Monday, January 9, 2012

Stealing Mercy - Kristy Tate's debut book!

STEALING MERCY available on Amazon, Barnes and Nobel for most electronic readers...paperback available also.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free e-book copy!

A girl disguised as a boy.
A hero wondering why he’s in love with a lad in breeches.

A villain with a brothel to fill.
Serving murder, mayhem and pies, Stealing Mercy is a romantic adventure set in 1889—when the city of Seattle burns.

Reviews for Stealing Mercy

New author Kristy Tate brings a wicked sense of humor and a fast-paced storyline to her tale of a feisty 1880s piemaker who flees an enemy in New York and finds happiness--along with danger--in Seattle. You can't help rooting for Mercy Faye, who flaunts convention and flings herself into peril, determined to save young women forced to work in a brothel. Her secrets form a barrier between her and the appealing Trent Michaels, but love has a way of breaching the gap. A charming debut! Jacqueline Diamond

This was a fun read. Kristy Tate did a great job of weaving in the historical details so seamlessly that you get a rich sense of place without a history lesson. Mercy, the main character, is spunky and too headstrong for her own good but it makes for an enjoyable read. I always enjoy a good romance and this is definitely a good romance.

WHY I LIKE TO WRITE - by Kristy Tate
Elizabeth George once said that she writes to stay sane. I do that, too. I also do it to keep everyone around me sane.

Writing keeps me from obsessing. Here’s me when I’m not writing: Carol drops by with a pan of brownies. She looks like a teenager in that halter top. She says, “I brought these for your husband to thank him for helping me fix that broken window.” I say thank you, but inside I’m thinking I really wish she’d wear more clothes. I wonder what she was wearing when Larry was at her house, for how long was that? I can’t compare myself to her—I had six kids and she has a dog. Maybe my abs would look like that if I had countless hours to spend at the gym. Does she work out at the same gym as Larry? Why does she call him all the time? He doesn’t even like brownies. But, I love them. I bet she knows that. She knows that I’m going to eat this entire pan of brownies because now I’m so depressed and one or two or five brownies isn’t going to matter because I’m going to be divorced and single and fat. I better call Larry, although I just talked to him and he’ll be home for lunch in twenty minutes, I need to hear his voice.

Here’s me when I’m writing: the doorbell rings but I don’t hear it because I’m deep into my story. Somehow Mercy has to stop Eloise from going on a drive with horrid Mr. Steele. What can she do—should she confide in Eloise? In the real world, my dog is pawing at me. No. Eloise is a blabber mouth. She can’t be trusted. My dog knows someone has come to the door and she pulls at my sock with her teeth. I shake her off, but she’s so annoying that I have to investigate. Someone has left brownies on my front porch with a thank you note. It’s from Carol, that darling girl from across the street. I consider the brownies and inspiration hits—Mercy will bake Eloise a pie laced with a draught that will make her sleep through her rendezvous with Steele. I put the brownies on the counter and save them for when Larry comes home for lunch. I hurry back to Mercy, Eloise and Mr. Steele, wondering how to make a sleeping draught.
(FYI- Neighbor Carol is fictional, used to make a point about my own lunacy and not a commentary on my highly respectable, modestly clothed and admirable neighbors or my good husband who always lets me eat more than my fair share of brownies.)

Writing gives me someplace to put my head. As a mom, I do a lot of mindless things—driving, stirring, ironing, cleaning toilets—and while I’m doing these mindless tasks, it’s nice to have something to think about (other than my neighbor’s halter top.) I also love research. It’s like a treasure hunt that just keeps going. The internet is an endless source of information and if I can’t find what I need there, I try to think of people who might know and I call and ask them. No one has ever been annoyed. People love to believe that they’re experts and when I call with a question, they’re always happy to chat.

Writing gives me hope. Remember how I said that as a mom I do a lot of mindless things? I don’t really enjoy most of them. I do them because they have to be done, but I’d really rather not iron, clean toilets and mop floors. I’d like to pay someone else to do those things, but since my husband makes several dollars an hour and I make pennies, I can’t pay someone to do those mindless chores that must be done. It wouldn’t be fair. I’ve promised myself that when I’m making several dollars an hour that I’ll hire a chore person. I hope to someday make enough with my writing to justify that expense.

Writing gives me places to go. Remember how I said I love research? This summer I spent a day in Seattle visiting all the places that Laine and Ian would go. I walked through the neighborhood on Queen Anne Hill and took pictures of the turn of the century mansions. I stopped at Kerry Park and watched the boats in the harbor. And then I went to the University of Washington’s library, because that’s what Laine does in chapter four. I imagined her running down the steps and bumping into the girl with the smoothie. It’s like spending the day with very good friends.

Writing gives me insight. I like to think I’m sensitive and intuitive to those around me, but when it comes to my own psyche, I’m clueless. Being a baby born late in my parent’s life, I grew up in a house full of teenagers and adults. If I ever lost my temper, I was subjected to ridicule. (Angry or not, I was almost always subjected to ridicule, but that’s a different post.) I learned to shut down my emotions and I’m pretty good at masking and avoiding them. Writing brings them to the forefront. I’ll unconsciously do things like name annoying characters after annoying people. I’ll usually catch the real life and fictional connections on the rewrite and make the necessary changes, because I’m sensitive enough to know it’s unkind and unwise to hurt even annoying people’s feelings.

New York, New York
December, 1888
New York City’s night noises seeped through the wall chinks and window: the jingle of horse harnesses, the stomping of hooves, the mournful howl of a dog, but one noise, a noise that didn't belong, jarred Mercy awake.
A creak on the stairs that led to her apartment. The third from the top, five steps past Mr. Bidwell’s door. Only those wishing to reach her home crossed that step. She never entertained visitors in the tiny attic; she wasn’t expecting company.
Lying in bed, she held her breath while the unwelcome guest paused. The walls were thin, the door as substantial as paper, the lock inconsequential. Her thoughts raced and her body shook. A shock of cold hit when she slipped from the bedding, the wooden floor felt like ice beneath her feet. The embers in the grate had burnt to a smolder and her shivering had as much to do with cold as with fear.
Mercy padded through the doorway to the sitting room. Dying coals in the potbelly stove cast an orange glow and shadows loomed large. Grabbing a fire poker from the hearth, she waited for a knock on the door. She tried to think of an innocent reason for a neighbor to call, an emergency or crisis in which she could assist, but when no knock came, she crept behind the pie safe stocked with the previous day’s unsold pies and pastries. Stars winked through the window and Mercy wondered if their pale light could penetrate her chiffon shift. She felt naked, alone, and friendless.
She could call out. Let the visitor know she was awake, alert and fire poker armed. Perhaps someone on the street below would hear, but would they come to her aid? Her only neighbor, Mr. Bidwell, as old as Satan and twice as mean, would never stir from his bed for her. As she so often did, Mercy missed her father and longed for family.
The splintering wood shattered the air as the lock gave way.
Across the room, a mirror, tarnished and misty, gave a wavy reflection of the opening door. Mercy slid a fraction lower behind the pie safe. The odors of the pies mingled with her own smell of fear. She could feel the panic spilling out of her like a cloud that blurred her vision.
In the mirror she saw first a boot and then a thigh. Then Mr. Steele, his face a study of lust and cruelty, stood in the semi-darkness. The moonlight glistened on the six inch knife blade in his gloved hand. Mercy choked on a sour tasting sob. Suitors don’t carry knives.
Mr. Steele pushed the door open more, inviting in a breeze that circulated through the room. She knew why she’d been attracted to him. He looked and moved like royalty. His dark hair curled away from his forehead and his lean muscles rippled beneath his breeches. She thought of his laughter, the lilt of his voice when he asked if he could call, the gleam in his eye when she’d accepted his gift. Mercy fingered the silver charm, a four leaf clover that he’d given her. She’d tied it with a ribbon and wore it around her neck. Why hadn’t she taken it off when she’d denied his suit? When had she become suspicious of his flattery? Why was she not surprised to find him in her room past midnight wielding a knife?
Of course, he’d been angry and insulted that a mere shop girl would reject his favors. Impoverished girls without families and connections should fawn over a handsome, wealthy and prominent man such as Steele, but Mercy wasn’t typical, and she wasn’t as impoverished one might suppose. And so when Mr. Steele had invited her on a voyage to South America without proposing marriage, she’d turned him down.
Rumors whispered that Mr. Steele had also invited her friend Belle on such a voyage, before Belle had disappeared.
Mercy held her breath as Steele passed the pie safe, and then stopped, as if thinking. Mustering strength from the muscles that spent long hours kneading dough and beating eggs, gathering courage grown from burying first her mother and then her father, Mercy shoved the pie safe and it gave way with a creak and shudder. The safe caught Mr. Steele on the shoulder and he stumbled under the assault of the swinging doors and sailing pies. Apple, cherries, peaches, the sweet cinnamony odors of Faye’s wares pelted Mr. Steele. He danced in the pastry goop and landed hard on one knee. In a different circumstance, she’d have laughed at his abandoned dignity and awkward bobbling, but now she stepped into the fallen pastries with her mouth in a stern line, her anger as hot as fire.
One blow from the poker sent him to the floor. A second blow brought his arms over his head. With the third he shuddered, fell face first into the smashed pastries and then went still. When she stopped beating him her arms were shaking and her breath ragged. Blood oozed from behind his ear. His body sprawled in the spilt pies; his face pressed against the floorboards. She nudged him with the poker and he didn’t stir. For a long moment she stood above him, waiting for a sign of life.
Her heart raced as she considered her options. The police? Would they believe her plea of self defense? She tried to imagine herself in a court of law, pitted against the wealthy and prominent Mr. Steele.
He lay motionless in a mess of stewed fruit and crust. A smashed, oozing cherry clung to his eyebrow. And then she noticed papers protruding from his jacket pocket. It looked like passage fare and she considered it with a hammering heart.
Squatting beside him, she drew the papers loose, her fingers shaking so badly the papers caused a noisy breeze. A silver key slipped from the packet to the floor and landed with a ping. The skeleton key had a curlicue top with embossed leaves swirling around the words Lucky Island. The papers were first class passage to Seattle. It seemed Mr. Steele had been undeterred from the voyage he’d proposed. The boat left at first light.
She couldn’t.
She had an aunt in Seattle.
She mustn’t.
Silly Tilly, her father had called his sister. Mercy hadn’t met her aunt, but Silly Tilly always remembered Mercy’s birthday.
Why not go? Mercy turned her head away from the tiny sitting room and looked out the window to the river while hastily drawn plans formed in her mind. Perhaps Lucky Island was in the Puget Sound. It sounded more fortuitous than Faye’s Bakery off Elm. Would her aunt take her in? Mercy had written Tilly of her father’s death, but hadn’t, as yet, heard a reply. Perhaps an invitation was already in the mail.
Mercy went to the wardrobe and tossed through her dresses, nothing seemed practical. What did one wear for flight? She caught sight of her father’s trunk and nursed an idea as she drew out her father’s clothes.
The pants, well worn and loose, she slipped on and then tucked into her boots. She rolled the sleeves of the cotton work shirt and shrugged into a boiled wool coat. She tugged at the belt holding up her father’s pants and took a deep breath in an effort to restore the calm she’d lost the moment she heard the boot on the stairs. The jacket made her warm and the faint smell of leather and shoeshine she always associated with her father gave her courage. It felt odd and freeing to move without the cumbrance of skirts and petticoats. She kept one eye on Mr. Steele as she packed the knapsack: her father’s watch, her mother’s bible, a bag of gold coins, a loaf of barley bread.
She sat down at the table where she’d taken her solitary meals and she struggled to control her shaking hands. One pinned the paper and the other grasped the quill. Her handwriting looked spidery, the ink blotchy. A splash of ink stained her father’s denim work shirt, but Mercy didn’t care.
To whom it may concern, I, Mercy Faye, have taken my life on the night of December 15, 1888, she wrote, but she mentally added, to Seattle. She left the note on her unmade bed.
She snuck a glance at the blood still seeping from the man’s temple and fought the bile rising in her throat as she squatted and pulled out a locked trunk from under her bed. Her shivering increased, making it difficult for her fingers to work the key. Quickly, she rifled through her mother’s things which smelled of must, neglect and a lingering hint of lavender. Forgive me, Mama, she thought, when she found the velvet bag containing the Bren jewels.
Not trusting the sapphires in the knapsack, she tucked the bag next to her heart beneath the ink-stained shirt. Then she went to the safe where she kept the shop’s proceeds. Perhaps someone, most likely her landlord, would wonder, but who would question the scant means she left behind? The coins seemed to weigh a hundred pounds and they jingled like a tambourine in her father’s pockets.
Since her father’s death four months prior, there’d been times when Mercy contemplated selling the jewels, but the bakery had become increasingly successful. Mercy took a deep breath, inhaling the warm pastry smells that permeated her life. She would miss the shop, and it would only be a few hours until her customers would miss her. She pictured Mr. Lester, impatient for his muffin and coffee, Mrs. Nicole, eager for her biscuits. The customers would wander away, wondering what had happened to their supply of baked goods. Eventually her landlord would bang on the door, demanding rent, fair compensation. Would he find Mr. Steele?
Two hats hung on the hook by the door, a simple straw affair and summer bonnet that she wore walking. Mercy tucked bonnet beneath her arm, shouldered the knapsack and then bade a silent goodbye to the only home she’d ever known.
Then she felt it. A shift in the air. She stopped, listened and heard movement. Mr. Steele flinched


You can find Kristy at and she loves visitors to drop by. In fact I’m her guest today and would love to see you  - and just so you know - a comment will give you chance to win a free copy of My Cheeky Angel.


1 comment: