Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Guest Author: Victoria Gray

Today, I'd like to welcome Victoria Gray to my blog. She's a fellow author who also writes American Civil War romances. I've read her marvelous Civil War romance, Destiny, and, although I haven't had the chance to read it yet, already have her new release, Angel in My Arms, installed on my Nook. After reading the blurb and a few excerpts, I look forward to a great read from this new book as well. It's about spies. A subject I find fascinating.

Tell us about your stories, Victoria.

Thanks, Susan, for having me as a guest today. Like you, I have a fondness for the Civil War era. Growing up in Virginia, I was surrounded by historical landmarks. From Jamestown, the site of the first permanent English colony, to the battlefields of Yorktown where the American Revolution was won to Appomattox, where General Lee surrendered to General Grant on Palm Sunday, 1865, a sense of history surrounds you. Even so, I grew up without knowing the role women played in the war. I was fascinated to learn of women disguising themselves as men to join the troops in battle. But what intrigued me most was the role women played as spies and how effective they were at gleaning information for both sides of the conflict.

Spies…the word brings to mind images of James Bond and gadgets…but an eccentric middle-aged woman? Suppose her odd behavior was nothing more than a cover for a shrewd mind and ingenious schemes, a means for a spy to disarm the people she’s deceiving without ever using a weapon – Elizabeth Van Lew, a Richmond spinster known as Crazy Bet, did just that. A devoted abolitionist, Crazy Bet funneled information to Union generals, much of which was gathered during her frequent visits to Richmond’s Libby Prison. Using food to bribe her way inside the prison, she provided small comforts and books to Federal prisoners while she gleaned bits and pieces of information about Confederate activity. Elizabeth Van Lew’s story inspired Angel in My Arms, the story of Amanda Emerson, a beautiful Union spy working under the leadership of Richmond matron “Crazy Betsy” Kincaid, and Steve Dunham, the Union officer she recruits for a suicide mission.

A rake with a girl in every town and a twinkle in his eye, Steve’s facing a noose when a sable-haired beauty and a crazy matron engineer his escape from jail. There's a catch - Amanda needs him to break into Libby Prison to rescue a notorious double agent who may or may not be on the side of the Union. He’s trading one noose for another, but Steve can’t resist her spirit and her gentleness. He’ll possess her love – if he lives long enough.

The rugged soldier she recruits for her plan looks more like a Viking warrior than a disciplined officer, but Amanda’s drawn to Steve’s courage and tenderness.  As  the danger  surrounding them thickens, every moment he’s with her jeopardizes their lives, but they discover a passionate love that’s worth the risk.

Steve Dunham, the hero of Angel in My Arms, was introduced in an earlier novel, Destiny. When I wrote Destiny, I knew I wanted to give Steve his own love story. Throw in a gang of gun-runners who specialize in stolen military weapons, a nest of beautiful spies, a heroic Confederate officer whose ties with Steve go back to their Army service in the western territories, and a villain with a thirst for revenge, and you've got a plot that isn't your mother's Civil War romance.

Here’s an Excerpt:

Amanda closed her eyes and savored his possession. How could anything feel as good as his lips against hers? With his arms wrapped tight around her, she felt as though nothing could penetrate the tender shield of his embrace.

Wanting him was wrong. He was little more than a stranger. A man she’d teamed with for a mission. He was supposed to be nothing more.

But he’d filled her heart.

His handsome face captivated her all the more for its tiny imperfections. A small scar on his chin. The small bump at the bridge of his nose that told the tale of a long-ago break. Another scar, much more recent, on his jaw that looked to be the result of a man’s ring connecting with his flesh and bone.

He was a warrior. Her warrior. Fierce. Tender. Courageous. Protective.

“You’re so beautiful, Mandy.” His lips trailed the column of her throat.

She nestled against his broad chest. He smelled like bay rum and pine and leather. She’d never realized how tantalizing the scents could be. Mingled with his natural essence, the blend of aromas touched something deep and primal within her. She couldn’t resist the scent. Or him.

He took her hands in his. A sly smile curved his mouth as he studied her. “Such sweet temptation. The question is where to begin.”

She’d wasn’t an innocent, but she’d never experienced the heat of a man’s gaze drinking her in as though she were a fine wine to be savored. When Steve looked at her, she felt wanted.



Ridiculous. He couldn’t possibly love her.

But he hungered for her touch. That would have to be enough. After all, she didn’t love him.

Keep telling yourself that, Mandy.

She couldn’t love a man she barely knew.

Even if she longed for his scent. For his touch. For the moment when he’d claim her.

Even if she prayed he’d come to his senses and leave her before the rebels captured him and dragged him away to prison. Or a noose.

To learn more about Angel in My Arms, please visit my website, and my blog, . Angel in My Arms is now available in print and as an eBook from The Wild Rose Press, .


Rachel said...

Wow, this story sounds amazing, Victoria! No wonder TWRP snapped it up, such an original idea. Congrats on the wonderful 4 star RT review you are too modest to mention!

Rachel x

Caroline Clemmons said...

Great excerpt. Best wishes on your sales.

Debby Lee said...

Hi Victoria, I'm a big fan of Civil War era books. All of your books sound really facinating. I'm looking forward to reading more. Best of luck to you with all your books.
Sincerely, Debby Lee

Denise Eagan said...

Love the excerpt, Victoria. And I adore spy stories! I've read about Libby prison--weren't some of them transferred to Andersonville?--but not about the female spies. Looking forward to reading the book!

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

After reading your excerpt I am ready to go find that book. Best of luck with lots of sales, Victoria. You've got a fantastic voice!

Victoria Gray said...

Hi Ladies,

Sorry to be so late today...had one of those never-ending days at work.

When I first learned about "Crazy Bet" in Richmond, I thought it was one of the most fascinating true stories I'd ever heard...she provided my inspiration. Thanks for your kind words :)