Is the weather outside perhaps a little too frightful? Has winter arrived a bit early, leaving you with dreams of a warm Christmas instead of a white one? Are your visions of sugarplums being chased away by visions of warm, sandy beaches?
If Christmas in Bora Bora is beyond the budget, don’t fret. Grab your hot chocolate and come with me into the pages Gina Welborn’s latest release, Masterpiece Marriage (part of the Quilts of Love series), where it’s a warm, late-spring day.
Philadelphia textile manufacturer Zenus Dane suffers a devastating setback when spring storms damage his factory, equipment, and inventory. If only he could find a way to salvage the thousands of yards of water-stained fabric, something that would use small pieces of cloth rather than large ones… His aunt Pricilla is famous for her original quilts. Would she be willing to help her errant nephew? Desperation drives Zenus to Belle Haven on Virginia’s Eastern Shore.
Englishwoman Mary Varrs has come to America to study botany. The soil on Virginia’s Eastern Shore is ideal for her tomato study. Alas, she discovers she needs to rework the last part of her research paper before she can submit it with her application to the Virginia Agricultural Experiment Station for a position as a research assistant. Such assistantships—like college educations—are difficult for a woman to land in 1891, so Mary’s proposal has to be perfect. Fortunately, her neighbor Priscilla has just the skills Mary needs, if only she can secure her assistance.
Poor Aunt Priscilla! It seems everyone wants a piece of her time. And it’s not like she has lots to spare. Her housekeeper is ill and she is overseeing the creation of a bridal quilt for a local young lady. So, what does she do? Puts both Zenus and Mary to work in exchange for the favors they ask of her.
Mary is a typical introvert. Normally, she’d refuse to spend her days with a dozen chatty women at a quilting bee, but she owes Priscilla. Mary doesn’t like sharing her personal life with strangers, and since she’s only recently moved to Belle Haven (and will soon be leaving), she classifies everyone a stranger. And that counts double for the town’s most recent arrival, handsome Zenus Dane.
Zenus could be charming if it weren’t for his…problem. For all his confidence in business, he frequently finds himself worse than tongue tied around young ladies—he blurts out nonsensical and mortifying misstatements in their presence. Instead of “It’s nice to meet you” phrases like “It’s nice to marry you” flow from his mouth. And trying to dig himself out of one faux pas usually just puts him in a deeper verbal hole.
Zenus wants to court the belle of Belle Haven to be his wife in Philadelphia, but Aunt Priscilla’s conditions force him to work together with Mary. True love does not come easily, of course. And even if they were acknowledge their growing attraction, Zenus’ and Mary’s divergent futures would preclude a happily ever after. Or would they?
Of course, we all know how a romance is going to end. The thrill is in the journey, and it's here that Gina excels. Finding a way to keep the characters true to themselves while allowing the city-boy-factory-owner and the academically-ambitious-botanist room to compromise so love can have its way is a true balancing act.
Masterpiece Marriage is a funny, light-hearted romance that’s sure to warm your heart no matter how cold it is outside. And when you’ve finished, you too might find yourself doing an internet search for “quilt kits.” Now, if only I could sew…
For a chance to win a FREE copy, leave a comment with a "disguised" email address (yourname at provider dot extension) by 11:59 Friday, December 19, 2014.