Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Tangled Tale of Hart's, Heart's Haven

From the Column:
"Falls Facts & Foibles"

by Belle Eyre
Angel Falls Trumpet, Staff Writer

Angels? Yes, of course! At least one per person…

Love? Well, rumor has it this place is some kind of mystical “gateway to romance.” No one who lives here is immune…and sometimes even visitors fall under its power, completely unprepared and often unwillingly.

Family legend? Oh, yeah. And a beautiful little quote to keep it living on and on forever.

All that, in one little rental complex, nestled in the shadow of the Angelina National Forest in East Texas? Absolutely—if the rental complex in question is Heart’s Haven.

The place is owned by landlord Andrew Hart. (He doesn’t like cameras, but think Clint Eastwood in his more mature days.) He’s a crusty old bachelor, not big on conversation, but some folks believe he does speak with angels. While Hart doesn’t bother to so much as acknowledge those whispered rumors, neither does he deny them. And more than one reliable witness has seen the man talking to…well, nobody!

Hart lives in a huge old manor that fronts the property. When his grandparents opened a boardinghouse there, back in the 1800s, it was known as Hart House. Andrew and Lily Hart did well at the business, and Lily made the best chicken pot pie—to say nothing of her apple pies!—for miles around. Yet, not a bachelor in the area would allow himself to be tempted by the lady’s culinary expertise, because it seemed every time a man stepped through the door of Hart House, he came back out with a gal on his arm. Truth, folks!

Lily lovingly stitched a tapestry—it still hangs in the big house—with the words, “May love find all who enter here.” The current Andrew had those words carved into lovely wooden signs that hang over the trellised gates of all the rental cottages. And even today, they seem to have some kind of…I don’t know…love magic? Seriously. Most of the tenants do fall in love while living there—and quite often, they fall for each other. (Good thing most of them aren’t aware of the Heart’s Haven legend before they move in! Chances are, those lovely little apartments would sit empty a great deal of the time. Now that would be doggone shame…!)

Oh, and about the name of this place. You see, Andrew Hart
meant to name his little rental community Hart’s Heaven. His name, and his opinion about the heavenly beauty of the area—to say nothing of his stunningly beautiful flower gardens. But when he called someone out to carve the big sign that hangs out front, next to the main highway leading into Angel Falls, something (Someone?) must have had other ideas. You see, the sign maker turned up three sheets to the wind, and put the ‘e’ in the wrong word. The result was Heart’s Haven, and old Hart—frustrated and completely out of sorts—never bothered to have it changed.

You can watch folks fall in love, despite themselves, starting with Pia and David in Jewels for the Kingdom by Delia Latham. The other three books in our introductory collection are Operation Breathless (by Marianne Evans); Leap of Faith (by Tanya Stowe); and Dance with Me (by Mary Manners)

But the fun doesn’t stop there. With those first eight tenants almost certainly becoming just four couples, Old Hart faced the prospect of some empty cabins and placed an ad in the Angel Falls Trumpet. Needless to say, he had no trouble getting folks to move into those charming little cottages. Soon enough, four more stories just begged to be told—and they were, in the second collection, Heart’s Haven Holidays. They are: Lexi’s Heart (by Delia Latham); Love Notions (by Mary Manners); Haunted Hearts (by Tanya Stowe); and Maria’s Angel (by Marianne Evans).

Look like Old Hart’s gonna be a regular customer here at the Trumpet. If you’d like a tour of his heavenly little complex out there at the edge of the Angelina National Forest, I know he’d be happy to show you around. Just remember, sometimes the romance of the Haven touches visitors too…

© Delia Latham 2012

Special Note, July 2014:

Heart's Haven has suffered some deep losses in the time since this article was written. I'll leave that bit of news for the writers to reveal in their novels. However, I will say that it appears the Heart's Haven angels never take a break. Another collection of romantic tales came to life during Easter of this year, with: Jodie's Song by Marianne Evans; Wounded Grace by Tanya Stowe; Designed by Love by Mary Manners; and Love in the WINGS by Delia Latham.

This reporter can hardly wait to see what happens next at Heart's Haven!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Heart's Haven: A Thin Place?

Some time back, when the four authors involved first started writing stories about couples brought together through Heart's Haven, the local (fictional) newspaper - Angel Falls Trumpet - took some interest in the place. Their columnist, Belle Eyre, wrote a few articles. We'd like to share them with you. We'll start with this one, and add another in a few days. We hope you all enjoy these pieces as much as we did. :)

Heart’s Haven…a Thin Place?
by Belle Eyre
Angel Falls Trumpet Staff Writer

You’ve heard of “thin places.” They’re mystical places in one’s life, or sometimes even physical locations where the “veil” between our world and another world is thin, bringing the other world nearer our own. Some believe in them. Some don’t. But the idea of thin places has become increasingly popular.

Is Heart’s Haven one of those controversial places?

Located in the fictional East Texas town of Angel Falls, Heart’s Haven is a small, modest rental cottage complex. Aside from the fact that nearly everyone who comes into contact with this friendly little community winds up in love, there’s that other thing…you know—that “angel” thing…

Andrew Hart
Oh, you hadn’t heard? Well, it seems the owner of Heart’s Haven, one crusty old bachelor named Andrew Hart, is rumored to not only see but actually speak to…well, umm…angels. As in, the man has actual conversations with them. Regularly.

Kind of odd, since he’s a bit taciturn when it comes to human beings. Doesn’t have a lot to say, period. (He outright refused to speak with me when I visited!) The old guy can’t even be bothered to acknowledge these rumors. On the other hand, he doesn’t deny them....

But it isn’t just old Hart’s winged friends that make one question that “thin place” thing. Several of his current tenants have admitted to strange things happening after they moved into one of those quaint little cottages that make up the complex. (Speaking of which, those units truly are lovely! Hart apparently has a divine touch when it comes to growing things, and he’s turned his little haven into a heavenly place...! Ahem. Well, perhaps that was the wrong choice of words, but trust me—Hart has a very green thumb.)

Pia Peretti
Pia Peretti claims that the day she first visited Heart’s Haven, she felt something strange. After looking at the empty cottage (which she ended up renting, by the way), she spent that entire evening in a frenzy of design madness, slashing out page after frenzied page of angel wings in various shapes and from different perspectives. She dropped into an exhausted sleep, and when she awakened, she realized she had come up with designs for no less than three angel-themed jewelry designs.

Yet Peretti claims she didn’t hear the rumors about Hart until after she moved into the complex.

Zoe Wyndham
And then there’s Zoe Wyndham. This time-misplaced flower child has lived in Heart’s Haven just over a year. So far, she hasn’t been bitten by the love bug, but…she’s completely sold on the idea that Hart sees angels. In fact, the winsome sprite professes to see the winged creatures herself! “I don’t have as strong a link to them as Mr. Hart does,” she told this reporter. “But I do see my own angel, and occasionally those attached to others around me. I don’t have the ability to speak with them, like Mr. Hart, but I’d certainly love to!”

“So, I guess there’s no need to ask if you believe angels walk this property, is there?” I asked Zoe.

“Of course I believe it!” She actually seemed confused by the question. “Don’t you?”

I left Heart’s Haven feeling as though I’d visited a thin place, but I can’t decide whether it was the quaint little community, or something in my slightly bemused brain.

As I left Zoe’s place and walked beneath her trellised gate—overhung, as are all eight gates in the complex, with a carved wood sign that reads, “May love find all who enter here”—I heard something unusual…like the beating of enormous wings.

And something wrapped itself around my shoulders. Something too soft to be of this earth, and yet so strong! I knew I could never fall as long as…whatever it was…held me. Nothing could harm me while I stood within the circle of its embrace.

Then it was gone, and I felt so alone. And yet…not alone. Ecstatic. Over-joyed. I felt as if I’d been visited by one of Heaven’s own emissaries.


Away from Heart’s Haven now, I can’t stop thinking about…well, everything. Did I really feel what I thought I felt? Or did I allow myself to get caught up in the hyperbole of Heart’s Haven, and simply imagine the entire incident?

All I can say for sure is that I’m beginning to believe in thin places. And if they do exist, then Heart’s Haven is one of them.

It’s located just south of Angel Falls, on the main highway that runs through town and along the edge of the Angelina National Forest. You can’t miss it…a huge sign hangs over a set of double gates out front. Letters have been cut, rather inexpertly, into the wood. They read: HEART’S HAVEN.

Make a sharp right beneath the sign, drive around behind the "big house," and take a look around. Find out for yourself….