Author Showcase – Barbara White Daille (Snowbound with Mr. Wrong) (One Week to Win Her Boss)

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Worst. Day. Ever. After Lyssa Barnett’s sister tricks her into reprising her role at Snowflake Valley’s annual children’s party, she doesn’t think anything can be worse than squeezing into her too-small elf costume. Then tall, dark, and way too handsome Nick Tavlock shows up to play Santa…and an unexpected storm leaves them snowbound in the isolated lodge.

The last thing Nick wants is to spend a cozy Christmas Eve with a trio of kids and the woman who dumped him. But as much as Lyssa frustrates him, he can’t stop thinking about her. And soon, he’s fighting very un-Santa-like thoughts of kissing a certain sexy Miss Elf under the mistletoe. As Nick starts to fall for Lyssa all over again, he knows it will take nothing short of a miracle to have Lyssa in his arms on Christmas Day. 

 

~~ EXCERPT~~ 

Lyssa could so easily see Nick with children of his own…and hers… But she had already decided there was no point in dreaming about a future with him. Considering his single-minded focus on work, he could never be the man for her.

She got to her feet and, forcing a smile, said, “I think it’s time for some hot chocolate.”

Four voices rose in agreement, and she escaped gratefully to the kitchen. The more she saw of Nick connecting with the kids, the harder it was for her to watch and the more she wanted to stay away. Yet she knew this trip to the kitchen was only a temporary reprieve.

She just hadn’t realized how temporary.

She had barely started heating the milk in a pan on the stove when Nick entered the kitchen. He came to lean against the counter beside her. “Need something?” she asked brightly.

“Yeah. To tell you I forgot how much fun it is being around you. It’s been a great afternoon.”

She flushed. “No thanks to me. That’s all on the kids. They’re quite a bunch.”

“And you’re quite a woman.”

“No, I’m—”

He reached up and touched his finger to her lips. “Don’t do that, Lyssa. Don’t sell yourself short.” He moved his hand to trace her chin. A shiver tickled along her jaw. “You know what else I need?”

“Hot chocolate?”

“That, too. And this.”

He leaned down and brushed his mouth against hers. He tasted so like the man she had fallen for months ago. His kiss was so tender, so sweet, she couldn’t help but want more. Another thought hovered at the edges of her mind, a thought she felt sure she didn’t want to know. Not now. Not here. Not when his taste and his touch and his total concentration on her were all exactly what she needed.

One dizzying kiss led to another and then another, until she had to curl her fingers in the fabric of his T-shirt to keep herself standing upright. But finally she forced herself to come to her senses. She tilted her head back and whispered, “Stop.”

“Why?” he murmured.

“What would we say if one of the kids walked in?”

“That the chocolate will be ready as soon as I’m done kissing the cook.”

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Single mom Amber Barnett loves family, kids, Christmas…and unfortunately, her boss, confirmed bachelor Michael DeFranco. It’s a crush she really needs to get over. Except, when she’s temporarily forced from her apartment, her only option is to stay at Michael’s private ski lodge, where she’s the housekeeper. No problem. Her handsome boss rarely visits Snowflake Valley unexpectedly, plus he’s spending the holidays with his family. Or so she thinks…

A stormy Christmas Eve reunion leaves Michael seeking the solitude of his lodge, where he finds Amber in residence—and in trouble. Attempting to save her from her matchmaking family, he announces they’re a couple. His good deed backfires when they’re instantly included in each and every holiday event in town. So much for solitude.

Only the more time he spends with the beautiful, cheery brunette, the more he yearns to make things real between them. But he and Amber want different things, and Michael could never be the family man she’s looking for.

 

~~ EXCERPT~~ 

The jingling of Santa’s sleigh bells jolted Amber Barnett awake on the couch. Following the bells came a thud, a crash, a clatter, and a long string of muttered curses. That couldn’t be. Santa wouldn’t swear like a sailor, especially not on Christmas Eve.

Time to wake up. She was hearing things and not making any sense. Well, it had been a long, stressful trip here. With the storm racing toward Snowflake Valley, heading up to her boss’s mountain lodge after her family’s open house might not have been the brightest idea ever. But it was the best solution she could come up with.

She glanced at the small playpen near one end of the couch. In the dim light from the table lamp, her four-month-old daughter lay looking up at her peacefully, unbothered by whatever Amber thought she’d heard.

Amber leaned down to tuck Penny’s lightweight blanket around her. “We left later than planned,” she murmured, “and the snowstorm was worse than I expected. And okay, maybe we shouldn’t have come here at all.” She looked around the large living room she had decorated for the holidays only a week ago. “But it’s not like I had much of a choice. The mean old electric company turned off our service. It was either hide out here for a few days, or go to Grandma and Grandpa’s house and face everyone.”

Right. And let Callie and Lyssa know she had screwed up—yet again.

The thought made her shudder. Her older sisters loved her and she loved them. But living with their tendency to fly to her rescue? Not so much to like there. It was as if they both felt they couldn’t trust her to do anything right.

Her ex’s attitude had been even worse. With him, there was no seemed about it. He told her outright and on a regular basis she needed him to take care of everything. Another good reason she now called him her ex.

A loud thump made her heart leap.

Those noises she’d heard hadn’t come from a dream.

Someone was in the kitchen.

It couldn’t be her boss. Michael was spending the holidays with his family in California.

The footsteps grew louder. He—or she—was getting closer to her and her daughter. Scoop up Penny and run. But the car keys were in her room. She would never reach the stairs in time. And even if she could make it as far as the front door, how could she escape on foot in a snowstorm?

Nobody’s getting between me and my baby. She grabbed a heavy ornament sitting on the coffee table.

The footsteps came even nearer to the door.

Swallowing a shriek, she raced across the room and past the dining area. Her slippers padded silently on the wooden floor.

As she reached the doorway, her weapon held high, a towering man stepped through the opening. Recognition hit—too late. Fear and adrenaline had her in full swing. The ornament zeroed in on her boss’s snow-frosted head.

Michael lunged, reaching up to wrench the weapon from her hands. “What the…? Amber?”

Well, one consolation—if you could call it that—he looked as shaken up as she felt. The reply whooshed from her mind straight to her mouth. “You’re not supposed to be here!”

“Neither are you. And especially not armed for battle. I didn’t mean to scare you. Heck, if I’d known you were here, I’d have called ahead, if only to keep you from trying to knock me out with a…with a…” He looked down at the ornament in his hand. “A troll?”

“It’s not a troll. It’s an elf. A Christmas elf.”

“Oh. Well. That makes it all right, then, doesn’t it?”

Her laugh shook so badly, it rattled. “Well, after all, it is Christmas Eve.”

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I’m Barbara, and I write small-town romance that usually includes quirky characters and a touch of humor.

Have fun looking around the site and my blog, The Daille-y News.” And consider signing up for my newsletter, where you’ll get insider info on my writing life, sneak previews, and access to subscriber-only book giveaways.

 

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Author Showcase – Colleen Driscoll (Piper the Elf series)

The following books are great stories for children 3-8 years of age.

Hardcover: 32 pages

Mom’s Choice Award–Children’s Picture Book Health and Safety

Uh-oh! Santa’s suit is too tight and Mrs. Claus is worried about Santa. What can she do to help Santa shed a few extra pounds? She calls on Piper the elf to be Santa’s personal trainer. Problem is…Santa doesn’t want to exercise and Piper doesn’t know what a personal trainer is supposed to do! Piper wisely engages Santa’s help to build snowmen, make snow angels, and have a snowball fight. Find out if Piper’s plan works and if Santa can make his Christmas Eve rounds. The beautiful illustrations by noted illustrator Brian Dumm will delight every reader.

This is an excellent book for the classroom, home, or library. Bring fun, exercise, and healthy snacks to your family to help celebrate the holiday.

 

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Hardcover: 32 pages

The Christmas celebration at the North Pole needs music! Piper puts together a Rockin’ Band of Christmas elves at the request of Santa. Piper has many volunteers and the band works hard practicing for the big event, but not everyone is happy about the band. Does the band get to play for Santa? Find out in this new Piper the Elf adventure!

Award winning author Colleen Driscoll puts her musical talent to work in Santa’s Rockin’ Band. Parents, teachers, and kids will love the beautiful story that teaches about music, instruments, and most importantly about getting along with others. Driscoll hits every note in her newest Piper tale.

 

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Hardcover: 32 pages

Mom’s Choice Award Recipient

Christmas is coming and Santa’s sleigh is in dire need of repairs. When Santa asks for assistance, only Piper volunteers to help patch the run-down sleigh. As Piper learns how to repair a sleigh, she also learns a valuable lesson on helping others. Will the sleigh be ready for the midnight ride on Christmas Eve? This newest Piper the Elf adventure is full of surprises!

 

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Hardcover: 32 pages

Mom’s Choice Award
Preferred Choice Award Creative Child Magazine

When a new visitor comes to the North Pole, Piper learns about patience as she struggles to teach the stubborn reindeer, Stomper, how to fly. Despite Piper’s efforts, Stomper refuses to cooperate, and Santa leaves on Christmas Eve without the little reindeer. Will Santa take Stomper back to his herd on Christmas, or is there another way to get the reindeer in the air? Also includes animals of the Arctic!

 

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Piper the Elf Coloring & Activity Book is a wonderful companion to the Piper the Elf series by multi award winning author Colleen Driscoll. The elves are preparing for Christmas Eve and they find a stowaway in the sleigh! Fun games, mazes, puzzles, for the entire family!

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 Colleen Driscoll grew up in western Pennsylvania where she earned her B.S. degree at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She taught in Virginia before relocating to the scenic mountains in West Virginia.

 
 

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Author Showcase – Jana Richards (Home Fires) (The Girl Most Likely)

Anne Wakefield travels halfway around the world for love. But when she arrives in Canada from England at the end of World War Two, she discovers the handsome Canadian pilot she’d fallen in love with has married someone else. Heartbroken, she prepares to return to London, though she has nothing left there to return to. Her former fiancé’s mother makes a suggestion: marriage to her other son.

Badly wounded and scarred during the war, Erik Gustafson thinks he’s a poor substitute for his brother. Although he loves Anne almost from the first time he sees her, he cannot believe she would ever be able to love him as he is – especially as he might be after another operation on his bad leg. Anne sees the beauty of his heart. The cold prairie winter may test her courage, but can she prove to Erik that her love for him is real?

 

“I made such a mess of things,” she whispered. “I’m sorry for all the fuss I caused
everyone.”

Erik took a step toward her. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have let you go alone in the dark.”

“You didn’t know I would stupidly walk out onto thin ice.” She shook her head. “I wanted to help. I wanted to be useful. I can’t stand feeling so bloody useless.”

“You’re not useless. You’re an amazing woman. Anders is a fool for letting you go.”

She stared at him, her eyes filling with tears. “Thank you.”

He opened his arms and she stepped into them, wrapping her arms around his waist, clinging to him. He held her tightly, inhaling the sweet, clean scent of her, never wanting to let her go.

“Don’t cry. Everything’s all right now.”

“I know I’m being stupid. Tears don’t solve anything,” she said against his chest. “But I was so cold, and so scared. I thought I was going to die.”

He tightened his hold and kissed her hair.

“Don’t think about it any more. You’re safe now.”

He heard her sigh, felt her relax against him.

“Yes. I’m safe.”

She lifted her head to look into his face, her dark eyes shiny with tears, her lips slightly parted, and Erik stared at her mouth, wanting desperately to kiss her, to capture her sweetness. He slowly lowered his mouth to hers. To his surprise, she didn’t run off or turn away in revulsion. He was so close her breath mingled with his, her breathing shallow and erratic. His heart slammed against his chest, his body thrumming with need. For the first time in over three years, he felt alive.

 

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Cara McLeod, the girl most likely to have the perfect marriage, is now divorced and, in her own words, “fat, frumpy, and over forty.” The thought of facing former classmates—and the ex-husband who dumped her—at her high school reunion terrifies her. Cajoled into attending by her kids and her best friend, Cara enlists help at the gym to lose weight and look great for the reunion. Personal Trainer Finn Cooper is more than willing to help—but does he have to be so to-die-for gorgeous?

Finn thinks Cara is perfect just the way she is. She’s everything he wants in a woman, except for one thing—she can’t get past the fact that he’s eight years younger. To Finn, age and weight are just numbers. But can he convince Cara the numbers she worries about add up to only one thing for him—love?

 

He chuckled. “Jessica better watch her back. You could give her a run for her money.”

He heard Cara’s throaty laugh, and various parts of his anatomy tingled in response. “Yes, that’s my evil plan. Take over Rochester Noon, then the world.”

“If you set your mind to it, I’m sure you could do it.”

“Thanks Finn.”

“For what?”

“For believing in me.”

“Are you going to be okay now?”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thanks to you.”

He wanted so badly to tell her he loved her, adored her, thought she was the most amazing woman in the world. But fear stopped him. Was she truly over her ex-husband? Why else would losing weight for the reunion be so important to her if not to impress Peter?

“I’ve got to run. Thanks again. I’ll talk to you later at my condo, right?”

“Absolutely. I can hardly wait to hear about your big TV debut. Break a leg. Isn’t that what they say in show biz?”

She laughed. “Yeah, that’s what they say. Bye.”

Finn replaced the receiver and closed his eyes. He hoped everything went well with this interview. Cara deserved to realize how amazing she was.

If she did come to that realization, would there still be room in her life for him?

 

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When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada with their Pug/Terrier cross Lou and several unnamed goldfish. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.janarichards.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Author Showcase – Debbie Mason (The Corner of Holly and Ivy)

Sometimes love is just around the corner . . .

With her dreams of being a wedding dress designer suddenly over, Arianna Bell isn’t expecting a holly jolly Christmas. Instead, her heart feels about three sizes too small. That is until her high school sweetheart Connor Gallagher returns to town and she finds his mere presence still makes her pulse race. But just when she starts dreaming of kissing under the mistletoe, he announces that he will be her opponent in the upcoming mayoral race….

Hot-shot attorney Connor Gallagher has something to prove. He’s tired of playing runner-up to his high-achieving brothers. So when the opportunity to enter the campaign comes up, he takes it. Even if it means running against the only woman he’s ever loved. But with a little help from Harmony Harbor’s local matchmakers and a lot of holiday cheer, Connor and Arianna may just get the happy ever after they both deserve.

 

Chapter One (Courtesy of Debbie Mason’s Website)

 

At the sound of a drawer slamming outside her closed bedroom door, Arianna Bell awoke with a start. She blinked, trying to get her bearings. Was it morning or night? The blackout curtains in her bedroom made it difficult to tell. Down the hall, someone continued their frenetic opening and closing of drawers, and she sat up in bed.

Burglar or her grandmother? she wondered, not in the least alarmed either way. After barely surviving the fire that destroyed her business and three others, Arianna wasn’t fazed by much these days. Besides, it wasn’t like they had anything of real value in the small Cape Cod home where she now lived with her grandmother, Helen Fairchild.

Another drawer slammed. “Where did you put the damn car keys? I have to hit the campaign trail.”

Arianna’s stomach muscles bunched in response to her grandmother’s angry question, making a lie of her claim that nothing fazed her anymore. At that moment, she’d moved beyond slightly fazed to really worried.

And not because her grandmother was hitting the campaign trail. At eighty, Helen was the oldest woman to run for mayor of Harmony Harbor, a small town less than an hour from Boston. Her grandmother’s habit of misplacing things was nothing new either. But over the past few weeks, Helen’s forgetfulness hadn’t been so easily explained away.

As much as Arianna would like to blame moments such as this on the stress of the mayoral race or the typical forgetfulness of old age, she couldn’t. Her grandmother had given up driving a decade before and had sold her BMW around the same time. Arianna had lost her car in the fire. It had been parked in the alley between Tie the Knot and the beauty salon that had burned down.

Cradling her injured arm to her chest, Arianna scooted off the bed. She could count on one hand the number of times she’d gotten out of bed of her own volition in the past seven weeks. Which the piles of books, water glasses, and tea cups on the floor by her bed attested to. One benefit of spending so much time in the dark was that she seemed to have developed bat-like sonar and safely made it through the obstacle course and to the other side of her bedroom without knocking something over or falling on her face. She reached for the doorknob with her good hand.

“Arianna, where”—the door flew open, shoving Arianna and her elbow into the wall at her back — “the hell are the keys to my Beemer?”

So much for my bat-like sonar, she thought, trying to breathe through the pain. It felt like someone had whacked the elbow of her damaged arm with a tuning fork, the ache vibrating up and down her forearm and hand. Which might have been a good thing, not the pain in her arm obviously, but her inability to speak. She had no idea how to deal with this. She didn’t know whether she should tell her grandmother the truth or protect her with a lie.

“Where is that child?” her grandmother muttered, her voice raspy from years of smoking.

“Standing behind the door, Glamma,” Arianna said through clenched teeth.

Her grandmother had coined the moniker Glamma years before it became popular. Not a surprise since Helen had been forty for as long as Arianna could remember. She was all about fashion and glamor. Once a highly sought-after runway model in Paris, she’d returned to Harmony Harbor to raise her daughter (Arianna’s mother Beverly) and open Tie the Knot, a bridal shop on Main Street. The shop she’d passed down to Arianna a decade before. The same shop the mad man had burned to the ground in July.

“Don’t go there,” Arianna told herself firmly. She relived that night over and over again in her dreams and refused to relive it when she was wide awake.

“Don’t go where?” her grandmother asked, clapping her hands

Arianna came out from behind the door. “Nowhere. You can stop clapping, Glamma. The lightbulbs are burned out. I have to replace them.”

Arianna had a thing for Clap On! Clap Off! lights. Her baby sister, Jenna, knew about her secret addiction and had replaced the lights in Arianna’s bedroom with Clappers the day she’d come to live with her grandmother. Jenna was the sweet, thoughtful sister. Much sweeter than Arianna deserved after the way she’d treated her growing up.

Glamma’s lips thinned. Her silver-blond hair was pulled back from her face, giving her an instant facelift and showcasing her pale blue eyes and exquisite bone structure. “You mean I will. You haven’t been out of the house since the day you got home from the hospital,” she said as she walked to the window on the other side of the bedroom.

Arianna was so relieved her grandmother remembered exactly when she’d last ventured outside that the sarcastic tone didn’t get under her skin. Besides, half of what came out of her grandmother’s mouth had bite. She’d always had a dry sense of humor, something she’d passed on to Arianna. Although Arianna’s sense of humor had been missing for quite some time.

The blackout curtains rattled along the rod as her grandmother whipped them open with strength and purpose. Just like her walk, Arianna thought with a smile. She must have been imagining things. There was nothing wrong with her grandmother, nothing wrong at all. Arianna felt like sinking to the area rug in relief. She might have if the bright autumn sunshine pouring through the window wasn’t half blinding her.

Squinting, she turned away from the sun’s rays. Big mistake. The position put her in direct view of the mirror on her dresser. There was a time not so long ago when catching a glimpse of her shoulder-length blond hair, blue eyes, and thin frame in the mirror wouldn’t have bothered her. It did now.

“All right, I’m off to . . .” Helen frowned and then rubbed her forehead as though she’d forgotten what she’d been about to say, or maybe where she’d been about to go.

That wasn’t unusual though. People complained about forgetting why they walked into a room all the time. You couldn’t go a day on social media without a meme about it popping up. Women in their menopausal and post-menopausal years posted them all the time. No doubt if Glamma was on social media, she would too.

Helen lowered her fingers from her forehead and bent to pick up a copy of the town’s local newspaper, the Harmony Harbor Gazette, from the floor.

Arianna was impressed and checked off another box in the “Glamma’s fine” column. She wasn’t nearly as flexible as her grandmother.

Helen’s face cleared. “Campaigning, that’s it. I have to get out there and pound the pavement. I’ll see you later, darling. I won’t be back until late. Don’t forget to eat.”

Arianna took in her grandmother’s attire as she passed her on the way out the door. Just like she suspected, they were pajamas. Pink satin pajamas. “Wait. You don’t mean you’re leaving right this very minute, do you?”

“That’s exactly what I mean. I have to get a leg up on the Gallagher boy.”

This wasn’t good. Not good at all. Arianna’s heart began to gallop. She could barely look after herself. How was she supposed to look after her grandmother? “Why don’t we both get dressed and go together? It’s about time I got out there on the campaign trial with you, don’t you think?” Arianna said, working to keep the panic from her voice.

Her grandmother blinked at Arianna’s suggestion and then blinked again like a sleepy owl. Arianna wasn’t sure whether it was because Helen didn’t recognize her or she was stunned by her offer to accompany her.

“You want to come on the stump with me?”

Thanks goodness, it was the latter. Wait a minute. What had she been thinking? She’d just agreed to leave the house! “Yes, unless you think it’s going to rain and we both should stay home.” She looked out the window, hoping to see water-logged black clouds darkening the cerulean sky.

Her grandmother’s lips flattened. “I knew you’d back out.”

“I’m not backing out. I’ll bring an umbrella just in case.”

“We don’t need an umbrella. We’ll take my car.”

Arianna bowed her head and then lifted it to look at her grandmother. “Glamma, you—”

Helen interrupted her with a snap of her fingers. “I don’t know what came over me. I haven’t had that car in years.”

She didn’t know whether her grandmother truly remembered or had picked up on

Arianna’s distress. Memory issues aside, Helen Fairchild was one sharp cookie.

Arianna gave her grandmother a reassuring smile. “We all forget things now and again. No big deal, right?”

“Right. Right,” she said in a voice that didn’t sound nearly as confident as Arianna’s.

An hour later, her heart pounding like she’d run a one-minute mile, Arianna stepped out of the house on the corner of Holly and Ivy. Positive she was about to faint, she turned back to the door, fumbling for the knob with her good hand.

Obviously, she hadn’t learned from her past mistakes. She knew better than to allow strong emotions to influence her decisions. That was the one benefit that had come out of the fire on Main Street, Arianna no longer had feelings or acted upon them. She’d been an apathetic shell holed up in her room for the past seven weeks. Now look at her, venturing outside when she’d be perfectly content never to set foot out of the house again. A fact she couldn’t share with her closest friends and family because they had no problem sharing with her that they thought she needed professional help.

In the middle of the night when she woke up beneath sweat-soaked sheets and gasping for air, she agreed with them. But then morning would arrive and push back the shadows that haunted her, and she’d come to her senses. Nothing a therapist could say or do would help her recover from the Nightmare on Main Street.

Her grandmother called out to her from where she stood smoking, leaning against a white picket fence draped in ruby-red vines. “Come on now, the primary is next week, and the Gazette says the Gallagher boy is in the lead. We don’t have a moment to lose.”

If her grandmother had been running a strong second, it would have been okay. Next Tuesday’s primary election narrowed the field to two candidates from the seven currently in the race. However, according to the Gazette’s latest poll, that was not the case. Helen Fairchild was running dead last in the mayoral race.

Arianna reluctantly released the door knob. Her eighty-year-old grandmother had a dream. She wanted to be mayor to protect her beloved home town from the vision Daniel Gallagher had for Harmony Harbor’s future.

Arianna knew a little something about dreams herself. Before the Nightmare on Main Street, she’d lived and breathed her dream of becoming the next Vera Wang and of Tie the Knot becoming the next Kleinfeld Bridal. A thirty-six-year-old (admittedly bitter) divorcee, it seemed her entire grown-up life had revolved around ensuring every bride had the wedding dress of their dreams.

She’d spent twelve hours a day, seven days a week, working with customers who could turn into a bridezella or a weepy mess in the blink of an eye. But the most difficult for her to deal with had been the sweet, wide-eyed innocents who thought their lives would be perfect the moment they said I do.

She’d survived the daily drama and stress without sarcastic rejoinders and eyes rolls because of what awaited her at the end of her day. The moment she retired to the room above her shop on Main Street, everything else faded away. It was the place where the magic happened.

Sometimes she’d be holed up there from dusk to dawn hand sewing lace, crystals, and pearls onto the tulle and organza gowns, turning them into one-of-a-kind works of art. And while the hours were long and the work sometimes tedious and backbreaking, she’d never once complained. After all, she’d been following her passion, living her dream.

Her dreams were over now. Everything had gone up in smoke. But it was more than guilt at the loss of her grandmother’s legacy and worry about her that forced Arianna out of the house today, it was her deep and abiding love for the woman who was at that moment regarding her through narrowed eyes and a cloud of cigarette smoke.

“What on earth are you wearing?” asked the woman who only an hour before planned to knock on doors in pink satin pajamas.

Arianna looked down at the mocha-colored lounge pants and top she wore beneath a calf-length blush velour cardigan. In deference to her damaged arm, the right sleeve was empty and the top two buttons fastened to conceal the sling she still wore. In deference to Helen, Arianna had changed out the pink sneakers her sister Jenna had paired with the outfit for brown suede ankle boots.

“It’s the new trend. Loungewear chic,” Arianna informed Helen, who’d obviously recovered from her momentary fashion lapse and looked effortlessly elegant in wide-legged cream pants and a blouse with a bronze-colored sweater draped casually around her shoulders and bronze ballerina slippers on her feet.

Arianna, who’d once been as style conscious as her grandmother, didn’t care about that sort of thing anymore. Comfortable and cozy pajamas were her wardrobe of choice these days, which her sister knew. Not that Arianna would mention Jenna to Helen. She didn’t blame the Nightmare on Main Street on her sister, but her grandmother did.

Helen’s brow furrowed, the expression on her face turning from distaste to concern. She approached the step where Arianna stood poised to take flight. She could handle the distaste, the concern . . . not so much. But she didn’t have time to run back inside. Helen was surprisingly fast for an eighty-year-old. She lifted her walking stick—most people would refer to it as a cane but not her grandmother—and moved Arianna’s cardigan aside. “You’re too thin.”

The statement took her aback. In Helen Fairchild’s book, you could never be too rich or too thin.

Arianna was saved from responding by their neighbor from across the road. Mrs. Ranger looked up from raking the autumn leaves into a pile and smiled. “Arianna, it’s so good see you, dear. How are you doing?”

She didn’t expect the truth, did she? What if Arianna said fine like she always did and Mrs. Ranger wanted specifics—like how was her arm? It would open up a conversation about the Nightmare on Main Street, wouldn’t it? Of course it would.

Obviously, Glamma had caught her at a weak moment. Arianna had been out of her flipping mind to agree to accompany her today. Because no matter how much she loved her grandmother and didn’t want to see her hurt or embarrassed or her dreams dashed, Arianna wasn’t up to interreacting with people who weren’t family or her closest friends. She had a difficult enough time interacting with them. And it’d be a cold day in hell before she’d talk to anyone about what happened on that warm summer night. Her sister Serena had been smart. She’d left town two days after Arianna was released from hospital.

“I’m fine, Mrs. Ranger. Thanks for ask—”

Her grandmother interrupted her with a horrified gasp, which was immediately followed by choking from inhaling a stream of cigarette smoke.

“How could you, Irene?” Helen said once she got her coughing under control. “We’ve known each other for more than sixty years.” Before Mrs. Ranger had a chance to respond, Helen strode down the leaf-littered flagstone walkway and flung open the front gate.

Arianna frowned, confused by her grandmother’s angry outburst until she spotted Daniel Gallagher’s campaign sign on the far side of Mrs. Ranger’s front yard. And there it was, the main reason Arianna should have convinced her grandmother not to put her name in the race. Helen wouldn’t take defeat well, and she had a temper. A temper that sometimes made her act without thinking.

Arianna protectively cradled her right arm to her chest to keep it from bouncing against her body as she hurried after her grandmother, who was already halfway across the road by then. “Glamma, you get back here.”

Now in a face-off with Irene on her front lawn, Helen ignored Arianna. She wished Mrs. Ranger would do the same to her grandmother. Instead, she’d apparently decided to add fuel to the fire. “Yes, we have, and you’re the same age as me, Helen. Far too old for this sort of thing. It’s time to give the younger generation a chance.”

“Speak for yourself. I don’t look a day over sixty, and I don’t feel it either. And why should I give a man like him a chance?” She slapped the lawn sign with her cane. “He’s going to ruin this town with his modern ideas. He hasn’t lived in Harmony Harbor for decades. He’s an outsider now.”

Stuck on the other side of the street thanks to slow-moving traffic, Arianna waved the rubberneckers on. “Nothing to see, folks. Move it along before you cause a pile-up.”

“Helen, he’s a Gallagher. Without his family, Harmony Harbor wouldn’t exist.”

Arianna groaned. Her grandmother blamed Daniel Gallagher’s nephew Connor for ruining Arianna’s life and took it out on the rest of the family. Connor had represented her ex in their divorce, and Arianna had walked away without anything to show for the years she’d given to her marriage.

But she and Connor had a history long before Gary and their divorce. Connor Gallagher had been her first love. And, at one time, she’d thought he’d be her only love. She considered herself lucky that her grandmother had no idea the price Arianna had paid for her teenage love affair with Connor. It was a price she’d continue to pay until the day she died.

“Don’t talk about them as if they’re something special. William Gallagher was a pirate who made his money on the high seas, burning and pillaging. The rest of them are no better. Especially him.” She whacked the sign again, taking out one of Daniel Gallagher’s blue eyes.

At Mrs. Ranger’s outraged gasp, Arianna held up a hand and darted between the two idling cars on the street. She reached her grandmother just as she put her cane through Daniel’s toothy grin.

“It’s time we were on our way, Glamma. Sorry about that, Mrs. Ranger. The heat of the campaign and all that. I’ll, ah, I guess I could call and ask for a replacement sign. I’m sure the Gallaghers have plenty on hand.”

Tugging on her cane, her grandmother glared at her. Arianna glared back. It’s not like she wanted to call the Gallagher campaign headquarters, but what did Helen expect her to do? She’d defaced the sign. It was a punishable offense. One of them had to be the responsible adult.

“I don’t know, dear. There’s been a run on the signs since Daniel’s nephew Connor was put in charge of delivery and set-up. He’s a high-powered attorney, you know? Such a handsome boy. Charming too, just like his uncle.”

Okay, so she wasn’t going to be calling for a replacement sign after all. The last person she wanted to talk to was Connor.

She glanced at the cars idling on the street. Their audience had grown. Instead of four cars, there were now six. Seven, she corrected when a black Porsche slowed to a crawl. She sagged with relief when the Porsche pulled around the idling vehicles. Maybe now the others would get the idea they were blocking traffic and move on. Except the Porsche didn’t keep driving, it pulled alongside the curb, and the others followed suit.

“You think Connor Gallagher is charming, do you, Irene? Well, have I got news for you,” her grandmother said with another vicious tug of her cane, which remained firmly attached to Daniel Gallagher’s mouth.

“Don’t even,” Arianna muttered close to her grandmother’s ear and closed the fingers of her good hand around the cane. “Let me do it.”

While Arianna tried to wrestle the walking stick from the sign, her grandmother trash- talked the Gallagher men and Irene Ranger defended the handsome, blue-eyed devils. Frustrated with both women and her inability to unstick the cane, Arianna lifted her booted foot and kicked Daniel Gallagher in the head.

It felt so good to release some of her pent-up anger and emotion that she did it again and then again. A loud grunt escaped from her mouth each time she hit the sign with a solid thwack. It took a moment for her to realize that the only sound she heard was thwack, grunt, thwack, grunt. Helen and Irene were no longer arguing. Except for the god-awful noises Arianna was making, it was uncomfortably quiet.

She glanced over her shoulder to see her grandmother and Mrs. Ranger staring at her openmouthed, and just beyond them, a handsome blue-eyed devil watched her from where he leaned against the black Porsche.

 

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Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series and Harmony Harbor series. Her books have been praised for their “likable characters, clever dialogue, and juicy plots” (RT Book Reviews). She also writes historical paranormals as Debbie Mazzuca. Her MacLeod series has received several nominations for best paranormal as well as a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. When she isn’t writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, three wonderful children and son-in-law, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.

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Review of “Dangerous Currents ” – Kathryn Knight

When a costly mistake ends Malorie Montgomery’s career, she returns to Cape Cod in search of a fresh start. But her plans for a new–and quiet–life are quickly derailed when she makes a grisly discovery in the woods, and her screams bring the one person from her past she’d hoped to avoid. Dean Slater, the ex-boyfriend who broke her heart in high school, now lives in the beachfront community that was supposed to be her haven…and he’s just as hot as he was six years ago. 

With his rough background, Dean always knew he wasn’t good enough for the kind, intelligent beauty who claimed his heart, but somehow he’d believed their love was strong enough to survive anything–until the tragic night she turned her back on him when he needed her trust the most. Despite their painful history, Dean can’t resist the instinct to protect her, especially when it becomes apparent there’s a killer in their town. 

Their former chemistry soon reignites, but Malorie has long accepted that her dark family secret has destined her to a life alone. And when she uncovers evidence that makes her the killer’s target, a deadly confrontation threatens to destroy any possibility of a second chance. 

 

He took a step closer, eliminating the small distance between them. “I wasn’t about to let him hurt you.” He paused, his strained expression revealing an internal struggle. Clenching his jaw, he closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, their green depths flashed with something like defiance, and he cursed under his breath. “The thing is,” he finally continued, his tone rough with barely harnessed emotion, “I still feel…protective of you. I want to keep you safe.”

Her lungs stopped working. Alarm bells jangled in a distant part of her mind as he leaned over her. This was dangerous. She was dangerous. Swallowing past the knot in her throat, she forced the words out. “You don’t need to feel that way.”

His hands gripped her shoulders, setting her skin on fire. He lowered his head, bringing his lips inches from hers. “I don’t think I can control it.”

She couldn’t move. She simply didn’t have the willpower—or the desire—to stop this from happening. Every cell in her body was clamoring with need for him; it was a force of its own. All coherent thought fled as the moment stretched out in an agonizing slide toward the inevitable.

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(review request submitted by the author for an honest critique) 

Dangerous Currents began with the discovery of a young, dead woman. Malorie was only back in Cape Cod for 14 hours when her and her dog, Brady, stumbled upon the gruesome finding. It was a startling encounter and so was the following moment when her ex-love, Dean, came running when he heard her scream. Talk about a bad day.

Dean, the ex who stole Malorie’s heart as a teenager, came to her rescue a few times in this story. He was there for her when it mattered most and she didn’t let him push her away when his world came crashing down around him.

 

For the most part, this story was an okay read. I only wish two things.

  • I wish more time was spent on the psychopath.
  • I wish the psychopath’s identity wasn’t so easy to figure out.

 

Even though much time wasn’t really spent on this mentally ill man, I did appreciate the fact mental illness was addressed in this story.  Mental illness isn’t discussed enough in our society and it should be.

Mal’s mom suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. Mal was concerned she would develop symptoms soon. It’s why she shied away from Dean. She didn’t want to burden him with the illness. She had no intention of having children because she stated there’s a 12% chance a child would develop schizophrenia if a parent is affected with it. These are fears many individuals face on a daily basis. 

Kathryn Knight pointed out another truth about mental illness. People with mental illness want love, to be loved, but they don’t want to sidle people with the negative aspects of their illness.

For addressing this real issue many people battle, I thank you. We need more people talking about mental illness. Everyone deserves a happily ever after like Malorie.

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Kathryn Knight spends a great deal of time in her fictional world, where mundane chores don’t exist and daily life involves steamy romance, dangerous secrets, and spooky suspense. Her novels are award-winning #1 Amazon and Barnes & Noble Bestsellers and RomCon Reader-Rated picks. When she’s not reading or writing, Kathryn spends her time catching up on those mundane chores, driving kids around, and teaching fitness classes. She lives on beautiful Cape Cod with her husband, their two sons, and a number of rescued pets. 

 

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