Here's a little about my story in this wonderful Dragonblade Publishing anthology Released Oct 21st.
White Lady Lost
takes the reader on a journey
through the psyches of both
Nicholas and Carrie. The
characters of Carrie’s teenaged
brother and sister are endearing
although their antics could easily
prove to be fateful to them or
others. Some scenes are slow, but
picks up the pace deeper into the
story. One gets emotionally
involved as Simon Leeming tries
to usurp Nicholas’ authority, and
Simon shows his true character.
All the characters are three
dimensional and easily relatable.
The world building is excellently
executed, and one finds
themselves immersed in the
1800s, living with the mores of
the times. A truly outstanding tale
of romance between an unlikely
hero and heroine! Ms. Andersen
delivers a beautifully orchestrated
story destined for the ages!
Although I am not a Dorset native, the county has been part of my life since childhood, when we would often visit several times a year. I admit that teenage camping trips with my parents palled my enthusiasm for the Jurassic coast, but when I grew up, I began to bring my own children to Dorset, and found myself falling in love with this ancient land all over again.
A Dorset Summer grew out of a visit to Clouds Hill, the final home of Lawrence of Arabia. As I toured the tiny, spartan cottage, I was struck by the lingering presence of a cultured man seeking a bolt hole to escape from the PTSD of his WWI experiences. I began to wonder what it would be like to break through the defences of such a character, and gradually, layer by layer, a novel emerged. Set in 1934, it draws on Dorset myth and history, the legacy of WWI and memories of my grandparents’ generation, to create a poignant story of a first love affair.
A holiday in
Dorset with her wealthy, newly-divorced cousin seems the perfect escape from
Phoebe's mundane life as a governess – until a veteran of the Great War
staggers from the sea and into her life. As she is drawn into a relationship
with reclusive, tormented Alex, the emotional walls each have built from their
scars slowly begin to crumble. But the summer brings more upheavals: to her
surprise and reluctance, Phoebe also finds herself courted by handsome, gentle
landowner James. One man represents the home she yearns for, the other the
possibility to finally redress her past.
The three form an uneasy triangle of lovers and allies resisting army encroachment on the Dorset countryside and its way of life. In turn, the land offers the chance to heal their hidden wounds – but at a terrible price. Trapped between desire and integrity, head and heart, Phoebe must make choices that compel her to confront the past and may well shatter her future.
Enjoy an excerpt:
He traced the tip of the blade around the apple until he found a spot to pierce its skin, then cut in a slow, deliberate circle. He held a half out to me. I set my book and pencil on the grass and accepted the fruit. The newly-cut flesh glistened. I took a delicate bite from the edge, aware Alex watched me.
‘Still working on Dante?’ he asked when I had swallowed.
‘I’m trying to brush up on my Italian. I hope to save enough money for a trip to Rome next summer.’
A speck of juice trickled down my thumb. I caught it with the tip of my tongue. The simple action of eating helped ground me.
‘My brother was an Italian scholar. I gave him his first copy of Dante when he was in grammar school. He turned out to be a natural polyglot, got a first in Modern Languages at Cambridge.’ A brief smile lit Alex’s face. ‘I thought he might become a professor, even a Dante scholar.’
‘What did he do with his talents instead?’
The smile vanished, his eyes darkened. ‘Sacrificed them to King and Country, like most of us. What god of the mundane do you sacrifice your talents to, Miss Harris?’ He crunched into the apple and chewed, waiting for my answer.
A retort to his barb would be pointless. Conversation with Alex was like trying to tempt a wild animal to eat from my hand. One tiny false move, and he would flee back within himself.
‘I’m a governess,’ I said, and did not ask more about his brother. There were no photographs of middle-aged siblings in Alex’s cottage. That told me enough.
Alex nodded. ‘A governess. I suspected as much. You are too smart to be idling your life away, but you would be slaughtered in a classroom full of little savages.’
‘You do have a peculiar way of talking,’ I objected. I preferred the Alex of my fantasies, who had the elegant hauteur of a Mr Darcy.
He tossed the core into the grass below. ‘Do I? I haven’t spoken to a woman for years.’
The strange thing was, I was pretty sure he was not joking.
Susan has been an unintentional British expat for most of her adult life. Originally from Greater London, she lived for 20 years in the US and has recently moved back to Europe with her family to work in Slovenia. Even after all this time, she is still dreaming of her cottage in the English countryside! In the meantime, she enjoys her townhouse in the heart of Koper’s old, medieval city, on the Adriatic coast. Her UK base is in Dorset, which she has been visiting extensively since childhood, and where her parents are retired. She blogs about books, her family’s adventures in Europe, and Dorset at The Runcible Pen (susandcook.blogspot.com).
Find A Dorset Summer on Amazon: