Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Meet Kathleen Fuller

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With us today is
Kathleen Fuller.
I was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and now make my home in beautiful Geneva, Ohio. I’ve been married to James for 15 wonderful years (really, they have been wonderful!)  We have three terrific children, three dogs, and an overwhelmed cat. We have also raised cattle, pigs, and chickens at various times over the years. We would have gone into the goat business, but I had to draw the line somewhere. I started writing in 2000, and published my first short story a year later. Since then I have authored several short stories, novellas, novels, and have done a lot of freelance non-fiction work. I have also worked as an editor. I have a Masters degree in Special Education, emphasis on teaching the blind and visually impaired, and a Bachelors in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. I have taught all age groups ranging from age 4 to age 18. A few of my favorite things: my relationship with Christ, chocolate (of course!), autumn, a satisfying book, good friends, a sense of humor, people who don’t take themselves seriously, haunting melodies, NFL football, and did I mention chocolate?

You can keep up with Kathy at her website http://kathleenfuller.com/


A Daring Return
Eight years ago, Gavin Parringer left London after the woman he loved, Diana Dymoke, rejected him and married someone else. Suffering from amnesia, he has returned to England, unable to recall anything of his former life. He doesn't even recognize Diana, who is now a widow with regrets. Despite everything that has come between them in the past, Gavin finds himself falling in love with Diana for a second time. Diana also has feelings for Gavin, but she is afraid that if he remembers how harshly she treated him before he left London, he will have nothing to do with her. Thus, she keeps the truth of their prior relationship a secret. Yet when Diana's life is threatened and Gavin's memory returns, they both have to face the ghosts of their pasts in order to embrace a future together.

And here's the first pages of A Daring Return:


Prologue

April, 1812

A knot of pain formed in Gavin Parringer’s belly as agony enveloped his soul. Standing outside his best friend’s house, he struggled with the emotional battle raging inside him. Lights glowed from every room of the house, illuminating the glass windows. The stately manor seemed like a beacon on the darkened London street, and Gavin felt drawn to go inside.

Or rather, go back inside.

He paced the front walk, kicking a stone as he tried to decide what to do. He had already been inside once, an uninvited and unwelcome visitor to the party Colin Dymoke, Baron Chesreton, was hosting. It was the only party Colin had never invited him to, and the only time Gavin had ever crashed one. Yet he had a good reason to break all protocol and attend a party he had no business being at.

Colin’s sister, Diana, was the reason.

Never mind that this was her engagement party. Or that he was madly in love with her and she loved someone else. Or that her sister, Emily, had just declared her love for him, and he had to gently but firmly tell her that his heart belonged to only one woman. Or that common sense had finally reigned and he had left the party a few minutes earlier before spoiling the evening for everyone.

He shoved his hand through his hair. Blast, when did everything get so bloody complicated?

But there was one thing that was crystal clear—Diana was making a mistake. A huge mistake. And he had to try and stop her. He wouldn’t be able to live with himself if he didn’t.

His decision made, walked back through the doorway and went to the footman standing in the foyer. Gavin knew him from his numerous visits to Colin over the past year, since his friend had married Lily Breckenridge. Striding up to the shorter, rounder man, Gavin said, “I need something to write a note.”

The footman gave him an odd look, but nodded. “I shall fetch pen and paper for you, my lord,” he said, addressing Gavin, a viscount, by his appropriate title. The man then rushed off, leaving Gavin standing in the foyer, hoping not to gain any of the guests’ attentions. He quickly returned and gave over the writing materials. Gavin dashed off a few lines, folded the paper haphazardly and handed it back. “Please give this to Miss Diana at once.”

“My lord, she is quite busy entertaining her guests.”

“I realize that,” Gavin said, trying to keep the impatience out of his voice, “but this is a matter of great import.” His gaze narrowed. “Or should I have you fetch Lord Chesreton instead?”

The footman paled, and shook his head. “I shall give this to Miss Diana at once.”

Glad the man hadn’t called him on his bluff, Gavin rushed out the house and circled round the back, to the far corner of Colin and Lily’s garden, where he had instructed she meet him. As he waited he prayed his note had conveyed enough urgency to Diana for her not to dismiss his request. After several long, agonizing moments, he saw her come out the back door, looking over her shoulder as if to make sure she hadn’t been followed.

When she reached him, he could barely make out her features in the darkened night. But when she turned her face and tilted it upward to look directly at him, a sliver of soft moonlight illuminated her face, effectively stealing the breath from his lungs.

His heart swelled with love for her. She was such a beautiful creature, the loveliest woman in London, not only in his estimation but in almost everyone’s opinion as well. Diana Dymoke’s beauty was the stuff of legends, and since her debut in London society she’d had more suitors than any other ingĂ©nue in the ton. Gavin had counted himself among those suitors, until she had told him she had accepted William Garland’s proposal. She had delivered this news rather unceremoniously and with little regard to his feelings, destroying the impression he’d had that he had won her affections and they had a future together. Her revelation had hit him harder than a punch in the gut, breaking his heart in a thousand pieces. He doubted he would ever rebound from her rejection. For him, the only woman in the world was Diana Dymoke, and knowing she would never be his was something he couldn’t comprehend.

But his own emotional state was not his reason for meeting with her, and he was thankful she agreed to come out here, even at great personal risk. The spark of anger in her eyes showed that she understood the precariousness of their clandestine meeting. If they were caught together, in the dark, alone…her reputation would be ruins, and Gavin would probably be facing pistols at dawn.

“How dare you drag me away from my own engagement party,” she hissed, fury coloring her tone. “What is it you want?”

What he wanted was to take her in his arms and never let her go, but he couldn’t do that. Instead he had to focus on what he needed to tell her. “You cannot marry William.”

She huffed, crossing her arms over the glittery bodice of her gorgeous pale pink ball gown. “Gavin, I already told you—I do not love you. I love William, and I am going to marry him, and that is the end of this conversation.” Spinning around, she turned to go, but he snaked out his arm and grasped her shoulder. “Unhand me,” she said fiercely, but in a low voice.

He immediately released her, but moved to stand in front of her so he could keep her from leaving. “Diana, listen to me. I am not telling you this out of some misguided attempt to win you back.” Although he would if he thought he could. “I am here out of concern for your welfare. You must not marry William. He is a rogue of the worst sort—”

“I will not stand here and listen to you denigrate my future husband, who has been nothing but kind and attentive and loving toward me.”

“It is an act, Diana. Trust me, you are not aware of this man’s reputation.”

“And you are? How? And if he is such a rogue, how come no one else has said anything?”

Gavin paused for a moment, unsure of how much to reveal.

“I am waiting.”

He took a deep breath. “I had him investigated.”

“You what?” Diana stormed toward him, anger radiating from her perfect body.

With his next breath Gavin inhaled her sweet scent and fought to maintain control. She was even attractive when angry. In fact it gave her a fiery edge he didn’t know she possessed. But while he was trying to keep from kissing her, she undoubtedly wanted to clock him over the head. “I did it for you,” he said, trying to defend his position. “I had my suspicions about him, so I hired someone to investigate him.” He lowered his voice to a whisper. “I am truly sorry to say this to you, but you have to believe me. He will only hurt you.”

Anger flashed in her eyes. “The only person hurting me is you. This is a sad little attempt to come between me and the man I love, and I will not tolerate it. Understand me now. You can stop making up lies in hopes of convincing me that we belong together. It will never, ever happen.” She looked at him with disdain. “I never want to see you again, Gavin Parringer. Am I clear?”

Her words, coupled with the visual daggers she hurled his way, sliced his heart cleanly in two. She had made her point, and made it with painful clarity. Before he could respond, she whirled around and stormed off toward the house, and presumable, back to her cad of a fiancé. The thought of following her passed through his mind, but he ignored it as his own fury built inside. He had only wanted to help her, to save her from making the biggest mistake of her life, and all he got for his trouble was insults and more rejection.

Well, he’d had enough. He had told her sister Emily that he was leaving for a trip abroad, and he would go through with it. If Diana had given him even an inkling that she might have taken his warning to heart he would have cancelled his plans without hesitation. But she’d made her choice…now she had to live with it. He didn’t care what she did.

But as he walked back to his townhouse, he knew he would never stop caring, or loving Diana. She was his cross to bear, and always would be. Melancholy strangled him, threatening to squeeze the air from his throat. Perhaps some time in India would help dull the agonizing pain in his heart. Or perhaps not. He had no idea.

What he did know is that he couldn’t bear to watch her marry a man who would only hurt her in the end. That right there was enough of a reason to leave England.



Chapter One

May 1820

A chilly London wind cut straight through Gavin Parringer. Shivering, he tugged his overcoat closer to his body. True, the air wasn’t all that cold, but the overcast sky, coupled with the fact that he had spent the past eight years in the hot climate of India, made the chill even more acute.

He climbed inside the elegant black carriage assigned to take him to Tamesly House. His own personal carriage. He could barely wrap the idea around his head that he owned such a luxurious vehicle. Not when he couldn’t remember ever riding in one.

Sinking back in the plush velvet seat, he looked at Dr. Seamus Burns sitting across from him. The only person—the only thing—familiar to him since his return to England. The older man pulled his gilded watch out of his pocket, adjusted his spectacles before checking the time, then snapped the watch shut with a click.

The carriage lurched forward. Gavin pulled back the curtain enough so he could look out the window. He drank in every detail of the passing landscape, hoping something would click in his mind. The surrounding buildings ranged from magnificent to needing repair. People were everywhere, walking, riding horses, traveling in carriages and hacks. But nothing looked familiar. Nothing triggered the memories he was so desperate to retrieve. As the carriage passed over a bridge, he stared down into the murky water below.

“The Thames.” Seamus leaned forward and pulled open the curtain on his side of the window. “Haven’t seen it in years. Hasn’t changed a bit, I must say. Still dirty, smelly, and toxic to anyone foolish enough to try to swim in it.”

Gavin couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to take a dip in the obviously polluted waters. “I should recognize this river, shouldn’t I?”

“Aye, lad. You should.”

Although at thirty-two Gavin could hardly be called a lad, the good doctor had been addressing him that way for years. Gavin frowned as they left the bridge. He should recognize the Thames. The buildings. The people. Everything.

But he didn’t.

He clenched his fists. Frustration he hadn’t experienced in more than six years returned full force. “Why can’t I remember?” he asked through gritted teeth.

“You know the answer to that, lad.”

Gavin shut the curtain tight. “I know the reason, but I thought…I had hoped…”

Seamus’ compassionate expression could be easily seen through the dimness of the coach’s interior. He patted Gavin’s knee. “You had hoped returning home would trigger your memories. ‘Tis a strange thing, amnesia. Some patients fully recover—”

“And some don’t.” Running his fingers through his hair, Gavin leaned forward. “How long before we arrive?”

“Shouldn’t be too long.”

“This entire journey has been too long.”

“Aye. That I agree with.”

Gavin set his elbows on his knees and hung his head. His body swayed with the movement of the carriage. He resisted the urge to pull out the letter he had received a month ago and re-read it, but that wasn’t necessary. He knew the contents by heart. The missive had been the impetus for his return to London.

Dear Lord Tamesly,

I hope this letter finds you healthy and well. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Cecil Buttons, the solicitor for your estate. I cannot tell you how happy and relieved I am to discover that you are alive in India. We had feared you dead for we hadn’t heard a word from you since your departure from England eight years ago. I must assure that I never gave up hope. I spent a considerable amount of personal time and resources to track you down.

Now I must get to the point. Your estate is, unfortunately, in a shambles. I have done the best I can in your absence to take care of your holdings in Lancashire and the family estate in Aberdeen. However, I have faced considerable opposition from your cousin, who has been petitioning the court to declare you deceased, thus acquiring your title and what is left of your estate. Through some intricate legal maneuvering, and with the help of your friend Lord Chesreton, I have been able to keep your cousin from reaching his goal. But I’m afraid that the stalling has come to an end. If you do not return to London posthaste, you will lose everything.

I do not know what has kept you in India, and why you have chosen not to contact me during the last eight years, but I implore you to respond to this letter and let me know what you intend to do.

I remain in your service,

Cecil Buttons, Esq.

Gavin had been shocked to receive the letter, and even more shocked at its contents. For years he had wondered about his past, about the fleeting memories of the life he’d had before the accident. He knew he was from England, since the contrast between him and the people of Calcutta had been glaring. But how he’d gotten to India was a mystery, one even Seamus couldn’t help him solve.

Now he at least knew he was a lord of some sort, and owned an estate of unknown value. An estate in trouble, if the letter could be believed. Which Gavin wasn’t sure he did. Yet the missive provided more information than he’d ever had before, and it was definitely worth investigating. Fortunately Seamus had offered to accompany him, eager to visit England after a twenty year absence.

The coach came to a stop and Gavin sat up. The moment of truth had arrived. He would either discover his past or be a victim of a ruse. Either way, his life would never be the same.

“Ready, lad?” Seamus brushed the palm of his hand over the few strands of hair that stretched over his bald pate.

Gavin could tell his friend was forcing himself to remain nonchalant. Seamus was just as curious as he was, perhaps even more so. The man had invested the last eight years of his life, first treating Gavin, then training him to be his assistant. Gavin thought of him as more of a father than a physician. As far as he was concerned, Seamus Burns was the only father he’d ever had.

Nodding, Gavin adjusted the white cravat at his neck. The blasted thing was bloody uncomfortable, but supposedly necessary for a man of his position. He would rather dispense with it altogether, along with the stiff shirt, decorative waistcoat, and form fitting trousers. Instead he longed for the loose linen pants and long tunic he had in his suitcase. But he felt enough like an outsider. He didn’t need to look like one too.

The door opened and he stepped out of the carriage, Seamus not far behind him. The house standing before him was in obvious need of repair. Several of the cobblestones of the drive were loose, rust coated the wrought iron around the small porch, and the window panes were dingy. He could only imagine the condition of the inside.

Suddenly the front door flew open, and a tall, blond haired man with a slender build came bounding toward him.

“Gavin, old chap! You are a sight for sore eyes!” A grin broke out on his face as he gave Gavin a hearty hug.

Out of courtesy Gavin returned the embrace, but with little enthusiasm. He had no idea who this man was—perhaps his cousin? But if that was the case, he wouldn’t be all too happy to see him, at least according to what Buttons had said in his letter.

The gent stepped back, his joy tempered by Gavin’s lack of response. The man cocked his head to the side and examined his face. “What is it, mate? You look like you’ve seen a ghost, instead of your best friend.”

Ah. So this was Lord Chesreton, the man Cecil spoke of in the letter. Awkward silence filled the moment as Gavin tried to think of what to say. How does one tell his best friend he has no idea who he is?

He was saved from answering when a short, portly man exited the house and made his way toward Gavin, Seamus, and Lord Chesreton. “Lord Tamesly,” he said when he reached them. He extended his hand. “Welcome home, my lord. So good to see you after all this time.”

Gavin looked at the gentleman. He didn’t recognize him either, but he shook his hand. “Thank you,” was all he could think of to say.

“And this must be Dr. Burns.” The man turned and shook Seamus’ hand. “Cecil Buttons, Esquire.”

“Pleasure to meet you,” Seamus said.

The four men stood on the drive in front of the house, growing more ill at ease. Except for Seamus. Gavin knew he was quietly observing the situation, as was his way.

Cecil and Colin seemed to be waiting for Gavin to take the lead, so he said, “Shall we go inside?”

They expelled a collective sigh of relief, releasing the tension that had built among them all. Colin let out a nervous chuckle. “I took the liberty of pouring us some port from you private stock, Gav. I didn’t think you would mind. After all, we have much to celebrate.”

“No…not at all.” Gavin wracked his brain to figure out what port was. A drink, presumably. Seamus’ tastes ran between tea and scotch, and when he was particularly stressed he mixed them both. Gavin had refrained from alcohol altogether, preferring to keep his senses as clear as possible. Things were muddy enough as they were.

As they entered the house, his assumption about the disarray of the house had been accurate. He glanced at Cecil, who looked at him sheepishly.

“You have been gone a long time, my lord. I had to dismiss all the servants but one. She has done her best to keep up with everything…but it is a large house, as you can see.”

Guilt stabbed at him, although he didn’t know why. He hadn’t neglected his home on purpose. But the thought of people losing their jobs on his account caused a knot to form in his stomach. “It’s all right, Mr. Buttons. I know you did what you deemed best.”

Cecil’s thin lips twitched in a smile. “Thank you, my lord. Shall we adjoin in the study? I hate to plunge right into business matters, but time is of the utmost importance.”

Gavin nodded, and started to follow Cecil, but Seamus spoke up.

“Gavin, may I have a word?”

Turning around, Gavin looked at his friend, noting his serious expression. He nodded, then turned to Cecil and Lord Chesreton. “Please, go ahead. We will join you shortly.” He watched them depart, paying careful attention to the direction they went in. When they both entered a room close by, Gavin let out a breath of relief. The entire situation had been most uncomfortable. He was already starting to regret his decision to return. What he thought would be the key to the past

“So when are you going to tell them, lad?”

“I don’t know!” He rubbed the back of his neck, trying to ease the muscles that had suddenly grown stiff. “Sorry, Seamus, I don’t mean to lose my temper with you.”

“’Tis all right. Totally understandable. I am sure I would feel the same way were I in your position.” He moved to stand closer to Gavin, and lowered his voice. “But you can’t hide your condition from them. They already suspect something is wrong. Perhaps you should have prepared them when you replied to Mr. Buttons’ letter.”

“Perhaps. But I had hoped that once I landed on English soil, everything would have come back to me.” He shook his head at his folly. He should have known better. “What should I do now? I can’t just walk in that room and tell them I have amnesia”

“Amnesia?”

Both men turned at the sound of Lord Chesreton’s voice. The man’s mouth had dropped open in shock. “You have no idea who I am?”

Slowly, Gavin shook his head.

Lord Chesreton’s brought his hand to his forehead. “Blimey, that explains a lot, then, doesn’t it? Truth be told I imagined all kinds of scenarios you were involved with while you were gone, but losing your memory wasn’t one of them. How long have you had this?”

“Eight years.”

“Eight years? Since you left London?”

“Yes. At least, I suppose so.”

“So you don’t even know my name?”

“Other than your title, no. Mr. Buttons did say you were my closest friend.” Gavin paused. “Is that true?”

Lord Chesreton strode toward Gavin, then clasped his arm around Gavin’s shoulders. “Absolutely. We have known each other since we were tots.” The strained look on that had been on his face since Gavin’s arrival disappeared as he grinned.

For the first time since he’d received Buttons’ letter, Gavin smiled. He might not remember this man, but he knew he could trust him. If anyone would help him learn about his past, it would be him.

The man led Gavin toward the study. “First off, call me Colin,” he said. “Secondly, let’s have that port straight away. Seems we’re both going to need it.”

“Port?” Gavin asked, willing to admit his ignorance now without fear of looking foolish.

Colin threw back his head and laughed. “We have a lot of catching up to do!”


A Daring Return can be purchased from Amazon.

Kathy is giving away a copy of A Daring Return. To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment and check back on Sunday, August 30th to see if you've won. If you want to guarantee that you're notified if you win, then leave your email address in the comment, otherwise, you can just check back and email me through the button in my sidebar. OR you could sign up to have Patterings updates delivered to your inbox. If you do, it will give you a bonus entry in the giveaway, otherwise you can enter twice--once for each post you leave a comment on. :^)

Don't forget the other giveaways currently in progress. These drawings will be closing this evening and the winners will be posted with tomorrow's post.
Tammy Barley with Love's Rescue
Mary Moss with The Woman At the Well

9 comments:

  1. I'd love to win!
    mymadakaja at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Enter me, Patty! I read Kathleen Fuller's "A Man of His Word" a little while back, and really enjoyed her style. This book sounds great!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the setting for Kathleen's new book. Please include me in the drawing. Thanks!

    worthy2bpraised[at]gmail[dot]com

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just finished reading and reviewing A Man of His Word and would love to get my hands on a copy of her historical, they are my favorite after all! I've never heard of Avalon books until a few weeks ago. I would love to make A Daring Return my first Avalon book!
    Thank you for the chance to win!

    You can read my review of A Man of His Word here:
    http://steelergirl83.blogspot.com/2009/08/book-review-man-of-his-word-by-kathleen.html

    steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  5. It sounds really good. Please, enter me.
    God's great blessings

    marthanadnny(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a heartwrenching story! Made me want to know what happens next.

    cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Enter me, please! ^_^ I can already see my own ending to this story, lolz.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Your book sounds interesting. I love historicals. Please enter me. Thank you
    desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  9. This book looks like a great Christian romance, just exactly what I sometimes need. Thank you for the giveaway, Patty.

    cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

    ReplyDelete

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