19 April 2014

Book Blitz, Playlist,Excerpt, Book Trailer & Giveaway: Beyond the Reach of Judgement by Jo Bissell

Beyond the Reach of Judgement (a paranormal romantic tragedy)
by Jo Bissell.
Audience/Genre: New Adult, Paranormal.
Publication: April 19th 2014.
“Did we leave any sin out?” she replied with a forced weak laugh.

“No. Between the two of us, I think we have managed to cover them all.” he mumbled as that uncomfortable lump in his gut returned.

Julien Rene Durant was once a good man. Born in France, he took the oath as a Jesuit Priest in the 1600s. He dedicated his life to spreading the Gospel. Now, he was a monster surviving off the blood of others; killing for survival even as he wished for nothing other than for his own extinction. After almost four centuries of guilt and hopelessness, he encounters someone who might just be able to rescue the good man trapped within the monster, but will his judgements deny him a second chance?

Mary Ruth Jacobson-Ryan is nothing special; a small town girl stuck in a rut. Married to the local Iraqi War Hero who turned out not to be the perfect guy she fell in love with before the war, she is desperate for a way out. When things turn from bad to worse, she runs with plans to never look back. She quickly finds, however, that her search for a better future may lead her down a path with no future at all

“I have to know your story.” She leaned in to him again. “Please?”
He glanced around again and back down into his glass. “Are you quite sure? It is an ugly story, especially considering the occasion.” He looked up into her eyes, causing her breath to catch in her throat.
“Yes.” She held his gaze and gave a small nod. “Please?”
He took another slow drink of wine and refilled his glass. “I sailed from my home in France to Sainte-Marie-au-pays-des-Hurons, a Mission in New France, which is now Ontario, Canada. It was 1640. My mission was simple; build a relationship with the Natives and reveal God to them.”
He glanced at her and back to his wine. “It was all very exciting at first, especially after years in study and contemplation and then the monotonous and grueling journey to get there.”
He paused, and Ruth struggled to contain her urge to rush him on. She could tell by the look in his eyes that he was lost in memory.
“We were well received in the beginning. We tried to learn their ways, their words, and their myths. We lived in their lodges, shared their work, spoke their tongue, and ate their food. Once we could understand how they thought and behaved, we could use that knowledge to adapt the Gospel to something they could understand. At least that was the plan.
“The Hurons, among whom we lived, were a fascinating, if savage, people. And our mission seemed to be moving forward as predicted...” He looked away as his jaw tightened.
“Then what happened?” she urged.
“There was constant conflict between the Hurons and the Iroquois, a warring neighboring nation. Then there were diseases and crop failures. Eventually, the Huron started to blame our presence for their misfortunes. Other Jesuits had already fallen victim to unspeakable tragedies in the years before my arrival. I ….”
They were interrupted by the arrival of the waitress. “Have you two decided what you would like?”
Ruth glanced over at him, and he gave her a nod. “I think so. We’d like to start with your appetizer sampler. Then I would like tonight’s special, with the soup. Thank you.” Biting her lip, she hoped she not ordered too much. She did not want Julien to assume she was taking advantage of his generosity.
“And you, sir?”
“I will take the same.” He smiled politely.
“Of course. We will have those out as soon as possible. Please let me know if there is anything else you need.”
“Of course,” he said.
As soon as the waitress stepped out of earshot, Ruth leaned back over the table. “So the Hurons were blaming you for war and disease...”
“Yes. Which made our mission much more difficult. That and the fact that the Iroquois were seeking full control of the French fur trade. Then there were strange whispers about the arrival of the Devil in the woods. ”
“Okay, so then what happened?”
“One day like any other day, in 1642, while I was assisting in gathering materials for one of the shelters, I was taken captive by a group of Iroquois warriors.” Again, he paused, using his wine glass as an excuse to stop the story.
“And?” She knew her eyes were wide with anticipation.
“And...It is an experience I have tried for a long time to forget.” He trailed off.
“Oh, forgive me. I don’t mean to be insensitive.” Feeling her face start to flush, she took a drink of her wine and stared into the glass in silence.
Their waitress approached again, and placed the large plate of appetizers on the table. “Can I get you more wine?”
“Please,” Julien said.
“My pleasure.” She smiled and left.
Meanwhile, Ruth picked at the food as she sneaked a glance across the table.
“It was the first time in my life up until that point that I had ever questioned my faith...”
Looking up, she found him staring directly into her eyes, causing the breath to catch in her throat. “You don’t have to continue.”
“The tortures went on for hours. Beatings and whippings and burns... threats with arrows through my heart and scalping. When I asked why, they told me, ‘because the Devil made them do it!’” He laughed.
She cringed at the sound. “I don’t understand.”
“After they had pulled out my fingernails and driven stakes through my feet..”
“Oh how terrible!” she gasped. “I’m so sorry...I didn’t mean to...”
“They said, ‘We hope your God can save you from our Devil.’ Then suddenly, I was alone in the woods, staked to the ground by my feet.”
The waitress interrupted with another bottle of wine. “Thank you,” they replied in unison and she left the open bottle on the table after refilling both their glasses.
“Julien, please...”
“That’s when She found me.”
“Oh?” She couldn’t help but be curious at this point, despite the horridness of what she had heard.
“Tawiskala. She was at once beautiful and frightening. I was not sure whether to scream or cry or beg for mercy.” He glanced around the room several times before he leaned in closer as his voice lowered.
“She spoke to me in the Native tongue. ‘Why are you here, Fair One?’
“‘To honor God,’ I replied.
“‘Tell me, Black Robe, do you fear death?’ she whispered in my ear, causing me to shiver.
“‘No. I have the promise of eternal life should I be deemed worthy,’ I remember saying.
“‘I too give eternal life, should I deem you worthy. Allow me to alleviate your suffering, Holy Man.’
“‘I suffer willingly.’
“‘But needlessly.’ She pulled the stakes from my feet, causing me to cry out.
“‘This is nothing more than a test. I will not give in to your temptation, She-Devil.’ She dug her claws into my wounds, causing me to struggle against her, but it was useless. Next, she licked away my tears as she laughed. The sound made me vomit.” He stared into his wine glass.
Holding her breath, Ruth waited for him to continue. She almost cried out in surprise when their waitress reappeared with their dinner plates.
“Can I get you anything else right now?”
“No, we’re fine,” Julien responded. His eyes followed the waitress as she left them. “Then her cold touch relieved my pain. Her kisses healed my wounds and...” His lips tightened into a frown.
Biting her knuckle, she felt her pulse quicken. “And?”
“And then..” He looked away from her as his fists clenched beside his glass. “...Eventually, she drank.” He reached up to his own neck as his eyes closed.
He looked at her again, his pale eyes still distant. “Until my body went numb and my vision went dark. I thought I was dead. I felt myself praying for forgiveness as I hoped it would end soon.” He took a large gulp from his glass.
“And then, a sweet taste passed my lips.” He took another drink and closed his eyes. “The numbness was overcome by an icy-hot fire as my entire being convulsed.”
Covering her mouth with her hand, Ruth’s eyes widened.
“When I opened my eyes the next evening, I could think of only one thing.” His eyes shot open, and he stared straight through her.
“What?” She swallowed hard.
Ruth shivered. “Oh.”
“Tawiskala was prepared. One of the Iroquois warriors lay bound nearby.” He frowned.
“It disgusted and thrilled me, how easily I was able to end that life. And once he had nothing left to give, I set off in search of more. Six people died by my hand that first night alone.” He emptied the bottle into his glass. “I can still remember it like it was last night. Each face. Each scream.” Lifting his glass, he took another deep sip.
She said nothing for a long time. She couldn’t find the right words as her mind tried to comprehend the violence he described. Finally, she mumbled, “I see.”
“But enough about that.” He finished his wine in one long gulp. “Let us enjoy this lovely meal. Shall we?” He smiled at her, although his eyes lacked the same enthusiasm.

Jo Bissell started writing in middle school with fantasy stories inspired by books such as The Hobbit, and in fact once turned in a journal project written entirely in Dwarfish Ruins. She then explored fanfiction and short speculative fiction writing. Now, after many years of study, she spends most of her time working as a full time physician caring for hospitalized adults. When she is not writing or doctoring, she enjoys reading, watching movies, traveling, archery, thrift store shopping, and snowboarding. She currently resides in the Iowa City, IA area with her husband and two cats.

Beyond the Reach of Judgement is Jo Bissell’s first original novel which evolved out of a 2012 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) project. She also has a short speculative fiction piece, His Eyes, available for Kindle. Future planned novels include a sequel to Beyond the Reach of Judgement, other works of urban fantasy and paranormal romances, and a science fiction novel. She continues to participate in NaNoWriMo.

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  1. That was quite the excerpt. I need to know more about it.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  2. Hello! Great blog. Thank you so much for the support. ~Jo

  3. Great excerpt definitely adding this to my TBR!

  4. This book is a bit different. I haven't came across a paranormal tragedy for some time how. Make me curious enough to read it.

  5. I'm glad to have peaked some interest! ~Jo