Her Heart for a Compass is out today! At last, the ‘big’ book that I co-authored with Sarah, The Duchess of York has hit the shops, and I can finally talk about it.
So first of all, what is the book all about? Here is the official blurb:
In an attempt to rebel against a society where women are expected to conform, free-spirited Lady Margaret Montagu Scott flees her confines and an arranged marriage. But Lady Margaret’s parents, the Duke and Duchess of Buccleuch, as close friends with Queen Victoria, must face the public scrutiny of their daughter’s impulsive nature, and Margaret is banished from polite society.
Finding strength amongst equally free-spirited companions, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise, Margaret resolves to follow her heart. On a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain, Lady Margaret must follow her heart and search for her place, and her own identity, in a changing society.
Incorporating research into her heritage and drawing upon her own unique life journey, the Duchess, with co-writer Marguerite Kaye, pens a fictional account of the life of her great-great-aunt, Lady Margaret Montagu Douglas Scott. Rich in historical detail, and set amongst the drawing rooms of Victoria’s court, and the grand country houses of Scotland and Ireland, Her Heart for a Compass is a breathtaking romantic novel of daring to follow your heart against all odds.
I’ve already talked about what fun I had working with The Duchess on this book and the friendship that we now share, and you’ll be hearing a whole lot more from both of us in the media in the next few days and weeks.
To celebrate launch day, I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of insider knowledge with you here, personal connections to me that are woven into the story that both The Duchess and I had fun dreaming up.
So first of all, there’s my native Argyll. The real Princess Louise, who became the Duchess of Argyll, features in the story as Lady Margaret’s best friend. Inveraray and the Castle, the ancestral home of the Duke and Duchess of Argyll, has featured in a number of my own romances, and the view from the town across Loch Fyne is one of my favourites. It’s this view, from this very photograph, that Princess Louise describes in Her Heart for a Compass, in a letter to Lady Margaret following her marriage to the Duke of Argyll:
The photograph she (Louise) enclosed was not of her husband’s family home but of the pretty fishing village by the same name on the banks of Loch Fyne “Which I thought you would like, for I know how much you enjoy the Highland scenery”, Louise had written. It was a very beautiful scene, with heather-clad hills in the background beyond the still waters of the loch.
That’s not the only connection between Argyll and the book though. Fraser Scott, a Crimean War veteran whom Lady Margaret quite literally stumbles upon early on in the book, was born in the village of Lochgoilhead not too far from my own home. And the little steamer which Donald Cameron has had built to sail on Loch Arkaig is named Scarba, after the Western Ferry the Sound of Scarba, which will be very familiar to you if you follow my ‘good morning’ Twitter posts.
Much more personal are two characters whom The Duchess named just for me. Johanna, who is one of Lady Margaret’s maids in New York, was named for my amazing Mum; and Margherita, the daughter born to Randolph Mueller and his wife at the end of the New York section of the book is of course named for me (as well as Lady Margaret, naturally).
And so onto the celebrations. I have a very special hardback copy of the UK edition of Her Heart for a Compass to give away to one lucky reader, with a bookplate signed by both myself and The Duchess. To enter, all you have to do is comment below (if you haven’t commented here before, there might be a delay in posting until you are whitelisted, so don’t worry if it doesn’t come up straight away. Here is the question:
If your heart was your compass, where would it lead you?
The competition is international, so open to all. The winner will be announced here on Monday 9th August.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED
Congratulations to Anna, my winner. I have sent you an email.
Thank you so much to everyone who entered, and I do hope that if you read the book you’ll let me know what you think.