Leslee Breene, award-winning author of novel and short fiction, takes pride in being a Denver native. She lives beneath the Colorado Rockies with her husband and, hopefully soon, a beloved rescue canine.
Her newest release, JOURNEY TO SAND CASTLE (June 2013), is a contemporary inspirational romance set in the San Luis Valley next to the Sangre de Cristo mountains. "Leslee Breene confronts conflict, resistance, and prejudice...in a well-written story of love and redemption." Heidi M.Thomas, WILLA Literary Award
STARLIGHT RESCUE, (2011- Treble Heart Books) a western romance, is available in soft cover through www.lesleebreene.com and Amazon.com, and is set beneath the Wyoming Big Horn Mountains on an animal rescue ranch. It received an RWA PASIC Book of Your Heart Award in the contemporary, single-title category.
HEARTS ON THE WIND (2008 - Five Star), a Denver bestselling historical romance, received an “A” review in the Rocky Mountain News.
Ms. Breene’s short fiction has been published in various magazines, won national awards, and was a finalist in the 2009, 2011 and 2012 Women Writing the West LAURA (Ingalls Wilder) Award Competitions. http://womenwritingthewest.org/laurajournal.html.
Ms. Breene attended the University of Denver, received a Denver Fashion Group Scholarship, and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City. For several years, she worked as a newspaper fashion illustrator in San Francisco.
She is an active member of RWA, Colorado Romance Writers, and Women Writing the West and is available for Denver/suburban area library and group speaking engagements. She welcomes visitors at her website: www.lesleebreene.com and www.facebook.com/pages/Leslee-Breene/
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Tess Cameron, a divorced teacher, becomes the unwitting guardian of a bi-racial orphan. She is compelled to take the little girl to the Colorado San Luis Valley to meet her grandfather, the only family the child has left. Estranged from her missing mother and bitter over their long separation, he is unaware of his granddaughter’s existence and doesn’t want her.
Grant Wilder, a widowed outfitter, offers Tess temporary employment on his ranch. But can Tess’s wandering spirit find the faith to accept permanent responsibility of the child? Can she open her heart to love again in this land of amazing beauty and haunting secrets?
Aftermath of Katrina- September 2005
Tess Cameron looked for Winona, searching the haggard faces of women with children. Dark, shoulder-length hair, medium height, holding a year-old toddler. Two boys and a girl. So many mothers, so many children. No match.
Buses waited in the high school parking lot. People boarding. Which one would Winona be on? Wouldn’t she have tried to seek out Tess before she left? No. Not enough time.
If I just had a cup of coffee. Some orange juice.
Out of breath, she stopped and leaned against a wall near the entrance. Sweat dampened her brow and upper lip. Absently she swiped at her forehead, pulled fingers through her short, dark, oily hair. Her reflection in the large side window scared her. An eerie phantom stared back into her eyes.
Other evacuees milled around in haphazard groups. Maybe Winona hadn’t left yet. Maybe more buses would arrive later for Houston.
Impulsively Tess swerved back into the gym. It seemed important that she at least say goodbye to Winona and her clan. They had bonded during these last days, sharing the conversations of women, even though their lives were totally dissimilar.
She made her way to the rear side wall where the Binghams had stayed. Her hopes fell when she saw their empty cots. Then rose when she caught sight of little Crystal sitting with her legs dangling over the far cot. But as she came closer, her gut told her something wasn’t right.
The child was sobbing, heart-wrenching sobs that shook her body and wrenched Tess’s heart.
“Crystal.” Tess sat down next to her. “Where’s Winona?”
The child shook her head, misery etched on her tear-stained face. “Don’t know....”
Bewildered, Tess slipped one arm around her then glanced down at a folded piece of paper pinned to Crystal’s blue T-shirt. “Here, let me see this.” She removed the pin and unfolded the paper. Out fell a billfold-size photo of Crystal and Carrie, and a ten dollar bill. Hastily she read the scrawled note, her vision blurring, a hot ember burning in her chest.
Sorry—we can’t afford to keep Crystal with us.
She likes you. She is a good little girl.
Call her grandpa in Sand Castle, Co. He’s her only living kin. Jud Pearl – c/o Jud’s Tobacco Shop.
God bless you, Winona
Tess gaped at the note then at the orphaned child next to her. Left behind like a stray puppy—with little more than the dirty clothes on her back.
We can’t afford to keep Crystal with us.
Crystal looked up at her, tears glistening in her wide topaz eyes, and hiccupped. “Where’s my mommy?”
The earth careened on its axis, out of control. A tightness gathered in Tess’s throat. How in the world could she tell this sweet child that her mommy was gone, lost in the flood?
Tess took a shaky breath, tears welling in her own eyes. Holding Crystal close, she said, “I don’t know, honey. But I do know she loves you...” Her voice cracked. “Very much.”
“I want her. I want my mommy.”
Tess gently wiped the child’s face and running nose with the corner of a blanket, looked into eyes of innocence and trust. Stunned at her sudden dilemma, she reflected on her previous wandering past. She had only been responsible for herself then. Conflicting emotions tumbled through her mind.
Did she have a choice? Really?
Tess wrapped her arms around Crystal’s small shoulders. Whatever troubles awaited her, she could not abandon this little soul.
For now, all they had was each other.
Journey to Sand Castle is available at Amazon.com
Well Friends, hope you've enjoyed this Tuesday Treasure. Next week's will be something of a personal nature. Until then, take care, God Bless and stay tuned for another Thursday Thoughts and Saturday Spotlight!