L.G. O'Connor is both a corporate strategy and marketing executive for a Fortune 250 company and the author of an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series and a romantic women's fiction trilogy set in suburban New Jersey. Raine MacDonald, the hero from the first book in the series, appears monthly on Joyce Lamb's USA Today Happy Ever After blog where he shares his favorite recipes in the column Recipes from Raine's Roost (aka Jillian's Kitchen). Learn more about L.G. and her books at her website.
Parts of my life have been defined by distinct and driving passions. Similar to falling in love, a passion makes your eyes light up and your heart race. It can be like an all-consuming lover and can take the form of a hobby, sport, or your life’s work, to name a few. For a good twenty years, the only thing it took to unleash mine was a simple sign that read “Antiques.”
I found my passion for antiques in my mid-twenties during a trip to Scotland with my boyfriend at the time. There’s no doubt that Scotland is on my list of “favorite” things, but more important is my twenty-year journey that started there on the rocky Kirkcaldy beach outside of Edinburgh. The mid-afternoon rain had just drifted out to sea, leaving one of the most incredible rainbows I’d ever seen.
My companion and I wandered down toward the water’s edge to get a photograph from a better vantage point. As we drew closer, we noticed what appeared to be broken seashells littering the shoreline. Instead, what we had found were colorful shards of transferware pottery. We gathered enough to fill our pockets with the intention of making jewelry. Later, we discovered something intriguing: the last local Scottish pottery had been closed for over fifty years, and these shards were nothing more than their ghostly echo.
That experience triggered our hunt for the history of the potteries and an unbroken example of the wares produced there. Although Staffordshire, England was the most well known pottery producer and exporter of 19th century transferware, Scotland also produced wares but for domestic use. We visited a local museum and a few local antique shops until we found a beautiful pale blue and white transferware platter made by Kirk, one of same local potteries responsible for these little reminders of the past.
Little did I know that trip would spur my love of antiques and turn me into an avid collector for over two decades. When I hit my mid-forties, a few things changed, one of them was my decorating taste. I wanted cleaner lines and less 90s Martha Stewart chintz. Plus, I had literally run out of places to display my finds. Then my husband and I downsized from 4,000 square feet to the perfect 1,700 square foot cottage, making the situation even more dire. As a result, I had to cull my collections down to only my favorite pieces, all of which I still love and can’t live without. Some are on display here in my new dining room.
Above are some of my favorite pieces which are kept inside of my 1830s Pennsylvania corner cupboard. Studies in beauty, they all hold stories and mini history lessons.
Although my heart still picks up tempo when I see the odd sign for antiques, in late 2009 I transferred my energy to a new and unexpected passion during a half day class at NYU called “Jumpstart Your Novel.” Since then, writing has been my new and all-consuming lover, leaving little time or desire to continue to add to my collections on a regular basis.
Those shards and that first 19th century Scottish blue and white transferware platter led to a rich collection of British ceramics and my cherished pieces. Even though I’ve moved on to a new passion, nothing can take away the pleasure my collections still give me.
Caught Up in RAINE
Forty-two and widowed, romance writer Jillian Grant believes hospitals equal death. Plagued by loss and convinced more is imminent when her aunt ends up in critical condition after heart surgery, she has come to equate the absence of pain with happiness. When she spots a hot, young landscaper working on the hospital grounds with an eerie resemblance to the male lead in her next novel, she convinces him to pose as her cover model.
Working multiple jobs to put himself through college, twenty-four-year-old Raine MacDonald is no stranger to loss. Behind his handsome face and rockin' body lies family tragedy and agonizing secrets. When circumstances put him back in the path of his abusive father, fate delivers Jillian as his unwitting savior. Thing is, when he thinks of her, his thoughts are far from platonic.
Despite their age difference, Jillian and Raine discover they're more alike than they could ever imagine. But torn between facing her own fears and grasping a chance at happiness, Jillian makes a soul-shattering decision that threatens to blow their world apart.