother stories resulted—The Heir, The Soldier, and The Virtuoso, featuring Gayle
Windham, Valentine Windham, and their older half brother, Devlin St. Just, all three sons of Percival Windham, Duke of Moreland. Those books were great fun to write and well received, but then my publisher thought it might be a good idea if I wrote a Christmas story.
Huh? A Christmas story? A Regency Christmas story with plum pudding and no room at the inn? That kind of Christmas story?
I hadn’t any heroes whispering in my ear about how they’d like be caught sliding down my lady’s chimney, but Their Graces, the duke and duchess of Moreland, did have five daughters. So… as I brainstormed with my editor about the book that would become “Lady Sophie’s Christmas Wish,” somebody suggested using a Windham daughter.
My first reaction was: ARGH. If the book was Sophie’s story, then hero-centric wasn’t going to be such a good fit. What’s a tadpole author to do?
The story worked itself out, with Lady Sophie finding herself responsible for a baby, but having no idea how to care for one. Enter Our Hero, Wilhelm Charpentier, Baron Sindal, and again, much fun resulted.
Maybe a little too much fun, because the idea of writing the other four sisters’ stories began calling to me. In many romances I’ve read, fine books and well worth the read, the heroines didn’t interest me. They were foils, love interests, or otherwise second-rate leading characters, somehow not quite of the same stature as the hero.
If I was to continue on the trajectory launched by Lady Sophie, then my heroines had to be made of stern stuff. They had to have arcs, issues, and challenges above and beyond waiting for the hero to wake up and smell the Darjeeling.
I agreed to attempt a second Windham sisters’ book, focusing on Maggie, because the dear lady had already turned thirty, and hope for her happily ever after was fading fast. Maggie is smart, determined, brave and so tired of coping with her troubles all alone, that when Benjamin Hazlit realizes he’s dealing with a damsel in distress, he has to be just as smart and determined, and even more brave.
What I learned from Maggie’s book is that the best stories aren’t particularly hero-centric or heroine-centric. The best romances (for me) put the relationship between hero and heroine in the role of protagonist, and it’s the evolving relationship that makes the story sink or soar.
Or is it? What do you think drives a truly fine romance novel?
Published May 1st 2012 by Sourcebooks
Maggie Windham, oldest of the Windham sisters and a by-blow from His Grace’s pre-marital wild oats, finds herself in desperate needs of an investigator to help her retrieve a missing reticule. Benjamin Hazlit knows the Windham family secrets, and can be trusted to keep them to himself, so Maggie turns to Benjamin, though it means ignoring his too-broad shoulders, his too-knowing smile… and his too-skilled kisses.
As Benjamin starts the search for Maggie’s missing purse, he realizes two things: First, whatever was in that purse, its loss has Maggie not just rattled, but terrified. Second, Benjamin will go to any lengths to see Maggie’s peace of mind restored, even if it means he must keep himself in very close proximity to the shy, secretive lady who says she wants nothing to do with him.
INT – Ends MAY 8th
Grace will be kindly giving away THREE Lady Maggie’s Secret Scandal signed copies here at the blog to randomly drawn commenters! Please leave her a comment, answer her question or ask her anything to enter! You don’t need to leave your email in the comment =)
You can get the Duke’s Obsession Bundle on amazon, that includes: The Heir, The Soldier, and The Virtuoso by Grace Burrowes on kindle for only $3.82! Now is the perfect chance to catch up!