Not Your Regular Romance Hero: MY LORD JACK


What do a virgin, a vegetarian, and a hangman have in common?

MY LORD JACK, Carina Press, ISBN: 978-1-426-89041-3

Absolutely nothing unless you’re talking about Jack Campbell, the hero of MY LORD JACK, my Scottish-set historical reissue with Carina Press.

“Her hero’s a hangman!” author Patricia Potter exclaimed back in 2002 when she was asked by my then editor at Berkley to blurb the book.

Pat went on to read MY LORD JACK, and I’m happy to report that ultimately she decided “Jack will steal your heart.”


In the spirit of literary risk taking, or why parasail when you can skydive, I made my heroine, Claudia Valemont a former courtesan. And French. Conventional wisdom, at least back in 2002 was, “France doesn’t sell.” And romance heroines were supposed to be virgins with  the occasional widow sprinkled in. A lot of times the widows were virgins, too. Go figure.

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, the times, they are a-changing. Today I can publish, or rather republish, my virgin-vegetarian-hangman hero meets French-former hooker heroine without anyone so much as blinking. How cool is that?

In MY LORD JACK, Claudia Valemont has fled Revolutionary France where she’s witnessed the guillotining of both her mother and protector. (FYI, the protector isn’t much of a loss). She’s en route to Edinburgh to find her Scottish father—actually she’s only half-French, so maybe that makes it better—when the mail coach in which she’s traveling breaks a wheel. With no money left, stealing a horse from the inn yard seems like a solid plan—until she gets caught.

At her trial, she realizes the handsome red-haired hunk with whom she’d shamelessly flirted at the inn is the local hangman. Fortunately her sentence is six months’ hard labor, not death (which would have been entirely legal at the time, a horse being worth a lot more than the paltry death penalty minimum of six shillings under The British “Bloody Code.”). Remanded to Jack’s custody, living with him in his isolated cottage, Claudia fights against falling in love. Jack is an executioner, a borreau, and yet he is also the same gentle soul who takes in injured animals, rescues a child’s kite from the branches of a tree, and reads poetry by the evening fire’s light.

I could go on, but I’d much rather you stop by my web site where you can read an excerpt and visit my blog. Per the blog, between now and August 15th, post a note mentioning you found me on the Carina Press web site and be entered to win an autographed copy of BOUND TO PLEASE, my Harlequin Historical Blaze also set in Scotland. This blog-driven contest will be in addition to my regular monthly contest, so while you’re there why not enter both?

Hope Tarr is the award-winning author of thirteen historical and contemporary romance novels, including THE TUTOR (Harlequin Blaze, July 1, 2010). Look for A ROGUE’S PLEASURE, her next Carina Press historical romance release, starting August 16th. Visit her online at and find her on Facebook and Twitter.

25 thoughts on “Not Your Regular Romance Hero: MY LORD JACK”

  1. Hope Tarr says:

    Good Morning! Thanks in advance for reading my blog post on “Jack.” I’ll be checking in throughout the day, so please don’t be shy. Even if you don’t have a question, a “hi” or like cyber waive enters you top win a copy of my back list Harlequin Blaze, BOUND TO PLEASE.

  2. Lisbeth Eng says:

    MY LORD JACK sounds wonderful and intriguing! I love heroes (and heroines) who don’t fit the expected mold. A virgin-vegetarian-hangman hero must be a first!
    Best of luck with the book.
    P.S. I know this is probably a silly question, but any chance it will come out in paperback?

  3. Jack sounds wonderful! He’ll be going on my iPad that’s for sure.

  4. Maria Ferrer says:

    I can’t wait to “meet” Lord Jack. I love romances with great twists. And what is wrong with courtesans?! Not all of us want to be Princesses. A rich independent courtesan with lots of friends would not be bad. :-)

  5. Beatriz says:

    There’s no hero like a red-haired Scottish hero, especially when also virginal, vegetarian and poetic. Unless he expects me to give up meat too. That would be wrong. So wrong.

  6. Clare London says:

    What a great idea and employment for a hero – very unusual and fascinating! I know *I’m* intrigued…
    Good luck with the book :).

  7. Nora Weston says:

    Hi! Congrats on MY LORD JACK getting a second life. :) It certainly caught my interest! Good luck with its release.

  8. Hope Tarr says:

    Hi Lisbeth,

    Thank you for your kind comments and not a silly question at all. Carina Books “may” come out as print editions down the road. Nothing definite yet but with these wonderful folks, and the enthusiastic response from readers, anything is possible.

  9. Hope Tarr says:

    Thanks, Maria. I agree, being a courtesan back in Georgian times could have been a pretty good gig, better than being a wife in a lot of cases. ;)

  10. Hope Tarr says:

    Thanks, Nora. I hope you enjoy it.

  11. Hope Tarr says:

    Hi Beatriz,

    LOL and for the most part, Jack is pretty laid back about the dietary stuffs. You just can’t kill his critters, not even his cottage mouse.

  12. Hope Tarr says:

    Thanks, Clare. For sure I learned a lot about executions, namely how to hang someone properly. Fascinating book, MY LORD HIGH EXECUTIONER. I’m out of town now so I can’t pluck it off my shelf but if you’re interested, ping me and I’ll send you the ref later this week.

  13. Hope Tarr says:

    By way of a trivia tidbit, anyone know where the expression, “Toe the line” comes from? I’ll pony up a second copy of BOUND TO PLEASE to the first correct respondent–or good enough guesser. ;)

  14. You had me at vegetarian executioner, Hope.

  15. Carolyn Gibbs says:

    Hi Hope,
    Congrats on the release of My Lord Jack. I love that Jack won’t hurt animals but makes a living hanging people. Sounds like a great story. I’m sorry I missed Lady Jane’s this month – I picked up The Tutor – it’s on my to read pile.

  16. Sarah Tormey says:

    What a great opening line! One rarely sees vegetarian hero/heroines in historicals. It sounds great:)

  17. Lise Horton says:

    Sounds like a rollicking good adventure and I have to concur with a prior comment – nothing better than a great read where the usual and traditional is turned on its head. That’s where the fun comes from! I can’t imagine a better character than your heroine – gutsy, independent and a fighter; and a hero who brings plenty of conflict to the story, thus making the capitulation that much more rousing and sweet! Good luck with this Carina venture and glad to see the story being embraced (again).

  18. Susanna Ives says:

    Likes animals, reads poetry, and has read hair. Let me press the “buy” button right now!

  19. Susanna Ives says:

    that’s red hair. NOT read hair.

  20. Hope Tarr says:

    Lise, you’re so sweet. Thanks for all the nice affirmation. Second chances are great, in life and in books, too!

    Susanna, love the enthusiasm. And of course, press that buy button anytime you want. :)

    OK, so no takers on “toe the line.” None? Ya sure?

    Answer: Hanging someone for the state involved some fairly sophisticated calculations: height and weight, to be sure, but also body mass e.g., big, husky, and all muscle versus big, husky and “squidgy.” It mattered.

    A good executioner–and Jack is very good–would take all those factors into account in calculating The Perfect Drop. He would then draw a line in chalk over the gallows trap. The condemned would be instructed to line his toes up to that line, exactly that line, if he wanted a clean end of it, hence, “Toe the Line!”

    FYI, I’ll be blogging on MY LORD JACK, my next Carina release, A ROGUE’S PLEASURE, and “Crime & Punishment in Scotland and Britain in the Days o’ Yore” at Word Wenches ( on August 18th.

  21. Hope Tarr says:

    Hiya Sarah. I’m glad you like my veggie hero. And from the land of haggis, no less.

    Jack is an herbalist as well as an animal whisperer, so despite his ‘profession,’ it made sense to me that he would be a vegetarian. When the book first came out, a lot of animal welfare groups e.g., The Doris Day Animal League ran spotlights on it in their membership pubs because of that. It was pretty cool.

  22. Hope Tarr says:

    Hiya Sarah:

    I’m glad you like my veggie hero. And from the land of haggis, no less.

    Jack is an herbalist as well as an animal whisperer, so despite his ‘profession,’ it made sense to me that he would be a vegetarian. When the book first came out, a lot of animal welfare groups e.g., The Doris Day Animal League ran spotlights on it in their membership pubs because of that. It was pretty cool.

    Signing off for the night. I’ll be announcing the winner of BOUND TO PLEASE here and on my blog at anon…as in tomorrow. ;)


  23. Clare London says:

    “toe the line”? My husband (who was in the Navy) always told me it was a naval term, from the sailors lining up on board a wooden-decked ship i.e. their toes had to sit behind the line the boards made.

    Anyway, yes, I’d love to hear more about your research into the job. I have Albert Pierrepoint’s biography, just haven’t read it yet. But it’s a fascinating topic. :)

  24. Hope Tarr says:

    Very interesting, Clare. Maybe that’s the term has been kept “alive,” so to speak. ;)

    Per research, again, I’ll be posting tidbits at Word Wenches on August 18th.

  25. Hope Tarr says:

    And the winner is…

    Lise Horton!

    Lise, I’ll be getting a signed copy of BOUND TO PLEASE to you ASAP. Please confirm your snail mail with me at

    Thanks everyone for the lovely comments. This was fun!

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