Wow! I can hardly believe 2018 is almost upon us. I’ve decided to start a new tradition at my writing blog, Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes–a year-end top 5 list of my favorite books read during the year. Since this blog is all about the supernatural, I thought I would mention my favorite 2017 paranormal read here.
Skin Deep by Marissa Doyle
Marissa Doyle is a new-to-me author. And this was the first selkie book I’ve read in a very long time. I so enjoyed the way Ms. Doyle weaved her love of quilts and quilting into the story.
After a painful divorce, Garland Durrell looks forward to settling into her home on Cape Cod to make the quilts that are her passion. On the first morning of her new life she finds a man and a small boy washed up on the beach, both badly wounded. Since the town chief of police is strangely reluctant to help, Garland takes on the care of the mysterious pair who don’t seem to remember what happened to them–and feels her own heart begin to heal.
Alasdair does remember. He and his son Conn are the last of the ruling family of selkies from the waters around the Cape, locked in a decades-long struggle with an evil that threatens all, selkie and human. He’s not sure if he can trust the lovely, blue-eyed woman who takes them in until he touches one of her quilts and feels the magic she’s sewn into it…and the emotions that he never thought he’d feel again.
But the evil entity that stole Alasdair’s sealskin and left him for dead quickly senses both his presence and Garland’s magic, and is determined to destroy one and possess the other. Only Garland and her quilts, made with a power she barely believes she has, can save them all from destruction—if she can avoid being destroyed first.
Does a horse mentioned in a romance novel need a name?
If you’ve read the books in the Highland Gardens series, you may recall that Caitrina rides a white stallion. The fae horse is mentioned in a couple of the books, but never by name.
In Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the fae horse is mentioned sort of as description…
When they cleared the forest and road into the glen, a mysterious woman galloped out of the mist. Tinkling music filled the air. She raced toward them across the moor, her flaming red hair flying behind her like a pennon billowing in the wind. She rode a handsome white steed with a golden bridle and with golden bells plaited in his mane. The stallion was a fine beast, fast as wind, with an arched neck and broad chest. His nostrils flared; his ears laid back.
Something similar from Just Wait For Me…
A red-haired woman, richly garbed in green velvet and fur, sat a magnificent white steed with golden bridle and golden bells plaited in its mane. The beast stomped a hoof and snorted steam from flared nostrils, impatient for action. The lady murmured something in an ancient tongue and the animal calmed.
I think the stallion needs a name for the next book in the series, Just His Fae Kiss, especially since the tale is about Caitrina and Douglas. I expect Caitrina will have more interaction with the animal in this story and I hope the fae horse will become a character himself.
So I need your help. I’m running a contest over on my Facebook author page, Dawn Marie Hamilton, to find a name for Caitrina’s steed. Consider heading over there and entering the contest pinned to the top of the page. I sure will appreciate your help.
The contest will run through December 13th. Good luck!
Today is the last day of summer and tomorrow the first day of autumn. I love this time of year with its cooler temperatures. Recently, I spent a few days in Annapolis, MD. I enjoy hanging out in the historic section of town and taking in the sights. Kimberly and Robert from my paranormal romance, Sea Panther, visited Annapolis during their December cruise along the coast headed for Florida and Robert’s Florida panther refuge in the Everglades.
They traveled on a 90-foot sailing yacht named Sea Panther (also Robert’s nickname) and harbored in Annapolis while Robert was to meet with a boat builder to discuss the renovation of the yacht. Much, much more happened.
While there, Kimberly shopped along the cobblestone streets and visited a shop with mostly wool merchandise based on an actual store on West street.
An Excerpt from Sea Panther:
After dinner, the boys headed farther into town to hit the bars. Not inclined to join them in the carousing, Kimberly strolled the main drag where stores were open late for holiday shopping.
Glitzy seasonal decorations sparkled everywhere. The sight of animated Santa’s elves plying their trade on high tech electronic toys behind the plate-glass storefront of a hardware shop made her chuckle.
Kimberly suppressed the urge to enter a brightly lit jewelry store. She couldn’t afford to feed her fetish. But on approaching one of the trendy boutiques, the wintry window display drew her in. It was love-at-first-sight with the wool merchandise. While admiring a red cashmere sweater dress, her cell phone rang. Darn. She’d lost track of time.
Sarah’s number lit the screen. Her sister’s phone batteries must be good for a change.
“Hey,” she whispered into the phone not wanting to disturb the other shoppers.
“Are you okay? I went to pick up your car. One of my guy friends went with me. Thank God. ’Cause someone broke into the car. And the cops—”
“Slow down. What happened?” Kimberly’s pulse raced.
“I’m trying to tell you. Someone shot out the light on the lamppost over your car at the marina and smashed the passenger side window.”
“You’re kidding. Right?”
“I wouldn’t kid about a thing like this.”
Shit. Shit. Shit. Why would someone break into her car? She’d only left clothes in it.
“Kim? What where they looking for?”
“No idea. Tell me the whole story.”
“The police searched the car. Lifted some prints. They’re checking to see if any match the ones found in your room at the B&B. I told them about the hit man. They questioned Mr. Romano. Of course, he denies involvement.”
“Oh, Sarah, you didn’t. He’ll never forgive me.”
“What does it matter? He’s not your client anymore.”
Kimberly looked heavenward. Her sister didn’t get it. Sarah didn’t understand the importance of maintaining professional contacts.
“What else did the cops say?”
“They’ll let me know if they learn anything from the prints.”
“Was my car damaged?” The darn thing would probably cost a fortune to fix.
“Only the window and I had it repaired. And hey, all my friends think I look really cool driving around in a shiny black Beemer.”
“Be careful. That car is the only valuable possession I have left.”
“Yeah, it’s a good thing you paid it off before Jerky Jason came into your life.”
“I don’t want to go there,” Kimberly murmured, tired of Sarah’s constant reminders of how rotten her ex had been.
“Gotta hang up. Boss is calling for me. Be careful. Love you.”
“Love you too.” Kimberly pressed the End button and returned the cell phone to her purse. She glanced through the large plate-glass window into the street at the holiday shoppers strolling by. Unease tightened the muscles across her chest.
Just how much danger was she in? Was someone trying to scare her or was someone out to hurt her?
Needing a distraction from the mounting fear, she wandered to the next clothing rack and fingered the soft weave of a mohair cape. The tactile sensation soothed. Suddenly the hairs on her arms rose. Someone stood behind her. Heart pounding too fast, she spun to meet the captain’s intense gaze.
“Ach, lass, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He stepped closer.
Kimberly released the breath she held and willed her pulse to slow to a normal pace. “It’s okay. I’m not usually the nervous type. You must have caught me during a rare moment.” She didn’t want him to think she jumped every time a man came near.
The captain fondled the forest green cape she’d been admiring, and a delicious chill shivered along her spine. For a man with large hands, he had a gentle touch. What would those long fingers feel like caressing her skin? The thought of him massaging her breasts the way he did the wool caused a shot of lust to rush through her system.
Chills and fever. What a potent mix.
“This garment would look beautiful on you,” he said.
“Thank you.” She lowered her head to hide a flushed face. “I’m afraid I can’t afford it.”
“Will you tell me why a woman with a quick mind like yours is out of work and homeless?”
His question was blunt and to the point—a splash of cold water to raging hormones. How she’d landed in the current situation was the last thing she wanted to explain. She raised a wary gaze to meet his. “Captain MacLachlan, I—”
“Never mind.” He waved an arm as if to erase his words. “I did not mean to put such deep sadness into your eyes.”
“Excuse me. We’re closing,” one of the shop’s employees interrupted. Her gaze lingered on Robert as if to say, you’re welcome to stay.
“We are leaving,” he said to the woman then smiled at Kimberly. “Come. Walk with me.”
She followed him out onto the sidewalk. Cars slowly drove by on the one-way street. If a hit man was after her, in truth, he could be anywhere. She tamped down on her nerves, feeling foolish, refusing to believe someone wanted to harm her. It didn’t make sense. Her ex-clients were respectable businessmen. The burglaries had to be a bizarre coincidence. After all, she’d left the car in a nearly deserted marina. No wonder someone broke into it.
Wow! I can hardly believe August is nearing its end. It has been a hot, hot, hot month in my neck of the woods, making it a chore to putter in the garden. The solar eclipse was great, but I’m looking forward to cooler weather and comfortable gardening time.
I have a giveaway going on over at Goodreads. Five signed copies of Just Wait For Me are up for grabs…
This year’s summer solstice was at 12:24 AM EDT in the Northern Hemisphere. I love this time of year–long days of sunlight. I spent the morning tidying the garden. Weeding, trimming shrubs, and deadheading blooms. Such activity makes me feel productive.
This afternoon, I’ll dig into my current WIP (work-in-progress), Just His Fae Kiss, the sixth tale in the Highland Gardens Scottish fantasy time travel romance series. This is Caitrina and Douglas’s story. I’ve created a Pinterest board for Just His Fae Kiss. Follow along as I create the tale.
Gregor MacLachlan returns to Castle Lachlan, where he fostered as a green lad, ignoring rumors of fae activity. As a warrior with his cousin’s elite private guard, he hopes to prove to the clan he’s matured and has worth. A trio of pesky pixies have other plans for his heart. While hunting, a wayward shot from his bow nearly hits a strange lass who appears as if by magic.
Emily Smith follows one of the young boys in her care onto a forbidden mound in the woods behind the local garden center’s display garden and wakes in a strange bed, in a place and time not her own. Can she rise above the heartache caused by the untimely death of her fiancé and find love in the arms of the dark-eyed stranger who becomes her champion?
Emily gazed at her new husband with awe. It didn’t matter they were strangers. She sensed there was something special between them, perhaps magical, something that bound them together even though they were from different places. Different times.
She studied his full lips, anticipating the feel of them against her mouth. She moistened her lips, wanting him more than she would have imagined possible only a few days prior.
His pupils dilated, and he sucked in a ragged breath. He lifted a loose tendril of her hair and tucked it behind an ear. His calloused fingers brushed along the sensitive skin at the nape of her neck.
Fire and ice. She shivered. A delicious chill tingled over her shoulder blades. Why was he making her wait?
Happy Valentine’s Week! Tuesday may have been theday, but many romantics celebrate the entire week, some the whole month. One of the ways I’m celebrating is with a book sale. The e-book version of Just Beyond the Garden Gate, the first novel in the Highland Gardens series, is on sale at Amazon, B&N, Apple, and Kobo for a mere 99 pennies for a limited time. If you haven’t read the series yet, now would be a great time to start.
I will be presenting and signing at the St. Mary’s County Library’s Author Fair in Lexington Park MD on April 1st from 10:00 to 2:00. There will be presentations from other local authors, a writing workshop, and an information session on self-publishing. If you are in the Southern Maryland area, stop by and say hello.
On most Wednesdays, I share excerpts from my books at my author blog, Dawn Marie Hamilton Writes. Hop over there on occasion for a short read.
I’m excited and honored to share that Just Wait For Me, the third novel in the Highland Gardens series, is a finalist in the 2017 Scéal Award Contest at Books & Benches for Otherworldly Romance (paranormal, fantasy, and time travel). Winners will be announced in late March. Wish me luck!
‘Tis said a picture tells a story. In this picture, I see a portal to a fantasy realm. Perhaps a tale for a future book.
Portals in books can take a reader to a parallel universe, another time, or another realm.
In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis, the wardrobe is a portal to another realm. With the Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon uses the standing stones as a portal to the past. In my Highland Gardens series, the characters travel through an enchanted garden gate and a faerie mound to Scotland past. In Sea Panther, a wormhole in the Bermuda Triangle whisks the characters to Jamaica past.
What are some other memorable portals from books and movies?
An Excerpt from Sea Panther by Dawn Marie Hamilton
Without warning, the breeze quit. Completely stilled. Kimberly jumped into action, tending the sail while Robert engaged the engine. He shot her a strange unnerving glance as he shrugged into a black linen shirt.
She swallowed apprehensively and moved to stand beside him. “What is it?”
“The compass is going haywire. Spinning wildly.” His tone of voice revealed growing excitement.
Kimberly chewed on the edge of her lip, taut with anticipation. They’d been waiting for something to happen, though she hadn’t really believed the stories. The contents of her stomach shimmied. Was she ready to confront the unknown?
A cool mist advanced, quickly developing into dense fog, which expanded into an enormous semicircle not five hundred yards off deck.
“The RPM’s are dropping,” Robert reported.
The boat slowed to a near idle. Kimberly’s stomach lurched. She glanced at her watch. The second hand had stopped moving. She tapped on the crystal. Nothing.
She reached for Robert’s hand. “It’ll be okay,” she said, lacking true confidence.
Robert squeezed her fingers. “That’s my brave lass.”
The eerie fog swirled, encircling the sailboat yet kept a distance of about three hundred yards. Kimberly glimpsed the clear sky in the center—bright blue with no clouds. It was as if they were caught in the eye of a mellow storm.
Without warning, a large mass burst through the edge of the milky fog to hover about thirty feet above the surface of the water off their port side, throwing a huge shadow. The air smelled different. Like after a thunderstorm.
“What the hell is that?” Kimberly whispered.
“I dinnae ken.” Robert wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her tight to his side.
The elliptical shaped thing began to vibrate. She held her breath. A soft whirring broke the unnatural quiet. Lights on the bottom of the object flashed, alternating between red, green, blue, and white.
Off the sailboat’s bow, a hole opened in the fog, exposing a tunnel of sorts with swirling mist walls. Before Kimberly could blink, the floating object entered the opening and vanished. Just as quick, the tunnel entrance closed.
“Wow. Was that real?” Kimberly asked.
“I am not certain, but I read an eyewitness report within Patrice’s notes describing a similar sighting.”
“Do you think it was a UFO?”
“I hope not. If it was, then this isn’t a time portal.” Robert gave her arm a squeeze.
“It could still be. If the portal could take us back in time, why couldn’t it also bring someone, or in this case, an object from the future to our time?”
“Get rid of anything from the present time.”
As she checked her pockets to ensure she hadn’t accidentally picked up something that didn’t belong in the past, the amount of blue sky overhead shrank to nothing more than a small circle over the cockpit. Then the milky haze overtook even that tiny bright spot.
A fine mist moistened her face, and she tasted salt on her lips. The fog rolled across the deck, thickening and becoming darker and heavier as strands of vapor swirled around equipment and through openings. Visibility declined to mere inches.
Kimberly felt as if chilly fingers reached for her from within the ominous fog. She grabbed Robert’s hand. “Please don’t let go of me. I’m frightened.”
“I will keep you safe.” He wrapped muscular arms around her and pulled her back against his broad chest. “Remember to talk in the lad’s voice you practiced and if we get separated, tell anyone who finds you that you are my nephew, Ian, my cabin lad.”
Abruptly, she heard whispering within the fog.
“Ahoy there. Is anyone aboard?” The disembodied voice made her shiver.
Kimberly pressed tighter against Robert and the heat of his body. “Did you hear that?”
“Aye,” he said, voice muffled against her damp hair.
Within the fog, someone whistled a jig-like tune. The haze dissipated slightly. Three men dressed in old-fashion aviator gear stood off the bow of the sailboat as if they walked on water. One saluted, and then they all vanished into the vaporous mist.
“Oh. My. God.” Gooseflesh prickled the length of Kimberly’s arms. She leaned into Robert’s strength. “You did see that, didn’t you? I read about flight crews being lost in the forties.”
“I saw.” He gave a gentle squeeze. “I am certain we will see more unusual sights before our adventure is complete. Are you still willing?”
Kimberly took a deep, settling breath. She wasn’t letting him go alone. “Yeah.”
“Good lass.” He brought her down with him, and they settled on a cockpit bench.
The temperature dropped. Her blouse became soaked from the moist air and the cold seeped into her bones. Her teeth started to chatter.
“You’re freezing.” Robert opened the storage lazarette beside them, drew out an oiled canvas jacket, and helped her into the sleeves. When she was snug within the fabric, they resumed position with Robert hugging her from behind.
“Have I told you recently how much I respect you?” Love glowed in Robert’s tone. “How brave I think you are?”
“Thanks for the reminder.”
He kissed the top of her head, brushing lips across her hair. His arms wrapped her within comforting warmth. She sighed with contentment and burrowed closer.
Secure within Robert’s arms, Kimberly dozed until he stiffened. She flipped her eyes open. Not five feet off the starboard side of Night Thrill floated an intricately carved, wooden sailing vessel. The entire ship lay swathed in long strands of clinging seaweed, even the three rows of unmanned oars.
“What is that?”
“A Corinthian trireme…I think.” The boat rammed the side of Night Thrill, tossing them onto the deck. Robert clambered up only to lose balance as the two boats bumped again. He finally got his feet under him and stood. “Dinnae move.”
“Don’t leave me. I—”
The fog twirled, spinning fast, picking water up from the sea, tossing Night Thrill on its side. Long tendrils of kelp wrapped around Kimberly and tugged her away from Robert as seawater rushed across the deck. She reached for his hand, but their fingers slid apart as they both toppled overboard. A strong force dragged at her body, pulling her downward through a spiraling tunnel comprised of the oppressive haze.
She choked on the scream of terror caught in her throat as the world spun.
Time is almost running out. For only a short time longer, Sea Panther is part of a four author collection…
Get your copy before the set is withdrawn. Available at Amazon.
My author friend, Terry Spear, challenged me to write a short, very short story inspired by a holiday picture of my choosing for her blog . I’m also sharing the wee tale here. If you’ve read Just Wait For Me from my Highland Gardens series, you met a young lad named Tevin in the epilogue. He appears again in the upcoming novella, Just Within a Highland Mist, coming Winter 2017.
In A Red Mug and a Christmas Kiss, this very short holiday tale, Tevin is all grown up and working as a Santa’s helper for the holidays at Foxgloves, the garden center owned by his mother, Jillian, and her two partners…
A Red Mug and a Christmas Kiss
by Dawn Marie Hamilton
Melinda had always wanted to be a Santa’s helper. At twenty-five, it seemed like a silly childhood dream.
Snowflakes danced on the breeze, landing on her cheeks and the tip of her nose. She shivered and sipped from the red ceramic mug she’d just purchased at the garden center’s gift shop along with hot cider. The owners of Foxgloves were Scottish and all the greenery was decorated with tartan ribbon and bows.
Wandering past rows of Christmas trees, the sharp scent of fir, along with apple and cinnamon from the cider, reminded her of Christmases long past. She missed her family. Felt alone in this new mountain town.
In the center of the display garden, a Christmas village had been erected. Young men, dressed in kilts and tunics and wearing elf hats, used hand puppets to entertain children waiting their turn to sit on Santa’s lap and give the white-bearded man their Christmas wish lists.
Melinda couldn’t help but ogle the guys’ muscular legs exposed to the chilly air. She’d be covered in goose bumps if she—
“Lass, would you be so kind as to help me with a medieval skit?”
She lifted her gaze from a firm pair of masculine legs, up a tight body, to very kissable lips that broadened into a grin. Blue eyes glinted with humor. Heat burned her cheeks. And it wasn’t from the steam rising from the red mug.
“Aren’t you cold?” she blurted. “I mean, of course, I’d be happy to help.” Gosh. She sounded silly.
“My name is Tevin,” he said.
“Mine is Melinda.”
He handed her a puppet depicting a faerie princess and another a fair maiden and introduced her to the crowd as Santa’s Helper Melinda. She then joined him in an improvised skit where the faerie princess bestowed magic powers upon a warrior who slayed a dragon and won the hand of the fair maiden.
The children clapped.
“That was fun,” she said as they walked away from the Christmas village to a secluded picnic table.
“It was.” He pulled a flask out of his sporran. “I’m finished for the night. Would you care for some whisky?”
He poured a small measure of the amber liquid into the red mug and handed it over. She sipped the drink and smiled. How could she let him know of her interest in him without feeling a fool?
Tevin took the mug from her hand and drank from the spot her lips had touched. “I like the taste of your lips. May I?”
The intent glowing in his eyes near to burned her. Her stomach shimmied. Still, she nodded.
His arm encircled her waist; drew her close. The touch of his lips against hers was soft. Gentle. Stole her breath. Became demanding. She dropped the empty red mug into the snow and wrapped her arms around his neck, surrendering to the magic of his Christmas kiss.