Saturday, June 22, 2019

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

By Kristy McCaffrey

The Unhoneymooners
Christina Lauren

Olive Torres and Ethan Thomas don’t like each other. When her sister and his brother get married, they must once again tolerate the other’s company since she’s the maid-of-honor and he’s the best man. When the buffet at the reception makes everyone ill, including the bride and groom, Ethan and Olive are offered the vacation of a lifetime—an all-expense paid trip to Maui. The catch? They must pretend to be married.

This standard trope is given new life at the hands of Ms. Lauren (who is actually two authors: Christina Hobbs and Lauren Billings). Told entirely in first-person, present-tense from Olive’s point-of-view (don’t worry—if you find it distracting, give it a few pages; you’ll soon be so immersed in the story that you won’t notice), this is a fun, sexy, perfect summer read. Olive is wry, witty, and a girl you could easily be besties with. Ethan is sufficiently aloof … until he isn’t. You’ll fall for him right along with Olive. The chemistry between the two is palpable and combustible, the motivations for their actions believable, and you’ll enjoy a vicarious vacation while you’re at it.

Read The Unhoneymooners at Amazon

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Belay

By Kristy McCaffrey

K2, located in the Karakoram Mountain Range, is the second highest mountain in the world at 28,251 feet, straddling the Pakistan/China border. Its icy sides are steep and exposed, and it’s prone to heavy storms and avalanches. K2 wasn’t surveyed until 1852, and the first known climbing attempt was in 1902, with one of the climbers none other than the English occultist Aleister Crowley. They never made it higher than 20,000 feet.

K2, located in the Karakoram Mountains of Pakistan.
In 1953, with the summit yet to be reached, an American expedition was launched, marking the fifth quest to conquer the mountain. The team was led by Charles Houston, who had attempted to climb K2 in 1938 but had retreated just shy of the summit due to diminishing supplies and imminent bad weather.

High-altitude mountaineering had, up to this point, been an enormous undertaking with the establishment of many camps along the route to the top, taking several weeks of ascents and descents to stock gear, food, and heavy oxygen cannisters. Instead, Houston proposed a lightweight expedition, and this would later become known as the Alpine style of climbing.

There were eight men on the team: Charles Houston, a physician; Robert Bates, a climbing friend of Houston’s from their Harvard days, who had also gone to K2 in 1938; Robert Craig, a ski instructor from Seattle; Art Gilkey, a geologist from Iowa; Dee Molenaar, a geologist and artist from Seattle; Pete Schoening, also from Seattle and the youngest member at 25; George Bell, a nuclear scientist from Los Alamos; and Tony Streather, an English army officer.

As they approached the summit, Art Gilkey became ill, most likely with thrombophlebitis (a blood clot). The team decided to descend in order to save Gilkey’s life, despite that his condition was likely fatal. Since he was unable to walk, they carried him in a makeshift stretcher made from canvas, ropes and a sleeping bag.

Somewhere around 24,600 feet, Bell slipped and fell on a patch of ice, pulling off his rope-mate, Streather. As they fell, their rope became entangled with those connecting Houston, Bates, Gilkey and Molenaar, pulling them along as well. Pete Schoening, who had been belaying Gilkey and Molenaar, was now the only climber still standing and was connected to the force of six falling men. He quickly wrapped the rope around his shoulders and ice axe, and he miraculously held all six climbers from plummeting to their deaths. This act became known as “The Belay,” considered one of the most famous events in mountaineering history.

After the climbers had recovered and made their way to a tent at the next lower camp, they unfortunately lost Gilkey. He had been anchored to the ice slope as the exhausted climbers had prepared the tent. They could hear his muffled shouts, but when they returned to retrieve him, he was gone. The most likely culprit was an avalanche. Later, members of the team concluded that Gilkey had released the anchors to unburden himself from the team, but the true cause of his death remains unknown.

In more than 150 years of mountaineering, only about 300 climbers have reached the summit of K2, known as the Savage Mountain, while nearly 80 people have died trying.

Two years ago, Lindsey Coulson lost her sister on K2, the second highest mountain on earth. Searching for answers, she sets out to climb the Savage Mountain. Mountaineer and freelance writer Ty Galloway has assembled a small team to conquer K2 and welcomes the esteemed climber. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. Both will test his heart.

“Full of action, suspense and adventure. Loved this book!”
~ Rebecca Lyndsey, author/illustrator of the children’s book Into the Ocean

Cold Horizon is now available in print.
Contact Kristy at if you would like to purchase an autographed copy.

Read an excerpt from COLD HORIZON

“All the 8000-meter peaks have been conquered with winter ascents now, except for K2,” Ty said, seeking to change the subject. “As usual, she’s holding out. Here’s another interesting fact—K2 is the site of the most famous belay in mountaineering history.”

“I’m hoping to get a photo as we pass the spot,” Packer said. “I’m gonna put it on my social media with hashtag ‘BadAssBelay.’”

“Why is it so famous?” Brynn asked.

“One man held the force of six falling men,” Ditch replied. “It was in 1953 and the summit of K2 had yet to be reached by anyone. The expedition—only the fifth one here—wouldn’t reach it either. It was an American team led by a man named Charles Houston, an excellent and well-respected climber. They had made it quite high on the mountain when one of their teammates, a man named Art Gilkey, for whom the memorial here is named, became very ill. They had to bring him down in a makeshift stretcher, which is a very dangerous thing to do. At one point, each man slipped in fast succession, becoming entangled in the ropes. A young climber named Pete Schoening was at the end, and he held them all, saving their lives. It was an incredible feat, really. Unfortunately, later, they anchored Gilkey to the mountain while they set up a tent, and he disappeared, likely swept away by an avalanche.”

Brynn took a sip of coffee from her mug. “Don’t all of you find the death in these places unsettling?”

“You can’t let it get to you,” David said. “On Everest, some of the dead are still where they died. You walk right by them.”

“One of the markers to the summit is Green Boots,” Ditch said. “I think he was an Indian climber.”

“They just freeze and are left there?” Captain Juneid asked, having remained silent during the meal.

“It’s too dangerous to move them,” Ditch replied. “It sounds unfeeling, but if they’re dead, they don’t need to get down the mountain.”

“Sometimes climbers try to bring bodies down,” Ty said quietly, glancing at Lindsey. Alison’s body was somewhere on K2. “But most of the time it’s all they can do to get themselves down safely.”

“Well, if I freeze my ass to K2, I give everyone here the green light to leave me,” Packer said. “I’d be happy to spend eternity here. Then everyone can pass me by, referring to the Packer marker.”

Ditch smirked. “You mean they’d be saying ‘The summit is just beyond the asshole blocking the route.’”

Packer let out a whoop. “I’ve been called worse.”

Brynn’s face took on an expression of concern. “I know climbing is addictive—I surfed for years, so I get the mentality—but really, why do you all do it?”

“It beats working,” Packer said.

Ditch finished off his coffee. “Which I don’t think you’ve ever done.”

“If you’re nice to me, I’ll let you rope up with me.”

“I think I’ll rope with Lindsey.”

Packer released an exaggerated sigh. “God, I hate it when there’s a better climber on the team than me. I have to work so much harder. Wait a minute, why do you get to rope up with the lady?”

Lindsey looked at Brynn. “Are you sure you don’t want to take up climbing?”

“Maybe I will. But I can see why you always climbed with your sister.”

“You girls are too picky,” Packer said.

“Just watch yourself,” Ty cut in. “There’ll be no messing around with my sister.”

Glee filled Packer’s face. “But Lindsey’s fair game?”

“No.” Lindsey answered at the same time as Ty.

He immediately regretted the force of his opposition, the hair rising on the back of his neck. The protectiveness for his sister didn’t surprise him, but hell if he wanted anyone laying claim to Lindsey.

Shit. So much for keeping his feelings under the radar.

Copyright © 2019 K. McCaffrey LLC


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Tuesday, June 11, 2019

New Release - COLD HORIZON

By Kristy McCaffrey

I've got a double-release today!!

The Pathway Series Book 2

Ambition and courage at the top of the world …

Lindsey Coulson likes to scale mountains. With her sister, Alison, she has made a name for herself climbing the tallest and most treacherous peaks in the world. But when Alison dies on a K2 expedition—the second highest mountain on earth—Lindsey stops climbing. Unable to shed her grief, it becomes clear she must return to the wilderness and only one place will do—K2, the Savage Mountain.

Tyler Galloway has finally secured a permit from the Pakistani government to bring an American team to K2. When Lindsey Coulson inquires about joining the expedition, he gladly brings the famed mountaineer on board. Her strong climbing resume precedes her, and she’ll be a welcome addition to the small crew he has assembled. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. And both will test his heart.

Each Pathway novel can be savored as a standalone story, but for maximum enjoyment the recommended reading order is:

Deep Blue
Deep Blue: Australia (A Pathway Novella available exclusively to Kristy’s newsletter subscribers)
Cold Horizon
Cold Horizon: Telluride (A Pathway Novella)

Now Available in Digital (print is coming)

Read an excerpt

The wind blasted Lindsey, threatening to rip her off the mountain and throw her into the abyss far below.

It was blisteringly obvious that K2 wasn’t going to give up her summit without a fight. Descending the Bottleneck in this shitstorm of low visibility was bad enough but having to guide an impaired Elena down was enough to give Lindsey sharp pangs of panic.

Had Alison been in this same spot, gripped with the same bone-deep fear?

Her sister had died on this mountain two years ago, likely not far from where Lindsey currently stood.

This won’t be my fate.

Two climbers materialized behind them in the darkness. For a moment, Lindsey thought it was Tyler, but that elation was dashed when the first one spoke with a German accent. Frieder.

They came to Ditch first, but to her surprise didn’t stop and instead climbed around him and Elena.

When they tried to do the same to Lindsey, she blocked them.

“Can you help us get Elena through the Bottleneck?” she asked.

Frieder stopped and said nothing, then finally shook his head and uttered one word, “Nein.”

To Lindsey’s shock, he said nothing more and climbed past her, hooking himself to the fixed rope.

What the hell?

When the second German, Volker, moved to do the same, she planted her axe in front of his face. “We need help with Elena.”

Volker shook his head. “We are spent.”

“So are we. If we leave her here, she’ll die.”

“Then she should not be here. Not our responsibility.”

“Bullshit,” Lindsey said. “It’ll go faster with four of us.”

Volker ignored her and climbed up a few feet to get past her. Then he went to the fixed rope, clipped on, and the swirling snow swallowed him up.

Stunned, Lindsey remained where she was, trying to quell her anger.

A loud snap filled the air, and then a rumble.


“Hold on!” she yelled, facing the mountain and tucking her head, praying her helmet would fend off any blocks of ice.

 She closed her eyes and held her breath, waiting as the roar grew. A cloud of snow and ice slammed into her, and she held tight to her ice axes to keep from being blown off the mountain.

But the avalanche hadn’t hit them.

Trembling, she didn’t move.

“Lindsey,” Ditch said. “Where are the Germans?”

Her headlamp revealed the fixed rope to be still intact. Maybe the two shithead Germans were okay. She almost didn’t care.

She swung her light back toward Ditch and Elena, trying to answer, but the words wouldn’t come. Ditch had retrieved his radio. “David, come in.”

In addition to Ty, Lindsey, and Ditch, their team had consisted of David Shaw and Billy Packer. Since Shaw had summited the day before with the Poles, a move that had irritated Lindsey, he had nonetheless stepped up to care for Packer at Camp Four until the rest of them could return to help.

“I’m here,” Shaw replied.

“We think part of the serac broke off. Frieder and Volker might have gotten hit. Over.”

“Copy that. I’ll go out and look for them, but it’s a white-out. Be careful. Over.”

Ditch stowed the radio. “Is the fixed rope still there?” he asked Lindsey.

“It looks like it,” she answered, her teeth chattering.

“You stay here with Elena,” he said. “I’ll go check.”

Unable to move, all Lindsey could do was watch as he moved above her and soon disappeared into the snowstorm, just as the Germans had.

Ditch had hooked Elena to an ice screw before he had left them, so she was secure for the moment, allowing Lindsey to remain where she was and regroup.

She was shakier than she wanted to be.

The snow conditions were becoming untenable. It was too dark. A piece of the serac had just broken off, possibly killing Frieder and Volker. And if the two German men weren’t dead, how would anyone find them? Was there anyone left at Camp Four besides David and Packer?

And now, as the she waited for Ditch to return, she faced the fact that she might have to bivouac with Elena right here. Spending the night hanging off the side of K2 was a terrible idea, and one she wanted to avoid. Climbers joked that bivouac was French for “mistake.” And Elena had certainly made a mistake as she’d tried to reach the summit earlier today, instead of turning around. Now, Lindsey was paying the price for the woman’s piss-poor decision-making.

Knowing she needed to stop complaining, Lindsey switched to problem-solving mode, trying to corral her errant thoughts into something useful. Hours—no, it had been days—of oxygen deprivation was fast destroying her cognitive skills.

She had a bivy sac, but it was only meant for one person. There was no way she could secure it on this near vertical face, so they would need to ascend. But what if they got lost?

What about Ty? Was he still behind her? And wasn’t the other American team also downclimbing from the summit? If she waited long enough, surely they would meet up with her and could help get Elena down. But it was already so late. They could be hunkered down, bivouacking despite the lunacy of sitting still and waiting out the storm. Waiting for sunrise.

Or they could be lost themselves.

Copyright © 2019 K. McCaffrey LLC

The Pathway Series Book 2.1

Lindsey Coulson has lost her edge. After surviving a harrowing descent of K2, the second highest mountain in the world, life back home has left her with serious doubts about continuing the dangerous life of a high-altitude mountain climber. When she accompanies her boyfriend, Ty Galloway, to a trade show in Telluride, Colorado, a chance encounter with a climber who knew her deceased dad—famed mountaineer Robbie Coulson—sets her on a different course.

Ty Galloway has settled into a nine-to-five routine with his new job as editor-in-chief of Mountaineer Magazine, but the monotony is already beginning to chafe. A weekend away with Lindsey at his parents’ place seems like the perfect antidote, but when his mom and dad unexpectedly arrive, their presence puts a damper on his romantic plans. And they’ve got a few surprises in store for Ty.

This short novella follows the full-length novel, COLD HORIZON, and includes appearances from Italian climber Elena Rossi and the irreverent mountaineer Dan Beck.

Learn more and read Chapter One at Kristy's website.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

K2: The Savage Mountain

By Kristy McCaffrey

The legendary climber Reinhold Messner has described K2, the second highest mountain in the world, as the most beautiful of all the high peaks. “An artist has made this mountain,” he said.

K2 is located on the border between China and Pakistan in the Karakoram Mountains, and is the only 8000-meter peak not to have been climbed in the winter. The optimal season for summits is July and August. Most climbers approach from the Pakistani side, starting in Islamabad, then take a bus ride to the town of Skardu. From there, it’s a 10-day treacherous hike to get to base camp, situated at 18,000 feet.

K2, located in the Karakoram Mountains.

The name K2 is derived from the notation used by the Great Trigonometrical Survey of British India, given because it was the second peak measured in the Karakoram Range. Locally, the mountain is called Chogori.

K2 was first surveyed in 1856, but the first attempt to climb it came in 1902 with the occultist Aleister Crowley as one of the members of the expedition, but the team never got any higher than 21,000 feet. Subsequent expeditions in 1909, 1938, 1939 and 1953 all failed to reach the summit. In 1954, an Italian team finally succeeded. A second successful ascent wouldn’t happen again until 1977.

The difficulty in climbing K2 lies in the fact that it’s prone to frequent and severe storms that make treacherous climbing conditions even more challenging. The number of climbers who have reached the summit is only a small fraction compared to successful summits of Mt. Everest, and proportionally K2 has the second highest fatality rate of all 8000-meter peaks (Annapurna, the 10th highest mountain, has the most.)

Don't miss my new book, COLD HORIZON (The Pathway Series Book 2)

 Available June 11, 2019

Ambition and courage at the top of the world …

Lindsey Coulson likes to scale mountains. With her sister, Alison, she has made a name for herself climbing the tallest and most treacherous peaks in the world. But when Alison dies on a K2 expedition—the second highest mountain on earth—Lindsey stops climbing. Unable to shed her grief, it becomes clear she must return to the wilderness and only one place will do—K2, the Savage Mountain.

Tyler Galloway has finally secured a permit from the Pakistani government to bring an American team to K2. When Lindsey Coulson inquires about joining the expedition, he gladly brings the famed mountaineer on board. Her strong climbing resume precedes her, and she’ll be a welcome addition to the small crew he has assembled. But K2 is a force unto itself, as is Lindsey. Both will test his limits. And both will test his heart.


Print is coming.

Read an excerpt
Lindsey's earlier euphoria had given way to a headache that had started pulsing behind her eyes. Trying to ignore it, she paused to take in the expansive view. An endless array of peaks, whiter than usual, filled the horizon. The world was crisp and new, the sun a small, shining dot in a sky as blue as a swimming pool. Lindsey had to imagine the warmth it could offer, because no rays of sunshine had reached them as yet.

She attempted an invigorating inhale of fresh mountain air, but instead it was like dragging ice cubes through her nose, and her lungs struggled for oxygen that wasn’t there. With one final sweep, she enjoyed the abundance of mountains surrounding them, a mythical, almost unreal collection of snow-covered summits and the frozen river at the bottom carved by glacier movement.

Ty, covered in a yellow and black climbing suit, motioned for her to precede him. David, clad in a blue suit, was already at the top of the Black Pyramid. He hooked onto the fixed rope, faced the mountain, then disappeared.

Ty stepped in front of her and gently pulled at her harness, doing a safety check on her once again. She didn’t bother to suppress the smile that crept on her face since the balaclava hid it. Despite the exhaustion pressing on her, she’d already checked her gear three times.

Giving a reciprocal tug on his harness, she eyed the buckle. All good.

Carefully she kneeled and clipped her harness to the fixed rope with a figure-eight device and then eased herself over the edge. The memory muscle of rappelling kicked in, and she began her descent.
Suddenly, Ty released a guttural roar. She glanced up just as Elena’s red clad body careened toward her. Lindsey scrambled to move, but it was too late—the woman slammed into her and with a jerk, they snapped to a stop.

Stunned, Lindsey hung upside down with her back to the mountain, struggling to hold Elena against her chest since the other woman likely wasn’t tied on—to anything. Lindsey’s descender had snapped off the fixed rope and was dangling in her face. Her backup clip must have caught her, but how long would it hold?

“Elena,” she said, trying to get her attention.

“Here,” she replied, her head near Lindsey’s.

Good, she was conscious.

“Before I can let you go, you’ve got to get hooked to the rope.”

Elena flailed and a wave of dizziness hit Lindsey, her stomach boiling.

Oh no.

“Hold on,” Ty yelled.

“Don’t move,” Lindsey ground out between her teeth. “Wait for Ty.”

“I’m below you.” David’s voice echoed beside her ear.

“I’ll get Elena,” Ty said, now closer.

The woman was yanked from Lindsey’s grasp. From below, David pushed Lindsey’s shoulders as Ty leaned down and took hold of her harness as well, but rather than attach her to the fixed line, he hooked himself directly to her. A wave of nausea hit as she shifted upright; she had no time to offer a warning and barely got her balaclava free before she lost her breakfast.

Twisting downhill, she vomited, barely missing David.

“Sonovabitch,” he bellowed.

Coughing, a second wave of convulsions overtook her, the bluish contents of her stomach splattered across the white snow.

“Lindsey, take it easy,” Ty said, his voice calm and soothing.

She hung off the rope, praying the queasiness would pass. This wasn’t the place to be sick.

“David, we need to get her down.” The icy change in Ty’s tone signaled the urgency of the situation.

Copyright © 2019 K. McCaffrey LLC

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