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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

 

Getting to Know Lily Larsen

In less than a week, book one of my latest saga will be released! I’m so excited to bring this story into the hands of readers. It’s been in my heart for a great while. From the first time I traveled the loop road around Cades Cove in the Smoky Mountains, the beautiful setting became a part of me. I do all I can to visit the Smokies at least once a year.

In anticipation of the release of “Whispers from the Cove,” I’d like to take this opportunity to introduce you to my heroine, Lily Larsen. Yes, she’s fictitious, but she represents the amazing people of the cove who worked hard and made a life for themselves in the mountains. Though Cades Cove is now part of a national park, when you travel there, you’ll step back in time and easily visualize what it must have been like to live in the beautiful, lush valley. Many of the cabins, churches, and other historical buildings remain. 

Lily Larsen was born February 23rd, 1847. The first child of many to Rose and Howard (Buck) Larsen. Labeled a ‘mountain girl’ from the time she took her first steps.

She followed her pa around their small farm and learned all she could from him and her ma. As she grew, and her siblings began to arrive, she understood the meaning of responsibility. Not only did she have an abundance of daily chores, she was also expected to help with the children.

Lily’s tough-as-nails demeanor made her perfect for mountain life. She feared nothing, including hard work.

The family farm thrived, thanks in part to Lily’s help. Her optimism kept her folks smiling and lifted the spirits of her brothers and sister. Her sister, Violet, became her dearest friend. Though their personalities differed, their bond couldn’t be stronger.

At the opening of “Whispers,” Lily is seventeen. Her hands aren’t soft, like those of pampered city girls. They’re callused, rough, and capable. She uses them to plow fields, skin wild game, and cuddle her youngest brother. Her heart is as big as her ambition, but she now has something to fear.

She’s become a beautiful young woman, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

The war between North and South is raging, and soldiers wearing both blue and gray arrive in the cove to find refuge and take whatever they want. They feel entitled to it. Some see the mountain women as spoils of war, and one particular rebel soldier has his eyes on Lily. She’s not naive by any means and knows his intentions are far from those of matrimony.

Even before the soldiers arrived, the war created other problems for her family. Her pa went off to fight, but returned home maimed. Now her folks have lost hope, but Lily’s determined to keep her family’s spirit alive and the farm somehow thriving. She’ll never allow herself to be defeated. That quality is one of her greatest traits.

She longs for love and a family of her own, but the war has made it impossible. Every day, she prays the fighting will end and life will become as it once was. Though they’ve had to struggle to survive, Lily certainly won’t give up hope. It’s not in her character.

 

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.

 

Tainted, River Romance Book 2

I’m excited to announce the release of the second book in my River Romance series! “Tainted” is now available for sale on Amazon! It’s currently in e-book form, and will soon be in print as well.

Be sure to check out the other books on my book tab, and if you’d like advance notice of upcoming releases, sign up for my newsletter by clicking on the newsletter tab.

Thank you for following me on this incredible literary journey!

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T5AN1K2

Tainted cover

Downton Abbey

I rarely watch TV these days. Most of my spare time is spent writing. I may squeeze in a movie every now and then, but rarely get hooked on a television series.

BUT…I’ve been jumping up and down celebrating the return of Downton Abbey!

I’ve always loved Jane Austen, and maybe this series is a bit “Austenesque.” Of course, the show is more contemporary than when her stories were set. Yet they’re still set in a time when women wore lovely dresses, and most gentleman behaved ‘gentlemanly.’ I could say it’s the romantic in me that draws me to this program, but it’s more than that. The characters drive the plot, and there’s more than just love stories. Enough more that my husband likes to watch it with me. It’s not a chick-flick stretched into a series. It’s an epic saga that we can’t seem to get enough of.

I admit we were unhappy at the loss of some of our favorite characters. My husband swore he wouldn’t watch another episode after the end of season three–I think he might have even thrown something at the TV–but we did, and we can’t wait to see what happens next.

I’m glad I finished up my edits on my current work in progress, and sent them to my editor yesterday. Because tonight I’m allowing myself a guilty pleasure–or maybe not so guilty! Downton Abbey is TV at its best, and I’m certainly not ashamed to say that I’m a fan.

DRWCANON20110829IMG1331w-M

A Part of History

Our world is imperfect. No one can argue that point. We all have different opinions on many topics, and I’m incredibly thankful that we live in a country where we have the freedom to speak our minds. Many people around the world are not given that freedom.

I also have the freedom to write what I choose. This is an amazing blessing. When I started my career as an author I was compelled to write about southern history. Mainly Civil War era. To date I’ve completed seven books that take place during that time. Some are before the war, some after, and one takes place during the war.

I understand that the industry shies away from this time period and that they currently don’t wish to promote it. I also understand how difficult it is to discuss racial tensions and some of the terrible things that transpired in our country’s past. But something deep inside of me pushed me to write these stories. I feel that I handle the issues with respect, but I also do my best to be historically accurate–even though I’m writing fiction. Many of the events that my books are centered around are true. I love to blend fact with fiction. I think it’s important to keep major events true to history.

I may be frowned upon for treading on tender subject matter, but I believe it’s important that we don’t forget how things used to be. Hopefully by remembering, we can prevent those horrific things from happening again. It’s also important to remember that no matter how horrible things might be, people always find a way to love each other. My stories have happy endings, just as I hope that everyone reading them will find in their own lives.

I will always grasp onto hope and believe in the power of love. And I thank God every day for my freedom.

 

Civil War

Should Have Gone There First

Sorry I’ve been absent on my blog again! Shame on me!

If any of you have ever orchestrated an estate sale, then you will understand that all my time was consumed. But now, I can breathe a relieved sigh, and get back to what I truly love…writing!!

In the midst of the craziness, my husband and I got away for a one-day trip to Chattanooga, TN. Beautiful city with a gorgeous downtown area and riverside. The purpose of the trip was to meet up with an old friend who now works with her husband on the American Queen and other steamboats. They’re both entertainers and have been working on the boats for the last fifteen years. (What a great job, huh?!)

Laura Sable and I used to do theater together. We hadn’t seen each other in twenty years! Of course, neither of us have aged. ;0)

So, here’s my advice to you. When you write a book about steamboats, and have only traveled on a pint-size one on a lake, it’s wise to take a tour of a REAL steamboat like the American Queen. Laura was one of my Beta readers on my book, “Marked.” The book takes place in 1850 on a Mississippi River steamboat. I researched via the internet as well as books and photos, but stepping aboard the luxurious boat was an experience I’ll never forget! There are things now that I know I could add to the descriptions in my book, (and I still can). I’m happy to say that both she and her husband, Bill read the book and told me that I got it right on the money. WHEW! And…they enjoyed it, which made me feel even better.

I know that we can’t always go to the places we write about, but it sure helps if you’re able. I use Google Earth frequently to check out landscape and such, but there is nothing like breathing the same air your characters breathe. I know…I can’t time travel, but I can use my vivid imagination to sense what it must have been like way back when. I’m a romantic at heart, and there’s something glorious about an elegant ship, and picturing ladies and gentleman in fine clothing cascading down the fanned stairway.

When I stepped into the dining hall, I felt like I’d walked into a scene from “Titanic.” We now want very much to travel by steamboat. And…I may have to write another book about them with all the new tidbits I’ve learned.

Thank you Laura and Bill for an amazing tour and adventure!

And to all of you working on your next masterpiece…step into the shoes of your characters, and walk where they walked.

WRITE ON!

All aboard!

All aboard!

Dining Room
Dining Room

Rollin' on the River!
Rollin’ on the River!