Monday, April 3, 2017

Jenna Jaxon shares Only a Mistress Will Do

From Fedora to Dora:  A Change of Name
As many people may know, I am very picky about my characters’ names. I usually choose something that suits the character, just by the sound of it. Occasionally, I have chosen a name because it was a character I wanted to be unlikeable, so I chose a name I didn’t like, like Edgar, or Archibald, or Guy. For undesirable females I’ve had a Harriet and a Maude, and I’m sure there will be more as time goes on.

Once, back when Only Scandal Will Do released, I decided to try a somewhat different approach. A fellow chapter mate, Judi McCoy, had told us she provides an incentive for people to donate to animal rescue: Donate to the shelter, send a copy of the receipt to me, and she’d name a character after them in her next novel. I thought this was a gutsy idea, something to get fans excited about, so at the release party for Scandal, I offered the second place winner of a contest to give their name to a character in Only A Mistress Will Do, which I was in the process of writing.

So excited, I got the number from and my winner turned out to be a woman named Fedora Chen. I contacted her and we were excited together. Then I started to think about the logistics of this choice. I loved the name Fedora. I love fedoras—a very classy hat! But not exactly a proper name for a woman in the 18th century in England. So I wrote back to Fedora and told her my predicament, and suggested that I take part of her first name, Dora, as my character’s name. She agreed, and became Miss Dora Harper, the daughter of Viscount Downing, and the betrothed of Tristan, Lord Trevor, the book’s hero. However, Dora was not the heroine.

She’s the other woman, originally named Louisa, a blonde (and I mean BLONDE) girl, very scatter-brained and superficial, very unsuited to Tris. She was a very minor character to begin with, having only two scenes in the book. Then, once she was renamed Dora, my character took on a totally different personality. She became endearing. You may actually root for her to end up with Tris. And I’m very happy if you do. I grew to like Dora very much (so much so she may have her own book one day) and hope you do as well. It’s all because of Fedora Chen and her lovely name.


Jenna Jaxon

The man of her dreams . . . belongs to another woman.

Destitute and without friends, Violet Carlton is forced to seek employment at the House of Pleasure in London. She steels herself for her first customer and is shocked when the man rescues her instead of ravishing her. A grateful Violet cannot help but admire the handsome Viscount Trevor. But she must curb her desire for the dashing nobleman she can never have because he is already betrothed to another . . .

Tristan had gone to the House of Pleasure for a last bit of fun before he became a faithful married man. But when he recognizes the woman in his bed, he becomes determined to save her instead. Now, his heart wars with his head as he falls for the vulnerable courtesan. Unable to break his betrothal without a scandal, Tris resolves to find Violet proper employment or a husband of her own. Still, his arms ache for Violet, urging him to abandon propriety and sacrifice everything to be with the woman he loves. . . .


“And you have now come to that desperate point where you seek employment with me?” The business-like tone, neither condoning nor condemning, stiffened Violet’s resolve.
“Yes, ma’am. As of today, I have nowhere else to go, no one to turn to.” A sickening churn of her stomach that had nothing to do with hunger sent tension through her. “Nothing else of value.”
Except herself.
“You are how old, Miss Carlton?”
“Nineteen, ma’am. Almost twenty.”
“Let me see you walk, please.” With a crisp snap, Vestry pulled the curtains open and nodded to the path between the sofa and fireplace.
Violet straightened her skirts as best she could. Suddenly stiff and self-conscious, she concentrated on putting one foot before the other until she came face to face with another obscene painting. She clenched her hands and averted her eyes.
“Turn please.”
Feeling more and more like a horse or a cow at Smithfield market, she did as she was told, hopefully with a bit more grace.
In reward, Vestry gave her a slight nod. “You speak and move as befit your station, Miss Carlton. With a little training, I suspect you will be quite popular with our patrons. I should be able to command a high price for your virginity.”
Violet’s feet tangled in the plush carpet.
The scant approval vanished as Vestry glared at her. “I assume you are intact?”
Oh, the shame. How could this woman suggest she had already lain with a man? Bitterness flooded her mouth and her chest ached with mortification. Finally, she managed a curt nod.
“Lie down on the sofa please.”
“What? Why?”
“I am not fool enough to take your word, Miss Carlton.” Vestry smiled mirthlessly. “A brief inspection will allow me to assure your buyer he is indeed purchasing a virgin.”
Her cheeks heated at the humiliation this woman suggested. The cold inevitability of her situation rolled over her, engulfing her as though she was drowning beneath a relentless sea. Madame Vestry demanded almost nothing compared to the real horror awaiting her at the hands of her buyer. Still, she had chosen to live. She could no longer afford the luxury of respectability.

What a delightful read!
With all her family dead, Violet voluntarily goes to the House of Pleasure to sell her body to men for pleasure. Since she is a virgin, her first should bring significant money. Fortunately, her customer realizes who she is and insists upon rescuing her and finding her proper work instead.

Which brings me to a hard reality of the era, be it Regency or Victorian. There was little women could do to bring in money, and what proper work there was available was poorly paid. In addition, just because the work might be considered ‘proper’ often the working situation was not. Owners and men of importance could do much harm to a pretty young woman without repercussions. And if the lady protested or fought him off, it was likely she would be fired without references.

Thus, the situation Jenna created for Violet is completely credible. As is that the man Violet had fallen for was sadly already promised to another young lady that he barely knew. Normally, in such a situation, the author writes the young bride to be a dreadful person, so you won’t feel bad for her, when surely, somehow the two lovers will run off and marry.

Yet Jena created a more honorable and probable character, which made me wonder how she was going to resolve matters when I liked both young women vying for a single man.

And I’ll stop sharing at this point, except to say Jenna Jaxon has outdone herself and I believe this is my new favorite of this series. And I love her positive and strong portrayal of women.


Jenna Jaxon is a multi-published author of historical in all time periods because passion is timeless.  She has been reading and writing historical romance since she was a teenager.  A romantic herself, she has always loved a dark side to the genre, a twist, suspense, a surprise.  She tries to incorporate all of these elements into her own stories. She’s a theatre director when she’s not writing and lives in Virginia with her family, including two very vocal cats.
Jenna is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America as well as Vice-President of Chesapeake Romance Writers, her local chapter of RWA. She has three series currently available: The House of Pleasure, set in Georgian England, Handful of Hearts, set in Regency England, and Time Enough to Love, set in medieval England and France.
She currently writes to support her chocolate habit.

Find Jenna Jaxon online:


  1. Thank you so much, Liza, for hosting me as Only A Mistress Will Do releases! I hope to have lots of fun today since you're such a fabulous hostess!

  2. What a wonderful story. I love how names can totally change a character! I wish you all the best!

    1. Thank you, Melissa! Yes, this character turn around 180 degrees and now will have her own book in the next series!

    2. I'm presently reading the book, it is an even better story!

  3. Great story. I've done the same thing - in my next book one of the characters is named after a contest winner.
    Best of luck with the upcoming release.

    1. Thank you, Daryl. Yes, I'm holding another one of those contests tomorrow for a character for book 4, to come out next year. I think it's really cool!

  4. Love the name game. I was amused that Archibald is a name for a villain for you--it's a name I think of with pleasure. Maybe going back to The Secret Garden and his dead wife whispering to the previously-assumed-to-be-cold guardian, "Archie! In the garden." Where he discovers Mary and the rebirth of the garden as a garden. . . Fun blog.

    1. Thanks, Beppie! Believe it or not, I never read The Secret Garden! Maybe I'll have to read it and redeem Archibald as a name in a future cook. :)

    2. I agree with Beppie. Archibald is not the name of villain. You must redeem! Archie is a kind man, that may be a bit clumsy and awkward, but well meaning.


    1. Thank you, Liza! So, so glad to see your review. I do appreciate it and am thrilled you enjoyed it so much. Scandal will be getting jealous. LOL

  6. Love the review - wow! Congratulations. I like tweaking names. Have a sweet-sounding name tied to a corrupt person. Hehehe Best wishes!


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