Book Blitz: Embrace of the Wild, by Linda Ballou

Embrace of the wild


Embrace of the Wild
by Linda Ballou
Inspired by Equestrian Explorer Isabella Bird

Historical Fiction

Published: February 2021

Publisher: Wind Dancer Press

Free spirit and fearless explorer Isabella Lucy Bird’s desire to travel and write about her adventures is not what her Evangelical parents had in mind for their daughter. A strong-willed woman with a keen intellect and curious mind drove her forward, but frail health prevented Isabella from leading the vibrant life she so desired. At the age of forty, she pushed all social convention aside, ignored failed remedies of the doctors and embarked on a world voyage in 1873 that changed her forever.

A six month detour in the lush Hawaiian Islands gave her new strength and stamina. A tenacious horsewoman she rode with Hawaiian natives up the flank of Kilauea to the fiery home of the Goddess Pele’s and into the depths of Waipio Valley where the gods come close. From there, she determined to explore the wonders of Colorado, where she rode 800 miles solo on her mare Birdie. In Estes Park she met an unlikely soulmate in the form of the mercurial character named Rocky Mountain Jim. She prevailed upon him to guide her up Longs Peak. Jim shared the majesty of his realm, allowed her to know the embrace of the wild and opened the floodgate to repressed sensuality.

Hers is a story of raw courage, tenacity and unflagging desire to be true to her destiny.

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Embrace of the Wild Blitz

Excerpt from Embrace of the Wild

Hilo or Bust

The narrow track now slippery with red mud was treacherous. My mare struggled for traction with her legs sliding out from under her. Cascades streaking white down the cleft of the pali dislodged rocks that rattled down the mountain. At times the rain was so dense, I lost sight of Kilani who forged ahead undaunted. We crossed several smaller gulches with rushing water up to my horses belly without incident. But, when we arrived at the lip of Hakalau gulch lost my conviction. Foaming water broiling in a riotous rush to the sea had risen half way up the side of the water corridor. Limbs of trees and leaves swirled in a muddy chaos below. The thunderous sound of breakers crashing on the sea cliffs filled me with dread. If I didn’t drown in the river, I would surely be crushed on the rocks by the pounding sea. I decided I would prefer spending a night in the rain on the shore over attempting this crossing.

Two native men on the other side of the raging torrent had lassoed the horse of a woman trying to reach the other side. With ropes tied to trees they were pulling her to the shore. Her horse floundered falling backwards into the brew. The woman went into the drink. She clung to the horn of the saddle while her body was caught in the current. With a herculean effort the men pulled the flailing animal to the shore. The horse found purchase and the woman was rescued.

Kilani was not dissuaded by the perilous crossing we just witnessed. She stood on the edge of the gulch prepared to jump into a certain death. The men threw the lasso over her horses head and she pressed her horse forward. My heart was in my throat as I watched her being picked up by the roiling water and sent spinning downstream. I screamed over the wild chorus of the river for her to face the flow. She was attempting to cross sideways with her horse completely submerged up to its head. She managed to swing around to face the torrent and the men were able to pull the wretched animal towards the shore. The horse’s eyes rolled white with fear, snorting and puffing as it struggled with every ounce of it’s being to find footing on slippery rocks while the rain pounded even more intensely. Kilani managed to gather herself back onto the horse as it lurched up the far bank of the river. I could only hope for her that her husband’s affections would be rewarded in kind.

I made my decision not to follow her lead to a sudden death. But, as I was about to turn back a lasso was draped around my mare’s neck. Without so much as an “Are you ready?” I was pulled into the roiling drink. Instantly immersed up to my neck, I had no choice but to press forward. I spurred the hapless animal beneath me with all my might. She was swimming toward the far side, but we were drifting towards the sea. I yelled for help over the roar to no avail. My screams were swallowed in the roar of the ceaseless foaming rollers below. This looked to be a sad ending to my new found freedom.

From shore Kilani screamed “Spur. Spur. Spur.” Both men were on the rope they pulled taunt around my horse’s neck. They secured their feet on boulders and grunted with each pull giving a small release so they did not choke her to death. The animal was gasping, and gave out a sorrowful whinny that shook her entire body. I was lifted by the water out of the saddle. My arms were being pulled out of their sockets as I clung to the big horn of the Mexican saddle. The rain was blinding and I was about to let go and join the spirits in the underworld of Po. Suddenly, my mare found a reserve of strength and lurched forward. With the help of the men pulling her, she was able to swim close enough to the shore to scramble up the slick wall of mud and out of the torrent.

Upa finally arrived with a mule in tow. The men tossed him the rope that he put around the creatures neck. He deftly hopped rocks, dove into the muddy brew and navigated the charging river like an amphibious creature leading the mule behind him. He laughed loudly when he reached our party on the other side.

Lucky we get here today,” Upa said.

My horse stood trembling. My teeth chattered involuntarily. The tumult of blinding rain had not ceased. I didn’t feel lucky.

About The Author

Linda Ballou has long admired Isabella Bird, the plucky Englishwoman who rode with abandon in the Hawaiian Islands and the Rocky Mountains in 1873-74. Her article Riding in the Hoof Prints of Isabella Bird won the Solas Award offered by Travel Tales publications. Embrace of the Wild is a tribute to a courageous woman who crashed through social barriers to become the best loved travel writer of her time. This historical novel also demonstrates Linda’s personal conviction that nature can be our salvation. A theme that runs through all of her work.

Nothing pleases adventure-travel writer Linda Ballou, more than seeing gorgeous country from the back of a good horse. She has had the pleasure of staying at guest ranches in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona and California, along with horse treks in Ireland and Ecuador. Her articles have appeared in Equus, Horse Illustrated, California Riding Magazine and numerous travel publications. Her story Irish Mist recounting her cross-country jumping adventure in Ireland appeared in the anthology Why We Ride. Writing The Cowgirl Jumped Over Moon, a novel that takes you from the Grand Pix jumping circuit to the John Muir Wilderness, was her way of dealing with an injury that forced her to leave the jumping world behind. Cowgirl was a finalist in the Indie Excellence Awards, and was the Founder’s Choice at the 2017 Equus Film Fest in New York.

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Spotlight: Threatening Souls, by N.M. Lambert

threatening soul
Threatening Souls Front Cover (1)
Threatening Souls
by N.M. Lambert
Published by Green Tree Press
Out: October 6th 2020
Genre: Historical Fiction


The sacrifices, the drama, the horror within.

In the year of 1860, a curse was performed over the suburb of Roseway, Washington, which rests about twenty miles south of Seattle, that killed nearly every living resident. After coming back to Earth as spirits, they form a twisted plan that not only provides them with bodies of their own but also kills off all who venture into Roseway in the future.

Thirteen-year-old Rebekah Jensen has lived a fine life in Marywood, Florida with two best friends, a clique that strives to make her one of them, and a boyfriend who happened to be one of the most popular guys in her school. But all that is about to change when the date of her arrival nears, when she starts to see things that she presumes are spirits—and she is sure that she has gone insane.

After moving to Roseway, she gets sucked into an illusion of the dead, coming to regard Roseway as some sort of cult in which they worship a mysterious being that is introduced to her as the Master. Within the months of enduring Roseway, she finds out more about herself and her purpose in the suburb. Teaming up with a friend, who has a dark secret, Rebekah must put an end to the curse before she ends up like the rest of the victims.

threatening souls
About the Author:

N. M. Lambert is the author of the Threatening Souls series, the Days of Darkness series, and The Five Stages. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys music, such as singing and listening to her favorite bands, gaming, reading, and hanging out with her friends and family. She currently fluctuates between Cave Creek, Arizona and Flagstaff, Arizona, since she is studying criminology, anthropology, French, and psychology at Northern Arizona University. Her family consists of her dad, mom, brother, and a menagerie of dogs, cats, birds, fish, and a lizard.

At eight years old, N. M. Lambert began her writing career with a story she wrote for school about four orphaned puppies that undergo unfortunate circumstances. Since then, she has slowly progressed from short stories to novels, completing the first draft of her young adult dark fantasy novel, Threatening Souls, at age thirteen. It wasn’t until a year later when she began to frequent social writing websites, first starting with Inkpop before it merged with Figment and then later joining Wattpad. It was on Figment when she took an active interest in reviewing and critiquing other’s works, which then branched over to editing. At age seventeen, she rewrote her debut novel, Threatening Souls, and self-published it in October 2014. Since then, she had signed with The Polyethnic Publishing in early 2016 to republish her debut novel two years after its original publication.

Today, Nicole strives to become a victim’s advocate while continuing her writing and editing for The Polyethnic Publishing, and she also in the future plans to start up a gaming channel with her branding, Nerdcoleture, and a candle shop on Etsy. She also dreams of fronting a heavy metal band at some point that she would call Bestial Insanity.

Spotlight: The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola + Giveaway

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Join us for this tour from Feb 1 to Feb 26, 2021!


Book Details:

Book Title: The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola – the most famous woman you’ve never heard of by Melissa Muldoon
Category Adult Fiction (18+), 345 pages
Genre Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Publisher Matta Press
Release date December 2020
Content Rating: PG-13 + M. includes mature themes (suicide, adultery, sexual relations, murder)

Book Description:

Set in the sixteenth-century, The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola tells the story of a woman’s passion for painting and adventure. In a world where women painters had little to no acknowledgment, she was singled out by Michelangelo and Vasari who recognized and praised her talent. Gaining the Milanese elite’s acclaim, she went on to become court painter to Spanish King Philip II and taught his queen to paint.

One can’t live such an extraordinary life without having stories to tell, and tell them Sofonisba does to Sir Anthony Van Dyke, who comes to visit her toward the end of her life. During their meeting, she agrees to reveal her secrets but first challenges the younger painter to find the one lie hidden in her tale. In a saga filled with intrigue, jealousy, buried treasure, unrequited love, espionage, and murder, Sofonisba’s story is played out against the backdrop of Italy, Spain, and Sicily. Throughout her life, she encounters talented artists, authoritative dukes, mad princes, religious kings, spying queens, vivacious viscounts, and dashing sea captains—even a Barbary pirate. But of all the people who fell in love with Sofonisba, only one captured her heart. The painter may have many secrets but the truth of her life is crystal clear from the beginning.

Always a strong, passionate woman with a dream, she was an intelligent artist who knew her self-worth and in the end, as Michelangelo had done for her, Sofonisba passed her brush to a new generation.

 Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ B&NBookshop 
Autographed from Author
Add to Goodreads 

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Book Details:

Book Title: Eternally Artemisia—some loves, like some women, are timeless by Melissa Muldoon
Category Adult Fiction (18+), 305 pages
Genre Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Publisher Matta Press
Release date March 2019
Content Rating: PG-13 + M. includes mature themes (suicide, adultery, sexual relations, murder)

Book Description:

They say some loves travel through time and are fated to meet over and over again. For Maddie, an art therapist, who wrestles with the “peculiar feeling” she has lived previous lives and is being called to Italy by voices that have left imprints on her soul, this idea is intriguing. Despite her best efforts, however, proof of this has always eluded her. That is, until one illuminating summer in Italy when Maddie’s previous existences start to bleed through into her current

When she is introduced to the Crociani family—a noble clan with ties to the seventeenth-century Medici court that boasts of ancestors with colorful pasts—she finally meets the loves of her life. One is a romantic love, and another is a special kind of passion that only women share, strong amongst those who have suffered greatly yet have triumphed despite it. As Maddie’s relationship develops with Artemisia Gentileschi—an artist who in a time when it was unheard of to denounce a man for the crime of rape, did just that—Maddie discovers a kindred spirit and a role model, and just what women are capable of when united together.

In a journey that arcs back to biblical days and moves forward in time, Maddie encounters artists, dukes, designers, and movie stars as well as baser and ignoble men. With Artemisia never far from her side, she proves that when we dare to take control of our lives and find the “thing” we are most passionate about, we are limitless and can touch the stars.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Audible
B&NBookshop ~ BookBub
Autographed from Author
Add to Goodreads 

Book Details:

Book Title: Waking Isabella—because beauty can’t sleep forever by Melissa Muldoon
Category Adult Fiction (18+), 271 pages
Genre Historical Fiction, General Fiction
Publisher Matta Press
Release date November 2018
Format available for review:  ebook (mobi for Kindle, epub), and audiobook (audible download
Tour dates:  Feb 1 to Feb 26, 2021
Content Rating: PG-13 + M. includes mature themes (suicide, adultery, sexual relations, murder)

Book Description:

Waking Isabella is a story about uncovering hidden beauty that, over time, has been lost, erased, or suppressed. It also weaves together several love stories as well as a few mysteries.

Nora, an assistant researcher, is a catalyst for resolving the puzzle of a painting that has been missing for decades. Set in Arezzo, a small Tuscan town, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of the city’s antique trade and the
fanfare and pageantry of its medieval jousting festival.

While filming a documentary about Isabella de’ Medici—the Renaissance princess who was murdered by her husband—Nora begins to connect with the lives of two remarkable women from the past. Unraveling the stories of Isabella, the daughter of a fifteenth-century Tuscan duke, and Margherita, a young girl trying to survive the war in Nazi-occupied Italy, Nora begins to question the choices that have shaped her own life up to this point. As she does, hidden beauty is awakened deep inside of her, and she discovers the keys to her creativity and happiness. It is a story of
love and deceit, forgeries and masterpieces—all held together by the allure and intrigue of a beautiful Tuscan ghost.

Buy the Book:
Amazon ~ Audible
B&N ~  Bookshop ~ BookBub
Autographed from Author
Add to Goodreads 

Meet the Author:Melissa Muldoon is the author of four novels set in Italy: Dreaming Sophia, Waking Isabella, Eternally Artemisia, and The Secret Life of Sofonisba Anguissola. All four books tell the stories of women and their journeys of self-discovery to find love, uncover hidden truths, and follow their destinies to shape a better future for themselves.

Melissa is also the author of the Studentessa Matta website, where she promotes the study of Italian language and culture through her dual-language blog written in Italian and English ( Studentessa Matta means the “crazy linguist” and has grown to include a podcast, Tutti Matti per l’Italiano and the Studentessa Matta, YouTube channel, Facebook page and Instagram feed. Melissa also created Matta Italian Language Immersion Programs, which she co-leads with Italian schools in Italy to learn Italian in Italy.

Through her website, she also offers the opportunities to live and study in Italy through Homestay programs. Melissa has a B.A. in fine arts, art history, and European history from Knox College, a liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, as well as a master’s degree in art history from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. She has also studied painting and art history in Florence. She is an artist, designer, and illustrated the cover art for all four of her books. Melissa is the managing director of Matta Press

Connect with the author: 

Website Facebook ~ Twitter ~Instagram ~ Pinterest ~ Goodreads

Tour Schedule:Feb 1 – The Pen and Muse Book Reviews – spotlight of all 3 books / giveaway
Feb 1 – Sefina Hawke’s Books – spotlight of all 3 books
Feb 2 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Sofonisba / giveaway
Feb 2 – Books for Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 3 – Working Mommy Journal – review of Isabella / giveaway
Feb 3 – Books for Books – review of Isabella
​Feb 4 – I’m All About Books – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 5 – History from a Woman’s Perspective – review of Sofonisba
Feb 8 – Olio by Marilyn – review of Sofonisba / author interview / giveaway
Feb 8 – Literary Flits – review of Sofonisba / giveaway
Feb 9 – History from a Woman’s Perspective – review of Artemisia
Feb 10 – Sadie’s Spotlight – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 10 – Gwendalyn’s Books – review of Sofonisba / author interview / giveaway
Feb 11 – History from a Woman’s Perspective – review of Isabella
Feb 11 – Books for Books – review of Artemisia
Feb 12 – Book Corner News and Reviews – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 12 – Stephanie Jane – spotlight of all 3 books / giveaway
Feb 15 – Elizabeth McKenna – Author Blog – book spotlight / giveaway
Feb 16 – Deborah-Zenha Adams – book spotlight / guest post / giveaway
Feb 16 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review of Sofonisba / guest post / giveaway
Feb 17 – Gwendalyn’s Books – review of Isabella
Feb 17 – Locks, Hooks and Books – review of Sofonisba / giveaway
Feb 17 – Splashes of Joy – spotlight of all 3 books / author interview / giveaway
Feb 18 – Locks, Hooks and Books – review of Isabella / giveaway
Feb 18 – Books and Zebras @jypsylynn – review of Sofonisba / giveaway
Feb 19 – Locks, Hooks and Books – review of Artemisia / giveaway
Feb 19 – 30-something Travel – review of Sofonisba / guest post / giveaway
Feb 19 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – review of Sofonisba
Feb 22 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – review of Isabella
Feb 22 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review of Isabella / giveaway
Feb 23 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review of Artemisia / giveaway
Feb 23 – Jazzy Book Reviews – spotlight of all 3 books / giveaway
Feb 24 – Library of Clean Reads – review of Sofonisba / giveaway
Feb 25 – Olio by Marilyn – review of Artemisia / giveaway
Feb 26 – High Society Book Club & Reviews – review of Sofonisba + spotlight previous books / guest post / giveaway
Feb 26 – 30-something Travel – review of Isabella / giveaway
Feb 26 – Books Lattes & Tiaras – review of Artemisia


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