Originally, I had intended to interview the heroine and hero of Captain of Her Heart—Harriet Brookes nee Handley, and Captain John Brookes. However, the newlyweds recently departed Tansley Village for London so that Harriet could meet with her publisher. Fortunately for me, Mrs. Katherine Crossley—John's aged aunt--invited me to her flat in Bath for a good chin-wag, as she calls it.
As I sank onto the settee in Mrs. Crossley's well-appointed library, with a fire crackling in the grate and a cup of steaming Darjeeling in hand, I was bemused by this extraordinary woman. Her rings cast rainbows of light around the room, and she gave every indication of being in command though wrapped from head to toe in a fur rug. "Well then, out with it," she asserted briskly, reaching forward for her cup of tea. "I am sure your readers don't have all day, my dear."
Lily George (hastily clearing her throat): Yes, Mrs. Crossley—
Katherine Crossley: Call me Aunt Katherine, my dear. Everyone does. I am not sure what I should do if you called me Mrs. So and So.
LG: Very well then, Aunt Katherine—
KC: And I rather take exception to you referring to me as John's aged aunt. You are only as old as you feel, you know. And at heart, I am still a young woman.
LG (blushing): My apologies, Aunt Katherine.
KC: Think nothing of it my dear, think nothing of it. Now, I suppose your readers want to know more about Harriet and John?
LG: Yes, Aunt Katherine. As much as you care to share.
KC: Well, Harriet Handley is the daughter of Sir Hugh Handley. He died bankrupt, leaving his widow and two daughters penniless. His family refused to help them, and so they left the ancestral home for a poky little cottage in Tansley. But Harriet—wise, resourceful Harriet—knew she must find a way to get them all out of poverty. And so she decided to follow her girlhood dream of becoming an authoress. (She sighs and clasps her hands together.) I admire her courage. When I was a young lady, all one could do was marry well.
LG: That is rather remarkable, Aunt Katherine. Her own sister, Sophie, has been groomed from girlhood for a great match.
KC (waves her hands languidly): Well, Sophie's a great beauty. She was engaged to John before the war. But of the two, John ended up with the right sister.
LG: Why so, Aunt Katherine?
KC: Well, John was a captain in the army and suffered terribly during Waterloo. He lost his leg, you know. He turned to drink to ease his troubles—but his frustration only increased when he returned home and Sophie spurned him. Fortunately, Harriet saw what an amazing man he is and when her sister threw him over, Harriet gained his love and respect.
LG: What makes Captain Brookes an amazing man?
KC (smiling softly, stirring her tea): My John is a brilliant tactician. It's what served him so well on the peninsula. Men trusted him with their lives. He just lost his way, that's all. And Harriet's steadfast nature and strength of character turned him on the right course.
LG: Didn't you have a hand in bringing Harriet and John together? It seems he inherited the gift of strategy from you, Aunt Katherine.
KC (smiling broadly): Oh, tut. I only meddle to set things right. I can't bear to see matters amiss when one word or gesture would make life so much better.
LG: Aunt Katherine, I will of course flog the book, Captain of Her Heart, during our interview. But I have a feeling that my readers would look forward to the chance to speak directly to you. If you have time, would you consider responding to any questions or comments they leave in the blog?
KC: Of course, I shall be delighted.
Well, there it is. Aunt Katherine will be on hand all day to offer advice and answer your questions. At the end of the day, she will draw two lucky winners to receive a signed copy of Captain of Her Heart. So, let's gabble—ask Aunt Katherine anything!