Interview With Susan Leigh Furlong
"She wants to take off his head. He wants to win her heart.” Has there ever been a more compelling tagline for a novel? Susan Leigh Furlong’s latest medieval romance, By Promise Made will be published on September 23 by The Wild Rose Press. Susan joins us today to chat about a variety of topics, including her new novel, its connection to her previous novel (Steadfast Will I Be), and her urge to channel her inner Judge Judy. Be sure to read to the bottom for a tantalizing excerpt from By Promise Made as well as back-cover blurbs for both books.
Welcome, Susan! How did you get your ideas for Steadfast Will I Be and By Promise Made?
I have always been a history buff, loving to read about historical people and events. Several years ago I was enjoying myself by randomly looking through history books in the library (It sounds so nerdy when I say it!) when I came across a book about the royalty of Scotland that told how King James V’s step-father held him prisoner until he escaped at age 16. That set me off on the story for Steadfast. I also read about Mary, Queen of Scots and her betrothal at age four to the son of King Henry VIII and later at age five to the Dauphin of France. That led me to the plot for Promise. I only need a nugget to get my mind off to the races!
What makes Hugh Cullane, hero of By Promise Made, tick?
Hugh is one of my favorite hero types—the reckless bad boy with a generous heart. Hugh, an orphan living on the streets until Robin—my hero from Steadfast Will I Be—adopts him, never quite adjusts to a normal life. When he leaves home at age twenty, he survives by gambling and carousing in London. A rash bet loses him the dagger Robin gave him and leads eventually to the accidental death of the man who won it. Hugh is sentenced to hang, but a pardon sends him to Scotland to offer a betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary. There he meets Katherine, the queen’s guardian, who threatens to send his severed head back in a jar, and he finally realizes that he wants to live for a greater cause than himself. He wants to stand with Katherine to protect the young queen.
How did you get interested in the medieval era?
I have always been interested in history, but had never read a romance book until I won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux from a local bookstore. I fell in love! Another of Deveraux’s books, A Knight in Shining Armor, is my favorite romance book of all time, and from the first read, I was hooked on the medieval era.
What talent do you wish you had? I wish I could draw. I have absolutely no artistic talent. When I taught first grade, I drew pictures on the board and the students were to draw the picture and write the word under it. Every morning I went over the pictures two and three times. “This is a cow. This is a dog. This is a tree.” Sometimes the students were very surprised!
What is your favorite guilty pleasure TV show?
I love Judge Judy! I am fascinated by the way some people think the rules of life apply to everyone but them. Some of their reasoning astounds me, but what I love the most is how Judge Judy sets them straight. There are people in this world I’d love to tell how it is!
Would you rather teleport or read minds?
I’d choose teleportation. I hate to ride in a car or on an airplane. Not only do I get motion sickness, but it is so boring!
Would you rather lose the ability to read or the ability to speak?
This would be a terrible choice, but I would choose to lose the ability to speak. I could continue to communicate with sign language or by writing things down, but to lose what thousands of people have written or the stories they have created would be a tragedy.
Blurb for By Promise Made (release date September 23, 2020 by The Wild Rose Press; available now for pre-order)
She wants to take off his head. He wants to win her heart.
All Hugh Cullane wants to do is to return home to the Highlands after delivering a message of betrothal from the English king to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. What he doesn’t count on is Katherine Payne, Mary’s guardian, who in rejecting the marriage proposal, orders him beheaded and his head sent back to England in a jar. Nor does he count on falling in love with her.
Katherine, trained to protect Queen Mary at all cost, sacrifices any expectation of a personal life, but the handsome rogue carrying the despised message of marriage unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Now trapped on the battlefield between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh, knowing that Katherine is the woman he needs to counterbalance his untamed spirit, joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder Mary in their own quest for power.
Excerpt from By Promise Made
He lowered his lips until he felt her body heat on his face as he murmured in husky tones, “Just one kiss to remember for the rest of my life.”
Locking eyes with her, he waited until she nodded ever so slightly. Then he kissed her, tenderly. She tasted like warm honey. A whimpering sigh left her throat that encouraged him to lean ever closer so his tongue could gently wet and separate her full lips. She opened her mouth a bit and kissed him back.
Lifting his head, he looked at her curiously. Something stirred inside his chest, something he’d never felt before, and he didn’t quite understand it. All he knew for sure was that just one kiss from this beautiful woman would never be enough. He wanted to know everything about her. He wanted to hear her voice, to see her smile, and to find out all about her. Who she was and who she wanted to be.
He wanted this woman to know his secrets, to hear his wishes. That itch inside him, the one he could never quite scratch, the one that made him restless and careless, eased and softened. Although this wasn’t his first kiss, it somehow mattered more than any other kiss he’d ever had.
He kissed her again. His tongue darted along her teeth and then into the juicy cavern of her mouth. She did not refuse him as he suckled her tender lips. She responded to his kiss, pulling him near, offering more of her mouth. She moaned quietly and ever so slightly eased her body closer to his as her hands worked their way up his back.
Pausing briefly in the most delicious kiss he’d ever had, he whispered, “My name is Hugh Cullane.” He brushed his lips against hers again. “What should I call ye, my beautiful princess?” Softly he licked her lips with his tongue.
“Call me whatever ye wish,” she said, locking her fingers into his hair and snapping his head and shoulders away from her with unexpected strength. She swung her right fist squarely into his jaw, and after a quick jerk of her knee into his groin, he fell to the ground, coughing and gagging. With one last powerful kick to the ribs, she ran madly away around the hill.
As he struggled to take a full breath, a sharp jab of pain bit through his side. Letting his head drop to the ground, he rolled over onto his back.
“Oh, my Lord!” he said aloud between coughs. “I do believe I have offended the lady.”
Blurb for Steadfast Will I Be (released by The Wild Rose Press in June 2019)
The king’s law, a thief’s revenge, a love that risks it all
Vicious gangs of reivers roam Scotland during the tumultuous reign of James V, and one of these gangs, led by a man with a red stain on his face, threatens all that Robin holds dear. The man steals Robin’s ear and then nearly steals his life, but Robin will not let him take anything else, not his home, not his family, and not the woman he loves. Even when accused of murder and facing the hangman’s noose, Robin will remain steadfast above all else.
As long as she lives, Suannoch will carry half of the shilling she and Robin split when they pledged their devotion to each other. Even after she is forced into an unwanted betrothal, their unwavering love is stronger than anything trying to keep them apart. After Robin’s arrest, Suannoch vows to rescue him, or bring his body back, because where they have chosen, steadfast will they be.