Ten Year Blogaversary . . . Character Interview with Cassidy McClare & Jamie MacKenna from Love At Any Cost by Julie Lessman

Thursday, November 3, 2016

I thought for fun, I'd re-post an interview I did with Julie Lessman's characters Cassidy McClare and Jamie MacKenna from her book Love At Any Cost. The first book in her Heart of San Francisco series.

About the book:

Jilted by a fortune hunter, cowgirl Cassidy McClare is a spunky Texas oil heiress without a fortune who would just as soon hogtie a man as look at him. Hoping a summer visit with her wealthy cousins in San Francisco will help her forget her heartache, Cassidy travels west. But no sooner is she settled in beautiful California than Jamie McKenna, a handsome pauper looking to marry well, captures her heart. When Jamie discovers the woman he loves is poorer than he is, Cassidy finds herself bucked by love a second time. Will Jamie discover that money can't buy love after all? And can Cassidy ever learn to fully trust her heart to a man?
With delectable descriptions and a romantic sensibility, bestselling author Julie Lessman brings the Gilded Age to life in this sumptuous new series. Readers will faithfully follow Lessman to the West Coast for more romance, passion, and surprising revelations found in Love at Any Cost.


Describe Cassidy McClare. 
Cassie is a sweet and sassy Texas oil heiress whose daddy’s wells have run dry, leaving her high and dry when her “pretty boy” fiancĂ© dumps her. But that tough Texas veneer of hers hides a vulnerable and tender heart inside this quirky but lovable cowgirl who’s as natural and down to earth as cow patties in a field of Texas wildflowers.
Here’s a clip from the book where we see this lasso-loving heroine through the eyes of our handsome hero Jamie MacKenna:
At twenty-five and newly graduated from Stanford Law, he was used to a warmer reception from women—a lot warmer, as a matter of fact—and although the petite blond was pretty in a cute and clumsy kind of way, she certainly didn’t compare to some of the women who vied for his attention. A slow exhale breezed over his lips. Although never had he seen more unusual eyes—the color of his favorite green agate marble as a boy—like pale green jade, hypnotic, mesmerizing, fringed with honeyed lashes as thick as her Texas drawl.
Does she have a passion for something?
You mean besides hogtying pretty boys and sending them packing?? Yes! Cassie has a passion for the underdog, those people who have been ostracized and ridiculed by others. Because of her commitment to teach on the local Indian reservation and her close friendship with two young women who are Indians, Cassie is shunned by the prissy debutantes and their upper-crust mothers, never quite fitting into the high society of Humble, Texas. Which is why her Aunt Cait’s Hand of Hope School for disadvantaged young women in the Barbary Coast is so appealing to her, to once again be a teacher there who can reach out to the underdog.
Is there something that gets on her nerves?
HA! The hero Jamie MacKenna, BIG TIME!! Not only does he remind her of the “pretty boy” who just jilted her back in Texas, but she sees him as nothing more than a “yellow-bellied snake of a womanizer” after he steals a kiss.
Does she have a quirk?
Well, she’s rather fond of electric cattle prods—especially when Jamie gives her problems, but she also packs her lasso in her suitcase wherever she goes, along with her boots and spurs. More cowgirl than wealthy oil heiress over the years, Cassie was the type of little girl who slept with her lasso rather than a bear.
What drew you to make her a pool shark and a cowgirl?
Well, I wanted a quirky heroine, someone who was down-home and natural beneath the Gibson Girl hairstyle and stylish clothes that mama forces her to wear when she visits her wealthy and proper San Francisco cousins. Cassie’s basically a tomboy, the only child of a formerly prosperous Texas oilman and rancher, so her daddy teaching her to be proficient at the three “p’s,”—poker, pinochle and pool—gave her the quirky edge I needed when she trounces Jamie at all three. I chose pool as the main pursuit for several scenes because it was a sport that requires skill and movement, which made the scene more fun and lively than a simple card game.
Did you have someone in mind as you wrote her? If so, who?
I really didn’t have anyone particular in mind when I wrote Cassie’s personality, although I did send Revell a picture of a blonde Rachel McAdams, which is how I pictured her to look.

 Mmmm … how ‘bout I describe him through Cassie’s eyes when he “bowls” her over at the train station in their first meeting?
“Are you okay?” Nudging the boater up, he held out a blunt hand attached to a muscled arm that strained beneath a crisp, white pinstripe shirt, its casually rolled sleeves in stark contrast to a meticulous four-in-hand tie and a high starched collar. He could have walked off the pages of Men’s Wear Magazine, easily six foot one with a boyish smile that lent a roguish air Cassie recognized all too well. A thick curl of dark brown hair that was almost black toppled over his forehead, obviously a stray from the slicked-back style of the day. Hazel eyes the color of coffee with cream assessed her with a crimp of concern wedged between thick, dark brows, reminding her so much of Mark, she cringed.
Make that cold, bitter coffee.
Hand still extended, he eased into a smile that at one time would have generated as much heat as the platform beneath her body, a gleam of white in a chiseled face that sported a California tan. “I beg your pardon, miss, but I never even saw you.” A sparkle warmed his gaze as it slowly trailed down the upturned brim of her hat, past renegade curls from her upswept hair to her white silk shirtwaist, hesitating long enough to prompt a blush in her cheeks. “Which is pretty hard to believe,” he mumbled, almost to himself. His bold look continued to roam her gored navy skirt only to halt with several blinks at the peek of her forbidden cowboy boots—the ones she’d put on after Mama and Daddy left the station. A grin inched across his face as his eyes slowly trailed back up as naturally as his dimples deepened with the lift of his smile. Heat suffused her cheeks, as much from the obscene number of petticoats Mother had insisted she wear as the Romeo’s frank perusal. Flattery will get you nowhere, mister. Her lips took a slant. Though it’d certainly gotten Mark’s ring on her finger. She issued a silent grunt. A history lesson unto itself, she thought, the smell of horse manure from buggies lining the terminal oddly comforting.
And appropriate.
Does he have a passion for something?
Ah, yes—as a street rat who grew up in a brothel on the Barbary Coast, Jamie’s passion is to afford a surgery for his crippled sister whose infirmity he blames on himself, and to see both is mother and sister living in the lap of luxury on Nob Hill.
Is there something that annoys him?
Actually Jamie is pretty easy-going, but he does get miffed when anyone mistreats the prostitutes who used to be his neighbors or the young street urchins who roam the streets of the Coast. He also gets rather ticked at Cassie mid-book when she agrees to consider courting him only if he goes to church twice a week, reads Pilgrim’s Progress with her, and keeps his hands to himself. :)
Does he have a quirk?
Not a “quirk,” per se, but a definite mindset about marrying well, taking great pains to pursue only wealthy young women with political connections so he can afford an operation for his sister. The illegitimate son of a 15-year-old girl who worked in a dance hall to avoid starving, Jamie is also determined to become a senator so he can legislate productive change in the Barbary Coast, making sure young women aren’t trapped in the same vicious lifestyle as his mother had been.
Did you have someone in mind as you wrote him? If so, who?
Oh, yes! I pictured Jamie and his personality a lot like this picture of Matt Bomer (from White Collar TV show). Gorgeous, mischievously handsome, and the type of man who sets a girl’s pulse a-pumping at first sight.

Here is the video for this book.


2 Responses to “Ten Year Blogaversary . . . Character Interview with Cassidy McClare & Jamie MacKenna from Love At Any Cost by Julie Lessman”
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Sounds really interesting!

It's a really fun book!

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