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Agents of the Crown
The Agents of the Crown books—set in 1814-15 England about two former spies—will always be special to me because they mark my first foray into epistolary techniques. In To Catch an Heiress, Caroline Trent keeps a "personal dictionary," in which she defines a word and then uses it in a sentence. Each chapter begins with one of her entries, and her chosen sentence provides (often hilarious) insight into the story.
How to Marry a Marquis also employed an epistolary device, this time a book-within-the-book. Elizabeth Hotchkiss is constantly consulting a regency-era dating advice guide, generally with poor results.
I enjoyed Caroline's dictionary and Elizabeth's guidebook so much that I went on to use similar devices in many later books: gossip columns, excerpts from gothic novels, diary entries, and the like.
Even though How To Marry A Marquis was written and published after Minx, it’s actually set earlier. Minx takes place 1816/7, and How To Marry A Marquis takes place in 1815. As I was writing How To Marry A Marquis, I needed a dashing, handsome bachelor for one of the scenes. When it occurred to me that Dunford was still single, I thought to myself, “Why not?” It was a lot of fun to revisit him.
That was my original plan, but I was sidetracked by the Bridgertons, and then so much time had passed that the Hotchkiss family just wasn’t forefront in my mind. Right now I don’t have any specific plans to write about them, but anything is possible!