HURAGO
by Catherine Snodgrass
Mainstream Paranormal Romantic Suspense
December 2002
Amber Quill Press

1-59279-971-X print
1-59279-047-X ebook

Hurago--a privately owned island, opened to research only. No tourist traps taint it. Legend has it that the island is protected by a pair of 30-foot female statues poised at the edge of the lagoon. No one knows where they came from and the present residents donít know their true purpose. While others speculate, Jessica Martin, island agriculture engineer, and Edward Chamberlain, island owner, feel the power the statues evoke and know they and their island will always be protected by the giant ladies. But even they do not realize to what extent that protection will go. The story follows the romance of Jessica and Dr. Chris Matthews, a recent arrival. Together they battle old demons, deceased and alive, to reach happiness, with the statues subtly clearing the path for them to achieve that goal. The story also deals with the romance of Chrisís brother, Sean, wildlife biologist, and Edwardís daughter, Leia, a romance that evolves to flaunt the very traditions the statues represent, and one that eventually incurs the wrath of these normally silent ladies...or so it seems.

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~ Reviews ~

This was a refreshing and satisfying novel where love overcomes all. There are many love stories interlacing one another and many friendships made. This story is filled with conflicts, romance, temptation, twists of fate as well as the proof of true community guidance, which can only be found on an island like Hurago. ~Marsha Chicoine, eBook Reviews Weekly.

Hurago mixes a healthy dose of passion with the healing touch of love. Catherine Snodgrass keeps the reader engrossed from page one. Be prepared to curl up on a comfortable chair with you favorite drink because Hurago is a non-stop read. ~Dena Kosche, Women On Writing.

HURAGO is a well written tale with a very different ending. Difficult issues are handled in a delicate manner. ~Jani Brooks, Romance Reviews Today.

This is a wonderful book, filled with the beauty of the islands... This is a book that I definitely recommend to all lovers of contemporary romance who enjoy a beautiful setting. ~Chere Gruver, Escape To Romance.

FOUR STARS!!! The storyline has so many twists and turns, it reads like one of my favorite soap operas. Just when you think it is smooth sailing for these couples, another twist is thrown in. This roller coaster ride keeps you turning the pages until you get to the end. The main characters are fully fleshed out and you can visualize their points of view. You can empathize with Jessica's suffering and Chris' pain. The villains are cruel and beyond redemption. But the island statues provide a happy ending for all! I look forward to reading the Ms. Snodgrass' next book.~Susan, Timeless Tales

The steamy intimate scenes will have readers fanning themselves, but they are not gratuitous and fit the story line. All of the characters were well drawn, and Chris and Jessica's romance was poignant and touching. Some of Hurago's inhabitants believe that the silent, brooding statues standing near the water have magical qualities, and Ms. Snodgrass does a brilliant job of convincing the reader, too. HURAGO is a well written tale with a very different ending.~Jani Brooks, Romance Reviews Today

4.5 STARS!!! HURAGO is a captivating story that braids three separate romances, all of which seem to have events conspiring to make them as difficult as possible. Along with the romance, is danger, both from human agents and natural forces. Ms. Snodgrass handles all these threads with masterful skill, and manages to include considerable humor as well. This is a story I strongly recommend.~Judy Gill, Scribesworld

EXCERPT

Jessica Martin turned her gaze to the statues poised on the edge of the lagoon. One stood at the western point where the shallow azure waters met the deeper midnight blue of the Pacific. The other was near the first one but closer inshore--almost halfway to the apex of the lagoon where a peninsula divided the waters into two equal sections. Over thirty-feet tall, they looked like gigantic ceramic dolls. As blasphemous as it sounded, Jessica likened them to the Virgin Mary.

Their hair was long and painted dark brown, the eyes a cerulean blue. Robes of blue edged in a thin line of red with a larger band of white on the outside showed the detail the ancient, mysterious craftsman put in his work that time could not erase. A glossy sheen of enamel covered the surface. Both gazed serenely down upon the lagoon. With arms crossed over their hearts, a benevolent smile danced upon their lips. A smile Jessica normally returned. Today she did not, she could not.

The tropical breeze stirred her hair until the copper-colored tendrils licked her cheeks. Jessica ignored the attempt to cheer her. The giant ladies were going to have to do more than that to pull her from her fear and depression.

Why? she silently demanded to know. But no explanation came. The statues were mute. Jessica wanted to scream out her frustration. Since the day she arrived on the island seven years ago, they had been a part of her heart, a part of her soul. They saved her from death and, once she put all her faith in their abilities, saved her from the horror of an abusive marriage.

So why this? Why now? Had she done something to displease them? Hadn't she always touted their abilities, even to the extent of being teased by others on the island? How many times had people rolled their eyes and placated her with, "Yes, Jessica?" She brushed it all aside for them--Hurago's lovely ladies.

Now joy over the arrival of a much-needed doctor and two wildlife biologists was marred by the arrival of another --a presence so evil he could only have been spawned by the devil.

"Why?" she whispered on a choked sob.

She heard footsteps smush the grass behind her and blinked away her tears. It wouldn't do to have someone see her this upset. That would involve too much explanation.

"Meredith sent me to check on you. You okay?"

Jessica glanced over her shoulder to Leia Chamberlain. A smile dredged from the pit of her stomach never made it to her lips. "Meredith worries too much."

Leia sat beside her on the grass and dug her tanned toes in the sand which bordered it. Her sun-lightened brown hair dangled to her shoulders in a long ponytail.

"A regular mother hen. I was tempted to tell her to check herself, but I couldn't stand to see her waddle all the way over here."

This time Jessica did smile. Her friend was close to delivering her third child. The doctor was arriving none too soon. "This doctor is certainly a blessing. What do you know about him?"

Leia shrugged and stared at the waves gently washing to shore. "Nothing you don't already know. Divorced. His one child died in an accident. He's supposed to be very good...good looking too--so Gina says. She doesn't know his brother or the other wildlife biologist, but they come highly recommended."

Of course they did. Leia's father wouldn't let them on the island otherwise. Too bad Edward wasn't as selective with his own family.

"Well, that's good. We sure need that doctor, and it'll be interesting to have wildlife biologists study the island. We've never had that before."

Leia hugged her knees and let her gaze follow Jessica's to the statutes. "Amazing how things worked. Just think, if I hadn't met Gina in college, she never would have come here to be our nurse. And she certainly wouldn't have been able to convince Chris Matthews to be our doctor. Guess everything happens for a reason."

Silence fell between them. Obviously Leia realized the phrase was frightening under the circumstances. Nothing more needed to be said.

"You won't like him, Jessica. I can't believe Daddy is actually allowing him to come here."

No, Jessica didn't like Eddie Chamberlain. She hated him to the very core of her being. She knew him more than she cared to. That had been and always would be her horrible secret. "It's a pity Edward hasn't taken the same precaution with his own son as he does with everyone else on Hurago."

His background investigations for anyone coming to live on the island would have rivaled anything the government could do. But when his oldest son was the subject, he turned a blind eye to his faults. And Eddie had a million of them.

"Or to listen to what Bobby had to say about it. They've argued and argued. I still think about that time at the waterfall. If Bobby and Dan hadn't come when they did, Jackie and I would have..." She broke off with a shudder.

Jessica touched Leia's arm lightly. "Tell your father." Someone had to make Edward listen. Maybe he'd listen to his daughter. God knew, Jessica couldn't begin to tell Edward how evil Eddie was. That would involve dredging up more nightmares than Jessica cared to relive.

Leia shook her head. Sunlight glint off the highlights in her brown hair. "I can't. I just can't."

Jessica couldn't condemn her, not when she felt the same way. She dropped her hand to the statue's foot and traced each toe with a blade of grass. "It's hard to believe he came from the same parents as you and Bobby. He's so different...doesn't even look like you."

Puzzlement clouded Leia's face. "How did you know?"

Jessica longed to bite her tongue in two. How could she have slipped so easily? "Oh...your mother showed me family pictures."

"Oh..." She rested her chin on her knees and stared at the lagoon. "Keep your doors locked and your windows shut, Jess."

But Jessica knew even that wasn't enough to keep out a determined man. "You could stay with me and William."

"I'll be fine." Leia rocked herself and focused on the blue horizon. "I have a gun, Jessica."

She jerked her head around. "Leia!"

"I do. I borrowed it from Dan. I'll use it too...if that bastard lays one finger on me."

Jessica gently touched her arm again. This time Leia looked at her. "Think of what you're saying."

"I want him dead." Her brown eyes clouded with tears. "I know it's wrong, but I want him dead. If Bobby weren't flying that plane, I'd wish it into the ocean so I'd never have to worry about Eddie again."

"And what about Bobby and those three innocent men on board?"

Leia sighed and looked back to the sapphire ocean. "I know...I know."

"It'll be all right." It was a lie, but it was all Jessica could think of to say. "We'll keep together. We'll watch the kids. We'll get through this."

"I hope you're right."

Jessica had no reassurances to give. She studied Leia for a moment, envying the way the sun shot streaks of gold through her long brown hair. Sparked by a touch of whimsy, she ruffled her red hair. "You know, I think it's time I let my hair grow. What do you think?"

A smile brought Leia's head around. "You'll curse it when you're working at the farm."

"I curse it now 'cause it's always tickling my neck. It defies a ponytail."

Their shared laughter was interrupted by a shout from Meredith. "We could use a little help in here. There is an engagement ceremony tonight. There are new people arriving."

"Bossy, bossy, bossy," they said in unison, then laughed again.

A glance toward the community building and the sight of Meredith Chamberlain standing in the doorway with arms crossed over her belly set them off again. Before she could scold, they started her way.

Jessica lagged behind for a final look at the statues. This time she didn't ask them why, but neither did she arbitrarily accept whatever fate they were planning. Instead, she prayed for the strength to get through whatever was to come.

The sound of a small plane reached her. They were almost here and she hadn't realized it until now. Bobby was close enough to see her. Had he been alone he would have dipped the wings in greeting. Had Eddie not been on board she would have lifted a wave his way.

Instead, she ducked into the building to drown out the sound of the plane and smother the fear in her heart.

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