Message From The Author

Author's Message



Veteran author Jennifer Blake has
fallen hard for a group of dangerous men. She describes them as "superior physical specimens," skilled in the "boudoir as well as on the dueling field" and "men of valor and high principles, handsome rogues with whom any woman could fall in love."

They are the maître d'armes, the dueling celebrities of 19th-century New Orleans
and the heroes of Blake's new historical, Challenge to Honor, the first in her Masters at Arms series. And they have
long been the objects of her infatuation.

"I first encountered the masters at arms of old New Orleans more than 15 years ago," she explains, "while reading Herbert Asbury's The French Quarter," a seminal recounting of the seedy side of that city's past. "The idea for a book using these intriguing gentlemen emerged almost
at once…and I never lost sight of it."

In fact, as she delved into the history
of these hotheaded hunks, "the need to recreate on paper New Orleans during this last golden age of dueling, 1840 to 1850, to make it come alive for readers as Georgette Heyer had done for Regency England, became as much an obsession as the swordsmen themselves."

The more Blake investigated, the more she realized how the Vieux Carré (or Old Square, where the city's French speakers resided) perfectly provided the drama, opulence and intrigue necessary for historical romance. "Life was rich and it was easy," she elaborates. "Dancing, gossip, fashion, cards and gambling were everything. Young ladies were always chaperoned, forbidden to speak to a man alone unless he was a close male relative. Marriages were often arranged—though it was possible to elope by ferrying across the Mississippi River to the town of Gretna. Hunting and dancing parties were held at the great plantation houses along the river and nearby bayous."

Fearful that another author would discover this glittering world before she could get her books to print, Blake devoted herself to working on Challenge to Honor. Now, at last, its devastating hero, Rio de Silva, is ready to emerge from the shadows of history and brandish his sword, tangle with the very proper daughter of a socially prominent family and stride into readers' hearts—as only the most dangerous men can.
—Colleen Cusick

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