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Nobody Trusts a Warriner...

I've always loved a series. I hate saying goodbye to characters and delight in colliding with them again in different books. However, I decided to give myself a bit of a run up before embarking on my first series, so my first four books were stand-alone stories. But all that time there was one always lurking in my mind. Fermenting. A story about four brothers. Last summer, I finally gave myself permission to write it and my ‘Wild Warriners’ were born.

Like many good ideas, this one was inspired by something else. In this case another story- the 1950s musical Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I adore that film. From the moment uncultured red-headed homesteader Adam Pontipee drove his wagon into the small town in Oregon Territory and declared he’d ‘come to get me a wife’ I was hooked. Then, of course, he managed to find one and when he took the poor girl home she realised he only wanted a wife to look after his six younger brothers-Benjamin, Caleb, Daniel, Ethan, Frankincense and Gideon (you see I am so besotted I remember all their names and the order they came into the world).

Obviously, I couldn’t steal that story, but I could shamelessly borrow the parts of the concept. Like the Pontipees, the Warriners eek out a meagre living on the land. They are also looked down upon by practically everyone. Like their celluloid forebears, they are all devilishly handsome- raven haired rather than ginger and with beautiful matching bright blue eyes- misunderstood and all in desperate want of a wife. Instead of being alphabetical, I decided to irritate my editor by making them all have the same initials- JW.

Jack, Jamie, Joe and Jake.

This first book, A Warriner to Protect Her, is the eldest Jack’s story. He’s a fiercely proud man used to being in charge after circumstances forced him to bring up his other three brothers from the tender age of eighteen. He hates the family’s ‘Wild Warriner’ reputation and has been fighting an uphill battle to convince the world he is not like all of his nefarious ancestors, all to no avail. Despite all his good work, nobody trusts a Warriner and the chance of a woman wanting to marry one was as likely as Jack clawing his way out of poverty.

When you have a proud, hard-headed and stubborn male on your hands, you need an equally determined and feisty heroine to stand up to him. My heroine is called Letty Dunston, and just to annoy Jack, I made her a phenomenally wealthy heiress. A woman feted by all in society for her beauty and her impeccable taste. And because Jack didn’t move in those kind of elevated circles and his failing estate is in ‘deepest, darkest, dankest Nottinghamshire’, I had her kidnapped and dragged up the Great North Road to Gretna Green.

Letty being Letty, she escapes her kidnapper and plunges into Sherwood Forest in the middle of a terrible rainstorm. That’s where Jack finds her, frozen and near death, so obviously he had to take her home. When he discovers who she is and how much danger she is in he agrees to hide her, but his temper explodes when she tries to pay him for his kindness.

There’s a fabulous line in Seven Brides. When Adam tells the proprietor of the trading post he’s come to find a wife, the woman replies in outrage 'None of our gals is going to go off to bear country with you to cook and wash and slave for seven slumocky backwoodsmen!’

With Jack too proud to accept what he considers Letty’s charity, and with Letty beginning the story as a bit of a pampered princess, that line gave me ideas. Ideas which I’d love to share- if only they didn’t give too much of the story away…

Virginia Heath writes witty Regency romantic comedies for Harlequin Mills & Boon. The first book in her 'Wild Warriners' series, A Warriner to Protect Her, is released in May 2017

An heiress in distress and an earl in disgrace…

When heiress Violet Dunston escapes from an abduction, she finds an unlikely protector in Jack Warriner—a member of one of England's most infamous families. Ensconced with mysterious Jack behind his manor's walls, soon escape is the last thing on Letty's mind!

Jack may be an earl, but his father's exploits have left him with nothing to offer except a tarnished name. He's turned his back on the ton, but with Letty tempting him day and night, he finds himself contemplating the unthinkable—a society marriage!

And look out for the 2nd instalment, A Warriner to Rescue Her in July 2017

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