Back in the era of black and white television, The Patty Duke Show reigned supreme. The premise revolved around a rambunctious American girl (Patty Lane) and her identical, sophisticated Scottish cousin (Cathy Lane), who comes to live with her extended American family. Although the two girls resemble one another, they are polar opposites in terms of their tastes and personalities, thus leading to conflict.
Perhaps my memories of the Patty Duke Show might have had a little to do with fashioning the premise for my Victorian novel, Rake & Romance. Inspiration comes from unlikely sources sometimes!
The cousins in Rake & Romance may resemble one another outwardly, but they could not be more different. Blackhearted Lord Gryphon is ungentlemanly in every respect whereas his cousin, Cody Gryphon, is everything worthy in a fellow–and a hero.
Like the first novel in the Beaucroft Girls series, a ruse is involved. Sweet and lovely Juliet isn’t quite as daring as her elder sister, however, and her efforts to create a creditable ruse don’t go quite as she plans.
Enjoy a sneak peek! ~ Suzanne
Cody looked dashing and sophisticated in his elegantly tailored clothes, and Juliet was seized with an attack of nerves. Nevertheless, she cleared her throat and gave him a direct glance meant to convey a businesslike demeanor rather than one of coquetry.
“I’d like you to ruin me.” Despite her best intentions, her words were immediately followed by a blush. Why couldn’t she be more dispassionate?
His eyebrows rose. “What?”
“Just a little ruination, mind you. Nothing that can’t be hushed up in a few months or so.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m not understanding you at all.”
“You’re aware, of course, of the arrangement between Lord Moregate and your father regarding Stephanie and Lord Elbourne.”
“Yes. My father is quite keen on the subject.”
“What you don’t know is that Augustus has been widely expected to propose to me.”
“Actually, I’d heard rumors to that effect.”
Juliet’s eyes widened. “I hope Stephanie hasn’t heard those rumors!”
“Not of which I’m aware.”
A sigh of relief. “Good.”
“I’m sorry for any injury this arrangement has done to you. I can tell you’re quite partial to Lord Elbourne.”
“I am partial to Augustus, and would have accepted his proposal if he’d asked. But after a careful examination of my feelings, I can truly say I’m not in love with him.”
“You’re not?” His eyebrows drew together. “If your feelings aren’t injured, then what’s this about?”
“Once society learns Augustus has thrown me off, I’ll become an object of ridicule. I mean to publicly throw him off before anyone hears about his engagement to Stephanie. For that, I need you to ruin me…ever so slightly.”
He looked at her askance. “Won’t your reputation be forevermore tarnished?”
“I’d rather be a little tarnished than humiliated, Mr. Gryphon. An earl is about to pass me over for another woman. Do you really think my prospects will be improved by such a spectacular rejection?” She averted her eyes. “If I’m to be ruined anyway, I’d rather choose the method.”
“Have you no thought to my reputation?”
She waved her hands, dismissively. “Stephanie says you’re a rake, doesn’t she? Therefore, nobody will think less of you than they already do now. Amongst your male acquaintances, I daresay the rumor of a passing indiscretion would be well received. Besides which, you’re leaving for Texas before too long, so what does your reputation matter?”
“Of course.” He folded his arms over his chest. “For the sake of curiosity, what sort of ruination did you have in mind?
Blurb: Juliet’s plans to wed Lord Elbourne come to naught when she discovers he’s obliged to wed an heiress instead. To salvage her dignity, she enters into a ruse with the heiress’s brother, whom she views as a rake. Unfortunately, he’s also the most attractive man she’s ever met.
Cody Gryphon will do anything to see his sister Stephanie wed to Lord Elbourne, including entering into a temporary engagement with her romantic rival. Although he intends to return to Texas as soon as his sister is wed, he finds it increasingly difficult to resist Juliet’s charms.
Can a rake and a debutante find their happily ever after?