Many thanks to the generous and gifted Morgan Wyatt for organizing this event, and welcome to my little corner of the Welcome Summer Romance Blog Hop. You have a chance to win the fabulous Grand Prize, an Amazon gift certificate worth $100. To be eligible to win, click on the Rafflecopter giveaway link at the bottom of this post! On top of that fabulous prize, I’m offering a bonus prize of a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky commenter on this blog! As my contribution, I’m posting about a very special summertime place: Red Pine Camp.
How a Family Camp Influenced my Book
Affectionately known as RPC, Red Pine Camp houses its inmates, oops, I mean campers, in rustic (downright primitive) cabins where someone forgot to install plumbing or HVAC. I’ve been doing this for over 25 years, initially with my first husband and two sons, then with my younger son, and now by myself due to the fact that my second husband is not an avid camper. Believe it or not, he prefers accommodation with indoor plumbing and air conditioning.
The ‘flushies’ are an essential part of the RPC experience, along with the sound of loons over Golden Lake, the scent of pine trees, a Tuck Shop across The Grove, the Campers’ Night talent show, long conversations on the bluff overlooking the waterfront, campfires that last until 3:00 am, porch and bench sitting (at which I am an acknowledged expert), crafts, sports tournaments for all ages, card and board games, kiddie and teen programs, and what must be termed a unique dining experience.
Changeover Chicken is Saturday night dinner. Always. Like death and taxes, only somewhat better, Saturday being changeover day, when one group of campers leaves, and the new batch arrives. Although dreaded by many, I think this chicken pretty good, especially when accompanied by a rousing rendition of There Ain’t no Flies on Us, and paired with a refreshing pitcher of Mung. Mung comes with every meal, whether you want it or not. It’s like Kool-Aid, only worse because (a) the water at RPC is filled with sulphur, (b) the mixture is either too watery or too strong, and (c) the kitchen staff often combines flavors, turning it a muddy brown.
Yes, meals at RPC are unforgettable.
So are the cabins. One tiny room no bigger than an average storage shed, and furnished with multiple bunk beds houses an entire family in elegant comfort. Closets? Surely you jest. A pole with dozens of hangers, a few shelves, and several nails hammered into strategic spots on the walls work fine. To enhance the sleeping experience the cabin is generally attached to one or more others. And no description of RPC is complete without touching very delicately upon the privacy factor. To cut to the chase, RPC ain’t known as Camp Lackanookie for nothing.
By now, any non-RPC-er is probably saying, “Why would ANYONE do this?”
Here’s the thing. My annual time at RPC is my very own ‘me-week’—seven entire days where I get to do exactly what I want, where I want, and when I want (except for meal-times, which are cast in concrete). This is the place I re-group, ground myself, and connect with my spiritual side, all in a beautiful setting and accompanied by amazing friends.
I love RPC so much, I incorporated a modified version into my paranormal romantic suspense, THE JAGUAR LEGACY. Scottish archaeologist, Alistair Kincaid, has set up a remote camp in the middle of the Mexican jungle. The layout and setup are loosely based on Red Pine Camp, with one notable exception: in the book, lackanookie is NOT one of the camp downsides.
Excerpt from THE JAGUAR LEGACY: The Camp
Kincaid watched intently as Charley, breathing hard, stumbled into camp ahead of him. She stood stock still at the edge of the area known as The Grove. Tawny wisps of hair straggled around her face as she scanned every inch of his camp. For some strange reason her approval mattered. He reminded himself that a description of his camp would probably appear in the damned article she was determined to write. The alternative was to keep her locked up in solitary confinement for the next week.
Other than a faint panting, she remained silent.
He looked over his camp, this time through a newcomer’s eyes. Objectively speaking the place looked well-organized and comfortable. A double row of tents and wooden cabins, all linked by a raised wooden walkway, lined the lagoon.
Slightly sheepish about his inhospitable reception, he waited for her to catch her breath. Normally, he wouldn’t dream of treating a guest that way, reporter or not. It was her bad luck she’d caught him at a vulnerable moment.
Hoping to make amends for his boorish behavior he pushed his financial woes aside and smiled his welcome-to-my-camp smile. “It’s siesta time. Most of my team’s relaxing.” He indicated four students playing cards beside one of the cabins while an intertwined couple swung in a hammock slung between two palms.
Charley waved away a cloud of mosquitoes and gave him a baffled stare, as if assessing his miraculous about-face in attitude. “Amazing,” she said. “You’ve created a complete community in the middle of the jungle.”
“Aye. Larger cabins sleep six, but most accommodate only two. A few of us have our own personal living quarters. Overall, we’re very comfortable. Raised platforms keep the floor dry and rodent-free.”
Her eyebrows shot up to her hairline. “Tell me you didn’t mention rodents.”
She had an amazing voice, low and musical, even when she was complaining. He could listen to her for hours. “This is the jungle,” he explained patiently. “Animals live in jungles.”
She shuddered. “Tropical rodents are probably the size of Rottweilers.”
His grin broadened. “A few harmless wee mice shouldn’t bother an intrepid reporter like yourself.”
They strolled across The Grove. A radio blasted salsa music into the freshening breeze. A pair of students danced under an overhanging tree, grinding their hips together in time to the music.
Kincaid noticed that Charley averted her gaze and picked up her pace. “Makes me feel like a voyeur,” she muttered.
“Aye. Young love abounds,” he said. “There’s not much else to keep them occupied in the middle of the jungle. Cards, games, books, the occasional party night, and sex. Lots of sex. We’ve already had one marriage, multiple break-ups, and two pregnancies.”
Her eyes clouded. “How sad.”
He shook his head. “There’s no excuse for pregnancy here. We’re proactive.”
She halted and looked at him as if he’d lost his mind. “Good to know.”
He felt compelled to explain. “Affairs and romances are so common on archaeological digs that condoms are considered a staple.”
“Is that a fact?”
Bloody hell. Shifting the duffel bag to his other shoulder he tried explaining again. “Oh, aye. We hand out condoms to the team like Aspirin. You wouldn’t believe the quantities we go through. There’s a whole carton in the corner of the dining area and more coming in with the next shipment.”
Her face turned pink. “Um, well.” She scuffed her feet. “Very interesting. How considerate of you.”
He groaned inwardly. Had he actually discussed condoms? He must be daft. She likely thought he was coming on to her. Not that the thought hadn’t crossed his mind.
The beat of Hot, Hot, Hot by Los Rios filled the uncomfortable silence.
He leaned in closer. “I hope you’ll be comfortable in your tent tonight.”
“I’m sure I will, thank you,” she said in a prim voice.
He smiled. “Ah, good. I aim to please. We may be only a small establishment, and we may not have all the frills of a Hilton, but there are a few advantages and amenities.” He paused for emphasis. “Me for example. I’m a terrific guide.”
Her eyes widened. “I’d prefer air conditioning.”
He spread his arms wide in an expansive gesture. “Air conditioning? You can’t mean that. Air conditioning is run-of-the-mill. Air conditioning is banal.”
“Air conditioning is essential,” she argued. “How about an ensuite bathroom then?”
“Same thing. Boring, boring, boring. No sense of adventure with an ensuite. You’d never encounter the sights and sounds of the jungle at night or enjoy the freedom of the fresh air experience.”
“Treats I could happily live without.”
THE JAGUAR LEGACY (Hot Paranormal Romance, Hot Jungle Love)
With her reputation in tatters, acclaimed journalist Charley Underhill invades a remote archaeological dig, determined to unravel rumors of an ancient curse. If it means avoiding hairy, hungry predators or lying to a charismatic archaeologist with a sexy Scottish accent, brilliant scientific mind, and gaudy Hawaiian shirts, she’s up for the challenge.
Hell-bent on guarding the secret of his latest discovery, a ruined Olmec city hidden deep in the Mexican jungle, Dr. Alistair Kincaid fears a premature press leak will destroy his last chance at success. He won’t let a snoopy reporter, even one with a quirky sense of humor, smarts, and a heartwarming smile, ruin his career. Or steal his heart.
But ancient danger stalks the jungle on velvet paws. Secrets collide as strands from past lives intertwine with the present, drawing Charley and Kincaid into a legacy of danger and murder, shape-shifting and mysticism, romance and redemption. Is history doomed to repeat itself or is a new path possible?
Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/MscwTW
Universal Amazon URL (all countries): http://amzn.to/13PIvaQ
FUR BALL FEVER (A Romantic Crime Mystery that Tickles the Funny Bone)
Amazon (US): http://amzn.to/QqYdOC
Universal Amazon URL (all countries): http://amzn.to/150fiHb
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In closing, my wish for you is that you have a wonderful summer, filled with love, peace, and joy.
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