Jack sat in a plastic chair out in
the hallway.He pulled on the ends of
his hair and covered his face, sighing.He had already received the news from the doctor, and it was just what
he’d expected.But, it never got easy,
hearing it.It was still as fresh as his
first case.According to the doctor, she
had been raped far too many times to count and they had to stitch her where her
soft, feminine skin was torn.He
shuddered with that reality.She wasn’t
pregnant or disease-ridden, and that was a wonder.But, sometimes in these situations, the human
body could fight an invasion on that level.
They had given her antibiotics, some
pain medicine, extra vitamins for strength and some sleeping pills, but nothing
more.Guess there wasn’t a cure-for-all
for the worse trauma imaginable.
one thing he had found unbearable, though, was her tears.He had heard her crying hysterically in the
room several times.It wasn’t the result
of what had happened to her, though in a way it was the reason for it.Her circumstances hadn’t hit her fully yet.No, it was the shame of feeling human touch,
however kind it was, a humiliation she could not bear for a long time.He knew this from experience.Touch was equated with an invasion, with
terrible cruelty, a reminder of that worthlessness, and until she saw otherwise,
it was going to be rough for her.
The door opened and he got to his
feet, suspecting it was one of the staff.Maybe he could wring more news from them.Sometimes he felt so powerless as a
Caitlyn came out then, the nurse behind her, and he saw her clearly for the
first time.Caitlyn’s hair was still damp
from the shower and the hospital had lent her a pair of blue scrubs, a robe and
some house slippers.He sucked in a
was striking with pale skin, large, luminous brown eyes and straight brown
hair.She had dark circles under her
eyes, but that was to be expected.It
was her that he couldn’t get over.He
wasn’t supposed to notice it, but she was beautiful.It was a damn shame that her innocence had
been taken so swiftly.Even as an adult,
a person could be so violated that they were never the same again.
Curiosity was in her eyes as she
stared at him.“Are you Jack?”
He nodded.For one, he still wore the uniform he wore on
rescues to make people more comfortable.“Sorry you couldn’t see me clearly until now.”
She shook her head.“It could not be helped.”Her eyes closed and she lifted a hand to her
“The lights again?”
“They’re worse inside the hospital
than out.Once we get in the car, you’ll
feel better.I mean, if you want me to
take you home.I could just as easily
have a uniform take you.”
She shrugged.“The current arrangement is fine.”
Jack slowly made his way over to
her, then drew her to his side until her face was pressed against him.“I can get you out now, if you’re ready.”
“Yes.Thank you,” came her small voice.He heard pain and weariness there, which made
his throat tighten.
A doctor saw him and headed in his
direction.Jack waved him off.“Please.I’ll take care of everything later.”
With a nod and a grim look, the
doctor turned away.
He tightened his arm around
Caitlyn’s back and led her down the hall to the emergency doors.“Easy,” he said as she tried to navigate the
steps without her vision.
“It’s strange, this.I haven’t walked around much for awhile.I mean, I did a little in that cellar.But, not much.”
A long breath came out of him.“Did they feed you?”
She shrugged.“Some.Not much.”
“You’ve lost weight then.”
“I don’t know.I…”She shuddered.“I’m not sure I
want to look in a mirror right now.”
“I’ll be your mirror, if you like.”
She laughed a little. “Do I look as
terrible as I feel?”
“No, Sweetheart. Other than the fact
that you’re obviously tired and you’ve been through something awful, you look
okay.You were patched up down there, I
assume.But, from what I can tell, most
of the scars are on the inside.”
She pressed her face into his jacket
and he wondered if she was trying to stifle the urge to cry.
He spotted his car, then led her
straight out to it.He urged her into
the vehicle, then closed the door behind her.He got into the driver’s side, reached over and clicked her seatbelt
into place.He did the same for
himself.Then he shut his door and
turned the car on.He waited until
they’d left the parking lot before he spoke. “Okay. I think you can open your
Caitlyn could see the town a little
in the darkness. There were streetlights here and there, but they didn’t hurt
her.It was so odd to see things
now.It was pretty routine what he was
doing, she could tell that clearly enough. But, it meant more than she knew how
to express.He had taken her out of that
dark place. He had removed her from the situation.Now, she would have to deal with life
Oh, God.The idea of it was so daunting.Life.Real life.Not being in a cellar,
kept for someone’s needs. Doing something for herself instead. How was she
supposed to do that?
“Where are we going?” she asked
He seemed to hesitate.“Your apartment was vacated long ago.Supposedly, the landlord would not
cooperate.I thought of taking you to
your mother’s.Is that all right?We could get you a hotel room instead, if
you’d prefer that.If it would make you
feel better, I could have an officer placed outside the door for security.”
She shuddered.There was one thing she knew
instinctively.She should not be left to
her own devices.After what she’d been
through, her grip on herself was tenuous.She had struggled to stay sane in the cellar.But, if she had the opportunity, she might
try to kill herself.Part of her wanted
the release from life.And part of her
was terrified of dying.“I should
probably go home.”Home.Wasn’t that a strange word?
He nodded.“Okay.We can do that.I already called
your mother after we found you.So she’s
expecting you.She would have gone to
the hospital, of course, but I told her you should be treated before you had
Her stomach clenched a little.So her mother knew she was coming. What would
the woman expect of her?How could she
possibly live a normal life?
She glanced over at Jack.He had an olive tone to his skin.He had dark hair and blue eyes.His face was a bit scruffy as if he hadn’t shaved
in a couple of days.It made him more
attractive.Mysterious.But, really, what did it matter what the man
looked like?She had too many issues to
worry about her reaction to him.She had
been raped.How in the world was she
supposed to deal with that, and somehow move on?
“How far away is she from here?” she
managed, trying to give her mind a distraction.
“A good twenty minutes.”
“Oh.Okay.”She sighed.“How long has it been?I mean…how long was I gone?”
He sucked in a breath.“Three months.”
Was that all?It was unfathomable.She shook her head.She couldn’t wrap her mind around that
information.“How was I found?”
“Your case was never dropped, though
the officer in charge was afraid the trail was cold.The police knew who had taken you, just
didn’t know their location.”He sighed.“One day, a random citizen called in claiming
to see one of the men that had been on television.We had put out a bulletin to see if anyone
would find you.”
She had been on TV?That was strange.“And then what?”
“We looked into it, of course.Traced the receipts to the establishment
they’d seen him in.He was using an
alias though.We eventually found the
house they were using.And here we are.”
She was quiet for a moment.It was a lot to take in.She just couldn’t dwell on it all right
now.She wet her dry lips with her
tongue.“I don’t remember my
family.My life.I only remember fragments from the past.But, nothing informative.”
“I know.It will come back to you.”
She nodded, then bit her lip, aware
that ever since she’d been rescued, the tears were closer to the surface than ever
before.“Is it always like this?The way it was today?”
“It never gets any easier.”
The strange tone in his voice caused
her to glance at him.She couldn’t
dismiss the brief flash of pain in his eyes.“I’m sorry.”
He frowned.“What do you have to be sorry for?”
She shrugged.“It must be hard on you, too, is all.”
He didn’t respond to that.
She sighed.“Is this what you specialize in?”
He gave a brief nod.“Yes.”
They were quiet for several more
minutes.Caitlyn was exhausted.She leaned her head back against the seat and
closed her eyes.God, what she wouldn’t
give for oblivion.Her life back.Her memories.Why couldn’t she remember who she really was?
“Your eyes still hurt?”
She looked at Jack, saw the naked
concern in his eyes.“No.Not in the dark.”
He nodded and grew quiet again.
It was for the best.Caitlyn feared she would be terrible company
Her eyes snapped wide and she
glanced out the window to see a small one story house.The details were fuzzy at night, but it
looked cozy.But really, what did it
matter where she was as long as she was out of that cellar?
“Are you ready?” he asked gently.
“I think so.”
She followed Jack out of the car,
felt better when he put his arm around her as they walked up to the house.The lights were on inside.They stood on the porch for a few
moments.She glanced at Jack.“What will she want from me?”
He shook his head.“You’re her daughter.I think she just wants you safe.”
Caitlyn wanted that to be enough,
but suspected her mother would want her to remember her life.And she couldn’t do that right away.She feared she never could.
All of a sudden, the door opened.She saw a brief swatch of dark blonde hair
before the woman flew at her.She wasn’t
prepared for the embrace or the tears from her mother.
Jack frowned.No way was Caitlyn ready for this
reunion.She was barely coming to terms
with what had happened, let alone the fact that she was finally safe.Now she would have to heal.It was hard to do that with her mother’s
emotions overwhelming her.But, he
supposed it would be much worse if she didn’t care about her daughter.
The woman pulled away, tears
streaming down her face.“Oh,
Caitlyn.My baby girl.What did they do to you?” she asked as she
examined her daughter’s appearance.
Jack fielded that question by
clearing his throat.
She blinked.“Oh, I’m sorry, Officer.”
“Actually, it’s just Jack.Jack Thomas.I’m a consultant with the police.We spoke on the phone earlier?”
“Oh.Well, thank you so much for bringing my daughter home.”
She frowned after a bit.“Is there anything I can do for you, Mr.
With a glance at Caitlyn, he led the
woman aside.“Kidnappings are very
traumatic on the victims.That is why I
offer my services anytime this happens.”
She crossed her arms over her chest.“What…kind of services?”
“Counseling, anything I can do to
help a victim get back in touch with the world.”
She nodded.“I do appreciate it.But, I’m sure we’ll be fine.I can help my own daughter.”
He frowned.“I’m afraid you can’t.Not alone.And you’ll see the reason soon enough.What happened to Caitlyn was terrible, and I'd be amazed if she could
cope with it.”
The woman’s face hardened.“We’ll handle this on our own, as I said.”
He had dealt with overbearing
mothers before.“Sure, but just think
Jack turned back to Caitlyn.“You need anything, you let me know.If you just want to talk, that’s fine.If you think of anything, call me.”He handed her his business card.
Caitlyn managed a small smile.“Thank you, Jack.”
He hated gratitude sometimes,
especially in relation to a kidnapping.Or a rape.Or both, he thought
with a grimace.“Don’t thank me.I just want to help you if I can.You just get on with the business of living,
Mrs. Johnson tugged at Caitlyn’s
arm.“Come on, honey.Let’s go inside.”
“Yes, Mother,” she replied stiffly.And he could clearly see the agony in her
eyes as her mother led her away.He knew
she wasn’t ready for it yet, but he hoped the family home would allow her to
break through into some happy memories.
This novel was very smoothly written, allowing the reader to
immerse themselves fully in the storyline. Lavender stays firmly in the
time period that she’s chosen, weaving her tale in and out of the
social norms of the day (which she does take the time to point out for
her audience, rather than assuming that they know). This is not only an
intriguing and unique historical romance, but it was also historically
significant. Lavender brings everything together in a multilayered
storyline that’s about more than just the romance.
enjoyed the diversity of characters in this novel. I really felt for
the main character. She was left questioning social norms while trying
to fit into them, despite the difficulties that her desires set in her
way. I was left with one lasting question about the characters however.
What in the world was up with the main character’s mother and her
uncle. It was made out as very important in the story yet was never
This was a sensually sweet story that had me smiling
and cringing in turn. I quite enjoyed this novel and would definitely
look further into works by this author.
Please note that I received this novel free of charge from the author in exchange for an honest review.
I know I'm a bit late with this. It's the same message I sent out in my monthly newsletter so in case you missed it, here it is.
Hi, readers! To kick-start our monthly newsletters, I'd like to tell
you a bit about what's happened to me so far. As you probably already
know, Upon Your Return
was released through the Summer Solstice division of Solstice
Publishing in February 2013. The print version came out in May. Upon Your Return
did very well, earning bestseller status on Amazon. As part of my
launch of the book, I began to focus more on blogging and in that time, I
maintained two blogs, Marie Lavender's Books! and Writing in the Modern Age.
In March, I began to accept guest authors on Writing in the Modern
Age. It's been quite a fascinating journey, helping other writers
promote their articles and books. In June, we started accepting poetry
on the blog. It has been so rewarding to meet new authors this way and
see how talented they all are. We have had writers from different walks
of life and it has been very exciting to read about their journeys. At
the end of March, I also had my first author interview on RC Bonitz's site
and I have had many more author interviews and character interviews on
other sites since then. I have also done guest blogging.
During the promotion of Upon Your Return, I began to do more
blogging of my own on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog. If you check
the archives of the blog, you can see my past articles. You will also
find that I noted official book reviews and promos for Upon Your Return.
In May and June, I updated all of the covers on my self-published
novels. I have published 17 books to date. In that time, I received
some new reviews for those books. I also moderated three discussion
groups on LinkedIn and Facebook during that time. I am still a
moderator, but since then, I have formed a partnership with the
moderator of the Eat Sleep Write
site to help other authors promote their books better in one of the
groups. I also began writing more love poems, a long time hobby of
mine. Though I can't claim to be an official poet, I do it for fun.
You can see some of them listed on the Marie Lavender's Books! blog, and
some I have published in my anthologies. In September, I experimented
with creating my own book trailer, and that was certainly an
experience. It is available for viewing on Youtube.
In October of 2013, I was the featured author of the week on Maurice Tudor's blog and in the same month, I made the top 50 on Authors Database.
In November, I received a contract with my publisher for a paranormal
romance. It should be out soon. In the same month, I released a new
book, a romantic suspense called Leather and Lace. In December, I received the Liebster Blogger Award for Marie Lavender's Books! blog. Leather and Lace also received its first review that month, and it was a five star review. In December, I also entered the MARSocial's Author of the Year Competition. Upon Your Return
was the book I entered. In January, I discovered I was a finalist in
the competition. At the end of the month, I learned I was a runner-up
in the book competition. Recently, I also found out I earned Honorable
Mention in the January Readers' Choice Award on the Time for Love blog. So...it's been busy so far. LOL.
What are my future plans? Well, as aforementioned, my paranormal romance Magick & Moonlight
will be out soon. I also have an anthology lined up to be released. I
plan to re-release all of my books under Marie Lavender eventually, as
they are all penned under different names. You can still find them all
on my website though. I am always working on something, as my family,
friends and writer pals can attest to, and currently I am editing the
sequel to Upon Your Return for submission. It is titled Upon Your Honor,
and I am quite proud of how it's turned out. Chloe Waverly and Gabriel
Hill, the main characters, will wow you, especially if you liked the
first book. I plan to write another sequel, thereby making the
Heiresses in Love series a trilogy. You might ask, "What else does
Marie have in the works?" Well, I am also writing a sequel to Perfect Game, one of my self-published books. It is called A Game of Love,
and Haley Stewart, the main character, gets into more trouble this
time. I have tons of works in progress, and you can see them all listed
on my website in the Projects and Writing section.
Considering what month it is, I'd like to give some thought to the
subject of love. I know I've probably already bored you to death with
my rant, but I'll try to be quick about this. Valentine's Day is a time
for love in all forms, either familial love or romantic love. And we
love our friends too, right? "Love" is my favorite subject as I'm a
romance author. All of my books cover the topic in some form or other.
But, as we are thankful for what we have around Thanksgiving and
Christmas, let's think about what we are grateful for at Valentine's
Day. Who do you have in your life that you are thankful for? A loved
one, probably. Is it your family? Your spouse? A boyfriend or
girlfriend? A close friend? Several pals who surround you? Who is
that person in your life that you cannot imagine doing without? I know I
can list mine easily, but everyone has someone to be thankful for.
Maybe it's a pet or a neighbor, or just someone you can count on. But,
as Valentine's Day approaches, let's just be grateful to those we love.
That's what the season of love is about really, recognizing those who
mean the most to us.
With that said, thank you for reading my newsletter. If you want to
learn more about me and my books, please feel free to visit my website or my aforementioned blogs. I love my fans! Have a good month, and I'll catch you next time. :)
This book is a sweet historial romance with many twist and
turns. I was pulling for this couple. It took a great deal of time
for the events to come together. I much admired Fara for what she had
to endure in her life and become the lovely woman she is. I just love
Grant, even tho I was a little upset with him for his absence. He was
always there for Fara. I would recommend this book when you have many
hours to get lost in this romance.
This is where I'll be interviewing character from different books,
novels and short stories. If you're an author and you would like your
character to be interviewed, please send me an email. Fara Bellamont from Upon Your Return
Tell me a little about yourself and the world you live in.
My name is Fara Bellamont. I am eighteen years old. I live in France
in the city of La Rochelle.The year is 1863 so, as you can imagine, this
is a precarious time for women. I live in a fairly large house with my
uncle, who became my guardian after my parents’ deaths.
Tell us your most closely guarded secret?
I have a dreamer’s heart. There is nothing I want more than to have many adventures someday and to somehow find love.
Tell us about your single most important memory. What was it and how does it affect you now?
I have many, but the ones that I hold onto include my parents,
specifically my mother. I remember sitting on her bed faced away as she
brushed my hair gently. We would chat about everything. Sometimes I
would just listen to her talk, whether it was about something my father
did or her thoughts on issues of the day. Her voice was so calming to
me. I suppose those memories are all I have, all that keep me sane at
What type of person are you? Are you a hero or do you shy away from conflict?
I can’t say I like conflict in any way, but I am not a coward either. If I believe in something, I will fight for it.
Do you have any hobbies, any special talents?
I can play the pianoforte fairly well and I like knitting. I also love literature.
And in that line, what would be your ideal day?
My ideal day would be to comb the stacks in my uncle’s library, select a
book to read and settle down in the parlor. I would immerse myself in
that world for a time. I go to afternoon teas and dinners, of course,
but I prefer my own company to that of a crowd.
Do you have anyone close to you, any family or friends of interest?
I do have one friend, Helene, that I met at the convent I stayed in as child in Burgundy. We have been fairly close for years.
What is your most prized possession?
My most prized possession is the gold locket I wear. It has my parents’ pictures inside.
What initially spurred your actions in this story.Obviously it had to start somewhere for you, give us an idea of where that starting point is and where it all started.
I blame my parents. I could always see the love between them. It was
special, and I wanted that for myself. I knew I would wait for love.
How do you envision your future?
I picture myself happy, perhaps with a family, with people I care about and who care about me.
Tell us where we can read more about you?
You can read more about me in Upon Your Return, which is available now,
and the other books in the Heiresses in Love series when they are
Hi, readers! I wanted to alert you to the fact that yesterday was the one year anniversary of the release of UPON YOUR RETURN. To celebrate this momentous occasion, I'd like to do a giveaway. I am willing to give away up to five e-books of UPON YOUR RETURN if you comment at the end of this post. That means we could potentially have five winners! Please feel free to tell me if you want a copy of the book and any past Valentine's Day moments you'd like to share. Being that it is Valentine's Day, what better day is there for a romance writer to talk about love? Thinking about this special day reminds of the "first kiss". That's right. The first kiss. If you have a significant other, I'm sure you remember it in the finest detail. I'll share mine with you, if you're interested. Back when I met my fiancé, we had both decided to take things slow. That's what happens when you go through a couple of crappy relationships. So, we kind of danced around each other for awhile, unclear about signals and all that. We got into some conversation and I said, "Well, you haven't even kissed me yet." And then he looked at me and smiled. Lord, that smile. And those eyes. I don't think I've ever been affected by a man like that before him. So, that went on for awhile. He walked me to my door. We were standing on the porch. The stars outside were so bright and the night was perfect as well, not too cool and not too hot. And he leans down and kisses me. Oh. My. God. That was simply the best kiss ever. I'm talking fireworks and the knock-your-socks-off kind of kiss. My mind was completely blown. I'd never had that kind of kiss. It was perfect. He took his time, and I kissed him back, of course. We said our goodbyes and when I went inside, I probably didn't come back to myself for a full ten minutes. I was floating! Needless to say, this is the man I've spent years loving through ups and downs in our lives. We both suffered financially and experienced deaths in our families. It's been a lot to handle. But, through all of that, one thing stayed true. Our hearts, our connection to one other. I couldn't have asked for a better man to lean on or to love. Well, so that was my first kiss with my soul mate. I would also like to treat you all to a teaser of a first kiss from a work in progress. Don't forget to comment on the post for a chance to win a free copy of UPON YOUR RETURN. Here is the teaser. Enjoy!
Adrienne couldn’t look away no matter how much she
should. His dark gaze was sympathetic
and yet there was something more. A
bright glint lightened his eyes. Was it
desire? Robert used to look at her that
way, but he was such a gentleman, he’d never acted on his feelings entirely
except for the occasional brief embrace or chaste kiss on her forehead.
tension between them dropped away until there was a comfortable moment of
silence, and the look between them heightened into something more.
heartbeat thudded softly, and her lips parted as she looked up at him.
her cheek and then her jaw, caressing it with his thumb and fingertips. With a gentle grasp on her chin, he pulled
her towards him by degrees. Her gaze
dropped to his lips and she caught her breath as she knew his intent. His lips moved onto hers and she sighed into
the kiss. He was patient, steady as he
kissed her, allowing her the chance to reject him if she wished. But, she did not. His arm encircled her, pulling her tighter
against him and she rested her hands on his chest comfortably. He sought her essence, dipping his tongue,
meeting hers in a very pleasurable moment.
She murmured in encouragement, lifting her arms to loop them around his
neck. She kissed him back gently, trying
to keep up. Her breasts felt sensitive
as she lay against him.
pulled back slightly, looking at her with a slight smile on his face. He caressed her cheek once more. “I didn’t want to startle you.”
nodded. “Good. I’ve been wanting to do that since I met
grinned, then sobered a little. “You’ve
never been kissed like that before, have you?”
what I thought.”
She frowned. “Did I do something wrong?”
all. It was perfect.”
Perfect. That was the right word for what she’d felt.
Blurb: Fara Bellamont has been back in society for a year after leaving Cluny
Abbey, where her uncle sent her long ago. When he chooses a suitor for
her for marriage, she fears that she will be forced to marry a stranger
and live a miserable life. But, Fara finds herself thrust into an
adventure of a lifetime when unforeseen circumstances cause her to place
her trust in a strange man for protection. His intervention not only
saves her, but puts her in an even more compromising position. Grant
Hill, a trading captain, is enchanted by the young heiress not only
because of her beauty, but because she is hardly conventional.
Underneath her ladylike exterior lies a tigress. Grant cannot help but
offer his protection as she is in need and he is far from immune from
her charms. Fara just never bargained on the passion that she feels
for Grant Hill. As events unfold, she must decide whether her desires
and the dictates of her heart should trump the rules of society…
Leave your comments below for a chance to win! Please tell me about your "first kiss" as well!