I’ve been writing fiction since I was a young girl, but only in the last 10 years have I discovered my calling for romance. Nothing gets my heart pumping like a good love story with absorbing emotion, plenty of passion, and an old-fashioned happy ending.
Set mainly in Canada, my contemporary romance novels explore the extraordinary thrill of finding that special someone and falling head over heels in love. I live in Ottawa, Ontario, with my husband and three daughters.
Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? My husband always has. On a recent trip to Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, he insisted we have dinner at an inn that is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a British soldier who was killed there during the War of 1812. The story intrigued me, and I knew I had to borrow it for my next novel. During the same trip we toured several wineries, which I also wanted to incorporate into the story. The result was Wine & Roses.
The heroine is Abby Wells, a 42-year-old widow who has poured her heart into the restoration of The Roses Inn, a historic establishment that is reputedly haunted. In walks Jason Brinleigh, a gorgeous winery owner nine years Abby’s junior, intent on buying the place from her. The transaction falls by the wayside as Abby and Jason fall for each other.
The ghost in this story is Rebecca Norris, the innkeeper’s daughter who died in 1812 during childbirth, just after her husband was killed in battle. Though Rebecca plays only a small role, it’s an important one. Both Abby and Jason have been hurt by past loves, and Rebecca, being a romantic soul, does what she can to nudge the couple together so they can have the love and family she was denied.
To find out more, please visit my website at http://www.susanrhughes.weebly.com.
Taking her hand, Jason led to her to the dance floor and drew her close to him. Her slender body fit neatly against his, reminding him of the last time he had held her, half-naked in his swimming pool. Though this was quite a different situation, as his hand settled on the smooth fabric at the back of her dress, and her hand came to rest warmly on his shoulder, he found himself wishing everyone else in the room would simply disappear.
Abby tilted her face up to him, her amber eyes glimmering. “I’ve been meaning to tell you, we’ve already had a report of ghostly activity at the inn. An overnight guest said she heard weeping in her room, and later the sound of footsteps in the hall when no one was there.”
Jason quirked an eyebrow. “What do you make of that?”
“I chalk it up to an active imagination, but in any case it’s good for business. People can’t get enough of a good haunting. But the funny thing is, Rebecca’s portrait keeps falling off the wall.”
“On its own?” He remembered she had hung it in the upstairs hallway, in a carefully chosen spot between two of the guest rooms.
Abby nodded. “I can’t figure out why. There’s nothing wrong with the hook. But the manager keeps finding it on the floor in the morning.”
“Perhaps Rebecca doesn’t think it’s a good likeness,” Jason suggested, a teasing smile playing on his lips.
Abby replied with an appealing wrinkle of her nose. “Stop it. You don’t believe in ghosts, do you?”
“I like to keep an open mind,” he said, though he wondered whether staff at the inn might be playing a joke on the guests, and Abby as well.
“She is your ancestor. Perhaps you should spend the night there and see if you can feel her presence.”
“Perhaps you’d like to join me,” he added, his tone still light, though the words stirred up images from his imagination that were far from innocent.
“I think I will spend the night there sometime, to see for myself. In my own room, of course,” she added, her evocative smile sending a warm quiver down his spine.
“Naturally. I’d never suggest anything untoward.” His hand drifted up to smooth back several wisps of hair that had fallen loose to float about her ear. Lingering for a moment, in an impulsive gesture his fingertips lightly skimmed the curve of her cheek. At once he saw her colour deepen, and felt her arm grip his shoulder a little tighter.
“I didn’t expect so, being the gentleman that you are,” Abby said, her tone low and tinged with anticipation.
Cradling her hand against his chest, Jason could feel his heart pounding fast and heavy, and wondered if she could feel its beat through his shirt and jacket. He was beginning to feel too warm, his tie too tight around his neck. His gaze lingered on her delicate, full mouth, painted an enticing deep mauve, the lips slightly parted.
“And you being a proper lady,” he murmured, bending closer to breathe in her scent in a long, heady breath; as he did his lips grazed her cheek.
He felt her shiver, and then she turned her face to brush her mouth over his. Needing no further encouragement, he gathered her closer, his lips claiming hers is a soft, slow kiss. As her eyes fell closed, she let her head tilt back, allowing him to explore the soft sweetness of her lips at his leisure.
Please leave a comment for Susan for a chance to win an electronic copy of her book.