RITA award winner and USA Today bestselling author Jennifer Ashley's historical, HIGHLANDER EVER AFTER, is now out! Jennifer's book is the third in the Nvengaria series and features Egan from THE MAD, BAD DUKE.
Egan MacDonald was the one person Princess Zarabeth couldn’t read. Yet even without being able hear his thoughts, she knew he was the most honorable, infuriating, and deliciously handsome man she’d ever met. And now her life was in his hands. Chased out of her native country by bitter betrayal and a bevy of assassins, Zarabeth found refuge at the remote MacDonald castle and a haven in Egan’s embrace. She also found an ancient curse, a matchmaking nephew, a pair of debutantes eager to drag her protector to the altar, and dark secrets in Egan’s past. But even amid all the danger raged a desire too powerful to be denied...
I recently spent a few minutes asking Jennifer about her latest release (after drooling over the verra nice cover!)
1) Tell me about Highlander Ever After. Why a princess as a heroine?
Highlander Ever After is the story of Egan MacDonald and the young woman he loved and lost years ago. She can read minds--all but Egan's, which drives her nuts! She has to retreat to his remote Scottish castle for protection, and being in close quarters with Egan is a challenge. They still love each other, but now that love is forbidden. Zarabeth also discovers a darkness in Egan's past that he's desperately trying to keep from tearing him apart. Zarabeth is sort of a princess.
She's related to the royal family of Nvengaria, and her title is "princess," but she's not royal herself. In Nvengaria (my fictional Eastern European country), the sons and daughters of dukes were called dukes and duchesses (unlike in England where only the oldest male heir inherits the title), so you could be several times removed from the title and still be called "duke." Zarabeth's father, Prince Olaf, is tenth in line for the throne, and Zarabeth takes her "princess" title from him.
Why a foreign princess? I thought it would be fun. I like showing a different perspective of societal rules of the Regency era--not every country conducted itself like England. It's enjoyable to me to have someone not English (or Scottish in this case) confront the British culture. The reader gets to see a different perspective through their eyes. I love fish-out-of-water stories.
2) Egan was verra sexy in The Mad, Bad Duke. What's his most notable feature?
I think Egan's sexiness comes from his strength, both physical and emotional. He's of course a tall, hunky warrior, and looks terrific with a kilt wrapped around his brawny body. (Even better when it's nothing but the kilt!) He's also got a warm smile, a deep and gravely voice, and very curly brown hair that never stays put. I could go on about "notable features" but I'll keep it clean. The notable features all appear in the book. :-)
3) Is Egan as hot in the book as he is on the cover. All those yummy muscles! And the big sword
Yes, Egan is just as hot in the book as he is on the cover! He's a broad-shouldered, gorgeous Scotsman. This story takes place mostly in his run-down castle, and he dresses very casually because he's often out riding the land or helping his tenants. He cares very much for his land and people. The sword plays a significant part in the story, not one you'd think.
4) What do you like best about this book?
Oh gosh, that's a hard question! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this story. I wanted to portray the realities of Scotland in 1820--this was just when Romanticism arrived to paint Scotland with a rosy-colored hue, but people's lives were often harsh. The Clearances were going full force: big landholders were evicting tenant farmers and replacing them with sheep, because wool made much more money than collecting rents from small farmers. The tenants had no money and nowhere to go, and and that's when so many either went to Glasgow and other cities to work in the factories or emigrated to America. Landholders that didn't convert to sheep struggled.
It was a hard time for many people. Scottish nationalism was also beginning to grow, as was tourism and the fads for all things Scottish. It was a very interesting time. Plus, writing about Egan was terrific. He was not a difficult hero to write at all--he seemed to be standing next to me the whole time, and I could picture him very clearly. I love when that happens. It doesn't always.
5) What is up next for Jennifer Ashley or your other writing selves? What can we eagerly anticipate?
Many, many things. The next big book for Jennifer Ashley is Immortals: The Redeeming, which is out in September 2008. It's already up for pre-sale on B&N and Amazon. After that I'm doing a new historical series and a new paranormal series which I'll post about on my site as things are more developed.
As for Allyson James: I'm currently working on the third book on the Dragon series (The Dragon Master), which will be out in November 2008. The response to the first two Dragon books was wonderful, for which I thank my dragon-loving readers! Also, Allyson James will have a novella in an anthology in August with the fabulous Robin Schone called Private Places, a collection of erotic, historical tales. Yum!
Check out Jennifer’s current and upcoming releases at her website