I love reading different time periods, and my Friday Friend, Victoria Gray, has done just that. You're going to love her blog and excerpt. Enjoy!
1)You recently had a new release. Could you tell us a little about it?Autumn, my new release with The Wild Rose Press is Angel in My Arms, the story of Amanda Emerson, a Union spy undercover in Richmond, and Steve Dunham, the Union officer she enlists in a daring rescue. The scheme to rescue a double agent
from a Confederate prison where he’s awaiting execution plunges them into danger and sparks an irresistible passion between the roguish officer and the beautiful sable-haired spy. As the treachery surrounding them thickens, every moment he’s with her jeopardizes their lives, but they discover a love that’s worth the risk.
Steve Dunham, the hero in Angel in My Arms, is built like a Viking, has a twinkle in his eye, and he’s got guts. Best of all, he’s the kind of man who’s had his share of women, but when he falls, he falls hard and forever. A seasoned Union operative, he faces danger on a daily basis, but when the woman he loves is threatened, he’ll stop at nothing to keep her safe.
Amanda Emerson, the heroine, is a sable-haired beauty who joined up with a nest of Union spies living in Richmond. She’s skilled at deception, but when she falls for the handsome spy she’s drawn into their latest scheme, there’s no way to hide her feelings. Amanda’s gutsy and tender, a woman who doesn’t even realize how beautiful she is. She doesn’t want to fall for Steve – their love puts both in danger – but some tides are too hard to fight.
2) Did you have to do any special research for the novel?I did extensive research before and while writing the novel. I’d learned many years ago about Elizabeth Van Lew, a Richmond spinster known as Crazy Bet who was actually a Union spy. I modeled one of my characters, the spymaster, Betsy Kincaid, after Crazy Bet, incorporating some of her tactics and the places she frequented into the story. I also researched the historical figures of the time, such as the Confederate first lady, Varina Davis, and the historical landmarks of Richmond, including Libby Prison, the site of the jail escape that is central to the story.
3) Why do you write in the genre you do?I’ve always had a passion for history, so historical romance seems a natural choice. I find myself swept away by the sense of being in another time when chivalry was still in vogue. Setting a story in an historical time period creates a world quite different from the hustle and bustle of twenty-first century life.
4) What was your favorite scene to write?My favorite scene takes place soon after Amanda and Steve have accomplished the rescue. Yearning for Amanda, Steve sneaks into the spymaster’s house and finds her asleep. She stirs to awareness, finding he’s covered her and stoked the fire; his tenderness flares to passion, and they explore the delicious pleasure they can bring one another.
5) What kind of books do you read?I enjoy many different genres. Of course, I love historical romance, especially those set during the Civil War era or Victorian England. I’m also reading a steampunk romance that strikes me as Victorian England with gadgets, and I devour non-fiction that’s related to my writing. One book I’ve pored over recently details actual letters exchanged between soldiers and their loved ones during the Civil War – what a powerful book!
6) How do you spend your down time?When I’m not writing or working at my day job, I enjoy walking and hiking, cycling, and getting away to the mountains or the beach with my husband. I’m also a movie buff – I especially love comedies. Most of my movie “keepers” are films that make me laugh.
7) Are you a goal setter?Absolutely. I set long-term and short-term goals for my writing and other aspects of my life. One of my new goals is to run a 5K. I’ve started a running program that is designed to work me up to a 5K (3.1 mile) non-stop run. At this point, I can handle intervals of 5 minutes running and 2 minutes walking with no trouble…the next short term goal here is to shorten the walking intervals to 1 minute, and so on. By the spring, I should be running a 5K with no trouble.
8) What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve done?The most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was a hike in the Blue Ridge Parkway out to a rock formation that my husband had read about in one of those lovely guidebooks that make everything sound like a spring picnic. Hiking normally isn’t all that adventurous for me, but this particular route involved navigating a few segments where there are narrow ledges with sheer drops – I have a fairly pronounced fear of heights, so these were not fun for me. I persevered, gritting my teeth, I observed my husband was having the time of his life while I was literally white-knuckled with fright. Collapsing onto a fallen tree after making it past the last of these ledges, my husband was kind enough to point out a very large snake skin – the fact that the skin looked very fresh and had rattles at the end put a quick end to my respite. That hike proved a little too adventurous for my tastes, and it’s not an experience I’m looking to duplicate any time soon.
Amanda Emerson must break her cousin, a notorious double agent, out of a Confederate prison before his imminent execution. She’s a skilled Union operative, but for this mission, she needs a man. Even a man who looks and acts like a Viking warrior.
Caught with Rebel battle plans and set for a hanging, Union spy Steve Dunham isn’t about to refuse the assistance of the sable-haired beauty who shows up at the jail and slips him the keys to his cell. Of course, she’s there for a reason besides saving his neck - he’s the key to her plan.
He may be trading one noose for another, but he won’t forsake her. The spoils of his victory will be her surrender. And the terms of surrender will be sweet.
Angel in My Arms is available from The Wild Rose Press (print - http://www.thewildrosepress.com/angel-in-my-arms-paperback-p-4328.html and e-book - http://www.thewildrosepress.com/angel-in-my-arms-p-4308.html), and other retailers including:
Digibooks Café (http://www.digibookscafe.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=107&products_id=1086),
All Romance E-Books (http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-angelinmyarms-484011-158.html),
Amazon.com (Kindle - http://www.amazon.com/Angel-In-My-Arms-ebook/dp/B004BLK63A/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&qid=1291012033&sr=1-1 and print - http://www.amazon.com/Angel-My-Arms-Victoria-Gray/dp/1601548435/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1291012033&sr=1-1
Amanda sank into a chair and gazed into the crackling flames. Her heart ached. And there was only one cure for it.
A cure that would not come tonight. She’d outgrown childish Christmas wishes many years ago. She knew better than to hope for a miracle that would not come.
Kate padded across the floor, her footsteps soundless against the braided rug. “Joshua will be here to take me home shortly. I’ll return in the morning.”
“You belong with your family,” Amanda said. “Betsy and I will be fine. We’ve—”
A rap against the door cut through her words.
“Don’t tell me Captain Reed has returned,” Betsy muttered, eyeing Kate with a critical glare as she marched to the door with impatient strides.
She mumbled a few words to the unseen visitor and closed the door almost as quickly as she’d opened it.
“It seems I was wrong.” Betsy placed a wrapped package in Amanda’s hand. “You have an admirer.”
“I don’t know,” Betsy said with a reluctant smile. “The messenger didn’t say who’d sent him. Only that this was for Mandy.”
Amanda was sure her heart skipped a beat.
She unwrapped the package with slow, careful motions, intending to savor this moment, the pleasure of discovery.
Her lower lip quivered as she removed her gift. Ivory hair combs, exquisitely carved. Amanda examined her treasure with the wonder of a child on Christmas morning. She slid the combs into her hair.
A folded slip of paper lay within the box.
Amanda read the boldly scrawled message. She’d been so very wrong.
Her wish had been granted.
Someday I’ll hold you again.
Steve shoved his hands in his coat pockets and braced himself against the cold. The warmth of his room at Lily’s Place beckoned him, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. Not just yet.
The boy he’d paid to deliver Amanda’s gift ran to him, reported the deed had been done, and rushed home, a silver coin clutched in his grimy hand.
Home. How many years had it been since he’d even had a home? Ten…no, eleven. He’d never been in one place long enough to put down roots, not since he left Boston.
With his collar turned up and his hat slung low to obscure his face, Steve skulked through the streets of a city where he didn’t belong. The truth broadsided him with the merciless force of a cannon ball. One week past his twenty-ninth birthday, he had no wife, no child, and a rented room in a brothel in which to lay his head.
A few weeks ago, he wouldn’t have given a damn. He’d never needed anything beyond a warm bed and a willing woman.
But nothing had been the same since he’d first laid eyes on Amanda.
Even in her prim and proper gray dress, she’d robbed him of breath. She hadn’t known that. Until he kissed her.
Longing speared his heart. He was in love with a woman he had no right to want. His partner’s sister. A beauty who could have her choice of men...men who would give her every comfort she deserved. Amanda deserved so much more than he could ever give.
But that didn’t change a damned thing.
He couldn’t stop himself from loving her.
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