Posted in excerpt, Family, Giveaway, Historical, Trailer, women on May 27, 2017

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS

by

CAMILLE DI MAIO

 

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Historical / Family

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: May 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 334

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After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life.

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Praise for Before the Rain Falls

Still wiping away tears! Before the Rain Falls is simultaneously heartbreaking, hopeful, and joyous: a story of complex characters with varied pasts and bright futures. Loved it! – Jennifer B. on Goodreads

This novel takes readers on an emotional, fast-paced, ride through one sister’s journey to self, redemption, and the true meaning of “freedom.” – Nicole W. on Goodreads

There is romance, mystery, and secrets that are kept till the very end that will have you not wanting this beautifully written story to end. – Carol B. on Goodreads

Excerpt from Before the Rain Falls, Chapter One

By Camille DiMaio

The portraits were definitely not where they belonged. They had hung over the bed, side by side, the two girls immortalized by the painter at the seaside. Now there were two spots of floral wallpaper, patches of brightness surrounded by faded print on the rest of the wall.  Della’s painting was likely in the shed somewhere, and the other was said to hang in the church, in a little shrine made to the town’s beloved girl. She’d heard some nonsense about it crying. Well, if it was, there was a lot to cry about.

In the morning, she planned to go to the church itself – Our Lady of Guadalupe. Her first foray into town. She’d found an old hat with a black veil, fashionable in its time, and perfect for whatever anonymity she could retain. She did not yet know if her notorious celebrity of the forties was still of interest to anyone today, but it felt too soon to find out.

She looked forward to venturing out. To breathe in fresh air, to see the sky and the trees and the clouds and the birds. The yard at the penitentiary was vast, but surrounded by tall brick walls and taller barbed wire that blocked the scene. Besides, one had to look out, not up, and be mindful of theft from fellow inmates and groping from the restless hands of the guards. Though that last part had not been an issue for her in the past few decades.

Funny how she could view her life in ten year spans. The nineteen forties – when she learned to be a champion catcher of greased pigs. The fifties – when she discovered a love of reading. The sixties – when she sabotaged her chance at parole. And so on. How long they all were. And yet they seemed like yesterday. Time was a droll companion when looked upon with such distance.

Those were the After Days, the ones that comprised most of the years of her life. More than most people lived. The days in which her sister was no longer the belle of Puerto Pesar, drawing crowds from around the country to the little church on Sunday mornings. The days, instead, when Eula resided six feet below the parched soil in the churchyard.

Della didn’t know what to call this new time. The Freedom Days, perhaps, but that didn’t seem quite right. It wasn’t enough that she could now walk around without bars to block the view. That was only one kind of freedom.

It was the freedom in telling your secrets before it was too late. Like the confessional of her youth, whispering things to Fr. Medina that she told no one else. About how she missed her mother. Her guilt over not being a good enough caregiver for her sister. Della had a story and she was ready to tell it.

She would think of this time as the Truth Days. That was it.

The Truth Days.

And it would start by visiting Eula.

DiMaio PicCamille is an award-winning real estate agent in San Antonio who, along with her husband of 18 years, home schools their four children. She has a bucket list that is never-ending, and uses her adventures to inspire her writing. She’s lived in Texas, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California, and spends enough time in Hawai’i to feel like a local. She’s traveled to four continents (so far), and met Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. She just about fainted when she had a chance to meet her musical idol, Paul McCartney, too. Camille studied political science in college, but found working on actual campaigns much more fun. She belts out Broadway tunes whenever the moment strikes, and forever stays up late reading “just one more chapter”. There’s almost nothing she wouldn’t try, so long as it doesn’t involve heights, roller skates, or anything illegal. “The Memory of Us” is Camille’s debut novel. Her second, “Before the Rain Falls” will be released in the spring of 2017.

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5/20 Review Books in the Garden
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5/22 Author Interview Chapter Break Book Blog
5/23 Review Syd Savvy
5/24 Promo Books and Broomsticks
5/25 Guest Post The Page Unbound
5/26 Review Reading By Moonlight
5/27 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
5/28 Promo Missus Gonzo
5/29 Review Forgotten Winds
5/30 Deleted Scene CGB Blog Tours
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Posted in Giveaway, mystery, Young Adult on May 26, 2017

Synopsis

School’s out for the summer!

Kindergarten teacher, Fiona Quinn is looking forward to spending some quality time in her yard and with her boyfriend, Detective Nathan Landry. However, Fiona?s plans get squelched when her mother volunteers her to edit a manuscript for famous romance author, Wyla Parkes.

What’s so bad about that? The author insists Fiona must work on the manuscript at her beach cottage on Presque Isle–three hours away from her yard and Nathan. Spending six weeks in an adorable cottage on a private beach doesn’t really seem all that bad until people start turning up dead beginning with the author! Fiona’s summer of sun and sand is instantly transformed into a murder investigation. Can Fiona and

Nathan crack the case or will the murderer getaway on a wave of deceit?

Join Fiona and the gang for a hot whodunit on the sandy beaches of Presque Isle, Pennsylvania!

About the Author

For twenty-six years C.S. McDonald’s life whirled around a song and a dance. She was a professional dancer and choreographer. During that time she choreographed many musicals and an opera for the Pittsburgh Savoyards. In 2011 she retired from her dance career to write. Under her real name, Cindy McDonald, she writes murder-suspense and romantic suspense novels. In 2014 she added the pen name, C.S. McDonald, to write children’s books for her grandchildren. Now she adds the Fiona Quinn Mysteries to that expansion. She decided to write the cozy mystery series for her young granddaughters, and has found that so many adults love them too.

Ms. McDonald resides on her Thoroughbred farm known as Fly by Night Stables near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with her husband, Bill, and her poorly behaved Cocker Spaniel, Allister.

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Posted in Historical, romance, Spotlight, Western on May 25, 2017

BLOOD OATH

A Laura Elliston Novel, Book 2

by

MELISSA LENHARDT

NEW RELEASE 

 

  Genre: Historical / Western / Action-Adventure / Romance

Publisher: Redhook

Date of Publication: May 23, 2017

Number of Pages: 384

Outlander meets post-Civil War unrest in this action-packed follow up to Sawbones.

Laura Elliston and William Kindle are on the run — from the Army and from every miscreant in the West eager to claim the $500 bounty for Laura’s capture as their own. But the danger isn’t just from those pursuing them. Laura and Kindle have demons of their own and a past that won’t stay dead. Exhausted, scared, scarred and surrounded by enemies, neither realize the greatest danger is yet to come.

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Watch Lone Star Book Blog Tours for the Badlands tour starting June 27th

with reviews of Blood Oath, Badlands, and Special Features with the inside scoop!

 

about the author

melissa-lenhardtMelissa Lenhardt writes mystery, historical fiction, and women’s fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in Heater Mystery Magazine, The Western Online, and Christmas Nookies, a holiday romance anthology. Her debut novel, Stillwater, was a finalist for the 2014 Whidbey Writers’ MFA Alumni Emerging Writers Contest. She is a member of the DFW Writers’ Workshop and vice president of the Sisters in Crime North Dallas Chapter. Melissa lives in Texas, with her husband and two sons.

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5/24 Reading By Moonlight
5/24 My Book Fix Blog
5/25 StoreyBook Reviews
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5/26 Chapter Break Book Blog
5/26 Texas Book Lover
5/27 The Page Unbound
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Posted in Cover Reveal, Giveaway, romance on May 24, 2017

FORGETTING YOU, FORGETTING ME

Monica James

Series: Memories From Yesterday Book 1

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Release Date: June 26th 2017

German Rights sold to: Heyne, Random House 

Synopsis

My name is Lucy Tucker, and my life…it was perfect.

I worked the dream job. I had the most incredible family and friends. My home, Whispering Willows, a ranch in Montana, was everything I could ever wish for. My adoring fiancé, Samuel Stone, loved me unconditionally.

I had everything a girl could ever want.

But one fateful event shattered my perfect life. It’s unimaginable how simple, ordinary words can change a person’s life forever. For me those words were, “There’s been an accident.”

I thought Sam was my forever, but that forever came to a close the day Saxon Stone, Sam’s identical twin brother, came back. Saxon returned to Montana to help save Sam, however, the moment he entered my life, he turned my world upside down. But through chaos I somehow found clarity—clarity of who I was meant to be.

As time progressed, as seasons changed, and as a fire began to burn, I soon realized that Saxon was there for another reason…he was there to help save me.

About the Author

Monica James spent her youth devouring the works of Anne Rice, William Shakespeare, and Emily Dickinson.

When she is not writing, Monica is busy running her own business, but she always finds a balance between the two. She enjoys writing honest, heartfelt, and turbulent stories, hoping to leave an imprint on her readers. She draws her inspiration from life.

She is a bestselling author in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, and the U.K.

Monica James resides in Melbourne, Australia, with her wonderful family, and menagerie of animals. She is slightly obsessed with cats, chucks, and lip gloss, and secretly wishes she was a ninja on the weekends.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery, Review on May 24, 2017

 

 

Grilled, Chilled and Killed: Big Lake Murder Mystery
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Creekside Publishing (December 31, 2016)
Paperback: 330 pages E-Book 224 pages

Synopsis

It seems as if Emily is destined to discover dead bodies. This time she finds one of the contestants at the local barbecue cook-off dead and covered in barbecue sauce in a beer cooler. She should be used to stumbling onto corpses by now and the question of who killed the guy should pique her curiosity, but Emily decides to let Detective Lewis handle this one, at least until she figures his theory of who did the deed is wrong, wrong, wrong. Lewis’ denigration of Emily’s speculations is condescending enough to stimulate her dormant snooping skills. As the two of them go on their separate paths to find the killer, Lewis’ old partner, Toby the dirty, tobacco-spitting cop interferes in the investigation leaving Lewis with the wrong man in jail. Killers, bootleggers, barbecue and feral pigs—it’s a lethal game of hide and seek in the Florida swamp.

Excerpt

Emily shook the metal canister filled with ice, liquor and mix until her hand numbed from the cold. Perfect. She tapped the edge of the lid to loosen it and tossed the ice cubes she’d placed in the martini glass into the sink. A young man stepped up to the bar and opened the lid of the container, which held cherries and slices of lime and lemon. He reached in to extract a piece of the fruit.

She slapped his knuckles with a mixer spoon. “Yow!” He snatched back his hand.

“I do the bartending around here. Keep your hands out of my stuff.” Emily shook the spoon at him, threatening to hit him once more. He spun on the heel of his boot and left.

She poured the icy concoction into a glass and placed it on the bar in front of the man sitting there.

“You’re a tough gal.” The man’s gaze swept over the tiny blonde bartender with admiration. “But I already knew that.”

“He just came out of the bathroom. I’ll bet he didn’t even wash his hands before he pawed through my fruit.” She plunged the shaker into the soapy water in the sink and looked around the bar.

“Good drink. Just enough vermouth. Almost as good as mine.”

“Don’t sass your boss.”

“Where’d you learn to use the word ‘sass’?” There was almost a chuckle in his voice.

Emily knew Donald Green rarely laughed, never chuckled and chose to dole out his smiles with infrequency. The bass fisherman with the tall, muscular body and long, silver ponytail didn’t care if anyone found him pleasant or not. Emily figured he didn’t care about most people. Sometimes she worried she might be an exception. She didn’t need Donald paying attention to her as a woman, so she tried to aggravate him as much as possible. She thought that might take his mind off romance and put it back on catching bass or mixing drinks.

“You drink that drink, and I’ll drive to the festival grounds. It would look bad for the country club if their backup bartender got picked up for DWI.”

Review

I enjoyed this book as much as the first book since all the characters were back including a few “bad” guys (they just weren’t the killers in the first book!).  There are even some new characters added to this story that may just be passing through, but perhaps we will see them in book 3.  It is interesting how Emily is still treated as a Yankee and a visitor even though she has lived in this town for quite some time.  Maybe one of these years she will be treated as one of the gang and not an outsider.

While this is a mystery there are also quite a few comedic moments that caused me to chuckle and my husband to ask what was so funny.  Sometimes you just can’t explain those little bits because they are part of a larger story and takes too long to explain.  I kept going back and forth on suspecting different characters for the murder and their motive.  Of course I didn’t figure it out and I was glad that it wasn’t easy to figure out and kept me guessing.

Emily seems to have two love interests…Donald who is interested in her but I don’t think she is interested in him, and Detective Lewis who is married but getting a divorce and they seem to have some crazy sexual tension between them.

I thought the setting where the dead body was fun, a barbecue competition.  Living in Texas, I am quite familiar with those competitions and can be quite intense with the contestants.

Overall we enjoyed visiting Big Lake and hope to visit again soon!  We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

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May 15 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW – Book 1, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 15 – My Journey Back My Reading Journeys –  REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW*

May 16 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW

May 17 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW – Both Books

May 19 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Bookworm Café –  GUEST POST

May 20 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW – Book 1

May 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW – Both Books *

May 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Both Books, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 –StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 1

May 22 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW – Both Books

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW – Both Books*

May 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 2

May 24 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW – Book 1

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW – Both Books

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW –  Both Books*

May 26 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW – Book 2

May 27 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 1, GUEST POST*

May 28 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 2*

May 28 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in Giveaway, romance, Short Story, Texas on May 23, 2017

THE HEART OF A TEXAS COWBOY

Men of Legend, Book 2

by

LINDA BRODAY

 

  Genre: Western / Historical / Romance

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca

Date of Publication: May 2, 2017

Number of Pages: 384

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Three Brothers. One Oath.

No Compromises.

The MEN of LEGEND

One bullet is all it takes to shatter Houston Legend’s world. He swore he’d never love again, but with the future of the Lone Star Ranch on the line, he finds himself at the altar promising to love and cherish a woman he’s never met—a woman whose vulnerable beauty touches his heart.

All Lara Boone wants is a name for her baby. The best she can hope for is kindness and acceptance. She never expected to fall in love with her own husband—or any man—after the heartache she’s endured.

In an effort to save the Lone Star Ranch, Houston decides to drive two thousand longhorns up the Great Western Trail to Dodge City. The day before he leaves, the cook quits. When he can’t find another on such short notice, Lara offers to go along and fill in. Over his best judgement, he lets her. Three days out, he notices riders trailing them. Things go from bad to worse and it’s an all-out fight to try to save themselves and the herd.

And when Lara’s troubled past catches up with them, Houston will move heaven and earth to protect his bride…and discover depths to a marriage of convenience neither realized could be theirs to claim.

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Praise

“Broday brilliantly captures Lara and Houston’s hesitations and growing love. The exciting plot, rich setting, and superb writing will delight fans of historical romances.” ~~Publisher’s Weekly *Starred Review

“This compassionate, poignant marriage-of-convenience love story demonstrates Broday’s ability to bring a wide range of emotions to her characters in a fast-paced plotline without losing a bit of the powerful love story. Add this to your Western romance collection!” ~~Romantic Times

“Ms. Broday’s conclusion of this phenomenal book is heart gripping, blood pounding drama at its finest. This one will keep readers revisiting again and again in years to come.” ~~ Tonya Lucas- Goodreads Review

“One of the best historical Western authors.” ~~ Fresh Fiction

“Broday will appeal to fans of such authors as Georgina Gentry, Leigh Greenwood, and Jodi Thomas.” ~~Booklist

Check out Linda’s bonus short story in this month’s Saddlebag Dispatches!

Click on the image above and her story, Moondog Night, begins on page 25 .

Linda Broday, Historical Western Romance Author

I’m a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 8 full length historical western romance novels, with another set to release 2017, and 10 short stories. Watching TV westerns during my youth fed my love of cowboys and the old West and they still do. I reside in the Texas Panhandle on land the American Indian and Comancheros once roamed. At times, I can feel their ghosts lurking around every corner. Texas’ rich history is one reason I set all my stories here. I love research and looking for little known tidbits to add realism to my stories. When I’m not writing, I collect old coins and I confess to being a rock hound. I’ve been accused (and quite unfairly I might add) of making a nuisance of myself at museums, libraries, and historical places. I’m also a movie buff and love sitting in a dark theater, watching the magic on the screen. As long as I’m confessing…chocolate is my best friend. It just soothes my soul.

 

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5/16 Review Chapter Break Book Blog
5/17 Character Interview Books in the Garden
5/18 Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
5/19 Review Margie’s Must Reads
5/20 Excerpt Reading By Moonlight
5/21 Author Interview The Page Unbound
5/22 Review CGB Blog Tours
5/23 Bonus Short StoreyBook Reviews
5/24 Review Missus Gonzo

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Posted in excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on May 23, 2017

Title: As the Liquor Flows
Author: Angela Christina Archer
Publisher: Long Valley Press
Genre: Historical Romance (Sweeter/Lower Heat Level)
Pages: 256
Publication Date: March 19, 2016
ISBN: 978-0692660546

Synopsis

Black Tuesday, October 29, 1929, the day the stock market crashed, and the day Evelyn Ford will never forget.

With the untimely death of her parents and the loss of their only income, Evelyn, and her brother, Frank flee to a make-shift hovel built in Central Park.

After Frank mysteriously goes missing, bare cupboards force Evelyn to seek employment anywhere she can find work, even if that means working at a burlesque theater.

Catching the attention of Don Vincent Giovanni, a Kingpin in the New York mafia, Evelyn discovers that Frank is serving time in prison for running hooch and he owes Vincent a lot of money. In order to pay off her brother’s debt, Evelyn is thrown into the world of mobsters and bootlegging.

Between running hooch all over the city of New York and trying to save her brother, Evelyn finds herself drawn to Max Catalano, Vincent’s Consigliere. Even with secrets of his own, he’s the only one she can trust when she entangles herself in the middle of the New York mafia crime wars.

Excerpt

“Does it matter if I am doing all right or not?”

“It matters to me.”

Nervous energy itched through my skin.

It mattered to him?

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to stay here,” I said, ignoring his admission. “Any one of those bullets could have hit me by accident and a . . . a young man lost his . . . the three of you murdered him.”

“I never hit him. I never hit any of them. I shot in his direction, but it wasn’t my bullet that killed him.”

“How do you know that?”

“Because I know. I’m trained to know.”

“Well, I don’t care. All I care about is getting out of here. I’ve to get out of here. I’ve got to get away from Vincent and this house and whatever business that he’s involved in.”

I shoved past him and his arms wrapped around my waist. His shoulders towered over mine with an intense strength, and yet, a concerned passion and honesty that left me gasping for breath, He drew me into him. My heart thumped hard. My body trembled in his arms.

“You know you can’t leave.”

“How am I supposed to just pretend that nothing is wrong?”

“You pretend for Frank’s sake. You pretend to keep him alive and to keep you alive.”

Two truths I already knew, and yet, didn’t want to admit to myself. I wanted Vincent to pay for what he’d done to my family. I wanted him to sit in a prison cell behind iron bars like Frank, whose crime wasn’t even one-tenth as horrific as the crime he committed yesterday. I wanted him to squirm as he sat in a courtroom and listened as a judge sentenced him for murder.

Yet, no matter how much I wanted it, I knew the Kingpin, the boss of bosses, the powerful Vincent Giovanni would never see one ounce of punishment.

“I don’t know how I can,” I whispered.

Without any ounce of hesitation, his hands slid up my neck, cradling my cheeks. His body so close to mine, he pressed into me, weakening my knees. His lips brushed against my forehead for a moment, giving me a soft kiss before they traced down the side of my temple. His hot breath warmed my skin.

I closed my eyes and held my breath.

He jerked away from me, shaking his head as though someone had slapped him.

“I’m sorry, Evelyn. I shouldn’t have done that.”

“It’s all right,” I whispered, fighting my disappointment.

Review

When I first agreed to review this book, I thought it was a cozy/mystery. I am going to say not a mystery (and I blame no one but myself for thinking this!) and then as I started reading I thought it was a dystopian book…nope, it is set in the early 1930’s during the depression. It took me awhile to figure this out (and once again no one’s fault but mine as I should have read the synopsis again before starting the book because it clearly gives the time frame!). With all that said, here is what I thought of the book:

Evelyn Ford is a scrappy young woman that is just trying to survive during the depression. She seeks employment at a burlesque theater and steps into a world that is nothing she could ever imagined. You could feel her discomfort being in that theater and putting on a skimpy dress to dance for men…and skimpy in that time frame covers a heck of a lot more than what you would see today. What she doesn’t expect to find in her journey is her true love with Max, and even he turns out to have his own secrets.

There are gangsters involved in this story – because what would prohibition be without hooch smuggling and such?! Evelyn has to summon the strength to stand up to a kingpin and she does a decent job for someone that never has known that world.

Overall this is a very enjoyable story and it took me back to a time that I could only read about or watch in movies. I felt the book was accurate to the time period and what was going on during the depression.

We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Angela lives on a ranch with her husband, two daughters, and many farm animals. She was born and raised in Nevada, and grew up riding and showing horses from hunter jumper, English equitation, western pleasure, trail, and halter. While she doesn’t show anymore, she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky. In December of 2007, she and her husband moved to Oklahoma.

From a young age, she always wanted to write a novel. However, she never believed she could write anything well enough for a publisher to even consider her. Every time the desire flickered, she shoved the thought from my mind until one morning, in 2009, she awoke with the determination to follow her dream.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on May 22, 2017

Dumpster Dying: Book 1 in the Big Lake Murder Mysteries

Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Creekside Publishing (December 31, 2016)

Synopsis

Emily Rhodes came to rural Florida for the cowboys, the cattle, and to do a little country two-step, not to fall head first onto a dead body in a dumpster. Ah, the golden years of retirement in the sunshine state. They’re more like pot metal to Emily, who discovers the body of the county’s wealthiest rancher in the Big Lake Country Club dumpster. With her close friend accused of the murder, Emily sets aside her grief at her life partner’s death to find the real killer. She underestimates the obstacles rural Florida can set up for a winter visitor and runs afoul of a local judge with his own version of justice, hires a lawyer who works out of a retirement home, and flees wild fires hand-in-hand with the man she believes to be the killer.

Excerpt

Emily Rhodes, the new bartender at the Big Lake Country Club, blew damp tendrils of sun-bleached hair out of her face as she kicked and dragged three plastic trash bags across the sunbaked asphalt lot behind the clubhouse. A full moon illuminated the area’s lone palm tree under which sat a metal beast waiting for its nightly feeding.

“Here you go, big boy,” she said. She let go of the bags and, with one hand, lifted the dumpster’s lid on the side closest to her. The usual stench of rotting garbage assaulted her nostrils. She ignored the smell and tried to heave the bag into the container, but it tumbled back out. She shoved back the lid on the other side, and mentally crossed her fingers that she wouldn’t have to hop in there and stomp around on that stuff to make room like she did the other night.

By the glow of the security light she spotted a white object lying at the far end of the dumpster, a cowboy hat, a very special cowboy hat, a Silver Belly, expensive and worn by very few men. She’d encountered just such a man earlier in the evening. The circumstances of their meeting were not pleasant.

What the hell was that doing here, she wondered? Emily leaned in as far as she could. Her feet left the ground, and she teetered on the rim of the dumpster. She struggled to reach the hat, tugged at it and almost went head first into the bin, head first onto the man’s face hidden beneath the hat.

Ugh! She fell back and dropped the metal lid, the clang reverberating off the side of the building in the still night. She covered her mouth with her hand, and leaned against the dumpster. That can’t be. I didn’t see that, did I?

She turned, opened the lid once more, gingerly pushed a garbage bag to one side and peered in for another look. She remembered him from earlier in the evening when he had grabbed her blouse and tried to pull her across the bar. He had worn a brilliant white cowboy shirt with roses appliquéd on the front yoke. Now the shirt front was as dark as the blood-red flowers.

She gulped hard to hold back the bile working its way up from her stomach and looked around the lot. It was empty. She needed help.

She ran for the door of the clubhouse. The knob wouldn’t turn.

Oh, damn. I did it again, left the door on auto lock. Now I can’t get back in. She felt in her pocket for her cell phone, then remembered she had left it along with her keys lying on the bar counter. But she had hidden a spare car key in the wheel well. I’ll have to drive for help, and the sooner the better.

She gripped the steering wheel with sweaty hands and hunched over it, the tension in her neck sending shooting pains up the back of her head. As she turned out of the country club grounds and punched the accelerator, she saw the flashing lights of a police car heading toward her. She sat back in the seat and dropped her shoulders. Oh, good. Help was on its way.

As the cruiser’s lights caught hers, its driver slammed to a halt and did a controlled skid blocking her lane. She stood on her brake, and stopped the car, then jumped out and ran toward the police vehicle. Tears of relief poured down her face and onto her chin.

Two officers with drawn guns greeted her.

“Stop right there, on the ground, hands out,” said the officer who had been driving.

“But officer, there’s a man there. I think he’s dead.”

“On the ground, on the ground.” His voice chilled the hot, still night.

Emily raised her shaking hands and dropped on rubbery knees. This can’t be happening.

The other member of the duo placed his knee in her back, cuffed her, pulled her to her feet, and searched her.

“Why are you doing this to me? I was trying to help. The man back there, someone killed him, I think,” Emily said. The officer walked her to the police car.

“We know all about that. Got a call a few minutes ago, and we’re responding. Now we’d like to find out what you know about it.”

She began to hiccup, her usual reaction when she was frightened. “Me? (hic) Me? I found him (hic) when I took out the garbage. I would have called it in, but I locked myself out of the bar, and I left my cell phone inside.” Her explanation sounded lame even to her ears.

“Sure you weren’t running?” asked Officer Handcuffs.

They shoved her into the back seat and headed toward the clubhouse.

“Sure I was running. I was trying to get help.”

“Looks like you’re the one who needs it,” said the driver. The other officer turned in his seat and looked at her. There was hardness in his eyes that she knew he reserved for the guilty.

“My car. It’s in the middle of the road,” hiccupped Emily. She twisted her head around to look out of the back window. If anything happened to that car, she wouldn’t be able to afford another, and her insurance rates would go sky high. There was little point in telling the officers her financial concerns. They were after a criminal, and they thought they’d found her.

At the clubhouse, the driver shone his high-powered flashlight into the dumpster, confirming their report.

“Shot in the chest. Gotta be dead. Lotta blood.”

She tried to shut out her memory of the body, but the officer’s words brought it back to her in IMAX and Technicolor. It was just the reminder she needed to experience the gory scene yet again.

Review

What an intriguing town in this mystery. I live in Texas and so usually think of the wild west being here and a bit further west, not in a sleepy little town in Florida with alligators.

I liked most of the characters and they played well off one another and really rounded out the story. Emily and Clara have a unique friendship that works for them and their family members really include each other as well. There are of course busy bodies in the town that you think are on your side…until they aren’t. Watch out!

The mystery was well written as I was very surprised near the end when the mastermind behind everything was revealed. I don’t think I was too surprised just because the character was annoying, but I didn’t think they could be involved in everything. There is more than 1 person involved and you know some of them through the story, but not all.

There is a hint of a love story between Emily and Detective Lewis, but that will have to come in future books since Emily is still getting over the death of her life partner.

We give this 4 paws up.

About the Author

Lesley retired from her life as a professor of psychology and reclaimed her country roots by moving to a small cottage in the Butternut River Valley in upstate New York.  In the winter she migrates to old Florida—cowboys, scrub palmetto, and open fields of grazing cattle, a place where spurs still jingle in the post office, and gators make golf a contact sport.  Back north, the shy ghost inhabiting the cottage serves as her literary muse.  When not writing, she gardens, cooks and renovates the 1874 cottage with the help of her husband, two cats and, of course, Fred the ghost, who gives artistic direction to their work.

She is the author of a number of mystery series (Microbrewing Series, Big Lake Mystery Series, Eve Appel Mystery Series and the Laura Murphy Mysteries), a standalone mystery (Angel Sleuth) and numerous short stories.   

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Giveaway

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check out the other blogs on this tour

May 15 – The Ninja Librarian – REVIEW – Book 1, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 15 – My Journey Back My Reading Journeys –  REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW*

May 16 – Dee-Scoveries – SPOTLIGHT

May 17 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW – Both Books, INTERVIEW

May 17 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

May 18 – A Blue Million Books – GUEST POST

May 18 – Book Babble – REVIEW – Both Books

May 19 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

May 19 – Bookworm Café –  GUEST POST

May 20 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW – Book 1

May 20 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – REVIEW – Both Books *

May 21 – Books,Dreams,Life – SPOTLIGHT

May 21 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

May 22 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW – Both Books, CHARACTER GUEST POST

May 22 –StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 1

May 22 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW – Both Books

May 23 – FUONLYKNEW – REVIEW – Both Books*

May 24 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW – Book 2

May 24 – T’s Stuff – REVIEW – Book 1

May 25 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW – Both Books

May 25 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 26 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW –  Both Books*

May 26 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

May 27 – Varietats2010 – REVIEW – Book 2

May 27 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 1, GUEST POST*

May 28 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW Book 2*

May 28 – Cassidy’s Bookshelves – CHARACTER GUEST POST

Posted in coming of age, Spotlight, women on May 21, 2017

THE ADVENTURES OF MISS VULPE

A Coming of Age Story for Adults

by

MARIA ELENA SANDOVICI

 

  Genre: Contemporary / Women’s Fiction / Coming of Age

Date of Publication: April 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

Ana Petrescu (aka Miss Vulpe) is a troubled teenager determined to solve the mystery of her parents’ double suicide. Escaping the scrutiny of her legal guardian and the unwanted interference of several therapists, she starts looking up people from her mother’s past. Her sleuthing requires her to lie about her identity, her age, and her lack of experience with men. While impersonating Miss Vulpe is more fun than going to school, there’s bound to be trouble and heartache when her web of lies unravels.

 

Maria Elena Sandovici lives in Houston with her dog. She travels to Bucharest often and also to Spain, but her favorite trip remains 45 South to Galveston. She has an art studio at Hardy and Nance in the Warehouse District, open the third Saturday of every month, blogs daily at havewatercolorswilltravel.com, and writes poetry in the voice of her dog. She is also the author of three previous novels about women who are struggling with finding their place in the world.

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CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR

5/20 Review Hall Ways Blog
5/20 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
5/21 Sketchbook StoreyBook Reviews
5/22 Review Reading By Moonlight
5/22 Promo My Book Fix Blog
5/23 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
5/24 Review Forgotten Winds
5/24 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
5/25 Review CGB Blog Tours
5/26 Sketchbook Books in the Garden
5/27 Review Bibliotica
5/27 Excerpt The Page Unbound
5/28 Promo Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
5/29 Review Syd Savvy
5/29 Sketchbook Margie’s Must Reads

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Posted in 3 1/2 paws, Giveaway, Review, romance on May 21, 2017

Synopsis

From author Sarah Hegger comes an exciting new series set in small-town Utah, where secrets don’t keep for long—and love turns up in the most unexpected places.

For Pippa Turner there’s only one place to go when her life self-destructs on national TV—home to Ghost Falls, and her heavily perfumed, overly dramatic, but supremely loving grandmother, Philomene. If anyone will understand how Pippa’s hit makeover show was sabotaged by her vengeful ex, it’s Phi. But she’s not the only one who’s happy to see her—and Pippa can’t help but wonder if Matt Evans, her gorgeous high-school crush turned Phi’s contractor, is game for a steamy close-up…

Matt owes his whole career to Phi and her constant demands to embellish the gothically ridiculous house he built for her. Getting to see red-headed, red-hot Pippa is a bonus, especially now that she’s no longer the troublesome teenager he remembers. He’s willing to stay behind the scenes while she gives her own life a much-needed makeover, but not forever. As far as he’s concerned, their connection is too electric to ignore. And the chance to build something lasting between them—before she can high-tail it back to Hollywood—is going to the top of his to-do list.

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Excerpt

“Aren’t you—?”

“No.” Not anymore she wasn’t. Pippa snatched her boarding pass from the check-in attendant and tugged her baseball cap lower over her eyes. Couldn’t Kim Kardashian help a girl out and release another sex tape or something? Anything to get Pippa away from the social media lynch mob. She kept her head down until she found her gate, and chose the seat farthest away from the other passengers waiting to board the flight to Salt Lake City. Latest copy of Vogue blocking her face, she flipped through the glossy pages.

Peeping over the top of her magazine she slammed straight into the narrowed gaze of a woman three rows over. Shit! Pippa dropped the woman’s gaze and went back to Vivienne Westwood bucking the trend.

Across the airport lounge the woman’s glare beamed into the top of her head like those laser tracking things you saw in spy movies. Pippa buckled under the burn and slouched lower into her seat.

Look at that, Fendi was doing fabulous separates this season. And really, Ralph Lauren, that’s your idea of a plus-size model? Stuff like this made her job so much harder.

Her former job.

Losing her show still clawed at her. Losing? Like she’d left the damn thing at Starbucks as she picked up her morning latte. More like her jackass ex with zero conscience had knocked it out of her hand. Framed, stitched up, wrongfully accused—judged, found guilty, and sentenced to a plethora of public loathing wiping out all the years spent building her career. Burning sense of injustice aside, she was stuck in this thing until it went away.

Angry Woman lurked in her peripheral vision. As sweat slid down her sides, Pippa tucked her elbows in tight and risked another glance.

Under an iron-gray row of rigidly permed bangs, the woman’s mouth puckered up.

Back to Vogue. The knot in her stomach twisted tighter, and she checked her cap. What the hell? A baseball cap and shades always worked for other celebrities. Why not her?

Angry Woman squared her shoulders and huffed.

This could go one of two ways. Either Angry Woman would come over and give her a piece of her mind on behalf of women everywhere, or she’d confine her anger to vicious staring and muttering. Maybe some head shaking. Please don’t let her be a crusader for women. Please, please, please. After two weeks of glares, stares and condemnation, Pippa had gotten the message:

Pippa St. Amor, the woman America loves to hate.

Review

What happens when a fallen TV star is kicked off her own show? She slinks back home to a small town where most everyone knows everyone especially her Diva Grandmother.

Pippa has a lot to deal with after she is unjustly kicked off her TV show and despite being wronged by her ex, she can’t get anyone to help back her that she isn’t the witch that was portrayed on television. So she goes back to lick her wounds and of course stays with her Diva grandmother since they are two peas in a pod. There is the run in with Matt, the man of her dreams back in high school…and let’s say they make up for lost time pretty quickly.

This story is more than meets the eye. Pippa has to dig deep to figure out what is important to her…is it her career or will the family she left 17 years ago entice her to stay and reconnect with them. Or what about Matt? He obviously fulfills her sexual needs, but can he fill the rest of her wants and desires in a man? There is a little bit of a mystery when Phi (the Diva grandmother) finds several of her treasures missing. These items are very dear to her as they hold some strong memories. What happened to them might just surprise you….and you won’t find out until near the end of the book.

Overall the story was really enjoyable and well written. My biggest complaint – wayyyyy too many f* bombs in this book. At least half (or more) of them really were not needed and they did not add anything to the story. So if you do not like to read that word, don’t pick up this book. If you can overlook them or don’t mind them, then you will enjoy this book.

We give this 3 1/2 paws

About the Author

Born British and raised in South Africa, Sarah Hegger suffers from an incurable case of wanderlust. Her match? A hot Canadian engineer, whose marriage proposal she accepted six short weeks after they first met. Together they’ve made homes in seven different cities across three different continents (and back again once or twice). If only it made her multilingual, but the best she can manage is idiosyncratic English, fluent Afrikaans, conversant Russian, pigeon Portuguese, even worse Zulu and enough French to get herself into trouble.

Mimicking her globe trotting adventures, Sarah’s career path began as a gainfully employed actress, drifted into public relations, settled a moment in advertising, and eventually took root in the fertile soil of her first love, writing. She also moonlights as a wife and mother.

She currently lives in Colorado with her teenage daughters, two Golden Retrievers and aforementioned husband. Part footloose buccaneer, part quixotic observer of life, Sarah’s restless heart is most content when reading or writing books.

Sarah is the recipient of the 2015 EPIC Award for Historical Romance.

She is represented my Nalini Akolekar of Spencerhill Associates.

 

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Giveaway

One Grand Prize Winner will receive a $150 Gift Card to Ulta + the Pippa’s Favorites Bundle (Planner, Pen and Pouch) and a book, two more winners will receive a $100 and $50 Ulta Beauty Gift Card as well as a book each and 5 winners will get a copy of Positively Pippa!

Gift cards and Bundle are only open to US Residents only, international entrants are eligible to win a Positively Pippa e-book. 


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