Burke and Hare: Scotland's Infamous Serial Killers
In the early 1800s, Great Britain's medical colleges grew to capacity, and while most classes could be taught in lecture halls, anatomy classes needed a corpse for demonstration purposes.
Up until the 19th century, the only cadavers that could be used in these classes were those of recently executed criminals, as at the time it was unthinkable to disturb a person's remains. The number of executions was, as William Roughead wrote, "...wholly inadequate to meet the growing needs, and the surgeons' and barbers' apprentices had been in use diligently to till the soil and reap the harvest of what has been finely called 'Death's mailing.'"
The practice of grave robbing soon became the regular occupation of some underworld characters, and author Hugh Douglas wrote of the proficiency of these grave robbers. They could open a grave, remove a body and restore the soil between patrols of the night watch. The following day, the relatives could mourn by the grave, unaware that their loved one was on an anatomy slab in Edinburgh.
Though doctors and their assistants most likely suspected that the bodies were from graves, they generally said nothing in order to keep students interested in the anatomy classes.
Irishmen William Burke and William Hare developed a more direct method of providing fresh cadavers to Edinburgh anatomy schools.
While lodging at Maddiston during his work on the Canal, Burke met Helen McDougal, a native Scot who was then, after separating from her legal husband, living with a man with whom she had two children. Burke and McDougal left Maddiston together after the Canal work was done, apparently leaving the two children behind, and the couple journeyed to Peebles and Leith and then Edinburgh, scraping out a living by working on farms, selling old clothes, and mending shoes.
William Hare had also traveled from Ireland to Scotland to work on the Union Canal, although it is not known if he came across Burke there. After the completion of the Canal, Hare went to Edinburgh and found cheap lodgings in the area known as West Port at the boarding house of a man named Logue and his wife Margaret, who was also an Irish native. When Logue died in 1826, Hare and the widowed Margaret were soon living as common-law husband and wife and running the lodging house as a married couple. 
When Burke and McDougal moved to Edinburgh, they took up residence in West Port and by chance met Margaret Hare one day, who invited them back to the boarding house and introduced them to her husband. Soon after, Burke and McDougal became paying lodgers of the Hares. The four of them would quarrel often and could never be described as friends, but they became permanently linked by a fondness for whisky and the desire to make easy money.
In November of 1827, one of Hares lodgers, an old army pensioner named Donald, fell ill and died. Hare was not concerned about the man's death, but was outraged that Donald had passed away owing 4 pound rent.
After the authorities had been called to fetch the man's body, Hare came up with a plan to get the money Donald owed him. With Burke's assistance, they took Donald's body out of the coffin and replaced it with an equal weight of tree bark and hid the corpse until the coffin had been taken away. The two then went off to find the offices of anatomy instructor Professor Munro, but, in asking directions, were redirected to the classrooms of Professor Robert Knox, whose assistants said that they were interested in the body, and to bring it after nightfall.
That night Knox's doorman answered the bell to find Burke and Hare and a large sack. Three of Knox's assistants examined the body and offered to pay a little over 7 pound for it. The two men quickly agreed, and left the doctors rooms discussing the obvious advantages of this method of making significant amounts of money with so little effort.
Another of Hares lodgers, Joseph the Miller, fell ill not many days later.Joseph owed no money to Hare and was not as seriously ill as Donald had been, but Hare and Burke discussed the situation and decided, with no medical expertise whatsoever, that Joseph was going to die, and was in pain, and they decided to put him out of his misery.
The two, showing great sympathy for Joseph's discomfort, gave the sick man glasses of whisky until Joseph fell unconscious. Then one of the men held Josephs nose and mouth shut while the other spread himself across the victim's prone body, pining the arms and preventing any struggle.
Joseph never regained consciousness and was soon on Knox's doorstep. Burke and Hare had stumbled onto a foolproof method of murder with Joseph: it appeared that the victim had died from illness or drunkenness and there were no incriminating marks. They would repeat the process frequently over the next 11 months.
Hares other lodgers continued to be healthy, and so Burke and Hare eventually felt the need to seek out new merchandise for Dr. Knox outside of the lodging house.
In February of 1828, elderly Abigail Simpson traveled into Edinburgh to collect her pension money. She started back home with a few shillings in her pocket when she met up with William Hare, who invited her to his lodging house to have a dram and rest up before her long journey home. She agreed and soon Burke and Helen joined her and the Hares and they all drank until the evening. Being dark and cold, Abigail was easily persuaded to stay the night and then continue home the following morning. Burke and Hare had other ideas for her, but they were also so inebriated that they both fell asleep.
The following morning, Abigail awoke with a bad hangover, and accepted Burke and Hares remedy of a little more whisky. The first whisky was followed by another, and soon Abigail was once again asleep on the bed. She didn't put up a fight as Burke and Hare smothered her, and her body was packed into a tea chest and taken that evening to Knoxs rooms. For the first time Dr. Knox personally inspected the body, and he remarked on the freshness of the cadaver, but did not inquire further. He authorized a payment of 10 pounds.
Not long after Abigail's demise, another of Hares lodgers, an Englishman who sold matches, fell ill. As they had with Joseph, Burke and Hare charitably put the poor man out of his suffering.
Although Hare and Burke would later swear that neither Margaret nor Helen knew anything about the murders, the next victim brings this assertion into question. One day Margaret Hare encountered an old woman out in the streets of Edinburgh and brought her back to her house where she began giving the woman whisky. Margaret told the woman she should lie down, but the old woman declined and kept drinking. After three attempts, Margaret finally got the woman to rest in the bed and quickly sent for her husband and Burke, who later appeared at Dr. Knox's doorstep that evening with a fresh delivery.
On the morning of April 9, 1828, 18-year-old West Port prostitutes Mary Paterson and Janet Brown began their day by heading to a local tavern, where they encountered William Burke, who invited them back to his house for breakfast. Mary readily agreed, but Janet took more convincing. Yet soon all three went off to Burke's brothers home, where the drinking continued and they had breakfast. Mary fell asleep at the table, and so Burke asked Janet to accompany him to another tavern, where Janet drank more but did not become drunk. Burke took her back to his brother's house and offered her more drink, but was surprised by a sudden appearance of Helen, who screamed at Burke and Janet. A fight ensued as Burke shouted back and eventually threw Helen out.
Janet, upset by the incident, prepared to leave, although Burke tried several times to convince her to stay. Janet refused, but said she would return after Helen, who was still screaming and cursing from outside the door, had left.
Instead of going home, Janet stopped by the lodging house of a Mrs. Lawrie, with whom she and Mary had once lodged. Janet told Lawrie of the day's events, and the landlady became concerned for Mary's safety and told Janet and one of her servants to return to Hares and fetch Mary back immediately.
On returning to Burke's brother's home, Janet found only the Hares and Helen in the house. She was told that Mary had gone out with Burke but would return soon. Janet sent the servant back to Mrs. Lawries and sat down to wait.
The servant told Mrs. Lawrie what had happened, and the landlady again became alarmed and told the servant to go back and bring Janet back with her. Janet dutifully returned to Mrs. Lawries, avoiding for the third time that day the fate that had already befallen Mary.
Mary Paterson's murder was the riskiest Burke and Hare had yet committed. When they brought the body to Dr. Knox's, several of his students recognized her, probably from having hired her services previously. Burke and Hare chose not to elaborate on how they came into possession of the body, and Knox's doorman stated that her body was so good a specimen that many of the students took sketches of it, one of which is in my possession.
In his work as cobbler, Burke occasionally bought leather from a beggar-woman named Effie. One morning she attempted to sell some scraps to Burke, who invited her in and took her out to the lodging houses stable. After several drinks, Effie fell asleep in the straw, Burke went to fetch Hare, and that evening they were 10 pounds richer.
Having brought several bodies to Dr. Knox without casting overt suspicion on himself, Burke became even bolder and began taking more risks. In the streets one morning he encountered two policemen carrying an obviously drunken woman to jail so that she could sleep off the previous night's entertainment. Burke told the officers that he knew the woman, even knew where she lived, and would take her home and see that she was properly taken care of. Burke and Hare divided another 10 pound that night.
In June of 1828, Burke found an old man wandering the streets and lured him with promises of whisky to come home with him. They were later stopped by an old woman and a young boy, who asked for directions to the home of a friend of theirs. Burke said he knew exactly where they needed to go, and abandoned the old man and said he would take them to their friends but why not stop and rest first at his house? The woman agreed and explained that the boy was her deaf grandson, and they were not familiar with Edinburgh.
The woman was soon inebriated from the refreshments , and while her grandson was with Margaret and Helen in another room, Burke and Hare murdered the woman by their usual method. Debate then began about the boy. Being young, they feared he would not take whisky, but they were afraid to let him go out on the streets where he might lead people back to the house. When the boy became increasingly anxious about the absence of his grandmother, Burke grabbed the boy and broke the childs' back over his knee although he later claimed that the boy had been smothered. Both bodies were wedged into an old herring barrel and fetched 8 pound each from Dr. Knox.
Also in June, Burke and Helen took a brief respite from his work to visit some of Helens relatives. In his later confession, Burke stated that prior to their leaving, Margaret suggested that Helen be murdered, but Burke refused. Probably for this reason, and also because Burke discovered that Hare had been working solo in supplying Dr. Knox during his absence, Burke and Helen moved out of Hares lodging house and into quarters nearby soon after the return from their vacation.
Although living separately, the two men continued to ply their trade as a team. A Mrs. Ostler came to Burke's new boarding house for a celebration in honor of the landlord's new baby and was never seen again. A relative of Helens, Ann McDougal, visited in Edinburgh and stayed with Burke and Helen. Ann was soon dispatched by the usual method, although Burke nobly persuaded Hare to take the active part in that murder since Ann was a distant friend of Burkes. Ann turned out to be a good friend indeed, providing Burke and his partner with another 10.
William Hare met Mary Haldane, an elderly prostitute, in the Edinburgh streets and invited her back to the lodging house for a dram. Burke joined them and Mary drank and fell asleep in the lodging houses stable. She was murdered quickly, but Mary's daughter Peggy, who had been told her mother had been seen with Hare earlier, went to Hares to ask about her whereabouts. Upon arrival, Margaret and Helen heatedly denied Mary or any prostitute would be allowed into their house. An argument ensued that Hare stopped by saying that Mary had been there earlier but had later left. Hare then offered Peggy a drink and then another -- and once Burke arrived, she soon joined her mother at Dr. Knox's.
The disappearance of Mary Haldane caused suspicion, as she was a well-known character in the neighborhood, and many noticed her absence. Burke and Hare were further emboldened by not being caught, however, and next targeted a very well known neighborhood resident whose murder would almost be their undoing.
Eighteen year old James Wilson, known as Daft Jamie in the West Port neighborhood, was a well-known local character. He entertained local children with riddles and jokes and he lived on the streets or with kind souls who would offer him shelter, although he frequently visited his widowed mother. His only prize possessions were a snuffbox and snuff spoon that had seven holes in it that Jamie used as a calendar to tell the day of the week.
In early October of 1828, Hare came across Jamie wandering the streets, looking for his mother, although some versions say Margaret was the one who found him, Hare told him that he knew where his mother was and invited him back to his house to wait for her. Burke was in a local tavern and watched the two go by and observed Hare lead poor Jamie in as a dumb lamb to the slaughter.
Burke was fetched from the tavern by Margaret, and the Hares and Burke tried to convince Jamie to have some whisky. Jamie drank only a small amount and refused more, although he was soon dozing on a spare bed. Burke and Hare attempted to put their usual method of killing into play, but Jamie was strong and fought back successfully enough that he pinned Burke, who screamed to Hare for help. Both men eventually overpowered Jamie and smothered him.
That evening, the two men collected 10 for Jamie's body. Suspicion grew quickly, however, because Jamie's mother made constant inquiries of her sons whereabouts. Also, when his body was uncovered at Dr. Knox's, several of the students easily recognized Jamie by his face and by a well-known deformity of his foot. Dr. Knox denied that the body was Jamie, but began the dissection quickly, focusing first on those most recognizable features.
On Halloween morning, Burke was taking his usual morning whisky in his local tavern when an old woman entered and began talking with the patrons. Noticing that she had an Irish accent, Burke bought her a dram and she sat down and said that she was Mary Docherty from Innisowen. Burke said that his own mother was a Docherty from Innisowen, and that they must be related. Having established this bond, he easily persuaded the old woman to come to his house.
The visitor was warmly received by Helen and by a couple, James and Ann Gray, who were lodging with Burke and Helen. Burke convinced Docherty to stay overnight with them, and arranged for the Grays to spend that night at the Hares lodging house.
The arrangements being settled, everyone drank in celebration of Halloween, and the whisky flowed long past nightfall. The Grays eventually left, but were told to return for breakfast the next morning.
The festivities continued and neighbors later claimed to have heard dancing and drinking and arguments coming from Burke and Helens rooms. Around midnight, an upstairs neighbor was passing by Burke and Helens door and heard two men arguing and a woman's voice calling out "Murder!" and "Get the police, there is murder here!" The man ran back into the street but could not find a policeman. Passing by the door again, the man stopped but heard nothing, so he assumed the crisis was over and went up to his own rooms.
The following morning, the Grays returned and found Mary Docherty was gone. They asked after her and Helen told them that she threw the old lady out for being overly friendly with Burke. Ann Gray later went near the spare bed to get some socks she had left behind, but Burke shouted at her to stay away from the bed. Burke yelled at her a second time when she went near the bed in order to fetch some potatoes. In the early evening, the Grays found themselves momentarily alone in the house, so Ann Gray took a peek and saw the body of an old woman lying beneath the bed. Both Grays bolted from the house, running into the returning Helen, who asked where they were going. James Gray was outraged and asked Helen what she knew about the body. Helen panicked and begged them not to say anything, claiming that their silence would be worth 10 a week. This further incensed the Grays, and James chastised Helen for bringing disgrace upon her family and the couple went out to fetch a policeman.
Helen and Margaret quickly went off to warn their spouses, and were fast enough that when the police arrived at Burke and Helens that night, there was nobody in the house. A neighbor told the police that two men had recently left the house carrying a tea chest. Burke and Helen returned home soon after, and innocently asked what the matter was. The police separated the two and asked them individually what had become of the old woman who had been there the previous night. Burke, feeling confident that he and Helen had their alibis in synch, stated that Mrs. Docherty had left their home at seven o'clock that morning. Helen agreed that she had left at seven o'clock, but claimed that the woman had left at 7:00 in the evening. This 12-hour discrepancy was suspicious enough that Burke and Helen were taken in for more questioning. An anonymous tip led the police to Dr. Knox's classrooms, where Docherty's body was found and James Gray positively identified it.
The Hares soon joined Burke and Helen in prison, and the police began to slowly unravel the disappearances of so many people from West Port during the previous eleven months.
The busy days following Halloween included an official autopsy of Mary Docherty, the questioning of Burkes and Hares neighbors, and multiple interviews with the four accused. The four had apparently not synchronized their stories. Their tales varied from stating that they had never met Docherty to Burkes telling of a strange man ,whom he named as William Hare, coming to his house to get his shoes repaired and who had a large tea chest with him. Helen apparently did not know of this story, however, and she did not echo this alibi or claim that William Hare was a stranger.
November 6th, an Edinburgh newspaper reported on individuals having recently disappeared , including a lad called Daft Jamie. This report caught the interest of Janet Brown, who went to the police and identified some of the clothing the police had found in Burkes house as Mary Paterson's.
The public were outraged and called for justice against all four, and Dr. Knox as well. The Lord Advocate, however, was in a quandary about how and whom to prosecute. As there had been no eyewitness to any of the actual killings, the entire case depended on circumstantial evidence which, even including the Gray's testimony and Janet's identification of Mary Paterson's clothing, was weak at best. He also suspected that Helen and Margaret were secondary players and that neither would testify against her male counterpart.
After one month of vacillation, under the assumption that Burke had been the leader of the two men, a deal was made where William Hare would receive immunity if he testified against Burke and Helen. Hare readily agreed, and soon after Burke and Helen were both charged with the murder of Mary Docherty. Burke was also charged with the killings of Daft Jamie and Mary Paterson,, and their trial began on Christmas Eve.
The prosecution brought forth both Hares ,who testified that Burke and/or Helen were the main players in the murders, and other witnesses who claimed to have seen the victims in Burke or Helens company shortly before they disappeared.
In defense, Burkes counsel tried to downplay Burkes role in the murders , and Helens solicitor suggested that it was Helen, terrified by seeing Docherty killed, who the neighbor overheard crying "murder" that Halloween night.
Christmas morning the jury deliberated for only fifty minutes and came back with their verdicts: Burke was guilty and Helen was freed by the uniquely Scottish not proven verdict. On hearing the news, Burke reportedly cried and embraced Helen, saying, you are out of the scrape!
Burke was executed on January 28, 1829. In the month between his sentencing and the execution, he gave two detailed confessions. In both of them he cited 16 murders that he and/or Hare had committed, although he got confused about the order of the murders between the two confessions. At his scaffold, enormous crowds shouted for Hare and Dr. Knox to join him at the gallows.
Helen, on being released, went back to the house she had shared with Burke, where an angry mob found her and the police had to be summoned so she could escape. She left Scotland for England, but news of the murders had spread as far south as Newcastle, and police once again had to protect her from vigilantes in that city. After Newcastle, it is not known what became of her, although lore states that she went to Australia and died there in 1868.
Margaret Hare also disappeared. After her release, she escaped angry mobs in Glasgow and Greenock, and is believed to have eventually journeyed back to Ireland.
William Hare was released in early February of 1829, but did not meet up with Margaret. The last known sighting of him was south of the English town Carlisle, although a popular later tale tells of his being blinded by a mob who threw him into a lime pit, and of him becoming a beggar on the streets of London.
Dr. Robert Knox attempted to remain in Edinburgh, and he maintained a silence about any suspicions he might have had about how Burke and Hare supplied his classroom with such fresh corpses. Angry crowds occasionally mobbed his house and classrooms, but he continued lecturing and giving classes until the number of students who wanted to study under a man associated with Burke and Hare dropped dramatically. He twice applied for vacant positions within Edinburgh University's medical school but was rejected both times. He eventually moved to London where he held a post at the Cancer Hospital before passing away in 1862.
Burke and Hare live on in Britain's culture, and in movies like, The Body Snatcher, The Doctor and the Devils, and The Flesh and the Fiends, and have inspired writers from Robert Louis Stevenson's , The Bodysnatcher, to Seri Holmans novel, The Dress Lodger.
Their crimes even added to the English language. The verb "to burke" still means to murder someone by violent means or by smothering.
Threats of visits from Burke and Hare are used by some parents to discipline unruly children, and the pair are even prominently featured in a couple of sing-song rhymes that accompany children's jump rope and hopscotch games:
Up the close and down the stair,
In the house with Burke and Hare.
Burkes the butcher, Hares the thief,
Knox, the boy who buys the beef.
Burke and Hare,
Fell down the stair,
With a body in a box,
Going to Dr. Knox.
I hope you enjoyed reading about Burke and Hare!

An E-mail with a Side of Communication, Hold the Commas
I often find it amusing that when people find out I'm a writer, they expect that I'm going to correct their e-mails or call them on their grammar errors. I don't do this and never have, unless asked to. I know some writers who do that as a matter of course, but I don't. However, I guess I should start. Here's why:

My boss never met a comma he didn't like. He puts them in everything, kind of like someone who puts ketchup on everything he eats--pickles, potato chips, chili, chocolate cake--nothing wouldn't taste better without a little ketchup on it. For my boss, nothing reads better than when it has several commas to tell the reader exactly where to pause. The problem is, my boss is kind of flaky so he thinks people need to pause every time something sparkly catches his eye, which is every other word. If you read a paragraph of his aloud, it would sound like you were gasping for breath, and I imagine you'd eventually hyperventilate. THAT'S how many commas this man uses.

But I don't care. I don't care because even though he's easily distracted, he's brilliant at his job, treats me with respect, and lets me do my job without micromanaging me to death. So even though it's fairly obvious that the comma key on his keyboard is probably worn out, I can still figure out what he's trying to say and so I've never said anything.

Then last week he stomps into my office, and we have the following exchange:

"You're a WRITER!?!" he yells, waving papers at me.
"Yeah," I say, praying he doesn't ask for details on what I write exactly.
"Why didn't you TELL me about my comma problem?" He's still yelling, and I'm confused.
"You know you have a comma problem?" I ask, and he rolls his eyes.
"Of course I do. Everyone knows I have a comma problem. I have no idea where they go so I just stick them in there."
"So why did you need me to tell you that you have a comma problem if you already know?" I ask, even more confused now.
"Because you're a WRITER!" he shouts, and storms off.


Come to find out that what he really meant was that he wanted to know why I hadn't offered to help him fix his comma problem, because apparently that's what writers do (skulk around looking for hapless grammar-challenged individuals to save from a life of comma over-use). I explained that it wasn't my place. Maybe his wife's or administrative assistant's, but not mine. So naturally now it is my place. He gets his first lesson tomorrow, and it will be, "Don't put any commas in anything for a week and we'll go from there."

Have you ever had to help a boss with his writing? I have a feeling this could end badly, so I'm treading lightly. People may say they want to get rid of a bad habit, but take their commas away, and even the nicest person can turn quite nasty. We'll see how it goes. In the meantime, feel free to share your "helping the boss" experiences in the comments.

Happy Reading!

Biltmore's Water Gardens

I visited Biltmore Estate with a good friend a few days ago. The day started off cloudy, as you can see here but after lunch the sun came out. I enjoy walking from the highest parking area and through the woods to this elevated lookout. I don't know the story of these two old cars but I thought they looked great sitting in front of the house.

Biltmore House is a 250 room, 178,926 square foot privately owned house museum and tourist attraction in Asheville, NC. The architecture is similar to French chateaux. George Vanderbilt had it constructed between 1889 and 1895. Richard Morris Hunt was the architect.

The Vanderbilts lived in Biltmore House until 1956. George Vanderbilt's daughter, Cornelia and her husband opened Biltmore House to the public in 1930. The grounds include 75 acres of formal gardens and the whole estate is comprised of 8000 acres.

The Italian Garden which consists of three ponds or water gardens is one of my favorite. I love seeing all the different colors and types of water lilies, various other plants and the fish.

Butterfly Koi

Tropical water lily


Click to enlarge.

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Biltmore's Italian Gardens.
The Cottage Next Door Releases Tomorrow!!
I'm so excited!


It’s tough to grasp a second chance at love when you’re holding on to the past.

After his wife died in a car accident, bestselling author Hunter McCaffrey stopped writing—and stopped living. He’s rented a beachfront cottage to try to get his head on straight, and start the long climb up from his pit of despair.

Instead of pounding out a first draft, though, he runs the beach, drinks away his pain, and tries to ignore the vibrant woman in the cottage tucked next to his.

Still floundering months after the loss of her adventure-junkie husband, Sylvie Chase hopes some beach relaxation will help her decide what to do with the rest of her life. Instead she’s wondering what to do about her unexpected attraction to Hunter, who makes her body long for the feel of his arms around her.

As Sylvie drags Hunter back to the land of the living, soon they’re agreeing to a short fling. Just to get past their sorrow, not because it means anything. But when emotions get in the way, it’s a struggle to leave the past behind and dare to love again.

Warning: This story has plenty of sun and sand, with an energetic golden retriever thrown into the mix. Prepare to laugh and cry and cheer for two people who deserve a second chance at love.



Sylvie squinted as she stepped out onto the deck into the sunshine the next morning. Hunter stood on his deck, cradling a large mug in his long-fingered hands. He wore khaki shorts and a T-shirt that for once didn’t look as if it had been slept in.

“Morning,” she said cautiously. Her shirt, on the other hand, had been slept in. She hadn’t done more than pull on a pair of white shorts before she stepped outside. She’d had to get some fresh air. The walls had quickly closed in on her after she woke from tangled dreams of Matt. And Hunter.

He held up his mug. “I made a pot of coffee. Probably not as good as yours would be, but it’s hot and full of caffeine.”

“Perfect. Thanks.” She crossed the deck, the surface already warm beneath her bare feet. Hunter was back out in a moment with another mug and handed it to her over the railings. “Smells great.”

“Taste it before you say too many good things.”

The small smile on his face was a bit disconcerting. Sylvie took a sip. Stronger than she usually drank it but not bitter at all. “It’s good. Thanks.”

“No problem. You can come sit over here if you want.”

She noticed for the first time that there was a second chair, a chaise, on his deck. He’d surprised her so much that she didn’t move. Didn’t know what to say.

“I was going to cook up some eggs. To pay you back for dinner.”

“Oh, you don’t have to…”

“And to apologize for being such an ass.”

“Oh, well…”

He chuckled. This time Sylvie was able to see his face when he did it, and the way his face lit up made her breath catch. If she’d been attracted to him when he’d been surly, he was ten times more attractive now.
Hunter set down his mug and reached out his hand. “Help you over?”

She laughed, a quick, surprised bark. “Thanks. No. I’ll use the stairs.” She turned toward the steps, then realized that she still wore her nightshirt and hadn’t even looked in a mirror this morning. “Um…I’m going to change into some real clothes. And untangle this hair.” She set the mug down on the railing and slapped her hand over her mouth. “And brush my teeth.”

He laughed. “Okay. I’ll be here. And, Sylvie…”

She stopped her retreat and turned back. “Yes?”

His hazel eyes flashed. “Your tangled hair is very sexy.”

She rolled her eyes and ducked into the cottage. What had happened to the beer-chugging asshole her neighbor had been up until now? Did something happen last night when they’d been talking about the ocean and spouses and…oh yeah, they’d talked about sex. Her face burned as she remembered how she’d practically thrown herself at him.

Lonely and horny was a bad combination.

You can pre-order THE COTTAGE NEXT DOOR and have it appear on your e-reader in the morning :)

I hope you enjoy Hunter and Sylvie's story as much as I do!

Playing for Real
Her Royal Masquerade
Her Royal Bodyguard
Steampunk Bears and Cougar Shifters!
cougars coming (640x427)
Many know I write wolf and jaguar shifters, but I wasn’t sure how well cougars would be received. Like with the exotic big cats, jaguars, and the wolves, with cougars, I do a ton of research to make the big cat shifters as realistic as possible based on their other animal half. I've been asked if I would write bear shifters. Anyone game? It would be much later, as I have so many have-to books to write.

Cougar’s Mate has been well loved and so Call of the Cougar will be out by December. Earlier, if I can manage. I’m trying to finish up A Silver Wolf Christmas revisions today, then tomorrow start working on the end of Call of the Cougar. It’s nearly done! Just needs another 15,000 words and an ending. That helps, you know.

And, I have one of the new Steampunk Bears completed–this one with a suede vest. All the ones I’m making now are sold. :But this shows the faux leather hat I created for this bear also, and I’m making more of the same hat for the rest.

Steampunk Bear with Suede Vest
Steampunk Bear with Suede Vest

But after I complete orders, I’ll be making a new one that will be for sale.

Off to work on A Silver Wolf Christmas and then turn it over to the next phase of the process.
And only 2 more days and Tall, Dark and Paranormal will be in your hot little hands!
Only 99 cents! Limited time offer!
Preorders Available from Amazon Now:

All Romance Ebooks:
Barnes and Noble:
Have a super great Sunday!!!
“Giving new meaning to the term alpha male where fantasy is reality.”
Connect with Terry Spear:
Wilde & Woolly Bears
Making The Best Of The Holiday Catalog Season
Man oh man, it’s that time of year again when our mailboxes start getting stuffed with catalogs. Are the holidays really around the corner already? Where did the year go??

Yesterday – don’t ask me why – I found myself flipping through one of those endless catalogs, and actually enjoying myself for a half-hour.

With full credit to the Catalog Favorites catalog, I quote a few of their T-shirt offerings to brighten your day:

“When I have nothing to do, I do it online.”  How true for all of us!

“You’ve gotta hand it to short people… we can’t reach it anyway.”  At 5"4" I can totally relate.

“If it’s true we learn from our mistakes, I will soon be a genius!”  I'm 99% there...

“I could be a morning person if morning happened at Noon.”  Friends call me Night Owl Jenna.

“Wine improves with age, and I improve with wine.”  Doesn't everyone, LOL??

But as an author, my two favorite T-shirt sayings have to be:

“Let’s eat grandma… Let’s eat, grandma.  Commas save lives!”  That's practically my mantra.

And (drum roll please)…my absolute favorite:

“Careful, or you’ll end up in my next novel.”  Okay, I actually *bought* this T-shirt!

I have to say that the trip to the mailbox, which started out as exasperation at all those catalogs, turned into a laugh, and all because of Catalog Favorites.

How about you? Love catalogs? Hate catalogs? Tell me!


Coming Soon to Audiobook - My Fierce Highlander
My Fierce Highlander will soon be released in audiobook. It will be available for download from Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. I've listened to the whole book and the studio is working on a few minor corrections. The narrator I chose has a really great voice. Do you enjoy listening to audiobooks?

Here is an excerpt from My Fierce Highlander:

Scottish Highlands, 1618

A stiff breeze carried the scent of bruised grass and blood on its icy breath.
Gwyneth Carswell dropped into a crouch and peered through the brambles at the tartan-clad bodies, a dozen or more, lying in the dusky gloaming. While gathering herbs earlier, she’d heard the sounds of battle—men shouting, steel clanging, horses screaming.
A chill shook her. The men of the MacIrwin clan, her distant kin, lived and died only for a skirmish. Her sheltered upbringing in England had molded her into the person she was, a lover of peace, but she’d been in the Highlands long enough to expect brutality at every turn. Thank God her son had stayed in the cottage with Mora.
“More senseless death,” she whispered, yearning to run and hide in the cottage, curl up beneath the blankets, and forget she was a healer. Forget all the drained blood and horrifying wounds that would never heal.
But she must not. She must again face death all around her. Dread and nausea rising within her, she covered her nose with a handkerchief. After peering about to make sure she was alone, she crept onto the soggy moor and forced herself to look at the butchered bodies of her cousins…and their enemies. Who had they been fighting?
Pressing her eyes closed to block out the slit throats and other mutilation, she murmured a prayer, both for their departed souls and for strength that she might keep going.
Please, allow me to save the life of at least one.
A haunting groan floated on the breeze. A sign? Her prayer answered? Gwyneth froze, listening. The groan sounded again, straight ahead.
She rushed to the far edge of the clearing.
Daylight dwindled, but she knew she’d never before seen the injured man, a large warrior with long dark hair, obviously from the enemy clan. She could not tear her gaze from his clean-shaven face, smeared and splattered with blood. Never had she seen such a striking man. But something more captivated her, something she could only sense with her woman’s intuition. She yearned for him to open his eyes, but he didn’t.
Blood soaked through his white shirt and fine, pale-blue doublet.
Kneeling on the damp ground, she attempted to press her hand against his chest to feel his heartbeat, but a rolled-up parchment lay in her way within his doublet. She removed it and checked his heart. The thump was slow but strong and steady.
Her eyes locked to his face again. Enticing, yes, but still an enemy.
Wary of him and what message he carried, she stripped the ribbon from the missive and flattened the thick paper. In the dim light, she could barely decipher a few of the Gaelic words inscribed in bold letters across the top.
A peace agreement? Had the MacIrwins ambushed them? She stared down at the man again, lifted his hand and found a seal ring on his finger. A chief?
For a second, it seemed the very ground had a pulse. The vibrating sensation disoriented her.
Distant hoof-beats grew louder and thundered in her direction—the MacIrwin reinforcements coming to finish off their enemies. Her pulse roared in her ears.
If they discovered this man hanging onto life, they’d cut his throat. Especially if he was a chief who wanted peace. Gwyneth crammed the parchment back inside his doublet and stood.
She grasped the thick leather belt that held the man’s plaide in place at his waist and struggled to drag him a few feet into the yellow blooming gorse and weeds. Good lord, he was heavy, comprised of honed warrior muscle. Another tug, then she rolled him down a short incline and behind the bushes, praying all this shifting wouldn’t worsen his injuries. She spread her dull-colored skirts and plaid arisaid over him to conceal the visibility of his light-colored doublet in the dusk.

Her body trembling, she gently bit her knuckle to quiet her chattering teeth. Please, do not let them find us. She hardly dared to breathe.


First Advance Review & an Excerpt
The Cottage Next Door releases a week from tomorrow! I'm so excited about this one, because while I will continue to release erotic romances, The Cottage Next Door takes me back to my contemporary romance roots, and I'm looking forward to writing more of them as well.

The first advance review came in from Fresh Fiction, and the reviewer had come great things to say:

"THE COTTAGE NEXT DOOR is the second book I have read by Natasha Moore. She has a way of making the reader feel the sorrow and emotion in her characters. Be prepared to laugh one minute and cry the next. A strong willed and determined woman always makes a good story when she's fighting for what she loves and someone she is determined to heal. Natasha Moore is gifted with her words which make the reader feel strong emotions."

You can read the entire review here.

Here's an excerpt:

“Can’t sleep?”

Sylvie started. Hunter’s disembodied voice sounded loud in the darkness. She couldn’t see a thing on the deck next door, but had to assume he was sitting in his usual deck chair. Had he heard her moan?

Her heartbeat slowed back down to normal. “No.” She held her breath, waiting for him to swear and stomp into the cottage for intruding on his want-to-be-alone time. Or make a sarcastic comment about what she’d been doing when she thought no one was there.

“This is my favorite time at the beach,” he said, surprising her with his deep, pleasant tone.

“Because you can’t see the hundreds of people around you?”

His soft chuckle surprised her even more. He was quiet for a moment, then said, “Partly. But there’s something about the ocean at night. Do you hear it? Right now, this isn’t the fun-loving shore where kids splash and make sandcastles. It’s more primitive.” He was silent for a moment, and Sylvie got caught up in the roar of the waves as they crashed onto the beach. The sound pulled at her, called to her.

“Think of the hundreds of thousands of years the ocean has been pounding the sand,” he went on. “Eating away at the land, reclaiming it. Taking it back into the bowels of the deep.”

Her body heated more, even with the cooling breeze. His voice rolled over her, as powerful as the tug of the waves. She’d known there had to be more to him than that angry, bitter man she’d seen so far.

“Ashes to ashes? Dust to dust? Ocean to ocean?” she asked softly.

The waves pummeled the shore for several long moments before he replied, “Something like that.”

The words she’d been thinking slipped out easier in the darkness. “I’m sure she would want you to be happy.”

“What do you know?” he snapped, but Sylvie thought his voice contained more hurt than anger.

“I know what it’s like to roll over in the middle of the night and still be surprised to find the other side of the bed empty.”

“It’s like a kick in the gut every fucking time.”

“Yeah.” She wrapped her arms around her knees. “I still save up things I want to tell him about my day…”

“And then remember she’s not there to share those things with anymore.”

“I have to look at pictures to remember what he looked like when he was healthy and fit and eager for the next adventure.”

“I can’t remember what she smelled like anymore.” Hunter’s voice cracked. “She had this soft scent like powder and flowers and I don’t know what, but I used to be able to smell it everywhere in our apartment. It’s gone now too.”

She nodded even though she knew he couldn’t see it. “I used to sleep with one of Matt’s shirts and I cried all day when I realized his scent was gone.” Sylvie was pleased she could say that without getting tears in her eyes. Maybe she’d finally reached acceptance.

The Cottage Next Door is a second-chance-at-love beach romance and is available for pre-order. The release date is September 16th!


  • The Cottage Next Door

    The Cottage Next Door
    Natasha Moore, 9/16/14

    Secrets Volume 31: Fantasies Fulfilled

    Secrets Volume 31: Fantasies Fulfilled
    Leigh Court, 7/31/14

    My Rebel Highlander

    My Rebel Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair 5/13/14

    Duke of Devonwood

    Duke of Devonwood
    Carly Carson, 4/6/14

    Silence of the Wolf

    Silence of the Wolf
    Terry Spear, 3/4/14

    Cougar's Mate

    Cougar's Mate
    Terry Spear, 2/27/14

    Once Upon a Highland Moon

    Once Upon a Highland Moon
    Gwyn Brodie, 2/20/14

    Playing For Real

    Playing For Real
    Natasha Moore, 2/4/14

    Programmed to Protect

    Programmed to Protect
    Jenna Ives, 2/1/14

    Her Royal Bodyguard

    Her Royal Bodyguard
    Natasha Moore, 1/1/14

    Fighting Love

    Fighting Love
    Abby Niles, 12/31/13

    My Notorious Highlander

    My Notorious Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 10/30/13

    The Highlander

    The Highlander
    Terry Spear, 10/14/13

    Her Royal Masquerade

    Her Royal Masquerade
    Natasha Moore, 10/13/13

    A SEAL Wolf Christmas

    A SEAL Wolf Christmas
    Terry Spear, 9/24/13


    Natasha Moore, 9/6/13

    Jaguar Fever

    Jaguar Fever
    Terry Spear, 8/6/13

    Extreme Love

    Extreme Love
    Abby Niles, 4/30/13

    My Daring Highlander

    My Daring Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 3/29/13

    Dragon Song

    Dragon Song
    Cameo, 3/11/13

    The Snow Job

    The Snow Job
    Cameo, 2/13/13

    My Brave Highlander

    My Brave Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 7/19/12

    My Wild Highlander

    My Wild Highlander
    Vonda Sinclair, 8/26/11