Sunday, July 05, 2020

#RomanceSunday #Aidan'sLove


Title: Aidan’s Love
            Twelve Dancing Princesses Book Twelve
Author: Christine Young
Genre: Historical Romance/Regency
Book Heat Level: 4

Buy at:Amazon


TAGLINE

Blade MacPherson has waited a lifetime to claim Aidan McLellan, a woman who haunts his waking thoughts day and night.


BLURB: Aidan's Love

Whispers of Love

Aidan McLellan has loved Blade MacPherson since she first set eyes on him as a young girl. Spontaneous, wild and eager to grow up, Aidan haunts his waking thoughts day and night, insinuating herself into his life. With her fiery red hair and sparkling sapphire eyes, she seizes Blade's heart even while he tries to resist the innocent child until she becomes a woman.

Whispers of Courage

Blade has waited what seems a lifetime to claim the woman who captures his heart as a little girl. Claiming his inheritance before his younger brother takes what is rightfully his, Blade must convince Aidan of his sincerity after years of avoidance and wed her before his father dies so he can return home, securing his rightful place. Everything is put to the test when his life as well as Aidan's is threatened by the man who once called him brother.


EXCERPT: Aidan's Love

At times she didn’t want to reject any advances he might make. If she gave in to his ploys, she would find herself in his arms and his bed before she could blink. After all, she’d been in love with him since she was thirteen, nine long years ago.
Inhaling a long deep breath and setting her cup on the table beside her, she asked and with a patience that was rarely a part of her character, “Where were you? All this time...”
“Ach lass, I was enjoying the silence.” He rose and poured himself more whiskey. Returning, he sat next to her. Placing a hand on hers, he watched her carefully, his muscles tense.
“You don’t want me to talk? Fine. I won’t then. Be that way if you enjoy the sound of silence rather than my voice.” She wanted to bait him, needed to erase the all-knowing smirk off his face. This isn’t at all what she expected when and if he returned.
“Why are you so angry with me? I don’t believe I’ve done anything to deserve your wrath.” He brought her hand to his lips, placing a kiss on the palm of her hand, allowing his tongue to glide across her skin.
“Where were you?” she repeated with a little more force this time, tugging her hand to no avail while he drew circles on the underside of her wrist with his thumb. He wasn’t going to seduce her so easily, she determined. She could and would resist him.
He lifted his shoulders, before nonchalantly speaking, “I left you a note. You should have read it. Then you would comprehend where I went and why along with the gravity of the situation. Truth be told, leaving you was the very last thing I wanted.”
“It’s been three months and I had no idea if you were even alive.” She succeeded in pulling her hand from him then she crossed her arms over her chest, trying to calm her escalating nerves. Lord, but he could bring her to anger just as quickly as he could create a storm of desire she couldn’t control.
He picked up her hand again, brought it to his lips. Gazing into her eyes before kissing the tips of each finger, he continued to explore the palm of her hand then her wrist. When he stopped, “I told you in the note I left on that table.” He motioned to the one by the door.
Thinking, breathing, even sitting straight was nearly impossible when he brought his lips away. “A-a note?” she whispered, enraged at the masculine smile on his face and the way she melted with a tiny kiss on her hand. The man knew what he did to her. For a second time, she pulled her hand away.
Instead of conceding defeat and withdrawing, he picked up her other hand and sucked each finger into his mouth, his teeth nibbling on each tip. This time he continued his path of discovery and exploration up her arm, kissing, biting. His tongue was warm and created its own magic against her flesh.
When he paused, “Yes, a note. Over there. It explained everything. Where and why. The gravity.”
“I never saw a note.” She stood, intending to show him there was nothing there. Before she reached the table, she faced him, and in a huff clearly confused by his seduction, “Regardless, you could have answered my question. You didn’t have to—have to...”
“Make you breathless with passion and desire? We could go upstairs. No one is home.”
“You did no such thing and no we can’t. Lilly will be in the kitchen fixing dinner any time now.”
“Make you breathless or write a note? I can assure you; I wrote one.” Still his voice was too calm, too sure of himself, his smile self-assured.
It didn’t appear that he believed she didn’t see a note. Even if she didn’t find one, it didn’t mean he lied. Bending over and on all fours, she searched the floor below the table then tried to reach behind the nearby chair, stretching, moving her hand along the floor. She sneezed from the dust.
“I can’t find anything.”
His hand settled on top her back. “Let me help.”
His mouth was close to her lips when she turned her head to reply. The warmth from his hand sent a whirling dervish of sensations spiraling to places he awakened a few months ago. A tiny whimper she had no control over made his grin broader.
She moistened her lips. “I don’t want your help.” Any more assistance from him and she’d drag him against her and make him give her those wonderful sensation he called a woman’s pleasure. Ninny, he would never let you take control. Yet perhaps he would.
“But you can’t reach as far as I can.” His lips brushed softly against hers then in a blink they vanished.
“You’re doing that on purpose.” She closed her eyes, reveling in the touch of his hand as he slid it up her back then down to caress her bottom.
“Looking for the note I left you? I need redemption. Of course, I’m doing it on purpose.”
“Then stop touching me and look for the bloody note so you can be vindicated. Or better yet just tell me where and why and I’ll take you for your word.” If he didn’t stop soon, she’d end up a mindless, spineless puddle on the floor.
“I like touching you, hearing those tiny mews of pleasure and the soft flush that stains your cheeks when I do. Why should I settle for anything less?”



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Saturday, July 04, 2020

#SciFiFantasySaturday #ATouchOfBlarney


Title: A Touch of Blarney
Author: Christine Young, C.L. Kraemer, Genene Valleau

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1

Buy at: AMAZON

BLURBS; A Touch of Blarney

Tumble through time… 

…to Ireland in 1817, when tensions are high between Protestants and Chatolics and faey people guide the fate of villagers. A lovely Catholic lass stumbles upon the weakly ritual fisticuffing between Irish lads. She falls into the lap of a handsome young Protestant. Family ties, grudges, and two conniving faeries threaten their budding love. But the faeries outsmart themselves when they hijack a time machine that has mysteriously appeared in their forest and are whisked to…

…Eugene, Oregon in the 20th century, amid a property feud between the local faeries and night elves. The conniving faeries from Olde Ireland try to stir up more mischief. However, a warrior gnome convinces the magic folk to control their own destiny, and forces the intruding faeries to take refuge in the time machine again, spinning their way toward…

…A modern day castle in western Oregon. An eccentric inventor is determined to reclaim his wayward time machine and save his beloved wife from her latest misadventure. If only they can travel safely past the black hole…


EXCERPT: A Touch of Blarney

Star Crossed
Christine Young

Ireland 1816

The ring of knuckles hitting flesh thundered through the brilliant spring morning. Casey O'Connell lifted her skirts and raced up the little knoll behind the old white church. She knew her big bro was fighting. They always fought after church on Sunday. For the life of her, she couldn't figure out why.
"No! Stop it, I say. Patrick O'Connell, you--" Breathing hard Casey barreled through the ring of brawling men.
"Of course, Casey, anything you say," her brother and his friends laughed as he stepped aside.
"Get him, Casey! Land a punch for your big brother and St. Patrick," one of the young men called out.
"The O'Connell's are getting their women folk to fight their battles now?"
"I'll have your head for that, Shaunasey," another joined in.
"Watch your mouth and where you're a starin' or you'll have a black eye so swollen you won't be able to see."
"Woo--eee!" The brawl escalated then seemed to settle around Casey and her off-balance charge through her brother's foes.
Surrounding her she heard raucous cheers, cat calls, and whistles as well as her name. Her arms flailing, she ignored them all and tried desperately to keep her balance.
"Hmph!" She hit hard--a solid rock of muscle--heard the slightest grunt from the object in front of her. Air rushed from her lungs and stars seemed to circle inside her head.
"Oh…" she wailed as the object she hit cradled her with his arms on their way to the dampness of the ground below. Dizziness overwhelmed her. She let her head rest on a muscled chest. She heard a slow even heartbeat then a low rumble of laugher.


Meadows of Gold
C.L. Kraemer

A gentle breeze sighed, undulating the meadow grass lazily and whispering past the forlorn figure slumped on the tree trunk, hands clasped tightly in his lap. Thomas, a forest leprechaun, released a long melancholy breath between his cracked, dry lips. A single plump tear meandered down his stubbled cheek.
The sun sent bright shafts of light through the pine boughs and around the wooden pedestal upon which the morose figure resided. Ignoring the dancing beams, the leprechaun pulled a shuddered breath into his lungs and stared at a spot in front of the stump where a crumpled daisy chain necklace lay withering in the warmth of the afternoon. Another plump tear snaked down his unshaven face.
In the distance, a lone figure scuffed up the lane, which crossed in front of the tree stump. Thomas paid no heed to the approaching form, pulling a thin silver flask from inside his rumpled vest. He blindly opened the lid, placed the opened top to his lips and pulled a deep draught from the container. Refitting the cap to the top, he slipped the silver spirit holder back into his vest. His next shuddered breath was interrupted with a hiccup.
The figure on the road drew closer. Thomas raised his head and squinted his eyes. Was she coming back? He hiccupped and straightened up. Maybe she had been teasing him when she ran away and now she realized how much he cared for her. His eyes brightened and a smile began to touch his lips.
The figure came around the bend and toward him. The last he'd seen her, she was wearing a diaphanous, thin dress. Had she changed? The form nearing him was clad in leather breeches, a braided leather tunic, and knee-high, soft leather boots. A sword blade strapped to the figure's back flashed in the sunlight. Was Cary so angry she meant to cut him in little pieces? His heart began to pound in his chest and inside his mouth his tongue stuck to the roof.
The figure stopped two lengths from him and raised a hand to shade its eyes from the brightness of the day.
Thomas realized he was shaking. This was it…his life was over. He hung his head.
"Thomas?"
The voice was familiar but it didn't sound like Cary. If it wasn't her…


St. Batzy and the Time Machine
Genene Valleau

Horace Ainsworth patted the side of the giant red fire hydrant towering two stories above him then addressed the terrier mix dog staring at him curiously. "It's finished. Now don't you dig in my Maddie's roses any more or potty on the pansies."
Batzy stared at Horace's retreating back for a moment before he hiked his leg on the nearest flowering plant.
Then he turned his attention to the odd-looking structure the Big Human had erected. Not like any fire hydrant he'd ever sniffed. A canine would have to be the size of King Kong to give this thing a proper marking. 
Though it did smell like the water that sprayed out of the hose when the human across the street yelled at him. Batzy grinned and lifted his leg, imagining he was returning the spray of the yelling human. 
As he circled this mysterious structure, the smell of fresh paint and overturned earth drifted into his nostrils. It was bigger than the merry-go-round at the park where his human, Chloe, sometimes took him. 
Wonder what's inside?
Batzy scratched at the side of the structure then trotted another few steps and scratched again. About halfway around he found an opening. Not tall enough for the Big Human, but just about perfect for his little girl, Chloe.Batzy darted inside and lifted his face to sample the aromas. 
No scents of danger but much to explore. Like this box of dirt. Odd. Big humans usually didn't appreciate the joys of digging. Hadn't he just been told not to dig in the rose bushes? A sniff and a poke with his paw uncovered a bone. Fresh out of the package. Batzy looked around. What game was the Big Human playing? 
"Batzy!" his little girl was calling him. 
Batzy stepped out of the digging pit. Hmm. I smell peanut butter.
He put a front paw on a cabinetfor balance and nosed a button. A bone-shaped treat fell into a bowl below. Also fresh out of a package. The Big Human was definitely up to something. Batzy gobbled it down quickly before looking around again.
"Batzy!" 
Drat!He had to go. On his way out, Batzy stepped back into the digging box and snatched up the bone. Outside once again, he pushed the bone through the gap under the fence, and squeezed through after it. 
He popped up on the other side with only a few more streaks of mud on the white of his belly and wagged his tail at Chloe. He'd go back to explore the Big Human's structure later. 




Friday, July 03, 2020

Friday'sFeaturedTitle #TwelveDaysToLove


Title: Twelve Days to Love
Author: Christine Young
Genre: Historical Romance
Book Heat Level: 3

Buy at: Amazon



TAGLINE

Archer Steele shows up at Calanthe Durand’s failing plantation with an alligator over his shoulder, intent on doing everything and anything to convince the beautiful Miss Durand he is worthy of her love.

BLURB: Twelve Days to Love

When Archer Steele shows up at Calanthe Durand’s failing plantation with an alligator over his shoulder, Cali thinks she’s never seen a more handsome man. During the war she had to defend herself and her servants from both union and confederate soldiers. Independent and self-sufficient, she vows to never marry. 
But Archer Steele has different ideas. The first time Archer sees Cali in town, he feels an instant attraction. He decides he will do everything and anything to convince the beautiful Miss Durand he is worthy of her love. During the weeks leading up to Christmas, he gives her twelve gifts in hopes she will fall in love with him. Yet they are faced with challenges they must overcome before Cali can commit to a marriage.


EXCERPT: Twelve Days to Love

“When that window shattered, I thought the world was comin’ to an end. The glass was everywhere, rain pelting into the room. I was terrified, and he was there, helping, knowing just what to do.”
“He took charge. Just like he probably commanded his men during the war.” Cali understood that truth. She’d seen her share of troops stay at her home and listened to the officers giving orders. Some had been upstanding gentleman while others were ruthless, taking what they wanted and leaving nothing behind.
“Well, without him, Miss Cali, we would have lost furniture, paintings...”
“Many valuables.”
A vase that had been given to her mother and father as a wedding gift crashed to the floor, but she’d been able to save other objects when Archer raced outside to board up the windows for a second time. Sam had followed, and together they finished the job.
“More tea?” Daisy rose from the table to retrieve the teapot.
“Yes, that would be nice. We should get started on that fabric we bought in the French Quarter before the storm. Sam needs shirts, and we both need a couple new serviceable day dresses.” To Cali, sewing was cathartic. She could sew all day if she had enough fabric. Alas, she could only afford material for everyday needs.
“I’ll get right to it. Do you have any fashion plates you want to look at, or do you just want to use old ones?”
“Old ones will do. Don’t have the time or the desire to sort through the latest fashions from Paris.” Cali hadn’t looked at fashion plates since before the war when a dressmaker had created all her clothes. That was such a long time ago. She knew Daisy would be laughing inside. Daisy asked the same question every time they made dresses, and her answer never varied. They didn’t have any updated fashion plates to look through.
“Let’s finish this cup of tea then get started. I’ll clean up the kitchen, and you can sort through the material.”
“I’ll meet you in the sewing room.” Cali added a lump of sugar to her tea and a bit of milk before sipping thoughtfully.
Daisy was silent, but Cali watched her deep brown and intelligent eyes as they peered over the teacup. What matchmaking scheme was Daisy conspiring now? Or was she paranoid? Fancying things she shouldn’t be imagining.
“Penny for your thoughts? Daisy asked.
“I was thinking the same, wondering what you were dreaming up. I don’t want you scheming a way to get Mr. Archer here. If he comes of his own accord, then fine. I’ll figure things out, but don’t entice him here. And I’m not going to seek him out.”
“Fine.”
“Fine.” Cali sipped the last bit of tea and grabbing another biscuit, she started for the sewing room.
Cali knew Daisy would mull that over in her mind, and she also knew she was still trying to figure a way for Archer to come to her. Ignoring the disarray in the sewing room, she rummaged through the bolts of fabric, accepting the fact most of what they bought was appropriate for Sam’s work clothes and not dresses.
“My goodness this place is a mess.” One of the windows that shattered during the storm was located in this room. Under normal circumstances this place was bright, sunshine filtering inside. Today it was dark and so dreary it sent a shiver down her spine. She rubbed her arms, warding off the chill then spun on a heel, leaving the room.
A few minutes later she was back, putting mosquito netting over the now open window. A cool breeze flowed through the opening.
“Why, Miss Cali, that was brilliant.” Daisy stood in the doorway seeming to admire Cali’s handiwork.
“Thank you.” Cali set about straightening the room and cleaning up debris from the tempest. A few branches had found their way inside as well as leaves and mud.
“Good thing the new bolts of fabric were put in a safe place before the hurricane hit.” Daisy removed the netting and tossed a branch and some leaves out the window.
“Doubt if we’re going to get much sewing done today. This place is a jumble. I’ll go downstairs and bring up a couple of mops and a pail of soapy water.”
In the kitchen, Cali put a few pots and pans on the stove to heat the water to room temperature before locating two buckets, and other paraphernalia needed to clean the sewing room. It had been a couple of weeks since the hurricane, and they’d had so many chores around the house, this was the first time she’d thought of this particular area of the house. Of course, when you need to sew new clothes, that’s when you remember how the storm tore that chamber apart.
“Miss Cali...” Sam stood in the doorway.
“Oh my! Her hand flew to her chest. You scared me. Guess I was lost in thought.”
“Sorry, but there is someone here to see you.” Sam cleared his throat, stepping aside.
“Mr. Steele? Whatever...? I didn’t expect you.” Her hand on her throat, she tried to swallow while she was thinking he was even more handsome today than he’d been the last time she saw him. His dress was casual. He wore buckskins for pants, along with a white shirt and a leather jacket with a small amount of fringe. He’d pulled his dark hair back and tied it with a leather strap.



KEYWORDS

Historical, Romance, Regency, England

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Thursday, July 02, 2020

#Storm'sPassion #HistoricalRomance


The fifth book in the Twelve Dancing Princesses Series
Author: Christine Young
Email: aandcyoung@aol.com

Genre: Historical Romance
Excerpt Heat Level: 2
Book Heat Level: 3


Blurb: Storm's Passion


Life strikes Storm Graham a shattering blow when she learns her father has bartered her to a man she detests. Storm is beautiful, self–assured and fiercely independent, and refuses to be a pawn in her father’s schemes, yet she can find no way out of this bargain made in hell. Going on the offensive she asks the wealthiest man on the eastern coast of England to marry her, never believing she might fall in love. 


For Hadden Johnston life has provided everything he ever wanted, including a sanctuary for homeless children. He is wealthy, handsome and happily unencumbered...until stunning Storm Graham marches into his life and proposes a marriage of convenience. Yet this type of marriage to a woman who inflames his senses is far from acceptable. If he’s going to be tied down, he will move heaven and earth to have this woman warming his bed.


REVIEW: Storm's Passion

http://www.kinkyvanillaromance.blogspot.com/


By all accounts, Storm Graham is brazen, strong-willed, and beautiful. She despises her father and loves her horses. So when Storm discovers that her father has signed a contract that forces her (and her horses) into the hands of one of the region's wealthiest and most despicable bachelors, she does not take it lying down.

After evaluating her options, she determines that her best bet is to convince the region's wealthiest bachelor to marry her. She believes that Hadden Johnston's money and power can protect her from the evil clutches of Charles Robertson (and his father). In return, she can offer her interest in the family's horse and brewery businesses. The problem? Hadden and Storm are merely business acquaintances and neither is really interested in getting married. 

Desperate times call for desperate measures. Storm has nothing to lose by proposing marriage. Well, maybe a little pride. And Hadden knows all too well the ugliness that lurks in Charles' mind. How could he not try to intervene on her behalf? Combine that with the sparks of attraction between Hadden and Storm, and you'll end up with a marriage of convenience that had me wanting my own Hadden. 

"This is an outrageous game you're playing Miss Graham. But I do understand how loathsome marrying Charles would be. I wouldn't wish it on my best friend and for some reason I've a need to protect you." - Hadden Johnston

Rich, powerful, and cruel, Charles is also not one to take things lying down... 

Storm's Passion is a fast-paced, easy-to-read novel. I read it over a weekend. Luckily for us readers, the marriage turns out to be more than Hadden and Storm bargained for. They have a chemistry that is fun to read and watch grow. Storm isn't the stereotypical damsel in distress. She is a heroine that you really get behind and pull for as the story plays out.

I think that Storm's Passion is a great choice for people who enjoy historical romance stories. I must admit, I was a little thrown off by the book cover at first. It didn't really scream historical romance to me. But don't let all that hunkiness fool you. The book is set in England in 1818.

I look forward to reading more of Christine Young's work.

EXCERPT: Storm's Passion

“Did you or did you not set out to seduce me?” he queried, laughing a bit inside but relishing her innocence.
“Yes, yes I did,” she told him.
Her honesty might just be his undoing. “What if I told you your plan was a success? Consider me thoroughly seduced and ready for your next plot.”
“Oh, I don’t have one.” She lowered her lashes before looking back to him.
He bent over and kissed her, their lips melding together. Take it slow. Don’t scare her. You don’t want her to tell you to stop.He groaned, bloody hell that would be hard. For a moment, he wished she did have an agenda because he bloody well wasn’t sure about his.
His tongue traced the seam of her lips, parting them slightly. They’d been down this road before, and he hoped she remembered the other kisses, sweet poignant kisses but innocent as hell.
Smiling when he heard a tiny moan of pleasure, he deepened the kiss. His hands around her waist, he pulled her closer, and the feel of her breasts against his chest sent a funnel cloud of heat coursing through him.
Sensations so deep he’d never felt anything like these flowed inside. Spreading his hand on her back, he waited for another response as his tongue reached inside her mouth, tasting her, exploring.
She ran her fingers through his hair then tugged his head closer before releasing him and their first contact.
“Is this how seduction feels?” Her warm breath feathered across his cheek.
When he looked down, he saw breasts and shadowed, titillating cleavage. Deep evocative sensations pulsed through him. He moved his hand from her waist across her bared shoulder, the contrast mercuric. The urge to dip his finger into the valley between her breasts overpowered common sense. She’d purposely designed the dress for him, for his touch. She was lush and ripe, and he realized she was not protesting as he had expected.

.



Wednesday, July 01, 2020

#StarCrossed #Fantasy #HistoricalRomance


Christine Young
achristay@aol.com

Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 2
Fantasy/Historical Romance


BLURB: Star crossed

Ireland in 1817, when tensions are high between Protestants and Catholics, faey people guide the fate of villagers. A lovely Catholic lass stumbles upon the weakly ritual fisticuffing between Irish lads. She falls into the lap of a handsome young Protestant. Family ties, grudges, and two conniving faeries threaten their budding love. But the faeries outsmart themselves when they hijack a time machine that has mysteriously appeared in their forest.

EXCERPT: Star Crossed

The heat from the afternoon sun felt wonderful--enchanting--dreamy. When she tried to sit up, the earth whirled around her again. She wanted to feel indignant but she'd brought this on herself. She didn't quite understand why she wanted to convince this arrogant oaf she wasn't a little girl.
"You mind telling me why you tackled me?" he asked.
Casey turned her head to look at the young man. He leaned on one elbow, nonchalantly plucking a blade of grass and sticking it in his mouth. His dark black hair appeared rakishly windblown and his grin was bordered by dimples on both sides. She had the craziest urge to reach up and trace the line of his lips with her finger.
"I don't believe in fighting," she said. "It's absolutely stupid for the bunch of you to come out here on the Sabbath and fight when the rest of the week you are all bosom buddies."
"Stupid, you say?" he queried. "You dare to call me stupid?" he laughed and extended his hand. "Let me help you up. I don't think I'm ready to meet your dah with pistols on the dueling field. So I think I'd best be seeing you home."
An inferno swept through Casey. She didn't know if she still reeled from the impact or if the dizziness was something else--something magical--something supernatural. When he looked at her, she trembled and her face heated. She touched her hands to her cheeks. They felt cold and clammy. Afraid if he touched her again she might melt, she stared at a puffy cloud floating whimsically overhead.
He bent closer to her. The scent of mint filled the tiny space between them.
"You all right? Did you hear what I said?" he asked, touching a finger to the pulse throbbing at her neck. She tried to bat his hand away even while her heartbeat pounded faster, and she couldn't inhale a decent breath of air.
"Stop it," he said, and paused for a moment in his assessment of her health. "I think you will live."
"Of course I will and I can find my own way home. I'm eighteen. I turned two months ago."
"That old?" He laughed and she wanted to escape. Yet some little demon inside told her he was the last person she wanted to hide from. She felt as if her body had been taken over by something unearthly, something mysterious or filled with enchantment.
"You're going to have a black eye," she said and touched the bruise forming around his eye. "Does it hurt?"
"Come on, lass," he said still holding out his hand and sidestepping her question.
"You're ignoring me," she told him, getting up without accepting his hand and dusting off hers on her skirt.
"My apologies," he laughed, bowing slightly laugh lines crinkling his brow. "It only hurts when you remind me of it."
"Then I won't be reminding you," she said quickly.
"Casey," her brother said as he rounded the top of the hill. "You coming or do you mean to dawdle here all day?"
She jumped and pressed her fingers along her skirts to smooth them all the while feeling not a wee bit guilty, but a whole lot guilty. And I have nothing to feel ashamed of. "What are you doing here? I thought you left me to fend for myself," Casey said feeling a moment of loss at the thought her brother would be walking her home and not Kelly.


EXCERPT

Casey pushed on the green grass, trying to unwind herself from the man beneath her, but fell again. All right, Casey lass, you're in a heap of trouble right now with no way out. You are seeing the earth whirl and tumble around and you're on top of a brute of a man--a Protestant.

"All right, lads, we'll meet here next Sunday, same place, same time," her brother's voice filtered through the air as if it floated in the fog that surrounded Casey.

Once again she pushed on the damp grass and didn't seem to make headway, her arms feeling as if they'd changed to soggy twine. Don't you abandon me, Patrick O'Connell. You know I have the Devil's own luck. If you leave me here, I'll never forgive you.

"What about Casey?" one of her brother's friend asked. "She looks a little worse for the encounter."

"Do you think we should leave her here--with Kelly?"

"He's a right stand-up guy. Of course you can leave her here. We'll see her home," a Shaunasey said.

"Well, Kelly is a fine bloke. He won't hurt her. In fact with my feisty lil' sister involved, I fear for him--not her," Patrick said laughing. "She'll do as she pleases. She always does. How can I control her when father cannot? She does not need a second father." He shrugged his shoulder and looked behind him at his little sister as he strolled down the hill.

"She's hurt," another friend called after Patrick. "What kind of brother are you?"

"One who is tired of looking after an accident prone little lass. She has to take responsibility for herself sometime, does she not?"

"She is that," one commented. "You rescue her night and day."

~ * ~

"You should have blessed her with a wee bit o'Irish coordination," Oran said dryly as he flew to a hovering position near the girl.

"And you should remember what our blessed mother told us, 'if you cannot say anythin' nice, don't say anything at all'." Moya rose above the flower petal, her wings buzzing with her anger toward her brother.

"I didn't say anything that wasn't the truth." Oran whistled out of tune for a moment. "We could kidnap them."

"And that is your solution to everything?" Moya pointed one finger at him and shook it. "Why, Oran, I believe you may fancy the lass for yourself. I will not have it. Go play your tricks on someone else's charge. She is mine to see to safety and long life. And don't be forgettin' the lad is yours to watch over."

"You best stem your anger, Moya. You're wings have turned golden," Oran said with a hearty chuckle.

~ * ~

"Let Kelly handle her," Casey's brother said with a light chuckle. "He lost and so he must deal with the object of that loss and assume the consequences. It's only fair."

"Hey!" Kelly said, "Don't leave me here with your sister. It will be hell to pay. She's a little girl. What will your father say?"

The others laughed. "Just don't take too long to decide what to do with her. Little girl or not, father will come after you with his pistol."

I just turned eighteen years old--little girl--how dare he…

"Bloody hell, Patrick. What are you thinking?" Kelly cried out.

"I'm thinking the Catholics won this fight. What are you thinking?" Patrick turned his back on the pair and whistled a jaunty tune as he strolled down the hill.

"Revenge will be sweet. Next Sunday…" Kelly shook his fist at the departing back of Casey's brother.

From what seemed like a great distance Casey heard the moan emanating from inside her battered and bruised body. She squished her eyes together, wishing her head didn't pound so fiercely, and the ground spin so wildly. "Who are you?" she whispered next to the man's chest while a soft spring breeze whispered against her heated face.

"Who am I?" the man chuckled. "Lass, you are the one who landed atop me. I should be inquiring into who you are? Only I know." His hands rested around her waist and squeezed as if he were testing--perhaps exploring--entirely inappropriate. Yet for some strange reason, Casey didn't mind the supposed to be unwanted attention."And I don't think your brother should have left you here with the likes of me. I'm afraid I've landed myself in a dangerous predicament. And I'm thinkin' one that will be very hard to explain."

"Shame on you," Casey said. "You take liberties." The words stole her breath and she had to lean on Kelly once more in order to minimize the pounding of her head and the strange feelings emanating from where his hands were.

"I only want to remove you from--my--ah--person. And if I were taking liberties with you, lass, you'd be near swooning with passion."

"Ah, it seems you are a wee bit arrogant," she opened her eyes and gazed into the bluest eyes she'd ever seen. "The color of a summer sky," she whispered to him, still feeling woozy and not quite sure what he'd just told her--but thinking at the moment something besides the fall caused the earth to spin and the sky to tilt with a crazy, wild abandon.

"What is, lass?"

"Your eyes," she said, struggling against him and finally rolling to the side so she lay sprawled on the grass, staring into the sky she'd referred to a moment earlier and watching a white billowy cloud float past. "I'm not a little girl," she told him. "Don't ever call me that again."

"Then you want me to tell lies?" he asked with a lazy half-smile that stole Casey's heart and left her floundering. "I dinna think I can do that."

"It isn't a lie," she said, trying to sound indignant, yet frustrated beyond anything she'd ever felt before.