Friday, 16 December 2016

The Jacobite Chronicles - Review, Interview, and More ...

I'm delighted to welcome author Julia Brannan back to the blog to announce the release of the fourth book in the Jacobite Chronicles. But first, a round-up of the story so far:

The Mask of Duplicity
Beth’s hopes of a quiet life are dashed when her brother Richard, dissatisfied with his meagre inheritance and desperate for promotion, decides to force her into a marriage for his military gain. And he will stop at nothing to get his way. A chance encounter with a gang of Jacobites led by the Highlander Alex McGregor, seems to be a dangerous but brief interlude in her life, but will have consequences she cannot foresee. Beth is thrown into the glittering social whirl of Georgian high society and struggles to conform. The effeminate but witty socialite Sir Anthony Peters offers to ease her passage into society but she finds herself plunged into a world where nothing is as it seems and everyone hides behind a mask... 

The Mask Revealed
Britain moves ever closer to the 1745 rebellion and the impending attempt to restore the Stuarts to the British throne. With no other options available to her, Beth marries, but the ink on the marriage contract is hardly dry when she makes a shocking discovery. Will she opt for the safe but dreary life her husband wishes her to lead, or will she fight for a life of passion, adventure and excitement, knowing that in doing so, she risks not only her own life, but the lives of those she loves?

The Gathering Storm
The year is 1744, and Prince Charles Edward Stuart is stranded in France, his hopes temporarily frustrated, as the planned French invasion to restore his father to the British throne has had to be abandoned. The prince, frustrated beyond endurance, makes an impulsive decision that will change  the lives of the MacGregor family. Alex MacGregor is in Scotland, introducing his new wife to her new clan. In London, events take an unexpected turn, as a good deed by Beth has repercussions that she could never have envisaged, proving that the past is not easily forgiven or forgotten...

I've read all three of these books, and I have to say that I am eagerly awaiting Episode Four. Beth is an intelligent heroine; high-spirited, but not 'feisty' - her character is more nuanced. If I tell you that it's difficult to review the Jacobite Chronicles without peppering the page with spoilers, then you will get some idea of how intricately plotted these books are. In Sir Anthony, Julia has created a marvellous character who could have easily become a caricature, but doesn't. We are allowed to see inside his world, to see the face behind the clown's make-up, and it endears us to him. In Alex MacGregor, too, Julia gives us a man who has everything to fight for, and much to lose, and yet is so much more than a cardboard cut-out heroic figure. As readers we are permitted to know his thoughts, and this adds context and texture which fleshes out the story and makes us feel that we are not witnessing, but actually going along with him on his journey. Julia has the ability to whisk her readers from scene to scene, country to country, and not leave us feeling breathless. There is an immediacy which allows us to feel that we are not watching, but in the room with these very real people. 

I put some questions to Julia:~

What was the inspiration for the series?

I was inspired to write the series when researching my family history. I came to a dead end with my Gordon ancestors, who appear to have moved to Ireland for a time and then back to Scotland in the 1830s. I found this a little odd, as the part of Ireland they came from was very poor, so they certainly didn’t emigrate for economic reasons. I started to research the period in an attempt to discover why, and then became obsessed with the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745, and the period in general. I’d never realised how fascinating the 18th Century was until then! I initially wrote out a flimsy plot for one short novel, and the series developed from there.

You obviously spend a great deal of time with these characters; do you listen to particular music tracks when you are writing? Or is there any music which is particularly associated with the period in which the books are set?
I don’t listen to music at all when I’m actually at the computer writing. I find it distracting at that time. But when I’m in the research process I immerse myself in the period as much as I can, and so listen to a lot of baroque music; composers such as Handel ( a great favourite of the Hanoverian king) Scarlatti, Vivaldi, Bach, etc when I’m writing about the aristocracy. I listened to Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos several times, because this is the music that Beth is listening to in Chapter 12 of The Mask Revealed when Lord Winter drives her to distraction! If you want to listen to it, here’s a pretty good rendition on YouTube

When preparing to write about the Highlanders, I listen to Scottish folk music of the time, or Celtic folk music in general. Most of the songs I mention, including the ones that the MacGregors listen to and sing along with are real songs of the time (yes, including ‘Piss on the Grass’).

A particularly lovely album of songs about the ’45, is Glenfinnan, Songs of the ’45 by Capercaillie. This is absolutely gorgeous, and includes what has to be one of the most heartrending songs I’ve ever heard, Mo Run Geal Og (My fair young love), which was written by a woman whose husband was killed at Culloden. I can’t find an online version of it by Capercaillie, but here’s an instrumental

As for inspiration in general, an album I listen to regularly is actually by an extremely talented friend of mine, Rob Carroll, and is titled The Celtic Mirror. I particularly love his version of Christy Moore’s, The Fishermen Coneely.

Have you pinpointed a moment in your characters' futures when you, and we the readers, will leave them - in other words, do you know at which point you will end the story?
I have. I’ve always known how the series ends, but I’m now starting to think my readers won’t be happy if I leave my characters at that point in their lives, so I may continue the story past my original ending point. I’ll see how things unfold, and what my readers want.

Tell us about the upcoming instalment?
The Storm Breaks deals with the actual ’45 as it’s called, from the time when Prince Charles Stuart landed in Scotland to the end of the rebellion itself. Books Five and Six will deal with the aftermath of the uprising. I can’t really say any more without giving away the plot!

Thanks Julia - I can't wait to read the Storm Breaks.
Find Julia via the links below, and please come back to the blog in the New Year, when I will be posting more review/interviews, and inviting fellow authors to share their musical inspirations.

Find Julia On Amazon
On Twitter
And Pinterest

The Storm Breaks will be released on 6th January, but is available for pre-order HERE (in the UK) or HERE (in the US)


  1. Quite interesting. I am not as familiar with this period as I perhaps should be. I'm really only familiar with the movies made of the period and have read no extensive histories.

    I'm now beginning to think I should Helen Hollick pointed me in your direction. So you can thank her. LOL

    1. I have much to be grateful to Helen for :)
      Do check out Julia's books, they are great reads. And if you want more Anglo-Saxon stuff, check out my other site at Thanks for stopping by :)