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A Duke’s Promise

TopIntroduction

background- http://www.woophy.com/forum/12_2562_3.htmlFrom the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen — Italy and the marble caves of Carrara — but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.

Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other — a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.

 

TopBook Trailer

TopDear Reader

A devastated duke.

A girl of lonely exile.

Both have a path to follow, a heart’s desire to find, and choices that could change their lives forever.

Do you ever wonder if you are on that perfect path for your life? Are you “following your passion” and “finding your gift?” These popular catch phrases make us stop and ponder our lives and the direction we are going. While there is nothing wrong with that, we must keep in mind Matthew 6:33. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (KJV) This entire chapter in Matthew is amazing! It contains the Lord’s Prayer, instructions about our treasure (our gifts and calling), our money, our needs and the worries over those needs and then it ends with an exhortation to trust and seek God for everything. A true blueprint for life kind of chapter.

But let’s be honest. To really live in that place every day with all the storms and trials, the challenges and distractions? Well, it’s only possible with God’s help. And my characters, these wonderful characters who I love as if they were real people, are no different.

My hero – the brilliant Duke of St. Easton – wants his affliction healed and taken away. And he wants love on his terms. He wants his control back even though he was miserable when he had it.

My heroine – sweet, determined Alexandria – wants what she can’t have. And she’ll stop at nothing when it comes to taking care of her own heart.

Their journey is like ours – that push and pull against God – the desire to find freedom and purpose on earth but in our timing and our way because His way is too hard or scary or just doesn’t make sense.

Dear Reader, join me on this journey with Gabriel and Alexandria as they struggle to come to the end of themselves. I pray we might too lift up our lives as a sacrifice, and in that place, come face to face with the living God.

In Him,

Jamie Carie

TopAuthor Interview

Interview by: Mary K. Johnson

Author Bio: Jamie Carie is the author of Snow Angel, a ForeWord magazine Romance Book of the Year winner, USA Book News National “Best Books 2007” Awards winner, and 2008 RITA Awards® Best First Book finalist. Her third novel, Wind Dancer, was a 2010 Indiana State Library Best Books of Indiana finalist. She lives with her husband and three children in Indianapolis.

Website: www.jamiecarie.com
Book Title: A Duke’s Promise
10 Digit ISBN: 143367324x
Publisher: B&H Books

Book Blurb: From the Land of Fire and Ice back to England’s shores, Alexandria Featherstone finds herself the new Duchess of St. Easton. Her husband has promised a wedding trip to take them to the place where her imperiled parents were last seen — Italy and the marble caves of Carrara — but a powerful Italian duke plots against Alex and her treasure-hunting parents.

Hoping to save them, Alex and Gabriel travel to Italy by balloon. Fraught with danger on all sides and pressured by Gabriel’s affliction to the breaking point, they must learn to work and fight together. The mysterious key is within their grasp, but they have yet to recognize it. This journey will require steadfast faith in God and each other — a risk that will win them everything they want or lose them everything they have.

Author Interview with Jamie Carie

Intro… Jamie’s latest release from B&H Books, A Duke’s Promise, is the last volume in her historical-romantic Forgotten Castles series. Her books include a spiritual take-away, as her characters struggle with issues with which her contemporary readers can identify. Jamie’s background as a preacher’s daughter informs the spiritual side of the books, just as her meticulous historical research informs her unique settings.  Her goal is reflected in her by-line: “Revealing Secrets of the Kingdom one story at a time.”

1. Jamie, you’ve concluded the Forgotten Castles series with A Duke’s Promise. Tell us a little more about this new book. What sort of spiritual issues arise for Alex and Gabriel in this novel?

Thanks so much for having me!
This book takes the reader on an adventure through France, Switzerland and Italy where Alexandria and Gabriel continue the search for Alexandria’s missing parents. I don’t want to give too much away so it’s hard to go into great detail but the search takes on more meaning as the identity of the invention becomes clear. The invention itself gives the characters and the readers a peak into the supernatural – into heaven itself. I’ve always been fascinated by math and science, inventions and especially the study of color (not that any of that comes easily to me!). I hope the readers are swept away by the romance, the adventure and the glimpse of things eternal.

As far as spiritual issues, there is trusting God when everything is going wrong, trusting and believing God is still good and loves you through afflictions, maturing in relationships and the bumps of learning to live together during that first year of marriage and many more. I think the overarching spiritual theme of the series would be to go after your God-given destiny. My characters are steadfast in their determination to do what they feel God is leading them to do and despite setbacks and forces of evil that come against them that journey causes them to accomplish great things both internally and externally. We are only here for a moment of time compared to all God has planned for us for eternity. If we live our lives from that perspective, I believe we will accomplish our God-given destiny on earth.

2. What was it like for you as a writer to bring this successful series to conclusion? Where will you go from here in terms of your writing? What shall we expect next?

Because of the tight writing schedule so that we could accomplish a back-to-back publishing schedule I was mostly really relieved when I wrote that last word of the epilogue! Now, with some distance, I’m really amazed by how hard I was able to work (I never thought I could write so fast) and how God, as always, came through every time I stepped out in faith and put fingers to the keyboard. I miss hanging out with Alexandria and Gabriel every day but I’m glad I can always pick up The Guardian Duke and start the adventure with them all over again.

What’s next? My Christmas novella, The Snowflake, will be out this Christmas in an anthology with Alan Maki’s  Choice to Cherish and Gilbert Morris’ The Angel of Bastogne. That will be fun. And I’m really excited about my first contemporary, Rush to the Alter, out around Valentine’s Day! It’s a lighthearted, tender and romantic story about a young widow who falls in love with an NBA star. I hope my historical readers will take a chance on something more contemporary.

3. We don’t want to give away anything about the heroine and her secrets, but A Duke’s Promise opens with a tender, tasteful, effective, and also relatively frank wedding-night scene.  Was opening the book with this scene a difficult or risky decision for you as an author? How have readers responded?

Well, the truth is I had to tone it way down – twice – for B&H to find it acceptable. I tend to let my characters tell me the story and they had a lot to say about their wedding night – lol! I honestly think it sounds a little terse (frank is a good word too) because of all the cutting. Had it been up to me, I would have published it with only the first edit. I don’t write gratuitous scenes of any nature. I only write scenes that are integral to the plot and it was important to “show” and not “tell” what happened that night between them because of the plot and, in particular, the ending of book two, The Forgiven Duke. I hope no one is offended with it or any scenes I write but at the same time I have to stay true to the story and my gut and know that I can’t please everyone all of the time. I just do the best I can to tell the story as God and my flawed and beautiful characters tell it to me.

4. Because our readers are also writers, questions of craft and writing experience are of great interest to them. Can you tell us a bit about your initial experiences? What made you decide to write? What was your publication journey like?

My initial experience with story is actually rooted in Satan’s desire to destroy me as a child. When I was about seven years old I started having night terrors. They began after a nightmare I had about where I saw Satan with my grandfather (the good grandpa) in his kitchen. He had my grandpa tied up with chains to a chair and was torturing him. I woke up screaming. My parents came in to comfort me and then, after calming me down, went back to bed. Not long after they left I saw a dark shadowy figure come into my room and cross to my bed. Terrified, I started screaming again and my parents came back in. They tried to comfort me and said I could sleep with them. Somewhat mollified, I went to bed with them but I soon had to go to the bathroom. While there, I distinctly heard the clinking of chains. This one really sent me over the edge. For the next three months I wouldn’t let my mother out of my sight. I followed behind her, sometimes having to touch her, so that I wouldn’t have constant panic attacks. They prayed and prayed for me, even walking me up and down the living room, trying to cast a demon of fear out of me, to the point where I would sometimes throw up. I know they meant well, but looking me in the eyes and screaming at the demon that they believed was inside of me only made my little girl’s heart more terrified.

Second grade started and my mother had to literally peel my fingers from the railing at the top of our stairs to get me to the bus. My teacher that year was hateful and took an immediate dislike to me. I lost weight. I was pale with dark bluish circles under my eyes from lack of sleep. I looked like death and every night I battled with fears of the night, fears of evil all around me, fear of demons and terrified to sleep.

Story became my lifeline, my salvation.

Now, if you’re wondering if I shouldn’t be crediting God with saving me, I do. The way God came through for me, looking back, was amazing! Reading was one of the few things I was allowed to do. God used stories to help me knowing that my parents’ Charismatic lifestyle included some very scary supernatural happenings. We had many deliverance services in my basement where I heard people screaming/coughing/choking/growling with demons coming out of them. I would hold my breath during such times afraid that the demons would leave them and come into me. There were countless other supernatural things going on all the time – basically, our lives were lived from one “move of the Holy Spirit” to another, kind of like living from high to high. We had our church, where my dad was the pastor, in our house so there was no protection for my younger brothers or me for years.

So, I will just say that I became very, very good at imaging story scenes. I found if I concentrated hard enough the fear didn’t have a place to slip in. With time and practice I could make myself fall asleep pretty easily and by about age twelve I was inventing whole stories in my head. I was also reading a lot. About fifteen years later when I decided try and write my first book, as a young married mother of two, the scenes were vivid and easy. The opening scenes of Snow Angel, set in a cold, snowy place where a man rescues a woman from a blizzard, had already rescued me many times. Praise God, He makes beauty from ashes and took this coping mechanism and turned it into a career for him. I don’t know how I would have survived without His divine intervention.

Of course then I had to persevere through eight years of trying to get traditionally published. Those were some hard years and that story is here if you want to read it.

As a side note, I’m working on my memoirs because there are many more stories about my upbringing that I know I am supposed to share. It’s difficult and slow, but God willing (pray for me?), I will finish it someday.

5. What does a typical writing day look like for you, Jamie? What do you find works well for you in terms of balancing your writing time with your other responsibilities?

This changes depending on the project and the deadline. I basically gave up any life aside from the basics while writing the Forgotten Castles series and worked around the clock. When I finished that project I took a breather from the writing side for a few months – though there was and always is plenty of marketing to do. Now, with my current schedule, I write during the day when my family is away at work and school and then, upon inspiration, some at night. My best work usually comes at night. That’s my favorite time to write when I can.

6. Are you more of a “Seat of the Pants” writer or a pre-planner? Has that changed as your career has developed?

I started out solely “seat of the pants” and still think that’s my core style. But, I do experiment with character sketches, outlines, traveling to the setting, etc. I find writing a synopsis within the first few chapters of diving in to be helpful. I’m organic in feeling it out and trying new things depending on the story. Nothing is off the table and I love the research and development phase and trying new things! Right now, I have a big, hand-drawn map and printed pictures tacked all over my office wall to help me with the world building of my next project, The Land of Everyoung series – a fantasy-fairytale story about three sisters who find their destiny.

7. What advice would you give to writers who are not yet published?

I’ve been asked this question many times and I’ve always said that every writer’s road looks different but what is the same is to have faith and persistence. If God has called you to this He will see it accomplished. In this new day and age of publishing there are more options then ever. It’s a great time to write the story of your heart. Just choose faith over fear. It is a choice and it is hard when it looks like nothing is ever going to happen for you but God will never fail your faith in Him and His plan for you.

Thanks for sharing with us, Jamie.

Thanks for having me! Great questions!

TopDiscussion Questions

Discussion Questions (Spoiler Alert! If you haven’t read the book yet these questions might give some of the story away!)

Discussion Questions

TopSample Chapter

Chapter One

London, England—June, 1819

The silken curtains around the bed fluttered from the summer breeze that blew through the open windows of the duke’s bedchamber on number 31 St. James Square. Candlelight flickered across the room, a place she had only passed by while living here with him, peeking inside, wondering at the depths of his private chambers. The light of the candles made wavy shadows against the creamy paneled walls and Alexandria, the new Duchess of St. Easton, tried to ignore Clarissa’s incessant chatter as the maid helped her out of layer after layer of her wedding costume.

Alex tried to look anywhere but at the bed, and yet she couldn’t tear her gaze from it—the royal blue counterpane trimmed in gold, the massive four posts of carved wood draped with dark curtains, the piles of pillows. She swallowed against the knot in her throat and turned, lifting her arms and following the nudges of the maid.

“Great heavens, Your Grace, sit down before you faint. You’re as white as a ghost, you are.”

Alex obeyed, relieved to sit and rest her wobbly knees. She stared in the mirror at her reflection and watched as Clarissa took out the spiderweb-thin, diamond tiara from her hair, which Gabriel’s mother had given her as a wedding gift, and brushed out Alex’s long, dark hair. A suspended feeling of dread and terror surrounded her.

He would come in at any moment.

He would come in and find out about everything.

The fact that she wasn’t exactly sure what it was he would find didn’t help at all.

Clarissa clucked and shook her head as she plucked at the delicate chemise, her last article of clothing. “I don’t know why they let a bride wear white on a night like this. It only makes it worse if there’s blood. Saints a mercy, somebody should think of dark bedding and clothing on a night like this.”

“Blood?” Alex whipped her face around toward Clarrisa’s animated frown. “Does one always bleed?”

Clarissa patted her shoulder with a reassuring smile. “Only the first time, Your Grace, and some girls don’t bleed much even then. Don’t you be frettin’ now. I shouldn’t have said anything seein’ how nervous you are, but since I did,” she shook her head in an ominous way, “just know some bleedin’ is normal. It won’t last long.”

Had she bled before? With John that night in Iceland when he had, well, might have violated her body while she was drugged from the cup of tea he had given her? Just thinking back to the details of that night made her stomach fold inside itself and a wave of nausea flooded her throat. Alex closed her eyes and tried to remember as she had so many times since that fateful evening. She didn’t remember any blood. Not on the bed or on her clothing, but she’d been so shocked, so hurt and confused that she hadn’t really looked either. There may have been a little and she just hadn’t seen it.

Father in heaven, help me get through this!

The sound of the door opening made her start. She turned, saw him—saw his beautiful, fierce, and beloved face—which made her heart hammer like the pounding of a horse at full gallop. Clarissa bowed, quiet for once, and crept away. Alex stood but took a step back until the backs of her knees pressed against the bench at the dressing table. She tried for a wobbly smile and failed.

Gabriel Ravenwood, the Duke of St. Easton, and now her husband, stepped out from the shadows of the room and walked toward her. Instinctively, Alex reared back, her gaze locked with his. Gabriel continued toward her and when close enough gave her that smile that always made her knees turn to mush. One side of his mouth quirked up a little higher than the other, as if he knew his effect on her, his eyes intense with depths of emerald green. His steps held the stealthy grace of the animal people often compared him to—the panther. Dark, lethal, green-eyed enchantment.

She held her breath. Excitement and terror warred within her as he came right up to her and stopped, so close she could see the dark, shadowy beard that had grown across his face over the course of the day and the thick, black eyelashes that were almost too pretty on a man.

“You’re not frightened, are you?” His hand came up to lift her chin so she had to look into his eyes for him to see the truth or lie in her answer.

“No.” A bad lie but she hoped he hadn’t been able to hear the squeak in her voice.

His hand moved from her chin to trace along the curve of her jaw with a mere brush of his fingertips. “I like your hair this way,” he murmured, taking another step closer, his fingers coursing through her hair, the weight of his hand making her head fall back, her throat exposed. “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are, Alexandria?”

She closed her eyes and shook her head, turning away. How could she be beautiful after what John had done to her? And not telling Gabriel before they married that she was quite possibly not a virgin? There wasn’t anything beautiful about that.

But he didn’t know all of that yet. She stood beneath his exploring fingertips on her face, trembling like a leaf about to give way and drop to the ground. With one forefinger he traced the arcs of her eyebrows, her cheeks, and then the curve of her mouth. She opened her lips to let out the rush of breath. Her head fell back in submission to his touch as his lips finally came down on hers.

Heat and rolling pleasure spiraled through her as his mouth opened over hers. She could feel the roughness of his beard against her skin, his breath mingling with hers, the pounding of his heart against the pounding of hers. One of his arms came around her and pulled her closer while the other hand splayed across her cheek and throat.

Her arms crept up to wrap around his wide shoulders. Love for him, an intermingling of welling emotions, rose to her throat in an aching pulse, pushing aside her dread and fear. Desire, white hot and like nothing she’d ever felt, made her head reel. She wanted to laugh and weep at the same time, but mostly she wanted to give him everything, all of her.

She was finally his.

Gabriel immersed himself in the feel of her—her petal-soft skin, her quivering lips, her lashes against his face. With his hearing gone, he reached internally for her reactions, reading vibrations from her throat and the thudding of her heart pressed against his chest. She didn’t seem afraid now, not like when he’d walked into the room and seen her pale face. No, now she seemed pliant and eager to be in his arms. He held her in that place with his lips and lingering, touching, caressing hands, easing her with tiny movements toward the bed.

When the back of her legs came up against the feather mattress, he leaned over her, kissing her more deeply, bending her back toward the blue counterpane, the heavy folds of the bed curtains creating a secret space of flickering twilight. She clung to him, her arms tight around his neck, her breath fast against his mouth. She blinked, opened her eyes as he lifted her and laid her on the blue silken surface. Standing, he saw the questions return to her eyes.

He said nothing. There was no need for words with Alexandria much of the time. They communicated with a look, a touch, their own special body language of signs and signals and long-locked gazes. It had started with letters…and become so much more.

Dear God, I love her.

He reached for the buttons on his shirt. She watched him with wide eyes until he came to his breeches and then stopped him. “Can’t we get under the covers first?”

He read her lips, smiled at her shyness, tenderness toward her filling him as he pulled back the counterpane. He would disabuse her of her modesty eventually, but tonight he must be patient.

She scrambled underneath and he blew out the bedside candle, flooding the room with darkness, stepped out of his pants, and slid in beside her. “Come here, Alexandria.”

Without sound and now little sight, the feel of her in his arms roared through him, making her seem soul-deep close to him. Fragile…sweet, delicate, woman…wife. His hands roamed over her body, branding her and making her his in truth. She tensed and, he thought, cried out, whimpering against his shoulder. He held her close, running his hand over her hair and back and murmuring words of comfort. He hoped the worst was over.

Afterward, he pulled her back against his stomach and sighed deeply into her hair. Within moments, a deep lethargy took over and he fell asleep.