I think, since Pieces of Sky is being marketed as a romance, I should start putting warning labels on the cover.
CAUTION: Bad things happen.
It’s only fair. In traditional romances, insomuch as the hero/heroine is above brutality, stinky feet, and God forbid, poor choices and un-heroic behavior, I think the reader should be given advance warning that this book might not fit the norm. Granted, there are clues: the cover (which I adore) doesn’t look very romancy. And the first scene is a bit brutal. And the quest for sexual bliss is only a small part of the story (although I feel I should get extra credit for having it occur out of wedlock), and when consummation is finally achieved near the end of the book, it’s not in very graphic detail. In fact, I don’t think I mentioned “throbbing” once (except in reference to a headache, but that was in another scene).
So if Pieces of Sky is not “steamy” enough for a traditional romance, and it’s too steamy for a Western, and if it doesn’t have a strong enough focus on actual events and/or people to make it a straight historical, then what the heck is it?
Just a story. One set in the West just after the Civil War and just before the completion of the transcontinental railroad, when bad guys were really bad, and good guys were only marginally bad—unless they had reason to be worse—which my hero does.
Hence, the warning.
However, in keeping with the “romance” tag, there is also an engaging love story, good winning over evil (a la Code of the West), and of course, the obligatory happy ending. Did I tell you it was somewhat humorous, too?
Brady (aka hero) is the eldest of three surviving brothers and the man in charge of the sprawling Wilkins ranch in the desert mountains of New Mexico Territory in 1869. Trapped in a bloody land feud and already haunted by the death of one brother, he’s desperate to protect his remaining brothers and the ranch from further destruction. The last thing he needs is a prim, proper, rule-spouting English spinster complicating his life. But after their stagecoach crashes and she is forced to recuperate at the Wilkins ranch, that’s exactly what he gets.
Jessica Thornton (aka heroine), already burdened by a violent act that has left her pregnant and distrustful of men, now finds herself stranded in a male-dominated household under the watchful eye of the worst of the lot—profane, ill-mannered, high-handed Brady Wilkins. Cultures clash. Sparks fly. Complications abound. But then…as antipathy gradually becomes attraction, he sees in her all the gentle things missing from his lonely life, and Jessica realizes that what’s “proper” might not always be what’s “right.” Against a backdrop of violence, vengeance, and tragedy, these two wounded souls learn to trust again, and through humor and courage find redemption, forgiveness and the love they both deserve.
But be warned, dear reader. This story is about difficult times in a harsh place, where hard lessons are learned, and desperate choices are made. Bad things may happen, but good people prevail and love triumphs. Sort of a romance, but with a Western flavor and a touch of real history. Just a story. I hope you’ll give it a try.
Thanks for inviting me to visit today! It’s been fun!
Kaki Warner is the award-winning author of the Blood Rose Trilogy (Berkley Trade, Pieces of Sky, January 2010, Open Country, June 2010, Chasing the Wind, 2011), a historical series about the unpredictable West and the men and women who brought it to life against all odds. Although Kaki now lives on the eastern slopes of the Cascade Mountains in Washington State, she actually grew up in the Southwest. Her years spent riding horses and enjoying the expansive views of Texas became the inspiration for the backdrop of her novels – the wide open spaces of historic New Mexico Territory. Kaki spends her time gardening, hiking, reading, writing, and soaking in the view from the deck of her hilltop cabin with her husband and floppy-eared hound dog. For more information, please visit Kaki's website at http://www.kakiwarner.com/.
Curious about the book? There's a short excerpt available at the author's website. I have a signed copy of Pieces of Sky to give away to a selected blog reader. To enter the contest, leave a comment on this post with your email address. Deadline is a week from today (Wed 3/24). Good luck to all entrants!