Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Maggie by Mya O'Malley


Titles: Maggie & Naomi
Author: Mya O'Malley
Series: Maggie Trilogy #1 & 2
Genre: Paranormal, Romantic Mystery, Thriller
Release Dates: Maggie - August 12, 2016
Naomi - March 23, 2017

Maggie #1
Summary:
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to share your home with an unearthly spirit who can’t find closure? Living on the edge of a cemetery with souls dating back to the 1700s would be enough to spook anyone, but Naomi finds it oddly romantic, and becomes inspired to write her next novel. Why not, when her muse, Maggie, calls to her from beyond her own window?

After all, the story couldn't possibly be as complicated as Naomi's own love life. Torn between Ryan, the mysterious and seemingly perfect man she just started dating, and Bryce, the sexy single dad who recently moved in next door, Naomi must navigate the tangled web of dating—all while trying to solve the mystery of Maggie's death.

When things turn dangerous, Naomi quickly learns whom she can trust and, more importantly, whom she can’t. Will she be able to write Maggie’s story and finally give Maggie the peace she deserves?






Naomi #2
Summary:
Naomi has a knack for attracting attention from ethereal beings—whether she wants it or not. Newly engaged to her sexy neighbor, Bryce, she has little time to celebrate and plan for her upcoming wedding, because no sooner does she wrap up a heartbreaking cold case than she finds herself right back where she started, searching for answers alongside ghostly spirits.

This time, however, Naomi learns that things are not what they seem as a man from her past quickly becomes her worst nightmare. If she’s not careful, this man might crush her hopes and dreams forever as he proves to be her most difficult opponent yet.

Still, Naomi tries to focus on her relationship with Bryce. Can it withstand head games and cruel intentions? Naomi makes it her mission to keep Bryce and his daughter safe from harm, but will true love be tough enough to withstand her adversaries?

Naomi must keep her eyes wide open and question everything— and everyone—in order to survive.

Entangled Souls #3(Late 2018)
Summary:
If Naomi thought solving three murders was going to earn her a respite from the spirits who flock to her for guidance and resolution, she couldn't have been more wrong. This time around, helping her friend, Officer Miriam Marty, solve a particularly daunting case is just the beginning.

Newly married to her soul mate, Bryce, Naomi figured she could settle in and enjoy the first few months of marriage without the all-consuming task of helping the spirits around her find the closure they so desperately seek. She should have known there was no chance of normalcy, though - even her stepdaughter Holly's quirky friend, Lillie, adds to the confusion.

This time, Naomi's challenge is unique. Not only does she have to put her heart and soul into helping an intricate, beautiful ghost, but this precious soul soon teaches Naomi that her path in life, her fate, has led her to precisely where she needs to be.

Everything about Naomi's past experiences with the paranormal crashes together as Naomi becomes entwined in the entangled plot that has become her life, alongside the unique souls that complete her destiny.


Maggie #1
Naomi sighed as she thought about the outcome of Maggie’s story. Her body had been found washed up near the river. Awful. What a horrible thing. The location of the body had been a place where people walked along a path by the river. Naomi herself had been close to the crime scene many times, unaware of the traumatic events that had taken place there. 

No clues, other than it appeared to be a drowning. Evidence pointed to Maggie going out on a friend’s boat, perhaps, and falling overboard. 

But how?

And where was the friend? It didn’t make sense. A piece of this puzzle was missing; a rather large piece. 

A cold mystery was all that was left of Maggie’s story. 

Come on, come on. Maggie. Talk to me. Tell me what happened to you. What kind of girl were you? 

A sudden screech sounded from the window. Zelda. How was she supposed to concentrate on writing when Zelda kept intruding with her unpredictable behavior? She needed to write Maggie’s story. It was calling to her. If she didn’t write the story, she wouldn’t be able to write anything else. 

Cries filled the air. This was ridiculous. Naomi wouldn’t even waste her time trying to figure out the cat’s problem. “You’re a piece of work, you know that?” Zelda cried out in response. Now the cat had broken her concentration. 

Naomi needed to get out and clear her mind. She grabbed her notebook and her jacket from the hook in the entrance foyer. 

Once she was out of the house and down the narrow path heading into the graveyard, she turned around. It wasn’t surprising to see Zelda pacing back and forth on the windowsill. Crazy. 

After walking around for a few minutes, she was pulled toward Maggie’s grave once more. 

“Maggie, tell me your story. I’m listening.” Naomi didn’t actually expect to hear a response, but she knelt down and listened. She strained to hear the slightest sound, anything at all that would open up this mystery. 

Of course, she heard nothing. 

Nothing but the faraway sound of cars passing down the one-way street adjacent to the cemetery, then the faint cry of a crow overhead. Lifting her head to the darkening sky above, Naomi could have sworn the crow was staring right at her. Was she in the middle of her own eerie dream? Brushing off the uneasy feeling, Naomi shook her head and sat in the grass. 

“Was it your ex? Was it a stranger? Or was your death your own doing?” Naomi’s fingers touched the cold stone, running up and down the gravestone. A sharp crackling from behind caused Naomi to spin around. There was nobody there. 

Naomi would have sworn she heard someone. Perhaps it had been a darting squirrel or other small animal. Her attention returned to Maggie’s grave once more. Call it a gut feeling, but Naomi was convinced there was foul play at work here. It could be her overactive writer’s imagination, but instinctively she knew Maggie had been killed by someone. 

Most likely someone close to her. Wasn’t that usually the story? 

More determined than ever to solve this crime, Naomi stood up and brushed her pants off. She leaned over and spoke directly to Maggie’s headstone. 

“I will figure this out, girl. Just give me some time. I’ll find out who was responsible for this and you’ll give me my story. How does that sound? Fair?” 

The sound came from the woods this time. Whatever was creating the sound remained hidden.

Naomi #2
She sensed it before she heard the news. She could feel it deep in her bones. All night long she had tossed and turned, unable to find sleep. 

Nick.

“No,” Naomi wailed into her pillow, pounding her fists. 

No. But, of course, she knew it was true. After all, she had a sixth sense about things such as this. Damn, Nick. Why? How?

It had been several months since she had taken in his disheveled form, those cowardly eyes scanning her face, pleading for forgiveness from the other side of the depressing, stained, plastic divider at the county jail. 

Forgiveness that was difficult to give, although she had been working on it. Too late, Nick. It’s way too late for you now. Part of Naomi’s heart ached for Nick’s troubled soul. For the troubled child he had once been. 

Another part turned cold as she conjured up his face in her mind. As she had woken from a fitful night’s sleep, the image of Nick crying out, lost in the empty dark place where challenged souls lacked peace and closure, was too overwhelming to dismiss as a bad dream. 

“Bryce.” Naomi spoke his name aloud, even though her fiancĂ© was most likely sound asleep at his house just up the dirt road. 

She needed Bryce. 

But Naomi knew Bryce would have to wait. Right after her first cup of coffee, she would have to call Officer Marty to confirm the facts of what she already knew to be true. 

How had it happened? Possibilities swirled through her mind. Endless scenarios came forth. It could be anything. Nick had been doing time for his part in the cover-up of Maggie Field’s death. Prisons could be dangerous, particularly for someone like Nick, a man who struggled to keep his emotions in check and often had difficulty conforming to the rules. 

One with a dark, menacing presence. 

One with attitude. 

Memories of the not so distant past slammed Naomi. Images of Ryan and Maggie . . . 
Maggie. 
The ghost that had all but consumed her. Maggie had reached out to Naomi, demanding peace. Naomi admitted to herself that she had become obsessed at that time in her life. Preoccupied with putting both Maggie and Ryan to rest. Luckily, Bryce was loyal and patient to the core during the first hectic months of their new relationship. 

What would he say now, knowing that a spirit was back? Knowing that this time it wasn’t the sweet spirit of a girl named Maggie or a quirky, kindhearted man that needed her help? 

This time it was worse, far worse. 

This time the spirit was unsettled, tortured—and to make matters even more daunting . . . 

He was her ex-boyfriend. 

Would Bryce be as understanding about Nick as he had been with Maggie and Ryan? Hopping up out of her bed to make her cup of coffee, Naomi figured she was about to find out. 

*****

Moments after she hung up the phone with her friend, Officer Miriam Marty, Naomi reached for her coffee mug but then placed it back on the counter with a gentle thud. 

Damn, Nick. 

Miriam had confirmed Naomi’s worst suspicions and provided the bare facts surrounding Nick’s death. 

He was, indeed, dead. But the strange thing about it was that it appeared to have been intentional on his part. It was too early to say, but Miriam suspected that traces of drugs would be found in his system.

An overdose? Could he have intentionally taken his own life? No, that didn’t sound right. Then again, how well did Naomi even know Nick anymore? For that matter, how well had she ever known him? Naomi supposed it was easy enough for an inmate to have the means to obtain drugs. And, let’s face it, prison life could be grueling. 

No, no. Something didn’t feel right about this. Nick’s sentence was only to last just a few more weeks, why would he purposely harm himself? As Naomi tried to make sense of the news, she paced the floor. Zelda, her loyal feline companion, weaved in and out of her legs as Naomi stopped and grabbed her coffee mug from the table. 

Sharp rapping on the door startled Naomi, causing her to spill her coffee on her blouse. “Shoot!” 

Voicing her own displeasure at nearly being stepped on, Zelda screeched as she tore into the living room. Naomi snatched a napkin, wiping at her top as she made her way to the door. 

“Are you ready?” Bryce raised an eyebrow as Naomi stepped to the side to allow him through the front door. He leaned over and placed a quick kiss on her forehead. 

“Ready?” 

“Ah, yes. Remember? We were going to grab a bite and then head over to the trail for a walk?” 

Yes. That’s right. She and Bryce had plans this morning. With everything going on, she had clearly forgotten. 

“I . . . I’m so sorry. Give me a minute to change my shirt. Sit, I’ll be right back.” She scurried up the stairs to her bedroom to change. This could be a good thing, the time alone with Bryce. His young daughter, Holly, was in school, and she could have Bryce’s full attention. 

Dressed in a clean shirt, Naomi sprinted down the stairs and grabbed her sneakers. She attempted her best smile as she tied the laces. “Almost ready,” Naomi managed.

“What’s with you? Why are you out of breath?” Bryce cocked his head as he studied Naomi. 

“Just excited to spend the morning with you,” she offered a bit too cheerily, glancing up at him as she felt nagging guilt rise in her throat. He wouldn’t be happy about the news regarding Nick, and that was putting it mildly. He simply couldn’t even begin to understand. He would tell her to leave it alone, not to get caught up in somebody else’s problems. 

Naomi swallowed hard and gripped Bryce’s warm hand as they made their way to his truck. Once inside, Naomi glanced at her fiancĂ© and then gazed down at her lap. 

“Bryce?” she whispered. 

Concern etched his handsome face. “What is it? What’s wrong?” He reached for her hands. 

“We need to talk.”


Maggie #1

Naomi #2

Author Bio:
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and step-daughters. The family also consists of a boxer named Destiny and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students.

Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her eleventh novel.


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Maggie #1
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Friday, January 19, 2018

Friday's Film Adaptation: The Gift of Cochise/Hondo by Louis L'Amour


Blogger Note: As I understand, the film Hondo was adapted from the short story The Gift of Cochise and then Louis L'Amour wrote the novelization of the film into the novel Hondo.  The Gift of Cochise is included in The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour, Volume 1: Frontier Stories, so I have included both books in this Friday's Film Adaptation. The excerpt included is from the novelization, Hondo.

The Gift of Cochise in The Collected Short Stories of Louis L'Amour, Volume 1: Frontier Stories
Summary:
With more than 120 titles still in print, Louis L'Amour is recognized the world over as one of the most prolific and popular American authors in history. Though he met with phenomenal success in every genre he tried, the form that put him on the map was the short story. Now this great writer--Wall Street Journal recently compared with Jack London and Robert Louis Stevenson--will receive his due as a great storyteller. This volume kicks off a series that will, when complete, anthologize all of L'Amour's short fiction, volume by handsome volume.

Here, in Volume One, is a treasure-trove of 35 frontier tales for his millions of fans and for those who have yet to discover L'Amour's thrilling prose--and his vital role in capturing the spirit of the Old West for generations to come.

This collection includes:
The Gift of Cochise • That Man from The Bitter Sands • Desperate Men • Dutchman's Flatt • From the Listening Hills • Trap of Gold • Riches Beyond Dream • The Lonesome Gods • The Skull and the Arrow • End of the Drive • Caprock Rancher • Dead End Drift • One Night Stand • Marshal of Canyon Gap • A Husband for Janey • Elisha Comes to Red Horse • The Courting of Griselda • Booty for a Badman • The Defense of Sentinel • The One for the Mohave Kid • A Mule for Santa Fe • War Party • Ironwood Station • Alkali Basin • Stage to Willowspring • Let the Cards Decide • Duffy's Man • The Strong Shall Live • To Make A Stand • Get Out of Town • One for the Pot • Beyond the Chaparral • Home is the Hunter • Rustler Roundup • The Moon of the Trees Broken by Snow

Hondo
Summary:
He was etched by the desert’s howling winds, a big, broad-shouldered man who knew the ways of the Apache and the ways of staying alive. She was a woman alone raising a young son on a remote Arizona ranch. And between Hondo Lane and Angie Lowe was the warrior Vittoro, whose people were preparing to rise against the white men. Now the pioneer woman, the gunman, and the Apache warrior are caught in a drama of love, war, and honor.




Chapter 1
He rolled the cigarette in his lips, liking the taste of the tobacco, squinting his eyes against the sun glare. His buckskin shirt, seasoned by sun, rain, and sweat, smelled stale and old. His jeans had long since faded to a neutral color that lost itself against the desert.

He was a big man, wide-shouldered, with the lean, hard-boned face of the desert rider. There was no softness in him. His toughness was ingrained and deep, without cruelty, yet quick, hard, and dangerous. Whatever wells of gentleness might lie within him were guarded and deep.

An hour passed and there was no more dust, so he knew he was in trouble. He had drawn up short of the crest where his eyes could just see over the ridge, his horse crowded against a dark clump of juniper where he was invisible to any eye not in the immediate vicinity.

The dust had show itself, continued briefly, then vanished, and that meant that he also had been seen.

If they were white men fearful of attack, they were now holed up in some arroyo. If they were Apaches, they would be trying to close in.

He studied the terrain with care. Patience at such a time was more than a virtue, it was the price of survival. Often the first to move was the first to die.

Hondo Lane took out the makings and built another cigarette. When he struck the match he held it well back in the foliage of the juniper. He drew deep on the cigarette, returning his attention to the terrain.

The rough-looking mongrel dog that followed him had lowered himself into the soft earth beneath another juniper a dozen yards away. The dog was a big brute, gaunt from running.

There were junipers beyond the ridge. Hondo Lane crossed the ridge into the junipers and hesitated briefly, studying the country. His every instinct told him those riders had been Apaches and that they were somewhere close by. Yet the dog had given no sign.

He slid his Winchester from its scabbard and rode with it across the saddle, keeping his horse to a walk. He went down the slope to the river, knowing there was no way of avoiding crossing. He used every bit of cover and changed direction frequently. The dog went along with him and together they crossed.

As the buckskin went up the bank, Hondo heard the twang of a bowstring and felt the buckskin bunch its muscles under the impact of the arrow. As the horse started to fall, Hondo Lane rolled free.

He hit the sand on his shoulder and rolled swiftly behind a drift log. When he stopped rolling he was looking past the butt end of the log with is rifle in position. He saw a movement of brown and his finger tightened and the rifle leaped in his hands. He heard the whop of the striking bullet and saw the Apache roll over, eyes wide to the sun.

As he fired, he moved, getting into a new position in course grass with almost no cover. And then he waited.

A fly lighted on the back of his hand, he heard the sound of water running over stones. Around him were the gray bones of a long dead tree.

There was no movement; only a small bird started to land in a clump of brush, then veered away. He fired suddenly into the brush, spacing his shots. He heard a faint gasping cry and fired again at the same spot. He saw a moccasin toe dig spasmodically into the sand, then he saw it slowly relax.

Two Indians, or more? He lay still, ears alert to sound. A tiny lizard appeared on a branch near him and stared, wide eyed. He dried a palm, then flicked a stone into the brush twenty feet away. He heard it fall, and no sound followed.

Probably not more that two. His mouth felt dry and he dearly wanted a drink. Yet he waited, wanting to take no chance, and knowing too well the patience of the Apache.

Only after several minutes did he ease away from the log and circle to get a better look. The Apache lay still, his lower back bathed in blood that glistened redly in the hot afternoon sun. Hondo Lane got to his feet and moved closer. The bullet had struck the Indian in the chest. Lowering the butt of his rifle, Hondo took off his hat and mopped his brow with a handkerchief. He looked again at the sprawled brown body of the Indian, then glanced over at the other. Both are dead. . . and this was not a good place to be.

The dog stopped under a tree and lowered himself to the ground, watching him. Hondo glanced at his dead horse, then stripped it of saddle, bridle, and saddlebags. It was a load, but swinging them together, he shouldered them and started off through the trees.

Reaching the stream at a bend, Hondo Lane walked into the water on an angle that pointed upstream. When he was knee-deep he turned and walked downstream, then emerged and kept to rocks along the stream. He used every device to hide his trail, changing his direction with the skill of an Apache, and finally he reached a ridge, which he followed, just below the crest.

The sun sank and the long shadows crept out from the hills, but Hondo Lane did not rest. He moved on, checking distance by the stars, and continuing along the ridge. When he had walked two hours into the night, he finally lowered his heaving burden to the ground and rubbed his shoulder.

He had come to a halt in a tiny circle of rocks among scattered pinons. Unrolling his blankets beneath a tree, he made a quick supper of a piece of hardtack and jerked beef. Then he rolled in his blanket and slept.

At dawn he was awake. He did not awaken gradually, but his eyes opened quickly to consciousness and he listened, then glanced at the dog. It lay some yards away, head resting on paws. Hondo relaxed and swiftly rolled his blankets.

He built a small fire under a pinion so what little smoke there was would be diffused by rising through the branches. He made coffee, ate more jerky and hardtack, then eliminated all evidence of his fire. Carefully he removed evidence of his resting place and tracks. Then, shouldering his saddle and saddlebags he started along the ridge.

The morning air was fresh and cool. He walked with a steady stride, rarely pausing to rest. At midmorning he heard birds chirping and went toward the sound. A shallow basin in the rock held water. He dropped to his belly and drank, then moved back, and the dog moved in, lapping the water gratefully, but with eyes wary.

Among the rocks near the water Hondo Lane smoked a cigarette and studied the country. There was no movement but an occasional buzzard. He drank again, then shouldered his saddle and moved on.

Once he stopped abruptly. He had found the old track of a shod horse. The track was days old, and from its appearance had been made before the rain. Little was left but the indentations. Thoughtfully he studied the terrain around him. It was an extremely unlikely place for a rider to be.

Shouldering his burden once more, Hondo backtrailed the hoof marks, finding two more tracks, then losing them on lower ground where the rain had washed them out. Finally, making a guess, he quartered on his route and cut across the shallow valley, moving toward a place of vantage from which he could see the country. Suddenly the dog stiffened.

Hondo eased himself back to the ground. There was sparse grass where he lay, a few scattered chunks of rock. He lowered his saddle among the rocks and lay perfectly still. The dog, a few yards away, lay absolutely immobile. He growled, low and deep.

"Sam!" Hondo's whisper was quick, commanding. The growl subsided.

Several minutes he lay still, and then he heard the movement. There were nine Apaches, riding in a loose bunch, heading in a direction roughly parallel to his own. He lay still, avoiding looking directly at them for fear of attracting their attention.

Nine. At this distance he wouldn't have a chance. He might get three or four before they hit him, and then that would be all. Nor was there any shelter here.

He listened to their movement. They did not talk. He heard the rustle of the horses, through the coarse growth, an occasional click of hoof on stone. And then they were gone.

He lay still for several minutes, then got up and cut across their trail, still occupied with those shod hoof tracks. They had all been made at the same time. This meant a white rider had spent some time in the area. He might still be there. One horse could mean another.

A few miles farther and suddenly the cliff broke sharply off and he was looking into a deep basin at the bottom of which lay a small ranch. It was green, lovely, and peaceful, and with a sigh he started down the slope, walking more slowly.

Below him, near the worn poles of the corral, a small boy was playing. Suddenly, attracted by some sound, he lifted his head and looked up the slope at the descending man.

"Mommy! Mommy!"

A woman came to the door of the cabin, shading her eyes against the sun. Then she walked out to the child and spoke to him, and together they watched the man on the hillside. He walked still more slowly, the fatigue of the long days and his heavy burden at last catching up with even his iron strength. She hesitated, then turned quickly and walked back to the cabin.

Hanging in a holster from a peg on the cabin wall was a huge Walker Colt. She lifted the hefty weapon from its holster and walked back to the door, placing it under a dish towel on the table were it would be immediately available.

She put her hand on the child's head. "You let Mommy do the talking," she said quietly. "Remember!"

"Yes, Mommy."

Hondo reached the bottom of the slope and walked slowly toward the cabin. As he drew near his eyes went from the house to the corrals and the open-face shed that sheltered an anvil, a forge, and a few tools. Not even the presence of the woman and child in the doorway dispelled his suspicion.

"Remember," the woman whispered, "no talking."

Hondo lowered his saddle to the ground under the shed and took off his hat as they walked toward him. He mopped his face. "Morning, Ma'am. Howdy, son."

"Good morning. You look like you've had trouble."

"Yep. I lost my horse while I was gettin' away from Indians a few days ago. Made a dry camp above Lano last night." He gestured toward the dog. "Then Sam here smelled Apaches, so I thought I'd make some more miles."

"But why? We're at peace with the Apaches. We have a treaty."

Hondo ignored her comment, looking around at the stables. There were several horses in the corral. "Yes, ma'am, and now I've got to get me a new horse -- borrow or buy one. I'll pay you in United States scrip. I'm ridin' dispatch for General Crook. My name's Lane."

"I'm Mrs. Lowe. Angie Lowe.

"Can you sell or hire me a horse, Mrs. Lowe?"

"Of course. But I've only got the plow horses and two that are only half broken. The cowboy that was training them for me got hurt and had to go to town."

They walked toward the corral together. Two of the horses were obviously mustangs, wild and unruly. Hondo Lane moved around, studying them carefully. Both were good animals.

"I'm sorry my husband isn't here to help you. He's up in the hills working some cattle. He would pick this day to be away when we have a visitor."

"I'd enjoy meetin' him, ma'am." He glanced toward the boy, who was walking toward Sam. "I wouldn't pet that dog, son. He doesn't take to petting. And now ma'am, if you'll allow me, I'll give those horses a try."

"Of course. And I'll get you some food. I imagine you're hungry."

Lane grinned. "Thank you. I could eat."

Lane hesitated before going to the corral. There was work that needed to be done around here. The little things that are done by a man constantly living around were undone. He rolled a smoke and lighted it, then leaned on the corral bars. The two mustangs moved warily, edging away from the man smell and the strangeness. There was a lineback that he liked, a dusky, powerful horse, still wearing his shaggy winter coat.

Lane went through the bars and into the corral, rope in hand, cigarette dangling from the corner of his mouth. The horses moved away from him, circling against the far side of the small corral. He watched them moving, liking the action of the lineback, and studying the movements of both horses.

He talked quietly to the horses and dropped his cigarette into the dust. He was conscious that the boy was perched on the corral, watching with excitement. Dust arose from the corral, and he shook out a loop. The lineback dun tossed his head and rolled his eyes, moving away from the threat of the loop.

Hondo smiled, liking the horse's spirit. He spoke softly, then moved in. When he made his throw it was quick, easy, and deft. Leading him to the corral bars, Hondo talked softly to him, stroking his neck and flanks. The mustang shied nervously, then began to quiet down.

Making no quick movements, Hondo walked to the bars and crawled through. When he had his saddle and bridle he walked back, dropped them near the horse, talked to him a little, and then after rubbing his hand over the dun's back he put the saddle blanket on him. Then the saddle. The horse fought the bit a little, but accepted it finally.

Once, glancing toward the house, he saw Angie Lowe watching from the doorway.

Leaving the saddle and bridle on the horse so the animal could get used to them, Hondo left the corral. He stood beside the boy, letting his eyes trace the line of the hills. It was amazing to find this woman and her child here, in Apache country.

Suddenly curious, he walked toward the stable, then circled around the bank of the stream and back to the house. The only horse tracks entering or leaving since the rain were his own. Thoughtfully he studied the hills again, and, turning, walking back to the house.

"There was a tin washbasin on a bench beside the door, a clean towel and a bar of homemade soap beside it. Removing his hat and shirt, he washed, then combed his hair. Donning the shirt again, he stepped inside.

"Smells mighty good, ma'am," he said, glancing at the stove. "Man gets tired of his own fixin'."

"I'm sorry my husband picked today to go hunting those lost calves. He would have enjoyed having a man to talk to. We welcome company."

Lane pulled back a chair and sat down opposite the plate and cup. "Must be right lonely here. Specially for a woman."

"Oh, I don't mind. I was raised here."

Sam came up to the door and hesitated, then came inside, moving warily. After a minute he lay down, but he kept his attention on Hondo. He seemed somehow remote and dangerous. There was nothing about the dog to inspire affection, except, perhaps, his very singleness of purpose. There was a curious affinity between man and dog. Both were untamed, both were creatures born and bred to fight, honed and tempered fine by hot winds and long desert stretches, untrusting, dangerous, yet good companions in a hard land.

"What can I feed your dog."

"Nothin', thanks. He makes out by himself. He can outrun any rabbit in the territory."

"Oh, it's no trouble at all." She turned back to the shove and picked up a dish, looking around for scraps.

"If you don't mind, ma'am. I'd rather you didn't feed him."

Curiously she looked around. The more she saw of this man, the more she was impressed by his strangeness. Yet oddly enough, she felt safer with him here. And he was unlike anyone she had ever know, even in this country of strange and dangerous men. She had the feeling that he was a man that lived in continual expectation of trouble, never reaching for it, yet always and forever prepared. Her eyes dropped to the worn holster and the polished butt of the Colt. Both had seen service, and the service of wear and use, not merely years.

"Oh, I think I understand. You don't want him to get in the habit of taking food from anyone but you. Well, I'll just fix it and you can hand it to him."

"No, ma'am. I don't feed him either."

When her eyes showed their doubt, he said, "Sam's independent. He doesn't need anybody. I want him to stay that way. It's a good way."

He helped himself to another piece of meat, to more potatoes and gravy.

"But everyone needs someone.'

"Yes, ma'am." Hondo continued eating. "Too bad, isn't it."

She moved back to the stove and added a stick of wood. She was puzzled by him, yet there was a curious attraction, too. Was it simply that he was a man? That the woman in her needed his presence here? That the place had been needing a man too long?

"You're a good cook, ma'am." Hondo pushed back from the table and got to his feet.

"Thank you." She was pleased, and showed it. She smoothed her one good apron with her hands.

"A woman should be a good cook."

He walked to the door and hesitated there, looking over the yard, then at the trees, the arroyo, and finally the hills. As he did this he stood just within the door, partly concealed from outside by the doorjamb. Then he put on his hat, and turning he said, "I'm a good cook myself."

Film
An Army man takes a widow and her son under his wing in Apache territory.

Release Date: November 27, 1953
Release Time: 84 minutes

Cast:
John Wayne as Hondo Lane
Geraldine Page as Angie Lowe
Ward Bond as Buffalo Baker
Michael Pate as Vittorio
James Arness as Lennie
Rodolfo Acosta as Silva
Leo Gordon as Ed Lowe
Tom Irish as Lieutenant McKay
Lee Aaker as Johnny Lowe
Paul Fix as Major Sherry
Rayford Barnes as Pete
Frank McGrath as Lowe's Partner
Morry Ogden as Horse Rider – Opening Scene
Chuck Roberson as Kloori – Apache warrior

Awards:
1953 Academy Awards
Best Supporting Actress - Geraldine Page - Nominated



Author Bio:
"I think of myself in the oral tradition--as a troubadour, a village tale-teller, the man in the shadows of a campfire. That's the way I'd like to be remembered--as a storyteller. A good storyteller."

It is doubtful that any author could be as at home in the world re-created in his novels as Louis Dearborn L'Amour. Not only could he physically fill the boots of the rugged characters he wrote about, but he literally "walked the land my characters walk." His personal experiences as well as his lifelong devotion to historical research combined to give Mr. L'Amour the unique knowledge and understanding of people, events, and the challenge of the American frontier that became the hallmarks of his popularity.

Of French-Irish descent, Mr. L'Amour could trace his own in North America back to the early 1600s and follow their steady progression westward, "always on the frontier." As a boy growing up in Jamestown, North Dakota, he absorbed all he could about his family's frontier heritage, including the story of his great-grandfather who was scalped by Sioux warriors.

Spurred by an eager curiosity and desire to broaden his horizons, Mr. L'Amour left home at the age of fifteen and enjoyed a wide variety of jobs, including seaman, lumberjack, elephant handler, skinner of dead cattle, and miner, and was an officer in the transportation corps during World War II. During his "yondering" days he also circled the world on a freighter, sailed a dhow on the Red Sea, was shipwrecked in the West Indies and stranded in the Mojave Desert. He won fifty-one of fifty-nine fights as a professional boxer and worked as a journalist and lecturer. He was a voracious reader and collector of rare books. His personal library contained 17,000 volumes.

Mr. L'Amour "wanted to write almost from the time I could talk." After developing a widespread following for his many frontiers and adventure stories written for fiction magazines, Mr. L'Amour published his first full length novel, Hondo, in the United States in 1953. Every one of his more than 120 books is in print; there are more than 300 million copies of his books in print worldwide, making him one of the bestselling authors in modern literary history. His books have been translated into twenty languages, and more than forty-five of his novels and stories have been made into feature films and television movies.

The recipient of many great honor and awards, in 1983 Mr. L'Amour became the first novelist to ever to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal by the United States Congress in honor of his life's work. In 1984 he was also awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan.

Louis L'Amour died on June 10, 1988. His wife, Kathy, and their two children, Beau and Angelique, carry the L'Amour publishing tradition forward with new books written by the author during his lifetime to be published by Bantam.


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The Collected Short Stories Volume 1: Frontier Stories
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Hondo
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Release Blitz: The Station by Keira Andrews

Title: The Station
Author: Keira Andrews
Genre: M/M Romance
Re-Release Date: January 18, 2018
Cover Design: Dar Albert/Wicked Smart Designs
Summary:
Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster spied on stable master Patrick Callahan mastering another man, he’s longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death for his crime, Colin speaks up in his defense and confesses his own sinful nature. They’re soon banished to the faraway prison colony of Australia.

Patrick never asked for Colin’s help, and now he’s stuck with the pampered fool. While it’s true that being transported to Australia is a far cry from the luxury Colin is accustomed to, he’s determined to make the best of it and prove himself. Although Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale, he’s inexorably drawn to sweet, optimistic Colin.

From the miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must rely on each other. Danger lurks everywhere, and when they unexpectedly get the chance to escape to a new life as cowboys, they’ll need each other more than ever.

This historical gay romance from Keira Andrews features an age difference, an eager virgin, hurt/comfort, and of course a happy ending.

Original Review April 2015:
This book is the story of Colin and Patrick and how life doesn't always end up the way you plan or imagine.  How one moment can change a person's life in ways that were not even thought possible.  How a virtual death sentence can turn into the best thing that ever happened to you.  How stepping up and doing what's right even at the cost of your own peril.  This story is a beautifully written tale of awakening a love that helps not only yourself but those around you in a time when male/male relationships were not only thought of as immoral but also very illegal.  The Station is so much more than just a gay romance, it's also a story of friendship and finding oneself in a foreign land.

RATING: 


Waiting only a moment after knocking, Colin’s mother, Elizabeth, entered his room. Colin glanced over from the window seat. He’d been watching Patrick in the meadow exercising the young colt born several days before. “Yes, Mother?”

Elizabeth was forty-two and quite beautiful, with a regal nose and posture and the same thick, chestnut brown hair as Colin. “You haven’t bathed yet? Guests will be arriving within the hour.”

“I was about to, if you’d leave me to my privacy.”

When he wasn’t studying or walking the grounds, Colin whiled away the hours sitting by his window reading novels of thrilling adventures in faraway lands. Sometimes Patrick would appear in the meadow, training the horses. Colin’s book would lie forgotten on his lap as he watched Patrick at work. He seemed as if he belonged in one of the fictional tales Colin devoured. Colin could easily imagine him with sword in hand.

“Of course, dear. I had Charles press your jacket. It’s hanging there.” She pointed across the room, where, sure enough, his formal wear waited. “Katherine was partial to that one, if I do recall.”

Colin couldn’t hold back a sigh. “Yes.”

“Darling, you gave up on Katherine far too easily. Tonight will be another chance for you to win her hand. You’re quite a catch, you know. Off to Cambridge soon. Katherine will want to ensnare you now.”

“Mother, Katherine Crawford has turned her favor elsewhere. She’s moved on.” So had he. Most definitely.

Elizabeth’s pretty face pinched into a frown. “It’s an honor that the Crawfords are attending this evening. You will be on your best behavior. I don’t know what exactly you did to ruin things with Katherine, but tonight you will do your utmost to undo it.”

“Yes, Mother.” He would attempt no such thing, but Colin had learned years before that arguing with his parents got him nowhere. Soon he’d be at Cambridge and he would be able to make his own decisions. Soon he’d have a new life.

Mollified, Elizabeth closed the door behind her. Flopping down on his bed, Colin thought of Katherine and cringed. It wasn’t until a most ill-fated outing with Katherine Crawford several months ago that Colin had admitted to himself that his interest in Patrick was far from intellectual.

Katherine was a beauty, all glossy blonde hair and moist, pink lips. For some reason Colin couldn’t fathom, she had shown an interest in him at a holiday gathering down the road. The courting had begun soon thereafter, with Colin escorting Katherine on various activities. Unlike William, who railed against the inconveniences of chaperones, Colin was grateful for the matrons’ presence.

He liked Katherine well enough. She was intelligent and kind and pleasing to look at. But Colin knew something was missing. Katherine didn’t set his blood on fire, and he rarely thought of her when she was absent.

The absences were as long as Colin could manage while still maintaining the guise of courting. He was a perfect gentleman at all times with Katherine, which he found a simple feat. William and his school chums all needled him in private and made winking suggestions of what was actually going on between him and Katherine, and Colin let them believe what they wanted.

The Lancasters and Crawfords had both been guests at a country estate for an Easter celebration. Colin’s sister, Rebecca, was delighted. On the ride over, she had chattered constantly about the beautiful Katherine and how she might one day be her sister-in-law. Colin loved his sister dearly but wished she’d find a new interest.

Colin had been fast asleep the first night at the country estate when Katherine crept into his room. Despite his protests about the impropriety, she’d insisted he dress and accompany her for a moonlight stroll. He hadn’t really a choice.

It went badly.

Despite Katherine’s obvious beauty and heaving bosom, Colin had remained utterly uninterested. He’d tried. Truly, he did. Under a large willow tree, Colin had kissed Katherine and caressed her soft skin under her skirt, her hand firm on his wrist, guiding him. He had been unable to get excited, and when she’d reached for him to find him flaccid, Katherine Crawford had had quite enough.

She’d stomped back to her room and avoided Colin for the remainder of the weekend. Colin could hardly meet anyone’s eyes. His family had obviously required an explanation, and he’d had none.

When they returned home after a torturous journey, Colin had jumped from the carriage, eager to be away from his inquiring parents and sister, who’d demanded to know how Colin had made such a mess of things. Colin had almost barreled straight into Patrick, who had come to take the horses. At the sight of him, his lean muscles, his maleness, Colin had been struck with the vivid memories of what he’d witnessed in the stable that day long ago. He had to bite his tongue to stop himself from begging Patrick to take him into some dark corner and have his way with him.

That was what he wanted. He would never want the Katherine Crawfords of the world. No matter how beautiful, how rich, how ideal for a wife. Colin wanted a man. Oh, God, did he want a man.

“Can I be of assistance?” Patrick had affected a guileless expression, and Colin had realized he’d been staring dumbly.

Awkward and ready to crawl out of his own skin, Colin had mumbled something and hurried off. All the denials he’d repeated to himself had finally been silenced. He’d locked himself in his room, took himself in hand, and, muffling his face in a pillow as he thought of Patrick, attained the most satisfying release he’d experienced since that day at sixteen years old, hiding in the stable.

Remembering now, Colin stroked himself quickly, careful not to muss himself too much before the party. He thought of Patrick, of his Gaelic lullaby and of his grunts as he’d penetrated the man in the stable years before. As he rubbed himself with one hand, legs spread, Colin caressed his lips with his fingertips, imagining what it would be like to be kissed—really kissed. He didn’t even know if men kissed each other, but he would like to try it.

Sometime later, Colin straightened his navy tie and vest under his dark jacket and peered into the full-length mirror in the corner of his bedroom. His large eyes were a deep brown that matched his hair, and his jaw was narrow. His nose was straight and unremarkable. Katherine had once told him that his smile turned her knees to jelly and his eyes were bottomless pools she could stare into for eternity.

Colin doubted it, somehow.

He decided he looked as presentable as he was able to and went to join the party. Naturally, the first person he saw was Katherine. Dressed to the nines in an ornate, yellow, bell-shaped gown and looking lovely, she was laughing gaily at something William had said. Her hand was placed just so on his arm, and Colin saw the flash of her eyes as she spotted him. She laughed again, even louder.

Colin felt like laughing himself. If she only knew. Before he could do anything, Rebecca towed him into the drawing room, her voice low and urgent, grip firm. “Honestly, I don’t know what William is thinking. You mustn’t pay them any mind, Colin. Are you very upset?” Her pretty face, very much like their mother’s, creased with worry.

Shaking his head, Colin kissed his dear sister’s cheek. “I won’t give it another thought. William is welcome to her. Perhaps Father will take some solace if the family is connected to the Crawfords in the end.”

Rebecca, fourteen and very dramatic, hugged him tightly. “Oh, Colin. You’re ever so brave.”

Biting back his mirth, Colin thanked her and pointed her toward her newly arriving friends from down the road. He made his rounds of the soiree, shaking hands and making polite conversation. Dinner was served, and Colin listened to a neighbor tell him about what a wonderful time he’d have at Cambridge. Colin hoped it would be true. The one thing dampening his excitement about finally getting away from home was that he’d also be leaving Patrick behind.

As he spooned his custard, Colin brooded. He knew it was deeply foolish, since the strange affection and desire he had for Patrick was certainly one-sided. He’d only been a child when they were friends. Even if by some miracle Patrick desired him now that he was grown, would Colin really have the nerve to lie with another man? His trousers tightened at the notion, and he was glad for the napkin across his lap.

After dinner, Colin endured the ladies’ singing and gentlemen’s card games. Unable to shake Patrick from his mind as the night wore on, he found himself walking to the stable, unable to stay away. He was almost there when a cry came up. A man burst out from the large wooden doors and fled across the meadow, barely visible in the darkness. In the lantern light from the stable, Patrick tumbled outside, followed by two men Colin recognized as shopkeepers in the next county. Brothers named Harris, he thought.

Colin realized he was running and skidded to a halt just as one of the brothers landed a vicious kick to Patrick’s ribs. “Stop!” Colin shoved the man aside. Blood already streamed from Patrick’s nose and mouth.

The man ignored Colin as if he were naught but a fly, and kicked Patrick again. “Unnatural piece of filth!”

Several other guests who heard the melee drew near. The other Harris brother called out to them. “We need the inspector. A crime’s been committed here.”

“What crime?” Colin demanded.

The man spit at the ground where Patrick lay beaten. “Buggery.”

The world tilted on its axis, and Colin’s stomach churned. He realized Patrick’s breeches were loose, and that the man he’d seen fleeing must have been…

Suddenly Colin’s father was there. In the lantern light, Colin could see the rage on his father’s face, and it chilled him. Edward was short and stout, yet an imposing presence. He issued a terse command to the Harris brothers to follow him and bring Patrick.

Patrick was dragged around the back of the manor house, a growing number of curious guests following. Several women were told to go back to the party, and the servants watched with wide eyes as the brothers hauled Patrick through the kitchen. Inside Edward’s study, a group of men gathered. Patrick was deposited on his knees in the middle of the room as Colin crowded inside with the others. They were soon joined by Colin’s mother.

“What’s going on?” she hissed to her husband. “There are whispers everywhere.”

Edward barely spared her a glance. “This is no place for a woman. An ungodly crime has been committed. Go see to the other guests and tell them everything is fine. We don’t want this getting out.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Tell me what’s happened!” Elizabeth’s cheeks flamed.

The man who’d kicked Patrick spoke. “My wife is feeling ill, so my brother and I went to the stable to ask for our carriage to be brought round.”

“Ill? Not from the food?” Elizabeth appeared horrified.

“For God’s sake, woman, forget the food!” A vein in Edward’s temple throbbed, and Colin feared his father might explode with rage.

“Where’s the other one?” Colin glanced behind him, surprised to hear William’s voice. Apparently the whispers were indeed spreading.

One of the Harris brothers answered. “Gone. I think it was the Nelsons’ carriage driver. Quick bastard, we couldn’t catch him. This one was still tangled up in his breeches. Caught him dead to rights.”

“No need to get the courts involved. Take him out back and hang him from his bollocks,” said one of the other guests.

There was a murmur of agreement, and Edward seemed to seriously be considering it. Colin’s panic increased exponentially as the tension simmered. Many of those present had long been into their cups, and a reckless air swirled through the room. He looked to Patrick, who knelt silently, blood dripping down his face, his hands now bound behind his back. Colin hadn’t seen who restrained him.

“Kill him,” agreed one of the Harrises. To Patrick, he said, “Wouldn’t you rather be put out of your misery now than rot in a jail cell knowing you’re going to the gallows? We’d be doing you a favor.”

The murmur of assent grew frighteningly loud. “Should have expected it from an Irishman,” someone shouted.

“Hang ’im! Save the courts some time and money.” The bookkeeper from the local village reached for Patrick, attempting to haul him to his feet as other men cried their agreement.

“No!” When all eyes turned to him, Colin realized he’d spoken aloud. “No. You can’t kill him.” He thought of that day six years before, when Patrick had raced after him and plucked him from the fleeing stallion. His heart hammered as it had that day.

Edward’s eyes narrowed. “Colin, the punishment for buggery is death. It’s what he deserves. This man—if you can call an animal a man—is a degenerate criminal.”

“Then so am I!”

Silence gripped the room in an instant, as if everyone held their breath collectively. Elizabeth went pale. “Colin, you have no idea what you’re saying.” She pulled his arm, urging him toward the door. “I’m sorry, everyone; he’s had far too much brandy this evening. He isn’t himself.”

Colin yanked his arm away. “No, Mother. I know what I’m saying.” He swallowed, his throat dry and thick. “I am myself.” Perhaps for the first time.

A shocked William spoke up, his eyes wide. “Colin, this is madness!”

Edward simply stared, stunned into silence for the first time in Colin’s memory. Elizabeth pulled at him again, but Colin shook free. “If you will kill this man for his crime, then you’ll have to kill me too. Shall you take me outside and string me up?”

“What in God’s name are you doing?” Patrick spoke for the first time, and all eyes turned to where he knelt. He stared at Colin with dazed astonishment.

The sound of Patrick’s voice seemed to spur Edward out of his daze. Edward turned a murderous gaze on Patrick. “If you’ve laid a finger on my son, I swear—”

“I’d sooner bed a horse,” Patrick sneered.

“And probably has!” a voice called out.

Colin felt a ridiculous stab of pain at Patrick’s words.

Patrick went on. “Sir, your son is clearly not in his right mind.”

William’s father, John, a lawyer, spoke next. He was tall and distinguished, the opposite of his brother, Edward. He seemed to be the only calm person left in the room. “Colin, are you saying you’ve committed acts of buggery?”

“Yes.” Even if it wasn’t true, Colin couldn’t let them kill Patrick. At least not tonight, not if he could help it.

Elizabeth shrieked and collapsed into a chair. “Oh, my son. What have you done? It can’t be true!”

“I’m sorry, Mother. They’ll have to kill us both.”

“Don’t listen to him! For God’s sake!” Patrick tried to stand but was shoved back down by Edward, whose face flamed with rage.

John spoke up. “No one’s killing anyone.” He turned to the Harris brothers. “Did you witness the act?”

One of them laughed tersely. “Didn’t have to. They heard us coming, and the other one was off and running. But we saw and heard enough to know what was going on.”

John pondered this, and everyone waited. He seemed to have quietly taken control of the proceedings, for which Colin was grateful. He hoped Patrick wouldn’t be harmed any further for the moment.

“No concrete evidence. None in regards to Colin either,” John said after a lengthy pause.

“Because it’s not true!” Elizabeth cried.

John ignored her and turned to Edward. “I have some friends in the magistrate’s office who should be able to help. I’ll go speak to George Crawford and get him on our side. But too many people have heard Colin’s confession. Something must be done.”

Edward nodded grimly, not looking at Colin. He pointed to Patrick. “We’ll keep this one locked in the pantry for the night. Colin will be in his room with a guard placed outside. William, take him upstairs.”

The shock of his actions slowly settling in, Colin didn’t resist as William led him away. They opened the door to the study to find the hallway crowded with party guests. Katherine was among them, her delicate face transformed into a hard mask. “Fiend!” She dashed down the hall, weeping.

Accusing eyes glared from all sides, and William led Colin to the servants’ back stairway, sparing him the spectacle of being marched up the grand staircase. In his room, Colin tried to speak. “Will, I…”

William raised a hand. “Don’t.” He shook his head sadly, his expression deeply wounded. “I don’t understand. I’ve always thought of you as a dear friend. A brother. Now I feel I’ve never known you at all.” He turned his back, closing the door behind him. A moment later, Colin heard the key turn in the lock, and his life as he knew it was over.

Author Bio:
After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”



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