Guest: Cate Parke & Richard Berkeley's Bride

Welcome, Cate! Please tell us about yourself.
A member of Romance Writers of America, Celtic Hearts Romance Writers and Hearts Through History Romance Writers, I'm a writer of historical romance. I began reading sometime around, oh, pre-birth and have been an avid reader all my life. I 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. The wife of a retired U.S. Navy Officer, I've lived and travelled with my husband 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 single body of water that washes our shores, including the Gulfs of Mexico and California and 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.
Q: Please tell us about your new release, Richard Berkeley's Bride. Do you have a review you could share with us?

A: I can’t believe I already have a review—but I have three of them! Here’s one: From the first lines of Richard Berkley’s Bride, nothing could lure me away from this story until I finished the last chapter. As an avid reader of romance, historical in particular, I’ve noticed an eye to detail is fast becoming a lost art in this genre---for old and new authors alike---not so, Ms. Parke, who sets the scene of 1760’s Charlestowne, South Carolina so expertly, I felt completely immersed in the time period. However, the historical nuances in no way eclipsed Richard and Alexandra the true characters in this love story. I can only hope there’s more in the works from this new author---I’m a fan!
Richard Berkeley's Bride: 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 her 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. 

Q: Congratulations on the new release and the awesome reviews! I'm glad this book is in my TBR stack on my Kindle. Can't wait to read it! What inspired this story?

A: Strangely, it was the city of Charleston, South Carolina itself. We lived in the city twice, for several years each, during my husband’s Navy tours of duty. It is one of the oldest cities in the United States with tons and tons of history behind it. I confess it—I always loved history. I am also fascinated—really fascinated—by the Revolutionary War. America came so close to losing it. Do you know that the war in the southern colonies commenced a good bit after it began in the north? The American armies lost so many battles, I wondered how in the world they ever prevailed against what was then the best army in the world. Finally, in one history book I read, a single paragraph jumped out at me and realized the answer I sought stared at me. It began just a very few miles from where my husband and I now reside, here in what was then North Carolina and is now northeast Tennessee. The story is quite remarkable. The battle fought by what were known as the Overmountain Men at King’s Mountain inside what is now South Carolina was the beginning of the end of the British occupation in America. While this story doesn’t appear in this novel, it’s part of what inspired the series. The final book, where the story figures, is called Patriot’s Dreams.

Q: I love Charleston! It is a very inspiring place. What is the story behind the story?

A: This story actually started, for me, with my heroine’s recurring dream sequence. So that’s what I based the story on. I’ve included the recurring dream sequence at the bottom of Chapter Five. Alexandra also tells you the story behind it. The dream sequence subtly changes near the end of the book.

Q: Very cool! Why do you write romance?

A: The funny thing is that the story started out to be an historical. I quickly came to realize my characters had other ideas. I’m not a plotter. My characters grew in front of my eyes while I wrote them. I’ve heard lots of authors say this—and it’s true for mine, too. Once they began to reveal themselves, I realized what I had was an historical romance.

Q: What do you enjoy most about writing historical romance?

A: Two things: both the history and the love story. I love the process of digging into obscure corners for the little factoids that make the story come alive and seem real.

Q: I agree. How did your story’s setting impact your plot or characters?

A: I set the plantation to the north of what is known on the Charleston peninsula as Middleton Place Plantation. It was originally called The Oaks—until I realized there really had been a plantation called The Oaks, coincidentally owned by the relatives I’d assigned to one of my characters. The actual plantation was located a number of miles to the east of where I set my characters’ home. Besides, I didn’t want to use anything that had really existed. So I called it Oakhurst. Charleston is marked by the huge live oak trees hung with lacy Spanish moss and by the gracious homes and magnificent gardens to the west of the Ashley River.

Q: Middleton Place is so beautiful! Which of your characters is most like you? Least like you? And why?

A: It would be easiest to say that I’m least like my heroine. Other than the fact that I’m short, have red hair and blue eyes, I have little else in common with her. She is has been lonely as long as she can remember and has felt unloved by the father she adored. She has a beautiful singing voice. Believe me, nobody ever asked me to sing for them—including my daughter when she was three years old! I know nothing at all about playing a musical instrument. There are many facets of her character that are very different from mine.

Q: LOL! How do you choose names for your characters?

A: This is actually almost a funny story. I needed the name of my character to be one that could have belonged to a man in the form that would be given to a man. I named her, originally, Louisa—until I realized there really was a Louisa Campbell. I wanted her to have been given her great-grandfather’s name, Louis. I made her the daughter of Lord William Campbell (the original name I gave to her father) until I realized there really had been a Lord William Campbell. He was the third son of the Fourth Duke of Argyll. To add to the coincidence, I’d made my character’s father the last royal governor of South Carolina. Guess what. Lord William Campbell really was the last royal governor of South Carolina and he really was the third son of, yes, you guessed it, the Fourth Duke of Argyll. Hm-m. So I renamed everybody. It took some digging, but I finally settled on Julia, for my heroine—but then I didn’t like that name—it didn’t fit her, so I changed it to Alexandra—and named her maternal great-grandfather Alexander. I changed her father’s name to Lord Edward Campbell. I couldn’t find a soul in the family of the Fourth Duke of Argyll by that name. My hero was originally named Richard Hutson. No. Not okay—there really had been a man by that name in Charleston at that time. So I gave him the last name of one of Charleston’s Lords Proprietors, Lord John Berkeley, who never, to the best of my knowledge, actually visited America, much less left any descendents living in South Carolina. At least I’m praying I haven’t channeled yet one more person who actually once lived!

Q: That is so interesting how that happened! Did you choose the title of your book and if so how did you do it?

A: I originally called the book Past Dreams. I mulled it over with one of my critique partners, since it didn’t sound much like the title of a romance book. She discussed it with her husband, Kevin Campbell, and he’s the one who suggested the title. I loved it and the name stuck.

Q: It's a great title! Where is your favorite place in the world?

A: Omigosh! I’ve been so many places I’ve simply loved. Hm-m. Charleston is right at the top of the list, and so is Monterey, California—I’ve lived there, too. I love the hill country of central Texas and the Sandia Mountains I grew up beside, located just to the east of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I adored Bath, England…loved the nearby Cotswold Hills beyond. The Highlands of Scotland bear a huge mention here. Don’t ask me to pick just one place there. I couldn’t possibly.

Q: Please tell us about your favorite character in the book.

A: My favorite character is Richard Berkeley. He is tall and slim, well muscled, has brilliant green eyes, and thick dark hair. He’s well-educated and wealthy and feels determination to protect his wife, their child and home against any threats.

Q: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

A: Um-m—pre-birth? I grew up loving to write. I wrote such long letters to my brothers, they would often tease that I should just write a book. So I did! I’d start one story after another and put it down before I’d hardly begun it. Still, I loved writing courses in college. Happily, my professors and other instructors liked what I wrote. In nursing school, however, extensive writing isn’t encouraged. Despite that, I’m sure the doctors who read my notes wondered if I thought I was trying to write the next Great American Novel. (That would be a resounding YES!)

Q: LOL! That's neat! What is your writing process or method?

A: Since I’m an historical romance writer, I want to get the story started and then dig into the research I need to proceed beyond the first chapter. I let my characters grow before my eyes. I let them surprise me. I’m not a plotter, as I said.

Q: Please describe your journey to publication.

A: Eight years ago I decided to write first a paragraph, and then a page, followed by several pages, to see if it could hold my interest. It did. The problem I found was that I simply didn’t know enough. That’s when I began my historical research. I filled up two huge notebooks with it before my husband suggested a unique solution—store it all in my computer files. Eureka! My computer made all the difference. I could erase, cut and paste sentences and whole paragraphs, and put them where they actually needed to go rather than where I’d originally put them. I know, I know—basic information to the youngest person who ever laid hands on a computer. It simply never occurred to me, though. Can you believe it? I might as well confess, I was and always shall be a computer nincompoop. Anyway, I learned I could also cut out huge segments of dialogue and narrative and add little details back in as backstory. Thank you for this piece of information, Vonda! I cut the first hundred pages from my original manuscript and added back a first chapter such as she had suggested—one that began where the story began. I will never, ever forget how much she helped.

Q: You're welcome! I'm so glad I could help, but I also feel bad that you cut so many pages because of me! Yikes! Can you share with us “the call” story?

A: My reaction to it was kind of funny, at least to me. A letter of acceptance popped into my computer from a publisher one Saturday evening. A second one popped in a few minutes later. About an hour later, a third one popped in from yet one more. I stared at them for awhile and went downstairs where my husband was at work in his woodworking shop. I told him I had three offers, one of which was from the publisher I’d been most hoping to hear from. I don’t think I seemed very excited to him. He asked me which offer I thought I’d take and I told him which one I wanted—all very matter-of-fact. A little while later I went online and replied to something one of my Celtic Hearts clan mates said, thinking I’d sent my reply just to her e-mail address. No—it went to the writers’ loop instead. I’d announced it the whole group. Forehead slapping commenced. Talk about Freudian blunders. I had intended to congratulate her on something she’d shared with the group. Instead, I felt like I’d stolen her thunder. Please forgive me, Margaret Mallory!

Q: LOL! We were so thrilled to hear your news, Cate! What’s next for you?

A: My next book is called Dreams Within Dreams and is part two of my series, Dreams of Oakhurst. Oakhurst is my characters’ home. Part Two carries the reader to the brink of the Revolutionary War in Charleston. Part Three, called Patriot’s Dreams will take the reader through Richard’s and Alexandra’s experiences through the war, including the battles each of them fought in their effort to save their love, their family and their magnificent home from destruction, and by the parts they both played in helping to bring about the birth of a new nation on the face of the earth.
Wow that sounds exciting! Congratulations on your upcoming releases and thank you for being our guest today! Cate is giving away a book to one lucky commenter! Please remember to leave your email address (with spaces if you want) so we have a way to contact the winner. The prize is a copy of Richard Berkeley's Bride in ebook from the winner's choice of booksellers--Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo or Ibooks.

Please visit Cate online:

     Blog: Tuesday’s Child: 
                        Find Richard Berkley's Bride at:  
      Barnesand Noble 

27 Responses
  1. B J Scott Says:

    So excited about your release, Cate. Wishing you many sales!

  2. It's been a long time coming, Cate, but so worth the wait. I'm so proud of you.
    I hope to spend some time in Charleston in the next couple of years (the sequel to one of my books will be set there). It's a beautiful city and for me, just one of the 'draws' for Richard Berkeley's Bride.
    Congrats on the release, lady!

  3. Cate Parke Says:

    Thank you so much, BJ. I can't help admitting I hope the same thing, too. Do you know, though, that I'm hoping people buy it and love the story as much as I do? I have no aspirations of gaining riches and fame beyond my wildest dreams. Frankly, I suspect most writers feel that way--it's the love of the writing process I find most compelling--especially when there's a story within you just clamoring to get out. Thanks so much for visiting me today. I can't tell you what a thrill it is to appear on this famous blog.

  4. Cate Parke Says:

    Oh, cool, Màiri! It's absolutely a marvelous city. If you go in the spring, you'll see what I mean about Charleston seeming like a fairyland of flowers. The Spoleto festival occurs in May. I even have a few recommendations about places to stay--well, just one, actually. There are fabulous places to eat nearby, and great places to shop. Walking tours are easily available, not to mention carriage tours of the city and a trip out to old Fort Sumter. (It's mentioned in two of my books, actually, although it wasn't known by that name at that time.)

    Thanks so much for visiting me here! I loved the opportunity to chat with you.

  5. Cate Parke Says:

    I also want to thank you for the opportunity to visit your wonderful blog. It's been one of my very favorite stops for quite a long time.

    I also want to mention, not only what a great writer you are, but also what a wonderful writing teacher and coach you are. You shouldn't feel bad about all those words I cut out. The essential ones were added back over this book and my second one--Dreams Within Dreams. It was nothing but backstory. You taught me that ISN'T where you begin the story, especially a romance. Let me just say, I'm more than grateful. Just as I am to be here today.

  6. Cathy MacRae Says:

    You know I can't wait for the next book to come out, Cate! I've not been to Charleston but would love to. Stately oaks with lacy Spanish moss...thanks for the lovely imagery! Wishing you many sales.

  7. Oh thank you, Cate!! It's an honor for me to host you here today! I've been looking forward to this for a long time! I'm so thrilled you're a published author now! :)

  8. Cate Parke Says:

    So lovely to see you today, Cathy. I hope you'll love the city! Any you're welcome about the imagery. It's what I saw during the time I lived there. During the scene in Richard Berkeley's Bride where Alexandra and her father rode toward the chapel where she was to be married, Alexandra saw a bright red cardinal flitting about the winter-bare trees. I actually saw something like that one winter late morning. I've remembered it fondly all these years later. Long ago, there were more hardwood trees in the woods than are seen today. Pines took the opportunity to move in once land had been cleared for other purposes. There would have been many more opportunities to see flashes of bright color among the trees in the woods. Thanks for visiting me here today!

  9. LOVED hearing your story about "how you got the call" for your historical. I remember a lot of our conversations via email and phone and was so happy for you!

    I enjoyed this answer from you about why you like to write historical romances: Two things: both the history and the love story. I love the process of digging into obscure corners for the little factoids that make the story come alive and seem real.

    I so agree with you!!!

    Best of luck and I'm wishing you lots of sales in your future!

  10. Congratulations on your release. I really loved the interview. Tweeted.

  11. Cate Parke Says:

    Thank you so much, Renee, and thanks for providing my first inspiration to submit to Turquoise Morning Press. It's a great publisher, and one I highly recommend.

    My response to getting the e-mail from the TMP acquiring editor (it came first!) was to sit--it took me by such surprise. When I received two other offers in the same evening, and so close together, I was floored, needless to say. Still there wasn't a choice for me. I was already committed to accepting TMP's. I've never been sorry. I would do it again.

    Thanks for visiting. It's always such a pleasure to see you.

  12. Cate Parke Says:

    Thank you, Ella! What a pleasure to see you here.

  13. Kate C. Says:

    Fantastic interview! I laughed out loud, and I loved having this introduction to the Fierce Romance site!! -- katie o'boyle

  14. Debbie Lou M Says:

    I was anxious to read your book before Cate, now I really am!


  15. Cate Parke Says:

    Thank you for visiting Vonda and me today, Kate! What a pleasure to see you. I'm glad you enjoyed the interview.

  16. Cate Parke Says:

    What a nice thing to say, Debbie! Thanks so very much. I very much hope you'll enjoy Richard Berkeley's Bride. It is a pleasure to have you with us today.

  17. Loved reading the interview and story about your historical romance. I will look forward to A Patriot's Dream. My fifth great-grandfather is General John Sevier who was a leader of the Overmountain Men and fought at the Battle of King's Mountain during the Revolutionary War.

  18. Cate Parke Says:

    Yes he did! How remarkable to know that, Brenda! Those men were heroes who answered the loud cries for assistance from their fellow countrymen. They had every belief they would face Col. Banastre Tarleton, the most hated of the British soldiery. The single reason they didn't was a fact that General Lord Cornwallis didn't know--Tarleton was laid up in Charleston with a bad cold. Patrick Ferguson had promised them he would have them all hung, their families put to the sword and their homes burnt to the ground. Why isn't that story told more widely? I simply have no answer for that question. It's an incredible story, though, and one that should make us all proud to have reaped the inheritance of those brave men and their outstanding courage.

    Thanks so much for visiting, Brenda! I look forward to hearing from you again!

  19. Barbara Says:

    Lovely post and terrific review!! The book sounds great. Looking forward to it. Best of luck! Barb Bettis

  20. Cate Parke Says:

    Thank you so much for hosting me today. The winner of a copy of Richard Berkeley's Bride is Debby Lou Mac. Debby, I'll be contacting you in a moment to find out which bookstore I can purchase your copy from. Thanks so much to everyone who visited me today. I loved hearing from each of you.

  21. Cate Parke Says:

    Hi Barb! So pleased you could visit today. I hope you enjoy Richard Berkeley's Bride. And thanks for your lovely compliment. I can't tell you how much it means.

  22. Lovely interview, ladies. Cate, I'm looking forward to reading your debut masterpiece. So glad your reviews are already coming in. Congrats!

  23. The books sound fantastic. Will all of three books feature Richard and Alexandra?

  24. I've got my copy, Cate and can't wait to read it. As a matter of fact, I'm using it as a bribe to my muse to get off her lazy...well...let's just say we have some chores to do before I'm allowed to enjoy your story. I just know once I start it, I won't be able to put it down. Best of luck with it, my friend but I know you're not going to need it!! :-)

  25. Thank you so much, Linda. Please forgive me for being so late to respond to your question. The answer is yes. Book Two, Dreams Within Dreams, begins two or three days after Richard Berkeley's Bride ends. The third book, Patriot's Dreams, begins two months or so after Dreams Within Dreams ends. Each of them are stand alone novels, but they are the same cast of main characters--with one or two new ones thrown into the mix. I very much hope you'll enjoy them. Thanks for visiting the Berkeleys and me yesterday!

  26. This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. Thanks for visiting me, Maeve. Chores, hm-m-m? For myself, I'm thrilled! It means I'll get to read some more Maeve Grayson greats sometime soon. I'm so looking forward to them. I hope you'll enjoy Richard Berkeley's Bride. It's such a thrill to have you here today.

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