Winter Blog Hop Day 19 – Happy Book Birthday to Me!

Today on the hop I’m featuring yours truly. 🙂  Today is release day for my third book, Tempting Mr. Jordan. I really love this book, which tells the story of Julia Tenwick (Jonathan’s little sister from Stirring Up the Viscount, all grown up). I hope you like it too! (And do scroll to the end of this post for a chance to win a Maine gift basket from me and Becky Lower!)

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Tempting Mr. Jordan

After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

Excerpt:

Cranberry Cove reminded her of home, her family’s estate in Durham, where ton rules were abandoned in favor of lazy days riding, reading, caring for her pets, or playing the piano. It occurred to her that she had not played in weeks. Her fingers itched to touch a keyboard, and she flexed her hands inside her calfskin gloves. She vowed to play soon. She thought she had seen a harpsichord in the drawing room of Maria’s enormous house.

Reaching the end of the little lane on which Maria lived, she took a right onto Main Street. It consisted of several houses similar to the one in which she was staying, so she turned left onto Maple Street, which was much more interesting. There was a green grocer, a bookseller, a milliner, a tailor, a blacksmith—everything one could want in a village. The streets were clean—much cleaner than London—and the air was crisp and fresh, even if it smelled ever so slightly of fish.

Julia was staring into the newspaper office—a badly written but oddly gripping tale about missing lobster traps was plastered to the window—when she was nearly knocked off her feet.

“Oh, I beg your pardon!” She managed to right herself, wondering why she should be the one to apologize. She looked up into the hooded eyes of Geoffrey Jordan, who held a book in one hand. “Mr. Jordan!”

“Lady Julia.” He reached out to steady her, the touch of his hand on her arm causing a charge to shoot up her spine. “Please forgive me. Are you hurt?”

“Are you in the habit of running over tourists on your streets?” She freed her arm, flustered by her own reaction, and busied herself with adjusting her hat. When she regarded Mr. Jordan again, he was smirking.

“No, just the ones who stop in the middle of the street,” he said.

Julia opened her mouth to retort, but he held up a finger to silence her. “Nevertheless, I am sorry. I wasn’t paying attention. And the scintillating prose of our local newspaper could halt anyone in her tracks.”

She laughed. “It is not The Times, to be sure.”

His lips quirked up at the tips in something approaching a smile. Julia thought she hadn’t seen him do that before and found it oddly entrancing. “Where are you headed, Lady Julia?”

She forced herself to look away from his lips. “Um. Nowhere in particular. I was in need of a walk after luncheon, so I thought I would explore a bit.”

“The Universalist church, just around the corner, is particularly beautiful, and you will need to sample lobster from the establishment run by the Maclays, on the pier. It will melt in your mouth.”

The way he looked at her as he made the remark made her own mouth dry. Her cheeks burned.

“Um. Yes. That sounds lovely.” She gazed down at her feet until she collected herself. Raising her head, she found herself caught in his sights. She swallowed nervously. “Well, if you’ll excuse me, Mr. Jordan, I really must get back. Constance will be wondering where I’ve got to.” She brushed past him, her shoulder tingling at the contact with his arm.

“Lady Julia?” His tone was vaguely amused.

She stopped and turned to face him. “Yes, Mr. Jordan?”

His thin lips turned up at the corners again, and he pointed behind him. “I believe your house is that way.”

“Oh. Yes. Of course.” She willed herself not to stumble as she passed him, at least not until she’d cleared the corner.

You can find Tempting Mr. Jordan at these retailers: Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ Wild Rose Press.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway for this fabulous gift basket Becky Lower and I are offering. In addition to the items pictured, Becky is offering an ecopy of her new Wild Rose novella, Love’s in the Cards!fullsizerender
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Winter Blog Hop, Day 7 – Love’s in the Cards with Becky Lower, & a Giveaway!

Becky Lower visits again today with a post about where she got the idea for her new Christmas novella, Love’s in the Cards, which releases today from The Wild Rose Press. Happy book birthday, Becky! Scroll down to the bottom for a special giveaway from me and Becky. 

perf5.000x8.000.inddPeople often ask writers where they get their story ideas. I can’t speak for all authors, but for me, it can be something as common as a billboard or as intimate as an overhead whispered conversation. In the case of my latest Christmas novella, it was definitely a memory that had been tugging at me for a while. Since kindergarten, in fact.

Who would have thought an obnoxious little boy who liked to use the soles of my shoes at nap time as a canvas would be the inspiration for Love’s in the Cards? His favorite crayon was purple and my mother would get so angry each time he’d go overboard and mess up my sparkling white shoes. That little boy went on to become a high school art teacher and inspired many of his students to be creative. So Delbert, wherever you are, thank you so much for the spark of creativity you’ve provided to me. But in order to incorporate Del’s childish shenanigans into a story, I needed the proper setting. Fortunately, I worked in a Hallmark store part-time for a year while living in Virginia. It was a sweet little card and gift shop and each Christmas season, the door was flanked by a pair of six-foot tall plastic nutcrackers. Later, when I moved to Ohio, I turned that retail experience into a job as a merchandiser for the biggest greeting card company in Ohio, where I learned all about lines of cards featuring famous people or artists. Love’s in the Cards combines Delbert’s story with my greeting card experiences.

Love’s in the Cards

Penny Beedle’s outlook on Christmas, as her favorite holiday, was destroyed by a messy breakup years earlier and a botched wedding last year—both on Christmas Eve. But since she and her sister now own a greeting card store, and the holidays are their crazy selling season, she has to put on a happy face.

Del Madison has loved Penny since kindergarten. Commissioned by a big greeting card company for a line of Christmas and Valentine’s cards, he has to emerge from behind his alter ego and unveil himself to the public. He chooses Penny Beedle’s shop for the big reveal. If he plays his cards right, he just might gain Penny as part of his life.

Excerpt:

Penny sighed softly. Abbey made sense. They had to do everything possible to compete with the other shops, all chasing the same tourist dollars. Even if doing so meant having six-foot-tall nutcrackers flanking the door for the next six weeks. Penny’s eyes smarted with sudden tears, but she blinked them away quickly, telling herself the moisture merely came from a reaction to the cold weather. “I think we need new names for these boys, especially after last year’s debacle. I now have two reasons to despise the season.”

As she wiggled her nutcracker to his final position on one side of the entrance to their shop, Abbey grunted. “This is our make-or-break season, so your attitude has to shape up, Penny. I had hoped a year would give you enough time to get over last Christmas’s aborted wedding.”

Penny jerked her big statue a bit too hard to the left before she squared him with the frame. She bit her lip at the chastisement as she glanced at Abbey. Anyone could tell they were from the same family, with their dark hair, blue eyes, and slender builds. Often, they were mistaken for twins, even though Abbey had been born two years earlier. The only noticeable difference was Penny could sing in key, but Abbey had a tin ear.

“Even though I’m over both Max and Ricky, their betrayals still hurt. And the fact they both screwed up my Christmases makes me hate the season.”

“Well, if getting your head back on straight this year means we rename Hans and Gunther, let’s do so. What’d you have in mind?”

Penny squinted up at the lifelike plastic statues towering over them. “I don’t mind Hans, but I’ll name mine Solo, since that’s what I am.”

Abbey grinned and wrapped an arm around Penny. “Well then, may the force be with us as we head into our peak season. The weather’s finally turned cold, perfect for putting folks into the holiday gift-buying mood. Let’s get inside. I’ve got something exciting to show you.”

You can find Love’s in the Cards at Amazon.

48988_1025007027_4423_nAbout Becky: Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America.  Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty. Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at beckylowerauthor@gmail.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com.

And finally, enter here for a chance to win a fabulous Maine-themed gift box Becky and put together to celebrate our new releases, both set in Maine. In addition to the items pictured, Becky is offering a copy of Love’s in the Cards!

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Winter Blog Hop Coming Soon!

Happy almost winter, everyone! In order to celebrate the December release of my next book, Tempting Mr. Jordan, I have invited some of my author friends to join me in an advent calendar-style blog hop. Every day from December 1-25 will feature a post from a different romance author. Most of them are offering giveaways, so check back here every day for a chance to win some great prizes, including a fabulous Maine-themed gift basket from me and Becky Lower, in honor of our Maine-set books coming out this month.

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Check out this talent!
December 1: Peggy Jaeger
December 2: Anni Fife
December 3: Cynthia Blackburn
December 4: Maggie Preston
December 5: Becky Lower
December 6: Landra Graf
December 7: Becky Lower, part two!
December 8: Miranda Liasson
December 9: Jennifer Shirk
December 10: Lori Sizemore
December 11: Judy Ann Davis
December 12: Hywela Lyn
December 13: Julie Jarnagin
December 14: Lynn Crain
December 15: Nina Croft
December 16: Tricia Schneider
December 17: Judy McDonough
December 18: Tara Harlow
December 19: Marin McGinnis
December 20: Anna Durand
December 21: Barbara Bettis
December 22: Tena Stetler
December 23: Clair Brett
December 24: Danielle Haas
December 25: Merry Christmas!

And now I have about 10,000 words to go to win NaNo and four days remaining (you do the math), so I’d better get back to work…

Book Blast Friday: Cover Reveal!

Happy Friday, everyone! I’m sure you’ve all been waiting with breathless anticipation–or possibly not–but finally, the time has come to reveal my beautiful cover for my third book featuring the Tenwick family.

Tempting Mr. Jordan is set six years after my first book, Stirring Up the Viscount, and features Jonathan Tenwick’s younger sister, Julia, all grown up.

After four unsuccessful London seasons, Lady Julia Tenwick despairs of ever making a love match. With spinsterhood looming on the horizon, she and a friend set sail for America on one last adventure. When her travels take her to northern Maine, Julia meets a reclusive but handsome artist, whose rudeness masks a broken heart Julia feels compelled to mend.

Still haunted by the betrayal and death of his pregnant wife two years before, Geoffrey Jordan is determined never to risk his heart again. Certainly not with the gorgeous and impetuous aristocrat who intrudes upon his small-town solitude, and is far too similar to his late wife to tempt him to take another chance on love.

But when Julia and Geoffrey find themselves united in a reckless plan to save Julia’s friend from ruin, they discover that temptation is impossible to resist.

So without further ado, here’s the cover, designed by cover artist extraordinare, Rae Monet:

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Stay tuned for a release date! In the meantime, check out my Pinterest page for some of my inspiration for this book.

Historical Book Blast Friday: Laura Strickland

Today I’d like to welcome historical romance author Laura Strickland to the blog. Laura’s most recent book, The White Gull, part of The Wild Rose Press Lobster Cove series, was released on October 2, 2015.

perf5.000x8.000.inddWhen the trawler White Gull was lost in a storm off the coast of Lobster Cove, Lisbeth O’Shea’s husband, Declan, was lost along with it. At least that’s what Lisbeth believes until, a year later, she hears Declan’s voice in the night and sees him haunting the shore near their tiny cottage. Then she wonders… Has grief affected her mind? Or is someone playing a cruel trick?

Town blacksmith Rab Sinclair has loved Lisbeth ever since he arrived in Lobster Cove. Lisbeth has never had eyes for anyone other than the charming, feckless Declan O’Shea, but Rab knows Declan was not faithful to Lisbeth. How can he convince the grieving widow she’s pinned her heart on the wrong man? And when dangerous secrets come to light, how can Rab protect the woman who means more to him than his own life?

Here’s an excerpt:

Lightning flashed once more, flooding her eyes with brightness. In the doorway of the bedroom stood a figure wearing dripping oilskins with only the sou’wester missing from his bare head.

Declan.

In the sudden darkness that followed the lightning she moaned his name and then shouted it.

“Declan? Declan, Declan!” She heard movement, the scrape of a boot on the floorboards, the flap of his coat as he turned and left the doorway. With a sob, she followed. Hands stretched before her like a blind woman, she felt for him, stubbed her bare toe on the leg of the bedstead and faltered. She blundered from the room in his wake.

The cottage boasted but three rooms: this bedroom they had shared, another smaller bedroom she’d dreamed of someday using as a nursery for her children and the main room which combined parlor and kitchen. The darkness of the main room enfolded Lisbeth like black velvet. She had but a glimpse of paler darkness as the front door opened and closed again.

“Declan!”

She followed after him, her heart torn between gladness and pain. He was here! But if he truly were here, returned by some miracle from the same sea that had stolen him, why would he go from her? She reached the door, tore it open and stared out into the storm. Waves and salt spray poured over the stones in front of the cottage. Static filled the air and lightning arced overhead, the thunder competing for dominance with the crash of the rain. Wearing only her nightgown, Lisbeth was immediately soaked to the skin. The wind tore at her hair as she strained to catch sight of the figure she had glimpsed in the doorway.

From the cottage, as well she knew, a path led either north to a narrow strip of shingle or south towards Lobster Cove. Which way might he have gone? She could see nothing but storm, the raging elements that matched the furor now in her heart. Would he head down to the sea? Most this coast consisted of sheer rock but the O’Sheas possessed that stony beach where they had hauled up their boats and readied their lobster traps.

The boats were all gone; the White Gull lay in pieces. Why would Declan go there? Having come home to her, why would he leave at all?

She walked barefoot to a break in the rocks where the sea poured in like a gray beast, alive and wild. No one but a madman would be down on that strip of shingle now.

She turned her head toward the track but saw nothing. The thought came to her: maybe I imagined it. But she had heard the scrape of his boots on the floor. She had seen his hair ruffled by the force of the storm.

A dream, then. She’d had them before, yes, but never, never so real. She returned to the cottage where she shut the door and hurried to the fireplace. With clumsy hands, she searched for matches and the stub of a candle. Her fingers shook so violently it took her three attempts to put flame to the wick.

The light took hold slowly and seemed pitifully inadequate. Thrusting it aloft, Lisbeth retraced her steps to the door of her room, careful to keep her now-sodden garments swept back, her eyes on the floor.

A trail of wet led its way to the bedroom door and culminated on the threshold.

The very place where he had stood.

The candle tumbled from her suddenly numb fingers and the flame went out.

You can find The White Gull, and Laura’s other books, at these retailers:
Amazon 
Amazon Canada 
Amazon UK
The Wild Rose Press 
Barnes and Noble
All Romance eBooks

Laura Strickland Publicity PhotoBorn and raised in Western New York, Laura Strickland has pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Though her imagination frequently takes her to far off places, she is usually happiest at home not far from Lake Ontario with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Author of Scottish romances Devil Black and His Wicked Highland Ways, as well as The Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy consisting of Daughter of Sherwood, Champion of Sherwood and Lord of Sherwood, she has also published two Steampunk romances, Dead Handsome: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure and Off Kilter: a Buffalo Steampunk Adventure and two Christmas novellas: The Tenth Suitor and Mrs. Claus and the Viking Ship. Her Lobster Cove Historical Romance, The White Gull, will be followed by a Lobster Cove novella, Forged By Love.

Contact Laura at her website, www.laurastricklandbooks.com, or on Goodreads.

 

The Rusticators

My next book takes place in a fictional town in Maine, near Bar Harbor. Set in 1871, it precedes the “gilded age” experienced in many American cities–my hometown among them–but by then the wanderings of America’s wealthy elite were already being felt in Maine.  As I was doing research for the book, I made some discoveries.

In the 1850s, Frederic Edwin Church, a second generation member of the Hudson River School of painters, visited Mount Desert Island, on which rests Bar Harbor (officially known as “Eden” until 1918) and its fictional neighbor.

Frederic Edwin Church, Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860. Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photograph taken by author.)

Frederic Edwin Church, Twilight in the Wilderness, 1860. Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photo taken by author.)

His paintings, as well as those of  his peers, captivated America’s wealthy denizens of the south, and they began to visit Maine in significant numbers. In 1890, W.H. Sherman, in his Sherman’s Bar Harbor Guide, Business Directory, and Reference Book, writes the following “bird’s-eye” description of the area:

A beautiful, landlocked bay stretching away into the distance and losing itself in numerous coves and inlets, amid purple hills and green, wooded shores, its waters now washing the feet of weather-worn precipices and anon breaking softly on glistening sand and pebbles. Studded over the surface of this bay are bright emerald islands, rich in foliage, stately landmarks of the ages. As the summer sun shines brightly on this panorama of sea and mountain, one can imagine himself in the home of the lotus eaters, so enticingly does it seem to invite to repose.

On one side of this beautiful bay is an island, an island rich in all the wonders and beauties of nature. Majestic mountains rear their bold summits toward the sky, and sheltered valleys lie nestling at their base. Lovely lakes abound, reflecting in their pellucid depths an endless vista of mountain and forest. Brooks, with shady pools where the trout love to hide, flow gently through its vales or leap, foaming, from rock to rock in their headlong course to the sea. Mountain, forest and lake scenery meet the eye in every direction, while the rock-bound shores and lofty cliffs form a picturesque frontier to this island paradise.

Winslow Homer, <emEarly Morning After a Storm at Sea</em>, 1900-1903. Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photo taken by author.)

Winslow Homer, Early Morning After a Storm at Sea, 1900-1903. Cleveland Museum of Art. (Photo taken by author.)

 

Travel by land was difficult–trains only went as far as Portland–so the best way to reach Mount Desert Island was by steamship from Boston, which had its own hardships.  Because the journey was arduous, visitors tended to stay for a month or more.

These “rusticators,” as they were known by the locals, initially stayed in hotels–in 1855 a New York lawyer named Charles Tracy brought 27 people, including Frederic Church, to stay in a village tavern. He kept a diary about his experiences, which was published, including illustrations by Frederic Church, by the Mount Desert Island Historical Society in 1997. (There are used copies available on Amazon, ranging in price from $5 to $285. Seriously.)

After a few summers, however, the visitors grew weary of rusticating, and began to build “cottages,” ornate structures with 20-30 or more rooms. The “Golden Age” of Bar Harbor and surrounding towns began in earnest around 1880. At its height, the season featured lavish parties nearly every day of the week. According to the Mount Desert Island Historical Society, “Some ‘cottagers’ actually hired teams of local workers who would move, largely by hand, fully grown oak, maple and elm trees to different locations on the lawn each year, much like one would rearrange furniture or change the composition of a flower garden!”

 

The locals did reap benefits from these eccentric summer visitors. They provided jobs year round, and John D. Rockefeller financed 57 miles of gravel roads and 17 hand-carved granite stone bridges on Mount Desert Island, and donated one-third of the land which became Acadia National Park, the first national park east of the Mississippi River. He convinced many of his friends to donate land as well. Another summer visitor, George Dorr, charted and created many of the trails in the park.

The Golden Age hit its decline with the creation of the federal income tax, as well as the Depression and World War II. But the death knell was struck in October 1947, when Mount Desert Island suffered a massive forest fire. The fire swept through “Millionaire’s Row” on Frenchman’s Bay, destroying 67 palatial summer estates and ultimately burning 17,188 acres, 10,000 of which were in Acadia National Park.

Sources:
*Cleveland Museum of Art
*http://www.barharborhistorical.org/bhhistory.html
*http://mountdesertisland.net/heritage.html
*http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederic_Edwin_Church
*W.H. Sherman, Sherman’s Bar Harbor Guide, Business Directory, and Reference Book, 1890. Available on GoogleBooks.
*Photos of cottages from “Cottages of Mount Desert Island,” http://research.mdihistory.org/MDIcottageshome.htm
*http://www.discover-acadia.com/acadia-national-park-history.html
*http://www.acadiamagic.com/carriage-roads.htm
*http://maineanencyclopedia.com/mount-desert-fire/

 

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