Spring has been so busy and all within the small and lovely scope of home, family, friends, and work. The busyness has sort of given me writer’s block, although not exactly. I’ve been hammering away at my novel in progress. It’s my blogs that have been cause for concern, especially this one. I want to be sure that it's focus is clear.
When I wrote my first book, our sons were little and Lebanon was still recovering from its long civil war. Many friends and families were worried and upset. The book was an emotional journey for me and I didn’t publish it right away. It wasn’t until several years later, while trying to promote “Let Us Not Live in Ignorance,” that it became obvious to me that many cross-cultural misunderstandings and issues had not changed very much. I even realized that I held latent anxiety from our sons’ school days and from my own family’s immigrant history. My blog was born.
Obviously, the world has not calmed down, far from it. Poor Middle East – so much grandeur, so much history, so much strife. The same could be said of other regions, of course. For those of us living in a more stable environment, well, all things are relative. Make no mistake, progressive countries have their own sets of troubles and worries, always have and always will. There’s also surely a lot we average citizens don’t know.
But it won’t help to worry about what we don’t know, now, will it? I don’t care much for politics; I’m certainly not going to write about them. Our boys have grown up and I’ve settled down, as have most of my contemporaries. Time and age can be remarkable equalizers. Despite life’s ups and downs, maybe even in part because of them, I can’t seem to summon much angst nowadays.
I’m religious, but I’m not interested in preaching to the choir. I love this beautiful world God has given us and the wondrous variety it offers. History, romance, nature, the seasons… There’s so much to learn, to enjoy, so much for us to absorb, to share, to appreciate. As humans, we share commonalities despite our many differences. Furthermore, the history of the world, up until this very moment, is infinitely cross-cultural.
That’s the bottom line of this blog, that's my focus. We are all in this together and for that, we can be glad. Let's enjoy.
I’m excited and honored to host Cynthia Owens, author of The Wild Geese and The Claddagh series, to talk about her new release, Wishes of the Heart. Welcome, Cynthia!
Good morning, Anastasia, and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today! I’m so thrilled to share my new Irish-set historical romance novel, Wishes of the Heart, with you.
Wishes of the Heart is the 7th book in my Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond. It still amazes me that the first book of the series, In Sunshine or in Shadow, was released more than 10 years ago! In some ways, that sounds like a long time ago, yet in other ways, it was a mere blink of an eye!
I chose to name my series after the Claddagh. For those of you not familiar with that ancient wedding ring from Galway, in the west of Ireland, the ring features a pair of hands clasping a heart, topped by a crown. The hands symbolize Friendship, the crown, Loyalty, and the heart, of course, is a symbol of Love Everlasting. The ring’s motto is “Let love and friendship reign.”
Friendship, loyalty and love are three themes which figure prominently in all my stories, but especially the Claddagh Series, most of which is set in or around my fictional village of Ballycashel, Galway, except for Playing For Keeps, Book 3, which is set in Baltimore and Philadelphia.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Allow me to introduce you to my Claddagh Series.
In Sunshine or in Shadow (Book 1)
Siobhan Desmond will do anything to keep the tattered remains of her family alive, even if it means working for the new landlord – a darkly handsome stranger with secrets in his eyes and pain in his smile. As she watches her village return to life and begin to thrive under Rory O’Brien’s care, she comes to understand his true nature and soon finds herself falling under his dangerously sensual spell.
As danger ignites all around them, Rory and Siobhan fight to right the wrongs of the past – and protect their newfound love.
Coming Home (Book 2)
“A woman’s love is strong, more powerful than all the ghosts in Ireland..”
Daughter of an Irish village girl, step-daughter of the landlord, Ashleen O’Brien has lived between two very different worlds. But after a year in America, she yearns to return to the green land that is her heart’s home.
War and betrayal have taken everything from Cavan Callaghan – his home, his family, and the woman he loved. A hero of the Irish Brigade at Antietem, he’s searching for the family he never knew.
Love and deception await Cavan and Ashleen along those emerald shores, as the ghosts of a past that can never quite be forgotten rise to threaten their newfound happiness.
Playing For Keeps (Book 3)
He fled life in the shadows for a life in the limelight
Never as dutiful as his older brother, Lucas was a thinker, and a dreamer of dreams. When tragedy overtook his family, he fled to the bright lights of the stage. Can he make the Shannon Theatre Troupe a success – or is he doomed to once again be “the other son?”
She sought the past she barely remembered.
Mary Kathryn O’Brien returns to the genteel world her mother left behind – but can Irish Katie ever truly hope to belong? Or will old wounds and new rivalries destroy the threads of family forever?
Lucas and Katie must battle prejudice and buried secrets before they can learn to trust each other. Is their love just a brief intermission, or are they Playing For Keeps?
Everlasting (Book 4)
Where does justice end and retribution begin?
She was driven by anger
When her fiancé died trying to feed his family, Shannon Flynn vowed to punish those responsible…even if it alienated her from her family, even if it put her—and them—in danger.
He returned to exact revenge
Eight years after he was forced to flee his beloved Ireland, Liam Collins returns to Ballycashel to find his family devastated and the person he holds responsible for his exile dead.
Can these two wounded spirits come together to battle a common enemy? Or will anger and pride destroy them both?
Reluctant Betrayer (Book 5)
Sweet deception and hidden passion…
Trasnavan…a west-of-Ireland village bursting with charm, intrigue and treachery.
Aidan Collins grew up in the shadow of his heroic older brother. The steady one, the responsible one, he burns with anger against the landlord and vows to change the desperate straits of the village folk.
Raised in a family of rebels, Maura Riordan is horrified when she learns the man she loves has committed the ultimate act of treason.
But Aidan has his own reasons for taking the position of landlord’s agent. Will those reasons destroy him? Will Maura’s deception tear them apart?
Christmas Rainbows (Novella, Book 6)
Catch a Christmas Rainbow…
Shut away for most of her life because of her handicap, Lissa Thornhill grew up in shame and yearned for acceptance and love. Will a journey to Ireland and Christmas with her cousin’s family be her dream come true?
Pearse Ryan was the special one. Born in a thatched cottage in a tiny Irish village, the landlord saw something special in him and made sure he got the education he dreamed of. But even though he’s now a fully qualified doctor, he can’t forget the one person he couldn’t save.
Can an enchanted Yuletide in Ballycashel heal both their wounded hearts and bring a Christmas miracle?
And now, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Wishes of the Heart, Book 7 of the Claddagh Series. It’s my Cinderella-with-an-Irish-twist story, complete with a ball, a forgotten object, a little political intrigue and a sprinkle of magic. Oh, and my first non-human character, a sensitive and very loving magpie named Bron.
About the Book:
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?
Hearing the tenderness in her mistress’s voice, Bron hopped onto Neave’s shoulder. Neave stroked her feathers with loving tenderness, her fingers bright white against the glossy black feathers. Her nails were perfect ovals, the skin beneath a delicate pink. What would those hands feel like stroking him?
Tom’s body went rigid. “Neave—”
Everything seemed to stop. The cool, mist-laden air stilled. The sea silenced its ceaseless pounding against the shore. The moonlight dimmed. Even the bird stopped its chittering as Tom’s gaze met Neave’s.
A sudden, joyous laugh burst from her. She shook her hair free, gazing daringly up at him. A grin tugged at his lips as he stared back at her, utterly entranced. Then he, too, gave a great, rolling laugh, startling the bird into the air. He gathered Neave against him, longing to absorb her bright spirit, her joyous purity, the very essence of her.
“Ah, Neave…Princess Neave.” He crushed his mouth to hers, his tongue plunging between her lips to mate with hers in a dance as old as time.
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.
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Thank you, Cynthia! I’m looking forward to enjoying Wishes of the Heart.
Surely, the past, present, and future connect in this miraculous state we call life. In this light, history and all human experience are ever-present. Wouldn't it be nice, then, if we could enjoy each other, if we could appreciate and celebrate our differences? Let us love! Let us have fun. Let us toast each other and wish each other well. Now, in our awareness, is the time to be happy, to do our best, to live fully to our purest, highest standards.