Back in 2014, I conceived the idea for a new series of books, historical romances based in the Regency period. Entitled The Marriage Broker, the series would tell three interconnecting love stories, with very loose allusions to three fairy tales. Mrs. Minerva Pringle, marriage broker and spy—or agent for the Crown—was a secondary figure in the first two books, accompanied by the faithful Oliver, her foster brother.
I always know how my books end before I begin writing. Anything else makes no sense. But when I started How to Marry a Beast, my Beauty and the Beast story, I had the hazy idea that Minerva’s husband would re-surface in the last book, confessing his devotion and winning her love. But then something happened. I know that the most dedicated of plotters may sneer, but Oliver changed my mind. He was so…hero-like. Strong, devoted, a man of few words ready to defend those in need. It didn’t hurt that he was handsome, with long dark hair and broad shoulders.
So, if I couldn’t resist Oliver, how could Minerva? Over the course of writing that first book, it became evident how close Minerva and Oliver were—and how perfectly matched they were. Their relationship grew throughout the second book, How to Rescue Rapunzel, when they were involved with assisting Thor and Angelica to find their own happy ending. And then Minerva’s husband showed up at the end of that story—with a cliff hanger no less.
And then I couldn’t finish the book! I wrote other books and kept going back to Minerva and Oliver, without ever completing their story. I kept writing it, bit by bit, until the problem revealed itself. Oliver had been cast as the second banana in the two previous books, a solid supporting character. In order for Oliver to become the hero of his own story (apologies to Charles Dickens) I needed to know more about him and about where he came from. I had to go back to the beginning.
I adored Minerva, but here I faced another set of problems. I had a solid grasp of Minerva, who she was and what she sounded like—brave, resourceful, no-nonsense, and not very warm-hearted. Again, why was she like this? Oliver’s backstory begat Minerva’s. As I wrote it, I realized the germ of Mrs. Pringle’s origins had been in my mind since the beginning. I knew Minerva believed her husband had nearly killed her, but I had to go back to her childhood to really discover what made her tick.
I had planned that Minerva’s story would allude to Little Red Riding Hood and once I began to really get into the story, I saw how the fairy tale could work within Ravishing Minerva—at least, I hope it did!
So, farewell, Mrs. Pringle. It was a pleasure to meet you.