Saturday, March 30, 2013

"Restitution," Amy's First Drink Excerpt

Running off with a handsome stranger is hardly something Amy McKittrick would do under ordinary circumstances.

Yet, In "Restitution," the second book of the new Historical Romance "Tender Mysteries Series," that's exactly what Amy does!

Excerpts continue with a great one from "Restitution" this week.

November, 1895. Hope Nebraska. For years Amy has been trying to make amends for a crime she’d committed when she was fifteen years old. She’s doggedly, habitually avoided sin since that one infraction, but when Diego comes to town making all kinds of horrible accusations she finds herself lying over and over again. Alone with him in the countryside, on the trail of a thief, as Amy succumbs to Diego’s charms, she feels worse than ever for misleading him, even as she begins to feel whole again by loving him.

(About the “Tender Mysteries Series:” After a flood annihilates a wagon train in 1888, eleven female survivors build a life in Hope, Nebraska.)


Setup: Amy has hurt her ankle during a snowstorm, and they've taken shelter in a cave.

Diego scooped her into his arms, stood and held her tightly against his chest.

She laid her head on his shoulder and forced herself to remain silent, though the pain coursing through her ankle and leg made her want to cry out.

When he reached the bed he’d made for her, Diego somehow managed to get to his knees and gently place her on the wool-covered pine boughs.

“Dear God,” Amy cried, “it hurts so much.”

Diego quickly covered her with two blankets. He tucked them tightly around her as he’d done with Flossie.

As soon as he finished, he went to a bag of supplies he’d piled with the other saddles a few feet away. He returned momentarily with a flask. He moved the lamp he’d left near Amy’s bed, came close beside her and handed her the flask.

“Drink this. It’ll ease the pain,” he said.

“What is it?” Amy asked.

“It’s whiskey.”

“But I’ve never--” A surge of pain assaulted her again, cutting off her words.

“Please, Miss McKittrick, take a big drink. It’ll burn a little, but you’ve got to swallow it down.”

Amy opened the flask and put it to her lips.

She closed her eyes and drank heartily.

Fire burst inside her mouth, down her gullet and into her stomach.

“This tastes almost as bad as the coffee you gave me this morning,” she said wryly as she struggled to endure the pain of her injury and the burn of her medicine.

Diego smiled at her. “I guarantee it’ll be just as effective, only in a different way.”

He reached for the lamp and took it to the foot of her bed.

“Take another swig of whiskey, Miss McKittrick. I’ve got to remove your shoe and look at your ankle. The more whiskey you can take in before I tend to your injury, the less pain you’ll feel when I examine you.”

Amy took another big drink. She was surprised to find it less offensive than it had been the first time she’d drunk it.

“Take in some more, missy, at least another swallow or two,” Diego said as he sat at her feet.

She drank again. This time she didn’t mind the flavor of the libation at all. In fact, she found it pleasant, pleasant enough to take a bit more.

Diego watched as Amy drank from his flask. He was sicker at heart than he’d ever been, seeing her injured the way she was. Thank heaven he had something to give her to relieve her pain.

“It tastes a li’l better now, Misser Consillo,” she drawled.

The slurring of her words told Diego it would now be safe to remove her shoe and examine her injury.

He began his work immediately.

As he looked closely at her ankle, once he’d removed her shoe, he felt a knot form in his gut. He didn’t like what he saw.

He covered her feet with the blankets and move round her pallet to talk with her.

“Did you fix my ankle a’ready?” she asked when he sat next to her. “It doesn’t hurt anymore. I think you fixed it.”

Diego took the flask from her. He picked up the cap which had fallen from Amy’s fingers onto her belly and returned it to the mouth of the flask.

He lifted the top of her blanket. “Put your arms inside, Miss McKittrick,” he said gently. “You need to warm up as best you can.”

“But I’m feelin’ much warmer now,” she said, smiling at him.

Her smile was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen--but he couldn’t think about her loveliness now.

“I’m glad you feel warmer, but we need to be sure you stay good and warm,” he said, helping her put her arms inside the covers.

“I’m good, Misser Diego, and I’m warm too, I think. And my ankle har’ly hurts at all…I think I could dance, if I wanted to… Do you want to dance?”

If he hadn’t been so worried about her injury, he’d have found her state of inebriation quite humorous.

She pulled an arm from the shelter of her blankets and reached toward him. “I don’t like your brother, Diego. He isn’t a very nice man, but you…you…you’re not as bad as he is, are you?”

He took her hand and tucked it under her blanket. He secured her in her covers so snuggly she looked like a very beautiful, living mummy--even if the description was a contradiction in terms.

He grasped her chin with his fingers. “Miss McKittrick, I’m going to examine your ankle again.” He wanted to see how much the swelling had increased since he’d removed her shoe.

“Okay…,” she said, sounding as though she didn’t care one way or the other just what he did to her.

He moved to the foot of the bed and positioned himself by the injured foot. He uncovered it and examined it. The entire ankle, part of the calf and some of the foot had swollen significantly since he’d removed the shoe.

“Is my ankle alright now?” Amy asked in a dreamy tone.

“Not yet,” he said. “I’m afraid I’ll need to get some snow to put on it to keep the swelling down.

“If you think it will help…”

“I’m sure it will,” he said. He moved straight to the stack of supplies and found the leather pouch in which he carried tools and other items which tended to come in handy when a man rides a trail. He emptied its contents onto the floor of the cave and went outside to fill it with snow. Upon his return he placed the pouch on Amy’s ankle.

“That’s cold,” she said.

He went to her and sat next to her. He took off his hat and gloves and set them next to her pallet. He trailed his fingers over her forehead. To his relief, he found she had no fever--yet.

“Mm,” she said, “that feels nice.”

His belly tightened. He’d wanted to touch her this way ever since he first saw her. She was a striking woman with eyes like emeralds and lips like ripe cherries.

“Mr. Consillo?”


“My ankle…it’s hurting again,” she said. She began to shiver.

Diego’s concern for her wellbeing escalated. He knew it was necessary to keep a person warm and comfortable after an injury. Her shivering was not a good sign. It could mean a fever was getting started.

Or she could be cold due to the snow pack he’d placed on her ankle.

He went to the supplies, retrieved the last blanket, and returned to Amy’s side.

She was shivering even more vigorously.

He placed the extra blanket over her, but she continued to quake.

The only thing left to do was to try to warm her with his own body heat.

He removed his coat, pulled back the covers and got into her bed with her.

“Mr. Consillo,” she said through chattering teeth. “Get away from me,” she said softly, her voice weakened by the strength of the liquor.

“I’m sorry, Miss McKittrick, but I’ve got to warm you up as quickly as I can. Please, lie still so you don’t disturb the snow pack I’ve placed on your foot. And don’t…don’t fight me; let me warm you. Can you do that, please?”

“Mr. Consillo,” she said, sounding sober, though he knew she was not, “tomorrow, when I’m feeling better, I’m going to slap your face as hard as I can for violating me in this way.”
Her threat sounded quite convincing, yet, he couldn’t help but smile upon hearing her warning. She was no bigger than a sapling and no stronger than bumble bee.

“If it’ll make you feel better, Miss McKittrick, I promise I’ll offer my jaw to you as soon as you’d like to take out your revenge on me,” he said.

To his surprise, she snuggled closer to him. “Why thank you. And, even though it will not make you feel better, I’ll accept your jaw, and I’ll bruise it quite effectively with a swipe of my hand…”

He chuckled as she drifted off to sleep.

She was no longer shivering, but Diego continued to hold her anyway.

He figured if he was going to be properly slapped in the morning by this lovely woman, he might as well earn his punishment by holding her a little while longer.


"Restitution" is available in e-book and paperback at: Amazon, B&N, Kobo Books, I-Books, and at bookstores and libraries.

Happy Easter to all my Christian Readers. Best wishes for a wonderful Spring for Everyone.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Resurrected--an Excerpt

Dear Readers, thanks for your interest in excerpts from my books. I'll be posting a few of them during the upcoming weeks.

"Resurrected," the first book in my new Historical Romance "Tender Mysteries Series," is featured this week. "Resurrected" is available for FREE as a download at Amazon, B&N, the I-Books store, Sony, Kobo Books and other places on the Internet. This book is also available in paperback.


Deborah couldn’t believe she was sitting at a table in the middle of Hope, Nebraska’s Town Square pretending to be Steven Paxton’s sweetheart. Of all the silly ideas which had ever been concocted by any human being since the time of Adam and Eve, this had to be the silliest.

“You should always wear pale blue and white, Miss Deborah. You look quite fetching in those colors,” Steven said smoothly.

“You don’t need to say things a beau would say,” Deborah said complacently. “Our charade requires only that you act like we’re lovers, not that you speak as though we were.”

“Forgive me. I’m doing my best to play the part. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“Offend me? You didn’t offend me, Mr. Paxton. I just wanted to let you know flirtatious flattery isn’t necessary. You aren’t really my beau. You need only to look like you’re my beau by your actions when we’re in public.”

“Yes, of course,” he said, inclining his head in her direction.

Deborah turned her attention to the people and the setting surrounding her. She inhaled the scent of roses from a nearby flower bed and the fragrance of popcorn being roasted in a big kettle a few feet away.

She carefully scanned the crowd, hoping to eye at least one of the people from the list she and her sisters had compiled of the suspected thieves.

“Do you see anyone we’re looking for?” Steven asked.

She shook her head. “Not yet.” Rather than looking at him as she spoke, she continued her perusal of the folks gathered in Town Square.

For several minutes neither she nor Steven spoke. The silence put her at ease. If Steven wasn’t speaking, if he wasn’t delving into her soul with those scrutinizing blue eyes of his, she wouldn’t have to admit to herself just how unsettled her emotions became whenever he was nearby.

“Mr. Paxton, do you think if we--” She stopped speaking when she felt his hand on hers. “What are you doing?” she asked, looking at him in shock.

“I’ve taken your hand so I can hold it the way a beau would,” he said, grinning at her.

“It’s unseemly.” The feel of his warmth against her gloved hand flustered her more than his soul-searching eye contact had when he’d come by the house to collect her earlier.

“A beau taking his lady’s hand is perfectly appropriate, Miss Deborah.”

She shook her head. “This just doesn’t seem right.”

“Yet, you’ve not withdrawn your hand, have you?”

She gave her hand a slight tug, and he tightened his grasp.

“Do you want me to let go of your hand?” he asked softly.

His searing eye contact heated her from crown to soles.

“N-no, I suppose not. I did say we should do things a couple would do, but don’t…don’t you dare say things a beau would say.”

“Never again.”

She gave him a steadfast nod. “Good.”

Another attractive grin touched his lips before his gaze left her and settled on the crowd of people around them.

“Isn’t that short, skinny boy with the round face, mussed-up brown hair and glasses standing near the willow tree Albert Anderson?”

Deborah looked to her left at the lad in the blue plaid shirt and black pants. Her broad brimmed white chapeau with the blue ribbon shaded her eyes from the bright afternoon sunshine. “He’s the Anderson boy alright.”

“He looks harmless enough at the moment.”

“Retarded or not, he’s usually well behaved at public events, but, still, we should keep an eye on him. He could be our thief. He’s taken an uncommon interest in several of our things.”

“I don’t suppose he can get into much trouble eating ice cream at a social,” Steven speculated.

“Let’s hope not,” she said, hoping the boy wasn’t the thief. Considering his mental shortcomings, life had to be difficult enough for the boy without getting into trouble with the law.

A flash of red on her periphery caught Deborah’s attention, and she immediately turned to determine the source of the bright color. Seeing Albert had put her senses on alert, and the presence of one suspect reminded her of the purpose of being at the social with Steven.
Marcie Wilhelm, another suspect, dressed in a bright red, form-fitting dress, stood a few yards away gazing at Deborah. She nodded and twirled her red and white parasol when Deborah caught her eye. “It’s Marcie.”

“Where?” Steven said.

“There, near the man with the handlebar mustache, white shirt and black bow tie.”

Steven glanced in the direction Deborah had indicated. “Do you mean that lovely blonde woman dressed in red is the despised Marcie Wilhelm Susan wants to torture?”

Deborah tugged Steven’s hand, and he looked at her. “She only wants to torture her if she’s taken our mother’s cameo.”

“Yes, of course.” Steven glanced at Marcie again. “I hope she’s not the thief. I’d hate to see any harm come to her. She’s a very beautiful woman.”

His complimentary declaration regarding Marcie set Deborah’s stomach on fire. Humph, she thought, I’m fetching, but she’s beautiful?

“I suppose she is, if you like that kind of girl.”

“What man wouldn’t?”

Deborah jerked his hand. “What did you say?”

Ooh, she hadn’t meant to add such an annoying tone to her words. In fact, she hadn’t meant to say the words out loud at all. She sounded and, worse yet, felt like a jealous shrew when she had no reason to be jealous at all. She and Steven were not sweethearts.

“I said Miss Wilhelm is a beautiful woman, the kind most men would find quite attractive--even men who were in love with someone else altogether.” He tilted his head, a gesture she found terribly attractive, and grinned at her. “A fact is a fact, Miss Deborah, and the fact is that Miss Wilhelm is a lovely lady. Surely you can’t argue against evidence anyone can plainly see,” he said, leaning his head in Marcie’s direction.

Deborah glanced at Marcie briefly before settling her gaze on Steven again. “You’re absolutely correct. Marcie Wilhelm is beautiful.”

“That’s all I’m saying,” he said with a wave of his hand.

“But she might just be a black-hearted thief too!”

God bless all of you, Dear Readers, with a wonderful week.


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Love Stories

Love stories have always been popular because everyone can identify with them. We all want to give and receive love.

I write and read romances which are good, old-fashioned, classic love stories, novels with compelling stories and lots of sexual tension between the man and woman, but without explicit sex, the kind that would make you blush if you read it aloud to your young daughter or granddaughter. These "sweet" romances are like "PG" or "PG-13" movies, as far as sexual content is concerned.

Sweet romances are getting harder and harder to find, even though many Readers prefer this type of love story. There are, however, a number of writers like me who continue to provide classic romance, high in conflict and sexual tension, but low is explicitness.

Any good love story, whether is "PG" or "R," is made up of the following:

1. The hero and heroine of a love story must be highly attracted to each other, physically and emotionally.

2. At least one major obstacle must stand in the way of their being able to be together. The conflict may be either exterior, (happening outside of the individual, such as in Romeo and Juliet's family issues) or interior (a woman who was terribly hurt by a first husband might be afraid to trust a man again).

3. An external force must cause them to have to be together. (Example: a child goes missing. The heroine is the detective on the case, the hero is the widower whose child is missing)

4. Emotion is key in a love story--love, hate, regret, longing, sorrow, misery, laughter, anger--but it should never be contrived. The emotion must be natural to the characters and realistic in the way the plot is developed.

5. As the hero and heroine struggle to defeat the external force causing them to be together, a relationship grows between them. It might begin with a sense of loathing for each other, even though there's plenty of sexual chemistry between them, but it eases into mutual respect, friendship and eventually true love by the time they finally defeat the external force and decide whether or not they should be together. (The widower of the missing child in the example above might blame the detective for not doing enough to find his missing child, but, as they work together, they begin to respect each other, find common ground, friendship and realize their mutual admiration has blossomed into true love.)

6. The hero and heroine must be loveable to the Readers as well as to each other--but they must not be perfect. They should have flaws, sometimes major flaws, and they must struggle to overcome their shortcomings and thus be worthy of loving and of being loved.

7. Most Readers prefer a "happily ever after" ending. I know I do. But it isn't necessary to end a romance that way. A few writers have found a following by writing stories which end in tragedy. Every author who writes love stories must decide which type of ending they want to give their Readers, and their Readers will decide whether or not it's the type of ending they want in their love stories.

I hope your March, 2013 is filled with a special love story of your own...


Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page