Novels

Novels by Leigh Podgorski, including downloadable content. For more information, contact us at info@violethillsproductions.com.
Under the Hill Productoins - Novels
(Synopses)

Western Song

Download Chapter One of Western Song Download Chapter One of Western Song
(© 2017. Adobe Acrobat .pdf, 207 KB)
Solstice Publishing

    When Weston Beaudurant’s buddy, rodeo clown Cody Goode is killed in a rodeo accident — gored by the maniacal bull Baby Face that Weston is riding, Weston is consumed with guilt. The day after the accident, while going through Cod’s papers, lawyer Wynona Vasquez discovers that he had been secretly engaged to a Thai immigrant who is arriving by train that evening.
Elected by unanimous decision to be the welcoming committee, Weston arrives at the train station prepared for anything but the lovely forlorn creature he finds waiting in the rain. Though appearing waif-like, Song Phan-Rang is anything but fragile. Her mettle quickly rises to the surface in her determination to remain in Y-oh-ming.
Forced together by their circumstances, Weston and Song are explosive. Used to solitude, Weston is driven crazy by the obliging Song. But as Song shows her prowess not only as a housekeeper and cook, but as a rider and rancher as well, Weston discovers that against his best efforts (and damned if he’ll ever admit it) — he’s falling in love.
The morning after the Christmas Cotillion, where cowboys by the dozen lined up for a dance with the exotic Song, and Weston wrangled the last one, she discovers her visa has expired. Pledging her Uncle Thieu’s farm in Thailand as a dowry, Song asks Weston to marry her. Swearing that this is not a good idea at all — he does.
Song blossoms in America. Weston’s sister Olive, a schoolteacher, helps Song with her English, and introduces her to the ideas of the Founding Fathers, most notably Tom Paine. Firebrand and activist Wynona employs Song in her office. Her first assignment is working with Shoshone shaman MAD BULL and Bull’s young assistant, Jack Deerstalker as they fight a referendum that would allow gambling on their reservation.
As winter melts into spring, Song and Weston continue to profess their marriage is simply one of convenience, though it is obvious to everybody that the two are in love. Obvious to everyone that is, but Jack Deerstalker who has fallen for her himself.
One night as Weston returns earlier than expected from a rodeo, he finds Jack in his living room, alone with Song. Enraged, Weston explodes, throwing Jack out of the house.
That night a fierce winter storm blows. The creek rises and floods, endangering thirty head of cattle caught on the other side. Song springs into action, riding side by side with Weston. When a baby calf slips into the icy creek, Song plunges in after it. Together, Weston and Song pull the animal free. Weston is knocked speechless by her bravery. Later, as he warms her by a roaring fire, Song and Weston make love for the first time.
A few days later, Wynona and Song are introduced to the case of illegal immigrant Thai workers, forced to toil as slaves in the garment industry in El Segundo, California. Song becomes deeply involved with the workers and their plight – the search for a desperate promise of freedom. With her work, she discovers the power true freedom holds.
But her work and growing sense of the true power of freedom begins to tear at the budding love between Weston and Song.
Meanwhile, the referendum Jack, Wynona, and Song fought so hard against has been defeated. There will be no gambling on the reservation. Jack organizes a rodeo to raise money for an investment deal for the reservation. Weston agrees to ride – on one condition. Jack gets the bull, Baby Face that killed Cody.
The night before the rodeo, Weston finds a letter Song has written to the garment workers she is helping. “We are, every one of us, entitled to a life with dignity. To life with honor. There are those who would attempt to steal our dignity, to seize our honor. But it is only when we allow this deepest core of our being to be ripped from us that we become enslaved. Remember, you, too, have been touched by God.”
The next morning, Weston leaves for the rodeo without her.
At the rodeo, in an eerie replay of Cody’s accident, the bull throws Weston. Song nurses Weston back to health, but still torn between freedom’s power and her growing love, Song knows she must ultimately choose.
Several weeks later, with Weston well on his way to mending, Song and Olive host a dinner party at Snowy Moon to celebrate Weston’s recovery. Along with Zeb, Jack Deerstalker and Mad Bull are there to join in the festivities. But in the middle of the revelry, the phone rings: it’s Jenny Chang and it’s about the case of the immigrant workers.
Catching Song’s eye on her return to the table, Weston asks her to step outside. There, with a breaking heart, underneath the star-studded canopy of their beloved Wyoming sky, Song tells Weston she has to go.
Softly he tells he knows. But he asks if he can borrow her for one more day.
The next day Weston takes Song across the state to a tiny Wyoming town, a town she knows well-Iron Mountain Springs—the town of her Wyoming ancestors.
At first angry and frightened, angered by his deceit of keeping this secret from her, Song demands Weston turn around and take her back to Wild River. But Weston convinces her to stay, and Song meets the family she has only dreamed about, the family created when an American G.I. fell hopelessly in love with a young Vietnamese girl, her grandmother.
That night, though sure of Weston’s love, Song tells Weston the story of the nightingale in the gilded cage. “There are all kinds of cages, Weston. …Some even most luxurious and desirable. But still, cages all the same.”
The next day, after an excruciating ride home from Iron Mountain springs the day before, Weston drives Song to the train station.
Returning to the ranch, Weston, still suffering from his injuries, limps painfully to the corral, and saddles up his horse. He rides across the rolling plains to the waterfall where he and Song had spent so much time in happier times now long gone by. Watching the water tumble by like his lost hope, suddenly, Weston picks up a stone, and fires it into the tumultuous fall. He whistles for his horse, and throws himself into the saddle.
Across the plains, the train continues to roll. Inside, an uproar arises among the passengers. Song forces her way to the window.
Outside, riding like hell, is Weston.
Song’s heart begins to pound.
And suddenly, she knows….Finally, she knows.
Song grabs her suitcase, and elbows her way through the crowd.
Before the train fully stops, she is bounding from the platform…and rushing into Weston’s arms.

Neuri Shape-Shifter

Download Chapters One of Neuri Shape-Shifter Download Chapter One of Neuri Shape-Shifter
(© 2012. Adobe Acrobat .pdf, 207 KB)

    The third book of the Stone Quest Series finds Luke Stone and Beth Rutledge’s marriage teetering on the edge of dissolution as their daughter Bridget Grace, at thirteen the spitting image of her father, struggles to break free of parental restraint, especially her father’s attempts to guide and constrain her “second sight,” the same psychic abilities he has, but which in her are ,if anything, even more pronounced. Now, adding to the tumult, is the case of three missing girls, all vanished from the Lower East Side of New York City — the area where Luke in his teens lived as the disciple of the black magician and now his nemesis Armand Jacobi. As Luke is drawn more deeply into the girls’ case, his investigation takes him back to Alphabet City and the raging Vampire Club scene. Ominous signs develop pointing irrefutably to Jacobi’s involvement. But as Luke immerses himself in the case, staying longer and longer away from home, the relationship between Beth and Bridget Grace simmers more and more toxic. Unknown to either of her parents, BG has developed a secret, powerful relationship with a mysterious young man whom she first met in an online chat room. One day, as Luke is on his way to NYC , and after yet another blow up with her mother — BG, like the three other missing girls– vanishes, leaving behind a cryptic note. As Luke’s investigation into BG’s disappearance gets underway with the help of retired NY detective Stan Banor, Luke’s world is further shattered by the sudden appearance of a beautiful older woman, a woman’s whose face he knows but whom he cannot quite place. The woman is Danuta Dabrowitz, his mother, and she brings with her many memories and painful secrets. Though her cause, so she tells him, is but one: to join her powers with his in order to find Bridget Grace and bring her home, Luke cannot fully trust the woman who had so betrayed him as a child by leaving him alone in the hands of his abusive alcoholic father. With each passing day, the investigation grows more gruesome, and more deadly–even turning up the skeletal remains of a victim murdered twenty-five years ago, Matthew, whose murder has haunted Luke all his life. Working closely with Stan and his men, and with retired Sheriff Esther Rinaldi, Luke grows certain the girls’ case is no longer a missing persons but a homicide. Then Danuta tells him of their heritage to an ancient people, the Neuri, who possess enormous powers, including the power of shape-shifting– a power that Armand Jacobi himself may share. Once again, Luke Stone finds himself pitted against Armand Jacobi.. Surrounded with warriors he is not sure he can trust– the most pre-eminent of whom is Luke himself.– Luke must race against the greatest enemy of all — time– in this battle against his adversary to save his daughter’s life.

Desert Chimera

Download Chapter One of Desert Chimera Download Chapter One of Desert Chimera
(© 2012. Adobe Acrobat .pdf, 110 KB)

    Since his escape from the black magician Armand Jacobi seven years before, Luke Stone has been sequestered in the serene woods of Northern Michigan under the tutelage of Cherokee guide Shadow Wolf. When the shaman suddenly dies, Luke flees on a desperate cross-country quest. In the heart of Death Valley, Luke is assaulted by terrifying visions of the apocalypse. While praying in agony for release, a shimmering specter arises from the sands to stand beside him, but this is not the one Luke has sought. Instead, this is the One from whom he thought he had escaped seven long years ago.
Torrential rains flood; rivers of mud flow. Luke is forsaken. But deep within the cacophony of the storm, Luke hears a voice calling. Following the call, Luke stumbles out of the wilderness and into Eppie Falco’s Desert Inn and Café.
Gathered here also seeking shelter from the storm are an array of fellow travelers. However, upon a clap of thunder and a burst of lightning, the café door swings open and Armand Jacobi, the charismatic black magician Luke had seen as the vision in the desert in the desert and the man from whom he had run now stands before him in the flesh.
Among the travelers whom Armand eventually takes hostage in his struggle with Luke is Consuelo Arroyo, a woman whose life Armand threatens, a woman with whom Luke is falling in love.
As Luke’s battle with Armand heightens, Luke is confronted with the full horrors of his past. The battle that rages will culminate in either Luke’s final destruction or his ultimate redemption.

Gallows Ascending

Download Chapters One-Three of Gallows Ascending Download Chapters One-Three of Gallows Ascending
(© 2012. Adobe Acrobat .pdf, 227 KB)

    It has been thirteen years since Luke’s confrontation in the desert with his nemesis, black magician Armand Jacobi. Luke’s wife Consuelo, whom he met at Eppie Falco’s Desert Inn and Café has died, and Luke has placed himself once again in exile. This time, his wanderings have brought him to the seaside village of New Camen, New Hampshire.
Into his self-imposed solitude drops Dr. Bethany Rutledge. Accused of the murder of her eight year old daughter, stripped of her license to practice medicine, her marriage to politician Adrian Mountzaire in tatters, Beth Rutledge is haunted nightly by the chilling vision of a young woman’s brutal death by hanging.
Adding to this mix is the disappearance of an adolescent boy that appears to be centered in the tiny hamlet of New Camen. Then, Adrian Mountzaire turns up dead with his estranged wife Beth Rutledge lying in the sand beside him.
Despite his best efforts to resist the temptation, Luke is falling in love with Beth Rutledge, and she with him. Beth has unlocked the frozen reaches of his heart—the heart that was frozen when his beloved Consuelo was taken by breast cancer several years before and he could do nothing to save her.
Now, Luke must not only find the lost boy, but find the real killer of Adrian Mountzaire in order to save his beloved from the save fate that haunts her restless dreams.

Ouray’s Peak

Download Chapters One-Three of Ouray's Peak Download Chapters One-Three of Ouray’s Peak
(© 2012. Adobe Acrobat .pdf, 159 KB)

    To ten year old Kristin Tabor life is a heart-pumping race across choppy ocean waters with her adoring father Mickey and her protective big brother Jamie at her side, and her mom Christine and grandmother Christiana awaiting at home. But this picture of sunny skies and ocean blue waters begins a torturous inexorable tearing asunder when grandmother Christiana enters her final days of cancer and implores her daughter Christine to contact Ute Indian Shaman Sowowic to help her pass peacefully.
Christine’s administrations to her mother awaken a spiritual longing for a heritage long buried; a longing Mickey Tabor cannot nor will not understand. Tensions in the once happy household escalate with brother and sister caught between two immovable forces, until one day, without explanation or preamble, Christine Tabor is gone.
Mickey Tabor begins a long slow slide into alcoholism, secrets, and violence. What once was a close relationship between Kristin and Jamie becomes strained and distant; Jamie seeming to align with his father. Mail is no longer delivered to the Tabor home; they no longer have a telephone. But Kristin watches carefully, and she sees her father reading and hiding letters; letters she is sure have been written by her mother. Her father keeps his door locked, but one day challenging his strict admonitions and Jamie’s repeated warnings, Kristin breaks open the lock and enters her father’s room.
There, secreted away in his dresser door, she finds the w’ni thokunup—a Ute musical instrument given to her mother by her grandmother– and her mother’s letters. Mickey, arriving home unexpectedly, finds Kristin, and attacks her brutally. When Jamie comes home from hockey practice, he stumbles ashen upon the scene, and spirits Kristin away to the hospital. Hovering unconscious, Kristin dreams of her mother and grandmother. When she returns from the hospital, she leaves home for good.
In search of her mother, fourteen year old Kristin zigzags across the country to Colorado by bus to avoid detection. Outside Aspen, she finds lodging and a friend Jonah, at the Basalt Cabins, and works as a cook at the Silverleaf Ski Lodge. When Manager Rene Bideaux discovers Kristin’s true age, fourteen and illegal to work, Jonah gives her odd jobs around the cabins until Kristin lands work with Amanda Bremmer as a “handy man, jack of all trades.”
Eventually, though, Kristin moves on, making her way to Fort Duchesne Utah, to the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation. By the banks of the Uintah River, overcome by a black cloud of mosquitoes, Kristin is rescued by Billy Max White Cloud, a young Ute Indian from the reservation. He awakens Kristin’s first sexual stirrings, and will be the man she marries.
Billy Max also leads Kristin to Sowowic. Following in the footsteps of her mother, Kristin discovers the story of her mother’s tragic death after her short time on the reservation working under Sowowic as his assistant and eventually as a powerful healer in her own right. Living there, Kristin begins to uncover her own Ute Indian heritage.
She also discovers love with Billy Max White Cloud.
Kristin’s journey at the Uintah and Ouray Reservation Ute Indian culminates at the ritual of Sun Dance, a ritual of hope and fulfillment, performed for three days and three nights at the hottest part of the year without food or water. As Kristin assists Billy Max as he dances, the rapturous Sun Dancers fade to the warrior image of her ancestors, their faces and bodies painted in streaks of red and blue, dancing round a bonfire, drums beating, dancing the dance of war.
This powerful vision of massacre and death coupled with the earlier death of her beloved mentor Sowowic, plunges Kristin into despair, where shattered and disintegrated, she leaves Utah and Billy Max and returns to the mountains of Colorado.
On the other side of the continent, Jamie Tabor, now twenty-one years old, weaves drunkenly as he walks up the driveway to the shack he and his father have called home in the Port of Galilee, Rhode Island, since his sister left home at the age of fourteen. Mickey Tabor is dying. He is dying and there is nothing Jamie can do for him. He is dying, and he is calling out for Kristin.
Jamie walks the beach in a storm as lightning strikes and thunder rumbles. He climbs a jutting rock, and a powerful vision hits him: the vision of a man as tall as a mountain with hair like a mountain stream tumbling down his back. Sowowic, and he is pointing west.
Jamie takes Mickey to the VA hospital in Narragansett, and following in his lost sister’s footsteps, journeys west. After a long search through Colorado and Utah, he finds Billy Max White Cloud who finally agrees to lead him to Kristin.
Like her mother before her, Kristin straddles two worlds. Like her Ute ancestor Jane, she is poised on the brink of bitter everlasting hatred.
After a jagged reconciliation with her brother, the most difficult task remains.
There is only one place she can go to make this decision.
Kristin undertakes the journey to Ouray’s Peak alone in the dead of winter riding a pony to the mountaintop to the place where Sowowic took her mother before her mother died, to the place where Ouray, Chief of all the Utes bid his final farewell to his Shining Mountains. High atop this peak, Kristin experiences an epiphany: a vision of a stampeding white buffalo breathing fire, his fierce hooves striking a River of Many Colors from the stone of the Earth.
Kristin descends the mountain.
Her hair is streaked through with white.
Now, will Kristin’s Chief Jack knew: whenever the red man wars against the white, it is always the red man who loses. But which was she? What if the red man, and what if the white man both together, mixed together, flowed freely together in the same veins, and those veins were you?
Ouray’s Peak traces the journey of fourteen year old Kristin Tabor as she treks across the country and deep within the Rocky Mountains in search of the mother who left her. Her search will lead her to the discovery of her Ute heritage and eventually open her broken heart to love, reunification, and hope.
Will epiphany lead her to continued isolation and destruction, or point her toward a path of forgiveness, reunification, and hope?

The Women Debrowska

Download Chapter One of The Women Debrowska Download Chapter One of The Women Debrowska
(© 2010. Adobe Acrobat .pdf, 195 KB)

    Anatola Debrowska, assistant professor of developmental skills, has a family spinning off into three separate orbits and a life spiraling down into mind-numbing tasks when the 25 year old son she gave up at birth suddenly appears on her doorstep setting her upon a journey to mid 18th century Poland and the eventual reunification of not only her disjointed family but herself.
The reunion does not go smoothly. But when Pyotr, closed and cryptic, returns abruptly to the East Coast with the pronouncement in Polish: “I am nothing,” on the advice of her sister, Clarisse, Anatola follows. Finding him disheveled and drunken in his boyhood home, and determined not to lose her son a second time, Anatola trundles him off to her Aunt Alka’s house. There, Alka shows them a treasure trove of Debrowska-Debski archives left by Frances, Alka’s mother, the sisters’ grandmother. Eventually, Anatola is able to break through Pytor’s defenses, convincing him to help in the archaeological dig through the family annals.
The archives: letters, diaries, and Frances’ enigmatic poetry, lead Anatola on a journey that begins in Debowiec, Poland in January 1756 at the foot of the Lazy/Debowiec Bridge on the eve of a serf uprising led by Waclaw Mikus and Maciej Debski. The serfs are massacred; Mikus is captured, but the dashing Maciej Debski escapes – stumbling upon Barbara Ulanski, eight years old, out riding and caught unawares at the edge of history. Though still a child, Barbara falls deeply in love with Maciej. It is a love that will endure for seventeen years and will define the Debrowski-Debski clan through the next two and a half centuries.
The Women Debrowska follows the family as it is torn apart by loyalists and revolutionaries, riches and poverty, oppression and war and the partitions of a beloved homeland. Interwoven with the personal story is the history of a nation, uplifted by the great visions of the Age of Enlightenment and Polish Kings such as Jadwiga and Kazimerz the Great, and an endearing spirit of hope that refused to be conquered, a spirit unique to the Polish character during even her darkest most hopeless hours.