Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Heather McCollum | Exclusive Excerpt: THE HIGHLANDER’S PIRATE LASS
Author Guest / August 18, 2021

Beck watched the heavily gunned galleon sweep around the small isle, the wind filling its sails. After six months of patrolling the waters off the west coast of Scotland, Beck wouldn’t let this chance of capturing the most notorious French pirate slip past him. If the bastard outgunned them, he would use some intimidation to slow him down until Cullen could attack the Borreau from the other side. “Gavin,” he yelled, “are the men ready?” Gavin’s mouth dropped open, frozen, as he gazed past Beck. Beck pivoted on his boot in time to see… Eliza? The woman wore sailor’s clothing. No petticoats, but the breeches that she’d worn under her skirts. Tall boots hugged her shapely legs up past her knees. She wore a longish coat of wool and leather with an intricate braid trim, a white tunic, and a floppy hat over her hair. A crossbow swung by her side. She charged across the deck, Alice, who was also dressed in trousers, hurrying behind her with a lantern. “Holy Lord,” Rabbie said next to him. “Beck,” Drostan yelled, pointing at Eliza. As if he hadn’t seen her. Half his men had stopped to stare at the lass as she…

Roxanne Veletzos | Exclusive Excerpt: WHEN THE SUMMER WAS OURS
Author Guest / August 18, 2021

Three, four days in a row, Aleandro had been drawing the girl in the square. At times, it felt somehow wrong, as if he were stealing something from her, but what harm was there in it? It was the only hour in his long day when he felt unburdened, free. There were no demands of him here in the cool shade of the church, no brothers to feed, no fiddle to play, no one to answer to. It was only him and his charcoals and this face, this Botticelli face that inspired his hands to move as never before. When he first set his eyes on her all of five days ago, she stopped him in his tracks. She was beautiful, there was no denying it, but he’d seen plenty of beautiful women before. Unlike girls of her age, there was no flirtatiousness in her walk—she walked straight and powerfully, with purpose, a bit like a man—even though everything about her was feminine, the honey-blond tresses reaching down to her waist, the small feet inside the red sandals, the slender calves. At the café, she sat at a table under the geranium balcony and took off her sunglasses, and her…

Julia Justiss | History ReFreshed: The Extraordinary Far East
Author Guest / August 18, 2021

As lazy late summer beckons toward fall, we turn to stories about extraordinary women from the Far East, the circumstances, and actual characters of several based on real events. Beginning chronologically, John J. Healey’s THE SAMURAI’S DAUGHTER presents the unusual tale of a little-known episode in history.  In 1614, Japan sent a delegation to Spain to establish trade and cultural relationships with King Phillip III.  One member, samurai Shiro, became a popular figure at court and won the heart of a noble Spanish lady.  The story is narrated by their daughter, Soledad Maria, called Masako by her father, who is raised as both a samurai and a European.  After her mother’s death, Masako’s father decides to return them to Japan, sending them on a peril-filled journey halfway across the world.  Once back in Japan, they face new dangers from enemies at home.  Throughout this transition, Masako must decide who she really is—Spanish lady or samurai nobility.  Full of detailed descriptions of the customs and privileges of upper-class Europeans and Japanese at the time, Healey’s story illuminates Masako’s struggle between personal desires and family duty. Autumn Bardot’s DRAGON LADY brings us a fictionalized account of an amazing real-life woman in 18th…