Until April 30, you have a chance to win free ebooks of all romance sub-genres by the 11 contributing author by participating in this giveaway. Either go to Connie Bretes’ website (the event sponsor) website here or enter via the rafflecopter.
If you haven’t already participated in the giveaway for a chance to receive free ebooks in several genres, don’t wait. Click through to the page on Connie Bretes’ website or enter through the Rafflecopter below.
My giveaway, Silent Signals, is a historical western romance set in December 1887 in Aspen, Colorado with a rancher and a woman who trains shepherding dogs.
I’m participating in a multi-author giveaway along with thirteen other authors that could land a free book in your ereader in time for Christmas enjoyment. Lots of genres are represented, from historical to contemporary to mystery and from sweet to sassy.
So be sure to click either on the Rafflecopeter below or on the link that takes you to the facilitator Connie Bretes’ website.
My giveaway title is a Christmas-themed novella titled Silent Signals.
Tagline: Will the valley’s feud between cattlemen and shepherds keep Konrad and Anora apart?
BLURB: After losing half his herd in the Great Blizzard of 1886, rancher Konrad Werner needs to safeguard his cattle. Tomboy Anora Huxley trains the Australian Shepherds and Kelpies that run the family’s sheep herd. Although cattlemen and shepherds are at odds, the pair discovers common interests. A threat is overheard, and Konrad rides out to Anora’s ranch to protect her. The tense situation reveals their true feelings. Will Anora be swayed by family loyalty, or will she listen to her heart that responds to Konrad’s silent signals?
Hi, Linda, thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I write freestyle. I’m a pantser, not a plotter. Years ago, I took classes to study plotting. I tried using 3 by 5-inch cards for each scene, colored posted notes for each character and made outlines of the book. This works well for many writers. But I had a bout of writer’s block when I tried it. My creativity shut down and I was stymied. Now I write as Jo Beverley used to say, “out into the mist.” I know where the book starts and ends. After that, I let the characters take me through the events and plot twist. I add characters as I see they are needed. In one of my romantic suspense books, Shattered Rules, I was more than halfway through the book when I realized the person I thought was the villain was a red herring and another character became the bad guy.
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I listen to all kinds of music, rock, classical, jazz, etc. I’ve even listened to the international news for a suspense book I was writing. For the Sierra Creek Series Her Country Heart Christmas Edition and His Country Heart, I played country western music as the books takes place in a small town in the foothills of California, with a strong cowboy and a determined woman.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
Three of my favorite places for a vacation are San Francisco, Carmel by the Sea and Lake Tahoe, California. I’ve used these locations in several of my books, including two suspense and a western contemporary. It’s great to go online and check out cities, but nothing can compare with meeting the people of the area. I experience the food, weather, and atmosphere, things not available online. I’m looking for another place to visit–any ideas?
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get struck in creating a story?
Often, I’m writing two books in different genres and I will switch to the other genre. When I’m really puzzled, I take a break and do something completely different, garden, cook, read, etc. If I have enough time, I’ll take my dogs out for a walk. I bring my phone/camera and take pics of whatever attracts me on that day. Usually an idea comes to me during the outing.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
I grew up with a dog and a cat. Now we live with two dogs, a pure bred and a rescue puppy who barks too much, but is very sweet. I’ve also raised a puppy for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She lived with us for over a year and then returned to guide a woman in Southern California. I’ve also volunteered as a foster care person for Guide Dogs for the Blind. I always wanted a horse, but it never happened. Still, I enjoyed researching quarter horses for my cowboy in Her Country Heart Christmas Edition.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
A review of one of my books said, “…a darn good read.” That’s what I hope for readers, to have a compelling read with characters they care about and are hard to forget. Whatever their mood, I want the reader to get lost in the story and come away with a sense of optimism.
Crazy for cowboys? Want to fall in love?
Will Amy Long have a home for Christmas?
A single mother, she was downsized and then lost her apartment in the city. Hoping to find a fresh start, Amy returns to the small town of Sierra Creek. Does she fit in? Cowboy Wyatt Cameron knows she belongs in the city and he has the power to see she returns. Sparks fly when opposites attract.
“Sierra Creek,” the driver shouted as the Greyhound Bus came to an abrupt stop on the two lane highway.
Amy Long pushed her hair behind her ears and grabbed the worn suitcase. Surprised to see her hand tremble, she seized the case with both hands and rushed toward the front of the bus.
A gust of hot wind slapped her face as she stepped off the bus. Gravel pelted her bare legs when it drove away. She squinted and read a faded road sign, Sierra Creek population five thousand. There wasn’t a building in sight.
After years of living in the city, she’d forgotten how sweltering and desolate it was here. She’d vowed never to return home. Odd it was the first place that came to mind when she and her young son needed a fresh start.
With Granny gone, there was no family left to welcome her. She swallowed a sob. Maybe it was a mistake to come back.
The relentless afternoon sun beat down on her shoulders and her arms began to burn. San Francisco, the air-conditioned city, seemed a million miles away.
Impatient, she cleared her dry throat, wiped perspiration from her forehead, and let out a groan as the minutes ticked by. What wouldn’t she give for some shade and a bottle of ice water?
With a sigh, she pulled out her smart phone and checked the time. Thirty minutes since she’d arrived at the bus stop and not a single car had gone by. Where was the arranged ride into town?
Granny’s handyman was supposed to meet her. He obviously wasn’t a stickler about being on time. She reminded herself she was in the California foothills not in a busy metropolis where time was money.
The sound of a truck rumbled in the distance. With the back of her hand, she pushed her bangs out of her eyes and squinted. Hopeful, she watched the pick-up come closer. A shiny black Ford F 150 with extended cab pulled up in front of her.
“Amy?” A man yelled through the open window as his brown hair fell casually over a high forehead and deep-set blue eyes sparkled in the sunlight. She moved nearer and stared at his wide cheek bones, square jaw and full lips. About thirty?
A flutter of recognition stirred in her as palpable charm radiated from his broad smile, Wyatt Cameron.
His muscular arms flexed as his huge hands squeezed the steering wheel. “Don’t just stand there. Get in.”
Surprised by his gruffness, she stepped back.
“I heard you need a ride into town,” he said quietly as if he understood her reaction. “I’m Wyatt.”
“Hi, nice to see you again.” Even now her cheeks burned with the memory of him. She tightened the grip on the suitcase. As she stared her heartbeat increased and her breathing quickened. “Granny’s handyman is going to give me a ride.”
“You could say that’s me. Toss your suitcase in the back and get in the truck.”
She shook the pebbles from her flip flops and picked up her suitcase. Filled with everything she and her son might need, she grunted and struggled to lift the enormous bag high enough to push it into the raised truck bed.
Wyatt hopped out of the cab and brushed by her. With a sharp intake of breath, she took in his fresh just-out–of–the-shower scent.
Effortlessly, he tossed the bag into the truck.
She quickly hauled herself into the vehicle and slammed the door. “Nice pick-up. Beautiful upholstery,” she said trying for casual conversation. She ran her hand over the black and white leather seat.
“It’s custom. Had it done in Sacramento by a guy who specializes it tuck and roll car seats.”
Pretty fancy truck for handyman. The job must pay better than she’d thought. For some reason she’d believed Granny’s handyman would be an old retired guy gnarled from too much sun and hard work, not the hunk sitting next to her.
“Where’s your son? Thought he’d be with you.”
“He’s staying with a friend of mine in San Francisco. Bobby’s only four. I thought it’d be better if I took care of things here before he comes to the farm.” She paused. “It’s only been a few hours since I left and I already miss him.”
She sighed and leaned back. The purr of the truck’s engine soothed her and her breathing slowed.
“Thanks for giving me a ride. If you drop me at my grandmother’s farm I’ll change my clothes.”
“It’s too late for that. We can’t keep Judge Wilcox waiting.”
“I’m HOOKED!!! …A seriously great book!! and I am so happy it is a series, because I am invested in what happens to Amy and Wyatt.
An author of romantic suspense and contemporary romance novels including “The Sierra Creek Series,” where strong cowboys and determined women intersect. Reggi writes tales of love lost and then found and stories of heroes and heroines who discover love and wonder if they’ll live long enough to enjoy it. Her characters cope with longings and betrayals as each fight to discover a hidden strength.
At University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), she studied screen writing and creative writing and is a past chapter president of Romance Writers of America and current member of RWA.
It makes her day to hear from readers.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a kindle eBook of my new novella With Glowing Hearts, a World War Two romance- Love can be found in unexpected places. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced at the end of the day.
Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.
In the Moment, my latest contemporary romance published by The Wild Rose Press, was inspired by a tour of a local Victorian mansion that my girls and I took. The house was for sale, and as we wandered the three floors admiring the woodwork, molding and features unique to Victorian mansions, I couldn’t help but wonder about the people who used to live there. Their history seemed to ooze from the very walls and floors. I would have given anything to buy the house, finish the renovations and live there, but unfortunately it was out of my price range. So instead, I decided to set my next book there. It is now the main setting of In the Moment and I enjoyed revisiting the house through pictures as I wrote. I worked really hard on the cover with the cover artist—I wanted to convey the tone of the book and include the house—I think she did a great job!
Cassie Edwards, a former foster child, purchases an 1870s Victorian mansion, the one home from her childhood where she felt like part of a family. She’s spending her summer lovingly restoring it, with dreams of one day raising a family of her own here. Rayne Tucket, a photojournalist, is haunted by the death of his best friend in Afghanistan, a death he thinks is his fault. He survives day to day. Forever is not in his vocabulary. Swearing off photography, he answers an ad for a handyman—mindless, no emotion involved. As the two of them renovate her house, can Cassie show Rayne that love is strong enough to heal all wounds?
The intimate closeness made her stomach flutter. The proximity of their bodies, the rush of the water, and his feathering touch on her lips made her dizzy. She gripped his arms for support. He grasped her waist, staring deep in her eyes.
He was going to kiss her. She knew it. His pupils dilated. Time slowed. The rushing water pounded around her. She opened her mouth, as much to drink in air as to get ready to kiss him back. His eyes narrowed, focused on her lips. She leaned toward him. Their wet bodies pressed against each other. Her breasts tingled, and her stomach heated at the contact. She wanted this to go on forever, but at the same time, she wanted him to hurry up and kiss her so their lips could finally meet. At the last possible second, he pushed away.
She stood there, confused and aching.
“I’m not the staying kind, Cassie.”
She frowned. “What do you mean?”
“A woman like you needs a man who’ll stay forever. My time here has an expiration date.”
She ducked under the water. When she came up, she pushed her hair out of her face. “I know you’re leaving. You don’t have to, though.”
“Yes, I do.”
“Because I have a promise to keep.”
“What kind of promise?”
“The unbreakable kind.”
Jennifer started telling herself stories as a little girl when she couldn’t fall asleep at night. Her favorite stories to write are those with smart, sassy, independent heroines; handsome, strong and slightly vulnerable heroes; and her stories always end with happily ever after.
In the real world, she’s the mother of two amazing daughters and wife of one of the smartest men she knows. When she’s not writing, she loves to laugh with family and friends, is a pro at finding whatever her kids lost in plain sight, and spends way too much time closing doors that should never have been left open. She believes humor is the only way to get through the day and doesn’t share her chocolate.
She writes contemporary romance, some of which are mainstream and some of which involve Jewish characters. All are available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
GIVEAWAY: One commenter randomly selected will receive an e-book copy of her backlist title, Addicted to Love.
I’m enjoying my new brand! Nope, I didn’t get a tattoo and no cowboy sizzled my skin with his logo. I’m talking about my new author signature: a suspense writer who spikes her novels with romance and exotic settings. Call me an inexpensive travel agent, if you want to. With my novels, I promise you exciting adventures in a new locale, every time.
It took a friend to point out the obvious. My characters and I enjoy adventures in far-away places with people and cultures that challenge our sensibilities. Mix in mystery, danger, and romance. Watch the intensity spike!
LAST RESORT, my first novel, published by Wild Rose Press in 2011, began my ‘trend’ by taking the reader to an isolated fishing resort in British Columbia, Canada.
My three-book series (FADEOUT, FAINT, and SWOON), about a boutique funeral planner whose dead clients refuse to rest in peace, is set in Arroyo Grande, California, which was foreign to me when I first arrived from Washington State in 2001. FEAR LAND’s adventures focus on San Luis Obispo, California, a sure bet for tourist fun.
Watch how far and wide I travel in my next novels:
LIE CATCHERS: Petersburg, Alaska, settled by natives first, and lots of Norwegians later
BAD LIES: Italy (Rome and the Amalfi Coast)
CÉZANNE’S GHOST: Aix-en-Provence, France
FIRE IS NICE (coming soon): Sequoia National Park
You see, when characters are out of their comfort zone, away from home and the homey, the suspense ramps up. Soon we discover how resilient, flexible and confident we are, when faced with unfamiliar territory.
All this provides a juicy, boiling, embroiling stew stirred up by a writer like me.
How about you? Do you enjoy/use unusual settings to challenge characters (and readers)? Please comment for a chance to win a free e-version of CÉZANNE’S GHOST. From those of you who respond to the question between today and Friday at 6AM, I’ll pick one winner at random.
I hope you’ll celebrate with me, the release of CÉZANNE’S GHOST, climbing aboard for a wild, suspense-filled ride in exotic Aix-en-Provence, France.
BLURB Three young American women vanish in Aix-en-Provence, France. The FBI suspects their American tour guide.
Leon Beaudet, formerly a U.S. Olympic wrestler, is proud of his five-star guide business, but when tourists disappear on his watch, the FBI dredges up a violent episode in Leon’s past and tap him for the crime. Worse, his new tour group includes Aline Kerig, who is as beautiful and carefree as the three missing women. Leon is fascinated and puzzled by Aline even while he fears for her safety. She refuses to go back to the States, forcing the FBI and local police to involve her in the hunt.
With the French tourist industry about to collapse and Leon as a prime suspect, how does he protect Aline and find his lost tourists?
E-book & print on Amazon: http://a.co/bQdl7jp
When Pelican Book Group asked me to write a “New Adult” novella for their Pure Amore line, I jumped at the chance. I had a story in mind that came from the heart. A large part of this book harkens back to my teenage years, to a boy I had a huge crush on. He was definitely in the “elite” segment of our church youth group—the cool kids I so longed to be a part of.
In A Semi-Sweet Summer, I tried to transfer some of that raging angst into fodder for Cassidy’s discomfort in finding her unrequited love living right next door. Cassidy never really fit in, hardly that enviable cheerleader, not a person that anyone would notice. Rather, she sees herself as sort of an ugly duckling. Can anybody out there relate?
Cassidy Cooper is back in town. Ten years earlier, she’d given her heart to a boy who’d humiliated her deeply. As the beneficiary of her sister’s estate, she’s determined to accomplish her sister’s dream, a chocolate truffle shop.
Hunter Gray is intrigued by his new neighbor. His escape artist cow, Marigold, engineers an introduction…but it’s not the impression he was hoping for. Baffled by the suspicion he’s seen this woman before, he plots to win Cassidy’s heart.
With her unrequited love interest living so close, Cassidy prays for strength. Hunter? He just wants to get to know the pretty girl next door.
BUY LINK — Amazon
With weighted steps, Cassidy headed toward the car and crumpled into the passenger seat. “Where’d you get all that energy, Gabby? Don’t country people meander?”
She vaguely remembered when her life felt more like a brisk walk than the frantic gallop of her life in the big city. Vaguely.
“Us country-people tend to stroll through life and enjoy the journey—unless there’s fried chicken involved. Then it’s every man, woman, or child for themselves. Ready?” Gabby shifted into gear and prepared for take-off.
Out of the corner of Cassidy’s eye, something huge and decidedly bovine moved over by her property line. “Hold up.”
Gabby pulled up short and Cassidy stiff-legged it out of the car. She strode across the lawn, her heels sinking into clover with every step. When she was ten feet away from a mangled fence, she spied a man headed in her direction, picking his way across the field next door. His periwinkle-blue cotton shirt stretched across broad, muscular shoulders, his thick, dark-brown hair was ruffled by the light breeze.
OK, he had nice, wide shoulders, but she had a damaged fence. She stepped closer. The oxford button-down fit him as if it was made for his fine physique. Her ex-boyfriend’s London tailor couldn’t have done any better.
Cassidy moved another step closer. The man’s chestnut-brown eyes, with a hint of copper, zeroed in on hers as he swiped an errant lock of hair off his forehead.
The blast from her past nearly slapped her to the ground. In high school, she’d pined for this man from afar. In her adolescent journal, she’d waxed lyrical about his many fine attributes. She’d lain awake countless nights dreaming of the dimples in his face, his broad chest…and his lips.
And then, at the end of her sophomore year, he’d ruined it all. Her passion swung the other direction—hatred for his despicable self.
Hunter whistled through his teeth, a slow smile gracing his lips. “Well, hello, neighbor.”
“Is that your animal on my lawn?” She knew a bovine when she saw one, and this one was impressive. Long, long legs, massive hooves, and…who knew cows could be so whopping enormous?
The cow turned dark, liquid eyes on Cassidy and she could swear the creature smirked. Wickedly. As if it were claiming the lawn as its own.
“Oh, you mean Marigold?”
He named his cows after flowers? “Yes. Why is Marigold on my lawn?”
“What can I say? She’s the adventurous type.” He pushed a hand through hair the color of brisk iced tea—that wavy, tousled hair. “Don’t worry. I’ll fix your fence.”
She screwed up her face until she found the semblance of a smile. “Fine. And I’d appreciate it if you’d get your cow off my turf. Now.”
Why wasn’t she over this stomach-clenching angst? She’d forgiven him years ago, so why did the rusty barb of humiliation pin her like a bug to a board?
She smothered a sigh just as the recalcitrant cow lifted her tail and plopped a cow-pie on spring-green grass.
JAN ELDER is an inspirational romance writer with a passion for telling relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while also providing an entertaining and engrossing love story. She lives in Maryland with her beloved husband and two pampered cats.
Connect with Jan
One ebook will be given away to a lucky person who leaves a comment on this post.
Today is my day to have a question & answer featured on the Party Page on The Romance Reviews site where the celebration of the site’s 6th anniversary is going on all month.
Click here for a chance to win tons of books and prizes from the multiple authors in various genres featured each day.
My giveaway is a copy of my latest contemporary release, Sweet Inspiration.
Today marks the approximate one-year anniversary of the release of A COWBOY CELEBRATION, a seven-story historical romance anthology published by Prairie Rose Publications. Contributing authors are: Agnes Alexander, Linda Carroll-Bradd, Julia Daniels, Lorrie Farrelly, Meg Mims, Angela Raines, and Beverly Wells. An added bonus is each story mentions a tasty picnic dish and the recipes are included.
My novella is titled Forged By Fire, and I loosely based the story on the Beauty and the Beast fairytale.
Can a wounded soul find solace in the attentions from a cook who nurtures through her culinary creations?
Ivey Treadwell, cook at her family’s boarding house, wants to accomplish something big. For now, she satisfies herself with improving on the traditional recipes for the boarders by adding herbs and spices she gathers. An incident with a broken pan causes her to see Berg Spengler, the town’s blacksmith, in a new light.
Stigmatized for his huge size and blamed for his brother’s injury, Berg has discovered being alone is safer for his heart. But when he sees interest spark in Ivey’s eyes, he decides to take a chance and approach her. The pair discovers an attraction that heats up each time they are alone together. Will Ivey convince Berg his wandering days are over and home is here with her in Comfort?
Additional stories include:
The Longest Way Home by Lorrie Farrelly—Maddie, an orphan, is torn when her father shows up to reclaim her from her adoptive mother.
Winner Takes All by Meg Mims—Cora Peterson’s plan to beat her rival at a picnic auction brings about a surprising end and an unexpected love…
For the Love of Grace by Julia Daniels—Poppy travels west to find her sister—but her own happily-ever-after awaits, as well.
Brighter Tomorrows by Beverly Wells—Callie trusts no man. Chase Matlock is fearful to love again. He gets his man, she gets her adventure, and together they find it all.
Second Chance at Love by Agnes Alexander—A temporary living arrangement might lead to something else when love enters the mix.
Never Had a Chance by Angela Raines—How can a deadly trick bring two people the love they didn’t know they needed?
Leave a comment about your favorite Fourth of July food for a chance at winning an ebook.
Tell us a bit about you and your background.
Hello Linda, and thank you so much for welcoming me on your blog today. I live in the very green and pretty Rossendale Valley in Lancashire, England, and although it is very different from Lyon in France where I grew up, I love being here! I always wanted to live in England (I blame Jane Austen, the Brontë sisters and Thomas Hardy for firing my imagination!), and I came to work at the university of Manchester as soon as I finished my studies in France, and I never left!
I now teach full-time time in a secondary school. I have three children, two boys and a girl, who are growing up very fast.
What’s the logline that describes your writing?
Atmospheric settings, haunted heroes and unconventional heroines.
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
My characters always come first and somehow the plot evolves around them.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
I don’t plan enough and that always leads me into trouble. Every time I start a new story I resolve to plot more and not rush into things, but every time it’s the same and I end up backtracking, deleting, rewriting…
If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.
I love listening to music, but not when I write. I prefer silence – although in my house, that never happens! However there are always specific songs and composers that accompany me whilst writing a story. For example, when I was writing my DANCING FOR THE DEVIL Trilogy, I listened to Rumours by Fleetwood Mac as well as to traditional Scottish folk songs. When I was writing THE LION’S EMBRACE, which is set in North Africa, I listened to a lot of music from local Tuareg artists, including modern ones such as Bombino.
What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?
Research starts the moment I get an idea for my plot. I absolutely love it! I love the excitement of finding anecdotes, facts or pictures which will make my story and characters come to life. And very often I will find a little gem that will steer in a completely new direction.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
I go for a walk either on my own or with my daughter. Although she is only ten, talking to her can sometimes help me see the way forward in a story. Another thing that works for me is scribbling on my notebooks and letting my imagination run wild.
What’s your dream vacation destination?
I have several! I love going to Devon and Cornwall. Last summer we went to Northumberland and it was absolutely breathtaking! I still dream about the long walks we took on the beach near Bamburgh Castle.
Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?
All the time! I love travel guides, paintings, history books and maps for inspiration about locations. I also need to find a photo of my hero – or a few and then I do a mix in my mind – but funnily enough, not of my heroine as I always know exactly what she looks like. I have recently ventured on Pinterest and had a lot of fun creating boards for my novels.
What resources do you use for picking character names?
Maps and road signs, especially in the West Country, Devon and Dorset, are great sources of inspiration for characters and location alike. I do like to look on the internet for first names and I try to make them as realistic to the period and setting as possible. There are great sites around – for example, Gaelic names for boys and girls.
BLURB for The Dream Catcher, book 1 in Dancing With The Devil trilogy
Can her love heal his haunted heart? – Cape Wrath, Scotland, November 1847.
Bruce McGunn is a man as brutal and unforgiving as his land. Discharged from the army, he is haunted by the spectres of his fallen comrades and convinced he is going mad. And he is running out of time to save his estate from the machinations of Cameron McRae, heir to the McGunn’s ancestral enemies. When the clipper carrying McRae’s new bride is caught in a violent storm and docks at Wrath harbour, Bruce decides to revert to the old ways and hold the clipper and the woman to ransom. However, far from the spoilt heiress he expected, Rose is genuine, funny and vulnerable – a ray of sunshine in the long, harsh winter that has become his life.
Rose is determined to escape Wrath and its proud master – the man she calls McGlum. Will she be reunited with Cameron McRae, the dazzlingly handsome aristocrat she married after a whirlwind romance in Algiers, or will she risk her heart and her honour to help Bruce discover the truth about his past and solve the brutal murders committed on his land?
A giant stepped in front of her. Dressed in black riding boots, black breeches and riding coat, he was so tall and his shoulders so broad the already dark horizon darkened further.
His voice was deep and calm, the voice of a man used to be obeyed. The crowd hushed at once.
He bent down in front of her.
‘Well, well, who do we have here?’
Even though she could hardly see his face, she felt his eyes bore into hers, and it was enough to make her mind go blank.
‘Where are the others, your servants, your maids?’
‘I… I don’t have any.’
‘Really? That’s a surprise. All right then, come up.’ He held both his hands out.
She hesitated a moment before placing her hands in his. He pulled her up and she flew straight into his arms, landing with a bump against his broad, hard chest. He was so tall she had to tilt her face all the way back to look at him. Her heart skipped a beat, then started bumping fast and loud.
His eyes were grey and framed by dark eyelashes, his nose straight and strong, his cheekbones high and sharp. Thick black stubble covered his cheeks and chin, and his hair flew around his face, the colour of a raven’s wing. There was something dangerous about him, something reminiscent of a brutal warrior from days long gone by.
She wriggled to free herself but he didn’t let go and his mouth curved into a mocking smile.
‘Well, Fàilte, my sweetheart. ‘I’ll say this for McRae. If there’s one thing the rascal can do, it’s pick his fancy women.’
His hand slid from her waist and he patted her bottom.
Her reaction was instinctive. She swung her arm and lifted her hand to slap him. She didn’t have the chance. Without batting an eyelid he caught her wrist.
‘Steady on, sweetheart. You have a nasty little temper.’
‘And you have no right to insult me in this way, you vile brute,’ she hissed. ‘I am not Lord McRae’s fancy woman, as you so elegantly put it, I’m his wife!’
She had expected at least a shocked response or a groveling apology but he merely smiled.
‘It’s all right, gràidheag, you don’t have to pretend.’
‘Pretend you’re married to the man. I don’t care if you’re McRae’s mistress or his laundry maid, if you scrub his back or his dirty shirts.’
‘I am telling the truth, you stubborn macaque,’ she shouted in frustration. ‘I married Lord McRae in Algiers four weeks ago.’
‘Please don’t scream quite so loud. I heard you the first time. I just don’t believe you.’
‘First you introduce yourself as Rose Saintclair, now you’re spinning me a tale about being married McRae. Make up your mind, sweetie.’
He glanced at her hand. ‘I don’t see any wedding band on your finger.’
‘That’s because Cameron wanted to keep the wedding a secret. Never mind, I don’t have to explain anything to you. Now let go of me.’
She wriggled to break free, but he was still holding her wrist, leaving her no choice but to kick him hard in the shin with the tip of her boot – the very pointy tip of the fashionable new boots she had made in Algiers.
‘Ouch. Steady on, sweetheart.’
‘Let go of me, you deranged baboon! And stop calling me sweetheart.’
She kicked him again, harder. He muttered something in a strange, guttural language she didn’t understand and let go of her so suddenly she staggered backward and fell on her bottom on the hard, wet cobbles.
Her breath caught in her throat, her heart beat hard, erratic. Tears blurred her vision as people sneered and clapped around her. She knew McRaes and McGunns were enemies, but she had nothing to do with their feud, so why did everybody here seem to hate her so much? And why was the big hairy brute intent on humiliating her and not believing a word she said?
He stepped closer and offered his hand.
‘Come on, now, sweetheart. Let’s start again. I think we got off on the wrong foot.’
He sounded contrite but she wasn’t ready to forgive to forgive him. Ignoring his hand, she scrambled to her feet, and straightened her back. Attack was the best defence, her brother often said, and Lucas knew what he was talking about. He was the best scout in the whole of the Barbary States – or Algeria as the French now called her country.
‘Take me to your master immediately,’ she started in a voice as cold and steady she could manage, ‘so I can ask him to have you whipped for your insolence.’
There was a collective gasp from the people around them. Not looking in the least impressed, the man crossed his arms on his broad chest and arched his eyebrows.
She took another deep breath.
‘That’s what I do to disrespectful servants on my estate, and I can assure you they stop smirking after five lashes.’ That was an outrageous lie, of course, but no one here was to know.
‘If what you said earlier is true, then I see McRae chose his bride well.’ The man’s eyes were now hard as steel. ‘You and he are indeed a match made in heaven, or in hell. I’m sure you’ll be very happy together.’ He paused. ‘I’m sorry to disappoint you, sweetheart, but I don’t approve of whipping people, or beasts, for that matter.’
‘And I don’t care a fig if you approve or not. It is for your master to decide your punishment, and from what I’ve heard of Lord McGunn, he is neither a patient nor compassionate man.’
He arched his eyebrows. ‘I didn’t know I had such a bad reputation.’
Rose’s heart stopped. He wasn’t… he couldn’t be…
‘I realise I failed to introduce myself. I am Bruce McGunn.’ He bowed his head in a military salute.
‘You are?’ The words came out as a squeak.
His lips stretched into a tight smile that didn’t warm his eyes.
‘At your service, my lady. Now the introductions are over, shall we make our way to the Lodge?’
Marie offers an ecopy (pdf, mobi or epub) of The Dream Catcher to one person who leaves a comment on this blog.
The second book in the Dancing With The Devil trilogy, Blue Bonnets, is also available now.
SNIPPETS FROM 5-Star Review
“This is an arresting and original story, full of suspense, well-researched, with great descriptions of the Scottish setting and a wonderfully likeable heroine.”
“From the very first sentence I was hooked.”
Sword Dance will be available in March, 2016
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, England, for the past few years and likes nothing more than dreaming up romance stories and handsome, brooding heroes. She writes historical and contemporary romance. Her contemporary romance A SPELL IN PROVENCE, as well as her historical romances, ANGEL HEART, together with the award-winning THE LION’S EMBRACE, and the DANCING FOR THE DEVIL Trilogy (which includes THE DREAM CATCHER, BLUE BONNETS and SWORD DANCE) are all published by Áccent Press.
You can find out more about Marie Laval and her novels on her Amazon UK Author Page.
She also blogs at http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/ and has recently venture on Pinterest where she loves finding photos for every one of her novels (https://uk.pinterest.com/laval0232/)
and lastly on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/marielavalauthor/?fref=ts