Write what you know, they tell me. And you can find pieces of me in all of my books. My marriage proposal? See UPON A MIDNIGHT CLEAR. That bike jump over the creek my brother did when I was eight? HOMETOWN HEARTACHE, coming next year. And every one of Heath’s ex-girlfriend’s in BETWEEN ROCK AND A HARD PLACE is my bestfriend, Kelly. She also has a prominent role in a few of my other books. So what parts of me pop up in my newest release, DAMAGE DONE? My trip to Ireland, of course!
In 2003 I was lucky enough to go to Ireland with my big sister, my mom, and her friend, Joanne. We flew into Shannon airport and headed straight to our bed & breakfast. We were exhausted from the flight as even I—who can usually nap anywhere, anytime—was unable to sleep on the plane. The b&b’s owner, who was cutting her husband’s hair in the kitchen when we arrived, shooed us off, warning us that jet lag would “be the death of us” if we so much as closed our eyes. So we were off to Bunratty Castle and Durty Nelley’s, a pub. We had a traditional Irish dinner at the castle and were entertained by Irish dancers. The next day we did the obligatory visit to Blarney Castle and kissed the great stone. (Which is a terrifying experience, for those who haven’t done it. You lie down and bend backward, scootching until your rump is off the castle stone, hanging out in thin air, with no one holding your legs, stories up. I still can’t believe I did it!)
From there we headed to what was to become our home base of sorts, our cottage on the Old Head of Kinsale, where a great deal of the action takes place in DAMAGE DONE. There is a grotto there, as described in the book, and a church and store. Hurley’s which soon became “our pub,” is what Tad McGregor’s pub in the book is based on, although Tad’s place is different in a number of ways. Our hero Michael and heroine Tess run off to Cork together, one of the next stops on our 2003 trip. I used what I could from my memories, and did some research for the rest. Some of the characters’ names are from my own family tree.
Here are some photos from our trip…
Beautiful windows in Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle
Our pub, Hurley’s
Tower near Blarney Castle
Much of the story is from my own twisted imagination, though. 🙂 I’ve never seen a lighthouse home such as Teddy and Gabby share, and don’t know where that came from. I’ve never made a sand octopus or stolen groceries from the back of a pickup truck. I’ve never even taken a bike ride like Sean and Gabby do, but I’d like to think I captured a taste of what it would be like. From where I stand, a little mishmash of fact and fiction makes for a good story. So here’s a blurb and excerpt from DAMAGE DONE. I hope you enjoy it!
When an unhappy youth leaves him damaged, will Teddy Mckee be able to find love?
“Teddy Passmore McKee was born in Cork, Ireland, with a limp and a chip on his shoulder that threw his balance off all the more.” When he falls in love with the dark haired beauty born of an Irish father and a Spanish mother, will Gabrielle Quinn be able to restore his balance? And what about the charming Sean Hennessey? When Gabby catches his eye, too, will Teddy’s playboy best friend cause his own damage?
Fourteen years later, will Teddy and Gabrielle’s son be able to overcome the damage done to him in his childhood?
“Even through bloodshot eyes he could see she was different.” But can Michael leave behind the bottle, and his womanizing ways, to win over the lovely Tess Flanagan? Tess has sustained some damage of her own. Can she and Michael overcome the terrors of the past and learn how to love each other?
And if they do, will they be able to elude those after them who want to create their own damage?
On the run after an altercation leaves their boss in a pool of blood, will Michael and Tess be able to stay one step ahead of their pursuers? Or is it simply too late to correct the damage that has been done?
“Tessie…” He offered again. “We have to get out of here.”
She remained frozen in her spot, staring blindly over the cliff. He moved a step closer and gently grasped her elbow. “Tess—”
She whirled around and his heart caught in his chest as he stared into her wild green eyes. Tears shone on her damp cheeks, glimmering in the moonlight like trails of scattered diamonds. “Nay, Michael,” she said, her words coming out choked. “I have to tell them the truth. It’s my fault. …I k-killed him.” She sobbed.
He looked at her sadly, begging her, “Let me help you.”
The back door creaked open and light spilled out from the bar across the grass, startling them. He saw Jimmy Flynn’s outline in the doorway. “They’re out here!” he yelled.
Without waiting for a response, Michael took Tess’s arm and steered her along the cliff’s edge. He stepped over the railing and helped her to the other side as well. They stood on a narrow ledge. To the left a trail dropped off toward the sea. He led her skittering down the path, loose rock pebbling the beach far below. He had taken the pathway many a night when he was drunk and feeling particularly reckless. Tonight he hurried over it with only self-preservation and Tess’s safety in mind.
They heard voices above them, coming from every direction as searchers fanned out along the top of the cliff. Their eyes met. They hardly dared to breathe. A flashlight beam ventured over the railing and along the cliff face. She clutched his hand, squeezing it until he lost feeling in his fingers. He tried to flatten himself even more tightly against the rock face, wishing it would somehow melt and absorb them. Several seconds passed and the beam of light was joined by another, and another, each swinging away, and then toward them again.
He grabbed a quick look at the churning sea below then closed his eyes for a second, and his stomach dropped. He took a deep breath before turning his head to look at Tess. Her eyes were closed and her lips were moving fervently, but she emitted no sound. He swallowed, wondering again why the sight of her affected him so. After several minutes a voice called out, “You won’t get away with this, Mikey.” Had someone seen them? He heard Jimmy Flynn mutter, “Wherever they are, we won’t find them tonight.” One by one the lights disappeared until only a solitary beam shone.
Author Bio ~
MJ is a lunch lady in the heart of Central Illinois. My gosh! Can you get more folksy than that? She met her husband at the University of Missouri-Columbia and now she has a nineteen-year-old (how did that happen?) and seventeen year old triplets! She loves to read, karaoke (where she can pretend she is a rock star) and spends WAY too much time on Facebook. She grew up in St. Louis and still has family there.
You can find M.J. at:
You can find DAMAGE DONE at:
And for a limited time ~ you can get THE HEART TEACHES BEST, the first book I put out in the REAL ROMANCE COLLECTION, for free! Download your copy here:
You can buy THE HEART TEACHES BEST at: