There are times when I believe my entire life has revolved around the sea.
I grew up in a small town just north of Montreal, the same town I live in today. Although it has a rather large lake, it’s certainly not the towering majesty of the sea.
But every summer, for the last two weeks of August, my family drove to one of the most beautiful places in the world, the tiny village of Percé, in the Gaspé Peninsula, on the east coast of Quebec.
It was there that my father grew up, in a tiny farmhouse surrounded by green fields and unpaved roads, with the wonderful scent of the sea drifted all around us.
Those hot summer days were days I’ll never forget. Together with my cousins, I would venture to the beach, where we’d chase sea gulls, collect shells, and splash in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean. And when the tide was low, we’d walk along the sandbar to visit the famous Percé Rock.
Thus began my love affair with the sea.
So when I wrote Keeper of the Light, the second book of the Wild Geese Series, I was thrilled to have the chance to create my very own island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. And I really enjoyed being able to use many of my memories of those wonderful summer holidays in this story, from the tiny tidal pools to the towering waves, the lobster traps, and the feeling of community engendered there.
Laura Bainbridge, my heroine, loves tiny Turtle Island, where her father is the lighthouse keeper. Cathal Donnelly washed up on its shores with no memory of who he was or how he got there, but he soon fell in love with the island, despite its English heritage.
I hope you’ll enjoy reading Cathal and Laura’s story, and that you fall in love with Turtle Island, just as they did—and just as I did!
A Giveaway! Cynthia is giving away a signed print copy of Deceptive Hearts, Book I of the Wild Geese Series to one lucky commenter. Have you spent time or taken a vacation in a special place that still has a hold in your heart?
…Like the Wild Geese of Old Ireland, five boys grew to manhood despite hunger, war, and the mean streets of New York…
She was everything he despised…but he didn’t know it
Cathal Donnelly washed up on the shores of an Atlantic island one stormy night, with no memory of who he was or why he was there. But is his lovely rescuer his salvation…or his doom?
She dreamed of a very different life
Laura Bainbridge has spent her entire life on tiny Turtle Island, but she dreams of a Season in London and a presentation to Queen Victoria. Can a handsome Irish stranger with a golden tongue and a disturbing past change her heart and convince her to stay?
As Cathal’s memory slowly returns, both he and Laura must come to grips with his painful past…and fight for a future free of hatred and loss.
We are a Fenian brotherhood,
Skilled in the arts of war,
And we’re going to fight for Ireland,
The land that we adore.
Many battles we have won,
Along with the boys in blue
And we’ll go and capture Canada
For we’ve nothing else to do.
~ Fenian soldiers’ song
Queenstown Harbor, Ireland, “Black ‘47”
“Cathal, lad, look at me. Look at me now, and tell me why ye’re here.”
Cathal Donnelly’s soul shrank as the priest grasped his chin between long, bony fingers and forced his reluctant gaze up to his face. Father O’Reilly’s black robe flapped and snapped in the chill spring wind that slashed Cathal’s own skin. The gulls screaming over the sea like banshees sent shivers down his spine. He caught his lower lip between his teeth, struggling to control his shameful tears. “We’re going to America, Father.”
“And do ye know why ye must go to America?”
“Because we’ve no food, Father.”
“Ah, now that’s where ye’re wrong, lad.” Father O’Reilly glanced over to where Cathal’s family huddled together on the shore with hundreds of other emaciated refugees waiting to board the Sally Malone. Then he knelt before the ten-year-old boy, his dark-blue eyes blazing, his hands biting into his flesh. “Ye must go to America because the English decided ye’ve no food, Cathal. England starved ye, abused ye, and when ye dared to cry out for help, she turned blind eyes and deaf ears. Where has all the grain gone? And the cattle and the pigs and the sheep? All gone to England.” The priest waved a bony hand toward the quay, where huge, many-masted ships filled with food and livestock waited to sail. “All of it sent over the water so England may grow fat while Ireland starves. Do ye realize that, Cathal Donnelly? Do ye, lad?”
“Aye, Father.” Cathal widened his eyes in awe, pride swelling his heart and puffing out his thin chest. No one had ever talked to him this way, as if he were grown up. As if he understood. He’d heard the whispers in the back room at Phelan’s pub, or when the men were digging the praties before they’d turned to black slime in the pit. But never had anyone told him why they must send their own food away. “I understand.”
“Remember it then, lad. Remember it all—the hunger, the evictions, the cruelty. Remember it, and tell yer children, and in time their children. Will ye do that for me, Cathal Donnelly?”
“Aye, Father, I will.”
“The English drove ye from yer land.” Father O’Reilly’s voice shook with emotion. Tears sprang to his eyes and rolled down his cheeks, and Cathal’s heart twisted for the priest’s grief. “Don’t ever forget that, lad. Keep the memories alive, so that one day, please God, the wrongs done to our people will be righted.”
Blinded by tears that had nothing to do with the sharp salt wind blowing off the sea, Cathal clenched his fists, his soul crying out for justice. For vengeance.
“I promise, Father.”
You can find Keeper of the Light at:
Bio: I believe I was destined to be interested in history. One of my distant ancestors, Thomas Aubert, reportedly sailed up the St. Lawrence River to discover Canada some 26 years before Jacques Cartier’s 1534 voyage. Another relative was a 17thCentury “King’s Girl,” one of a group of young unmarried girls sent to New France (now the province of Quebec) as brides for the habitants (settlers) there.
My passion for reading made me long to write books like the ones I enjoyed, and I tried penning sequels to my favorite Nancy Drew mysteries. Later, fancying myself a female version of Andrew Lloyd Weber, I drafted a musical set in Paris during WWII.
A former journalist and lifelong Celtophile, I enjoyed a previous career as a reporter/editor for a small chain of community newspapers before returning to my first love, romantic fiction. My stories usually include an Irish setting, hero or heroine, and sometimes all three. I’m the author of The Claddagh Series, historical romances set in Ireland and beyond. The first three books in The Claddagh Series, In Sunshine or in Shadow, Coming Home, and Playing For Keeps, are all available from Highland Press. Deceptive Hearts, the first book in The Wild Geese Series, has just been released, and Book II, Keeper of the Light, will be released in October, 2013.
I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Celtic Hearts Romance Writers. A lifelong resident of Montreal, Canada, I still live there with my own Celtic hero and our two teenaged children.
You can find Cynthia at:
Photos by Cynthia Owens