Today starts my American Collection Celebration Week. No better time to start it than a few days before July 4th… Independence Day here in the USA. I wrote western romances when I started my career many years ago and I’m so happy to be able to reissue them as e-books.
Since many of you are already familiar with these books I’m going to share with you some interesting facts surrounding them, tell you things I thought special about the characters and then leave you with a brief excerpt.
Let’s get started… it is my pleasure to kick off my American Collection Celebration Week with my very first book… San Francisco Surrender. Naturally, it holds a special place in my heart. I can’t begin to explain the thrill of getting that call from my agent, but that was surpassed by seeing my book on the shelf in a bookstore.
I went into a bookstore near the release date to look for a book my son needed for school when jokingly I thought to browse for my book. You can’t imagine the shock of seeing my very first book blazoned (okay maybe not blazoned) with my name on it. My legs buckled and I had to hold onto a nearby bookshelf. I stared at it, still in shock, nestled amongst names of authors I admired and read religiously. I finally bought three books, I had to leave some for others to buy, and went home beyond happy. That moment lives long and happy in my memory.
From the first moment Victoria Chambers introduced herself to me I knew she was going to be a special heroine. It took guts for her to dress like a lad and steal from the rich so that she could get her ill sister the medical care she needed. It took even more guts to ask the powerful Dragon, Sebastian Blood for a job and move into his house with her sister.
Here’s a brief excerpt. The Dragon still isn’t aware that Vic is Victoria and Vic is waiting for the Dragon to get done with business when she gets herself in trouble… but then when doesn’t she get herself in trouble?
Vic took up vigil at the same corner of the Hodgeson building as before and looked as though she had never budged from the spot. The fish she continued to eat was the only evidence of her departure.
Her ears picked up the sound of scurrying feet and out of the corner of her eye she caught sight of a small urchin as he weaved in between crates and barrels toward her until he parked himself not far from her. His light blue eyes appeared a beacon amidst his dirt-ridden face and they rounded wide as his glance came to rest on the fish. He licked his parched lips with each morsel of flaky white meat she popped into her mouth.
Vic couldn’t swallow another bite. She recalled all to well that expression. It was one of ravenous hunger. She had experienced it far too many times herself, the gnawing hunger in her gut, the delicious scent and almost being able to taste the food that you were unable to afford or steal.
She handed the remainder of the fish to the young boy. He grabbed it, shoveling it into his grimy mouth as though he hadn’t eaten in days, which he probably hadn’t.
She watched his pitiful actions and shivered. He was a mirror image of her, the tattered clothes, the smudged face and the hunger, the never-ending hunger. Tears swelled blurring her vision, but she quickly wiped them away upon hearing the fast approach of heavy footsteps.
A large man came barreling around the side of the warehouse. His extra weight caused him to huff and puff from exertion and his cheeks to flame. “Get away from here you little beggars. I don’t want you bothering decent folk.”
The young lad scurried away like a frightened animal, the last of the fish snug in his hand, but Vic stood defiant.
“I told you to get,” the man said, raising his hand in warning.
“No!” Vic shouted, angry at the man’s lack of compassion toward a hungry child.
“Don’t make me tell you again, boy, or I’ll give you a good wuppin.”
Vic ground her boots into the dirt. “I ain’t going anywhere.”
The man’s full face turned scarlet and he snorted several times. “Get!” he screamed shoving Vic roughly.
Her backside hit the ground hard sending clouds of dry dirt swirling. If she had been sensible she would have scurried away like the urchin. But the man did something he shouldn’t have. He smiled smugly and that was just enough for her temper to explode. She jumped to her feet and charged at him like a raging bull, head bent and armed for his protruding gut.
She hit her target, knocking the air right out of him.
The commotion began to draw a crowd, but Vic paid no heed. Her anger at the injustice to the small boy, and her own sorry state of affairs was too much for her to endure.
The large man regained his breath, his hand holding his aching stomach and soon realized a crowd had formed and the little beggar was making him look the fool.
Vic had learned to watch her prey carefully before striking and she applied that knowledge now, watching the man’s every movement. She saw the blow coming and ducked but failed to avert her head fast enough.
He caught the side of Vic’s mouth landing a fierce blow that sent her sprawling backward, again landing on her backside with a thud. Her head spun from the force and she felt blood trickle from her lip down her chin. She stumbled trying to get to her feet, but toppled over again, her head still spinning.
The man wasn’t finished. Still holding his aching gut with one hand he picked up a solid, slim board with the other, swinging it as he approached Vic. She had embarrassed him in front of friends and strangers alike and he was sure to see that she paid for her arrogance with a sound thrashing.
“I’ll teach you to attack your betters!” he shouted and raised the stick.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” The warning was issued with such deadly calm yet a firm tone that it made Vic’s blood run cold.
An instant hush settled over the crowd, not even a mumble could be detected, while all eyes rounded on the Dragon. He stood an imposing figure amidst a sea of startled faces. His rigid stance cautioned unwise action and his midnight blue eyes glowed with suppressed anger.
“Mr. Blood,” the man said with a tremble. “I didn’t know the lad belonged to you.”
“Do you often attack a street urchin?” Sebastian asked, walking over to Vic and extending his hand to help him up.
Once Vic was on his feet Sebastian took hold of his chin, tilting it back to examine the damage. His eyes narrowed dangerously. His lips locked in anger as he caught sight of the blood trickling in a steady stream from the lad’s split lip.
“Are you all right?” Sebastian asked in a tightly controlled voice. His fury was rapidly mounting and he was doing his best to contain it.
Vic could only nod, being too intimidated by the Dragon’s murderous glare to utter a sound. She thought that any moment the Dragon would spew smoke from his nostrils and fire from his mouth.
He took a clean white handkerchief from his breast pocket and pressed it against the boy’s bleeding lip.
“Ouch,” Vic yelped.
“Damn,” Sebastian muttered and with a more gentle touch wiped the blood away.
Vic’s eyes widened in misty pools.
Sebastian roughly grabbed his chin and spoke in a harsh whisper. “Don’t ever let your adversary see you cry.”
Vic wiped her eyes with her sleeve and matched his murderous glare with one of her own.
“That’s better,” he said and turned to face the man who had dared to harm the lad.
“Honest, Mr. Blood, if I had known the boy was with you I would never have touched him,” he pleaded.
“An honest mistake, Sebastian, you can’t fault Casey for that,” Howard Hodgeson added, not wanting one of his best workers hurt.
Sebastian impaled the two men with such a threatening glare that Howard turned pure white and Casey shivered.
“He,” Sebastian emphasized pointing to Vic, “belongs to me.”
A thick silence hung in the air. The crowd focused their attention on the Dragon and waited…expectantly.