Robin's Reward--Cover

 

Synopsis

Bonita Creek’s librarian Robin Bennett is heartbroken after being abandoned by her husband, Thomas. The mysterious and handsome Jeff Clarke arrives unexpectedly and touches Robin’s life with his wit and warmth. Then, without warning, Jeff’s harsh words and abrasive actions scare her off, and Robin’s hope of finding true love withers again.

Just when it seems Robin and Jeff might have a future, Susan Stinson, whose cruel taunting has plagued Robin since they met as young teens, decides Jeff should be hers, not Robin’s. Susan’s anger and jealousy escalate dangerously. Her vindictiveness threatens the foundation of Jeff and Robin’s young relationship.

Robin’s journey through the peaks and valleys of her life meanders along the twists and turns of new challenges. Is a relationship which began with both parties harboring secrets destined to survive? Can they move past their troubles and the obstacles in their path to find love and happiness together? When their pasts rear their ugly heads, Jeff and Robin must use their faith to remain strong and true. But will it be enough for them to embrace a life of love, trials, and blessings . . . together?

Robin’s Reward, a sweet romance with great characters, is as refreshing as a walk among flowers.”  – Author Rebecca H. Jamison, Sense & Sensibility: A Latter-Day Tale.

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Excerpt

I’m as hot and sticky as the center of a freshly-roasted campfire marshmallow, Miss Praise.” Perspiration trickled past Robin’s sunburned neck, under her collar, and down her back. Her blouse was plastered to her skin.

“I’m not feeling very feminine or lady-like in this condition, if you catch my drift. This brings us to my next question. What was I thinking starting up with this garden renovation project on the hottest March afternoon ever recorded in Bonita Creek? Am I nuts? Wait—don’t answer that.”

Some sympathy from Miss Praise, like purring or even winding herself around Robin’s legs, would’ve been comforting. Instead, the elderly tabby was dozing comfortably in her cozy quilt-lined basket on the shaded porch. Robin was drained from tangling with her vintage hydrangea bush for the past four hours.

She’d read gardening was great exercise, but it gave Robin’s thoughts too many chances to wander. She dreaded those dark, dreary spaces in her mind permanently occupied by unhappy memories and heart-wrenching regrets. Since she wasn’t accomplishing much anyway, she released her shovel to take a break with a refreshing glass or two of her favorite iced tea. She straightened up and stretched her aching arms over her head.

“I’m parched, how about you? Want something cold to drink?” She spoke in the direction of the faded gray cat. Apparently, Miss Praise had heard enough of Robin’s whining. The cat yawned, stretched, flicked her tail, and hopped daintily out of her basket. She lumbered down the brick path to seek refuge in the peaceful back garden. Naturally, Robin hadn’t expected Miss Praise to respond, but talking to the cat helped her feel connected to her Grandma Estelle. The older woman had passed on a few years ago and Robin still ached for her grandmother’s presence. She kneaded her fatigued lower back with her knuckles and sighed deeply.

As she untied the ribbon of her straw hat and shook out her damp curly hair, Robin sensed someone’s gaze. A prickly feeling caused her to rotate her body where she came face-to-face with an unfamiliar—but attractive—man. A hint of amusement lit up his clean-shaven face as he stood on the walkway in front of her garden gate. When the stranger chuckled, Robin’s damp cheeks flamed scarlet. She wondered how long he’d been standing there listening to her grunt and groan and, well, whine.

Since he couldn’t possibly have seen Miss Praise, he probably assumed Robin had been talking to herself. Swell. Just another example of the truckload of awkward moments in life when Robin wished she could vanish on demand. Speaking through clenched teeth, she attempted to use humor to cover up her self-consciousness.

“Instead of breaking your neck staring at me, how about making yourself useful by helping me dig up this stubborn hydrangea?” Her embarrassment grew when the stranger’s sole response was a chorus of boisterous laughter. Lord, please get me out of here—now! Robin’s humiliation took over her common sense, and her sole goal was to flee. Grabbing her garden hat, she slammed it onto the gate post as she wrenched off her work gloves and tossed them on the ground near her birdbath. The sound of the man’s hearty laughter echoing in her ears brought her lifelong dislike of being the object of teasing and taunting racing to the surface.

Like most school children, she’d suffered through her share of teasing and even some bullying. Truth be told, she was still occasionally bullied by a former classmate, Susan Stinson, almost ten years after they’d graduated. Robin had expected—and hoped—in her current stage of life, halfway between twenty-five and thirty, she would’ve overcome this affliction. The scorching feeling in her cheeks told her otherwise. I so do not want to deal with this guy.

Attempting to give the illusion of self-confidence, Robin lengthened her spine and held her chin high as she stalked toward her cottage. In the safety of her cottage’s interior she’d find the solace and peace she was seeking. Far too often in the past she’d allowed her pride and confidence to be battered by a male. Okay, one male in particular. She vowed to handle her reaction in the current situation differently. She was determined to spare herself one more millisecond of humiliation. Today I’m going to stand up to my tormentors. All right, so maybe this stranger isn’t exactly tormenting me. Still, everyone knows laughing at a lady isn’t polite.

Robin wasn’t going to stand there and let some stranger, however handsome he might be—and this guy was definitely above-average in the looks department—laugh at her in her own garden. Hot, briny tears stung her eyes. Time seemed to slow down, and she couldn’t make it to the front door fast enough. Embarrassing incidents from her not so distant past charged to the forefront of her mind as she made her way up the front porch steps.

At the front gate, Jeff froze. He’d offended her. His body felt as if he’d just finished running five miles at a training pace, as it had been since he’d first happened upon the woman. His heart thundered in his ears when he’d first seen her, his vision honed in on a lovely brunette. She was hard at work in her garden on such an oppressive afternoon. He’d never seen anyone so focused on one task. She appeared to be in a frenzy, trying to free the roots of a bush from the sun-dried, hardened soil.

He had to admit, she looked as if she were accustomed to hard work. Strong, fit arms and legs peeked out from her short-sleeved blouse and khaki shorts. She sported a wide-brimmed hat and appeared unafraid of hard work if the sweaty sheen covering her neck and face were any kind of evidence. Smudges of dirt adorned her elbows, knees, and—he couldn’t help but notice—shapely calves.

He’d been walking through the streets surrounding his rental home. Historical architecture was one of his hobbies, and he was checking out the architectural styles located on the streets in this older section of Bonita Creek, California. He’d already identified Craftsman, Victorian, Italianate, Tudor, cottage, ranch, and bungalow style homes. His mind, locked on his thoughts, was jarred when he heard a frustrated voice asking why she was trying to renovate her garden on this hot afternoon. The voice held such conviction he stopped to see if the speaker was seeking his personal opinion. When he realized the sun-kissed gardener was alone in the garden, he became enthralled by her movements and the timbre of her voice.

Unsure of how long he’d been staring, Jeff was jerked out of his trance when the woman turned around and challenged him to come into the garden to help her dig up the bush. Embarrassed he’d been caught staring, his natural reaction was to laugh. Now the woman rushed away from him toward the door of the cottage dominating the center of the property.

This scenario was not unfolding as he wanted. He blamed his complete lack of understanding of women and their mysterious ways for this latest gaffe. Now you’ve done it. You are clueless, Clarke. He needed to come up with something witty and wise to redeem himself.

Otherwise, he’d lose a chance to meet this fascinating gardener who had his curiosity.

About the Author

junemccraryjacobsAward-winning author, June McCrary Jacobs, was the winner of Cedar Fort Publishing’s 2013 Holiday Tale Contest for her debut novella, ‘A Holiday Miracle in Apple Blossom’. ‘Robin’s Reward’ is her first full-length novel, and is set in her favorite location in California—the Mendocino coastal region. This book is the first installment of the ‘Bonita Creek Trilogy’.

June’s original sewing, quilting, and stitchery designs have been published in over one hundred books, magazines, and blogs in the past few years. When she’s not writing, reading, or sewing, June enjoys cooking, walking, and visiting art and history museums. She also enjoys touring historic homes and gardens and strolling around the many historic Gold Rush towns in the Sierra Nevada foothills. In the summertime you can find June at a variety of county fairs and the California State Fair admiring the sewing projects, quilts, and handiwork other inspired seamstresses, quilters, craftspeople, and artists have created.

June enjoys connecting with readers, authors, aspiring writers, bloggers, designers, sewers, quilters, and crafters.

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Giveaway

June is giving away two signed copies of ‘Robin’s Reward’ on her website. (United States residents only. No purchase necessary.)

The Rafflecopter contest will end on May 31st, and June would like to invite readers to enter for a chance to win one of these paperbacks.

June is also allowing me to give away 1 eBook to one of my followers! This is open internationally

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Posted in Crime, Guest Post, International, Political thriller on December 21, 2014

It is always exciting to feature the thoughts of an author here on StoreyBook Reviews and today I give a warm welcome to author Adrian Churchward who is the author of Moscow Bounds.  I have to say I agree with the title of his guest post, that the truth is stranger than fiction..just look at the news today and some of the crazy stories we hear each day.  You can’t make some of that stuff up!

 

“Truth Really is Stranger Than Fiction”

After being an attorney focused on the truth for so many years, what’s it like to write fiction, and create characters out of nothing?

This is an interesting question, if only because the harsh reality of common law jurisdictions like the USA and UK is that we have an adversarial system, where the search for “truth” takes second place to the emphasis on destroying the opposing side’s credibility.

And so far as writing fiction is concerned, I suspect that few authors create characters out of nothing. Most of the characters in Moscow Bound are composites of people I met, primarily because the real-life activities I saw in Russia were so interesting. I have been reading Russian literature and about Russian culture all my life, but nothing prepared me for the realities on the streets of Moscow. To date, it has been the most fascinating period of my life.

If I were to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my experiences readers would find it impossible to suspend their disbelief.

An example:

In my novel, General Pravda of military intelligence is summoned to his superior’s office, where he’s ordered to deliver a man that Pravda removed from the secret city of Arzamas for medical reasons. The office is in a former Soviet Ministry building off Staropanksy Street, behind the Supreme Court, a few minutes’ walk from the Kremlin. I describe the room as containing a 22-seat redwood table in the middle, ten chairs either side, a large map of the world on one wall; two of the other walls clad with brown wood panelling and the fourth wall comprising a line of windows with their blinds permanently closed and a threadbare green carpet resembling a relic from the days of Catherine the Great.

This was based on a real office I visited in 1987/9, also located off Staropansky Street. It was occupied by a Soviet Ministry bureaucrat who’d accepted that the days of communism were over. It was not too difficult for me to gain access with the right connections and sufficient dollars–no “aspiring entrepreneur” could be bribed with roubles. In the real room, however, were also fifteen antiquated red telephones, one for each Soviet republic. The bureaucrat told me they were used during Stalin’s 1930 show trials, when high-ranking Kremlin members would call judges during trials to instruct them on what verdict and sentence to pronounce. In the most important cases, Stalin would personally use phones like these to call the court and order the death penalty for some hapless wretch. Soviet apologists deny this ever happened, but there is plenty of authoritative literature that establishes the contrary.

I had read about telephone law in my early Soviet studies, but that didn’t stop me from freezing when I saw these fifteen instruments, innocuously arranged on the table – waiting to convey their messages of death.

It’s a cliché, but truth really is stranger than fiction, for as Lord Byron said in his poem Don Juan:

‘Tis strange – but true; for truth is always strange;
Stranger than fiction; if it could be told,
How much would novels gain by the exchange!
How differently the world would men behold!
How oft would vice and virtue places change!
The new world would be nothing to the old,
If some Columbus of the moral seas
Would show mankind their souls’ antipodes.’

 

moscow bound

Synopsis

When wealthy Russian Ekaterina Romanova asks Scott Mitchell, a young English human rights lawyer, to find the father she’s never met, she can’t foresee the danger they will both find themselves in. Ekaterina believes her father has been languishing for decades without trial in the Gulag system. Scott, though he’s already being intimidated by the authorities for prosecuting Russian war crimes, agrees to help. What they don’t expect is General Pravda of Russian military intelligence, who hinders their investigation at every turn. Though he’s an advocate of transparency in a corrupt and complex bureaucracy, Pravda has a secret that he needs to protect. Before long, lawyer and client are on the run for a murder they didn’t commit. As they descend into the Hades that is the world of international realpolitik, and as decades-old secrets crumble, they each must reconsider their identity in this new world.

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About the Author

adrian ChurchwardBetween 1984 and 1998 Adrian Churchward lived and worked in Moscow, Budapest and Prague as an East-West trade lawyer, representing British, American, and German corporations. During this period he became fluent in Russian, and proficient in
translating Russian commercial and legal texts into English. He was one of the few Western lawyers working in the day-to-day arena of President Gorbachev’s liberalization process of perestroika and glasnost, and which ultimately resulted in the collapse of communism and disintegration of the Soviet Union. In 1991, he witnessed the abortive coup against Gorbachev, and in 1993, he was again present in Moscow when Yeltsin ordered the shelling of the Russian parliament building, aka the “The Russian White House.” Moscow Bound is his first work of fiction. He has also co-written and co-produced a short film called Paranoia which was shown at the Budapest Film Festival in September 2013. He now lives in London, has two daughters, three grandsons and a cat that eats furniture.

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