Sabrina Jeffries’s new Regency romance series, Duke Dynasty— the first with her new publisher, Kensington—centers on the five children of Lydia Fletcher, Dowager Duchess of Armitage. The first book of the series, Project Duchess, publishes on June 25 and focuses on Fletcher “Grey” Pryde, Fifth Duke of Greycourt.

Despite plenty of wealth and good looks, Grey has had a tough life; his mother has been widowed multiple times, leaving him with trust issues and a hardened heart. But when he lays eyes on the Honorable Beatrice Wolfe—an outspoken, unconventional woman managing his latest stepfather’s funeral—Grey can’t help but stop and take notice. As luck would have it, Beatrice has given up on romance and isn’t impressed with the duke—that, is until they start spending more and more time together. Eventually Beatrice must choose between Grey and protecting her family secrets.

A grande dame of historical romance, Jeffries says that Duke Dynasty, her 10th historical series, will consist of four novels and a novella, starting with Project Duchess. The novella, titled “A Perfect Match,” will be published September 24 in the anthology Seduction on a Snowy Night, and the second novel, The Bachelor, publishes in March 2020. Each book focuses on one of the widowed matriarch’s children and the mysteries surrounding their various fathers. As for the third and fourth novels? Jeffries says they’re
still a bit of a mystery as well.

“I’ve sort of mapped out the mystery part, but that has to be fluid to fit the needs of the future books,” says Jeffries, who is based in North Carolina. “I’m about halfway through writing the series, so I’m starting to have to solidify the plan.”

Grey may be the leading man Jeffries focuses on in the series starter—and the first duke protagonist the author has written about since 2013—but he wasn’t the most difficult Project Duchess character to write. That honor went to Beatrice. “I had to reconcile her open and blunt personality with her desire to belong in a society that didn’t appreciate such characteristics,” Jeffries says. “I also had to reconcile her assumptions about men with her attraction to Grey. Lots of revisions were involved.”

Despite all that work, on average it takes Jeffries about seven months to complete a novel. So far, the New York Times–bestselling author has written 50 novels and works of short fiction, with more than nine million books in print in 20-plus languages. But that time frame all depends on what life brings her. Jeffries can write at such a fast pace—and meet the demands of her rabid fan base—in part because she is a self-described plot-driven writer who maps out her series in detail before putting pen to paper.

“As someone who has ADD and is impulsive, I find that I do better with structure,” Jeffries says. “I still can deviate from the plot to explore a character in more depth, but I prefer books that go along at a good clip, and I find that it’s easier to write that way if you know where you’re going.”

By carefully mapping out her books, Jeffries has no problem determining when a series has reached its conclusion. “I plot my entire series,” she says. “That means my series is done when I reach the end. Only once have I added an unanticipated book to a series.”

But despite carefully sequencing her series, the author does find aspects of novel writing difficult—for instance, Jeffries says, making certain to not “establish a character’s personality in an earlier book that won’t fit with the character by the time you get to their book.”

Another difficult aspect of writing? Making sure that modern readers can relate to her historical novels. “I’ve tried to adapt with the times,” Jeffries says, “which is no small feat when writing historical romance. I’m finding it more and more difficult to write rakehell characters, for example. But I’m not writing historical fiction; I’m essentially writing historical fantasy, so I have to figure out how to create a fantasy that still allows me to follow my own moral compass. I provide readers with an escape in tumultuous times, and I believe we all need an escape.”