There’s always a “story behind the story.” Sometimes, I tuck it into a set of author’s notes at the end of the book in case readers wonder what the true history that inspired my tales may be. Here are the facts that helped shape Waking Up with a Rake:
In November of 1817, Princess Charlotte died after giving birth to a stillborn boy. She was the sole legitimate grandchild of King George III, the only daughter of the Prince Regent and his estranged wife. It didn’t take a leap of genius for the younger unmarried sons of King George to realize that they had an opportunity to beget a future monarch. And so the “Hymen Race Terrific,” as the London tabloids called it, began.
Three royal dukes were in contention— the Duke of Cambridge, the Duke of Kent, and the Duke of Clarence, who features in Waking Up with a Rake. Clarence sired ten illegitimate children upon an actress with whom he lived for twenty years. He was perpetually in debt and actually had tried to woo a great heiress earlier in his life, but the match was forbidden by an Act of Parliament because the lady was a commoner. It made me think it was no great stretch for me to have him pursue Miss Olivia Symon, my commoner heroine.
In July 1818, the Duke of Clarence married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen, a woman half his age. Clarence set aside his mistress, and his new wife welcomed his nine surviving children into their home. By all reports, the marriage was a happy one, and since his frugal German wife took his finances in hand, Clarence’s debts began to shrink.
In June 1830, at the age of sixty- four, the Duke of Clarence ascended to the British throne to become King William IV. But he and his queen were never blessed with children of their own, so though he eventually wore the crown, the Duke of Clarence did not win the “Hymen Race Terrific.”
That is a tale for another duke…