Book Releases

Holding On (Colorado High Country #6) —
The Colorado High Country series returns with Conrad and Kenzie's story.

A hero barely holding on…

Harrison Conrad returned to Scarlet Springs from Nepal, the sole survivor of a freak accident on Mt. Everest. Shattered and grieving for his friends, he vows never to climb again and retreats into a bottle of whiskey—until Kenzie Morgan shows up at his door with a tiny puppy asking for his help. He’s the last person in the world she should ask to foster this little furball. He’s barely capable of managing his own life right now, let alone caring for a helpless, adorable, fluffy puppy. But Conrad has always had a thing for Kenzie with her bright smile and sweet curves. One look into her pleading blue eyes, and he can’t say no.

The woman who won’t let him fall…

Kenzie Morgan’s life went to the dogs years ago. A successful search dog trainer and kennel owner, she gets her fill of adventure volunteering for the Rocky Mountain Search & Rescue Team. The only thing missing from her busy life is love. It’s not easy finding Mr. Right in a small mountain town, especially when she’s unwilling to date climbers. She long ago swore never again to fall for a guy who might one day leave her for a rock. When Conrad returns from a climbing trip haunted by the catastrophe that killed his best friend, Kenzie can see he’s hurting and wants to help. She just might have the perfect way to bring him back to the world of the living. But friendship quickly turns into something more—and now she’s risking her heart to heal his.

In ebook and soon in print!

About Me

My photo
I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.


Seductive Musings

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

Thanks for your friendship and support through this past year. It means the world to me.

I wish each and every one of you a safe and happy New Year!

May your lives will be blessed by health, friendship and abundance in 2009!

With love,
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

To all of you who post, and those who lurk, thanks for your friendship and support! I'm grateful to be able to share my love of reading — and writing — with you!

May each and every one of you have a peaceful and very merry Christmas!

Blessings to you and your families.

All my very best,
Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hanukkah!

חנוכה שמח

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and readers!

May these eight days bring you fun with family and a peaceful year filled with light!

I've always thought Hanukkah was a such a beautiful holiday. What it commemorates is a fight for religious freedom — something we can all appreciate. When my kids were little, we observed Hanukkah even though we're not Jewish because I wanted them to learn the lesson of religious toleration. We still have our menorah, but it's a bit dusty...

Thanks to everyone for your comments on my prior post about book pirating. I really appreciate the support! I've been busy getting ready for Christmas, and that has kept me off the Internet. But I did want to pop in today to thank you all and to recognize the first day of Hanukkah.

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful weekend!
Friday, December 19, 2008

Book pirates

Thanks, everyone, for sharing your Christmas traditions. Not long before Christmas is here! I haven’t decorated anything, or baked a single cookie, or bought a single gift, so I’m going to be busy.

I’ve spent the past several days protecting myself from pirates. Yes, book pirates.

It seems that out there in cyberspace, some people have decided that stealing novels electronically is the thing to do. They have hundreds, if not thousands, of titles available for immediate download by anyone with Internet access. Among the titles of mine that were available was one that hasn’t been converted to e-book format yet, which means that either someone forwarded an electronic ARC — or someone scanned it.

One of the women who was “sharing” books posted on her blog that she didn’t see what was wrong with “sharing” books and that she was tired of getting threatening letters and emails from publishers about copyright infringement and that she would continue to “share” books.

I wrote her a personal email and explained exactly what is wrong with stealing — not sharing — books in this way, and that’s what today’s post is about. This post isn’t directed at the FOPs — that’s Friends of Pamela — because I know they wouldn’t steal anyone’s books. Their respect for authors and for the work that goes into fiction writing is too high, and they’re also wonderful women. This post is directed for the many faceless Internet users out there who are engaged in book piracy.

Let me explain why it’s wrong to share electronic versions of books.

When you download a book off the Internet without paying an authorized bookseller, you deprive the author who wrote that story of money that would otherwise compensate her for the hard work that went into writing that book. You also deprive her of credit for that sale. The publisher won’t count your download toward her sales record. When they go to decide how much to pay the author for her next contract, they’ll pay her less than they might otherwise have done, thanks to you.

Much of the world operates under the misconception that all authors are millionaires. Most aren’t. Most hold jobs and struggle every week to carve out writing time in order to craft the stories that readers enjoy. Taking income from these writers is like stealing food from their refrigerator. Even if the amount of royalties they might have earned from your single download is small, that’s still stealing. Because you’re not the only one stealing, it adds up. But even if all authors were millionaires, stealing from them is still wrong.

The publishing industry doesn’t have a huge profit margin, and right now it’s struggling. Each publishing house employs lots of ordinary, everyday folks whose job it is to edit, lay out, print, box and ship these books. When you pirate books or download them illegally, you hurt not only the author, but these people, too. As more and more people pirate books and download them off the Internet, more and more money is lost, meaning that publishers are faced with printing fewer titles — yes, fewer books — paying authors less, and cutting back on staff. So not only does your illegal file-sharing hurt the author, it hurts a chain of people you don’t know and will never meet whose job it is to prepare these novels that you so enjoy.

It’s illegal. Would you walk into a store and steal stuff? Would you expect to be able to get your groceries, your gas, your clothes for free? Then why do you expect to get books for free? Illegal file-sharing and downloading books for free is just as wrong as stealing something from a store. And, yes, you could get busted. If you’re not clear about what it means to spend time in prison, please read my book Unlawful Contact. Based on four real-life investigations and my own time as a journalist going behind bars, it will highlight some of the more exciting possibilities for you.

It’s immoral. A lot of us live with the attitude that we are entitled to whatever we want. If we want something, that justifies what we do to get it. But we’re not entitled to anything. The world does not exist to meet our every whim and expectation. Wanting something does not justify stealing it. If you want it, earn it. Work for it.

I know as much as anyone how tough it is to make one’s way in the world. As a single mother, I was forced at one point to rely on food stamps and Medicaid for my kids. I know what it’s like to stand in line at the grocery store and have people sneering at you because you’re paying with food stamps. I know what it’s like to struggle to pay rent and utility bills and medical bills. But I didn’t steal to solve my problems. Being poor doesn’t justify stealing. My solution? I worked my behind off.

I still work very hard, both at my day job and as an author. I don’t have television. I rarely go to movies. I rarely go out with friends. Because my dream is writing fiction, I spend every spare minute I have writing stories. And when you pirate my books and share them with people illegally, you spit on that hard work, even while you enjoy the benefits of it.

Yes, your illegal book sharing is wrong and bad and mean. I expect the publishing industry will step up its enforcement as this problem grows. But rather than waiting to get busted, how about you stop it? Take down your sharing sites. Remove the links. And start paying for what you’re taking. If you can’t pay, then check out your library or the local used bookstore.

But don’t steal.

And now back to our regularly scheduled program...
Saturday, December 13, 2008

Christmas traditions

So I imagine everyone is very busy with holiday shopping, baking and decorating. I haven't done a thing yet — nothing. No decorating. No shopping. No baking. Nada. Nix. Nihil.

I've been very busy with a rewrite of Naked Edge, which I'm close to finishing. I'll probably be avoiding the Internet for a few weeks until I'm caught up.

In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your favorite holiday traditions.

At my house, for example, we always have to have an evening of cookie decorating. I make a vanilla refrigerator cookie recipe, which we decorate mostly with butter creme frosting. If I do say so myself, my recipe for frosting rocks. The kids love it. Their friends love it. I learned it from my mom when I was a teenager. I once overheard Benjy telling a friend, "My mom's frosting is so good, you'll make yourself sick eating it."

We also make Christmas fudge, usually a few batches so that we can have a milk chocolate batch, a dark chocolate batch and then a white chocolate or white/milk chocolate swirled batch. Mmmm.

Before I started writing fiction, we'd spend most of a day decorating the house. Then after I started writing, I would only put up a tree on the years the kids were with me. (I alternate holidays with my ex.) And I admit there were a few busy years since 2003 where Christmas seemed an inconvenience because of deadlines. I truly felt irritated to have to set aside writing to celebrate. Deadlines can freak a person out.

But after this year with all that has happened — most particularly two serious car accidents involving my sons — I'm all for slowing down long enough to enjoy the holiday.

So we'll be putting up a real tree this year and decorating the house and doing our cookies and fudge while listening to our favorite Christmas music.

Funny thing about Christmas music... I find that everyone imprints on Christmas music like baby birds on their mama. No matter how stupid it is, the music we listened to as a child tends to be the music that makes Christmas feel like Christmas. Does anyone else find this to be true?

When I was growing up, we listened to Alvin and the Chipmunks and Andy Williams. Even though I might laugh about this and consider both the Chipmunks and Andy Williams to be pure cheese, they still sound like Christmas to me. In fact, when the entire family gets together to open gifts, Andy Williams' "White Christmas" is what's playing. Though I insist I am not an Andy Williams fan, I just downloaded his Christmas CD. Ah, tradition!

Fortunately, we were also raised with Jose Feliciano's "Feliz Navidad," which is near the top of my favorite Christmas songs. It's so full of energy and fun.

To those, I added Nat King Cole's Christmas album, Bruce Cockburn's Christmas, which is beautiful, and Loreena McKennitt's To Drive the Cold Winter Away, which is stunning. This is what my kids have been raised with — in addition to Andy Williams, of course. (If you have time to sample at iTunes, I recommend listening to and downloading Loreena's song "Snow." It's so pretty it makes me teary-eyed!)

Typically, we open gifts on Christmas morning in front of the fireplace and then have a yummy turkey dinner in the afternoon. I love to spend my spare time — not that I have any these days — reading a Christmas romance or anthology. I haven't done this for years, but I really love it when I'm able to.

It really is my favorite holiday — when I give myself permission to celebrate.

So what are your traditions? What are your favorite holiday treats? And what silly Christmas music do you listen to?
Monday, December 01, 2008

So you want to be a camp follower... (Contest!)

First, congratulations to the winners of the previous two contests! Cathy won the Colonial stoneware candle holder from Rogers Island (Ranger Island), and Ellory won the DVD of Last of the Mohicans. I've already heard from Ellory, but not from Cathy.

Cathy, please send your mailing address to my email at [myname] so I can get your prize to you.

If you didn't win, dinnae despair! I've got a couple more contests to go.

Today's contest is no ordinary contest. To win this contest you must be willing to work. Hard. See the "Help Wanted" ad below for details.

Wanted: Camp followers

Must be passing fayre in appearance and be free of sickness with sound teeth and bodye. Will wash and cooke for MacKinnon's companie of Rangers encamped at Fort Elizabeth, seeing to all such needs as are common for soldiers. Pay at one schilling per week. Assemble one week hence at the northern stockade gate for the journye to Fort Elizabeth. Those who hope to receive the King's schilling will be examined by a surgeon for sickness and the & etc.

Now, I know the economy is bad these days, and lots of us are unhappy with our jobs. But before any of you rush off to apply for a job as a camp follower, allow me to tell you what your life will be like.

You will live year round in a canvas tent or, if you're lucky, a small cabin that shares its two side walls with other cabins, standing in a long row.

You will be responsible for making and repairing your own clothing which will includes: a linen shift that also serves as a nightdress, woolen stockings, moccasins, a woolen underpetticoat, a plain linen pocket, a linen petticoat, a linen cap for modesty's sake, a linen short gown, a linen apron, a linen kerchief, and a straw hat if you had one. You would wear these items until they wore out and could not longer be patched, stitched or otherwise repaired.

You will cook each morning, noon and night for one-hundred twenty hungry Rangers: cornmeal mush with salt port, ash cakes, biscuits, and soups and stews made from vegetables grown at the fort, as well as roasted fish, venison, rabbit, goose, duck and such other game as the Rangers provide.

You will wash the Rangers' clothing, stirring it in large, steaming kettles and hanging it to dry in the open air.

You will work in the Kings's garden and grow such vegetables in your own kitchen garden as you can, eating what is left after feeding the men and what you can make for yourself.

You will tend wounded Rangers both at the fort and on the march, tending their smaller hurts.

If the Rangers decamp and march into battle with the army, you will go with them keeping to the rear of the army. You will walk the entire distance, carrying your own belongings and everything you need to serve the men. The wagons are needed for food, weapons, powder, shot and other stores.

And at night, after the Rangers have had their ration of rum, there may be those who visit your tent in search of pleasurable company. It will be up to you to decide whether you'll trade a bit of time in your bed for extra rations or cloth or trinkets from the sutler's store or perhaps even a coin or two.

So, now who wants to be a camp follower and serve MacKinnon's Rangers?

One lucky person will win a one-year membership at the Camp Follower level to the Friends of Rogers Island, the organization that works to protect, fund and research Rogers Island, which is Ranger Island in my books and is where Iain, Morgan, Connor and the other Rangers live. The winner will also received a signed copy of Untamed.


So that there's no confusion, let me clarify. There's no real laundry or whoring involved, or work of any kind for that matter. I was just sharing the life of a Colonial camp follower with y'all. The prize is a membership to The Friends of Rogers Island at the "camp follower" level and a signed copy of Untamed.
Friday, November 28, 2008

History is sexy / Untamed Contest!

How important is historical accuracy to you in historical romance?

It's a question someone asked on an Amazon thread, and it's turned into quite the robust debate, with some readers saying they don't really care about it, while others say they don't respect books that are culturally or historically inaccurate.

It probably comes as no surprise to anyone that I fall into the latter camp. I've always felt that romantic fiction can be as literarily sound as literary fiction in terms of the research, attention to writing and the quality of the stories. So I try very hard to provide all of those things, in addition to a story that focuses on love and romance. You can decide for yourselves whether I succeed at that or not. I also try to be very accurate to the non-European cultures I place in my stories, so that I avoid stereotypes and depict that culture as accurately as possible without coloring it with my own biases and cultural perceptions — not any easy thing to do.

There are some readers who feel there's too much violence or "gore" in my stories, and that's fine. I won't tell anyone what they're supposed to think. The only time I got involved in a discussion about one of my books was a time when someone accused me of being racist for my portrayal of certain Native tribes for burning people alive. It was an absurd accusation because the events were absolutely taken from history and nothing I made up at all. As someone who's reported on Native issues and has Cherokee ancestry, I know that many people view Indians through a romantic lens, lending them "sacred" and "spiritual" qualities that might or might not be there. News flash: Indians are people. But I digress...

I find history sexy. I love to watch documentaries, to read historical diaries and letters, and to do straight-up historical research, because what unfolds in my mind as I do this research are the daily struggles of people who really lived. Their tragedies and triumphs begin to feel real to me and inspire me to tell stories about them. I think of men who trudged league upon league through the forests that once blanketed this continent and I think, "Yum." There's something about the untamed wilderness, and the men and women who were willing to face it, that I find terribly romantic and exciting. It is "stirring to my blood," as Cora says in the movie.

If anyone doubts that history is sexy, she should watch the 1992 film The Last of the Mohicans. I saw the movie when it came out, and I loved it. It describes — in not-so-accurate detail — the battle of Fort William-Henry, which I recently visited. Two strangers are brought together in the wilderness and find themselves in the midst of the battle that led to the destruction of the fort and the massacre of dozens — I'm not sure anyone has an accurate count of how many — of British soldiers and civilians. These victims of war are now interred beneath a parking lot — it's own tragedy. We drove through the site of the massacre on our way to Lake George last month, and it gave me chills.

(Editor's note: The author of this blog has just talked about the need for historical accuracy and is now praising a film which is not historically accurate. Think of this what you will...)

Though the film isn't accurate in its details about the battle and the French and Indian War — there are, for example, still Mohicans, as you will see in my MacKinnon's Rangers series — it gives you a sense of what it was like back then with great attention to costume and weaponry, etc. You get a real feel for the epic scale of everyday life and the struggles for the common person who tried to build a life on the frontier.

Though my MacKinnon's Rangers series and Ride the Fire are not based in any way on this film, it certainly helped to make this period of history one of my favorite by inspiring me to do my own research. It may also account for my decision to mix the Scottish and Indian cultures together in my heroes — something I didn't think about until just this moment. The soundtrack is fantastic, and I write to it all the time while working on a historical novel.

So in honor of that, and as part of my continued celebration of the release of Untamed, the second book in the series, I am giving away a DVD of the film together with the a signed copy of Untamed to one lucky person chosen at random from those who post to this blog. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Today's discussion topic: How important is historical accuracy to you in historical romance? But feel free to comment on the film Last of the Mohicans, as well.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with family, friends and lots of love. Thanks for your friendship and support!

All my best,
Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Untamed is out!

Finally, finally, Untamed is out! It's been a long time since March 2006 when Surrender first introduced you to Iain, Morgan, Connor and the Rangers. And, believe me, sometimes it felt like I would never get the time to finish Morgan's story. But here we are. I hope you'll feel the story was worth the wait.

To celebrate, I am giving away a very special prize: a Colonial-style stoneware candleholder that I brought back from Rogers Island itself. That's Ranger Island for those of you know know the series. The Rogers Island Visitor Center stands probably a half a football field away from the site of the Ranger encampment, where Iain, Morgan, Connor and their men lived in wee cabins while not on scouting missions for the British. So this is a prize from Ranger Country.

The candle holder looks a lot like this but with a little loop for your finger.

And it comes with a signed copy of Untamed.

All you have to do is post a comment to this blog to be entered for the drawing.

But before go any further, I want to announce the winner of this weekend's contest: EVA won a signed copy of Untamed! Congrats, Eva! Email your snail address to [my name], and I'll get it in the mail to you!

If you're new to my blog, you'll find lots of excerpts from Untamed below and in the archives, together with extras from my trip to New York to the sites where the story is set. My website has downloadable wallpaper and "The Ballad of Morgan MacKinnon," which Dougie wrote in honor of Morgan.

Later this week we'll be giving away other prizes, including year-long memberships to The Friends of Rogers Island at the "camp follower" level, a copy of The Last of the Mohicans director's cut and so on...

So, tell me, if you've read either of the books in this series, did you like seeing Highlanders in the New World? If you haven't read the books yet, what interests you about about?
Saturday, November 22, 2008

Contest / Excerpt from Untamed

My author copies arrived last week. You all know what that means! I want to give books and other goodies away!

Post to this blog and have your name entered for a signed copy of Untamed! That's it. That's all you have to do.

Plus, everyone who posts will receive the special commemorative Untamed wallpaper made specially by Jenn J. I won't post it, but I guarantee that you will love it!

Next week the giveaways will include:

* More signed copies of the book
* A Colonial stoneware candlestick that I brought back from Rogers Island (Ranger Island) — yes, from the island itself!
* A copy of the film The Last of the Mohicans
* A copy of the documentary The War that Made America about the French and Indian war (one my favorites)
* And a few memberships to the The Friends of Rogers Island at the "camp follower" level. If you truly love those Rangers and are willing to do anything for them, this is the prize for you! I myself joined as a "camp follower." Can you blame me?

And because I love to torture you, I'm sharing a bit more of the story below. I posted this at RBL Romantica, intending to post it only for them, but I love this scene so much that I just had to share it here, too.


From Untamed...

“Wh-what are you doing?” Even as she asked the question, Amalie could see very well what Morgan was doing.

Wearing only his drawers, he sat at Bourlamaque’s writing table reading private correspondence by the light of the hall candle. And yet how could he, for he did not speak French. Unless…

“Non!” The word was a plea. She could not believe it, did not want to believe it. And, yet, the truth was there before her eyes.

The man she loved was a traitor.

Something shattered inside her chest, leaving her staggered, the pain of it almost unbearable. Blood rushed into her head, panic making her heart trip, her tongue stilled by shock, the drone of her pulse drowning out the silence.

“Go back to bed, Amalie.” His voice was hard, his hands quick as he stowed the letters away, clearly familiar with the contents of Bourlamaque’s writing table.

As if he’d done this many times before.

Candle in hand, he walked around the writing table toward her, his gaze hard upon her like that of some wild animal measuring its prey.

Her heart thudding against her ribs, she took a step backward into the hallway, then another and another, watching as if under some spell as he followed her, soundlessly shutting the door to Bourlamaque’s study and setting the flickering candle back on the console, his expression inscrutable.

Then she turned — and ran.

But she’d taken only a step or two when he caught her, one strong arm capturing her beneath her breasts and drawing her hard against his chest, a big hand covering her mouth, trapping her scream. Lifted off her feet, she kicked and thrashed as he carried her down the hallway to his room and shut the door behind them.

But he did not release her. Instead, he held her tighter, pressing his lips to her ear, his voice an angry whisper. “Quit your strugglin’ afore you harm yourself!”

But his words only inflamed her rage, and she fought harder, kicking, clawing, biting at the hand that covered her mouth. To think she had kissed him! To think she had let him touch her! To think she had loved him!

“Ouch, for Satan!”

She tasted blood—then found herself thrown roughly onto the bed and pinned beneath him, her arms stretched over her head, both of her wrists held captive in one of his big hands, the weight of his body holding her unmoving.

A stranger, the enemy once more, he glared down at her. “You should have kept to your own bed, lass. Now what shall I do wi’ you?”

But the pain in her chest was such that she did not hear the warning in his voice. “Bourlamaque gave you sanctuary, and you betrayed him! You betrayed me!”

“Aye, I deceived Bourlamaque, and I’ll regret it to the end of my days. But long afore I pledged my loyalty to him, I made another oath—to my brothers and my men! Would you have me break that vow and become a betrayer and slayer of my own kin? As you loved your father, so I love them!”

She heard his words, felt the conflict within him, but was too hurt, too outraged to care, hot tears pricking her eyes. “Then it was lies, all of it—your being forced to serve the British, your hatred for your commander, your admiration for Monsieur de Bourlamaque!”

“Nay, it was the truth, every word!” His brow was furrowed, his breath hot on her face. “I would much rather serve Bourlamaque than that bastard Wentworth, but I cannae forsake my brothers or the Rangers! I told Bourlamaque this when I lay in chains, but he chose to forget. He allowed himself to be deceived!”

“And what of your feelings for me?” The question was almost too painful to ask. “Have I let myself be deceived, as well?”

She should have known what was coming from the way his eyes darkened, but when his mouth claimed hers it took her by surprise.

It was a brutal kiss, rough and forceful, his lips pressing hard against hers, his tongue demanding entry, his body grinding over hers. She ought to have been furious, ought to have found his touch revolting, ought to have turned her head away, fought him, kicked. Instead, she felt a desperate surge of desire.

Never had she hated anyone as she hated him—Traitor! Deceiver!—and yet never had his kisses affected her so. Anger, carnal need, love—she could not tell where one emotion ended and the next began. She arched against him, returning his ferocity with her own, nipping his lips, biting down on his tongue, fighting to take control of the kiss from him. And yet even as she fought him, even as he freed her wrists, her body surrendered. Hands that should have struck him slid eagerly over the smooth skin and muscle of his chest, caressed the hard curve of his shoulders, fisted themselves in his thick hair—and she knew the battle was lost.

Morgan gave Amalie no quarter. Once again, she held his fate in her hands, a word from her enough to send him off to be roasted by the Abenaki. She had defied him, leaving her bed to seek his, uncovering his treason. But it was bed play she’d sought from him, and so, by God, she would have it!

He bared her breasts to his roving hands and hungry mouth, teasing and tasting her until she writhed. Then he drew up her nightgown in urgent fistfuls, forced her thighs apart, and began to press deep circles against her sex, his fingers delving down to tease her virgin entrance. She was already wet, proof of her need for him gathering like dew on his fingertips, her musky scent bidding him take her, her frantic whimpers driving him mad.

Never had Morgan forced himself on a woman, but his mother’s Viking blood burned in him now, ruthless and hot, urging him to claim Amalie without ceremony, to mark her in the most primal way a man could, to satisfy himself with her sweet body again and again, with or without her consent.

With a growl that sounded more animal than human even to his own ears, he shifted his mouth from one velvety nipple to the other, suckling her without mercy, his hand unrelenting. Then, ignoring her startled gasp, he slid one finger inside her, testing her maidenhead, stretching her, stroking that part of her no man had touched—and she shattered.

He captured her cry with a kiss, took her breath into his lungs, his hand keeping up the rhythm until her pleasure was spent, her slick inner muscles clenching tightly around his finger, making him wish for all the world it was his cock inside her.

And that was how Bourlamaque found them—Morgan on top of Amalie, her breasts bared, her head thrown back in ecstasy as she found release.

“What in the name of the Devil is happening here?” Bourlamaque’s voice filled the room like thunder.

Amalie shrieked, struggling to cover herself.

Instinctively, Morgan shielded her from the old man’s view, helping her to draw her nightgown over her shoulders. “Easy, lass. We’ll soon sort this out.”

But Morgan knew nothing could be further from the truth. Not only was Amalie facing Bourlamaque’s wrath, but she was also carrying a terrible secret, which, if revealed, would lead Morgan to his death.
Friday, November 21, 2008

An Interview with Nicholas Kenleigh (w/ 2nd update)

Today we hear from Nicholas Kenleigh, my hero from Ride the Fire. For very personal reasons, Ride the Fire remains very special to me. I don’t know that I can say it’s my favorite book, because that’s like being asked to choose which is my favorite child. But I do know that I’ve never felt as satisfied — or as devastated — when I finished a book as I did when I finished this one. When I finished writing, I started sobbing and cried for six weeks!

This book was the first that was written and published with no interference. The last book (to date) in the Kenleigh-Blakewell Family trilogy, it’s very historical, in that I used real soldiers’ diaries from Fort Pitt to recreate the siege of Fort Pitt that took place during the summer of 1763. And it’s on Kristie J’s all-time favorite romance novel list, which means a lot to me!

A warning to those of you who haven’t read this story: you might run into spoilers.

Without further ado, I give you Nicholas Kenleigh:

Q: Nicholas, you’re one of my all-time favorite heroes, partly because what you went through was so terrible. Are your dreams still haunted by what happened to Eben and Josiah?

I speak little of this, for it brings back my darkest hours. Aye, at times I can hear them screaming and cursing my name, though the dreams are few and far between. When I awake, I find Bethie beside me. Were it not for her love…

I will always wonder if I there was something I have said or done to save them. Could I have warned them of the peril sooner and kept them from being taken? Should I have attempted escape? Should I have slain them in their sleep?

I cannot fathom why Providence spared me and not them, yet I find some peace in believing that I survived so that I might one day find Bethie and be there for her at her time of greatest need. Had I not come across her when I did, Belle most certainly would have perished at birth and perhaps Bethie with her.

Father Owen, the priest my nephew, Jamie, brought from England, says that Eben and Josiah, who died innocent and in so horrible a fashion, were brought straight to the gates of Heaven and know now that I did not forsake them but sought with all my strength to spare them. I am not Catholic, but I pray with all my heart that what he says is true. If I could have died that day — not knowing what lay ahead of me — I would have gladly leapt into the flames to spare them.

I can speak of this no more.

Q: During your long years living in the forest, did you ever imagine you would return home again, take a wife or have children?

[Laughs] Nay. I wanted only to die. I never dreamed nor even hoped to return to my family. I kept chasing death, but it kept evading me. It wasn’t until I had reached Philadelphia and could not bring myself to leave Bethie that I began to consider returning home to Virginia.

Q: Have you forgiven yourself for turning your back on your mother and riding away?

She has forgiven me, and that is enough.

Q: What do you to do try to make up for the time you lost with your parents, your brothers and your sisters and nieces and nephews.

I strive ever to be of service to them, to withhold from them no aid nor any affection that is within my power to give.

Q: What is your favorite season and why?

I love autumn when the harvest is in and the hard labors of spring and summer give way to feasting and celebration. ’Tis a joy to sit before the fire with the larder full, a tankard of cider in one’s hand, and my lovely wife at my side. There is no greater blessing in life than that.

Q: What did you do with the necklace Atsan gave you? Do you know what became of him? Do you think of him?

Atsan and I reached a peace man to man before I left Fort Pitt. We each took lives; we each did what we had to do. He saw, as I did, that there was no future for his people if they did not learn to live with Europeans, but I do not think that peace was in his heart. I do not know what became of him, nor do I think of him except when my mind turns to the past. You ask about the talisman? That I gave to Takotah. For her, it holds strong medicine. For me, it holds only sorrowful memories of a past I have left long behind.

Q: Do you ever miss the frontier and want to visit the wilderness again?

[Laughs] Nay! Are you quite daft? I’ve had quite enough of the frontier to last me till the end of my days. I love the forest, but there is forest aplenty on my own lands. I doubt not but that Bethie much prefers civilization and its comforts to the rough-hewn life of the frontier. Wherever she is content, I am also.

Q: What do you think of the way you got your name?

[Smiles] ’Tis a bit strange is it not? I'm named after a convict whose place my father took after he was beaten and spirited away on a ship bound for the Colonies. I never understood the tales my mother and father told me of the time they fell in love and were married until after I'd met Bethie and understood what love was. Why my mother chose that name, I cannot say for certain, though I think it must represent to her the man my father was when she fell in love with him.


Mistress Kristie — I thank you for all you have done on my behalf. I hear that you are the most generous and kind of women. You are right that the thought of being bound and held against my will in such a fashion is repugnant to me. When I awoke tied to Bethie's bed, the panic it ignited inside me... I did not know her then. But when I offered myself to her later at Fort Pitt... ’Tis the truth that I understood Bethie's fears better than she knew, and so I knew what I could do to lessen them. And somehow giving myself to her by my own choice and helping her to heal also healed me.


Mistress Stephanie — Or do you prefer "mademoiselle"? I felt such joy at being home again and having my bride beside me that the confusion of so many new faces troubled me little. Still, I must admit that each sister- or brother-by-marriage I did not know, each nephew and niece, served to remind me of what i'd lost in my exile. To pick up a child and see your brother or sisters eyes and smile on his little face but to be a stranger to him... Aye, ’twas the price I paid for my selfishness. And yet I cannot condemn myself for having left. Though I regret the hurt it caused my mother and Elizabeth, who blamed herself, I would not have found Bethie, would not have been there at Belle's birth, would not have my own precious children, had I not. ’Tis enough to make one wonder what your countryman Candide truly thought of such matters. Is this the best of all possible worlds? I am content in my life, blessed with a wife and children whom I hold dearer than life itself.

You ask about my hair. ’Tis a matter of great debate still. Although Bethie cuts it at time to keep it from becoming too long, my hair is still as it was she met me — much to my father's consternation.


Feel free to jump in and ask Nicholas additional questions.

Only four days till Untamed is released!

Next up: The MacKinnon brothers. Due to the nature of your questions and the fact that they all think they have something to say, we're going to have to interview them as a group. I hope you don't mind.

And contests galore!
Monday, November 17, 2008

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3

Why is she inflicting this on us again? You might well ask yourself that question.

I'm just trying to see if it works...

So if you've seen these and want to skip them, I understand. I'm trying to get a version of the slideshow that I can put up on my Web site, and it's been a bit tricky.
Sunday, November 16, 2008

An Interview with Jamie Blakewell (w/update)

Here's the downloadable wallpaper that you can get off my Web site. You might be able to download it here, too, if you click on it. Not sure...

Thanks, Jenn!

So now we return to interviews with our heroes. Today we speak with Jamie Blakewell, the hero from Carnal Gift. You gave me the questions, and I passed them along to him. If you have anything you'd like to discuss with him, go ahead an post additional questions or statements and I'll make sure he gets them.

Without further ado...

An Interview with Jamie Blakewell

Q: What did you think when you realized that Sheff was giving you an innocent woman as a sexual gift?

At first, I could not believe that he would do such a thing. One hears stories, of course, of lords who use the maids of their households in such a fashion, but one hopes such tales are merely that — stories told to horrify and amuse. Of course, I was enraged for her sake, enraged that he could take a young and innocent woman from her kin and give her over to a stranger to be used so cruelly. I thank Providence that I was his guest that not, and not another.

Q: Did Sheff show any sign of the cruel man he would become when you were both studying at Oxford?

He was never a man to show pity for the sorrows of others. His compassion was given to those most like him — nobility, gentry and his friends. He debauched more than his share of young maids in that time, earning my disapprobation on that account. But he did not yet have the & etc., which later destroyed his mind, giving him over to his basest, most cruel nature. He was my friend but because of Bríghid, he became my greatest enemy.

Q: Jamie, do you have a hard time reigning in Brígid’s Irish temper even after several years of wedded bliss? And did the children inherit it and or their mother’s Irish Accent?

Aye, my wife has a temper, but she does not show it often. When she does, I know just the way to soothe her.

Those months in Ireland were long and hard. She feared for her brothers and for herself. So much was uncertain and ever obstacle against them. We’ve three sons — Ciarán, Nicholas, and Seamus — and two little girls — Maura and Catriona — all with my wife’s dark hair. The girls have their mother’s temper and are the very likeness of her. Ciarán, I fear, has his Uncle Ruaidhrí’s temper, while Nicholas much resembles his mild-mannered Uncle Fionn, and Seamus, the youngest and my namesake, takes after his father. My wife is young yet, so there will surely be more children.

Q: Was there ever a moment that you questioned, even if only for a moment, whether or not it was truly worth converting your religion just to be with Bríghid?

Nay. Once I realized that I loved her, I never doubted that a life with Bríghid would be worth any sacrifice or travail. I worried only what consequence there might be for my family. But Virginia is far removed from the Penal Laws of Britain, and though there are many who disdain Catholics, few would dare to say so to my face, given my family’s standing. If becoming Catholic made it possible for me to take Bríghid to wife, then I was willing to become the Pope’s most loyal subject.

Q: Does your family accept your new faith and your wife?

’Tis a family tradition to marry outside the confines set by society. Alec, my brother-by-marriage, took Cassie, my sister, to wife, though she, as the daughter of a middling plantation owner and not a wealthy one, was not, as the wags of London no doubt discussed at length, of his “quality.” To be sure, my marriage to Bríghid is more unconventional than his to Cassie, and certainly the question of religion is at the heart of it. But I would not allow my new faith to become my hindrance, nor would my family stand to see me suffer on that account. They have accepted me and my wife — and my wife’s family — with open arms.


Stef had some questions for you, Jamie. She lives in France.

Should i answer in French?

Er... Nay, English will suffice (thank goodness!)

Aye, I see that. ’Twas hard for Bríghid and her brother to leave their homeland. There is no place in the world like Ireland. We've not been back. ’Twas too treacherous at first, with the matter of Sheff's death and the fire hanging over us, and then Bríghid was with child. Though she wishes to see Eire again, I'll not risk her nor any one of our children on that perilous voyage. When the little ones are older, we shall make the long voyage so that they can see the land where their ancestors once reigned as kings. Bríghid speaks only Gaelic to them, so they know the language. With Fionn and Muirin nearby, they are able to share tales of the home they all miss. And then there's the music — Irish music that all of us have come to love. So although I know my wife is homesick, she also has a home she has come to love and kin when grows weary of her Sassanach husband.
Saturday, November 15, 2008

A Visit To Ranger Country — The Movie

We interrupt these hero interviews to bring you a short video look at Ranger Country.

My son, Ben, a film major at Ithaca College in NY, took a little hand-held cam-corder and did some "guerilla filmmaking" of the places we visited. He got very caught up in what we were seeing as well, so there wasn't a lot of footage in the end. We had intended to do a mini-documentary. But we didn't have enough time and Ben wouldn't have been able to enjoy himself.

So this is some edited footage set with a truly Benjy soundtrack. Enjoy! And watch till the end...

That's me without coffee!

Also, please forgive the truly hideous boat hair. You'll see what I mean.

If you want to see/learn more, find my Travel Diaries here in the archives.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Interview with Alec Kenleigh (w/ update)

We've less than two weeks before Untamed is released. I am so excited to have a second book to share with you this year. If only my author copies would arrive... I want to hold my new baby!

To pass the time between now and then, I invited some men — some very sexy alpha males, in fact — to stop by for quick interviews. You gave me the questions. They provided the answers. Up first, is Alec Kenleigh, the hero in my very first book, Sweet Release.

I spent seven years writing that book and spent more time with Alec than any one of my heroes. Naturally, it was wonderful to spend time with him again.

I've tried to avoid spoilers that might ruin the story for those of you who haven't read it yet. Still, I might have missed something...

Q: How did you really feel the very first time you saw Cassie?

A: I confess that the first time I saw her, I had just grabbed her ’round the throat and threatened to break her neck. Aye, ’tis the truth, though I lived to regret it! I’d been spirited from England and did not know whom to blame for my misfortune. When I awoke, I thought the young woman who’d come to tend me was part of the plot. ’Twas long ere I learnt the truth of the matter. But, though I at first thought her my foe and intended only to bend her to my will, it did not escape me that she was also quite lovely. I’ve always loved her hair.

Q: Did it bother you that she was your owner, or was there a deep part of you that liked the idea immensely?

A: ’Tis beneath any man’s dignity to be owned by another. It matters not whether the one who holds the chains is a man or a woman. That being so, I must confess that at times I found it almost… pleasurable… to be bound to her service. I say, are you certain this question is quite proper?

Q: You were brought to the Colonies against your will. How did it come to feel like home to you? Didn’t you miss England?

A: I was born the eldest son of a ship-building family and raised, as all eldest sons must, to follow my father. I attended the best schools, studied under the most learned tutors, but there was little time for joy in my life. ’Twas only after fate took me from England and carried me to Virginia that I came to see how stale that life had grown for me.

At first, I thought of nothing but returning home. Then, when at last my name had been restored, I found I no longer wished to do so, for compared to the cold, gray streets of London, Virginia was Eden. I do miss England, of course, but my wife is contented here. Her happiness is my greatest pleasure.

Of course, there are certain luxuries and refinements once cannot expect here, however that is quickly changing. I dare say our humble Colony is becoming more like the English countryside every day.

Q: When you learned who was behind your being kidnapped and sent to the Americas, how did you feel?

A: My grief was great, my guilt greater still. And yet had I not been beaten and spirited to these shores, I should never have met my wife. Out of my greatest trial has come my life’s great happiness — my beloved Cassie, our seven children, and our grandchildren.

Q: How did you make it through the six, or almost seven, years that Nicholas, your eldest on, was missing?

A: When we were told that he had perished… I’ve never known grief greater than believing I’d lost my eldest son. Worse even than my own anguish was watching my beloved wife suffer. Then, Nicholas came back to us, as one raised from the dead. But he was not as he had been, and we lost him again. Nearly seven long years had passed ere he returned to us, and I watched Cassie cling to hope, even when hope itself had become burdensome, her loss so great that a part of me wanted to curse my son, whom I believed dead. When against all hope he returned to us, whole and alive, I could have asked for no greater blessing. I shall never forget what — or shall I say who — brought him back to us. ’Twas Providence — and the love of our sweet Bethie, who is as a daughter to me and who can ask nothing of me that I would not give.


Feel free to jump in with additional questions for Alec. He'll answer them throughout the day as he is able. Running a large plantation and shipping company keeps him rather busy, even with all the modern conveniences that Virginia has to offer in 1764, as I'm sure you can imagine.


Okay, so Lucy requested a bit more. I sat down with Alec over lunch and have this to share with you:

Miss Lucy wants to know what you’ve been up to lately.

What I’ve “been up to?” ’Tis a most curious expression…

She’s from New South Wales. They have lots of curious expressions.

New South Wales? Where, pray tell, is that? She's Welsh, you say?

You’ll know in a few years… Can you fill her in?

Fill her in? I beg your pardon… Is that an idiom for something improper? As you know, I am a happily married man whose bed is kept warm by a wife he loves. I’ve no need to stray.

That’s not what that means. Let me rephrase the question: Can you tell us how you’ve spent your days of late?

As I am loyal to King and Country, so my mind has been troubled. The war has ended and peace returned to this land, and yet frontier families remain in peril, a plight I should know little of were it not for my son and his wife, whose travails were the worst that can be imagined. By the Grace of God they live, and yet Parliament in London has little thought to spare for those they consider rustics, the detritus of their nation from whom, they believe, it was best they were parted.

Our House of Burgesses cannot safeguard the entire frontier, and yet their appeals to Parliament go unheard. Meanwhile, Parliament for its part seeks to govern these colonies as if the House of Burgesses did not exist! If the Colonies are to be government from London, then they must be allowed to have representatives in the House of Commons.

I have written to my dear and true friend, William Pitt, whose sympathies have been to Colonists’ benefit. I believe he understands the desire of Colonists to have representation, and yet, he is but one voice. I fear that if London and the Colonies cannot find accord on this matter that the bonds of affection might grow strained. I should not like to see divisions grow between us.

But I'm afraid I grow wearisome. Ladies find politics dreadfully dull.
Saturday, November 08, 2008

New book vs. re-issues

Hmmm, have you read this book before?

Hey, all —

I just got an e-mail from a reader who was less than happy after having picked up Surrender, thinking it was a new book, only to realize that she'd read it before. D'oh!


Those of you who are new to this blog, please take note that Sweet Release (2003), Carnal Gift (2004), Ride the Fire (2005) and Surrender (2006) are reprints — re-issues of my backlist. If you need to read about them to see whether you've read them (or even care to), please go to my Web site and check out excerpts.

The new books for 2008 are Unlawful Contact (April) and Untamed (Nov. 25).

I've been very clear about this here, on my blog, as well as on my Web site and in my communication on the fan loop and in my newsletter. These are re-releases! But if someone isn't tapped into to that information, they might walk into a bookstore, see the book and mistake it for a new title. I feel very bad when that happens, but I'm not sure what to do about it, other than
post this information.

So there you go.

Only 16 days till Untamed comes out!

Here's a quick overview of the immediate future:

* There are a number of contests coming up. Prizes include:
* Signed copies of Surrender and Untamed
* A stoneware candlestick holder from ROGERS ISLAND (Ranger Island)
* A chance to get it on with the Rangers as a real, bona fide CAMP FOLLOWER
* Interviews with Alec, Jamie, Nicholas, Iain and finally Morgan MacKinnon

And some excerpt from Naked Edge...

Also, my website has been updated with downloadable wallpaper from UNTAMED,
as well as some reviews, including the starred review it received from
Publishers Weekly. (I'll post that in a minute...)

We'll have a "special edition Untamed wallpaper" for the book's release day.
It's secret and special. ;-)

Have a great rest of your weekend, everyone!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Contest winners / Surrender's sexy Spanish cover

I loved this cover!

Just a quickie..

I wanted to pop in and announce some winners. I few posts down, I announced a contest for lurkers, first-time posters or I-Team fans who've never read one of my historicals. The prize? A signed copy of one of my historicals, with an Untamed bookmark tossed in for good measure. And the winners are...

Tracy, Ann, Leslie, Kathy and Judy!

Congrats, ladies! I'll get your prizes in the mail this next week. I hope you enjoy the stories! And I hope you'll de-lurk and join us on a regular basis.

I also wanted to share the Spanish cover of Surrender. Oh, how I wish this had been the cover on the original release of the book in 2006! I wish it were the cover on the reissue. Yummy! The title, Rendición, actually means something like "surrender" in Spanish.

I can honestly say that if I ran into this man in the wilds of 18th-century Upstate New York, I would surrender without a fight... unless the fight made surrendering more fun.
Thursday, October 30, 2008

Big-Boned Romantic Suspense!

What you're looking at here, my friends, is the cover of Extreme Exposure's Japanese translation, the title of which, according to Google Translate, is "Carla the price of investigative journalism." Not sure who Carla is...

I came across this while trying to find Japanese text about the book and a an image of the cover for an update of my Web site. I found it so funny that I had to share. Google's translate function only goes so far. So let's see if you recognize Extreme Exposure in this description and review of the story...


Japan's first landing due to the attention of the writers of the romance, suspense erotic and thrilling non-stop!
Denver investigative reporter for The Independent newspaper in the cala a 4-year-old single mother raising her son. Busy busy everyday, and not a private good as her, a night with my colleagues in the force was below leasing in the bar and run into a handsome senator. However, Casanova is the lowest I was under the impression that his true face, was a surprise. That, and a factory on the outskirts of illegal disposal of contaminated materials have been舞IKOMU whistle-blower information. Police will be on the black giant, also involving political intrigue. Carla lease sway in the relationship with the enthusiasm of魔手creeping closer to the truth .... The first series of investigative reporter!


The author of the original only in the press, newspapers full of realism and the atmosphere of the real scene investigation perfect score! ... Handsome and gentle and strong as unrealistic, but a perfect hero, the romance is more like a description of the continuous pounding,羨MASHIKU really was a heroine. . . Read a pretty hot love scene to be the first time in many years is a big-boned romantic suspense!

The good thing is that I think the reviewer really liked it.

Now, for those of you who haven't read the story, let me assure you that Kara (not Carla or cara) is not 4. It's her son, Connor, who's 4. There is no black giant. And though the phrase "continuous pounding" might be intended as a description of a person's heartbeat while reading the story, it doesn't refer to the sexual content. Yes, there is some pounding, but it's not continuous because there's this investigation and political intrigue going on. As for "big bones," well... I'll leave that to your imagination!

Seriously, the book looks really cool in Japanese, and I'm sure the translator did a spectacular job. Google Translate, however, leaves something to be desired!
Monday, October 27, 2008

Starred review in Publishers Weekly

Just a quick post to let you know that I just got some really fantastic news! Publishers Weekly, the big publishing trade magazine, gave Untamed a starred review!

Here's what they had to say:

Untamed Pamela Clare. Leisure, $7.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-8439-5489-0
The captivating sequel to 2006’s Surrender continues the tale of the MacKinnon clan, Scots forced to fight for the British in the 18th-century French and Indian Wars. The French score a major coup when they capture notorious ranger Morgan MacKinnon, best known for destroying an Abenaki village after learning that the tribe’s warriors were scalping women and children. Brigadier de Bourlamaque plans on handing MacKinnon over to the Abenaki, who promise to torture him mercilessly, unless he betrays his comrades. MacKinnon despairs, but Bourlamaque’s ward, Amalie Chauvenet, captures his heart and persuades him to spy for the French against the English. Clare’s detailed attention to the history of alliances forged and battles fought near Fort Ticonderoga adds authenticity, and the characters evolve and change with a realism that readers will love. (Dec.)

I'm so glad that they appreciated the history in the story. I work very hard to weave it into the romance, so this means a lot to me!

I hope everyone is having a great (safe) day.
Saturday, October 25, 2008

Excerpt from Untamed / Contest

One month from today, Untamed will be on bookstore shelves!

I am so excited to share Book II of the MacKinnon's Rangers series with you all. I know you've waited a long time for Morgan's story. I hope you'll feel it was worth the wait.

To celebrate the impending release of the book, I thought I'd share this very special excerpt, something that's been in my mind for a week now since my visit to the "18th Century" on the eastern shore of Lake George.

From Untamed...

By the time they reached the campsite, the sun was low in the sky, and Amalie felt grubbier and hungrier than she could ever remember feeling. Joseph was waiting for them, crouching near a cook fire and turning something over the flames, his back to them, the scent of roasting meat making Amalie’s mouth water. Without looking over his shoulder, he spoke to Morgan, and Morgan answered, both of them using words Amalie didn’t understand.

It had been a long day and hard. Though she missed Morgan’s men — she’d grown fond of them and enjoyed their teasing banter — she’d been grateful for the slower pace. Morgan had helped her when she’d needed it, offering her his hand when the ground became steep or rocky, carrying her through deep marshes. And as she’d watched him pick a safe path for her, he’d seemed both alert to danger and utterly at ease in the wildness of the forest. And she’d realized that she was seeing him for the first time as he truly was — not just the gentleman and soldier she’d known at the fort, but Morgan MacKinnon, the Ranger of legend.

She glanced about and saw that they stood in the midst of a small clearing not far from a little river. The river, its banks verdant with ferns and blue forget-me-nots, tumbled down the rocky hillside in three small waterfalls before flowing off through the trees. All around them stood thick forest, primordial and dark. Her dream still in her mind, she shivered.

Chuckling with Joseph over some shared jest, Morgan grinned down at her, his arm sliding about her waist, two days’ growth of stubble and long, unbound hair giving him a rakish appearance. “Joseph has been busy.”

And, indeed, he had.

Not far from the fire stood a lean-to just like the one she’d slept in last night, but spread upon the pine boughs was a thick bearskin, its black fur gleaming. In the middle of the fur sat a small pile of what was unmistakably women’s garments — a gown of dark blue, ivory petticoats, and a clean, white chemise.

“Oh, merci!” She looked up at Joseph, who smiled. “Thank you, monsieur! Wherever did you find them?”

“Thank him.” Joseph nodded toward Morgan, his dark eyes warm. “He’s the one who gave up a good hunting knife. One of my men traded for them before we left Fort Elizabeth, hoping to surprise his wife.”

Morgan dropped his tumpline pack on the ground near the lean-to, unbound it, and drew out a long knife in its leather sheath. Then he handed it to Joseph. “Tell Daniel I wish him luck both on the hunt and in battle. And thank you.”

Joseph met Morgan’s gaze. “My brother who was dead has returned. I would do anything for him and his woman.”

His woman.

The words made something catch in Amalie’s belly, and she wished they were true. But this marriage had been forced upon Morgan and was still incomplete. Clearly, he cared for her and desired her, but did he truly want her for his wife?

If there were any way for me to stay wi’ you, I would. You are all a man could hope for in a wife, all a man could desire.

She remembered his words — and dared to hope.

Joseph ducked down, gave her a kiss on the cheek, then, with a nod to Morgan, he turned and strode into the forest.

“He is not staying with us?” she asked, as he vanished from sight.

“He has to see to his men.” Morgan sat before the fire, drawing her down beside him. “Sit and eat, lass. Joseph has a feast set out for us.”

Compared to the parched cornmeal she’d nibbled at since breakfast, it was a feast—roasted turkey, field greens, and tart wild raspberries. But there were no plates, no silverware, no serviettes. How were they supposed to—

“Like this.” Morgan grinned, shifting the wooden spit so that it no longer sat directly over the open flames. Then he took his penknife, cut off a strip of roasted breast meat and held it to her lips.

Amalie opened her mouth, took the succulent meat onto her tongue, and almost moaned at the savory taste.

“Now you feed me.”

Amalie rose to her knees, leaned in, and, using the penknife Brandon had given her, cut off a slice of meat, then brought it to his lips. He took her wrist and held it as he nipped the meat from between her fingers. Then he licked the juices from her fingers one by one, his gaze locked with hers, his tongue hot and quick.

Memories of that tongue licking other parts of her sent blood rushing into her cheeks and made her insides feel quivery. It was only two nights ago when he’d tasted not just her fingers, but her throat and breasts, as well, suckling her until she’d gone almost mad from the pleasure of it. Was he remembering the same thing?

Morgan watched her eyes darken and knew she still felt at least some desire for him. Despite Rillieux’s cruelty, she did not fear a man’s touch as some women did in the aftermath of such violence. Still, Morgan would not rush her. When he at last made love to her, he wanted her to want it as much as he did, wanted her to enjoy it as much as he did.

He cut off another strip of breast. “For you.”

Feasting with their fingers, they fed each other sliver upon sliver of rich, tasty meat, then turned to the greens and, last of all, the berries, Morgan following each sweet bite with a kiss, until one appetite was satisfied—and another was roused.

But it wasn’t time for that. Not yet. First he must woo her beyond shyness, beyond fear.

“Come.” Morgan stood, drew Amalie to her feet with one hand, grabbed his tumpline pack with the other. “It’s time for your bath.”

“My bath?” Her gaze flitted toward the creek.

“Aye, your bath.” He took her hand and led her up the hillside, over the ramble of rocks toward the middle waterfall. It hid a secret he and his men had discovered two summers past on their way back from a scout — a secret they’d kept carefully guarded.

“Watch your step. The stone is quite slidey when it’s wet.”

He led her behind the waterfall along a wide ledge where the rushing waters of the freshet had through the ages gouged out a row of deep pools in the stone. Once the freshet had passed each June and the waters had receded, the pools, filled with fresh river water, offered tadpoles a place to hatch and grow into frogs — and weary Rangers a place to bathe and ease their aches.

And now their waters would soothe Amalie’s hurts, washing away the day’s grime and the memory of Rillieux’s touch. She hadn’t said anything, hadn’t complained at all, but he knew she must feel it — the lingering taint of near-rape.

He dropped his pack onto dry stone beside the pools. “What do you think?”

“It is… enchanté!” She glanced back and forth between the pools and the waterfall and smiled, a smile of pure joy. Then she stretched out her hand, the tips of her fingers piercing the silver curtain of falling water, her laughter like music.

“Aye, I thought so, too, the first time I saw it—a place of magic. The water in the pools is warm. Feel it.”

She knelt down, trailed her fingers across the water’s surface, a look of surprised wonder spreading across her face. “But how can this be?”

“During the day, the sun warms the stone, and the stone heats the water.”

She smiled up at him. “Such a wondrous thing!”

Morgan knelt down beside her, dug in his pack for the soap and her comb, and set them down at the edge of the deepest pool. “Whenever we come this way, I reward the bravest among my men with the chance to wash away the grime of battle. But tonight, ’tis yours to enjoy in peace.”

She stood, her smile gone, her gaze shifting to the forest.

He knew what haunted her. He stood, grasped the folds of the blanket she held about her shoulders and drew her close, pressing a kiss to her forehead. “You’re safe, Amalie. There’s no one to spy upon you and naugh’ that can harm you.”

She gazed up at him, looking like a battered wood nymph, her cheek bruised, her green-brown eyes deep enough to drown a man. “And you—”

“I’ll be nearby.” He willed himself to step back from her, some part of him unable to believe he was doing this—leaving her here to bathe alone when he might have joined her. His mother’s Viking blood burned in him again, urging him to give in to his need.

You’re an animal, MacKinnon. The lass has been through hell.

“Call if you’ve need of me.” He turned his back to her, willing himself to walk away from her, to give her this time alone.
He’d gone but a few steps when he heard the whisper of silk as she undressed and the tinkling of water as she slipped into the pool. Then came her sigh of undisguised pleasure, and his blood went hot at the thought of her sweet body bared to the water’s warm caress. Yet, somehow he found the strength to take another step and another.

Amalie watched him go, disappointment welling inside her. She’d thought for a moment that he intended them to bathe together. The idea hadn’t frightened her; on the contrary, it had stirred her blood, made her pulse skip. Didn’t he know how much she needed him, how much she wanted to know the secrets of his body as he knew the secrets of hers? Did he not understand that she longed to give herself to him?

“Morgan?” The sound of her own voice startled her.

He stopped, kept his back to her as if he could not face her. “Aye?”

“M-must you go?” Stunned by her own boldness, she sought for the right words. “Is… Is it not customary for a wife to bathe her husband?”

She heard the breath leave his lungs in a gust, saw his hands clench into fists, and watched as he slowly turned toward her. She was afraid she’d gone too far and that he now thought her brazen. But when his gaze met hers, she saw only desire.

“Are you sayin’ you wish to share your bath?” His gaze dropped to her bare breasts, a muscle tightening in his jaw.

She swallowed, ignored the impulse to cover herself. “Y-yes.”

He strode toward her with slow steps. “Are you certain? I’ve a man’s need for you, Amalie. You ken what that means now, aye?”

She knew he was giving her a chance to change her mind, but she’d never wanted anything more than she wanted him. “Oui.”


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Friday, October 24, 2008

Travel Diary: The sublime, the silly and the sweet

I can't believe it's been a week since we spent that afternoon out in the chilly north wind on Lake George, my mom bundled up in everything she could find, Benjy in his tricorne with his musket, and me in a very soggy pair of jeans and tennis shoes. I guess that means it's been a week since I saw Ben.

But we came back with so many photos, only a portion of which are on my blog.

So now for some that I want to share either because they're very beautiful or poignant or they're silly or they involve Ben, whom I find to be utterly captivating and charming. Hey, it's my blog.

And, by the way, you can click on any of these photos to enlarge them. Feel free to download them if you want. Right click or, if you've got a Mac, just drag the image to your desktop. That's true of all photos on this blog. But maybe you already knew that.

First, the sublime...

Here we are at the site of what is known as "The Bloody Morning Scout." British forces under William Johnson, with Mohawk allies, were ambushed by the French with their Mohawk allies. Reports say the Mohawk called to each other, telling each other to get the heck out of the fight, but neither side listened, apparently. Though the British claimed victory, Ephraim Williams was killed in the fray. This obelisk stands in memory of the battle and of Williams. It's in such a beautiful location. It's hard to believe that any bloody battle occurred here. But bloody it was. William Johnson was shot in the arse, no doubt a displeasing experience.

I could have wandered here forever... If Mike hadn't been there, I might have, and not in a good way. ;-)

My mother took this photo while we were hiking in the 18th Century. The forest was so beautiful.

The waters of Lake George are so clean they are rated as being potable. You can see to the bottom of the lake to a depth of somewhere around seven feet or so. This water was about two feet deep. Ben grabbed me a handful of dirt from the floor of the lake, which now sits in a bottle on my counter, a precious souvenir.

Here's another glimpse of the eastern shoreline of Lake George with it's phenomenal fall colors. With the water, it's so stunningly beautiful. I can't resist sharing these.

More fall color...

Another glimpse at that 18th-century forest...

We don't have moss in Colorado, really, except maybe near creeks that have water in them all year round and even then... Not so much.

The trees in that forest were so tall and straight! In Colorado, they often grown twisted or leaning or with branches bent to one side as a result of exposure to our near-constant wind.

And now for the silly....

Here's Ben acting out a moment of Last of the Mohicans on the actual site of the battle shown in the movie. He said he'd always wanted to do that — aim a musket from the walls of Fort William-Henry.

Here he is guarding prisoners in the so-called dungeon of Fort William-Henry. These little "cells" are not part of the original fort and are not historically accurate. But they are interesting and make the average nine-by-nine prison cell seem spacious. I don't think they comply with the Geneva Conventions, however.

Here Ben is again, guarding a couple of miscreants who got into trouble and were placed in the stocks at Fort William-Henry...

Another glamorous hair shot. I won't even tell you how fun this was to comb afterward.

As we were leaving the marina, Mike warned us that with the three-foot swells and the wind, it was possible that water could splash over the prow and get us wet if we sat up front. But Eileen and I apparently felt the view and the rush of riding up front were worth the risk. Then we hit a swell just right and — sloosh! — we were both wet from head to toe and freezing cold. Here we are shortly after getting splashed. You can see my hair is wet.

And lastly, for the sweet...

Here I am standing with Ben at Shelving Falls. Gosh, I miss that kid!

Here's my lovely mother, Mary, who came with us on this trip and took most of these photos. In fact, she spent so much time behind the camera that she was rarely in the photos. Thanks, Mom!

Yes, he's almost 19. But, doggone it, he'd had such a busy day of scouting, ambushing, firing guns from the walls of William-Henry and otherwise standing guard that on the journey back to the marina he simply... fell asleep. Eileen pointed to him, smiled to me and whispered, "Five hundred lashes!"

This concludes my travel diaries. I hope you've enjoyed them. I may have a few more stories to tell, particularly if I can get photos of the Indians who kidnapped Ben... That's one of the funniest (if not THE funniest) story to come out of the entire trip.

My deepest gratitude to Eileen Hannay, manager of the Rogers Island Visitor Center, for her companionship, patience and expertise and to Christopher Fox, curator of the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, for sharing his time and knowledge. Both Rogers Island and Ticonderoga depend on the support of people who value American history in order to provide the educational resources and historic preservation that keep the past alive for all of us. Please pay them a visit online to learn more or to help out.

Thanks, too, to Mike Terenzetti of Pontoon Boat Tours of Lake George for the fantastic afternoon and for going out of his way to help me travel through time. If you're ever in the area, look him up. I hope to go out on the water again, hopefully when it's warmer and I have more time.

And thanks, of course, to Ben and to my mother, for sharing this grand adventure with me! It wouldn't have been as fun without them. And, believe me, they know now how very important it is for me to get my coffee in the morning. One day I didn't get coffee and grumped pretty much all day. The next day they were very focused on helping me get that latte. I recall one joking, "For God's sake find a Starbucks!" They found this funny. I found it less funny.

What they really found funny is how every round thing on a road sign looked like a Starbucks sign to me... but usually wasn't. My mom told me I was hallucinating.

I'm so sad it's over. The only solution is to go again!

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"I am an artist. I am here to live out loud."
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