Blog Tour: Irish Pride Series by Kemberlee Shortland

Location, Location, Location
We hear it all the time when it comes to choosing space. Whether you want to buy a house, start a new business, or even deciding where to place sales items in a shop. It all comes down to location, location, location. No truer words have been spoken, especially when it comes to setting scenes in your stories.

In the first story in my Irish Pride series, Rhythm of My Heart, I’ve set various scenes all over Ireland . . . Dublin City, Killarney in County Kerry, the Cork and Kerry Mountains, and in Cork City. It’s Cork City I want to talk about today.

First, let me tell you a little about Cork City. Cork is the second largest city in Ireland, it was once a major shipping port, and in medieval times it was surrounded by high walls with guard towers. Today’s main streets were once shipping lanes; merchant houses are still evident in some areas. The River Lee flows from the west into the city but divides at Sunday’s Well into two channels and rejoins in Cork Harbour east of the city, making the heart of the city Ireland’s only island city.

Many famous people are from Cork City and County Cork, many of them rebels, which gives the county its nickname, The Rebel County. Ireland is also famous for naming streets and bridges after notable figures. Cork’s main street is called St Patrick’s Street after Ireland’s patron saint, or Patrick’s Street as it’s usually called. The road travels across Patrick’s Bridge onto Bridge Street, and then up Patrick’s Hill, the steepest city street in the country.

MacCurtain Street (named for Tomás MacCurtain [1884-1920], a Republican rebel and one-time Lord Mayor of Cork City) crosses Patrick’s Bridge at the foot of Patrick’s Hill, and it’s these two streets which feature in part of my story.

In Rhythm of My Heart, the first view of Cork City we have is when Keiran Vaughan is driving through the city to his destination —

Cork city

Kieran cruised through Cork City, making his way up side streets to the top of Patrick’s Hill. During the day, this steep street had a fantastic view over the city. Down the hill and across the North Channel and Saint Patrick’s Bridge to Cork’s main street, Saint Patrick’s Street, was lined with graceful, tall, colorful buildings.

By night, there was an equally fantastic view of a city in lights. Night people wandered the streets going from pub to club, and diners in their fancy clothes were doing ‘pana’, the phrase the locals used for the traditional lovers’ stroll along the main street in the evening.

You can see how pretty the city center looks at night, and what Kieran saw when he looked down Patrick’s Hill that night.

Also in this photo, the yellow building with the patinaed copper dome is Debenham’s Dept Store. Eason’s Bookstore is directly across the street. Both are places where Kieran and Gráinne shop before going to the music store and The Wolfhound Pub.

Another thing making Cork City unique is Patrick’s Street’s curved layout. From either direction, when you’re walking or driving on this street, the buildings always seem to be right in front of you. This is the only street in Ireland like this.

As Kieran suspected he would, he’d slept through most of the morning. Gráinne rose an hour before him, using up all the hot water of course, before coming down to put the kettle on. He needed a few things if he was going to stay with her for a few days and suggested she tag along. He didn’t know a single woman who wouldn’t jump at the chance to shop till she dropped followed by a nice meal. And Gráinne didn’t let him down.

Their first stop was Debenham’s, a modern department store built on the old style after the original building was burned down by the Black and Tans in 1920, as were many buildings in the city. The architecture of the new store blended in with the surrounding older buildings, as was fitting. His and Gráinne’s people were originally from Cork, so Kieran always found himself taking his own walking tour when he was here.

image

Here are some of those houses on Patrick’s Hill. That’s a mighty steep grade to walk every day. Knowing this, the city put in steps on parts of the footpath, as you can see here on the right of the image.

Gráinne lives in one of these houses. And as it turns out, Eilis’s best friend, Megan, also lives on this street. Long terraces line both sides of the hill, broken by a couple cross streets. It’s almost like the Streets of San Francisco on that hill! Probably why Red Bull hosts the Soapbox Derby in the city every year.

 

image

Let’s check out MacCurtain Street. The Victorian period in Ireland is most noted for its red brick buildings. The building here was once the sorting office for An Post, Irish Post. Facing this building is the Gresham Metropole Hotel. These buildings were constructed in the 1850s, post Famine.

 

imageMacCurtain Street is a one way street and it’s the crossroads with Bridge Street when we’ll find Crowley’s Music Centre and the Wolfhound Pub. At one time, Crowley’s was a Cork tradition. Sadly, they closed their doors in the last year because of the recession.

Now, standing in the little music shop on McCurtain Street, Kieran gazed at the guitars on display. Acoustics hung beside six and twelve string steels, which hung beside electrics and bases. All lovely, but by no means the shop’s best.

“What’s yer pleasure?” came the owner’s lyrical Corkonian voice. Kieran turned to see a middle-aged gentleman of lean, average build standing beside him, his face clean-shaven and sincere. He knew this man knew his business frontward and back and always offered the best deals in Ireland. But that was just one reason why he shopped here. “Ah, Kieran!” the man exclaimed. “‘Tis yerself. How’s the craic?”

“The craic is mighty, Ger.” Kieran put out his hand and was met with a solid handshake.

“What brings ye to Cork, boy?” Ger asked, adding in the traditional Corkonian endearment. Kieran grinned at how the man’s accent made two common words sound like ‘cark’ and ‘buy.’

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Now, The Wolfhound Pub . . . When I first came to Ireland in 1997, The Wolfhound was here at the corner of MacCurtain Street and Bridge Stgreet. Today . . . it’s . . . a Subway restaurant! {headdesk} The pub was in the basement of this building and was very popular for live music. It had been there for years, and being across from Crowley’s seemed appropriate.

“Miss Kennedy,” whispered the man who’d assigned himself as her personal assistant tonight. “Can I refill your glasses?” The bottle of Jameson whiskey was already in his hand. She nodded without looking away from Kieran.

“Do you see that man over there?” she asked the waiter.

“Yes, ma’am.”

“Tell your manager he has Ireland’s top blues guitarist in his pub and see if you can get him to perform.” She looked into the young man’s eyes. “And don’t,” she emphasized, “tell him who found him out.” She hoped the look she gave the man told him she’d have his job if he did. He agreed and she watched the man go to another man she assumed was the manager. She’d noticed him earlier standing at the back of the room overseeing the goings-on in the pub.

There was a brief discussion, fingers pointing, then the manager stepped over to Kieran. She was thankful the manager didn’t motion towards her as he spoke to Kieran, but it was obvious he was confused. His woman pushed him out of his chair. He hesitantly stepped up to the stage when the other performers were done with their set.

“Ladies and gentlemen. The Wolfhound is honored to have one of Ireland’s greatest blues guitarists with us tonight,” the manager oozed dramatically. Eilis knew he had no idea who Kieran was, but because she’d mentioned him he took her word for it that Kieran was as good as he was now telling the audience. “Please put your hands together for Kieran Vaughan.” The audience applauded, though not enthusiastically. They had no idea who Kieran was either. But they would.

Eilis leaned over to Megan. “Sometimes it’s very good to be me. Watch and listen.”

The Wolfhound was once very popular for live music — for both bands and singers just starting out in the business as well as for established performers.

You may also notice the big sign on the building which says, “The official pint of us—Murphy’s.” Dublin City has its Guinness and Cork has its Murphy’s. Both are Irish stout . . . black ale. Cork also produces Ireland’s third black ale, Beamish which is produced by Beamish and Crawford, now part of Murphy’s. On wort-making days, you can smell the yeasty fermentation in the air all over the city . . . {drifting . . .}

Sorry. I went away there for a second. Back now!

There has long been a rivalry between Cork and Dublin, Corkonian’s proclaiming Cork is the real capital of Ireland. So sure of their status on this issue, many have gone as far as proclaiming Cork as The People’s Republics of Cork. Gotta love a tryer!

Guinness may be for strength, but Murphy’s is the official pint of us!

See how you’re getting a feel for the city? You’ve learned some city history, geography, and landmarks. You’ve had a glimpse at some of the places Corkonian’s shop and relax, you’ve even heard a bit of the accent which is regional only to the city. What’s more, you’ve caught a wiff of the city air on worting day. AND if you were paying attention, you got the briny scent of the channel water as the harbor water mixes with the river as it flows through the city.

And now that you’ve had this glimpse of part of Cork City, when you read Rhythm of My Heart, or any other Irish story set in Cork, you’ll know what it looks like, smells like, and practically tastes like as you read. If location, location, location doesn’t liven up your reading senses, I don’t know what will.

About the Series
Rhythm of my heartTitle: Rhythm of My Heart
Series: Irish Pride, book 1
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: July 16, 2012 by Tirgearr Publishing
Buy Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N
Synopsis
Artist Representative, Eilis Kennedy, gave up a singing career so that other women could have a fair chance at having their music heard. Having suffered rejection from callous men in the industry, she thought she would get away from ‘casting couch’ mentality. But when she finds herself in the office of Fergus Manley, all bets are off. Disgusted by his continual come-ons and lewd invitations, Eilis is looking for ‘the one’ who will take her career to the next level, getting out from under Fergus’s controlling thumb.

Aspiring blues guitarist, Kieran Vaughan, is looking for his big break. But after suffering near bankruptcy at the hands of an unscrupulous business partner, Kieran is left picking up the pieces. He’s unsure if the debts will ever be paid or if he’ll ever have a chance to do something with his music. At his whit’s end, he’s about ready to throw in the towel and find a full-time job with real hours.

When Eilis discovers Kieran playing in a seedy pub in Dublin’s Northside, she knows he’s the one rare talent she’s been searching for. With her know-how and his talent, Eilis will finally get everything she’s been waiting for. Neither of them count on the powerful attraction from first meeting. Eilis is so rocked by Keiran’s forthright words that it sends her running. Kieran risks being arrested as he chases Eilis across Ireland.

Seeing what’s happening between Eilis and Kieran, anger wells inside Fergus and he steps up his pursuit of Eilis. Refusing to let Kieran get in his way, Fergus vows to add Eilis’s notch to his bedpost, whatever it takes.

Will Kieran be able to protect her?

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Excerpt
Dublin’s Northside looked far different by day than it did at night. Last night’s storm had been one of the season’s worst. Huge puddles hampered traffic, and trash had collected in the corners of doorways and blocked the gutters. The lingering breeze was still crisp and signaled the imminent winter. Wisps of dark clouds streaked the pale blue sky but remained reminiscent of last night’s tempest.

As the taxi drove through Dublin’s inner city, a blur of tacky euro shops, shoddy newsagents and off-licenses, all with shop fronts that had seen better days, flashed by.

Finglas wasn’t noted as one of Dublin’s prime locations. This was a large blue collar suburb in a rapidly expanding city. Lack in a pride of ownership was evident, as residents struggled to make ends meet, which gave the area a rough underbelly. The Little Man Pub was a perfect example of both.

Eilis wrapped her arms around her middle, instinctively protective. Was this the compromise she must face to get where she wanted?

When the taxi slowed at a junction, she pressed herself back in her seat. A group of out-of-work young men sipping something from a paper bag spun their heads and looked at her.

Just this once, just this once, she chanted to herself.

Just this one trip to find Kieran Vaughan and that would be it. She’d never have to come back to this place ever again. She could stay safely tucked away in her D2 house for the rest of her days. She’d worked hard for that house. She deserved it. She deserved it all the more now by putting herself through this.

Long ago, Eilis had vowed never to set foot in the Northside again. But if it took this one last visit to get what she needed, it would be worth it.

The taxi pulled around the corner and the now familiar entrance to The Little Man Pub came into view. Nicotine-stained curtains were pulled across windows, reflecting the unkempt street. The façade’s red and black paint was weather-faded to pink and gray. The ‘M’ on the sign hung askew and swung in the breeze, and the ‘P’ was missing altogether. Had she not been here last night she would have thought the place was shut.

She pulled some money from her purse to hand to the driver. “I’ll wait fer ye, luv,” he said, waving her money away. “Taxis can be hard to come by ‘round here.”

Eilis was suitably taken aback. “Thank you. I won’t be a moment.”

She swallowed hard, got out of the taxi then entered the pub.

Her eyes slowly adjusted to the dark room. The few men sitting around the bar turned their gazes in her direction. Understandably. A well-groomed businesswoman in the pub was surely a novelty. These men were long since retired, or long since employed. Their stubbled faces meant they hadn’t shaved in several days, or possibly weeks. The dim light hid the worst of their unkempt appearances, but nothing could disguise their unwashed clothes. A pong in the room wafted into her nostrils, causing her stomach to lurch again.

Shoulders back, she strode to the bar.

The same man from last night stood behind the counter. He was short and pudgy with missing front teeth. His disheveled appearance made him look like one of his patrons. Had he not been behind the counter she wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference.

His striped brown and white shirt had frayed cuffs and was open to mid-chest, showing a sweat-stained t-shirt underneath. His brown trousers had seen much better days and were held together not with a button or belt, but with a bit of twine looping between his belt loops, his round belly spilling over. The only thing holding up the trousers was his equally round bum. It seemed to push the waistband up in the back as his belly pushed it down in the front. The sight would have been funny if her stomach hadn’t been flip-flopping.

Her voice cracked when she first spoke, but it picked up strength in her determination to make something of this horrid trek. “A-are you the proprietor?”

A broad gap-toothed grin creased the man’s face and, loud enough for his patrons to hear, he said, “I’ll be who ever ye want me to be, luv.”

His friends burst into laughter. Eilis felt the flush rise in her cheeks. Not because she was embarrassed, but from frustration. She just wanted to get this meeting over with and she wasn’t in the mood to spar.

She stood her ground. “I’m looking for the man who played guitar here last night. Kieran Vaughan. We have business. Will you please tell me where I can find him?” She looked the man in the eye, much as she could, considering she stood a good half-foot taller than him, even without her heels.

“No, miss, I doubt you have any business with himself. ‘Speshly a fine lass such as yerself. Now, if ye were to come home with a real man like meself, well . . .” He left the rest unsaid, the insinuation hanging in the air.

Her gaze never wavered as she stared the little man in the eye.

“Sir,” she smiled sweetly, honey dripping from her words. She leaned over the bar just enough to give him a glimpse of the swell of her breast through the opening of her blouse. “I doubt you have anything I would be interested in. Besides, you don’t really want me to find out why this place is called The Little Man, do you?”

This earned the publican long oohs and sniggers from the patrons, who were now on the edges of their seats waiting to hear the disagreeable little man’s response.

Obviously taken aback by such a brazen retort, the man stood gaping and red-faced at her for a moment before he got his wits about him. He winked at the men around the bar. “Oy does like me birds feisty!” That only encouraged more laughter.

Eilis could have enjoyed the banter if only the man wasn’t so repulsive. All she wanted to do was meet Kieran Vaughan and get out of Finglas as quickly as possible.

When the laughing stopped, Eilis’s gaze never wavered as she said, “Well?”

“Well what, loov?” he asked, wiping the tears from his eyes with a dirty bar towel.

“Are you going to tell me where to find Kieran Vaughan?” He was trying her patience, but she did her best to keep the frustration out of her voice.

Then she sensed someone step up behind her and straightened instantly. Somehow she knew it was Kieran. The feral scent of him permeated her senses and quickened her pulse. Butterflies replaced the strange ache in her stomach that had been there just moments before.

She slowly turned and looked up at the most handsome man she’d ever seen in her life. She found herself instantly speechless.

She’d seen him on stage the night before and knew he was handsome. But this close up . . . Never before had she seen such blue eyes. As she gazed into them, they changed from the light steel blue to the color of storm clouds heavily ringed with gunmetal. That he had dark brows and thick lashes only made his gaze seem more intense.

“Ye’ve found him, loov,” said the little man, taunting her. “Now what are ye goin’ ta do with him?”

The hammering of her heart and the pulsing blood in her temples blocked out the noise in the room as she looked into Kieran Vaughan’s eyes. To her dismay, her knees actually quivered.

Something in the pit of her belly ached. No, something else. It was like warm melting honey running through her marrow. In that moment she longed to touch him, to brush the unruly wave of his dark hair away from his face, to feel his lips against the pads of her fingers, to . . .

When he spoke she almost didn’t hear him.

“Like the man said, now that you’ve found me, what are you going to do with me?” His eyes sparkled with unabashed mischief.

“Anything you want me to.”

A piece of my heartTitle: A Piece of My Heart
Series: Irish Pride, book 2
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: January 8, 2010 by Highland Press
Buy Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US | B&N
Synopsis
Mick and Kate thought they were falling in love. Kate hadn’t been just the girl next door. She’d been Mick’s life, and he hers. When an unforeseen force draws them apart they’re left with wounds that refuse to heal. Now, ten years on, Mick’s father’s will should have been straightforward, except his addendum was like ice water in Mick’s face.

It’s essential that Mick and Kate work together to save his family’s farm. Mick doesn’t count on his new manager being accused of murder, and Kate doesn’t expect a dangerously seductive woman from Dublin to claim Mick is the father of her child.

Kate thought she was falling in love with Mick all over again; however this newest revelation is too much for her. She is determined to finally say goodbye to her childhood sweetheart forever, but Mick has other plans for Kate’s future. And none of them involve goodbye.

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Shape of my heartTitle: Shape of My Heart
Series: Irish Pride, book 3
Author: Kemberlee Shortland
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April, 2014
Buy Links: Amazon UK | Amazon US
Synopsis
Gráinne has moved back to Dublin to get her life straightened out. She dreams of college and a better life. She’s working for her brother, Kieran, in his newly reopened pub, The Blues Tavern, but the money isn’t enough to support herself and pay tuition. Moonlighting at The Klub! as an exotic dancer seems to be her answer fast money.

John ‘JD’ Desmond is a detective working undercover in the Blues Tavern. The Klub!, owned by Jimmy Malloy, is being used as a drug front, headed by the notorious Taylor Wade. JD had intended to get Gráinne to snitch for him, but when he falls in love with her, things get complicated.

When Gráinne witnesses Jimmy’s murder, she and JD are forced to go on the run until Wade can be apprehended. Wade lives up to his nickname, The Hunter, and JD and Gráinne quickly find themselves at the end of a gun and running for their lives.

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About the Author
imageKemberlee Shortland was born and raised in Northern California in an area known as America’s Salad Bowl. It was home to many authors, including John Steinbeck, and for a while Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson. In 1997, Kemberlee had the opportunity to live in Ireland for six months where she ended up meeting a man who convinced her to stay. Kemberlee is now celebrating her seventeeth year in Ireland and has been lucky to travel the country extensively, picking up a cupla focal along the way—a few Irish words.

Kemberlee was an early-reader and has been writing since a very young age, and over the years she has published many travel articles and book reviews, as well as worked some notable authors who’ve set their books in Ireland.

After publishing travel articles since 1997, Kemberlee saw her first short stories published, and now has eight published books to her name and half a dozen others languishing in a drawer.

Away from the computer, Kemberlee enjoys knitting and other needlecrafts, playing with her Border Collies, castle hunting, travel, reading, gardening, and cookery. One day she hopes to have time to learn to play guitar properly.

You can find Kemberlee at: 

Website: http://www.kemberlee.com
Blog: http://www.kemberlee.blogspot.com
Blog: http://www.heartshapedstones.blogspot.com
Blog: http://www.hearticles.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KemberleeShortland
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com.kemberlee
Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/kemberlee
Pinterest: Time suck! Not on there. But I’m sure it’s only a matter of time
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Kemberlee-Shortland/e/B003C0F7C6
Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/kemberlee
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2980907.Kemberlee_Shortland
Tirgearr Publishing: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Shortland_Kemberlee

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One thought on “Blog Tour: Irish Pride Series by Kemberlee Shortland

  1. Kemberlee says:

    Thank you for hosting me today. I’m here all day if any of your readers have any questions.

    This series is available on Kindle for just 99c each through April.

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