Inside The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen
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Inside The Making of a Duchess by Shana Galen
When I was a kid in school, I didn’t love history. The dry textbook descriptions didn’t fire my imagination. I remember reading about the French Revolution, filing away dates and names and then moving on to the next chapter.
But when I read A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, I couldn’t turn my imagination off. Suddenly, I could see the horror of the Revolution. I could hear the mobs at the guillotine, picture the poor aristocrats, many of them innocent, waiting in prison for their turn under the blade. Whole families, children included, were sent to their deaths.
When I began to write The Making of a Duchess I wanted to capture that same sense of the Revolution. Julien, my hero, is the son of a French duc and his family’s chateau is attacked by peasants when he’s only 13. He and his mother make a harrowing escape to England, but the rest of the family and many of their servants are not so fortunate.
I wondered what a childhood experience like that would do to a man. Certainly, he might seek vengeance. He might even seek retribution. But Julien seeks his lost twin brothers. He’s convinced the boys survived the attack and has made it his life’s work to find them. This requires frequent trips to and from France, which captures the attention of the British government. Julien is suspected of spying for the French and a spy—Sarah, my heroine—is sent to uncover his treachery. And when Sarah falls in love with Julien, the very man she is charged with sending to his death for treason, the story takes another complicated turn. You see, Sarah isn’t really a spy at all…
Here’s an excerpt from the novel capturing the moment when Julien and Sarah first mee:
A moment later, the duchesse was gone, and Sarah was alone in the ornate drawing room. She turned this way and that, afraid to touch anything. Oh, how she hated all of this lying and playacting! But the faster she completed this mission, the sooner she could return to life as a governess. Perhaps she could find the evidence Sir Northrop wanted now, and then she would be able to tuck Anne and Edmund into bed tonight.
With new purpose, she moved about the room, looking for a desk or table with a drawer—anything that would hold or conceal papers. She passed a large painting of an Italian noblewoman and then halted and whipped back around. Was that a—no.
She leaned closer. Was that a Titian?
Oh, Lord. Oh, my. Just how wealthy was this family? An actual Titian! And then another thought occurred to her—with wealth came power. What would happen if the Valères discovered she was not who she claimed? Would she be thrown in prison?
Even worse, what if the duc de Valère was a spy? If he realized she had found him out, he might see the need to be rid of her. Permanently.
She put a hand to her belly to still its roiling. She could not worry about that right now. She had to keep her chin up and her wits about her. She tried focusing on the Titian.
She wished she could put her spectacles on in order to read the signature, but The Widow had forbid her to do so unless absolutely necessary. So Sarah squinted and leaned in close, lifting one hand toward what looked like a scribble.
"I wouldn't touch that if you want to keep my mother's favor," a deep voice said from behind her.
Sarah swung around, knocking a bowl off a nearby side table. It shattered loudly when it hit the gleaming wood floor.
"Oh!" She looked from the shattered bowl to the man standing in the drawing room's entrance.
It was him. She knew it.
This was the duc de Valère. The spy. The traitor. The man who might kill her if he knew what she had been sent to do.
Her stomach clenched again, and grabbing the vase nearest her, she promptly cast up her accounts.
© Shana Galen, Sourcebooks Casablanca, 2010
What about you? Did you love history? Hate it? I’ll be checking in later to read your answers.
I hope you’ll pick up The Making of a Duchess on June 1st. Visit my website at www.shanagalen.com for more excerpts and contests.
THE MAKING OF A DUCHESS by SHANA GALEN—IN STORES JUNE 2010
A very dangerous attraction…
Julien Harcourt, duc de Valère, is more than willing to marry the lovely young lady his mother has chosen. Little does he know, she’s been sent to prove him a spy and a traitor…
And an even more dangerous secret…
Sarah Smith’s mission is to find out whether the Duc’s trips to the Continent are as innocent as he claims, but the way he looks at her is far from innocent…
Their risky game of cat and mouse propels them from the ballrooms of London to the prisons of Paris, and into a fragile love that may not survive their deceptions…
About the Author
Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of one daughter and two spoiled cats. She loves to hear from readers: visit her website at www.shanagalen.com.