They moved to Arizona from California when Taylor (aka Mookie) was born almost fourteen years ago. She will be entering high school next year! Gosh, she’s taller than me!
Life is busy helping Taylor and her three siblings - picking up after school, attending choir and strings concerts and spelling bees. Writing gets squeezed in, sometimes late at night. But, the Engstroms wouldn’t have it any other way.
Welcome back, Bonnie. How did you come up with the idea for this story?
My parents and I visited The Inn at Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, every summer for many years. There was a stable then, and it’s the first time I’d ridden a horse. His name was Traveler – gentle and made me want to ride again. He’s in the story. I’ve always thought there was a special story in the historic hotel filled with antique furniture and an old-fashioned ambiance, even so many years ago.
If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Why do you always ask this difficult question, Lena? Puts me on the spot. I love so many. I think it should be a diverse party, but then if it focuses on romance authors, they would have more in common to share. Maybe more frustrations, too.
Here is my list: Deb Raney (whose books inspired me to write twenty years ago), Alice Arenz (ACFW Carol Award multi-winner), Roger Bruner (whose stories are so unique and inspiring), Darlene Franklin (who inspired me to write my series), Carol Nemeth (great WWII stories and terrific prayer warrior), and you, of course (‘Nuff said?), although we all write different stories. I hope that answers your question. Oops! Can we push it to seven invitees? I want Peg Phifer to attend, too. I love her Someday Christmas Will Come story. Very special.
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Sorry, Lena. I hardly ever read historical fiction. I did watch Downton Abbey and The Crown and Victoria, and I love When Calls the Heart – Hallmark series, but with the little time I have to read I usually choose my own genre, contemporary.
Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
Yikes! TIME! Always time sandwiched in between picking up 4 grandchildren whose mother, our daughter, is a single parent who works long hours as the director of a Christian school. I also monitor two online prayer chains, the emails for which I check first every day and throughout the day. Then, when a manuscript is finished, there is the laborious task of editing – which I do between 7 and 11 times. However, I have only published thirteen books, many of them novellas. My stories have been included in several collections, too. But, those are not new stories, just ones that fit into the collections. A new one will come up in late January or early February, Book Eight in my Candy Cane Girls Series.
When I send to my publisher, the most fun is working with her to design the covers. Her covers are outstanding, I get so many compliments about them. You told me once how much you like them. They are always unique and make a statement.
Tell us about the featured book.
Restoring Love at Christmastime has a new lengthened title and bright new cover. When my publisher and I thought about how the story has a Christmas setting we decided to reflect that in a new expanded title. It’s a fun story about two people who had a brief romance as teenagers, but who have grown up and meet again during Christmas at the old hotel. It also won a 5 Star Readers Favorite Award.
Here is the edited blurb:
Why was Jenni taking this journey back in time during the Christmas holidays? Surely, she didn’t expect to see Jake the stable boy. She had moved on from sneaking kisses in the barn after trail rides. He must have, too. Who on earth would stay in the tiny town of Cambridge Springs?
She planned for a respite from teaching, time to read, take quiet walks and indulge in delicious hotel meals. At least no one knew where to find her, none of her friends, and not even her family.
The internet site for Pleasant Springs Hotel highlighted an annual holiday production of A Christmas Carol that guests sometimes played parts in. That sounded like fun. Hopefully some handsome guest would play Scrooge.
Odd the name of the historic hotel had changed. Who would have done that? Maybe new owners. She wanted to soak up memories, alone. Unless by a Christmas miracle Jake was still there to share them.
Can romance still flourish after fifteen years?
Will a teacher and a former stable boy remember their first kiss?
Please give us the first page of the book.
Jenni’s mouth salivated remembering the tasty meals she’d had here as a young girl. The tiny browned new potatoes and the chef’s signature succulent pork tenderloin popped up as virtual cartoon balloons in her windshield. Then she remembered the extra ten pounds she’d gained. She guided her little rental car up the hill and along the winding two-lane road toward the cupolas of the old hotel. It was still painted white and outlined in dark red. The paned windows looked the same, and the cupolas each retained different distinctive weathervanes on their peaks. A flying goose, an owl and an angel. She thought it was the angel cupola she’d stayed in, or was it under? At the time, she hadn’t contemplated much about it. Now, it seemed significant.
Forcing her mind to move forward, or maybe backward, she wondered about Jake Starfire. Jake had hefted one hundred pound trunks out of the backs of airport limousines with little effort. Always with a smile and a lock of curly ebony hair tumbling over his dark, wide forehead. The last time Jenni visited The Springs with her parents, when it was called The Riverside Inn in Cambridge Springs, she was almost sixteen, and Jake was a bellboy. But, oh, what a bellboy he was! So handsome, so personable, so appealing to a vulnerable teenage girl.
Their stolen kiss was the first real kiss she’d ever had. It just happened, no hugging, no touching beforehand; he’d only put his hand on her shoulder when he helped her mount Traveler. But, she had hoped, dreamed, during the five days she was visiting. He smelled so … sexy … a combination of male and horse. When he’d clasped his big hands on her shoulders and pulled her close toward his mouth her first thought was how yellow his teeth were. Did he brush? Ever floss? His breath, would it be horrible? She decided in a second she didn’t care. She wanted this kiss in the worst way and leaned forward. Her hands were out to her sides; all she could concentrate on was Jake’s mouth, his full lips promising ecstasy. As the kiss deepened, she raised her hands to circle them around his neck. Finally, she and Jake both gasped, and he released his grip on her.
The kiss was everything she’d hoped for. She was smitten.
It had happened inside the old-fashioned garage turned stable. Jake had just tethered Traveler and his horse, Firecracker, and led them into their stalls. Both were munching on whatever horses ate. She hadn’t cared what the horses ate when she and Jake perched on hay bales … to talk. Talking never happened, but her body went into overdrive, like that new feature her dad used to have on his ‘57 Plymouth.
The trickling sound of the rain had been soothing, almost mesmerizing, lulling Jenni into dream mode. It was a safe sound; dibble, dribble, pat, pat. No thunder, no lightning. Although that would have added excitement to the moment. No, it was quiet, deep, soft and delicious like Jake’s kiss, in spite of his bad breath.
She wanted this to happen again. But her parents expected her for dinner in the dining room in fifteen minutes.
“Sorry. I have to go. Mom and Dad are waiting. Gotta change.”
“Stay just a few more minutes. Please.”
Shaking her head, her body shaking, too, she raced out of the barn. Stumbling into the hotel entrance and lumbering up the metal stairs, she forced her key in the lock of her room and opened the door. Mom was sitting on the edge of Jenni’s bed.
“Did you have a good time? Ride a horse? Explore?”
She nodded and felt her head rattling. Such deception. Her heart ached deceiving Mom, but she had no other choice. Not yet. Yes, she had explored, but not in a way she could share.
The road seemed so long now. Longer than she’d remembered. But, then, she had just been a child.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I love, love, love to communicate with readers via email. It’s fun to chat with them and exchange ideas. They can always reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but be sure to put BOOK in the subject line so they don’t fly off to cyberspace.
I’m excited about my WACKY WEDNESDAY contest on my Facebook author page where I give away prizes every Wednesday. It’s fun and a great way to connect and share. Readers need to go to https://www.facebook.com/bonnieengstromauthor/ to find out the next Wednesday’s prizes and the most current winner. Lots of fun photos there, too, like ones of my own Christmas memories and my Santa-themed house.
They can also sign up for my newsletter on Facebook so when the WACKY WEDNESDAY preview comes out every Monday they will know the latest. Look for it in the left column of my Facebook page.
I am not good at Twitter, can’t figure out how to retweet, but my Twitter handle if anyone wants to see what I occasionally tweet is @BonnieEngstrom1. Good luck!
Thanks so much, Lena, for having me on your special blog. I will give an eBook of Restoring Love at Christmastime. And, for anyone answering this question, they can enter to receive a signed print copy of Restoring Love at Christmastime. Both make great gifts, even belated Christmas giving or a great way to start the New Year.
(Drawing will be random. Not sponsored by this blog.)
Here is the question: What is your favorite Christmas memory?
Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing this book with my readers and me. I just started reading my copy.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the ebook. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)
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