Read and Dish: A Love By Any Measure, Interview Edition

A Love by Any Measure: Killian McRae, Tulipe Noire Press

The Summary: (Goodreads, Amazon)

An Irish lass. An English lord. A love that overcomes all boundaries.

August Gryason has secretly dreamt of the girl living on his family’s Irish estate since childhoods spent together in Killarney. Now a proper Lord of the British Empire, he knows that Maeve could never be more than just a distant fantasy. Still, if only…

Maeve O’Connor owns nothing in this world but her good name, which proves just enough to win a proposal for a marriage of convenience to a good, Irish lad. Until the wedding, however, she’s in dire straits. Rent on the cottage she and her father share is due, but there simply isn’t the money to pay. Driven to desperation, Maeve hopes Lord Grayson, her childhood-chum-turned-dashing-English-rogue, will prove lenient when she comes seeking clemency. The temptation presented proves too much, and August offers Maeve a compromise: should she permit him twice as long on each succeeding visit to do whatever he wishes in pursuit of his pleasure, he will consider her rent paid. Starting with a mere five seconds, pulses soon out race the ticking clock, as August’s desires become Maeve’s own. Passion blinds them to the challenges closing in on both the Irish and English fronts, threatening to destroy the love they’ve discovered. Working to bridge that which divides them, tempting fate with each stolen kiss, and torn between desire and obligation, Maeve and August must strive to overcome all and find a love by any measure…

Read via: Epub, Tulipe Noire Press
Special Thanks to Killian McRae and Tulipe Noire 

The market of historical romance is saturated with several standards:  Regency era ballgowns that fall away due to hands on a pair of muscular arms, attached  to a muscular, exposed chest.  A Highland moor, a crashing surf, a castle wall, Victorian setting, Gothic setting, Renaissance setting…with (insert swooning woman, brooding man, and their half removed clothing) doing precisely the same thing. Over and over. For years.   The stories are often filled with formulaic pose consisting of heaving bosoms, quivering hands, one high family and one family of good name on the bring of ruin.

Romances have captivated mankind for centuries, and someone argue that the endless dance of rising passions and sobering obstacles leave nothing to be new under the sun.

I counter that with the following:
1.  A cover that should be on display in an art show.
2.  Historical settings well researched.
3.  Characters given such aching realism that you can’t help but become invested in their lives.

A Love By Any Measure tells the story of Maeve O’Connor and Lord August Grayson against the backdrop of  Ireland, England,and Boston with highlighted years in 1866 and 1872. The differences in class are only a fraction of the things that keep Maeve and August from attaining a desire that once came to them in youth. This isn’t the common love found in  run-of-the-mill stories. The main characters alternate at points in the story who is victim and who is victimized.  The people in their lives stand to benefit or fail due to the decisions that they make.  Enriching their meetings is a world rich in detail. McRae breaks apart the standards for the genre and brings out rich, fluid beauty to take us through the circumstance.

One of the things that made the story was the attention to historical detail; while there are major events touched on, the writer was able to capture an authentic tone for the social attitudes of the day. While every reader has their guilty romantic pleasures, there is a certain union that comes when the mind meets at the same intersection of the heart.  Killian McRae balances the history in such a way that it makes a reader desire to learn more of what bubbles underneath the surface.  This is a critical skill, and well done.  The textbook is a human one, and from the eyes of the characters, you are able to see the effects of classism, political inequality, disparity, and the obligations of higher standing.  Rare is it to find an author who is able to show us that the world surrounding is not one cut for romance. There is a sense of desperation that drives one on to survive even in a Killarney rising from the ashes. An expectation that breaks friendships, and backs.  A sadness that carries over the Atlantic, and a second thought to leave you wondering if it all was truly worth it.

What made A Love By Any Measure as pleasurable as the moments passing in the exchanges between the two many characters was that taking me to the moments of white-hot passion were actions that spoke of true human beings.  Another out-of-the-box genre moment, for it is often found that romantic leads far fall more under stereotype than familiarity with true experience. And for those that wonder if there are enough white-hot moments?   The reader will not be disappointed.   It is the way the leads are written than when they encounter the moments of their time agreement, and beyond, that leave the cheeks to blush and the mind to wander to places where lover’s dare to tread.

To conclude:  There is a new girl on the block, ladies and gentleman, and she’s got the genre’s number.   Look out, status quo.  McRae is coming to break your door down.  And she writes sci-fi, too!

Geeky Chic Grade: A+

Interview


1.) What drew you to becoming a writer, and what was the first inspiration you had for “A Love By Any Measure?”


I don’t know how to answer except to say that I’ve been writing since I had the mechanics to do so. I remember even as far back as 2nd or 3rd grade, making text books for my stuffed animals. It’s just something that I’ve always done.
I was introduced to the genre of historical romance in high school. Already a fan of historical fiction at the time (I was one of the rare teens who was enthralled by “A Tale of Two Cities” and “David Copperfield”), and being female, it was a natural progression. Historical romance allows the author and the reader to explore the challenges against lovers within their historical context. One of my areas of historical interest has been the Irish-English conflict through time. ALBAM emerged as the crossing of these personal interests.
2.) What do you think is the most important aspect to making historical fiction true to your chosen period while still being accessible to the modern mind?
One must be cautious to first frame the larger base of conflict that transcends times. i.e. One thing that carries through history is the grand tradition of fathers to believe that no one is good enough to marry their little girls. In the context in which you write, however, this can be further expressed. In ALBAM, Rory O’Connor despises August Grayson, and he needs no other reason than the fact that August is English.
3.) How did you go about doing the research for the story?
I read extensively on the Irish experiences around this time, and of the Fenian movement in its several incarnations during the last few hundred years.
4.) The characters of Maeve O’Connor and Lord Grayson stand out as different than the standard historical romance leads. The portrayals in their intelligence, emotions, hopes and fears made reading about them refreshing; I became easily attached to them because of their genuine nature.   What did you hope to highlight the most in each character?
While I adore historical romance, I often feel let down by the flat personalities they employ. What I most wanted to reader to come away with was the fact that neither August nor Maeve were easily defined as a victim or a perpetrator. Neither is entirely just or lacking blame. I gave this dynamic much thought in naming the book. “Any Measure” is significant. It’s a romance, it’s a story of love overcoming obstacles. However, unlike many other historical romances, what Maeve and August must go through and what they must give up to in order to find a fertile ground on which to grow that love is immense. One could even argue they don’t deserve the happiness they are eventually able to find. And, believe it or not, that’s what I was shooting for. I want to reader to question at the end of the end is truly a happy one, or simply a continuation of Maeve and August’s self-satisfying arrangement.
5.) For the setting, what drew your choice to Victorian Era Ireland of 1860, and to Irish-English relations?
In large part, I was drawn to many of the social questions that were beginning to emerge in England at this time, vis-a-vis Ireland. Many don’t realize that the reason the Irish famine was so devastating isn’t simply because Ireland lacked sufficient food. In fact, they didn’t. There was plenty of food in Ireland in the form of livestock and crops other than potatoes, but it was forcefully exported by the English for profit even as the Irish descended into epidemic woe, disease and death. In the 1860’s, many of the English had begun second thinking their policies in Ireland that basically left the people in an frozen system of life-long debt and servitude. Placing the love story in this era gives on the opportunity to explore this transition on a very intimate level.
6.) If you could live in any era yourself, what would you choose and why?
What a grand question. My first instinct was to say ancient Rome, because I’ve always been fascinated with its legacy and history. On second thought, though, as a woman I’d be a second class citizen in Rome. Honestly, for a woman like me, this is probably the best times and one of the best cultures in which to live. Many eras I’d like to visit (Ottoman Empire, Gilded Age New York, Victorian England), but I wouldn’t want to live there.
7.)  Any new projects in the works?
If there’s one thing I never lack, it’s projects. 🙂 (or is it  😦 ? ) But, things I can confirm that are coming up in the next six months or so:
1. Late Winter: Release of a YA fantasy
2. In 2012, I’ll be releasing a 4-part novella series that are spin-offs of my science fiction book, “12.21.12”
3. Starting in January, I’ll be serializing the same book, “12.21.12” as a podcast/audio book.
There may be some other things, I’m sure. If there’s one thing I don’t lack, it’s ambition.

To learn more, please visit
Tulipe Noire Press:  Site & FB
Killian McRaeSite & FB
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