Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Wednesday Promo- Jennie Marsland
I'm pleased to welcome historical romance author Jennie Marsland to my blog.
I’m a teacher, a painter, a musician and, for over thirty years, a writer. I fell in love with words at a very early age and the affair has been life-long. I enjoy writing songs and poetry as well as fiction. I live in Nova Scotia with my husband, our cats Patch and Emily and our Duck-Tolling Retriever, Chance.
Why do you write historical romance?
First I want to say thank you for having me here today, Paty. As for why I write historical romance, I’ve always been fascinated by history. There’s an archaeologist buried in me somewhere. Glimpses of the past spark my imagination. I have a lot of admiration for the resilience, resourcefulness and plain old backbone of our forebears, and I think the troubled global economy is leading us back to those values. I want to write stories that reflect that, stories about ordinary people who face adversity in a positive way.
I think more than ever people want to believe in lasting love, commitment, and happily ever after. They might be rare in real life, but they do exist – at least I believe they do, which makes me a romantic at heart.
How did you come up with the premise or characters for this story?
I guess all the Louis L’Amour and Zane Grey Westerns I read as a kid had been perking away in my subconscious, because Trey McShannon came to me out of the blue in a moment of inspiration. I was on a school camping trip, and the kids had gone canoeing. I’d stayed behind to watch the few who were still at the campsite. I was sitting there enjoying the peace and quiet of a beautiful September afternoon when Trey just materialized in my mind. I knew what he looked like, what he sounded like, where he came from and what drove him. The only thing I could find to write on was paper towel, so I grabbed three sheets and a pencil and started scribbling. I still have that paper towel tucked away. When I got home from the trip, I started writing and when I came up for air I had a book.
What project are you working on now?
I’m working on a prequel to Chance, entitled McShannon’s Heart. It’s the story of Trey’s twin sister Rochelle. Their mother dies just before the outbreak of the Civil War, and Chelle emigrates with her father to his old home in Yorkshire. She leaves a fiancé behind in Georgia, but finds herself attracted to Dales farmer who is also a talented musician. Meanwhile her fiancé is fighting for the Confederacy and her twin for the Union. Not an easy time for an eighteen-year-old girl. I’m about two thirds of the way through the book and hope to have it finished by the fall.
Trey McShannon survived the carnage of the Civil War, only to discover that the deepest wounds are those to the heart. A traitor to his home state of Georgia, Trey has built a new life for himself in the untamed Colorado Territory. Now it’s time to find a wife to share the future he’s worked so hard for – but can he free himself from his past?
Beth Underhill is looking for choices. Needing to marry to escape being sent back East, she prefers Trey’s honest business proposal to false promises of love. Can a union between a man who isn’t sure he can still feel love, and a woman who doesn’t believe it exists, blossom into more than a marriage of convenience?
Beth turned to the store window and watched the man she’d agreed to marry walk toward her.
Twenty-seven years old, six feet tall, dark hair and eyes. She’d described herself to him in similar meaningless terms. She supposed he’d find them as inadequate as she did.
His rangy frame could have carried more weight, but he had the muscle of a man who did physical work. His long, quick stride suggested latent energy. The way he wore his faded denim work pants collarless homespun shirt and battered cloth cap made her think he rarely dressed any other way. She would have guessed him to be over thirty; there wasn’t much of youth about him.
That impression didn’t change when he stepped into the store. Long, thick dark lashes shadowed his molasses-colored eyes, set deep under heavy brows. His straight, wayward, near-black hair needed a trim. The stubble on his angular jaw didn’t make him any less intimidating.
“Excuse me, Miss, are you Beth Underhill?”
He spoke coolly, almost to the point of curtness, with a bare hint of a drawl. Beth’s stomach jolted when their eyes met. She swallowed and caught hold of the edge of a shelf to stop herself from stepping back. Idiot, say something. When she found her voice, it sounded odd and distant to her ears.
“Yes. You must be Trey McShannon.”
It helped that he looked as uncomfortable as she felt. Beth held out her hand. Warm, callused fingers closed around hers and released.
“I am. How was the trip out? The road can be bad in the spring.”
“It wasn’t too bad.”
The clerk stood behind the counter looking from one to the other, avidly curious. The corners of Trey’s mouth tugged upward with subtle amusement as he handed her a list.
“Could you put this together for me, June? We’ll pick it up in twenty minutes or so.” Without saying anything more, he picked up Beth’s bags and walked out.
With a glimmer of mischief, Beth turned to the counter. Since June was bound to talk, why not give her something to talk about?
“Will you please add something to that order? A couple of pairs of waist overalls. My size.”
June nodded. Beth turned and followed Trey, leaving the woman staring after her.
Trey crossed the street to a wagon drawn by a team of fine black Percherons. He put the bags in the back. When he turned around, Beth spoke first. She usually reacted to fear by charging ahead, and something about this man rattled her. After five years in the marriage market, she hadn’t thought that was possible.
“I thought we might as well see the minister while we’re in town, unless you’d rather wait a few days.” If he gives me a chance to back out, I will.
His appraising glance made her feel like squirming. He didn’t seem the least bit impressed with what he saw. Men didn’t often react to Beth that way. Graham would have said it was good for her.
As if he’d been looking at nothing more interesting than the goods in the store window, Trey turned away. “The church is this way.”
Beth arched an eyebrow at his back. Mr. McShannon seemed to have a pretty high opinion of himself.
“Of course. I’m not blind. I can see the steeple as well as you can.”
* * * *
Trey had a quick and to-the-point conversation with himself on the way down the street. He wouldn’t look at her, but that didn’t dull his awareness of the woman walking beside him, with her big blue-gray eyes under dark lashes, pale, creamy, freckle-dusted skin, and heavy knot of burnished auburn hair. Her softly curving mouth matched the slight but sweet figure in her navy blue dress. She reminded him of Cathy Sinclair at home, a lifetime ago in another world. Trey had spent plenty of time wondering what Beth would look like, but he’d never come close to the reality.
You’ve made a big mistake, Mister. This girl belongs serving tea back in Denver. Too pretty and way too soft to be out here. Get out while you still can.
But you made a deal.
Unmake it. She had no business answering your letter.
No woman who looked like that had any business writing to a mail-order bride agency. Her letters hadn’t given him any indication that she would be anything but, well, ordinary ....I want to be perfectly honest with you, Mr. McShannon. After the recent death of my aunt I find myself in need of a home. I have no other family except my cousin, who has a growing family of his own. My aunt’s home now passes to him and he wishes to sell it. He has offered me a home with his family, but we have never been close and I would prefer to find some other arrangement. I must do this soon, as he wishes to proceed with the sale as quickly as possible . . .
What had he been expecting, then? She’d told him she hadn’t done much housekeeping, but he’d pictured someone whose mother—aunt, he corrected himself—had done most of the work while she looked on. He doubted if Beth could boil water, and he’d bet his farm that she’d never set foot in a one-room cabin with a dirt floor before. Trey didn’t want a drudge, but he’d sent for a wife because the cattle and horses alone made more than enough work for him. He needed someone who could look after the house at least, and Miss Underhill wouldn’t have a clue.
By the time they reached the church, he’d primed himself to tell her he was sorry and he’d pay her fare home, but he didn’t get the chance. Reverend Baxter happened to be on the roof replacing some damaged shingles. He dropped his hammer and climbed down to meet them.
“Hello, Trey, good to see you. Who’s the young lady?” Blond and balding, the minister pulled a pair of round-rimmed glasses from his shirt pocket, put them on and held out his hand to Beth.
Amid a swirl of conflicting emotions, Trey managed a civil answer. “This is Beth Underhill from Denver, Reverend. Beth, this is Reverend Baxter.”
“Pleased to meet you, Miss Underhill.”
Trey looked down in embarrassment, wishing he’d shown her as much appreciation. Beth glanced at him, then dropped her gaze as she shook Reverend Baxter’s hand.
“ Likewise.” Trey’s heart lurched when he saw her take a deep breath. She wasn’t going to leave him a way out. “Reverend, I—we have a favor to ask you.”
Reverend Baxter gave Beth his most charming smile. “Oh? What’s that? It’ll be a pleasure I’m sure.”
“Well. . .we’d like you to marry us.”
“Marry you? Today?” His smile disappeared. Trey’s face heated. The man’s first thought would be that Beth was in trouble. “Why didn’t you give me some notice?”
No backing out now unless I want to look like a prize ass. It’s a year . . . if she holds on that long . . . and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in hell of that. Trey kept his explanation brief. “Miss Underhill and I met by correspondence. She’ll be staying with me while we decide if we want to make this permanent. You understand, Reverend.”
There wasn’t much Reverend Baxter could say. He ushered Beth toward the church and gave Trey a perplexed glance behind her back. “Yes . . . yes, I understand. Come inside.”
They stopped a passer-by to act as a witness, entered the church and walked up the dimly lit aisle between the rows of rough, low-backed pine pews. Trey felt like an actor in a play when Reverend Baxter took his Bible from the pulpit and turned to face them. The minister looked as if he felt the same way as he glanced from Trey to the bride.
“Do you have a ring?”
Trey reached into his shirt pocket. “Yes, I do.”
“Very well. Join hands.”
He reached for Beth’s left hand. Soft and well tended, it trembled in his. Trey’s palms dampened and his manhood stirred at the thought of her willing fingers gliding over his skin. Jesus. She might well be used to the way she affected a man, but he sure as hell wasn’t.
Beth looked as pale as milk in the late afternoon light slanting through the plain window behind her. Was she afraid of him? Disappointed? If so, Trey couldn’t blame her. This certainly wasn’t the wedding she’d have dreamed of. Why on earth had she written him? She must have gotten offers from men who could give her a lot more. Shame pricked him again. He could have groomed himself up a bit.
At least she’s seeing you the way you look every day. Spite, naiveté, a misguided yearning for adventure - whatever her reasons, no one had forced her to do this. As for dreams, Trey preferred to do without them.
They didn’t make eye contact during the brief ceremony. Trey slipped the ring on Beth’s finger and Reverend Baxter pronounced them man and wife. They thanked him, shook hands with the witness, and walked out.
You can purchase this book May 21st from the Mystic Moon Press bookstore, and also from Fictionwise, Mobipocket and Amazon, though there may be a slight delay there (a little longer for Amazon.)
You can learn more about Jennie at http://jenniemarsland.com/