It’s Deerbourne Inn month on my blog with a new book in the series featured each week. Today, I’m featuring Jean M. Grant’s book, Soul of the Storm.
I have a soft spot for things related to New Zealand since my trip there earlier this year, so Jean’s book, Soul of the Storm, quickly made my to-read list. Her writing and richly-drawn characters quickly launched me into the story. This one is five stars!
Here’s more about Jean, along with an excerpt from the book.
What made you want to write a Deerbourne Inn story?
I was hesitant (not sure why), but then I got to thinking…hmm, a series. A novella. Vermont. I live in New England and that was my first lure, to write about a nearby stomping ground. Then to venture into writing a novella. I also had an idea percolating in the back of my head, and when the wheels got turning, I knew my story would be a wonderful fit. I truly enjoyed writing this story (probably the most of all of them) and I do have new soft spot for novellas after reading a few by Diana Gabaldon. I liked the idea of collaborating with other authors on a series, too.
What inspired this story?
I’d always wanted to write a story set in New Zealand and with more hiking because I love both. I threaded in a story that also expands upon grief and loss (inspired by the loss of my own sister at a younger age). Even though this book doesn’t take place in New Zealand, I created a Maori man, Matiu, who hails from the Land of the Long White Cloud (aka Aotearoa, or New Zealand), yearning to go home, and he has an interesting backstory. He has a restless spirit. Then along comes Charlotte, who is dealing with the grief of a sister in a hiking accident and reeling from a bad divorce. Two worlds don’t just collide, they mold like two perfect pieces of a puzzle.
If you lived in the fictional Willow Springs, Vermont, what would your hangout be?
Ohhh, good question! I would want to hang with Matiu. Not mucking the trails like he does for the US Forest Service, but I’d go kayaking with him, climb some waterfalls, hike the Long Trail. I’d probably go to the North Sports Outfitters frequently. Oh, and the Sunny Springs Café for a latte—daily. I visited this region to do research for the book, hiked the Long Trail (the exact part in the book), explored a waterfall, and enjoyed a lazy weekend in a great little motel along the Mad River. I also visited Ben and Jerry’s and the Cabot Creamery (so many cheeses…ahhh).
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I love the outdoors. I hike, walk, visit nature whenever I can, usually with my kids and husband by my side. We love to travel when time and money permit—small state parks, to mountains/lakes/streams, to national parks or other countries (that’s rarer). I enjoy gardening (flowers) and tend to those from spring through fall. Am a bit obsessed with my flowers. A few of my flowers didn’t make it through this year’s winter, and that does make me a bit sad since I’ve had them since I started the garden a decade ago.
What are you working on now?
I’m writing the third book in my historical “hundred” romance trilogy (A Hundred Breaths, A Hundred Kisses are already out). It’s bittersweet to bring this series to a close. Next after that: something along the line of women’s fiction again (my first women’s fiction, just released).
What advice can you give aspiring writers?
I live by the 3 P’s, as I call it. Patience, perseverance, and putting in the time. Writing is a long-haul career. We need to be patient with it. There are lags and lulls and bursts of energy. Perseverance is a trait we must acquire (or utilize). There will be rejections of all sorts along the way. This is by far my toughest P to work on. My skin is still so thin! And putting the time, my easiest P…take the time to learn the craft, attend conferences/classes, network with other authors, and work on the business end of writing.
Jean’s background is in science and she draws from her interests in history, nature, and her family for inspiration. She writes historical and contemporary romances and women’s fiction. She also writes articles for family-oriented travel magazines. When she’s not writing or chasing children, she enjoys tending to her flower gardens, hiking, and doing just about anything in the outdoors.
Tagline to Soul of the Storm: Will love help her summit one more peak?
Charlotte MacGregor lost the thrill of conquering mountains five years ago when her sister disappeared on a hiking adventure without her. Still guilt-ridden, Charlotte heads for a vacation to rustic Vermont with a friend—where she’s surrounded by reminders of her devastating loss and plagued with unanswered questions.
Matiu Christiansen is an outdoors buff. He works multiple jobs to save for his dream of owning an outfitter in New Zealand. He’s never quite felt at home in the United States and he yearns for his Maori roots, but his attraction to Charlotte puts a kink in his plans to move home later this year.
Thrown together by coincidence, Charlotte and Matiu form a kindred bond through their shared love of the outdoors. Can Charlotte surmount her demons to assist Matiu on a rescue when a late-season snowstorm hits? And can Matiu help Charlotte heal from the pain of the past?
She went to feel her ring on her finger with her thumb…but the ring wasn’t there. That old habit would not die even years later.
A dog bark intruded. The man crossed to the back door. “Reka, sweet girl, take your nap. Only a few hours here and then home, okay?” He spoke to her like a father to a toddler. The dog barked again. “A swim and walk this morning weren’t enough for you?”
He approached the dog, petted it, and whispered affections.
Charlotte made a soundless “Aww” and kept perusing.
The man returned, nearer. Residual sweat traced his brow. He pointed to a selection of books in the middle. “These are the best. Depends on what you’re looking for. Honest reviews or glorified fantasies?”
“Honest reviews, always.”
He stroked a hand through his neck-length black hair, the longer top layer falling over his forehead. He squatted and withdrew a few books from the lower shelf. “You could go with the popular or famous names, sure, but I like these authors.” He handed her one.
A book on South America sat in her hands. She muttered, “Thanks. Don’t need that one.”
“Oh, already been there, eh? All good, all good.” He took it and shoved it back on the shelf. “Where do your dreams lie then?”
She swallowed. No, I wasn’t there in that way. I was supposed to have been there. Five years ago. Instead she said, “Well, Vermont for now.”
“You’re in luck. I’m from Willow Springs.”
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