Do you like character bios? I always have, and they're pretty essential for me to create as an author. Today, I'm sharing the heroine for my next western/Victorian novel: Evelyn Lyon, Countess Tyneham. At least, that's her name for about half the book. Then she becomes Mrs. Evelyn Morgan, wife to our favorite foreman, "Frosty."
Evelyn is so much fun to write. She's my third heroine who starts her novel as a widow - but she's the first one who isn't all that sad about it. She's too busy surviving to mourn a man who didn't hold her in very high regard. I've loved writing about her as a love interest because she has so much going on in her head and emotions, so much to worry about, with a daughter as dependent on Evelyn making good choices as Evelyn is.
Karen Gillan (ugh, typo in the graphic - sorry!) is Scottish. My heroine is not. But Karen has that copper-haired, playful beauty that I picture as I write Evelyn.
This book is different from the first of my westerns because, this time, we have a woman who is used to the stylish life of English High Society suddenly dropped in the desert, amid coyotes and cowboys, and expected to learn how to do everything a prairie wife has to accomplish every day. While caring for three children and coming to know the near-stranger she married.
Evelyn has a lot of pluck, though. She's determined to make the best of things. And if that cowboy she married wants to flirt with her, he can go on ahead and flirt! She'll just keep on guarding her heart. At least. She'll try. ;-)
She has a hard road to travel. Her mother brought Evelyn up to believe that her only asset is her beauty and her only value is that of a pretty wife on the arm of an important man. Before long, Evelyn discovers what her mother taught her may not be the only way to claim a place in the hearts of others.
Copper for the Countess is the second book in the Hearts of Arizona Western/Victorian romances. It's available for pre-order now and will be released in September.
It will not surprise you in the least that most of them have an element of romance in them...
Let's talk Western movies! What are some of your favorites? I have so many that it is hard to choose but I managed to narrow it down to five.
(1) Westward the Women - it's an older film about a wagon train of women going west to be brides. They have a LOT of problems on the way. But it's ultimately about the strength of a group of women relying on each other to make the journey. And yeah. There's a love story.
(2) The Magnificent Seven (original version) with Yule Brenner (the King of Siam in the musical The King and I) as the main morally gray hero. Love him. I really wish Hollywood would've let him be a romantic lead more often. He's VERY intense, in a swoony way.
(3 & 4) Tie of two musicals. Calamity Jane (Doris Day is amazing and hilarious in this one) and The Harvey Girls (Judy Garland stars in this romance!) - I LOVE Musicals. Can't get enough of them.
5) I also LOVE The Mask of Zorro. Don't know if that counts as a western. It should. I grew up watching the black and white film with Tyrone Powell in the lead part, and this reboot of the story made me fall in love with Antonio Bandaras.
Have you seen any of my favorites? What are some of yours?
Kevin McGarry is one of my favorite Hallmark movie actors...
...And so I have cast him (mentally) as Chris "Frosty" Morgan, the next Sally Britton hero y'all will be meeting. If all goes according to plan. (Manuscript is with my editor right now!) Isn't he something else? If you're a fan of Hallmark movies and TV shows, you've seen him before. I only knew him from his work on the show When Calls the Heart, but I've since gone looking for him in other places. (Autumn Stables is a super cute Hallmark romance you can rent on Amazon, btw.)
Kevin McGarry is the perfect Frosty, the hero of my second western novel, Copper for the Countess.
Here's why. In Silver Dollar Duke, readers met Frosty alongside my hero, Evan. Frosty is the foreman of KB Ranch, and he's also a man of few words. Most of the time. He's a good guy. He smiles a bit crookedly when amused. He's easy-going, so long as you get the work done before you play. He's a gentleman, too. He'd never leave a lady to fend for herself, and he minds his manners. Describe as tall and slim, with dark hair, and ice-blue eyes, he's a working man and believes a good day is a day in which the job gets done right.
In my new western, we're back on KB Ranch land, and Frosty is just starting to wonder if there's more to life than cattle. That's when the news comes that his best friend from childhood, his cousin, has passed away. Leaving two children orphans and in Frosty's guardianship.
Frosty's never had much of a problem with rounding up cattle and cowboys alike, but children? He's a bit like a duck in the desert--lost. (Fact: There are a lot of ducks native to Arizona. But you get the idea.)
I love cowboys. There's something about a man in denim, a hat, plaid, and a good pair of boots that makes me happy. I think learning that my husband spent a couple of summers working on a ranch increased the appeal, back when we were dating.
Frosty has a pretty interesting backstory, but I'm always at odds with how much to share, since some of it isn't so "sweet." He found himself in a pretty bad situation during his first years as a cowboy.
I've based Frosty's story on my own family history. I'll be sure to share more when it's not so spoiler-y. (Probably on my Facebook Group, Sally's Sweet Romance Fans.)
What do you think? Are you looking forward to Frosty's book?
Never fear, Regency-only readers. I have two Regency novels coming up in just a few months. And a whole host of Regency plans.
Yesterday, Discovering Grace turned TWO years old. I can't believe this story has been out in the world for that long. I thought I'd take a moment today to tell you a bit more about why I wrote a character who - on the surface, at least - is a bit of an introvert. Quiet. Unassuming. Avoids being the center of any attention - very unlike her twin sister.
I think people get the wrong idea about introverts, sometimes. We aren't really shy. Just content with quiet, keeping to our small circle of friends, and happy in our environments.
Grace and I share a few traits. We both like the idea of adventure, but find we like staying tucked up at home even more. We're both willing to go with the flow, but if you try to push us out of our comfort zone, we are going to push back.
Which is precisely what Grace does when her father - in a moment of temper - tries to send her on the adventurous ocean voyage meant for her sister, Hope.
Grace is even-tempered. She is kind, too, and has found numerous ways to help her community while staying in the background. All those charitable organizations that Hope steers about? Grace is the one with the good ideas. The popular parties that the sisters host? Hope might look like she's taking the lead, but Grace is the one doing all the planning.
The sisters compliment each other, and love each other despite their differences. So when Grace faces the thought of being sent away from all she loves, SHE is the one who decides she and Hope need to switch places. Hope, though surprised that her sister is "rocking the boat," eagerly goes along with the plan.
The fact that this means Grace gets to stay near Jacob, the man she has loved for more years than anyone would guess, is icing on the cake. Or is it? After all, he's pining for the sister who left. Isn't he?
We find out later, in Hope's book, that she's known about Grace's love for Jacob all along. And heartily approves of the two of them as a couple. It was tricky to write books about the sisters, letting people see how they viewed each other and their relationship. But SO rewarding. I loved writing them both.
I loved writing Grace. I wanted to show how someone who wishes to remain at home can still be a heroine. I wanted her to be a different kind of strong than her sister.
I hope you love Grace, too. If you haven't read this story yet, it's available on the following platforms:
I recently took a poll in my reader group on Facebook (join here if you'd like) and asked which of my leading men my readers would like to know MORE about. The winner was Lord Neil Duncan, who has an interesting background and a lot of trials to get through before he finds his happily ever after. I'm going to share all about him today...
Where do I even BEGIN with this gentleman? And WHY are so many of you interested? It’s worth noting that the runner up in the poll on Facebook is Silas - Neil’s nemesis for a few of the books in the Inglewood series.
The first time Neil appeared on the page, as sly as a fox and slippery as a snake with charm, I adored him. I’m not sure what that says about me. I had to get to know him fairly quickly. “What kind of a man would make Silas angry merely by existing? What kind of a man would risk Esther’s reputation with a flirtation?”
These are the questions authors have to ask. I needed a man born to privilege, but Silas’s opposite. Charming instead of aloof. All smiles rather than stone. Subtle. Or at least THINKS he’s subtle. Because if he outright propositioned Esther, he’d be rejected, and he knows this. He’s trying to woo her on those first pages - at first because he hates Silas who has everything Neil always wanted. (More on that in a second.) And then, as he gets to see more and more of Esther, he genuinely comes to admire her. To the point that he threatens Millie in Saving Sir Isaac. Because he thinks Millie and his sister Olivia are going to do something that hurts Esther either emotionally or through her reputation.
He’s a nice guy. Deep down. “Exceedingly deep down,” Silas would say.
But he’s a product of his Society and rank. All his life, his father has treated him as useless (a third son, and his father has always suspected Neil isn’t his biological child). His elder brothers took their cue from their father.
Neil’s only real friend growing up was his sister, Olivia. A sister who began sweet, but quickly wrapped herself up in vanity and selfishness as a protection AND weapon. What choice did he have, but to harden himself, too? Except he chose charm as his armor, and wit as his shield, and cutting remarks as his sword.
Of course, when the Earl of Inglewood started spending more time at Inglewood’s estate - a child several years younger than Neil - he took note. He paid attention to this boy, alone in the world except for an over-bearing grandmother, and even felt a little sorry for young Silas. Here, Neil thought, was someone worse off than himself.
Except Silas, despite a somewhat stoic nature even as a boy, was friendly. He attracted the other children, younger and older than himself, into the circle of his friendship. They came, eagerly, to his side. Soon the child-Earl had a close circle of friends. And Neil? A little too old for their games, and uncertain how to even try to belong, couldn’t think what to do except mock them. His lonely heart turning to envy, because he didn’t know what else to do. How else to behave.
Ever the honorable, heroic boy, Silas though Neil a villain, and thus was he branded. Because youths really don’t know much about the world or what makes people the way they are.
Coming forward a few years, Neil entered the world of adulthood with bright eyes and a hope for something to change. Anything to change. Getting far away from his family’s influence and standing on his own, he falls in love. At least, he’s pretty sure it’s love. A pretty heiress, only a generation or two removed from trade, has taken an interest in him. He’s the son of a marquess, after all. Well-connected. Noble. And he’s besotted by her.
The lady uses Neil to find more favorable introductions to the finest balls, teas, and then…she meets a man destined to inherit a title. So much better for her than the third son of anyone of note. She leaves a heart-sore Neil behind.
Feeling sorry for him yet? Can you believe I created this entire backstory for the man from the first line I gave him in Rescuing Lord Inglewood?
With his dependence on his father’s favor and an allowance that makes him comfortable, Neil slinks back to his family’s country home. Yes, he appears in London now and then. But the city holds no joy for him. It is the scene of his greatest hurt. He’s tired of caring about anything or anyone. So he just…stops. He stops caring. He makes mischief when it amuses him. Escorts his sister where she wishes to go - because he remembers what she was like before, when they were younger and more hopeful of the world doing them a kindness.
Then Neil meets Esther. And rather than fall into his arms after her husband seemingly abandons her, Esther keeps him at arm’s length. Yet she never says an unkind word. Never seeks to humiliate him. In fact, despite her disinterest (which makes him wonder what Silas ever did to deserve such loyalty), she’s kind.
Neil is so starved for kindness, even in this most unexpected place, that he can’t let her go. Not until Silas returns and forces the issue. Though Neil knows his neighbor and nemesis will think him a coward, he bows out and away.
“Silly me,” Neil thinks to himself, all alone in his room. “To think I could ever have someone that gentle in my life.” But Esther has won his devotion merely for being DECENT to him. When the Season comes again, and Neil goes to town, he speaks highly of the new countess whenever he hears her name mentioned. It isn’t much. But maybe it helped.
During the events of Discovering Grace and Saving Miss Everly, Neil has a bit of a shock. When the cart his sister is racing against the Everly sisters overturns, Neil breaks his arm. He has to pull his unconscious sister from the wreckage. He faces his mortality in a way he hadn’t before. This makes him…thoughtful. Then he learns that Grace and Hope switched places in order to get their way - and it’s the most amusing thing. And inspiring thing. Despite being women, despite knowing they would face repercussions for their act, they did something bold. He wants to find a way to acknowledge that. To show his admiration. All he can think to do is slip off one day and tell Grace he harbors no ill will toward her or Hope for the part they played in the racing accident. While Grace dismisses his behavior as strange, it’s something that stays with Neil for a long time.
In Engaging Sir Isaac, Neil meets Millicent Wedgewood. A villainess in the making, thanks to his sister. And he likes her. She’s witty. Intelligent. Despite Olivia’s ill-treatment, Millie is also kind. He senses that she’s acting out of some sense of desperation and—knowing what Olivia is like—he wants to help Millie. If she continues on her path, he knows that misery awaits her. He’s watched the Silver Birch Society (ridiculous name, he scoffed on more than one occasion) his whole life. He’s beginning to understand what makes the members of that Society happy. And it isn’t any of the things his father, mother, brothers, or sister have pursued.
In fact, he’s fairly certain Millie would be happiest with the one-armed Sir Isaac. When he finds the note to prove it in his care? It’s quite easy to make sure it gets into Isaac’s hands. And Neil slips away. Content, for once in his life. Because of a simple good deed.
You all know what happens next, if you’ve read Reforming Lord Neil. And you’ll find out what happens AFTER Neil’s “happily ever after” in the first book in my Return to Inglewood series. Cover and summary reveal coming soon.
I write clean and sweet Historical Romance Novels, I live in the desert, I'm a mom of four, madly in love with my husband, and I love to read!
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Sally Britton's books on Goodreads
His Bluestocking Bride (Branches of Love #3)
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