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

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS

by

CAMILLE DI MAIO

 

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Historical / Family

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: May 16, 2017

Number of Pages: 334

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

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

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

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Praise for Before the Rain Falls

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

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

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

Excerpt from Before the Rain Falls, Chapter One

By Camille DiMaio

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Truth Days.

And it would start by visiting Eula.

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

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

THE ADVENTURES OF MISS VULPE

A Coming of Age Story for Adults

by

MARIA ELENA SANDOVICI

 

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

Date of Publication: April 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 160

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

 

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

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Giveaway, romance, women on May 12, 2017

Synopsis

She’s never had a home
Growing up in a troubled foster home, Mercy Dane knew she could never rely on anyone but herself. She’s used to giving her all to people who don’t give her a second glance, so when she races to Blessings, Georgia, to save the life of an accident victim, she’s flabbergasted when the grateful town opens its arms to her. She never dreamed she’d ever find family or friends—or a man who looks at her as if she hung the stars.

Until she finds peace in his arms
Police Chief Lon Pittman is getting restless living in sleepy little Blessings. But the day Mercy Dane roars into his life on the back of a motorcycle, practically daring him to pull her over, he’s lost. There’s something about Mercy’s tough-yet-vulnerable spirit that calls to Lon, and he will do anything in his power to make her realize that home isn’t just where the heart is—home is where their heart is.

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Excerpt

From Chapter One

From childhood, Mercy Dane viewed Christmas Eve in Savannah, Georgia, like something out of a fairy tale. The old, elegant mansions were always lit from within and decorated with great swags of greenery hanging above the doorways and porch railings like thick green icing on snowy white cakes.

The shops decked out in similar holiday style were as charming as the sweet southern women who worked within. Each shop boasted fragrant evergreens, plush red velvet bows, and flickering lights mimicking the stars in the night sky above the city.

And even though Mercy had grown up on the hard side of town with lights far less grand, the lights in her world burned with true southern perseverance. Now that she was no longer a child, the beauty of the holiday was something other people celebrated, and on this cold Christmas Eve, she no longer believed in fairy tales. So far, the chapters of her life consisted of a series of foster families until she aged out of the system, and one magic Christmas Eve with a man she never saw again. The only lights in her world now were the lights where she worked at the Road Warrior Bar.

The yellow neon sign over the bar was partially broken. The R in Road was missing its leg, making the word look like Toad. But the patrons who frequented this bar didn’t care about the name. They came for the company and a drink or two to dull the disappointment of a lifetime of regrets.

Carson Beal, who went by the name of Moose, owned the bar. He’d been meaning to get the R fixed for years, but intention was worth nothing without the action, and Moose had yet to act upon the thought.

Outside, the blinking neon light beckoned, calling the lonely and the thirsty into the bar where the beer was cold and the gumbo and rice Moose served was hot with spice and fire.

Moose often took advantage of Mercy’s talent for baking after she’d once brought cupcakes for Moose and the employees to snack on. After that, she’d bring in some of whatever she’d made at home. On occasion Moose would ask her to bake him something special. It was always good to have a little extra money, so she willingly obliged.

This Christmas Eve, Moose had ordered an assortment of Christmas cookies for the bar. When Mercy came in to work carrying the box of baked goods, he was delighted. Now a large platter of cookies graced the north end of the bar.

The incongruity of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” playing in the background was only slightly less bizarre than the old tinsel Christmas tree hanging above the pool table like a molting chandelier.

Because of the holiday, only two of his four waitresses were on duty, Barb Hanson, a thirtysomething widow with purple hair, and Mercy Dane, the baker with a curvy body.

Mercy’s long, black hair was a stunning contrast to the red Christmas sweater she was wearing, and her willowy body and long, shapely legs looked even longer in her black jeans and boots. Her olive skin and dark hair gave her an exotic look, but being abandoned as a baby, and growing up in foster care, she had no knowledge of her heritage.

Barb of the purple hair wore red and green, a rather startling assortment of colors for a lady her age, and both women were wearing reindeer antler headbands with little bells. Between the bells and antlers, the music and cookies, and the Christmas tree hanging above the pool table, Moose had set a holiday mood.

Mercy had been working at the bar for over five years. Although she’d turned twenty-six just last week, her life, like this job, was going nowhere.

It was nearing midnight when a quick blast of cold air suddenly moved through the bar and made Mercy shiver. She didn’t have to look to know the ugly part of this job had just arrived.

“Damn, Moose, play some real music, why don’t ya?” Big Boy yelled as the door slammed shut behind him.

Moose glared at the big biker who’d entered his bar. “This is real music, Big Boy. Sit down somewhere and keep your opinions to yourself.”

The biker flipped Moose off, spat on the floor, and stomped through the room toward an empty table near the back, making sure to feel up Mercy’s backside in passing.

When Big Boy suddenly shoved his hand between her legs, she nearly dropped the tray of drinks she was carrying. She knew from experience that he was waiting for a reaction, so she chose to bear the insult without calling attention to it.

As soon as he was seated, Big Boy slapped the table and yelled at the barmaids. “One of you bitches bring me a beer!”

Moose glanced nervously at Mercy, aware that she’d become the target for most of Big Boy’s harassment.

Barb sailed past Mercy with a jingle in every step. “I’ve got his table,” she said.

“Thanks,” Mercy said, and delivered the drinks she was carrying. “Here you go, guys! Christmas Eve cheer and cookies from Moose!”

One trucker, a man named Pete, took a big bite out of the iced sugar cookie. “Mmm, this is good,” he said.

“Mercy made them,” Moose yelled.

Pete shook his head and took another bite. “You have a fine hand with baking. I’d ask you to marry me, darlin’, but my old lady would object.”

Mercy took the teasing with a grin. The men at this table were good men who always left nice tips. In fact, most of the patrons in the bar were men with no family or truckers who couldn’t get home for Christmas. Every now and then, a random woman would wander in to have a drink, but rarely lingered, except for Lorena Haysworth, the older woman sitting at the south end of the bar.

She’d been coming here since before Mercy was born, and in her younger days she and Moose had been lovers before slowly drifting apart. She’d come back into his life a few months ago and nightly claimed the seat at the end of the bar.

Barb took the first of what would be multiple beers to Big Boy’s table, along with a Christmas cookie and a bowl of stale pretzels, making sure to keep the table between them.

Big Boy lunged at her as if he was going to grab her, and when she turned around and ran, he leaned back and laughed.

Mercy returned to the bar with a new order and waited for Moose to fill it.

“Sorry about that,” Moose said, as he glanced toward the table where Big Boy was sitting.

Her eyes narrowed angrily. “How sorry are you? Sorry enough to kick him out? Or just sorry his money is more important to you than me and Barb?”

Moose’s face turned as red as his shirt. “Damn it, Mercy. You know how it goes,” he said, and pushed the new order across the bar.

She did know. The customer was always right. Trying not to buy into the turmoil, she picked up the tray and delivered the order with a smile.

The night wore on with Big Boy getting drunker and more belligerent, while Barb and Mercy dodged his constant attempts to maul them, until finally, it was time to close.

It was a few minutes before 2:00 a.m. when Moose shut down the bar. There were only three customers left. Big Boy, who was so close to passed out he couldn’t walk, Lorena, who was waiting to go home with Moose, and a trucker who’d fallen asleep at his table.

Mercy headed for the trucker, leaving Moose to wrestle Big Boy up and out.

The trucker was a small, wiry man named Frank Bigalow who fancied himself a ringer for country music star Willie Nelson. He was dreaming of hit songs and gold records when Mercy woke him.

“Frank. Frank. You need to wake up now. We’re closing.”

Bigalow straightened abruptly, momentarily confused as to where he was, then saw Mercy and smiled.

“Oh. Right. Sure thing, honey. What do I owe you?” he mumbled.

“Twelve dollars,” she said.

Bigalow stood up to get his wallet out of his pants then pulled out a twenty. “Keep the change and Merry Christmas,” he said.

“Thanks,” she said, and began bussing his table as he walked out of the bar.

Moose had Big Boy on his way out the door, and it was none too soon for Mercy.

She handed Moose the twenty when he returned. “Take twelve out. The rest is mine,” she said, and pocketed the change Moose gave her.

Within fifteen minutes, the bar was clear and swept, the money was in the safe, and Barb and Mercy were heading for the door.

“Hey! Girls! Wait up!” Moose said, then handed them each an envelope, along with little bags with some of Mercy’s cookies. “Merry Christmas. We’re not open tomorrow so sleep in.”

“Thank you,” Barb said, as she slid the envelope inside her purse.

“Much appreciated,” Mercy added, as she put her envelope in one of the inner pockets of her black leather bomber jacket. It was old and worn, but it was warm.

Then she grabbed her helmet and the cookies and headed out the door behind Barb and just ahead of Moose and Lorena. Once outside, she paused to judge the near-empty parking lot, making sure Big Boy and his Harley were at the motel across the street.

The air was cold and the sky was clear as she stashed the cookies, then put on her helmet and mounted her own Harley. Seconds later the quiet was broken by the rolling rumble of the engine as she toed up the kickstand, put the bike in gear, and rode off into the night.

The empty streets on the way to her apartment were a little eerie, but she was so tired she couldn’t work up the emotion to be scared. The streetlights were draped with Christmas garlands and red bows, but they were all one blur as Mercy sped toward home.

A city cop on neighborhood patrol saw her, recognized the lone bike and biker, and blinked his lights as she passed him.

She waved back and kept going.

When she stopped for a red light and realized she was the only person on this stretch of street, she didn’t breathe easy until the light turned green, and she moved on.

Finally, she was home. She eased up on the accelerator as she rolled through the gates of her apartment complex and parked the motorcycle beneath a light in plain view of the security cameras. She ran up the outer stairs to the second level and down the walkway to her apartment carrying her helmet and the cookies. No matter how many times she’d done this or how many times she’d moved since it happened, the fact that she’d once come home late at night to find out she’d been robbed, she never felt safe until she was in the apartment with the door locked behind her.

She tossed the helmet onto the sofa and took the cookies into the kitchen. Curious as to how much of a bonus Moose was giving this year, she was pleased to see a hundred-dollar bill.

“Nice,” she said, and took it and her night’s worth of tips to the refrigerator, opened up the freezer, and put the money inside an empty box that had once held a biscuit mix.

She wasn’t sure how much money she had saved up, but last time she’d counted it had been over two thousand dollars. It should have been in a bank, but these days, banks cost money to use, and she didn’t have any to spare, so she froze her assets.

The place smelled of stale coffee and something her neighbor across the hall had burned for dinner. She was tired and cold, but too wired to sleep, so she went to her bedroom, stripped out of her clothes, and took a long hot shower.

She returned to the kitchen later to find something to eat. One quick glance in the refrigerator was all the reminder she needed that she still hadn’t grocery shopped. She emptied what was left of the milk into a bowl of cereal and ate it standing by the sink, remembering another Christmas in Savannah, her first all on her own.

About the Author

SHARON SALA has over ninety-five books in print and has published in five different genres. She is a seventime RITA finalist, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Book Reviews, and five-time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, romance, women on April 19, 2017

Title: My Kind of You

Author: Tracy Brogan

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Series: Trillium Bay, #1

Synopsis

Emily Callaghan never expected to spend another summer on Wenniway Island. Yet here she is, back in her quaint northern Michigan hometown of Trillium Bay, divorced, flat broke, and dragging along her precocious twelve-year-old. It’s a simple arrangement: Emily, a house flipper, will renovate one of her grandmother’s rental properties in exchange for a much-needed loan. Once a wild child, the reformed Emily also hopes to remodel her reputation and show her family she’s all grown up.

But coming home is never simple. Emily’s dad is more distant than ever. Her younger sister is dating a much older man, and Emily’s worried it’s a mistake. The cottage remodel grows increasingly daunting. And then there’s handsome out-of-towner Ryan Taggert…

Ryan has his own family drama. A smart, ambitious land developer, he’s come to Wenniway to rescue his father from the grips of a new girlfriend and protect their family business. But he’s quickly distracted by gorgeous, witty Emily Callaghan.

There’s no denying the attraction between Emily and Ryan. But will their conflicting interests destroy any chance at love? Or will Emily finally get the chance to rebuild her life—and repair her heart?

Interview with Tracy

1)    In My Kind of You, your heroine Emily Callaghan is returning to her small hometown of Trillium Bay in Michigan. Is this out of necessity or is she longing to get back to her roots?

She has actually been avoiding her roots! Or at least her father. They had a falling out when she ran away at nineteen to get married, but now she is back out of necessity. Emily is a house flipper and a bad business decision left her broke. Her grandmother has hired her to renovate a cottage back in Trillium Bay. Emily realizes this job was just a way for her Gigi to get Emily back home, but she’s willing to give it a try. Because she is THAT broke.

2)    She has a lot going on in her life including running her own business and raising a pre-teen. Does she think she has time for romance?

Emily is a busy, independent woman who has convinced herself she doesn’t have time for romance. Once bitten, twice shy. Her disastrous first marriage left her cautious and a little suspicious. She’s had some boyfriends but none of them have really gotten past her defenses.

3)    How does the handsome Ryan Taggert change her mind?

Ryan and Emily have a shared goal that causes them to work together. Time, proximity, great sexual chemistry, and things were bound to head in the direction. Neither one of them thought a fling was a great idea, but moonlight over the lake has a way of making people forget that.

4)    What first draws Ryan to her and visa versa?

Ryan is immediately attracted to Emily’s beauty, and as he gets to know her, he falls for her determination to do the right thing, and her self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s also drawn to warm, genuine affection he sees between Emily and her daughter. Of course, he doesn’t realize more of this at the time. He thinks his feelings are just about manly instinct. But we readers know better.

As for Emily, she fights her attraction to his “business-like hotness” because she really has no place in her life for romance, and she doesn’t want more heartbreak. When she finally decides to trust him, things go awry and he must prove himself to her all over again. Does he succeed? Of course he does, but the fun of romance novels is finding out HOW he succeeds.

5)    What is Emily’s family’s reaction to a new man in her life?

They keep their relationship a secret for quite a while because Emily’s family is so distracted by the relationship her younger sister Lilly has fallen in to. That one is pure scandal so Ryan and Emily are able to fly under the radar for a bit.

6)    You are really well known for writing realistic characters and settings that readers can relate to. Do you draw your inspiration for your writing from real life? Is there anyone in your life similar to your characters in Trillium Bay?

Thank you for saying that! I’m glad to hear it. As for inspiration and real life scenarios, I use everything around me. My friends and family all know that anything they say can and will be used in a book someday. I love taking a rather ordinary moment from life and writing about it in a way that will make people laugh. I also entertain myself by creating eccentric characters who do and say things that I would secretly like to say or do. There’s always at least one character in every one of my books who is brutally blunt or who has no filter.

7)    What can readers expect next from this series?

Readers can expect love, laughter, nostalgic family moments, and insightful growth from the characters. In this series they’ll find a May-December romance, a father and daughter learning to forgive each other, hot kisses at the top of a lighthouse, secret rendezvous, a crazy librarian, a martini-swilling grandmother, and a bee-keeper. Oh, and also horses, buggies, boat, bicycles, bats, the evil Mahoney sisters… yeah, there’s a little bit of everything in this series. I hope readers enjoy it!

About the Author

Tracy Brogan is an award-winning, bestselling novelist who writes fun and funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love, and also lush historical romance full of royal intrigue, damsels causing distress, and the occasional man in a kilt. She has been nominated by Romance Writers of America for a prestigious RITA® Award for her debut novel, Crazy Little Thing, and was nominated by RWA for two Golden Heart Awards. She’s a Booksellers Best Award recipient, along with two Golden Quill Awards in both contemporary and historical romance. Unapologetically devoted to romance, Tracy lives in Michigan with her often-bemused husband, their gloriously above-average children, and their two intellectually challenged dogs.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, women on April 18, 2017

Title: Back to Your Love

Author: Kianna Alexander

Series: Brothers of TDT, #1

ISBN: 9781492646983

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis

Xavier Whitted, CPA and city council candidate is excited to get away to the Crystal Coast for his best friend’s wedding. He is shocked when he runs into his high school sweetheart there, the only woman he ever truly loved.

Dr. Imani Grant is just about ready to open her own dermatology practice when a serious wrench is put in her plans—in the form of Xavier Whitted. Old feelings resurface along with old secrets from the past. Imani isn’t willing to go there, until Xavier starts a new campaign: win Imani back—no matter what it takes.

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There are lots of ways to say “I love you,” but which actions are part of Imani and Xavier’s love language?

Most Saturdays Imani wakes up to breakfast in bed.

Excerpt

Xavier stepped to the glass door and swung it open. “After you, Imani.”

She stepped outside, and immediately lamented the loss of air conditioning. The air was thick with the heat and humidity customary for early summer in North Carolina. The tart aroma of the salty waters lying just beyond the hotel property permeated the air. Lush tropical plants filled the small courtyard, some blooming with bright-colored flowers. In the center of it all, three stepping stones led to a wrought iron bench positioned among the leaves and vines.

He sat, patted the empty space next to him. “Come sit with me. I won’t bite unless you ask me to.”

The sexy wink he threw her made her traitorous nipples pebble again beneath her dress. Ignoring her body’s reaction as best she could, she eased into the spot.

Gently, he draped his arm around her bare shoulders.

The feel of his touch radiated through her, the growing warmth inside her far exceeding the temperature of the sultry June night. Being in his arms again didn’t feel foreign, the way it should have after so many years. His touch felt as natural and familiar as her own heartbeat. She noticed the rapid pace of her breathing, and wondered if he noticed it as well.

The low timbre of his voice broke the silence. “If I’m making you uncomfortable, just say so. That’s the last thing I want to do, baby.”

So he had picked up on her nervousness. She shook her head. While her mind told her not to let him get behind her defenses, her heart didn’t want him to withdraw his touch. Instead, she answered him, but kept her eyes directed at her lap. “No. It’s all right.”

“If you say so. I brought you out here to talk, so let’s talk. What have you been up to these last ten years, other than growing more beautiful?”

She felt the smile creep over her face at the smoothly-delivered compliment. “Let’s see. I did undergrad in biology at Spelman, then med school at Meharry, then my dermatology certification—”

“Whoa. Are you telling me all you’ve been doing for the last decade is being a student?”

She shrugged. “I guess so. But I had a goal in mind, and hard work and lots of school were the only ways to reach it.”

That drew a low, rumbling chuckle from him. “I can’t say I’m surprised, you always were intelligent and determined. I’m glad to see you’re accomplishing your goals.”

She took a chance and raised her gaze to his. His rich, dark eyes held the same sincerity she’d detected in his words. “Thank you, Xavier. I appreciate that.”

A silent moment passed between them, their gazes connecting.

When his scrutiny became too intense, she broke the silence. “So, uh, what have you been up to? I heard from Mama that you’re doing a lot of good work in the community.”

A broad smile spread across his face. “I’m glad to know Ma Alma speaks of me so highly. When I’m not in the office handling the books for my clients, I volunteer at a youth center in the old neighborhood, and I do a little work at Second Harvest Food Bank from time to time. I’m no saint, but I do what I can for the community.”

Listening to him talk about his good works in such a modest way, she realized he still had a wonderful heart. In the few weeks she’d been home, her mother had gone on and on about Xavier’s activism. As an all-star athlete and scholar in high school, he could have chosen any career path he’d wanted. But instead of taking some high-paying, high-profile position, he’d chosen to make a modest living so that he could give back to the community that had nurtured him as a child. Yes, Xavier Whitted was a rare bird, and if the look in his eyes were any indication, he was ready to build a nest.

There, beneath his searching gaze, she could feel her very soul opening up. Once upon a time, she’d been certain she’d marry this man. Now, she felt like an inexperienced adolescent. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t look away from him.

The heartbreak she’d suffered at Xavier’s hands had colored her perception of men. He’d been her first love, and had shown her a first glimpse of real pain. Maybe she should thank him for that, because it had allowed her to focus on her goals, rather than be consumed by chasing after a suitable mate.

“Imani, I’m going to kiss you. Is that all right?”

She heard his soft words, and even as her brain yelled at her to back away before she lost her heart to him a second time, no words would come. All she could manage was to look into the endless pools of his eyes.

An instant later, his lips touched hers. The sweetness of his kiss and the buttery softness of his lips made her eyes shut. Her body overtook her brain once again, and she pressed herself closer to him. He pulled her close, surrounding her with his strong arms, and she loved it, God help her. The kiss deepened, and as his skilled tongue stroked against the interior of her mouth, she felt her insides melting down into her shoes like hot wax.

About the Author

Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She’s a voracious reader, history nerd and craft fanatic. Kianna lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, and a collection of well-loved vintage 80’s Barbie dolls.

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, suspense, women on April 17, 2017

THE GRAVE TENDER
By Eliza Maxwell

  Genre: Women’s Fiction / Psychological Suspense

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing

Date of Publication: April 11, 2017

Number of Pages: 248

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A chilling psychological suspense novel, The Grave Tender explores the dark boundaries people cross to save loved ones, and the limits of family bonds tested by the deepest of betrayals.

Endless questions from a shadow-filled East Texas childhood haunt Hadley Dixon. People said her mother, Winnie, was never quite right, but with one single, irreparable act, life as Hadley knew it was shattered. The aftershocks of that moonlit night left her reeling, but the secrets and lies had started long before

When a widowed and pregnant Hadley returns years later, it’s not the safe harbor she expects. The mysteries surrounding a local boy’s disappearance remain, and the townspeople still whisper about Hadley’s strange and reclusive Uncle Eli—whispers about a monster in their midst.

But Hadley’s father and grandmother, the cornerstones of everything safe in her world, avoid her questions. If Hadley stays here, will she be giving her children the family they need or putting their lives in danger?

The hunt for answers takes a determined Hadley deep into the pine forests, in search of sunlight that will break through the canopy of lies long enough to reveal the truth.

“The Grave Tender will grasp you in its hooks from the beginning as you try to figure out the truth behind each character, because no one is truly what they seem … Addicting, easy to read, and hard to put down.”Shelbi LeMeilleur, Insite Magazine

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Please welcome author Eliza Maxwell to StoreyBook Reviews!  We wanted to get a feel for Eliza and her writing and so we hope this interview with her answers all those burning questions!

Where did your love of writing come from?

I’m a mom, and honestly, if I could get anyone to listen to me at home, I probably wouldn’t feel the need to write stories to send out into the world.  I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but sometimes I do feel a bit like I’d imagine the zookeeper at the monkey house feels.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

The Grave Tender was my first book, and the toughest part was learning a system that worked for me through good old fashioned trial and error.  There are as many different ways to write a book as there are voices to write them, and the advice of others can only take a person so far.  I took the long, hard road with The Grave Tender, but I hope I learned a few things along the way, about myself and about how to build a book.

What literary character is most like you?

I’ve always had a fondness for Agatha Christie’s Miss Jane Marple.  I think I’d be perfectly content in an English village, gardening, gossiping, and solving the occasional murder.  English villages do seem to have more than their fair share of dead bodies around, at least in fiction, don’t they?  Yes, when I grow up, I definitely want to be Miss Jane Marple.

What does your perfect writing spot look like? Is that what your ACTUAL writing spot looks like?

When the weather is willing, I prefer to write outdoors.  My amazing husband has helped me turn our deck into a bit of an oasis, and that’s my favorite place to write, hands down.  Occasionally though, when I need to leave the distractions at home, I like to sit at a bench in the local cemetery with a pen and notebook.  A bit odd, maybe, but it’s peaceful and it feels connected to the kinds of stories I write.

If you could time travel, what time period would you first visit? 

Funny, when I think of time travel, the first thing I’d love to do would be to go back and meet my family when they were young.  I’m fascinated by the idea that our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, each led unique lives long before we ever came on the scene and how those lives influence the generations that came after.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose and why?

British.  No hesitation.  I’d love to be able to get away with saying things like, “Cheeky bugger,” and “Bloody hell”.  In fact, I might go around saying nothing but that.  All day.  Every day.  Perhaps with the occasional, “Murder is never simple, Inspector,” thrown in for good measure.

What is your favorite quote?

“You’ve always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself.” –Glinda the Good Witch

Eliza Maxwell lives in Texas with her ever patient husband, two impatient kids, a budgie named Sarah, and a bird dog who lives a tortured existence.  She’s an artist and writer, an introvert and a British cop drama addict.  A former bookseller with a lifelong love of the written word, she can often be found barefoot on the front porch lost in a good cup of coffee and a great book.

Website *  Facebook * Twitter *  Goodreads * Pinterest * Amazon Author Page

 

 

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Grand Prize:The Bookworm Basket ($150 Value)

Signed paperback copy of THE GRAVE TENDER

$50 Amazon gift card

Plush decorative throw blanket (Smoke Grey)

Greatest opening lines of literature coffee mug

Taste of Texas Coffee variety pack

Ferrero Rocher Gift Cube

Library card socks

Paperback copy of THE LIFE WE BURY by Allen Eskens

Paperback copy of SISTERS ONE, TWO, THREE by Nancy Star

1st & 2nd Runners-Up:

Signed paperback copy of THE GRAVE TENDER

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4/10 Promo Margie’s Must Reads
4/11 Review Hall Ways Blog
4/12 Excerpt Missus Gonzo
4/13 Review Books in the Garden
4/14 Book Trailer CGB Blog Tours
4/15 Review Momma On The Rocks
4/16 Promo Books and Broomsticks
4/17 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews
4/18 Review My Book Fix Blog
4/19 Deleted Scene Texas Book Lover
4/20 Scrapbook Reading By Moonlight
4/21 Review Forgotten Winds
4/22 Playlist Blogging for the Love of Authors and Their Books
4/23 Promo A Novel Reality
4/24 Review The Page Unbound

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Posted in Children, Giveaway, Interview, women on April 7, 2017

ALMOST A MINYAN
by

LORI S. KLINE

ARTWORK BY SUSAN SIMON

  Genre: Picture Book / Jewish Traditions

Publisher: Sociosights Press
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Date of Publication: April 5, 2017

Number of Pages: 40

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Will she be the one to take Grandfather’s place?

According to Jewish tradition, a quorum of ten adults is required for public worship. Almost a Minyan traces the story of a young girl whose father and grandfather are regular participants in the town’s minyan – until her beloved Zayde passes on.

Without him, it is even harder for her father to find enough people to make a minyan. Then one day, he brings Zayde’s tefillin to his eldest daughter. A striking new addition to the diverse books movement, Almost a Minyan shares important Hebrew terms and religious concepts through a compelling and beautifully illustrated story for children.

Purchase from Sociosights Press

PRAISE FOR ALMOST A MINYAN

“A warmhearted introduction to coming-of-age in a worship community.” Kirkus Reviews

“A story of inclusion, belonging and equality. I loved the modern, egalitarian, and traditional values shared in this meaningful story. This is a wonderful modern story for our children and grandchildren!”  Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray, Congregation Shir Shalom, CT Founder of the Women Cantors’ Network

“A delightful read for girls and boys alike, this poetic family tale brings a wonderful sentimentality to daily Jewish prayers. Moreover, the beauty of the illustrations contributes additional warmth to this snapshot of Jewish life. A nice addition for all libraries and all ages.” Rabbi Jimmy Kessler, DHL, DD Congregation B’nai Israel, Galveston

 

What was your inspiration for writing Almost a Minyan?  Moving to Austin, where there was often difficult to gather the complete 10 Jewish adults to “make a minyan,”–from the large city of Pittsburgh, PA—where there are several morning minyans daily, gave me pause, as well as concern that we would lose our opportunity to transmit out traditions to our next generations.

What can you share with readers about minyans and Jewish traditions? I would say that, “community” is one of the basic pillars of the Jewish religion. Minyanim (plural of, “minyan”) require a gathering of 10 adult Jews in order to recite prayers. These prayers remind us and bind us to each other and as a community. Also, many of our traditions rely on gathering and engaging with each other. Our Tradition is replete with customs in which together we pray, celebrate, study, mourn and work together toward social justice.

What cultural value do you see in storytelling?

Stories serve as a natural means of transmitting traditions and values.  Nearly no one I know likes being told what to do, but in a story, one can glean…from the characters.

Are you a full-time or part-time writer?  How does that affect your writing?

I have the luxury of writing when the inspiration hits me, and socking away a manuscript for months or even years before rousing it from slumber.  This gives me a chance to step back from the writing and its cadence and more objectively read it.  I imagine that my life experiences over time also affect the manner in which my stories evolve into their final form.

What book do you wish you could have written?

Anything by Dr. Seuss.

What is something you want to accomplish before you die?

Lie on the beach in Hawaii, sipping a drink garnished with a paper umbrella, breathing in the ocean air and listening to the rhythm of the waves.

Do you have a mantra for writing and/or for life?

“Yes, you can.”

Lori Sales Kline heralds from Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, PA, which hosts a wonderfully rich Jewish community that fueled her love for Jewish tradition, ritual and practice at home and at, “the shul.”  Following her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Texas in Austin, Lori chose to make Austin her home, largely due to the spiritual connection she felt in the close-knit Austin Jewish community.  In her spare time, Lori enjoys camping, celebrating Judaism with her husband and son, and friends. She previously authored the children’s picture book,  Josiah’s Dreams.

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Artist Susan Simon

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March 24-April 7, 2017

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3/24 Illustration Preview CGB Blog Tours
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3/26 Author Interview My Book Fix Blog
3/27 Review Momma On The Rocks
3/28 Guest Post Texas Book Lover
3/29 Promo Missus Gonzo
3/30 Review Syd Savvy
3/31 Illustration Preview Reading By Moonlight
4/1 Review The Page Unbound
4/2 Author Interview Margie’s Must Reads
4/3 Review Books and Broomsticks
4/4 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
4/5 Illustration Preview Chapter Break Book Blog
4/6 Review Books in the Garden
4/7 Author Interview StoreyBook Reviews

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, romance, women on March 30, 2017

 

Title: The Lilac Bouquet

Author: Carolyn Brown

Release Date: March 28, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Synopsis

Come hell or high water, Emmy Jo Massey will have a wedding. After three generations of Massey women with children out of wedlock, she wants the whole town of Hickory, Texas, to witness the legitimacy of her union with Logan Grady. But dream weddings aren’t cheap. So she accepts a highly lucrative stint as a home health assistant to retired realtor, and town recluse, Seth Thomas—a decision her great-grandmother Tandy is dead-set against.

Seth isn’t happy about it, either. The eighty-two-year-old doesn’t want a “babysitter”—much less a Massey—something he makes clear when Emmy arrives at his house, an empty mansion built for the woman who broke his heart. But as Emmy stays and the two eventually open up to each other, she learns the reason behind a feud between Seth, Tandy, and Logan’s grandfather Jesse Grady that goes back six decades. She also uncovers a secret that forever changes how she sees her past and her future…

Interview

Hello to everyone at StoreyBook Reviews. Thank you so much for inviting me to make a stop here today to talk about my 84th published book, The Lilac Bouquet. It’s actually the first book I ever attempted to write over forty years ago. It didn’t sell—not at that time and not the second time when I revised it. Looking back I do believe with all my heart that the story was waiting on Emmy Jo to be born so that she could bring out the big Hickory, Texas secret that was more than sixty years in the making. But I understand you have some questions for me? I’ve got coffee in hand and donuts (with maple frosting) right here in a pretty platter, so let’s get started.

In The Lilac Bouquet, your heroine Emmy Jo Massey is on a mission. Tell us a little bit about her wedding goals.

Emmy Jo is determined to break the Massey curse—three generations of unwed mothers before she was born. A big wedding will show the whole town that she is indeed married and she intends to have that. But a wedding the size of what she wants is very expensive. When she’s offered a job as Seth Thomas’s assistant until his hip heals, it’s like winning the lottery. She’ll be able to pay for the wedding and her goal will be met. Even though her great grandmother, Tandy, throws a southern hissy fit about her working for Seth and her best friend comes close to disowning her, the wedding is that important to her. So she takes the job and then discovers that the wedding plans aren’t as important as figuring out what the secret between Seth, Tandy and her fiancee’s grandfather is all about.

Emmy Jo has been influenced heavily by the women in her family. Can you give us a rundown of these feisty Massey women? Do you have anything in common with any of them?

Tandy Massey, Emmy Jo’s great-grandmother, is full of sass even though she’s past eighty years old. She raised a daughter, Rose, back in the 30’s when it was way past socially acceptable. Then Rose had a daughter, Crystal, out of wedlock and left her with Tandy to raise. When Crystal was still in high school she got pregnant. She planned to marry her boyfriend but died when Emmy Jo was only a few days old. Living in a small town like Hickory, there’s no way to cover up a background like that. My mother was a single mother in the mid 50’s. My father had a problem with settling down to one woman so she walked away from the marriage. She was a strong, independent woman with a lot of spunk so maybe that’s where I got the inspiration for Tandy.

When Emmy Jo starts working for Seth Thomas, the town recluse, there is some major tension that erupts in Hickory. What should readers know about this infamous feud?

The folks in Hickory have known there was bad blood between Seth, Jesse and Tandy since they were all in high school. But not a single one of the three of them are willing to step up and tell the story. What happened back then set them each on a course that drove them apart for more than sixty years. Right up until Emmy Jo started digging into the past and got Seth to talking.

We also need some more info on Hickory, Texas. It seems like a great place to live, but there are also some … interesting characters that inhabit the area. Who are some of your favorite Hickory-ites? How do you create these characters? (Are they based on people you know?)

Hickory, Texas is a fictional town in north central Texas. It actually gets its name from an old country music song by Merle Haggard, “Hickory Holler’s Tramp” which was the inspiration for the original story that I wrote more than forty years ago. One incident that happened eighteen years before Seth was even born affected the lives of three people for the rest of those folks days on earth. Are they based on people I know? Not necessarily but any small town in Texas has a life blood of its own and that is sometimes fueled by gossip. The best way to feed gossip is to keep talking. The best way to kill it is to stop talking but then that’s when it becomes so enticing that everyone wants to know what’s going on. We have a saying around here. “Everyone knows everyone, what they’re doing, when they’re doing it, and where they’d doing it. They read the weekly paper to find out who got caught.”

Are you going to be returning to Texas anytime soon in your upcoming books?

Oh, yes. Most of my books are set in Texas. Authors tend to write what they know and I’m a Texan by birth. Even though Mama jumped over the Red River and raised me in Oklahoma, my Texas blood calls to me when I start to write. The Toughest Cowboy in Texas, the debut book in the Happy Texas Trilogy, is set in Happy, Texas and comes out May 30. The Strawberry Hearts Diner, a women’s fiction book is set in a fictional town of Pick, Texas, hits the market on July 18. And Long, Tall Cowboy Christmas, the second book in the Happy Texas Trilogy will be out Sept. 26. So keep your boots on folks, there’s more on the way.

Thank you again for the visit. Now let’s refill these coffee cups and have another donut before we turn out the lights on this party.

About the Author

Carolyn Brown is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, as well as a RITA finalist. She has written several beloved and popular romance titles, ranging from historical to contemporary to cowboy-themed. She and her husband live in Davis, Oklahoma. They have three grown children, and enough grandchildren to keep them young.

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Posted in romance, Spotlight, women on March 25, 2017

We are so excited to announce the tour for Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop by Isabella Louise Anderson!

 

“Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop is perhaps one of the most memorable stories I have ever read. The characters are a huge plus, but the main star was the wisdom hidden within this profound story.”

Get your copy today!

Amazon-US (Kindle and paperback) * Amazon-UK * Amazon-Canada * Barnes & Noble * Kobo * Goodreads

“Engaging, heart-warming, and full of romance, this one is bound to please readers.”

As the owner of a successful florist shop, Khloe Harper trusts her instincts. She has a strong bond with her family and friends, but after being betrayed by her last love, she’s kept herself at arms’ length from romance. When dashing entertainment attorney Derek Thomas walks into her store, Khloe’s interest is piqued. What at first seems like a business relationship quickly turns into romance, and Derek slowly plucks away the petals she’s been hiding behind. Just as Khloe lets down her guard, she discovers that Derek may not be worthy of her love after all.

Frumpy Connie Albright has a faux fascination with an imaginary man named Walt, thinking that by sending herself flowers from him she’ll feel less out-of-place with the “mean girls” she works with. When she comes face to face with her possible prince charming and thinking she might have a happy ending, when a truth is revealed, she wonders if she’ll ever have a Cinderella story.

A recently widowed senior, Gabby Lewis, isn’t ready to give up on love—which means releasing herself from survivor’s guilt and taking a chance on finding happiness and companionship again. After signing up for an online dating site for senior citizens, much to her surprise, she’s matched with Harry, an energetic and loving man, who quickly eases himself into her heart. Will Gabby take the leap of falling in love again, knowing it’s possible to have two loves of her life?

As each woman’s story develops through flowers and cards sent from Khloe’s shop during the Fall months, they begin to learn that love can only truly blossom when you trust your heart.

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“In Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop, author Isabella Louise Anderson weaves a delightful tale that follows three women’s journey of self-discovery and finding an unexpected second chance at love.”

“Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop is a wonderful novel about finding love and happiness that will leave a smile on your face.”

Isabella grew up with a book in her hand, and to this day nothing has changed. She focuses her time on featuring other writers on her blog, Chick Lit Goddess, along with organizing Goddess Book Tours, and is a member of the Romance Writers of America.

She lives in Dallas with her husband, enjoys spicy Mexican food, margaritas, gin on the rocks (with a splash of lime). She loves spending time with family and friends and cheering on the Texas Rangers. Not only is Isabella an author, she’s also a Scentsy consultant and hoarder.

Isabella is the author of The Right Design and Cards From Khloe’s Flower Shop. Her short story, “Meet Me Under the Mistletoe,” was featured in Simon & Fig’s Christmas anthology, Merry & Bright. She’s currently working on another book.

 

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Spotlight, women on March 2, 2017
~ All That Glitters by Liza Treviño ~
Book Tour – 1st to 10th March
 

Title: All That Glitters – A
Tale of Sex, Drugs and Hollywood Dreams

Author: Liza Treviño
Genre: Women’s Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Koehler Books 
Published Date: March 1, 2017
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1633933083
ISBN-13: 978-1633933088



 

Synopsis
Alexandria Moreno—clever, sexy, ambitious and, at times, self-destructive. She blazes a path from Texas to Los Angeles at the dawn of the 1980s to make her dreams of becoming an A-list Hollywood film director come true. She and her best friend arrive in Los Angeles with little more than hope and the determination to make it big. Alex, a beauty as dark and mysterious as her scarred heart, stands at the bottom of the Hollywood mountain looking up, fighting for her chance to climb to the top. Will her quest to live fast and take no prisoners on her way to success destroy her in the end?

All That Glitters is a women’s fiction Jackie Collins-type saga that introduces a strong, driven Latina heroine at the center of a rags-to-riches story spanning a decade of action. Along the way, Alexandria walks the fine line separating ambition and self-destruction, and discovers that some sacrifices will cost her everything.


What early readers are saying


“Treviño tells her story with wit, intelligence, and an undercurrent of sadness at the plight women face to make a name for themselves as human beings instead of strictly as women. Treviño may have cloaked her ideas in entertaining vignettes and snappy dialogue, but underneath is a bite that stays with you.”  — Jonathan Marcantoni, author and publisher of La Casita Grande Press.

“Liza has a way of taking you with her as she tells this very compelling story. She draws readers in with her as she describes scenes and characters with colorful detail and vivid imagination. This story is a testament to it’s title: it really glitters!”  —Reesha Goral, author, The Servant Boy

“With distant echoes of Jacqueline Susann’s Valley of the Dolls in the background, Alexandria Moreno, the protagonist of All that Glitters, chases after the allure of Hollywood, all the time substituting pills, booze and sex for genuine happiness. It is only after she reaches success that she has an awakening leading her to realize the emptiness of her aspiration, and finally accepting true love. Kudos to Liza Treviño for giving us this unique image of the New Latina! I urge reading All that Glitters. You won’t regret it.” —Graciela Limón, author


Excerpt

Los Angeles
Oscar Night, 1990

When did things start going wrong?
Alexandria Moreno gulped another swig of champagne from the bottle. She picked at its broken gold foil. It was the same stuff she used to buy back in the days when spending more than ten dollars on bubbly was an extravagance. Now she sat in the best limo money could buy, inching along the craggy hillside road waiting for her turn to put in an appearance at the first of many scheduled post-Oscar parties. She was obligated to dole out heartfelt hugs and kisses to any of the beautiful people who might want one. Tonight, everyone was going to want a piece of her. She was the girl of the hour.
Until recently, Moreno had been an unknown writer-producer. She rocked Hollywood, winning Academy Awards for Best Director and Original Screenplay for the lushly violent, low-budget film, Win or Lose. Moreno, widely considered a dark horse contestant in the Oscar race, was the first Hispanic woman to be nominated, and win.
Two golden statues for writing and directing lay on the limo’s floor and the vehicle glided to the top of Hollywood’s heights. Beyond the winding canyon road, the Los Angeles electrified grid shimmered like Moreno’s own personal cauldron of gold. She understood that more than just a movie had won tonight.
She had won.
So why doesn’t it feel better?
Why don’t I feel better?
Despite everything she’d done to reach this moment of glory, Alex understood that none of it mattered. Not one bit. No matter what happened to her, she was still alone and drinking the same convenience-store champagne.
“Want some of this blow, babe?” Nick sniffed and dropped his head back with a slight shake, giving the chemicals a little jumpstart in the brain he liked to say.
“No thanks,” she said, “I don’t want to mix tonight.” Alex turned her attention from the scrubby hillside to handsome Nick Sirianni sitting across from her, casually relaxed in his Armani tuxedo. Though he favored stiff Wall Street suits, Nick was always casually relaxed due to the fact that he was worth millions from a Hollywood Midas touch.
Alex heard Leonard Cohen’s gravel-rubbed, breathless voice floating faintly through the air, crooning his patented melancholy love proclamations, and she couldn’t help but let her eyes wander along Nick’s impeccably tailored suit. Her hands absently grazed the familiar bluish-purple marks on her wrists currently hidden under make-up.
Nick’s thin lips curled into a slow, understanding grin. “Fine, but I have some X for later, and I don’t care what you’ve taken already,” he said in a tone Alex had learned not to question. “I’ve got plans for you, babe.”
“I guess it’s gonna be a long night.”
“The longest ever.”
Alex could tell he had taken off. She absently twirled a lock of her black, shoulder-length hair.
“Hey,” Nick nudged her leg with his polished leather dress shoe, “let me see.”
“Not right now.”
“I’m not asking, Alley Cat. Let me see. And do it right.”
Alex locked eyes with him, but she relented.
She found the fold of her straight wraparound skirt of crepe and beading that draped to the floor. She peeled it back and uncrossed her legs beneath the gown, giving Nick a peek-a-boo of her
narrow ankle and high-heeled foot. She loosened her knees, proving to Nick she’d followed his instructions.
Nick looked her over and loosened his collar.
“Good girl,” Nick said and shifted toward her, the leather seat creaking beneath him. He knelt between her legs and softly traced the length of her pale grey stocking from her shoe, along her leg, up to the matching garter, and over her supple brown thigh exposed between the garter and its straps. Nick kissed her just above where the stockings ended. He breathed in deeply and peered up to her.
“I gotta have a taste, baby,” he said and dipped his handsome face between her thighs.
Alex sighed and sank back into her seat.
How did things get so out of control? Isn’t tonight supposed to be everything I’ve worked for? Everything I’ve sacrificed for? Or, what I’ve sacrificed everyone for?
Alex knew she had purposely cut off anyone who had the misfortune of ever giving a damn about her. And there were such people.
It certainly wasn’t Nick. She’d made her deal with this particular devil nearly a year ago. Things between them were comfortably tawdry. Nick owned her. She knew it. He knew it. They had an understanding.
A flicker nudged her: so many things that could have been. She took another swig of champagne, letting the alcohol’s fizz and burn push everything back into the darkness.
Alex registered Nick’s velvet tongue expertly stroking her crevices, and she couldn’t help but give him all the access he wanted. She felt him smile when she dropped her head back and settled deeper into the limo’s bench. The car halted forward and the lazy, swaying sax turned up the tension in Cohen’s sonic plea for love.
Alex peered beyond the cracked sunroof, searching the starless LA sky for some answers. A corner of the tinted sunroof caught her faint reflection and she saw a vacant-eyed, thirty two-year-old wasted stranger. She’d never known herself less than at this moment. Her passion for work was burned out and, even tonight, she couldn’t muster excitement. Now, everything was just a game requiring too much effort.
She shut her eyes tight and sucked in air sharply, breathing in the car’s mixture of broken-in leather and artificial lemon scents. She clasped at Nick’s broad shoulder, wringing the expensive jacket sleeve as if it were nothing more than a cheap cocktail napkin. After a moment, she relaxed.
Nick brushed a sweet kiss on her inner thigh before he returned the thin black crepe material of her skirt to its full length. He slid back to his seat across from her and smoothed his hair back.
“Damn, you taste good, honey.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“We’re next in line, ma’am,” the chauffeur’s voice crackled through the intercom. The limo moved into place with a definite stop.
Nick grinned. “It’s show time, Alley Cat.”
The cool night air took Alex by surprise as she waded into the sea of people and flashing cameras. She staggered, unsure she could move.
“One foot in front of the other,” Nick said in his soft voice through her hair. “I’ll get you a drink once we get inside.”
Alex smiled serenely and nodded. She focused on the live band somewhere in the distance belting out a Sinatra standard. Her eyes found the majestic Griffith Observatory looming in the distance, hovering above the white party tents.
Inside, the camera flashes kept coming.
“And here we are,” Nick offered as he swiped a couple of champagne flutes from a roving waiter’s tray. “This should get ya right, babe.”
Alex took the glass automatically. Another bulb flashed near her and she saw blue sprinkles. She regained focus quickly, but then her stomach dropped. Across the room was the last person she wanted to see.

◊◊◊

Jamie Douglas stood out in any crowd. Angular looks punctuated by oceanic blue eyes, a naturally lean athleticism, and down-to-earth boyishness had made him a reigning movie star around the world for almost twenty years. And right now, Alex saw Jamie’s eyes find hers through the crowd. When they caught each other, a flash sparked between them like one of those popping camera bulbs. Jamie’s surprised look gave way to a lopsided grin; it was a look so familiar to her.
Alex registered Nick snake his arm around her thin waist and she broke her gaze from Jamie.
“Okay, Alley Cat, time for our victory lap.”
“Perfect timing,” she said.
Timing—everything always came down to timing. It seemed to her that her timing had always been off. Not crazy off, just that extra millisecond that pushed everything either too early or too late. And now, she understood that it was too late.
Suddenly, she couldn’t bear to go through with the whole charade of tonight. Maybe, she couldn’t even bear to go through with the whole charade of her life any longer. Just leave, a soft voice whispered inside her head. There’s nothing written you have to stick around. It’s practically programmed into your DNA that you’ll be checking out of this world early.
All at once, Alex understood that simple fact. She, Alex Moreno, would leave Los Angeles tonight as anonymously as she had arrived nearly a decade earlier. She knew that wasn’t an entirely accurate account of how she’d started.
Now I’m alone, and that’s just how I knew things would always turn out.

About the Author

Liza Treviño hails from Texas, spending many of her formative years on the I-35 corridor of San Antonio, Austin and Dallas.  In pursuit of adventure and a Ph.D., Liza moved to Los Angeles where she compiled a collection of short-term, low-level Hollywood jobs like script girl, producer assistant and production assistant.  Her time as a Hollywood Jane-of-all-trades gave her an insider’s view to a world most only see from the outside, providing the inspiration for creating a new breed of Latina heroine.






Catch Up with Liza Treviño on her Website

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