Good morning folks! I hope you're doing well because I have a debut romance author on the blog today! Andrea K. Stein has lived quite a life before writing her first book, Fortune's Horizon. So please make her feel welcome in the world of romance and be sure to check out her debut novel!
Daddy was a trucker, Momma was an artist, and I'm a scribbler. The stories just spilled out—the pony escaped, the window magically shattered. Not my fault.
Twenty years as a journalist couldn't stifle the yarns. Yacht delivery up and down the Caribbean only increased the flow. Now those tales celebrate romance on the high seas.
I am a professional captain living in the Rocky Mountains, just about 15 minutes from the Continental Divide. I spent the last 12 summers teaching sailing on awesome Lake Dillon at 9,017 feet in Summit County, Colorado. I also captained tours for my business, Sails in the Sunset.
Adria: Hi Andrea! Welcome to the blog, I hope the weather is better where you’re from than it is here. At any given time, El Paso goes through all four seasons in one week. It makes for some very interesting clothing choices.
Adria: Fortune’s Horizon is your debut novel, congratulations! How does it feel to see so much hard work pay off in such a great way?
Andrea: Surprising, but the final decision to let go and publish my novels gives me a great feeling of liberation. I’m gratified at the early feedback from beta readers, and after so many years of hearing editors tell me they love my writing, but just can’t sell historical romance, it’s exciting to see that I can.
Adria: What was your first thought when you found out Fortune’s Horizon was going to be published? Who did you tell first?
Andrea: That’s an interesting question. I thought everyone would try to dissuade me, but all my family and friends have been very supportive of my decision.
Adria: What inspired you to write Fortune’s Horizon?
Andrea: My heroine, Lillie Coulbourne, is based on a real person, beloved San Francisco eccentric Lillie Hitchcock Coit. She is one of the strong, fascinating women down through history who deserve to have their stories told and who inspire me. I became interested in the details of her life one night many years ago when I spent an evening touring Coit Tower overlooking San Francisco Bay.
Inspiration for the setting came from my experiences delivering yachts out of Charleston Harbor up and down the Caribbean. Many nights I spent docked near the spot where Civil War blockade-runners loaded cotton for the run back out.
Blockade-runner Captain Jack Roberts was a real person. He was actually the third son of the sixth Earl of Hampton and was on leave at half pay from the Royal Navy during the Civil War.
Although study of Lillie’s correspondence archived at Mills College in Oakland, California, revealed she ran the blockade at some point during the war, there is no evidence the two ever actually crossed paths. However, it was a lot of fun to create an adventure for two characters based on their real lives.
Adria: Can you describe your romance writing style in five words or less? Is it sweet? Sassy? Something else entirely?
Andrea: I’m afraid I’m guilty of “something else entirely.” There are steamy scenes in Fortune’s Horizon, some “R” rated.
But five words or less? That’s tough.How about high seas adventure plus emotional and actual journeys?
Adria: Any behind the scenes/interesting facts about Fortune’s Horizon you’d like to share?
Andrea: Blockade running is a little known aspect of the Civil War. Syndicates bankrolled a number of the ships.They were commissioned with the latest steam technology of the times. Some were built along the River Clyde in Scotland.
Each successful run into a Southern port could net a syndicate $1 million in 1800s money. That would be in excess of $40 million in today’s currency.
To do justice to my high seas tales, I turned to cover designer Kim Killion. I wanted to use “working heroes” on my covers, and she delivered with a bang. I had a professional photographer take close-ups of some ski patrollers I’ve worked with over the years, and she used them to work magic on my covers. These guys are not professional models and were not sure they wanted to expose themselves to good-natured ribbing from co-workers. To soften the blow, I am donating two percent of sales to each of their favorite charities benefiting high country rescue professionals.
Adria: What are you currently working on now?
Andrea: Final edits and cover design for “Secret Harbor,” the second full-length novel in the series set for release May 10.In 1759, a French Caribbean widow risks everything to save a smuggler’s crew from a mysterious disease. Also working on a novella sequels to both “Fortune’s Horizon” and “Secret Harbor” set for release Aug. 10 and Nov. 10 this year.
Adria: According to your bio, you spent twenty years as a journalist, what was one thing you experienced as a journalist that you’ll never forget?
Andrea: Exclusive interview with Mother Teresa.
Adria: Was it difficult to transition into writing fiction?
Andrea: Fiction is the hardest art I’ve ever had to master. Journalism was the battlefield where I learned to sit down and WRITE.
Adria: What are some of your favorite romance novels? I’m totally looking to add to my reading list with this question.
Andrea: Joanna Bourne – all of her Napoleonic era Spymaster Series
Jo Beverly – all of her Georgian romances, especially “A Lady’s Secret”
Ella Quinn – her era-perfect Regencies –all of The Marriage Game Series
Latest obsession – Susanna Kearsley’s RITA award winning “The Firebird.” Also really enjoyed“The Shadowy Horses.” I love to get sucked in to a book I can’t put down, and hers fit the bill.
Adria: If you had to pitch your novel, Fortune’s Horizon to a group of new readers in under 30 seconds, what would you say to them?
Andrea: A spoiled American heiress tangles with an arrogant British sea captain on a mission for the Confederacy on the high seas.
Adria: Thank you so much for answering a few of my questions Andrea! I’m really enjoying Fortune’s Horizon and I wish you luck in the future. Is there anything else you’d like people to know?
Andrea: I’m glad you enjoyed the adventure, Adria, and I hope anyone with questions or comments would feel free to contact me through my website.
Format: .epub (provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Publisher: Muirgen Publishing
Release Date: January 21, 2015
She risks everything to deliver gold to the Confederacy.
Lillie Coulbourne marks time in Paris while the Civil War rages back home. While translating dispatches for the French Finance Ministry, she accepts a spy mission through the Union blockade. When the captain of the only blockade runner headed back to a Southern port won't deal with women, or spies, she sneaks aboard as his cabin boy.
He refuses to risk his ship, or his heart.
Blockade runner Captain Jack Roberts has never been caught, and he's not about to let a spoiled American heiress ruin his perfect record. After he discovers her deception, he fails miserably at keeping her at arm's length and vows to send her packing on the first mail ship back to England.
When she surprises him with her skill as a seaman and navigator, he grudgingly allows her to finish the run. But ultimately, he has to choose what is closer to his heart - Lillie or his ship.
You just know that if the main characters of a historical romance are an English blockade runner and an American heiress, sparks, and tempers are going to fly!
While the Civil War rages on at home, American Lillie Coulbourne is in France translating dispatches. Eager to do her part to help her homeland, she accepts a spy mission but doesn’t expect to be stopped by Jack Roberts, captain of the only blockade runner headed south. Unwilling to be deterred, Lillie disguises herself as a boy and sneaks onto the ship. When Jack discovers that his cabin boy is actually a woman, he is furious and plans on sending her back to England as soon as possible. However with miles of ocean in front of them and only a certain amount of space on the ship, the two find themselves drawn to each other and into a once in a lifetime adventure.
Andrea K. Stein’s debut novel does a fabulous job of creating a story that is rich with information and imagery but doesn’t bore a reader to tears with ramblings. Not only is it rich with information but it’s hero, Jack Roberts was a real person and heroine Lillie Coulbourne was based on eccentric Lillie Hitchcock Coit. There was plenty of material for the author to work with and she certainly took it and ran!
Lillie is in a category all her own, she’s beyond intelligent, courageous and one of the most fun characters I’ve ever met. She’s not content to sit around and let the world pass her by and I loved her zest for life and the skills that weren’t commonly found in the women of her time. Her stubborn will to carry out her mission was admirable and yes, I did enjoy the fact that her presence rattled Jack’s normally controlled attitude. I have to say, Lillie makes the “English” in Jack more prominent (ie she drives him nuts therefore he becomes decidedly more English than usual).
While he’s not a stoic character, Jack is decidedly more serious than Lillie. He’s an honorable man but what I liked most about him was the fact that he was so conflicted. I don’t like “perfect” characters and Jack wasn’t perfect. He was foolish, mulish, confused and confusing. He created and solved his own problems and he had to make mistakes in order to grow as a character. So did Lillie but I felt that Jack had more obstacles to overcome. He became a better hero in the end because of everything he’d gone through. Once he realized that Lillie wasn't going anywhere, they became a formidable team. I loved that he respected Lillie's skills and her opinions, even though it wasn't always easy.
I’ve personally never been on a ship, nor have I ever been close to the ocean but with Fortune’s Horizon I felt every roll of the waves, and smelled every fishy, salty smell there was. There’s also a slight chance I may have sea sickness. I’ll have to test that theory sometime in the future.
Final Verdict: As far as debuts go, Fortune’s Horizon is a strong one. I enjoyed the adventure and the history that went with creating such a lively tale with engaging characters.
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