Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Chatting with Susan Leigh Furlong Author of Adventure Romance

Photo by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Please help me welcome Susan Leigh Furlong to my blog. She is the author of adventure romance and has taken the time to answer a few questions. Plus, she shared an excerpt from her novel By Promise Made.

How did you come up with the concept and/or characters for By Promise Made?

I stumbled upon some research about Mary Queen of Scots and how King Henry VIII waged a war against Scotland because his offer of betrothal to his son was rejected. Mary was only four years old at the time, with her fate to be decided by governments in search of power and conquest. Thousands were killed, not to protect the young queen, but to push back an invader. It got me to thinking, who would protect the toddler queen? And so Katherine (Kit) was created as the woman guardian who did not see the “big picture” of governments at war, but only saw a delightful little girl who needed rescuing. Stirring the pot even further was the handsome rogue, Hugh Cullane, who saw little beyond himself until he met Kit and young Queen Mary.

Tell us about a book that stayed with you long after you read it.

As I thought about books that have lingered with me, I was surprised to realize that two of them were autobiographies, one by Charlton Heston – In the Arena - and another by George Burns – Gracie. Both these books were full of anecdotes about life in the entertainment business, and I loved the backstories. However, it was not these backstories that remained with me.

What lingered from Heston’s book was his life in film, his decisions, and his determination to be true to himself. The title comes from a quote by Theodore Roosevelt. When asked why Heston did so many films that were not up to the caliber of Ben Hur, Heston replied with this quote. “It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust, sweat, and blood.” I value this because being a writer means taking my heart and soul, putting it to paper, and then sending it out saying “What do you think?” And so I stay in the arena.

The book by George Burns is also filled with stories of his career in show business, but his emphasis is on his devotion and love of his wife, Gracie. He gives her all the credit. Sometimes episodes of his TV show are broadcast, and the love in his eyes every time Gracie appears in the scene is incredible. He lived with her, and for her, as long as she lived and beyond. A love like that is what romance is all about.

Where were you born/grew up?

My father worked in retail women’s ready-to-wear, and while he was very well respected in his field, he was a stubborn, determined man who didn’t suffer fools, so he tended to move to a new position about every two years, and his family went with him.

I was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan while my father was getting his MBA. We first lived in Detroit, Michigan on Prevost Street for seven years. I remember sleeping in the attic with my younger sister, walking to school, and playing in the fire hydrant in the summer. Next came Pittsburg, Pennsylvania on Meadowbrook Street for the next two years. Here I roller skated on the flat area at the top of the hill and rode down the hill behind the houses on a sled with the teenage boys in the neighborhood. A thrilling ride that always got the boys in trouble, but us little kids loved it. I attended Lincoln school, and Miss Apt was my second grade teacher who let me sing “Never Smile at a Crocodile” for Show and Tell, twice.

Next we moved back to Detroit on Sunderland Street. Here we walked ten blocks to school, home for lunch, back to school and home again, rain or shine. No one had a second car in those days. I also walked over to see my grandparents who lived five blocks away as often as I could.

Then to Minneapolis, Minnesota on Tyrol Trail. Here we waited for the bus in 40 degrees below zero weather and six feet of snow and never missed a day of school. In the eighth grade I was thrilled to be chosen to play a clarinet solo at the high school band concert. I played “Country Gardens.”

My freshman year in high school we moved to Cleveland, Ohio. The curriculum was different than in Minnesota, and I struggled through Algebra after not having the first semester. I hate math to this day!

My next stop was Springfield, Ohio and Wittenberg University where I earned a degree in Elementary Education and met my husband. We ended up in his small hometown in southern Ohio where I taught, and we raised our children. You couldn’t get me out of here with a crowbar!

By Promise Made
by Susan Leigh Furlong
Genre: Adventure Romance
Heat level : R


Hugh Cullane, accused of murder and sentenced to hang, is forced to deliver a message of betrothal to four-year-old Queen Mary of Scotland. He faces death yet again when, in rejecting the proposal, the queen's guardian orders his severed head sent back to England in a jar.

Trained to protect her queen at all costs, Katherine Payne can show no mercy to the handsome messenger, despite the way his stolen kiss unsettles her single-minded sense of duty. Trapped between the English and Scottish armies, she must escape with Mary. Hugh joins her as they are chased by men determined to murder the young queen in their own quest for power.

Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  iBooks  |  Kobo  |  Goodreads


(Immediately after stealing a kiss from an unknown woman in the woods, Hugh is taken prisoner and dragged to the castle on the hill.)

“I’m Hugh Cullane,” he said with all the dignity he could muster from his awkward position on the ground. “I’m on a mission of great importance.”

“Importance? Ye?” Her throaty voice overflowed with hostility, and her eyes glowered with enough rage to incinerate him.

“Mistress Katherine,” he began again, “I beg yer forgiveness. If I had kenned—”

“If ye had kenned what?” she interrupted. “If ye had kenned I was the mistress of the house, ye would have been a little faster to rape me?”

His eyes widened. “Nay, mistress!”

“Take him to the dungeon. He will be flogged tomorrow.”

As the soldiers started to drag him away, Hugh called back to her, “I’m on royal business from the king of England. I’m the messenger of Queen Mary’s betrothed. I have a message for her guardian.”

“Stop!” she ordered.

Aha, the guards were wrong. All he had to do was mention that Mary would soon be part of the English royal family, and they would take him immediately to the young queen’s guardian. His indiscretion would be forgotten.

“Let me see him,” she said. The soldiers jerked Hugh around to face her.

Haughtily sticking out her chin, she said, “I am Queen Mary’s guardian, and any request for a betrothal to that doity English king is rejected.”

Hugh couldn’t believe his ears or his eyes. The queen’s guardian was a woman. A beautiful woman who made his heart race. A man might forgive his indiscretion, but a woman? Nay.

“I beg yer forgiveness, mistress,” Hugh said with his eyes on the ground, hoping she’d see his embarrassment and his regret at his mistake.

She took a step closer and put her finger on his chin. “Upon a closer inspection, the look of ye is verra pleasing.” She put her hands on her hips. “I think I will forgive ye. There will be no need to flog ye.”

With a sigh of relief, Hugh smiled and two half circles in his cheeks surrounded his mouth. He had every confidence in his smile to win her over. “Thank ye, mistress. I’m truly sorry I offended ye.”

His smile, however, vanished when her face quickly twisted into a bitter grimace. “Now that I ken ye to be an unprincipled, self-serving lecher sent by the most unprincipled, self-serving lecher of all, the Duke of Somerset, ye should ken why ye will be beheaded in the morning.”

Hugh’s stomach bolted to his throat. “Mistress? Beheaded?”

She hissed out each word. “Queen Mary will ne’er marry the king or allow him to claim Scotland in his name. He can send messengers and armies alike, but Scotland will ne’er surrender.”

Hugh caught in his breath. “If she dinna want to marry, I’ll go back and tell him so.”

“That would no’ be enough to convince him. To be certain that Somerset understands once and for all, I’ll send yer head back to him in a jar. Throw him in the dungeon.”

Hugh roared in protest, driving his shoulder into one soldier’s gut. Swinging his chains behind him like a mace, he cleared the rest of the guards away, but before he could take two steps, the captain hooked his foot under the chain between Hugh’s ankles and, with a quick jerk, flung the prisoner to the ground.

Hugh landed facedown at the furious woman’s feet. Raising his eyes to her, he pleaded, “Mistress Katherine, please hear me out before ye condemn me. I come to ye as an innocent.”

“Innocent? Ha!” she snorted. “Ye’re probably guilty of far more than we ken.”

Hugh pulled himself up to his knees. “ ’Tis true, mistress. I have spent most of my adult life seeking my own enjoyment instead of the betterment of others, but stealing a kiss is hardly a crime for beheading. I beg yer forgiveness.”

“Have ye no’ been listening to me? Ye will be beheaded in the morning,” she repeated, “because the English think nothing of killing hundreds in a quest to conquer Scotland, and they want to use a tiny babe to do it.”

“But I didna come to conquer Scotland,” he implored her.

“The man who rules England in the boy king’s place is a brutal man who will get the same in kind. Yer head in a jar will show him exactly that!”

“Please, mistress, I merely came as ordered on the demand of King Edward. I had no choice but to come.”

“Then ye will have no choice but to die. Take him away.”

More from Susan Leigh Furlong

My first two books published by Wild Rose Press - Steadfast Will I Be – the story of Robin Cullane set during the tumultuous reign of James VI of Scotland, and By Promise Made – the story of Robin’s son, Hugh, and surrounds the life of the toddler, Mary Queen of Scots – are available at all online sellers. These books are about characters in the same Scottish Highland family, but can be read in any order.

By Promise Made

By Promise Made was a finalist in the N.N.Light Heaven’s Review and also earned a Golden Crown review from InD’Tale Magazine.

Steadfast Will I Be

Vicious gangs of reivers roam Scotland during the tumultuous reign of James V, and one of these gangs, led by a man with a red stain on his face, threatens all that Robin holds dear. more...

My third book, Keeper of My Dreams, is soon to be published by Wild Rose Press and should be out by early summer. It is the story of Robin’s daughter, Leena.

TAGLINE: Gunpowder and love, both explosive.

Reid Haliburton, a skilled gunsmith, wants to control who uses his revolutionary handgun until a vicious pirate decides the gun will be his. The price of refusing is Reid’s life and those of his three young sons. Reid’s only chance to save his sons is to send them away and face the pirate’s wrath alone.

Leena Cullane Adair is stunned to find three lads hiding in her cart, and, although she only met their father a week ago, he holds her heart and her dreams, and she will do whatever it takes to keep him and his sons alive.

About the author:
Susan Leigh Furlong was born in the middle of blinding spring snowstorm at the University of Michigan, which forced her mother to walk across campus in the snow to the hospital while in labor. Susan doesn’t remember any of this auspicious beginning, but it always makes for a good story! As a child she moved across the country six times to various big cities before the age of fourteen before meeting and marrying her love. She moved to his small hometown in southern Ohio where she taught first grade and fourth grade and raised her children who did not have to change schools even once. Creating stories started early in life—as is typical of most writers—even before she could actually write. Then came handwritten pages stuffed in her underwear drawer, followed by stories created on a manual typewriter. Her first computer—a Commodore 64—was replaced by a series of computers and laptops. At age 32 she performed in her first community theater play—Guys and Dolls—where she quickly realized that she wanted to play ALL the parts, which is exactly what a writer does. She writes and/or directs church-related plays and sketches and also performs and sings with a music and drama ministry, LightReaders.

Her love of history led her to write two plays about her now hometown, followed by two historical non-fiction books published by Arcadia Publishing. Susan first discovered romance novels when she won a copy of Velvet Song by Jude Deveraux at the local bookstore.

Steadfast Will I Be and By Promise Made are her first works published by The Wild Rose Press with Keeper of My Dreams on the way this summer.

Find Susan Leigh Furlong
Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter


  1. I love the inspiration for your story! Good luck with the book.

  2. Jennifer, Thank you. I enjoy the research even though old books and papers make me sneeze!