I announced on Facebook the other day that I had a new book coming out November 1st on Kindle (and POD), a historical romance called THE BASTARD, and was immediately reprimanded by a woman for using such a terrible word. I explained that the story is about a man born in the late 1700's to a wayward marquise (illegitimately) who gave him to a farmer to raise. Although he’s had to climb up the hard way, without benefit of money or connections, he's determined to prove he's as good as anyone else, to rise to captain his own frigate one day. But when he finds a lovely French stowaway aboard The Tempest (the heroine, of course), he must decide whether to return her to the man she’s fleeing or risk everything, even his life, to keep her safe.
The woman calmed down when she realized the meaning behind the title, but it never occurred to me that people would mistake it in the first place. Maybe that’s because I read John Jakes’ THE BASTARD when I was fourteen and loved it so much (he’s probably better known for NORTH AND SOUTH, which became a TV mini-series that held me spellbound). One positive association can cancel out a lot of bad, I suppose. Or maybe I was leaning too heavily on the cover to convey its true meaning (I thought the historical feel would make it obvious).
Now I’m thinking that this is why no one else has copied John Jakes’ fabulous title. LOL They didn’t want to come under the gun from those who might misinterpret it and be offended.
Interestingly enough, I realized when I had to defend the title that this story has something in common with OF NOBLE BIRTH, my first historical romance. And that is the theme. New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Elizabeth Phillips often talks about an author’s core story. Maybe this is mine—that worth has nothing to do with birth or station in life and everything to do with heart and character. When I started writing (OF NOBLE BIRTH was my very first book, which originally sold to HarperCollins and was released in November of 1999 and is now also available for $2.99 on Kindle or any other eReader), I had only that title to go on. I didn’t know the plot or the characters, but I was certain of the title and the theme. That wasn’t the case with THE BASTARD. That book has gone through several variations of working titles from HONOR BOUND to THE MEASURE OF A MAN.
How important do you think a title is when selecting a book? Does it play a huge role in your purchases? Or do you care more about cover art or back cover copy? Or even the author? Which title do you like best (HONOR BOUND, THE MEASURE OF A MAN or THE BASTARD)? And which do you think conveys the most about the story as I've described it? Would you avoid a book called THE BASTARD, even if it was named that way because it was about a bastard son?
CONTEST: Brenda is donating one of her "For the Cure" Tee-Shirts (your choice of size) as a prize to one lucky commenter. To view the tee-shirt, visit: http://www.brendanovakforthecure.org/store/package.html
Romance Books R Us will add a tote bag as an additional gift. Contest ends midnight EST, 4 November. Put your email address in the comment box!
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has four novels coming out this year. Three romantic suspense titles--INSIDE, IN SECONDS, IN CLOSE—published by MIRA Books will be available wherever books are sold. THE BASTARD, a historical romance, will be available for Kindle and POD November 1st. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at http://www.brendanovak.com. To date, she’s raised over $1.3 million. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.
BLURB: The Bastard
To some men honor is just a word. . .
Jeannette Boucher, a young French beauty from a family left penniless by the revolution, must marry against her will to save them all from ruin. Her husband, a wealthy English baron, is more than twice her age. But almost immediately after the vows are spoken, she learns that the baron is impotent — and in his desire for an heir, he plans to compromise her in the worst possible way.
Determined to escape such a fate, she flees to the teeming docks of Plymouth — and stows away on one of His Majesty's frigates. But that doesn't make her safe. A woman alone is in constant danger.
But to Lieutenant Treynor, honor means everything. . .
Born a bastard to a wayward marquise, Lieutenant Crawford Treynor was given to a poor farmer to raise and was maltreated until he ran away to join the Royal Navy as a lad. He's had to climb up the hard way, without benefit of money or connections. Treynor is determined to prove he's as good as any other man and rise to captain his own frigate. But once he finds Jeannette aboard The Tempest he must decide whether to return her to the man he knows would abuse her — or risk everything, even his life, to keep her for himself.