I've always loved reading (and writing) character driven stories. In The Runaway Duchess, you will get a chance to meet not only the hero (Gavin Graystone) and his feisty heroine (Charlotte Vanderley) but their friends and family as well.
In the Wedded Women Quartet readers are introduced to four best friends, women who grew close to each other in school and maintained that close relationship through heartbreak, husbands, marriages, and children. In The Runaway Duchess Charlotte has one best friend who she turns to when she needs advice, or simply a shoulder to cry on.
Short and plump and perfectly adorable with blond ringlets, rosy cheeks, and dancing blue eyes Dianna had been friends with Charlotte since childhood and the two women rarely went a day without seeing each other. [TRD excerpt, Chapter Two]
Normally quiet and reserved and unfailingly proper, Dianna finds herself in unfamiliar territory when she wakes up in Charlotte's room after attending a masquerade ball the night before.
Dianna sat up on one elbow and squinted blearily in Charlotte’s general direction. Her hair was a halo of messy blond curls around her face and she was still wearing her costume; Charlotte having been unable to peel her out of it before she collapsed into bed upon their return. “I was foxed, you say?” She pursed her lips. “I have never been foxed before. Did I enjoy myself?”
“How do you know?”
Charlotte paused in the act of plucking yet another dress from the depths of the armoire. Frowning, she held it up and tried to gauge the color in the dim lighting. Was it navy blue or plum purple? “How did I know what?” she asked absently.
“That I had indulged in too much champagne.”
“You hung out of the carriage window on the way home and burst into song.” Blue, she decided. Most definitely blue. Folding it in half, she tossed it on top of the others and reached inside for one more.
“I did not,” Dianna breathed.
“You most certainly did.” Charlotte popped out of the armoire holding a traveling cloak to her chest. “Since I was the one who had to pull you back inside before you killed yourself, I should know better than anyone.”
“I was a hoyden,” Dianna said, not sounding entirely displeased by the notion.
“Of the first order,” Charlotte agreed. [TRD excerpt, Chapter Ten]
There is also Charlotte's mother (Bettina Vanderley), a woman who, at heart, wants the best for her daughter but doesn't always go about it in the best of ways.
“I will not marry him.” Standing with her arms crossed and her jaw set, twenty-one-year-old Charlotte Vanderley shook her head from side to side, sending her unruly mass of red curls whipping across her face. “He is old and grotesque and I would not want him if he were the last man on earth!”
“Pin your hair up dear, you look like a heathen.” Unimpressed by her daughter’s belligerence, Lady Bettina Vanderley sipped her tea and smoothed a wrinkle from her skirts. Always impeccably dressed and well put together, nothing grated on Bettina’s nerves quite like a coiffure that was loose or a stay that was not pulled tight.
A woman of quiet reserve and a spine of steel, she blamed every single one of her gray hairs on Charlotte and often wondered what she had done so wrong to deserve such a troublesome child. There was no denying the girl her beauty (and for that Bettina took full credit) but as for everything else… Well, it was well known the late Lord Vanderley had always been much too indulgent with his only daughter. And this, Bettina thought sourly as she took in Charlotte’s flushed cheeks and the rebellious gleam in her hazel eyes, is the result. [TRD excerpt, Chapter One]
Gavin's closest friend (not that he would ever admit to having one) is Ernie, his valet. A plucky, humorous fellow, Ernie plays a small (albeit very important) part in bringing Gavin and Charlotte together, as seen from this small excerpt.
Ernie had never seen his boss in such a state before, snapping orders left and right. Something had certainly gotten up under his britches, and he was pretty sure he knew what – or rather, who – that was.
He just never thought he would live to see the day the notoriously hard hearted Gavin Graystone fell in love. And to fall for such a slip of a girl… Ernie grinned. He wondered how long it would take for his boss to figure out he had taken the big jump. Gavin was a tough man. Some would even say a cruel one, although he certainly had his reasons, though few were privy to them.
Rocking back on his heels Ernie crossed his arms and rubbed his chin where a pitiful excuse for a beard grew. He tugged it thoughtfully.
He owed Gavin his life, a debt he had been struggling to repay for nearly half a decade, ever since Gavin lifted him up – quite literally – from the gutter, shook the filth from his clothes, and made him his person valet (among other less glamorous job titles). Maybe, at long last, he’d finally found a way to repay him… if his new bride was agreeable, of course. [TRD excerpt, Chapter Thirteen]
Other character's pop up throughout the novel [Dianna's eccentric aunt, the nefarious duke to which Charlotte is unwillingly engaged, and Gavin's butler, to name a few] but hopefully these three piqued your interest. And don't forget, The Runaway Duchess will be available on Amazon TOMORROW! So look for it then. :)