I love when one of my books is reissued—it’s like having an old and dear friend return for a visit. So welcome back, One Perfect Rose! Step into my kitchen for some coffee and biscotti.
A particularly nice aspect of historical novels is that the technology doesn’t change and mess up your plot. With contemporaries, recent changes like the internet and cell phones can date a book really quickly. With historicals, the biggest difference between what I’m writing now and what I wrote a dozen years ago is length.
Granted, longer books allow more room for subplots and secondary characters, but for the romance at the heart of the story, what I’m writing now is exactly what I was writing a dozen years ago: strong women, tortured heroes, and healing love.
Love is Better the Second Time Around
One Perfect Rose was the final book of the Fallen Angels series, though it stands alone just fine. It was also my first book to reach the top fifteen of the New York Times List, which guarantees a special place in my heart.
The hero of OPR, Stephen Kenyon, was originally intended as merely a wallpaper figure in the story of his brother, Lord Michael Kenyon. Stephen represented Michael’s horrible family—but then the blasted man turned three dimensional and treacherousky interesting.
Dukes only when necessary!
Like Jo, I seldom indulge in dukes, but every now and then I do a hero who needs to be nailed to the cross of the highest possible rank. As Duke of Ashburton, Stephen Kenyon is just such a hero. The quiet son of a difficult father, he has always taken the heavy responsibilities of his station seriously. He navigated politics and managed the family estates and married the right woman, even though their relationship never moved much beyond polite duty.
But in his mid-thirties, after his father and his wife have both died, Stephen finally sees a chance to have a more fulfilling life. He can do what he wants and be what he wants. Maybe even find another wife who is more loving than his first.
So what’s the worst thing an author can do to a man who has just been given a real life? She can take it away. <G> When Stephen’s doctor gives him a life expectancy of months and not very many of them, it’s all too easy to believe the diagnosis. The pain he’s suffering confirms that the end is near. Which is when Stephen, the perfect gentleman, the dutiful duke, explodes into fury.
Always the subtext
One Perfect Rose is what I fondly think of as my death and dying book, and while it has a happy ending (trust me, it really does!), what Stephen must confront are the issues everyone must face when the end is drawing near. He experiences anger, acceptance, reconciliation. How does he want to spend his last precious days? What isn’t worth wasting time on? Who does he love, who must he make peace with?
A good part of the book is set in a traveling theater troop, and that setting came from a throwaway line toward the end of Michael's story, Shattered Rainbows. Stephen tells Michael not to enact any Shakespearean tragedies. Ah, ha! Stephen likes the theater!.
So when he runs away from home to come to terms with imminent death, he falls in with a company of players run by the exuberant, good-natured Fitzgerald family. He loves them all for their warmth and easy acceptance. Most of all, he loves daughter Rosalind, a foundling they had taken into their home and hearts. But how can he offer his perfect Rose love when he has so little time left?
Widowed Rosalind Jordan is the calm, still center of her volatile and creative family. Her marriage had been a mistake, so she is happy to be the Fitzgerald stage manager, organizer, and versatile player of secondary roles. Then Stephen Ashe appears, quiet, helpful, and particularly gifted at playing dukes on stage. <G> He appeals to her as no man ever has, but he is obviously a gentleman, while actresses are not ladies.
They can have no future. But can there be a present for however long they have? Since this is a romance, I’m sure you can guess the answer. <G>
Here are a couple of the original reviews. (Yes, when a publisher reissues a book, they ask for this sort of thing.):
“In her superb, inimitable style, Putney takes a pair of magnetic, beautifully matched protagonists, places them in a dark, impossible situation, and makes it work.”
Library Journal, which chose OPR as one of the five top romances of the year.
“Intelligent, passionate characters flow through this powerful love story . . . Putney delivers another superior story, beautifully written with her penchant for eloquently portraying her heroines as unique individuals filled with life."
In honor of the old and new releases, I’ll give away two copies of the book: the original and very cute mini-hardcover of the first release, and the new Kensington release with the gorgeous cover. Winners will be chosen from among those who leave a comment between now and midnight Thursday.
If you've never read One Perfect Rose, here's an excerpt to sample.
If you missed this book before, or lost your copy, or wore your copy to pieces as some readers have–here's your chance to win a new one!
Mary Jo, showing off the luscious new Kensington cover.