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About Amanda







For each of the three “Muses of Mayfair” books, I wanted to find a different and vivid setting that would suit each Chase sisters’ personality.  In Calliope’s story, To Catch a Rogue, we saw the glittering social life of London and the wild, Gothic atmosphere of Yorkshire.  In Thalia’s book, To Kiss a Count, we’ll visit genteel, historical, and deceptive Bath.


But for Clio’s story, To Deceive a Duke, I knew we would need a place of great beauty and danger, somewhere exotic, where she could meet again her enemy—and lover—the Duke of Averton.  I decided to take them to the gorgeous island of Sicily.  The rich history there, along with the hot sun, the brilliant colors, and sense of hidden danger and lazy sensuality, suited Clio and her duke perfectly.


I based the ancient town the Chases are excavating on a site called Enna, a location buried in a 12th century mudslide that helped preserve its ancient sites.  It was first colonized by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and became a sort of vacation resort for them.  The mud covered the remains of an agora, a theater, houses and villas, altars, and shops.  Ovid called Enna, “where Nature decks herself in all her varied hues, where the ground is beauteous, carpeted with flowers of many tints.”  But it was destroyed during the Second Punic Wars, the inhabitants killed or taken into slavery, the city overgrown with olive and hazelnut orchards.


Clio’s farmhouse, where she finds the silver altar set hastily buried there during that final battle, is also based on a real site, and the silver pieces based on the famous cache, the “Morgantina silver,” now in the Metropolitan Museum.  And I had lots of fun doing the “difficult” work of researching authentic Sicilian meals and Marsala wine!  (Cassata, a dessert of ricotta, chocolate, citrus zest, and sponge cake, is especially yummy)


A few sources I used for To Deceive a Duke are:

  • Mary Taylor Simeti, On Persephone’s Island (1986)

  • Patrick Brydone, A Tour Through Siciliy and Malta (1840)

  • Goethe, Italian Journey (1786-1788), (trans. WH Auden and Elizabeth Mayer)

  • William Irvine, Letters on Sicily (1813)

  • WH Smyth, Memoir descriptive of the resources, inhabitants and hydrography of Sicily and its Islands interspersed with antiquarian and other notices (1820)

  • Francine Prose, Sicilian Odyssey (2003)

  • Paul Paolicelli, Under the Southern Sun (2003)

  • Sandra Benjamin, Sicily: 3000 Years of Human History (2006)

  • Gunther Zuntz, Persephone: Three Essays of Religion and Thought in Magna Graecia (1971)





Playing the Duke's Fiancee


 Last Updated:  September 2020                                                                                                                                                                              Site Designed and Maintained by Kelli McBride

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