It’s difficult to read a historical romance these days without getting utterly overwhelmed by titles.
Dukes, Earls, Viscounts, Counts: every single man seems to need a title to be attractive, and that can make things complicated.
Take William Lennox, Duke of Mercia, for example (spoilers: he’s a character in a new book that will be published next year!).
To his brother, he’s Will.
To his sister, he’s Bill.
To his friends who knew him before he ascended the title, he’s Lennox.
To his friends who knew him after he ascended the title, he’s Mercia.
This can mean that in one simple scene, depending on who is in the room, he can be addressed as Will, Bill, Lennox, and Mercia…and everyone in the room will understand what is going on.
The question is, do my readers?!?
It’s a constant challenge to make sure that my books are historically accurate but at the same time, understandable to those who are reading them. I don’t want to compromise too often, but there’s no point in writing a book if no one can enjoy it!
So yes: I’ve tried to simplify things. When my characters have titles (and yes, they have them rather often!), I focus on keeping the storytelling simple. They have enough complications with the wild heroines I send them…