Saturday, August 31, 2013

Christine Presents: A good writer possesses not only his own spirit but also the spirit of his friends. Friedrich Nietzsche

Highland Song
Christine Young
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 4

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Ayr, Scotland

Lainie MacPherson let the crumpled wanted poster drop to the ground. Her stomach knotted and fear snaked down her spine. Beneath the shadows of the hooded cape she wore, Lainie searched the room for her enemies.

Every man here fit that description.

Forced into a trap of her own making, out of courage, friendless, and terrified Lainie did the only thing she could think of to bring the pig Bertram to his knees.

She would steal the temptingly displayed secret papers that were on the table in front of her. Papers she hoped showed troop movements--papers stamped with the King's seal--papers she could hand over to her brother, Hawke.

First Lainie made sure the shadows in the tavern hid her from view, shrinking into the dark interior, hiding her face with the hood of her cape. She tried not to stare at the dark-haired stranger who had absent-mindedly set his jacket and satchel on a table with the documents she sought poking out almost as if they challenged her with a secret invitation. The man’s dangerous, dark looks sent a strange sensation of heat coursing down her spine.

English soldiers like Jericho Manning and Rory Slater were more dangerous and more terrifying than any highland lass should have to deal with. To make the situation worse, she didn’t need a dark-haired stranger to make her fingers shake and her insides quake.

Lainie inhaled a deep steadying breath. Easy, she told herself. Go nice and slow. The stranger looks half-drunk and the tavern maid sitting on his lap has all his attention.

"What’s in it for me?" Rory asked Jericho, his haggard features lighting up with anticipation and snagging Lainie’s attention.

"Only what Bertram wants to give you himself." The dark stranger looked at the
English officer. The fingers on one hand tapping the oaken table top impatiently.

Rory’s toothless grin sent a shiver of fear down Lainie’s spine.

"Jericho always gives me his left-overs," Rory said. “You going to give me this one?”

Rory’s diabolical laughter sealed the darkness in her heart.

Jericho nodded then leaned forward. "I want the lass. And I’ll have her before I give her over to Bertram. She’s only a whore."

Lainie nearly gasped but stopped herself. Courage, Lainie, you’ve been in tighter spots than this. It was not her plan to give herself away to these men.

She inhaled a long, deep breath once more and reached for the satchel beneath the soldier's jacket. A few more seconds and all would be hers. A few more seconds and she would hand the papers over to a friend. Someone who would carry them to the Scottish King.

She committed no treason here.

She was Scottish to the core.

This was for the good of her country--not England. Besides she’d already been labeled a traitor by the crown of England. She had nothing to lose.

If Bertram suffered a set back, his lack of attention caused the problem.

Aaron Slade let his hands slide up and down the arms of the lass sitting on his lap while his steely gaze seemed to be riveted on Lainie MacPherson.

He knew what the young woman was up to before she’d committed herself to stealing. He had read the determination in the girl's posture when she backed into the shadow-filled corner of the tavern, pulling her dark cloak around her slender frame and letting her hood shadow her face. The combination of steady eyes and slightly trembling fingers had given her away.

He would make sure neither Jericho nor Bertram could get their sweaty hands on the girl. He’d heard stories. He believed them--every word.

Jericho didn’t even realize the girl he sought stood in the corner. Moreover, Slade didn't mean to tell Jericho. Slade had his orders. He was to find her and bring her to Edinburgh where she would be tried for high treason. The charges were lame. Now that he watched her stealing the phony papers he’d planted in the pocket of his jacket, he wasn’t quite so sure.
The rumors had it that a lot of men had wanted the lass, but none had gotten her. He’d thought all along Bertram had been one of those men. A cynical smile shifted the line of Aaron’s black mustache. There was nothing new in that particular game. Teasing and promising men something they wouldn’t give was a primal game played by every woman ever born.

But there was something very different about this woman.

An air of sadness and vulnerability emanated from her. Aaron methodically lowered his lids when he glanced from the girl who sat in his lap to the woman whose fingers were closing over the sealed documents. He couldn't help but stare at her. The woman's eyes were a clear, uncanny blue that matched the color of the sky on a bright summer day. The few strands of hair escaping her hood were so blond they were nearly white. The cloak she wore was plain, but did nothing to hide the lush fullness of her figure beneath the cloth. The vision he imagined set him to thinking about what it would be like to unfasten the cloak, strip away all the other fabric covering her and touch the luminous skin that lay beneath the tattered cloak.

Aaron was irritated at the direction his thoughts went. He was certainly experienced and old enough to keep sexual need away from his mission. He had been taught and teased by the most expert females on this earth. He’d learned more than one lesson at their hands.

Looking at Aaron, Jericho swirled the contents of his tankard.

"I don’t figure I can trust any man. Who’s to say that if you find the girl, you won’t want to keep her for yourself," he said to Aaron. "She might be worth a damn sight more than what old Bertie is paying you to bring her to him."

The devil you say," Rory retorted with a smug grin. "I have it on good authority and knowing old Bertie for years, he likes nothing better than to share soiled goods. We both know he’s the only one who can save the girl from a conviction of treason."

Jericho looked coldly at Aaron but didn’t refute Rory’s statement.

Aaron urged the tavern wench from his lap and kept his eye lids lowered slightly. He watched the girl, and if he was right, she was about to dip her hand into the pocket of another man. She had moved from her spot near his table, using the shadows in the tavern to hide herself. She brought up a fat purse and slipped it inside a different sack than the one she’d put the papers she’d stolen from his satchel.

The stories about her were intriguing enough, but it was the rumors of Lainie MacPherson’s spying that held his interest. To him any one who could spy on his country was a traitor. But Lainie MacPherson, if she was anything like her brothers, was Scottish bone deep. To Lainie, what she did here would not be treasonous because she would be loyal only to the Scottish King James. In addition, the rumor--the ones of Lainie prostituting herself for information--didn’t bother him. Women did what they had to do to survive. And if the rumors were true, he would find a way to enjoy her charms while he took her to Edinburgh for trial. To him women’s flesh was sweet and soft, but women were as fickle as newborn kittens. They were far too easily corrupted, and so many times they turned out to be less than they seemed. He never let any woman touch his heart.

Silently, Aaron measured the distance between the door and the MacPherson wench and wondered at the innocence, or was it guilt, he saw flash in her eyes for one brief moment when she met his glance. From what he’d heard, the Scottish cause was everything to the MacPhersons. This would not be the first time they pitted their clan against the English crown.

But this time it was the most foolhardy.

The smile he gave Lainie made her look away. He watched as her shoulders quivered, and she shrank back into the shadows. He felt a wave of nausea sweep through him when he thought of Lainie being at the mercy of a man like Bertie for even a single night, much less until Bertie grew bored with her and gave her to Jericho and Rory.

Silently, he told himself he would never let her fall into Bertie’s hands, because he meant to bring her straight to the authorities in charge. If she were guilty of treason, she would be prosecuted. If she were not guilty, he would see she was set free and he would personally escort her home.

For the first time, he felt justified in his mission and the exorbitant pay he would receive for handing the girl over. If anything, there was a certain justice in cheating Bertie out of his spoils. He acknowledged that once he caught Lainie, he would have not only Rory and Jericho after him, most likely the MacPherson brothers would be on his tail as well.

A man bumped into Lainie near the door. Aaron thought he would see her pick this man’s pocket too. The movement was quick. Except for the slight of hand and Aaron’s vigilance, he would have never seen the exchange of the satchel from Lainie’s hand to the man's. The document Lainie just handed over was worthless, but the stolen goods were not. They would find out soon enough he had baited her, set the trap, and she’d fallen for it. Would he have Lainie in his possession when that was accomplished? Or would Jericho?

Aaron shifted slightly, not wanting to give Jericho and Rory any indication that he meant to leave. His hand was on the hilt of his sword. Silently, he measured the catlike elegance of the girl with the determined posture and long back. It would not be much longer when Jericho and Rory discovered their own missing goods.

He rose and walked toward the door, barring her way if she meant to flee yet he was not sure he would stop her. "You sure you wouldn’t want to stay a while and keep me company, Miss…what was the name again?" Aaron asked, though he knew very well.

"’Tis naught your business," she said softly, lowering her dark sooty lashes as if she meant to flirt. "A gentleman would not ask a lady he didn’t know."

Lainie MacPherson’s voice sounded calm and controlled. Nevertheless, he knew she’d been in this position often enough, that she knew how to handle herself and no longer hesitated, knowing full well the consequences if she did. In any case, her compliance was not a part of his plan for her abduction.

Aaron’s instincts kept whispering that this woman was somehow different from women like Sarah and Anna, unfeeling women who cared nothing about anyone save themselves and the fortune and titles that could be gained from marrying into the right families. At the same time, he had no doubt Lainie MacPherson could kill a man.

"You should take heed," Aaron said softly, ignoring the other man who had now slipped quietly out the door.

"Remove your hand. sir," she told him indignantly.

Aaron shrugged, outwardly indifferent, his fingers settling once more on the hilt of his sword, ever wary of the girl and her next move.

The tavern’s hush changed into a humming of male voices as people left their drinks and focused on the pair standing so close to the door where unbeknownst to them an unspoken challenge had just been issued by both parties.

The stakes revolved around a woman named Lainie MacPherson and release from the commission he’d bought so many years ago he couldn’t remember. As for the bounty, Aaron Slade didn’t care a damn about it.

Aaron was certain he would end up the winner in this cat-and-mouse game. Besides the obvious, he wondered how the woman with trembling mouth and steady blue eyes had ended up on a wanted list issued by King Henry himself and standing in one of Scotland’s most infamous taverns. So intrigued by her he would move heaven and earth to learn her story.

"I know what you handed over to your companion," Aaron said with a bit of impatience, trying not to give away his purpose before it was necessary.

"I don’t know what you mean," she said softly with a sardonic smile gracing her intriguing mouth.

"You stole something that was mine. I mean to get it back. You need to remember that England rules this land--all of it." He inhaled deeply the soft scent of her that seemed to be hers alone. It seemed to possess all his senses.

Her shoulders stiffened as her gaze raked over him. "I’m Scottish, and loyal to James," she said, her voice wavering. "Henry doesn’t rule me or my kin."

"Slade," Jericho said, stepping forward, "what’s--"

The wolfish smile Aaron gave Jericho stopped him cold in his tracks.

"Who’s the girl?" Jericho asked pointedly. "You the sharin’ kind, Slade?"

"No one of interest," Aaron said smoothly lying to Jericho.

Aaron moved in front of Lainie, blocking the men from seeing her face and her hair. He didn’t know if they’d recognize her but something Rory had said earlier made him think Rory at least had met her. Given a choice, he would have taken her by the arm and escorted her away from these two cutthroats. Now he didn’t have a choice. He would have to let her go and hope he could catch up to her.

Lainie could melt into the forest if given a chance. She knew these lands better than most. And her companions were sure to be waiting for her a safe distance from the tavern. If her friend wasn’t waiting for her, where would she go? A sudden and unmistakable sickening feeling swept through him. Fear for this slip of a woman clouded his judgment.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Christine Presents: Friday's Featured Title

Legacy of Angels
Genie Gabriel
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3

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"I'm not safe anywhere." Terror beat in Claudia deGras' heart, pulsed through her veins, shut down any rational thought. Get out of here!

She bolted toward the door, not daring to look back as the sound of heavy footsteps followed her.

The old brown sedan sitting in the driveway always had the keys in the ignition. Most of the time, it started without much protest.

Claudia flung open the door and cranked the key. The engine caught and roared as she shoved the accelerator to the floor. Two doors banged shut as the old Buick slid sideways on the gravel, then found traction on the pavement.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Patrick O'Shea on the wide bench seat beside her, his hand braced against the dashboard for balance, but his face reflected his normal serenity.

Could she trust him? Did she have a choice? And where was she going?

She eased her foot off the accelerator and settled the old sedan into a speed that wouldn't get them stopped by the police, though patrols were rare on this sparsely traveled road in Eastern Oregon.

While she drove the highway in silence, the childhood memories of curses and shouting and fists landing heavy blows on her body receded, and her panicked mind calmed down.

No one had harmed her today. In fact, over the last few weeks the O'Shea siblings, including Patrick, had rearranged their lives to protect her from the man-beast who stalked her.

She shivered.

The man-beast was the real danger.

"Take the next exit." Patrick's deep voice interrupted Claudia's thoughts.

Patrick's wisdom and gentleness had provided a balm to Claudia's soul many times during the time she had been recovering from her physical wounds at his mother's rambling farmhouse. Today, she discovered the emotional fears were deeper than she imagined. Facing the man-beast again--even in her memory--pushed her into a panicked flight.

Now reason was returning and adrenaline ebbing, and Claudia floundered. Once again, Patrick's reassuring voice provided an anchor, so she followed his instructions. Down a paved road for several miles, flanked on either side by acres of rangeland turning dusty gold in the early summer heat. Then another turn onto a graveled road with no other traffic. Finally off any road entirely, bumping over the rangeland to come to a stop under a sheltering copse of trees near a lake.

After Claudia turned off the engine, Patrick opened the car door. "Come with me."

He walked toward the lake, not looking back.

Claudia watched him for long minutes. Was he simply going to leave her?

The land sloped downward where Patrick now walked, making it seem like he was disappearing. When only the top of his head was still in view, panic seized Claudia once again. "Wait!"

She jumped out of the car and slammed the door behind her, running to catch up with Patrick. She topped the knoll and stopped, her chest rising and falling rapidly with exertion and fright.

Patrick stood looking up at her, the same serene expression on his face. Then he turned and continued walking to the water's edge. Hidden in the tall reeds was a raft that looked as if it would sink with the weight of the family of ducks swimming nearby. However, when Patrick climbed on, the craft barely dipped before stabilizing. He turned and reached out his hand in invitation. Cautious but curious, Claudia climbed aboard.

Using a long pole, Patrick pushed them across the lake and under a rocky outcropping. He secured the raft to a sawed-off tree stump that served as a pier post for a make-shift dock and stepped off. "Be careful. It can be slippery."

Intrigued, Claudia once again took Patrick's hand and climbed off the raft. They walked toward a sheer rock cliff topped by ruins of what could have been an ancient stone cathedral. However, as they reached the cliff, Patrick slipped through a notch in one of the rocks. Once inside, he retrieved a flashlight from a pocket in the rock wall and turned it on, revealing a narrow corridor. Claudia followed him down a winding pathway for what seemed like miles. Patrick walked without hesitation, turning down side tunnels until she felt totally disoriented.

At last he stopped in front of a solid rock wall. Well, it appeared solid. Until he slid aside what must have been a doorway, revealing into a cavernous room.

"Where are we?" Claudia asked.

Patrick turned with a half-smile. "Safe. That's what you wanted, right?"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Christine Presents: If you wish to be a writer, write.

Before I wrote my first book I had a conversation with my mother. I told her, as a lot of newbie writers say, I can write a book. And she said "then why don't you do it?" That was about ten years ago and since then I've published fifteen books. If you want to accomplish something, you need to put your butt in the chair and do it.

Travel through time and read the story of Sean Michael Sterling and Reagan Douglas.

Title: Highland Miracle
Author: Christine Young

Genre: Romance/Fantasy/Paranormal
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2

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HURTLED THROUGH TIME, Sean Michael Sterling, landed in the midst of a May Day celebration he didn’t understand, assuming the role of Laird Sterling.
ILLIGITAMATE CHILD OF NOBILITY, Reagan Douglas searches for a way out of her half brother’s house.


New York City 1895

"I dinnae ken what this contraption could be. I must be aff my heid," he said reverting back to the old language his great grandfather had spoken from time to time.  Sean Michael Sterling walked around the tall red object he'd just come across in Central Park. His heart thundered with the realization this was an anomaly and for some reason...
"Is this a fire hydrant?" he murmured totally intrigued. Cautiously stepping closer, he rested a hand on the object of his fascination. The hackles on the back of his neck stood on end. The thing was smooth and touching it sent shivers up his spine. If this was a hydrant, it sure could hold a ton of water.
For some reason... his mind shifted and he thought time machine—Jules Verne—his favorite book.
He leaned in and smelled, nothing, just the scent of metal. He didn't recognize the odor. When he stepped back, he caught a hint of Daphne floating on the air. A slight breeze sifted through the meadow, filling his senses with new cut grass, wet dog, and something he couldn't quite identify.
Thoughts of pixie dust came to mind.
I am off my head.
A small dog ran around his heels, yipping and barking. "Crazy dog." Sean leaned down and rubbed the dog's ears. “You look like a bandit. Wonder where you came from? Go on, now. Where's your owner?"
The dog sat down, wagging his tale and stared at him. It seemed the animal was telling him he wasn't going anywhere.  "Now, Bandit, you need to go find your owner. I'm not one to be taking you home with me. Don't think my landlord would appreciate a dog in the building."
Strangely he was the only one in the park, or at least this corner of it. The sound of carriages could be heard in the distance. He suddenly felt isolated and completely alone. The damn thing compelled him to know more, seeming to reach out to him and beckon. An eerie keening started in the back of his mind and grew. The impulse to explore overwhelmed him. Even as he looked at the machine, his mind cautioned him to stay away, but his curiosity sprouted to an uncanny level.
A little voice in the back of his head urged him forward. Damn, but he needed to go home. His stomach growled complaining of hours without food. His eyes burned from the fire he'd just been on and his body cried out for sleep. Rubbing his sooty hair, he muttered to himself.
But thoughts of what was inside this monster contraption intrigued him more than the demands of his body.
Walking around the monstrosity, he kept his hand on the metal all the while looking for an opening.  What shocked him and what was more surprising was the fact that little Bandit found the opening for him.
Bandit sat down in front of what appeared to be a door and stared at him again. It seemed to Sean that Bandit dared him to see what was inside. Well, he'd never been a man who could resist a straight on challenge.
He inhaled a long and very deep breath. Closing his eyes he counted to ten. Even though the day was cool, sweat beaded on his forehead. He walked into fires, lifted burning timber, and he'd never really been afraid a day in his life.
This contrivance terrified him.
Nerves snapping, Sean pushed on the door. It slid sideways, revealing a dark abyss. He stepped back. Fear raced through him, caution cried out to him but he ignored all warnings.
Curiosity propelled him forward.
Bandit ran inside. "No," Sean cried out. "Dinnae....
Silence chilled him to the bone and a cold sweat broke out on his body. Birds chirped in nearby trees.
All seemed right with the world—except for this machine.
"Come here." He crouched down and called to Bandit. Bandit didn't budge. Instead the dog cocked his head to one side and seemed to be saying. You come here.
Sean wavered then stood his ground. Bandit seemed to like it in the machine.
And yet...
An extraordinary golden dust swirled around him, warming him like a golden rain.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Christine Presents: When writing a novel a writer should create living people; people not characters. A character is a caricature. Ernest Hemingway Read more at

Have you ever heard an author talk about their characters as their best friends? Do they become the people they care about most, at least for the duration of the writing of that book. Writers cry with their characters and laugh with those wonderful people.

Meet Keely Gray and Ian MacPherson in Highland Magic. Travel their journey.

Highland Magic
Christine Young
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 3

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Throughout the Highlands she is known as Keely, the witch woman. She is a great healer-a woman whose dreams come true. Ian MacPherson is a man who puts honor, loyalty and duty above everything. Their lives are entwined when Ian is sent by the Scottish King to bring Keely to trial for witchcraft. He is attacked and left for dead, but Keely rescues him. When he wakes, he discovers he has no memory. As he remembers his lost past, Ian finds that his need to protect the woman who has saved his life eclipses his duty to his king and country., He is a man torn between honor and duty to his country and the woman he loves.


Scotland, Summer 1513:

For a moment the man's gaze met hers, bored into her heart, questioned. Blood curdling war cries rode the wings of death through the timeless night. Claymores clashed. Dark eyes the color of midnight flashed a challenge. The holy man's opponents hesitated then lunged once more.

Moonbeams reflected light from the gold chain he wore around his neck. Brown robes fell from massive shoulders. Three more enemies appeared from the trees. The priest fell to the ground, wounded by the broadside of his enemy's weapon. Motionless, he lay on her flower-strewn meadow, blood staining the grass and wildflowers, marring the colorful, summer landscape.

Keely Gray woke, heart pounding a rapid staccato. She pressed against her throbbing temples with sweat-slick palms, hoping to ease the horrific pain that always accompanied the dreams. Death--the scent of blood, fear and treachery still hung heavy in the darkened hut. The prickling sensation radiating from her spine to encompass her body was too familiar.

She listened and heard nothing.

A dark void impaled her. The usual night sounds stilled. She heard no hoot of owl, no chirp of crickets, no croak of frogs, nor could she hear the mournful sighing of the wind through the branches of the old oak trees.

Silence emptied her heart as well as her soul, leaving only an ever-present loneliness.

Keely wanted nothing more than to cuddle into her bed and pull the covers over her head. Despite the unspeakable agony deep in the pit of her stomach, she rose from her pallet. Her limbs trembling, she slipped a shapeless tunic over her head and soft-soled shoes onto her feet. As she swept past the front door, she grabbed her woolen cloak.

Light from a full moon illuminated the path. She could see, but she could also be seen, the moonlight both a curse and a blessing. Approaching the meadow she'd watched in her dreams, she slowed her pace and waited. Her fingers wound tightly around the amber pendant she always wore, her only keepsake from her mother.

The sounds and scents hovering on the wind would tell her if danger still lurked. Caution guided her. A vigilance she'd learned long ago held her motionless.

 A familiar dragging sound reassured her she wasn't alone. "Whipple?" she whispered.

A self-appointed guardian angel appeared as if from nowhere then nodded, though there was a wary cast to his faded blue eyes. "Aye, lass, I'm here. I heard ye leave your hut. I would not leave ye alone to face whatever dangerous mission awaited."

Keely waited for Whipple to close the distance between them before she spoke. "I would argue with you about your appearance here at this great hour, but I ken it would do no good. You should not be here. Your heart--"

Whipple spat. "My heart is fine."

She determinedly stepped forward, approaching the meadow of her dream, knowing she wouldn't like what she found.

"Have it your way, then." Given a choice, Keely wouldn't have come to this meadow. But she had to know the truth--had she seen the future or something happening at that very moment?

Whipple didn't reply. On his clubfoot, he followed her, his trailing leg sliding behind him with a soft swish. The hard thud of his crooked oak cane followed at a slightly skewed interval.

Together they crested the hill. Below her, she saw her dream. A priest lay on the ground, his head twisted at an odd angle. For a moment her heart stopped. She bit down on her lower lip while she studied the man.