(Ladies of the Manor)
Roseanna M. White
(Bethany House Publishers)
April 2015/400 pages/$14.99
Will Fleeing the Scottish Highlands Only Leave Her in More Danger?
Lady Rowena Kinnaird may be the heiress to a Highland earldom, but she's never felt good enough--not for her father, not for the man she thought she'd marry, not for God. But after a shocking attack, she's willing to be forever an outcast if it means escaping those threatening her life.
Brice Myerston, the Duke of Nottingham, has never been one to shy away from manor-born ladies, yet the last thing he needs is the distraction of the newly introduced Lady Rowena. He has enough on his plate having recently come into possession of a rare treasure for which many would kill, yet those around him seem intent on pairing him with this desperate but beguiling girl.
Rowena is reluctant to marry this notorious flirt. And when she learns that Brice is mixed up in some kind of questionable business with a stolen treasure, she fears she'll end up in more danger than she fled.
Read an excerpt.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Roseanna M. White has quickly become a new favorite author of mine, and I can't wait to catch up on her previous novels. The first book in this series, The Lost Heiress, caught my eye last fall and I devoured it. I jumped at the opportunity to review this book and was just as enthralled. I'm amazed that White initially came up with the premise and wrote these books in middle school, although they have undergone numerous rewrites. A compelling story, a cast of intriguing personalities, and a sweeping setting--not to mention a dark and mysterious thread--blend together seamlessly to make The Reluctant Duchess a powerful and irresistible read. Rowena's desperate situation portrays the limited options available to women in that time period and their complete dependence on a favorable marriage to ensure their safety and well-being. While the mystery of the Fire Eyes adds suspense and drama, the beauty of this novel rests in the personal growth that Rowena and Bryce experience as they face the challenges and dangers surrounding them. Of course, the romance is pretty sigh-worthy, as well! While this book can be read as a stand-alone, the continual thread of the Fire Eyes mystery and common characters will have a deeper meaning for those who have read The Lost Heiress. Add The Reluctant Duchess and this series to your Spring Reading List.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this book free from Rowena M. White and Baker/Bethany House Publishers for a blog tour. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
Q&A WITH ROSEANNA M. WHITE
1. How did you come up with the idea for The Reluctant Duchess?
The idea for the Ladies of the Manor series first came to me as a middle school student. Way back then, I finished the first book—what eventually became The Lost Heiress—and sat down to write the sequel, which I decided to call Blue Skies in the Morning. I wanted this one to be DEEP. To have a heroine who had suffered in her home life, so that my amazing hero could sweep in and make it all better.
The thing is, my life has been blessedly boring and peaceful and completely filled with love, and at the age of fourteen, I had no idea what a suffering heroine would act like. It took some more life experience—though granted, much of it has been second- or third-hand—to be able to plumb the depths of the character who is now Rowena Kinnaird. It’s taken a lot of revisions to make her who she was meant to be, but I love how she turned out: someone with hurt and pain and suffering . . . and also strength and hope and faith.
And of course, a swoon-worthy hero to swoop in. He can’t just make it all better, but that’s part of the beauty too.
2. What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?
Each novel has its own challenges, and in this one, it was finding the right balance for Rowena’s father. Douglas Kinnaird is a hard man . . . but I didn’t want him to be two-dimensional, a cookie-cutter bad guy and abusive father. I wanted the reader—and Rowena— to eventually understand him, even if that didn’t mean respecting or liking him. But man, it was pretty tough asking myself, “Why would a father hurt his child?” and finding any answer to fit that bill! But it helped to realize that Douglas had been hurt too, and that deep down, he acted out of misguided love.
3. What are the spiritual themes of The Reluctant Duchess?
I debated this myself as I was writing. I’m never quite sure what God’s going to whisper to me as I develop a story, but He always shows me something new. In this one, He brought to mind the story of a missionary I’d read about to my kids a few years ago. George Müller was famous for living on faith, not funds. At one point, when his orphanage has no food, he sits down at the breakfast table and prays a prayer thanking God for their empty plates—because he knew it was an opportunity for God to provide in miraculous ways. Which He did. Empty plates, empty places became a theme in The Reluctant Duchess. Because when we recognize them as opportunity for God to work, we see everything around us in whole new ways.
4. How did you tackle the Highland dialect?
I was so nervous about trying to capture Rowena’s family’s Highland speech! So I watched videos on YouTube about the area, taking frantic notes on speech patterns and words the natives seemed to favor. I read other books that did it well, and listened to the audio versions too, so I could get it in my ear. And then I created rules for myself and stuck to them.
5. What’s coming in the final installment of the series?
Well, I hope readers of The Reluctant Duchess really love the hero’s little sister, Ella, because she’s taking center stage in the last book of the series! Ella is a romantic, a lover of adventure, and also a complete optimist. And when she decides to solve the mystery of the Fire Eyes once and for all, the villains—and the wary hero—had better watch out, because there’s no stopping her.
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