An Insider's Guide to
HOW THE EARL ENTICES
* Ross Carlisle, 4th Earl of Spalding, first appeared in the third book of the Carlisle series, when Robert Carlisle fled to his club to escape being forced to escort his mother and Mariah on a shopping trip to Bond Street. Known as "the dashing diplomat" among flirtatious widows of the ton, Ross has spent his life in service to country and crown--first as a soldier, then as part of the Court of St James's in Paris, with the dream of eventually becoming an ambassador.
* Ross's younger brother Christopher--known to his friends as Kit--has also dedicated his life to England, first as a soldier and now as a secret Home Office operative. But he tells everyone that he wants to be a vicar just to irritate Ross and attract women, except for Evelyn Winslow, who terrifies the daylights out of him. (But then, she *is* a Winslow daughter, and terrifying men is the Winslow women's specialty.)
* Ross and Kit are from the "Spalding" side of the Carlisle family, related to the Carlisle brothers on the "Trent" side through their shared great-grandfather, the 1st Earl of Spalding, making them second cousins. Although the Spalding side is less golden than their cousins, they share the same sapphire blue eyes and wild ways, including once racing backwards on donkeys while wearing dresses to win a bet.
* Grace Alden lives with her 9-year old son Ethan near the fictional village of Sea Haven on the shores of the very real Winchelsea Bay in the south of England. Her best friend is Alice Walters, the woman who runs the village apothecary shop, and the only other person in the world who knows the truth about Grace's past before she arrived in Sea Haven, just days before giving birth to her son and fleeing for her life.
* When Ross washes up on the shore of Winchelsea Bay, Grace makes a deal with him--she'll help him get to London, if he helps her secure her son's inheritance. Ross reluctantly agrees, and they travel overland during several hard-traveled days in rain and mud. Although traveling to London via water would have been faster, the London docks are surely being watched, and they cannot risk being spotted by the authorities or by the French, both of whom want to capture Ross. Of course, it helps that they're traveling under the disguise of a married couple, with a wife who's enceinte.
* Grace's little stone cottage was inspired by the Cotswold Cottage on display at Henry Ford's Greenfield Village, and the ambassador's grand townhome where Grace and Ross crash a masquerade was inspired by a picture of an abandoned home in London that I came across on the internet.
* While hiding in London, Ross and Grace stay upstairs from an artist's studio in Chelsea. Not such a stretch to put a famous artist's studio on Cheyne Walk. During the Regency, Chelsea was home to many famous artists and writers, including Turner...and a scandalous Italian artist and friend of Ross's named Domenico Vincenzo.
* Grace lives in fear that her son Ethan will someday discover his true identity...or become a sailor. Either one puts his life in danger.
* Ross worries that Kit truly will become a vicar.