Friday, November 6, 2015

Friday's Film Adaption: Dark Places by Gillian Flynn


Summary:
I have a meanness inside me, real as an organ.

Libby Day was seven when her mother and two sisters were murdered in “The Satan Sacrifice of Kinnakee, Kansas.” As her family lay dying, little Libby fled their tiny farmhouse into the freezing January snow. She lost some fingers and toes, but she survived–and famously testified that her fifteen-year-old brother, Ben, was the killer. Twenty-five years later, Ben sits in prison, and troubled Libby lives off the dregs of a trust created by well-wishers who’ve long forgotten her.

The Kill Club is a macabre secret society obsessed with notorious crimes. When they locate Libby and pump her for details–proof they hope may free Ben–Libby hatches a plan to profit off her tragic history. For a fee, she’ll reconnect with the players from that night and report her findings to the club . . . and maybe she’ll admit her testimony wasn’t so solid after all.

As Libby’s search takes her from shabby Missouri strip clubs to abandoned Oklahoma tourist towns, the narrative flashes back to January 2, 1985. The events of that day are relayed through the eyes of Libby’s doomed family members–including Ben, a loner whose rage over his shiftless father and their failing farm have driven him into a disturbing friendship with the new girl in town. Piece by piece, the unimaginable truth emerges, and Libby finds herself right back where she started–on the run from a killer.


He left me with three pieces of mail and a grin that was supposed to be optimistic. Three pieces, all looking like junk. Jim Jeffreys used to hand me bulging shoe boxes full of mail, most of them letters with checks inside. I'd sign the check over to him, and then the donor would receive a form letter in my blocky handwriting. "Thank you for your donation. It is people like you who let me look forward to a brighter future. Your truly, Libby Day." It really did say "your" truly, a misspelling that Jim Jeffreys thought people would find poignant.

But the shoe boxes of donations were gone, and I was left with a mere three letters and the rest of the night to kill. I headed back home, several cars blinking their headlights at me until I realized I was driving dark. Kansas City's skyline glimmered to the east, a modest, mid-rise Monopoly scatter, radio towers spiking here and there. I tried to picture things I could do for money. Things that grown-ups did. I imagined myself in a nurse's cap, holding a thermometer; then in a snug blue cop's uniform, escorting a child across the street; then wearing pearls and a floral apron, getting dinner ready for my hubby. That's how screwed up you are, I thought. Your idea of adulthood still comes from picturebooks. And even as I was thinking it, I saw myself writing ABCs on a chalkboard in front of bright-eyed first graders.

I tried to come up with realistic occupations-something with computers. Data entry, wasn't that some sort of job? Customer service, maybe? I'd seen a movie once where a woman walked dogs for a living, dressed in overalls and sweater sets and always holding flowers, the dogs slobbery and loving. I didn't like dogs, though, they scared me. I finally thought, of course, about farming. Our family had been farmers for a century, right down to my mom, until Ben killed her off. Then the farm got sold.

I wouldn't know how to farm anyway. I have memories of the place: Ben mucking through the cold spring mud, swatting calves out of his way; my mom's rough hands digging into the cherry-colored pellets that would blossom into milo; the squeals of Michelle and Debby jumping on haybales in the barn. "It itches!" Debby would always complain, and then jump in again. I can never dwell in these thoughts. I've labeled the memories as if they were a particularly dangerous region: Darkplace. Linger too long in an image of my mom trying to jury-rig the blasted coffeemaker again or of Michelle dancing around in her jersey nightgown, tube socks pulled up to her knees, and my mind would jerk into Darkplace. Maniacal smears of bright red sound in the night. That inevitable, rhythmic axe, moving as mechanically as if it were chopping wood. Shotgun blasts in a small hallway. The panicked, jaybird cries of my mother, still trying to save her kids with half her head gone.

What does an administrative assistant do? I wondered.

I pulled up to my house, stepped onto a slab of sidewalk where someone had scraped "Jimmy Loves Tina" in the concrete decades ago. Sometimes I had flashes of how the couple turned out: He was a minor-league baseball player/she was a housewife in Pittsburgh, battling cancer. He was a divorced fireman/she was a lawyer who drowned off the Gulf Coast last year. She was a teacher/he dropped dead of an aneurysm at twenty. It was a good, if gruesome, mind game. I had a habit of killing off at least one of them.

I looked up at my rented house,wondered if the roof was lopsided. If the whole thing crashed in, I wouldn't lose much. I owned nothing of value but a very old cat named Buck who tolerated me. As I hit the soggy, bowed steps, his resentful mews reached me from inside the house and I realized I hadn't fed him today. I opened the door and the ancient cat moved toward me, slow and crimped, like a jalopy with a busted wheel. I didn't have any cat food left-that had been on the to-do list for a week-so I went to the fridge, pulled out some slices of hardened Swiss cheese, and gave those to him. Then I sat down to open my three envelopes, my fingers smelling like sour milk.

I never made it past the first letter.

Dear Ms. Day,
I hope this letter reaches you, as you seem to have no website.
I have read about you and followed your story closely over
the years, and am very interested to hear how you are doing
and what you are up to these days. Do you ever do appearances?
I belong to a group that would pay you $500 just to
show up. Please contact me and I will happily give you more
information.
Warmly,
Lyle Wirth
PS This is a legitimate business offer.

Stripping? Porn? Back when the book came out, with its section of Baby Day Grows Up photos, the most notable was me at seventeen, my wobbly, woman-breasts barely held in by a white-trash halter top. I'd received several propositions from fringe nudie mags as a result, none of them offering enough money to make me think hard. Even now five hundred wouldn't quite do it, if these guys did want me to get naked. But maybe - think positive, Baby Day! - maybe it really was a legit offer, another of those mourners' groups, needing me to show up so they had a reason to talk about themselves. Five hundred for a few hours of sympathy was a doable exchange.

The letter was typed, except for a phone number that had been inked at the bottom in assertive script. I dialed the number, hoping for voicemail. Instead, a cavernous pause came on the line, a phone picked up, but not spoken into. I felt awkward, as if I'd called someone in the middle of a party I wasn't supposed to know about.

Three seconds, then a male voice: "Hello?"

"Hi. Is this Lyle Wirth?" Buck was nosing around my legs, anxious for more food.

"Who's this?" Still in the background: a big loud nothing. Like he was at the bottom of a pit.

"This is Libby Day. You wrote me."

"Ohhhhh holy cow. Really? Libby Day. Uh, where are you? Are you in town?"

"Which town?"

The man-or boy, he sounded young-yelled something at someone back behind him that included the phrase, "I already did them," and then groaned into my ear.

"You in Kansas City? You live in Kansas City, right? Libby?"

I was about to hang up, but the guy started yelling hel-ooo-o? hel-ooo-o? into the line, like I was some dazed kid not paying attention in class, so I told him I did live in Kansas City and what did he want. He gave one of those heheheh laughs, those you-won't-believe-this-but laughs.

"Well, like I said, I wanted to talk to you about an appearance. Maybe."

"Doing what?"

"Well, I'm in a special club . . . there's a special club meeting here next week, and . . ."

"What kind of club?"

"Well, it's kind of different. It's sort of an underground thing . . ."

I said nothing, let him twist. After the initial bravura, I could feel him get uneasy. Good.

"Oh crap, it's impossible to explain over the phone. Can I, uh, buy you a coffee?"

"It's too late for coffee," I said, and then realized he probably didn't even mean tonight, probably meant sometime this week, and then I wondered again how I'd kill the next four or five hours.

"A beer? Wine?" he asked.

"When?"

Pause. "Tonight?"

Pause. "Fine."

Film:
When a woman's family is murdered, her brother is convicted of the crime, but twenty years later she has doubts and attempts to uncover the truth.

Release Date: April 8, 2015(France)
August 7, 2015(United States)
Release Time: 113 minutes

Cast:
Charlize Theron as Libby Day
Sterling Jerins as Young Libby Day
Christina Hendricks as Patty Day
Nicholas Hoult as Lyle Wirth
Andrea Roth as Diondra Wertzner
Chloƫ Grace Moretz as Young Diondra Wertzner
Corey Stoll as Ben Day
Tye Sheridan as Young Ben Day
Sean Bridgers as Runner Day
Drea de Matteo as Krissi Cates
Addy Miller as Young Krissi Cates
Shannon Kook as Young Trey Teepano
Dan Hewitt Owens as Robert



Author Bio:
Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.

Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.

In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers' Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.

Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master's degree from Northwestern University.


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The Shepherd and the Solicitor by Bonnie Dee & Summer Devon

Summary:
When a storm is brewing, taking shelter could be the most dangerous move of all.

One careless, public sign of affection cost Daniel Pierce’s lover his life at the hands of a hate-filled mob. Grief-stricken, Daniel retreated from society to a sheep farm in the wilds of the north. Years later, Gregory Tobin erupts into his solitary life.

Sent to confirm the existence—or the death—of the Pierce family’s lost heir, Tobin isn’t sure he’s found the right man. The gruff, shaggy hermit calling himself Jacob Bennet bears little resemblance to photographs of the younger Pierce. Tobin needs more time to study his quarry.

With lambing season in full swing, Daniel grudgingly admits he could use an extra hand. Through a long, exhausting night, they parry back and forth as Tobin probes closer and closer to the truth. And something beyond casual attraction simmers between them.

They come together in a crash of desire, but ultimately Daniel must overcome the terrors of the past to reconcile the man he was with the man he’s becoming—a man capable of loving again.

Warning: Many sexy encounters on a sheep farm—NO, not like THAT!—between two adult males with temperaments as different as night and day.


Another great historical from Dee & Devon.  Watching Gregory's job turn from a typical search and locate to heat and rescue, at least in his mind, is thrilling and heart pounding.  Seeing Daniel/Jacob run from his past and create a new solitary life for himself is heartbreaking but encouraging.  Together they find an unexpected, perhaps unwanted on Daniel's part, alliance over the births of Daniel's lambs and pups.  But will it be enough?  For that you will have to read The Shepherd and the Solicitor.  I will say this, the authors have once again captured the feel of the time, 1883 England, and the characters are intriguing with integrity and determination that makes you want to know them and not let them go once the final page is reached.

RATING: 


Chapter One
They killed Jacob. The crowd would have killed Pierce too, if he hadn’t run.

Fearful and furious, he tried to wade through the pack, but his feet wouldn’t move. The end came as always… He tried to get to Jacob and failed.

He wore rags, even though he was sure they had been too well dressed for that part of London. The screams grew louder, and at last his feet could move, and he stumbled away.

Yorkshire, 1883
He woke in the dark in a hut four years later and hundreds of miles away. To get his breath back, he had to remind himself, again, that running had been the only possible answer.

Flat on his back in his bed, the fury rolled through him, bottomless, soul-drenching waves of anger at himself for running, of course. But he had plenty of anger for Jacob, who couldn’t stay silent. Maybe if they’d walked away… Jacob had decided to turn and confront the man who’d shouted at them.

“Sodomites.”

The overwhelming rage could still sicken him—the crowd, the people who killed Jacob, and those who watched. One in that crowd had been a policeman. Pierce had called to him that night, begging for help. The copper met his eyes, looked away, and then walked out the alley.

That marked the instant Daniel Pierce’s link to his fellow humans broke. Tonight, like every other dreary night he had the dream, the link broke again.

The incident, from the first scream to the last, had taken less than five minutes, but it went on and on through his nights.

The dogs lying on his feet sensed his awakening and moved up to lick his face and drag him to a far sweeter and harsher present.

Daniel Pierce returned to the world in which he was Jacob Bennet. His dead lover’s first name and a name from literature provided him with a new beginning. His soft hands had grown tough, his soft body lean and hard, his heart… That didn’t change. It still beat.

Enough.

He had work to do, thank the Lord. He really shouldn’t have rested in his cottage at all. He should be out with the ladies.

He jumped from the bed onto the perpetually cold flagstones, a chill he could feel through thick wool socks, and raced to the fireplace to throw a log on the embers. The two rooms were small enough that the snapping fire actually managed to heat them.

The sky showed a dingy dawn, but the sharp, cold air brought him back to life and the present. He quickly fed himself and the dogs that weren’t out with the flock. After forking hay for the horse and milking the cow, and feeding the stray cats that hung about the place, he walked toward the larger barn, where the ewes were penned. He stopped for a second to admire the sun cutting through a bank of clouds and glowing on the splotches of snow on the higher ground and the first bright green in the valley far below.

In the drafty stone barn, several of the ewes stood pawing the straw, and he knew what that meant. They’d all been tupped five months earlier, in late autumn. Ten had delivered, and at least fifteen more of them would be giving birth soon. He blew on his hands and watched. This was his third lambing season, and he was still filled with anticipation and fear. From his reading, he understood that the joy and worry of this season would never go away.

The two dogs paced back and forth, aching to get to herding, but at a sharp word from him, they sank to their bellies. He might not be the best shepherd in the hills, but he had a previously undiscovered knack with dogs, a fact that filled him with more pride than his first in history from Oxford.

“I have done some reading,” he informed the ewes, who watched him with their peculiar, unnerving eyes. “And I have far better liniment and equipment this year. We’re off to a splendid start. Only one stillborn so far.”

The black-faced ewes staring at him baaed in response. “You sound unconvinced,” he said.

One of the dogs sighed heavily and rolled onto her side. She was near her time as well. He hoped his own dog was the father and not the idiot lurcher from a distant farm he’d caught sniffing around Bets.

The sheep nearest him snorted and shook her head.

“Come now, ladies, you must admit I did a better job crutching this year.” He shuddered as he recalled shearing the rear ends of every one of his sheep to stop flyblown diseases. In all his previous twenty-seven years, he’d never encountered anything as earthy or disgusting as sheep diseases, except perhaps cows’ problems.

One did not see such things as maggots or mastitis in the world in which he’d been raised. But that stray thought brought to mind his old existence as Pierce. Restlessness hit him, the need to escape even the hint of London. His endless list of chores would put an end to that nonsense.

He started to walk out of the barn to gather the day’s eggs when one of the ewes gave a startled louder baa of pain. The eggs would wait.

Lambing season was well underway.

Gregory Tobin pulled on his trousers, tucked in his shirt, and yanked up his braces. He turned to face the naked man on the bed. “I’d rather not go, but we’ve sent agents to India and Europe. They’d contacted other agents in America and Australia. Not a word.”

“You’ve already gallivanted around the countryside.” Sloe-eyed Stephen rolled onto his back and stretched.

That was true enough. Tobin had a taste for travel. He even developed a liking for the over-dark stew they called tea served in train stations all over England. “This is the last hurrah in the search for the heir. I’ve been to Buckinghamshire and Nottinghamshire, and now I shall hie me off to the north. Again. Some man named Pruitt contacted our agent, saying he’d seen a man matching the description.”

Tobin thrust his feet into his shoes and glanced over at his lover, who gazed up at the ceiling of one of the club’s palatial bedrooms, called a chamber. Stephen stayed here rather than at his family’s London residence in a happy arrangement that suited everyone, especially Tobin, who’d rather not bring anyone to his own house. He continued cheerfully, “At any rate, I expect to be gone a month at most.”

“Why not just declare him dead and have done with it?”

“We can declare him dead soon enough, but by then we’ll have lost the important chance to sell part of the business. There’s only so much we can do without the majority shareholder…” He pulled on his waistcoat—and noticed the glazed look in his companion’s brown eyes. “You’re not particularly interested, are you?”

He walked over to the china basin and splashed some water on his face. In the washstand’s gilt mirror, he watched the reflection of Stephen, a pleasant young man about town, yawn and stretch again under the rumpled sheet.

“Not really the most fascinating topic, is it?” Stephen sat up and hugged his knees. “I got the gist, Toby. They’re putting you on the path of this dead johnny again, and you won’t be here for the terribly splendid event we’re putting on in a fortnight.”

Something about Stephen’s hearty enthusiasm put Tobin on guard. He draped the snowy-white towel over the carved cherub holding the mirror, then turned back to examine his friend. “Oh? An event?”

“A party of sorts.”

“What’s the occasion?”

“Haven’t I told you?” Stephen’s question was far too guileless, so Tobin was nearly prepared for the answer. Nearly. “It’s my engagement party. I’m to be wed in September.”

Tobin stopped buttoning his waistcoat and stared at Stephen. Amusement warred with disappointment. He’d certainly expected this from the lazy devil who’d been threatened with an allowance cut by his parents if he didn’t wed—so Tobin’s disappointment was odd. “Married.”

Stephen smiled at him. “Yes, there will be a huge party, and I wanted you to be there.”

Tobin had to laugh. “My attendance would be in very poor taste.”

“Bah. Don’t be such a stickler. It’ll be a grand occasion. My parents are so delighted, they’re pouring in bucketloads of guineas. You sure you can’t put off this trip to hunt the elusive heir or cut it short?”

“Absolutely not.” He could, of course, but the idea of going to his lover’s engagement party filled him with dreary dismay. Oh no. Not in this lifetime. He said, “I shall miss you.”

“You’ll be back in town in no time.”

“I’ll miss…” Tobin waved a hand between the two of them. “Our private moments.”

Stephen’s large brown eyes widened, a pleading look. “No need to stop, eh?”

“I haven’t been to many weddings, but I recall there’s a part about faithfulness? Forsaking all others?”

“Women. I won’t cavort with women,” Stephen said firmly.

“Good-bye, Stephen. I wish you well, you poor fool.” He considered going over and giving Stephen a last kiss, but the impulse passed. “Farewell. I wish you happy,” he said with less rancor. He pulled on his coat and left the room.

He got rather drunk the night he left Stephen behind, which meant he started his journey with a blistering headache and a stomach that threatened to revolt at every jolt of the train.

It began to rain, and the drops streaked the window and the wind rocked the car. A stormy reflection of his mood. He hadn’t suspected he’d be upset about the end of his alliance with Stephen. One didn’t grow upset at the end of such arrangements. Yet the very anticlimactic nature of the ending affected him more than it once might have. Perhaps because he had no one to tell. Even his good friends—and he had quite a few—did not know of his predilection for men. That was safe, but rather lonely.

Tobin liked people and knew he had a tendency to be confiding, so he didn’t often drink, in case he opened his mouth to the wrong people. Once, after he and his father had shared some fine brandy, he’d mentioned his suspicion about his preferences to his father, who promptly told him he must be mistaken.

Tobin hadn’t had so many glasses that he didn’t recognize the answer his father required, and he’d immediately said, of course he could be mistaken; one might simply be confused.

His father had seemed relieved, but their relationship had grown stiffer after that. His father became more formal and polite with him and seemed to avoid touching him. Tobin hadn’t tried to make amends, because he knew anything he said would make no difference—only a marriage arrangement would have fixed that silent rift.

His parents had died soon after he became an articled clerk, and never saw him become a solicitor. Tobin occasionally thought about how much he missed them, particularly on mornings like this one when loneliness lingered, a fog as unwelcome as the gloom from too much drink.

The train seemed to stop every few minutes with squeals and thumps. Tobin wanted to sleep. He closed his eyes and, quite unusually for him, thought of the emptiness of a lifelong lie and other bilious topics until he fell asleep. Even a nap couldn’t bring him back from the doldrums, and when he at last landed at a station in the middle of a vast expanse of dark empty fields, he wondered why he hadn’t sent along a more junior clerk or a third party to find this rotted heir.

In fact, he had tried to send a clerk, but Jeffers had wheedled his way out of it.

“This sighting might be the one, and it would impress the nibs no end if you brought home the heir yourself, sir,” Jeffers had said. “I’d go, but my wife’s stomach is bad this month. Terrible pains…” He shook his head sadly, and Tobin, fool that he was, took pity on him, his wife, and her constantly upset stomach, and decided to be the one to go north.

He hauled up his satchel and got off at the Faircliffe station. Only a ginger cat greeted him.

Tobin squatted and scratched the cat under the chin. “You’re not the elusive Mr. Pierce, by any chance? No?”

Tobin straightened and looked around the deserted platform.

No one appeared, and Tobin wondered if Jeffers hadn’t set this whole thing up as an extremely elaborate prank. The articled clerk was older than Tobin and seemed to resent the younger man’s success—and saved his more creative efforts to make Tobin look foolish.

With no stationmaster or attendant present, Tobin said good-bye to the cat, shoved his luggage into a corner of the dark station platform, grabbed up his satchel, and went looking for signs of life.

There was apparently no town attached to the brick station. He walked until he found a couple of slate-colored houses with dark windows sitting back from the road. As he rounded a tall hedgerow, he at last saw an inn, a sad little place the size and appearance of a cottage, with only a lamp out front and a faded placard hanging on a cross-pole showing it was a commercial establishment.

He pushed open the door, and even before he’d walked through it, a voice called out, “We’re shut.”

Tobin ignored him. “Do you have rooms for the night?”

“No.” The innkeeper moved into the single flickering light by the door. A square man with a square head and muttonchops, he looked like ye jolly olde innkeeper. Appearances deceived again.

He sniffed and rubbed his sleeve over his nose. “You’re a city man, aren’t you. From the south?”

Tobin nodded and pulled out his wallet from his inside pocket.

“Why is a fellow like you visiting us?” The landlord gazed at Tobin’s wallet, but his tone remained unpleasant.

Tobin said, “I’m here on business. Do you know a Mr. Pruitt?”

“Not a familiar name.” The man turned away. He pulled out a towel, wiped a table, and then stood facing Tobin with his arms folded. “Any more questions?”

He decided not to even bother mentioning Pierce, the real point of his journey. He’d have to butter up this man before getting good answers, and he felt too tired to imitate bonhomie. “I need a place for the night. Do you know of any?”

The man sighed as if he’d been asking him to hand over his night’s earnings. “All right. You can have the room at the top of the stairs. My wife is gone off for a time, so I didn’t want to bother, but go on with you.”

“My things are at the station. May I arrange to have someone pick them up, Mister…umm?”

“I’m Meaks. In the morning.”

“I’m afraid I require my belongings sooner than that.” He fished a sixpence from his pocket. The sight of actual money still didn’t exactly transform the man into an agreeable host, but he did say he’d track down someone named Hoss, who’d go get his bags from the station. Tobin signed a register that had very few names in it.

The room at the top of the stairs was small and damp and dirty. And when the rain started again, there was an ominous plinking in the corner.

An hour later, Hoss, a large man who smelled of horses and whisky, brought in his luggage without a word. Tobin thanked the man and shoved his bag under the bed.

He slept fitfully that night and woke still gloomy about this task to find the heir his client needed to track down as soon as possible. The company’s general meeting would take place in less than a month and Daniel Pierce must be present—or officially declared deceased.

Author Bios:
Bonnie Dee
I began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, I was the designated ghost tale teller. I still have a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.

Writing childish stories for my own pleasure led to majoring in English at college. Like most English majors, I dreamed of writing a novel, but at that time in my life didn't have the necessary focus and follow through. Then life happened. A husband and children occupied the next twenty years and it was only in 2000 that I began writing again.

I enjoy dabbling in many genres. Each gives me a different way to express myself. I've developed a habit of writing every day that's almost an addiction. I don't think I could stop now if I tried.

Summer Devon
Summer Devon is the pen name writer Kate Rothwell often uses. Whether the characters are male or female, human or dragon, her books are always romance.

You can visit her facebook page, where there's a sign up form for a newsletter (she'll only send out newsletters when there's a new Summer Devon or Kate Rothwell release and she will never ever sell your name to anyone).


Bonnie Dee
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EMAILS: summerdevon@comcast.net
katerothwell@gmail.com



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Silver Bells & Stetsons Box Set

Title: Silver Bells & Stetsons
Authors: Kathleen Ball, Cait Braxton, Caroline Clemmons
Carra Copelin, Kristin Holt, Lyn Horner, Susan Horsnell
Paty Jager, Hebby Roman, Margaret Tanner
Genre: Christmas Western Romance
Release Date: November 2, 2015
Summary:
Bestselling and Award-Winning Authors bring you ten western romance novellas featuring alpha-cowboys from the past. This boxed set will take you back in time when men were rugged and handsome and the women who loved them, courageous and daring.

Available as a boxed set for a limited time
A savings of more than 75% if the books were purchased separately.

Books Included:
The Greatest Gift: A Montana Cowboy Christmas by Kathleen Ball 
Looking for the man who ran out on her, Ginger finds a cowboy worthy of love but he doesn't want or need love.

Catherine’s Cowboy by Cait Braxton 
During a supernatural dust storm, Fate steps in when rugged army tracker Elam helps Catherine deliver her child. 



Stone Mountain Christmas by Caroline Clemmons 
Can Celia restore the town's Christmas spirit? "A beautifully written story about love and hope and all the emotions Christmas brings out in people." Karren Lucas 

Angel and the Texan from County Cork by Carra Copelin 
Does Angel trust marriage to the man she suspects of killing her husband or the stranger who promises to pay off her debt and set her free if she decides their marriage of convenience won’t work?

The Drifter’s Proposal by Kristin Holt
The baker's man is home for Christmas...
"Compelling. Heartwarming. Tender." ~Diane Darcy, USA Today Bestselling Author

Marshal Mistletoe by Susan Horsnell 
She married the wrong man. Will fate intervene?



Christmas Redemption by Paty Jager
Can two battered hearts find solace or will the past continue to haunt their lives? "A story of forgiveness that has a wonderful hero who has worked hard to redeem himself."

A Hard Candy Christmas by Hebby Roman
Two damaged souls. Can their budding love and the healing power of Christmas bring them together?


Cowboy Christmas by Margaret Tanner
Will a miracle Christmas baby unite two tortured souls, or will it forever keep them apart?




Author Bios:
Kathleen Ball
She writes contemporary and historical western romance with great emotion and memorable characters. Her books are award winners and have appeared on best sellers lists

Cait Braxton
While Cait Braxton's childhood friends dreamed of becoming ballerinas, nurses and movie stars, Cait wanted to be a cowgirl when she grew up. Some of her best memories stem from long visits to her grandparents' farm. Here she reveled in the delectable scents of pines trees, leather and horse. Her idea of a grand adventure wasn't hosting a make-believe tea party but rather riding through the woods and fields on the back of beautiful stallion.

Her love of the Old West (and the New) continues to this day. That's why she writes about strong alpha cowboys and the courageous women who loved them. She hopes you share her love for a majestic, rugged time gone-by and...the cowboys of today.

Caroline Clemmons
Amazon bestselling author of historical and contemporary western romances whose books have garnered numerous awards. Her latest release is GABE KINCAID, book four of her popular Kincaid series. A frequent speaker at conferences and seminars, she has taught workshops on characterization, point of view, and layering a novel.

Caroline is a member of Romance Writers of America, Yellow Rose Romance Writers, From The Heart Romance Writers, and Hearts Through History Romance Writers. Her latest publications include the acclaimed historical Men of Stone Mountain series: BRAZOS BRIDE, HIGH STAKES BRIDE, and BLUEBONNET BRIDE and the audiobooks of BRAZOS BRIDE and HIGH STAKES BRIDE.

Caroline and her husband live in the heart of Texas cowboy country with their menagerie of rescued pets. Prior to writing full time, her jobs included stay-at-home mom (her favorite), secretary, newspaper reporter and featured columnist, assistant to the managing editor of a psychology journal, bookkeeper for the local tax assessor and--for a short and fun time--an antique dealer. When she's not indulging her passion for writing, Caroline enjoys reading, travel, antiquing, genealogy, painting, getting together with friends, and enjoying watching the birds, butterflies, and squirrels wandering through her back yard. Find her on her blog, website, Facebook, Twitter, Shelfari, Goodreads, and Pinterest.

Carra Copelin
She writes "well-written novels, complete with correct places, weather, and flavor." ... from a Native Texan reader. Her books are contemporary and historical romantic suspense about Texans set in Texas. No matter the murder, mystery, or mayhem that may surround or involve the hero and heroine, every story revolves around their romance and family.

She is a member of Romance Writers of America and President of Yellow Rose Romance Writers, plus she regularly contributes to Smart Girls Read Romance and Sweethearts of the West Blogs.

She and her hero live in North Central Texas, in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex where they enjoy their family and grandchildren. In addition to writing and researching with her fabulous critique partners, she enjoys playing bridge, crochet, and genealogy.

Kristin Holt
I recall the winter of my first grade year, basking in the heat from our fireplace in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Dad read aloud Madeline L'Engle's A WRINKLE IN TIME and Mom peeled orange segments for us to enjoy. That was the definitive moment I fell in love with fiction.

I write sweet (wholesome) romances set in the 19th Century American West. I'm newly active in a fantastic Facebook group for authors and readers of Western Historical Romances:

Lyn Horner
Resides in Fort Worth, Texas - "Where the West Begins" - with her husband and several very spoiled cats. Trained in the visual arts, Lyn worked as a fashion illustrator and art instructor before she took up writing. She loves crafting passionate love stories, both historical and contemporary. Lyn also enjoys reading, gardening, visiting with family and friends, and cuddling her furry, four-legged children.

The author's Texas Devlins series blends authentic Old West settings, steamy romance and a glimmer of the mysterious. This series has earned multiple awards and nominations, including Crowned Heart reviews and a Rone Award nomination for DEAREST IRISH from InD'Tale Magazine.

Lyn is a contributor to Rawhide 'n Roses, a Western Romance Anthology. This book is a finalist in the 2015 RONE Awards anthology category. Lyn is proud to be in company with such a talented group of authors.

Jumping from the American Old West to the present day, Lyn is now hard at work on her romantic suspense series, Romancing the Guardians. These books combine her trademark flashes of psychic phenomena with Irish folklore and a chilling apocalyptic theme. Along the way, readers will be treated to thunderous action, terrifying suspense and sizzling romance.

Susan Horsnell
I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney in the 50's and 60's and have always been a fan of Cowboys, Indians and Outlaws.

During my years as a nurse I would write down ideas and when I retired five years ago I finally published my first book - The Glenmore's: Revenge. This developed into a four part series.

Since then I have published a further eleven Western Romance books and one contemporary. My westerns are set in Texas, USA during the 19th century and my contemporary in Sydney, Australia.

When I am not writing I enjoy walking our dogs with my husband and travelling.

Paty Jager
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

She has published twenty novels, three anthologies, and seven novellas. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.

Hebby Roman
Multi-published author of both historical and contemporary romances. Her first contemporary romance, SUMMER DREAMS, was the launch title for Encanto, a print line featuring Latino romances. And her re-published e-book, SUMMER DREAMS, was #1 in Amazon fiction and romance.

Hebby is a member of the Romance Writers of America, and the past president of her local chapter, North Texas Romance Writers. She was selected for the Romantic Times "Texas Author" award, and she won a national Harlequin contest.

She graduated with highest honors from the University of Texas in Austin with a Master's Degree in Business Administration. She was selected for inclusion in the first edition of Who's Who in American Women.

She is blessed to have all her family living close by in north Texas, including her family's latest edition, her granddaughter, Mackenzie. Hebby lives in Arlington, Texas with her husband, Luis, and maltipoo, Maximillian.

Margaret Tanner
WESTERN ROMANCE AUTHOR With the encouragement of friend and Western Romance author, Susan Horsnell, she has fallen in love with writing Western Historical Romance. Frontier Australia and frontier America, have many similarities, isolated communities, a large single male population and a lack of eligible women.

She has always loved Westerns, soaking up all the Western TV shows and movies when she was young. Bonanza was her all-time favourite show. Little Joe Cartwright was her hero. Western Author, Zane Grey was her favourite author at that time.

Margaret has a short story published in the Western Romance Anthology, Rawhide 'N Roses which was a 2015 Rone Finalist.


Kathleen Ball
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Cait Braxton
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Caroline Clemmons
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Carra Copelin
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Paty Jager
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Hebby Roman
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Margaret Tanner
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Sons of the Sphinx by Cheryl Carpinello

Title: Sons of the Sphinx
Author: Cheryl Carpinello
Series: The Quest Books
Genre: YA Historical Time Travel
Release Date: October 10, 2014
Publisher: Beyond Today Educator
Cover Design: Bernistevens Design
Summary:
Two souls

Separated by three millennium

One with a gift that is more like a curse

One on an almost impossible quest

Destinies entwined; one seeks to find herself while the other seeks his lost queen. To succeed, the pair must right the injustices 3,000 years in the past.

Only together can they fulfill The Prophecy, but in the process they must defeat the Pharaoh Horemheb.

Dishonor and death are the fate of the defeated.


Before us, nearly filling up the room and taller than either of us, stands the golden shrine of Tutankhamun. I remembered what else lay in that room. Inside that shrine are three more, each a bit smaller than the outside one. All tucked inside each other like those nesting dolls from my grandmother’s childhood. Inside the last shrine were the four sarcophagi of Tut, each displaying him in golden and jeweled splendor.

The last one holds the famed mask of the golden boy. And beneath that, the body of the young pharaoh who now stands here before me. Beyond my understanding, he has been given back his human form, allowed to return one last time to restore honor to his family, one last time to find his true love. And here I am, trying to help, trying to understand, trying to stay alive. Will I ever be able to go home again? Or will I become as lost as Hesena?

Rosa
Hi! I’m Rosa. I’m 15 years old and a sophomore in high school. I’m your typical teenager—well, almost. I don’t have many friends anymore, but it’s hard to blame the other kids. If I was them, I’d probably steer clear of me too, at least most of the time. No one is ever mean to me; I’ve grown up with most of them, and on my bad days, they try to ignore me. Wish I could do the same to those who talk to me. Mostly I just shake my head and carry on. It helps that I have a sarcastic sense of humor.

My daily life consists of trying to pass all my classes, getting a date for school dances, and dealing with Nana’s gift nearly every day while I try not to lose my mind.

Tut
My name is Nebkheperure Tutanhkame. I ascended the throne of Egypt upon the death of my father, Pharaoh Akhenaten. There has been much speculation in modern day on my death. My concern is finding the final resting place of my beloved queen, Ankhesenamun and making right that which was wronged centuries ago.



Author Bio:
I am a retired high school English teacher. A devourer of books growing up, my profession introduced me to writings and authors from times long past. Through my studies and teaching, I fell in love with the Ancient and Medieval Worlds. Now, I hope to inspire young readers to read more through my Quest Books set in these worlds.


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