One of the things I get to do as an author is to endow my hero’s with personality traits––good and bad. I also enjoy thinking about their quirky mannerisms, as well as their outward appearance. Physical traits are always fun, like his body––how muscular, how tall––longish, unkempt hair or is he well-groomed?
Most importantly, my heroes must have flaws––at the very least, weaknesses. Otherwise, these Gentlemen of Scotland Yard are just not interesting enough––not for me anyway. I want them to have to overcome or at least confront some personal challenges.
I dug through some of my early character notes on Agent Gunn and thought I would share some of them with blog readers. Enjoy!
Name: Phineas “Finn” Gunn aka Hugh Curzon (Finn uses other names working undercover)
Physical Characteristics: Big Scot––6’2” Thick, waves of dark hair––a bit longish, more of a wild mane. Likes to ride, so is often scene in tall boots and a long, great coat.
Personality Traits: Can be cool, even aloof, but has reasonably good social skills. He does not suffer fools, prefers the company of his brother and few close friends. At one time Finn was a bit of a rake, but has settled in with a mistress. A risk taker in the field, he is always several moves ahead of his enemies. He is also brave to fault––which is how he gets injured.
Education: Trinity College, University of Oxford
Skills: Marksman (with a name like Gunn, he has be) bruising rider, cunning, intelligent––a top notch criminologist.
Avocation: A talented writer of crime fiction as well as scholarly works in the field of forensic science. When he is feeling well enough, he accepts uncover assignments from both Scotland Yard and the Admiralty.
Hobbies: Fencing lessons twice a week. He also has an interest in gemology, which has grown into a lucrative appraisal business––more of a side business.
Faults: His is an acute recluse at times, due to a pitiable condition called Soldier’s Heart. Finn was stationed in the Northern Territories of India––and fought in Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War.
Note: Previous sentence redacted because I am no spoiler!
More on Soldier’s Heart: Doctors used to call it shell shock, soldier’s heart, or nostalgia. Soldiers would shake uncontrollably, experience heart palpitations, or go blind after witnessing trauma on the battlefield. From as far back as ancient Greece, history reveals the psychological toll of war on soldiers. Today we call the condition post-traumatic stress disorder.
The Greek historian Herodotus describes an Athenian warrior who became blind when a soldier standing next to him was killed during the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.
The condition called Soldier’s Heart was first described by an American civil war surgeon and was thought to be an actual heart malady, likely because of the rapid, erratic pulse.
A Ballerina Heroine.
Or is she also a jewel thief, as well as a clever spy?
When I imagined the heroine for this tale of romance, espionage and adventure I knew I had to make her every bit as intelligent and talented as Agent Gunn. Here are a few of my notes on Cate:
Name: Cate Willoughby aka Catriona de Dovia (stage name)
Physical Characteristics: Statuesque, with a dancers body which means she is strong and flexible. Raven hair, striking blue eyes, and a well-defined cupid’s bow that drives Finn wild.
Personality Traits: When she is angry she goes off in Spanish (a la Ricky Ricardo) Fiercely independent, Cate can be impulsive at times, and though she claims she not an adventurer, she is often daring. She has a bohemian, artistic streak, as well.
Faults: Major trust issues. Somewhat of a loner. She fears getting close to anyone, especially after recently losing her only brother and her dear departed uncle. She has lost every one she has ever loved.
Avocation: Dance, Redacted for spoiler reasons!
Education: Paris Opera Ballet School
Back Story: Born to a British father and Spanish mother, Cate Willoughby is both a proper young English lady, and a hot tempered Catalan beauty. She also happens to be the inheritor of a near bankrupt estate. And as for Miss Catriona de Dovia? She is a celebrated prima ballerina as well as an anarchist sympathizer. Or might she be an infiltrator? Or scheming operative?
I am not a spoiler, but this is what I can say about A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN: I have endeavored to write a love story between two cunning protagonists, who have constructed alternate false identities and employ a number of devious and cunning skills to solve the case. One of them even manages to fool the other right up to the very last pages of the novel!
I can say no more.
Jillian Stone was born a storyteller. A skill that got her into considerable trouble as a youth until she solved the problem by becoming an advertising creative. And the career did seem to suit her as she won many national ad awards including the Clio and the New York Art Director’s Club Gold. What more could she ask for? Create her own worlds? Become goddess of her own universe? Yes! So, she began to write fiction. Her Victorian Romantic Suspense novel AN AFFAIR WITH MR. KENNEDY won the 2010 Golden Heart and sold to Pocket Books. Her sexy, supernatural Steampunk novel, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, won the 2010 Romance Through The Ages Erotica category and sold to Kensington Brava. Jillian lives in California and is currently working on the next adventure for both series.
courtesy of author’s website
By Jillian Stone
The Gentlemen of Scotland Yard #3
Publication Date: November 27, 2012
Genre: Historical Romance
From the author of An Affair with Mr. Kennedy and A Dangerous Liaison with Detective Lewis comes a sexy new romantic caper in the Gentlemen of Scotland Yard series.
Prima ballerina Catriona de Dovia lives the glamorous life of a starlet, filled with glittering jewels, sumptuous dinners, and admiring suitors. She’s grown up considerably since losing her heart to Hugh Curzon once upon a time, no longer wasting her emotions on the empty promises of wealthy gentlemen. On her own since the untimely death of her parents, she will do anything for the only family she has left: her brother, a notorious anarchist.
Scotland Yard Agent Phineas Gunn—sometimes known as Hugh Curzon—receives his new assignment reluctantly. He’s up for something a little more strenuous than playing nanny to a ballerina, until he sees who his charge is. Then, it’s a completely different story, because he’d been unable to forget the trusting, beautiful Cate since he had to leave her behind.
As the two race across the Continent—by land, by sea, even through the air by zephyr—it becomes uncertain who is keeping tabs on whom, and Finn and Cate must battle the sexual tension that snaps and sizzles between them every step of the way.
Now we get to the fun part where Jillian is giving away the pretty! I love, love the covers for this series (shh, we don’t talk about how I love nearly all covers), but this is a Paul Marron cover. *swooon* And it’s for a signed copy, available for international entries! It’s the trifecta of awesome, right?
As always, our usual conditions and restrictions apply. No entering if you don’t have a pulse, we disqualified zombies a couple of months ago. I’ll email the winner and they’ll have 48 hours to get back to me with their address, which I’ll forward on to the author, who’ll be responsible for mailing the book. If I don’t hear from you, a second winner will be chosen. Good luck!