Today I am excited to have Patricia Charles stop in for a visit. She brought her new book, “Unconditional Surrender”. And oh yeah, she has a really cool surprise for us at the end of her visit. First, don’t you just love this cover?
Riding horses, sleeping under the stars, and drinking beer by the campfire with friends were just a few of the reasons Creed Graham loved Civil War re-enactment events. He couldn’t get enough of them, and things got even better when Kirsten McConnell walked into his life.
Why on earth would any woman want to wear a tight corset all day, sleep on straw at night, and cook over an open fire? No TV, air-conditioning or cell phones? She couldn’t believe she let her friend drag her here. Kirsten knew she would loath every moment of this Civil War re-enactment. But then she met Creed.
Sparks ignite in a blazing star filled night of passion. Sleeping on straw isn’t so bad with Creed beside her. When tragedy strikes, Kristen’s happily ever-after seems as far away as the Civil War. Her perfect world collapses, and she’s left with problems too monumental for even Creed’s love to scale. Amongst the explosions of mock cannon fire, they stand on opposite sides in the war on love. Can there be an Unconditional Surrender or will the North and South forever be at odds?
Just in case that didn’t make you interested, here is a breath-taking sample of what is behind that awesome cover—-
In the time since Kirsten last saw him, he changed very little. He still exemplified everything a cavalry officer would have been in the 1860’s. The black horse he rode was larger than the others and the officer, tall himself, towered over the men of his unit.
A shock of black hair tumbled from his slouch hat and curled over his navy blue frock coat. His beard, like he just woke from the night and hadn’t shaved yet, was as black as the horse he rode. His eyes were the color of the sky against his sun-tanned face. Broad shoulders under his wool coat tapered to his waist and then to long, sinewy legs clad in knee high black boots.
Still as handsome as the first time she saw him. Even then he rode his horse behind the men in his company. Even then she shopped at the sutlers, and he noticed her.
As he rode nearer, she recalled his tousled hair when he woke at her side and how his first declaration of love caused her to sob so hard she couldn’t answer. Most of all, she remembered the look in his eyes when they glowed with desire.
Yet today was different, not just because they already had loved each other or because he proposed, and she accepted. Her heart still trembled as it had every time she looked at him, but today was different mainly because a young boy, perhaps two years old, sat before him on the saddle. The child was a close duplicate of Creed from his black hair covered with a Yankee kepi to the boots on his tiny feet. He looked up at Creed with a smile and adoration.
Her heart tore apart. She strained to breathe. Was that his son? It had to be. They looked so much alike. Is this what our son would have looked like? Is he happy like she’d never be? When had he married? So many questions, each a wound in her heart. Not long after their scheduled wedding if she could judge by the child’s age. No, he didn’t mourn very long for the death of their love. But she knew from experience Creed wasn’t one to mourn.
Every irrational dream she dreamt about Creed exploded within her. The pain was swift like a kick in the stomach. Nausea overcame her. She forced the tears away and plastered a smile on her face. He would never know her pain. She’d never let him see her with tears again. He didn’t deserve that confidence.
Creed’s eyes met hers. He leaned toward the man riding beside him, spoke a couple of words to him, broke away from the column and halted his horse before her.
Several moments passed before either of them said anything. It seemed an eternity to her. An eternity burning in hell for her sins.
He nodded his head in acknowledgment. “Hello, Kirsten,” he said. His look of exasperation and disapproval filtered into his voice.
“Hello, Creed.” His name flowed easily off her tongue. In her dreams and memories, she said his name often, but she thought she’d never again have to say it to him.
The child in his arms tilted his head back to watch Creed speak. When Creed said nothing more, the child fidgeted in the saddle. He patted Rienzi’s neck with his tiny hand. He tugged on his kepi, tilting it to the side in affectation of the arrogant manner the cavalry sometimes wore their hats.
She couldn’t tear her gaze from the duplication of Creed. He bounced in the saddle, unconcerned with the stranger viewing him. He didn’t stay still one moment, but continued to twist, turn and fidget.
In contrast, Creed didn’t move. If he even blinked, she didn’t see it. He stared at her as she stared at the child–the child that might have been theirs.
She was so taken with the presence of the small boy she didn’t notice the horse Creed rode step closer to her until his nose almost pressed against her shoulder.
She jumped back when the horse pawed the ground. He snorted and tossed his head, warning her away. Rienzi hated her, she recalled, and backed further from him. The horse took an intimidating step toward her, stopped and shook his head. He too disapproved of her appearance at a reenactment.
“Common. Go,” the boy demanded, kicking at the saddle with his tiny boots to spur Rienzi.
Creed straightened the kepi on the boy. The child slipped it once again to that arrogant angle of the mounted.
Creed turned Rienzi from her. For a moment Kirsten thought he wanted to say something more to her, and she held her breath in fearful anticipation.
He glanced over the back of the horse, and then he tipped his hat.
RJS: Okay, personally, I can’t wait to get my own copy of Unconditional Surrender. Patricia, tell us a little about why you wrote a romance set at a Civil War Reenactment?
PC: Years ago I decided to write a romance. I joined RWA and the chapter in New Orleans SOLA. They emphasized write what you know. What did I know? I love historicals. I’m from the South. And I read Gone with the Wind twice. Perfect. I would write a historical set in Mississippi during the Civil War.
RJS: Yes, that makes perfect sense.
PC: While doing my research, my mother who lives on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi informed me that Beauvoir, the last home of Jefferson Davis, was having a “Fall Mustard.” I didn’t even know what a “mustard” was, so I had to attend.
Actually, Mom misunderstood. It was a “Muster.” I had a fabulous time. Everyone was so helpful, showing me rifles, saddles, tents, everything I knew to ask at this point in my writing. Then… I saw a captain of the Confederacy, dressed in his grays and his sword. An old flame that I had had a crush for years in high school. He invited me back to the ball that night, which was closed to the public. All I had to do was wear a hoopskirt.
Of course, every girl from Mississippi has a hoopskirt in her closet, right? Wrong. But my aunt did.
The date with the captain wasn’t what I had dreamed about for years, but I discovered a new love, reenacting. Dancing to the sound of fiddles and banjos under a chandelier of candles, hung from ancient oak trees was actually better than writing about it. It was living it.
I was “mustered” into the 3rd Mississippi Infantry. Sometime we were Confederates and sometime Federals. We honored both sides for their sacrifices.
RJS: Very nice. I like that.
PC: Of course, I didn’t protest against which side we represented. I protested about camping. I would have to sleep at a hotel with cable TV, air-conditioning, hot showers and a blow dryer. I wouldn’t be caught dead sleeping on the ground or using the port-a-let.
Yea, right. It only took one reenactment with me in a hotel to realize I was missing most of the fun, sitting around the campfire, singing Civil War songs and curling up on a wool blanket to the sounds of men snoring. Sound awful? It was the best time of my life.
My historical set in Natchez became a contemporary set at a reenactment. Yes, the Natchez book is still incubating in my mind. But my first book had to be a romance where I fell in love with reenacting.
I hope you will pick up Unconditional Surrender and love it as much as I loved living it. PS Some of the more humorous scenes actually happened.
RJS: Wow, since I have an interest in the Civil War and hold fond memories of camping, I am sure this book will strike a few chords with me. Patricia, what else can you tell us about yourself?
PC: I remember going to the public library when I was a small child. The Pascagoula library was only a block away. I wasn’t allowed to cross the street, so my older brother was delegated to take me. Of course, I wouldn’t let him carry my books. I was a big girl! I remember I had so many books I had to balance them with my chin. I also recall crying when I had to return them. Books have been in my life as long as I can remember.
My love of books eventually led me to the theatre. I have a Master’s of Arts in Drama and Communications and a Master’s of Library and Information Sciences. Naturally I am a librarian, a medical librarian.
Additionally, I am a member of the Romance Writers of America, Southern Louisiana Chapter of RWA and Celtic Hearts. In 2013 I won Best Historical and Highest Overall Score in the Dixie Kane Contest.
I live on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, having moved here from New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Frodo, my large 14 pound Pomeranian, likes to lick my feet while I write.
RJS: Too cool. Where can we read more or follow you and get a copy of Unconditional Surrender?
PC: My website is http://patriciacharlesauthor.com/ There readers can find out what I am up to and links to my other social media sites. And here’s the exciting surprise… I am giving away a lovely gold locket in a random drawing. It holds the faces from the cover of the book. Anyone interested in entering, please go to my website http://patriciacharlesauthor.com and make a comment. Include an email address and request to be added to the drawing. Giveaway is scheduled after the release date for Unconditional Surrender after December 31, 2014.
RJS: Oh, that is lovely and anyone would be lucky to have won that. Patricia, it has been a great pleasure to have you here today. Your book sounds very interesting and I wish the best success with it. Thank you for stopping by today.