Archive for September, 2010

The Father ‘Hood

September 30, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 2 Comments →

Hi Romance Junkies! I’m so excited to announce the release of the third and final installment of my “Runaway Brides” trilogy. SCOUNDREL IN MY DREAMS is the story of Jack and Laurel, and how they discover each other again while searching for the secrets behind their daughter Melody’s disappearance nearly three years before.

  I’ve loved every minute of writing the story of little Melody, deposited on the doorstep of a London gentlemen’s club, and the three men who had to search their pasts to learn if they were her unknown father. In DEVIL IN MY BED, Madeleine and Aidan must dig their way through years of lies and desperate deception. In ROGUE IN MY ARMS, Pru and Colin must search the English countryside together to free themselves and their burgeoning feelings from the weight of Colin’s past.

In SCOUNDREL IN MY DREAMS, mourning mother Laurel Clarke at last learns that her child still lives—and is in the hands of the last man Laurel ever expected to see again! Young Laurel lost her heart to war-torn Jack years before but he gave her one night of bliss before disappearing to sail the world. Now, furious and wishing only to take her daughter back, Laurel finds herself imprisoned in the attic of the gentlemen’s club until Jack can convince her to let him keep little Melody. (Yes, in the attic!) Their path through years of loss back to forgiveness is one of the best stories I’ve ever had the privilege to tell.

I always include a large cast of characters in my novels. This time, the staff and members of Brown’s Club for Distinguished Gentlemen have been more fun than any before them. From the conniving octogenarian members to the lovelorn footmen, each falls prey to Melody’s dimples and inclination to cause chaos. What a lucky little girl, to have so many doting uncles and grampapas!

I think the most interesting question I had ask myself in writing this trilogy, (which bore the working title “Three Lords and a Baby”) was “What makes a man a father?” Other than biology, what makes one man a great father and one man not? aWhat major qualities make up the good fathers you have known?

Visit to learn more about the “Runaway Brides” trilogy

and her upcoming novel THE COURTESAN’S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR MAN (June 2011), written with NYT bestselling novelist Susan Donovan



September 28, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 1 Comment →

As I was trying to get my printer to work the other day I realized something. If I don’t load the paper a certain way it will jam. Since this has happened a few times and frustrated me I wanted to get to the bottom of what the problem was. So after loading and reloading my printer I came to the conclusion. The paper can’t be flat but have a little hump to it. So I need to load it hump side up. Yeah I know it was like an ah ha moment. LOL. Hey who am I to go against my printer. It doesn’t like the flat side. This made me think of other little idiosyncrasies around me.

Namely some people’s idiosyncrasies. For example every day I meet some of the same people as I go to work. We take the same seats. I don’t think it is even intentional we just go there. On the same trip there is one person who is a reader, a music listener and a cell phone talker. They each do the same thing each day. The reader pulls out whatever book they are reading. Of course since I am reading too we eye each other’s book to see what we are reading. The music listener bops and lip syncs to whatever they are listening to. The cell phone talker had a long conversation that shares all their business and so on. Yeah they are loud and I don’t think they even realize it.

These are idiosyncrasies that we each have that we don’t even think about. Another of my idiosyncrasies is at the end of my day as I come out of the tunnel in the train I automatically relax. It is at that moment that I know that I am only a few minutes from home. Home where I can relax even more before I starting all over again the next day.

What are some of your idiosyncrasies?

McKenna Jeffries
…. sensual, edgy, unexpected

Chat Group:
Free Reads Site: http:/ /

Conquering Jazz – What’s a woman to do when she unwittingly makes a tantalizing proposition to her best friend?

Be brazen, bold and set some ground rules. Her offer. One night of carnal bliss. No emotion allowed.

His counter offer. A continued affair to fulfill all their sexual cravings.

His hidden agenda. Conquer to make sure their affair never ends.

Buy here at Liquid Silver Book.

A Secret

September 27, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 4 Comments →

Technically, I’m a cat person. I have two and generally prefer their company over most humans. They make lovely writing companions if you don’t mind cat hair on your keyboard. Lately, however, I’ve been considering…a dog.

Shhhh, let’s not announce it so the cats will hear. Let’s just keep it between us. 

In writing my new book, ALASKA HEART, I researched dogs, specifically Siberian Huskies. These are clearly superior pups for their strength, determination, and intelligence. Plus, they are absolutely gorgeous!

Exhibit A:

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Exhibit B:

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Exhibit C:

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Okay, I could go on all day here with evidence of how wonderful huskies are, but I’ll spare you the slideshow. Bottom line, I may have to pursue this dog ownership thing. I simply can’t get these pooches out of my mind. I’m not going to enter the Iditarod, but having a husky companion might be a rewarding experience. 

Just don’t tell the cats. I mean it. I’m counting on you to keep our little secret. 

If you’re feeling a little canine curious and wouldn’t mind a little love story as well, check out my book, ALASKA HEART! 


Alaska is supposed to be cold, so why is Alanna Cormac on fire?Sent on a dream assignment to Denali National Park, nature magazine writer Alanna Cormac has no intentions of falling in love with Dale Ramsden, sexy Iditarod winner. When Dale, his family, and even his eighteen sled dogs charm their way into her heart, however, Alanna’s fast-track New York instincts crumble. The Alaskan landscape and the caress of a man too good to be true ignite feelings she never had time to explore before. Feelings that have her so blissfully busy she’s unaware she’s being watched. Judged. Targeted.She’s next.Love will either save her or swallow her whole. Is there even a difference?PRINT BOOK AVAILABLE AT:
Got to go now. The cats are watching. I think they

Making Mistakes by Ciara Gold

September 25, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 4 Comments →

An author’s greatest fear is making a mistake in their manuscript, be it a research mistake, a spelling mistake, grammar mistake, plot mistake, etc.  I’m sure most authors are like me and they read their work over and over again to hopefully catch all those pesky little goobers. Even after reading the story more than ten times, having an editor pour over the book at least twice before sending the ARC back to the author for one last final read, mistakes still happen.

I’m only human after all as most of us are. I try not to read my work once it’s published for fear I’ll find something out of kilter. I just got through rereading On the Silver Edge of Time because I’m currently working on a sequel to this book, and I became embarrassed and frustrated to find a glaring geographical error. Well, I could ecplain it rather easily. I misnamed a river, but since the story takes place in the tenth century, who’s to say that one group of people didn’t call the river by that name. Actually, I think it was from research I did where they had called the river by this name, but still. Okay, yeah, that’s lame, but … does the mistake take away from the enjoyment of the story. I hope not.

I read all the time, and I’ve yet to find a book without mistakes. Most are small. Some not so small, but if the story is engaging and I’m in love with the characters, I have no trouble with working past these glitches. In fact, I get rather frustrated with folks who complain that a book is no good because the author made errors. So? Writing a full length novel is a lot of work, and most don’t write for the money. They write to share their stories with readers, to provide healthy entertainment for like-minded individuals.  Sure, if the book is riddled with mistakes, the enjoyment is lessened, but most books that have been well-edited shouldn’t be blasted for one or two errors that somehow escaped detection.


Friendship, Love, and Belonging by Janie Franz

September 24, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 9 Comments →

As I’ve been writing The Bowdancer Saga, I’ve been handling themes of friendship, love, and belonging. The second book in the series, The Wayfarer’s Road, explores how a friendship can blossom into something more, and the third book, Warrior Women, looks at friendship and love among women.

What is interesting to me about this exploration is the ways friendships are cultivated and sustained.  Let’s look at some of my friends.

For my friend Mary, it’s a daily phone call or computer chat with someone. She reaches out, offering her cheery voice or bright attitude, making someone’s day a blessing just because they picked up the phone or connect to an internet chat or IM. Some of Mary’s friends have been receiving her phone calls for twenty years: others just a few months. Her friends look forward to Mary’s connection with them, even though it may be brief but it is a constant in their lives.

Joyce stays in touch by going out with her friends, having lunch with them or going shopping. She and her friends might take in a movie or a play or go see a live band. Her friendships are cultivated by having fun together.

Amanda does that, too. She’s a clinical psychologist and she spends her days listening to other people talk about deep emotional things. For her, she wants to participate in a shared activity with her friends. She’s a weaver and will often invite two or three of her friends to bring their looms to her home and they will sit and weave and listen to classical music together, discussing yarns and techniques.

Susan, on the other hand, works out of her home office, doing interviews by phone, setting up events, and writing. She prefers to have one or two friends with whom she can have deep conversations about books and movies, and, most especially, about life.  Susan is able to get on a deeper level than many people and she has chosen friends who want to journey on that path with her. She makes time to listen to them and they listen to her.

But Linda has a totally different approach, not only in her choice of friends but in how they interact and keep their friendship alive. Some of her best times with one of her friends is just sitting in silence together on the back porch, sipping tea, and listening to the birds. They smile at each other and remark on a particular birdsong, but nothing more. This comfortable shared silence began a decade ago when Linda’s husband Joe was dying of cancer. Her friend came every day and sat with her beside Joe’s bed, sometimes holding her hand while Linda held Joe’s. Nothing needed to be said. There was the comfort in just knowing the person was there. So, they continued to just spend time together in silence.

For myself, I tend to experience friendships a bit in all of these ways, though I tend to relate more to Susan’s approach. I prefer to dig deeper into a friendship and discover the meaning that’s there as life is processed with a friend.

In my books, my main character, Jan-nell, has never had friends before, not in her childhood and certainly not as an adult. In The Bowdancer, the love interest Bastin was a lover not a friend. In The Wayfarer’s Road, though, Khrin who is a friend has the potential to be a lover.  But it is in Warrior Women that Jan-nell finally learns what friendships are about. These women bind themselves tightly to her heart, showing her through their care for one another and then for her what it means to be a friend.

No matter what way you enjoy being with your friends, hold them close and let them know what they mean to you.


My websites are:

Finding a comfortable niche

September 24, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 6 Comments →

Finding the right fit for you as an author or as a reader can be tricky. As a reader I like all sorts of different genres. I read cozy mysteries and crime. I enjoy paranormal. I love romance, everything from sweet to very kinky. There is no one right genre to suit my reading tastes. Today I may feel like a historical romance. Tomorrow, I may want to read a cozy mystery. By next week, who knows what I might be looking for.

So it will not come as a surprise to you, then, to learn I write across genres. I have contemporary-set MMF ménages, with a ghost. I have an MM werewolf story coming out for Halloween. In December, my first MMF vampire story will be released.

I have also written MMM (contemporary set) and several erotic FF stories, some historical, some contemporary.

Is ménage better than MF? And yes, I have actually written a straight MF erotic novella too. Is paranormal better than historical or contemporary?

I like to think there is a big wide world of readers out there, some of whom will be just like me, and enjoy a bit of everything.

Let me introduce you to my first erotic FF novella, “Loving Lydia”.

Blurb-Tammy’s sights are set and goals targeted. With one thing on her mind – Lydia – she will stop at nothing to satisfy every craving her body has for the seductive female, including showing up at the same gym for a chance encounter.Lydia’s career is in her pocket. Successful, motivated, and driven, Lydia realizes she wants more out of life than just her job. Aware of Tammy’s intentions, Lydia decides to play along, at least until a cup of steaming hot coffee turns into a passionate night. Can she split her life between her career and Tammy?Will Tammy be able to quench her thirst for Lydia with one night of hot sex, or will she be left wanting more?

Excerpt-Tammy’s heart clenched at the succulent picture Lydia made, her soft golden-blonde hair looking very pretty against the bright yellow shirt. She gulped. “Sounds good.” She dragged in another deep breath. “Meet you at the coffee shop across the street in, say, half an hour then?””Yeah, that’ll be good.” Lydia slid her cell phone back into her pocket and increased the speed of her bike.Tammy tried to concentrate on her own work-out, but her eyes slid over to the delicious picture her neighbor made, with just the slightest sheen of sweat on her face, her legs pumping the bike pedals.Her face will look just like that as we make love—that glow of perspiration, the smile in her eyes. But her attention will be focused on me as I bring her to one orgasm after another. I wonder if her pussy is bare or if she has blonde curls for me to run my fingers through as I search out her clit to stroke it. Her skin is fair and soft. I bet her nipples will be pink rather than brown. But in my mouth, they’ll soon turn hard and red as I suck her closer and closer to exploding. And then I’ll—Tammy brought her mind back to the present as cream dripped from her cunt, dampening her panties. Lucky I was planning to have a shower and change my underwear!Tammy watched as Lydia slid off her bike, smiled at her, and wandered over to the weights to do the next part of her program. She’d first noticed Lydia a couple of months ago, and the attraction had been instant and all-consuming. Lydia was very organized and followed a routine. Unlike Lydia, Tammy didn’t have a set program. She just did whatever she felt like and right now what she wanted to do was watch Lydia, so she stayed on the bike.Because Tammy didn’t have a set program, it was easy for her to come to the gym a couple of times a week when she knew Lydia would be there, hoping she could get to know her better.And the more she learned about the woman, the more she ached to hold her in her arms and make love to her. And now, finally, they were going to have a coffee together. Awesome!

Buy link:

Breathless press book trailer

Lydia’s page:

Berengaria Brown

Guest Blogger Rose Melikan

September 23, 2010 By: Romance Junkies Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 4 Comments →


Far be it from me to criticize Jane Austen, but an unfortunate consequence of her popularity has been the assumption that Englishwomen living during the reign of George III spent all their time writing letters, attending card parties, and striving to make a “good match”.  Admittedly, the Bennets, Elliots, Dashwoods et al. represent a particular segment of society, the provincial middle class, but even so, were these women really so limited in their outlook and aspirations?Undoubtedly, some of them were.  Jane Austen was too astute an observer of manners and morals to misjudge things badly.  Nevertheless, some middle class women did venture beyond the parsonage and the manor house, either through necessity or the desire for a wider experience.  I thought about these women when I was creating my heroine, Mary Finch.  She doesn’t represent any particular person who actually lived at the end of the 18th century, but when constructing her adventures I did consider whether there was a contemporary precedent for what I was planning, or whether her strengths and weaknesses were out of line with what I knew about women of her time.  So when readers ask me whether someone like Mary could really have existed in the 1790s, I say, yes, I think she could.Let me give you examples of two Georgian women who, in their different ways, are somewhat in the Mary Finch mold.  The first is Hannah More (1745-1833).  Having been taught Latin, mathematics, and foreign languages, she and her sisters ran a girls’ boarding school in Bristol, while her parents presided over a like establishment for boys.  From an early age she enjoyed writing, and her work attracted the attention of the London literary elite.  As a young woman she made the acquaintance of David Garrick, Sir Joshua Reynolds, and Samuel Johnson, and was invited to join the exclusive Bluestocking society.  Her plays were popular and won rave reviews from the critics.  A devout Anglican, More’s writing had always had a particularly moral tone, and increasingly she devoted herself to what she considered important social and political causes: education, patriotism and respect for authority, and abolition of the slave trade.  In the last of these she worked closely with William Wilberforce and was a member of the Clapham Sect of Evangelical reformers.  Her loyalist tracts, published during the war years, sold enormously in Great Britain and America.  While of dubious literary merit, they were extremely important in providing a coherent, easily accessible platform for the forces of political, social, and religious conservatism.  Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797) was cut from a very different cloth.  Almost entirely self-taught, she left home at the age of nineteen to escape a violent father who had squandered the family’s resources.  After unsuccessful stints as schoolteacher, governess, and paid companion, she decided to become an author, and began supporting herself by writing stories, book reviews, translations, and essays.  Her Thoughts on the Education of Daughters was published in 1787.  While More sought to uphold values of deference, obedience, and loyalty, these were anathema to the egalitarian Wollstonecraft.  She enjoyed the company of the leading radicals and rationalist thinkers of the day, including Thomas Paine, Joseph Priestley, and William Godwin, and she published the first refutation of Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, entitled, A Vindication of the Rights of Men.  In it she attacked monarchy, aristocratic privilege, and traditional institutions that promoted inequality.  Her most famous work, A Vindication of the Rights of Women, took her arguments a step further, charging that women were being denied (and denying themselves) equality through a lack of rational education and a cloying celebration of feminine “sensibility”.  Similarly, while More attacked the French Revolution, Wollstonecraft defended it; indeed she travelled alone to France in 1792 to observe events firsthand, only returning in 1795.  Her intrepidity was also evident in an expedition she made to Scandinavia – accompanied this time by her enfant daughter – to pursue her lover’s business interests.  More never married, but Wollstonecraft’s personal life was by far the more exceptional.  She had a child with a married man, and only wed William Godwin (they were both opposed in principle to the institution) when she discovered she was pregnant.  They moved in together, but he also leased a separate workspace so that they could preserve their professional independence.I don’t mean to suggest that More and Wollstonecraft were “average” women, or that their conduct passed without comment by their contemporaries.  Their political views won them both support and censure, and Wollstonecraft, in particular, was strongly criticized, even by some of her friends, when she revealed that her first child had been born out of wedlock.  My point is rather that despite the constraints and conventions of their time, they both managed to lead adventurous lives.

Adventurous people are necessarily unusual – and adventurous characters in novels are even more so. As Captain Holland reflects upon first making Mary Finch’s acquaintance, “He had never met a girl who said and did such odd things – and not just occasionally, but one right after the other.”  Holland’s own career is not exactly straightforward, but he has never met anyone quite like Mary.  He would undoubtedly have considered Hannah More and Mary Wollstonecraft rather odd as well. 



Don’t Put Your Writing Eggs in One Basket

September 22, 2010 By: Guestauthor Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 21 Comments →

Hi, I’m Ruth J. Hartman. Along with being a published author, I’m also a dental hygienist. My latest sweet romance, “Pillow Talk” is about a tooth fairy who falls in love with her dentist.

When I started seriously writing two years ago, I’d found this wonderful publisher who wanted to publish my memoir about my struggle with severe OCD. I figured since I had my foot in their virtual door, I wouldn’t have to seek out any more publishers. Surely, since they liked my first book, they’d like the next one, too. Right?

After my memoir, I tackled writing sweet contemporary romance. When I felt it was ready to go, I e-mailed it to my publisher. They informed me that they didn’t publish romances. Hmmm. I went back and checked their submission guidelines again and previous books. It didn’t say not to send romances, and I saw a couple of them on their book list. That made me feel a little less stupid, but it didn’t help me with getting my romance published. Now what?

I started trolling the web, checking all the romance publishers I could find. While there were many of them, most I found weren’t interested in sweet romances. Only erotica. I kept looking, and submitted to several. One responded in the positive after a few weeks had gone by. Yay! Now I was set. I had a romance publisher. No need to look further. But when they set the schedule for their books to be released, mine was over a year and a half away. A year and a half! I’m still waiting. I then decided that while I like that publisher very much, I would try somewhere else for the next book. Enter publisher number three. They’re wonderful, like the first and second publishers. Okay, I thought, I’ll stay here. Nice and cozy. No need to roam.

The next thing I knew, however, a writing friend of mine was opening her own publishing house and was looking for submissions. I already liked her, and loved her website. The other writers on the site were so kind and helpful, too. Guess what? My next two books are with publisher number four.

At first, I felt kind of bad for moving around like that. But since then, I’ve learned that even some of the editors at these publishing houses submit to other houses. Imagine my surprise! It turns out I’m not the traitor I was afraid I’d become. And besides, other authors recommend using more than one publisher. You never know when a house might fold. Things happen. Personal emergencies, changing interests, and the economy all influence these businesses.

So don’t be afraid to disperse your eggs. (That sounded weird, but you know what I mean.)

One lucky commenter will win a copy of Pillow talk.

“Pillow Talk” can be purchased at

Read more about Ruth’s books at

E-mail her at

Timeless Romance by Anna Elliot

September 21, 2010 By: Romance Junkies Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 6 Comments →

Timeless Romance anna-elliott-author-photo.jpg


            Trystan and Isolde are one of the most famous pairs of lovers in legend or story.  Lancelot and Gwenevere.  Romeo and Juliet.  Trystan and Isolde.  I love the story of Trystan and Isolde, and have since I first encountered it in college.  But in the most commonly retold Trystan and Isolde legends, Trystan and Isolde accidentally drink from a magical potion, and it’s the potion which causes them to fall helplessly in love.  This version of the story ends tragically, and in many ways, so it should: a love based on a magic potion can hardly be true love.  And haven’t we all discovered that chasing after a mere illusion of love leads to a broken heart?            But the earliest versions of the Trystan and Isolde legend haven’t survived.  The medieval written versions of the story are more than six hundred years later in time period than the oral traditions that eventually became the legend of Trystan and Isolde.  And six hundred years is a lot of time for a legend to grow and change.  In fact, there is a fragmentary and very early Welsh version of the Trystan and Isolde story that ends happily, with the lovers united.            In Dark Moon of Avalon, my retelling of the Trystan and Isolde story, I was interested in exploring what might have been the tiny kernel of truth at the root of the stories as we know them today.  Dark Moon of Avalon takes place in the shadow of King Arthur’s Britain, during the mid 6th century, when invading Saxon armies were increasingly defeating Britain’s forces and taking over Britain’s lands.              My Isolde is the daughter of Modred, great villain of the Arthurian cycle of tales.  And she has lost everything, her old life, her family, her home, have all been destroyed by the constant battles and political intrigue.  She sets out with her childhood friend and protector Trystan on a dangerous mission by boat, and–as in the original legend–it is on the journey over water that their relationship starts to deepen and change.            Isolde is also a healer, focused on caring for others day in and day out.  And the true turning point in her relationship with Trystan comes when she is herself injured, bitten by a poisonous snake, and so forced to allow Trystan to step into the role of healer and take care of her.  I’d like to share a brief excerpt of the scene here, where Trystan and Isolde don’t need a magical potion to fall in love, only the magic of the emotional bond between them.                        His gold-brown hair was still damp with the rain, small droplets of rainwater still trapped on his eyelashes.  The firelight gleamed on the lean, strong lines of his face, and his touch on her skin was warm and sure.  And all at once, as their eyes met, Isolde felt something enter the room–something that crept in like sea fog and tightened her every nerve.            Isolde forced herself to say, “Trys, all this is my fault.  I should have–“            She had to break off as a hot prickle of tears started again behind her eyes.  Isolde blinked, ordering herself to stop.  If she’d been careless enough to be bitten by the adder, she absolutely refused to dissolve now into tears.            Trystan must have seen, though–or else she looked even more ill ant pathetic than she’d thought–because he came to crouch down next to her.  His hand moved as though he were about to smooth her hair back, but then he seemed to check himself and said, instead, “Your fault?  That a snake bit you?  You can’t blame yourself.  Besides, haven’t you heard about an adder’s bite being good luck?”            Isolde smiled unsteadily, raising a hand to scrub at her cheek–and tried not to wish he’d touch her, put an arm around her so that she could lean against him.  “You just made that up.  And stop being so nice to me–you’ll make me feel sorry for myself.”                        I’ve always loved the story of Trystan and Isolde, and it was a pure joy for me to explore the roots of the legend, and immerse myself every day in the magic of their timeless romance.  What about you?  Who are your favorite lovers from legend or history?  What’s your favorite love story? 


To celebrate the release of Dark Moon of Avalon, I’m offering a free prequel short story, Dawn of Avalon, available for free download on my website here:



He would become the most powerful wizard in the history of Britain—Merlin. She would become Britain’s most storied sorceress—Morgan le Fay. But before they were legends, they were young. And they were lovers. Together, in the sunlight of one day long ago, they saved a kingdom. Dawn of Avalon. A stand-alone story from the universe of Anna Elliott’s Twilight of Avalon. 

Guest Author Jack Todd

September 20, 2010 By: Romance Junkies Category: Guest Blogger, Latest News 5 Comments →

Jack ToddOn writing Sun Going Down and Come Again No More 


Nearly 150 years ago, Stephen Foster sat down and wrote a song about the unfortunates outside his cottage door. It was called Hard Times Come Again No More, and it was written during one of those times when the American Dream, for reasons no one fully understands, takes a four-story header into an empty swimming pool.


The mournful tune, written in 1855, became one of the more popular songs of the Civil War era and it has been recorded by a long list of musical luminaries in our own time, including Emmylou Harris, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Renée Fleming and James Taylor. Most recently, it was performed beautifully by Mary J. Blige on the Hope for Haiti telecast. Why would such an old tune have such resonance in our time? The obvious answer is that the hard times do come again, and again. Come Again No More is set almost entirely during the 1930s, a time of such widespread desperation that the jobless rate was more than three times what it is during our own Great Recession. 

The parallels between the two eras are so many that a writer researching the Great Depression can be brought up short by nuggets of information such as the news that Bear-Sterns and Lehman Brothers were called on the carpet by Congress to explain their role in creating the stock-market crash of 1929 – much as their successors 75 years later would take advantage of lax regulations to create another bubble market and another disaster. All that is public history, but it is the private history that intrigues a novelist. My parents survived the Great Depression – barely. They lost their farm in Nebraska, all their backbreaking labor gone up in a foreclosure auction. They joined the great migration to the West Coast, spent six months in Oregon and returned to Nebraska because my father couldn’t stand the rain.  Come Again No More is the second volume of what I call the Paint Trilogy, based on the fictional Paint family and lives that intertwined with more than a century of American history. It could as easily be called the American Trilogy, because it is an American story to the core – the good and the bad. Like the first volume, Sun Going Down, Come Again No More is an attempt to fix an elusive quality, the American spirit. What it is that causes Americans to respond as they do (or as they once did) to war, famine, hard times, disasters. Sometimes the spirit is challenged in a much more subtle way. What kept my mother going during the decades or her disastrous marriage to my father? She was a soft-spoken intellectual, happiest when she was curled up with Balzac or Chekhov. He was a rough-hewn and almost illiterate ex-boxer, happiest when he was getting into fist fights, breaking horses – and chasing women, which he did with conviction into his 70s. There are many lessons to be learned from the Great Depression: Don’t trust Wall Street would be the first one. Beyond that, there is an essential truth. Humans endure. Any historical saga has to deal with that essential point. Emaline and Jake McCloskey, the characters based on my parents, endure.  So does Eli Paint, the tough old family patriarch based on my great-grandfather, Squier Jones. Eli survives a terrible car accident at the beginning of Come Again No More, marries for a third time after his second wife dies in a mental institution, loses half the hundred-thousand acre ranch it has taken him a lifetime to build and wins part of it back, and throws his considerable energies into reconciling with his headstrong granddaughter Emaline, who blames him for destroying her mother, who has died of tuberculosis as Come Again No More begins. The great aspirations of both Eli and Emaline are expressed, in the end, in an attempt to free a mustang stallion known as the Black and five hundred other wild horses destined for a slaughterhouse and a dog-food can. It’s a statement on freedom, the American Dream, rescuing what remains of our wilderness and the transcendant imagination that is able to rise above the money men, the small everyday tyrannies inflicted in bad times and good, the limits of lives that seem to have lost their heroic dimension. 

As the wild horses gallop to freedom west of the Bighorn Canyon in Montana, the human characters trailing them have survived another decade of hard times, the Great Depression is ending, and a war has begun in Europe. That is the topic of the third volume of the trilogy, The Rain Came Down.

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