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Comes the Winter by Samantha St. Claire – Blast Sign Ups

 

Comes the Winter by Samantha St. Claire

Avalanches, isolation and snow blindness were stark realities for those daring to remain in Idaho’s Sawtooth Range through the harsh winter months. For city dweller, Lena Sommer, the warnings seemed exaggerated.
In the fall of 1886, Lena leaves behind a life fraught with disappointments and loss only to arrive in Sawtooth City and find the man she’d pledged to marry has been killed. To return east is unthinkable; to stay is ill-advised, but she resolves to remain and manage the man’s lodging house despite the warnings. More than her stubborn nature influences her decision. From her first glimpse of this mountain valley, she falls captive to its wild beauty. Feeling she has at last found a hearth to call her own, she eagerly puts down roots. Sharing her love of literature with her lodgers before a warming fire, she builds a family of lonesome souls, where dreams awaken.
However, one man stands apart, disturbing her peace with ominous warnings to leave before winter comes. Evan Hartmann knows from personal loss that winter snows bring to these mountains both unimaginable beauty and death. He is also a man conflicted, because as much as he’d like for Lena to leave the mountains, his heart longs for her to stay.

Praise for Comes the Winter
“This story has a surprise ending which will delight fans of romance/adventure novels who have read too many scripted endings. This is a terrific read, a great novel!” ~Readers’ Favorite five-star review

“St. Claire has a wonderful ability to make the characters, the history and the scenery come alive. She is an enchanting writer! Romances normally would not be my genre of choice, and yet I find myself totally engrossed in her stories. I have actually found it difficult to put the book down. Wonderful job! I look forward to more of her writing.” ~Amazon customer

“A most emphatic 5 stars. I’ve already bought the first two now that I finished this one, and will bookmark this author as one to follow. I will recommend this book to anyone – wonderful!” ~Amazon customer

Excerpts – Please choose 1 and delete the other 3 prior to posting

#1
Lena nodded, encouraging, preferring to hear the other woman’s story. Stories were very personal things, delivered with gift wrap and ribbons while others lay tucked away inside drawers of yellowed newspaper clippings or closed attic rooms. Lena believed this one must be wrapped in flowered paper and tied with pink satin ribbon. She smiled to herself. How fanciful her thoughts and how unlike her!

How might her story appear to others, neatly wrapped, secured by a lavender ribbon? A reader would find no great number of pages, little worthy of print. Perhaps, that was about to change here, where new and even exciting chapters of her life remained to be written. A sudden shiver of anticipation, and when she was honest with herself, a modicum of uncertainty, prompted her to draw the wool wrap tighter about her shoulders.

#2

She recalled the small photo Mr. Nash had sent her, so little to explain the man who’d penned the letters. How strange, apprehending the essence of the man without ever having really known him. She wouldn’t even be haunted by his ghost because nothing bound them in this world aside from an agreement to marry. This was a grief of sorts, she supposed, not for herself, but for a future that might have been. Perhaps their relationship might have become more than one of business. The unlikely event that love might grow from such a relationship had not even tempted her. She was a realist, honestly born to it by two very pragmatic parents.

A sudden rise in men’s voices from the room below was followed by a whispered hush, as though someone had remembered the women were asleep in the room above them. That act of consideration she found endearing. Strangers can be kind. Somehow the kindness of these strangers touched her as the news of Mr. Nash’s passing had not. A single tear rolled from her eye to drop upon the pile of papers atop the desk. She brought her hand to her cheek and wiped it away. No more need fall. One was enough.

For a long while she sat in the oversized chair, his chair, with her feet tucked up beneath her. From here she had a view of the shadowy form of the mountains. The voice of her father whispered in her memory. Beware the dangers of making decisions after the sun sets. Best to tuck your worries under your pillow and sleep on them till morning. Sometimes in the night the worries will be ironed out by your sleeping head. So, she resolved not to decide what to do tonight. That decision would wait until the clear light of day.

But sleep refused to come. When all sounds in the room below had ceased, she wrapped a quilt around her shoulders, slid her feet into her slippers and tiptoed down the stairs. Opening the front door, a cacophony of night music met her. Gently closing the door behind her, she padded to the west end of the porch, settling herself in a generous chair with a view of the western sky where the ragged edge of the mountains made a darker shade of night. Stars danced above the distant peaks, and the moon cast a pale light upon the mountain’s craggy face.

A calm that should not have been her companion after a day of upheaval took a seat beside her. She had no idea when her weary body succumbed to its need for rest and her eyes closed in sleep.

#3

Dead tired, Evan stumbled up the steps to the porch. His body yearned for sleep even more than food. A full day of back-breaking work followed by a one-hour ride in a stiff saddle made the prospect of a soft bed all the more enticing.

A sound and small movement to his left brought him fully alert. An animal, a bear perhaps? One had taken to roaming the river bank this summer looking through garbage. He pulled his gun from its holster, taking slow quiet steps across the porch. The shadow moved. Now he could discern the pattern not of fur but a quilt. Maybe one of the men had come home drunk and decided to sleep it off out here.

Then a slender, bare ankle, attached to a pale white foot, emerged from the corner of the quilt. A woman? Here?

He slid the gun back into its holster. Standing in front of her now, he saw the face framed by dark curls, softly falling across her cheek. Standing there with the moonlight caressing each curve of her face, he wondered if he were asleep. Maybe he’d come off the mountain, walked inside the house and was already dreaming of this angel.

She shifted, sending Evan scuttling back into the shadowed edge of the porch. He held his breath lest she see him and think him up to some mischief. Drawing her foot back within the folds of the blanket, she settled back into sleep. In a moment, her breathing changed to that of a very human being, not at all angelic. He considered that for a moment. Who was he to say angels didn’t snore?

He remembered then, Nash’s expected lady. This must be her. Most conjectured her to be an older woman, certainly not a woman possessing such an ankle as this one, or a cheek as comely.

Evan frowned. Bad business, this. The poor woman. He scratched at his beard, newly sprouted for the coming winter months. Turning back to the door, he left the sleeping angel to her dreams. He had little doubt she’d be on the first wagon out of the basin, off the mountain before winter locked the doors to the outside world. Or she would if she knew what was good for her.

#4

Letting out a long-held breath, she settled back into the chair, the quilt tucked beneath her chin. High on the tallest peaks, a faint pink glow heralded a new day. As she held her breath, waiting, the sun spread its light down the face of the mountains, flowing like golden water into the high valleys. Lena listened to the songs of birds unfamiliar to her city trained ears, their songs announcing the morning as surely as the milkman on his daily rounds. But this was so different, quiet, and yet not. The longer she sat there absorbing the growing presence of day, the more she heard.

How unlike the gray skies of Chicago! How lovely! In the east, rays of gold fanned out along the horizon, chasing back the last shadows of night to foreign lands, far beyond the mountains in the west. Her breath caught as the sun emerged from behind the hills, drawing with it a canopy of pale blue. If anyone had witnessed this greeting between them, they would have seen Lena’s face aglow in sunlight. And had Evan seen her, his thoughts of her as an angelic being would have seemed confirmed.

 

Author Samantha St. Claire

Samantha St. Claire was born in 2016, the alter-ego and pen name of an author of historical fiction born a few decades earlier. She may have found her niche in western historical fiction, served up sweet. Never faint of heart, her signature female protagonists face the hazards of the frontier with courage, wit, and a healthy pinch of humor.

The road from college graduation led due west where teaching in a small Arizona town fulfilled childhood fantasies on multiple levels. Hiking and backpacking the canyons and desert fed her imagination with the landscapes she would use later in life as an author. A few years passed before a change in jobs took her to California where her love of western history was further fed and her first novel of Russia’s Fort Ross Colony came to life. But Idaho sparked her interest in the history of the magnificent central mountain ranges and Samantha St.Claire began her first series, The Sawtooth Range.

Follow www.samanthastclaire.net to read more about the research that has helped develop the characters, towns and stories of the Sawtooth Range Series and now Whitcomb Creek, Montana.

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