Welcome to The Plain, Cate. Please tell us where you’re from.
I was born in Oklahoma City and grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After we married, my husband took me away from the Southwest desert. Our move to Northeast Tennessee was our eighteenth major move in twenty-six years his Navy career. (It’s true!)What sparked your interest in writing?
I’ve been a reader all my life and, like many authors, I’ve always loved to write. I resisted the urge until seven years ago when, one night at work, my nursing supervisor sat me down and read me the prologue of someone else’s contemporary novel. We didn’t get through the entire thing, but the story concept captured my interest. That was January, 2006. I’ve been writing ever since.What components, in your opinion, make a great story?
I will read any author who can make me laugh and cry in the same book. I also enjoy stories that incorporate children into them. What can I say? I’m a pediatric nurse in my day job!How would you generally categorize the books/stories you write?
Chiefly, I read historicals, historical fiction and historical romance. I write what I read. Certain periods intrigue me, such as the Pre-Revolutionary War / Revolutionary War / Georgian Period.Do you set your books/stories in your hometown, or do you prefer more exotic locations?
Yes…and yes—at least, one of them (hometowns, that is). My current series is set primarily in Charleston, South Carolina with sojourns to London and Inveraray Castle, Argyllshire, Scotland. We lived in Charleston, the first time, for just over two years. The second time we moved there, several years later, we called it home for 5 ½ years. In many ways, Charleston itself is an exotic location, and is genuinely one of the most beautiful cities in which we had the privilege of living.A perfect location for Richard Berkeley’s Bride. What was the hardest part of the story to write?
I found two parts most difficult, actually. The opening chapter took me months and months to write so I not only liked it, but I loved it. It needs to be sufficiently compelling to draw a reader into the story and make them want to read further. Author Vonda Sinclair made the initial suggestion to change the chapter. In no uncertain terms she told me my opening needed to be scrapped. I scrapped the first hundred pages, as it happened, and started it where the story actually began. After a few more months I changed it again and added an entirely different first chapter, beginning the story from my hero’s point of view. It worked. The ending was just as challenging. It sat out there staring me in the eye, daring me to come up with something perfect. The ending, once written, has never changed. I hope my readers will agree it’s perfect.Was there much research involved?
Since I’m still writing the series, there is so much research it’s hard to believe. So many, many people have contributed to it, including, but not limited to the generous and informative Inveraray Castle staff, the Charleston Historical Society, The Victoria and Albert staff, and the Assistant to the Director of Muniments at Westminster Abbey. Entire books are stored inside my computer that are no longer available in print. I find it fascinating, actually.Do you listen to music when you write?
I do. I love Baroque music and have in excess of 23 hours of some of the best, most beautiful music ever composed stored on my computer. Wherever I am, I put in my earplugs and get right in to my writing zone.If you could go back in time, what author would you most like to invite to share a chat and a cup of tea?
Jane Austen would certainly be my top choice. And a nice Darjeeling would be lovely, thanks.What’s next for you? Can we look forward to a new story soon?
Dreams Within Dreams, a continuation of my series, will be out the last week of May. The third and last book of the series, Patriot’s Dreams, will release the last week of August.Who supports your writing activities most?
My wonderful husband, my very best friend, Gregory.Name a few of your favorite non-writing activities.
I will tell you that I love to sew. I’m actually quite good at it. I’ll also confess I haven’t even sewn up a hem in over a year. Life with my books has been pretty busy. I also actually love to cook. Okay, family, quit laughing! I do enjoy cooking whenever I can carve out some time to prepare something really interesting and tasty.They might be laughing, Cate, but I’m sure they’re proud of you. Let’s have a look at that book that’s been keeping you so busy.
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.
Alexandra and Richard retired to the drawing room fireside to await her father’s return. When she was seated, he went to stand beside the fireplace, ablaze with the Yule log, gaily decorated and set ablaze last night at sunset. Richard rested one booted foot on the raised hearth.
"Alexandra, in our few days together, you’ve remarked, on more than one occasion, regarding the nature of our betrothal, specifically as to your not having been consulted."
She was immediately taken aback. A sober, steady gaze replaced his usual cheerful countenance and gave her no clue to the reply he expected. He waited for it, nonetheless.
"Yes, it is true, Richard. I have," she whispered. Her eyelids, chin, and voice lowered, ashamed. Really ashamed. She had early given voice to emotions that brought him to make this observation—feelings that had changed rather materially since her return only eleven days past.
He continued, his words slow and deliberate, so she could not mistake his meaning, paying careful attention to her face all the while. "To be candid, Alexandra, I find myself unconvinced of the appropriateness of my initial intentions. If this were to have been a truly mercenary marriage on my part, I would not have brought this matter before you for resolution. For, you see, in the last few days you’ve captured my affections as no other woman ever has. This being the case, at a single word from you, I’ll withdraw my suit and free you and your father from any further obligation."
Stunned, and shocked to her core by his offer, she was certain he saw it reflected within her eyes. She caught her breath, unable to believe such a large lump could constrict her throat once more. She had come to accept their marriage as inevitable. It would take place whether she wanted it or not. But here was release, unequivocal and certain. She had but to say a single word and it would be given.
Objections filled her mind. "But Richard, it is simply impossible! The banns have all been called and the betrothal document has been signed. The…"
His gaze on her face pinned her in place. He dismissed her objections with a single airy wave of his hand. "Be assured these matters are but trifling compared to the possibility of your future unhappiness resulting from a forced marriage."
Her entire world shifted. She was touched to her core, unable to believe such generosity could exist in a man. Much more than generosity—compassion, kindness…and love. She dropped her head, feeling her unworthiness.
He is willing to face derision from his family and acquaintance that could be his lot for many months to come, to face the loss of substantial wealth and property, as well as, perhaps, the esteem in which he is so widely held...all because his affection for me supersedes all those other considerations.
She lifted her eyes, striving to stare into his soul. His gaze steady on her face , his expressive features impassive, he waited for her reply.
"I am humbled, deeply moved and more uncomfortable than I have ever been in my life, Richard. But the crux of the matter is this," she murmured. "My feelings for you would simply not permit me to allow unhappiness to befall you, nor any other affliction within my power to prevent."
His relentless gaze and stiff lips softened. "In that case, there’s but one more question I must ask, Alexandra." He crossed to stand before her, dropped to a knee, then grasped her hands in his. "Will you consent to be my wife?"
Meeting Richard’s eyes again, her chest squeezed, her heart pounding in her chest. This is the single moment in my life that matters more than any other.
Rising from her chair, Alexandra stood before him, trying with all her might to bare her soul to him, and murmured, "Yes, I will, Richard. I very much wish to become your wife."
Richard stood and drew her to him, enfolding her in his arms, he dropped his lips to hers. She rose on tiptoes and her arms slid about his back. Holding him to her with all her strength, Alexandra surrendered herself entirely to him, every inch of her body molded to his, secure within his embrace. Time stopped and long moments stretched by in which nothing else intruded except for Richard in her arms.
* * * * *About Cate Parke:
Richard Berkeley’s Bride / Available from