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NEW BOOK, FREE BOOK, AND A PEEK AT INSPIRATION

How exciting to announce that my latest release, O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book 2, is now available. I hope you love this book as much as I loved writing this one!

One of the difficulties of writing numerous books is trying to find a fresh twist for each one. Readers know that in a romance there will be a happily-ever-after ending, but getting there needs unexpected action. For O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, I decided to take my ranch hand hero on a difficult undercover assignment to capture the culprit responsible for disasters at a Texas coal mine. My decision meant lots of research into coal mining in the 1880s.

What I found was lots of information on mining from prehistoric times to today, but not much about the period I needed. At last I found details on late 19th century mining. Additionally, my critique partner’s father had been a miner and she provided important details about daily life in a mine town.

Hero Finn O’Neill is an honorable man who has spent his life trapped by circumstances beyond his control. Through his sister’s marriage to Dallas McClintock in THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, McClintocks book one, Finn and his family finally experience good fortune. Finn dreams of a life in partnership with Dallas raising horses. To achieve the dream, he must purchase land. Problem is, he has no money other than the generous salary paid him by his brother-in-law.

Stella Grace Clayton is a loving daughter and school teacher also trapped in a life she hates. No, she doesn’t hate teaching, just that her family lives in a coal town. Knowing her father won’t live a full life as a coal miner, she dreams of a better life for her and for her family. What’s more, she’s determined her younger brother will not be forced into that life. Nor does she want her sister or herself faced with only miners from which to choose a husband—but so far mine workers are the only men they meet.

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How do two people from two diverse backgrounds meet? Thank you for asking.

Here’s the blurb for this romantic mystery titled O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE:

Finn O’Neill longs for his own ranch, his own horses, his own home and family but thought the lofty dream beyond him. Now the opportunity has arisen but to achieve his dream, he bargains with Grandpa McClintock and his nephew to pose as a miner and seek out the person or persons causing disasters at the Farland Coal Mine.

Stella Clayton has witnessed the heartbreak and tragedy of a coal miner’s life. Her family came from England to the promise of a better life only to find the same hardships. She is determined that her young brother will never follow in their father’s footsteps. And she vows she will never marry a man who engaged in that work. She fights to resist charms of the handsome Irishman who’s recently come to work in Lignite, Texas.

When Finn arrives in Lignite, he immediately falls for the beautiful schoolteacher, Stella Clayton. But her father is one of the men suspected of causing destruction. What Finn discovers soon puts him and members of the Clayton family in peril. Can he salvage his dream, fulfill his promise, and protect the woman he loves and her family?

Here’s an excerpt of Finn in his undercover job:

This [mining] was no life. At least the married men had families to offer comfort and support and a wife to cuddle with at night. How did the single men keep going?

He didn’t mind working from before dawn until after dark on the ranch, but he hated being underground. ‘Twas not a fit place for a human, only for worms and moles and gophers. Plus the repetitive hacking at the coal wrecked his back and shoulders.

Solve this puzzle soon or go mad. Think of Lippincott’s fine ranch, boyo. ‘Tis going to be yours if you can ferret out the troublemakers.

He figured there were multiple problems at work. He no longer suspected Karpinski either. The man was full of dark looks but he worked hard as he played. That left Swensen and Hartford. Neither man was on his crew. Mayhap he could strike up a conversation with Hartford at dinner or breakfast.

Swensen was married and lived in one of the houses near Clayton. What excuse could he find to talk to Swensen? Didn’t he have a son working in the mine? Yeah, a kid about the same age as Lance Clayton.

Hmm, that fact set him to thinking, but he’d have to work on that another time. His mind had given all he could for this day. He laid the apple core beside his boots and fell asleep.

When he woke the next morning, the apple core was gone. Worse, his knife was visible inside his boot. Last night, he’d carefully covered his boots to conceal his weapons as he did each time he undressed.

He checked around him, but others appeared engrossed in dressing and making their way to the dining hall. Quickly, he pulled on his clothes and then his boots. He knelt and looked under his bed. Sure enough, the apple core was there next to his concertina and duffle bag.

James called to him, “Hey, come on if you want to make up for missing supper last night.”

“Coming.” Shoving his shirttail into his britches, he grabbed the core and tossed it in the rubbish bin as he followed James.

He longed for a hot bath and his own bed at the ranch. The only reason he slept soundly in this bunk with a thin, lumpy mattress was his complete exhaustion. One thing was for sure, he was building muscles in his arms that would help him later on the ranch. He hoped that’d be on his ranch.

O’NEILL’S TEXAS BRIDE, McClintocks book two, is available at these sites:

Amazon      AmazonUK     Apple     Nook           Kobo           Google Play

Right now, to celebrate the release of book two, THE TEXAN’S IRISH BRIDE, McClintocks book one, is FREE in the USA. Here are the links:

Amazon      Apple                   Nook          Kobo          Google Play

I’m already at work on Nettie Sue Clayton’s story. She’s the younger sister of Stella Clayton by two years. Where Stella is a redhead with a fiery temper, Nettie Sue is a blonde with a sweet, mischievous nature. Well, sweet until she tangles with Josh McClintock in McCLINTOCK’S RELUCTANT BRIDE.

NEW RELEASE – AN AMERICAN VICTORIAN ROMANCE

By Caroline Clemmons

Welcome, readers! Today, I’m so pleased to announce the release of my new American-set Victorian  romance, WINTER BRIDE. This western historical romance is a stand-alone part of the Stone Mountain, Texas series set in the Palo Pinto Mountains of North Central Texas.

Here’s the blurb for WINTER BRIDE:

Sweet western historical romance of 60,000 words by bestselling author Caroline Clemmons is a stand-alone novel of the Stone Mountain Texas series including murder, danger, and adventure.

When Kendra Murdoch’s brother in law murders her sister, she takes charge of her nephew and two nieces. Fearing the man plans the same fate for her, she seeks shelter in Radford Crossing where she operates a café to support her small family.

Determined to be self-sufficient, Kendra shuns all advances from the handsome sheriff as danger hangs heavily over her head. But can she safeguard her family alone?

Butch Parrish battled a snowstorm and a killer to rescue Kendra and the children. He’ll do whatever is necessary to protect the independent young woman who rekindles sensations he hoped were dead long ago. Protecting her, chasing a killer, dealing with the town gossips, and investigating a stagecoach robbery, Butch has a battle on his hands.

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Here’s an excerpt from WINTER BRIDE involving hero, Sheriff Butch Parrish:

As he turned onto the faint trail he sought, he spotted fresh tracks in the snow. He pulled his rifle from the saddle scabbard and slowed his horse. Instead of heading along the trail, the tracks led around the boulders.

Scout’s ears twitched forward, the chestnut’s signal of trouble. Even more slowly, Butch eased forward. He dismounted and crept along the boulders. If he could climb up to the taller rocks, he could spot where the tracks led and if Tucker waited for him.

Quietly as his boots allowed, he climbed. As he gained height, he spotted a horse tied to brush twenty yards from where he stood. Tracks crisscrossed in the snow, but where was Tucker? The man had the advantage of knowing this area’s terrain better than Butch.

“Sheriff?” The yell came from below and behind him.

Butch crouched and turned. A streak of fire burned into his chest. The impact sent him tumbling from rock to rock until he hit the snow-covered ground. He landed on his back, stars lit the backs of his eyelids, and his breath whooshed from his lungs. His rifle lay just beyond his grasp.

WINTER BRIDE is a romance, but the storyline includes mystery, murder, and mayhem. I like stories where something happens. I hope you do, too.

Here’s the buy link for Amazon http://amzn.com/B00VC9C31W

To celebrate my new release, I’m giving away a free download to someone who comments on this post by April 5th. Thanks and happy reading!

NEW AMERICAN-SET VICTORIAN RELEASE

If you’re like me, you’re already eager for the days from Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve. That’s my favorite time of year. I love the decorations, the songs, and the anticipation associated with choosing gifts for my family.

I confess to feeling letdown once the gifts are opened and the dinner eaten. The Christmas tree looks letdown, too, with no gifts underneath. I can’t explain why Hero and I leave our tree up until after Twelfth Night, but we always have. Probably this year will be no exception.

You can see why I love reading Christmas stories. In fact, I read them all year, but especially from October until Christmas. However, this is the first time I’ve written a Christmas story.

For this novella, I blame Darling Daughters 1 and 2. Each of them asked me to write a Christmas story. Guess the spirit is genetic, right?

Kim Killion did the perfect-for-the-novella cover. I chose the woman’s photo from Kim’s studio stock and she used the photo to create exactly what I had in mind. Don’t you love when that happens?

Here’s the blurb of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:

Christmas has been Celia Dubois’s favorite time of year as long as she can remember. When she moves back with her parents a year after the death of her husband, the young widow is appalled at the town’s lack of Christmas spirit. Two months earlier, banditos had burned the church and crushed the townspeople. Celia vows to return holiday joy to the town. Perhaps doing so might help mend her aching heart. Will Celia’s plan work magic on the town?

Rancher Eduardo Montoya knows Celia is the woman for him. She enchants him with her winning smile and vivacious nature. When her father warns Eduardo away from Celia, Eduardo is both angry and frustrated. After he stops a robbery in the mercantile, will Celia’s parents change their minds about him? Can handsome Eduardo heal Celia’s sorrow?

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Here’s an excerpt of STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Radford Crossing, Texas, November 1874

Eduardo Montoya focused on the beautiful redhead who swept the walk in front of Sturdivant’s Mercantile across the street. He turned to speak to his friend. “She is a vision, is she not?”

Micah Stone, his cousin’s husband, asked, “Have you met her or spoken to her?”

Eduardo’s gaze returned to Celia Dubois. He refused to let anyone shatter his dreams. “See how graceful she is even when performing a menial chore? When we are wed, she will not have to be concerned with such things.”

Sounding incredulous, Micah said, “I repeat, have you even met or spoken to her?”

Eduardo had no doubt his friend believed he had taken leave of his senses. He wasn’t so sure he hadn’t, but he placed a hand over his heart. “In good time, my friend. All in good time.”

Micah clapped him on the shoulder. “Come on, Romeo. We’ve finished our business with Joel. Hope’s expecting us for lunch. You can daydream about the pretty widow on our way home.”

“I suppose we must go.” He exhaled, reluctantly willing to leave town but unwilling to let anyone derail his plans.

Micah untied his horse from the hitching rail in front of his brother’s law office and mounted. “Have to say this is the first time I’ve known you to be shy about flirting with a woman.”

Determination steeled Eduardo’s resolve as he swung onto his gelding. “Never before has a woman been so important to me. You will see. One day, she will become my wife.”

The two rode toward Micah’s ranch.

From where she stood on the walk, Celia had known the men watched her. One was the youngest Stone brother. Identifying him was easy because the three Stone men looked so much alike.

But she hadn’t yet met the handsome man dressed as a Spanish Don. He fit the description she’d been privy to of Eduardo Montoya, one of the wealthiest men in this part of Texas. At least, that’s what she’d overheard while helping in her parents’ store.

He certainly cut a dashing figure in his black clothes trimmed with silver buttons. She wondered if he was entitled to dress like Spanish nobility or if he merely played a part. The silver on his saddle flashed in the sunlight and she questioned the safety of such a display.

One thing she’d noticed in her few days in town and working in her father’s mercantile, she heard tidbits of local gossip whether intentionally or not. She wondered what the gossips had to say about her. Probably best she didn’t know. Most people she’d met were friendly but there were a few prunes eager to criticize everyone.

Wasn’t that true everywhere? Yet she thought an unusual pall lay over Radford Crossing. The town definitely needed a large dose of cheer. As a matter of fact, she wouldn’t mind a measure of good spirits for herself. With a sigh, she went back inside the store.

You can purchase STONE MOUNTAIN CHRISTMAS:
Amazon

http://amzn.com/B00OQUTDXA
Amazon UK

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00OQUTDXA
iTunes

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id932587647
Barnes and Noble Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/stone-mountain-christmas-caroline-clemmons/1120622158?ean=2940046278842&itm=1&usri=2940046278842
Kobo

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/stone-mountain-christmas-1

 

Thanks for stopping by!

INSPIRATION

Inspiration for GABE KINCAID

By Caroline Clemmons

Like most authors, I love my job and can’t wait to get started each day. Writing is hard work, but our characters won’t let us stop.  Ooh, sounds like we’re nuts, doesn’t it? Well, in a way we are. But we use our crazy powers for good—mostly.

My characters—as is true with many authors—appear to me in the inciting incident as if I were watching a scene on television. That’s the good part. The hard part comes in fleshing out the characters with backgrounds, goals, motivation, and throwing up obstacles that hinder their achieving the happily-ever-after we expect from a romance.

How many variations to a hunky western hero are there? How many incarnations of a feisty, strong heroine can you imagine? And how many ways can one insert Tab A into Slot B? As you can imagine, the more books an author has written, the greater the challenge of creating a fresh twist on basic story plots.

For my sensual western historical release, GABE KINCAID, I believe I achieved an enticing mix of characters and situations that readers will enjoy. This hunky hero, Gabe Kincaid, has reason to despise lies and those who tell them. Instead of the usual cowboy or rancher in a western historical, Gabe is a lawyer in the small town of Kincaid Springs, Texas. The year is 1887.

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Heroine Kathryn Elizabeth “Katie” Worthington walked in on a murder and is on the run from the two powerful killers who want her dead. Where can she go? Katie doesn’t want to endanger her friends so she sets off on her own to find a hiding place. At the edge of town, a circus presents the perfect solution. As Dorothy Duncan, she washes dishes and mends costumes for two years safe from prying eyes. Later, as Maharani Shimza the fortuneteller, Katie’s outlandish costume keeps her anonymity. But her plans go awry in a big way. You knew that was coming, didn’t you?

Writing about a circus that’s come to a small town kept me smiling. I loved researching circuses of the time (1887) and changing an uptight young lawyer’s outlook. Gabe really needed to lighten up. Katie tried to fit into circus life, tough for a proper young woman from a wealthy background. No, those are not the plot obstacles. Takes more than that to weave an interesting plot, doesn’t it?

 

Here’s a brief excerpt of their first kiss in GABE KINCAID to tease you:

She pressed her hand against his arm. “Don’t, Gabe. It’s such a nice afternoon. Don’t spoil it by prying.”

“All right. But I wish you’d trust me with all your secrets, Shimza. I feel like a fool calling you that, but I don’t even know your real name.”

“Shimza will do. And I do trust you to keep me safe here.”

“But you don’t think I could if you told me more, is that it?” He gently clasped her shoulders and turned her to face him.

She met his gaze, pleading with him, “Please, it’s too . . . complicated.”

Slowly he slid his hands across her shoulders, lightly up her neck. He caressed her cheeks with his thumbs while he rested his hands gently on either side of her face. “Then let’s make it a little more complicated.” He leaned forward and claimed her lips.

She dissolved against him. His gentle kiss increased in fervor. Her arms slid around him and her fingers weaved into his hair.

His hands slid across her back. Stroking. Touching. Hugging.

One of his strong hands skimmed her ribs beneath her breast. Brazenly, she wished he’d move higher where she ached to be touched. As it was, the heat of his touch near burned through her clothing.

He broke their embrace, his chest heaving. “I’ve never kissed a client. Grandpa will have my hide.”

She rested her head against his powerful shoulder. “Mmm, I don’t think so. Perhaps you noticed we were seated next to one another at dinner. I could be wrong, but I think the Judge and Mrs. Kincaid are conspiring. Judge Kincaid smiled when we left the dining room together.”

“You don’t say? Then, if it’s all right with you, I’m kissing you again.”

And he did. Not that she was an expert, but her verdict was he kissed very well indeed. GABE KINCAID is available in print from Amazon and in e-book at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and from iBooks

 

About the Author

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her latest release is GABE KINCAID, book four of her popular Kincaid series. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline is a member of Romance Writers of America, Yellow Rose Romance Writers, From The Heart Romance Writers, and Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Her latest publications include the acclaimed historical Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and BLUEBONNET BRIDE and the audio books of BRAZOS BRIDE and HIGH STAKES BRIDE.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

 

DANGEROUS JOURNEY ACROSS TEXAS

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THE MOST UNSUITABLE C OURTSHIP is book three in my Kincaid series. In the first two in the series, Pearl was the heroine of THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE and Sarah the heroine of  THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND. Book three centers around their half-brother, Storm, and his quest for justice.

One of the things that inspired the heroine of my latest release is a magazine story of Gruene, which is pronounced by its residents as if it were spelled Green. That area of the Texas Hill Country has numerous communities settled by German immigrants. Many families still speak German at home. It’s a lovely part of Texas that my family enjoys visiting over and over.

When thinking of a heroine for Storm Kincaid, I wanted one unlike any I had written about in previous books. That’s a problem for authors who have multiple books already released. Each hero and heroine must be strong and independent, but at the same time be different from any other couple. Everything must be new and fresh, yet fit within the genre and in the voice and story style the author’s readers expect. You’re correct—that is hard! In fact, for me that’s one of the hardest parts of writing.

Here is the blurb:

Storm Kincaid wants justice; Rena Dmitriev wants vengeance.

When Storm’s best friend and the friend’s wife are murdered, Storm secures a temporary appointment as Federal Marshal so he can capture the killers. He follows them to twenty one year old Rena’s home, which is in flames when he arrives. She has survived by following her elderly husband’s strict instructions and watched in hiding while the men murdered him.  Storm intends to take her to the nearest town where she will be safe. She can identify the men who killed the person who had been her husband in name only and like a grandfather to her, and she vows to kill at least one of them. Whether or not Storm allows her to accompany him, she assures him she will go after the murderers.  She is the only person alive who can identify the evil foursome whose policy has been to leave no witnesses. Storm agrees to take her with him. She’ll be safer with him to protect her than she would riding alone.

As a powerful and passionate love blossoms, they unite to rescue three orphaned children, fight the elements, and encounter the killers. Will their love be enough to protect them?

THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP Excerpt:

She emerged from the brush straightening her trousers and shoving her pistol back into her waistband. “Where do you think those men are going?”

“Indian Territory. They’ll steal all they can before they reach the Red River and leave no survivors to identify them. They’re selling off the stolen stock along the way, so that will slow them some.” He wondered if she knew how to use the gun.

“But I saw their faces.”

He sent her what he hoped was a frightening stare. “If they knew that, you’d be dead for sure.”

She shivered, but glared at him. “Do not think to frighten me. I will do everything I can to kill these men and reclaim my gold and my mother’s locket. It is not that I care about the jewellery that once belonged to Abram’s wife. But to him, it meant a great deal, and I want it because he gave it to me.”

Storm wanted to shake her. Not that he hadn’t lived all his life with stubborn women. At least his oldest sister Pearl made sense. He’d worried about shy Sarah, especially when she’d appeared head over heels with a con man. Now that Sarah and Nate were married, she had life figured out. Nate had surprised everyone, even himself. Storm suppressed a smile and worked up his anger again at his traveling companion.

“We can be in Llano by nightfall. We’ll get a couple of rooms there and you can rest.”

She shot him a suspicious glare. “You think to abandon me in that town. If we stay somewhere, we will be in the same room so I can watch you.”

Shocked, Storm wondered what he could do with this woman. “We wouldn’t be allowed to stay in a decent hotel. You want to sleep over a saloon? Besides that, folks will be shocked when they see you in those trousers. You want people to think you’re a fallen woman?”

With her chin raised, she placed her hands on her hips. “I am a good woman. You can tell them we are married and I wear britches to ride more easily.” She held up her hand and wiggled her fingers. “I have a wedding band, see?”

He raised his hands and backed up a step. “Oh, no. I’m not even pretending to be married. If I were ready to marry, which I’m not, I’d pick a woman who knew when to let a man do his job.”

“Ha, and when I recover my dowry, I will marry a man who knows a woman can do as much as a man.”

He swept a formal bow. “And when you marry, will you be wearing the lovely gown you now wear?”

She appeared angry enough to use that Colt on him. “You are wrong to…to talk so. I do not have the English words to tell you what I think, but do not try to leave me behind. If you do, I will go after the men alone.”

Disgusted, Storm stomped over and retrieved the horses. “Then let’s go.”

They rode into Llano in late afternoon. Since they arrived mid week, the town appeared peaceful and quiet. Storm spotted a hotel by the livery he remembered.

“If you’re determined to stick to me like glue, let’s stable the horses.”

At the stable, she staggered when she dismounted and he thought she might fall. He grabbed her arms. “Steady. You’re not used to riding so long.”

“Ja, my legs do not work so well. Do not worry, I will be fine in a minute.”

She remained quiet while he dealt with the hostler and insured his rifle and saddle would be safe. He threw his saddlebags over his shoulder and retrieved the two pillowcases and box he’d tied to the saddle pommel. They ambled the block toward the hotel.

He indicated a mercantile. “Just what we need. After we get our room, let’s head for that store before it closes. You probably need to replace a few things that burned.” When she glared at him. “I’ll give you the money, all right? I don’t want folks thinking my wife runs around in men’s clothes. If anyone gets nosy, tell them you lost your bag crossing a river.”

She sniffed and sashayed as if she wore a ball gown instead of ill-fitting men’s trousers. “I will keep track and repay you when I kill those men.”

THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP buy links are:

Smashwords

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/361261?ref=CarolineClemmons

Amazon for print and e-book:

http://www.amazon.com/Most-Unsuitable-Courtship-Kincaids-ebook/dp/B00G5YXI6I/ref=sr_1_4?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1384191747&sr=1-4&keywords=caroline+clemmons  

Barnes and Noble Nook

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-most-unsuitable-courtship-caroline-clemmons/1117264325?ean=2940045350990

ABOUT CAROLINE CLEMMONS

Caroline Clemmons is an Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her most recent novel, THE MOST UNSUITABLE COURTSHIP, is a poignant tale of tender redemption. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline is a member of Romance Writers of America, Dallas Area Romance Authors, Yellow Rose Romance Writers, and Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Her latest publications include the acclaimed historical Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and BLUEBONNET BRIDE.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. When she’s not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, and getting together with friends.  Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

WHAT’S YOUR GREATEST FEAR?

What is your greatest fear? I don’t mean rational fears like losing a loved one or having a car crash. I mean those for which we have no explanation. For me, one is claustrophobia, so I don’t like elevators. Not at all, except they are easier than climbing flight after flight of stairs.  I ride elevators, and I don’t collapse when the doors close me in or run screaming when the doors open. Only my family members (and now you) know each ride in one of the tiny, closed-in, closet-like boxes has me forcing myself not to panic. Don’t even ask me about riding in a the very small, private elevator at my cousin’s home.

When I wrote THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND: The Kincaids, Book Two , I tried to think of the most frightening things to torture my hero. I remembered my father telling me my grandfather had known a man who was buried alive and clawed his way up from the grave. Even thinking about it has me shuddering. So, that’s what I did to my hero, Nathaniel Bartholomew, to open this book. Not only does he face his claustrophobia once in the opening, but two more times in one book. After all, a hero is not someone who is unafraid of danger; he is someone who faces fear to do what is right.

Now don’t think that Nate is immediate hero material. He has the innate qualities, but the process of discovering who he is takes him most of the book (as you knew it would, right?). He’s lived most of his life in rebellion and scorned those who labor in honest toil. In short, he’s a gambler and a con man. His friend Michael “Monk” Magonagle is a steadying force in Nate’s life. In spite of Monk’s watch, trouble and Nate are well-acquainted.

Sarah Kincaid is Nate’s opposite. She is one who has always led an exemplary life and tries to please those she loves and admires. Her half-sister Pearl (heroine of THE MOST UNSUITABLE WIFE: The Kincaids, Book One) is the person Sarah most admires. To fit in socially, she also emulates the dress and deportment of her adopted aunt, Lily Stephens. Lily is not easy to love, but Sarah is so kind she is even fond of the waspish Lily. Well, at least she tolerates her. Sarah needs to discover her identity, too, and learn to be her own person, not a reflection of others.

Sarah, Pearl, and their half-brother Storm shared the same father with very different mothers. Sarah’s mother was a bordello/saloon owner who eventually married a man she loved and together they owned a casino in St. Louis, Missouri. As we meet Sarah in THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND, she is at her mother’s funeral, after nursing her tubercular mom’s last days. Since no lady can travel alone, Aunt Lily has accompanied Sarah on the trip. Is Lily a dependable chaperone? Only when it suits her.

What would bring Sarah and Nate together? How about a trio of homeless orphans on their own in winter? Sarah plans to take them home with her to Texas, and she enlists Nate to help her rescue them from desperate circumstances. Don’t worry, she also hires a kind woman to travel with her. Is it her fault Nate insists on traveling along?

The Blurb:
Sarah Kincaid wants only the simple things: a home, a family, and a place in the community where she can set a good example and lead a moral life. She launched her plan by establishing a school for the poorest children in the county. When she discovers that the terms of her mother’s will have made her the owner of a saloon, she is surprised. Even more shocking, is Sarah’s reaction to Nate. She doesn’t realize he is the son of her mother’s husband and his real name is Nathaniel Batholomew. He uses Barton in his con game with the Kincaids and their neighbors. Tall, dark and unmistakably tempting, Nate is a gambler by trade–and hardly an upright citizen.

Taking in a trio of starving orphans is not the way to conduct a romance. Sarah and Nate soon learn that the only proper thing to do under the circumstances is to let love take them where it will, and get ready for a passionate adventure. Sarah vows to reform him and finds him an eager pupil. Reforming a rogue is easier said than done and Sarah and Nate learn a great deal about themselves and others in their journey!

The Excerpt:
Set up: Sarah Kincaid is on her way home from her mother’s funeral in St. Louis. She repeatedly encounters a strange man and wonders if he’s following her. She’s traveling with an odious couple as chaperone’s, the Welborns, and they chose the hotel. In 1885, respectable hotels put single women and families on separate floors from single men.

That man in black–he’d introduced himself as Nathaniel Barton–had been at the cemetery. He was always around on the boat, too, and now he was here in their hotel in Memphis. He trailed behind her as if he hadn’t a care in the world. Surely it was coincidence. Lots of people traveled from St. Louis to Memphis every day.
The porter stopped in front of a room and opened the door. He stood back for her to enter, but not before she saw Mr. Barton at the next door. He even glanced her way and smiled as he nodded in greeting.

My stars, he’s staying in the very next room to mine.

What kind of hotel would allow a single man on the same floor as a single woman? She fought down panic as she dealt with the porter, then locked the door behind him and slid the bolt. Alone in her room, her imagination ran its course as she paced. Had she strayed into a den of iniquity?

No, that couldn’t be. Mrs. Welborn assured her this was a family hotel suitable for a young woman. After all, the Welborns registered here, too. How did Mr. Barton come to be in the very room next to her? It wasn’t proper. What would people think? What would they say?

She caught herself. The Welborns were the only people here she knew, and she hardly cared what they thought other than their reports back to the Vermillions and Aunt Lily. Even they could hardly blame her for the hotel’s room assignments.

This Mr. Barton could not mean her harm. There’d been ample opportunity on the paddle wheeler had he intended to hurt her. They’d never had a conversation on a personal level. His comments had centered on the trip and the weather, not a hint of anything improper and always with others nearby. Perhaps his constant presence was a coincidence. Just the same, he made her nervous. She felt like a rabbit waiting for the wolf to pounce whenever Mr. Barton was near.

In the midst of her concern, she admitted his presence offered reassurance to her that she was protected from others. Surely he would rush to her aid if she needed assistance. Her instincts proved right regarding Mr. Welborn. Perhaps she should rely on intuition in this instance. She wished she were more decisive, not a victim of warring emotions.

She raised her skirt and checked the little double-shot derringer given her by her brother, Storm. Best to be prepared. The little gun still rested securely in its garter holster on her thigh. Storm had insisted she practice until she was a fair shot. Would she have the courage to use the weapon against a human? She doubted it, but its weight reassured her.

Sarah spied the door connecting her room with the one in which Mr. Barton resided. Rushing to check the lock, she stopped. She must not let him know she suspected him of following her. Very slowly she turned the knob of the connecting door. Locked. She released a heavy sigh.
Curiosity nudged her. Kneeling, she peered through the keyhole. The opening framed him as he pulled a fresh shirt from an open valise on the bed. Shucking his jacket and waistcoat, he took a pistol from his waistband and placed it on the bed beside the satchel. He unbuttoned his shirt.
She knew she should move away but couldn’t. Oh, my stars! He might dress like a riverboat dandy, but this gorgeous man was no weakling. Trouser fabric pulled taut against trim hip muscles when he turned and bent over the things on the bed.

Her mouth went dry as a Texas dust storm. She watched him turn back to face her. He removed his shirt and tossed it behind him on the bed. Then she saw the bandage across his shoulder and another at his waist. She wondered which side of the law he was on when he got those, but thought she knew. The wrong side, of course.

He picked up a fresh shirt and she caught the ripple of muscles across his chest as he slipped the shirt on. His movements were swift and powerful, not the sluggish ambling she had witnessed in public.

Occasionally in summer she had caught glimpses of her brother, her brother-in-law, and the hands at the ranch with their shirts off. Unlike their tanned torsos, Mr. Barton’s pale skin made her fingers tingle to touch the brown chest hair that converged in a vee at his belt. She wondered how far below his waist the pelt descended. A pool of warmth gathered at the base of her stomach.

My stars, what disgraceful thoughts. Where did they come from? They weren’t proper. No, not at all suitable. Being away from home must be having a poor effect on her.

Never before had such scandalous ideas entered her head about any man. She didn’t have these thoughts about Peter Dorfmeyer, and everyone expected her to marry Peter. Mr. Barton was the most attractive man she’d ever seen, but she must get her wayward thoughts under control.

Buttoning his shirt, Mr. Barton stepped from her view. When he returned and glared at the keyhole, she froze. Surely he couldn’t know she watched him. She sank further to the floor and sat with her back against the door.

Sarah pressed her hands to heated cheeks, shocked at her own behavior. She was no better than a window peeper. What on earth had come over her?

A sudden thought assailed her. What if he planned to look through the keyhole as she had? Taking a hanky from her cuff, she draped it over the doorknob so it hung across the tiny opening. No, that wouldn’t do. It kept sliding off. She rose and opened her traveling bag and took out a shirtwaist. Hanging it on the knob, she stepped back. Perfect. It looked as if she used the handle for a hook.

She crossed to the vanity. Not taking time to change from her traveling suit into a dress, she contented herself with pushing stray hair back into her chignon and grabbing her shawl. With any luck, she could purchase her train ticket while her neighbor had his dinner.

Sarah walked briskly to the train station. A line greeted her at the ticket window. Oh, well, she loved watching people, so she wouldn’t mind the wait. Taking her place in the row, she surveyed the other prospective passengers wandering to and fro. She studied the clothes of other women, compared them to her own black clothing. In her head she made up stories of who they were and where they might be headed.

A young boy bumped with a wham into the man in front of her. The child’s hand darted into the man’s pocket and out with a flash and secured the lifted wallet under his shirt. Probably no more than seven or eight, the lad wore the dirtiest clothes Sarah had ever seen. His hair might have been blond at one time, but it and his skin had gone a long time without touching soap and water.

“Oh, excuse me, sir.” The boy’s large blue eyes were the picture of innocence when he gazed up at the man.

Sarah gasped. What should she do? She couldn’t bring herself to cause a scene by screaming, but neither could she stand by and let the child rob this man.

“Steady, you little ragamuffin.” The victim placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder. “Slow down and see you’re more careful next time.”

“Yes, sir, sorry. I will, sir.” The boy moved swiftly away into the crowd.

Sarah took off after the little thief. He looked over his shoulder and she motioned to him. His eyes widened in alarm and he ran. She gathered her skirts and rushed after him, weaving around groups of people.

When she had almost caught up with the light-fingered boy, she thudded against a solid wall of chest.

Mr. Barton grunted and clutched Sarah’s shoulders, then dropped his hands and made a slight bow. “Why, I believe it’s Miss Kincaid, is it not? Are you in some sort of distress?”

“No, it was nothing.” She peered over his shoulder but the thief was nowhere in sight. “I thought I saw someone I knew, but I was mistaken.” She felt her cheeks flush again with guilt. Their collision must have jarred his injured chest, but she couldn’t ask him about it. How could she explain that knowledge?

“Your traveling companions–Welwoods or Welworths–are they with you?”

“No. The Welborns were tired and planned to have dinner sent to their room.” She thanked heavens for that. Eating with the odious Mr. Welborn soured her stomach. But now this man who, for all appearances, followed her everywhere had neatly trapped her. A shiver of apprehension skittered down her spine, but she stood mesmerized by his tawny eyes.

As if he sensed her fear, he offered a crooked smile and proffered his` arm. “May I escort you back to the hotel?”

“I was…” she stopped. Her nerves jangled with alarm, but she strove to appear calm. She preferred buying her ticket in private. If he hadn’t yet learned where she headed, she didn’t want him to know her exact destination. “That would be very kind, um, Mr. Barton.”

“Bit cool this evening, isn’t it?”

My stars, didn’t the man ever talk about anything but the weather? Maybe he was one of those gorgeous physical specimens with the brain of a rock.

She sighed and answered, “Yes, there’s a chill in the air. I suppose we’re in for more winter.”

What should she do? Panic turned her stomach in knots. She should send him on his way, but didn’t know what to say or do. Hating herself for her timidity, she once more flowed with the easiest course and allowed herself to be escorted back to the hotel.

If you’re intrigued (and I so hope you are!), THE MOST UNSUITABLE HUSBAND is available for only 99¢ at these urls:

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VICTORIAN JEWELRY and NO GREATER GLORY BY CINDY NORD

    VICTORIAN JEWELRY

The Victorians had a reputation for beauty & grace as evidenced in the exquisite pins, brooches, strap or slide bracelets, necklaces and crosses that were favored during this time period. The ladies needed just the right piece to wear to a candle lit dinner or an afternoon stroll in the park. The elegant jewelry chosen between 1837 to 1901 clearly underscores the Victorian love of accessorizing.  Known as first The Romantic Period and then The Grand Period in regards to jewelry, the Victorian years are broken down into: ‘Early Victorian’– from 1837 to 1845.  ‘Mid Victorian — from 1846 to 1886. And ‘Late Victorian’ — from 1887 to 1901.

Calla Lily Gold Locket
Photo courtesy Lang Antiques

Popular motifs throughout all three cycles were serpents (symbols of eternity), and pendants encasing locks of hair from a loved one or hair woven into beautiful pieces.  Filigree gold helped to stretch the costly metal and the addition of pink coral, turquoise and seed pearls alongside amethyst, aquamarine, blue zircon, citrine, emeralds, garnets, ruby, “pinked” topaz, and sapphires caught the candlelight and warmed the ladies skin. Natural resources like bog oak, gutta percha, jet, ivory, lava, and vulcanite were also extremely popular, especially for carved pieces and cameos. Along with the precious jewels and sterling settings, popular items such as love knots and carved clasped hands were coveted. Diamonds were worn in the evening and only by the married or the betrothed woman. And the emergence of colored stones grew with the young unwedded lady.

Civil War earrings
Hair jewelry courtesty
whitneybria.blog

During the Mid-Victorian years we also saw a large introduction of mourning pieces due to the fact that Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s beloved husband, died in 1861 of Typhoid Fever. Upon his death the Romantic Period ended. To narrow the jewelry field down further, the two-year period between 1861 – 1863 became known to history as the ‘Victorian Mourning Era’ and the pieces that become most popular during this sad time consisted of jet, human hair, gutta percha, bog oak or other black material.  Natural Tortoise shell pieces are viewed by some as ‘Victorian half-mourning’ because the mourner would begin to re-introduce these choices only in the second year of their loved one’s passing.

Hair braid pendant
Oak and gold  earrings, pendant
Tiffany 
Civil War hair bracelet
set in 15 c gold

The Victorian years after the death of Prince Albert became The Grand Period (so dubbed because of the grand way in which gems, jewelry and metals were used) and it was during this time period, that gold was discovered. In 1849 in America and in 1852 in Australia. This greatly increased the availability of the precious metal to jewelry designers.  Incredible changes took place in the overall design of jewelry. With a technique passed down from mother to daughter, we see the popularity of locks of a loved one’s hair woven into intricate designs and then enclosed in a locket. Incredibly prevalent during the Civil War years, hair jewelry was used for both Memorial (mourning of a deceased loved one) and Sentimental (remembrance of a living, but distant friend or loved one at war) gifts.

Gold and jade watch fob
Courtesy archives.jewelry.oneof

As Judi Anderson said, “The late Victorian Period, known as the Aesthetic Period or Movement (1880-1901) was a direct response to the over indulgent fashions and to the stuffy formality and strict protocol of the Grand Period. And after 27 years of mourning, even the staid Victorians had lamented enough. During the Aesthetic Period a sense of fun and light heartedness returned to jewelry. Whimsical motifs such as griffins and dragons, crescent moons and stars, butterflies and salamanders, were crafted into jewels of astounding beauty.”

Speaking of jewelry, look at the cameo necklace on the cover of Cindy’s new release, NO GREATER GLORY.

Here’s a blurb for NO GREATER GLORY:

Amid the carnage of war, he commandeers far more than just her home.

Widowed plantation owner Emaline McDaniels has struggled to hold on to her late husband’s dreams. Despite the responsibilities resting on her shoulders, she’ll not let anyone wrest away what’s left of her way of life—particularly a Federal officer who wants to set up his regiment’s winter encampment on her land. With a defiance born of desperation, she defends her home as though it were the child she never had…and no mother gives up her child without a fight.

Despite the brazen wisp of a woman pointing a gun at his head, Colonel Reece Cutteridge has his orders. Requisition Shapinsay—and its valuable livestock—for his regiment’s use, and pay her with Union vouchers. He never expected her fierce determination, then her concern for his wounded, to upend his heart—and possibly his career.

As the Army of the Potomac goes dormant for the winter, battle lines are drawn inside the mansion. Yet just as their clash of wills shifts to forbidden passion, the tides of war sweep Reece away. And now their most desperate battle is to survive the bloody conflict in Virginia with their lives—and their love—intact.

EXCERPT: NO GREATER GLORY

October 1862
Seven miles west of Falmouth, Virginia

A bitter wind slammed through the tattered countryside, sucking warmth from the morning. Emaline McDaniels rocked back in the saddle when she heard the shout. She glanced over her shoulder and her eyes widened. Across the fields of ragged tobacco, her farrier rode toward her at breakneck speed. Lines of alarm carved their way across the old man’s ebony face.

Emaline spurred her horse around to meet him. “What’s wrong?”

Tacker pointed a gnarled finger eastward. “Yankees, Miz Emaline! Coming up da road from Falmouth!”

“Yankees?” Her heart lurched against her ribs. She’d heard of their thievery, the fires and destruction left in their wake. Teeth-gritting determination to save her home flashed through her. She leaned sideways, gripping his work-worn sleeve. “Are you sure they’re not the home guard?”

“No, ma’am. I seen ’em, dey’s blue riders, for sure. Hundreds of ’em.”

Two workers moved closer to listen to the exchange, and the farrier acknowledged them with a quick nod.

“Everyone back to the cabins,” Emaline snapped, sinking into the saddle. “And use the wagon road along the river. It’ll be safer.”

“Ain’t you comin’ with us?”

“No. Now move along quickly, all of you. And keep out of sight.” She flicked the reins and her horse headed straight across the fields toward the red-brick mansion that hugged the far edge of the horizon.

The spongy ground beneath the animal’s hooves churned into clods of flying mud. Aside from a few skirmishes nearby, the war had politely stayed east along the Old Plank Road around Fredericksburg. Her mare crested the small hillock near the main house, and Emaline jerked back on the leather reins. Off to her far right, a column of cavalrymen numbering into the hundreds approached. The dust cloud stirred up by their horses draped in a heavy haze across the late-morning air. In numbed fascination, she stared at the pulsing line of blue-coated soldiers, a slithering serpent of destruction a quarter of a mile long.

Waves of nausea welled up from her belly.

“Oh my God…” she whispered. She dug her boot heels into the mare’s sides and the nimble sorrel sprang into another strong gallop. Praying she’d go unnoticed, Emaline leaned low, her thoughts racing faster than the horse. What do they want? Why are they here?

Her fingers curled into the coarse mane as seconds flew past. At last, she reached the back entrance of the mansion. Quickly dismounting, she smacked the beast’s sweaty flank to send it toward the stable then spun to meet the grim expression fixed upon the face of the old woman who waited for her at the bottom of the steps. “I need Benjamin’s rifle!”

“Everythin’s right dere, Miz Emaline. Right where you’d want it.” She shifted sideways and pointed to the .54 caliber Hawkins, leather cartridge box and powder flask lying across the riser like sentinels ready for battle. “Tacker told me ’bout the Yankees afore he rode out to find you.”

“Bless you, Euley.” Emaline swept up the expensive, custom-made hunting rifle her late husband treasured. The flask followed and she tumbled black crystals down the rifle’s long muzzle. A moment later, the metal rod clanked down inside the barrel to force a lead ball home.

She’d heard so many stories of the bluecoats’ cruelty. What if they came to kill us? The ramrod fell to the ground. With a display of courage she did not feel, Emaline heaved the weapon into her arms, swept past the old servant, and took the wooden steps two at a time.

There was no time left for what ifs.

“You stay out of sight now, Euley. I mean it.” The door banged shut behind Emaline as she disappeared into the house.

Each determined footfall through the mansion brought her closer and closer to the possibility of yet another change in her life. She eased open the front door and peered out across Shapinsay’s sweeping lawns. Dust clogged the air and sent another shiver skittering up her spine. She moved out onto the wide veranda, and with each step taken, her heart hammered in her chest. Five strides later, Emaline stopped at the main steps and centered herself between two massive Corinthian columns.

She squared her shoulders. She lifted her chin. She’d fought against heartbreak every day for three years since her husband’s death. She’d fought the constant fear of losing her beloved brother in battle. She fought against the effects of this foolhardy war that sent all but two of her field hands fleeing. If she could endure all that plus operate this plantation all alone to keep Benjamin’s dreams alive, then surely, this too, she could fight.

And the loaded weapon? Well, it was for her fortitude only.

She knew she couldn’t shoot them all.

“Please, don’t turn in,” she mumbled, but the supplication withered on her lips when the front of the long column halted near the fieldstone gateposts at the far end of the lane. Three cavalrymen turned toward her then approached in a steadfast, orderly fashion.

Her gaze skimmed over the first soldier holding a wooden staff, a swallow-tailed scrap of flag near its top whipping in the breeze. The diminutive silk bore an embroidered gold star surrounded by a laurel wreath, the words, US Cavalry-6th Ohio, stitched beneath. Emaline disregarded the second cavalryman and centered her attention directly upon the officer.

The man sat his horse as if he’d been born in the saddle, his weight distributed evenly across the leather. A dark slouch hat covered sable hair that fell well beyond the collar of his coat. Epaulets graced both broad shoulders, emphasizing his commanding look. A lifetime spent in the sun and saddle added a rugged cast to his sharp, even features.

An overwhelming ache throbbed behind her eyes. What if she had to shoot him?

Or worse—what if she couldn’t?

The officer reined his horse to a stop beside the front steps. His eyes, long-lashed and as brown as a bay stallion’s, caught and held hers. Though he appeared relaxed, Emaline sensed a latent fury roiling just beneath the surface of his calm.

Her hands weakened on the rifle and she leaned forward, a hair’s breadth, unwillingly sucked into his masculinity as night sucked into day. Inhaling deeply, she hoisted the Hawkins to her shoulder, aiming it at his chest. Obviously, in command, he would receive her lone bullet should he not heed her words. “Get off my land!”

CINDY NORD, AUTHOR

A member of numerous writing groups, Cindy’s work has finaled or won countless times, including the prestigious Romance Writers of America National Golden Heart Contest. A luscious blend of history and romance, her stories meld both genres around fast-paced action and emotionally driven characters.

Indeed….true love awaits you in the writings of Cindy Nord
http://www.cindynord.com

Buy NO GREATER GLORY from Samhain Publishing here:
http://store.samhainpublishing.com/cindy-nord-pa-1722.html

or from Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/No-Greater-Glory-ebook/dp/B008GWOI9S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1343950898&sr=1-1&keywords=Cindy+Nord

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