Please welcome Susanna Fraser to Novel Reflections. Susanna is taking over the blog today to share with us about her latest historical romance release AN INFAMOUS MARRIAGE via Carina Press. Meet Susanna, get to her know her book, read an excerpt, and comment for a chance to win a copy, plus information on how you can enter to win a $50 eGC!
At long last, Britain is at peace, and General Jack Armstrong is coming home to the wife he barely knows. Wed for mutual convenience, their union unconsummated, the couple has exchanged only cold, dutiful letters. With no more wars to fight, Jack is ready to attempt a peace treaty of his own.
Elizabeth Armstrong is on the warpath. She never expected fidelity from the husband she knew for only a week, but his scandalous exploits have made her the object of pity for years. Now that he’s back, she has no intention of sharing her bed with him—or providing him with an heir—unless he can earn her forgiveness. No matter what feelings he ignites within her…
Jack is not expecting a spirited, confident woman in place of the meek girl he left behind. As his desire intensifies, he wants much more than a marriage in name only. But winning his wife’s love may be the greatest battle he’s faced yet.
Thank you for having me as a guest on Novel Reflections for the final stop of my blog tour for An Infamous Marriage, my new historical romance.
I don’t set out to put myself into my stories, but sometimes bits and pieces of my life experiences while writing a particular book manage to work their way in. For example, I wrote the first draft of my first published book, The Sergeant’s Lady, when my daughter was a baby. My feelings about becoming a parent, and about enduring a difficult childbirth, show up on the page.
An Infamous Marriage was the first manuscript I completed after suffering a pinched nerve in my neck while trying to complete NaNoWriMo using a desk with poor ergonomics. Since my most prominent symptom was a numb left hand, I was initially misdiagnosed as having carpal tunnel syndrome. I had a doctor ready to do surgery on my wrist before I talked to a neurologist friend. I complained that no one seemed to be listening when I told them my shoulder and upper arm hurt, too. She said that sounded like a pinched nerve to her, and for God’s sake to get a second opinion before I let anyone operate on me.
It turned out her Facebook-chat diagnosis was spot on, though I had to go through a lot of testing and prodding and ruling out other, scarier options before it was confirmed. The process dragged out for almost a year, a year in which I got almost no writing done. But eventually I healed enough through physical therapy, exercise, and massage that I didn’t need surgery for the pinched nerve.
And two years after the initial injury, that’s where it stands. On my best days, my left hand is 95% as healthy as the right, but every so often I’ll sleep wrong or skip my exercises too many days or push myself too hard at my day job or my writing. Then my muscles tighten up and the pain comes back. I’ve accepted that I may never heal completely, and I’ll always have to pace myself at the keyboard. But at least I can still write. I experimented with Dragon Dictate during the worst of my symptoms and found it excruciatingly slow and frustrating, so I had weeks of wondering what would happen if I never got better.
How did this come out in An Infamous Marriage? Well, Jack Armstrong, the hero, is an Army officer who sustains a broken leg when his horse is shot out from under him in battle. Early 19th century medicine being what it is, it heals badly, leaving him with a permanent limp. An active, energetic man, he’s desperate to heal well enough to get his old life back. Here’s a little of what he tells the heroine, his estranged wife Elizabeth, the day after they’re reunited when he come home from the wars in 1815:
As they crossed the lawn to the outbuildings, Elizabeth didn’t know what to feel. His old injury didn’t seem to slow him, but he still walked with a faint limp that put a hitch in the rhythm of his steps. “Does your leg pain you still?” she asked.
“A little, especially on cold days.”
Elizabeth glanced sidelong at her husband and noticed his jaw was clenched and his mouth set. “You’re in pain now, aren’t you? Perhaps we should go back inside.”
“No. If I rest too much it stiffens up. Besides—I’m too young to turn invalid, go on half pay for good and spend the rest of my life hobbling about the house with a cane. I’m no good in my profession if I can’t walk and ride.”
And a little later in the same scene, they’re sharing memories of Elizabeth’s first husband, who was Jack’s childhood best friend. (They married to fulfill a deathbed promise to him.)
“I still miss Giles,” he said softly, and she looked at him in surprise. “He was my first true friend, you know. Our mothers were friends, and he was the only boy near my age in Selyhaugh. And then when I started school, I was small for my age and didn’t know how to go on. It helped, more than I can say, to have someone like him to take my part. He had the gift of making friends.”
The last thing Elizabeth had expected from Jack was an acknowledgement of the shared grief that had bound them together, nor the admission that he had ever been a vulnerable, lonely boy in need of a friend. “Yes, he did.”
“I especially miss him, here.” Jack gestured around at the barn. “I taught him to ride on my old pony, since the Hamiltons didn’t keep a horse, and we used to play at reivers in the bastle barn. Even though this is my house, I always had to act the part of the reiver, since everyone knows the Armstrongs were notorious raiders in those days.”
Elizabeth hadn’t known any such thing, but she supposed if she’d grown up in the Border country she would have. “I don’t think you minded,” she guessed. “
No, not at all. The reiver had so many more chances to sneak and climb and shout than the defender did. I hated being still.”
He hated it to this day, as far as she could tell. “You would’ve run mad if you hadn’t regained the use of your leg, wouldn’t you? It’s not just about your profession.”
“You’re right,” he said soberly. “There were days, when the surgeons said I’d never be able to walk unaided or ride again, where I came close to it.”
She hesitated a moment, then reached out to touch his arm, very lightly. “I’m glad it didn’t come to that.”
He looked down at her hand, then met her eyes. Elizabeth jerked her hand away. For a moment, she hadn’t seen his betrayal and her pain, but his sufferings. Why was she so tempted to sympathy and forgiveness?
I’ll be giving away a copy of An Infamous Marriage to one commenter on this post in your choice of ebook format. And on December 6 I’m holding a grand prize drawing to give away a $50 gift card to the winner’s choice of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Powell’s to one commenter on my blog tour as a whole. If you’d like to be entered for either prize, please include your email address in the format yourname AT yourhost DOT com.
I look forward to replying to your comments, but since I live in Seattle and have an 8-5 day job, it will be my evening before I get a chance to do so.
About the Author
Susanna Fraser wrote her first novel in fourth grade. It starred a family of talking horses who ruled a magical land. In high school she started, but never finished, a succession of tales of girls who were just like her, only with long, naturally curly and often unusually colored hair, who, perhaps because of the hair, had much greater success with boys than she ever did.
Along the way she read her hometown library’s entire collection of Regency romance, fell in love with the works of Jane Austen, and discovered in Patrick O’Brian’s and Bernard Cornwell’s novels another side of the opening decades of the 19th century. When she started to write again as an adult, she knew exactly where she wanted to set her books. Her writing has come a long way from her youthful efforts, but she still tends to give her heroines great hair.
Susanna lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and daughter. When not writing or reading, she goes to baseball games, watches Chopped, Castle, and The Legend of Korra, and cooks her way through an ever-growing cookbook collection.
Please leave a commenter per Susanna’s instructions above. (Hint: They’re in bold! )