Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Blue Enchantress by MaryLu Tyndall ~ FIRST Wildcard & Giveaway

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!

Today's Wild Card author is:

M. L. Tyndall

and the book:

The Blue Enchantress
Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)


M.L. Tyndall, a Christy Award Finalist, and best-selling author of the Legacy of the King’s Pirates series is known for her adventurous historical romances filled with deep spiritual themes. She holds a degree in Math and worked as a software engineer for fifteen years before testing the waters as a writer. MaryLu currently writes full time and makes her home on the California coast with her husband, six kids, and four cats.

Visit the author's website and blog.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (August 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602601577
ISBN-13: 978-1602601574


The Blue Enchantress by M.L. Tyndall
Chapter 1

St. Kitts, September 1718

“Gentlemen, what will ye offer for this rare treasure of a lady?” The words crashed over Hope Westcott like bilge water. “Why, she’ll make any of ye a fine wife, a cook, a housemaid”—the man gave a lascivious chuckle—“whate’er ye desire.”

“How ’bout someone to warm me bed at night,” one man bellowed, and a cacophony of chortles gurgled through the air.

Hope slammed her eyes shut against the mob of men who pressed on three sides of the tall wooden platform, shoving one another to get a better peek at her. Something crawled over her foot, and she pried her eyes open, keeping her face lowered. A black spider skittered away. Red scrapes and bruises marred her bare feet. When had she lost her satin shoes—the gold braided ones she’d worn to impress Lord Falkland? She couldn’t recall.

“What d’ye say? How much for this fine young lady?” The man grabbed a fistful of her hair and yanked her head back. Pain, like a dozen claws, pierced her skull. “She’s a handsome one, to be sure. And these golden locks.” He attempted to slide his fingers through her matted strands, but before becoming hopelessly entangled in them, he jerked his hand free, wrenching out a clump of her hair. Hope winced. “Have ye seen the likes of them?”

Ribald whistles and groans of agreement spewed over her.

“Two shillings,” one man yelled.

Hope dared to glance across the throng amassing before the auction block. A wild sea of lustful eyes sprayed over her. A band of men dressed in garments stained with dirt and sweat bunched toward the front, yelling out bids. Behind them, other men in velvet waistcoats leaned their heads together, no doubt to discuss the value of this recent offering, while studying her as if she were a breeding mare. Slaves knelt in the dirt along the outskirts of the mob, waiting for their masters. Beyond them, a row of wooden buildings stretched in either direction. Brazen women emerged from a tavern and draped themselves over the railings, watching Hope’s predicament with interest. On the street, ladies in modish gowns averted their eyes as they tugged the men on their arms from the sordid scene.

Hope lowered her head. This can’t be happening. I’m dreaming. I am still on the ship. Just a nightmare. Only a nightmare. Humiliation swept over her with an ever-rising dread as the reality of her situation blasted its way through her mind.

She swallowed hard and tried to drown out the grunts and salacious insults tossed her way by the bartering rabble. Perhaps if she couldn’t hear them, if she couldn’t see them, they would disappear and she would wake up back home, safe in Charles Towne, safe in her bedchamber, safe with her sisters, just like she was before she’d put her trust in a man who betrayed her.

“Egad, man. Two shillings, is it? For this beauty?” The auctioneer spit off to the side. The yellowish glob landed on Hope’s skirt. Her heart felt as though it had liquefied into an equally offensive blob and oozed down beside it.

How did I get here? In her terror, she could not remember. She raised her gaze to the auctioneer. Cold eyes, hard like marbles, met hers, and a sinister grin twisted his lips. He adjusted his tricorn to further shade his chubby face from the burning sun.

“She looks too feeble for any real work,” another man yelled.

The sounds of the crowd dimmed. The men’s fists forged into the air as if pushing through mud. Garbled laughter drained from their yellow-toothed mouths like molasses. Hope’s heart beat slower, and she wished for death.

The gentle lap of waves caressed her ears, their peaceful cadence drawing her away. Tearing her gaze from the nightmarish spectacle, she glanced over her shoulder, past the muscled henchmen who’d escorted her here. Two docks jutted out into a small bay brimming with sparkling turquoise water where several ships rocked back and forth as if shaking their heads at her in pity. Salt and papaya and sun combined in a pleasant aroma that lured her mind away from her present horror.

Her eyes locked upon the glimmering red and gold figurine of Ares at the bow of Lord Falkland’s ship. She blinked back the burning behind her eyes. When she’d boarded it nigh a week past—or was it two weeks—all her hopes and dreams had boarded with her. Somewhere along the way, they had been cast into the depths of the sea. She only wished she had joined them. Although the ship gleamed majestically in the bay, all she had seen of it for weeks had been the four walls of a small cabin below deck.

The roar of the crowd wrenched her mind back to the present and turned her face forward.

“Five shillings.”

“’Tis robbery, and ye know it,” the auctioneer barked. “Where are any of ye clods goin’ t’ find a real lady like this?”

A stream of perspiration raced down Hope’s back as if seeking escape. But there was no escape. She was about to be sold as a slave, a harlot to one of these cruel and prurient taskmasters. A fate worse than death. A fate her sister had fought hard to keep her from. A fate Hope had brought upon herself. Numbness crept over her even as her eyes filled with tears. Oh God. This can’t be happening.

She gazed upward at the blue sky dusted with thick clouds, hoping for some deliverance, some sign that God had not abandoned her.

The men continued to haggle, their voices booming louder and louder, grating over her like the howls of demons.

Her head felt like it had detached from her body and was floating up to join the clouds. Palm trees danced in the light breeze coming off the bay. Their tall trunks and fronds formed an oscillating blur of green and brown. The buildings, the mob, and the whole heinous scene joined the growing mass and began twirling around Hope. Her legs turned to jelly, and she toppled to the platform.

“Get up!” A sharp crack stung her cheek. Two hands like rough rope clamped over her arms and dragged her to her feet. Pain lanced through her right foot where a splinter had found a home. Holding a hand to her stinging face, Hope sobbed.

The henchman released her with a grunt of disgust.

“I told ye she won’t last a week,” one burly man shouted.

“She ain’t good for nothing but to look at.”

Planting a strained grin upon his lips, the auctioneer swatted her rear end. “Aye, but she’s much more stout than she appears, gentlemen.”

Horrified and no longer caring about the repercussions, Hope slapped the man’s face. He raised his fist, and she cowered. The crowd roared its mirth.

“One pound, then,” a tall man sporting a white wig called out. “I could use me a pretty wench.” Withdrawing a handkerchief, he dabbed at the perspiration on his forehead.

Wench. Slave. Hope shook her head, trying to force herself to accept what her mind kept trying to deny. A sudden surge of courage, based on naught but her instinct to survive, stiffened her spine. She thrust out her chin and faced the auctioneer. “I beg your pardon, sir. There’s been a mistake. I am no slave.”

“Indeed?” He cocked one brow and gave her a patronizing smirk.

Hope searched the horde for a sympathetic face—just one. “My name is Miss Hope Westcott,” she shouted. “My father is Admiral Henry Westcott. I live in Charles Towne with my two sisters.”

“And I’m King George,” a farmer howled, slapping his knee.

“My father will pay handsomely for my safe return.” Hope scanned the leering faces. Not one. Not one look of sympathy or belief or kindness. Fear crawled up her throat. She stomped her foot, sending a shard of pain up her leg. “You must believe me,” she sobbed. “I don’t belong here.”

Ignoring the laughter, Hope spotted a purple plume fluttering in the breeze atop a gold-trimmed hat in the distance. “Arthur!” She darted for the stairs but two hands grabbed her from behind and held her in place. “Don’t leave me! Lord Falkland!” She struggled in her captor’s grasp. His grip tightened, sending a throbbing ache across her back.

Swerving about, Lord Falkland tapped his cane into the dirt and tipped the brim of his hat up, but the distance between them forbade Hope a vision of his expression.

“Tell them who I am, Arthur. Please save me!”

He leaned toward the woman beside him and said something, then coughed into his hand. What is he doing? The man who once professed an undying love for Hope, the man who promised to marry her, to love her forever, the man who bore the responsibility for her being here in the first place. How could he stand there and do nothing while she met such a hideous fate?

The elegant lady beside him turned her nose up at Hope, then, threading her arm through Lord Falkland’s, she wheeled him around and pulled him down the road.

Hope watched him leave, and with each step of his cordovan boots, her heart and her very soul sank deeper into the wood of the auction block beneath her feet.

Nothing made any sense. Had the world gone completely mad?

“Two pounds,” a corpulent man in the back roared.

A memory flashed through Hope’s mind as she gazed across the band of men. A vision of African slaves, women and children, being auctioned off in Charles Towne. How many times had she passed by, ignoring them, uncaring, unconcerned by the proceedings?

Was this God’s way of repaying her for her selfishness, her lack of charity?

“Five pounds.”

Disappointed curses rumbled among the men at the front, who had obviously reached their limit of coin.

The auctioneer’s mouth spread wide, greed dripping from its corners. “Five pounds, gentlemen. Do I hear six for this lovely lady?”

A blast of hot air rolled over Hope, stealing her breath. Human sweat, fish, and horse manure filled her nose and saturated her skin. The unforgiving sun beat a hot hammer atop her head until she felt she would ignite into a burning torch at any moment. Indeed, she prayed she would. Better to be reduced to a pile of ashes than endure what the future held for her.

“Six pounds,” a short man with a round belly and stiff brown wig yelled from the back of the mob in a tone that indicated he knew what he was doing and had no intention of losing his prize. Decked in the a fine damask waistcoat, silk breeches, and a gold-chained pocket watch, which he kept snapping open and shut, he exuded wealth and power from his pores.

Hope’s stomach twisted into a vicious knot, and she clutched her throat to keep from heaving whatever shred of moisture remained in her empty stomach.

The auctioneer gaped at her, obviously shocked she could command such a price. Rumblings overtook the crowd as the short man pushed his way through to claim his prize. The closer he came, the faster Hope’s chest heaved and the lighter her head became. Blood pounded in her ears, drowning out the groans of the mob. No, God. No.

“Do I hear seven?” the auctioneer bellowed. “She’s young and will breed you some fine sons.”

“Just what I’ll be needing.” The man halted at the platform, glanced over the crowd for any possible competitors, then took the stairs to Hope’s right. He halted beside her too close for propriety’s sake and assailed her with the stench of lard and tobacco. A long purple scar crossed his bloated, red face as his eyes grazed over her like a stallion on a breeding mare. Hope shuddered and gasped for a breath of air. Her palms broke out in a sweat, and she rubbed them on her already moist gown.

The auctioneer threw a hand to his hip and gazed over the crowd.

The man squeezed her arms, and Hope snapped from his grasp and took a step back, abhorred at his audacity. He chuckled. “Not much muscle on her, but she’s got pluck.”

He belched, placed his watch back into the fob pocket of his breeches, and removed a leather pouch from his belt. “Six pounds it is.”

The silver tip of a sword hung at his side. If Hope were quick about it, perhaps she could grab it and, with some luck, fight her way out of here. She clenched her teeth. Who was she trying to fool? Where was her pirate sister when she needed her? Surely Faith would know exactly what to do. Yet what did it matter? Hope would rather die trying to escape than become this loathsome man’s slave.

As the man counted out the coins into the auctioneer’s greedy hands, Hope reached for the sword.

Simply put, this book was amazing. I would have to say that I wish everyone would get the press release that comes with the book for reviewers. It has a Q&A sheet with MaryLu that I thought was imperative to my understanding of the book. I'm sure I would've understood how Hope felt about herself in the story, but to have MaryLu explain why she wrote Hope's character the way she did gave it more depth.
Here are a couple sample questions I'd like to share with you:
1) In the story, Hope's greatest weakness is throwing herself at any man who would look her way. What do you think causes some women to act this way?
*We all have a deep-seated need to be loved, to be special, but this need can be twisted and perverted by any number of things: a lack of appropriate nurturing and love in childhood, some form of abuse, repeated rejection, betrayal. All these horrific things are only made worse by our present culture which puts romantic love as the end of all true happiness and fulfillment. It then becomes easy for young girls to mistake the attention they receive from men for true love. They are willing to substitute this shallow love for real love because deep down hey feel unworthy of being truly loved. Ultimately, regardless of the difficulties life throws our way, only God's love can truly satisfy, only God's love is pure and unselfish and unconditional. Otherwise, we are all left with an emptiness within.
2) It is difficult in this day and age for many women to understand that their worth does not lie in their outward appearances. What do you think causes this trend in our society, and what ideas do you have for combating it?
*I believe the media is the biggest culprit in propagating the deception that women are only valuable if they are beautiful. you have only to turn on the TV, watch a few shows or commercials, or check out your local magazine rack to verify this. Young girls are bombarded with the message that they must look a certain way to be accepted and loved. Who are the role models our young girls look up to? They are all beautiful, flaunting their bodies like trophies. Women are spending countless thousands of dollars getting plastic surgery to look a certain way. I know girls in their 20s who are already getting Botox injections and breast implants. How do we fight this? if you have young girls in your home, monitor everything they watch on TV, everything they read, everything they see. Be careful not to praise them only for their looks but give approval of their character an intelligence. Many girls who receive love and approval from their father, particularly in regard to who they are on the inside, never fall for the trap of false love the world offers. And most of all, raise them up knowing and loving their heavenly Father and understanding how much God values them.
I could add my own opinions to MaryLu's, but all I'd be doing is repeating her sentiments EXACTLY!! As a mom, who has issues with her own appearance, I've made sure never to discuss looks with my girls except when it comes to their natural beauty. What my were exposed to growing up was very limited in regards to movies and the books they read. What MaryLu is talking about is exactly how I thought when my girls were little. I am so glad that this was one thing I did right. I'm doing the same with my boys.
Now, for The Blue Enchantress review...
As usual, MaryLu takes us on a heart stopping adventure with Hope at the helm of activity. And who of all people shows up to champion for her? Nathaniel, the man she snubs in The Red Siren. We also have Major Payne who fulfils his name very well!!
Unfortunately for Nathaniel, it seems as though he will end up losing more than just the ship he built with his own 2 hands to help save Hope. Every time he tries to help Hope, she ends up hurting him, often physically, and drives him crazy. Thankfully, it seems, hope has a man that is more than happy to display his affection for this beautiful woman. Gavin is always available to let Hope know how much he enjoys her company.
One person I'm so glad that MaryLu wrote in this story is Abigail. She cares for Hope sincerely. Hope sees this and decides she wants to be just like this sweet, god fearing woman. A woman that seems perfect for a man like Nathaniel, unlike her blemished self. Hope never sees herself measuring up to Nathaniel's standard and no matter how hard she tries, being like Abigail seems too far out of reach.
This story really touched me personally. I have to admit that I cried in about 4 different places throughout the story because of seeing myself in Hope's character. I'm guessing many women will be able to see a piece of themselves in Hope.
Do you know a woman, possibly yourself who doesn't think she quite adds up to the other genteel, godly woman you know? Do you find your worth in the way men treat you or view you? Do you not understand that you are more beautiful than diamonds to our Maker? Read this book because you might just see yourself in Hope.
Would you like to win the 1st book in this series, The Red Siren? Leave me a message letting me know if you enjoy swash buckling adventure novels and what your favorite one is. Honestly, MaryLu, for me, has cornered the market. I can't pick just one of her books. I loved her Redemption series as well.
As usual, leave your email address so that I can contact you if you win. No email = no entry. Open to US residents at this time. Drawing will be held the night of Aug 24.


Linda W. said...

Not sure what you mean by swash buckling adventure books. Would you consider the Left Behind Series as one? They were great, especially The Glorious Appearing.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

Julie Lessman said...

Oh man, Mimi, I JUST finished The Blue Enchantress last week, and it was my very first MaryLu Tyndall book ever, but it definitely won't be my last. I LOVE her work, and would absolutely LOVE to have The Red Siren, so please toss my name in the hat. Thanks for the contest!



Sandee61 said...

I so want to read this book. I love novels about ships and seafaring adventures, and the cover is beautiful too. Please add my name in your giveaway. Thank you!



Cherie J said...

Would love to be entered in the drawing. I would have to say that my favorite swashbuckling book is The Redemption which is also by M.L. Tyndall. It is what hooked me on her work. I have not read any of the books from her new series but I would like to. Thanks for a chance to win a copy of Red Siren.


ossmcalc said...

I have not read any of the books or series by this author but would love to have the chance to do so. Please enter me into the giveaway for a copy of The Red Siren.

Thank you,

womackcm at sbcglobal dot net

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Woven by Words by Mimi B is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.