Today I'm happy to welcome on my blog fellow Crooked Cat author Nancy Jardine, whose historical romance The Beltane Choice, has received many praises and great reviews. Nancy has a new book out this week, "Topaz Eyes", an exciting mystery-romance novel. The story opens in the German town of Heidelberg and here Nancy tells us a little more about this lovely, historical town and why she chose it as one of the settings for her book.
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The Heidelberg of Topaz Eyes
What is it about Heidelberg, Germany, that makes it an incredible destination to visit…and also to write about?
In my ancestral mystery - Topaz Eyes – I needed the initial location to be a European city that has great impact, yet doesn’t have too extensive a tourist centre: Heidelberg was perfect. Keira Drummond is familiar with the old town areas of the Aldstadt, and loved living there as a twenty-one year old student. Her enjoyment of the city itself hasn’t changed when she responds to a mysterious invitation to revisit at twenty-seven - it’s the people she meets that she’s not sure of. Finding herself involved in a family quest for long scattered jewels isn’t what she expected, but being an excellent tourist guide to Teun Zeger is something that’s no hardship.
What is there for Keira to show Teun on their tourist wanderings?
Here’s what I love about Heidelberg – some of which is included in Topaz Eyes.
On arrival at the Aldstadt –the old city- the sense of medieval history hits me immediately. The cobbled streets and the glorious old buildings, so many of which could be a story in themselves, are fabulous viewing.
The Renaissance style Alte Brucke (old Bridge) with its distinctive bridge gates – the Brukentor – is only one of many bridges straddling the River Neckar near Heidelberg. I absolutely love the black tower tops of the Brukentor, which seem reminiscent of the Pickelhaube helmets worn by Prussian soldiers during the nineteenth century. The white towers guard the city and are as imposing as the soldiers who would once have stood sentinel there.
Walk half way along the Alte Brucke and pause. There are the most fantastic views up and down the River Neckar from the old bridge itself, the steep banks opposite the city clothed in dense foliage, dotted at the lower reaches with white walls and red roofs. On a fine day it is easy to spend ages just looking…and admiring.
In the old city itself, a walk of a couple of hours gives you a glimpse of the main attractions. The pedestrianised streets around Bismarckplatz and Hauptstrasse are full of beautiful architecture - though if retail therapy is more your style you’ll find a wealth of distinctive and exciting shops to cater to those needs. The Baroque-style University buildings were of particular interest to me on one visit since my daughter was studying there, for a year, as part of her UK University languages course. (A reader of Topaz Eyes just might spot a parallel there.) A visit to the former students' prison at Jesuit's Church (Jesuitenkiche) is a highlight not to be missed – a tourist trap I gather most students drag their families to view.
A trek up the hillside or a short trip on the Bergbahn – funicular railway - takes you to the huge Heidelberg Castle, a jumble of buildings of different architectural styles. The smallish apothecaries’ museum is fascinating and just had to be included in Topaz Eyes.
If you’re interested in a nice hike up a steep hill then a trip to the Philosophenweg – The Philosopher’s Walk – is a great way to spend an afternoon, the vistas from various outlook levels are fantastic as you climb higher and higher.
This is just a taster to the many attractions of Heidelberg. If you’re interested in finding out more about the other cities I’ve used in Topaz Eyes you’ll find me guest posting in other blogs about Vienna, Amsterdam, Duluth and Rochester (Minnesota USA), and Edinburgh. Please check out my blog http://nancyjardine.blogspot.com for the other blog tour URLs.
Thank you for inviting me to be your guest today, Michela. It’s been my pleasure to highlight a few of the special places in Heidelberg, a city that will always mean a lot to me.
A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.
Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.
Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota? Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?
As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?
Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.
Jensen’s reply lacked emotion, his face a blank screen, his gaze focused on Teun as Keira regarded the by-play.
“Teun. It may come as a surprise to you, but you actually know more about this invitation than Keira. At least you knew from my letter I had something of family interest you might be glad to take back to the USA with you. Keira had no such suggestion made to her.”
Tension rose in the room, which didn’t only radiate from Teun.
Keira sat uneasy, also unwilling to be in the dark any longer. “Would you please explain why you think I may have something you want, Herr Amsel?” She found herself reluctant to use his first name, considering the antagonism now mounting.
“All in good time, Keira. And please call me Jensen. I don’t set out to be anyone’s enemy. I believe each of you can provide access to items belonging to the collection. All the pieces are likely to vary in monetary value but, viewed as a complete entity, it will make an impressive display. It’s a historic set… and unique.”
Topaz eyes will be available in print and e-book formats from 7th December from: www.crookedcatbooks.com
An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her husband mans the kitchen, her offspring only an hour’s drive away. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favour of writing, she now grows spectacularly giant thistles. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.
A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel, The Beltane Choice, also published by Crooked Cat Publishing.
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photos courtesy of Nancy Jardine ©