"If you were sensible of your own good, you would not wish to quit the sphere in which you have been brought up.'' Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Pride & Prejudice
Thank you so much for having me! Your blog is such a fun mix of products and book reviews. I laughed when I saw that you had become coupon crazy—you need to meet my husband! Lately, if he doesn't save at least 20 percent of his final bill at the grocery store, he sees the entire trip as less-than-satisfactory. I've always been thrifty myself and think it must stem from the fact that my father was the only child of a woman born in 1889. He was born late in her life and I was born late in his life, so only one generation separates me from a woman who, as my father used to say, was born in the time of a horse and carriage and lived to see a man on the moon.
My husband was raised on a farm in the Midwest in similarly modest circumstances. He tells the story of the first time his grandfather went to a restaurant (probably a tiny café in a town of 200 people). When the little boy told his grandfather about it, the older man was appalled. "You are a farmer! Why would you ever eat at a store?" Eventually, this type of thinking becomes ingrained. It's not about deprivation; it's about prudence. It was utterly inconceivable to my husband's great-great-grandfather that someone in his family would pay for something that grew in abundance for free all around them.
This is all leading to my book, I swear! I think all of my heroes and heroines possess a similar mindset. Even though I created a fictional world of luxury and aristocratic splendor, I tried to make sure that the characters within it were forced to be honest about money. Financial tension has always been one of my favorite themes of Jane Austen's novels ("Ten thousand a year!"), so I knew early on that it would be a major part of my books.
In A Royal Pain, when Bronte first meets Max, part of the reason she falls for him (other than his staggering good looks and British accent, of course) is that he spends his time in a secondhand bookstore. I strike up conversations with people in the used book section of my local thrift shop all the time. My frequent stacks of vintage Harlequins are usually a point of interest—or concern— for many! The fact that Max shops in a secondhand bookstore immediately endears him to Bronte, who is just beginning to recover from an ill-conceived relationship with someone who is totally reckless, both emotionally and financially.
When Max turns out to be wealthy beyond Bronte's wildest imaginings—or anyone else's imaginings, for that matter—that becomes almost more of a stumbling block than his pedigree. Not that Bronte is at a loss to create stumbling blocks: as the old saying goes, she could mess up a milkshake. Still. She was faced with the very real challenge of what Lady Catherine de Bourgh referred to as "quitting her sphere."
In one way or another, all of my books deal with crossing these social boundaries. Lizzie Bennet stood up to Lady Catherine with her infamous retort: "He is a gentleman; I am a gentleman's daughter; so far we are equal." I write modern fairy tales so I can dream of a time when that sentiment is distilled even further to something like, "He is a good person; I am a good person; so far we are equal."
Have you ever quit your sphere? Was it terrifying or exhilarating?
Thanks again for having me here at the Minding Spot!
Smart, ambitious, and career driven, Bronte Talbot started following British royalty in the gossip mags only to annoy her intellectual father. But her fascination has turned into a not-so-secret guilty pleasure. When she starts dating a charming British doctoral student, she teases him unmercifully about the latest scandals of his royal countrymen, only to find out—to her horror!!—that she's been having a fling with the nineteenth Duke of Northrop, and now he wants to make her...a duchess?
In spite of her frivolous passion for all things royal, Bronte isn't at all sure she wants the reality. Is becoming royalty every American woman's secret dream, or is it a nightmare of disapproving dowagers, paparazzi, stiff-upper-lip tea parties, and over-the-top hats?