History always fascinated me. Anyone who’s a regular reader of my blog or my historical romances or my local newspaper column, Hindsight, probably knows I was the child who listened to the elders tell stories. Although I spent plenty of time running, playing, catching fireflies and digging in my sandbox, I loved to hear the old stories. My grandparents were my first babysitters and from the age of two months, I spent my days (and some of my nights) in their care. Both Granny and Pop were talkers and storytellers. From the breakfast table to the front porch in the evening shadows, they talked about both past and present. Their stories brought earlier times to life and they painted verbal portraits of my ancestors with such skill I felt I knew them. As readers who enjoyed my first historical romance, Guy’s Angel, know I drew on those old memories to recreate the old neighborhood and the 1920’s. In Dust Bowl Dreams, I relied on many of the stories of those hard times and the Great Depression. In both cases, I also did extensive research – I hold a degree in History and in English.
My next historical romance will be out around Labor Day. The official release date is September 3rd, the day after the long holiday weekend but sometimes (fingers crossed) my works sneak out a day or two early. I’m often asked what my next historical will be about and what time period I used as setting. So I’m here to reveal both –
My Granny was a telephone operator back in the days before direct dial. She told stories about working long shifts when the great influenza epidemic hit just about the time World War I ended. Other family stories focused around the event because it was a major epidemic, the scale of which people in the United States today have never known. In the late 1960’s, there was what people called “The Hong Kong Flu” and it created an epidemic although nowhere near the scale of the Spanish flu in 1918. Around that time, because one of my uncles had a really bad bout of flu, I heard some of the various tales about the time.
When I sat down to write Hear The Wind Blow, Love, I thought about what a hard period it was for those who lived through. First, a world war which took many lives and then a serious flu epidemic which hit the young hardest with high mortality rates affected the nation. Then, there were the widows and fiancées. My grandfather’s aunt, Aunt Mamie, never married and when I knew her she was a very old woman. But she still wore a small diamond solitaire ring on her left hand and I soon learned why – her fiancée died in the war. My grandparents’ neighbor, Miss Ella, did the same. Two of my grandfathers served in World War I, one Army, one Navy, and a number of great-uncles also did. I had the privilege to know another of my grandmother’s neighbors, a crusty old woman named Miss McBride who had been an Army nurse in both world wars. So I had a lot of personal stories to fuel my imagination.
I set the story in the Ozarks, on a rural farm. The house – and farm – are based on an old home place near where I once lived in the country. The story, though it may have a few elements from family tales, is fiction. And I hope my readers and fans, especially those who enjoy a historical read, will enjoy it too.
Here’s the blurb:
When the Armistice ends the Great War in November 1918, the end comes too late to save Maude Whitney’s husband, Jamie. But Maude realizes her heart still belongs to Harry, her brother-in-law who courted her first. He’s been her rock in Jamie’s absence while they shared quarters with the grandparents who raised the brothers. But Granpa died and Granny moved to town so when Maude invites him to move back under the same roof, it’s sure to be a scandal in the rural Ozarks.
Before gossiping tongues can spread the news, the Spanish influenza wreaks havoc in the area. It brings death close to home for Maude and Harry. As they fall deeper in love and plan to wed, their troubles are just beginning. Old feuds erupt and the day after Christmas, Harry’s hauled into custody and accused of a murder he didn’t commit. Harry must prove his innocence and survive a serious bout of flu or there’s no happy ending for the star-crossed couple.
Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:
Despite an occasional hitch in his bum leg, they sailed around the room in graceful rhythm and for Maude, the large, bare room in the old farmhouse vanished. She twirled in Harry’s arms through a ballroom of her imagination, some place she’d never seen but in pictures and those rare. Maude dreamed up a wide room with beautiful black and white tiles on the floor and golden tapestries hung from the walls. Princes and their consorts, dukes and their duchesses danced beside them and the scent of soft pine mingled with roses in the hall.
She became someone else, a titled lady or a fairytale princess for those moments, and basked in the glow of dreams. Her plain, ordinary housedress became a gown made from the finest silk or satin, edged in lace. Every flounce and furbelow trimmed the imaginary garment and she could all but feel the swish of the rich cloth against her legs. Although Harry offered more than the average man’s share of romantic moments, this one ranked high and Maude knew she’d keep this memory forever. She’d talk about it to her daughters and granddaughters if she had any, the story preserved and pressed into her heart like flowers into a memory book. Only toward the end of their dance did she realize Harry had hummed the tune throughout so the music wasn’t just in her head.
Jamie would’ve never done this. He’d said it was hug dancing and wrong, sinful. If I danced alone, he would’ve mocked me, laughed and told me to stop being so silly. He didn’t have a dream in his head, I don’t think. For a moment, Maude felt a pang at her thoughts and wondered if she was disloyal. She considered it and decided no, she recognized reality. And the truth wasn’t wrong, it just was. Then she put Jamie, poor dead Jamie, out of her mind and waltzed with Harry, living a dream and feeling a rush of love powerful enough to shoot them to the stars. Maude had never danced with such joy. No wonder they call it tripping the light fantastic!
When they stopped, Harry released her and then bowed to her, courtly as any fine gentleman might. His words confirmed he’d shared a similar fantasy as they waltzed. “Thank you for the dance, my dear lady,” he said. His grin fired her happiness like a match to a candle wick and she laughed, her finger tracing the outline of his mouth. With the fanciest pose she could strike, Maude replied, “You’re most welcome, sir. Dare I hope for the pleasure of your company at dinner this evening?”
“You may,” he said. Then Harry stopped playacting and pulled Maude against him. He kissed her, a deep slow caress with his mouth. His lips teased and tickled and cherished as heat flamed between them, potent as moonshine. Maude wasn’t a drinker. She’d had no more than a little hard cider, twice, and once a half glass of homemade Muscat wine, but she recalled the sense of warmth, the slight giddy feeling that came after drinking. Harry’s kiss infused her with something similar and intoxicated her senses. He poured all his love into the kiss and she drank it deep, then gave it back. He didn’t hurry the kiss and his arms lingered around her but there was no hurry, nothing pressing. After a long, comfortable span, he sighed with contentment. “You’re the eighth wonder of the world, Maudie,” Harry said. “I’m not much good with words and I don’t say it pretty or often but I love you, woman.”
Here’s the book trailer:
And here’s where you can find me:
From Sweet to Heat: The Romance of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I
My Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/#!/leeann.sontheimermurphy
A Page In The Life: http://leeannsontheimermurphywriterauthor.blogspot.com
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy/e/B004JPBM6I