Monday, August 4, 2014

Between Heaven & Hell by Jacqui Nelson: Spotlight with Excerpt & Book Review


On a trail full of danger, will he guide her to heaven or hell?

Fort Leavenworth, Kansas – 1850

Hannah knows one thing the moment she enters Fort Leavenworth—she's arrived in Hell. But inside is the means to a new life, a position as a scout on a wagon train bound for the Western Territories. All she has to do is convince the wagon master, Paden Callahan, she's the right person for the job.

After his wife was murdered by the Comanche, Paden let his work as a Texas Ranger consume him. Now he wants nothing more than to disappear into the West. Unfortunately, the one man he can't refuse has asked him to guide a wagon train full of tenderfoots across thousands of miles of Indian land. But Paden's greatest challenge turns out to be Hannah, a woman his heart won't allow him to ignore even though she was raised by an enemy he hates.
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    Fort Leavenworth, Kansas—Spring 1850
    Lord help her, for she had entered Hell. That Hannah had sought guidance from the God of her past made her loneliness increase tenfold. She should’ve prayed to Grandfather Spider.

    “Well, what’a we got here?” someone yelled from behind her. The voice was rough with malicious undertones.

    “Don’t reckon I know,” replied another man. “Though she be a purty lil’ yellow-haired thing.”

    “Maybe, but we’d hafta get them injun’ clothes off her to tell fer sure.”

    Hannah stiffened in her saddle but kept her buckskin-clad knees tight against White Cloud’s sides, urging him forward. She fought the need to tug down the frayed cuffs of her wool coat or touch the beads and feathers in her belt for comfort.

    Don’t react, she told herself. Don’t make eye contact. Don’t turn back.

    A mountain man, the size of a bear, spat a foul-smelling stream of brown chewing tobacco in front of White Cloud’s path. He sneered at Hannah with lips stretched over rotting teeth.

    Behind him on a saloon porch, a trio of dusty cowhands rose from their card game, waved their whiskey bottles at her and hollered, “Ooh-wee, lovey! Come on down from yer horse. Let us show you a good time.”

    Strident feminine laughter filled the air. Hannah’s gaze darted heavenward to discover a row of women dressed in corsets and short calico skirts. They leaned over the balcony railing, watching her with black-rimmed eyes full of disdain.

    If she ignored them, maybe they’d leave her alone. Or maybe coming to Fort Leavenworth hadn’t been such a good idea. She had no choice. She couldn’t turn back.

    4 Stars 
    I really enjoyed reading this story of an exceptionally unusual woman who through grit, luck and determination got hired as a scout for a wagon train.  Hannah had been raised by Indians after seeing her parents killed by the savages. Much later she was cast out of the tribe following a terrible tragedy.
    Although the heroine is atypical for the time period,  the believable yet  unusual events in her  life made me fall in love with her character and understand her strong desire to be independent.  The action is almost continuous in this adventurous story.  Going West seems to be Hannah’s best option to evade the several factions after her.   The suspense and the secondary romance continually build in intensity as the lives of the characters come to life through the pages of the book.   I felt as if I were transported to the old American West - and loved the insights on life and attitudes of that time that the author so ably described.  While there were a few small things that irked me.  For instance, I understood and accepted the compelling reasons to avoid involvement that both Paden and Hannah held, but once all was revealed I felt they should have let go of the past sooner – especially Paden.  Still, those minor quibbles did little to distract from the overall tremendous storytelling.
    This book was given to me in exchange for my honest review.
    Reviewed by Laurie-J

    Jacqui Nelson writes historical romantic adventures set in the American West and Victorian London. Jacqui's love for the Old West came from watching classic Western movies while growing up on a cattle farm. Her passion for Victorian London wasn't far behind and only increased when she worked in England and explored the nooks and crannies of London on her weekends. She now lives on the west coast of Canada where she works in a bookstore. She is a Romance Writers of America® Golden Heart® winner and three-time finalist.


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