Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Cynthia Owens: Wishes of the Heart

A familiar face returns to The Plain today. Congratulations to historical romance author Cynthia Owens on the release of her latest book. Cynthia visits today with an excerpt from Wishes of the Heart, coming soon from Highland Press.

Cynthia’s stories include well-researched history, some of it learned from an inspiring gentleman she calls her "Research Hero." Her post today is a tribute to him.
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Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved books, history and Ireland. She dreamed of visiting that lovely Emerald Isle, of writing stories set in other Irish times. And sure enough, that dream came true. She published one story set in Ireland, then another and a third. She went to Ireland, and it was like going home.

And she found a Prince Charming.

Prince Charming swept her off her feet and brought her to other times and other places. He told her of Ireland, her myths and legends, her stories and her history. He took her to eerie places like “the Rookery,” dangerous places like the poison garden, and into the cottage of an Irish “wise woman” and the ballroom of the landlord’s house. Whenever the girl had questions about Ireland, he had the answers—or if he didn’t, he knew where to find them.

She called him her Research Hero.

And an amazing friendship grew up between the girl and her Research Hero, despite the fact that he lived in London and she in Montreal, Canada. They quickly moved from e-mail to Skype, and their long conversations went from Irish music to families, books to haunted castles. He was always there for the girl, a friend, a father-figure, an advisor and a shoulder to cry on.

Their friendship lasted for five and a half years, until John Quaid passed away suddenly on January 6, 2017, one day after we’d had a long, lovely chat about Ireland, history, books and the holidays.

John, you were indeed, not only my Research Hero, but my hero in all the ways that counted, and I treasured your friendship. I love you and miss you, my dearest friend, and I will never forget you.

John and I became friends on July 29, 2011. That day would have been my father’s ninety-second birthday. I think Dad knew I needed a friend at that particular time in my life, and he sent John to me. John would have said it was meant.

Blurb for Wishes of the Heart:
He’ll never be the true heir…
Tom O’Brien is trapped in the distant shadow of his rebel brother. Heir apparent to Ballycashel, his hands are bound by the fetters of the past and his father’s reluctance to take the estate into the future it so desperately needs.

She lived under a cloud of suspicion…
A wise woman suspected of witchcraft, Neave Devereux spent most of her life scorned by the superstitious village folk. Alone in her tiny cottage, she yearns for acceptance, friendship…and love.

Can Tom and Neave unite to save their village from ruin? Or will superstition and old enemies destroy Ballycashel forever?

Excerpt:
Here’s a scene from Wishes of the Heart. In it, Sheelagh Murphy, a kitchen maid terrified of the cailleach (witch), has come to visit Neave to request a geis (love spell). I remember so well the days spent talking with John as I wrote this scene. Thanks as always for the inspiration, dear friend.
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“Oh, please, Neave, you must help me! I’ve a little money put by...I can pay you...”

“What do you want from me, Sheelagh? How can I help you?”

“You’re the wise woman...sure, you must have a potion, a spell or something. Something I can slip to him when he’s not looking...something that will make him love me for all time?”

Neave sighed inwardly, her throat tight, and blinked back the hot, sharp sting of tears. She should have known. Oh, she should have known! Why else would Sheelagh have sought her out unless she wanted something? Bitterness blew a cold, aching breeze across her heart. She’d certainly not come to offer her friendship.

Ah, Neave, ‘tis you’re the great amad├ín. You should have known better than to expect your prayers to be answered. To expect her to come to you as a friend.

“Tell me about him.” The words escaped before she could call them back.

Sheelagh’s head came up, her eyes narrow and glinting with hostility. “Why?”

Why indeed? She’d no need to know anything about the man who held Sheelagh’s heart, for her ‘love spells’ were no more than piseog—superstition. Yet a sudden yearning to have another girl confide her deepest secrets swept over her. Oh, how she longed to feel that someone accepted her. Trusted her.

Liked her.

“Sure, how can I make you a love spell if I know nothing about your man?”

Sheelagh considered a moment. Neave could almost read her thoughts. The kitchen maid still didn’t know if she could trust the ‘wise woman,’ but she’d do it if it meant getting what she wanted.

Neave listened with a combination of contempt, envy and pensiveness as Sheelagh blathered on about the ‘mysterious dark man with wild blue eyes and a smile to charm the birds from the trees.’ But even as her tone softened and her eyes took on a dreamy cast, Neave still sensed the undercurrent of distrust that always stood between herself and the village folk.

When Sheelagh paused for breath, Neave was still none the wiser as to who the man might be. Knowing what was expected of her, she gave a mysterious smile and let her lashes veil her eyes for a long moment. Then, without another word, she rose and went to the hearth, where a loaf of barmbrack sat amongst the coals. She quickly wrapped it in a length of muslin and turned to face Sheelagh.

“Take this.” She kept her tone low, as Sheelagh no doubt expected her to do. “When you’re together at the full moon”—which, by Neave’s calculations should be two days hence—“give him a cut of bread and smile directly into his eyes. Only one piece, mind, and it must be done before the break of day.”

Sheelagh snatched the package in eager hands reddened by years of hard work. “One piece, before the break of day.” She gave a sudden bright smile and jumped to her feet. “Oh, thank you, Neave, thanks for the good heart of you!”

She cast a quick, nervous glance to where Bron sat silent on her perch in the rafters. She tossed a handful of coins on the table and scuttled out of the cottage.
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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 17th Century "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.
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Wishes of the Heart - Available in eBook & Print from
Amazon

6 comments:

  1. Hi Pat, thanks so much for having me as your guest today, and for allowing me to remember John. It's so wonderful to be back at the Plain!

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  2. It's wonderful to have you back, Cynthia. Your post is a lovely tribute to your friend, and a wonderful teaser for your new book. Best of luck with Wishes of the Heart!

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  3. What a beautiful tribute to a special friend and mentor. How lucky you were to have known him. Wishing you the best with your latest book, Cynthia.

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    1. Barbara, my friendship with John was one of the greatest blessings in my life, and I will always remember him with love. Thanks so much for visiting me her today, and for your good wishes.

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  4. I love that aspect of research. I have a Scots cousin who lives in Scotland and helps me with all things Scottish. Friends are indeed a treasure!

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    1. Brenda, John's friendship was definitely something I treasured. He used to say we were soul mates because we shared a love of Ireland, history, books, and especially details. He made my stories better, and he brightened some of my darkest days. Thanks for stopping by!

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