Civil Hearts by my Novel Magic guest, Claire Gem, promises an interesting romantic triangle: A southern gentleman, a Yankee girl, and the ghost of a Confederate soldier.
Sometimes story ideas lay their seeds in my brain but hibernate there, germinating without warning some 20-odd years later.
It was the mid-1990s, and I had made my home on the west coast of Florida with my husband and three kids. We’d been living there for about ten years, but the cost of living along with the cost of raising three kids was pinching a bit . . . plus, Florida property values were up. Some very good friends of ours had recently sold their Florida farm for fat cash and moved to Alabama, near Birmingham. They bragged about the low cost of living, property, et al. We drove up to visit and toyed with the idea of relocating there as well.
Yes, property was cheap, albeit desolate beyond the city limits. We went around with a real estate agent who showed us vacant land for hundreds of dollars an acre instead of thousands. He also said he had a very nice, antebellum home that was in some need of repair . . . it had been empty a long time. It was within our price range. We visited the home.
Wow. The tour of that day, apparently, branded my memory.
I’d never been inside a plantation-style home, and this was laid out like a mini-Tara. Although much smaller, it came complete with soaring ceiling heights, a curved stairway, and upper and lower front porch galleries. It was definitely in need of some TLC. Some updating. Maybe more than a little.
As I walked through that house I had the feeling I was being watched. Like we weren’t alone. The hair at the base of my neck prickled and gooseflesh puckered my skin, even though it was a very hot, summer day. I kept getting the unsettling feeling that there was something—or someone—just beyond my line of vision. But when I turned, there was no one there.
We didn’t move to Alabama. Jobs were hard to come by, and no matter how cheap the land was, anything we could afford—including the antebellum home—was in the middle of nowhere. We remained in Florida for nearly another decade.
Fast forward to 2017. I had long ago forgotten the tour of the antebellum home in Alabama. We had eventually moved—three times, from Florida to Texas to North Carolina, and ultimately landed in Massachusetts. But from somewhere in the depths of my memory, the Alabama memory resurfaced one night in a dream. Complete with the ghost of a Confederate soldier pounding on the front door.
Civil Hearts was born.
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CIVIL HEARTS by Claire Gem
He’s a sexy Southern gentleman—with epilepsy. She’s a widow scarred from her late husband’s brain cancer. Her new home, an abandoned antebellum mansion, is haunted by a Confederate soldier—and she’s a Yankee.
A widow with no family, web designer Liv Larson yearns for big change. After all, she can work from anywhere, right? Why not throw a dart at the map? She heads out of the big city for the rural South and falls in love as soon as she arrives—with the Belle Bride, an abandoned antebellum mansion.
Heath Barrow loves his country life, managing his antiques store in sleepy Camellia. But he’s lonely, and his condition—epilepsy—makes life uncertain. It’s already cost him a marriage. A new medication and the new girl in town have his heart hopeful again.
Sparks fly between Heath and Liv. But his first seizure sends Liv into a tailspin. Its mimics those her husband suffered before he died . . .
To make matters worse, Liv discovers she’s not living alone. Her challenge? Dealing with a Confederate soldier, one who clearly resents his Yankee roommate—even though he’s been dead for over a hundred and fifty years.
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Meet Claire Gem
Claire is an award-winning author of supernatural suspense. She loves exploring the paranormal and the unexplained, and she holds a certificate in Parapsychology from the Rhine Research Center of Duke University.
A New York native, Claire and her husband of 40 years, now live in central Massachusetts.