Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Indigo by Paula Berinstein - Book Tour + Giveaway

by Paula Berinstein
Genre: Time Travel Romance, Adventure

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself mistress of an 18th-century plantation?

Esther Rubens is looking forward to getting to know her new community in South Carolina and repairing her troubled marriage. But as soon as she arrives in Charleston her life begins to diverge from the idyllic picture in her mind. Her physicist husband, Melvin, is arrested for driving while black, she inherits a strange English property from a cousin she didn't know existed, and she learns that her great-grandmother Sophie, a brilliant scientist kidnapped by the Nazis, discovered the secret of time travel of all things.

Intrigued by Sophie's cryptic journal Melvin begins to experiment with time travel, but his anger at the police makes him careless. The process backfires, killing him and throwing Esther back to 1750. Attacked by an unknown assailant the moment she arrives, she seeks protection at an indigo plantation belonging to a dashing planter with a dangerous secret, negotiating a deal that guarantees her safety. But she soon realizes she's made a terrible mistake. What she discovers on the plantation is far more horrific than anything she could have imagined.

Overwhelmed, she attempts to flee just as the planter's mysterious, handsome brother arrives from England seeking refuge-and offering an opportunity that's too compelling to turn down. But can he be trusted? And are the two of them strong enough to vanquish the evil that's pervading the lowlands? Only time will tell.

The first title in the Indigo series.

How I Developed My Characters

  1. Paula Berinstein

Warning: Spoilers about the Outlander series appear in this post.

Since my series was inspired by the Outlander books, I had to make sure my characters were swoon-worthy, strong, and compelling but not Claire and Jamie Fraser revisited, so I thought about them for a long, long time before beginning to outline. I needed to give them personalities, professions, families, flaws, strengths, and secrets that were wholly original. Yikes!

The first thing I decided was that I wanted the love between my protagonist and hero to be forbidden. There’s nothing so compelling as a dangerous secret. The fear of exposure makes you root for the characters and worry about them. There’s an element of secrecy at the beginning of Outlander—no one can know Claire is a time traveler—but she and Jamie are legitimately married.

Photo Credit: Bruno Bernard (photo), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s nothing quite so compelling as forbidden love

I won’t spoil Indigo for you by telling you about Esther and Jesse’s dangerous secret, but I will tell you that there is one. More than one, actually. Every character in the series and in all my books has secrets hanging over them, some of which they know about and some of which they don’t. I’m really quite obsessed with secrets because they add so much suspense and intrigue to a story, and I use them liberally.

Photo Credit: N. C. Wyeth, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I am obsessed with secrets

That was the easy part for me. As far as professions are concerned, however, I struggled a lot. Diana Gabaldon’s choice of medicine for Claire is brilliant, and I cursed her for choosing it before I could. Being a doctor and a nurse allows Claire to gain entrée to all kinds of situations that would normally be closed to her. Since I couldn’t make Esther a medical practitioner I had to find something that would allow her similar entrée, or at least give her background that would help her cope with unfamiliar and risky situations. I thought and thought and finally came up with the idea of making her a librarian. This worked because I was once a librarian myself and know how they think, but also because it bestowed upon her a wide breadth of knowledge as well as the skills to find out whatever else she needed to know. What it did less brilliantly was allow her to infiltrate closed groups, but I’ve worked out other ways of doing that.

Photo Credit: Prettysleepy from Pixabay

Who says librarians have to be dowdy?

I did settle on medicine as Jesse’s career but for a special reason. Jesse is the third son in an aristocratic English family, which means he inherits nothing and must make his own way in life. Third sons often enter the church or the military, and I considered making him an army doctor, but in the end I decided to send him out on his own. That way he’d enjoy the flexibility to move around and behave however he needed to. I love the idea that he’s as poor as a pauper even though he was raised on a grand estate and educated as a member of the gentry. His father did not want him to become a doctor, a profession that was looked down upon in the 18th century, and Jesse had to do a deal with the devil to get into medical school. (Read the book if you want to know what the deal was.) Being a doctor also affords him the opportunity to trade his services for things he needs, which he does more than once in Windward, the second book in the series, which I’m writing now.

Photo Credit: Luke Fildes, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 

Jesse Peacock is a doctor

As far as personality is concerned, I wanted to give Esther a goal that consumes her and influences her decisions. I settled on the desire to have children. Because Esther’s husband, Melvin, is of a different race (she’s white and he’s Black), there are some interesting issues to explore. Melvin doesn’t want to bring children into a world that treats Black people as second-class citizens. Esther is dying to have children and they fight about the problem all the time. When she arrives in the past she has to decide whether that’s still what she wants, especially considering that the man she marries there is gay. 

Photo Credit: Pfeilgiftfeder from Pixabay

Esther’s dream is to be a mom

Jesse has a goal too, and that is to help slaves escape to freedom. Abolitionism wasn’t common in the 18th century, and there was little societal structure to support him. He was almost alone in this goal in his time, and I wanted him to feel furtive, isolated, and desperate in its pursuit. 

Jesse has quite a bit of tragedy in his past as well, some of which you can read about in the prequel short story “The Unfortunate Death of Bastien Riddle.” I gave him a difficult history because I don’t like to make life easy for my characters. Conflict makes for compelling stories. If you think what I did in Indigo is bad you should see how I torment the characters in my Amanda Lester, Detective series. I definitely subscribe to the J. Michael Straczynski (creator of “Babylon 5”) philosophy of putting your characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them. Not literally, of course, but by creating constant trouble for them you make them and the story more interesting.

Jesse the tragic hero

That’s the short of it. There’s a lot more, but I hope I’ve convinced you that Esther and Jesse are not Claire and Jamie, as much as I love them. Inspiration is one thing for a writer. Copying is quite another.

Paula Berinstein (Paula B) is the author of the Amanda Lester, Detective middle-grade/YA series, which features a descendant of the Sherlock Holmes character Inspector Lestrade and is set in the English Lake District.

She is also the author of a new time travel series for adults, Indigo.

From 2005 to 2012, Paula produced and hosted the popular podcast The Writing Show (http://www.writingshow.com). She holds degrees in English literature and librarianship from UCLA.

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$25 Amazon giftcard– 2 winners!


  1. Thank you so much for featuring my book and my guest post!!!!


  2. This book looks very interesting, I like time travel. The cover looks really good.

    1. Thank you so much, Suzanne! I’m glad I’ve piqued your interest.

      xo Paula


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