Spotlight & Giveaway: The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman

Posted April 24th, 2014 by in Blog, Spotlight / 57 comments

Today it is my pleasure to welcome romance author Valerie Bowman to HJ


Hi Valerie, Welcome to HJ!

What would you say is your motto or maxim as a writer?

Valerie BowmanThere’s no such thing as writer’s block. Sit down and write.

If you were stranded on a deserted island…

This question has haunted me ever since the TV show, Survivor began. The Survivor contestants get to take one thing with them. I’m afraid it would be my chapstick! I’m completely addicted to it. So if I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d have to have my chapstick with me. I think that’s so sad, but it’s true!

Let’s talk about your newest release: The Unexpected Duchess

If you had to summarize the book for the readers here…

TUDIt’s a romp based on Cyrano de Bergerac with a female Cyrano. I call it a “reverse Cyrano” actually.

Please tell us about the characters in your book.

Lady Lucy Upton is a heroine who’s famous for her sharp tongue and quick wit. Derek Hunt is a war hero (aka The Duke of Decisive) who has just met his match, the one person who’ll stand up to him. Enter, Lucy Upton.

As you wrote your protagonist was there anything about them that surprised you?

Lucy didn’t surprise me but she was so fun to write. I based her on a couple of different people in
my life. One being my sister who pulls no punches. I think it’s so necessary to have someone in your life
who’ll tell you the truth no matter what.

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

Oh, one of my favorites in this book is the scene where Derek challenges Lucy to a word game in a ballroom full of people. Here’s the introduction to it.

She nearly snorted. “Dance with you? No. Thank you.”
One brow shot up. “Ah, now that’s surprising.”
She regarded him down the length of her nose. “What is?”
“Why, with your reputation for wordplay, I’d have thought you’d find something infinitely more clever to say in response to a gentleman with whom you do not wish to dance than, ‘No. Thank you.’”
He was mocking her. Her face heated. Her ears were no doubt turning red. “You think you can do better?”
He inclined his head in acceptance, a devilish smile on his firmly molded lips. “I know I can.”
She crossed her arms over her chest and glared at him.
He grinned and raised his voice so the audience would hear him. “This shall be the wager then. I shall come up with a plethora of more inventive ways to turn down a dance than ‘No, thank you.’”
“How many?” she asked, still trying to quell the riotous emotions in her middle.
The duke turned and called out to their audience. “Does anyone have a pack of cards?”
“I do!” Lady Haverty offered, calling to a footman to bring cards posthaste.
The wait was not long. The footman hurried back with the cards while the entire ballroom appeared to converge upon their little enclave. In the meantime, Cass and Jane gave Lucy encouraging smiles and then faded into the crowd with everyone else.
The duke took the cards from the footman and presented them to Lucy with a flourish. “My lady, pick one, if you please.”
“What for?” Lucy asked, valiantly attempting to keep the rising panic from her voice. What was he up to?
“Whatever card you draw will be the number of responses I invent.”
Lucy arched a brow. “And what if I draw a royal?”
“Twenty,” he answered simply as if he did this sort of thing on a regular basis.
She eyed him warily but hovered her hand over the stack and plucked a card from the center. She flipped it over. “The King of Hearts,” she announced with a satisfied smile.
A muffled ooh made its way through the crowd.
“You wouldn’t be interested in the best two of three, would you?” he asked with a jaunty grin.
Lucy shook her head and smiled back at him. “Twenty sounds perfect to me.”
He winked at her. “How did I know you would say that?”
She shrugged. “Lucky guess?”
“Very well,” he agreed. “I shall come up with twenty better ways to refuse a dance with a gentleman than your ‘No, thank you.’”
Lucy tapped her slipper against the parquet floor. She had no choice. He’d made the challenge and she must see it through. Wise of him actually, to keep her from being the one to use her tongue. Quite wise indeed. “Very well. I accept. Let’s hear them.”
“Ah, wait. First, we must decide. What shall be the forfeit?” he asked, plucking nonchalantly at his ivory cuff.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

The one above was! I spent weeks and had friends help! Coming up with 20 pithy things to say isn’t as easy as it sounds. 🙂

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

Henry Cavill and Kate Beckinsale.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be and why?

Oh, I would NEVER give them any advice. They might take it and then where would the fun be?

What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have planned for 2014?

I’m currently writing the third book in my Playful Brides series. It’s called The Unlikely Lady and will be coming out in the Spring of 2015. In 2014, the second book in the series, The Accidental Countess, will be released on 10/28. That one is a fun retelling of The Importance of Being Earnest.

Where can readers get in touch with you?

You can find me at, on Twitter at @ValerieGBowman, and on Facebook at


To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and post a comment to this Q: If you were going to write a book based on a famous romp play (like my Playful Brides series) which play would you choose and why?

a Rafflecopter giveaway


The door to the salon opened and Lucy came strolling out. Ah, just as expected. Derek had known she wouldn’t be able to sit and play cards all evening. She’d pretended to be interested, but he could see in her eyes, the way her knee bounced up and down impatiently the entire time she’d been playing, that the game held little interest for her. No doubt she’d been biding time the same way he had and would go in search of her friends Jane and Garrett as soon as possible to take her leave.
And that was why Derek had been waiting in the corridor for her. Waiting for his chance.
The moment she passed him, he stepped from the shadows directly into her path. “My lady.”
To her credit, she didn’t scream. Didn’t even seem as if she noticed him other than the fact that he’d caused her to stop. Instead, she touched one hand lightly to the base of her throat and had the temerity to eye him up and down. “Your Grace. Hiding in corners again?”
He fought the urge to grind his teeth. He was still getting used to people calling him “Your Grace,” but not the way she made the honorific sound, like someone crunching glass between their teeth. It drove him mad.
“Lady Lucy, I was hoping to have another word with you in here.” Instead of allowing her to say no, he shot out his hand, captured her wrist, and dragged her into the drawing room on the other side of the corridor. That was how one had to deal with the likes of Lady Lucy. Give no quarter.
He tugged her into the room behind him, shut the door after them, and turned to face her. She did not look amused. The light from a brace of candles across the room illuminated her unusual eyes.
“Where is Lady Cassandra this evening?” he asked.
Lucy gave a long-suffering sigh. “I told you. She’s not here. I thought you could gather as much from her absence.” There was that eternal sarcasm.
He spoke through clenched teeth. “I’m asking you where she is.”
Lucy crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a narrowed-eyed stare. “And what if I said I don’t intend to tell you?”
Derek closed his eyes briefly and poked his tongue into the side of his cheek biting against the words that rushed to his lips. The ones he wanted to say. The ones he shouldn’t say.
“Allow me to attempt this in another manner, my lady. Why are you so intent upon meddling with my affairs?”
Lucy’s mouth dropped open. “Meddling with your—? Oh, that’s funny. You might have fooled me. I was under the impression that you just accosted me in the corridor and pulled me in here for questioning as if I were a French spy. But apparently, I’m meddling with your affairs.” The look she gave him was entirely sarcastic, complete with batting her long, sooty lashes. Derek longed to wipe it from her face. Mostly because he could smell the tantalizing scent of her soap, and it was a shock to his groin.
He set his jaw, trying to keep on task. “Do you deny that you’ve been interfering with my courtship of Lady Cassandra?”
A half smirk popped to her lips. “Absolutely not.”
Her color was rising and she looked even more beautiful than usual. Derek paced away from her. “And I’m asking why? Why do you insist upon interfering?”
“Why do you think for a moment I owe you an explanation? Your arrogance is beyond bounds, even for a war-hero duke.”
“Is that so?” he thundered.
“Yes. It’s so. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m leaving.” She attempted to step around him, but he blocked her path.
She plunked both hands on her hips and tilted her head up to face him, shooting sparks at him with her eyes. “Using your size and your strength to intimidate me, Your Grace? You might frighten Cass but you don’t frighten me.”
He shuddered with frustration. He wanted to reach out and shake her. Why was this woman so bloody difficult? He’d known opposing generals who’d made him less angry and given him more to go on when trying to decipher the best course of action to win the battle. His hands were on his hips too. He eyed her, breathing heavily through both nostrils.
She taunted him with her next words. “At a loss for words, Your Grace? That’s a first.”
She battled those gorgeous lashes at him again. His pulse jumped with each look. That was it. She’d batted them one time too many.
“As a matter of fact, yes,” he growled, just before he tugged her into his arms and brought his lips down to claim hers

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57 Responses to “Spotlight & Giveaway: The Unexpected Duchess by Valerie Bowman”

  1. glam009

    I will choose James Bancroft because I love the man rescue the damsel in distress, and always do the right thing, is perfect 🙂

  2. Sandy X

    I would not know because I do not have an interest i play. I usually start having an interest in it if authors write about it in their stories.

  3. conniefischer

    Oh dear! I am not an expert on plays in any shape or form so I cannot give an informed opinion here. I do know that I am very much interested in reading Valerie’s new book!

  4. jdh2690

    Gosh, I haven’t been to too many plays or read them either. I think The King and I would be a good story to do a takeoff on. As I recall, Deborah Kerr and Yul Brynner had quite a romp in that musical. I like the premise (and promise) of your Playful Brides series, Valerie, Congrats on their charm.

  5. Glenda

    Maybe A Midsummer Night’s Dream, or Much Ado About Nothing, or even Twelfth Night….

    LOVE your books Valerie! Can’t wait for this series. 😀

  6. BookLady

    I would choose William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream, because it has elements of love, magic, and comedy.

  7. Cathy Phillips

    I would say The Sound of Music, if it has been a play. It was a great love story, and the children were very ornery at first. The duchess often acted like a witch, Uncle Max was fun, and the Nazis were nightmarish.

  8. Chelsea B.

    I’m not well versed in plays so I honestly couldn’t say. (Perhaps something that includes rhyming? *Grin*

  9. lavendersbluegreen

    BTW Valerie, Chapstick is petrochemical based and so it both dries you out and makes you feel temporarily soft. ICK. I highly recommend a local tea shop that has a lovely lip balm (lavender lips). I prefer the lavender and licorice she made originally for an orphanage in Romania I think…. check her out online, the owner is Vickie and she has been to Bastyr University and is wonderful!

  10. Kai W.

    The Taming of the Shrew. I just love the barbs that Kate and Petruchio and how these two characters grew.

  11. Taswmom

    I agree with all the above mentioned plays, but I think my favorite would also be The Taming of the Shrew. Even a variation on Up the Down Staircase or Arsenic and Old Lace! You could probably do something really fun bringing in grandchildren or nieces/nephews on A and O L.

  12. Anita H.

    I would probably pick Twelfth Night or A Midsummer Night’s Dream if I had to write a play. There are probably even more choices but off the top of my head, those were the first two that came to mind.

  13. Ada

    I would definitely do a book based on Much Ado About Nothing. There were so many great moments you can hit on and be so entertaining!

  14. Ann

    I do not care for plays or musicals, so I can not answer the question. I can say that after reading the excerpt I am adding it to my wish list.

  15. Natalija

    Probably “The Taming of the Shrew”. I love books that feature siblings who are different character-wise, and there could not be two sisters more unlike than Katherina and Bianca.

  16. Laura

    I would pick The Sound of Music, just because it’s my favourite movie. I’ve never seen the play version. Not while I’ve been sitting in a theatre, anyway. The made-for-tv, live adaptation of the play starring Carrie Underwood as Maria doesn’t count as seeing the play, in my opinion, because I was still watching it on tv at home, To me, it felt like a remake of the movie.

  17. Diane Sallans

    My favorite musical play is ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ – a variation on that would be a lot of fun!

  18. Valerie Bowman

    Thanks so much for the comments, everyone! I’m in Chicago for a signing this morning and didn’t bring my laptop so I can’t respond to every comment the way I’d like but I’ve read them all. Much appreciated!

  19. Jen B

    I’ve only read one play,The Importance Of Being Earnest, I love it and the 1952 film version of it. It would make a great book.

  20. Betul E.

    Romeo and juliet, because its a beautiful love story with a tragic ending which I would change into a HEA!

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