EXCERPT and GIVEAWAY
by Jennie Davenport
This release day book blitz and giveaway for Hemlock Veils is brought to you by YA Bound Book Tours.
When Elizabeth Ashton escapes her damaging city life and finds herself in the remote town of Hemlock Veils, Oregon, she is smitten by its quaint mystery; but the surrounding forest holds an enchantment she didn’t think existed, and worse, a most terrifying monster. The town claims it vicious and evil, but Elizabeth suspects something is amiss. Even with its enormous, hairy frame, gruesome claws, and knifelike teeth, the monster’s eyes speak to her: wolf-like and ringed with gold, yet holding an awareness that can only be human. That’s when Elizabeth knows she is the only one who can see the struggling soul trapped inside, the soul to which she is moved.
Secretly, Elizabeth befriends the beast at night, discovering there’s more to his story and that the rising of the sun transforms him into a human more complex than his beastly self. Elizabeth eventually learns that his curse is unlike any other and that a single murderous act is all that stands between him and his freedom. Though love is not enough to break his curse, it may be the only means by which the unimaginable can be done: sacrifice a beauty for the beast.
Elizabeth couldn’t swallow. Did she stand in one of the places her father used to speak of—a place where magic existed?
“It?” she asked Eustace. “What will be curious of visitors?”
“The beast, Ms. Ashton.” Eustace turned and pulled her along, but she hardly felt there at all. Since her time as a teen when she’d learned life handed out nothing but disappointments and responsibilities, she’d been skeptical of her father’s fairy tales. She was a realist. She knew them for what they were: children’s stories.
Yet here she was, almost thirty and more seasoned than most, and she couldn’t shake the chill in her spine. A beast? She had to have misunderstood.
He traveled fast, too fast, and she nearly tripped. Taking a deep breath, she ripped her arm from his grasp and stopped. She could no longer see the high-way through the trees behind them, even when the wide beam of his spotlight shone behind her. He stared at her as though she was the crazy one. “What do you mean, Mr. Bathgate?” she said through shallow breaths. Her hood had fallen in their short journey and her hair was soaked through. “You mean an animal, right? Like a wolf?”
He chuckled, spitting to the side. “Would’ve said wolf if I meant wolf. Not that there aren’t wolves in these parts, but the monster keeps most those buggers away. It’s not the wolves you need to worry about. And the longer we stand around, the more vulnerable we become.”
She pulled her wrist away when he reached for it again. “Not another foot unless you tell me what the hell you’re talking about.”
“You’re actually telling me you’ve never heard? I thought when you said you knew the area, you were from somewhere around here. But you’re not, are you, Ms. Ashton?”
“California. I know only what I’ve studied on maps.”
He straightened, eyeing her with a look she didn’t understand. Was he second-guessing his decision to help her?
“That explains it then. I should have known, since no local would wander alone on Mt. Hood Highway, not between Rhododendron and Government Camp.” He stepped closer, lowering his voice. “Have you heard legends about these forests, Ms. Ashton?”
She recoiled. “Actually … ” Her tongue tripped over her words. “My father came here a lot, told me legends, but … they’re just legends, Mr. Bathgate.”
“If you’re Eustace, I’m Beth.”
“How are legends born, Beth?” He lifted his brow, as though he knew her heart would sink at his word choice.
And it did. Legends are born from flecks of truth, her father used to say. But Eustace and her late father sharing the same philosophy didn’t make the philosophy any saner.
I'll begin by saying that this is normally NOT my genre. I'm a convicted Sci-Fi connoisseur and peruser of pop academia. My last foray into the realm of fantasy novels was the Harry Potter series so it's been eight plus years ... and that was still a step or two away from what I was about to dive into. This was a fantasy romance, billed as a modern retelling of something akin to 'Beauty and the Beast'. Needless to say, it wasn't something that I would normally pick off the shelves at the local Barnes and Noble.
But, in this case, I know the author personally and respect her talent and tenacity - let's face it folks - breaking into the publishing world isn't a pleasant tea on a Sunday afternoon. You're much more likely to develop a Stockholm-syndrome-like relationship with your mountain of rejection slips than to ever see your countless hours of research, character constructs, plot points, editing, re-editing, re-re-editing, proofreading, your hopes and dreams see the light of a best-seller shelf. So with all of this in mind, I jumped headlong into the world of Hemlock Veils, a novel by Jennie Davenport.
The novel opens with the protagonist, a woman named Elizabeth Ashton recently from Southern California, being thrust into some pretty gritty circumstances. Right away you'll understand that this is certainly not the Disney-esque story that you grew up with or told your little girls at bed time. Each of the characters in Davenport's book are people you KNOW. In fact I discovered that this was a sincerely genuine character-driven story. The plot almost becomes incidental to the tapestry of personal narratives woven together as Elizabeth introduces a storm of change upon the little town that, until her arrival, was steeped in a comfortable rut of near stultifying routine. Davenport forces each of her characters to face themselves - the best and worst parts of themselves. She creates a 'magic mirror' of sorts in Elizabeth's character, even as Elizabeth is forced to contend with her own 'beasts'.
The town itself is a character in this story, with a mysterious past, a present veiled in hierarchical obtuseness, and a future as uncertain as Elizabeth's own - partly because of the cascade of events she sets in motion. Each street has a story, every building has a voice. And the forest that surrounds the tiny hamlet is a stark reminder that there are lines not to be crossed.
Like the classic tale, this is a story about challenging perception; a story that will ask you to look beyond what the senses tell you - and then look farther still. But more than that, this is a story that will ask you to accept - even love - people; not in spite of their imperfections, but even because of them. It's a tale that will challenge what you think you know about love, patience, forgiveness, and commitment.
In the end, I was a convicted Sci-Fi reader finding myself loath to say farewell to the folks in Hemlock Veils. Their stories had resonated with me and left me wondering if I could cultivate the courage to look beyond the horizon of my limited line of sight.
Thank you Jennie Davenport for a truly enjoyable and touching experience.
About the Author
Though Jennie Davenport was raised throughout the Midwest, she now lives in the little desert mining town of Bagdad, Arizona, where six guys beg for her constant attention: a husband, three young, blond sons, a German shepherd with a name much mightier than his disposition (Zeus), and a black cat named Mouse. When she isn’t trying to run her home with as little casualties as possible, Jennie loves snuggling with her family, laughing with her friends, delving into brilliant entertainment of any vein, and playing outside. Despite the way being a writer is in her blood, and the wheels of her writerly mind are constantly turning, Jennie likes to think that in another life, she would have been a Broadway star. Or an American Idol finalist.
Jennie lives for the fall, and not just because of her adoration for the NFL (Go Broncos!). In her perfect world, she would have the springs, summers, and falls of Colorado, and the winters of Arizona - someplace where the climate and weather would allow her to go on a trail run all year round. But even though she prefers the pines and mountains, she is a devoted fan of all nature, from sandy beaches to woodsy cabins, and all are her greatest inspiration. She believes nature is one of the best healing remedies, with a magic all its own.
Jennie’s passion for writing is the way she survives, and is as vital to her sanity as oxygen, caffeine, food, and music. Even before she began writing it, well-told, original, and character-driven romance was always her weak spot. Add the paranormal or magical realism element and she may never make it back to reality.
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