Romance author Hannah Howell talks about how the ever-popular damsel in distress archetype inspired her latest novel, "If He's Daring." Plus, the author gives us an exclusive excerpt from the upcoming 2015 release,"Highland Guard."
The inspiration for If He’s Daring came from a news report about a missing child. As I marveled at the speed the Amber Alert went out (even to the electronic sign boards along the highways), I found myself wondering how people might have dealt with the theft of their child in earlier times, like say 1790. Lady Catryn Gryffin deWarrenne has the advantage of knowing who took her child and why when she sets out after the man who stole her son. When her horse falls lame, Lady Catryn steals Sir Orion Wherlocke’s carriage to continue the pursuit and he becomes a useful ally.
The unique Wherlocke/Vaughn family in this series came about after my long fascination with psychic gifts. I chose the late-Georgian time period (part of The Enlightenment and The Age of Reason in Britain) because it was past the time of the worst of the persecutions against witches, but superstition was still strong enough to establish a need for families to be secretive and cautious, yet continuously battle disbelief and ridicule. It also made families tightly knit to protect each other even as the study of science and logic matured.
In If He’s Daring, Lady Catryn’stroubles require all of Sir Orion’s unique gifts and skills. Sir Orion has a psychic gift, as do most of the members of his expansive family, and he believes himself eminently qualified to help her even as his interest in her deepens. He shares her determination to save her son from her late husband’s brother, who want’s the boy’s inheritance, no matter how many obstacles are tossed in his way.
Annys started at the shout from the door yanked her out of her thoughts and she stared at the tall, too-thin young man who had burst into the solar. “What is it, Gavin? Please don’t tell me there is more trouble to deal with. It has been so blissfully quiet for days.”
“I don’t think t’is trouble, m’lady, for Nicolas isn’t bothered.” Gavin scratched at his cheek and frowned. “But there are six big, armed men at the gate. Nicolas was going to open the gates for them and said I was to come and tell ye that.”
“I will be right out then. Thank ye, Gavin.” The moment Gavin left, she looked at Joan. “How are six big, armed men nay trouble?”
“If they come in answer to your message?” Joan hastily tidied Anny’s thick braid. “There, done. Now ye look presentable. Let us go out and greet our guests.”
“Guests don’t come armed,” Annys said as she started out of the room, Joan right at her side.
“They do if they come in reply to a lady’s note saying help me, help me.”
“I didn’t say help me, help me.”
“Near enough. No gain on talking on it until we actually see who is here.”
“Fine but I did nay say help me, help me,”
Annys ignored Joan’s soft grunt even though she knew it meant the woman was not going to change her mind. She stepped out through the heavy oak doors and stared down the stone steps to the bailey only to stop before she reached the bottom. The man dismounting from a huge black gelding was painfully familiar.
Tall, strong, and handsome with his thick long black hair and eyes like a wolf, he had been a hard man to forget. She had certainly done her utmost to cast him from her mind. Each time he had slipped into her thoughts she had slapped his memory away. Writing him that message had brought his memory rushing to the fore again, however. Seeing him in the flesh, looking as handsome as he had five years ago, told her that she had never succeeded in forgetting him. Annys began to regret asking him for his aid no matter how badly they needed any help they could get at the moment.
She fought to remind herself of how he had ridden away from Glenncullaich all those years ago without even a quick but private farewell to her. It had hurt. Despite knowing it had been wrong to want that private moment to say their goodbyes, despite the guilt that wanting had stirred in her then, and now, she had been devastated by his cold leave-taking.
Harcourt looked at Annys and his heart actually skipped a beat. He would have laughed if he was not so filled with conflicting emotions. Such happenings were the stuff of bad poetry, the sort of thing he had always made jest of. Yet, there he stood, rooted to the spot, frantically thinking of what to say and how to hide the tangled mass of emotion that was nearly choking him. He nodded a greeting to her and watched her beautiful moss-green eyes narrow in a look that did not bode well for an amiable talk later. Talking was not what he was thinking about, however. He was recalling how soft that long blood-red hair of hers was, how warm her pale skin felt beneath his hands, and how sweet those full lips tasted. That was a memory he needed to smother and fast.
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