Ranee Clark returns to shelves with new historical romance

Ryan Fitzmaurice
Lovell romance author Ranee Clark held a book signing Tuesday evening for her newest offering “A Lady’s Promise.”

The novel sees Clark tackle historical fiction with a new vigor, shaking up her usual approach to romance stories. The plot summary shows a young protagonist having to overcome complex family relationships. 

“For orphaned New York socialite Isabella De Vries, finding a husband has become imperative…She trusts Preston implicitly, but his solution is both unconventional and heartbreaking: he himself will marry Isabella in name alone so that she may be the sole beneficiary of his inheritance when he succumbs to the disease that will soon take his life,” the summary reads. “There is no love left between Prince Baxter and his older brother. When he hears that Preston is going to marry Isabella, Prince knows he will have to charm his way into friendship with Isabella if he wants to see any portion of the inheritance money. His plot, however, quickly crumples to pieces as he and Isabella establish a genuine connection — and he makes the mistake of falling in love with her.”

Clark said she has long been fascinated by regency romance novels, which take place in Britian during the early 19th century, but said that she wanted to find a unique way to approach the concept. The Gilded Age of America seemed just right.

“It takes place in 1895 right around the turn of the century. The fun thing about the Gilded Age is that the Americans were making a lot of money. They had obscene amounts of money but they didn’t have that social clout. They were trying to create this social nobility in America,” Clark said. “It harkens back to that regency and nobility, the searching for husbands, without me having to write a regency romance.”

In some ways, the Gilded Age is a very similar environment to today’s world,  Clark said. 

“A lot of people will compare the Guilded Age to the time we’re in now,” Clark said. “people with obscene wealth showing it off and just the disparities between the upper classes and lower classes.”

Readers will find other points of similarity, as well, Clark said. 

“This one is very loosely based on Beauty and the Beast in that the main male character reforms as he goes through the plot,” Clark said. “He’s not a giant wolf, but he’s kind of spoiled and a little bit lazy as he starts.”

Clark has a college degree in history and has previously written a novel that took place after World War II. Historical fiction isn’t new to Clark’s wheelhouse, but she said this novel was a challenge for her. With historical fiction, even the most minute details may need a heavy lift of research.

“You have to put a lot more into them. There’s still worldbuilding in contemporary novels, but it’s easier because I live in that world. When you go back in history, you have to understand it a lot more,” Clark said. “With this book, I had a lot of worries that I wasn’t good enough to write historical at this level.”

But, Clark said that a fellow writing professional who she sent an early draft to was unequivocal in stating it was the best book she read from Clark.

“It was super difficult for me. I had to overcome imposter syndrome,” Clark said. “But seeing the reviews and having someone I trust in writing telling me I did it made every second I agonized over this book worth it.”

Clark was first published in 2015. She has five adult romance novels and has also published multiple novellas and young adult books.

“I don’t do math so I can’t tell you how many books I’ve written,” Clark said.