Ethan Blackstone’s Final March

Since the passing of Queen Elizabeth II, I’ve done so much reflecting on just how far her influence has intertwined with my life and into the furthest corners of it.  I’ve thought about the characters I’ve created in my books over the years and found that so many of them would be actively involved and directly working to facilitate the many aspects of mourning her death, and of course, paying respect as the world says farewell to a singular Queen in celebrating the truly remarkable life she lived.

Singular because, for me, when I hear the words “The Queen” there is only one person to whom they refer.  Elizabeth II.  I wanted to do something to pay my own tribute to her long life, share my admiration, and express my grief at her passing.  I couldn’t think of what I could do at first, but then I realized what it needed to be.  I could write something.  The following scene is my own personal offering in mourning my Queen.

Yes, I realize what I just said.  My Queen.  Even as a proud American, I think of her in this way and have always done since my first Majesty Magazine arrived in 1981.  I’ve been a royalist for over 40 years and so that’s just how I’ve always regarded Her Majesty.  Nobody who knows me would question who I was speaking about if the words “The Queen” crossed my lips.  In fact, I received several sweet messages of condolence from old friends I’ve not seen or interacted with in years telling me they thought of me when they heard the news of her death.  They knew very well how much I’ve always loved her.  She was quite simply… Queen of the World to me.

Please enjoy this short reflection of a certain British Army Captain as he says goodbye to his beloved Queen.


Westminster Abbey, London

I didn’t imagine I’d ever put this uniform on again.  I couldn’t think of a situation that might require me in my dress blues with full honors pinned on.  But yet, for the privilege and the great honor I’ve been tasked with, there is nothing else I could wear that’d be even remotely appropriate for the occasion except this uniform.

The last time I wore it before today was, ironically, for an audience with Her Majesty on the day she presented me with the Victoria Cross.  That day is not a sharp memory for me.  Still raw from my captivity, attempting (and failing) to process all the loss, my military service at an end, I wasn’t looking for any reminders of my time in the army.  My head was all wrong even though my heart was still beating.  Alive but not quite sure how to keep on living just yet.  I still had to figure that all out.  Brynne was years away from coming into my life, and the confidence I own today was very much absent.  The general day’s events might be fuzzy but my recollection of Her Majesty on that occasion is crystal clear.

Extraordinary in every way.

How she put me at ease with her genuine kindness and concern, making me feel as if I was her highest priority.  As if there was nowhere else she’d rather be in the world than right there presenting a medal upon a lowly army officer she’d never met before that day.  To her sincerity and compassion for my experience as a captive and in thanking me for my service to the crown on behalf of a grateful nation.  I truly felt all of that from her. How she easily made the whole experience feel as if it was her great privilege to know me.

I remember what she said to me accompanied by that famous smile she had.  “I don’t get to give this one this very often, Captain Blackstone, it is an honor.”

Again, another example of Her Majesty’s legacy as a monarch who was not here to be served but to serve.  The motto she lived in life:  I serve.

Which she most certainly did.

When I received the invitation to the funeral as a living recipient of the Victoria Cross, I couldn’t imagine any greater honor in paying my respects.  Blackstone Security had been very busy working today as we had been in various capacities over the past ten days, of course, but not as an invited guest to mourn personally.  But there was more to come.  I was then told the contingent of Victoria and George Cross recipients would march together behind the cortege after the funeral service from Westminster Abbey through ceremonial London to Wellington Arch for sending Her Majesty off to her final destination to Windsor for burial.  Blow me down.

So… I was going to march.

Neil was in charge of everything else while I was otherwise engaged in this final duty for my Queen. Ivan was here as a cabinet minister for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport in his governmental role.  But his office had been crazy busy for days with the organization of relaying information to the public with everything from the length of time for the queue at Westminster Hall where Her Majesty had been lying in state before today, to the details of road closures and general information regarding the state funeral service sequence of events.  These were uncharted waters for everyone.  We were all simply trying our best to send our Queen off to her final rest with all the dignity, honor, celebration, and love we had to give.

Brynne’s hands had been shaking ever so slightly when she pinned the medal on for me earlier.  I asked her if she was nervous and she gave me that side eye I’d grown to know and love. She said she wanted to get it pinned on perfect for her war hero husband.  I told her it was better her than me because I couldn’t pin the fuckin’ thing straight for the life of me.  Ever since I gave up the smokes I still have high-stress moments that bring on the shakes.  Thank God I have Brynne to soothe me now.  She looked so gorgeous today at the funeral in a black collared coat and a wide-brim hat coming through the entrance of Westminster Abbey.  The diamond and ruby butterfly brooch I gave her when Laurel was born pinned at her breast.  She always looks gorgeous though.  She can’t help that.

Having Brynne with me for this honor today meant so much.  I couldn’t imagine my life without her in it. The life I was living now so very different from the life I was living upon my first meeting with Her Majesty.

As we waited for the coffin to be brought out from the Abbey and while the procession members were getting organized and lining up in their places, Brynne kissed me on the cheek and said, “You look…smashing in your uniform, Captain Blackstone.”  Adding a little eyebrow wiggle for good measure.  “I’m so proud.  So very proud of you. Now go out there and march for your Queen.  I’ll be waiting for you when you’re finished, my love,” she told me before stepping away to join the exit queue with the others leaving the Abbey.

There were no other words I wanted to hear because knowing she would be waiting for me was… everything.  I love you, my beauty, I mouthed to her before she turned to go.

I know, she mouthed back at me, and then she was out of sight.

My attention then turned rightly toward my former sovereign surrounded by the splendor of her nation in a pageant of armed services gratefully performing a final duty for her.  When the orders were given and “MAAARCHH” was called out, like a well-oiled machine, the great procession rolled forward to begin its way down the Mall.  Seventy-five steps per minute with drum beats keeping the pace, royal pipers piping, and Big Ben tolling once every minute for the duration.  Nothing like this has ever been witnessed in modern Britain and I will never forget this experience.

In life, Her Majesty wanted to be there for all people, promoting community, keeping the promise she made on her 21st birthday: “I declare before you all that my whole life whether it be long or short shall be devoted to your service and the service of our great imperial family to which we all belong.”

Never was a promise so well and truly kept.

Rest well, Ma’am, your duty is done.

God Save the King.




Ten Years of Ethan Blackstone

Original self-published cover. Design by Kim Killion, Hot Damn Designs. Image from Shutterstock.

Ten years ago on this day, I sent a very special character out into the world.  Ethan Blackstone hit the bookshelves and in a word, changed my life.  Things have never been quite the same since.  An off-the-chain, British Alpha with angel wings and a Shakespeare quote tattooed across his back.  A blue-eyed,  British Army veteran with severe PTSD who’d been through the bowels of hell and somehow returned to the land of the living.  A fiercely protective guy with a really filthy mouth who smoked Djarum Blacks and drove a black Range Rover around London for work.  Devastatingly handsome and beautifully damaged, this soul was about to fall in love with a girl he saw for the first time in a photograph.  Yeah, he was all of that and so much more.  After this day ten years ago, Ethan Blackstone took on the world all by himself, quite literally, and lucky me, got to come along for the ride of my life in his black Range Rover.  *winky wink*  He is among my best life accomplishments and I cherish each and every one of these last ten years with him.

August 25, 2012, was also the day I hit the “publish” button for my very first self-published book: Naked, The Blackstone Affair Part 1.  I had two historical romances with a small press publisher already out in the world, but this new book was different for many reasons.  Naked was not the first book I ever wrote.  It was actually the fourth book written, but the third book that I published.  The Muse was the first book I ever wrote, but it would remain in a box under my bed for a few more years before it was finally published.  Naked was my first contemporary romance though because I had only written historicals prior and assumed that historicals would be my genre forever and ever.  Boy was I wrong.

A little backstory to know where this story really starts…

In the final days of June 2012, Mr. Miller took the boys away to Boy Scout camp and I had the house all to myself for an entire week.  I had no responsibilities to anyone and so much blessed free time to write, enjoy the pool, sip drinks, watch movies, read books in the spa…you get the idea.  Well, I was truly in heaven.  Summer vacation was in full swing and I had just returned from a fun romance book conference in Denver called RomCon armed with lots of motivation to write my own contemporary romance since the buzz throughout that weekend had been Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L. James and how it blew the doors off the erotic romance genre.  I decided I wanted to take a stab at writing contemporary and had a great plot already outlined in my head to begin.  The book I was working on is what ended up becoming Priceless, The Rothvale Legacy Part 1.  An American art student, Gabrielle Hargreave, living in London, running from troubles at home in America, is tasked with evaluating a heretofore unknown art collection stashed away at the Northern Ireland estate of Lord Rothvale XIII.  This guy has quite the resume too: Cabinet Minister for the sitting government, member of the House of Lords, former Olympian in Archery, decadently handsome, wealthy Renaissance Man, and an all-around 10 (of course.)  LOL  He was going to be the modern-day Lord Rothvale descendant of my historical Lord Rothvale from my three other historical romance books in which he appears.  I had the historical Lord Rothvale created already in my books, so why not make a modern-day Lord Rothvale descendant story to complement a very loooooong story arc?  Well, that was my plan anyway…

I set to writing and had a good 20K written into my story when my “plan” got sidelined.  One night I was up scrolling stock photo sites for an image that could be my cover for Priceless.  This was going to be my first self-published book remember, so I would be able to choose the cover and make all decisions for my book.  I was into it and having so much fun searching for the perfect image when I stumbled across the picture that would become the cover of Naked.  A nude model in repose with her legs crossed in the vertical and a well-placed palm.  The picture was stunning to me.  I thought it was so beautiful and I bought it right then and there thinking I didn’t have a story for it but I was going to create one.

My mind spinning with ideas, I started typing at like 10:00 pm that night with what would become the first chapter of The Blackstone Affair.  I wrote it in 45 minutes.  To this day, those first lines are largely unchanged, they remain as they were originally written.  The heroine, art student, and part-time model, Brynne Bennett, shows up at the gallery showing of photographic art where a series of her nude photos are on display.  She talks to her photographer friend Benny about the tall, dark, and handsome checking her out from across the room.  She checks him out too and we get our first description of the beautiful man he is.  It’s no secret that I based the physical description of Ethan Blackstone on the one and only David Gandy.  Anyone reading that description of Ethan in the first chapter of Naked could put two and two together if they had any inkling of who David Gandy was in 2012.  I had been following him for a couple of years by that point so I had seen lots and lots of his photos to know what he looked like enough to describe him in detail.  He was an effortless muse for my Ethan.  Brynne feels unsettled as they stare at each other from across the room before abruptly leaving the gallery and heading out into the night towards the Tube.  Ethan follows her out and demands she allow him to give her a ride home.  LOL  Yep, that’s how it goes.  And I love him for it.  Zero apologies for his Alpha ways!!!

I was obsessed with this story only an hour into it.  I sent the first chapter to my friend Franzi in Germany and asked her to read it.  She encouraged me to keep writing it.  And that’s exactly what I did.  I abandoned poor Priceless and made Gabrielle the roommate of Brynne instead of the heroine.  I made the hero Ivan, Lord Rothvale, into Ethan’s maternal cousin and decided I would write Ivan and Gabrielle’s story later on but placed them firmly into the world I was creating so I would have to come back to them at a further point down the line.  I didn’t have the prologue yet, the impetus for Ethan to be there watching Brynne in the first place, or why he knew about her photo at all.  I still had yet to work all of those details out.

I did that over the next few days.  Figuring out his backstory and hers.  I got the idea for Blackstone Security International, Ltd. while watching the opening ceremonies for the Olympics which were happening right as I was starting to write the book in August 2012, in London of all places.  I saw all those famous people and royalty at the ceremonies performing and thought: someone has to organize security for all those celebrities at big events like these…that’s what Ethan Blackstone does!!!!  It was that simple. Done.  All I had to do was write the rest of the story.  I wrote the book in three weeks.  Then the edits and cover design and getting ready to press publish.  Forever thanks to Lacey Wetherford and Belinda Boring for their helping assistance with navigating the strange and unknown process of Amazon and Smashwords self-publishing in those early days.  I don’t know if I would have gotten through it without their help because I knew n-o-t-h-i-n-g.  But somehow I learned the ropes and managed to get to today…ten years ago.  It was scary but exciting.  I didn’t have huge expectations to fall far from because I was creating this story for the pure joy of doing it. Because once I started writing it I couldn’t do anything but keep going.  It was magic from start to finish.  The words had poured out of me while I was writing and now it was time to set them free out into the world.

It was one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Endless thanks to all of the people who have read and fallen in love with Ethan Blackstone and his beautiful American girl, Brynne.  You made this wonderful dream of mine a reality.  You made it possible for me to do this gig full-time.  You made it possible for me to be offered a major book deal from a (then Big Six) publisher.  You made me a #2 New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author.  Thank you for that and for reading my books.  I am ever humbly grateful.

xoxo Raine

Here are some extras for you courtesy of Becca Manuel from Becca the Bibliophile who interviewed Ethan as the very first guest on her blog when she started it a few months later.  We had a lot of fun doing this one.

Exclusive Interview with Ethan Blackstone

And also the first book trailer she ever made was for Naked.  It still gives me chills every time I watch it!!!

And a last final thought to leave you with.  You haven’t heard the last from Ethan Blackstone.  There is more to come and it will.  Time has been static for Ethan and Brynne in their world.  Ten years have not passed for them only about a year and a half by the time we meet up with them again in The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone.  Stay tuned, my friends.

xo R


About The Blackstone Affair

The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone

Cover image by Scott Hoover Photography. Josh Kloss, model. Cover design by Louisa Maggio.

Well, there you go.  I always said if there was more story to tell for Ethan and Brynne then I would write it.   Mr. Blackstone has been whispering in my ear for a while now, so I’ve decided it’s time to let you in on our secret.  Why today?  August 25th is memorable because five years ago on this date Ethan Blackstone was revealed to the world when Naked, The Blackstone Affair, Book 1 was published.  So, to celebrate the 5th birthday of The Blackstone Affair you shall have a fifth book.  (you are welcome)

The Blessings of Ethan Blackstone will be entirely in Ethan’s voice, echoing how All In (Book 2) was written.

Honeymoon Dating

Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone have a "date" on their honeymoon.

Mr. and Mrs. Blackstone have a “date” on their honeymoon.


“What are we doing on the beach?” I asked, as he  led me along the cool sand under my bare feet.

“Having our date.  Trust me, baby.  This is something I have all planned out for us.”

“I bet you do.  I am well aware that when you say date you really mean sex—”

My words were lost as we rounded a turn in the beach path and came out onto the shore. The waves lapped at the sand with the soothing sounds of water moving against earth.  A sliver of moon glowed up over the water, but the real beauty was the many glass jars lit up with tea lights set out on the soft sand of the beach. What seemed like hundreds of them flickering away around a pallet of blankets and pillows.  Off to one side, sat a bucket of iced drinks and what appeared to be little dessert cakes on a tray with some fresh fruit.

“It’s beautiful, Ethan.”  I could hardly speak as I realized what he’d done.  “How did you do…all of this?”

He led us onto the blankets and drew me down to sit beside him.  “It was my idea,” he began, “but I needed some help to pull it off.  Franco got it organized while we were at the party.”

I looked around behind us, imaging if the caretaker for our villa was lurking in the dark hoping for a glimpse.

“I know what you’re thinking, but you don’t have to worry, baby, Franco is not in the bushes watching, trust me.”

I laughed nervously.  “Well, if Franco is in the bushes somewhere, I am predicting he’s gonna get one hell of a show.”

“Now that’s what I like to hear.  My girl accepting the idea of a hot beach shag,” he whispered teasingly against my ear, his tongue flicking out for a lick along the shell.  “You like my surprise.”

My body came instantly alive, needing him so badly.  Ethan could get me hot with just the simplest look or touch.  He reached up and worked on the messy knot holding up my hair and unpinned it.  He was getting good at figuring out my hair.  It made me smile to watch him as he found the pins and pulled them, knowing how he’d be fisting my hair in handfuls and using it to dominate when we were deep into the sex.

“You’re smiling,” he murmured as he worked over my hair.

“I just love to watch you doing simple things.”

My hair fell free.  “This is not a simple thing to me,” he whispered, fingering through the tangled length with both hands.  His gaze grew smoky as he focused on my lips.  “It’s everything.”


 Rare and Precious Things is coming February 28th.

Preorder here:  Blackstone Affair BOOK 4

Twitter Hashtags  #RareAndPreciousThings  #Blackstone4

Fun interaction and news about all of my books found below

The Blackstone Affair Fan Page on Facebook