Friday, January 29, 2016

A Lady of Many Devices: Award-Winning Author Shelley Adina

Nineteen Teen is delighted to welcome Shelley Adina, with whom Regina admits to having an author crush. Shelley writes wonderfully detailed books full of characters you can root for. We sat down with her to learn more about what she's been up to, and where she's going next with her intriguing Magnificent Devices series.

Nineteen Teen: You have written about life and love in Amish communities, a posh teen boarding school, and an oceanside community in the Pacific Northwest, but perhaps your most popular series is set in an alternative 1889 London, where Victoria is Queen, Charles Darwin's son is Prime Minister, and steam is the power that rules the world. What drew you to 19th century England and steampunk stories?

Shelley: I’ve been a fan of steampunk since the 1960s, when we’d watch Wild, Wild West and then act out our own episodes. I always had to be James West because I was the oldest, but secretly, I wanted to be Artemus Gordon, inventing all the cool weapons and gizmos, and knowing where all the secret cupboards were on the train. I was a bookish child, reading English authors like Elizabeth Goudge (The Little White Horse, Linnets and Valerians, The Dean’s Watch) and R.F. Delderfield, and Canadian authors like L.M. Montgomery. Maybe it was the libraries I consorted with, but then, there was almost no contemporary fiction for what we now call middle-grade and YA readers. There was a lot of fiction written and set in the 1800s and early 1900s for that age group, however. I think my tastes were set early … until I discovered Nancy Drew and my love of cozy mysteries.

19 Teen: Your heroine, Lady Claire Trevelyan, starts out in the aristocracy but yearns for something more. What do you like best about Claire? What sometimes challenges you?

Shelley: What I like best about Claire is her inability to stay down for long. She’s had her share of setbacks, but as she advises the Mopsies, “Look around you, catalogue your resources, and then apply your intellect.” That bit of advice has saved her (and me) many a time. The thing that challenges me about her is that she’s so loyal to her friends and the people she loves that it never occurs to her that she shouldn’t dash off and attempt to help when they get into trouble. This turns out to be quite a conflict in books 7 and 8, when Andrew Malvern, whom she honestly loves, has a fairly reasonable expectation that when they marry, she might settle down. I don’t think settling down has ever occurred to her, and a little maturing has to take place before she realizes that sometimes you have to give other people the chance to be the hero.

19 Teen: Your understanding of both the times and the technology really shine in your books. How did you get so wise on steam and did you uncover anything really surprising in your research?

Shelley: ::whispers:: You know a lot of that isn’t real, right?

Seriously, I’m fortunate in that a man who builds steam-powered engines lives not three miles from me. If I need to know the rate of burning coal for a steam train on a three-percent grade over 80 miles, he’ll run the calculations and tell me. (“If a train left London at 4:00 p.m. at sixty miles per hour …” Who knew word problems would ever be useful?)

As for surprises, one day, I was sitting at breakfast in a lovely B&B a thousand miles from home (, and at the next table sat a submarine captain and his mariner wife. It so happened that I needed to know how an undersea dirigible would operate, so I asked them if they would mind applying their imaginations to it. We had a very entertaining talk over the frittata about everything from oxygen levels to how one might escape out of a torpedo tube, much to Ian the innkeeper’s delight.

19 Teen: If you had been born in your alternative England, would you be a Blood (aristocrat, born to wealth) or a Wit (those who live by their intellect) and would you be satisfied with that?

Shelley: I’m definitely a Wit. I would have been a writer then, too, and hold lovely salons so that my writer friends and I could talk about the subject we love best over tea cakes and wine. Oh, wait. We do that now!

19 Teen: You have a new book out this month, squee! Tell us something about it.

Shelley: I’m so glad you brought that up. Here’s the story summary:

Her father started a war. She intends to stop it.

Her father may have sacrificed his own life to save hers, but heiress Gloria Meriwether-Astor is finding it difficult to forgive him. After all, how many young ladies of her acquaintance will inherit wealth, beauty, and a legacy of arms dealing? Now the Royal Kingdom of Spain and the Californias is about to declare war on the Texican Territory and Gloria simply will not allow it.

In company with Alice Chalmers and the crew of Swan, along with a lost young Evan Douglas seeking reparation for his own sins, she takes to the air. Her intention—to stop the train carrying the final shipment of monstrous mechanicals into the Wild West. But they should have known that making a deal with air pirate Ned Mose in exchange for his help could never end well.

What is a lady of principle to do? For the lives of thousands may depend on her ability to stop the war … even if it means losing everything and everyone she has come to love …

“It’s another element I love about these books; from Claire to Gloria to Alice to Lizzie and Maggie to Lady Dunsmuir, the women in this series generally like and respect each other. Other women are not required to be lesser—weaker, more cowardly, less intelligent—in order for Claire to be awesome. She is not an exceptional woman, she is an awesome woman among awesome women.” —Fangs for the Fantasy: The latest in urban fantasy from a social justice perspective

19 Teen: Sounds fabulous! Where is the Magnificent Devices series going next?

Shelley: Well, Gloria’s journey from former finishing-school mean girl to woman of principle and strength is just beginning. In the course of her attempt to stop the war (which will comprise Books 10–12), she will stretch the limits of her capabilities and beyond, will learn who she really is, and will become a force to be reckoned with in her own right. (It is no coincidence that the aforementioned posh boarding school in San Francisco is the Gloria Stanford Fremont Preparatory Academy, hm?) She will stop asking herself, “What would Claire do?” and begin to ask herself, “Is this the right thing for me to do—and how will it affect the people I care about?” She, too, has grown up in a world of privilege, and like Claire, must have it all stripped away so she can see what she can make of herself on her own.

19 Teen: Pop quiz round:

Fruit trifle or chocolate truffles? Fruit trifle, no question. Be liberal with the brandy.

Chamomile or Earl Grey? It depends on whether the stomach is unsettled. If so, the former. If not, the latter.

Napoleon or Wellington? Heavens. What a question for this citizen of the Commonwealth. Wellington, of course.

Empire waist or bustle dress? You tricky minxes. You’ve heard about my Regency prequels, haven’t you, dubbed “Prinnypunk”? The steam engine was invented during the Regency, as you know, with the help of Claire’s great-grandmother, Loveday Trevelyan. I have the clothes all ready to go. I just have to figure out how to make the goggles stay on a bonnet. And write the books.

Cats, dogs, or chickens? Chickens! In fact, I just wrote three of them into Gloria’s book. I didn’t mean to, I swear—I just opened a door and there they were, roosting on the bedframe in a deserted house! When they followed the characters out, I was helpless in the matter.

19 Teen: Where can our readers learn more about Shelley Adina?

Shelley: I’d be delighted if you’d visit Be sure to sign up for my newsletter, too, and get a free short story set in the Magnificent Devices world!

Thank you, ladies—it has been such a pleasure talking with you. Now … you were saying about trifle and tea …?

19 Teen: Right this way, my dear. And, if I might inquire about borrowing your goggles . . .

RITA Award® winning author and Christy finalist Shelley Adina wrote her first novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.A. in Literature, an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler who loves to imagine what might have been. Between books, Shelley loves playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Fashion with a Steampunk Twist: Guest Author Shelley Adina

Please give a warm Nineteen Teen welcome to Shelley Adina, bestselling author of the Magnificent Devices series.

It has been said in withering tones that steampunk is what happens when Goths discover brown. But I can assure you that isn’t true! Fashions in steampunk novels can be as varied as the women who wear them—from peacock feathers to dusty cotton. The guiding principle, though, is the maker philosophy; in other words, one creates one’s outfits to suit one’s activities and personality.

In the opening chapters of Lady of Devices, it’s no coincidence that my heroine Lady Claire is dressed in a seersucker school uniform (indicating she is given no choice in her dress) and completely forgets her appointment with the dressmaker (a response to being given no choice at home, either). It’s a sign of things to come, when she joins forces with a street gang who make their living as rag-pickers, and learns firsthand about making an outfit out of nothing. But every heroine has to start somewhere, because the girl who forgets her fitting with the modiste who outfits the royal princesses has a mother described like this:

“Lady St. Ives sat upon the forest-green brocade couch, its width sufficient to accommodate the bustles and petticoats of the fashionable, in the forefront of which she maintained a dashing lead. Her navy-and-white striped silk skirts were overlaid by a polonaise of navy damask trimmed in gold ruching, and gold rosettes drew the eye to a square neckline and the statuesque figure that was the envy of many a dumpier matron. The fact that Claire had inherited her father’s height but not her mother’s figure, her father’s unruly auburn mane and not her mother’s blonde curls, was a continuing source of despair.” —Lady of Devices

Elaborate gowns have no place in the world of mad scientists, stolen airships, and explosions that Claire must learn to live in. As the books go on, she develops her own taste, which runs to practical navy skirts and pretty blouses (known as “waists” in those days) with sleeves that can be rolled up so as not to get in the chemicals.

But her favorite outfit is her “raiding rig,” which she has put together to suit herself and her own needs as the leader of the cleverest gang in the London underworld:

She had dressed carefully in raiding rig for the occasion, in a practical black skirt that could be rucked up by means of internal tapes should she have to run or climb. She had dispensed with a hat for the evening, choosing instead to simply leave her driving goggles sitting in front of her piled hair, a gauzy scarf wound over it and around her neck. A leather corselet contained a number of hooks and clasps for equipment, and instead of her trusty rucksack, she wore a leather harness with a spine holster specially made to the contours of the lightning rifle she had taken from Lightning Luke Jackson three weeks ago. She was pleased to see that her lacy blouse remained pristine white.
“Great Caesar’s ghost,” Lord James said, gaping at her. “What in heaven’s name have you got on?”
“A costume,” she said, twirling like a ballerina. The fact that her rig was both practical and sensational delighted her. “Do you like it?”
“You look like an air pirate. Let those skirts down at once. Do you want His Royal Highness to see your knees?” —Her Own Devices

In the fictional steampunk world, a woman can wear couture if it suits her, or put together her own practical outfit. And in the real steampunk world outside books, a woman can do the same. Some like to comb secondhand shops and up-cycle pieces to assemble something new and old at the same time. Some buy ready-made outfits from online stores. And some find pride in their own craftsmanship, designing and sewing Victorian or neo-Victorian costumes that reflect their personalities and the characters they play at events and conventions.

I do a mix—I’ll pair a bustle and skirt I made with an formal dirndl bodice in black silk that I found in a mountain town in Austria (see picture). Or I’ll wear a store-bought Edwardian striped skirt with a middy blouse and bolero jacket I made. With both I’ll wear my Timberland buckled boots, which have the advantage of being comfortable, practical, and stylish. One must, after all, be able to dance as well as shoot in any ensemble one wears!
RITA Award® winning author and Christy finalist Shelley Adina wrote her first novel when she was 13. It was rejected by the literary publisher to whom she sent it, but he did say she knew how to tell a story. That was enough to keep her going through the rest of her adolescence, a career, a move to another country, a B.S. in Literature, an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and countless manuscript pages.

Shelley is a world traveler who loves to imagine what might have been. Between books, Shelley loves playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens.

Friday, January 22, 2016

For the Love of Steampunk

It’s no secret that Marissa and I are in love with the nineteenth century. Most of our works have been set in that era, and we’ve been gleefully blogging about our obsession with various facets of the history since September 2007. What you’ve probably guessed from some of our posts is that we also have a fascination with science. So what better than a genre that mixes both!

Steampunk is speculative fiction that sets fantastic inventions against a (generally) nineteenth century backdrop. Think Jules Vernes or The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Steamships ply the waters and sail the skies; steam engines propel amazing machines across a landscape populated by gentlemen in Bowler hats and ladies in bustle dresses. If that’s not enough to set you drooling, consider the incredible world-building that goes into creating what is essentially an alternative universe.

Now, some of the steampunk out there is rather dark, and I’m not, so I tend to gravitate to the more adventurous and romantic stories. Some of my favorites are Kenneth Oppel’s Matt Cruse trilogy (Airborn, Skybreaker, and Starclimber) and Scott Westerfeld’s Leviathan series (Leviathan, Behemoth, and Goliath). And I have high hopes for The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher, which is on my to-be-read list.

And then there’s the Magnificent Devices series by Shelley Adina. High society meets creative invention. Young ladies find ways to move from queen of the ballroom to the captain of a dirigible. Be still my heart!

Sound like something you might be interested in too? Well, you’re in luck. Shelley will be our featured author next week on Nineteen Teen! On Tuesday, she takes you into the world of steampunk fashion. And on Friday, we will get her to spill all her secrets, including where the series going next.

Strap on up your aviators and lace up your corsets. Next week, Nineteen Teen goes steampunk!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Regency Fabrics, Part 8

Here’s another post in our ongoing series on Regency fabrics.

As I have in previous posts, I’ll be examining actual fabric samples glued into several earlier editions of Ackermann’s Repository, samples supplied by the manufacturers and published by Ackermann in order to boost the British cloth-making industry at a time when exporting British goods to Europe was almost impossible because of the Napoleonic war. I'll give you a close-up scan of each sample, the published description if available, and my own observations of the color, weight, condition, and similarity to present-day materials, to give you as close a picture as possible of what these fabrics are like. So here we go!

We have three fabrics from January 1810*; overall condition is very good considering their age, apart from some raveling of the samples themselves.

Nos. 1 and 2. A ruby damask furniture chintz, calculated for curtains, sofas, beds, &c. The linings, which form the most pleasing contrast of this elegant article, are, Sicilian or celestial blue, spring or pea-green. For dining-rooms, deep borders, of plain or fancy-cut velvet, have a rich and appropriate effect. For drawing-rooms, the draperies should be the colour of the lining, tastefully blended, and fringed to correspond. This article is manufactured and sol by Mr. Allen, 61, Pall-Mall.

My comments: What a lovely, rich color! Though the scan isn't doing it justice, it looks just like a lightly glazed modern chintz, printed in a classic brocade pattern, thought perhaps just a slight bit heavier than a modern chintz. It's a little hard to imagine it paired with a celestial blue or pea green lining, though!

No.3. A mazarine and orange flowered gossamer silk, adapted for full dress. This striking and brilliant article we recommend to be formed in Circassian or Polish robes, and worn with white satin or crape slips. If formed as a round dress, it cannot be constructed too simple: the glowing richness of its hues renders every auxiliary unnecessary. Diamonds and pearls, or white beads, are the only ornaments which can be allowed with robes of this article. It is furnished by Harris, Moody, and co, Pall-Mall.

My comments: This sample has very clearly not aged well, as it appears to be an inoffensive silk brocade in a denim blue with a cream-colored floral pattern woven in. However, from the description, it was originally a deep purplish blue with orange flowers...oh my! Again, I have to wonder how well the fashion prints in Ackermann and elsewhere reflect the reality of what was actually being worn. As for the weight and feel of the fabric--it's simply lovely, with an attractive sheen that alas is not coming through on the scan and a silky hand, lightweight enough to float yet with enough heft to drape well. I wouldn't have said no to a dress in this fabric, orange and purple notwithstanding!

No. 4 is a most delicate cotton, or mole velvet. It exhibits a pleasing and convincing specimen of the lightness and delicacy to which the perseverance and ingenuity of the manufacturer has brought this article. Robes, mantles, and coats, composed of this material, with well-contrasted linings and trimmings, have a most seasonable and fashionable effect; and are purchased less than half the price of the silk velvet, which is ever a favourite article with our elegant females for winter wear. Trimmings best adapted for mantles and coats, are, leopard-skin, American squirrel, or grey fox; besides many fancy borders in Chinese silk. For robes, gold, silver, and white beads, form a lively and elegant association. This article is furnished us, and sold, wholesale and retail, of all possible colours, from 5s. to 7s. per yard, by John Sutterfield and Co. Manchester.

My comments: Another delightful dress fabric, this time in what we might today call velveteen: it's a lightweight fabric with a light nap, and would do very well for a winter dress though perhaps a little too lightweight to make a very good mantle or coat, even trimmed with fur (leopard? Yikes!)

*And speaking of 1810, stay tuned for a new series I’ll be kicking off in a few weeks...

Friday, January 15, 2016

Pioneer Legends: Charles Terry

In Instant Frontier Family, heroine Maddie O’Rourke has reason to doubt the character of the rival bakery owner in Seattle, Charles Terry. But Maddie may have judged too harshly. In fact, according to early historian Clarence Bagley, “Charles C. Terry was recognized as one of the most honorable men and trusted citizens that Seattle has ever known.”

If one word sums up Terry, it would be entrepreneur. He left his home town of Waterville, New York, at age 19 for the California Gold Rush. But the gold must not have been enough for this enterprising young man, for he headed north when he was 21 and met up with the second half of the Denny party, among the first settlers to the Seattle area. Journeying to Washington Territory, he joined his brother Lee, who was already hard at work building the first cabins. Some sources credit Terry with naming their little establishment New York. But someone must have wanted to temper the enthusiasm, but the native word “Alki” to the name, meaning “by and by,” was appended to the name.

According to some chroniclers, Terry had already figured out from the Gold Rush that the path to fortune wasn’t in mining, but in outfitting miners. Accordingly, he set up a store in the new town, conveniently positioned to attract passing ships. He also opened his own sawmill for a time. When gold was discovered in the Fraser River, however, he was among those who rushed farther north for a time, although it is possible he was there to sell equipment, not pan for gold. Regardless, he did so well for himself, that he eventually sold his Alki property for land across the bay, in Seattle proper, as well as a farm on the Duwamish River.

In 1856, at age 26, he married one of the few unwed ladies in the area, Mary Jane Russell. They had five children together. He built her the finest residence in Washington Territory, a white house with brick-a-brack hanging from every eave. It once stood at the corner of Third and James and made Maddie O’Rourke dream of finding similar success. He opened the first bakery, built the first cracker mill. He was one of the first town trustees. And he generously offered land to make up the 10-acre tract required to attract the first Territorial University to Seattle, a school that would become the University of Washington.

Sadly, Terry died young, at only 37, approximately three months after the story ends in Instant Frontier Family. Very likely he had consumption (tuberculosis). He died one of the wealthiest men in the area, and clearly one of the most respected.

I’m sure Maddie would have been his friend long before then. 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

History: It's Where You Find It

Happy New Year, Nineteen Teen readers! I hope 2016 will be all that you hope for!

There’s one thing Regina and I are hoping for this year here at NineteenTeen —to hear from you! If you have a topic or question about an aspect of history, then please, let us know! We’ve been doing this for over eight years, which says something—that history is a beautiful, rich subject to be explored! But even crazy blogging history geeks like us can use a little help now and then when it comes to topics to discuss, so talk to us!

Inspiration for this blog can truly come from unexpected places. Last fall I was at a concert given by the Handel and Haydn Society, and as always read through the program because it often includes terrific historical background items in with the composer biographies and musical commentary. In a regular feature of interesting bits of history from the Society archives, I found something very interesting indeed: for ten years, the organist of the Society was a young woman who, when she started, could not have legally bought a beer in present-day Boston.

Sophia Hewitt, born in New York in 1799, came of a musical family—her father was a conductor and composer, and all her siblings were either composers, teachers, or performers—and was a very talented pianist and organist. The family moved to Boston some time during her childhood, and so talented was young Sophia that the newly formed Handel and Haydn Society invited her to become its organist in 1818, when she was just 18. She declined the offer, but the Society was persistent and renewed the offer two years later, and this time she accepted.

The post of organist was an important one—it was her job to lead rehearsals and serve as de facto conductor. The orchestra was very happy with Miss Hewitt (or, as she became upon her marriage a few years later to the first violinist, Mrs. Ostinelli) and she served for ten years, through the birth of her only child Eliza (who went on to become one of the great operatic voices of 19th century America). In 1830, when the president of the Society wished to replace her with a new (male) organist, all thirty-eight male members of the Society--the females were not allowed to vote--petitioned to keep Sophia in her position. They were overruled.

Sophia continued to have a busy musical career across New England, teaching and performing, until her early death in 1845. But I just think it’s pretty awesome that in 1820, such a young woman was regarded with such professional respect.

Run across any interesting bits of history lately that you'd like to share?

Friday, January 8, 2016

Could You Have Been a Mercer Belle?

We’ve talked a bit about how back at the end of the Civil War, an enterprising young man named Asa Mercer decided to bring widows and orphans from the East Coast to marry lonely bachelors on the West Coast. The heroines of my Frontier Bachelors series have so far all been fictional members of Mercer’s party. They left everything—family, friends, vocations—to travel around the continent to pioneer Seattle. One of the questions readers often ask me is whether I would have been willing to be a Mercer Belle.

The answer took some thought. Could I have been as brave and bold as those ladies?

Widow Allegra Howard, heroine of The Bride Ship, boarded the Continental to sail with Mercer because she was fleeing oppression. In her case, it was in-laws determined to run her life down to the last moment, including telling her how her daughter should be raised. Many of the real-life Mercer Belles were fleeing economic oppression. During the war, they had worked in factories and mills, bringing much-needed income to their families. But the returning soldiers would take their places, leaving them out of work. They hoped to find opportunities on the frontier.

Catherine Stanway, heroine of Would-Be Wilderness Wife, came to Seattle hoping to start anew. Her father and brother were killed in the war, leaving her alone in the world. The real-life Mercer Belles had also seen loved ones—sweethearts, fathers, brothers—die, and the men who returned in some cases came back hollow shells with no interest in marrying. They hoped for a brighter future in the West.

Rina Fosgrave, heroine of Frontier Engagement, came to Seattle to become her own person. Raised by charlatans who made her believe she was someone special, she wanted to contribute something to society. The real-life Mercer Belles also felt strongly about giving back. Many saw it as their mission to be a civilizing force on the new frontier.

Maddie O’Rourke, heroine of January’s Instant Frontier Family, wanted more than what she had. An Irish lass with a skill for baking, she’d served as a laundress in New York, lugging heavy loads up and down three flights of stairs and laboring in the heat and harsh chemicals. She dreamed of a nice house rather than a tenement, leisure time with her family instead of endless, back-breaking work. The real-life Mercer Belles also looked beyond what was expected of them. Asa Mercer may have accepted bride money from a number of men, but that didn’t mean the ladies had to marry them! They went on to be lighthouse keepers, teachers, and yes, wives and mothers of the next generation in the Northwest.

I like to think I look for opportunities to make the most of my skills, that I see the possibilities in the future, that I give back to society, and that I’m willing to work for what I want. Maybe that makes me good material for a Mercer Belle.

What about you? 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Available This Instant: Instant Frontier Family

When my publisher said my next book would be out January 1, I laughed. Imagine burly distributors stocking books on New Year’s Day! But thanks to technological advances, Instant Frontier Family was available in an instant and can now be found at online retailers and booksellers near you.

Maddie O'Rourke's orphaned half brother and half sister have arrived safely in Seattle, with a man they hope she'll wed! Though Michael Haggerty's not the escort she planned for, Maddie allows him to work off his passage by assisting in her bakery…and helping care for her siblings. But she'll never risk her new-found independence by marrying the strapping Irishman, or anyone else. 

In New York, Michael ran afoul of a notorious gang. Traveling west was a necessity, not a choice. The longshoreman grew fond of his young charges, and now he's quickly becoming partial to their beautiful sister, too. So when danger follows him, threatening Maddie and the children, he'll do anything to protect them, and the future he hopes to build.

Of course, neither of them was too sure about love to start:

Michael followed her into the kitchen. “With dozens of suitors to choose from, you haven’t found one to your liking?” he asked, trying for a light tone. “Are your standards so high, Maddie?”

She chuckled as she pulled a canister from under her worktable and pried off the lid. “Sure-n I could find more than one fellow in that lot to marry, if marriage was important to me.” She jingled the coins she drew from her skirts and dropped them into the tin with a clank. “As it is, if I marry I have to share all this. Why would I want to be doing that, when it’s my efforts that earned it in the first place?”

He couldn’t argue with her there. He knew the law generally granted any money a woman earned to her husband. But to be so coldhearted about it? That didn’t make sense.

She cocked her head, watching him. “You look disappointed in my answer. Did you think I should give up my dreams to marry? You never let love get in the way of your goals, did you now? You wouldn’t have let your Katie sway you from your intended course.”

“I fell in love,” he admitted, “but I never lost sight of my goals. If I had been willing to compromise my values, I might be married by now.”

“Love is compromise from what I can see,” she said, going to the washbasin, wetting a cloth and wringing it out. “You work and work to put food on the table and clothes on your back, until there’s no time left for love. Sure-n but we’re better off without such heartache.” She tossed him the rag, and he caught it in one hand. “Use that to clean off the counter. I’ll go up to check on Ciara and Aiden, and then I’ll start the baking for this evening.”

In the act of pushing back into the shop, Michael paused. “More baking?”

She laughed. “You make it sound as pleasant as the rack. Yes, more baking. That’s my job. This is a bakery, and I bake. I was hoping for a lady to come with Ciara and Aiden to help, if you recall.”

And she’d gotten him instead. “I’m sorry I can’t be more use to you,” he said, “but I’ll do what I can.” Feeling inept for the first time in his life, he went to clean off the counter, wiping away the crumbs and scrubbing at the drips of icing. Yet her words refused to leave him.

He wanted to agree with her that love meant heartache. He’d certainly had his fill. But some part of him whispered that more might be possible, if he would but try once again.

He had been so focused on his task that he didn’t see her move into the room. Instead, he felt her hand on his arm.

“Good enough, Mr. Haggerty,” she said. “Another minute and you’ll rub right through the wood.”

He relaxed his hand, feeling her grip soften. She was close enough that he could see a dusting of freckles across the tip of her nose, as if ginger had escaped some of her cookies. Cinnamon-colored lashes fluttered over eyes as dark as fresh-roasted coffee.

Michael mentally shook himself. Working in the bakery must have addled his brain, because all he could think about was that her kiss would taste as sweet as her cooking.

Interested to see what happens when Michael and Maddie share their first kiss? Purchase your own copy at
My publisher's website
The Book Depository (free shipping worldwide)

And look for more information on Instant Frontier Family on Friday.