Blythe Gifford introduces The Brunson Clan in RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR

Please help me welcome Blythe Gifford to my blog today. Blythe is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky commentor so be sure and leave a comment for her.

Was your road to publication fraught with peril or a walk in the park?

I started writing seriously after a corporate layoff. Ten years later and one layoff later, I was an “overnight success” when Harlequin Historicals bought my Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist manuscript.

Did you have several manuscripts finished before you sold? If so, did you send them out yourself?

I did not get an agent until I had two books sold and a contract in hand for two more. I sold my second completed manuscript. But by the time frame, you can see I made one of the number one rookie mistakes. I spent too long on my first manuscript! Six years writing, rewriting, submitting, reworking…! I did finally sell it, but I should have moved on much earlier.

Do you have any other words of inspiration for aspiring authors?

Obviously, based on the above, I’m a big believer in perseverance. But my advice sounds like just the opposite: If you can quit, do. What I mean by that is, if writing is something you are doing on a lark or for fame or because that lady who wrote 50 Shades of Gray made a mint, that won’t be enough to get you through all the difficulties of this profession. Make it easy on yourself. Quit now, while you’re ahead! Each writer has to find that inner reason that drives the work.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

I write historical romance. When I first started writing seriously, that was my favorite genre to read.

Has your muse always known what genre you would write and be published in?

Well, I started writing (and illustrating) my first historical novel at age ten. In pencil. Thankfully for the world, I gave up illustration. But yes, I am firmly rooted in history. I just don’t get any contemporary ideas! But when I read history, which I do, even for fun, I start wondering what that event would have meant to a real person.

Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you avoid reading that genre? Why?

It’s so hard to keep up with my genre these days. (True confession: I have NOT read 50 Shades!) And, sadly, it’s harder for me to be swept away by a romance now because I read as a writer, analyzing how the author put the story together. To escape, I’ll read non-fiction (history) or a thriller.

Tell us about your current series.

RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR is the first of three about the Brunson Clan, a family of Reivers on the Scottish Borders during the early Tudor era. It is the story of John, the youngest son, who returns home after years of serving as a “big brother” to the young Scottish king. John is a man with something to prove, both to himself and to his family. As the only blue-eyed Brunson, he’s always felt as if he didn’t belong. Now, he no longer wants to. As soon as he enforces the king’s command for peace, he plans to return to his life at court and leave the valley of his birth for the last time.

But first, he must persuade Cate Gilnock to release his family from their promise to avenge her father’s death. Cate is a woman fierce as a warrior, but behind her eyes John senses vulnerability and secrets she refuses to share. Bit by bit, he falls in love with her, and with each step, he is drawn back into the life he thought he had left behind forever. Because of Cate, he discovers he is more like the rest of his family than he thought until, finally, he must decide: Is he truly a Brunson? Or is he the King’s man after all?

CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, January 2013, will tell the story of John’s sister, Bessie Brunson and finally, Black Rob Brunson, oldest son and leader of the family, meets his match in TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL, March 2013.

What inspired your latest book?

The trilogy was inspired by a real historical event, the execution of a famous Border Reiver. The story is told, or sung, more accurately, in “The Ballad of Johnnie Armstrong.” Johnnie was one of the most notorious reivers on the Borders. According to the balladeer, Johnnie was not lawfully tried and convicted, but basely murdered when he was lured to a meeting with the king by a “loving letter” that insisted he come unarmed.

I thought Johnnie deserved a happy ending, so I set out to write one.

Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?

Oh, hearing from readers, absolutely. Even seeing a review that someone liked my book makes my day.

One lucky reader who comments on today’s blog will be randomly selected to win a signed copy of RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR.

In this excerpt from Chapter One of RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, John has come across Cate, practicing her sword fighting against her own shadow. He thinks to play with her, easily besting her sword with his dagger, but the woman proves more capable than he imagined…

He jumped just in time to escape a touch. Now was not the time for distractions. He had expected a playful joust. Instead, he faced a warrior.

He swung high, but she held up her sword, turned sideways, to block his stroke. A clever move, but lifting the two-handed sword had strained her strength and when she lowered it, her arms shook.

Seizing on her weakness, he attacked and they crossed blades again. Prepared now, he leveraged his strength against her sword. Though she kept her grip, he pushed the blade away, coming close enough to feel her chest rise and fall, nearly touching his.

Close enough that his mind wandered, careless of the blades, thinking that under her tunic and vest, she had breasts. Now he could see her face, the angles of it, sharp and cleanly sculpted as her sword. Yet thick lashes edged her brown eyes, disguising some of the hatred there.

“Surrender now?”

Panting, she shook her head. Yet her lips parted, tempting him to take them. She was, after all, a woman. A kiss would be mightier than a sword.

He pushed her sword arm down, pulled her to him, and took her lips.

She yielded for a breath, no more.

But it was long enough for him to lose his thoughts, to forget she held a sword and remember only that she was a woman, breasts soft against his chest, smelling of heather…

In a flash, she turned stiff as a sword and leaned away, though her lips did not leave his, so he thought she only teased.

When he felt the point of a dirk at his throat, he knew she did not.

“Let me go,” she said, her lips still close that they moved over his. “Or you’ll be bleeding and I’ll leave you to it, I swear.”

He eased his arms from her back and she pushed him away, wiped her mouth, and spat into the dirt.

He touched the scratch she’d left on his neck, grateful she had not drawn blood.
Her eyes, which he had thought to turn soft with pleasure, narrowed, hard with fury.
“It’s a Brunson you’re facing,” he said, trying a smile. “Not a Storwick.”

She raised both sword and dirk, the larger wobbling in her grip. “It’s a man I’m facing who thinks what I want is of no consequence if it interferes with his privileges and pleasures.”

Had he imagined the echo of the bedchamber in her voice? No more.

He raised his eyebrows, opened his arms and made a slight bow. “A thousand pardons.” Words as insincere as the feelings behind them.

She frowned. “You are a stranger here, so you know no better. And because you are a Brunson, I’ll let you keep your head, but I’ll warn you just once. You will not do that again. Ever.”

She lowered her sword, slowly.

You are a stranger. She was the Brunson, besting him with a sword, displacing him at the family table. His temper rose. “And what if I do?”

The blade rose, this time, not pointed at his throat, but between his legs. “If you do, you won’t have to worry about bedding a woman ever again.”

He swallowed, gingerly, his body on fire. Only because she had challenged him. Nothing more. No man could desire such a woman.

“Then have no worries on that score, Catie Gilnock,” he said, flush with anger. “When next I bed a woman, it most certainly will not be you.”


Blythe Gifford has been known for medieval romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket. Now, she’s launching a trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the early Tudor era, starting with RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, Harlequin Historical. CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD will follow in January 2013, and TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL in March 2013. The Chicago Tribune has called her work “the perfect balance between history and romance.” Visit her at,, or on Twitter @BlytheGifford.

Excerpt © 2012 Photo credits. Cover used with permission. Author photo by Jennifer Girard.

19 thoughts on “Blythe Gifford introduces The Brunson Clan in RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR

  1. Hi blythe love the excerpt of your book. It sounds very interesting:). A lady that can wield a sword, wooooww I am swoon over this book :). I have a question for you what has inspired you to write a book about a heroine that can wield a sword ? Thx

    • Aretha – so glad you liked the excerpt! The reason Cate is so warriorlike is revealed in her backstory, but one thing that inspired me was the scene in The Mask of Zorro where Catherine Zeta-Jones fights Antonio Banderas. Such tension!

  2. It’s been a while since I’ve read historicals – this looks like a good one. I always admire authors who can write historicals – so much detail that must be accurate! Congrats on your new series.

  3. Thanks for sharing the story of path to publication. “If you can quit, do.” That’s the same advice aspiring performers get. It’s not the easiest career choice. There are lots of failed artists. Not so many failed accountants.

  4. I am glad I don’t live back then, I couldn’t use a sword. I love the way historical authors make the story come alive. You make me wish I could time travel just to see all the beautiful places. Keep up the good work.

  5. I can’t wait to read Return of the Border Warrior – that is my favorite genre of books. I’m having surgery soon and will be laid up for 6 weeks, so I’m trying to add to my TBR pile and this is on it. Thank you for such wonderful books and looking forward to the series on the Brunson family!

  6. Hi Blythe and Cynthia,

    Loved The Knave and the Maiden and His Border Bride! Plus the Reivers is my favorite Faulkner novel. Looking forward to reading Return of the Border Warrior. Good luck!

  7. Medievals are my favorite genre. The further back an author takes me, the more I seem to enjoy it. I’ve been hearing great things about this one – thanks for the chance!

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