If you were to take a look at my (overcrowded ) bookshelves, you’d find, in amongst all the romance novels, the detective stories, thrillers, historical novels, there’s a very small separate section that has three – no four books all on the same subject.
There’s A E W Mason’s Clementina ( A grand Tale of Loyalty and Betrayal). Then there’s The Escape of The Princess by Jane Lane. These two are fiction. There are two other, factual titles. One is The Life of Chevalier Charles Wogan ,A Soldier of Fortune  by J.M.Flood and another, reproduced in a modern paperback but that is a copy of the original dating from 1719. It’s called The Rescue of Princess Clementina (Stuart): A 1719 Adventure of the Irish Brigades – and this one was written by Charles Wogan himself. I’ve collected these books over the years and I keep them on my ‘specials’ shelves.
Well, the answer to that is that the Charles Wogan that these books are written about – or who writes his own version of the story in The Rescue of Princess Clementina (Stuart) - is a long ago ancestor of mine. My mother’s family is descended from the Wogan family and I’ve grown up with the story of this Irish soldier whose tale is something of a delight for any romantic novelist – here is a brief summary.
"The Chevalier" (Knight) Charles Wogan was born in Rathcoffey. Wogan was a staunch supporter of the Stuarts. He initiated the alliance which led to the marriage of James Edward Francis Stuart (the Old Pretender), son of Charles II, to Clementina Sobieski, daughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland. She was apprehended, however, on her way to marry the Prince in Bologna. She was held captive in Innsbruck in the Tyrol. Wogan arranged false passports with the Austrian Ambassador and along with a small group feigning to be a Count, Countess, the Countess’ brother (Wogan) and her maidservant, managed to gain access to the princess. Following a quick exchange of clothing between the princess and the maidservant, the party escaped in high winds and blinding snow through the Alpine passes into Austria.
It’s rumoured that in fact Charles Wogan and Clementina fell in love on their journey but that his loyalty to his king meant that he didn’t press his own claim for marriage.
I always felt it was sad that if Charles and Clementina did fall in love, that his loyalty and sense of honour meant that they had to be separated so that he could fulfil his duty to his king. For a long time I’ve wanted to rewrite the story so that Clementina and Charles could have that happy ending.
This is the story that was at the back of my mind when I wrote my current release for Harlequin Presents - A Question of Honor. Instead of Charles, I have Karim who is sent to bring Clementina home to go through with the marriage that has been arranged for her ever since she was a child. Karim thinks that this will be an easy and quick job - until he meets Clemmie. That’s when sparks start to fly. And things get a whole lot more complicated.
But I was determined that Karim and Clemmie had their happy ending – so if you want to know how that happened, you’ll need to read the book.
The trouble is that now I’ve been talking about this past story, it’s made me want to go back a reread all the historical stories I have about my great – great- great .. (I don’t know how many greats!) long ago
Do you have any interesting stories from your family’s past?
PS I’m so glad that the designers of the cover of A Question of Honor didn’t ask me for a picture of the original Charles Wogan. He might have been a hero, but neither he nor his Princess Clementina were exactly lookers!
A Question of Honor is on sale in Harlequin Presents this month.
You can find out more details about it on my web site and read all my more up to date news about my books and what I'm doing on my blog or my Facebook page.