Home Coming Soon Catalog Authors Awe-Struck Hard Shell Phaze Submissions
Subscribe to the feed!
Book Likes!
Book Likes!
Fires of War and Winter

In the early months of World War II, ambitious, clear-headed Melany McKinley meets Air Force lieutenant Logan Barre in Denver, Colorado. To their astonishment, the pragmatic couple instantly fall in love and become engaged. Logan is soon shipped overseas, and Melany meets Free Czech Army sergeant Daniel Wenceslaus. Daniel presents himself as a pesky young charmer, but he is much more, and soon reveals his grim determination to avenge the murder of his family by the Nazis. Brash, magnetic and dedicated, Daniel is also gifted with gypsy sight, and he "sees" Melany as his future wife and the mother of his children. To win her, he ignores her engagement to Logan and focuses on casting his magic. Then as Melany discovers her own psychic gift in the gemstones of her jeweler� employer, the darkness of war descends, altering not only her future, but the lives of many others. The Autumn in Cranky Otter series is a 20th Century American family tapestry, woven of the love stories and luminous psychic threads binding four generations.

A Hard Shell Word Factory Release

C.J. Winters

     C.J. Winters was always more interested in Tomorrow than Yesterday. Then she discovered the American Past offers a wealth of backgrounds for some of her offbeat story ideas. Combining such backgrounds with her fascination for the extra-normal has led to ten-and-a-half books published or soon to be published by Hard Shell Word Factory. Show-Me Murder is a paranormal cozy mystery trio. Right Man Wrong Time, Sleighride, Moon Night, and A Star in the Earth are paranormal romances. The love stories of four generations of an American family unfold in Foredestined Summer, Fires of War and Winter, A Dazzling Spring and Autumn in Cranky Otter. Still to come is a contemporary romance, Mai's Ties, and half of a paranormal anthology, Deadknots. C.J. also has eight short stories included in five anthologies.

     Iowa born-raised-educated and Missouri seasoned, earth-bound C.J. feels compelled to follow her characters through their times, lifetimes, and the gauzy curtains separating them. Although she lives in the Kansas City, Missouri, area, she prefer rustic settings for her stories. Creating intense relationships and helping them unfold through intriguing, subtle or whimsical interplay is her idea of fun. She says, "Story plotting is like weight-lifting for the brain. You collect puzzle pieces and then find places to fit them."

     About herself, C.J. says, "My fantasy life began early, through movies more than books. Star-struck, I played Western roles on my pony, and kept a nightly serial story going in my head at bedtime, naturally casting myself as the heroine.

     "When my career as a copywriter ended, I began writing a different form of fiction--love stories with a different twist than those being published at the time. Then along came e-publishing, and a new, limitless niche opened. Admittedly self-indulgent, I first write to entertain myself, and it looks like I'm addicted to a life of fiction!"

     For more, visit my website, www.cjwinters.com


"Fire of War and Winter is the second book of the Autumn in Cranky Otter Series. I have not read the first book of this series but am now intrigued to find out what the first book was about. This second book of the series was completely self-contained and I had no trouble understanding or enjoying the storyline without having read the first book of this series."

Tami Brady -- TCM Reviews

4 1/2 flames-rare find

"Fires of War and Winter is a novel of true, enduring love and the tragedies of war. I loved it. C. J. Winters, in each book of the Autumn In Cranky Otte Trilogy takes her reader to a different time in American history to show us that love and family are forever. This is Americana at its best."

Sandee McCann -- Word Museum

Overall rating: 4.5

"Well done and I am looking forward to Spring and Fall in the Autumn in Cranky Otter Series!"

Lori Graham -- Once Upon a Romance

Chapter One

Denver, Colorado, June, 1942

"EVERY ENGAGEMENT RING we see is a diamond," complained the Air Corps lieutenant. "Melany isn't like other girls. Can you show us something more unique?"

The lieutenant's fiancée, a striking brunette, touched his arm fondly. "What Logan means," she said, "is that he hasn't known me long enough to recognize me without some identification."

Franklin Meyer, the elderly owner of Kismet Jewels, bent his head to hide a smile. Once he too had been a young soldier leaving a pretty girl to go to war. He was fortunate; having fought for his adopted country against Spain, he had returned to marry the girl. Last year would have been their ruby anniversary. "Then I have a tray of rings in back that you must see. Please, be seated."

As he hastened to the big safe in the work room, Sonja Atwell, his friend and part-time assistant, looked up from the parcel she was readying for mail. "What is your hurry?"

"I have customers I am especially eager to please."

He understood the lieutenant's desire for a unique ring to mark his claim on his arresting fiancée. The young woman, too self-possessed to be termed a girl, had a certain cachet that drew and held one's attention. Franklin suspected that only a man secure in himself was likely to approach her without some hint of invitation.

When he returned to the salesroom, he found Logan and Melany perched on stools at the counter, laughing, their heads inclined and all but touching. He looked forward to selling a beautiful ring to this handsome couple. For a little time, the three of them might pretend that all was right in the world, a world in which so much had gone wrong—viciously, heartbreakingly wrong.

He placed the tray of rings with colored stones on the glass counter before them. "You are correct, Lieutenant. Such a lovely hand deserves a very special ring."

Melany's slim hands were lovely. The shade of a high country suntan, their tapered red nails matched her full red lips, nature's magnet to a virile male. Her lustrous dark gray eyes framed by thick straight lashes reminded Franklin, the jeweler, of hematite, an opaque gemstone blessed with mystery impossible to divine. He approved of the way she wore her glossy jet hair too, winging from a side part, the tips bending inward rather than drawn into tight curls and tortured pompadours favored by most women these days.

"Ohhh, Logan." The sparkling array seemed to draw her breath, to the jeweler a sure sign of appreciation.

The lieutenant's hazel eyes shone his approval too. "Try the big sapphire, Melany. It looks like a piece of the sky."

"Pure glory," she murmured, picking up the vivid blue marquise sapphire flanked by two small diamonds and slipping it onto her third finger.

The white gold ring wouldn't pass over her knuckle. "I can have it sized for you by tomorrow," Franklin said smoothly. "You will not mistake your bride-to-be in a crowd, Lieutenant. I have no other stone of this exact color."

Logan peered at the ring, then took a pair of aviator glasses from his uniform pocket and cuffed them over his ears. The style gave him a studious appearance. Despite his uniform, and a crewcut so short the spiky brown hairs reflected the gold sun shining through the window, he might be a graduate student returning to college instead of going to war.

"You're only pretending to know what you're seeing," teased his fiancée.

"I don't need glasses to know this is the one."

Melany's smooth brow crinkled, emphasizing her strong cheekbones, and she glanced at Franklin. "Only if the price isn't forbidding."

"No, no," he assured her. "Even a fine sapphire like this costs less than most diamonds of its size." Discreetly, as one did in such instances, he removed the tag from the ring slot and displayed the price.

Melany's dark eyes slipped sideways to her fiancé. "It is expensive though…"

"So what else do I have to spend my pay on?" Logan took a single check from his shirt pocket and said firmly, "We'll pick it up tomorrow afternoon, Mr. Meyer."