Today I welcome the lovely Susanne Bellamy to my chair.
Her debut novel White Ginger, set in Hawaii is a lovely read with a dreamy quality and would make a fabulous read for the holiday weekend.
What was your first perfume? Do you remember the scent and how it made you feel?
Mine was White Ginger and the memory of its sweet, fresh scent has stayed with me. It was one of Avon’s range back in the days of my emerging into young womanhood. I loved it, and the way I could close my eyes and imagine myself in Hawaii with swaying palms (and maybe Elvis—I loved “Blue Hawaii” too!).
Years later, with autumn in the air and home alone, I sat writing my first novel. Amelie, my artistic heroine, has been rescued from her broken-down hire car and driven to her cottage by Arne, my hunky hero. As Amelie surveys her temporary home in the waning light, she sees a white ginger bush flowering beside her veranda and races over to bury her nose in its heady delights.
Moonlight cast a glow over a cabin to their left.
“Is this my cabin? How wonderful.” Fascinated, she looked over the small wooden structure as she climbed out of Arne’s jeep.
A miniature plantation style building with verandas around two sides faced south overlooking the sea. Three shallow wooden steps gave access to the middle of the veranda. And to the left of the steps, almost aglow in the full moonlight, was a Hawaiian white ginger bush.
“Oh, my favorite.” She leaned into the gleaming white bloom, savoring the heady perfume. “I think I’m going to love being here.”
Memories of my adolescent love of the perfume rushed back. I sat, savouring the remembered scent and realised I had the perfect title.
White Ginger fed another of my passions—Broadway musicals—and shares one of its key themes with South Pacific. Several characters struggle to get past their prejudices and the way they’ve been “carefully taught to be afraid/Of people whose skin is a different shade”. This is the 1940’s, don’t forget, but these prejudices are as pervasive today as they were then. In the musical, Ensign Nellie Forbush falls in love with Emil Dubeque, the French planter, but can’t get past the fact he has two children from his marriage to a Tonkinese princess. Lt. Cable falls in love with Liat but she is Tonkinese and he struggles with the idea of her ethnicity while remembering “the girl back home”. So for Arne to worry that Amelie may have a problem with his mixed French/Hawaiian ancestry is understandable, especially as it is the reason his fiancée dumped him.
Great musicals have such conflict at their heart, deep and powerful and emotion-driven. Which is why I love them so much. And why I had to explore this theme in White Ginger.
I really am a sucker for beautiful music and a powerful love story. I suspect references to other musicals will feature in coming books. In fact, Her Spanish Flame (working title was The Impossible Dream) features a delicious Spanish baritone, Alejandro Augustin, playing the role of Don Quixote when Isabelle first meets him. The working title was the title of a famous song from the musical, Man of La Mancha.
Anyway, here’s the blurb for White Ginger:
Sometimes finding a soul mate can be dangerous.
Dumped by her fiancé and deemed too predictable, Amelie vows to steer clear of men. She flees Brisbane for Hawaii where she fights an inconvenient attraction to a sexy marine biologist who is busy waging war against a developer.
Arne is fighting a David and Goliath battle against an unscrupulous company whose resort will damage the reef protecting his small Kauai town. He recognizes his soul mate in Amelie, but his efforts to win her trust are thwarted when he becomes a target due to his anti-development stance.
Although being with Arne could be dangerous for Amelie, some attractions cannot be ignored. Will he overcome her resistance and win the battle against those trying to destroy their paradise?
CONTENT WARNING: Seductive locations and a smouldering hero.
“I thought you might like this,” he announced holding the bottle aloft. “It’s Australian. We can celebrate your new car--”
“Thank you, again. I’m impressed you managed to organize it so quickly. And here was me thinking I’d have no one to help me out of an awkward situation when that stupid car carked it.”
“I take it that means when it died on you?”
She laughed again. “I see I’m going to have to teach you Aussie speak. Give me a chance to have a quick shower and change and I’ll cook you a thank you meal.”
“Sounds good. I’ll open the wine.” Suiting action to words, Arne poured a glass for himself and one for Amelie and then carried them out onto the veranda.
He leaned against the upright, contemplating the twists of fate that had crossed his path with that of the woman inside. Three months she’d said. Who knew what could develop in three months? If he hadn’t set out to check on his furthermost weather station yesterday instead of today, he wouldn’t have run into her when she needed assistance. And now he’d found a golden opportunity to see her regularly over the next few days.
She turned to look up at him, elbows resting on the railing. “What do you do, Arne?”
“Dive, swim, look at fish.”
“Umm, that sounds idyllic.” Her brow creased into a tiny puzzled frown.
“It is. And that’s just my work…I’m a marine biologist.” He grinned as the joke registered and her beautiful smile reappeared. That was a smile to keep a man coming home every day.
“What can I do to help?”
She spun around. “You can cook?”
“Should I be insulted by that remark? I’m not helpless in the kitchen.” He grinned.
“Sorry. Not many men I know can, that’s all. Actually, I can’t imagine you helpless at anything.”
She’s wrong. I’m helpless right now with wanting to kiss her but it’s too soon.
He cleared his throat. “Would you like another glass of wine? You know the saying--one for the food and one for the chef.”
She handed her glass to him and her fingers brushed his. Sparks like electricity raced up his arm. Her wide-eyed gaze met his. A strident buzzing from the stove timer announced dinner was cooked. Amelie blinked several times.
“I better get that before it burns.” She turned slowly away.
She felt it too.
Buy links: http://www.amazon.com/White-Ginger-ebook/dp/B00AVLEK0O
Susanne lives in beautiful Queensland, Australia with her own hero who saved her life then married her. Given her reality, her fictional heroes have a lot to live up to in the action man stakes! Her children, a pigeon pair, are the light of her life, along with two dogs, one devoted and one ditzy, who are her door bell. She lives on the edge of beautiful bush land, visited by families of wallabies, kookaburras and wild birds.
A few of her favourite things—sunsets, family, Friday drinks and coffees with friends, big Broadway musicals, a wide range of music but especially Il Divo. And travelling just about anywhere. Susanne loves experiencing new people, places and cultures. Whether trekking in Nepal and Vietnam, or admiring the Mona Lisa in Paris or David in Florence, she loves discovering the history and adventure of new places.
Relationships, the resilience of the human spirit, and the interconnectedness of our lives fascinate her, and she values a strong social conscience. Every day she looks for something beautiful to nourish and inspire her. One day, she plans to give up her day job and just write. Oh, and travel to another new place of course!
Annie loves sharing her writing chair with special guests! If you'd like a turn...please email her! firstname.lastname@example.org