Meredith finds herself trapped in a labyrinth of caves below the Carlsbad Caverns when she is propelled downward during an earthquake while visiting with some friends.
She is separated from those with her in the Great Room, and lands on a small ledge in complete darkness. To her relief she finds there is someone else with her, a mysterious male who manages to extricate her from her perilous position to a chamber below.
Together, they must find a way out or perish.
An Awe-Struck ReleaseComing Soon...
Jeannine Van Eperen is a member of South West Writers, RWA, Land of Enchantment Romance Authors, EPIC, and a past member of WisRWA. She and husband, Lou, enjoy travel and have visited about twenty-five countries and all fifty states. Her favorite state is New Mexico where she resides. Much of TRAIL TO BLISS's setting is on or near her nephew's ranch in Arizona. Her other published books are Love and All That Jazz, Hearts in 3/4 Time, Albuquerque, and The French Physician. She was the editor of the LERA Lyrics for two years. Visit her website http://jvaneperen.tripod.com
"Golden-Rod by Jeannine D. Van Eperen is a unique blend of mystery, sexual tension and intrigue that is sure to please the reader. From the moment I started reading I did not want to put it down...Ms. Van Eperen never quite spells out what kind of being Brandon is. It does become obvious as the book goes on but this lends to the mystery of the whole tale. With no one seeing Brandon and Merry experiencing some odd side effects from her stay in the cave, it is no wonder her friends conclude that she needs some help, but this, too, adds to the mystery. Golden-Rod is indeed one story you do want to experience. As the mystery builds and builds, you will want to keep reading to find out what happens next in this unique and awesome tale."Elise Lynn -- eCataRomance Reviews
"A trip to a cave to see the bats exit in their masses and a tour of the cave turn into anything other than an ordinary visit. Meredith was momentarily the center of attention when one of the bats flew right at her, but unhurt and unfazed she continued the tour with her friends. While they are admiring the cavern formations, an earthquake occurs. Meredith is separated from her friends in the dark and takes a fall. The earth closes above her, leaving her sitting on a ledge in total darkness. A voice and an unseen rescuer get her to safety. The stranger promises to help get her back to safety. When she does reach the surface again, the stranger has disappeared and no one knows who he is. Was he only a figment of her imagination? Why wasn't he rescued too? A fun fantasy read by talented Jeanine Van Eperen blended with mystery and a mysterious stranger will keep you reading. A tale to please any fantasy romance fan or supernatural reader. Well drawn characters bring the story to life and will leave you satisfied for having read it. Enjoy."Anne K. Edwards
"This was an intriguing story with a very compelling voice toward the stranger. Brandon was drawn out in a truly sympathetic fashion. This reader found herself sucked into his world and caring about his needs and hurts. That said, I had a harder time caring about Meredith, maybe because Brandon was so stark, so real. The further I got into the tale, the more I enjoyed her and their relationship. By the end of the novel, I was cheering for the couple and offering them my hope for truth and prosperity. Good read. Buy the BOOK!"Izzy -- Fallen Angel Reviews
"Golden-Rod is a totally different kind of romance. When Meredith is trapped by an earthquake below the Carlsbad Caverns, she is saved by a stranger. But is Brandon a real live person; or is he, as Meredith's doctors and friend Tom seem to think, merely an imaginary "life saver"? "Jeannine D. Van Eperen's characters are truly mesmerizing. You'll find yourself caught up in a kaleidoscope of emotions. Will true love conquer what seems to be insurmountable differences? Or will these differences cause our protagonists to give up on love? "If you are in the mood for a good romance with an unexpected and twisted plot, this book is for you. Perfect for the "nocturnal" reader."Alice Klien -- Simegen Reviews
Suddenly, Brandon was there beside her, his hand on her shoulder, and his lips captured hers in a crushing, demanding kiss. She drew in her breath as excitement filled her and her arms reached up to pull his head more firmly against hers.
"I was afraid you decided to leave me behind," she whispered when their mouths parted.
"I will never leave you, Meredith."
She loved the way he pronounced her name, making the sound of it so beautiful. "Truly? I seem such a burden, but really, I'm strong. If we need to climb, I can climb. Swim, I can swim. I'm small, I know, but I'm strong."
His smile was radiant as he bent her head upward. "I should not have kissed you, I know. I probably frightened you more than the enclosed cave."
"It's all right. We're drawn together because of the situation. Touching, kissing, somehow gives some comfort." She ran her fingers over his lips. "You probably have someone waiting for you on the outside."
Meredith sighed. "I haven't either."
"There must be men who admires you." When she did not answer, he said, "I admire you. You are very brave, strong for a female."
Meredith laughed, her voice echoing in the cavern. "Ever a male qualifying strong with a reflect on my gender. I'm strong, period, Mr. Battlesworth."
"I have offended you?"
"You get me out of here, I'll forgive you. If you take off and leave me, I'll find a way out myself." She softened then. "But it's nicer with company, Brandon."
"I have discovered another grotto. We have only to climb up to that opening." He pointed it out to her and her eyes, now adjusted to the dark with him so near, saw the slit above.
"Yes, I see it. When you are near, I somehow see."
"After you crawl through, there is a long, low, narrow passage. Keep crawling as it veers downward. I will be directly behind."
"Brandon, I don't think we're alone. All the while you were gone, I felt eyes looking at me. I'd turn but not see anything, but I'm sure we're not alone."
Chuckling, he squeezed her shoulder. "Hodags."
"Hodags? An animal? A cave-dweller?"
"Not quite. Let's sit for a moment." He drew her down with him. "Hodags feed on fear." He placed his arm lightly around her shoulders. "Do not show fear and they will not hurt you, but if you panic, hodags surround you, suffocating you."
Meredith's mouth arced in a small smile. "Oh, they're not real then."
"To some, they are very real. I do not fear them or the cave so I never see them, but I have heard people cry out in fear, and to them a hodag is very real. They are a myth, but do not myths sometimes come from reality? I'll bet you have heard a lot of stories about such things, and sometimes, truth stranger than fiction. Isn't that what people say?"
"Yes, that's what people say." Meredith leaned her head on his shoulder. "When you are near me, I'm not afraid. When you are with me, I can see in the dark, but when you leave, I'm alone in a dark void, seeing nothing."
"I only leave you when it is necessary. I promise, I will always return. Truly, I have seen no one here. There is only us."
"I've never had to depend on anyone before. I plotted my own path. Oh, I felt lost for a few weeks after my folks died in a senseless automobile accident. My friend, Tom and his family, were supportive, helped me through, but mostly, I coped on my own. I hold an important job in a world of men, competing with them on equal terms." She was proud she had always been independent, and she admitted, it was hard for her to accept her fear and Brandon's leadership. She never completely relied on anyone, not even her parents. "But down here I'm entirely out of my element." She clasped his hand. "I'm so glad you're here to lead me."
"And it is time for me to do so." He stood and pulled her to her feet.
Brandon boosted Meredith so she could get a handhold and climb to the opening, then shinnied through it, following his directions. The going was incredibly hard, and many times, Meredith doubted she would be able to squeeze her body through the narrow space. Brandon's earlier exploration and return did not take half the time, and she wondered how it was possible. He was larger than she, yet he seemed to have no trouble keeping up with her, always just behind her even in the smallest of places. When they reached the end of the tunnel, she planned to ask him, but at the moment, she doubted she could crawl another foot.
Breathing hard, she stopped and lay still.
"Keep moving, Meredith," Brandon ordered.
Meredith wanted to retort that he sounded like a drill sergeant, but she did not have the energy. Her body was sweaty and dirty, her hands sore and her nails were broken. Her mind began playing tricks on her, telling her that she was crawling to nowhere, reminding her of the minuscule space she was in, even doubting Brandon was behind her. All she heard was the scraping her own body was making. In spite of herself, she sobbed, and let her fear run rampant.
"Do not cry. We are almost there."