“Dear cousin mine,
If you are reading this letter, then I am dead. A pity that. I had always hoped you would go first so I could spit on your grave.”
Thus begins THE LETTER. Michael, the Earl of Daventry, had a brief cameo in THE TRAINING OF A MARQUESS. Although he only appeared at the end of the book—his sole purpose to make Chase, the Marquess of Derebourne, jealous—I immediately knew Michael had a story to tell. I just didn’t realize at the time how heart wrenching it would be.
When I finish a story, I put it away for about six weeks so that when I start on revisions, I have a somewhat fresh eye. When the first draft of Chase and Claire’s story was completed, I put it aside and started thinking about Michael. What was his background? What happened to make him the man he is when the book opens? Who would be his love interest?
Those questions tumbled about in my mind as I waited for him to start talking to me (yes, my characters do talk to me, some better than others). Four or five days later, I woke up one morning with the entire letter in my mind and rushed to my computer to get it all down. Well then, it appeared Michael was ready to talk and did he ever.
I’ve never suffered the kind of abuse Diana did, and as the brutality of her dead husband was revealed, I had some second thoughts about writing the book. Was it too much? Would it turn readers off the story? But Michael insisted this was the way it happened…absolutely refused to back down. So, the story of a betrayal that wasn’t came to life.
Michael had some quirks I fell in love with, like how he sometimes created silly, imaginary tales. Or how he frequently started conversations by saying, “Listen.”
“Listen. I have a plan,” was one of his favorite things to say. His plans didn’t always go as intended, but he was never without one.
In the letter, Leo (the evil husband) gleefully wrote, She can no longer bear the touch of a man.
Michael took that as a challenge and began planning. Diana had once loved his touch, and he was determined to help her heal, to learn to enjoy a man’s touch again. What surprised me big time, however, was his humor…Oh, and the cats. He snuck those in on me.
It seemed he understood what I didn’t. A story this dark needed laughter to help smother the evil. Evil only triumphs when we allow it, and Michael—a man with a plan— was resolute in his goal to see Diana’s demons ground to dust.
Here’s part of a scene between Michael and Diana where he reveals one of his plans.
“Blast it, Michael. Just tell me the damned plan.”
“There are two parts to it.”
Diana glared at him. “You are sorely trying my patience.” Why was he grinning?
“Do you realize you just swore at me and then followed it up with a glare? And only a few minutes ago, you jabbed at my chest.”
She huffed out an exasperated breath. “What does that have to do with anything?”
“Just this.” He came and sat on the stool, taking her hands in his. “Even a week ago, you would not have dared such a thing. Don’t you see? Already you are stronger, more sure of yourself. Each day, I’ve watched your confidence grow and it is like witnessing the birth of a butterfly. It is time for you to find your wings again, Diana.”
“That is your plan? I’m a butterfly and I’m to find my wings?”
GIVEAWAY [*US/CA only]: An autographed copy will be given away if you leave a comment and answer a question.
So the question (two questions) is this: Do you prefer a lighthearted romance or are you drawn to a story with a tortured hero or heroine? Who is your favorite tortured hero? (Mine is Gabriel in Judith James’ Broken Wing.)
AUTHOR BIO: Sandra lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Most days, you can find her with her fingers on a keyboard, her mind in the world of her imagination. It’s a land where romance and happy endings exist, a land where anything is possible.
When her husband can drag her away from her computer, she likes to travel with her very own hero in their RV, but she always brings her laptop. There are still stories to write, after all.
A few highlights of Sandra’s life she fondly recalls are jumping out of a plane, flying upside down in a stunt plane, and riding her Harley in the mountains of Southern California and along the coast of Maine. She’s managed a private airport and held the position of General Manager of a Harley-Davidson dealership.
Although those events in her life were great fun, nothing compares to the joy and satisfaction she gets from writing her stories.
Sandra is a member of Romance Writers of America and their Beau Monde Chapter. You can interact with Sandra through her Facebook page, Tweeter, Goodreads and her Website.