Friday, November 21, 2014

Book Blitz for The Broken Destiny:A Broken Novel by Carlyle Labuschagne!!


Title: The Broken Destiny: A Broken Novel Book two Author: Carlyle Labuschagne 
Genre: Dystopian. Science- Fiction. YA 
Release Date: November 2014 
Publishers: Hallowed Ink Press

Blurb: "You cannot know what light is if you have not experienced darkness"  Ava and her people have been exiled to the planet Poseidon for reasons she can't fathom. Upon meeting a boy from a different sector, her life turns into a beautiful chaos. She begins to feel things she isn't allowed to, thus motivating her to find out the truth about why her kind are so different, and why the Council are so interested in her. Once her mind is freed, with it comes a terrible power that could either save her kind, or destroy them all. But Ava is not the perfect heroine. She will become what she hates to save the ones she loves, and the cost of such a burden is deadly at best.
Carlyle Labuschagne is a South African award winning author working her way into the hearts of international readers with her first two books in the Broken Trilogy. Her first young adult dystopian novel "The Broken Destiny" reached top 3 in its YA debut Category. The Sequel Evanescent won YATR literary award for best Sci-Fi book 2013. Her become a published author prgramme for students launched Feb 2014. She is not only an author, but works as a marketing manager by day. She holds a diploma in creative writing through the writing school at College SA. Carlyle loves to swim, fights for the trees, and is a food lover who is driven by her passion for life. Carlyle also writes for IU e-magazine India, an inspirational non-profit magazine that aims at inspiring the world through words. The drive behind her author career is healing through words. Carlyle is also the founder of the first annual book drive – Help Build A Library in Africa Project. And hopes to launch her very own Indie book festival in Johannesburg March 2015. “My goal as an author is to touch people’s lives, and help others love their differences and one another.”
Author Links:
Buy Links: Amazon


Chapter OneOh, Star

I wasn’t sure why they called us ‘The Broken’, but what I did know for certain was that we were different from the other ‘human’ inhabitants of this planet. We were the third generation of our kind, with a huge―some would say, cursed―destiny. We are also the last of our kind, a dying race. I used to believe that the reason we were exiled to Planet Poseidon was because we were a lot different from the humans on Earth. They tell us at assembly every morning that we are what survived of Earth because of those differences.
 Global warming, war and evil undertakings were said to have contributed to Earth’s destruction in the late twentieth century. Greed stripped Earth of its ‘magic’ and caused the planet to turn on itself. A way of getting rid of the ‘virus’, so to speak. Did I buy into those lies anymore - No. I believed that there was a lot more to the story behind our origins and our extradition to a long forgotten sector within the Titan galaxy was no accident. I could feel it in the cold burn of my legs as I walked the hollow halls of our institutions, and I could see it on the eerie motionless faces of my peers every day. Little by little, small things started changing and I started believing in the signs my mother wrote about in her secret journals.
A haunting feeling stared back at me as I looked upon my reflection in the monitor every morning, clearly remembering as a young child my iris were a lot bluer. At first I thought it was the effect of the changeover from mirror to monitor. I used to think that maybe the mirror was the lie. That it was evil and that that was the reason it had been outlawed. But so many new laws had been put into place over the last few years, I was beginning to doubt our perfect Utopia really existed, that beneath the surface something deceivingly dark was brewing, and the nightmares my biological mother wrote about were real events the council had stripped from her memories. Keeping it on paper was the only way she could decipher real memories from the planet ones.
Excerpt 3
My mother has me in some kind of arranged marriage, to the chief’s idiotic son of all people. I don’t want that. But it’s my duty. I have to. ” She said staring into the ground.
 “You don’t have to anything!” I shouted defensively. “No one can force you into a life you don’t want.”
My heart was racing, as my feet hit the wooden platform of the bridge. But the look on Maya’s face made me calm my anger and consider my words carefully, because the truth was that people did make me do things I didn’t want to.
Maya didn’t speak for a moment. From her facial expressions, I could tell she was having a fascinating debate in her own head. My eyes fell on the small stream. Only, the stream was no longer gentle.
“What do you suppose this means, then?” I asked Maya as I stopped to look over the edge of the bridge, my hands grasping the rail firmly as I peered all the way down the shallow canyon. By the look on her face, I knew I wasn’t imagining things and that she was concerned, not excited to have the planet alive again. Surely this would mean the cycle of autumn is finally over? She stood motionless on the overpass. We were both looking down on what used to be the tiny stream that snaked through the pebbles and disappeared over the ridge among the rocks and into the valley.
Maya grabbed my right arm tightly and tugged me away with such force that I almost fell over my own feet. Our footfalls clattered loudly over the bridge, as it slowly swayed beneath us.  
“Slow down, will you?” I yelled at her in frustration. “What’s going on, Maya?” The urgency in my voice momentarily startled us both.
“The prophecy,” she said distantly, keeping her eyes straight ahead.
“What?” I snapped.
But all she would say over and over again was: “It’s too soon! Too soon. Something’s wrong.”
I heard a loud thud. The bridge suddenly swayed dramatically and I looked down, trying to figure out what could have caused the sudden erratic motion. I noticed Maya extracting a sharp object from her boot. She was crouching down, baring her teeth like a wild cat. I tried to turn, but a sharp sting shot through my thigh. I looked down to see a long, red splinter protruding from my skin.
Maya shrieked and came at me, a thin dagger gripped tightly in her hand. She came hard and fast. I stood frozen in shock. What is she doing?My vision blurred and I started feeling dizzy. Maya yelled for me to get down, but I was frozen with fear. Suddenly, she ran around me and up on to the railing. She came crashing down―not on me as I had expected, but on something behind me. I staggered and fell on my hands and knees, barely feeling the hard wood as it pressed against my trembling palms and bony knees.
There was shouting. The bridge continued to sway beneath me, making it hard for me to clear my head…to get away. I managed to turn my neck just in time to see two dark figures climbing over the railing, reaching for me. Four powerful, dark hands clamped down on my arms and legs and lifted me off my feet. I heard Maya scream my name, but I was limp and couldn’t move.
As I was hurled away, unable to struggle, I could make out Maya’s form standing over the body of one of our attackers. She struck out at the two remaining assailants who were dragging me away. Another sudden shudder shook the bridge. I could hear the sound of weapons and fists flying around me. I dropped to the floor, suddenly free. By now I was completely numb. I didn’t feel the thud. It should have hit me full on. Instead, I tasted dust and then copper; blood.
Maya stood over me and yelled for someone called Enoch. I looked up at her as my vision faintly perceived two Zulu warriors grabbing her. I shouted for her safety, but the words got stuck in my throat, and I was lifted to my feet once more as they tore her off me. Maya screamed and fought her way out of our attackers’ claws. I heard an object slice through the air, passing over my head with a soft whistle. A dull thump and a soft growl followed, before the hands let me go.
This time I didn’t hit the ground. I kept on falling. I could barely hear the water over the shouting and after what felt like an immense force, I was underwater being overpowered by the cold.
Crystal blue eyes floated towards me like shooting stars, and I allowed myself to surrender to the darkness.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Release Day Blitz for Enlightening Bloom by Michelle Turner!!


Title: Enlightening Bloom
Author: Michelle Turner
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours
Synopsis:
Who knew finding out shifters are real would be the easy part?
Trying to finalize the bond with her mate, Pike, Bloom is struck with a mysterious illness that puts a strain on the newly mated pair. They’re forced to take off on their mating night to track down a long lost relative in hope’s she’ll have the cure and answers they desperately need.
Bonnie Harris took it in stride when her best friend hooked up with a wolf shifter. But can she do the same thing? Her mind is telling her no, but her heart is telling her yes. Which will she listen to?
The Masterson pack is thrown for a loop when a pack member’s past is revealed. Will they all be able to stand together and survive when one of their own brings an old enemy to their door?
Michelle is a native Ohioan who now finds herself in the mountain state of West Virginia. She lives with her husband, son, and three spoiled rotten dogs. When she isn't spending time with her family you can find her with her nose stuck in a book or her head in the clouds as she dreams up new adventures for her characters.

Author Links: 
Facebook 

Buy Links: 
Amazon
~Pike~
Bloom pulls back, and with passion burning in her hazel eyes whispers. “Mark me, Tennessee.”
I move us further into the room, press my lips to my favorite freckle right in the crook of her neck, and whisper against her skin. “As you wish, Darlin’.” I let my teeth sharpen into that of my wolf. I place one hand at the small of her back, holding her closer to me. The other is sifted into her hair at the other side of her neck. Her breathing is heavy against my own skin, from both fear and want. Or maybe more from need. A need so thick it’s pulsating around the room. We need each other. We’ve always needed each other, even when we didn’t know who the other was. And we always will need each other. It’s how we’re made. I give into that need I feel to the very core of me, and through the bond I feel to the core of my mate, and I sink my teeth into her soft flesh.
I close my eyes, letting the pure pleasure of the moment wash over me. She’s now unmistakably mine. I don’t want the moment to end but I know there are still good moments ahead of us, so I retract my teeth and lick the spot to clean it. She’s still in my arms, but now that my mind is clearing I feel how tense she is. I pull back, still holding onto her, and take in her face. It’s scrunched in to one of pain.
“Bloom?” I ask, confused as to what’s happening. She pulls out of my arms and crumples to the floor, letting out a blood curdling scream. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Until I Die Again by Gary A. Caruso!!





Title: Until I Die Again
Author: Gary Caruso
Genre: Dark YA, Romantic Thriller 15+
Hosted by:
Lady Amber's Tours

Blurb: In Until I Die Again, the highly anticipated sequel to Our Souls to Keep, Wake is alone in Hell, comforted and tormented by the memory of Annemarie. As session after session of torture on Bethany's table moves Wake closer to surrendering the last remaining fragments of his humanity, he receives information from an unlikely source. Nevin tells him that Annemarie's son Jacob is still in danger.

After discovering the true nature of Lucifer's plan for Jacob, Wake is determined to do the impossible—escape the Gates of Hell! He soon finds out that this unlikely task isn’t his greatest challenge. Wake learns the true meaning of self-sacrifice and the ultimate consequence of death as he searches for a way to break his contract with Satan. With an all-out war between Heaven and Hell in the near future, and the destiny of humanity at stake, Wake must decide who to trust as he battles to save a young boy from the powerful forces of Hell.

Author Bio:


Gary Caruso lives in northern Virginia with his wife Jill, but their favorite place is in Ohio with their three beautiful grandchildren. Although Gary is exhilarated when he sits down to write, teaching middle school science is his first love. He’s passionate about empowering students to make thoughtful decisions and positive choices in life. Gary enjoys reading, especially fiction that blurs the line between what’s real and what’s fantasy. He never imagined becoming a writer until an ordinary car ride on a spring day jolted an unlikely thought into his head. Gary’s early experience writing is a reminder that no matter how intimidating the challenge, action and determination are the foundations for fulfilling any dream. Gary has an insatiable love for writing, a blessing he’s excited to share with his readers.

Links:
WEBSITE

FACEBOOK

 
GOODREADS

BOOK LINK:
Amazon

Excerpt:
How much agony can a man endure before he surrenders every precious thought of the woman he holds most dear? I’ve lost count of the successive days of torture. Time after time, long, flat strips of glowing hot iron are pressed onto my exposed arms and legs. They sear away the flesh, layer by layer, almost to the bone, and the pungent smell of charring meat and the crackling of curling skin dominate my senses. I struggle to keep a lucid image of Annemarie’s beautiful smile in mind and remember the gentle touch of her soft fingertips as they glide across the coarse skin of my cheek. It’s the only string of goodness that remains from my vanishing humanity, but the torment of every exposed nerve scratches at my soul, seeking to push me beyond the edges of insanity.

Like a vise clamped on a piece of wood, my teeth clench into my lower lip until they eventually pierce through. I’m repulsed by the sour, metallic taste of my demon blood, but the pain refocuses my determination and keeps me from begging for mercy. The pain will stop if I surrender what remains of my broken humanity. As another bolt of pain tears at my body, I tighten my jaw again. I can’t crumble on Bethany’s table. I refuse to give her the pleasure.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Review of Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny!!


Finding Prince Charming sure is hard work

Popular high school senior Jessica Stone has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ kind of nerd. But she gave herself the ultimate makeover and applied all her academic genius to study and imitate the social elite and now she rules the school. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for spring break. That is, until her biology teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing and her only chance to make up the grade is to join the conservation club in Panama to save the golden frog.

Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, including a ghost from her past that could threaten her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving her lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three non-dates. The last thing Jess wants to do is be around him any more than she has to, but she’s desperate to keep him quiet and agrees. Soon she begins to realize the worth of her inner nerd, and that one frog in particular could be her prince in disguise.

Set in the lush and tropical El Valle de Anton, Kissing Frogs is a smart and funny re-imagining of “The Frog Prince” with an environmental heartbeat.

Rated E - Everyone over ten: Content is suitable for everyone but may contain mild violence and language and minimal suggestive themes.

Release date is November 18th, but click HERE to pre-order the book!

THE REVIEW

I really loved this book!

The thing Jess Stone has been looking forward to for spring break is her birthday trip with her gorgeous boyfriend Miles to Miami.  She's heartbroken when the plans are suddenly cancelled and she finds herself in Panama with the Conservation Club, as a way to pass biology.

It doesn't help matters that Travis Henley, the boys who teased her in elementary school is on the trip as well.  She's fought so hard to get rid of her geeky nerd image to be with the popular crowd, that it's hard to fit in with the smart people again.  Also, there are two girls who are determined to make the trip miserable for her.

While learning about the golden frogs of Panama, she realizes that being the smart girl isn't so bad.  Travis makes it known that he wants to prove he's not the jerk she believes him to be, and she begrudgingly decides to let him.  At the same time, she's trying to get ahold of Miles and her friends, and is heartbroken to find that he's decided to he wants a break.

Things change for Travis after he finds her Great-grandmother's ring.  As payment for finding it, he wants three non-dates with Jess so he can change her mind about him.  He's not the jerk she thinks he is, although, I do believe he was doing it just to get her attention.  While going on these non-dates, she finds herself actually liking him and wanting to spend time with him.

As I said, I loved this book!  Going on this trip made her realize that she was hiding a piece of herself, and by getting to know these few kids, she came to know what was more important.

********

THE AUTHOR


Alisha Sevigny holds a degree in Sociology and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent and current Social Media and Communications Director for an award-winning English school. A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a recent trip to Panama with their new daughter, Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog. She was inspired to write her first Young Adult novel, Kissing Frogs. Born and raised in Kitimat, British Columbia, Alisha has always had a strong connection to the environment and conservationist spirit. She now lives in Toronto with her family.

Review for Forgiving Gia by Gina Whitney!!


Title: Forgiving Gia (Rocker Series: Two)
Author: Gina Whitney
Genre: Erotica BDSM
Cover Designed by: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Hosted by: Lady Amber's Tours


Blurb:
Abel Gunner is a Dom rock-star with legendary skills in the bedroom. He swore he wouldn’t fall for another women after scheming manipulative Morgana. Until, he met his new Sub Gia Mastro. His darkened soul longed for her submission, affection, and ultimately love. Her pain brings the pleasure he craves. They share a deep connection that has him craving the love he never asked for. Her smile calms the beast that rages within. Gia loves Abel more than life itself. But, Abel is devastated by what he perceives as lies and deceit and threatens to destroy what little happiness Gia’s ever known. Her life hangs in the balance. His life depends on forgiving her. This couple must face many truths: Is love enough to overcome the damage that dwells within? Gia’s experiences with love have been nil. Until meeting the infamous bad-boy rocker Abel Gunner. Swept up in a mind-bending Dom/Submissive love affair she’s force to make decisions that have both helped and hurt their relationship. Gia’s mother has betrayed her in the worst possible way. Abel’s ex-girlfriend Morgana an unbearable thorn. When she wakes her reality is stripped of meaning. Abel, has walked away from her leaving her imprisoned with torment within her own mind. They both have to face their demons before they can embrace a future together. In the end, they’re faced with two choices: Fight for love or die with their demons.

Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads TBR list!! 



THE REVIEW
First let me say this.... if you don't like erotica or aren't comfortable with the BDSM lifestyle, then this book isn't for you.  Also you must read Saving Abel first before you read this book.

Now, onto the review!!  

I have been impatiently waiting for this book to come out... from the moment Saving Abel ended, I was bugging Gina about when this book would be done.  I had to read it.  I HAD TO!!!!  

Gia is heartbroken over Abel turning his back and leaving her... so much so she makes a devastating decision.  Seeing her absolute devastation is heartbreaking, but she gets help in the most surprising person. A person who wants to get her back with Abel and have them stay together this time.  

Once Abel finds out what happened after he left and is reunited with her, he's heartbroken, and sets about making it up to her.  He realizes he's been lied to about Gia by people who want to bring her down, but knows they belong together.  They are both broken, dealing with demons of their own, but together they realize they are stronger together.  

What they don't expect is that someone is helping the woman out to break them apart.  They don't know who, but Abel is determined to find out and take care of them.  The last thing he wants is for Gia to be hurt again.  

I honestly read this book in less then a day!!  I could.not.stop.reading.it!!  Within the first fifteen minutes I had fallen in love with Abel all over again!!  For Gia, being back with her man is everything for her.  She knows she's in danger, but she loves him completely and does not want to lose him. She understands him better then most people would, and he loves her more for it.  

*********

THE AUTHOR

 

Author Bio:

Gina Whitney grew up reading Judy Blume, and Nancy Drew books. She was raised in the town of North Valley Stream, New York(Long Island)and attended community college for fashion design. At 19 she opened a boutique. She recently published her first paranormal romance novel Blood Ties. When she's not writing, she's hanging with family and friends. She shares a home with her wonderful son’s PJ and Drew, and their 200lb Mastiff Hercules. She currently lives in Massapequa, New York. Reading has always been a passion and obsession. You can usually find her typing furiously while shouting obscenities over her latest work. She also enjoys a good laugh, being snarky, espresso, and above all steamy swooning angst filled novels. She's pathologically obsessed with True Blood(Eric ;), Games of Thrones, Borgias, Vampire Diaries and Originals. You can also find her chatting it up with readers on Facebook.

Links:

Buy Links:

Forgiving Gia’s playlist

Take Me Home ~ Cash Cash
Chandelier ~ Sia
The Worst ~ Jhene Aiko
One Wing ~ Jordan Sparks
Love Will ~ Jordan Sparks
Always ~ Bon Jovi
Make A Memory ~ Bon Jove
Blurry ~ Puddle Of Mud
Riptide ~ Sick Of Puppies
Send the Pain Below ~ Chevelle
Through Glass ~ Stone Sour
You ~ Breaking Benjamin
Lips Of An Angel ~ Hinder
Same Old War ~ Our Last Night
Radioactive ~ Our Last Night
Dark Horse ~ Our Last Night
Addicted ~ Saving Abel
Skin ~ Sixx: A.M.
Better Than Me ~ Hinder


Monday, November 3, 2014

Cover Reveal for Disturbingly Beautiful - A Paradox in Time by J & L Wells!!

Title: Disturbingly Beautiful – A Paradox in Time
Author: J & L Wells
Genre: New Adult, Time Travel/ Regency Romance
Release Date November 2014


Synopsis:
The premeditated ripping of her dress seals her fate, and an intricate family plot slowly begins to unravel in which she finds herself centre stage. She was never supposed to leave Haunchcroft estate … and he will do everything in his power to keep her there.
Nell Dodsworth, a nineteenth-century governess, is seeking alternative employment following the tragic passing of her ward, Abigale. Her master, Mr Buchannan, suggests that she work for his elder sister, and until such time as she is able to take up the position, he insists that she remain at Haunchcroft Estate.
It is unheard of for a master to be so familiar with a member of the household as Mr Buchannan is with Nell, and after an uncomfortable encounter, he confuses her with his parting words … “My dear, I find you disturbingly beautiful.”
For reasons known only to her, Nell is anything but fond of Mr Buchannan and does everything in her power to avoid him. However, her avoidance tactics are usually unsuccessful, for it always seems that he has a way of seeking her out.
Upon overhearing a conversation between Mr Buchannan and his bedridden father, the Earl of Dulverton, Nell is unnerved by the revelation that her master intends to marry her. As the glass she is holding slips from her fingers, the noise alerts Mr Buchannan and she is discovered. While escorting her onto the landing, he requests that she join him in his bedchamber.       
Unnerved by a thief on the estate, Nell gives chase and in so doing manages to travel forward in time, finding herself in the 1960s. Having left her archaic existence far behind, her life is suddenly enhanced as she finds friendship, egalitarianism and true love. But complexities unfold, leaving her broken-hearted after finding the man with whom she hopes to share the rest of her life….
On finding that there is no future for her in that time period, Nell returns home, though all is not well. The ripping of her dress seals her fate, and an intricate family plot slowly begins to unravel in which she is centre stage….
It is all too much for Nell to comprehend, and once again, she runs away, only this time she finds herself in the twenty-first century. When she comes face to face with a broken family, she discovers that many of their underlying problems are the result of her actions from her visit to the 1960s. Where love flourishes it has the means of finding a way, seemingly allowing Mr Buchannan to travel to this era to be with her.
When he finally meets up with Nell he sets the record straight, leading to a night of passion under the watchful eye of the stars. Wanting to be together but unable to settle in the twenty-first century, they decide to travel home. When they return to the year 1813, a paradox is created-
Laura Wells is a swimming teacher, with a love of books, animals and, of course, Jane Austen. Once a national swimmer, she now runs three swim schools of her own. She enjoys spending her spare time with her family and two mad Shiba Inus. She lives in Staffordshire, England.
Judy Wells works at a school; in her spare time she enjoys writing poetry and novels, and spending time with her animals. She also lives in Staffordshire, England.
Laura and Judy are a mother and daughter duo; with Judy's love of poetry and writing and Laura's ideas, they work extremely well together. Time-travel and historical romance novels are their passion, and they hope that after you have read their books, you will feel the same.
Our website is: www.jandlwells.com
Why not come and say hello to us on Facebook - J & L Wells -
and have a look at our novels on Goodreads:
http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23298081-disturbingly-beautiful
Nell sighed as she entered the little girl’s bedchamber. The crisp cotton bedcovers were crumpled and misplaced from their usual perfection. Her long strands of chestnut hair, an interwoven decorative remembrance, lay across the pillowcases. The darkened room and its melancholic mood were now aglow as a powdery light filtered between an opening in the drapes, eerie in appearance. To her it looked as though minute crystals hung in a display of elegance.
Abigale was now a mere memory, though one held ardently within the fabric of Nell’s heart. The empty room, once filled with happiness and hours of laughter, was now an empty shroud of yesterdays gone by.
Nell ruched up the coarse material of her skirt between her fingers and knelt down, her knees instantly chilled by the stone hearth as she warmed herself before the open coals. She felt angered, for the winter months had been particularly harsh this year. Cruel, she thought to herself.
She gave a sideways glance and from the corner of her eye caught sight of winter’s first snowflakes. Abigale adored the snow, and had done from a very early age. Remembering that time, a shiver ran the length of Nell’s spine. Letting out a despondent sigh, she rose to her feet and straightened her clothing. It was a bittersweet emotion that surged inside her. In the next few days she would be leaving her post of governess and the life she had known for the past five years. She was touched by a pang of nostalgia as her eyes caught the black crepe band she wore around her arm in mourning for her ward. She paused momentarily to reminisce.
Abigale had been such a bright, pleasurable child to teach, her art in needlecraft commendable. It was such a pity that she had been a sickly soul, and from birth, Nell had been told.
With Christmas just over a month away, she was saddened by the realisation that Abigale would not be here to share this year’s festivities. Nell had spent many hours preparing her gift, but the embroidery would remain incomplete on the petite bodice of the dress, and now the garment lay with no purpose. She could envisage Abigale wearing it, the pretty little girl with a ribbon tied in her hair running towards her. Nell could still recall the pallor of her skin, like the virgin snowflake; it was long ago that the kiss of a rose had left her cheeks. The bitter weather had served Abigale no favours; her chest was her overriding weakness, and pneumonia her downfall. Even when the end was nigh and breaths were hard to take, she was still able to offer Nell a paper-thin smile as she sat holding her hand and watched her fade away. Words were not needed, for she knew how much she was loved.
Her mourning brought with it a cold reality that broke through the silence. How she would miss that beautiful girl, snatched from life so cruelly at only twelve years of age.
Nell meandered towards the window, and lifting her arm slightly pushed aside the heavy velvet drapes, allowing in more light which danced around the walls of the bedchamber, illuminating the bold wooden panelling and turning the numerous tapestries into a rich display of artistry.
She folded her arms neatly across her chest, pulling in her petite frame. A heavy sigh passed between her lips as she cast her gaze far out across the fifty-acre gardens. A three-tiered landscape opened up before her. Her eyes embraced an open fan of evergreens, their branches kissed by the frost, leaving only the briefest of imprints. Sporadic stepping stones weaved their way from one tier to the next, and a small stream appeared to join their divide where snowflakes fell, their individuality lost forever. Its dramatic incline gave the extensive gardens an illusion of endlessness.
Nell was overwhelmed by a sudden feeling of freedom. After all the heartache, how she relished the thought of what a new beginning would bring. Perhaps she would find employment as a teacher, a path she found to be most agreeable. In her opinion she needed a change; her role of governess was all played out. The position had brought with it much isolation; she was shunned by the servants, and not valued by her employers, so she found herself to be neither fish nor fowl in the estate. She was a middle-class lady, for all intents and purposes, and it was only due to her parents’ lack of wealth that she had to seek employment; but this had prevented her from being considered an equal alongside that echelon.
A warm glow inside ignited her imagination, throwing her into a fictional world where words, lines and chapters from the countless books she had read came to life, filling her mind with hope. How different her life could be if she were to become a leading lady in one of the novels she had read, how her dreams could lift her from the monotony of the life she led. The picture she painted in her mind was herself as a beautiful butterfly — a red admiral — hovering high above the world, visiting flower gardens. She had no intention of outstaying her welcome, or forming liaisons, remaining just long enough for her beauty to be admired, for the briefest of moments, for then once again she would be free, at one with herself and with nature. It was so very different from the constraints of Haunchcroft, where the walls held her deep within. It was only Abigale’s presence that had given the walls a warmth, allowing her to feel able to live happily inside.
Nell snapped out of her daydreams as footsteps entered the bedchamber, and she listened as they echoed over the polished wooden floorboards. The reflections of the frosted gardens were lost in an instant as her master stole up from behind. He was now the reflection staring back at her.
“Mr Buchannan, you startled me.” Nell breathed heavily.
A trickle of condensation decorated the glass pane as Nell did her best to compose herself. She did not turn to greet him, her backward stance hiding her unease.
“You rise early, sir,” she stuttered, choking out her words.
Although she had seen the gentleman at various times around the estate, she was not overly familiar with Abigale’s father, and whenever their paths crossed she felt uncomfortable in his presence. She took a breath, allowing her the courage to speak.
“I would just like to take the time to express how very sorry I am for your loss.”
There was an awkward silence as Nell’s eyes traced his reflection through the partially frozen windowpane; his facial outline looked angular through the icy glass, giving his distorted features a stern, unapproachable look.
Turning slightly, Nell said, “You will no longer be requiring my services.” Exhaling, she continued, “I shall send word to my father, who will arrange for my transportation home. All I ask is if you could possibly supply me with a reference?”
“That will not be necessary; my family do not wish you to leave.”
Nell was thrown off guard by his response.
“You see, Miss Dodsworth, my niece has outgrown her nanny, and my sister is seeking a governess as we speak. You need not worry your father; I assume that his parish requires his undivided attention. If you are agreeable to my sister’s offer, then I will provide your transportation to her home in Gloucestershire; your reference to her will be my word.”
“Thank you kindly, but since your daughter’s death, I have had a change of heart.” Nell could feel a pain rise within, and hurriedly blinked back her tears. “I cannot possibly put myself in the position to grow as close to, and to love another child as I came to love dear Abby.”
“My sister will be most displeased, for you know not how I have sung your praises. Please do not be hasty in your decision, and allow me to arrange a formal introduction. I have it on good authority that Catherine will be arriving in the coming weeks.”
“Sir…”
She paused, his fallen face showing the non-appreciation of her reply.
“Have I offended you, sir?” she enquired, looking up sheepishly, for eye contact with Mr Buchannan felt so demeaning.
Nell could not help but notice the confusion etched on his face, the rise of his dark brow. How much softer his features appeared in close proximity. Mr Buchannan was in his early thirties, a good few years her senior. A peppering of light auburn streaks highlighted his sideburns and deep-brown hair. She could feel his eyes as they penetrated her own, and their softness ebbed. His eyes were like dark pools of the most unusual colour, a gunmetal grey, deep set, cold and unfeeling. She held his gaze, difficult though it was. A silence fell, broken only by the constant tapping of Mr Buchannan’s shoe on the floorboards.
“No, my dear,” he said abruptly, taking a step forwards. “I find it hard to comprehend that such a handsome creature as yourself could be no more than a mere governess.”
Nell frowned; she felt his words to be both belittling and complimentary, if that were possible. His tone was harsh, and it held an annoyance that she was unable to read. His offhandedness forced her to lower her eyes, immediately returning her to her station. If anyone was capable of making her feel subservient, it was Mr Buchannan, and he had managed to do just that with one short sentence. Her eyes rose as she felt his hand brush against her face. She flinched at the feel of his smooth skin against her own.
“Sir!” Blushing, she gasped as his hand swept along her cheek, his index finger coming to rest softly upon her lips.
“You, madam, are my weakness. Believe me when I say that I did not seek you out, you just happened upon me.” His eyes widened. “You have not the slightest idea how I have tried to fight my desires long and hard, but I have to admit defeat; I have succumbed to your charms.” His words faltered as he continued. “I … I find you uncommonly…” With a shake of his head he corrected himself. “No, my dear, I find you disturbingly beautiful.”
 

A Bakin' up Blogs Design Copyright © 2011 The Blog Bakery