Angry at being rejected for military service, Minister Tyrell Walker accepts the call to serve as a civilian spy within his own country. Across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, a spy working for a foreign country is stealing secret plans for newly developed ammunition to be used in the war. According to his FBI cousin, this spy favors pink stationery giving strong indications that a woman is involved.
He’s instructed to obtain a room in the Rayner Boarding House run by the lovely, spunky red-haired Emma Jaine Rayner. Sparks of jealousy and love fly between them immediately even as they battle suspicions that one or the other is not on the up and up.
While Tyrell searches for the murdering spy who reaches even into the boarding home, Emma Jaine struggles with an annoying renter, a worried father (who could be involved in this spy thing), and two younger sisters who are very different but just as strong willed as she is.
As Tyrell works to keep his double life a secret and locate the traitor, he refuses to believe that Emma Jaine could be involved even when he sees a red-haired woman in the arms of another man. Could the handsome and svelte banker who’s also determined to win Emma Jaine’s hand for marriage, be the dangerous man he’s looking for? Is the trouble-making renter who hassles Emma Jaine serving as a flunky? Worse, is Papa Rayner so worried about his finances and keeping his girls in the style they’re used to, that he’ll stoop to espionage?
Will their love survive the danger and personal issues that arise to hinder the path of true love?
I love WWII era stories and was eager to read With Music in Their Hearts. Carole Brown did a great job of capturing the essence of the era. The colorful cast of characters entertained me, the story engaged me, and the mystery kept me guessing until the very end! I also enjoyed the glossary of WWII words and expressions that was included at the beginning of the book.
Secret agents, spies, and murder…oh my! With Music in Their Hearts is a clever story, one I enjoyed and recommend for fans of cozy mysteries and historical fiction!
Please give a warm welcome to Carole Brown!
I hear you brought some guests with you today, Carole.
I certainly did! Emma Jaine and Tyrell are on their honeymoon, so I asked a couple from the boarding house to stop by with me.
Sounds like fun. Before you introduce them, can you tell us why you included so many characters in your novel?
That’s an easy one to explain. With Music in Their Hearts is a spy/mystery/suspense. One of the main protagonists is a minister who is asked to secretly serve as a civilian spy because someone from a boarding house (run by the oldest daughter of a prominent Cincinnati citizen) is working as a foreign spy trying to obtain the new ammunition plans being developed at a local plant.
To develop the plot, to include plenty of clues, and to increase the suspense I needed many suspects and what better ones than the inhabitants of the boarding house? They made for colorful and crazy secondary characters who added energy to Emma Jaine and Tyrell’s story.
I hear you have some particular favorites here. Tell us . . .
Of course. Tyrell’s cousin and best friend–I dragged him from his duties as a FBI agent. It really wasn’t that hard: Ben Hardy loves the limelight and has that personable personality that draws attention.
Gertrude Hanover–Gertie to her friends–agreed to come as long as I promised not to alter any of her statements (Me: tongue in cheek: she’s quite a character, so look out!)
Lovely! Ben, why did you draw Tyrell into the spy business? He really had no training as such.
Ben (mock-shocked expression): What? I trained him while we grew up. Always knew I wanted to be an FBI agent so I studied and aimed for it. Tried to get Tyrell interested, but he had his heart set to follow our grandfather in ministry. But when we needed someone to secretly spy at Emma Jaine’s boarding house, what better person than the one I’d taught every trick I knew? I knew his capabilities and his talents and convinced my boss, we should set it up. Tyrell was disappointed for awhile not to be accepted in regular service, but he’s a good Tom and came through for us.
May I call you Gertie? Did you know Emma Jaine and Tryell were interested in each other and suspect the end results of them falling for each other?
Gertie (A sniff): Well, I had my doubts for awhile. That Emma Jaine is a smart cookie, but when it comes to love, she’s blind as they come. Feared she was stuck on sugar daddy Hamilton Blake for awhile. Fortunately that sizzled out.
And that Tyrell. Sure he was bamboozled by the wolfess in the house–Bette Williams, in case you’re not smart enough to figure it out–but something or someone knocked some sense in him. Wish he had the same sense to realize what kind of voice his has.
Back to you, Ben. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Ben: I thought you’d never ask. My family says I get my swell personality and good looks from my grandmother’s side. Don’t know about that, but do think I have a reasonable amount of smarts, my fair share of looks (do blame my grandmother for this carrot top!), and a knack for getting out of any trouble that heads my way.
Could say a lot more but see Gertie’s itching to say something.
Gertie (another inelegant sniff): Ben. He’s a braggart, but I do like the young man. He’s full of nonsense, but there’s more to him than meets the eye.
As for me, what’s to tell? Came from a wealthy family, married an idiot who fortunately for me, died early on, and spent a lot of years traveling. Finally decided to slow down and since the depression robbed me of quite a bit of my inheritance, I wanted a more secure, smaller scale of living. Heard by way of gossip about the Rayner Boarding House and secured a nice apartment there. One of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
Do you think you’ll appear in Carole’s other novels concerning Josie or Claire Rayner?
Gertie: Who knows who’ll she’ll include? I wouldn’t be surprised seeing as I’m one of the most colorful of her characters. Josie’s story takes place close to home too, so I may just make an occasional entrance, but then Josie’s novel is entirely different than Emma Jaine’s so you can never tell. Claire, well, she’s a spoiled but sweet child, and you’ll have to wait to see where her story takes her. Can’t see traveling all the way to . . . You thought I was going to give it away, didn’t you?
One last question, Ben. Will Carole share YOUR story with us?
Ben (laughs): If she wants a bestseller, she’d better. Seriously, I’ve heard rumors that she’s thinking about it, someday. But don’t tell her I told you.
Thank you for sharing a great interview!
(I told you they were a colorful cast of characters! 😉 )
Excerpt from Chapter One…
A vehicle’s tires spinning gravel behind him warned him he’d not lost the black car. Slowing. Creeping. Engine purring. Only a few feet separated him from the car and making a sudden decision, he jogged around the corner and hugged the building trying to put distance between it. The car’s tires squealed as the car sped up. The driver took the corner, gravel crunching and spinning into the air.
They must have spotted him for the driver braked, throwing the passenger forward. Tyrell flung himself at the car and grabbed for the door handle.
The window slid down.
Something tugged at his arm.
And the handle tore from his grasp as the car accelerated.
The seemingly belated, reverberating crack of a gun vibrated the air around him.
The car spun around a far corner, and Tyrell reached up to rub his stinging arm. The sticky wetness drew his attention.
Blood. He saw the tear in his coat sleeve, the minute traces of blood oozing.
He’d been shot?
Why would they—whoever they were—want to shoot at him? It was a scratch, and they’d been close enough to kill him if they’d wanted to.
They didn’t want to. What were they after? A scare tactic? To warn him away? From what? Perhaps all this was a coincidence, a figment of his active imagination.
No sign of the car. Satisfied he was rid of them, he entered the hotel. At the reception desk, he filled out the necessary papers, climbed the stairs, and headed down the hallway.
At the far end, a red-haired woman inserted a key into the lock.
Was she the same woman who’d been in the recruitment office? That hat . . . He called out, “Hey, lady.”
She glanced his way, her luxurious hat tilted at just the right angle to hide one side of her face. With a flip of her plaid skirt, she shoved open her door and disappeared inside.
Tyrell hesitated at his own door, next to her’s, but inserted his key and entered. Inside, he switched on a light then as quickly flicked it off. He stepped to the window.
And drew in a breath as if he’d been sucker-punched.
Down below, across from the hotel, the streetlight reflected off a long, black Oldsmobile. Standing beside the car staring up at the hotel, stood Ben Hardy.
His cousin and best friend.
About the Author:
Brown not only has her award winning (RWA International Digital Awards finalist in Inspiration, Laurel Award finalist, Selah finalist; Genesis semi-finalist) debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel.
November, 2013, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies. Look for the second book, Bat Crazy, late 2014 winter.
Released November 1, 2014, is the first book in a new WWII romantic suspense series: With Music In Their Hearts. Three red-headed sisters. Three spies. Three stories.
Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?
Connect with her here:
Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/