No longer in print
The enduring love story of two generations of the McQuaid family unfolds on the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu. It is a tale of love and passion complete with an intriguing mystery. The picturesque backdrops of San Francisco, Venice and the magnificent island of Corfu add the crowning touch to this captivating story.
Unhappily married for many years, renowned archaeologist Ian McQuaid meets the love of his life while recuperating from an illness contracted during a dig on Crete. Maria Calbrese, a stunning young Italian artist, is a miracle sent to him at the lowest point in his life.
A generation later, Ian’s daughter, Brit, just out of a disastrous love affair, discovers to her shock that her father has left her a villa on Corfu. In his last letter to her, he discloses that while married to her mother he had an affair on Corfu. He asks Brit to go to the villa, to find Maria Calbrese and to deliver a package to the woman he once loved.
Brit’s journey takes her from San Francisco to Athens, to the villa on Corfu, and finally to Venice, where she discovers a truth, long hidden, that holds the power to destroy lives.
During the course of her odyssey Brit meets and falls in love with Andreas Leandros, a young Greek Archaeologist, and while uncovering the secrets of her father’s past, she discovers her own future.
PUBLISHED BY REBEL INK PRESS
Escape Rating A - Review from 'Reading Reality'
"The Memory of Roses by Blair McDowell is simply an incredibly lovely story. It’s also a love story, and a story about finding yourself, and about closure. The theme running through the book is “all’s well that ends well.” The story goes very well from beginning to end. The life that it tells, that definitely has some rough patches. But it ends very, very well." ....read more
5 out of 5 stars - Review from 'Melissa Haggerty' on Readingitall.blogspot.com
"I just love a good romance. I am so happy that I was given the chance to review The Memory of Roses. It would fall into that category of a great romance. The story line was so wonderful, the setting was gorgeous, and the characters were so amazing.
Brit was wonderful to read about. She has lost faith in love and trust, and watching her find it again was something I loved most about this book. I love when a character grows during a story, and Brit truly did. Blair McDowell did such a perfect job of telling Brit's story."
4 out of 5 stars - Review from 'Poison Rose' on PickedbyPoison.com
"An excellent true romance with a touch of mythology to make it genuine. I loved seeing Brit grow and Andreas change together to adapt to each others way of life. When they are together they work in unison, two halves make the whole. Highly recommend for those who like a touch of history and growth in their stories. A strong 4 of 5 for Memory of Roses." ....read more
5 out of 5 stars - Review from 'Book lover' on Amazon.com
"This was a thoroughly enjoyable read, well written with interesting and engaging characters. Enjoyed reading/learning about Corfu and Venice which were accurately portrayed. Loved the surprise ending."
5 out of 5 stars - March 5, 2012 - Review from 'HLMJH' on Amazon.com
"Blair McDowell is the next popular woman's novelist. Memory of Roses is a spellbinding, well written story from the first page to the surprise ending. I couldn't put it down. Two of my friends, well educated, discerning readers, borrowed my kindle to read it and they also loved the book. I can't wait to read her next, "Delighting in her Company". Hopefully it will be out soon."
Excerpt from 'The Memory of Roses':
It was on June eleventh that he met her. He had gone to Adriatika for his evening meal. It was a week night and he had lingered over his late afternoon swim. By the time he arrived, the few other diners were well into their meals.
“What have you for me tonight, my friend?” he asked.
“Ah! You are in luck. We have Rabbit Steffado and I’ve kept a portion back for you.”
Ian settled into his chair at his regular table and opened his book. He’d long had the habit of reading in restaurants until his food arrived. It kept him from feeling lonely.
He heard a commotion at the door and glanced up from his book to see a stunning young woman in conversation with Yiannis.
“Of course you are not too late, Signorina,” Yiannis was saying as he showed her to a table. “We always look forward to your return in June. Did you have a pleasant journey from Venice?”
“Pleasant enough, Yiannis. I hope you have some of your Rabbit Steffado for me tonight. I’ve been looking forward to it for months.”
“Alas, I am afraid the last portion was just ordered by someone else,” he said, nodding in the general direction of Ian’s table. “But I have a very nice fish if you’re interested.”
“Hmm. I’ll think about it. Meanwhile, if you could bring me a pitcher of your good house wine…”
Ian went back to reading his book. Suddenly he sensed that he wasn’t alone. He looked up to see the woman who’d just entered the restaurant standing at his table, a brimming pitcher of wine in her hand. She was tall and full breasted, her long ebony hair swung loosely to her shoulders and her eyes were dark and lively. Her face could have come from a Botticelli painting, beautifully oval, classically Italian. She wore a low necked blouse that seemed to fall off one shoulder and a full skirt that emphasized her small waist.
He realized with a shock that she was speaking to him in English and that he hadn’t heard a word she had said.
“I beg your pardon?”
“I said I assume you speak English since you’re reading a book in that language. If you’d rather, we could speak in Italian. My Greek is a bit primitive.”
Confused, Ian managed to stutter, “English will be fine.”
“Good. I have a proposition for you.” She smiled.
Ian thought whatever it is the answer is yes. He merely nodded.
“You,” she resumed accusingly, “you have ordered the last portion of Rabbit Steffado. I’ve been looking forward to Rabbit Steffado for months. I propose that we should enjoy that rabbit together. There is always enough for two in Yiannis’ portions. Meanwhile we can order some of Catarina’s eggplant and a salad to start and,” here she held up the pitcher, “I already have the wine.” She waited expectantly.
Ian threw back his head and laughed for the first time in months. “Please,” he said, getting up quickly and pulling out a chair for her, “Be my guest. I’m Ian McQuaid.”
Over the eggplant she told him she was from Venice and that her name was Maria. “I always spend six weeks here at this time of the year. And this is my favorite restaurant on Corfu. I always came here on my first night back.”
They worked their way through the appetizers laughing and chatting about their experiences on Corfu as if they were old friends.
The rabbit arrived at the table, steaming and aromatic in its rich sauce. Maria ladled it on to their plates. “So what brings you to Corfu?”
Ian somehow didn’t want to admit his recent illness to this young woman who was the picture of health and vitality. “I was working on Crete and I decided to take some time off. A friend suggested Corfu.”
“What do you do on Crete?”
“I’m an archaeologist. My special area is Bronze-Age societies, the Minoans in particular. Knossos, on Crete, is one of the best preserved Minoan sites in the world. I’ve been working there off and on for some years.”
“You’re an American aren’t you? Your accent isn’t British.”
“Yes. I’m a professor at Stanford University in California. But I spend half of every year in Greece.”
They continued to chat and laugh their way through the rest of meal.
Ian could hardly take his eyes off of her. She was so utterly alive. Her mobile face telegraphed her every thought and mood. When she laughed at his stories her whole face lit up. When she was serious, her eyes held the reflective calm of a mountain lake. He found her utterly entrancing. By the time they’d finished dessert he was wondering how he could prolong the evening, how he could arrange to see her again.
Then he reminded himself that he was still married, that he’d no right to become involved with this young vibrant creature sitting at his table. And that surely she would have no interest in him, a middle-aged man graying at the temples and many years her senior. Regretfully, when Catarina began closing the shutters, he moved to pay the bill. “Please allow me,” he said. “You’ve given me so much pleasure tonight.”
She nodded and rose to leave.
Outside the restaurant, she paused confused, and looked around. “Where’s your car?”
“Actually, I don’t have one. I haven’t found much need for one here. I walk everyplace. The house I’m renting is just up the hill a mile or so.”
“Please let me drive you home,” she said. “I insist. It is small payment for that lovely dinner.”
Ten minutes longer with her, Ian thought. Ten minutes more of her lovely voice and beautiful face. “Of course,” he responded.
She drove efficiently and competently. He watched the shadows and light fall on her face as she navigated the curves of the narrow, winding country road.
“Turn here,” he instructed as they reached the open gates to the property. She came to a stop at the circle in front of the villa. The fountain was splashing, its dolphins alive in the moonlight.
“What a beautiful spot.” She said. They sat in silence for a moment, neither quite willing to end the evening.
“You could come in for a brandy,” he suggested.
They got as far as the front door. Later they could neither of them remember who moved first. They were in each other’s arms, tearing at their clothing, stumbling up the steps toward the bedroom. Frustrated with their slow progress Ian swept her up into his arms and carried her to his bed, covering her with his body. They made love wordlessly, frantically, as if their very lives depended on their being together in this way at this moment.
When the storm had passed, Ian tried to speak. “I had no right to do this,” he said. “I’m married.”
“Of course you are,” she replied. “No man as attractive as you could be single. Not at your age. I came to you willingly, I asked for no commitment. We have here and now. We have tonight. Let’s not ask for more.”
He buried his face in her fragrant hair.