Jessie’s War is steampunk, a genre that emphasizes, in WIKIPEDIA’S words: “…science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Therefore, steampunk works are often set in an alternate history of the 19th century’s British Victorian era or American “Wild West”, in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era’s perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art.”
This is a new genre for me, and one I am greedy to read more of after enjoying Jessie’s War. Jessie is a Native American caught up in a web of secrets and lies that threatens her world. Luke is the man come to save her. Jessie fights him, but her fierce courage, keen intelligence and bewitching spunk prove no match for the all-out assault on the senses Luke employs. Who knew saving the world could be so damned sexy??? I fell immediately in love with the unique characters and the dark, mysterious world they inhabit. The landscape is as much a character as Jessie and Luke, and I’m a sucker for lyrical description paired with an empathetic narrator. Jessie’s War is a strong romance, a well-written story readers are sure to enjoy.
She’s about to become a pawn in a brutal game between nations…
The American Civil War has raged for more than ten years. The outcast daughter of a famous inventor, Jessica White has struggled to salvage what little remains of her life. Then, one cold winter night, the lover she’d given up for dead returns, claiming the Union Army bought the plans for her father’s last invention. But he’s not the only one who lays claim to the device, for the Confederacy wants the invention as well. Both sides will kill to have it.
…And only he can save her.
As an agent for the Union Army, Luke Bradshaw is a man who will use whomever and whatever is at his disposal in order to complete his mission. An attack by Confederate soldiers ensures that Jessie will turn to him for help, but Luke can’t help but wonder about the secrets she keeps–and if those secrets will ultimately prove fatal.
Her cheeks heated and she sniffed. “I wouldn’t try the patience of my very generous benefactor, if I were you. I might also mention a bath could make your presence a little more tolerable. You’re lucky I didn’t sic Muha on you.”
Luke looked at the wolf, who thumped her graying tail in eager canine devotion. “You wouldn’t bite me, would you, old girl?” Scratching her head, he caught Jessie’s eye. “See, she still loves me.”
“Well, that’s one of us.”
“Right.” He dug into the pocket of his vest, removed a small, folded envelope, and extended it to her. “I brought you something.”
The paper trembled, and it took Jessie a moment to realize his hands shook.
She folded her hands in her lap. “I don’t want anything from you, except your promise that tomorrow you’ll leave and you won’t come back.”
“Can’t promise you that, but I can give you this.” He shoved the envelope at her.
“Don’t overstay your welcome, Bradshaw.”
“I always do.”
A nervous laugh escaped before she could stop it, and she took the letter from Luke’s outstretched hand. It was well worn and wrinkled, the edges charred, as if it had been rescued from a fire.
She ran her hands over the paper, and she sensed smoke and the heat of flames.
With shaking hands, she opened the envelope. She wasn’t sure what she had expected to find, but it wasn’t this. It wasn’t a photograph and a flood of memories.
Two young men. Union soldiers. Luke, clean-shaven and an older version of the boy she remembered, smiled broadly at the camera, his free arm around the shoulders of the young man standing next to him.
Gideon. His black hair and eyes, skin and high cheekbones showed the native blood he and Jessie shared. His mouth was set in a somber line, but she recognized the mirth in his eyes. Luke had never failed to amuse her brother.
On the bottom of the photograph, written in Gideon’s strong, precise hand, was, Me and Luke. October 28, 1867.
The day he died.
She put the photograph down beside her and turned to the second piece of paper, and her throat tightened as she began to read.
We leave for South Carolina today. Luke and I are assigned to different airships, but we’re both expected to be there by this afternoon. We don’t expect much resistance. There are rumors the Rebs have developed a weapon against our airships, but I’ve been working on something with Pop’s blue silver alloy. If it works, the Rebs will never be able to take us out of the sky. I only wish Luke were on my ship.
Don’t worry about us. Any day now, and we’ll be back where we belong. Luke sends his love. I’ll take care of him for you—don’t you worry. You take care of yourself and Pop.
The letter they’d received from Gideon’s commanding officer had assured her father that her brother had died quickly when his ship had plummeted to the earth and burst into flames. She had pretended to believe the lies for her father’s sake.
She traced Gideon’s words with the tip of her finger, trying to feel some remnant of her brother’s presence in the strong lines of his penmanship. New pain built in her chest when she realized her efforts were futile—his energy wasn’t there. His letter contained his words, but no trace of him.
“I always meant to come back.” Luke’s voice sounded rough. “I walked all the way back to the crash site, looking for him or something of his. I was given this. I’ve carried it ever since. I always meant to give it to you.”
She set the photograph in her lap. She memorized this last image of her brother, dressed as a solider with his best friend by his side.
Luke put his hand on her shoulder.
She flinched. “Don’t. You should have sent this when you found it.”
He dropped his hand. “I wanted to give you the letter in person.”
“Go away.” The words came out strangled.
“I wish you had been the one to die that day.”
This one small memento of her brother ripped her open and tore out her heart all over again. The pain was as raw as the day she’d learned of his death.
“You have no idea how many times I’ve wished the exact same thing.”
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Meggan Connors is a wife, mother, teacher and award-winning author who writes primarily historical and steampunk romances. As a history buff with a love of all things historical, she enjoys visiting both major and obscure museums, and reading the histories of the Old West and the British Isles. She makes her home in the Wild West with her lawman husband, two children, and a menagerie of pets. When she’s not writing, she can usually be found hiking in the mountains, playing in the snow, or with her nose in a book. Favorite vacation destinations include the sun-kissed hills of California, any place with a castle or a ghost (and both is perfect!), and the windswept Oregon coast.
How far would you go to avenge your family and save the one you love?
In nineteenth-century England, Alaina Claiborne had a loving family, a cherished friend, and devoted servants. She spent her days riding across the grassy hills of the English countryside, joyful and at peace.
Then tragedy strikes and her world is forever changed. Searching for those responsible is her only focus . . . until she meets Tristan.
Tristan Sheffield, a man of many talents, searches out those who don’t want to be found. His past is filled with secrets and deeds he would rather leave deeply buried. However, when his life unexpectedly entwines with Alaina’s, he soon discovers they share more than a mutual desire to catch a murderer.
On their hunt for a man driven by greed, Tristan and Alaina find that love is the greatest weapon against evil, and they’ll stop at nothing to survive.
Across the acres, darkness enveloped another, her surroundings illuminated by the flickering flame of a lamp. Alaina moved around in the attic, searching through trunks of the items that had come from her mother’s cottage in Ireland. It was difficult to see so many memories that reminded her of her parents, but she also found it calmed her. She had avoided these things since they had been delivered years ago, but now her fears became secondary. She hoped that something from her parents’ past would shed light on what was happening in the present.
Alaina rummaged through a trunk of some of her mother’s clothes, pulling them out and smelling them, hoping for a faint whiff of the soft rose scent her mother used to wear. There was something lingering around the old clothes, and it took Alaina back to a time when she was a little girl. Nevertheless, the memory ended there. She paused for a moment, as if the scent reminded her of something else besides her mother. She subsequently released the memory when she saw the bottom of the trunk was not as deep as it should have been. She pulled out the remaining dress and ran her fingers along the bottom and edges. She next looked on the outside of the trunk. Nearly six inches of extra space remained near the bottom on the inside.
Alaina felt along the inside edges and became excited when she found a gap. Slowly reaching her fingers into the hole, she simultaneously pushed down on the other edge for leverage and surprised herself when the bottom tilted to reveal the extra space beneath. Removing the thin board, she set it aside and gasped when she turned back to the trunk.
“Oh, Mother. What did you do?”
Welcome, MK McClintock!
Tell us about you.
I grew up on the Southern California coast, but always preferred the mountains, which is how I ended up calling Montana home. I originally wanted to be a K-9 cop, then a lawyer, then an elementary school teacher, then a cultural anthropologist, then a chef—now I’m a writer and business owner, so you never know which direction life will take. My favorite days are those spent away from phones and computers. I eat some form of chocolate every day, detest soda, never had a cup of coffee, Castle and Downton Abbey are my new favorite TV shows, I love to be in the kitchen, and I enjoy curling up by the fire with a good historical romance or thriller. And, as far as I’m concerned autumn is the perfect time of year.
Who do you read for inspiration? Who are your influences? Why?
I’d have to say that Kathleen E. Woodwiss and Johanna Lindsey were my original writing influences. They have very different styles, but I enjoyed every book of theirs I ever read, which is rare for me. I knew I wanted to aspire to be the type of author about which a reader could say the same. I read too many authors and genres to list, and my tastes are eclectic, and not necessarily within genres in which I write. I gravitate toward historical fiction first, and then branch into thrillers and westerns. I have a few shelves of non-fiction titles too. One genre I rarely read or enjoy is paranormal—I save that for X-Files marathons.
In your opinion, what makes a book a good read?
If I can connect with the characters—that’s always a priority. Even if a book is in one of my so-so genres, if the characters are awesome, I’m more likely to read it. I love flawed characters—not enough books have them.
In your opinion, what makes a book a poor read?
Dull, lifeless characters, and page after page of too much description. I love to feel a part of the story, to know what the character is seeing and how they’re feeling, but if it takes 5 pages to talk about one meal or two pages to describe a table setting, then they’ve lost me.
What’s your ideal writing environment? Do you have any special rituals you enact or “must haves” before you write?
I’m a complete grouch if disturbed without good reason (sort of like when I don’t get enough sleep), so I definitely like a quiet area in which to write. I tend to wear noise-reducing headphones with soft music playing. If I’m working on a historical western, sometimes I’ll listen to old western movie music. I always fix a cup of herbal tea, fill my water cup, and grab a few bits of chocolate. I’ve recently begun spending about ten minutes doing yoga before I write—I find it helps clear my thoughts and it’s a nice transition between “life” and writing. Where I write depends on my mood. Sometimes I prefer working on my desktop in my office, but I’ll often move around the house with my laptop, or go outside if the weather is fair and conducive to what I’m writing. I like bundling up in the autumn on a lounge chair outside, before the snow begins falling—it’s a lovely way to write.
What inspired you to write the novel you’re publishing?
Alaina Claiborne is a story I absolutely wanted to tell because the characters have been with me for many years, and the story did develop slowly over those years. It wasn’t until I began working with my new editor that I realized the potential of the book and the series. I’m not usually inspired by any one thing to write a specific book—the ideas just happen. I mull it over, play out scenes in my mind, and if I can see the characters take on a life, chances are I’ll write their story. I like pretending the characters are starring in a movie, with me playing the part of the heroine (of course). This one was especially fun—handsome British agents, horses, a grand English estate, and travelling the high seas—so fun I want to do it again!
What’s your book about?
Romance, mystery, and adventure in nineteenth-century England. A young woman set on avenging the events of a tragic past, and a British agent with a deeper connection to Alaina than she realizes. On their hunt for a man driven by greed, Tristan and Alaina find that love is the greatest weapon against evil, and they’ll stop at nothing to survive.
Describe your cover. Is it a scene from your book? Do you like it? Why?
This is my favorite cover so far, and I’ve had a lot of great feedback on it. It was redone for the second edition release of the book, and though it’s not a specific scene from the book, it probably could be. In fact, I wanted to use the cover image of the woman riding the horse so badly that I ended up changing the hair color of the heroine to match the cover. This is the first time I’ve changed the way a character looks because of the book cover.
Where can we buy your book?
What are your writing goals? Any new projects?
I’m currently working on Gallagher’s Choice, the third book in my Montana Gallagher series, which are historical western romances. It’s taking some fun twists and I really enjoy the opportunity to continue working with characters I love. I have another Gallagher book planned for the end of 2013. I’m also working with another romance author on a possible collaboration, and then of course I have the other two British agent novels to write. Let’s just say I have the next ten years planned. The idea “cookie jar” is never empty.
Thanks so much for visiting Love Triumphs Past and Present! I wish you tons of success with everything you endeavor.
MK will be awarding a $10 Amazon gift card to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.
Follow the tour and comment; the more you comment, the better your chances of winning. The tour dates can be found here:
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
McClintock is an over-worked entrepreneur, baker of decadent desserts and all things chocolate, photographer of beautiful places, and most importantly, a writer.
She dreams of a time when life was simpler, the land rougher, and the journey more rewarding. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, McClintock will always call Montana home.
McClintock is a member of Romance Writers of America, Montana Romance Writers, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Women Writing the West.
MK McClintock Website: http://www.mkmcclintock.com
Official Blog: http://mkmcclintock.blogspot.com
Goodreads Profile: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5438837.M_K_McClintock
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/mkmcclintock
Press Release: Html Version
Press Release: Pdf Version
Reviews for Alaina Claiborne
Readers of historical fiction and romance will absolutely eat up this first book in the Alaina Claiborne British Agent novels! It is beautifully written, intriguing, romantic and heat wrenching. The historical content is worked in well, but it’s the conversational content that makes it a magical and rewarding read. MK McClintock is one to really be watching on the historical romance scene!
This one is a winner.
It broke my heart several times, the poignant moments she describes are so real.
The primary protagonists, Alaina and Tristan are gorgeous, strong and brilliant characters. Each has well-developed personalities and psychological make ups. They blend and work together beautifully as they are bent on their single goal in espionage and revenge. Their love story is so moving in McClintock’s hands…not mushy but ringing so true and honest it pierces the heart.
I particularly love the strength of Alaina that MK gives her. No matter what the circumstances she encounters, she is brave and noble. It’s wonderful to have a heroine of this caliber in historical romance novels. I’m looking forward to reading more about her and I hope she inspires others to continue to bring such capable women to the forefront in romance and mystery.
This is an engaging and fast-moving book to read. One you’ll finish before you know it. The action is steady and swift, and the characters are beguiling and beautiful.
I highly recommend the book and look forward to the series!
5 stars for this historical romance
Mystery isn’t my favorite genre but everyone once in a while I come across one that sounds intriguing. This one definitely is!
Being a mystery it did take me a little longer to read. I really wanted to get in every word, it’s a good book but really because I wanted to see if I could figure out the culprit! And I must say, just as I thought I had it in the bag, and then MK McClintock would pull a fast one! But even though I didn’t figure it out there are small clues so it’s not something that comes completely out of left field. Really great job!
As for the characters, they are great. I really got involved with each one. Alaina is a force to be reckoned with even with her past issues. She doesn’t want to face the night her parents died but it has haunted her very existence from the second it happened. Plus the boy that was also murdered just happened to be the boy she planned and dreamt of marrying. All of that for one child, she just hid. This is not only a mystery but a finding of one’s self after such a tragic incident.
Tristan was, hmmm… as a fictional character, let me just say, he is YUMMY! I love how Alaina and Tristan meet and how she doesn’t bow down to him and with this being in the 1800′s when women still had their “place” it just made the story all that much more interesting! But Tristan really does live up to Alaina’s fiestyness which makes him such a fun character.
The other characters are great and although this is a romance, they don’t fall head of heals in love at first sight. And thank MK McClintock for that!!! I mean seriously! I love it when an author can make the relationship seem reasonable, and this one completely is! There’s also some hot scenes in there, so definitely keep that fire extinguisher nearby!
All in all, if you’re a mystery fan, especially if you like settings in the 1800′s, you’ll go gaga for this one! I cannot wait to read more from M.K. McClintock!
-Nova Reylin/My Seryniti Blog
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I’d love it if you’d take a moment and vote for my cover.
Under The Caribbean Sun, Book 2
by Jenna Bayley-Burke
Holly is the smart, dedicated worker bee determined to keep the Caribbean Casanova and Lethal Lothario, Harm, far from her swimsuit models. Her tactics leave Harm angry and her models confused, but no one is more affected than Holly herself. Holly wants to believe Harm is the cartoon character she’s named him, but when she realizes he’s much more, her flirtations with Harm unbolt the door to her previously closed heart.
I liked the youthful characters and the fast-paced plot. The sex scenes described, then dreamed before being realized, lent some real sizzle to the story. I especially admired the dialogue: it was fresh and current without trying too hard to be hip. If you like take-charge heroines and heroes with modern day flaws, you’ll like Caribbean Casanova. It’s a quick, fun read that covers some modern crises not usually found in contemporary romance.
Of all the islands in all the world, she’s come to his.
Holly Hansen has sacrificed too much to let anything—especially a man—get in the way of making her clothing line a success. When she arrives on the island of Anguilla, she zeroes in on the biggest threat to her make-or-break photo shoot. At six-and-a-half foot of sculpted Dutch muscle, Harmannus Prinsen is every inch the womanizer of Caribbean legend, but he will not be seducing any of her models. She knows exactly how to make sure of it. Make the girls think he’s taken.
Harm is stunned when the curvaceous beauty greets him with a mind-numbing kiss. She’s the embodiment of every pin-up portrait he collected as a teen, with a sassy tongue and a body that begs for his touch. Sure, he’ll pretend to be her date…but only if they really date.
Despite her best efforts to remain immune to his charms, Holly finds herself falling for the man behind the myth. She begins to wonder which island she belongs on…Manhattan or Anguilla.
“I have half a mind to invite the entire boat of bikini models back to my villa for the night. Show them a true Caribbean good time.” Harmannus Prinsen crossed his arms over his bare chest and glared at his godfather’s approaching sailboat, annoyance pounding through him like rain from a hurricane.
He’d gone out of his way to help set up the photo shoot for Sassy, and the brat showed her appreciation by forbidding him to lay a hand on any of her models? As if he was hard up for female attention.
“Stop acting like you want to ruin this for her.” Joe stared at the boat in the distance and shifted from one foot to the other, like he couldn’t stand being in his own skin. Harm couldn’t recall seeing his younger brother so anxious. Probably because he wanted to crawl inside his brat of a girlfriend.
“I’m not going to ruin anything. I’m making this happen. I’m helping chauffer for her crew. I’m letting her use my rental bungalows for free. I’m even providing all the sporting equipment for her action shots. But I’m not putting up with her petty bullshit. I’m going to tell her where she can put her ultimatums. And if you weren’t fucking her I’d—”
“Hey.” Joe jabbed him with a sharp elbow but never took his gaze from the sea. The blue water was so clear the approaching boat seemed to be hovering over it. “I’m going to marry her. That makes her your family.”
“She always was family. Our godfather’s daughter.” He could not fathom how his brother thought of the red-headed waif as anything but an irksome child. He remembered the day she was born, for God sakes.
Joe lifted his gaze skyward and shook his blond head. “You both need to stop the childish squabbling. This photo shoot could launch her swimwear designs. That’s why she’s doing it here in Anguilla. She needs our help.”
“That’s your issue. I’m only here to tell her she can’t dictate who I can and can’t sleep with. My dick, my business.” Harm touched his jaw and a week of beard growth abraded his fingers. He only shaved on Sundays, before dinner at Dutch’s place. But since his godfather had been otherwise engaged this week, Harm hadn’t bothered.
“Then keep your dick out of her models. If you don’t want to do it for her, do it for me.” He lifted his arm overhead and waved at the boat.
Damn if Sassy didn’t brighten like she was lit from the inside. The way she looked at his brother was the only thing that kept Harm from throttling her. She’d been a pest as a kid, a nuisance as a teen and a thorn in his side from the moment his brother had realized she’d become an adult.
Harm fell in step beside Joe, helping to secure the schooner to the dock. Once Sassy and her models were delivered to the bungalows, he could wash his hands of the whole mess. Trouble disembarked first, leaping into his brother’s arms as if they’d been separated for years instead of weeks. He looked down and shook his head, hoping he’d get used to the sight eventually.
Something hot and solid crashed into his chest, the scent of honeysuckle surrounding him a second before the woman who pounced on him crossed her arms behind his neck and wrapped her legs around his hips. Harm grabbed her waist on instinct, looking into naughty hazel eyes fringed with long dark lashes.
“Play along,” she whispered through her wicked smile.
Her soft lips were on his in an instant, parting slightly to fit against his mouth. Who was he to turn down such a succulent invitation?
He opened and she responded in kind, the sweet taste of cinnamon making the kiss all the more delicious. He slid his tongue along hers and she sucked in a breath, her body tensing around him. She pulled back a bit, capturing his lower lip between her teeth.
He leaned in, wanting that mouth back on his. She denied him, releasing his lip and sliding down his body until her feet touched the dock.
“You need to shave, Casanova.” She winked, her mahogany eyes dancing with mischief before she turned and walked away.
As she made her way towards the bikini-clad women stepping off the boat, he tried to place her. She looked familiar, but not in a been-there-done-that way. He had a feeling he should know who she was, but for the life of him he couldn’t recall.
He looked to Joe for a clue, but he and Sassy were still attached at the face. No help there. But also no reaction. Had they missed the entire kiss?
His mystery woman herded the bikinis and their baggage to one side, the trio of scrawny men in head-to-toe black to another. Hadn’t they checked the weather before coming to the Caribbean?
Two hairless dudes in Speedos appeared on the deck from below, helping Saskia’s father, Dutch, hoist large black boxes off his boat. Harm stepped in to help, not wanting the older man to hurt himself. Manscaped One and Two he could care less about. He’d never understand the American abhorrence of body hair.
“Holly, we can’t possibly work today.” The scrawniest of the men in black leaned against luggage, his face flushed and shiny.
“The sunset shots will be brilliant tonight.” His new playmate spoke with an attractive air of authority.
Holly. Saskia’s best friend and business partner. His gut clenched.
Yes, they had met before, in a rather embarrassing way.
Copyright © 2012 Jenna Bayley-Burke
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication
Bio and Links:
By day, Jenna is faster than a speeding toddler, stronger than a stubborn husband, able to leap tall Lego structures in a single bound…but by night, while the family sleeps she writes romance novels where no one ever has to scoop up after the dogs, change diapers, clip coupons, drive carpool, do laundry, mop floors, get silly putty out of hair, vacuum, empty the vacuum bag (gross!), exercise, count calories, apply Band-Aids, clean up puke…wait where was this going? Oh, Jenna writes romance because it is glamorous. Just ask the dogs. Catch up with Jenna on
Keep a moment free for Soul Mate Publishing March 9, 2013.
We’ll be celebrating at The Romance Reviews 2nd Anniversary Party.
February 11: Maggie’s Meanderings
February 12: Sue Perkins Author
February 14: Long and Short Reviews
February 15: Let’s Get BOOKED!
February 18: Journey of a Bookseller
February 19: It’s Raining Books
February 20: Love Triumphs Past and Present
February 21: The Write to Read
February 21: STOP 2 The Eclectic Review
February 22: Margay Leah Justice
Thanks to Tessa for visiting Love Triumphs Past and Present!
Because you asked, I answer!
The super secret sweetheart gift for my hubby was a–
Drum roll, please…
A place to put his weights. A place where hubby and teenage son can work out far from the cabin, yet close enough to access electricity and the ever-important refrigerator. Men who pump iron get thirsty, you know.
Here’s a picture of what the Lowes folks are coming to build in early March.
Hubs was thrilled, as was I, that I surprised him with something “so cool!”
Thanks for asking.