Blog by VONNIE DAVIS -- International, Award-Winning Romance Author: Adventurous...Humorous...Amorous.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I've got an early Christmas present for y'all today. A free armchair tour of Amsterdam, a city I long to see. Although Calvin stayed there for a short while in his younger years, I've never had the pleasure. But today my Scottish friend and fellow Wild Rose Press author, Nancy Jardine, is taking us on a short tour of a city she loves, just as I love Paris. She's brought along a couple pictures from her trip to Amsterdam in April to share. And she's also brought along another gift, a copy of her latest release to award to one lucky commenter. So don't wander off...
It’s wonderful to visit you again, Vonnie, especially since it’s only 5 days since the launch of my latest ancestral mystery-Topaz Eyes-from Crooked Cat Publishing. I know you have an affinity with fabulous European places, especially Paris, and hope you’ll enjoy me writing about another brilliant European city. Amsterdam is only one of the cities that feature in Topaz Eyes, though in my blog tour spots I’m featuring the other places as well. (Details for those posts

 There’s a *GIVEAWAY* e-copy of Topaz Eyes going to one lucky commenter today, so read on to find out how it could be you! 

What do I love about Amsterdam? 

I have an empathy with Holland that has been acquired through many short visits, and a longer residence of three years. The fact that my two daughters were born in Holland has significant impact on my feelings for the country, though I have no family connections in Holland at all. My reasons for being there were similar to many others-my husband’s job was there for a while. It is relevant, though, that friendships made some time ago can give the basis for writing ideas at a later date. I wonder if the readers of Topaz Eyes would be able to work out what I have included in the novel that was, in fact, true for us as a family?

I always feel familiar with Holland when I return, even though my residence there ended some thirty years ago. I love all its cities for many different reasons, their quaintness and style a visual delight. They do say a writer should write what they know, so it was inevitable that I should include Holland in one of my novels.

Teun Zeger and Keira Drummond, in Topaz Eyes, have some very exciting moments in Amsterdam- a city of exciting streets and waterways. The canal system is extensive, the sizes of the canals determining their Dutch name. The canal that features in Topaz Eyes is part of the main Amsterdam canals system, the ‘grachts’ being wider waterways, forming the concentric rings around the old city centre.  

Browersgracht was my chosen site for a little bit of excitement. Very similar to many other canals, the streets that flank Browersgracht are cobbled; often very busy with car traffic and the typical plain bicycles that are almost interchangeable- and in fact often are. I’ve never cycled in the city of Amsterdam- though I did around the village I lived in, which was about a forty minute drive from the city. In Amsterdam I believe it is still common to park your bicycle and go back and find another in its place if yours is not securely locked up. Padlocking and the lack of, feature quite dramatically in Topaz Eyes at Browersgracht.

The main streets of Amsterdam throng with visitors and locals alike, the tall narrow buildings jostling with each other for space. Some of the quaint buildings seem lopsided, as though leaning against the next one, and in fact they are since in some cases the foundations are sinking. The architectural styles do vary a lot even though the general appearance might initially seem common. The roof tops and gables are fascinating to view, as are the painted hues of the brickwork.

Tourist venues are numerous and seem to be on every corner of the old city centre, which is quite extensive. A good tramp around is often easier than finding places by taxi or car, since traffic can slow the process down a great deal- though the cobbles are hell on the feet. A good pair of well-fitting Dutch wooden clogs can solve that problem, of course!  How does the heavy traffic affect Teun and Keira? Sorry… you’ll just have to read Topaz Eyes to find out. The museums are plentiful- the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh being larger venues, though there are many other small ones including Anne Franks House which I’ve visited on a few occasions. It’s a place that can affect one very greatly and well worth the usual lengthy queuing to visit. Years ago, I wandered around the museums many times with a baby in a sling, and later with the elder in a stroller, and never saw everything that was on offer.  

Of course if you’re so inclined there’s also the Red Light district that draws plentiful tourist traffic, day and night. And there’s the long pedestrianised shopping street- Kalverstraat- that has shops selling everything you can imagine. Kalverstraat also features a little in Topaz Eyes. There’s wonderful food on offer…and funnily enough that has popped into my Topaz Eyes as well!  I’ve devoted another whole blog to the writing of that part of the novel, since it involved a situation that writers need to beware of. (Again check my blog for that particular BEWARE post.)

I hope my little taste of Amsterdam has whetted your appetite. It’s such vibrant city that a visit at any time of day, any time of the year, to the central areas is quite fantastic.

Thank you so much for allowing me to be here today, Vonnie. I loved writing about Amsterdam and hope your readers enjoyed their mini-trip to this lovely city, too.


What details can you add about Amsterdam? It can be anything, so long as your answer includes the word Amsterdam!

Please leave your answer in the comment box, and your email address, to be entered into the draw for an e-copy of TOPAZ EYES.  (Draw will take place on 14th December)


Topaz Eyes Blurb:

 A peculiar invitation to Heidelberg embroils Keira Drummond in the search for a mysterious collection of extraordinary jewels once owned by a Mughal Emperor; a hoard that was last known to be in the possession of Amsterdam resident, Geertje Hoogeveen, in 1910.  

Who among the progeny of Geertje – hitherto unfamiliar third cousins brought together for the quest – can Keira rely on? Distrust and suspicion among them is rife.  

Which one is greedy, and determined enough, to hire thugs to tail her… and worse… as she travels to Vienna and Minnesota?  Can Keira even trust Teun Zeger - a Californian she is becoming very drawn to – as they pair up to unearth the jewellery?  

As they follow a trail of clues, will they uncover the full collection before the hired gun kills them? Details remain furtive and undisclosed until danger and death forces their exposure. And who harbours the ultimate mystery item that is even more precious than the Mughal jewels?  

Greed, suspicion and murder are balanced by growing family loyalty, trust, and love.  


“Would you ditch the mystery, Jensen, and just enlighten me as to what you think I have that interests you? And tell me why you couldn’t have asked for it in the letter you sent to me? I came here of my own free will – granted – but I’m not hanging around any longer if you’re going to drag this out, for I’m damned sure I’ve no idea what you’re referring to.”

Jensen’s reply lacked emotion, his face a blank screen, his gaze focused on Teun as Keira regarded the by-play.

“Teun. It may come as a surprise to you, but you actually know more about this invitation than Keira. At least you knew from my letter I had something of family interest you might be glad to take back to the USA with you. Keira had no such suggestion made to her.”

Tension rose in the room, which didn’t only radiate from Teun.

Keira sat uneasy, also unwilling to be in the dark any longer. “Would you please explain why you think I may have something you want, Herr Amsel?” She found herself reluctant to use his first name, considering the antagonism now mounting.

“All in good time, Keira. And please call me Jensen. I don’t set out to be anyone’s enemy. I believe each of you can provide access to items belonging to the collection. All the pieces are likely to vary in monetary value but, viewed as a complete entity, it will make an impressive display. It’s a historic set… and unique.”

 Author bio:

An ex-primary teacher, Nancy Jardine, lives in the fabulous castle country of Aberdeenshire – Scotland. Her husband mans the kitchen, her offspring only an hour’s drive away. When time permits, ancestry research is an intermittent hobby. Neglecting her large garden in favour of writing, she now grows spectacularly giant thistles. Activity weekends with her extended family are prized since they give her great fodder for new writing.

A lover of history, it sneaks into most of her writing along with many of the fantastic world locations she has been fortunate to visit. Her published work to date has been two non fiction history related projects; two contemporary ancestral mysteries; one light-hearted contemporary romance mystery and a historical novel. She has been published by The Wild Rose Press and Crooked Cat Publishing.


Topaz Eyes is available in e-book formats and print from  and e-book formats from

Book trailer Youtube video for Topaz Eyes can be viewed at


Other books by Nancy Jardine can be seen on  


Nancy Jardine said...

Hi Vonnie! It's so good to return to Vintage Vonnie. I hope your readers will have some lovely comments that I can respond to in a little while. Right now I'm off to buy our 'real' Christmas tree. We usually look for one around 9 feet, but often end up with one that's far too ambitious for our hall! See you later.

Lola R said...

I think it's awesome to read how you see Amsterdam. I live in the Netherlands and have been to Amsterdam a few times, but I don't like the city. It's always so busy and there are so many tourists around (although there is a huge english bookstore in Amsterdam, one of the few english bookstores in the netherlands). It is wonderfull to see how someone else experiences this same city so different.

Vonnie Davis said...

Nancy, I'm thrilled to have you here today. I slept in this morning. My eyes were tired from too much time at the computer yesterday with no afternoon nap to refreshen them.

Vonnie Davis said...

Lola, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I hope you'll stop in again. I think when we visit any place new, our eyes see more than those who see it often, perhaps because we know we might never get the chance to visit again. I feel that way about Paris. We have touristy spots here in the States, too. Crowded, loud and too busy for my tastes, so I know exactly what you mean.

Maddy said...

I've not visited Amsterdam for probably twenty years. I'm also neglecting the garden but I haven't noticed any thistles--yet.

Nancy Jardine said...

Hi Lola. It's true that you can see a place differently when you live there. 33years ago there was a huge bookstore, in Amsterdam, called The American Bookshop and it was my lifesaver. In those days I took a bus into Amsterdam and would buy the fattest possible books for the smallest amount of Guilders (pre- Euro). Books in English were not common back then in Holland, and the TV had no coverage by satellite or BBC.

Nancy Jardine said...

Maddy - Thistles are now my favourite plant, but when they grow about 6 feet maybe less so!

Lynne Marshall said...

My husband's father and grandparents were from the Netherlands. I'd love to visit one day.

What a lovely new author picture, Nancy. I love it!

Topaz Eyes sounds very interesting.

Nancy Jardine said...

Hi, Lynne. Holland has so many contrasting things - quaint and bang up new that there to be something there for all to admire. Thank you about the bio pic. I've let the opriginal 'avata' though as it's the better known me!

Nancy Jardine said...

Hi, Vonnie. Need to pop off for some zzzs. Got a 5.30 am rise tomorrow to collect granddaughter, but I'll check in again when I return. Sorry if I miss responding right away - blame geography!

Lilly Gayle said...

I always love hearing about your books.And now here's another one to add to my TBR list! Love the pics of Amsterdam too. My husband and I visited in April 2011. We even made it to the tulip festival. Seeing your pics makes me long to visit again. Thanks for sharing.

Nancy Jardine said...

Hi Lilly. The bulbs are so beautiful. Thanks for popping in.

Nancy Jardine said...

Hello, Vonnie. My granddaughter has very kindly drawn the name for me from the people who responded, and the winner is....
Lynne Marshall! (I'll email Lynne) Congratulations to Lynne and my thanks to you, Vonnie, for hosting me on my tour. Have a lovely run up to Christmas.