Lily and the Gambler On Sale #99cents #AuthorLove + #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travels

I’m taking a break from my European trip to talk about California’s Gold Country, setting of Lily and the Gambler, now on sale for 99 cents for the summer. (See buy links below.) I’m also spotlighting the #AuthorLove #Romance blog exchange organized by author Tina Gayle.

Summer Sale graphic 1

First the travel bit, and I have to say that it’s nice to remember vacations with my hubby without getting all weepy.

My husband and I toured California’s Gold Country twice some years ago and I fell in love with it. Gold Country is best enjoyed by driving State Highway 49. We started at the southern end, in Mariposa, and drove north to Sacramento, and then Grass Valley and Nevada City, where my book is set Valley in September 1868. I recall scribbling descriptions of the scenery as we drove along.

lone tree on hill

Lone tree on a hill under clear blue sky. © logoboom

She watched mile after mile of open spaces pass by, all bathed in brilliant sunlight. In the distance, clusters of dark green trees dotted a hillside, standing out in contrast to the lighter yellow-green of the grass. Wispy white clouds, without a hint of rain in them, streaked the sky, separating shades of blue ranging from pale turquoise to bright azure.

We made the trip twice, first strictly as a vacation, though I kept thinking how I’d like to set a book in the area. The second was a research trip for me, if not for my DH. At one point, he threatened to divorce me if I dragged him through one more mining museum!

A lot of the old Victorian homes have been turned into bed and breakfasts, and we took advantage of that to stay in some lovely old homes.

Interesting stops along the way include:

Sonora, a lovely little town that hosts the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park. For the kid in all of us.

Columbia State Historic Park, the best preserved Gold Rush town in the state.

California Columbia carriage in a real old Western Gold Rush Town in USA

Angels Camp, where Mark Twain heard a story on which he based his short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County.”

Placerville, formerly nicknamed Hangtown for the zeal of its law enforcement.

If you’re up this way, do take a side trip to Sacramento, the state capital, with its charming Old Sacramento historic area, and the amazing California State Railroad Museum. This is one of my all-time favorite museums. It was fun to climb aboard the old trains and imagine traveling in a different time.

And my favorite, Grass Valley, a charming town with the attraction of having the wonderful Empire Mine State Historic Park, a fascinating glimpse into the lives of 19th century miners.

Grass Valley was especially interesting to me because of the large Cornish population in the 19th century. This area had deep gold veins that couldn’t be panned. The Cornish miners were encouraged to come because of their experience in the tin mines of Cornwall, which were petering out. To this day, the Cornish pasty is a local treat, and the city still celebrates a Cornish Christmas. The Cornish play a major part in my novel.

Save

Lily and the GamblerLily and the Gambler
by Linda McLaughlin

Blurb: Respectability is in the eye of the beholder, or so Lily hopes. After her lover’s death she pretends to be his widow and travels to California to marry a mine owner. Then she meets King Callaway, a charming gambler. King knows he’s found his Queen of Hearts. But can he convince her to take a chance on a foot-loose card sharp? Only Lady Luck knows for sure…

Available at Amazon Kindle, BN/Nook and Smashwords. Coming soon to other online retailers.

Excerpt:

At last he pulled the buggy off the road at a small clearing by the stream. He set the break and jumped out to help her from the conveyance. As usual, he held her a little too closely, only this time he didn’t let go when her feet touched the ground.

She stared up into his eyes. “King?”

“I can’t get over how lovely you are,” he said, his voice husky.

“You’re quite good-looking yourself.” She reached up to stroke his cheek, still smooth from his morning shave. Her heart was beating faster than usual. Would he try to kiss her?

He turned his head and pressed a kiss into her palm. He drew her closer and lowered his head. Just then she heard the noise of another horse and drew back.

“Anyone could see us. I have to be careful of my reputation.”

He cursed under his breath, grabbed the picnic basket and a blanket from the buggy and led the way through the woods to a more secluded spot by the stream. “Is this better?”

She peered back the way they had come, but couldn’t see the road. “Yes.” Though she knew it was never safe to be alone with this man, she went willingly. She must have lost her senses.

He spread the blanket on the ground and put the basket down before reaching for her. “Now where were we?”

She smiled. “I think you were about to kiss me.”

“So I was.” He pulled her to him, one arm around her waist and the other hand cupping her head. His lips were warm and searching, demanding she respond in kind. She sighed into the kiss. Goodness, she’d forgotten how blissful the act could be. She wrapped her arms around his waist and gave herself up to the kiss, delighting in the sensations coursing through her. How was she going to resist this man?

At last, he pulled his mouth away with a groan. “I want you, Lily, more than you realize.”

“I know,” she whispered, stepping away to stare at the water in the creek rippling below. “But I’m not ready for more than kisses.” She spoke the lie, knowing he needed no encouragement to take her right there. She wanted him, too, wanted to feel his skin against her own, feel his weight on her, the pleasure he could give her. But she was afraid. Afraid of losing control, of being caught in wanton behavior, of being ostracized from society. He’d made her no promises and his advances promised only ruination. “You want marriage,” he said.

She turned to look at him, not sure whether she should be angry or disappointed. “Ideally, yes. I need some assurances. What are your intentions, sir? Do you think to seduce me once and abandon me?”

He stepped nearer and ran a finger down the side of her face and neck. A shiver passed through her. “I doubt once would be enough.”

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Note: Tuesday Travels will be on hiatus for the rest of the month, but will resume in July.

Linda

World War II in Prague Tour #TuesdayTravels

Tuesday Travels

Part of our trip to Prague was for historical research, so one morning we took the World War II in Prague Tour. First a quick bit of historical background.

The nation of Czechoslovakia was created at the end of World War II when the Austro-Hungarian empire was dissolved and formed into several different nations. Czechoslovakia was a democracy from October 1918 until the Germans marched in on March 15, 1939. His original justification was to re-patriate German speaking Czechoslovakians living in the area known as the Sudentenland, but of course, that area wasn’t enough for his need to create the German empire called the Third Reich. Because the Allies were still trying to avoid war with Germany, there was no military resistance.

Powder Tower

Powder Tower

Our tour started at the Powder Tower, one of the original thirteen city gates. Located in Republic Square (Náměstí Republiky), the gate separates Old Town from New Town. Our guide met us here and gave a lot of information, but the square is noisy and I missed some of it.

Next he led us back to Old Town Square and the Old Town Hall where the Resistance hid in the underground chambers and used the tunnels under the city to move around without notice. How cool is that?

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The “city under the city” served as headquarters for the Prague resistance. They even had a provisional hospital set up down there. The underground is actually the Romanesque and Gothic section of the Old Town Hall. Like a lot of old European cities, Prague kept building upward, so you have to go down to locate the older rooms. I believe the more rounded arches represent Romanesque style, whereas the Gothic arches are more pointed. I could see knights sitting around these rooms, quaffing ale or mead.

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The biggest success of the resistance was the assassination of Reinhard Heydrich of the SS who had been named “Protector” of Bohemia and Moravia by exiled Czech soldiers smuggled back into Prague. The story of the assassination was the basis for the recent film Anthropoid which I have not yet seen. The assassins were hunted down in a church, and Hitler got his revenge by destroying two villages and murdering all males over the age of sixteen. The rest of the villagers were sent to to concentration camps. Was it worth assassinating Heydrich? I guess it depends on your point of view.

One of the reasons the older sections of Prague aren’t modern is that the city largely escaped the bombing campaigns that destroyed so many other cities. There was one bombing raid on the city in Feb. 1945 by the Americans, who claimed that it was an accident. Supposedly the target was Dresden but faulty radar took them off course and they bombed the wrong city. 701 people were killed and the pilots expressed regrets afterward.

astronomical clock

On May 3, 1945, when it became clear Germany was losing the war, the people of Prague rose up and fought the Nazis for three days, with resulting damage to the city including the famous Astronomical Clock. (Luckily it has been restored to original condition.) On May 9, Soviet forces entered the city on March 9, and the grim Iron Curtain descended on the former democracy.

In college, I had a professor who came from Prague. She managed to escape after seeing her husband shot by the Soviets. She always told us how lucky we were to live in the US where citizens were free to criticize the president without being picked up by the secret police! I never forgot that.

The rest of the tour took us through the former Jewish section of the city, which I discussed back in April.

The tour was very interesting and now I really want to see that movie!

Linda