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Jeanette Baker visits...

Today I'm happy to welcome Jeanette Baker, author of CATRIONA, who's guest blogging here today.

Synopsis : Kate Sutherland has always felt out of step growing up in Southern California, but it isn’t until her adoptive mother’s death that she travels to Scotland to discover the truth about her heritage. There, with the help of a high-priestess of an ancient Scottish sect, she experiences the visions that reveal she is one of the twice-born and that five centuries before she walked the earth as Catriona Wells, daughter of an English earl and a Scots princess, first cousin to James IV of Scotland, English spy and harbinger of a shameful secret.

CATRIONA is, I think, my most sensual novel currently in print and yet, I would still classify it as historical fiction rather than romance. Because there is no designated spot for historical fiction, all romances from the steamy to the sweet are shelved under Romance in your local book store, and thankfully so. I'm not sure I would have been as avid a romance reader if I hadn't started with Georgette Heyer, Jan Cox Speas, and Mary Stewart, books heavy on plot and character with great tension, subtle romance and intensely satisfying, albeit innocent, happily-ever-after endings.

Romance, as a genre, didn't actually come about until the 70's. Before that, romantic stories and other genres, were lumped together as fiction. I remember standing in front of the shelves in my local library reading book jackets to insure that I would find a book with enough of a love story to keep me interested. Romance as a genre has come full circle. Although the bodice ripper is still out there, romantic fiction covers a tremendous span from the steamy heat of Virginia Henley and the wise-cracking comedy of Janet Evanovich to the satisfying warmth of Marcia Willett.

A good friend of mine always makes a point of introducing me to his male friends as, "This is Jeanette Baker. She writes romance novels." Then he asks the proverbial question: "Have you ever read a romance novel?"

I know why he does it. He loves the reaction, the look on their faces that reveal the dilemma. Will she be offended if I say no? Will she think I'm strange if I say yes? Does this woman who looks like my Sunday school teacher really write those novels?

I don't know whether to put them out of their misery or keep silent and enjoy the game. The truth is, I have written those novels, the sensual kind like CATRIONA, and I have also written the kind that aren't the least bit R-rated. It depends on the story and whether or not the plot is enhanced by a sensual scene. 25% of those who read fiction, read romance. Amen to those publishers who continue to offer readers a wide variety of romantic fiction.

CATRIONA began, as you might expect, in Scotland, at the ruins of Stirling Castle. After exploring the grounds, I climbed the stairs to the watchtower where Margaret Tudor, daughter to Henry VII of England and James IV of Scotland, waited for her husband to return from the Battle of Flodden Moor. This was a particularly difficult time for her because her husband and father fought on opposing sides. I’d read in the small brochure handed out when I turned over my nominal fee for visiting the castle, that she had carved a poem into the wall. The poem is no longer legible and no one really knows what her thoughts were, but standing there with a death grip on the parapet because of the terrifying wind, I imagined what they might be.

Jamie Stewart was a handsome, charismatic king who spoke 8 languages, fathered 38 illegitimate children, founded universities and demanded that the nobility learn to read. History tells us the marriage was not a love match, I decided, for purposes of my novel, that it would be. That very day, the idea for CATRIONA was born. Why not, I thought, create a woman, with ties to both England and Scotland, a woman with a shameful secret who needed Jamie’s protection for her own purposes? Why not pair her with her equal in intelligence, Jamie’s favorite, a powerful border lord, who’d helped him win the crown? Why not set the two of them amidst the intrigue of the Tudor and Stewart royal courts?

Then it was time to create the contemporary plot of my novel: enter Kate Sutherland, her descendent, an American born 400 years later, an educated woman searching for answers to the odd circumstances of her birth and her frightening ability to see what others could not.

CATRIONA is offered in print as well as electronic format. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did creating it.

~ Jeanette Baker
Sounds like a great read. For more information about the book, visit the author's website.

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