Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Duke's Redemption Book Review and Author Interview

To protect her sister, Prin, Eloise Cooper has been forced to serve in the South Carolina patriot underground network as a spy dubbed the Fox. She yearns for the day she and her sister are free to leave Brixton Hall Plantation and the tyrant who controls them. When she accidentally kills a Redcoat double agent in a fight for her life, she continues her covert activities, but declares the Fox is dead--a decision that threatens the hopes for freedom for Prin and herself.

In England, Drake Amberly, Fifth Duke of Hawk Haven, learns a murderous rebel spy has not only killed his brother in SC, but has also duped the British authorities there and escaped. Enraged and frustrated by the news, he travels to SC under the guise of a tradesman ship owner to secretly head a plot to flush out the notorious insurgent and bring him to justice.
Drake’s mission leads him to Brixton Hall Plantation, and it isn’t long before a mutual attraction between Eloise and him turns into love and marriage. But when another patriot is used to lure Eloise into a trap, she is captured and exposed. Deeply wounded and vexed by what he views as her disloyalty and betrayal, Drake must choose between giving up his cherished wife or his need for vengeance.

The Duke's Redemption offers intrigue, action, love, betrayal, and major conflicts with secondary characters--some of which I wanted to beat up--and events that keep the pages turning. But I love the author’s wonderful portrayals of Eloise and Drake the best. Abused at an early age, Eloise learned to depend on the Lord. And she remains tenderhearted toward Him in impossible situations. A woman who despises violence, she grieves over the death of the double agent and agonizes over the choices she has to make as a spy. But the hardest decision is hiding her past from the husband she adores.

Drake is a man who deeply loves. Not just his wife, but his younger brother. Familial pride and honor demand he avenge the latter, but his wife is his heart. An impossible dilemma, how can he choose between them? He can't in his own strength, but through God’s power and love, all things are possible. But only if the highminded and lofty duke is willing to repent and humble himself.

A great read, I heartedly recommend The Duke's Redemption to all romance lovers.

Publisher: Steeple Hill Love Inspired Historical (Harlequin)
Publication date: January 12, 2010
ISBN: 978-0373828289
Genre: American historical romance


MP: According to your website bio, you earned a BA degree in International Studies and a MA in Theology. How did your education aid you in visiting most of the US and twenty-five countries?

CC: First, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to blog today, Mary. I’m so happy to be here. To answer your question, I’ve wanted to see the world since I was a kid. While in college, I lived in China, teaching English and studying Chinese for a year. After I returned to the US, I spent two summers traveling throughout North America, including several months in Alaska. I visited almost every national park and monument, 48 states and most of Canada. After I graduated, I began my career in an international, non-profit organization that required international travel and took me to many countries around the world.

MP: What a tremendous foundation. How were you able to use these travel experiences to help write your novels, The Gladiator and The Duke’s Redemption?

CC: As a writer, I like to visit the places I’m writing about because it gives the imaginary story and people in my head a foundation in the real world. By traveling to Italy to research The Gladiator or South Carolina for The Duke’s Redemption, I was able to see the actual places my characters would have seen and touched and experienced. It helps me make my characters more ‘real’ because I can write some of my own experiences through them.

MP: Neat. The Duke’s Redemption includes lots of action, intrigue, love, betrayal, and spiritual conflict--a winning combination for a passionate inspirational historical. How’d you come up with your story line?

CC: I like to read stories with major conflicts. My favorites usually revolve around characters on opposite sides of something, whether it’s a war, social situation, political or religious ideal, etc. In The Duke’s Redemption, my first historical romance, I took all of those elements and thought up characters and a situation that fit in my favorite time period, the American Revolution. I came up with a Duke and an American spy who have to overcome all sorts of issues and situations to earn their happy ending.

MP: I thought it was a unique story. It took seven years of fiction writing before you sold The Gladiator. Do you have older manuscripts you hope to revive and turn into future sales?

CC: I don’t have any old manuscripts. Writing was my hobby, and my hectic family and career kept me from writing quickly. When I first started writing, I wrote short stories for my own reading enjoyment. They were awful, but I learned the process of fiction writing through them. It wasn’t until 2004, when The Duke’s Redemption won a major award and my agent signed me that I took writing more seriously and began to hope I might be published one day. Health problems caused me to take off a year, and I almost quit writing altogether in 2006--right before I started work on The Gladiator.

MP: What take-away message do you hope your readers will gain from The Duke’s Redemption?

CC: So many things, but in the end the most important message I hope people get is that God is trustworthy. He really does move in our lives to provide for us even when we can’t see His ways and means of doing so.

MP: You’re right about that. Are you a plotter, SOTP writer, or something in between? What kind of preliminary work do you do before you start your first draft?

CC: I’m a little of both. Because I like conflicts and plots that don’t seem like they could possibly work out so I do enough plotting to make sure they will come to a satisfying resolution. Then I just dive in and create the details and characters as I go.

MP: On your website you mentioned you’re working on a sequel to The Gladiator. What can you tell us about this new manuscript?

CC: I just finished The Protector and turned it in to my editor about a month ago. It’s the story of Quintus, a Christian man who’s been enslaved for his faith, and Adiona (a friend of Caro from The Gladiator), a wealthy Roman woman with a questionable reputation. When someone tries to kill Adiona, she needs a bodyguard, and Quintus is the perfect man for the job.

MP: Mm. You hooked me. I look forward to its release. Has fiction writing drawn you closer to the Lord?

CC: Absolutely, although, I’m pretty sure He’s sick of me begging Him to help me get my books turned into the editor on time. ;-) Seriously, yes, my writing has drawn me closer to the Lord because I always want my work to be pleasing to Him. I go to Him when I need help plotting or even finding the right word to use. I ask Him to use my work to reach out to people who are hurting or in a situation where they need to be reminded that God loves them and will never forsake them. He’s always with us and will always work situations to our benefit if we trust Him.

MP: Amen to that. What memorable highlights and/or lowlights can you share about you novel journey?

CC: Because writing was always my hobby and enjoyable ‘outlet’, I have more highlights than lowlights. Mostly, I’ve made amazing, creative friends and now that I am published, I’m meeting wonderful people who let me know my books have helped them in some way.

MP: That's awesome. Have you worked with crit partners? If so, how did you specifically benefit from your relationship with them?

CC: I’ve worked with many, many critique partners over the years. I learned that a good and beneficial cp relationship is one where both people enjoy the other’s work and want it to succeed. There is nothing worse writing-wise than working with a cp who makes you feel bad or takes away your enthusiasm no matter how good-intentioned she is or how good her advice may be.

MP: There are so many facets to fiction writing. Which was the easiest for you? Which was the most difficult?

CC: I’m a natural hermit, so I enjoy the alone time with my characters that writing provides. I don’t like self-promotion and find it really difficult to promote my own books.

MP: Any parting words of wisdom you want to pass on to prepublished authors?

CC: Just keep writing. Always seek to improve, learn your craft and put your work in God’s hands, because He will bless your efforts and open doors where you never expected them to be.

MP: Very, very good advice, Carla. Thanks for joining us today. May the Lord continue to bless your efforts as well.

You can find Carla Capshaw at her neat website,

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