Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Unrequited Love at Long Last - Land of Falling Stars #MFRWSteam

Land of Falling Stars - A Civil War Suspense Romance


About the book:

The United States is torn asunder by Civil War.

Two men, linked together by their love for one woman, Sophia Whitfield, answer the call of duty.

A marriage to Jesse James Grantham has been arranged since Sophia and Jesse were children. When he leaves to fight for his beloved South, Jesse promises Sophia they'll whip those Johnny Rebs in no time and when he returns, they'll get married under her mother's rose arbor.

Sophia's best friend from childhood, Gavin Langdale, enlists to fight for the North. Why does her heart shatter into a million pieces when Gavin says goodbye? She loves Jesse…doesn't she?

After Sophia's parents die in a fire, she struggles to save Arbor Rose. Most of the slaves have run off, the South is in tatters and so is the only home she's ever known. Another blue coat is staggering down the hill, coming to steal the last of her meager possessions. Before the hated enemy has a chance to commit the vilest of acts, she shoots him. And then discovers its Gavin, the champion of her youth.

Dark secrets lurk in Gavin's memory, secrets much darker than the despicable acts of war. He carries a message for Sophia, a missive from Jesse. When he finds the courage to tell her what really happened to Jesse on that bloody battlefield, she'll hate him—hate him until she draws her last breath.

A powerful story of lies, betrayal and a love that burns brighter than all the stars in Heaven.


EXCERPT
Gavin stopped wrestling with the rickety gate and allowed his gaze to wander to Sophia strolling across the field. A long skein of her hair, coiled over one shoulder, swayed against her breasts in perfect tempo with the roll of her seductive hips.
 
Two weeks had passed since he'd dragged his sorry ass from the invalid bed, and he still hadn't told her about Jesse. He meant to once lucidity returned, but his intentions vanished the moment she turned those dark green eyes on him and pleaded with him to stay. Countless times the words hung on the tip of his tongue, but he had only to look at her, the dark-lashed eyes, the full, pink lips, the freckles across the bridge of her nose, and all logic left him. He shouldn't have come back, should have gone to his people in Massachusetts and be damned with telling the truth, telling her how Jesse really died.

Drawing his scrutiny to an end, and mindful of the tightening in his loins, he acknowledged it didn't stem from abstinence but rather this ravenous hunger he held for her. He'd bedded a bevy of camp followers in the last three years, women from all walks of life, but for every one he'd slaked his lust on, Sophia's lips met his, Sophia's creamy white thighs wrapped him in a cocoon of bliss.
 
Better men than he had been knocked low by her beauty. Hell, every man who looked at her left a piece of his soul behind. Beyond her loveliness resided an indomitable spirit, yet Sophia had always been a bundle of contradictions—fire and ice, a scorching temptress one minute, an icy bitch the next. And everything about her drew him like a hapless fly on the fringe of a giant spider web.
    
She stood before him with a checkered napkin in her small hands. He fought an elemental need to crush her against him, devour her mouth, if only to prove the paltry tingling she'd felt when Jesse kissed her paled next to how she would feel when he'd finished with her.
 
Glancing between him and Ricochet, she shook her head. "You've commandeered my dog, you know." 
"Dogs know when they're loved."

Ricochet wagged his tail as if to reward his
words.She took her eyes from the dog and studied his face. "You're still a little green around the gills."

He shrugged, took the napkin from her hands and peeked through the loose knot. "Am I going to discover a vat of goldenseal and saw palmetto hiding in here?"

"No," she replied with a laugh. "Rabbit, bread and berries."
 
He plucked his shirt from the fence post, slipped his long arms into the sleeves and, leaving it open in front, pointed to a gnarled oak a short distance away. "Join me?"

With a nod, she fell into step beside him. Sheltered beneath the tree's dense branches, a fair breeze fanned their cheeks. Gavin opened the napkin and offered her the first bite of rabbit.

She shook her head, and shook it again when he offered her a chunk of bread. "I've already eaten, but if you insist, I'll have a handful of raspberries."

"You always did love them."

"Still do." Nostalgia laced her tone. "Burnside's men trampled the bushes on their way through and few survived."

"I'm sorry."

"Oh well, surrendering one's love of berries pales next to surrendering those you love."

The perfect opportunity for Gavin to tell her Jesse was dead hung in the silent air between them, but before he could speak, she turned to him, her green eyes choking off his airway.  Christ, the enormity of it all. "Look, Arbor Rose is in worse shape than I thought. You said you received a letter from your aunt in Illinois."

Her face took on a serious countenance. "My mother's sister, Aunt Phoebe, what of it?"

"Would it be so bad if the bank took Arbor Rose and you took the train to Illinois?"

He knew she'd never consider it, but who did she think she was, remaining here with nothing but two old Negroes and a mangy dog to protect her? He couldn't stay, couldn't stand to be around her day after day, watching her from afar, stifling the overpowering urges to hold her, taste her, feel her thrashing beneath him.
 
She looked away. "I don't want to talk about it. The blue bellies are gone now and that's all that matters."

"It's not over, and if you still think the carriage turns into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight and there's a Cinderella out there, you're more gullible than I thought." Her eyes turned dark. He had to prepare her, tell her what loomed on the horizon. "What's more, when the war is over, your hated Yankees will take over the South and nothing will remain of the life you once knew."

"If you're trying to frighten me, Gavin, it won't work. I'm not going to Illinois or anywhere else."

"You stupid little fool, I'm telling you―" Ricochet bolted from his side and darted into the woods with a snarl. "Must have seen a critter." He cupped a hand over his brow. "Damn, that dog can run."

"They're known for speed." Sophia plucked a blade of grass from the ground. "And keen eyesight."
 
"Which brings me back to subject at hand. You need to open your eyes and walk away from Arbor Rose and all its problems."

"I've lost everything, my family, everything we owned, even," she stammered, "my-my dignity and no one's going to drive me from my childhood home."

He had his fill of trying to reason with her, wanted to shake her until that long mane of hair tumbled all about her. "Damn it, Sophia, the South is in ruins! Your parents and brother are dead, and you're not the only one who lost everything. There are things more precious than baubles, fancy manors, and land!"
 
She bristled. "Is that so, Gavin Langdale, what could be more precious than land?"

He grabbed her by the shoulders and yanked her to his chest. Around him, the ground swayed. She stared into his eyes, her gaze so hot and intense he lost pace with his breathing. His lips inches from her erotic mouth, he whispered, "Like your life."
 
His name fell from her lips and she clung to him like a child. That undid him. His mouth took hers, harsh and demanding and her lips parted. His tongue swept through the sweet depths, eliciting a whimper from the back of her throat. His heart raced and his cock sprang to life. Sophia was in his arms. Venus personified. The scent of wisteria, potent and intoxicating, filled his nostrils. He slid one hand up and cradled her head, forcing her deeper into the kiss. A moan left her lips and shattered whatever reserve he struggled to control. Trembling in his arms, she grasped the sides of his open shirt.
Gavin placed his hands on her shoulders and moved her down onto the soft grass. It was time she learned he wasn't Jesse, and the fairytale world she now lived in had changed drastically.
 
Christ, she was all tantalizing warmth. No, hot fire. He wanted his lips against her breasts, her belly, on her sex, but if he attempted to undress her and take her like a mad dog under an oak tree, he'd hate himself forever. He intended to give her a taste of what she hungered for, force her into coming to him of her own volition and admit to this stampeding passion between them.

He reached down, grabbed a handful of her cotton dress and shoved it up over her knees. Familiar with the pantalets women were fond of wearing, he untied them and rolled them down with one hand, cupping her breast through the fabric with his other. Beneath his hand, her nipple hardened and her breast grew heavy. She drew a sharp breath when his hand spread her legs apart and touched the soft mound of curls at the juncture of her sex. Instinctively, she drew her knees together.
 
"No," he said against her mouth.

To his surprise, and his delight, she opened her legs on a pained groan. Ah, his opening. He wasted little time in caressing the outer folds of her sex and the hard, little nub responding to his gentle touch. He slipped a finger inside, exploring and seeking with small, deliberate strokes. She arched her back into his hand and slipped her tongue into his mouth, matching every stroke of his finger inside her.  She strained beneath him, opening her legs wider on a contented sigh.
 
Gavin looked into her dazed eyes and realized she was carried beyond herself with pleasure and desire. He exulted in the way she looked at him. Sophia's body heat slithered around him, under him. The smell of her sex wafted through his nostrils and the black memory of Jesse's bloodless face faded. There was only Sophia, clinging to him, panting into his mouth.
 
Other than in his dreams, he'd never thought to partake of her exquisite body, feel the sweet inner core of her being. He increased the tempo of his finger. Her gasps became ragged, her sighs, broken. Hot moisture flooded his finger as she convulsed around it. She bore down on his hand and pulled him closer by wrapping her arms around him. He thrust harder and she no longer held back. Deep moans spewed from her throat and she rolled her head from side to side. Beneath his palm, her heart pounded like a drum and she undulated against his hand. Closer, tighter she squeezed his finger and whimpered his name. At last her body stiffened and she grasped at great clumps of grass and pulled them from the earth. Liquid drenched his fingers as she shuddered around him and cried out his name.

Mesmerized by her beauty, her flushed skin, the swollen cherry lips, and dark emerald green of her eyes, he watched warily as she came back to earth.  Long moments later, he withdrew his finger, tied her pantalets and pulled the dress back over her slender body.
 
"Oh, my God." She looked at him, said it again and then bounded to her feet on wobbly legs, much to his satisfaction.

He rose too.

With mouth agape, she stared at him. "Gavin, we must not do that again. We're friends, nothing more, and Jesse . . .."

When her voice trailed off, images of his best friend surfaced. His dead best friend. "God, you're beautiful," he said and meant every word.
 
Her eyes softened and she whispered his name again.

"No, don't say anything. I must tell you something." His mind reeled from her nearness and he found it difficult to speak. "It's about Jesse." He drew a deep breath. "Jesse is―"

A high-pitched yowl spewed from Ricochet's throat. Their heads turned in unison toward the hound. "Damn, he must have caught his foot in one of my traps."
She turned those almond-shaped eyes on him. "Traps? What traps?"

"Raccoon."

The dog bounded from the line of trees with his tail between his legs. As the dog closed the distance between them, a foul stench reached their nostrils. With a pained yelp, the hound took Gavin by surprise, came in low and knocked him off his feet.

Sophia shrieked and pinched her nostrils. "Sweet Mother of Jesus, he's been skunked!"

Gavin curled up into a fetal position as the dog smothered him. "Call him off me, Sophia!"
 
"No, I don't believe I will. He hasn't as much as wagged his tail at me since you came back." She picked up the linen napkin and scurried away. "Don't come into the house until you've gotten rid of the stench," she called out over her shoulder. "Man or beast!"

 * * * * *

Praise for Land of Falling Stars
“Land of Falling Stars lured me in immediately with its lyrical title and instantly captivated me with the haunting love story of Gavin and Sophia." ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

"The author pens a story that is unlike any other. The characters are introduced as childhood friends who become adults with very complicated life experiences to deal with. I loved all the sub-stories and the minor characters that were such an integral part of the author's vision. Land of Falling Stars makes you believe in the possibility of retribution and the hope of finding your brass ring in the last place you look." You Gotta Read Reviews 5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

"Keta Diablo has penned a beautiful and haunting love story full of passion, deception, danger and the epic War Between the States that will leave you breathless and longing for more! I loved this story from beginning to end! It’s a true page turner that you will hate to see end. Keta really has a knack for getting you beneath her characters skins. This is one of those rare books that you don’t want to miss!" 4.5 Amazon Reader ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

"A story that has the ups and downs of a roller coaster and keeps the reader hanging on with bated breath, Land of Falling Stars is captivating. The author has a great knack for weaving words together to bring a vivid picture to the reader's mind." Bookwenches, 4.5 Stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Thanks so much for stopping by! Don't forget to visit all the other wonderful Excerpts from the #MFRWSteam (blog hop)

 

8 comments:

Savanna Kougar said...

Oh, that was good, very good! The timely or untimely intervention of a skunked dog. Beautiful passionate scene, Keta.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Talk about an inconvenient interruption!

Very moving and sensual scene, Keta.

Sadira Stone said...

The interrupted love scene is de rigeur for romance, but I've never seen it done with a skunk! Well done!

Dee S Knight and Anne Krist said...

Wonderful emotion, and a great, tantalizing scene. I've just gone out to get the book, so job well done!

Adriana said...

saved by the -- skunk? Marvelous scene!

Jana Richards said...

I love the premise of this story! And the skunk! Well done, Keta.

Angela Drake said...

Wow, Keta! I have to read the whole thing. Amazing!

Caroline Clemmons said...

You're such a talented writer, Keta. I loved the excerpt and look forward to reading the entire book. The cover is gorgeous. Best wishes for a gazillion sales!