Posted in 5 paws, Book Release, chick lit, Review, women on July 1, 2016

lowcountry stranger

Lowcountry Stranger

By Ashley Farley

Series: Sweeney Sisters #2
Release date: July 1, 2016
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Family, Small-town, Chick-Lit

Synopsis

There’s a stranger in town. And it’s no coincidence when she shows up uninvited at a Sweeney family wedding. All eyes are drawn to this urchin who seems to have washed in with the tide. Before the night is over, the doe-eyed waif charms young and old with her street smarts and spunky personality. For better or worse, Annie Dawn is here to stay.

The memorable Sweeney sisters from Her Sister’s Shoes have returned with more suspense and family drama to hold you spellbound until the dramatic conclusion. As she approaches the next stage of her life as an empty nester, Jackie is torn between expanding her fledgling design business and spending these last precious months with her boys before they fly the coop. Her own worst enemy, Sam is terrified of making a commitment to Eli Marshall, handsome police officer, true love of her life. Her resolve is tested when a ghost from her past shows up after nearly two decades. Faith nurtures her seven-year-old daughter who is recovering from the trauma of her abusive father. Is the threat in the past, or is there more danger on the horizon? The sisters seek guidance from their mother, Lovie, a true Southern matriarch who shows them how to respond to adversity with grace and dignity.

Things are heating up in the Lowcountry. The Sweeney sisters remind us, once again, that being a part of a family is about more than sharing the same DNA.

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Review

What a lovely journey back to the town of Prospect (close to Charleston) and a look into what is happening with the Sweeney family. This is the second book, so make sure you read Her Sister’s Shoes first.

All of the sisters have come a long ways from the first book. They had worked through issues but don’t think that everything is dandy. There are still some problems that need to be addressed for each sister, but it makes them better women for it by the end of the book.

All three sisters have their strengths and weaknesses and I saw myself in several of them. All of the characters were someone that I could relate to either personally or knew people like them. I am wondering about Lovie (the mother) and if a future book will reveal some mental health issues. Jackie is strong but realizes that perhaps not everything has to be about her. Sam has her own demons to fight and does confront a few during the book (can’t give away too much!). And Faith has a few scary moments too, but has a new husband to lean on during those times.

I really enjoyed this book, so much that I stayed up way to late to finish the book. There are some nail biting moments, some sad time but many happy times. I loved that the family always manages to come together despite any personal issues.

Need a beach read – then check out this series.  We give it 5 paws up.

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Her Sister's Shoes

Her Sister’s Shoes (Sweeny Sister’s #1)

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About the Author

Ashley FarleyAshley Farley is a wife and mother of two college-aged children. She grew up in the salty marshes of South Carolina, but now lives in Richmond, Virginia, a city she loves for its history and traditions.

After her brother died in 1999 of an accidental overdose, she turned to writing as a way of releasing her pent-up emotions. She wrote SAVING BEN in honor of Neal, the boy she worshipped, the man she could not save. SAVING BEN is not a memoir, but a story about the special bond between siblings.

HER SISTER’S SHOES—June 2015—is a women’s novel that proves the healing power of family. Merry Mary—October 2015—a holiday novella, a young woman longing for a child stumbles upon a Christmas miracle. BREAKING THE STORY released on March 17, 2016. A romantic political suspense filled with passion, peril, and a scandal that will rock American politics.

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Posted in Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on July 1, 2016

Chasing Fireflies

Chasing Fireflies by Taylor Dean

Synopsis

My sisters think I’m crazy.

But, I’ve never forgotten the mysterious woman from my childhood who told me Paul is the name of my one true love.

She told me to search far and wide for him.

I haven’t stopped looking ever since.

When I stumble across an article about a successful American entrepreneur named Paul who lives and works in China, I’m intrigued. When the opportunity to teach English in China presents itself on the same day, I know it’s not a coincidence.

It’s destiny.

My sisters say I’m chasing a dream.

Just like the fireflies we tried to catch on the warm summer evenings of our youth, the dream seems beyond my grasp. Will my quest for the elusive Paul always be just short of fulfillment?

My sisters tell me it’s a fool’s errand.

Until I remind them of the day we saw the Red Bird.

The memory silences them.

The Red Bird Incident remains inarguable—and proves my search for Paul is not a silly fantasy.

I will find Paul . . . I will.

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Praise for Chasing Fireflies

It was like Taylor Dean left a trail of chocolate chips leading to a plate of delicious cookies at the end. Yummy! I had to eat every single one and now I’m full and feasting on the satisfaction of a well written story.  -Author Charissa Stastny

Taylor Dean is such a creative and skilled author that she has the ability to make the unusual and the unthinkable seem real.  -Lisa, Goodreads Reviewer

As always I loose myself in Taylor’s books, experiencing rather than reading the story, from that first glance and butterflies in my belly, to the inevitable heartache, to the amazingly captivating events that lead us to the blissful happily ever after.  -Mylissa’s Reviews and Book Thoughts

Excerpt

“Savannah, you’ll always be my baby, even now when you’re twenty-six years old.” Her voice wavers unsteadily as she tries to express herself in her weakened state. “You were a surprise to us all. I thought my child bearing years were over, and then along you came, ten years junior to my youngest child. You were a joy to raise. Quiet and unassuming, content to spend your time watching your sisters and their crazy antics. But it’s your time now, my dear sweet girl. No more watching.”

“Mom . . .” I whisper, angst evident in my tone.

“Life will happen for you, Savannah. I know it will.”

The defeated feeling that sometimes besieges me must be etched in my features because Darling Emma lifts her head off the pillow with strength she doesn’t possess, ready to object.

“Don’t give up, Savannah. I know life has thrown you some hard knocks. But you are strong, stronger than you think. I know you’ll find your special someone, I know you will. Keep searching. I want you to have love in your life, a love like I have known. It’s my greatest wish for you, the utmost desire of my heart. You are a special girl, Savannah. Never doubt your worth. Promise me you’ll never give up on life. Promise me you’ll demand a life that requires all the love inside of you, a life that reaches inside of you and squeezes out every ounce of love from your heart. Only then will you find happiness.”

I have no idea how to find that kind of life for myself.

Mom doesn’t mention my obsessive search for Paul, even though I know she’s never approved of my determination to find him. Instead she’s doing as she’s always done, kindly leading me by the hand toward another path.

Red Bird

taylor deanAbout the Author

Taylor Dean lives in Texas and is the mother of four grown children. Upon finding herself with an empty nest, she began to write the stories that were always wandering around in her head, quickly finding she had a passion for writing, specifically romance. Whether it’s paranormal, contemporary, or suspense—you’ll find all sub-genres of clean romance in her line-up.

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Blast Giveaway Details

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 7/21/16

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on June 30, 2016

if the earl only knew

 

Title: If the Earl Only Knew

Series: The Daring Marriages, #1

Author: Amanda Forester

Pubdate: July 5th, 2016

Synopsis

The chase is on in award-winning author Amanda Forester’s brand-new Regency romance series!

A sizzling scandal just waiting to happen.

Orphaned at a young age, Lady Katherine Ashton and her brother have spent most of their lives on the high seas, seeking to restore their family fortune through somewhat dubious means. After that kind of adventure, Kate knows she won’t ever be accepted as a proper society lady.

To the annoyingly clever, temptingly handsome, and altogether troublesome Earl of Wynbrook, society ladies are a dead bore. Kate, on the other hand, is scandalous, alluring, and altogether fascinating. And Kate can’t decide which she relishes more, the thrill of chasing fearsome pirates, or having Wynbrook chase after her…

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Question to the Author

If you could live inside any book, which one would you choose?

I would probably choose one of Georgette Heyer’s Regency comedies because they seem like one fun romp.

Excerpt

“Are you ready for this?” asked her brother, pulling on his worn wool greatcoat.

“Quite.” Lady Kate chose to misinterpret his meaning. “I have prepared an accounting for each one of our investors, providing details of their original investment and return.”

Robert Ashton, Earl of Darington, took the large ledgers from her hands. “Not what I meant.”

“I shall never be ready. But let us do it anyway,” she said crisply. She had developed a keen accounting for each one of their investors, but such a meeting brought the prospect of seeing one particular investor. A man she never wanted to see again.

Ever.

Would he be there? Would he dare come?

Lady Katherine has no beauty, no fashion, no conversation, and no accomplishments save being the sister to an earl, and an impoverished one at that. Years later, his voice still rang in her head.

It had begun innocently enough. While at university, Robert had become acquainted with Tristan Arlington, the second son of the Earl of Wynbrook, who had invited them to spend the Christmas holidays with his family. Tristan’s mother had been particularly kind, and for a brief moment Kate had thought she had finally been accepted. But it was not to last.

Kate closed her eyes and remembered her fateful visit. She had heard voices coming from the open library door and stopped. She knew she ought not to eavesdrop, but she could not help pausing outside the door and listening to the conversation between Tristan and his elder brother.

“Darington might not be so bad—one can forgive lack of conversation in a gentleman—but you must admit the sister is poor company indeed,” drawled Tristan’s elder brother.

“Dash it, John! What a gudgeon you are,” exclaimed Tristan. “Kate’s not had the advantages of feminine company is all. Their mother died bringing them into the world.”

“Perhaps, but is that any reason for Mother to sponsor her coming out with Jane this spring?”

“Why should Mother not bring out Kate with our sister?” cried Tristan. “Quite kind of her.”

“Because it may prove an embarrassment to Mother. I do not mean to offend, but your friend’s earldom was only recently created. Darington’s father must have done something quite heroic in his naval career to rise from a baronet to an earl. You know how society disdains social climbers.”

Social climbers!

Six years later, the words still ground like grit in her teeth. How she had hated him!

They came to a stop with a jolt and Kate opened her eyes to the intimidating sight of rising colonnades of the Bank of London. Her pulse pounded in her temples as they were led to a sitting room designed for meetings of the rich and the even richer. Dark mahogany paneling lined the hall, and all the furnishings from the curtains to the chairs were resplendent in rich jewel tones. Everything around her spoke of wealth and power.

Surely he would not be here. He would send his solicitor, not come in person. There was no need. She had almost convinced herself of his certain absence when they entered the room.

He was there.

The bastion of society stood warming himself by the fire, dressed impeccably in a dark blue, double-breasted suit that was tailored to perfection. She could not help but drink in his form. His broad, square shoulders revealed a powerful build, yet he had a trim waist and muscular thighs that were on the edge of indecent in his skintight buckskin breeches. With his chestnut hair, green eyes, and square jaw he was the very definition of a handsome man.

It was him.

John Arlington, the Earl of Wynbrook.

The only man she had ever kissed.

About the Author

Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at www.amandaforester.com.

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Posted in Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on June 29, 2016

gentleman never tells

A Gentleman Never Tells

By Eloisa James

Avon Impulse
June 28, 2016
E-ISBN 9780062573063 * $.99

Synopsis

A witty, sexy novella about a virgin widow and a rake with something to prove.

Eighteen months ago, Lizzie Troutt’s husband died in his mistress’s bed, leaving her determined to never marry again….and unfortunately virginal.

Eighteen years ago (give or take a few) the Honorable Oliver Berwick blackened his own soul, leaving him hardened and resolutely single.

When the chance for redemption in the form of a country house party invitation comes his way, Oliver is determined to prove himself a gentleman.

Until he breaks all the codes of gentlemanly behavior…once again.

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Excerpt

August 13, 1826
Telford Manor
Fontwell, Sussex

“I would prefer to take supper on a tray.” Lizzie didn’t look up from her book, because meeting her sister’s eyes would only encourage her.

She should have known Catrina wouldn’t back down. “Lizzie Troutt, your husband died over a year ago.”

“Really?” Lizzie murmured, turning a page. “How time flies.” In fact, Adrian had died eighteen months, two weeks, and four days ago.

In his mistress’s bed.

Lizzie,” Cat said ominously, sounding more like an older sister—which she was—with every word, “if you don’t get out of that bed, I shall drag you out. By your hair!”

Lizzie felt a spark of real annoyance. “You already dragged me to your house for this visit. The least you could do is to allow me to read my book in peace.”

“Ever since you arrived yesterday, all you’ve done is read!” Cat retorted.

“I like reading. And forgive me if I point out that Tolbert is not precisely a hotbed of social activity.” Cat and her husband, Lord Windingham, lived deep in Suffolk, in a dilapidated manor house surrounded by fields of sheep.

“That is precisely why we gather friends for dinner. Lord Dunford-Dale is coming tonight, and I need you to even the numbers. That means getting up, Lizzie. Bathing. Doing your hair. Putting on a gown that hasn’t been dyed black would help, too. You look like a dispirited crow, if you want the truth.”

Lizzie didn’t want the truth. In fact, she felt such a stab of anger that she had to fold her lips tightly together or she would scream at Cat.

It wasn’t her sister’s fault. It wasn’t anyone’s fault except her late husband’s, and he was definitely late—i.e., dead.

“I know you feel ashamed to be in company,” her sister continued, energetically digging her own grave, as far as Lizzie was concerned. “Unfortunately, most people are aware the circumstances of your marriage, not to mention the fact that Adrian was so imprudent as to die away from home.”

That was one way of putting it.

Imprudent.

“You make it sound as if he dropped a teacup,” Lizzie observed, unable to stop herself. “I would call the fact that Adrian died in the act of tupping Sadie Sprinkle inconsiderate in the extreme.”

“I refuse to allow you to wither away in bed simply because your husband was infatuated with Shady Sadie,” Cat said, using the term by which the gossip rags had referred to Adrian’s mistress. “You must put all that behind you. Sadie has another protector, and you are out of mourning. It’s time to stop hiding.”

“I am not hiding,” Lizzie said, stung. “I take fresh air and moderate exercise every day. I simply like reading in bed. Or in a chair.”

Or anywhere else, to tell the truth. Reading in a peaceful garden was an excellent way to take fresh air.

“Moderate exercise,” her sister said with palpable loathing. “You used to ride every day, for pleasure. We would practice archery on a fine day like this, or roam about the countryside, not sit inside reading.”

“Adrian’s stables were part of the entail, and went to his cousin,” Lizzie said, turning the page. She hadn’t read a word, but she was hoping that a show of indifference would drive her sister from the room.

“Not the mare that Papa gave you when you turned fourteen!” her sister gasped.

Showing masterly control, Lizzie didn’t roll her eyes. “A wife has no true possessions,” she said flatly. “Under the law, they belong to her husband, and Perdita was, therefore, transferred to the heir.”

“Oh, Lizzie,” Cat said, her voice woeful.

“It wasn’t so terrible,” Lizzie said, meaning it. “I went to the auction, and Perdita went to a family with a young girl. I’m certain that she is well cared for and happy.”

“Do you realize that by staying home and wearing black, you give the illusion that you are grieving for your husband?”

Lizzie’s hands tightened around her book. “Do you know what being a widow entails, Cat?”

“Wearing ugly black dresses for the rest of your natural life?”

“It means that I never again need put myself under the control of a man—any man. So, no, I have no interest in joining you at dinner. I know perfectly well that Lord Dimble-Dumble has been summoned to audition as my next husband. I don’t want him. I’d be more likely to come to dinner if you had invited the butcher.”

“I couldn’t do that,” Cat said, in a sudden digression. “Mr. Lyddle has developed a most unfortunate addiction to strong ale, and he’s regularly found lying about in the gutter singing, rather than butchering meat.”

“Who does the butchering now?” Lizzie asked, deciding to take a walk to the village and see this interesting musical event herself.

“His wife. My housekeeper says that she can get better cuts at a lower price these days. You’re trying to distract me with talk of singing drunkards,” Cat said, unfairly. “Let’s discuss your future.”

“Let’s not.”

“We might begin with the fact that you were never in love with Adrian.” Cat began walking around the bedchamber, waving her hands as she waxed eloquent about her late brother-in-law’s flaws.

She was preaching to the choir, so Lizzie stopped listening and just watched Cat pacing back and forth. How could it be that her older sister was positively frothing with life and energy and passion, while Lizzie felt like a tired, pale shadow?

Her hand crept toward her book. It wasn’t the most interesting novel in the world, but it had the inexpressible charm of being new.

Over the last eighteen months, Lizzie had read every novel she owned three times over. She would be quickly bankrupted if she bought more than two books a week, so one of the best things about visiting Telford Manor was access to her sister’s library.

Cat appeared to be hopeless at arranging a refurbishment of the manor—which desperately needed it—but she was very good at ordering novels. And clothing. If Lizzie looked like a black crow, Cat was a chic French peacock.

Lizzie raised her knees, surreptitiously propped her book against them, and slipped back in the story of Eveline, a sixteen-year-old girl being forced to marry an old man. She herself had been twenty when she walked down the aisle.

On the shelf.

Beggars can’t be choosers, her father had told her.

Her book suddenly vanished. “No reading!”

Cat was holding the novel above her head, for all the world as if they were children again. Lizzie used to hope that someday she’d grow up to be as commanding as her sister, but she had given up that idea long ago.

It wasn’t just a question of height. Her sister was the type of person who gathered everyone in a room around her, and Lizzie was the type of person whom they walked over on their way to be with Cat.

That sounded resentful, but Lizzie didn’t actually feel bitter. She would hate to be the center of attention. She wound her arms around her knees and propped her chin on them. “Cat, may I have my book back, please? It was a hard journey, and I’m tired.”

“What do you mean, a hard journey? It can’t have been more than a day and a half!”

“My coach is over twenty years old and the springs are worn out. It bounced so hard on the post road that I couldn’t keep my eyes on the page, and my tailbone still hurts.”

“If your jointure won’t extend to a new vehicle, Joshua or Papa would be happy to buy you a coach.”

Lizzie turned her head, putting her right cheek on her knees, and closed her eyes. “No.”

She heard her sister drop into the chair by the side of the bed. Then she heard a sigh. “Papa is getting old, Lizzie. He made a terrible mistake, and he knows it. He misses you. If you would just pay him a visit . . .”

“No.”

Why would she visit the father who had turned her away when she ran to him in desperation? The father who had known precisely what a disaster her marriage would be, but didn’t bother to warn her?

An hour or so after their wedding ceremony, Adrian had brought Lizzie, still wrapped in her bridal veil, to his mother’s faded, musty house, and informed her that he had no intention of living with her.

Not only that, but he was late to meet his lover for tea.

It had happened almost six years ago, but she could still remember her stupefaction. She’d been such a silly goose.

“But where do you live?” she had stammered.

“I bought Sadie a house, and we live there,” Adrian had said casually. When she frowned in confusion, he had added impatiently, “Sadie. Didn’t your father tell you her name?”

“Sadie? ”

For the first time—and in her experience, the last time—her husband had been a little defensive, even a trifle ashamed. “I never lied. He knows perfectly well that we will lead separate lives.”

“Perhaps you should explain to me,” Lizzie had said, “because my father unaccountably forgot to mention it. As did you, I might add.”

Adrian had unemotionally laid out the terms of her marriage. It seemed her father had paid a great deal of money to buy his daughter the title of Lady Troutt. For his part, Adrian had wed her for her dowry, and because he needed someone to care for his mother.

“The estate is entailed,” he had told her, glancing around the musty sitting room. “It goes to some distant cousin, along with the title, of course. I told your father that I wouldn’t be averse to trying for a child, once we’ve had time to get used to each other.”

Lizzie had just gaped at him.

“But we can’t bother with that now,” Adrian had told her briskly. “Sadie is upset about this mess, naturally enough. I promised her I’d be home by four. My mother takes her luncheon on a tray. There are a couple of maids, but it would be good if you could bring it in yourself. She complains of being lonely.”

After that, he left.

A few minutes later, Lizzie left as well. She went home.

Only to be sent back to her husband’s house.

There was no point in revisiting her father’s line of reasoning. Suffice it to say that no woman—even one who had abundant sensuality and beauty, which Lizzie did not— was capable of seducing a man who didn’t return to the house for a fortnight.

A man who doesn’t bother to consummate his marriage until he’s suffered a heart seizure and has, as the vulgar might put it, been given notice to quit.

A man who despises his lower-class wife, and never bothers to hide it.

About the Author

eloisa jamesELOISA JAMES is a New York Times best-selling author and professor of English literature who lives with her family in New York, but can sometimes be found in Paris or Italy. She is the mother of two and, in a particularly delicious irony for a romance writer, is married to a genuine Italian knight.

 

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, nonfiction, Review on June 29, 2016

Splash-of-Kindness

Synopsis

The ripple effect is all around us. We’ve all benefited from the committed teacher, the loving parent, the caring coach, the helpful stranger…

This book celebrates the positive results of acts of kindness. You’ll read about

–the teacher who inspired a young doctor to question the status quo, and thereby save the lives of thousands of women

–the coach who motivated a young athlete to achieve victory over self, and thereby earn an enduring place in history

–the father who cared enough about his young son to take him on an unscheduled flight

and more…

A Splash of Kindness is a book for anyone who is looking for inspirational stories.

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Review

Overall the message of this book is GREAT! That you get more done with acts of kindness and that it can have a lasting impact on those that receive those acts of kindness. Encourage ideas, acts of charity or just a smile can change someone’s day and their mindset.

The only thing I didn’t like was that some of these stories were very long. And while some of the detail is needed, it is like there were 3 or 4 stories within the main story and honestly, they didn’t add that much to the original story. Sometimes if felt like a story was wandering around without a point in mind. This was not all of the examples, but a few.

We give this 3 1/2 paws.

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About the Author

John-Starley-AllenWhen John Starley Allen was in second grade he began writing stories. His mother called them “The Road Stories,” because each one invariably began with “I was walking down a road…” followed by an encounter with a friend, animal, insect, mini natural disaster, etc., etc.

Allen is the author of the holiday novel Christmas Gifts, Christmas Voices and most recently has written a collection of true stories called A Splash of Kindness: The Ripple Effect of compassion, Courage & Character. Allen says he hopes his latest book will “empower people with the knowledge that they can make a positive difference in the world.”

Allen is also a songwriter who has received a gold record for a song he co-wrote with Motown’s Smokey Robinson. He has performed his music at Nashville’s iconic Bluebird Café.

He lives in Holladay, Utah. He and his wife JoAnn are the parents of four daughters.

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Posted in Historical, romance, Spotlight on June 27, 2016

UnfortunatePrince-cover1

Spotlight on… A Most Unfortunate Prince

By Kelli A. Wilkins

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing an inside look and spotlighting the making of my historical/fantasy romance, A Most Unfortunate Prince. This book is the third story in the Royal Desires trilogy that began with A Most Unusual Princess and A Most Intriguing Temptation. Together, they make up a fun series, but each story stands alone as a separate read. Why? Because when I wrote A Most Unusual Princess, I never knew I was writing a trilogy.

When I wrote A Most Intriguing Temptation, I introduced readers to Prince Allan. He’s basically the male version of his sister, Princess Elara – hedonistic, selfish, and utterly wild at times. I enjoyed creating the character and it was fun to set him free in a pleasure palace completely without limitations. As I was finishing A Most Intriguing Temptation, I realized Allan needed a book of his own, so I wrote A Most Unfortunate Prince. (Several readers also asked me if Allan’s story would be told, and I was happy to oblige!)

But before I wrote a word, I knew that Allan was going to have to face the music for his bad behavior. At the start of the book (yes, right there on page 1) Allan is banished for his actions stemming from A Most Intriguing Temptation. His father kicks him out into the real world alone and broke, and he’s forced to make his own way in life.

I decided to take this carefree, roguish prince and turn his world upside down. I asked myself: How bad can you make things for him? He has nothing: no food, no fancy clothes, certainly no job skills, and no real sense of identity. He had lived a pampered life where everything was handed to him on a silver platter (literally), and now was in for a rude awakening. I really put the screws to poor Allan and at times left him broken, sad, and utterly miserable.

Over the course of the book, Allan suffers life’s lessons at the hands of his evil employer and falls in love—twice. The story introduces us to Claudette, a sassy seamstress who fancies Allan and helps him adjust to the life of a commoner. Although Claudette appears innocent, she has a secret past and a bit of a naughty side.

Although A Most Unfortunate Prince has a happy ending, it is a bit darker than the other two books in the series. I wanted to contrast Allan’s former easy-going pampered life with his current harsh and gritty existence. (And it broke my heart to kill off a secondary character that I utterly adored. But I found a way to bring him back—at least for a little while!) Readers may also be surprised to discover a few things about Allan, as well. (Even I was shocked when certain events in the story took place—and I was the one writing it!)

Allan’s “fall from grace” and the journey of self-discovery that he undergoes are some of the reasons I love this book. It has something for everyone: hot love scenes, tender moments, mystery, adventure, and suspense.

But what about Dalton and Elara (from A Most Unusual Princess and A Most Intriguing Temptation)? They’re in the book too, as minor characters. Elara and Dalton play important roles in the finale of the story, and we get to see how these lovebirds are adapting to their married life. (Again, there’s a secret I don’t want to give away!) I can tell you that this book wraps up the trilogy in a neat package and everyone is left in a good place.

I hope you’ll check out one (or all) of the books in the series. They’re a fun read with a blend of spicy love scenes, humor, and suspense.

If you’ve read the trilogy, let me know what you think. What was your favorite book? Which scenes did you like best? Readers can contact me via the email address on the “News” page of my site or on social media.

Happy Reading!

Synopsis

This time, it’s all about Allan… and he never expected to fall in love!

Banished by the Royal Family, pampered Prince Allan is forced to abandon his life of luxury. The former Royal Shipmaster General is sent to the worst part of the kingdom and manages to find work at the docks. Lost in a commoner’s world, Allan is miserable—until he has an unusual encounter with a saucy shop girl named Claudette.

Allan must earn the respect of the woman he loves while keeping his true identity a secret. In an effort to redeem himself in his father’s eyes, he exposes a dangerous smuggling operation involving the Royal Fleet. But his loyalty to duty comes with a deadly price.

Can he keep Claudette and his royal title? Or will he lose her forever when she discovers his secret?

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Order your copy of Book 2 in the series, A Most Intriguing Temptation, here

Order your copy of Book 3 in the series, A Most Unfortunate Prince here

Excerpt

Claudette squealed and Allan drew her to him, crushing her against his chest. They were crammed into the wardrobe so close that Allan’s hot breath tickled her face. He draped her arms around his neck, then settled his hands on her waist. At first, she tried to protest, but then gave in when she realized her knees were shaking. Allan was here for her, holding her up.

“Shh, don’t make a sound, no matter what. I won’t let them hurt you,” he whispered.

She closed her eyes and rested her head on Allan’s shoulder. Thank heavens he was here. A second later, she heard the man rifling through drawers and cupboards, knocking cleaning supplies and her sewing aside. How did these men get in? What did they want?

Allan tightened his grip on her waist. Was he scared? Did men ever get scared?

“Bloody hell, where is it?” the man growled, and hit the side of the wardrobe.

Her heart skipped a beat and she took a breath to scream. As she did, Allan’s mouth closed over hers. She squirmed against him, then gave in as her body responded with a will of its own.

Her skin tingled as she kissed him, her lips eagerly seeking his. How long had it been since she’d kissed someone? She opened her mouth wider and drew Allan’s thick tongue in. He clutched her tighter as she twirled her tongue around his.

All thoughts of the intruders vanished from her mind as Allan yanked her lower body closer to his. His hot tongue teased hers and he slid his hands off her waist and cupped her buttocks.

About the Author

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 95 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.

In 2016 Kelli is re-releasing her romances previously published by Amber Quill Press. Visit her website and blog for a full title list, book summaries, and other information as it becomes available.

Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative non-fiction guide based on her 15 years of experience as a writer. It’s filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

If you like to be scared, check out Kelli’s horror ebooks: Dead Til Dawn and Kropsy’s Curse.

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Posted in 4 paws, Dystopian, Giveaway, Review, Thriller on June 27, 2016

The CleanSweep Conspiracy

Synopsis

Matt Tremain publishes Verité, a modest blog dedicated to writing about the truth and exposing scams. Currently, he’s following up on rumors concerning something called CleanSweep, a mysterious project in Toronto, Canada.

Matt gets his break when a whistleblower connects CleanSweep to billionaire Charles Claussen. Claussen plans to rid Toronto of undesirables, beginning with street people and extending to any citizens who don’t match Claussen’s restrictive screening matrix.

With the help of a high-ranking government official, Claussen plans to incite riots and violent unrest, conning Torontonians into sacrificing privacy and civil liberties for illusionary security and safety. Toronto will be reduced to a repressive city-state.

The information overwhelms Matt, who doubts he has the courage, skill, or readership to take on CleanSweep. But the murder of his source convinces the blogger to take a stand—although he’s too late to prevent chaos from gripping Toronto’s streets.

To get the word out, Matt’s going to need allies. He may have found some in a Toronto police detective and a local TV reporter pursuing the same story—presuming they aren’t allied with Claussen. If they are, Matt’s going to become yet another victim of CleanSweep, and the truth will be buried forever.

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**Note, when I looked on Amazon on 6/26/16 the book was FREE if you have a Kindle.  Check pricing before submitting purchase**

Review

The premise of this book reminded me a lot of Atlas Shrugged – where the government wants to control the lives of its citizens. Ok, maybe not to the extent of AS but pretty darn close.

It did take me a bit to get into the book, not sure if it was my mood or the book, but once I understood what was happening it definitely grabbed my attention.  I love reading about conspiracy theories and corrupt governments (because don’t we see that every day?!).  It was intriguing to see this author’s spin on government control and what was in the works, how it would work and why.  I thought the book was based in Canada, but there are a lot of references to the US so it was a bit confusing to me until it was definitely stated that it was happening in Toronto.

The characters were diverse and not surprising in today’s world that a blogger broke the news of some corrupt members of the government and society.  And when they came after him, he was prepared and knew how to destroy all the evidence.  In a way it was comical how he kept evading the authorities, but he couldn’t have done it without some help from some techy friends.

There were a few spots where it didn’t seem to flow or the timeline seemed off, but I might have missed something. Also, apparently Carl and Susan decided to have a physical relationship but there wasn’t any sort of real lead up to it other than Carl had a thing for her.  While this is a minor storyline, I think it needed a bit better development.

Overall it was a good story, I thought it just needed a little polishing/editing. Nothing drastic, but just some flow issues.

We give it 4 paws up.

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About the Author

Born in Iowa, Chuck Waldron lived in Ontario, Canada, before relocating to Florida’s Treasure Coast. Over the years, he’s held many jobs. The ones he can mention in print include US Army soldier, truck driver, office manager, mailman, real estate salesman, social worker, hardware store clerk, and shuttle driver.

Fate played a crucial role when he walked into his first writing class, and he still honors the memory of the teacher, Henrietta. She gave him permission to write. That—along with countless writing groups, classes, seminars, and much sweat—has resulted in over fifty short stories and four novels.

Waldron often likes to pretend interest, lacks perseverance, and could generally use a good talking to—until it comes to his writing, that is. He and his wife Suzanne reside in Port St. Lucie, Florida. While keeping an eye out for hurricanes, alligators, and Burmese pythons, he’s busy writing his next novel

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Giveaway

Prizes:

1. Grand prize: Kindle Fire with 7” display from Amazon + copy of CleanSweep (1 winner)

2. 4 copies of CleanSweep (4 winners)

3. 5 copies of author’s previous titles (5 winners)

4. 2 X $15 Amazon GC + copy of CleanSweep (2 winners)

Total: 12 winners (Open to USA & Canada) Giveaway ends July 7, 2016.

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Posted in Historical, romance, Spotlight on June 26, 2016

UnusualPrincess-MEDcoverB

Spotlight on… A Most Unusual Princess

Hi everyone,

Today I’m sharing an inside look and spotlighting the making of my historical/fantasy romance, A Most Unusual Princess. This fun and sexy story is the first book in my “Royal Desires” trilogy. (The other two books are A Most Intriguing Temptation and A Most Unfortunate Prince.)

Together, they make up an exciting series, but each story stands alone as a separate read. Why? Because when I wrote A Most Unusual Princess, I never knew I was writing a trilogy.

A Most Unusual Princess is a sensual novella about unruly and willful Princess Elara, and Dalton, the handsome (and incredibly patient) guard tasked with protecting her while she searches for a suitable husband. The book is a unique blend of comedy, human drama, and romance. It’s also the first romance I ever wrote – and it was a lot of fun.

Although the fantasy genre wasn’t something I had written in before, I liked the idea of following a very headstrong and spoiled Princess Elara as she looked for a husband. From the outset, we learn that Elara is an opinionated young woman who is used to getting her own way. When Dalton innocently catches Elara doing something very unladylike, the Dalton-Elara love/hate/love relationship is born.

I enjoyed writing Dalton and Elara’s story and fell in love with them. I never expected I’d visit these characters again, but not long after completing A Most Unusual Princess, I knew Dalton needed his own book, so I wrote a sequel. And later, Elara’s brother, Prince Allan showed up and I decided to tell his story, as well.

I’ve been asked how I plotted the series. Did I use note cards to keep track of each character description? Did I make an overall outline of the whole trilogy, and then write each book?

Nope. The truth is… I just wrote the story that was in my head. I didn’t intend to write a trilogy – it kinda happened on its own. (With a lot of typing on my part, of course!) I wrote each book by itself, with its own setting, characters, plot, and theme, apart from the book that came before. So, although they make up a series, each book can stand alone as an individual read.

Synopsis

Princess Elara needs to find a royal husband, but claims that no man can satisfy her. Her father hires Dalton, a special guard, to watch over her while she’s courting suitors. Dalton finds her unusual behaviors charming—and enthralling.

Dalton’s aloof manner intrigues Elara, and despite their differences, they share tender moments and intimate nighttime encounters. Elara is heartbroken when her father chooses a “proper” husband for her—until she meets the mystery man.

Bonus! This e-book includes a sneak peek at the second book in the “Royal Desires” series: A MOST INTRIGUING TEMPTATION.

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Order your copy of A Most Unusual Princess here

Order your copy of Book 2 in the series, A Most Intriguing Temptation, here

Order your copy of Book 3 in the series, A Most Unfortunate Prince here

Excerpt

Dalton walked past her and entered her bedchamber. She stood in the doorway while he searched the wardrobes and looked under the bed. After last night’s fright, she was taking no chances.

“There’s nothing… a-ha! What’s this?” He pulled a white silk stocking out from under the bed and waved it in the air.

“Put that down.” She raced into the room and lunged for the stocking. Dalton held it over his head.

“Is this what a princess wears beneath her dress?”

“Give that to me.” She knocked him backward onto the bed and pounced on him.

“This would make a nice remembrance,” he said, keeping the stocking out of her reach.

“Beast!” She squirmed as they playfully struggled for the stocking. A moment later, Dalton turned his head and his lips brushed against hers.

She gasped. Dalton had stopped laughing and was staring up at her. She closed her eyes and felt his finger caress her cheek.

“You’re beautiful,” he whispered.

The next thing she knew, Dalton’s mouth covered hers. The feel of his warm, moist lips sent a searing heat through her. After a few seconds of heaven, he pulled away.

“I should not have done that.”

She licked her lips. “I’m glad you did. It was nice.” Her heart hammered out of control, and her lower body throbbed. This was the feeling she was supposed to have when she met with her suitors. “Kiss me again.”

“With pleasure.”

Dalton curled his arms around her and pulled her down onto him. His mouth moved against hers, and fire flashed between her legs. She kissed him, tentatively at first, then with more passion as she was swept away by desire.

He slid his hands across her back and down to her buttocks. She moaned as he squeezed her through her dress. Was this what it felt like to have a man make love to her? Every night should be like this.

She ignored a faint rapping on the sitting room door. It was probably a lady-in-waiting coming to undress her for bed. She needed no help with her clothes tonight. Dalton was here, he could remove her dress and then…

“Elara?”

Dalton broke the kiss and bolted upright. “It’s your father!”

About the Author

Kelli A. Wilkins is an award-winning author who has published more than 95 short stories, 19 romance novels, and 5 non-fiction books. Her romances span many genres and heat levels.

In 2016 Kelli is re-releasing her romances previously published by Amber Quill Press. Visit her website and blog for a full title list, book summaries, and other information as it becomes available.

Her writing book, You Can Write—Really! A Beginner’s Guide to Writing Fiction is a fun and informative non-fiction guide based on her 15 years of experience as a writer. It’s filled with writing exercises and helpful tips all authors can use.

If you like to be scared, check out Kelli’s horror ebooks: Dead Til Dawn and Kropsy’s Curse.

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Posted in 5 paws, Review, romance on June 26, 2016

 

THE WEDDING WAGER 500x700

 

 

The Wedding Wager by Barbara DeLeo

Release date: 5/16/16

 

Synopsis

Nick Katsalos has a foolproof plan to save his parents’ floundering wedding venue. The last thing he expects is for Erin O’Malley, the captivating daughter of his parents’ biggest rival, to waltz in and charm the client who could finally get the family business back on track. Nick would be furious–if only he could stop thinking about her.

When Erin and Nick enter into a wager to determine who will win the contract she prepares for the worst…and is surprised by the glimpses of warmth she sees in the man behind the numbers. But Erin isn’t about to forfeit what could be the biggest wedding of the decade to a man as cold as Nick. Especially since securing it means she could finally prove to her father she’s just as capable of handling the family business as him.

But as the competition heats up, Erin and Nick must decide what’s more important—winning or love.

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Review

Combine romance with a competition and what do you get? The Wedding Wager! and no, it isn’t a wager on who is going to marry who, but on which wedding venue is the best in town. Nick is very analytical and finds faults in movies, paintings, etc. Erin can be a free spirit when she chooses is ruled by her emotions (most of the time). What could they possibly see in each other? Only the best of course.

This is a clean romance (yes they have sex but we don’t know the details!) and very engaging. Both Erin and Nick want to save their respective family’s legacy in their wedding venues but both have something to learn about what makes a good event and what they need in their own lives.

When I read about Nick’s venue all I could imagine was My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and I imagine it was very similar to what you would expect to see in a Greek venue.

I think both Erin and Nick learned something about themselves in this book that made them better people for each other. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith.

We give this 5 paws up!

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About the Author

Barbara DeLeo’s first book, co-written with her best friend, was a story about beauty queens in space. She was eleven, and the sole, handwritten copy was lost years ago, much to everyone’s relief. It’s some small miracle that she kept the faith and is now living her dream of writing sparkling contemporary romance with unforgettable characters.

After completing degrees in Psychology and English then travelling the world, Barbara married her winemaker hero and had two sets of twins

She still loves telling stories about finding love in all the wrong places, with not a beauty queen or spaceship in sight.

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Posted in fiction, Historical, Spotlight on June 25, 2016

lazlo's revenge

Glen Hierlmeier’s latest book, Lazlo’s Revenge, is the story of one woman’s adventure throughout Europe to uncover her parents’ pasts.  Stories of romance, war, and traumas both physical and emotional are unearthed as she traces their footsteps back to the major sites of World Wars I and II.

Synopsis

Lazlo’s Revenge is a remarkable story, inspired by true events in places devastated by war, with characters channeling the victims who suffered greatly. Readers will develop personal relationships with the characters, who will leave them wanting to know more about them. Maxine “Max” Fischer is a writer and Swiss war correspondent whose parents lived through the tragedies of the Great World Wars. In this tale of one woman’s quest for knowledge and understanding, she sets out to see the very places where her parents survived on their odyssey to escape danger and death.

Lazlo’s Revenge is the story of what Max unearths in her travels and research back to the time of two of the most shattering wars in history. She is the daughter of Hank and Roberta Fischer, the main characters from Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War. Hank and Roberta were the unlikeliest of couples. Hank was an American soldier stationed in Germany after the war, while Roberta, was the daughter of a Nazi SS Officer who was sought after by American and British security forces for his war crimes. Max’s story begins with her birth at the end of the previous novel, and continues in Lazlo’s Revenge, as she endeavors to write her parents’ story of love and survival through wartime.

During her journey through her parents’ pasts, Max becomes fascinated by the people who influenced their lives. She follows the life and times of Lazlo Floznik, the man who saved her parents’ lives, and helped them escape catastrophe in Europe by seeking out refuge beyond the reach of the security forces that sought to imprison them.  The years leading up to World War I, the time between the wars, and the experiences of World War II reveal their secrets as Max explores her family roots, in this deeply emotional story tied together by Lazlo’s intense story of love, and that of his father, Miklos, before him.

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Excerpt

From Chapter 1: Bukovina

August 1914

Czernovitz, Bukovina

Austro-Hungarian Empire

Miklos Floznik

I approached the first houses, gasping for breath, horrified to see the destruction being wrought by round upon round of artillery fusillades. There was no cover to be found. Dazed, I continued running, desperately trying to save myself. I passed perhaps a dozen or more homes laid nearly flat. Mutilated bodies lying all about and the wounded wailing like nothing I had ever heard. As I neared the outskirts of the city, the shelling began again as suddenly as it had stopped. Cannonade pounded in the distance. The earth trembled ferociously at my feet. Turning a corner behind what still stood of the only remaining wall of a large stone building, another round of explosions pounded the city as I leaped down into a now-exposed basement filled with debris from the collapsed upper floors—only one wall and half another standing. Hope drained from me. Each deafening blast shook my senses, sending shards of glass and cracking timbers high into the air with a sickening burst.

Darkness fell quickly in the gloomy gray of dark as I slipped over a broken wall of stones and fell into the pit of the decimated structure. I pushed tightly into a corner of what was once someone’s home, protected from the drenching rain by a small portion of what remained of a badly damaged wall hanging precariously overhead—a welcome but uncertain shelter in the midst of chaos. I pushed tightly back against the cold stone walls on either side, finding as much safety as possible against a new round of explosions that pounded above and around. Each blast shook the skeletal rubble of the house, wrenching stone and wood from tenuous perches and sending more flying debris into the desolate hole that would be their final resting place . . . and perhaps mine as well. I was trapped—I couldn’t move for fear of being crushed in that dreadful place or being shelled to death outside. I pulled my knees to my chin…all I could think to do was pray…and as I prayed…tears came but did not assuage my fear.

Mercifully, with the darkness, silence also descended—even warriors need their rest. Only screams of the wounded and desperate pleas of survivors who searched frantically through the rubble for lost loved ones pierced the cold, wet, bleak night. Soon, darkness also shrouded them in silence, all but the woeful cries of the dying calling out miserably in their hopeless plight—my hopelessness too, I thought. In my corner hideaway, I could see nothing but the black of night illuminated only by the flickering dance of fires burning what remained. I knew without seeing that only rubble lay before me, and there was no hope to be found.

Bombardment of the trenches and the city paved the way for the Russian ground troops, armored cars pulling cannons, and the dreaded Cossack horsemen. I knew they would come—surely, by morning they would come. Everything in their path would be destroyed, everyone who resisted would be killed, and all others would be taken prisoner. There was no doubt. It was their way— what Colonel Eduard Fischer and the Hungarian Army had come to Bukovina to prevent, what I bravely thought we could accomplish was lost. I had not even seen a Russian, but I knew there was no hope of saving anyone. The Kingdom of Bukovina was doomed, and surely none of Austria-Hungary would be safe. With the Hungarian Army defeated and the stronghold city of Czernovitz overrun, no one remained to save us. Even Colonel Fischer might be dead, leaving no leader to stand boldly and hold the remnant together.

In the barren darkness, my youthful excitement as a proud Hungarian soldier on a mission to save the Kingdom of Bukovina, and ultimately the empire, suddenly struck me as a foolish notion. Wearing my uniform once made me very proud, but now I was only frightened and angry. My comrades and I were assured that victory would quickly prevail, but war and death tragically became very real, fearful, foreboding, and final. I questioned myself: Was I a coward to run? Do I really know what bravery is? Do I really know what all these good people are dying for? Do I know what this war is all about? Do I even care about Jews? After all, these people in Bukovina are Jews, many of them. Are they worth the death of so many fresh, hopeful young Hungarian and Austrian men? Are they worth my life?

My head swirled with doubts. My heart ached for answers I didn’t have. Life became too real, too fast. My tortured mind flashed back to the wretched face of the too-young boy, dead in the trench, and the unknown soldier whose bloated corpse had lifted my escape. I sat in my wretched corner and questioned why I had come to such a place—why anyone would engage in such brutality.

Was this worth it…for them…for us…for anyone?

After being drenched for nearly all of three days, the rain finally stopped. The choking smell of charred remains of buildings, gunpowder, and the rotting dead hung heavily in the air. I wished for the rain again, to dilute the ghastly stench. Time slipped slowly by. The dying must have passed through death’s mercy in the eerie silence and the wounded attended to, for as I listened—no sound. Strange, I thought, that in the midst of all this evil, there should be silence. I knew it could not last. Fear grabbed my throat again. My impulse was to get up and go, take action, do something, anything, but my mind held me back—there was nowhere to go, no escape, no hope. The Russian Cossacks would be here by morning—nothing to do but hide and wait, then fight to my death, to salvage whatever honor there might be in resisting.

Below the woeful mute of night, I crouched and cowered. Shivering in fear, my mind drifted back to happier days in Budapest when, as a young boy, I…

Just then!

Something fell on the far side of the rubble, sounding as if it came from behind the largest pile of debris—perhaps another dislodged stone. I leaned forward to hear and peered vainly into the darkness as my heart leaped in my chest and immense fear gripped me. The worst of my thoughts seized me—the Russians were coming in the night and rooting out survivors! Desperate, I slowly reached to my side, and silently drew out my pistol. Another sound. Someone was moving, and not more than ten meters from me.

I raised my pistol and aimed in the direction of the sounds, I was prepared to shoot anything on sight, at any slight movement—my hands trembled against the trigger. A faint light appeared, flickering behind the rubble, like the light of a small candle casting a very large, daunting shadow around me, barely visible as it slowly danced in the eerie candlelight, nearly scaring the life out of me as my finger tightened on the cold trigger.

Crying—quiet, sorrowful weeping—as if the person hidden by the pile of debris knew she had to be very quiet but could not help herself…clearly a woman, perhaps a very young woman, maybe just a girl. I was still…very still…and listened for perhaps fifteen or even twenty minutes, until the light wavered and died. The soft whimpering continued for a long, long time in the fearful dark that kept me huddled closely against the walls of my corner as though I wished to disappear in its grasp. I would wait. By the dim light of morning, I would see who my companion in that hellacious hole might be. Though I resisted, sometime later I dozed, exhausted, dreamily wishing for the safety of my home in Budapest.

I woke to the constant patter of a dreary rain as the breaking dawn cast a ghastly glow over the destruction strewn around and about me. My eyes fixed toward the sound and the light of a few hours earlier; I listened but…only quiet and stillness…no sound but the steady falling rain.

About the Author

Glen HierlmeierGlen Hierlmeier is a graduate of the United Sates Air Force Academy, and has an MBA from The University of Wisconsin. He served in the U.S. Air Force, where he helped develop the Manned Orbiting Laboratory and the F-15 Eagle fighter aircraft, and gained a deep interest in world affairs and warfare.

He subsequently completed a career as a banker and real estate executive, serving as President and CEO of various companies for over thirty years before retiring in 2009.

Glen enjoys writing historical fiction and has published three other books including Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember, We Had to Live: We Had No Choice…, and Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War, the prequel to Lazlo’s Revenge.

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