Never travel alone! Take your readers along on a fictional journey from your past trips to historic or exotic locations. Maybe you are lucky enough to call a beautiful place home. I live on a picturesque Florida Gulf coast barrier island. With its blue green waters, white fine sand and tall palm trees, my island could easily serve as a backdrop for any romantic tale. The City of Palms, Ft. Myers, the winter home of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, is not far away. In my first novella, The Love Gypsy (The Wild Rose Press), Raya Light, the Love Gypsy, lived and kept shop there. Brianna Breeze served as a detective in the Ft. Myers Police Department.
In my new novella, The Duchess’ Necklace (Taliesin Publishing), the character of Amelia Augusta Ethrington, Her Grace the Duchess of Abbington and fourth in line to the British throne, was inspired by a trip we took to visit friends in England ten years ago. Of course, Abbington Manor is a fictional place but its inspiration came from a very real and quite beautiful one. While visiting our friends in Darbyshire, they took us to visit Chatsworth House* in Derbyshire located in the East Midlands Region. Chatsworth is the magnificent residence of the 12th Duke of Devonshire. The manor house stands on the east bank of the river Derwent, looks across two scenic valleys, and is surrounded by 105 acres of colorful lovely gardens and waterworks.
As we walked the gardens and visited as many of the thirty rooms as allowed, my mind wandered thinking about what it would have been like to live as a duchess during the heyday of royalty. Imagine passing by priceless works of art from all over the world including those of the Old Masters and artifacts from ancient Egypt on a daily basis. I could easily get comfortable on the handcrafted furnishings reading leather bound books in front of the library’s massive marble fireplace. As we toured, I fancied walking by beautiful ladies in waiting who graced the halls in long flowing dresses while uniformed servants waited ready to take care of my smallest need. My mind held onto this fantasy for years. When I began to write The Duchess’ Necklace, I knew that her fictional residence and her life style would be influenced by my visit to Chatsworth.
But what kind of woman would my fictional 18th century duchess be? I like to write about strong, independent, and feisty heroines like Brianna Breeze so I knew my duchess had to be ahead of her time especially in romance. Amelia was too free spirited to share her title thus relinquishing her power to any man, or at least not to any man she met in her time. She remained an “old maid” even though she was in her mid-thirties. She had trysts with strangers, knights and other lesser royals seeking favor, but would not marry for fear of losing her power and wealth as a duchess. She loved jewelry and the exquisite necklace that served as her crown was passed down to her from her great uncle. Whoever wore the necklace loaded with emeralds and diamonds, was the rightful heir to the duchy. Amelia was proud of her heritage and wore it daily.
After a tryst with a known Traveler from the present, Amelia finds her necklace stolen and her most trusted guard killed. The duchess knows she must Travel to the present, seek out the scoundrel and reclaim her necklace before rival heirs claim her manor. Once in the present, she meets a handsome jewelry appraiser from the Smithsonian. Amelia is soon faced with the most difficult decision of her life. True Love or her duchy?
Where is the most romantic place you have ever visited and why?
*FOR MOVIE BUFFS: Chatsworth has served as the setting for “Pride and Prejudice”, “The Duchess” and “The Wolfman.” PBS recently aired a documentary on Chatsworth.
A kingdom for a horse? What would you give up for love?
Amelia Augusta Ethrington, eighteenth century Duchess of Abbington and fourth in line to the English throne, is considered by society an old maid at thirty-two. She refuses to marry and relinquish her authority to a husband. Instead, she finds romance in trysts with strangers. Amelia’s claim to her duchy is embodied in the form of an intricate and valuable necklace, The Abbington Jewels. But an unscrupulous time Traveler wishing to steal the jewels and sell them at future prices seduces her, catching her off guard, and snatches the necklace.
Amelia must risk everything to Travel with the aid of a gypsy seer to find the scoundrel, kill him, and retrieve her necklace before her jealous male cousins lay claim to her duchy. Complications arise after she meets Ryan Redstone, a museum appraiser sent to acquire the jewels. Amelia finally falls in love but knows she must focus on her quest to regain both her necklace and title. The Duchess is faced with the most difficult decision of her life. Love in the present? Or defending her honor in the past?
It didn’t take long for his carriage to reach the riverfront. We stopped. Ryan leaned over and kissed my cheek whispering in my ear.
“Let’s go back to my room. It’s just upstairs. You can tell me what your secret is in private. I trust you and hope you trust me.”
Ryan helped me out of his carriage. We climbed the one flight of steps up to his room. Once inside, I sat down on the bed and stared out the window before giving him a serious look.
“This is not how I planned to tell you. I hoped to wait until we saw if the necklace was genuine. You must listen to me before passing judgment. I hope that you will still want to keep me in your heart afterward. ”
Ryan closed the drapes before sitting down next to me.
“Amy, how could I help but keep you in my heart no matter what your secret is?”
He squeezed my hand as I touched his lips with the gentlest kiss. Ryan filled me with a deep passion. I was ready to reveal my desire for him. I hoped he felt the same way. I knew what I wanted and decided to show him how I felt in a special manner. Standing up, I slowly removed Starr’s silk floral sash and placed it around his neck. I stepped back to dance the seductive dance of the gypsy women who camped outside my childhood manor house grounds. They had always looked graceful, bracelets jingling, ribbon colored skirts twirling as they turned and twisted by their campfire in the moonlight. They seduced traveling knights and lesser royals hoping for romantic trysts out of their coin. I had heard the gypsy’s haunting songs and desired to get a better look. I became quite good at sneaking out night after night, hoping not to get caught. I watched them dance, hiding in some nearby bushes. One night, a beautiful gypsy spotted my hiding place and grabbed me. To my surprise, she had me stand and taught me their dance.
I wanted my necklace but strange as it sounds, I wanted Ryan more. I removed my blouse first, touching his face with its soft perfumed cotton. I swirled, kicking off my shoes and stepping out of my skirt. I seduced him taking off each undergarment until I stripped myself bare. His face flushed with reluctance but finally gave in. He stared at my naked body, his eyes intoxicated with passion. I have been with enough men to know he liked what he saw. Holding onto my hand, I pulled him up and helped him disrobe. His body was as muscular as a bull’s. We lay down together. His touch was gentle, making my body desire him more. We made sweet love until we became so tired, we both fell asleep. Our nap was all too brief. Ryan was the first to wake up. He whispered my name, “Amy, wake up sweetheart.”
I stretched remembering where I was and what I needed to tell him. My feelings for him made it more complicated now.
You can buy The Duchess’ Necklace at:
You can buy The Love Gypsy at:
Bio: Ever dream of traveling through time? Mariah Lynne does. She writes stories that take her readers along on exciting journeys. Travel to distant times and beautiful places with strong-willed independent heroines whose memorable tales will entertain with twisted plots that dabble in the paranormal.
A graduate of Syracuse University, Mariah lives on a beautiful Gulf Coast Island in Florida. She owned a video store on the island for twenty years and wrote entertainment columns for two island newspapers. She also contributed to a yearbook of successful people by ghostwriting their biographies for them. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and The Southwest Florida Romance Writers. When she is not writing, she enjoys swimming, traveling and spending time with her husband and dolphin hunting dog, Max, a shelter adoptee.