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Matchmaking for Characters

Romance author Isabella Bradford shares with us exactly how she creates the chemistry that bring the heroines and heroes of her novels together.

Many thanks to all of you who have made the Wylder Sisters trilogy such a success! There’s one more sister to marry, and she’ll soon have her story (and her hero) in When the Duke Found Love, to be published by Ballantine Books on November 27, right after Thanksgiving.

The old saying about how there’s someone for everybody certainly is true for writing romances. When a new story is first floating around in my head, usually either the heroine or the hero first comes to life. I have no idea why this happens – it’s another of the mysteries of writing – but once this character is in my head, explaining the story from his or her point of view, then my role becomes much easier. I’m not just the writer. I’m the matchmaker. It’s up to me to create their perfect mate, and make sure the two of them live happier ever after, or at least happily after they sort through all the romantic trials I throw in their way. You know, to test them.

Lady Diana Wylder was the first character in my head for When the Duke Found Love. Diana didn’t have to do much elbowing to move to the front of the pack of characters in my head. As the third and youngest of the Wylder sisters, she had been waiting patiently as a secondary character while her older sisters had books of their own (When You Wish Upon a Duke and When the Duchess Said Yes), and it was inevitable that her turn would come at last.

Still, inevitability doesn’t sit well with writers, or at least not with me. While the two older sister were matched with a pair of delightful dukes by their father, her mother arranged a much less agreeable bridegroom for Diana. True, Lord Crump is a peer with a comfortable estate, a steady and well-respected gentleman. He’s also humorless, dull, stubborn, unyielding, and not handsome. He loathes cats and children.

He is, in short, Not the Hero.

Yet while I know that, Diana doesn’t. Instead she dutifully follows her family’s choice of Lord Crump, and resists her attraction to another gentleman, the Duke of Sheffield. Sheffield is everything that Lord Crump isn’t: he’s handsome and kind and witty, infuriatingly charming and devilishly sexy. He worships his woefully unlovely bulldog. Best of all, he longs to marry for love, the way his parents did.

But flawless male paragons don’t make good heroes, because utter perfection would wear on the heroine (unless she’s perfect, too, which would be boring for readers and writers.) No, heroes need faults to make them interesting, and Sheffield has his share. Because he’s an 18th c. English peer, he has a past filled with former mistresses. He expects to get whatever he wants, because he always has, being a duke. He has a decided weakness for trying to “fix” other people’s problems. Worst of all, he’s already betrothed to another lady…or is he? It all makes for a knot of challenges that Diana and Sheffield must untangle before they can earn their own happy ending. I should know; I’m their matchmaker.

But what about you? What qualities, good and bad, would you give to a hero?

Don’t forget, you can still enter to win a copy of WHEN THE DUKE FOUND LOVE in this week’s giveaway here.

Isabella Bradford is a pseudonym for Susan Holloway Scott, the award-winning author of more than forty historical novels and historical romances. Her bestselling books have been published in nineteen countries and translated into fourteen languages, with more than three million copies in print worldwide. Visit Isabella on her website and on Facebook. She also blogs with Loretta Chase at www.TwoNerdyHistoryGirls.com, on Twitter, and on Pinterest.

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