There is something about history that makes things so much more romantic,” says RITA Award–winner Betina Krahn. A Good Day to Marry a Duke is her return to historical romance after an eight-year hiatus. “As modern women, it’s satisfying to imagine we would have overcome the restrictions of other eras and lived wonderful, fulfilling lives in them,” says Krahn, who traces her passion for writing historicals to her love of history and her fascination with how the past informs the present. “But then again, maybe it’s the clothes and the manners. What woman doesn’t dream of a gallant, handsome prince—or a duke—helping her make her dreams come true?” Her latest follows a wealthy American heiress who heads to England to find a husband.
In A Good Day to Marry a Duke, Daisy Bumgarten finds herself the talk of East Coast society after failing to properly ride her horse sidesaddle. The kerfuffle forces Daisy, whom Krahn describes as “bright, determined, and a little—okay, a lot—defiant,” to head abroad in search of a suitable husband. The book, which is the first in a trilogy about the Bumgarten sisters, who hail from a moneyed Nevada mining family, pulls deeply from the historical record. Although Daisy is pure fiction—Krahn says Daisy is not based on any particular person—her situation was in fact quite common. “By one authoritative account,” Krahn explains, “more than 200 young women from America crossed the pond in the late 1800s to marry British noblemen or landed gentry.” Winston Churchill’s mother, Lady Randolph Spencer-Churchill, was one notable example of this phenomenon.
That intriguing statistic inspired Krahn to explore a classic culture clash in this fish-out-of-water tale. “I couldn’t help imagining a passionate Western spitfire like Daisy, bent on matrimony, invading England’s staid and restrictive Victorian society,” Krahn says. “Who in England would be game to take her on? Only a man with nothing to lose.”
Krahn knows A Good Day to Marry a Duke will offer her fans what they’ve come to love from her books, namely a few laughs and a wealth of eccentric and unforgettable characters. But, Krahn notes, the book is a departure from her earlier work in many ways. “It has a faster pace and doesn’t always follow romantic conventions,” Krahn says. “For instance, the suspense about who Daisy will marry continues to the very end. It also pits the Old West’s rough-and-ready culture against the entrenched traditions of centuries of English nobility.” Readers who’ve fallen for historical romance during Krahn’s hiatus will find her new book a welcome addition to their reading lists—Krahn is a classic historical romance author whose characters are nonetheless modern and accessible.
And Daisy’s story is just the first adventure for the Bumgarten sisters, who are all headstrong in their own ways. Frankie, the gorgeous but stubborn heroine of the next book in the series, is determined to thwart her mother’s plan to marry her off to a British nobleman. And Sarah, the youngest of the Bumgarten girls, is, according to Krahn, “the most daring and reckless.” In book three, Sarah, an animal lover with a wicked sense of humor, falls for a wild man who shows up on her brother-in-law’s estate “and gets more than she bargained for—much more,” Krahn says.
While the Bumgartens may come from a different century, their predicaments will be quite familiar to modern-day readers. “Who hasn’t made a mistake they’ve longed to find a way to rectify?” Krahn asks. While Krahn wants her readers to delight in the specifics of the time period—”I hope they learn a bit about the Victorians and the aspirations of living in a time as vibrant and formative as theirs”—she also thinks Daisy and her sisters can offer some valuable insight into how young people can plot the course of their lives today. “I hope readers realize that what applies to these characters applies to them,” Krahn says. “They should be careful what they wish for, because they just might get it!”