Amanda Weaver on New Money and Old Titles
by Amanda Weaver, author of A Duchess in Name (Carina Press)
What’s an English nobleman to do when he inherits an estate that costs more to maintain than it can earn? Across Europe in the Victorian era, noblemen were facing this conundrum, and it led to a flood of mercenary marriages—just the sort featured in A Duchess in Name.
In America, a new generation of manufacturing heiresses had a different problem. Money couldn’t buy their way into staid New York society. But who needs New York when a girl can become a duchess with one “I do”?
As a history junkie, I can find something of interest in any era, but this collision of new money and old titles has always held a special appeal to me, and it’s the world I explore in the Grantham Girls series.
Dozens of these “cash for titles” marriages took place, allying new money with old titles, and the most famous was the marriage of Consuelo Vanderbilt to the ninth Duke of Marlborough. Consuelo was one of the wealthiest of the new American heiresses. The duke’s grand family estate, Blenheim, was crumbling around his ears. It was seemingly a perfect match. Every detail of her dress was noted in the papers and thousands crowded the streets around the church to catch a glimpse of the new American duchess. But this marriage was no fairy tale. Consuelo, who had been browbeaten by her ambitious mother into accepting the duke, was in love with someone else, and wept through the entire ceremony. On their honeymoon, the duke informed her he loved someone else, too. Off to a rocky start, their marriage only grew worse as time went on, and they separated after ten miserable years together.
Consuelo Vanderbilt’s fascinating but unhappy marriage provided the spark for Victoria in A Duchess in Name, and her equally troubled arranged marriage, but I am happy to report that Victoria and her duke find a much more satisfying ending. The era’s proliferation of “cash-for-titles” marriages have provided me with so much inspiration. I hope you’ll join me as Victoria and her friends navigate Europe’s ruthless marriage market in the Grantham Girls series.
About A Duchess in Name:
After graduating from British finishing school, an American heiress fulfills her duty and weds a destitute earl. A lie brought them together, but will it also tear them apart? Find out in this can’t-miss Victorian marriage-of-convenience story from a compelling new voice in historical romance.
Victoria Carson never expected love. An American heiress and graduate of Lady Grantham’s finishing school, she’s been groomed since birth to marry an English title—the grander the better. So when the man chosen for her, the forbidding Earl of Dunnley, seems to hate her on sight, she understands that it can’t matter. Love can have no place in this arrangement.
Andrew Hargrave has little use for his title and even less for his cold, disinterested parents. Determined to make his own way, he’s devoted to his life in Italy working as an archaeologist. Until the collapse of his family’s fortune drags him back to England to a marriage he never wanted and a woman he doesn’t care to know.
Wild attraction is an unwanted complication for them both, though it forms the most fragile of bonds. Their marriage of convenience isn’t so intolerable after all—but it may not be enough when the deception that bound them is finally revealed.
Book one of The Grantham Girls