Welcome guest author Traci McDonald, introducing her latest non-explicit romantic suspense novel, Soul of Stone.
“A whirlwind romance mixed with epic fantasy elements and spine-tingling suspense and mystery." –Micah Persell, Author of the Middle of the Garden series
Danielle Lyndon, owner of a 200-year-old bookstore in Greenville, Alabama, has built a fortress of suspicion around her heart. A tragic fire has taken the lives of her beloved Grandmother and mother, leaving her with nothing but an ancient collection of magical books. Facing what seems like an eternity of loneliness and abandonment, her life is inexorably altered late one night when a runaway teenage girl breaks into her store and Danielle receives a mysterious text message…from her dead mother.
The only person who can help her is Aaron Donnell, a reckless, tormented drifter with haunting silver-blue eyes who is searching for the burglar, his younger sister. Aaron somehow holds the answers to the mysterious texts, but he’s arrogant, dangerous, and is clearly no good for her. The problem is . . . . she’s falling in love with him.
Consumed with Aaron’s mysterious darkness and the prospect of locating the source of the texts, Danielle allows him to unwittingly drag her into an insane, mystical world where human trafficking is the usual, black magic reigns supreme, and inhuman power lasts forever.
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Excerpt: Chapter 1
“I’m…I…No, don’t shoot.”
Danielle twisted her mouth into a scowl. Her heart hammered against her breast bone as it behaved as if she’d injected the organ with caffeine. “The law gives me the right to do exactly that. Breathe wrong and I’ll blow your brains out.” Her finger trembled against the gun’s cold steel. Embers from the dying fire sparked off the metal form clutched like a life preserver in her fist as they drifted into the flue. With the straight line of the barrel trained on a dark form, she cleared the remnants of sleep from her throat.
The lurking silhouette stumbled backward. She searched for the gun’s hammer but couldn’t find it in the dark. “You want to explain what you’re doing here after closing time?” Spiked with bitter adrenaline, her voice squeaked as she groped at the plaster wall. Fumbling for the edge of the light switch, she coughed, scraping the early morning sleep from her tonsils. “Better yet,” she said, glaring at the figure squatting in front of the locked bookcases, “why don’t you tell me how you managed to get in?”
A pair of dark eyes darted around the towering bookcases as Danielle turned the lights on and snatched her cell phone from beside the cash register. The burglar’s chin shuddered as if the teeth were battling one another for escape from a clenched mouth. One ragged, duct-taped tennis shoe shuffled past the long line of glass-covered doors protecting the priceless collection of rare books. Windows in the rear of the bookstore peeked their empty eyes between the diagonally placed shelves lining the floor between the fireplace and the counter. “I said don’t move.”
The shapeless intruder reached for the locked collection before the partial glow of the smoldering embers illuminated a thin face. Trembling fingers tugged at a threadbare sweater. “I came for a…um…book.”
Danielle’s breath snagged against her throat. It’s a girl. A teenager of all things.
A quick cursory inspection of the collection confirmed the intact condition of the locks and glass barring the bookcases. Fingerprints, the only evidence of intrusion, were smeared across the glass as well as the sculpted hearth and mantel surrounding the fireplace. Her stomach wilted. With her temples throbbing, she clamped her teeth closed. How dare she stand there crying like I done kicked her crippled puppy? I’m the one who’s getting robbed.
The edges of her vision closed in until her skull threatened to collapse beneath an ocean of pressure. Breathe, she mentally insisted. Y’all can’t protect your collection…or your life if all you can manage is a Scarlett O’Hara fainting spell.
Gulping to get her pulse under control, Danielle inspected the girl’s thin clothing. Threadbare jeans and a tattered sweater hung from the teenager’s frame as if she’d crawled in from the cotton fields. One toenail, a glint of flaking polish, peeked from beneath her torn shoe. “That’s an awful pretty pedicure,” Danielle said while curling her upper lip. “Is the polish purple or blue?”
The girl’s eyes brimmed as she shuffled backward. “What happened, sugar? Did your mama force you to spend the day at the spa with her, and now you’re breaking the law so you can get her properly ashamed?”
When the thin teen sniffed before she hardened her expression, alarm bells rang in Danielle’s head. Maybe her mama is dead. I could be picking on this poor girl and she had to come here because she’s got no one.
Danielle shook her long mahogany hair off of her face. If her mama had died, she’d be in the custody of youth services, not hanging out in the dead of winter in rural Alabama looking for books. It doesn’t matter, Danielle thought as she stomped toward the burglar. Her problems are no worse than mine, and I’m not breaking into people’s houses.
She let her focus drift along the same trail the girl had taken to get in, past the rows of diagonally placed bookshelves to a broken windowpane in the far corner. Her glare snapped to the quaking girl. “If you were cold or hungry, sugar, you should’ve come to the front door. I live upstairs. I’d have let you in without you breaking nothing.”
The marble countertop dug into the backs of her thighs. She winced as she stepped onto the faded Chinese rug. “Only someone who wants to steal from this collection breaks in.” The girl’s raw lip trembled in reply. Danielle shook her head. “Are you a collector? You don’t look old enough to care about what’s the most complete private collection of ancient histories, hieroglyphs, and mythologies outside of the rare books room at the Library of Congress.”
Traci McDonald is a blind author of clean romance novels, including Burning Bridger (Muse It Up, 2015), Killing Casanova (Crimson Romance, 2012) and the forthcoming Soul of Stone. She believes that falling in-love is the greatest risk of all, and her non-explicit romances are about hurting, healing and finding true love. Traci has been blind for 20 years. When she isn’t writing she is an editor for Ink and Quill Press and the co-host for a blogtalk radio show on The World of Ink Network. Traci is an active member of the National Federation of the Blind, on the board of her local writer’s guild, and a speaker for various writing conferences and book fairs. She is a full time wife and mother of three boys, an avid reader, and loves living in a small town on the fringes of Nevada's Mojave Desert.