Excerpt Wednesday – More Trail of Dreams

Jan 28, 2015

It’s Wednesday! You know what that means. It means it’s time for an excerpt. Here’s a little bit that I just love from Trail of Dreams

TrailofDreams_3D

He nodded to the ferryman. “Tell the fine lady here that she needs to be careful of dragons in the prairie grass.”

The ferryman laughed as he poled the raft along. “Can’t rightly say I ever saw me a dragon out here.”

“There you have it,” Katie said, crossing her arms where she sat. “Idjeet.”

The ferryman working the rope on the Boyle’s raft tripped and staggered, tipping the raft slightly to the side. Katie gripped the edges of her wagon seat and lost the color in her face. Even yards away, Aiden could see the fear back in her eyes.

“Just because this gentleman has never seen a prairie dragon doesn’t mean they don’t exist or that you shouldn’t be careful of them,” he argued on, his tone as mocking as he could make it. “Why, there could be one just around the river bend, waiting to snatch you.”

With a quick, wary gesture, Katie snapped her head up to meet his eyes. “Are you out of your mind? Has all that fiddle playing filled your head with fuzz?”

She was fighting it. The color came back to her face in splotches, but at least it was coming. His chest swelled with pride in her.

“You scoff now, but I’ve seen photographs of prairie dragons,” he said, resting his weight on one hip and crossing his arms in challenge.

“You have?” She sat straighter, curiosity replacing the mask of false scorn she’d put on. “Where?”

“Back in Ireland,” he said, both to her and to the ferryman with the pole, who had stopped his work and stared at Aiden with open mouth.

“You never,” Katie called him out. Her color was almost back to normal and she’d let go of the wagon seat.

“You saw the same photograph that I did, remember?”

“How could I remember something that never happened.” She tipped her chin up, almost as if they were on dry ground.

Two of Aiden’s younger brothers had poked their heads out of the back of their family’s wagon and were giggling, bright-eyed, at his story. He winked at them, then peeked past the wagon to the river’s opposite shore. It would take a few more minutes to reach it, but they were more than halfway across now.

“They’re small for dragons,” he went on, facing Katie once more. “But fat and brown. And they have fur instead of scales. They have horns, though, and great, large humps.”

The ferryman snorted with laughter beside him.

Across the stretch of river separating their rafts, Katie huffed in frustration. “Idjeet I said and idjeet I meant. Those are buffalo, not dragons.”

“Aye,” he called back to her. “The Great American Buffalo Dragon. Vicious beasties, they are. They’ll breathe fire at you and charge all at once.”

The ferryman working the rope on his wagon was laughing at the exchange now, along with both of the men on the Boyle’s raft. Behind Katie, a little sister and a brother had popped their heads up and were chuckling along as well.

“Saints be praised, Aiden Murphy. How you intend to find your way in this country is a mystery to me,” Katie said. She shifted position on the driver’s seat, relaxing even more.

 

Good news! Trail of Dreams is currently up for Preorder! Reserve your copy today at Amazon or iBooks.
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Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Dreams, a First Look

Jan 21, 2015

 

At last! I’m super excited to bring you a first look at book 4 in the Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Dreams. Come follow Katie Boyle and Aiden Murphy as they get into all sorts of trouble, most of all with each other. Here’s a peek…

TrailofDreams_3D

“What about you, Miss Emma?” He changed tacks and tried to bring Dean’s sweetheart out of her shell. “Is love nothing more than a sour stomach?”

“Well… I….” Emma tripped over her own tongue.

Dean tensed just enough for Aiden to notice, his face pinching. “I think Emma is entitled to keep her opinion to herself,” he said. He followed that by murmuring so that only Aiden could hear, “Leave Emma out of this. She’s got enough to worry about at the moment.”

Aiden nodded. “I’m sure her thoughts are as pure and refreshing as she is,” he said with a smile. In the week since they’d met, Aiden had come to like and respect both Emma and Dean, and if his new friend declared his sweetheart off-limits from the teasing banter he was used to, he would honor that. “As for your thoughts, a ghrá,” he shifted back to Katie, “I think our good Father Daniel back in Ballymote is thanking his lucky stars he doesn’t have to hear your confession anymore.”

Katie laughed, full and throaty, sending a wave of desire through him that threatened to make it difficult to walk comfortably. “Now that he doesn’t have to hear your confession, Aiden Murphy, maybe he won’t fall asleep in the confessional anymore.”

“He only slept during my confession because he was exhausted after hearing yours,” Aiden shot back.

Katie humphed again and quickened her pace. She and Emma began to distance themselves from him and Dean.

“Did the priest really fall asleep while you were confessing?” Dean asked, smile broad.

“He did,” Aiden said. “The poor man’s eighty-two. He used to nap while the good folks of Ballymote poured out their sins to him. I heard Father James scold him about it once, but Father Daniel explained that if we all assumed he was asleep, we would confess more and find deeper absolution.”

Dean laughed aloud. “I’m sure you had your fair share of things to confess about Miss Katie.”

“Volumes,” Aiden laughed. “I’ve been having impure thoughts about her for half my lifetime, much good that it’s done me.”

Dean raised his brow. “That’s unusually gloomy for you.”

“Not at all,” Aiden continued to chuckle. He watched Katie’s back as she and Emma plowed ahead. “It all comes from your basic misunderstanding and complete bafflement over women and what they want.”

Dean grunted, smirk back in place. “You can say that again. I love her with all my heart, but I don’t understand a thing going on in Emma’s head.”

“No man can ever understand what goes on in a woman’s head,” Aiden agreed. “If we had the slightest inkling of what they think, if we could piece together the barest fragment of how they work, then like as not, we’d get overconfident and turn the world on its ear.”

“Still, it would be nice to know that we’re on the right path sometimes,” Dean said. He blew out a breath and dragged a hand through his hair.

“Ah, but we’re always on the right path if we’re on any path at all,” Aiden told him. He reached behind to lift his fiddle case off his back. His fingers always had an urge to play when his heart beat harder.

“How do you figure?” Dean asked. He held out his arms to hold the fiddle case while Aiden took the instrument out as they continued to walk.

“Well, we don’t know what’s going on in their minds, they don’t know what’s going on in our minds, so the only way to get two and two together is to keep moving forward.”

Trail of Dreams will be coming on February 16th! Stay tuned for more….

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The Irish Potato Famine – Background

Jan 19, 2015
An Irish farm, likely abandoned during The Great Famine. Maybe it's occupants came to America? courtesy of Wikicommons

An Irish farm, likely abandoned during The Great Famine. Maybe it’s occupants came to America?
courtesy of Wikicommons

So before you know it, the fourth book in my Hot on the Trail series, Trail of Dreams, will be out! This story follows Katie Boyle and Aiden Murphy as they make their journey west to a new life. But before you get to their story, before their story even gets to America, there’s a huge piece of history that you need to know. Because part of the reason why Katie and Aiden and their families left Ireland to begin with (as did about a million other Irishmen) was because of the Great Famine.

The Great Famine in Ireland, sometimes referred to as the Irish Potato Famine, happened from around 1845 to 1852. During that time, nearly a million poor Irishmen and women starved to death. If that wasn’t horrible enough, they starved to death in a country that was fertile and bountiful, where approximately thirty to fifty shiploads of produce and foodstuffs were being exported to Britain every day. That was more than enough to feed the dying population. So why did so many people die and why were so many people forced to flee for a new life overseas?

The answer has more to do with politics and governance than it does with a shortage of food. And to understand that, you have to go way, WAY back to the Tudor and Stuart dynasties. Because even though the English had attempted to conquer, conquered, and reconquered Ireland several times, it wasn’t until the reigns of Elizabeth I and James I that they managed to get a serious foothold and to stick around. How did they do this? By sending Protestant lords to seize and govern largely Catholic lands. Yep, remember that whole mess with the Catholics and Protestants? Well, triple that for Ireland.

Fast forward to the dawn of the 19th century. In 1801, under the Act of Union, Ireland was governed directly by British appointees from abroad. By this time, the vast majority of the landowners and aristocracy in Ireland were Protestant, British, or Anglo-Irish families without a long hereditary claim to the land. The majority of the working population of Ireland were the Catholic Irish. To make matters worse most of those British landowners lived in Britain, not in Ireland at all. They relied on middlemen to collect rents and manage their properties, and the middlemen were notoriously crooked.

Depiction of a food riot in Ireland in 1846. That block at the top of the stick is a loaf of bread! Courtesy of Wikicommons

Depiction of a food riot in Ireland in 1846. That block at the top of the stick is a loaf of bread!
Courtesy of Wikicommons

So the situation that existed in Ireland in the 1840s (to oversimplify a bit) was that landowners with no personal ties to the land they owned, with no sense of obligation to their tenants, who had a different religion, different priorities, and no sense of loyalty or responsibility were more focused on exploiting the resources of their land to gain the most cash value that they could from it. The Catholic Irish who actually lived there had very few rights or control over their own land and were oppressed and controlled by foreigners. Over two-thirds of the population depended on potatoes for their sustenance, because everything else that was grown on the land went straight to market for the benefit of the absentee landlords. So when a common potato blight hit the land, wiping out the one crop that sustained millions, even though the rest of the land remained fertile, the population was devastated.

Worse still, the majority of those absentee landlords did nothing about it. They didn’t value the lives of their tenants enough to divert their considerable profits to save these people. In fact, historians are now engaged in a major debate about whether this era can be referred to as a famine, or if it should be classified as genocide. It’s clear that vast loss of life could have been prevented if the resources and output of the land had been put to use and distributed among the Irish instead of being exported so a few people could get rich.

Tragic. Completely and utterly tragic. It’s no wonder the Irish rebellions at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries were so vitriolic! And it’s no wonder the Irish people are so passionate. It also explains why so many of them pulled up roots and came here, to America.

Ah, but this plays into another aspect of my upcoming book, Trail of Dreams. Katie and Aiden’s lives were directly, adversely impacted by the destructive influence of a foreign power invading their land and crushing them in the name of progress, production, and advancement for a few. Without giving away too much of the plot of Trail of Dreams, in an ironic twist, they find themselves smack in the middle of another people whose lives have been shattered by foreigners marching in and claiming their land. The similarity was striking enough to me as I was writing to influence the attitude that both Katie and Aiden have to their Cheyenne neighbors. It seems to me, given the history of the Irish, that the way they would view what was happening to the Native Americans would strike a chord with my characters.

I don’t want to say too much more, though. I just invite you to think about the devastation that occurs when people think more about their bottom line than they do about the lives of the people who support that bottom line. It’s what makes history so alive to me.
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Trail of Longing – Release Day!

Jan 05, 2015

TrailofLonging_3D

It’s here! At long last, Trail of Longing is here! And here’s where you can get it….

Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RQOJA9K 

Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00RQOJA9K 

B&N – http://bit.ly/1BsLNg1 

Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/505145 

iBooks –  http://bit.ly/179sz64 

Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/trail-of-longing

 

How about a little excerpt to whet your appetite?

Emma was busy rinsing tin plates and packing them in a crate for the day’s walk. Her eyes were fixed on her work, but she couldn’t hide the tremor in her lips as she fought not to smile.

“I’m glad to hear it.” Dean nodded. He checked in with Mrs. Sutton. Her color was high, the same as Emma’s but her eyes shone with eagerness instead of Emma’s timidity. “I’m pleased to see that yesterday’s upset hasn’t dented anyone’s spirits.”

He deliberately darted a look to Emma so that her mother could see it. His gamble paid off.

“Oh dear, where are my manners.” Mrs. Sutton burst into action. She left the food she was storing for some later meal and crossed the small camp to the back of the wagon where Emma worked. “Dr. Meyers has been so kind to inquire after our well-being. The least we could do is provide him with a touch of polite company for the day’s walk. Emma, I’ll take care of that. Why don’t you walk with dear Dr. Meyers once we get started.”

“Oh!” Emma squeaked when her mother plucked a plate right out of her hands. Her cheeks were as bright as roses. Her gaze met Dean’s for half a heartbeat before her lashes fluttered down. “I… I suppose… if you’re sure you don’t need me…. That is to say, I usually—”

“Go!” Mrs. Sutton snapped. She covered her order with a light laugh. “I mean, young people shouldn’t spend all of their time in chores and duties. Go and enjoy each other’s company.” She patted Emma’s arm, then put her hand on the small of Emma’s back and pushed her toward Dean.

Dean covered his urge to laugh at Mrs. Sutton’s antics by rubbing his chin and smoothing his hair. “I’d be delighted to walk with you, Miss Emma,” he said. “If that’s what you want.”

Emma pressed a hand to her chest as though she was having trouble breathing, then lay her hand on her cheek. “I would. That is to say, I would be pleased… I… if you really want to…. I mean….” She let out her breath, the slightest frown creasing her brow for a moment as she pursed her lips. Dean had never known anyone to struggle so hard to be so charming. At last she drew in a breath and with great effort said. “Yes.”

I hope you enjoy this latest installment of the Hot on the Trail series! Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for book 4, Trail of Dreams, coming February 16th!

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Excerpt Wednesday – Trail of Longing – First Kiss

Dec 31, 2014

It’s the last Wednesday of 2014 and the last Excerpt Wednesday before Trail of Longing comes out on Monday! So I thought I’d treat you to a delicious first kiss scene. Here goes…

TrailofLonging_3D

Emma glanced up as they turned toward the back of the shack. Her mother was watching them from several yards away. As soon as she was caught spying, she turned her back and marched off across the prairie as though she was on a mission.

Dean chuckled. “Would it surprise you if I told you I liked her?” he asked.

“Mother?” Emma replied with far more shock than she intended.

“Yes,” Dean laughed. “She’s determined, she’s adventurous, and she’s not afraid to take a risk. Just like her daughter.”

If it was possible, Emma was even more startled. “I am as far from adventurous as a lady can be,” she insisted.

Dean shook his head. “You are holding your own on the Oregon Trail. I’ve watched you caring for your sister, and even your mother. You got up out of that bed, even though I know your mother didn’t want you to. And here you are, walking alone with a man in broad daylight.”

She wanted to laugh. He was right, even if his logic was skewed. The thought made her burst into a genuine smile. “I never thought of myself as bold. Not at all.”

“No?” He stopped after they had turned another corner and stood on the far side of the shack. “You are bold, though.”

She arched a dubious eyebrow at him.

“I can prove it,” he went on.

“How?” she asked.

He pivoted to stand facing her, sliding his arm around her waist and tugging her close. Without hesitation, he brought his mouth slanting down over hers.

Too startled to breathe, Emma let him kiss her. His lips were soft and hard at once, insistent and tender together. He teased his tongue against the seam of her lips, pressing her closer. The scent of him filled her, like home and peace. The insistence of his kiss broke through any resistance she could have offered, so she didn’t bother. She wanted more.

With a sigh, she relaxed into him. She slipped her arms around his waist and spread her hands across his back. Her lips parted where his tongue teased, and she let him invade her. Her tongue met his, sliding and exploring, and she opened herself more deeply to him. His taste was rich and deep and entirely unexpected. She kissed him with her whole heart, as if she knew what she was doing. In her heart, in the deepest part of her soul, she did know. She was letting the man she loved know that she loved him, free of the words she was so helpless at forming.

After what felt like a long, happy lifetime and no time at all, he leaned back and took a breath. His eyes shone with emotion as he looked into hers, as if he’d discovered a long lost treasure. Her lips were hot and swollen and ready for more.

“I knew there was more to you than you show the world,” he whispered, a smile growing in his eyes and on his delicious, tempting lips.

“Is there?” she asked, breathless, her heart racing. She felt as though there might be. There was a whole world waiting to be explored, and it was right there in her arms. She pressed her fingertips into Dean’s back.

He nodded and leaned into her once more, recapturing her mouth with his. His first kiss had been a dare—gentle, but within limits. This one had no limits. He adjusted his hold on her, molding her against the heat of his body while his mouth ravished hers. It was no simple kiss, but a deep, probing promise of everything else that could be between a man and a woman. One of his hands inched up her side toward the pulsing swell of her breast. Her skin tingled and her body cried out for the forbidden fruit it knew was waiting just within her grasp. Her heart leapt to realize that beneath the kind, professional manner Dean presented was a vibrant, unapologetic lover.

“Oh!” Her mother’s startled exclamation brought Emma crashing back down to earth. “Oh, oh dear.”

Dean tensed and pulled quickly back, leaving Emma off-balance and light-headed. He cleared his throat and spun to stand by her side where he could still support her. “Mrs. Sutton, I’m terribly sorry.”

 

So get ready for Monday!
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