Title: Angels from Ashes: Hour of the Wolf
Author: Karen Hulene Bartell
Genre: Paranormal Romance
True love is like a ghost. Many believe in it, but few encounter it.
Chloe Clark stumbles on both but, burned by romance and riddled with low self-esteem, she's unable to recognize true love when it finds her. Agreeing to care for her great-aunt Edwina, she travels to Door County, Wisconsin. There she meets Hud, a charismatic Menominee Indian man, who initiates her in sunset cruises on Lake Michigan, the aurora borealis, his tribe’s Wolf clan, and the importance of faith, family, and love.
At her great-aunt's antiquated house, Chloe learns of her family’s roles in the tragic Peshtigo Fire of 1871 and the miracles at the Our Lady of Good Help Shrine. Things get frightening when she accidentally summons the spirits of two restless relatives who begin manipulating her emotions.
Faced with the still-unsolved murder of her great-aunt’s sister at age fourteen, an ongoing family feud from six decades before, and a vengeful phantom, Chloe must help her ancestors find peace to be freed of their grasp. Can she realize that peace and find true love with Hud?
“Did we miss something?” She opened the box but saw nothing except jewelry and photos—no letters, no notes. Then she checked the back of each photo, hoping for a written clue, but nothing came to light. She picked up the box and turned it upside down, looking for a secret compartment, but nothing rattled or opened. She turned it upright and checked the lining.
“What are you looking for?” Edwina eyed her actions suspiciously.
“I don’t know.” She shook her head. “Just something we’ve missed. I think this box holds the clue.”
“Clue to what?” Chloe hesitated to discuss it, not wanting to reopen her great-aunt’s wounds by bringing up details of Celestine’s death. “I just feel we’ve missed something in this jewelry box.”
Edwina sniffed. “What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.”
Chloe sighed but said nothing. Then, searching the lining with her fingers, she gasped.
“I feel something.” She brought the box over to her aunt. “Do you see this lump here? It’s got a sharp corner that’s pressing against the lining. Feel it.”
Edwina ran her fingertip over the square edge inside the lining, then nodded.
“Let’s see if there’s an opening or tear in the satin. Chloe gently tugged at the lining’s edges—first one side, then the second, and then the third. “I don’t want to rip the lining. I could tear whatever’s in here.” When she pulled at the fourth seam, the satin material slipped out. “The stitches have been removed. See? The lining was simply tucked into the edge.”
She gently reached inside the lining. When her hand connected with something, she opened her eyes wide.
“Did you find something?” Edwina looked at her.
“Yes. If I could just get hold of it without damaging the lining.” Gradually, she pulled out an envelope. Turning it over, she saw it was a letter. “It’s addressed to you.” When she glanced at her aunt, she saw tears streaming down the woman’s wrinkled cheeks. “What’s wrong?”
“It’s Jake’s handwriting.” Chloe glanced at the postmark. “It’s dated September ninth, 1955.”
“The day before Celestine drowned.” Edwina swallowed as Chloe handed her the letter. “Do you want to read it in private? I can go.”
“Stay. After all these years . . .”
Her voice fading, her hands trembled as she opened the envelope’s flap and pulled out the yellowed letter. She read silently as she swiped at her tears. Then she slumped in her chair, letting the letter fall to the floor.
Chloe picked it up and handed it to her, but she shook her head.
“Read it. Go ahead.”
I don’t know how to convince you other than swear I know nothing about the missing hundred-dollar bill. Please realize I’d never do anything to hurt you. We’re one.
I love you and always will,
Chloe caught her breath. “So it was that hundred-dollar bill that made you break up with him.”
Edwina drew in a long breath. “Almost, but not quite. We fought, but eventually I would have forgiven him, despite the fact we never found the money. It was my sister’s death that drove us apart.” She shook her head. “For that, I can never forgive him.”
Chloe bit her lip to keep from speaking up. Without proof, Aunt Ed will never believe Celestine’s death was an accident, let alone believe it was her ghost that told me. But maybe . . . Chloe touched her galena pendant and immediately saw Celestine standing over her sister.
When the girl met her eyes, she said, “Look again.”
Nodding, Chloe wedged her hand between the jewelry box and its lining.
“What are you doing?” Edwina sat up in her chair.
“Acting on a hunch.” She reached inside until her hand connected with another piece of paper. “Found something.” She eased it out and gasped.
Without a word, Chloe placed it in her hand.
“The hundred-dollar bill.” Her hand to her forehead, Edwina sank back in her chair, staring at the ceiling.
On the drive to Milwaukee, Chloe thought about the letter and hundred-dollar bill.
Wish I’d had more time to talk with Aunt Ed before leaving. Imagine learning a sixty-year grudge was built on lies. How much heartache Celestine’s mischief caused Aunt Ed and Jake. Chloe shook her head.
But how much trouble is she causing Hud and me? Things have happened so quickly between us. Are our feelings for each other real, or is our attraction some sort of game Celestine’s playing? And speaking of games, why won’t Aaron take a hint? He doesn’t want me when I’m here, yet he won’t let me go when I try to leave.
As she approached Milwaukee and recognized the landscape, she sighed. She had taken I-43 south from Green Bay, which merged with WI-57, which merged into WI-32. Once in Mequon, commuting to Milwaukee was routine. She had driven the same route every morning for the past three years.
Monotonous but routine. Normal. That’s what my life was until I met Celestine. Now it’s paranormal. So much has changed since the last time I drove this stretch. Are Hud’s and my feelings for each other real, or is she manipulating us?
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The main character, Chloe, is an ordinary gal who encounters some extraordinary places, history, people, and (of course) food! The characters and the present intertwine with history in unexpected and fun ways. This love story / ghost story / redemption story is so compelling and enjoyable, I gobbled it up! — Amazon Reviewer
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Author of the Trans-Pecos, Sacred Emblem, Sacred Journey, and Sacred Messenger series, Karen is a best-selling author, motivation