Shannon here: Hope Toler Dougherty shares her inspiration for her Contemporary Romance, Irish Encounter. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy. Deadline: March 26th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Hope:
Inspiration behind Irish Encounter by Hope Toler Dougherty:
In 1993, my husband introduced me to the beautiful country of Ireland—the gorgeous scenery, the sounds of Irish brogue and jaunty music, the smiling faces, the delicious soups and brown bread. In 2000, we took our family on home exchanges to Galway and to Bandon in County Cork. In 2007, we took another one to Blessington in County Wicklow.
Those trips were great fun and provided much fodder for daydreams. One of my daydreams took me back to Galway and introduced me to one of my favorite couples, Ellen and Payne.
In my daydream, a woman in an Irish café scribbled in a journal. A little old man in a tweed vest approached her, introduced himself, and began talking about his late wife. I saw the wooden buttons on his vest and the Irish cap he clutched in his hands. Suddenly another man, dressed in dusty safari clothes, appeared to the woman’s left, lounging at his table and eavesdropping on their conversation.
Unfolding like a movie in my mind, this daydream fascinated me. I wrote as quickly as I could everything I saw and heard in that Irish coffee shop.
Irish Encounter began right then, and the daydream became one of the early scenes in the book.
The love story depicts the second chance romance of Ellen Shepherd and Payne Anderson. Both have painful pasts, but God helps them find happiness in a future neither expected. In the beginning of the story, they enjoyed sampling the delicious breads and soups Ireland has to offer.
If I can’t get a real slice of brown bread in Ireland, the following recipe is the best replica I’ve found this side of the Atlantic. I’ll be baking loaves this week to serve with spinach soup and Irish cheese to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Let me know if you try the recipe. It’s easy and delicious!
Irish Brown Bread
2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups plain flour
1 ½ cups wheat bran
1 cup wheat germ
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup butter
2 ¼ cups buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350F. (If you use a baking stone, preheat it also.)
Stir together the first six ingredients. Incorporate the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers or a pastry cutter or fork. Slowly pour in the buttermilk to make a dough and knead five or six times. Shape the dough into a ball and flatten it into a 9-inch disk. Place the disk onto a baking sheet or stone and cut an X into the top of the dough.
Bake for one hour. Cool, covered with a kitchen towel, on a wire or wooden rack for an hour before slicing.
About Hope: Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her novels include Irish Encounter, Mars…With Venus Rising, Rescued Hearts, and Forever Music. Her recent novella, “A Hatteras Surprise,” appears in Candy Cane Wishes and Saltwater Dreams. She and her husband delight in visits with their daughters and twin sons. Learn more & connect:
About the book – Irish Encounter:
After almost three years of living under a fog of grief, Ellen Shepherd is ready for the next chapter in her life, perhaps an adventure during a visit to Galway. Her idea of excitement consists of exploring Ireland for yarn to feature in her shop back home, but the adventure awaiting her includes an edgy stranger who disrupts her tea time, challenges her belief system, and stirs up feelings she thought she’d buried with her husband.
After years of ignoring God, nursing anger, and stifling his grief, Payne Anderson isn’t ready for the feelings a chance encounter with an enchanting stranger evokes. Though avoiding women and small talk has been his pattern, something about Ellen makes him want to seek her—and God again.
Can Ellen accept a new life different from the one she planned? Can Payne release his guilt and accept the peace he’s longed for? Can they surrender their past pain and embrace healing together or will fear and doubt ruin this second chance at happiness?
Can’t wait for the drawing? Worried you won’t win? Interested in Hope’s other titles?
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Question for readers: If you’d be willing to have a home exchange, where would you want to go?
Come back March 18th for Patty Smith Hall!