To kick off December, we have a rare treat for you. Jean Hackensmith and Kathe Birch have recently released the fourth and final book in the Passage Saga (Port Town Publishing). The Book Connection is helping them celebrate by featuring a synopsis of each book in this time travel romance saga and some personal reflections by Jean.
Kristie Somers is happy in her life. She has a promising career ahead of her, grandparents who love her--and no time for a man. Or so she thought, until she was dropped in the year 1864 at the close of the Civil War.
The handsome Colonel Eric Langston was a man to be hated. Her grandparents told her so. Her family has despised him for generations. He commanded the Union regiment that invaded her ancestral home; he was responsible for Whispering Willows being burned to the ground. Why then, does her heart pound every time he enters a room? Why do his fiery kisses stir her like no man ever has before? And how can she just overlook the fact that she knows he is destined to die an alcoholic?
Charmed Passage is the first book in the "Passage Trilogy," which follows the life of an ancient amulet whose awesome powers include the ability to transcend even time itself. The reluctant Kristie Somers is the charm's first "rightful owner," but she will not be the last...
Author's reflections: Kathe and I began writing “Charmed Passage” back in 1986. Our first attempt at collaboration, it was a long process. It was also a very rewarding one. Until that point, I had been writing on my own, but having a “partner” to bounce ideas off of and to take on the brunt of the research was invaluable. Writing “Charmed Passage” was a labor of love. Time travel romance was in its infancy, so at the time, we were writing something unique. “Charmed” wasn’t meant to be the first in a trilogy, however. It was supposed to be a story in itself--a story about Kristie Somers, a modern day medical student, who ended up finding a pretty piece of jewelry in her grandparents’ attic--in truth, an amulet that could induce time travel. This amulet would then take her back to the time of the Civil War, where she would meet and fall in love with Eric Langston, a man her ancestors hated--a man who was destined to die of alcoholism. The last few paragraphs of “Charmed,” though, kind of wrote themselves and, lo and behold, it literally screamed for a sequel. Consequently, the idea for “Destined Passage” was born.
Brittany Cavanaugh, an oceanographer from the year 2001 and the second "rightful owner" of a mysterious Haitian amulet, travels through time; first to the doomed ocean liner, Titanic, and then to the post Civil War era, where she is mistaken for the leader of an elusive White Slavery Ring.
She meets the infamous Jacques Devereaux, a dashing and extremely sexy Civil War blockade runner turned White Slaver, but her heart is torn when she must choose between the pirate and Clay Gentry, a refined southern gentleman who is in the midst of a desperate search for his missing twin sisters -- and the President's daughter.
Author's reflections: When Kathe and I first began plotting “Destined Passage,” we knew that we needed a whole different story and a totally different type of hero and heroine. Since we wanted the new characters to eventually meet up with the old ones, though, we knew the time periods had to be virtually the same. Therefore, it was decided to put “Destined” in the post Civil War era…and to make white slavery the main plot. “Brittany Cavanaugh,” the heroine, they knew, had to make the spunky Kristie Somers from “Charmed” look like a baby in comparison. Likewise, the hero had to be a notch up from Eric Langston. Well, Jacques Devereaux ended up being a foot or two above Eric in character. He was a pirate, in every sense of the word…and he captained a white slavery ship that transported kidnapped women to a slave island off the coast of Florida. Add Clay Gentry, a southern gentleman, to the mix and that left poor Brittany torn--and more than a little miffed--when she ended up sleeping with both men…men she thought were the same person. This story was just plain fun to write. We knew that each successive story in the trilogy had be better than the last (and, yes, by this time we had decided on a trilogy) and the characters in “Destined Passage” made it easy. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the reader saw Eric and Kristie again by the end of the book.”
Ian Buchanan was separated from his fiancée, Brittany Cavanaugh, in the icy waters of the North Atlantic when the infamous ocean liner, Titanic, sank. Where she is, he has no idea, but the ancient Haitian amulet that transported the couple from the twentieth century has now chosen to drop him in the year 1692--at the time of the Salem Witch Hunts.
Ian meets young, innocent Ariana; a woman who, despite the fact that she is only sixteen years old, stirs Ian's blood. Even more disturbing to the twentieth century man--she is a self-proclaimed witch, who wears the same amulet that he last saw around his beloved Brittany's neck.
When the fanatical Puritans decide to hang Ian and Ariana as witches, too, the young woman screams a frantic plea to Aveena, the "mother of all high priestesses in Haiti." The couple is then transported through time again, to Fort Sumter at the beginning of the Civil War.
The transport begins a tempestuous journey that spans ten years, leaving Ian to feel a sense of obligation to Ariana and her unborn child. Ian looks after them, supports them, and grows to care more than his conscience will allow. Finally, following a single night of unforgettable passion, Ariana admits her love. Ian though, admits to only an overwhelming lust that leaves him with a self-loathing he can no longer abide.
Can Ian forget his committment to Brittany? Will he ever see her again? Will fate determine their destinies once again and join the two time-travelers in the end? Or will they be forever left to find their own way and alienate even those who love them most?
“Doomed Passage” brings the story of the amulet full circle and, by the end, all of the "previous owners" will strive to drive the evil from a powerful talisman that, to this point, has worked only for the good.
Author's reflections: In all honesty, this book is a little “off the wall.” It deals with witchcraft and demon possession…but, again, it had to be a step “up” from “Destined.” The amulet also turns evil in “Doomed” (hence, the title) which added yet another twist to the plot. Add to that innocent little Ariana--only sixteen years old when she meets thirty-two year old Ian. She’s a witch. No, not a crabby heroine, but a bonafide, caldron-stirring witch. In fact, Ian met her in the year 1692 at the time of the Salem Witch Hunts. This book was one of the most fun to write. Ariana’s “talent” wasn’t quite perfected yet, so making her screw up periodically (at one point she set Ian’s shoes on fire) was enjoyable all in itself. And Ian wasn’t always the nicest guy--he just came out that way. Our characters always kind of invent themselves and, admittedly, there were a lot of readers who did not like Ian. Oh well, he’s probably more human than most heroes. But he does the right thing in the end. And the end is what it was supposed to be. The “Passage” saga was finished. We had moved on to “The Gitche Gumee Saga.” That’s when the letters and emails started. The readers wanted more…and “The Ultimate Passage” was born.
THE ULTIMATE PASSAGE
Darius Calhoun is President of the U.S.--in the year 2320. Citizens of earth now live in domed cities, because pollution has reached the point where the air is no longer fit to breathe. They no longer feel hatred, jealousy, envy or love. They don’t have sex either, and haven’t for nearly two hundred years. Why? Because it’s messy, unsanitary and can transmit disease. Imagine Darius’ horror then, when he suddenly finds himself displaced in time at the whim of the goddess Aveena--goddess of love.
His trek to 14th century Scotland is every man’s nightmare. He is forced to live in a cold, drafty castle, wear a kilt, and use the ghastly “privy” when it comes time to take care of nature’s call. Worst of all, he is expected to be an “advisor” to Robert the Bruce, the self-proclaimed King of Scotland. How is he to counsel the king on tactics of war when, where he came from, that barbaric institution, too, had been extinct for over two hundred years?
Only one thing in this godforsaken time period enables Darius to keep his sanity. Her name is Lara Macgregor. Her father is lord of the castle and its surrounding lands. Lara is beautiful, spunky--and looking for a mate. Of course, in this day and age, that means having sex and Darius wants no part of it. He feels nothing for Lara but friendship…at least he didn’t at first. Now though, strange things are happening to his mind and body and, with the war for independence in Scotland gaining momentum, so does Darius’ resolve that at some point in time, government leaders in his own world did something terribly wrong.
Author's reflections: Hmmm…where do we begin. I'm talking about writing both the book and this little blurb. In short, “The Ultimate Passage” was never supposed to be written. The amulet went back to the goddess Aveena in the end of “Doomed,” so where do we go from here?
Kathe and I spent countless hours hashing over ideas for this book…ideas that would allow us to override that little problem at the end of “Doomed.” It took a while--a long while, in fact--but we came up with what we think was an “ultimate” idea; again, hence the name of the book. I had played with the idea for a number of years of yanking a guy out of the future: a future where people live in domed cities, where war and disease are no more--and where sex had been outlawed because it’s messy, unsanitary and can spread sexually transmitted disease. Put this guy in the past then, where people are still very sexually active, and have him fall in love, and man have you got a love story! Of course, they still had to deal with that little problem of the amulet going back to Aveena at the end of “Doomed.” So, what could we do? Ah ha! Send this guy back to a time just after the amulet was created, before all the other stories in the saga took place. Hence, the location of “The Ultimate Passage”--14th century Scotland. Then, of course, to be consistent with the other books in the saga, they had to bring in all the heroes and heroines from the other books. So, how do you avoid telling the same old stories over again? Ah-ha! You pull each of those characters from different time periods--before they met each other. Or, in a couple of cases, where one character knows the other, but the other is clueless. Talk about romantic tension! Trust us, “The Ultimate Passage” has that and more.
A note to the reader: The “Passage” Saga books are long. So long, in fact, that all the books except for “Charmed” come in two-book sets. (For the simple reason that the small publisher who produces the books has a binder that will glue a maximum of only 250 double-sided pages.) So, be prepared for an extended and exiting journey that you will never forget.
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