of Stealing Breath by Joanne Brothwell
By Joanne Brothwell
Deep in the
backwoods of North Dakota, Sarah Ross is searching for a missing child when she
is attacked by a glowing-eyed, transparent creature.
mysterious abilities, Sarah escapes, only to run directly into Evan Valente, a
handsome, charismatic stranger who helps her back to safety. But why is Evan
out in the forest so early in the morning?
her eyes bear the mark of the Indigo Child, an evolved human with the ability
to feel the emotions of others; unfortunately, her indigo aura is highly
desirable to those who wish to steal her powerful essence.
falls deeply in love with Evan and wants nothing more than to follow her heart,
but she can't ignore the lingering feeling that Evan is hiding a terrible
secret. The deeper she digs, the more danger she faces, forcing her to face the
darkest, innermost parts of her soul.
Brothwell is the author Stealing Breath,
a paranormal romance from Crescent Moon Press, who has also published Vicarious, the prequel to Stealing Breath. Joanne lives in the
country with her family where her stories are inspired by the dead things that
appear at her doorstep on a daily basis. You can find her online at www.joannebrothwell.com
Book Promo: Chapter One:
I awoke to
rustling outside my tent. The crunching of footsteps on gravel, twigs and
branches snapping. Was that a voice? I lay motionless inside my sleeping bag,
heart pounding, listening.
disembodied whisper. Was it right outside? I strained to hear but the throbbing
pulse in my head drowned everything else out. I sat up. The atmosphere within
the domed tent was wet, ripe with morning breath. The tip of my nose was cold
as an icicle.
“Help.” The murmur
came a second time, more audible than the last. I was sure it was a child’s
voice. My heart skipped a beat. Could it be the voice of the eight year-old,
Jessica Crow, who had gone missing from the neighboring Indian Reservation
three days ago?
I thought of the
drive out to the campgrounds when my friends, Amber, Kate, and I had been
listening to the radio report on the status of the missing girl from the Wakina
Poor Amber. Once again, she’d cried
at the reminder of her third cousin, Jessica, lost and alone in the forest.
Everyone in the community, including Amber, had been searching for her night
and day but had found nothing. I’d practically dragged Amber along camping,
telling her she needed a night off from her worries. It was a hard sell, but
she’d finally agreed.
I glanced at where
Kate and Amber should have been laying, but their sleeping bags and pillows
were missing. The last I’d seen them had been around the bonfire at two in the
morning. They could have ended up crashing just about anywhere, and I wasn’t
about to go peeking into random tents to find them.
asleep in my jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, I slipped on my jacket and shoes,
pulled the ponytail holder off my wrist and wrapped my hair into a tight bun. I
swallowed hard and took a deep breath. Then, unzipping the door flap of the
dome tent, I stuck just my head out.
Nothing was out of
place. Empty cooler bottles atop the picnic table, charred wood in the
fire-pit, and the car we came in. Every campsite around us was nearly silent.
The sounds of late-night make-out sessions, pounding music, and yelling were
replaced by the occasional snore.
Using my empathy, I focused on
trying to pick up on the emotions of any lucid person around, hoping I would
hone in on Jessica’s emotions. Normally, the waking feelings of others hit me
like a gale force wind, without my even trying. In fact, it had always felt
like a bit of a curse that I was a walking sponge for other people’s pain. But
right now, all I felt was…nothing.
The voice had seemed right outside
the tent. Could I have imagined it?
I slipped out. A
low, white fog blanketed the earth, enveloping the world in silence. The
temperature hovered around freezing, way too cold for camping. And last night’s
vodka was no longer taking the edge off. I shivered.
around the cars and circling the campsite, I started down the road. Inside the
forest, the eerie glow of early morning and the cool fog blanched the world a
ghostly white. The moist nip in the air sharpened the scent of pine needles
that littered the camp ground. I continued down the road for about ten feet
until it led to the mouth of a hiking trail.
Now that I was
half-frozen and shivering, the May long weekend at the campgrounds of Greater
Slave Lake, North Dakota, seemed like a very stupid idea, even if it was the
annual spring kick-off party.
diminutive voice called out again, this time, louder.
The memory of Jessica’s face
flashed through my mind when I’d met her last summer; honey-brown eyes and
springy hair that always stuck up around her head with static, and her sweet
smile, part baby teeth intermixed with adult teeth. She was such a sweet,
innocent child. If she had survived this long, she could be dangerously close
to death from cold. My heart battered against my chest wall, and I fought off
the urge to start running, directionless, into the bush to find her.
The voice had
originated from further within the tree-line, I was sure of it. Closer now, yet
still far away. I entered the trail and headed straight.
called out. No response but the echo of my own voice from the trees around me.
The trail was
straight and narrow for well over a hundred feet, the trees like two solid
walls of green on either side of me. Then the trail began to snake back and
forth until it forked into several side-trails. I stopped to listen.
A dry crackle
emerged from the trail to my right, and I immediately followed the sound. This
far into the forest it was darker, the only light filtered through evergreens
and fog. I looked back. The vapor had closed in behind me, obscuring the
pathway like a curtain of white. Shivering transformed into shaking.
these trails in the early morning numerous times, today it looked different. I
cursed under my breath and shoved my hands into my pockets.
“Hello?” I called,
my voice immediately diminishing, muffled by the woods. Other than the odd bird
chirp and frog croak, the forest was quiet. If the voice really had been
Jessica, she would need help and most likely immediate medical attention. I
forced myself forward.
The trail wound to
and fro, the brush dense, the fog almost material as it clung to the spruce
needles. The path grew thin and sparse, barely enough room to place one foot in
front of the other, with the way the underbrush encroached on the trail. I
stumbled on twigs and logs as branches clawed my cheeks and pulled my hair. I
began to trip, reaching out for something to hang onto. I fell, my hand forced
into a thorny bush.
Damn it! I stood
up and peered at my scraped hand, blood beading out of paper-cut sized scrapes.
I’d been out here for at least ten minutes, but still, I heard nothing but the
crunch of my feet snapping the twigs underfoot and my breath echoing through my
own head. Ready to turn around and head back to my tent, the high-pitched voice
rang out once again.
I was totally shocked when this book
ended. I was so wrapped up in the story
and while much of the issues had been resolved, I was still so engrossed in the
story that I was surprised it ended. I
love books like that.
I think all stories
should end leaving you breathless like you just got off a roller coaster or
jumped out of a plane. Yes, I like the
thrill.. or at least the controlled terror.. that is a roller coaster. This story was that for me. Not terror, but that exciting butterfly
feeling in your stomach.
Loved the Native
American folklore combined with Native Italian lore. I don’t think those are cultures that I would
have every thought to put together, but it so worked. My only complaint is not knowing what
happened to the people later… but we can’t have everything.
I give this story 5 out
of 5 stars. Intense, creative, and