Hello to everyone! Can you believe it is already August? I cannot. I don't know where the summer is, just that it is going.
On this first day of August, I have the awesome privilege of revealing a cover for a soon to be released novel, Nowhere but North, by Nicole Clarkston. It is a North & South Variation, and it will be released on August 31st. Today, in preparation for her preorder event on Amazon, we are going to reveal the cover for this excellent story. I do hope you will have the opportunity to read it when it becomes available. If you are a fan of John and Margaret, you will love their story in this novel. Even if you have never read North & South, I still think you will love this story. It is poignant and well-written, as are all by Nicole Clarkston.
Before revealing the cover, let's take at look at the back cover copy.
Can the pieces of a broken past be enough to build a solid future?
Haunted by sorrow and regret, Margaret Hale stands at the precipice of an uncertain destiny. Fiercely determined but unsure of her path, she risks the little she has left on a heart she once shattered—hoping somehow to win back his respect, if not his love.
Since he was a boy, John Thornton has battled the consequences of his father’s mistakes. Resolved to overcome past failings and the disdain of the world, he has striven for wealth, respect, and personal honour, but he is denied love. Now, all he had previously gained is slipping away, but he cannot resist a second chance with the woman he once lost. All he has to offer the one who needs him most is a home, and a heart that aches for her.
Can a struggling manufacturer ever be enough for a woman who deserves the world? Can a grieving, inexperienced young woman learn to look beyond her Southern past to appreciate her Northern man? When sorrow and fear threaten to conquer them both, they must overcome the odds to find the strength to forge a better life ahead.
This dramatic tale delves into the wonderful world of Elizabeth Gaskell’s epic North & South.
What do you think? Doesn't that sound intriguing and make you want to grab it and read it? If you want to pre-order, here is the link.
Nicole Clarkston is a book lover and a happily married mom of three. Originally from Idaho, she now lives in Oregon with her own romantic hero, several horses, and one very fat dog. She has loved crafting alternate stories and sequels since she was a child watching Disney’s Robin Hood, and she is never found sitting quietly without a book of some sort.
Nicole discovered Jane Austen rather by guilt in her early thirties―how does any book worm really live that long without a little P&P? She has never looked back. A year or so later, during a major house renovation project, she discovered Elizabeth Gaskell and fell completely in love. Her need for more time with these characters led her to simultaneously write Rumours & Recklessness, a P&P inspired novel, and No Such Thing as Luck, a N&S inspired novel. Both immediately became best selling books. The success she had with her first attempt at writing led her to write three other novels that are her pitiful homage to two authors who have so deeply inspired her.
Nicole was recently invited to join, a group of talented authors in the Jane Austen Fiction genre. In addition to her work with the Austen Variations blog, Nicole can be reached through Facebook at , , her blog at , or her personal blog and website, .
The idea for Nowhere But North started two years ago during the blog tour for Northern Rain. I had written a couple of blog post vignettes that framed some of John Thornton’s early years, and both Janet Taylor and Rita Deodato planted the idea that I should do more with them.
I didn’t like the idea of writing a strict prequel (such as I did with The Courtship of Edward Gardiner) because the fun happens when we see Margaret and John together. I started thinking how much of their struggles had grown out of their different life experiences. The story of Nowhere But North is prequel, sequel, and variation, all wrapped up together, because we see the cycle of the characters’ former lives played out again in their life together. Woven through the main plot of their married life are key incidents that had shaped them in some way.
This excerpt is from early in the book. It takes place about twenty years before the main story, and here, we get our first glimpse of the man who had more to do with sending John Thornton down his rocky path than any other: his father, George.
“Did you break something, John? What in thunder are you doing up here?” The voice made its way up the hall and into the room long before its owner did.
Twelve-year-old John glanced up shamefacedly from the odd-shaped contraption in his hands. “I was trying to make it work, Father.”
George Thornton lowered himself to the nearest chair. He was a tall, well-built man of five and thirty, with keen dark eyes and a ready smile. “May I?” He held out his hand, and his son passed him the apparatus which had befuddled him.
“Oh, yes!” the father enthused when he recognised it. “Is it not Barlow’s wheel I brought home from London? My partner wished me to show this next week to a group of investors. But why is it not working? Was this the crash I heard?”
John reddened. “I dropped it. I am sorry, Father. Now it is misaligned, and I lost some of the mercury.”
Thornton fixed his son with a serious expression. “That is rather wasteful, my son. This was quite costly. You must find some way to repair it.”
Young John straightened. “I have some money set aside. I will go tomorrow to buy more mercury, Father, and I am certain I will have it good as new!”
The elder Thornton returned the wheel with a cheerful grin. “See that you do. I ought to discipline you—what will Wright say if he hears the model was destroyed before the investors even saw it? However,” he eyed his boy with a look that made him squirm, “I doubt you will make that same mistake again. Have you thought how to repair the frame?”
John turned it about, then pointed to a weak joint in the design. “If I heat it here, I think I can bend it to allow the wheel to spin easily again without compromising the strength of the metal.”
Thornton nodded in curt satisfaction. “That should work. It is a remarkable discovery, is it not?”
The boy’s eyes lit. “Father, only think what technology like this can achieve! If it were large enough, we could power anything. We would not need horses to pull our carriages, and perhaps even the steam engine itself will be replaced!”
“That will be a long way off, John, if it ever happens at all. Nothing else could ever produce so much power.”
John looked back to the marvel in his hands, unconvinced by his father’s scepticism. “I should still like to see it tried.”
George Thornton shrugged with an easy grin. “Perhaps someday it will be. Wright, my partner, seems to think as you do. Now, set that aside. I have something of rather great import to discuss with you. Tell me, John, how are you getting on with your studies?”
The boy shuffled in his chair, suddenly looking anywhere but at his father. “Well enough.”
“Would you still claim that, if I told you I had spoken with your master?” Thornton queried, his expression searching and hard. Jovial though he could be, his temper was not to be tried, and John knew it.
The lad dared to meet his father’s eyes. “I expect that I should not, Father.”
Thornton’s face revealed nothing; waiting, as he was, for his son to confess all.
“I did not complete my report on Constantine. And I did not memorise the third declension irregular nouns.”
“Yet your master claims you are the ablest boy in his schoolroom. Your scores in mathematics are perfect, and the master says that even with half the effort applied by the other boys, you excel in your Latin and Greek. Why is it, John, that my son should not be giving his very best, when he is capable of far more than he achieves?”
John stared at the floor, swallowing. He had already grown ashamed of himself, but it needed the convicting humiliation of his father’s discovery to galvanise his resolve to improve himself. “I shall do better.”
“John—” George leaned back in his chair—“I know you would rather be building machines like this—” he gestured to the wheel—“or working as other boys already do, but I would see you take the opportunity to improve yourself while you are yet young. It is a chance few have had, and I confess, I am envious of you.”
A reluctant sigh rose from the lad. “Yes, Father.”
“John…” Thornton hesitated, glancing at his son’s downturned face, and continued. “I have decided to send you to London for school.”
The boy’s face jerked up in horror. “Father, I promise I will work harder!”
“It is more than that. I speak of your future advantages. I am afraid it will not be a prestigious school, but Mr Wright’s family in Bentinck Street has offered to sponsor you, along with their own boys. With them, you will learn a great deal more than you can here. Many things are within Wright’s reach which are beyond mine, and you may even establish some connections which will be useful in your future.”
John forced himself to look up from the floor, his incredulous gaze seeking his father’s. “Will Mother be very unhappy that I am to go?”
Thornton gave a short, wry laugh. “It has taken me two years to persuade her to it. I wanted to send you to a public college, but she was firmly set against it—even could I have afforded it. At least with the Wrights, she has the comfort that you will be looked after by someone she knows, and people of our own class.”
Regret dimmed the boy’s features. “I will be sorry to leave her, though, Father.”
“Your mother is most occupied with Fanny at present. She is not strong, you know, and your mother fears….” The man’s voice trailed off as his cheek flinched in pain.
“She fears losing Fanny as she did Elizabeth,” John finished in a hushed tone. “Father, if… if the worst happens, may I return?”
“I expect your mother will insist upon it. She will miss you terribly, John, but I am convinced this is for the best.”
The boy lowered his head, then with a firm jaw and a determined glint in his eyes, met his father’s gaze once more. “I will not disappoint you, Father.”
George Thornton stood, and John followed. He placed a strong, work-hardened hand on his boy’s shoulder. “I know you will not. I am already proud of you—although, I do have hopes that your new physical education lessons in London will help you at last become master of this lanky frame of yours! I cannot afford for you to keep dropping my models.”
A sheepish smile grew on the adolescent face. “I am sorry, Father. I ought not to have touched it, but….”
“But you found it too intriguing to ignore? That’s the Thornton blood, John. We cannot help but dream of the future. Industry needs men like us, and who is to say? Perhaps someday you will turn this mechanical fascination of yours into something truly remarkable. You might even grow to be one of the greatest men in Milton, with a fine house and a business of your own.”
John turned adoring eyes to his father. None understood his ambitions quite so well! “Perhaps,” he grinned.
“Come,” Thornton ruffled his son’s hair. “Your mother is waiting for us to join her at breakfast.”
Wasn't that a touching and heartrending scene. It broke my heart for the adolescent John Thornton. It also shows the intelligence of the man to be, with a slight hint to the future.
Without further delay, I give you the front cover for Nowhere but North. We would love to hear your thoughts.
What are your thoughts when you look at John and Margaret?
Now that you've seen the front cover, let's take a look at the full wrapper.
The back cover hints at and gives you a taste of, some things to come.
Are you intrigued? We hope so!
Nicole Clarkston is giving away 5 eBooks of Nowhere but North, to be delivered after release day, August 31st. Isn't that great! Thank you, Nicole, for hosting such a generous giveaway for my readers. I know they are as appreciative as I am. The giveaway will end on the 7th of August at 11:59 P.M. Good luck to all.
As a special treat to all, Nicole Clarkston is offering her first North & South variation, No Such Thing as Luck, for FREE! You read right! This book will be free, worldwide, for five days, starting today, August 1st and will be free through August 5th. Isn't that awesome! If you don't have it, now is the time to pick it up. You can get it on Amazon US, Amazon UK, and all other Amazons.
Nicole's second North & South variation, Northern Rain, will be offered on a Kindle Countdown Deal. The deal begins on August 6th and runs through August 11th.
The starting price is $.99 and will increase every 40 hours. This deal is US and UK only.
You will have forty hours to get this for $.99. Don't pass it up.
Thank you so much for joining us today. We hope you enjoyed the excerpt, loved the cover,
and are extremely excited about the giveaways and special deals.
I know you will love Nowhere but North!
A special thanks to you, Nicole Clarkston, for your generosity. Best wishes on your new book.
I look forward to its release on August 31st. I want to personally thank you for the honor
of designing your cover. As always, it is a joy to work with you.