Today I have another Astraea Press author as my guest. Jennifer Rae Gravely was here last September, sharing her volleyball romance Set to Love. If you missed it, you can read about it HERE. Jennifer's volleyball team at Pickens High school in South Carolina recently won the state title – just after Set to Love was released! So now it's back to the classroom for Jennifer. I'm in awe of people who teach high schoolers – the only time I tried it was when I student taught, and I just couldn't feel comfortable teaching almost-adults who stood more than a head taller than me!
Anyway, Jennifer is here to tell you about her earlier Astraea Press release called Knight of the Dead. Take it away, Jennifer!
Born in Ohio but raised in Pickens, SC, I graduated from Converse College with a triple major in history, politics, and English before earning a master’s degree in education. Returning to my high school alma mater to teach English and coach volleyball, my teams won five state championships and seven upper state titles in eleven years. Both my Astraea Press novels feature the fictional Southern town of Keowee. I live with my husband, daughter, seven beagles, and one rescued barn cat.
The Christmas break ended and I had to return to school this week. While I had hoped for a snow day (unlikely here in South Carolina), I’m thankful that I get to teach subjects I love. My first novel Knight of the Dead evolved from the story of Hades kidnapping Persephone (hence the reason for the cold season) and this particular scene was inspired by my love of romantic poetry. It’s probably my favorite passage in the entire book! I hope y’all enjoy. We all need a little love in the dead of winter.
Persephone Richards is in a pinch. With a wrecked car and bills stacking up, the income from her job at the daycare isn’t enough. Mark Lawrence needs a sitter for his little girl and Persephone is perfect for the job. What begins as an employment opportunity leads to romance. However, a secret Persephone hides threatens the happy ever after and puts the three of them in danger.
Excerpt From Chapter Twenty…
After putting Rose to bed, Mark led Persephone to the porch swing on the back deck. Poetry raced through his mind at the perfection of the moment. They sat close, staring at the diamonds in the cloudless night sky with silence a friend. The voice of the English poet William Wordsworth as he gazed at nature’s beauty mimicked the peace in Mark’s soul with Persephone beside him. The Japanese red maple tree stretched dark shadows across the corner near the stairs, to “connect the landscape with the quiet of the sky.” Every night like this made sense, but the words to make it so still stuck in his throat.
When she touched his knee, a bolt of energy jolted him into action. He leaned in and kissed her. Electricity sizzled in the air.
“Say something sweet to me,” she whispered, pulling back slightly. She wore a thin, cream-colored sweater and black corduroys. The moonlight made her creamy complexion glow and her hair flame.
“Ice cream, cake, chocolate, cookies, gummy bears...” He grinned in anticipation of her smile at his clever word play.
She giggled, her voice like a song. “Not what I had in mind.”
“I’ll try again.” Mark inhaled her beauty. “Was your daddy a thief?” She shrugged, leaning away from him. “Because he stole the stars from the sky and put them in your eyes.”
Persephone didn’t laugh, and her body tensed. Mark ran his hand through his hair. “Most girls fall for that one.” He searched her eyes for the answer to her sudden coldness. “But you’re not like most girls, are you?”
As she slowly shook her head, her hair brushed her shoulders. “I changed my mind.” She put her finger over her lips. “No more talking.”
Pulling her hand away, he brought it to his mouth. She shivered as his lips traced her arm, her shoulder, her neck.
He murmured, “’A sense sublime of something far more deeply interfused, whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, And the round ocean, and the living air, And the blue sky, and in the mind of man.’” His lips brushed hers.
“Oh, my!” She sighed. “That’s what I wanted.”
He slid his arms around the small of her back, pressing her shaking body against his. “Anything, and it’s yours.”
“More of these, please.” She pressed her lips against his. Her kisses haunted him like a passion.
The night was perfect.
Knight of the Dead is available at Astraea Press, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other ebook distributors.