Message From The Author
What does a dazzling, headstrong, passionate daughter of an earl have in common with a barnacle-encrusted ghost of a pirate? In terms of how a story flickers to life in this author’s imagination, everything.
Have you seen Pirates of the Caribbean, the first one, The Curse of the Black Pearl? That entire story hinges upon a character that never once appears on screen in the film. “Bootstrap Bill” Turner starts it all by sending a bit o’ swag to his son. Ten years later, the coin forged of Aztec gold resurfaces and the adventure begins.
My debut historical romance, Swept Away By A Kiss, came to life through a character like this. Not a sailor doomed to eternity in Davy Jones’s locker, heavens no, but a scandalous Regency beauty, Lady Valerie Monroe.
Allow me, if you will, to spice my tale forthwith with a dash of seaman’s cant.
A Fair Tide — The Birth of a Heroine:
Ahoy! A story I had penned.
I’d always penned stories about something or other. This time it was a romance between a gentleman and a lady thrown together by the sudden banishment to Boston of his sister, her childhood friend. This invisible wind that filled the sails of that romance was Valerie. But despite her crucial role in her beloved brother and dearest friend’s union, Valerie only made it onto the page at the end of the story. After two lonely years abroad she wrote a letter begging forgiveness for her indiscretions and declaring her intention to return home.
I finished that manuscript, assuring the couple’s Happily Ever After. But what about heart-sore Valerie, determined to reform yet still longing for adventure and aching to be loved? Didn’t Valerie deserve her own story?
Making Sail — A Hero Out of a Girl’s Dreams:
Ahoy! Graduate studies in History, a roommate writing a dissertation on the Caribbean in the 1800s, and a thrilling biography of the Jesuits I happened to read.
Valerie must take a ship home, I considered. But what if upon that ship she encountered the greatest possible temptation to err ever. What if, trapped upon the high seas she met and fell hard and deep for a gorgeously masculine and thrillingly mysterious … Catholic priest? A Frenchman, no less.
But wait a minute. What if he’s not really a French priest? What if instead he is a dashing British viscount with a mission to accomplish, maintaining his priestly guise to defeat a dangerous enemy?
Thus Lord Steven Ashford, aka Father Etienne La Marque, stepped onto the stage. Or, rather, the ship’s deck. Daring, brave, breathtakingly handsome, and playing a perilous game of intrigue and subterfuge against a powerful opponent, he is entirely off limits to Valerie. Yet that is the last thing Steven wishes to be.
And so the story awoke, sucked in deep breaths full of wonder, anticipation, and a little awe, and set off at a gallop. I — happily — indeed ecstatically — went along for the ride. What a ride it was! From riding ocean swells upon a friend’s sailboat and digging through basement library shelves for books on nautical history, to touring fabulous estates in the Derbyshire countryside and researching everything from Yule logs to sword fighting, I let the story have its head.
Going Large — The Path to Publication:
Ahoy! Friends, sisters, mom, dad, brothers, husband.
These are my beloveds, the people who encouraged and supported and urged me on, despite my grueling schedule as a junior professor and the busy arms and heart of a new mother.
Then it came. The Call. A fabulous publishing house wants to publish your book. This, my friends, is like flying down the free-fall drop at Disney’s Splash Mountain. My stomach plummeted into my toes, my heart climbed into my mouth, my breathing halted, and I screamed. Right there in my kitchen.
Some months later — crazy months of more writing and planning and learning and loving every second of it — a manila envelope arrived in the mail with a note from my editor: “Here’s an advance copy of Swept Away By A Kiss. Congratulations!” With great care I drew forth my book, gently passing my fingertips across the shiny raised letters of the title. This reverence was for Valerie. From her days as the exiled girl who, from afar, ensured her loved ones’ joy, she finally has her own story. A sensual tale of passion and adventure, just as she deserves. And a hero out of dreams.
The best part of it all for me? Sharing their love story with you.
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