The Wild Geese Book 7
by Cynthia Owens Genre: Historical Romance
Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean
streets of New York
The War had left him blind to beauty…
Kieran Donnelly is a gifted artist who has sworn never to paint again. He saw and did too many things during the war to extinguish the ugliness that lies in his heart. But a chance to work with some of the most magnificent paintings brings him close to the world he still loves…and an extraordinary woman who sees his true heart.
Darkness couldn’t extinguish the light in her heart.
Blind from the age of four, Emily Lawrence yearns to experience the outside world. When she hires Kieran Donnelly to catalogue her father’s paintings, he offers her a glimpse at life outside her exquisite home…and a chance for a future.
Can Kieran and Emily emerge from the darkness to find happiness and love?
“There are many different ways to see, Mr. Donnelly.” She tilted her head toward the fire and drew in a breath that swelled her soft breasts. Kieran’s throat went dry. “I can hear the crackling of those flames, smell the wood smoke as it chases away the early morning damp.” Her fingers reached out unerringly to stroke the mantel. “I can touch this stone, feel it warm and smooth under my hands.” Kieran’s gut clenched. Dear God, how would those hands feel stroking him into a flame of desire? “And I can sense emotions, Mr. Donnelly. It’s…an atmosphere, I suppose. A mood. I can tell when someone is happy…or sorrowful…angry…or in pain.” A sudden mischievous smile lit her face. “I can see things in my own way.”
“What way is that?” He heard his own voice, hoarse with mounting desire.
She hesitated only a split second before extending one hand. “Let me show you.”
Kieran moved forward until he stood mere inches from her. Her hair smelled sweet, like apple blossoms. Her skin glowed like new milk. Her eyes were darker than he’d expected, like sapphires they were. Deep, gem-like.
She reached out a tentative hand, and her fingers landed lightly upon a statue of an eagle in flight. She stroked the bird’s head, and Kieran’s skin prickled.
“My father told me this is an eagle.” Her voice poured soft and liquid through him. “He has a strong, proud head”—her hands slid down—“and sharp eyes.” Her lips quirked into a wry smile. “The better to spot his dinner.”
Kieran’s throat tightened. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from those long, elegant fingers, the shell-pink perfection of her nails.
“His beak has a tiny hook at the very tip of it. Makes it easier to tear at his prey. Yet his throat and breast are vulnerable.” A gentle, almost tender sweep downward. She stopped at the bird’s feet. “His claws are lethally sharp.”
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 am 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.
Can you, for those who don't know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I’ve been writing since I was about six years old. When I was in first grade, my teacher asked us to write a sentence about Dick, Jane and their dog, Spot. I wrote a paragraph, and she scolded me for writing too much! But I had the last laugh when my first novel, In Sunshine or in Shadow, was released and she actually congratulated me!
I studied journalism at university—which stood me in good stead when I began researching my stories—but historical fiction was always my first love. I wrote several “practice” stories) the books that will remain “under the bed”) until, in 2003 when, during a Romance Writers of America conference, the germ of an idea came to me. I went home fired with enthusiasm and began feverishly creating characters and setting and plot. That story would eventually become Sunshine.
What are some of your pet peeves?
Perhaps it stems from being a writer, but I absolutely cannot abide poor grammar!
When my daughter was younger, I used to correct her grammar—not that often, just when it was really necessary. Well, I guess she thought it was too often, because she began calling me “grammarific,” a nickname that stuck!
The most irritating grammar mistakes in speech are “should/would of” instead of ““should/would have,” using “of” when it’s not necessary (“It was too big OF a job,” and lay vs. lie. But it’s written grammar errors that really irritate me, like using apostrophes for plurals, mixing up its and it’s, there, their and they’re, and you and your. My kids always pointed out that there’s grammar check on their computers, but grammar doesn’t always catch these mistakes. I made sure they knew the proper spelling of absolutely everything!
What do you do to unwind and relax?
As a writer, it’s important to have “alone” time, not just to plot stories but to unwind and relax after writing the black moment or spending hours hunting up those tiny details that make a story that much better. I’ve found the best way to do that is to go for a long walk and listen to Irish music on my ipod.
This is a fairly new discovery. Two years ago, I learned I had Type 2 diabetes. My doctor told me that one of the best ways to lower my blood sugar was to get sufficient exercise. I’d always enjoyed going for walks in the snow, so I decided to make walking part of my exercise program.
I was amazed at how much I enjoyed it, and continue to enjoy it, even on the not-so-nice days! I started walking in November, shortly after my diagnosis, and I loved watching the changes in my neighborhood as well as the changing seasons. It was fun to enjoy a walk in the first snow of the season, to watch Christmas lights and decorations going up, then to revel in the warming of the earth and the blooming of spring and summer.
I certainly can’t say I’m glad I’m a diabetic, but it certainly opened my eyes to the beauty all around me!
Describe yourself in 5 words or less!
Shy, creative, loving, passionate, curious.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. After all, a writer is, simply, someone who writes. And I have always written. Stories, plays, sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew books, teenage romance, essays, articles—pretty much everything!
But being a writer seemed very different from being a published author, at least to me. I’m not really sure when I really believed I was a published author. Maybe it was the first time I held my first book in my hand. Maybe it was when I held my first book signing and sold every copy of my book. Or maybe it was when a fan sent me a message on Facebook, asking me if I planned to write a story for a secondary character.
That, to me, is the highest compliment a “real author” could receive. And I was thrilled!
Do you have a favorite movie?
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
In 2009, I realized a life-long dream of visiting Ireland, and one of the highlights of that trip was a visit to Coole Park, where it’s said the Irish literary revival began. On the grounds of the estate is the Autograph Tree, an immense copper beech where some of Ireland’s literary giants carved their names or initials. I was in awe at the sight of Yeats, Synge, Shaw and O’Casey.
I returned to Ireland in 2017, staying in Sligo this time, where William Butler Yeats spent his summer holidays and where he wrote some of his most iconic poetry. I paid homage to the Great Man in Drumcliffe Church, visited his grave, and later took to the “Isle of Inisfree.” My room at the B&B where we stayed was in the shadow of Ben Bulben, Ireland’s famous table mountain.
“Under bare Ben Bulben’s head, In Drumcliff Churchyard Yeats is laid.”
What inspired you to write this book? The Carousel is inspired by and dedicated to my grandmother.
Her name was Emma Laflamme, and she died in 1981 at the age of 88 years old. She raised nine children in the tiny windswept village of Irishtown, on the Gaspé coast in Eastern Quebec. She was also blind, and had been since the age of 40.
My grandmother was a strong woman, and she never let her handicap slow her down. I well remember watching her with fascination as she kneaded a loaf of bread (made from scratch, no less!), and marveling at how easily she did it. It was even more fun to devour the delicious results. To this day, whenever I smell bread baking, I think of her.
I hope The Carousel makes her proud.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have so many stories floating around in my mind I wonder if I’ll ever be able to write them all!
But for the immediate future, I have at least at least two more stories planned in my Claddagh Series. Both will be set in Ireland, and both will feature heroines already introduced in earlier stories.
Then there’s the Wild Geese Series. The Carousel is the seventh book in a series I originally planned only five books for! Secondary characters do have a way of endearing themselves to me, and eventually demanding their own stories! Fiona MacDermott, who we first met in Book I, Deceptive Hearts, emerged as a charming young woman in The Carousel. She’s a spirited young woman now, and she, too, is demanding her own story.
I wrote a Christmas novella last year, which is part of my duet of Christmas stories, A Claddagh Christmas. The Christmas Shop featured three loveable children who have begun to whisper to me.
I’ve also begun work on the first book in a new fantasy series. I can’t say too much about it yet, but it’s set in a magical Irish kingdom loosely based on the Irish legend of Tir na nOg.
So many stories, so little time!
Do you have any “side stories” about the characters?
Emily Lawrence’s mother, along with her infant brother, died when she was four years old. The measles that claimed their lives robbed Emily of her sight. But despite being so young, Emily has never forgotten her mother, or the very special day they spent together a month before her brother was born. On that day, Emily’s mother too her to a park with a carousel, and they spent the long, sun-filled day riding the enchanted horses, eating ice cream, and just being together. When the day ended, Emily’s mother bought her a music box with a carousel horse on it. The box playedDown in the Valley, and Emily’s mother told her the story of how she and her husband had danced to the same tune just before they became engaged. The music box is Emily’s most treasured possession.
Can you tell us a little bit about the characters inThe Carousel?
Kieran Donnelly is an artist. A very gifted artist. His greatest joy came from capturing the pictures that swirled in his head on canvas. Before the war, he’d begun to make a name for himself as a landscape painter. When he came home, he swore he’d never paint again. He’d seen too much, and done too much. His ability to see the beauty vanished.
Emily Lawrence is a young woman who’s been sheltered most of her life. Blind from the age of four, she was raised by her widowed father, as well as the Morans, the housekeeper and her jack-of-all-work husband. Emily’s fondest wish is to experience the world as others her age have. She longs to travel, to go to balls and concerts and parties, and to have friends.
Where did you come up with the names in the story?
Most of my stories are either set in Ireland, or feature Irish characters. With 15 books already in print, I’ve had to search for names that exactly fit each character.
Like most writers, I have lists of potential character names. As well, I also look up names on the Internet. I’ve searched “baby name” sites so often, I’ve begun to get ads featuring diapers and formula!
For The Carousel, I didn’t have to search too far for my heroine’s name. Emily Lawrence, who is blind, is named for my grandmother, who was also blind. The Carousel is dedicated to Emma Laflamme, and I hope she’s proud of it—and me.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
I always had imaginary friends as a child. As an adult, my “fictionals” (as I call my characters) are my grown-up imaginary friends!
Of course, no one can control their friends’ actions or what they say. For me, it’s somewhat the same with my fictionals. I love it when, once I’ve placed them in a difficult situation, they begin to tell me their story. I sometimes believe they know their story better than I do, and they just allow me to tell it.
I think the best time this happened was when I was in the midst of writing my first novel. I’d hit a point where I’d written myself into a corner, and I wasn’t sure what came next. I struggled with this for several days, until one night, I dreamed of my hero going back to his childhood home. I actually saw the entire scene in my dream! I raced down to my office—in the middle of the night, no less!—and wrote the scene in one sitting. To this day, I’m convinced it’s one of the best scenes I’ve ever written, and all because one character chose to tell it to me in a dream.
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