Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Book Review: Tailspin by Sandra Brown



By Kristy McCaffrey

This is the first book I've read by the very prolific Sandra Brown, and I'm looking forward to exploring more of her backlist. Be sure to jump over to her website to learn more about this lovely author.


Tailspin
by
Sandra Brown
(It's also available at all other major book sites)

Rye Mallett is a Freight Dog, a pilot who will fly in tenuous circumstances. He’s contracted to deliver a black box to a Dr. Lambert under terrible weather conditions. When he ultimately crashes, through no fault of his own, he quickly becomes embroiled in a race against time. Dr. Brynn O’Neal is after the same box, and Rye’s fate quickly becomes entangled with hers. He also falls hard for her. The entire novel takes place in a 48-hour period, but you’ll feel as if you’ve known these characters far longer. The tension is acute, the romance hot, and the stakes of the highest order—I couldn’t put it down.



Monday, February 4, 2019

The Fire Assaying Process

By Kristy McCaffrey



The fire assay method is used to determine the precious metal content of a mining sample and has been in use for thousands of years.

Assaying is the process of determining the quantity of any particular metal in an ore or alloy, especially the determination of the quantity of gold or silver.

Initially, the sample must be reduced to a powder in order to be tested. The powder is referred to as “pulp” and the scales to weigh it are called “pulp scales”. The assayer begins by running the sample through a crusher. After the initial crushing, the sample is put into a “buck board” for further pulverization under a muller that rubs the material into a finer state with a sliding motion. Harder samples are made finer using a device called a “rocker” that uses a heavier weight upon the sample being pulverized. Assayers doing a smaller volume of work might use an iron mortar and pestle, although it requires considerably more effort.

As this process unfolds, the assayer divides the sample into smaller and smaller portions until the correct sample size is achieved. After pulverization, the sample must be run through sieves of appropriate size. Any material that doesn’t pass through must be further ground down until the entire sample will pass through the sieve.

The resulting material must be carefully mixed and then stored in a container. The contents should not be shaken as this could cause the materials to begin stratifying according to their masses and it could upset the accuracy of the process.

Selected portions of the sample are placed into a scorifier, a dish that can sustain the heat of the assayer’s oven. Along with a sample of litharge (a form of lead), various chemicals are included that will help in allowing the metals to separate from the slag. The mixture is roasted in the assayer’s oven until the melted slag completely covers the lead bead that forms in the scorifier.

The sample is then poured into a cone-shaped mold, allowing the metal to form at the apex and the slag at the bottom. The metal part, or lead button, is detached from the slag and hammered into a cube with no sharp corners. The button is then melted again in a cupel, which is made of a material called bone ash. During this process, lead and other impurities are both oxidized and driven into the material of the cupel itself. A good cupel is capable of absorbing its own weight in litharge. The metal in the cupel melts, becomes smaller, and forms into a bead. The composition of this bead should be gold and silver. This bead is weighed.

The next step is called “parting”. The bead is flattened, placed in a porcelain capsule and treated with a solution of water and nitric acid. Once the reaction begins, the capsule is warmed. Silver in the bead forms a solution of silver nitrate that is carefully washed away until only gold, if any, remains. This is gently dried in the capsule and removed.

The final sample of gold is weighed, unless it’s too small, in which case it is described as a “trace” or “color”. From the weight of this bead, the assayer will calculate the gold and silver ore value per ton of ore.



In ROSEMARY, Book 11 of the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series, Rosemary is determined to keep the assay office open after the death of her husband, along with most of the men in town, in a mining accident.

***

Rosemary Brennan struggles with grief along with the other widows of Wildcat Ridge after a devastating mine accident takes the life of her husband, Jack, and many others. Forced to find a new husband or be evicted from her home by the unscrupulous mine owner, Mortimer Crane, Rosemary finds unexpected help from Jack’s friend, Miles McGinty, an ex-U.S. Deputy Marshal. Together, they’ll uncover Crane’s deceit that involved her first husband. But McGinty knows more than he’s saying, and Rosemary isn’t certain she can trust another man so soon after losing Jack. More importantly, does she dare open her heart to him?

***

In the following excerpt, Rosemary has gone into the hills in search of an old Spanish mine called The Floriana but has become lost. She stumbles across the path of two unsavory prospectors, Hector and Alvin. It’s here that she meets our hero, McGinty.

Excerpt from Rosemary
Two men rolled in the dirt, locked together like battling bull elk. Another horse stood vigil, minus its rider, who must be the man currently fighting Hector on her behalf. For a split second, she thought it might have been Priscilla’s husband, Braxton, but the man grunting and, unfortunately, losing ground to the likes of Hector, was a stranger to her.

Friend or foe, she couldn’t let Hector win.

“Freeze or I’ll shoot,” she said loudly.

Both men stopped and looked at her.

“Who are you?” she demanded of the stranger.

“McGinty,” he wheezed past the chokehold Hector had on him.

McGinty? That sounded familiar.

“Let him go, Hector,” she demanded, “before I drag you to the marshal and have you locked up.”

A wicked grin spread across Hector’s face. “How you gonna do that? You’re as lost as a whore in church.”

Rosemary inhaled sharply. “You’re a despicable human being, and if you don’t release Mr. McGinty right now, I’ll shoot your foot off.”

Hector chuckled and gripped his arm tighter around McGinty’s neck. The stranger’s face was starting to turn purple.

Rosemary cocked the gun and closed her right eye to line up the sight with her left the way she had practiced with Jack. Without hesitation she fired, the kick from the weapon knocking her backwards with a scream. As she scrambled to her feet, Hector was howling, but Mr. McGinty had managed to free himself.

Alvin ran toward them with a lopsided gait, huffing and sweating. He might be young, but he acted like an old man.

Mr. McGinty grabbed a shotgun from his horse and aimed the firearm at the two prospectors.

“She shot me!” Hector wailed.

Rosemary remained where she was, a terrible trembling overcoming her. Good Lord, I did shoot him.

Alvin bent down to examine his friend’s leg, wheezing as he spoke. “Now, Hector, she barely grazed you.”

“She shot my foot off!”

Alvin shook his head, his mouth buried in the mop of whiskers that hung from his chin. “Nope. The bullet’s in the ground, not yer foot. She made a hole in your trousers, that’s all. I see a tiny speck of blood, but I’m not sure since you’re a mite filthy.”

“Grab her!” Hector insisted. “We’ll take her to Wildcat Ridge and have her arrested.”

“I don’t think so,” Mr. McGinty finally chimed in. “You were chasing her. What did you plan to do when you caught her?”

Hector’s expression turned incredulous. “Who the blazes are you? And how do you know she’s not my wife? Or somethin’?”

Mr. McGinty looked at her and the full brunt of his attention stilled her breath. Before she turned purple herself, she gulped air into her lungs. He was tall and strong and … how on earth did the likes of Hector best this man?

“Are you his wife?” he asked. “Or somethin’?”

Copyright © 2019 K. McCaffrey LLC



Don't miss all the books in The Widows of Wildcat Series
Sweet Historical Western Stories
1884 Utah Territory


Visit the series page here.


Connect with Kristy

Thursday, January 24, 2019

ROSEMARY is available for pre-order!!


By Kristy McCaffrey

My contribution to the Widows of Wildcat Ridge Series is Rosemary, Book 11, and it’s almost here!!



Rosemary Brennan struggles with grief along with the other widows of Wildcat Ridge after a devastating mine accident takes the life of her husband, Jack, and many others. Forced to find a new husband or be evicted from her home by the unscrupulous mine owner, Mortimer Crane, Rosemary finds unexpected help from Jack’s friend, Miles McGinty, an ex-U.S. Deputy Marshal. Together, they’ll uncover Crane’s deceit that involved her first husband. But McGinty knows more than he’s saying, and Rosemary isn’t certain she can trust another man so soon after losing Jack. More importantly, does she dare open her heart to him?

A sweet romance set in 1884 Utah Territory.
Can be read as a standalone.

Read first 3 chapters here




In this additional excerpt from Rosemary, she and McGinty have just had a run-in with Mortimer Crane, leading to an unorthodox marriage proposal.

McGinty flicked his gaze to Rosemary, her eyes wide and her cheeks flushed red. She was a woman who bore a second look, and a third, if he was being totally honest, but he could tell that he’d just surprised the life out of her.

He took a deep breath and pushed away from the door, entering the house and facing off against this blustery man that was pushing Rosemary around. Miles hadn’t liked it, and he’d quickly crossed a boundary that he shouldn’t have with a woman he barely knew, but he couldn’t stand by and let her lose everything. He would help her in any way he could. He owed that much to Jack.

Hell, I owe Jack my life. The least I can do is protect his widow.

“I believe we’re done here,” Miles said. He was taller than Crane, and he stepped close enough to intimidate the man. “I’ll meet you at the bank tomorrow. We can settle up then.”

Crane took a step back. “This is ridiculous. Anyone can see that this is a sham. I won’t allow it.”

Rosemary found her voice. “You did tell the widows that we had until the end of the summer to settle our debts with you. And you also said that if we had a husband then we could keep our businesses. Plenty of widows witnessed this offer. We could take you before a judge and let him decide.”

McGinty pressed forward and Crane finally had had enough. He stepped around Miles and planted his hat atop his head. “I’ll see you at the bank at eight o’clock sharp. You haven’t settled the debts yet.” He gave a scurrilous glance at Rosemary. “This is far from over.”

Crane departed, and Miles shut the door.

When he faced Rosemary, she looked as she had after she’d shot Hector.

“What on earth just happened?” she asked.

“My apologies for my forwardness. I didn’t really think it through, except that I wanted to pound some salt into that man.”

“You’re not the only one.” Her voice was barely above a whisper.

She moved to the table, and Miles quickly pulled out a chair so that she could sit. He took a seat opposite her.

She clasped her hands on the yellow tablecloth decorated with tiny blue flowers, looking serene, almost as if she were about to chastise a child. She had nice hands—feminine, with slender fingers.

“First, while I appreciate your offer to help, I can’t accept it. Second, you may have just made an enemy of Mortimer Crane, and I hope that it doesn’t cause you any trouble. Third—”

He held up his hand. “Please don’t concern yourself with my welfare. I’ve met men like him before. I can handle it. And I hope that you will consider my offer.” He paused. “I really would like to help you, Rosemary.”

“But … marriage? Please don’t take this the wrong way, but I don’t want to be married. At least, not again. Not so soon. And you’re such a nice-looking man and still young and strong. You will certainly want to be wed one day to a woman who loves you.”

Her compliments washed over him, a boon in an otherwise strange conversation. In truth, he’d never thought much about matrimony. He’d never met a woman worth changing his routine for. But Rosemary …

“I owe Jack,” he continued. “Let me help you. You can be my wife in name only. I would never ask you to betray your love for Jack.”

“But why would you do that? It seems so much to ask of you.”

“In the short time I’ve known you, Rosemary, one thing is clear.”

Her expression held a shadow of skepticism.

“You’re a stubborn woman.”

Her brows lifted, conveying her surprise.

To stave off the likelihood that he’d insulted her, he quickly added, “The fact that you went into the hills alone—I’m guessing you were searching for The Floriana Mine to salvage your situation. Rather than leave this town and your heartache behind, you’ve chosen to stay. To fight. For your bliss. I have a lot of respect for that. I can see why Jack fell in love with you.”

She pressed her lips together, and he thought she might start crying.

“But as strong as you are,” he continued, his voice gentle, “it’s never easy going it alone. I have nowhere to be, and I have money. Think of it as an investment. We can square up in the future. And I believe we could annul the marriage at some point.”

The tears poured forth. “I don’t know what to say. It’s true that I’m at my wit’s end. I have a tiny amount of money, but it’s not enough to survive. I have friends, and I could stay with them for a time in town, but that’s not a long-term plan. My father ….” She wiped her cheeks with her hands. “I can’t go to him.” She took a deep breath. “I will pay you back for everything. I insist. All right?”

He nodded. “We can draw up an agreement, if you like.” He wasn’t practicing great business smarts at the moment, but he’d been saving money for several years now with no plan for it. So perhaps this was the plan, a fate direct from above.

And as he looked across the table at Rosemary Brennan, widow to Jack—a young man for whom he’d felt a deep responsibility—a sense of purpose and rightness filled him. For the first time in his life, the urge to keep moving abandoned Miles. Maybe he could even let go of his need to find Shady Briggs.

And then there was that twinge in his heart, wanting something it shouldn’t. Something that made no sense.

He wanted to stay.

He wanted to help her.

And a small part of him wanted her.

Copyright © 2019 K. McCaffrey LLC


Don't miss all the books in the series!!


Visit the Amazon series page here.



Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Book Review: The Highland Brides Series by Tanya Anne Crosby



By Kristy McCaffrey

I thought I'd kick off the new year with a wonderful series I recently discovered. The Highland Brides collection by Tanya Anne Crosby is filled with strong heroines, compelling heroes, steamy romance and grand adventure in the Highlands of Scotland. I've included Amazon links, but Tanya's books are available on many platforms, so hop over to her website to learn more.


The Mackinnon’s Bride
The Highland Brides Book 1
P.S. This one is FREE to download.

Scottish Highlander Iain MacKinnon captures an Englishman’s daughter in retaliation for the kidnapping of his young son. As he bargains for a trade, it becomes clear that the Englishman has no interest in his daughter Page. While Iain gains his son, he also must ponder what to do with the girl. Feeling that no one should be denied by their father, he takes her with him. The bulk of the story encompasses the growing relationship between Iain and Page. This is an old school romance novel with an emphasis on inner dialogue and lengthy love scenes, and I loved it. Iain is a tortured and compelling hero, and Page is a plucky heroine despite the circumstances. The romance was smoldering, and I cheered the ultimate happily-ever-after.




Lyon’s Gift
The Highland Brides Book 2

English soldier Piers Montgomerie, also known as Lyon, has been given land in Scotland as a reward for service. As he struggles to make peace with the Highlanders that surround him, Meghan Brodie literally walks right into his hands. Once he lays eyes on her, he knows that his world has changed dramatically. Marrying her will solidify his standing with the Brodie clan—Meghan’s three brothers—but even more than the advantageous union, Lyon comes to realize that Meghan is unlike any other woman he has ever known. This is a wonderfully compelling romance of a stern hero hiding deep philosophical angst and a headstrong heroine struggling to be seen for her mind rather than her beauty. Their banter is delightful and, at times, downright hilarious. I couldn’t put this down and read it nearly straight through. If you’re looking for a sigh-worthy romance with a dash of humor and some major heat, then this book is for you.




On Bended Knee
The Highland Brides Book 3

Seana lives in the forest away from the major clans but is desperate to find a better home for her ailing father. She has convinced herself that she loves Broc, but with him showing little interest in her beyond friendship, she turns to Colin Brodie—Broc’s best friend—for help. Colin has a reputation with the ladies that is hardly a secret, and when Seana starts to fall for him she knows it’s the stupidest thing she’s ever done. I have to admit that I was very curious to see how Colin and Seana would come together, and Ms. Crosby did a fine job with it. It was very romantic and believable, with a dash of Scottish magic thrown in. But would you expect anything less in this wonderful series?




Lion Heart
The Highland Brides Book 4

Broc lost his family to the English when he was a boy, so when he finds himself protecting an Englishwoman who is in danger he is naturally conflicted. Elizabet has traveled to Scotland to become a ward of Piers Montgomerie, the hero from the second book of this series, but finds herself embroiled in something much larger. To say more would spoil the story, but this latest installment in Ms. Crosby’s saga is filled with strong women and cameos from all our favorite characters. Broc’s character is tested in this one, and many readers may not condone his lying, but his heart is in the right place. Settle in for a fun, steamy, and angst-ridden romance in the Highlands!



Highland Song
The Highland Brides Book 4.5

This last story in the Highland Brides series features Gavin Brodie and the woman who captures his heart. She's wild and irreverent, and I thoroughly enjoyed the tale. All the major characters make appearances, which is an added treat. This isn't a full-length book, but a very enjoyable shorter read.


Mackinnon's Hope
The Highland Brides Book 4.6

This long novella was a great end to the series. Along with favorite couple Iain and Page, many other major characters appear. It was nice to see Page finally have closure in the difficult relationship with her father. I really loved this series!


Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Marley The Rescue

By Kristy McCaffrey

Happy 2019! One year ago today, my family and I rescued an older dog named Marley. I thought I'd share my story with you all.

Marley

I’ve always been a dog person. My heart is forged with memories of my canine companions throughout my life: Rommell, Raquel, Buckwheat, Chaco, Shiva, Sparky. Gone but never forgotten. One thing I had never done, however, was rescue a dog in jeopardy. I’d thought about it, of course. Like many of you, I’m an empathic person, which is probably why I like to write stories, but it was that very trait that always filled me with anxiety just thinking about visiting the pound or a rescue shelter. The suffering of so many is a crushing reality that is difficult to bear some days.

Rommell
Raquel

Buckwheat and Rommell

Chaco
  
In October 2017, we lost our beloved chocolate Labrador, Ranger. Although he’d had health issues for a number of years, his loss was still sudden and devastating. One week after his 13th birthday, we were forced to put him down from a broken leg due to bone cancer. I wasn’t prepared for the grief that hit me. I had lost dogs before; I knew how it went. But Ranger had been different. I had promised him I would take care of him. In the end, though, I couldn’t. Something happens in your soul when you must break a promise—a terrible schism of guilt.

Ranger

My husband and I had long talked of rescuing older dogs, knowing how difficult it was for these animals to find a loving home, but it’s a bittersweet goal—just when you bond with them you’re likely to lose them. But if I’ve learned anything while raising four children, it’s this: you must do what is best for them, not what’s best for you. I knew this was also true when it came to helping a dog in need.

Last January, my husband traveled to Finland to help our oldest daughter move to Helsinki for a semester abroad. While I was home on my own, I watched the news one evening, and a very brief story about several dogs needing a home caught my eye. The owner was about to be evicted and the animals would be sent to the pound. The prospects for an older male Labrador mutt weren’t good. The next morning, I called the man trying to help re-home the dogs. He ran a local animal rescue in the Phoenix area, but this wasn’t a normal rescue situation. If I could come immediately to pick up the dog, he would give him to me. I jumped into the car and went, feeling trepidation at driving alone into an unknown neighborhood in downtown Phoenix, but something compelled me.

When I met Marley, I knew he had a strong will to live. The woman who had previously owned him had died ten months prior, and it was her daughter who was desperately trying to find a home for him. Her mother had had such a soft spot for animals that she’d regularly picked up strays off the streets. Marley had been such a stray, born somewhere on the streets of Phoenix, so his age was unknown (the estimate was between 9-12 years old). The daughter had had 24 canines to find homes for, and Marley was one of the last. She’d been doing the best she could to care for him, but Marley was undernourished with overgrown toenails and hadn’t been to the veterinarian in years. I put him in my car and drove him home.

Marley right after I put him in my car. He really
took it all in stride, I have to say.

That first week was tough. Marley was sweet and quite affectionate, but it was a new home with a new routine and I had to work diligently with him. I got him to the vet immediately and we addressed the most pressing issues (the toenails, bloodwork, vaccinations, etc.). But he was too weak for a tooth cleaning. He also wasn’t neutered, although at his advanced age I wasn’t certain I would proceed with it anyway. I also sobbed frequently because bringing Marley home had triggered a new wave of despair over losing Ranger. It took me a bit to work through that. I also sent my husband—still in Finland—a long and heartfelt email explaining what I’d done and begging him not to be upset with me. His response was so supportive that I wept over that, too. I married the right guy.

Initially, I fed Marley three times a day.

Eventually, he gained weight and embraced his new life of freedom (he’d been crated for much of the year before he was rescued, and possibly longer). We have a dog door, so he quickly mastered going into the backyard whenever he wanted. He has arthritis, but he’s gained stamina with frequent short walks, and later I put him on a low dose of pain medication to manage his discomfort. He enjoys treats and toys, and although he initially had little interest in playing with our other dog, Lily, they have slowly become buddies. But Marley generally prefers us to be nearby if he plays with her. His bouts of anxiety have, thankfully, lessened over time (we discovered that he really likes to chew slippers when he's stressed, so Santa brought him a new pair in his stocking for Christmas - he loved them!).

Marley and me on Christmas morning.

I don’t know how much time we’ll have with Marley, but I’m content knowing that we’re giving him a peaceful and secure life in his twilight years, filled with fresh air, sunshine, plenty of food, snuggles and kisses.

Follow Marley's adventures  on Instagram at @marley_therescue.

Marley and Lily