Love sizzles with passion when two worlds collide, but can it survive? Michael’s road from poverty to riches is rough: charisma and talent versus pride. Lizzie, daughter of a wealthy Scottish laird, inherits Margaret Tudor’s diary. It contains the command to “find love where ye may”, and that she must pass the book to a daughter conceived in love. Lizzie is determined to see Michael succeed, but is the promise she makes to him too high a price to pay?
“Find love where ye may.” We like that. Tell us more. What happens next?
Eighteen years later, the relationship is challenged by their adult daughter. Lisette adores “The Diamond Superstar” and sees the royal command as permission to set a trap for Michael and indulge her forbidden love. One night of passion results in pregnancy, and the paparazzi are already suspicious of the father and daughter who play lovers onstage. Margaret Tudor succeeded in hiding the birth of an illegitimate baby from a king in the sixteenth century, but can Lizzie hide the next royal heiress from modern bureaucracy? Does she love Michael and Lisette enough to forgive them and try?
What genre is this?
What kind of readers will it appeal to?
Those that like fast-paced, character-driven stories featuring the West End stage, the Scottish Highlands, a soupçon of history, and aren’t offended by sizzling sex scenes.
Is anyone offended by sizzling sex scenes?
Tell us about your main characters.
Michael is the pivotal character – the Royal Command series revolves around him from the prologue in Dangerous Liaisons where he’s a boy of seven who sees his father die rescuing a child from a hit and run driver as they leave a theatre, through his disastrous “once” with Lisette, and then the murder of his beloved wife, Lizzie, to his love for Evie in Sweet Temptation. He’s a Catholic with a conscience, talented, and charismatic, though suffering from nerves before premieres has terrible consequences for them all.
What about Lizzie?
Lizzie, daughter of a Scottish laird, is feisty and prepared to do anything to see Michael succeed, and she follows the command to find love that Margaret Tudor records in her secret diary, which isn’t as innocent as Lizzie believes. Taking a lover sounds romantic when the young queen was married to a king who wanted an heir and had mistresses, but to do it whilst married to a reigning monarch was treason punishable by death.
Lisette is Michael and Lizzie’s eldest child, a superstar in the making who reads Queen Margaret’s command, and is influenced yet more by the queen’s illegitimate, vengeful, and manipulative granddaughter.
How much of you – or the person you wish you were – is in your main characters?
Nothing, except a little of Evie in Sweet Temptation. I’d love to be able to sing like Lisette, but my limit is writing songs. Lizzie is anti-blood-sports, but that was deliberate; I used her to put across something I feel very strongly about – I donate all my royalties to charities helping endangered species worldwide.
All of it? That’s really admirable.
So what other books have you written?
Illicit Passion: The Consequences of Seduction
Dynasty of Deceit: Margaret Tudor’s Legacy of Forbidden Love
Sweet Temptation: The Agony and the Ecstasy of Passion
Yes, we need to talk about Sweet Temptation
It was the hardest book of the four to write because it featured quite a lot I’d rather have forgotten – readers will guess what I mean easily. The reason is to be third in the Read Freely Top 50 is down to readers’ votes. That meant more even than awards judged by professionals.
The competition is always really fierce. You should be proud of what you achieved.
Many readers obviously love your books, and we guess they’re curious about you. What do they need to know?
Mother, foster-mother, student landlady, adult literacy tutor, and wallpaper… sorry, good listener. Wallpaper is actually a better description in the theatre. Nobody – producers, directors, stagehands, choreographers, wardrobe mistresses, or actors and actresses – feel threatened by a dog handler sitting quietly in the wings, which is why the West End musicals in my books give authentic glimpses of life backstage. I have the Northern Ballet’s generosity, letting me sit in on dress rehearsals, to thank for front-of-house accuracy.
I’ve travelled a lot too. Everywhere in the UK, Europe, and America featured in my books are places I’ve visited. I absorb atmosphere and people-watch, and my husband videos everything and collects leaflets. Neither of us like organised trips, so we do tend to see places as they really are not the tourist haunts.
We’re guessing you’re a voracious reader too. What are you reading at the moment?
A book for Readers’ Favorite I’m not allowed to talk about. The reviews are only published if they’re 4 or 5 stars and this one isn’t.
Ouch. What book can you talk about? What’s your guilty pleasure?
Dick Francis. I have copies of all his books in hardback and on my Kindle.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote as a child? Would it be too embarrassing to tell us what it was about?
I still have it in a cupboard somewhere. It was about a child who wished for a pony, it was 3,000 words long, and the only good thing about it was it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. It was set in Ireland amongst “the bare rugged hills”: needless to say, I’d never been to Ireland.
How do you write – in a coffee shop? for hours at a stretch? on your phone? first thing in the morning?
Non-stop, almost. I start in bed in the morning, carry my laptop downstairs, and then do as I’ve done right now: bring it child-sitting. That’s the actual keyboard tapping. I do most of my thinking walking the dog, and I get my best ideas if we’re beside the river.
Do you have a website?
No. I used to, but I found it too time-consuming.
Oh, so where can we follow you online?
How do you get ideas for your books?
The Royal Command books began with an accident. I’d been shopping, called at a village pub on the way home to make a booking for Sunday lunch, and the only other customer present turned around, not having heard me come in, and almost knocked me off my feet. Not very inspirational? It is when the man turns out to be an international star of stage and screen. It was he who told me he spent too much time abroad on tour and neglected his family. His marriage ended in divorce, but I started thinking “suppose a marriage like that lasted no matter what”.
Links to the other books in the series:
Here’s a game we like to play with authors: we give you 4 random words – handcuffs, garden, car, anniversary – and you give us a story outline.
The horrendous bill for the garden party to celebrate their silver wedding anniversary was the final straw for Jack. Betty had spent twenty-five years complaining. This time, it was that the patio hadn’t been large enough to accommodate all the guests. The extra six feet Betty demanded was the perfect size to bury her body, and he’d have got away with murder but for a nosy neighbour. Thanks to her, he left home in a police car wearing handcuffs.
What’s next for you?
I’m writing a book called Three Against the World.
What’s it about?
Richard Carpenter is woken by a burglar, finds out he’s been made redundant, and is ditched by his fiancée. As if that wasn’t enough for one Monday, his ex-wife dumps a daughter he didn’t know he had on his doorstep.
I hope to publish it this summer, and it will be launched by Read Freely so check your daily newsletters.