Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Cynthia Owens: My Dark Rose

A warm welcome to romance author Cynthia Owens, a regular visitor to Across the Plain of Shining Books. Cynthia returns today with an excerpt from My Dark Rose, coming soon from Highland Press. Cynthia’s stories include well-researched history, and she’s sharing some fascinating facts with us today. Cynthia, the Plain is yours!

Of First Dates and Self-Doubt

Hello again, Pat! I’m so thrilled to be back on the Plain, and to talk about My Dark Rose. It’s Book III of the Wild Geese Series, and features a wonderful cast of endearing characters.

I have to confess right here and now that I fell just a little bit in love with Dary Greely, the hero of the story. And it had nothing to do with the fact that he bears a striking resemblance to Liam Neeson—well, okay, maybe it did. But only a little. Because Dary is such an all-around nice guy. If you’ve read the first two Wild Geese books, then you know he’s everyone’s friend, the easy-going member of the group, the one with the sense of humor and the ability to smooth things over.

But Dary’s also a romantic, and when he falls for a girl, he falls hard. When he glances up to see the "Galway Rose" and hears her sing at Paddy Ryan’s Pub (the preferred hang-out of the Wild Geese) he’s immediately hooked.

But it takes a while for Róisín Donavan to warm up to him. She’s just an Irish immigrant girl, living in a tenement flat in New York’s Five Points district. She’s a lady’s companion by day and sings comeallyes (Irish folk songs) in a pub by night. Dary, though he’s Irish too, owns his own business, Greely Building Works. He lives in a brownstone and has more money than Róisín can even imagine. He’s well-dressed and well-spoken. He’s far above a girl like her, even if she weren’t already encumbered with five younger brothers and sisters.

But Dary’s also determined, and when he sees something—or someone—he wants, he goes out and gets it. He wants Róisín, and he’ll do whatever it takes to win her.

So he begins to woo her, slowly, with sweet words and soft kisses and roses. And one night, he invites her to have dinner with him and some of his friends at Delmonico’s.

Manhattan’s Delmonico’s Restaurant was one of New York’s top fine dining restaurants of the 19th and early 20th Century. Known for its famous Delmonico’s steak, it’s also credited with being the first American restaurant to allow patrons to order from an á la cart menu and the first to employ a separate wine list.

Aside from the steak, some of Delmonico’s signature dishes included Lobster Newburg, Baked Alaska, and Manhattan Clam Chowder. And one other dish, which caused Róisín a few moment’s of anxiety: Delmonico Potatoes. When Lydia MacDermott recommends the potatoes to the very Irish Róisín, she thinks she’s making fun of her Irish roots. But when she gets a taste of them… Well, come along with Dary and Róisín and their friends, on a star-strewn evening to a restaurant with snowy white tablecloths, gleaming silver and sparkling dishes. And the cream of New York society.
* * * * *
Róisín smoothed her skirt in a vain effort to cover her nervousness as the carriage took them out to Brooklyn. Never in her life had she ridden is such a beautiful conveyance. She was almost afraid to lean back against the plush velvet squabs for fear of soiling them, but she did allow her fingers to brush back and forth the against the gossamer softness of the material.

The ride was all too short, and by the time they pulled up in the drive before the MacDermott house, her hands shook and her breath came in short puffs.

"Rose." Dary took her cold hand and squeezed it. "Relax. I promise you, Shane and Lydia won’t bite." When she only gazed at him, wide-eyed and mouth quivering, he smiled and ran his knuckles along her cheek. His touch warmed away some of her terror. "They’re friendly, easy people. I promise they’ll love you just as I do."

Oh, if only she could believe him! She mustn’t do anything to embarrass Dary before his friends.

She watched, trepidation clogging her throat, as Dary’s friends emerged from the wide oak doors and approached the carriage. Oh, they were so elegant! Was that a real fur draped so carelessly around Lydia’s shoulders? And those were diamonds hanging from her ears, sparkling and twinkling in the soft gaslight…

She managed a tremulous smile as the carriage slowed to a stop in front of the most elegant eating house in New York.

Dary took her suddenly icy hand in his, and even through the gloves she’d borrowed from Clara, she could feel the warmth of his fingers on hers like a lightning bolt. He helped her down from the carriage as if she were made of spun glass, his eyes never leaving her face. She felt…cherished. Treasured.


She looked up at him, caught in the glow of his emerald gaze. "Milady." His husky voice shivered along her skin. "Your table awaits."

Only then did she allow her glance to stray to the restaurant window, ablaze with candlelight, and inhale the sensual aromas that drifted on the night air. Elegantly dressed men and women occupied delicate chairs at tables dressed in white linen.

Let the magic begin.

Thank the Lord, the host…or maitre d’hotel, as Nuala said he was called…didn’t bat an eyelash at her as he led them to a table draped in snowy linen and set with fine crystal glasses and so many gleaming silver forks she just knew she’d get them mixed up.

But as Shane held Lydia’s chair for her, the other woman sent her a reassuring smile. A real smile, with nothing but genuine friendliness behind it. Lydia actually seemed to like her, seemed to enjoy her company. The Celtic knot in Róisín’s stomach loosened a little.

She inhaled deeply. The scent of fine food mingled with ladies’ perfume made her slightly dizzy. And the gowns! Ah, Nuala’s eyes would pop out of her head if she saw them. Candlelight sparkled off rings, necklaces, earbobs and bracelets.

How would she ever fit in here, in her street-stall gown and borrowed gloves?

"You must try the famous Delmonico’s potatoes, Róisín," Lydia told her as she began to study her menu. "They’re quite delightful."

Róisín glanced up sharply, hot color stinging her cheeks, her bud of self-confidence withering. Was Lydia making fun of her humble Irish origins?

Shane’s chuckle indicated otherwise. "She’s right, Miss Donovan. Delmonico’s potatoes are the rare treat, indeed." He shot his wife a teasing grin. "They’re not boxty or colcannon, but they’re good enough to satisfy even a homesick Corkman like myself."

Róisín’s heart skipped a beat, her throat tightening with gratitude. Oh, could Shane be telling the truth? Did he, too, miss the green fields of Ireland, her soft mists and the sweet, tangy scent of turf that drifted on the air like clouds from Heaven itself?

Or was he merely saying that to make her feel easier?

Either way, sure, wasn’t it a kind thing for the man to do?

Róisín drew a deep breath and relaxed a wee bit. She’d trust these kind friends of Dary’s. She’d listen to Lydia’s gracious suggestions as to what to order. She’d accept Shane’s companionable teasing.

And she’d stop worrying that they might not enjoy her company.

And yet, she watched Lydia, trying despite herself to copy her manners. She took tiny bites of her iceberg salad and afterward, her blue crab cake, deliciously flavored with tomato, ginger and peaches.

When the main course of steak and Delmonico’s potatoes arrived, Shane shot her a teasing grin. Her mouth dried, and it was all she could do to keep her hand from shaking as she scooped up a forkful of the fluffy whipped vegetables.

"Shane, stop it!" Lydia regarded her husband with laughing gray eyes. "How would you feel if someone watched you like a hawk as you devoured my apple pie?"

Róisín sent her a grateful glance and took a bite. Oh, what perfection! The perfectly seasoned potatoes simply burst on her tongue, melted in her mouth.

"Sure, wasn’t I after tellin’ you, Róisín? Are they not almost as good as the praties at home?"
* * * * *
Book Blurb:
…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…

He was the lucky one…

Dary Greely is the only one of his brothers and sisters to survive the hunger in Ireland and the coffin ship to America. He was the one whose parents made a bit of money, the one who emerged from the war virtually unscathed. He was the lucky one…but when the war ended, his luck ran out.

She was burdened by too many responsibilities…
Róisín Donavan is an Irish girl who lives in a Five Points tenement room. She dreams of a future as a great diva and sings Irish songs at Paddy Ryan's Pub. But her stubborn Irish pride won't allow her to abandon her family, even if it means sacrificing everything for them.

Can Dary make Róisín see her true worth? Can Róisín heal the festering wounds that tear at Dary’s soul? And can love truly mend their grieving hearts?
* * * * *
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.

I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond, and The Wild Geese Series, in which five Irish heroes return from the American Civil War to find love and adventure.

I’m 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 teenaged children.
* * * * *


  1. Hi Pat, thanks so much for having me back at the Plain!

    1. Always a pleasure, Cynthia. I have to admit, your post today has me craving Delmonico potatoes. I do enjoy your history snippets. Best to you and My Dark Rose.

  2. Thank you for the excerpt. I enjoyed it much. Well done emotion. The Celtic knot in the stomach was a cool touch. I think I can relate to that Dary dude. Thanks for sharing. Hope your day is good, good, good. Rock 'n' Roll!!! Larry

  3. Hi Larry, thanks for visiting me here at The Plain. Glad you enjoyed the excerpt, I hope I captured Roisin's nervousness and Dary's determination to alleviate it. Have an awesome day!

  4. I loved the sensations throughout your excerpt, Cynthia-- the gossamer soft upholstery, the mouth-pleasing dishes. I was right there with Roisin, Dary and their friends!

    1. Thanks so much, Kate, that's the nicest thing an author can hear - that she's "put the reader inside the story." Thanks for the visit!