Message From The Author
History's Kathryn Caskie
FINDS THAT TRACES OF THE PAST MAKE A DELICIOUS ROMANTIC TALE
By Michele Bardsley
It could be said that the National Geographic's Genographic Project
is responsible for Kathryn Caskie's upcoming historical romance series.
Caskie, who's interested in history and genealogy, decided to participate in the project, which traces an individual's genetic lineage. Six weeks after she swabbed her cheek and mailed in her sample, she found out that her DNA was so rare, the results had been overnighted to
a top geneticist in China.
"My youngest thinks they've found some alien DNA in my samples, which is why I have weird-colored eyes and why the scientists are all so excited," says Caskie, whose "weird" eyes are ringed in green with a burst of gold in the middle. "They've been called cat eyes or Michael-Jackson-in-'Thriller' eyes."
As for Caskie's DNA, the genetic mutation that so interests scientists may possibly link her to ancient people who lived in Russia, just inside the Arctic Circle. Because of her fascination with the past, Caskie knows a lot about her genealogy, which includes Scottish, Irish, Swedish and Germanic roots.
"But many Americans know little, if anything, about their own family origins," says the author, who thought about "the complete disconnect" most Americans have with their ancestry.
"A story began to unfold in my mind," she says. "What if, after their father's death, my heroines discover some letters that might indicate that their true parents are royalty and, by blood at least, they may be princesses?"
Caskie created a trilogy about three sisters who may or may not be the secret daughters of the Prince of Wales and his Catholic first wife, Maria Fitzherbert. The first book, How to Seduce a Duke (Avon), is expected to hit stores Oct. 1. In the saga, the newly rich Royle triplets settle in London to find out more about their mysterious pasts and, of course, each one wants to find her Prince Charming.
"Part of what I love about the trilogy is the quirky characters, especially a group of unconventional matchmakers that make the Featherton sisters seem tame," the author says, referring to the women who stirred up romance in her series for Warner Books, which concluded last month with Love Is in the Heir.
While her new matchmakers are also eccentric, they are neither sisters nor women; they're the aged gentleman of the Old Rakes of Marylebone club. "Lord Lotharian, retired rake, is the Royle sisters' guardian, and he and his scheming fellow club members quickly become the most unlikely of fairy godmothers."
Not only is Caskie writing a new series, she's also writing for a new publisher, Avon. "I had a bit of an overlap when writing the last book in the Featherton series for Warner
and my first book in the Royle family trilogy for Avon," Caskie says. "That really put me through my paces."
Love Is in the Heir is the final novel featuring the matchmaking Featherton sisters, Letitia and Viola. The little old ladies are behind the marriage machinations in all three books, but the last one is "my absolute favorite," says Caskie.
"Readers in Florida began a dedicated letter-writing campaign, pleading with me to let the meddling aunts marry," she adds. "I loved the idea!"
Weave in a matchmaking heroine who doesn't believe in love,
a comet swooping low over Bath,
an eccentric earl, handsome twin heirs in a race to marry ... and you have her story. "The hardest part about writing the last book in a series is saying goodbye to the characters," says Caskie. "I love
the Featherton sisters as much as
if they were real people, because
in my mind, they are."
Since the author loves all things historical, it's no wonder that she lives in a stone-and-brick Quaker house built in 1805. But it seems that Caskie and her family aren't the only ones who occupy the 200-year-old home. "There have been a number of sightings of the 'kitchen ghost' as well as sightings of two little girls," she says. "I've heard strange things, like children laughing, when I was the only one home, but I've never seen the ghosts."
When Caskie isn't writing about lost princesses, getting her DNA tested or ignoring ghostly visitors, she loves to travel, especially to England. "[I like] anything that gets my adrenaline pumping. I have dived with sharks, bungee-jumped, gone sky-diving, rappelled down cliffs, flown a plane," says Caskie. "But
the scariest thing I have ever done was take 80 13-year-olds to Disney World."
Excerpt from LOVE IS IN THE HEIR
The hum of his low voice tickled her ear and Hannah instinctively raised up her shoulder. She turned around to reply, only to find her chest pressed against Mr. St. Albans' waistcoat.
My, from such a close vantage, his shoulders seemed much broader, his chest ... somehow firmer. Indeed, his entire body seemed far more sculpted and muscular. Odd that she had not noticed when they danced earlier that eve.
Mr. St. Albans raised a hand and gestured to the center of the dance floor. "Shall we, Miss Chillton?"
But words seemed quite out of Hannah's mental grasp at that moment, and so she merely nodded. Mr. St. Albans gently folded her hand over his and drew her body close in preparation to pass through the burgeoning crowd.
How queer this all was. Hannah peered up at Mr. St. Albans as he protectively led her toward the dance floor.
There was no question as to the gentleman's identity, and yet, something was different. Something about his tender touch made her tremble within. But not with fear or dread. With heart-thumping excitement.
Oh, what had the Feathertons done to bring about such a visceral response in her? It had to be their doing, for there was no other explanation for this sudden fondness for a man she had professed to be the most irritating in all of Bath.
Mr. St. Albans turned his green-eyed gaze to her when they reached their place on the floor. He encircled her waist with his muscled arm and then gently took her right hand in his. He smiled at her then, and all of her blood seemed to drain into her Turkish slippers. Hannah's breathing grew thinner still.
Devil take you, Annie, for persuading me to wear this over-snug corset. I do not give
a fig how it shapes my form. I need to breathe!
Several times as Mr. St. Albans whirled her around the dance floor, she tried to break the gaze that held her so firmly but she could not.
Lud, what was happening to her? She had danced the waltz a number of times, both in Bath and London, but this time -- though there was no accounting for the notion -- the proximity to this man seemed all too ... intimate.
Just then, she felt his fingers trace a small circle upon her back, sending a tingle darting into her middle, and lower as well.
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