by Anna Campbell
Oh, be still my beating heart!
Well, not that still. Because then I'd be dead, right?
We have a saying in Oz that you wouldn't be dead for quids (quids is an old slang term for a pound note). And today, I have such a wonderful guest for you all that you wouldn't be dead for quids either!
I've come fairly recently to Helen Brenna's books - via a recommendation to read her RITA-nominated NASCAR story FROM THE OUTSIDE. I'm not that into racing cars but man, I got seriously into tortured and sexy racing car driver Roberto Castillo.
Since then I've read everything from Helen that I can lay my hands on. I've fallen in love with her wonderful series about a resort island in the Great Lakes called Mirabelle. As I said to her when I closed her fabulous THE PURSUIT OF JESSE a few days ago, I finish her books wanting to go to Mirabelle and then there's that cruel moment when I realize it's not REAL!!! Boo hoo.
Helen's books are unforgettable emotional reads about forgiveness and redemption and finding one's rightful place in the world. She has won an impressive number of prestigious awards including that most prestigious award of all, the Romance Writers of America RITA Award for THE MOON THAT NIGHT.
We're very lucky this year - in July, August and September, we get THREE Mirabelle books released back to back. THE PURSUIT OF JESSE, HER SURE THING and REDEMPTION AT MIRABELLE.
Here's the back cover blurb for HER SURE THING, Helen's August release:
Grace Andersen Kahill, the pastor's trouble-making daughter, left Mirabelle Island at seventeen and never looked back. When a devastating accident ruins not only her successful modeling career but also her marriage, she comes home to Mirabelle. She never expected to rediscover herself not through the lens of a camera, but through the eyes of Sean Griffin.
Sean, Mirabelle's doctor, has orchestrated for himself the perfect life. That is, until two new arrivals on Mirabelle upset his proverbial apple cart. A son he never knew existed and ... Grace.
The son, he'll deal with. Somehow. The woman, on the other hand, might just end up breaking his heart.
And don't forget, if you click on the covers in the blog, it takes you right to that book on Amazon.
For more information on Helen and her wonderful books, check out her website:
Without more ado, here's Helen! And she's got some news for us!
I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. Today is the day I’m unveiling an illustration of my very own fictitious Mirabelle Island!
But let’s back up for a sec. Actually, let’s back up five whole years to when Mirabelle was born in my mind.
It all started, as so many books start, with a “what if?” What if two people, childhood sweethearts, were torn apart by something as simple as he couldn’t stay in the small town in which they’d grown up together and she couldn’t leave?
A lot of things had to come together to make this a compelling story. I needed a place with a strong sense of community, with history, maybe even a place the heroine’s ancestors had settled, all of which bound her to home. I needed a place that a reader could love, but I also needed that reader to empathize with the hero and the intolerable sense of confinement he felt while growing up. Mind you, none of this was conscious or purposeful. My writer’s brain was just doing its thing when it dawned on me that I needed an island. Not a sand, surf and palm trees kind of place. I needed something different. I needed Mackinac Island, Michigan.
Ever heard of The Grand Hotel? Mackinac is the place where the movie SOMEWHERE IN TIME was filmed. With cobblestone streets, Victorian B & Bs and horse drawn carriages, it’s a place filled with history, a place I could easily imagine Sophie, my heroine.
The only problem is that I couldn’t imagine Noah, my alpha hero living there and I wasn’t entirely sure how their story was going to end. Were they staying or leaving? Then, too, I don’t write quaint and quiet stories set in tearooms and grand hotels. I write contemporary romances with alpha heroes and strong heroines, so I needed some reality.
What I needed was a little bit of Madeline Island, the largest of the Apostle Islands chain located on Lake Superior just off Wisconsin’s northern shore. Madeline is bigger than Mackinac, so there’s space for log cabins, horse ranches, secluded bays and lighthouses, acres of untouched forest, and even a few brew pubs.
That’s how Mirabelle Island was born. A place of stark contrasts. Cold, brutal and isolated in the winter. Sunny and idyllic in the summer. Old virgin forests on one end and homemade fudge shops on the other. The Mirabelle Island Inn with its classic French restaurant a few blocks from the Rusty Nail, a bar that has seen better days. This is, basically, a picture of what’s been on the white board in my office for the last five years. The bare bones of Mirabelle Island …
Well, that one book about Noah and Sophie led to six more stand alone Mirabelle stories, and just as my books have evolved and grown so has my vision of the island. I wanted readers to see what I see in my mind, and so I commissioned an artist to illustrate Mirabelle.
To coincide with THE PURSUIT OF JESSE, HER SURE THING and REDEMPTION AT MIRABELLE, three new Mirabelle Island books releasing July, August and September, I’m “unveiling” the illustrated map here and on my web site. Voila!
It still needs a legend and some geographic titles, but what do you think? Does Mirabelle Island look like some place you’d like to live? Read about, I hope?
To celebrate my back to back releases, I’d like to give away three copies from my backlist today, so check out my website at helenbrenna.com to see which title you’d like. And stop by my website again in another week or so to see the finished map.
Many thanks to Anna and all the Bandits for having me here today!
You heard right, Bandita Buddies. That's THREE people to win their choice from Helen's backlist! Hmm, wonder if she'll let me enter. There's a couple of older titles I still haven't managed to find. Perhaps I can enter under an alias...
OK, OK, I won't cheat (mainly because you'd find me out, you're all so clever!).
Good luck and get commenting, people!