Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great summer read - Fallen by Cindy Holby

Days 'till Memorial Day: 4

Days 'till A Little Light Magic: 5

Days 'till the Summer Solstice: 31

An excerpt of another great summer read today - Fallen by Cindy Holby.

I always enjoy Cindy's books, both her historical romances and her futuristic novels, which she writes under the pen name Colby Hodge. Fallen was out in January, when I was in a deadline cone-of-silence hell for my fall 2009 releases, and I missed it! (I hate it when that happens.)

After reading this blurb and excerpt, Fallen is at the top of my to-be-bought-next list. The emotion in this excerpt is gripping!

FALLEN
January 27, 2009
Dorchester/Leisure
ISBN 97800-8439-6026-6

He was the product of illegitimacy, son of a noble house with no claim to its title or riches. For John Murray, the only hope of a decent life was his career as a British Officer. Had she lost her heart when he rescued her from ruffians, or when she first looked into that face like a golden angel's? No matter when it began, Isobel knew there was no hope of a happy ending for a rebel Scottish lass and a red-coated Sassenach. Betrayed by the girl he loved. Disgraced before his commander, wounded in battle and left for dead, John thought he'd hit rock bottom. But the sweet touch of a lover he'd never thought to see again taught him no matter how far a man falls, with the right woman at his side, he can always stand tall.

Excerpt

Aberdeen. Scotland, 1773

A fine mist fell. John Murray could not help but shiver in his shirtsleeves as he stepped out into the damp gray gloom of early morning. A shudder moved down his spine as his eyes fell upon the post planted in the middle of the court yard at Castlehill. The ground around it was trampled, torn, mucky from the mix of rain and free flowing blood. Ewan Ferguson’s blood. No comfort for him there; his blood would soon join it.

Was she watching? His blue eyes scanned the ranks of his peers, all standing at attention in the despicable weather, all surely cursing his name because they’d been forced to rise early this miserable morning and watch his punishment.

Where was she? Surely they would force her to watch too, since it was her fault he was here in the first place. Surely they had made her watch her brother’s lashing as it was his fault that two men now lay dead.

There. He saw her. She stood next the general with her chin held high and her shoulders squared as if she had just handed down the sentence herself. In some strange turned-about way she had. Luckily for her the General was magnanimous in his show of mercy. She was a woman, after all, nothing more than an instrument in the treachery of her clansmen.

Her hair was plastered down against her head instead of the usual mass of springy curls that framed her face like sunlight. This morning it seemed darker than its usual reddish blonde. Her dress was stained dark with blood and the neckline gaped open, torn by him in his haste the afternoon they were together. Of course she would have no way to mend it, so it hung open, teasing him, tormenting him, just as she did the first time he met her. She had gotten into his head that day, damn her. She had no choice about the state of her dress, because her hands were tied before her. Even though the distance between them was great, he could feel her deep brown eyes upon him. Her gaze gave him a measure of satisfaction. A small measure, but something to hang on to.

If only they would lash her also. Did she not deserve it? Was not she as guilty as her brothers and her father in the planning and the plotting and the betrayal?

John’s stomach clenched in anger at the thought. No. It would not do to rip her pale, delicate skin. Knowing her as he did, he understood that she would rather take the lashing herself than watch it. She would suffer more that way. She deserved to suffer for what she’d done.

“Best get on with it lad,” Sergeant Gordon said. “Dread only makes it worse.”

John ripped his eyes from his desperate examination of her face and looked at the grizzled Sergeant who served as his escort.

“Aye, lad,” he said in his hoarse croak. “I’ve felt the lash. “Tis best not to think on it too much. Fear makes the muscles bunch across your shoulders and the pain is much worse.”

John flexed his shoulders as he took the first step into the courtyard. “How can I not think on it?” He’d seen lashings. Plenty of them. Twenty lashes was the usual sentence for dereliction of duty.

But General Kennsington had added another five because of the circumstances surrounding John’s transgression. His punishment was to be a lesson to all. Do not be swayed by a pretty face and the offer of favors. When John considered the loss of his reputation and the damage to his career, the lashes were nothing in comparison.

Still, he knew they were coming, and with them would come pain. John flexed his shoulders again. The mist had turned into a drumming rain and his shirt was soaked through. He felt goose bumps on his flesh. He hoped it was the cold that caused them, and not fear.

“I know what you’re thinking lad,” Sergeant Gordon continued as they walked the innumerable steps to the post. “You’re wondering how will it feel? Will I be able to stand it? Will I cry out like a babe?” Gordon was right all on accounts. John felt a newfound respect for the man as they continued the gut-wrenching walk across the yard.

Too soon they stood before the post and Gordon attached the hook to the bonds around John’s wrists. Gordon nodded to a corporal who jerked on a rope attached to a pulley and John’s arms were stretched above his head, pulling him against the post. His boots sunk into the muck and the corporal pulled again so that he was stretched up onto his toes.

“Let him down a bit lad,” Gordon instructed. “Ye might find yerself in the same predicament some day.” The corporal relented and John was able to place his feet more firmly on each side of the post.

Gordon looked beyond John to the burly man holding the lash. “He won’t be happy unless you cry out,” he said. “The man loves his job too well.” Gordon spat into the mud by John’s feet. “Sadistic bastard,” he added. He slipped a piece of wood in John’s mouth. “Bite down on it lad. Twill help.”

John nodded as he placed his cheek against the post. Gordon stepped behind him and ripped away his shirt. “Think on something else lad,” he added into his ear as the cold rain on his bare back let him know that Gordon had left him.

Think on something else…John blinked the rain off his eyelashes and looked toward General Kensington. He heard the sentence being read by Kensington’s aide, a nephew of the General’s with a squeaky voice and bad skin.

“Do you understand your sentence?” the aide asked, his voice breaking on the last part.

John looked at the general and nodded. The general raised his hand. His face looked sad and John knew that the man was thinking about his father. They were friends. It was the reason Kensington had requested John be assigned to him. What would Kensington have to say to his father about all of this?

Think on something else…He knew the lash was coming. He could sense it coiling and gathering. He heard it whistle threw the air.

John looked at her. Isobel. Izzy. It was her fault. He trusted her with his life, with his soul, with his heart, and she’d betrayed him.

He felt the sting of the lash. His back burned as he was slammed against the post.

“One,” the aide said.

Get on with it…

The next one came in the opposite direction. Marking his back with an X as if he were a target. His eyes stayed on Izzy. How easy a target he’d been for her. He’d fallen like a rock into sea. Sunk right into her plotting. Captured by a winsome smile and deep brown eyes that seemed to hold the secrets of time.

“Two.”

The next one landed straight across, the tail of the whip caressing his ribcage and tearing at the skin on his side as it hit against the bone.

John let out a hiss but kept his eyes on Izzy. Her eyes seemed huge in her face. At one time he’d thought he could get lost in those eyes.

“Three.”

Damn her eyes. Three lashes and his back felt as if it was on fire.

The next one struck straight down his spine. The man was thorough if nothing else. He seemed determined to flay every inch off his back in the strokes allowed. John pressed his wrists against each other as pain shot throughout every inch of his body. He pushed against the post, his body automatically seeking escape from the next blow.

“Four.”

Think on something else.

How could he not be tense when he knew it was coming? He heard the whistle of the lash once again. Felt his flesh tear. Felt the blood pour down his back. He groaned and clenched his teeth tighter into the wood.

“Five.”

Twenty to go. How could he stand it? He had too. Crying wouldn’t stop it. Begging wouldn’t stop it. Screaming his anger at the heavens would not stop it anymore than it would stop the rain that washed against his back and plastered his hair into his eyes.

Izzy. He stared at her, blinking against the rain. It was her fault. All her fault. Every bit of it. Izzy.

Izzy.

This week's Countdown prizes! Comment on any post from Sunday May 17 through Saturday May 23 to enter the contest for the following prizes:
  • The Grail King by Joy Nash
  • Fallen by Cindy Holby
  • T-shirt with the slogan "Careful, or you'll end up in my novel"
Three winners will be chosen at random and posted on Sunday May 24.


Check back tomorrow for more summer fun!

Joy Nash
www.joynash.com



Coming May 26!

A Little Light Magic

Summer at the Jersey Shore has never been so hot!

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14 Comments:

Blogger traveler said...

Thanks for this wonderful excerpt and feature. I enjoyed it so much. I love the Jersey Shore. To me it is the ultimate summer vacation spot. perfection in everyway. Nothing changes and that is wonderful.

9:38 AM  
Blogger darbyscloset said...

LOved the excerpt, I could imagine it all even the mist!
Talk to you soon,
Darby
darbyscloset at yahoo dot com

10:08 AM  
Blogger Virginia said...

Great excerpt! This would be a book I would love. I sounds like a real page turner and I would love to read it. Please count me in on this one!

12:19 PM  
Blogger ellie said...

Great Excerpt. Love this summer theme since it is my favorite season and the shore my fave place to me.

3:37 PM  
Blogger Estella said...

Loved the excerpt. I'm putting this on my To Buy list.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Raonaid Luckwell said...

I've never read her before so thanks for the excerpt!

7:15 PM  
Blogger Caffey said...

Wow, I have no idea how I missed this one either! First the cover is beautiful and too set in Scotland! The hero John Murray sounds as he's gone through so much emotionally and physically with the war and his betrayal from her. Wow, Beautiful reading this. I shall be putting on wishlist! I wonder if its connected with other books she has, if there are related books too set in Scotland?

8:44 PM  
Blogger Patricia said...

One of my favorite time period for historicals. It is hard to understand punishing your own men (let alone anyone else) in such a way. It is a book I definitely want to read. Have a great weekend.

10:58 PM  
Blogger Sue A. said...

Wow, what an excerpt! I definitely want more.

11:03 PM  
Blogger Carol L. said...

Thanks for the exceprt. I haven't read anything by CVindy Holby before. I can't believe I never heard of it before, especially since it's set in Scotland. My favorite books are Scottish Romance. A man in a kilt is my favorite. :)
Thanks Joy. I'll ahve to check and see if there are other books connected.
Carol L.
Lucky4750@aol.com

2:52 AM  
Blogger Pam P said...

Loved this excerpt. I've read most of her books, and need to get this one now.

3:16 AM  
Blogger Cindy Holby said...

Thanks everyone for your great comments. Fallen is a spin off of Rising Wind, another Colonial period book. Its the first time I've actually placed one in Scotland and it was fun to do the research. The story concludes in NC around a historical site within thirty miles of my home.

I hope you all enjoy Fallen. At the present I'm working on a medieval called Breath Of Heaven. It will be out sometime next year.

2:55 PM  
Blogger PhyllisC said...

I've read several of Cindy's books and really enjoyed them. I can't wait to read this one. The excerpt was great!

1:52 PM  
Blogger Cheryl S. said...

Thanks for the excerpt - I love reading books set in Scotland. "Fallen" will be added to my TBR list.

megalon22[at]yahoo[dot]com

3:20 PM  

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