Friday, February 27, 2015

Top Ten with Kemberlee Shortland

Top Ten Favorite Places to Visit While Writing This Book

Thanks, Dawn, for inviting me here today so I can talk about my latest erotica romance novella, One Night in Dublin. This is book 9 in the City Nights series from Tirgearr Publishing. Each book is set in a major city around the world, and I chose Dublin, Ireland.

I’ve never really been a city person, but after living in Ireland for so long and visiting Dublin many times, it’s a city that has grown near and dear to my heart. So much to offer in such a compact place. And the history! Especially the Viking history of the city, which plays an important part in my story.

In no particular order, these are my Top Ten Viking Places in Ireland:

Number 1: The National Museum of Archaeology – This museum is located on Kildare Street in city center, just off St Stephen’s Green. This museum is archaeology building of the National Museum, and stores and displays some of the oldest artifacts in the country: from the Treasury to the gold hoard; from prehistoric Ireland to life in medieval Ireland; from kings and kingdoms to bog mummies; and my favorite . . . the Viking Room. The Viking Room is complete with gold and silver from the Viking Era of Ireland which includes the famous Tara Brooch and the Ardagh Chalice. Artifacts here include everything from drop spindles for making yarn for weaving, to hair combs, to cloak pins, as well as warfare weaponry. There’s a great collection of swords. But the greatest artifact is the life-size full skeletal remains of a Norseman who was found with his sword, shield, and other personal items.

Number 2: The National Gallery of Ireland — The gallery is behind the National Museum and houses some of the most important paintings in Irish history, including my two favorites:

Meeting on the Turret Stairs by Sir Frederick Burton — This painting is done in what’s known today as gouache—a type of opaque watercolor paint—and based on a Danish balled called Hellelil and Hildebrand. As the story goes, Hildebrand was an English knight, one of twelve knights in the service of the Danish king. Hildebrand fell in love with the king’s daughter, Hellelil. The painting shows forbidden love. Delicately touching as they pass on the stairs, neither looking at the other, but the fallen feathers signify that Hildebrand has taken Hellelil’s virtue.

The Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow by Daniel Maclise (c. 1854) — Aoife, or Eve in Irish, was the only daughter of the Leinster King, Art MacMurrough. Strongbow was the nickname given to the Norman nobleman, Richard de Clare, for his skill with a longbow. MacMurrough appealed to English king, Henry II, for aid to help quell local troublemakers who were being aided by Vikings from Dublin, trying to unseat MacMurough from his seat of power as a provincial king. de Clare’s was asked to go to Ireland, but under his terms — he wanted Aoife’s hand in marriage! This painting depicts the end of the battle at Ferns, the provincial seat, where Strongbow and Aoife are married before the smoldering ruins of the church. The detail is incredibly amazing, with hidden images and meanings. Not only that, but this is the largest canvas painting in Ireland, and probably the world, measuring approximately 12 feet by 18 feet in diameter!

Number 3: Christ Church Cathedral — This church dates back to a founding in 1030AD, but was originally built as a timber church for the Viking settlement at Wood Quay. A short time after de Clare marries Aoife, her father, the king, dies and de Clare is made king of Leinster. At least temporarily, until Aoife’s uncle could arrive to take his rightful seat. During de Clare’s temporary reign, he and Father Laurence O’Toole, archbishop of Dublin, saw the timber church razed and a stone cathedral raised in its place. Today, the church has the largest open crypt in Europe and now houses the church’s gold collection. In medieval times, the church rented space in the crypt to marketers. Shoppers could get out of the Irish weather to do their shopping and trading. There is an effigy to de Clare in the main church. Fr O’Toole has since been made a saint, and until recently when it was stolen in broad daylight, his heart relic hung in a hand carved timber heart shaped casket on the wall at the back of the church.

Number 4: City Wall at Cook Street — A short distance from Christ Church is the last remaining piece of the old city walls that once surrounded Dublin City. City walls are an important part of any city’s history, more so than just for defensive purposes. At the time, it was believed that lawlessness existed outside city walls. Before the stone wall was built around Dublin City, stakes, or pales, defined the greater city limits. Beyond that region, lawlessness was rampant, where people lived beyond the law and acceptable behavior. This gave way to the phrase ‘beyond the pale’. Over time, castles were put up at outposts and stone walls eventually went up in medieval times to get rid of the outdated pales. This section of wall is the last remaining part of the city’s medieval defenses which includes an attractive gate.

Number 5: The Wood Quay and Excavation Site — While no longer visible, I had the privilege to witness some of this massive excavation that went on in the largest and longest archaeological excavation in Ireland (1974-1999/2000). This was the largest Viking settlement in Ireland, though not the oldest, and is the heart of the old Dublin City . . . to say, this was the original city center, called Dubhlin, the Black Pool, which got it’s name for the river which now runs beneath the modern city. Ship building on the shore was the main occupation, using timber from the forest which skirted the city at the time. Many homes and other buildings were discovered during excavation, and thousands of artifacts uncovered. A small disused church (#8) across the road from the dig site was converted into a laboratory/museum where visitors could watch professionals at work, cleaning and cataloging the discovered pieces. The finds have now been moved to the National Museum of Archaeology (#1). The name Wood Quay was applied in medieval times as the city saw its first massive expansion; the name was given for the timber boatworks there.

Number 6: Dublinia and The Viking Experience — This is housed in Synod Hall beside Christ Church Cathredral (#3). The museum and many of it’s displays set up at Wood Quay were moved to the Dublinia exhibit, others to the National Museum of Archaeology (#1), as above. Both tell the history of Dublin, starting from the Viking settlement through Norman/medieval times. Visitors walk through many interesting lifelike displays with full size costumed characters. Kind of like being there with sights, sounds, and smells of the day.

Number 7: Clontarf Strand — Technically, the strand is a manmade creation. Back in 1014, this part of north Dublin City was marsh with the sea beyond. It was on Good Friday, 23 April 1014, one of Ireland’s biggest and most famous battles was waged — The Battle of Clontarf. It’s up for interpretation why the battle was wages, but Ireland’s most famous Ard Rí, High King, Brian Boru went to war with Norseman, Sigtrygg (Sitric) Silkbeard, king of Dublin. Brian had spent much of his life battling with Vikings in Ireland, and it was on this day that Boru’s forces fought a long battle against this Norse king to force the Vikings from Irish shores, once and for all. The interesting part of this is that Sigtrygg’s mother was Gormflaith who was once married to Brian Boru, though not his father. Boru had a falling out with Gormflaith who returned to her son’s side for the battle. It’s estimated Boru was about 72 years of age so unfit for battle, but he had his tent set up on a hillside overlooking the battle. His forces were victorious, though he lost all but one son in the skirmish. But there was a traitor in their midst . . . Brodir from the Isle of Man. He came to Boru in his tent after the Vikings lost the battle, and after a short argument, Brodir struck Boru in the head with his Viking axe, killing Boru. Vikings did remain in Ireland after that time, but their hold on the country was severely weakened. Ireland was a relatively peaceful place from 1014 to 1169 when the Normans came. But that’s another story (#2, Marriage of Aoife and Strongbow).

Number 8: Smock Alley Theatre — While not part of Viking history, Smock Alley Theatre is not only mentioned in my book, but also plays an interesting role in Dublin’s history. It was built in 1662 and was the city’s first theater and ran for 150 years before it was consecrated to Saints Michael and John. When the bells first rang in 1811, this marked the opening of the first Catholic church in Ireland in nearly 300 years. This was monumental, as Catholic emancipation wasn’t to happen for another eighteen years. During a major refurbishment in the 1970s that archaeologists discovered the original theater foundations, and a previously-unknown cellar. Among the over two hundred artifacts uncovered was a 17th century wig curler that would have been used by the actors. The theater faces Wood Quay, with the back to the excavation area described in #5. This was the building used to house the discoveries from the excavation. Not quite Viking history itself, but played a role in helping preserve Dublin’s Viking history.

Number 9: Four Courts — Certainly not anything to do with Vikings in Ireland but is in my book, the Four Courts is Ireland’s national court house. It’s situated across the River Liffey from Wood Quay. This building played a vital role in another part of Ireland’s history, the War for Independence in 1922. This war proceeded the Uprising of 1916, aka the Easter Rising, a time when Irish forces rose up against British occupation. Two key players in the Uprising were Éamon de Valera (an Irish-American born to Irish parents, leader of the rebel party who later became president) and Michael Collins (leader of the military arm of the party). It was after Collins was forced to England by de Valera, to accept terms of settlement which gave rebels only twenty-six of thirty-two counties, that Collins and de Valera fell out. de Valera knew Ireland would only get twenty-six counties so rather than admit defeat, he sent Collins to England to take the fall. Collins was summarily hailed a failure in the negotiations, and realizing that his friend had sold him out, split the party and they began fighting amongst themselves rather than the British. There was a standoff in many parts of the city, but here at the Four Courts, like at the GPO (General Post Office) on O’Connell Street and other locations, visitors today can still see the thousands of bullet holes in the façade and columns gracing the front portico.

Number 10: Collins Barracks, Asgard, and Croppies Acre — These places are beside each other and the last point of interest in my story. The barracks was originally called the Royal Barracks but the name was changed after the War for Independence when the south became an official Free State; the name given in honor of Michael Collins. It’s widely assumed that de Valera had ordered the murder of Collins earlier in 1922 when he was visiting his home county of Cork. As a sign of good faith, de Valera named the barracks after his old ‘friend’. As a military barracks, it has seen much history, but in modern times it has become another of the National Museums. Where the Kildare Street museum is dedicated to the oldest of the old, Collins Barracks is dedicated to modern history, from 1600 forward, including costume displays, and exhibitions on interior design, international costume, and a wing dedicated to the 1916 Uprising and War for Independence.

The Asgard is a yacht built around 1904 and had been owned by Anglo Irish writer, Erskine Childers. In 1916, the Asgard was used for gun-running between Germany and Ireland but eventually went into long-term dry dock in Wales until it was sold in 1928. It was eventually acquired by the Irish State and refurbished and now on display in the old gym at the barracks.

Croppies Acre looks like any inner city park, located in front of the barracks. However, beneath the green grass is a mass grave with the bodies of executed prisoners from the 1790 Rebellion. The term croppy comes from the cropped hair the rebels wore at the time —the anti-wig/anti-aristocracy movement.

Bonus: The Sea Stallion from Glendalough — I guess to tie in some Viking history with the barracks, I’ll close by adding that some of the largest Viking ships ever discovered was in Denmark. Experts in ancient shipbuilding decided to rebuild the largest of those long ships. During examination, it was determined that the timber came from the Wicklow Mountains, most likely from around Glendalough, meaning the ship was probably built at Wood Quay in old Dubhlkin which was then sailed to Denmark before eventually being scuttled with the other ships. Specialists imported oak from Ireland and rebuilt the ship to original specifications, then sailed the ship to Ireland! It sat in ‘dry dock’ (in the courtyard at Collins Barracks) for nearly a year before sailing back to Denmark where it’s still in the water and being sailed. They called the ship, Havhingsten fra Glendalough, or the Sea Stallion from Glendalough.

Thank you again, Dawn, for asking me to talk about my top ten research sites. It was fun. I hope your readers pick up a copy of One Night in Dublin and share their thoughts after reading.

City Nights, #9
Kemberlee Shortland

Erotic Romance
Tirgearr Publishing


At her mother’s prompting (nagging) about grandchildren, Sive wonders if it really is time to settle down. She’s just finishing college so she should be thinking about her future. But is she ready to settle down? Is she ready for kids? And more importantly, which of the three men she’s been seeing does she want to spend the rest of her life with?

Sive has a choice to make, and only 24 hours in which to make it.



We all make them. From the moment we wake up, it's: “do I get out of bed now or hit the snooze button . . . again?” “shall I wear this outfit to work or that one?” “tea and toast or grab something on the way?”

It's all mundane bullshit. They’re all choices we make on the fly without even realizing we're making them.

Think about it. What choices do you make when you’re not thinking about them? Like going home from work. You get on the train, find a seat and wait for your stop. But when you get there, you wonder how the hell you got there because you don’t remember making the journey.

What I’m trying to say is that we often go on auto-pilot and just do what needs doing without any real thought, because there are usually more pressing things to think about—the important things. Or seemingly so. Like, what movie to see, what restaurant to eat in, where to go on holidays . . . and for some girls, this pair of sensible shoes on sale or another pair not on sale but immensely sexier?

For me, today, my choices aren't so mundane, and they’ll require a lot of conscious thought. I have an important decision to make. One that could change my life forever, pardon the cliché.

They—whoever 'they' are—say there is someone for everyone, that we all have a 'type' of person we're attracted to. I'm still figuring it all out . . . exploring to see what is my type . . . that someone just for me. And it doesn’t help that my mum’s voice is in the back of my head, asking . . . i.e. nagging (yes, I just said i.e.) . . . when I’m going to settle down and give her grandkids.

First, let me say this: I'm not a slut. I'm not loose, I don't carelessly sleep around, and I don't do one-night stands. I just love men and all of their vast differences.

What can I say about my boys that every other woman out there doesn’t already know about men? Charmers, every one of them. But they all give me something I need.

Tonight I need to decide what, or who, I need the most—Fitzy, Moss, or Sully.

Author Bio

Kemberlee is a native Northern Californian who grew up in a community founded by artists and writers, including John Steinbeck, George Sterling, and Jack London.

In 1997, she left the employ of Clint Eastwood to live in Ireland for six months. It was there she met the man she would marry, and relocated to live in Ireland permanently. While always writing, Kemberlee earned her keep as a travel consultant and writing travel articles about Ireland. In 2005, she saw her first romance sell, and to date, she has eight published romances. And in 2012, she and her husband launched Tirgearr Publishing.

Kemberlee enjoys spending time with her two rescued Border Collies, also knitting, gardening, photography, music, travel, and tacos!

Kemberlee enjoys hearing from her readers, so please feel free to visit her on her social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Kemberlee’s books can be found at:
as well as all major ebook retailers (Kindle, Apple, Nook, Kobo, etc)

Blog Tour Post and Giveaway for On the Money

Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post for a chance for $25 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn winner and a $25 Amazon or B&N gift card to a randomly drawn host. NBtM Tour sponsered by Goddess Fish. Find the complete tour stops HERE

Now let's talk with author Tariq Saleim....

So tell us about your latest or upcoming release. What is this gem about?

My next release is a political thriller which is set in year 2100AD. It talks about a world that is united, peaceful and prosperous – but only on the outside.

How often does your muse distract you from day to day minutiae?

I write either very early in the morning, that is, before sunrise or very late at night. This way I am able to write without distractions. I have the ability to write when I want and do not have to wait for a special moment or mood. This is very helpful otherwise I am not sure how I would be able to write anything. I have a full day job, two teenage kids, wife, friends, extended family etcetera and they take up most of my time of the day. So far, my writing is limited only to little time that I am able to steal from my busy routine. One day, when I am no longer working full time, and kids have moved on with their respective lives, I will turn into a writing machine. There are so many things I want to write about, but today there is very little time. 

What do readers have to look forward to in the future from you?

My third book is a political thriller, as stated above. I have finished writing the manuscript and it is being edited. I have also started working on my fourth book which is a romantic comedy.

Writer’s block—real or hype?

For me, it is hype. I am able to write whenever I have time. With my busy life style, if I let myself get hit by writer’s block, I will not be able to write anything. There are days when I do not write as well as I wish to, however, I still write. Manuscripts can be improved while editing, but if you have written nothing then you cannot improve anything.

Do you prefer to extensively plot your stories, or do you write them as they come to you

I plot my stories. I do not like to write without plot. As I write, minor adjustments are made, however, overall plot holds.

Do you have a favorite genre? Is it the same genre you prefer to write?

I do not have a favorite genre. I just love to write. My first book, ‘A Chronicle of Amends’ was on spirituality. My second book, ‘On the Money’ talks about success and what it costs to be successful. My third and upcoming book is a political thriller. My fourth book will be a romantic comedy. After my fourth book, I am thinking of writing a novel on banking crimes.

What advantages or challenges does a writer in your genre face in today’s fiction market?

For any book to sell and be commercially successful, writer needs to actively market it. When an author is published by a traditional publishing company, they take care of the marketing bit. However, for an Indie author like me, marketing and promotion is a big challenge. Given my day job and other commitments, I have very limited time and I use this time to write, edit and publish. This comes at the cost of marketing efforts, which I believe is the greatest challenge to any Indie author.

How long did it take you to get your rough draft finished on your latest release?

‘On the Money’ took me a year and a half to finish. It is a big book and discusses several concepts some of which are decently controversial. I am glad that I was able to cover so much in this little a time.

If you could be any paranormal creature what would you be?

I would be someone who is extremely intelligent and understands everything about everything. I do not know of any such character, but if I ever want to be one then this would be my choice. I want to know all there is to know in this world and beyond. Knowledge was and will always be the most important skill set one can acquire.

Is there anything you will never write about?

I will never write erotica and religiously or culturally insensitive material.

Do you have a favorite quote from your book(s)?

My second book starts with this quote – ‘If hard work was enough donkeys would be rich’. I love this quote as it aptly explains where most of us go wrong in pursuit of success – we work too hard. Success needs more; hard work is just one ingredient.

Is there anything you would tell aspiring writers?

Just write and do not worry about commercial success. A lot of artists, writers, musicians etcetera would have gotten nowhere in life had they stopped producing their work because of lack of initial success. If your work is good it will eventually see success. Stay your course and you will eventually get there.

Now how about a taste of On The Money.....

Everything in life comes at the cost of something else. The more you have of something, the more you have to let go of something else, and this applies to money, too. There is no exception to this, and therefore it is important to know the true cost of your achievements. The more money you accumulate, the less you have of something else (often health, time, relationships, dignity, respect, etc.). Most of us are not able to fathom these costs up front, and when we finally understand, it is usually too late.

A banker by profession, Tariq Saleim has been the confidant of many successful individuals across his international career. He is a believer that true happiness comes from knowing what you want in life -and what you are willing to sacrifice to get it. 'On the money' is his first romantic novel that discusses time-tested moneymaking concepts and reflects on the hidden costs of our decisions in the process.


She was intrigued by her visitor, who had not bothered to call and then decided to wait. Slowly she walked toward the hall, and then she saw him. He was seated on the sofa facing the hallway, looking haggard and tired. His suitcase was next to him. He looked up as soon as he heard her footsteps and stood up to welcome her.

She quickly walked to him, and before he could say a word, she slapped him hard on his face.

“This is for not replying to my calls and messages,” she said furiously.

He did not say a word. Instead, he took her face in his hands and kissed her lips. Half-heartedly she tried to free herself from his grip and then pretended she could not. As she kissed him back, he released her face and embraced her in his arms.

“I thought I would deliver my message in person,” he replied lovingly, his lips still on hers.

“What took you so long?” she questioned, breathing heavily, struggling to talk and kiss at the same time.

“I had to be set free before I could,” he replied quickly, also breathing heavily now.

“And you are free now?” she questioned, holding her lips to his.

He pushed her back gently so that he could say his next words in no uncertain terms.

“I have paid for my commitments through my blood and sweat. There are no more commitments today. There is only love, there is only you, and nothing else matters.”

She looked into his eyes affectionately and said, “You are not going to disappear tomorrow?”

“Never again, my love; never again,” he replied with a smile.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Tariq Saleim was born in Lahore, Pakistan, in 1972 and currently resides in Singapore. He is a banker by profession and has been associated with the industry for over two decades. He is a law graduate and also holds an MBA in finance. His first book, A Chronicle of Amends, was published in 2013 and received encouraging reviews from critics and fans. His second book, On the Money, discusses time-tested moneymaking concepts and reflects on the hidden costs of our decisions in the process.


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Thursday, February 26, 2015


 There is something about evil that draws me into its labyrinth of dark heinousness. There is mystery in the pain of it, there is temptation in the promise of decadent pleasure, there is that longing to surrender without thought or restrain to the unknown and sometimes to the very well known, things one dappled with and found irresistibly wondrous. There it is, my secret. I adore evil. To clarify, I adore writing about it. I have a healthy respect for the muse and movement of it in the undercurrent and the potency it provides a story.

Plotinus in 200 AD wrote, "To deny evil a place among realities is necessarily to deny a way with the good as well." I am certain you often heard that evil cannot exist without good. For certain how can white exist without the contrast of black. The clench and chills of the reader is heightened when there are sharp defined lines between an honorable character facing a foe of a merciless horrendous nature. Though we might surrender to providing a singular redeeming quality to a foe, it is often over-shadowed by their true fully-unredeemable evil.

Yet, what does one do when faced with multiple evils. There are times a hero/shero must make a choice and according to Thomas à Kempis, "Of two evils always choose the lesser." As a writer with the power, we say bull-bleep that, destroy both, or maybe allow one to decimate the other. There are infinite options that makes our job utterly delightful.

Sometimes, though, as I or we joyfully enter the mind of the monster, as I tweak and twitter among his/her psychosis, maniacal obsessions and infinite delusions, I feel like a co-conspirator, for to quote Martin Luther King, Jr. "To ignore evil is to become an accomplice to it." And, in the sense of the literary voyeurs that is exactly what we are doing. We are allowing it to thrive and grow, to play with the good people of that particular universe, torment them, hurt them and all without an ounce of remorse. Is that terribly heinous of us? Does that make us monsters as well? I sometimes wonder what is so twisted inside me that makes this such fun, for in truth, I take to the villain(s) much more easily than Zi does. Should I be concerned for my mental health?

Franz Kafka wrote, "What we call evil is only a necessary moment in our endless development." Hence, the answer. I know the effect evil has on the reader. And I want that terror to dip deeply into their primal fear until every bump and squeak has paralyzed their need to scream, battered pulses to quickening, and have their breaths shorten and raspy. That is how I see my/our writing endeavors when it comes to devising the most beastly of all scoundrels, our work is growing into the perfect piece to scare the beejees out of our readers. So, if it takes Angelica and/or Zi to be a bit evil hungry in the sense of respecting it as a fabulous plot device then so be it.

In reality, we both hate evil, hate the clawing and degenerate nature of its makeup, hate the existence of those that hurt others for hurt's sake or even worse for their own demented pleasure. The truth is that the joy of allowing the monsters their day of victory resides in the outcome of each story. In thawing their evilness, rubbing their self-satisfied smugness into the realization of their inability to succeed, the evidence of their cowardliness and the actuality of their failure is what, we believe, gives the reader the greatest pleasure, and it is they that we so humbly serve.

We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -

Release Day for The Tempting of Thomas Carrick

It's release day for Stephanie Laurens latest addition to the Cynster Family Series.....Check out the interview with the author below and make sure to check this addition to this acclaimed series out. It's a great read!


Thomas and Lucilla are both especially strong and stubborn characters, as so many of your heroes and heroines are. Is there a particular reason for this a) in general, and b) in this particular case?

In the general sense, I’ve always used strong characters because the scale and intensity of emotional clashes between such characters is more powerful, has the potential to be more wide-ranging, and is also likely to strike brighter sparks. A strong character doesn’t give way when someone opposes them or gets in the way of their will and drive—they immediately push back, and that refusal to back away is one of the key elements that leads such a pair of characters deeper and deeper into Cupid’s snare as they are forced to adjust and adapt to each other--a critical element of establishing an emotional partnership.
There’s a general assumption that strong and confident characters will have an easier time dealing with love, however, in reality I think it’s the opposite, and such characters find the existence of an emotion strong enough to make them change difficult to accept.
Which brings me rather neatly to Thomas and Lucilla. He is the ultimate strong character with a very powerful, emotional, and deeply personal reason to shut himself off from love. Against that, Lucilla, an equally strong character, is unswervingly convinced that they are fated to love and marry—but she, too, has a few lessons to learn in what love—even a fated love—will demand.
In short, my motivation for using strong characters can be summed up as: the stronger they are, the more they resist and, ultimately, the harder they fall.

Readers first met Thomas Carrick in the Cynster holiday special By Winter’s Light. Did his earlier meeting with Lucilla described in that book affect the pair’s actions in this book?
            That earlier meeting in By Winter’s Light sets the stage for Thomas and Lucilla’s romance. Both of them leave that first encounter with the knowledge that the other could be their future spouse. Lucilla is ready to accept that Thomas is her fated future husband, lover, and consort, but Thomas, having experienced a complementary visceral connection to Lucilla, concludes that, as he wishes to avoid love, then she is someone he would be wise to avoid.
            So from the instant they part after that first encounter, they are set on opposing tracks—Lucilla expecting and waiting for Thomas to return to her side and claim her hand, and Thomas doing his level best to stay far away.
            It’s a standoff, until the actions at the start of The Tempting of Thomas Carrick force—literally force—them together again.

Deerhounds feature in By Winter’s Light and also in The Tempting of Thomas Carrick. Why deerhounds?

            I needed a large dog to accompany Thomas through the snowstorm in By Winter’s Light, a dog big enough to physically assist, and also the sort of dog that might have been in such a community—a gentry family in the Scottish uplands of the period. So I went searching for breeds of dogs, and stumbled upon Scottish deerhounds. The more I read about them, the more perfect they seemed, and so Hesta padded onto my stage, and from there, the addition of Artemis and Apollo was an obvious extrapolation.
            The dogs are fascinating—a shaggy, curly-coated, quite large breed built for speed and with superb eyesight. They are sight-hounds, and also track on the ground by scent, and as their name suggests, were specifically bred to hunt deer in the rugged terrain.
            However, the real impact of the deerhounds, story-wise, doesn’t occur until the next book, A Match for Marcus Cynster, in which the packs we learn about through The Tempting of Thomas Carrick, come into their own and play an active role in Marcus and his lady’s adventures.

Both By Winter’s Light and The Tempting of Thomas Carrick are set in Scotland, in the south western uplands. Were there any particular challenges in using such a setting?

            By Winter’s Light and The Tempting of Thomas Carrick are both centered on the Vale of Casphairn, which was a setting first introduced in Scandal’s Bride, the story of Richard and Catriona, Lucilla and Marcus’s parents (more on that below). Thus the settings for the recent books were not a matter of choice, but rather mandated, a necessary return to a previous place.
Such a wild country setting is very useful on the one hand, and a drawback on the other. The rugged beauty and landscape is a plus, while the isolation and the distance from any larger town or place of social congregation severely limits the opportunities for social events, even country house dinners. Consequently, the action in the story remains at all times strongly focused on the interaction between the two principal characters, with little to no distraction from external events. That puts a heavier burden on the romance plot than would be the case in a more urban setting, but that does mean the romance dominates and is always front and center. So there’s positives and negatives in using such a setting, but, overall, such settings definitely have their place when writing romances.

In this book, you also take readers to Glasgow—you paint quite a cosmopolitan picture of the town. How true to life is that depiction?

            I admit that my first mental vision of Glasgow was as a heavily industrialized town, centered on shipping on the Clyde. While the importance of shipping on the Clyde was correct, in the mid-1800s, Glasgow was a thriving merchant center with distinct aspirations toward the sophistication, polish, and civilized amenity we might associate with a seaport like Boston. In this period, Glasgow was a major merchant hub, and it was therefore highly prosperous, and the resulting wealth found expression in the houses and squares, the well-appointed offices and genteel clubs and in the evolving social scene.

Readers are familiar with Casphairn Manor, and the Vale of Casphairn, but the nearby village is Carsphairn. Was there a reason for the difference?

            This is one of those tales of things that “would not happen now.” I wrote the first novel featuring the Vale of Casphairn and Casphairn Manor back in the days before Google Maps. Or any sort of satellite imagery, or even ready access to detailed maps via the internet. At the time, I had several detailed maps of England, but as the village of Carsphairn is a very small settlement, it was shown in small—not to say tiny and non-expandable—font. So I read the name as Casphairn, not the correct Carsphairn.
            Years later, when I was writing Viscount Breckenridge to the Rescue, where the characters spend time in the Vale and at the manor, I was using Google Maps to study the areas to the east of where I had positioned the Vale, and when I zoomed in…I saw that the village name was really Carsphairn! Horrors! Luckily, I don’t think I’ve ever actually said the village itself was called Casphairn, only the Vale and the manor, but it was too late to change those—they’d already been written into history. So the Vale and the manor, both of which are fictitious, remain as Casphairn, while the village is correctly named Carsphairn.
            Out of curiosity, I did go back to the original map. To the naked eye, it still looks like Casphairn—only with the help of a strong magnifying glass can you see that extra r.

Lucilla’s position as healer to the Vale community, and, indeed, all people under The Lady’s protection, features strongly in this book. How common were such healers?

            Despite the rise of more formal medicine and the doctors who practiced it, traditional folk healers—those we might now term homeopathic healers or herbalists—were not uncommon into the late 1800s in England. In country areas, they would almost always be the first consulted, even by those living in the larger, wealthier houses. The history of herbal remedies is very deep and broad throughout the British Isles, and the more isolated the community, the greater the distance from a major town, the more likely that the people would turn first to the local “healer.” Midwifery and the treatment of common ailments remained largely the province of such healers even into the 1900s.
            That said, as mentioned in this book and the next, in this period, when it came to interacting with the apparatus of law and order, for instance in formally reporting a death, the “doctor”—meaning a man formally trained in the western medical tradition—would be the one sent for.

This book is the first of the Cynster Next Generation Novels, and will be followed by Lucilla’s twin brother, Marcus’s story in June. Are there more Cynster Next Generation Novels to come?

            Yes, indeed! As By Winter’s Light was in essence a pivotal volume, shifting focus from the original Bar Cynster generation to the lives of their near-adult children, and within the tale of By Winter’s Light were the seeds of Lucilla’s romance, then her book had to come first, in The Tempting of Thomas Carrick. And within Lucilla’s story lie the seeds of Marcus’s story, and as he is her twin, his book, A Match for Marcus Cynster, had to come next. It will be released on May 26, 2015.
            But at the end of The Tempting of Thomas Carrick, and even more definitely at the end of A Match for Marcus Cynster, we catch up with the other Cynsters now facing up to the challenge of marriage and finding a suitable spouse. We see and appreciate that all is not going to be smooth sailing for such very robust individuals, neither the males nor the females. There are at least 6 more Cynster Next Generation novels to come—the romances of Devil’s three children, Sebastian, Michael, and Louisa, and those of the remaining “older group”—Prudence, Christopher, and Antonia Rawlings. After that…well, I’m sure that by the time I finish Louisa’s tale, we’ll know a lot more about Annabelle, Juliet, and Therese. And I already know what Calvin and Carter get up to, which should prove a lot of fun. Lots more to enjoy!

The Tempting of Thomas Carrick (A Cynster Novel)
Release Date: February 24th, 2015


Thomas Carrick is determined to make his own life in the bustling port city of Glasgow, far from the demands of the Carrick clan, eventually with an appropriate wife on his arm. But disturbing events on his family's estate force Thomas to return to the Scottish countryside—where he is forced to ask for help from the last woman he wants to face. Thomas has never forgotten Lucilla Cynster and the connection that seethes between them, but to marry Lucilla would mean embracing a life he's adamant is not for him.

Strong-willed and passionate, Lucilla knows Thomas is hers—her fated lover, husband, protector, mate. He is the only man for her, just as she is his one true love. How can he ignore a bond stronger than reason and choose a different path? She's determined to fight for their future, and while she cannot command him, she has enticements of her own to wield when it comes to tempting Thomas Carrick.


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 About the Cynster Series

Devil’s Bride (Cynster #1)

When Devil, the most infamous member of the Cynster family, is caught in a compromising position with plucky governess Honoria Wetherby, he astonishes the entire town by offering his hand in marriage. No one dreamed this scandalous rake would ever take a bride. And as society mamas swooned at the loss of England′s most eligible bachelor, Devil′s infamous Cynster cousins began to place wagers on the wedding date.

But Honoria wasn′t about to bend society′s demands and marry a man "just" because they′d been found together virtually unchaperoned. No, she craved adventure, and while solving the murder of a young Cynster cousin fit the bill for a while, she decided that once the crime was solved she′d go off to see the world. But the scalding heat of her unsated desire for Devil soon had Honoria craving a very different sort of excitement. Could her passion for Devil cause her to embrace the enchanting peril of a lifelong adventure of the heart?


About Author

#1 New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Laurens began writing romances as an escape from the dry world of professional science. Her hobby quickly became a career when her first novel was accepted for publication, and with entirely becoming alacrity, she gave up writing about facts in favor of writing fiction.

Laurens's novels are set in the time period of the British Regency, and her settings range from Scotland to India. Laurens has published fifty works of historical romance, including 29 New York Times bestsellers. All her works are continuously available in print and digital formats in English worldwide, and have been translated into many other languages. An international bestseller, among other Stephanie's email contactsaccolades Laurens has received the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA Award for Best Romance Novella 2008, for The Fall of Rogue Gerrard.

Her continuing novels featuring the Cynster family are widely regarded as classics of the genre. Other series include the Bastion Club Novels and the Black Cobra Quartet. For information on upcoming releases and updates on novels yet to come, visit Stephanie's website.


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