About The Rose Legacy (released Aug. 2000 & Nov. 2009):
If he wants her, let him come and prove it.... Fleeing her idyllic home in Sonoma, California, Carina Maria DiGratia journeys to the mining town of Crystal, Colorado. Clinging to hopes of a new life, she finds reality has a harsh welcome for her. Overrun with men seeking their fortune and women bound by circumstance, the town hosts both dreams and nightmares, with little surety for tomorrow. But at least here Carina is far from the betrayal that still pierces her heart. Early on, two men vie for her trust, but neither is what he seems. Will Carina discern the truth and confront the turmoil hidden in her own heart in time to prevent tragedy?
Excerpt from The Rose Legacy:
When he made it into Crystal late that afternoon, the buzz of the town was well under way, it being Friday. Quillan had hoped to beat the weekend madness, but the extra day in Denver had cost him. Now it would take much longer to make the deliveries. Fighting his way through the crowds, he stopped first at Ormsby's Drugstore with the extracts and tinctures. He made a handsome profit on that load, having finagled items hard to come by at the best of times. But Ormsby could afford it. Doc Felden would get the one precious box of smallpox vaccine, no extra charge.
He headed next for MacDonald's Sampling Works. He had a scale for them, as theirs had not been weighing accurately. He knew Gavin MacDonald was too Scotch to order a new scale, but Quillan would make the man believe it a bargain and see it put to use before someone got shot. A bad scale was unforgivable in these parts.
In just over two hours he had all but the last of his deliveries made and the money collected. The last was Miss DiGratia's. The gunsmith had thrown in a leather shoulder holster, though Quillan doubted Miss DiGratia would wear it. Nevertheless, it was wrapped in the package with the gun, and he took it from beneath the box. He made his way on foot through the incoming miners to Drake Road.
Mae Dixon watched him from the porch like a well-fed cat. "Well, well. Quillan."
"Hello, Mae. I have a delivery for Miss DiGratia."
Her violet eyes took on a decidedly feline glee. "You can leave it at the desk."
Quillan cocked his head. "How would I get payment?"
"She can leave it at the desk."
He took the steps up. The cool evening air ruffled the hair on his neck. "All right."
"Then again..." Mae nodded to the street. "You could hold still a moment."
Quillan turned as Carina DiGratia lifted her skirt and stepped off the end of the boardwalk. He saw only a flash of booted ankle, enough to confirm that her leg bones were as delicate as the rest of her. He noted the blue denim skirt they'd rescued from the mountain and a fresh white blouse with a lacy ruffle like moth's wings down the front. Was it the torn and ragged blouse she'd scavenged? If so, she'd done admirably by it.
She carried herself sprightly enough, unaware of an audience. He'd wager she had money, or at least she'd come from it. She didn't look the hard-luck kind, come to find riches in the Rockies. Especially not by the means most women found it.
He was surprised now that he could have thought so. There was an air of quality he'd missed on the road, a certain strength of spirit and breeding. She was like the dainty, dark Morgan horse he'd seen in Golden, small-boned and light-footed. If he pressed his imagination, he'd see her prance and bob her head as that filly had.
But now she looked up and saw him, dark eyes suddenly large. He wished she wouldn't startle so every time they met. It made him feel less than respectable. He tipped his hat. "Miss DiGratia."
Excerpt used with permission. All rights reserved.
Quillan does the right thing in perpetuity but the problem is, it often doesn't appear to be the right thing until much later. He saves a lot of lives and makes the world a better place because he's in it, despite the lie he believes about himself and who he is.
Wounded Score:Heroes don't come any more wounded than Quillan Shepard. There's an answer behind the reason he says Shepard isn't his name. He's "borrowing" it as he says and when you learn why and how as a reader, have tissues handy. There is a sleeper villain in this novel and when I learned why Quillan is so against God and emotionally wrecked, I was surprised he survived at all. My heart broke because even though this is fiction, I know there are real individuals who carry his same burden. A strong reminder that not everyone who says "Lord, Lord" are actually FOLLOWING the Lord.
Softie Score:Quillan has a soft-underbelly but it makes very rare appearances. Mostly with his good friend and the man's dog. There's a tender heart inside Quillan, it's just been battered nearly into oblivion, and Carina, God bless her, takes a while to figure that out.
Stupid Strikes:There were a few times I wanted to just knock the man upside the head and go "Really, Quillan? Really? Who. Does. That???" Especially when he asks Carina one morning if she is praying for deliverance. (Old readers - don't spoil it for the new readers in the comments. Just know that I was so mad at him in that scene too.)
Swoon Score:I love Quillan. I truly do, but he isn't going to come in orange heads blazing when he makes his first appearance. Quite the opposite actually, so be prepared for that. I told the author Kristen Heitzmann that after the scene where Quillan and Carina meet I was wondering what on earth possessed someone to think this hero was FHF-worthy. But I'm glad I kept reading because he is. He stole my heart. His pain and fears and hopes were mine. His triumphs, his failures, his grief, both remembered and endured together on the page, were mine. While I didn't always agree with him, I could understand him. And the more I understood him, the more I grew to love him. Like Carina.
About the author:Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of two historical series as well as ten contemporary romantic and psychological suspense novels, including The Still of Night, nominated for the Colorado Book Award; The Tender Vine, a Christy Award finalist; and the Christy Award-winning Secrets.
She lives in the Colorado Rocky Mountain foothills with her husband Jim and sundry family members and pets.
Visit her at http://www.kristenheitzmannbooks.com/
The FHF exclusive directly from the author:Kristen's schedule didn't allow for our usual FHF exclusive but I so appreciate her taking the time to let us feature Quillan. I know you do too so show her some hero-girl love in the comments!
The giveaways:One copy, print or ebook (winner's choice) of The Rose Legacy, Diamond of the Rockies Book 1
Just tell me in the comments you'd like to be entered in the book drawing.
One $10 gift card to Amazon or Barnes & Noble for those who have already read and enjoyed The Rose Legacy. To be entered in the gift card drawing, leave the name of a character from the novel not mentioned in the feature or previously in the comments.
Both drawings will happen April 30th and for me to find you, be sure you leave your e-mail address in a spam-fighting format like cleartheroad (at) Crystal (dot) com