Today I'm delighted to welcome Cynthia Owens with her brand new book, Wishes of the Heart. This is the seventh book in her Claddagh Series of historical romances, set in Ireland and beyond.
Ballycashel, County Galway, Ireland, 1880
Neave Devereux bolted upright on her straw pallet and gazed wildly around her tiny cottage. Had the cry been real?
Swallowing hard in an effort to slow the wild pounding of her heart, she stared into the blood-red coals on the hearth from which she drew her strength. Focus. She breathed deeply, inhaling the familiar tangy scents of drying herbs and turf smoke.
She forced herself to utter stillness. No sound disturbed the night except the distant hoot of an owl outside the cottage, the shrill whistle of the wind round its white stone walls. Slowly her breathing returned to normal, her limbs softened, and her eyes drifted shut.
The cry had been in her mind.
But for whom?
Unable to rest, she threw off her thin blanket and padded barefoot to the hearth. Shivering, she stirred the embers until they blazed blue and red and orange. She let her eyes slip out of focus, emptied her mind, searched the dancing flames.
Fire and smoke melded into the shadow of a man. Tall, he was, and broad shouldered. A smile curved his full, sensual lips. His dark curls tumbled over his high forehead and around a fair-skinned face lightly dusted with freckles. But ‘twas his eyes that caught Neave’s attention. Blue, they were, and green, with all the jewel-like changeability of the sea.
She knew that face. She’d known and loved it since she was a wee lass hovering wistfully on the borders of Ballycashel land. The outsider looking in. She’d watched with helpless longing as he rode magnificent hunters across wide green fields. And as she grew older, she dreamed of him, yearned for him. Fell in love with him.
Thomas O’Brien of Ballycashel.
Second son of the landlord. Destined to inherit the estate. Sensible, dependable, so he was, but Neave had watched him, had seen the spark in those magnificent eyes. A spark that needed but a tiny breath of air to make it burst into conflagration.
She searched the fire once more, trying desperately to divine the threat to the man she loved from afar. The flames changed, became indistinct. Another pair of eyes appeared, eyes without color or face or form, filled with terror. A woman’s eyes. A man’s hand—Thomas’s hand?
Neave squeezed her eyes shut against the terrifying vision.
“Ah, Tine. Fire. Sure, it cannot be him, for his hands are long-fingered and gentle, not square and thick like those I see now.” A shudder racked her body. “’Tis a man’s hand, to be sure, but an evil man, a man bent on destruction.”
As suddenly as the flames had blazed, they dropped to glowing embers. Cold damp slipped through her, penetrated her thin night rail, sent chills to rack her body. Shaking with cold, she rose to her feet and wrapped herself in the blanket her mother had made so long ago.
She’d learn no more this night.
“Please, God, keep them safe. Keep them all safe.” She whispered the prayer into the darkness that permeated her very soul. Tears stung her eyes as she snuggled into her bed of straw, and a picture of a man stole into her heart. “Keep Thomas safe.”
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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Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Cynthia-Owens/e/B003DQ1V2E
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