Monday, February 17, 2014

Review: Londonderry Dreaming by Christine Lindsay...and Interview...and Giveaway

This series is called "Passport to Romance." Wow, is that ever apt! In Londonderry Dreaming, two young people with roots in Northern Ireland return home, not expecting to find each other there.

Keith Wilson, a musical therapist in the USA, has returned to Londonderry for his beloved Gran's funeral. She'd asked for him to be the one to close up her house, an almost overwhelming task because of all the memories.

Keith doesn't expect the most poignant memory to be the woman at the door—Naomi Boyd, an acclaimed New York artist he'd loved a few years ago. She'd broken up with him at the insistence of her grandfather, now recently deceased. She had received a letter from Keith's grandmother offering a gift, but Naomi didn't know the older woman had meanwhile passed on.

Londonderry had been the setting for Naomi and Keith's earlier romance. As they seek the gift reserved for Naomi, they come across a painting of Gran as a radiant young woman. Naomi immediately recognizes the artist's style as that of her grandfather, but why was Gran's face so full of love for a man she didn't marry? Is this the gift she meant Naomi to have?

Keith and Naomi seek answers to questions buried in the World War II era but can't escape the inevitable contemporary repercussions. Will what they find drive them apart for good, or can they leave the past behind and find a new future…together?

I'm a sucker for a good contemporary romance story. Christine Lindsay, author of the Twilight of the British Raj series set in historical India, proves she can modernize her setting and story line while giving a firm nod to the historical framework of both.

I loved the wintry Irish setting with its quaint dialect, the cold gray Irish Sea, the Giant's Causeway, and St. Augustine's Church. More than that, I loved the characters: Naomi, as the ground shifts beneath her feet; Keith, as he longs to be reunited with her; Keith's cousins Garrick and Sandra, typical 20-somethings with an Irish flair; and even Ginny McGowan, the owner of the B&B Naomi stays at in Derry, with her rich brogue and star-struck ways.

Thankfully you don't need an actual passport to enjoy this virtual getaway to romantic Northern Ireland. Pick up a digital copy of Londonderry Dreaming and let the story take you away.

Christine Lindsay loves to write Christian novels with strong love stories and equally strong family life themes such as her multi-award-winning debut novel, Shadowed in Silk, which is set in India during a turbulent era. Christine's long-time fascination with the British Raj was seeded from stories of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India.

Adding to Christine's Irish pride is the fact that her great-grandfather and her grandfather both worked as riveters in the Belfast shipyard and one of the ships they built was the Titanic.

The Pacific coast of Canada is Christine's home, and like a lot of writers, her cat is her chief editor.

VC: Hi Christine! Thanks for the opportunity to read Londonderry Dreaming before its release. That's coming up really soon, February 21. Congrats!

This is your first contemporary romance. In what ways did you find writing it different than your usual fare of historical set in India?

CL: The biggest difference was that Londonderry Dreaming is a contemporary romance, featuring characters from the US. So their mindset is very American, whereas my series Twilight of the British Raj has British and Indian characters. So it was odd for me to have my characters speak in the kind of dialect I use every day. It felt a bit odd, as if I wasn't really writing. Apparently I've grown a certain creative bent to write in authentic dialect. It's like painting with special paint.

But the similarities in writing this novella are that the reader is taken out of the US to an international setting. This time N. Ireland. Not as exotic as India, but with so many fascinating cultural aspects, and of course the breathtaking beauty of the setting---the rugged, northern coastline of Ireland...the pastoral green fields dotted with sheep.

VC: Your historical novels are full length. Was fitting a complete romantic tale into novella length a challenge for you?

CL: Yes, that was a challenge. I'm used to writing several plots with a larger cast of characters, as well as a romantic theme within the larger historicals. While writing Londonderry Dreaming I had to remind myself constantly to stick to the romantic plot alone, and not bring in murder and mayhem like in my other stories. Londonderry Dreaming has a certain amount of mystery, but it is strictly an inspirational romance.

VC: You were born in Northern Ireland. How familiar are you with Londonderry? Did you have to do a lot of setting research or was it more a matter of remembering?

CL: That's what excited me so much when I saw the submission call for the "Passport to Romance" series---especially when I saw that they wanted a story set in Londonderry. Belfast, where I was born, is only 70 miles away from Londonderry. I have been there and to the surrounding area to visit relatives. In fact, I dedicated this novel to my Aunt Maggie who is now with the Lord, because much of the scenes in the Bed and Breakfast in the book are inspired by my aunt's farm and beautiful farmhouse.

Most of the setting is from memory, but of course I had to check things. It was an honor to communicate over email with the Vicar of St. Augustines Church in Londonderry. Not only did I receive the vicar's permission to use the ancient church in my novel, but a blessing as well.

VC: How about the Irish brogue? I loved the bits of it found throughout the story.

CL: Many of the humorous bits in the book from the 'Irish cousins' are what my cousins have said in conversations with me. And to a lesser extent, this is the way I speak when I spend time with my relatives. There is also a certain rhythm to the Irish accent which I have naturally. I was born in Ireland, and was raised in Canada, but all my extended family is Irish---so I know how they talk and think. I know their blarney...oh my do I know their blarney.

VC: Your story features two sets of jilted lovers. How purposeful was the reflection across the generations?

CL: The story of the jilted lovers was very purposefully laid in this book. The relationship between Naomi and Keith's grandparents is a mirror for their own current-day circumstances. I love how romance plays out in real life over the generations. Our grandparents and parents fell in love just like we do, and our children and grandchildren fall in love the same as us. God created romance to keep the world going. I love seeing how those older romances can affect today's. There's nothing more romantic than hearing stories of how your great granny and granda got together.

VC: So true! Thanks for answering my questions today, Christine! I wish you all the best with this new contemporary romance story, Londonderry Dreaming. Congrats again on its release.

Londonderry Dreaming will be available on Friday in Kindle and Nook, or directly from Pelican Books. Christine has offered ONE commenter on today's post a free digital copy of her novella. Please add your email address with your comment before Monday, February 24, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance and farm lit. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters. Visit her website and blog to glimpse inside her world.

The second novel in Valerie's Farm Fresh Romance series, Wild Mint Tea, releases March 1,2014.


  1. Thank you Valerie for such a lovely review of Londonderry Dreaming. I believe this Passport to Romance line will be an exciting one, especially since a number of our members from International Christian Fiction Writers are writing these books.

  2. Thank you Valerie and Christine for this post. I am especially interested as I have been following Marion's book as it's developed.

    1. Oops! And oh yes. I'd LOVE a free copy of this book.

  3. yes, I can't wait to read Marion's book as well.

  4. Oh! I love Irish stories. Just put this one on my TBR list.
    avaldal at shaw (dot) ca.

  5. Christine and Val, thanks for an interesting post. I am really looking forward to reading this book, and will be on Pelican Book Group's website come Friday to purchase a copy at their launch day special.

    I love things Irish, and in fact am currently in the middle of a novelette set in Belfast and have a historical Irish novel on the backburner (hope I'll get that one finished one day - I really was enjoying writing it!)

    Even though I'm buying my own copy of Londonderry Dreaming, I'd love the opportunity to win a copy which I'll give away to family or a friend.

    Just a reminder to all to pop on over to this link and see the promo video for the Passport to Romance series.

  6. Wow, I like the sound of this new line. All the international settings are what we're all about here! I chuckled at Christine saying how well she knew the Irish blarney. To her it's usual but to us along with the Irish lilt is really charming.
    From the review, sure and begorrah, it sounds like a fascinating read.
    ritagal at optusnet dot com dot au

  7. Oh Marion, did you know I was born in Belfast. That's my hometown.

    1. It's a beautiful city. We went there in 2002, although I was scared as anything to go there (and I should have known better as I too come from a country fraught with bad media, and not being nearly as bad to live in as the media makes it out to be). Nevertheless, I asked an Irish friend of mine who comes from Ballynahinch where I shouldn't go with my Dublin numberplates. She told me just not to go up the Shankill Road. Guess where we landed up by accident ...
      I am currently writing a 25K word novelette for PBG Easter Lillies submission set in Belfast. If ever you get a chance once I've finished it (submission only August), it would be really great if you were able to read it just for a check on Irish authenticity :) I have just loved writing this story...there's just something magical about all things Irish.
      Bought a copy of Londonderry Dreaming today and am looking forward to reading it as soon as I get a chance.

  8. Congrats on the new book, Christine! I love the idea behind this new series as well. Looking forward to reading this.

  9. This looks wonderful, Christine! And in time for St. Patrick's day. I had a wonderful visit to Londonderry years ago--walked all around the walls.

  10. Christine, congratulations on your upcoming novella release! I love your historical romances and I'm looking forward to reading your contemporary romance :) Valerie, thanks for your review. Great post, ladies!

  11. I know what you mean, Donna. Walking around those ancient walls really inspired me.

  12. Christine, I hadn't thought about how difficult it might be to write characters speaking in a different time and accent. The paint analogy intrigues me.

    Please add me to the draw ... I've always wanted to visit Ireland, and knowing how well you evoke your India settings (where I also have not bee) I think Londonderry Dreaming will be a virtual visit. janet dot sketchley at gmail dot com