Thursday, May 15, 2014

Character Interview with Alexandra from RICHARD BERKELEY'S BRIDE by Cate Parke

Welcome, can you tell us your name and how you first met your writer?

At my birth, I was named Alexandra Georgiana Mary Sophia Elizabeth Campbell. Alexander Brydgestone was the name of one of my great-grandfathers, the Duke of Exeter. Georgiana, my mother, was named after one of her grandfathers, George, the Duke of Chandos. Mary was given me in honor of my grandmother, Mary Kerr Campbell. Sophia is my grandmother Sophia Marsden, the Duchess of Wessex. All my great-grandmothers were named Elizabeth. I find it amusing because I cannot imagine another person whose great-grandmothers all bore the same name. I met Cate while I was still a child, not long before my father departed for the French and Indian Wars. My father and I were never close. I rarely felt friendly with my governess, Miss Arabella Fentner. I loved my nursemaid, Anna, but I was glad I had Cate’s friendship. I don’t know where she came from. She was always just—there.

Did you ever think that your life would end up being in a book?

I would be lying if I said, “Yes, of course I did.” I had no idea Cate would find Richard and me so fascinating. She must have indeed liked our story. She wrote three books about us.

What are your favorite scenes in your book: the action, the dialog or the romance?

I found Richard’s action scenes a bit alarming. He had not shared them with me. I love Cate’s dialogue. She strives to give our words an almost poetic quality. Of all of them, I find our romantic scenes the best, though. They tell our story better than I could ever have done.

Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?

Not at all, though Richard will tell you she is less than comfortable writing our most intimate scenes.

Do you infiltrate your writer’s dreams?

Yes, I confess I have done so a time or two. Cate tells me it helps her tell our story better.

What do you like to do when you are not being actively read somewhere?

Actually, I do so wish I were busier. I was reared to lead an active, useful sort of life. I loved my studies and playing my pianoforte, but I would like to assist Richard with the estate if he would permit it. We have a large staff of servants, but I have been blessed with a staff of friends who rarely require much of me. I have a journal I write and many friends and family with whom I maintain a regular correspondence, but there are days during which the most useful things I do is to arise each morning or dress for dinner each night. This is a matter in which Richard and I share some disagreement.

Are you happy with the genre your writer has placed you in?

Yes, indeed I do. I love to read romantic novels. Richard might tell you they are my one guilty pleasure. My aunt sends me books that have been published in periodicals. One of them had not yet been completed before I left London for Charlestowne. I could hardly wait until I was alone on a rainy Sunday to finish it. I could not wish for anything better than being the heroine in my very own story.

Do you like the way Richard Berkeley’s Bride ended?

Yes, I do. But, if you read the book, you will discover that it did not really end. Cate’s ending was a double entendre. It had two meanings. Our story continues in Cate’s next book, Dreams Within Dreams.

What is your least favorite characteristic your writer has attributed to you?

Despite my best intentions, I have far too much pride in my antecedents. My grandfather Wessex was directly descended from Plantagenet kings. During our voyage to London, near the book’s end, I confess I created a rather large problem between Richard and me because of my overweening pride.

Do have any secret aspirations that your author doesn’t know about?

No, truly. Cate knows me better, perhaps, even than Richard himself. In point of fact, I find it a bit unnerving. (I believe she knows it, too.)

What is your greatest fear?

I most fear the prospect of ever losing my husband or small son.

What do you wear when you go to sleep?

Oh, dear. I blush to tell you that Richard insists I wear nothing at all.

What is your most prized possession?

I hope you will forgive me, but I have two. My husband and our tiny son fulfill that designation.

What do you find most appealing in men?

In this matter, I find agreement with my husband. Most men share the ability to argue their positions with sound logic. I confess I enjoy listening to them engage in strong arguments with one another.

What do you find most unappealing in women?

In this I find agreement with Richard, as well. Most women of our day consider an educated woman to be unattractive and useless to her husband. They discourage it with their daughters and do not educate them, as if their minds or understanding are somehow weaker than men’s. I particularly dislike spiteful women. I speak with feeling. I have such a cousin, I am sorry to report.

What do you like most about where you live?

I was born at Oakhurst. I have always loved it. The gardens are a miracle of flowers, birdsong and heavenly scents. The people who live there with us are less our servants than our friends. My father freed them from their bondage not long after he purchased Oakhurst. I am glad. I share his and my husband’s opinion of slavery. It is a stain upon mankind’s souls. The house is magnificent. It is far larger than most plantation homes. My grandfather became the Duke of Argyll after his cousin’s death. I believe my father must have wanted to build a home in which he could take pride in hosting his or my mother’s noble families. It is large enough to host both. He chose elegant furnishings that I have never felt called upon to alter—at least, not by very much.

What’s your favorite thing to do on a rainy Sunday?

I smile because I love such days. Unless the roads are mired with ropy red mud, we attend Sunday services with our family and friends. People always seem to about on weekends. My father and father-in-law, my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and one or two other friends or relatives join us. My old childhood friend, Emily Popham and her husband Edmund sometimes come. She was a Middleton and was our next door neighbor until after her marriage. Richard’s cousin, David Smythe and his pretty wife Susan are often with us, too. We visit with friends upon the church lawn and afterward, return home to one of Miss Ruth’s marvelous Sunday dinners. Depending upon the weather, we may take our horses out for a gallop through the fields and woods. Otherwise, the gentlemen play cards or chess or sit about making nuisances of themselves with the ladies. Richard and I are always alone again by supper. We spend whatever remains of the afternoon together, either strolling through our gardens or, in bad weather, we sit and chat on our wide front verandah. In winter, we sit in either the library or the small sitting room. Our drawing room is enormous, and far too large to be kept really warm.

What is your most vivid memory of your mother and father?

Actually, I recall little of my mother beyond those few things either the servants or my father shared. Still I must retain some memory of her. I have a recurring dream of her and in it, powerful sensations of fragrance and color assault my senses. It is spring. Somehow I know it is late March, and I am only eight years old. Frolicking about me, my little Scottish terrier, Angus, is as happy as I am to scamper about while I play hoops on our wide green lawn. I am out-of-doors for the first time all winter, and my heart bursts with joy to be running in the brilliant sunlight.

Dream-like, flowers that could not possibly bloom at the same time filled mama’s garden with color. Exquisite fragrance dance on the breeze. Anna, my nursemaid, watches over my play from the shade beneath a huge live oak festooned with trailing Spanish moss.

Our house is immense with white fluted columns. Upon its wide front verandah, mama and one of the elderly aunts take afternoon tea in its cool shade. Who the aunt must have be I never could say. The only one I possess is my Aunt Caroline, my father’s sister, who lives far, far away in England and is not at all elderly. Besides which, I did not meet her until not long before I turned ten years old.

Mama’s hair was a blaze of color that shone bright red with highlights that set it aflame when touched by a stray sunbeam. Her violet-blue eyes dance with merriment at some comment or other made by the aunt. Her skin is creamy above the shoulders of her violet-sprigged, lavender-colored muslin gown. A violet-colored ribbon set off her tiny waist. Her musical laughter floats down to me. I am delighted to be in Mama’s presence because I admire and love her so much.

My tall, handsome father steps out onto the verandah from the great front door, accompanied by another gentleman, his friend, Mr. Thomas Berkeley. I regarded her father as the handsomest of men. Without a doubt, he was the strongest, wisest man in the world. His face softened and his eyes lit when his gaze fell upon Mama. He stooped to place a hand on her soft shoulder and kiss her bloomy cheek.

“Hullo, Papa!” I call to him when he straightens. He casts his gaze toward me, smiles, and tosses an affable flourish of his hand toward me, calling out a friendly remark about my game. I love the sound of his elegant voice and ever wish to hear it. His voice and laughter always cause me to sense his contentment. I feel safe and happy, simply knowing he is near.

All is beauty, all is comfort and joy.

It was all a fantasy my brain concocted for, you see, my mother passed away before I was three years old. Still, for me to have retained such a strong memory, some parts of it must have been true. I certainly hope it was. I miss her so much—as well as what must have once existed between my parents.

Did you have a pet as a child?

No, never. My governess, Miss Fentner, refused to permit it. She believed animals brought nothing more than dirt, odor, and disease into the house. My nursemaid, Anna would have allowed it. I always wanted a Scottish terrier, but I learned never to mention it.

Excuse me, but I thought you just said you once had a Scotty named Angus?

I sincerely beg your pardon. I said that was the name of the dog I had in my dream. I also mentioned that nothing about my dream was anything more than a fantasy my brain concocted. I now have a Scottish terrier pup, but I named him Gilleasbuig after a heroic antecedent of mine.

What is your least favorite word?

My least favorite word is “no.” It indicates a closed mind. Anything is possible until someone utters that despicable word.

What turns you on?

I beg your pardon, but that is a phrase with which I am unfamiliar. From your grin, though, I surmised you ask what actions of my husband’s that I find particularly…enjoyable. I must therefore tell you that he has to do nothing more than look at me. I love his dark lashed eyes. His warm gaze is suggestive of things I have never before known, never felt or have ever thought possible.

What turns you off?

I find inebriation especially noisome. I feel similarly toward those with unwashed bodies. I do not want such persons near me.

What sound or noise do you love?

I love to hear birds twittering in the trees. It sounds so cheerful. I love the noise of rain pattering down on leaves in a gentle summer shower—or the noise icy rain makes against window panes.

What other profession would you like to try?

Had I been born a man, I would have been a scholar. Such a life would never be permitted a woman, though. No great university would admit her—nor would any Royal Society. She is doomed to be nothing more than a wife and mother. It is how I felt, too, until Richard expressed his pride in my learning. I knew, then, that I could continue my studies. My next goal is to study ancient Hebrew. I have read ancient Christian manuscripts in Latin and ancient Greek. I wish to learn the language in which those books would have originally been written.

What is your favorite memory?

It must surely be the way Richard looked at me on our wedding day. He strolled into the room, freshly shaved and smelling of sandalwood and citrus, resplendent in a sapphire blue coat, pale blue waistcoat and snowy linen shirt. His elaborately knotted white neck cloth was secured by the sapphire stick pin I gave him for Christmas. Pearl gray breeches covered his long, slim legs.

He bent to place a kiss on my cheek and dropped a kiss onto my breast just above the deep décolletage of my dress’s bodice. I recall catching my breath at the warmth of it.

“Ah-h-h, madam,” he breathed into my ear. “I may never get my fill of you. Now, my dear, if we do not hustle ourselves downstairs, our guests will be forced to wait awhile longer for our appearance.”

Understanding his meaning, I looked down, surveyed myself and murmured, “How would it be possible, Richard? There are so many layers of clothing between us.”

His reply? “Believe me, darling, where an intention to achieve survives, a shrewd man will discover a way.” A slow grin lifted his cheeks and crinkled the corners of his eyes. He took my hand, pulled me into his arms and kissed me thoroughly.

I regard the moment as a treasured memory of my wedding day. After the afternoon spent lying in his arms, being introduced to the intimacies of marriage, I did not believe I could have been more in love with him. I have since grown to know him far better and confess, I was terribly wrong. My heart cannot contain my abiding love for my husband.
*   *   *   *   *   *
 Richard Berkeley's Bride
Cate Parke
Historical Romance, @300 pages
Turquoise Morning Press
Will his ambitions and her fears imperil their future
In Charlestowne, South Carolina Colony, 1769, a ship docks containing a treasure beyond most men's dreams--Lord Edward's lovely daughter, Alexandra--destined for one fortunate man, Richard Berkeley. 

Although he's the scion of a wealthy prominent family, the arranged marriage unlocks the door to far greater wealth and power than Richard ever hoped to achieve.  He soon learns his lordship's offer to instate him as his sole heir isn't the only treasure worth risking his life for.  Alexandra is the true prize.

 Intrigued by the proud, wealthy beauty soon to become his wife, Richard sets aside his mistress.  But Eliza Perrineau had long schemed to become Richard's fiancée and is furious when he cast her off.  Her plans for revenge quickly swell wildly and threaten to destroy Richard.  Her cousin, Lord Thomas Graham plans to ensure his untimely demise and has him charged with murder.  Unless Richard can prove his innocence fast, he'll swing for a crime he didn't commit.
Alexandra has her own secrets--including deep-seated fears that imperil their chance for happiness.  But Richard discovers Alexandra's love is a prize worth protecting--if only he can help her overcome her fears and past struggles to create a marriage truly worthy of their love. 

Buy Links:    Amazon     Turquoise Morning Press   
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Charlestowne, South Carolina Colony, March 1768
Richard Berkeley broke the wax seal on his father’s message and read, “14th March. Lord Edward’s house, Meeting Street. Supper, eight o’clock. We have an offer to tender.
~Thos. Berkeley
Postscript: It’s time you married, boy. We want heirs.

Richard’s eyes widened and one eyebrow ratcheted up several notches. What in hell does this mean? Marriage…heirs? What the devil are my father and Lord Edward up to now?

He’d once considered ways he hated starting his day and this note just shot to the top of his list.

It occurred to him one of two possibilities existed. Either a life-changing opportunity knocked or he should run the other way—fast. The latter option was undoubtedly the best.


“Come in, my son, come in.” Thomas Berkeley boomed, clapping Richard’s shoulder. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

He turned and indicated a winged armchair across from Lord Edward. His father’s hearty good humor deepened Richard’s wariness.

A worm of suspicion wriggled into Richard’s core. The glee contained in his father’s words triggered his conjecture that his elder barely restrained himself from rubbing his hands together in eagerness.

Richard sat, and crossed an ankle over his knee. He contained an urge to drum his fingers on the chair’s arm and gripped it instead, while brooding, not for the first time that day, over what game these two schemers played. So he smoldered—not a little irritated over their intrusion into his well-deserved freedom—and gripped the chair so hard he left a deep imprint in the chair’s well-padded arm.

“Good evening, my boy. Busy day?”

Lord Edward Campbell passed Richard a shimmering tumbler half-full of whisky. More than
a little smug, his lordship’s piercing, blue-eyed stare pinned Richard against the chair’s back. Richard had always admired Lord Edward’s ability to miss not a single detail during complex negotiations. Yet his admiration did nothing to decrease his mounting uneasiness.

Flickering candles alight in eight-branched candelabras, set on tables near them, chased deep dusk from the room and sparkled in the panes of tall, satin-draped windows.

Richard’s quick glance slid toward first one man, then the other, still pondering what these two wanted of him. What did their earlier comment regarding his conjugal condition have to do with anything? And heirs? Wide smirks plastered the older men’s features.

“Pardon me, sirs, but you leave me with the grim notion that you haven’t merely invited me to eat supper—but to be the main course.”

Chuckling at Richard’s quip, Lord Edward leaned forward. “Thomas and I wish to propose a betrothal.”

Richard’s head snapped up. A pin’s drop, falling onto the Persian carpet beneath his feet, would have echoed throughout the room. Well, now I know.

“A betrothal, my lord? May I ask to whom?”

Richard took a modest sip of the excellent whisky to cover his sudden urge to gulp. It’s a damned good thing my mouth wasn’t full of this when he made that pronouncement or his lordship might have worn the evidence of my surprise. It was the single thing he’d found to smile about…if only a smile could be mustered. His father and Lord Edward grinned enough for all three of them, like two aging cats that had gotten into a canary’s cage with satisfactory results.

His lordship’s meticulous scrutiny left Richard feeling as though he were a naturalist’s specimen.

“Yes, Richard. My daughter, Alexandra, is now of age and soon to have her London season. Afterward, she will return home and then you both may marry. My father assures me she resembles her mother in every way.”

Richard’s glance skipped toward a portrait of Lady Georgiana, hanging above the fireplace. He knew the painting well, having seen it many times, and admired the lady’s extraordinary beauty. Lord Edward’s daughter might be the mirror image of her mother, yet he wasn’t ready to surrender the freedom his bachelor life afforded, nor ready to change his connubial status.

At twenty-six, he deemed himself entitled to independence. After years spent pursuing his studies, first at Eton, then Christ Church, Oxford and, afterward, London’s Middle Temple, he’d worked hard to gain credentials anyone would find impressive for a man his age. Hard upon his return to Charlestowne, Lord Edward, his old mentor, lured him into his far-flung shipping venture and other financial schemes.

“I’m pleased you’d consider me worthy of your daughter, My Lord. I recall her, of course, but she was just a small child when I left for England. I know little of her except her name.”

“Hm-m. Yes, that is a difficulty, my boy.” His Lordship stared at him, and steepled his fingers. “Of course, she will be home next year and then you may meet her.”

Richard cleared his throat. “If I may, sir, I sail to London next month on business. May I propose meeting her then? Afterward, I’ll reply to your proposal.”

One of Lord Edward’s elegant brows lifted. “She leaves London for Inveraray Castle, my father’s home in Scotland, before your arrival in London, Richard.” He stirred in his chair and crossed one leg over the other. “If you wish, I will send a letter of introduction to my father with you. After our affairs in London are concluded you may travel to Argyllshire to meet her.”

“I’m flattered, sir. I will, of course, be happy to make your daughter’s acquaintance. May I ask why I was chosen?” Richard was careful to remain blasé.

“I have intended you for her since you were but a young lad.” His lordship’s smug grin was that of a man satisfied all his plans had come to fruition.

“Thomas permitted me a share in your rearing, Richard. You have grown to be a fine man whom I admire and trust. I flatter myself I played a small role in the outcome. Indeed, I could not be prouder of you if you were my own son.”

“Edward and I spoke of this possibility when you and his daughter were both but youngsters, my son. It’s our hope you’ll concede to our proposal.”

Two pairs of shrewd eyes in the faces of his elders stabbed him. “Your marriage to my daughter will unite two excellent names and fortunes into a mighty alliance. I will, of course, make you my heir.

It was the coup ď grâce. Richard strove but failed to restrain the outward sign of the piercing pleasure that speared him.

Thoughts cascaded through his head. Well, I’d hoped to create a name and fortune in Charlestowne. Here it is…offered up for the taking.

Possessed of a prominent and ancient name in the city, Richard’s family was amongst the colony’s most affluent. The eldest son of the eldest son, he’d inherit it all.

“The question is,” he thought, “am I willing to surrender my independence for a girl I hardly remember? Well, Richard old man, there’s only one way to know.” And, if he was right, she just might be the wife he sought—the one worth far more than his forfeited bachelorhood.


Lord Edward snapped the seal on the message and scanned the few words, allowing a slow triumphant smile to slide onto his face.

Thursday, 20th October 1768

Inveraray Castle


I have been introduced to your daughter. Miss Campbell is everything you described, yet far more. Consider me the willing fly caught in your web, my lord. I accept your proposal. I am

Your obedient servant &c

~Richard Berkeley



Author Bio:

I am a writer of historical romances. As a member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers and Celtic Rose Writers, I'm write historical romance. I’ve been an avid reader all my life and began writing seriously eight years ago. In my day job, I am a registered nurse. It has been my privilege to practice Pediatric nursing during my entire career. I’m also the wife of a retired U.S. Navy Officer. I've lived and travelled with him for the twenty-six years of his career. With him I've visited England, Canada, Mexico and all but four of the United States. Thanks to him, I've dipped my toes in every body of water that washes America’s shores, including the Gulfs of Mexico and California and even the Arctic Ocean (br-r). I’ve travelled over, under and on both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. After many journeys across this great nation and back again, I now live, love and write among the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in lovely Northeast Tennessee.

As it happens, I was born on a Tuesday. I'm convinced my mother made a mistake, though. I believe she meant to give birth to me the previous Thursday. According to the old Mother Goose tale, which says Thursday's Child has far to go, my life would have been far better defined. Also, I would have been born under the sign of the lion, which would have reflected my redheaded temperament much, much better. It's true. What could my mother have been thinking??? (I really had red hair once upon a time. I was born with it and had it all my life--until not long ago...but that’s another story. That's true, too.)

According to that dear old Mother Goose tale, I should have been born full of grace. So very sad, but nobody ever, ever attributed me with this particular virtue. After only one college class in dance I was convinced of the unfortunate truth. I can’t sing. True. Nobody would ever ask me to do more than add volume to a chorus. I can’t paint or even draw a picture using more than shoddy stick figures. My mother was an artist. Dear Mom didn’t pass along a single shred of her skill. So what does a girl do whose soul demands expression? She becomes a writer to fulfill its burning need. That’s also true.


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1 comment:

  1. Thank you for hosting Alexandra Berkeley and me on your lovely site. We've enjoyed it!