The first book in Madeline Hunter’s The Decadent Dukes Society series (and our June Top Pick in Romance!), The Most Dangerous Duke in London is the story of a complicated courtship between two stubborn individuals on either side of a family feud. Lady Clara Cheswick, wealthy in her own right, editor and founder of a magazine by women and for women, has every reason to reject any marriage proposal, let alone one from her family’s sworn enemy. For his part Adam Penrose, Duke of Stratton, is confused by his instant attraction to Clara, and torn between pursuing her honorably or using her to avenge his father’s death. Hunter embraces the complexities of Adam and Clara’s feelings, resulting in a nuanced and emotional portrayal of two people coming together against their better judgment. We talked to Hunter about her favorite romantic movie, the best cure for writer’s block and more!
Describe your latest book in a sentence.
A handsome, brooding duke reconsiders his quest for vengeance when he meets the desirable, headstrong daughter of his enemy.
What is the strangest thing you’ve learned in your research about the Regency period?
With few exceptions people had very little privacy, which is something we take for granted today. If they were not wealthy, they lived in close, cramped quarters together. If they were wealthy, there were servants all around. No wonder going out into nature held such appeal—a person could actually be alone. Also, one wonders how anyone kept any secrets with all those nosey noses right there.
What is your favorite thing about Adam?
His quest for vengeance is based on principle and duty, but he is willing to rethink his motives in the name of love.
If you could have a column in Lady Clara’s magazine, what would you want to write about?
I would write a column that reveals how most women lived hard lives of hard work, so aristocratic women would perhaps soften their views of the lower classes. It would be a series of profiles that are "A Day in the Life of A _____" with various occupations and roles filling in the blank over time. Later historians would love me for doing this.
What is your favorite romantic movie and why?
Moonstruck. I loved how it mixed a contemporary story with strong allusions to both opera, and historical times and behavior. That house is right out of the ’40s, even the stove in the kitchen. The combination gives it a touch of magical realism. I enjoyed how the full moon became a metaphor throughout the film and showed up in various ways, like egg yolks in a frying pan. And I loved the casting, down to the bit players like the beauticians in the salon. I am Italian American, so this movie really resonated with me.
What books do you find yourself reaching for when you need an escape?
I read historical fiction from all periods, and also British mysteries from the Golden Age, like Dorothy Sayers and Ngaio Marsh (although she was born and lived in New Zealand, she also lived in London).
Best cure for writer’s block?
The only cure is the hardest one. Sit down and start typing new material. Anything at all. Your imagination will help you along after that.
Is there an era you would like to set a book in that you haven’t yet?
The Italian Renaissance.
What’s next for you?
I am hard at work on book two of The Decadent Dukes Society. It is the Duke of Langford's story and will be titled A Devil of a Duke.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of The Most Dangerous Duke in London.
Author photo by Studio 8.