Thursday, August 4, 2011

Welcome Guest Blogger Cherie LeClare

Please welcome fellow Wild Rose Press author Cherie LeClare. Like me, Cherie writes for TWRP's Vintage Rose line with stories set during the Second World War. Unlike me, she's actually visited France! Cherie shares with us today pictures from her visit to France, and some gorgeous shots of her home in New Zealand. Take it away Cherie!

Champagne and Beer

Both my novels are set in 1944 during World War II, the first in Normandy, France(French Kiss) and the second in my home country - New Zealand(Kiwi Kiss).

I wrote French Kiss before traveling to France, so was very pleased, when hubby and I took a coach tour of Normandy in 2007, to find the landscape, dwellings etc. very much as I’d described them – thanks to library books and internet research. Phew, that was a relief!

Spring. Ooh la la, Paris – it really is as magnificent and as beautiful as I’d imagined. At our very first evening meal I tasted genuine Crème Brûlée, yum! Cruising along the Seine river, which flows serenely through the city, my eyes and ears were agog at the magical sights and sounds of Parisians at play in the balmy evening air. We were herded back onto the bus for a tour - the wide tree-lined streets, squares and gorgeous buildings of the ‘new’ part, then a “Quick, look left” instruction from our tour leader to catch a glimpse of the dimly-lit, narrow, preserved cobbled street of the ‘old’ city. 

We were whisked past the Ritz Hotel where Princess Diana stayed and saw the tunnel where she died. The Eiffel Tower lit up the sky in a dazzling light display and we caught part of a military ceremony at the Arch of Triumph.

There are many fountains – they ‘spring’ up almost in every square - and bridges span the Seine at very short intervals – a city perfectly designed for romantic strolls hand-in-hand.
The Normandy(Normandie)countryside is picturesque and peaceful, and the chateaus breathtaking. How I would have loved to spend more time at the elegant 16th century Chateau Chenonceau, built over the Cher river, with two gardens – one for the wife and one for the mistress! It’s hard to believe the excess of aristocratic wealth and extravagance in  centuries past, until you visit these treasures.

Aah, the delightful small towns and villages we explored, with their ancient, cobbled, narrow streets. Plus more artistic fountains. We did champagne-tasting at a Loire Valley cellar, snail-tasting at the Trogladyte ‘La Cave’.

My imagination ran wild at Mont St. Michel – a dark, brooding former abbey and prison built on a high rock on a tidal estuary. “Don’t be late back to the coach,” the tour leader warned, “Or you’ll have to swim.” I later wrote a spooky short story set there.

Last, but not least, French food is to die for! I’ll never forget the Parisian Onion soup – thick and aromatic, topped with a generous layer of melted cheese dripping down the sides of the huge bowl…mmm!

Au Revoir, France, and back home to New Zealand, the setting for my second World War II novel Kiwi Kiss.

New Plymouth, New Zealand
Nelson, New Zealand
New Zealand consists of two islands in the Pacific separated by a stretch of ocean called the Cook Strait. I was brought up in New Plymouth on the North Island but now live in Nelson on the South Island. The whole country supports a tiny population of only four and a half million people.

Southern Alps at Kaikoura
 Both islands have beautiful mountains, beaches, rivers, lakes and other natural scenery, along with sophisticated cities and amenities.

But New Zealand in 1944 was a very different place. Cut-off from the rest of the world by distance, its  population was raw and naïve, champagne was ‘foreign muck’ and beer the working man’s tipple. The American warships, docked in Auckland and Wellington, brought glamour and excitement from the outside world. The Marines had seemingly unlimited access to supplies of war-rationed goods, such as stockings and chocolate. This, naturally enough, made them very popular with the young women. The local men, however, apparently became quite jealous and this caused some scuffles!

New Zealand, today, is no longer the isolated, insular place it once was. In fact, we consider ourselves now to be truly ‘global citizens’.

Please visit my website to read excerpts and reviews of French Kiss and Kiwi Kiss. Here's a blurb from "Kiwi Kiss": 

Nineteen-year-old Ruby Miller knows pain and loss. After catching her fiancé in the arms of another, the last thing she wants is to fall in love again, but handsome American sailor Mac Mackenzie is hard to resist. Mac, too, preparing to leave the South Pacific haven to battle against the Japanese, strives to avoid any emotional entanglement, but since he met Ruby, he's rethinking his decision.
They both know what they want, but when tragedy draws them closer, how long can they hold out against what they both need?


  1. Hi Cherie,

    Great blog and pictures. I too am a Vintage Rose author and am Aussie, so we could be construed as neighbours from down under. I thought France was lovely too. To research a couple of my novels, hubby and I visited the World War 1 battlefields and cemeteries in France and Belgium, a truly poignant experience.
    Best of luck with your novels they both sound great. Like Word War 1, World War 2 seems to be a neglected era when it comes to romance novels.



  2. Thank you, Margaret. All best for your sales, too.

  3. I'd love to see more stories from this era too. Yay for TWRP who have the guts to publish these treasures. I feel I'm honouring the brave men and women when I read stories based on their lives and times.

    Ah - France. Those photos make me want to go back desperately. What a wonderful country it is to visit. One day... : )

  4. I enjoyed this blog very much. Thank you! Each year my husband and I watch the Tour de France and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. Paris looks like an amazing city.

    Also, we used to live next door to a WWII vet who often said New Zealand had the prettiest women in the world!

  5. What a wonderful post. Yay for research/pleasure trips. KIWI KISS sounds like a great read!.

  6. Cherie, thank you so much for guest blogging with me today. I'm envious of you and other writers who have had the opportunity to actually visit France and other WW1 & WW2 sites. That would be an amazing trip. But alas, I'm here slaving away at the day job and hoping to win the lottery!

    I loved your pictures of New Zealand. Such a beautiful part of the world. I'd love to visit one day.

    All the best,

  7. Thank you for having me, Jana! Great to hear from you LaVerne, Lynne and Karyn. And, I forgot to mention that the photos were taken by my husband, Graeme. You can view more of his work at

    Hey Jana, the exchange rate favours your dollar - so saving up to visit NZ may not be as hard as you think!

  8. Jana - When would you like me to do the draw for a winner of one of my books?

  9. Let's do it this Monday, August 8. Maybe we'll get more people read the blog over the weekend.

    Your husband is a fabulous photographer! None of my pictures turn out that good. Congratulations to him!

    So what are you working on these days Cherie?


  10. Ok, good idea.

    My husband thanks you for the compliment!

    I'm working on a Victorian era historical set in NZ. My editor seems keen to see it so I'd better get cracking - glue fingers to keyboard - have only produced a little over 5,000 words so far - yikes!

  11. Beautiful photos and great post, Cherie and Jana! How lucky to have actually visited!

    This blurb sounds fantastic, and I just love those titles!

    My next novel has some parts set in Italy. I would love to visit, just to authenticate the description, but I can't see that happening. Oh well, Google images will have to do!

  12. Thanks for your comment, Joanne. I hope you do get to visit Italy one day.

  13. I have drawn a winner from the hat - drum roll, please... Congratulations Joanne, you have won a copy of your choice of FRENCH KISS or KIWI KISS.