A Woman To Treasure Review

Another hit out of the park for Ali Vali!!

While I could see shades of Cain Casey in Levi, Dr. Montbard certainly carved her own space out in this reader’s mind. She is the kind of person…ahem…character…that I would be proud to number among my friends. Honorable, dedicated, driven, respectful and caring. She has a big heart and it shows.

The author has once again crafted memorable characters that live on long after the book is finished. Ali Vali’s gift is not only transporting us to her world(s) but also populating those places with people that almost seem to breathe and stumble as we do.

This story had everything I hoped for – adventure, love, danger and a mysterious quest.
I hope Levi and Yasmine (and her sister) have even more adventures, because I cannot wait to see what’s next for them.

This heart-warming novel will be available May 1st from the publisher, Bold Strokes Books, and May 11th everywhere else, but I suggest cutting out the middleman and getting it direct from the publisher.

HIstory Meets Modern Day

There’s a lot to be said for experimentation in writing. Especially if it’s a genre a writer hasn’t tried before. The writer can try new points of view, new tropes or maybe new settings. Sometimes, writing in a genre they’ve not written in before can reveal new aspects of the person behind the keyboard.

Once upon a time (I promise this isn’t a fairy tale) I would have said I avoided romance books like the plague. Except, over time, I haven’t been. I read and review quite a few #wlw (women-loving-women) romance novels, mysteries and literary fiction books. I’ve also been reading a number of “straight” Western romances, particularly those set in the late 1800s. I seem to have developed a fondness for them, actually. There’s something intriguing about a woman setting off to make a life for herself, and marry a man she’s only ever written to and yet never seen. Talk about an adventure with a big helping of risk! What if the gent had misrepresented himself, or the woman had and her new man no longer wanted her? Or if they hit it off, what if she was woefully unprepared for the amount of work involved in homesteading? Anything could happen…wildfire, flood, a failed crop could lead to famine, their stock could die…

Life on the frontier was tough!

But all the while I’ve been reading these tales of risk, bravery and eventual love, an idea had been growing in the back of my mind. I could write one of these but put it in a place I know.

Northern Ontario.

There aren’t as many historical records that tell us about matrimonial situations in the bush as there are for life on the prairie, but that’s where imagination comes in.

I know how winters are up here. I know how fierce hungry, wild animals can be. I know how a wolf howl can send shivers down a spine.

So, to that end, one of the pieces of fiction I’ll be working on over the next few months is a historical romance novel. The story of how Clara Livingston and Josiah Hunter make a life for themselves in the Canadian woods in 1860.

I’ll share behind-the-scenes glimpses and excerpts if you like, as well as tidbits of research. Let me know if this sounds like something you’d be interested in.

I do hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Still Life In Ice

Good morning!

You might remember that I have a German Shepherd whose greatest pleasure is his morning walks. Now that the air isn’t frigid, I keep my eyes open for interesting photo opportunities, especially while the sun is still coming up.

This morning, this little tree, still coated in frost from last night, presented itself, back-lit by the rising sun.

Beauty is all around us. All we have to do is pay attention.

What do you find eye-catching where you live?

I Am Chris~A Review

I’ve been a big fan of R. Kent since their debut book The Mail Order Bride

This book is a little different though.

This tale is set in current times and focuses on the battle Chris wages to both be true to themselves, and win money in bull riding at local rodeos. But the town is run and controlled by a corrupt, cruel bastard with a badge who has warped reasons for being who he is. In his mind, anyway. He is enabled and assisted by both the local social services worker and the person in charge of the boy’s home. So Chris has to survive everything those adults throw at him, as well as make a name for himself in the competitive and bone-breaking sport of bull riding, and navigate new friendships and a growing attraction to one of those friends. Whew, that’s a lot!

Chris is an honourable young man born into a body he doesn’t feel reflects who he truly is, and yet manages to rise above his circumstances. He has a big heart that he, unfortunately, wears on his sleeve. He’s a true survivor that lets love lead him, no matter the crappy world he’s been dragged into. The secondary characters all breathe true as well. Every one of them have secrets and motivations that have affected their little town in ways we don’t see until close to the end of the book.

The pacing of the story is great, and the world R. Kent has created, the characters that populate the small town and the hurdles that threaten to keep Chris from the life he wants…all of it kept me reading far past bedtime.
The book is well-peppered with true human strength, bravery from even the most unlikely characters, fear, uncertainty and the capacity to reach for dreams that shouldn’t exist. The closing chapters will have you cheering for more than just Chris.

I Am Chris is one of my favourite books. It is the story of courage, redemption and hope, and there’s a lot to love here.
Read it for the people you’ll meet in the book’s pages. Read it to be uplifted and shown what courage can achieve.
Just read it. Get a copy from the publisher Bold Strokes Books. You won’t regret it!

#transvisibilityday

What’s She Hiding?

She lives alone beside a lake – a middle aged homesteader with an old dog for company. But she’s got a secret…a BIG one! What’s she trying to hide?

Here’s a bit of an excerpt;

Ruger stretched out at my feet with a sigh. I pored over the paper slowly, skipping only the articles on the financial condition of the country. The country’s economic state doesn’t matter to me out here. But toward the back of the paper, tucked between a piece on the next Governor-General and a book review, was something that did catch my eye.

A short article on a hunter, missing somewhere in Northern Ontario for a little over a year.

A man I had been far too close to, a little over a year ago.

My gaze travelled without intention to the willow tree a few feet away. I’d planted it a year ago, but it was already as tall as a two-year-old tree. Obviously, it liked the soil there.

I read the article again and hoped no one would look for the missing hunter again.

After I read the paper, I went about my chores. I took wood in the house and piled it near the door, but far enough away from the woodstove to be safe. It had come from a tree blown down by the biggest storm of the previous year. Thankfully, it had been a good solid oak, without any hives or nests. I tossed a piece or two in the woodstove, pushed them down into the embers and shut the stove door tight. That would keep it going while I split more wood. 

It was a never-ending need, wood. It provided my heat and fuel for cooking. In the summertime, I cooked more in the outdoor oven I’d built from stone and clay, but it was wood-fired too. This past spring, Anne and I had agreed to split the cost of a load of wood. She had a friend who sold entire tree-length logs by the tractor-trailer. He delivered and she cut them up to the right length from there. She had offered to split the load, proposing a generous price and payment plan. I didn’t refuse. It was better than cutting down all the trees around my cabin. Over lunch, she had told me to expect my half of the wood any day this week.

I took a break from splitting to catch my breath and once again eyed the willow tree. Perhaps it was time to start building a woodpile there. I set my maul down and walked over to the tree, studying the ground at its base. The ground was starting to cup. I nodded to myself and went back toward the cabin. I cut a thick five-foot pole, shaped the end into a point and paced four feet away from the willow. With my mallet, I pounded the pole as deep as I could. That would hold one end of the wood-pile while the willow provided support at the other end. Then I retrieved my wheelbarrow from the shed. It didn’t take long to lay out the first layer of wood splits between the willow tree and the pole.

Far less time to hide my secret than I had been living with the existence of it.

Want to know what happens? Want to be the first to see new fiction, book trailers, character boards and more? Come visit me on Patreon and learn all about Patron rewards! See you there!

Pyotra & The Wolf~ A Review

From reading “In The Hand”, I knew Elna Holst was a talented and skilled author, but I was unprepared for the deft ways she made the legend of Peter and The Wolf her own. Her novel is the first time I’ve read a story set in Siberia, which I found to be a refreshing change. I felt as though I was truly there, out on the snow and ice and under the Aurora Borealis. Holst’s description of the wolves (both “hers” and the attacker) were like word paintings. She’s so good at it, I’d say she’s almost a master at scene-setting.

Pyotra and Volk were fascinating, deep characters that I felt were so well-drawn, I could almost hear them breathing as they travelled across the snowy landscape. Their chemistry was obvious and palpable and grew as the story progressed. (I was less entranced with the secondary characters, but that’s okay. We aren’t supposed to love secondary characters as much.)
The charm of this novel is the way the author brings her characters to life and the way her words hold us tight.

I’m honored to have been given an ARC in exchange for my honest review. I’m thrilled I was able to read this novel. If fairy tale re-tellings are your thing, you definitely want to read this one!

Grains Like Daggers

Photo by Julia Volk on Pexels.com

I woke up and found myself surrounded by sand, and hot air. Every breath was like inhaling fire. I slowly circled, praying for something familiar. The mind-melting heat fizzled as my blood turned to icy sludge in my veins. There in the impossibly blue sky hung a blue and green orb – Earth. That familiar ball in the sky, as much as it should not have been there at all, was the only break in the landscape. There was no indication of safe refuge, no trail through the sand. Another rotation revealed a difference in the shades of sand. One place was darker than the rest. It might have been a trick of the light or a misfiring synapse in my brain borne of desperation, it didn’t matter. Anything was better than sitting in the endless sand waiting for death. I pulled the neck of my t-shirt over my mouth and walked toward it. I couldn’t tell how long the journey took, but the dark spot gradually drew closer, and in time, I could, at last, see it was upright and vaguely human-shaped. I’d like to say I walked faster but the truth was closer to a dehydrated shuffle. 

Finally, I reached my goal. I thought it was someone standing in robes with their back to me so I reached out a hand, to grasp their shoulder.

“Help…” I could say no more.

My hoped-for rescuer turned and became my horror.

It looked like something that had once been human, only with all of its skin removed to showcase the muscles, bone and tendon.

So kind of you to save me the task of hunting you down I heard it rasp deep in my head.

It grasped my hair with a skinless hand, curled its fingers and peeled my scalp from my skull.

I screamed as my flesh was pulled from me as easily as you skin a banana, the pain beyond anything I can put into words. I dropped to the sand, every grain like daggers biting into my unprotected nerves.

When the blackness swallowed me, it was a relief.

I don’t know how I got here, in this too-white room. You’d like me to be lying, I know. You could drug me into compliance. But every word is true, and while I don’t know how, I know he’s coming for you next. 

The End

Curl Up With A Good Book Or Binge?

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

The wind howls at your window, you’ve got your favourite snack and you’re ready to settle in for a long, cozy night of…?

Do you read a good book or go binge your favourite show?

If you’re the sort that would rather be whisked away by the printed or electronic word, I’d love it if you would take a minute and fill out a short reader-centric survey for me. You can find it here.

Who is your favourite author right now?

Undercover Justice

There is a town held fast by the powerful grip of fear – of one man. No one dares to stand against him until a secretive, mysterious stranger comes to town looking for medical help. They just want to be patched up and leave town, but the raging infection and a stunning brunette doctor won’t allow that. When enforcers start dying one by one, suspicion starts to fly as thick as the dust on the street. But no one suspects the stranger.
One day, there is a showdown between the stranger and the man who rules the town with fear, and only one of them will be left standing.

This is a tale of secrets, hope and the bravery it takes to stand up to cruelty.

Cheaper than a burger, you can find it at Smashwords, Amazon or other fine retailers.