Today we’re so please to welcome author Mickie B. Ashling to TNA, on the tour for her new novel Mayon. Enjoy this exclusive excerpt, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter Mickie’s giveaway:
Three winners will win a DSP Publications gift certificate OR one of two e-copies of Mayon. Contest open internationally. Must be 18 or older to enter.
Once again, I’d like to thank The Novel Approach for hosting my blog tour visit and giving me the opportunity to share an exclusive excerpt of my latest release, Mayon. This historical novel was originally published by Dreamspinner Press in 2012. In this second edition that releases tomorrow, published under the imprint of DSP Publications, you can expect some additional content in the form of a prologue as well as a thorough reedit. The year is 1946 and the setting is the Philippines, a country I called my home for thirty years. The beautiful new cover was created by Catt Ford. Kudos to J for the consistent good work in organizing all my blog tours.
ABOUT MAYON: The Philippines, 1946
After being discharged from the Marines, John Buchanan is offered a position as overseer for plantation owner Ignacio Saenz. The offer is unexpected, considering he knows nothing about coconut farming, but the presence of Mount Mayon, an active volcano within sight of the property, tips the scales in Ignacio’s favor. Finally John has a chance to put his lifelong passion for vulcanology into practice.
Gregorio Delgado, the current overseer, takes exception to this turn of events. He views John as an interloper and Ignacio’s offer as a thinly disguised excuse to marry off one of his six daughters. What neither of them expects is the powerful physical attraction that simmers between them. Could John be a kindred spirit, or is he just using Gregorio for his knowledge of farming to ingratiate himself with his potential father-in-law?
As John and Gregorio begin a tour of the haciendas, John discovers he has far more in common with his new acquaintance than he thought possible. Torn between honor and desire, John struggles to define who he is and what Gregorio could mean to him. Like the unpredictable volcano, equal parts beauty and danger, Gregorio becomes an obsession that could erupt at any minute and destroy them both.
EXCERPT: John had never been a glutton for sleep and could function remarkably well on five hours. He didn’t need any transition time either. Thanks to his years in the military, he was poised for action as soon as he opened his eyes. That morning, though, he lay in bed for a few more minutes, luxuriating in the comfort of the best mattress he’d slept on since the war started. The four-poster was raised four feet off the floor, higher than normal, to catch a direct breeze as it blew in from the open windows. Mount Mayon, seen through the gauzy mosquito net, was another reason to linger. If he turned his head just so, he could see the symmetrically perfect outline through the early-morning mist.
A cockroach crawled across the white netting, obstructing his vision for a second until he flicked it off with his fingers. These were not standard American bugs. They were twice as large, flew, and actually bit you if they were hungry. He shuddered in revulsion, remembering the first time he’d seen one. He’d been warned, of course, but hadn’t believed they were capable of flight until he’d become a human landing strip. Hordes of mosquitoes had also feasted on his tender flesh like cannibals. It was no wonder the Marines drummed in the importance of taking the tiny yellow pills to ward off malaria. The Atabrine tasted vile, but it actually kept the disease away, as did the mosquito nets when they had a chance to use them.
He rolled over on his back and debated having a cigarette before getting into the shower. Something niggled at the back of his brain. Closing his eyes for a second, he tried to conjure up last night’s dream. The details were fuzzy, but the images of writhing bodies were crystal clear. So clear he could feel his body responding, and he pressed a pillow against his groin in an effort to quell the natural reaction. He wasn’t prone to erotic dreams and took pride in his ability to quash his desires as easily as he did the many insects surrounding him. John could only deduce that alcohol and the excitement of a new surrounding had brought on these unexpected feelings. An ice-cold shower would do wonders for his overstimulated body.
Grunting in frustration, he punched his pillow a few times to try to get comfortable. It was filled with kapok and was not as malleable as goose down, but he finally found the right position so he could resume his daydreaming. Glancing upward, he spied the inevitable lizards crawling along the high ceilings. They helped keep the ecological balance by subsisting on mosquitoes, so it seemed only right to let them roam freely to forage at will. The top of each wall had about a foot of latticework, allowing air and voices to travel from one room to the next. Before the war, ceiling fans provided cooler air, but now, they had to rely on nature and strategically placed windows.
The Manila Electric Company was working furiously to restore power throughout most of Luzon, but like everything else, it was bound by the constraints of the economy. The citizens who could afford to buy generators and the fuel to power them had at least one or two. The putt-putt-putt of the small machines had become as familiar as the clicking sounds of cicadas. John recalled last night’s dinner and realized the room had been illuminated by bulbs and not candles. He’d obviously tuned out the sounds making it all possible.
Sighing, he pushed aside the netting and climbed out of bed. A few stretching exercises and thirty push-ups were a part of his morning ritual, and when he’d finished, John stood by the open window and had a cigarette before hunting down the bathroom. The water was ice cold, as he’d expected, so he didn’t dawdle. He was just grateful water came out of a tap and he had the privacy in which to enjoy it.
Daisy and two of her sisters were already seated at the dining room table while housemaids circulated the room and poured coffee and hot chocolate as needed.
“Good morning,” John said, pulling out a chair.
“Morning, John,” the girls chorused cheerfully.
John smiled at the trio in front of him. “How’s everyone this fine morning?”
“Good,” Daisy replied. “Do you drink coffee?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Fely,” she said, addressing the closest servant and pointing at John’s cup. He studied the three women in front of him. Daisy’s chestnut-brown hair was twisted on her head in a messy knot, and soft tendrils fell around her face, making her look quite fetching. Their shared genetics were easily discernible in the heavy-lidded eyes fringed with curly eyelashes, which they batted at him in varying degrees. He felt like a pair of new shoes on display, and right then, anything new was highly coveted. It was an odd situation, to say the least.
A week before he was just another GI wondering what awaited him back home. Marriage had been the furthest thing from his mind, and yet, here he was, surrounded by eligible women in need of mates. Was this really what he wanted? He’d never entertained the idea of matrimony while he was stateside; he’d been too young, and when the war broke out, all thoughts of starting a family had been abandoned.
By agreeing to take the job of overseer, wasn’t he tacitly in league with Ignacio’s matchmaking scheme? Did it all boil down to economics and convenience? Where was the passion that generated sonnets and melodramatic operas? There was no stirring in his groin when he looked at the women who were eyeing him with interest. If only one of them could elicit that erotic spark he’d felt in his dream the night before, there would be no question as to the rightness of this proposition.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.
By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and she’s never looked back.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
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