Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on April 5, 2017

Title: This Time Around
Author: Tawna Fenske
Pub Date: April 4, 2017
Publisher: Montlake Romance

Synopsis

Allie Ross is not living the life she once dreamed. Her law career ended before it ever started, her parents landed in jail for running a Ponzi scheme, and she just inherited her grandmother’s B&B—which is nice, even if it is full of extra-toed cats. As for her love life…she’d rather not talk about it.

When Jack Carpenter reaches out to reconnect with Allie, the girl who broke his heart in college, his plan is to impress her with the adult he’s become. Sure, he was a deadbeat then, but life has forced him to grow up. And it’s a relief to find out that things didn’t necessarily go the way Allie expected either.

As Allie and Jack get reacquainted, they rediscover the things they loved—and hated—about each other. But who they are now isn’t who they were then, and secrets—old and new—will test whether they have a future together, or if the past is destined to repeat itself.

Exclusive Excerpt

Allie stared at the little girl who held the hand of a tall, handsome man, dimly aware she knew them both, though not quite in this context.

“Jack,” she croaked out, finding her voice at last. “Paige. It’s so good to see you two again. What brings you here?”

“School shopping!” Paige chirped. “Daddy says this is a smart place to buy stuff if you want to dress like a rich snob but not spend stupid amounts of money.”

“Those may not have been my exact words.” Jack stepped closer, looking as surprised to see her as Allie felt seeing him. Which was saying something. He nodded at the cluster of hangers gripped in her hand. “Doing some dress shopping?”

Allie looked down at the froth of dresses looped over her arm, the silky fabrics a little too bright now that she looked at them with Jack standing this close to her. There was no point pretending she was shopping for someone else, so she shrugged like it was no big deal.

“Someone sprung a college reunion on me at the last minute, so I had to find something appropriate to wear.”

“Never figured you’d shop in a place like this.”

“Like what? A high-end boutique thrift shop?”

He shrugged, and Allie wondered if he was baiting her. Trying to make her defensive or to imply how far the mighty had fallen.

Or maybe she was reading too much into it.

“Oh, this one’s pretty!” Paige gripped the hem of one of the dresses Allie held, a fluttery, silk chiffon Vera Wang number with a V-neck and a draped skirt. “It looks like the green part of a peacock feather.”

“It kinda does,” Allie agreed. “That’s the one I like best. I’m crossing my fingers it fits.”

Paige beamed at her. “My favorite color is green, too.”

Allie glanced at the dresses, every one of them a slightly different hue of green. Heat crept into her cheeks, and she could feel Jack’s eyes on her. “Yes, uh—they do all seem to be green, don’t they?”

“A green dress?” The teasing note in Jack’s voice made her look up at him, and she wasn’t surprised to see traces of a smirk on that obnoxiously handsome face.

Allie straightened her spine. “Yes. A green dress.”

He grinned wider. “Is that in honor of our song? The one by the Barenaked Ladies?”

“No, I just—I like this color, that’s all.”

But that wasn’t all. Jack was right. She knew the song well, the one that used to make her laugh each time it got to the part about the green dress. The Barenaked Ladies had sung about the things they’d buy if they had a million dollars, and she and Jack used to sing along with them, twirling through the living room of their too-small apartment. They’d substituted words like textbooks and phone bill in place of items the singer claimed he’d buy for his sweetheart in the event of a financial windfall.

Allie felt the smile starting slow in her belly and spreading across her face. She saw the corners of Jack’s mouth tug, too.

“So,” she said, brushing hair off her forehead. “I didn’t even realize they had kids’ stuff here.”

“I can wear women’s extra-small stuff now,” Paige boasted. “And size-six shoes.”

“Impressive!” Allie smiled at the little girl, who wasn’t actually that little. She came up to Allie’s shoulder, probably four foot seven or eight. Was that above average for a ten-year-old? “You must have inherited your dad’s height.”

The second the words left her mouth, Allie wanted to kick herself. Good Lord, the girl’s mom was dead, and might have been a pro basketball player for all Allie knew.

But Paige just shrugged and looked up at her dad. “Can I go check out the jeans over there?”

“Sure. Looks like the smaller sizes are on this side. Remember what we talked about, okay?”

“I know, I know . . . nothing skintight.”

“Right.”

Paige wandered toward the opposite side of the store, leaving Jack and Allie alone. Allie held the dresses aloft. “I guess I should try these on.”

“You should. For the record, the skintight rule doesn’t apply to you. In fact, I encourage it. The tighter the better.”

Allie rolled her eyes. “You haven’t changed a bit.”

About the Author

Tawna Fenske is a romantic-comedy author who writes humorous fiction, risqué romance, and heartwarming love stories with quirky twists. Her offbeat brand of romance has been praised by Booklist as “a tame Carl Hiaasen on Cupid juice,” and her debut novel, Making Waves, was a nominee for RT Book Reviews’ contemporary romance of the year. She is a fourth-generation Oregonian who can peel a banana with her toes and loses an average of twenty pairs of eyeglasses per year. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband, her stepkids, and a menagerie of ill-behaved pets.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

Giveaway

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Posted in excerpt, nonfiction, Spotlight on April 3, 2017

Synopsis

Do you ever ask yourself, ‘What is my purpose?’

Life’s Equation provides you with a formula to discover your true purpose through uniquely explaining and defining life’s energy and how that energy directly affects one’s actions, reactions and fundamental existence.

Written in the style of a memoir telling an introspective story of vulnerable, heartbreaking, humorous and very relevant experiences, Life’s Equation shares Frank’s unique experiences and relationships he has shared with people he’s met along the way that offered great influence in his life.

Come celebrate your experiences through logically discovering your own true purpose, all while helping make the world a better place in the process. Life’s Equation represents a proven equation toward discovering full potential, accomplishing goals and making true, raw sense of one’s own purpose.

Life’s Equation had me hooked from page one.  With vulnerability and humor, [Frank] shares stories of heartbreak, pain, and confusion, but also redemption, growth, and healing. It’s impossible to read this book and not connect it to your own life and experiences; consider the impacts of the energy you surround yourself with; and examine the untapped power you hold in finding understanding and meaning in your own life. This is a beautiful, digestible, and important read!”

Excerpt

One night after work I decided to take a long drive, something I hadn’t done in six months. After an hour of driving under a star-filled sky I arrived at the beach, got out and sat on a rock and listened to the ocean. I was hoping I would have a moment of clarity that would lead me to the next phase of my life. While I sat there I began to feel a calmness wash over me and I noticed that there was now an object in front of me that appeared to have washed up on shore. Then I realized it was slowly creeping up onto the sand. It was a sea turtle and it worked its way up alongside me as I sat motionless and watched. It began to dig a hole and then it moved over the hole and went into a trance. I was looking directly into one of its eyes and that’s when I realized it was laying eggs. I watched her for a few minutes until another turtle coming out of the water further up the shore distracted me. It was then I realized there were many more all around me all moving on instinct and somehow all acting together.

Many of the people I met flashed into my mind and I could see their faces and hear their words and I could feel them because they were now a part of me. They each had lived a life, experiencing it from a single perspective, and this was my life and I was doing the same. We are all the same. My mind began to flash between two realities, one where I got up tomorrow and continued as I had today and one where I got up and lived guided by my instincts. The flashing between these two thoughts drew them closer together and at the moment they became equally real I changed my perspective and I began to believe I could create my own reality and live my life the way I thought it should be.

The next morning I got out of bed, put all of my belongings on the front lawn of my apartment and had a garage sale. I sold everything I owned for either five dollars or forty dollars and when I was done I had $385, some clothes, a can of disinfectant spray, two blankets and a wrinkled tie. I put it all in my Jeep and decided to take a drive to Colorado to find a mountain of my own to climb before it was too late.

If we continue to do the same thing as we’ve always done, our lives will slowly change allowing us to predict our future. If we choose to implement change in our life we can alter our future making it less predictable while shifting our direction. The more dramatic the change the greater the risk we take. How we perceive change is based on our understanding of the past and we call that perspective. Perspective allows us to have greater understanding of an experience and guides our choices. Having very little and no place to call home may be a difficult experience to some, while to others it is the highlight of their life. Perspective allows us freedom of choice.

About the Author

Frank Daidone is a dynamic author, business leader and speaker.  His heartening talks to audiences of all backgrounds and interests provide invaluable insight on his own experience to help to inspire others. His greatest passion lies within creating a strong foundation for exploring our strengths and passions.

Life’s Equation is an extension of this mission.

Frank is best known for bringing large organizations together, as well as transforming the mundane into something substantive and meaningful. After eight years with Chipotle, Frank left his private sector post to accent an appointment from Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock.  He served as Chief Information Officer for the City and county of Denver and during his governmental tenure, Frank transformed the culture of a public sector organization by running it like a cutting edge start up; empowering the people within to rise to their greatest potential.

Outside of his professional career, Frank devotes much of his time to nonprofit organizations. He has mentored a thirteen-year-old boy from the age of seven through Big Brother’s Big Sisters, supports the Tennyson Center for Children through their mission of supporting at-risk children, and serves as Chief Operations Officer for Nurse-Family Partnership to support the long-term success for first-time moms in poverty, their babies and society. He also is the Executive Chair of the education committee for Colorado Technology Association where he formed two mentorship program through Denver and Aurora Public Schools so that high school students may explore opportunities and interests as they begin their college and career search.

When Frank isn’t out sharing his perspective on the world, his biggest accomplishment is being a proud father two his two daughters. With them and his wife, Frank enjoys traveling and exploring, whether that’s around the world or right at home in Denver.

Visit FrankDaidone.net to purchase Life’s Equation. $1 from each sale benefits United Cerebral Palsy.

Author Website * Twitter  * LinkedIn * Facebook * Goodreads

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Literary, Spotlight on March 28, 2017

Title: BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139
Author: Howard Jay Smith
Publisher: SYQ
Pages: 385
Genre: Literary Fiction/Biographical Fiction

At the moment of his death, Ludwig van Beethoven pleads with Providence to grant him a final wish—one day, just a single day of pure joy. But first he must confront the many failings in his life, so the great composer and exceedingly complex man begins an odyssey into the netherworld of his past life led by a spirit guide who certainly seems to be Napoleon, who died six years before. This ghost of the former emperor, whom the historical Beethoven both revered and despised, struggles to compel the composer to confront the ugliness as well as the beauty and accomplishments of his past.

As Beethoven ultimately faces the realities of his just-ended life, we encounter the women who loved and inspired him. In their own voices, we discover their Beethoven—a lover with whom they savor the profound beauty and passion of his creations. And it’s in the arms of his beloveds that he comes to terms with the meaning of his life and experiences the moment of true joy he has always sought.

Amazon

Excerpt

Prologue:

The Death of Beethoven

Vienna, 5:00 pm, March 26, 1827  

Outside Beethoven’s rooms at the Schwarzspanierhaus, a fresh measure of snow from a late season thunderstorm muffles the chimes of St. Stephens Cathedral as they ring out the hours for the old city.

Ein, Zwei, Drei, Vier… Funf  Uhr.  Five O’clock.

Beethoven, three months past his fifty-sixth birthday, lies in a coma, as he has now for two nights, his body bound by the betrayal of an illness whose only virtue was that it proved incurable and would, thankfully, be his last. Though his chest muscles and his lungs wrestle like giants against the approaching blackness, his breathing is so labored that the death rattle can be heard over the grumblings of the heavens throughout his apartment.

Muss es sein? Must it be? Ja, es muss sein. Beethoven is dying. From on high, the Gods vent their grief at his imminent passing and hurl a spear of lightening at Vienna.

Their jagged bolt of electricity explodes outside the frost covered windows of the Schwarzspanierhaus with a clap of thunder so violent it startles the composer to consciousness.

Beethoven’s eyes open, glassy, unfocused. He looks upward – only the Gods know what he sees, if anything. He raises his right hand, a hand that has graced a thousand sonatas, and clenches his fist for perhaps the last time. His arm trembles as if railing against the heavens. Tears flood his eyes.

His arm falls back to the bed… His eyelids close… And then he is gone …

About the Author

Howard Jay Smith is an award-winning writer from Santa Barbara, California. BEETHOVEN IN LOVE; OPUS 139 is his third book. A former Washington, D.C. Commission for the Arts Fellow, & Bread Loaf Writers Conference Scholar, he taught for many years in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program and has lectured nationally. His short stories, articles and photographs have appeared in the Washington Post, Horizon Magazine, the Journal of the Writers Guild of America, the Ojai Quarterly, and numerous literary and trade publications. While an executive at ABC Television, Embassy TV, and Academy Home Entertainment, he worked on numerous film, television, radio, and commercial projects. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Santa Barbara Symphony – “The Best Small City Symphony in America” –  and is a member of the American Beethoven Society.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, nonfiction, Writing on March 24, 2017

Creating Stories
by Hank Quense

Published by Strange World Publishing

AVAILABLE April 1, 2017

$8.99, 9947 KB, 105 Pages

Genre: Fiction Writing

Synopsis

Do you have a story in you? Do you know how to write it or how to tell it? Well, CREATING STORIES has the answers. In addition, Hank is offering a tour-wide giveaway featuring of five (5) eBooks of CREATING STORIES and three (3) print copies of the author’s MOXIE’S PROBLEM (U.S. entries only). See how you can enter to win below. If you don’t want to wait to win a copy of CREATING STORIES, Hank is offering a special ‘half price’ sale that will only be available during his tour (March 20 through April 14).

Hank, the author of more than twenty books, tells you how to write your story. He believes that stories come from the melding of three elements: getting ideas, story design, and story-telling. Ideas have to come from the author. CREATING STORIES covers the last two.

The book concentrates on developing characters including such rarely discussed requirements such as a dominant reader emotion and the character’s biography.

Plots are also covered in depth and a number of graphics are included to illustrate complex points. Another topic discusses subplots and how to utilize them and how to nest them within the main plot.

A separate chapter discusses the relationship between the plot and the emotional arcs.

Other topics covered are character arcs, scene design, point-of-view, writing voice.

Excerpt

From Chapter 2 of Creating Stories

Setting can do much more than describe the backdrop for the story.  It should convey and define the time period and customs of the characters.  It can set up the reader’s expectations about the type of story he is about to read.  It can start the reader’s image-building process.

Consider your characters acting out the story on a stage.  Behind the characters, instead of the scenery typical with plays, there is nothing but white panels.  The people who paid money to see the play would be dismayed by the lack of scenery, so too your readers will not like it if your story doesn’t have the appropriate setting to back up the characters.

As with the plot and other story development elements, the setting must dovetail with the overall story design.  As an example, a Medieval setting won’t work if the bad guy uses an automatic pistol (unless the bad guy is also a time traveler).  Thus the setting places limits on what the author can do and can’t do, so it’s best if the author has the setting developed before the work gets too far along.

The setting used in your story has to be accurate.  Don’t try to set a story in Manhattan’s Central Park if you haven’t been there.  Likewise, the French Quarter in New Orleans is unique and shouldn’t be used by anyone who hasn’t walked the narrow streets.

Here is an example of what can happen.  I’ve lived and worked all my life around New York City.  The Hudson River is over a mile wide here and the East River is nearly a half-mile wide.  If you haven’t been to Dublin, you may assume the Liffey River, which runs through that city, would be of similar size.  It isn’t.  The Liffey is rather small compared to the rivers around Manhattan.  Making the Liffey a wide river will destroy your credibility with those readers who have seen the Liffey.

On the other hand, if you develop an imaginary location, you can make the city’s river as wide as you want.  Similarly, if you use a backdrop of a historical period in the distant past, none of your readers will have been there, but you’ll still have to do research to get the setting accurate. You can’t use St. Paul’s Cathedral with its great dome in London right after William the Conquerer became king of England.  St Paul’s wasn’t built yet.

The setting of the story should be conveyed early to the reader, the earlier the better.  Ideally, the opening paragraph in a short story or the first few pages in a longer work should give an indication of the type of story the reader is about to encounter.  Is it a mystery set in Victorian London?  Is it a story of survival set in war-torn Iraq?  Are those vicious aliens on their way to Earth?  The reader expects and has a right to know this stuff as early as possible.  Don’t disappoint the reader.  She may put the book down and never open it again.

An effect of establishing the setting is the placing of limitations on the author and the characters.  For the author, a space ship means he shouldn’t have the characters using swords and landline phones since these artifacts are from bygone eras.

Your characters are also limited.  A character in the Old West can’t have knowledge of computers or smart phones, unless he’s a time-traveler.

If you write a story that uses weapons from a different era or knowledge not available at that time, you’d better have a good reason why it makes sense.  You don’t have to convince yourself, you have to convince the reader.

~ ~ ~

If you have any questions or comments on this material, leave a note and I’ll respond.

About the Author

Hank Quense writes humorous and satiric sci-fi and fantasy stories.

He also writes and lectures about fiction writing and self-publishing. He has published 19 books and 50 short stories along with dozens of articles. He often lectures on fiction writing and publishing and has a series of guides covering the basics on each subject. He is currently working on a third Moxie novel that takes place in the Camelot era.

He and his wife, Pat, usually vacation in another galaxy or parallel universe. They also time travel occasionally when Hank is searching for new story ideas.

Amazon Author Page * Website * Twitter

You can check out the schedule and follow Hank’s tour by clicking HERE.

Giveaway

 

This tour-wide giveaway is for five (5) eBooks of CREATING STORIES and three (3) print copies of the author’s MOXIE’S PROBLEM (U.S. entries only). The prizes are courtesy of the publisher. The giveaway will end at 12 a.m. (EST) on Tuesday, April 18.
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Posted in Christian, excerpt, Giveaway on March 21, 2017

Author Maria Santomasso-Hyde is visiting today as part of her HE GAVE ME BARN CATS Blog Tour with MC Book Tours. Her book is scheduled to be released March 14 by Dancing Lemur Press.

If you’re looking for a story that will touch your heart, you’ve found it in this tender story of love, loss, and inspiration. You could win your own copy, just check out the giveaway details.

Title: He Gave Me Barn  Cats
Author: Maria Santomass0-Hyde
Published by Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C.
Available March 14, 2017
Genres: Christian Fiction / Christian Life-Death, Grief, Bereavement

Synopsis

Inspired by true events…

        Maria has cared for her very ill mother for many years. Her burdens are heavy, causing a sadness bordering on darkness.  When she discovers her historic barn is now home to a mother cat and kittens, she feels lighter than she has in years. As the kittens grow, they teach her as only animals can do.

Then tragedy strikes. As Maria loses her family, the darkness envelopes her like the heavy fog that blankets her Blue Ridge Mountain home each morning. She creates a scorecard:  God: 9, Maria: 0.  Her questions turn into anger at God.  She searches to find answers as to why her loving God would take away so much in such a short time.

How will she learn to trust again? Can the kittens in her barn help her heal?

HE GAVE ME BARN CATS is available in print format at following sites: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Books A Million, Everything Cats, Foyles, and Chapters-Indigo.

HE GAVE ME BARN CATS is available in eBook format at the following sites: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, and Amazon.

 

Excerpt

Chapter 4

Charlotte, 5-25-09

I have my back to them, but I know that smell―dog breath, hot and moist and odorous. It smells like death. I used to live with a family with a big dog, but when I got pregnant again, they took me to this barn―and they left me. I couldn’t believe they left me here all alone, and I couldn’t believe they chose the dumb dog over me. But who knows if the dog is still with them or not. They were having trouble feeding their children because the man had lost his job. They couldn’t have me bringing them more mouths to feed.

From my experience with dogs, I know to be still. If you run, a dog thinks it’s a game of chase. Of course, I can’t run now, because I’ve got these three kittens nursing on me. And it’s making me so weak. I really do think I might die.

It’s really perverse. All of this nutritious milk is coming out of me, and yet, I’m starving. The three kittens have full bellies and are healthy and quite beautiful, in my totally unbiased opinion. We’re lying in the one sunny spot in the old barn, and their fur glistens in the warm light. Not me. My coat is dull, lifeless, itchy, and bald in one spot. I really need to get away from these kittens and hunt for a small rodent to eat. The kittens can fend for themselves for a bit. They need to learn how to care for themselves anyway.

About the Author

Formerly a newspaper reporter, Maria Santomasso-Hyde now owns Alta Vista Fine Art Gallery.

She lives in Valle Crucis, North Carolina, with her husband, Lee, and The Queen of the Universe (Roma, their Black Cat) … and other Black Cats who decide to move in.

Giveaway

Tour-wide giveaway for two (2) print copies (U.S only) and two (2) eBooks (international).

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Come join the blog tour and learn more about Maria and HE GAVE ME BARN CATS by visiting the following blogs

March 7 – Joylene Nowell Butler, Suspense Author – Feature

March 8 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – Guest Post

March 9 – Mello & June, It’s a Book Thang! – Feature

March 10 – Defending The Pen – Excerpt

March 13 – Reviews by Crystal – Q&A
Alex J. Cavanaugh – Guest Post

March 14 – Thoughts in Progress – Review

March 15 –

March 16 – A Bluestocking’s Place – Excerpt
deal sharing aunt – Review

March 17 – Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit – Q&A

March 20 – Reviews From the Heart – Review
The Story of a Writer – Feature
CBY Book Club – Excerpt

March 21 – bookworm1102 – Excerpt
StoreyBook Reviews – Excerpt
Celticlady’s Reviews – Feature

 

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Romantic Suspense on March 19, 2017

 

Synopsis

I’m a wanted jewel thief.

He’s FBI.

What’s that saying? Keep your friends close…and your husband closer.

Being married to a federal agent certainly has its perks.

  1. I just love the way that man looks in a suit.
  2. This way I always know what the enemy is up to.

Spending my days lifting jewels and my nights tracking the Bureau should have been a genius plan. But the closer I get to Grant Emerson, the more dangerous this feels. With two million dollars’ worth of diamonds on the line, I can’t afford to fall for my own husband.

It turns out that the only thing worse than having a mortal enemy is being married to one. Because in our game of theft and seduction, only one of us will come out on top.

Good thing a cat burglar always lands on her feet.

A sexy, fun, cat-and-mouse chase that hooked me from page one!”  —JENNIFER PROBST, New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author of The Marriage Bargain

 

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Excerpt

“You have good taste in friends, I’ll give you that,” Grant said as soon as they moved out of earshot. “I like her.”

So did I. “I hope your partner can be trusted with her. He seems…” By the book? Straitlaced?

Unpleasant? “Serious.”

Grant twisted his head to look at me. “He is serious. But he’s also been my partner for a long time. I can safely promise you that no harm will come to her through his hands.”

Much as I hated to admit it, I would have to trust this man enough to take him at his word. Of course, that didn’t mean I failed to notice that he fully reserved the right to cause harm through his own hands. I wasn’t stupid.

I smiled to show my blessing. Grant smiled back to accept my blessing. And that was that.

“Excellent,” he said and turned his attention to the bar. “I’ll have what the lady’s having. And get her another.”

“Make mine a double this time, bartender.”

The bartender winked at me and carefully poured out two glasses of tonic water. Grant took his in hand with an almost perplexed look on his face.

“Sorry to ruin your big moment,” I said. “But I don’t drink.”

“Ever?”

“Not since I was about eighteen years old.” I shrugged an apology and set to work squeezing my lemon. It behooved me to tread lightly moving forward—especially regarding my tales of the past—but if I wanted to get answers out of this man, I would have to open up enough to keep him interested. Give and take, push and pull. Nothing in this world was free. “I drank a lot of malt liquor and bottom-shelf vodka when I was young—and I mean a lot.”

“Fake ID?”

“Five-fingered discount.”

Grant’s eyes flashed in an expression of interest, the same way they always did when I surprised him with the truth. “Ah, youthful dissipation. I know it well.”

Somehow, I very much doubted that. “Oh, yeah? You hit up a lot of liquor stores when you were a kid, Agent Emerson?”

He laughed and loosened the knot of his tie, just like every other lackey in the place. Unlike everyone else, however, there was a sensuality about the action, a man allowing himself to come undone at just the throat. A flash of that vulnerable spot, taut with muscles and sprinkled with hair, was all that he released to me.

Oh, dear God. It was enough.

“I wasn’t always an officer and a gentleman. I had my fair share of youthful shenanigans.”

“If you called them shenanigans, I promise you had no such thing.”

This time, his laugh was a rumble, that force of nature not even his massive strength could hold back. “You’re a fascinating woman, you know that? The stories I bet you could tell…” He had no freaking idea.

Or maybe he did.

“You’re probably wondering what I’m doing here.” I changed the subject with a smile, fishing around in my bag. My fingers sought the peace offering I’d brought with me. “I came to apologize for storming out on you the other day, and to give you this.”

“This?”

I handed over a carefully wrapped box the size of his palm. “I’ve got a few connections. It’s probably better if you don’t ask.”

His face revealed absolutely nothing as he took the gift in hand, but I could tell he was surprised. Three times I’d encountered this man, and I was already beginning to figure him out. His laughter was genuine, his smile devastating, his sense of humor perfectly intact. He was also phenomenally good at hiding any emotion other than that. Amusement and interest were allowed to run free, but the rest of it—the suspicion and the alarm, the fact that he genuinely thought I just handed him a stolen piece of jewelry or drugs in the middle of a federal agent’s bar—was quashed before it had a chance to surface.

He was good. He was very, very good.

But I was better.

About the Author

Tamara Morgan is a contemporary romance author of humorous, heartfelt stories with flawed heroes and heroines designed to get your hackles up and make your heart melt. Her long-lived affinity for romance novels survived a B.A. degree in English Literature, after which time she discovered it was much more fun to create stories than analyze the life out of them.j

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Spotlight on March 18, 2017

Synopsis

900 years ago, Dogane fell at the hands of Ubinion and Ramas. That day, the people rejoiced to the heavens, which had finally removed its dark veil and given them the warmth they deserved for so long. Since then, nearly everyone had forgotten the power that almost tore Agrathias apart.

But Ubinion and Ramas had always warned of the corruption they were never able to completely rid the world of. A corruption that now allows one sorcerer the chance to rule Agrathias…forever…

Excerpt

Pivincy didn’t move.  He wasn’t going to.  This town had been his life, and this town was one he’d sworn to protect when he took the sacred oath linking his fate to Terrifor’s.  And he would fulfill the oath today.

He withdrew from his lap a heavy, black sphere.  He cupped it in his hands and pressed on it tightly.  Black and white fog swirled within, and a slight hissing sound was heard.

Give the people one last chance at a better position.

He thought of all the people he’d met in his life.  He held onto each of their smiles as he thrust the sphere down.  A shriek sliced the air, one that went high and low, and this noise would drive the Arcams even crazier than they already were.

It didn’t take long for the stream of black to flow through the town and pound up against the gates to the manor house.  Arcams used themselves as rams as flesh met iron, and Pivincy accepted a fact before it even happened: the gates wouldn’t hold out.

He stood up and placed his sword out in front of him.  He remembered the first time he held it in his hands: his first battle over two decades ago.  A tear and a chuckle came to him as he remembered in that battle Lynn’s wide eyes as she struck the Arcam Pivincy failed to see rushing at him.  He hoped she was still alive somewhere in this town, and if she wasn’t, that she’d been able to die with friends rather than alone like him.

As the gate buckled in and crashed to the side, Pivincy drew in his last, long breath.  He was going to miss Terrifor; he was going to miss this life.  But before he died, by everything on this Earth, he was going to show what defending a home really looked like.

About the Author

I’m a graduate of The University of Notre Dame with a BA in Chemical Engineering.  I just really like writing on the side.  This book was started in middle school, and it was interesting seeing how the writing style and plot changed as I got older (although I made sure to keep the general story the same since that’s what I wanted in the first place).  I’m currently writing my second book, but now I’m just trying to get this first book out for anyone to read.

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, Review, romance on March 17, 2017

Title: A Way Back into Love

Author: Veronica Thatcher

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Notion Press

Synopsis

Nothing is perfect. Life is messy. Relationships are complex. Outcomes, uncertain. People, irrational. But love…well, that makes everything complicated. And when you are caught in a tangled web of secrets, lies, and complex affairs, someone is bound to get burned.

Emily Stevens is a spunky, spirited college girl whose life gets turned upside-down when she realizes she’s in love with her best friend of fifteen years, Derek Thorpe. As Emily prepares to confess her feelings to Derek, something happens one night which changes her life forever. Five years later, Emily finds herself in Boston, alone and heartbroken. Will she ever be able to forget the past? And what will she find when she returns home…to the man she left behind?

Excerpt

Emily stepped back from him and shook her head. “Oh, you know damn well what I mean. You know what, Derek? I’m done having this conversation with you. I’m so done with this conversation and I’m so done with you,” Emily spat out angrily before brushing past him.

“Emily, wait,” Derek said, catching her by her arm. “Where are you going?”

Emily spun around and gave him a bitter look before looking down at his hand gripping her arm. “Leave my arm,” she said in a low yet threatening voice, “And why do you care where I’m going? It’s none of your business.”

Derek didn’t leave her arm in spite of her warning and said, “Em, you’ve had too many drinks. You can’t drive in this condition. I’ll drop you home.”

Emily jerked her arm free from his grasp and replied in a bitter voice, “Thank you, but no. I’m perfectly capable of getting myself home on my own. I don’t need you to drop me home. Do you get it, Derek Thorpe? I DON’T NEED YOU!” Emily yelled the last words, causing a few people to look their way.

Review

Best friends that fall in love with each other – sounds like a winner of a story line to me. And for the most part this book was very enjoyable. Emily and Derek have their issues and misunderstandings, but they have been best friends since the age of 6. It is hard to let something totally go after all those years, even if they fall in love with each other but do not want to admit and then Emily runs away to finish college and med school before returning to Fresno. I enjoyed their interactions, even the ones where they were hard for the characters to address (feelings for each other, situations, etc).

Emily has a sister, Emma (and by the way, it was hard to keep them straight at first because the names were so similar starting with Em) who is quite the brat. To top it off, while Emily has run off to Boston to escape an incident with Derek, Emma has wormed her way into his life and they are now engaged. Talk about awkward! Especially since Emily and Derek manage to somewhat clear the air and return to being friends. He wants to spend most of his time with Emily (when not at work) and this rubs Emma the wrong way. I don’t blame her for being mad at him, if I was engaged to someone and he wanted to spend all his free time with another woman…well things would not be pretty!

And then there is Emily’s mother – she has her own issues we learn about near the end of the book but you wonder if she loves Emily or not.

I did have a few problems with some inconsistencies. I did read an ARC so I hope the issues are cleared up before the final book. I also wasn’t wild about the author putting “Flashback” and then “End Flashback” for most of those scenes (there were some that didn’t notate that but because the text was italicized you knew it was a flashback). If you italicize you don’t need to put those words. I never could figure out if Emily was renting an apartment or purchasing a condo. In the US, you don’t normally purchase an apartment, they are rented. But in that chapter it was hard to really know what was going on. Also, when Emily runs into Derek’s sister, Jenny, the word “met/meet” was used and they knew each other. There were probably some other little things, but as I read an ARC I am hoping it was all corrected before the final release.

Overall I did enjoy the plot of the book and the characters. I think their story was one that could have happened to anyone.  We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

Veronica Thatcher is an exciting new contemporary romance author. Ever since she was very young, she’s dreamed of becoming a doctor when she grew up. While still forging ahead with that, majoring in pre-med in college, she unwittingly stumbled upon a new dream—becoming a published author. Some may call her an introvert or a wallflower, but she has always found she could express herself better in written, rather than spoken, words. However, never in her wildest dreams had she envisioned she would pursue writing as a prospective career, not just a hobby. Her love for writing goes hand-in-hand with her love for a good romance novel—whether it be a feel-good, sweet romance or a dark, suspenseful one. When she’s not studying, reading, or writing, she is usually found blasting her favourite songs, sometimes singing and dancing along to them.  She dabbles in a number of activities, including painting, karate, singing and dancing. She is a huge chocoholic – probably the biggest – and she is an ice-cream junkie too. She considers herself technologically handicapped forever and has no shame in admitting that. She also deems chocolates her boyfriend, Patrick Dempsey the love of her life, and Friends her life!

Her first book, A Way Back Into Love, is slated for release in February 2017, and she hopes readers will enjoy it as much as she enjoyed writing it.

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Posted in coming of age, excerpt, Literary, Spotlight on March 17, 2017

Synopsis

All families have secrets. Most go untold…

In the summer of  ‘96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of 18, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies.

Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

The Origins of Benjamin Hackett is a tender tale of heartache and displacement told through a wry and courageous voice. Set in Ireland, it’s a timely reminder that the world hasn’t moved on just as fast as we fancy. Now, in this emotionally charged story, Gerald M. O’Connor explores conditioned guilt and its consequences in a country still hiding from the sins of its past.

Excerpt

Life was lived in the quiet moments; all the rest was pure bluster. I was paraphrasing of course. I hadn’t the foggiest who’d said those words, or whether they were ever uttered out of the mouth of anyone at all, and if by happenstance they had it probably was more succinct. But the thought cropped up in my head then, watching my dad visibly stutter less than the width of a jab away from me.

“There’s no way in hell I’m adopted,” I said.

“You are a bit.”

“You can’t be a bit adopted.”

Dad seemed to consider this for a moment, before shrugging and smiling wanly. “No…I suppose you can’t.”

“This is a pile of unadulterated nonsense. You’re both having a laugh, right? Some twisted revenge for me not applying to college?”

Dad reached inside his shirt pocket, pulled out a manila envelope and laid it on the table. “This,” he said, tapping it twice with his index finger, “contains your adoption certificate. We decided to keep calling you by your birth name, Benjamin. Seemed the correct thing to do at the time.”

“Did it?”

He held up his hand to hush me. “It’s the original document we received the day Father Brogan brought you here and made it all official.” He slid it over to me. “It’s yours now.”

I picked up the envelope and tore it open, unfurling the paper inside and laying it flat on the table. My eyes skimmed over the document, flitting from word to word—adoption, adoptees, dates, signatures and the official diocesan insignia on the envelope. They were all there, all the bureaucratic paraphernalia of the state and church.

I held his stare, neither of us flinching. “Am I really adopted?”

“Yes.”

My throat turned to dust. Call it the formality of the letter, or the way the word cut short on his breath. I thought of Mam’s delicate frame and barley-blonde hair. We looked nothing alike. But Dad? He was meant to be the exception. We both towered over her. We both had lanky frames. Hell, we even shared that same terrible torture of walking on long, flat feet that no shoe, no matter the cut or cobbler, could fit comfortably.

Reams of memories of years gone by played on a loop in my head. “Sure, isn’t Benjamin the spit of his old man,” they’d said. “Dug from the same field, no doubt about it. Oh, he’s a Hackett all right, this fella.” And my parents had lapped it up. Like the time in Hay Street, in the bustle of market day, when they nodded in tacit agreement at some hunched-over old coot as she tousled my hair and told them how my curls were the carbon copy of Dad’s.

“But we look alike?” I said.

“Do we?”

“You know we do.”

He leaned in closer, dropped his voice to a whisper. “Truth is, we’ve been secretly dying your hair since you arrived. You’re actually ginger.”

I shoved the table into him and threw my hands up. “Jokes? You think now is the time for messing about? For having a bit of a laugh?”

“Sorry, sorry,” he said, showing his palms in surrender. “It just snuck out…but seriously, you’re not going to make a big deal of this, are you?”

“And why shouldn’t I?”

“Because it’s not what Hackett men do.”

“Well, I’m clearly not one of them, now am I?”

My comment flushed crimson high in his cheeks. He balled his hands twice and relaxed them flat on the table. “You’ve been long enough on the farm,” he said, quieter now. “Long enough to know that animals of all sorts adopt strays and nurture them as their own. And there’s not a blind bit of difference in them when they mature. Attitude is more in the rearing than the genes. You’re my son and a Hackett. Adopted or not.”

“So you’re calling me a stray animal now? Christ, Dad, you’re some piece of work.”

Copyright © 2017 by Gerald M. O’Connor.

Reprinted with permission of Down & Out Books.

About the Author

GERALD M. O’CONNOR is a native Corkonian, currently living in Dublin with his long-term partner, Rosemarie, along with their three children. He writes character-driven novels of various genres by night and is a dentist by day. When he isn’t glued to the keyboard, he enjoys sci-fi films, spending time with his family and being anywhere in sight of the sea. He is currently working on his second novel, The Tanist.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on March 14, 2017

Title: Claiming Grace

Author: Susan Stoker

Release Date: March 14, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

For Logan Anderson, moving on from a traumatic past means moving back to his hometown of Castle Rock, Colorado, to start a personal-security business with his brothers. But it’s not long before Logan runs into Grace Mason, his best friend from high school…and the woman who never answered his letters during his Army years.

Grace was pleasantly surprised to see Logan return to Castle Rock, despite their falling-out ten years ago. Everyone always assumed they would end up together, including Grace, who had eyes only for him. But as Logan eventually escaped their town, Grace got pulled further into her family’s controlling grasp—and farther away from the man she loved.

Now, united by scars both visible and not, the two must fight to free Grace from the suffocating hold of her family. But the Masons won’t let go easily—and they’ll do whatever it takes to keep the couple apart.

Exclusive Excerpt

Logan left the office of Ace Security and headed for his motorcycle. He didn’t drive it often, but it was a beautiful day and he needed the ride.

He saw Grace and Felicity eating lunch at the sub shop before he’d gone into the office. Grace had been laughing at something her friend had said. Her head was back and she looked more carefree than he’d seen her since he’d been back in town.

Logan thought back to the Grace he used to know. She had been friendly, happy, and would drop everything to talk to him when he needed her. She’d listened to him bitch about his mother for hours. When she noticed he had a black eye, she’d brought him a bag of ice from the nurse’s office, with no questions asked.

He knew about her dreams of working in marketing for a big firm and how she wanted to travel. They’d discussed what the ocean would look like, and how the sand would feel under their feet more than once. Back then, Logan could see her hopes and dreams in her eyes and had no doubts she’d accomplish each and every one.

He’d been flummoxed when he’d moved back to Castle Rock a few months ago and had run into her for the first time. They’d been in the grocery store and he’d run his cart right into hers as he’d gone around the corner of an aisle. She’d looked up at him as if she wanted to say something, but after seeing it was him, merely bit her lip and turned in the other direction.

It wasn’t the direct snub that had concerned Logan; it had been the look in her eyes. The Grace he’d known in high school was gone. There were no stars in her eyes anymore. No dreams. It was as if he’d run into a robot. There was no welcoming smile on her lips, only a blank stare. Logan had opened his mouth to say something, he wasn’t sure what, but Grace disappeared down another aisle.

Every morning he watched as she came out of the coffee shop across from Rock Hard Gym and headed to work. As a security expert, he hated that her routine never varied, but as a man who’d once thought they might end up together, he loathed the fact that it seemed as if she wasn’t living her life, was merely going through the motions.

And while she might be able to fool those around her, she couldn’t fool him. Even though she’d ripped his heart out, he still cared about her. Way too much. He’d thought he was over her, but the second he’d seen her, the attraction came back with a vengeance.

Grace was as put together as she always had been in high school. Her shirts looked tailored and professional, she wore small heels that showcased the muscles in her calves that were exposed in the knee-length skirts she always wore. Her light brown hair was pulled back into its customary bun at the back of her neck, which made Logan want to unravel it and wrap it around his hand as he kissed her. She’d always been curvy, but she’d grown into her body over the years, her hips full, her ass swaying as she walked down the street.

But it wasn’t only her looks that interested Logan. He’d been watching her from a distance for the few months he’d been back. She was considerate to just about everyone she met, stopping to talk to an old homeless man who was sitting outside the coffee shop one morning, even giving him her coffee. One morning, Grace even entertained a stressed-out woman’s toddler while the woman searched her purse for her wallet.

Grace was reserved and quiet, but just as he remembered from spending so much time with her in high school, she genuinely cared about those around her. It was that trait that still tugged at him today.

He might’ve been able to blow her off if it wasn’t for the fact that Felicity and Cole thought the world of her. Logan knew they were both hard to impress. Cole hadn’t stopped trying to pry into what had happened between them, and Felicity wasn’t much better.

But seeing Grace smiling and laughing with Felicity was a blow. Apparently she wasn’t as dead inside as he’d thought. But it wasn’t Logan who brought that joy out in her anymore. That hurt. More than he was willing to admit.

Logan mentally shrugged and grabbed the helmet off the handlebars of his Harley. He knew he would have it out with Grace at some point. He had to. If he wanted to move on with his life, or if they were even going to live in the same town together, he needed answers. But he wouldn’t rush it. Eventually they’d get their chance.

About the Author

Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, and Delta Force Heroes. Married to a retired Army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado—and currently lives under the big skies of Texas. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love.

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