The Way Back to Erin may be the third book in my Findlay Roads Story series, but it was actually the first story I envisioned for the series.
CERELLA SECHRIST lives in York, Pennsylvania with two precocious pugs, Darcy and Charlotte, named after Jane Austen literary characters. Inspired by her childhood love of stories, she was ten years old when she decided she wanted to become an author. She’s been known to post too many pug photos on both Instagram and Pinterest. You can see for yourself by finding her online at www.cerellasechrist.com. The Way Back to Erin, Book #3 in her "A Findlay Roads Story" series, is her fifth Harlequin Heartwarming novel.
I had a very clear vision of the opening scene: a groom, left standing in the rain, after his fiancee failed to appear, and a single mother taking pity on him and offering him a temporary place to stay at her bed and breakfast. That story eventually became Erin's, a character who has been present in both of the previous Findlay Roads titles, Harper's Wish and A Song for Rory.
When I first created the town of Findlay Roads, I researched and visited several towns in the Chesapeake Bay region. One of my favorites was Havre de Grace, Maryland, where I spent the weekend at a B&B (similar to the Moontide Inn featured in the book), strolled the waterfront promenade, and visited the Concord Point Lighthouse.
All of these features played heavily into my creation of the town, but especially due to my time in Havre de Grace, I knew I wanted to feature a lighthouse in one of the stories. It only seemed fitting that the Findlay Roads lighthouse ends up at the heart (and cover!) of Erin and Burke's story.
|Concord Point Lighthouse, Havre de Grace, MD (photo: Cerella Sechrist)|
The Concord Point lighthouse in Havre de Grace has a long and distinguished history, including a story that further inspired Findlay Roads' fictional history:
During the War of 1812, Irish immigrant, John O'Neill, helped defend Havre de Grace against an onslaught of British naval artillery commanded by Admiral Sir George Cockburn. O'Neill fought valiantly, refusing to abandon the cannons even when the rest of his militia deserted him. He was eventually forced to retreat, but he managed to use a musket to continue to fire upon the British ships in the harbor. Finally, he was captured by the British and sentenced to hang aboard ship. With a bravery worthy of a Heartwarming heroine, O'Neill's teenage daughter rowed out to the ship in a skiff and begged for her father's life. Cockburn was so moved by her courage that he relented and released O'Neill.
In the years to come John O'Neill and his descendants had the care of the lighthouse as its keepers throughout the nineteenth and twentieth century until it was decommissioned in 1975.
Havre de Grace has a rich history that not only inspired my creation of the town, but the lighthouse - and its stories - shaped the theme of The Way Back to Erin: finding your way back home.
In the story, Burke, our hero, has had a sad past. His parents died when he was young, and he and his older brother, Gavin, were passed around from distant relative's homes until they ended up at the Moontide Inn with their great aunt, Lenora. Burke spent the remainder of his childhood living at the B&B, watching other families make memories while his own had been fractured. When Burke's brother left for Army basic, Gavin charged Burke with keeping an eye on Gavin's girlfriend, Erin. Burke did his best to honor his brother's request...and ended up falling in love with Erin himself. As soon as Gavin returned from his initial training, and Burke graduated, he left the town - and Erin - behind, fearing his presence would only conflict and complicate his brother's relationship.
Gavin and Erin married...had a child...and ended up living at the Moontide Inn while Burke traveled the world as a photo-journalist, never settling down, never returning home. He kept himself away and denied himself the hope and promise of a home and family.
But after a twist of fate (you'll have to read A Song for Rory, book #2 in the Findlay Roads series to find out more!), Burke has returned to Findlay Roads...still uncertain if the town will ever be home.
This is the purpose of a lighthouse: to lead others safely to the shore, to guide them back to the harbor and bring them home. The lighthouse in Findlay Roads plays a small but critical part in The Way Back to Erin: it is a safehaven, a symbol, the light at the heart of the story, leading Burke and Erin back to each other and the home they've both longed for.
To find out more about their story, and the town of Findlay Roads, check out one of the books in the series: Harper's Wish, A Song for Rory, and The Way Back to Erin.
And be sure to enter the giveaways going on this month! There are several prizes being given away from me and my fellow February authors as well as a personal giveaway from me for new and existing newsletter subscribers. You can learn more or enter by clicking on the links below.
Be sure to check back on Saturday, February 17, when I share more details about Findlay Roads and The Way Back to Erin.