Christmas and New Years are coming fast, so I want to begin by wishing you all wonderful celebrations with your friends and families, enjoying whatever holiday traditions are meaningful to you.
After some of the same, I intend to get right back to work toward launching not one but two new novels at once in January! Both of these books have a much more contemporary feel than what I have given you before. Writing them was a fun challenge and I hope you will like what I’ve come up with.
Actually, “hope” has a lot to do with the excerpt I have for you today since the book I’m featuring is named after the heroine, Hope O’Neil.
The idea for this new series started a long time ago. While pursuing the publication of my first two novels (The Darcys of Pemberley and For Myself Alone), I considered what else I was most interested in writing – you know, in case the whole Jane Austen thing didn’t catch on. Well, it did catch on, of course. But in the meantime I’d written the first book of the Crossroads Collection – stories all about turning points, possibilities, and second chances. Now that I have a second one to go with it, it’s almost time to release them both.
Here’s the blurb for Leap of Hope (the JAFF one of the pair) followed by the prologue.
At the Crossroads Center, they’re in the business of granting second chances. And their newest client is Hope O’Neil – college student and Jane Austen devotee, who always believed she’d be more at home in Regency England, wearing corsets and courted by men in cravats. But can a modern girl really fit into a world with no electricity or indoor plumbing? Although Hope envisions her second chance will be something straight out of Pride and Prejudice, she gets more than she bargained for… a lot more.
Hope O’Neil – recent orphan, college student, and Jane Austen devotee – awoke completely uninjured but mystified to find herself in unfamiliar surroundings.
The last thing she remembered, she had been minding her own business, just walking down one of the many tree-lined sidewalks on campus, on the way from her freshman English class to a ten o’clock appointment with someone by the name of Mrs. Tanaka, a guidance counselor. It was a beautiful spring morning – deliciously cool but already hinting at the balmy South Carolina summer ahead. The air smelled of fresh-cut lawns. Larks and wrens were singing. Pink magnolia trees had begun bursting into bloom all over town. Long-legged youths in khakis and polo shirts played Frisbee on the quad.
In short, it was the sort of day that made a person glad to be alive.
And Hope was… glad to be alive, that is. No, her life wasn’t perfect. For one thing, she was pretty much alone in the world. She’d never had any siblings. Now her parents were gone. And she still hadn’t stumbled across the hunky-but-sensitive man of her dreams that the Regency era novels she read inspired her to expect. Yet her native optimism, which had allowed her to move beyond the tragedy of her parents’ deaths a year and a half before, also told her Mr. Wonderful was bound to turn up at any moment. She was sure some romantic adventure lay in store for her, at least she dearly hoped so.
In the meantime, she planned to focus on finding her calling. The fact that she didn’t know exactly where she was headed, career-wise, wasn’t at all unusual. Less than half of the kids on campus had decided on their major by the end of their first year. Most of the others had changed their minds at least once.
It wasn’t so much that nothing interested her. Quite the opposite; nearly everything did. College was a glorious buffet to Hope, with a hundred tantalizing entrees to pick from. English literature had the upper hand at the moment, but public health, environmental science, art history, and even paleontology had all been contenders at one time or another. Making a definite choice was the challenge, and, even more difficult, sticking to it. But that’s what guidance counselors were for, right? – to help students who lacked clear direction get things sorted out? Even though she had never met the woman, Hope placed the utmost confidence in Mrs. Tanaka’s ability to do just that.
And there was plenty of time to get herself sorted, have adventures, and fall in love, she reasoned. After all, she was only nineteen.
Yes, plenty of time.
Ironically, that’s what Hope O’Neil was thinking that April morning as she leisurely made her way toward Grady Hall. Then suddenly she heard a roaring noise overhead and time ran out.
It may sound like the end, but it’s really just the beginning – the beginning of Hope’s second chance at life. She’s about to set off on a wild romp through Regency England that’s something beyond what even she imagined! First she thinks she’s landed in Pride and Prejudice for sure, and then it’s looking more like Sense and Sensibility. Finally, to her dismay, Hope finds herself in a version of Mansfield Park instead, and she wishes she’d paid more attention to how that story goes.
The outcome may have been in doubt for a while, but now I can promise you a happy ending for Hope with a lot of humor and good, campy fun along the way. Watch for Leap of Hope and its launch-mate Leap of Faith in January!
How well do you think a modern-day coed will deal with the realities of nineteenth-century life? Would you like to see Hope discover her Mr. Darcy, or would it be more interesting if she got sidetracked by a rake such as Willoughby or Henry Crawford?