Title: Once Upon a Christmas Moon
Authors: Christine Young, C. L. Kraemer, Genie Gabriel
Excerpt Heat Level: 1
Book Heat Level: 1
BLURBS: Once Upon a Christmas Moon
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.
BOOTS AND BLADES
An ancient evil from the old country has arrived in the high desert of
Oregon. Gnome children are vanishing then re-appearing, showing various
stages of traumatization. Tiamoon, warrior gnome, will put her skills to
use alongside Killian, a handsome warrior, also in need of a cause.
With their world destroyed and their space ship malfunctioning, the
dogizens of Planet Canid have little choice but to crash land on Earth.
They face tortuous experiments at the hands of the Geeks in Green...or
they can trust an eccentric inventor and his zany family to deliver the
Canine Queen's puppies and help them celebrate new lives.
Title: Once Upon a Christmas Moon
Author: Christine Young, C. L. Kraemer, Genie Gabriel
Reviewer: James Charles
Three delightful short stories. Each one takes the reader into a fantasy world, even the one set post-Civil War, and serves up a well-rounded tale. Perfect stories for the cold months of winter. Wrap up in your blanket and grab a warm eggnog, and settle in to three different enchanting worlds.
EXCERPTS: Once Upon a Christmas Moon
Twelve Days to Love
Near New Orleans October 2,1867
“Sam! Close the shutters on the back landing. I’ll get the front. Hurry. There’s a storm coming.” Calanthe Durand felt the small hairs on the back of her neck rise and shivers run down her spine. A big storm was on its way, probably a hurricane. Energy and fear poured through her like the pounding rain and flooding that accompanied high winds. Closing the house to the storm was imperative.
Cali took a moment to smile. She’d heard Sam grunt. He didn’t talk much, but she wouldn’t have survived the war or these last two years without Sam and his daughter Daisy. Both sides, the North and the South, had occupied their home. Daisy and Sam were family, the only family she had. She’d do whatever was necessary to protect them. Even with emancipation, life wasn’t easy for blacks in the south.
“I’ve got them, Miss Cali.” Daisy rushed past her and out the door. Wind whipped her hair and tugged at her dress. Branches torn from trees landed on the porch.
Cali followed, the storm swirling around her, her hair beating against her face. Her breath was ragged, and fast as her heart thundered. She pushed and tugged at her skirt, trying to detangle the fabric from her legs. “Get inside!” The tempest raging around them swallowed her voice.
“Not until we’re finished here.” Daisy fastened a shutter before moving on to the next one.
They worked together to protect the windows from the storm on the raised porch which stood five feet off the ground as wind howled around the eaves. A steady rain poured from the black sky, and lightning slashed the darkness.
Cali pushed dripping strands of hair that had slipped from her chignon away from her face. “I’ll light the candles. It could get dark here pretty fast.”
“Horses and livestock are safe for now.” Sam stepped beside her. “Hope it’s not a big one.”
“Hello up there. Hello, bonjour, anyone home?”
Hearing the voice from below, Cali left the protection of the house to lean over the porch railing. Below her a man stood, with cupped hands to his mouth and a dead gator slung over one shoulder a quiver filled with arrows on the other. “Hello. Can I get shelter from the hurricane?”
“Don’t know if it’s a hurricane.” Terrified of unknown men, Cali didn’t want to do the charitable thing. She pursed her lips, thinking, but all that came to surface was memories of troops commandeering her home. Good lord but she’d had to hollow out a bedpost to hide her jewelry. The soldiers had taken everything they could see. Sometimes she felt as if the war had ripped her soul from her body.
“Maybe not a hurricane. Could be just a bad storm, but I don’t want to be on the swamp right now. The water’s rising.” A loud roar and a thunderclap followed his pause. Behind him an old Cyprus tree crashed to the ground, uprooted by the wind.
“You can take shelter in the stable.” Cali watched his back stiffen, while she swallowed hard, but she wasn’t about to back down. The stable was good enough for some wandering man who she owed nothing. Besides, there was a tack room with a bed. No one slept there anymore, but she kept it clean and the moss in the mattress was fresh. Daisy had rolled it out two days ago. Yet a small niggling in the back of her head kept telling her this wasn’t a traveling man but one of means. He was a man she should treat as a gentleman. She’d been taught better but the war had changed all that and the lessons she learned were not served to her with a silver spoon.
“Much obliged.” He nodded before turning toward the barn. His natural swagger and broad shoulders sent a different kind of sensation through her. Warmth swept inside, swirling within and heating her frozen heart. For a moment he looked back, a strange expression on his well-chiseled face.
Boots and Blades
High Desert, Central Oregon
Killian stared at the rise of rock from the desert floor. The emerging sun tricked the sky into revealing pink and blue streamers across the horizon exposing the severe lines of craggy mountains. Pine trees scented the air, and the slightest hint of sage tickled his nose.
“Where are they disappearing to? They’re much too young to be running away.”
The young man turned his blue gray eyes from the mountain to answer. “Yes, Ms. Luna. What can I do for you?”
“Are you sitting out here at this early hour worrying about the young ones?” Luna’s black hair was braided down her back and she sported a shawl bright with her clan’s colors. She handed the young man a steaming cup of coffee. “I hope you don’t mind black. I’ve yet to milk the goat.”
Killian flashed her a seldom seen smile. “Ms. Luna, you make the best coffee in the desert. Black is fine.”
Taking up a spot next to him on the porch, she turned her attention to the mountains admiring the soft colors of rose and tan springing to life in the morning sun. “What is it that haunts you so?”
“The illogicality of it all.”
“Aye, I figured that. It is indeed illogical. The children are too responsible to leave unannounced, yet they are snatched from their beds in the middle of the night with no clues.”
Killian sipped the wicked black brew and allowed the liquid to spike his taste buds. The brilliant light of a new day was caressing the landscape and warming the air. “The kinders disappearing are not inclined to run off. They are the eldest and most reliable. These missings make no sense. They don’t happen in the same area or at the same time. They’re completely arbitrary and being so—random—has given me pause to find a method. If I were to discover a pattern, the recovery would be simpler.”
Luna watched the anguish distort his handsome young face. His blue eyes clouded to a dark grey when he spoke of the missing children, and his normally full mouth stretched to a tight slash across his face.
“I don’t wish to sound cruel, but none of these are young ones of your own family. Why take their absence to heart?”
Killian relaxed his scowl a bit, and a smile began to touch his lips. “Because it is they who will be the leaders of our clans in but a few short years. I had hoped to retire my sword someday to warm my boots by a fire. Having a mate and young ones around isn’t such a bad idea.”
He automatically sipped his dark brew. It would indeed be nice to warm my feet by a fire with a mate and children. The problem being I’ve found no person who makes me think in such terms.
“Well, I must admit, Master Killian, I never would have thought you to be the settling type.” She picked up his cup, returning from the kitchen minutes later with fresh coffee in the container.
“Neither had I, Ms. Luna, neither had I, however, aside from our missing young ones, there has been no conflict between the clans, nor have the Others tried to interfere in our affairs in a very long time. It is a good thing for many but for me, what good is a warrior without a war?”
Luna could only agree with his forlorn assessment; what good, indeed, was a warrior without a war? “Maybe a solution will arrive in the near future. You never know.”
Killian shrugged his shoulders. Who knew indeed?
This anthology contains three Christmas-themed stories. The first and longest story, "Twelve Days to Love" by Christine Young, is set in Louisiana just after the Civil War. It was my favorite in this book; exciting and romantic with an independent, likable heroine and a studly, honorable hero. This story did a fantastic job encapsulating the emotions, tensions, and uncertainty of the times.
The other two tales were fantasies.
In "Boots and Blades", Children mysteriously disappear from a small community in Oregon. Some later return, but are different. No one believes their recollections of their terrifying experiences until help arrives in a most unexpected way. I loved the chemistry and bantering between Kiamoon and Killian. Their strong bond and their determination to help the youngsters trapped in the high Oregon dessert made this story heart-touching.
"Christmas Pawsibilities" was an up-lifting and joyful ending to this holiday anthology. Not as dark as "Boots and Blades" this story dealt with an alien ship crash-landing on Earth which led to the capture of the Queen's consort. This story deals with ingrained attitudes and cultural differences with a deft touch. Handled in a compassionate and sometimes amusing way, this was a fun-to-read story that none-the-less delivers an important message.
I enjoyed reading Once Upon a Christmas Moon but thought the story combination would have been improved by making the individual stories a bit more homogenous. For example, I love stories set in the 19th century American South, but it was quite a shock to my mind to finish "Twelve Days to Love", and then jump into the somewhat dark fantasy about missing gnomes and warrior goddesses. Still, all three stories were original and entertaining. They make for a cozy holiday read - just tuck up under your favorite warm afghan while sipping hot chocolate. All the stories are clean and wholesome, sure to appeal to most readers regardless of age.
Reviewed by Laurie-J
Review: Books are Love
Twelve days to love
A sweet story of a man who has his eye caught by the proud stubborn girl and is trying to get her to like him. I love how he treats her with respect and lets her make up her own mind. In the era this is written in that is rare for a woman to get to do.
Asher fell for Cali the moment he saw her but knew she had been through alot. She survived the war and kept her home at the same time. She is strong, smart and stubborn. And not one to take charity or be trusting of others. So Asher comes by and begins his campaign to get her to like him first and than love him.
ONly another tries to thwart him because he wants her land. Asher helps Cali with this as well as other things. The story is entertaining and fast paced. YOu enjoy watching Asher wear down Cali and see her fall in love. The characters are ones you like from the get go and root for them to get their HEA.
Boots and Blades
This was fun and entertaining. I love how the two warriors drove people crazy because they did not know what to do with themselves. Watching Ender fight for those little ones and sacrifice was so wonderful.
Here we children being snatched and when some come home they are different. So Luna sends out Killian to find the truth of the matter but also a letter to her sister for help. what transpires is a tale of gnomes, gnomepires, kidnapping for the sake of being lazy, two woman show their power and show up the evil gnomepire and a budding relationship that is being denied.
This was fun, uplifting and entertaining.
So funny with the blue haired ladies and how they come to the rescue.
I enjoyed seeing Fletcher’s eyes open up to what is going on around him and also he gives Laycee a chance. You can see the attraction there.
Ryan and Dodi perfect together and he has you swoon with his declaration for her.
The story is one where second chances are given, a woman is trying to chance, a man’s ideals are tested and he comes out on the right side, dogs are talking, time machines are used and the blue haired old ladies save the day. So fun and sweet. It goes by quickly and has you smiling in the end.
Born in Medford, Oregon, novelist Christine Young has lived in Oregon all of her life. After graduating from Oregon State University with a BS in science, she spent another year at Southern Oregon State University working on her teaching certificate, and a few years later received her Master's degree in secondary education and counseling. Now the long, hot days of summer provide the perfect setting for creating romance. She sold her first book, Dakota's Bride, the summer of 1998 and her second book, MyAngelto Kensington. Each fall, Christine returns to the classroom as a high school math teacher. Her teaching and writing careers have intertwined with raising three children. Christine's newest venture is the creation of Rogue Phoenix Press. Christine is the founder, editor and co-owner with her husband. They live in Salem, Oregon.
C. L. Kraemer
C. L. Kraemer is a wanderer, a way of life started when her father served in the U.S. Marine Corp. She’s carried on the tradition seeing most of the continental United States as well as Hawaii and Alaska.
Three contemporary romance novels written under the nom de plume, Celia Cooper: Old Enough to Know Better; Sun in Sagittarius, Moon in Mazatlan; andIf Onlywere gifts from the writing gods. A fourth novel, Cats in the Cradle of Civilization, written as C. L. Kraemer is her first venture to the mystery genre. Wings ePress, Inc.is the publisher of these four offerings.
Healthy Homicide, theOctober 2008 launch book for a new publishing house, RoguePhoenixPress,picks up the torch again in the mystery world. In February 2010, she contributed writings to two Valentine’s Anthologies at RoguePhoenixPress:A Valentine Anthology, with TheLending Libraryand A Different Kind of Valentinewith The Prize.
She completed the base story in a Dragon fantasy series, Dragons Among Us, for RoguePhoenix Press. The second in the series, Dragons Among the Eagles, was released June 2011.
Meadows of Gold, another faerie story, was released March 2011 as part of A St Patrick’s Day Tale.A novel based on one of the first mass shootings, which took place in Salem, Oregon in 1981,Shattered Tomorrows,was released August 2011. Currently in the works for publication is a commuter book featuring a motorcycle poker run, Joker’s Wild,and the third in the dragon series, Dragons Among the Ice.
Christmas, anthology, romance, fantasy, adventure, mystery
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