by Mary Jo
This week, Kensington has reissued my early romance, The Bargain, which got me to thinking about the long journey this story has. It started life as my third Signet Regency, The Would Be Widow. I was very much a neophyte at the time, and several of my writing traits first appeared here.
To begin with, I connected the story to my first book, The Diabolical Baron, by making the hero of The Baron the best friend of the hero of the Widow, and a key player in the story. Without even realizing it, I had started writing a community, and that has served me well as those books turned into a de facto series, and series are really popular now!
Secondly, this was the first book where there was a difficult man who proved unexpectedly interesting at the last moment, so naturally I had to immediately write a book about him. (The man was Rafael Whitbourne, the Duke of Candover, and his book was The Controversial Countess, later revised as Petals in the Storm, about which more anon. Reggie Davenport in The Diabolical Baron was a similarly problematic character who ended up with his own book: The Rake and the Reformer, now The Rake. But I didn't write that for another year or two.)
The Would Be Widow is a perfect title for this story: a young woman needs to marry by her 25th birthday in order to secure her inheritance and she doesn't want to marry at random when she has her eye on a man she really wants, and he seems interested in her, too. It's not long after Waterloo, so she visits a London military hospital to see a friend, and is struck with the brilliant idea of marrying a dying man, which will fulfill the terms of her father's will while soon freeing her to pursue the man she wants.