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Book Blitz: Delighting in Your Company by Blair McDowell - Guest Post + Excerpt

Delighting in Your Company by Blair McDowell

What more could a girl ask for?

When Amalie Ansett visits her elderly cousin on the small Caribbean island of St. Clements, the last thing she’s looking for is romance. Just out of a disastrous marriage, she’s ready to swear off men forever.

That is until she meets local plantation owner, Jonathan Evans.

He is tall, good looking, intelligent and incredibly sexy.

What more could a girl ask for?

An unsolved murder … Then Amalie discovers that the man she loves is a ghost. Only she can see and hear him. Perhaps he is real to her because Amalie is the image of her distant ancestor, Jonathan’s bride in that earlier time.

Jonathan was murdered two hundred years ago, and has no knowledge of who killed him or why. A perilous trip to the past… When Jonathan asks her to help him by returning with him to his past, Amalie is torn. If she helps him solve the mystery surrounding his death, she could lose him forever.

If she doesn’t, she is stuck with a ghost for a lover. And a love that crosses the boundaries of time.

To save Jonathan, Amalie agrees to travel with him back in time to the Caribbean of the 1800’s, when sugar reigned supreme and the slave trade was making fortunes for wealthy planters and ship owners. Her adventures there include a slave uprising, murder, deceit and an enduring love that crosses the boundaries of time.

Blair McDowell

I started to write soon after I found my first pencil. But I began to write for publication about 30 years ago -- professional books. I wrote six of them, all still in print and still in use. Only lately have I turned to fiction.

I'd have done it a lot sooner if I'd had any idea how much fun it was! I’ve lived in many different places. The US -- Certain cities call to me. I love San Francisco and Seattle and the wonderful Oregon Coast. Australia -- among the most open welcoming people in the world, and a wide open young country with incredible land and sea scapes, with amazing animal and bird life right out of science fiction.

Canada -- HOME. The place where I belong. I travel a lot. I usually spend the month of October in Europe, Greece or Italy, and the winter in a little house I built many years ago on a small non-touristy Caribbean Island. I have worked and studied in many places -- Hungary, Australia the US and Canada, and have spoken in most of the States and Provinces as well as Taiwan and various cities in Europe.

I enjoy being surrounded by cultures other than my own. I enjoy my own as well -- but variety is indeed the spice of my life. I keep busy -- and I love my life. I love meeting the people who come here to the west coast of Canada and stay in my B&B. I love traveling after the tourist season is over.

And I love writing. My interests?? Music, especially opera, reading everything in print, and Writing. And walking on the beach and swimming. At one point I had hoped to swim in every major sea and ocean. I've realized that may not be possible in one lifetime -- but trying has been fun!

Time for a short excerpt!

He was real. Jonathan Evans was what? A ghost, a spirit, a jumbie? But to her he was real. True she couldn’t touch him. She had a fleeting thought that that was a pity. She would rather have liked to touch him. But how could she help him? She wasn’t that other Amalie, no matter what he thought. She couldn’t be, could she? And yet where had those memories of Ansett Plantation come from?

Josephina arrived at the table for breakfast at that moment and all thoughts of ghosts had to be put aside.

“What are your plans for the day, my dear?”

“I’ll spend the morning working in the archives again, and then this afternoon I guess I’ll just swim and read as usual.”

“Could you run me up to town before you begin? I need to see my solicitor.”

“Of course.”

It was mid morning when Amalie entered the basement room at the Museum.

“You!” Amalie looked at Jonathan, perched on her stool, his hair falling over his forehead, his elbows on the table, his long legs stretched out in front of him. He was whistling softly. That same elusive tune.

“You’re rather late getting here. I’ve been searching for evidence.”

She stared at him. He looked so real, so alive.

Reading her thoughts he said, “Jonathan Evans, in the flesh. Except that, unfortunately, I’m not in the flesh. If I were I could kiss you as I should very much like to.”

Amalie flushed. The thought of being held in those arms, caressed, kissed by those lips…she turned her thoughts hastily away from that direction.

“What’s that tune you’re always whistling?”

“Greensleeves.” He sang a phrase, his voice low and melodious.
“Alas, my love, you do me wrong,
To cast me off discourteously,”

He sighed.  “You used to sing it.”

“I used to sing it?”

“You used to sing it.”

“It must have been the other Amalie who sang it. But I know it from somewhere. I’m not sure where.”  She finished the stanza in her light soprano,

“While I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company…”

Jonathan looked long at her. “Of course you know it. You are one with her. Why do you find this so hard to accept?”

Amalie just shook her head. How could she possibly be a woman who died two hundred years ago?  She was alive. She was born in the twentieth century. For that matter, how could she possibly be holding this ridiculous conversation with a ghost?

And now, let's welcome Blair to the blog!

Delighting in Your Company by Blair McDowell

Alas my love you do me wrong,
To leave me so discourteously,
While I have loved you well and long,
Delighting in your company. 

These words from a fifteenth century song, Greensleeves, were a part of the inspiration for my paranormal novel with time travel, Delighting In Your Company, scheduled for release by Rebel Ink on April 17th .   
My heroine, Amalie Ansett, finds herself in the unenviable position of falling in love with a ghost.   Jonathan Evans was a plantation owner on the small Caribbean island of St. Clement’s in the early 1800’s.   He died suddenly and violently and has walked the island ever since as a ghost, or, as the people there call the dead who walk, a jumbie. 

Amalie can see and hear and touch him as no one else has in two hundred years.   It is up to her to help him find out what happened all those years ago.   Why he is alive but not alive, dead but not dead. 
The island in my book is based on a real one, St. Eustatius.   I’ve had a home there for many years.   Details in my book about jumbies and Obeah, the ancient religious practice brought by the slaves from Africa, are based on stories I’ve heard many times from local friends.   There is a White Wall Road.   And there is, according to local lore, a ghost who walks White Wall.   The “real” ghost, however, is a woman.   In my book I’ve chosen to change her into a man. 

There are other differences, as well.   My book is fiction after all.   While St. Eustatius is Dutch today, I’ve chosen to make my fictional island, St. Clements, English.   I did this because in 1807 the British Parliament enacted a law prohibiting the transportation of slaves into and out of all ports in England and all British possessions.   At that time St. Eustatius was a British Island

This had a profound effect on the economies and social structures of the British Caribbean Islands, and it is a key factor in my plot. 

While I’ve been steeped in Caribbean culture for many years, I learned much in the course of researching the Caribbean of the eighteen hundreds.   I have a large collection of books on the history of the Caribbean, some of them very old, and these were invaluable. 

Delighting In Your Company is a fantasy.   A figment of my imagination.   But the scenes of a slave auction and of an Obeah Ceremony are taken from the works of nineteenth and early twentieth century writers, and the hand written records of slave sales that my heroine finds are, with minor changes, the ledgers I have seen in the Museum of the St. Eustatius Historical Society. 

This book almost wrote itself.   Once I became immersed in the tale, all that I love about the Caribbean Islands and their culture and peoples simply took over. 

I hope you will enjoy reading Delighting In Your Company as much as I enjoyed writing it. 
In the following scene, my heroine, Amalie, is transported in time and is observing a slave auction......  
In the basement room, Amalie contemplated the papers strewn around the wide pine table.   There was a large, leather-bound ledger sitting on top of them.   She hadn’t noticed that yesterday.   Where had it come from? She opened it and started to read the faded ink entries.   
To her shock she discovered it was a ledger of slave sales, with descriptions and prices. 
1 male and 2 females, household slaves to Jeremiah Johnston ….   425 guineas. 
2 field workers to Emerson Gainsborough….   250 guineas
6 field workers to John Taylor….   1250 guineas
The room spun around her.   She grasped the edge of the table to keep from falling as consciousness faded. 
She was in a harbor full of wooden ships.   A crowd of men, from the look of their clothing, planters, shopkeepers and businessmen, milled about the dock, shouting to one another, pushing and shoving, vying for position.   The cacophony was ear splitting.   A large vessel was pulled up to the pier.   Naked male slaves, their ankles chained together, were shuffling down the gangplank and being herded into a holding pen.   The smell of their fear and hopelessness hovered in the air. 
Amalie heard a voice raised above the clamor and turned to see an auction block. 
“And here we have a fine specimen from the Gold Coast.   You all know there ain’t no stronger or better field workers than these.   Turn around, boy.   Let’em see you.   So what am I bid? Come on gentleman.  ”
Bids started coming, fast and furious.   
Horrified, Amalie watched as the young man was led away by the successful bidder.   
When she turned back to the auction block she saw that it was occupied by an emaciated boy barely into his teens.   Even in the hot tropical sun he stood shivering as the crowd jeered and the auctioneer turned him around for prospective buyers to examine. 
“I’ll admit he ain’t much, but he might be some use as kitchen help.   Don’t know how he got into this batch.   Was supposed to be all field workers.   What am I bid? Come on gentlemen, got to move along.   Don’t nobody want this scrawny piece o’ nigger flesh?”
There was a moment’s silence.   Then from the back of the crowd, near where Amalie stood invisibly, “I’ll take him.   Ten guineas.  ” The speaker was a boy no older than the one on the block. 
“Ten guineas?” the auctioneer sneered.   “Might as well give ’im away.   What am I bid, gentlemen?”
The crowd was silent.   The boy reached into his pocket and counted out a handful of change.   “Ten guineas and twelve bob.  ”
Someone in the crowd called out.   “Jonathan Evans.   Your pappy know how you’re squanderin’ his money?”
The crowd broke into raucous laughter. 
Never you mind.  ” The auctioneer took control.   “The boy’s money’s as good as anybody else’s.   You got yourself a slave, boy.   Come and git him.  ”

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