At the peak of her Hollywood career, actress Sass Brandt has everything she could want until a haunting novel about an Irishwoman torn between husband and secret lover touches her heart. She vows to find the man behind the story and bring it to the screen. But Shay Collier is holed up in a cabin in the Alaska wilderness trying to forget the book he wrote and the betrayal that shattered his heart. When beautiful, reckless Sass appears she arouses desires in him that Shay thought were long dead. No longer able to deny themselves, they embark on a journey that will turn their dream into a nightmare and demand more than either might be able to give.
Targeted Age Group:: adult audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 2 – PG
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I live in Los Angeles and have a passing relationship with Hollywood. I've always been intrigued by the difference between making a movie and writing a book. A movie has many fingers in the pie; a book is intensely personal and a lonely endeavor. I was fascinated by what happens when those two creative sensibilities collide.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Shay is the love of my life. He is strong and sensitive. He is determined and protective. I drew on inspiration from the three men in my life: my husband and my grown sons. But in the end, Shay is his own man and I was thrilled to live with him through the writing of this book. Sass had to be who she was:single-minded but unflinching in the face of Shay's demons. I think they are perfect together because that is how they are individually strong.
With a grunt he pushed himself up and shook off the snow. Expertly he folded the silver survival blanket and hoisted his pack, sorry that he wasn't returning home with a rabbit or two for supper. Not that he was at all sure hunting had been on his mind when he left early that morning. He'd simply needed to get out of the place, away from that lingering scent of perfume that had no place in any home of his. Female things. Never again. Well, now his head was clear, of that he was sure. Home he would go to do the things he did every day: to ignore the typewriter and the words that flew through his head, to scorn the work that called to him with more strength each day. He would chop some wood and fix the pump. He would…
Funny, wasn't it? He was running out of things he would do. God save him from time and himself.
Adjusting his pack, Shay began to walk. He left behind his thoughts, or lost them along the way, as he pushed through the forest in the cold and snow. Either way, he didn't care where they went so long as they didn't go with him. Twenty minutes later he was home, throwing his pack in the house before heading to the woodpile. Damn the repairs. A roarin' fire was just what he needed. That and a cup of ale and—
"Jesus, Mary and Joseph."
There, behind the wood, curled tightly into herself, her copper-colored hair covering her face, her body half covered by snow, lay Sass Brandt. In the blink of an eye he had her in his arms. Her hair fell away from her face and he saw it was pale as the snow that fell upon it, except for her lips. Those were tinged the color of azure, the clear and precise tint on death's calling card. Shay Collier hesitated no longer than it would take a leprechaun to twinkle out of sight when stumbled upon. He was upon her, arms scooping her up roughly in his amazement and terror.
Clutching her to him he carried Sass to the porch, he kicked open the door, spinning through it into the cabin before it slammed shut behind. Without a thought he did what he had to. Sass was laid on the couch, a blanket tucked around her haphazardly while he worked. The fire was stoked and piled with dry wood until it flamed enough to warm the room. Out Shay went again into the snow to bring in more wood, not giving Sass a thought until the fire was blazing. When it was done he turned to her and pulled off the blanket. Sass moaned, half turned but he kept her still, putting his hands on her shoulders. The fire blazed, illuminating her chalk-white face so eerily it frightened him to gaze upon it.
Without care he stripped off her clothes: the wet coat, the sweater and jeans, her boots and socks until she was almost naked. Quickly Shay looked at her, seeing only what he needed to see. Her feet were bad but not beyond hope, her fingers had fared a bit better. Frostbite had not claimed her extremities, but she must be treated properly lest he do more harm than good.
Kneeling at her feet Shay lay the blanket back over her and took each foot in his hands, massaging and kneading them slowly so that her blood flow would come back naturally, gently to warm her. He was thankful she wasn't awake, for certainly this would be painful, and Shay knew he couldn't stand to see anguish in those eyes of hers.
He worked Sass's fingers in the same way. She cried out and tried to jerk her damaged hands away, unaware he was trying to help her, lost as she was in the deep sleep of hypothermia. Surprised, Shay pulled back gently, looking up from his work, his eyes lingering self-indulgently on her face. Mother Mary she was beautiful. Too beautiful. Even more so than she whom he had loved… once… so long ago….
Unable to help himself Shay abandoned his work. Her fingers were warming, the color coming back slowly as her blood began to flow once more. Tears in his eyes, memories overflowing the tight boundaries he had built for them, Shay tucked the blanket under her chin, unable to look at such beauty, unable to be reminded of death for fear he would seek it himself.
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