Feature Friday Block Party Blog Hop!

Hi everyone and Happy Friday! I'm participating in the very first Feature Friday Block Party Blog Hop. Please Twitter #FF me with @RomanceMeBlog. I've brought Triple Strawberry Cake, and I'm featuring The Disenchanted Widow by Christina McKenna!

1 (18.25 ounce) package strawberry
cake mix
1 (3 ounce) package flavored Jell-O®
4 cups water
2 cups frozen whipped topping, thawed
2 cups strawberries, sliced

1. Prepare cake according to package directions. Bake as directed for a 9x13 inch pan. Allow to cool.

2. Prepare the strawberry gelatin according to package instructions, using the 4 cups of water. Pour over cooled cake while still in liquid form; the cake will absorb it. Chill in refrigerator for 2 hours, or until gelatin is set.

3. Spread whipped topping over cake and top with sliced strawberries.

~About the Book~

It’s 1981 and Belfast is burning. So, too, is freshly widowed Bessie Halstone: she burns with a desire to break with her troubled past. With her feckless husband gone, she leaves home hurriedly with her naughty nine-year-old son, Herkie, and not much else. The Dentist, an IRA enforcer, is on her tail. He’s convinced that Bessie, with her “yella hair all puffed up like Merlin Monroe’s,” has absconded with the takings from a bank heist.

But car trouble strands mother and son in Tailorstown, a sleepy Ulster village. Bessie finds temporary work as housekeeper for the handsome and mysterious parish priest.

In the meantime, Lorcan Strong, an artist and a native of the village, is summoned home. He’s been shanghaied into forging paintings for the IRA. It’s work he cannot refuse; his mother and their business are under threat.

Yet things are not what they seem in quirky Tailorstown. There is a “sleeper” in the village. But who? Bizarrely, it is young Herkie, due to his childish curiosity, who unravels the mystery and saves the day.

~About Christina McKenna~

Christina McKenna is an author who was born and grew up in Draperstown, Northern Ireland. She attended the Belfast College of Art where she obtained an honors degree in Fine Art and studied postgraduate English at the University of Ulster. In 1986, she left Northern Ireland and spent ten years teaching both subjects in Madrid, Istanbul, and Milan.

McKenna was, at the same time, pursuing a successful career as a painter. She mounted several exhibitions of her work, both as a solo artist and in group context when abroad, but also on her return to Northern Ireland.


My Mother Wore a Yellow Dress (2004 Neil Wilson Publishing, Glasgow, Scotland) is a memoir that charts her struggle to make sense of the hidebound Catholicism of her childhood, and how art and poetry freed her to follow a more spiritual path. Christina has reworked and updated this title, and it’s now available in both Kindle and paperback.

The Dark Sacrament (2006 Gill & Macmillan, Dublin) co-authored with her husband, David M. Kiely, contains nine contemporary cases of exorcism in Ireland. A special American edition was published in October 2007 by HarperOne, San Francisco. It contains additional material.

Ireland’s Haunted Women (2010 Poolbeg Press, Dublin) is a collection of true-life ghost stories set in the Ireland of the present day. The cases range from the bizarre to the utterly chilling, as Christina faithfully records the testimony of ten women visited by the paranormal. In contrast to other collections in the genre, all the cases are told here for the first time.

The Misremembered Man, her first novel, is set in rural Northern Ireland in 1974. It’s a tragi-comic work, which charts the progress of a lonely farmer in his attempts to find a wife. All the while, he is pursued by dark ghosts from a less-than-happy childhood.

The novel was rejected by every notable publisher in Ireland and the UK. "After the thirty-fourth rejection I stopped counting," says Christina. As a last resort, she decided to try her luck Stateside. "It was the same old story. Again I lost count of the number of houses who said ’no.’ But my tireless agent at the time, Bill Contardi, would not give up and continued sending it out. We were down to the last two when, finally, a small house in Connecticut, the Toby Press, said ’yes’." In 2009 the hardback version was published.

The Toby Press ceased trading in 2010 and the novel might have sunk without trace had Amazon Encore not stepped in. They published the paperback version of the novel in May 2011.

The Misremembered Man in Amazon

Since 2011, The Misremembered Man has sold well in excess of 500,000 copies, garnered over 2,500 reviews, held the Number 1 slot in Literary Fiction on Amazon.com during the Spring of 2013, has been translated into German and Spanish, with a Lithuanian translation in the pipeline. Contrary to press reports, the film rights to this title have not been sold and are still up for grabs.

Her latest novel, The Disenchanted Widow, set in the same fictional village as The Misremembered Man, was published on 27 August 2013.

She is working at present on a third novel set in and around the fictional village of Tailorstown. The Godforsaken Daughter will be published in 2015, and it sees the welcome return of the inimitable bachelor farmer Jamie McCloone.

Let's go join the rest of the party guests!


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