History Hoydens


Historical Romance Writers Dishing the Dirt on Research

06 November 2012

Feel the love with ROYAL ROMANCES

My fourth nonfiction "royal" book for NAL, ROYAL ROMANCES, Titillating Tales of Passion and Power in the Palaces of Europe, releases today!

More breathtaking than any fairy tale, here are seven scandalous, seductive centuries of all-for-love royal desire . . .

Elegant palaces, dazzling power plays, shimmering jewels, and the grandest of all-or-nothing gambles—nothing can top real-life love among the royalty. Louis XIV defied God and law, permitting his married mistress Madame de Montespan to usurp the role of Queen of France, then secretly wed her successor, Madame de Maintenon. Grigory Potemkin was a worthy equal in Catherine the Great’s bed as well as in Russia’s political arena. Dashing Count Axel von Fersen risked everything to save Marie Antoinette’s life more than once—and may have returned her passion. The unshakable devotion of the beloved late “Queen Mum” helped King George VI triumph over his, and England’s, darkest hours. And the unpretentious, timelessly glamorous—even relatable—union of Prince William and the former Kate Middleton continues to enthrall the world.

Full of marvelous tales, unforgettable scandals, and bedazzled nobles who refused to rule their hearts, this delightfully insightful book is what the sweetest royal dreams are made of...
 Some of the cast of characters in ROYAL ROMANCES have been profiled in my other books (for example, I spotlight extramarital affairs in this book where I covered the marriage in a previous volume), which gave me the chance to revisit an old friend (or, in Napoleon's case, an old adversary -- I'm still a Lord Nelson girl!) and delve into another corner of his or her life. Determining whether or not Marie Antoinette did consummate her passion for Axel von Fersen -- with my nonfiction hat on -- set the game afoot for my inner history detective.  
And along the way I discovered that a few historical figures whom centuries of history had maligned, such as Louis XIV's maîtresse en titre Athénaïs de Montespan -- who was dubbed "the real queen of France" -- and Grigory Potemkin, Empress Catherine the Great's "Grand Passion" -- were such complex and compelling people that I would have loved to go back in time and get to know them.
Ever notice that "doppelgänger" stories tend to come out?  As ROYAL ROMANCES was in galleys, a Danish movie was released titled A Royal Affair, starring the handsome international star Mads Mikkelsen, which dramatized the scandalous romance between Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark (the youngest sister of England's King George III) and Johann Struensee, the German-born physician to her husband, the insane King Christian VII.
 I spend so much time with the historical figures that I research that they do seem like friends, enemies, or frenemies by the time the book is published.  When I visit their portraits or furnishings in museums, I get an "of course!" feeling as though I've been there before and am saying hi to an old pal again. That's how I felt when I was in London at the end of September for the Historical Novel Society conference and went to Hampton Court Palace with fellow author Gillian Bagwell to see the exhibit of portraiture from Charles II's reign -- gazing at all the court beauties who were his mistresses.
Gillian and I agreed, as we gazed at  full length portrait of Charles II, that he was undoubtedly one of England's sexiest kings and if we'd been Barbara Castlemaine or Nell Gwyn or Louise de Keroualle or Hortense de Mancini or ... we'd have fallen for him, too!  Not only that, we agreed that he was a better king than history gives him credit for -- as we ruminated that most people, if they think of CII at all, think of Charles's priapic and aesthetic interests before they focus on his efforts at governance in a very contentious, fraught time for England.

Which brings me to my penultimate point, if you are reading this in America on November 6, 2012.  VOTE! Women fought and literally starved themselves to win our right to vote. You have nothing better to do today!

And -- returning to distant, historical worlds and the world of ROYAL ROMANCES: if you were to engage in a romance with a royal figure from the past or present -- who would it be?


Blogger Tracy Grant said...

Belated happy release day, Leslie! This book sounds wonderful. Did it leave you particularly wanting to write a novel about any of the couples? As a side note, the Merola Opera Program's benefit last spring was called A Royal Affair. We had so much fun with the title (and it was a great event to dress for :-).

3:49 PM  
Blogger Leslie Carroll said...

OOOh -- I didn't know, and wish I could have attended!

And for any hoyden readers who live in the Washington DC-Metro area, I will be doing a holiday booksigning on Saturday December 8 at 2pm at the Books a Million on Dupont Circle. It will be lots of fun!! And I look forward to meeting my readers!

1:53 PM  

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