Monday, September 15, 2014

Male On Monday - The Regency Man

This Monday at The Pink Heart Society, Harlequin Historical author, Georgie Lee, talks to us about the attraction of the Regency-era hero. Then, as is often still the case today, clothes helped maketh the man. 

One hundred and seventy-four years after his death, women all over the world can still be thankful for the effect Beau Brummell had on fashion. Don't believe me? Well, if I said he was the man credited with introducing and establishing the modern man's suit worn with a necktie, would that help?

Granted, it's not the same now as it was in Brummell's time, but his influence is still evident in the office, board room and at social events. 

The Regency era is when men’s attire really got it together. Gone were the gaudy silks and frills of the Georgian age. Instead, it was all about perfectly tailored, bespoke garments (Gucci and Armani, anyone?). The Brummell look was based on dark coats, full length trousers, immaculate shirt linen and an elaborately knotted cravat.

And the fashion conscious Regency man wore it well.

Long boots were standard (demonstrating the influence of riding apparel), they carried their gloves when they weren't wearing them, and the Regency saw the first appearance of the top hat. Many men also carried a cane when out walking, a habit which formed when they were no longer permitted to walk around with swords.

The era of high wigs and flowing, curly locks was over, too. Instead, the Regency ushered in an age of close cropped hair with a sexy, rumpled effect, influenced by statues of legendary Roman figures like Titus and Brutus.

But did you know, historically speaking, the Regency period only lasted nine years? Why, then, are we so drawn to Regency men two centuries later?

Jane Austen certainly helped. Ever since Mr. Darcy appeared in all of his dripping wet glory from that famous lake, Austen adaptations have guaranteed audiences for both TV and Movie screens. There's also the fact romanticism was well established by the Regency period. You wanted poetry, you had Wordsworth, Byron and Shelley. You wanted art, there was Constable and Turner. If there had been an iTunes, you would most likely have been downloading Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert. 

It was a time when romance was celebrated.

Maybe part of the attraction is we feel we could do with a little more of that, these days...

While we no longer live in a world filled with etiquette and elegance, balls and duels, debutantes and rakes, the draw of a brooding, heart-throb hero remains. Dress him up and it increases the need to have our heroine dress him down. In more ways than one!

The potential for a heroine to slowly undo the hero's cravat is one of the many reasons I love writing Regency-set historical romance. It’s hard to pass up a gentleman in a well tailored suit, especially when he is in possession of a big manor house. 

Are you a fan of the Regency period? Which heroic qualities from the world of Mr. Darcy, Mr. Knightley and Captain Wentworth do you think are still important today? Do you have a favorite actor who played a Regency role? Let us know in the comments!

Georgie's latest Regency romance, The Courtesan's Book of Secrets, is out on October 1st:

To save his family legacy, Rafe Densmore must seize a courtesan's infamous register. No one can ever know how his father betrayed his country! One person stands in Rafe's way - the beautiful Cornelia, Comtesse de Vane.

In the card rooms of Paris, Rafe and Cornelia made an unbeatable... intimate team. Until, convinced of Rafe's desertion, desperate Cornelia married an elderly comte. Now, returning to London and impoverished widow,  she'll do anything to possess the register.

Even if that means becoming Rafe's partner once again...

To find out more about Georgie's books, you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Be Kind To Authors...They Are People Too.

Another new columnist for The Pink Heart Society is author Joss Wood, who is here today to talk to us about generosity of spirit. Can you forgive a favourite author for a book which didn't quite hit the mark? How many misses can they have before they leave your auto-buy list?

Hello from sunny South Africa where spring has arrived with a hop and a skip and already hot temperatures!

Like so many other authors I love reading and it absolutely feeds my soul. Last night I finished a book by an author I absolutely adore. I had been so looking forward to reading this book,  I loved every second of the hero's brother's book and this book was going to be as incredible...wasn't it?

(And no, I'm not going to tell you who the author was - that wouldn't be fair! Suffice to say that she is well known and generally writes amazing books!)

Oh, dear....I finished the last page, put my Kindle down and pulled a face. Ack. 

I felt all those emotions readers feel when the book just doesn't hit the spot. Disappointed, cheated, slightly annoyed. The book had such a good plot and so much more could've been made of the story. Except that it imploded like a cheese souffle. (Not that I have ever made a cheese souffle but I imagine that if I did, it would sink like a stone. Cooking is not a strong point of mine. Anyway, I digress...)

Then I took my reader hat off and pulled on my author hat and remembered that nobody can churn out thirty plus books and have them all be brilliant. Not even the fabulous Ms Still-Not-Telling-Ya! Nobody can hit that emotional sweet spot every time and there could've been a hundred reasons why this book wasn't as good as the rest.

As I write this I am also cognizant of the fact that this is my perception of the book, there are probably hundreds- thousands!- of people out there who adored this book and got exactly the emotional pay off I couldn't find.

But let's, for the sake of my argument, assume that it wasn't one of her better attempts.

Writing is not easy and it's especially not easy to write when you are sick, sick of dieting or you're dealing with teenage kids who make you want to chew your wrists off...oh, wait, that's me projecting again. But the reality is that we have no idea what is happening in an authors life when she's writing a particular everybody else, authors have issues and I believe that a creative person is always influenced by his environment. 

Maybe, I thought, this author was on a hectic deadline, maybe she was moving house or maybe she just didn't like these characters or this story as much as she loved others. 

That happens.

I know that we pay money for books and we expect value for our money and I am not, for one minute, saying that we should be accepting of badly written stories. This story wasn't bad, or badly written or not worth the just lacked a little sparkle. But, for all the other hours of sheer reading pleasure she's given me, I'll forgive her and let her off the hook.

Because maybe, if I do, the Karma Fairy will give me a pass when somebody feels disappointed by one of mine...

Are you a forgiving reader? Have you given up on an author you used to love? In the spirit of this post (not naming any names!), let us know what kept you turning the page or made you want to toss a book across the room...

Joss Wood's first book, She's So Over Him is available world-wide! 

He's back. He's insanely hot. He's absolutely the last person she should date.

Maddie Shaw is a part-time bartender with a never-get-involved attitude to dating and a flair for the perfectly served drink.

Yet when ex-boyfriend Cale Grant walks into her bar, a whole ten years after their massive bust-up, she's blown away all over again by his dark chocolate voice and deep blue eyes. So, just how over him is she?

To find out more about Joss, you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter

Friday, September 12, 2014

Friday Fun - 5 Reasons To Pick Up A Rock Star

Making her columnist debut at The Pink Heart Society, author Stefanie London campaigns on behalf of the fictional rock star. How do they measure up to the rest of the heroes we love? Are they the next 'big thing'?

I love all types of romance novels, although category/series romance will forever have a special place in my heart. I love all kinds of heroes, too – billionaire playboys, self-made businessmen, princes, sheikhs, cowboys (I've more recently come around to this trend), and firemen.

I read a book recently which shot a different hero to the top of my ‘want to read’ list. The Rock Star.

I blame Kylie Scott.

More specifically, I blame the first book in her Stage Dive series, Lick. The hero is a rock star who’s lost his mojo…until he meets the heroine, that is. Drinking and a quickie wedding in Vegas ensue, only she can’t remember a thing the next morning.

Please, Kylie Scott…take all of my money.

I would never have picked The Rock Star to be my favourite type of hero. I’m not really the kinda gal who was ever attracted to bad boys, piercings, long hair or brooding artsy types. One look at my husband will tell you I like my men clean cut and suited up. But that’s the great thing about romance novels, they’re pure escapism. So I can live out my rock star fantasies without having to figure out how to wash leather pants.

Not completely sold on the rock star hero? Here are 5 reasons I think you should pick up one today:
  1. They’re always topless and tattooed. They often like to strut around in jeans and boots without a shirt, while looking all moody and sexy. This is never a bad thing. 
  2. The have the feels! Artists are sensitive types so under all the drinking and swearing they’re just gooey balls of marshmallow emotion waiting for the right girl to write song lyrics for. Swoon. 
  3. They’re good with their hands. 
  4. There’s never a dull moment with a rock star. They can access all areas or they can whisk you away to a private mansions somewhere fabulous. Who doesn’t fantasize about that occasionally? 
  5. They’re waiting for the right girl to tame them. This is probably my favourite part of romance novels – I love it when a wild child finally meets his match in the heroine. Watching her unravel a guy as powerful and desirable as a rock star is utterly delightful.
So who would be my pick to play the sexy and moody David Ferris if Lick were ever made into a movie? Why, the fabulous Jared Leto of course.

Jared Leto = human perfection

Are you a fan of rock star heroes? Do you have a crush you'd like to share? Have you read Lick? We’d love to hear your recommendations for other rock star books. Let us know in the comments!

Stefanie London hasn't written about a rock star (yet) but she does love romance books tied to the art world. Stefanie’s second book with Harlequin Mills and Boon is Breaking the Bro Code, coming October 2014, and features an ex ballerina and her childhood love.

Off limits…and oh-so-tempting! 

Elise Johnson has more important things to concentrate on than men…saving her struggling ballet studio for starters! So when gorgeous Col Hillam—her brother’s best friend—saunters back into her life, she’s none too keen.

He might be proposing a purely professional arrangement, but the last time they got carried away by their crazy attraction it ended in disaster!

Col knows Elise is off-limits, but it only makes her more tempting…. With chemistry this hot, surely that bro code is now null and void…?

To find out more about the fabulous Stefanie and her books, you can find her on Facebook, Twitter or over at her website

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Time Out Thursday - Musings of a Superfan

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks here at the Pink Heart Society, and we’ve been introduced to a number of new columnists.  Today is the turn of Ali Williams, new PHS editor and columnist, to talk romance… 

I’ve been a romance superfan for as long as I can remember.  It goes back to sneakily reading a Mills & Boon Christmas collection of my grandmother’s when my mum wasn’t looking and has culminated recently in my own blog and a regular spot on Mills & Boon Socialise.

So when I was approached by the PHS team and invited to become part of this incredible romance community, I bit their hand off.

The PHS is the combination of everything I love doing in my spare time.  By day I work in the education sector in Central London, balancing data analysis with marketing and events, but romance novels are a large part of what I do to unwind.

Whether devouring the latest romance on my Kindle whilst I’m commuting into work, or curling up on the sofa whilst my fiancé watches the football or the F1, category romance is a fairly large part of my week.

What do I read?  Pretty much everything.  I’ll flit from emotional depth to sexy sass, from historical heart to pure scorching heat.

And then there’s the online community.  Blogs, personal websites, Twitter…category romance is blessed in its e-presence.

But there is a difference, writing a column as a reader as opposed to a writer.  My understanding of the writing industry is from an outsider’s view, and the intricacies of the publishing process isn’t something I’ve had to struggle through first-hand.  But I do understand the importance of the perceptions of romance.

I’ve given up on counting the number of conversations where people degrade romance, and indeed me for reading it.  There’re the “they’re all the same” comments, and the “they’re all badly written” asides.  I’ve even been told that as a feminist I should find them offensive.

I challenge every single one of these statements.

I love the different styles of writing and the different characters.  I’m continually surprised by the twists on different plots and refreshing and exciting ways in which writers approach classic tropes.  And as a feminist, I think that there’s a hell of a lot to celebrate in a genre that’s dominated by strong and intelligent female writers.

So I do spend a fair amount of time arguing this – online and in person.

I’m proud to be a part of such a rich and vibrant community – and particularly proud to be a part of the PHS relaunch, where these and other conversations are happening. 

Are you a long time romance reader? How did you get started? Do you read on the train or bus, when the kids are in bed or when you're immersed in a bubble bath? What's your favourite kind of romance? Have you had any comments from friends or family about your reading tastes? Let us know in the comments!

Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls' school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.

These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends an extraordinary amount of time coercing male friends to pose with her favourite Mills & Boon books to the bemusement of the Twittersphere.

Genre reporter for chick lit and erotica at For Books' Sake and guest blogger for Mills & Boon, she defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!  

To see what's she up to or reading, you can follow Ali on Twitter.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Writer's Wednesday - Beginning To End

This Wednesday at the Pink Heart Society, columnist Jennifer Hayward brings us the tenth installment of her Confessions of a Sophomore Author series.  She's talking about endings...

I’m not sure if I like writing beginnings or endings better. I love beginnings because it’s my chance to start my story off with a bang: to create a powerful inciting incident that draws readers in and takes them on a ride. I relish the challenge of introducing real, distinctive, characters with just a few sentences that define them with a minimum of back-story so the action keeps rolling. It’s all a big rush.

For me beginnings are like the first day of school. Fresh, shiny and full of possibilities. But they aren't without challenges. You have to try and avoid clichés, things that have been done before. You need to put a twist on a loved theme and make it current. Make it yours.

Photo credit: Slaff via photopin cc
Then you get to the middle and that’s where the work really starts. The slugging it out, page by page quest to build your conflict piece by piece, upping it with every scene. You can’t be repetitive, new information must be revealed and through it all, your characters must grow and you must pick the right times to show this growth. 

Intimidating? The middle of the book is always my OMG moment (well usually, there could be others). It’s my panicked call to a CP to talk it out moment. But I figure it out and then, there I am facing the ENDING. My favorite part.

Neither are they easy. When other writers say they struggle with openings and write them two or three times, for me it’s endings. It’s the last impression you leave the reader with. It’s everything you've built to. It’s the fruit of all the groundwork, all the foreshadowing you've laid – your entire character arcs. No pressure there – at all. 

But since I was asked by a reader to do a column on endings, here are my thoughts:

For me, a successful ending is like a drive down a football field. If the ball doesn't go in the end zone, if a field kick isn't scored, you have failed. It doesn't matter what’s comes before, if a writer messes up an ending for me, it colors my whole perception of the book. If he/she rushes the ending, it kills it for me too. It should be natural, it should be built to at the right pace and it must be satisfying. But even more than that, it has to have MAGIC. That elusive quality that makes you sigh.

So how do I attempt this daunting task? 

I do an outline when I start so I know my turning points—so I know all the peaks and valleys I need to hit with my plot. Then I get a clear understanding of my character arcs—what my character’s journeys are going to be—what they have to learn. 

Once I have this, I can figure out where my internal and external conflicts dovetail and climax at the end of the story. Often my external conflict is resolved just before my internal conflict – but it must be a kind of perfect storm. And to have that, you must have interwoven both the entire way.

If you’re wondering about turning points, Google a three or four act structure. There’s lots out there to help. Or read The Writer’s Journey by Christopher Vogler

These are the points of a character’s journey that make them heroic—that make stories work.

You tie up all your loose ends and make sure all the reader’s questions are answered. But there’s one more thing. That magic. It means creating an ending that can only belong only to those particular characters of yours. 
You pick up foreshadowing, markers you set down earlier in the book for the reader and now they come full circle. You play on a theme you’ve sewn throughout your book to pick the perfect moment to end with. Or you bookend a story with two ying and yang examples of how the characters have grown. 

I've done this with my hero’s manifesto in The Magnate’s Manifesto coming in December. We begin the story with his manifesto that inflames the entire female population and we end with his rebuttal – really the only thing I could have finished with.

Sometimes  you do the unexpected. In my latest release, Changing Constantinou’s Game, my heroine Izzie, a reporter for a Manhattan television station, is torn between a hot one night stand that becomes so much more than that and the job of a lifetime. At no point in the story does Izzie take the expected route like she’s done her entire life. She learns to follow her heart. And even though her decisions have a huge fall out effect on her career trajectory, even though they put her in near impossible situations and test her character to the end, it’s what she must do to learn herself. To learn who she truly is. There could have been no different ending to this book for me. 

I’d like to hear your thoughts on endings! Or anything in between. Is there a particular act you find harder to write than another? Part of the storytelling which comes naturally to you, like setting, dialogue or plot? Let us know in the comments!

Jennifer Hayward's most recent book is Changing Constantinou’s Game:

Alexios Constantinou is notorious for his lethal charm, so when the  exquisite Isabel Peters is—literally—dropped into his lap during a hellish elevator ride, he doesn't waste the opportunity! With tensions sky-high after their near-death experience, an insatiable desire ignites between them, and all bets are off. 

But when Alex discovers that reporter Isabel's next story is him, he's furious…yet determined to use it to his advantage. He's calling the shots, but the closer Isabel gets, the closer she comes to discovering his carefully concealed secret. Now, with everything at stake, he'll need a whole new game plan….

To find out more about Jennifer and her books, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Tuesday Talk-Time - The Scary World Of Modern Day Dating

Today at The Pink Heart Society, we're delighted to have Jennifer Rae making her debut as a columnist.  The topic up for discussion is dating in the modern world. Is it still possible to find love out there? 

When I was twenty two a boy rang me on the phone and asked me out on a date. But it wasn't a mobile phone. I couldn't escape to my room and giggle and flirt. Nope. 

This was the 90's and I was living at home with my family. When the family only owned one phone and it was located in the kitchen. 

The place where everyone congregated. The place where. Everyone. Could. Listen.

Take a moment. Let that sink in. 

My mum. My dad! My older brother (I could practically see his tiny mind ticking over with the ways to humiliate me). This young man rang and asked me to a football game when they were all there. I burned red. I almost dropped the phone as my palms turned instantly slick. I didn't know what to do. So I said yes and promptly hung up.

That Saturday I dressed in my very best maxi skirt and met him at the game. Our hands accidentally touched. He bought me a sausage roll. The sparks flew so thick and fast I imagined the grass being set alight. 

A few dates later I realized he was ‘the one’. Two years later we were married and all my awkward first dates were over.

But that was a looong time ago now and when I started writing romance novels, I needed to make sure I was ‘down’ with the latest dating scenes. I knew things had changed. I knew people didn't go to the footy and share a sausage roll anymore. The magical realm of the internet had changed everything – or so I’d read. ‘It Was So Much Easier Now!’ the headlines screamed. ‘We Are More Connected Than Ever!’

So in the interests of writing the most ‘real’ first date encounters I could – I started to research modern dating.

And friend, let me tell you – we ‘aint in Kansas anymore. 

A lot has changed. A. Lot. We’re talking online dating, speed dating, social media, Tinder, RSVP, Grindr, Reddit… It’s a whole new language and a whole new world and today’s daters have become so used to it – it’s become a way of speaking.

“He liked my pic on Insta so I checked him out on Facey and realized he was that loser that I blocked on Tinder.”

I was lost. But determined to figure this out. I had to. The romance readers of 2014 depended on me. I had to make my books authentic. If I said he called her – like on the phone – today's readers (especially those of you under 25) would be all “That’s totes obvs not how it happened.”

So I had to totes figure it out.

First stop: Facebook. I found plenty of old school friends posting embarrassing photos. But it was way too public. Everyone could see everything and from what I could see, there wasn't a lot of dating and flirting going on.

Dating Potential: Not great, to be honest – unless you were willing to go back and date Johnny , your best friend from Year 3.

What next? Instagram. OK. Looks logical enough. You post pics only and if you have a public account people follow you and like your pics. Then you like theirs and perhaps leave comment. Then you swap Snapchat accounts and start to send private pics. I gained a few followers. Some were not bad looking…if you’re into pumped up gym junkies taking selfies. But OK…no judgement. I post a selfie. No likes. Right, I’m clearly the most unattractive girl on Insta and everyone hates me and I may as well go eat worms.

Wait. I post a selfie at the gym. Push up bra doing its job nicely. 114 likes. Great! But as I scroll through them, I find most of them have username’s such as *bigdaddylikestoplay__** who wants me to Snapchat them ‘more titty photos please.’ Ahhhh. No. These titties are staying right where they belong Big Daddy. So I switch my account to private. Now my Instagram followers include my sister, my best friend and my son’s kindergarten teacher.

Dating potential: Awesome. As long as you’re into weirdos who want to be your ‘Big Daddy’

Right. Time to bring out the big guns. Online dating sites. For this I needed wine. And an old, divorced friend. She’s tried them all. Online dating, speed dating, chat sites…But tonight, we were checking out the dating phenomenon Tinder. She explained to me how you swipe right if you’re interested in a particular person and if they swipe right as well you get access to their details. By this time I’m a few wines in so I don’t really get it but we begin.

There are a lot of people on Tinder. And I recognize some of them. The gentlemen who works at my fuel station. My son’s teacher. A young man I recognize from the gym. It all seemed a little voyeuristic and weird but we ploughed on, swiped right till our fingers hurt and started conversing with men who lived within 20 miles of us.

A bottle of wine later our stomachs are in physical pain from the laughter inducing answers some of these men give. We’d been asked if we wanted to play hide the sausage by a 24 year old man with an unusually white smile. We’d found ourselves immersed in a full on fight with a man who didn't believe in trees. True Story.

Dating potential: Time will tell. My friend arranged to meet two of the men she’d connected with the following week. They’d seemed funny and smart and equally aware of how awkward this whole situation was.

By this stage, I was feeling a little dirty. And shallow. Everything was based on looks and zingy one liners and let’s face it – not everyone is good at the zingy one liners.  Except my friend and I when we’re drunk. We’re hilarious. 

But how many friends did Aaron who lived 6 miles away have sitting next to him? How many beers had he had? We had no idea. I got the impression that modern dating had put so much emphasis on image and how clever and sexy you looked on your profile that it was missing something extremely important.

Chemistry. That lovely feeling of accidentally brushing hands. Or locking eyes for too long.

After all my research, I’m still not sure I’m any more enlightened about modern dating. But what I do know is that no matter how much we connect online and through computers – until we meet face to face and look into someone’s eyes we can’t know if we’re going to connect. We can’t know if we have chemistry. So I’m going to load up my next book with all sorts of modern dating techniques, but when it comes to my hero and heroine actually falling in love – they’re going to do it at the footy, sharing a sausage roll. 

Did you meet your partner online or in a more 'traditional' way? Have you tried online dating? Do you think it's more difficult to find love now than it was in days gone by? How important is chemistry-does it have to be instantaneous or is it something which can grow as you get to know someone better? Let us know what you think!

Jennifer's latest book release is Sex, Lies & Her Impossible Boss.

'There's no such thing as "just sex", Cash'

When the new boss of Faith Harris's TV station, the famously ruthless and annoyingly gorgeous Cash Anderson, tells her he'll be cancelling her sex and relationships show she knows she's in for a fight. She's worked her silk-clad butt off to get her high ratings, and no man's going to take them away from her - however hot under the collar he secretly gets her...

But sugar's better than vinegar any day, so Faith decides to prove to Cash just how meaningful her show really is. The only trouble is, it's also rather... risque. And there was enough chemistry between them even before Faith set about proving just how riveting sex can be...!

To find out more about Jennifer and her books, you can visit her website and follow her on Facebook or Twitter. 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Male on Monday - Outlander's Sam Heughan

This Monday, The Pink Heart Society editor and Harlequin Historical author, Michelle Styles, investigates the appeal of Sam Heughan, who is currently heating up US and Canadian screens in Outlander.  

N.B.: At the time of writing this blog, the show still hadn't been picked up in the UK. Feel free to vent your frustration on that topic in the comments!

"You are safe," he said firmly. "You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well. The man willna lay hands on ye again, while I live." ~ Jamie Fraser in Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon

It is lines like this spoken in a soft Scottish burr which make women go weak at the knees for Jamie Fraser. But what do we know about Sam Heughan, the man who plays him in the television series based on Gabaldon's best-selling books?

He was the first member of the cast officially announced by Starz, the network producing Outlander, which it hopes will prove as successful as rival, HBO's, Game Of Thrones

"From the very beginning, I knew the part of Jamie Fraser would be difficult to cast. I had no one in mind for the part. I knew that someone would just come into the audition and be Jamie Fraser. And that's what Sam did," said executive producer Ron Moore.

Diana Gabaldon's response was equally as glowing; "Oh. My. God. That man is a Scot to the bone and Jamie Fraser to the heart. Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters."

In many ways it could be said the 6' 3" actor was born to play the part of a rebellious Scot who has a soft spot for a time travelling nurse. 

Sam Heughan made his first appearance on 30th April 1980, in New Galloway, Dumfriesshire in Scotland and later attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, graduating in 2003.  In the same year he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for best newcomer

Prior to being cast as Jamie Fraser, he 'paid his acting dues' with appearances in TV series and films like Any Human Heart, Doctors and A Princess For Christmas. He also accumulated an impressive list of theatre credits in productions as diverse as Hamlet and Batman Live.

But that's his Biography according to Wikipedia and IMDB. What do we know about the man?

Not much, is the short answer. As interviews start to appear we're discovering he likes Sci-Fi, having a drink, listening to post punk/rock music and going hiking. He's a licensed fencer and was taught to ride a horse for the role of Jamie. He's also pro-Scottish Independence as evidenced by the big blue Yes badge on his Twitter profile picture. But the truth is, to the majority of us, he's still a relative unknown.

Outlander could change that, particularly when it's received so many positive reviews (a second season was ordered before the third episode of the first season had even aired). 

As for Sam Heughan, I suspect he will create an upsurge in the popularity of Scottish romance. Don't believe me (or are stuck in the UK where those air-dates have yet to be announced) then take a look at the clip below. I think you'll agree he's definitely the kind of hero inspiration which can fuel a writer's imagination.

So what do you think? If you were an Outlander fan prior to the TV series, is he the Jamie you'd hoped to see on the screen? If you'd never read the books before, has the show sent you running to the closest bookstore to find out what happens next? 

To find out more, you can follow Sam Heughan on Twitter or join his fans, the Heughligans, on Twitter or at their website
We'll also be reviewing Outlander later in the month, so watch this space!

Michelle Styles, writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. 

Her most recent book is Saved by the Viking Warrior:

Battle-scarred Thrand the Destroyer has only one thing on his mind: settling old scores. But with the beautiful Lady of Lingfold as his prisoner, the unyielding warrior starts to dream of a loving wife and a home to call his own.

Cwen is also seeking justice, but she knows the fragile alliance she's built with Thrand will only last as long as they share a common enemy. Unless they can find a way to leave revenge to the gods and forge a new life together.

To find out more about Michelle and her books, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook.