Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Virtual Tour & #Giveaway for Wild Within by Christine Hartmann

Welcome to my stop on the Virtual Tour, presented by Pump Up Your Book, for Wild Within by Christine Hartmann.  Please leave a comment or question for Christine to let her know you stopped by.  You may enter her tour wide giveaway by filing out the Rafflecopter form below. You may follow all of the stops on the tour here. 

The Inspiration Behind Wild Within by Christine Hartmann

The idea for Wild Within came because I took an exercise class with a gregarious instructor and a nervous ex-wife. The background is a little complicated. The instructor knew I’d written a memoir, knew a woman in class who had a fiction-writing son and ex-husband, and this all led to my attending a father-son book reading at a local bookstore. Which I did mostly to support the ex-wife.

But during the question and answer, the son emphasized that fiction writers need to find experts to inform them about their chosen subjects. You need, for example, to find a professional football player to give you the inside scoop if you want one of your characters to play pro football. I left the bookstore inspired to try my hand at writing fiction. “But that business about finding an expert to match my interests…who has the time?” I thought. So I decided to flip his advice on its ear. Instead of finding an expert to match my interests, I would match my interests to the expertise of the most easily available person.

My husband, Ron Strickland, is a nationally-known long distance hiker, one of only two living founders of a national scenic trail. He has hiked numerous long trails, including the Pacific Crest Trail. I arrived home that evening and, ta da, I had my expert. Now all I needed was a premise, plot, and some characters.

I wanted to write a romance with suspense, so I quizzed Ron about isolated sections of trails. We settled on a particular section of the Pacific Crest Trail in California. I wanted a female main character, so I asked him about women he met on the trail and the reasons they gave for hiking alone. This led to the premise: “What happens when a woman hiking alone in memory of her brother meets a killer on a section of trail where there’s only one direction for both of them to go?” The characters and plot gradually took shape in my mind and on paper. Lone Star, the romantic lead, was one of the first I developed.

Looking back, the best piece of advice Ron gave me was to write a very detailed outline. But I still had a problem keeping track of where all the characters were along the trail at various time points. I eventually drew a map of the major peaks and populated it with stick figures. I moved them back and forth so I could keep straight who was ahead of whom.

I can count on two hands the number of times I’ve been on a long-distance trail. But spending months with my head buried in Pacific Crest Trail guides and grilling Ron on the details of hiking in the desert and the mountains, in snow and in rain made a part of me want to get out there and hike. Now if I could just get his bear story out of my head.

by Christine Hartmann

Wild at Heart, Book 1 

Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Release Date: December 22, 2015
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Length: 274 Pages
ISBN:  978-1680584196

Available at Amazon

A year after a family tragedy, Grace Mori embarks on the journey of a lifetime…

Two thousand, six hundred miles of blistering heat, wilderness, and soul searching—that’s what Grace signed up for when she decided to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. It’s not a voyage for beginners, but with no husband and her family still recovering from her bother’s death, Grace is more alone than ever. 

This trail meant something to her brother, and she’ll hike it in his memory, but she can’t do it alone. So with her brother’s gear and a small group, Grace takes the most important first steps of her life.

Grace finds something more than peace and magic on the trail…

When her first day of hiking ends in heat stroke, Grace is rescued by a handsome, red-haired hiker who calls himself Lone Star. Grace has an immediate connection with him, and their brief encounter leaves her fearing her soul mate has slipped through her fingers. Although he vows to keep in touch, Grace doubts she’ll ever see him again.

When fears become reality, the only people Grace can rely on may be killers...

Grace is surprised to find notes left at supply posts along the trail. Lone Star’s eloquent letters keep Grace going, clinging to the hope she’ll find him—and happiness—at the end of her journey. But as the trail becomes more perilous, menace grows within the group. And when Lone Star’s letters mysteriously stop coming, Grace fears the worst. 

As tensions flare and a killer emerges, Grace must battle to survive…and reunite with the man she’s sure is her future. 

Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads


Later, after sharing a hearty dinner with the RV couple, Lone Star and Grace pitched their tents in adjacent campsites. For Grace, tent poles went into wrong grommets, stakes came loose, and clips misaligned. Lone Star set his up in a flash and sat in the entrance, watching her struggle.

“I wouldn’t mind a little help here, if you’ve got the time.”

“I’ve got the time. But you have to learn this for yourself, darlin’. Soon it’ll be as easy as pie. But not if I do it for you. Besides, I enjoy watching you. You clean up real nice.”

“Thanks.” Grace curtsied. Her foot caught in a tent line and she fell. Lone Star chuckled so long he had to hold his sides.

“From where I’m sitting, Lone Star, you’re not living up to Southern gentleman standards.” She brushed herself off. “What’s the Texas expression for go jump in a lake?”

“What I think you’re trying to say is that you think I’m about as fine as cream gravy.”

Grace used a rock to pound in her final tent stake and attached its guy-line. “Yes, that’s what I meant.” She tossed a pine cone at his head. “You’re as fine as clean gravy. So is my tent. Not bad for a first try.”

“Not clean gravy. Cream gravy. And it’s a fine tent indeed.”

Once inside her shelter, Grace was too tired to crawl into her sleeping bag. She pulled it over her like a blanket, thought for a second of Lone Star’s blue eyes, and fell asleep before the cover reached her chin.

Cheerful whistling roused her when dawn was still a light orange glow on the horizon. 

She pushed the tent flap aside and made out Lone Star breaking camp.

“Didn’t mean to wake you, darlin’.”

“You’re leaving? Already?” Sudden anxiety prickled in her.

“Sure am. Today’s supposed to be cooler, they say. Still, it’s good to start early in the desert, no matter what the prediction.”

“Wait.” Grace scrambled out. “I can pack up and go with you. Quick as a caterpillar in heat. Or whatever you’d say.” She wrapped her arms around herself to keep warm in the crisp morning air.

Lone Star’s face shone with affection. “Just Grace, your coming with me is a sweet thought.” He took gentle hold of her shoulders and turned her around. “But you crawl right back in your bag. You’re staying put today.”

Her attention focused on his hands as he gently pushed her toward her tent. Warm, firm, comforting hands. A sudden longing enveloped her. She struggled out of his grip. 

“I don’t need any more rest. I’m fine.”

“You don’t know how tired you are.”

“I’m okay. Really.” She jumped up and down. “See?”

“No arguing.” He again ushered her to the tent and waited until she was tightly wrapped and zippered inside. His thighs appeared at the entrance as he folded his long body until his head was level with his knees.

“I loved hiking with you yesterday, Just Grace. My heart is saying stay here with you. But I’ve got 2,600 miles to hike before snow lands in Canada. And my law practice isn’t going to be there forever if I don’t get back to it as soon as I can. I’ve just got to skedaddle.”

He cares more about his work than he does about me.

She fought back tears and willed her voice not to crack. “Okay. I understand. You’ve got your…priorities.”

Lone Star reached for her chin but she jerked it away.

He let his hand drop. “Don’t be that way, Just Grace. You’ve got to have a little faith.”

“Faith in what?”

“Faith in us.” He rubbed his hand against her cheek. This time she leaned into it.

“There’s an us?” 

 About the Author

Christine Hartmann grew up in Ohio and Delaware and loves traveling to exotic, romantic settings. After a college semester in Kathmandu, her first three “real” jobs were all in northern Japan, where she lived for almost 10 years. She currently splits her career between her daytime occupation (improving the quality of veterans’ nursing home care) and her nights/weekend avocation (writing both fiction and non-fiction books). Her husband Ron Strickland is a well-known long-distance hiker and trail guide writer and the founder of the 1,200-mile Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. Christine loves reading, pilates, bicycling, and snorkeling, and health foods that taste like they’re bad for you. You will often find her at a keyboard, a German shepherd at her side, and Ron whispering sweet edits over her shoulder.

Her latest book is book one of the Wild at Heart series, WildWithin.

For More Information
Visit Christine Hartmann’s website.
Connect with Christine on Facebook and Twitter.
Find out more about Christine at Goodreads

.A mix between romantic suspense and literary fiction, Wild Within by Christine Hartmann is an enjoyable story dealing with grief, recovery, family relationships, romantic love, fear and danger.  Colorful characters, emotional angst, good dialogue and just a light touch of romance, kept me turning the pages to discover what would happen next.  If you’re looking for a good read to start your summer reading, you’ll want to give this story a try.

Ms. Hartmann does a good job developing the main character, Grace Mori, right from the start.  Her backstory is told via flashbacks as Grace sets out on a 2600 mile hike across the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in honor of her brother’s life.  A hike she is wildly unprepared for.  I found Grace to be a likeable character and enjoyed her running commentary as she walks across a desert like terrain. 

Mentally and emotionally strong, Grace took care of everyone but herself after her brother’s accidental death.  This hike is both her tribute to his life and a chance for her to deal with her grief.  While she’s mentally prepared for her journey, she’s not physically prepared to deal with drought like conditions and finds herself depending and learning from more experienced hikers.  I liked the fact that she was determined to continue the hike regardless of what she faced and that she was willing to learn from complete strangers. 

The secondary characters were interesting, mostly well developed and contributed a lot to the story.  Ms. Hartmann also does a good job describing the PCT, which becomes a character in the story on its own.  While I’m not a hiker by nature, I did enjoy reading about the trail and it did make me think about taking some longer and perhaps more challenging walks in the area where I live.  The villain of the story is introduced fairly quickly and it was interesting to get their backstory too. 

The romance is very low key, and Grace falls for “Lonestar” almost instantaneously, which is something I would have preferred to have been further developed.  The story’s pace is quick and there are plenty of twists and turns to keep the reading guessing as to what Grace will discover next.  Ms. Hartmann’s author’s voice is easy to follow and I enjoyed the story’s tone.

Will Grace make it all of the way through her long hike?  Will she be able to keep out of harm’s way when a killer joins the hike?  And will her romance with Lonestar be a “trail thing” or the “real deal”?  You’ll have to read Wild Within to find out, I enjoyed it and look forward to reading the next book in this series.

My Rating:  4 out of 5 Crowns


Christine is giving away 2 ($25)Amazon Gift Cards & 20 Wild Within Coffee Mugs!

Terms & Conditions:

• By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
• Two winners will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive one $25 Amazon Gift Card & twenty winners will be chosen to receive one Wild Within Coffee Mug
• This giveaway starts April 4 and ends June 30
• Winner will be contacted via email on July 1.
• Winner has 48 hours to reply.
Good luck everyone!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

  2. Sounds like an interesting book. I'm not normally into nature stories but maybe I'll make an exception here!

  3. A romantic suspense? Sounds fabulous! I love the mystery/suspense genre, and I also love romance.

  4. Sounds interesting my son wants to take up hiking

  5. I'm glad this book has come out now and not back when I was still hiking. Sounds like a great suspense story!