Posts Tagged ‘Before The Dawn’

Finding Our Stride: Books Of The Heart

Monday, May 25th, 2015

A long time ago the light bulb came on for me. You know those times when all of a sudden you see so clearly what you wished you’d seen before. Yeah. That. It took me a while to realize that while I love to write contemporary novels, I seem to find historical novels so compelling to write. Maybe it’s the research I love or creating a whole new take on an event in history that I can’t resist visiting. Such was the case in my historical romance Before The Dawn, set in 1850 Pennsylvania. All of my historical novels are books of my heart, which I can’t say for every contemporary I’ve written. I’m sharing an excerpt here today of a scene from Before The Dawn. Hope you enjoy it!

BeforetheDawn72LG

A fallen woman must decide to stay down, or rise and fight…

Elijah McKinnon has been found innocent of a heinous murder, but it doesn’t erase the hellish years in prison he endured. He boards the train to Pittsburgh a changed man, certain he will never feel free until he’s wreaked revenge on the brother who ruined his life.

The passenger who catches his eye is intriguing, but he’s seen her kind before. The kind who puts on airs—and looks down on Irishmen. Still, he can’t seem to stop himself from stepping between her and a pack of ruthless cads.

Mary Jane Lawson is grateful for the handsome stranger’s help, but her journey has a higher purpose: to rise above her shattered reputation and declare her independence, come flood or famine. Propriety says she should refuse Elijah’s suggestion they pose as husband and wife—for her own protection, of course. Her practical side says it won’t hurt to pretend, just this once.

Come nightfall, though, their little charade must be carried all the way to shared sleeping quarters, where their vulnerabilities become painfully clear. And when danger past and present threatens, trusting each other becomes a matter of life and death.

* *

She stumbled along in his wake, no energy to ask why they pushed onward into the woods where no one from the train could help them. Thinking that far ahead caused more trepidation, so she concentrated on planting one shoe in front of the other. After what seemed an endless time, a rocky outcropping and massive hill rose in front of them.

“Thank the saints.” He tugged her forward. “Here.” He released her hand long enough to shove aside shrubbery and reveal a tall opening. She saw his throat work as he swallowed hard. “Damnation. I don’t want to go in here, but we must. I’ll go first, you follow.”

His voice snapped like a general, and she flinched. His eyes went hard, unyielding.

The darkness beyond the crevice appeared to be a wide mouth without teeth. What horrors lay inside? Unreasoning fear stilled her courage. She sucked in a quick breath. If Elijah could conquer his apprehension, so could she.

He crawled in, headfirst. When he disappeared into the maw, all went quiet. Even the wind didn’t stir, and the rain stopped. Her entire body quaked. Nightmares of deep, unknown places from childhood tormented her from the edges. They beckoned, dared her to stay brave and to remain sane.

Elijah’s hand came out and then his head. “It’s larger than I thought. It’s a deep rock shelter.”

She clasped his hand and leaned down. He released her once she started inside. She crawled on hands and knees and discovered enough headroom to stand and several feet on both sides. Light penetrated from a large crack in the ceiling.

He inched around in front of her and made certain the hole stayed thoroughly covered by the foliage. Turning back, he stopped. He put one finger to his lips in a gesture of silence. He pulled his weapon from the inner waistcoat pocket and held it, prepared for use. They stayed that way for several minutes. Time stretched in front of her, an eternity of waiting, of anxiety ridden breaths and heart pounding apprehension. Safety still felt far removed. Now that they had stopped running, she heard her own breath rasping, her heart pounding in her ears as her body slowed. Reaction came without remorse. Tears flowed and fell to her cheeks. She regulated her breath by slow turns, and yet her body remained tense. After what seemed an eternity, he made his way past her and sat against one wall. He gestured for her to come closer.

She eased towards him on her hands and knees, her crinoline bunching up in the way. Frustrated, she frowned. She never hated fashion more than this moment.

“Take off the crinoline. We’re leaving it and the corset behind,” he said.

She hesitated and then realized the wisdom in his request. Mary Jane rose to her feet. “Help me. I have to remove the dress first.”

He nodded, his face etched with a harsh determination. She turned away from him. Methodically he unbuttoned the back of the dress while she pulled the hatpins out of her hat and hair. As his fingers moved, a fleeting thought raced by. Even in these desperate moments of flight, his fingers brushing with heat through dress, corset and chemise somehow made her incredibly aware of him as a man. Then the thought fled.

She tossed the pins in a corner and flung the hat aside. She was surprised the thing had not fallen off before now. Her dress stuck to her, sodden with rain and made the buttons more difficult to undo. She would have to dress in it again once she removed the corset and crinoline, but what choice did she have? Before she knew it the shoulders and the tight sleeves eased away from her skin. Eager, she pulled the garment off her arms until she peeled it all the way down and it fell around her waist. She wriggled to shove it off her hips. She stepped out of the dress and worked on the ties that held the crinoline in place. As they remained quiet, a sense of urgency filled the air. They must hurry in case his brother found them and they must fight. She shoved the horsehair padding downward, and he came around to the front and knelt in front of her.

“Here,” he whispered. “Lift your legs one at a time, and I’ll pull it off.”

She complied, and quicker than she expected, Elijah crumpled the nuisance and shoved it into a corner. Without speaking he returned to stand behind her and made short work of the corset laces. When it loosened around her ribs, she sucked in a breath. That felt so much better. Though she never worn her corset particularly tight, removing the garment was liberating. She took one deep breath after another. When he loosened it completely, he pulled it over her head. It, too, went into the corner.

Now that she stood in nothing but chemise, pantalets, stockings and boots, she trembled with cold. His hands rested on her shoulders for a second, and then he turned her around.

His eyes had lost their harshness, but they held no awareness of her as a woman. He had shut down for the fight, all efficiency in the face of danger. “I know the dress is cold and wet, but you have to put it back on. If they find us here…”

She put her fingers over his lips. For a few unguarded seconds, his eyes flared. She’d never imagined green eyes could burn this bright and hot with emotion. Quickly he shut it off, like a flame doused under a rush of water. He helped her back into the dress, which went much faster.

Once done, he sat, propped his back against the wall and stared at her. He drew up one leg and propped his forearm on his knee. With his disheveled hair, sweat beading on his forehead, and a harsh look in his eyes, he looked every inch the dastardly criminal. Part of her wanted to run from him too. After all, she was in this predicament because his brother had a vendetta with Elijah. His rumpled waistcoat hung open, dirt and something red smeared over one side. Worry speared her.

She sank to her knees in the damp earth in front of him. She grabbed the lapels of his waistcoat and parted them. “You are bleeding.”

“No. I’m not. That’s the blood of the man I killed.”

Her lips parted but nothing came out at first. She struggled with her words. “We both… I hit that man with a rock, Elijah. I killed him.”

“I know, darlin’.” His voice softened, the rough understanding lowering his husky voice. “I know.”

More tears came, and as they rained down, her face crumpled.

“Shhh…” He reached for her and pulled her into his lap.

He cuddled her close, his powerful arms providing shelter she desperately craved. She wept quietly, holding back the rage screaming fear. She shuddered and quaked. She saw a misery in his gaze, a genuine sorrow. She touched his face and felt the bristle of beard growing there. In those quiet moments, Mary Jane heard nothing more than gentle breaths, felt nothing more than his heat beneath her, cradling and comforting.

Understanding, like that she had witnessed before, warmed his eyes and softened his visage. His lips parted. She stared at that handsome mouth and wanted it on hers with undeniable desperation.

Closer, closer still, he tilted towards her until…his mouth touched hers with exquisite gentleness. When her lips parted under pressure, his tongue pushed inside. Retreated. Caressed. Owned her mouth with sweet, deep thrusts. She arched into that kiss, breath puffing into him, mouth moving in response, tongue tangling in carnal dance.

Elijah broke away with a gasp, eyes still blazing.

He leaned closer until he whispered in her ear. “If we were anywhere else and completely safe, you would be beneath me. Naked.”

Blunt as his words were, they excited Mary Jane and made her forget their harrowing flight.

“But we can’t.” His burning gaze lingered on her mouth, then recaptured her eyes. “I would put you in danger, and that’s the last thing I want. Promise me something.”

“Anything.” The word, so definitive and complete, left her throat without a pause.

“If they find us here and anything happens to me, you fight with everything in you. You fight to live. You understand?”

“No—I— you are not going to die.” Her voice broke. “That will not happen.”

“If there’s one thing I learned incarcerated in Eastern State, it was that bad things happen and you cannot always stop them. If that bad thing happens, and I cannot keep you safe…you do what you need in order to live.” His gaze was fierce and demanding. “You understand me?”

“Yes.” The excruciating thought twisted a hot knife in her breast. “Yes.”

 

Goodreads Contest Concluded! :)

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Hey everyone, just a quick flyby to let you know that two winners were picked by Goodreads for a copy of Before The Dawn. There were over 1,000 entries. Wow! Thank you so much to everyone who entered. :) Well, it is the crazy season, so I’m mega busy today. But I plan to sneak in some down time which includes some reading of my own. The TBR pile on my Kindle app is getting so loaded down. Read, read, read!

As for Goodreads GIveaways I will be doing more next year so stay tuned.

Goodreads Giveaway!

Saturday, November 10th, 2012

Okay dudes and dudettes, I’ve got two paperback copies of Before The Dawn that I’m giving away at Goodreads. So if you’re a Goodreads Member run over there and put your name in for it. You can find it here Goodreads Giveaway

Enjoy!

 

Print Edition! Before The Dawn

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

Good morning or afternoon everyone. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, because I meant to do a mini celebration of the print release of my historical romance Before The Dawn on my blog yesterday and it didn’t happen. Anyhoooo…here is a snippet you may not have seen.


* *
A fallen woman must decide to stay down, or rise and fight…

Elijah McKinnon has been found innocent of a heinous murder, but it doesn’t erase the hellish years in prison he endured. He boards the train to Pittsburgh a changed man, certain he will never feel free until he’s wreaked revenge on the brother who ruined his life.

The passenger who catches his eye is intriguing, but he’s seen her kind before. The kind who puts on airs—and looks down on Irishmen. Still, he can’t seem to stop himself from stepping between her and a pack of ruthless cads.

Mary Jane Lawson is grateful for the handsome stranger’s help, but her journey has a higher purpose: to rise above her shattered reputation and declare her independence, come flood or famine. Propriety says she should refuse Elijah’s suggestion they pose as husband and wife—for her own protection, of course. Her practical side says it won’t hurt to pretend, just this once.

Come nightfall, though, their little charade must be carried all the way to shared sleeping quarters, where their vulnerabilities become painfully clear. And when danger past and present threatens, trusting each other becomes a matter of life and death.
* *

Once more he leaned in and kissed her. Brush by brush, he painted his lips over hers in tender strokes that heated fires everywhere. He fisted his hand in her hair and drew her to his chest, his mouth now working hers with a persistent tasting. She eased away with a moan, but his lips still hovered over hers.

“That wasn’t a proper kiss,” he said.

“Of course it was.”

“How many times have you been kissed?”

She licked her lips, and his gaze caught hold of the sight and burned like a touch. She swallowed hard. “Many times.”

He frowned. “Many times? By how many men?”

“By one.”

“How old?”

“Forty.”

“Ancient.”

“To a twenty-year-old woman, it is.”

“That’s interesting.” He kept his voice soft and non-threatening. “So, how old are you now?”

“Twenty-two.”

“I’m twenty-six.”

“Ancient.”

“In five years I’ve lived a lifetime.”

She had no doubt he had, in his own way. “The man was Professor Thaddeus Ricker, a lecturer at the university. He teaches Latin. He was very appealing and handsome, a scholarly man that women respected.” She shuddered. “But they should not have. I should not have.”

“The old man didn’t kiss you properly, and because you didn’t find him attractive, you didn’t enjoy his kiss.”

His brows knitted, and she saw sympathy and understanding there that she did not know if she wanted. Attractive? Oh, yes, she knew how she felt when Elijah stood near, when he looked at her with those hooded, searching-out-every-secret eyes. It was world’s above what she had experienced with Thaddeus. Her professor, once so dear in her young heart, seemed pale imitations of manhood against Elijah’s potent personality.

Before she could answer, his touch slid down to her throat and tested the pulse pounding there. “Sure, and there it is. Heat and madness.”

“Madness?”

“Your pulse is quick. The way your breath quickens and your heart picks up speed tells me you like our kisses.”

“I do not want to like it.” She blurted the statement with a petulance that surprised and embarrassed her.

“Whether you want to like it or not isn’t the question. Did you like it?”

She knew she hovered on making a step that once taken could not be erased. “Yes. It was…pleasurable.”

His eyes turned hungry, their intensity building with her answer. “How much pleasure?”

“New. Different.”

He drew in a deep, shivering breath and trembled on the exhalation. “Do you want an honest kiss, Mary Jane?”

She could not voice it, so she did the one thing that would answer. She slipped her hand through thick, black hair at the back of his neck and eased towards him, brought him nearer inch by inch until…

Their lips met.
**
You can get your copy of Before the Dawn at the these outlets:

Samhain Publishing
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Powell’s
Books A Million

Before The Dawn In Print Soon!

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Before The Dawn will be in print soon! Whoohooo! So for those of you who prefer reading print, you’ll be able to get your copy on May 1! Before then I’ll be sprinkling in some teaser excerpts of scenes you may not have witnessed before if you haven’t already read the book. So stay tuned.

Also this month I’ll have a couple of those writing articles I promised to people on Twitter not so long ago.

Historicals & Inspiration

Monday, January 9th, 2012

Historical romances are definitely a passion of mine.

I’ve written historical romances in the past, but have taken significant time out to write contemporaries. Why? Because my interest in historical writing comes as it comes. I can’t really write them on demand any more than I can write other novels on demand. I have to have a spark, and idea that grabs me by the throat.  My erotic time travel BRIDGE THROUGH THE MIST takes the reader back to 1318 Scotland. The hero, a Highlander, demanded that his rough and tumble world be created, and I said yes. After all, he did have that big sword and…oh, did I just say that out loud? I loved researching Scotland via books and computer, but in the 90’s I had the great fortune to visit Scotland several times. There’s nothing like being there…books and research can never convey quite the sounds, smells, visuals that visiting a country can. There’s nothing like standing in front of a great castle and savoring the wonder.

On the other hand, what if you’re writing a book set during the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 London, England? I’ve always had a fascination for writing fictional stories based around true events, and because I’d been interested in Jack The Ripper’s antics for quite a while, I’d researched the heck out of it. When I took the plunge to write DARK, DEADLY LOVE (was Midnight Rose), I found all that fascination paid off. Lots of facts had sunk into my head, but I loved, loved doing the additional research. It took about five months to create the first draft of the story, plus a few months more to revise and edit. I ended up with a very long manuscript, but one I was so proud of, and one that satisfied me to the core. When I had that big ole book in hand, I sighed with relief. Yes, this felt good. No, it felt fantastic.

When I wrote LOVE FROM THE ASHES, my story set during the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, the research once again consumed me. Because I’d always been interested in earthquakes, the science and the history of the event swept me up. Like an adventure, I rode the tide with the real life people who experienced the event, learned a lifetime of details. Again this story took me a long time to write, but once more the satisfaction was beyond compare. Where did I get the original idea for the story? I’d read that many marriage licenses were taken out the day after the earthquake. How romantic is that? So guess what my hero and heroine did? Yep, that’s right.

In ’05 a burning ache to write another historical started to consume me. Soon I possessed an inkling of where and when I wanted to set the story. Roman Britain. Oh, boy. If you want to cause shudders of dread in an author, tell them you are research ANYTHING to do with the Romans. Well, okay, some authors’ eyes will light up, other author’s mouths will round in a big O of admiration. Some will grunt and say how would I stand the research? I located tons of stuff on line and gobbled it up. I’d already accumulated two books on Roman Britain and read those. Then I bought books on the Roman Army and digested them with complete fascination. Watched my Gladiator DVD again. Watched my HBO Rome DVD set again. Sucked it all in. Wrote my notes about the plot, the characters, thought of their names. Soon I had a big, big idea for my book. I love this story, and I hope you’ll read FOR A ROMAN’S HEART.

I wrote BEFORE THE DAWN, which is set in 1850’s Pennsylvania, when I saw a documentary about Eastern State Penitentiary. What if a hero was framed for murder and survived five years in one of the most hellish prisons in the world? What kind of heroine would it take to see through his scars, mostly emotional, from five years of solitary confinement?

My latest historical creations include the first two books in my ASYLUM TRILOGY, SHADOWS WAIT and SHADOWS RISE. Both of these books were inspired by events that mattered deeply in the lives of so many people. In the coming weeks I’ll give you more and more information about the ASYLUM TRILOGY and its upcoming release this year.

So, for those of you who love historicals or historical romances, what makes them a rich experience for you? I’ll pick a random winner and announce next week who won a download of BEFORE THE DAWN.

 

 

July Video Blog

Thursday, July 14th, 2011

 


 

Oy. Spoke To Soon and Another Contest Op

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

Sorry guys. I spoke too soon. I posted my last blog saying the Barnes and Noble copy of BEFORE THE DAWN was corrected. Thanks to a reader (really, thank you for letting me know), I discovered the Barnes and Noble Nook copy is still wrong. I have notified the powers that be. And I’m really sorry for any inconvenience it has caused readers. I’ll keep you posted.

BUT, the good news is that I have a contest going at Selena Robin’s blog http://selenarobinsmusings.wordpress.com/

The contest is until Sunday so be sure to go over and comment before then.

Also, I’ve ventured into blogging at Tumblr. Or whatever it is people do at Tumblr. I’m giving it a try. If you’re on Tumblr check me out at http://deniseagnewnovelist.tumblr.com/

Before The Dawn Update and Upcoming Events

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Whoohooo! The good news is that Amazon and Barnes and Noble now have their copies of Before The Dawn. So if you were waiting to get your copy from one of those outlets, wait no more. :) Thanks so much for your patience.

On other notes…all last week I was working on some revisions, and I hope to have those done by tomorrow at the latest. My dog is giving me the evil eye and asking for play time. Puppy sad eyes.

I have two events coming up soon I wanted to let you know about.  July 16 I’ll be at author Delilah Devlin’s blog. I’ll post the URL in the days to come.

I’m part of High on Historicals, a group of authors who write historicals/historical romances at Samhain Publishing, and on July 23 we’ll be at the Samhain Cafe Yahoo Group chatting about our books and giving prizes. :) I’ll post a link to that soon as well.

Well, this has been a drive by posting, but the dog is really staring at me now. Talk to you all again very soon!

 

Book Trailer: Before The Dawn

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

Happy day after 4th. of July. I wanted to share with you the gorgeous book trailer for my latest novel, BEFORE THE DAWN. By the way, this book is still not available at Amazon or Barnes and Noble as of this morning (because new files needed to be uploaded), but you can purchase your copy through Samhain Publishing at www.samhainpublishing.com right now.

In the meantime, take a look at this great trailer!