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Patricia Rice

DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Back to School

DA3 Interview & Giveaway: Back to School

The school year isn’t fresh and new everywhere at the beginning of September, but it’s a good excuse to bring you some books with peeks inside the classroom. These stories also share the theme of communities facing conflicts of values and culture:

Farmer In Your ArmsHuguley Preachers PromiseRice Dixie Rebel

In Merry Farmer’s historical In Your Arms, a Native American raised among whites struggles to teach in a racially-mixed school on the Montana frontier.

Piper Huguley’s The Preacher’s Promise takes readers east of the Mississippi to Reconstruction Georgia and a town founded by newly-freed men and women, who aren’t so sure they want a Northerner helping them, no matter how well-educated she is.

Finally, a favorite with many Dear Author regulars is Patricia Rice, who keeps us in the South, but for a contemporary, Dixie Rebel (formerly published under the title Impossible Dreams), in which an idealist’s school for kids who flounder in traditional classrooms is threatened by the town’s desire for–well, they call it progress.

Your heroine’s best and worst qualities: 

Merry Farmer: Lily’s best quality is her compassion and dedication to making sure all of her students are given the best chance to succeed in life. Her worst quality is her impatience, which leads to some dangerous choices.

Piper Huguley: Her persistence is her best quality and her worst is her impulsiveness. 

Patricia Rice:  Best: empathic compassion; Worst: a dreamer of ridiculously impossible dreams.

Why readers will fall in love with your hero: 

Merry Farmer: Christian is determined and sure of himself, but with just enough vulnerability that you aren’t sure whether you want to tell him off or kiss him.

Piper Huguley: He’s hot, tortured and in desperate need of the love of a good woman.

Patricia Rice: He cares too much but hides his heart for fear he would lose the authority he wields–authority upon which so many people depend.

The first kiss happens…

Merry Farmer: In the classroom when the kids are at recess and Lily and Christian are alone…almost.

Piper Huguley: in front of their house, after they are married. 

Patricia Rice: Wadeville, North Carolina.

For you, what is it about teaching that made it seem compelling enough to draw a character from? How does that compelling aspect show up in the character or plot? 

Merry Farmer:  Teachers, whether in Montana in 1897 or today, have so much power to shape the lives of their students and to open their minds to new ways of thinking. Lily certainly feels that responsibility and is determined to teach racial equality in an era where the concept was a new and revolutionary issue. What gives her an edge that many of the activists of her time didn’t have is that she truly loves her students and can work with their hearts as well as their minds to teach equality. All of the speeches in the world don’t have as much impact as the daily activities of a classroom.

Piper Huguley: These people, like Mary Peake, who Amanda is based on, were teaching warriors.  They dared to go into the southern states and teach the enslaved the literacy they knew they would need before the Civil War was even over. That fortitude and bravery make for characters modern day readers can connect with. The fact that Amanda is willing to go toe to toe with Virgil made for great conflict. 

Patricia Rice:  To me, teachers are the hope of our future, the valiant people dedicated to making our children the best they can be so our world will be a better one. I don’t think any trait can be more compelling than wanting to improve the world. And that’s what idealistic Maya, my heroine, really wants to do, because the world as she knows it has never been a happy one. And she ends up battling that cynical world to make dreams possible for her students. Unfortunately, Axell, the hero, is part of the cynical world she has to fight.

Your teacher characters end up as activists–they have to take a stand against the community, or at least a segment of it. 

Merry Farmer: Lily is trying to teach tolerance for people of different races in a time when the world was changing so fast that many people were having a hard time keeping up. She is herself a Native American in an area with an uneasy blending of peoples, and a woman at a time when the push to give women the vote was at its height. This really raises the stakes when it comes to Lily finding love with one of the town’s most prominent citizens and fighting for that love against prejudice that would keep Lily and Christian apart. Fortunately, both Lily and Christian are far too stubborn to put up with other people’s small-mindedness, but boy, does it affect them!

Piper Huguley: Amanda is a black woman the enslaved have never seen before.  Just her presence is activist enough.  Virgil is not sure he approves of her ways—so there’s more conflict. 

Patricia Rice: Maya never set out to be an activist. She simply wanted to teach kids. But the men in charge of the community want to make money—something Maya is pretty much incapable of doing. When it becomes apparent that the school she’s established stands in the way of the community making money…the conflict boils down to reality vs dreams. In the short term, people would profit by tearing down her school. But in the long term, the children would benefit from the education she can provide not just to them, but to the community, since the school is a historical and botanical museum. With Axell being the leader of the town council, he knows the town needs money…but his daughter needs Maya’s understanding nature.

Events escalate with the arrival of Maya’s ex-convict sister. When the powers-that-be want to arrest her sister for crimes she didn’t commit in hopes of sending both sisters out of town, Maya has to finally wake up and fight for what she wants. And Axell has to choose sides. Can’t get much more romantic than a man surrendering his tried-and-true path for the love of his daughter…and a woman who is the antithesis of everything he thought was true.

What does your teacher character still have to learn? 

Merry Farmer: Lily still needs to learn to trust. She needs to trust Christian to have her best interests at heart, she needs to trust that her new friends really do care for her, and she needs to trust herself and the love she feels

Piper Huguley: She has to learn that the South she has just moved in to will not be so slow to change. Virgil will have to teach her that. 

Patricia Rice:  Practicality. <G> Maya has a huge heart and dreams bigger than she is. She can accomplish a lot on her own, but to carry out dreams as large as hers, she needs help, big help, practical help, people who will channel her dreams down workable paths. And she needs to learn to sort through the people and advice to find the ones who believe in her. It’s a lot for an idealist to learn.

Your favorite school/office supply:

Merry Farmer: Mmmm… It has to be spiral-bound notebooks! I love the smell of paper and the potential a good notebook has!

Piper Huguley: Post-it notes. What did they do without them in the 19th century?

Patricia Rice: Oh, don’t make me choose! I love office supply stores, have ever since I was a kid. New pens, pretty mechanical pencils, bookmark post-it notes…!

And your best back-to-school tip: 

Merry Farmer:  Make friends with the school secretary! My mom was a school secretary, and I tell you, they know everything and everyone. They pretty much control the school. And my mom used to make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches every day for the kids whose parents forgot their lunches.

Piper Huguley: Write down your notes and don’t take pictures of the board.  Learning doesn’t happen that way. 

Patricia Rice:  For students or teachers? Perhaps the answer is for both: Smile. People want to talk to people who appear happy and look them in the eye, people who say hi and exude confidence. Even if you’re new to school, a smile shows you’re glad to be there, that you’re open to new adventures and friends. And make sure to add an extra smile for those who aren’t the most popular. It’s amazing what you can learn from the introvert sitting alone.

A copy of in Your Arms is going to a commenter, so we’d love to hear your back-to-school tip or  your thoughts on the interview. Many thanks to Merry Farmer, Piper Huguley, and Patricia Rice.

REVIEW:  Artful Deceptions by Patricia Rice

REVIEW: Artful Deceptions by Patricia Rice

Dear Ms. Rice,

I bought this book several weeks ago after another of your books was featured in one of our daily deals. I’ve always meant to get back to your trad regencies after enjoying “Mad Maria’s Daughter” and the description of this one made it look like slightly madcap fun. The positives of star crossed lovers, a stolen painting with Deep Significance and lots of family connections are undone by a meandering plot and dry romances that seemed to drag more slowly the further I got.

I have to be honest and say that this book sounded better in theory than it turned out to be in reality. Generally I enjoy a mismatched lovers plot – but with the caveat that I know who belongs with whom – which can be a goldmine of opportunity for fun as they and those around them zig zag and backtrack to a HEA . Here I was initially unsure for quite a long time of exactly what the final pairing would be which made me feel off balance. It’s a personal bugaboo but I want to know who to root for romantically. Eventually the pairing became clear but the romances still left me unsatisfied for a number of reasons. First, all four characters are stubborn and too mule headed for most of the book. Watching them crack heads, seemingly willfully disbelieve their own feelings and those of others quickly moved past interesting and into boring. How many times would they spout the same nonsense? How many times would another character attempt to talk sense into someone? How long would the misunderstandings continue? It felt endless. Arianne is practical and Melanie is emotional and they both managed to annoy me as one obstinately refuses to see love in front of her and the other mulishly pushes for love Right Now just because she wants it Right Now. The hero who dodges her sulky self is the lucky one, IMO.

The heroes aren’t much better. Galen has decided he’ll make an offer more because it’s expected, does so and is rejected. His next offer takes place practically overnight and he can’t see that the new woman he offers for has trouble believing his sincerity? At this point he decides to pursue this romance slowly which then drags this relationship to a crawl. Meanwhile, Rhys has muddied the waters by seeking a marriage of convenience despite being madly in love with another but refuses to act on that due to family circumstance. He practically has to be dragged, kicking and screaming into admitting his love and even then refuses to make a bid for true love. At this point, I simply wanted to kick some sense into the four of them as there appeared to be no HEA in sight.

The book is further hampered by one of my least favorite stock characters: the muddle headed, idiot father. Dumbass fathers/husbands who can’t get their heads out of their cracks to realize the appalling mess their moronic selves have created by their endless devotion to something stupid drive me mental. His wife’s health is declining, his eldest daughter is left to try and keep his other neglected children from acting like monkeys in a zoo and daddy dearest can only rarely pull his head out of a fog to acknowledge they exist. Most of the other characters merely wander through the story from time to time in order to force me to try and keep yet another of them straight in my head.

There is a long held secret to be uncovered but by this point, I just barely cared enough to keep reading. With one couple held at arm’s length by the hero’s pride and the other only slowly getting to know each other, the romance is pretty dry here. By dint of skimming I got the the end but the payoff didn’t match the effort expended to get there. D


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