Welcome, Dorothy. Your book Beauty for Ashes just released, and I want to congratulate you on writing such a wonderful story. Give our readers a short blurb about it.
Carrie Daly is a beautiful young widow. Griff Rutledge is a Charleston gentleman with a thirst for adventure. Both need a place to call home. Though they are instantly attracted to each other, Carrie’s friends warn her away from the handsome adventurer. And Griff isn’t sure that he is the marrying kind.
This is the second in your Hickory Ridge Series, your first being Beyond All Measure which I also loved. What made you set your stories in post-Civil War Tennessee?
I was born in west Tennessee and as a girl loved the beauty and mystery of the mountains the Cherokees called The Land of Blue Smoke. I’d read dozens of historical novels set in the west, but very few in the South. I wanted to introduce readers to the history and beauty of this area, so I invented a place called Hickory Ridge.
You've inhabited Hickory Ridge with some very interesting characters, one of which is your appealing heroine Carrie Daly. What has happened in her past to make her fear she’ll never find the weak-in-the-knees kind of love?
As a very young woman, Carrie married Frank Daly, a local Hickory Ridge boy with big plans for himself and for their life together. Then, after only a few months of marriage, Frank went off to war and was killed at the battle of Shiloh. Frank was her first love, and Carrie doubts she will ever again feel for any man what she felt for Frank.
I loved your hero Wyatt Caldwell in Beyond All Measure, but you’ve created another winner in Griff Rutledge. Tell us about this handsome man who comes to Hickory Ridge.
Oh my. Well, to begin with, he is just handsomer than any man has a right to be. Tall , dark, and gorgeous, and with a perpetual glint of amusement in his eyes. He’s well spoken, and an astute business man, though, like many other Southern businessmen, he has suffered financial reverses as a result of the war. A native of Charleston, South Carolina, he is an expert horseman, and this gift is the one that keeps him in Hickory Ridge. Griff is estranged from his family and deep down, he mourns that void. He needs a home as much as Carrie does, but it takes a while before he realizes it.
You've said that your novels reflect the emotions, concerns, and values of women everywhere. What do you hope readers will take away after reading Beauty for Ashes?
The thing I love about storytelling is that each reader brings her own experiences and expectations to the reading of a novel, and takes away her own meaning from it. I hope readers will love the elements of romance and mystery in each of the Hickory Ridge novels, and that they will love the weaving of the historical and the personal into each book.
What is the title of the third book in the Hickory Ridge Series and what is it about?
It’s called EVERY PERFECT GIFT. It’s the story of Sophie Caldwell, the little orphan Wyatt and Ada adopt at the end of the first Hickory Ridge book. Now Sophie is grown, and returns to Hickory Ridge to revive the defunct town newspaper, the Gazette. Sophie has spent her life guarding her heart and hiding a life-changing secret. In Hickory Ridge, she meets Ethan Heyward who is there to build and manage Blue Smoke, a luxury resort. Ethan, too is hiding a secret. One he can’t share with anyone, even Sophie.
I know you’re also busy working on a series set in South Carolina. When can we expect to see the first in that series?
Actually, I’m writing two stand alone novels set in the Lowcountry. Right now I am writing one in which Charlotte Mills, my main character is working to revive her family’s rice plantation following the Civil War. This story is inspired by the life of Elizabeth W Allston who ran her family’s rice plantations until the turn of the 20th century. Her book, A Woman Rice Planter is fascinating. This book will come out sometime in late 2013.
What encouraging words would you like to leave with our readers who are hesitating about taking a leap of faith in their lives?