Category Archives: historical

Read An Excerpt from Captives by Emily Murdoch – Medieval Romance

‘An enthralling saga.’ – Robert Foster, best-selling author of ‘The Lunar Code’

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Captives

Conquered Hearts – Book 3

Emily Murdoch

Genre: Historical Romance, Medieval.
Publisher: Endeavour Press
ASIN: B00R3DP1PQ
Number of pages: 222
Word Count: 74,414words

Book Description:

Normandy. 1067.

England has been brought to its knees by the invasion of William the Conqueror and his Norman troops.

Lady Catheryn, an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman, is taken against her will to Normandy after the invasion. She arrives, a prisoner, at the castle of Lord Geffrei, a ruthless invader who hopes to gain a ransom for her. Her husband Selwyn is dead, slain in the Conquest, and her daughter Annis has been left behind in England at the mercy of the invaders. Catheryn is treated like an animal, and left in a cell until she begins to despair.

When Queen Matilda, William the Conqueror’s wife, sees her plight, she takes pity on her. Catheryn is sent to the castle of the noble FitzOsberns – but will her new captivity be any better than the cruelty she faced at Geffrei’s hands? She finds her hostess cold and embittered, but when her husband William FitzOsbern returns from the Conquest, Catheryn’s heart is torn by unwanted emotions. She becomes entangled in the quarrels and heartbreaks of her jailers even as she tries to remember her place among them.

Is she falling in love with the man who helped to destroy her homeland? Can Catheryn betray her Anglo-Saxon roots, and her late husband? Or will she break free, and find her way back to Annis?

‘Captives’ is a moving historical story of love and loss, and the strength of one woman even in the most dangerous of times. It is the sequel to ‘Conquests’.

Available at Amazon UK and Amazon US

Excerpt:captives

PROLOGUE

The prisoner had not spoken for weeks.

None had expected it to last this long. The journey over the wide sea, back to Normandy, had been a troubled crossing. Of the five ships that had left England’s shore, only three had arrived safely, and even those had lost men to fear and sickness. Those that had not died or fled muttered underneath their breath.

The prisoner had not complained.

Dressed in clothes that had seen better days, the prisoner had been forced upon a horse, despite its protestations that it was not strong enough to ride. The cloak had become torn and stained over the fortnight-long ride to the castle of Geffrei, and the hood was pulled across the prisoner’s face, obscuring the night. Despite the cold, the prisoner was not offered a warmer cloak, or a kind word.

The prisoner had barely noticed.

As the sound of the horses’ hooves slowed, the prisoner looked up. Through bleary eyes, only a vague impression of the place at which the company had arrived could be seen, but it was imposing even in its vagueness. A stone building with several floors, and no light emitting from the few windows to pierce the darkness of the evening. No flags hung from the walls, and the door outside which they stood was bare, save for one small handle.

The prisoner closed both eyes.

“You awake?”

The prisoner was dragged down from the horse, and made to stand, although every bone cried out for rest. The brim of the hood fell down over its eyes. The murmur that the prisoner attempted made no sense.

“Walk, if you know what’s good for you!”

There were almost a dozen knights that had ridden with the prisoner, but one was more splendidly dressed than the others. His cloak was lined, offering warmth against the bitter autumnal breeze, and it was only he who had been fed thoroughly during the journey.

“My lord Geffrei!”

The man with the lined cloak turned to face one of his men. The others were lowering themselves from their horses, and pulling up their belts over their empty stomachs.

“Yes?” he replied bluntly.

“Food is required,” said the man, pointing at the prisoner. “If you do not want it to die.”

The prisoner fell.

“Up!” shouted Geffrei, pacing towards the prisoner lying on the ground. “You’ll walk, not crawl, into my home, you dirty animal!”

A hand reached up, cracked and sore, from the figure lying on the ground, but no hand went down to meet it. Eventually, the prisoner raised itself up from the ground, and hung its head.

“Now,” breathed Geffrei with malice in every tone, “on you go. You’re the guest of honour.”

Cruel laughs rang out as the prisoner stumbled forwards against the door, clutching at the handle. It turned. The prisoner leaned, exhausted, against the door.

The room that the prisoner fell into was the Great Hall. A small brazier glinted at the far side of the room, and a medley of dogs unravelled themselves to meet their guests. Feet sounded around the prisoner as the men strode in, desperate for warmth.

Geffrei threw himself by the fire into the only chair in the room. He turned his eyes to the prisoner, who had pulled itself up to stare into his face.

“Well,” he said with a smirk. “Here we are. We have finally arrived. What do you think of your new home?”

The prisoner stood up, and with a great effort, spat onto the rushes on the floor.

Geffrei shook his head with a smile on his face. “Now, that’s no way to treat your new home,” he chastised. “What do you have to say for yourself?”

The prisoner pulled back the hood from her face, and shook her long hair and veil out from under the mud-splattered cloak.

“Where is my daughter Annis?”

murdochAbout the Author:

Emily Murdoch is a medieval historian and writer. Throughout her career so far she has examined a codex and transcribed medieval sermons at the Bodleian Library in Oxford, designed part of an exhibition for the Yorkshire Museum, worked as a researcher for a BBC documentary presented by Ian Hislop, and worked at Polesden Lacey with the National Trust. She has a degree in History and English, and a Masters in Medieval Studies, both from the University of York.

Emily is currently working on a new six part book series, as well as writing freelance.

You can learn more at www.emilyekmurdoch.com

@emilyekmurdoch
www.facebook.com/theemilyekmurdoch
www.emilyekmurdoch.blogspot.co.uk

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Sassy and Fun: It Don’t Mean A Thing by Kim Taylor Blakemore

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It Don’t Mean a Thing

Kim Taylor Blakemore

Genre: Romance, Historical

Publisher: SilkWords

Date of Publication: August 4, 2014

ASIN: B00MG4C1E6

Word Count:  20,535 pick-your-path story

Book Description: 

Ruby dreams of Hollywood. A chance encounter with The Harmoneers, an all-female jazz group, offers the opportunity of a lifetime. Follow the gang as they scheme and double-cross.

And love?

Well, it don’t mean a thing.

Excerpt:coverBlakemore

Sycamore Grove, California

1931

“I’m not marrying you, Audie McCardle. I most certainly am not.” Ruby Banks crossed her arms, pressed her lips tight, and gave a definitive shake of her head. She leaned toward the mirror over her hand-me-down vanity and stabbed a pin into her blonde curls. She twisted her head left and right, and fluffed the back of her hair. A strange tint of pink ran loose through the strands and waves. Maybe she should have been more careful with the mixture of peroxide and ammonia she’d used the previous night.

But between her mother running up the stairs and hugging her close, her father taking his pipe from his mouth long enough to yell that the hair potion was causing him an onset of lung disorder, and her little sister, Charlotte, jumping around and squawking nonsense about weddings weddings weddings, Ruby botched the dye job.

Never mind, she thought. If anyone asked, she’d say it was exactly the color she was hoping for.

Or she wouldn’t say anything at all. Jean Harlow wouldn’t say anything. Of that Ruby Banks was sure.

She snatched her apron from the end of her bed, bounded down the narrow stairs, and ignored her mother calling from the kitchen. Ruby pushed open the front gate and darted down the sidewalk. She was late (as usual) for her morning shift at the diner, and she still had to pick up the pies from Mrs. Jensen on the next block.

The early morning sun promised another day of horrible Central California heat. The sky would soon brown with the upturned soils of the fields, and the air already stank from the cows.

A beat-up Model T stake-bed truck rolled past Ruby. She heard the tires slow on the hard-packed soil of the street. Gears ground, and the truck reversed and pulled next to her.

John Mayer shifted his stub of a cigar to the other side of his mouth, tilted back his fedora, and smiled. His skin was bronze and wrinkled. He rubbed a weathered thumb across his chin. “Guess congratulations are in order.”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Ruby lifted her head and continued walking. John Mayer kept the truck rolling slowly in reverse.

“Fine boy, Audie is.”

“So everyone says.”

“You make a sweet couple.”

“We’re not a couple.”

He scratched the shirt on his chest. “You don’t say.”

“He can buy any house he pleases in the Sears Roebuck catalog, but that doesn’t mean we’re a couple. And it certainly doesn’t mean I’m going to marry him.”

“You don’t say.”

“I do say. I have plans of my own.” She blew back a curl that had come loose. “Don’t you have some hogs to tie or something like that?”

“I don’t have hogs.”

“You know what I’m saying.”

He chewed his cigar then shifted the gears. The truck took a jump and shimmied. “You got a mean streak, Ruby. Yes, miss, you do.” With that, he was off down the road in a swirl of dirt.

Ruby wiped her mouth with her handkerchief. She patted her hair and strode up the wood steps to Mrs. Jensen’s porch. She knocked three times on the screen door frame and stepped back. Mrs. Jensen shuffled to the door, balancing five boxes of peach pies.

Only the top of half of her face was visible above the stack. She passed the boxes to Ruby and wiped her hands on a flour-coated apron. “I hear congratulations are in order.”

“Aw, nuts.”

Ruby’s heels cracked against the pavement. She passed the Esso station and VFW Hall and drew near the two blocks that made up Sycamore Grove’s downtown. The neon spire of the Odeon dwarfed the squat brick of its neighbors. She glared up, worried that this upcoming non-wedding would be splattered in black and white across the marquee. Luckily not. It remained safely Gable and Harlow in Red Dust.

Maud Riley stood under the awning of Rexall Drugs, waiting, as she always did, for Ruby. Her gray felt cloche sat low on her head, the nutmeg tufts of her bob feathered under the soft rim. She shifted from foot to foot, tapping her fingers against her black-and mustard-checked skirt. As Ruby neared, Maud narrowed her eyes and blinked fast before shaking her head. She pursed her lips and twisted them into a strained smile.

“What’s wrong with you?” Ruby asked.

Maud’s eyebrows met in a frown. “Nothing. Not a thing.” She waved her hand for no reason that Ruby could ascertain and fell in step beside her. “I guess I have to wish —”

“Don’t you start.” She shifted the pies to her hip. “I can tolerate all the little gifts he gives me. I mean, a girl does need emery boards and cologne. But buying a house? That’s called unbounded impudence.”

“I think it was just a down payment.”

“It’s still a lot of cheek. What does he think? I’m going to roll over like a, like a starving dog and do whatever he commands?” Ruby stopped in front of the diner, set the boxes on the cement and faced Maud. “He hasn’t even asked me to marry him. And you know what? When he does, I’m going to laugh like this — HA-ha. Because I’ve got all that money Aunt Caroline left me, and come September, I’m going to take the bus to Merced and then the train to Hollywood. And in neither of those vehicles can you fit a Sears and Roebuck house and an ego the size of Audie McCardle’s. And when he comes in for breakfast, I’m going to tell him so.”

Maud crossed her arms over her thin frame and swayed back and forth.

“You got something to say, just say it.”

Maud bit her lip and shrugged.

“What does that mean?”

“It means nothing.” Maud swung her gaze around the street and up at the Odeon spire and then stared over her shoulder at the empty diner. “You like my skirt?”

“What?”

“I wore it just for you. So you could see how the pattern came out. And such.” She gave that funny wave again, as if she were swatting a big bug. “Never mind. I’ve got an early piano lesson to give.”

“Well, don’t let me keep you.” Ruby bent to pick up the pies. “Would you mind opening the door for me? I mean, if you have time.”

“I always have time for you.”

“Are you all right?”

“Of course I’m all right. Why?”

“You’re red as a beet.”

Maud put the flats of her palms against her cheeks, turned on her heel, and rushed away, the bell of her skirt flapping against her knees.

“But the door, Maud … ”

blakemoreAbout the Author:

Kim Taylor Blakemore writes historical fiction and romance that explores women’s lives and brings their struggles and triumphs out of the shadows of history and onto the canvas of our American past. She wishes to share the stories of women whose lives are untold, who don’t exist in textbooks: the disenfranchised, the forgotten, those with double lives and huge hearts filled with weakness and courage.

Her novel Bowery Girl, set in 1883 Lower Eastside Manhattan was recently re-released in Kindle and paperback. Under the Pale Moon, is due for release in Fall 2015. Set in post-World War II Monterey, California, it explores the relationship of a married woman breaking the bonds of conformity, and a combat nurse haunted by the ghosts of war.

Her interactive historical romances The Very Thought of You and It Don’t Mean a Thing, are out now on Kindle and SilkWords.com. She is also the author of the novel  Cissy Funk, winner of the WILLA Literary Award for Best Young Adult Fiction.

She’s a member of the Historical Novel Society, Women Writing the West and Romance Writers of America. In addition to writing novels, she facilitates workshops for PDX Writers in Portland, Oregon.

Web: www.kimtaylorblakemore.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/kimtaylorblakemore

Twitter: @kimrtaylor

“Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula” A Rollicking Good Read from Jude Pittman & Gail Roughton

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Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula

Sisters of Prophecy – Book 1

Jude Pittman and Gail Roughton

Genre: Paranormal, Time Travel

Publisher:  Books We Love, Ltd.

Date of Publication: September 29, 2014

ISBN:  978-1-77145-310-3

ASIN:  B00O2DTE1M

Number of pages:  164

Word Count:   50,000

Cover Artist:  Michelle Lee

Book Description:

What’s a girl to do? Katherine Shipton has a painting that talks, an ancestor who won’t stay in her own century, and a former boyfriend with a serious ax to grind against her new fiance. She already has a full plate, but when said ancestor sends her tripping back and forth between the 15th and 21st century without benefit of psychedelic drugs, the poor girl begins to doubt her own sanity.

Then her best friend, a high fashion model with more than her own share of psychic energy, and her troubleshooting aunt show up on her doorstep in response to a psychic SOS Katherine swears she didn’t send. Life couldn’t get more complicated.

At least, that’s what she thinks until her oilman fiancé disappears in the Gulf of Mexico and a DEA agent knocks on her door.

Available at Books We Love and Amazon

Review:

It’s hard to define Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula and do it justice. If I describe the novel as Time Travel, fans of Historical or Paranormal might pass it by. And if I add that it’s a Romance, readers who devour Suspense Thrillers could turn up their nose. The truth is, this book has enough diversity to please almost anyone but the purist . . . and I’m not sure they are ever pleased.

I read for escapism. I’m not a genre snob, I’ll read almost anything if it’s written well.  I use the Calgon principle when searching for a new book – something that can take me away from the real life drama bombarding my world each time I turn on the news or log onto Facebook. Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula did all that and more.

It’s a delightful read with twists and turns, quirky characters, a bit of darkness and some snappy dialogue. The authors maneuver between the 16th and 21st centuries with ease, adding authenticity through well researched historical data. While the characters from the two eras have their own stories, their lives are interlocked like the pieces of a puzzle. Putting those pieces together is much of the fun.

I would imagine collaborating with another writer would be difficult but Jude Pittman and Gail Roughton have successfully blended their styles into a rollicking good read . . . the first in a series. The closure at the end of Book 1  is much appreciated, as well as the tantalizing teasers which left me anxiously awaiting Irene’s story in Book 2.

I can easily recommend Sisters of Prophecy – Ursula, and after reading it, I’m sure you will, too.

Excerpt:

Katherine flitted restlessly over Ursula’s body. What was going on in that unconscious brain? Something was. She could feel it, feel a subliminal hum, like voices through phone wires, like electricity through power lines. Not that any such things would exist for four hundred or so years.

“Who are you talking to, Ursula? Sylvia, hurry!”

No answer. Not directly. Only the echo of Mother Shipton’s words.

There’s a crossroad up ahead. Or back in the past. Depends on how you think on it. If she takes one, well, then her fate—and yours—is sealed. If she takes another, her fate—and yours—is changed.

The crossroad! Was this it? The crossroad? Katherine concentrated and power hurled across the years, out of the past and into the future.

“Grandmother! Can you hear me? This is it, isn’t it? The place in time where destiny can change. But what do I do? What can I do?”

“You know what to do. Like calls to like and blood to blood. Show her! Show her where following her heart will lead her, the treasures she’ll reap! And show her what mindless obedience to the king will bring her!”

“But I don’t know any of that!”

“I do, child. And the visions of those two paths will flow from me to thee to her.”

“How the hell do you know? And if you do know, why not just show her yourself?”

“Child! What’s my name? What’s her name? What’s your name?”

“Would you please stop talking in those damn riddles of yours and just tell me what to do?”

“Child! The names! Remember the names!”

“You’re Ursula. Ursula Shipton. She’s Ursula. Ursula Sontheil—oh my God! Shipton! Toby Shipton! You’re her and she’s you and she’s Ursula Sontheil now but she’s got to become Ursula Shipton! Or I’ll—I’ll never—”

“You’ll never be born, child. Ursula Katherine Shipton will never be born. Nor any of the line before you from whence you sprang.”

“I still don’t understand! If she’s you—if you’re her—why can’t you just show her yourself?”

“I do! Through you! At this moment! Because you exist, I exist. Because I exist, you exist. If this moment passes, that chance is lost and I become that woman in the Tower, the one you saw in your dream. The one who’ll never live to be an old woman!”

“Oh, God, my head hurts!”

About the Authors:

Jude Pittman emigrated from Canada to the United States with her mom and brother when she was 14. Her time there included 12 years in Texas where the genus for her first murder mystery, “Shadows Are Deadly” now part of Jude’s “Murder on My Mind” trilogy first took root. In 1992 Jude returned to British Columbia where she met her husband John. The couple moved to Calgary, Alberta where they continue to live. Descended from the Shipton line, Jude has always been fascinated with the historical and legendary stories about her late and often maligned ancestor, Mother Shipton and her gifts of prophecy. The Sisters of Prophecy series is a fictional account of those Shipton sons and daughters who inherited Mother Shipton’s gifts.

Gail Roughton is a native of small town Georgia whose Deep South heritage features prominently in much of her work. She’s worked in a law office for close to forty years, during which time she’s raised three children and quite a few attorneys. She’s kept herself more or less sane by writing novels and tossing the completed manuscripts into her closet. A cross-genre writer, she’s produced works ranging from humor to romance to thriller to horror, sometimes in the same book.  She’s never quite sure herself what to expect when she sits down at the keyboard. Now multi-published by Books We Love, Ltd., her credits include the War-N-Wit, Inc. series, The Color of Seven, Vanished, and Country Justice. Currently, she’s working on Black Turkey Walk, the second in the Country Justice series, as well as the Sisters of Prophecy series, co-written with Jude Pittman.

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HOT DANG . . . Spice Up Your Weekend With “The Rum Runner’s Woman”

A tantalizing journey to the rip-roaring days of Prohibition (1920-1933) when mobsters, bootleggers, and rum runners waged an all-out war with the Federal Government and the United States Coast Guard.  Battles were fought in the streets and at sea in an attempt to supply alcohol to thousands of thirsty Americans willing to do or pay anything for “rot gut” liquor.

“You certainly know how to conjure up the historical period evocatively and authentically. The story is well structured, with charming characters and you have a natural, fluid writing style.” – Harlequin Mills & Boon editor

The Rum Runner’s Woman

Mia Soul

Genre: Erotic Romance, Historical Romance

Length: 298 Pages

ASIN: B00S0GE0HK

Available on Amazon

RumRunnerBook Description:

Captain Eric Bolene is a nervy daredevil and expert seaman who courts serious peril on the high seas as he engages in that very special form of American outlawry—rum-running.

In a schooner too fast to catch he outwits, outruns, and outfights the United States Coast Guard. Intelligent, brave and cunning he has made a fortune in the illegal liquor trade and by the age of thirty-one he is a very rich man. The lusty outlaw leads a life of devil-may-care until the day he anchors his schooner, the Black Heart, at Okracoke Isle, North Carolina where he meets May Kaney.

May Kaney is a nineteen-year-old woman trapped on the island by poverty and forced by her alcoholic father into a life of unending toil as a waitress in a speakeasy. A talented artist, she longs to escape to New York City to pursue her dreams of fame and fortune, and perhaps find the love of her life. She has shown no interest in any of the local boys to the dismay of her father who wants her married and out of the house.

When her boss, the local bootlegger, attempts to rape her she manages to fight him off. When he vows to keep trying until he succeeds she is forced to commit a desperate act. May hides on a rumrunner’s schooner and ends up at sea with a crew of dangerous men, and in the arms of a very handsome and virile stranger.

When Captain Eric Bolene discovers the sensual beauty as a stowaway on his ship an erotic seduction ensues with little resistance from May. She falls in love with him and willingly gives up her virginity. Eric is a skilled lover who takes his time to thrill a woman. She tells him she’d had no idea a man could give a woman so much pleasure.

When Eric’s lust for the sapphire-eyed, raven-haired, Southern beauty turns to love he is forced to reassess everything about his life. He vows to give up his outlaw ways to marry her. First he must deal with an ex-lover, mobsters and a Coast Guard officer who is determined to sink him and his schooner, the Black Heart, into the salty brine.

COWBOYS! The Circle Eight Series Continues with TOBIAS by Emma Lang

WIN 1 of 5 eCopies of TOBIAS – The Circle Eight Series

and scroll down to read an exciting EXCERPT from this Historical Western 

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Circle Eight: Tobias

Circle Eight – Volume 6

Emma Lang

Genre: Historical Western

Date of Publication: September 30, 2014

ISBN: 9780988566675

ASIN: B00NHXMZKA

Number of pages: 215

Word Count: 65,000

Cover Artist: Kim Killion

Book Description:

A broken man. A woman who needs a hero. A love that should never have been.

Rebecca Graham always knew she was to marry a hero and leave home in blissful happiness. She chose that man when she was seventeen. Unfortunately, her family hated him. In a fury over being swindled by someone else, Tobias burned down the Circle Eight, her family’s ranch. He spent four months rebuilding alongside her family in penance. When he accepts her help to nurse his grandfather, she has hopes he will become the hero she envisioned. She was wrong.

Tobias Gibson never expected happiness for himself. His brothers, adopted by their patriarch Pops, were all that matters. After Pops dies while under Rebecca Graham’s care, he cannot forgive her failure to save his grandfather. He ignores his attraction to Rebecca. There is too much bad blood between them.

Life never rolls forward as expected however. Five years after he’d last seen her, Rebecca Graham reenters his life. Together they face the storm that sweeps across their lives. They have to rely on each other and ignore the growing love setting their souls and hearts on fire.

Ebook formats available at

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TobiasEXCERPT:

April 1849

The fist that crashed into Rebecca Graham’s jaw was small but hard and full of fury. Her neck snapped back and stars danced in front of her eyes but she held on to her temper and the arm in her hands.

“Sarah, you have to let me do this. I know it hurts but I need to set your arm.” Rebecca tried again and a second punch slammed into her cheek.

“Jehosophat, girl, don’t go punching Miss Rebecca. She’s trying to help you.” The old woman stood behind them, wringing her hands and pacing. Her granddaughter Sarah had broken her arm falling out of a tree. As the nearest person who could reset a bone, Rebecca had been summoned.

Then subsequently punched for her efforts. Sometimes her need to be a healer and an herbalist seemed like a mistake. A big joke by God to punish her for being the ugliest Graham sister, the unmarried spinster, the one holding out for a non-existent prince.

“If you don’t sit still, I won’t be able to set the bone and your arm will be crooked for the rest of your life.” Rebecca had two younger siblings and a passel of nieces and nephews. She knew how to handle unruly children. “Is that what you what?”

Sarah, a redhead with a riot of freckles on her nose, pooched out her lower lip and shook her head. The rough and tumble girl reminded Rebecca of her younger sister, Catherine, full of piss and vinegar and ready to take on the world one fist at a time.

“Then let me do this. You can tell all the boys how you bit through a piece of leather rather than cry.” Rebecca reached into her tapestry bag and pulled out an old leather strop that had belonged to her oldest brother, Matt. It had grown too thin for a razor, but folded in half, it would work for an eight-year-old to bite down on. Rebecca ignored the throbbing in her cheek and put the leather in the girl’s mouth.

Sarah scowled, her red brows furrowed, but she bit down on the leather. As Rebecca took hold of the girl’s arm again, she paled, making the freckles pop out like cinnamon spots.

“Close your eyes and imagine you’re in your favorite place.” Rebecca nodded to Mrs. McGinty, who stood behind her granddaughter this time, ready to intercede in case a little fist flew again.

Rebecca stared at the misshapen arm, seeing beneath the skin and muscle to the fracture. She had set bones before, with success, but every time was new and different. Challenging and intimidating. She took a deep breath and allowed a calm to settle over her. It happened each time she had to use her healing skills and she welcomed it, like an old and trusted friend.

She positioned her hands on the girl’s arm and pulled, moving the bones into place as though completing a puzzle. Within a minute, she was done. Sarah had pressed her face into her grandmother’s belly and quietly wept.

“Good girl.” Rebecca smiled and resisted the urge to wipe the sweat off her own brow. “Now let’s put a splint on your arm and then I’ll give you something for the pain.”

“Thanks, Doc.” Mrs. McGinty had tears in her eyes. “She’s all I have left of my son.”

Rebecca understood all about family and holding onto them with all your might. Her family was all she had as well, and although there was a lot more than one, she treasured every member. Eight siblings, all on their own path in life but tied together by their family ranch, the Circle Eight.

“I’m glad I could help.” Rebecca set to work and did what needed to be done. An hour later, she packed up her supplies, noting she would need to replenish her herbs soon. There had been too many people to heal as of late and not enough time to gather the much needed supplies.

“I can’t pay you much.” Mrs. McGinty held out a few coins.

Rebecca took the money with something that tasted like guilt. She knew they didn’t have much but if she didn’t accept payment, people would expect her to work for free and that would devalue her hard work. She tucked the coins into her reticule and nodded to the older woman.

“She should keep the splint dry and on her arm for at least four weeks. I will come by next week to check on her. Please send word if you need me before then.”

Rebecca left the McGinty’s farm with her steps dragging. The sun had started to set and with it the cool spring night. Winter had held on with a ferocity not seen for decades. Spring had finally arrived mere weeks ago. No wonder Sarah had been climbing a tree. She likely hadn’t wanted to spend another moment indoors. If Rebecca had been a young girl, she’d have been running wild with her brothers and sisters on a beautiful day like this too.

Rebecca’s horse was where she left him. Well, almost. The gelding had stretched his reins all the way over to a patch of sweet grass by the nearby garden. He was happily munching away. She shook her head at his antics. Matt had given her the horse when he was barely a colt, one of the first Matt had bred from their own stock. She’d been thirteen and so excited to have a grown-up horse.

She’d named him Ocho for the Circle Eight, her family’s ranch. Ocho had proved to have a unique personality amongst the horses. The saddle horse had incredible stamina and an easy gait that made him perfect for long rides. He also had a tendency to nip at her behind when she failed to rub him down fast enough.

“Ocho, we are headed home, boy.” After untying his reins, she secured the tapestry bag to the saddle horn and swung up into the saddle. Her split skirt allowed her to ride astride, unlike Catherine, who wore britches and rode as though she had fire on her ass at all times.

By the time she reached the Circle Eight, Rebecca’s exhaustion had sharpened to the point she was afraid she was going to fall asleep sitting up. She managed to put Ocho in his stall, rub him down and make sure there was feed and water. She couldn’t manage another thing.

Matt would lecture her if he saw her in her current exhausted state. Particularly given she likely had a black eye, which was no doubt swollen too. She avoided the house in favor of the well pump in the back yard. She set her bag down and knelt in the grass. Fortunately, her brother Benjy had oiled the pump a few weeks earlier and it moved easily in the darkness. Cool water spilled into her waiting palms.

She splashed her face until she felt more awake. The requests for her services had become much more frequent as her reputation had grown. There were few physicians within a hundred-mile radius and even fewer who were readily available. Folks had started calling her Doc, which was foolish since women couldn’t be doctors, but no matter how much she corrected them, the nickname persisted. Doctor Radicy was her mentor, the man she had looked to as a savior of the local folk. He’d taught her a great deal, but she had taught herself even more.

The number of patients had tripled in the last month alone. It seemed as though every day someone came by the ranch looking for Doc. Rebecca didn’t know if she would continue to practice healing or if she would go back to being an herbalist. Truthfully she enjoyed both but that left no time for herself. Certainly no man had wanted to be with her, which suited her just fine. Being the plain sister had its advantages.

She allowed herself, in the cover of darkness, to remember what it felt like to have her first kiss. The sweet surrender to the man she had already decided was to be her husband. Too bad he had seen her as a child, someone to pat on the head and send home. It hadn’t felt that way when he’d kissed her though, nor after when they rode home in the darkness. The night had hidden what they’d done. Her entire world had shifted, leaving her changed forever.

It had been five years, yet she could still taste him, feel the roughness of his whiskers, the warm gust of his breath. Rebecca had imagined being in his arms forever. Instead, she was left with an empty heart and unfulfilled dreams.

She patted her face dry with a cloth from her bag and headed for the house. Supper would be welcome, but the explanation for the black eye wouldn’t. Matt would yell at her, or at least admonish her for letting patients get the better of her. No matter. She loved what she did and nothing would change her mind on what she wanted to do with her life.

Rebecca was a healer in her heart and soul.

*************************

Tobias Gibson stared at the knotty roof inside the cabin. The scent of whiskey pushed through his pores; his body reeked of it. Hell, he was completely sour and stale in more ways than one. Everything he tried to do fell to shit so he stopped trying. Life had become a monotonous routine, which he dulled with liquor. It was an existence, but not a life.

Tobias was alone. Very, very alone. He spent his days prospecting in the dirt and shit, his nights at the bottom of a bottle. Pitiful and stupid. That should be his new name. He tried to make a living many ways but nothing felt right. All that was left were the few acres surrounding the cabin. A tiny piece of nothing.

The sun peeked through the grimy windows, reminding him it was daytime. He needed to get up and do something besides fart, sleep and feel sorry for himself. He rolled over and looked over at the corner. Inevitably his mind drifted back to that night five years earlier. To her. She had stood there, wide-eyed and appealing, tempting him to forget all his responsibilities.

As much as he wanted to forget Rebecca Graham, she crept into his thoughts often. Too often for his liking. She was likely married with a passel of young’uns by now. He had to stop remembering how she tasted, how she smelled, how she trembled in his arms. It was torture, self-flagellation he put himself through on a nightly basis. The liquor helped but not enough.

Tobias knew he was meant to be alone. He was too ornery for any woman to love him and too much of a son of a bitch, literally, to have a friend. Even his adopted brothers had given up on him. Foolish people thought they could change him. He was still the same person who had burned down the Circle Eight ranch to retrieve his grandfather’s deed and money. He was still the same person who caused the inadvertent death of the Graham’s grandmother in that same fire.

There wasn’t much he had touched that didn’t become ash in his hands. They were black with it. Tobias knew from a young age he was poison on two legs. His mother had known it, beat it into him. Took others a bit longer to figure it out. Now everyone had, leaving him truly alone. He lived his days wandering between the minutes, wondering if the world would ever give him anything but darkness.

“Fuck.” He threw himself out of bed and staggered sideways, landing hard on the old chair beside the bed. It cracked beneath his weight and splintered. His ass slammed onto the floor, jarring his spine hard enough to make his teeth slam together.

He stared at the jagged pieces and his throat closed. Pops had made the chair long ago when Tobias had come to live with his grandfather. It was how they had formed a bond, building a few pieces of furniture, but this chair had been the first. To a lonely, wild child, it was something solid, something stable. Now Tobias had broken another memory of the man who had shaped his life.

He didn’t know how long he sat there feeling sorry for himself, but it was long enough for the sun to rise high in the sky. He finally got to his feet, slowly this time, and went outside to piss.

The ground tilted this way and that, but he held onto the side of the house, splinters digging into his fingers that he’d have to be sober enough to pull out later. It was April, or at least he thought it was. The days blurred together, although winter had been long enough to make it hard to get to town for more whiskey.

Tobias pissed behind a tree since the outhouse was literally full of shit and needed to be closed over and new hole dug. Another task he hadn’t gotten around to doing. So he pissed on a tree and shit in the bushes. No one was around to care.

He knew he was a pitiful mess. A ridiculous, pitiful mess.

He made his way back to the house and his stomach reminded him he hadn’t eaten in quite some time. After some scrounging he found a bit of jerky and a biscuit that might have been made a decade earlier. It was food and his body needed it. He resisted the urge to chase the food down with his favorite drink. Instead he went back outside to the well and used every ounce of energy he had to pump the handle until he got some cool water. It tasted good, surprising him. He splashed some on his face and hair, waking himself up a bit more.

Tobias wandered over to the gravestone that sat beneath the big tree outside the house. Pops had loved to watch the sunset from that spot. Now he could see it every day from his final resting place.

“Ah, Pops, I miss you.” Tobias sat down with a thump and rested his arms on his knees. “I’ve failed at just about everything.”

The wind rustled the branches above him, the leaf buds emerging after the cold winter. Somewhere in the distance, birds chirruped at each other and a hawk squawked in the morning air. It was peaceful outside, but he would never discover the same within his soul. It was as black as the ashes that coated his heart.

“I wish you were still here. Selfish, I know, but if’n you were here I wouldn’t be alone.”

Not entirely true, of course. Tobias had run everyone else off in one way or another. He was alone because of his own stubborn foolishness. He’d gotten fired from his last job a month ago. No, it had been three months. Three months.

Where had three months gone?

Into a bottle, he thought sourly. With very little money left, he had to do something besides drink himself into the ground beneath Pops. Not that anyone would notice if it happened. Hell, he could lay there stiff as a dead opossum for months until someone found him. Likely never even get buried. Such was the life of a man who didn’t give a shit.

“What can I do?” He shook his head. “I’m lost, Pops. I can’t find my path.”

Tobias looked south as though he could see the start of his fall from humanity. It had been five years ago when they had fallen for that con man, Vaughn Montgomery, or O’Connor, as they knew him. Losing the deed and money had been the first step to hell. Now Tobias was trapped there with no way back up.

He needed a miracle.

About the Author:EmmaLang

Beth Williamson, who also writes as Emma Lang, is an award-winning, bestselling author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her books range from sensual to scorching hot. She is a Career Achievement Award Nominee in Erotic Romance by Romantic Times Magazine, in both 2009 and 2010, and a semi-finalist in the 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.

Beth has always been a dreamer, never able to escape her imagination. It led her to the craft of writing romance novels. She’s passionate about purple, books, and her family. She has a weakness for shoes and purses, as well as bookstores. Her path in life has taken several right turns, but she’s been with the man of her dreams for more than 20 years.

Beth works full-time and writes romance novels evening, weekends, early mornings and whenever there is a break in the madness. She is compassionate, funny, a bit reserved at times, tenacious and a little quirky. Her cowboys and western romances speak of a bygone era, bringing her readers to an age where men were honest, hard and packing heat. For a change of pace, she also dives into some smokin’ hot contemporaries, bringing you heat, romance and snappy dialogue.

Life might be chaotic, as life usually is, but Beth always keeps a smile on her face, a song in her heart, and a cowboy on her mind. 😉

Website: http://www.bethwilliamson.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/bethwilliamson

Twitter: http://twitter.com/authorbethw

 

Barbara Bretton Continues The Love In “Stranger In Paradise”

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REVIEW:

If you read my October 17 review of Barbara Bretton’s Sentimental Journey, Book One in The Home Front Series, you know I love this series. Book Two, Stranger in Paradise continues with another mid-century tale that will tug at your heartstrings.

It begins with a whirlwind romance between an American reporter and a British journalist, Mac and Jane, that culminates with a quick wedding. Blissful as all this seems, there are obstacles on the horizon. The story is set in the 1950’s . . . a time of political uncertainty, cold wars, communism and blacklists. When controversial elements from their past create strife, the newlyweds must learn to bind together lest they be torn apart.

Once again, Ms. Bretton has infused life into a story by re-creating an era so vividly, you’ll swear you’ve stepped back in time. Her characters are interesting, likable  and draw you into their world with little effort. This book was a wonderful way to reminisce about a time I remember from my youth. For younger readers, it’s a great way to experience a piece of Americana.

But regardless of age,  The Home Front Series are timeless tales that will appeal to romance fans of any age.

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Stranger In Paradise

Home Front

Book Two

Barbara Bretton

Genre: Post -World War 2 Romance

Publisher: Free Spirit Press

Date of Publication: October 15, 2014

ISBN: 9781940665085

ASIN: B00MTC0RBY

Number of pages: 347

Word Count: approx. 70,000

Cover Artist: Tammy Seidick

Book Description:

Before they became The Greatest Generation, they were young men and women in love . . .

The year is 1953 and London is throwing the party of the century. Even though the ravages of World War II are still visible throughout the kingdom, the world is gathering on the Mall to celebrate the coronation of England’s beautiful young queen.

For almost ten years, journalist Mac Weaver has been far from his New York home. America has changed since the war ended and he wonders if there’s still a place for him in the land of backyard barbecues and a new Ford in every driveway.

However a chance encounter with beautiful English reporter Jane Townsend is about to change his life forever. As the new monarch waves from the window of her fairy-tale glass coach, a homesick Yank and a lonely Brit fall in love.

One week later, Mr. and Mrs. Mac Weaver board the Queen Mary for New York and a guaranteed happily ever after future in the land where dreams come true.

But there are dark shadows on the horizon that threaten Mac and Jane’s happiness and family scandals that just might tear them apart . . .

“This generation of Americans has a rendezvous with destiny.”

–Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Available at Amazon   Kobo  Smashwords  BN  iTunes

Read a sneak peek at http://www.barbarabretton.com/sip.shtml

About the Author:bretton

A full-fledged Baby Boomer, Barbara Bretton grew up in New York City during the Post-World War II 1950s with the music of the Big Bands as the soundtrack to her childhood. Her father and grandfather served in the navy during the war. Her uncles served in the army. None of them shared their stories.

But her mother, who had enjoyed a brief stint as Rosie the Riveter, brought the era to life with tales of the Home Front that were better than any fairy tale. It wasn’t until much later that Barbara learned the rest of the story about the fiancé who had been lost in the war, sending her mother down a different path that ultimately led to a second chance at love . . . and to the daughter who would one day tell a little part of that story.

There is always one book that’s very special to an author, one book or series that lives deep inside her heart.  SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY and STRANGER IN PARADISE, books 1 and 2 of the Home Front series, are Barbara’s. She hopes they’ll find a place in your heart too.

www.barbarabretton.com

www.barbarabretton.net

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorbarbarabretton

Twitter: www.twitter.com/barbarabretton

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Barbara_Bretton