Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Blog Tour Tuesday - HOME TO ROOST by: Reina Torres


Today Blog Tour Tuesday features 
Home to Roost - 
Book 7 of Sweetheart of Jubilee Springs Series 
by Reina Torres


About Home to Roost:


She didn’t have a place to belong. He thought he was happy by his lonesome. When she stumbled into his life, everything changed. 

 Brigid Belham had always done what was expected. She worked for her father in his accounting office and managed his home. When he married, she knew it was her time to move on, and traveled to Jubilee Springs to meet a prospective husband. Her ‘best laid plan’ goes horribly awry, leaving her stranded. Caught in a storm of both rain and tumultuous emotions she ends up lost in the woods, until she’s found by a mountain man grumpier than a bear. All he wants to do is send her away. What if she wants to stay?

Most people in Jubilee Springs know him as a hermit, a mountain man who hardly talks and likes company even less. His parents named him Livingstone Quinn, but unlike his namesake, he doesn’t want to explore. He doesn’t want to discover. He just wants his peace and quiet, all by his lonesome with his animals on his homestead. When Brigid literally falls at his feet, he keeps telling her she needs to leave, but shocks himself when he keeps finding reasons for her to stay. What will he do when he runs out of excuses?

In the whole wide world they managed to find each other. Would they walk away from their happiness, or would they bring their love home to roost?

You may purchase Home to Roost by CLICKING HERE.


Chapter One
Turning onto the path behind the saloon, Livingstone Quinn tucked his chin down toward his chest. It was early enough in the day that no one was outside, especially behind the saloon. Even their more devoted customers would have stumbled into their beds a few hours ago, leaving the back-alley quiet, just the way he liked it. He had just enough time to make his delivery and get back to the homestead before the sun hit with its full strength. 
There was a light burning in a window of the Railroad housing, and when he drew closer he could see a dark form shuffling across the floor. For a brief moment, he wondered if the man was just getting to bed, or dragging himself out of it to prepare for the day. There was always someone at the depot, and most times they were awake.
Further down the row, he could see a resolute puff of smoke from the flue at Helsa’s Bath House. The boiler must be piping hot, even at this early time of the morning. He did well enough at the homestead, warming water when the weather made the pond too cold, even for his weathered skin. But as he passed by the back window he got a whiff of something that smelled like a good strong soap. The clean scent followed him as he walked behind the mercantile.
He slowed his steps for a moment as he approached the back of Howard House. The Howards had become his friends over time. They were quiet, but friendly. They didn’t press him to talk and they understood that he didn’t want to stand around wasting time when he came to town. He rarely even saw the Howards since they’d come to their understanding.
The scent of coffee tickling his nose only got stronger when he reached the edge of the mercantile.
Someone cleared their throat in the near darkness. “It’s just me.” He recognized Daniel Howard’s voice, the tension easing from his shoulders. “Having a cup of coffee before I start my day.”
Reaching up to his shoulder, Livingstone tugged at the leather strap and pulled it over the rise and down his upper arm. “I wasn’t expecting you to be up this early.”
He heard the creak of a chair before he saw Daniel lean into the meager light of the lantern by the back door. “I’m usually up this early, I just leave you be for the most part.”
Crossing his arm over his opposite shoulder, he held the top of his pack while he slid the contraption off his other arm. He’d brought the whole pack safely to town from his homestead and having his morning solitude interrupted wasn’t going to play havoc on his nerves. He set the pack down on the edge of the porch and unbuckled the straps. “Well,” he grudgingly admitted, “it is your porch. I've got three dozen eggs for you.”
The sky was lightening, taking on a yellowish tint, enabling him to see Daniel’s smile as he leaned forward and braced his hands on his knees. “That's good. We can certainly use them.”
“Got a full house?” Livingstone winced in the darkness. It helped to keep his distance when he didn't ask questions.
But rather than uncomfortable, Daniel’s voice was warm, as if he was pleased at the inquiry. “We could use more. Maybe another dozen at least for the next few weeks. That is,” he gave a little self-conscious cough, “if you've enough to spare.”
Livingstone had plenty of eggs, thanks to a good-sized flock and a rooster that seemingly appeared out of the blue sky.
He'd already made his decision, but it took a bit to squeeze out the words. “Same price?”
“Sounds fair to me,” Daniel agreed.
“I can bring another dozen when I come. Monday? Friday?”
“Just like clockwork,” Daniel added.
Livingstone looked at the tree at the corner of the building. “You left the money in the tree already?”
Daniel considered his answer. “Yep, tucked into the knot like before.” His tone was cautious, like he didn't want to startle and Livingstone both appreciated it and regretted it. He didn't want to be treated with kid gloves.
“All right, then.” He finished stacking the full half-crates of eggs on the porch and took the empties and stacked them up onto the base of his pack, setting the last full half-crate on the top. “I’ll bring you the extra dozen.”
“I’m not sure,” Daniel added, “I don’t think you can see it on the outside just yet, but we’ve had a bunch of mail order brides arriving in Jubilee Springs. Don't be surprised if your quiet morning walks into town take on a bit of disquiet in about a year.”
Livingstone narrowed his gaze at his friend. “Women sure can talk,” he agreed, “but how much noise can they make in the mornings?”
While he couldn't see Daniel’s exact expression, he could feel his good humor like a strong wind. “Babies cry, my friend. They make a fair amount of noise throughout the day, but mornings-”
“I have a rooster,” he reminded Daniel. “I've learned to get up and on the trail before he gets up.”
A door inside opened and shut with a soft click, pulling Daniel from his chair. “That would be my cue,” he explained. “I've got some work inside.” Livingstone didn't move while Daniel made his way to the door.
Daniel pulled the screen door open and closed it again, turning back to his friend. “If the mood ever strikes you, we’d like to have you stay one of these mornings and have a meal with us.”
Livingstone’s instinct was to hesitate. “I-”
“We've a good group of folks staying with us. Most just keep to themselves,” he added, trying to keep his tone light. Livingstone heard the effort in his tone. “And we have a young woman coming in on the train today.”
Livingstone narrowed his eyes. “Traveling alone?”
The businessman nodded and then shook his head. “She's coming in on the train, one of those mail order brides. Appleton Winslet arranged her room for her for the week.”
Livingstone’s mouth pinched at the corners. “The lawyer?” He cringed at the thought. “Huh, leave it to him to have a fancy degree and order in for a woman.”
He heard the sharp tone in his own voice and huffed out a sigh, shaking his head. He felt the long lengths of his hair sweep back and forth over his shoulders.
“I'm sorry, Daniel.” Livingstone felt a knot in his middle. “That wasn't a polite thing to say. While I don't know Mr. Winslet more than just a few words in passing, he’s never done anything to me personally.”
It took a moment for Daniel to answer back. “I know what you mean, but from what I've seen, he's a real particular person and I just hope that the woman he has coming finds him… amiable.”
Livingstone smiled and felt the coming warmth of the sun starting to play on his skin. “That sounds like a good idea. Amiable. Well,” he grunted, hefting the pack on one shoulder, “I'd better get going. Got to drop off some eggs for the Pastor and get on home ‘fore too many folks find their way on the street.”
Daniel gave him a half wave and disappeared inside.
Livingstone shook his head and let out a puff of air. “Looks like I’ll have to steer real clear of Jubilee Springs if it's going to fill up with women and children.”

#

When Brigid Belham stepped onto the platform at Jubilee Springs, she willed her hands to stop shaking, but she had no chance of that particular dream becoming a reality. Her nerves had a hold on her that was even stronger than her grip on her valise. The handle, clutched in her grip, pinched her palms and while she struggled to ease the pain in her hands, she was all too aware of the pain in her ribs and waist. Her fashionable corset, the garment sworn to be the height of fashion by the modiste back in Omaha had started out to be such a great idea. But after more than a day locked in that tortuous garment, rattling in a smoky train car, she was regretting her desire to appear fashionable and fulfill the wishes of her prospective spouse.
The hustle and bustle of the train station quickly died down as she stood waiting. There was over a score of men milling about, carrying or moving boxes and transacting their business. No one met her eyes for more than a second, and when they did it appeared to be a mistake or a curiosity and even then, no one seemed to recognize her.
She could blame that on the fact that her photo had been taken before her fine wardrobe had been delivered. She’d settled for loosening her bun that day, and wrestling a smile onto her lips that the photographer said looked quite ‘serene.’ It wasn’t anywhere near pretty or appealing, but it was enough to give prospective matches a clear image of her.
The platform cleared quickly, leaving the clerk and a handful of men who seemed to be sweeping up. Brigid was ready to flag one of the men down to ask for directions.
“Miss Belham?”
With a relieved sigh, she turned in the direction of the voice and stopped short. The man approaching her didn’t bear any resemblance to the man in the photo she had received. Before she could release the handle of her bag and fish out the studio image, the man whisked off his hat and held out his hand.
“So sorry to be late, Miss. I’m Daniel Howard from Howard House.”
Her shoulders sagged in relief. He was from the boarding house where she would be staying while she had the opportunity to meet Appleton. “Hello, Mr. Howard. I wasn’t expecting you.”
He bobbed his head in response. “Mr. Winslet asked me to meet you and see you settled in the boarding house. I believe he plans to be over at the end of his work day.”
She held back her disappointment, settling a quiet expression on her face. “I understand. Thank you.”
Responding with a ready smile of his own, the other gentleman set his hat back on his head, covering the balding pate. “It’s been quite a change in Jubilee Springs, balancing out the numbers of men will take some doing, but it seems like we’ve made a good start.” With a quick signal to one of the men and a coin tossed in his direction, Mr. Howard paid for the men to hold her trunk. “George will keep an eye on your trunk until I can come back for it.” He held out a hand to Brigid to take her valise.
She gave it up gladly and noticed that he didn’t seem shocked by the weight. Still, she apologized. “I can carry the bag if you’d like, Mr. Howard.”
He shook his head and adjusted his hold on the bag. “Not a problem, Miss. I’m used to carrying quite a bit around the house.”
She smiled and stepped off the platform beside him. “It must be interesting as well, meeting people who come from different places.”
Mr. Howard turned slightly to give her a smile. “That is part of what we enjoy about running a boarding house.”
Brigid lifted the hem of her skirt and stepped over a curious looking puddle that made her shudder. When she looked back up she saw the boarding house owner giving her a curious look, looking from her eyes to the top of her hat, which due to her uncommon height was a few good inches over his head. When he saw her look back he coughed, in an uncomfortable gesture.
“Excuse me, Miss.”
She waved off his concern. “No need to apologize, most people just stare openly when they meet me.”
His face went ruddy with color. “I am sorry,” he explained, “I’m not used to seeing a woman of your height.”
Brigid lifted her hand and placed it against her neck, an unconscious gesture that always puzzled her. “One of my teachers showed me a drawn image of an animal in Africa,” she explained, “he called it a giraffe. The children agreed with him and the name stuck. The day before I left Omaha,” she let out a shaking breath, “I saw one of my former classmates. She felt it was so very humorous to remind me of the name. Everyone within earshot heard her, and the rest of the people in the street heard her laughter after that.”
Beside her, Mr. Howard paled and lowered his eyes. “I hope I didn’t make you feel uncomfortable. That wasn’t my intention.”
Brigid hurried her steps and touched him on the arm to draw his attention. They stood at the end of Telegraph Street within sight of the schoolhouse and she gave his arm a gentle squeeze before she dropped her hand back to her side, hoping he didn’t find the gesture odd.
“Mr. Howard, please, don’t worry about me. It’s been a long time since that moment, and I hope that I’ve developed a thicker skin. You weren’t mean, just stating facts. I appreciate your straight-forward manner.”
His smile broadened as he adjusted his hold on her bag. “You’re going to fit right in at Howard House, Miss Belham. You remind me quite a bit of my wife, Clara. I believe the two of you will get along quite well.”
Brigid crossed her hands over her heart, ignoring the slight twinge of pain from her ribs under her corset. “I hope so, Mr. Howard. I truly hope so.”
#
From the corner, they walked up the street, keeping the park to her right shoulder and the livery on the other. A hand walked a horse out of the barn and Brigid took an unconscious step closer to the street. Mr. Howard reached out a hand and took hold of her arm above her elbow.
“Is something amiss?”
She heard the concern in his voice and felt her cheeks flare with color. Straightening herself away from him, she swallowed and lifted her hand on a wan gesture. “Animals,” she explained, “I don't really feel all that comfortable around animals.” She continued down the street beside him taking quick looks at him sideways. “That must sound horribly silly to you.”
Swinging open the front gate of the property, Mr. Howard tried to hide his grin with the position of his head. “Well, Jubilee Springs does have its share of animals.”
Brigid tripped slightly, making a little skip in her step as she tried to find her footing. The pinch in her side grew as she followed after her host. “Even here in town?”
He stopped at the door, a friendly smile on his face. “Well, the town is likely to grow quickly now that we have more women and soon more children. But,” he paused for a moment as if he was considering his words, “we’re still bordered by the wilderness and animals are a part of that. Don't worry too much.” He shifted her bag to one hand. Reaching and for the doorknob and easily swung the door open. He gestured for her to proceed him inside. “The wild animals we tend to see in town are smaller than your bag.”
Brigid froze just inside the door, shock written across her features. “They’re that big?”
A soft laugh turned Brigid’s head.
“And that,” Mr. Howard announced in a warm tone, “would be my lovely wife, Clara.”
The woman that emerged from the hall finished wiping her hands on her apron. Turning the fabric loose she moved closer. Giving Brigid a bright smile, she held her hand out in a warm greeting. “You must be Miss Belham.” Brigid gladly took the woman’s hand and was pleased to find her hand held in a firm grip. “Pleased that you're here.” She gave her husband a thoughtful look. “I finished cleaning the room at the top of the stairs. Go ahead and put Miss Belham’s things in there.”
Mr. Howard gave his wife a mischievous smile. “And what pray tell, will you and Miss Belham be doing while I'm breaking my back with her things?”
Brigid froze for a moment, her eyes focusing on his face, struggling for something to say, an apology of sorts.
Clara touched Brigid's arm with one hand and waved the other at her husband. “Don't listen to him,” Clara sighed, “he's just hinting at all the work I make him do because he thinks I’ll let him have a piece of cake after supper.” She drew in a breath. “Which he may still get if he stops grumping around and gets your things up to your room.” She turned back to Brigid with a soft conspirational tone. “I will show you where you can freshen up a bit. Then we’ll get in trouble before he returns with your trunk.”
Giving his wife an indulgent smile, Mr. Howard started up the stairs.
“Now, you'll come along with me, my dear. By supper I’ll know everything there is to know about you and we’ll be fast friends.”
Brigid followed along, swept up with the other woman’s gentle enthusiasm. She felt some of the knots in her stomach begin to unravel and she felt her own hopeful nature rising amidst the uncertainty that had held her in its grips since her father’s surprise engagement. 

**Tomorrow is my regular Blogging Day... you'll learn more about my love of chickens.. :D And my book Home to Roost will have changed to its 'Regular Price' of $1.99 - See you tomorrow!!**


Love - Romance - Books

Aren't they all the same thing?

Oh, I sure hope so! 

I've been reading romance books for what seems like forever. When I was a teen, the days that I wasn't in dance class after school I'd go to the mall to wait for my mom to finish work for the day and my haunt of choice... Waldenbooks. (I think I just showed my age there.)

Whether it was Scottish Lairds, Medieval Knights, Regency Gents, Rough and Tumble Cowboys, or handsome modern Heroes, I loved them all! There was always another hero and heroine to follow through page after page of breathless love!

I really hope that my readers will enjoy some of the same thrills as discover characters to love between the pages of my books.

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