West Clare Coast. Worth saving?

Sea off the coast of County Clare, Ireland. The setting of my new novel, Selkie's Song

Sea off the coast of County Clare, Ireland. The setting of my new novel, Selkie’s Song

An excerpt from my new release, Selkie’s Song:

Muireann rolled to a sitting position and sat cross legged. “Are you ready?”
“Always,” he said. “What, exactly, did you have in mind?” His suggestive tone only added to her curiosity about him.
“Something I want to show you.” Muireann offered her hand. “Ready for a bit of cliff rambling?”
She took a step back. “Let me show you something.”
They walked the short distance to where they had left the car. Ty tossed the picnic paraphernalia in the boot, grabbed his mandolin case and looped the strap over his shoulder.
They strolled, hand in hand, back toward the cliffs.
“I can’t remember a time I didn’t know this headland.” She stopped perilously close to the edge of the drop. “I’ve even dreamed I was born here, under the sky, rocked to sleep by the music of the sea.”
She tugged on his hand to draw him close. Ty hesitated.
“Something wrong?” she asked.
Ty blew out a breath, cleared his throat, and gripped tight on her hand. “I’m not all that crazy about precipitous drops onto sharp rocks.”
Ah, the brave and gallant Celt has an Achilles’ heel.
“Here,” she encouraged him as she lowered to the turf. “Get down on your stomach.”
He set the mando down, knelt beside her and then stretched out on his stomach with his chin resting on his hands. “You may as well know I’m not fond of frigid water either.”
“Are you saying you don’t swim?”
“I swim…like a rock.” Ty’s smile turned strained.
Ty swallowed his trepidation. If hanging off this feckin’ rock meant he was gettin’ lucky tonight, it was well worth the risk.
Whomp. A virtual slap to the side of his head would have knocked him flat had he not already been prone. He’d rekindled his acquaintance with Muireann less than twenty-four hours ago. He’d either lied to himself or to her about why he was here. A lie by omission, but still not the entire truth.
Ty had promised himself he wouldn’t deviate from his master plan. That plan, initially, did not include a woman—in his bed or his heart.
“What am I looking at?” he asked, trying to distract his carnal thoughts.
“You have to be patient. Watch the water, there, just beyond that solitary rock.” She nodded in the direction of a shallow pool.
Ty tried not to think of the churning blue water and the three hundred foot drop. He gamely pushed back the memory of being caught in the tide and dragged out to sea, the struggle, and then the giving up. Twenty years had passed, and he still remembered clearly his battle for the surface of the water.
“There. Do you see her?” Muireann whispered and pulled him back to the present.
Against the dark water, Tynan’s vision focused on a silvery streak. Just when he thought he had made out a form, it disappeared. Then there were two and in a moment a third silken and sleek creature appeared. “Seals?”
“Cool, huh? It’s a family.” Her voice caught. “I watched that pup being born right here on this strand. This is home to them. Harbor seals live in the same place all their lives.”
Muireann’s face softened and her lips turned up ever so slightly as she spoke of these animals. She reminded him of American girls’ reaction to puppies and newborn babies. The female need to nurture inspired an instinctual fear in the gut of most men, himself not included. When the time was right, Tynan would be more than ready for a nurturing female in his life.
She turned on her side, propped up on one elbow. Her expression hardened. “Seals follow the sound of fishing boats. So many seals are hurt or killed each year by careless fishing methods. Locals know this and take care.”
The two adults and the pup hauled out and readied for a nap in the sunshine. “This bunch seems to feel safe here.”
“Yeah,” she sighed and continued. “That’s why I want to keep big business interests out.”
“I don’t understand,” Ty admitted. “Seals have lived for centuries alongside fishing boats. What’s changed?”
“The economy or perhaps simply greed.” She looked straight in his eyes. “If industrial fisheries are allowed in here, this family will be gone. I won’t be able to protect them. The large nets will trap and strangle them, the food supply will dwindle…They’ll starve.”
Ty questioned that thinking. “Aren’t there plenty of fish to go around?”
Muireann’s jaw clenched. “Industrial fisheries overfish sand eels for animal feed and fertilizer. Greenpeace calls the practice ‘Hoover fishing’…a clean sweep.”
“Sand eels?”
“Right. And these little fish are the main food source for harbor seals, and seabirds as well. Everything’s tied up in the ecosystem of the sea. It’s a domino effect. The most profitable fish are also the ones the seals need to survive. Without sand eels, this cove, this strand, it’ll be empty.”
Ty loved her passion for this crusade but couldn’t see how things could change. “What can one person do?” This was the adult Muireann. The girl had become a woman with serious interests. She took some getting used to.
She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I want this to be designated a marine protected area.”
“Seems that’s going to be a hard sell with Ireland’s economy tanking and high unemployment,” Ty suggested. “Is there some sort of compromise?”
Muireann sat up and hung her long legs off the rock edge. She turned to him. “I’m not an impetuous child anymore, Tynan. If you knew me, you would realize I’m not inclined to compromise when it’s a matter of saving something or someone I love.”
Tynan could indeed sense her instinct to fight to the death for justice…or love.
“I stopped a whole damn oil company from setting up a rig offshore right there.” She pointed toward the horizon, then turned and gave him an ebullient smile. “Me and my mates. We camped out here and made the oil company’s lives a living hell until we got enough attention in the media.”
“You amaze me.” Truly she did. When she talked about saving seals, her love for the sea, when he saw her passion in the pottery she created, Muireann had that same charisma he had admired last night in O’Malley’s when she sang.

The third book in the Fadó Trilogy, Selkie’s Song, is now available at Amazon.com

For more information about my books go to http://www.clareaustin.com

It’s Coole! The autograph tree.

The autograph tree

The autograph tree

Coole Park that is.  The home of Lady Gregory, patroness to many of Ireland’s famous writers. This is the autograph tree. I thought it was appropriate, though somewhat presumptuous, to have my picture taken here.

George Bernard Shaw, J.M. Synge, Sean O’Casey and, of course, William Butler Yeats all spent time in this garden. Who knows what inspiration came of it?

Ireland’s beauty and her people have been an inspiration to me as well. In my novel, Selkie’s Song, now available in the Amazon Kindle store, I hope to have captured some of the legend, mystery, and romance of Ireland’s west counties.

For more about my novels, please go to http://www.clareaustin.com

Intimate details. Meet author Holley Trent!

Please welcome author Holley Trent to my blog today. Holley is here as part of the Colorado Romance Writers blog hop “The Mystic Month of May.”  Please leave a comment to be eligible for a free copy of Holley’s book, Executive Decision.

This is where the blog hop takes a huge detour from The Rockies way out east to North Carolina. Just hop on 70-E and drive for about 30 hours: you’ll be there in no time.

I moved west in December during a freak snowstorm that dumped about a zillion inches of powdery cold stuff onto I-25 which made our drive north from New Mexico (we took a detour southwest through Oklahoma and Texas) take about three times as long as it should have. The more I talk to Coloradans, the more I’m told that as far as weather goes, I should expect the unexpected. After all, we’re a mile above sea level. The sun may be three inches away, but being on the Front Range causes some unique climate issues.

North Carolina’s climate is a bit more predictable. Of course, the state frequently hosts devastating tropical storms and hurricanes, and every now and then during the winter there’s some icy precipitation that causes folks to panic and clear out all the milk and bread on the grocery store shelves, but we expected those things.

North Carolinians know that November through March are the “cold” months.  June through September is the period of suffocating humidity. October is the “wear shorts with a light jacket” month. April is the wet month. That leaves May.

May is when everyone breathes easy. There’s respite from the mud caused by the spring rains, everything is in bloom, all the pollen has been washed away, the water at the beaches is warm enough for a dip, and the cardinals start to go crazy.

The cardinals are what I’ve missed most this first May in Colorado. I didn’t much notice them until after my grandmother died a few years ago. In the moments I missed her most, they seemed to show up out of nowhere. If I was looking out kitchen window, one would perch out on the deck and preen itself. If I were driving home from the grocery store, a pair would swoop down towards the road in front of my car and then flit away quickly. Northern cardinals are easy to identify and seeing the females always cheered me up.

Cardinals don’t come this far west and I’m sad for it. However, a couple of weeks ago I saw my first blue jay which I think is one of nature’s most beautiful species. North Carolina has blue jays, too, yet it took moving to Colorado for me to see one.

Looking out the window in May just makes me happy.

Thanks for indulging me! At the end of the hop I’ll give away an electronic copy of my erotic romance Executive Decision to a random commenter on this post. For information about my stories or what I’m up to, please visit me at holleytrent.com or follow me on twitter at @holleytrent.

Got Cowboy?

Please welcome Helen Hardt to Clare’s Blog today. Helen is a multi-published author of romance fiction with a knack when it comes to scratching the dusty surface of a cowboy and finding the lover hidden there.
Helen is offering a free copy of her novel to one of you, so be sure to leave a comment or ask Helen a question.
Double click on the book cover to go to the publisher’s site and view Ivy League Cowboy and Helen Hardt’s other books.

Got Cowboy?

Who doesn’t love a hot cowboy? Especially one with an Ivy League brain to go with all that brawny hotness? Zach McCray is a cowboy first, though, and he stops at nothing to rope in his cowgirl. Zach stars in Ivy League Cowboy, the first in my McCray Brothers Series at Musa Publishing. If Zach leaves you panting and wanting more, check out his brothers, Dallas and Chad, in A Cowboy and a Gentleman and Rodeo Queen, respectively, also available at Musa. Enjoy the excerpt, and leave a comment to win your own copy of Ivy League Cowboy!

Dusty doesn’t fear the feisty bull…but his owner’s another story.

Dusty O’Donovan, an accomplished bull rider, isn’t afraid to ride El Diablo, a feisty stud whose owner, Zach McCray, is offering $500,000 to anyone who can stay on him for a full eight seconds. Though Zach refuses to let a woman ride his bull, he’s intrigued by the headstrong Dusty, who he last saw when he was thirteen and she was six. Sparks fly when they’re together, but will Dusty’s secrets tear them apart?

Excerpt:

Infuriating. Sexist Pig. Idiot genius who didn’t care about proper English usage.
But oh, could the man kiss.

From the first second, refusing wasn’t an option. The unimaginable sensation of his mouth pressed to hers overrode the rational part of Dusty’s brain. His lips were warm, unexpectedly soft, and laced with the robust boldness of his after dinner Irish coffee. The bewitching friction as he nibbled at her mouth enticed her lips to open.

And then it was magic. The woodsy spiciness of the coffee, the tangy storm of the Irish Whiskey, and something else… Something unique and indescribable. Zach. His tongue danced around hers, and her legs trembled beneath her. As if on cue, one strong arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her to him. Every cell in her body screamed at her to drive into him, to deepen the kiss, but she was frightened. She barely knew him. So she began to pull away.

His strength defeated hers. “Kiss me back, darlin’,” he whispered against her chin. “Please.”

It was the please that did it. Somehow, she knew instinctively that Zach McCray didn’t utter that word very often, if at all. Weak-kneed and aroused, she thrust her tongue into the moist warmth of his mouth, and she was lost.

She’d done her share of kissing in the past, but never had she felt such an adventurous surge of need and desire. The frantic necking in parked cars, the careless goodnight kisses, the lazy exploration—nothing compared to this urgency, this demand. As their tongues tangled together, she moved her hands upward, framing his face. Her fingers toyed with the roughness of his night beard, the sleekness of his jaw line. Part of her was barely cognizant of him cupping her cheeks, his thumbs caressing her, yet another part was hyper-aware of his touch, his mastery of her.

When the frenzy between them slackened slightly, he removed his lips from hers and trailed them across her cheek, down her neck, then to her ear, tracing it with his tongue, nipping the soft lobe. She kissed his neck and inhaled his scent. Cloves. And pine. The outdoors. Heavenly. Faint moans met her ears, and she realized they were coming from her throat.
“Dusty.” Zach’s voice was husky, smoke-filled.

She moaned again as his mouth found hers. Unrestrained desire took her over, and she thrust her hips against him, feeling the strength of his arousal. She imagined him inside her, filling her, pleasuring her with that gorgeous body. She had never wanted a man like this. She imagined him naked, on top of her, doing things no man had ever done to her.
She let out a disappointed rasp as he broke the kiss and headed for her ear again. “God, you’re beautiful,” he whispered. “Let’s go inside.”

“Oh yes, yes.” Dusty tunneled her fingers through his silky hair, leading him back to her mouth.

His tongue pushed into her again, then retreated. “Now, darlin’. Or I take you right here.”