An Interview with a Duchess
MY DIVINELY DECADENT DUKE,
Today, I’ve chosen to interview Her Grace, Cassandra, who is married to the Duke of Althorn, whom she prefers to address as Gordon, throughout the book.
First, a bit of information about the Duchess...
Orphaned and abandoned by family, Lady Cassandra Montgomery yearns for love. Beautiful and innocent, she attracts the attention of a renowned rake, the Duke of Althorn. When her security is threatened, in exchange for his protection, she offers him a proposal for an arranged marriage.
The Duke is at first enraged by the brazen behavior, yet he sees Cassandra as captivating caretaker for his mother, and impossible to resist. He agrees. The arrangement becomes inconvenient because love and sex enter the equation. After her first taste of desire in his arms, she finds the sensual attraction powerful. Finding herself in a family way, she leaves his home, unsure of his love. Will he consider their child entrapment?
Will the Duke admit his love and use his rakish skills to woo Cassandra back to his bed?
Will she believe her husband truly loves her and return to his waiting arms?
Q. Your Grace, when you first met the Duke of Althorn, what did you think of him?
A. I thought he was kind, courageous and wonderful when he came to my rescue in a quiet drawing room of the host at the ball I attended after my fiancé had broken our engagement, an invitation for ridicule by the ton society. The thought of my reputation in tatters at such a rejection, had me shed tears. It was then a handsome gentleman, heretofore unseen, rose from a wingback chair, and offered me a glass of port and his handkerchief. After I sipped the sweet wine in one gulp, and dabbed at my eyes, I spoke in anger and regret. I still remember my words exactly. “It was rude of you to have eavesdropped on an intimate conversation. Is this my evening to meeting nothing but scoundrels?”
Q. Oh my, when did your opinion change of him?
A. Imagine a young woman, inexperienced in the ways of men, being rescued by an acknowledged rake who felt sorry for her. I didn’t want his pity. Nonetheless, he handled the situation with risqué banter and a smile that could charm a nun. I do believe all his suggestions for scandalous behavior were intended to bolster my injured ego. He escorted me to my brothers. Quite a few tongues wagged at the sight of a supposedly engaged woman on the arm of the Duke of Althorn, renowned rake.
Q. When did you meet again?
A. Two weeks after that disastrous evening, I was on the beach looking through my telescope and he came upon me. We recognized each other immediately. His warm greeting pleased me.
In conversation, I sensed a thread of interest when he asked the reason for my search. I mentioned I’d visited a gypsy fortune teller who claimed my life would take a momentous turn. She also foretold I’d meet a handsome prince who would come out of the ocean. Oh, I can see the duke’s salacious smile now. “I regret I’m not the prince you seek, although a duke is next in line of the honorific titles. Will I not suffice?” Not expecting such an offer, I changed the subject, but he immediately brought it back again. “If this god did decide to show himself, I would hope he’d be clothed. All the pictures I’ve seen of Neptune have him stark naked with a rather large…trident in his hands. He might shock you.”
He was so naughty…and invitational. A blush colored my cheeks at my answer at the vision he presented, “Now wouldn’t that be the talk of the ton.” I immediately took a last look at the horizon through my telescope and proceeded to fold it. Ever the gentleman, he assisted.
Q. How did the romance progress?
A. And therein lays the conflict for Cassandra. The last thing Gordon wanted was a future wife. He has a past but he is now the respectable, if not scandalous Duke of Althorn, a dukedom he inherited when his father and the elder brother died. As a second son he had no responsibilities, but now he has them all.
So we have the juxtaposition of two people with a dire need: Security and safety for myself, the sister of an Earl, and my ward, Alicia…the duke with a need for a compassionate, able caretaker for his mother. Desperation led me to offer a marriage of convenience to the duke. At first he was outraged at my arrogance and refused, but the latest caretaker had been dismissed for her callous care of his adored mother.
Orphaned at a young age, with two brothers in the university, I had no sense of family. Not that I blamed my brothers, they were young men intent on doing what such lads do. I spent five summers at finishing school as an instructor, learning how to cook in the kitchens, and in general, I read penny novels. I truly wanted to feel loved. I thought I could have him love me.
After his disastrous rejection of me, he became much too possessive when he saw me in the arms of another man as we danced at a cotillion. And that started it—all over again.
Q. Why did the author indicate you were a unique type of duchess? Aren’t they all the same?
A. I didn’t quite fit the mold for a duchess because I was happier in the kitchens baking rather than ordering staff around. I confess I didn’t cook as much as I used to, but when I needed solace or time to think, I baked. My specialty was Humble Pie Crust. The recipe is available on my author’s website. Ours was a marriage of convenience. The pictures you see below are of myself, and my ward, Alicia, with Alfie, my brother, the earl’s son.
Q. What would you like us to know about Gordon the man you did fall in love with?
A. His Grace emanated strong feelings. You see, one could say I had baggage—a ward who was the child of my best friend. At her deathbed, she begged me to raise her little girl. What else could I do, but give her my solemn promise. I would have someone all my own to love and to love me in return. Little did I know how the gossips would twist my good intention and slander me.
That didn’t stop Gordon. He was used to power and having his every wish performed. We had a business arrangement. I expected nothing in return except that he would keep my ward, Alicia, and me safe from a malicious sister-in-law of mine. I had my own quarters, next to his mother and my ward. He was determined to stay as far away from me as he could.
I functioned as the housekeeper, caretaker for his mother, but never as his wife in the beginning. I fell in love with him almost from the start of our “living together” under the same roof. Oh, he was so gallant and would speak of outrageous subjects.
It was my duty to report my activities of the household at 4 o’clock every day. On one weary such day, he offered me a drink. I accepted. Not used to such alcohol, I passed out. And thereby hangs a tale.
Where and why did he get a tattoo, most unusual for an aristocratic second son and most importantly, who inked him? What is the secret he harbors? What other startling revelations will he learn?
And what does Cassandra mean to him? What else has fate planned for the two of them?
In a fertile mind, these are the situations which ferment and cause a novel to be written. The cover picture of the duke, with his lion clan tattoo, and Cassandra, his duchess, is in the background.
Most of all, what do these pictures represent in the story of My Divinely Decadent Duke. Guess you’ll have to read it to find out.