Message From The Author

Author's Message

Dear Reader,

Whenever someone asks me why my books are set in the Victorian era, my first answer is usually, “Richard Armitage.” Got your attention, didn’t I? An Heiress at Heart is set in 1851, the same year as North and South, the classic English novel that was made into a popular BBC miniseries starring Richard Armitage as the hugely swoon-worthy Mr. John Thornton. But there is a tie-in besides simply the year, and that is the Great Exhibition.

Imagine a giant building made of glass. It is the length of six football fields. Its roof is three stories high—a portion of it is arched to enclose 90 foot elm trees. When you walk inside, sunlight pours through the glass onto plants, statuary, and colorful banners. The building is filled with items from around the world, including engineering marvels, inventions, and precious gems like the Hope Diamond. It was awe-inspiring at the time, and even today the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations is considered to be one of the high points of the Victorian era.

If you’ve seen North and South, you got a taste of the Great Exhibition. John Thornton and Margaret Hale have a chance meeting there. By the time the scene takes place, John and Margaret both know they are in love. However, they cannot admit it; they are surrounded by family and friends and romantic rivals, and they are kept apart by secrets they cannot reveal. It is a lovely, bittersweet scene.

An Heiress at Heart has two scenes set at the Great Exhibition, and one of them echoes the scene in North and South. Geoffrey and Lizzie are longing to declare their love for one another, but secrets separate them. In addition, they must suffer the heart-wrenching sorrow of watching their beloved walk away in the arms of another. I like to think that at the exact moment John and Margaret are meeting at one end of that magnificent glass building, Lizzie and Geoffrey’s encounter is taking place at the other. Although for both couples love seems impossibly out of reach, in time they will find their happy-ever-after.

An Heiress at Heart is about a woman who pretends to be another person, and for a time steps into her life. As readers, isn’t that what we do when we immerse ourselves in a good book? For a time we live vicariously in another person’s shoes. This is why I love historical novels. They transport me to times and places that no longer exist, but which are still very real in my imagination.

- Jennifer Delamere


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