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FEATURE AND GIVEAWAY!
Spring, 1768. The Southern frontier is a treacherous wilderness inhabited by the powerful Cherokee people. In Charlestown, South Carolina, twenty –five year-old Quincy MacFadden receives news from beyond the grave: her cousin, a man she’d believed long dead, is alive—held captive by the Shawnee Indians. Unmarried, bookish, and plagued by visions of the future, Quinn is a woman out of place … and this is the opportunity for which she’s been longing.
Determined to save two lives, her cousin’s and her own, Quinn travels the rugged Cherokee Path into the South Carolina Blue Ridge. But in order to rescue her cousin, Quinn must trust an enigmatic half-Cherokee tracker whose loyalties may life elsewhere. As translator to the British army, Jack Wolf walks a perilous line between a King he hates and a homeland he loves.
When Jack is ordered to negotiate for Indian loyalty in the Revolution to come, the pair must decide: obey the Crown, or commit treason ….
I am, as many of you will know, with a historical romance book review group called Romantic Historical Fiction Lovers, and when I saw this book was coming out I jumped at the opportunity to read and review it. After all, my books are also set partially in the Keowee Valley, and I was hoping she could teach me along the way. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. I loved the book. One of my #1 recommendations for this Christmas. Thank you so much for being here, Katherine!
My story begins before the fall, in that Indian summer time when the hills are tipped with oncoming gold, and the light hangs just above the trees, dotting the Blue Ridge with gilded freckles. The mornings and the evenings are cool, but it is the mornings I remember most: waking before the men, wrapping a shawl around my shoulders and slipping out through the fields, the dry grass crunching beneath my boots. Drifting down from Tomassee Knob the mist would spread over the Keowee Valley in a great, rivering pool of gray, the sun rising in the east flecking the horses’ breath—suspended in the air before their nostrils—with slivers of shine. It was then the whole world was quiet, no crows eating my corn, the peacefulness not even broken by the bay of some wolf on the ridge, calling to the still-lit moon in the western sky. The whole world was silent then, and the Blue Ridge breathed beneath the deep purple earth. I thought I could feel it, a great heart beating in the wilderness.
He came to me in the morning. I had crossed the north fields and made my way to the creek at the edge of the forest to check on the last of the Solomon’s Seals I’d watched cling to the embankment in the final days of summer. Ferns reaching the height of my elbows billowed out from the ground, spreading for what looked like miles. The smell of sap emanated from fallen pines where woodpeckers searched for tiny bugs and snakes lay still in the cool undergrowth. Every once in a while a squirrel or rabbit leapt from its camouflaged hiding place, skirting the path I walked.
Coals from a recent fire smoldered black in a pile a few yards from a bend in the creek, and I looked up and farther into the woods, wondering if a Cherokee scout or perhaps a trapper had decided to take his rest on our land. But the woods were eerily still, and not a bird sang nor cricket chirped. There was no movement except for the creek itself, bubbling up against a tiny dam made by runaway branches, cane and weeds. My eyes came to rest across the creek on shadows at the bottom of an enormous oak. Suddenly, the shadows shifted, and the shape of a man stepped forward, seeming to emerge seamlessly from the trunk, his feet making no sound in the leaves.
The breath caught in a knot in my throat, and I placed a hand there, the other fumbling in my skirts for the lady’s flintlock I’d been given. He walked closer, still without sound, and stood watching me from the edge of the creek bed. I pulled the pistol from its hold, pointing it unsteadily at the stranger.
"Come no closer,” I ordered, the words tumbling awkwardly off my tongue and echoing softly in the small dip of valley.
He raised his head, eyes emerging from beneath the brim of a battered farmer’s hat. Across that creek they looked as green to me as moss growing on boulders in the water. His hair was long, the fawn color of a well-worn leather saddle, and the ends were tipped with the same pale blond that streaked through the rest, like he’d dipped his head in white paint. He looked like a white man turned savage, with his moccasin-laced boots and dirty, fringed deerskin shirt, a beaded strap crossing his chest, holding a hatchet and musket on his back. He did not speak, just looked at me from under that hat, shadows cast high on his cheekbones and the solid line of his jaw. The creek gurgling and my breathing were the only sounds. Soon, I knew, the settlement would awake, and the animals would need to be fed, the horses let to pasture.
Surely someone would notice I was missing.
It was the first time he had come to me, but it would not be the last. And though my story ends with him, he did not cause it to begin. I did that, on a midsummer day in the year of our Lord 1768, in the twenty-fifth year of my youth.
Katherine Scott Crawford was born and raised in the blue hills of the South Carolina Upcountry, the history and setting of which inspired Keowee Valley. Winner of a North Carolina Arts Award, she is a former newspaper reporter and outdoor educator, a college English teacher, and an avid hiker. She lives with her family in the mountains of Western North Carolina, where she tries to resist the siren call of her passport as she works on her next novel. Visit her website at www.katherinescottcrawford.com for more information, or to connect with her via Facebook and at her blog, The Writing Scott.
Kaki Warner's acclaimed trilogy: THE RUNAWAY BRIDES—three strong-willed women headed West in search of new lives. But when their train is stranded in a dying Colorado mining town, they get more than they bargained for…and find love where they least expect it.
"Lightning paced, innovative, topical … and most of all, frightening."
-- James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author