Friday, 21 September 2012

How good is your castle building, I wonder?

Hello! My friend Alyson Reuben, a fellow Wild Rose Press author, has come visiting today.

But...before she shares a little about her latest launch, CASTLES WE BUILD, she's got a fantastic little quiz for you to get your teeth into. 

And after the quiz keep reading on because Alyson has shared a wonderful excerpt with us! You'll not want to miss the last line...

Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me here today.  I’m super stoked to share an excerpt from my newest book, CASTLES WE BUILD.  But, first, I want to ask readers to play a little “let’s pretend” game.  

Pretend you come face to face with these scenarios, all of which Julia, heroine of CASTLES WE BUILD, meets with.  

There are no rules for this game.  You can pick more than one answer.  Julia certainly did!


1. You were married to the man of your dreams before he went to war and never returned.  Several years later, you find yourself remarried to a wealthy executive, living in a Floridian beach house with your two children (three, counting a stepdaughter).  Life is good.  Life is peaceful.  Suddenly, the man you thought was lost forever walks back into your life, claiming he still loves you.
a. Throw your arms around him joyfully, laughing and crying.
b. Run away to an island with him.  Who cares about everyone and everything else.
c. Tell him to bug off.  You have a new life now.
d. Bring him home to meet your new family.

2. Your current husband finds out that your first husband is alive and back in town.
a. Tell him the complete truth and hope he’ll understand.
b. Chew him out and demand a divorce.
b. Lie and tell him he’s mistaken.
c. Run and hide before all heck breaks loose.

3. The mother who abandoned you, leaving you to help raise your younger sister, suddenly wants to be a part of your life again. 
a. Welcome her with open arms.  After all, everyone makes mistakes.
b. Be open to possibly forgiving her, but not before demanding an explanation for why she did what she did.
c. Tell to “stick it where the sun don’t shine”.
d. Polish your gun.

4. Your stepdaughter is on a party binge.  She brings home a rowdy houseful of strangers to stay overnight.  A fight breaks out.  And one guest in particular has a surprise ace up his sleeve. 
a. Order your stepdaughter to send them all packing… or else.
b. Call the police and let them get rid of the weirdos.
c. Rage, rant, and stomp your feet, making a complete fool of yourself.  Who cares if you have a gawking audience?
c. Grab her by the head of the hair and drag her across the floor, embarrassing her in front of her friends.

5. You get a disturbing phone call.  Some identifiable lunatic is holding your kidnapped son for a ransom.
a. Beg the kidnapper to release him.  Maybe even criminal lunatics have soft hearts.
b. Sit down and cry.  After all, there’s nothing you can do.
c. Hire a detective, pay the ransom, and pray the kidnapper will do as he/she promised.
d. Arm yourself, and go after the dirty son of a b#@# yourself. 

How’d you do?  Okay, so I threw in some crazy answers that most of us would never pick.  Still, without experiencing these issues, can we really know what we’d do?  In CASTLE WE BUILD, Julia’s choices and decisions come at a steep price.  And I don’t mean just money, honey.  But you’ll have to read the book - and I hope you do! - to find out more.

Castles We Build’s blurb:
She has a chance to relive her past. But at what cost?
When Julia married the man of her dreams, Landon Sloane, neither of them could have predicted the destructive impact of The Great War. Finding herself a widow and single mother in a period ripe with women’s suffrage and the prohibition, Julia married wealthy industrialist Ford Hampton.
Now, ten years later, with a son attending an academy for the gifted, a daughter with special needs, and a flapper stepdaughter who tests her daily, Julia is hardly prepared for Landon’s return from his long foreign captivity to announce he has never stopped loving her.
Faced with unrequited love for Landon, her life truly begins to unravel with the intrusion of her mother, who abandoned her as a child, a devastating factory fire, and an alarming encounter with a tawdry bootlegger. Finally, when her son is kidnapped in a diabolical scheme of revenge, Julia knows she has to make a final decision that will forever change everyone and everything in her life.

Castles We Build can be found at Amazon (ebook Kindle version will be available later this week):

For those who've never met Alyson yet, here's a little about her.
Back in elementary and high school, Alyson was always in trouble for jotting stories in her notebooks when she should’ve been studying for math tests. Detentions and trips to the principal's office aside, she was determined to become an author someday, no matter the price.
Fast forward a few years — okay, actually several years — she began writing historical romance and women's fiction, leading to the debut of A BEAUTIFUL CAGE, published by the Wild Rose Press in 2011.
Now she gets in trouble for writing stories when she should be cooking dinner for her family.

There he is.  A man whose memory I desperately tried to lay to rest at his memorial site in Westbrook Cemetery. 
            Landon Sloane.
            For a few seconds, I wobble, my peripheral vision closing in.  I’m about to pass out….
            Suddenly, he grins.  And the grin does the same thing to me now that it did nine years ago, saving me from losing consciousness.  Saving me, period.
            He holds out his arms, and I rush into them, moaning as his mouth claims mine in a kiss that’s like a drowning man clutching a lifesaver. Pulling me inside and reaching behind me to slam the door shut, his hands grip at my clothes and my hair, tangling in them as if hoping to extract the essence of everything I am.
            Now he’s kissing my cheeks.  My forehead.  My chin.  The places behind my ears.  The hollow of my neck.  The skin above my lace collar.  My breasts through the voile fabric.  My legs as he pushes up the hem of my frock. 
            And I’m falling backward on a bed that seems to have appeared like magic.  Calling his name.  Over and over.  He answers me with a voice tinted by a slight brogue, as familiar as the sound of leaves rustling in the wind.  Yes.  Yes, he’s really Landon Sloane.  Alive.  Very alive.  And my name is also on his lips, coming out in hoarse whispers, pressed against my skin, branding me with what’s always been there, never disappearing completely, but only lying dormant — my love for him.
            Rising above me, his body comes down over mine in the ancient way that has coupled countless lovers.  In the same way that summoned us in the past with pleasure and intoxication.  I grip him, pulling him closer, needing him to complete what’s lacking.  To satiate me with his heat and energy….
            A little girl’s cry floats through the room. 
            Gracie!  Just that suddenly, I push Landon back, forcing his flushed face away from mine.  No, I’m not thinking clearly.  That wasn’t a girl’s voice.  Just a bird outside the open window.  One that has a trill similar to a child’s outburst.
            For several seconds Landon and I stare at each other, saying nothing.  He looks the same.  Yet, different in several ways.  Slimmer…a little too slim.  A leathery tan that makes his eyes brighter, as potent as midnight’s navy sky in a flash of lightning.
            I’m lying here half naked.  With a husband I thought would never return from the war he left to fight nine years ago.  And the question hits me like a rock to the stomach.  “Why, Landon?  Why didn’t you come home?  Where have you been?”
            He visibly swallows, his face glistening with perspiration and what might very well be tears.  “My ship sank off the coast of South Africa.  Most of the men didn’t….  Anyway, me and my lieutenant were rescued by natives.  They had bartering friends who traded with them.  Local radicals who supported the enemy forces.  I think a few of them even had direct ties with Germany.”
            His voice has deepened, grown huskier with age.  I try to concentrate on his words, needing desperately to understand.  To make sense of this unexpected phenomenon: the miracle of his rise from the dead. 
            “So me and the lieutenant were arrested and held in an encampment.  Seventeen straw huts surrounded by a high fence.  Guards with guns and long pikes.  Shared it with criminals and other detainees.  We didn’t even know when the war was over.  Guess they liked having free laborers too much to set us free.  Or maybe they just liked trapping us like mice in a maze.”  His voice is hard now.  Gritty.  Full of hatred and anger.  In a tone I don’t recognize. 
            “They finally released us last month.  Because of some new political uprising, I think.  I don’t know exactly who or what…. I only care that I’m free.  Back where I can see you.  Hold you.  And…oh, God, if I can just get all this filth out of my head.”  He sits up beside me, gripping the sides of his head.
            The hair at his temples is peppered with silver.
            It used to be completely dark, the color of coffee with no creamer. 
            Like Brent’s.
            I reach for him, pulling him to me.  Prison.  For almost a decade.  What a nightmare that must’ve been.  The hurt is palpable, transferring between us.  “It’s over, darling,” I whisper near his ear.  “And I’m so glad you’re back, safe and sound.  Alive.”
            He folds his arms around me so that we’re huddled in a ball.  And we stay that way.  Unmoving.  Quiet.  For a very long time.
            His heavy breathing steadies to a hoarse snore; the sound of a man who hasn’t had good, clean rest for a long time.  He shifts, spreading out his arms in unconscious freedom.  And I release him, sitting up gently in order not to wake him. 
            The bedroom is mostly bare.  A utilitarian iron bed.  A dresser.  A shabby club chair.  But nothing else.  I stare at the open window where the cage hangs, dangling slightly in the breeze.  There are no finches in it.  Or any other birds.  The door is hanging open, facing the outside.
            He won’t cage anything again.
            I push my tousled hair from my face, combing both hands through the chin-length strands.
            None of this is the way it should be. 
            It’s all messed up somehow.
            Ford’s face enters my mind.  Just the way he looked last night, smiling at me from the dinner table.
            Oh, God.
            I’m married to someone else.
            And I have a family.
            Two men. 
            Two husbands.

Now that is a fabulous excerpt, Alyson. Thank you for coming along and sharing it with us, today. I wish you the very best for a fantastic launch for CASTLES WE BUILD


  1. Glad to be here today, Nancy! Thanks again for hosting me.

    When I was thinking about what I'd post, a fun quiz seemed like the perfect way to introduce the story. I hope all your guests and readers enjoy it.

  2. Hi Alyson. I'm so pleased you've come visiting with such an interesting post! I'll check back later...but have a good day.

  3. Interesting quiz, Alyson - your questions certainly got me thinking! Loved your excerpt too. What a dilemma for Julia!

  4. Glad you liked it, Paula! Yes, I'm afraid Julia has some sticky difficulties to cope with. But that's what made it exciting and interesting for me to write. Hopefully, that's what will make it just as exciting for everyone to read!.

    Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Thank you for visiting, Alyson. Apologies for not being around all day but best wishes with the sales of Castles We Build.

  6. No need to apologize, Nancy! Life happens, and I've certainly been busy as well. Thank you for inviting me to your blog!


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