Most of the historical romances I read take place in England, during the Regency Era, among the upper classes. Thus, many of them have titles. In Romancelandia, there seem to be a dearth of dukes running around England, all of them young, hot, single,rich, with names like Raven-this and Hawk-that, etc.
So, to be a little bit more realistic–and because at heart, while I might like reading about the upper classes, I can’t say I’m particularly fond of the idea that the upper 1% holds more than half the wealth in a nation (oh, wait, that’s our country)–my “romance novels” have a minimum of titles in them.
I mean, come on, Jane Austen wrote about the gentry, who were plenty landed and usually, well-off. And there were more gentry than aristocracy, so….that’s where I went, for the most part. Gentry and rich merchants.
I had two titles, both Viscounts (lower on the aristocracy ranking order…under earl, before baron). The girls don’t marry either of these Viscounts, by the way. One is their uncle, the other their guardian. Nope, in my stories, the girls are heiresses, their husbands are either equal or lower on the social scale.
Then I decided that I wanted one minor character to have a distant chance of inheriting a title. I decided on an Earldom, for variety, and then…what to call it?
I’ve read that many authors in this genre look at Google Earth, look at the names of towns and villages in England, and steal the name for their fake title. I didn’t do that.
I was in the car when we passed my old elementary school–which is on Gravett Road & Main Street, across from a giant Jewish cemetery that I once snuck into with my friends on a Friday night…
Thus, the Earl of Gravett was born. It sounds reasonably English and a bit stuffy, doesn’t it? I mean, it’s better than calling him the Earl of 69 (the street I grew up on).