The MacKinnon's Rangers Trilogy:
The MacKinnon's Rangers Trilogy is set during the conflict known in the United States as the French and Indian War — the war made famous by the film Last of the Mohicans, which starred Daniel Day Lewis. The rest of the world knows this conflict as the Seven Year's War. As a writer, I've always been drawn to pre-Revolutionary American history because of the conflict inherent during this time — human beings against a vast, untamed wilderness, European cultures in conflict with each other and with Native inhabitants. Conflict is, after all, what gives rise to good stories.
The trilogy tells the stories of three brothers — Iain, Morgan and Connor MacKinnon — transplanted Highlanders who came to North America as boys when their father was exiled from Scotland. Raised on the frontier, they know several Indian tongues and count themselves kin to the Mahican Indians of Stockbridge. Having learned how to track, fight, and hunt from their Mahican friends, they're at home in the wilderness. And this is where their troubles began...
When war breaks out, Lord William Wentworth, grandson of His Majesty King George II, coerces the brothers into fighting for the Crown not as Redcoats, but as Rangers - men whose style of fighting is modeled more after Indian than European warfare.
My research for this series of novels centered around Major Robert Rogers, who is credited with turning the Ranger Corps into one of the most successful military organizations in American history. These men, hardened by frontier life and capable of feats that would be difficult for modern soldiers to duplicate, were the Special Forces of their day. Rogers created the Rules of Ranging that are still, in updated form, utilized by U.S. Army Rangers, a testament to Major Rogers' genius.
Rogers and his Rangers were stationed at Fort Edward on an island in the middle of the Hudson River south of the doomed Fort William Henry. In my books, Fort Edward and Rogers have been brushed aside and replaced with Fort Elizabeth and MacKinnon's Rangers. Apart from that, I've done my best to be historically accurate to the smallest detail, from the items a Ranger carried in his tumpline pack to the rules that guided him in battle.
I've had the good fortune to visit Fort Edward and Rogers Island and to stand where the real Rangers stood. I've also visited Fort Ticonderoga, called Fort Carillon by the French, where Major Rogers' powder horn, and many other Ranger artifacts, are on exhibit. Walking in their footsteps, and visiting the sites of real battles, has only further fueled my imagination.
Each book in the trilogy tells the story of one MacKinnon brother, with the characters repeating from book to book, including the Rangers themselves, a bunch of hearty Scots and stubborn Irish who've won my heart. As each brother struggles to win and protect the woman he loves, I explore the history of what is arguably the most significant war in American history, a war that has been called "The War the Made America."
I hope you enjoy the stories!
Blakewell/Kenleigh Family Trilogy:
The Blakewell/Kenleigh Family Trilogy represents my first three books, and perhaps for that reason is very dear to my heart. Not as closely tied together as the MacKinnon's Rangers Trilogy, the books nevertheless feature generations of a single family. Set in the 1730s to 1760s, the stories span a period of great change in the American Colonies and the American South, from a time when small to middle-sized farms dominated the landscape to the era of land barons and growing plantations. It's also a period when colonists gradually came to see themselves as Americans, distinct from their English cousins, though English all the same.
The English side of my family arrived in Jamestown in 1610—the second wave of ships to come from England - so writing about this region was a lot of fun for me personally. But it was also fascinating when I was able to stretch northward to Fort Pitt for Ride the Fire, which is set during the siege of Fort Pitt during a summer of deadly violence known as Pontiac's Rebellion. Working with actual soldiers' diaries from that siege, I was able to reconstruct much of the day-to-day struggles of life at Fort Pitt for my hero, Nicholas, and heroine, Bethie, to experience.
Those who've read the "author's cut" of Carnal Gift will notice discrepancies between Carnal Gift and Ride the Fire. The version of Carnal Gift that was first published had a hundred pages cut in order to meet the original publisher's maximum page length. The entire Nicholas plotline was removed from that book. In the midst of writing Ride the Fire at the time, I adjusted Ride the Fire accordingly.
When I got the rights back to Carnal Gift, I decided to self-publish the story as I had written it—a much better version of the story, in my opinion. Only when I sat down to work on edits of the manuscript to Ride the Fire for this reissue did I realize that the version of Carnal Gift that is currently available is now out of sync with Ride the Fire. In Carnal Gift, Nicholas is taken captive after the battle at Fort Necessity in 1754 where Jamie Blakewell, the hero from Carnal Gift, is also present. In Ride the Fire, Jamie isn't present, and Nicholas is taken in 1756. In both stories, Nicholas is captured in the same way and suffers the same torment. Only the timeline and the issue of Jamie's presence is different.
I considered revising Ride the Fire to bring it into alignment with Carnal Gift, but when I considered what that would entail, I realized the best thing I could do is to leave the story intact. I believe readers now have the best versions of both novels. And isn't that what readers truly deserve?
And although there are only three books about this family at this point, I do very much want to expand the trilogy by two to a quintogy. Stay tuned...