Spotlight on a Southern Romance: CIVIL HEARTS
I’m happy to welcome multi-published, award-winning author Claire Gem. Today, Claire shares the inspiration behind her latest release, Civil Hearts.
Let me begin with a disclaimer: I am not a native Southerner (i.e., born in the Southeastern United States). True, I lived over a third of my life there, but twenty-three years of that was in Florida, which I’ve been told doesn’t count. The two years I spent living in Texas were some of the most enjoyable years of my life, and if I had my druthers, I’d probably still be there. I also lived in western North Carolina for a year, which is probably the most beautiful country I will ever see.
But I’m a Yankee, folks. I was born in New York State.
So how did I come to write a love story set in an abandoned antebellum mansion in the rural South? Well, because I had an emotional connection to the place. And, in fact, I was there.
In the 1990s, we lived in Florida, and some very good friends moved to the Montgomery, Alabama area. We visited them, and fell in love with the beautiful countryside, friendly people, and low cost of living. For a short time, we considered moving our family there. We even went so far as to tour a number of houses that were on the market at the time.
One of these houses was a dead ringer for the Belle Bride, the home featured in my latest release, CIVIL HEARTS.
The house was empty and had been for a long time. It was, quite literally, in the middle of nowhere. That’s why it was cheap, i.e., within our limited budget. It probably hadn’t changed much since it had been built in the mid to late 19th century, except for the addition of modern lighting and plumbing.
It was enchanting. It looked like a time-worn, mini-Tara.
As we toured that lofty ceilinged, musty smelling home, I had the strangest sensation. The house was unoccupied, but I had the distinct feeling the fact was an illusion. There was someone, or someone, there.
We didn’t move to Alabama, and it’s been twenty years since that home tour. I’d forgotten completely about it. Until I had a dream a few months ago, about that same abandoned, mini-mansion . . . only this time, there was a Confederate soldier pounding on the front door.
Civil Hearts was born.
I always try to incorporate some serious, real-life issues into my stories, because I want to touch the hearts of my readers. In Civil Hearts, my heroine is a widow whose husband died from brain cancer, and she carries the emotional scars of having witnessed his rapid decline. My hero is an epileptic, one whose seizures mimic those my heroine’s husband suffered before he died. One whose condition has already cost him one marriage.
But he can’t deny his attraction to the New York City girl who’s just moved into town.
My heroine is a Yankee. Her new home is haunted by the ghost of a Confederate soldier.
You can find out more about Civil Hearts on the Amazon page here: https://amzn.to/2qP17G9
A Haunted Voices Novel by Claire Gem
He’s a sexy Southern gentleman—with epilepsy. She’s a widow scarred from her late husband’s brain cancer. Her new home, an abandoned antebellum mansion, is haunted by a Confederate soldier—and she’s a Yankee.
A widow with no family, web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. After all, she can work from anywhere, right? Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives—with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion.
Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia. But he’s lonely, and his condition—epilepsy—makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again.
Sparks fly between Heath and Liv. But his first seizure sends Liv into a tailspin. Its mimics those her husband suffered before he died . . .
To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier, one who clearly resents his Yankee roommate—even though he’s been dead for over a hundred and fifty years.
Ms. Gem has skillfully crossed several genres—romance, paranormal, women’s fiction—to produce a well-crafted story that tugs at the heartstrings. I fell in love with both protagonists, Liv Larson and Heath Barrow, and couldn’t read fast enough to find out what awaited them. The alternating POVs delineate the two voices and provide insight into the characters’ emotions as they struggle with past demons and their growing attraction for each other.
The paranormal elements are expertly woven into the fabric of the storyline. At times, I believed I could actually hear the haunting voices and cries of the soldier and his beloved. The ghost animals add to the ambiance.
I recommend setting aside uninterrupted blocks of reading time. You won’t be able to put this book down.
Strong Women, Starting Over
Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of six titles in the genres of contemporary romance, supernatural suspense, and women’s fiction. She also writes Author Resource guide books and presents seminars on writing craft and marketing.
Her supernatural suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 RONE Awards. Also in 2017, her women’s fiction, The Phoenix Syndrome, was a finalist in the National Reader’s Choice Awards, and her contemporary romance, A Taming Season, was a Literary Award of Merit finalist in the HOLT Medallion Awards. Her latest release, Spirits of the Heart, was a finalist in the 2017 “I Heart Indie Awards.”
Creating cross-genre fiction she calls “supernatural suspense,” Claire loves exploring the paranormal and the unexplained, and holds a certificate in Parapsychology from the Rhine Research Center of Duke University.
A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 39 years, now live in central Massachusetts.
Claire is available for seminars & media interviews & loves to travel for book promotional events.