Thursday, March 12, 2020

Lone Star Book Blog Tour: OUT OF THE EMBERS by Amanda Cabot ***Excerpt & Giveaway***

Amanda Cabot
Historical Fiction / Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: March 3, 2020
Number of Pages: 336

***Scroll down for the giveaway!***

Ten years after her parents were killed, Evelyn Radcliffe is once more homeless. The orphanage that was her refuge and later her workplace has burned to the ground, and only she and a young orphan girl have escaped. Convinced this must be related to her parents' murders, Evelyn flees with the girl to Mesquite Springs in the Texas Hill Country and finds refuge in the home of Wyatt Clark, a talented horse rancher whose plans don't include a family of his own.

At first, Evelyn is a distraction. But when it becomes clear that trouble has followed her to Mesquite Springs, she becomes a full-blown disruption. Can Wyatt keep her safe from the man who wants her dead? And will his own plans become collateral damage?

Suspenseful and sweetly romantic, Out of the Embers is the first in a new series that invites you to the Texas Hill Country in the 1850s, when the West was wild, the men were noble, and the women were strong.

PRAISE FOR OUT OF THE EMBERS: "Out of the Embers is part prairie romance, part romantic suspense. I can't remember when I've enjoyed a book more. Amanda Cabot has written an intriguing, chilling mystery and she winds it through the pages of a sweet romance in a way that made me keep turning the pages fast to see what was going to happen next. An absolutely excellent read. And now I'm hungry for oatmeal pecan pie!" 
-- Mary Connealy, author of Aiming for Love, book #1 in the Brides of Hope Mountain series

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One Friday, December 21, 1855
Someone was watching. Though a shiver of dread made its way down her spine, Evelyn Radcliffe kept a smile fixed on her face. No matter how her skin prickled and how every instinct told her to flick the reins and urge the horse to race forward, she wouldn’t do anything to worry the child who sat beside her.
She took a deep breath, then exhaled gradually, trying to slow her pulse, reminding herself that this was not the first time she’d sensed the Watcher. The feeling would diminish when she reached the outskirts of Gilmorton, and by the time she was an hour away, it would have disappeared. It always did. The only thing that made today different was that she was not alone. Today she had a child to protect.
Evelyn took another breath, forcing herself to think about something—anything—other than the danger she’d sensed. It was a beautiful day and an unusually warm one for so close to Christmas. The sun was shining, bringing a genuine smile to her face as she gazed at the now dormant cotton fields that brought so much wealth to this part of Texas. White gold, she’d heard some call it.
“What’s wrong?”
Evelyn turned toward the girl who looked enough like her to be her sister. Polly’s hair was silver blonde rather than Evelyn’s golden and her eyes were a lighter shade of blue, but she had the same oval face and a nose whose tip flared ever so slightly, just as Evelyn’s did. Besides the difference in their ages, Evelyn’s skin was unmarred, while a prominent strawberry red birthmark on her left cheek destroyed Polly’s hopes of beauty.
“Nothing’s wrong.” Evelyn wished the child weren’t so sensitive. “I’m just anxious to get home.” Logansville was three hours away, far enough that the Watcher had never followed her. But Polly didn’t need to know about the Watcher. Evelyn tickled the girl’s nose. “You know Hilda can’t be trusted to heat stew without scorching it.”
The distraction appeared to have worked, for Polly giggled. “She’s a bad cook. Buster spit out the oatmeal she gave him cuz it had lumps. Big lumps.”
Lumpy oatmeal was a better topic than the fear that engulfed Evelyn almost every time she came to Gilmorton. Mrs. Folger had told her she needed to confront her fears. That was one of the reasons she insisted Evelyn be the one to make these trips. But Mrs. Folger didn’t know that even ten years later, Evelyn could not bear to look at the building she’d once called home and that she detoured to avoid that block of Main Street. Mrs. Folger scoffed at the idea that someone was watching, calling it nonsense, but Evelyn knew better. Someone was watching, and it terrified her.
The tension that had coiled inside Evelyn began to release as the town disappeared from view. She wouldn’t have come to Gilmorton if she had had a choice, but unless she was willing to be gone for more than a day each time she made a delivery, there were no other outlets for the lace the children made. The owner of the mercantile gave her a fair price for their handicrafts. Today there’d even been enough money left over after she’d bought provisions that Evelyn had been able to purchase a piece of candy for each child. That would make Christmas morning special.
“When you’re a little older, I’ll teach you how to make oatmeal.”
Evelyn laid a hand on Polly’s shoulder, wanting contact with the child who’d become so dear to her in the month since she’d arrived at the orphanage. Arrived? She’d been deposited on the front step as if she were no more important than the piles of clothing some parishioners left when their children had outgrown them. Like worn dresses and overalls, Polly had been discarded.
Unaware of the turns Evelyn’s thoughts had taken, Polly grinned. “I know how. I watched you. You gotta stir, stir, stir.”
“That’s right. You’re a smart girl.”
“My daddy said that too. He said I was the smartest girl in the whole county and that I was worth more than a thousand bales of cotton.”
Polly’s smile turned upside down, reminding Evelyn of the story she’d told about her father being put in a box in the ground. Evelyn was all too familiar with those boxes, but she’d been fortunate enough to have her parents with her for thirteen years before the night when everything changed. Polly was only six, or so she said.
Think about Polly, Evelyn told herself, not the night when it had rained hard enough to muffle her screams from passersby. The sheriff had told her he’d arrested and hanged the man responsible. He’d assured her she had no reason to fear, and yet she did. Ten years wasn’t long enough to erase the memories, particularly when she could feel someone watching her.
“I miss my daddy.” Tears welled in Polly’s eyes. “I want him to come back.”
“I know you do.”
Despite her nod, tears began to trickle down Polly’s cheeks.
“Buster said some girls get new daddies. He said people come looking for good little girls.” She looked up at Evelyn, pleading in her eyes. “I’ve been good, haven’t I?”
“You’ve been very good,” Evelyn reassured her. But that wouldn’t be enough. Three couples had come to the orphanage since Polly’s arrival, and all three had been unwilling to adopt a child with such a prominent birthmark.
“It’s Satan’s mark,” one woman had announced. When she’d heard that, Evelyn had been tempted to gouge the woman’s cheek and give her her own mark.
“I want a new daddy.” Polly was nothing if not persistent. Persistent and stubborn. No matter how many times Evelyn and Mrs. Folger asked, she refused to tell them her last name. “I can’t,” she insisted. “I can’t.”

Amanda Cabot is the bestselling author of the Cimarron Creek trilogy, as well as the Texas Crossroads series, the Texas Dreams series, the Westward Winds series, and Christmas Roses. Her books have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Awards, the HOLT Medallion, and the Booksellers' Best. She lives in Wyoming.

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One Grand Prize Winner
Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook
+$25 Barnes and Noble Gift Card 

Next Two Winners:
Copy of Out of the Embers + Special Hill Country Sweets Cookbook 
+ $10 Starbucks Card

March 10-March 20, 2020
Notable Quotable
Excerpt, Part 1
Author Interview
Character Spotlight
Guest Post
Author Interview
Excerpt, Part 2
Excerpt, Part 3
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