Government is not reason, it is not eloquence — it is force! Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master. Never for a moment should it be left to irresponsible action. – George Washington.
Have you ever been the victim of an overzealous governmental agency or a vengeful politician? We’ve all read horror stories in the newspapers or heard them on the evening news, some poor citizen who has run afoul with government and has his property confiscated, been subjected to tax audits, have liens placed on his home, bank accounts confiscated, business licenses revoked, or construction projects halted. Some occurrences are due to bureaucratic errors, others because the person, somewhere along the line, crossed the wrong official.
Now imagine you are an up and coming state legislator who is challenging the establishment, what kind of opposition could you face? This is the question I asked myself when choosing the villain for my debut novel, The Kiss of a Rose. I created a powerful and corrupt Governor who desperately wants to hang onto his power and secure his political legacy.
“I want him stopped. No, not stopped—I want to break him. I want to make an example of him so every other hotshot legislator who comes along knows he can’t mess with me.” – Governor Russell James Bartlett, The Kiss of a Rose.
It takes a man with strong character and principles to withstand the kind of political and personal attacks that a tyrannical leader can bring down upon his enemies. My hero, Stephen Winship does stand and survive in the face of lies, ineuendo, and made up scandals.
Many people have heard the old Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times,” but not many know the second part of that curse, “and may you come to the attention of important people.” I hope I never end up in the cross hairs of a politician with an axe to grind.
A DISTANT PAST
In 1882, Rose Van Buren loved the wrong man and paid for it with her life. Now, more than a century later, the angel Gabriel has granted her another shot at living. In exchange, she must convince a smart, handsome, up-and-coming lawyer to set aside his lofty ambitions.
A FUTURE PRESENT
Stephen Winship is headed straight for the governor’s chair. He has a brilliant career, solid allies, and a seemingly perfect girlfriend. But night after night he finds himself dreaming of a heavenly beauty, a luminous but long-dead girl. Like some altered Ghost of Christmas Past, she shows him her own tragic tale in order to “save him.” And he’s beginning to see Rose is risking her heart as much as baring her soul. Yet falling for her will cost him everything—and open him up to a happiness he never imagined.
The scent of roses filled the air. Stephen frowned. Something seemed off. One moment Senator Hampton was yammering on about taxing the peasants, and the next moment Stephen found himself standing at an altar in a small wooden church decorated for a wedding.
He looked around. The pews were filled with strangers dressed in clothes that belonged in an old Western movie. A cool breeze blew in from the open windows. He could see horses tied to a post outside and an old buggy. Red and white roses were attached to the end of each pew and mixed flowers draped along the windowsills.
In spite of the breeze, the church was warm. A drop of sweat slid down his forehead. He reached for the buttons of his shirt collar, only to find hooks. His shirt clung to his body, stiff with starch. He quickly glanced down. The coat he wore hung to his knees. His fingers played with the ends of a bow tie. A pain in his toes drew his attention downward. His feet and legs were encased in knee-high leather boots. He shifted his position to ease the pressure on his toes.
A man started speaking and Stephen turned his head to see who it was.
An odd little man stood close to him, holding a book. Stephen wrinkled his forehead—the man looked like a minister. Soft fingers touched his hands and gently pulled his arms. He turned to look directly in front of him. A woman dressed in an old- fashioned, cream-colored dress held his hands. A heavy veil covered her hair and face.
The minister stopped speaking and the woman released Stephen’s right hand, taking his left hand in both of hers. She carefully slipped a small gold band on his ring finger.
“By the power invested in me by the state of Idaho,” the man said, “I now pronounce you man and wife. You may kiss the bride.”
“It’s okay, son,” the man told him. “Every new bridegroom is nervous. Go ahead and kiss your lovely bride.”
Stephen’s eyes went wide. He didn’t have a bride. He glanced around the room. All the wedding guest stared back at him. A shiver ran down his spine. He turned to his supposed bride and wondered what to do next. Curiosity won out in the end, and he reached for the edges of the veil, lifted it over the woman’s face. His breath caught. He stared into a pair of captivating green eyes. Long, honey-colored hair framed the woman’s angelic face.
He tried to speak but found he couldn’t utter a sound. His breathing became labored. The scent of roses was so overwhelming he thought he’d choke. With great effort he whispered, “Who are you?”
Augustina Van Hoven was born in The Netherlands and currently resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two dogs and three cats. She is an avid reader of romance, science fiction and fantasy. When she’s not writing she likes to work in her garden or in the winter months crochet and knit on her knitting machines.