They’ll give us a peek at what they've got planned for 2015 and share some favorite memories. Plus, they're showering us with gifts!
I can't think of a better way to celebrate, can you? Grab a hot chocolate, throw a log on the fire and let's get started with:
I am very excited (and a little sad) about this final book in the Heartbreak Creek saga, Thomas and Pru’s story. It’s titled Home by Morning and will be released July 7th. This mismatched couple began as secondary characters in the first Heartbreak Creek book, and have since become the thread that weaves through all six books in the Runaway Brides and Heroes of Heartbreak Creek trilogies. I have never had characters so capture the imaginations of my readers. With each release throughout the two trilogies, I have gotten letter after letter asking when I would write Thomas and Pru’s story. It was a difficult book to write, and a difficult series to end, and I hope it was worth the wait
Here's a sneak peek:
Prudence Lincoln’s beauty and education have brought her little joy. Envied by blacks for the advantages she’s had, and reviled by whites for her black blood, she’s proving herself by helping ex-slaves prepare for newfound freedom. Thomas has no place in her future, no matter how much she loves him.
He’s suffered only hardship. She was raised in privilege. Their only common ground is the spark between them that won’t die. Yet even as evil forces pull them apart again and their differences threaten to separate them forever, a special child teaches them that courage is a choice, happiness is a gift, and love will overcome any obstacle in their way.
I am giving myself an early gift this year in a hip replacement. I want to hike again, something I haven't been able to do for a couple years. I hope by Christmas to be dancing at the foot of the Christmas tree.
What are you working on for the coming year?
Book 7 in the Cotillion Ball Series--Expressly Yours, Samantha--will be released March 2015. I'm excited about it, since it focuses on the Pony Express. It took a lot of research to get my facts straight, and I learned much more about this little slice of history than I ever thought possible.
Samantha Hughes needs to get away from her wicked uncle, and, following her aunt’s death, she has one day to escape. A sign in the post office offers an avenue out. She can cut her hair, pose as a man, and become Sam Hughes, a Pony Express rider.
Valerian Fitzpatrick has defied his parents and stayed in St. Louis for the past year. He doesn't want the weight of responsibility his brothers have in the family business. All he wants to do is ride horses, and, fortunately, the Pony Express is starting up and looking for wiry young fellows.
When Sam Hughes helps Valerian control a runaway horse, Joseph, Valerian’s brother-in-law, tells him their meeting was destiny. Over the weeks and months that follow, Sam and Val work side by side on the exciting Pony Express. Val assumes Sam is on the run from the law, and helps shield his buddy from the Pinkerton agents. He thinks this must be the destiny Joseph talked about. Although Samantha harbors feelings for Val, he has no idea she’s a woman. Until she suffers a stray gunshot wound and he has to undress her to staunch the wound.
Friendship turns into attraction and maybe even love. When her uncle tracks her down, she is forced to run yet again. She realizes the danger she’s put Valerian into, having him try to shield her from her uncle, and leaves him behind with a note to not track her down.
We’ll look forward to following your series out West. Thanks for being here today and here’s to you dancing beneath the tree on Christmas morning.
That's an awesome birthday-almost-Christmas present. I'd say living on Kauai is pretty spectacular, too, as well as being great inspiration. Don't you have a new book coming out next year?
LAST (NOT LEAST, I HOPE) E.E. BURKE
Best Christmas present ever?
My second daughter, Emily, who was born a few weeks before Christmas. What a wonderful gift! Of course, all three of my daughters are the best gifts ever, but having a baby near Christmas was a special treat. Emily just got married his past October. How time flies!
What am I up to for 2015?
I'll be publishing the next book in the series, Steam! Romance and Rails. Today I wanted to give our GLIAS readers a little teaser. This is an original scene with two characters who will appear in the next book. I'm also sharing a wonderful pie recipe handed down through my husband's family. His mother taught me how to make the BEST cherry pie ever. Her crust is amazing (once you master it).
The tart-sweet smell wafting through the hotel lobby made Billy’s mouth water. Any other day, dessert was reserved for guests, mostly railroad travelers passing through Parsons. But this being Christmas Day, there were no trains running and few guests. So who was getting that pie?
He tracked the tantalizing smell to the kitchen. As he crept closer to a worktable where the source of the wonderful aroma sat cooling, he kept a wary eye on the dainty woman at the sink peeling potatoes. Despite her size, Mrs. Daines was a force to be reckoned with...and she didn’t stand for stealing.
When he’d first come to live here, he would’ve hooked the pie without a second thought, and if she’d thrown him out, would’ve said he didn’t care. He hadn’t wanted to be stuck with another family that didn’t want him.
To his surprise, Mrs. Daines turned out to be different from the other folks he’d stayed with. Oh, she scolded him if he went astray, but she was just as quick to praise when he behaved. As time went by, he found he was less inclined to break her rules.
Might be he could get away with pinching off a small piece of crust. She hadn’t made tasting a crime—yet.
“Keep away from the pie, Billy.”
He jerked to an abrupt halt, his finger and thumb a mere inch away from the golden brown crust. She hadn’t even turned around to look. It was like she had eyes in the back of her head. He peered suspiciously at the thick brown hair confined in a net.
Before she caught him in the act, he tucked his hands beneath his arms. “Ain’t touchin’, just sniffin’.”
She turned with a partially peeled potato in one hand and used a paring knife to gesture. “You aren’t."
He got her point without the knife. “No ma’am. Told you, I ain’t touched it.”
One of her dark eyebrows notched up. “Ain’t isn’t a word.”
Billy puzzled over this revelation. “Then what is it?”
“Poor grammar. You have better words to use to express yourself.”
He huffed in disgust. “Not if you keep taking ‘em away.”
Her lips twitched like what he'd said amused her. She didn’t smile a whole lot, laughed even less. Maybe that was because she worked so hard, running a busy hotel and caring for a crippled husband. She set the potato and knife aside and wiped her hands on her apron. “Tell you what. I’ll give you new words to replace the old ones.”
Billy was dead certain the new ones wouldn’t be as good as the old. However, he’d try them out if for no other reason than to please the kind woman who’d taken him. Temporarily. His stays never lasted long. He was like a stray cat that folks might feed and keep around for a while, as long as he was helpful, but they didn’t care if he eventually ran away.
She crossed to the worktable and picked up a plate that contained bits and pieces of baked crust. The spicy scent of cinnamon teased Billy’s nose. “I always end up with extra dough, and found a good use for it. You may have some.”
He popped a flaky remnant into his mouth. Umm, sprinkled with sugar and spice. His heart sang. So did his stomach. Rather than waiting for another invitation, he scooped up the remaining pieces. “’S’good,” he mumbled around a mouthful.
When she cocked up her eyebrow he swallowed before he spoke again. Talking while chewing wasn’t polite in front of a lady. Men weren’t so particular. “You sure are a good cook.”
The sharpness in her gaze softened. When she dropped that starchy expression, she looked younger, almost pretty. Billy liked to think his mother might've resembled her.
“I’m glad you’re here to enjoy my cooking,” she said.
“You are?” Surprised delight collided with wary disbelief. He couldn’t recall anybody being glad to have him around, much less happy about feeding him.
He started to wipe his sticky fingers on his shirt, and then remembered she didn’t approve when did that, so he licked them instead.
Without batting an eye, she withdrew a faded dishtowel from her apron pocket and handed it to him. “I have a surprise for you."
“Something I can eat?” Billy cut a glance at the cooling pie.
Her brown eyes gleamed. “It’s better than pie.”
“Nothing’s better than your cherry pie.” He was quite sure about that.
“What about being adopted? Do you think that might be better?”
His mouth dropped open. Had he heard right? “You…you want to keep me?”
She nodded. “Yes, indeed.”
Billy's heart flew up into his throat. Adopted meant he’d get to stay here until he was grown. Be part of a family. Belong. He’d never belonged to anybody. Not even his Ma had wanted him.
Mrs. Daines started to look worried when he didn't answer. “Don’t you want to be adopted?”
He knew he ought to say yes, but his heart remained lodged in his throat and it wouldn't budge, no matter how hard he swallowed. For as long as he could remember, he'd wanted a family...but he wasn't sure he knew how to be part of one.
“If you’re worried about Mr. Daines, you needn’t be. I can assure you he’s amenable.”
“A-mean…” Billy frowned in confusion. That was a word she hadn’t given him yet.
“He’s agreed...and I hope you’ll agree." She twisted her fingers together. "It would be best Christmas present I ever received.”
This seemed too good to be real, like a dream that would dissolve when he woke up. Before doubt and fear got the jump on him, he nodded.
“Oh, Billy, I’m so glad…” Her reply came out on a rushed breath. She put her arms around him and gave him a big hug.
Slowly, he returned her embrace. At first it felt awkward, but after a moment the strangeness faded and a warm, happy feeling surrounded and filled him up. She stroked his hair with a motherly gesture Billy had seen countless women use with their sons. Tears stung behind his eyelids. He blinked hard. Twelve-year-old boys didn't cry like babies.
As she drew back still holding his arms, she gave him an honest-to-goodness genuine smile. “Merry Christmas...son."
Billy swallowed, and at last his throat cleared. “Merry Christmas... Ma"
Ma, that was a good word. The best. He took a deep breath and caught another whiff of that heavenly smell. Didn't mothers bake treats for their boys? The biggest grin spread across his face. "Reckon we ought to celebrate with a piece of that pie?”
2 c. sifted flour, 1 tsp salt. Cut in 2/3 cu + 2 Tbsp shortening
Bake 400, 30 to 40 minutes.
Now, on to the presents...
I'm delighted to report our stocking is full. Many thanks to everyone who contributed!
From Kaki Warner: a paperback of her novel Where the Horses Run (second book in the Heartbreak Creek series) and an eBook of her Christmas novella, Miracle in New Hope.
From Becky Lower: an eBook of her first in the Cotillion Ball series, The Reluctant Debutanteand her latest The Duplicitous Debutante.
From Sylvia McDaniel: the eBook Deadly from her series Lipstick and Lead
From Jill Marie Landis: three eBooks of her classic romances, Sunflower, After All and Daydreamer
From Rebecca Hagan Lee: three eBooks of The Counterfeit Bride, the latest in her Borrowed Brides series.
From E.E. Burke: a complete eBook set of the series Steam! Romance and Rails, including Passion's Prize, Her Bodyguard and A Dangerous Passion.
For a chance to win, just leave a comment and enter the raffle. We'll announce winners on January 2.
What was your best Christmas present ever?