13 January 2013

Guest Blog: Blythe Gifford

Welcome back one of our own, Blythe Gifford, who has been blogging with Unusual Historicals since 2009. Her new trilogy from the Harlequin Historical line, The Brunson Clan, continues this month with CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD. Set on the Scottish Borders during the early Tudor era, it centers on a family of Border Reivers. This time, the heroine is Bessie Brunson, only sister of the clan. Here's the blurb:


Bessie, the selfless sister of the powerful but stubborn Brunson clan, has sacrificed herself for her family’s honor and is at the mercy of the court of King James. Ill-suited to court life, she must confront their mortal enemy, Lord Thomas Carwell, dressed in nothing but borrowed finery and pride.

Underneath the relentless gaze of her captor, she’s enticed not only by him but also by the opulence of a world far removed from her own. When the furious king demands her brother’s head, Carwell is the only one to whom she can turn. But she must pay the ultimate price for his protection….

**Q & A with Blythe Gifford**

Was it easier to write the second book of a series?

“Easy” and “write” never seem to meet in the same sentence for me.  What came more smoothly this time was the historical mindset and events.  I knew the world, many of the key characters, and how they might relate to each other.  But then what did I do?  I took Bessie Brunson away from the valley she – and I – knew so well and plopped her in the middle of new corners of Scotland.  Ones I had to research all over again. 

So where does the story take place?

Like Cinderella, Bessie is whisked away from her work-a-day world, first, to a royal palace, Stirling Castle, and then, to the hero’s castle by the sea, modeled on Caerlaverock, the only triangularly shaped castle in Britain. 

Researching a castle sounds like fun!

It was!  Stirling is one of the most famous in Scotland.  It has now been restored beautifully and there’s a beautiful website that brings the castle, and the people to life.  The only problem is that many of those additions were made by the king AFTER the period of my story, so I was forever checking dates. 

I felt slightly less constrained about my hero’s castle, since he is, I must remind myself, fictional.  But Caerlaverock is well documented and now sits at the edge of a nature preserve, so the muse had lots of fodder!  Floor plans and photographs galore are available online.  

And your heroine gets to meet the king!  Just like Cinderella!

Yes, we meet King James V and see a tournament and dancing at the court.  All very glamorous, but also intimidating for a woman who’s never been so far from home.  We love the Cinderella story, but it seems to me that Cinderella was a fish out of water, just like Bessie Brunson.  That couldn’t be as easy as Walt Disney made it look!

So what about the hero?

Lord Thomas Carwell, hero of CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, appeared in RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR.  He might (or might not) have betrayed the Brunsons and they certainly did not trust him.  I left the question unresolved.  In fact, I didn’t know the truth myself until I wrote this book, so the uncertainty was genuine.  He is a man of many secrets, as it turns out, prepared to adjust to shifting tides.  That made him the opposite of blunt, plainspoken Bessie Brunson and so, of course, they are perfect for each other. 

Does this book stand alone?

My intention was to make each story complete, however, the stories are tight and sequential and there’s an arc to the series as a whole which climaxes with a confrontation between the Brunsons and the king.  Harlequin scheduled them close together:  November/January/March, so readers who love to gobble up a series in order can do so!  I hope readers enjoy watching the evolving relationships among the Brunson family members, too.  Three siblings and, eventually, three spouses allowed some interesting interactions.

What’s up next?

TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL, will be released in print in North America February 19.  Electronic and UK editions will be available March 1.  As a bonus, starting February 25, I’ll have a free, online read available on the Harlequin website.  One of the secondary characters from CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD will get her own happy ending!  (Title TBD.) 

One lucky reader who comments on today’s blog will be randomly selected to win a signed copy of RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR or CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD.  Your choice!  

Blythe Gifford has been known for medieval romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now, she’s written a trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the early Tudor era, starting with RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, Harlequin Historical.  CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD will follow in January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013.  The Chicago Tribune has called her work "the perfect balance between history and romance."  Visit her at www.blythegifford.com, www.facebook.com/BlytheGifford, or on Twitter @BlytheGifford. 

Author photo by Jennifer Girard.  Cover Art Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.  Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.