Sunday, January 11, 2015

Timeline confusions (SPOILERS)

WARNING:  HERE BE SPOILERS


I've had a couple people come away from the timeline of the books a little confused.  In fact, the sound of heads banging on desks is about deafening.

So let me provide a general comment on the timeline as a Guide for the Perplexed.  And then I'll probably do it again in a week or so, but with more specificity than I can scrape together right now. And I'll only do that if I'm not buried in work of some kind or another.


We have three confusing time periods. Like ... sometimes I have two books happening at once.

1794 -- And we are in Forbidden Rose. Hawker, Pax and Justine are all young. Hawker is 12 or 13. Justine, 13. Pax, about 16.
Galba is Head of the Service. Grey has not yet joined the Service. Annique is living with the gypsies at this point. Doyle is a senior Independent Agent. Hawker is merely a raw possible recruit, on probation.

In 1794, Hawker walks onto the stage in Forbidden Rose leading a pair of tough little donkeys. About a third of the way into Forbidden Rose Hawker will meet Pax when they change duty at the watching post on Maggie's house. A bit later Justine and Hawker meet for the first time on the street outside Doyle's prison.
Black Hawk also visits 1794. This is in the first fallback section from the frame story.  We open that segment with Justine and Hawk getting together in Paris in front of the now-inactive guillotine.  This is the day after Doyle is freed from prison in Forbidden Rose.  In this segment of Black Hawk, Pax, Hawker, and Justine go to the Coach House and rescue the last Caches-in-training. 

Forbidden Rose and the 1794 section of Black Hawk then come together and end with the same scene. That's the one where Justine gives Severine into Maggie's keeping.

1802 -- This is where things gets complicated, because now we got three books involved.

In 1802 Justine and Hawker are 19 or 20. Pax is 24 or so.
Galba is Head of Service. Grey is Head of the British Section. Hawker is a young Independent Agent.

We have an 1802 segment of Black Hawk full of our three young spies saving Napoleon from an assassin. At the end of that 1802 section of Black Hawk, we see Justine shoot Hawker. This is on page 228.


The action of Spymaster's Lady opens five or six days after that shooting scene. Offstage, Grey and Hawker got picked up when Hawker was getting himself out of the Louvre. There is Hawker in prison, dying from Justine's bullet.  Annique gets thrown into the cell and they're off!!  Hawker, Grey, Annique and Doyle run headlong across France.

Rogue Spy starts when we're in the middle of the Spymaster's Lady timeline.  The two stories go forward in parallel. Action of one story happens while stuff is going on in the other.

While Pax in that tavern working up the courage to go
to Meeks Street, Grey and Annique are walking across Devon to London.

When Hawker visits Daisy's house in Rogue Spy it's been maybe three weeks since he was shot. He's only now come to terms with his final breakup with Justine. Meanwhile, across town, in Spymaster's Lady, Grey is dealing with Annique as a prisoner at Meeks Street.

Rogue Spy wraps up with the death of the Merchant but Spymaster's Lady continues. So later events like  Meeks Street headquarters getting shot up and Annique escaping to Soulier's house take place after Cami and Pax have already been married and sailed for France.



1818:  1818 is the frame story of Black Hawk. It's 16 years since Justine shot Hawker. Sixteen years since Cami and Pax, Grey and Annique married.

Hawker is Head of Service. Galba has retired. We haven't visited their timelines, but we can assume Cami and Pax, Grey and Annique have had many adventures in the intervening years, done important work, and have settled into a happy life. Maybe they have kids even.
And in 1818, Hawker and Justine marry.



So that's the way all these events spread out.
And that's just as clear as mud, isn't it?

Go ahead. Ask me something. I'll try to clarify.

61 comments:

  1. Thank you!! This is so useful.

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    Replies
    1. I really don't mean to make this difficult. I was kinda expecting folks would just read the books and not worry about connections from one book to the other.

      All this coordination was mostly just for my own satisfaction. I didn't necessarily expect the readers to notice.

      Delete
    2. For me, I can't stand not knowing how things link up, even in books I didn't much care for! Which is not the case here.

      I have a tag/shelf for books like these: timeshare series.

      Delete
    3. Ooooh. I didn't know I was doing 'a thing'. Now I know. So cool.

      Delete
  2. Replies
    1. Severine's story, set in 1818.

      I'm in the middle of that and all the plot bits are like writhing octopus tentacles. Most disconcerting.

      Delete
    2. Can't wait for it!
      By the way, I have always wondered, how many children has got Maggie and Doyle?
      And Joanne, please, tell us if there will be Russian edition of the Forbidden Rose and Rogue Spy?

      Delete
    3. I know Maggie and Doyle have at least one child born after the end of Forbidden Rose. I have Doyle say, "I have to get back to Maggie and the kids," in Black Hawk, for instance.

      But I don't know how many kids or in which years they were born, only that it was a joyous warm household and Maggie and Doyle played mother and father to a generation of young Service agents.

      I don't know about a Russian translation. These rights all rest with the publisher. I never know about these translations till I see the books for sale, mostly.
      I do hope they will be put into Russian.

      Delete
  3. Now, that helps a lot, thanks!
    No more confusing moments, no more worried leafing back through the pages in search of clues... Although, having had the pleasure to read all your novels in a row - except for Rogue Spy, that is - I've been able to follow the different storylines quite easily. Looking forward to read Sevie's story, and get a glimpse of some of the others's at the same time :)
    P.S. Do you mind if I email you about some Baldoni questions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would be happy to answer Baldoni questions ... unless I have made major blunders in which case I will still answer the question but be less happy about it.

      Delete
  4. Marianne4:02 PM

    I'll have to read them in this order now. Thank you!

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    1. I don't really think there is a good order to read the books.

      I think Black Hawk is good before Rogue Spy because then Pax's emotional story makes more sense

      Delete
    2. Anonymous6:33 PM

      FWIW, I'm reading them in story/chronological order, then going back and re-reading the various references and cross-over parts. That's one of the nice things about books: you can read the good ones more than once! :D

      Delete
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    1. On FaceBook, someone asks:

      Did hawker ever tell Justine that Lucille worked for the British or did he hold back that secret

      ****
      And I answered:

      Soulier was told about Lucille in 1802 at the end of Spymaster's Lady. Lucille is dead and Grey gives this information up to get Annique back safely.

      Soulier remarks that this sort of information ALWAYS leaks, which I figure it must have done. I imagine at some point Soulier told Justine, since Justine worked with him closely and she'd been a friend and protege of Lucille.

      So Hawker didn't have to tell Justine. She knew.

      Delete
  6. All of this is jumbled together in my head. Obviously, I need to reread your books. Oh what a hardship. :-)

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    Replies
    1. Ummm ... There has to be some way to simplify all this.
      (jo looks at her charts and tables and 3X5 cards and shakes her head.)

      Or maybe it's better to just not think about it.

      Delete
  7. Anonymous4:49 PM

    Oh this is lovely!! Thank you :) This made me want to reread all the books again, even though I just read them before Rogue Spy came out.

    Two questions: When in this does Her Ladyship's Companion take place?

    And second, there is a mention in one of the earlier books where some of the men go off to rescue someone/get someone on a ship. Was that getting Jess Whitby away from Lazarus the first time? Was Hawker also Hand at one point, or did he just work for Lazarus? Was Pax involved with Lazarus as well?

    Thank you!!!
    Tina

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    1. You have this all right, looks like.

      ******
      When in this does Her Ladyship's Companion take place?

      That's in 1811. It's a nice quiet place in the timeline and doesn't intersect anything else.

      ********
      there is a mention in one of the earlier books where some of the men go off to rescue someone/get someone on a ship. Was that getting Jess Whitby away from Lazarus the first time?

      Yes. That was Jess, young and injured from a fall. She's the one Lazarus is buying ice cream for at Gunters in Rogue Spy. She's the package Hawker discusses picking up when they talk at the dinner table at Meeks Street in front of Colonel Reams in Spymaster's Lady.

      Jess' father, Josiah, gets Hawker to help him kidnap Jess from Lazarus. Hawker does this because Josiah has just pulled him out of the water on the French coast (That happens in Spymaster's Lady,) and Hawker figures he owes him.

      *******
      Was Hawker also Hand at one point, or did he just work for Lazarus?

      Hawker was Hand up until some weeks before his 1794 entrance into Forbidden Rose.

      Longer answer: Before the opening of Forbidden Rose, Lazarus sent Hawker on an impossible mission to break into Meeks Street. We don't know whether it was to kill Galba or merely steal papers ... and Hawker isn't saying.

      Hawker shot Galba non-fatally and winged Grey across the deltoid. Hawker in return got his knee dislocated. Afterwards Doyle negotiated with Lazarus over the captured 12/13-year-old Hawker. Either Lazarus sold the boy to the Service or Hawker went to the gallows.

      Lazarus was surprisingly willing to turn the boy over. Perhaps he remembered that Lazarus succeeded Lazarus, generally when the Hand killed his master and took over. Maybe that's even why he sent Hawker on an impossible mission in the first place.

      ***********
      Was Pax involved with Lazarus as well?

      Not really much at all. In fact, Pax spent very little time in England altogether.

      Delete
  8. Perfect timing Jo. I am away on R & R and am about to jump back into your books. This grounds me and saves me from the agony of trying to remember past information--a great help since the first two are sitting on my shelf at home.

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    1. Hi Rose --

      You have any questions that get in the way of enjoying the book -- just let me know.

      I am so glad you're on vacation. Hope it's a really good one.

      Delete
  9. Well, now I am compelled to re-read them all......just the synopsis of all the story lines reminded me of the great pleasure I knew when when reading them...

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    1. I sure hope you do reread and I hope you enjoy them.

      I also hope you don't come across any little spots where I've lost my place and made major mistakes ...

      Delete
  10. On Facebook, someone asks:
    Where does my lord and spymaster fit in?


    And I answer: 1811 is MLAS. Adrian is Head of the British Section at this point. England and France are at war. England is about to go to war with the US.

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  11. Just finished Rogue Spy a few weeks ago - I loved it! Hubby and I had this very conversation as we tried to figure out the overlapping timelines. Thanks for providing the clarification - it was fun putting it all together! Very much looking forward to Sevie's books.

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    1. All this complication was sort of for my own purposes, really. I was expecting most everybody to just ignore the overlapping story lines and read the story they were in the middle of.

      I figgered maybe there'd be a very few folks who'd noticed the overlaps and Easter eggs and it would be sort of a puzzle to figure out if they wanted. One more layer. A game maybe.

      Delete
  12. Angie G.6:18 PM

    I was aware of all the connections and mostly the order of events, but it's awesome to have everything explained so well in this way. Thank you for sharing this with us!

    I'm excited to know that we'll have Sevie's story someday. No matter how long it takes, it'll be worth the wait.

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    1. I will try to make it good.

      (jo wanders through the plot, picking up loose ends and putting them down again rather helplessly.)

      Delete
  13. Thanks for this timeline. It's great to see the writer's mind at work. I've loved all of your books. And I'm happy to hear that Severine will have her own book. I was curious about that.

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    1. I think smart and practical writers do things in a simple progressive order. Remind me to follow their example next time. *g*

      Delete
  14. Someone on Facebook says:

    THANK YOU! These are the questions that keep me up at night…seriously! Just one question, where does my lord and spymaster fit in?


    *****

    1811/1812 is MLAS. Adrian is Head of the British Section at this point. Galba is still Head of Service.

    England and France are at war. England is about to go to war with the US.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Someone at Facebook asked:

    Does Grey ever become Head of Service?

    *******

    Grey doesn't ever become Head of Service. That office passes directly from Galba to Hawker sometime between 1812 and 1816.

    Grey is not so much a professional spy as he is an army officer. A bit before 1800 the Service had a major brouhaha and men dead because the Head of Section for England turned out to be a dolt. (This happens offstage and is never referred to. A shameful episode in Service history.) Doyle and Galba brought Grey in from the army to restore confidence.

    After Grey marries Annique his position as Head of Section becomes a little tenuous. She has been a French spy, after all.

    (In case you were wondering, this doesn't resonate with Justine and Hawker because France and England are allies in 1818 and Justine is a member of the French aristocracy, which is in charge in France.)

    Anyhow. Back to Grey.
    Grey steps down as Head of the British Section and becomes an Independent Agent working and living in the south of France, then in Spain.

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  16. Someone at Facebook asked:

    in Black Hawk, you clarified that Doyle has no interest in ever stepping up to Head of Service, so what exactly is his job title?

    ***********
    Doyle's job title is 'Independent Agent' -- a title that covers a multitude of sins, as it were. Officially, he's in a position where even someone like Carruthers can't give him orders. And unofficially he wields immense personal influence.

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  18. Someone on FaceBook said:

    I thought that when Hawker was Head of Service it was generally accepted that Doyle was really the power without the title because it was felt that Adrian wasn't old enough/seasoned enough/stable enough to hold the position.

    ********

    How very perceptive of you. Yes. There's a lot of éminence grise going on here. And then the scene in Black Hawk when Adrian looks around the room and realizes the choice of what to do with Cummings is entirely in the hands of the Head of Service -- that even Doyle is expecting him to make this decision -- is a sign that Hawker is now truly the guy in charge.
    (Or, at least, that's some of what the scene is supposed to convey.)

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  19. Thank you for answering all these questions! I did wonder about Lazarus sending Hawker to Meeks Street all those eons ago and about how succession worked among theives because (and I spend waaay too much time thinking about books rather than doing schoolwork) but there's that intriguing duality at work in Hawker's nature again. He could have easily been Lazurus' heir instead of Galba's.

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  20. Very exactly right.

    Lazarus -- who got his title the old fashioned way, by killing the last Lazarus -- figured he had six or seven years before Hawker did the same to him. Being fond of the murderous lad, Lazarus tried to think of the best way to avoid that.

    Lazarus could've sent him off to Australia. Or killed him when he started to be dangerous. Instead, he brought him to the attention of the Service, who were sure to recognize his usefulness.

    There's a 1794 scene, never written, that shows the aftermath of Hawker's break-in at Meeks Street.
    Galba is upstairs, resting after Luke took the bullet out. The others are in Galba's office -- Grey, not yet Service, working there on a Military Intelligence matter, his own wound bandaged up. Doyle is in charge.

    Hawker -- age 12/13 -- is tied to a chair, dislocated knee in agony, not answering questions.

    *****

    Grey: What the hell is he?

    Doyle: One of Lazarus' creatures. He won't answer questions. It doesn't matter anyway -- we know who sent him.

    Grey: I'll grab Luke before he leaves and get his knee seen to.

    Doyle (walks behind Hawker)(speaks Latin) : We're not doing him any favors, patching him up so he can hang. (behind Hawker's back, mimes a quick snap to the neck.) Better to end it quickly.

    Grey (after a minute) (speaks Latin): Let him live. He got into your headquarters. There's something there worth saving.

    Doyle (in Latin) : Maybe. And we can always kill him later.

    ********

    Hawker has a good memory. Many years later he repeated that Latin to a Fellow at Cambridge and found out what they'd said. Made him laugh.

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    1. Anonymous4:35 PM

      This made me laugh! I am sure you have a lot of these scenes that don't quite fit into the books (yet!) in your head. That may be one of the reasons your characters, especially Hawk, Doyle and Justine, feel so three-dimensional. I admire how each has his or her own voice.
      I gave your books to my adult daughter for Christmas, with instructions to start with The Forbidden Rose, and now she, not a fan of historicals but totally enamored with yours, is half-way into Pax's story. Thank you so much for giving us this world! When can we hear Severine's tale?

      Delete
    2. I 'see' a good many scenes that have no place in the books and probably never will. Seems so very much a waste.

      I am so glad your daughter liked the book. It's a great compliment when somebody outside the Romance field likes them.

      Severine won't be done soon, I'm afraid. Lots of it is still at the plotting side.

      Delete
    3. Heh! What a fun little vignette. I really enjoy these off-hand lines you throw out (here & on Twitter) that could plausibly be part of the book but aren't.

      Delete
    4. I just wish I could shoehorn these scenes in someplace or other ...
      #disappointedwriter

      Delete
  21. On Facebook, somebody remarked ...

    "Just one question, where does my lord and spymaster fit in?"

    and someone else said ...

    "Also in 1802, Adrian is talking about carrying someone out of Lazarus' quarters because he is the only one who can do it. And that someone is later the heroine of Lord and Spymaster."

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  22. Comment from Facebook -- When I read Black Hawk, it was really great to discover that the whole series had been about Adrian from the start

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  23. And, a response I made to a question about Rogue Spy ;;;

    ****
    You wondered why RS didn't talk about Meeks Street headquarters getting shot up.

    What it is ... That attack occurs after the endpoint of Rogue Spy. It's still to come.

    From a writerly standpoint, I don't want to interrupt Rogue Spy or Spymaster's Lady to talk about distracting stuff that doesn't directly affect it.

    Annique knows the men of Meeks Street are busy working outside headquarters, but any discussion of dealings with Lazarus or Cami or the Merchant occurs off-stage.

    Cami, in Rogue Spy, knows nothing about Annique's presence at Meeks Street. No reason for Pax to talk about what Grey's up to.

    I make one small connection in RS to the events of TSL. When Grey first confronts Pax in the hall at Meeks Street, Grey is fiercely on edge because his relationship with Annique is not going smoothly. That accounts for the uncharacteristic punch in the jaw Pax receives.

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  24. Comment from Facebook:

    ********
    It's the secondary characters like Lucille that help us have better insight into other characters like Galba Justine and Annique. But you have an inconsistency unless you did it on purpose. In Rogue Spy why was the package delivered to Anson Jones not Anson Griffith
    ********

    To which I reply:

    ********
    Different aliases for different purposes. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
    ********

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  25. Comment on FaceBook:

    *****
    I need to re-read Lord and Spymaster again, don't remember Adrian being an adult or even being in it!
    *******

    and a reply on Facebook

    ******
    When we first see the hero staggering along, drunk, Adrian iswith him, singing dirty songs. He helps fight off the Irish gang that tries to catch the heroine. The heroine whom he knows because he pulled her out of Lazarus' place years before and later was their butler in Russia. And so on.
    ******

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  26. I loved reading this post and recognizing, "Oh, I figured that out." "Oh, this had me puzzled for a good long while." and so on. However, I am very, very glad that I didn't read this post before I read the books. The joy was in the deciphering of the intricate puzzle that your books have constructed.

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    1. Oh. You're right. I'm going to put a spoiler tag on the top of this.

      Thanks for pointing this out. Sometimes I can be a little dense.

      Delete
  27. Thanks so much for going into more detail about the timeline. One of the joys of reading these books has been the overlapping events and the connected characters. You are gifted in writing multi-layered plots. I am looking forward to Severine's story, and I hope that you will give little updates as to what the "old" characters are doing. All these fascinating spies have become friends that we readers want to keep up with.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. I try not to 'fill in the empty spaces' too much. For instance -- I haven't written much about what Hawker got up to in the years after he and Justine split up.

      Partly, this is so I can nip in and write stories without any pre-existing facts in place. Partly it's so folks can imagine their own stories there.

      Delete
  28. Thanks so much for the timeline. It's been awhile since I read the first few books in this series, so this helps. Even though you're the author, it's still amazing that you can keep track of the shifting timelines throughout the books. Do you have a huge flow chart or a terrific memory?

    Also, thanks for giving us Hawker's perspective on Justine shooting him. We didn't see it in The Black Hawk, but get to read it in Rogue Spy. That's what's great about this series. If a scene isn't shown in one book, it may turn up in a future book.

    Has your publisher given any thought to having a timeline on the inside covers of future books? As an example, in Nora Roberts' Boonsboro trilogy, there was a map of the town and the buildings featured in the books on the inside front & back covers of each novel. It's probably easier to do in trade paperbacks than in mass market paperbacks.

    Finally, have you given any thought to self-publishing those "empty space" stories in ebooks? You're probably too busy to do it, but it would be a nice supplement to your full-length books.

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    1. I remember a good bit of what's going on. A reader might spend a dozen hours with a book. I spend months. So it makes more of an impression.

      Hawker's visit to Daisy is one of those scenes I've wanted to write for a while. Since Spymaster's Lady, actually. It's really defined by Hawker being in a place he can open up completely. Be completely honest. I don't think there's anyone/anywhere else Hawker could say those things or show his feelings so openly. To Maggie maybe.

      But the Daisy scene never fit in Black Hawk. I'm glad I found a place for it in Rogue Spy.

      I do think about short story and novella length works. They're hard for me though. I haven't really learned how to do them well and quickly. Maybe someday.

      Delete
  29. Is it a good thing or a bad thing that I've read your books so many times that this timeline was superfluous?

    I have a lot of fun imagining some of the blank space scenes. Like what Justine said (or broke?) when she learned about Lucille, and Hawker's encounter with the inevitable very sexy lady Russian spy (in furs).

    My favorite subtle call-out in Rogue Spy is when Hawker rubs his forearm when discussing how hard it is to fight Caches - the forearm Pax slashed in Forbidden Rose...

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  30. You caught one of the more subtle back references with that forearm. *g*

    Lots of blank spaces in the time line. *g*

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  31. I'm late to the party but am THRILLED to see this blog post. Like Cheryl C & casperflea, I've had the pleasure of reading all your books multiple times so seeing the interconnected timelines are part of the joy in reading your stories.

    I'm not sure I understand why Cami chooses to retain that name when her Baldoni family clearly welcomes her back into the fold and the real Camille Leyland is restored to her family?

    Also one niggling timeline question still puzzles me: how is it that Pax arrives in London at Meeks Street just after Adrian has returned from France? Seems to me that Pax would have easily arrived prior to Adrian with his short sojourn in prison, even though Pax was highly reluctant to confess to Galba. Perhaps this is where I need to employ my imagination with a blank space scene -- Carruthers not so gently debriefing Pax of his double-agent secrets?

    I'm very excited for Sevie's book. Can't wait! Hoping, too, that there may be a few novellas or other on-going glimpses into the Spymaster's world afterwards.

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  32. I hadn't really given any thought to why Cami decided to stay 'Cami'. It seemed natural at the time.

    Characters with a couple names are hard on the readers. I'm reluctant to transform Cami Leyland into Sara Baldoni in the middle of the book. Folks want to think of her as 'Cami'.

    From a character standpoint, I don't think the Baldoni name would seem natural to her after all these years. She's lived longer as Cami than as Sara.

    As to our characters arrival in England.

    In Spymaster's Lady Hawker flees Paris four days after he was shot in the Louvre and arrives in London about two weeks after that.

    Pax goes to British Service headquarters in Paris the day Hawker gets shot in the Louvre. Pax spends more than two weeks there under not-very-gentle house arrest. Carruthers keeps him this long because she's sent a letter to Galba explaining the whole situation. She wants the letter to arrive before Pax does. (No. That letter isn't in the books.)



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  33. Like many others who have commented on the time tangles , I love the fact that Jo trusted us to go with the flow, and I flew!
    Go Jo!

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  34. I hope this wasn't too distracting ...

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  35. Anonymous4:16 PM

    Bonsoir.

    Je viens de découvrir votre série grâce à 3 volumes traduits en français, j'ai beaucoup aimé vos romans au point que j'ai lu ceux qui ne sont pas traduits en vo bien que j'avais d'énormes lacunes en anglais, merci beaucoup pour ce voyage dans le temps avec des héros extraordinaires.
    Je voudrais également vous demander si vous avez l'intention d'écrire un roman sur le fascinant, néanmoins troublant et inquiétant Lazare ?

    Sincèrement votre

    Cordialement :

    Good evening.

    I've just discovered your series thanks to 3 volumes translated in French, I really liked your novels to the point that I read the ones that are not translated into your even though I had huge gaps in English, thank you very much for this trip in time with extraordinary heroes.

    I would also like to ask you if you intend to write a novel about the fascinating and troubling Lazarus?

    Sincerely:)

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    1. Thank you so much for the kind words.

      I don't right now plan to write a novel dealing with Lazarus -- though it's not impossible I may bring him into some future novella.

      I do have a novella that deals with Lazarus entitled Gideon and the Den of Thieves. It appeared in an anthology that's no longer available. I will, sometime, get that novella up on line and for sale again.

      I have a "Notify List" that lets folks know when I have a new work out and doesn't annoy folks with other stuff. You can get on it by emailing joannabourne@gmail.com and asking to be put on the notify list.

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