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7 May 2010

Virtual Book Tour - Jean Hart-Stewart

I love interviewing other authors and finding more about them and their writing process. Today I am happy to welcome Jean Hart Steward on the fifth day of her Goddess Fish virtual book tour.

HL Over to you then Jean. First of all, tell us about yourself

JHS I’m not good at talking about myself. Basically shy, but love to get to know people if they’ll let me ask the questions. The most striking fact in any biography I write is that my father was killed by a golf ball when I was six. My rather sheltered mother was forced to work and her teaching hours were longer than mine. I was forbidden to leave the house until she got home, so I became an avid reader even then. To me it was just a fact of life, but others seem interested. I’ve dabbled at writing ever since I can remember. Did any of you develop an early interest in reading? I love to know how people started reading.

HL: Gosh that's a sad memory from childhood, but like you, I learnt to read early ad have never looked back. So what do you do for fun when not writing?

JHS: Read, naturally. Play computer games. Watch TV but not much, don’t have time. Listen to music.

HL: . Going back to your early life, when did you start writing and what inspired you to start?

Wrote my first novel at twelve. Wish I still had it so I could wince at how terrible it must have been. The only thing I remember about it is the heroine was named Aurora and I thought I was terribly original. I don’t think I had any startling inspiration to write. I’ve always scribbled at something and did some writing on every job I held.

HL: I think a lot of us would say that we have scribbled away at every opportunity, LOL! What made you decide to write historical novels and how do you go about your research?

JHS: I was fascinated very early with King Arthur and his gallant knights. Then I read Jane Austin and that did it. I research like crazy for every book. Mostly on the web but sometimes books of history. I don’t start right until I’ve researched the period, since that’s an integral part of the characters. Sometimes I have an idea for the opening lines, but don’t work at it until I know the era.

HL: I think that's the wonderful thing about history, the research is so fascinating. I too love Jane Austin and the Arthurian legends. So can you tell the readers, what comes first: the plot or the characters?

JHS: That’s a hard one. On the whole, I’d say the characters, although I envision them in some setting that turns out to be basic to the plot. Don’t think I can really pin it down. It’s all an evolutionary process.

HL: Can you tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it

JHS: Now here’s a question I can answer. The Third Rose is the book of my heart. Out of all the books I’ve published this one is dearest to me. Wolf and Sara have a hard time finding their love, as spies, codes, a nasty villain, and the Battle of Waterloo get in the way. I did more research for this book than any I’ve ever written. Essentially it’s a sensual love story, with so many obstacles you wonder if they’re ever going to make it. Of course they do, but getting there is fun.

HL: Oh that book of our heart. We all have one don't we! And we pour our heart and soul into it. The Third Rose sounds really intriguing. If someone were to play one of your characters in a movie, which character and what actor would it be and why?

JHS: Wolf, in The Third Rose. I’d say Clark Gable if he were alive. Wolf is big, sexy, completely in control until he meets Sara. Kinda like Rhett Butler. Or the gorgeous Hugh Jackman. Now there’s a guy who can be cast in the hero role in any of my books.

HL: Mmm, I like both those characters, good choice! If you were to be reincarnated as an animal, which one would you like it to be, and why?

Not enamored of the idea, but I guess a cat. I admire their independence and ability to survive. Also I love their slightly veiled contempt for humans.

HL: What’s you’re writing process? Has it changed since writing your first book?

JHS: I wake every night between 2 and 4 and work on whatever plot problem is bothering me. In the morning I try to retrieve at least one of the solutions I came up with, but I can’t get to it generally ‘til later. Promo, duties. etc.,ugh. Around three I settle down to write and except for a dinner break work until I go to bed. The only change in schedule since started is more time to promo. Come to think of it, more time to writing too since my head is more concentrated since I was first published. Having an editor waiting for a book is a great spur.

HLE: Isn't it just! Ok, here's another question I love to ask fellow authors. What have you learned about writing since you were published that surprised you the most?

JHS: Another easy one. I didn’t dream it was up to the author to push so much. Wish that weren’t so, but it is.

HL: *Sigh* I couldn't agree with you more, Jean. Well sadly we've reached the end of the interview. I've really enjoyed having you as my guest, thank you so much. Before you leave us, could you just tell us where we can purchase your books?

JHS: Excerpts and links for my books can be found at my website, http://www.jeanhartstewart.com/. So visit and see all the covers and read the excerpts. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace. My druid and mage e-books are available at Cerridwen Press,http://www.ellorascave.com/ and The Third Rose at Red Rose publishing. http://draft.blogger.com/goog_673184878com.

Thanks again, Jean.

Now let's enjoy a brief taste of 'The Third Rose'.

When Sara Coverly hides in Lord Wolverton’s bedroom to avenge him for the rape of her friend, she is determined to shoot him so he can never ruin another female. Instead she finds herself wondering if she’s picked the wrong man! Wolf decides he needs a token fiancĂ©e to cover his tracks as he searches for a spy, and soon Sara finds herself helping him. And falling deeply in love.

Wolf’s espionage duties bring danger to them both. When he
decodes a message threatening the assassination of Wellington at Waterloo, they both set out for Brussels to catch the villain.

Can their growing love endure through war, a desperate villain who is out to stop them, and Wolf’s determination to save Wellington at any cost?

Here’s the opening pages in The Third Rose

At last. The bastard had come home. He must have lit more candles, as the room became brighter. She could see a large man, elegantly dressed, stride across the room. Double drat! He moved out of her vision, and she did not dare part the draperies any further. She waited, breath suspended, as he re-appeared and sat on the bed. He arched one long muscled leg, bending over to tug at his boot. His face was in shadow, but his build was powerful, that of a more than adequate sportsman. His size didn’t worry her. A gun was a great equalizer.

He meant to take his boots off himself? She was surprised he didn’t require his valet to wait up for him. An unusual bit of consideration for a servant, one she’d not expected. She’d thought she’d have to stay hidden until the valet had come and gone. Perhaps this was better, since at least he was decently clothed. Not that she’d let any missish tendencies deter her. Actually seeing a large nude male might be educational.

Now was the time.

She cocked the gun and stepped out in front of him, the barrel pointed directly at him.

“You will please rise, my lord. I do not intend to shoot a seated villain.” She felt pride in the composure of her voice. She’d worried a little about that.

Wolverton did not appear unduly upset, although his eyebrows arched upward. He bent the long leg stretched on the bed and clasped both hands around his knee.

“A woman. How interesting. I admit you make a very fetching young man dressed in those breeches, but your voice is definitely female. Might I inquire why you have your gun pointed at me?”

She had to give him his due. His tone seemed as cool as hers, and she certainly must have been a nasty surprise. Although come to think of it, he probably often found women accosting him in his bedchamber. But surely for more pleasurable purposes, cad that he was.

“Stand up, my lord.”

Neither her voice nor the hand holding the gun on him wavered, as Joshua Sinclair, Earl of Wolverton, slowly placed both his boots on the luxurious Aubusson carpet and rose to his feet.

“Is there anything I can do for you, madam?” he inquired, as politely as if he were asking her if she took milk with her tea.

She shook her head slowly, carefully lowering the gun a trifle. What a shame he was such a handsome devil, but then she should have expected no less from a despoiler of virgins.

She was pleased to see him blanch a little as he realized where she aimed.

“Can I persuade you to raise your gun a little? I don’t mind being shot in the chest nearly as much as if you hit the most valued part of my anatomy.”

Again she gave him credit. He seemed remarkably self- possessed; no pleading, no ranting, just civilized conversation. As if they were at a blasted tea.

“I am aiming precisely where I wish to, my lord. And I’m a good shot. You will ruin no more girls like Samantha.”

At this his eyebrows did fly up. Lovely thick dark eyebrows that matched his shock of slightly tousled hair.

“Madam, might we discuss this? I know no Samantha, nor do I think I’ve ever met a female named Samantha.”

He sounded so sincere. Probably any other woman, one not so knowledgeable of men and their deceitful natures, would believe him.

“Samantha Browning. The vicar’s daughter you forced to your will in the copse by the road three months ago. Or do you rape so many women you forget all their names? I’d not waste time talking except I want you to realize why you are about to be maimed.”

His eyes, a clear candid gray, remained on hers. He confronted her without hesitation, his air of controlled power commanding her to face him just as directly.

“I can easily prove I wasn’t even in the country three months ago. Wellington asked me to come to Vienna during the Congress of Vienna. Actually, I rather resent such an accusation. I have many faults, but ravishing unwilling females is not one of them.”

For the first time her gun wavered. Those sincere eyes almost made her doubt. But then of course he knew how to be convincing. Practiced seducers always were.

“You told her you fought with Wellington. You also gave her your name, Lord Wolverton.” Her tone once again accused him, but his eyes did not leave hers.

“Blessed hell,” he said quietly. “It’s an acquaintance of mine then.”

He stood silent, his eyes hooded as he seemed lost in thought. Definitely not the way a guilty man would act. For the first time she felt a whisper of hesitation. Why didn’t he show even a slight sign of culpability?

“Did she give you a description?” he questioned. “Does that also match?”

“She mentioned a few details. She said you were dark-haired, good-looking, and well-dressed. And spoke like a nobleman. Oh yes, she said you were of average build.” Her voice faltered on the last few words.
Those sable brows quirked upward again, as he softly challenged her.

“And am I of average size, in your considered viewpoint, madam?”

She flushed as she looked at him. He loomed over her, an impressive male. Well over six feet and athletically honed. No one could have a doubt the body beneath those elegant clothes was fit and muscular. He exuded the animal magnetism she’d expected, but no one could call him average. In fact she’d never seen a more un-average man. He was a superb example of masculinity.

Her breath stalled.

She strove to recollect what Samantha had said. I could not fight him off, although I struggled as hard as I could. I was surprised because he’d not seemed that strong.

Something didn’t match. No one, not even an innocent such as Samantha, could be surprised if this outstanding physical specimen proved overpowering. She remained silent for a long moment.

He spoke gently. “May I persuade you to tell me the whole story? I think you’ll feel badly if you geld the wrong man.”

She hesitated once again, trying to think what to do. The hesitation proved a mistake. He moved so quickly she was only conscious of a blur of motion, rather like a panther pouncing on a gazelle. Suddenly he stood beside her, holding her arm with one strong hand, and her gun in the other. He not only moved like a huge cat, but as quietly. His hand was a warm bronze color, doubtless a reminder of the Peninsula. Long, fingers capable of unusual power gleamed. She stared at them as if mesmerized.

How would they feel like caressing my cheek? And maybe other parts of me?

“I’ll be more than happy to discuss this matter with you, madam. Shall we both be seated?”
His voice remained calm and not at all angry, but it had taken on a steely quality. She took a deep breath and inhaled a scent of brandy and man, with a touch of lemony cologne. This, this male completely overset her. His invasive aroma did little for her quivering nerves.

How had he moved so quickly, as big as he was?

He stepped away and she felt the room wasn’t quite so airless. She could breathe again.

He checked the gun with a warrior’s expert touch.

“Do you mind if I uncock this?” His tone sounded somewhat amused. “I am thankful it doesn’t appear to have a hair trigger. If I’d known that I wouldn’t have been quite so apprehensive. You did have me concerned, considering where you were aiming.”

Sara’s legs wobbled and she sat down abruptly on the nearest chair, Blast his composure. He’d not revealed a smidgen of anything but being in complete control. Of himself, and the whole situation. She hated his dratted calm.

“Shall we sit over here by the fire? I want the whole story, my dear lady, with nothing held back. I have the right, I think you’ll agree.”

Now no amusement remained in his voice. He sounded like the arrogant lord she knew he was, and quite determined to have every detail. His implacable gaze never left her suddenly flushed face. She could easily see why his friends called him Wolf.

He held the gun in his large hand, pointing it at the floor, but she still resented the inherent menace. In fact her temper mounted. How unfair that a sizable male, simply by virtue of physical strength, could overpower a female with justice on her side? Men held so many advantages, and mostly undeserved.

She sucked in her lower lip as she debated what to say. Still it would be best to go along with him for the moment. After all, he held the gun. Worse, he had the power to turn her over to the authorities for housebreaking, attempted murder, or whatever charge he chose. Her word would be nothing against an Earl’s.

She moved grudgingly to one of the large red velvet chairs flanking the fireplace while he took the other. She noticed for the first time that the room held only pieces to accommodate his large frame, and that the red furnishings and dark furniture were tastefully luxurious. At any other time she’d think it an appealing room.
Lord Wolverton’s eyes held both amusement and caution. In spite of the fact he now held her own gun on her, he could feel the indignation coming off her in waves.

“You do owe me an explanation, my nameless visitor. Ladies with cultured voices and a certain grace of bearing don’t commonly try to shoot a man in a treasured section of his anatomy. Among other things I’d like to know how you gained access to my bedchamber. I doubt my butler admitted you. He’d be properly shocked at any well-bred female wanting in my rooms at such a scandalous hour, and especially one dressed as a male.”

Sara longed to slap him for his continuing humor. Drat it all, the man had almost been unsexed! And he’d never turned a hair.

Jean will be giving away a The Third Rose T-shirt to one randomly drawn commenter. To follow the rest of Jean's blog tour (and get more chances to win), please visit Jean on her other blogspots, listed below:

May 11 Author Chris Redding
May 12 The Bibliophilic Book Blog
May 13 Amber Scott Project
May 14 Poisoned Rationality
May 17 Author K.J. Roberts
May 18 Jacqueline Paige
May 19 Hope. Dreams. Life... Love
May 20 Book Junkie
May 21 You Gotta Read
May 24 A Journey of Books
May 25 Nicole Zoltack
May 26 Donica's Place
May 27 Nikki Duncan
May 28 Long Live Chick Lit