Thank you to Authors’ Lounge for inviting me to share my novel. My name is Brenda Salamone, and I am an artist and author, who writes under the pen name of Irene Doune.
“The Art of Love” is a contemporary romance about Becca, an artist from San Diego who travels to the Scottish Highlands for a painting workshop and falls in love with more than just the incredible scenery.
My romance with Scotland began in the early 90s, when I first started reading Diana Gabaldon’s “Outlander” series. I knew I had a story of my own to share, but it was nearly two decades before I got up the courage to write it. Challenged to participate in National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) in 2007, I only had a short time to research Scotland as much as possible via the Internet, as travelling there remained out of my reach. When NANOWRIMO concluded, I had a 50,000 word start on a good story, but I wasn’t happy with my bland descriptions of the Highlands setting. Life got in the way, and the story was shelved for many years.
Fast forward to 2016, when my dreams came true and I married my sweetheart in Inverness and honeymooned all over the Highlands. At last, I knew I could truly express what it felt like to be an American artist immersed in that gorgeous country and I was able to complete and publish “The Art of Love” in autumn of 2020.
Back cover blurb from Amazon: The Art of Love: A modern Highlands romance by Irene Doune
Art in the Highlands
California artist Becca Leoni is bursting with excitement when her life-long dream of a painting workshop amongst the mystical places and ancient ruins of the Scottish Highlands comes true. Three weeks of outstanding natural beauty and artistic opportunities galore are just what she needs to finally forget her painful past and move beyond her status as a struggling artist. When she attracts the ire of a filthy, but unforgettable, heritage preservation protester who is more than he seems, along with the interests of a handsome and flirtatious whisky scion, Becca’s still-healing heart is again at risk.
Inspired by the untamed beauty of the Highlands, and under the expert tutelage of her mysterious and compelling instructor, Becca knows her art has never been better, and as her magical time in the Highlands draws to a close, she feels her heart breaking anew.
How can she leave, knowing she’s in love with him…but how can she stay, not knowing if he feels the same?
Scotland is as magical as I always thought it would be, and I would move there in a heartbeat. It’s breathtaking and the people are lovely. While my book is not a travel guide, I hope that readers will be inspired to take their own journeys to explore its beauty and charm. Artists and anyone who loves the thought of venturing outside of their comfort zone can relate to Becca’s story, and I also hope that readers will take away from it to never give up on realizing their dreams. It took over twenty years for me to make it to Scotland, but I now have incredible memories, new friends, hundreds of photos to paint from, and the fulfillment of my dream of writing a romance novel, one that has another story lurking within which is the basis for a future book, set in the same lovely location.
As a fine artist, book illustrator, and scenic painter, writing this novel opened up a whole new way to express myself, and I’m nearly finished with the first draft of my latest book, a romantic thriller set in Northern Ireland. There are more stories in me, and I’m finding ways to balance my art business with my love of writing. I have been fortunate to have travelled all over the world, and my new dream is to add to my memories and research with explorations of Ireland, Iceland, and many more.
Look for The Art of Love on Amazon at The Art of Love: A modern Highlands romance,