Title: Let the Canyons Weep
Category and Genre: Adult Historical Fiction #OwnVoices
Word Count: 100,000
In the 1880s Arizona Territory, Irish immigrant Adam Donovan has inherited the gift of empathy from his Celtic forebears. From an early age, Adam has been the one his large family turns to in times of emotional crisis. His deep understanding of their needs and his ability to dissect and resolve their problems have made him their hero―their rock. His belief in the power of his gift is unchallenged until he meets and falls in love with Jesse Travers.
Deeply traumatized by abuse, Jesse needs more than the empathy that Adam has always relied upon; he solicits the help of his parents and siblings to show Jesse that real love doesn’t hurt, and real family means security. But even as she begins to trust them, and to accept Adam’s love for her, Jesse is stricken with recurrent nightmares and hallucinations about her abuser. Adam’s failure to overcome her fears pulls him into a quagmire of self-recrimination. His faith in his gift is destroyed, yet he must find a way to help Jesse before she succumbs to madness.
First 250 Words:
The trail split the canyon walls, walls that loomed tall and close and only gradually fell away, clearing the gloom from midday. The rider lifted his hat and drew a sleeve across his brow.
It was much too hot for April, and much too quiet. No breeze stirred the aspen leaves. No birds trilled, no squirrels scampered. Even the brook ran silently. His horse’s hooves, muffled by dust, sent up gray ghosts that hung in the air for an instant, then drifted back to earth. If he didn’t know better, he’d have assumed this ranch was abandoned.
The walls continued to recede until they were close to a mile apart, and the ribbon of trail wound between meadows of grass newly sprouted and already sere. Willows hid the brook from view here, and the aspens and sycamores grew more thickly. But where were the cattle, the horses? Corrals or pens? It was the most desolate place he’d ever seen.
Round the edge of a cottonwood grove, a ramshackle cabin came into view. And there in the shadow of its sagging porch, the rider glimpsed the barrel of a rifle pointed straight at his chest. Pulling the appaloosa up, he lifted his hands to show they were empty of anything but the reins.
A girl stepped out, an old Whitworth rifle gripped tightly in her hands. He said nothing, made no move toward the dark gun that hung low on his left hip.
“Donovan.” It was more accusation than query.