Historical Fiction Giveaway
I'm wishing you a happy new year with this chance to win copies of two historical romance novels. We could all use some happy-ever-after stories about now, so slip into your favorite jeans and warm sweater, and cozy up to a good read. Enter our #bookgiveaway before February 5th.
It's easy to enter, just click on the graphic below!
Comes the Winter
To return East is unthinkable, but to stay Lena risks everything,
including the life of the one man who loves her.
Sawtooth City, Idaho Territory
Evan stumbled up the steps to the porch, his body yearning for sleep even more than food. A full day of back-breaking work followed by a one-hour ride in a stiff saddle made the prospect of a soft bed all the more enticing.
A whisper of sound and a small movement to his left brought him fully alert. An animal, a bear perhaps? One had taken to roaming the river bank this summer looking through garbage. He pulled his gun from its holster, taking slow quiet steps across the porch. The shadow moved. Now he could discern the pattern not of fur but of a quilt. Maybe one of the men had come home drunk and decided to sleep it off out here.
Then a slender, bare ankle, attached to a pale white foot, emerged from the corner of the quilt. A woman? Here?
He slid the gun back into its holster. Standing in front of her now, he saw the face framed by dark curls, softly falling across her cheek. Standing there with the moonlight caressing each curve of her face, he wondered if he were asleep. Maybe he'd come off the mountain, walked inside the house and was already dreaming of this angel.
She shifted, sending Evan scuttling back into the shadowed edge of the porch. He held his breath lest she see him and think him up to some mischief. Drawing her foot back within the folds of the blanket, she settled back into sleep. In a moment, her breathing changed to that of a very human being, not at all angelic. He considered that for a moment. Who was he to say angels didn’t snore?
He remembered then, Nash's expected lady. This must be her. Most conjectured that she’d be an older woman, certainly not a woman possessing such an ankle as this one, or a cheek as comely.
Evan frowned. Bad business, this. The poor woman. He scratched at his beard, newly sprouted for the coming winter months. Turning back to the door, he left the sleeping angel to her dreams. He had little doubt she'd be on the first wagon out of the basin, off the mountain before winter locked the doors to the outside world. Or she would if she knew what was good for her.
Lena awoke with a start. Disoriented, she sat up, blinking back sleep. So cold. She pulled at the heavy quilt, drawing herself into a small ball to conserve body heat. And with the chill on her face came the return of memory: the trip up the mountain, the shock of discovering Samuel Nash had died only days before her arrival, the breathtaking beauty of the mountains surrounding this isolated community. She shivered and knew she'd be warmer inside, but something held her there.
A movement just beyond the porch caught her attention. Straining to see through the gray light of predawn, she watched the bulky creature lumbering along with obvious lack of concern for her presence. It rose on its back legs, standing quite still, its beady black eyes observing her. She was certain his eyes were more adapted to the dark than hers, likely both seeing and smelling her.
She’d seen one once in captivity when she'd visited the Lincoln Park Zoo with Miranda. It was a bear cub much like this one. If she'd known more, she might have flown back into the house and under her covers. But the moment held so much magic that all she could do was gaze in wonder at the creature. Apparently finding little amusement in his study of her, the young bear dropped back onto all four paws and lumbered along the length of the house before turning to the creek.
Letting out a long-held breath, she settled back into the chair, the quilt tucked beneath her chin. High on the tallest peaks, a faint pink glow heralded a new day. As she held her breath, waiting, the sun spread its light down the face of the mountains, flowing like golden water into the high valleys. Lena listened to the songs of birds unfamiliar to her city trained ears, their songs announcing the morning as surely as the milkman on his daily rounds. But this was so different, quiet, and yet not. The longer she sat there absorbing the growing presence of day, the more she heard.
How unlike the gray skies of Chicago! How lovely! In the east, rays of gold fanned out along the horizon, chasing back the last shadows of night to foreign lands, far beyond the mountains in the west. Her breath caught as the sun emerged from behind the hills, drawing with it a canopy of pale blue. If anyone had witnessed this greeting between them, they would have seen Lena’s face aglow in sunlight. And had Evan seen her, his thoughts of her as an angelic being would have seemed confirmed.
Sounds of waking life drifted from inside the house. Someone had stoked the fire in the wood stove; a kettle, metal on metal. Men's voices drifted from the rooms, reaching to her ears here within her warm nest.
Reluctant to leave this peace, she pushed her feet from beneath the quilt. Holding it tight to her body she padded across the cold wood floor and slipped inside unobserved.
End of excerpt. Copyright © Samantha St. Claire
Don't want to wait for the contest to end?