My Friday Read this week plunges us into a dark world of conspiracies, deceit, revenge and kidnap with the historical romance, An Imperfect Life by M.J. Logue.
A woman is brutally strangled and then burned, together with the family house, Four Ashes. It is apparent that the murderer is known to her, but who can it be?
Upon learning that he will now be master of the house her estranged brother, retired Admiralty intelligencer Major Thankful Russell, realises to his astonishment that the young woman he’s been secretly in love with for the last five years, is keen to share it with him – and at last he can openly court Thomazine Babbitt, in one of the unlikeliest love affairs in Essex: the shy, disfigured, half-handsome bachelor of forty-two, and the competent, not-quite-pretty twenty-year-old daughter of his old commander. For Thomazine, it seems, has loved her rebel angel all her life, scars and all.
But suddenly immersed in a boisterous and dangerous world of Restoration London, full of rogues and libertines, Thomazine begins to wonder how well she can really know her childhood sweetheart – a man she would previously never have suspected of friends in high places, let alone rubbing shoulders with the likes of Sam Pepys and Aphra Behn.
And as war with the Dutch looms and tensions run high in the capital, the darkness of Russell’s past is suddenly exposed – and someone at Court is determined that he shouldn’t get his happy ever after.
Could a man whose principles led him to once take up arms against his King, turn his coat again and work against His Majesty for the Dutch Republic?
And will Thomazine’s sense of purpose, and her faith in happy ever after, finally be undermined as they are tested to the ultimate?
Meet the Author
M J Logue has been passionate about the English Civil War since writing her first novel over 20 years ago. After a brief flirtation with horror and dark fantasy, she returned to her first love, historical fiction, and now combines the two. She has a degree in English Literature, trained as an archivist, and likes Jacobean theatre, loud music and cheese.
I asked M.J to tell us a bit more bout herself:
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes: I’m the daughter of two alcoholics (one of whom was a writer…) and when you’re a child growing up in that level of substance-controlled chaos, it’s very important to you to be able to impose a sense of order on your life . I started writing when I was probably about five or six; I had two invisible friends (most real-life friends were discouraged from coming to my house for fear that one or other parent would be drunk) who were horses, called Napoleon and Josephine. Much of my early school diaries featured the adventures of Napoleon and Josephine, instead of my own. Much more interesting than my real life at the time.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
Well, I write historical fiction, so I’m obliged to stick to real-life incidents, albeit of the seventeenth century 😀
Colonel Hollie Babbitt is based on a real-life person, yes. Not a historical one, but a real one. The red-headed temper and the tendency towards intemperacy is entirely inherited from me, I fear: many of his less professional exploits are shamelessly lifted from the exploits of various disreputable re-enactors of my acquaintance.
And Thankful Russell is also based on a real person, who finds it an absolute hoot that he’s considered a romantic hero in some quarters. Being – like Russell himself – decent, plainspoken, loving and kind, in a somewhat understated manner.
What are you writing at the moment?
The sequel to An Imperfect Enjoyment, which is called An Abiding Fire. I don’t think the Russells ever intended to keep having adventures, but somehow adventures keep finding them! This one’s Aphra Behn, and spying, and the occasional murder in Bruges. Secrets and conspiracies and a past that just won’t lie down. Oh, and a horrible little black dog called Schurk – because every dark and brooding hero with a tragic romantic past needs a horrible little black dog to attach itself to him and periodically embarrass him in public. Dogs always know, you know….
What inspired you to write this book?
Ha! Well, it started with the first series I wrote (book 6 and counting, currently) and in the first book there’s a reference to one of the casualties of a battle who’s tall, blonde, and has a significant facial injury. Which is not Russell – who first appears in the second book – but for some reason various readers thought it was. And so he stayed in the series, even though he wasn’t meant to.
And the thing is, I don’t know if as a writer you ever have the impression of a character who’s sort of standing glowering at you with his arms folded, but believe you me Thankful Russell has been giving me the hairy eyeball since then, wanting to know at what point I’m going to stop putting him through the mill and give him his Happy Ever After. (A thing which was very much overdue, poor boy. He had a rough start, even for a young lieutenant in the 1640s.)
After what I put him through in the Uncivil Wars books, he deserved a break, so I wrote up the history of his courtship and eventual, eventful marriage. Which is An Imperfect Enjoyment. But – he is the man he is, and he’s not wired up for a quiet life, and he’s married to Thomazine, who’s not wired up for a quiet life either….
What are your hobbies?
Extreme embroidery, cake, cat-wrangling (we have five) and 17th century re-enactment with the Wardour Garrison.
I also enjoy dressmaking – not just period costume, but what passes for modern in my world, to wit wearable vintage – my particular thing is 1930s fashion. Honestly, you might even think I was stylish at times!
Amazon links: Author.to/MJLogue
Lovely to talk to you, M.J. thanks for dropping by!
Bring a little sunshine into your life with one of my sassy, feel good romances. From Amazon and other book stories. All books available as ebooks and print.