Edge Walkers – Play List

Edge Walkers_200x300Edge Walkers is one of those books with a soundtrack — I spent hours listening to Sarah Mclachlan, Nine Inch Nails, Adam Lambert, Evanescence, Coldplay and K.D. Lang (yeah, quite the mix). My trick with writing and songs is to play the song so often that it becomes white-noise. Somehow this shuts off the editor so you can get to a different place with the story.

Here’s the play list for the book:

Building a Mystery, Sarah Mclachlan
Answer, Sarah Mclachlan
Hallelujah, K.D. Lang
Breath No More, Evanescence
Whisper, Evanescence
Mad World, Adam Lambert
The Day the World Went Away, Nine Inch Nails
The Persistence of Loss, Nine Inch Nails
Fix You, Coldplay

Now I need to go build a play list for a historical romance–that’s a whole lot harder to find.

FROM REVIEWS:

There was no insta love in this story. Instead it was slow and was built up over the course of the story. It was nice to see them get to understand each other better and come to trust one another as they slowly fell in love. — The Romance Reviews

EXCERPT

He was barefoot, his feet grubby and dusted.
The face seemed younger than the muscle on a body that looked honed as if he’d been working on sharpening it. But the eyes could pass for as old as these stones and held something that looked about as ruined. With his face half in shadows he almost could be one of the angels who should have been on stained glass here, and maybe he’d stepped out from the shattering.
Or could be he was one of the ones who’d fallen because of great sin.
He stepped closer and went down to one knee, genuflecting, she thought for the absurd fragment of a second, but his head didn’t bow. And now his eyes were at the same level as her.
He put his hand out, palm up. “It’s okay. You’ll feel disoriented and confused for a time. That’s normal.”
“Normal?” The question sputtered out. “What does this place have to do with anything normal?”
God, it felt good to get a coherent sentence out. It surged some strength into her arms and legs, make her stop shaking like an EM needle over graphite-laden shears. She uncurled her fists and her body, pushed up against the pillar and back to her feet. He rose as well, his eyes tracking her as she stood, his hand falling back to his side again. He was only a few inches taller than she was. Most guys weren’t.
“Just where am I? Who are you? How’d I get here? Where’s the rest of my staff?” Ah, good–coherent questions. Or they would be if her teeth weren’t chattering. She could hear the lack of control in herself, and she dragged down another breath that left her entire body aching. Putting back her shoulders, she thought of how the Old Man would have been yelling at her at this point to ‘buck up.’ Thank god he wasn’t here to see her, but on the other hand she could have used him–and a few more military types.
She’d have to make do with what she had.
Now if she could remember what had happened goddammit.
“What happened to me?” she asked. “What happened to my team?”
The guy turned away, angled his body from her last question as if he wanted to walk from it but couldn’t. She stared at the profile of a straight nose and strong chin, at angles made sharp by what looked like existence living. And she knew with insight so sharp it jolted whose blood covered her hands, splattered her clothes.
“Oh God,” she said, dragging the words from hiding. Eyes stinging, she gulped a breath through her mouth–no, no, no! She repeated the word in her head, but she knew the truth. Knew it bone deep.
Oh, God! Not Thompson. He had a baby due in three weeks. And Chand–had he been spared because he was out sneaking a cigarette? She couldn’t remember, but Chand didn’t think anyone knew about his habit, even though he took breaks every two hours and came back with tobacco acrid on his clothes. And what about Zeigler, or the new tech whose name she couldn’t remember? Eyes stinging, she swallowed hard, gulped down another aching breath.
Well, she’d just mapped something new–grief and terror could fracture in you like a vibrant sunset with the edges of darkness falling fast.
Some part of her catalogued the adrenal burst pouring through her–elevated pulse and quickened breath to oxygenate the blood, trembling to loosen muscles. She thought about the Tai-Bo she’d taken up last year to try and fight off the pounds that came from working too hard and not eating right. The fad was already past, but she’d always been off any normal trend–and it fit well with the self-defense her father had taught her as if he’d intended her for a military career.
Straightening, she made her next question very clear, dropping each word like a stone into water six times. “What did you do to them?”

Every Book Has Two Stories

TheCardrosRubyThere are two stories for every book–the story in the pages, and the story behind the pages. For The Cardros Ruby, it’s story is a long one, but I’ll shorten it up.

Back in the day I’d written a story–this one–and it was good enough to final in RWA’s Golden Heart for Best Regency. That delighted me, and I went to Hawaii (and I doubt RWA will ever have a conference there again, since most of us really wanted to be on the beach and not in conference rooms). The book didn’t win, but a good friend (made at the conference), won and went on to sell–this book didn’t sell.

Now there are always many reasons why a book might not sell, even a very good book. Back then the choices were traditional Regency publishing with strict word counts of under 70K, and Historical Regency romance, but those were going hot, and have since even gone hotter. This book didn’t fit either marketing category–it’s a long traditional Regency (with a bit of a mystery in it, but not enough to make it a mystery). So it was a book without a marketing category–that used to be death for any book.  It was doomed to a shoebox life.

These days, thank heavens, it’s a different world. So…an edit later, a read through by others, and a cover, and it’s now finally out in the world.

The Cardros Ruby is–I hope–a bit of a throwback to the days when novels could be novels–when a romance could have some action, some history, some mystery, and just be a great read. Hopefully, it’s all that.

A Man with a Dark Past…

After leaving home years ago amid scandal, Captain Desford Cardros has returned home to mend his wounds, and settle an old score with his brother. But he is drawn to a beautiful woman whose brother is the target of mysterious accidents. Now Cardros must choose between repayment for past wrongs, or a love that could be his salvation.

A Lady Whose Future is Uncertain…

Helena Seaford is ready to do anything to protect her only brother, even trust a scoundrel. But will she hold to her an upbringing that intends her to be a lord’s wife, or will passion lead her into scandal?

 A Deadly Secret to Hide…

As a killing frost holds everyone prisoner in the Yorkshire country, a fragile alliance will be tested by old secrets and lies. Ultimately, the truth may be found in the story of what did happen to the Cardros Ruby five years ago?

EXCERPT

Cardros had a dislike for being of use. Army life had taught him that always meant doing something stupid and generally dangerous. Over the years, he had learned to salute and say, “Yes, sir,” and do as he thought best given the circumstances. He had not, however, learned to master his dammed curiosity. It tugged on him now, pulled like a cat with yarn to unravel. He knew he would do better to ignore it. “My dear girl, my reputation precedes me, as your aunt has said, so you must know I’m no gentleman.”

Her eyebrow quirked high again, and her mouth twitched as if she might have something to say, but she bit back the words. She had a light dusting of freckles across her nose—very unfashionable—and they no longer stood out on too-pale skin. She stared at him for a moment, her gaze direct, leaving him uneasy, feeling as if she could see through to his thoughts, to the old hurts that he took care to hide from the world. But that was only a fancy, for she pokered up again with proper manners.

“I presume too much on your time. Of course, despite aiding Havelock, you have no real interest in our troubles.”

He let out a breath. If she had pressed, he would have resisted, but this sudden capitulation—this retreat—left him with the ingrained desire to pursue. A withdrawal needed to be followed. However, he kept his tone flippant—he wanted his options left open.

“Will it help if I say I do find my interest in you growing by the minute? Probably not such a good thing for you, but shall we take that drink and see what develops?”

Crossing the room to the decanters, his stride stiff and shortened, he wondered what she thought of his limp. Damaged goods, no doubt. Less than a full man. She said nothing, however, of his injury and asked instead, “Did you happen to see my brother’s accident?”

“I didn’t, but I should think his horse slipped in the mud. Now, you owe me an answer—why on earth did my mother drag you here? I assume she must be in residence and did so, for I can’t imagine why else you’d be visiting. It’s a dull place in the best of weather.”

He poured brandy for himself, almost poured her wine, but thought better of it, so a splash of brandy to steady her nerves as well. He brought the glasses back, put them on a side table where the sharp aroma wove into the room along with the comfort of wood smoke. He settled himself on the couch next to her, and thought she looked to be carrying on an internal debate.

She sat with her hands tightly intertwined, her eyes downcast, and a frown tugging her brows flat on her forehead.

He almost reached out to smooth the lines forming, but he wasn’t quite certain of his ground yet. Always best to scout the area before choosing to engage in a skirmish. Stretching out his bad leg, he took up his brandy and sipped. Ah, good to see Ian hadn’t drunk the cellars dry of the good French cognac. The golden liquid warmed his insides like a Guy Fawkes bonfire. He couldn’t let such drink go to waste.

Picking up the second glass, he nudged her arm with it. She glanced at it as if he was offering poison.

“You may trust me on one thing—this will help,” he said.

She took the glass with a challenge in her eyes, and tossed it back as if it were water. “My grandmother raised my brother and I, and she’s Scottish. We know how to drink.”

“Well, in that case…” he rose, refilled both glasses and came back. Clinking glasses with her, he offered a toast, “To mending old wounds, and making new ones.”

 

 

Tea Time

TeaServiceToday we have a guest post from author Ella Quinn on tea — so curl up with a cuppa and enjoy!

Ah, tea. Once could wax eloquently on the subject of tea, and one has. The small leaves have been the topic of erudite, and sometime heated conversation, especially when talk turns to how tea was drunk over 200 years ago. And why, you ask, would one want to discuss that particular matter? Well… because I am a Regency author, and, therefore, I tend to have conversations with other Regency authors on seemingly innocuous matter.

The actual origins of the drink are said to date back to Sichuan province’s Emperor Shen Nung 2737 BC. In China, tea had the reputation of being helpful in treating everything from tumors to making on happy.

teaboxTea was first brought to England from China in the mid-17th Century. It made its debut around the same time as Turkish coffee and hot chocolate. Tea had been drunk on the Continent prior to its arrival in England as Ladies Arlington and Offory developed a taste for it in Holland and brought some home with them. At the time, tea was hideously expensive, one report in 1666 had it as costing 40s a pound when brandy cost 3. Considering the average lawyer earned the equivalent of £20 per year, it is not surprising that only the wealthy could afford to buy it. It was during this century that tea began appearing in coffee houses as well.

While the men were out drinking coffee, tea and chocolate at coffee houses which were morphing into clubs such as White’s, the ladies followed Queen Catherine’s example (she brought her own tea from Portugal) and remained home to drink tea a chocolate. There appear to be several reasons that coffee did not become popular at home, one was the smell, which many found objectionable.

Tea PartyThe earliest painting I found of ladies getting together to drink tea is A Tea Party by Verkolje. Since 17th Century it was customary for the lady or gentleman of the house to actually brew and serve the tea.

By the late 17th Century, green tea in both leaf and powered form, and black tea called Bohea from the Bohea mountain region were being imported. If tea wasn’t expensive enough, the government decided to tax it, and smugglers opted to take advantage of that decision and a trade smuggled tea began. By the 18th Century the beverage had become so popular that no less than at least fourteen different types of tea were available, as were adulterated teas. Smouch making, the mixing of tea with dried ash tree leaves had begun. Because it was easier to hid smouch in green tea, black tea became more popular. At the end of the century, tea was enjoyed by all social classes.

By the 19th Century, tea was also being imported from India and Ceylon. The beverage was drunk at breakfast, in the afternoon (Jane Austen makes mention of it in1804), evening and in times of distress. A while ago, I ran across a quote from a lady stating that one invited friends to “drink tea” and that the term to “take tea” was vulgar. Unfortunately, I can no longer find the reference.

teatableThe popularity of tea also spurred new serving wear, furniture and later in the century rooms in houses were set aside for the purpose of drinking tea.

Now back to the original debate. According to Jane Pettigrew’s A Social History of Tea, which I highly recommend and from whence much of this information has been derived, Tea was drunk with sugar and either sweet milk or cream. It appears that more men preferred cream than did women. Or at least they wrote about it more. When Jane Austen wrote about drinking tea, it was with milk.

Tea plays a large part in my debut novel The Seduction of Lady Phoebe. The hero, Lord Marcus is devoted to tea. Unfortunately, his father will only allow coffee to be served at breakfast. Lady Phoebe, as did most ladies of the time, had her own blend.

Excerpt from The Seduction of Lady Poebe

A low growl from her stomach caught her attention. “I’m famished.”

Marcus nodded. “As am I. When I have a household of my own again, I’ll order breakfast to be served early.”

She turned Lilly toward the gate. “I’ll wager if we go back to St. Eth House now, François, my uncle’s chef, will find something to feed us.”

“Lead on.”

After they entered St. Eth House, Phoebe motioned to Marcus to follow her through the baize door leading to the kitchen.

With a brilliant smile on her face, she approached François, the St. Eth chef de cuisine. “François, we have been riding and are so very hungry. Will you feed us?”

He glanced from her to Marcus. “Oui, milady. Naturellement.”

François gave them each a warm bun with honey before shooing them up the stairs to await their breakfast.

Phoebe took a place at the table and Marcus sat next to her. Ferguson brought tea and she poured them each a cup. The buns were wonderful, tasting of honey and butter. She wondered what François would send up for the rest of their breakfast.

Marcus gave a satisfied sigh. “Phoebe, I can’t thank you enough for the tea. I almost always have to have coffee at home.”

That was very strange. Puzzled, she asked, “Why do you not ask for tea to be served if you don’t like coffee?” It was the first time she’d ever seen him disgruntled.

“I asked for tea once, years ago, and my father gave me coffee. He was so adamant, I never asked again. I still feel like a guest at Dunwood House, as if I’ll be returning to Jamaica. . . .”

THE SEDUCTION OF LADY PHOEBE ~ ON SALE: September, 19, 2013LADY PHOEBE STANHOPE, famous for her quick wits, fast horses, and punishing right hook, is afraid of nothing but falling in love. Fleeing a matchmaking attempt with the only man she despises, Phoebe meets a handsome blue-eyed stranger who sends her senses skittering. By the time Phoebe discovers the seductive stranger is the same arrogant troll she sent packing eight years ago, she is halfway to falling in love with him.

LORD MARCUS FINLEY last saw Phoebe striding regally away, as he lay on the floor with a bruised jaw and a rapidly swelling eye. Recently returned from the West Indies, Marcus is determined to earn Phoebe’s love, preferably before she discovers who he is. Determined to have Phoebe for his own, Marcus begins his campaign to gain her forgiveness and seduce her into marriage.

Can Phoebe learn to trust her own heart and Marcus? Or is she destined to remain alone?

“Lady Phoebe is a heroine Georgette Heyer would adore–plucky, pretty, and well worth the devotion of the dashing Lord Marcus. A marvelous find for Regency romance readers.” — NYT Bestseller Grace Burrowes 

“Ella Quinn’s The Seduction of Lady Phoebe is a passionate tale full of humor, romance, and poignancy. Quinn writes classic Regency romance at its best!” — Shana Galen

Preorder or Buy at:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

B&N

Author Ella Quinn has lived all over the United States, the Pacific, Canada, England and Europe before finally discovering the Caribbean. She lives in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands with her wonderful husband, three bossy cats and a loveable great dane. Ella loves when friends connect with her. Visit her at www.ellaquinnauthor.com, or connect on Facebook, Twitter, or at her blog. 

 

Emotion

emotionI’ve been thinking about emotion on the page, probably just because I’ve been working on the emotional edit for Diana’s story (Lady Chance). It’s a tough thing to do, and probably the most important–if you can’t feel with the characters, how can you feel for them?

I suspect this is also something that cannot be taught to other writers–lord knows, folks have tried. But you either get into the characters and connect with them or you don’t–that goes for readers and writers. And it’s so easy to get caught up in all the technical stuff–the sentence structure, the words, the punctuation, the descriptions, making the setting work, and covering up plot holes. That’s when you forget the story has to have a heart. The story has to get your blood pumping, it has to pull you in, and it has to connect you to the characters.

It’s why I think every writer falls in love (a little at least) with their fictional creations–we bleed with them, cry with them, laugh with them. And then we want to know what happens after the last page too–which is where sequels are so much fun.

This also makes me wonder if we don’t all read for specific emotions. A mystery when we want tension and danger and excitement, and a cozy mystery when we want that cup of hot tea and scones and to curl up with something comfortable. A romance for…well, duh, romance. A paranormal when we want the world on the page to be weirder than it is in reality (getting harder to get that all the time). Maybe that’s why books have developed those marketing tags–they tell us what we’re going to be reading so we can settle down with the emotion of choice.

And maybe that’s really the heart of our craft–learning to write with that heart that appeals, with that emotion that connects not just strongest to us, but to readers as well. That’s not only a hard thing to learn, but even harder to carry off.

We Are Family….

BurningTire_finalI’ve been watching a lot of movies about family lately, and some about family which don’t really seem to be about family, but really are. As in The Avengers, which is all about family.

What!—you say. But that’s an action movie! Yes, it is. However, at its heart, it’s all about family. My favorite kind of family, in fact—the kind that bickers, fights, argues, tears itself apart, but which bonds together against any outside threat. (That was also me and my brother when we were growing up, which is probably why I’m so fond of that kind of family.) Critics have already noted the dysfunctional side of The Avengers—and other Joss Whedon shows, which is why I love Joss. I relate to dysfunctional. That also makes for the best kinds of stories.

Family is an important part of Riding in on a Burning Tire, the second book in the Mackenzie Solomon Demons & Warders series–a big part of the book is Mackenzie’s family showing up (and they don’t know she’s a demon hunter), and the trouble her little brother has gotten into. She’s already lost one brother–and it looks like she may lose a second to the “Rapturists”, folks out to end this world (for a better one, they think, but Mackenzie knows better).

Family, in a novel, gives you some of the best conflict and story ever. When in doubt, bring in the family. Yes, there are a lot of “orphan” stories out there, but you’ll notice the orphan doesn’t stay on her own for long. Soon, the family of choice shows up. That’s the great thing about family—they don’t have to be tied to you by blood. They can be tied by preference, circumstance, or just because you happen to see the world from a similar outsider view.

Readers and writers are all family—we bicker, fight, tear at each other. But we’re also bonded. We love our books, our stories—we love talking about them, pushing the best ones onto each other, gasping when other readers don’t love our favorites with the same insane passion. We bond over books. We’re every bit as dysfunctional as The Avengers—well, maybe not quite that super-powered, but close (including the costumes hanging in the closets). That shared love is one of the great joys of life—and all writers are readers. Books bond us. We love words and stories and characters. We read because life would be flat and unbearable without that escape. Stories make sense of our lives. And that’s why we write—because we want to share even more and so we dive into the deep end on things.

So, readers, next time you’re about to savage a book with harsh criticism, remember, that’s your sister in words who wrote that, and your brother, so put in some humor and respect—okay, maybe you don’t use that with blood kin, either, but this is your ink kin we’re talking about. Go ahead and hit hard—then, like that great fight scene in The Avengers, or even in Riding in on a Burning Tire (and boy is that gutsy to put my book in there with Joss’ work), after knocking each other around, offer a hand up and know that while you may come to blows occasionally (just to test each other and prove who really can dish it out), we’re all a family of readers out here.  You may not like everyone in your family, but they understand you like no one else in this world.

RIDING IN ON A BURNING TIRE

A demon hunter about to lose her license…

Mackenzie Solomon is on the edge of going “dark” and losing her warder license if she gets any more evil on her. However, she’s also the only one who can stop an early Armageddon. And nothing has stopped the bad ideas… or the itch for action. That’s starting to cause a rift with her former charming partner, Josh. He’s been tainted by demon blood, so is he now one of the bad things she now needs to avoid? Because Josh may be responsible for the Endowment’s Magi going “Houdini” on everyone.

A charmer who can’t remember if he’s good or not…

With Josh going rogue to find out what he’s been charmed not to remember, Mackenzie is given a choice by the Endowment—bring him in and maybe the Magi will help them both. She’s not sure she trusts the offer—and she’s not sure she can trust Josh.

But it’s not demons or the undead that are her main worry. “Rapturists,” led by the charismatic and supernaturally seductive Isra Gilz, are out to take down the Endowment and kick-off the end of days. With tainted tats Isra has turned Mackenzie’s younger brother into his inside man on this plan—and Mackenzie may have to take them both out to stop Armageddon.

Redemption comes with a price…

Caught in her usual spot between good and evil, and needing to help her family or do her job, Mackenzie has tough choices to make. She just wants ones that don’t end with everyone dead—or herself forever damned. But saving the world is going to cost. She just has to make sure the price isn’t the life of the man who keeps her from the destructive darkness that’s always calling her name.

The Beginning of Handbags

Char portrait 2009smerWe have a guest post by Charlene Raddon, author of Taming Jenna, Tender Touch, Forever Mine, To Have and to Hold, and writing as Rachel Summers, Scent of Roses. Charlene normally blogs at  http://www.charleneraddon.blogspot.com, however she’s here now with great info on the history of handbags.

NOTE: Charlene is giving away a free book and $5 Amazon gift card to a random commenter. You must comment by March 1, and leave an email address so you can be contacted.

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Purses, pouches, or bags have been used since humans first found a need to carry precious items with them. Egyptian hieroglyphs show men wearing purses around the waist, and the Bible specifically identifies Judas Iscariot as a purse carrier.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, bags were attached to the most vital feature of medieval garb: the girdle, along with rosaries, Book of Hours, pomanders (scented oranges), chatelaines (a clasp or chain to suspend keys, etc.), even daggers. Women favored ornate drawstring purses known as “hamondeys” or “tasques”. Men used purses known as “chaneries” for gaming or for holding food for falcons.

no3pic2During the Elizabethan era, women’s skirts expanded to enormous proportions and small medieval girdle purses became lost among huge amounts of fabric. Rather than wear girdle pouches outside on a belt, women chose to wear them under their skirts. Men wore leather pockets (called “bagges”) inside their breeches. Large satchel-like leather or cloth bags were sometimes worn by peasants or travelers, diagonally across the body.

In the 16th and 17th centuries the more visible bags were rejected and long embroidered drawstring purses were hidden under skirts and breeches instead, while some people wanted them to be conspicuous, for use as decorative containers for gifts, money, perfume, or jewels. Toward the end of the 17th century, purses became increasingly sophisticated, changing from simple drawstring designs to more complex shapes and materials.

Following the French Revolution, narrow, high-waisted dresses became popular, leaving no room beneath for pockets. Consequently, purses, in the form of “reticules” or “indispensables” as the English called them, came into use, showing that women had become dependent upon handbags. The French parodied the women who carried the delicate bags that resembled previously hidden pockets as “ridicules”.beaded reticule

Victorian era developments in science and industry provided a vast array of styles and fabrics women could coordinate with their outfits. Though pockets returned in the 1840s, women continued to carry purses and spend an enormous amount of time embroidering them to show off for potential husbands, often including the date and their own initials in the designs. Chatelaines attached to the waist belt with a decorated clasp remained popular.

The railroad brought about a revolution in the use of bags. As more people traveled by train professional luggage makers turned the skills of horse travel into those for train travel, and soon the term “handbag” emerged to describe these new hand-held luggage bags. Many of the top names of today’s handbags started as luggage makers (whereas, previously made purses and pouches were made by dressmakers). Hermes bags were founded in 1837, a harness and saddle maker. Loius Vuitton was a luggage packer for the Parisian rich. Modern handbag designs still Crocheted reticuleallude to luggage with pockets, fastenings, frames, locks, and keys.

Early in the 20th century handbags became much more than just hand-held luggage. Women could choose from small reticules, Dorothy bags (now called dotty or marriage bags) with matching robes, muffs, and fitted leather bags with attached telescopic opera glasses and folding fans. Working women used larger handbags, such as the Boulevard bag, leather shopping bags, and even briefcases worn around the shoulder.

After WWI, the long constricting layers and rigid corseting women wore disappeared. Perhaps the most important development during this period was the “pochette,” a type of handle-less clutch, often decorated with dazzling Tiny metal pursegeometric and jazz motifs, worn tucked under arms to give an air of nonchalant youth. Rules for color coordination grew lax and novelty bags, such as doll bags (dressed exactly like the wearer), became popular. The discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1923 inspired purses reflecting exotic motifs.

image

Today, purse designs continue to fluctuate, and always will. What sort of purses do you remember using when you were young? In the 1950s I had a pink and white, square plastic purse I loved. I wonder whatever became of it. If I owned that purse now, it would probably be worth a pretty penny.

To Have and To Hold by Charlene Raddon - 200Charlene Raddon’s Latest book is To Have and To Hold…

A woman without a prayer…

 A widow with two children, Tempest Whitney had to mortgage everything to repay the money her husband had stolen. But even as she struggles to hold onto her Utah homestead, a scheming rancher buys up her debts, demanding she either get off his land or marry him. Then a dark-haired stranger shows up, claiming to be her dead husband…

A man without a past….

Buck Maddux spent two years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit. Now a death bed promise has brought him to Tempest’s dugout. A man without roots, he doesn’t plan to stay—or to feel so fiercely protective of this feisty beauty he saves from a forced marriage. Suddenly, Buck yearns for a home, a family, a lasting love. But what can he offer Tempest? The surprising answer lies in the forbidden canyons of an ancient Anasazi tribe, where fortune and danger await—along with a passion more precious than gold…

EXCERPT

Riding up to the house, he called out a hello and dismounted. Surrounded by barking dogs he proceeded to water his horse at a well built over a natural spring. From beneath the wide brim of his Stetson he searched for some sign of life. Finally he headed to the house, spurs jangling in his wake. His fist was raised, ready to knock, when the rough plank door swung inward and the business end of a Henry repeating rifle met with his nose.

“Judas!”  He jerked back and stumbled over his own big feet. A cat screeched, letting him know he had mangled its tail. The critter got even by climbing Buck’s leg. Yelping and dancing while he tried to extract the cat, he trampled two or three more felines. Easy to do; half a dozen littered the yard, along with pigs and a flutter of chickens.

“Whoa there, ma’am.”  He held up a hand. “Don’t mean you any harm.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

The cat took off, kinked tail in the air. Buck checked for damage and decided he’d live. “That’s a mite awkward to explain.”  He took off his hat, wiped his brow on his sleeve and replaced the hat back, buying time while he studied her.

She wasn’t much to look at. The braid hanging to her waist appeared as though crows had been pecking at it. Dun-colored strands fluttering about her head gave her a wild look that belied the delicacy of her face. A strong chin balanced her large eyes and a mouth as stubborn as the mules in the pole corral. A patched apron hung to her scuffed boots and hugged her legs snugly enough hint she wasn’t wearing skirts. He was wondering what might be under the apron when she spat, “Spill it, mister. I haven’t got all day.”

“Think you could put down the gun?” He eyed the rifle with amusement and chagrin. “This might take a while and your arms are like to get tired.”

“Don’t think for a second, just because I’m a woman, that I can’t shoot this rifle,” she drawled. “I hate when men jump to such conclusions. Makes me so angry I start shaking and that makes my trigger finger jittery, if you know what I mean.”

Buck knew. A jittery trigger finger meant he might get shot for no reason. He eyed her speculatively. She wasn’t much bigger than a colt; no problem for a man his size to handle. “I doubt you’d enjoy where they’d put you for shooting a man,” he said, smiling to hide his growing irritation.

“Nobody goes to jail for self-defense. Especially a woman. You going to state your business or not?”

“Are you Tempest Whitney?”

“What’s it to you?”

He sighed. “Name’s Buck Maddux. I ran onto your husband two years ago. He was gut shot and bleeding bad —”

“Maddux!” Her head snapped up and her finger tightened on the trigger. “You yellow-bellied son of a coyote. How dare you come here? Didn’t you cause enough grief robbing that stage and getting my husband killed? Get off my property before I fill you with lead the way the posse did Skeet.”

He threw up his hands as she stepped closer. “Easy, ma’am, I didn’t come here to get you all upset.”

“What did you expect? That I’d welcome you with open arms and invite you in for supper? Just because my husband let you rope him into a stupid robbery doesn’t mean I have to put up with you.”

That did it. Now he was angry. “Hold on a minute here.” His mouth was tight, his voice hard. “I had nothing to do with that robbery, or the Army patrol who shot your husband.”

“Sure. You were just an innocent bystander who happened to be with Skeet when he was caught.”

“As a matter of fact—”

“Raspberry stickers!” she spat. “You plotted that hold-up. You killed my husband as surely as if you’d pulled the trigger yourself.”

Buck’s blood boiled. He told himself it was because she’d accused him of lying, not because she’d come too close to the truth, but the excuse didn’t wash, adding to his fury. In one swift movement, he away snatched her rifle, threw it to the ground, and shoved her against the door jamb. He held her there with his body, her hands pinned above her head, while he stared into amber-sparked brown eyes.

The dogs took up barking again.
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Click on the links below to buy one of Charlene’s books:

To Have and to Hold

Tender Touch

Forever Mine

Guest Post “One for Kami”

Today we have Charlene Wilson, an author of paranormal tales that take you away to other dimensions.  She weaves magic, lasting love, and intrigue to immerse you into the lives of her characters. And she brings you her latest heroine, Kami…

Kami fumbled with the note in her hands and gazed around Shannon Donnelly’s Blog. The beautiful flowers nodded their bulbous blossoms as a soft breeze blew. Memories of long strolls on the floral-bordered river trail at home filled her with thoughts of Ian’s warmed smile, kind hazel gaze, and his head of black wavy hair that couldn’t seem to resist the wind. Her heart ached, as she knew she might never have those moments with him again.

Dropping her gaze to the folded message, she gnawed on her lower lip. Should she go through with her plan? He didn’t know of the sweetness of Valentine’s Day, how this dimension celebrated love. She could just stuff it the pocket of her cape and forget the whole thing.

Kami traced the red heart she had drawn on the upper left corner. No, I need to do this. He has to know.

Releasing an anxious breath, she looked over her shoulder to the garden gate. Where is Charlene? She’s late.

“I heard that thought, and I’m not late. You’re early.”

The gate swung open and Charlene winked at Kami as she entered. “I kind of thought you’d take to our holiday, Kami, you being the romantic that you are.”

“Ian would love it, too.” A weak grin tugged the edges of her lips upward, but her conviction burned strong with her decision. She held out the hand-written valentine. “You will give it to him won’t you?”

Taking it from her, Charlene smiled and her head leaned to the side. “Of course I will.”

“And tell him…” she wrung her fingers and her red gloves twisted, distorting the intricate knit patterns. “Please tell him how much I love him. Charlene, tell him I was an idiot.”

“Oh, I’m not going to say that.” Charlene tucked the valentine into her sweater pocket. “If you feel that strongly about this, why not have it displayed at Ravencraft Romance Realm’s Love Letters ‘n’ Lattes? You can proclaim your love for him on February 14th  for the whole World Wide Web to see.”

A spark of thrill flashed through Kami’s chest and jetted to her toes. “That would be perfect! Do you think they’d let me do that?”

“I’m certain of it. I happen to be one of the contributing romance authors there.”

Kami couldn’t hold back a wide smile. She spread her arms wide and inhaled the sweet aroma of the beautiful red flora around them. “He’s sure to know I mean it, then, if I proclaim it to the entire dimension.”

She grasped Charlene’s elbows and looked into her blue eyes. “You will show him won’t you. I know you can one way or another, being our author.”

“Oh, Kami. You bet I will.” Charlene patted her cheek and nodded toward the blog readers. “Now, let’s get this introduce of One for Kami going and invite everyone to join in the tour-wide giveaway. We have some great prizes and they need to know they can get all the details at Charlene Blogs.

Excitement bubbled in Kami’s heart and her brows rose with her exclamation. “That’s right! So many prizes to giveaway, all because my story was just released.”

She turned to the readers and she knew her countenance had to be glowing. “There will be four prize packages! A One for Kami SWAG package, a Juicy Fruit prize package…” she glance at Charlene, “honestly, there’s got to be a way for me to nab that one,” she snickered, then back to the crowd, “A $10 Amazon gift card…”

Charlene grabbed her hand and held it up for all to see. “And your red gloves! We can’t forget the best part. KnitWit’s Knits & Crochet is making a special pair for this tour and offering One for Kami fans a 20% discount if they order something from their Etsy Shop by using the coupon code One4Kami! How great is that?”

“I can’t wait to see my gloves with the Hearts on Her Sleeve pattern on them.”

“I ordered a pair for myself. That prize alone is a $20 value!”

Sighing, Kami relaxed and allowed her breath to speak her thoughts. “I love my story.”

Charlene leaned her head, pride shining in her eyes. “And so will everybody else, sweetie.”  She squeezed Kami’s hand. “I know they will.”

Thank you for having us here today, Shannon. It’s a real treat! Have your readers get those Kindles ready, because One for Kami is FREE to download at Amazon right now! (Feb 14th)! It’s a Sweet Sci-Fi Romance, the perfect “lunch-time” read.

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Can love be true if shared with more than one?  Kami doesn’t think so when she finds Ian is an elite and required to take three wives to eliminate the poverty-stricken population.  Why can’t he be poor the way she thought he was when she fell in love with him?

Determined to find a realm that doesn’t have such dictates, she travels to dimension Three-Two-Three to begin her search.  But is love truer in a place that only allows one spouse than it is in Ian’s heart?

What they’re saying

“Sweet, romantic, and heartfelt.  A great introduction to the author’s world.”—J.D. Brown Book Club

“One for Kami is a story that will have you willing to give up everything for your one true love.”—Annette, Gothic Mom’s Book Reviews

“[Wilson] spins a tale of true love spanning time and dimensions that will inspire the reader to sacrifice everything to find their soul mate.”—Debbie, Read2Review

Excerpt

Voices surged and Kami clung to the illegible sounds.  A low groan rode alongside them.  The vocals ebbed from her mind.  Mute gray light drifted before her eyes, a flash of white, and then a haze.  Darkness covered her vision.  A sour pang caused her to lurch and she heaved, the voices clambering from a distance.  The back of her skull thudded against a hard surface.  Words broke between melodic and static riffs.

“Kami, breathe.”

Another groan punctuated the din, so close she opened her eyes to find the source.  A woman’s profile came to view, a bright silver aura hazing the edges.  Her long arched nose and narrow chin set a shocking presentation to add to her crinkled eyes and white hair.  Her thin lips moved with a soft sound.  “Get that cleaned up before she sees it.”

The senior turned to her, and Kami’s focus zeroed in on her pale blue eyes.  Eerie yet kind, they held her attention.  Folds on the woman’s face deepened with her smile.  “Well, you made it.  You had us worried there.”

Kami blinked hard and swallowed, acid burning the back of her throat.  “What happened?”

“You were a little nervous during the transport, that’s all.”  The woman nodded to someone off to the side and Kami rolled her head to the side to see who it was.  The silver-blue aura stretched to the edge of a circular platform and she realized she lay on Ober’s transport base.

“Let’s get you sitting up.  It’ll clear your mind and help you focus.”  The escort slid her hand behind Kami’s neck.

As she pushed herself up, heat pulsed in her lower abs, spasms rushing through her core.  Her breath hitched and she leaned forward, pressing her arm along her hips until the sensations dulled.  A heavy sigh rushed from her lungs, causing the ache in her breasts to intensify.  She brushed her palm along her chest to relieve the sensitivity, but it sent chills down her spine.  A shutter clenched her stomach and the process started all over again.

God, this is awkward.  I need privacy here.

A chuckle rumbled to her left and she glanced at the man beyond the hazy stage.  His blond hair curled around his forehead and tapered to a band of shaved hair along the back of his head.  His white lab coat hung loose around his lanky shoulders.  A wide smile bloomed on his lips as he knelt beside her and held out a bottle of water.

His brown eyes sparkled with humor.  “You’ll be mighty sensitive in those regions for a while with the level of panic you emitted.  But that side effect will let up.”

She accepted the drink, a question on the tip of her tongue she didn’t want to voice.

“All of this affected your nerves,” he motioned to her private parts as if he had every right, “and those there are the most sensitive parts of a body.  I’d take you as my third right now just to enjoy the fallout.  Yes, sir, close the quota with a redheaded elite.”

Kami leaned away from him and his offensive comment.  That is wrong on so many levels.  How rude could one person get?

The woman pursed her lips into a little grin.  “This is Conrad.  I’m Coral.  We’ll show you around the city and get you acquainted with things before we let you roam on your own.  We can show you key areas to envision so you can sync and not have to deal with the vehicles they use here.  Horrid contraptions if you ask me.  Just remember to be hidden when you do so nobody sees you disappear.  Of course, we’ll be around should you need us during your stay.”  She motioned with her nod.  “Now, let’s get you off this Ober base and steady on your feet.”

Kami glanced at the platform.  “Sure glad this fog isn’t a lingering effect.”

Conrad’s cheery chuckle burst into laughter and he held out his hand to help her up.  She grumbled under her breath and with a glower accepted the offer.  His fingers slowly wrapped around hers and his thumb brushed along the top of her palm with light caresses.  The sensual touch sent a charge to her nipples and spasms to her core.  Her breath hitched, fire burning her cheeks and ears as she flush.

Her gaze snapped to the glint in his eye.  The idiot did that on purpose!  She snatched her hand from his grasp.  “I think I’ll let Coral help me up.”

Another burst of mirth spit from Conrad and his hand flew to his mouth, stifling it into a sloppy snort.  He peeked at her through gleeful lids and turned his palm to her in an apologetic gesture.

Kami looked at Coral to find the woman’s lips pinched between her teeth, the corners fighting to keep a serious regard.

I have to deal with these people for a week?  She swore under her breath and slid from the platform, abandoning the bottled water.  Pushing herself to a stand, she steadied her feet and tugged at her blouse to regain any dignity she had left.

Coral’s head tilted to the side and her white waves brushed her cheek.  “Oh, Kami, I’m sorry, dear.”  She pulled her into a hug.  “Things will settle down.”

Conrad sniffled and folded his arms across his chest, nodding with agreement as he calmed.

Her pale blue gaze sought Kami’s as she held her at arm’s length.  Brows pulling together, she whispered.  “You are still a Vella, correct?”

Kami hesitated, studying the lady’s demeanor.  What does being a maiden have to do with anything?  “Yes.”

“Then I suggest you keep a little distance between you and fellows while you’re here.  They’ll flock to you with that beautiful hair and those sweet blue eyes.  And you’ll find them hard to resist in your current state.”  She winked.  “Gotta save yourself for marriage, you know.”

Riotous cackles exploded and Conrad doubled over, staggering to catch his balance.

Kami’s mouth dropped open.  “God, give me a break!”  Shrugging out of Coral’s touch, she marched along the cobbled path toward the exit.  “I’ll find my own way around.”

As she gripped the doorknob, realization caused her to pause.  She glanced at her snickering guides.  “Um…  Is my new boss a man or a woman?”

Conrad’s mirth rose to a new level and filled the arboretum.  She huffed and marched out the door, his snorts and cries following her until he choked on his own breath.

Get your copy of One for Kami at Amazon: http://bit.ly/OneforKami FREE February 14th! If you miss that, leave a comment for a free book given away on March 1.

One for Kami book tour banner 3

Charlene Wilson Author Links

Creating worlds where dreams become reality.

char mtn 2Author site:  http://CharleneAWilson.com
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