Catherine Gayle's Old Maids' Club is Brimming with Romance

Catherine Gayle
Second Wind Publishing

After selling his major’s commission in the Dragoons, Lord Roman Sullivan wants nothing more than a calm, sedate life in the country where he’s agreed to act as steward over his father’s estate. Society is no place for a man who can’t sleep without fear of attacking an innocent in the night, after all. But upon his arrival, madness lands in his path in the form of a secret-keeping pixie of a lady, a precocious boy, a lady in the throes of dementia, and a band of rabidly loyal servants, who combine to capture both his attention and what’s left of his heart in one fell swoop.

Bethanne Shelton keeps a great many secrets, most of which are not hers to reveal. Keeping them close to her chest is the one sure way to make certain her life remains as normal as possible. Even her family can’t discover the truth, lest Finn be taken away from her. In order to protect him, she ignores the whispers of pariah and worse. But her Aunt Rosaline’s health is rapidly declining, and Roman is the only one able to calm her. He’s getting too close, and if he unveils Bethanne’s mysteries, she’ll lose her family. One thing is certain: no matter what happens, she is bound to lose her heart.

Getting to know Catherine Gayle 

Catherine Gayle has been an avid reader of romance novels (and almost anything else she can legally get her hands on) for as long as she can remember. Her mother might say it started in the womb. When she is not writing or reading, she can often be found buried beneath one of her sleeping cats or chasing the Nephew Monster.

Jillian: The Old Maid series is inspired by an unusual supporting character, Lady Rosaline Shelton. Can you tell us more about her ?
Catherine: Lady Rosaline Shelton was a bluestocking who chose to be an old maid. She believes women are the equals of men. She smoked cheroots, she rode astride, and she carried on illicit affairs with any man she chose, regardless of what the ton thought about it. She loves fiercely and doesn’t care who knows it. And, it just so happens, she is adored by three of her nieces to the point they seek to emulate her. By the time the series begins, however, Lady Rosaline is suffering from dementia. While she doesn’t always remember who her nieces are, they can never forget the woman she has always been.

Jillian: I found Lord Roman Shelton to be a very intriguing character. A troubled soldier and misunderstood gentleman, what a great combination! I'd love to know more about how you came to invent your hero.
Catherine: When I started working on my plans for this series, everything revolved around my heroines. I knew that Bethanne would be struggling with the care of her aunt. Her hero had to be a man who could not only assist in that care, but who could really relate to Lady Rosaline in a way that no one else could. I couldn’t give him dementia—that wouldn’t work for a hero!—but I felt it was important for him to have some similarities to the lady. After a good deal of research into mental disorders, I settled upon what would in modern terms be considered PTSD: post-traumatic stress disorder. From there, his history fell into place, having served in the Napoleonic wars and not feeling like he could live a normal society life upon his return because of the horrors he’d seen, which continued to haunt him. I was actually a little surprised, as I wrote, by the bond that grew between Roman and Lady Rosaline. I knew it would be there, but it had far more facets than I expected.

Jillian: Your approach to historical romance is an interesting melange, especially some of the hardship and real life issues. For instance, your heroine is an unmarried woman with a child. Dickens and Catherine Cookson come to mind in the Victorian period. Tell us more about why this kind of love story inspires you.
Catherine: Life happens, and there’s not much we can do to stop it. I can’t stand a perfect story with perfect characters where everything perfectly falls into place—it doesn’t feel real to me, because it has not been my reality. While I love the backdrop afforded by the Regency era, where the heroes and heroines are wealthy and seem to have all the best life has to offer at all times, I think it is too easy at times for authors to ignore the darker side of life.

At every point in history, people have been subjected to hardships, violence, disease, addictions, sexual abuse, and so much more. Life isn’t pretty and perfect all the time, but that doesn’t mean something beautiful can’t come from the ugliness. In my own life, I’ve seen far more of the darker side of things than I’d care to see, but it hasn’t diminished my belief that life is what you make of it. You can always take the hardships you’ve experienced and turn them into a source of strength. That’s what I try to find within myself, and it is something I try to extend to my characters.

Jillian: What is more difficult to write: an intense sexual scene or a heart-wrenching emotional scene? Why?
Catherine: Far and away, the heart-wrenching emotional scenes are harder for me to write. When I really get them right, it comes from a place that is deep within me, and it is like pulling a piece of my soul out and slapping it on the page. Even if I haven’t been through the exact situation the characters are experiencing, I still pull the emotions from my own life. In a way, writing those scenes is like reliving some of the best and worst moments I’ve been through. Intense sexual scenes tend to fly from my fingers, on the other hand. (But both leave me drained afterwards!)

Jillian: Is SHELVED released yet? If so, please share a brief blurb and cover art please!

Catherine: SHELVED will be released in late fall, 2012 or early winter, 2013. At this point, I don’t have an exact release date.

Blurb: Miss Josephine Faulkner refuses to come in second to anyone—not even to a husband. Oh, sure, Duncan Ramsey, the Earl of Leith, has been owner of her heart since she was a girl, chasing after him and her older brother when they tried to leave her behind. And while it is true she once gave herself to Duncan completely, when she was only offered marriage in return (and therefore, second class status within the relationship), she told him in no uncertain terms where he could put his blasted chivalry. Now he needs an heir to prevent his ne’er-do-well cousin from one day inheriting his father’s marquessate, but having sulked over the mistakes he’s made with Jo for over a decade, he can’t imagine anyone else being suited for the job. Somehow he must convince her that a life at his side will be more worthwhile than a life of stubborn independence.

Jillian: Are there more books in The Old Maid Series or are you moving on to something new? What's next from Catherine Gayle?
Catherine: SHELVED will be the final installment of the Old Maids’ Club series. I’m also working on another novella for an anthology releasing this fall, A SEASON TO REMEMBER, with Ava Stone, Jerrica Knight-Catania, and Jane Charles. These novellas are connected to the ones we wrote for the SUMMONS anthologies, and for THE BETTING SEASON. I’m also working on a new series set in the Regency in which I’ll take a bit of a darker path than I’ve traveled before, dealing with suicide, murder, kidnapping…all sorts of good things. LOL. I can’t reveal any more about that series at this point in time, but I hope I’ll be able to do so someday in the not too distant future. Also, I’ve got other additions to my Lord Rotheby’s Influence series in the works.

Quick Questions, Quick Answers:

Jillian: What’s the first thing you do when you finish writing a book?
Catherine: Tweet about it. I’m addicted to Twitter. It’s a sickness.

Jillian: Coffee or Tea? And how do you take it?
Catherine: Coffee. Every day. I can’t get through the day without at least two cups, with creamer and sweetener. I drink iced tea most days, too, but the coffee is a necessity.

Jillian: What's your favorite fairy tale?
Catherine: You can’t go wrong with Cinderella.

Jillian: What's the first book you remember reading?
Catherine: Green Eggs and Ham, and it is still one of my favorite books to read.

Jillian: What reality TV show are you watching right now?
Catherine: I’m watching the new seasons of both So You Think You Can Dance and Food Network Star. Believe it or not, I took the spring off from reality TV. I’m still shocked that I survived it.

Commenters: Have you ever loved someone suffering from mental illness? I’ll send an autographed copy of Wallflower, the first book in the Old Maids’ Club series, to each of two commenters. Sorry, but I can only send to U.S. mailing addresses. (I would offer copies of Pariah, but my publisher hasn’t finished putting it in print yet!)

Catherine Gayle's Contact and Purchase links:

***Note: Offer void where prohibited. Prizes will be mailed to North America  addresses only. If an Advanced Reading Copy (ARC) is available, the author may utilize that option for International participants. Odds of winning vary due to the number of entrants.


  1. Welcome to GLIAS, Catherine.
    Loved the book blurb! Sounds like a very intriguing story!

    Best of luck with the series.

  2. Great to have you on GLIAS today, Catherine!

    I've been saving this for comments today, but one of the upcoming Scotland Yard Detectives suffers from PTSD (which was called Soldier's Heart then) from his service in Afghanistan. (!) I really enjoyed writing him, how about you?

    1. Thanks, Jill! I had no idea that men from Scotland Yard served in Afghanistan back then. Fascinating! Yes, I really enjoyed writing Roman. He seemed to never know what to expect from himself because of the PTSD, and so he was very afraid to be around other people. Yet at the same time, he is such an honorable man that he couldn't seem to stop himself from helping where he was needed. It made for some great internal conflict, which is always a treat to write.

    2. Phineas Gunn's PTSD comes and goes, depending on if he's on assignment or not. Certain situations, though, like closed in spaces can cause a full on attack of nerves.

      As for AFGHANISTAN: What is the old adage? Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it? Even though the Brits ruled over India and Burma, they couldn't conquer the Afghans. Suffered horrendous losses before they gave up. Way too much trouble.

    3. I'll have to look up some history on the Brits in Afghanistan. Sounds intriguing. They truly did have a huge empire for so many years, so it shouldn't surprise me all that much to learn of another place they fought. For whatever reason, this one did, though.

    4. If we didn't write seventy years apart we could share research, Boohoo! ;)

  3. Hi Catherine,

    I also watch So You Think You Can Dance and Food Network Star. I like the teams this year with Alton, Bobby and Giada. Justin is my favorite. He is quirky and original. My Mother has Dementia and I do love her.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Tammy. I'm a sucker for quirky characters, both in fiction and real life. Alton's team (all of them!) are right up my alley. I can't remember her name, but the retro-fifties chick is a hoot. All the best to you and your mother. It's never easy seeing someone you love suffer something as devastating as dementia. It takes a very special person to see to their care.

  4. Nice interview. The books sound good. No, I haven't.


    1. Hi, bn100. Thanks for stopping by! Count yourself as very fortunate that you've never been in that position. I sincerely hope that you can live your life without ever seeing someone you love suffer from mental illness.

  5. Diane P. DiamondJune 12, 2012 at 6:04 PM

    I loved my darling Auntie Ada who suffered with Dementia during the last two years of her life. It was very upsetting to visit her when I went home to England for a holiday, especially when she asked who my sister and I were. It broke my heart to see her like this, as she was always such a wonderful, happy and lively person. We were very fortunate to have her live to age 97.

    I haven't read any of your Old Maid's club novels Catherine, so this would be a great opportunity for me.

    dpd333 9at) aol dot com

    1. Diane P. DiamondJune 12, 2012 at 6:05 PM

      dpd333 (at) aol dot com - Sorry

    2. I've been very fortunate to not see someone I love suffer from dementia, Diane (though there have been countless other mental illnesses in my family.) It sounds like your Auntie Ada lived a very full life. I'm glad she had you to be a part of it with her. :)

    3. Diane P. DiamondJune 12, 2012 at 6:48 PM

      Thank you Catherine. She did live a full life, and right upto the end, maintained her very sweet tooth and enjoyed lots of sweets. Bless her....

  6. Congratulations to Tammy Yenalavitch and Diane P. Diamond. You've both won copies of Wallflower!