A 3rd TIME TO DIE is a paranormal romantic suspense different from the usual vampires, werewolves & demons. It deals with Past Lives, somewhat in the vein of Nora Robert’s “Midnight Bayou.” Many reviewers have commented on it fresh and unusual storyline, finding it refreshing as well as magnetic. The universal comment is: “I couldn’t put it down!” Here’s the synopsis:
Ashley Easton rescues a badly abused horse, deciding to return to show jumping, the passion of her youth. The animal gives unquestioned love, something lacking from her husband, Keith. But when Ashley begins to compete, she is terrified as the show course seemingly changes into an old forest and the jumps appear as real walls, fences and trees. Her thoughts spill through her head in elegant French. As she attacks the fences with an unfamiliar, fearless abandon, she begins winning every competition.
Craig Thornton, an avid horseman, happens upon Ashley’s first competition, entranced as he watches her jump her horse, Injun. Mystically drawn toward each other, it’s as if they knew the other…but from where? After several missed opportunities, they finally meet, becoming fast friends, their love of jumping horses a mutual bond.
Ashley seeks therapy to address a strange terror swamping her whenever she’s intimate. During hypnotic regression, she’s stunned to find herself in two apparent past lives, first in the 17th Century, on a fox hunt as the fearless French horsewoman who fills her head while jumping, and again, 150 years later in Philadelphia, a shipping tycoons daughter. Both times she is fulfilled by glorious romance, followed by the terror of their brutal murder while making fervid love in forested glades!
The doctor says these are figments of her subconscious, but he’s shaken, realizing those were real past lives, and their killer may be lurking again, nearby.
Ashley and Craig soon discover more than friendship. As these two newly rediscovered lovers struggle to free themselves from broken marriages, others plan to fulfill a 300-year-old legacy of death.
Targeted Age Group:: late teems & adults
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I read Dr. Brrian Weiss’ book, “Many Lives, Many Masters,” and though the subjest, Past Lives and Regression into them, would make an interesting 2nd novel. Then I thought about adding my wife’s experience in riding a champion Open Jumper. The horse became a featur of this novel, from the 17th Century to the present. It started out to be a sort of Paranormal suspenbse, but once I got going, the characters drove it into a Romantic Suspense. They do that sort of thing, when I’m writing.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
After coming up with a storyline, I envision my characters: my heroine; her soul mate over 300 years; an anti-hero; a guide to steer them, who traveled the centuries with them, the villian; and several other characters, mostly bad to evil, to help confuse the reader as to who IS the villian. I’ve apparently done that well, as most reviewers so far have been surprised in the ending.
I use 4 x 6 cards, one for each character (no matter how small a part they play), with their physical descriptions, the likes & dislikes, their personalities, jobs, etc. When something new occurs with a character, it’s noted on their card
She sat astride Injun just outside the fenced show ring, watching a massive dappled gelding attack the course. The young rider apparently had little control over the brute, crashing into crossbars and flattening walls, continually getting in too close before taking off.
Ashley again dried her hands on her fawn jodhpurs and adjusted her black riding vest. She tugged at the white collar of her blouse, as rivulets of perspiration trickled down her spine, despite a temperature in the low 60’s.
Okay, I’m nervous. The practice fences didn’t seem nearly this size. I’ve never jumped any thing like this before. I aughta be better prepared.
Reflexively, she glanced at the well-filled bleachers, fruitlessly searching for her parents, and moral support they could never again deliver. Six years they’d been gone, perishing in that horrendous, flaming collision one icy night on Lake Shore Drive.
She blinked away tears, smiling ruefully. Still she sought their faces in the stands or at family occasions. But there were no more calls from Mama, full of gossip, or Papa, with clever stories. They were the bulwark that enriched her life with love and humor by their very presence… things Keith ceased doing many years ago.
It wasn’t only that she mourned them. That pain had finally been compartmented away, a place she rarely visited. But she missed their companionship terribly, exacerbated by the reality Keith no longer provided much of that either.
Should their joy, that magical connection, have perished so quickly just because of her restrained panic during sex? She never denied him anything and had struggled to enjoy that expression of love, despite her irrational fears.
Injun tossed his head and took several quick, mincing steps in place, sensing the time was near for jumping. She again scoured the stadium but noticed no familiar faces. Then she saw him, lounging by the arena’s railing, his obsidian eyes riveted on her.
Who is this intriguing guy, lean and fit-looking, whom she observed several times in the last few days, watching her work Injun over the practice course? Again the beat of hummingbird wings fluttered in her breast, just as it had every time she felt his magnetic gaze on her. It was more a sense of anticipation than arousal, despite his rugged, somehow handsome face.
He effused a powerful, magnetic aura… and something else. Something more compelling. As if she knew him, but she had no idea from where. He ran a hand through dark, curly hair, his wide mouth and narrow lips twitching into a small grin as she returned his gaze.
She shook her head imperceptibly, returning her attention to the stadium.
Brazen hussy. A tiny smile tugged up the corners of her pale, pink lips. She shifted her seat in the saddle, changing her focus, visualizing the challenging course before her.
All of the knocked down rails reset, the judges signaled her to begin her round. She was illogically filled with confidence, knowing he was there. Why should he matter? She didn’t even know him! As she entered the ring, circling Injun, preparing to attack the course, she passed close to the railing where he stood.
“Stand off a bit,” he called. “He’ll jump anything out there, if you give him enough room.” Surprised, she glanced at him, russet eyebrows arched.
“Show ’em how it’s done, Red,” he shouted, as she turned her attention to the course and began her run. The first jump was a brush and single-pole. Despite the man’s encouragement, a wave of chills spilled across her back. She crouched low in the saddle, driving the roan forward with her knees.
Jeez, that’s a big fence! But Injun cantered in, head high and ears forward, and as if understanding the man’s words, stood off in full stride, soaring over it with ease.
Wow! Beautiful! Maybe we can handle this after all. She leaned left, sudden confidence surging through her. Her grip on the reins changed subtly, unfamiliar but somehow stronger. Her sometimes tenuous seat strangely firm, she eagerly drove toward the next obstacle, guiding with pressure from her knees as much as from the reins.
Ashley squinted, measuring the size and breadth of the jump, a wooden “wall.” The world around her momentarily slowed to a crawl.
Her head popped up at that long forgotten sultry voice, chortling in her head. Why suddenly now, after a fifteen year silence? A quick head shake as she fastened on the approaching barrier.
Eyes watering, momentarily blurring, the course shimmered and flickered like a movie film that had jumped the sprocket. Blinking, she lurched dangerously upright as they charged the fence.
What the…? Where did the wooden barrier go? A boulder-studded four-foot wall, covered with moss and ivy, loomed in front of them.
Jesus! How did that…? It’s so big! We’ll be killed if he doesn’t…
Ignoring Ashley’s now dubious seat and one stirrup lost, the horse gathered himself to jump, not awaiting a signal she was too stunned to send. She snatched a handful of mane, crouching low in the saddle, eyes closed and knees gripping tightly, hoping not to be “left”… thrown from the saddle. No question Injun was going. He never refused a fence.
The jarring shock of landing clear of the jump brought her head up, as she fought to regain her stirrup.
Oh God, oh God! We made it. When did they set that up? So realistic!
Fumbling to gain control of reins and stirrup, they pivoted right, Injun knowing the course as well as she. Instead of the expected oxer, they confronted a huge downed oak, tangled roots, like dancing snakes, grasping for the sky.
That voice again, ricocheting through her mind, joyous and eager, not reflecting her panic. She gritted her teeth.
Shit! This isn’t the course. How the Hell… did we get lost in the woods?
The big sorrel thundered on, oblivious of his master’s confusion, hurdling the rough trunk with Ashley clinging to his neck and mane, trying to regain command of the sweat-slick reins. She managed to thrust her foot into the flapping stirrup and gain tension on the bridle just as they burst upon an unruly tall brush line, bordering a bubbling stream.
Clenching her jaw, she signaled with her knees, leaning low, her head to one side of his neck, as they went airborne, sailing easily over both hedge and water. Before she could catch her breath, they were on to a wood rail fence followed closely by another wide, lichen-clad stone wall. Her brain was frozen, lost to her whereabouts.
Tally-ho, tally-ho! She grunted, shaking her head.
Damn. This is no fox hunt!
Clearly, whatever this was, there was no stopping the gelding until they ran free of whatever forest they had mysteriously stumbled upon, so she’d better take control. Despite her heart’s jackhammer effort to burst through her breast, she grew strangely confident, leaning lower, urging the gelding on. They had to get out of here and Injun seemed to know the way.
Mon Dieu, cette forêt est si beau.
She’s blinked. Damned French, again? This is too much! That language hadn’t popped in her head since she last jumped an Open course, fifteen years ago. That same sultry voice.
Forget it. Gotta concentrate on finishing this alive. What’s got into this crazy horse?
Somewhat in charge now, they raced on, weaving through sparse woods, thick with the smell of fir, hurtling rock and stone walls, trees and wooden fences, hedges and streams, until there were none left.
Where did they come from and how had she gotten there? She’d seek those answers later. Had to finish this first. Broken sunlight, like celestial spears, pierced the woods ahead. A meadow? Once clear, they could find their way home.
As they cantered into a grassy clearing, thunder echoed across the sky.
She shivered, glancing up, blinking again, surprised at the cloudless blue above. Sitting up in the saddle, shaking her head, squinting at the sudden brightness, they sped past the finish line…
Back at Onwentsia!
Back on the course!
Back home, thank God!
Applause rumbled across the ring, reverberating like an approaching cloudburst. Ashley trembled, struggling to stand in the stirrups on shaky legs, looking back, electric goose-bumps lancing her spine.
What the Hell was that!
There were the stands, full of strangers; there was the show-ring, filled with jumps, every pole and wall still in place; and there he was, standing by the railing, grinning as he executed a small salute.
Riding pell-mell through a forest? French in my head? Am I crazy? That velvet voice, like when I was a teenager jumping Lady, hearing French then, too. But nothing like this!
In her youth it was that same elegant Gaelic voice, urging her over the Junior Open courses. But those fences were just fences… unchanged. This was some other world, charging through a primeval forest, soaring over natural obstacles, not a man-made course. She shook her head, trying to regain her full sense of place and time.
Am I going psychotic? She was snatched back to the present by the boom of the loudspeaker, announcing the results of her mystical and very terrifying ride.
“Injun, ridden by Ms. Ashley Easton. A clean round, in an incredible time of 52 seconds.”
My God, 52 seconds! That’s fast. So while I seemed to be tearing through that beautiful old forest, I was really here, riding the course? How can that be? I saw that other world so clearly!
Whatever had happened, she was in first place, with two horses yet to go.
Ashley cleared the ring and struggled to dismount on shaky, new fawn’s legs, hugging the big red horse around his lathered neck for balance.
“You took care of me out there, buddy. You understood what was going on better than me. Thanks.” He nickered, tossing his head, lifting her playfully off the ground. Her giggle was mostly nervous release.
The next contestant, mounted on a huge brown and white Warmblood, trotted past, nodding at her.
“Hell of a ride,” he said. “That time won’t be topped today.”
Her heart still pounding her ribs, she smiled weakly. Nice complement, coming from a guy she’s heard was a Grand Prix rider, mounted on a $200,000 horse. He had no idea what kind of “ride” that really was. Through the lingering terror and confusion, a sense of elation peeked through.
If I hadn’t been scared out of my pants, that would’ve been the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. Can’t figure it out. There’s no history of schizophrenia in my family… that I know of. Belting out “Alle” and “Tally-ho.” Just like a fox hunt, I guess.
Injun nickered, tugging at her pocket with his teeth, searching for a carrot or apple.
“Well, buddy,” she said, her voice cracking, as she stroked his nose, feeding him his well-deserved treat, “somehow we got our first leg toward winning that big trophy. Not doing too badly for a couple of psychotic amateurs.”
She sucked in several deep breaths, trying to slow her still racing pulse. Two more rounds, one Saturday and one Sunday. Win those and she was champion of the show. Would they be jumping fences in the ring, or charging through some magical woods filled with stone walls, streams and hedgerows?
She shuddered, filled with angst, but also strangely eager to find out. Squinting against the afternoon sun, her gaze swept the show ring, pausing to examine each obstacle. They were typical Open Jumper fences. How had they become so transformed in her head? And that evocative French contralto, chortling gleefully with ever jump?
Sighing again, she shrugged, gathered Injun’s reins, ambling toward the stables. Crimson eyebrows pinched together, the corners of a usually smiling mouth turning down. There was little eagerness to get home to parade her trophies. The kids were at their grandparents, and Keith would be the antithesis of happy or supportive.
She sighed, her hair swirling in an auburn cascade.
Pausing, she idly scrutinized the slowly dispersing crowd. Tiny mouse-feet tiptoed down her spine, evoking delicious goose-bumps when her gaze fell upon him, dressed in cocoa Chinos and a chocolate long-sleeve flannel shirt, leaning his six-foot frame against a fence pole, arms folded. He tossed off a casual salute, grinning.
“Great ride, Red,” he called. “I’ll be cheering for you every round. Do it like that again tomorrow, but maybe a little less recklessly, and you can’t miss.” He waved, turned and sauntered off.
Who is this striking Italian-looking guy, with curly inky hair and a lean, equestrian physique?
He seems so familiar. Is it a coincidence he pops out of nowhere, and suddenly her world seems transformed, her head bubbling with French while she blazes around the course, flying over walls and trees in some mysterious forest she doesn’t even recognize?
Reckless indeed. He should only know how easy it was… once I swallowed my heart and took some kind of control!
I should meet him. Maybe Sunday, after my last competition. He said he would be there. Wonder what the world gonna look like when I entered the ring then? Scary, again?
Despite the afternoon’s mild temperatures, she wrapped her arms around herself, shivering.
George A. Bernstein is the retired President of a Chicago company, now living in south Florida. “A 3rd Time to Die” is his 2nd novel. His first, “Trapped,” was a winner in the TAG Publisher’s “Next Great American Novel,” subsequently published by them, and received high praise, gaining about eighty
5-star & 4-star reviews at Amazon & Goodreads.
He’s also a “World-class” fly-fisherman, having held a dozen IGFA World Records, and has published “Toothy Critters Love Flies” (www.pikeflyguy.com), the definitive book on fly-fishing for pike & musky.
Feel free to visit George at his fiction web site: http://www.suspenseguy.com
Links to Purchase Print Books
Link to Buy A 3rd Time to Die- Print Edition at Amazon
Link to Buy A 3rd Time to Die- Print Edition at Barnes and Noble
Link to A 3rd Time to Die- Print book for sale via at CreateSpace
Link to A 3rd Time to Die- Print book for sale via other sites