Country Roads, Take Me Home, And Maple Syrup: A Giveaway

Book Take Me HomeInez Kelley contacted me about doing a giveaway for her new series that's set in West Virginia. I reviewed Take Me Home in December, and am looking forward to the next few books, in part because of the setting, which is unique – and a place with which I'm pretty familiar.  

After my review, a few other folks tried the book, including Tessa Dare, who said, “Never has maple syrup sex more honestly earned its place in a romance novel.”

Aw, yeah. 

Kelley says that all the Country Roads series are homesick therapy for her – so she wants to give everyone a taste of West Virginia, her home state.

Ready for some fun?

Here's our prize:

  • A quart bottle of maple syrup from Valley Farms Maple Syrup Company
  • 1 ‘My <3 belongs to a lumberjack’ necklace
  • 1 WV State park motif coffee mug
  • 1 Bottle WV Ramp Dressing
  • 1 WV made Cinnamon Bun scented candle
  • Digi-copies of Take Me Home #1 and The Place I Belong #2 with a promised delivery of Should've Been Home Yesterday, #3 pre-release – in other words, the entire Country Roads series.

Says Inez: “The maple syrup was made in Preston County, WV, by Valley Farms Maple Syrup Company. My father in law's company — he made it. He is also in the timber industry, as is my husband. There is no web link yet but I *WILL* drag that man into the 21st century before long. They are the largest privately owned maple-syrup producer in WV, tapping over 700 acres. Last season, they harvested more than 55,000 gallons of sap to get over 1,100 refined gallons of organic syrup. This season looks to be even better.”

Second place winners will each get digital copies of Take Me Home (Country Roads 1) and The Place I Belong (Country Roads 2).

Book The Place Where I Belong Ready to enter?

Just leave a comment, tell us what place is your home, where you're “from,” and what you love about it. It doesn't have to be the place where you were born or where you lived. Tell us about the place you think of as “home.”

Comments will close at noon Wednesday 29 January at noon eastern, and I'll select the winners at random that afternoon.

Standard disclaimers apply: void where prohibited. Open to international residents where permitted by applicable law. Must be over 18 and fond of trees to enter. No computers were harmed during the creation of this entry, though several billion electrons were asked to dance in order to ensure its delivery to your marvelous screen. If you've enjoyed these disclaimers half as much as we've enjoyed making them, then we've enjoyed making them twice as much as you've enjoyed reading them.

I asked Inez about West Virginia and why she loves it, and she said,

Yes, WV born and bred. I didn't even leave my home state when it was time for college. Since then, I've lived elsewhere in the nation but always returned to WV, living in various parts of the state. She is my Mountain Mama. I don't care that there are taller peaks, sharper inclines, or higher altitudes, the mountain vistas of WV are special to me. They really do seem to wrap around me like a hug and make me feel at home, protected and safe.

Favorite place? The Potomac Highlands, which will mean nothing to anyone except those who live there. It is, to me, Almost Heaven. (Yes, I went there and embraced the cheesiness of that phrase)

As for me, I'm from Pittsburgh. I was born and raised there, and I didn't leave until I went to college. It wasn't until I traveled a lot and realized how distinct and unique various part of the US are from one another that I could identify what makes Pittsburgh so special.

But I completely understand Inez's feelings for West Virginia, since I worked for several years at a summer camp in Morgantown, in northern WV, and have such wonderful (and weird – it was camp, after all) memories there.

West Virginia's been in the news lately, though not as much as I would think, given that a chemical spill in the Elk River poisoned the drinking water for more than 300,000 people, closing businesses, schools, and leaving people trying to find water donation centers in rural areas. Yet another spill was revealed last week.

I went searching for opportunities to help, and there weren't many online donation centers. Inez directed me to the WV VOAD Disaster Relief Fund, ℅ the United Methodist Foundation in Charleston, WV. The concept of home is a lovely one, and I know West Virginia is hurting right now. So, separate from the giveaway, I'm also making a donation to the WV VOAD Relief Fund in honor of Inez Kelley and all of y'all. 

I hope you'll share your favorite part of your home with us. Good luck! 

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Jennifer says:

    I live in Melbourne, Australia.  What I love most about Melbourne is that while the city is big enough to support great theatre, music, writer’s festivals and other cultural events, it is small enough that we can be swimming at a great beach or hiking in the hills without having to drive too far.

  2. 2
    Diane says:

    I’m from Renton and I’m a third generation Renton-ite, and from what my niece and nephew tell me we may have a fourth generation.  What I love about Renton has a hometown feel, even as its growing.  I love the fact that Lake Washington is so scenic and beautiful, with a great walking park, and framed with Mt. Rainier, it’s like looking at heaven on earth.  I like that it is so close to Seattle or Tacoma and I can enjoy the first-rate cultural opportunities there and still live in my hometown.  I love that most my family still live there and we see each other often.  I’ve spent the last 22 years traveling around the world, and will be doing so for another 13 and I still consider Renton my hometown.

  3. 3
    jcscot says:

    Home is a portable concept to me – I’m an Army wife, so we’ve moved a lot and I’ve always managed to make our quarters feel like home.  However, true home is where I grew up – Lanarkshire in the central Lowlands of Scotland.  It’s a county that boasts the scars of heavy industry in the bings and slag heaps left by mining and the smoke stained buildings from now-closed steelworks side-by-side with rich dairy farmland and fertile fruit farms of the Clyde Valley.  There’s a distinctive accent and language that make me feel part of a rich cultural heritage.  It was home to David Dale and Robert Owen, Keir Hardie and David Livingstone, Midge Ure and Marion Gilchrist, Stan Laurel and James Black.  It was also home to Edwin Morgan and Liz Lochead the first and second Scots Makar respectively.

    The people are dogged and thrawn and apt to put you in your place if you’ve got a wee bit above yourself but generous and welcoming.  My family have lived there for generations as miners and teachers and it’s always been the place where I am simultaneously comfortable and ill at ease.

  4. 4
    Amy K says:

    Home is Michigan. First the UP, then the Thumb, and now Detroit.
    People here are proud of our (sometimes lousy) sports teams, our Motor City heritage, and our stunning scenery. We’re currently suffering through a hellacious winter, but looking forward to a gray and wet March!
    If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you.

  5. 5
    Laura says:

    I’m from Indianapolis, IN and while I love my home city (Pacers, Colts, Indy 500 – what’s not to love?), my heart belongs to St. Simons Island, GA.  I grew up taking vacations there and it is my wish to retire there someday.  It’s certainly where I want my ashes to be scattered.  It’s not as commercialized as Hilton Head, but similar in feel, so I am told.  The beaches and marshes are equally beautiful and the ‘village’ and pier are quaint.  And the food is fabulous, too!  Ah, now that I am thinking about it, I want to escape this winter freeze we have here and go watch the waves roll in…sigh.

  6. 6
    Helen R-S says:

    Home for me is Melbourne, Australia. Some things I love about Melbourne: our highly changeable weather (often called ‘four seasons in a day’ as you might wake up to a hot sunny day, but that afternoon it could turn cold and wet); the MCG sports ground, the trams, the Yarra River (which is a murky brown colour, so it’s known as ‘the river that flows upside down’), and the fact that a very large proportion of my family and friends live here.

  7. 7
    Penny James says:

    I was born in the English seaside town of Brighton. It sits rather grandly on the south coast of England, and is often referred to as “London on Sea”, because of the large number of Londoners who live there. Many of them are associated with the arts and so it’s become a great place for theatre, visual art, and music.

    Brighton has a history that stretches back beyond the Domesday Book of 1086, but it came alive as a health spa in the 18th century. The Royal Pavilion is a former royal palace that was built in three stages, starting in 1787, as a coastal retreat for George, Prince of Wales. It was built in an extravagant Indo-Saracenic style, featuring the most breathtaking chinoiserie interiors you’ll find this side of New Delhi. A must-see destination.

    In the 20th century Brighton was known as the standard destination for couples manufacturing evidence for divorce on the grounds of adultery, and its seedy, sexual reputation persists. That’s possibly why I love it.

  8. 8
    Maureen says:

    I am from New Jersey but have lived right over the border in Bucks county Pennsylvania for over twenty-five years.  It’s a strange area since many people in our town work in New Jersey or commute to New York.  Our son goes to college in central Pennsylvania and when he explains where he lives there are always people who think he lives in New Jersey.  This area does feel like home though since we have raised our kids here and know so many people here.  Driving past their elementary school or the park where they played definitely makes it feel like home.

  9. 9
    brittany o says:

    New Orleans is my home, but I’m from the midwest. Home for me will always be the city where I became myself and followed my dreams.

  10. 10
    TrishJ says:

    My adopted home is Florida and I love the beaches.  You can travel west, east or south and find a beach.  The weather is pretty good too.

  11. 11
    Lisa McCombs says:

    The Center of the Uiverse, Bemis, West Virginia, is my Sanctuary. Nestled neatly atop Shaver Mountain in Randolph County, there is no better elixir for the body, mind, and spirit. Tension falls from my person as soon as my vehicle touches the gravelled pavement of Glady Road. No matter what time of year, I find solace in Bemis. This is my home among the hills. Ahh…makes me want to brave this winter storm and head there right now.

  12. 12
    Inez Kelley says:

    Lisa, I’ve been to Bemis! I went to D & E College.

    Amy K. – I live in Michigan now and I am TRYING to get used to it. The UP has hills but I’m in the flat part near Lansing. No one told me the state bird was a MOSQUITO! Or that moving 600 miles north would mean HOTTER summers. The did warn me that Michigan got snow but I lived in WV ski country. Snow I can handle.

  13. 13
    Natalie Hart says:

    I grew up in Toronto and think of that as home—I love the blend of big city cultural opportunities and ethnic diversity, with the fantastic park system, with the proximity to the lake and beaches. But for the purposes of this question, the place I think of as “home” is Canada. The rocks of the Great Canadian Shield, the round vowels, the polite pride, the ability to take a joke at our expense … these make me feel all is right with the world.

  14. 14

    I’ve lived in North Central Florida for all of my adult life. While the actions of our state elected officials sometimes drive me crazy, all it takes is an afternoon floating under the oaks in one of our area’s burbling springs to recharge my batteries.

  15. 15
    EmilyD says:

    I’m a Jersey girl now living in PA. I loved growing up in Jersey – close enough to drive down for a day at the shore and tons of malls within driving distance. And the food. Trenton pizza was the best and the food in general was so delicious(ly bad for you but delicious). We’re not terribly far and get in often to visit with our families, but a part of me is sad that my 3 kids aren’t Jersey-born.

  16. 16
    Rebecca says:

    I was born in southern WV and raised in southwestern VA. I am currently living in Togo, West Africa and think of it as home (for now). Home is where my husband is, which is good cause we are probably going to live in some wild places over the next decade or three courtesy of his job! I am so happy to see positive portrayals of WV in media. Too often people want to focus on the often mythical or rarer denominators such as Buckwild or Swamp People etc.

  17. 17
    Karin says:

    Home is a specific corner of Ringwood NJ in the Ramapo Mountains, where I grew up. I will always have a strong bond and a sense of stewardship about that place. It’s too complicated to explain here but I just blogged about it recently. http://www.thehistorygirl.com/2013/12/preserving-nature-and-architecture-at.html

  18. 18
    Inez Kelley says:

    Rebecca. YES!!  All of my characters have their teeth, haven’t married their sisters and do wear shoes most of the time. Sharing a brief funny: I was sixteen and had been chosen as one of two teens from West Virginia to go to the Capitol in Washington DC for some type of Youth Summit program. I was shocked how many top level students didn’t even know that West Virginia was a state completely separate from Virginia.

    One kid from California asked if we had to wear shoes to school or were those saved for special occasions, like inbred weddings.

    Without thinking, I whipped around and said that shoes were mandatory in school but panties were optional and he could pucker up and kiss my Hillbilly ass.

    Yeah, got in trouble for that one. But now I’m an adult!

  19. 19
    RITA says:

    Well I was born in TN and really miss living there. My husband and I are retired Navy and have lived our adult life mostly here in San Diego. What I miss about home is the small town and beautiful country side. But the nice thing about CA is I can drive to the desert , mountains, ocean, and country side in all different directions.

  20. 20
    rayvyn2k says:

    Born and raised in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. I live in Tennessee now, but Ft. Lauderdale will always be home for me. I often find myself, when I’m depressed, crying that I want to go HOME. And I’m not talking about my house here—but the blue skies and warm breezes of the South Florida coast.

  21. 21
    Sarah H says:

    I feel at home in my kitchen in Virginia- it’s become my place to cook/write/push for homework to be done/read/feed.  I also feel at home on the deck of my parents’ house in New York- looking over the same valley that I observed since I was a toddler, wondering if the deer ever see me. 
    May I just say that I love it when maple syrup works its way into a book?  There’s a sugar shack in my hometown, and every year when I saw the buckets fixed to the maple trees- followed few weeks later by the sweet smell of boiled sap- my heart would do a little dance.
    I’m definitely buying this book if I don’t win, but I would love to try some WV syrup.

  22. 22
    Shae Connor says:

    I’m in this mainly for the maple syrup. I LOVE this series. Inez knows. I stalk her on Twitter about it enough. ;)

    My home is Georgia. Yes, all of it. I love the beaches on the coastline, the flatlands where I grew up, the rolling Piedmont that keeps the gnats at bay, the city of Atlanta (my favorite in the world), the forests, the rivers, the foothills, and the mountains. I love St. Simons and Jekyll, and Tybee, where I set my first novel. I love Albany, where I was born. I love the Colony City of Fitzgerald (founded as a retirement community for both Union and Southern soldiers after the Civil War!), where my family lives and which feels most like a true hometown. I love the view of the downtown Atlanta skyline from atop the parking deck of my apartment complex. I love the veins of granite that run fingers throughout the metro area and rise from the ground to the east to form Stone Mountain. I love lightning bugs in the evenings and the clear, deep blue of an October day.

    I spent three and a half years living in southern New Jersey, and while I liked it there well enough, I couldn’t help but remember Lewis Grizzard’s words while he lived in Chicago: “If I ever get back to Georgia, I’m gonna nail my feet to the ground.” :D

  23. 23
    susan says:

    i was born on Long Island, and although I don’t live there anymore, the beaches on the South Shore remain home for me. My other ‘home’ is any place with four seasons. California is fun to visit, but I like winter and I like summer, and all things between.

  24. 24
    Andi Leigh says:

    I grew up in a small town in South Dakota and all of my extended family lives in Minnesota.  While there isn’t too much to do in my home town, unless you count farming and beer drinking…but the skies there are beautiful.  Since we have no trees, you get a beautiful panorama of the sunsets.

  25. 25
    Jess says:

    I was born and raised in Texas and that will make me a Texan forever and always. I moved away five years ago and have no intention of going back but I will always think of it as my home. If you haven’t been to to the Lone Star State, I recommend you visit. It’s like no other place in the US. My husband (from Massachusetts) still talks about how it is like being in a different country.

  26. 26
    Priscilla says:

    Lived a bunch of different places.  Now I am an Okie.  Home is where I bump into and chat with people at the grocery store, know where the romance books are shelved at the public library, and can locate all the best parks.

  27. 27
    Jen says:

    I am from just outside of Boston, where I still live. While I hate the cold weather, I love the people, my friends and the fact I have the ocean, nature and the ability to see other places if I want to.

  28. 28
    VandyJ says:

    Home for me is Wyoming.  The least populous state with wide open vistas, mountain views, plains and the great outdoors.  My favorite place is the Snowy Range mountains.  Either camping or just trying to find a dirt road we haven’t trundled down, I’m the most at ease and relaxed in the mountains.

  29. 29
    Vicki says:

    I currently live on the northern California coast which is a place I have kept returning to much of my life. When I was in med school, my best friend and I would drive here for long weekends, I chose an internship in San Francisco and would drive up on Saturdays with friends, I came for vacations, and I have lived and worked here at two separate times. I love the weather, even the rain (for which we are now praying). It is rarely too hot or too cold. I love the scenery. I love hearing the ocean from my bedroom even though I live in town, half a mile inland.

  30. 30
    KarenF says:

    I’ve been living in Minneapolis, MN for over 20 years now, but home will always be Vienna, WV (right on the Ohio River, just down the road from Fenton Art Glass factory).

    Whenever we’d come back from family vacations, we always sang “Country Roads” as soon as we crossed over the bridge /border into West Virginia.

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