Today, I am thrilled to be hosting Lisa Maxwell! Lisa Maxwell is the author of Sweet Unrest, Gathering Deep, and Unhooked. When she’s not writing books, she’s an English professor at a local college. She lives near DC with her very patient husband and two not-so patient boys.
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home. Her mother believes they are being hunted by brutal monsters, and those delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. Gwen’s only saving grace is that her best friend, Olivia, is with her for the summer.
But shortly after their arrival, the girls are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and dragged to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey. And Gwen begins to realize that maybe her mother isn’t so crazy after all…
Gwen discovers that this new world she inhabits is called Neverland, but it’s nothing like the Neverland you’ve heard about in stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through your fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and tries to find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the captivating pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to finally face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But can she save Neverland without losing herself?
When I originally wrote UNHOOKED, it had a series of short “interchapters” that told Rowan’s story before he arrived in Neverland. Those mostly got cut from the final version of the novel, but I’ve decided to put them together and share them for a limited time for the YASH!
Here’s the first couple. Hope you like getting to know Rowan a bit better!
The screaming whine of the train’s brakes jerked him from what little rest he’d had. Hours it had been, far too many hours. But he was right enough, he supposed.
Still groggy, he grabbed for his pack, which he’d tucked beneath him, and picked up the now-rumpled box his mother had sent. Bread—a heavy brown loaf, and newly knitted socks and mittens for the winter ahead. Mothers think of that sort of thing. His father had given him a small flask when his mother wasn’t looking. That was safe in his pack.
Down the narrow aisle, down the folding stairs, and out into the teeming mass of unwashed sweat and heavy soot that was London. Kingsbridge was fine enough, he supposed, but it certainly wasn’t as fine as this. No, this was more than just fine—this was a wonder. He’d never seen such a sight—the towering ceiling of glass that made the whole of the station look like it was capped by the sky. Like God himself deigned to direct the comings and goings of the trains.
Everywhere he looked, the drab Khakis of Tommies milled about, waiting. He had no idea the time—probably quite late considering the delay. But certainly Michael would have waited for him? If not, he had the address that had come with the letter. He’d figure it out.
But before he had to, a familiar voice rang out above the flatly accented voices around him. “Rat!” it called. “Over here!”
He turned toward the sound, not bothered now by the nickname he’d always hated. Happy, perhaps for the first time, to own it.
“Mick?” A Tommy was pushing through the crowd, making his way toward him. He had the face of his brother—or not quite of his brother. His brother wasn’t so lean and angular. Nor were his eyes so hard and creased about the edges. No, this man looked far older than twenty and far more serious than Michael had been in his entire life.
But the soldier smiled, exposing the crooked front tooth that had been loosened in one of their endless bouts and threw an arm around his shoulder and suddenly, all at once, the last eighteen months disappeared, and he found himself in his brother’s arms.
“Dog’s bollocks it’s good to see you, Rat.”
The pub wasn’t comfortable, not in the way a pub should be. It didn’t have the warm, worn brokenness of their favorite one back home, but Michael didn’t seem to notice. Hunched over the dark ale, his brother’s bright eyes crinkled at the edges as the others told their stories one by one.
“Fecking Hun didn’t have a bleedin’ chance. Came up over the top and, right then, he met his maker. Right between the eyes he did.” The speaker was a heavy-looking, potato-faced man. His hand was wrapped in a bandage that might once have been white, and his eyes had a wild look about him. But he was funny. Christ, he was funny. He made death sound like a game.
“Was that before or after he shot your finger off, eh?” another man quipped.
The whole table went quiet, suddenly. Like someone had cursed in a church.
“Before,” the potato-faced man said. But he turned into his cup and away after that.
Michael turned to him. “Tell me about Mum. How is she?”
“Worried, like you’d imagine. But she’s proud of you. Tells everyone who will listen and many who won’t how brave her boy is.” He tried to smile, but his face felt stiff.
“Does she, then?” Michael smiled at that. “You’ll give her my love, of course. And thank her for whiskey.”
“That was Da.”
Michael laughed. “Of course it was. And you, Rat, you’re well?”
Well enough he supposed. “It’s strange without you there, you know? It feels like you’ve just gone to town, but then you don’t come back at night. It’s quiet.”
Michael lit himself a cigarette and took a long drag, squinting against the smoke. “All this will be over soon enough. I’ll be home before long.”
“You’d better. I’m tired of picking up the slack for your sorry ass.”
Michael smiled around his cigarette, letting the smoke curl out from his nose as he let out a laugh. “When you put it like that, I think I’ll take my time and stay a bit longer.”
He took a sip of the ale that had long since gone warm from his hands. It was bitter and dry. “What’s it like there, really?” he asked in a hushed voice. He’d heard so many stories. Amazing stories.
The smile dropped from Michael’s face—just for a second. But then it was back, the crooked tooth winking at him in the dim light. “It’s like nothing you can believe, Rat.”
He heard the words, drank up the tales, but never saw that his brother’s eyes weren’t laughing. It was like they’d forgotten how.
The day had turned cold and wet as he trudged through the crowded London streets.
“Son?” A voice called out behind him. “You there!”
He turned, cautious, pulling his sack closer. His train left in two hours. He couldn’t be late. “Yeah?”
The woman who bustled up to him was short and square, and clad in a dark overcoat that made her look half in mourning. Her graying hair was pulled back away from her face in a tight knot at the back of her head, and her hat had wilted in the moist air. “I’ve something for you.”
“I’m sorry?” He didn’t recognize the woman. Didn’t know anyone, save Michael, in London.
She pulled from her pocket a single, white plume and handed it to him, her eyes filled with the scorn. “Here’s a gift for a brave soldier.” And then, without another word, she walked away.
He looked down at the downy white bit of fluff in his hands. Soft between his fingers as he felt. Useless, like he was.
He tucked the feather into his pocket and started walking.
If you’d like to read more of Rowan’s backstory, you can find the rest of Rowan’s story at http://www.lisa-maxwell.com/yashcontent/ You’ll need to use the password YASH to access the content!
Are you as intrigued by this book as me? You can buy it here!
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Before you go, be sure to enter my bonus giveaway! In celebration of my upcoming thriller, THE DARKEST LIE, I am giving away a prize pack of FOUR of my favorite YA contemporary thrillers (because, again, isn’t FOUR such a nice number?)