Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Walkers of Scotland

For all my followers, in case you are wondering, I’ll be traveling to the Western Highlands of Scotland during the first two weeks in September, seeing some spectacular sights as I research Scotland's past for some historical romances that I’ve a mind to write.

If you'd like to keep up with my travels and see my pictures, be sure and friend me on Facebook.

I'll be taking some trains, including this one at the Glenfinnan Viaduct:

While my blog posts will continue...and September is Bodice Ripper month, so you won't want to miss that!...I thought it was fitting I should do a post on my own name as regards the Scots.

So here is The Walker “clan” for you to enjoy!

From what I can tell, there is more than one belief on how the surname Walker came about. Some say it refers to the men who walked about the castle to watch for intruders or thieves. Others say Walker originates from Waulker, “son of the fuller or cloth maker,” and refers to those who walked on the wool that was cleaned and thicken by being soaked in water and trampled under foot. In any event, the name is widespread throughout Scotland. (It is the 21st most common name in Scotland.)

The Highland or Gaelic version of the name Walker is MacNucator and derives from "Mac an fhucadair" (son of the fuller of the cloth), of which the old Scots equivalent is Waulker. In modern times, the name is associated with both the Stewarts and the McGregors.

My mother once told me that we were “papists in Scotland and Protestants in Ireland.” I decided that meant we were rebels all around. (In the 17th century, the Walkers were fined for harboring fugitives of the outlawed Clan Gregor!)
Clansmen of the name followed the Stewarts of Appin in support of Prince Charles Edward Stuart in 1745. The Appin Stewarts, known as “The Loyal Clan,” are a part of the West Highland branch of the royal surname Stewart. They are associated with Castle Stalker in Argyll. Their motto is Quihidder Wil Zie (Whither will ye? That is, what/which will you..choose…war or peace?) I'm reading a Scottish historical romance now, Lady of the Glen, that shows the Stewarts of Appin fighting alongside the MacDonalds at Killiecrankie.

Castle Stalker, Argyll

Prior to the majority of the MacNucator clan changing their name to Walker in the 18th century, the MacNucators appear to have been located in and around Knapdale, where historians have associate them with Clan Macmillan. They are also a sept of Stewart.

Loch Caille Bharr in Knapdale
Those who consider themselves to be members of the Clan Macmillan, use the emblems of kinship of that clan. (OK, so it's not a red based tartan!)

Walkers of note:

As far as I could ascertain, the earliest known Walkers to immigrate to America were John, Roger and Isabel Walker who immigrated to Virginia in 1623.

Patrick Nowcatter was Procurator Fiscal for Argyll in 1655, and Martine McNaucater held the same office in 1667.

In the 18th century, Helen Walker (d.1791) walked from Scotland to London to petition for the life of her sister who had been condemned to death for infanticide. Her story provided the inspiration for Sir Walter Scott's epic tale of Jeanie Deans in The Heart of Midlothian. A statue was erected in Kirkpatrick-Irongray, Kirkcudbrightshire by Sir Walter Scott in memory of Helen Walker upon whom he based his character.

Robert Walker (1755-1808) was born in Monkton, Ayrshire and became Minister of Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh.

James Walker (1770-1841) was born in Fraserburgh and became Minister of St Peter's Episcopalian Chapel, Edinburgh, and in 1830, the Bishop of Edinburgh. 

Sir James Walker (1863-1935) became Professor of Chemistry at Dundee University and worked on hydrolysis, ionization and amphoteric electrolysis. 

The Irish and English Walkers:

Walker is also an English name near the Scottish border. And Walkers throughout Ireland have been identified as non-linked families to the ones in Scotland and England. A Walker family from Ireland is probably from Sligo or Derry where they came from, two of the hardest hit areas during the famine.

So, now you know! Tell your friends whose surname is “Walker” they have an interesting heritage!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

New Reviews: Diana Gabaldon's OUTLANDER series!

With all the interest in the new Outlander TV series (which, I must say, is quite wonderful and seems to be following the books closely), and my travel to Scotland in September, I thought it timely that I share my reviews of the books...well, at least as far as I have read (through book 5). So here they are!


I had known about the Outlander series by Gabaldon since I started reading Scottish historical romances, but I avoided this series because of the reviews that indicated the heroine was a married woman having a relationship with another man. But, once I began reading it, I quickly learned that is not what this story is about.

Claire Randall, a British Army nurse in WWII, was married for a week to her professor husband before the war. Upon being reunited at the war's end, they go on a second honeymoon to the Scottish Highlands where they were married. One afternoon she inadvertently falls through a crack in time at the standing stones and finds herself in 1743. There she meets Highlander Jamie Fraser and is required to marry him--and thus become a Scot--to save her life. And so she begins a new life, torn between two lives and two men.

We see 18th century Scotland through the eyes of a woman from the 20th century and that alone is worth the read. Often Gabaldon uses great humor in showing Claire's frustration with the 18th century way of life and the men of that time. Unique among romances, even Scottish historicals, it is told from the first person (that is, Claire is telling her own story).

The novel travels at a leisurely pace (850 pages allows the author to do that). I could have surmised the author is an ecologist (I also have a degree in ecology) since we are frequently watching the birds and the plants along the way (literally). But it is not slow so as to be boring. No, it is quite absorbing...a sweeping saga with a rich tapestry of characters woven carefully together with introspection and examination of people's hearts, minds and choices.

It is told with great detail in most respects (except that I did wish she'd given better and descriptions of some of the characters and reminded me what they looked like as the story developed).

In a carefully crafted view of the world and God, told from the perspective of a Franciscan monk in a French abbey, we finally have the author's perspective on why Claire might have been sent back in time to live another life, and that, too, was worth the reading. I highly recommend this romance.


I'm not giving away the plot when I tell you it begins 20 years after OUTLANDER ends, and Claire is now once again Mrs. Randall. It is clear that she and Jamie have been lost to each other for 20 years and Jamie's daughter, Brianna, born after Claire returned to the 20th century, is now a young woman and looks a lot like her father. The fact Jamie and Claire weren't together and had lost the best years of their lives to each other had me truly grieving from page one.

Jamie is now the "dragonfly in amber," preserved in Clarie's mind and heart as if frozen in time. After the beginning in 1968, the story goes into flashbacks (as Claire tells Brianna of her father and their love), showing us what happened when Claire and Jamie were last together in the years leading up to Culloden. But my heart knew where it was leading (since she gave it to us on page one) and that fairly depressed me the whole way through, I had so come to love the two. Still, it's an amazing tale and once I began reading book 3, I found some hope.

VOYAGER, book 3

This is the 3rd in the unique and wonderful Scottish historical (and time travel) series that grabs you by the throat and won't let you go. At over 1000 pages, this installment is an all day sucker of historical romance and well worth your time.

The saga of Claire and Jamie continues as Claire, who by 1968 has become an MD and is now chief of staff of a prominent Boston hospital, having discovered that Jamie did not die at Culloden in 1746, learns more about Jamie's hard life since they were forced apart 20 years earlier. She is assisted in her research in Scotland by Roger Wakefield, an Oxford scholar and a Scot who is attracted to Claire's beautiful daughter, Brianna, who is the physical image of her father, Jamie. As the three conduct their research into the past, we become a part of Jamie's life during the years he was not with Claire. As life throws him one difficult challenge after another (living as an outlaw in a cave, prison, a servant in a rich man's house, manipulation and abuse by others), he remains a man of honor and integrity with a heart to serve and provide for those he loves, all the while longing for his lost love and the child she bore him he has never seen.

Claire longs to rejoin Jamie in the past, though she knows another passage through the standing stones to go back 200 years in time carries great risk. It is a risk she is willing to take because he is her heart.

This is a well-told tale of a deep love that spans centuries and of the two lives woven into the tapestry of Scotland's history. It is a rare romance that sees the love between the same two people flourish in each is a tribute to Gabaldon's outstanding talent as a storyteller, one who sees into the hearts of people, that she can make it captivating. You want Jamie and Claire's love to go on forever.

This book had me both laughing out loud and crying tears as it ripped at my own heart. I highly recommend it.


I did not agree with those who said this is a "weak link" in the Outlander series or that it is not as good as the first ones. I found this 4th book (another "all day sucker" at over 1000 pages), to be a richly woven tale with great depth and lots of twists and turns as the story moves to 18th century America, several years before the Revolutionary War.

And this one not only continues the great love between Jamie and Claire, but adds the story of their daughter Brianna and her love Roger. I did find the latter two to be a bit hard to grasp, but unlike others, I did not think Roger was too much like Jamie. Perhaps it is just that we haven't yet seen enough of Brianna and Roger to feel like we truly understand them.

Gabaldon does an extraordinary job of depicting life among the Indians and the slaves and the hardships the white settlers faced, particularly in the backcountry of North Carolina where the Frasers lived.

There are wonderful secondary characters that I came to love and expect to see in the remaining volumes. The story of Jamie's nephew, Ian, becomes one of heart-rending interest and likely reflects what may have happened to some in that time. Lord John Grey is still in the picture as the friendship with Jamie continues.

Once again, Gabaldon uses the "time travel" aspect of Claire's and Brianna's (and Roger's) being 20th century people to show what a change in lifestyle it would be for us to go back and live in that time.

Finally, to see all the Scots in America after losing their homeland to England's abuses post Culloden was encouraging, even though they had lost family and clan roots at the hands of the cruel English. It tugged at my heart. Still, as this story drives home, England's loss was America's gain.


I've read the other reviews and think those that are critical miss the mark. You must keep in mind that this is a sweeping saga that weaves a complex comprising a rich tapestry of characters, history and believable plots and with details and side trails that require space--in this case 1400+ pages. Her writing in this one is every bit as good as the first one, though this one does move more slowly. Yes, she could have cut it down, but then we might not feel as if we'd lived it.

In this 5th book, the tale meanders a bit and there were times I grew a bit exasperated with Roger's adventures that always seemed to go awry (does the man do nothing right?). Still, I was not bored. I also felt my heart moved as Jamie continues to love Claire with words of deep caring that more than make up for the slow passages that describe in gruesome detail medicine in the 18th century.

This one takes place entirely in the New World, the colony of North Carolina in particular. Roger and Bree have joined Jamie and Claire with their son, little Jemmy. As they grow closer to the Revolutionary War they all know is coming, they get caught up in the discontent between the settlers who chaff at the Crown's rule and the British whose troops still keep the law. Jamie is a colonel in the Governor's militia and, once again, leads men to battle, though he knows he will one day have to switch sides to the colonists. His settlement on the Ridge grows, as a host of interesting characters join them, and more is learned about other time travelers who have come through the portal in the stones.

We don't see much of Fergus, which is too bad as he's a wonderful character, but we do see a lot of his wife, Marsali and their charming son, Germain. And more is heard from Ian who became a Mohawk.

There are wonderful lines, like Jamie telling Claire, "God has made me what I am. He has given me the duty--and I must do it, whatever the cost." And I loved the verses of song she included so naturally. It's definitely worth the read!

I'd love to hear from my followers as to whether you've read the series, or part of it, and what you most enjoyed and what drove you nuts!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

New Review: Victoria Holt’s ON THE NIGHT OF THE SEVENTH MOON – Love and Mystery in the Black Forest!

Set in Germany and England from 1859 to 1870 (with an end note in 1901), this tells the story of Helena Trant whose parents were so much in love they had little time for her. Still, hers was a happy childhood among books in Oxford where her father had a bookstore. When she was old enough, her parents sent her to Germany near the Black Forest to a convent school where her mother had been educated.

Helena loves the forest and the fairy tales surrounding it. She hears of the legend of the night of the seventh moon “when mischief is abroad and is routed with the coming of dawn.” On one night, she gets lost in the mist of the forest and is rescued by a man who takes her to his hunting lodge. She taken with him that she might have allowed him to have his way with her but for the intervention of a housekeeper who took measures to preserve Helena’s virtue. But Helena never forgot the man even though she did not know his name.

Years later, she returns to Germany and on another night of the seventh moon Helena meets and marries her German at his hunting lodge, but then she wakes from her idyllic honeymoon to discover she has been drugged by a physician who tells her she has escaped a horror that befell her in the forest. Helena lives in a fog of dreams and wonders where truth is.

I have to say that I love Holt’s writing, and this story sucked me in immediately. It is labeled as a romantic suspense, but I didn’t see it containing any more suspense than many historical romances. But it does have a Gothic feel and there is a mystery. Holt had me wondering what had really happened. She did an excellent job of that. The book is a bit slow in the middle, and the hero and heroine are separated for years. In that interim, I found passages that seemed repetitive, but the ending is a great one. As always, Holt is a master storyteller and creates wonderfully vivid characters. I recommend it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

New Review: Bertrice Small’s BIANCA – Intriguing Love Story from Florence and the Black Sea in the 15th century!

Set in Florence and the area around the Black Sea, beginning in 1474, this is the story of Bianca, oldest daughter of Giovanni Pietro d’Angelo, a Florentine silk merchant. When his son’s indiscretion threatens to ruin the family, Giovanni is blackmailed into giving Bianca in marriage to the debauched blackguard Sebastiano Rovere. Rovere treats his delicate new bride abysmally and she loathes and fears him.

Her mother, appalled at what has befallen her daughter, helps Bianca flee to a seaside villa where she meets Prince Amir, grandson of Memhet the Conqueror. Two years later, Bianca’s husband is murdered (I couldn’t have been happier), leaving her free to find love with Amir. She wants no husband and would have him for her lover, but neither Amir (who wants her for his 3rd wife) nor her mother (who considers him an infidel) accepts that decision.

Ms. Small never holds back on the evil of others, so the beginning of the book shows in vivid terms the perversions of Rovere. But once we are at the sea cliff villa, beauty is restored. Amir is a gallant, romantic man who loves Bianca. And Bianca has changed from the docile, obedient daughter to a strong woman bent on her own destiny.

It’s a fascinating look at the culture of the day in both Florence and in the world of the merchants of the Black Sea. A good start to a new series for Ms. Small.

The Silk Merchant’s Daughters series thus far:


Sunday, August 24, 2014

New Review: Elizabeth Thornton’s VELVET IS THE NIGHT – Love Amidst the French Revolution!

Set in France in 1794, during the French Revolution, this is the story of beautiful Claire Deveraux, the bastard child of a prominent American who fell in love with her mother on a trip to France, though he already had a wife and children. Raised by her uncle Claire loves his family as her own. When they are threatened with the guillotine, she agrees to a bargain with the diabolical new commissioner in Rouen, Phillipe Dehet, the protégé of Robespierre: she will become Phillipe’s mistress in exchange for her family’s safe transport out of France.

Unbeknownst to innocent Claire, Phillipe has a look-alike half brother, Adam Dillon, who though raised in France, is now an American patriot and the most sought after bachelor in New York. Adam is sent to France by none other than Claire’s real father to engage in a daring escapade to take the place of Phillipe and provide the nobles fleeing France a path to safety. Claire’s natural father tells Adam to do all he can to protect his daughter, Claire Deveraux, if he finds her.

When he arrives in Rouen where Phillipe has been appointed commissioner, Adam finds Claire waiting in his bedroom, but under an assumed last name. He has no idea the young woman whose beauty he cannot resist is the woman he was asked to protect.

This is a great story. Thornton has done much research to provide us with a vivid picture of what was going on in France at the time, including the fear that had spread throughout the population. And this is a wonderful romance surrounded by deception, treachery and misunderstanding that keep Adam and Claire apart. Fast-paced and full of action, it kept me reading late into the night. I recommend it!

This is a part of the Devereux Family trilogy but can be read as a stand alone:

Tender the Storm
Velvet is the Night
Cherished September

Friday, August 22, 2014

Best Historical Romances Set in Exotic Locales!

OK, so it’s August and you’re home and you’re bored. Maybe the kids are in summer camp or going back to school. You want an adventure, an around the world trip, or perhaps an ocean voyage—without leaving your living room. And you want a good love story. But you’re tired of those set mostly in England, Scotland, Ireland and America? Well, I have just the list for you!

My mother taught me to read when I was four and told me I could travel the world through books. She was right. And were she still alive, she would love this list I’ve created for you daydreamers out there who long to travel…historical romances by some great authors set in exotic locales. Though some might begin (or end) in England or America, they will quickly take you to another time and another place! And all have been rated 4, 4 and ½ or 5 stars by me:

Across a Moonlit Sea, The Iron Rose and The Following Sea, trilogy by Marsha Canham (the Atlantic Ocean, the Caribbean and the Spanish Main)
Beyond Innocence by Joanna Lloyd (Australia)
Beyond Sunrise by Candice Proctor (the South Pacific, Polynesian islands)
Bianca by Bertrice Small, 1st in the Silk Merchant’s Daughters series (Florence, Italy)
Blue Moon by Parris Afton Bonds (Mexico)
Broken Wing by Judith James (France, North Africa and the Mediterranean)
Devil’s Embrace and Devil’s Daughter by Catherine Coulter (Italy and the Mediterranean)
Fields of the Sun by Nadine Crenshaw (Morocco, the Atlantic Ocean and Brazil)
Forever and a Lifetime by Jennifer Horsman (Switzerland)
Hearts Beguiled by Penelope Williamson (France)
Island Flame by Karen Robards (various exotic ports between Lisbon and America)
Lady of Fire and Fire and Steel by Anita Mills (Normandy)
Night in Eden by Candice Proctor (Australia)
Night Shadow by Laura Renken (the Caribbean and the Spanish Main)
No Gentle Love by Rebecca Brandewyne (Ireland, France, Africa, India and China)
Notorious Angel by Jennifer Blake (Nicaragua)
Rangoon by Christine Monson (Burma)
September Moon by Candice Proctor (Australian outback)
Sleep in the Woods by Dorothy Eden (New Zealand)
Splendor by Brenda Joyce (Russia)
The Book of Seven Delights by Betina Krahn (Morocco)
The Book of True Desires by Betina Krahn (Cuba and Mexico)
The Captain of All Pleasures by Kresley Cole (the High Seas from England to Australia) and the sequel, The Price of Pleasure (Oceania and Cape Town, South Africa)
The Captive by Victoria Holt (the Middle East)
The Demon Lover by Victoria Holt (France)
The Duke of Shadows by Meredith Duran (India)
The Flesh and The Devil by Teresa Denys (Spain)
The Forbidden Rose by Joanna Bourne (France)
The Golden Barbarian by Iris Johansen (the Balkans and Sedikhan, a mythical desert country)
The Hidden Heart by Laura Kinsale (South America, Tahiti and the Pacific)
The India Fan by Victoria Holt (India)
The Jacaranda Tree by Rebecca Brandewyne (Australia)
The Lily and the Falcon by Jannine Corte-Petska (Italy)
The Lion's Daughter by Loretta Chase (Albania)
The Silver Devil by Teresa Denys (Italy)
The Spanish Rose by Shirlee Busbee (Jamaica, the Caribbean)
The Storm and the Splendor by Jennifer Blake (Algiers)
The Warrior by Judith E. French (Egypt)
The Wind and the Sea by Marsha Canham (North Africa, the High Seas)
The Wind Dancer by Iris Johansen (Italy) and the sequel, Storm Winds (France)
Till Dawn Tames the Night by Meagan McKinney (the High Seas and the Caribbean)
Under Gypsy Skies by Kathryn Kramer (Spain)
Velvet is the Night by Elizabeth Thornton (France)
Whispers of Heaven by Candice Proctor (Tasmania)

For more romances on the high seas featuring Pirates and Privateers and Vikings, see those specific “best” lists. The links are on the right side of my blog.

For my own books set in exotic locales, might I recommend Racing With The Wind (Paris) and Wind Raven (the High Seas, Bermuda, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

And the winners are...

First, thanks to all who stopped by and commented on Shirlee Busbee's interview. It is clear Shirlee has LOTS of fans out there and I'm so pleased she got to hear from many of you!

There are three lucky winners who will each receive one of her eBooks:

Janice Hougland
Anna Bowling
and Jennifer Wyatt

You lucky ones can expect to receive an Amazon gift of your book from Shirlee...CONGRATULATIONS!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Favorite Author and My Guest Today: Shirlee Busbee!

With over nine million copies of her books in print, Shirlee Busbee is the recipient of numerous awards for excellence in writing, including the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice Award and Affaire de Coeur's Silver and Bronze Pen Awards.

Shirlee was born in San Jose, California, but grew up traveling the world with her parents, two sisters and three brothers, because her father was a career navel officer. She attended high school in Morocco!

While working in Solano County, she met her life-long friend and mentor, author Rosemary Rogers. Shirlee followed Rosemary into the world of romance writing, with the much-acclaimed success of her first novel, Gypsy Lady in 1977. Shirlee went of from that success to carve her own niche in the historical romance genre.

She is married to her best friend, Howard. The couple celebrated their 48th anniversary in 2011.

      I am thrilled to have Shirlee as my guest today. I've asked her a lot of questions so we can catch up with this prolific author. Make sure you comment as Shirlee has graciously agreed to give away one of each of her 3 eBooks pictured below.

The Interview:
      Shirlee, I know you’ve been deep in the world of historical romance since Gypsy Lady was first published in 1977. And that you’ve written two dozen historical romances since then. I also know that Rosemary Rogers (of Sweet Savage Love fame) was your mentor. And, of course, you live in California (where I do!), but what I don’t know—and you need to tell us—is what you are doing now.

Right now and for the past several months, I’ve been busy bringing out my backlist in the ebook format. I’m ashamed to confess that I haven’t written an original word in longer than I care to think. I do plan on changing that and soon. The urge to write is just too strong to ignore.

So what do I plan on writing? There are several ideas that keep reoccuring to me. One is a paranormal set here in California in a small town. I’d like shape shifters, dragons, vampires, telepaths etc., but I know that I’ll need to keep the amount paranormals to a resonable level so I have a lot of fun making lists of which ones I can use.  

Another idea is going back to my contemporary books The Oak Valley series, and continuing that series. I have one completed manuscript and half of another.  That unfinished manuscript nags at me and I keep telling myself I need to finish it before moving on. 

Of course, I couldn’t ignore my historical roots either. I play with the notion of completing The Joslyn Family books – Simon, Mathew and, perhaps Lamb being the lead characters. We’ll see.

So far, there’s….

     This is “Exotic Locales month” on my blog, and I have just reviewed The Spanish Rose, which is set in the Spanish Main and British Jamaica, so tell us, what made you set your intriguing story in such an exotic location?

I have always loved pirates and have special fondness for Harry Morgan. Don’t ask me why, except maybe the fact that he was a well-known pirate (and not Mr. Nice Guy) and yet he became respectable, eventually becoming the Governor of Jamaica and died in his bed at a ripe old age. A pirate happy ending, if you will. I’ve also always loved the tall ships and I just wanted to something totally different from the books that I’d written, at least as far as local and era. The Spanish Rose fits the bill.

      What’s your favorite book? The hardest to write? And, which hero is your favorite and why?

It’s a toss-up between Deceive Not My Heart and Whisper To Me Of Love. The hardest to write?  Lady Vixen. I don’t think that 2nd books are ever easy to write. I kept thinking I was transcribing words, descriptions, actions from Gypsy Lady until Rosemary Rogers said, “Shirlee, that’s your style. Your voice.” Uh, okay.


      One of my very favorite stories of yours is Lady Vixen, which involves a wonderful heroine and a privateer's ship bound for the pirate havens of New Orleans. It’s on two of my best lists: Best Pirate and Privateers and Best Bodice Rippers. It is also one of my favorite romance novel covers.

I’m pleased and delighted that Lady Vixen found such favor with you. As I mentioned above, this was the hardest book for me to write. Mostly, I think, 2nd Book Writer’s Block. It was very long book, too. The original manuscript was 897 pages (I think), and we had to edit it down to a size the publisher could publish for a reasonable price. Cutting nearly 200 pages was one of the most, if not the most painful thing I’ve ever done. I tell myself, oh, well, you learned to cut and edit. Painfully. 

      I admire your ability to take on difficult subjects…it’s something I have been trying to do in my own writing. Did Lady Vixen require huge amounts of research? I’m thinking yes, but want to hear it from you.

It required a fair amount, no doubt about it. But since it involved subjects that fascinated me, Lafitte, the Battle of New Orleans, the War of 1812 and I had several books on those subjects, it was a pleasure.

      What was your favorite novel to research?

Probably, it was While Passion Sleeps. I loved learning about the Comanches.

           And what was the most popular by sales?

Gypsy Lady did excellently, but Deceive Not My Heart is what I consider the gift that keeps giving. That book just keeps selling and selling and selling.

[Regan’s note: I can see why! I loved that intriguing love story from old Louisiana!]

  Any advice to a new author joining you in the historical romance writing profession?  
The same advice I got from Rosemary Rogers: Do it. Just go for it.

Any plans for the fall you want to share with us?

As you know, I’m in the process of bringing most of my backlist in the ebook format and until they are done, any thought of new book is down on my list of must dos. Right now, I’m finishing up The Southern Women series, which includes The Tiger Lily, Each Time We Love, At Long Last, and Love A Dark Rider.  They should be out this fall. 

Once Southern Women is out, I’ll be starting on The English Brides series.  However, I’m not going to say I’m not thinking about that new book. My problem is that being in unique position of pretty much writing what I want, I’m like a kid in a candy store.  Oh, I want that one. No, that one. Ooooh, what about this one? You get the idea.

Thanks, Shirlee, for joining me today. It’s so good to catch up with you!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Review: Shirlee Busbee’s THE SPANISH ROSE – Sweeping Saga from the Spanish Main and British Jamaica in the 17th Century

Set in the Caribbean in 1664-1668, this classic by Busbee tells the story of two feuding families: the British Lancasters and the Spanish Delgatos.

A long time ago, the two families became enemies when a Delgato man took as his unwilling bride Faith Lancaster, steeling her away to Spain. The Lancasters exacted their vengeance, as did the Delgatos their retribution—and so the vendetta has continued.

Maria Delgato, raised on the island of Santo Domingo, has the Lancaster blue eyes her Spanish relations hate. Gabriel Lancaster, who owns land on Jamaica, immediately recognizes them. On his return from London, Maria’s cruel brother, Diego, seizes Gabriel’s ship. Diego’s attack results in the death of Gabriel’s young wife and the capture of his 16-year-old sister. Gabriel becomes a slave on Diego’s sugar plantation, where he is treated cruelly. But Gabriel escapes, and 4 years later is planning his vengeance with Maria in mind.

I loved the hero; Gabriel is noble, generous, tender with those he loves—and constant.

If you like to be swept away to another time and place, this one will please you. Busbee, a master of historical romance, has done a good job, starting with an interesting time in history, and adding to it an intriguing plot with lots of action, suspense and a compelling hero.

It’s a wonderful dip into the past—a sweeping saga from England to the Spanish Main and British Jamaica—a great story.

Note: Shirlee will be a guest on my blog this week, August 20. So, come on back for a chance to win one of her books!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

New Review: Dorothy Eden’s SLEEP IN THE WOODS – Absorbing Story from New Zealand in the Late Victorian Era

Two authors I greatly admire, Heather Graham and Cordia Byers, recommended this book to me. I am so glad they did. Though it was published in 1960 (I bought it used on Amazon), it is a worthy story readers will enjoy today (with one caveat you’ll see below). It will definitely be on my list of the Best Historical Romances Set in Exotic Locales, which I’ll be posting later this month.

Set in the late Victorian period, the story tells of Briar Johnson, who as a baby was found in a cold ditch by the side of the road clutched in the arms of what was presumably her dead mother. Briar was fortunate to be raised in the home of a schoolmaster who found her intelligent and taught her to speak well and read the classics. When he dies, she takes a position as a maid and sails away to New Zealand with two young ladies sent by their family to find proper husbands.

Beautiful Briar (named after the briar rose) determines she will one day have the finer things in life, the life she believes she was meant for. So, when the opportunity comes, she attends a ball that would be forbidden to her and dons a mask for a masked game that has the men picking prospective brides. Alas, she did not get the man she wanted. Instead, she got the hard Saul Whitmore, cousin to an earl and wealthy in his own right with a sheep ranch and the finest house in the area deep in the wild country.

Saul, at his mother’s urging, intends to take a wife, but most of the women he meets are insipid creatures who can only talk of gowns and parties. In Briar, he sees a woman who has a fire in her green eyes that intrigues him. So he determines to have her. With few options and urged on by all, Briar accepts his proposal of marriage even though she hates the hard man who mocks her at every turn.

The title, “Sleep in the Woods” was used twice in the book, once as a euphemism for death, the death that was all around the pioneers living in Taranaki in the shadow of Mt. Egmont on the North Island of New Zealand. When they were under siege by a renegade band of Maoris, the Reverend prayed: “Grant us to live, and not to sleep in these woods, unless that be Thy will. If we must die, let us do so bravely…” But then later, Briar remembers a passage from Ezekiel 34: “…they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods,” which gives a more favorable aspect to the title and comports with the excellent and very happy ending.

Mt. Egmont
Suspenseful action is infused throughout this well-researched story. Wonderful characters populate every page. Beautiful descriptions of both flora and fauna are tucked in without you really being aware of it. And the hero and heroine are striking.

Saul, a man whose strength enabled him to carve out a destiny in New Zealand’s wild country, was a worthy hero, though often harsh. Briar, grasping at the security Saul’s wealth provided, had a tender heart for all. She was the mistress of his house and the courage of the people as they faced hardship and death. I could not help but love her.

The only thing this story lacked—and might have been better for it—were love scenes. So much emotion was left in the dark. What Saul and Briar shared in bed might have told us their real feelings for each other when their words did not. An entire wedding night was summed up with one word, “Afterward.” There is even a bodice-ripping scene rather late in the book, but without the follow through it was a bit obscure. But one must make allowances for its year of publication—1960.

Still, it’s a great classic and a worthy read—and set in an exotic locale!

Young Maori man