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Meet the author:

Ellen Tanner Marsh

Even though Ellen Tanner Marsh was born in Germany, she was raised in New Jersey (insert a Jersey joke here). That’s probably why she suffered extreme culture shock when her family moved to South Carolina when she was sixteen. According to Ellen, here’s what happened:

It’s hard to be uprooted from a beautiful New England-style town, say good-bye to your lifelong friends, and be dragged nearly 800 miles south by your parents in order to make a new life in an unknown place. I freely admit that the transformation from Jersey Girl to Southern Belle was a rocky one.
This, after all, was my first look at my new home state:

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Things sort of went downhill from there. We drove through hundreds of miles of soybean and tobacco fields to arrive, 16 hours after we started, in a city that could best be described as half asleep. I think the most apt word for Charleston back in the early 1970s was somnolent.

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It was a backward town muffled in insane August humidity, with boarded-up storefronts and locals who told me I’d love living here because “the pace of life is slower in the South.”

Yup. That it was.
But I didn’t know then that Charleston was already beginning to wake up, thanks to the widespread arrival of:

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Air conditioning!
Well, more accurately:

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This is a heating, ventilating, air-conditioning unit (HVAC), known here in the South as a “hee-vac.”  It’s got a heat pump that functions in the winter by pumping cold outside air inside and “extracting” the heat the cold air supposedly contains to warm your house. (Yeah, I know, I don’t get it either—if there’s heat in cold air, I promise it’s tepid at best.)

But with plenty of cooled air available in bars, shops, and homes, and with a visionary mayor determined to put his city on the map, Charleston gradually lured visitors to its well-preserved historic district. (Who knew back then that all those boarded-up houses and stores were historically significant?)

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Okay, so that’s a Second Sunday festival, and King Street is understandably crowded. Here’s a more genteel look at our “Holy City”:

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In the years since my arrival, Charleston has earned accolades for being “America’s friendliest city,” as well as a top tourist, wedding, and culinary destination.

So have I acclimated to living here nearly four decades later? Steeped in history, the Lowcountry of South Carolina is the perfect place for a historical romance writer to live. Not only do the gorgeous antebellum houses provide inspiration, but Charleston’s museums, cobblestone streets, and moss-draped plantations serve as the ultimate “romance laboratory.”

And let’s not forget Charleston’s world-class restaurants and locally sourced food movements. All that—and oysters harvested directly from the pristine waters of Bulls Bay steamed over an open fire—make for one big heck yeah, y’all.

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