Sunday, September 25, 2011

Real Dukes

This week the Rockville 8 is thrilled to host historical romance author Lavinia Kent! She’s here to share her thoughts on Dukes.

Which may have led her to wonder, “What woman would refuse a Duke’s kiss?”

(Or maybe that’s just what we were wondering, after we saw the cover of her new book, What a Duke Wants . . .)

One lucky commenter will win a “Go to Bed with a Duke Tonight!” t-shirt.


I originally planned to write about muses versus hard work and how great it is to have both, but if you only have one, choose hard work. I’ve written ten blogs in the past two weeks, and I can promise you that my muse would have been out shopping for fall boots after the first two. She is not the most patient of beings.

But she did pull through on this one.

I was sitting here, thinking of her, and whether I really needed to add green to my wardrobe (clearly I should have put down the Vogue magazine a little earlier), when my mind started wandering to dukes. I always have my current cover up as a screen saver on my computer, and if you had my duke staring at you, you’d spend some time staring back.

What a Duke Wants is my first published “duke book,” and I’ve been amazed at just how enthusiastic readers have been. I’d always heard that readers liked dukes, but I still wasn’t prepared for the response.

First, I should confess that I love a good duke book – they are probably my favorites. I know that when I advise friends on what romances to read, I’m always a little embarrassed by how many of the have “Duke” in the title. (Julia Quinn’s The Duke and I, Galen Foley’s The Duke, and of course Mary Balogh’s Slightly Dangerous – which may not have a duke in the title, but is certainly a perfect duke book.)

I’d always been a little bit hesitant to write one myself, because once you’ve written a duke book, where do you go? And then there’s this picture, “Ten Dukes-A-Dining.”

A friend sent it to me a while ago and I was forced to confront the reality of dukes as they are (completely not thinking about the new Duke of Cambridge, or I’ll start thinking about his wife and my new obsession with nude pumps). Now, there are several men pictured here who are quite distinguished and may once have been dashing and handsome. Number Seven, the Duke of Argyll, actually plays elephant polo and I can almost imagine him wading through the pages of one of my books. But I must face the fact that this picture does not have one thinking of the seven or so six-foot-two, dark-haired, flashing-eyed dukes who wander through What a Duke Wants and The Real Duchesses of London – and I am sure that I have another couple just waiting to find their way onto my pages. And I am not even going to consider how many dashing dukes we’d have if we were to put all the romance dukes together in a room, a building, a park, a town . . .

And does it matter? That is my ultimate question.

I love my duke, Mark Smythe, Duke of Strattington. He is tall and handsome and, although he has a learning curve, in the end he knows just how to win Isabella, his heroine – and hopefully the reader, too. I am more than willing to follow him through cases of mistaken identity, a little blackmail and scandal, an accusation of murder – and more than a few steamy encounters. I don’t care that he might not have a counterpart in the real world.

All historical writers have their story of being called out on some fact they got wrong, but I’ve never heard anyone complain because there are just too many dukes in that book.

What do you think? Where do you want fact and reality in your romances, and where do you want delicious fantasy?

Let me know, and I’ll send one lucky commenter a signed copy of What a Duke Wants and a “Go to bed with a Duke tonight!” t-shirt. (And – with due respect to his Grace - I promise it won’t feature number nine, the Duke of St Albans.)

Thank you so much for having me at the Rockville Eight. I’ve always wanted to come and visit.

Please visit me at my website for an excerpt from What a Duke Wants:

For more information on Ten Dukes A’Dining:


  1. What a great post. I am such a sucker for a duke and have many of yours on my shelf, makes me happy just to see them. Now I'm off to go Google elephant polo. I must know.

  2. So happy to have you here, Lavinia! And your book provides such luscious eye-candy for our blog!

    As for your question, if I wanted only fact & reality I'd be reading nonfiction. Give me delicious fantasy any day. In any genre! Give me detectives who can solve the case and kitchen boys who can save the world and Dukes who can fall in love.

  3. I like Dukes in books, but confess that I prefer the ones who seem realistic for the period (and I don't mean in looks and age). I think of them as the Alpha Heroes. If they were in Presents they would be the multi-millionaire sheiks or CEOs.

    I must say, though, I have a real thing for Marquesses!

  4. Avery, I had to check out elephant polo, too. And Scottish elephant polo at that. LOL.

    I have to admit I love Marquesses as well. Yum. I agree completely about trying to make them appropriate to the time period.

    And I'll take a good detective, too.

    Just feeling like a happy girl now.

  5. Hi Lavina,
    Holy cow, all I can say about your cover for, "What A Duke Wants," is YUM! Never too many dukes. :) For me, I love the historical references to be real. After that, I'm a fan of fiction. Thank you very much for this enjoyable blog. Wishing you continued success!

  6. Hi Lavinia,

    I like handsome Dukes, and I don't care one whit if they are realistic. The one on your cover is yummy.

    And speaking of modern-day peers and lords, I didn't worry any about reality in the book I just finished, which features a modern-day English duke (okay he's merely a baron) set adrift in the swamps of South Carolina with a bunch of good ol' boys and rednecks. I'm sure you remember the early version of this story, which you critiqued.

    It's all different now -- the hero is quite a bit more Duke-ish -- and therefore infinitely more delicious as he intrepidly navigates alligator-infested waters. Hmmm...I wonder if there any such thing as gator polo? Now there's a manly sport for you.

  7. Gator Polo -- I like that. And I can't wait to read about your baron.


  8. Lavinia, thanks for hanging out with R8 today! You (and your dukes) are welcome to come back any day.

    Reality or fantasy you ask?


    Chocolate or peanut butter?

    Ah, I know my heart's desire.


    I like fantasy that gives me pause and makes me think, "Oh, that couldn't really happen. Could it? Maybe!"

  9. Welcome to the Rockville 8. Thank you for visiting!

    I like for the novel to have historical accuracy but I'm with Yvonne - if I wanted cold, hard reality I'd be reading nonfiction. I enjoy the fantasy and am willing to go there with the writer.

    Elephant polo, huh? That's not a profession you hear about every day. And just how big is an elephant saddle anyway? :)

  10. I fell in love with dukes in Whitney, My Love, and never stopped. A screen saver with your cover sounds like a good idea. Keep them coming, Lavinia!

  11. Ahhh, Whitney, My Love. Now I just need to sit here and smile for a few minutes.

  12. Lavinia - so late to the party, am I. I bet my duke would refuse to kiss me for being so de trop, alas.

    I don't care about too many dukes. I do care if a fact is just blatantly wrong, but usually I only notice that if something else in the story isn't working. In other words, if the story has me in its spell, who cares? Creative lisence and all that, don't you know.