Monday, May 4, 2015

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“So are you getting in, or are you just going to watch?” Montgomery Mahaffey: Challenge (Ella Bandita and the Wanderer Book 3)

Good Morning! I'm really happy to share a snippet from Montgomery Mahaffey's book,
Challenge (Ella Bandita and the Wanderer Book 3)


He couldn’t believe his luck when he found the pool. After exploring the woods for weeks, he thought it must be his imagination when he glimpsed steam floating into the rays of morning light. The Wanderer sniffed the air. The odor of spoiled eggs was faint but distinctive, drifting from the eastern woods where he seldom went. He found a stream running downhill to the south, and dipped his hand in. The water was still warm, proving this came from a hot spring.

The Wanderer rushed back to camp, savoring the thought of a bath while collecting his soiled clothes and bottles of soap and oil. As he followed the creek uphill, the pungent aroma grew stronger and the drafts of steam left a film on his skin. When he found it, he recognized the intervention of man in nature. The origin was in the center; bubbles broke along the surface and revealed where the fissure was, the opening where water heated in thermal depths of the earth came up to make a hot spring. The pool was dark in the middle, and the trail of bubbles led to a small cave from which clouds billowed. Only a violent disturbance of the earth could have made such a crevice. But there was a lower shelf built round the center, the water so clear he could make out the fine mineral grains at the bottom. Just above the shelf, flat stones were arranged to form a ledge over the pool. Another stream poured in from the northwest where the water numbed his fingers in less than a minute. He followed the stream and found dry beds where water had once flowed before being rerouted. Any doubt he had that this spring was the work of fellow travelers disappeared.

The Wanderer undressed and lowered himself where the warm creek left the pool. There, the water was perfect, stopping below his hips. Then he dove into the black depths and the heat grew intense. The temperature was more than he could bear along the fissure and he didn’t dare go towards the cave. Instead, he swam against the incoming stream, reveling in the fluid caress of hot and cold. It wasn’t long before dreaminess overtook him, a sensation unique to mineral springs. Before he melted into perpetual laze, he dove under and swam through varying degrees of heat to the other side of the pool and back again. When he came up for air, the woods were spinning. Already, he’d been in the water too long.

But the girl had come. He knew she was there from the quiver in his flesh and the tension in his limbs before he even saw her. She must have approached from the north. Her arms were folded casually and she leaned against a tree to the right of the incoming stream. Their eyes met for an instant before her gaze swept over him, her mouth parting in a near smile.

The unabashed roguishness of her look startled the Wanderer. He even had to resist the urge to dive back in the water, holding her regard for a moment before he got out and stretched along the ledge. Reaching for his canteen, he sipped slowly until the flask was empty and he was steady again. Then he glanced to the tree. The girl still hadn’t moved. Her eyes were fixed on him.

“You could do with a wash,” he said, dropping into the pool. “So are you getting in, or are you just going to watch?”


The Wanderer should have known better. Growing up with the Bard's fireside stories about the predatory seductress Ella Bandita has done nothing to prepare him for meeting her. When he crosses paths with a mysterious vagabond girl in the woods, his loneliness pulls him toward her, but the strange woman spurns his friendship. It should be easy enough to leave her behind, but the Wanderer can't pull himself away, captive to his stubborn will and the haunting dreams that linger when he wakes up every morning. Drawn in by the legendary allure of Ella Bandita, the Wanderer is caught up in a game of cat and mouse fraught with desire that is only fueled by his neighbor's disdain. Soon, the words of his grandfather's warning becomes a fading echo in his ear...always remember, follow your heart. Will the Wanderer resist in time to hear those words, or will he lose the one thing that matters to him most?

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Thank you Montgomery for coming over! The best of luck on your book.

~Addy Raine


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