A Thanksgiving Excerpt from The Journey

For your holiday reading pleasure I’m presenting a snippet from my contemporary romance novel, The Journey as Cassie and Jeremy’s Thanksgiving celebration takes an unexpected, and frightening, turn.  

Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Marina Martindale

***

“Happy Thanksgiving, Jerry,” said David as he stepped inside. “I’ll bet you’re glad to finally be home.”

“You got that right. I think I’ve finally got my life back on track now.”

David presented Jeremy with a bottle of white wine. “I brought a little something to go with dinner, and I have some ginger ale for Cassie.”

They went into the kitchen where Cassie greeted David with a hug while Jeremy put the bottles in the refrigerator. She then excused herself, saying she needed to change, while the two men headed into the living room to watch football. As Cassie headed back toward the kitchen doorbell rang again. Ian and Gillian had arrived. Ian joined the men in the living room, while Gillian followed Cassie into the kitchen.

“That sweater looks gorgeous on you,” said Gillian as she put her bowl of fruit salad into the refrigerator.

“Thanks,” said Cassie. “It’s nice and cozy too.”

“Can I help you with anything?”

“Thanks, Gillian, but I think I’ve just about got it. Everything should be ready in another couple hours or so. I’ve got some snack trays in the fridge that I need to get out, but first, can I fix you anything to drink?”

“Just a soda, thanks.”

As Cassie reached into the cupboard for a glass, she suddenly stopped and placed both hands on her belly, crying out in pain.

“Oh my god!” Gillian rushed up to her, trying to hold onto her as she doubled over. “Cassie, what’s wrong?”

Cassie took a deep breath. “I don’t know. All of a sudden, I felt a really sharp pain.”

Jeremy burst in. Ian and David were on his heels.

“What happened?”

Gillian helped Cassie back up. Both women had horrified looks on their faces.

“I just had a contraction,” said Cassie, “but it’s way too soon.”

David stepped forward and scooped her into his arms. “We need to get her to the emergency room. Now.”

Jeremy stayed behind him as they rushed out the front door. Gillian quickly turned off the stove and oven before hurrying to join the others.

“We’ll take her in the minivan,” said Ian. “The hospital is only a few minutes away.”

Jeremy helped David load her in the van as Ian hopped into the driver’s seat and fired up the engine. A minute later they were on their way.

“Is everything okay back there?”

“So far, we’re good, Dad. She hasn’t had another one.”

Jeremy had his arms wrapped tightly around Cassie. Her head leaned into his chest. He stroked the side of her face and looked at David, who saw the fear in his eyes.

“Hang in there, Jerry. It’s probably false labor. They’ll give her something to stop the contractions. She’ll be fine.”

Cassie fought to keep her composure. “What about my baby?” 

David patted her arm. “I’m sure he’ll be okay. Just try to stay calm.”

They remained silent for the rest of the drive. Thankfully, the holiday traffic was lighter than normal, and they arrived at the hospital within minutes. Ian pulled up to the emergency entrance and waited as two younger men helped Cassie out of the minivan. This time Jeremy picked her up and carried her inside while David ran up to the admissions desk. A minute later a nurse arrived with a wheelchair and whisked Cassie away. A badly shaken Jeremy took a seat in the waiting room while a clerk brought him the usual paperwork. David sat down next to him.

“She’s in good hands. She’ll be all right.”

“But what about the baby, David?”

“I don’t know, but I don’t see any reason for us to think the worst right now.”

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A Thanksgiving Excerpt from The Reunion

A sample read from my contemporary romance novel, The Reunion. 

Cassie and Jeremy hit it off over Thanksgiving dinner. Afterwards they step outside for a walk, and Samantha decides to have a serious talk with Gillian. Before long the two women make a surprising wager.

***

Samantha smiled to herself. It was looking more and more like Jeremy would become a good friend to Cassie. After dessert, Cassie suggested that he take a walk with her to work off some of their dinner.

“Good idea,” he said. “Would you two ladies care to join us?”

“Not me, thanks,” said Gillian.

“Me neither,” said Samantha. “We don’t get to hang out together very often. You kids go and take your time.”

Jeremy and Cassie quickly grabbed their coats. They were discussing the apartment in Colorado Springs as they went out the door.

“They seem to have taken a liking to one another,” said Gillian once the front door closed behind them.

“Yes, they have. Gillian, can I ask you something?”

“Of course.”

Samantha’s voice had a serious tone. “Exactly what is the nature of your relationship with him?”

Gillian grabbed the wine bottle and refilled their glasses. “Let’s go have a seat in the living room.” They picked up their wine glasses and Samantha followed Gillian to the sofa where they made themselves comfortable.

“Jeremy is a very special friend,” said Gillian. “We got off to a bit of a rough start, but then it worked out. I truly believed he’d be my stepson someday, but then Ian threw the brakes on that.”

“Gillian, if this is none of my business just say so, but is there anything more to it than just a friendship?”

Gillian hesitated for a moment. “You mean, have I ever slept with him?”

“Yes.”

“Good heavens no. I’ll admit that first night we were together in Las Vegas, I had a moment, and I mean a very brief moment, of temporary insanity while we were out on the dance floor. He’s a good dancer, I’d had a glass of wine, and I sure thought about it, but nothing happened between us that night, or any other night for that matter. Later on, when I thought about it again, I realized I’d wanted to turn him into another Ian, and I could never use Jeremy like that. He saved my life, Sam. Whoever he eventually ends up with will have to understand that he and I will always have a very special relationship. It’s not romantic, but we share a very special bond. One that will last for both of us for the rest of our lives. So please, don’t worry about your daughter. I’m not going to be jealous of her. In fact, I think they’re a good match.”

Samantha sighed in silent relief and gave her friend a knowing smile. “Gillian, do you have a hundred dollars?”

“Of course I do. Why?”

“Because a hundred dollars says that come next Thanksgiving, Jeremy really will be your stepson.”

“Oh, come on, Sam,” said Gillian with a laugh. “I can’t take your money like that. I’m not taking Ian back. No way, no how.”

“Of course not. You’ll just go out and have yourself tattooed in his honor.” Both women burst out laughing, and then Samantha turned serious once again. “Quit kidding yourself, Gillian. You’re going to take him back, and you know it.”

“Am not.”

“Fine. Then I’ll lose the hundred bucks. It’ll be the easiest money you ever made.”

Gillian gave her friend a smile. “All right then. One hundred dollars says I won’t be married to Ian Palmer a year from now.”

“You’re on.” The two women shook hands on their bet and Samantha grinned once more. “Just be prepared to pay up.”

 

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In Search of St. Eligius Ranch

© 2020 by Gayle Martin. All Rights Reserved.

I first visited Steamboat Springs in the 1990s. Famous for its ski resort, ranching is still a vital part of the area. So, when I wrote my first contemporary romance novel, The Reunion, I decided to locate the fictitious St. Eligius Ranch about twenty miles from Steamboat Springs. St. Eligius Ranch is a former cattle ranch turned horse sanctuary. It’s also the home of Laura Palmer, ex-wife of leading man Ian Palmer. A number of key scenes in The Reunion take place at St. Eligius Ranch, including the story’s final climax. Later on, when I wrote The Journey, I also set a number of scenes at St. Eligius Ranch.

I revisited Steamboat Springs in the summer of 2014, this time to research the area for future novels. I also brought my camera with me, and, as luck would have it, I found something that kinda sorta matches the description of St. Eligius Ranch. Of course I kept a respectful distance and took the photo from the side of road, but you can clearly see a two-story house, as described in the book, along with what appears to be a fifth-wheel trailer parked nearby, as was also described in The Reunion. Maybe life really does imitate art.

By the way, photography, like writing, is one of my life’s passions, and I do art photography under the name Gayle Martin. If you would like to see more of my work please visit my website at gaylemartinphotography.com/.

In the meantime, please enjoy this scene from The Reunion, as Gillian, the leading lady, visits St. Eligius for the first time.


Marina Martindale

* * *


Laura took Gillian to one of the small corrals outside the barn and pointed out a black mare with a white blaze down her face and three white socks.

“We call her Miss Mollie,” said Laura. “She’s got a lot of stamina, but she’ll respect her rider, as long as you know what you’re doing, and it sounds like you do.”

Jeremy came up behind them. “Miss Mollie? Good choice.”

Laura pointed to a large bay gelding in the next corral. “We call him Pretty Boy. He’s Jeremy’s favorite.”

Before long the horses were saddled, and they mounted up. Will stayed behind, saying he had work to do. Laura rode a young buckskin gelding she called Fred.

“He’s Miss Mollie’s son,” she said. “He was a young foal at her side when we adopted them two years ago. I think he’ll turn out to be a fine horse, but he still has some rough edges to work out.”

Laura led them away from the barn and onto a narrow trail leading through a lush meadow. Gillian couldn’t get over the sheer beauty of it. The aspen and cottonwood trees were turning gold.

“When I first came here, I was an ex-housewife who didn’t know one end of a horse from the other,” said Laura. “I was originally hired as a bookkeeper for Will’s veterinary practice. Next thing I knew, I was writing grants, planning fund-raisers, and doing everything else I could think of to keep money flowing in the door for the foundation to help care for these animals. Back then I was living in the cottage, that’s what we call the fifth-wheel trailer, and I soon became friends with Will. He taught me, and both of my boys, how to ride. He also taught me how to help take care of the horses. Along the way I’ve been kicked, bitten, and occasionally stepped on, but I’ve learned to cope with it. Horses are easy. Two sons aren’t.”

“Thanks, Mom,” said Jeremy.

“Anytime,” she said with a knowing grin. “Some of the ones we get are simply neglected or have owners who, for whatever reason, are no longer able to care for them. Those are the easy cases, and we can usually get them to new owners right away. Others arrive abandoned, injured or starving. They need some TLC, and we’re often pretty successful with them as well. We also get the occasional hard-luck cases. They’re the ones who have suffered some serious abuse, and it never ceases to amaze me just how cruel some human beings can be. They usually need complete rehabilitation, but we’re not always successful. There’ve also been a few that we’ve had to put down as soon as they arrived. Those are the ones that really break your heart.” 

They continued across the meadow and began working their way toward the ridge as Laura went on with her story. “This ranch used to be called The Flying M, and it’s been in Will’s family for over a century. When Will’s father inherited it from his great-uncle, it was still a working cattle ranch. Will’s dad was also a veterinarian. He started up the veterinary clinic, and he started taking in injured and abandoned horses. By the time Will finished veterinary school, they decided to stop raising cattle and add a horse sanctuary to the clinic. They sold about half the acreage, and the name, to the big dude ranch resort next door. Will renamed the place St. Eligius. He’s the patron saint of horses and those who work with them. That pretty much sums it up. The foundation survives mostly on grant money and donor support. We also do a number of fundraisers throughout the year. One is coming up soon. It’s the haunted hayride we do every year with the Flying M. It’s the last Saturday in October and we always have a lot of fun while we’re at it. We have volunteers of all ages who come and participate, and the boys always come to help out as well.”

To read other samples from The Reunion, please click on the link below.

Preview on Amazon

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A Sneak Preview of my Next Novel The Scandal

A book cover will and illustration of a woman with two men behind her.
Cover Illustration by Wes Lowe

The next Marina Martindale contemporary romance novel, The Scandal is back from the editor and we are in the process of proofreading. The Scandal will be available this fall. In the meantime, here is a sneak preview. Enjoy.

Marina Martindale

The Scandal Sample Chapter

Lauren McAllen wrapped her hands around the steering wheel and held on tight. Raindrops splattered the windshield while the wipers furiously knocked them away.

“You may think you’re getting him back, Ashely,” she hissed through clenched teeth, “but trust me, it’ll never happen because he’s all mine now.” A defiant smiled broke out across her face, but it instantly turned into a look of sheer panic and terror as she frantically yanked the steering wheel back and forth. Unable to regain control of the car, she threw her arms across her face and braced herself for impact.

“Cut!” shouted a man’s voice. “And that’s a wrap.”

As Lauren relaxed, she turned her head and smiled. “So, we got it?”

“Perfectly,” he replied, “but if you wouldn’t mind waiting here, the director would like to speak with you for a moment.”

Read More

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An Easter Chapter from “The Letter”

I like to include major holidays in my contemporary romance novels. In The Letter, lead character Stephanie spends a bittersweet Easter with her new boss and his husband while Danny finally realizes the time has come for him to make some changes.

Marina Martindale

An Easter excerpt from, The Letter

By the time Easter arrived the winter snow had melted away and the trees were starting to bloom. Stephanie pulled up in front of a large, single-story house with a huge cottonwood tree in the front yard. She shut down the engine and grabbed her bottle of wine. Walking up to the front door, she heard a dog barking inside. A bald man with a dark brown goatee opened the door and greeted her with a smile.

“You must be Stephanie.”

To read more, please download the pdf file below.

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It’s Creepy All Year Long

The Stalker Book cover

I’ve had some nice reviews for my contemporary romance novel, The Stalker, on Author’s Den. The readers are pretty consistent with their comments about not being able to put the book down. The Stalker is probably my darkest story to date. It’s definitely high on the creep factor, making everyday seem like Halloween for lead character Rachel. After reading this excerpt, you may agree. Enjoy.

***

They headed out to the parking lot. After Alice drove away, Rachel turned her attention to Shane.”So, what’d you think?”

“I like her. She’s like you, in a lot of ways.”

“You think so? I always thought that because we’re really only half-sisters, we weren’t that much alike.”

“Well, in that case, you’re each other’s better half. Seriously, you two have a great relationship. I wish I could have been closer to my own sister, but there’s such a big difference in our ages. By the time I was old enough to get to know her, she’d gone off to California for college. After that she only came home for short visits.”

“It’s never too late, you know,” said Rachel. “Maybe you should call her sometime, just to say hello.”

“Well, maybe. We’ll see. Meantime, I’ll walk you to your car.”

Rachel was parked a few spaces away. She stepped up to the driver’s side door and reached into her purse for her keys.

To read more of this excerpt, please click on the link below.

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Remembering Dennis

A bouquet of flowers.
Photo by Marina Martindale

It’s been a difficult couple of weeks for me. One of my cousins, and one of my all time favorite people, passed away rather suddenly and unexpectedly.


A cousin by marriage, I’ve known Dennis since I was ten years old. To me, he was just as much family as his wife. Dennis had a great sense of humor. He always went the extra mile for others, never expecting anything in return. Dennis was also an attorney. And the inspiration for Alex Montoya, the leading man in my second novel, The Deception. In fact, I dedicated The Deception to Dennis.


Like Dennis, Alex was a hard working attorney. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to get justice for leading lady, Carrie. Of course, there are significant differences between the character and his the real-life inspiration. Alex was thirty-something and single. He’s not necessarily looking for love. That’s a prerequisite for a lead character in a romance novel. However, his real life counterpart married his college sweetheart at a young age. Each is a unique individual.


In honor of Dennis, I’m including this brief excerpt from The Deception. Like Alex, Dennis was dedicated to his clients.


MM


* * *

After they ended the call Alex picked up the message sitting on his desk. It was from Louise’s attorney, Jack Collins, who called while he was out. He dialed the number and was immediately connected.

“Thanks for returning my call,” said Collins. “I’ve received the letter you faxed me this morning and I’ve already spoken to my client about it.”

“So what does she have to say? Is she willing to work with us to find out who really sent the photos to Gentry Magazine?”

To read more, please click on the link below.

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The Letter is Now Available

A composite photo of the book cover in paperback, electronic tablet and phone.

My newest romance novel, The Letter, is now available on Amazon and on Barnes&Noble.com.


The Letter is the story of a man hounded by a former girlfriend. She’s unable to accept that their relationship has ended and she refuses to let go. While not as dark of a story as The Stalker, readers will enjoy its many twists as turns. The Letter is a tale of misunderstandings and miscommunications. It’s also about people who aren’t as they appear to be.

Please enjoy the sample chapter I’ve posted below.

MM

* * * 


Vanessa sighed in relief as she brushed a stray lock of short blonde hair away from her eyes and rang the doorbell. The door slowly opened, revealing a sullen looking Stephanie on the other side.

“Sorry I’m late.” Vanessa struggled to keep the frustration in her voice down. “I found the visitor’s parking lot, but the numbering system here is so bizarre. I’ve been all over the complex and back trying to find the right building.”

“It’s okay.” Stephanie motioned for her come inside, and as she crossed the threshold Vanessa took in her surroundings.

“Nice condo. I’d say Danny has good taste.”

“I suppose.”Vanessa’s brow furrowed. “Are you okay? You seem upset about something.”

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The Inspiration for THE STALKER

The Stalker book cover.

I get ideas for my novels from my own life events. Others come from other people’s stories. The inspiration for The Stalker has a little bit of both.


It started with a feud on my Facebook newsfeed. Two musicians, who had once worked together, had a falling out. They’d blocked each other on Facebook, but it didn’t stop the feud. One would post something about the other. Someone else would take a screenshot and send it to the other one. Then the mud-fest would begin. About the time it settled down the other one would start in. The cycle would then repeat itself. The rest of us got a ringside seat, whether we wanted it or not.

Of course, the writer in me saw this as a good premise for novel. I especially liked the idea of a former coworker, not a former lover, doing the stalking. (The former lover will be the premise for my next novel, The Letter.)


In The Stalker, antagonist Craig, stalks Rachel, a former coworker. Rachel had once considered Craig a mentor, but he turned on her after she got a promotion he felt she didn’t deserve. Like my other novels, The Stalker twists and turns as the story progresses. It takes you, the reader, on yet another roller coaster ride.


MM

An excerpt from The Stalker


Rachel waited until Shane was gone before turning her attention back to the deputy. His name tag identified him as Joseph Gonzalez.

“And so another wonderful evening gets ruined, thanks to Craig Walker.” She let out a disappointed sigh. “I first met Shane, the man who just left, back in high school, but I never really talked to him until tonight, and I could tell something wonderful was about to happen. Then you showed up.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am. I’m just doing my job.”

Please click on the link below to read the rest of the excerpt.

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The Stalker Book Cover

The Stalker Book Cover.

Once again my illustrator, Wes Lowe, hit it out of the ballpark. This is one of his best cover illustrations to date, and it’s getting rave reviews on Facebook as well. Yes, there is a reason why she’s barefoot, but you’ll have to read the novel to find out why.


The Stalker will be released this fall.

MM

An excerpt from The Stalker

Rachel Bennett turned onto a quiet side street and drove up a steep hill. Desert landscaping lined both sides of the roadway, and a sign with an arrow pointing to the right soon appeared. She pressed down on the brake pedal making a sharp turn onto another road. The hotel, with its three signature arches, stood at the top of the hill. Moments later she pulled underneath one of the archways, and as she rolled down her window, a muscular young man walked up to her car and greeted her with a warm smile.

Please click on the link below to read the rest of the chapter.

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