Posted in Book Blast, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on January 29, 2018

Searching for Gertrude

Historical Romance
Self Published (January 22, 2018)
Print Length: 278 pages

Synopsis

While growing up in Germany in the 1930s, Rudolf falls in love with the girl next door, Gertrude. He doesn’t care what religion Gertrude practices, but the Nazis do. When the first antisemitic laws are enacted by the Nazi government, Gertrude’s father loses his job at the local university. Unable to find employment in Germany, he accepts a position at Istanbul University and moves the family to Turkey. Rudolf, desperate to follow Gertrude, takes a position as a consulate worker in Istanbul with the very government which caused her exile. With Rudolf finally living in the same city as Gertrude, their reunion should be inevitable, but he can’t find her. During his search for Gertrude, he stumbles upon Rosalyn, an American Jew working as a nanny in the city. Upon hearing his heartbreaking story, she immediately agrees to help him search for his lost love. Willing to do anything in their search for Gertrude, they agree to work for a British intelligence officer who promises his assistance, but his demands endanger Rudolf and Rosalyn. As the danger increases and the search for Gertrude stretches on, Rudolf and Rosalyn grow close, but Rudolf gave his heart away long ago.

About the Author

I grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

 

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Posted in Book Release, e-books, Giveaway, romance, Sale on January 29, 2018

The Ghost Groom by Jennifer Youngblood

Synopsis

A tough football player, a devoted sister, and the most difficult choice of all …

After a long, painful search that involved legions of duds, Ariana Sanchez, fitness guru and gym owner, finally meets the perfect guy when she least expects it. Not only can Rennen tear up the dance floor, but he has these adorable blonde curls and compelling green eyes, specked with gold. When Ariana’s around him she feels oh, so alive! And the best part is that he’s a perfect gentleman and easy to talk to. Their first encounter leaves Ariana floating on air, thinking there’s hope for her love life after all … until she learns that Rennen is the celebrated rookie who’s taking her brother’s position as starting running back for the Titans. Too bad she’s totally loyal to her brother and has to hate him now!

Rennen Bradley, the Ghost, has worked long and hard to get the opportunity to shine as the starting running back. Sure, he feels bad that Ace Sanchez was injured and that he’s taking his place on the team, but that’s how the game rolls.

Rennen never expects to fall for Ariana, and it throws him for a loop when he realizes she’s Ace’s sister. But Rennen’s not going to let a simple complication like that come between him and the woman of his dreams. He understands Ariana’s reservations—heck, even admires her loyalty to her brother. But Rennen’s used to waging uphill battles. Abandoned as a child, Rennen learned a long time ago that you have to fight tooth and nail for anything you want in this life. And he wants Ariana, heart, body, and soul!

Caught between loyalty and love, will Ariana choose her family or her heart?

 

Excerpt

This was getting ridiculous. Justin was more handsy than an octopus. “Stop touching me,” Ariana warned.

He laughed. “Come on, babe. Don’t be so stiff. You know you like it.”

“No, I don’t like it,” she countered. “No one likes being pawed.” Revulsion churned in her gut as his eyes went to her chest. An incredulous laugh bubbled in her throat. Was he really ogling her chest, right here in front of her? What a jerk! As soon as she got home, she was going to contact Heart to Heart and put in a complaint. They really should be more diligent in making sure people were truthful in their profiles. Justin was nothing like he’d pretended to be, and it was obvious he was only after one thing … and it wasn’t a long-term relationship. She tensed, clenching her fists. “Hey, buddy. My face is up here.”

He snorted out a chortle. “Yeah, but you’ve got something else going on down there. For a little girl, you’ve got a nice rack.”

She froze amidst the dancing couples surrounding them. “What did you just say to me?”

He laughed. “You heard me. Lighten up.” He grabbed her waist with an iron grip. “I thought Latin girls were supposed to be loose.”

Her hand balled into a fist, and she thought about how it would feel to knock him across the floor. “I’m going to give you a half a second to let go of me.”

He grunted in amusement. “Make me.”

Heat splintered up her neck, making her feel like her head would split in two. Then cool precision took over as she calculated Justin’s height and weight. The bigger they are … the harder they fall. From the corner of her eye, she saw the blonde guy from earlier approach. “Is everything okay here?” he asked, his body taut, like he was ready to pounce.

“Buzz off,” Justin grumbled. Letting loose a string of curse words.

“Strike three,” Ariana muttered. She shot her arm straight up in a swift motion where it connected with Justin’s neck, right under his jaw line. Then she brought her arm back down, using her weight to knock him off his feet where he landed on his back with a heavy thud. Murmurs rippled through the couples surrounding them as they backed away. Justin gurgled, clutching his neck, a dazed look in his eyes.
Ariana’s hands flew to her hips. “Just because I’m Latin does not make me easy!”

Claps broke out around her. “That’s right,” a few of the women agreed. “Dirt bag,” one woman muttered, shooting Justin a death glare.

As Justin stumbled to his feet, Ariana planted herself in a battle stance, ready to do more damage if necessary. Her adrenaline was going, and she’d make short work of him, putting her training to good use. But luckily for Justin, he ducked his head and scuttled away.

“That has got to be the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen.”

She turned to the blonde guy who was looking at her in astonishment, admiration shining in his eyes. “Thanks. I appreciate you trying to help.”

He shoved his hands in his pockets, rocking forward on the balls of his feet. “Yeah, I was trying to rescue you from that creep … not that you needed my help.”

Ariana’s blood was pumping so ferociously that she felt dizzy.

He gave her a concerned look. “Are you okay?”

A wan smile tipped her lips as she ran a hand through her hair. “Yeah, I guess that date didn’t go as planned.”

He chuckled. “Life rarely does.” He held her gaze, and she felt the same buzz she’d experienced earlier. Everything around them slowed, and it was just the two of them. His voice was deeper than she imagined, with a husky edge. Her eyes traced the definition of the muscles underneath his form-fitting t-shirt. Heat fanned her face when she saw the flicker of amusement that turned his hazel-green eyes a honey-gold. He’d caught her checking him out. She jerked her eyes to his face, making a mental note to keep her focus there. He had a fine layer of scruff, emphasizing the lean line of his jaw. She swallowed, feeling she was staring at the real-life version of Thor and Captain America, all rolled into one. Captain Thor. Or Goldie Locks because of his thick tangles of beautiful curls.

People around them resumed dancing, but the two of them just stood there. Ariana knew she should start dancing … or do something to break the tension, but she couldn’t get her body to cooperate.
He cleared his throat, a grin washing over his face. “Um, maybe we should get off the dance floor.”

“Oh, yeah.” She propelled her feet into action. Her mind whirled, going through all that had just happened. She could hardly believe he’d been the one to offer help. When they got to the side, he motioned to an empty table.

“Would you like to sit down?”

Her voice sounded unnaturally high and screechy in her ears. “Sure.”

He pulled out a chair for her and helped her get seated. Wow. Captain Thor was a gentleman to the nth degree. A startling contrast to Justin.

As they sat there, staring across the table at each other, Ariana scrambled for something halfway intelligent to say. “Thanks again. You’re a great dancer,” she blurted. Sheesh. She was making an idiot out of herself. Normally she was calm and cool around men, always knowing the right thing to say. But it seemed her mouth had disconnected from her brain.

His lips curved into a radiant smile, causing the edges of his eyes to crease. “Thanks. You’re pretty good yourself.”

The compliment caught her off guard, sending warm ripples cascading through her. He’d been watching her too. It was good to know the attraction went both ways.

He leaned forward. “Was that guy your boyfriend?”

She wrinkled her nose. “Heck no!” She laughed. “We’d never met in person before tonight. We were matched on a dating app.”

His eyebrows shot up in surprise. “Really?”

She felt foolish and a little desperate for resorting to a dating app. Her explanation gushed out. “It’s an app where people in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area can connect. You know, people with similar interests.” She shrugged. “It seemed like a good idea … in theory.” She scowled, darkness gathering inside her. “Of course, I should’ve known better than to go out with a football coach. Note to self … don’t date anymore coaches

or football players. Their egos are the size of a whale, their brains the size of a pea, from one too many hits on the field.”

He laughed. “That’s a bit of a blanket statement.”

Her face fell. “Don’t tell me, you’re a football player.” Of course he was. That would be just her luck.

An easy grin stole over his lips. “Well, if I were, I certainly wouldn’t admit it now.”

She pursed her lips together, assessing him. He didn’t seem bothered by her scrutiny. He just sat there, patiently enduring it. “No, you’re not a football player,” she finally said. “I don’t know what you are, but you’re far too intelligent to play football.”

He cocked his head. “So, all football players are stupid? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Nope. Not all of them. Just about ninety percent.”

“So only ten percent are intelligent.” He grinned. “See, I can do math.”

The teasing tone of his voice caused her to smile. “That’s good to know.”

He tsked his tongue. “What turned you against football players?”

“Aside from Justin?” She lifted an eyebrow, waiting for him to respond.

“Yep, aside from him. I mean, he was a douche bag, but the bite in your voice tells me there’s more.”

When her brother Ace first started playing pro ball, Ariana went out with a few players on the team. After about the sixth disaster, she swore off football players altogether. “Experience,” she finally said.
Interest lit his eyes. “Care to elaborate?”

“Not really,” she said loudly, then felt like she was yelling when the music suddenly stopped.

They turned their attention to the guy on stage holding the microphone. “Folks, we’ve got a fun evening lined up, it’s karaoke night!” He pumped a fist in the air as the crowd cheered.

Ariana’s heart dropped. Oh, no!

The emcee looked down at the sheet of paper in his hand. “To start, we have a duet by Ariana and Justin.”

Captain Thor looked at her. “Is everything okay?”

“Not really.” She groaned. “I’m Ariana.”

 

Alternate Ending – After reading The Ghost Groom be sure to download and read the FREE alternate ending written by Cami Checketts & Taylor Hart.

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Posted in Book Blast, Fantasy, Spotlight on January 28, 2018

Synopsis

1945

Allied paratroopers raid a secret Nazi research facility. The operation is reported as a success. But, the lone survivor, Benjamin Ezra, knows otherwise.

2014

A drug lord, El Fantasma threatens to plunge Colombia into an era of bloody drug wars. DEA Country Attaché, Zachary Mason is in charge of a covert operation to remove El Fantasma, with the help of a vigilante, El Angel, and a retired undercover agent, Raymond Garrett.

In Naples, INTERPOL agent, Sabina Wytchoff, is investigating the death of her parents, when the Wytchoff family’s association with an ancient cabal comes under investigation.

After the events of The Apocalypse Trigger, Luc Fortesque, is scouring the world for the man who tested experimental drugs on him.

Wei Ling works for a shadow Transhumanist faction within China’s State Council, developing drugs that will enhance human longevity.

Their paths will converge… violently… and conclude the mission that began in 1945.

Literary Titan Silver Award Winner

The Immortality Trigger is also available at all leading eBook retailers

Praise for The Immortality Trigger

“…with a storyteller of Misquita’s caliber, you just may need Dramamine before the first chapter is done.” – Bestthrillers.com

“For fans of the fast-paced and modern tale with global reach that dabbles in history, this is a perfect storm.” – Lydia Peever

“The Immortality Trigger cemented in my mind why Douglas Misquita is my favourite Indian thriller author.” – Newton Lewis

Other books in the series

 Book #1 in the Luc Fortesque series  Available as a Free download

About the Author

Douglas Misquita is an action-adventure thriller writer from Mumbai, India. He hammered out his first novel on the keyboard of a laptop with half-a-working-screen and has been churning out literary entertainment to the tune of a book-a-year. His books have been praised for their pace, locales, intertwined plots, research, and visuals – it’s almost like watching a movie… only, this one unfolds across the pages of a book!

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Goodreads

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Posted in Giveaway, romance on January 26, 2018

– Romance is in the Air –

A Month-Long Celebration of Clean Romance

– February 2018 –

 

Starting February 1st and running through the entire month of February I will be showcasing 14 fabulous authors. There will be 15 different giveaways, free ebooks and lots of great deals on books.

To start off this fantastic month, there is a $100 Kick-Off Giveaway. One lucky winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Code or $100 in Paypal Cash.

Check out this great list of authors we will be spotlighting!

 

Taylor Dean

Rachelle Christensen

Jennifer Moore

Cindy Roland Anderson

Jennifer Griffith

Julie Coulter Bellon

Liz Isaacson

Taylor Hart

Stacy Claflin

Nichole Van

Jen Johnson

Becky Monson

Donna Weaver

Kimberley Montpetit

Be sure to stop by each week during February to learn about these amazing authors. You definitely don’t want to miss out on all the giveaways! To be sure you never miss a post, stop by each day or follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

 

 

 

Giveaway Details

$100 in Paypal Cash or a $100 Amazon.com eGift Card

Ends 2/28/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via PayPal or gift codes via Amazon.com. 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. This giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
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Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway on January 25, 2018

ARANSAS MORNING

by

JEFF HAMPTON

  Genre: Literary Fiction / Family Life

Date of Publication: September 22, 2017

Number of Pages: 304

Scroll down for the giveaway!

When Sam Barnes’ high-flying life in Dallas falls apart, he flees to the coastal town of Port Aransas, Texas and fades into the life of a reclusive beach bum. But things start to change when he meets Dave, a young widower working through his own loss; Shelly, owner of the Dream Bean coffee shop; Bo, a crusty old shrimper; and Allie, Bo’s free-spirited daughter. Together they are tested and forced to confront their own issues. In doing so they discover family and community.

◾   Barnes & Noble  ◾   Jeff Hampton Writer   ◾

  ◾   Etsy  ◾    Amazon   ◾

PRAISE FOR ARANSAS MORNING

“Engrossing characters that keep doing unexpected things. Strong sense of place along the Texas coast and deep knowledge of the culture. This book is about relationships and how ‘family’ and ‘community’ might be redefined.”

“In this heartwarming book, Jeff Hampton took me to a place I’ve never been and captured me with his delightful characters, seaside landscape, and deft use of words to portray a small group of people who came together to create and run the Dream Bean cafe. Great summer reading.”

“I loved the characters, with their flaws and their graces. It is an honest and heart-warming story of redemption coming through community. I’m really glad I read it.”

“Really nice character development, articulating in a very comfortable and readable style the messy, complex, joyous and hopeful ways we build, break and nurture ‘community.’”

“Very quickly in the story, the characters became like friends. The book is engaging and held my interest.”

Allie & Bo

Excerpt, Part 1, from Aransas Morning

By Jeff Hampton

 Allie sat down on a piling and tried to get her thoughts straight. She’d never known a father and when she asked about that her mother just brushed it off casually: “He was just a guy I knew once, just a fling, no big deal.” Allie heard some mention of a “fisherman” a few times when her mother was talking to girlfriends, but without a name or sense of emotion in the reference, Allie didn’t dig any deeper.

But now as she looked across the boat at this gruff, grizzled, gray-haired man with her mother’s name painted across the stern of his boat, it was starting to make sense – why he was standing in Walmart in a town where he didn’t live, and why he dropped to the floor as soon as he turned and saw her. It wasn’t such an odd reaction after all, and had she known who he was, she might have fainted too. After all, that’s what she felt like doing now.

Seeing Allie sitting in a state of bewilderment, Sam tied off the bow line and sat down beside her. As Bo clanked around on the boat behind them, Sam asked, “you okay?”

“I’m not sure,” she said. Then, after a pause: “Is it true?”

“Maybe. Can’t say for sure.”

“Why now?”

“You’ll have to ask him. It’s like I said this morning . . . we thought we knew Bo, but it turns out we don’t.”

After another pause that might have been soothing if it wasn’t for Bo making a racket on the boat, Allie spoke again: “So, what do I do now?”

“Only you can decide that. But I suspect the two of you need to talk, and you need to do that in private.”

Sam stood up and pointed to the green awning that could be seen beyond the forest of boat masts. “I’ll be just over there at Shelly’s. You come on over whenever you want to. We’ll make sure you get a ride back to Freeport.”

Allie watched Sam walk away and for a moment she forgot about Bo, intrigued by this other quiet, gentle man. Why couldn’t he be my father, she thought, and then she shook her head at how ridiculous that was. She didn’t even really want or need a father, and now that she apparently had one, she wasn’t sure what she was supposed to do with him.

When Bo turned from his work and saw Allie sitting alone, he had the same thoughts: What do I do now? He had nothing to offer this girl that would in any way make amends for abandoning her and Cassandra so many years ago. Like Allie, he shook his head at the ridiculousness of the situation, and especially the fact that he’d gone in search of her when he had no plan or consideration of the consequences.

Bo sat down on the toolbox with a loud groan. Allie turned quickly, thinking Bo might be in trouble again, and for the longest moment father and daughter just stared at each other from fifty feet away. She blinked and he blinked. She brushed a stray hair off of her face and he coughed a little, but their eyes remained locked until Allie broke the trance.

“Why did you bring me here?”

Bo shrugged, not quite understanding the question.

“Why am I here? What is this about . . .” She stood up and began walking toward him, the questions coming one after another, not waiting for an answer. “Who are you? Why did you come looking for me? What did you expect to find?” And when she was right on top of him, “what do you want from me!?”

She stood staring down at him, her nostrils flaring.

Bo’s eyes watered a little. “God . . . you look just like her.”

Allie sat down beside him, exactly where she had been sitting as they churned up the coast from Freeport, but now with a knowledge of him that she didn’t have earlier and emotions that felt strange and foreign.

“Well?” she asked again, “what is this about?”

Bo looked down at his sunburned, leathery hands, the only part of his entire being that really held the answers to her questions. Hands that had gripped tools and worked on motors, pulled in nets and been sliced up by shells and broken glass. Hands that had smelled of fish and oil and cheap cologne. Hands that had once held a woman so gently, and then one night had unlatched a gate and carried a duffle bag into the darkness.

“I don’t know,” he said finally. “I just wanted to see her one more time, to see if maybe she’d had a good life . . . a life that I couldn’t give her.”

Click to read Part Two on Forgotten Winds blog

 

During a 35-year career in journalism and communications, Jeff Hampton has covered and written about topics ranging from business and finance to history and faith. His bylines have appeared in publications ranging from The Dallas Morning News to The New York Times.

He attended Baylor University where he majored in journalism and was editor of the Baylor Lariat campus newspaper. He began his professional career at the Waco Tribune-Herald and has written for newspapers, magazines, businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies.

Hampton has based his life and career in Texas where his interest in observing the people around him has led him to write essays, short stories, and novels that explore relationships and communities in their many forms.

Aransas Morning is his fifth book, following Grandpa JackWhen the Light Returned to Main StreetJonah Prophet and The Snowman Uprising on Hickory Lane.

Watch for Aransas Evening, a sequel to Aransas Morning, in 2018.

 ║ Website ║ Facebook ║ Twitter ║

║ Instagram║ Goodreads ║

 

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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!

FIVE SIGNED COPIES!

JANUARY 23-FEBRUARY 1, 2018

(U.S. Only)

 


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Check out the other blogs on this tour

1/23/18 Promo A Page Before Bedtime
1/23/18 Promo Reading by Moonlight
1/24/18 Guest Post Chapter Break Book Blog
1/24/18 Review Bibliotica
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 1 StoreyBook Reviews
1/25/18 Excerpt Part 2 Forgotten Winds
1/26/18 Review Texan Girl Reads
1/27/18 Review Tangled in Text
1/28/18 Author Interview The Page Unbound
1/28/18 Playlist Syd Savvy
1/29/18 Review The Clueless Gent
1/30/18 Promo Texas Book Lover
1/30/18 Scrapbook Page The Librarian Talks
1/31/18 Review Momma on the Rocks
2/1/18 Review Missus Gonzo

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Posted in 4 paws, Children, Giveaway, Review on January 25, 2018

Book Title: The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie
Category: Children’s Fiction, 48 pages
Genre: Fantasy / Nature
Publisher: Page Publishing
Release date: July 2017
Content Rating: G

Synopsis

Popcorn and Jellybean had never ventured down the path beyond the big tree. But since they never really did anything exciting, and even though it made them a little nervous at first, they decided it would be a fun adventure for a couple of days. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, as it turned out, if the explorers were not prepared! Join them as they take on new challenges each day, learn how to survive by following the behaviors of the animals they encounter, and go where Mother Nature leads them. And who knows, maybe we could learn as well!

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iTunes ~ Google Play

Review

What an exciting book aimed at younger readers that is educational too!

Popcorn and Jellybean are on quite the adventure into the woods. I am not sure how old they are supposed to be but am surprised that the parents were ok with them being gone for several days. But as they delve deeper into the woods they come across various types of wildlife and remember details about the different animals and their behaviors from listening to their parents. They are also able to determine what sorts of plants are ok to eat after lessons from the parents. It is amazing what will stick in your mind even if you aren’t trying to learn!

There are times where the words seem older than the target audience, but I think it is a good book to teach children about wildlife and plants but in a fun way.

This book would be great for a reader that is just starting chapter books as the chapters are shorter and easier to read than a traditional chapter book.

We give this book 4 paws up!

About the Author

Bob has spent more than 13 years as a wildlife conservation educator sharing information and animal encounters with audiences of all ages. He has a passion for teaching about a wide range of topics nature related and loves passing it along to his two sons. His youngest son, Colton, was the inspiration behind The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean, where it all started as a simple bedtime story. Bob currently resides in Carlsbad, California, and works as a professional interpreter guide at a world-renowned conservation organization.

Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Giveaway

Prizes: Win a paperback copy of The Adventures of Popcorn and Jellybean by Robert Gillespie and a $20 Amazon gift card (1 winner / open to USA & CAN)

(ends Feb 10, 2018)

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Posted in excerpt, romance on January 24, 2018

Title: ALONG CAME JONES
Author: Victoria Bernadine
Publisher: Love of Words Publishing
Pages: 324
Genre: Chick Lit/Contemporary Fiction

Synopsis

Benjamin Ferrin Macon-Jones has it all: a luxurious lifestyle in Toronto and the love of an intelligent, ambitious woman…until that same woman refuses his marriage proposal, tells him he’s a detriment to her career, and leaves him. Unable to deal with his cantankerous family trying to be supportive, he quietly slips away into the Canadian countryside.

Lou Upjohn has problems of her own. She’s a recluse and agoraphobic, staying safely within the walls of her ancestral home in small town Saskatchewan and depending on Ike, her best and only friend, to deal with the outside world. Only Ike’s just married another woman and now he’s moving to Vancouver. Before he leaves, he hires the new guy in town, Ferrin Jones, to run her errands and do her yard work. Lou isn’t happy, but even she has to admit the stranger looks mildly interesting.

Both their lives could be changed forever if she only has the courage to open the door.

Excerpt

“Marry me.”

Olivia laughs.

“What?” she teases with a fond, slightly mocking smile.  “Are you ‘proposing’ because you think it’s what people are supposed to do on New Year’s Eve?”

Ferrin smirks his lopsided, endearing smirk as he lowers himself to one knee and proffers the small, square velvet box he dug out of the pocket of his tuxedo.

The beautiful brunette laughs again.  “Oh, Ferrin, get up—you’re being ridiculous!  And the joke really isn’t all that funny.”

Olivia glances at the crowd of beaming friends and family surrounding them and Ferrin watches as realization slowly dawns on her face.  Her gaze snaps back to his as realization morphs into horror, and Ferrin feels a corresponding sick, sinking feeling grow in his stomach as her expression changes.  His own smile slips away and his face freezes into an expressionless mask.  Their spectators’ hissed in-drawn breaths and sudden, uncomfortable silence barely register given his complete and utter focus on Olivia.

He knows what she’s going to say before she says it, but like any impending disaster, he can’t seem to look away.

“Oh, my God,” she whispers.  “Oh, shit!”  She bites her lip, then says in a rush, “I love you, Ferrin, I really, truly do…but I can’t marry you.”  Her voice breaks; her eyes fill with tears.

The silence that follows seems to grow and envelop them in a stifling cocoon built from his humiliation and suddenly terrified heart.  Ferrin hears, as if through cotton wool, subdued voices and the shuffling of feet as their family and friends gather their things and leave the apartment.  In some distant corner of his mind, he’s mildly surprised they’re all leaving so quietly…or maybe he just can’t hear them across the yawning divide that’s opened between him and Olivia.

As the door closes, she whispers, “Get up.  Your knee must hurt.”

Does it?  He can’t tell over the crushing pressure in his chest, his stomach, his head, but he struggles to his feet anyway, like she asks, because she asks, aching and sore and suddenly ancient.  He straightens and becomes, as always, self-consciously aware of how big he is in comparison to her, and how his bulk looming over her always makes her edgy.  He automatically slouches his shoulders, trying to minimize his size, trying to make her comfortable.

“Say something,” she begs, and her voice breaks.

His voice is cracked, hollow, distant, as he says, “Is this it?”

‘It’, he thinks with despair.  Such a tiny word with such a huge meaning.

She hesitates, then nods, not quite looking at him.

“This can’t come as that much of a surprise.  Not if you’re honest with yourself.”

Ferrin can’t seem to make his brain work.  He shakes his head, trying to force something—anything—loose so his world—his life—will start to make sense again.

“I—I—no.  Yes.  Why?” he asks, and winces at just how lost he sounds.

Olivia sighs and says, very gently, “I want other things in life than you do, Ferrin.  My career means everything to me and I want to make it to the top of Macon-Jones Enterprises, or as high as I can get without being a blood relative.”

Finally, finally, anger flares inside him.

“And I’m holding you back?  In my own family’s company?”

Olivia hesitates.

Ferrin’s eyes widen.  “You really believe it,” he breathes.  “When have I ever stood in your way, Olivia?”

This time her sigh is long-suffering.  “You’ve never stood in my way, no, but you’ve never actively helped me, either.”

“I didn’t think you wanted me to!  If I recall correctly, you told me so in no uncertain terms when we moved in together.  That’s only a couple of years ago!  What’s changed?”

“I didn’t want you using any undue influence with Abram to get me promotions I didn’t deserve,” Olivia snaps, her own anger flaring.  “That didn’t mean I didn’t want you to help me at all!”

Ferrin snorts.  “Nobody has undue influence with Abram.  You should know that by now!”

“Abram isn’t the point!  The point is that I could have used your support when some of my projects came up for a vote before the Board.  Instead, you, as always, stayed out of it and gave your vote to the first cousin who asked for it, without any regard to how the decision would impact my career or my projects!  Half the time, you didn’t even bother asking me how I wanted you to vote!”

“I never ask anyone about the projects or how they want to use my vote!  The cousins know how I play the game and it works well for all of us.  Why do you think I’m the only one any of them will talk to without a witness present?”

Olivia throws her hands up in the air as she whirls and paces away.  “There!  That’s exactly the problem!”

He takes a step back, blinking.  “What?  The fact that I’m friendly with all my cousins?  That’s a problem?”

“No!”  She brushes a hand over her face in exasperation.  She turns to him, and now he recognizes that look on her face.  It’s the one she has when she’s getting ready to lecture him on what, exactly, he’s done wrong, and what he needs to do to avoid making the same mistake again.

She says, “It’s not the fact the cousins all like you that’s the problem; it’s the reason they all like you!  You’re such a goddamn fixer, itching to solve everyone’s problems that you’ve become a complete pushover!  I don’t want to hurt you, Ferrin, but, let’s face it:  you’re a sucker.  You’re gullible.  And I hate to say this, but you’re also a bit of a wimp.  You’ll do whatever anybody tells you to do, and that’s proven in spades by your so-called ‘business investments’!  All anybody needs in order to get money out of you is a sob story and a half-assed idea!”

His mouth sags open as he rocks beneath her barrage, every word slamming into his heart and his gut and his mind.

“What the hell?” he chokes.

Olivia deflates, pity in her eyes.

“Look,” she says, and now her voice is calm and firmly matter-of-fact, the way Ferrin has so often heard her speak whenever he’s forced to attend a board meeting with her, “I’m going to be CEO someday of a multi-billion-dollar multinational company.  Your family’s multi-billion-dollar multinational company.  It’s ruthless and cutthroat, and a spouse’s strengths and talents are just as important to an executive’s rise as the executive’s own skills and talents, especially in Macon-Jones Enterprises.  You know how outright Machiavellian your family can be, and that’s when they’re arranging Christmas!  If you think they’re ruthless in their personal lives, they’re ten times worse in the boardroom, trust me!”

“Yes, I know,” Ferrin says drily, and is almost glad he’s starting to feel something—anything—now.  “I have met my cousins and I’ve even been to a board meeting a time or two.  Abram seems to have done all right without a spouse to support him.”

She snorts.  “He’s Chair and he was handed the job by your great-grandfather!  He’s never had to prove anything to anybody!”

His laugh is harsh and barking.  “Now you’re the one who’s forgotten what my cousins are like!” He waves his words away.  “Doesn’t matter.  You knew when we met that I do everything I can to avoid anything to do with the company.”

“You’re not supposed to avoid it by giving your vote to whichever cousin gets to you first!  Besides, you’re your father’s only surviving child, the last of your particular branch of the family!  You out of all your cousins shouldn’t avoid the company at all!”

Ferrin flinches.

She grimaces.  “I’m sorry; that was low…but you know I’m right.  You could wield enormous influence and power in the company, and not only with the family when they want something, if you’d just take an interest!  If you would listen to me, let me guide you, advise you so you don’t believe everything you’re told, and let me stop Carson, Dyson and Jack from constantly distracting you, you could be the next Chair of the Board instead of Jack!”

“So I’m not only gullible and a wimp, I’m also so stupid I can only trust you to advise me?” he says, incredulous.

“Of course not!  But you’re wasting your potential—and your birthright!  Your father was Abram’s second-in-command, for God’s sake!  All you have to do is step up and follow in his footsteps!”  She runs a hand through her hair and groans.  “Face it, Ferrin, I’m never going to be CEO if I remain allied with you, not unless you change your approach to the business.”

Ferrin rears back and stares.

“‘Allied’?” he says slowly.  “Is that what the last five years have been about, Olivia?  An alliance?”

“No!  Of course not!  I love you.  I do!  You’re a wonderful man, Ferrin.  But you’re…” She spreads her hands and shrugs helplessly.

“Weak,” he says flatly, “and obviously a little stupid.  Have I got it right?”

“Ferrin…”  She takes a step towards him, but he quickly retreats.  She stops and stares at him, her large, brown eyes brimming with tears.  For once, he’s unmoved.

“I’m sorry I’ve been such a disappointment to your professional ambitions,” he grates out, a bitter twist to his lips.  He turns and heads for the exit.

“Where are you going?”

“I have no idea,” he says, and slams the door behind him.

About the Author

Victoria Bernadine (a pseudonym) is, as the saying goes, a “woman of a certain age”. After twenty-something years of writer’s block, she began writing again in 2008.

Victoria enjoys reading all genres and particularly loves writing romantic comedy and post-apocalyptic science fiction. What those two have in common is anybody’s guess.

She lives in Edmonton with her two cats (The Grunt and The Runt).  Along Came Jones is the second novel she felt was good enough to be released into the wild.

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Posted in excerpt, romance on January 23, 2018

 

ABOUT ABOUT THAT KISS (a standalone Heartbreaker Bay novel)

Synopsis

When love drives you crazy . . .

When sexy Joe Malone never calls after their explosive kiss, Kylie shoves him out of her mind. Until she needs a favor, and it’s a doozy. Something precious to her has been stolen and there’s only one person with unique finder-and-fixer skills that can help—Joe. It means swallowing her pride and somehow trying to avoid the temptation to throttle him—or seduce him.

the best thing to do . . .

No, Joe didn’t call after the kiss. He’s the fun time guy, not the forever guy. And Kylie, after all she’s been through, deserves a good man who will stay. But everything about Kylie makes it damned hard to focus, and though his brain knows what he has to do, his heart isn’t getting the memo.

… is enjoy the ride.

As Kylie and Joe go on the scavenger hunt of their lives, they discover surprising things about each other. Now, the best way for them to get over “that kiss” might just be to replace it with a hundred more.

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Excerpt

Joe studied her. “I asked you once before, but now I’m going to ask you again. Is there something going on between you two?”

She tossed up her hands. “Why do you both keep asking me that about each other?”

His eyes narrowed. “I thought nothing was going on.”

“And before today, I could’ve passed a lie detector test on that,” she said.

“What happened today?”

She paused. Not because she had anything to be ashamed of, but because she wasn’t quite sure what had happened.

“Kylie.”

She sighed. “It’s nothing.”

“Try again,” Joe said and gave her the very male universal go on gesture.

She rolled her eyes. “Fine. He . . . finally made a move on me.”

Joe didn’t budge. Not a blink, not a muscle twitch, nothing, but she could’ve popped corn off the electric tension coming off him.

“Describe ‘made a move,’ ” he finally said.

She crossed her arms. “And again, how is this relevant to my case?”

He just gave her that careful stare again and she thought wow, those eyes of his should be registered as a lethal weapon, because she found herself opening her mouth and spilling her guts. “He kissed me.”

“He kissed you.”

“Yeah,” she said. “Do you know that you often repeat what I say?”

“What kind of a kiss?” he asked.

She was momentarily bewildered. “I don’t know. It was a kiss. A normal kiss. A nice kiss.” She cocked her head at him. “How many kinds of kisses are there?”

He just looked at her for a long moment before coming toward her. He backed her to the wall and pressed his big hands on either side of her head.

“There are many kinds of kisses,” he said.

Her breath had backed up in her throat, where her heart had lodged, pounding wildly. “S-s-such as?”

“Such as this one.” And then he leaned in and covered her mouth with his.

At the touch of Joe’s mouth, Kylie’s brain stopped being capable of rational thought. His tongue gave a knee-weakening stroke against hers and she let out a shockingly needy moan as she clutched at him, fisting her hands in the material of his shirt at his chest. Only when he’d thoroughly plundered and pillaged and left her boneless did he lift his head and look into her eyes.

“Wow,” she whispered, fully aware she was still holding on to him like he was a lifeline, but the bones in her legs had liquefied. “I mean . . .” She shook her head. “Wow.”

He nodded. “Yeah. So to be clear, that wasn’t ‘a normal kiss’ or even ‘a nice kiss.’ It was a ‘wow’ kiss. Any questions?”

“Just one,” she said softly. “Can I have another?”

Joe didn’t have to be asked twice. His mouth immediately descended again, his fingers sliding into her hair to change the angle of the kiss to suit him. It was a controlled, alpha thing to do, but she had only one thought—nothing about the usually carefully, purposely leashed Joe was in control at the moment.

And she liked it.

She had no idea how long they went at it because she was in absolute heaven. Who knew that the man could use his preferred silent mode to communicate in a way that she finally approved of?

Only when she was completely breathless and about to strip him down to his birthday suit did she manage to pull back.

“Any more questions?” he asked, also a little bit breathless, which was more than slightly gratifying. Dumbly, she shook her head. His eyes softened and he gently he stroked his thumb over her bottom lip. “And FYI? Gib’s an idiot.”

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on January 22, 2018

Book Title: Degrees of Love: A Novel by Lisa Slabach
Category: Adult Fiction, 344 pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Bookbaby
Content Rating: PG-13 + M (Adult themes including infidelity, occasional F-word, non-explicit sex scenes)

Synopsis

At thirty-six, Susan Sinclair has it all. She’s just been promoted to Senior Vice President of Mobile Banking at her firm, a prestigious position bringing fresh creative challenges and a hefty salary increase. Like the shiny new BMW in the driveway of the Silicon Valley home she shares with her husband, Matt, and their two beautiful boys, Susan exudes confidence and style.

Yet despite her success in juggling the roles of wife, mother, and businesswoman, Susan struggles with a secret dissatisfaction. Matt’s work in cutting-edge computer research pays less than her job, and with each advance in her career, he has grown more distant. But Matt refuses to admit there is a problem, and Susan forces herself to play along, determined to give her boys the close-knit family life she never had.

Then she meets her new boss, Reese Kirkpatrick. Working and traveling together, she and Reese become a crackerjack team, but little by little, pleasure mixes with business. For the first time in a long time—maybe ever—Susan feels seen and appreciated for who she is. Certain she would never allow their friendship to cross the line, Susan lets herself stray dangerously close to the edge.

​A moment of weakness changes everything. Now, unable to stomach the façade her marriage has become yet unwilling to decimate her family by moving forward with Reese, Susan faces a choice that could cost her everything—including her children . . . but possibly bring her more than she can dream.

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Praise for Degrees of Love

​”Slabach crafts a relatable, heartbreakingly real story that will no doubt resonate with those at a similar station in life: women who love their families yet yearn for just a little more—to feel wanted rather than needed, to feel passion rather than complacency. In engaging prose and through skillful storytelling, Slabach captivates with an all-too-familiar story that raises questions with no easy answers.”
– Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

“This does not read like a debut author’s book. Slabach shows herself to be adept at portraying the complex emotions of the human condition. Her characters live and breathe on the page in a way that every author strives for, but few actually manage. Susan’s struggles ring true, and the way she handles everything makes her a very likable and relatable character.”
– Sarah Perry, San Francisco Book Review, 5 Stars

Review

While the concept behind marriages has not changed, the role of each individual in that marriage is in a state of flux. No longer are roles defined by gender and marriages have become a true partnership. But what happens when one of the individuals wants something different? Or what if one is not happy with the other? Or finds what they are looking for from another? That is what this book brings to the table.

Adultery is not a new concept, it has been around since the beginning, but why do some people seek out something more than what they already have at home? In this debut novel by author Lisa Slabach, she allows us inside the marriage of Matt and Susan. They met in graduate school and couldn’t have been more different. Susan is artistic and Matt is scientific, but something still sparked between the two. Time has gone on, there are children, but things are the not same as they were all those years ago. The picture that is painted of Matt is not a pretty one. He wants her home more and to be the more traditional wife and mother. His words and actions did not sit well with me as the reader. I saw it as being narrow-minded and selfish to expect Susan to give up everything for him and the children. Susan, while a strong and fiercely independent woman, is torn between what she wants from life and doing what others expect. Enter Reese. He is Susan’s new boss and he is bewitched by Susan and wants her all to himself with no regard for her marriage.

I’m sure as you can imagine, this story is not going to end well for anyone. It is hard to have an affair and expect to get away with it long term. But what I found as the story progressed is that love comes in many forms and fashions and who is anyone to say what is right or wrong other than those involved?

There are various points in the book where Matt, Susan, and Reese are all cast in positive and negative lights. No one character is right or wrong at all times…they all share the blame for how the relationships evolve and I did feel differently for each character at different points in the book.

The book moved along at a pretty steady pace but really picked up near the end when the affair between Susan and Reese is uncovered by Matt. Emotions are running high and I wondered how the author was going to resolve this issue. I enjoyed the epilogue because it really brought the story full circle and answered any unanswered questions in my mind.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Degrees of Love is Lisa Slabach’s debut novel. She is currently working on her third full-length manuscript and a collection of short stories inspired by her experiences growing up in a small farm community in Washington’s Yakima Valley. In addition to writing, Lisa works for a Fortune 500 Company, leading a sales team in the financial industry. She currently resides in Northern California with her husband and has two daughters, who are both pursuing careers in film. In her free time, she enjoys drinking wine with friends and cooking in her pink kitchen.

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Giveaway

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on January 22, 2018

Murder of a Good Man (A Piney Woods Mystery) by Teresa Trent
Cozy Mystery

1st in Series
Setting – Texas
Camel Press (January 15, 2018)
Paperback: 256 pages

Synopsis

When Nora Alexander drives into Piney Woods, Texas, to fulfill her dying mother’s last wish, she has no idea what awaits her. First she is run off the road, then the sealed letter she delivers turns out to be a scathing rebuke to the town’s most beloved citizen and favored candidate for Piney Woods Pioneer: Adam Brockwell. Next thing you know, Adam has been murdered in a nasty knife attack. Suspicion instantly falls on Nora, one of the last people to see him alive. After all, everyone in Piney Woods loved him. Or did they? Nora learns that her mother had a complicated past she never shared with her daughter. Told not to leave town by Tuck the flirty sheriff, Nora finds a job with Tuck’s Aunt Marty trying to get the rundown Tunie Hotel back in the black. The old hotel was Piney Woods’ heart and soul in its heyday as an oil boomtown. Now the secrets it harbors may be the key to getting Nora off the hook. She’s going to need to solve the mystery quickly to avoid arrest, or worse: becoming the killer’s next victim.

Review

An intriguing start to a new series set in the Piney Woods of East Texas. And since I have family in East Texas, I felt like I was right at home.

Nora is a strong and independent woman that is on one last mission for her mother, to bring a letter to a man in this small Texas town. However, less than 24 hours later he is murdered and Nora is the prime suspect. And as with all cozies, she has to uncover the truth as to who murdered Adam Brockwell and clear her name.

There are quite a few interesting town citizens that play an important role in helping Nora uncover the truth and clear her name. And by getting to know these people, she also makes some friends and learns some history about her mom that she never knew before arriving in this town.

The mystery was quite an adventure and I think I only suspected this character because there was no one else that seemed a likely suspect. There were some clues but not many to try and decipher the motive and reasoning for Adam’s death.

It would be remiss to omit a budding romance and Nora has caught the Sheriff’s eye. He is quite smitten with her and there are a few witty comments he makes that will definitely make you chuckle.

There is even a touch of the paranormal to this story and it added an intriguing twist.

We give it 4 paws up.

About the Author

Teresa Trent lives in Houston, Texas and is an award-winning mystery writer.  She writes the Pecan Bayou Mystery Series, is a regular contributor to the Happy Homicides Anthologies. Teresa is happy to add her Henry Park Mystery Series to her publishing credits with Color Me Dead, the first book in the series. Teresa has also won awards for her work in short stories where she loves to dabble in tales that are closer to the Twilight Zone than small town cozies. When Teresa isn’t writing, she is a full-time caregiver for her son and teaches preschoolers music part-time. Her favorite things include spending time with family and friends, waiting for brownies to come out of the oven, and of course, a good mystery.

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