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In l890, the country isn’t ready for a woman doctor, but don’t tell that to Rachel Moore. Shunned by male patients at her home in the Cascades and later denied employment by Charity Hospital in New Orleans, she holds firm in her conviction that she can make a difference.
While volunteering her services to an orphanage in the French Quarter, terrifying dreams and visions warn of danger. Husband, Gabe, tries to calm her fears, suggesting the city, steeped in the occult, has fueled her fantasies. But the premonitions are more deeply rooted than either suspect.
Tragedy strikes. Haunted by an evil presence, Rachel returns home to search for answers. Can she put the pieces of her life together? Will she ever again find the courage to care?
The following morning, Rachel stumbled bleary eyed into clothes she purchased especially for this occasion. No doubt she’d raise some eyebrows. Feeling free, if somewhat masculine, she stepped from the porch in her split skirt and high-topped, laced riding boots.
“Morning,” Will Turner said looking Rachel over from head to toe. The deputy didn’t comment, but his smile said he approved. He handed Gabe the reins to a stallion. “Matthew saddled your horse and sent this nice brood mare for his sister.”
“How thoughtful of Matthew,” she said. With one foot in the stirrup, she grabbed hold of the saddle horn and mounted the horse with ease.
“You look real natural sitting astride a horse,” Gabe said tying down saddlebags bulging with medical supplies.
In the predawn stillness, they made their way out of town and into the foothills of the Cascades. A thick forest of Douglas fir towered over scraggly undergrowth and rocky outcroppings. The wilderness provided a sanctuary for bears, pumas, wolves and countless smaller animals—rabbits, squirrels, and beavers, to name a few.
At first light, they came upon a meadow covered in wildflowers, a dazzling rainbow of color. She reined in her horse for a better view. Painted silver by the rising sun, a meandering stream snaked its way through the valley.
“Takes your breath away, huh?” Will said. “Guess this is as good a place as any to give the horses a breather.”
The cool mountain air settled around them. Puffs of white flared from the horses’ hot nostrils. The mare dipped her head and snorted as if tuned to a sylvan orchestra—the cheer, cheer, cheer of a cardinal, the snare-like rustling of leaves and a flute-like whistle of wind through the boughs.
“This will always be home,” she said to Gabe.
“Always,” he said. “Now, what say we keep moving?”
They followed single file along a narrow path.
“How much farther?” she asked.
“About another hour,” Will said. “See the mountain ahead. The settlement’s just on the other side.”
Another hour! I’ll be sitting on pillows for the rest of the week. Putting a hand on the back of the saddle, she pushed up and stretched her legs in the stirrups. Ah, a moment of bliss.
When they crossed the next mountain, a haze covered the valley floor. Only the tallest trees broke through the blanket of white.
“How would you like to live down there? Nothing like waking up and kissing the clouds,” Gabe said.
“Are you sure there’s a community under those clouds?” Rachel asked.
“Yes, ma’am.” Will nudged his horse and zigzagged down the mountainside. Near the bottom, the fog-like mist thinned revealing a row of houses clumped together in a clearing. “We’re here.”
Rachel counted six dwellings. The settlement’s weathered houses reminded her of the shantytowns in New York. Only here in the mountain air, they smelled better.
“Where is everyone?” she said.
“Probably deciding whether to shoot us or not.” Will’s somber face left no doubt he was serious.
“Well, do something. Let them know who we are,” Gabe said moving his stallion closer to Rachel.
“Is that you, Will Turner?” a shaky voice called from a darkened doorway.
A skeleton of a man with long, straggly gray hair eased onto a porch. He wore faded brown overalls, no shirt and held a rifle in the crook of his sinewy arm. Rachel glanced at Will whose narrowed eyes widened with recognition.
“Good to see you, Mr. Zeagler. It’s been a long time. I brought a new doctor.”
The man stepped off the porch and moved toward them. As if tethered by some invisible rope, people emerged from the shacks and followed the old man, the expression on their faces one of curiosity.
“What happened to Doc Clayton?” Mr. Zeagler asked.
“He’s okay,” Will said, “just getting too old to make the trip. He said you’re probably tired of looking at his face anyway.” Will grinned, but Mr. Zeagler showed no emotion.
Sylvia lives in the heart of Cajun country on beautiful Bayou Corne. Surrounded by a cypress swamp, she has only to step out her back door to enter a world of mystery and majesty.
A native of Louisiana and graduate of L.S.U., she lives life with gusto. From camp counselor, to working with NASA, to a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ethiopia, she has explored the world, drinking in the sights and sounds of diverse cultures.
Sylvia is a member of Romance Writers of America and Heart of Louisiana, the Baton Rouge Chapter. In addition to writing, she is also a full-time artist. Landscapes in oil are her specialty.
She hopes you will visit often. Feel free to contact her.
The Sweet Smell Of Death: Everyone is suspect. Lives change forever. Laney becomes a target. Ms. Rochester weaves this work with extraordinary skill. She takes you on a ride through the Louisiana bayous, meeting characters and seeing places you won't soon forget on a quest to save Laney's life. Will Laney forgive Trent when she discovers the truth about him? Or will she blame him for her father's death? The Sweet Smell Of Death is a must read. I look forward to Sylvia Rochester's next Novel. -- Jacqueline McGuyer, Blood Secrets
Sylvia Rochester's The Sweet Smell Of Death is a page turner. She keeps the reader guessing who done it and every time that you think you've figured it out, she adds another twist. If you enjoy a good mystery this is the book for you. She makes her characters come to life within the pages of her books and you fall in love with them just like you would if they were real people. -- Four Beacons, Kathryn, www.lighthouseliteraryreviews.com
When Evil Loves: This page turner keeps you on the edge of your seat worrying about Lindsey and wondering what's going to happen next. Rochester is a masterful writer of suspense and When Evil Loves is proof of that. I'm already looking forward to her next book -- Elaine Grant ~ Make-Believe Mom RITA FINALIST Harlequin Superromance Sept 2007
When Evil Loves: With the release of thriller WHEN EVIL LOVES, Sylvia Rochester proves what a wonderful Southern writer she is. Fast paced and descriptive, the story takes the reader on journey around the Baton Rouge area and the costal marshes of Louisiana. -- A great read! Eleanor Cocreham, WingsPress Best Sellers ---CHOICE MAKERS---RISK TAKERS
Shadow Of The Soul: Another touching story from Sylvia Rochester--this time a paranormal set in 1870 in the Cascades. When the boy in a set of twins is born terribly disfigured, and near death, the frantic father makes a drastic decision which will forever affect his family. As the boy, Matthew, grows up in the isolated wilderness world of a trapper and his wife, watched over by the protective she-wolf who rescued him from death as an infant, his sister Rachel grows up with their parents in nearby Lizard Creek. Yet there is the invisible bond of twins between them, sometimes glimpsed as an eerie shadow that weaves through both their lives. Even as the two siblings are drawn together, there are those who want the dark secrets of the past hidden and the twins permanently separated. Only the shadow of their souls can overcome the evil that threatens them and reunite a haunted family. You won’t be able to put this book down! --Elaine Grant, Rita Finalist, Harlequin Superromance Sept 2007
Shadow Of The Soul: Few writers dare to make their heroes less than perfect but Sylvia Rochester reveals a new dimension to her writing skills when she breaks the rules in Shadow of the Soul. Sylvia offers the reader a poignant story of a young man’s trials in dealing with a severe disfigurement. Reared by a mountain man, befriended by a she-wolf, and guided by a phantom spirit, Matthew Calder’s search for acceptance tweaks the heart strings when he discovers a twin sibling, a mother’s love, and a father’s deception. A truly wonderful story--one well deserving of five stars. --Eleanor Cocreham, WingsPress Best Sellers, Choice Makers, Risk Takers
Courage To Care is a heartwarming book that takes the heroine, a brave young doctor who longs to practice in a time when women are not welcome in the field, on a journey of discovery from the her birthplace in the Old West to the treacherous streets of 1800's New Orleans and back home again. Courage to Care follows this young woman from first love to maturity in a wonderful book that will keep you reading far into the night. -- Elaine Grant - AN IDEAL FATHER Harlequin Superromance --October 2008
MAKE-BELIEVE MOM RITA FINALIST Harlequin Superromance
Book Publisher: Wings ePress
No. of Pages: 294
Paper Weight (lb): 12.5
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