My Next Hero

Thank you for dropping by. I hope that last week you met Linda Ford's lonely cowboy hero, Blue Lyons. If you missed him, you can catch up at He will be appearing in one of Linda's Love Inspired historicals. And special thanks to Debora Dale ( who organized this blog tour.

Allow me to introduce the hero of Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey, Lucien Chambertin, the dashing young Frenchman who accompanies the Tremaine party as they travel from Constantinople to Mosul in 1861.

Lucien has ridden out from Mosul and stops to rest beside the Tigris River, not far from the ruins of Nineveh where he has been spending his time. He almost blends into the landscape in his tan jacket and trousers. Leaning against a palm tree, he slaps his broad-brimmed hat against his thigh to rid it of the sand that blows everywhere. Then he turns to me with a grin that makes his long, narrow face look boyish. “The sand, the dust—they try to bury all of us, no?” He hands me a canteen. “Come, sit in the shade and tell me what brings you here.”

I take a sip of the water while I try to decide how to begin this interview. He seems every bit as confident as one would expect an adventurer to be, so I plunge right in. “What is your greatest fear?”

He looks startled. “Fear? You think me afraid?”

I say nothing. People will often answer questions, even uncomfortable questions, if I just wait.

He grows pensive. “But there is always something, no? For everyone, there is something that they fear. For me? For me it is La Boulaye. I fear La Boulaye.” The corner of his mouth lifts in a half smile. “It is not a man or a monster. It is only a place. It is bizarre, is it not? Here I am, a grown man for all my relatives call me a boy, and I fear a chateau. But that is not truly as foolish as it sounds. All my life, I saw my grandfather devote his every thought, his every sou, to restoring the glory of La Boulaye. But the glory he devoted his life to was the glory of a vanished world, the world before the French Revolution. He demanded that my father join him in this lunacy, and now he demands that I do the same. I will not do it. I will not be enslaved by his madness, by his insane dedication to the past.”

Suddenly he drops his seriousness, or hides it behind an insouciant smile. “Instead, I have escaped. I travel. I go to explore all the distant places of the earth with their exotic names. Samarkand, the Gates of Jade. They have magic, these names, no?”

I ask, “Do you speak to anyone of this?”

“Not often, but…” He hesitates and then he shrugs. “I speak of it to Emily, Lady Emily, you know? We have become friends, copains. She is not like other women. She is not foolish, always fussing about nothing. She is interesting, she listens, she understands. I do not know her long, but…” He hesitates again. “It is bizarre, is it not, that a stranger can become so quickly the friend who understands you?”

“You seem to have fled from your grandfather”—his head snaps around and he scowls at my choice of words—“but is there anyone who has made a positive difference in your life?”

“The good example, you mean? The virtuous little boy who always does what he is told, who never makes difficulties for others?” The words are accompanied by a sneer.

I do not answer, but look steadily at him.

He turns away with a sigh. “No, I know that is not what you mean. Someone I admire? Someone I can look up to? It will sound strange, but Emily’s father, Lord Penworth. He is an important nobleman, more important, without doubt, than my grandfather, but that is not what he thinks about all the time. He is not always thinking, ‘That one there did not bow quickly enough’ or 'This one is impertinent.’ Instead, he seems to think of his obligations to those who serve him. It is as if he has more responsibilities than rights. I have not known someone like this before, and it gives me to think. Is it that I have been selfish in my thinking? Lord Penworth, he makes me a bit uncomfortable, I fear.”

I smile to myself. Lucien is growing up. But I have a few more questions. “Where do you go when you need time to yourself?”

“Time to myself?” He throws back his head and laughs. “But that is absurd. I have time to myself always. Do you not see? All these places I visit—everywhere I am a stranger, so always I am by myself. I have nothing but time to myself.”

“Have you any secret you believe you must keep?”

He raises his brows at me. “If I have a secret—and I say if—I should keep it, should I not?”

I wait, knowing he will answer eventually.

He shrugs. “Not so much a secret as something I do not mention. My name is really Lucien de Chambertin, and my

 grandfather, he is the comte de la Boulaye. In France, they are meaningless now, these titles, but many still prize them.” That disarming grin appears on his face again. “My friend David, he suspects something of this. He says I have a certain assurance, even arrogance.”

I smile too, for I suspect his friend is right. “A final question. If you could have one thing, what would it be?”

A bit downriver from us, a group of boys are playing some game that involves a ball and a great deal of shouting and laughter. Lucien has turned to watch them, and we stand there watching them for a long time. “A home,” he says finally. “A home where children, my children, laugh and play. A home filled with laughter.” He unties his horse, vaults into the saddle and rides away.

I hope he finds what he is searching for.


Thank you for stopping by to make Lucien’s acquaintance. The story of his adventures and his romance with Lady Emily,  Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey, is being published by Sourcebooks and will be released this summer on August 4. It’s the second book in my Victorian Adventures series, and is available for preorder from Amazon.

Next week, please join Patty Blount and meet Dan Ellison, high school senior and former bully. He's the young hero of her powerful YA contemporary, SEND. As for Patty herself, powered by chocolate, she writes technical content by day, and teen fiction by night. She is also the author of Goodness and Light in the Christmas in New York volume.

Addendum: I have to add a footnote. Last week, after I wrote this interview, came the news that the mindless barbarians of ISIS have been deliberately destroying the remains of Nineveh and Nimrod. While I was doing the research for Lady Emily’s Exotic Journey, I read of the joy and excitement of Austen Henry Layard and the other early archaeologists—and of the Arabs who worked with them—when they uncovered these ruins, which had been buried for almost 3000 years. I know few things can match the horrendous cruelty of the beheadings and the burning alive of captives, but still the wanton destruction of these treasures of the past breaks my heart.

The 19th century illustration of the Tigris at Nineveh is from Eon Images


Wow, Lil, this was awesome. I

Wow, Lil, this was awesome. I feel for Lucien and want to see him find that home he's longing for. How interesting (and heartbreaking) that his grandfather has dedicated his life to restoring the Chateau to its former beauty, while, in real time, priceless antiquities are purposely and heartlessly being destroyed. Lucien might think it lunacy to spend such energy restoring something, but I think he'd see yet more lunacy now. Great interview!


When I first read the description, I was expecting Indiana Jones...Then he opened his mouth...and SWOON... That French accent!
I could "listen" to Lucien all day long. This sounds like a great story. Looking forward to reading it!


I love dark, mysterious heroes! They come off as so manly, yet, at heart, they all want love and family :) Excellent post!

Holy Moly

I want to meet him, and gallop off to the next adventure. Yes, I know he's taken, but still. So intriguing and... dusty. Nice interview, Lil!


I always enjoy your clever and engaging blogs, and this one did not disappoint. Can't wait to read Lady Emily's Exotic Journey.


Loved Lucien's voice. Thumbs up on the interview!!!! He sounds like someone I'd like to meet.

Yes, the destruction of those artifacts was unforgivable. Like you said it's not as heinous as the beheadings etc, but those pieces can never be replaced. Such a shame. Stupid, ignorant, short-sighted (and I'm being polite here) people. My choice words were hurled at the TV whenI first saw it.

Lovely blog.

Great excerpt. I am also saddened by the destruction ISIS has wrought on people and historical treasures.

Exotic setting

I love reading books set in exotic places where I've never been (and probably never will in this case, sadly for the state of the world now!) This book is going on my Must-Buy list, and I can't wait to read it!

And the destruction of those sites of ancient civilizations are a true tragedy. So sad that there are such ignorant and barbaric people in the world, who obviously have no idea what they have done.

Lucien Chambertin

So valiant! So lonely! I want to ride with him to see all the wonders of his world. Thank you for such an engaging story. And regarding that mug group of individuals you mention and their wanton destruction; I can only say that evil, by virtue of its very nature, will always destroy itself. (hopefully sooner, rather than later).


You can just send Lucien right over here, Lillian. I'll be waiting. :)

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