KAREN’S KILLER BOOK BENCH: Welcome to Karen’s Killer Book Bench where readers can discover talented new authors and take a peek inside their wonderful books. This is not an age-filtered site so all book peeks are PG-13 or better. Come back and visit often. Happy reading!
The McKenna Curse Book 1
BY PATRICIA ROSEMOOR
The family curse prevented Tiernan McKenna from finding love, but it can’t stop him from rescuing Ella Thunder. Having seen her shaman father burned to death when evil stalked his clan, Ella is fearful of using the power her Lakota father taught her, even as evil begins to spread again. Tiernan insists on helping Ella despite his attraction to her. Acting upon what he feels seems so incredibly right, but will the curse claim her?
The McKenna Curse Book 1
BY PATRICIA ROSEMOOR
For all his curiosity, Tiernan hadn’t expected to find anything, so when he spotted the dark green SUV sheltered under a boxelder amidst the pines, he stiffened, his surprise touching Red Crow, who danced sideways. Not making a sound, Tiernan held the gelding in check and focused all six senses. What came to him strongest was a blinding pain. He let go and the pain subsided and his vision cleared.
Dismounting, he looped the horse’s reins in a low branch of a pine and moved carefully to the left, through a scattering of trees, toward a clearing overlooking the meadow valley. That’s when he saw her—an attractive lass in jeans and a long-sleeved cotton shirt, dark hair flowing down her back in a thick ponytail. She was sitting on the ground, trying to get to her feet but not quite managing.
Tiernan rushed to her side to help, but what he got for his trouble when he touched her arm and murmured, “Easy, there,” was a fist square in his chest.
The air rushed out of him and he let go of her and she scrabbled back, staring at him with wide-open brown eyes. “Get away from me, or I’ll… I’ll…”
She looked around wildly—for a weapon, he supposed.
“You’ll what?” he asked in the soft, melodic voice he used when working with horses, a voice meant to calm and seduce. “I’ll not be hurting you.”
“You knocked me out!”
“’Tis someone else you need to be accusing. I just rode up a few seconds ago.” He indicated Red Crow, now standing quietly in the pines, his head lowered as if he were napping.
“If it wasn’t you…” Again, she looked around.
“The culprit would be gone,” Tiernan said.
“How can you be sure?”
He concentrated, tested the atmosphere, then shook his head. “If anyone else was around, I would sense it. ’Tis my fey Irish blood,” he explained.
Frowning at him, she tried to stand once more. And once more he moved closer, this time hesitating before touching her.
“May I offer my help?”
She thought about it for a second, then gave him her hand. Though she wasn’t a small woman—only a few inches shorter than he and nicely curved—he easily pulled her up to her feet. She stood there, her gaze taking him in, while he did the same. Pale skin, wide-spaced round eyes, high cheekbones, strong chin, full lips—a mix of the people in this state.
She was the most fascinating-looking lass he’d ever met.
“Thank you,” she said. “Ella Thunder.”
He grinned. “Powerful name. Tiernan McKenna. I would be a cousin to Rose Farrell.”
“Farrell.” As if suddenly realizing he hadn’t let go of her hand, she pulled hers from his grasp and slid it behind her back. “They have a ranch a few miles from here, right?”
So, she didn’t know them. “That they do. The MKF—stands for McKenna-Farrell. Aren’t you from this area?”
“I used to be,” she said. “I was on my way to visit the grandparents.”
“On refuge land?”
“On the rez. This is a shortcut.”
He could see it in her—she was definitely part, though not all, Native American. “You stopped for some reason.”
“Just to look around. It’s been a long time,” she admitted. “I was here maybe five minutes.” She checked her watch. “I must have only been out for a few minutes.”
“So, in the five minutes you were here just looking around, someone decided to hurt you?”
She frowned at him again, her thick dark brows nearly pulling together. “You don’t believe me?”
“Nah, nah, that’s not what I was saying.”
“Then what did you mean?” she asked.
“Just trying to make sense of it all. Wondering if the thing that spooked the herd was human rather than something four-footed.”
“I thought it might be a cougar, too.”
“If the culprit was human, he could have done something to scare off the herd and then didn’t want you to see his face. The question is, what was he up to?”
“I don’t know. We could look around to see.”
“I’m thinking you shouldn’t be walking around. Or driving. You could have a concussion.”
“What I have is a headache.” She gave him a fierce look. “Of the human kind.”
He stared down at her, tried to read her for anything unusual. Oddly, he didn’t get much off her, as if she were somehow blocking him mentally. Now how was that possible? he wondered.
“Are you dizzy? Any ringing in the ears?”
“I’m a little off-center. Not exactly dizzy. More like light-headed. No ringing.” Her voice rose with her irritation. “Are you a doctor?”
He shook his head. “Working around horses, I’ve seen enough accidents—had a couple myself. I know the signs of a concussion. Let me get a better look at your eyes.”
Before she could deny him, he lifted her chin. The contact was potent and he froze like that, not daring so much as to breathe. What was it with this woman? What was she doing to him? It took all his concentration to suck in some air and do what he meant to do. He checked her pupils—both equal in size and therefore normal—and gazed right through them, searching, searching.
A quick flash of light accompanied sharp pain and disorientation and finally the sensation of falling.
Tiernan blinked and shook his head to clear it. “I don’t think you were hit at all—not enough to knock you out, that is.”
She stiffened. “I thought you believed me.”
“Turn around. Let me look at the back of your head. Please.” With that she turned and he asked, “Where does it hurt?”
Inspecting the area she’d indicated, he saw a tiny pinprick. “Just as I thought. You were darted.”
Ella flipped around to face him. A little flustered but steady enough.
“We do it with horses when necessary,” Tiernan explained. “The dart contains a small explosive charge that detonates on impact and injects the drug. The dart itself often bounces off the animal.”
The reason she’d recovered so quickly was that she’d barely gotten any of the drug. He inspected the ground and spotted a hint of yellow in the crushed pine needles that had been under her body. He stooped and dug out the dart, held it up with the tips of two fingers, then carefully pocketed it in his vest. Hopefully, he’d recover the attacker’s fingerprints, as well.
Unarmed but for a knife sheathed on his belt, Tiernan surveyed the area, demanding assurance that the danger was over. He sensed nothing but he wasn’t at ease, either.
“In a shady spot like this, the dart will flash when the explosive detonates,” he went on. “That was the flash that accompanied the pain.”
“I didn’t tell you I saw anything.”
“Of course, you did or how would I know it?”
Though Ella didn’t argue further, she gave him a suspicious expression. “Well, do I check out, McKenna? Can we look around now?”
Feeling only that she was slightly out of sorts, nothing more serious, Tiernan grinned and said, “Just take it slow and yell if anything doesn’t feel right, Thunder.” She did remind him of a thunder cloud, ready to rumble at him. “Could you tell the direction your attacker came from?”
Reorienting herself with the valley, Ella turned to the area behind her and said, “Somewhere over there.”
Tiernan scanned the ground until he found some needles trampled on the forest path, no doubt by the attacker’s feet. “This way. Stay close.”
They moved through the trees, following the faint impressions.
Ella was the first to say, “Wait. Here the tracks go in two directions.”
“Hum. I would guess the way we’ve been going is the way he retreated, but he came from the northeast. Must’ve seen or heard you and decided to investigate.”
“For someone who isn’t from here, you have a good sense of direction.”
“Because you’re fey.”
Tiernan merely grinned at her and moved along.
The grin didn’t last long. As he stepped through the trees onto red earth and rock, his senses picked up once more. Something had happened here. Something bad. Foreboding filled him as he scanned the ground, noted that there were no footprints. Had whoever walked here purposely obliterated them? Someone had been here, of that he was certain. He felt remnants of the human presence.
“Dead end,” Ella said, coming up behind him.
“I don’t think so.”
Stepping forward, he looked across the valley, trying to find the spot he’d been in when the horses had fled. But it wasn’t visible. Whatever had happened here, he wouldn’t have been able to see.
“What are you doing?” Ella asked, her hand suddenly grabbing his arm.
Tiernan stopped just short of the cliff’s edge. He hadn’t even realized how close he’d gotten. What he did realize was that his pulse was humming, his gut was tightening. He simply couldn’t decide if it was because of whatever happened here… or because of Ella touching him.
He removed his arm and the humming faded, the tightening eased.
And then, disturbed by the sensations he’d just experienced, he took that last step forward and looked down only to have the nightmare of his past flash back at him.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Patricia Rosemoor has had 100 novels with 8 publishers and more than 7 million books in print. Always fascinated with “dangerous love,” Patricia combines romance with crime in her stories. She has won a Golden Heart from Romance Writers of America and two Reviewers Choice and two Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times BOOKreviews, and in her other life, she taught Popular Fiction and Suspense-Thriller Writing at Columbia College Chicago.
Links to Patricia’s website, blog, books, etc.
Thanks, Patricia, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!