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24 October 2011

Tournament of Champions: Week Three, Clash 5!

*your Tournament hostess this week is Raquel Byrnes

Welcome to week three of the Tournament of Champions! I am so excited to serve as hostess during this week of clashes, games, and prizes.

Today's game is sponsored by Marianne Evans, author of Heart's Crossing. She is offering a $10 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!

To play, visit Elaine Cooper's Blog to find the answer to this question: In the book trailer video on my home page, what is the full name of the girl Nathaniel Stearns falls in love with?

Hop on over to find the answer and then post your answer here in the comments section below to be entered to win Marianne's fabulous offer!

And Now...let's let the champions vie for the win!
Excerpt A
"Goodness, J.T. You scared me half to death sneaking up on us like that," his sister said. "What are you doing here? You never come home before noon."
"I decided to see for myself what kind of secret activities the two of you engaged in every morning." J.T. strode past a gaping Delia, heading directly toward the tree and the bristling woman beneath its branches. "Had I known you entertained the notion of joining a circus act, Miss Richards, I would have offered to wire P.T. Barnum on your behalf."
"Circus act?" Hannah's lips thinned into a straight line as she waved the wooden clubs at him.
J.T. halted a few steps away. Perhaps he shouldn't have provoked her while she still gripped the clubs. They looked less like juggling toys and more like weapons the closer he came.
"I'll have you know, all the implements I use are scientifically researched and proven effective for those wanting to improve flexibility and strength. Dr. Dio Lewis and Simon Kehoe both published books extolling the benefits of proper and repeated use of the Indian club. In fact, Mr. Kehoe's volume included sketches of several men who work daily with such clubs. I can tell you their muscular physique would outmatch any man."
The chit made a point to glance at his chest then roll her eyes away, as if she found him lacking. Him. No dandy from New York who passed time swinging some feeble little clubs in a gymnasium somewhere could compete with a real man who worked for a living. Not on any day of the week.
And just what was she doing gawking at pictures of these guy's physiques, anyhow? J.T. shrugged his shoulders and flexed his muscles under his coat.
"You really shouldn't criticize something you know so little about…Jericho."
He blinked then narrowed his gaze. No one had dared call him by that name in years. He'd pummeled the last fellow who tried—a twelve-year-old kid who didn't think a nine-year-old could thrash him. The bully hadn't reckoned on how much J.T. hated the name.
J.T. silently worked his jaw back and forth. There was only one person who could've told Hannah his given name, and she was stifling giggles on the porch behind him. Choosing to ignore his sister for now, J.T. faced the impudent woman whose eyes issued challenges his pride could not ignore.
He prowled forward, jaw clenched so hard, his facial muscles ticked. "The name's J.T."
"No," she said, tapping her chin as if pondering some great mystery. "Those are initials. Your name is Jericho."
Wiggling his fingers to keep them from curling into fists, J.T. reminded himself that she was a woman. He couldn't deal with her the same way he had the boy in the schoolyard.
"Are you purposely trying to rile me?" His voice rumbled with menace, warning her against such a dangerous path.
An all-too-innocent smile stretched across her face. "Why, yes. Yes, I am. Is it working?"

Excerpt B

Maddy … clasped her hands in her lap and finally looked to her guest.
            “Madeline, as I told you at the funeral, I’m sorry for your loss.”
            She didn’t discern any sincerity in the man, and it grated on her that he assumed he could call her by her given name. She hadn’t given him that permission. “Thank you again, Mr. Johnstone.”
            He cleared his throat. “I know it’s hard for a woman alone in the world.”
            Sarah swept through the doorway, carrying a silver tray. She set it on the coffee table between them. “Would you like for me to pour, Miss Madeline?”
            “No, I can take care of it.”
            Maddy filled a dainty, china cup with the darker pungent liquid before handing the saucer to her guest. Then she poured her tea, adding sugar and a little milk.
            Before she finished stirring her own beverage, Mr. Johnstone had already gulped down the steaming coffee, and his empty cup clattered against the fragile dish. Maddy winced. Her mother’s treasured china was in danger with this man around.
            “I usually drink a large mug of coffee.” He leaned back with his arms along the back of the red velvet sofa. “That little teacup is like drinking from a thimble.” He laughed at his own joke… “Actually, Madeline, I’ve come to talk to you.”
            “I’m sure we don’t have anything else to discuss.” She had long tired of trying to think of topics of pleasant conversation during the meal.
            “Oh, I think we do.” He sat forward and leaned his hands on his knees.
            She felt uncomfortable with him moving even that short distance closer to her. “And what might that be?”
            “I’ve come to tell you that we are going to be married.”
            She couldn’t contain the horrified gasp that escaped. “Married?” Frank started toward the man, but she stopped him with a shake of her head. “Whatever gave you such a ridiculous notion?”
            Mr. Johnstone winced when she said ridiculous, but she didn’t care.
            “That was your father’s plan all along.” He bit out the words in rapid succession.
            Maddy stood up, her hands balled at her side. “That’s absurd. He wouldn’t have decided anything so momentous about my future without discussing it with me first.”
            He rose to his feet, his bulk towering over her. “Now just get down off your high horse, missy. You don’t understand what a precarious situation you are in.” He took a step to go around the table, but she shifted her position to keep it between them.
            “You are not making any sense, Mr. Johnstone.”
            “Horace.” He glared at her. “You must call your bridegroom by his first name.”
            “You are not my bridegroom, and you never will be!” Her shrill words cut through the suddenly stifling air. Her chest tightened, and tears seeped into her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. … “Nothing will change my mind.” Her clipped words didn’t seem to affect the man.

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Item Reviewed: Tournament of Champions: Week Three, Clash 5! Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Raquel Byrnes