Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

Masthead header


by:  Blythe Gifford –

The Hero Journeys with a Cast of Thousands

My first five historical romances featured characters who were only children and had the bare minimum of on-stage parents or siblings. Since my books are set in the medieval period, this took more explanation than you might think.

I made them orphans. Or bastards who were abandoned by parents they never knew. Or with siblings who stayed safely off-stage. Yes, there was the occasional sister or mother and those characters were important, but my primary characters, like the central figures of so many fairy tales, traveled the Hero’s Journey alone.

Most of us don’t.

Most of us have family we deal with on a daily basis.  And like it or not, those family members influence our romantic relationships, for good or ill.

When I started The Brunson Clan trilogy, only children were not an option.  Family was a key theme of the series and, because of the overall storyline and timetable,
I would have to deal with all three Brunson siblings, two brothers and a sister, in every book.

Not only with them, but in each book, I had to add the romantic partner brought into the story in the previous book. Strictly speaking, not a cast of “thousands,” I
realize, but a vastly more complex ecosphere than I usually juggled.

So by the time I wrote the final book of the trilogy, TAKEN BY THE BORDER REBEL, a March release from Harlequin Historical,Rob Brunson’s prospective partner had to be vetted by Rob’s brother (and his wife), from RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, and Rob’s sister (and her husband), from CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD. Four important people would weigh in on Stella Storwick, who just happened to be a daughter of their blood enemies, which meant the immediate answer was “no.”

Instead of being the nightmare I had feared, this provided an extra layer of tension and conflict without taking away from the hero and heroine. As the head of the clan, the ramifications of Black Rob’s choice went far beyond the personal, and the story reflected that through the very personal reactions of his brother and sister and in-laws.
And anyone who ever made the awful “meet the family” trip can sympathize with what Stella Storwick had to face.

So, in a way I had not planned when I started the series, the last book ended with the conclusion of a family journey, as well as a romantic one.

How about you? Have you stories about bringing a prospective suitor home to meet the family? I’m offering your choice of a book from the Brunson Clan trilogy to one lucky commenter.  US and Canadian mailing only, please!



As leader of his clan, Black Rob Brunson has earned every dark syllable of his name. But, having taken hostage his enemy’s daughter in a fierce act of rebellion, he is tormented by feelings of guilt and torn apart with the growing need to protect her—and seduce her!  Stella Storwick feels Rob’s disdain from the first. Then slowly she starts to see behind his eyes to a man in turmoil. Something he has no words for, something that can only be captured in a heart-wrenching kiss….

Blythe Gifford has been known for medieval romances featuring characters born on the wrong side of the royal blanket.   Now, she’s written a Harlequin Historical trilogy set on the turbulent Scottish Borders of the early Tudor era.  The books are RETURN OF THE BORDER WARRIOR, November 2012, CAPTIVE OF THE BORDER LORD, 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.”    (You can order on Amazon)

Visit her at, or on Twitter @BlytheGifford.

Author photo by Jennifer Girard.   Cover Art Copyright © 2013 by Harlequin Enterprises Limited.   Permission to reproduce text granted by Harlequin Books S.A. Cover art used by arrangement with Harlequin Enterprises Limited. All rights reserved. ® and ™ are trademarks owned by Harlequin Enterprises Limited or its affiliated companies, used under license.

Laura Russell - February 27, 2013 - 2:19 am

Hi Blythe,
I enjoyed your comments about heroines and heroes with few complicating family members – orphaned onlies! About your question, I don’t have a good story. I didn’t bring too many suitors home. And my dad rarely reacted to current boyfriends, keeping what he thought close to the vest, just in case someone re-appeared. Your trilogy wraps up beautifully.

Mary Preston - February 27, 2013 - 3:03 am

A tough journey through life alone.

I only ever took one person home – never again!!


Sandy Elzie - February 27, 2013 - 7:08 am

Hi Blythe,
Well, before my story…I wanted you to know that my maiden name is Brunson. There are three generations of Doyle McGregor Brunson (Sr, Jr. III) in the family. They were originally from England where they owned the Brunson castle, etc. My aunt did a whole family search & it was quite interesting.

Having said this, I want you to know that I’ll be reading all the books and I’ll report back to you. :-)

I had to let Dad meet the guys since it was required that they come to the door to pick me up for a date. And, since I got married at barely 18, I was never out on my own before marriage. Dad was kind…but direct with his questions about where we were going/doing/ etc. Makes me shudder to remember.

Maxine - February 27, 2013 - 7:17 am

Blythe, Really enjoyed your post and welcome to the PFHT. Yes, in one of my books, hero takes heroine home. He doesn’t want to go for the visit, but natually they love her and she thinks his family is wonderful… I can’t wait to start reading your books. They are my favorite setting.

Marilyn Baron - February 27, 2013 - 7:39 am

Thanks for blogging with us. I really enjoyed reading about your series. It sounds great. About bringing a prospective suitor home. In real life, growing up I lived in a house with a gate and no fence. My father cut down the hedges that used to double as a fence. So, just a gate. If a guy walked up to the gate, opened it and walked to the door, he was okay in my father’s eyes. BUT, if he cheated and walked around the gate, and onto the walkway, he was doomed.

In my historical, “Under the Moon Gate,” a romantic thriller set in Bermuda in WW II, coming soon from The Wild Rose Press, the heroine Diana falls for William, a German sleeper agent and has to bring him home to meet her protective father, a British Vice Admiral, stationed in Bermuda during the war.

Sia Huff - February 27, 2013 - 5:44 pm

Your Scottish Boardland series sounds wonderful, especially your lastest one. Quite a bit of conflict and tension all around.
My first date with my future hubby, he picked me up at my parents house. My Mom jokingly told him, he could marry into the our family, as we have seven John’s in the family already and his name is John. He liked to tease her about it later.
Wishing you continued success.

Debbie Kaufman - February 27, 2013 - 6:15 pm

Welcome, Blythe! I thoroughly enjoy reading about big, involved families. Must come from being raised as an only child. My books have also had only children or deceased siblings. One of these days I’ll stretch myself and write a family arc :) I’ve put your Scottish Border series on my TBR!

Connie Gillam - February 27, 2013 - 6:20 pm


I’ve not had the complications of a multi book series, so I admire you before I’ve even start your series.

My books are contemporary, and I haven’t had a situation where the family must approve a prospective bride or groom. I’m grateful my parents didn’t have a same in who I’d married. I shudder at the thought.

Blythe Gifford - February 27, 2013 - 7:35 pm

Hello all! Sorry to be so late, but I’ve been on the road today. Thanks for your welcome and your stories. One thing I have certainly discovered in writing this series is that everyone has a store of family stories and most people love sharing them. It’s such fun to read yours.

Carol Burnside / Annie Rayburn - February 27, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Blythe, I’ve been traveling today as well, so am just now getting a chance to comment. I can’t remember much about bringing guys home – not sure my memory stretches back that far. LOL! Actually, the one that sticks in my memory is bringing my ex-fiance back into the picture (the guy who’s now my hubby of 30+ years) and my Mom telling me I didn’t need to get involved with him again. She was totally against us getting back together. Just goes to show you mom’s don’t always know best.

Marcy Shuler - February 27, 2013 - 9:27 pm

Hi Blythe,
My parents had both passed away before they got to meet my now-hubby, but he took me home to meet his parents. Only he told them he was bringing someone home from work, not that it was a woman. LOL He’d been teasing me for days and I was so nervous. I was behind him entering the house and after he said hi to his mom he stepped aside and I was revealed. Well, her mouth dropped open and silence reigned. I didn’t know what to do so I just hugged her. That sure broke the ice. She called for her hubby and then we all sat down to chat.

Come to find out that my FIL went to high school with my mother. My hubby and I were raised hundreds of miles apart but ended up working together on the opposite side of the state. I have great in-laws, too. :-)

bn100 - February 27, 2013 - 10:24 pm

No stories to share. Thanks for sharing.

Anna Doll - February 27, 2013 - 11:02 pm

Blythe, enjoyed reading about your stories. I love historical a and can’t wait to start yours! I always brought dates to meet my father, it was a requirement! He scared many away with his scowl and rough voice, but he was a sweetheart (and 4 daughters!)

Sandy Elzie - February 28, 2013 - 6:34 am

OMGosh, Anna, with four daughters…plus a wife….no wonder the pool man was scowling….or appeared to b. :laugh:

Sandy Elzie - February 28, 2013 - 6:36 am

Our winner today of a copy (of your choice) of Blythe’s Brunson series books is MARCY SHULER! Congrats March!

BJ-friend of Sandra's - February 28, 2013 - 9:59 pm

….per your statement, “Shuttering”, you should have been in my shoes………………

F O L L O W   U S
R E C E N T   T W E E T S