Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace
***All photos accompanying posts are either owned by the author of said post or are in the public domain -- NOT the property of History Undressed. If you'd like to obtain permission to use a picture from a post, please contact the author of the post.***
Showing posts with label romance. Show all posts
Showing posts with label romance. Show all posts

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Ghostly Castles and Tales by Madeline Martin

Ghostly Castles and Tales
by Madeline Martin

Europe has no shortage of ancient castles and dwellings, and where there are ancient settings, there are ghosts.

I think one of the things that fascinates me so much about ghost stories is the full on romanticism behind them. Most are driven by and explosion of passion, propelled by love or hate or sheer envy. The stories behind them are rife with drama and intrigue and desire.

In researching ghost stories for this book to decide where to set it, I found a couple of interesting facts to share with people.

First of all, is that Queen Mary of Scots has several ghost stories. She’s reported to haunt Borthwick Castle dressed as a page boy (the way she’d managed her escape in life once before). She’s also reported to haunt Stirling Castle as the pink lady. A hotel in Oundlel in Northhamptonshire, England also claims she haunts their halls where the staircase from Forthinghay Castle had been transported and incorporated into the building. Have you heard of other stories where Queen Mary of Scots has done some haunting?

Secondly, are all the ladies dressed in green. There are seriously a lot of ghostly women in green. And there’s a reason for this. Green is thought to be a color of ill luck in the Celtic legends as it was considered the favorite color of the fae people – and everyone knew they were deviously mischievous. And, of course, ghosts have a tendency to also be deviously mischievous.

I decided to go with Castle of Park for my castle with A Ghostly Tale of Forbidden Love because the story involved had not one, but two ghosts. The first was a green lady who had apparently been the lover of the laird, however, when she found herself with child, she was terminated from her position there. Unable to take the despair of her circumstances, she threw herself from one of the upper story windows to her death. The second ghost was a monk who had been walled up within the castle.

I loved the idea of the green lady getting her own form of vengeance, but felt the ghost story still needed to be made whole. This was what inspired my twist in A Ghostly Tale of Forbidden Love. But I can’t tell you what it is, or I’ll ruin all the fun. I hope you enjoy what I’ve done with the story. I truly had so much fun writing a little paranormal spookiness into this novella.

Senara becomes a lady's maid at Castle of Park to help ease the financial burden of her beloved family. She does not expect to have such a wicked mistress any more than she expects to find a handsome laird...or a ghost with a burning need for retribution.

Gavin vowed on his father’s death bed to watch over his aunt, and regrets it every day. Especially when her new maid arrives. The woman is extraordinarily fascinating, which not only stirs his interest, but also his cruel aunt’s ire.

Can he protect Senara from his aunt? Even more important, can he keep himself from giving in to his longing for the country lass?

Theirs is a journey of treacherous pasts, painful loss, hidden longing and vengeance.

Sweet Excerpt: 

He plucked a bit of hay from her hair. The slender stalk shook between his fingers. “We canna see one another anymore.” His voice was deep with desire.

Senara nodded in agreement and her hands gripped the banister of the stairs, as if she were holding on for dear life.

They had the same conversation every day. And yet every day at noon, they both arrived.

If he were a lesser man, he'd have had her long ago. But he couldn't in good conscience, not with knowing he would have to marry another someday.

He would marry another, one befitting his station.

Until then, he dreaded the day she would finally not show at noon.

Spooky Excerpt:

A cry sounded in the distance, a wisp of an anguished scream as if carried on a hearty wind. Though far off, the sound scrabbled over her nerves.

No, not so far away. Below.

Senara looked to where the stairs disappeared into a dark nothing. Anything could be in that nothing.
Her courage flagged for but a moment. Da would not be frightened of a noise. She may have left his sword upstairs, but she was never without his bravery. Or her dirk for that matter.

With the power of being her father's daughter, she crept down the stairs with her dirk locked in her grip. On the first floor, the air was cold enough to nip at her nose and leave the bottoms of her feet chilled through the thick-soled slippers she wore.

The wailing cry came once more, louder though still distant, muffled almost. She followed the sound down the hall to where she'd been before where the cold stone had hummed against her palm.

The candle flame sputtered and set the narrow hallway bouncing wildly around her, but it did not go out.

Her breath fogged in front of her and hovered in a hazy white cloud. She stared at the frozen breath in wonder. While summer was not always warm, it seldom was ever so cool as to cause such a chill - especially indoors.

A grinding sound filled the quiet and mortar sifted down from the strange stone. Senara's breath came faster and filled the air with white puffs.

Something was in there. 

Want to read more? 

Available in ebook and print
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2fzpy5Q
Nook: http://bit.ly/2xkTzzl
iBooks: http://hyperurl.co/gtflib
Kobo:  http://hyperurl.co/gtflkobo
Google Play:  http://hyperurl.co/gtflgp

Madeline Martin is a USA TODAY Bestselling author of Scottish set historical romance novels. She lives a glitter-filled life in Jacksonville, Florida with her two daughters (known collectively as the minions) and a man so wonderful he's been dubbed Mr. Awesome. All shenanigans are detailed regularly on Twitter and on Facebook.

Madeline loves animals in sweaters, cat videos, wine and Nutella. Check out her FB page on any given Friday to see what great new book she's giving away by one of her fellow authors.

She also loves connecting with her readers, so feel free to follow her on any one of her social media platforms, or send her a message :)

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/MadelineMartinAuthor/
Twitter: @MadelineMMartin
Sign up for her newsletter: http://eepurl.com/biji1j

Friday, January 31, 2014

Interview with Jeannie Ruesch Author of CLOAKED IN DANGER (Giveaway!!!)

Happy Friday to you all! If you're looking for a great read for this weekend, check out Jeannie's book CLOAKED IN DANGER, which I reviewed yesterday. LOVED IT!

Now, I'd love to introduce you to Jeannie Ruesch! An amazing, historical romance author, and my friend. Her and I met years ago when we worked on a blog together--MAMAWRITERS. We had a blast and I'm so pleased for you to meet her and get to know her work. 

***GIVEAWAY ALERT!!! Leave a COMMENT and SHARE this blog if you can, for your chance to win an e-copy of CLOAKED IN DANGER!***

1. What do you love most about writing historical romantic suspense?

Hi Eliza! Thanks for hanging out with me today! :)  Wow, where to start with this answer?  All three elements, historical, romance and suspense, I truly love and enjoy writing.  I love delving into historical times and finding out how people then are similar and different from us.  I love the hope that romance provides, the way that a good love story can fill us with joy.  And I admit to being fascinated by the darkness, the shadows, the blurring of lines between right and wrong and why people do what they do.  Combine the three, and I’m in heaven. :)  

2. Do you plan to write in other genres?

Suspense in any time period fascinates me, so I might be included to try contemporary suspense.  But I love history and I love bringing the world of today's romantic suspense into historical settings, so I'll probably stick with that for a while.  After the Willoughby siblings have had their say, the next series I'm planning will have books set in multiple eras, all connected by one town full of tragedy, mystery and secrets.  I can't wait to dig into that! 

3. I loved Something About Her and Cloaked in Danger was icing on the cake! Do you have more books planned for the series?

Yes, two more planned.  Lily and Cordelia have staked their claim on having their own books, and I'm working on those now.  Lily's book is set 3 years after Cloaked in Danger ends, and suffice it to say that her life has not turned out as planned and she's ready to fight for the life she wants.  Cordelia hasn't exactly been a typical heroine, she's somewhat bratty, and I'm enjoying delving into the whys and hows of who she is and what she really wants out of life.

4. What was the most interesting fact you found while researching your book?

Aria's father is an antiquarian (archeologist), and when I was trying to decide what treasure he was on the hunt for, I discovered that much of Cleopatra's treasures were destroyed after her death.  Octavian ordered all likenesses destroyed — it was as if he wanted to wipe her off the map.  I love the irony in that.  He wanted her to fade into history, and in fact, she became one of the most famous, honored women of all time.  Just makes you want to stick out your tongue and say, "So there!" to him.

But it left the door open for Gideon Whitney to be searching for something that, at that time, had not been discovered -- any artifacts of Cleopatra.  It was fun to imagine what her jewelry must have looked like, what it would have felt like.

5. Did you come across anything in your research unintentionally that you HAD to put in your book because it was so fascinating?

I like finding small details that characters can interact with, something of the times that would be considered like how we see Coca Cola cans in people's hands today.  One of the scenes in my book is set in Vauxhall Gardens, and when I was researching the layout of the gardens, I read about the paintings that decorated the supper boxes.  I though, here is a perfect detail that my characters can interact with.  Something that was normal in the time period, taken for granted, an every day item to anyone who visited the Gardens regularly.  In the scene, my heroine is dealing with a friend/suitor and I thought showing their opinions about the paintings was a great way to illustrate aspects of their relationship.  The painting in question was See Saw by Frances Hayman (below). 

6. What do you think is an essential character trait to have in a hero/heroine?

Flaws. I think the most fascinating characters are the ones who don't always know the right thing, do the right thing.  They need to be human, and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.  And the very nature of a novel means that we're going to test the heck out of those strengths and weaknesses, so they'd better appear real and leap from the page.   For the romance aspect of things, it's not about finding the "perfect" person, it's about finding the perfect person for YOU.  And a book is no different.  Our flaws and best features match up with our significant others, and hopefully compliment and balance each other.  I hope that I did a good enough job in showing that Aria and Adam do balance each other.

7. The history/setting in your books are more like a secondary character, when did you first fall in love with historical fiction?

One of the first experiences I had with historical fiction was in reading Bertrice Small's book Beloved about Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra.  I was fascinated and I remember thinking, how much of this if fact and how much is fiction?  So I went searching to find out and I was enthralled to learn that Zenobia was a historical figure, who led a revolt against the Roman Empire and was delivered to Aurelius in golden chains.  The weaving of the history and the love story Small created was so amazing to me, and I was hooked.  

8. Is there anything you'd like to share with or ask readers?

I'd love to give my thanks to our historical romance readers out there!  There are so many fascinating authors with great stories to tell (including Eliza's!) and we truly appreciate you and your love of the genre. 

About Cloaked in Danger

Publication Date: January 27, 2014
Carina Press

Aria Whitney has little in common with the delicate ladies of London society. Her famous father made his fortune hunting archaeological treasures, and her rustic upbringing has left her ill prepared for a life of parties and frippery. But when Gideon Whitney goes missing in Egypt, Aria must embrace the unknown. Armed with only the short list of highborn men who’d backed her father’s venture, she poses as a woman looking for a husband. She doesn’t intend to find one.

Adam Willoughby, Earl of Merewood, finds London’s strangest new debutante fascinating, but when he catches her investigating his family’s secrets, he threatens to ruin her reputation. He doesn’t intend to enjoy it so much.

When their lustful indiscretion is discovered, Adam finds that he regrets nothing. But now, as Aria’s father’s enemy draws near, Adam must convince his betrothed that she can trust him with her own secrets…before it’s too late.

Praise for Cloaked in Danger

“Cloaked in Danger has all the elements readers crave— larger-than-life characters, a vivid and believable setting, heart-pounding romance and just the right amount of mystery. Don’t miss it! It kept me reading deep into the night.” — New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak

“In ‘Cloaked in Danger’ Jeannie Ruesch has crafted a taut, emotional thrill-ride through the streets of Regency London. Archaeological adventure and drawing room intrigue are combined in a story that will keep you reading late into the night. Jeannie Ruesch is an author to watch.” — RITA Award Nominated Author Elizabeth Essex

Purchase the Book

About the Author

Jeannie Ruesch wrote her first story at the age of the six, prompting her to give up an illustrious, hours-long ambition of becoming a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader and declare that writing was her destiny. That journey to destiny took a few detours along the way, including a career in marketing and design.
Her first novel, a fairy-tale like historical romance, was published in 2009, but the darker side of life had always captivated her. So after a dinner conversation with friends about the best way to hide a dead body, she knew she had to find a way to incorporate suspense into her writing. (The legal outlet for her fascination.) Today, she continues writing what she loves to read – stories of history, romance and suspense. She lives in Northern California with her husband, their son and an 80 pound lapdog lab named Cooper.
She is also the creator of the WIP Notebook, a writer’s tool to help stay organized while you write, which you can find at her website. You can also follow her on Facebook,TwitterGoodreads and Pinterest.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Castle of the Week: Dunrobin Castle

Dunrobin Castle --
view from driving in at the front gate
Welcome back to another rousing castle of the week! This week's castle is Dunrobin Castle in Scotland, which happens to be the setting in several of the books in the Stolen Bride series. I had a chance to visit the castle earlier this year, and I was mesmerized. It is GORGEOUS. And still a residence.

Dunrobin was built in the 13th century and has been home to the earls and dukes of Sutherland since. In THE HIGHLANDER'S REWARD, my hero, Magnus, Laird Sutherland, is created earl at the end of the book. Dunrobin is situated overlooking the North Sea on the east coast of the Highlands. The sound of waves lapping at the beach can be heard from atop the hill where the castle sits, and you can see the sea for miles. The original castle was a fortified square keep--in stark contrast to what you see today, a magnificent, enchanting stone chateau. In my series, the castle is being partially rebuilt from the square keep to a grander structure. In actual history however, the square keep stood alone for about 200 years until it was added to.

The castle boasts beautiful gardens and grounds that I could sit in for DAYS, literally, without moving.

In my upcoming release, THE HIGHLANDER'S SINS, Duncan kidnaps Heather Sutherland, youngest sister of Magnus, from the family chapel at Dunrobin...

Here are some pics from my visit earlier this year. Due to the date I was in Scotland, I wasn't allowed to go inside. That is #1 on my list of must sees when I return there sometime in the next couple of years.

LOVED this sign! Captured it while driving by, hence the blurriness.

This is the view of the castle from driving in. The castle is a residence, and continues to be the seat of Clan Sutherland. I found the mix of history with the present fascinating--gorgeous medieval castle with trash and recycling receptacles and vehicles.

The left tower, and what appears to be a main door.

Loved this clock tower. Just gorgeous.

Check out this weather vane complete with a mountain cat (wildcat), which is part of the Sutherland crest.

Look at the detail work in the stone.

I thought this picture capture well the front of the castle and the back, a mix of two different eras. The front is very much medieval and the back more chateau-like.

This is a pick of the back of the castle as I walked down the hill toward the beach.

A gate into a lush park where the castle practices falconry.

Another view of the back of the castle closer to the beach. You can see the road heading back up toward the front of the castle and entrance.

A view of the gardens of Dunrobin in winter. I've seen pics of it when in full bloom, and I imagine it is just jaw-dropping in person.

Loved these stairs leading up to a huge stone-walled patio in the garden.

More of the gardens. I love all the huge trees and pathways.

More of the gardens. Ignore the long orange extension cord :)

This is a tiny tower that sits at  corner of the wall around the gardens. It wasn't very high up, you can tell by the door.

A view of the north sea, and some of Dunrobin's wall in the distance. Immediately to the right was a building I'm assuming is home of the gardener or grounds' keeper.

Look at this view! This is the beach at Dunrobin.

Those black logs poking out of the shore are from an old pier that has since collapsed.

A view to the left of the beach. Love it!

More of the shore and the wall.

Me on Magnus' beach!!! I never felt a stronger connection to my characters then when I walked on their sand.

Captured the water lapping at the shore.

A close-up of a huge stone. Loved the way time carved designs into it.

My footprints in the sand at Dunrobin.

A pic of the gates upon leaving--cool arrows, right?

Hope you enjoyed the pics of Dunrobin Castle!!! Stay tuned next week for another enchanting tour of a castle!

Check out my Stolen Bride series!

Out now in ebook, print and audio from Amazon, B&N, ITunes/Books, Kobo, Sony, Audible:

and releasing later this month... The Highlander's Sin!

Visit my website, www.elizaknight.com to sign up for my newsletter and find out more about upcoming releases!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

When Blacksmiths & Farriers Were One & the Same By Nancy Lee Badger

Welcome back to History Undressed, guest blogger, Nancy Lee Badger! She's written a fascinating piece today on the history of blacksmiths in Scotland. Enjoy!

When Blacksmiths & Farriers Were One & the Same
By Nancy Lee Badger   for History Undressed Aug. 1, 2013

The moment I decided that the hero in my third book in my Highland Games Through Time series was a blacksmith/farrier, I was in trouble. Research would only get me so far, so I found some help (thanks Brooke McIntosh!) Why the two terms today? A blacksmith is a metalsmith. He/she uses heat to make objects out of steel or wrought iron that is hammered, bent, or cut, to create railings, light fixtures, furniture, sculpture, tools, or weapons. A farrier specializes in hoof care; trimming and balancing a horse’s hooves, and fitting them with metal shoes. A farrier combines blacksmith skills and veterinarian’s skills, since they know the anatomy and physiology of a horse’s lower limbs.

Historically, the jobs of farrier and blacksmith were practically synonymous. I decided not to use the term farrier in my books as many people have never heard the term. My hero, Jake Jamison, is a modern day farrier who also works with wrought iron to make decorative household items. When he volunteers at Scottish Highland games and festivals, he plays the part of a 16th century blacksmith. Jake makes horseshoes and nails with a coal-fired furnace, or forge. Forging is actually the process in which metal is shaped by hammering, and the techniques employed are called drawing down, bending, shrinking, upsetting, punching, swageing, and forge welding. These operations generally employ hammer and anvil.

Tools used in caring for a horse’s limbs that are in use today, and mainly machine-made, are the punch, clinch cutter, shoeing knife, nipper, nailing hammer, rasp, clincher, and the shoeing apron. Items used today that are still very similar to those used historically are the hammer, hoof knife, fire tongs, and hand-cranked forges.


Blacksmith at work


Here is an excerpt from MY RELUCTANT HIGHLANDER where Jake is shoeing his horse in his barn in present-day New England:

The barn door creaked open.

He glanced up. Dust motes floated in the slight breeze created by the open door. A shadow walked toward him with slow, careful steps.

“Jake? May I enter?”

“Sure, but why are you out of bed?” Reluctantly, he shook away the image of her wet, naked body and straightened. Balfour’s partially nailed hoof hit the barn floor with a thud.

“Ye see before ye, an early morning riser. As such, I wanted to meet yer beasts.”

Feigning checking on his horse, he followed Skye’s slow progress from the corner of his eye. She walked closer, and he stifled an urge to tell her she ought to rest. She would refuse to listen to his opinion about anything, so he bit his tongue.

The early morning sunlight illuminated her like a halo. The bright light painted the outline of her black hair with silver tips. With her face in shadow, he was unable to read the weariness or pain she might still suffer.

Instead, he turned his attention back to Balfour. He shoved the animal’s hip, cradled his hoof between his thighs, and listened.

Her steps crunched across the hay-littered wood floor. He knew the moment she stopped at Dara’s stall.
“A magnificent garron. What be his name?”

Her name is Dara. Careful. She bites.” As if to emphasize Jake’s warning, the animal’s dark brown mane shook as Dara threw her buff-colored chest against the stall gate.

Jake peeked under Balfour’s chest. Amazingly, Skye laughed and patted Dara’s nose. Relief washed over him, when she backed away and continued toward him.

Silence filled the sturdy barn, except for the snips of the grooming scissors, as he trimmed Balfour’s fetlock. The elderly gelding snickered as he begged his owner for attention from someone other than its owner.

“You are a spoiled brat, Balfour,” he whispered, leaning against the horse for balance.

Skye walked closer, and the aroma of wildflowers and fresh grass replaced the familiar smell of horse, hay, and brisk morning air. His body tightened, and his thighs tensed. The horse whinnied.

“Easy, Balfour. Almost done, big boy.”

Her laugh reached his ears like a low, sweet sigh of pleasure.

Jake’s body hardened to stone so fast, he dropped the horse’s hoof on his boot.

In contrast, here he is when Jake finds himself in a 16th century Scottish castle:
Smoke rose from a center hole, filling Jake with the familiar scent of a blacksmith’s coal-fired furnace. When he glanced at the stone building’s thatched roof, he shuddered. Memories of the castle’s huge barn, going up in smoke in record time, stole his breath.

I almost lost Bull.

The young lad started to introduce him to the smithy’s assistant, a boy no more than thirteen, then glanced up at Jake. “I doona’ know yer name, my lord.”

“I’m Jake Jamison,” He told both youngsters.

“Are ye not a lord? Ye live at the castle.”

He chuckled, then grabbed a pair of thick gloves and a crude apron he spied on a workbench.

“I’m a blacksmith. I feel right at home,” Jake said. Slamming a hammer against red-hot iron would go a long way, to help him forget.

The boys stood, open-mouthed, as the iron morphed into the semblance of a rustic sword. When sweat poured down his face, he threw off his shirt, adjusted the apron, and continued. After he thrust the hot iron into the water barrel, memories of his work at the Highland games made him hesitate.

The first excerpt shows his farrier talents, and the second is more representative of a blacksmith. Hope this helps.

My Reluctant Highlander Book Blurb
Skye Gunn has spent the last five years trying to forget the blacksmith who followed her back to 16th century Scotland, to help fight evil. Sending Jake Jamison home against his will was a disastrous mistake. Stealing his heart was not part of the plan. Jake must share his secret, Skye must give her heart fully, and both must dare to love in the time they have.

For more information:

More About Nancy Lee Badger
She loves chocolate-chip shortbread, wool plaids wrapped around the trim waist of a Scottish Highlander, the clang of broadswords, and the sound of bagpipes in the air. After growing up in Huntington, New York, and raising two handsome sons in New Hampshire, she moved to North Carolina where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, Triangle Area Freelancers, and the Celtic Heart Romance Writers. Nancy and her family volunteer each fall at the New Hampshire Highland Games, surrounded by…kilts!

Connect with Nancy:
Goodreads    http://bit.ly/Vd1Usg
Amazon Author Page    http://amzn.to/13ICHLq

Buy Links for My Reluctant Highlander
NOOK   http://bit.ly/16a7lim  
Barnes&Noble PRINT http://bit.ly/10UQa3Z
AllRomance  http://bit.ly/19aBsI6
Smashwords  http://bit.ly/11DtTDE

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway! Click on the link below. Nancy is giving away for 3 prizes (3 winners) a $15 Amazon or B&N GC; free ebook of older books; Dragon Window sticker. Drawing ends Aug. 15th.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Regency Pirates by Shana Galen

Welcome back to History Undressed, special guest author, Shana Galen! Congrats to Ms. Galen on another awesome release--THE ROGUE PIRATE'S BRIDE! (Love the cover!)I am a big fan of her books, and she is an avid history lover as well! Today she's talking to us about two of my favorite things: the Regency era & pirates!  Leave a comment for a chance to win a print copy of her new release, THE ROGUE PIRATE'S BRIDE. (2 winners, US and Canada only)

Regency Pirates

By Shana Galen

First of all, I want to thank Eliza for inviting me back. It’s great to visit with History Undressed again. And I’m especially excited because today is the official release of The Rogue Pirate’s Bride. This is the third in my Sons of the Revolution series and my favorite. I knew from the beginning of the series I wanted to write a book about a pirate. Actually, I’ve been wanting to write a book with a pirate hero for years. I was thrilled to finally get my chance and sat at my computer to begin this story with gusto.

And then I ran into one small problem. I realized I didn’t know anything about ships, sailing, or pirates during the Regency. I knew a little bit about pirates in the Caribbean. I’ve seen the movies with Johnny Depp and read the odd book here and there. But by the Regency the heyday of the pirate was all but over in the Caribbean, and I didn’t want to set my book there anyway. I knew my hero, Bastien, would have to return to England eventually, and I didn’t want to dedicate weeks of the book to the travel time between the Caribbean and the UK.

This is how my research usually starts. I wish I were the kind of writer who foresaw knowledge gaps, but I’m not. I research as it becomes necessary, and I usually start with the library. I can always look up a quick fact on the internet, but if I need to know anything in depth, I get a few research books and start there. So I ordered the books that sounded useful from the library’s online catalogue and then picked them up a few days later. The children’s books were the most helpful. It might surprise readers to know that children’s books are often the most valuable resources a writer can find when beginning research on a topic. They give a great overview and often have really interesting tidbits.

One thing I discovered during my research was that there were still pirates in the Regency era, but the piracy was concentrated more in the Mediterranean, and the pirates operated from the coast of North Africa. These pirates were called Barbary Corsairs. Unlike the Caribbean pirates, their main goal was not to plunder ships laden with riches. They were after slaves to sell on the slave markets in Tripoli, Tunis, and other North African locales. In my research, I read historians estimate that over a million Europeans were enslaved in about a two hundred year period by the Barbary Corsairs, and this period included the Regency.

Armed with this knowledge, I knew my hero Bastien would be operating in the Mediterranean and possibly working with some of these Barbary Corsairs. He wouldn’t be looking for slaves, though. He’d be looking for revenge. And he wouldn’t be a pirate. Bastien is French, and although there are a few accounts of Europeans acting as Barbary pirates, it was rare. I made Bastien a privateer. It’s an important distinction to him, but privateers were really little more than pirates with a letter of legitimacy from a country’s government.

I did know a bit about privateers and did some cursory research to fill in the gaps. Rhett Butler from Gone with the Wind was a privateer during the Civil War. Margaret Mitchell doesn’t go into detail, but Scarlett mentions several times she knows this is how he made his post-war fortune.

So I knew quite a lot about my hero, but not my heroine, Raeven. She’s the daughter of a British admiral, and she wants Bastien dead because he killed her fiancĂ©. Raeven has lived all of her life on ships, and she knows every aspect of sailing. Unfortunately, I didn’t know every aspect of sailing, and as I wrote in Raeven’s point of view, I realized the book was never going to work if I didn’t also do some research on ships.

I made another trek to the library, checked out another armload of books, and discovered those weren’t going to help me all that much. There was too much information, and I didn’t really know what in was looking for. After all, there are many types of ships and many different ranks in the British Navy. Pirates have a different system of ranking and preferred different sorts of ships than did the Navy. Clearly, I had to go to an expert.

And that expert was my dad.

I’m fortunate in that my father has had a lifelong love of sailing and has sailed and competed in sailing races for years. He was gracious enough to read through scenes with me and help me to add necessary details. We even brainstormed together. My dad does not read romance. I don’t think he even reads my books (they have sex in them!), but it was really fun to work with him on this book and to see his excitement when I showed him the advance copies with my acknowledgement to him in the back.

What’s your process when you start a new project at home or work? Do you dive right in or do you plan it out first?


Revenge should be sweet, but it may cost him everything…

Out to avenge the death of his mentor, Bastien discovers himself astonishingly out of his depth when confronted with a beautiful, daring young woman who is out for his blood…

Forgiveness is unthinkable, but may be her only hope…

British Admiral’s daughter Raeven Russell believes Bastien responsible for her fiancĂ©’s death. But once the fiery beauty crosses swords with Bastien, she’s not so sure she really wants him to change his wicked ways…


Shana Galen is the author of five Regency historicals, including the Rita-nominated Blackthorne’s Bride. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of a daughter and a spoiled cat and lives in Houston, Texas, where she is working on her next regency romance series! For more information please visit www.shanagalen.com, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.