Sunday Spotlight on Lily and the Gambler #free @Smashwords thru 7/31

Sunday’s Spotlight is on my Western historical, Lily and the Gambler, currently free at Smashwords thru July 31.

This story was inspired by a vacation my husband and I took through California’s Gold Country. I fell in love with the old gold mining towns, esp. Grass Valley, which I found especially interesting due to its strong ties to Cornwall. I decided I needed a Cornish hero and an American hero, in the mold of James Garner’s Maverick.

Columbia gold rush town

California Columbia carriage in a real old Western Gold Rush Town in USA

Another trip followed where I did research, including mine tours and visits to museums. At one point, my husband threatened divorce if I dragged him through another mining museum! The curse of living with a writer.

Lily and the GamblerBlurb:

Respectability is in the eye of the beholder. Or so Lily Penhallow hopes when she assumes the guise of the widow Albright. She has learned the price of flaunting convention and is determined to obey society’s rules from now on. After her lover, Nigel Albright, was killed in a duel over a card game, Lily dons widow’s weeds and travels to Grass Valley, California where she plans to marry the man her uncle works for, a respectable mine owner named Hugh Ogilvie. Then, on the riverboat from San Francisco, she meets Creighton ‘King’ Callaway, a professional gambler, just the kind of man she should avoid.

King believes that since life is a gamble, there’s no point in planning for the future. You have to trust Lady Luck. After meeting Lily, King knows he has found his Queen of Hearts. But can he convince her to pass up a sober businessman for a foot-loose card sharp?

Only Lady Luck knows for sure…

Excerpt:

Lily smiled at him. “That was quite a trick. Do you tell fortunes, too?”

“As a matter of fact, I do. Is the lady interested?”

“Perhaps,” she said, aware he was flirting with her again and annoyed with herself because she was enjoying it. “There should be a deck of cards here somewhere.”

“No cards required. Just let me see your palm.”

Unable to stop herself, Lily stripped off her gloves and let him take her hand. He held it in his left hand, and with his right index finger, traced the lines on her palm. Shivers ran up her arm at each caressing touch. His scent, a mixture of bay rum, male musk, and a faint hint of tobacco, overwhelmed her.

“What do you see?” she asked, her voice suddenly breathless.

“Health and long life.”

“What, no handsome stranger?” she joked.

He raised his head and stared into her eyes. “Oh, yes, I see romance ahead for you. With a dark haired fellow. But he isn’t a stranger.”

For what seemed an age, she stared into his green-gold eyes while her pulse quickened and warmth stole through her veins. It would be so easy to surrender to the feelings he evoked.

“I also see a fork in the road ahead,” he added softly. “You have a decision to make. A very important decision.”

She snatched her hand away, knowing she couldn’t afford to be distracted by him. It wasn’t as if he had made her any promises. “I think you need to practice your fortune-telling skills, Mr. Callaway.”

He chuckled. “There’s something else I’d like to practice.”

Lily promo graphic

Available at Amazon Kindle, BN/Nook, Kobo and #free at Smashwords thru July 31.

Saturday Spotlight on Rogue’s Hostage for #sale @Smashwords

For the weekend, I thought I’d spotlight my two American-set historical romances, Rogue’s Hostage and Lily and the Gambler.

Rogue’s Hostage is the book of my heart, the one that grabbed hold of me and wouldn’t let go. It took me three years to research and write the book, then almost a decade to sell it, but the characters never left me alone for long. You need to tell our story to the world.

His hostage…

In 1758 the Pennsylvania frontier is wild, primitive and dangerous, where safety often lies at the end of a gun. Mara Dupré’s life crumbles when a French and Indian war party attacks her cabin, kills her husband, and takes her captive. Marching through the wilderness strengthens her resolve to flee, but she doesn’t count on her captor teaching her the meaning of courage and the tempting call of desire.

Her destiny…

French lieutenant Jacques Corbeau’s desire for his captive threatens what little honor he has left. But when Mara desperately offers herself to him in exchange for her freedom, he finds the strength to refuse and reclaims his lost self-respect. As the shadows of his past catch up to him, Jacques realizes that Mara, despite the odds, is the one true key to reclaiming his soul and banishing his past misdeeds forever.

(Previously published by Amber Quill Press)

Nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Small Press Romance, 2003

The captive story is an old one, with roots in the Greek myth of Persephone in the Underworld, and in reality. Among tribal societies, marriage by capture was not uncommon, a pre-scientific method of enlarging the gene pool. In our own time, the Stockholm Syndrome has been observed, in which hostages begin to identify with their captors. Though “marriage by capture” is no longer practiced, the story still resonates in the female unconscious. At least, I hope it still does, for obvious reasons!

Right now, Rogue’s Hostage is 75% off at Smashwords thru July 31, meaning it’s available for $1.00 rather than the normal $3.99 price. Use coupon code SSW75.

Here’s a short snippet from Jacques’s point of view:

Holding the towel to his shoulder, he walked over and stood by the bed to check on the woman, who was still in a faint. Despite her pallor, he noted that her skin was fine, her nose straight and thin. She had a lower lip just full enough to entice a man to taste it, and a stubborn chin that dared him to try. Under different circumstances…

She was perhaps not as lovely as he’d thought when he first saw her standing in the clearing—her hair, the color of corn silk, shining in the sunlight. Still, she was tall and fair, with slender curves and shapely ankles visible beneath the short skirts of a farm wife.

And now she was a widow. He stared down at the woman and silently vowed to see that no more innocents died today.

The woman gave a soft moan and opened her eyes. When she spotted him, she shrank back against the wall, arms folded defensively across her breast. His gut tightened. He didn’t enjoy terrifying women, but fear should make her easier to control. She had already proven unpredictable.

Terror, stark and vivid, glittered in her eyes. “Who are you?”

“My name is Jacques Corbeau, lieutenant in the army of France. And you are my captive.”

#bookqw deep Rogue

As you can see, Mara isn’t a willing captive.

Enjoy your summer weekend.

Linda