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  • Susanna Allen

Happy Valentines Day...

So what happened was: because the internet is the world's library, I easily found the dates for the Season of 1817; every year, such dates were habitually determined by the sitting of Parliament. Thanks to Plot, I needed Miss Felicity Templeton's birthday to fall at the end of that Season, which was early in the year, and additional research revealed that Valentines Day was A Thing in the era.

The bonus? V-Day is in fact one of the oldest observances in recorded history, and it derives from the Roman festival of Lupercalia, which handily became a significant date in Alfred, Duke of Lowell's quest for his vera amoris, or 'true mate'.

This, to me, is the magic of writing: one thing leading to another, with several disparate elements coming together to make meaning. One discovery inspired the next, and most of all, allowed me to demonstrate how much Alfred had to learn about courtship, as you will read here...


It is Felicity's first meal in Lowell Hall. She's not sure why the entire staff of the great house is present, but she is doing her best to the conversation flowing...

“Your Grace, as regards community, Mary Mossett mentioned a feast, or a fete? A country fete? Something with a Latin name.” A squeak sounded in the corner. His Grace waved a hand. “It is like to Saint Valentine’s Day, which is growing in popularity.” “Ah.” Felicity blushed. “The fourteenth of February is in fact my birthday.” A communal gasp resounded through the air; Bates looked at her in surprise, and O’Mara—of all things, the taciturn chamberlain threw her head back and laughed. “Miss O’Mara?” “Many, many happy returns, Your Grace, in advance.” She raised her wine glass in a toast. “I don’t understand the fuss that has sprung up around this single day,” Bates grumbled, and the females in the room exchanged a rueful, arch glance. “It is a scheme on the parts of the confectioners and the printing industry,” the duke groused. “I pay no mind to it.” Despite the roaring fires, the temperature in the room plummeted to freezing. “In the past,” O’Mara said, in her palliative voice. “our Alph—Alf, Alfred, Duke of Lowell, had no reason to honor the day, but the present is altogether changed.” The room seemed to hang on Felicity’s next utterance. She waved away the wine footman and allowed the serving footman to take her plate and leave another course, which ought to have been fish but appeared to be venison; this was not the only curious thing she’d noticed about the meal. She sliced a portion, raised it to her lips, chewed, and swallowed. Only then did she respond. “One must often make allowances for the wishes of others, is that not so, Your Grace?” “Possibly,” he growled. “It is often when one is at his most stubborn that it is necessary to compromise.” “Compromise.” The duke made it sound like the foulest of epithets. “I would argue that it is at such a juncture it is most necessary to do so.” “Is it.” “It is. I believe it provides one with the opportunity to build character.” “Such an undertaking requires change.” “It does.” Felicity beamed

Don't feel satisfied too soon, Felicity! Alfred will immediately dig himself even deeper...


"A playful mix of humor, fantasy, and Regency romance conventions, this genre-bending novel introduces a well-constructed world filled with distinctive and endearing characters." - Publishers Weekly

A Wolf in Duke's Clothing is the first instalment in The Shapeshifters of the Beau Monde series, available now from all good booksellers!

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