12 June 2014

Excerpt Thursday: THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO by Claudia H. Long

This week, we're pleased to welcome author Claudia H. Long with her latest novel, THE DUEL FOR CONSUELO. Join us again on Sunday for an author interview, with more details about the story behind the story. The author will offer a free copy of The Duel for Consuelo to a lucky blog visitor.  Be sure to leave your email address in the comments of today's post or Sunday's author interview for a chance to win. Winner(s) are contacted privately by email. Here's the blurb.

The second novel of the Castillo family, The Duel for Consuelo is the gripping, passionate story of a woman struggling to balance love, family, and faith in 18th century Mexico - a world still clouded by the Inquisition.

History, love, and faith combine in a gripping novel set in eighteenth century Mexico. In this second thrilling story of the Castillo family, the daughter of a secret Jew is forced to choose between love and the burdens of a despised and threatened religion. The Enlightenment is making slow in-roads, but Consuelo’s world is still influenced by the dark cloud of the Inquisition. Forced to choose between protecting her ailing mother and the love of a dashing Juan Carlos Castillo, Consuelo’s personal dilemma reflects the conflicts of history as they unfold in 1711 Mexico. It's a rich, romantic story illuminating the timeless complexities of family, faith, and love.

**An Excerpt from The Duel for Consuelo**

She was sure she saw a light flicker before she actually heard the door open. She lifted her head, for a moment unsure of where she was. The aroma of the herbs and spices reminded her that she was in the Castillo pantry, an odd enough location to warrant disorientation, without taking into account her exhaustion after the stresses of the past two days. She waited silently, intending to let the approaching figure take whatever it was she was looking for. She assumed it was Cayetana, or even Doña Josefina, come looking for some staple from the pantry. Perhaps a green to make a tea from, to soothe a troubled tummy or a restless sleeper.
The figure turned to the side, going around the couch where Leila lay in deep, sound slumber, and Consuelo started with surprise. The figure was a male, and in an instant she had no doubt it was Juan Carlos. "What are you doing here?" she whispered.
"Shh." He put the candle down on the desk. Consuelo looked up from the pallet. It was on the floor of the pantry so she was at Juan Carlos' feet. She moved to sit, pulling the heavy blanket up with her. She was wearing only her chemise, and her long chestnut hair was braided loosely down her back. This was no way to receive a visitor.
Juan Carlos knelt on the edge of the pallet. "Shh," he repeated. "Don't make a sound. You will wake your mother."
"What do you want?" Consuelo said quietly.
"Consuelo," he said. She waited. "I've been gone so long. I didn't know what I would find on my return." He put his hand on her shoulder and she leaned her face into his arm. She felt her pulse race.
"There is time for this in daylight," she whispered.
"I leave at dawn." He stroked her hair. "Our futures. They are forever intertwined."
Consuelo held her breath, waiting for the words that would justify this visit. No further words came. "Is that what you want?" she asked.
His hand lingered on her shoulder, then slid down to her breast. Her breath caught in and her whole body tensed. "I think you know." He slipped his hand under her chemise.
"Are you out of your mind?" she hissed.
He put his fingers to her lips. "Your mother's hard won rest should not be disturbed. There are few guests left so she would be the only one on this side of the house who would hear us. We could go to my room but I am still sharing it with Leandro and I have no intention of sharing you as well."
"We are not going anywhere. You must have lost your mind." And yet she could not pull away from him. She felt her heart in her ears, her throat close. His hand trailed over her breast and she felt the tip quiver under his fingers, and the icicle of sensation travel down her body.
"You want me. I want you."
"This is madness. We can't."
"Don't be afraid," he whispered.
How can I not be afraid? My life, my world hangs in the balance. He bent down and kissed her on the lips.

Learn more about author Claudia H. Long
The Duel for Consuelo