Okay, I get it. ‘Duke’ and ‘Billionaire’ are shorthand for ‘rich, hot, and powerful’. But I’m cursed (or possibly blessed) with a literal mind, and I know how few dukes there have been in England in any one time. How few of any type of peer, really. In 1814, Great Britain had 25 dukes in total, and 508 peers (dukes, marquises, earls, viscounts and barons). This in a country of around 35 million people. You attained a peerage by waiting for the previous holder to die or by doing something exceptional for the king. So most peers were older.
That said, I’ve read some great duke stories, and the rich, hot and powerful thing really works. Even so, very few of my heroes have or are in line for a title, and even fewer of my heroines. In A Raging Madness, my retired cavalry officer wants to breed horses, and my heroine is looking for a medical job, having been trained as a doctor by her father.
Let’s talk about historical jobs for heroes and heroines. What would you like to see?
An unexpected honour
Alex does not expect to be raised to the peerage, and he is not that pleased. He fears it will place more barriers between him and Ella. And he is right.
Half an hour later, there was a knock on the door.
Ella, expecting a maid or Susan, called out, “Enter.”
Alex opened the door just enough to slide inside and closed it again behind him.
“Before you say, I know I shouldn’t be here, but I had to tell you first, before anyone else.”
Ella frowned. He looked… stunned. As if someone had hit him on the side of the head with a large plank and he had registered the blow but not yet the pain. Swiftly, she crossed the room and took his hands.
“What is it? What has happened? What can I do?”
“I don’t think there is anything to be done. The King… They said a barony, but I never expected this.” He shook his head. “I am not making sense. I have had a shock.”
“Sit down.” She tugged his hand and he followed her unresisting to the seat by the fire.
“There. Can I get you some water? Where does it hurt?”
“The King has made me a viscount, Ella. Aldridge said a baron, which was ridiculous enough. But apparently, he had a spare viscountcy, so there you are. Viscount Renshaw.” He bowed slightly in the chair, more of a nod of the head. “At your service.”
“But…” She frowned, trying to understand. “That is not a bad thing, Alex, surely? My lord, I mean.”
“See? That is exactly what I was afraid of.” He looked disgusted, but at least less pole axed than when he arrived. “I have spent weeks trying to get you to regard me as an ordinary man, and what does the King do? If you call me ‘my lord’, Ella, I swear I will not be accountable for my actions.”
“You are though. Lord Renshaw.”
“Me and the heirs male of my body,” he agreed, gloomily, then brightened a little. “The estate is not a bad size and is in the Lincolnshire Wolds, which is good horse country. It will be in terrible condition, I imagine, for the King to give it away, but it might be a good base for our horse breeding, do you not think? We could go and see it after Christmastide.”
Ella’s mind was still on the heirs male. He would have to marry. That is what peers did. She should not mind. After all, except for one kiss that burned in her memory, there was nothing between them. Only friendship. But when she had agreed to partner him in the venture, she had owned a colt, and she had not thought of him having a wife. Surely he understood it could no longer be ‘our’ venture?
He misunderstood her silence. “No. I suppose you will not come. I will go and inspect it, and report, Ella.” He pulled himself to his feet. “I had better go before someone catches me in your room. Please do not hate me for being a peer. I could not help it, and I cannot bear to lose you… Your friendship, I mean.”
Her smile was a thing of the lips, not the heart, but she did the best she could. “We will always be friends, Alex.”