A former newspaper reporter, Sharon (Thetford) Ervin has a B.A. in Journalism from OU, lives in McAlester, Oklahoma, is married, and has four grown children. She is the author of ten published novels: NIGHTINGALE, 2013; AFTERMATH, 2010; CANDLESTICKS, 2010; MURDER ABOARD THE CHOCTAW GAMBLER, 2008; THE RIBBON MURDERS, 2006; CHIK-LIT FOR FOXY HENS, 2006; WEEKEND WIFE, 2005; COUNTERFEIT COWBOY, 2005; BODACIOUS, 2002, and JUSU AND MOTHER EARTH, 2000.
Find out more about Sharon and her books by visiting her website and/or blog!
NIGHTINGALE begins as Jessica Blair, 18, rescues a runaway stallion in a remote area of Great Britain in May, 1840. A scullery maid, Jessica is the well-educated daughter of a deceased professor, and is sole support of her ailing, widowed mother. Ignorant of the danger in handling an overwrought stallion, Jessica calms the runaway, then backtracks to find the animal’s missing rider. She locates Devlin Miracle, 29, the arrogant Twelfth Duke of Fornay, cowering in the underbrush beside the road waiting for daylight. But for this nobleman, there will be no daylight. Injuries, inflicted by highwaymen, have left him blind.
Excerpt: A horse exploded out of the night, hurtling toward her, a huge, black beast, his rounded eyes glistening, steam hissing from red, flaring nostrils. She flailed her arms and yelled. “Halt!”
The rider did not slow. He must be a stupid oaf to propel himself and his mount over such a poorly marked course. Still, she did not want the man to die of his stupidity and certainly could not allow such a ghastly end to his horse.
Fanning her skirts to gain attention, she screamed, “Halt! In the name of the Queen!” It was the only command she thought might bring the intemperate soul to his senses. She braced, prepared to jump to either side to avoid being trampled.
The first horse was almost on top of her when he suddenly planted his front feet, sat back on his haunches and skidded. Just before impact, he reared straight up. His hooves fanned the air over her head. Jessica threw her arms up as a shield and leaped to her left, squeezing her eyes closed.
An instant later, when there was no contact, she opened one eye to find the horse’s front hooves still high above her head, striking one another and producing sparks which resembled a bevy of fireflies.
“Whoa,” she shouted.
With snorting that sounded like a groan, the animal dropped his forefeet to the ground. His massive body quivered as he danced sideways. His eyes rolled and his sides heaved as horse and woman stood facing one another.
In her eighteen years, Jessica had never been that close to a horse and this one seemed particularly large and noisy, snorting and wheezing in turn.
“There, there, love,” she crooned, certain she was more frightened than the animal. “It is only I, Sweetness, Jessica Blair.” She resisted the impulse to look anywhere but into the horse’s bulbous eyes. “Welcome to you and your intemperate master to my humble hatches.” She smirked at the purposeful insult directed at the unseen rider.
When the rider didn’t respond, she glanced up and leaned around only to find the saddle empty.
The destrier threw his head high and pranced in place. Metal clanked against metal, the noise she had identified before she had been able to see him.
“Where is your master, love?” She regarded him closely. “Is he lying in the road somewhere injured? He’s not dead, is he, Sweetness?”
Eying her wildly, the horse lifted his nose then lowered it in a series of nods.
Jessica swallowed and eased closer. Raising an uncertain hand, she started to touch him, and then stopped. She wanted to quiet the magnificent animal, and he did seem to be calming.
“My, but you are huge,” she whispered. His restless movements stopped and his ears flicked forward. “Your color is like midnight and you have a look of enchantment, all spirit and size and muscle.”
Well sounds like a great story to me! I hope you enjoyed this Tuesday Treasure. Stay tuned for more as well as Thursday Thoughts & Saturday Spotlight!