Saturday, June 16, 2012

Dawn at Birch Crossing Launch Party & Giveaway

Sometimes, you work and bleed and sweat and grind and lay your very soul on the earth in an attempt to follow your dreams, to get through a project, or even just make it through the day.

Sometimes, you feel like you have no more resources left in your soul to keep going another moment, another second.

And yet you keep going and you keep trying, because you refuse to face the alternative, which is to give up. You somehow, someway, manage to keep a hold of that thin thread of faith that you will make it, that things will come together.

Day after day you keep slogging forward... And then...magic happens.

For me, Dawn at Birch Crossing was that magic. When I wrote Dawn at Birch Crossing, I was emerging from a very difficult time in my life. I'd been stripped raw of all my defenses, and my heart was so full intense emotions that I couldn't protect myself from them: despair, hope, a broken heart, a second chance at life, love, faith... just so many intense feelings consuming me. The understanding of what it felt like to be at rock bottom, and then the beauty of finding your way back into light, and love and sunshine.

The depths of emotions that were spilling through me came alive in the characters of this story. I lived and breathed Clare and Griffin's joys, their heartache, their triumphs, and their paths back to a second chance at love and life. Even though I wrote this book, I still cry when I read it, because it is so beautiful in the path that it takes these characters on. I truly believe this is the most beautiful, most heartfelt, most passionate love story I've ever written, and I can't even express how powerful it is for me to finally see it on the shelves. I'm so excited for others to share in Clare & Griffin's journey, and to have it touch their hearts the way it has touched mine.The story is so uplifting, that I hope that it will give readers the same sense of hope that it gave me when I was writing it. There CAN be a happy ending, no matter how tough things are!

To celebrate the release of Dawn at Birch Crossing, I'm having a party with giveaways! Info is below, so keep on reading! 

The moment his ex-wife took his daughter and walked out, Griffin Friesé lost everything that mattered to him. After two years of agonizing failure to reconnect with his daughter, he's heading to Birch Crossing to find her. Unfortunately for Griffin, he arrives to find the town has rallied against him to protect their own. His only ally is a single mom whose warmth and determination just might break through the scars on his heart.

Since the day she became an eighteen-year-old widow with an infant, Clare Gray's only goal has been to provide for her daughter. She has worked so hard to be strong, and the last thing she can afford is to open her heart to an outsider who will soon be leaving town. But when Griffin helps save her daughter's life in a storm, an unbreakable connection is formed between Clare and the tormented business mogul.

For these two single parents, love is the last thing they are looking for, but in Birch Crossing, love always seems to find a way.

Here is a sneak peek, for an inside look at Clare and Griffin's powerful story. 

Ducking her head against the raging storm, Clare hugged herself while she watched the huge black pickup truck turn its headlights onto the steep hillside. She was freezing, and her muscles wouldn't stop shaking. She was so worried about Katie, she could barely think, and she had no idea what this stranger was going to do. Something. Anything. Please.

The truck lurched toward the hill, and she realized suddenly that he was going to drive straight up the embankment in an attempt to go above the roots and around the fallen tree that was blocking the road. But that was crazy! The mountain was way too steep. He was going to flip his truck!

Memories assaulted her, visions of when her husband had died, and she screamed, racing toward him and waving her arms. "No, don't! Stop!"

But the truck plowed up the side of the hill, its wheels spewing mud as it fought for traction in the rain-soaked earth. She stopped, horror recoiling through her as the truck turned and skidded parallel across the hill, the left side of his truck reaching far too high up the slippery slope. Her stomach retched as she saw the truck tip further and further.

The truck was at such an extreme angle, she could see the roof now. A feathered angel was painted beneath the flood lights. An angel? What was a man like him doing with an angel on his truck?

The truck was almost vertical now. There was no way it could stay upright. It was going to flip. Crash into the tree. Careen across the road. Catapult off the cliff. He would die right in front of her. Oh, God, he would die.

But somehow, by a miracle that she couldn't comprehend, the truck kept struggling forward, all four wheels still gripping the earth.

The truck was above the roots now. Was he going to make it? Please let him make it—

The wheels slipped, and the truck dropped several yards down toward the roots. "No!" She took a useless, powerless step as the tires caught on the roots. The tires spun out in the mud, and the roots ripped across the side of the vehicle with a furious scream.

"Go," she shouted, clenching her firsts. "Go!"

He gunned the engine, and suddenly the tires caught. The truck leapt forward, careening sideways across the hill, skidding back and forth as the mud spewed. He made it past the tree, and then the truck plowed back down toward the road, sliding and rolling as he fought for control.

Clare held her hand over her mouth, terrified that at any moment one of his tires would catch on a root and he'd flip. "Please make it, please make it, please make it," she whispered over and over again.

The truck bounced high over a gully, and she gasped when it flew up so high she could see the undercarriage. Then somehow, someway, he wrested the truck back to four wheels, spun out into the road and stopped, its wipers pounding furiously against the rain as the floodlights poured hope into the night.

Oh, dear God. He'd made it. He hadn't died.

Clare gripped her chest against the tightness in her lungs. Her hands were shaking, her legs were weak. She needed to sit down. To recover.

But there was no time. The driver's door opened and out he stepped. Standing behind the range of his floodlights, he was silhouetted against the darkness, his shoulders so wide and dominating he looked like the dark earth itself had brought him to life.

Something inside her leapt with hope at the sight of him, at the sheer, raw strength of his body as he came toward her. This man, this stranger, he was enough. He could help her. Sudden tears burned in her eyes as she finally realized she didn't have to fight this battle by herself.

He held up his hand to tell her to stay, then he slogged over to the front of his truck. He hooked something to the winch, then headed over to the tree. The trunk came almost to his chest, but he locked his grip around a wet branch for leverage, and then vaulted over with effortless grace, landing in the mud with a splash. "Come here," he shouted over the wind.

Clare ran across the muck toward him, stumbling in the slippery footing. "You're crazy!" she shouted, shielding her eyes against the bright floodlights from his truck. But God, she'd never been so happy to see crazy in her life.

"Probably," he yelled back, flashing her a cheeky grin. His perfect white teeth seemed to light up his face, a cheerful confident smile that felt so incongruous in the raging storm and daunting circumstances.

But his cockiness eased her panic, and that was such a gift. It made her able to at least think rationally. She would take all the positive vibes she could get right now.

He held up a nylon harness that was hooked to the steel cord attached to his truck. "If the tree goes over, this will keep you from going over."

She wiped the rain out of her eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"We still have to get you over the tree, and I don't want you climbing it unprotected. Never thought I'd actually be using this stuff. I had it just out of habit." He dropped the harness over her head and began strapping her in with efficient, confident movements. His hands brushed her breasts as he buckled her in, but he didn't seem to notice.

She sure did.

It was the first time a man's hands had touched her breasts in about fifteen years, and it was an unexpected jolt. Something tightened in her belly. Desire? Attraction? An awareness of the fact she was a woman? Dear God, what was wrong with her? She didn't have time for that. Not tonight, and not in her life. But she couldn't take her gaze off his strong jaw and dark eyes as he focused intently on the harness he was strapping around her.

"I'm taking you across to my truck," he said, "and then we're going to get your daughter and the others."

"We are?" She couldn't stop the sudden flood of tears. "You're going to help me get them?"

He nodded as he snapped the final buckle. "Yeah. I gotta get into heaven somehow, and this might do it."

"Thank you!" She threw herself at him and wrapped her arms around him, clinging to her savior. She had no idea who he was, but he'd just successfully navigated a sheer mud cliff for her and her daughter, and she would so take that gift right now.

For an instant, he froze, and she felt his hard body start to pull away. Then suddenly, in a shift so subtle she didn't even see it happen, his body relaxed and his arms went around her, locking her down in an embrace so powerful she felt like the world had just stopped. She felt like the rain had ceased and the wind had quieted, buffeted aside by the strength and power of his body.

"It's going to be okay." His voice was low and reassuring in her ear, his lips brushing against her as he spoke. "She's going to be fine."

Crushed against this stranger's body, protected by his arms, soothed by the utter confidence in his voice, the terror that had been stalking her finally eased away. "Thank you," she whispered.

"You're welcome."

There was a hint of emotion in his voice, and she pulled back far enough to look at him. His eyes were dark, so dark she couldn't tell if they were brown or black, but she could see the torment in his expression. His jaw was angular, and his face was shadowed by the floodlights. He was a man with weight in his heart. She felt it right away. Instinctively, she laid a hand on his cheek. "You're a gift."

He flashed another smile, and for a split second, he put his hand over hers, holding it to his whiskered cheek as if she were some angel of mercy come to give him relief. Her throat thickened, and for a moment, everything else vanished. It was just them, drenched and cold on a windy mountain road, the only warmth was their hands, clasped together against his cheek.

His eyes darkened, then he cleared his throat suddenly and released her hand, jerking her back to the present. "Wait until you see whether I can pull it off," he said, his voice low and rough, sending chills of awareness rippling down her spine. "Then you can reevaluate that compliment." He tugged on the harness. "Ready?"

She gripped the cold nylon, suddenly nervous. Was she edgy because she was about to climb over a tree that could careen into the gully while she was on it, or was it due to intensity of the sudden heat between them? God, she hoped it was the first one. Being a wimp was so much less dangerous than noticing a man like him. "Aren't you wearing one?"

He quirked a smile at her, a jaunty grin that melted one more piece of her thundering heart. "I only have one, and ladies always get first dibs. Besides, I'm a good climber. If the tree takes me over, I'll find my way back up. Always do." He set his foot on a lower branch and patted his knee. "A one-of-a-kind step ladder. Hop up, Ms.—?" He paused, leaving the question hovering in the storm.

"Clare." She set her muddy boot on his knee, and she grimaced apologetically when the mud glopped all over his jeans. "Clare Gray." She grabbed a branch and looked at him. "And you are?"

"Griffin Friesé." He set his hand on her hip to steady her, his grip strong and solid. "Let's go save some kids, shall we?"

What is the greatest romance you've ever read about or seen? A movie? A book? Your grandparents? To celebrate the release of Dawn at Birch Crossing, I'm giving away at least three free books to winners selected from the comments. For every twenty comments (on any topic), I will add one more prize to the pot, so pass the word! Winners get to choose any of my books, though whether it is a print or ebook will depend on the title they choose. Contest runs until next Friday morning, when I post the winners. I will post the results on my blog next Friday, when my cover artist, Peter Davis of Los Zombios will be giving away a FREE e-book cover! So make sure you visit Something Wicked next Friday for winners and a chance at a free cover! 

Are you a paranormal romance fan? 
 Don't forget to check out my dark paranormal Primal Heat trilogy: Darkness Awakened, Darkness Seduced and Darkness Surrendered 

 The Calydons are a race of ancient immortals cursed with a dark side. Each Calydon is destined to meet his soul mate, to be so drawn to her that he is unable to resist bonding with her through the rituals of his race, but their destiny is to destroy each other and all they care about the moment their bond is complete.



Debra said...

Crap I want more!!!!! What a wonderful story so far. Can't wait to finish the rest.

Stephanie Rowe said...

Awesome, Debra!!! That is a great response! You totally made my night! :) Thanks for stopping by!

Melissa P said...

I am going to have to add this to one of my need ot get and read list. Thanks for sharing. B-)

Melissa P.


kazza16 said...

I would have to say The Notebook does it for me, however I do love Dawn at Birch Crossing too!
Griffin is troubled, but sexy as hell! What more can I say.
Good luck with the release Stephanie, I can't imagine anyone not loving this book!

butterflikisses82 said...

How do you write such amazing stories? I love it and my heart was racing the entire time I read the teaser you gave. My idea of a great love story would be hmmm I have never seen a great one in real life so I will pick either the Notebook or P.S. I Love You. Any story where love can triumph it all and 50 years from now the man still looks at his wife as if its the first time and she is the only woman in the world is true passionate love to me. I would love to see this in real life someday with me. :)

lavendersbluegreen said...

I am excited to read you in a different style of story! I will also pass along the contest. Thanks for the giveaway!

SandyG265 said...

When I get in the mood for a romantic movie I like to watch either Pretty Woman or An Officer ana a Gentleman.

Holly said...

Greatest romance for me was definitely my grandparents. Up until the day my grandmother passed away her and my grandfather held hands anywhere they went, always told each other every chance they got that they loved each other and never let anything get in the way of their love. I know their souls will reunite one day and will be as if they never were apart.

Thanks for the awesome giveaway. Your books are ALWAYS amazing! =)

Jane said...

Congrats on the release, Stephanie. "The Princess Bride" is the greatest love story to me.

Laurie said...

I'm usually more of a paranormal reader but I'm intrigued! Thanks for the excerpt!

lisa said...

I really think this is going to be a winner. This is a must read.

Becky Johnson said...

You know I <3 your books Stephanie - seriously, stalker <3 them! Hee...hee...
You are an amazing author.

I swept away by the romance of The Notebook, both novel and movie. Seriously sobbed!
Also loved 'Love Story'. I watched the movie (have yet to read the book, but I don't think I'd be able to cope with it!) when I was a young teenager. My mum sat my sister and I down and told us that we must sit and watch it. Clearly, my mum's sadistic - lol! Geez, I was broken hearted. Such a beautiful, devastating love story.

BW said...

"Gone with the Wind"! Both the movie and the book. Both are favorites of mine.

CrystalGB said...

My parents were married 60 years. Mom passed away in January and he missed her so much.

cardinole said...

Love your books and contests!!!

Laura G.
cardinoles (at) gmail (dot) com

Stephanie Rowe said...

Hi, Melissa! Thanks for stopping by!

Kazza, I've never read the Notebook. Doesn't it have a sad ending?

Hi Butterfliekisses, thanks so much for the nice words! I try to just put my emotions into the story and let it flow from there. I love your comment about how a man can look at his wife after 50 years. That is so beautiful.

Hi Lavenderbluegreen! Thanks for stopping by!

Hi Sandy, Pretty Woman is so awesome. I love that movie!

Stephanie Rowe said...

Holly, that is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

Jane, I LOVE the Princess Bride! It was one of my most favorite stories ever!

Hi Laurie, that is awesome! Some of my beta readers didn't want to beta read Birch Crossing b/c they only like paranormals, but they ended up loving it, so I'm psyched you might be willing to give it a try!

Thanks, Lisa!

Hi Becky! I love you, babe! Thanks for stopping by! Love Story totally made me bawl. I watched it as a teenager as well.

BW, Gone with the Wind is a great one!

Stephanie Rowe said...

Crystal, that is so beautiful. Sad, but beautiful. My grandparents were married 70 years as well.

Jennifer said...

i had to add this to my books to read
i read the excrept i realy enjoyed it my fav romance would be Gone with the Wind and Pretty woman i know i have a few more favs but my brain isnt working well with the migraine this morning