Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional. Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…
Tell me about yourself. What’s a day in your life like?
I get up, check and send emails, then promote my books however I can. I will do blogging in the afternoon. If I am working on a book, I will set aside a few times during the day to do research or write a scene. I also have a side job as an appointment setter so I do that as well. If calls are slow on the job, I can do writing or promotion. In the evening, I usually step away from things a bit and take a break. I will read a book or spend time with family. Before I go to sleep, however, sometimes I’ll get an idea for a story or a scene and I have to write that down.
When you were a child, what was your dream occupation?
I always wanted to be an author. I always told everyone that’s what I wanted to do. I also entertained the idea of running a bookstore, anything that would keep me close to writing and books.
Describe an incident in your life that’s helped mold you into the person you are today.
That is a hard question. I think there a lot of life-defining moments. I was always a romantic at heart. And even though I went through a couple of bad relationships, I still held out hope that there was someone for me. Those relationship, of course, made me wary. But, what was more, they made me realize what I wanted in a partner. So, when I actually met that person, I took it slow at first, but it was so worth it. He ended up being the one for me. And I think those experiences bleed through in some of my writing. They have also made me stronger as a person, less willing to let other people walk all over me.
Who are your favorite authors?
I’m glad I don’t have to pick just one. I like Nora Roberts, Catherine Coulter, J.R. Ward, P.C. Cast, Kerrelyn Sparks, Emma Wildes, Tessa Dare and Chloe Neill. And the list really goes on. I have even picked up a few independent authors such as Linda Lee Williams.
What are you passionate about?
Love. I love “love”. True love, especially. I know it exists because I somehow found it in my own life, despite all the obstacles. So, I like to write about it. I also am a sucker for justice. I hate cruelty in any form and to see anyone treated unfairly just bothers me.
What would I find in your couch cushions?
Pens? I love pens to write with, especially gel pens, but I have definitely misplaced pens many times.
What’s your biggest fear?
I am a little afraid of heights. That is manageable. But, I would have to say my biggest fear is claustrophobia. It’s not diagnosed or anything, but I don’t like to be stuck in enclosed spaces. It just makes me very nervous.
It’s 10:00 on a Friday night. Where are you?
Working, most likely. LOL. But, even when I’m not, I’d be home. If I go out, it’s to dinner and maybe a movie. I was never a partier or anything. I am definitely not outgoing in any way. I usually prefer a quiet evening at home to parties.
What sets you apart from other writers?
I’m not arrogant or conceited in any way so that question really stumps me. Ah…I guess there are some issues I approach in my books, issues that might be uncomfortable for some people. I don’t sugarcoat things very often. Things are what they are. Life is rarely wrapped up in pretty paper and tied with a bow, so why should I make things all fantasy? Life is complicated, and so are people. If they weren’t, why would we even try to understand each other? I think conflict is very important in fiction. Without it, the plot is dull. I don’t try to overcomplicate my characters’ lives or anything, but I don’t think it is all hearts and flowers either. I write romance. There will always be an HEA (Happily Ever After), but the road is not going to be easy.
We’re in a bar and I’m buying you a drink. What’ll it be?
I don’t drink alcohol. But, I wouldn’t mind a virgin peach daiquiri.
What are you currently reading?
I love the Black Dagger Brotherhood series so I am re-reading Lover Unleashed.
How do you deal with rejection?
I move on. I was rejected by so many literary agents and publishers before my current release was accepted. Every time I received a rejection letter with the same “this is a subjective business” line, I accepted that. And then I sent the query letter out to five more agents. I just kept trying. I knew I couldn’t let myself get discouraged or I’d never get it published.
Where did the idea for your novel come from?
It just came to me one day. Suddenly, I could see the characters clearly and hear the dialogue in my head. So I had to write it down. The rest of the story came later.
Do you have advice for aspiring writers?
Never give up. Believe me, it’s tempting. But, if you do, you’re only hurting yourself. Stay strong and keep moving forward. Keep learning and keep writing.
What is the toughest criticism you’ve received as an author?
I’ve had a couple of people suggest I ditch entire sections of my manuscript before. Yeah, it bothered me, but I just had to brush it off. I just had to think, “Hey, this is my book, not theirs. Only I know where it’s going.” If it was a question of whether those sections were needed, that would have been different. But, I knew they were necessary to make things clear to the reader. Cutting them out entirely would have been a tragedy.
What does your main character think about you? Would he or she want to hang around you as their author?
I’m too modern in some ways for Fara, the main character. But, deep down, we’re the same. We want to be loved and we want to be happy. Doesn’t everyone?
Who would play the starring role(s) if your book became a movie?
Possibly Amy Adams. I’m not really picky as long as the actress has the trademark red hair.
If you had to choose one…which song would sum up your story?
That’s a tough one, but Christina Perri’s “Arms” comes to mind.
If you’d like, provide an excerpt and/or back cover blurb:
Fara fought the darkness to the coming light. It was so easy to stay in the dark. It was comforting like a warm blanket. But, the light held such possibilities. She knew she must rouse, as if something significant lay there in wakefulness. She stirred and felt a pair of arms holding her. Then she heard a heartbeat beneath a rough fabric, felt a coarse texture of chest hair. It was so secure within that embrace.
When she finally realized it was a man who held her, she gasped and tried to retreat from the cord of muscles. She glanced up to be temporarily blinded by the lamplight to her left.
“Don't move,” said a soft but deep voice.
He spoke with the assurance of authority, and she could tell he was used to ordering people around. Well, he wouldn't order her. She lifted her heavy head and whimpered as a stab of agony sliced through her skull. Fara squeezed her eyes shut tight. It was so much easier to be left in the dark for it was as if her head was being cut with so many knives.
“I will have you more comfortable in a moment. Please do not move.”
How could she possibly move with all this pain and that large man rendering her limbs useless?
Suddenly, she felt a light cushion beneath her. The glare from the lantern came into her vision again when she opened her eyes and was then replaced by the outline of a man towering above her. She gasped and crawled away from him, but his hold on her waist hauled her back. Her head hurt so as he studied her face.
“Madame, the pain will be less if you stay still. I promise I did not bring you here to harm you in any way.”
She gradually settled back on the pillows and looked at her keeper. He was an attractive man, if one liked the rough, indignant kind. Dark layers of soft waves covered his head and ended at the nape of his neck. He was large, but slim in the right places...it spoke of years of hard physical labor.
His eyes captivated her as she studied him in such proximity. The shade of his eyes...a charcoal color; they were the most intense and unreadable eyes she'd ever seen. It was an odd, yet strikingly beautiful color for a man.
Oh, you silly girl, she thought. Really...how ridiculous for her to be wooed by only a pair of eyes. “May I ask you a question?”
“I insist you do, if you are not too unwell.” He gestured to her jaw.
Fara nodded, acknowledging the wound provided by the man named Bernard. She imagined what he referred to must indeed be a hideous sight. She looked around the room. It appeared to be a cabin of sorts. “Monsieur...how did I get here? Are we on a yacht?”
“A ship. My ship, La Voyageur,” he announced firmly with a lifted brow.
She faltered at the damning tone in his voice. It gave the impression that he was accustomed to some ridicule, but she could not fathom the reason for it. “You are a captain?”
“Mademoiselle.” She blushed.
“Ah. I knew you were too young to be saddled to one man, but thought it safer to say you were.”
“Monsieur...how long will I be here?”
He pointed to her throbbing jaw. “As soon as that is healed nicely, I will escort you to your home.”
Why, that could be days! Did he really mean to let her go, or was his intention to ask for a ransom? He had rescued her, but what if his motives were for reasons other than valor? “My uncle...he will be concerned for me. I insist you take me home now.” She realized her voice was too soft to sound commanding.
He shook his head. “I will have a message sent to him. What is his name?”
She sighed. “Michel de Bellamont.” She began to protest, “Monsieur, surely you do not intend to keep me here? That would not be right.”
“I do though. You fainted twice. I must be certain it won't happen again. That bastard hit you. I would be surprised if you didn't feel unwell. I will send the message to your uncle, informing him that his niece is in good hands. You will probably be better tomorrow. You may leave then if you wish.”
“All right, Monsieur. Merci.” He seemed to be concerned about her enough to care for her here. She still felt unsure about spending time alone with a complete stranger, especially a man, but she did not know how to convince him otherwise. He did not seem like the kind of man one questioned. And despite the fact that she'd thought he could be trusted, she still must be on her guard. She had no idea what he really intended.
Would you like to say anything to your readers / fans?
I hope you like Upon Your Return. I also have fifteen other books, penned under various names. They are listed on my site. I will be re-releasing all of them under Marie Lavender at some point.
Where link-wise can your readers / fans stalk you?
As a writer, it can be difficult to find enough time in the day to get everything done. Would you like to share your favorite ‘quick and easy’ recipe?
LOL. I’m still trying to figure that one out!
I have an anthology coming out very soon, titled Miss Lavender’s Anthology of Ramblings. It is a collection of stories and poems. I hope you will all read it!
About the Author:
Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.
At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child's play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted - to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.
Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender's real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel. Feel free to visit her website athttp://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.