Blog Tour: What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell (Review, Teaser, Tour Wide Giveaway, Author Q&A)

Wanted: Governess for duke’s unruly children 
Edgar Rochester, Duke of Banksford, is one of the wealthiest, most powerful men in England, but when it comes to raising twins alone, he knows he needs help. The only problem is the children have terrorized half the governesses in London. Until the clever, bold, and far-too-enticing Miss Mari Perkins arrives.
Lost: One heart to an arrogant duke
Mari knows how to wrap even the most rebellious children around her finger. But their demanding, wickedly handsome father? He won’t be quite so easy to control. And there’s something else she can’t seem to command. Her heart. The foolish thing beats so wildly every time Edgar is near.
Found: A forbidden passion neither can deny
As his employee, Mari is strictly off-limits. But what if she’s the one breaking all his rules? In the game of governess versus duke, how can Edgar maintain his defenses when the only thing he wants to do is let the tempting beauty win . . .?

About the Book

What a Difference a Duke Makes
by Lenora Bell
School For Dukes (Each book is a standalone story.)
Historical Romance
Avon Books
Publication Date
March 27, 2018

My Review

I love Mari (rhymes with starry). She’s this perfect blend of Mary Poppins and Anne Shirley, and I want her to be my new best friend. Lenora Bell performs magic with every novel, and I love how she weaves elements from books and movies in pop culture into her Regency romance setting. Bell said she drew on inspiration from Mary Poppins for What a Difference a Duke Makes and it’s so fun finding the little pops of inspiration when you know what to look for. Some great examples are Mari’s frothy white dress with the crimson sash that is reminiscent of Mary Poppins’ iconic “jolly holiday” dress from the movie; Mari makes up a story about someone named Bert; the lawyer’s name is Albert, the same as Mary Poppins’ Uncle Albert (a coincidence? Not in a Lenora Bell novel!) There’s a part in Albert Shadwell’s office where Mari takes note of pattern on the carpet – urns with red and blue roses. I am certain this has some sort of meaning or connection to something, I’m not just bright enough to connect the dots. But if Bell put it there, I’m sure it means something!

I haven’t seen anything official that mentions a connection to Anne Shirley (of Anne of Green Gables fame) but I’m so sure Bell must have drawn on inspiration from this character by L.M. Montgomery. In addition to her general appearance, Mari insists her name is Mari (with an “i”) just like Anne (with an “e”), and she even makes a reference to “scope for the imagination” at one point. There are a few other clues in there as well, but I’ll let you find them for yourself.

I’m in danger of this review becoming as long as the book itself, so I’ll wrap it up. In addition to being (clearly) enamored of the leading lady, the other characters are also superb. I appreciate Banksford’s drive and his desire to care for his family (as well as his confusion about to how to that love he feels). India is an amazing woman and I can’t wait to read about her in the next book in this series. The twins, Adele and Michel, are precocious and so sweet, and I hope we get to see how they’re getting on in later books in the series as well. I love Lenora Bell’s writing style; the book is well-researched, feels authentic to the period (as far as I can tell as a reader who enjoys Regency romance and doesn’t inspect them with a grimace through my quizzing glass), the plot is well thought out and pleasingly paced, and the dialogue is in turns witty and endearing. I am a huge fan of Lenora Bell and this had pretty high expectations for this book, and I was definitely not disappointed. Now I just need to wait (ever impatiently!) for the next book in the series, For the Duke’s Eyes Only.



Author Q&A

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have at least four half-finished books on my harddrive and two finished novellas. Most of them are from participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). It’s such a great way to get words on the page!
What does literary success look like to you?
Becoming a better writer with each book.
What’s the best way to market your books?
Being discovered by new readers is always an uphill endeavor and I’m very fortunate to be working with the fantastic publicity team at Avon Romance. They reach a much wider audience than I would be able to as a new author.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Historical romance novels always require a ton of research. I’ve been amassing a reference library stocked with books about 19th century London. Google Books helps so much because they’ve scanned so many texts from the time period. For the book I’m working on I needed to know the exact itinerary of a trip from London to Paris in 1829 and I found a travel guide published in 1828 that detailed not only the routes, but the timetables and fares as well.
Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
I often incorporate spiritual rituals into my writing habits. Every few hours I’ll take a break and do yoga and meditation. I burn candles while I’m writing and use scented oils in a diffuser because candlelight and soothing scents help the creativity flow.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
The difficult things is making each character vivid, believable, and three-dimensional. Every person we meet has unique physical attributes, mannerisms, quirks, and stories they choose to tell. Translating that to the page is what makes characters come alive.
How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
I’m still a part-time writer with a day job. Luckily, I prefer to write at night because of the quiet and lack of distractions.
How many hours a day do you write?
I try to write four hours per day when a story is in development. When I’m on the tail end of a deadline sometimes write up to twelve hours per day.
What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
I like to incorporate details into my books from all the traveling I’ve done in the last decade. I used my experience visiting Peru in How the Duke Was Won, and I used my travels in Italy for If I Only Had a Duke. Right now I’m writing a book that’s partially set in Paris and I’m drawing from some recent trips to France.
What did you edit out of this book?
A whole lot of extraneous “of course’s” “actually’s” and “oh’s.”
Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
Lisa Cron’s writing craft book Story Genius made me rethink everything I thought I knew about what makes fiction engaging. Highly recommended for writers in all stages of their careers!
What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
If I’m loosely basing a character on a historical figure I’ll change the name and physical description of the person. If I’m incorporating an actual historical figure into my book, I’ll strive for as accurate a portrayal as possible using all available research materials.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I like to comb through censuses from the 1800’s to find common or unusual names from the time period.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I would own a vintage clothing store – I love all things retro and vintage and helping people find treasures would be so rewarding.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’ve learned not to read reviews of my books on sites like Goodreads while I’m writing because reviews are so subjective and you can’t please everyone.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
I’ve definitely put a few obscure references in my books that only people who like art house cinema will pick up on. For example, there’s a scene in Blame It on the Duke that’s an homage to Terry Gilliam’s weird and wonderful film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
What was your hardest scene to write?
I’m going to go with an entire book. Second books are notoriously difficult, and I tumbled straight into that trap. I had to completely rewrite If I Only Had a Duke three times. Luckily I had a fantastic editor who believed in me enough to help guide me through the often painful process of birthing that second book baby.
Do you Google yourself?
Every now and then, just to make sure there’s nothing too outrageous out there ☺
What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
You have to give up a lot of leisure time to hone your craft.
What are your favorite literary journals?
I like the The New Yorker because it’s a great mix of politics, interviews, fiction, and poetry.
What is your favorite childhood book?
It’s so hard to pick just one! I loved Little Women and read it over and over. I also loved Anne of Green Gables.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Revisions are a difficult process for me. The first draft of a scene is fun to write and then by the second or third revision I’m wondering why I ever decided to become a writer. But, as Stephen King said, “To write is human, to edit is divine.”
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Absolutely! My mother is a writer and everyone in my family is a booklover. Mr. Bell has been so supportive of my career. During a hard time when I was working a more-than-full-time day job and attempting to write my second romance novel, he took over all the cooking and cleaning.
If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
I would try to give myself the advice that your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Let it go. Move forward. If you’re too afraid of writing something mediocre, you’ll never finish a book.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
It usually takes me six to eleven months to finish a book. I’m still experimenting with my process. The one thing I’ve learned is that there are no shortcuts. You just have to put those fingers on the keyboard and keep writing!
Do you believe in writer’s block?
I’ve experienced writer’s block born from perfectionism, fear, and self-doubt. Right now I’m focusing on letting go of my perfectionism and just trying to write the best book possible at this point in my life. Two writing/creative craft books that help when I’m feeling stuck are Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and Story Genius by Lisa Cron.

ur Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DUKE MAKES, we’re giving away a cloth bag with a paperback copies of the book and Lenora’s entire back list!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a cloth bag filled with paperback copies of What a Difference a Duke Makes and Lenora Bell’s entire back list. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance.  Giveaway ends 4/9/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address.  Duplicates will be deleted.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

About Lenora Bell

Lenora Bell is a USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of historical romances. She blames the long, dark winters in her tiny Alaskan hometown for making her a lifelong bookworm. A teacher with an MFA in Creative Writing who has lived on five continents, Lenora currently shares an old farmhouse in the Pacific Northwest with her carpenter husband and two tiger-striped rescue kitties. She loves to hear from readers!

Author Links

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2 thoughts on “Blog Tour: What a Difference a Duke Makes by Lenora Bell (Review, Teaser, Tour Wide Giveaway, Author Q&A)

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