July 15, 2013

Rourke Walsh/ Turner

When Nancy asked if I would be willing to write this feature, my first reaction went something like this: “WAAHOOOO! Yes! Yes! Yes!” followed by a dance of happiness that probably looked something like Jim Carrey’s Grinch when he finds out Martha May still likes him. I then proceeded to tell anyone who would listen how thrilled I was to be a guest blogger on FHF. Speaking of… can we get a round of applause for the heroes featured so far this year? Wow! There have been some great ones. I am very excited to introduce you all to Rourke, and give you a taste of why he is Hero worthy. SO! Without further ado, let’s dive into my hero of choice- Rourke Turner.

About No Safe Harbor (released October 1, 2012):

New York City, 1897

She came to America searching for her brother. Instead all she's found is a web of danger.
Cara Hamilton had thought her brother to be dead. Now, clutching his letter, she leaves Ireland for America, desperate to find him. Her search leads her to a houseful of curious strangers, and one man who claims to be a friend--Rourke Walsh. Despite her brother's warning, Cara trusts Rourke, revealing her purpose in coming to New York.

She's then thrust into a world of subterfuge, veiled threats, and attempted murder, including political revolutionaries from the homeland out for revenge. Her questions guide her ever nearer to locating her brother--but they also bring her closer to destruction as those who want to kill him track her footsteps.

With her faith in tatters, all hope flees. Will her brother finally surface? Can he save Cara from the truth about Rourke... a man she's grown to love?

Excerpt from No Safe Harbor:

          Rourke tore his focus from Angus and clapped it on Malcolm. Swallowing his anger, he forced himself to recall everything Cara had told him.
          “She is a young lass, maybe twenty-one or -two. Traveled alone, which I thought odd, though she did make a couple friends while on board the ship. She said her parents are dead. Claimed to have left Ireland in search of a fresh start.”
          “Eoghan Hamilton’s parents are both dead.” Clive Turner, Malcolm’s youngest son, leaned forward and placed both elbows on the table. “They died years ago, and I did hear it rumored that Hamilton has a sister.”
          Several heads bobbed in agreement. Malcolm’s gaze, sharp as blue ice, fixed on Rourke. “What else?”
          “She’s a northerner…from Derry. And she appeared to be looking for someone.”
          At this, the men gathered around the table drew a collective breath. Malcolm leaned forward on his knuckles. Even old Angus’s brows rose with interest.
          “She told you this?”
          Rourke nodded and looked over at Malcolm. “She warrants watching, at least until I can figure out who she’s searching for.”
          Malcolm’s eyes roved the faces of the assembled men. With each nod he moved on until he returned to Rourke. “We be in agreement, then. What do you intend?”
          “She asked to be taken to a boardinghouse on Ashberry Street. I think I can find work nearby without drawing too much attention.”
          Malcolm rubbed his hands together eagerly, an action Rourke well understood. Two years had passed since his father died. Two years ago that he and his kinsmen vowed revenge, and this was the first lead that offered more than a little promise.
          “Take Hugh with you.”
          Caught off guard, Rourke jerked around to stare at old Angus.
          Angus’s grizzled head bobbed toward the eldest of his seven sons. “He’s a knack for this sort of thing. You’d do well to have him close.”
          Rourke had seen firsthand the sort of “knack” Hugh O’Hurly was known for. He wanted him nowhere near Cara or the other boardinghouse residents. But to deny Angus…
          Malcolm came to his rescue. “If it be true she was searching for someone on the island, there’s a good possibility she might return there. But the city is a large place. Best if we keep our men spread out and our ears open.” He chuckled. “This could be the chance we’ve been waiting for, lads. Fate has shined her bonnie face on us at last.”
          Murmured approval drifted upward toward the ceiling, and with it, Rourke’s sigh of relief.

Copyrighted Material. Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score

Spirited, brave; nobly chivalrous and often self-sacrificing.
‘Hold the phone! Stop the presses! Off with his impostering orange head!’
How can he even have a gallant score after what I just read? Rourke’s loyalties may be torn, but trust me when I say his brilliant orangeness is well-earned. He repeatedly steps between Cara and danger, often without her knowledge. His willingness to shield her from the less-than-noble intentions of his kinsmen speaks volumes about what Rourke is made of. When it comes right down to it, Rourke is willing to sacrifice everything, even the love in his own heart, for Cara’s happiness.

Wounded Score

Rourke carries a backpack of guilt because of his father’s death. As a result, Rourke’s faith is shattered, and revenge becomes his driving force.

Softie Score

Rourke’s tender side is all for Cara, and it takes some doing to get there. But believe you me when I say- buckle up. Because at his core, Rourke is one tender guy.

Stupid Strikes

I'm afraid I have to give him one. Even after Cara has told Rourke everything she knows, he continues to keep the truth from her. And we don’t like that very much, do we, Precious? No, indeed.

Swoon Score

There is plenty to swoon over here. If his rugged good looks and Irish charm aren’t enough, Rourke has more going for him. Even when circumstances force him to be less than truthful, Rourke strives to be a man of integrity. When the truth finally sets him free, it is a beautiful thing. If you still don’t believe me, I just have one more thing to say. Page 306. =)

Elizabeth Ludwig is the award-winning author of No Safe Harbor, Book One in the Edge of Freedom series. Her popular literary blog, The Borrowed Book, enjoys a wide readership. Elizabeth is an accomplished speaker and teacher, often attending conferences and seminars where she lectures on editing for fiction writers, crafting effective novel proposals, and conducting successful editor/agent interviews. Along with her husband and children, she makes her home in the great state of Texas. To learn more, visit her at ElizabethLudwig.com or on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/elizabethludwig102.

The FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author

Rourke is the kind of hero women swoon over. He’s tall and handsome with raven black hair and deep blue eyes. While writing No Safe Harbor, I pictured Clive Owen, with his piercing blue eyes, as Rourke. One glance from those baby blues, and my poor heroine was head over heels...

Like any good hero, Rourke has various strengths and weaknesses. He’s stalwart and brave, loyal to a fault, and he would do anything for his family. Unfortunately, it is those very qualities that drive him to seek revenge...even at the expense of the woman he loves. Rourke is intrinsically opposed to lying, yet he finds himself resorting to subterfuge in order to protect the ones he loves. In the end, it’s these half-truths and deceptions that nearly drive Rourke and Cara apart and almost cost them their lives!

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Nancy here! Joy did a great job guest featuring. Please be sure and thank her for allowing me to get some much needed reading and craft study done without depriving you all of your hero-fix. =)

 Joy W. Doering was born and raised in southwestern PA in a house of a thousand dreams. Her family moved to Montana in August 2003, where she eventually met and married her husband. They now have two beautiful daughters. Joy is often kidnapped by books, and loves every moment of it. But her very favorite heroes are the ones still trapped inside her imagination. She spends her free time studying the writing craft and working on her books. Her dream is to one day share her stories with the world, to the glory of God.

The giveaways

Alright hero-girls, same giveaway setup as always. One copy of No Safe Harbor in the winner's choice of format, but please tell me to toss your name in the drawing. For those who have already enjoyed No Safe Harbor, leave me the name of a character not used in the excerpt and we'll put your name in the bowl for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard. Once that character has been used, you'll need to choose another. Winners randomly drawn on July 31st. Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment in a spam-fighting format like rourke (at) nosafeharbor (dot) com

July 1, 2013

Alexander "Bane" Banebridge

For a year now, I've been waiting for that hero that walks the tightrope between savior and scoundrel, Rhett Butler style. The wait is over. I have good timing with this feature because Bane's novel was recently awarded the prestigious Christy award for excellence in Christian fiction. In keeping with the many shades of Bane's character, this novel is NOT your typical historical romance. Be ready for that as we dive in and take a closer look at Bane, how he lives up to that name, and is still an FHF-worthy hero.

About Against the Tide (released Oct. 1,2012):

After a childhood rampant with uncertainty, Lydia Pallas has carved out a perfect life for herself. She spends her days within sight of the bustling Boston Harbor, where her skill with languages has landed her an enviable position as a translator for the U.S. Navy.

Lydia's talents bring her to the attention of Alexander Banebridge, a mysterious man in need of a translator. Driven by a campaign to end the opium trade. Bane is coolly analytical and relentless in his quest. He cannot afford to fall for Lydia and must fight the bittersweet love growing between them.

When Bane's enemies gain the upper hand, he is forced to turn to Lydia for help. Determined to prove her worth, Lydia soon discovers that carrying out Bane's mission will test her wits and her courage to the very limits.

Excerpt from Against the Tide:

She was used to working amidst the steady din of background noise of the coffeehouse, so it seemed strange when the noise dwindled away. The drone of laughter and conversation tapered off, a busy waitress stopped her order in midsentence, and even the fiddlers in the corner stopped playing. Lydia looked up to see what had caused the drop in conversation.
          Oh my, my.
          What was Lieutenant Banebridge doing at the Laughing Dragon? His crystalline blue gaze sliced through the dwindling twilight that illuminated the coffeehouse as he scanned the occupants. The man was not particularly tall. Indeed, compared to the oversized longshoreman who filled the room, he seemed almost slight, but he radiated a calm sense of power as he navigated through the cluster of tables and barrels and headed toward the serving counter.
          Lydia's eyes widened as his gaze riveted on her. A hint of a smile lifted the corner of his perfectly shaped mouth, and Lydia's breath froze as he strode directly to her.
          "Lydia Pallas?" he asked as he slid onto the vacant stool next to her. How did he know her name? It was the first time he had ever spoken directly to her, and she wondered how he knew where she lived. All she could do was nod.
          "I hear you read Turkish," he said as though that were an entirely natural opening line. "Eric recommended you as someone who was willing to pick up a little translation work on the side."
          It took her a moment to process what he had said. "Eric? Do you mean Admiral Fontaine?"
          "Yes, Admiral Fontain. He said you have a remarkable ability with languages."
          "I've never heard anyone refer to him as 'Eric' before," she said. "It would be like calling Queen Victoria 'Vicki.'" She glanced at the insignia on his uniform. "And I certainly did not think that lieutenants ever called admirals by their first name."
          That lazy smile could probably slay damsels at a thousand yards. "I don't report to Eric. He is a friend, not someone in my chain of command. I am Alex Banebridge, but everyone just calls me Bane. Eric said you might be able to help me with these."

Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.

Gallant Score

Bane is a hero. It isn't going to seem like it at first, and for, well, for a lot of the story. What's more accurate is to say you have to see through the facade he projects to the rest of the world, especially Lydia. Bane is orange heads at the core, and always, always when it counts. That said, he is a man on a mission for the greater good and sometimes that requires some very un-orange-head tactics.

Wounded Score

Bane has a past that predisposes him to the charming rogue, gallant activist, shameless flirt he is in Against the Tide. It will wreck the story to tell you what, and who, put the scars on his heart and forever altered the course of his life. Part of me admired Bane for overcoming such a past, even though I could see where his quest to destroy the illegal opium trade was tainted with his desire for vengeance.

Softie Score

I'm wondering if I'll be challenged on this score at all but there's not a lot of soft to Bane. When it shows up though, it's powerful, like interacting with the Admiral's children and of course holding Lydia's hair out of her face while she's getting sick and encouraging her through that time.

Stupid Strikes

I debated this one a long time, but in the end, had to pop him one. For calling Lydia a "mingy wench" (even in love) and attempting to arrange her marriage to another man. Same with purposefully moving around things on Lydia's desk just to annoy her. One of my favorite lines is at the docks when she's ignoring him, hoping he'll go away, and his response is "Please don't operate under the assumption that ignoring me will work," Bane said. "It just makes me more determined to get under your skin." But in perfect transparency into me and my reader preference, all this only made him more endearing in that "bad boy" way. I know I'm not the only hero-girl who is into that, though I might be the only one who admits it. ;-)

Swoon Score

Oh, did I forget to mention his nickname is "The Adonis?" In case you had any doubts after the excerpt, Bane is as hot as a Boston winter is not. Among his arsenal of skills he can deploy in the blink of an eye is being an unexpected romantic and a shameless flirt, which only add to the charm. For me, it is his care of Lydia at "the end" and those moments when his guard was down and rather than being the man his life and quest had made him, he was simply Bane, that really stacked the orange up here.

A research librarian and associate professor, Elizabeth Camden has a master’s in history from the University of Virginia and a master’s in library science from Indiana University. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband in central Florida. Visit her at http://elizabethcamden.com/.

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The FHF Exclusive Directly from the Author

Although Against the Tide is an entirely stand-alone novel, Bane first appeared as the villain in The Lady of Bolton Hill.  In that book, I needed to have the heroine kidnapped by one of the hero’s enemies.  My first impulse was to create a scary gangster to kidnap her, but fiction-writing 101 says “never go for the obvious.”  Instead, I tried to imagine the absolute last person you would expect to see as a mastermind for dastardly kidnapping plot, and then plunk him into the story.

Immediately I had the image of a golden-haired, angelic looking teenaged boy, a boy so beautiful he should be painted onto the ceiling of the Sistine chapel.  I wanted someone charming, brilliant, and almost dazzling in his beauty… which makes the fact that he was an amoral, corrupt soul even more frightening to the heroine when she figures out just who this wicked boy is.  So Bane was born:  a brilliant, beautiful teenager utterly devoid of a conscience. 

For my mental image I latched onto Alexander Skarsgard, the wonderful actor from Battleship and True Blood, who can appear angelically gorgeous one moment, and ice-cold scary the next.  That’s Bane!

Because flat villains are boring, I wrote some backstory about why this brilliant teen-aged boy was so devoid of a conscience.  As I wrote, Bane became more and more sympathetic.  And more interesting.  Bane stole every scene he appeared in during The Lady of Bolton Hill, and he ultimately emerges as a true hero in the book.  He does a complete turn-around when he decides to funnel all his brilliance toward good instead of evil.  I was flooded with letters demanding a sequel for him.  Although my publisher did not initially want a follow-up, the chorus of people asking for “More Bane” was a drumbeat that would not stop.  I was thrilled when I got the go-ahead to write Bane as a grown-up hero.  I like heroes with a little age on them, so Against the Tide takes place twelve years later when Bane is 30.  (Oh, the chorus of complaints I had from teenaged girls about that!  Many of them assumed that Bane’s story would feature a 17-year-old hero, and were terribly disappointed I made him “so old!”)

Bane has a deep backstory I was only able to provide glimpses into during the course of Against the Tide.  Space constraints forced me to cut some scenes that provided more detail into his history, and those scenes are posted at my blog here: http://elizabethcamden.com/book-extras/against-the-tide

The giveaways

Alright hero-girls, same giveaway setup as always. One copy of Against the Tide in the winner's choice of format, but please tell me to toss your name in the clam-chowder bowl. For those who have already enjoyed Against the Tide, leave me the name of a character not used in the excerpt and we'll put your name in the clam-chowder bowl for a $10 Amazon or Barnes & Noble giftcard. Once that character has been used, you'll need to choose another. Winners randomly drawn on July 14th. Be sure to leave your e-mail address in your comment in a spam-fighting format like red.poppies.to.remind.you.i.am.everywhere (at) anopiumfreeusa (dot) com

Anyone else willing to fess up to enjoying an oh-so-bad-good-guy? Do we agree or disagree that they can be heroes?