This Monday, The Pink Heart Society editor and Harlequin Historical author, Michelle Styles, investigates the appeal of Sam Heughan, who is currently heating up US and Canadian screens in Outlander.
N.B.: At the time of writing this blog, the show still hadn't been picked up in the UK. Feel free to vent your frustration on that topic in the comments!
"You are safe," he said firmly. "You have my name and my family, my clan, and if necessary, the protection of my body as well. The man willna lay hands on ye again, while I live." ~ Jamie Fraser in Cross Stitch by Diana Gabaldon
It is lines like this spoken in a soft Scottish burr which make women go weak at the knees for Jamie Fraser. But what do we know about Sam Heughan, the man who plays him in the television series based on Gabaldon's best-selling books?
He was the first member of the cast officially announced by Starz, the network producing Outlander, which it hopes will prove as successful as rival, HBO's, Game Of Thrones.
"From the very beginning, I knew the part of Jamie Fraser would be difficult to cast. I had no one in mind for the part. I knew that someone would just come into the audition and be Jamie Fraser. And that's what Sam did," said executive producer Ron Moore.
Diana Gabaldon's response was equally as glowing; "Oh. My. God. That man is a Scot to the bone and Jamie Fraser to the heart. Having seen Sam Heughan not just act, but be Jamie, I feel immensely grateful to the production team for their painstaking attention to the soul of the story and characters."
In many ways it could be said the 6' 3" actor was born to play the part of a rebellious Scot who has a soft spot for a time travelling nurse.
Sam Heughan made his first appearance on 30th April 1980, in New Galloway, Dumfriesshire in Scotland and later attended the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, graduating in 2003. In the same year he was nominated for the Laurence Olivier Award for best newcomer
Prior to being cast as Jamie Fraser, he 'paid his acting dues' with appearances in TV series and films like Any Human Heart, Doctors and A Princess For Christmas. He also accumulated an impressive list of theatre credits in productions as diverse as Hamlet and Batman Live.
But that's his Biography according to Wikipedia and IMDB. What do we know about the man?
Not much, is the short answer. As interviews start to appear we're discovering he likes Sci-Fi, having a drink, listening to post punk/rock music and going hiking. He's a licensed fencer and was taught to ride a horse for the role of Jamie. He's also pro-Scottish Independence as evidenced by the big blue Yes badge on his Twitter profile picture. But the truth is, to the majority of us, he's still a relative unknown.
Outlander could change that, particularly when it's received so many positive reviews (a second season was ordered before the third episode of the first season had even aired).
As for Sam Heughan, I suspect he will create an upsurge in the popularity of Scottish romance. Don't believe me (or are stuck in the UK where those air-dates have yet to be announced) then take a look at the clip below. I think you'll agree he's definitely the kind of hero inspiration which can fuel a writer's imagination.
So what do you think? If you were an Outlander fan prior to the TV series, is he the Jamie you'd hoped to see on the screen? If you'd never read the books before, has the show sent you running to the closest bookstore to find out what happens next?
To find out more, you can follow Sam Heughan on Twitter or join his fans, the Heughligans, on Twitter or at their website.
We'll also be reviewing Outlander later in the month, so watch this space!
Michelle Styles, writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods.
Her most recent book is Saved by the Viking Warrior:
Battle-scarred Thrand the Destroyer has only one thing on his mind: settling old scores. But with the beautiful Lady of Lingfold as his prisoner, the unyielding warrior starts to dream of a loving wife and a home to call his own.
Cwen is also seeking justice, but she knows the fragile alliance she's built with Thrand will only last as long as they share a common enemy. Unless they can find a way to leave revenge to the gods and forge a new life together.