Skyward

Skyward

by Mary Alice Monroe

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488039324
Publisher: MIRA Books
Publication date: 10/15/2018
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 59,069
File size: 630 KB

About the Author

Mary Alice Monroe is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her books have received numerous awards, including the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, Florida Distinguished Author Award, SC Book Festival Award, and the International Fiction Award for Green Fiction. An active conservationist, she lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina where she is at work on her next novel. Visit her at maryalicemonroe.com and on Facebook.

Read an Excerpt

Skyward


By Mary Monroe

Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.

Copyright © 2003 Harlequin Enterprises Ltd. All right reserved. ISBN: 1-55166-700-2

Chapter One

Birds of Prey (also known as raptors) have characteristics that distinguish them from other birds. A bird of prey has a sharp, hooked beak for tearing food, sharp, curved talons, powerful feet for killing its prey and binocular vision. Thirty-eight species of raptors are found in the geographic limits of the United States and Canada. These species are divided into categories: buteos, accipiters, falcons, harriers, kites, eagles, ospreys and owls.

* * *

A brisk, wintry wind whistled along the South Carolina coast. It rattled the ice-tipped, yellowed spartina grass and rolled a thick, steely gray fog in from the sea. The old black man paused in his walk and cocked his ear toward the sky. He heard the whispers of change in the wind. Hunching his shoulders, he turned the collar of his threadbare woolen jacket high up to the brim of his fedora, then dug his hands deep into his pockets. He resumed walking, but he kept his eyes skyward.

The old man had walked nearly half a mile when he heard a high, plaintive whistle over the wind's song. He stopped abruptly, rigid with expectation, staring out at the heavy shroud that hovered over the wetlands. It was a still morning; the pale night moon lingered in the dusty sky. Suddenly, a magnificent white-crested eagle broke through the mist. Its broad,plank-straight wings stretched wide as it soared over the water.

"There you be!" he muttered with deep satisfaction.

Bringing his large, gnarled hands to cup his mouth, he whistled sharp and clear, mimicking the birdcall.

The bald eagle circled wide, flapping its powerful wings with a majesty reserved for royalty. The great bird took a lap around the marsh before deigning to return the call.

The effect was not lost on the old man. Heartened, he rushed his hands to his mouth and whistled again, louder and more insistently. This time, the eagle banked, then flew unwaveringly toward him.

This was the moment Harris Henderson relished. He squinted and let his gaze slowly traverse the wide, open meadow encircled by tall, leggy pines. The grasses were crisp and the ground was hard with the early morning frost. In only one day's time, winter had blustered into the Lowcountry, plummeting temperatures from balmy to freezing. He took a long, deep breath, feeling the moist chill go straight to his lungs. The morning air carried the scent of burning wood - cedar, he thought - so strong he could almost taste it.

Turning his head, he gazed upon the sleek red-tailed hawk held firm against his chest by his thick leather gloves. Maggie Mims, a robust woman with hair almost the same color red as the hawk's tail, looked up at him with eyes sparkling with excitement.

She gave a curt nod.

Harris moved his gloved hands so that his left wrapped around the hawk's wings and the right maintained a firm hold of the hawk's feet. Instantly, the hawk's dark gaze sharpened, her mouth opened and she jerked her wings hard for freedom.

"So, you're eager to be off," he said in a low voice.

He waited patiently for the bird to calm itself, all the while looking on with admiration. She was a beautiful specimen, creamy breasted with a dark bellyband and the brick-red tail feathers that gave the species its name. Red-taileds were superb hunters, "the black warriors" J. J. Audubon had called them. It was hard to believe, looking at her sleek, healthy form, that she'd been brought into the clinic with gunshot wounds a mere two months earlier. "Well, it won't be long now."

The bird cocked its head at the sound of his voice, glaring, ferocious - the right attitude for survival. Every instinct in its body was on alert for flight. Harris could feel the bird's anticipation in his own veins.

In this brief moment before flight, Harris sought to merge spirits with the bird. He'd read stories of shamans who practiced this ancient art, myths of Indians whose spirits soared with eagles, tales that he'd heard spoken of only in passing or in jest. Though he'd tell this to no one, deep down he'd always believed that at the core of legends and myths lay a kernel of truth. There were individuals who communicated at some visceral level with birds. He knew it. Witnessed it.

And it was his private pain that he was not one of them. Although highly skilled, he didn't possess the rare instinct - the gift - of connection. The art of truly flying the birds.

The closest he came to it was at liftoff. The seconds when the bird's wings stretched out and he heard the whup-whup of their flapping and felt the quick fluttering of air against his cheek as the bird flew fearlessly into the wind. At that stolen moment in time he caught an exhilarating glimpse of what it might be like to fly, to feel the lift, then the air glide over him like water.

"Ready?" asked Maggie.

Sensing freedom at hand, the red-tailed tightened its talons on his arm. The brisk wind gusted, riffling the feathers on its head. She didn't flinch. Her eyes were focused. A faint stream of breath clouded the air like steam as her chest rose and fell. The moment had come.

"Okay, my beauty," he said softly to the hawk. "Let's send you home."

With a lift of his arm, he let his hands go. Instantly the talons released their grip. Wings fluttered, stirring the air. Harris released a sigh as the hawk took flight.

Up, up, the red-tailed climbed. Harris tracked the bird, assessing her strength and looking for any tipping, which would indicate the broken wing hadn't completely healed. The margin for survival was very slim in the wild. A raptor had to be one hundred percent to successfully hunt. There was nothing tentative about this bird's flying, however, and Harris felt a bone-deep satisfaction that their work at the rehabilitation center had been successful.

This bird, number 1985, was successfully released to the wild.

* * *

"We're not s'posed to hunt in there."

Brady Simmons pointed the business end of his .22 caliber rifle toward the No Hunting sign posted on the gnarled bark of a bare-leafed live oak. "It says right here, see?" he said, careful to make it more question than statement.

His father rubbed his bristled jaw and drawled, "I don't see no sign."

"Billy Trumplin's dad says we could get in big trouble if we hunt in there. 'Specially birds. It ain't even the season."

Roy Simmons slowly turned his head, narrowing his eyes as he focused on his eldest son. His voice was low but lethal. "You tellin' me what to do now, boy?"

Brady took a step back. "N-no, sir."

The spark in his father's eyes banked as he acknowledged the respect. "Our family's been huntin' this here land longer than anyone can remember. There ain't nothing wrong with takin' a little of what's there for the takin'." He hoisted his rifle. "Besides, we ain't here for sport. We're here to put food on the table. And I'll be dog damned if some tree hugger's gonna up and tell me I can't."

Brady gave a curt nod and kept an eye on his father's balled fists. The stench of stale whiskey on his father's breath kept the boy mute with fear and contempt.

His father reached out to rip the sign from the tree bark and throw it on the ground.

Brady's face was a portrait of teenage apathy as he watched his father ground the muddy heel of his boot on the federal sign. What a jerk, he thought. He was sick of hearing his father grouse about land that had been "stolen" from the people. How could someone steal what wasn't theirs in the first place? Besides, what did he care about the land and who owned it? All he wanted was to get as far away from this hellhole as he could.

Satisfied, his father turned and pushed into the federally protected land. "Well, come on, then," he said over his shoulder. "Don't lag behind."

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Skyward by Mary Monroe
Copyright © 2003 by Harlequin Enterprises Ltd.
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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Skyward 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was a wonderful read.please don't read harriet klausner's review. She always writes more than is necessary and i have stopped reading her reviews because she has ruined many a book for me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mary Alice Monroe writes so well. Shares my concern for our environment and all living things. Always look for anything she writes.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely could not put down this book. I fell in love with nearly all the characters, and found myself going back to re-read passages while I was still in the middle of the book. I loved some passages so much that I read them out loud to my (somewhat reluctant) husband, some while sitting on the beach where I'm sure other beach-goers thought I was crazy. I spent an entire vacation referring back to things I'd learned in the book, or points that were especially moving to me. Every time I thought the story line was going to go one way, the author surprised me by doing something completely different with the plot. The characters were not just believable, but entirely plausible. I highly recommend this book to fellow animal lovers, and people who will not tolerate reading bad prose, no matter how good the story is. This book will not disappoint.
MamaBear35 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book very much. It had romance, sadness and family struggles of every day living. I am a bird lover and learned a lot about the raptors that was presented in an interesting way as part of this story. Mary Alice Monroe is a new author for me and I have enjoyed every book I have read so far.
MrsO More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book from beginning to end. The characters are believable and likeable, and the author's descriptions so clear that I could picture each of them in my mind. And I learned things about birds that I found very interesting. The last few chapters are very thrilling and I found myself reading very quickly to see what happens! I will look for more books by Mary Alice Monroe.
Guest More than 1 year ago
At first I didnt know if this book was going to be any good.(With the birds n all)..but soon after reading i was just hooked on it. The Characters were so believable and loveable. I dont know how she did it but i loved the way she used the birds in this book. It made it for an even more interesting read. I have to say that this was my favorite read of the summer.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved THE BEACH HOUSE, Monroe's earlier work, because of her finely drawn relationships and also because of her obvious love for and knowledge of wildlife. In SKYWARD, once again I was caught up in her characters, and I learned so much about eagles, hawks--even vultures! The book brings you to a new world and leaves you both inspired and more aware of the world we inhabit.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very enjoyable
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story line very limited mostly about birds. If I'd wanted a book about birds I would a seeked to find ! Trying to finish the book its hard cause its more about birds than people. I Do Not recommend this as an interesting Novel
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. I read it twice before buying for my Nook so it will always be at hand. This is a book that you will probably read over and over. It is a must for anyone interested in our avian friends, conservation, and nature. Good storyline, too.
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irisman More than 1 year ago
The nurse is dedicated but burned out. She comes to take care of his diabetic daughter but comes to love both her and her father. The father is dedicated to his birds of prey sancuary/hospital. Amid turmoil he comes to love and depend on his daughter's nurse. A very moving story of birds and people and their needs for each other.
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flowergirlAR More than 1 year ago
After reading several of Monroe's books, I am pretty well hooked. Always a good,relaxing read. I look forward to finding another of her books when I am setting up my nook list.
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