Archive for September 14th, 2009

Highland Rebel

Amidst the upheaval of Cromwell’s Britain, Jamie Sinclair’s wit and military prowess have served him well. Leading a troop in Scotland, he impetuously marries a captured maiden, saving her from a grim fate.

A Highlands heiress to title and fortune, Catherine Drummond is not the woman Jamie believes her to be. When her people effect her rescue, and he cannot annul the marriage, Jamie goes to recapture his hellcat of a new wife…

In a world where family and creed cannot be trusted, where faith fuels intolerance and war, Catherine and Jamie test the bounds of loyalty, friendship, and trust…


A question I get asked a lot is why write stories based in the 17th century, a period made famous by Dumas’s The Three Musketeers, but generally neglected in both historical romances and romantic historicals, to which I generally answer in one form or another, that to me it’s one of the lividest and most interesting periods in English, as well as French history. One of the joys of researching the 17th century Stuart Courts was discovering and reading about the plethora of genuine rogues and rascals that peopled the last half of the 17th century, and I thought I’d share a little bit about some of them with you here today.

There was of course the famous, or infamous Thomas “Colonel” Blood. A justice of the peace at 21, Colonel Blood started the civil war as a royalist, switched sides midway, and was rewarded with confiscated lands by Cromwell, which he promptly lost upon King Charles’ Restoration. Made an outlaw after joining an Irish plot to seize the Lord Lieutenant, he lived under a number of alias’s and embarked on a series of wild adventures, culminating in an attempt to steal the crown jewels from the tower of London in 1671, Captured during the attempt, Blood refused to speak to his interrogators, saying he would only answer to the king himself. Remarkably, the notoriously laid back “Merry Monarch” who delighted in wit and a well delivered line, asked him, “What if I grant you your life” to which Blood responded “I will endeavour to deserve it.” He was pardoned for all his crimes about a month later, much to the disgust of John Evelyn and others, who thought he must be George Villiers, the Duke of Buckingham’s creature and under his protection.

Buckingham, or Bucks as he was known to his intimates, is worth a book of his own. Best friend and cousin to kings, he was an incorrigible political meddler, extremely talented mimic, musician, and comedian; who was handsome, dangerous and bisexual. His father was said to have gained his influence by being the lover of James I, and was also favourite of Charles 1 and an object if jealousy to Charles’ Queen. Described as the handsomest man of his day “equally dangerous to nations, kings and husbands,” he caused an international incident over an alleged affair with the queen of France. The son followed in the father’s footsteps, scandalizing King Charles’s laissez faire court by living with his wife and his mistress the Countess of Shrewsbury, whose husband he killed in a dual, while supposedly carrying on a liaison with the Kymaston, the foremost male actor of the day.

John Churchill, later Earl of Marlborough, was Charles II’s mistress Lady Castlemaine’s lover as a young ensign. On catching him in Castlemaine’s bedchamber Charles famously told him “I forgive you as you do it for your bread.” Lady Castlemaine ensign Churchill five thousand pounds for clothes which he invested in an annuity and eventually turned it into a substantial sum of cash. He surprised the court, his family and probably himself when he turned down a rich heiress and eventually married for love. He remained a mercenary young man though, abandoning his Catholic patron James II who had made him Lieutenant General, to serve the Protestant William of Orange and eventually end up a duke.

Rochester, foremost rake, poet and libertine of the age, famously coached his mistress Elizabeth Barry in the art of method acting, taking her from obscurity to the foremost actress of the Restoration stage. Most of his works were brilliantly satirical, many pornographic, and he told his confessor on his death bed he had not been sober in the past 5 years. He was banished from court on a regular basis for outrageous impudence and wild behaviour, often returning in masquerade, once, famously as the mysterious astrologer and physician Dr Bendo, who became ( this is true folks) renowned for his cure for impotence. This was done right under the nose of an unsuspecting court and King, many of whom visited to employ his services with out ever once recognizing who he was.

Barbara Villiers, Lady Castlemaine and Cleveland, must be accounted a female rogue. The Kings favourite mistress for many years, she bore him several children, most of whom he recognized and provided for, even though at least one was clearly not his own. Unfaithful himself, Charles didn’t begrudge his mistress her pets, including Churchill and Jacob Hall, a rope dance, Famous for her temper, Castlemaine once threatened Charles that she’d tear his children limb form limb and burn his castle to the ground.

Charles himself was an unusually amiable informal monarch except when crossed. He spent a fortune on his many mistresses while refusing to be ruled by them. His days hiding in the English countryside in disguise form Cromwell’s troops gave him a respect and sympathy for common folk that few monarchs had. As king he would still dress and pass as a commoner at times, and go amongst his subjects. There is a story about Rochester stealing his clothes and purse and leaving him penniless in a brothel on just one such occasion.

Samuel Pepys, who loved, feared, and cheated on his wife, recounted his adventures great and small, including a riveting first hand account of the Great Fire of London, in his famous diary. I will let him speak briefly for himself.

1668 October 25th
… and after supper, to have my head combed by Deb, which occasioned the greatest sorrow to me that ever I knew in this world; for my wife, coming up suddenly, did find me embracing the girl with my hand under her skirts; and indeed, I was with my hand in her cunny. I was at a wonderful loss upon it, and the girl also; and I endeavoured to put it off, but my wife was struck mute and grew angry, and as her voice came to her, grew quite out of order; and I do say little, but to bed; and my wife said little also, but could not sleep all night; but about 2 in the morning waked me and cried … till at last it appeared plainly her trouble was at what she saw; but yet I did not know how much she saw and therefore said nothing to her. But after her much crying and reproaching me with inconstancy and preferring a sorry girl before her, I did give her no provocations but did promise all fair usage to her, and love, and foreswore any hurt that I did with her – till at last she seemed to be at ease again; and so, towards morning, a little sleep.

These are just a few of the vibrant cast of characters that bring the 17th century to life. Some of them you will meet in cameos or in greater depths in the pages of Highland Rebel. I hope you find them as fascinating and entertaining as I do. On that note I will end with a question.

If you could take and historical character out for coffee and desert or a drink and supper, who would it be?


Thank you for visiting, Ms James!

Thanks to the fine folks at Sourcebooks, there are two copies of Highland Rebel up for grabs, so don’t forget to answer Ms James’ question to have your name in the drawing. Good luck!

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My first giveaway for the week is going to be two books by Julie James. I discovered her earlier this year and after reading her debut book, I immediately had to get my hands on her second book. I enjoyed both books but I think when I do my Year in Review post at the end of the year that JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE will be in my Top 10. Not to take anything away from PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT because it was great also but JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE had that extra “oomph” for me. It was just a fantastic read and one I’ve gladly added to my Keeper shelf and recommend to friends whenever we discuss books. Even though the books don’t go together, I’m giving both away in this giveaway so others can enjoy them as much as I did. 🙂

One winner will receive both books so just leave a comment to be in the running. Winners will be picked over the weekend to give everyone time to sign up. I will also open this to International readers so feel free to leave a comment too.

Just one rule for the giveaways I’m offering this week for the Blog Anniversary: If you win one of the giveaways, you’re out of the running to win another one. That’s why winners will be chosen over the weekend and posted on Sunday.



Nothing fazes Taylor Donovan.  In the courtroom she never lets the opposition see her sweat.  In her personal life, she never lets any man rattle her–not even her cheating ex-fiancé.  So when she’s assigned to coach People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” for his role in his next big legal thriller, she refuses to fall for the Hollywood heartthrob’s charms.  Even if he is the Jason Andrews.


Jason Andrews is used to having women fall at his feet.  When Taylor Donovan gives him the cold shoulder, he’s thrown for a loop.  She’s unlike any other woman he’s ever met: uninterested in the limelight, seemingly immune to his advances, and shockingly capable of saying no to him.  She’s the perfect challenge.  And the more she rejects him, the more he begins to realize that she may just be his perfect match. . .




Payton Kendall and J.D. Jameson are lawyers who know the meaning of objection. A feminist to the bone, Payton has fought hard to succeed in a profession dominated by men. Born wealthy, privileged, and cocky, J.D. has fought hard to ignore her. Face to face, they’re perfectly civil. They have to be. For eight years they’ve kept a safe distance and tolerated each other as co-workers for one reason only: to make partner at the firm.


But all bets are off when they’re asked to join forces on a major case. At first apprehensive, they begin to appreciate each other’s dedication to the law—and the sparks between them quickly turn into attraction. But the increasingly hot connection doesn’t last long when they discover that only one of them will be named partner. Now it’s an all out war. And the battle between the sexes is bound to make these lawyers hot under the collar . . .


And to tease you even further, here’s the cover and blurb of Julie’s March 2, 2010 book, SOMETHING ABOUT YOU…perfect timing as my birthday is a week later! Early birthday shopping for me! 😉



Of all the hotel rooms rented by all the adulterous politicians in Chicago, female Assistant U.S. Attorney Cameron Lynde had to choose the one next to 1308, where some hot-and-heavy lovemaking ends in bloodshed. And of all the FBI agents in Illinois, it had to be Special Agent Jack Pallas who gets assigned to this high-profile homicide. The same Jack Pallas who still blames Cameron for a botched crackdown three years ago—and nearly ruining his career…


Work with Cameron Lynde? Are they kidding? Maybe, Jack thinks, this is some kind of welcome-back prank after his stint away from Chicago. But it’s no joke: the pair is going to have to put their rocky past behind them and focus on the case at hand. That is, if they can cut back on the razor-sharp jibes—and smother the flame of their sizzling-hot sexual tension…

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