Thursday, 24 March 2016

Time on Her Hands by Melissa Jarvis

A race against time, to save the world.

Title: Time on Her Hands
Author: Melissa Jarvis
Genre: Historical Time Travel Romance

Derek Massey is the enigmatic head of the time travel agency The Lineage.  He makes the difficult choices, ones that have isolated him from everyone. Sarah James is an experienced Lineage agent, the one others look to for help. She hides her secrets and past well. Only one man has ever caused her to lose her temper.

But when the timeline is betrayed, Sarah will have to work with Derek to solve the biggest anomaly of all, one that threatens to destroy not just the Lineage, but the world itself.  Their journey will take them to the last days of Pompeii and to Renaissance Italy, to a familiar traitor and a pocket watch that could be the key to everything. Sarah and Derek also discover each other’s vulnerabilities, behind the confident agent and the inscrutable leader. Danger ignites the passion between them.

When the truth is finally revealed, both Sarah and Derek’s secrets, about their past, their families and their own feelings will come to light.  Each has to make a terrible decision.  Can a new love stand against years of duty?  Or will one of them choose the ultimate sacrifice?   Only time will tell.

Excerpt #1

        Slowly, Sarah sat up, muscles sore but able to do duty in a fight or run-for-your-life scenario. Which she was tempted to do just to escape the inquisitive gazes of those little winged monsters. She slid a foot out onto the floor. It was never-seen-the-sun pale and bare. With a start, she realized she was no longer covered in mud, or ash, or grime from the Arno River. In fact, she was barely covered at all. Perhaps it was meant to be a robe, or a nightgown, or undergarment of some sort, but it failed miserably in that it barely covered her bust, stopped at midthigh, and was see-through. Those cherubs did have something to smile about.
        The wooden floor creaked as she stood up. One of the painted wall panels swung open, revealing a stern-looking man with familiar gray-black hair and storm-raged eyes.
Derek was dressed in a long, forest-green brocade robe trimmed with fur that flared out behind him when he started walking toward her. It added grace to his movements, a physical representation of the air of authority he always carried with him.
        Her mind sifted through emotions, one thought clearer than the rest. Do I remember the kiss? If she feigned ignorance, as her friend Alex had once done with her later husband, it would give him an out, a return to the easy alliance they’d formed in Pompeii. If not…did she want his regrets? Did she want to be kept at arm’s length, recipient of cold stares and uncomfortable silences? No. She needed something solid, something to hang on to.
        “I thought I’d lost you.” The words came unbidden, as did the emotion behind them. Derek closed his eyes, ever so briefly, before he was across the room, his arms around her in a violent squeeze, pent-up terror and frustration behind it.
        “I thought the same. Sarah—I.” He broke off, unable to say the words, though she could see them in his face. Despair. Fear. Longing.
        “I searched the Ponte Vecchio for days, mad, tried every Transport out of this city. But they were all blocked,” Derek grated. “I even attempted Victoria’s trick of using the Transport to move across distances rather than time.”
        He had not let go of her, she noticed, as her arms went numb. She didn’t care. His heat chased away the last of the river’s icy embrace. “It’s been days?” She paused. Even minutes without him had sent her into a panic. “It was only a moment. Just…I turned around, and you were gone. I remember a body, hell, not even that anymore. Some poor soul who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” She winced. Derek must have felt it, for he immediately dropped his arms. A flush crept up his cheeks, but he didn’t move away from her.
        “And you still made the leap. Unbelievable.” Derek shook his head.
        “You taught me well.” She wanted to say more, needed his arms around her again.
        “You should be in bed.”
        At first her befuddled mind took it as an invitation then she saw him pull back, gathering his robe and dignity around him like armor. He still couldn’t let himself go, be vulnerable. She understood, even though she wanted him naked beside her, both figuratively and literally.
        “Did you stay in bed? Where are we anyway?” The questions put her back in familiar territory as she pushed away the clingy Sarah, the one she’d banished long ago. Not far enough apparently.

Enter the giveaway for a chance to win an eBook copy of Time on her Hands, two pocket watches matching the book, or swag and coins related to Florence, Italy.

Excerpt #2

        Throughout Pompeii, vendors hawked their wares, horses neighed and clacked their hooves against stone streets, children darted about, believing themselves free from the watchful eyes of their mothers, and tradesmen haggled their goods with raised voices and handshakes. It was a scene she had seen played out in countless cities and countless eras. She recognized several of the places they passed, standing now in their full glory, instead of buried by ash and resurrected by man.
        Sarah had hoped Derek would break the impasse, but his gaze remained fixed on the road ahead. As if he couldn’t see the people, the vibrant signs of life that would soon be gone. Did he ever regret the “do not interfere” rule of the Lineage? Her throat felt tight, as if it was trying to prevent her screaming “danger” to everyone she saw.
        “Where should we start?” She forced the words out.
        “We are looking for something out of the ordinary in a place where ordinary is an illusion. It was your idea to bring us here.”
        He’d sidestepped the question. A well-used trick of his. Sarah grit her teeth, trying to divorce her emotions from the situation. It demanded logic, not feeling. It demanded the return of her calm, unflappable demeanor. She closed her eyes, breath shallow, and then smiled as the answer came to her, along with an image she hoped would match the reality.
        “The baths. We need gossip, and they are the center of it.”
        “I have stripped once already today, and now you are asking me to do it again?” Derek sounded indignant.
        “I once had to dance on the lap of a sultan wearing nothing but a veil that was not strategically placed and a few gold chains. We all have to do what the job demands. And if that means bathing naked with a few dozen people, well, be thankful I don’t have a camera.” Sweet blackmail. If only. She could at least cherish the memory.
        Sarah watched him struggle with his expression, as if he was trying to reset it to neutral. “I agree to the necessity. I believe the balnea are next to the forum. You are not the only tourist to have visited this ghost town.” Derek strode down the Via Stabiana as if he’d tread it a thousand times before, and she hurried to catch up. His eyes were no longer fixed but roamed the landscape around them, calculating, assessing. The wall was back up. He made a sharp right and Sarah caught a glimpse of a stone etched sign, Via di Nola.
        There were less people crowding the city than she’d expected. Was it the cold keeping them away, or had they sensed the imminent danger of the mountain slumbering in the distance? She shivered, despite the layers of clothing. Not so much as a goose bump marked Derek’s arms, though.
        Derek stopped at a stone building, clearly marked as the public baths. “Do you have more coins, or am I going to need to charm my way in?” she asked.
        “There is no need for you to ah, display anything. But we should agree on a basic cover. I suggest we present ourselves as a married couple who just arrived in town. Claim ignorance of local events.”
        “I see. And what do I call you, husband? Or is it my darling? Sweetie pie? Honey—”
        He cut her off. “Faustus. And you are Domitia. Those are the names in the pouch I grabbed earlier.”
        She wondered which sadistic Lineage employee had come up with those ids. Although the man who made a deal with the devil was an appropriate pseudonym for her companion at present.

Author Bio

We all have two sides...Melissa Jarvis is a mild-mannered publicist by day, and action-packed writer by night.  She writes paranormal romance and urban fantasy, and cites Anne McCaffrey, Robert A. Heinlein and Robert Asprin among her influences. Melissa lives in celebrity-friendly Southern California with her husband and son. A native of Texas, you might hear the word “y’all” a lot from her, and watch out, it’s catching.

For over 15 years, she has also worked in the public relations industry, with clients ranging from the Playboy Jazz Festival to the Los Angeles Mission to JVS, as well as indie film directors and comic writers.  She’s won numerous awards from the Public Relations Society of America LA Chapter for her efforts.  And she’s survived with most of her mind intact!

When not writing or trying to convince her family to let her have a pet dragon, she loves antiquing, crafting, and of course, reading.

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