Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Cynthia Owens: Deceptive Hearts

Historical romance author Cynthia Owens returns to The Plain today to introduce her latest release, Deceptive Hearts. Lots of interesting history here, from Ireland’s Famine to America’s Civil War. Pull up a chair and enjoy. Welcome back, Cynthia!
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Hello everyone, and Pat, thanks so much for having me back on The Plain! I’m so pleased to introduce Deceptive Hearts, the first book in my new Wild Geese Series, which has just been released from Highland Press.

The Wild Geese Series revolves around five life-long friends who met on a coffin ship bound for America from famished Ireland. They grew up together on the mean streets of New York City, and when the American Civil War began, they joined up with Thomas Francis Meagher to fight with the Irish Brigade. But now the war is over they’re ready to re-start their lives – and find new love.

A Few Words About The Original Wild Geese
The term "Wild Geese" refers to the young men of Ireland forced to leave their beloved homeland for service in the armies of Europe and America. They are all the Irish men and women who have left Ireland for the freedom they could not achieve at home.

The first flight of the Wild Geese took place after the Battle of the Boyne in 1690. The Irish, under the command of Patrick Sarsfield, supported King James II, the Catholic King of England, in his fight against William of Orange. Upon losing their stronghold at Limerick in 1691, the Irish forces surrendered. According to the rules of warfare of the time, the victorious William gave Sarsfield a choice: return to his lands in Ulster and swear allegiance to Parliament and the new king, or take his army and leave Ireland forever. Sarsfield departed Ireland with 10,000 soldiers for service in France, and thus, the first flight of the Wild Geese had begun.

A second flight of the Wild Geese, as Shane and his friends see it, took place in the mid-19th Century, when An Gorta Mor (the Great Hunger) and the tyranny of the landlords drove the starving masses away from their beloved emerald shores, scattering the Irish to the four winds.

The Wild Geese Series is dedicated to those brave adventurers who sought a better life in the New World.

The Irish Brigade
An infantry brigade, the Irish Brigade was mostly made up of Irish Americans, who served in the army during the American Civil War. The Irish Brigade was well-known for its famous war cry, "Faugh a ballagh", meaning "clear the way". Only the 1st Vermont Brigade and the Iron Brigade suffered more combat deaths than the Irish Brigade during the American Civil War, according to Fox's Regimental Losses.

My Wild Geese heroes fought with the 69th New York Volunteers, the Fighting 69th, which was largely made up of the pre-war 69th New York Militia. The unit gained notoriety prior to the Civil War, when Colonel Michael Corcoran refused an order to parade the regiment for the Prince of Wales during his visit to New York City.

Under General Thomas Francis Meagher, the Irish Brigade fought bravely and won honor in many campaigns, including Bull Run, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Gettysburg.

The brigade suffered its most severe casualties in the battle of Fredericksburg, losing almost 1400 men. The brigade assaulted the sunken road in front of Marye's Heights, where another predominantly Irish regiment, under the command of Brigadier General Thomas Reade Rootes Cobb, defended the road. Knowing that Cobb's men manned the wall, and that both Cobb's and Meagher's units contained members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, an organization dedicated to gaining military experience in the United States and using it to free Ireland from Britain after the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee ordered reserves sent to the position.

He needn’t have worried. Before the reinforcements had time to settle into place, Cobb's men had devastated the Irish Brigade. It’s said that Lee allegedly referred to Meagher's regiment as the "Fighting 69th" at Fredericksburg.

My heroes fought for the Union, but many Irish fought for the Confederacy. Stories abound about Irishmen from a single village facing each other in battle.

And although The Wild Geese Series features heroes who fought with the Irish Brigade, they’re not my first I.B. veterans. Cavan Callaghan, hero of Coming Home, Book II of my Claddagh Series, was a hero at Antietam. He returned home to find he’d lost everything – his home, his family and the girl he loved. Leave a comment and you could win a signed copy of Coming Home, where you can read about Cavan’s search for the family he never knew.

About Deceptive Hearts
Deceptive Hearts is Shane MacDermott’s story. A former boxing champion and a hero at Bull Run, he returns to New York City to take up his old life as a member of the Metropolitan Police Force. When he meets Lydia Daniels, a beautiful, wealthy and mysterious society lady, he begins to suspect she’s running a high-class brothel from her elegant Gramercy Park home.

…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…

He survived war, and returned to devastation

A hero of the Irish Brigade, Shane MacDermott returned home to New York to find his family decimated and his world shattered.

She risks her life to save the people she loves
Lydia Daniels will risk anything to protect the women she shelters beneath the roof of her elegant Gramercy Park mansion—even if she has to trust the one man who can destroy her.

Shane and Lydia both harbor secrets that could destroy them – and put their lives in jeopardy. Can their love overcome their carefully guarded deceptive hearts?

The Atlantic Ocean, Black ’47

The ship Sally Malone bucked and groaned and almost upended him. Shane MacDermott halted in his tracks for the fraction of a second it took to steady himself before he scurried down the crowded passageway.

"Easy there, laddie." The gap-toothed old man reached out a bony hand to steady him. "These rough seas’ll knock ye off yer feet, sure as the devil."

Intent on his mission, Shane nodded a brief thanks and hurried on, carefully picking his way through the narrow, crowded aisle, one skeletal arm cupped protectively around the dipperful of warm, brackish water.

"All this rolling and tossing does make walking terrible difficult," another woman, one of the strange community that had sprung up in this miserable, stinking hole, commiserated.

Shane barely noticed, and didn’t speak. He had to bring the water for Da. Had to help Ma dribble the few drops through his parched lips, praying they might just break the terrible fever that held his father in its deathly grip.

His mother looked up at his approach, a smile lighting her haggard face. Shane looked at her closely and shook his head in sadness. She was that thin a gust of wind could blow her off the ship and away back to the Cove of Cork.

"Ah, my Shane, ‘tis a fine lad ye are." Ma’s blue, blue eyes, the only bit of color in her pale face, glowed with love as she took the dipper from his trembling hands.

He reckoned they’d been on this dreadful ship for five torturous weeks. Shane collapsed on the narrow wooden bunk, too weary to notice the miasma of vomit, urine and unwashed bodies. His younger brother and baby sister stared vacantly at him.

He gazed into their gaunt faces. They’d left Ireland for a better life in America, but a sudden terrible fear swept over him. Would any of them live to see it?

"Shane." His mother’s voice penetrated his terror. "Shane, yer da’s askin’ for ye."

Shane jumped up and hurried to the bunk where his father lay, his burly blacksmith’s frame shrunken, perspiration dotting his waxen forehead.

"Shane." Da reached out blindly. "Shane, me lad."

"I’m here, Da." Struggling to keep his voice steady, Shane clasped his father’s hand as tightly as he could. "I’m here."

"You’re a good lad, Shane," his father rasped around his swollen tongue. "Always…helped…me…"

Tears threatened to blind Shane, but he blinked them back furiously and swiped a grimy hand across his nose. He was ten years old now. He wouldn’t let Da see him cry!

He opened his mouth to speak, but all that emerged was a squeak. Da didn’t hear, for he was struggling to speak again.

"Look after them, son," he begged. His voice, once a hearty boom, was no more than a papery whisper as he struggled against the demon fever. But his dark eyes blazed with passion, searing Shane’s soul. "Look after…yer ma. Look after…the family. Help them…when ye get…to…Amerikay. Keep…them…safe."

"I will, Da," Shane vowed fiercely around the strangling lump in his throat. "I promise I’ll look out for Ma and the little ones."

"Love…ye, lad. Ye’re…me heart’s…pride…"

The tears he could hold back no longer coursed down Shane’s face as he watched his father’s eyes close for the last time.

And Shane MacDermott vowed he’d never—never—let anything harm another person he loved.
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About Cynthia Owens:
I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury "King’s Girl," one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of  Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.

My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.

A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. My novels, In Sunshine or in Shadow and Coming Home, set in post-Famine Ireland, are available from Highland Press. Playing For Keeps, the third book in the Claddagh series, is now available from Highland Press.

I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two school-aged children.
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Deceptive Hearts / Available from


  1. Pat, thanks so much for having me back here! This series marks a turning point in my writing career, and I'm so excited to share it with readers. I hope everyone who reads Deceptive Hearts loves Shane and Lydia as much as I do!

    1. A pleasure to have you back, Cynthia. Best of luck with this intriguing new series.

  2. Wonderful excerpt. Looks like another series I'm going to enjoy. Best of luck with your new release, Cynthia! I'm sure readers are going to love it. :)

    1. Thank you, Maeve, and so glad you enjoyed the excerpt! This is a very special story to me. I fell in love with Shane and Lydia, and I hope readers do, too! Thanks for visiting with me today!

  3. Hi Cynthia, I love the history that you shared with us. I am interested to know more , do you have a book in mind to recommend me. I have only read Book I of The Claddagh Series and loved it, so it would be fun to win Coming Home if it has a connection to The Wild Geese Series! Congratulations for the release of your new book.

    1. Hi Nicole, there are many books on both the Irish Brigade and the Wild Geese. I recommend you read "Princes of Ireland" followed by "Rebels of Ireland," both by a wonderful historical fiction writer named Edward Rutherfurd. These two books cover Ireland from pre-Christian times right up to the 1920's. Thanks for your good wishes, and for visiting me here on The Plain.

  4. I'm not usually a fan of historical fiction, but this has convinced me I'm missing out!

    1. Hi Myra, so pleased I've made a convert! ;) If you do decide to read "Deceptive Hearts," I hope you enjoy it. Thanks for stopping by to "meet" me!

  5. Pat, I want to thank you again for hosting me on The Plain. It was fun sharing Deceptive Hearts with everyone today, and I hope those who read the book really enjoy it.

    And the winner of a signed copy of Coming Home, Book II of The Claddagh Series, is ... Myra Duffy! Congratulations, Myra! Please e-mail me your snail mail address at, and I'll send you my prize.

    Finally, I'd like to thank everyone who visited me here at The Plain. I enjoyed chatting with each and every one of you. And I'll leave you with this favorite Irish blessing:

    May the road rise to meet you.
    May the wind be always at your back.
    May the sun shine warm upon your face;
    the rain fall soft upon your fields, and until we meet again,
    May God hold you in the hollow of his hand.

  6. Congratulations, Myra! And a big thank you to everyone who stopped by to help Cynthia celebrate her new release!