Heroines Are People Too - Julia London

The DANGERS of DECEIVING A VISCOUNT, the third book in my Desperate Debutantes series, is about a twenty-two year-old woman in 1822. Her family’s funds have dwindled, she’s gotten herself into a predicament trying to keep up appearances, and ends up posing as a tradeswoman at the estate of a very handsome and virile viscount. Close quarters lead to a growing, mutual attraction and lots of lusty thoughts. My unmarried, virginal heroine is very tempted to give in to those lusty thoughts.

Who wouldn’t be tempted when presented with a handsome man in a mansion?

Historical romances, if they are true to the times and tone of early nineteenth century literature, usually include virginal heroines who are seduced, duped—or do the duping—into marriage. The typical happy-ever-after in an historical is when the heroine lands the handsome wealthy lord and all the attendant perks that go along with that. That’s why we love the books!

The heroines who succeed are clever, and they know how to give as good as they get. But they are conscious of their virtue at all times, for we have come to understand from nineteenth century literature that a woman who lost her virtue lost everything.

On the other hand, there are some lusty and interesting biographies of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century women—Georgianna; Caroline, Princess of Wales; the sisters of George IV, to name a few. These biographies tell another side of the historical heroine. Those documents suggest that women were human and were sometimes brought down by temptation. Adultery and pre-marital sex were not unheard of, and frankly, in some circles, while it was frowned upon, it seems like it was almost expected.

That got me to thinking—a twenty-one year old woman with no prospects and no beaus might view life a little differently than what we’ve come to believe. She might be sorely tempted when opportunity presents itself, because for all she knows, it might be her only opportunity. I’m not suggesting she would throw her virtue away…but I’m suggesting she might. She might at least consider it…especially if she’d assumed a different identity and knew no one would be the wiser. Especially if she’d fallen in love. And it helps knowing that if she gives into her desires, there are a lot of tricks that would make her at least appear to be a virgin if she should ever marry.

That is the romantic premise of THE DANGERS OF DECEIVING A VISCOUNT. My heroine is an unmarried woman who knows what society expects of her, but also knows what her adult body wants and needs. She is human. She is tempted. She’s in love. She weighs the consequences, but in the end, her heart rules, just as it does for every one.

This book was really interesting to write. I threw off all the characteristics I thought an historical heroine should have and built Phoebe from scratch. I hope you like the result.

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