That’s a Promise

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“That’s a Promise” by Victoria Klahr

Blurb:

Pain isn’t new to me. 
I’ve been to hell only to find it never really leaves when you get back. It haunts me through nightmares, unrequited love, lies, broken hearts, and now death. 
A monster almost took my life. 
My best friend carries half my soul a world away. 
My boyfriend broke my heart but refuses to let me go. 
And my father is dead. 
I don’t believe in fate and I don’t believe in happily-ever-afters, but for some reason, I still hope. 
Live, even with a tainted spirit. 
Long for my other half to come back to me. 
Risk another broken heart, just to feel loved again. 
And refuse to let another horror break me. 
In the face of my most recent tragedy, I have to decide whether forgiveness is something I can give. But even if that’s an option, can I be forgiven?

Excerpt:

I’M IN A SEA of black. The beautiful May day gives no impression that there is any sadness or grief in the air. It’s one of those days that you want to spend outside, smelling the new blooming flowers, getting some sun, and walking in the grass barefoot, but none of those things hold any interest for me.

Everything is a blur around me, a haze that mirrors my own depression. I know people are talking to me, but I don’t hear them. They express sadness in their words, but most of them never sympathized with us before today. They talk as if they know us, but where were they before? They live their lives talking shit behind people’s backs, but don’t see the hypocrisy in their fake condolences.

I’ve learned to ignore the whispers and stares, a lesson received repeatedly as I grew up in what some would call an “unconventional” household. Apparently punching everyone who bullies you isn’t the socially acceptable way to handle things, so I try to just ignore them. I don’t want or need to let any of their negativity in, so I remain quiet. There’s been enough sadness in our lives, and there’s no need for nasty words from nosey neighbors to pile onto that pain.

A person in a black suit finishes shoveling dirt into the cold, deep grave. I focus on the earth closing around the person I loved so immensely and to whom I felt so close. The ground consumes the casket and takes my loved one away into a lonely pit; permanently putting an end to the best person I will ever know.

I look at my dad sitting next to me. He is distraught, but well medicated for the occasion, only showing emotion when he remembers he just lost the love of his life. He seems to have aged ten years in the past week. He was once the strongest and most commanding person I knew, but today, he looks like a child. He doesn’t speak, doesn’t do anything except for the essentials. He exists, but he’s not living. He looks up at me and I feel like maybe he wants to reach out and say something to comfort me, but I know his internal pain limits him from showing affection. I put my hand on his shoulder to show I’m here, hoping he understands what I mean.

People are finally leaving. Leaving us behind to grieve together in peace. That’s a lie. There is no peace for us, and there won’t be for a long time. With the preparations for the funeral complete, I have all the time in the world to sit and think about the gravity of what I just lost. That’s not peace. That’s torture.

“Dad,” I say, “I think that maybe we should head back to the house.” He sits there, giving no indication that he heard me suggest our departure.

“Dad,” I try again, after a minute. “Let’s say goodbye, and go home.” I can’t stand to be here any longer.

He stands slowly and walks over to the heap of dirt covering a life that was once vibrant and lively. He collapses onto the mound, and at first I’m startled by the sudden fall. Once I hear the heart wrenching sobs that escape his mouth, I understand he is saying his goodbye. I hear him murmuring about his undying love, and decide to give him some privacy.

I look toward the entrance of the cemetery, shaking myself out of the haze that I was in. I don’t even recall walking this far to get to the grave site, but I don’t want to remember, so I don’t try to conjure up the memory.

A figure leans against one of the nearby trees and I start to sweep my eyes past until recognition hits me in the chest heavily. I don’t think he wanted to be seen, but he was caught and he knows it. My throat starts to constrict and pain obstructs my chest.

He hasn’t changed much since the last time I saw him, except that he has no smile on his face today. He’s still breathtakingly handsome… but he’s also still the asshole I left behind at the café a year ago.

Why is he here? How dare he show his face here on a day like today?

I’m in such a state of shock that I lose concept of space and time. I stare at him for a good two minutes before I jerk back to reality.

He gives me a small wave and a slight lift of his beautiful lips. It is a sad and withdrawn smile, enough for me to know he understands exactly what happened.

I glare back at him, not in any mood to be civil, and start stomping my way toward him, intent on giving him a piece of my mind. He has no right to be here.

As I draw closer to him, he pulls himself from the tree and approaches. We meet up and stand so close I almost forget the reason why I came up to him. In my mind’s stuttering state, he speaks first.

“Hi Josie.” His deep, dominant voice washes over me, and I’m angry that it thrills me to hear his voice again. I swallow down the warmth, and try to keep my guard intact.

“What the hell are you doing here?” I hiss. “I’m pretty sure I made it clear I never wanted to see you again. How dare you show your face here?”

“Jo… I just wanted to come and say how sorry I am about your loss. I heard about Will, and I needed to come see how you were doing,” he responds, sadness clear from the roughness of his voice.

Hearing him use my nickname with his gentle tone makes me weak. I wrap my arms around my body to try and keep my anger from being impacted by his kindness.

“I don’t want you here,” I whisper, looking anywhere but at him. I don’t want him to see me break down ever again, but between my loss and seeing him, I don’t know if I will be able to hold back. In that one sentence, filled with the longing and sadness that I didn’t want to show, I made it clear to him that I’m still hurting over what happened.

“I understand. I needed to make sure you’re okay. I know how hard this is for you.” He slowly starts to reach out his hand, and while my cheek tingles at the thought of him touching even an inch of my skin, I think he knows that it’s unwelcome. As I turn the slightest fraction away, he lets his hand fall back to his side, a look of regret crossing his face.

“I can’t do this. Dad needs me right now. I have to take him back to the house,” I say, wanting to get rid of him and the memories he is bringing back.

“Let me stay with you for the day. We can catch up and I can help you with things. Today is tough as it is, let me help,” he says, confidence and determination starting to come back into his personality. This is the man I knew.

I hear footsteps behind me as my dad walks up to us. He stands there, lost in a world I don’t want to enter. He said his goodbye and now he’s retreated back into his shell. I look up at my unexpected visitor and get ready to tell him goodbye for the last time.

“Mr. Sommers, I am so sorry for your loss,” he says softly to my dad. “Josie and I were talking about heading back to the house to catch up and throw away some of the food your neighbors sent over.” He gives me a sly smile and then returns his attention to my dad. “Would one extra person be okay?”

My dad grunts and gives a barely noticeable nod, and we both know him well enough to know that he has accepted the offer. I shake my head at his response.

“Dad, go ahead to the car. I’ll be there in a couple minutes,” I say, hoping to convince Blake Porter to leave. When Dad is almost at the car, I whip myself around to scowl at the same stubborn Blake I used to know. He has a small cocky smirk playing on his lips, and I don’t like how distractingly handsome he still is.

“You need to leave and never come back around here or me again. I can barely even look at you without wanting to punch you in your stupid face!”

The last part is only partially true; a part of me wants to hit him again, and the other part wants to kiss him. His smile grows a little after he hears me say that, because he knows me well enough to figure out that I really do want to hit him.

“I get that you never wanted to see me again after the last time, Josie. Just let me be here for you today. Let me be your friend this one time. I can help. You know I can help,” he says sincerely. I know he can help, but that scares me.

I take a deep breath and try to sort out my thoughts. He is the last person I need to be talking to, and the second person I’ve wanted to talk to since this happened. I know exactly who is standing before me, and I know without a doubt that if I let him back in, I will be hurt and betrayed all over again.

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**About author, Victoria Klahr:

Victoria Klahr (pronounced “Claire”) lives in Elizabeth City, North Carolina with her husband and daughter, Stephen and Alexis. She loves her chug (Pug/Chihuahua), Bandit, and daughter to pieces. She is a huge and proud book nerd who looks at her bookshelf in admiration daily. When she’s not daydreaming about book boyfriends and fantasizing about being a badass heroine like Rose Hathaway, she’s busy doing schoolwork for her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and writing the stories that speak to her in her head. She loves peanut butter with Oreos, good friends, amazing gossip, driving in the middle of merge lanes, comedies, crude humor, pretending like she can dance, pretending like she can kick major ass, and a really, really good laugh.

**Contact Victoria: Email   Website   Facebook   GoodReads

**Find “That’s a Promise”: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   GoodReads

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**Click HERE to see other stops on Victoria’s Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours!

One Day This Will All Make Sense

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“One Day This Will All Make Sense” by Katie Jansson Shahin

Blurb: In the three years since Emma, Human Resource professional by trade and writer at heart, moved to Los Angeles from Sweden it has been anything but smooth sailing. When she was offered a new job Emma thought she had finally found the security she’d been looking for since moving to the city of her dreams.

The bliss is short-lived as Emma struggles to adjust in her new role and environment. She fails to learn how to play by the unwritten rules and office politics of corporate America, leaving her defenseless against a new boss who soon makes it clear that he wants her gone. After having put her writing before her HR career for so long, Emma knows it was just a fluke when she was hired and is determined not to let it slip away. But she cracks under the pressure and is ultimately fired. Will she be able to dig herself out again? Or has she peaked at 27? More importantly, will she survive in the city that represents everything she has dreamt of becoming?

EXCERPT

Not one day had passed since I had moved to LA two and half years earlier when I wasn’t grateful and aware of what city I was in. Not one morning had passed that I had driven to work, which was usually around six forty-five a.m., when my mind hadn’t gone completely quiet and at ease at the sight of Vine Street, coming off of the 101 South. I knew I was fortunate. Many young people in Sweden dreamed of moving to LA and tried so hard to find ways to stay once they made it here on a student visa. For the most part, people either got married or never found a way to stay. I, on the other hand, had been lucky. My dad had moved to the US almost twenty years earlier and since he’d become a naturalized citizen before I turned twenty-one, I had gotten a green card through him. I continued down Vine Street and saw the W Hotel sign up in the sky, and a few blocks farther down I passed the bright red building that housed The Redbury hotel, with the world famous Capitol Records Building on my right side.

As I got on to the 101 North, driving ten miles an hour in Friday traffic, I wondered to myself what it was about LA that had me so wrapped around its finger. The first time I fell in love with California was when I watched The O.C. Shortly thereafter my dad moved to Orange County from Wisconsin, and I was able to go visit the place I had only seen on TV. Of course, the entire show was filmed in LA, but I didn’t know that back then. I then discovered the show Entourage, and that’s when real things started to happen inside me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. Was it the beautiful weather and the smell of freshly-cut grass all year round? Was it the wide streets you could barely cross in time before the streetlight turned red for the pedestrians again? Was it the buildings that on the outside looked like nothing more than a chunk of cement, but on the inside were beautifully decorated lounges? Was it the powerful rush I had gotten the first time I went ninety on the empty freeway at three a.m.? Or was it simply the fact that I knew I was in the same city where all the Hollywood movies came from?

While I saw all the beauty that LA had to offer, I wasn’t oblivious to all the things that other people usually saw as the downside of moving to LA: the constant sound of traffic and honking; the fuel-filled air and the fog; the enormous city where everything was separated by insane distances; the huge freeways; the above-ground electrical lines; the cracks in the pavement left by earthquakes. I saw all those things too. But my love for this city was an unconditional kind of love—I didn’t love LA despite its flaws. I loved it even more for them. We could be flawed together.

**Buy “One Day This Will All Make Sense”: Amazon – US   Amazon – UK

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KatieJanssonShahinPicture**About Katie Jansson Shahin:

Katie’s love for writing is versatile. Before taking the big leap into novel writing she focused mostly on screenwriting. In addition to that, she has a blog where she writes book reviews and articles on writing: An Authorista’s Blog.

Katie is originally from Sweden but moved to California summer 2010 and currently resides in the North Bay area just outside of San Francisco. When she’s not working on her writing, she is an HR and recruiting professional. Although her debut novel is not a biography, as you may have guessed, One Day This Will All Make Sense is heavily inspired by her own experience moving from Sweden to Los Angeles and her life there.

**Contact Katie: Blog   Twitter

How Do You Know?

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“How Do You Know?” by Meredith Schorr

Description:

What if you were approaching the end of your thirties and all of the life milestones you took for granted in your youth suddenly seemed out of reach? On the eve of her 39th birthday, Maggie Piper doesn’t look, act, or feel much different than she did at 29, but with her 40th birthday speeding towards her like a freight train, she wonders if she should. The fear of a slowing metabolism, wrinkling of her skin, and the ticking of her biological clock leaves Maggie torn between a desire to settle down like most of her similarly-aged peers and concern that all is not perfect in her existing relationship. When a spontaneous request for a temporary “break” from her live-in boyfriend results in a “break-up”, Maggie finds herself single once again and only twelve months from the big 4.0. In the profound yet bumpy year that follows, Maggie will learn, sometimes painfully, that life doesn’t always happen on a schedule, there are no deadlines in love, and age really is just a number.

Meredith Schorr, best-selling author of light women’s fiction digs deep in her newest novel and raises the age old issue of the ‘proverbial clock’ that haunts many women in a way that is refreshing and sassy no matter your age or relationship status.

My Review:

After reading “Blogger Girl” I became an instant fan of Meredith Schorr. So, when I was asked to read and review “How Do You Know?” I happily and eagerly accepted.

Where do I begin on how to express how much I enjoyed this book? From the first sentence to the last, the storyline and Maggie’s adventure on finding herself, captured my full attention. Though I don’t relate to Maggie (I can’t wait until I’m the big 4-0,), I really liked her character. Her struggle with aging and relationships (I couldn’t decide who I liked her with the best, but in the end, Maggie ended up with the right one) were quite humorous, and at times, had me laughing out loud. With a great support system of friends and family, I was cheering for Maggie the whole time, as she meandered her way through one eventful year, which taught her a lot about herself. “How Do You Know?” will easily be on my top five reads of 2014!

Though this is only the second book by Meredith Schorr, I am already waiting for another to come out. She’s a brilliant writer who creates stories you want to be part of, along with characters you want to be friends with. If you’re a fan of Emily Giffin, I highly recommend you pick up anything by Meredith Schorr!

I give “How Do You Know?” 5 stars!

**Buy Links: Amazon – US   Amazon – UK

Cyber Monday Book Sales!

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Looking for great deals on some amazing books this Cyber Monday? Look no more! Below are books that are priced at 99 cents or lower – get them quick before the sale ends! From chick lit to women’s fiction to romance and more, we have something to keep everyone happy for this holiday! Find a special tweet at the end of each description and help us spread the word about these amazing deals!

Chick Lit

pie girls lauren clarkPie Girls by Lauren Clark

Princess, Southern belle, and spoiled-rotten social climber Searcy Roberts swore on a stack of Bibles she’d never return home to Fairhope, Alabama. After marrying her high school sweetheart and moving to Atlanta, Searcy embraces big-city life—Carrie Bradshaw style.

But now, Searcy has a teeny, tiny problem. Her husband’s had a mid-life crisis. He’s quit his job, cancelled her credit cards, and left her for another man.

Searcy returns to Fairhope, ready to lick her wounds. But when her mother falls ill, she’s thrust into managing the family business—only to discover the beloved bakery is in danger of closing its doors forever.

Enlisting the help of the adorable bike store owner next door, an array of well-heeled customers, and her soon-to-be ex-husband, Searcy hatches the plan of the century to save Pie Girls.

Original Price: $3.99   Sale Price: $0.99

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Tweet: PIE GIRLS by @LaurenClark_Bks is just #99cents#chicklit for your ereader! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/1omATqP

DancingNakedInDixiePicDancing Naked in Dixie by Lauren Clark

Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.

With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she’s offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.

Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia’s story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?

Original Price: $3.99   Sale Price: $0.99

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Tweet: #CyberMondayReads – get DANCING NAKED IN DIXIE by @LaurenClark_Bks for only #99cents#chicklit #booksale http://amzn.to/10dXICb

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The Dr. Pepper Prophecies by Jennifer Gilby Roberts

25-year-old Mel Parker has a few tiny problems:
* Her job is terrible
* She’s been dumped yet again (and her ex is now her boss)
* Her parents think she’s a loser compared to her perfect younger sister
* All her efforts to improve her life seem doomed to failure
* There just isn’t enough chocolate in the world to make up for the above.

The best thing in her life has always been her best friend Will, who has seen her through every crisis from lost toys to pregnancy scares. But his girlfriend (who’s prettier, better-dressed, more successful and secretly evil) is determined to replace Mel as the woman in his life and how is Mel supposed to compete?

And what do you do when you’ve pretty much given up on your own life? You help others, of course!

Whether they like it or not.

Original Price: $2.99   Sale Price: $.99

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Tweet: #ChickLit Sale! THE DR. PEPPER PROPHECIES by @GilbyRoberts is only #99cents#CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/ZLDdvT

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French Twist by Glynis Astie

Sydney Bennett had spent her life in pursuit of perfection. She planned, weighed her options and made careful choices based on calculated outcomes. Through all of her efforts, she had come pretty close to perfection, if she didn’t say so herself. She had fled the cold winters in New York for sunny California, found a job that she loved and lived in the same town as her sister, and best friend, Kate. The one area of perfection that had always eluded her was her love life. No matter how hard she tried, she always ended up with a broken heart. After a particularly traumatic breakup, Sydney vowed that she was done with love.

Just as Sydney threw herself into her new plan to forget about men, a handsome Frenchman tossed all of her intentions out the window as he swept her off of her feet. Louis Durand had lived a life filled with excitement and adventure. He was impetuous, intelligent and incredibly charming. So naturally, he scared Sydney half to death. From the moment they met, Louis and Sydney’s romance progressed at warp speed. Sydney did her best not to run, but her deep rooted relationship anxiety threatened to provide an easy exit. When Louis mentioned marriage before Sydney even knew his favorite color, she was more than tempted to reach for her running shoes. Will she be able to put her fears aside to follow her heart? The one thing that Sydney will learn is that sometimes perfection comes with a twist…

Original Price: $.99   Sale Price: FREE

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Tweet: Who doesn’t love FREE #chicklit? Grab your copy of FRENCH TWIST by @GlynisAstie now! #CyberMondayReads http://amzn.to/10dZnaM

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French Toast by Glynis Astie

Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?
As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months.

With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

Original Price: $2.99   Sale Price: $.99

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Tweet: #CyberMondayReads: Get #chicklit for just #99cents! FRENCH TOAST by @GlynisAstie #booksale http://amzn.to/1yS3vLZ

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In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister

Lending a sympathetic ear and dispensing sage words of advice is all part of the job for psychologist Pilar Alvarez, and she’s everything a good therapist should be: warm, compassionate, supportive. She listens, she cares, and she has all the answers, but how’s the woman everyone turns to in their hour of need supposed to cope when her own life starts to fall apart?

While working hard to make a success of her recently-opened practice in trendy South Beach, Pilar must also find time to cater to the demands of her boisterous Cuban family, which includes younger sister Izzy, an unemployed, navel-pierced wild child who can’t stay out of trouble, and their mother, a beauty queen turned drama queen who’s equally obsessed with her fading looks and getting Pilar married before it’s “too late.” Although she’d like to oblige her mother and make a permanent love connection, Pilar’s romantic prospects look grim. Her cheating ex, who swears that he’s reformed, is stalking her. A hunky, but strictly off-limits, patient with bad-boy appeal and intimacy issues is making passes. And the sexy shrink in the suite across the hall has a gold band on his left ring finger.

When a series of personal and professional disasters lead Pilar into the arms of one of her unsuitable suitors, she’s left shaken, confused, and full of self-doubt. With time running out, she must make sense of her feelings and learn to trust herself again so that she can save her business, her family, and most importantly, her heart.

Original Price: $1.99   Sale Price: $.99

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Tweet: IN NEED OF THERAPY by @traciebanister is just #99cents for #CyberMondayReads! Get #chicklit for your eReader! http://amzn.to/1DsNPi0

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LimoncelloYellowCoverPicLimoncello Yellow by Traci Andrighetti

Francesca “Franki” Amato is a tough-talking rookie cop in Austin, Texas—until an unfortunate 911 call involving her boyfriend, Vince, and a German female wrestler convinces her once and for all that she just isn’t cut out for a life on the police force. So Franki makes the snap decision to move to New Orleans to work at her friend Veronica’s detective agency, Private Chicks, Inc. But Franki’s hopes for a more stable life are soon dashed when Private Chicks is hired by the prime suspect in a murder case to find out what really happened to a beautiful young boutique manager who was found strangled to death with a cheap yellow scarf. When she’s not investigating, Franki is hoping to seduce handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, but most of her time is spent dodging date offers from a string of “good Italian boys”—make that not-so-good aging Italian men—that her meddlesome Sicilian grandma has recruited as marriage candidates. As Mardi Gras approaches and the mystery of the murdered shop girl gets more complicated, Franki must decipher the odd ramblings of a Voodoo priestess to solve both the murder and the mystery of her own love life.

Original Price: $3.99   Sale Price: $.99

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Tweet: LIMONCELLO YELLOW by @TAndrighetti is just #99cents for a limited time! #CyberMondayReads #chicklit http://amzn.to/1zhY8Xo

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Prosecco Pink by Traci Andrighetti

For Franki Amato, life in New Orleans is anything but “The Big Easy.” When she met handsome bank executive Bradley Hartmann, she knew she’d finally found a man she could trust. But she can’t say the same for his sexy new secretary, who is about as trustworthy as Mata Hari and every bit as seductive. Meanwhile, Franki’s best friend and employer, Veronica Maggio, has named her the lead investigator in the murder of a gorgeous cosmetics CEO who was found lying dead in the master bedroom of a historic plantation home.

Now the pressure is on Franki to figure out what a bottle of pink lip gloss and the legend of a pink diamond have to do with the bizarre killing. The problem is that the plantation is notorious for being haunted, and Franki is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of meeting a ghost. Adding to her stress, her Sicilian grandma is up to her usual meddling antics—this time planning Franki’s engagement to Bradley before he’s even considered popping the question. As Bradley grows distant and plantation employees begin dropping like Southern belles during a sweltering summer, Franki turns to a psychic with a phobia of ghosts to solve the mysterious murders and her own relationship fears.

Original Price: $3.99   Sale Price: $.99

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Tweet: Get #chicklit for just #99cents when you grab PROSECCO PINK by @TAndrighetti during #CyberMondayReadshttp://amzn.to/14djjw6

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Braking the Rules by Cat Lavoie

When twenty-seven year old Roxy Rule’s best friend and roommate accepts a glamorous new job overseas, she expects their relationship to continue as it’s always been—carefree and easy—until they share a heart-stopping kiss moments before his departure. Overcome with mixed emotions, she fights the urge to over analyze the situation and resumes back to her normal life in New York City, working for an intolerable boss at a dead end job, creeping further and further away from her own dreams of becoming a professional chef.

While things become more complicated between her and Ollie, Roxy is sure that nothing can come between two lifelong best friends—not even mild jealousy over a thriving career or a silly little kiss that meant nothing. In fact, it was such a meaningless and forgettable kiss that she convinces herself that it’s not even worth mentioning to her fiancé, although it is all she can think about.

Roxy’s already topsy-turvy life only gets more complicated when her sisters Steffi and Izzie suddenly become her roommates. Steffi is six months into a pregnancy she refuses to discuss and Izzie is in the throes of a premature midlife crisis. Roxy tries to take control of her career, her love life and her sisters – but can she really handle it all? And can the Rule family keep it together – or break under the pressure?

Original Price: $3.99   Sale Price: $.99

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Tweet: BREAKING THE RULES by @Catenabi is just #99cents for #CyberMondayReads – fun #chicklit#booksale http://amzn.to/1umGCxm

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Zoey & the Moment of Zen by Cat Lavoie

When coffee shop owner Zoey Everwood takes her obsession with ex-boyfriend Braden too far, everyone—except Zoey—is convinced a bit of fun in the sun at the Moment of Zen Wellness Resort will help her get over him once and for all.

But Zoey’s relaxing vacation turns out to be anything but peaceful when she meets Shane Lawson, a resort guest who bears a striking resemblance to Braden. And things get even more complicated when the resort’s owner starts spilling secrets about Zoey’s aunt Nessa, the woman who raised her. Add a snarky Wellness Coordinator and Nate Holmes—Shane’s grumpy friend—to the mix, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect tropical storm.

When Zoey comes back home with a new husband instead of tacky souvenirs, she must convince everyone she hasn’t completely lost her mind. As Zoey and Shane struggle to keep the magic alive outside the resort, Zoey discovers that she isn’t the only one having trouble letting go of the past. And when Nate drops a bombshell that changes everything, Zoey must decide if the old saying is true—what happens at the Moment of Zen stays at the Moment of Zen.

Original Price: $3.99   Sale Price: $.99

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WhenGirlfriendsChaseDreamsCoverPicWhen Girlfriends Chase Dreams by Savannah Page

A novel about chasing dreams, for better or worse, and living your love story.

Claire Linley is finally a bride! After nearly ten years with her college freshman sweetheart, Claire is going to become Mrs. Conner Whitley. She’s got her bridal magazines, is the biggest Martha Stewart fan, and subscribes to all the major wedding blogs. She’s been dreaming of this moment for years! How could planning her dream wedding be anything but perfect?

The easy-going and bubbly type, Claire will obviously have a blast planning, and with her fantastic group of girlfriends-made-bridesmaids she just can’t go wrong. Whether it’s wedding gown shopping, makeup trials, or cake-tasting, Claire’s friends are there in a pinch.

But how big does the pinch get? All Claire wants to do is get married, but at every turn something seems to go awry and she’s starting to lose it. How is a girl supposed to remain cool and collected when the pricey dream wedding planner isn’t turning out to be so dreamy? When DIY projects and the perfect venue are going up in smoke? How is Claire supposed to marry Conner when the special day that’s supposed to join them together, forever, is slowly tearing them apart?

This is the charming story about how sometimes the biggest events in life are defined by the smallest acts of kindness and love. It’s a love story about dreaming large, loving deeply, and, in the end, truly having the happiest day of your life, no matter what happens (or doesn’t). About what happens when girlfriends chase dreams.

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WhenGirlfriendsCollectionCover

When Girlfriends Collection by Savannah Page

This digital boxed set includes the first three novels of the When Girlfriends collection: When Girlfriends Break Hearts, When Girlfriends Step Up, and When Girlfriends Make Choices. 

WHEN GIRLFRIENDS BREAK HEARTS

Follow Sophie Wharton as she learns what to do about matters of the heart when things don’t quite go according to plan.

A novel about the bonds of friendship, the power of forgiveness, and the lessons you learn when you let go.

WHEN GIRLFRIENDS STEP UP

Join mom-to-be Robin Sinclair as she embarks on a journey she never could have imagined.

A novel about love and support, and learning that with enduring friendships, no woman is ever alone.

WHEN GIRLFRIENDS MAKE CHOICES

Follow Lara Kearns as she struggles with how far she’ll go for true love…however forbidden…

A novel about forbidden love, the choices you make, and discovering what’s important in life.

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Women’s Fiction

TorontoCollection1CoverPicToronto Collection Volume One by Heather Wardell

“Go Small or Go Home”: When massage therapist and aspiring artist Tess begins treating stressed but attractive hockey star Forrest, her art career soars due to his gallery-owning mother, but her creativity plummets under the weight of rules and deadlines. Soon, she’s lost the freedom and joy she’d always found in art. Is having her dream career worth losing doing her art her way, or can she somehow have both at once?

“Planning to Live”: Determined to lose weight for her best friend’s wedding, goal-obsessed Rhiannon flees her parents’ Christmas Day feast to avoid overeating but her car skids off the deserted road into a tree. Trapped and bleeding, with her cell phone out of reach, she struggles to escape, and to accept that she’s spent her whole life planning but hasn’t ever really lived. Will she get the chance to change that?

“Stir Until Thoroughly Confused”: Mary’s given up everything, including an unsatisfying marriage, to become a chef. But the career comes with a side dish: Kegan, her sexy but controlling new boss. They’re soon in a relationship, and in all-too-frequent arguments, and when it becomes clear they can’t work together and be together Mary faces a dilemma: keep her dream job or her dream man?

“A Life That Fits”: Twenty-eight-year-old Andrea is devastated when her boyfriend of fourteen years leaves her for a woman he calls Andrea’s opposite. Determined to get him back, Andrea changes everything in her life. New clothes, new activities, new friends… she’ll be her opposite in no time. But will she change enough to get Alex back? And if she does, will he fit into her new life?

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Toronto Collection Volume Two by Heather Wardell

“Live Out Loud”: Songwriter Amy wants to honor her late best friend by starting the support center for teenage girls they’d planned when they were just girls themselves. When her song becomes an internet sensation she sees how to get the money she needs, but soon realizes she adores her new pop star career. She must choose: create the center she needed herself as a teen or truly become Misty Will, pop princess.

“Blank Slate Kate”: Waking up with a strange man is scary. Realizing you lost fifteen years of your life overnight? That’s terrifying. With her memories from seventeen to thirty-two gone, Kate has no idea who she is and where she belongs. As she begins to fall for the man who found her, she wonders if she forgot those years for a reason. Should she keep trying to retrieve her original self, or start a new life?

“Finding My Happy Pace”: If thirty-year-old Megan were any more of a doormat, she’d have footprints on her back. She takes up running to strengthen her body, but marathon training with cute but heartbroken coach Andrew strengthens her assertiveness too. When her best friend’s demands threaten her race Megan must decide: cave in as she always has before or stick to her new-found ‘happy pace’ in running and life.

“All At Sea”: Three months after they met, Melissa will marry Owen on his family’s annual cruise. He’s a great catch, though, so although they’re moving fast she’s sure they’ll be fine. But when he proves to be a gambler and deserts her for the onboard casino, she wonders if she really knows him and if their marriage will meet her needs. Melissa must decide: stay with Owen or jump ship.

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RedesigningRoseCoverPicRedesigning Rose by Lydia Laceby

Rose Parker’s husband has been lying. About everything.

When a conversation with her husband triggers questions, Rose Parker uncovers alarming answers that shatter her perfect life. But it is only when she shoves her belongings in her SUV and drives off that Rose realizes just how far from perfect her life actually was. She has nowhere to turn.

While debating between distressing sleeping arrangements–her mother’s house full of questions or a hotel room with too much solitude–Rose bumps into an acquaintance from her gardening class and allows bubbly, exuberant Becky to indulge her in a wild night full of whiskey, weeping, and whispered confidences. Suddenly, Rose has a new friend, a roof over her head, and two gorgeous men moving her out of her marital home.

As Rose struggles to settle into her new life, she remains determined to comprehend her past. And with time and distance and especially wine, comes knowledge. Frank wasn’t the only one lying to her. Rose was lying to herself.

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TheHoldoutCoverPicThe Holdout by Laurel Osterkamp

Robin wanted to win The Holdout, a cutthroat reality TV show, so she gave it her all, challenge after challenge. Then she fell for Grant, with his irresistible eyes and heartbreaking life story.

But Grant was only using Robin as they competed for a million dollars. Once home, Robin wants to hide from the humiliation as episodes of The Holdout are aired, and she worries her family was right all along; she’s not a survivor.

Yet she could surprise everyone, and have the last laugh.

Besides, Robin now has jury duty. And as she forges ahead, confronting her demons about bravery, justice, and romance, Robin will come to decide which is more important: the courage to stand alone, or the strength to love again.

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The Next Breath by Laurel Osterkamp

“I kiss him, choosing love over honesty, which is a choice nobody should ever have to make…”

Robin loves sweet, responsible Nick, with his penchant for Beethoven and Ben Folds Five. But she also still loves her college boyfriend Jed, an irreverent playwright plagued with cystic fibrosis. Now Robin is struggling to reveal her secrets and confront her past, as she finally performs in the play that Jed wrote for her, eleven years ago. Will Robin have the strength to keep her promise and stay true to her heart?

Alternating between present-day scenes, college flashbacks, and segments from Jed’s play, this tear-jerking yet uplifting tale illustrates how life is finite but love is infinite, and the road to recovery begins with the next breath.

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CouldaWouldaShouldaCoverPicCoulda, Woulda, Shoulda by Tara Lee Reed

Elle Masters is over dating. It used to be fun: the drama, the angst, the exhilarating beginnings, the bittersweet middles, the blowout endings. Then the tears, hangovers, rebounds, and another addition to the Heartbreak Box in her closet. Now Elle can’t remember the last time a guy made his way into her box. When her friends Rachel and Valerie insist she snap out of her post-breakup funk with a girls’ night out/rebound hunt at a San Francisco bar, she isn’t expecting tall, dark, and hummuna-hummuna, Nick Wright. This is no rebound guy. He’s definitely, maybe, The One. In Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda, you play Elle as she and her pals put the “antics” in “romantics.” You’ll question everything you thought you knew about love, over-analyzing and second-guessing your way through hundreds of modern dating dilemmas and passionate predicaments. With 60 Happily Sometimes Afters, you’ll always have another chance with Mr. Wright.

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A Questionable Friendship by Samantha March

Brynne Ropert and Portland Dolish have been best friends since being paired as roommates in college. Seven years later they are now twenty-five, married, and living in Maine–– but the two women couldn’t be more different. Brynne finds fulfillment in her life as a wife, mother and owner of a small café and bookshop, but is struggling to expand her family. Portland is still coping with her mother’s death during her childhood, and her marriage is unraveling before her eyes. Portland envies her friend’s seemingly stable and easy life while Brynne doesn’t understand the growing distance between them and cannot begin to guess what secret Portland is hiding about her husband and crumbling marriage. While one woman feels shut out, the other enters into a web of lies to protect herself.

A Questionable Friendship explores what really makes someone a true friend, a support system, a sister. How much trust goes into a friendship and when is being a friend not enough? Brynne and Portland’s story will attempt to answer those questions, and show that happily ever after isn’t in the cards for everyone.

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SomethingYellowCoverPicSomething Yellow by Laura Templeton

Thirteen years ago, Holly’s nine-year-old sister, Rachel, disappeared without a trace. Thirteen years ago, Holly left her hometown. Thirteen years ago, Holly’s first love and high school boyfriend, Houston, was the only suspect. Now, another girl has disappeared. Holly is back, and so is Houston—never charged and still proclaiming his innocence. Can she trust him? Should she trust him?

When out-of-work banking executive Holly McCann moves to the rural mountain town of White Cove, Virginia to care for her dying mother, the past collides with the present. A violent crime against her nine-year-old neighbor evokes memories of the eerily similar disappearance of her sister thirteen years earlier. Holly is thrilled by the arrival of her estranged brother, Oliver, but concerned by his mysterious behavior. She is befriended by the new minister, Jonah, an outsider haunted by his own painful past, but it is Houston Phelps, the only person arrested for the disappearance of her sister, who forces Holly to confront the past and start living in the present.

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Romance & New Adult

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The Right Design by Isabella Louise Anderson

Interior designer Carrie Newman could not have envisioned a more perfect life for herself. She had a great job doing what she loved, wonderful friends, and a close relationship with her sister and brother-in-law. Add in an amazing man who she’d hoped would soon become her husband, and her life was perfect. Until one devastating decision ruins her relationship and changes the course of her life.

Determined to make a new start, Carrie leaves Texas and heads to Palm Beach to pick up the pieces of her shattered and broken life. The last thing she expects is to find herself attracted to her first client at her new job–Brad Larson, who has proven himself time and time again to be caddish.

But there’s something beneath the surface of Brad’s arrogant exterior that keeps her craving more of him–something almost sweet that Carrie can’t seem to resist.

Is Carrie ready to take another chance on romance? And will this new design of her life prove to be the right one?

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LaurelHeightsCoverPicLaurel Heights by Denise Moncrief

A dark cloud of deceit hovers over her family tree…

Left an estate by an aunt she’s never met, Laurel Standridge takes possession of Laurel Heights, hoping it will be the safe haven she needs to recuperate from her ill-fated relationship with Rand Peterson. Secrets long buried rise to the surface when her cousin James is murdered and dumped on the highway just outside the gates of Laurel Heights.

Her past trails her to the mountains of Arkansas…

Caught in an obligation Chase Peterson feels he cannot ignore, he agrees to help his brother Rand take back the property he believes Laurel stole from him, but Chase remains at Laurel Heights after he discovers Laurel took nothing of Rand’s away with her except nightmares, fading bruises, and a broken rib.

Unexplained disturbances shatter her hopes of a normal life…

Are the strange bumps, thumps, and bangs reverberating through the night caused by the murderer of Laurel’s cousin James, someone Rand has sent to exact his revenge, or a disturbed soul existing in another dimension, trying to communicate with the living? Drawn together by the intrigue surrounding Laurel Heights, Chase and Laurel become hopelessly entangled in a relationship that goes deeper than mere physical attraction. Can their love survive the haunting of Laurel Heights?

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ChezStinkyCoverPicChaz Stinky by Susan C. Daffron

Kat Stevens is a slightly insecure, mostly bored technical writer who likes her cat a lot more than her boss. She hasn’t laid eyes on her great aunt Abigail since she was eight, so she’s stumped when she inherits Abigail’s house in the small hamlet of Alpine Grove.Kat’s uncomplicated life gets decidedly less so when she discovers the inheritance comes with some hairy conditions: four dogs and five cats that her aunt wanted her to love as her own. Of course, the house smells like a barn–with a touch of antique skunk–and, naturally, has serious roof issues. And that’s before the three-legged cat gets stuck in the wall and the shower goes kablooey.

When Kat meets Joel, an unemployed techie type with no love lost for his sister, Kat looks past his obvious flaws, given his timely and desirable skill set: a talent for fixing things (and his own tools). Despite out-of-control dogs, cat fights, dust dinosaurs, massive spiders and an old grizzled hippie passed out in the yard, Kat discovers the tranquility of the forests of Alpine Grove starting to seep into her soul. And why she can’t she stop thinking about Joel?

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HardHats&DoormatsCoverPicHard Hats and Doormats by Laura Chapman

Lexi Burke has always been a stickler for following rules and procedures. As a human resources manager for a leading Gulf Coast chemical company, it’s her job to make sure everyone else falls in line, too.

But after losing out on a big promotion–-because her boss sees her as too much of a yes-woman––Lexi adopts a new policy of following her heart instead of the fine print. And her heart knows what it wants: Jason Beaumont, a workplace crush who is off limits based on her previous protocol.

While navigating a new romance and interoffice politics, Lexi must find the confidence to stand on her own or face a lifetime of following someone else’s orders.

Who says nice girls have to finish last?

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Petit Four

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“Petit Four”

Blurb: Cake is often a major part of life’s celebrations, both big and small. From birthdays to wedding days, cake, in all its delectable concoctions, marks joyous occasions with a sweetness that can’t be beat. But even better is the love that is shared when two people connect over a sweet confection. Maybe it’s a cute new guy wreaking havoc on a broken heart, or a beautiful woman testing the limits of love, or an old beau stirring up long lost desires. Whatever the circumstances, cake can always be relied upon to save the day when it comes to affairs of the heart. In this collection of short stories, cake is the delicious center around which each tale unfolds and romance blooms.

When single mom and journalist, Olivia, sets out to find romance in Cindy Arora’s “Cake Therapy,” she gets a little help from her friends and more than a few slices of cake to coax her off the couch and into the arms of a truly great love. Lucie Simone’s “Aprez Vous” finds success-driven Tara in Paris reminiscing of her long lost love, Jean Marc, and her niece bound and determined to reunite them. In “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson, cake enthusiast, Milly, meets her match in the kitchen, and other places, when new owners take over the tea rooms where she works and her talents and her heart are put to the test. And Scott, mayor of a small seaside community, flirts with political suicide in Joel Zlotnik’s “Her Charms” when he falls for new-in-town Nicole, an entrepreneur with a passion for cupcakes, and whose latest venture proves a little too sexy for the sleepy beach town.

From San Francisco to Paris, from small towns to tea rooms, this anthology tempts readers with humor, style, romance, and the powerful aphrodisiac that is cake. Petit Four is four stories, frosted with love.

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Excerpt for “Aprez Vous” by Lucie Simone

“Does your mother know you packed that outfit?” Tara said to the empty room. She doubted her sister would have let Marissa out of the house knowing that skirt was in her suitcase. Meg was what magazines called a ‘helicopter parent.’ It was practically a miracle that she’d even let Marissa go on this trip. But Tara had assured her that she’d keep Marissa out of trouble. Besides, it was her job as an aunt to spoil her rotten.

Growing up in the quiet suburbs of Charleston, South Carolina, Meg and Tara had been raised on a proper Southern diet of hospitality, grace, and censure. While Meg was always the ‘good girl,’ Tara had acquired a more rebellious reputation in her teen years with her green Doc Martens, purple hair, and passionate political debates. In fact, her summer excursion to Europe only happened because she had earned a full ride to New York University and her father figured she deserved a bit of fun before freshman year. Whereas Meg had always been tied to their mother’s apron strings, Tara was Daddy’s girl. And it was his word that ruled the household.

Now, Tara slipped on her sandals and dropped her bag on the console table in the foyer. Beyond the French doors in the living room, the sun was indeed descending past the horizon, and soon the Eiffel Tower would burst into light. They’d never make it to the park in time for the show.

She went into the kitchen and retrieved the complimentary bottle of champagne from the refrigerator, a bottle of sparking water for Marissa, and two flutes from the cupboard, and headed out to the balcony. Settling in on the chaise lounge, she saw her niece step into the living room wearing a pair of jeans, Vans, and a T-Shirt emblazoned with Che Guevara’s image. Well, there was a little Tara in her after all.

“Munchkin! Out here,” Tara called.

Marissa hurried out onto the balcony. “What’s going on?”

“We won’t make it in time for the light show, so let’s watch it from here.”

Marissa took a seat, folding her legs under her as Tara carefully opened the bottle of champagne, wrapping a towel around the top and twisting until the familiar ‘pop,’ signaling a celebration, rang out.

“Oh, but it didn’t fizz all over the place,” Marissa said, slightly disappointed.

“That only happens to amateurs.”

Marissa picked up one of the flutes from the table between them and held it out to Tara.

“Nope. Sparkling water for you, little Miss.

“But we’re in France. It’s legal here.”

“Not on my watch. Your mother would have my head.”

“Okay,” Marissa sighed, twisting the cap off the bottle of Perrier as the last ray of sunshine slid beneath the horizon.

“Watch,” Tara said, pointing with her glass at the Eiffel Tower in the near distance as it exploded into sparkling light.

It blazed white and gold and a huge spotlight erupted from the top of the tower like a beacon. Both women watched in silence for the next ten minutes as the structure twinkled in the darkness, Tara gazing part of the time at Marissa, her face aglow with joy and wonder. She remembered that feeling, the first time she saw the tower light up. The feeling that anything was possible. It was as captivating then as it was now. And as the lights settled into a steady golden hue, she lifted her glass of champagne in a toast.

“To Paris,” Marissa said, raising her flute.

“To new memories,” Tara said, clinking her glass against her niece’s.

LucieSimonePic2**About Lucie Simone: Lucie Simone has a passion for travel, romance and all things chick lit. She also has a degree in Journalism and a Master of Fine Arts in Television Production. She is the author of novels, Hollywood Ending and Picture Perfect, both offering an insider’s take on life in the City of Angels. Her love of comedy (and living under the delusion that she might one day be an actress) resulted in a stint studying improvisation, which, ironically enough, taught her to be a better writer. She lives in Los Angeles (and loves it), but considers New York City her imaginary second home and visits the Big Apple as often as her bank account will allow. For more information on Lucie, please visit her website at www.luciesimone.com.

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Excerpt for “Cake Therapy” by Cindy Arora

  The first time I met Tammy Kovac, she was eating a slice of cake at her cluttered desk while angrily telling someone on the phone to “kiss her well-toned ass” right before she slammed the phone down so hard I was sure it would burst in her hands.

I clutched the paperwork Human Resources had given me and took a few steps back as I reconsidered introducing myself. Suddenly the idea of working with ‘Tammy the Terror’ didnt seem as exciting as it did, well…terrifying.

“What kind of cake do you like?” She swiveled her desk chair to face me, and I stumbled back, surprised she knew I was hovering nervously behind her.  She stared impatiently at me, and I found myself speechless as I took in my first impression of the Pulitzer Prize winning reporter. She was disarmingly pretty, in that natural way that girls appreciate and admire. Her sandy blonde hair was neatly pulled into a high ponytail, her brown eyes looked at me curiously, and her lips were glossed in a peaches-n-cream sheen giving her a girl-next-door look. But you could feel the trouble. She had that glint about her that revealed she could somehow convince you to do things you never thought you would or could.

It was an instant girl crush for me. But the feeling was not mutual.

I don’t like cake,” I answered truthfully. “Ive just never really been a big fan of sweets, and honestly, its a waste of calories if you think about it.”

A. Waste. Of. Calories? Who says absurd things like that?” Tammy looked at me with a mixture of outraged interest and disappointment. She leaned over and picked up my freshly printed press badge I had proudly put on just a few moments earlier.

Olivia Cisneros, Staff Reporter, SF Bridge News

 “My mom used to always say cake is the great uniter. It can bring people together in ways that national leaders havent even figured out yet.”

I blinked at her, still unsure of where all this cake talk was going to lead to.

You do realize its the only food that can make an entire room of virtual strangers burst into song?”

“You mean, ‘Happy Birthday?’” I said confused, realizing that she was right, but also never having really seen it as a social commentary. But she did have a point.

She gave me an exasperated look right before she picked up the police scanner sitting on her desk that buzzed with inaudible chatter. She turned the volume up and leaned in to make out what the dispatchers were saying on the other end.

“Do we need to head out?” I asked her and handed her my paperwork listing her as my mentor for the first three months at SF Bridge News. She quickly read through the paperwork and handed it back to me.

“No, its a standard robbery call. Youll get the details from the Watch Commander later.”

She tossed the scanner onto the desk, and I stared at it longingly.

“Listen, O-Livia, cake isnt just something you have on your birthday. And its definitely not something you claim not to like because of calories. Wheres your lust for life? Cake has history, its a tradition, and it tastes utterly fantastic when everything else is falling apart. And around here, in this never-ending hamster wheel that is journalism, the world falls apart every five minutes, so you better get used to it.”

CindyAroraPic**About Cindy Arora: Cindy Arora was a staff writer at The San Gabriel Valley Tribune, The Orange County Register and Sacramento Magazine. She’s been published in Saveur, Tasting Table, Orange Coast Magazine and Fodor’s. She’s also mama to an adorable little boy, a feminist, a whiskey enthusiast, and proud to call herself a Chick Lit author. She is the author of Heartbreak Cake, a delicious debut novel, and a contributor to the anthology, Merry & Bright, with her story, “Christmas at Mulberry Inn.” To learn more about Cindy, please visit www.cindyarora.com.

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Excerpt for “The Heart-Shaped Secret of Raspberry Jam” by Sue Watson

He gazed into the menu while she watched him, thinking what a lovely suit he was wearing. It was navy blue and beautifully cut, probably very expensive, worn with an open-necked shirt. She was staring at his neck when he looked up and into her eyes. Despite his cool demeanour, she saw a flicker of something. He had gorgeous brown eyes, soft around the edges, the colour of coffee cake, and they were smiling.

“Now, what would you recommend from the menu?” he asked.

Ooh, we have an extensive cake range, sir. All classic recipes, but I particularly like the Black Forest,” she said, warming to her favourite subject—cake. “I’m a purist when it comes to the old Black Forest combo:chocolate, cherries, kirsch. It speaks for itself, in my view. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” She said this in an American accent and immediately regretted it. She wasn’t very good at accents, and it came out all wrong.

He smiled, clearly trying not to laugh at her, but she carried on anyway. “We also do a good coffee and walnut. What’s not to love? Delicious walnut sponge made with freshly ground coffee, which is echoed in the rich buttercream. I love coffee and walnut, but I make it at home with coffee liqueur for an extra kick. It makes it a little more, I don’t know, somehow edgier. I mean, coffee and walnut can be a bit of a well-worn cliché, so you need to ‘sex it up’ a little.”

He watched her patiently. She couldn’t tell whether he was bored or mesmerised by her cake monologue.

“The same applies to my grown-up lemon cupcakes. Classic recipe with a sexy twist…limoncello.” She said this with an awful Italian accent and kissed her fingers. He didn’t flinch. She felt rather silly. Why did she feel the need to get ‘in character’ with every cake she mentioned?

“Then, next on the menu is lemon drizzle cake,” she continued, being more serious now. “Another favourite. It’s citrusy and bittersweet and makes your jaws ache. I like to add a little fresh lemon zest just before it leaves the kitchen, to give that lemony punch. The aroma always reminds me of summer. Then, there are some bad boy brownies. Oh, and we have kickass Battenberg. Lovely almondy marzipan edged around cute little squares of pink and yellow sponge. But then there’s also chocolate fudge cake, which is delicious warm, bathed in ice cream.” Her pen was now poised over her notebook. “So what will it be?”

“I’m sorry, could you tell me again? I’ve forgotten what you said.”

Milly was open-mouthed, until she realised he was teasing. “Ha. It would take me hours to say all that again. I’m glad I don’t have to choose. I wouldn’t know what to pick. Hell, I’d order them all.” She giggled.

“Well, if that’s your considered advice? Okay.” He put down the menu. “And I’ll have a pot of Earl Grey tea to go with that.”

“To go with….”

“To go with the cake.”

“Yes, but which cake?”

“The ones you recommended.”

“But I recommended them all.”

“Yes, and I’d like to try them all.”

“When I said, if it were me, I’d order them all, I didn’t mean…”

“You’re my waitress. You suggested I order them all, so I’m taking your advice. As I am paying for them, I believe I can order as many cakes as I like.”

“Of course.” She felt stupid again.

“Oh, I see there are also cupcakes on the menu, too?”

She was hoping the cupcakes didn’t come up, but she had to be honest.

Well, I’m afraid they aren’t ready, sir.”

“Oh, what a disappointment. I’d heard they were quite good here.”

“Yes. It’s just…the baker had a few technical problems, and he had to leave early.”

“Technical problems? With cupcakes? That’s a new one.”

She felt awkward now. “They are only out of the oven and need frosting. I haven’t had time to do them yet.”

“I could try one without?”

“A naked cupcake? I’m sorry, I couldn’t serve an undressed cupcake. It would be indecent.”

SueWatsonPic**About Sue Watson: Sue Watson is a former BBC TV Producer who woke up one morning to the realisation that there was no such thing as ‘having it all.’ Marriage, motherhood and a full-time career were taking over her life and what she really wanted to do was stay home all day, bake and eat cake, watch reality TV and write… in that order. So she quit the day job, baked a year’s supply of cupcakes and chased the dream. What followed was a lot of cake and many hours in the company of ‘The Real Housewives of New Jersey,’  ‘The Biggest Loser,’ and ‘Keeping up with the Kardashians.’ During this, time Sue also managed to write a few books too:  Fat Girls and Fairy CakesYounger, Thinner, Blonder; Love, Lies and Lemon Cake; and her latest cake offering, Snow Angels, Secrets and Christmas Cake. Learn more about Sue by visiting www.suewatsonbooks.com.

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Excerpt for “Her Charms” by Joel Zlotnik

For the last eight months she’s been bringing him cupcakes more or less once a week. The first full batch was waiting for him on his doorstep when he got home from City Hall the day after their date at The Vault. He was half a step away from a loafer covered in red velvet and vanilla buttercream frosting before the shiny silver pizza charm caught his eye. It sat atop the cupcake in the center of the plate, surrounded by five tasty companions. He brought them inside and picked up the center cupcake. A little snack before dinner couldn’t hurt, could it? He slowly peeled away the liner, releasing the scent of the red velvet. As it mixed with the sweet aroma of the buttercream, he wondered if one could be a cupcake connoisseur. ‘Have you tried the ’06 Duncan Hines Triple Chocolate? An excellent vintage for sure, but the ’08 Betty Crocker Molten Chocolate is life altering.’ Scott laughed out loud and it echoed through the empty house. He took a bite and decided he should in fact become a cupcake connoisseur. Another bite and he freed the cupcake completely from its liner where he noticed what looked like writing. He brushed away a few red crumbs from the waxy paper and pulled his steel-rimmed reading glasses from the inside pocket of his sport coat that he had hung on the stool at the kitchen counter. He read and re-read the note and his whole body felt like smiling.

Sweetest S,

Because we never did get dessert!

XoXo

N

He unwrapped the remaining cupcakes hoping for more messages but there was only the one. After having another for breakfast the next morning, he decided to bring the rest into work. The quizzical looks as to why there were unwrapped cupcakes in the break room quickly evaporated after the first bites. His secretary Laurie popped her head in his office just as she was polishing off half of one herself.

“Good morning, Mayor. So the cupcake lady strikes again?” She tapped her fingers against the doorway grinning like a teenager probing her BFF for first date details.

“Good morning to you,” Scott shot back with just enough of a grimace to shut down her inquiry. “I’ll pass along that you liked them.”

Laurie came with the office when Scott got elected. She was in her late twenties, a five-foot-two fireball of energy who spoke so fast, her words flew from her mouth like a speeding freight train. She took an interest in Scott that landed somewhere between mild crush and big brother. And in either case, the fact that her boss was the mayor—a position that usually commanded at least a hint of respect—seemed of little consequence to Laurie.

“Will you just answer one question?” And before he could respond, she added, “Do you think we’ll be getting more? I love, love, love cupcakes.”

“Are you giggling, Laurie?” Scott lowered his voice, but was having a hard time covering up his amusement.

“That’s a yes, isn’t it?”

“Get to work, Laurie.”

JoelZlotnikPic**About Joel Zlotnik: Joel Zlotnik is a former Southern California journalist who was lucky enough to find a second career on the other side of the notepad, answering questions instead of asking them. He recently cancelled his cable so he would write more and quickly discovered online binge watching. You can find him living at the beach in South Orange County, where he listens to records, reads and watches the waves. Find some of his essays and short fiction at www.joelzlotnik.com.

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Tequila and Tea Bags

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“Tequila & Tea Bags” by Laura Barnard

Blurb: Sent to live with her cousin Elsie in the Yorkshire countryside, Rose has only one thing on her mind; joining her friends as a club rep in Mexico.

When she hears about a council incentive offering the promise of free flights to the person who clocks the most volunteering hours at the local care home, she’s got her plan set.

But she doesn’t plan on bonding with the old ladies, going after the village bad boy and trying to persuade Elsie not to become a Nun.

Soon she’s questioning who her real friends are and whether her old life is one she wants to return to.

Can the village win her over and will she win the chance to leave it behind? Will she even want to?

Tequila&TeaBagsExcerpt**Buy “Tequila & Tea Bags”:

Amazon – US   Amazon – UK

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The Shadows Series

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“The Shadows Series” by Marni Mann

Blurbs:

Reader’s Beware: This is not your mother’s romance, nor is there a rich, playboy millionaire seducing an innocent virgin. Charlie leads a passionate, controversial, and thought-provoking life – the sex scenes will make you blush, the twists will make you gasp in disbelief and the characters’ angst and pain will make your heart ache. Prepare to dive into a highly sensual, unique storyline with substance and a touch of darkness – as well as explicit language and descriptive sexual content. After all, real life is lived in the shadows, and Marni will take you there. But love can linger in the darkness….

Seductive Shadows (Book One)

Charlie is a sensually-inspired art student, desperately seeking an escape from the abusive past that haunts her and a tragic accident that emptied her heart. Scarred and unable to love, her yearning for physical pleasure leads her into a tantalizing, dangerous world of power and seduction. The anonymity of the deal offers security; the money brings financial freedom and the madam is the mother figure she longs for.

But the thrill of the mansion and its arousing dominance quickly fades when she meets renowned-yet-mysterious Cameron Hardy, whose intense baby blue eyes send a nervous flutter through her core. Cameron is sexy, and not in a subtle way. He stimulates Charlie’s art, her intellect and her desires. Just as he begins to break through her emotional boundaries, she discovers a devastating connection between her past and her scandalous work at the mansion, shattering everything she thought to be true.

Provocative, intoxicating and erotic, Seductive Shadows is the unforgettable tale of a young woman’s self-discovery as she learns to forgive, to love and be loved, and to find redemption amidst a remarkable journey that will captivate your mind and stimulate your soul.

Seductive Secrecy (Book Two)

“We were two broken souls who had found each other in a world of shadows. We were held together by a connection of secrets, dark and fearful and reluctant to leave. Their depth was seductive and overwhelming, an endless ocean of black that threatened to cover the brilliance we kept reaching for with each other.”

With her art career flourishing and the mansion predators no longer a threat, Charlie is creating a new life. Her desires have changed, and she has a chance at a healthy, loving relationship with Cameron–if they can bury the memories and doubts that plague them.

Can they overcome the destruction of their clouded pasts, or will the revelation of more painful, shocking secrets pull them back into the shadows?

These books are for mature audiences. They contain explicit language and sexual content.

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Excerpt:

“It was well worth the wait to see you like this,” he said.

Keeping my eyes fixed on him, I turned on my heels so he could see both sides, and completed the full twist. “You have excellent taste.”

He shook his head. “You’d look good in anything.”

I could tell by the way he gripped the molding of the door that he was having a hard time keeping his hands off me. As much as I needed them on my body, the feeling of want that consumed me felt so good that I could tolerate it for a little longer.

“Sometimes I look at you and I’m amazed that you’re mine.”

I knew the words had come from his mouth, but it felt as if I had spoken them. It was exactly what I’d been thinking; that, after everything we had experienced together, everything he knew about me, he still treated me the way he did. He still wanted me as much as he had before he knew the truth. He showed me continuously that he wanted me even more. And I felt the same. Cameron made me insatiable; as much as he gave me, I wanted to be even closer than we were. I wanted his breath to come from my mouth every time I exhaled.

He didn’t take a step forward. He just reached out his hand and felt along the shrug, following the fabric until he arrived at the knot between my breasts. He untied both sides and pulled it off my shoulders. His fingers then circled around me, and without warning he yanked me toward him. My palms settled on his chest, my mouth moving closer to his as he had bent his neck to reach me. Our lips didn’t touch; they hovered, each waiting for the other to close the gap.

We simmered in the temptation.

He was the first one to move. His mouth finally crushed against mine, his tongue dipping inside with each kiss. After several, he pulled away. We were both left breathless, our chests rising and falling as we tried to calm ourselves.

“Walk to the bed,” he ordered.

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MarniMannPic**About author Marni Mann:

Best-selling author Marni Mann, knew she was going to be a writer since middle school. While other girls her age were daydreaming about teenage pop stars, Mann was fantasizing about penning her first novel. She crafts sexy, titillating stories that weave together her love of darkness, mystery, passion, and human emotion. A New Englander at heart, she now lives in Sarasota, Florida with her husband and their two dogs who subsequently have been characters in her books. When she’s not nose deep in her laptop working on her next novel, she’s scouring for chocolate, sipping wine, traveling to new locations, and devouring fabulous books.

**Contact Marni: Website   Facebook   Twitter

**Find the book: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   GoodReads

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Mistletoe Mansion

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“Mistletoe Mansion” by Samantha Tonge

Blurb:

Kimmy Jones has three loves: cupcakes, gossip magazines and dreaming of getting fit just by owning celeb workouts.

When Kimmy’s Sensible Boyfriend told her he didn’t approve of her longing for the high life or her dream of starting a cupcake company Kimmy thought she could compromise – after all, she did return those five-inch Paris Hilton heels! But asking her to trade in cake-making for a job sorting potatoes is a step too far.

So, newly single – and newly homeless – Kimmy needs a dusting of Christmas luck. And, masquerading as a professional house sitter, her new temporary home is the stunning Mistletoe Mansion. Soon she’s best buds with glamorous next door golf WAG Melissa, and orders are pouring in for her fabulous Merry Berry cupcakes! The only thorn in her side is handsome handyman Luke, a distraction she definitely doesn’t need. And talking of distractions, something very odd is going on at night…

Kimmy is finally living the life she’s always wanted. But will her glimpse into the glittering lifestyle of the rich and famous be as glamorous as she’s always imagined…?

**Buy links: Amazon UK   Amazon US

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Author, Samantha Tonge

Bio: Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Its fun standalone sequel is From Paris with Love. Mistletoe Mansion stars a new set of characters and is for fans of cupcakes and Christmas!

Contact: Website   Blog   Facebook   Twitter

INTERVIEW

What motivated you to write “Mistletoe Mansion”? Society’s obsession with celebrity – how we all love reading the gossip magazines; how some youngsters aspire simply to “be famous”. I wondered what a wannabe celebrity would really think of the dream lifestyle, if she got to live it for a short time. Would it meet her expectations? So my main character cake-making, celebrity-loving Kimmy Jones, finds herself housesitting a mansion, next door to a very famous golfing couple…

Do you have any holiday traditions? We always eat out on Boxing Day which is wonderful – after cooking your heart out on the 25th, it’s great knowing you can kick back you heels the next day, then enjoy the cold cuts in the evening.

Also , we open ALL our presents as soon as we get up on Christmas day!

What was your writing process like for this book? After deciding on the initial idea, I cannot move forward until I have a title! Then I plan the plot, next I look at the characters in depth. Next, a first draft usually takes 4 to 5 months. Then I will rewrite/edit it several times. All of this is broken up with very regular visits to Facebook and Twitter – am, um, lots of snacks!

What is your favorite Christmas song? Ooh, it has to be White Christmas, which features regularly in Mistletoe Mansion, every time a supposed ghost wants to make his presence felt! It is such a cosy, nostalgic-feeling song.

What do you want for Christmas? It’s corny, but happiness and good health – and I wouldn’t say no to some good books and chocolate either!

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Tripping Through

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“Tripping Through” by Michelle Morgan

Blurb:

How can one person attract so much disaster?

Quirky, clumsy, and eager-to-please Karly has more than her fair share of bad luck.

Waaaay more.

We first meet our 29-year-old accountant in her loud (the fire alarm is going off) and smoky (she’s trying to bake) kitchen. During the chaos, Karly is dumped because of misunderstandings over a divorce lawyer she didn’t hire and an affair she didn’t have. This comes just weeks after performing a very efficient audit on a company…that wasn’t actually a client.

Oops.

Single and unemployed, Karly continues tripping through life, both metaphorically and physically. She thinks her luck may be turning when she meets the perfect man but in true-to-Karly form, manages to scare him off. And he isn’t just “not returning her phone calls” scared but more “sprinting away across the parking lot screaming like a banshee” scared.

Crap.

Just as she thinks it can’t get any worse, it inevitably does. Is Karly destined to lead a life of loneliness and poverty or does fate have something else in mind?

Excerpt:

A tall man walked in and was standing there, watching me talk to the receptionist. He wasn’t model, chiselled face, fantasy cabana boy gorgeous, but the quiet kind of attractive you’d notice if you took the time to look past the somewhat old fashioned blue sweater and grandfather type reading glasses on a mid thirties face. The fact that I could make out at least three pens stuck in his chest pocket underneath his sweater made him more endearing. It sounds corny but I honestly thought we had one of those movie of the week, boy sees girl for the first time and birds chirp in the background moments. I got the most incredible feeling from him, like he was totally mesmerized and wanted to know all about me. It took my breath away. Until I noticed the receptionist staring down at my messenger bag. I looked down at it. No, there wasn’t anything unusual about my satchel. Oh. Well, except for the fact that the left side of my skirt had ridden up in between it and my hip and half my underwear was on display. Oh God. I quickly rearranged my clothing back to where it was supposed to be.

“Hi, I’m Dr. Weiss,” the man said once I’d sorted myself out.

I felt like such an idiot as he led me to a small office while making small talk. Sure I’d gotten the feeling that he was looking at me. Half my skirt had been hiked up the side of my body. And of course I’d gotten the feeling he was interested in me. He was, but just as a subject for his klutziness study.

“So, Karly, I’m doing a study on how certain people attract particular situations with the overall goal being to determine any common denominators. It’s my theory that certain people have a higher statistical average of physical disaster.”

“Well, I’m definitely your girl. I mean, I’m not your girl. Not that I wouldn’t want to be. I’m sure you’d be an amazing boyfriend. Not that I really know you. Yet. I mean, not that I’m looking. But if I was, I’m sure you’d be-” God, what was wrong with me? I remembered Nik’s advice when I started to babble: take a deep breath and get to the point. “I fall down a lot.”

“Uh, okay. Well, that’s great. I mean, that’s not great for you, but for me. I mean, it’s not great for me because I want you to fall down, but if you have to anyway, I’m glad that you’re here. I mean-”

He stopped talking, looking confused at what was coming out of his own mouth, as I had been earlier. We looked at each other, shocked, for a second. And then cracked up.

“Why don’t we rewind that bit,” he said with a smile on his face. Oh my God. He did the rewind thing. Just like I did.

“So,” he continued, “as part of the study I’d ask you to keep a journal and submit it for my review. I have a sample that you can pick up from the receptionist on the way out, if you’re still interested.” He smiled his dazzling smile that would have had me donating my organs if he’d asked, even the ones I was still using.

“We’ll also meet every two weeks as a group,” he went on. “I’m hoping to provide some insight on why these things happen more frequently to certain people and maybe even discover how to minimize accidents.”

He continued and I nodded my understanding while subtly checking out his athletic build underneath his loose fitting sweater and well-ironed khakis. He had long legs. They looked strong. I wondered if they were hairy. Gosh, what was wrong with me? I wasn’t normally like this. Less than a month of single-dom and here I was practically undressing this stranger with my eyes. Or at least picturing him in shorts. In his cramped office, our chairs were only two feet away from each other. We were so close. I could reach right out and touch his thigh if I wanted to. Hold on, was that a stain on the knee of his pants? And in his, uh, winkle zone? Could he also be a Strangeness Attracter? He stopped mid sentence and gave me an alarmed look when he caught me staring at his crotch.

“Oh. Um. Your knee?” I stuttered. “I was looking at your knee. I mean, not your actual knee because it’s hidden under your pants. Not hidden. I just mean your pants are there. As they should be. I mean…there’s a stain. That I was looking at. On er…your knee and maybe other places?”

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MichelleMorganPic**About author, Michelle Morgan:

Michelle Morgan was born in Vancouver, Canada. She has years of experience falling down for no reason and may have left a wrap-around skirt or two caught in a date’s car door. She currently lives in the Caribbean with her husband, Peter, and their three children, Kiara, Leilani and Kai. Oh – and a three year old goldfish named Angel, who her kids haven’t noticed looks different every time they come back from visiting Nana and Grandpa in the summer.

Michelle is passionate about theatre – watching, writing for, and acting in. Although she enjoys it all, she favours comedy. She is a black belt in karate, a classical pianist, and is addicted to pilates and pad thai.

**Contact Michelle: Website   Facebook   Twitter

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The Position

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“The Position” by Dahlia Salvatore

Blurb:

Dylan Farrow puts on his pants every morning one leg at a time, just like everyone else at the Kerrigan Advertising Agency. He handles high-pressure projects with a fast turnaround. He’s prized for his keen intellect and admirable performance. But how did he get where he is today—to the level of Junior Executive of Design Production?

Well, that involves how he takes his pants off…
and for whom…

Hoping to break through the glass ceiling under which she’s been trapped for years, Valerie Caplan picks up her life and moves to Seattle. After hearing about the position of Senior Executive of Design Production from an art director at Kerrigan, she decides to apply. When she lands the big interview, she never thinks for a minute that she’ll have any serious competition. She assumes that she has the job in the bag…until she discovers that the only competition has something she doesn’t have—the willingness to go outside the office to impress Danica Stewart, their uptight female boss.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

(Valerie)

THE WIND RUSHED around me as I stood on the balcony and looked out at downtown Seattle. From my apartment on the sixteenth floor, I could see the space needle and the lights glittering on as the sun set over the Puget Sound. I’d always wanted to live by water. I took in a lungful of air. It was different than the mountain air I was used to in Denver. In this breath, I could taste the sea.

I smiled. I’d never set foot in the city before today, but I could already tell I was going to love it. The opportunities seemed endless and I felt freer than ever before to pursue them. That was especially true because I wasn’t working and had a ton of time on my hands. Unfortunately, I’d given up on most of my hobbies and extra-curricular activities in order to climb the ladder. I was a self-professed workaholic, and, so far, I liked it that way.

Being that I’d given up most social obligations, I didn’t have many friends. There were maybe two or three in Denver, but they had families and their own lives, so we didn’t see each other often. In Seattle, I had one friend—one—and I’d only known him for two months, and only because of my job connections.

In Denver, I’d worked for Trinity Advertising Corp. They were a medium-sized company, but slowly gaining popularity and clout. My problem had been that I wasn’t gaining enough ground for comfort. I was too ambitious to enjoy a stagnant life. This move was about climbing further and becoming more than I’d been before. At Trinity, I’d hit the dreaded glass ceiling and moving on became my top priority. That’s why I had gone to Seattle, on the recommendation of a man who barely knew me.

Chuck had recommended me to his boss for a position as Senior Executive of Design Production. That meant I was going to be overseeing several Art Directors, who in turn oversaw the teams which produced the company’s biggest projects. I badly wanted the job and I damned sure deserved it. Because I’d put so much of myself into making every line on my resume count, I was confident. Maybe overly so, since I’d moved to Seattle before I even landed the position. My plan-b was to apply at the other ad agencies if that job fell through. Anything was better than Trinity, right?

I turned back into the apartment and slid the glass door closed. The emptiness seemed bigger than any sound I could possibly make, but nevertheless, I found the box labeled “sound system” and unpacked my iPod docking station and set it up on the floor. I looked up my eighties mix and suddenly the apartment was filled with Billy Idol’s voice, from the hardwoods to the beams of the vaulted ceiling.

I smiled, dropped onto my butt in the middle of the boxes and began making the empty rooms into a home. After just a few hours, the kitchen and bathroom were completely unpacked. I estimated that if I kept going through the night, I’d be done by morning.

Break time, I thought, wandering into the kitchen. I rinsed out a dusty wineglass and uncorked a year-old bottle of Prosecco. While I leaned on the high granite-top breakfast bar, I felt the evil stab of loneliness convict me of sucking at life. I wished I had someone who I could share this experience with. It would be fun to listen to Madonna and drink with a friend.

It could have been the wine hitting my empty stomach, but I was called to action by a voice in my head saying ‘That’s enough!’ The voice was right. It was time to branch out, meet new people, form relationships—and maybe even find a man. God, I need to get laid, I thought, refilling my glass. I clutched the drink with both hands, bringing it to my lips—Oh, yes, my friend wine. … Reveal to me what I should do with my life.

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About author Dahlia Salvatore: Dahlia Salvatore is a thirty-two-year-old female author living in Seattle, Washington with her husband. She comes from Coos Bay, Oregon and moved to Seattle six years ago. She loves the west coast and doesn’t see herself anywhere else.

Her influences include contemporary writers J.K. Rowling, Mary Balogh, Christina Dodd, Stephanie Laurens, Laurell K. Hamilton, Anne Rice, Stephen King, and many many others.

Contact Dahlia: Website   Facebook   Twitter

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