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Goodreads Book Giveaway! Whispers from the Cove

In celebration of my newest release, “Whispers from the Cove,” I’m giving away 5 signed copies through a Goodreads Giveaway! Now thru June 19th.

Whispers from the Cove

Smoky Mountain Secrets Saga, Book 1

Lily Larsen has never been afraid of anything, yet the effects of the war are wearing her down.

Her beautiful home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, lies deep in the Smoky Mountains. For decades, her family has farmed and lived peacefully, until the soldiers came and made every day a struggle to survive.

Whether they wear gray or blue, the men in uniform arrive unexpectedly and take whatever they want. Not only do they steal food and livestock, but some believe they can help themselves to anything they desire. Lily now has something to fear.

Caleb Henry is running from his own battles, bleeding and broken. He seeks refuge in the cove and literally runs into Lily. Because he’s injured, she shows compassion and sneaks him into her cabin, trusting her folks to tend him.

But there’s more to Caleb than they see on the surface. His arrival changes their lives, and what happens going forward can never be undone.

You can enter, by clicking below. Good luck!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Whispers from the Cove by Jeanne Hardt

Whispers from the Cove

by Jeanne Hardt

Giveaway ends June 19, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

 

A Toast to Modern Conveniences

Being a writer of historical fiction, I spend many hours researching fine details. I like to be sure all my facts are correct before submitting anything for publication. Yes, I write fiction, but I also intertwine real events and actual people.

The little things matter. It’s the small stuff that can make a reader feel like they’re really back in time, experiencing everything right along with my made-up characters.

I’ll never forget seeing a Civil War era movie and becoming frustrated when I noticed that the men on the screen were wearing belts. The kind held in place by belt loops on their trousers. Because of my extensive research, I knew men didn’t wear those types of belts in the 1860s. They held their pants up by using suspenders, referred to at that time as braces.

But, I’ve drifted off the subject I meant to highlight in this post. Every bit of research makes me appreciate all that we have at our fingertips today.

We flip a switch and have instant light. I can step into my shower in the morning and within seconds have hot water cascading over me. And speaking of bathrooms, how many of you would ever want to be forced to make do without a toilet? A little play on words. (grin)

As for communication, way back when, it took days or even weeks to get news about happenings around the country. The delay makes for great story plots and wonderful suspense. That’s part of the reason I enjoy writing pre-phone fiction. If I wrote contemporary, nearly each and every person would have a cell phone within reach. It takes away a lot of the mystery, but there are also wonderful benefits to today’s instantaneous communication.

Are we spoiled, or what?

My husband jokes about going off the grid. Honestly, there are times I think he’s serious, but he knows I couldn’t do it. Well, I could if I had to, but I’m not ready to give up modern conveniences. That being said, I think we all need to appreciate them more. Even now, not everyone has it so easy.

So, here it is, 2017, and I’d like to make a toast to the New Year and all the wonderful modern conveniences. I raise my glass high and hope you’ll lift yours to mine.

I’m grateful that I can send this to you electronically and not by Pony Express. I can type my words on a laptop computer and not make you struggle to read my poor penmanship.

I love living in the modern world and having the ability to step back in time and imagine what it would’ve been like in the good ol’ days. I can write stories from my heart and travel in the pages of a novel without having to work my fingers to the bone doing daily chores. The strength of our ancestors is truly admirable. I hold in high regard all the pioneers and those who struggled simply to find food and keep a roof over their heads.

There’s a deep romanticism in the past, and definitely something to be said for the slow pace and simplicity of life back then. But it was by no means rosy.

As I type, our washing machine is faithfully cleaning our clothes, my standing lamp is shedding light on my work, and my phone is close by, just in case someone calls. Like my husband, wondering if I’m ready to move to the remotest part of Alaska.

Nope.

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Getting to Know John Martin

One thing I always hear from readers of my Southern Secrets Saga is, “I hate John Martin!”

If you’ve not yet started on the series, don’t worry. I won’t post any spoilers here. What I will tell you is how John became the man everyone despises.

First, I want you to envision the most attractive man you’ve ever seen. The one with perfect features and a flawless well-kept body. He never has one hair out of place, and it’s the thick kind every woman wants to run her fingers through. His deep blue, bedroom eyes easily captivate their victims. His good looks embolden him. But his devilish behavior started when he was much younger than he was the first time he’s introduced in Consequences, Southern Secrets Saga Book 2.Consequences Cover

John was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. His parents died when he was only three, and he was raised by his uncle, Theodore.  The man was a well-respected businessman, who traveled a great deal.

Until John reached his teens, he was reared by a nanny and rarely saw his uncle. But when Theodore realized his nephew was himself becoming a man, he decided to begin teaching him the ways of the world. He took John with him on every business trip.

Theodore never married, nor had children. No longer a fussy, childish brat, John became the son he’d longed for. He looked to Theodore for guidance and showed him the utmost respect.

Theodore taught him the joy of having wealth and ways to attain it in business by bending the law. His deviousness excited John, and led him to study the law further, eventually pursuing a career as an attorney.

By the time John turned sixteen, Theodore decided he needed another lesson in life. One that brought even more gratification. On his birthday, he treated him to a fine dinner, including champagne. When they returned to their hotel room that night, John was surprised to be met by an attractive woman. Theodore excused himself for a ‘much-needed walk’ and left John alone with her. She took away all of his innocence and taught him what his body had been made for. The woman was skilled, able, and of course, very well-paid.

She boosted John’s ego by telling him what a handsome and desirable young man he was. The flattery stayed with him. From then on, he stood taller and walked with his shoulders back. Her compliments were affirmed when every woman he passed took a second look. After tasting one woman, he always wanted more. Desire never left him.

His uncle noticed the change and praised him for it. They frequented out-of-the-way bordellos, but Theodore cautioned him to be discreet. Eventually, they knew enough women at every business stop, so they were able to enlist bed partners without having to pay. Women willingly gave themselves, especially when the men insisted they were the only one.

At eighteen, John was a legal student working as an attorney’s aide in Mobile, Alabama. When the opportunity presented itself, Theodore left him there at a boarding house and went on his way doing his own business.

On a one-day excursion to the bay for some relaxation, John met Ruth Montgomery. Her southern charm captivated him, and she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She, too, was eighteen, but unlike him, unspoiled. Their youthful passion took hold and he bedded her. It took little on his part to entice her, but when she told her parents what they’d done, her father came after him with a shotgun and insisted he marry her.

John wasn’t ignorant. He’d learned that backwoods country folk would pull the trigger without a moment’s hesitation.

He moved with Ruth into a small house she’d inherited from the family, not far from Mobile Bay. Nine months later, their daughter, Claire, came into the world. Ruth was elated, but John was anything but that. He felt trapped. Not to mention, his studies had virtually gone by the wayside. He resented Ruth and eventually shunned her. She noticed the change and tried to make things better by showing overly affectionate behavior. It only angered him. The last thing he wanted was for her to conceive again.

He went to Mobile to take his law exams, in hopes of some kind of escape. While there, he met Elizabeth. A raven-haired beauty from the North, with the blackest eyes he’d ever seen. They shared political views and interest in the law. No trace of a southern drawl passed her ruby red lips. She was not only intelligent, but well-spoken. Everything about her made him realize what was lacking with Ruth.

When he discovered that Elizabeth came from a wealthy family in Connecticut, nothing kept him from pursuing her. She was his way north again. She had the money to fund his career, and the intelligence to keep his mind satisfied. Her beautiful body would satiate his other needs.

John led her to believe that there was nothing tying him to Alabama. He discreetly sent Ruth a certificate of divorce. Her family urged her to sign it. They despised him and knew she’d be better off without him.

For the ten years he and Elizabeth were married, he remained faithful to her. But when she died, he returned to his old ways, and never looked back. He took satisfaction from any woman he wanted. Of course, he still told each one that they were special. The only one for him.

His uncle had taught him well.

 

John has a tendency to pop up in some of my other books. He’s in my contemporary novel, A Golden Life, and he also has a brief cameo in, From the Ashes of Atlanta. I thought you might enjoy reading it. No matter where John goes, his devilish character is unmistakable.

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Ashes of Atlanta CoverThe man approaching him was finely dressed, fitting in perfectly with the extravagant fixtures. Business suit, top hat, and looks that caused every woman he passed to turn her head. And, it was obvious he liked the attention. He smiled at each one in turn, regardless of whether or not they had a man accompanying them. But oddly enough, he appeared to be heading to the seat beside Jeb.

“May I?” the man asked, pointing to the empty seat.

Why not? Jeb wouldn’t be carrying on a conversation with the man, and he seemed harmless enough. So, he nodded, and the man sat.

“Thank you.” He leaned in and Jeb got a whiff of cologne. He smiled inwardly, thinking of Katherine’s ‘skunk.’ But it was nothing to smile about. Gwen would be marrying the skunk in less than six hours.

“I heard the conductor,” the man said. “I know you can’t speak, but it’s to my benefit. I tend to find myself sitting beside a woman who can’t keep her mouth shut. For the most part, I listen, and often times I’m rewarded for my attentions.” He wiggled his brows. “I’m certain you understand my meaning. But today, I need to watch myself. Not get carried away.” A sly grin curled the man’s lips. He removed his hat and placed it in his lap, then primped his hair. Never before had Jeb seen a man so concerned over his appearance.

He should have told him ‘no.’

Are all men from the north arrogant and rude in regards to women?

“My name’s Martin. John Martin. I’m an attorney.” He puffed out his chest and sat more upright.

An attorney. That explained the expensive suit. Jeb sighed. It wasn’t long ago that he answered to the name, ‘John.’

“My practice is in Bridgeport. So, if you’re ever there, or in need of legal help, look me up.”

The man’s arrogance oozed from every part of his body. One of the ladies, who had watched him pass by, turned to look at him. He acknowledged her with a slight lift of his head and one raised eyebrow. She covered her mouth, tittered, and then faced forward.

“That one shows promise,” he said through the side of his mouth, “but I dare not. I’m meeting a woman in Buffalo.” He cupped his hand over the side of his mouth. “For a tryst.”

Was this man always so bold? Talking to a complete stranger about his personal life? Maybe he thought he would be impressed, or did he simply find Jeb to be nonthreatening?

“You’re a handsome young man,” Mr. Martin said, rubbing his chin. “Even with your impairment. May I give you some advice?”

This could be interestin’….

“Circus women.”

What?

Jeb’s face must have shown his confusion, because Mr. Martin laughed aloud. An arrogant, sophisticated sort of laugh.

“I’m personal friends with Mr. P.T. Barnum. Phineas Taylor Barnum. I’m certain you’ve heard of him. Well…he knows all sorts of interesting people, and women with unique talents. Of course that mermaid was a hoax, but she brought him incredible wealth.”

Jeb nodded, intrigued by the man’s story. Not to mention that it took his mind off of Gwen and helped the time to pass.

Mr. Martin leaned in again. “He introduced me to a contortionist. I highly recommend that every man should give one a try. At least once. They can move their bodies in ways that you can’t even begin to imagine.”

Intriguing or not, Jeb couldn’t take another minute. He grabbed his cane and rose to his feet.

“Oh.” Mr. Martin looked up at him. “Do you need to use the facilities?”

Jeb scowled at the man, and stepped by him and into the aisle. Glancing toward the rear of the car, he spotted an empty seat, and made his way toward it. He pitied the woman in Buffalo and hoped she knew what kind of a man he was.

 

Free Download Dec. 8th-10th!

For a limited time, Deceptions, Southern Secrets Saga, book 1, is available to download for free! This is your chance to step into the lives of five families who are learning to live and love again after a war that tore apart our nation. I hope they’ll touch your heart.

Those of you who are already fans of this series know that it takes you on a roller coaster ride of emotions, with many unexpected twists and turns. True to life, things aren’t always pretty. However, I always strive for happy endings.

https://www.amazon.com/Deceptions-Southern-Secrets-Saga-Book-ebook/dp/B0139LASFS

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Wonderful Holiday Reads!

It’s that time of year, when it’s fun to cozy up with a good book and something hot to drink. So, I decided to recommend a few books that will help warm you up from the inside out.

From ‘sweet’ romance writer, Darcy Flynn, Seven Days in December.

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Elementary school teacher, Nikki Carpenter, packs her bags and heads to a friend’s cabin in the Rocky Mountains for the holidays. Not only does she need an escape from her busy work schedule, it’s time to start healing. Time to say goodbye to her late husband and begin living again.

Traynor Michaels needs time to think. Between his current girlfriend pressuring him to get married, and his sister’s constant matchmaking efforts, he’s more than ready for a few days alone in his family’s one-room mountain cabin.

Double booked and trapped together during a blizzard, frustration sets them both on edge. Traynor is immediately attracted to the gorgeous Nikki. But her affinity for lists and the habitual twisting of her wedding band proves beyond annoying, until he realizes something deeper is going on. As for Nikki, the handsome man sleeping on the sofa just messed up her plans, yet he may hold the key to her finding Christmas again.

You can purchase Seven Days in December here: https://amzn.com/B019O2LVIO E-book is just $1.99!

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Now, if you want to go from sweet to spicy, here are a couple books from author, Cynthia Gail, that will warm you all the way to your toes!

First, a romance set in Nashville, Tennessee, Winter’s Magic.

Owner of La Bella Vita, a five-star day spa nestled in the affluent suburbs of Nashville, Tennessee, Beth winters-magicSergeant knows her elite clientele first hand. She attended their private schools. She was even engaged, although briefly, to one of their most recognized bachelors. But she never fit in to their social-elite world.

After losing his parents to a car accident at a young age, Nick Chester was raised by his grandfather, the wealthiest man in Nashville. When he chooses to socialize, he has a never-ending list of exclusive events and beautiful women vying for his attention. Yet he never lets himself forget that everyone has an agenda.

Beth can’t resist Nick’s charm and accepts an invitation to dinner, despite her deep-seated insecurities. She proves she’s nothing like other women Nick’s dated and learns to trust him in return. But just as the last of their resistance crumbles and true love is within reach, challenges from Nick’s past threaten to destroy everything and force Beth to reveal her most guarded secret.

You can purchase Winter’s Magic here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B009WEFVLI

 

Perhaps you’d rather escape to another country for a bit of Christmas-time romance. How about Paris?

Cynthia Gail’s, A Paris Christmas, will take you there.

a-paris-christmasBillionaire Nicholas Adrien Rousseau works seven days a week. He lives on a schedule, doesn’t like surprises, plans his days, and outlines his goals. Until an irresistible blonde slides into the backseat of his Mercedes, mistaking him for the driver of the car service provided by his company, Bridal Bliss.

Bella Rose is late for the airport. The opportunity to turn Creative Couture into an International marketing firm is a dream come true, but if she doesn’t catch the last flight home to the states, she’ll miss Christmas Eve with her family.

Two strangers with an attraction that could melt an iceberg, are stranded in the heart of Paris, the city of light and love. When Bella throws caution to the wind, deciding to accept the spontaneity life has thrown her and enjoy the journey, she never imagines it will lead to the man of her dreams. Adrien realizes too late that by hiding his identity, he could lose the one woman who loves the man and not the money.

E-book is just .99 cents! You can purchase it here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B018LGRH32

 

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As for my own books, both of my series have Christmas chapters, so if you want some lengthy reads, start with book one of my Southern Secrets Saga, Deceptions, or perhaps book one of the River Romance Series, Marked. Buy links for all my books are found by clicking the books tab above and scrolling down to the book you’re interested in.

For this special blog, I’m featuring my slightly unusual, yet magical tale, A Golden Life. Not only does it take place over Thanksgiving and Christmas, it, too, is a bit on the spicy side, and will take you on emotional roller coaster. You’re sure to laugh, and likely cry. But like all my books, it has a happy ending.

In the beautiful mountain setting of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, something unusual is about to happen…agoldenlifenew_850

Traci Oliver may be a best-selling romance author, but for the first time in her writing career, she can’t type a word on the blank page. Book number fifty is supposed to be her best ever—her golden book—but inspiration joined her husband in the grave. How can she write about love with a shattered heart?

At the precise moment of the anniversary of his death, a knock on her door changes everything.

Characters from her books take on human form and tell her they’ve come to help her. Of course, she doubts her sanity. Are they real, or has she lost her mind? When she lands smack dab in the middle of one of her own love scenes, she assumes the latter.

Her doctor says grieving is a process, but she never dreamed that part of the process would bring her heroes to life. She wonders if all people experience this kind of thing, or is it a weird phenomenon reserved solely for romance writers? Truthfully, the only hero she wants is her husband, and she can never be with him again.

Or maybe she can…

You can purchase A Golden Life by clicking here: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B017Z6CREI

 

I wish you all happy holidays, and very soon, a more-than-merry Christmas!

Joyful reading!

 

 

 

Getting to Know Victoria O’Malley

Victoria O’Malley is by far the most complex character I’ve ever written. Beautiful, bratty, bold, and believe or not, she does have a heart. This gorgeous redhead is featured on more of my covers than any other characters.

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For those of you who’ve followed her journey in my Southern Secrets Saga, don’t worry, I’m not going to reveal any spoilers! But, I thought I’d give you a chance to get to know her better. Find out what makes her tick.

Raised as only child by some of the wealthiest people in Mobile, Alabama, she led a life of leisure. As a ‘Daddy’s girl,’ she was given anything and everything she wanted, and rarely told ‘no.’ As she grew into a woman, she used her beauty to entice people outside her family to accommodate all her pleasures.

Unfortunately, her striking looks lead her into the arms of a man who’s abusive and self-absorbed. Handsome and wealthy in his own right, she believes he’ll be her perfect mate. Passion and lust drive their relationship. She mistakes it for love and eventually pays the price.

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Raised as a Catholic, Victoria attended St. Mary’s parish in Mobile, Alabama. She faithfully went to Sunday Mass and weekly confession. The priest’s concern grew, the older she got. Things she revealed in the confessional remained with him and God, but weighed heavy. He did all he could to guide her, but Victoria’s headstrong ways took her down her own path. Besides, as she frequently reminded people, no matter what she did, she’d be forgiven once she confessed. In her mind, that made her as clean and pure as snow.

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She attended Catholic school, and it was there that she attained her sophisticated southern drawl. Though her parents were Irish, with heavy brogues, she displayed no trace of it. She wanted to sound like the other girls in her class, so she mimicked them. Besides, she found that men preferred hearing the lilt of a true Southern Belle. Drawing their attention was by far her greatest pleasure, and her ultimate purpose in life.

Her mother was another major influence. Beautiful like her daughter, Shannon O’Malley passed her wisdom on to Victoria. When she advised Victoria to judge a man by the size of his wallet, Victoria took it to heart. Genuine love and respect was never considered.

Here’s a little secret some of you may not know …

Victoria made her first appearance in a different series. In book three of my River Romance series, you’ll meet her as a pre-teen.

Here’s a teaser from “Forgotten.”

“Be with you in a minute, Miss O’Malley,” Jake yelled. He scratched at his full beard, then bent low over the counter. “Banker’s daughter,” he whispered. “One a my best customers.”

Brian chuckled, then glanced at the girl. She could easily have been Margaret Mitchell’s daughter. Same red hair and striking features. “She’s very pretty.”

“Just turned eleven.” Jake shook his head. “She’ll break hearts one day.”

Brian agreed. To be that young and already well put together indicated she’d blossom into something extraordinary.

He wanted to get down to business, but Jake seemed more interested in gossip. “That dress,” he said through the side of his mouth. “Twelve dollars. Came from overseas.”

Brian gasped. Twelve dollars for one dress? Silk and lace. Not something any ordinary girl would put on for casual daywear. Even Hannah’s attire wasn’t this expensive-looking. Impractical during a war.

As if she knew they were talking about her, the girl came to the counter. She tipped her head coyly and batted her eyes. “Who’s the new boy?” Her southern drawl was thick but refined, and though she posed the question to Jake, her eyes were on Brian.

Boy? I’m no boy.

Now that she’d moved closer, she was even more beautiful. Her eyes were deeper green than his.

“Miss O’Malley,” Jake said. “This here’s Brian. He works for Mr. Bradley over at that new hotel they’re buildin’.”

Brian nodded at her and smiled.Forgotten 850

“A carpenter?” She stuck her nose in the air and grunted.

“Yes.” He pulled his shoulders back. Her beauty rapidly diminished.

“Victoria!”

Brian faced the shrieking woman. This redhead was a grownup version of the girl. Dress and attitude. For all the women he’d met in Mobile who had his features, surely a relative had to be in the city.

“What, Mama?” Victoria rolled her eyes.

“Your father is waitin’.” Mrs. O’Malley’s Irish brogue caught Brian off guard.

“But I haven’t had time to buy something,” Victoria pouted.

Mrs. O’Malley took the girl by the hand. “There’s always a first time.” She smiled at Brian, then nodded to Jake. “Good day, Mr. Parker.”

I hope this little snippet has piqued your curiosity. Unlike my saga, which sometimes leaves you hanging at the end of a volume, the River Romance books can be read as single titles. Each book comes to a conclusion. Still, I’d highly recommend that you start with book one, “Marked.” The series follows a family in Tennessee, and you’ll get to know each family member a bit better by starting at the beginning.

I enjoy linking characters in my books. Even if they skip over to a different series. There’s a surprising brief ‘cameo’ from one of my Southern Secrets characters in my single title, “From the Ashes of Atlanta.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this insight into Victoria. She’s the girl you love to hate, but she worked her way into my heart and hopefully yours, too. I’ve shed many tears for her. And that’s another story . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

They Seem So Real!

I’m suffering from a chapped nose. No, I don’t have a cold. Yes, I sometimes have allergies, but that’s not the reason either.

I just finished writing a difficult chapter. I can usually knock out a chapter a day, but this one took three. Along with half a box of tissues.

I tell myself all the time that I’m not crazy. Maybe that in itself is a little nuts. Then, I’m reminded of one of my favorite movie scenes from “Romancing the Stone.” Author, Joan Wilder, is hunting for tissues. Sobbing over what she’s written.

When I first saw that film over thirty years ago, I wasn’t a writer. At least, not an author of novels. But now that I am, I get it! When my characters hurt, I hurt. Thus, the tears.

I’ll never forget the first time someone told me that my characters seemed real. Probably one of the best compliments I’ve ever received. They’re certainly real to me. Otherwise, why would I cry for them? Why would I care so much?

I recently had a great conversation with a reader who’s on Book 3 of my Southern Secrets Saga. She talked to me about things that were happening in the story and asked a few questions. But mostly, we talked about the characters and how much we love them. I felt like we were discussing long-time mutual friends. At one point, she apologized for going on so long about the books. Oh, my goodness! There definitely had been no need for that, and I told her so. It was fun! I doubt she realized how she’d made my day.

I’m glad the imaginary people I bring to life feel real. I’m afraid that if they weren’t relatable, the story would fall flat. A reader should be able to walk hand in hand with the characters and experience what they’re going through. Good and bad. Emotion is healthy. I just wish I could spare my nose!

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