Character Notes for the Hero and Heroine of A Private Duel with Agent Gunn

A Hero with Soldier’s Heart
A rare glimpse at Finn's smile.

One of the things I get to do as an author is endow my heroes......with personality traits! LOL!  I enjoy giving them quirky mannerisms, expressions, as well as charming lopsided smiles (see above). Every hero has a unique sense of humor–as well as physical traits, like how muscular, how tall, or how long he wears his hair–unkempt mane or neat and well-groomed?

Most importantly, my heroes must have flaws, at the very least, weaknesses. Otherwise, these Gentlemen of Scotland Yard are just not interesting enough, not for me anyway. Beyond the demands of the cases they are working on, I want them to overcome, or at least confront, some personal challenges. 

I dug through some of my early character notes on Agent Gunn and thought I would share some of them with blog readers. Enjoy!

Name: Phineas “Finn” Gunn aka Hugh Curzon (uses Curzon working undercover)

Age: 31

Physical Characteristics: Big Scot 6’2” Thick, waves of dark hair, a bit longish, more of a wild mane. Likes to ride, so is often seen in tall boots and a long, great coat. 

Personality Traits: Can be cool, even aloof, but has reasonably good social skills. He does not suffer fools, prefers the company of his brother and few close friends. At one time Finn was a bit of a rake, but has settled in with a mistress. A risk taker in the field, he is always several moves ahead of his enemies. He is also brave to fault, which is how he gets injured.

Education: Trinity College, University of Oxford

Skills: Marksman (with a name like Gunn, he has be) bruising rider, cunning, intelligent–a top notch criminologist. 

Avocation: A talented writer of crime fiction as well as scholarly works in the field of forensic science. When he is feeling well enough, he accepts uncover assignments from both Scotland Yard and the Admiralty.

Hobbies: Fencing lessons twice a week. He also has an interest in gemology, which has grown into a lucrative appraisal business–more of a side business.

Faults: His is an acute recluse at times, due to a pitiable condition called Soldier’s Heart. Finn was stationed in the Northern Territories of India, and fought in Afghanistan during the Second Anglo-Afghan War. On patrol in Afghanistan he and his men were captured and tortured. 

Notes on Soldier’s Heart: Doctors used to call it shell shock, soldier's heart, or nostalgia. Soldiers would shake uncontrollably, experience heart palpitations, or go blind after witnessing trauma on the battlefield. From as far back as ancient Greece, history reveals the psychological toll of war on soldiers. Today we call the condition post-traumatic stress disorder.

The Greek historian Herodotus describes an Athenian warrior who became blind when a soldier standing next to him was killed during the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C.

The condition called Soldier’s Heart was first described by an American civil war surgeon and was thought to be an actual heart malady, likely because of the rapid, erratic pulse.

A Ballerina Heroine.

Or is she also a jewel thief, as well as a clever spy?

When I imagined the heroine for this tale of romance, espionage and adventure I knew I had to make her every bit as intelligent and talented as Agent Gunn. Here are a few of my notes on Cate:

Name: Cate Willoughby aka Catriona de Dovia (stage name)

Age: 24-ish

Physical Characteristics: Statuesque, with a dancers body which means she is strong and flexible. Raven hair, striking blue eyes, and a well-defined cupid’s bow that drives Finn wild.

Personality Traits: When she is angry she goes off in Spanish (a la Ricky Ricardo) Fiercely independent, Cate can be impulsive at times, and though she claims she not an adventurer, she is often daring. She has a bohemian, artistic streak, as well.

Faults: Major trust issues. Somewhat of a loner. She fears getting close to anyone, especially after recently losing her only brother and her dear departed uncle. She has lost every one she has ever loved.

Avocation: Dance, thievery and spying.

Education: Paris Opera Ballet School

Back Story: Born to a British father and Spanish mother, Cate Willoughby is both a proper young English lady, and a hot tempered Catalan beauty. She also happens to be the inheritor of a near bankrupt estate. And as for Miss Catriona de Dovia? She is a celebrated prima ballerina as well as an anarchist sympathizer. Or might she be an infiltrator? Or scheming operative?

I am not a spoiler, but this is what I can say about A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN: I have endeavored to write a love story between two clever protagonists, who have constructed false identities and employ a number of devious and cunning skills to solve the case. One of them even manages to fool the other right up to the very last pages of the novel!

Sh-h-h! I can say no more.

Question for Commenters:

Cover model Paul Marron portrays Agent Gunn. I'm told he is just about the hottest cover model going and has a legion of fans. Do you have a favorite romance cover model? If so, please share him!

I’m giving away a signed copy of A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN to one lucky commenter today.

Purchase links:


Jillian's Contact Information:

***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. I remember in "Band of Brothers" one of the soldiers had a temporary case of blindness after fierce fighting on the battlefield.

    1. Hi Jane,

      Battle fatigue is a fascinating subject, and we are just beginning to figure it out. Agent Gunn sees a doctor on Harley Street who he calls a crackpot phrenologist, but that man has brought him more relief than any of his previous physicians. They have a scene together that is both telling and humorous (at least I hope it is both).

  2. I liked your cover model for An Affair With Mr. Kennedy. He is one of my all time favorites.

    yenastone at aol dot com

    1. Yes, Mr. Kennedy is hot all right, but the model who portrays him is hard to trace. According to Shana Galen (he was on one of her covers) his name is Thomas Maher, but I have become convinced its not a real name. He shows up nowhere...and that is impossible unless you work for CIA black ops.

    2. Oooh, that makes him even more alluring!
      *checking out my copy of your book*
      Yup, he is definitely hotter now that I know that.

  3. Well... your cover model is pretty hot. :) Gives me lots of things to dream about at night!

    maybe31 at yahoo.com

    1. :) I think that is the point of these covers! That, and getting romance readers to pick the book up off the shelf. Maybe even buy it.

  4. I like both the models on the cover of PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN, especially the heroine! She does look like a dancer!


  5. I'm a big fan of Paul Marron and Jed Hill is pretty sexy too!

  6. Hi Danielle,

    Ever since he did that JR Ward cover...I think that was Mr. Marron's breakthrough cover, not sure. And Jed Hill...a real live Greek statue!

    1. I love that cover! Definitely one of my favorites. As for Jed Hill, I've been a fan ever since I saw the cover of Jaci Burton's The Perfect Play. So sexy!

  7. Your characters sound great!
    I don't have a favourite cover model.

  8. like the model with the tattoo on M. Christian's stroke the fire book; don't know who it is


  9. Thomas Maher!!! The model for Mr.Kennedy. Fell in love with him when I read Shana Galen's Lord and Lady Spy and loved him too in your book. Paul Marron is also GREAT!!

    1. Hi kipha! I have to say they are two of my favorites!

  10. I like Paul Marron, who was on Kresley Cole’s Lothaire as well as J.R. Ward's Lover Avenged. Yum.

    1. Yes, I believe that is him, but he looks so different. I like him with a scruff!

  11. I don't have a favorite cover model. As with each back page, I enjoy checking out the cover model to get a feel for the story, but then get the real image of the hero from the words in the book.

    1. I agree, Barbara, I always end up with a different hero and heroine in my mind's eye than the models on the cover.

  12. My absolute favorite is Paul Marron, of course, but I do have a slew of other faves: Jed Hill, Steve Kuchinsky, John Paul Pfeiffer, and Thierry Pepin (whose presence on a cover always makes me smile). Oh, and David Kimmerle's abs/iliac furrow.... *sigh*

  13. HI infinitieh!

    HOT HOT HOT HOT! I am just getting to know the cover models by name!

  14. I am pleased to announce that Tammy Yenalavitch won her choice of a signed print or ebook copy of A PRIVATE DUEL WITH AGENT GUNN.

    Congratulations, Tammy!