The Matawapit Family Series published by eXtasy Books.
In the wilds of Northwestern Ontario, the adult children of a domineering Ojibway church deacon find their faiths crumbling and their beliefs faltering when a vengeful former lover, an ex-fiancé out on parole, and a seductive family enemy challenge Emery, Bridget, and Jude in a duel of love, loyalty, and values that threatens to destroy their perfect Catholic lives and family.
Redeemed – Book Two – Matawapit Family Series (Can be read as a standalone)
A single woman battles to keep her foster child from his newly-paroled father—a dangerous man she used to love.
Blurb: Bridget Matawapit is an Indigenous activist, daughter of a Catholic deacon, and foster mother to Kyle, the son of an Ojibway father—the ex-fiancé she kicked to the curb after he chose alcohol over her love. With Adam out on parole and back in Thunder Bay, she is determined to stop him from obtaining custody of Kyle.
Adam Guimond is a recovering alcoholic and ex-gangbanger newly-paroled. Through counseling, reconnecting with his Ojibway culture and twelve-step meetings while in prison, Adam now understands he’s worthy of the love that frightened him enough to pick up the bottle he’d previously corked. He can’t escape the damage he caused so many others, but he longs to rise like a true warrior in the pursuit of forgiveness and a second chance. There’s nothing he isn’t willing to do to win back his son–and Bridget.
When an old cell mate’s daughter dies under mysterious circumstances in foster care, Adam begs Bridget to help him uncover the truth. Bound to the plight of the Indigenous children in care, Bridget agrees. But putting herself in contact with Adam threatens to resurrect her long-buried feelings for him, and even worse, she risks losing care of Kyle, by falling for a man who might destroy her faith in love completely this time.
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After almost four years, Bridget should have gotten used to the quiet nights while Kyle slept. Alone, in the living room, glass of wine on the end table, a good book in her lap, the TV on low, she should savor these moments after a busy day.
Before Adam had screwed up not only his life but those who loved him, they’d cuddled on the couch and had watched a movie. Afterwards, they’d retire to her bedroom.
The landline rang. She reached over and grabbed the cordless. “Hello.”
“Hey. How are you?”
Bridget stiffened. They’d already spoken earlier this evening. If Adam thought to barge into her life just because she was fostering his son, he could think again. “I’m winding down for the evening. It’s late.”
“It’s only nine-thirty.”
“I have responsibilities.” Unlike you. “You know I get up at five-thirty.”
“Yeah…responsibilities. You told me a hundred times when we were engaged.” He muttered the words.
Bridget clenched the stem of the wine glass. “What do you want?”
“You watch the news?”
“They pulled a body from the McIntyre.”
“I heard about it.”
“My old cell mate thinks it’s his daughter.”
Old cell mate? Adam wasn’t supposed to contact convicts or ex-convicts during parole. This man would never change if he was already breaking the rules. “And why are you telling me this?”
“I owe him.”
“You owe him what?”
The light sound of the TV hummed in Bridget’s hot ear. Adam was thinking instead of speaking. He was probably calling her ten different expletives in his thoughts.
“I owe him my early release.” His words crunched like footsteps beneath bitter, broken glass.
“What does this have to do with me?” She had better things to do, like watch time erode her olive-colored walls.
“There’s a kid here. Just got out of ’hab. His girlfriend was Sheena Keesha.”
The wine trembled in Bridget’s hand, and she set aside the glass. For goodness sake. “How old is he?”
Bridget would have to pry more information from Adam. Why couldn’t he elaborate like everyone else on planet earth? “Sheena was sixteen, the radio said. He was seeing a minor?”
“Had his birthday a few months ago.”
“They began dating when he was a minor?”
“Was he also in the foster care system?”
“And Sheena couldn’t go to rehab unless her caregiver consented?”
“The caregiver didn’t consent?”
“Do you know why?”
“Dunno. Lemme get the kid. Hang on.”
“Wait…” Yes, Bridget was concerned about Sheena Keesha, but the police had never confirmed whose body had been pulled from the river.
“Hi… It’s me. Logan. You wanted to talk?” The boy’s introduction bubbled with excitement.
Bridget sank in the couch. This was all Mom and Dad’s fault for raising her to help others.
“Hello. I’m Bridget.”
“Adam said you have some questions for me. He said I could trust you.”
“You can. What we talk about will stay between us.” Bridget used her most compassionate voice. “Tell me about yourself.”
“Uh…yeah, sure. What’d you wanna know?”
“For starters, how did you end up in care?”
“My parents are wastes of space. Y’know? Been in care, like, forever. I left when I turned the big one-eight.”
“Are you aboriginal?”
“Métis. My dad is. My mom’s white.”
“Sheena Keesha is your girlfriend?”
“Yeah. We’ve been hanging for a couple of years. We met in high school.”
“And Sheena went missing while you were in rehab?”
“Yeah. I told her to wait for me. I told her I’d figure everything out, y’know?”
“Figure out what, exactly?”
“Get clean. Get a job. Get a place for us to have the baby.”
“The baby?” A boulder formed in Bridget’s stomach, and her lungs teetered on collapsing. She managed to choke out, “Sheena’s pregnant?”
“Yeah. It’s why she told me to go to rehab. She wanted to stop using, too.”
“Was she still involved in drugs when you last talked to her?”
“Not sure. We had it all worked out. I was gonna get her clean once I got clean. Y’know, in ’hab I’d get all the answers to get us off…stuff. Make us better. She said I’d be able to get her clean then.”
The two were so young and naïve. They had no idea of the odds stacked against them.
“Thank you for sharing, Logan. What you said will stay with me. Could I speak to Adam?”
“Uh-huh. Hang on.”
“Hello.” Bridget rubbed her brow. “You have to let Logan know we can’t do anything until the police release the news.”
“We could do something while we’re waiting.”
“Check The Gator.”
Bridget sputtered. “You can’t go there. It’s against the condition of your parole.”
“Neither can Logan.”
Did Adam mean Bridget was supposed to patronize the most notorious bar in the city? He was out of his mind. “I’m responsible for your son. If the caseworker finds out I went to a place like The Gator, this could put my care in jeopardy.”
“It’s just a bar.”
“It’s more than a bar. It’s where drug dealers go. It’s where criminals gather. It’s a dangerous place. You have to think of Kyle.”
“The program says to put everything in Creator’s hands.”
The familiar heat crept beneath Bridget’s skin at Adam daring to spout his twelve-step rhetoric. “How long have you been sober?”
“First week in the iron house. After they shanked my uncle in the shower.”
Bridget’s blood froze. Adam had never elaborated before when answering a question. She and Jude had guessed correctly about the uncle’s death impacting Adam’s decision to walk a straight path if he’d stayed sober in prison and while on day parole in Winnipeg.
“You want me to go to this bar and ask around about Sheena?”
“You’ll be fine. Tell the bouncer Adam sent you. Ed’ll make sure nobody gives you lip.”
“What am I supposed to say?” Bridget shifted on the couch, squirming.
“Ed’ll point you to who’s in the know. He’ll handle it.”
“Have you contacted this Ed already?”
“Nope. He’ll know. We served time in the iron house before. He’s clean now.”
Clean? And bouncing at the most notorious bar in the city?
“I’ll be nearby, kwe. I wouldn’t send you into a dangerous place without my protection.”
Bridget leaned against the back of the sofa. No, Adam wouldn’t. He was a lot of things, but he’d always looked after women properly. “It’s late. I need to think about this. Can I call you once I have an answer?”
“Yeah. Don’t think too long, kwe. Later.”
The line went dead.
Also by Maggie Blackbird
Blessed – Book One – Matawapit Family Series (Can be read as a standalone)
A mixed-blood Catholic seminarian struggles to discern his true calling: the priesthood or his ex-lover, a proud but damaged Ojibway man.
Blurb: It’s been ten years since Emery Matawapit sinned, having succumbed to temptation for the one thing in his life that felt right, another man. In six months he’ll make a life-changing decision that will bar him from sexual relationships for the rest of his life.
Darryl Keejik has a decade-long chip on his shoulder, and he holds Emery’s father, the church deacon, responsible for what he’s suffered: the loss of his family and a chance at true love with Emery. No longer a powerless kid, Darryl has influence within the community—maybe more than the deacon, and he intends on using his new-found power to destroy Deacon Matawapit and the church.
Hoping to save the church, Emery races home. But stopping Darryl is harder than expected when their sizzling chemistry threatens to consume Emery. Now he is faced with the toughest decision of his life: please his devout parents and fulfill his call to the priesthood, or remain true to his heart and marry the man created for him.
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About Maggie Blackbird
An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.
An Interview with Maggie Blackbird by Holly Hewson for The Romance Studio
HH: Maggie, thank you for talking with us at TRS. Your featured book, Redeemed, is part of your
Matawapit Family series. What can you tell us about the series?
Maggie: The Matawapits are a Catholic Ojibway family whose “perfect” lives hit a wall when their faiths are tested by distressing events that occur in their lives—the grown kids: Emery, Bridget, and Jude, and their parents: Norman (deacon) and Maria (mom).
HH: How did the first book in the series, Blessed, kick off the series?
Maggie: Blessed address what is at the heart of the series: The negative impact the Indian Residential Schools have on the aboriginal population of Canada. Those still suffering trauma from the schools (such as the deacon who attended one) and the generations afterwards affected by the survivors of the schools.
For Blessed, the Ojibway community, Ottertail Lake, is at a standoff when Darryl Keejik (hero one) aligns himself with a hardcore traditionalist to stop the reserve from assisting the church financially because of the trauma caused by the schools. Emery (hero two), a devout Catholic who is studying to become a priest, races home to stop Darryl. And Emery and Darryl find themselves trying to reconcile their differing beliefs, because if they can’t, they cannot expect their divided community to.
HH: How does Redeemed continue it?
Redeemed continues this through the children in foster care, and the intergenerational trauma faced by those who grew up in a negative environment as a result of the schools. Adam, the hero, has no idea what he’s suffering from, other than growing up in an alcoholic, abusive home. He has to address his own past in order to move forward, while at the same time, Adam and Bridget have to work together to help the other children in care who are slipping through the cracks of the social services system. Again, just like Emery and Darryl, if Adam and Bridget can’t resolve their differences, they can’t expect others to do so, too.
HH: What do you like most about Bridget and why will readers identify with her?
I love Bridget’s spirit. She’s a woman devoted to her career until she meets Adam and his son Kyle. She’s a mother, like many readers. A single foster mother, juggling work, her busy volunteer schedule, and trying to have a personal life of her own. I think a lot of readers can identify in that way.
HH: What do you like best about Adam and why will readers love him?
I love how much Adam sincerely cares. He’s a big man. A wall of solid muscle with a scary deep voice. A man who’s been in and out of jail, and now a stint in a federal prison, but he’s trying hard to get his life back in order. Beneath his intimidating exterior is a gentle, kind man who was raised in a violent, alcoholic home, something he doesn’t want for his own child.
HH: What else can readers look forward to in this great series?
I received my critique back for Sanctified. This is Jude’s story. And I’m fast-drafting Renewed, book four, during the month of May. I set a goal of 50k, but deep down I want 60k, and it’s looking to be 60k by the time May 31st rolls around. I’m hoping to send Sanctified off to my publisher by the end of June.
HH: Any other projects you can tell us about?
I’m sixteen chapters into the first book of another series, but that’s on hold for now, since I’m trying to finalise The Matawapit Family series.
I’m also doing heavy research for a standalone historical romance that takes place during Canada’s fur trade, starring a beautiful Ojibway woman and either a Chief Factor if the hero is with the HBC, or a wintering partner if the hero is part of the North West Company. I actually plan on taking a day trip to visit the replica fort where I want the novel to be set in.
I’d also like to start a standalone novel that addresses the “Sixties Scoop,” starring an Ojibway girl who was adopted-out at birth into a prominent non-native family.
I’m also two chapters into a supernatural m/m romance starring an Ojibway man and the winter spirit of the north.
And there are a lot more ideas I have on a spreadsheet.
HH: What goals have you set for yourself at this point in your career?
Goals as in how many books I want to write? I’m not sure what you mean by this question. My goal for the year is to have the last books of The Matawapit Family series up and published, and the supernatural story almost ready to go for publication in 2020.
HH: What are you reading right now?
Between Bloody Lips by Sai Fox, a m/m contemporary mafia romance.
HH: What is one thing you think readers would be surprised to know about you?
I’m trying to think of something surprising but there’s not much to tell. I’m just an Ojibwa chickie from the rez, now living in the country with my hubby and our two fur babies, trying to break into the romance genre. LOL.