Don’t miss the touching conclusion to bestselling author Becky Lower's Cotillion Ball Series...
In 1863, America is war-weary. Fifteen-year-old Saffron Fitzpatrick, whose teenage years have been spent mourning the dead rather than dancing at her debutante ball, just wants to visit her beloved horse after being housebound due to the draft riots. A chance meeting with soldier Ezekiel Boone changes everything.
Three years ago, Ezekiel ran away with his older brothers to join the war effort, welcoming the chance for adventure. But when all four of his brothers die at Chancellorsville, he retreats home, despondent and depending on the kindness of strangers, like Saffron, who help him on the journey. They share a wild ride and a breathless kiss, parting with fond memories.
Fate reunites the couple three years later, and their former attraction rekindles as they discover unexpected common ground and begin to build a relationship. But though the war is over, a future together may still elude them … especially if Saffron’s older, protective brother and the U.S. Army have anything to say about it.
Here's an excerpt!
New York City
July 15, 1863
Releasing a shallow breath, Saffron Fitzpatrick glided down the stairs on slippered feet, avoiding the creaky spots with unerring accuracy from years of practice. She surveyed the hallway and let out the rest of the air from her lungs. All the servants were still in the basement, preparing the noonday meal. If she hurried, she could escape the house undetected. She ran to the back door, her curls bouncing around her head, and let herself out into the yard.
Heart pounding, she stood, back up against the door, and listened. No frantic footsteps from inside the house meant her break to freedom had gone unnoticed so far.
After two days of being housebound due to the draft riots, Saffron had tired of heeding her father’s warnings to stay indoors. Even though his motives were sound and he was only trying to protect her from the roaming mobs, she would surely perish from boredom if she spent one more moment inside. Although her intent to breathe some fresh air was dashed because the city was foul with smoke from the fires being set around town, she still cherished the freedom of being outdoors. Her skin erupted in goose bumps at her boldness. She cringed back against the door as the distant shouts came closer.
But she had a mission: She needed to see Biscuit. She could certainly get from the family brownstone to the carriage house in their backyard without running into any of the rioters, couldn’t she? Talking to a horse beat staring at her bedroom ceiling. Or reading another boring book. Her intent clear, she pushed herself away from the door and ran to the small building.
She opened the door to the carriage house. Diffused lighting came through the windows near the roofline, and the cool air was filled with a familiar, comfortable combination of hay, horse dung, and leather. Saffron inhaled the scents as she waited for her eyes to become accustomed to the subdued light. Biscuit nickered a nervous greeting. She tiptoed across the brick floor toward the mare’s stall.
And came to an abrupt halt.
The apples, which Saffron kept in a bucket to dole out to the horse, were all gone. As were the carrots. Someone had been in the carriage house, and possibly still was. She backed toward the door, hoping if she were quiet, whoever was or had been in the carriage house would not notice her. She’d go back to the house and sound an alarm. Then, armed with the servants, she could return and confront whomever was here.
But Biscuit nickered again. If someone was intent on setting fire to the carriage house, Saffron needed to take her horse into the yard first, then call for the servants. She picked up a hayfork and made her way forward, her slippers not making a sound as they moved over the floor. She opened the door to the stall and found what was upsetting her horse, and the answer to why all the good treats were gone. A Union soldier was asleep in the hay next to Biscuit.
Amazon best-selling author Becky Lower has traveled the country looking for great settings for her novels. She loves to write about two people finding each other and falling in love, amid the backdrop of a great setting, be it on a covered wagon headed west or in present day small town America. Historical and contemporary romances are her specialty.
Becky is a PAN member of RWA and is a member of the Historic and Contemporary RWA chapters. She has a degree in English and Journalism from Bowling Green State University, and lives in an eclectic college town in Ohio with her puppy-mill rescue dog, Mary. She loves to hear from her readers at email@example.com. Visit her website at www.beckylowerauthor.com
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Amazon page: http://amzn.to/1FOy3Sd
E.E.: What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile?
Becky: I don’t have a TBR pile so much as I do a TBF(to be finished) pile. I’m currently in the middle of the YA book about the Revolutionary War, Johnny Tremain, which won the Newbury Award when it was first published in the 40s. I’m also reading a contemporary chick lit book called Thursdays at Coconuts. I was sucked in by the title. I’m reading a short self-help book on how authors can sell through social media, called When Books Fly. I just started Lynn Cahoon’s cozy mystery Guide Book to Murder, and I’m a third of the way into Enticing Miss Eugenie by Ella Quinn.
E.E.: What drew you to write in the genre(s) you do?
Becky: I’ve always enjoyed reading Regency romances, but I first became interested in writing in my adult life when I asked the “what if” question following a viewing of the Jedediah Smith story on the History Channel. I dove into the research about this fascinating man, and took years to sort through all of it. I was at a writer’s group and asked the speaker when to stop doing the research and write the story. She asked if I had a story to write. I did (it’s still being written, tho), but I had gained all this knowledge of early America that wasn’t necessary to that story. So I combined the two areas I love–Regency and America, in my Cotillion Ball Series. The final book, The Forgotten Debutante, just released last month.
E.E.: If you could interview one person, who would it be?
Becky: This one’s easy. I’d love to sit around a campfire with Jed Smith.
E.E.: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and why?
Becky: Again, an easy one. I’d love to be on a wagon train heading west to Oregon in the 1840s.
E.E.: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?
Becky: I do read my reviews, but I’ve also spent my entire working life in the sales arena and have developed a very tough skin. Since reading is so subjective, I’ve come to expect a wide range of feelings about my books. I do pay attention to reviews from legitimate review sites, though, since any drawbacks to the book that they point out can be good for my future novels.
E.E.: What’s the first book you remember reading?
Becky: When I was little, I had to take care of my younger sister for a half-hour every morning and evening while my mom took care of another sister who had polio and couldn’t walk down the lane to the bus. I remember reading to her to fill up the time, and my favorite books were ones written by Dr. Seuss. The rhyming words lulled her to sleep every time, making my babysitting job very easy.
E.E.: Can you tell us about a real-life hero you’ve met?
Becky: I have two, and they came into my life recently. I was at the gym and fell while walking on the treadmill. Immediately, a gentleman hopped off his treadmill and held my arm, with its dislocated shoulder, in place until the ambulance arrived. And a woman sat behind me on the floor, up against my back and allowed me to lean on her. I don’t know their names, but I am so grateful there are decent folks in this world who aren’t afraid to step in when needed.
E.E.: Tell us how you feel about the series coming to an end, which books or characters you are most fond of, and if you'll include any of them in future books.
Becky: Most people seem to think I’d be sad to see my series come to an end, but instead of sadness, I’m excited. Ever since my first book was accepted, I’ve been on a tight schedule of producing a book for this series every six months. It’s given me very little time to explore other genres of writing. Now, I’m all over the place.
I have an idea for a YA novel about the Revolutionary War, I’m just getting started on a lighthearted contemporary, and I have recently finished a Christmas novella and another historical. I love the Native American family I created for the first book, The Reluctant Debutante, and will have some offshoot stories about a few of Joseph’s brothers in my future.
In fact, my recently completed historical centers around one of the brothers, Raoul, who leaves the Ojibwa camp, but instead of returning to his home in Missouri, he heads in the other direction, where he meets up with my great-grandmother at a time when she most needed him, mixing in some family lore, which is always fun.
My family was told from the time I was little that there was some Indian blood in our veins and we tried to figure out how and where it came from. The DNA test I had done a few years back revealed it all to be a lie. But so many of my Ancestry.com family had heard the same story, so there has to be some basis in fact. I created one possible answer with this book, which is very dear to my heart. It hasn’t found a publisher yet, but I hope to soon rectify that situation.
Today, Becky will give away an eBook copy of The Reluctant Debutante to a lucky reader. Just leave a comment and enter the drawing.
If you could go back in time, when, where and why?