Saturday, November 23, 2013

Book Spotlight: Breaking Ties by Jo Grafford

I picked this book up when I first learned of it. I lived in North Carolina for 11 years so I love reading books about the Lost Colony. It's currently in my TBR pile but I will post my review after I read it.

Here's a note from the author which is posted on her website: "Help make a Thanksgiving Wish come true! Every copy purchased in November of Breaking Ties, First Book in the Lost Colony Series, will help fund an archeological dig of what is hoped to be the newly discovered Lost Colony fort site located beneath Scotch Hall Preserve in North Carolina. Thank you for reading to support the continued search for these missing colonists."

Title: Breaking Ties
Author: Jo Grafford
Published: October 17, 2013 by Astraea Press
Page Count: 404 pages
Genre: Historical Romance

Rose Payne's world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son gets her dismissed from her position as clerk in his household. Without a letter of recommendation from her previous employer, Rose is virtually unhireable and becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, hoping for a fresh start and vowing to never again fall for a wealthy, titled gentleman.

Manteo is certainly no gentleman but an influential diplomat with deep pockets, and that’s enough for Rose to keep her distance. Weary from the jaded intrigues of Court, the whiskey-eyed Native yearns for the shores of his island home on the outer banks of Virginia. A man of surprisingly few words, he sheds his English suit and stalks about the ship in nothing but his buckskins, earning the title of heathen and savage from the straight-laced colonists.

Both Rose and Manteo avoid the social whirl on the main deck but agree to collaborate in secret with a few trusted shipmates to protect their fleet from a series of sabotage attempts. Manteo is soon bewitched by the fiery-haired Rose with her quick wit and fierce loyalty to her friends; in turn, she cannot help but admire the courageous leader beneath his unpolished speech and attire.

While Rose fights falling in love with a man of wealth and power all over again, their enemies are closing in. She wonders if perhaps the wrong kind of man for her is exactly the right sort of warrior to combat a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in Breaking Ties.



     "You want my help." 'Twas an accusation.


     His eyes darkened. "I save your life. I give gifts. I offer marriage." He closed the remaining distance between us, his eyes burning into mine.

     I stumbled back.

     "You give nothing in return," he snarled. "You only ask for more."

     "I would had I something to offer," I whispered. "But I have nothing. I am nothing."

     "Then what use are you to me?" He wheeled away.

     I sagged against the door, eyes stinging. I blinked rapidly and pressed a hand to my stomach. Nausea rolled at the thought of informing the others of my failure.

     Manteo circled the cabin like a hawk stalking its prey. 'Twas a fine room with ornately carved shelves lining one wall. Bunks were built into the next wall. A generous desk jutted from the third, overflowing with maps and navigational devices. I recognized the compass and hourglass but could not identify the other instruments. I jerked in surprise when Manteo swooped down upon me.

     "I know our location." His arms shot out and slapped the wall on either side of me, hemming me to the door. "I could swim ashore from here."

     "Then why do ye stay if ye can leave and save yourself?"

     "Governor White gave his word to deliver me home."

     "We are going to starve, Manteo. 'Tis only a matter of days now."

     "Nay. You alone starve. The others eat."

     "I have no appetite."

     "You act as one already dead."

     I straightened my back. "I accept what I cannot change."

     "And I change what I cannot accept." He shifted his weight to the wall, one arm propped over my head. He drew his fingertips down the side of my face in a feather-light caress.

     I closed my eyes against the rush of unbearable sweetness. He made me long for things forbidden. "'Tis within your power to help us. I am begging you."

     "Very well."

     My eyes flew open. "Ye will do this for us."

     "For you." His voice was silken, his features as hard as granite.

     I smiled tremulously. "I thank thee, Manteo. Chief Manteo, that is." The new title felt strange on my lips. I beheld him with a mixture of awe and pride.

     "I have yet to name my price."

     I stared, confused.

     He grunted in disgust. "You refuse me as both husband and lover, so you are left with the hiring of my services."

     I worried my lower lip between my teeth. At least he was willing to negotiate. His eyes flashed with lust as he followed my movements.

     "I will entreat the Dares for payment."

     "Nay. You are the one in my debt."

     I raised and dropped my hands helplessly.

     "You serve this company, no? You can serve my people, too."

     "Ye would hire me as clerk?" Hope leaped in my chest at the possibilities. I would not have to part from him so soon.

     "My people have no clerks." His eyes narrowed. "We have slaves."

     My breath hitched. "Ye wish to punish me, humiliate me?"

     "Nay, I only wish to marry you."

     I briefly closed my eyes against the pain. He already knew the reason for my refusal.


     "Say no more. I will do it. 'Twill be punishment enough to see you so often and—“ I clamped my lips.

     Exultation flickered briefly across his face. "You would give up your freedom to save your friends?"

     "Without question."

     "Swear it," he said grimly.

     "I swear it."

     His eyes flared with emotion. He bent slowly 'til his breath stirred my lips. My eyelids fluttered closed. Heaven help me, for I had no will left to resist him.

     "Now you will eat," Manteo commanded hoarsely. He stepped back, surveying me from head to feet.


     "I have no slaves so thin and weak. Go. Collect your rations." He turned from me and bent to pore over a map on the table.

     I reached for the door handle, disbelieving at the curt dismissal.

     "And send for Anthony. I have need of him."

     I glared at his back. Faith, should I press my face to the floor as well? "Aye, master." I bit the words out and fled.

Book Trailer:

Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri, the second oldest of five children.  With educators for parents, the nearest metropolitan library became her home away from home.  The love of reading is what eventually propelled her to write.

One of her favorite childhood haunts is the enormous red barn on her parent’s century-old farmstead.  She spent hours at a span penning away in spiral bound notebooks as the structure creaked and groaned its way through many summer rainstorms.  This rustic getaway inspired poetry, short stories, a mystery or two, and even the score to a piano piece.

From editing her high school newspaper to typesetting for a local news journal, Jo has been writing ever since.  She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter.  The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.


Jo Grafford said...

Hi, Melanie! Thanks so much for spotlighting Breaking Ties. I certainly share your fascination for the Lost Colony. Look forward to hearing your thoughts and happy reading. :-) Cheerio, Jo Grafford

Melanie Valderrama said...

You're welcome, Jo! This is a series I'm really looking forward to reading!

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