A Man of Honor – and a true story + Giveaway!

by Kate Walker, author of A Question of Honor

One of my favourite things in my ‘memories’ cabinet is a silver spoon. It’s old, really rather worn – in fact in some places, it has been worn pretty thin – and it’s just a plain, undecorated, spoon.  But there is one thing – or, rather, two things , that make it very special to me. The special things are the initials etched  into the handle of this spoon.

There are just two of them  say  simply – C W

These could be my personal initials, or those of my grandmother – who was a Catherine too – but they’re not. In fact, if the family history is to be believed,  they are much much older than that. These initials stand for the name Charles Wogan and he is someone who lived way back – in fact he was born about 1685.   He was  a long long ago member of the family from which my mother’s mother – my maternal grandmother – was descended.

“The Chevalier” (Knight) Charles Wogan was born in Rathcoffey. Is it possible that his heroic actions on the night of April 29th 1719 have given rise to the romantic fairytale tradition that for every fair princess shut up in a castle tower there comes a knight in shining armour ready to set her free so that she can marry the handsome prince of her dreams?

Charles Wogan was a lifelong supporter of the Jacobite cause, stating: “I shall always be ready to do what service I can for the cause I have ever much at heart”. Born in Ireland, Wogan moved to England in 1712 and soon after was involved in the 1715 Rising. He was captured and charged with treason but managed to escape before trial and fled to France. Meeting James Francis Edward Stuart, the Jacobite claimant to the throne, in Avignon, Wogan became friends with James and set about helping him select a suitable bride. They chose Maria Clementina Sobieska, daughter of John Sobieski, King of Poland but 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.

The marriage to James took place and from it Charles Edward (the Young Pretender) was born in Rome in 1720. Wogan’s reputation for daring and enterprise spread throughout all Europe.

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. It’s also rumoured that as a result of this, the Chevalier and his family are entitled to wear their hats in the presence of the king and to a pension of £10 a year. Unfortunately, like most of these things in English law, this was only passed down through the male side – which has now died out – and I come from the female line. Pity.

But I’ve always loved this story and I’ve read a couple of fictional versions of it  (The Escape of The Princess by Jane Lane and Clementina by A E W Mason). Of course these books have to end rather sadly, with the Charles, being an  honourable man, having to part from  the Princess when he completed his mission and she had to marry the Prince.  When I first learned of Charles and Clementina, I wanted them to have a happy ending together, but of course  that wasn’t how it had worked out.  So last March (on St Patrick’s Day of course!) I started thinking about my Irish family history and wondering how I could work that story to give it a happy ever after ending – while still making sure that  Charles (or Karim as he became in my story)  kept to his code of loyalty and honour as my ancestor had done.

That’s the story that’s behind my latest release – A Question of Honor (or Honour if you’re  in the UK).  My hero Karim is sent to fetch runaway princess Clementina  and bring her back to her arranged marriage with  Prince Nabil. He is given the job because he is a man of honour, a man who can be trusted to stick by that code of honour, no matter what his personal feelings might be. But that trust is severely tested when he finds that Clementina  is a woman who stirs his senses more strongly than anyone he has ever met before.  He is so strongly tempted, especially when Clementina herself  makes it clear that the attraction he feels for her is mutual. But he has promised on his honor . . .  So now he has to fight against her alluring appeal,   the enticing glances,  the temptation she offers – as well as the hunger she awakens in him, if he is to hold on to that honor.

I loved being able to give my family hero a happy ending!

Have you ever investigated the  history of your family – on your mother’s or your father’s side? Do you have any interesting stories from the past of your family that you’d like to share?  Or do you have any old, precious things that have been handed down through the years and that link you to your ancestors – like my very ordinary,  but very special spoon? I’d love you to share – and I’ll offer a signed copy of A Question of Honor to someone  who posts in the comments section.

Giveaway! Answer the above question in the comments for a change to win a signed copy of A Question of Honor. Open to residents of US and Canada, excluding Quebec. For full giveaway rules, click here. The giveaway closes June 26, 11:59 PM ET, and the winner will be selected by random draw on June 27.

About A Question of Honor:

a-question-of-honorA runaway princess…

It should have been easy. Karim al Khalifa, crown prince of Mazarkhad, had one task—retrieve rebellious princess Clementina Saveneski from her hideout in England and return her home to be wed…to another man.

His to find, or his to keep?

It is not for Karim to notice her alluring scent, those seductive curves, the enticing glances she sends his way. No, his family’s honor, and his own, require Clementina to be delivered—pure and untouched—to her unwanted bridegroom. And he must resist all temptation to keep her for himself!

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Comments ( 16 )
  1. jcp
    June 13, 2014 at 11:53 am

    I watched a few episodes of Who Do You Think You Are? but I have no interest in my family tree at this time.

  2. Laney4
    June 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Interesting? How about being 39 and finding out after your mom and dad have died that you and your brother (but not your elder two sisters) were sired by the man across the street instead of the man you called dad all those years? And then to find out that “everybody knew” including all of his family and many of the older residents in the small town? It was a surprise, let me tell you….

  3. kate walker
    June 13, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Hi jcp – I watch Who DO You Think You are too, and I always find it fascinating. I haven’t tried really investigating my family tree very far back – I just grew up with this story about my mother’s family.

  4. Kate Walker
    June 13, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Hi Laney! That’s really quite a story- it must have scrambled your mind when you found out. Family secrets are always fascinating – though perhaps they’re safer kept between the covers of a book! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Melanie J
    June 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I did my ancestory back in 2005-2006 and I found out that I am related to Peter Browne who came in on the Mayflower. I am also related to William Claiborne who was the 1st gov. of Louisiana.

  6. kate walker
    June 13, 2014 at 1:14 pm

    Hi Melanie – how great that you worked on your ancestry and was able to find out these details about your family in the past. My husband teaches creative writing and he does this great exercise where he has a list of all the people on the Mayflower on that historic journey. He gets people in the class to pick a person and write their story. I must look up Peter Browne on that list and see what it says about him, (I just asked him if he could let me see it – but it’s going to take a while to find it again!)

  7. Anne McAllister
    June 13, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Well, you know me and family history! I do it all the time — even in my sleep. I loved reading the story of your own family history inspiring you. Why do my forebears always turn out to be the outlaws????!!

  8. bn100
    June 13, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    No to all of the above

  9. Marcy Shuler
    June 13, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Hi Kate! I enjoyed hearing about the spoon and the story of the man it belonged to.

    My dad researched his family and published a book about it before he passed away. My older sister is now the one who loves to search out family connections.

    I know I have a relative who came over on the Mayflower because I’ve seen their name on the list when we visited there.

    I have a large framed portrait of my maternal grandfather’s five year old sister Meryl, whom I resemble. She died not long after that picture from an influenza epidemic, along with her father (my maternal great-grandfather) who was the local doctor and brought the disease home with him after treating his patients.

  10. Kate Walker
    June 14, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Ah, Anne, I do indeed know about your family history – I’ve even helped you with parts of it. I wish I had your dedication and fascination. But your outlaw ancestors are intriguing too – as I recall, they were very useful in getting you extra chips in a café in York!

  11. Kate Walker
    June 14, 2014 at 11:02 am

    Hello bn – well, not everyone has a fascination with the past, do they?

  12. Kate Walker
    June 14, 2014 at 11:05 am

    Hi Marcy – I’ll be that book of your father’s is a family treasure to you now. Another relation who came over on the Mayflower – I’m really going to have to find that list my husband has. But that is such a sad story about poor little Meryl dying of influenza because her father had been treating his patients – now that would make a good story – a tragic one though.

  13. La Bookchic'
    June 15, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Have never investigated my ancestors and have no desire to. Thanks for the giveaway!

  14. kate walker
    June 16, 2014 at 11:12 am

    Hi Bookchic – thanks for coming by. As I said to bn, not all of us has a fascination with the past – or any interest in our ancestors. It’s be boring if we were all the same ,

  15. Melanie J
    June 18, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Kate – yes please let me know what you find out!

    Thanks 😉

  16. Elissa
    June 27, 2014 at 8:52 am

    This contest is now closed and congratulations to our winner by random draw, Laney4. Please check your inbox for an email from me.-Elissa from Harlequin