Posted in fiction, Giveaway, Spotlight, women on January 10, 2017

friends-fornever
Friends ForNever by Melissa Baldwin

Erin Taylor is a hard-working journalist with a serious TV addiction and lack of a social life. She’s focused on her career and determined to leave her tiny cubicle behind for a fabulous corner office! But when a new co-worker, a friendship drama, and a hot workplace crush collide, Erin finds it harder and harder to focus. Especially when that crush on the oh-so-yummy Aiden Thomas starts to materialize into what feels like a magical relationship. Erin’s life seems to finally be heading in the right direction…until suddenly friends aren’t such great friends after all, her magical relationship hits a bumpy road, and her career could be derailed by it all. Erin learns a lesson the hard way: Sometimes people aren’t who they seem to be. With her happiness on the line, can Erin rise above her disappointments and create the life she’s always dreamed of or will she be stuck being Friends ForNever?

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Praise for the Book

Friends ForNever is a cleverly written book that will keep you wanting for more until the very end! I highly recommend this book!

Friends for Never is like listening to your best friend tell you about her day at work! And anyone who has worked in an office will totally relate to this book. I was absolutely sucked in. The love story was great!

It was well paced and funny!
The author is really good.

An intriguing look at the demands of family and friendship when personal goals are at risk.
A novel of back stabbing emotions.

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Melissa BAbout the Author

Melissa graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications; she has always had a love for writing. An avid journal keeper, she took her creativity to the next level by fulfilling her dream with her debut novel, An Event to Remember . . . Or Forget. Since then, she has written and published four more novels, Wedding Haters, See You Soon Broadway, Not Quite Sheer Happiness and Friends ForNever.

Melissa resides in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and young daughter. When she isn’t writing, this multi-tasking master organizer is busy being a mother, wife, chauffeur, PTA President, and Fitness Trainer.

When she has free time, she enjoys traveling, running, fitness, and taking a Disney Cruise every now and then.

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$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 1/26/17

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 Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on January 8, 2017

Custom Baked Murder (A Pawsitively Organic Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
5th in Series
Kensington (December 27, 2016)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496700193
E-Book ASIN: B01DRXCGD0

Synopsis

Kristan “Stan” Connor gladly turned tail on her high-flying job and moved to a quaint New England town to sell organic pet treats. But with her nose for solving murders, there’s no such thing as a quiet life…

Summer is winding down in Frog Ledge, Connecticut, but Stan’s love life and career are both heating up nicely. In between planning her new pet patisserie and café, Stan is settling into living-in-bliss with sexy pub owner Jake McGee. Love’s on the menu for Stan’s mom, Patricia, too, who’s engaged to Frog Ledge’s mayor, Tony Falco.

Mayor Falco’s dogged ambition isn’t popular among locals, but it’s his executive coach, Eleanor Chang, who’s inspired a dangerous grudge. When Eleanor is found dead, there’s a whole pack of suspects to choose from. Stan has first-hand experience of Eleanor’s unsavory business tactics. But finding out who forced her to take a fatal plunge off the corporate ladder means unearthing some shady secrets…and a killer who’s too close for comfort.

Includes Gourmet Pet Food Recipes!

About the Author

Liz Mugavero has been writing stories since she could hold a pen. Before that, she would tell them to anyone who would listen (not many at the time). After deciding early on she would write books for a living, she practiced by writing bad, angst-filled poems, short stories and even a storyline for a soap opera–all by age 15. She never wavered from her goals despite all the usual questions including, “So are you going to be an English teacher with that degree in English?” or, “That writing thing sounds nice, but how are you REALLY going to make a living?”

She went on to get a master’s in writing and publishing and spent time in journalism, PR, and presently, corporate communications. And she’s confident this writing thing IS the way to make a living.

Aside from writing, she loves animals (has a houseful), the beach, reading other writers’ masterpieces and Starbucks coffee.

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January 5 – Bibliophile Reviews –  REVIEW

January 5 – Mochas, Mysteries and Meows – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

January 6 – The Self-Rescue Princess – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 6 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

January 6 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

January 7 – Books,Dreams,Life – REVIEW

January 7 – Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHTS

January 8 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

January 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

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January 9 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

January 10 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

January 10 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

January 11 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW

January 11 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – INTERVIEW

Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on January 6, 2017

River City Dead (An Aggie Mundeen Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
Henery Press (January 17, 2017)
Paperback: 224 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1635111330
E-Book ASIN: B01MA6NALN

Synopsis

Aggie Mundeen, who advises readers in her column, “Stay Young with Aggie,” is pushing forty and determined to postpone a precipitous descent into middle-age. She plans to rendezvous with SAPD Detective Sam Vanderhoven at a hotel on the San Antonio River Walk…a vacation from crime and reset for their tumultuous relationship. In the midst of River City during Fiesta Week, what could go wrong?

Aggie’s new friends, the Fabulous Femmes, are holding their convention at the hotel. When hotel guests are murdered, Aggie discovers her friends have disturbing backgrounds. Evil surfaces at Fiesta events, and Aggie’s dancing debut at a Fiesta performance at Arneson River Theater is fraught with danger. Even in idyllic River City, crime complicates relationships.

Books in the Aggie Mundeen Humorous Mystery Series:

FIT TO BE DEAD (#1)
DANG NEAR DEAD (#2)
SMART, BUT DEAD (#3)
RIVER CITY DEAD (#4)

About This Author

nancy westI’ve been writing since age seven: poems back and forth with my mom. I had a real poem published in the Library Journal, Pegasus, at age fifteen. At eighteen, I wanted to study journalism and English literature, but friends who chose that college route were making minimum wage or selling lingerie. Being practical, I earned a business degree. After marriage and two children, I decided I HAD to study literature and write. I wrote non-fiction articles, a biography, and a suspense novel in 2004. That’s when whimsical Aggie Mundeen cut through the suspense, popped into my head and demanded her own series. The Aggie Mundeen mystery capers were born. Aggie must have been right:FIT TO BE DEAD is a LEFTY FINALIST 2013 for best humorous mystery, nominated by Left Coast Crime.

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January 9 – The Girl with Book Lungs – SPOTLIGHT

January 9 – View from the Birdhouse – SPOTLIGHT

January 10 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

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January 12 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

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January 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

 

Posted in Cover Reveal, Giveaway on January 3, 2017

the-rise-of-miss-notley-gr

The Rise of Miss Notley by Rachael Anderson

To escape an undesirable match, Miss Notley must give up her riches for rags.

When Miss Coralynn Notley’s father barters her off to the first titled gentleman to come along, she realizes she must flee her home or be forced to wed a despicable man. Driven by desperation, she applies for the position of housekeeper at Tanglewood Manor, the home of the handsome Mr. Jonathan Ludlow.

The moment Jonathan sees Miss Notley, he is intrigued. She is far too young and inexperienced for the position, yet there is something about her that that inspires a certain hope within him. Does he dare offer her the position of housekeeper or will doing so result in catastrophe?

The Rise of Miss Notley is the delightful tale of a mysterious gentleman and a determined young woman, caught together in a web so tangled it begs the question: Will they ever get out?

Coming February 2017

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RachaelAbout the Author

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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Posted in Giveaway, memoir, nonfiction, Spotlight on January 2, 2017

OF BULLETINS AND BOOZE

  A NEWSMAN’S STORY OF RECOVERY

by

Bob Horton

Genre: Journalism / Memoir

Publisher: Texas Tech University Press

Date of Publication: March, 2017

Number of Pages: 284

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Bob Horton began his journalism career as a reporter for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Innate skill and good fortune took him from a modest Texas farm upbringing to Washington, DC, where he was thrown into the high-pressure world of the wire service, first as a correspondent for the Associated Press, and later for Reuters news agency. The stress was intense, but he found the rush to be intoxicating.

From his early days covering the Dallas murder trial of Jack Ruby, through three colorful decades as a newsman, Horton often found himself witnessing history in the making. He covered the Pentagon during the early days of the Vietnam War, was on board a Navy ship in the Mediterranean awaiting Israel’s expected attack on Egypt, was witness to the Watergate burglary trial, and attended a Beverly Hills church service with then-President-elect Ronald Reagan and his wife Nancy.

The success Horton enjoyed as a journalist mostly hid the dark side of his career: a gradual descent into alcoholism. Of Bulletins and Booze candidly recounts the unforgettable moments of Horton’s career, as well as more than a few moments he would just as soon forget.

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Bob Horton has been in the news business for more than fifty years. In 1966 he received the Top Reporting Performance Award from the Associated Press Managing Editors organization, and in 1968 he and an AP cohort were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for general coverage of the Pentagon during the Vietnam War. Today he is a radio news anchor with shows in Lubbock and Victoria, Texas. He lives in Lubbock.

 

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12/30 Review Forgotten Winds
1/2 Promo StoreyBook Reviews
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1/4 Review Book Chase
1/5 Excerpt Kara The Redhead
1/6 Review Reading By Moonlight

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on January 2, 2017

Title: Solo

Author: Jill Mansell

Pub Date: January 3, 2017

ISBN: 9781492632429

Synopsis

It all starts at a party, as these things often do…

  • A one-night stand with far-reaching consequences
  • Momentarily enamored guests going home with all the wrong people
  • An unfaithful wife struck by jealousy and getting a dose of her own medicine
  • A shocking family secret revealed at the worst possible moment

One fling follows another, and now the whole community is embroiled in a great big web of deceit, the untangling of which will charm you, amuse you, make you laugh and make you cry.

Whatever’s going on in your life, Solo by Jill Mansell is the perfect distraction right about now…

Amazon * Books-A-Million * Barnes & Noble * Indiebound

Question to Jill

What draws you to write romance?

I love it! It means spending your days with fictional people you’d really enjoy knowing and spending time with in real life. I particularly love writing sparky, witty exchanges between two characters who find each other attractive. What could possibly be more fun than that?

Excerpt

Parties full of strangers bored the knickers off Tessa.

“Well, you’re damn well coming to this one,” declared Holly impatiently. “You haven’t been out for weeks and it’s going to be brilliant. Everyone’s going. And just think, play your cards right, show a bit of leg, a bit of cleavage, and you, too, could find a husband like mine!”

Tessa wiped her hands on her already paint-streaked sweatshirt and picked up the bottle of ridiculously expensive Chardonnay that Holly always insisted on buying because she liked the label, and which neither of them properly appreciated. Pouring herself half a mugful and wincing at its icy dryness she said, “I don’t have a cleavage.”

“What God didn’t give you, scotch tape will,” pronounced Holly. “They showed us how on Blue Peter.”

“And I haven’t been out for weeks”—Tessa mimicked Holly’s despairing tones—“because I have been working. Working pays the rent. It even occasionally allows me to eat. I simply can’t afford to mix in your kind of social circles.”

“You can’t afford not to,” countered Holly. “These are the people who commission poverty-stricken artists to paint absurdly flattering portraits of their revolting children.”

“Besides,” Tessa went on, surveying the almost-finished canvas before her and beginning to realize that Holly wasn’t going to let her wriggle out of this one, “you aren’t married.”

Holly grinned, refilling her own mug with a flourish. “Ah! I didn’t say I had a husband, I said I’d found him. All that remains now is to exert a little gentle pressure.”

“And I suppose he’ll be there tonight.”

“There is that small chance,” conceded Holly smugly. “After all, it is his party.”

***

From the living room window of Tessa’s tiny cottage, perched on the side of one of the rolling, north-facing hills overlooking the spectacular elegance of the city of Bath, she could see in the far distance the equally spectacular and elegant Charrington Grange Hotel.

Even if Holly hadn’t been working there for the past two months and regaling her with endless details about it, Tessa would have heard of it. Everyone knew of the Charrington Grange Hotel, owned and run by the Monahan brothers and built up from nothing—well, scarcely anything—over the last fifteen years into one of the foremost country hotels in England. Originally a gracious Georgian residence commanding breathtaking views across the city from its position at the very top of the south-facing hills above Bath, it had fallen into hideous disrepair during its forty-year occupation by an elderly and eccentric Monahan maiden aunt. By the time of her eventual death the roof was barely intact, the walls of the gracefully proportioned rooms were streaked with damp and the entire place was overrun by the dotty old woman’s grand passion—several hundred decidedly un-housetrained cats.

Pulling every conceivable string between them, the notorious Monahan brothers, Ross and Max, had somehow managed to raise the vast amount of capital necessary to transform the crumbling old house into an opulent hotel catering to the very wealthiest clientele.

The press had had a field day at the time. The very idea that Max Monahan, moody and unpredictable, and Ross, with his mile-long reputation for carousing, heart-breaking and generally misbehaving, could pull off such a stunt was so ridiculous it was laughable. Max, the elder brother by two years, having been sent down from Oxford following a particularly outrageous prank involving a prostitute dressed as a nun and a visiting trade union leader, had rapidly established himself as a star broker on the Stock Exchange. Six months later, the day after his twenty-first birthday, he had abandoned this glittering new career, disappearing to the Caribbean and returning eighteen months later with the completed manuscripts of not one but two fat novels. These thrillers, with their winning combination of sex, violence, tension and wit were wildly successful, yet at the time Max had doubted whether he would want to do it again. It had been fun finding out that he could, but it was scarcely what he termed a proper job.

In the end, however, the vast sums of money offered, the luxury of being virtually his own boss, the flexible hours and the ease with which he conjured up fresh plots, won the day. To Max Monahan, writing was a doddle and the rewards were too great to pass up. He rapidly became established as one of those few lucky writers whose books were read by everyone. Over the years he had grown more level headed and now, with his astute business brain and almost ruthless determination to pile success upon success, he was recognized as the more down to earth of the two brothers. The Charrington Grange Hotel was owned jointly between them and although Max didn’t work there full-time he was involved in all the major decision-making and both he and Ross still lived there. Blockbuster novels remained his major—and considerable—source of income, but the hotel acted as an antidote to the solitude which writing entailed, and because he didn’t need to sweat over a word processor for eight hours a day like some writers he’d heard of, there was still plenty of time left over in which to enjoy himself.

Ross Monahan, on the other hand, devoted his entire life to enjoyment. Tessa had never made a particular point of reading the gossip columns but even she was aware of his wicked reputation. Expelled from more schools than anyone cared to remember, his notorious passion for fun was equaled only by his stunning good looks and lethal charm. Incapable of remaining in one place for more than a few weeks, in his early twenties he was the archetypal playboy, his outrageous exploits hitting the papers almost weekly. Men despised and envied him; women—apart from those whose hearts he had broken—adored him.

If everyone had been amazed when he had appointed himself manager of The Charrington Grange, they had been well and truly astounded when they finally realized what an out-and-out success he was actually making of the job.

And fifteen years on, Ross Monahan was still doing it, running the hotel with such panache and enjoyment that he had made it seem scarcely like work at all. Having always moved in the most glittering and outrageous circles, he had turned The Grange into a kind of open house for those who played as hard as he did. It was quite simply the place to stay if you wanted to have a really good time—and could afford to pay for it.

And according to Holly, Ross Monahan was absolutely lethal with women.

“Gorgeous, gorgeous!” she had informed Tessa, shortly after going to work for him. “But definitely dangerous to know. When I first met him I made a solemn vow with myself not to get involved.”

“But you have,” guessed Tessa, observing the sheepish look in her friend’s eyes. Holly had shrugged and smiled. “Given half a chance I would have done,” she’d admitted. “But the bastard isn’t interested. For God’s sake, Tess, he treats me like a friend!”

***

And now Holly was planning on treating him like a brother-in-law. She was passionately in love with Max, only Max didn’t know it yet. Tessa, who adored Holly but sometimes despaired of her, suspected that it would all end in tears and that most of them would land on her own inadequately small shoulders.

Meanwhile, Holly was returning in less than two hours to pick her up and take her along to this horrible party. And she really didn’t have a single suitable thing to wear.

About the Author

With over 10 million copies sold, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Jill Mansell writes irresistible and funny, poignant and romantic tales for women in the tradition of Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella and Jojo Moyes. She lives with her partner and their children in Bristol, England.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on December 30, 2016

Title: Lord Sebastian’s Secret

Author: Jane Ashford

Series: The Duke’s Sons, #3

ISBN: 9781492621621

Pubdate: January 3, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

He’s hidden this shameful secret all his life…

Lord Sebastian Gresham is a battle tested soldier and brilliant strategist.  Yet all his life he’s had to hide his complete failure to decipher letters. In his own mind, he’s just stupid. What a miracle it is that he’s found the perfect bride.

Lady Georgina Stane is beautiful, witty, and brilliantly intelligent. Sebastian is head over heels in love, proud as a peacock, and terrified. But if she finds out his secret, he’ll lose her love forever.

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A Note from Jane

Dear readers of The Duke’s Sons series,

We’ve reached volume three, Lord Sebastian’s Secret, out on January 3. The military Gresham brother’s story turned out to be quite a romp. On a visit to his betrothed’s family, Cavalry major Sebastian faces a plethora of impertinent pugs, ubiquitous younger sisters, and a prospective father-in-law dedicated to ancient Saxons and arcane philosophy. Very much not Sebastian’s forte, for several reasons. Fortunately, there’s the lovely Georgina, who makes any amount of adaptation and effort worthwhile. Sebastian would do anything for her, and he very nearly does!

I really like the Gresham family. I’m feeling sad right now as I finish the fifth and final volume about them. I kind of hate to let them go. Should I consider revisiting the clan in future? Hmm. Is there anyone from the stories you’d really like to see again? Get in touch and let me know.

And thanks so much for reading!

Jane Ashford

Excerpt

Sebastian closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. He could all too easily picture the astonishing news that he had eloped running through his family—the letters flying back and forth, the disbelief and consternation. The surreptitious brotherly smirking. An image of his mother’s astonished face made him wince.

“Some people think I don’t care about convention,” muttered the marquess. “Not true. And this was too much. An elopement!”

“Except that it wasn’t, Papa,” Georgina pointed out. “It was an unfortunate accident. I think you might have had more faith in my character.”

Frowning at the floor, the older man said something too softly to be heard. Sebastian thought it might have been, “It wasn’t you I was worried about.”

“The duchess is sending your brother,” said Georgina’s mother. She tried to speak blandly, but Sebastian got a clear sense of a woman getting the better of an argument at last.

The marquess glared at the group with a mixture of defiance and contrition.

“Which brother?” Sebastian asked.

“Randolph,” supplied his hostess.

Sebastian groaned softly. If anything could have killed his appetite at this point, the news that a brother had been dispatched to sort him out would have done it. He supposed this was his mother’s idea of just retribution for what she probably characterized as “antics.” She would have known that he would never elope.

If she’d had to send a brother, she could’ve drafted Robert. He’d have made a joke of the whole matter and charmed everyone so thoroughly that they saw it the same way. Alan or James might have refused to be embroiled in such a tangle at all. Nathaniel was still on his honeymoon. Mama couldn’t order him and Violet about quite so easily, anyway.

Randolph, though. Sebastian nearly groaned again. Randolph was usually glad for an excuse to take a few days’ leave from his far-northern parish. And he positively delighted in helping. Sebastian supposed that was why he’d become a parson. Part of the reason. He’d also been asking “why” since he could speak. According to family legend, that had been the first word Randolph learned. Sebastian certainly remembered being followed about by a relentlessly inquisitive toddler.

Nathaniel, a responsible six-year-old, had become so tired of saying he didn’t know that he’d taken to making things up. Sebastian still sometimes had to remind himself that discarded snakeskins were products of reptilian growth rather than intense surprise. Sebastian smiled. Randolph had spent several months trying to startle snakes out of their skin after that tale.

Then Sebastian’s smile died, and he put down his last sandwich. Randolph would revel in Mr. Mitra and the marquess’s lectures on reincarnation. There would be no end to his questions, or to the incomprehensible discussions after the ladies had left the dinner table. Sebastian only just resisted putting his head in his hands.

Georgina was looking at him, though, her expression anxious. He tried a reassuring smile. From her response, he judged that it was only marginally effective. He bolstered it, vowing to deal with Randolph. He would face anything to save her distress.

Georgina stood, holding her still half-full plate to her chest. “I believe I’ll go to my room now,” she said. “I’m quite tired.”

Her father looked guilty, her mother approving. Sebastian wondered at the determination on her face. It seemed excessive for a walk up a few steps. Was her leg hurting? One look at her father told him he would not be allowed to assist her to a bed.

Night had deepened by the time Georgina managed to hunt down Hilda and corner her in a little-used reception room, where she’d apparently been holed up for a good while, judging from the cake crumbs. Georgina stationed herself between her youngest sister and the door and confronted her with hands on hips. “Have you lost your mind?” she demanded.

For a moment, it seemed that Hilda might deny everything, but then she slumped back on the sofa and let out a long sigh. “I only meant to leave you overnight, but everything went wrong from the very first. Whitefoot didn’t like being led. He jerked the rein right out of my hand and ran away. I had to take your Sylph to the Evans farm before I could chase after him. It took hours before I got him there as well.” She paused and looked indignant. “Emma abandoned me! She turned tail and rode home. And she’s been practically hiding in her bedchamber ever since.”

“Perhaps she feels a sense of remorse for having done something absolutely outrageous,” Georgina suggested.

Hilda wrinkled her nose. “Well, we came back first thing the next morning to get you.”

“That does not excuse…”

“And you were gone!” Hilda actually dared to look reproachful. “As if you’d vanished into thin air.”

“Thick mud, more like,” said Georgina.

“If you had just waited, or only walked a little way along the trail, we would have found you. And there wouldn’t have been such a very great fuss. Why didn’t you? How could you be so clumsy as to fall into a gully?” Hilda cocked her head. “I never even knew it was there.”

“Don’t even dream of blaming this on me!” Georgina gazed at her sister. They were alike in coloring and frame, but apparently their minds ran on entirely different paths.

 

About the Author

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Western on December 29, 2016

Title: Blazing Hot Cowboy

Author: Kim Redford

Series: Smokin’ Hot Cowboys, #2

ISBN: 9781492621508

Pubdate: January 3, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Western

Synopsis

He’s all the heat she’ll ever need.

Lauren Sheridan’s return to Wildcat Bluff after the death of her husband is bittersweet. Thirteen years have passed since she set foot in the place that’s always held her heart…and the sizzling memories of her high school sweetheart.

Kent Duval has it all. A proud rancher and volunteer firefighter in the small town of Wildcat Bluff, he’s missing only one thing from his life: passion. Kent last saw Lauren Sheridan when she was sweet sixteen and they were head-over-heels in love. Now she’s back, spunky daughter in tow, and he no longer knows which way is up. As the heat between them builds, Kent can’t help but wonder if past flames can be rekindled and second chances really do exist.

Amazon * B&N * iBooks

From the Author

Kim Redford: I’m excited to share one of my favorite cowboy characters!

Stagecoach (1939) is a culturally significant film directed by John Ford and based on Ernest Haycox’s short story, “The Stage to Lordsburg” (1937). A group of strangers join forces as they survive a stagecoach ride through dangerous Apache territory. The Ringo Kid (John Wayne) breaks out of prison to seek justice for his murdered father and brother, but his horse goes lame and he ends up on the stage as a prisoner of Marshal Curly Wilcox (George Bancroft). The Ringo Kid takes a fancy to Dallas (Claire Trevor), who was run out of town by the “Law and Order League”. As the trip progresses, the Ringo Kid’s skills are vital in saving lives, and he asks Dallas to marry him. The Ringo Kid represents the West’s indomitable spirit of overcoming great odds and a checkered past to begin a new life on a sprawling ranch.

He’s one hero who inspired my Smokin’ Hot Cowboys series of contemporary cowboy firefighter novels.

Excerpt

In Wildcat Bluff County, Texas . . .

Kent Duval joined other firefighters in front of a burning barn. He wasn’t wearing much firefighter gear, so he’d pump water and roll hose from the booster while another volunteer used the nozzle to wet a perimeter around the structure.

Streams of water hit the building and steam rose along with smoke as Kent and the other first responders fought to bring the blaze under control. Even so, the fire quickly expanded in size as it ate up oxygen. Soon the wooden barn was fully engaged and pumping smoke. Flames surged higher into the sky. They kept up the water barrage, beating back the blaze despite the orange-and-yellow flames spitting and licking and clawing to take back what was lost. Every fire had its own personality. This one reminded Kent of a dangerous wild bull.

And just when he thought they had the blaze contained, a piece of shake-shingle roof was ripped off by the wind and whipped across firefighter heads to land in the adjacent pasture. Flames immediately set the dry grass ablaze, and a line of fire headed straight for the nearby house at Twin Oaks.

“Watch my pump!” When Kent got a nod of understanding from another firefighter, he took off running, hoping he could stomp out the fire with his cowboy boots before it took hold and swept away from them.

He got ahead of the blaze, but the flames were quickly consuming the grass. He stomped hard, making a little headway, but he quickly realized he wasn’t able to do enough fast enough. And the other firefighters couldn’t leave the barn. He’d have to call for backup, but he feared the engine couldn’t get there in time.

Just as he pulled his cell phone out of his pocket, he heard Lauren calling to him. He glanced up. She’d crossed the road, dragging a heavy fire extinguisher in each hand, up to the barbwire fence. He could’ve cheered because she might just have saved the day.

He pocketed his cell, ran over to her, grabbed the canisters, and set them down on his side of the fence.

“Hold up the barbwire and I’ll crawl under,” she said as she went down on her knees.

“Lauren, I don’t want you in danger.”

“I’m not letting that fire get anywhere near my daughter at Twin Oaks.” She lay down and started to crawl on her stomach under the fence.

He quickly raised the bottom strand of wire so she wouldn’t tear her clothes or scratch her back.

Once she was on the other side, she grabbed a can and dragged it toward the leading edge of the blaze.

He used the black strap to hang the other fire extinguisher over his shoulder and caught up. He tried to take the canister from her, but she gave him a no nonsense look.

“Two of us are faster than one,” she said. “I remember how to use these cans, so let’s get to it.”

He grinned, loving her sassiness even as he wanted to keep her safe. He knew better. This was his Lauren, and she didn’t back down for nothing or nobody. “Let’s do it.”

Together, they got out in front of the fire and started spraying the potent chemical on the blaze, leaving a trail of yellow. They continued to relentlessly douse the flames till nothing was left except charred grass. When their fire extinguishers were empty, they tossed them aside, and then stomped on the crisp grass to make sure there were no hot embers left that might reignite.

Finally, Kent picked up one empty canister and hung it from his shoulder by the strap before he put the other strap over his free shoulder. He couldn’t resist leaning down and giving Lauren a quick kiss.

“Don’t you know I’m too hot to handle?” she teased, chuckling with a sound caught somewhere between delight and relief.

“Guess I’m looking to get burned.”

“I think we’re both a little on the scorched side.” She pointed toward the barn. “But that building took the brunt of it.”

He looked in that direction. He felt a vast sense of comfort when he saw the old barn was nothing more than a pile of black rubble with a red-orange glow of banked embers here and there. He glanced back at the blackened patch of pasture. He’d been cocky tonight—maybe because being with Lauren had made him feel like Superman. He knew better. You could never count on a fire doing what it was supposed to do, and particularly not when it was a raging bull of a blaze.

He clasped Lauren’s hand and threaded their fingers together. “Guess you’re a Wildcat Bluff volunteer firefighter all over again.”

She squeezed his hand. “I feel like I’ve never been gone.”

“Let’s get you home.”

“Twin Oaks will look mighty good.”

But Kent hadn’t been thinking about that place. He’d been thinking about his own farmhouse on Cougar Ranch.

 

About the Author

Kim Redford is an acclaimed author of Western romance

novels. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos for inspiration. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard. Visit her at kimredford.com.

GoodreadsAuthor Website * Twitter

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Posted in Giveaway on December 20, 2016

To end up a wonderful year, I’m participating in one more Giveaway Hop.  Depending on the number of entries will decide how many books I give away this time around.  I haven’t figured out what books I will giveaway – so it will be a mystery to you (and me!).  It will be relatively clean (no erotica, but the books could have some love scenes).  It might even be non-fiction, you never know what I might decide to unearth from my towering TBR pile.

Thank you to all my followers, new and old, for making 2016 a great year.

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Make sure to visit the other blogs participating below!



Posted in Giveaway, Interview, memoir, nonfiction, Spotlight on December 18, 2016

WALKING THE LLANO

  A TEXAS MEMOIR OF PLACE

by

Shelley Armitage

 

Genre: Eco-Memoir / Nature

Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press

Date of Publication: February 15, 2016

Number of Pages: 216

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When American explorers arrived in the Texas Panhandle, they dubbed the region the “Great American Desert.” Its rough terrain appeared flat, dry, uninhabitable. Later, cell phone towers, oil rigs, and wind turbines added to this stereotype. Yet in this lyrical ecomemoir, Shelley Armitage charts a unique rediscovery of an unknown land, a journey at once deeply personal and far-reaching in its exploration of the connections between memory, spirit, and place.

Armitage begins her walk by following the Middle Alamosa Creek thirty meandering miles from her family farm to the Canadian River. Growing up in the small llano town of Vega, Texas, she finds the act of walking inseparable from the act of listening and writing. “What does the land say to us?” she asks as she witnesses human alterations to the landscape—perhaps most catastrophic the drainage of the land’s most precious water source, the Ogallala Aquifer.

But the llano’s wonders persist: colorful mesas and canyons, vast flora and fauna, diverse wildlife. While meditating on the region’s history, Armitage recovers the voices of ancient, Native, and Hispano peoples as interwoven with her own: her father’s legacy, her mother’s decline, a brother’s love.  The llano holds not only the beauty of ecological surprises but a renewed kinship in a world ever-changing.

Reminiscent of the work of memoirists Terry Tempest Williams and John McPhee, Walking the Llano is a soaring testimony to the power of landscape to draw us into greater understanding of ourselves and deeper connection with the places we inhabit.

Amazon * University of Oklahoma Press

 

 PRAISE FOR WALKING THE LLANO

Both an intensely lyrical and intimate scrapbook of familial history and a uniquely sublime travelogue of the American Southwestern landscape” A Starred review from Kirkus

“. . .an enticing mix of memoir, nature study and the hunting of ghosts. [ Walking The Llano] is a testament to the value of slowing down and watching where you are going.” Ollie Reed, The Albuquerque Journal

. . .[Armitage] is an explorer, and from her book we learn much about people who settled [the llano] and those who must now make gutwrenching decisions about modern methods of energy extraction. . .a perfectly balanced memoir.” Kimberly Burk, The Oklahoman

“With a cleareyed appreciation for landscape and our place in it combined with uncluttered flowing writing, Armitage establishes her place in the tradition of the best American nature writing.” Mark Pendleton, INK

“Once you’ve ambled into the lyrical, evocative pages of Shelley Armitage’s ‘Walking the Llano’, the Plains will never seem plain again.” William deBuys , Author of A Great Aridness: Climate Change and the Future of the American Southwest

“Shelley Armitage’s prose is as poetic as it is intelligent. She masterfully weaves together her personal story with the narrative of the Llano, and she does so in a way that begs the question of what lies ahead for the people and the land she loves. If literature is a study of the human heart—and it is—then Walking the Llano is a quiet masterpiece.” BK Loren, Author of T heft:A Novel and Animal, Mineral, Radical: Essays

“In Walking the Llano, Shelley Armitage does for the Staked Plains what John McPhee did for the Northern Plains in Rising from the Plains. She carefully mines the history, character, and geology of the Llano Estacado and combines it with a compelling personal narrative to create an account that flows with lyricism, authenticity, and wisdom. A splendid and cleareyed book.” Nancy Curtis – Coeditor of Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the West

What kind of research did you have to do for your book?

As the book grew, I found I could bring together oral history, memory and a lifetime of interest in the natural world. I interviewed local folks about history, events and their memories of the area and also consulted university historians and archaeologists. I took a course on memoir at the UNM Writers’ Summer Conference in Taos, NM and continued research on key scholarly works on geology, geography, archaeology, history, Native American culture and the pastores. My study and certification as a  Texas Master Naturalist also was a great help.

As an academic, I love the detective work and the opportunity to incorporate a number of other scholars and writers I had read during my time teaching environmental writing and literature courses. These helped me build the case for eco­wisdom as the book became a meditation on the meaning of place.

Anything surprising you found in conducting your research?

All of it surprised me because just along this modest drainage to the Canadian had been incredible history: the major 19th century American expeditions (Abert, Whipple), major Spanish entradas (Coronado, Onate), ancient trade routes and meeting/trading places, important spring sites in a high desert landscape (one spring still flowing after 400 years), sites of Clovis and Folsom people, connections to one of the primary and oldest industries in North America ­ the Alibates Flint Quarry, last used by the Comanche.

While the book is factual and well­researched, I use the evidence of this earlier life to discuss cultural adaptations and beliefs, keys to understanding our places and our relationship to them. One thing that sticks in my mind is discovering ancient petroglyphs and pictographs on private land, sites few people would ever see. These were sacred places. What are they now? Can they be sacred to us as well? Can we recognize that we are a part of our landscapes not separate from them?

The book treats the complexities of change and consequent decision­making about our responsibilities to the natural world, questions about whether the “spirits of place” can survive development, whether concepts of beauty must be revised, how memory and story are acts of conservation.

Are there under-represented groups or ideas in your book?  If so, discuss.

Absolutely!  One of the main thrusts of Walking is to give voice to a landscape much ignored or maligned and similarly to forgotten peoples who lived there: ancient cultures, Natives such as the Antelope Creek Phase people, the Comanche and Kiowa, Hispanos who were among the first permanent settlers.  I also wanted to raise the issue of facile acceptance of the wind turbine industry which despite its green advantages can also threaten land and wildlife as well as transform places into commercial settings.  The “use” of land rather than our being in a place is an idea I address through witness and learning from the world view of other dwellers, like Native people, on the llano.  The book is an interweaving of ideas and experiences in the present, through time, and in memory.  I posit memory not as living in the past but as a way of sending meaningful stories forward.

How long did it take you to put together your memoir?

I began the hikes around 2005 and published the book in 2016. During that time, I wrote and rewrote the manuscript several times, almost giving up on it. During the hiking and discoveries, both my mother and brother passed away, like my father years before them. One of the underlying themes in the book is loss in the face of gain. Though we take this for granted now, I was unnerved, as a woman, by the prospect of being solely responsible for the farm and decisions about it as I eventually inherited it ­ alone. But the kinship I felt because of the experiences with the land comforted me and made me feel part of something larger again.

Why do you feel it’s so important to share the story of this part of the country?

My hope was to write a literary work that would not just present facts and reflections about the area, but one that would also speculate lyrically on how we can feel akin to a landscape and thus care about, protect and conserve it. We learn more about ourselves and others by rediscovering our relatedness within and to places. The book is about a specific place, long marginalized and ignored, but also a narrative and meditation that is universal in meaning. As the Navajo have observed, beauty is about being “emplaced.” My hope is that no matter where our places, we may focus our attention on them, their care. We’ve understood, perhaps most profoundly through the distant photographs by astronauts of the earth as a living, breathing cell. Up close and personal, we have a chance to realize ourselves as part of this livingness. As Eckhart Tolle has said, we can learn from nature’s stillness, its being. The degree to which we respect and care for our places is the degree to which we care for others and ourselves. The llano comforted me as well during its own changes and my personal losses.

What do you hope readers most get out of your book?

I hope readers find an appreciation and heightened awareness of what it means to truly be part of our environment rather than think of it as “other.” Thought the book is about a part of the southwest, my hope is that the ideas and experiences resonate across lives and places. As Wendell Berry has said: “There are no unsacred places, only desecrated places.” I’d like my readers to be transported and perhaps transformed by what I hope is lyric prose, so full of the cadence of poetry and how poetry means lastingly ­ how it teaches us, affects us. And that story and memory about our places and our interrelationships are acts of conservation that are not so much about a past as about the shape of the future. It’s also a book about accepting change, seeing the beauty in it and about how adventure and loss are complexly mixed. During my hikes I lost all of my family. The book chronicles those deep sadnesses and how we may grow from them, also the challenge of a woman alone inheriting a farm she must learn to manage and care for.

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

To be named a Distinguished Fulbright Chair of American Literature at the University of Warsaw, representing the United States but also bonding with fellow world citizens, learning about their country. This is the highest Fulbright honor and I am still amazed that someone like me who was a graduate of state universities and a small town high school could have the privilege of such a position.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

I love this question because years ago I saw a New Yorker cartoon which I clipped and put on my office door.  Two men are in a cemetery looking at a friend’s grave and one comments to the other:  “Well, he published but he perished.”

Dr. Shelley Armitage is Professor Emerita from University of Texas at El Paso where she taught courses in literature of the environment, women’s studies, and American Studies.  She is author of eight award winning books and 50 scholarly articles.  She resides in Las Cruces, New Mexico but still manages her family farm outside of Vega, Texas.

Armitage grew up in the northwest Texas Panhandle in Oldham County.  She owns and operates the family farm, 1200 acres of native grass—once part wheat and milo—bordering Interstate 40 on the south and near the Canadian River breaks on the north.  Armitage shared this landscape from her childhood on, riding with her father and grandfather to check crops and cattle and later jogging and more recently walking the farm roads.  Though most of her adult life has been spent away from the Panhandle as a university professor, Armitage has always returned to the “farm” which offered until recently a 360-degree view of earth and sky.  Wind energy farms, oil and gas, microwave towers, and strip mining have greatly altered her childhood landscape.

Throughout her distinguished university career, Armitage’s professional life offered her a connection with landscape. Because of senior Fulbright teaching grants in Portugal and Finland, a Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Literature in Warsaw, a Distinguished Fulbright Chair in American Studies in Budapest as well as research, writing, and teaching in Ethiopia, the American Southwest, and Hawai’i, place has taken on special meanings.  As the Dorrance Roderick Professor at University of Texas at El Paso and a Distinguished Senior Professor in Cincinnati, she decided in her most recent book to write about the meaning of home place as connected to the land’s own ecological and human stories.

As the holder of three National Endowment for the Humanities grants, a National Endowment of the Arts grant, and a Rockefeller grant, Armitage nevertheless prizes a recent recognition from the United States Department of Agriculture most highly.  Commended for her “commitment to the spirit, principles, and practices” of the Conservation Reserve Program, Armitage has restored the farm to grassland in an effort to heal fragmented landscapes by recreating wildlife corridors and habitat.  Like the fragmented narratives of stories lost, she says: “If we could read the land like a poem, we might more intimately learn from it, understand what it says of natural and human cycles—and that sometimes uneasy relationship between them.”

Author Website * Amazon Author Page * Facebook * Goodreads

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December 12 – December 21, 2016

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

12/12 Excerpt A Novel Reality
12/13 Review Reading By Moonlight
12/14 Author Interview Books and Broomsticks
12/15 Scrapbook Page Chapter Break Book Blog
12/16 Review Forgotten Winds
12/17 Excerpt The Page Unbound
12/18 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
12/19 Review Country Girl Bookaholic
12/20 Scrapbook Page Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
12/21 Review Hall Ways Blog

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