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.