The Rogue's Ring
A Treasure Tale Novel #3
by Nancy Lee Badger Genre: Historical Romance
Heading out on his horse, Ghost, into the snowy Highlands of Scotland in January 1817 was not sane, but Bryce Ketteridge would never let down his friends. If a duke, an earl, and a former spy felt finding the owners of nobleman’s rings was important, he would do his share. Coming across masked bandits, and shooting one, turned his life on end. What follows was not in his plans.
The last thing Cat Douglas wished to do was steal coins from the handsome stranger she meets at a tavern. When he later shoots her while she threatened a nobleman’s coach, she suspected he had no idea it was her. Kidnapped boys, pirate threats, and murder propel them to save a boy named Blake. He was, after all, special to them both.
Where is it? Cat murmured, cursing under her breath as she sought the rest of the stranger’s gold coins. The sleeping draft would not last long. Long enough, she prayed, so she could make her way back home before he woke.
When she couldn’t reach into the bulky overcoat and satchel he slept upon, she dug her fingers into his jacket’s inside pocket. Success!
Removing her fingers, three more gold coins appeared. As she slipped them down her bodice, two silver eyes glared up at her.
“What are you doing?” The stranger sat up, grabbed both of her wrists, and pulled her into his lap.
“Why, nothing. Ye fell asleep and I dinna’ wish to wake ye. I worried that ye had stopped breathing, ’tis all. ’Twould never do to have a guest of the inn come to any harm. Are ye well?”
He blinked, then lowered his gaze to the tops of her breasts. She could feel the heat stirring from his attention. Was her flesh growing pink with guilt?
Had he seen her hide the coins? Did he realize how much time had passed since she had offered him drugged wine? He ought to be fast asleep, but he blinked again, then growled.
“Please. I must be on my way home.” If she did not leave now, Devlin might slap her once again, or throw her to his men. His threats had grown worse and more depraved. Her plans to escape his influence required money. The three coins she’d stolen from the Englishman would help her achieve her goal.
He stared back at her face, then released one hand and turned her head sideways. “Did someone hit you?”
His warm fingers gently stroked her scar and the newer bruise she had to assume had turned purple. “Aye. ’Tis a consequence of working in such a place. Many travelers curse the weather yet take out their frustrations on whomever strays close. I shall survive.”
“Like the brute who grabbed you by the hair tonight? You seemed to know him, but a stranger would do worse? You need a protector.”
When she attempted a small smile, he released his hold on her chin. In an instant, his free hand strayed down her bodice and gripped the coins.
“Nay!” she cried, to no avail.
“A thief? Strange, since I believe I compensated you more than enough inside.” He pushed her away.
Stumbling backward, she hit the wall, then returned to his side with her fists defiantly on her hips. She could only glare down at him. She was not leaving without those coins. Her future depended on acquiring the means to live elsewhere and free from her brother’s abuse. Those coins could get her and Blake hundreds of miles from him and his pirate crew.
He staggered to his feet. Surprise filled his handsome face at his loss of equilibrium. He tunneled his fingers through his dark hair. Several strands of silver glimmered at his temples, nearly matching the glaring silver of his eyes. Surprised to face eyes the same color as her son’s, she gasped.
Nancy Lee Badger grew up in Huntington on New York’s Long Island. After attending Plymouth State, in New Hampshire, she earned a Bachelor of Science degree and met and married her college sweetheart. They raised two handsome sons in Rumney, New Hampshire while she dreamed of being a writer. When the children had left the nest, and shoveling snow became a chore, she retired from her satisfying job as a 911 Emergency Medical Dispatcher and moved to North Carolina, where she writes full-time. Nancy is a member of Romance Writers of America, Heart of Carolina Romance Writers, Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal Romance Writers, and the Triangle Association of Freelancers. She finds story ideas in the most unusual places.
What inspired you to write this book?
I love historical romance and decided to try my hand. However, I wanted to add intrigue to give my characters something to accomplish with a time limit. A treasure, found in a barn, was the beginning. The Earl’s Treasure has murder and mayhem, but with enough romance to include a happy ending. Book #2, The Duke’s Diamond, continues the saga and starts with a kidnapping. Again, meeting a feisty Scottish lass turns happy. In this third book, I again throw two complete strangers together, with the added complication of a young boy who wants to be a pirate.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in The Rogue’s Ring?
Bryce is a rogue and a miscreant, or so he tells everyone. He wants to help his friends, and his cousin the duke, find the owners of stolen rings. On the way he hears about a diamond they have been searching for. He shoots a masked robber who turns out to be Cat. He’d met her many years ago, but does not figure that out at first. Enter her nephew, Blake, and her villain of a brother, Devlin. Did I mention the three are pirates and live in a cave on Scotland’s coast?
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
I have always loved the name ‘Bryce’. It is both British and Scottish, which works because his Great-Grandfather was a Scottish laird. I picked ‘Cat’ aka ‘Catriona’ because I needed a name that fit a pirate captain’s sister. I did not actually choose ‘Blake’. Kathy Rothenberger of Ocala, FL won a naming contest. As it is also a Scottish name, it fits the twelve-year-old boy.
How did you come up with the title of the book?
The previous books were titled with the main character and a hint of a treasure hunt. Since I already had written my hero as a fair-thee-well single man (a rogue!) I included the reoccurring theme of searching for rings.
Who designed your book cover?
Me! Mom is so proud that I am using my degree in Art. With the aid of images from The Killion Group and Pixabay, I choose the theme and colors, then create them with Adobe Photoshop.
Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Yes. Publishing does not always happen on schedule. Readers will notice that the book starts on New Year’s Day 1817. Unfortunately, life got in my way which included cataract surgeries and a family member’s hospitalization. I believe that releasing a book needs my entire attention, so delaying a January release until May 12th was a choice I had to make. Since it is also Mother’s Day weekend, why not?
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
I crafted and released the first book in my Treasure Tales series in December 2020, in the middle of the covid pandemic. I spent the summer and fall at home since the New Hampshire Highland Games, where I volunteer, had been canceled. Make lemonade out of lemons, is my motto. The first book morphed into a second and then the third because the ideas flowed and the characters shouted to be heard.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a word, unless someone tells me I made a spelling error. My eyes are better after cataract surgery, but I am not infallible.
If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I will date myself here but Harrison Ford would do well opposite Meryl Streep.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
The relationship between my hero, Bryce, and his horse, Ghost, is deeply gratifying to me. I grew up loving horses and Ghost is a star in my book. When not kicking grooms senseless, the animal is rescuing kidnapped boys. When one of the boys is stolen from a village, my hero tells him to speak a Gaelic phrase to his horse in order to ride him to safety.
Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
I volunteer with family members at the New Hampshire Highland Games. Traveling by car from our current home in Raleigh, North Carolina gives me ample opportunities to watch people. At the games, hundreds are dressed in kilts or pretty Highland dresses. Even eating meat pies and watching sheepdog trials gave me great ideas.
Convince us why you feel your book is a must read.
Do you love romance? Do pirates and what events occur in their cave on Scotland’s coast stir you to want to know more? What about a long ago love affair? Do you love children that tent to get into trouble? What about treasure hunts? This book is a full-length story with enough backstory to be read as a stand-alone.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Scottish shortbread cookies!
What can we expect from you in the future?
I am toying with the idea of writing a non-fiction book with hints and tips for writing and getting published, including problems and their solutions. I have written tons of articles in the past, and want to update them and put them in a book.
Tell us something really interesting that's happened to you!
I met a man in college, whose blue eyes and long blond hair turned my life around. When I met his folks and his father explained their Scottish ancestry, I thought for sure this was great. Little did I know that we would discover his adopted mother’s biological parents…whose ancestors go all the way back to the Mayflower. That affects my children, too.
Where were you born/grew up at?
I was born in the Winoka Village Apartments in Huntington Station, New York. My parents bought a house when I turned five near the north shore of Long Island. We three girls and the neighbor kids daily walked to and swam at the beach five months of the year (when kids could walk there by themselves).
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Businesslike, compassionate, trustworthy, animal-lover, mother
Do you have a favorite movie?
I wanted to say Star Wars at first, but the DVD I watch every couple of months is the A&E version of Pride and Prejudice. The one starring hunky Colin Firth. Six hours long with and lots of romance. Makes me want to return to writing my own stories.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
I love horses, but they are not easy to raise. A neighbor had horses while I grew up, but we always had cats. I once owned four cats. My old cat, the cat belonging to my son who went off to college, the one belonging to the son who joined the army, and the one my mother-in-law left behind.
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
My favorite novel, that is also available as an audio book, is My Honorable Highlander. It is a historical wrapped in a time-travel romance and I enjoy going back and reading or listening to it again.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I spent a good portion of my life dreaming while working in a hardware store and raising two boys. After volunteering with a fire department and becoming a 911 emergency medical dispatcher, I dreamt of writing a book. A couple of years later at the ripe old age of 57, I finally sold one.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I am a Scorpio. Okay, not quirky enough? Well, I was born on a Friday. It was also the 13th. I love black cats, but I stay clear of ladders.
What are you passionate about these days?
I recently had my eyes fixed. Cataracts were interfering with the things I love…reading and writing. For over six weeks, I could do neither. I am in Heaven, now.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Read. I try to get all my work done first, I really do. Sometimes, I read in the early mornings, when the sun is just coming up behind the trees. Late in the evening is relaxing.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always been a writer. I wrote short stories in middle school and high school, as well as poetry in college. It wasn’t until my youngest boy was in high school that I sat down and tried to write toward publication.
What book do you think everyone should read? Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens came out in the summer of 2018. The subject matter and the writing style made me feel I was in the bayou. I have not seen the movie yet. I am not sure a two-hour movie can compete with the book, but I want to refresh myself with it.
How long have you been writing?
If you mean writing with thoughts of being published, I would say since 2008. I finished a couple of novels while tryin to sell one, which happened in October 2009. The book was released June 2010 and I have published 49 or 50 novellas and full-length novels.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
Some shout in my ear to be created, while others walk into my head like they are strolling through the park. Naming them takes longer. If I am writing a novel based in Scotland, I search for names with a Scottish history.
What kind of research do you do before you begin writing a book?
I volunteer at and attend various Highland games. People converge on a field filled with colorful clan tents. Watching athletic games, marching bands, and listening to bagpipes gives me plenty to work from, not to mention sampling the haggis, meat pies, and shortbread.
Do you see writing as a career?
I retired from a satisfying career as a 911 emergency medical dispatcher for the State of New Hampshire. After various jobs over thirty years, we decided to move to Raleigh, NC to be closer to family. It took a couple of years, but I sold my first book and am still writing.
Do you prefer to write in silence or with noise? Why?
I need music or the television running. I am not used to quiet. I have a cat who adds to the noise, especially when he gets hungry.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
One, but I keep writing blog posts since I am usually promoting my last book. It’s a never-ending cycle.
Do you have any advice to offer for new authors?
Sit down and write that book! You cannot edit a blank page.
Do you see writing as a career?
Writing started out as a career. At my age, my writing has now morphed into a hobby. I still work to create a book that is entertaining and not filled with spelling errors.
What do you think about the current publishing market?
Much has changed. Soon after a publisher released my first book, self-publishing started up. I tried writing and publishing a novella by myself, and it did quite well. The problem is, anyone can self-publish. Horribly written books that have flooded the markets. Getting readers to try-even, find- my books gets harder every year.
Pen or type writer or computer?
When I started out, a laptop was not allowed at work. On the night shift at 911, I had hours of down-time, but I was allowed to write by using a legal-size yellow pad and a pen. When I got home, I would retype my pages onto my laptop.
A day in the life of the author?
Coffee, check the calendar, cook breakfast for hubby and me, read emails, check on mom via text, chai tea, and write. On certain days, I might do promotions or catch up on volunteer work. I am also a
member of various writing groups. Keeping track of upcoming meetings, now that they are not all on zoom, is important.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from other genders?
What is weird is that I am more comfortable writing in a male character’s point-of-view than a female. Not sure why, but it could be because I have raised two sons or was a member of a male-dominated volunteer fire department.
What makes a good story?
Characters that are interesting, a plot that keeps you enthralled, and a time crunch that keeps the characters on their toes. A nasty villain or a cute animal helps. By the end, the story should come to a satisfying conclusion with a happy ending.