Saturday Excerpt – Directions of the Heart by Marie Lavender

Directions of the Heart - eBook coverHe pushed past her, casting pleasantries aside. “How is she?” he demanded as he turned to face her.

Mrs. Johnson wrung her hands. “I don’t know. I’m not sure what’s wrong. She…” She shook her head.

“Where’s Caitlyn?”

The woman pointed the way.

Jack followed a corridor to a small bedroom. Pink walls, pink spread. Caitlyn had thrown a red blanket over the window to block out the light. He saw a huddled form beneath the bedspread, reached out and threw back the fabric.

He sat down to get a look at her. Caitlyn rocked, wet tracks down her face. She must’ve been crying. Her eyes were shut tight and her hair was wild. She wore a pair of lavender sweats, and was pretty much unresponsive to his touch. He checked for marks on her arms and wrists, but found nothing. So she hadn’t tried to hurt herself.

He suspected what was happening, but could only try to pull her from the nightmare. It was too easy for someone who had been traumatized like she had to revert to a catatonic state and he wished that hell on no one.

“Caitlyn? Caitlyn, it’s Jack. Jack Thomas, remember?”

No response.

A small sound came behind him, and he glanced back to see her mother cover her mouth. It didn’t matter right now. It couldn’t.

“Come on. Come back to me. Caitlyn, can you hear me? It’s going to be okay. I’ll help you get through this,” he vowed, and almost choked on the words. He pushed through the panicked flutter in his chest, gathering her into his arms.

“Caitlyn, I won’t let them hurt you anymore, okay? No one will. It’s just you and me. You. And me. I’m going to take care of you, I swear,” he said with his lips pressed to her temple. “Come back to me, sweetheart. Come on.”

He tried once more, unaware what words spilled out of him. Desperation alone drove his actions. As he cradled her to his chest, a fruity scent drifted into his nostrils. Strawberries, he thought. He felt the strangest combination of rightness and deep concern. “The world needs you, darling. Don’t hide away. Come back to us. Please.”

After a few moments, a shudder went through her and a small voice whispered, “Jack?”

“That’s right. I’m here, honey.”

Tears filmed her eyes. “I, I was back there again. In the cellar.”

“Shh…I know. I’m so sorry. But you’re here now. You’re safe in this house, and with me. You just go ahead and cry it out, hmm? Then you can sleep.”

She sobbed hard as he held her tight. Soon, she quieted to the occasional sigh and he pulled back to look at her. Her face was flushed and wet from her tears. He caressed her cheek. “How ya doing?”

She shook her head.

“All right. That’s fine. It’s a hard road, but I know you can do it. I’ll help you.”

“You really mean it,” she whispered, her tone incredulous.

He nodded. “Yeah, I do.”

“Okay.”

Her skin was so soft beneath his hand and he had to stop himself from stroking further. “How are you sleeping?”

She didn’t answer.

“That’s what I thought.” He looked at her mother. “Mrs. Johnson? Could you get her sleeping pills?”

The woman slipped out of the room.

“What about your antibiotic? The pain medicine? Have you been taking those?”

“Yes. They make me a little nauseous.”

“Sorry to hear that, sweetie, but they are necessary. And if you do use the sleeping pills, don’t try to drive, okay?” She murmured an agreement.

When her mother returned with the pill bottle and some water, Jack measured out a tablet, then watched as Caitlyn took it, eyeing her throat. “Good, that’s good. I’ll stay till you get to sleep, but we need to talk this out soon. All right?”

She nodded.

Satisfied, he held her against his shoulder, the minutes passing, until she went limp and her breaths evened out. It shook him that he could’ve held her forever, and he wouldn’t have had a problem with it. He checked her eyelids to be sure she slept before he covered her up with the bed’s blanket and spread, and cleared out of the room.

Mrs. Johnson followed him. “What was that? What’s going on?”

“Your daughter almost went into a catatonic state. What happened was too traumatic for her.”

She sat down on the sofa abruptly as if she’d lost the strength to stand. “But…I assumed I could handle her. I thought she would be okay.”

“This is more than anyone can handle alone. And she won’t be all right for some time.”

 

Blurb for Directions of the Heart:

Embark on a remarkable journey of drama, romance, and passion…

​In all of these amazing stories, there’s one burning question…is love worth the risk?

Without You

Reece and Jenna are two childhood friends separated by time and distance. Can they find a way to heal their bond, or perhaps forge a new one?

Strange Heat

Spurred by her friend’s close call, Victoria decides to take a risk and prove the lifestyle she led was her downfall. But as Tory sinks deeper into the tumultuous abyss of desire with the mysterious Rick, can she climb back out before it’s too late? Or does she even want to?

Memories

Struggling to run her family’s farm on her own, Sadie takes on a hired hand, Matt. As they grow closer, so does the danger. Someone wants her legacy. Can they combat this new threat, as well as the demons of the past, before Sadie loses everything, including her life?

A Touch of Dawn

Caitlyn thought she’d be in the dark forever. But with the light came Jack, the police consultant who found her. Can they take a journey of healing together, or will Caitlyn retreat into the darkness of her mind, where she lived for so long?

(CONTENT WARNING: With an abuse awareness theme in this collection, there may be triggers here for past trauma sufferers. However, HEAs are guaranteed.)

Tags: Contemporary Romance, Dramatic Fiction, PTSD Awareness, Anthologies and Collections

Goodreads link:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31351684-directions-of-the-heart

Purchase links:

Amazon Universal link:  https://bookgoodies.com/a/B071WVZZPV

myBook.to/DoH

Smashwords:  https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/729271

Barnes & Noble:  https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/directions-of-the-heart-marie-lavender/1126548251

Kobo:  https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/directions-of-the-heart-a-romantic-drama-collection

Create Space link:  https://www.createspace.com/7239124

#AuThursday – Marie Lavender

Marie Lavender LogoTell us a little about yourself and your background?

Well, I am a multi-genre author of 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, science fiction, mystery/thriller, dramatic fiction, literary fiction and poetry. And the list just keeps growing. Some of my works in progress include comedy, time travel or dystopian tales.  I come from the Midwestern U.S., and I live with my family and three cats. I’ve pretty much always known I wanted to be a writer, at least since I was old enough to officially write stories.

Are you an Introvert or Extrovert?  How does this affect your work?

I’m actually more introverted, though my writing career has forced me to be more public than I’m accustomed to. I guess you could say it’s a bit harder to put myself out there, but I do it anyway. I’ve had several radio interviews, I host three blogs and I have moderated lots of major book giveaways. I like meeting new people. Now and then, I still get nervous, though.

How do you make time to write?

When I’m balancing a side job and family obligations, it can be difficult. I usually aim to work a little on my current project every day, even if it’s a paragraph or a scene, or just researching different aspects of the story.

What excites you most about your current WIP?

The book I’m currently editing is Blood Instincts, a futuristic paranormal romance/urban fantasy which is also book two of the Blood at First Sight Series. I adore the characters, and designing the Other World. I’m very excited for fans of Second Nature, the first book, to read its sequel!

How did you deal with Rejection Letters if you received any?

Oh, I received quite a few when I was submitting Upon Your Return, my first historical romance, to agents and publishers. Whenever I’d get a rejection, I forced myself to feel more determined. I just sent out another five submissions to other places. Perseverance is a good quality to have in this business. And my persistence paid off. Not too long after that, I received my first book contract!

Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?

Actually, I have. I am in the midst of writing a romantic suspense novel with another writer. It’s titled Certain Death.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

They can find me at my author website, through my blogs at the MLB blog, the I Love Romance Blog, or Writing in the Modern Age. They can follow me on Twitter, Facebook and Google+. I also have an author newsletter, which I send out monthly, so feel free to subscribe!

Do you have an excerpt you’d like to share for Saturday?

DoHpromo15

Sure! This one is from my new release, Directions of the Heart, a modern romantic drama collection, which just came out on July 25th!

Join me on Saturday as we read an excerpt from “Directions of the Heart” by Marie. ~Tina

Saturday Spotlight – The Duchess and the Highwayman by Beverly Oakley

Banner The Duchess and the HighwaymanThe Duchess and the Highwayman

By Beverley Oakley

 Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and an eBook The Mysterious Governess.to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 BLURB:

 A duchess disguised as a lady’s maid; a gentleman parading as a highwayman.

She’s on the run from a murderer, he’s in pursuit of one…

In a remote Norfolk manor, Phoebe, Lady Cavanaugh is wrongfully accused by her servants of her brutal husband’s murder.

There’s little sympathy in the district for the duchess who’s taken a lover and made clear she despised her husband. The local magistrate has also vowed revenge since Lady Cavanaugh rebuffed his advances.

When Phoebe is discovered in the forest wearing only a chemise stained with the blood of her murdered husband, she persuades the noble ‘highwayman’ who rescues her that she is Lady Cavanaugh’s maidservant.

Hugh Redding has his own reasons for hunting down the man who would have Phoebe tried and hanged for murder. He plans to turn ‘the maidservant with aspirations above her station’ into the ‘lady’ who might testify against the very villain who would see Phoebe dead.

… Despite the fierce attraction between Phoebe and the ‘highwayman’, Phoebe is not in a position to admit she’s the ‘murderous duchess’ hunted across the land.

Seizing an opportunity to strike at the social and financial standing of the man who has profited by her distress, Phoebe is drawn into a dangerous intrigue.

… When disaster strikes, she fears Hugh will lack the sympathy or understanding of her unusual predicament to even want to save her a second time.

Buy Links:

Amazon | All other buy links

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The Duchess and the Highwayman imageExcerpt:

 She was astonished by the stab of feeling his amused and interested gaze unleashed within her. Her nipples hardened and she felt an instant heat in her lower belly that surely wasn’t just gratitude for the dress he’d paid for. Tempering her smile she looked away. It was a relief she was still capable of warm feelings for a man but she mustn’t allow herself to grow too fond of him. He was a means to an end.

“Well, together we shall prevail, Phoebe.” They’d reached the window embrasure where he put his finger beneath her chin and tipped her head. “I was thinking long and hard about what you said the other day.” At her inquiringly look he added, “That the way to bring Wentworth down would be discover what he most wanted.”

“I already told you what he most wants. The estate he’s inherited through murder.”

“And you plan to return to Blinley Manor to spy on him, is that right?”

She shook her head, suddenly afraid. “I can’t possibly go into company where he might recognise me.”

Mr Redding frowned. “But the new dress. I thought that was your very intention. I thought you planned to pretend to be a lady -”

“A lady, yes, but not …” She trailed off, miserable and fearful.

“You are very loyal to your mistress, aren’t you, Phoebe?” His tone softened. “Yet, despite your boldness, you’re doubting your abilities, aren’t you?” He drew her unexpectedly against him and his hands contoured her curves, skimming up and over the fine muslin before cupping her face. “Don’t worry, Phoebe, I shall be your tutor?”

“My tutor?” She pulled away, not liking the change in him. “I am not as easy as you might suppose, Mr Redding,” she ground out, fighting the urge to cry. Just when she’d begun to like and trust him he’d reverted to type.

He put his hands on her shoulders. “I’m curious. You pretend you’re an innocent, but you clearly have experience of men. You speak and behave like a lady. Who are you really, Phoebe?”

She felt her mouth drop open and didn’t know how to answer. She wasn’t ready to confess her identity when she wasn’t sure enough of Mr Redding.

“Were you trading on past experience to be so beguiling when you desired a new dress? Were you a rich man’s mistress, perhaps?”

Phoebe hung her head. That’s exactly what she’d been and her body language and silence seemed to confirm it in Mr Redding’s mind.

“So once you had a rich protector but now you’re a lady’s maid?”

Unable to look him in the eye, she nodded, tears threatening.

“And now I am your protector and am funding a new wardrobe.”

She gasped and jerked her head up. “So this is when you ask me to sleep with you?”

He shook his head. “Not if the idea is so repugnant. No, I promised a fair trade: your information to bolster a case against Wentworth.” His voice dropped as his eyes travelled over her, lingering on her décolletage which, for the first time, was shown to best advantage thanks to the stays the dressmaker had procured in a hurry. “I still hold out hope I might persuade you of my inherent charm, though.”

“Well, you can hope in vain, Mr Redding. I may have lost my virtue but not my dignity.”

He put out his hand slowly, as if coaxing a small animal and Phoebe watched his seeking fingers gently skim the puffed roulade of her sleeve before advancing across her shoulder towards her bared skin. Anticipation rose and she sucked in a shallow breath as he slowly contoured the edge of her gown, skimming the top of her breasts.

“I know you’ve felt more than just a passing interest in me, from the moment we met, Phoebe,” he whispered. His hand dipped beneath the fabric of her bodice and she gasped, unsure whether to resist or succumb.

By God, but he was making this difficult. She’d wanted any encounter of a physical nature to be on her terms if only to prove she was not the weak creature she’d always been with Wentworth.

Swallowing, she suddenly pulled away, saying in as disinterested voice as she could manage, “What news of the murder at the manor? You were out on horseback in the village this morning, were you not?”

~*~*~*~*~*~

Author Info:

 Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.

Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.

Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.

Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

You can get in contact with Beverley at:

website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

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#AuThursday – Beverley Oakley

beverley-eikli-author-pic-copy

I was born in the tiny African mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, which is land-locked by South Africa. When I was small I emigrated with my family to South Australia where we built a two-story mud brick home and planted 25,000 trees in the wine-producing Clare Valley before I returned to Africa in my 20’s – this time to Botswana’s Okavango Delta – to manage a safari lodge. There I met and married a handsome Norwegian bush pilot who took me to live and work in 12 countries before we settled, a few years ago, in Melbourne, Victoria.

I write fulltime in between teaching creative writing interspersed with communications and marketing contracts, mainly for the Victorian government.

How do you make time to write?

I have to work hard at the discipline. When I was writing for traditional publishers I was given deadlines but now that I self publish, mostly, I have to make my own deadlines. Often that’s locking myself into a pre-order which usually ends with me burning the candle at both ends – such as now when trying to finish my work in progress, Devil’s Run. I still have at least 10,000 words to write in less than a week!

What genre are your books?

I used to call them straight historical Regencies or Victorian-set romances. Now, however, I find that there are multiple layers of plot and either mystery and intrigue with, quite often, a lovely, honourable hero and a heroine who has a blemished past or who is spoiled or needs redeeming in some way. I don’t consciously set out to write noble heroes and heroines in need of redeeming with either a wicked villain or a vain anti-heroine in the wings, but there’s often a version of that set-up.

So my books aren’t for readers who like a straight, sweet and uncomplicated historical. My biggest series – Daughters of Sin – is like a Regency-set soap opera with four different sisters – 2 illegitimate, 2 nobly born – lots of rivalry, double-dealing, mystery, a wicked rake being pursued for traitorous activities, and so on. I recently wound up the series with book 5, Lady Unveiled: the Cuckold’s Conspiracy, but intend to do a spin-off series of the various children – legitimate, illegitimate, secret, swapped and stolen – who have resulted from the five books in this series.

What draws you to this genre?

The inequalities between genders and the social divide, as well as the clothes and the manners. There’s so much scope for desperation to override good judgement and other rich plot possibilities when there’s not the social safety net that we take for granted today where no one starves and or doesn’t get treated at a hospital. (At least, that’s the case where I live in Australia so I let my imagination take me to another century when people couldn’t take health and not starving for granted.)

What are your current projects?

I’m nearly finished book 3 in my Beautiful Brazen Brightwell series. It’s called Devil’s Run about a young woman whose dying aunt may or may not leave her a fortune so she makes a wager to marry this betting man, both of them having very different motivations for wanting the marriage to go ahead (all about a horse) except that love gets in the way.

Are you an Introvert or Extravert?

Introvert.  How does this affect your work? I’ve forced myself to do author talks and, as I love making historical costumes, it’s less intimating to do an author talk dressed in a 1780s polonaise as I can then pretend I’m someone else.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Porridge to get me going for breakfast, a glass of wine to spur me on after dinner and sometimes chocolate in between. I have very different writing schedules and as my husband is away in Singapore for six weeks at the moment and I’m between government contracts (plus it’s school holidays) I can write around the clock if I want – and as my next deadline draws near I have in fact got to work after waking at 4am.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Never give up.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.beverleyoakley.com

Do you have a sexy excerpt you’d like to share with us?

I just grabbed this paragraph from my unfinished work in progress, Devil’s Run:

Perhaps in the glow of moonlight he saw the spark in her eye that reflected his own feelings. Whatever it was, something in his expression flared. There was a split second of arrested awareness before a subtle shifting in the mood between them, then the sharp excitement of melding bodies, arms entwined and mouths unexpectedly fused in a kiss. The jolt of something come to life within her sent Eliza into the abyss, her mind a mass of coalescing thoughts, her body a jumble of nerve endings.

Thanks so much for having me, Tina.

You are welcome Beverley!   Join me on Saturday when we read a post for Beverley’s Blog Tour! 

Banner The Duchess and the Highwayman

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