The Book Feature category is gaining some momentum. Here is its second installment, and today’s featured novel is Blowing Off Steam:
Western Steampunk / Sci-Fi Novella- contains some adult subject matter not suitable for young children.(Sounds promising)
The time is 1891, the place- Arizona Territory. A year has passed since the death of her mother, and seventeen year old Emma Cartwright is struggling to manage life’s trials. Acting as the mother figure to her younger siblings, worrying about the overdue mortgage on her family’s ranch, and dealing with the eccentric behavior of her clockmaker father have not been easy tasks. Things begin to look up however, when her father decides to take on a new apprentice, a handsome young man who hunts and helps them keep food on the table. Emma soon finds herself wondering what kind of life she truly wants to lead. Is she destined to live the simple, happy life of a wife and mother, or does something more exciting await her in the world beyond? When hired gunslingers come calling to harass the family into selling the ranch, Emma’s problems truly begin to multiply, and she soon discovers that a life of adventure may be much closer than she’d ever imagined.
And here’s an excerpt:
The moonlight blanketing the forest gave it an ethereal blue tint, and made Emma feel as though she were walking into some kind of nightmare.
“Stupid dog,” she muttered while crossing the tree line. Hopefully the animal was just off on some foolish run through the night. Perhaps Andrew had only imagined the presence of men out here. At night, shadows danced through the forest like ghouls in a graveyard. When she was a little girl, she’d seen her share of ghosts out in these trees; it would be easy enough for Andrew, or even Agamemnon, to envision threats that weren’t really there.
Dried needles and pinecones crunched underfoot, making it nearly impossible to move quietly. If anyone was out here, they were going to hear her coming from a mile away, unless she heard them first. Emma began to shuffle her feet more closely along the ground, which helped a little.
The moonlight beneath the trees wasn’t as plentiful as it had been out in the open. It was enough to make due, but barely. A dozen feet ahead, a small misshapen figure rested upon the ground. For a moment, Emma thought it might be the hound, but as she crept closer the thing only turned out to be a crumpled up hat. She stooped to pick it up. It was filthy and misshapen, but she recognized it immediately; it was a black Stetson cavalry hat. Burns’ hat.
Terror swept over her as the reassuring lies she’d been telling herself washed away. Emma squatted there, as still as stone with her hand propped against a great pine tree. She scanned through the darkness, and listened to the light breeze as it swept through the boughs. She smelled the earth, sap, and the foliage around her, but could detect nothing and no one else. Were Queeny’s men there watching her now, waiting to spring once they’d had their fun with her? She reached down and drew the revolver, and slowly rose back up to her feet. It was then that she saw a strange movement up ahead in the distance, and heard a low, deep creak.
She gasped, and jumped away just in time to clear the immense tree, which crashed to the ground like a defeated titan. Had someone pushed the thing at her? Every instinct told her to turn and run, but something kept her from it. Perhaps running was what they wanted. She wasn’t going to give them that. She was going to fight.
And if this has kindled your interest, click the image above.