Hi Donna and welcome to HJ! We’re so excited to chat with you about your new release, Lavender Blue!
Hello! Thanks so much for having me as a guest today.
Please summarize the book for the readers here:
This is a story about a man and a woman whose lives have both been shaped by a past tragedy. Each has moved on in their own way, living lives that are fulfilling, but not yet ready to take that leap of faith to put their hearts back on the line. Until they meet each other. Lavender Blue is set in my home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and I loved giving Hannah and Will their pathway to a much-deserved happily ever after.
Please share your favorite line(s) or quote from this book:
I don’t know that I have a favorite, but this line is essentially the central thread and core value for the four women who own and run Lavender Blue farmhouse and tea room and sets the tone for all of their stories: “They were not going to be wallowers. They were going to be warriors… Life warriors.
Please share a few Fun facts about this book…
As I mentioned above, I live in the Blue Ridge, so research for this book is literally right in my back yard. One of my favorite research adventures was going to our local lavender farm and learning all things lavender, getting to pick my own, learn about the processes used for making essential oils, soaps, sachet’s and the like. I even made my own lavender wreath! The other favorite venture which has been ongoing research for the whole series, has been learning more about llamas and alpacas. My sister and I attended a fiber festival near her home in North Carolina and I got the chance to talk to several more llama owners and loved all of their stories. I’m not saying Dexter (the llama in this series) resembles any of those stories…but he might!
What first attracts your Hero to the Heroine and vice versa?
Initially, she’s intrigued by his quiet manner (and admittedly doesn’t mind the way his white tee plasters itself to his torso while he rebuilds her chimneys under a hot sun) and Will is intrigued by Hannah’s humor and sunny look on life. But when they discover that they are not alone in having suffered an immeasurable loss in their past, it links them together in a much deeper way. Will has handled his loss very differently than Hannah has, making her a bit trepidatious about getting involved with him. That she’s such a life warrior is a bit intimidating to Will as well. And yet…they can’t quite get themselves out of each others way…
If your book was optioned for a movie, what scene would you use for the audition of the main characters and why?
There is a scene that takes place in a barn where Hannah has a bit of a set back in her sunny, moving-forward-with-life attitude. It’s emotional and hard and Will is there for her in every way. It brings them to that almost-kiss moment for the first time, and changes things between them going forward. Here’s just a tiny bit… (I don’t want to give too much away and spoil that moment.)
“Are you coming?” Bailey stuck her out head out just as they reached the wide plank door to the building. “Finally,” she said, smiling and taking Hannah’s hand. “Come on. He just woke up. You can feed him.”
Hannah looked a little startled at the suddenness of it all and Will found himself smiling again as Bailey dragged her off.
“Here.” Bailey turned and deposited a wooly ball of black fluff into Hannah’s unsuspecting embrace. “This is Snowball. She’s a rare twin and probably shouldn’t have made it, hence the name, like a snowball’s chance?” Bailey’s eyes sparkled mischievously. “I happened to be out here when her mama was birthing her. She had a pretty tough time, they were her first two ever. We’ve been hand-feeding Snowball so her mama can concentrate on the stronger one. I don’t normally name them, but I’m keeping her.” Bailey reached out to stroke the lamb’s knobby head. “I didn’t think she’d make it, but she’s a fighter.”
Will noted that Hannah just stood there and blinked through Bailey’s whole, excited little speech, saying nothing. Simply staring down at her armful of soft, little lamb. Will might not know Hannah all that well yet, but he knew that wasn’t like her. Jake had gone on and on about how Hannah had taken straightaway to watching the baby goats run around and play. So much so she’d said she’d love to have one of her own. So Will knew it wasn’t an aversion to or fear of livestock.
Bailey handed Hannah a bottle. “I thought you’d like to give her a feeding.” She went about showing Hannah how to hold the baby, how to position the bottle.
Hannah followed along, sitting on a low stool, her back to a stall door, not caring that the hem of her skirt dragged through the dirt and straw on the stable floor. She hadn’t said a single word, had barely managed a nod or two, allowing Bailey’s chattering to fill up all the available space.
The strands of hair that had come loose from her braid fell forward to frame her face as she bent to the task of feeding the eager lamb, so Will couldn’t fully gauge her reaction, but something definitely wasn’t right.
Bailey watched for a moment, then turned away to help Jake get the other young ones back in the larger pen with their mamas. Will still stood just inside the doorway and was about to turn to help the kids with the lambs, when he noticed the fine trembling that had Hannah’s shoulders shaking. It wasn’t in laughter. He saw her knees were shaking a bit, too.
He couldn’t have said how he knew to do what he did next. Some protective instinct kicked in, and he didn’t question it. Maybe it was his military training to respond quickly and rely on his gut. Maybe it was being a parent, sensitive to the signs that someone was in trouble. Probably a combination of both.
He turned the kids who were just closing the door to the pen behind the last straggler. “Hey, why you don’t you both head on up the hill and help Addie Pearl with dinner,” he said. “I’ll help Hannah finish up with the lamb, then we’ll be up, too.”
Jake look a bit surprised but nodded. “If you’re sure, yeah, no problem.”
Bailey, on the other hand, regarded him a bit more steadily and didn’t respond right away. She went to glance past Will to where Hannah was seated, but he shifted, just the tiniest bit, to block her view. Bailey’s gaze went immediately back to his, concern clear in her eyes now.
“It’s okay,” he said quietly, not surprised that the young girl had picked up on the situation, or at least that there was one of some sort. “I’ve got it.”
“I didn’t know,” was all Bailey said, not in defense, but in apology.
“We can’t know what we don’t know,” he told her. “Go on up with Jake, okay?”
Bailey looked like she wanted to say more, to do more, but she nodded and, to her credit, corralled Jake out of the stables as smoothly as she’d helped him corral the rowdy babies moments before.
Jake pulled the plank door closed behind them, trusting Bailey to keep whatever it was she might be thinking about Hannah to herself. He’d talk to her later. Just as soon as he figured out what was going on.
He turned back to Hannah, took a slow breath, and walked over to her, hoping he’d done the right thing. And, despite his reassurances to Bailey, not at all sure he had this.
He looked around for another stool, found one and pulled it over beside her. He could hear her quiet sobs before he even sat down. “Let me take her,” Will said quietly, as gently as he was able. He reached for her, but Hannah gave just a slight shake of her head, so he withdrew his hands, but stayed where he was sitting.
“Sorry,” she managed, her voice choked with tears.
“Nothing to be sorry about. Animals do that,” he said. “Brings out all our protective instincts.”
She ducked her chin in a wobbly nod, her face still cast downward, her gaze on the lamb, who was done feeding now, and dozing in her arms. Hannah was rocking her, or herself, or both.
Will felt his own chest tighten, his throat, too. He had no idea what had caused this response, but it was no little thing. She wasn’t trying to laugh it off or explain it away, like he’d assume she might, given her open and sunny nature. She wasn’t embarrassed or even really aware of anything except the warm bundle she was cradling to her chest.
He wanted to reach out, to console her, to ease whatever burden this had placed on her soul. Because clearly this was about a whole lot more than a poor, undersized, struggling lamb. He, better than most, knew about put upon souls.
He had the thought that his intent to provide solace might instead be an unwanted intrusion, and he shifted his weight in order to stand up, give her some space and privacy.
“I miss this so much,” she said on a raw rasp. Fresh tears filled her voice, and he could see them tracking down her cheeks.
He settled right back on the stool again, but at a total loss as to what to say to that.
She sniffled again, and finally turned to brush her cheek against her shoulder. “I’m okay,” she said hoarsely. “It’s just…some things, I can’t…”
He’d never felt so inept in his life. All his instincts had rushed in to protect her, and now he had no idea how to actually do that. It felt intrusive to make any contact, and yet he simply couldn’t sit there, hearing all that pain, and not touch her, try to offer comfort.
He reached up and gently pushed the strands of hair away from where they clung to her damp cheeks. He tucked them behind her ear, then dried the last tears from her cheek with back of his finger. “I don’t think we’re meant to shoulder everything all the time.”
Readers should read this book….
…because healing comes in all forms, and love blooms where you least expect it. For all that Lavender Blue is an emotional read, it’s also joyful and funny, tender and sweet, with a little steam in there as well. One reader said it has “all the feels, but in the very best of ways.” I hope she’s right! It’s definitely a feel good story with a very happy ending!
What are you currently working on? What other releases do you have in the works?
Hannah runs Lavender Blue with three other women. One of them, Avery Kent, gets her story this fall in my annual holiday novella, this one titled Lavender & Mistletoe. I’m currently writing the single title that will come out after that. It’s Chey’s story, Under a Blue Hollow Moon.
Thanks for blogging at HJ!
Giveaway: One winner will receive a signed copy of Lavender Blue and a lovely, handmade bookmark charm designed exclusively for the book by The Cotton Thistle. The contest is open to readers everywhere, around the globe.
To enter Giveaway: Please complete the Rafflecopter form and Post a comment to this Q: I love living a very rural life out here in the mountains, but I was born in Washington DC and grew up as a “beltway baby” in the DC -Metro area. I love my home city, it makes my heart swell every time I go back…but I wouldn’t trade my rural life now for city life again. Which draws you in? If you could pick, which would you choose? City life? Mountains or coast? Country/Rural living? Somewhere between the three?
Excerpt from Lavender Blue:
Given the last excerpt was a bit emotional, here’s one that will make you smile, as Will works himself up to asking Hannah out for the first time…
Armed with Hannah’s hard-won, been-there insight, Will had started to let the world in around him, and that had caused him to truly started to look at things in an entirely different way. He’d been surprised how swiftly that had changed the make-up of his days, how willing and happy people were to have him take part in the day-to-day conversations he’d simply let swirl around him before, and how sincerely he liked being part of them.
The other thing he couldn’t deny was that a great deal of his thoughts about Hannah, before and now, had absolutely nothing to do with his learning how to process his long held, deeply-buried grief. When he thought about her, which was a good deal of the time, he realized it was truly about her, all off her. He was undeniably attracted to her, and not because they shared a tragic happening in their past. His clumsy attempt to start something, a conversation, anything, out in the sheep meadow that day was testimony to the fact that he’d been interested in her long before learning they shared that common thread. If she’d wanted to be known as more than a grieving mother, then he could most assuredly confirm she’d accomplished that goal. That is not what he saw, or thought about, when he looked at her.
In fact, at that moment, looking into her happy, smiling face, framed by a backdrop that would stir even the most dormant soul, he could truthfully say that nothing of her past or his was on his mind right now. What was on his mind was that kiss they’d started, but never finished in the stable that day. And how badly he’d like to find out what really kissing Hannah Montgomery would feel like, taste like, when there was nothing else, no one else, standing between them.
Something of his thoughts must have shown on his face because her eyes widened just slightly, then those soft gray eyes grew a bit stormy and dark, but in the all the ways a man would so want to them to.
“I’d like to see you,” he said, the words out there before he second guess them. “Not to talk about the past,” he added. “Just to spend some time in the now. Getting to know who we are now.”
She looked sincerely surprised, and his heart sank. Either he was the only one endlessly distracted by thoughts of them spending more time together, or she was possibly concerned that given their common bond, spending time with him wouldn’t be something she’d be interested in, that he’d remind her of her loss now, even if he didn’t mean to.
“Never mind,” he said, before she could respond. “I’m probably jumping the gun, anyway.” He tried for a self-deprecating smile, and probably failed by a mile. “Why would you want to get mixed up with—”
“Yes,” she blurted out. “I would love to.” She seemed as surprised by her response as he’d been about making the offer.
They both stared at each other for a moment, then she grinned, then he did. “Good,” he said, feeling a whole cavalcade of things in that moment, but instantly deciding to focus on the one that made him happiest. She’d said yes.
“Very,” she replied, and they both stared at each other again, grinning like loons. “I—uh—I’m glad Jake agreed to help out today, with the tea room,” she said, making an obvious attempt to get them back on a normal conversational path, though her eyes were still shining in surprised delight.
“He was happy to do it.”
There was a short pause, then she said, “How are you doing?” She hurried to add. “If it’s okay to ask. I wish I could have helped more.” The moment the comments were made she looked instantly regretful. “You don’t need to answer that. I don’t know what made me bring it up.”
He smiled at that. It looked like neither one of them had this whole how-do-you-date-at-our-age thing down very well. Or at all. Something about that knowledge took the pressure off and relaxed him a bit.
“What?” she asked, clearly confused by his smile.
“I was just thinking that it appears neither one of us has had much practice with this.”
She let out a short laugh then, too. “Is it that obvious?”
“I think it’s charming,” he said. “At least where you’re concerned. I’m sure I’m being far less than the gallant knight here, but given you’ve seen my soft, white underbelly already, I guess that jig is up.”
Her smile turned sweet then, and there was honest affection in her eyes. “I think it’s safe to say we’ve both seen each other at far less than our most confident and in-control selves.” She held his gaze then. “Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, you know?”
“Maybe not,” he agreed, then he chuckled. “Though, just once, I’d like to at least pretend to be suave around you.”
That got an honest laugh from her. “As I recall, the first time we truly talked, you’d just gotten done being the white knight, saving me from immediate death by chimney rock.” She smiled up at him. “I think you’re pretty gallant. In fact, I think that’s one of your core traits. And I’ll tell you something else,” she said, leaning closer like she was sharing a secret. “Men who are too smooth? Sound like they’re trying to sell a used car. A little rough around the edges rings far more true and sincere.”
He smiled down into her pretty face, and her pretty eyes. “You’re being very kind.”
“I’m being very honest.”
He nodded, as if accepting the compliment, even if he wasn’t quite sure it was all that true. But if it was to her, then what else mattered? “Well, for the record, you can ask me anything. Anytime. You’ve certainly earned that right. I guess I’d like to think if the unique way in which we started to get to know each other is worth anything, it’s that we can bypass a lot of those more formal dating etiquette rules.”
“Is that what we’re doing?” she asked, seeming quite cheerful about the prospect. “Dating?”
“I’m not sure what the kids are calling it these days, but given I asked you out and you said yes…I think that’s the right term.”
“I guess that’s right,” she said, sounding quite pleased.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
In the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains lies a small town with a big heart—and a chance to begin again . . .
When Hannah Montgomery buys a lavender farm in Blue Hollow Falls with three friends, she’s creating a life she never imagined—one she hopes will honor the memory of the sweet young son she tragically lost years ago. Standing on the porch of the sprawling farmhouse, looking out on row upon row of those lush purple plumes, Hannah is ready to embrace this fresh, new start . . .
Then she meets Wilson McCall. The stonemason hired to fix their crumbling chimneys and leaky roof is quieter than most folks in the Falls. Hannah’s not surprised to learn the widower struggles with his own grief. Who could blame her if she finds joy in making Will laugh again, or if she feels a poignant kinship when she sees him with his teenaged son? But her deepening friendship with Will reminds Hannah that there’s a part of her that still needs to heal—awakening a tender yearning to have a life that isn’t just good enough, but lived fully—even if that means taking risks once more . . .
Book Links: Book Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | kobo | Google |
Meet the Author:
Donna Kauffman is the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of over 70 novels, translated and sold in more than 26 countries around the world. The recipient of multiple RT Book Awards, she is also a National Readers Choice Award and PRISM Award winner and a RITA finalist. Born into the maelstrom of Washington, D.C., politics, she now lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, where she is surrounded by a completely different kind of wildlife. A contributing blogger for USAToday.com, she is also a DIYer, a baker, a gardener and a volunteer transporter for the Wildlife Center of Virginia and Rockfish Sanctuary. Please visit her online at www.DonnaKauffman.com.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | GoodReads |