Guest Author Monday

Today please welcome our guest author — Sandy Loyd

When friends ask me what I love best about living in Kentucky, the list is long. The people are warm and welcoming. The weather isn’t too bad. Louisville is big enough to provide a cosmopolitan feel without the downside of larger cities like congestion and traffic. But what I love most about living here is having a thoroughbred racetrack right in my back yard. Not just any racetrack, mind you, but Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby, a horserace that’s run every first Saturday in May and is the beginning leg of the triple crown of thoroughbred horse racing.

Back when I was a newcomer to Louisville, Churchill Down’s beginning interested me, so I researched it never realizing how difficult the early 1870s were in US history. Citizens were still recovering from the War between the States as well as a recession. In my opinion, the country needed a reason to celebrate and Louisville gave it to them in the form of the Kentucky Derby. It’s been a big party from that first race when an estimated 10,000 people watched fifteen horses compete for the win that has only grown in size and popularity. 2012 was a record breaking year for the Derby when nineteen thoroughbreds raced for a crowd of over 165,000. It’s been touted as being the most exciting two minutes in sports and anyone who has watched those fast majestic animals race can surely understand why.

As a writer, I became more intrigued. I decided it would be a fun topic to write a story about it. My main goal was to show that time through today’s eyes, so the reader can appreciate the vision a few men had for their city and that of the racetrack they built. Time Will Tell gives the reader a glimpse of what went on in the summer of 1874, when visionaries put their dreams into motion.

Romance and adventure…and a trip to where an American tradition began…

TIME WILL TELLLibby Edwards, a gifted horsewoman, unwittingly wishes herself back in time to Louisville, Kentucky just before Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby become a reality. During Libby’s journey in the past, she stumbles upon her destiny. Unfortunately, he’s in the wrong century. In 1874, there’s no electricity, no internet, no modern medicine, no antibiotics—no Starbucks! And even worse than that, women have no rights. Libby has no desire to stay.

Widower, Colin Thorpe, a renaissance man of his time, has big dreams. He is a horse breeder who names his thoroughbreds after Mythological Gods because he has a reverence for past cultures and an appreciation for the unexplainable.

Libby and Colin can’t resist falling in love with each other. After all, Colin accepts Libby for who she is and she understands Colin’s dreams better than his deceased wife ever did. Yet he grasps early on that Libby doesn’t belong in 1874. And because his wife never adapted to the move from Virginia to Kentucky, becoming bitter and unhappy in the process, he won’t take the chance of the same thing happening to Libby. Can these two lovers find a way to be together despite their challenges?

Below is an excerpt from Time Will Tell:

Libby’s gaze followed Nathan’s finger. A group of men were leaving the main stable. Two, who were complete opposites in coloring but physically very similar, stood out among them. They split from the others and stopped to talk. Both were tall and broad-shouldered, sporting the lean, muscular build of active males, one blond and one with jet-black hair. She couldn’t see their faces and figured they’d both be good-looking, but it was the darker-haired man who caught her attention. Something about his presence held her gaze. She spent a long moment staring, sensing a strong connection and trying to understand why.

“Does Mr. Thorpe have black hair?” Since the blond boy was paler than her, with startling blue eyes, it seemed a good guess.

Nathan nodded.

Her gaze returned to the two men, and Libby watched them disappear into the main house. Would they believe she was a boy and let her work until she figured things out? Or would they tell her to get lost?

“What’s Mr. Thorpe like?” Maybe Nathan could enlighten her more about the owner, which might help her secure a job working with his horses until she found her way home.

“I dunno. Nice, I s’pose. My pa’s helping him build a thoroughbred stud farm.”

Libby looked around the land. Was this the beginnings of the original farm?

Just then she saw a man riding a horse off in the distance. The animal had rivulets of sweat running down his sides and looked to be struggling. When the horse flat-out stopped, the man began whipping the beast.

Incensed, Libby pointed. “Look at that! Do all of Mr. Thorpe’s men ride their horses to death?”

Nathan squinted. His gaze followed her finger. He shook his head. “He must be new. If Pa saw anyone riding a horse too hard or beating ’im, he’d take the whip away and start using it on the fellow doin’ the whippin’. I seen him do it.”

Her anger mounting, Libby clenched her fists as the rider bullied the horse into obeying him. As they rode out of sight, she tamped down the frustration of feeling helpless. Even if it were possible to catch up with him, she was powerless to act. This was another era, one where men who treated animals cruelly usually got away with it. Those same men probably got away with abusing women and children too.

“Don’t worry, Libby,” Nathan said, patting her hand. “I’ll tell Pa. He’ll send him packing. You just wait and see if he don’t.”

Libby nodded and offered a slight smile. Then remembering her plight, she asked, “Do you think now might be a good time to see about that job?”

“Sure.” He climbed down with a minimum of movements and waited for her at the tree’s base. When she had both feet planted firmly on the ground, he grabbed her hand, pulling her along. “Hell an’ tarnation, let’s go before they leave the stables.”

“Hell and tarnation?” Libby eyed him with raised eyebrows, grinning.

“Yeah. Heard my pa say it once.” Nathan shrugged. “Sounds important. I like saying important stuff.” As they walked toward the main house, he pointed to the left. “The fishin’ hole’s that way. Maybe we can fish after you get your job.”

“I don’t see why not.” Two pressing questions consumed Libby as she kept up with the boy. What was so important to bring her all this way, and would she be able to wish herself back home once she learned it?

Along their short trek, the two came up with a believable story. Libby heard about the Thorpe farm through word of mouth. She, or he in this case, had come on foot from Louisville after arriving on a steamboat from Cincinnati looking for fame and fortune, like so many others who preceded her.

They neared the main stable. Libby looked around in awe. Though the structure stood in the same spot as the one in the twenty-first century, the other buildings were missing. Everything looked timeless. Even the Thorpe house appeared much the same as the house she was very familiar with. The differences were so minor. The trees were smaller and the main landscaping had changed.

A loud whinny cut into the air, the piercing sound of distress belying the peaceful setting. Libby ran the few feet to the stable door and shoved it open. Nathan followed.

“Stop that,” Libby shouted as the man she’d seen from atop her perch struck the overridden, sweating horse.

Enraged, she rushed over to him and yanked the whip out of his hand. Unable to control her temper at seeing such a beautiful animal being abused, not just once, but twice, she drew the whip back and hit him with it as hard as she could.

“Why, you little bastard.” Anger flared in his eyes. “I’ll teach you to mind your betters.” He backhanded her, sending her flat on her back.

For a moment Libby could only see stars. Never in her life had anyone struck her. Shaking her head to clear it, she spied Nathan grab on to the monster’s arm to keep him from laying into her. The boy, half her size, clearly waged a losing battle. The monster broke free and she closed her eyes, bracing for the next blow. In those few seconds, her life flashed inside her brain, a quick video telling her she was too young to die.

“What the hell is going on?” said a booming voice. Libby opened her eyes just as the whip her attacker was about to wield on her was torn from his grasp. Her focus trailed down her savior’s arm to a broad chest, then moved higher to take in a handsome face, reddened in anger.

“He was whipping the horse,” Nathan said, wiping his tears and sniffling. “When my frien’ Libby stopped him, he hit him. He knocked me down and was meanin’ to whip my frien’.”

The black-haired man, obviously Mr. Thorpe, considering the boy had pointed him out earlier, turned his focus to her attacker. While he dealt with him, Libby jumped up, more concerned with calming the heavily panting horse. “That’s OK, big guy,” she crooned, grabbing his bridle and staying out of kicking range. “That bad man won’t hurt you anymore. I’ll make sure of it.” She stroked his sweaty neck, digging her fingers in to soothe him.

“You were warned, Smithers. I want you off my land.” As her attacker walked to the animal Libby was trying to calm, Thorpe shook his head. “Without the horse.”

“I ain’t going nowhere without my mount.”

Ignoring the two men, Libby continued her deep strokes, talking to the stallion in a soft tone the entire time. Eventually, the horse’s nervous panting became even breathing and he quieted, even nudging Libby for more when she dropped her hand. She laughed. “You like that, do you?”

By this point, several men had gathered to form a half circle around them.

“Pay the man for his mount.” Thorpe turned to the tall blond man in the center, the same one Nathan had identified as his dad. “And have someone escort him to the edge of my property.”

“I won’t forget this.” Smithers looked over at Libby and she swore hatred shone in those beady eyes. “You should learn to mind yer own business, boy,” he said, sneering. “You’ll be sorry you ever messed with Clyde Smithers.” He picked his hat off the ground and dusted it off. “You’ll all be sorry.” He shoved the hat on his head, took the offered money, and stormed out, shrugging off the hands belonging to the two men heeding their boss’s order.

“I’ll take care of the stallion, son,” Nathan’s dad said. Libby handed him the reins. As he led the horse away, she glanced up and got her first good look at Colin Thorpe. In an attempt to ascertain what he was like, she stared at him for a minute, startled at how attractive he was. He wore dark, formfitting pants that tapered to fit inside worn riding boots and a white muslin shirt with the sleeves rolled up, showing off well-defined forearms. He could easily grace the cover of one of her romance novels.

He noticed her attention and their gazes met.

For several moments, steady oceanic eyes held hers. Time seemed to stand still. A deer in headlights came to mind when she couldn’t look away. His eyes conveyed a warm intelligence, but they were curious at the same time. Finally, Libby cast her gaze down at her feet. Heat crept up her face and she knew it was probably beet red, a by-product of being blonde and female. Don’t let him realize I’m a girl, she prayed, busying herself with brushing off her jeans. That would bring up questions she did not want to even begin to attempt to answer.

“Are you OK, young man?” He touched her shoulder and his fingers slid higher to take her chin. He studied her face, concern etched into his expression. “Doesn’t look too bad.”

He smiled, and it was all she could do to continue breathing. That devastating smile, along with that intense gaze, did strange things to her insides.

“I’m Colin Thorpe.”

Unable to speak, she just nodded and took his offered hand. She cleared her throat, trying to ignore the warmth of his fingers, also trying to figure out why he affected her so.

“This is my frien’ Libby,” Nathan chimed in, coming to her rescue. “He’s lookin’ for work.”

“Is he now?” Colin dropped her hand and turned to the blond man striding up behind him. “What do you think, Gus?”

Ja.” Gus nodded. “We could always use a hand like you.” Even though his gaze wasn’t as troubling, the fact that she was lying about her gender added to the warmth in her cheeks. “You’ve a way with horses, boy.”

“Yes,” she croaked out. “I love horses. I’ve worked around them most of my life.” Libby took a deep breath and added, sounding more convincing, “Some even say I’m gifted.”

“I say hire the boy.” Gus turned to Colin.

Colin nodded. “Hell, it’s the least we can do to thank him for risking his neck to save that fine animal from more abuse.” He clapped her on the back and offered another smile—one so irresistible, Libby had to look away. “In fact, we could use your help right now, since I had to fire Smithers.”

“Can I help too,” Nathan asked.

Colin shrugged. “I don’t see why not. You can help your friend there.” He glanced at Gus for confirmation. “If that’s OK with your pa.”

Ja, you two can muck out the dirty stalls. Just try to stay out of everyone’s way, son.”

As they strode away, Libby exhaled a sigh of relief.

A beaming Nathan grabbed her hand. “Did you hear that? He’s letting me help you.” He started walking in the same direction the two had taken. “Pa likes you. An’ I think Mr. Thorpe does too.” Libby had no choice but to follow. This was turning into an interesting adventure, she decided, even as her main question about being here still loomed.

She and Nathan cleaned out the first of several stalls. Both picked up horse manure with pitchforks and tossed it into a wheelbarrow before adding fresh straw and moving to the next stall. While silently working, she thought back to her wish and what it meant to no avail.

When the wheelbarrow was full, Libby hefted up the handles and unsteadily pushed it toward the rear of the stable door. Her arms ached from exertion and it was hard to keep her forward momentum. The wheel hit a small hole in the dirt floor and her load almost tipped over.

“Here, let me help you with that, young fellow,” said a booming voice that had become all too familiar during the last few hours.

Libby looked up and sure enough, Colin Thorpe stood right behind her.

He relieved her of the bulky burden and their fingers touched. It hadn’t helped that too many times he’d caught her staring at him when he’d pass by. He must really think she was daft.

Her face warmed and Libby cleared her throat, stilling the urge to run. She doubted the trees sent her here to find another man attractive, but she wouldn’t be female and not be affected by him when he appeared so handsome, like some rugged horseman modeling men’s cologne.

She got a whiff of her own perfume, eau de horse, looked down, and groaned. Her blouse and jeans were covered in sweat and grime and her once clean boots had clumps of manure around the soles. There was no avoiding it with this many horses. Here she was, staring into the eyes of one of the most striking males on the planet, and she just happened to look worse than usual. Of course, none of that should matter because he assumed she was a boy. Not to mention Libby was an engaged woman.

It would certainly be nice if the trees helped her figure out what to do about Dave. Yet, having bigger issues to deal with at the moment than the purpose of her time travel, she followed Colin out the door.

He easily emptied the barrow and offered it back to her. Unfortunately, he also offered that thousand-watt smile that kept doing funny things to her insides whenever she saw it.

Averting her gaze, Libby tried hard not to gush as he walked away. The man would definitely be a heartthrob in her day. Too bad he’s here in the past, she thought, veering the now easier conveyance back to the stall where Nathan waited. But then it really didn’t matter. She wasn’t the type to draw the attention of men like that. Not that she even wanted to.

She hadn’t dated much in high school, too busy spending time with her horses. In college, she had little interest in dating and had never had a serious relationship until Dave. Her thoughts flew back to when they’d first met and a smile broke free. He’d been so romantic. The memory of their courtship resurfaced and she remembered why she fell in love with him. A rush of homesickness pulsed through her and a thought struck. Maybe this trip into the past was meant to make her aware of what was important in relationships. Dave had some wonderful qualities and she really did love him. Maybe her answer lay in communicating her feelings better.

Libby grabbed the pitchfork, barely able to lift it, and prayed for it to be so. Then wishing would take her home.

Born and raised in Salt Lake City, Sandy Loyd considers herself a Western girl through and through. As a sales rep for a major manufacturer, she’s had the chance to live and work in some fSandyLoydabulous places, including South Florida. She’s traveled extensively throughout the US, and has a million stored memories to draw from for her stories. Sandy spent her single years in San Francisco and considers that city one of America’s treasures, comparable to no other city in the world. Her California Series, beginning with Winter Interlude, are all set in the Bay Area.

After living on both coasts, she now calls Kentucky home, where she writes full time. Yet, as much as she loves Louisville, she misses the mountains and has to go back to her roots to get her mountain and skiing fix at least once a year to enrich her muse.

She’s recently become an empty nester and has published four contemporary romances, four romantic mysteries, one time travel, one historical connected with the time travel story and another to follow. She strives to come up with fun characters—people you would love to call friends. And we all know friends have their baggage and when we discover what makes them tick, we come to love them even more. She tries not to skimp on the romance. And because she loves puzzles, she doesn’t skimp on intrigue, either. Yet, whether romantic suspense or contemporary romance, there is always a warm love story woven into her work along with enough twists and turns to entertain any reader.

One thought on “Guest Author Monday

  1. This sounds like such a great read! I love the uniqueness of it, and of course, the time travel aspect. Loved the excerpt, too, it really made me want to read more. Did I miss the buy link on this one? I don’t see where it’s available and I’d like to know more.

    Best of luck with it, Sandy!

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