The 12 Dukes of Christmas is a series of heartwarming Regency romps nestled in a picturesque snow-covered village. After all, nothing heats up a winter night quite like finding oneself in the arms of a duke…
0.5 Making Merry (prequel)
1. Once Upon a Duke
1.5 Love Letters (bonus epilogue)
2. Kiss of a Duke
3. Wish Upon a Duke
4. Never Say Duke
5. Dukes, Actually
6. The Duke’s Bride
7. The Duke’s Embrace
8. The Duke’s Desire
8.5 Le Duc Family Christmas (bonus epilogue)
9. Dawn with a Duke
10. One Night with a Duke
11. Ten Days with a Duke
12. Forever Your Duke
Exclusive Bonus Content
- Making Merry (prequel novella)
- Love Letters (second epilogue to Once Upon a Duke)
- A le Duc Christmas (second epilogue to The Duke’s Desire)
12 Dukes of Christmas DOWNLOADABLE COLORING PAGES
WIN $100: Erica is giving away $10 to 12 lucky winners, and $100 to a grand prize winner!
To enter: print out and color the 12 Dukes of Christmas coloring pages of your choice, or color them on your phone or computer.
Then post it on social media with hashtag #12Dukes, tagging @EricaRidley
If you don’t have social media, just email your fan art to firstname.lastname@example.org and you’re entered to win!
In December 2020, we’ll draw one $10 winner per book cover, as well as one randomly chosen $100 grand prize winner.
Every fan art is an entry to win… You can color all twelve!
Click to see the full rectangular image, then right-click to download (or press and hold on a mobile device.)
FAQ: Are the 12 Days of Christmas out of order?
The lyrics of The Twelve Days of Christmas have varied by region and throughout history.
At the time of the Regency, the lyrics were:
- Partridge in a pear tree
- Turtle doves
- French hens
- Colly birds
- Gold rings
- Geese a laying
- Swans a swimming
- Maids a milking
- Drummers drumming
- Pipers piping
- Ladies dancing
- Lords a leaping
FAQ: What is a locket eye miniature?
These could be worn as lockets or brooches, or otherwise saved or hidden.
Rumor has it, the Prince Regent wore a lover’s eye miniature of Maria Fitzherbert pinned beneath his lapel.
FAQ: Was Matilda Bethem a real poet?
Her poem, The Heir, makes an appearance in NEVER SAY DUKE.
See yon tall stripling! how he droops forlorn!
How slow his pace! how spiritless his eye!
Like a dark cloud in summer’s rosy dawn,
He saddens pleasure as he passes by.
Long kept in exile by paternal pride,
He feels no joy beneath this splendid dome;
For, till the elder child of promise died,
He knew a dearer, though a humbler home.
Then the proud sail was spread! The youth obey’d,
Left ev’ry friend, and every scene he knew;
For ever left the soul-affianc’d maid,
Though his heart sicken’d as he said—Adieu;
And nurses still, with superstitious care,
The sigh of fond remembrance and despair.
Heroes and Heroines, by Book
|First Name||Last Name||Primary Book||Note|
|Noelle||Pratchett||Heroine||Once Upon a Duke|
|Benjamin||Ward||Hero||Once Upon a Duke||Duke of Silkridge|
|Penelope||Mitchell||Heroine||Kiss of a Duke|
|Nicholas||Pringle||Hero||Kiss of a Duke|
|Gloria||Godwin||Heroine||Wish Upon a Duke|
|Christopher||Pringle||Hero||Wish Upon a Duke|
|Virginia||Underwood||Heroine||Never Say Duke|
|Theodore||O’Hanlon||Hero||Never Say Duke|
|Adam||Farland||Hero||Dukes, Actually||Duke of Azureford|
|Desirée||le Duc||Heroine||The Duke’s Bride|
|Jack||Skeffington||Hero||The Duke’s Bride|
|Eve||Shelling||Heroine||The Duke’s Embrace|
|Bastien||le Duc||Hero||The Duke’s Embrace|
|Meg (Margaret)||Church||Heroine||The Duke’s Desire|
|Lucien||le Duc||Hero||The Duke’s Desire|
|Isabelle||Borland||Heroine||Dawn with a Duke|
|Calvin||MacAlistair||Hero||Dawn with a Duke|
|Angelica||Parker||Heroine||One Night with a Duke|
|Jonathan||MacLean||Hero||One Night with a Duke|
|Olive||Harper||Heroine||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Elijah||Weston||Hero||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Cynthia Louise||Finch||Heroine||Forever Your Duke|
|Alexander||Borland||Hero||Forever Your Duke||Duke of Nottingvale|
Cast of Characters, by First Name
|First Name||Last Name||Note||Title/Job||Seen or mentioned in:|
|Aaron||Thompson||Hero||Solicitor||Making Merry, Once Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, One Night with a Duke, Ten Days with a Duke|
|Adam||Farland||Hero||Duke of Azureford||Once Upon a Duke, Kiss of a Duke, Never Say Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, Dawn with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Alexander||Borland||Hero||Duke of Nottingvale||Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke, Ten Days with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Angelica||Parker||Heroine||Jeweler||Once Upon a Duke, Dukes Actually, Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke|
|Annie||Skeffington||Neighbor||daughter to Jack, sister to Frederick||Once Upon a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire|
|Bastien||le Duc||Hero||Blacksmith / Carriages||The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, Ten Days with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Beatrice||Munroe||London||Theo’s unbetrothed||Never Say Duke|
|Beau||Brummel||dandy||Kiss of a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke, Ten Days with a Duke|
|Benjamin||Ward||Hero||Duke of Silkridge||Once Upon a Duke, Kiss of a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke|
|Calvin||McAlistair||Hero||Entrepreneur||Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Carole||Quincy||Heroine||Interior Designer||Wish Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, Forever Your Duke|
|Christopher||Pringle||Hero||Adventurer||Once Upon a Duke, Kiss of a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke|
|Cynthia Louise||Finch||Heroine||Seasonal actress in The Winters Tale?||Making Merry, Forever Your Duke|
|Desirée||le Duc||Heroine||Governess / Chaperone||Wish Upon a Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, Forever Your Duke|
|doctor||Quinney||Forever Your Duke|
|Elijah||Weston||Hero||Botanist||Ten Days with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Enid||Staff||maid to Nottingvale||One Night with a Duke|
|Estelle||Blair||Heroine||Theatre Director||Making Merry|
|Esther||Parker||niece to Angelica||One Night with a Duke|
|Esther||Staff||staff at posting house||Dawn with a Duke|
|Eve||Shelling||Heroine||Journalist||Wish Upon a Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire|
|Ezekiel||Staff||staff at posting house||Dawn with a Duke|
|Florence||Parker||niece to Angelica||One Night with a Duke|
|Fred||Fawkes||Staff||castle clerk||Once Upon a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke|
|Frederick||Skeffington||Neighbor||son to Jack, brother to Annie||Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire|
|Gertie||Lady Gertrude||cousin to Cynthia Louise||Forever Your Duke|
|Gilbert||Harper||Family||Father to Olive||The Duke’s Embrace, Ten Days with a Duke|
|Gloria||Godwin||Heroine||Astronomer||Kiss of a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire|
|Great-Aunt||Murray||Family||sponsor to Carole Quincy||Dukes, Actually|
|Hester||Staff||maid (Skeffington)||The Duke’s Bride|
|Horace||Staff||footman to Nottingvale||One Night with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Hortense||debutante, party guest||Forever Your Duke|
|Hubert||Underwood||Virginia’s father||Never Say Duke|
|Isabelle||Borland||Heroine||Lady Isabelle (Belle)||Dawn with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Jack||Skeffington||Hero||Smuggler||Wish Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, One Night with a Duke, Ten Days with a Duke|
|Jacob||Marlowe||Cressmouth’s Founder||Making Merry, Once Upon a Duke, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, One Night with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Jasper||Vance||Family||Uncle Jasper||The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, Forever Your Duke|
|Jonathan||MacLean||Hero||Entrepreneur||Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Judith||Staff||maid to Carole Quincy||Dukes, Actually|
|Lady||Eddlestone||mother to Gertie||Forever Your Duke|
|Letitia||Parker||cousin to Angelica||One Night with a Duke|
|Lord||Eddlestone||father to Gertie||Forever Your Duke|
|Lord||Milbotham||marquess (Eli’s father)||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Lord||Ramsbury||Marquess (Theo’s father)||Never Say Duke|
|Lucien||le Duc||Hero||Blacksmith / Carriages||Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire, Ten Days with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Madge||Staff||maid to Gloria Godwin||Wish Upon a Duke|
|Maurice||Parker||preacher, uncle to Angelica||One Night with a Duke|
|Meg (Margaret)||Church||Heroine||Dairy||The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Desire|
|Mildred||Staff||staff at posting house||Dawn with a Duke|
|Miss||Twittington||party guest||Forever Your Duke|
|Miss||Whittleburr||party guest||Forever Your Duke|
|Morris||Staff||footman to Nottingvale||One Night with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Mr.||Anderson||Staff||footman to Shelling||The Duke’s Embrace|
|Mr.||Anderson||Neighbor||sleigh driver||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Mr.||Bauer||Neighbor||baker||One Night with a Duke|
|Mr.||Brough||Pseudonym||fake name for Belle||Dawn with a Duke|
|Mr.||Hawkins||Staff||footman to Skeffingtons||The Duke’s Bride|
|Mr.||Oswald||Staff||butler to Nottingvale||One Night with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Mr.||Paterson||Staff||man of business to Azureford||Dukes, Actually|
|Mr.||Pinfield||Staff||footman/butler for le Ducs||The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, The Duke’s Desire|
|Mr.||Redmire||Friend||smuggler||The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace|
|Mr.||Shelling||Family||Father to Eve||The Duke’s Embrace|
|Mr.||Wilson||Local||postman||The Duke’s Embrace|
|Mrs.||Blair||Staff||head housekeeper, castle||Making Merry, Kiss of a Duke|
|Mrs.||Griffiths||Neighbor||has kids||One Night with a Duke|
|Mrs.||MacDonald||Staff||housekeeper for Quincys||Dukes, Actually|
|Nicholas||Pringle||Hero||rake, “Saint Nick”||Once Upon a Duke, Kiss of a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke|
|Nigel||Neighbor||6 year old boy||Once Upon a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, The Duke’s Bride|
|Noelle||Pratchett||Heroine||Clerk in Counting House||Once Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, The Duke’s Embrace, One Night with a Duke|
|Octavia||Parker||Family||aunt to Angelica||One Night with a Duke|
|Olive||Harper||Heroine||Stud Farm||Once Upon a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Dukes Actually, The Duke’s Bride, The Duke’s Embrace, Dawn with a Duke, Ten Days with a Duke, Forever Your Duke|
|Penelope||Mitchell||Heroine||Perfumer||Once Upon a Duke, Kiss of a Duke, Wish Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke, Dukes Actually|
|Prince||Regent||Prinny||The Duke’s Embrace, Dawn with a Duke, One Night with a Duke, Ten Days with a Duke|
|Rhoda||Staff||maid for Quincys||Dukes, Actually|
|Sally||Skeffington||deceased||Jack’s first wife||The Duke’s Bride|
|Stephen||Bauer||Neighbor||baker’s son||One Night with a Duke|
|Swinton||Staff||butler to Azureford||Never Say Duke, Dukes Actually|
|Theodore||O’Hanlon||Hero||Viscount Ormondton||Never Say Duke|
|Timmy||Wilson||Neighbor||son of postman||Forever Your Duke|
|Ursula||Staff||maid to Belle||Dawn with a Duke|
|Valeria||Underwood||London||Virginia’s sister||Never Say Duke|
|Vera||Underwood||London||Virginia’s sister||Never Say Duke|
|Virginia||Underwood||Heroine||Bird expert||Never Say Duke|
|Viveca||Underwood||London||Virginia’s sister||Never Say Duke|
Named Animals and Pets
|Blitzen||Horse||Olive Harper||Wish Upon a Duke|
|Charley||Horse||Olive Harper||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Chef||Pig||Le Ducs||The Duke’s Bride, Embrace, Desire|
|Coco||Dog||Theodore O’Hanlon||Never Say Duke|
|Dancer||Partridge||Castle Aviary||Once Upon a Duke, Never Say Duke|
|Dasher||Chaffinch||Virginia Underwood||Kiss of a Duke, Never Say Duke|
|Duenna||Dog||Eve Shelling||Dukes, Actually|
|Duke I||Cat||Virginia Underwood||Never Say Duke, One Night with a Duke|
|Duke II||Horse||Olive Harper||Ten Days with a Duke, One Night with a Duke|
|Max||Dog||Lady Gertrude||Forever Your Duke|
|Mr. Edward||Horse||Olive Harper||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Rudolph||Horse||Olive Harper||Ten Days with a Duke|
|Tiny Tim||Goat||Castle||Once Upon a Duke|
Author's Note: Once Upon a Duke
Perhaps because of this, it was so much fun to weave elements of homage into Benjamin and Noelle’s romance. You may also spot nods to other holiday classics throughout the entire 12 Dukes of Christmas series.
I hope you enjoy reading these stories as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them!
Author's Note: Kiss of a Duke
One day, I was shaking my head about the over-the-top “You’ll need to hide from all the women!” advertisements of men’s colognes, similar to Hai Karate and Axe Body Spray.
I began to wonder what the Regency equivalent might look like, and asked myself: What if the creator is a woman, rather than a man? What if her ultimate goal is to give the power to women? And what if her love interest is a dashing London rake who hates her perfume because it cramps his style?
(In case it’s not obvious, I spend a good chunk of my work day giggling at my keyboard.)
“Saint Nick” is more directly related to Christmas. Not only is his name a synonym for Santa Claus, many of his quirks and actions are inspired by Christmas stories and carols.
He visits only one night, he spends all his time in his workshop, he always brings a gift, he can’t resist the cookies left for him on the mantel, he goes up on the housetop, and many more.
Plus, there’s Penelope’s prediction that he’ll one day be a fat man with white hair sitting around eating cookies!
Poor, long-suffering Nicholas. If it makes him feel better, I like to think of him as Hot Santa. Which means that Penelope—baker of cookies and lover of workshops—is destined to become his Mrs. Claus, apron and all.
Thank you for joining me on their journey to love. No matter what time of year you read this romance, I hope it brings you moments of good cheer!
Author's Note: Never Say Duke
The Regency Era, when this story takes place, is one hundred years before the first use of the word “autism,” and even further removed from the resources and growing understanding that we have today.
Virginia’s parents would have had no frame of reference for why their child was not behaving as they wished. It would likewise be impossible for Virginia to fulfill their desires.
Finding friends, safety, and agency in a town like Christmas would have been a godsend for Virginia.
Here, she can interact as much as she wishes and seek privacy and less stimulation whenever she needs, allowing her to explore the world on her terms and at her pace, and finally realize she is every bit as smart, talented, and worthy as everyone else. She has a place. She is wanted. She belongs.
Someone as wonderful as Virginia doesn’t just deserve love. She deserves happily ever after.
As for Theo? The poor man never had a chance. 😉
Author's Note: One Night with a Duke
Black people have been living in England since the 1100s.
Numbers increased significantly from the 17th century onward, but the presence of Black people would not have been a surprising sight in Shakespeare’s time, and certainly not unusual by the Regency era.
Jane Austen’s unfinished manuscript Sandition features a sought-after mixed-race heroine. It is a truth universally acknowledged that an heiress from the West Indies in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a husband.
Long before slavery was abolished throughout the British Empire in 1833, free Black people lived a full range of lives, from paid servants to working class to fame and fortune. Musicians, sailors, preachers, businessmen, inventors, political activists. Black princes and dignitaries from African nations were celebrated in Polite Society.
There was still virulent racism, widespread disenfranchisement, and countless atrocities, despite one’s status and supposed freedom. Even African princes could pay a white sea captain for transport to England only to find himself sold into slavery instead.
You may like to learn more about:
- Ignatius Sancho (composer, writer 1729-1780)
- Dido Elizabeth Belle (heiress 1761-1804)
- George Africanus (entrepreneur 1763-1834)
- Olaudah Equiano (writer & abolitionist 1745-1797)
- Bill Richmond (pugilist & pub owner 1763-1829)
- Joseph Emidy (musician & composer 1775-1835)
- George Bridgetower (virtuoso violinist 1778-1860)
- Cesar Picton (merchant & gentleman 1755-1836)
- Reasonable Blackman (silk merchant 1579-1592)
- Queen Charlotte (African-Portuguese ancestry 1744-1818)
For further reading, you may like Black London by Gretchen Gerzina, which at the time of this writing can be downloaded for free from the Dartmouth College website.
Author's Note: Ten Days with a Duke
Sign language has been recorded within Deaf communities in England since 1570, although the first school, “Braidwood’s Academy for the Deaf and Dumb,” was not founded until 1760.
In the story, I’ve shortened this name slightly so as not to hurt or jar modern readers at the unfortunate terminology that was used at the time.
It’s important to note that reading lips is not easy, particularly for those who are born Deaf. It is often infeasible when there are more than two people in the conversation.
Interpreting also takes extraordinary effort. Because the two languages use different grammatical structures, it’s almost impossible to speak both at the same time without one or both languages suffering.
Even professional interpreters are rarely active participants in the primary conversation they are interpreting, which is why Olive must respond first in one language before repeating dialogue in the other.
I speak a different language at home (Spanish) than the one I use professionally (English).
Although my husband and I are fluent in both languages, we both have different interpretation styles when a situation forces us to act as translator to a mixed crowd.
I like to listen to the whole statement or story before recounting it, in order to keep as much flavor (tone, humor, inflection, timing, etc) to the original as possible.
Roy prefers to pause to translate every few words or after each sentence, in order to minimize the amount of time any one person is left out of the conversation.
There are no simple answers, and either way can be exhausting and frustrating. I empathize very much with all participants.
If you are ever in a situation where you do not speak the language, please be patient and understanding. It is often just as upsetting for the other party, who also desperately wishes it was easier to communicate.
And if you are the one doing the translating… Have an extra hug from me to you! 🙂