Please welcome Diana Quincy, author of TEMPTING BELLA, a historical romance now available from Entangled Scandalous.
A 13-year-old girl is forced to marry the heir to a dukedom in order to settle a gaming debt between their fathers. After the ceremony, the bride and groom go their separate ways. Years later, the groom spies an enchanting beauty at the opera and is thrilled to learn she is his wife.
The true love story of Lady Sara Cadogan and Charles Lennox, the Earl of March, who later became the Duke of Richmond, inspired my latest historical romance, Tempting Bella, the second book in my Accidental Peers series.
According to accounts from the time, the marriage was arranged after the first Duke of Richmond lost a round of cards to the first Earl of Cadogan. To settle the 5,000-pound debt, a marriage between Lord March, the duke’s heir, and Lady Sarah Cadogan, the earl’s daughter, was arranged.
The following day, the debt of honor was paid when Lord March was brought from university and young Sarah from the nursery, to stand before a clergyman. When the handsome young groom spotted the plain awkward girl, he is said to have exclaimed in disgust, “You are surely not going to marry me to that dowdy!”
But whether he liked it or not, the marriage did indeed take place. Immediately afterward, the groom jumped into a waiting carriage and, accompanied by his tutor, headed off on his Grand Tour of the continent. The bride, meanwhile, returned to her mother and the nursery.
Years later, when Lord March returned home after his travels, he was known to be “a strikingly handsome, cultured young man” who wasn’t eager to renew his acquaintance with his “ugly duckling” wife.
On his first night back in London, avoiding a much-dreaded reunion with his wife, Lord March attended the opera. In the box opposite, he spied a beautiful woman and asked who she was.
“You must indeed be a stranger to London,” was the answer, “if you do not know the beautiful Lady March, the toast of the town!”
The marriage is said to have been an enormously happy one. The Richmonds were known to kiss, coo and cuddle constantly. On one occasion, an acquaintance of the couple, Horace Walpole, said ”the duke sat by her side all night kissing her hand and gazing at his beautiful daughters.”
It was also a fruitful union. The couple made excellent use of the marriage bed. Sarah got pregnant twenty-eight times and twelve children survived. When the duke died in 1750 at the young age of 49, Sarah was despondent. She died a year later, in 1751, at the age of forty-five.
Those who knew the couple said the duchess died of a broken heart.
While I do re-imagine key parts of the Richmonds’ love story—such as the youthful marriage and the first sighting at the opera—Tempting Bella takes its own course as my hero and heroine struggle along their way toward happily ever after.
I also add my own twist by making Bella a future duchess in her own right, meaning she’ll inherit the dukedom once her father passes.
That little tidbit also came about from my research, when I read about Henrietta Godolphin, the 2nd Duchess of Marlborough. Her father, the first Duke of Marlborough, had two sons but neither lived to adulthood. An act of parliament in 1706 allowed the first duke’s daughters to inherit his English titles. Henrietta became a duchess in her own right after her father’s death in 1722. Sadly, like her father, she outlived both of her sons, so the titles passed to her sister’s son.
Before I was published, I entered a number of contests for unpublished writers and Bella’s early marriage and status as a future duchess in her own right were criticized by some judges as historically inaccurate. Once I let judges know both elements were inspired by true events, Tempting Bella started doing well in contests.
You could say that proves the old cliché about truth being stranger than fiction…or at least as interesting. I guess that’s why three of the four books in this series were inspired by real events. They captured my imagination and I ran with it. I hope you like the result!
Which love story, real or imagined, has inspired you? Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of Seducing Charlotte, Book 1, in my Accidental Peers series and a $25 Amazon Gift card. (Rafflecopter here)
The Accidental Peers Series: Book Two
Mirabella can hardly remember the man she married as a girl. And it’s just as well. She feels nothing but contempt for the man who married her for her fortune and promptly forgot she existed.
Since then, Bella’s had no use for the company of gentlemen — until temptation appears in the form of an olive-skinned stranger with haunting eyes the color of a turbulent sea.
Sebastian has been apart from his child bride since their wedding day, after a teenaged marriage forced upon him to rescue his family from certain ruin. His attempt to honor his vows to his absent wife have earned him the nickname, “The Saint.”
But when he encounters an enchanting impish beauty at the opera, Sebastian cannot resist learning who she is. He is thrilled to find she is none other than his long-ago bride.
Already resentful of his early abandonment, Bella is suspicious of her husband’s unusual activities —mysterious midnight outings and apparent liaisons with pretty servant girls. Then there is the mounting evidence that Sebastian is not who he claims to be.
Guarding the painful secret of his true identity, Sebastian is entranced by Bella. Delighted by his good fortune, he is eager to make her his wife in truth. But he soon realizes the beguiling lady has no intention of coming meekly to the marriage bed!
Find it @ Amazon
Tempting Bella | Excerpt
Sebastian Stanhope’s first glimpse of his future wife came minutes before they were bound for all eternity.
He’d rushed from university in a haze of disbelief after receiving the urgent summons from his father. His father now sat across from him during the long carriage journey to the bride’s ancestral home, barely acknowledging his son’s presence, his open disdain crowding the closed space.
Sebastian sucked air into his lungs, his unease growing as the coach-and-four closed the distance between him and the stranger with whom he would be forever intertwined. He should be grateful. Being joined to the daughter of a duke was a much better match than he, a mere mister, had a right to expect. And, more importantly, the alliance would save his family from certain financial ruin.
A mammoth baroque edifice rose into view, dwarfing the surrounding landscape, its numerous chimneys, towers, and domes sprawling across a blue, cloudless sky. Sebastian’s stomach loosened, a faint cramp deep in his belly.
The fortress hovered over them as the carriage jerked to a full stop on the circular drive. The heavy front doors gaped open. Sebastian alighted and strode into the clutches of a murky future, barely noticing the stone-faced butler who showed them in. Squaring his shoulders, he walked ahead of his father through the mirrored hall. His black Hessians clicked a protest against the marble floor, the sound echoing high into the endless ceilings before trembling away.
His hand went to his cravat, adjusting it even though it had been perfectly wrought that morning. He always took care with his grooming because his appearance was not extraordinary. He stood only average in height, lacking the towering elegance of his four brothers. He’d always been different from the rest of the family. His powerful build and dark features lacked the gilded radiance of his lithe brothers. And their father.
Find it @ Amazon
About Diana Quincy
Although I’ve always loved reading and writing, I’m not one of those people who has always known I want to be an author.
I discovered my love of romantic fiction about four years ago, while picking up summer library books for my two boys. I noticed a historical romance by Shirlee Busbee on the end cap and picked it up to browse through while waiting in line to check out our books.
That’s all it took to hook me.
I spent that summer reading every historical romance I could get my hands on.
A few months later, I was motivated to try writing my own story, which resulted in my first manuscript, Compromising Willa.
Now I cannot imagine not writing.
I guess you could say I’m a late bloomer.
I’m now working on my fifth manuscript, which is my first foray into contemporary fiction.
When not bent over my laptop or trying to keep up with the laundry, I enjoy reading, spending time with my family and dream of traveling much more than my current schedule (and budget) allows.
Online, you can find me on Twitter @Diana_Quincy and over at The Dashing Duchesses, where I blog about history and romance with a talented group of authors.
I am a proud member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Washington Romance Writers (WRWDC) and the New Jersey Romance Writers (NJRWA).
I am fortunate to be represented by Kevan Lyon at the Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.