My guest this month is a fellow member of the Marketing for Romance Writers support group. Jessica James responded when I mentioned to the group that I was looking for clean romances to promote here. She is celebrating the release of her Civil War trilogy, called Shades of Gray. The first book, Duty Bound, was released last week. Book two, Honor Bound, will be available this week, with Glory Bound scheduled for next week.
Asked for details, Jessica tells us: Duty Bound is Volume I in the Shades of Gray Civil War Serial Trilogy. Called the “greatest love story ever told” when it was first released in 2008, the book has been expanded and enhanced in this new three-book series that according to InD’tale Magazine, “stays in the reader’s mind long after the last page is turned.”
I asked Jessica to share with us her inspiration for the series and the book. Here’s her reply:
I often get asked about the inspiration for my novels and the Shades of Gray Trilogy is one that can be traced to a real-life historical figure. The character of Colonel Alexander Hunter came about after I moved to northern Virginia and learned about the legendary—and almost mythical—Confederate cavalry officer John S. Mosby.
It is impossible not to learn about Mosby when you’re traveling in Loudoun County, Va. A sign with the figure of a caped man on horseback welcomes visitors and lets them know they are entering “Mosby’s Confederacy.”
Mosby and his band of recruits caused havoc in the Federal ranks from 1863 to 1865. Like the fictional Colonel Hunter, Mosby grew into a myth, effectively using terror as his weapon of choice and surprise as his watchword. The Yankees believed that Mosby and his band of outlaws appeared and disappeared with the mist; that when they arrived they made no sounds, and when they departed they left no tracks.
And just like Mosby, Colonel Hunter and his men appear “out of nowhere,” and disappear “in the same direction.” This trait gave the real-life Mosby the added distinction of being called “the Gray Ghost of the Confederacy.”
Today, travelers on Route 50 (John Mosby Highway until recently stripped of its name) can still enjoy the beautiful vistas and quaint towns and villages where Mosby and his Rangers once roamed. It is one of the few areas of northern Virginia that has been preserved and retains the historical character of the past—so much so that I was able to visit many of the houses where Mosby and his men once stayed.
Just as John Mosby inspired me, I hope that Duty Bound—and the entire Shades of Gray Trilogy—inspires readers to learn more about the brave men and women who were willing to sacrifice so much for their beliefs and values.
Of course the novel is, above all else, a love story set against the backdrop of war. With a determined, tenacious character like Colonel Hunter, I pondered the question: What if honor and conviction—the very soul of a man—clash with loyalty and love?
Throughout the Shades of Gray Trilogy, the characters are forced to make the difficult choice between following their hearts or standing for their convictions.
Will they choose honor? Loyalty and allegiance?
You’ll have to read the Trilogy to find the answer, but a wise person once said, “There can be no bond stronger than that which unites enemies.”
Duty Bound takes readers across the rolling hills of Virginia in a page-turning tale of love and war, as a Union spy spars with a legendary Confederate cavalry commander. Gallantry and chivalry are put to the test when Colonel Alexander Hunter discovers that Andrea Evans is not only the woman he promised his dying brother he would protect, but is the mysterious spy he has vowed to his men he would destroy.
Jessica James believes in honor, duty, and true love—and that’s what she writes about in her award-winning novels that span the ages from the Revolutionary War to modern day.
She is a four-time winner of the John Esten Cooke Award for Southern Fiction, and has won more than a dozen other literary awards, including a Readers’ Favorite International Book Award and a Gold Medal from the Military Writers Society of America. Her novels have been used in schools and are available in hundreds of libraries including Harvard and the U.S. Naval Academy.