Gwen: Hi, Linda! As readers may know, your books The Heart Denied and Heart of the Hunter are both Amazon bestsellers (and available in print and e-format at a number of retailers). Can you tell us a little about the books?
Linda: Hi, Gwen! Yes, and thanks so much for asking. Both are in the historical romance genre, and were published late 2010 and early 2012 respectively, by Hydra Publications. The main themes in my books are perseverance and redemption, the latter of which comes at great cost to each of the heroes. And without their strong, persevering heroines, these guys might well have crashed and burned.
The Heart Denied is about Thorne Neville, a young lord who rejects all notions of love after the death of his childhood sweetheart. Instead, he plans to live a peaceful life at his ancestral home, Wycliffe Hall, with Gwynneth, the young woman he is contracted to marry–despite the fact he’s never met her AND she wants to be a nun. BIG mistake. The marriage proceeds despite Thorne’s misgivings, and Gwynneth proceeds to make his life anything but peaceful. While struggling to make the marriage work so he doesn’t shame Gwynneth or her family, Thorne finds himself inexplicably drawn to Elaine–a secretive young woman in his household who seems almost too refined to be the servant she is. Meanwhile, Thorne also finds himself fending off the relentless seduction attempts of Gwynneth’s closest friend, the stunning socialite Caroline Sutherland–who unbeknownst to him is secretly in cahoots with his stableman to rob Thorne of his entire fortune. As his carefully constructed life begins disintegrating in a succession of murder, suicide and betrayal, Thorne’s heart begins to open. Only then does he discover the happiness he had despaired of ever finding–and realizes it was right under his nose all along.
Heart of the Hunter is about Fianna Morgan, a young peasant woman forced to serve at Dinsmore Hall, her landlord’s household. There she recognizes his grown son Gareth as the boy who rescued her from a killer in Dinsmore Wood when she was eleven years old, swore her to secrecy, and then disappeared from her life. But Gareth claims he has never met Fianna. Further confusing her, he seems quite concerned for her welfare, but acts cold and distant. Determined to make him acknowledge their past connection, Fianna finally corners him, and learns the truth behind the terrible secret she has kept since that day in Dinsmore Wood–that the killer is a member of Gareth’s family and is living at Dinsmore Hall. Convinced that the killer hasn’t recognized her as the girl he pursued in Dinsmore Wood eight years ago, Fianna forges a secret partnership with Gareth to find the murdered corpses that will convict the killer of his crimes. Forced ever closer together in their search for this evidence, Fianna and Gareth must choose whether to deny or to trust their deepening feelings for one another. But Fianna soon discovers that the killer has indeed recognized her as the girl who ran from him in Dinsmore Wood. Terrified to find she is being stalked again, she also realizes she can’t tell Gareth. This time, she must stand her ground–alone.
Gwen: Now, we’re going to switch things up a little with a bit of a chat with two characters from Heart of the Hunter, Fianna Morgan and her younger sister, Brenna. Let’s see what the characters have to say about this fantastic story.
Brenna, how would you describe your sister when you first left your home? How did she change after she began investigating the mysterious events that you both became a part of?
Brenna: Fianna was a little like Mama even then, but more fun, except she was always telling me to mind my tongue. She thinks I talk too much. But she should mind her own tongue, you know. I’ve heard her swear, and I know it’s because her friend Darcy swears, because I’ve spied on them before. Anyway, after our cottage burned and we had to go to Dinsmore Hall, Fianna kept trying to run away to see Darcy, I think because Lord Graham’s son Gareth was so mean to us. And when Mama had to go to Birmingham and leave us at Dinsmore Hall, Fianna started acting like she really was my mother. I did not like that at all.
Gwen: Fianna, how did having your sister with you affect some of the actions that you took? Do you think that you would have been more or less daring if you hadn’t had to think of Brenna?
Fianna: Depending on the situation, there were times I should have been more cautious, but stubbornness can make me impulsive–such as the time I escaped my locked chamber and marched around to the front door to confront Gareth and Lady Pembroke, and the time I stole the pistol from the armory–and then later, when I decided to brave Dinsmore Wood alone to search for bodies. I nearly paid for that foolishness with my life, and Gareth’s, too. But there were other times that, had it not been for my concern for Brenna’s safety, I might have escaped Dinsmore Hall altogether. I should thank her, because if I had managed to get away, Gareth and I would never have found the evidence we sought and begun the life we have now. I would probably have married my friend Darcy instead, though it wasn’t at all what I wanted.
Gwen: When did each of you start to realize that all wasn’t right at Dinsmore Hall?
Fianna: I first became suspicious when I saw, through my bedchamber window at night, a light moving through Dinsmore Wood. My suspicion grew when I snuck outdoors for a midnight walk and saw a horse and rider come tearing down the drive in the moonlight.
Brenna: I saw someone standing behind the suit of armor on our first night at Dinsmore Hall, but Mama and Fianna said I was imagining things as usual. But I knew something was awfully wrong when I was alone in our bedchamber and saw a hand reach out and close the cupboard door–from the inside of the cupboard! No one believed me, and that only made it more terribly and wretchedly frightful.
Gwen: Brenna, when did you start to think that your sister was first attracted to Gareth?
Brenna: When she wanted to freeze her tail feathers off riding with him in the forest–even though we were going to have hot cider and biscuits in the schoolroom!
Gwen: Fianna, do you agree with her? Or did it take you longer to realize?
Fianna: Neither Mama nor Brenna ever knew, but I had been looking for Gareth Graham for eight years. I knew at the age of eleven that I wanted to marry him someday, but I had no idea what his name was or where he lived. I only knew that he was a kind, handsome, older boy and that he had just saved me from a man who would have killed and buried me in Dinsmore Wood. Eight years later, when Mama, Brenna and I went to serve at Dinsmore Hall and I realized that Gareth was that boy, grown, I was utterly dismayed. How could a nobleman’s son marry me, even if he wanted to? Nor could I understand what had changed him so–or why he refused to acknowledge ever having met me. Well, I learned why when I cornered him, and at that point, love and terror became my daily existence at Dinsmore Hall. If it weren’t for Gareth and the way he looked out for us, I would have taken Brenna away from Dinsmore Hall the very night after my mother disappeared. But I would have had to take her through Dinsmore Wood to do it. And I know now it could have gotten both of us killed.
Gwen: What adventures await the two of you?
Fianna: Gareth and I have exciting plans for his private estate. Suffice to say the place will soon be overrun by boys, to whom I’ll be both mother and teacher.
Brenna: I shall marry Eggy when I am sixteen and travel the continent with our eight children. I shall have at least fifty gowns, and we shall have houses in London, Paris, and Madrid. And maybe Spain.
To meet Linda in person, check out the Annual Authors’ Fair this weekend at That Book Place in Madison, Indiana! She’ll be there along with a number of other fantastic authors.
The Heart Denied is available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Powell’s while Heart of the Hunter was just released in paperback! For more information or to order, visit the Hydra Publications website.