Thursday, April 28, 2016

In the Spotlight Midnight In Berlin by James McManus

Welcome James McManus to Writer's Corner.  We are pleased to share his book Midnight in Berlin.  I have always found Historical fiction set during World War II an interesting read.  I think you will too!

Berlin in the spring of 1939. Hitler is preparing for war. Colonel Noel Macrae, a British diplomat, plans the ultimate sacrifice to stop him. The West’s appeasement policies have failed. There is only one alternative: assassination. The Gestapo, aware of Macrae’s hostility, seeks to compromise him in their infamous brothel. There Macrae meets and falls in love with Sara, a Jewish woman blackmailed into becoming a Nazi courtesan.
Macrae finds himself trapped between the blind policies of his government and the dark world of betrayal and deception in Berlin. As he seeks to save the woman he loves from the brutality of the Gestapo, he defies his government and plans direct action to avert what he knows will be a global war.
Inspired by true events and characters, James MacManus’s Midnight in Berlinis a passionate story that will leave you in awe of the human capacity for courage, sacrifice, and love set against a world on the brink of war.


About the Author:  
  • James MacManus is the managing director of The Times Literary Supplement. He is the author of Ocean Devil, which was made into a film starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, The Language of the Sea, Black Venus, and Sleep in Peace Tonight. He lives in London.
  • Please visit James on his Website, Facebook, and Twitter.
  • To Purchase the novel follow the links to these retailers:  
  • Amazon
  • Barnes and Noble
  • IndieBound

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

In the Spotlight: Ellie Campbell and Meddling With Murder

The Ladies of Ellie Campbell are back with their latest novel.We are happy to have them back at Writer's Corner.

What is Meddling With Murder about?

CrouchEndConfidential,theagency started by housewife, Cathy O’Farrell, with ex-cleaner Pimple, is failing badly. Hardly surprising when their only clients are little old ladies seeking lost pets. Until the strange case of the missing dog…
Soon Cathy’s multiple problems include stolen bikes, a possible murder weapon, the sabotage of her friends’ new shop, drug-dealing yobbos targeting her children’s primary school and being forced to pose as the world’s most inept maths tutor. Worse, best friend Rosa hires her to investigate fiancĂ© Alec and – horrors – Cathy’s husband Declan is intent on moving himself, Cathy and kids to the safer climes of rural Norfolk. Suddenly Cathy is endangering her marriage, friendships and her life to untangle these messes.

Excerpt:  Chapter 1

What the fudge?
The branch creaks alarmingly as I test my weight against it. For a second I think it might snap but then my foot slips and we part company anyway. Bark scrapes another layer off my grazed skin and to my horror I find myself tipping backwards, falling, falling…

Far beneath me my daughter Sophie gives an unwitting squeal, Henrietta’s twins shriek in unison and I hear son Josh call out ‘Mummeeee!’ when as much by luck as design my left arm catches a forked limb long enough for me to grasp it and come to a bone-jolting, shoulder-wrenching stop. Sweat drips down my body, my knees shake uncontrollably and something’s poking between my ribs like a sharpened spear, causing an actual hole through clothes into flesh.

Dangling, I somehow hook one leg round the main trunk and cling there like my life depends on it. Which, for the record, it does.

‘Hang on, Mum!’ Sophie yells for perhaps the fifteenth time. She’d wanted to climb up here but I’d told her it was too dangerous. When will I listen to my own advice?

I stop panting long enough to call down. ‘I’m OK, sweetheart. Perfectly safe.’ How long since I last clambered up a tree? Me, an overweight, unfit middle-aged, mother-of-two in not so skinny jeans. And what did I promise my family – that I’d avoid potentially risky situations? That any cases I took on would absolutely not involve capturing murderers or exposing criminals? Not that our patch of North London known as Crouch End is inundated with killings, just that I’ve somehow succeeded in entangling myself with two in the last eighteen months. And now the simplest of mundane jobs has turned an everyday school drop-off into what could possibly be my final farewell.

A terrified glance below shows Sophie clutching on to her younger brother’s arm, their long-standing feud forgotten as they contemplate their mother’s plight. Lauren, Henrietta’s eldest by two seconds, is hopping from foot to foot, pale with anxiety while her sister’s nervously studying her watch. I wonder what’s upsetting them most – the thought of Aunty Cathy’s untimely demise or being late for class. Yet again.
Three feet above me, inches from reach, a tortoiseshell cat stares down with baleful yellow eyes. I hold out a coaxing hand. ‘Here, Fluffy. C’mon, kitty. Pishhh whishh.’
Disregarding me entirely, he licks his paw before stalking further out, balancing on a twig, with the arrogant grace of a tightrope walker. Oh how I wish I’d ignored him when I saw that distinctive white-tipped tail swagger across the zebra crossing. But I’d spent weeks scouring backyards, crawling on hands and knees, peeking under parked cars, over hedges, listening to sweet old Mrs Thompson choke back sobs as I admitted failure.

I’m gathering my courage and strength to scale higher when my mobile rings. I wedge my bum into a crevice between branch and tree, tighten my hold and, with a few contortions worthy of the great Houdini, extract my phone from my pocket to peer at the screen.

Caller’s number withheld. Should I answer it?
Am I in any position to answer it?
Could be urgent.

‘Hello?’ I venture.

‘Is this…?’ A woman. Middle-aged at a guess, posh sounding. She drops to a muted whisper so low I have to crane to hear. ‘The HP…um…WS…um…thingy?’
Several months back I’d been donated this money, you see, ten thousand pounds, which was kind of hot, but gone cold. Semi-illegal – not to be returned. Brilliant timing as my husband, Declan, had recently re-evaluated what he wanted from life: Rhode Island Reds and a less pressurised career, I’d been suspended from work and my house cleaner, Pimple, was tired of domestic duties. I was thinking maybe it’s time I should do some soul-searching. So we, as in Pimple and myself, decided to start up a business.
‘That’s right,’ I say briskly, with enough softness to encourage conversation. ‘The H.P.W.W.O.C.S. Helping People Who Would Otherwise Commit Suicide. Or even H.P.W.M.O.C.S. – People Who Might Otherwise…but we’re called Crouch End Confidential now.’ Impromptu market research among friends had ended up with tongue-tied repetitions and lots of ‘You whats?’

We’d originally substituted the would for might, because after all, how can one predict who’ll kill themselves? Some people threaten it with no intention of going through with it and others, not a word and then boom – lives are devastated. Then there’s those who talk about it all the time and no one gives a hoot because they’re labelled attention-seekers and before you can say boom again – they carry out what they’d always said they’d carry out.

‘But you are that organisation? The ones who help with, uh difficult problems, like er…’

‘Lost pets?’ I finish for her, looking up again at Fluffy. ‘Yes, we do a fair amount of those.’ Far more than intended. ‘What kind do you have?’

‘Well, I-I…’ She seems at a loss. ‘Only—’

A strange wailing fills the morning air. At first I think it’s the cat, but it’s clearly a siren, volume increasing as it draws closer. Exceptionally loud now. Anyone would think it—

‘Is that the police?’ There’s a fearful edge to the woman’s voice. Or perhaps she’s merely anxious to be heard over the noise.

I glimpse through the branches, hearing cotton rip as I lean forward. A huge red vehicle’s speeding this way, lights blazing.

‘Fire engine,’ I report back. ‘Can’t see smoke but it must be nearby. They’re slowing down. They’re—’
Stopping right beside the kids…
What the blazes?

Sophie’s small face gazes up at me, expression distraught in the strobe lighting, finger pointing in my direction.

‘PERHAPS I’D…’ I find I’m screaming into the phone as the siren abruptly cuts out. I turn away from the cluster of grinning helmeted and booted firemen assembling at the foot of the tree as someone cranks up the ladder. Fluffy takes one look, turns tail and bolts down the other side. I modulate my voice to more professional tones. Perhaps I’d better ring you back I’m about to suggest politely, but too late. She’s gone.

***

‘Calling Cathy O’Farrell. Hello? Can you read me?’
‘Yes, I’m here.’ I swiftly hide the nail polish, climb into my swivel chair and wire myself up to the Skype headset.
‘Where exactly, lovey?’ Pimple’s bespectacled eyes scan the computer screen. They travel left and right, until they finally focus on where I’m now perched facing the webcam, sporting a big beaming smile. ‘Found you. Hang on a jiffy.’
She ducks down, sits back seconds later clutching a wide-toothed comb and starts tugging vigorously at her tight curls, turning them into a helmet of grey frizz.
‘That’s better.’ She drops out of sight again, emerging with pencil in hand. ‘Now update on yesterday?’ She licks the lead tip.
My business partner, former cleaning lady and long-time friend. I both love and hate her enthusiasm for news. Love that she’s still interested in our work even though she’s travelling the globe on that luxurious cruise ship. Hate that I’ve nothing of interest to convey and am very likely letting her down, business-wise.
‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’ I say, having lost track of the various time zones she’s travelled through.
‘Gosh, no. It’s only just gone midnight,’ she says cheerfully. ‘I’ve a card game booked in an hour and then I’m off to the casino. Thought we might have a catch-up in between.’
‘OK,’ I say, reluctantly clicking onto my spreadsheet. ‘You remember that petrol station cashier with the lost tomcat?’
‘Sure do. How’s that going?’
‘Good. We fitted him with a tracking collar. Discovered he not only had two homes but three. All the owners met for coffee. Arranged a feeding rota. She was very grateful.’
‘How grateful?’
I scroll through the columns – last on the right – Income. ‘Oh Pimple, I just couldn’t ask her to cough up.’ I drop my head in shame and twist the headphone wire round and round my finger until it turns bright pink at the tip. ‘She was skint, stony broke. Only got the cashier’s job recently. Five kids to feed as well as the cat and still claiming benefits. And that’s what the fund’s about isn’t it, helping those in trouble?’
‘But Cathy, we’re meant to be running a viable concern here,’ she says. ‘Fair do’s, we agreed to support a few charity cases, but we need paying ourselves at some stage.’
‘I know.’ I’m totally feeble at fee chasing. ‘Oh but I did find Fluffy this morning. Owned by Mrs Thompson.’
‘Pensioner. Harringay Ladder.’
‘That’s right.’ I’m always amazed by her memory for detail.
‘Marvellous. We got paid for that then, yes?’
I groan. ‘I was going to charge her, I swear. But then she pulled out this ancient threadbare purse—’
‘Phooey!’ she scoffs. ‘Oldest trick in the book, that one. Bringing out the ancient threadbare purse. You’ll need to wise up, Cath. Those houses on the Ladder are worth a bomb. What else?’ Her pencil’s poised above her pad.
I run through our list of jobs, which takes precisely three minutes as apart from our two ex-clients, there’s only the newsagent who contacted me yesterday to ask if we’d investigate who’d been stealing his papers and a schoolkid called Ben who’d rung Monday to say his new mountain bike had been nicked and the police weren’t doing anything about it.
I’d asked him to wait a few days and if no joy to call back.
‘That’s it?’ She wrinkles her brow.
‘For now.’
‘Looks like I’ll need a new mop when I get home, after all.’ She lets out a sigh that sounds like a steamship in heavy fog.
Worse thing is she probably will. Money’s haemorrhaging faster than I can spell the word. We had to invest in the computer because mine was horrendously slow. Then there was the cost of stationery, surveillance equipment, etc. – all the paraphernalia needed in setting up. At least office space is free. We’re based in Pimple’s Edwardian semi-detached home, couple of miles down the road from Crouch End. Seemed daft forking out when she had a spare room – perfect to shove two desks in. It’s where I am now.
‘Oh I’m sure that won’t—’ I stop. Because there’s a ploppy sound and she disappears into the ether, like Endora from Bewitched.
I wait a few seconds, see if she’ll reconnect, but nothing. No need to call back. We’ve both said what we had to. The phone, the one all prospective clients are meant to call, is staring at me accusingly.
I pick it up. Check it’s still working. Could be a fault and hundreds of sad souls have been trying to connect. Crying out for help.
I listen a second. Strong, healthy brrr.
Damn.

***

By the time I turn into our drive around five thirty, I’m bushed. Rest of the afternoon had been spent clearing up the newsagent’s problem. I’d arrived at his shop, introduced myself, politely listened to his plans for an elaborate stake-out and then suggested we first have a good delve around the shop floor, back room and the flat above. Bingo. Turned out, his elderly widowed mum was nicking the papers and hiding them under her bed. Early signs of dementia at a guess but at least that’s that one solved. For us anyway. Frankly it was too bloody efficient. Less than an hour’s work but the poor guy’s got a long hard journey ahead. How could I possibly charge him?
On the other hand, I scold my ineffectual self, I need to toughen up. Do I really want to start again on a job-search?

I hang up my jacket by the porch and trudge through to the kitchen.
Declan’s standing over a saucepan which is bubbling away on the six-ringed range cooker which dominates our good-sized, somewhat country-style, kitchen. A heavenly tomato-ey aroma permeates the air. Everything’s worked out great for him. He’s ridiculously happy with his new postman’s job. Has to leave home at five a.m., but he’s always been an early riser so never minds. Gets bags of exercise on his assigned pushbike, and he finishes mid-afternoon, in time for the school run. Never mind that it pays half what he earned before. It’s the quality of life that counts, right?
Plus, best part, I have dinner waiting for me every weekday evening. All those years of wedded bliss with me muddling along, running out of recipes and not really being faffed and now he’s completely taken charge of the cooking. Wondrous.
I put my nose in the air and sniff. ‘Mmm. Smells delicious. You do know I’m out later?’
‘Wednesday Once Weekly girls’ night. How could I forget?’ He turns to peck my cheek. ‘Thought I’d make a big stew anyhow. We can eat some over the next few days and freeze the rest. Much more economical. Talking of which…’ He opens the fridge, pulls out a used cardboard carton and lifts the lid with a cheesy grin. Five brown eggs, still with a few feathers attached, smaller than shop-bought but hey. ‘Ta-dah. Even Pocahontas delivered. Fresh, free range, and best of all free.’

He always says this and I always tut and do an exaggerated who-gives-a-monkey’s shrug. Not that I’m averse to owning chickens. Can be rather relaxing squatting outside their coop, watching them scratch the earth and vie for pecking order. And Josh and Sophie wake themselves up early each morning to see which hen’s laid what, which is a heck of a lot better than me screeching at them to get out of bed. Plus free anything’s great with my almost non-existent wages, but I don’t like admitting it, because he bought them without consulting me – his wife. Then again, at that time, he was acting weird and buying other things without consulting me too. Like our super-expensive oven, which we’re still paying off. Male menopause, my insurance broker reckoned. But we’re over that. Back on an even keel. Perhaps not financially but definitely hormonally speaking.

‘Where’s the kids?’ I slump onto a chair and watch him stirring, tasting, stirring again.
‘Upstairs. Sophie’s watching TV. Josh is on the Xbox, where else. He’s done his spelling homework, though he needs help with reading later.’

‘OK, I’ll cover that.’

I watch him as he adds a spoonful of paprika, dash of Worcestershire sauce then a variety of fresh and dried herbs. He’s tall, few inches over six foot, gingery-brown hair, blue eyes. Irish born and bred, although you’d never believe it from his London accent. His body’s still good for his forty-three years. Actually, tell a lie, his body’s fabulous, but that’s only because he gets to spend afternoons in the gym while I’m slogging away in my office.

We’ve been married a little over eleven years. Not saying there’s been no ups and downs in that time, but the ups far exceed the downs. My friends all consider him Mr Wonderful and sometimes I do too, even though I maybe don’t say it often enough.

***

‘So how was the gossip at the school gates this afternoon?’ I ask.
Just after eight and I’m sitting back at the kitchen table, now set for one sole diner, after doing the bath-bed-book-lights-out routine. Declan’s preparing a salad and I’m enjoying a quick cuppa before heading off.
‘Drugs,’ he says, dicing a carrot.
‘Who’s on drugs?’
‘Feral youths supposedly.’
‘So what’s new?’
‘That.’ He nods at a letter on the sideboard behind him.
I pick it up and begin silently reading. Dear parent…
‘Says there,’ he starts chopping up tiny cherry tomatoes into even tinier quarters, ‘two teenagers were spotted hanging around Princes Road Primary. Offered a pupil some substance. Guess which one?’
I can’t imagine. Love my kids’ school but they’re famous for blowing the slightest unsettling ripple into a tsunami of alarm.
‘No, stop. Let me think.’ I hold my hand up and screw my forehead in concentration. ‘Heroin? Ketamine? Miu Miu?’
‘Meow meow, you mean. Miu Miu’s an Italian designer, but I wasn’t meaning which drug, I was meaning pupil.’
‘No idea.’
‘Pip Henfield.’
‘Sheryl’s Pip?’
‘Yep, and William was with him.’ He tosses the tomatoes into a bowl, adding a drizzle of olive oil.

About the Authors:
  
Ellie Campbell is a pseudonym for sisters, Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, who write together from their respective homes in Surrey, England (Pam) and Colorado, USA (Lorraine). After years of selling short stories independently, they began their Ellie Campbell collaboration with a first novel, How To Survive Your Sisters, followed by When Good Friends Go Bad, Looking For La La, To Catch A Creeper and Million Dollar Question. They write contemporary women's fiction laced with humour, romance, and mystery. Meddling With Murder is their 6th novel and follows Looking For La La and To Catch A Creeper in the funny, cozy ‘Crouch End Confidential’ mystery series.



Please visit Ellie Campbell on their:  Webpage, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.  

To Purchase the book or others by Ellie Campbell go to Amazon  and  Bookbud.



Monday, April 25, 2016

Presley from Stilettos & Scoundrels is Visiting Writer's Corner

Hi friends, I’m Presley!

I want first to give a big shout out to Jencey for having me visit today and then I thought I’d talk to you about a question I get asked about all the time.

And that would be about my boyfriend, Cooper. Cooper Sands is his full name, just in case you haven’t read the books about all the fun escapades and sometimes harrowing dilemmas I find myself in.

People always wonder if he is as handsome, sweet, and kind as he’s portrayed. I have, to be honest and say yes. While that makes me a lucky girl he sure does make me look bad sometimes when I don’t listen to him and then find out, he was right all along. I just can’t help it. I hate being told what to do and even when I know I SHOULD listen to what he’s saying. I can’t always do it.

But, he puts up with my Starbucks and shopping habit, and he loves me. In fact, the other day he was in San Diego for a business meeting and shipped me home some of my favorite coffee that this coffee shop I just love carries, and you can’t get it here in Chicago or line. He’s like that. Thinking about me and the little things that make me happy.

He is the entire package, ladies. Katy, that’s my best friend from back home, tells me how lucky I am and I know it. But it didn’t start out that way. In fact, we had a bumpy road to get to the relationship we have now, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

You can find out the full scoop on how we met in Stilettos & Scoundrels.

I’m off to my midday Starbucks run but talk to you soon!

~Presley Thurman


About the Author: 

As a child Laina thought she would either be a truck driver (thanks to Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit) or work at Taco Bell (her favorite restaurant as a child).
As she grew older she realized her talents lay in academics and business and for the last several years has been a business consultant and college professor where she uses the analytical side of her brain and not the side that makes up stories. Through all her career choices she has continued to have a passion for writing. Proud of her vast experiences in life from barrel racing to being on the dance team for a semi pro basketball team to being a mom of 2 amazing kids, she tells her family and friends that no one is safe from their escapades slipping in to her books. Taking the plunge to write books (cozy mysteries and chick lit) that she actually let people read in 2010, she has worked her way up to being a real author, having 5 fans (maybe 6 now). Her blog, Writing is a Lifestyle, was launched to share the daily fun in the life of a Real Housewife of the Midwest along with the musing of other fabulous ladies.

Please visit Lania on her Facebook page, Twitter, and her Website.


To purchase the novel please visit  Amazon.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Winner for Author's In Bloom Giveaway

Brandi Dagwan is the new winner for the Author's In Bloom giveaway.  You have 48 hours to get
your prize.  Please email me at jenceyg@gmail.com .

You Are Invited to the Weddings of the Season!

Thank you to Gallery Books and Mary Alice Monroe for a copy of A Low Country Wedding.  This novel was given to me in exchange for an honest review.

Who is ready for the summer reading season?  I know I am.  What better way to kick it off than with not one but two weddings.  A Low Country Wedding is the fourth novel in the Summer Girls series.  It follows Summer Girls, Summer Wind, and Summer's End.

Synopsis:

It is time to plan the weddings for both Harper and Carson.  What about Dora?  She has moved on since the divorce and her relationship and life seem to be moving forward with Devlin.  Will she marry him?  Harper is the owner now of Sea Breeze and Mamaw has moved to the cottage.  Will owning Sea Breeze cause problems between Harper and Tyler?  What about Granny James and her idea of a prenuptial agreement?   Then there is Carson who is coming back from her job.  Will she stay committed to Blake?  And then there is one more surprise every wedding needs a pastor to officiate.  Atticus Green becomes the perfect candidate to officiate the weddings.  He has other reasons for being there as well.

My Thoughts:

What a novel to start the summer with?  I could not wait to sit down each day and read.  A novel that is great has these factors for me:

One the novel is a page turner when you don’t know that time has passed as you read.

Two the writing is flawless and seamless from one page to the next.  This shows exceptional skill by Mary Alice Monroe.

Three the plot must be engrossing!

These factors are all present in A Low Country Wedding.   It is by far my favorite of the series!

Rating:

5/5


Please visit Mary Alice Monroe on her Facebook page, Twitter, and her Website.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spotlight: Everything and a Happy Ending Author - Tia Shurina

Thank you to Tia Shurnia stopping by Writer's Corner today.  She is sharing her new memior Everything and a Happy Ending.

Synopsis:
EAAHE is a memoir that recounts 3 interconnected relationships & love stories.  It shares Tia’s full circle journey to learn how to really trust, how to “thine own self be true” and then the real & true love it circled her ‘round back to.  It’s a story about how the power of love & a journey to intimacy helped flip learned pessimism, reacting in reflex and running from fear into choosing optimism, trusting intuition and rising above the fear.

 About the Author:  
Tia Shurina lives in Queens, NYC but still spends time on the Jersey Shore, where she feels safest in the bungalows she spent her childhood summers.  She is, most days, really filled with joy.  She is, every day, truly filled with peace.   She looks forward to a happy ending each new day as she continues to create a new “happily ever after”, staying committed to rising above her fears, moving out of her comfort zones and going with the flow of her life.

Please visit Tia on her website and twitter page.

To purchase on Amazon  or Mascot Books.




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spotlight and Giveaway for Guardians of Paradise by W. E. Lawrence

Guardian of Paradise, by W. E. Lawrence, is a historical romance novel filled with action and adventure. It was published in October 2014 and is available for sale on Amazon.  I am also giving away one copy of  his novel which is  a kindle copy.  See the rafflecopter below. 

Synopsis:

In 1888, Kira Wall, surviving daughter of missionaries swept away in a tsunami, lives a primitive, but enjoyable life with natives on an isolated island in the South Pacific. But her serene world is turned upside down when an Australian merchant ship, commanded by the sinister Captain Darcy Coleman, arrives with an overabundance of modern and lavish goods. Kira suspects ill intent. Chief Ariki refuses to listen to Kira’s warning, forcing her to uncover the real plan of the captain on her own. Unfortunately, she has a distraction. A six-foot tall, blond, and handsome distraction. Trevor Marshall, doctor and botanist, hopes to find exotic plants on the island to research new cures and medicines. He is dedicated to science, but when meeting the strong-willed, beautiful Kira Wall, he’d prefer to spend time researching her—all night.

The captain thwarts Kira’s attempts to call him out at every step, turning the village chief against her. With only Trevor and her best friend Malana by her side, she stalks the captain and his officers through the dense, predator infested jungle, toward the island’s inactive volcano. Frustrated by her failure to reveal the captain’s true intentions, Kira begins to think maybe she’s wrong about everything. Then an explosion and earthquake bigger than anyone on the island has ever seen renews her resolve. Was the blast natural or man-made? She is determined to prove it was the captain’s doing. Kira races against time and the island people’s naivety to stop the captain from destroying her home and killing everyone she loves.

Excerpt:  

Chapter 1

South Pacific island of Alofa, two days sail northeast of Sydney, Australia 1888

          Kira’s heart leapt to her throat as the blare of the lookout’s conch horn shattered the tranquil morning. Startled blue and red lories sprang, squawking from the palm trees, their wings thrumming the air as they fled. Macaque monkeys jumped limb to limb, screeching and chattering from their jungle perches. Another blast of the trumpet sent even the fiddler crabs on the beach scurrying for the safety of their holes.
          She glanced to the cliff overhead, dropped her fishing net, and rushed up the sandy path toward the island’s observation post. The rest of the villagers would be taking cover until the men determined the extent of the threat. With her pulse pounding and her feet working to find traction on the steep, winding grade, images of pirates raiding the village flashed through her mind. The horror of women and children screaming while their men fought to protect them with only spears and clubs sent the chill of danger up her spine.
          When she reached the large flat rock high above the harbor, she found the stocky form of Kupe, the tribal chief’s son, standing with hands on hips, his black Polynesian eyes fixed on the bay. Wearing only a pair of worn, light-colored pants, extending mid-calf and a cloth headband to hold back his wiry dark hair, he remained still.
          “What is it, Kupe?”
          “Ah big ship is com’n in tee harbor,” he answered without turning.
          “A large ship is coming into the harbor,” she corrected. She squinted into the morning glare of the sun. “Are they pirates?”
          She studied the movements of the enormous shiny wood boat with three tall masts. Two wide painted stripes, one cream at the waterline and one black just above, encircled the ship. A complicated system of shroud rigging hung like webbing from the cross spars down to the deck rails.
          “I do not think so.  Ship is too big,” answered Kupe. “Tey have dropped their sails. Tey come in slow. Not hurry.”
          She lifted her hand to shade her eyes. Men lined the ship’s bow, all clothed in the same white bell bottom pants and loose-fitting gray striped shirts. Peering into the clear water, they tried to determine the depth of the harbor.
          “They fly the Australian flag and take their time.  Pirates not tat careful.”
          Kira spotted the dark blue fabric flapping in the breeze above the quarterdeck; the British Southern Cross embroidered in the upper left corner. Her heart sank. “If they’re who I think they are, they might as well be pirates. In fact, it would probably be better if they were.”
          Kupe turned his head and gave her his big brother-like stare. She and Kupe were not related, in fact, Kira was originally from Australia. Still they shared the same competitive bond of siblings. “What are you talk’n about, Kira?”
          “I’m afraid it’s one of those merchant ships from Sydney. They’ve come to trade.”
          “Tat would be good news. Tey have come to trade goods for our crops.”
          She fought the sour feeling in the pit of her stomach. “If we let them, they will take a lot more than we have to give.”
          Kupe’s eyes narrowed. “Our crops are plentiful. There is more than enough to trade.”
          “You don’t understand. We have to be careful. Most of these merchants are selfish and greedy. They’ll take advantage of our people.”
          The corner of his mouth turned up in the hint of a smile. “Tey will not be that bad.”
          “They will be, if we let them. What’s even worse, they think nothing of tramping our fields while they’re gathering the fruit, leaving them scarred.”
          He shook his head. “You always think tee worst.”
          She glared sideways. “I know what I’m talking about. My parents warned me of these kinds of people. I’ve seen for myself what they have done. I was young, but I saw the damage they cause.”
          He turned his gaze back to the ship. “We can take care of ourselves.”
          Kira grabbed him by the shoulders and turned him forcing him to look her in the eyes. “Listen to me. If this were a ship of raiders, I know our men would protect us. But this is different. Worst of all, the more merchants who find out about us, the more outsiders will come. Our home will never be the same and we have nowhere else to go.”
          He shrugged free of her grasp. His large flat nostrils flared. “You make no sense. Tradors have come here before. Our people have pleasure in their visits. It has been a long time since tee last merchants came.”
          She dropped her arms. “It hasn’t been long enough.”
          Glancing down, Kupe held out his hands. “Look at my pants. Tat is how long it has been. I hope tey brought new ones.”
          Though he had a strong build, his round brownish-tan belly threatened to burst the tattered breeches. Everything about Kupe was big; his head, body, even legs. They matched his huge heart and his consuming desire to provide for his people. Kupe being the future ruler of the tribe, Kira only feared for his overtrusting nature and inability to perceive a disguised threat.
          Looking at his worn pants, she would have laughed if she weren’t so angry. “You just don’t see the danger.”
          Kupe set his jaw. “Enough, as long as the outsidors show us tey mean no harm, tey will be treated as guests. We will welcome them.”
          “But-”
          “I said enough. We must call off the warning and greet our visitors before I tell Chief Ariki they have come. He will want to prepare to meet their leadors.”
          She smirked. “Your father is also too trusting of strangers.”
        

About the Author:

W. E. Lawrence graduated in 1978 from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill with a BS in business administration. He has run a successful home health care supplies distributorship for the past twenty-three years.

Passionate about God, writing, reading, family, sports, politics, and America, Lawrence currently lives in Davidson, North Carolina, with his lovely wife and their two wonderful children.

W. E. Lawrence enjoys writing historical romance novels filled with action and adventure. He published his debut novel Guardian of Paradise in October 2014. 


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