Tag Archives: historical romance

Enchanting historical mystery features intrigues of the Byron-Shelley group

Claire’s Last Secret, by Marty Ambrose. Severn House. 192 pages. Hardcover $28.99.

Set primarily in Florence and Geneva, this highly atmospheric historical novel honors a period of European high culture with a portrait gallery of a tightly knit group. One is Mary Shelley, formerly Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, who had recently eloped with the poet. She is the author of the forever popular novel “Frankenstein” and the stepsister of Claire Clairmont. At the time the novel opens, 1816, they are both attractive, precocious women in their later teens.  

The Shelley Circle is also the Byron Circle, and Claire is carrying Lord Byron’s child, though it takes a while for her to let him know. The group is summering together in Geneva. Claire is something of a hanger-on, as she is the most financially needy.

In Claire’s mind, Polidori, Byron’s personal physician and traveling companion, seems to be antagonistic to her desire to rekindle Byron’s passion for her. She would settle for the passion, since marriage is unlikely, as long as their love-child is somehow supported.

When not practitioners, the friends are devotees of the arts. Claire’s narrative, from the perspective of 1873, offers memories of the impressive architecture of homes and public spaces that the group, or a subset thereof, visited. The actual quarters they occupied were usually modest.

Ambrose

The greatest art that they shared amongst themselves was the art of conversation, with the upbeat Percy Shelley leading the way, and the frequently morose Byron contributing dramatic verbal gestures. His life is clouded by his self-created tarnished reputation.

There is a strong attraction, in all four of these friends, for rebellion against convention social behavior. Claire expresses the wish to follow her heart unencumbered by what others will think. She and Mary are aware of the stricter judgement that women receive for what may be considered immoral behavior.

One of Professor Ambrose’s gifts is capturing the individuality of these sometimes frivolous, sometimes insightful, and always enchanting voices. They speak a brand of English that seems authentic to the time, the personalities, and the social milieu. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the January 30, 2019 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the January 31 Naples, Bonita Springs, Charlotte County, Venice, and  Palm Beach editions, click here:  Florida Weekly – Claire’s Last Secret

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Mothers and daughters stretch India’s social boundaries

The Jewel Daughters, by Nina Harkness. Pothi.  278 pages. Trade paperback $14.00. Kindle $2.99.

Like her debut novel A Sahib’s Daughter, this new title by Ms. Harkness is a multigenerational and multicultural exploration of life during and after India’s period as a British colony. Spanning forty-five years, it has as one area of interest the relationships between Indian natives and British tea plantation administrators, revealing the cultural and racial social structure during a period of change. JewelDaughtersFront

The central character is Cara Powell, daughter of a Welsh Presbyterian pastor in Shillong, a small city known for its beautiful rolling hills and as a regional administrative center. The pastor dies when Cara is fourteen, and her mother Beula, an orphan of mixed race, struggles to raise her on a slim pension from the church. Fearful for beautiful Cara’s future, Beula is anxious to marry her off. Rather than encourage a relationship with a local boy, Avon, she insists on a marriage to the self-centered and ill-tempered Scottish sahib, Gerard McKenzie, manager of a tea plantation near Sonari in the state of Assam.

McKenzie takes Cara to Sonari, but he never takes her in marriage.

McKenzie is both crude and cruel. Cara’s life with him provides some degree of luxury, but she is disrespected and abused. A man of little education and no tact, he eventually finds himself overwhelmed by social change, labor agitation and other changes in the tea business, and especially by the responsibilities of domestic life and fatherhood.

Cara raises three daughters. Two are her children by McKenzie. The third is the daughter of a neighboring indentured laborer named Saptamita, who has returned McKenzie’s attraction to her. However, this woman realizes that both she and the child would be better off if the girl (McKenzie’s one year old daughter) was taken into the McKenzie household and raised as Cara’s daughter.

Nina Harkness

Nina Harkness

The book’s title comes from the girl’s names, and their names come from their physical features. Saptamita’s blue-eyed child is named Sapphire; Cara’s older daughter, with her father’s flame of red hair and also his temper, is named Ruby. Her younger daughter, more diminutive and pale-eyed, is Pearl.

Cara’s relationship to each daughter is different, as are the girls’ personalities. Ms. Harkness brings us inside of Cara’s complex feelings for each. Readers share Cara’s struggles as a mother who is essentially the property of a childish, brutal man whose personal comforts are his only concern. Domestic life is a constant irritation to him, and he eventually finds his way back to Scotland, abandoning Cara and his daughters. Cara’s strength and self-sacrifice are set in sharp contrast to McKenzie’s boorish insensitivity.

With little social standing once abandoned by McKenzie, and no claims on property or income from him (beyond what he left behind) or from the British government, Cara and her three bastard daughters – like Cara herself subject to the prejudices against people of mixed race – return to Shillong. . . .

To read the entire review, as it appears in the October 9, 2014 Naples, Bonita Springs, and Punta Gorda/Port Charlotte editions of Florida Weekly, click here: Florida Weekly – Jewel Daughters

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“Southern Comfort,” by Fern Michaels

Fern Michaels is a writing machine. Best known for the Sisterhood and Godmothers series, she has over 75 million books in print and is still going strong. Though she grew up in Hastings, Pennsylvania, Ms. Michaels moved to South Carolina in 1993. She has continued to flourish as a best-selling author, adopting the American South and making it the setting for some of her recent works. Southern Comfort is not only one of her latest novels (she writes so many that several can be “new” at the same time), but perhaps also a way of talking about Fern Michaels’ relationship with her adopted home territory. 

Southern Comfort is part mystery, part romance – with the romance element trumping the mystery plot. Though essentially a novel for women, it includes several well-drawn male characters and avoids being defined as solely or merely a read for women. Set primarily in Miami and the Florida Keys, it features a mysterious mansion on Mango Key, a retired police officer who has become a best-selling author, a prominent Florida family, and a group of Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents.

One of these agents is Kate Rush, an attractive and dedicated woman who finds that she has denied too much of her personality and zest for life in the routines and petty politics of her job. The last straw is the cruel, demeaning behavior of her superior, Lawrence Tyler, whose insolence and mean-spirited manner drive her (and others) to leave the agency. Agent Tyler, son of Florida’s governor, is a man of many weaknesses and insecurities who overcompensates by bullying others. Readers wonder if he has any redeeming qualities.

Kate decides to return to her native Miami and finish up a doctorate program she has put on hold. Coincidentally, her friend and DEA coworker Sandra Martin takes a similar path and joins Kate at the University of Miami. It stretches probability and does nothing to advance the plot when both women emerge less than a year later with Ph.D. degrees. However, it does get them to Miami and within range of a DEA office that is looking into what might be a major case. . . .

To read this review in its entirety, as it appears at SouthernLitReview.com, click here: Southern Comfort, by Fern Michaels « Southern Literary Review

To find all my Southern Literary Review contributions, click here: Philip K. Jason « Southern Literary Review

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Julie Orringer’s Bridge of Words

This review appears in the January 2011 issues of Federation Star (Jewish Federation of Collier County, Florida) and L’Chayim (Jewish Federation of Lee & Charlotte Counties).

The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer.  Knopf. 624 pages. $26.95 [e-book and paperback available]

Though some critics have felt that the plot of this remarkable novel is overly contrived, I was willing to give it a break. Given its romantic elements and its concern with human destiny, the coincidences that drive the plot did not seem out of bounds. Besides, the book has so many strengths that a bit of contrivance can be forgiven. 

In dealing with Hungarian Jews living in France and then back in Hungary during WWII, and in taking us through the foreshadowing, onset, and full madness of The Holocaust in those settings and several others, Orringer does an exceptional job on many levels. She manages a wide scope of events and characters, keeping our attention on the smaller story of the key players and families while suggesting and often elaborating the larger story – the enormity of the forces that at once surround them and permeate them. Orringer’s ability to perform meticulous historical research and then refashion it into action and emotion is astounding. Her portraits of places are always richly detailed and authentic; more than merely giving us the sensory realm her characters move through, Julie Orringer reaches for and conjures the intangible, atmospherics of a place – its very spirit and soul.

The love affair between a naïve architecture student, Andras, and a somewhat older and more worldly dance instructor, Klara, is told with boldness and nuance. The young man, against all odds, has somehow been able to leave Hungary and enter a respected institute in Paris. The thirtyish woman, with a daughter old enough to be the student’s girl friend, is also Hungarian. She has been living in Parisian exile for reasons that have to do with her past. Orringer manages the ways in which their relationship builds, ebbs, and flows with great mastery of the processes of the heart.

Eventually, both must return to Hungary – just when Hungary is increasingly subject to Hitler’s sway. The young man is impressed into a Jewish forced labor unit that supports the Hungarian army. The woman and her family struggle through the extreme deprivations of a city under siege, while the man is literally enslaved. Orringer’s descriptions of the physical tortures that the youth endures through frozen, virtually foodless months are harrowing. Andras is reduced to being a beast of burden, and then reduced to less than that. Klara’s anguish is physically less severe, but the psychological torment of both is profoundly agonizing.

Orringer is at her best in showing how each of the two major characters, the lovers, is measured against the other. In lives so beaten down, in situations so desperate, can there be a spark that allows a relationship to flourish on any level? When you are numb, exhausted, bewildered, dehumanized – can you still care and still give? The author weaves these questions through scenes of despair and hope.

The Invisible Bridge, a book of epic scope and power, redeems its horrifying subject matter with astonishing compassion and literary grace. For obvious reasons, including its length, it is sometimes a difficult book to keep reading. However, stay with it. The arduous journey has many rewards.

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Jean Harrington’s “Lion” of a Book

Published in the Sept.-Oct. 2009 issue of Fort Myers Magazine.

Click here: Ft.Myers magazine – Jean Harrington

What Naples author Jean Harrington does so well is provide a fully-textured sense of place.  In the Lion’s Mouth (from Highland Press) is set in Ireland, England, and the colonies of Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the late 1660s. As we follow Harrington’s colorful characters, we encounter the details of clothing, diet and food preparation, rural and urban dwelling places, weaponry, and sailing vessels. We can’t be sure that Harrington is accurate, but she does create verisimilitude.  The abundance of consistent detail makes the world she builds credible. Her characters inhabit it plausibly, and as we believe in them, we believe in their experiences and vicariously share the sensory dimensions of their lives. On these grounds alone, In the Lion’s Mouth is worthy of commendation.IntheLion'sMouth-HighRes

However, much else is accomplished. Harrington dazzles us with the lure of the New World – its vast expanse, its promises of freedom, self-reliance, and opportunity. She also gives us the historical realities of European encroachment on the lands of others, pettiness and greed, and the long arm of English rule.

Against this background, Harrington continues the story of Grace O’Malley and Owen O’Donnell , whom readers first met in The Barefoot Queen. The plight of these two lovers, now married, grows out of the English exploitation of the Irish and particularly the English usurpation of Irish ancestral lands. The haughty and villainous Lord Rushmount is the local landholder in Grace’s and Owen’s corner of Ireland. Grace, like her father before her, has defied him in many ways. When family and friends were perishing from lack of food, Grace took it upon herself to become a deer poacher – and thus a criminal. It’s one thing for a young woman to be at the mercy of a tyrant; it’s something more when that tyrant is obsessed with that shapely woman’s beauty and fire. Grace’s copper-red hair is the symbol of her fiery spirit, both of which Rushmount is driven to possess. Grace has rebuffed his advances and given herself to the handsome, though crippled, Owen. Like Grace, Owen seeks justice for his people. But he and his wife are outlaws, or at least enemies of authority, who must escape Rushmount’s mixture of lust, wrath, and vengeance. They must put Ireland, friends, and family behind them.

As they journey from home to Galway, Cork City, and Dublin, hoping to book passage across the Atlantic, Grace and Owen are regularly threatened by Rushmount. They discover that Liverpool is the closest place to embark on such a journey, and though they don’t wish to spend time in England (the “Lion” of the title), it seems a necessity.  They are delayed there for many months, during which Rushmount puts Grace in a compromising position that she feels she must not reveal to Owen.

Harrington’s narration of the Atlantic crossing aboard the “Seafarer” is masterful. Her verbal art breathes life into the character of the vessel, the living conditions, the ravages of bad food and severe storms, the ebbs and flows of despair and determination, and the ecstatic and bewildering arrival of the young couple to Newport harbor. Of course, the demonic Rushmount is there as well, having made the crossing to serve as a Tax Collector for His Majesty.

Finally, Grace and Owen reach their desired destination – the combined colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantation. Harrington involves them with her versions of the historical Roger Williams, founder of these colonies, and Canonchet, the legendary Narragansett chief. Harrington’s treatment of these relationships emphasizes Williams’ respect for the Native Americans and his insistence that their lands may not be taken: they must be fairly paid for. Jean Harrington imagines that a man with Williams’ philosophical pedigree would fully honor the concept of religious freedom and offer the utmost hospitality to the Irish Catholic newcomers.

Before reaching Providence, the young couple meets Absalom, the Narragansett leader who is an adopted son both of Canonchet and Williams. His upbringing has shaped him to be the ideal bridge between the two peoples, leaving him at the same time a man divided. He is also the Noble Savage par excellence, extremely helpful to Grace and Owen in their land clearing, planting, and other pursuits in their new environment. Absalom, however, is no exception to the rule that a man with a pulse will fall for (and maybe from) Grace.

The strains on the marriage, the delights and hardships of Providence, the contrasts developed among Owen, Rushmount (always nearby), and Absalom propel the later chapters of the novel through many suspenseful twists and turns.

Like any good writer of historical fiction, this former college teacher of literature and writing is a good researcher. Using the internet, Harrington found information on the chronologies of English rulers, key historical events and issues in successive reigns, period dress, the evolution of Irish law, and much else.

She writes, “One of the most interesting research sites was the Narragansett Indian web site.  It was a mine of information about sachem succession, planting, food preparation, clothing, house construction, marriage customs, tribal lore. For basic information, or to check facts found on the web, I often turned to the library for verification.  For example, a book on jewelry design there helped me to describe how Owen might have crafted the ring he gives to Grace.   And believe it or not, the children’s section of the library with its illustrated cutaway line drawings of sailing vessels made the internal workings of an ocean-going ship of the period clear to this land lubber.”

 Since most of the available material on clothing and furnishing concerns the aristocracy, Harrington needed to dig deeper to glean similar information about the peasant class. She sought out “tales of descendants and Irish buffs who had much to tell of their forebears’ hardships.”

photo by Martin Miron

photo by Martin Miron

In blending research, imagination, and a nuanced yet highly accessible style, Jean Harrington has fashioned a compelling, earthy, and exciting romance that never flags. In the Lion’s Mouth brings us vigorous, passionate characters leading their lives against the perfectly realized backdrop of a changing world.

See also:

 https://philjason.wordpress.com/2008/03/06/book-beat-65-jean-harrington/

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BOOK BEAT 65 – Jean Harrington

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   March 6, 2008

by Philip K. Jason

Jean Harrington has been a stalwart member of the Southwest Florida chapter of Romance Writers of America for many years. In fact, she served two terms as president. The glow of success has shown brightly on many members of this productive chapter. Now it is Harrington’s turn to shine. This Naples resident (since 1993) has come up with a rip-roaring, feisty heroine in her first novel, “The Barefoot Queen.” Fiery Grace O’Malley should have a long life ahead of her in fiction. Great granddaughter of a pirate queen who once “savaged the whole English fleet,” young Grace has inherited her ancestor’s rebellious streak and courage, as well as her Irish pride. 

We meet the gorgeous teenager, with her “mane of gold-red hair,” immediately after the death of her father, who has just been hung by Lord Rushmount’s men for poaching deer. The scene introduces us to the conditions of late seventeenth century Ireland, suffering under the exploitation of England and of English landholders who have usurped Irish property rights. A vain and cruel landlord, Rushmount stands for the unabashedly ruthless English ruling class. Grace’s father had found the courage to risk his life so that others might have food.

But Grace’s brother, Liam, a man only too practical and sensible, will not cut him down from the hanging tree for a proper burial and thereby risk his own life. Grace is outraged at her brother, but finds solace in the actions of the village blacksmith, Owen O’Donnell, who defies Rushmount by cutting down Grace’s “Da” and secretly burying him. 

Such timely heroism only supercharges Grace’s admiration and attraction for Owen, who over and over (with a few notable exceptions) rebuffs her bold advances. Because his self-esteem in matters of romance has suffered from the consequences of an accident that has left him with one leg crippled and withered, Owen fights down his longing for Grace and tells himself that he cannot be a proper mate for her. Grace herself feels quite otherwise, and a major interest in the story grows out of this troubled romance.

Grace, of course, has been pursued by many suitors. Among these is “Young Con” Mann, son of Rushmount’s estate manager. The elder Connor Mann had renounced his Catholic faith during the Puritan Commonwealth in order to maintain his holdings, but he is now (in 1665) dependent on the good will of Rushmount during the Restoration period that followed Oliver Cromwell’s purges. The dull-witted “Young Con” would provide a relatively safe situation for Grace, who cannot as a young woman live on her own and who is being pushed out of the tiny family home by Liam’s marriage to Brigit, who is soon pregnant. But Grace is not one to seek only safety and to deny her heart.

To complicate matters even further, Lord Rushmount himself, frustrated in his recent marriage and dazzled by the village beauty, has his eyes on Grace. He would seemingly do anything to have his way with her – and she would be helpless to resist.

But wait, there is more:  Grace herself has followed in her father’s footsteps and turned poacher in order to relieve the excruciating poverty and hunger that devolves from Rushmount’s abuses of power.

In the end, it is Grace’s fearless sense of justice that dominates Jean Harrington’s achievement. Not always mindful of consequences, Grace’s bold actions threaten to bring more harm than good, but she cannot – as her brother Liam can – weigh things in the balance when her heart is committed to a sense of righteous action.

Jean Harrington has done a fine job of bringing knotty historical issues down to the flesh and blood lives of individuals. And with Grace O’Malley, a young woman whose adventures often find her lifting her skirts to her knees or getting them tangled in her legs or washing away the blood of butchered deer, she has devised a vital spirit ready to challenge any influential young actress prepared to buy the film rights.

“The Barefoot Queen” is published by Highland Press. More about the author is available at her website: jeanharrington.com.

 

See also: https://philjason.wordpress.com/2009/09/05/jean-harringtons-lion-of-a-book/

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BOOK BEAT 28 – Julie Palella

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times January 24-30, 2007

by Philip K. Jason

Once San Jose native Julie Palella began reading, she never stopped!  After moving to several states during her childhood, she began to write short stories. Her first full length novel, MacGregor’s Curse, completed later in life, collected dust for quite a while before publication. Her second published novel, Whispers by the Sea, was picked up – like the first – by a small publisher. Being in sales most of her life, Julie knew that her writings would not make much of a impact unless she attended to the necessary business of marketing – and more marketing. 

Her marketing efforts paid off when a high profile agency became interested in another one of her manuscripts – a thriller set in Naples. Julie hopes that the agency will sell this thriller to a large trade house. The sequel is underway. Julie is fortunate to have three siblings, all obsessive readers, who offer lots of feedback on her work. Her husband, Michael, is extremely supportive of her writing career, and her daughter, Rosalynn, is also a writer. 

PKJ: How did you get interested in making Ireland and Scotland the settings for your first two novels?JP: I received a diary from an ancestor of mine that was passed down through the centuries from my mother’s side of the family. Her name was Lottie Hunter and she lived in the Highlands during the turbulent 13th century. A lot of it is hard to read, but I got the dialect from her in her writings and the sense of fear that the clans felt. A lot of the sentences are in Gaelic, but some are in English, with the dialect. This started MacGregor’s Curse. The things she wrote were so natural and just a part of her every day life, and, to me, it would be almost impossible to carry on and endure the hardships. I wondered if a modern day woman could actually do it. The character pretty much walked me through that one, and I started to find strength in human nature and the will to survive as my character, Elizabeth, took me along her journey. Although she suffers in the book (some fan mail that suggests she suffers a bit too much), I tried to make it as realistic as possible.

My grandfather is 100% Irish and comes from Brittas Bay, Ireland. I studied his family and the land and thought it fascinating. Although Whispers by the Sea is contemporary, there is so much tradition that the Irish still follow that I couldn’t resist throwing an American woman into a small town to see how she’d fit in. 

PKJ: What kind of research do you perform to give historical narratives authenticity?JP: The Internet is extremely helpful visually, and I print a lot of things out to get an idea of clothing, settings, etc. Research is actually my worse enemy. I spend so much time researching and find it so fascinating that I literally have to tell myself to stop and that enough is enough. I needed more of the dialect for MacGregor’s Curse, so I watched Braveheart a lot and Rob Roy and just kind of worked it in. Dialect is hard because you can’t use too much of it or the book is just too hard to read and you can’t really “hear” the characters because you are too distracted by the dialect. I only used that in MacGregor’s Curse, and although I have a few Irish words in Whispers by the Sea, it is just assumed that they have an Irish accent. The local library is my favorite hang-out. That is where I do most of my research before starting any novel.

PKJ: Who are some of your favorite writers?JP: Dean Koontz, Stephen King, John Saul, Peter Straub.  Now, I know you are thinking: Why are you writing romance? There’s a reason for that. For women writers, it’s much easier to get into the romance genre than the thriller genre. Now that I have these two books out, I’m currently in the editing process of a thriller . . . and I have an agent for this one. My true love is mystery/thriller.
 
PKJ: Have you found networking and support groups valuable?

JP: Absolutely! In my opinion if you want to get anywhere in the writing world it is imperative to network.  Support groups are helpful with editing, critiquing and just how it sounds….support. The Southwest Florida Romance Writers (our local RWA chapter) has been extremely valuable to me. I’ve made some great friends and they are all supportive.  It’s too easy to give up without people urging you on, and when you need help, they are there, giving you advice and pushing you along. I couldn’t do it without them.

Julie Palella is the new president of the Southwest Florida Romance Writers group.  Anyone interested in joining SWFRW can reach her at Julie@lynxpm.com or visit the website swfrw.org. That site contains information about the group’s upcoming “Author & Agent Day,” February 10, at the Grandezza Country Club in Estero. Guest speakers will be mystery series writer Hallie Ephron and literary agent Christina Hogrebe.

 Julie’s books are available from online booksellers and via her website: juliepalella.com.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at pjason@aol.com.

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BOOK BEAT 23 – Marilyn Grant Hall

BOOK BEAT   Naples Sun Times   December 20-26, 2006

by Philip K. Jason

When Marilyn Grant Hall was a young girl growing up in Vancouver, she was fascinated by the stories of the noble Scottish family from which she had sprung. As a teenager, several visits to Scotland allowed her to become familiar with the domain of her ancestor, the Earl of Seafield, who was once Chancellor of Scotland. Visits to Cullen House and Castle Grant brought her into contact with relatives who were the heirs to these great estates that are part of Scotland’s glorious past. Over and over, Marilyn heard stories of the indomitable courage of her Scots forebears, especially during the time of Bonnie Prince Charles’s failed attempt to reclaim the Scottish and English thrones for the House of Stuart. After imagining and re-imagining it for decades, Marilyn Grant Hall finally concluded her task of recapturing the turmoil and valor of the times in her sprawling historical novel, Tartan Thunder.

Part of what made the novel possible was the encouragement of relatives who gave her full access to private libraries holding important records, including journals and letters dating back to 1746. These resources, as well as repeated visits to key sites, allowed Marilyn to graft her imagination upon a clear understanding of the history itself, and especially on its effect upon real individuals, families, and clans. Indeed, the novel focuses on the cruel English reprisals after the Scots defeat at Culloden (Marilyn has toured the battlefield). The novel also alerts readers to the uniqueness and importance of Scotland’s clan structure and of the English determination to destroy the clans.

As a young woman, Marilyn moved to San Francisco, soon afterwards determining to become a U. S. citizen. Her dedication to the goal of writing this novel stayed with her, but its completion was postponed many decades. She was busy living life, a life shaped for many years by a husband’s career in the film industry. About ten years ago, Marilyn contracted multiple sclerosis. The disease affected her mobility, but not her ability to continue planning the fictional version of her ancestors’ world. About four years ago, she made the full commitment to this project, and it was finally published by Authorhouse just about a year ago.

Tartan Thunder is built upon a series of passionate romances, a flood of action, and a theme of divided and sometimes confused loyalties. In the Royalist’s defeat of the Jacobite uprising, affiliated clans sometimes turned against one another, other clans were wracked by internal conflicts, and even family households were torn apart by one or another individual’s real or suspected sympathies with “the enemy.” A second act takes place in the port at Bristol, as the fugitives from English punishment prepare to set sail for that new frontier across the ocean – North America. Readers are left to imagine these characters’ attempts to make new lives for themselves, without all the advantages of wealth and titles.

The author has assembled an imposing cast of personages through which to tell her tale. Handsome warriors, gorgeous ladies, menacing villains, the spice of sex, and a sure crafting of action and setting make this first novel a good bet for screen treatment. In fact, Marilyn has held onto the media rights and hopes to find investors who will help her do just that – bring the novel to the movie screen. 

.I met this vivacious newcomer to Naples at The Carlisle, where she has resided for the last half year since relocating from Palm Desert, California. As we spoke, I couldn’t help but be moved by her enthusiasm for the glories of the past that she has successfully portrayed. Marilyn Grant Hall is so thoroughly infected by the writer’s bug that she has already ready begun working on a sequel called Tartan Passage.

Tartan Thunder is available from authorhouse.com as well as from online booksellers. Autographed copies can be obtained from the author by contacting her at (239) 514-8265.

Philip K. Jason, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of English from the United States Naval Academy. A poet, critic, and free-lance writer with twenty books to his credit, this “Dr. Phil” chairs the annual Naples Writers’ Conference presented by the Naples Press Club. Send him your book news at pjason@aol.com.

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