BOOK FEATURE: “Choosing Happy”

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“Choosing Happy” by Samantha Harris

Blurb: 

Madison Buchanan’s life has imploded…

Her husband left her for his nineteen-year-old intern, leaving her alone and faced with starting over in her forties. With the help of her feisty best friend, Madison reinvents herself, armed with a new look and open to new possibilities.

Sean Taylor is gorgeous, fun, and young—very young…

He hasn’t had the best of luck. Sean’s track record with women is less than stellar, but when he walks into The Den one day, he just can’t help but be captivated by a dark haired beauty with the sad eyes and killer legs. She’s a little older, but he doesn’t discriminate. More than anything, he wants to be the one to make her smile.

Sean personifies the only thing that has eluded Madison all of her life—joy…

It was meant to be a fling, something fun, with no strings and zero drama, but Sean wants something more, and Madison is just not ready. She’s lived by the rules her family, her friends, even her boss have laid out for her, but her new life is not what she expected. Being with Sean opens feelings she never thought she’d experience.

The the demands of her family and her job throw her boring, simple life into chaos, and Sean is no exception

Madison is left with a choice. Give in to the expectations of the world around her—or choose to follow her heart and be happy.

But choosing happy is so much harder than it seems.

**Buy “Choosing Happy” now!: Amazon


samanthaharris**About the author: Samatha “Sam” Harris lives near Baltimore, Maryland with her husband David and daughter Ava. Born in Florida, she migrated north which most people agree was a little backwards. She has been an artist all of her life, a Tattoo Artist for more than ten years, and a storyteller since she was a kid.

Sam has a slightly unhealthy love for Frank Sinatra, classic movies, and Jazz and Blues music, but her first love will always be reading. From Romance, to Thrillers, to Historical Fiction and everything in between, she loves to become a part of the story. As a writer she tells the stories that she would want to read.

**Contact Samantha: Facebook   Goodreads   Twitter


**GIVEAWAY**

**Click HERE for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and an eCopy of “Choosing Happy” and “Somewhere In Between”


BOOK REVIEW: “Dating for Decades”

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“Dating for Decades” by Tracy Krimmer

Blurb: IT guru Cassie Noble can depend on networks and servers. It’s the people in her life that always let her down. With her fortieth birthday looming, she’d love to find a way to trust and commit to someone. Eager to work out her problems methodically, Cassie reaches out to her support group. Electrician Keith manages to infiltrate their all-female ranks, infuriating her with his flippant jokes and his all-too laid back attitude. The other women all find him hilarious and she can’t see why. She takes this seriously and he’s doing anything but. When Cassie needs Keith’s help on a project at her day job, she’s dreading having to work closely with him, however much his hazel eyes make her stop dead in her tracks. As days turn to weeks, he starts to break down her hard exterior. She’s seeing new possibilities. She’s seeing the future…a life that is joyful and bright. A life that includes Keith. But when a letter from her mother drags her back to the world where Cassie has no control, she shuts down. Can her support group yank her back from that place where hope is lost? And can the man who once drove her crazy be the one who finally doesn’t let her down?

My Review: I’ve been wanting to read “Dating for Decades” since it came out in June and after dealing with some personal family matters for the past few months, it was the perfect read to keep my mind distracted.

For a woman worried about turning the big 4-0, she acted much younger, similar to a young child who just wanted to be loved. While there is a back story about Cassie’s past and why she is how she is, it’s something she desperately wants to forget (sorry, no spoilers), I sympathised with her because nobody should go through what she had, and was content as to how she gets closure.

As for Cassie’s two main love interests, I liked them both, and they stood out in their way when they were with Cassie. While Lucas is much younger than her, he came across sarcastic, yet smooth, which made me like him–something that only a few authors can do well. Then there’s Keith…((swoon)). I won’t say who what happens in the end, but I was very pleased and even had tears in my eyes.

My only problem with the book is why she was so against marriage, even at the end.

Overall, no matter how old you are, I’m confident you will love this witty, relatable, romantic and delightfully fun page-turner.

I  give “Dating for Decades” 5 stars.

BOOK REVIEW: “Learning to Ride”

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“Learning to Ride” by Erin Knightley

Blurb:

She never wanted to love a cowboy…

Rodeo king Tanner Callen doesn’t want to be tied down. When he sees Madeline Harper at a local honky-tonk and everything about her screams New York, he brings out every trick in his playbook to take her home. But soon he learns that he doesn’t just want her for a night and, instead, hopes for forever…

My Review: “Learning to Ride” was my second book from James Patterson’s BookShots Flames and it certainly did not disappoint. One of my favorite guilty pleasures is to read books about cowboys, (and it’s not just because I’m from Texas).

I loved how Madeline appears stubborn at first, but when Tanner (easily) convinces her to let her guard down, she’s easily swayed into letting him do what he wants with her, which I don’t think she minded–especially the way the author described him. There were times I laughed and got teary-eyed. When it was over, I was saddened, because I wanted more of Madeline and Tanner. Though, that being said, in the end, I was very happy with the outcome, (sorry, no spoilers).

“Learning to Ride” (a 144-page read) was romantic, funny, sexy and sweet. If you’re looking for a quick beach read or something to cuddle up by the fire, I recommend this book.

I give this book 5 stars!


EW2**About the author: Despite being an avid reader and closet writer her whole life, Erin Knightley decided to pursue a sensible career in science.  It was only after earning her B.S. and working in the field for years that she realized doing the sensible thing wasn’t any fun at all.  Following her dreams, Erin left her practical side behind and now spends her days writing. An award winning and USA Today Bestselling author, she is living her own Happily Ever After in North Carolina with her tall, dark, and handsome husband and their three spoiled mutts.

**Contact Erin: Website   Facebook   Twitter


BOOK REVIEW: “The McCullagh Inn in Maine”

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“The McCullagh Inn in Maine” by Jen McLaughlin

Blurb:

Her second chance at love…

Chelsea O’Kane escapes to Maine with a gun and fresh bruises. She’s ready to begin anew-until she runs into her old flame, Jeremy Holland. As he helps to fix her inn, her heart heals and they rediscover what they once loved about each other. But as the two play house, it starts to seem too good to last…

My Review: Due to personal reasons, I haven’t read or reviewed anything in a long time, but when I was at my local Barnes & Noble in the check-out line, I came across James Patterson’s BookShots Flames. One of the two I picked up where “The McCullagh Inn in Maine.” Because of the premise, along with it being a short read (144 pages), I was eager to start it.

Once I did, it didn’t want to stop, as this could also be categorized as a romantic suspense, (a genre I don’t usually read). From the beginning to the last few pages, there were so many questions about who Chelsea really is and why she fled her previous life to come back home. Though, when Jeremy shows up, Chelsea’s guard begins to fall, allowing the readers to understand her better, along with the fact that she’s still not over her first love. As for Jeremy, I loved how he had a protective but mysterious way about him, too, which definitely had an impact on his and Chelsea’s passion for one another.

Like I mentioned above, there was a lot of suspense in this book, which made it a page-turner–especially toward the end, (sorry, no spoilers).

If you’re looking for a quick, romantic read that will keep you on the edge of your seat, I recommend “The McCullagh Inn in Maine.”

I give this book 4 1/2 stars!


JenMcLaughlinPic**About the author: Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of sexy books with Penguin Random House. Under her pen name, Diane Alberts, she is also a USA TODAY bestselling author of Contemporary Romance with Entangled Publishing. Her first release as Jen McLaughlin, Out of Line, hit the New York Times, USA TODAY and Wall Street Journal lists. She was mentioned in Forbes alongside E. L. James as one of the breakout independent authors to dominate the bestselling lists. She is represented by Louise Fury at The Bent Agency.

**Contact Jen McLaughlin: Website   Facebook   Twitter


RELEASE DAY: “Finding Libbie” by Deanna Lynn Sletten

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“Finding Libbie” by Deanna Lynn Sletten

Blurb: Poring over a dusty hatbox of photographs in her grandmother’s closet, Emily Prentice is shocked to discover her father was married to his high school sweetheart before meeting her mother.

In the summer of 1968, Jack and Libbie fall in love under the spell of their small town, untouched by the chaos of the late sixties. Though Libbie’s well-to-do parents disapprove of Jack’s humble family and his aspiration to become a mechanic, she marries Jack a year after they graduate high school. But soon their happiness crumbles as Libbie’s mental state unravels and she is drawn to alcohol and drugs. Despite his efforts to help her, Jack loses the woman he loves and is forced to move on with his life.

Now that Emily’s mother has passed away, Jack is alone again, and Emily grows obsessed with the beautiful woman who had given her father such joy. Determined to find Libbie, Emily pieces together the couple’s fragmented past. But is it too late for happy endings?


deanna sletten**About the author: Deanna Lynn Sletten writes heartwarming women’s fiction and romance novels with unforgettable characters. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime. She began her writing career self-publishing three novels in 2012 and has since published eleven novels. Her latest novel, Finding Libbie, is her second book published by Lake Union Publishing. Deanna believes in fate, destiny, love at first sight, soul mates, second chances, and happily ever after, and her novels reflect that.

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

**Contact Deanna Lynn Sletten: Blog   Facebook   Twitter   Amazon Author Page


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**Click HERE to check out other stops on Deanna Lynn Sletten’s Release Day Blog Tour!


National Book Lover’s Day

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Hello, everyone! I know some of you might think that Chick Lit Goddess had vanished, but I’m here to let you all know that it’s still here, and so am I! While I thought that my next personal blog post would be that I’ve released CARDS FROM KHLOE’S FLOWER SHOP (I’m so close to finishing the final edits), something tragic in my family life occurred, so I needed to take some time off. However, as of today, I’m slowly beginning to get back to work, starting with this post. While I’m not back full-time, and Goddess Book Tours, reviews, and book/author features are still on hold, I’m taking it one day at a time in rejoining the book/social media world. The past few weeks haven’t been easy, but as each new day begins, I feel stronger. I’m not ready to go into details yet, but when I do, I hope you understand why I’m choosing to keep this matter to myself.

On a much lighter note, today is National Book Lover’s Day!

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Summer’s almost over, so if you haven’t had a chance to pick-up your copy, you can get it now for only $0.99!

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1xsWYUG

 

Again, thank you for understanding, and I look forward to getting back into full-time work!🙂

BOOK FEATURE: “The Secrets She Kept” by Brenda Novak

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“The Secrets She Kept” by Brenda Novak

Blurb: Exciting, emotional, intense. The thrilling follow-up to New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak’s highly acclaimed The Secret Sister. The things that happen in families are always surprising and sometimes shocking!

The rich and powerful Josephine Lazarow, matriarch of Fairham Island, is dead. The police say it’s suicide, but Keith, her estranged son, doesn’t believe it.

Keith bears scars—both physical and emotional—from his childhood, but he’s worked hard to overcome the past. After walking away from his mother and her controlling ways five years ago, he’s built a new life in LA. He’s also accumulated a fortune of his own. But as soon as he learns of his mother’s death, he returns to Fairham. He feels he owes it to his grandfather to put the family empire together again—and he’s determined to find his mother’s killer.

Problem is…coming home to Fairham puts him back in contact with Nancy Dellinger, the woman he hurt so badly when he left before. And digging that deep into his mother’s final days and hours entails a very real risk.

Because the person who killed her could be someone he loves…

**Find the book on Amazon now!: https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-She-Kept-Brenda-Novak/dp/0778319067

(Book available July 26th, 2016)


EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1

Los Angeles, California

THE CALL CAME in the middle of the night. Keith Lazarow was so deeply asleep that he probably wouldn’t have heard his phone if not for the attractive brunette who stirred in bed beside him.

“Aren’t you going to answer that?” she mumbled.

“No.” He was too exhausted. Five years ago, he’d replaced the drugs he’d once used to anesthetize himself against the de-mons of his past with daily cross-fit training. High-intensity exercise was the only thing that could command his full focus and calm his mind. It forced the anger and resentment back into the shadows so he could be functional instead of destructive. But once he’d left the gym, Dahlia Dooley—someone he’d met at a charity event downtown last week—had called and asked to come over, and after that, he’d put in a completely different sort of workout. After expending that much energy, he felt he could sleep for a week, which was nice, since he used to have trouble sleeping at all.

Dahlia rolled onto her other side and, seconds later, his phone stopped making noise.

He’d just begun to sink back into blissful oblivion when the buzzing started again.

Dahlia yawned. “There must be something wrong at work.”

No, he didn’t have anything to worry about there. He wasn’t a policeman or a medical health professional; he was in real estate. Over the last five years, he’d acquired quite a collection of large commercial properties—office buildings, warehouses, shopping malls and strip centers. But he had property managers as well as project managers to take care of his holdings. If there was a problem, those were the people who’d be getting disturbed after hours, not him. He handled acquisitions, which was the fun part, and he had nothing particularly important on the horizon—nothing that he might get a panic call about, anyway. Whatever this was, it could wait until he’d had his wheatgrass juice in the morning and was ready to turn on his computer.

Unless…

He shot up in bed and grabbed for his phone. Sure enough, it was his sister Maisey calling from South Carolina. They’d always been close, but these days she had her husband, Rafe, who did such a good job of loving Maisey, his daughter, Laney, and Bryson, the two-year-old boy they’d had together, that Keith never worried about them. He and Maisey spoke on the phone every week, and she’d flown out to visit him three or four times since he left Fairham Island—twice with her family—but she never called in the middle of the night.

Something had to be wrong…

His stomach cramped at the thought.

With a curse, he gazed at the LED screen while trying to collect his faculties.When he continued to let it ring, Dahlia mumbled,

“What is it?”

Suddenly wishing she’d gone home instead of staying over, he looked at her tousled head. “Nothing. Go back to sleep. I’ll take it in the study.”

Lord knew his house was big enough to provide him with plenty of privacy. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu, where he had a gorgeous view of the ocean, the ten-bedroom rambler had once belonged to Robert De Niro. The place was way too big for a man who lived alone, and coming here every night meant he added a time-consuming commute to his day. A condo downtown would’ve been more efficient and would’ve suited him just as well, since he rarely entertained. But he supposed he was still trying to prove to his megalomaniac mother that he really didn’t need the fortune she’d held over his head for so long.

Who would’ve guessed he’d be as adept at making money as his beloved grandfather?

No one. Until he’d walked away from the Coldiron empire and everything he stood to gain by staying, and started making it on his own, even he would never have dreamed he had it in him. After winning his first million as a professional poker player, which required no education at all—a good thing, since he hadn’t paid attention while he was getting his degree in communications—he’d invested in real estate, where he earned even more money—so much that he eventually quit poker, other than the odd charity tournament now and then.

Before he could pull on a pair of pajama bottoms and move to a room where he felt comfortable speaking to Maisey, the call transferred to voice mail. He waited to see if she’d leave a message, give him some indication of what was going on, so he’d be prepared when he talked to her. But she didn’t.

“Come on, Mais,” he muttered and called her back.

“There you are,” she said, sounding tense, breathless, as if she’d panicked when she couldn’t reach him.

He tried to control his own anxiety. “You’re surprised I didn’t answer right away? Gee, I wonder why I didn’t. Could it be that it’s four o’clock in the morning?”

“I’m sorry.”

He regretted his sarcasm when she didn’t come back at him with her own smart-ass comment. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I was joking. What’s going on?” Holding the phone that much tighter, he lowered his voice. “You okay?”

“I’m…fine, I think.” Her voice broke, telling him that she wasn’t fine at all.

His heart began to pound so hard his chest hurt. “Is it Rafe? Or the kids?” When Keith left Fairham Island, Maisey had been so in love with the building contractor and his blind little girl that Keith thought he could rely on his sister’s happiness indefinitely. The confidence he’d had in Rafe was the only thing that had made it possible for him to turn his back on South Carolina without the guilt that would otherwise have dragged him back.

Well, knowing his sister was with a man she loved wasn’t the only thing that had allowed him to escape. His life had always revolved around his autocratic mother and what he was supposed to do and be in order to honor his Coldiron heritage. Escaping the jaws of her expectations had required more grit and determination than he could ever have imagined. No way could he have done it without Maisey and Roxanne, his other sister. Their support had been constant and unwavering.

He owed them both a lot…

“They’re fine, too—thank God.” Maisey sniffed. “So are Roxanne and her family,” she said, anticipating his next question.

Their oldest sister lived in Louisiana—and had lived there for most of her life, away from them. That in itself was a long story and should never have happened; it was yet another life-altering event he could blame on his mother. He was just glad they’d managed to find Roxanne when they did, because she’d added so much to his life.

He crossed to the window and stared out at the white, moonlit caps of the waves rolling toward the beach. Even in full daylight, he couldn’t see the sand for all the trees and hills. But he wasn’t studying his current surroundings. He was recalling another beach—the private beach below Coldiron House, the ostentatious Southern mansion where he’d been raised. “Then it must be Mom,” he said with a fatalistic sigh.

“Yes.”Closing his eyes, he pressed his forehead to the cool glass. He’d known he’d have to face what he’d left behind eventually. Was he ready for whatever had happened to Josephine? Had he changed sufficiently to cope with what it might mean? Put enough safety nets in place to make sure he never slipped back into the darkness from which he’d so painstakingly climbed? “What’s wrong with her?”

Closing his eyes, he pressed his forehead to the cool glass. He’d known he’d have to face what he’d left behind eventually. Was he ready for whatever had happened to Josephine? Had he changed sufficiently to cope with what it might mean? Put enough safety nets in place to make sure he never slipped back into the darkness from which he’d so painstakingly climbed? “What’s wrong with her?”

“She’s dead, Keith.”

The blood began to roar in his ears. “What’d you say?”

“It’s true. She’s gone. I’m so sorry. I know…I know how difficult this is going to be for you, how complicated your feelings about her have always been. Mine aren’t any simpler. I hate that I had to wake you in the middle of the night, but I couldn’t wait. I wanted you to know before…before you could see it on the news or…or someone else called.”

LA could get cold in January. Feeling a sudden chill, Keith straightened and stepped away from the window. Most deaths, even of someone as wealthy and powerful as Josephine Lazarow, weren’t reported on the national news—not unless foul play was involved. Was that what his sister was about to tell him?

“What happened?” he asked as he made his way to the desk and perched on the edge of the expensive leather chair his interior designer had claimed he’d love.

“When Pippa arrived an hour ago—”

“Wait,” he broke in. “That’d be six your time.”

“Yes…”

“Why was she coming so early? Mom’s housekeepers have always arrived at eight.” Even when his mother was running her flower shop instead of letting Nancy Dellinger do it, she didn’t get out of bed until later. The shop didn’t open until ten; she generally prepared the night before.

“Mom needed to be at the airport. She was planning a trip to see Hugh Pointer—a new love interest.”

Of course. Since their father died, when he was twelve and Maisey was ten, Josephine had been through three marriages (after which she’d always gone back to the Lazarow name), and a long list of other relationships. Considering she could have just about anyone she wanted, there was nothing to stop her. Not only was she rich, she was beautiful.

Had been rich. Had been beautiful.

God, could he really be thinking of his strong, determined and often acerbic mother in the past tense?

“Hugh owns a pharmaceutical company, a ranch and a few other assets in Australia,” Maisey was saying. “They’ve been dating, mostly online, for the past few months. She met him in first class the last time she flew to New York and she’s been planning to go down under to see him ever since.”

They’d been dating for months? Keith would know about Hugh if he and his sisters ever discussed his mother, but she was the one subject that was off-limits. They’d grown accustomed to pretending she didn’t exist. Keith had insisted on it. She could trigger a relapse quicker than anyone or anything. “So Pippa was supposed to show up at the house before she’d usually appear to drive Mom to the airport.”

“That’s right.” When Maisey paused, overcome by emotion, a lump rose in his own throat. But no tears followed. Something seemed to be jammed up; he couldn’t cry. Where Josephine was concerned, he’d cut out his emotions almost as precisely as a surgeon might use a scalpel to remove a malignant tumor. He’d had to. Anything less was too painful.

“But…” he prompted when his sister couldn’t continue.

He heard her gulp for breath, heard Rafe in the background speaking soft, soothing words.

“Mom wasn’t waiting for her in the entry like she’d said she’d be. And when Pippa went upstairs to see about the hold-up, she…she found her in the tub.”

His mother often took long baths. They were part of her beauty regimen. She’d even had a TV installed in the bath-room. But why would she take a bath first thing in the morning, before heading to the airport? Why not use the shower, like she usually did to get ready for work? “She drowned?”

Another sniffle. “Apparently. There was a wine bottle and a…a glass that’d been knocked over, as well as s-some candles—”

“Then it must’ve happened last night,” he said. “She wouldn’t light candles first thing in the morning. She doesn’t like getting up early. She was always in too much of a hurry.”

“The coroner hasn’t determined the time of death. He…he just arrived a little while ago. But I agree. Seems that way to me, too.”

“So…they think it was an accident?”

She sniffed again. “They’re not saying, Keith. They won’t even let me in the house, won’t let me see her. I don’t under-stand what’s going on. I only know that she’s dead.”

His sister ended with a sob—and still his eyes remained dry. “I’m sorry, Maisey.”

That sounded so mechanical, but he was glad to feel numb. Numb beat the hell out of the devastation he could be feeling. He’d worked hard to overcome anything that made him weak or vulnerable.

“I don’t want this to set you back,” she said. “You’ve been doing so well. I—”

“I’ll be fine. Don’t worry about me.” He hoped that was true. He didn’t have the best track record…

Maisey continued to cry. “This is terrible. Mom would not have liked going out this way.”

She must’ve been drunk, he thought. But how? She considered it gauche to have more than a single glass of wine in the evening. Unless things had changed more than he realized since he’d been gone, he couldn’t see her imbibing too much, even when she was alone.

“Were her bags packed?” he asked.

“How am I supposed to know? I told you. The police won’t let me in the house. All I can tell you is what they’ve told me.”

Dropping his head into his free hand, he tried to imagine that the strong-willed, demanding person who’d been their mother was gone. For good. That she was completely out of his life, whether or not he wanted her to be.

What did that mean? And did it help or hurt his quest to remain whole and healthy and to keep moving forward with his life?

“Are you all right?” Maisey asked.

“Yeah. I just… I’m trying to come to terms with the news, that’s all.”

“It’s a lot to take in. Don’t let it…don’t let it throw you, Keith.”

Even after five years, she felt she had to worry about him. He was screwed up, had always been screwed up. He suspected that if he ever visited a psychologist he’d be diagnosed as bipolar. That term had been thrown around a great deal back when he was acting out. But he didn’t want to hear a professional say those words, didn’t want to be pumped full of medication—not as long as he could manage on his own.

With cross-fit, his business and his sisters, he’d developed some coping skills. And they were working for him. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to backslide.” He was still taking it one day at a time, though, and this was a hurdle he hadn’t expected—maybe in twenty years, but not this soon.

“Okay,” she said. “I—I’d better go. I have to call Roxanne.”

How would Roxanne react to the death of their mother? he wondered. She’d been kidnapped and raised by a former nanny. Roxanne had a dim recollection of what a tyrant Josephine could be, but she didn’t have the memories and stories he and Maisey did. Since Roxanne had reconnected with Josephine, the two had built some semblance of a relationship. Roxanne probably got along with Josephine best, because she didn’t feel the same resentment. Neither did she live close by. Staying a considerable distance away definitely helped.

Considering all of that, would Rocki be heartbroken by the news? Would at least one of Josephine’s children be able to sincerely mourn her passing?

Or would even Roxanne be left to wonder if she was a horrible person for not experiencing more grief?

“I’ll call you back as soon as I can give you more details,” Maisey promised.

“Wait,” he said. “What about Mom’s Yorkie, Athena? Some-one needs to take care of her.”

“Pippa took her home, which is the best place for her. She doesn’t get along with Laney’s cat.

Max would tear her to shreds. And Pippa pampers that little dog as much as Mom did.”

He rubbed the goose bumps from his arms. “Okay.”

“Would you like to be on the call with Rocki? I could conference you in…”

“No, I’ll let you break the news. I could use a few minutes.”

“No problem. I love you,” she responded and hung up.

After pushing the end button, Keith set his phone on the desk as if it were a bomb that might explode, rocked back in his chair and stared up at the ceiling. His mother’s death had so many implications. What would happen to the Coldiron fortune, which she’d controlled since her father died? Who had she left it to? Roxanne—or Maisey?

Perhaps she’d split it between them. But she couldn’t split Coldiron House and would never want to see it sold. So what would become of their ancestral home? Would Maisey move out of the bungalow she shared with Rafe on the other side of the island—from which they managed the eight neighboring vacation cottages for Josephine—and take up residence at Coldiron House?

Keith knew Roxanne wouldn’t move. She and her husband ran two businesses in Louisiana. They couldn’t leave their livelihood behind. Neither would Rocki uproot her three kids.

A sudden longing sprang up, to walk through the halls of Coldiron House, to see his childhood home through different eyes, to somehow find the peace that had eluded him there. He’d loved visiting his grandfather on Fairham Island, before they moved there, when Grandpa Henry was alive. He used to say that Keith would own it all someday, that he would be the one to carry on the Coldiron legacy. Although Keith had never been close to his own father, not like Maisey, and he’d struggled just to get along with his mother, he’d been Grandpa Henry’s favorite. Henry had always admired strength and spirit, even when it turned into willfulness—what had gotten Keith in so much trouble. Grandpa Henry had said he was once the same.

Maybe Keith would’ve put his grandfather’s traits to better use if Henry had lived longer. Sadly, he’d died when Keith was only eight and that house hadn’t represented the same thing since. They’d moved in after his death and it had been the family home ever since. But going back wouldn’t be easy. For one thing, he’d be stepping out of his current routine, which kept him busy and focused on the right things. His schedule, the distance and his refusal to think about the past were what kept him safe from himself.Still, he had to attend his mother’s funeral. Had to help lay her body to rest in the family cemetery behind the house, beneath the moss-draped trees. Common decency demanded he

Still, he had to attend his mother’s funeral. Had to help lay her body to rest in the family cemetery behind the house, beneath the moss-draped trees. Common decency demanded he attend the service, even if he didn’t stay any longer.

After waiting a few minutes, he called Rocki. She’d just hung up with Maisey and was crying.

“You okay?” he asked.“For the most part. Are you?”

“For the most part. Are you?”

“I don’t know.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “Are you planning to attend the funeral?”

“Of course. We’ll fly to South Carolina as soon as we know when it is. We can’t come before that. With our financial situation, we can’t take much time off.”

“Things are that bad?”

“They’re not good.”

She hadn’t mentioned this to him before. She’d always said they were getting by.

“Is there something I can do to help? I’ll pay for your flights, give you a loan—”

“I appreciate the offer,” she broke in before he could list other options. “But we’d rather not accept that kind of help. I’m afraid it would make Landon feel…inept. Just between you and me, he’s already been dealing with some kind of midlife crisis. And even if we didn’t have the financial pressure, the kids are in school.” She sniffed and he pictured her wiping her face. “What about you? Will you go to the funeral?”

“Do I have any choice?”

“Sure you do. Don’t go if it’ll threaten your sobriety, Keith.

Your first obligation is to remain drug-free and healthy. Do what you need to in order to avoid a relapse. That’s what the past five years have been about, right? If returning to Fair-ham could create a problem for you, Maisey and I will handle everything.”

He wouldn’t rely on his sisters to take care of burying their mother and dealing with the aftermath. What kind of brother would dump it all on them? “No, I’ll be there. You and Maisey have enough to worry about,” he said and opened the lap-top on his desk to purchase a plane ticket to Charleston. He had to attend an important meeting tomorrow afternoon, so the earliest he could reach Fairham Island would be Tuesday.

He wasn’t convinced he was ready to gamble on the progress he’d made. But he had to go. If he couldn’t do his part when his family needed him, what was the point of changing at all?


**Contact Brenda Novak:

Brenda Novak for the Cure of Diabetes charity site: http://brendanovakforthecure.org/

BOOK FEATURE: “Mistletoe and Murder”

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“Mistletoe & Murder” by Laina Turner

Blurb: In this short story Presley goes home for Christmas expecting it to be a relaxing holiday until her old boyfriend, Brian, asks for her help finding out who has been stealing from him and it turns from theft to murder. Why would anyone want to kill Tommy and what was he hiding?

**Click HERE to buy the book!


laina turnr**About the author: As a child Laina thought she would either be a truck driver (thanks to Jerry Reed in Smokey and the Bandit) or work at Taco Bell (her favorite restaurant as a child).

As she grew older she realized her talents lay in academics and business and for the last several years has been a business consultant and college professor where she uses the analytical side of her brain and not the side that makes up stories.

Through all her career choices she has continued to have a passion for writing. This stemmed from childhood whereas an only child she developed a vivid imagination spending most of her time making things up and thinking the Incredible Hulk lived in her closet.

Proud of her vast experiences in life from barrel racing to being on the dance team for a semi pro basketball team to being a mom of 2 amazing kids, she tells her family and friends that no one is safe from their escapades slipping in to her books.

Taking the plunge to write books (cozy mysteries and chick lit) that she actually let people read in 2010, she has worked her way up to being a real author, having 5 fans (maybe 6 now). Her blog, Writing is a Lifestyle, was launched to share the daily fun in the life of a Real Housewife of the Midwest along with the musing of other fabulous ladies.

**Contact LainaFacebook   Twitter   Goodreads


Mistletoe & Murder

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BOOK FEATURE: “The The Devil’s Own Chloe

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“The Devil’s Own Chloe” by Alix Nichols

Burb: 

The Devil’s Own Chloe is a feel-good romance that tackles some big issues and delivers a shy-guy hero you won’t want to forget!

Young Parisian architect Chloe Germain hires childhood friend Hugo Bonnet as a builder. Lethally toxic to loved ones, Chloe keeps them at arm’s length to protect them.

Or so she thinks.

Patient and strong, Hugo prides himself on being able to fix anything. Trouble is, he’s never tried repairing a chasm in someone’s soul before.

Will his love save Chloe or will fixing her leave him broken?

FREE: July 16-18
Amazon: http://amzn.to/29R3gu


EXCERPT

It’s Saturday night, known to the mated population of Paris as Hump Night. The singles call it Hunt Night. Single women—except the confirmed bachelorettes who’ve embraced celibacy—refer to it as Manhunt Night.

I’m a dyed-in-the-wool bachelorette who engages in regular hunting and occasional fishing.

Even gathering is not beneath me.

My kind is so rare, especially among the pre-nasty-divorce crowd, that some consider us an anomaly while others refuse to believe in our existence.

But we definitely exist.

At least I, Chloe Germain, do.

For now.

What a shame humanlike robots are nowhere near industrial production yet! I envy those who’ll be born at the end of the century, when stunning PAs (Personal Androids) will make it unnecessary for people like me to be intimate with strangers.

Note to the universe: In the event you reincarnate me in female form a hundred years from now, please look at the “Dreamboat” file on my computer. I’ve spent many an evening in front of it designing my bespoke three-dimensional PA, man parts and all.

And what glorious, tip-top man parts they are!

Oh well.

Maybe I’ll turn out to be one of those lucky individuals whose libido dries up by their mid-thirties. Just another decade to go, and my weekends could be free from hunting and all the associated awkwardness.

I’d love that.

But I’m not holding out hope.

Right now, I amble down the crowded Boulevard de Sébastopol, trying to sashay my hips with surgical precision so the movement gets noticed and appreciated but doesn’t get misinterpreted. My goal is to produce a sway that conveys, “Here comes an emancipated woman looking for some fun tonight,” and not, “I’m a slut—do me.”

Problem is the vast majority of men fail to see the difference between the two.

As is often the case, I give up the runway walk after a few minutes, blaming my uncooperative hips. Instead, I undo another button on my shirt and clutch my purse with my pepper spray a little tighter.

I haven’t needed the spray yet, but you never know.

As I approach Café Lolo, I spot a man smoking a cigarette at a table on the sidewalk terrace. He’s by himself, and his dispassionate demeanor tells me he isn’t expecting anyone. I halt just a couple of steps from him as if debating what to do. After three seconds of fake hesitation, I sit at the closest table and take a better look at the Candidate.

His espresso cup is full, which means he won’t be leaving just yet. That’s a good sign. An even better sign is that the man is skinny and aloof. He has a bad boy leather jacket and a don’t-mess-with-me haircut. Oh, and did I mention the dark stubble peppering the bottom half of his gaunt face?

So my type.

“Got a light?” I ask, leaning in.

He looks me up and down and pulls out a lighter.

As I sit back with my cigarette between my lips, I consider which pickup line to use next.

“You come here often?” he asks.

Thank you. “Not really. You?”

“Yeah, I live nearby.”

“Oh, so you’re a local.” My lips stretch into a friendly smile. “What’s the best feature of this neighborhood?”

“You plan to move here?”

I shake my head. “Just being curious.”

“What you consider good may be bad from my perspective.” He cocks his head. “I don’t know you well enough to answer that question.”

It’s tempting to ask if he’d like to get to know me better tonight, but I stop myself. Women who are too forward scare men off. I don’t mind driving away the caring and marrying types. But I’ll bet anything the Candidate isn’t one of them.

“Good point,” I say. “Let me be more specific. Are there any good music bars in this area?”

“You’re two steps from Bastille,” he says. “Take a wild guess.”

Does he sound peeved, or am I reading him wrong? As a matter of fact, I find myself unable to read him at all.

Maybe he isn’t a good candidate, after all. Maybe I should leave right now, before I’ve ordered anything, and try my luck elsewhere.

“I’m sorry,” he says as I put out my cigarette. “That came out ruder than I meant it.”

I give him a probing look.

“Let me try again.” He gives me an unpracticed smile. “Of course there are good music bars around here. And, by the way, my name is Fabien.”

“I’m Chloe.”

Fabien sets a few coins on the table. “I could take you to an Irish pub around the corner if you like Celtic music.”

I tilt my head to one side. “Do you like it?”

“It’s OK,” he says, impassive.

He is perfect.

“All right, then. Let’s check it out.”

In the pub, we half listen to a rocksy Breton band playing folksy Breton songs. I make lackadaisical comments from time to time. Fabien gives an occasional nod. Our main activity is consuming large amounts of beer.

“What’s your line of work, Chloe?” he asks when the band finishes their encore song and the bar begins to empty.

“Home renovations. Yours?”

“Business.”

He doesn’t elaborate, and I don’t insist.

It’s not as if I care.

One of the waiters places a check on our table, and another one begins to flip chairs onto tables.

“I guess it’s time to go home.” I grab the bill. “Let me treat you.”

He snatches it from my hand. “No way. It’s on me.”

I object, he insists, and the ritualized back-and-forth ends with him shoving the check in his pocket and handing the server a fifty.

When the server brings the change, Fabien leaves him a generous tip.

So far so good.

“Do you live with your parents?” he asks as we step out into the night.

Every time I get this coded proposition, it reminds me of my first year in Paris as a naive small-town freshman at the École de Versailles. I spent a good half of that year debating if Parisian men routinely inquired about my living arrangements out of politeness or a genuine interest in my person.

“A hotel room would be better,” I say.

Fabien says nothing, just stares at me.

I stare back, trying to guess his next move. Will he seal the deal or back out?

“Follow me,” he finally says.

Yes! 

Congratulations, Chloe, on yet another successful manhunt.

We get down to business pretty much the moment we step into the room, and it’s just as I expected. Fabien performs well. I manage to peak with a little help from my fingers, which is totally fine by me.

Two hours later, we’re dressed again and ready to part ways.

Salut,” I say as soon as we’re outside the hotel entrance.

He looks taken aback, and I’m pleased.

Men are always the ones to decamp after casual sex while their female partner is holding her breath for a “Can I see you again?” So, yes, doing this feels good. It feels like a small but much-needed contribution to restoring the balance of yin and yang in the universe. Not that I believe in that New Age-y crap for a second.

“Um… yeah, take care,” Fabien says. He doesn’t budge, though.

I turn on my heel and march to the nearest métro station before he can suggest we do this again sometime soon. Or worse, ask me out for a drink.

I don’t do drinks, dinners, movies, dates, or relationships.

My life is a love-free zone.

Anything that resembles feelings or might be fertile soil for affection triggers a glaring neon sign in my head that screams, “Run!” The sign isn’t for my benefit. It’s to protect the innocents who don’t know what’s coming for them. Innocents who have no idea what I’m capable of.

If souls can be reborn, I’m the newest reincarnation of the mythical King Midas, who turned everything he touched into gold. Only my gift is less profitable and more macabre.

I turn everyone who loves me into dead meat.


AlixNicholsPic**About the author: Alix Nichols is an unapologetic caffeine addict and a longtime fan of Mr. Darcy, especially in his Colin Firth incarnation. She is a Kindle Scout and Dante Rossetti Award winning author of critically acclaimed romantic comedies. At the age of six, she released her first rom com. It featured highly creative spelling on a dozen pages stitched together and bound in velvet paper. Decades later, she still loves the romance genre. Her spelling has improved (somewhat), and her books have made Amazon bestseller lists, climbing as high as #1. She lives in France with her family and their almost-human dog. **For exclusive content, giveaways and special offers, including a bonus book, subscribe to the monthly newsletter on her author website: http://www.alixnichols.com.**

**Author links: Amazon Author Page   Blog   Facebook   Pinterest   Twitter   Goodreads


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INTERVIEW with Kristi Rose, author of “The Girl He Needs”

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About the author: Kristi Rose was raised in central Florida on boiled peanuts and iced tea.  She’s lived by an active volcano, almost fallen off a mountain, and was married in Arkansas by a J.O.P in flip flops named Earl. Today, as a proud military wife and mother of two, she’s been lucky enough to travel the world. No matter where she is, she enjoys watching people and wondering what’s their story? That’s what Kristi likes to write about: everyday people, the love that brings them together, and their journey getting there. Kristi is a member of RWA.

**Contact Kristi: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest   Goodreads


INTERVIEW

Tell us about your writing/editing/publishing process: I don’t even know where to begin- LOL.  This is a constant changing process as both life and the industry is constantly changing.

I have small children so everything is planned around them and their schedule. No matter how easy it would be to let them watch TV all day and eat crackers from the box- for peace of mind purpose I can’t do it🙂

For writing- when school is out I get up early and write. I try to get 3k in words before they wake up and if they do get up early I sometimes let an extra cartoon play. Thought, in order to get those words I have to plan out my scenes. Not in depth, but a general idea of who’s POV it will be in and what needs to happen/be said. That’s improved my word count tremendously. When school is in, I actually have two days to myself to write. Sometimes it’s hard to focus so I use BrainFm to help.

I also give myself the gift of not feeling guilty. I don’t do laundry or worry that its not being done because I apply a value to this.

Editing: I leave that to experts and usually agree with everything they say🙂 I suck at editing. Once I wrote the word emoji and it autocorrected to embolism. I didn’t even notice. So, clearly I;mnot so good at the editing.  I also listen to my books because it gives me a good idea of what’s too wordy or confusing. I put the MS in a word doc and set up text to speech. Easy Peasy.

Publishing: I’m lucky that I’m able to do both traditional publishing and indie publishing. Traditional publishing handles all the edits, galleys, and getting things to the places they need to be. When I indie publish, my process includes a lot of stress eating, some crying, and occasional head banging. Setting things up can take entire days and for a writer- that feels like lost time. I know its not but it still feels like that🙂 I do all the formatting and uploading to distributers but I outsource things like cover design and editing. When it’s all set I hit publish, do WAY MORE stress eating, and dance around my office a bit (usually with a chocolate bar in hand).

Where do you get ideas for your books? I love this question: I get them from everywhere. The news. TV, Songs (this happens a lot) and silly things my husband says. He does a lot of ‘what if’ statements and my brain goes, “yeah, what if!” But chatting with friends is always good fodder for ideas, too!

Salty or sweet? Holy crap! Sweet!!!! I need to cut back on sweets so I’m trying to cut out my favorite drink – An earl Grey Latte with vanilla almond milk and vanilla syrup. What did I replace it with? A mocha iced coffee with chocolate syrup. I have a problem. I love sugar WAY more than it loves me.

Is the social media a help or a hinder? I paused at this question because I can see it from both sides. But in light of recent tragic events in Orlando (my hometown is 40 minutes from there), when I logged on to Facebook and they gave me a notification of my friends checking in SAFE- yeah- that was a help.  I’ll take that peace of mind over any ‘issue’ any day. Hands down.

Do you have any writing rituals? Sure, I have to outline in advance a brief chapter sketch or I’ll stare at the screen and shop online. I also have gotten into the groove using BrainFm and I eat things like roasted edamame and peas while I work. Something about the crunchy keeps me going (and takes my mind off of sweets).

If you could meet any other author who would it be? I met Jude Deveraux this last year or else she would have been top of my list. Maybe Jane Austen?

What’s the best advice you’ve been given? The process is different for everyone. Find the one that works for you!

Hard/paperbacks or eBooks? Paperback. Does that make me seem old? Antiquated? I sure love storing ebooks but still…paperback.

Describe your writing style in five words: Funny, snarky, comfortable, & occasionally inappropriate,

What’s your guilty pleasure? Purses, books, and office supplies.

What do you want readers to take away from your book? A sense of friendship and connection to the characters. My stories tend to be about everyday people managing life’s struggles. I think I want readers to know we all go through rough times and there’s a community out there to support them. No one does anything alone and if you have small children you know that includes going to the restroom.

What are you working on right now? I just finished the 3rd book in this series The Girl He Wants. I’m also getting ready to release the first book in my Jane Austen Fiction called A Meryton MatchMakers. Its a series with the Pride and Prejudice characters.

**A note from the author: Hey- Thanks for hosting me. As a huge fan of chick lit it’s an honor to be here. Truly!


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Blurb:

The safe choice can be the riskiest of all…

Ever since her beloved older brother disappeared after an accident, Josie Woodmere’s been on a mission to find him—and maybe herself—along the way. That’s meant leaving her pampered, parent-approved life behind. Two years, four moves, and a body piercing later, she’s finally got a lead on her brother’s whereabouts, and she’s headed to Florida. She didn’t plan to ditch her sputtering car and accept a ride from Brinn McRae. But she didn’t plan to be attracted to a straight-laced guy like him either, much less land in his hometown, Daytona Beach…

A self-made man with a tough past, Brinn is a workaholic who allows very little room for pleasure—until he meets Josie. Their powerful chemistry is a distraction neither wants, yet neither can resist. Hoping they can burn it off, Brinn agrees to a no-strings arrangement. But they can only hide their deepening feelings for so long—until a disaster strikes, exposing truths that threaten to ruin everything…

Now, not only will Josie have to contend with the troubling secret her brother has finally revealed—she’ll have to convince Brinn she’s more than a rich girl playing at being free. This time, she’s playing for keeps.

**Find “The Girl He Needs”: Amazon   Barnes & Noble   Goodreads

**Book Trailer: https://youtu.be/Thxmw3Qbrug


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