Posted in 5 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Novella, romance on May 28, 2014

Immersed tourImmersed NewImmersed by Jennifer Griffith

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.

But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest.

Until… Erik.

Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she’d never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.

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Excerpt

Erik Gunnarson was unbelievable. Her mouth went dry when she saw him. Lisette hadn’t seen anything this good in months. Years. Maybe ever. At least not in person. Sure, in movies, when men were all filter-lit and filmed from just the right angle, they might have looked this good, but not in person.

Suddenly the room was far too hot for this stupid fuzzy pumpkin sweater with the shoulder pads. And this wig? She felt like a blooming fool in it.

“Hello. I’m Lisette Pannebaker.” She extended her hand, but immediately saw it tremble. His olive skin. Those dark brown waves in his thick hair. She could feel her voice quavering. Tiny beads of perspiration formed on her upper lip, and she touched the side of her eye, then her neck.

He looked up at her, looked puzzled a moment, and then gave her a crooked smile before standing to shake her hand. When he touched it, the trembling went into high gear, like she’d received an electric shock. Did he feel it too?

“Ah, you are speak the English now. I see.” His voice was like…butter. He cleared his throat and said, “I am please to meet you. My name is Erik Gunnarson.”

The accent came heavy, and the lilt was definitely Scandinavian. She’d lived in Norway, traveled all the Scandinavian countries. Was he Danish? He looked Danish. Lots of Danes she’d met had darker hair. Like Erik’s.

With effort she remembered to speak to him. “Where do you come from, Mr. Gunnarson?”

He squinted and shook his head, a sign she’d seen a thousand times before in these meetings, so she asked it more slowly.

“I come from Reykjavik. No.” He puzzled a moment and then continued. “A village…near…Reykjavik.”

Oh, Iceland. She wanted to ask him all about his life there, his upbringing, his family, his plans for a family of his own, and could she please be the mother of his children?

Get a hold of yourself, Lisette. She nearly slapped herself. This had to be professional. What a crying shame, too. He had such a nice crooked grin. And those upper arms. While most clients wore stinky sport coats over golf shirts or boring business suits and ties, Erik Gunnarson wore a plain grey Henley shirt—and looked like he’d just been at Henley itself, pulling the oars in the Thames. Those triceps. Who did he think he was? Thor?

 

Review

The last novella in the Ripple Effect series. What an interesting story! Lisette is beautiful and has to have a make-under to get male clients to stop hitting on her and take her seriously as a Linguist. Sam/Rose from book 5 is the one that gives her the makeover to be less attractive. Then she meets Erik who wants her to help him with his English and she is drawn to him for some unknown reason. You might figure out why as the story progresses but am not saying too much because that would give it away! There is a nasty character, Mort, that needs someone to take him down. He is very slimy, but thankfully he is mostly spoken about and rarely “seen”.

In a small way I was disappointed that the tie in this book to the previous book was very miniscule. Usually in the previous books, a minor character was the focus of the next book but not in this book. The story was still very enjoyable and worth the read.  We give this book 5 paws up!

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jennifer griffithAuthor Jennifer Griffith

Jennifer Griffith studied French, German, Japanese, and a wee bit of Spanish in her school days. Her grandmother was Norwegian, and Jennifer grew up with lots of Scandinavian traditions floating around, including fabulous cardamom laced cookies called Krumkaker, made on a fancy waffle iron. However, she’d never dream of trying to teach someone any of those languages. And she might botch the cookies. Instead, she writes novels in English, drives her five kids a million places, and laughs with her husband, who came up with the plot for Immersed because he’s just a cool muse like that.

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 6/9/14
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Giveaway, Review, romance on May 27, 2014

Missing Lily Tour

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missing lily

Missing Lily

“You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house.

He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night.

Lylin was not used to being alone—much less alone, hurt, and lost. So when she is separated from her guard and forced to abandon her horse, she counts herself lucky to stumble upon a manor house. Still frightened by those who chased her into the night, she keeps her identity a secret, calling herself Lily as she accepts the help of kind servants, and the compassion of Lord Fallon. When they fall into an easy friendship, she wonders if her secrecy was too hasty. However, as she gets to know the manor and its residents, Lylin discovers that she’s not the only one hiding secrets, and it may be a very good thing that her host doesn’t know her true identity as a member of the royal family.

Excerpt

I found a cloak in the wardrobe and put it on, then quietly unlatched the door, hoping to leave without anyone’s notice.

Rhys sat on the floor, leaning against the wall opposite my door, sleeping. It broke my heart to see him there, obviously waiting for me to come out. But with any luck, he wouldn’t discover my departure until later. I slipped through the door and crept past him, trying to keep my breath quiet even with my nerves jumping every which way. I reached the top of the stairs before his voice stopped me.

“Where are you going?”

I looked back. His head still rested against the wall, but his eyes were fixed on me.

I faced the stairs again, contemplating running down them. I cleared my throat. “I’m just going for a walk outside to clear my head.” My foot stepped down.

“The sun is down.” Confusion infused his voice as he stood to follow.

My pace increased. “I won’t be gone long.”

He grabbed my arm, stopping me. “What has you so upset?”

I tried to hold his gaze He hated me, even if he didn’t know it. “I’m just…worried.”

“That’s not it.” How could he know such a thing? “There’s something else.”

I tried to invent a lie, but my thoughts wouldn’t cooperate. He moved closer to me, making my neck grow hot. I swallowed, desperately searching for something to say, or even something to focus on besides the warmth spreading through me. I ignored it. I didn’t know this man, he may very well be a traitor, a conspirator. But all I could feel was his proximity.

“Won’t you tell me?” he pled. I made myself look at him and his eyes delved into mine, searching for any clue to explain my behavior.

I closed my eyes, whispering, “I can’t.”

“Please?”

I opened my eyes at his pleading tone, then opened my mouth, trying to say something. His eyes locked on my parted lips and I stopped trying to talk. He lowered his head, glancing at my eyes before refocusing on my mouth and moving closer. He was going to kiss me. Half of me wanted it, desperately. The other half was terrified. It was all wrong. This was wrong. He was wrong.

I turned my face away and he froze.

“You don’t know who I am,” I whispered. He didn’t move—either away from me, or closer—and after an interminable moment, I stepped back and hurried out of the house.

He didn’t follow me as I fled into the night.

 

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Review

I really enjoyed this book as it showcases Lylin (Lily) one of the 7 daughters of the royal family. Lily meets Lord Rhys Fallon under difficult circumstances and manages to fall for him in a short period of time. He doesn’t know who she really is and is betrothed to another, someone he hasn’t ever met.

The author writes a beautiful story and I am hoping she writes more books about this family and features more of the sisters. Sure several of them are already married but I bet there would be interesting stories to tell!

We give this book 4 paws up and if you haven’t read Just Ella you should, it is good too!

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AnnetteAuthor Annette K. Larsen

I was born in Utah, part of a crazy, fun family of nine. I grew up in Flagstaff, AZ and St. Louis, MO before striking out on my own college adventure in Virginia. I decided to try my hand at writing novels after I was married and living in Idaho. I write clean romance because it’s my favorite genre, but often difficult to find.

I have Charlotte Brontë to thank for the courage to write novels. After being bombarded with assigned reading about women who justified abandoning either their families or their principles in the name of love, I had the great fortune of reading Jane Eyre. And that was it: finally, a heroine who understood that being moral and making the right choice was hard, and sometimes it hurt, but it was still worth it. After rereading it several years later, I realized that if I wanted more books to exist with the kinds of heroines I admired, then I might as well write a few myself. My books are about women who face hard choices, who face pain and rejection and often have to face the reality of sacrificing what they want for what is right. The consequences are often difficult or unpleasant, but in the end, doing what’s right will always be worth it.

I believe there is no substitute for good writing or good chocolate. Fortunately, one often leads to the other.


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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/15/14

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

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, Giveaway, Young Adult on May 25, 2014

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A if for Abstinence by Kelly Oram

Six-time Grammy Award wining musician Kyle Hamilton has it all—money, fame, talent, good looks, and a job he loves. His only regret in life: walking away from a certain notorious virgin because he was too prideful, stubborn, and even afraid to give her the only thing she asked of him—his abstinence.

Four years and a broken heart later, Kyle realizes that sex isn’t everything, and he suddenly can’t stop thinking about the girl that got away. Virgin Val Jensen got under is skin like no one else ever has. He wasn’t ready for her then, but things are different now. He’s grown up, he’s learned a few things, and he’s finally figured out exactly what he wants, or, rather, who he wants.

Kyle Hamilton wants a do-over, and this time he’s willing to do—or not do—whatever it takes.

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Excerpt

I’d never seen Val so upset before. I’d flustered her on a regular basis back in the day. I’d always pushed her to her limits on purpose, trying to get her strong façade to crack and she never once had. She was the strongest person I’d ever met. It said something about her emotional state of mind that she’d asked for a few moments to collect herself before having to do the signing with me.

I knew she probably wanted these few minutes alone, but I couldn’t pull myself away. I couldn’t leave her like this. I cleared my throat to gain her attention, and she jumped at the intrusion. She whirled around, hastily wiping away a tear or two as she forced her emotions down and reverted back into the calm, controlled woman I’d seen onstage.

She opened her mouth as if to explain herself but shut it again, realizing that there was no hiding what I’d just witnessed. Instead she decided to ignore it. “Kyle Hamilton.” It was a warm greeting and a sigh at the same time.

Her smile was sincere, and her eyes held genuine pleasure, but there was a wariness about her that made me afraid to approach her. We stared at each other in silence, both cataloging the changes four years had brought. I wasn’t sure what to do or how to break the silence between us, so Val took the initiative. “I didn’t think I’d ever see you again,” she said with a small shake of her head.

“Me, either.” I finally broke from my stupor and managed a small smile. “Hug for an old friend?”

I held out my arms, still not taking any steps further into the room, letting her come to me on her terms. It took her a moment to decide, but eventually she pushed her smile up into her eyes and crossed the room to me.

We sank into the embrace and simply held each other as the tension left our bodies. Her arms were low around my waist and mine tight around her shoulders. Thanks to her heels she was only a few inches shorter than my six-foot-three inches, putting her at the perfect height to rest her head on my shoulder, which she did with the smallest sigh. My eyes drifted shut and I enjoyed the moment. It was a long time before I whispered, “Are you okay?”

She sucked in a sharp breath and pulled herself out of my arms. “I’m fine.”

I didn’t believe her. The words sounded too much like a personal pep talk. “Val, if you’re not up for sticking around to sign autographs with me, I’ll understand. I’ll tell them you’re not feeling well.”

Val gaped up at me, stunned by the offer. She was shocked that I’d let her off the hook. Normally I wouldn’t, but the image of her crumpling to pieces alone in this room was not one I was going to forget anytime soon.

“The thing about surviving fame,” I told her, “is knowing when to say no. The public will always take everything you give them. They’ll take and take and take, and it will never be enough. You have to remember that ultimately you come first. If there’s ever something you need, you have to put your foot down.”

For instance, not singing your most popular song again no matter how much it pisses people off and lets them down. I didn’t voice the thought, but I wondered if she was thinking about that, too.

“If you’re not up for it today, then go.”

Val studied me for a moment, and her nerves melted away. Giving her the chance to say no had apparently been what she needed to say yes. “It’s okay, Kyle, I don’t mind staying.”

She sounded much more confident, but I still asked, “You sure?”

“I’m sure,” she promised. A smile crept over her face, reaching all the way up into her eyes and she said, “I can’t let you go out there alone. Who knows what kinds of rumors you’d start. I’d probably wake up tomorrow and learn that I’d been hospitalized after going into severe shock when you kissed me backstage.”

Surprised, I burst into laughter. “That does sound like something you’d do,” I teased.

She laughed with me and we headed back to the main studio and our waiting fans. “It may have been four years, Kyle, but that doesn’t mean I don’t remember how you operate.”

I snatched her hand as she reached to open the door to the studio. I wasn’t ready to end this moment alone with her. “You don’t think I’ve learned a few things since then?”

She smirked and shook her head. “New tricks. Same dog.”

It was impossible not to take her words as a challenge. I pushed her back until she was pinned against the door and leaned in close enough that our breaths mingled. Her eyes snapped wide the same way they always had whenever I’d invaded her personal space, and I watched, satisfied, as she sucked in a lung full of air and held it.

“That mentality will be your downfall this time around, Val.” I leaned in, letting my lips linger at her jawline for a moment too long before bringing them to her ear. “Same old tricks,” I whispered. “New man.”

With that, I kissed her cheek and breezed past her into the studio, leaving her flustered and in need of another moment to collect herself all over again.

 

 

Author Kelly OramKelly

Kelly Oram wrote her first novel at age fifteen–a fan fiction about her favorite music group, The Backstreet Boys, for which family and friends still tease her. She’s obsessed with reading, talks way too much, and loves to eat frosting by the spoonful. She lives outside of Phoenix, Arizona with her husband and four children.

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 Blast Giveaway

$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 6/16/19

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Blog tour, excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, women on May 17, 2014

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Title:Mrs. Poe
Author: Lynn Cullen
Genre: Historical Fiction/Woman’s Fiction
Publish Date: April 1, 2013 (Paperback Release)
Publisher: Gallery Books
Event organized by: Literati Author Services, Inc.

 

~ Book Synopsis ~

 

In the nationally bestselling MRS. POE (Gallery Books; April 1, 2014; Trade Paperback; $16.00), award-nominated author Lynn Cullen uses meticulously researched historical details to deliver a pitch-perfect rendering of Edgar Allen Poe, his mistress’s tantalizing confession, and his wife’s frightening obsession, all inspired by literature’s most haunting love triangle.

1845: New York City is a sprawling warren of gaslit streets and crowded avenues, bustling with new immigrants and old money, optimism and opportunity, poverty and crime. Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” is all the rage—the success of which a struggling poet like Frances Osgood can only dream.As a mother trying to support two young children after her husband’s cruel betrayal, Frances jumps at the chance to meet the illustrious Mr. Poe at a small literary gathering, if only to help her fledging career.

Although not a great fan of Poe’s writing, she is nonetheless overwhelmed by his magnetic presence—and the surprising revelation that he admires her work. What follows is a flirtation, then a seduction, then an illicit affair…and with each clandestine encounter, Frances finds herself falling slowly and inexorably under the spell of her mysterious, complicated lover.

But when Edgar’s frail wife Virginia insists on befriending Frances as well, the relationship becomes as dark and twisted as one of Poe’s tales.And like those gothic heroines whose fates are forever sealed, Frances begins to fear that deceiving Mrs. Poe may be as impossible as cheating death its elf.

Much like T he Paris Wife, MRS. POE combines literary fiction with reimagined historical drama; much like Poe himself, Lynn Cullen captures his mysterious and macabre tone. While providing a voyeuristic peek into the heart and mind one of the history’s most fascinating literary figures, Cullen explores the themes of artistic expression, social standing in the 1800s, and the self-ownership of women.

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Excerpt

Two weeks later, I was tucked beneath a thick buffalo robe, riding downtown in Miss Fuller’s carriage. I had been too nervous to enjoy the trip or to appreciate Miss Fuller’s carriage, pulled by a clopping bay. That Miss Fuller was the only woman in New York to support herself by writing, let alone to have enough leftover to buy her own buggy, mattered little to me at that moment. Why had I agreed to meet Poe? And why would he want to meet me? He had already made and broken an appointment the previous week. I had been relieved by the cancellation, only to become agitated once more when he set up a different date. As suddenly and inexplicably as he had championed my poetry at the New York Society Library, he could withdraw his support if I said something wrong. Who knew what triggered the man’s tomahawk?

Miss Fuller jerked on the reins. “Here we are.” She looked at me expectantly, as if I should climb out of her trim little gig without her.

“Shouldn’t we wait for the doormen to take your reins?” I asked.

“Take my reins? Oh—did you think I was coming with you? No, no, dear, I’m off to investigate a slum on Hester Street. You really thought I was coming with you? I only meant that I would take you here. I thought your husband would appreciate my escorting you since he is, as you say, out of town.”

“Would you rather I came with you to the slum?” I asked.

“And have you jilt Mr. Poe? I wouldn’t dare.” Miss Fuller steadied her horse, then waved me toward the hotel. “Go on. It will be good for your books.”

Reluctantly, I climbed out from under the heavy robe. I held my breath as the carriage rattled away.

I found myself on the sidewalk before the hotel, contemplating an immediate about-face up Broadway when I felt someone’s presence behind me. Before I could move, a man said, “Lord help the poor bears and beavers.”

I turned to find Mr. Poe, his black-lashed eyes trained upon the building before us. Without a hello he said, “Davy Crockett’s words, upon first seeing this pile.”

I hesitated. “Because of Mr. Astor’s fur trade?”

He continued as if I had not spoken. “But Crockett was mistaken. It wasn’t the bears and the beavers that made Astor’s fortune. It was the opium he bought from the Chinese.”

I looked at him in surprise. “Mr. Astor deals in opium?”

He kept his gaze upon the hotel. “Whenever you see this much wealth, assume that someone dirtied his hands. Fortunes don’t come to saints.”

“I’ve never thought of that.”

He gave me a sharp glance. “Really?”

I drew back, chastened.

“Mr. Astor prefers to be known for the slaughter of animals rather than for his association with opiates. I wonder why that is.” He lowered his sights to me. “Shall we enter, Mrs. Osgood?”

So he did recognize me. I preceded him inside, into the hot maw of the lobby. As we walked past impressive people dressed in beautiful clothes, I felt low and insignificant, a ne’er-do-well’s abandoned wife, although my gown was as fine as anyone’s. What a sham I was.

I stopped to face him. “Congratulations on the success of ‘The Raven.’ ”

He frowned as if insulted.

“People love it. I hear talk of it everywhere I go.”

“‘People’ have no taste. Don’t tell me that you think it’s a work of genius.”

Was this a trick? I scanned his dark-rimmed eyes for clues.

When I did not answer he said, “Thank you, Mrs. Osgood. You’re the first honest woman I have met in New York.” He shook his head.

“It is my luck that I will become famous for that piece.”

Still not sure that I shouldn’t be gushing, I switched to safer ground. “May I ask what you are working on now?”

“A book on the material and spiritual universe.”

I laughed.

He watched me coolly.

“I’m sorry. I thought you were joking.”

“I never joke.”

“Of course not. Excuse me.”

“Although I wish I were. It will never sell.”

“Your work always sells,” I said lightly.

“Not any of my works with a true idea in them. People want to be titillated or frightened. They don’t want to think.”

I smiled hesitantly. What did he want with me?

“This is why I singled out your poems in my lecture,” he said. “They have real feeling in them, if one reads between the lines.”

I could not help but be disarmed. “Thank you. I find that the thoughts spoken between the lines are the most important parts of a poem or story.”

“As in life.”

I reluctantly met his intense gaze. “Yes.”

“I am particularly taken with your poem, ‘Lenore’:

 

So when Love poured through thy pure heart his lightning,

On thy pale cheek the soft rose-hues awoke—

So when wild Passion, that timid heart frightening,

Poisoned the treasure, it trembled and broke!

 

I swallowed my surprise. “You memorized it.”

An elegant couple drifted by, he in succulent wool and she in layers of costly lace. Mr. Poe frowned. “It spoke to me somehow, and not just because I had written a poem with the same title and had used the name in ‘The Raven.’ ”

“A coincidence.”

He stared at me.

I looked away. Why had Mr. Poe called this meeting? Surely he had better things to do than to raise the hopes of an unknown writer.

“You are probably wondering why I wished to meet you.”

I drew in a breath.

“Actually, it is on behalf of my wife.”

“Mrs. Poe?”

He frowned slightly at my unnecessary question. “She is a great reader. I have taught her all of the classics. I like to encourage her when she shows interest in good work, and your poems, Mrs. Osgood,

delight her.”

I pictured the pretty woman-child I had seen at Miss Lynch’s conversazione. I wondered if it was my poems for adults or for children that she admired.

“Thank you for your kind words, Mr. Poe. I wish she were here so that I could thank her, too.”

His expression hardened. “She has had bronchitis. Her recovery has been long and difficult. There was no question of her going out today.”

“I am sorry to hear that.”

“The few times she has ventured beyond our home have only served to set her back.”

“I am truly very sorry.”

He glanced away, then glared as if I’d offended him. “You will not hear her complain. She’s a brave, good girl. If I could only take her to Jamaica or Bermuda or some such hot clime, I’m certain she would become well.”

Why did they not go, then? With his success, surely he had the money.

“I hope she gets well soon.”

His expression settled back into cool civility. “It is bold of me to ask—we are perfect strangers, and you have obligations to your husband and family—but might you come visit her someday? I know

from looking into your eyes that you are a good person, and kind, and that your gentle association might help her.”

That was why he wished to meet with me? Ashamed of my disappointment, I exclaimed, “I should like very much to meet her! Might I have the pleasure of visiting her at your home?”

“Mrs. Osgood, you are too kind. Yes. Yes, we’d like that very much.”

“When would you like me to come?”

“At your convenience.”

“Would next week suit you?”

“Name your day. Any day. I will arrange my schedule around you.”

“Monday? In the afternoon?” I saved my morning hours for writing . . . writing, that is, what I hoped would be my imitation of his work.

He bowed, as stiffly formal as if in a royal court. “We would be so grateful.”

He gave me directions to his home on 154 Greenwich Street, then bowing again, left me in Astor’s parlor with all the frippery that bears and beavers and opium could buy.

 

More Information

National Bestseller

Great Reads of 2013 –NPR

Books That Make Time Stand Still

–Oprah.com Editor’s Pick

—The Historical Novels Review Best Books of 2013

—Atlanta Magazine
Indie Next List Pick

“Is it true that Edgar Allen Poe cheated on his tubercular, insipid young wife with a lady poet he’d met at a literary salon? Cullen makes you hope so.” –New York Times

“This fictional reenactment of the mistress of Edgar Allan Poe escorts you into the glittering world of New York in the 1840s…A bewitching, vivid trip into the heyday of American literary society.” –Oprah.com, Book of the Week

“Vivid…Atmospheric…Don’t miss it.” –People

“Nevermore shall you wonder what it might have been like to fall deeply in love with Edgar Allen Poe… Mrs. Poe nails the period.” –NPR

“A page-turning tale…Readers who loved Paula McLain’s The Paris Wife will relish another novel based on historical scandal and romance.” –Library Journal, starred review

“Immensely engaging…Set upon the backdrop of a fascinating era…this is not only a captivating story of forbidden lovers but an elaborately spun tale of NYC society.” –The Historical Novels Review

“A must-read for those intrigued by Poe, poetry and the latter half of nineteenth-century America.” –RT Book Reviews (4 stars)

 

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About the Author

 photo lynn-cullen-239x300_zpsd6e54f1c.jpg
Lynn Cullen is the author of T he Creation of Eve, named one of the best fiction books of the year by The Atlanta Journal- Constitution; and Reign of Madness, nominated for the Townsend Prize for fiction. She is also the author of numerous award-winning children’s books, including I Am Rembrandt’s Daughter. An avid traveler and historian, she lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

 

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5 paperback books for giveaway (US residents only). Send directly to the winners from publisher

 

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Posted in 5 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Review, romance on May 16, 2014

Prejudice Meets Pride Tour BannerTour Schedule

 

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson Book Cover

Prejudice Meets Pride by Rachael Anderson

After years of pinching pennies and struggling to get through art school, Emma Makie’s hard work finally pays off with the offer of a dream job. But when tragedy strikes, she has no choice but to make a cross-country move to Colorado Springs to take temporary custody of her two nieces. She has no money, no job prospects, and no idea how to be a mother to two little girls, but she isn’t about to let that stop her. Nor is she about to accept the help of Kevin Grantham, her handsome new neighbor, who seems to think she’s incapable of doing anything on her own.
Fun, compelling, and romantic, Prejudice Meets Pride is the story of a guy who thinks he has it all figured out and a girl who isn’t afraid to show him that he doesn’t. It’s about learning what it means to trust, figuring out how to give and to take, and realizing that not everyone gets to pick the person they fall in love with. Sometimes, love picks them.

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Excerpt

Every part of Kevin screamed at him not to take it. He didn’t want it or need it. Why couldn’t she let it go and forget about it? Why wouldn’t she let him ease some of her burdens? He wanted to—so much. It was killing him how much. But then he looked from the envelope to her eyes, and in that instant, he knew he couldn’t turn down the money. She needed him to accept it.

So he did, though he hated himself for it. To him, forty bucks was pocket change. To her, it was a weeks’ worth of groceries. “Thanks,” he mumbled.

“Thank you for loaning it to me.”

“Anytime.” His eyes captured and held hers. “I mean it, Emma. Anytime.”

“I know,” she said softly.

That would have to be enough for now. Kevin fingered the envelope, wishing there was something he could do. Something she’d let him do. “Would you like to borrow my lawnmower?” he asked tentatively, worried the question would make her go all ape on him again. “It works.”

Emma’s hand covered her mouth, muffling a strangled sound. Was that a sob or a snicker? Kevin couldn’t tell. Please don’t let her be crying. He never knew what to say or do when a woman got all weepy.

The sound came again, and Emma’s eyes filled with suppressed humor. Whew. It was a snicker. She was trying not to laugh. Did that mean he could press his luck? He gestured toward his mower. “Or, I could always mow it   for—”

“No.” And just like that, all traces of humor were gone. “I’ll mow my own lawn, thanks. Then I’ll clean it up, refill it with gas, and return it to you in better shape than before. Because that’s what you do when you borrow something.” It sounded rehearsed—a lesson ingrained in her by parents or someone else. “And then I’ll find a way to repay you for everything else you’ve done for me. Because I hate—hate—being in your debt.”

Kevin stepped forward and rested his hands on Emma’s shoulders, still clutching the envelope. He shook her shoulders lightly until those beautiful gray eyes met his. “Emma, you don’t owe me anything.”

“Yes, I do.”

“No, you don’t.”

“Yes—”

“No, you don’t,” he said firmly, then held the envelope in front of her face. “As far as I’m concerned, this makes us square.”

She didn’t try to say anything this time, only continued to stare at him with eyes that he could drown in. He lowered his hand from her mouth and shoved the envelope in the back pockets of his jeans, where he felt another envelope containing the art gallery tickets.

He pulled them out. “And speaking of not owing me anything, I happen to have two tickets for some big art gallery show tonight in Denver. They were given to me and didn’t cost a dime,” he quickly added. “Would you like to go?”

Her eyes clouded in confusion. “With you?”

No, with Sam or even Becky. Anyone but him. He was taking Nicole out tonight, not Emma. Nicole. If only his heart would stop pounding on his chest to say, “Yeah. With me.” The words were out before he could stop them. “I can see if Sam’s available to watch the girls.”

“You mean like a date?” Emma said.

Did he mean that? Kevin wasn’t sure. Everything that had seemed so clear moments before suddenly became murky and garbled. “How about we call it two friends hanging out? Something tells me you could really use a break.”

The confusion left her eyes, and she frowned. “Great. So now I’m the charity case again.”

Worried that he’d inadvertently turned up the heat on a pot that had only just begun to simmer, Kevin amended, “I meant a date. It’s like a date.”

Review

Yet another great book by Rachael Anderson! Emma takes on the daunting task of helping raise her nieces while her brother get back on his feet. Emma has a LOT of pride is pretty much refuses help from everyone. Then there is Kevin, a pediatric dentist and a bit of a snob. That is until he meets Emma and wants to help but is thwarted at every turn.

There were times I wanted to smack Emma for having so much pride. There is something to be said for doing things yourself and realizing when you might just need a little help. It doesn’t mean you have failed! I think I was rooting for Kevin because one he got past his snobbish side, he was a good guy wanting to help Emma in small ways.

Definitely worth the read and we give it 5 paws up!

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Coming Soon…

Coming Next in the Meet Your Match Series

 

Rachael
Author Rachael Anderson

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

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Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/31/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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Posted in 4 paws, excerpt, fiction, Giveaway on May 13, 2014

 

New Women’s Fiction That’s Stirring Up a National Debate

by Venita Ellick 

 

About the Author:
Venita Ellick was fated to be a writer. She was named for a character in a book her mother was reading at the time of the birth. As a young girl, she spent so much time in libraries that librarians would save books for her almost daily visits. She began writing stories in the first grade, which her mother patiently read. The intervention of a career as an educator and raising three sons delayed her focus on writing, but she has now completed three novels. The Reluctant First Lady is her fourth.
Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen captivated her as a teenager. The power and imagery of the printed word made her wonder what each heroine was thinking and feeling. She wanted to be the woman with the cape and hood standing on the edge of the cliff with the wind whipping around her. The mysteries that could be found in stories fascinated her and are echoed in The Reluctant First Lady.
Ellick draws on her experiences as a wife, mother, teacher, and principal to create her characters. Her sense of humor and recognition of the absurd and often whimsical nature of life have allowed her to capture her characters’ lives with authenticity and emotional resonance.Venita and her husband David have experience as a two-career couple. They live on an island in the state of Washington.

 

The Reluctant First Lady asks – 

 

“Just how much should a woman sacrifice for the person she loves?”

Summary:
Ashley Taylor has been straightforward with her husband, the president-elect of the United States. She supported his candidacy, but she has no intention of assuming the traditional role of First Lady—a position she describes as “First Hostess.” Instead, she will resume her own career as head of one of the largest art museums in New York. The aftermath of her decision triggers reactions from the public, news commentators, late night comedians, and other political factions. While Ashley and Michael wrestle with saving their marriage and preserving their professional lives, the country debates whether the role of First Lady is a necessity, how the media influences the lives of public figures, and how much a woman should sacrifice for the person she loves.

Excerpt:

From Chapter 3 of The Reluctant First Lady
Applause and pandemonium broke out on the other side of the curtain, indicating Michael had reached the end of his speech.A stage manager nodded and, with Ashley and the twins leading the way, followed by the vice president- elect, his wife, and family, she stepped onto the stage and into the bright lights. The noise from the crowd grew in intensity as each of them came into view. They all walked forward to stand beside Michael, Ashley and the twins to his left; Robert Hughes, Catherine, and their children to his right.The chaos and elation vibrating through the crowd was intoxicating. Cheers from a wildly exuberant audience and music blocked out what individuals were saying, but the camaraderie of those on the stage was evidenced by their smiles, hugs, and claps on the back. Before the world, she and Michael looked like the perfect couple. Michael pulled his family, plus Richard and his family, toward him while photographers snapped pictures of this historic event.Amid the excitement, it almost went unnoticed that a reporter shouted a question at Ashley. She ignored him, hoping he would go away.The reporter repeated his question. “Mrs. Taylor, what causes do you intend to champion during the next four years in the White House?”Ashley winced inwardly, but no outward expression marred her serene expression. She had a choice. She could tell the truth or continue to go along with the lie. Damn it. She’d been dodging questions like this for months about what special causes she intended to champion if her husband were elected. In fact, she’d become a master of evasion, not something she was proud of. Unquestionably the smartest thing to do would be to give the same canned response she’d been giving throughout the campaign. It would be a lie, all of it. But then she wouldn’t be accused of rocking the boat, a boat, she might add, that she knew was taking on a lot of water.She was tired of being evasive. She was sick to death of lying by omission. Michael’s managers had convinced her that he wouldn’t be elected if she declared her intentions. But, Michael had been elected. Was it possible that she was making more of this than necessary?She leaned toward the reporter and his microphone and began speaking in a quiet, clear voice.“First, I’d like to thank everyone here and at home for their incredible support throughout the campaign. I’m extremely proud of Michael and have always believed he’d be a great leader and a great president. The American people have chosen wisely and well this day. As for me, with the election over, I’ll be returning to my job as director of the Cameron Museum of Art in New York. It’s never been my intention to serve as the First Lady. Over half of the families in our country are two-career families. Our family isn’t any different. In fact . . .”Ashley felt Michael’s hand on her elbow. “Ashley, just smile and wave. We’re getting off of the stage now.”

Review:

I loved the concept – what if the wife of the president elect didn’t want to be the First Lady? The story tells of what Ashley and Michael go through as he takes over the Presidency. Ashley does not like politics and refuses to be involved (except for the last year of helping her husband’s campaign) after all she is a successful career woman herself.  After all, this is the 21st century, not the 17th!

However, other people have agendas for them and you wonder if they will make it or divorce.

There are some story lines that just leave you hanging (don’t want to say too much) but I still enjoyed the book and we give it 4 paws up!

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Posted in Book Blast, excerpt, Giveaway, Supernatural on May 2, 2014

 

scents

Scents and Senses: Supernatural Friends. What the fairy tales didn’t tell you

Playing the role of a knight in shining armor is more complicated than it seems in the storybooks, as sixteen-year-old Joy discovers when she repeatedly comes to the rescue of a fifteen-year-old human. But when she meddles in the girl’s social life, Starra sends her packing.

Starra is determined to completely dissociate herself from the subterranean creature that has manipulated her life and cast her into the limelight. However, her resolve is soon tested when she becomes involved in a critical situation where supernatural assistance can enable her to carry out a daring plot.

Eventually, Starra’s involvement with her new other-wordly friends extracts a heavy price when she is beset by challenges that range from the down- to-earth struggles of a typical teenage student, to the realm of the fantastic. Nothing prepares her, however, for the ultimate challenge.

 

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Excerpt

Joy

Ever since I’ve been old enough to kick off on a condor with my own two chicken feet, I’ve been drilled to mind my own business.

Mind your own business, the first of the American Ten Commandments.

It’s not one I subscribe to, even though in our community, not minding my own business means more than social suicide; it’s a crime when we ascend above ground.

For thousands of years we deeems have kept away from the creatures running over our heads with their five-toed feet. So if anyone in my community gets wind of the risky job I’m on these days, I’m practically a goner. But that doesn’t stop me from shadowing a certain teenage fivetoe.

There’s also a totally different occupational hazard involved in this position I’ve created for myself, one I’m suffering from right now: this job occasionally makes school seem relatively stimulating. Yawn. I’ve played too many Angry Condor games to count since Starra got involved in some fantasy book a couple of hours ago and lost contact with the real world. Even if I knew how to become visible to the fivetoe eye and suddenly revealed myself, I bet she wouldn’t notice me, the cute teen perched on her windowsill.

Time simply refuses to advance, and I have to resort to counting the spider eggs cocooned in their nest on a nearby tree branch. A sudden sigh interrupts my lame occupation. There’s a starry look in the big eyes, and I notice the novel is slipping out of Starra’s dreamy grip. This is my window of opportunity! I finger the starchy edge of the book jacket and coax the book forward.

Thud. The book falls to the floor, and the movement seems to bring Starra back to her senses. At last she grabs a hoodie and sets out, probably for one of her night excursions on the Vista Del Mar Path. Are we running or biking tonight?

Running it is. I jog behind her, finding the excursion by the shoreline an improvement to watching her read. At least we are moving.

She runs for half an hour, at a speed faster than the sea turtle pace usual for fivetoes. Then she slows to a stop at a jagged rock, half-submerged in the ocean. I groan quietly and contemplate leaving. From experience, I know she’ll climb to the top of her rock and dream away. I start backing off, but when I’m some fifty feet away, I look back. Starra makes a pretty picture there, her silhouette perched high on the rock. Her long legs are tucked under her, and her head hangs back as she keeps her gaze on the stars above. If only she would let loose the heavy dark mane of hair she always twists up at the back of her neck, she would truly look like a mermaid risen from the sea.

Something pulls me back to her. I can’t explain it, but I have a feeling trouble is lurking nearby, waiting to snatch her in its net.

My chicken feet make an about face and follow Starra home as she takes the shorter route through town.

Scents and Scenses Blog Tour

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Author Loren Secretts

Loren Secretts was raised in a book-filled home, in a sleepy east coast suburb of the US. These factors are undoubtedly responsible for her early design of a number of exciting imaginary worlds that she could escape to from time to time during her childhood.
In her teen years, between schoolwork and lending an ear to her friends, Loren had less opportunity to go AWOL. Instead, her experience as a confidant to others inspired her to major in psychology in college and earn her M.A. in the field on the west coast.
As an adult, Loren has found fulfillment in her work with children and families for more than a decade. Her passion for writing was revived when she discovered that she enjoyed delving into the human psyche to write psychological reports.
But clients’ reports are safe with Loren, who guards secrets fastidiously. Indeed, one of her aspirations is to work as a psychotherapist for the CIA, but since she now lives with her family in Canada, that dream will have to await its turn…

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Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 5/27/14

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in 5 paws, Blog tour, excerpt, Giveaway, Novella, romance on April 30, 2014

Lost and found tourTour Schedule

Lost and Found by Karey White

Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she’s done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it’s time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he’s been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he’s on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he’s going home, and that’s that. But that’s before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.

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Review

This is another great installment in the Ripple Effect series. I have enjoyed several other books by Karey White and this one is no exception. Both Lindsay and Blake learned something about life from each other and I like how Blake realizes that there is more to life than just work.  Lydia may not have had her adventure during the summer but she sure got one during those few days with Blake.  A simple and sweet story that will remind that love can be found when you are least expecting it.

We give this 5 paws and if you are going to read this book, definitely get the whole Riffle Effect series!

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Excerpt

When Lydia approached her seat a few minutes later, an airport security officer with a shiny face and a little paunch was standing in the aisle by her suitcase.

“Is this your bag?” he asked.

“Yes. Is everything okay?” Why hadn’t she paid attention to the voice in her head?

“It appeared to be left unattended. In the future, I’d advise you to either take your bag with you or move it closer to your boyfriend when you leave.”

Lydia shot a surprised glance at the movie star, and he shrugged. “Sorry, babe. I told him you’d be right back, and I offered to move your bag over by me, but he wanted me to wait for you to come back.”

Lydia almost choked. She knew he was just rescuing her from the security guard, but no one had ever, ever called Lydia “babe” before and certainly no one as handsome as Ryan Gosling. It had a wonderful ring to it. Was her racing heart because of being questioned by an officer of the law or because this man had just called her “babe?”

Lydia dragged her distracted gaze back to the much less interesting man standing by her bag. “I’m so sorry. I just had to make a little run to the ladies’ room. It won’t happen again.”

“See that it doesn’t. Airport security is no laughing matter.” Was she laughing? “Have a nice flight.”

Lydia sat down by her bag. “You should probably move over here by me since you’re my girlfriend. We don’t want to make him suspicious.”

“Oh. Of course. I should have thought of that.” Did the movie star want Lydia to sit by him? Lydia rolled her eyes at her silliness. He was just trying to keep from being hassled any further. He went back to working on his laptop as she moved her things across the aisle. “Sorry about that,” Lydia whispered.

“No problem.” He looked up from his computer and smiled. Oh. My. Wow! Up close his dimple was even cuter. The bigger the smile, the deeper the dimple. “Are you taking a trip to Denver?” he asked.

 

KareyAuthor Karey White

Karey is a USA Today best-selling author. She grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.

She loves to travel, read, cook, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four wonderful children.

 

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Updated Ripple Effect

The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series

Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors.

“Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love.”

Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White

Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Book 6: Immersed by Jennifer Griffith

Tour Giveaway

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Posted in 4 paws, Blog tour, Christian, excerpt, fiction, Review, romance on April 18, 2014

faith departed

 

Title: Faith Departed
Author: Elizabeth Maddrey
Genre: Christian Fiction

Synopsis

Starting a family was supposed to be easy.

Twin sisters June and July have never encountered an obstacle they couldn’t overcome. Married just after graduating college, the girls and their husbands remained a close-knit group. Now settled and successful, the next logical step is children.

But as the couples struggle to conceive, each must reconcile the goodness of God with their present suffering. Will their faith be strong enough to triumph in the midst of trial?

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Review

I thought this was a good story of two sisters whose faith is tested when they try to conceive. I thought the names were interesting, June and July (pronounced Julie). I felt sorry for June in her work situation and having to deal with a vindictive coworker and HR person. I think that both June & Toby and July and Gareth all learned something in their situations and while there were times that it tested their faith and friendship, it was ultimately for the best.

We give this 4 paws and look forward to more book by Elizabeth!

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Excerpt

“Stop stop stop stop.” June breathed the words as the digital readout on the bathroom scale flickered up. She cringed when the hateful thing finally followed her directions. One forty. One hundred and forty pounds. She stumbled backwards off the scale and dropped onto the cold edge of the bathtub. At five foot two, she was used to numbers much more in the range of one ten. But the last six months had added thirty pounds…that was five pounds a month. She buried her head in her hands. What was going on?

“Morning, baby.” Toby shuffled into the bathroom, rubbing his eyes. He stopped to give her an appreciative look and waggle his eyebrows. “Careful, you’re going to make me late for work.”

She chuckled in spite of herself. “You’re insane.” And blind. There was no point in drawing his attention to her ever expanding girth. She was on her way to being twice the woman he married four years ago. He hadn’t signed on for a two-in-one special.

He grabbed her arm and pulled her close, burying his nose in her neck. “I can’t help it if I have the world’s most enticing wife.”

He couldn’t possibly mean it. Her fat rolls squashed against his still-firm abs as he tightened his embrace. She fought the urge to push away and put on a robe. She forced her tone to be light. “Now, now. Didn’t you say you had a big meeting this morning?”

He pressed a kiss to her head and eased back, eyes still hinting at his interest. “I did…sadly, I did.”

She crossed her arms over her belly as he turned on the shower and tossed his towel over the door.

“Any news, June?”

She swallowed the lump in her throat and shook her head.

“We’ll just have to practice more.” He shot her a wicked grin and stepped into the steaming shower.

About the Author

elizabeth maddreyElizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys.

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Historical, Spotlight on April 10, 2014

Honor and Innocence

 

Synopsis

Honor and Innocence: Against the Tides of War, a historical romance novel by Glen Hierlmeier, was released March 2014. This book takes the reader through the devastation left by World War II across the European and Asian continents following its main character Hank Fischer, who was drafted to the American Army in 1945 shortly after his high school graduation.

During his service, Hank befriends a German prisoner-of-war, Max, who tells Hank of his twin sister, Roberta, also in captivity. An unlikely romance buds between her and Hank, leaving Hank conflicted between his allegiance to the American Army and his love for Roberta. Hank decides to break out Max and Roberta, and together they make a desperate flight through war-torn Germany where they witness first-hand the destruction post-war Europe has endured. Leaving Max behind in Switzerland, they make their way to the port city of Trieste, where they board a ship and depart to the seas, dealing with pirates, facing adversity, making new friends, and desperately seeking a safe refuge in a place where their love can flourish.

Follow Hank and Roberta on their intense and captivating journey from country to country as they seek refuge. Read as they make their way through bombed-out cities, giving a rare glimpse into the tragic consequences of war, as they remain together bound by love.

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Excerpt

There was little rest for Hank again that night.  His heart and his mind were being pulled in different directions.  He had made commitments to Max and Oliver, then to Captain Stein, and now to Roberta.  He had always been trusted by everyone, a pillar of integrity.  Now, he would surely destroy that reputation.  As he tossed and turned, and scolded himself for getting himself into such a quandary, his thoughts kept going back to Roberta, warm thoughts full of wonder and excitement.  But, as the night progressed, doubts began to creep into his head.

Hank couldn’t deny how he felt; he felt fantastic, incredible.  He had met the girl of his dreams—love at first sight.  He couldn’t wait to see her again.  She was everything he had always imagined she would be, everything he hoped for in a woman.  Yet, he began to wonder, is this real?  Could it be possible for two people to be in love when they’ve only known each other for two days?  Was he being foolish?  Had the events of the past five months and his absence from the comforts of home made him vulnerable in a dangerous way?  A frightful pang of fear shot through his gut as he thought: Is she just using me? Does she see me as her way out of confinement? Am I being fooled by her? Maybe she doesn’t care about me at all; she only needs me to get what she really wants.  Why should I trust her?  I don’t really know her.  Oh, what a fool I must be to fall for the first beautiful woman who shows an interest in me, who caresses me.  Am I that vulnerable?  Am I that foolish?

Thoughts of Roberta dazzled and confused him; nothing in his young life had ever left him so unsure of himself.  No amount of concentration overcame the cascade of emotions flooding his chest.  He tossed and turned long into the night, soaked his pillow through with his sweat, though he wasn’t warm, and felt his pulse exploding his temples; alternating between visions of pure, romantic love and sheer foolishness.  The pull on his heart skidded back and forth like a tug of war.  That is…until he recalled his mother’s words, spoken on his eighteenth birthday, just after a high school sweetheart informed him that another man had won her heart.

Hank, you are such a precious son.  I adore you.  I am sad when you are sad, but you must know this pain you feel will pass.  Sometimes love is fleeting, it may disappear as quickly as it appears.  You have your whole life ahead of you.  I know you will meet the woman who will love you completely, and for your lifetime.  I have no doubt.  Love between a man and a woman cannot be easily defined; love comes in many forms and is never the same for everyone.  Almost always love charges into your life like a cosmic experience, even magical, it is so difficult to predict or understand.  Sometimes that special feeling in your heart really is true love—sometimes not.  When love comes suddenly, we can be swept off our feet.  It’s a dazzling experience that confuses us.  That’s often called love at first sight, but it’s never really love at first sight.  If it happens to you, don’t take it for granted, it’s very special and you won’t want to lose it.  It’s one of the best feelings you will ever have, and I believe the best beginning for true love.

Don’t be deceived, true love has to be built; it takes a lot of hard work and may take a very long time.  When two people stop working on their love, it fades, no matter if it’s the first month, the first year, the tenth or the twenty-fifth.  There will always be difficulties and complications, that’s how life is, not just marriage.  Use those difficulties to work on making your marriage stronger.  Don’t expect not to have challenges, welcome them and be ready to take them on together.  Everything really worthwhile in your life will require hard work.  Your marriage is the one very most worthwhile jewel you will ever have.

Laying silently in the darkness, eyes wide open, thinking warm thoughts of his mother, a smile came across his face.  Of course, he thought, mother is right.  I have to work on it.  Tomorrow I’ll have to find out if Roberta truly feels the same way about me.  Sleep finally came.

He should have been exhausted the next morning, with little sleep and tormented the whole night through with all his mixed emotions, but his adrenalin had taken over.  Hank needed to get things resolved, and though he wasn’t sure how to do that, he needed to attack his demons head on.  By the time he met with Oliver and Max in the evening he wanted to have his life back on track.  Since he was drafted there had not been a dull day in Hank’s life.  He never knew quite what to expect, and that day would be no different.  It would begin with his report to Captain Stein.

Hank was surprised to see the Captain waiting for him.  Stein motioned Hank to his office as soon as Hank appeared in the doorway.  Hank’s curiosity was aroused.

“Hank, we have to release everyone except the SS Officers.  The staff and family are being released as soon as possible.   We’ll have 30 days to hold the officers and unless we can get enough evidence they participated in war crimes we’ll have to release them too!  Something about the Geneva Convention says we can’t hold them unless we have sufficient evidence to take them to trial.  It’s foolish as far as I’m concerned.  What kind of fair trial did the millions of dead Jews get?”

Hank was stunned again.  His first emotion was that he was losing Roberta, but his first thought was that might be best.  He had to set his feelings aside and listen to Stein without revealing his feelings.

“I’m sorry, sir.  I know how important this is to you.  It really would be a shame if guilty men went free.”

“Ya, well, there’s nothing we can do about it but work our butts off to get the evidence we need to hold the bastards.  That’s our job, and by God, we’re going to make sure every last one of them hangs for what they’ve done.  Did you get anything out of the girl?”

“I thought I was really close…I mean…I think she was beginning to trust me.  I needed more time; maybe a few more days, but I’m not sure she knew anything.”

“Come on, Corporal, of course she knows things.  I’ll bet she knows plenty.  We’re losing a good opportunity by letting them all go.  It makes our job harder.”

“What will we do now?”

“We’ll get busy interrogating the officers.  The British have been at it for weeks.  They have files on all of them.  The Russians are sending men to help too, and we’re getting some young Army lawyers by next week.  Today, you and I are going out there to go through files.  We’ll make a list of the ones that look like they were in charge, in some position of leadership, the higher the better, then we’ll start meeting with them.  I want to get the top guys.”

Hank didn’t know what to think.  His emotions all melted together in a jumble of confusion.  All he could do was follow orders for the moment, until he could sort through all the feelings bombarding him.

Within a few minutes he and Stein were on their way to the compound, where they came upon a blur of activity.  Those who were being released were jubilant as groups of them gathered in the streets to celebrate.  There was pitched cheering, yet, others pushed against the fence separating them from officers, loved ones and former employers who they would be leaving behind.  There was sadness and tears, as well as questions about what may lay ahead for each of them, the uncertainty for those who were released to communities that may not still exist, and for those who remained in custody, facing the possibility of imprisonment or death.

As Stein and Hank walked into the officer’s compound, Hank did his best to keep Stein from seeing him looking among those being released through the fence.  In spite of his doubts, his heart told him he was in love and he was growing desperate about losing Roberta so soon, thinking she could be gone forever, and wishing he could know for sure if what they had begun was truly love, or whether he was just a fool.  They were moving too quickly for him to see clearly.  He couldn’t find her.  They were up the steps and into the meeting hall, leaving behind any chance he might see her again.  He was numb, unaware of anything going on around him.

“Hank, Hank, come on, get moving.  Pay attention!”  Stein gave him a nudge toward the stairway leading to a room above, where they spent the rest of the morning poring through files, assessing information that had been gathered by the British, looking for clues to help them decide which officers they would interrogate first.  Stacks of files were set aside, awaiting the lawyer’s arrival.  Hank couldn’t focus his attention; all he could think about was that he may be losing the one person who was right for him, the one he would commit his life to.  Convicting German criminals wasn’t important to him at that moment.

By noon Stein was satisfied they had enough files to get started.  They were loaded in the back of the truck and about to leave.

“Captain Stein, I’d like to see if I can find Roberta and make an appeal to her to give us the information you believe she has.  Once she is gone, it will be lost.  I think it’s worth a try.”

“If you think so, Hank.  There can’t be any harm in trying.  In fact, I like your attitude.  Go ahead, get what you can, and jump on another truck heading back later.  I’ll see you in the morning.  Good luck.”

Hank felt relieved that Stein went along with the idea, but he felt a tinge of guilt for taking advantage of Stein’s trust in him.

Trucks loaded with released detainees were rolling out the gate as Hank walked over to the camp.  He ran alongside each truck calling Roberta’s name but got no response.  Others were still loading near a barracks building to the rear.  He ran into the building asking each person he came to about Roberta until an older woman stopped him.

“Yes.  Roberta was here.  But she has gone.”

Hank’s world came to a sudden stop.  He just stood there as people pushed past him toward the trucks.  He lost her.  She was gone.  Maybe she didn’t love him after all.  Maybe she just didn’t need him anymore.  He really didn’t know what to think.  He only knew this was the worst day of his life.

As he walked back toward the gate past the office where he had met with Roberta, the guard who had brought Roberta to the meetings called out to him.

“Corporal!  Corporal Fischer!  Come quickly.  There is someone who wants to see you.”

Hank wouldn’t allow himself to believe it could be her.  He hurried into the building and found the front office area empty, but the door to the room in back was ajar.  He slowly opened the door and there sat Roberta.  She leaped from her chair and into his arms with a scream of delight.

“Oh, Hank, Hank!  I knew you would come for me.  I knew it in my heart!”

“They told me you had left.  I thought you were gone!”

“I couldn’t go.  Where would I go without you now that I have found you?  I love you, Hank, I love you!  I feel like I have loved you since always, and forever.”

Her arms wrapped tightly around his neck and her lips found his.  Her words washed away any doubt.  He had never known such elation.  He was in love.  It was real.  He was sure of it.

“I love you, Roberta.  I love you, too!”

About the Author

Glen HGlen graduated from the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, then earned a Masters of Business Administration at The University of Wisconsin at Madison. He served in the US Air Force on the Manned Orbiting Laboratory space exploration program and on the design phase of the development of the F-15 fighter aircraft. After leaving the Air Force, Glen returned to Wisconsin and became Vice President of the largest bank in his home state, First Wisconsin National Bank. In 1979, he moved on to become President and CEO of several real estate development and management companies. Glen retired in 2009 to devote full time to his grandchildren and his writing. Glen is the author of Honor and Innocence, We Had to Live: We Had No Choice…, and Thoughts From Yesterday: Moments to Remember.

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