Skip to main content

Guest blog and excerpt - TIES THAT BIND by C.J. Darlington

Today I have C.J. Darlington guest blogging!

C. J. is the award-winning authof of Thicker than BloodBound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over fifteen years, scouting for stores similar to the ones described in her novels before cofounding her own online bookstore. 

In 2006 C. J. started the Christian entertainment Web site with her sister, Tracy, and has been actively promoting Christian fiction ever since. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazineand A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a Paint horse named Sky. Visit her Web site at

And now, here's C.J.!

There’s nothing like rare books. I’ve been fascinated with them for years, so when I began writing my first novel Thicker than Blood I had fun picking a few to include in the story. A first edition of For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway made the cut and played an important role in the plot of the story. For my second novel Bound by Guilt the rare book I chose was The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. First editions with their dust jackets can be worth $30,000, and in fact it’s this value that catches the eye of a family of book thieves… 

For my latest novel Ties that Bind I thought long and hard about what rare book to use in the story. I knew I wanted a book that would be integral to the storyline. I considered many, but when I discovered that the 1811 first edition of Jane Austen’s Sense & Sensibility was originally published in three volumes, like many novels of the time period, my wheels started turning. What if a father gave each of his daughters one of the volumes as a gift? What if the books were the catalyst to bring the sisters, one of which didn’t know about the others, together? 

It was such a fun twist to write about! All my main character Brynn Taylor knows about her father is his name and the fact that he gave her volume three of the set. It’s an address she finds in the back of the book that sets her down her path of discovery not only of her two sisters, but of the God she long ago turned her back on. 

Ties That Bind
C.J. Darlington

On a quest to find her father, a young woman discovers she has two sisters who have no idea she exists.

Newly released from prison, Brynn Taylor is determined to find her father, a man she's never met. Her only clue to his whereabouts is an address she finds in a rare volume of Jane Austen's “Sense & Sensibility” which he inscribed to her years ago. Armed with a bus ticket, a backpack, and her grandfather's gun, her search leads her to Elk Valley, Colorado where her plans and her life begin to unravel.

Excerpt of chapter one:


When Brynn Taylor was released from prison, she didn’t expect anyone to be waiting for her.

“There she is!” a voice shrieked from across the parking lot, and a woman with a head full of tight, black corn rows and a toddler hugging her hip jogged toward Brynn. Following on her heels was what looked like a parade procession of extended family, all dressed in bright, starched clothes they could’ve just worn to church.

Brynn froze, a coyote in the headlights of a Hummer. Recognition flashed in the woman’s face, but Brynn didn’t have a clue who she was. The gal let out another squeal running toward her, the kid’s head bobbing.

But then the woman and her entourage whooshed past Brynn, and she swung around to see another inmate emerging from the doors of the Denver Women’s Correctional Facility. Within seconds, the whole crew swallowed their loved one in a group hug, and Brynn couldn’t see her through the mass of family.

She heard the cries of joy.

Brynn stuffed her hands into the pockets of her new jeans. They felt stiff and scratchy against her skin, and her t-shirt was a size too large. In at nineteen, out at twenty-four, and she’d gained less than five pounds. She probably could’ve still fit into the clothes she’d come in here with, but they’d no doubt been dumpstered years ago.

"Thank you, Lord!” Someone’s hand shot up to the sky, waving gratitude.

She wondered how long the other inmate had been inside and what crime she’d committed. Was she a druggie caught making a buy? A hooker who’d propositioned the wrong john? The majority of the women here were low-risk offenders, but many had been inside before. Most would be again.

For a second, the sea of family parted and Brynn caught sight of the newly released prisoner, her face streaked with glassy tear lines. She was clinging to an older woman.

“ I’ll do better, Mama. I promise,” she sobbed.

Brynn turned away, her second-hand sneakers silently carrying her across the parking lot away from the huddle. Their happiness swirled around her, a slicing reminder there were no welcoming arms for her.

She lifted her face to the sky where gray clouds threatened to dump much-needed June rain. She hadn’t expected to cry, but standing in the open air free of steel doors and walls, unwanted tears came. No more would her world be defined by gray cinder blocks scratched with obscene words. There’d be no more violating strip downs from guards searching for contraband, and exercise would no longer mean walking the perimeter of a pen topped with razor wire.

There also wouldn’t be anyone to keep her out of trouble. Everything was up to her now, which scared her more than anything. The last time she’d been on her own she’d ended up handcuffed in the back of a police car.

Brynn closed her eyes. Everyone assumed she’d refused parole and maxed out her sentence for the assurance of three squares a day. But really, fear was why she’d stayed. At least behind bars she knew what to expect and what was expected of her. Out here . . .

She blinked a couple times and pulled in a deep breath. Reaching into her pocket, she fingered the lone silver key they’d returned to her along with her empty wallet and expired driver’s license. Out here she was free all right—to wreck her life all over again.

# # #
Brynn walked briskly through the gate of Ames Self Storage and made her way to the last unit with the green, garage-style door. She had no idea how her mother had managed to pre-pay for this spot years in advance, but Brynn was sure glad she did. She’d have nothing without it.

She unlocked the door and wrenched it open. When they’d moved from their country house into the smaller rental in town to be closer to the hospital, anything that didn’t fit had ended up here.

She pictured the unit as it had once been—crammed with treasures like the family-sized dining room table Mom hadn’t been able to part with, the decorative chairs that matched, Grams’ antique set of silverware she’d received as a wedding gift, and a carved wooden chest that had belonged to an ancestor who crossed the Atlantic from Germany.

They were all gone now. Years ago, Brynn had scattered those precious heirlooms her mother and grandmother had hoped to pass on to her across the city’s pawn shops. She tried not to think about that as she gathered up their old camping gear, some of the few items she’d managed to hang onto. It was no-name stuff, but it had served Mom and her well on their numerous hikes and weekend trips. Luckily, most of it was compact hike-in stuff they’d gotten cheap at a going-out-of-business sale. She’d pawned anything of real value, and what was left was the bare minimum—sleeping bag, two-person tent, and a few cooking utensils.

Kneeling on the cold cement, Brynn stuffed her hand into the sleeping bag’s pouch. Still tucked safely between the down layers, she found her grandfather’s Smith & Wesson .22. She’d pawned it twice but always went back for it.

Brynn ran her fingers across the tooled leather holster, then unsheathed the gun, flipped open the cylinder, and spun it. She could still smell the oil from the last time Mom cleaned it, and a wave of grief washed over her. If she’d kept her promise to her mother she would’ve avoided all the heartache of the last six years.

Slipping the gun back into its sleeping bag cocoon, she made sure the half-full box of bullets was with it. One more thing to grab, and she could escape from the memories this place entombed.

She found the old book inside a file box of ancient tax records. The boards were a blue/gray paper over something like thick cardboard, and the tan spine had a pinkish label that said: Sense and Sensibility, with the number “3” beneath that.

Brynn carefully slipped the volume into the folds of the sleeping bag with the gun. This book was all she had of her father, a man she couldn’t even remember.

It was also her only hope to find him.

Copyright 2013 C.J. Darlington
Published by Mountainview Books, LLC


Barnes and Noble

You can also purchase this book from any of the stores found at CBA Storefinder.


Popular Posts

Laura’s Apricot Shell Shawl knitting pattern

I usually have a knitting project in mind when I write it into one of my books, but Laura’s apricot-colored shawl just kind of appeared upon the page as I was writing the first scene of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , and it surprised even me. I immediately went to my yarn stash to find a yarn for it, and I searched through my antique knitting books to find some stitch patterns. I made her an elegant wool shawl she could wear at home. The shawl ended up tagging along with Laura into the next book, Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner , where it imparts some comfort to her in her trying circumstances. The two stitch patterns are both from the same book, The Lady’s Assistant, volume 2 by Mrs. Jane Gaugain, published in 1842 . A couple excessively clever and creative knitters might have knit these patterns in the Regency era, but they would have only passed them around by word of mouth or scribbled “recipes” to friends or family, and it wouldn’t have been widely use

Phoebe’s Muffatees knitting pattern

In Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , Phoebe wears a pair of lace muffatees, or gauntlets/arm-warmers that hide a rather deadly surprise. :) I actually got the idea of having her wear muffatees because I saw a lace manchette pattern in Miss Watts’ Ladies’ Knitting and Netting Book , published in 1840, page 20. However, after doing some research, I found that they were called muffatees in the Regency era, and the term manchette did not arise until a few years later. They were essentially arm-warmers worn under those long sleeves on day dresses, which were usually made of muslin too thin to be very warm. I decided to knit Phoebe’s muffatees using a Leaf Pattern originally suggested for a purse in Mrs. Gaugain’s book, The Lady’s Assistant, volume 1, 5th edition published in 1842, pages 234-237. I think there was an error and row 36 in the original pattern was duplicated erroneously, so I have adjusted the pattern. The original manchette pattern called for “fine” needles a

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

One-Skein Pyrenees Scarf knitting pattern

I got into using antique patterns when I was making the scarf my hero wears in my Regency romance, The Spinster’s Christmas . I wanted to do another pattern which I think was in use in the Regency period, the Pyrenees Knit Scarf on pages 36-38 of The Lady's Assistant for Executing Useful and Fancy Designs in Knitting, Netting, and Crochet Work, volume 1, by Jane Gaugain, published in 1840. She is thought to be the first person to use knitting abbreviations, at least in a published book, although they are not the same abbreviations used today (our modern abbreviations were standardized by Weldon’s Practical Needlework in 1906). Since the book is out of copyright, you can download a free PDF copy of the book at I found this to be a fascinating look at knitting around the time of Jane Austen’s later years. Although the book was published in 1840, many of the patterns were in use and passed down by word of mouth many years before that, so it’s possible these are

Year of the Dog serial novel, chapter 13

I’m posting a Humorous Christian Romantic Suspense serial novel here on my blog! Year of the Dog is a (second) prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series. Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Mari Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irate security expert whose car she accidentally rear-ended a few weeks earlier. Ashwin Keitou has enough problems. His aunt has just shown up on his doorstep, expecting to move in with him, and he can’t say no because he owes her everything—after his mother walked out on them, Auntie Nell took in Ashwin and his brother and raised them in a loving Chri

New contest!

I haven’t had a contest since October! Here’s new one just in time for Christmas. I’m picking 3 winners to each be able to choose 10 books from my Christian book list! And yes, that list includes my books! 1) You get one entry into the contest when you sign up for my email newsletter at . If you already belong to my email newsletter, let me know! 2) You get a second entry into the contest if you Like my Facebook page: . If you already Like my Facebook page, let me know! 3) You get a third entry into the contest if you join my Goodreads group: . If you already belong to my Goodreads group, let me know! 4) You get a fourth entry into the contest if you follow me on Twitter: . If you already follow me on Twitter, let me know! 5) You get extra entries into the contest if you get someone else to join my email newsletter. Just email camy {at] c

Chinese Take-Out and Sushi for One

Captain’s Log, Supplemental My agent sent me an article from Publisher’s Weekly that discussed this incident: Chinese Take-Out Spawns Christian Controversy And here’s also a blog post that talks about it in more detail: The Fighting 44s This is Soong-Chan Rah’s blog: The PCS blog In sum: Apparently Zondervan (yes, my publisher), who has partnered with Youth Specialties, had put out a youth leaders skit that had stereotypical Asian dialogue, which offended many Christian Asian Americans. In response to the outcry, Zondervan/Youth Specialities put out a sincere apology and is not only freezing the remaining stock of the book, but also reprinting it and replacing the copies people have already bought. I am very proud of my publisher for how they have handled this situation. The skit writers have also issued a public apology . (I feel sorry for them, because they were only trying to write a funny skit, not stir up this maelstrom of internet controversy. I’ve been in youth work long enou


「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** 36 誰かと結婚するとしたら、きっと駆け落ちだ。 クスクス笑うマリコのブライズメイドの後をついて、レックスはよろめきながらパゴダブリッジ・レストランに入った。泣きわめくティキの隣で四時間立ちっぱなし——マリコはレックスを列の最後に入れてくれたから、ありがたい——抜歯と同じぐらい喜ばしい経験だった。ノボケインなしで。 (ウェディングそのものは一時間だけ。よかった)リハーサルも終わり、あとはオリバーを見つけ、四時間ぶりに椅子に座って、祖母のおごりで高価なリハーサルディナー(結婚式リハーサ

Year of the Dog serial novel

About Year of the Dog : A month or two ago, I remembered an old manuscript I had completed but which hadn’t sold. It was a contemporary romance meant for Zondervan, titled Year of the Dog . The book had gone into the pipeline and I even got another title ( Bad Dog ) and a cover for it, but eventually my editor at the time decided she didn’t want to publish it, for various reasons. She instead requested a romantic suspense, and so I cannibalized some of the characters from Year of the Dog and thrust them into the next book I wrote, which was Protection for Hire . Honestly, I didn’t take a lot from Year of the Dog to put in Protection for Hire , aside from character names and a few relationship ties. I was originally thinking I’d post Year of the Dog as-is on my blog as a free read, but then it occurred to me that I could revamp it into a romantic suspense and change the setting to Hawaii. It would work out perfectly as (yet another) prequel to the Warubozu series and introduc

Quiz from Lady Wynwood's Spies #6 - question 5

The latest volume in my Christian Regency epic serial novel just released, so I thought I’d post a few of my favorite passages from Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 6: Martyr . “There is no need for you to apologize.” A sliver of her normal self seemed to return to her, and she lifted an eyebrow at him. “Yes, well, you should not have interrupted my argument with the tree.” “I could not stand by and watch you bully a defenseless beechwood.” QUIZ: Who is Keriah speaking to, Michael or Mr. Benjamin? EXTRA CREDIT: Why was Keriah apologizing to him? This exchange was an unexpected point of levity in an otherwise pretty heavy scene. It surprised me when I was writing it. Start the series with Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 1: Archer ! A Christian Historical Adventure set in Regency England with slow-burn romance and a supernatural twist Part one in an epic-length serial novel She met him again by shooting him. After four seasons and unmarried because she is taller than mos