Behind the Book: How the Dukes Stole Christmas


[Note from Frolic: We’re so excited to feature another edition of Behind the Book. Authors Tessa Dare, Sarah McLean, Sophie Jordan, and Joanna Shupe chatted about their inspiration for How the Dukes Stole Christmas, and we’re lucky enough to listen in! Take it away, guys.] 

SARAH: It started with nostalgia! Sophie and I were talking about those old Christmas Anthologies that Pocket Books would put out — with Judith McNaught, Jude Deveraux, Julie Garwood, et al., and we thought, wait…why don’t we write one? 

SOPHIE: I started thinking about all the Christmas movies that are unmissable for me every year…then I started thinking about historical romances and our beloved dukes…and I blurted to Sarah: HOW THE DUKES STOLE CHRISTMAS! We might have squealed in excitement … then we started wondering who else should we ask to do this anthology with us…

SARAH: There were two dream writers we knew we wanted to work with! 

JOANNA: When Sarah called me, the only part I heard was, “I was wondering if you’d be interested in—” before I cut her off and yelled, “YES!” I could have been agreeing to a movie date or an Ocean’s 8-level jewel heist. It didn’t matter. Whatever it was, I was IN. When I paused long enough to let her tell me their idea I was bursting with excitement. The concept was perfect. And the chance to work with these three authors? An absolute dream.

TESSA: Wait. Is it too late to plan an Ocean’s 8-level jewel heist, too? Because I’m down for that. 

Like Joanna, I was pleased as Christmas punch to be asked! I love novellas, I love holiday movies, and most of all I love Sarah, Sophie, and Joanna and their writing. Since we each write historicals set in different time periods, Sarah and Sophie had the brilliant idea of four novellas arranged chronologically—the eras of the Regency (me), early Victorian (Sarah), late Victorian (Sophie), and Gilded Age (Joanna)—all connected by a common thread of holiday magic. That’s where the enchanted shortbread came in.

SARAH: Everyone loves a holiday baked good.

SOPHIE: 4 sexy Dukes + cookies = nothing yummier!

SARAH: It didn’t take long for us to settle on Shortbread–the quintessential British baked good. My mom is English, and her mom was Scottish, and we just happened to have a family shortbread recipe (which is in the back of the book!). But it couldn’t just be a cookie, it had to be magic–and then Tessa came up with the idea to make the cookies taste horrid. Which was inspired. 

SOPHIE: There are so many fun things happening in this anthology…but maybe my favorite thing?! We each decided (again for the love of holiday nostalgia!) take our favorite holiday movie and use it as inspiration for our individual stories. My favorite Christmas movie is HOME ALONE…so I wrote HEIRESS ALONE…where an abandoned/forgotten heiress gets up to all kinds of shenanigans with a sexy hermit duke next door. Oh! And of course there are brigands robbing homes up and down the countryside.

JOANNA: I loved the movie twist. I really wanted to use a classic holiday movie from old Hollywood, and one of my favorite tough-talking, glamorous actresses was Barbara Stanwyck. I love the wacky and romantic plot of Christmas in Connecticut, and that seemed perfect for my Gilded Age Christmas in Central Park.

SARAH: For me, this was a no brainer. I’m kind of a Scrooge myself — I like the holidays fine, but do they have to be so much work? So I went with my very favorite Christmas movie — Scrooged! I love how cynical and dark it is, and I’ve always thought the second-chance romance possibilities in A Christmas Carol were way too underused. So, in The Duke of Christmas Present, we meet Eben (get it?!), drunk on Christmas Eve, finding his very own Christmas “ghost” clanking about in the kitchens. She’s Jacqueline, the love he lost years earlier. But she’s back in town, and she’s got one snowy Christmas to show him what he’s missed. 

TESSA: My movie—Meet me in St. Louis (Which became MEET ME IN MAYFAIR)—isn’t usually considered a “Christmas movie”, but parts take place at Christmas, and it is the origin of one of my favorite holiday songs, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”. In both the film and my novella, a large, boisterous family is preparing to move away from the home they’ve always known, and the young ladies of the family are so desperate to stay, they’re willing to take matters into their own hands. There’s also a fun element with two friends swapping dance cards, which is a perfect element for a Regency story!

SOPHIE: I really am so happy that we were able to write these stories for readers – there’s honestly nothing I love more than a holiday anthology. 

JOANNA: Same! I hope our Dukes will be annual holiday rereads for a long time. 

SARAH: With cookies. Delicious ones.  

TESSA: Happy holidays…and happy reading! 

About the Authors:

Tessa Dare is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty historical romances.

Mixing wit, sensuality, and emotion, Tessa writes Regency-set romance novels that feel relatable to modern readers. With her bestselling “Spindle Cove”, “Castles Ever After”, and “Girl Meets Duke” series, she has had great fun creating heroines who defy the conventions of their time—engaging in “unladylike” pursuits that range from paleontology to beer-making—and dreaming up the strong-willed, sexy heroes who find their hearts ensnared by them.

A librarian by training and a booklover at heart, Tessa makes her home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband, their two children, and a trio of cosmic kitties.

Sarah MacLean is a New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestselling author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages.

A columnist for The Washington Post, Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. Her work in support of romance and the women who read it earned her a place on’s Sheroes list and led Entertainment Weekly to call her “the elegantly fuming, utterly intoxicating queen of historical romance.” A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.

Sophie Jordan grew up in the Texas hill country where she wove fantasies of dragons, warriors, and princesses. A former high school English teacher, she’s also the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Avon historical romances. She now lives in Houston with her family. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes and Diet cherry Coke preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-TV shows. Sophie also writes paranormal romances under the name Sharie Kohler. 

Joanna Shupe has always loved history, ever since she saw her first Schoolhouse Rock cartoon. In 2013, Joanna won Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Historical. Since then, her books have appeared on numerous yearly “best of” lists, including Publishers Weekly, The Washington Post, Kirkus Reviews, Kobo, and BookPage.

She currently lives in New Jersey with her two spirited daughters and dashing husband.

How the Dukes Stole Christmas by Tessa Dare, Sarah MacLean, Sophie Jordan and Joanna Shupe

From the ballrooms of London, to abandoned Scottish castles, to the snowy streets of Gilded Age New York, four bestselling authors whip up unforgettable Christmas romance.

“Meet Me in Mayfair” by Tessa Dare
Louisa Ward needs a Christmas miracle. Unless she catches a wealthy husband at the ball, the Duke of Thorndale will evict her family from their home. When Louisa finds herself waltzing with the heartless Thorndale, she’s unnerved by his handsome looks—and surprising charm.

“The Duke of Christmas Present” by Sarah MacLean 
Rich and ruthless, Eben, Duke of Allryd doesn’t care for the holidays. But when Lady Jacqueline Mosby returns to town after a long absence, Eben falls under the spell of Christmas—and the woman he never stopped loving.

“Heiress Alone” by Sophie Jordan 
When Annis Bannister finds herself stranded in the Highlands during a Christmas snowstorm, she must fend off brigands terrorizing the countryside. Her only hope falls on her neighbor, a surly hermit duke who unravels her with a kiss. 
“Christmas in Central Park” by Joanna Shupe
Mrs. Rose Walker pens a popular advice/recipe column. No one knows Rose can’t even boil water. When her boss, Duke Havemeyer, insists she host a Christmas party, Rose must find a husband, an empty mansion, and a cook. But Rose fears her plan is failing—especially when Duke’s attentions make her want to step under the mistletoe with him.


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