Wednesday, 11 March 2015


Romance / Adventure / Suspense
Date Published: Jan 20, 2015

(Time Frame Series Book Two) 
In Book Two, Adventure-Romance author Lesley Meryn has her 'second date', a little bit of Time Travel, with the volatile yet seductive scientist Miles Sherwood. She wakes up to a spring day in 1765 Yorkshire. Miles should be there, waiting for her, but he's nowhere to be found.
Circumstances spin rapidly out of control. Someone keeps trying to kill her new Eighteenth Century companion and self-appointed protector, Mick Kenning, a handsome and hunky stableman at the New Inn. Lesley helps him to foil these clumsy, but persistent and mysterious attempts on his life.   
As the days pass, Miles remains missing. The clock is literally ticking down the days. She has less than two weeks to find him or she may be trapped in the past. Has Miles fallen victim to the very real dangers of an earlier time?
Complications multiply with the appearance of an elusive, badass, Highwayman. With a hefty price on his head, agents of the Crown have arrived at the New Inn to track him down. For Mick it's personal, he despises the Highwayman. The Highwayman, not satisfied with jewelry, and coins, stole away the woman Mick once loved.
Will Lesley find Miles in time? What has happened to him? Will Mick ever find out who wants him dead? Will he ever find outwhy?
Balancing between high adventure, sword fighting, fisticuffs, pistols, and daggers, Lesley must use her wits, imagination, and every trick from her own books to find Miles, survive the Eighteenth Century, and return to her own time. 

"Tha be alone, then?" he asked softly.
She could only stare back at him.
"Ah mean you no harm, lass, " he commented, his voice low as he gestured with the hand that held the dagger.
She licked her lips, thinking, and willing herself to speak. She tightened her grip on the dirk in her hands.
"Put down your knife," she managed to croak through teeth clenched against the pain, and her burning throat, making a slight move with the hand that held her own knife. "Then we'll talk about it."
The man tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. He regarded her again with that thoughtful gaze; then he glanced away, the corner of his mouth quirking up. He pinched the end of the blade and expertly tossed the dagger in the clearing where the knife neatly embedded itself into the ground less than a yard in front of her. Lesley swallowed and slowly lowered the dirk in her hand into the folds of her ruined gown. She looked up to him, waiting. She felt dizzy. She wondered if she could even stand.
He came forward and crouched down in front of her giving her a close look at his face. His nose would have been straight and aquiline had it not a white healed bump -- evidence it had been broken some time in the past. Full lips pressed into a line that curved slightly at the corners giving him an expression of faint amusement. Most of his long hair had pulled free of a slip of frayed black leather thong, and hung brushing his shoulders. Even in the rapidly darkening light she could see the shimmer of red and gold that highlighted his mostly chestnut hair. A three day's growth of beard stubbled his high angled cheeks. His eyes, dark amber brown, narrowed at her under arched brows. Partially hidden by a loosely tied neck cloth, a jagged, puckered scar marred the smooth line of his throat.
"Tha be a rather odd one, lass" he mused over her in a soft, hoarse voice, "Yer should not be here alone, with no escort... no one around... no coach about... Where are yer people?"
She shuddered, her body suddenly feeling cold, despite the heat of her injuries. He reached down to draw the backs of his fingers slowly, and surprisingly gently, along her paling cheeks. He pulled back as a rumble of thunder rolled over them. He glanced upward then back to her again.
"I...I..." she began, but any other words died in her throat.
"Surely tha hast someone coming f'tha?" he inquired of her. She nodded slowly, staring at him, trying to accept that this was real. All of it. He returned her frank stare, but then his eyes dipped to her exposed breasts.
Belatedly, painfully, her hand stole up to clutch the torn bodice fabric closed. She kept the other tightly around the hilt of the dirk hidden in the folds of her dress. Lesley shivered again. She could not stop trembling. She closed her eyes. Her throat burned where the other man had choked her.
"There be an inn not far off," he remarked softly. "Best to leave this place. Them two might still be lurking about. Don't reckon taking them on again if it's all t'same to tha, miss."
Another rumble of thunder rolled over them. The sky darkened even further. Lesley's mind worked slowly now. She shouldn't leave but she couldn't very well stay. Then, she realized that Miles would be following the homing transmitter which was at that moment scarpering around God only knew where in that drunken bastard's shirt.
Then she remembered something else. She moved her hand to her left ear. The sub-vocal was gone as well. She might as well have been stripped naked and left completely defenseless. Well, actually, she was.
"I c-can't! Gone..." she gasped out, nearly incoherent, gesturing haplessly in the direction the two had disappeared. She closed her eyes, gritting her teeth as much in frustration as against the pain she felt.
"Well, Ah can't very well be leaving tha here now can Ah? Tha be half naked, prob'ly hungry if Ah know t'look of it..."
He rose to his feet, and stood over her, shaking his head. He took her in, shivering and wet in the freezing north wind that swept down across the moors. Her full lips going blue but pressed together in a line of determined stubbornness. "Mad. it's mad Ah must be. Ach, do what tha will..."
But he didn't walk off. As though torn by indecision, he turned to regard her once again, oblivious to the first cold drops of rain that became a torrent within seconds.
"Please..." she managed in a croaking whisper. She struggled, trying to find her feet, swayed a few moments, but fell again onto her knees. Closing her eyes, Lesley tried again, dragging herself out of the deepening mud, against the force of the hard rain. This time, strong arms held her up and steadied her. Astonished at the touch, her eyes flew open to meet his only inches away. It gave her the queerest feeling. So he was real after all. This was all real. Too, too real.
He balanced her deftly, with a hand to her back. Lesley whimpered slightly at the pressure. He suddenly pulled back the hand at her back and held it out. A bright smear of red slashed across it, almost immediately rinsed clean by the torrent of rain. He flexed the hand, and then swept her up into his arms.
"Ah'm thinking there's more than food tha will be needing." She heard him whisper quietly into her ear, just before the dirk fell from her limp fingers, and she lost consciousness.

"Nah gawp ah missen," the driver muttered darkly.
"W-what? Are you talking to me?" Lesley stammered, confused at his sudden flash of glowering anger. What had she done wrong? What the hell was he saying?
"Yer claht'ead, Ah'll skelp yer arse!" He leaned his massive bulk over her as a huge gauntleted hand seized her by the shoulder, shook her, and then released her, tossing her backwards a few feet.
Lesley stumbled but did not fall. She stood her ground as he came to her again. He pulled back his arm to deal her a blow. When he struck out at her, she ducked out and away, and the momentum took him stumbling awkwardly past her.
When he turned to face her again, his sword was drawn, his face fixed on hers mottled with rage. He slyly glanced about the yard, to be certain that there was no one else about. Lesley felt a drop in her stomach that had little to do with her brain-pounding hangover nor the aching soreness she felt with every move. It became obvious in an instant the man was foul-tempered and a bully. But, he was slow and his movements clumsy and he was too confident in his bigger size and strength. She eyed the lethal sword as he waved it around with a distinct lack of finesse, threatening her, expecting fear to cow her before him. But, her years of training with Gilles galvanized her instincts. She knew how to protect herself.
"Is this a blood sugar problem or are you just this incredibly stupid?" Lesley commented drily as she backed off even more, her eyes flickering from side to side, looking for something she could use to defend herself. Making him angrier would actually work in her favor.
It worked.
The man gave an enraged roar, and lunged at her with the sword. Lesley spun away much as a bullfighter, and reached out with one hand for a long pole that rested against the Inn building. She flipped the pole with a flourish into en garde and when he came for her again, she parried the blow away with authority, and then twirled the pole to answer with a riposte that caught him with an audible crack on the side of his head. He staggered slightly to the side, shaking his head.
They stood there frozen, each watching the other. Dazed, he brought his hand up to the
place where Lesley had struck her blow. He stared at the smudge of blood and then snarled at her.
She broadened her stance and stood ready to defend herself again. She felt as though she were one throbbing hurt, and the only thing keeping her up, keeping her going, was the shock of adrenaline surging through her body. Fight or flight. Only this was real. She swallowed, realizing that this fight had serious consequences; she was not playing. She trusted in her years of training with Gilles. They would serve her well here. She could not lose.
"Lesley!" Mick called out and her attention was diverted momentarily as she saw Mick running from one of the smaller outbuildings. Following closely behind was a shorter, slim, dark-haired young man.
The driver took advantage of the distraction and came in again with the sword. Lesley instinctively parried with authority, returning a sharp blow to his substantial belly.
"How do you like that, you great hulking pile of shit?" Lesley spat at him. Her pain and frustration were propelling her to places she should not have been going, making her say things she should not have been saying, and doing things she should not have been doing.
Mick stopped short, and could do nothing more than watch as the huge man came in once again. Lesley sidestepped, angling the pole much as a lance, driving the end sharply up into his solar plexus, his own weight and momentum doing most of the work for her, pulling the pole from her hands. With a great surge of effort she twisted, extending a long leg to boot him in the small of the back, at the same time, wresting his sword from his grasp, disarming him as he went down.
When he rolled heavily over onto his back to face her again, she stood there above him, his own sword held raised in both her hands, pointed directly between his eyes.
"What is your name?" she asked of him softly. The man muttered something indistinct. "Your name?"
She took a step closer swinging her boot up to rest lightly on his broad barrel chest. The man's eyes grew wider as the point advanced even closer, mere inches from his eyes.
"Albert Quince," he replied in a sullen whisper.
"Listen to me well, Albert Quince, and take heed of what I say," Lesley went on quietly, pressing her boot a bit further into him for emphasis. "I think that you would do well to consider before you decide to take on someone who is so obviously smaller and weaker than yourself. For as you can see you never know just who you might be dealing with. Do I make myself clear?"
The man gawped at her in shock for a few long seconds and then glanced over to Mick, who could only stand there staring at the two of them.
"Do I make myself clear?" she asked again, softly enunciating each word. She felt as though she had taken on a character in one of her own books. She then realized that she could make good use of some of the dialogue as well.
"Aye," he grunted reluctantly.
"Good." Lesley stepped back as she re-directed the sword, driving the point into the soft ground just south of the man's crotch. "For if there be a next time, I'll make damned sure that you are qualified as a gelding."

After waiting until the coach was out of sight as well as hearing, Mick stepped out from the bushes by the side of the road. He took a long look up and then down the road and then bent down to pick up the brace of hares that had tumbled to the ground with him in the fall from the rise. Then without comment, he slung the limp animals over his shoulder and started walking in the direction of the inn.
Lesley fell in beside him, her heart still racing from what had just happened. "So? Don't you have anything to say?"
"What can Ah say? By all that is just, t'man should be dead! Tha as much as saved his life! And why ever did tha leap upon me like that, so sudden like? Tha be daft and trouble," Mick gritted out with frustration.
Lesley glanced up at him. "Why should you despise the man so much? You've as much as said that he's a stranger to you."
"Ah do and there's an end to it." He stated firmly, showing his own stubborn streak, brooking no contradiction. Scowling, he glanced briefly in the direction the highwayman had ridden.
"Perhaps...but I don't think that I should be faulted for saving a man's life. After all I just saved yours as well."
"That first shot, it came from behind us on the rise, and it was you, not me who was the target."
Mick's step faltered. He ran a hand over his face. "No..."
"Yes. Those two, whoever they are, as idiotic as they are, are very much in earnest, and
twice as persistent. You should consider yourself fortunate that they have terrible aim." Lesley paused. "You're quite certain you have no idea who would want to do you harm?"
"No, s'truth, lass." He frowned. "Dost tha think they'll try again?"
Lesley sighed, rubbing at her abused shoulder. She found herself wishing for whiskey. "Without a doubt."
What was left of the sun dropped behind a gunmetal grey cloud, and the sky darkened with breathtaking swiftness. A great curtain of rain moved over the distant moors drawing slowly but inexorably closer.
"Oh, great," Lesley muttered. "Not again. D'you think we'll get back before it reaches us?"
"P'raps," Mick replied, shrugging at the inevitable.
"Tell me Mick, do you actually enjoy being cold and wet?"
"Nay, but sometimes there's nowt t'be done, so why be grousing 'bout it?" But his pace quickened all the same. Lesley loped alongside him to keep up. She kept her eyes on the road, hoping to avoid the mud and puddles from previous rains. When she looked up he was regarding her with a frown.
"Now what? If we get wet, we get wet, okay?" She spread her hands, thinking it was about her complaining. "I just don't understand why I have to enjoy it f'god's sake."
"It doesna seem fitting that a lass should keep saving me from harm," he remarked slowly.
"But it was you who saved me to begin with. Maybe there's a reason for this, maybe we're meant to look out for each other." She stopped and tugged at his sleeve to get him to stop and look at her. "Do you believe in fate...?"
Mick halted, looking down at her, with a half smile on his lips. He glanced up, then down the road and bent down to whisper confidentially in her ear, "Ah s'pose Ah could do much worse, lass. F'all the trouble y'are."
He put out his hand in a gesture of friendship and she put hers out to take it. Their eyes met. Lesley felt her heart thudding as he took her hand and slowly pulled her closer to him. He drank her in deeply with his rich amber eyes; then they dropped to her lips as he moved in even closer to her. The pounding grew louder and louder, seemingly vibrating up her entire body.
It was then that she realized the thudding was not from her heart at all, but was coming from the ground beneath them, and when she looked up, ahead of them, the highwayman was bearing down on them, greatcoat billowing out behind him, a dark, raging apparition, with single-minded intent.
Mick and Lesley sprang apart as he approached and within seconds the highwayman was upon them, Mick and Lesley running to get out of his way. In one smooth movement, the highwayman bent down and easily hauled Lesley up and over the saddle in front of him. With Lesley struggling to free herself, he continued riding off down the road and out of Mick's sight.
The highwayman pulled his horse up sharply to an abrupt stop. Lesley, precariously balanced, slid off, luckily feet first, her weak knees buckling. He slid off just as quickly behind her and caught her in his arms before she fell to the ground. Lesley struggled with him, screaming all matter of epithets. With Mick so far away, there was no hope of a timely intervention. And she had not a glimmer of an idea what this man's intentions were. This man was bigger and stronger, meaner, and more determined than she could ever have dreamed possible.
The man managed to grasp one wrist firmly but was not able to pin down her other hand. She struck out at him, lashing viciously at his scarf-muffled face. Spurred on by the satisfying feel of a solid blow beneath the black ostrich plumed tricorne, and a grunt of surprise, she redoubled her efforts. The smoked-glass spectacles were sent flying into the shrubbery, the tricorne swept in the opposite direction and even the scarf was loosened from his face.
Lesley doubled over, pulling against him, her fingers inching down to the top of her boot to pull out her dagger. She knew from experience now that she should not hesitate to use it. She only prayed that she would not have to.
His free hand came up, easily closing around her throat. He bent in closer. Lesley willed herself to keep her wits, as she waited for him to move in even closer. But her heart was racing madly and taking a breath was painful. She knew she couldn't hold back; she had to make sure that when she struck her blow there would be no way for him to come after her. She didn't have much time.
His big hand on her throat turned her head to face him. She found herself bound up into his deadly black gaze. Her eyes followed the line of the long white scar that ran diagonally across his left cheek as her hand shifted slightly adjusting the dagger to the best angle to be driven up under his ribs and into something important. She inched it closer to his chest.
The highwayman, feeling the sharpness of the tip of the blade, froze.
She closed her eyes, steeling herself, just about to give an upward thrust when from a distance down the road, Lesley heard Mick calling her name. Lesley's eyes opened with relief. Perhaps she would not need to use the knife. The highwayman stared at her in surprise and then looked at Mick who closed the distance between them at a dead run. The highwayman tried to pull her away from the open road and into the shrubbery alongside the road. Lesley pressed the dagger more closely into his chest, but hesitated, despite herself, to complete the action.
The turning of the highwayman's head to watch Mick's approach made the already
loosened scarf drop away from his face.
Overhead, a jagged bolt of lightning flashed, crashing into the top of a nearby tree on the crags above, illuminating both their faces with white hot light, the following thunder immediate and deafening. The air bristled with electricity and the tang of ozone.
Lesley felt the suffusion of a heat of equal parts of relief, anger and desire flash over her as she gazed into the eyes of the man. A second thunderbolt of realization surged through her.
"Miles..." she whispered in shock, as the dagger fell from her limp fingers.

Elle Brookes

Elle Brookes grew up in Los Angeles, California, but lived in Jamaica for three years when she was a Peace Corps Volunteer. She moved to San Francisco and studied at the California Culinary Academy, and went on to become a private chef to a well-known L.A. based television production company.
From an early age Elle was a voracious reader of adventure stories and from elementary school through high school, she started writing her own stories of places foreign and exotic.  She studied Art History and continued writing in college, focusing on short stories. 
A dedicated and passionate traveler, Elle has explored river caves in Jamaica and Costa Rica, hiked glaciers in New Zealand and Iceland, and done dogsledding in Greenland and Iceland. She's danced a fa'a Samoan haka and slept in a fale on the island of Savai'i in Samoa, hiked in the northern mountains of Thailand along the border with Myanmar in the Golden Triangle, and in Haiti, she witnessed a white goat ceremonially sacrificed to Erzuli Freda by a powerful Houngan. For a time she did Performance Driving in Southern California, and has years of study and experience dedicated to fencing, theatrical combat, archery, and horsemanship.
Elle currently lives in the central highlands of Costa Rica with her dog Pixie, and her hedgehog, Quiller.Website:


Twitter:  @tymslyder

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