Friday, November 10, 2017

Alter-ego Review of Cold Sweat by J. S. Marlo




From our alter-egos:


From the desk of ~

DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.

AND

ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH


Greetings!



Tattle slid open the curtains and looked out the window. "There are a lot of leaves in your yard."

Wrye stared at the computer, considering if éclairs cured writer's block. "I will handle it."

"Mr. Leaf Blower handles the autumn leaves in my yard."

"Don't worry about it." Doesn't look her way. 

"You really should get to it before it is overwhelming."

"Fine. Ok. Whatever." He moved from the office to the kitchen and added two cookies to his éclair plate and started to munch.

"You will get tired of looking at them."

"You're a noodge."

She steals a cookie off his plate. "Yeah, and I'm good at it.

He frowns at her, pockets the remaining cookie. "I have a plan."

"Really."

"Really."

"What?"

"I'll show you." With a mouth full of pastry, he went into action and closed the curtain.

Before she could say another word, Wrye snapped his fingers and the two dashed into a Love of Literature Leap: a review of COLD SWEAT (HEAT & ENDURANCE 1) By  J. S. Marlo 




Tattle and Wrye appear in COLD SWEAT by J. S. Marlo, a romantic suspense.

"Wait!" Wrye held his chest, puffing.

Tattle looked startled. "You ok?"

"It's this book! It is so fast-paced  I have to catch my breath."

Tattle did the double-eyed-tumble skyward.  "Scared me, you did."

"Yes, be afraid, be very afraid, m'Yodaish sleuth," Wrye countered, his face tense with emotion. "Seventeen-year-old Hope Craig was kidnapped while training to make the biathlon Olympic team. Two creepazoids seized her right off a ski slope and stashed her in a remote, winter secure cabin as time trickled away toward her possible ta da da daaaaaaaaaa death.... For the ransom demand is unfeasible"



BUY: www.champagnebooks.com  

Gives Wrye the look, the ya-gotta-get-it-together-dude look. "You can get dramatic, you know, but this time you aren't far off the bull's eye. Hope Craig is resourceful and tenacious but she is also deaf. In some ways that is an advantage, cause the 'nappers have their imbecilic moments and don't expect her to be so clever."

Poised as a wise ole sage, foot on a snow dusted log while stroking his chin, Wyre contributes. "Hope's mother Colonel Amelia Matheson recruits Sheriff Rich Morgan to aid in the investigation. The two have... history."

"Look fire!"

"Where?"

"The book, silly. Colonel Matheson and the Sheriff are flint to tinder. She simply can't forget that he once hurt her. And he simply can't forgive himself either. Yet the sparks continue as they assemble information, process clues and uncover truths long hidden. Meanwhile, they try to come to terms with their embittered past while confronting one unexpected and sinister circumstance after another."

"As always, J. S. Marlo never fails to entertain and rob me of sleep." Wrye points into cyber space, thinking Marlo can see him. "Yeah, I mean you, keeping me up to all hours. I can even stop at a chapter break cause they are all cliffhangers. How can you do that to an old geezer! Huh!" Took a breath, shook his head and continued. "I digress. Seriously, folks, this is one of her best suspense thrillers to date. It's like listening to a drummer who starts out with a steady, enticing beat that grows and intensifies then gets louder and louder, and then becomes wild and frantic. You killed it, lady!"

"Didn't I tell you, dramaaaatic! But, I, too, digress. Another winner for J. S. Marlo, going to read this saga about Quest, Phoenix and Ducky again because I was so caught up, I read like fiend. Now, I want to take my time. Oh, y'all wondering who those characters are? Gotta read the book to find out. Let's just say, they are so well-rounded and dimensional, they must be real. I am looking them up online cause I wanna meet them. Truly and seriously, Marlo is an author of suspense surpassed by none, and this book is one you don't want to miss. Just buckle up for a wild and intoxicating ride!

Tattle and Wrye loop arms as they jump into a revisit review of, UNBALANCED by Courtney Shepard, a paranormal romance.

Tattle clears her throat and begins, “Long, long ago four young girls were abducted by the Master, and henceforth generations of four sisters are pulled back to the current Master of The Order.  The sisters’ powers grow with every generation; thereby The Order’s need for that power intensifies.  They cannot exist without it, and they have a decisive and heinous end plan.”

“This latest generation of sisters had been separated at birth yet they are all still hunted.” Narrowing his eyes, Wrye offers a sinister snarl.  “And they feel it, believe there is something more to their existence and soon those reasons unfold even as the threat of death dodges them.  This is a tale of four powerful women who have the ability to command the element of nature.  Asha, the main heroine of this story, is fire and is as independent and tough as they come as well as quite explosive when her temper is ignited.” Uses both hands to imitate the universal symbol of something exploding.

“Her love interest, Clay,” Tattle sighs the name, “… has his own mysterious depths and from the first you feel he might pose a threat. Still, he has been drawn to her, believes her to be the powerful woman who has haunted his dreams, La Guerrero Reina, the Warrior Queen. He pledges himself to her, but there is something more to this hot-to-the-bone hero, and their romance has the curve twisting velocity of a roller coaster ride as their passion increases and their love strengthens despite an unwavering sense, woven into the underside of the story that smacks of betrayal.”

“The backdrop of the story also shows the persistent struggle of women through the ages in life and in religion. The prevalent magic underpinning the story, along with the slow unveiling of the truth behind The Order, and the reason for the sisters’ power is fully compelling.  Good and evil has its place as well, but neither is pure which makes it all more human and realistic.”

Tattle adds, “The characters are all well-drawn with the sisters being very tough, no-nonsense and determined. The men they are drawn to, with a future promise of possibilities, also exhibit that fighting spirit, and they too share a mysterious aura that keeps the reader wondering at the truth. The sexuality of the book has steam and heat enough to pull you into the romance, yet is delightfully devoid of any crudeness or obscenity, making the various elements of mystery, romance, fantasy, magic and danger all balanced.”

“Courtney Shepard wove a tale that stays with you days past reading it.” Wrye gives his serious and penetrating look.  “The plot was swiftly paced, cleverly written while the dialogue was brisk, addictive and true to life. If there is any complaint it is that it ended too soon.  I want to read more of this universe, uncover the finer depths of The Order, the deeper mystery behind the sisters. These feelings, I believe the author, skillfully and deliberately provoked with the purpose of sequels, one for each of the sisters, Ivy, Mere and Avia, of which I am looking forward to reading. UNBALANCED is a book with a hook! If you enjoy the paranormal with strong female leads, this is certainly the story for you.”

***
We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at writingteamcw@yahoo.com (Write - Blog Dawn - in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a free ebook (choose erotic or romantic thriller) and add you to any future mailings.



Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com










Friday, August 18, 2017

REVIEW: UNTAMED by J. S. Marlo

FROM THE DESK OF
DONA PENZA TATTLE, ESQ.
AND
ASSOCIATE WRYE BALDERDASH

Sharing a review from our buds, Tattle and Wrye:

UNTAMED (Duty Bound #3) by J.S. Marlo

Living in her grandfather’s Newfoundland cabin in the outskirts of nowhere, Hannah Parker defended both herself and her young son by using simple tenacity and persistence. Many would consider being deaf a weakness, Hannah ignored it, not allowing the disability to define her any more than she allowed her damaged reputation to brand her. Still, troubles followed her. Deceit stalked her. A killer lurked in the woods and she anticipated no one will believe that truth. Then again, she oft suspected most who come across her path. After all, she didn't even report the local constable’s sexual harassment, believing they would take his statement over hers.

Having been tossed into the remote Newfoundland detachment, the irresistible, slightly knavish Constable Avery Stone immediately delves into unraveling the truth behind unsolved crimes and the death of a dishonored officer. During his investigation, he came upon Hannah and took an interest in the spunky woman and her young son. Knowing few things were as they appeared, he believed in her more than what appeared in reports or what was rumored by those who only thought they understood.

A tangle of deceit mired with a surplus of danger has Hannah accepting Avery’s help, and both falling for the other with instinctive trust.  Only, Hannah’s past relentlessly shadowed her in ways she doesn’t even comprehend, and death set a trap to keep the truth hidden. Would either her or Avery be able to  unravel the endless knots of deception before Hannah and her son were destroyed?

Wrye paced, shaking off the intensity of the story he just devoured. “Wow! Another well-plotted, nicely paced, and mystery oriented story in the third of the Duty Bound Series. UNTAMED has not lost any of the steam or power of the previous two books. It is a stand-alone yet for those who read the first two, it has a few past references to keep the connection alive. Once again, J.S. Marlo has taken us on a journey filled with twists and complications that leave us guessing. There is just enough romance to make you cheer on not only the individual characters but the couple, hopefully to be a family. Hannah, her son Rory and even the dog Snowflake are endearing. Avery beams hero in every possible way, yet has enough tarnish to make him real. This is the perfect read with an unexpected climax and satisfying end. I’m looking forward to more from J.S. Marlo.”

Tattle sipped ginger-spiced tea and sighed. “The Duty Bound Series as a whole is so absorbing and mesmerizing. Each story is unique, and it is difficult to define a favorite. This latest though has taken intrigue to a new level. Imagine being alone in a far off place with a young son to protect, and then imagine you can’t hear. Following this heroine made every shadow, every new turn, every unexpected danger more intense. As always, the writing was tight, the characters realistic, the plot complex and the villains were nasty even though discovering who was villainous was left to the end. And that wasn’t the only obscure identity in the story.” Tattle ran a finger across her lips as if zipping up and locking. “I can say no more. You have to read to discover the reality. And not just this story, but the whole series. You will be enthralled and entertained.”
***


Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane
www.champagnebooks.com - www.carnalpassions.com - angelicahartandzi.com










Thursday, August 17, 2017

Give Your Characters Room to Grow


Give your characters room to grow and you will bring them to life; don’t, and they might as well be made out of cardboard.

As a pantser, I don’t do a lot of in-depth outlining of my characters before I start. I prefer to discover what they are like as I write. I let them reveal themselves to me, although I frequently have to pause and discover the backstory that has caused them to behave or react the way that they do.

The story “The Queen’s Pawn” is a good example of this. When we first meet the queen, she comes across as a bit simple-minded. As the tale progresses, we find out who is really in charge. Her daughter is a loud-mouthed shrew. I had to discover why before I could finish the story. They both show sides not obvious when we first meet them. The harried hero of the tale, the young man, also undergoes personal changes over the course of the three volumes. (Admittedly, seemingly slowly at times.).

Even the villains have to have a reason for why they act the way they do. A good villain should believe that he or she is in the right. Very few memorable villains think they are simply evil. They may be seeking justice for a real or imaginary wrong. Remember, the ordinary folks outnumber the psychopaths. (I hope).

I often let the character’s motives become obvious slowly rather than dump them all on the reader in the first chapter. People can also change. Motives may not be obvious. That is part of the fun of writing. I want to get to know the characters better. They can even change the direction of a story once you get to know them better.

In working on a recent manuscript I had reason to pause and consider that some of my characters were too similar. Without using their names you couldn’t tell them apart. That gave me a reason to dig deeper and discover what those differences were. In the process, I learned more about them, and what made them tick.

Take a look at your characters. Are they well-rounded or flat? The best written have emotions the readers should be able to relate to. Do they have good reasons for what they do? You at least should know those motives even if you only hint at them in your novel. Give them room to breathe and they will come to life. That alone will make for a much better story.

R.J.Hore
www.facebook.com/RonaldJHore

The Dark Lady Trilogy (Volume 1,2,3)
The Queen’s Pawn (Volume 1,2,3)
The Housetrap Chronicles (Volumes 1 to 8)
Alex in Wanderland,
Knight’s Bridge
We’re Not in Kansas

Toltec Dawn Trilogy (Volume 1, 2, 3)

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Signs of the Times...


Patty and I just got back from our western odyssey—25 days towing the camper behind our Subaru as we toured Grand Teton, Yellowstone, and Glacier National Parks. Along with the fabulous mountain scenery and wildlife, I became fascinated by some of the signs along the way.

One of the first, and coolest, was for Lost Springs, Wyoming. When we saw this, we had to do a double take. (The pic below is from 2007; when we went through, the population had quadrupled, to 4). But we were both going “Did that just say Population 4??? Gotta be the smallest town in America.”

And yes, my research shows that Lost Springs, WY does indeed have the distinction of being the smallest incorporated town in America. Salute!



There were some road signs in Montana that also caught my interest, mainly because I think the fellow who was in charge of naming the roads must have had a great sense of humor. How can you not chuckle at “Bad Route Road”?



But there was also Whoop Up Road (no pic available for this one, unfortunately), along with Cracker Box Road (again, no pic available—hey, we were doing 70 mph here…). 

These are signs that make you want to know the story behind them.  This one, near Hebron, ND, was definitely one of those:




Why Fort Sauerkraut, in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota? Inquiring minds want to know.

And then there were signs that made us go “OK, yeah… Never heard it put like that, but yeah…”


I’ve known a few people who could live under that sign as well… 

But the point of all this, rambling though it may be, is that these things caught our interest, and made us think, or wonder, or want to know more about them.

As writers, if we’re doing our jobs properly, that’s what we do as well. We leave signposts along the way in our stories, to make people want to know more—to keep reading and find out what it’s all about.  Because if the reader doesn’t care to know more, if all they see is something like this



Then that innate sense of curiosity and desire to know the rest of the story won’t kick in. So leave some interesting signs, like this one:



You won’t regret it, and neither will your readers.



Keith W. Willis is a semi-professional word-wrangler and author of the award-winning fantasy/romance Traitor Knight. He lives in upstate NY with his loving, lovely, and extraordinarily patient wife, who is gracious enough to encourage his writing habit, and even reads (and proofreads) his words despite the fact that she doesn't really like fantasy. That's love. He does not drink coffee, and neither owns nor is owned by any critters of the feline persuasion. His second novel, Desperate Knight, will be published on August 7, 2017 by Champagne Book Group.





                      





Tuesday, July 25, 2017

An Interview with January Bain



Hi, January Bain here! I confess, I haven't got a thing prepared today!!! So, I've decided to go with a fun Q and E from a few weeks back that might give you ideas for interview questions. Or, at the very least, help you and I get to know one another better!

(1)   When did you realize or decide you wanted to be a writer?

Easy one! I’ve been a voracious reader since I found a tattered book on the side of the road as a very young child, dragged it home, and insisted on learning what it said. Became the quintessential bookworm over night! And reading, as many know, leads to wanting to tell your own stories! My appetite for writing rivals my need to read now. I LOVE to write, immerse myself in research, learn more about people and our amazing world. There is such potential in the miracle that we live in. Wakes every morning at dawn to hear the birds singing and my muse responding.

(2)   What has been your best experience as an author so far?

Everything! I love the people you meet; the readers and authors have all been so generous to me. I am beyond blessed. 😊


(3)   What sort of challenges have you faced as a writer? How did you overcome them?


Well, I had a TON to learn I soon discovered when I made the decision to write full time. So many things to consider when you write a story. Everything from the character’s story arc to how to keep people reading, turning the pages. I read at least one book on writing a week. And far more on any research necessary for the complicated stories I love to tell, and of course, fellow authors books inspire me.


(4)   How do you research and plan your books? Do you find outlining helps or hinders your process?

I adore learning anything new as you might have gathered by now. LOL  I most like a series, a broad canvas for storytelling, and because of that I need to have some outlining done ahead of time, but not so much that when the characters take over you can’t respond in a heartbeat to their needs. It’s a hybrid of both for me.


(5)   Have you learned anything really cool or interesting while researching your books? What's been the weirdest research you've ever had to do?

Good question! I found researching the history of Nova Scotia’s Money Pit for Winning Casey fascinating, reading a dozen books on the subject to get a clear picture of what’s occurred in one of the ten most intriguing mysteries of the world, according to a lot of lists and polls. And right now, researching Bitcoin phenomenon for Racing the Tide, first book in The TETRAD Group has been downright intriguing.



(6)   What advice would you give to new writers in the field?

Write. Read. Research. Relax. Enjoy the amazing journey that awaits.


(7)   Tell us a little about your writing nook! Favorite tea/coffee/writing snack?

Bed! I love to wake up and get right to it. Drink endless cups of coffee and write, write, write.


(8)   Of all of your own characters, who would you most want to date?


Hmm. Now there’s a question for you. I love a strong, intelligent, funny, romantic man not afraid to talk about his feelings. Not asking much, eh! So all of my heroes have been the man of the moment, when I’m writing about them. 😉


(9)   What project are you currently working on?


The first book in The TETRAD Group series, Racing the Tide, following the prequel Kindle World novella, Racing Peril, both due out in December.


        (10)What's next for you?

I’m going to be juggling the two series for the foreseeable future! Chasing Lacey is next in line for the Brass Ringers, and Racing Hell, for TETRAD.


Author Bio:


January Bain has wished on every falling star, every blown-out birthday candle, and every coin thrown in a fountain to be a storyteller. To share the tales of high adventure, mysteries, and full blown thrillers she has dreamed of all her life. The story you now have in your hands is the compilation of a lot of things manifesting itself for this special series. Hundreds of hours spent researching the unusual and the mundane have come together to create a series that features strong women who don’t take life too seriously, wild adventures full of twists and unforeseen turns, and hot complicated men who aren’t afraid to take risks. She can only hope the stories of her beloved Brass Ringers will capture your imagination as you follow their exploits as much as they did when she wrote them.


If you are looking for January Bain, you can find her hard at work every morning without fail in her office with two furry babies trying to prove who does a better job of guarding the doorway. And, of course, she’s married to the most romantic man! Who once famously remarked to her inquiry about buying fresh flowers for their home every week, “Give me one good reason why not?” Leaving her speechless and knocking her head against the proverbial wall for being so darn foolish. She loves flowers.



If you wish to connect in the virtual world she is easily found on Facebook, twitter and writes a weekly blog about her journey on Blogger. Oh, and she loves to talk books…



Book Interview



Tell us a little about your new release:

Winning Casey is a book dear to my heart. The novel I was writing when my Dad passed. He loved this story, said I was on the right track and that meant the world to me! Writing about Casey and Truman’s journey—it’s been beyond awesome in every way. The pair won me over with their bickering, stance beliefs and tribulations. If you like a hot adventure with lots of twists and turns, written in a caper-like style, give them a try. And it’s just the beginning, with 7 more books planned in the series.


Where did your inspiration for the book come from?

I love to read as you already know. I read Pierre Burton’s book on the Klondike and stashed away images of the time and period. He mentions Soapy, a bigger-than-life character in the book, and then I invented his Stolen Gold Horde knowing what he did to the miners as a famous conman and it all came together to craft the beginning. Add in my detailed knowledge of Canada’s Money Pit, and we had a backdrop and adventure for our heroine and hero to pit themselves against.


Did you outline the story, or dive right in?

A hybrid of both really. I need to get down some of the ideas ahead of time, then let the characters take over and lend a hand!


How did your characters come to life?

Characters are as real to me as people that populate my life, at least during the time I write their story. I see an image of them, discover their unique characteristics, both physical and mental, and bring them to life.


Did you do any cool or interesting research for this story? What did you learn?

Oh, a ton!!! I LOVE research. I read at least a dozen books to craft this one tale. Everything from the different ideas of who dug the Money Pit to learning Knights Templar history. One of the best parts of writing, is the learning.


What was your favorite part of working on this story? What was the most challenging?

There were a lot of challenges. As always. I need to be challenged to bring out the best in me. My awesome editor, Rebecca Baker, is very good at that. Showing me how to stretch as a writer. I highly value her input.


What's next for this story - is it part of a series? When does it come out?

Winning Casey is scheduled for general release on August 1st. Right now it is available from Totally Bound.


Excerpt:

 “Yet it isn’t the gold that I’m wanting

So much as just finding the gold.”
Robert Service



Casey glared at the stuffed moose head and it stared right back at her, its one broken antler leering.

“What are you looking at? You think this is easy? Who piles this many friggin’ rocks over their treasure, anyway? Yeah, yeah, I know—someone trying to hide it.”

She took a deep breath, adjusted her white and blue striped canvas work gloves and inserted the heavy red-tipped crowbar under the final stone slab. Air hissed out of her mouth and nose as she exerted her back and thigh muscles to the task, straining to pry it loose.

“Ach-choo!”

She sniffed loudly, her nose dripping. The damn soot-covered rocks had been in use as a fire pit. Give it to Hefty, though—clever ruse.

Ignoring the black soot, she leaned against the huge pile of stones and wiped her nose on her hoodie sleeve before shining her flashlight onto Hefty McGee’s journal. She thumbed through the tattered pages, still confident that the university wouldn’t miss the dusty old thing for one weekend.

“Hmm, says here Hefty won a moose head from a saloon keeper in a card game right here in Dawson City. Furthermore, that you lost that antler in the ensuring fistfight when it turned out that the gambler was a poor loser. Know anything about that?”

She tucked the journal back into her hoodie then reinserted the crowbar.

“Okay, here goes!” She attacked the slab with all her might. A loud squeal of protest as rock ground against rock. Ah, it moved. Just another few inches. Grunting, she pushed harder until the heavy cover slid off enough that she could shine her flashlight inside the hole pickaxed into the cave floor.

The sight of a large rotted pile of leather securely wrapped and tied with a cord quickened her breath. On top, weighing the package down, was a small smooth rock, and underneath it a torn piece of brown butcher paper. She pulled it out and shone the light on it.

She read the faded handwritten words aloud, figuring the moose had a right to know, as well. “‘Abandon hope all ye who steals Soapy’s Gold. It be cursed. Gave me the pox. Hefty McGee.’” Casey chuckled, despite the discomfort of the past few hours of digging in the tight, damp quarters, and gave the moose head a glance. “Just proves, old man, I’m in the right place!”

She thrust her arm inside the large hole in the cave floor and tugged on the heavy parcel. Damn, not enough room to lift it out. The blasted stone needed to be moved farther over. She glanced back at the doorway of the cave. Only a short while and the spring waters of the rising Yukon River would flood the low-lying cave.

“Be nice if you could lend a hand, buster.” She directed her comments at the moose head. It was beginning to creep her out, staring down at her with glassy, lifeless eyes. Okay, so perhaps coming alone had not been so smart, but she needed to know if all her research was going to pay off. And, just maybe, it was about to. Big-time.

The pry bar slipped as the rock jerked under the extreme pressure. It swung in an upward arc toward the moose head, pitching her forward as it did so. It also hit the beast a solid blow on its huge bulbous nose, knocking it loose from its perch on the rock wall and right down onto her head.

The last thought as pain drilled into her brain was that the old miner who had gone to the trouble to hide his stolen gold in the wilds of Northern Canada might have gotten it right. The curse was effective—if one was a klutz.

Casey woke with a start, shivering uncontrollably. Her head pounded from a possible concussion and her clothes were soaking wet. She blinked hard, gingerly touching the top of her skull, and felt a lump as large as a goose egg under her platinum braid of hair. Damn. If she had a mirror she could tell her if her eyes were dilated. But at least there was no blood. She rummaged in her pocket for her cell phone and checked the time. Double damn. She’d been out for more than an hour!

As her vision cleared, she focused on the cave’s entrance. Waves slapping around the opening made her heart race. Swallowing hard against the shock and the pain, she struggled to pull herself to a sitting position. Her brain swam with the effort and she punched the downed moose right in its over-sized moth-eaten nose.

“It’s all your fault! If you weren’t already dead…” Casey threatened. She managed to get to her feet by holding on to the clammy moss-covered stone wall. Trickles of moisture created darkened trails down the ancient walls, dampening her palms.

A flash of something sliding by the doorway drew her attention. Her boat! Left tied to a tree on shore, with the rising waters it’d somehow managed to work itself free. Headache forgotten, she splashed through the frigid water, lunging to snatch hold of it before it drifted away in the current. Swaying dizzily, she managed to tug it inside the cave’s broad mouth. Thank goodness the cave floor sloped down toward the river, otherwise her transport might have floated away while she was knocked out.

She held hard to the canoe’s frayed rope, maneuvering the sixteen-foot boat closer to the treasure. Once she tied it securely to an outcropping of rock, she hauled the offending moose head off to the side, grateful the one good antler hadn’t pierced her skull. She relaunched her efforts to retrieve the booty. Thank God her flashlight was still intact and working.

“No fucking way I’m leaving here without my gold!” she muttered. “God damn it—move, won’t you!” she exclaimed in frustration, pushing as hard as she could manage. It was now or never. At least the weight training was paying off. She put everything behind the effort, every muscle in her body struggling and screaming at her to give it up already.

With an ominous creak like a banshee screaming in the wind, she inched the stone lid off bit by bit, the pit reluctant to give up its treasure. Finally, against the clock, Casey jolted the stone lid far enough off to allow her full access to what lay beneath. With a tug at the rotted string that bound the package, she thrust it out of the way and pushed her hand inside to pull apart the decayed leather.

She froze and took a deep breath, heart hammering. Was this the moment? Would all her intensive research now pay off? Or was it an elaborate hoax set up by an ornery old conman with a wicked sense of humor?

She touched it reverently, a laying-on-of-hands. Took a deep breath.

This was it. The moment of truth.

And yet, she hesitated, her hands trembling. So much rode on this. Finding the treasure would fund another adventure, her life’s blood. Give her the freedom she needed. Craved.

Open it already!

Okay. Stop shouting at me.

The war within quieted as she slowly peeled back the edges of the musty old covering. Was that a choir of angels singing? No, just her imagination working overtime. Whispers from the past upping the roaring clamor in her head as the color revealed itself.

Shiny yellow nuggets. Gold! Soapy’s stolen hoard!

The nuggets gleamed brightly under the flashlight’s beam. Nestled between the lumps of gold, someone had packed old leather pouches filled with gold dust. She’d found it! She swallowed hard. Glanced back at the cave’s entrance.

Crap. The water was rising. Faster.

Hurriedly, she scooped up the heavy nuggets and packets, flinging them into her backpack and glancing back at the cave’s entrance every few seconds to make sure she could still free herself. Running out of room in the pack, she pulled another black carryall from the canoe’s bottom and loaded it. At the last possible second, she threw in the moose head, knowing she was being loopy. The damn thing must weigh twenty-five pounds, broken antler or not, but he’d helped point the way.

Sales Link
WINNING CASEY: Book One/The Brass Sorority Series
 Hugs, January