Kaye, Marguerite, Unwed and Unrepentant (Armstrong Sisters, Book 5), (Richmond, Surrey: Harlequin (UK) Limited, 2014).
Title: Unwed and Unrepentant (Armstrong Sisters, Book 5)
Author: Marguerite Kaye
Issues: Class Differences; Estrangement; Gendered Expectations (Women);
Burned by love and fearful of being trapped by marriage, headstrong Lady Cordelia Armstrong is furious when her father manipulates her into a betrothal with his business partner, and her one-time lover, Iain Hunter.
Understanding Cordelia’s reluctance, Iain proposes a pretend engagement. For now they will make believe, but there is no need to fake the attraction that still burns hotly between them. As they travel to magical Arabia, the lines between fantasy and reality blur. Will either of them really be able to walk away once their deal is done?
I live on the west coast of Scotland and work in a room that faces right out onto the River Clyde. While I write I see the ferries traipsing back and forth across the river, I see warships and nuclear submarines making their way to and from the naval base at Faslane, and I see huge cruise ships, tankers, trawlers and tiny creelers. In the summer months I also see the Waverley, the only surviving sea-going paddle steamer in the world, and it was the Waverley which provided me with the inspiration for my ship-building hero Iain.
Mind you, I suppose you could say that ship-building is in my blood. My paternal grandfather worked in some of the biggest yards on the Clyde during the Second World War, and in the 1960s was part of the team that built the Queen Elizabeth II. My maternal grandfather was a captain in the Merchant navy, and twice sunk during the same war (he survived both). When I first started to write I remember reading the mantra ‘write what you know’ over and over in various ‘how to write’ books. Since I’ve never found my previous life in IT particularly romantic, I guess this story is as good as ‘writing what you know’ as I’m going to get!
As ever with my books, the plot has gone through a whole series of changes as the characters developed. My dogged perusal of a learned tome called Money, Mania and Markets by R. C. Michie resulted in one fleeting reference to Cordelia’s investment portfolio. The majority of the scenes that I had planned to set in Glasgow ended up on my virtual cutting-room floor, though I’ve used some of their ambience in the scene where Cordelia and Iain visit the Isle of Dogs. While I’d set Cordelia up with some passing references in both The Beauty Within and Rumours That Ruined A Lady, to be honest, I had no more idea than her sisters of why she ran away and what her fate was. I started out putting her in a convent in Italy, then I set her up in business in Glasgow building hotels for young ladies, and at one point I gave her a child, which I killed off and then abandoned altogether.
What I did realise very early on was that she needed a very strong hero – a self-made man to match her self-made woman. Setting the story in the year of Queen Victoria’s ascendancy followed – not only because I needed Cordelia to have packed a bit of experience under her belt, but because it was with Victoria that the meritocracy started to nudge the aristocracy out of power, and I was very keen that her blackguard of a father, Lord Armstrong, was dealt if not a mortal blow then a fairly serious wound to his power base.
This is the last of the Armstrong sisters’ stories – a series which didn’t start out as a series at all, but as a one-off Regency sheikh story. I didn’t plan to come full circle back to where it started, but as I wrote Iain and Cordelia’s story, it felt right to do so.
Thanks to my Facebook friends for all their help and support, assistance with points of detail and ideas – you are stars. And once again thank you to Flo, who deserves some sort of medal for being so patient with me on this one, which had more false starts than the Grand National!