Dr. Margaret Amis-Hollings, professor of women’s studies at a small New Jersey college, is a woman who confidently knows who she is and what she expects of life. Until she loses her teaching position and her well-ordered life gets turned upside down. Then, in a subtle stroke of whimsy, fate tosses her a gift in an historic home and property in Virginia.
Harboring visions of Gone With the Wind, she determines to use River Peace as a temporary reprieve from her troubles. Images of Tara quickly evaporate when she arrives to discover the reality of her inheritance, however.
River Peace has history, grace and style going for it. After only one night, Margaret discovers that it also has a ghost. She’s visited by a male spirit from the time of the War Between the States, who knows how to make a woman feel special. And very loved.
Aaron Belton meets Margaret when she first arrives in Virginia. He’s renowned for historic renovations on a multitude of properties, but he’s got a special place in his heart for River Peace. He and his family believe the property always should have belonged to them. In fact, Aaron will do almost anything to make that happen. When his passion for the house changes to a passion for the house’s owner, Aaron’s as surprised as anyone. Can he gain both, the woman and the house? To do so, he’ll have to face a spectral being.
And his own destiny.
Targeted Age Group:: Over 18
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 5 – NC-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I love this area of Virginia and the local history. Add the paranormal aspect and I couldn't wait to sit down at the keyboard! Do the ghosts of our past affect us here and now? I say yes!
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My boss when I worked in New Jersey was a real character–gruff on the outside marshmallow on the inside, with strongly held (and voiced) opinions. I loved working with him but when I started writing Margaret, she was really all Joe (my boss). That made her fun to write.
She sipped her tea. "Have you ever heard that old poem about the guy in the house who feels something when he goes upstairs? I can't even remember exactly how it goes."
Aaron nodded. "I think you mean Antigonish. It's by Hughes Mearn. 'As I was going up the stair. I met a man who wasn't there! He wasn't there again today! I wish, I wish, he'd stay away.' Is that the one you mean?" His inflection was perfectly neutral, as was his expression.
Margaret laughed, shaking a little as she laced her fingers around the cup, holding it to warm her hands. "Yes, that's the one. Is there any topic you don’t know something about?" She sipped, then took a deep breath. "Well, Doctor Belton, you're going to think I'm over the edge, but that is what's with the house." She looked him full in the face.
His expression didn't change. Not even a hint of smile played across his face. Margaret examined his eyes for…for what? Doubt or belief?
"You mean you've seen something." It was a statement, not a question.
"Yes, I have."
"Tell me about it." Still no hint of humor colored his tone. He was treating her as an adult, which is more than she felt.
"I feel so stupid talking about this." He reached out to take her cup and put it on the table before folding her hands in his.
"I'm not laughing. Tell me."
Another deep breath. "The first night I was here I smelled pipe tobacco when I went upstairs. I was on the landing, and it was so strong I went back down and checked all the doors. It was gone by the time I got back, so I brushed it off. Then I saw a man where you were standing this morning. At the foot of the steps. He started up, watching me. And again this evening, it was he walking across the lawn toward me, not you."
There was no need to tell him about the dreams. No need to admit to having made love to this ghost, or whatever it was. He would think she was crazy enough with what she had told him.
"What did he look like?" He tilted his head, looking at her with eyes that sparked with curiosity.
"You believe me?" Incredulous, she squeaked the question. He believed her! His acceptance of her story amazed her, considering she barely believed herself.
"I don't disbelieve you. And it's obvious that you think something is going on here. So, tell me." His thumbs smoothed across her knuckles, an action she found calming.
Relaxing slightly, she answered him. "He looks old fashioned. Not as tall as you are, light blond hair. A beard that badly needs trimming. On the stairs he had on a gray overcoat, like a uniform and he carried a gun."
"Gun?" Aaron's voice was sharp, and his brows furrowed in concentration. "What kind of gun? A rifle or shotgun?"
"How would I know? A gun, that's all. This evening he had that same coat and a hat. His eyes are exactly like yours." She stopped to examine Aaron's eyes. "That same dark, intense blue. It's the only thing similar between you, except…" She felt herself blush and she looked away from Aaron.
"Except what," he prodded.
"Except for the way you looked at me tonight on the porch. Before you kissed me. Every time I've seen him, he's looked at me just that way. As though he loved me." Now she met his steadfast gaze, waiting for his response.
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