Secondary characters and how they must have their own story!
A Touch of Passion, book #3 in my USA Today bestselling Disgraced Lord’s series is released on 24 March 2015. I thought I’d do something a bit different and talk about the secondary characters in the book—or one in particular.
As I was writing the story, a secondary character, Rose, the Duchess of Roxborough, sparked my imagination.
You’ve probably heard that characters talk to authors, or they do to me. My heroine, Lady Portia Flagstaff, introduced me to her best friend Rose. I came to know Rose through Portia and Rose soon became a favorite, so much so that I’ll write Rose’s story. In addition, Rose is now going to show up in the rest of the Disgraced Lords books (books#4-#6).
Rose’s story is a common one in Regency romances. She was manipulated by her family into marry the very elderly Duke of Roxborough, for position and money. Thankfully, he had the grace to die within two years of marriage, leaving Rose a very wealthy, beautiful widow with a young son, the future Duke of Roxborough.
Let’s listen in on a conversation…
London, December 1815
“Don’t you dare get out of this carriage.”
Portia ignored Rose’s command, one of the few people who could. Not many denied the Duchess of Roxborough when she used that tone of voice. Instead, she continued to stare into the darkening night.
It wasn’t as if they were in the wilds of Scotland. The streets around the Thames, and especially where the boats left to row to the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, were teeming with people. Noise, smells, and a brisk breeze swirled around them in comforting normalness. What could possibly go wrong? She’d have her footman with her. Any apprehension churning in her stomach had more to do with whom she was meeting and what his summons meant.
Since Grayson’s return from Waterloo he had been a changed man. Robert’s death and the terrible injuries suffered by Grayson’s friend Lord Markham had destroyed the fun-loving rake. He blamed himself, and Portia knew that wasn’t fair.
Rose added, “I swear I’ll end our friendship. Going into this crowd is foolhardy.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. As if I’d fall for that threat! Since the age of five, when we became friends, you’ve threatened to terminate our friendship too many times for me to take you seriously.”
“Women have been known to go missing from Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens.” Rose pretended to shiver in the confines of Portia’s luxurious carriage. She pulled a fur throw over her knees for effect. “Perhaps I should accompany you?”
Portia would have taken Rose’s warning more seriously if it hadn’t been accompanied by a small giggle. “You are just as eager as I am to understand why Grayson wants to meet me here of all places.”
“Exactly. Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens is no place for a lady to roam unescorted. I’m surprised Lord Blackwood suggested meeting here. Once you get on the rowboat with him you cannot turn back. Perhaps that is his plan.” She flashed Portia one of her wicked smiles. “I’m not sure I approve.”
Exasperation bubbled up inside her. “That’s not what you said over half an hour ago. You thought Grayson requesting me to meet him here was a sign he was finally interested. The beginning of a romantic liaison, you said.”Rose shrugged her delicate shoulders and pulled the fur higher up her body. “I was simply hoping for the best. He’s the reason you’ve reached four and twenty unmarried.”
Thank goodness the dim carriage hid the flush heating her face. “Grayson, along with every other rake in London, is the reason I remain unmarried.” She did not want to admit the handsome and charismatic Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, was the only man who made her heart long for more. “I may not wish to give up my freedom in marriage—I see no benefit at all in doing so—but that does not mean I wish to remain ignorant of the joys to be had in this life. You positively glow when a man is sharing your bed.”
“I’m allowed to glow. I’m a widow, remember? Society would unleash holy hell upon you if the unmarried Lady Portia Flagstaff were caught ‘experimenting’ with passion. They already frown upon your occupation with the cider mill, and that is the least of your black marks in their eyes. Don’t annoy the sleeping beast.”
Her cider mill had started as a hobby because she was bored. Now her Garden Cider was sought after in all the fine houses from Somerset to London. The money she made was funding a school for orphans near her family’s estate. Even though she ran the cider mill for charity, society still managed to frown on the fact she insisted on being involved in the day-to-day running of the business. The men did not like that a young woman could set up and run a successful business. They had tried to blacklist her cider; however, it was so good that people bought it anyway.
Portia stared back out into the night, nerves stretched taut. Swinging back to Rose, she said, “Unfair. Just because you married a man old enough to be your grandfather and he had the decency to die not long after, you’re free to enjoy life to the fullest. While I must toe the line of respectability, men can behave virtually however they wish. I wouldn’t even be allowed to run my business except for the fact that first my brother Robert was the nominal head of the business, and since his death Philip has been.” She looked down her nose. “It allows men to pretend a woman has not succeeded in their world.”Rose shook her beautifully coiffed head. “Sometimes I think it would have been kinder if your mother had borne six boys instead of five boys and you.”
Portia shrugged and said the one thing that would silence Rose. “But then you wouldn’t have met Philip.” She’d been wondering how to bring up the subject of Rose’s affair with her brother. “I hope you won’t hurt him. I can already see he’s fallen under your spell, as most men do, and I’d hate to lose you as a friend.”
Ah, Rose is in love with Portia’s brother. It’s a classic the best friend’s brother story. That’s when I realized Rose had to let me tell her story and allow me to give her a happy ever after.
I hope you check out Portia’s story though. She’s become one of my favorite heroines because she knows that life is to be lived.
Here’s the blurb for A Touch of Passion:
In the latest Disgraced Lords novel from USA Today bestselling author Bronwen Evans, a vivacious thrill seeker clashes with her dutiful defender—causing irresistible sparks to fly.
Independent and high-spirited, Lady Portia Flagstaff has never been afraid to take a risk, especially if it involves excitement and danger. But this time, being kidnapped and sold into an Arab harem is the outcome of one risk too many. Now, in order to regain her freedom, she has to rely on the deliciously packaged Grayson Devlin, Viscount Blackwood, a man who despises her reckless ways—and stirs in her a thirst for passion.
After losing his mother and sibling in a carriage accident years ago, Grayson Devlin promised Portia’s dying brother that he’d always watch over his wayward sister. But having to travel to Egypt to rescue the foolhardy girl has made his blood boil. Grayson already has his hands full trying to clear his best friend and fellow Libertine Scholar of a crime he didn’t commit. Worse still, his dashing rescue has unleashed an unforeseen and undesired consequence: marriage. Now it’s more than Portia he has to protect . . . it’s his battered heart.
Advance praise for A Touch of Passion
“Bronwen Evans spins a sexy romp in A Touch of Passion, as a lord who doesn’t dare love is locked in passionate battle with a woman who will accept nothing less. And may the best woman win!”—New York Times bestselling author Mary Jo Putney