Friday, September 25, 2009

They are starting to break and the real ray of light.

You may have gathered due to my lack of blogging lately that things haven't been going so well in the bunny world my sisters accuse me of living in.
But the light is starting to break through once again. I was overwhelmed by all kinds of stuff - among other things, one of the big stuff was housework. I was getting further and further behind in it and couldn't seem to get the energy to do it. So yesterday I decided that I had to start somewhere and made a list of tiny baby steps and if I only got one or two baby steps done, then that was a start. And I actually got quite a few baby steps done. I mean, we are talking real tiny baby steps. One of the things was emptying the dishwasher. Another was taking the recyclable stuff out to the blue box. Yep - baby steps indeed. But since I don't really watch Grey's Anatomy, I was safe to spend most of the evening tackling those baby steps and when I looked around by the time I was ready to head to bed, things were looking a whole lot better!!

But the real sunshine in the clouds was when I clicked on to the Borders Blog a few minutes ago (after I finished the baby steps of vacuuming the stairs and managed drop the vacuum cleaner on my head - don't ask but it hurt) and rewarded myself with some blog hopping while rubbing said head and saw my column was up. Whoa - talk about rays of light in a cloudy sky *g*. Jane had asked me a while ago to do a column and luckily I had most of it done before the clouds all gathered. I managed to finish it in the storms of life and send it on.

And it's up today!!!! I was squealing listening to Sue Grimshaw introduce the column. And the topic? Well, *g* you will just have to head on over and read it - heh heh heh!

And now - back to another baby step - vacuuming the 'Library'! And then - changing the bedding. It's all in the baby steps.

Monday, September 21, 2009

In the ship of life

Sometimes the wind just doesn't blow right. Hopefully my sails will fill up soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Open Letter

sub title

I hate politicians

Stop it!! Just fucking stop it - all of you!! I am sick and tired of each and every one of you using this nation as your own personal power games. It's obvious not a one of you care about the country of Canada. All you care about is 'do I have enough power yet? is it time to call a vote because me and my party have enough votes that we might win?'

This should not be your attitude. Instead your attitude should be what is best for the COUNTRY. But not a one of you think that. I don't care if you are Conservative, Liberal or NDP, ALL the leaders are guilty of looking only at their own self-interests.

For those who don't live in Canada, this is a simple explanation of how it works here

Federal Political Parties

There are 19 registered federal political parties. Each party can nominate one candidate for each riding. During the Canadian federal election in 2008, representatives of only four federal political parties - the Conservative Party, theLiberal Party, the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party won seats in the House of Commons.

Forming the Government

The party that wins the most ridings in a general federal election is asked by the Governor General to form the government. The leader of that party becomes the Prime Minister of Canada. If the party wins in more than 154 ridings, it will have a majority government, which makes it much easier to get legislation passed in the House of Commons. If the winning party wins 154 seats or fewer, it will form a minority government. In order to get legislation through the House, a minority government usually has to adjust policies to get enough votes from MPs of other parties. A minority government must constantly work to maintain the confidence of the House of Commons in order to stay in power.

The Official Opposition

The political party that wins the second highest number of seats in the House of Commons becomes the Official Opposition.

At present, the Conservative Party is running a minority government. Now does this mean they all play nice and each work for the best of the country?? No, of course it doesn't. Rather they pay attention to polls and when they think their party might pull ahead they declare they are thinking what is best for the Canadian people, they can't go along with the other parties, they think their policies are dangerous - blah, blah, blah. I call bull shit on the group of them.

We are supposed to have elections every four years but this is how it's broken down in the past few years:

October 14, 2008

January 23, 2006

June 28, 2004

And now the Liberals are threatening to force us into yet another election this fall. Is it because they think it would be best for the country? Well, lets see - we have just suffered from a world wide recession and things look to be turning around, not just in Canada but around the world - hopefully. So of course this isn't the time to change governments. BUT they were ahead in the polls. They are threatening to defeat any bill that the Conservatives bring forward - just 'cause - cause really they think they have a chance of forming the next government. I don't think there is a Canadian among us who wants yet another election.

I have never not voted since I turned 18. But I don't want to vote anymore - for any of the bastards.

I heard on the news today though, that the Liberals have taken a nose dive in the polls. How much do you want to bet - miraculously - they realize that it might not be in the best interests of the country to call an election at this time after all.

Bastards - ALL of them.

I hate politicians

even if one of them is holding a cute little kitten

The next post will be much more upbeat - Recent Reads!
I would have done it tonight - but it IS So You Think You Can Dance Canada night - in this house that's an event!!

Monday, September 14, 2009

I had to take a break

Stuff happened that's thrown me off my groove so until I get it back again, I thought I'd share some of the best of So You Think You Can Dance Canada. Now I'm sure the powers that be will be taking these down soon - still can't understand why - but for now - here are some great routines!

Now for those who don't know, Emanuel Sandhu was the men's Canadian Figure Skating Champion for a few years. Then he dropped out of dance to concentrate on dancing - his first love. He tried out for the show last season and just missed being in the top twenty. But he made it this year and I think he's great and I'm so glad he made it.

This next one was from the week before but I really enjoyed it.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

At the risk of stirring controversy

Ah - what they hell! I VERY seldom do so I think I can this one time.

Keep in mind that this post isn't done out of any kind of anger or sour grapes - well, at least I hope it's not sour grapes - although I'm human so one grape might make it's way in.

The BBAW - not to take anything away from those who have been nominated; there are a few I think are well deserving - but I don't like the whole idea. This is only my personal opinion, but it makes me squirmy. I don't watch award shows - of any kind - I don't like them either but I love music and movies and whatnot so it isn't about the blogs in question. I can't emphasize that enough!

But I don't blog to win awards. I do it to connect with other romance readers; to share a large and important part of who I am, and when my husband was diagnosed with cancer and then lost his battle, it was my salvation. And by having it on my blog, I can go back and relive our life together and see how far I've come. I don't want awards for that. I was nominated for one award in this years BBAW and notified by email. I read through it a couple of times but nowhere was I asked to submit any posts, which seems kind of fishy to me seeing as it looks like everyone else was asked to. Even if I had though, I wouldn't have. Not because I'm not in love with some of what I've done. I think the one I did on the adventures of a cat person dog sitting my sisters dog was brilliant. Yes - I do think that. I had such fun writing it. Also the two follow-up posts were also oodles of fun.

And it's been truly a labour of love promoting some of the things I've got all excited about - promoting Dreaming of You, the Cravenators vs Sebastioners rumble (which is still going on *g*), The North and South Crusde, the promotion of Broken Wing and most recently, The Great Western Drive.

I've been blogging for over five years now and while many have come and gone (and damn it - I miss you all!) some are still around; Sybil(who I still rumble with :-), Wendy, Keishon, Rosario were all blogging before I was, yet none of them received awards and they all have GREAT blogs - done out of love. I love Karen's blog - even though we are as different as night and day in style *g* - but then that's what makes blogging so great. She can be the queen of controversy, but she is also wonderful at raising topics that make you think such as her recent posts on health care and previously her posts on AA authors and how they are treated differently. Cindy, while not blogging that much about books, certainly has an eclectic blog and she was the first blogger I met in person - being a neighbour - blog wise.

I look down the list of nominations and none of these bloggers are up for anything so I know I'm in good company. What I do see, are a lot of new bloggers - quite a few I've never seen or noticed before and trust me - I'm always looking to find new bloggers. And I'm not taking anything away from them, I think it's great that people are reading and enjoying their blogs - I do and do too.

But as with award shows, I'm struck by all those who aren't nominated. And no - the answer isn't more awards. There are far too many categories as it is.

This is just my opinion, but reader blogs shouldn't be done out of any kind of agenda - as a way to get ARC's as some are; used as a promotion tool by either authors or publishers. If I promote a book or author it's because I've LOVED that author or a book. I don't get a whole lot of ARC's - very few. I don't want them. What I do - I do out of love and to have fun. And I hope that's what comes across here at Ramblings.

Wendy did a most excellent post recently and she says exactly what I think.

So - now you can have at me - I'll bring out Krisite to take the flack - she's good at that.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Wrapping things up

Well - I took a bit of a powder there didn't I? I didn't really mean too - except I was concentrating on reading and it's so tough to do both. And I left a few things outstanding.

Highland Rebel Winners

Don't you just hate when someone says they are going to have a draw on a certain day and then they don't do it? I find it most annoying so you can be annoyed with me 'cause *gulp* that's what I did.

So - I'm late but I haven't forgotten. The winners of the two copies I have for Highland Rebel when Judith James answered my questions are:




Congratulations to both of you!! I will let the people at Source books know and have then get in touch with you!!

And for the one that I'm giving away - the winner is:



The Great Western Drive

And in further contest news, there are still a few winners I haven't heard from in The Great Western Drive. I have books so drop me an email if you are a winner and I haven't heard from you :-)

And if you've noticed, I've started adding names to the sidebar. As my middle name is Procrastination (not really - it's actually Kristie - yes - I go by my middle name) I didn't get everyone at the time. So drop me a comment on the Western you are trying (and a link if applicable) and I'll add your name. And be sure to get your own icon for the side bar.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Having Fun With Spam Again

Just for the heck of it, I’ve been saving my spam again. No – not the kind out the tin, the kind we get in our junk email. Once more I’ve saved some of the funnier spam mail I got and rather than reply to it personally, I thought I would do it here.

Michale Bydyono says “John said to me”

What, what did he say to you? You left me hanging there!

Tamika Villarreal says “Women would be begging to take a picture of your fantastic rod”

Um – I don’t think so Tamika. While true, I haven’t asked a lot of women about their photography habits, I don’t think we go around wanting to take pictures of fantastic rods as a rule – flowers, yes, sunsets, perhaps – a woman I work with lives near the lake and often takes pictures of the sunsets; our children, of course, our husbands – could be, our husbands wankers – nope – don’t think so.

Daisy Ajdoedih says “Plan B”

Before I go with Plan B – I want to know what Plan A is

Winfred Rodgers says "Enhancing you rod will be the best gift for her for St. Valentines".

Well first off Winifred, we have to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas before we talk about St. Valentines day. And then I realize that some guys may figure big shlongs = romance – but that’s why you guys are from Mars. Take it from a her – if you have the money, jewellery would work much better.

Traci Ackerman says “Life is so much easier when you have more inches”

Sure Traci, sure – rub it in!! Every time I’m at the grocery store and my 5 foot, 2 inch tall body is wanting something on the top shelf and I have a choice of either trying to climb up like a monkey or wait until someone taller comes along – I think that. Or when the milk hasn’t been restocked and the kind I want is at the back of the refrigerator unit so I settle for skim milk instead, I think the very same thing!

Oh – wait – I bet you don’t mean it like tha-at.

Charles Berg says “you would never have to travel south if you had a bigger shaft”

OK – I’m confused over this one. Why would traveling south have anything to do with mining? Unless maybe they have more gold or silver mines south of here – but how far south must one go?

Annika Criscuolo says “Become Volunteer”

Now that’s a bit too wide open. Do you mean volunteer to help the underprivileged or to become a human lab rat for all kinds of strange experiments? Or maybe to see what drastic sleep depravation can do – there are just too many possibilities in that open ended suggestion.

Ora Farr says “Enlarging your male tool will be the best revenge for your ex”

OOO-Kay. It sounds like a subtle revenge to me – unless of course you go up to her and drop your pants and let her see the enlargement. But then there’s the risk she might just point and laugh or have you arrested. Because really – how else is your ex going to know you had your male tool enlarged. Unless of course you are talking getting bigger hammer or a shinier saw or sharper awl, in which case I think there are better methods of revenge.

Alyssa Banks says “the endurance and stamina depends on the size as well.”

Oh dear – I hope all those athletes training for the Winter Olympics or all those football players getting ready for the NFL season who are somewhat vertically challenged don’t get this one!!

And now that I’ve had my fun – I can “select all” and “delete”

But before I hit Publish Post - one more funny "spam"

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Highland Rebel Review

Set in a dangerous time of religious and political upheaval and civil war, HIGHLAND REBEL tells the story of Catherine Drummond and Jamie Sinclair, two proud and lonely outcasts whose struggle for acceptance and survival draws them together in a partnership based on mutual interest that will transform them both. In so doing it transports the reader to Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, the court of King James II, and the coffee houses, backstreets and taverns of seventeenth century London, while chronicling the brief reign of England’s last Stuart king.

Born in the waning days of Cromwell’s England, despised as a bastard by his Puritan father, and abandoned by his mother, James Sinclair has learned from an early age to fend for himself. Charming, dangerous, and decidedly amoral, his quick wit, good looks and military prowess have served him well in the courts of two Stuart Kings, the grudgingly Protestant Charles II and the openly Catholic King James. Adventurer, courtier, mercenary and spy, he’s a master of disguise who can transform from aristocrat to beggar and disappear in any crowd. Sent to mind a troop of foreign mercenaries, he looks forward to completing his mission and collecting his reward, and when an inconvenient spark of gallantry and his own perverse humor cause him to marry a maid captured on the battlefield he intends the marriage to be in name only.

Raised in the Scottish Highlands, heiress to a title, a fortune founded on the whiskey trade, and properties in Scotland and in France, Cat Drummond is far from the camp follower Jamie mistakes her for. Fiercely loyal to family, clan and king, she’s born to rule, trained on the field of battle and at the court of Versailles, and equally comfortable in men’s breeches or a gown. Disguised as beggars on the streets of London, or glittering amongst the courtiers of Whitehall Palace, Catherine and Jamie will join forces in an age where treachery and adultery are the fashion, and cynicism, cruelty and barbed wit are the qualities most admired. But in a world where family, creed, and princes can’t be trusted, and faith fuels intolerance, hatred, and war, they’ll soon find themselves on opposite sides of a growing conflict that will force them to question everything they know, and test the bounds of friendship, loyalty and love.

Review: I'm doing this in a different style this time 'cause I want it to stand up and be noticed.

First off, anyone expecting this to be the kind of romance one is used to may be disappointed. Highland Rebel is different. Way back when I started reading, they didn't have the same kind of romance they do now. I grew up reading Daphne Du Maurier's King's General and Frenchman's Creek, Raphael Sabatini's Captain Blood and The Black Sway, Anya Seton's Katherine and Green Darkness as well as most of Mary Stewart and Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

I loved these books; their sense of adventure, their all encompasing stories and wiled away many an hour reading and rereading over and over again. But as much as I loved them, there was something missing. Although they are all very romantic, there just wasn't enough romance, even though they were romance. They have stayed with me for years

And then the romance genre in it's present form came into being and I love it. But I really miss those sweeping sagas I used to read; the 'swashbucklingness' of many of the romances of yesteryear; the real sense of the times that is often missing in historical romances of today. There are very few historicals I read anymore that make me want to look further into the history of the times they were written in. I used to do that all the time in my beginning romance days.

And then I read Highland Rebel and it is an incredible hybrid of both. Ms. James has created a story and time that is vivid in it's richness. Very seldom anymore am I pulled so deep into a different time. Highland Rebel is a sweeping epic that takes the readers from the Highlands of Scotland to the court of James II to the island of Ireland. The research is amazing and the author incorporates into the story of Catherine Drummond and Jamie Sinclair is a seemless and amazing way.

Along with the wonderful setting, the characters of Cat and Jamie are so richly and lovingly created. We meet them both after a battle. Cat has been captured and Jamie decides on a lark to save her life by claiming her with marriage but she escapes shortly after that. Jamie follows and is captured by her clansmen. You see Cat just isn't any ordinary woman of the highlands. She has been raised to be the new clan leader. Intelligent, shrewd, beautiful, strong, she is a wonderful heroine; the kind you don't often seen in historicals - a person in her own right and not just the daughter of her father or the love interest of the hero. When I noticed that Wendy was also reading Highland Rebel, I emailed her, knowing that she's all about the strong heroine, but she wasn't far enough into it to offer an opinion. Athough, she did keep it with her when the late summer fires of California struck. She did the same thing with Broken Wing last year.

And Jamie - what a truly fascinating character he is. Although he grew up abused by his father and deserted by his mother, he has retained a joie de vivre that makes him totally irresistable.

After Catherine escapes, Jamie takes off after her as he really doesn't want to remain married. He's lived a life of genteel poverty and King James has a bride that will help him out of his 'situation'. But things don't go as he planned.

The book follows the story of Jamie and Cat as they bicker and plan to divorce each other - at their own convenience. Wem the readers, see early on that these two are perfect for each other, but it takes them, especially Jamie, much longer to see the thing that is the very best for him is right in front of him. We see them develop a deep and enduring friendship. Catherine is frustrated once she gets to England with the restrictions put on her because of her sex, but Jamie makes her his boon companion and shows her a side of life she never would have know. He recognizes and respects her for the person she truly is and in return, Cat becomes his best friend, someone who has his back, even literaly in one scene. She stands by him when all others abandon him. She rescues him and rather than being resentful, he appreciates all that she is.

I've been holding off a bit on writing this review as I don't want anyone to be turned away from the lack of romance between them for a good part of the book. Don't get me wrong; there is definitely attraction and feeling, on both sides, but they don't really act on them until later. But when they do, because the attraction and the friendship has been building all along, because of the level of trust, the love scenes are truly wonderful and a superb payoff.

I don't know if this book will be for everyone. If you like romance on the lighter side, this one may be a bit intense. It took me a bit longer than it usually does to read a book because it's so rich and lucsious it's best enjoyed in smaller bites so that you can savour it slowly rather than rush and miss the taste of it.

Both Jamie and Cat are completely different characters from Gabriel and Sarah of Broken Wing and I'm amazed that Ms, James has managed to write such a completely different story the second time around.

While Highland Rebel didn't have the same kind of visceral affect on me that Broken Wing did, I enjoyed it; I enjoyed it very, very much. It was like the best of the books I used to read all those years ago with all the romance that was missing.

This one gets a 5 out of 5 from me. Even though I'm finished, I still find myself thinking of it, remembering parts and it's one I know I will read again.

And because I believe so much in this book; and for those who want a taste of the kind of books they haven't read, or those readers who did read them and want that feeling again, I have a copy to giveaway. if you leave a comment letting me know why you want to read this one - you are entered!!

And unlike the other two I have to give away, this give away is open to anyone - anywhere!! The winner for this one will be announced on Sunday evening - to celebrate that I have Monday off


Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A Very Special Guest Today - and A Giveaway!

Anyone who has read this blog for the last little while knows how much Judith’s first novel, Broken Wing, rocked my reading world. After reading it, I went to rather unusual measures to let other readers know about this incredible book that zoomed to the top of my all time favourite book list; the book that I read five times in a row before I could bear to leave it and move on to another book.

The people of Source books, hearing about how I reacted to her first book, sent me, as well as others, ARC,s of her second book, Highland Rebel. This was a while ago and at this point I have a confession to make. I was so enthralled with the love story of Gabriel and Sarah and so moved by Broken Wing, I was nervous to take up reading Highland Rebel, afraid I wouldn’t like it as much or almost afraid I would. I mean – it took me five rereads to get past Broken Wing. I know – it makes no sense does it?

But with the release of Highland Rebel fast approaching and having Judith visit Ramblings once again, I knew I’d better get to it!!

I admit now that I was very foolish in my worry and my review will be coming up soon, but in the meantime, please join me in welcoming Judith James, an author who can write like nobodies business!

And to celebrate the release of Highland Rebel - TODAY - there is also a give away. There are two books up to win, which means two lucky winners!! Just comment on either this post or the review post and you are eligible. This giveaway in only open to US or Canadian residents.

(note I say this one *g* 'cause I like to put my money were my mouth is - so don't worry)

You may have noticed I don't have very many author interviews here at Ramblings. In fact I think the last one I did was with Judith. But when Source books contacted me to see if I would be interested in having Judith drop by, I said yes with alacrity!

I came up with some questions I was wondering about and Judith was kind enough to answer them for me.


Highland Rebel is set in a very unusual time period, one I’ve never come across in a romance before. How did you come to choose this time period?

I came across a first edition (1680) of bishop and historian Gilbert Burnett’s account of the Earl of Rochester’s recounting of his life while on this death bed, which Burnett attended. I started researching the Restoration for a possible story based on that character, and I fell madly in love with the time period, which I have always been interested in since reading Antonia Stuart’s biography of Charles II several years ago. I know many people prefer the Regency period, but the neglect of the Restoration puzzles me as there was so much going on with politics, religion, philosophy, and thought, including the beginning of the Jacobite movement that is a central theme in so many Highland and Scottish historicals and romances. Cromwell’s regime was a repressive one. Much loved entertainments including gambling, theatre, dancing and even celebrations such as Christmas, were outlawed, and church attendance made mandatory. The Restoration of Charles II, an informal and easy going womaniser dubbed the Merry Monarch, resulted in a kind of social rebellion against the last ten years that reminds me somewhat of the 1960s. The Restoration court was filled with a host of colourful characters and was one of the most bawdy, hedonistic, and lively courts in history. In terms of an explosion in theatre, literature and science it rivalled the Elizabethan period. Women had more freedom during this period than they would for many years to come and there is so much room to develop characters and so much interesting material. Rochester's real life story was just too dark, he died at age 33, but it led me to Cat and Jamie's story which I fell in love with and it pretty much wrote itself. I am working on a story now called Libertines Kiss that features a character inspired by Rochester (but with a happy ending) so I will be spending much of my time in the 17th century over the next little while and right now there’s no place I’d rather be.

One of the side benefits I used to get from reading historical romance books years ago, was learning little know historical facts. I miss that in many of today’s historical romances. Do you like to bring something new to your readers through your stories and research?

Well in retrospect I do, but too be honest it’s more a selfish thing rather than a purposeful intent. I keep finding little gems that delight me, so where appropriate I embed them in the story. Sometimes they seem like gifts that just fell in my lap, like the story of Willie MacBean at Killiecrankie. People who read the book should be able to guess who he was without reading the afterword. Sometimes they move the story in a different direction; like a signpost saying turn here. In all cases they help anchor me in the story, the time and the place, and if my characters can interact with them, for me it adds a level of authenticity that helps me tell the story. That being said, I suppose I am a bit of a trivia buff and do love to share what I think are interesting or fun facts, even if they don’t make it into the story, so I’m going to share just one. During the English Civil War swearing was one of the characteristic that marked opposing sides. Puritans were notably against taking the Lord’s name in vain, while the Cavaliers got in the habit of doing it. The historian Sir Edward Peyton wrote in 1652 “The courtiers garnished their mouths with God-dammes, as if they desired Damnation rather than Salvation.” The cavaliers got the nickname “The God-dam-me Cavaliers” and in later centuries the French called English soldiers the “God dammes” because of this notorious habit.

While both had a tragic upbringing, Jamie Sinclair has a certain “je ne sais quoi” and couldn’t be more different then Gabriel St. Croix in terms of a hero. Did you write an opposite hero on purpose?

That’s a good question! I suppose in some ways I did. For one thing I didn’t want to repeat the same story using different names and places, but it was more than that. In part, Gabriel and Jamie told me their stories, so if feels to me like they were characters I met rather than made up. They both had difficult childhoods, but Jamie’s was a lot less restrictive and he had people who showed him affection, even if it was serving maids and cooks. As long as he stayed out of the way he had a lot of freedom, and that gave him experiences that built confidence. Gabriel didn’t have those opportunities and though I know it annoyed many people, to be true to the character it was something he had to go out and experience for himself. Jamie’s life shaped him in a different way, making him careful, distant and self contained with emotions, but not really self doubting; in part because he had more escapes, but also due to his personality. He was blessed with a cynical sense of humour that saw him through a lot, but in fairness to Gabriel, you have to be able to step back and see from a distance to find humour, and his early life did not allow at all for that. I hope every hero I write will be different, and every heroine too, but it would be safe to say that I enjoyed spending time with Jamie and his sense of humour after all he intensity that was Gabriel.

Although there is an attraction in both Broken Wing and Highland Rebel, there is a real friendship between the hero and heroine before the romance becomes ‘physical’. I really like this as it makes for a much more believable HEA. What are your thoughts?

Yes absolutely. You’ve put a finger on something that seems to be a theme in all my stories. My characters become very real to me as I write them. I suppose you could say my stories are character driven. They are somewhat damaged by life. Tortured, dark, whatever you might call it. It’s just not real or true to the characters that they could be in a happy relationship after a few spats and some hot sex. In fact, sex too soon might have spoiled things, as is often the case in life. I know this may annoy some readers who are looking for a quick romantic fix with lots of sex from page one, and my books are probably not for them. It’s a great fantasy, one I enjoy too, but my heroes know lust and sex, they are intimate with it, and that’s how they know and relate to women. It’s acceptable to them, familiar territory, and nothing to change themselves or their lives over. The woman who gives in to them just joins one of many. It’s friendship with women they are unfamiliar with, and in large part this seems to have been fairly true to the times. They distrust, and are afraid and uncomfortable with female friendship for good reason. It’s intimate in a way that sex isn’t. It means sharing thoughts and “horrors” feelings. They have few defences and it’s how they get caught. You are easy with your friends, perhaps from the moment you meet, perhaps it grows over time, but a best friend is someone you know and trust and can share your deepest thoughts and secrets with. You like your friends.

I don’t believe you can have true love without friendship, liking, and trust. I think sometimes the heart pounding attraction certain people give us is often mistaken for love but that’s really just chemistry and lust; and it doesn’t tend to last very long and is no basis for a long tern relationship. When you have friendship combined with all the chemistry, then you might just find that wonderful last a lifetime love. Romantic love to me is genuine friendship, liking and respect combined with sublime chemistry. Best friends who’ve seen each other through things as friends have had to trust and learn to understand each other. They are in a way like comrades in arms, soldiers who’ve fought together. They’ve shared things no one else could understand and it binds them in a way that can never be broken. I think the fantasy of a great, once in a lifetime love can be real, when you follow that road, and those are they kind of stories I like to tell.

I know that Johnny Depp from The Libertine was your ‘model’ for Gabriel St. Croix, did you have anyone in mind for Jamie Sinclair?

Actually, no I didn’t. Gabriel, though I don’t think anyone noticed, was actually a twist on beauty and the beast. He was “cursed” in a way if you like, by beauty. His looks were the cause of a great deal of pain and distress, to the point he pretty much hated himself. Despite outward appearances, inside Gabe felt really ugly, and believed he was something of a beast. Sarah helped him realize he was beautiful, in the way we all want to be, the way that’s still there when you’re old. He had to be a beautiful man, capable of appearing both masculine and androgynous, Johnny came immediately to mind. Jamie was very different. He came to me in a day dream, first in a blur of dialogue, and was someone I had never met or visualized before. He’s older, handsome rather than beautiful, and a bit more rugged and dangerous looking, though his charm and humour come through when he smiles. I went backwards for this question, and tried to find a character that resembled Jamie in my mind, which was great fun. I’ve include the closest I could fine for you. One looks a bit like Jamie when he and Cat first met; without the cigarette of course, and one when he’s in a good mood and being his charming self.

How fun was Jamie to write?

Oh Jamie was a blast. He’s a funny guy with a great, if somewhat cynical sense of humour, he genuinely likes and appreciates smart strong women, he tells great stories, and he’s charming, and not at all bad to look at. He enjoys life and takes pleasure from it whenever he can and he’s also a great guy to have your back in a tough situation. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute I spent with him.

While I adore Sarah and thought her a wonderful match for Gabriel, Cat is a different kind of heroine for Jamie. How do you compare the relationship between Jamie and Cat against Sarah and Gabriel?

Well I describe Cat and Jamie somewhere as in many ways polar opposites, in all ways equal; and more alike than either of them realizes. They both have their own agenda, and although there’s an immediate attraction, neither of them is prepared to give up what they think they want to act on it. Nevertheless they like and respect each other, share a similar goal which is ironically, independence, and have to work together to win it. Jamie is older and he’s pretty much seen it all. He has no interest in proving anything to anyone. He has a conscience and his own values, but he’s pretty cynical and even his humour tends to distance him from the things that might hurt him. He figures nothing can surprise him. He’s got it all figured out. Cat Drummond is totally unexpected and turns his life upside down. He loves novelty and at first she doesn’t bore him. He’s learned to be wary and relies on deception, and her straight talk is a bit alarming. Catherine is used to men, though not in a sexual sense. She’s not sure what’s under the mask, but she knows he’s wearing one. She’s practical, not romantic, so she judges Jamie by what he does, not what he says. She’s also a little defensive, and from being raised with rough men, rather assertive. She’s quick to smack Jamie upside the head(which I grant he needed at times), but if Sarah had ever done that to Gabriel he would have been out the door and gone for good.

Gabriel hadn’t really had a chance to live his life. He had thing he needed to learn. He needed to test himself and gain his confidence, and he needed someone who could love and accept him unconditionally, because there was a lot to accept. In many ways he and Sarah were much alike; sensitive, romantic, and idealistic. Jamie and Cat needed to help each other. Gabriel needed to be healed. Sarah had spent years worried about her little brother. Finding him was her main focus. Her gratitude to Gabriel for protecting him made helping him her main focus once her brother was found. It didn’t matter how he screwed up, or what he did, she was always going to be there for him because of that, even if they had never fallen in love. I know some people felt she forgave him too easily, but my stories are character driven. Sarah owed Gabriel a debt of gratitude, their friendship ran deep, ands he knew him better than he knew himself. There was no way she would ever turn her back on him, abandon him or punish him, and that kind of patience and understanding, that unconditional acceptance and love, was exactly what Gabriel needed. I don’t think a man with his history could have found a happy ending with anyone but Sarah, just as Jamie could not have found his without Cat Drummond.

The ending of Highland Rebel seems a bit open ended (but I Very Quickly add that there IS an HEA for those who just read that). Do you have a sequel in mind for Jamie and Catherine?

I wouldn’t say I have one planned. Right now I’m working on a darker Restoration era story called Libertine’s Kiss that takes place about 35 years before Highland Rebel, but I’ve certainly played with the idea for sequels to both Highland Rebel and Broken Wing. I might run a contest to see which BW character folks who read that book would like to read about next. As for Jamie and Catherine, those who read the book will understand why a sequel would likely begin in France. I suspect Jamie will not be able to leave well enough alone, and would get involved using his skills in the very dangerous business of spiriting Huguenots out of France, as something of a post restoration Scarlet Pimpernel perhaps, with the help of a fellow he meet in Dublin, putting him in hot water with yet another king. If he’s lucky Catherine might use what he taught her to come to his aid. On the other hand, they might just settle down, have a child or two, and switch from making whisky to making love and wine :)

Your books are so rich in detail that you almost feel that you are there. How much research goes into one of your stories and how long do they take to write?

Broken Wing took a while, probably a good four months in research alone and another 10 to write. The period was new to me and I had to branch out to cover tall ships, sailing, the Mediterranean and North Africa, slavery, Paris, gambling etc; Highland rebel was faster, about 8 months from start to finish research included. I was somewhat familiar with the period. I had read Antonia Frazer's works before, and I learned from NANOWRIMO to pencil in things like (look up 17th century Irish castles and layouts) and keep going forward with the story in stead of stopping. Then I could go back and fill them in when the muse was sulking. I did collect some great books on houses, fashion, social history, seafaring etc. as I went; as well as some diaries and biographies. I would say I have a pretty good research library now, I have learned my way around the local library, and I have bookmarked useful research sites on the internet. I’ve become more efficient over time at both research and writing so I’d say that I’ve gone from eight months to a year to write a book, to five to six months. I’m working on something else in the 17th century now, so I already have lots of materials and a better background and it will be much easier, though there’s always something new to learn. It would be the same were I to return to the Georgian period to revisit friends from Broke Wing or do a sequel to Highland Rebel.

I'd like to thank Judith for her wonderful and thoughtful answers and hopefully she will drop by to answer any other questions that you might have that I didn't think of.

I read and finished Highland Rebel and will have my review up very shortly. All I'm going to say at the moment though is I thought it very good book - a very VERY good book.


Upon reading this and doing what I don't do enough of - editing - I realized that I wasn't clear. The giveaway is TWO copies of Highland Rebel - not a copy of Broken Wing and/or Highland Rebel.

And D'oh - as Cecile pointed out - I didn't put a day the giveaway ends! The giveaway will end Sunday night.