We see our man in the field walking over to conduct the interview at hand, so we’ll keep things quick. Please welcome to the blog Kimberly Cates, the author of Once Upon a Storm, the hero of which is the subject of today’s interview!


Ladies and Gentlemen, we have with us the decorated military hero, Captain Simon Harcourt.

A man in your position must have seen the world by now. What place have you been that you really loved? And are there any places that you never want to step foot in again?

First of all, I’m not the military hero.  The heroes are in unmarked graves from Kabul to Jalalabad, scattered across the countries the Crown sent us to ‘make the world England’.  Truth is, the place I loved was around the campfires with my men, the night sky, the stories and songs. The laughter and the fear. We learned the truth there—we weren’t fighting for the commanders who sent us into battle and betrayed us with their ineptitude.  We were fighting for each other.

Where would I never set foot again? Everdene Hall.

And what brings you back to Everdene, Captain?

My father. A carriage accident forced him to recuperate at this estate we all hate.  He summoned me here, and nobody—not even the Queen herself—refuses the Earl of Ravenscroft.  I’d rather ride into a horde of Ghilzai warriors barehanded than see him again, and I thought he felt the same about me.  My plan is to shake free of him and this place as soon as I can.    I have a vow to keep, one I swore to my best friend the night before he died in the Hindu Kush mountains.

A vow? That sounds rather serious. Do you mind if I ask you what this vow was?

To build the most famous stable in England and breed a bloodline of racing horses with the Turkoman stallion Jamie and I discovered in Afghanistan—a horse that looks like living gold, that runs like the wind across the desert and mountain passes more treacherous than you can imagine.  A horse with courage, stamina and a sense of loyalty beyond any we’d ever encountered.

So, you’re a horse man? Tell us a little more about that. What’s your most prized steed?

Caspian, the golden Turkoman stallion that saved my life in the Hindu Kush mountains.  Jamie and I wagered everything on Caspian.  Wars have been fought over these horses.  Alexander the Great named a city after his.  We swore we would breed something real, alive and beautiful instead of destroying whatever was in our path.

You want to build your own stables? That’s going to cost a pretty penny. How are you going to finance such a project? Where do you plan to build it?

I’ve got a reputation as a gambler and figured I’d get the money that way, but that would take time.  Then my father, the Earl of Ravenscroft, made me a devil’s bargain.  He’ll grant me the land and the finances to build the stable Jamie and I envisioned as long as I…

As long as you, what?

Everdene…the village… how long have you lived here?

My people were tenants of the first earl when Henry VIII was king.

Well, a devil’s bargain isn’t something one discusses with anyone but the devil, is it?

Well then… I wish you the best of luck with all of that. Now, you’re actually from Everdene, correct? What took you away from us?

Let’s just say, a family tragedy when I was nine.

Have you missed the place at all?

No.  In fact, I swore I’d never set foot on the estate again.  But, as usual, my father got his way. (Stares off into the distance.)  I didn’t think of Everdene at all until Penelope Waverly started reminding me of the time before… a life I’d forgotten.  No. A life I’d buried.  Damn her for opening that door…

Come one, there’s got to be at least one thing you’ve missed…something you’re happy to see after so long…a girl maybe?

I can’t say I missed Penelope.  But when you encounter a governess hiding something under her skirt… Let’s just say things could have gotten interesting if I hadn’t come along.  Of course, she had the situation handled, or so she claims.

Oh, I certainly know Miss Waverly. She’s quite the force of nature, that one. How do you two know each other?

She was the bane of my existence when I was a lad at Everdene.  If we boys were doing something—like building a treehouse—there she was, underfoot, telling us we were doing it wrong.  I’m not about to admit she was right.  But now…she’s still challenging me. Daring me to do better.  To BE better.  I can’t get her off of my mind.

Excuse an old man for asking, but do you see a place for Miss Waverly in your future?

There is no way either one of us is going to marry.  My parents’ marriage was a disaster, and she watched her father lose her mother’s dowry, even the house that was in her mother’s name.  She hasn’t the slightest intention of handing over control of her life to a man.  As for me—I’m a bad bet. I still have those battle-demons inside me.  The war’s not over in my head.  It never will be.

Okay, okay…I’ll stop prying. Just tell me one last thing. If a djinn showed up right now with three wishes just for you, what would you wish for? I’m curious.

My first wish is easy: Jamie and the other men under command would be alive.  Jamie would be the one watching Caspian fill pastures with golden foals. My second: To face down my mother, demand to know what happened that night my whole world exploded—why she abandoned me and never looked back.  The last wish?  That I become half the man Penelope Waverly believes I could be.

Thank you, Captain. It was a pleasure talking to you.

You say so now.  We’ll see what you think once you know the bargain I agreed to. I have a question for you… Once a man sells his soul… can the love of a woman ransom it back?



Praised as “a master of the genre” by Romantic Times, USA Today Bestselling Author Kimberly Cates’s award-winning novels have been translated into numerous languages and are known for their endearing characters and emotional impact. The New York Daily News praises her writing as “so richly detailed we…hear the clash of sword against sword.”

You can find her on:

Facebook, Twitter, Bookbub, and, of course, her website.

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