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Five Stars

Thank you PJ Ausdenmore and The Romance Dish for this wonderful 5 star review.

It begins: “Overflowing with the wit, humor, passion, feel-good romance, and fully-dimensional characters for which Anne Gracie is known, The Scoundrel’s Daughter launches Gracie’s new series with a story that kept me fully entertained from start to finish.”

It concludes with: “I’ve read The Scoundrel’s Daughter twice and I’m already looking forward to visiting these characters again. Like many of Gracie’s titles, it’s a book destined for my comfort reads shelf.” 

Read the whole review and the Q&A I did with PJ about the writing of the book here.

 

Meet Debo

Here’s a snippet from The Scoundrel’s Daughter where my hero, James, is reunited with the daughters he hasn’t seen for more than four years. He was a soldier in Wellington’s Army, and his wife and two daughters had happily traveled with the army. But when his wife was pregnant with their third child, she was having difficulties and was advised to return to England to give birth, which she did.  She died shortly after giving birth.

Now, four years later,  James has been released from the army and has returned to England eager to be reunited with his daughters. I won’t include the whole scene, but here is the moment when he meets his youngest, Deborah, aged four. . . 

 * * * * *

James looked at Deborah, the child he’d never met, and took a swift breath. Dark-haired little Deborah didn’t resemble her mother in the least. She was the image of his brother, Ross, at the same age. There was a portrait somewhere of Ross as a child, with the exact same expression. She eyed him suspiciously, then, scowling, plonked her bottom on the stairs and folded her arms, making it clear she had no intention of coming closer.

He almost laughed; Ross, too, had often worn that same stubborn expression.

He approached the stairs and knelt down so that their faces were more or less level. “Good afternoon, Deborah. We’ve never met, but I’m your f—”

“Debo,” she muttered.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m Debo, not Deborah.”

He nodded. “I see. Well then, Debo . . .”

She leaned sideways and looked past him at Judy and Lina standing behind him. “You sure this is Papa?”

They assured her he was. She examined him carefully. She didn’t look too impressed. Her scowl was as black as ever. She leaned forward and hit him on the shoulder. “You left us.”

“I did,” he admitted. Technically they’d left him, but he wasn’t going to argue.

“Why you left us?”

“I had to. I was a soldier, and the king needed me. A soldier works for the king.”

“The king?”

He nodded.

“Because of the king . . .” She considered that. Her scowl deepened, and her lower lip pushed out. She hit him on the shoulder again. “Then I hate the king.”

And there it was, another piece of his heart given over to a small, helpless, angry creature.

“We’re all going to be together now. I’ve come to take you and your sisters home.”

“Where is home?” Debo demanded.

“With me, with all of us together. I have a house in London and a house in the country, but we’re going to live in London first.” 

Debo considered the possibilities, then tilted her head and narrowed her eyes. “You got a cat in London?”

“No.” Cats made him sneeze.

“Hmph!” The scowl was back.

Behind him Miss Coates spoke, “Deborah has a great fondness for cats. She has been waiting for the kitchen cat to have kittens.” She added softly, “The kitchen cat is a very fat tom.”

James turned back to his smallest daughter. “There might be a cat in one of the houses, Debo—I don’t know.”

The frown didn’t lift. Clearly ‘might be’ wasn’t good enough for this small, adorable despot.

“I suppose we could get a kitten.”

“Good.” Debo stood up. “We going now?”

*  *  *  *  *

You can buy The Scoundrel’s Daughter from Amazon.com, from the e-tailer of your choice or order it through your local bookstore.

Thanks to Kelly Lyonns for the kitten photograph. Stay tuned for more kitten photos. I asked on FB and so many gorgeous kitten photos arrived I can’t choose just one…

*  *  *  *  *

When I first called myself a writer

When did you first call yourself a writer?

On the Word Wenches blog (where I blog every fortnight) Mary Jo Putney wrote this piece about how she became a writer.

And it started me wondering about when I first thought of myself as a writer. I’ve written all my life — letters, silly poems (that I called pomes), short stories, songs etc, and things for school — short plays and skits for kids (and teachers) to perform. But it never occurred to me to write books, because somewhere in my childhood I’d decided books were written by rare and wonderful creatures that lived in a magic land — or something. (Photo by my friend Fiona McArthur)

And then I started working with a guy who turned out to be a newly published writer, and I thought Huh! Well, he’s no unicorn. And I read his book, and thought, huh, maybe I could do that. 

It got me thinking seriously about writing for publication. The following year, I went backpacking around the world on my own and, being alone and often in countries where I didn’t speak the language, I found stories spinning in my head. So I bought a notebook and started writing them down.

I came home at the end of the year with a number of filled notebooks, full of ideas, stories and scraps and at least one novel — and a determination to seriously pursue a writing career. Even then, I might never have prepared anything to send to a publisher — I never learned to type and that seemed like a real barrier — except that a friend sent her little Macintosh computer for me to “mind” while she was away. 

The idea was that I would learn to use it — me, the luddite! But I kept getting post cards from her mentioning the computer and asking how I was going with it. So it was pure “fear of embarrassment” that caused me to haul it out of the box, set it up and start poking around. And it turned out to be amazingly user friendly and intuitive, so that even a computer-resistant person like me could use it with ease!

So I bought a Mac and started seriously writing for publication. (Though I never did type up any of those stories in the notebooks.) I loved that I could make typos, and then fix them without retyping a whole page, or having pages heavily weighted with white-out. It was magic.

In those days, I never called myself ‘a writer’, even though I was writing a lot, because a writer is a job, not just an activity. After all, I clean and garden and cook, but I don’t call myself a cleaner or a gardener or a cook. 

But also I was a bit shy about telling people what I was doing. I mean, if you say “I’m writing a book,” from then on they will ask you about it, and after a while it will become “Haven’t you finished that book yet?” or “When are we going to be able to read it?” As if rejections weren’t a normal part of most journeys to publication.

And there’s this line in a Yeats poem: “Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.” But some people tread happily wearing hob-nailed boots.

So I waited until I was published. And once I started calling myself a writer, the questions from non-friends went like this: “You’re a writer eh? So have you ever been published?” Said in the kind of cynical voice where the subtext is “How pretentious, to call yourself a writer,” and the expectation is a shamed admission that no I haven’t been published.

But then when I said I had been published, the next question was, “Will I have heard of you?” 
Probably not. 
“So what do you write, then?”

And when I said I wrote romance, the reaction was “Oh right, so you got the formula” — the subtext being I wasn’t a real writer. And there was never any point in explaining that there was no more a formula for romance than there was for crime novels — although I did try — because they simply didn’t believe it. I was just trying to pretend I was a real writer.

I’ve had more than 20 books published now, with translations into eighteen other languages, and I’ve made my living solely from my writing for years now, but some people still ask me, “When are you going to write a real book?”

But I don’t care any more. I write real books for real people and I love what I do and I have a host of romance-writing (and other genre-writing) friends and so who cares what other people think?

And I still write in notebooks a lot, and sometimes in cafes and libraries, though not looking quite so elegant as the woman in this picture.