Tuesday Book Club: Caroline Warfield’s The Reluctant Wife

 In Being An Author, News, Tuesday Book Club

Here’s a Tuesday Book Club bonus! (Actually, truth to tell, my life is topsy-turvy in the best possible way and I forgot to feature another of the remarkable Bluestocking Belle authors, Caroline Warfield. These incredible authors are on my auto-buy list and I’m looking to reading The Reluctant Wife.

What were you like at school?

The gorgeous and brilliant historical romance author Caroline Warfield

I was so quiet teachers would tell my parents they suspected I was very bright, but they couldn’t tell.  Catholic elementary schools had huge classes back then, and I tended to get lost in the crowd.

What inspired you to write?

Inspired me? I don’t remember ever not wanting to write. I think reading is what inspires writing. I’m sure that is true for me.

Which writers inspire you?

I read a lot of history and theology, but I suspect you mean fiction.

Growing up? Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Thomas B. Costain, Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott, and Pearl Buck. As a teen I fell in love with the books of Dorothy Dunnett. She fired my imagination more than anyone ever has. My go-to romance writers are Mary Balogh, Grace Burrowes, and Carla Kelly. I also love Ruth Downie and C.S. Harris.

What inspired you to write this story?

When I wrote A Dangerous Nativity, I had fun creating three little boys. I began envisioning their future and decided to make them the heroes of my next series.  As a boy Fred was the adventurous one, horse-mad with dreams of glory. His military career seemed inevitable, and given the time period, India a likely place he might go.

How much research do you do?

I do a moderate amount of academic research just to get the setting and the period in my head before I start. I do a lot of Internet research for facts and specifics. I often end up with piles of left over facts and information. Much of it ends up in my every-three-week columns on History Imagined and other blogs. www.historyimagined.com

Can you give us a blurb to let us know what the story is about?

I’ll give you a short one. The longer one is on my website and Amazon.

When Captain Fred Wheatly, a soldier with more honor than sense, is forced to resign from the Bengal army, and his mistress dies leaving him with two half-caste daughters to raise, he reluctantly turns to Clare Armbruster for help. But the interfering widow has her own problems, and a past she would rather forget. With no more military career and two half-caste daughters to support, Fred must return to England and turn once more—as a failure—to the family he let down so often in the past. Can two hearts rise above the past to forge a future together?

Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?

Captain Frederick Wheatly is a natural leader. His instinct for sizing up a situation and making solid decisions serves him well. His men respect him, and the villagers in Dehrapur turn to him, not the tax collector or the cantonment’s commander, for help. On the other hand, he has no patience with bureaucracy or politics, and often ends up in trouble in spite of his determination to do the right thing.  When it comes to women, however, he is utterly clueless.  Even a six year old has more sense of relationships than he does. Luckily, he is easily amused.

Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?

The handsome Tim Olyphant. You can see a touch of the rascal in him.

Timothy Olyphant, the lead actor in the American TV series Justified. He is very Fred!

What book/s are you reading at present?

I just started Anne Perry’s Revenge in a Cold River.

What writing project are you working on next?

I’ve begun The Unexpected Wife, Book 3 in Children of Empire series. Charles Wheatly, Duke of Murnane, Fred’s cousin, is sunk in grief and trapped in a loveless marriage at the beginning of the book. What he needs is an adventure of his own. When the government asks him to look into things in Canton, China, he jumps at the opportunity.

Tell us something unique about you that they wouldn’t guess from just looking at your photograph?

I love the out of doors, whether standing at the shore watching the waves, hiking in the woods, or watching birds at a refuge.

What is your favourite positive saying?

Happiness is a choice we make. Choose it every day.

What is your favourite book and why?

Historical Fiction? The Game of Kings. Recent years? What Angels Fear. Of mine? Dangerous Secrets—and I think this one. It’s a lovely story.

What is your favourite quote?

“You are He who is God. I am she who is not.” (I’ve heard that ascribed to Catherine of Sienna) or as Dorothy Dunnett put it, “We play at being God but the Almighty has a way of reminding us the job is already full.”

What is your favourite movie and why?

Oh please, there are so many. One I particularly liked that bombed was Joe vs. the Volcano. The message was, you can’t fully live unless you’re willing to jump into the volcano (or whatever torrent is in front of you). Staying “safe” is an illusion that results in a sort of half-life.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?

Would you like to share an excerpt from your book?

Of course!

Clare had stopped listening. A prickle of awareness drew her gaze to the entrance where another man entered. He stood well above average height, he radiated coiled strength, and her eyes found his auburn hair unerringly. Captain Wheatly had come. The rapid acceleration of her heart took her off guard. Why should I care that he’s here?

“Clare? The lieutenant asked you a question.”

Lieutenant? Clare blinked to clear her head, only to see Mrs. Davis’s icy glare turned on Captain Wheatly. “Is that your strange captain from the black neighborhood?” she demanded in a faux whisper.

The lieutenant’s avid curiosity added to Clare’s discomfort. “Is that Wheatly in a captain’s uniform? I thought they might demote him after the business with Cornell,” he volunteered.

Clare forced herself to turn to the lieutenant. “Cornell?” she asked to deflect Mrs. Davis’s questions.

“Collector at Dehrapur. Wheatly assaulted the man. Unprovoked, I heard,” the lieutenant answered.

She looked back, unable to stop herself. Merciful angels, he’s seen me. She watched the captain start toward them. At least Gleason could make introductions.

The lieutenant went on as though he had her full attention. “He was in line for promotion, the one that went to your brother instead. Philip posted over there right after it happened.”

Clare found it impossible to look away. The captain gave an ironic smile when he saw her watching. Mrs. Davis gave a sharp intake of breath when she realized Wheatly’s intent. “He’s coming here? Clare, I think I should warn you that a man who has been passed over as this one was—”

Before she could finish, Colonel Davis, who had been coming from the other direction, met the captain and greeted him with a smile. Clare couldn’t hear the words, but Captain Wheatly’s self-deprecating grin seemed to indicate at least a modicum of respect. The two men approached together.

“Captain Frederick Wheatly, may I present my wife, Mrs. Davis.” The captain bowed properly, and the colonel went on, “And our house guest, Miss Armbruster.”

This time the captain’s eyes held a distinct twinkle. “Miss Armbruster and I are acquainted. I met her when she visited her brother in Dehrapur.”

“Of course, of course! I should have remembered,” the colonel said jovially. He leaned toward Clare and winked. “He’s a catch, this one. Doesn’t like to boast of his connections, but earls and dukes lurk in his pedigree. His cousin stepped down from Under-Secretary for War and the Colonies just last year!”

Captain Wheatly looked discomfited by that revelation.

Gleason looked skeptical. “The Duke of Murnane?” he gasped.

Before anyone could answer, the small orchestra hired for the occasion began to play, and the captain cocked an eyebrow as if to ask a question.

“I think the captain wants a dance, Miss Armbruster. It’s your patriotic duty to see to the morale of the troops,” the colonel said coyly.

Captain Wheatly put out a gloved hand, and she put her equally gloved hand in his. Walking away from Gleason and the Davises, she admitted two things to herself. She was glad he came, and she planned to enjoy the dance.

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