A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing is my first Regency romance, but it’s not my first brush with spirited heroines of the era. X number of years ago New York City was full of little theaters stuffed into apartment building basements and squirreled away in church lofts. It was during these X years that I became an actress. Like all the other actresses in the city, (there were about seventy-five-thousand of us then) I scrambled from one non-paying gig to the next, just thrilled to be in a play, any play.
Of all the postage-stamp stages on which I trod, perhaps the tiniest belonged to The Westside Repertory Theatre, which was so small fifth-row center amounted to the back of the auditorium. Stage left was literally a closet, and stage right shared space with the storefront of a pickle vendor who fancied himself a guru, and a Chinese laundry. The dressing room housed not only all of the actors, but the props, the costumes and the company’s entire collection of furniture. In the middle of a show, we sometimes heard hoards of rats thundering overhead as they raced across the tin ceiling, but for all of its shortcomings, WRT put on some great theater.
I appeared in dozens of productions at WRT. Of them all, my favorite was a play titled She Stoops to Conquer, a comedy by Oliver Goldsmith that appeared in London in 1773. The plot revolves around smart-as-a-whip Kate Hardcastle and Charles Marlow, the man she wishes to marry. Marlow is shy around women of stature, so Kate poses as a maid to put him at ease. She “stoops,” and as with all good love stories, she conquers. That play was the inspiration for A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing. There are very few plot similarities between the two texts except that my hero, Lord Hugh Davenport, is uncomfortable around well-bred women. My hope, however, is that some of the fun and adventure found in She Stoops to Conquer can also be mined from the pages of A Rogue in Sheep’s Clothing.