Sunday, January 31, 2016

ROMANCE SUNDAY: Jacob has vowed to discover the reason Etta has betrayed him, sold him out to his enemy and left him for dead. Forever His by Christine Young

Forever His by Christine Young
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August 30, 1895
Near Buffalo Creek,
South Dakota

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Christine Young has done it again in this historical romance. The blizzards, betrayal, deceit and a ruthless bandito like Chavez made this a great romance.

Melinda for Night Owl Romance     5 out of 5


Struggling to come to terms with the part she played in Jacob St. John’s death, Etta Barringer resigns from Pinkerton Agency and seeks peace and solace in a Rocky Mountain Cabin.

Jacob has vowed to discover the reason Etta has betrayed him, sold him out to his enemy and left him for dead.

Isolated in their cabin, they discover their love for each other and learn to trust. But the trust is shattered when Jacob learns she is married to his sworn enemy; the man who left him in the desert to die.


The sun beat down. Searing heat waves hit the hard packed earth, blistering, charring everything, even the dry prairie grass. Jacob St. John, his arms stretched overhead and bound to a whipping post, no longer counted the lashes tearing into his back, no longer felt the horrific agony.

More than a half-dozen men and one woman were gathered in the sage-patched backyard of the run-down shack. So far not one person made a sound as they watched Chavez wield the whip, stripping the flesh off his back.

If Chavez weren't so angry and seeking revenge of his own, he would probably have just had him shot. Revenge was a powerful motive. Chavez wanted Jacob to suffer, to yell before he died. It seemed Etta Barringer did too. So far Chavez was toying with him, taunting and teasing him, cutting an inch here, ripping an inch there, not doing much damage but making mincemeat out of his back.

Jacob hadn't made a sound yet, not even a sharp, indrawn breath. He wasn't about to even though he knew Chavez would get impatient and start slashing. There was no hurry. Chavez had as long as he wanted. No one save Etta knew where he was, no one would come looking for him, at least not until the sun went down. By then Chavez would be done with him, and he would either be dead or buzzard-bait. For the life of him, he couldn't figure why Etta would hand him over to Chavez. She had always been Pinkerton to the core, yet she had betrayed him once before. If he survived this, he meant to have answers. He'd move heaven and earth to search out the lying Etta Barringer and find out exactly what she had against him.

The pain of betrayal at the forefront of his mind, and vows of revenge against the instigator of this kept him going. He focused on the woman's laughter and the scent of lemons that permeated his soul.

He had been taken by surprise. Still, he didn't go down easily. It took all of Chavez's men to get him bound securely to the post in back of the shack. And of those men, not one came away from the encounter without a scratch. Blood from the multitude of small cuts Chavez had inflicted ran in rivulets from his back, pooling on the parched thirsty ground, soaking into the dirt, staining it.

He stood, his head proudly erect and that seemed to draw anger from Chavez. The grip of his fingers curled around the top of the post, the only sign of Jacob's pain--and fury.

The first real stroke of the whip felt like a red-hot branding iron searing across his back. Jacob didn't flinch, nor would he as long as he could hear her laughter or smell lemons floating languidly on the breeze. He wished he could see her, stare into her beguiling, green eyes until she knew he'd never stop hunting for her. Fury at his own weakness rose, and the anger he felt deep inside simmered, because she'd always attracted him. Ever since she showed up in a small town in Oregon, seduced him then drugged him and left him to sleep off the opium-laced whiskey, she'd fascinated him.

Concentrate on her--on what you're going to do when you find her again . . .

Christine Young has done it again in this historical romance. The blizzards, betrayal, deceit and a ruthless bandito like Chavez made this a great romance.

Melinda for Night Owl Romance     5 out of 5

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Sci/fi Fantasy Saturday ~ The story tells of Len, a miner; his wife Emily; two sons, Jimmy and Arthur; and twin daughters Grace and Ellen. Dress With Grace by Sheila Sharpless

Title: Dress With Grace
Author: Sheila M. Sharpless
ISBN: 978-1-62420-141-7

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


Brought up in a poor mining family Grace was ambitious. A qualification in millinery, prior to ambulance driving in the Great War, provided a spur.


The story tells of Len, a miner; his wife Emily; two sons, Jimmy and Arthur; and twin daughters Grace and Ellen. A mining accident leaves Len and Jimmy jobless, and to make ends meet, Emily has to work. The Great War sees the young ones enlist and heartbreak when one is reported missing. A young doctor appears after the war is over and sees the family through an unpleasant experience.

Grace has a dream that has always with her. Will it come true?  Will she achieve her ambition?  She moves to London to find out where she meets people who wish to help but setbacks depress her. However, unforeseen forces are building to help her.


"Come on Jimmy me boyo. Get up. We'll be late for the next shift, let alone the first one."
"Oh Da do I have to? I'm that tired. Can't I have a day off?"
"Day off?" shouted Len, his dad. "I've never had a day off in me life. Come on, yer mam's done yer bread and tea to take. The lamp lighter's been round already."
Len yanked the blanket off Jimmy and pulled him out from under his mam and da's bed where he slept each night. Jimmy was eleven years old, had left the school set up for working class children and was now able to work in the mines. He was a good looking lad with brown tousled hair, bright blue eyes full of questions and a very expressive face. Sometimes he felt really happy and grown up, working beside his da whom he adored. At other times, he hated it, the darkness, the cold dripping water, the smell and the rats that ran across his feet.
Perhaps just as bad, the journey down in the cage, but he knew it was a way of life, the way it would be till either his lungs gave out or he was too old to carry on. Although he hated the mine, he was a courageous boy knowing he had no option but to follow his da. Sometimes too, he felt jealous of his sisters, Grace and Ellen, twins. At ten, they worked in the clothes factory. Girls weren't allowed in the mines and after the act of 1891 they were supposed to attend school daily. Unfortunately, money was needed for the family so they rarely attended even though education was free and compulsory. Until this Act, parents had to pay a penny a week but many parents were unable to afford it. Jimmy was sent to school because it was considered more important for boys, but the girls grumbled about the work they had to do more than Jimmy did about his. "Awful hard they work us," grumbled Grace.
"Yes." Ellen joined in. "If we dare to talk they'll take some of our wages."
"At least you're mostly in daylight, you two, and you can see the sky." Jimmy thought they were lucky, much luckier than he was. "I never see the daylight. It's dark when we go in, dark when we come out, and we know it's dangerous, not like yours."
Ellen stood with her hands on her hips. "Well that's all you know. Those sewing machines can stitch your fingers to the plate if you aren't careful, and the rollers, bye, young kiddies have fallen asleep on the loom and lost their heads almost. Been badly hurt anyway."
"Jimmy, will you come now?" Len was getting angry.
"Coming Da." Jimmy rushed off, shouting. "Bye, bye Mam," Emily handed Jimmy his bag of bread and his jug of tea as he followed his da, who was hurrying to the mine.
Although it was late summer, the early morning was chilly, and Jimmy shivered as he walked down their street, Shaftesbury Street. Jimmy liked the name, because the street had been named after a prime minister and it made Jimmy feel quite proud when, if he was asked where he lived, he would say, "456 Shaftesbury Street."
A lot of miners were neighbors and sometimes Jimmy and his da would walk along with one or two, chatting about the football team or just about the mine, or the weather.
Passing St. Thomas's they heard the church clock strike four times. Four o clock. Their shift began at four thirty. They began to hurry past the row of terraced houses, each like their own, the front door opening on to the street. Two up, two down, a lavvy outside the backdoor, and a big sink in the kitchen for washing clothes and people.
Jimmy knew nothing else. He was born there as was his da and until his wedding would continue to live there. He loved the little house and particularly the kitchen where they all sat round the big, scrubbed wooden table. There were chairs, rather old and scruffy for the grownups but the children sat on a bench Len had made from a plank and two large pieces of wood, which he brought in one day from a wood merchant he knew. By the range, was an old armchair where Da liked to sit after supper. The cover of the chair was fraying, and you could see the coarse horse hair stuffing underneath. If you sat on it in bare legs it prickled horribly, but the kitchen was the family room, warm and cozy. Sort of friendly, Jimmy thought.
He was proud of his da, who was not a tall man, but strong, muscular with a thatch of brown hair, which rarely seemed free of the coal dust, despite his harsh rubbing with soap. Brown eyes which could look so kind, but also, when he was angry, blazing. Len was a good but stern husband and father with fixed ideas of his place in the family. He was a stubborn man and although he was never sentimental he cared a great deal for his family.
Looking up at him now, Jimmy noticed on his da's face the little blue marks that many miners got from the long and close contact with the coal.
It was nearly sunrise. The sky was getting lighter and they were hurrying up Pitt Hill, with the mine workings towering high above them. Jimmy saw other miners gathering, some coming up a different hill, Strawberry Hill, hurrying to get to work on time. Others were coming from another direction, crossing the moor, up from Glendower Valley. Yet more were behind them, leaving Shaftesbury Street as he and his da had done. Some two or three were singing, the sound taken up by others and ringing down the valley.
Jimmy suddenly remembered, it was the horrid foreman, Joseph Evans, on duty that day, the one they all hated. He was a bully and never gave anyone a good word. He'd threaten any boy, who wasn't working as fast as he said, with the strap. Many boys felt the leather belt on his leg or bottom, 'though the man would never dare, if he saw the boy's da watching. He was a mean looking man, tall, swarthy, as if the coal dust had got into his skin, his hair, his arms, permanently. His eyes seemed to be too close together, and yet he could fix anyone with a steely look, leaving the smaller children shaking with fear.
Once into the mine building, Jimmy knew how much he hated going down in the cage. It was always the same, first the crowding in, squashed so tightly that people pushed, trod on toes, dug elbows in ribs. Some had flattened noses and the dreadful feeling of your tummy falling out as the cage made its quick rattling way down to the coal face. It always began with the foreman pushing you in and shouting.
"Come on, get in. I haven't got all day to wait."
Someone would say, "Ow, get off my foot."
The reply came, "Well stop pushing then."
Then the foreman, "Shut up talking, come on there's six more to get in yet."
Jimmy got into the cage and there were the usual groans from everyone as the pushing and squashing became more and more unbearable with breathing almost impossible. When the cage reached the mine floor, everyone got out, while the foreman grumbled at them, telling them what to do, shouting at them,
"Come on you boys, you'll be hurryers. Know what that means?"
They have to know, so they say, brightly, "yes," even though they know it's one of the hardest jobs in the mine, and taxed all their strength.
"Yes sir, it's pushing the coal cart, one pulls and another pushes."
Then the foreman gave them a push and said.
"Go on then, get on with it."
He turned to another boy.
"You, boy, and you, you're carryers. Know what I mean?''
"Yes sir, we carry the coal, in a backitt."
For once the foreman was pleased and said, "Yes. One puts the backitt on the other's back, and then he carries the coal you put in it. Right?"
"Yes sir."
These two knew only too well of the backache that would follow.
"Go on then and be quick about it. You littl'n," he turned to the smallest boy "you will be the pump boy."
At this the little boy began to cry, "I don't w-want to b-be a p-pump boy. The w-water comes up and nearly drowns me. The r-rats eat my b-bread."
In spite of the boy's obvious terror, the foreman had no sympathy.
"Shut up, yer little misery. Yer've only gotta open a door and let the hurryers through. I don't want ter tell yer again."
One of the adults got angry and said to another, "'E oughta be horse whipped, the way 'e treats those litt'luns." He started towards the foreman but others held him back.
"Calm down mate, you won't do good making a row. You'll only get into trouble."
"Yes," came the reply, "but I reckon Lord Salisbury, who stopped kids under the age of ten working underground, would do something about the way these children are treated if he knew."
"You gonna tell 'im then?" joked someone.
"No, get over," was the reply.

The day, as always seemed to be endless, although all miners had to get used to the dark and the noise of men with their large tools hacking at the coal seam. Jimmy sometimes felt smothered, unable to breathe properly. At last came the time to go back up in the cage to walk back to the comfort of his home where his mam would be waiting.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Super-mom Tallie O'Shea took on eight adopted children and built a legacy of compassionate justice. Challenging the Legacy by Genie Gabriel Friday's Featured Title

Genie Gabriel

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1

Super-mom Tallie O'Shea took on eight adopted children and built a legacy of compassionate justice with her policeman husband. When he is gunned down, she doesn't think it's an accident. Then a former lover shows up and the lies from her past start unraveling. As dangers explode around her, can Tallie set things right before everything she loves is destroyed?


The pressure of Pierce's fingers on hers surprised Tallie. She knew speculation about the two of them had been raging through town since Pierce showed up the night Halo exploded. Fitting, it seemed, since his arrival and the news he was Marly's biological father had rocked the foundation of her world.

Events continued to unfold at a rapid pace, including the whirlwind courtship and marriage of her oldest son, Collin, and local café owner, Beth Boulanger. Tallie already loved Beth like a daughter, though she had questioned Collin about the haste of their wedding.

However, Beth glowed with innocent love as she walked down the aisle toward Collin. And Tallie had never seen her oldest son as happy as when he took Beth's hand and tucked it under his arm, then turned to face his brother, Patrick, who was performing the ceremony.

"Dearly beloved..."

What a difference the packed church was to the intimate setting when Tallie had married Bernie. Just the minister, his wife, and Bernie's uncle, along with Collin and Patrick, who were still wary little boys not believing they might actually have a loving home of their own.

Collin is so handsome. Just like Bernie was.

Tallie dabbed at her tears with a tissue. Bernie had worn a navy blue suit and starched white shirt. Tallie wore the new dress he insisted on buying for her and carried a bouquet of flowers--real ones--from the florist fifty miles away. The two boys were self-consciously silent in their borrowed suits and slicked-down hair.

 "This will be a real marriage." Bernie had told her when he proposed a union so the boys would have both an adoptive father and mother. "You decide when you're ready to be physically intimate. But I'll always be faithful to you."

Tallie touched the wedding ring still circling the third finger of her left hand. A ring that had belonged to Bernie's grandmother.

When they married, Bernie spoke his vows clearly and looked directly at her. In all their years of marriage, Tallie knew without a doubt Bernie had indeed been true to her. He never gave her reason to think anything else.

You would be so proud of your children, Bernie.

As she dabbed at her tears again, Pierce took Tallie's hand and smiled at her. What would her life have been if she had married Pierce? She would have missed out on all her children, as well as the courage that came with being part of Bernie's legacy. She might have become as bitter as Portia Stratford.

She had loved Pierce with a deep physical passion--in a different way than she loved Bernie. She and Bernie were partners, with a love that grew from shared respect and purpose. No matter the past and whatever the future might hold, Tallie was grateful she had her marriage with Bernie and the blessings of all her children.

Only time would tell if her relationship with Pierce would become more than being parents to Marly. Today, Tallie simply cherished this beautiful time of her oldest son marrying the woman he now gazed at with total devotion and love.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Willfully stubborn, innocently courageous, Callie Whitcomb braves a journey through the treacherous highlands. Highland Honor by Christine Young

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

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Highland Honor
The first book in the Highland Series

Willfully stubborn, innocently courageous, Callie Whitcomb braves a journey through the treacherous highlands to the Macpherson castle. Callie flees from an unwanted marriage as well as her ruthless half brother. Naively she believes Colin MacPherson, the head of the clan, is loyal to her father and will give her sanctuary, protecting her from the vile plans that have been made for her.

As hard and as unyielding as the winter storms that sweep through the countryside, Colin is irresistibly drawn to the impetuous beauty who has magically appeared on his doorsteps. Despite his vows of revenge against her father, she stirs his passion as well as his sense of justice...but to love her would violate all his vows of revenge.

Scotland November 1512:

A heavy frost sat on the frozen earth, and a full moon shone clearly between the heavy clouds dotting the sky. Lady Callie Whitcomb looked over her shoulder as she raced through the deepening gloom toward the lighted tavern ahead. Every shadow, every mournful sigh of the wind sweeping through the trees, every chilling animal sound filled her with terror. Fear for her life drove her to put all thoughts of danger aside. He would follow her, find her, and drag her home.


"Don't think of that now," she reminded herself fiercely, even while tears stung in the back of her throat and fear made her limbs tremble. "Don't ye dare think of home. It no longer exists." Nothing and no one could coax her back or make her believe there was naught but terror in the home where she'd been born.

"I will never marry Lord Huntington. Never!" she whispered fiercely, the chill night air solemnly echoing her words.

Her stepbrother, Archibald Covington III, made sure she could never return.

"There ye be, lass! I've been waiting for you."

The voice rose from nowhere and surprised her. Her heart froze, lurched, then began an erratic beat, while raw nerves snapped, sending a myriad of sensations racing down her spine.

"Archibald--" she whispered, panic sweeping through her. "He's found me." All she could hear was the pounding of blood in her ears.

Before she could reach her destination, before she could find safe refuge from him, his men had found her. No! Not now. Not when she thought she had eluded them all.

A wave of fear sweeping through her reminded her, that if caught, she would be taken back to Archibald and forced to marry Lord Huntington.

"I'll help you down, lass."


Before she could react and spur her horse forward, callous, rough hands centered on her waist then pulled her from her mount.

"No!" She cried out to no avail. Regaining her wits, she beat fiercely upon the man's broad chest, tearing at his face and his thick beard with her fingers.

"Ach, lass! Hold still! I mean ye no harm. Stop this--" His voice was gruff and impatient.

Fear for her life had spurred her haste. Terror she might see Huntington or Archibald with each turn of the road haunted every hour of her journey. Archibald had retainers everywhere. Messages would have been sent. A highlander could be bought.

"Ruffian! Unhand me! Ye barbarous Scotsman."

If Archibald had guessed what path she followed...

"Verra well, ne'er let it be said that I dinna do a lass' bidding." Just as suddenly as he'd grabbed her, his hold upon her vanished. She stumbled backward.

Instantly, she found herself sitting on the frozen earth. The man towering above her watched her with concerned dark eyes. Despite the scar stretching from forehead to chin, his mouth quirked upward in a humorous slant.

"Ye be a handful, lass."

Mary of A Romance Review says, "Overall I liked the story and can recommend it as a worthwhile read. The author has a lot of talent and the plot and tension of the story are well handled."