Guest Author: Manda Collins & Giveaway!

I’m SO excited to have a special guest on my blog today.  She’s a good friend and a fabulous writer:  Manda Collins, debut Regency-set historical author for St. Martin’s Press.  Manda’s book, How To Dance With A Duke, is a wonderful read.  You can take my word for it, because I had the privilege of reading it before St. Martin’s even snapped it up.  If you like smart, sexy historical romance with a dash of mystery, Manda’s the gal for you!  And she’s here with a great post to tell you all about How To Dance With A Duke.  Notice the tie-in to today’s date!

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Duke

Is there any phobia more celebrated than Triskaidekaphobia, the fear of the number 13? Certainly not in my elementary school days when we reveled gleefully in the superstition surrounding unlucky 13. Kids are like that, I suppose.

But we are adults, and as such, we face our fears head on! (Hahahahahaha.) No, really, we do! And in my own inimical style, I will turn that 13 sided frown upside down by appropriating the thing that is scaring the bejeezus out of us and creating a list of not one, not two, not eleven, but THIRTEEN things. In this case, with apologies to the poet Wallace Stevens, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at” not a Blackbird, but “A Duke.”


From the side.

In my experience,

Dukes have some seriously excellent profiles.


Hanging with his Regency Era bros.

Conversing over a pint and a cheroot

Is a time-honored means for a Duke to blow off a little steam.

Also, he knows that he shows to advantage, being a Duke.


The Duke of Winterson whirled around the ballroom.

His dancing shoes made no sound

As he held the young lady more closely than was strictly correct.


A lord and a lady are one.

A lord a lady and a Duke

Are best left to the erotic romance novelists.


I do not know which to prefer,

The beauty of a Duke being brought to his knees by his heroine,

Or the beauty of a Duke losing his celebrated sang-froid over a heroine,

The Duke of Winterson kissing her before,

Or just after.


The shadow of the Duke of Winterson

Crossed to and fro before the window,

His jaw clenched in fury at the thought of

How his heroine had defied him.


O Readers of Romance Fiction,

Why do you imagine commoner heroes?

Do you not see how the Duke of Winterson hovers

At the edge of your imagination?


I know noble accents,

And the voice of a hero intrigues his heroine,

But I know too that the Duke of Winterson is involved in

Every story of my trilogy. Really. He is.


When the Duke of Winterson stepped off stage,

He was always still thinking,

Of Cecily, his heroine.


At the sight of the Duke of Winterson,

Striding across the ballroom floor,

Even the Meanest Gel of all, Amelia,

Felt her heart constrict with longing.

Then, of course, she flew into a jealous rage.

Tis what mean gels do.


The Duke of Winterson rode through London

In the carriage emblazoned with his crest.

Once he pulled Cecily against him in the darkness of the carriage,

Kissing her ruthlessly, filled with longing.


Mysteries envelop the situation.

The Duke and his lady must be investigating.


It was hardly a surprise

For the Duke to love his wife.

What was most remarkable, in his eyes,

Was that she finally loved him too.

Life and death excitement can do that to a woman.

For a look at the original poem, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” check out this version at the University of Pennylvania. Are you a fan of poetry? Why or why not? How about Dukes? Tell us all about it! Inquiring minds want to know!

Vanessa, here.  Told you my pal Manda was smart and witty!  Cool poem, eh?  Now, just answer one of her questions.  One person who comments will win a copy of How To Dance With A Duke.

81 thoughts on “Guest Author: Manda Collins & Giveaway!”

  1. I really enjoyed today’s post. I like poetry because the way the words are written to describe an emotion or feeling are beautiful to read. I also like reading about dukes. Thanks for the giveaway.

  2. Brilliant, Manda! I do love poetry and Wallace Stevens–and dukes. And, of course, we and Wallace Stevens know that when counting views of blackbirds and dukes, there are fourteenth and fifteenth and . . . I look forward to more views of the Duke of Winterson. 🙂

    I think it was Dylan Thomas who said that poetry was that which made his toenails twinkle. That’s as good a definition of poetry–and romance novels–as I know.

  3. thank you for sharing the lovely poem; i first in love with poems come from elizabethan collection i found in school library and still loving it ,beside reading romance novel its a stress relieving thing for me especially after hard office week. btw, it made me want to know more of Duke of Winterson ^_^

  4. LOL! This was a fun post!:D ..I like poetry tho I’m not really a big fan, but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dukes! Specially if they’re devilishly handsome!; ) ..That is a really beautiful cover, btw!=)

  5. I’ve never been a great fan of poetry, a little too obscure for me. It could also be the fact of having it crammed down my throat at school. No Dukes, I can never get enough of. It’s a world apart. The society & lifestyle.

    • Mary, I didn’t really learn to like poetry until I went to university and had some great profs who really knew how to teach it. It was a quite a different experience from high school and 1st year university.

    • Poetry can definitely be an acquired taste. But if you think of popular songs as poetry–which I do–then it becomes something that’s fun and accessible. Glad you like Dukes:) I like them too!

  6. Not a fan of poetry, as Mary Preston said, it was forced on us at school.

    I do, however, love Dukes. Preferably the strong, silent, broody ones.

  7. Wonderful! Loved the poem, Manda and it goes without saying that I adore Dukes. Well, I adore fictional Dukes. I’ve never met a real one. I’m afraid I would be vastly disappointed after “meeting” so many amazing ones in fiction.

    I read a lot of poetry in college then drifted away for many years. Now I drop by for the occasional visit though fiction is still my first choice of reading pleasure.

    Congrats on your upcoming release, Manda!

    • Thank you so much, PJ! I’m afraid I agree with you about real life dukes. I can’t imagine any of them would live up to the fictional ones we’ve come to know and love. Plus the fictional ones probably have more hair and better teeth;)

  8. Hi Vanessa,
    I do like poetry especially love poems. Poetry can be so many things and one can express so much in all kinds of ways. I learned in college that poetry can mean something and one not even realize the meaning. I know there were a few I didn’t realize the “naughty” meanings until the prof. pointed it out *grins* 😉 As for dukes, I can’t get enough of them! Gotta love a hot duke with a wicked smile and a quick wit.

    • Yay! A fellow poetry lover! Love poems are wonderful, aren’t they, Lori? Really any subject that inspires high emotion makes for great poetry. And I admit, back when I taught college I pointed out some naughty bits to my students from time to time. With all those double meanings some of them are very easy to miss! Thanks for coming by!

  9. Poetry… Ehhh, not so much. But Dukes… YES!! I love those dark, strong, silent, slightly arrogant Dukes with a sinful smile, wicked wit, and that oh so sigh-worthy ability to command a room! Of course, those broad shoulders, and shiny boots always help too! Lol!!! 😉

    I agree with PJ, it would be such a disappointment to meet one in “real life”, because there is no way he could live up to our image of being a Duke! Lol!!!

    Congrats, Manda on the book! I’m so looking forward to reading it!

    • Thank you, Monica! Oh, don’t get me started on those broad shouldered, sexy dukes! I love ’em! And what gentleman would be seen in public without shiny boots? Why, the very thought is inconceivable;) Especially for a duke!

  10. It’s too bad that so many were turned off of poetry via the school system… same group that forced so many of us to read books like Great Expectations long before we were ready for such literature… I love your poem and appreciate your ability to write it also! Looking forward to reading your books!

  11. Manda, so cute! Just loved it. And makes me very intrigued to get my hands on this book. It was already on my list to read! I do love poetry, but don’t read it very often; mainly the old, classics. Some of the newer, modern stuff does not tug at my heart. I even occasionally write some, and have a collection dating back to required haiku from grade school! Thanks for a great beginning to this day.

    • Thanks, Sue! It took me a while to get used to modern poetry, too. But it’s kind of like those magic eye pictures (remember those? You would look and it was just a bunch of dots but then you’d finally see that there was a picture behind all the dots?). You don’t get it, but then you spend a little bit teasing out the meaning of the words and suddenly it’s clear and wonderful! But I think it’s hard to find time for that kind of thing these days. Go you for writing poetry! It’s hard. Glad you enjoyed my little flight of fancy!

  12. Congratulations on your debut novel. I’m afraid I’ve never enjoyed poetry. Some people dislike math or science, for me it’s poetry. I’m not entirely sure why, but it’s too bad since there are so many great poets. I do like dukes, however. 🙂

  13. Dukes I love, poetry not so much. Not to say I don’t like any poems but they are hard to decipher sometimes (a lot of times lol).

  14. There is a lot of poetry that I like…. usually it is the romantic kind. I do remember in grade school being exposed to some great poets…. I think Walt Whitman was one of them (its been A FEW YEARS). However, it is not something that I look for. Now…. Dukes, I might just LOOK for them! LOL Best wishes with the book. It sounds like a great read.

  15. Hello ladies! I just wanted to stop by and see what was happening. Love the play on the poem. I must confess I’m not the most well versed when it comes to poetry but I do enjoy reading them from time to time.
    However, I do adore Dukes and, frankly, I don’t care how many happen to inhabit Romancelandia. The more, the merrier I say!

    So excited to see Manda adding her own to the mix. Over the top ready to read your debut novel, my dear!

    (Don’t enter me in the contest at this time. I intend to be first in line at B&N when it comes out. Yes, I’m going old school and I’ll be that customer that makes the kid who works there scour the backroom if I don’t find it on the shelf!)

    Ciao for now,

  16. Congrats on your upcoming debut release, Manda. I’m not the biggest poetry fan, but I do like Emily Dickinson. I am a big fan of dukes.

  17. I’m a fan of Manda Collins, which I think is the main point, and I am so happy this book is out for the rest of us plebs who didn’t have the privilege of reading it back when it was a draft of some kind. 🙂

    I’m not a huge fan of Dukes–as I have railed about them time and again due to the fact there was technically about 8 of them during the Regency era, and were either old or not really handsome looking. It’s hard to let go fact to immerse myself in fantasy sometimes, but for certain authors I can do it: Eloisa James, Julie Anne Long, et al. And I know Manda’s is going to be a keeper too, so yes, she can write about all the Dukes she wants!

    As for poetry…I do read it. It’s how I became an English major, but I am a lot like the heroine in Eloisa James’ new book–I tend to prefer vulgar limericks to other kinds of classy things. 🙂

    • Oh, Hellion, I ADORE limericks! Hmm, I might use that for an upcoming blog post…thanks for the idea!

      And you are super sweet. I hope you can suspend your disbelief about the true state of dukes during the Regency while you’re reading. Honestly I had to while I was writing too. I mean I’ve seen what today’s dukes look like, so I am under no illusions about how they must have looked in the early 19th century!

  18. Oh, you can definitely count me as a fan of Dukes! They are the alphas of historical romance in my eyes. I can’t say I love poetry but I do like them and find many to be meaningful. I like poetry that comes to life -a few paragraphs and effective words can go a long way in creating a story in my mind or evoking emotions.

  19. To answer your queastion, Vanessa, Manda’s clever poem appeared under Guest Blogs and at first I thought it was about a new Sarah MacLean Book as well!

    Terrific blog/poem,
    Your Grace Manda! I am so looking forward to reading “How to Dance with a Duke.” After all, you are already a Duchess!

  20. Wonderful poem, and the original was pretty cool too. I like poetry, but have never considered myself a fan. I just run across one that I like here and there. I do like dukes, they are at the top of the aristocracy, just underneath kings, so they are so very powerful and noble, and it’s lovely to see one brought low by meeting the love of his life.

  21. Well, I learned a new word today. So there’s an actual word for the fear of the number 13? I just love Dukes. They’re just so above it all, until they meet the right woman, who brings them to their knees. I have both of these books on my TBR list, I just need to recover after Christmas.


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