Tag Archives: contemporary

Author Showcase – Cassandra Riley (Coastal Love Trilogy)

 BOOK ONE

Jasmine Parks is a strong, no-fuss woman from the wrong side of the tracks. Benson Walsh is a fraternity brother who was raised in a life of privilege. After a chance encounter on the campus of William and Mary, their worlds collide as they start on a path that will forever change their destiny. When forces work to tear them apart, will their love be enough to help them let go of their pasts so that they can build a future?

 

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 BOOK TWO

 

Ben and Jazz are a couple from completely different backgrounds trying to find a common middle ground. Just as their love solidifies, a new threat enters their lives. Follow them as they embark on a journey together. Will this force tear them apart or is their love strong enough to help them hold on?

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Ben and Jazz took a walk along the dock out to a pavilion that sat in the middle of the sound. Hand in hand, they gazed out across the choppy waters to the darkening sky. Benson lifts their conjoined hands to his mouth and kissed the back of hers her soft skin tender to his lips.
Jazz felt like a treasure when she was with him. He paid attention to every detail and took such good care of her. Ben nurtured her soul. How did she find such a man?
 

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 BOOK THREE

The final installment of the Coastal Love Trilogy is a whirlwind of drama and passionate love. Ben and Jazz are trying to live their life, but every time they think that they have escaped the drama, another problem arises. Will they survive their trials and tribulations? Will their love fall apart under the pressures

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Hello, my pen name is Cassandra Riley. My real name is Renee. I live in Yorktown Virginia with my husband and two children. I have been a teacher for 14 years. Two years ago I sat down and wrote what was to become my Coastal Love Trilogy. I have since completed two novellas and I am working on two more novels. Two of my works can be found on Kindle, Holding On (book 2) and Reflections (not really a romance).

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Author Showcase – Kevin Hammond (The King’s Peace)

The Kingdom is young and yet it stands in great peril. Dark tales of the unnatural have reached the King’s city. The King is slain in his bed and the storm on the horizon brings black ships closer to the coastal city of Erenon. Nathaniel, a clever thief has stumbled upon a job that brings him to the home of the King when he is slain and Nathaniel is unwillingly dragged into the quest to reach the southern garrison which has gone quiet in recent months. Strange powers are helping and hindering him and the small company of soldiers dispatched to that garrison as war comes to the city.

They will find those horrors that plague the common man, an ancient legend will unravel, and a deception so epic in scale it involves the Gods. The whole world of man and nations who live on the other side of the mountain range known as the Great Divide will come together in a war no one really understands and as the kingdom fights to survive it will face an enemy they know nothing about.

 

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Between the two men, one of the serving girls had placed a candle and Nathaniel watched for long minutes in silence. The flame shone so bright in the dim corner of the room where they sat. The Duke sipped a cool glass of water and the men milled around the room trying to get the place cleaned up for the morning when the locals would come by expecting food and drink. He had no idea that the Duke would allow him to sit for as long as he needed before giving his answer, nor did he know how much time had passed. He extended his hearing around the room to isolate the many conversations and hushed whispers among the people in the room. Two men near the door spoke of the genius plan to install archers on the balcony of a brothel across the road. Another man was offering a silent prayer to whichever God he favored. He asked that his wife and young daughter be well cared for in his absence, but he spared little thought for himself, and Nathaniel approved of the man’s selflessness and care for his family. He wondered if he might ever live long enough to have what this man ached to be away from. Hector, on the other hand, cursed the King’s men quietly while scrubbing some unseen mess made in the kitchen by the soldiers battling with the fake guildsmen who had managed to flee that way.

The Duke was sitting quietly staring off into space as the young thief peered at the candle. His mind and his senses were away somewhere else and he could not have named that moment when the flame of the candle had turned black. He sat for long moments staring at the ominous, dark motion of that snaking flame, but as his mind was elsewhere he did not call any alarm or draw attention to it. And Nathaniel continued to stare at that dark flame until the creeping itch travelled up his spine and a terrible alarm pounded in the back of his head. Slowly, in a voice filled with a terror he had never before experienced, he managed to grind out the words “Something is terribly wrong.”

With his senses extended still, around the room, he heard the conversations fall mute. Hector stopped cursing the mess and the soldiers had stopped cleaning. One man silently crossed himself, and many instinctively reached for their weapons. The storm had picked up in earnest and the darkness outside was complete. Inside the room something had filled the air. It was an ecstatic tension buzzing between the people like something travelling around, under the tables, men jumped as they felt something brush past their feet.

He heard the rolling hiss of something swirling around the room. There was no point of issue and it was charging the air with energy. Nathaniel thought he could almost see something turning around in the shadows of the room, in the corners of the building, travelling around the ceiling.

And the scream, so filled with helpless terror, was cut short with a gargling cry and a vile hissing as blood coursed from the soldier’s neck; behind him stood one of the false guildsmen. His body had been hacked to shreds by the soldiers and it was so impossible that he could live yet he had torn the throat from a live man. The monster’s stumbling gait was its only betrayal of the deep injuries inflicted from the passage of his death. There was a cruel glimmer that Nathaniel thought might have been pleasure within the coal black shades of his eyes as he crammed some of the dead soldier’s flesh into his mouth.

Most of the men in the room were frozen in mute horror at what they were seeing, their eyes recorded it but their minds couldn’t process it. The dead were rising, for vengeance, for wrath, for whatever dark intent fuelled their desire. The weapons were held in shaking hands by ashen white faces but no one made the move to attack. The reality of it, the cruelty of it, had not dawned on the soldiers fully until they saw their own comrade- freshly killed- beginning to stir on the floor. As his coal black eyes fixed on the living, some of the younger soldiers expelled the contents of their stomachs.

Amid rasping, unintelligible threats and flailing limbs, the walking dead ambled forward, and the soldiers slowly moved backward-inch by painful inch. From the kitchen they could hear Hector and the serving girls fending off the creatures come back to life, until they burst through the door with panic strewn on their faces.

“Barricade that door!” The Duke screamed, and the soldiers came to life with the practiced obedience of listening to his authority. Two men broke ranks to help the girls shove tables before the kitchen door and held it in place while the pummeling assault came from the other side. The creatures vented a deep throated rage as they tried to smash their way through.

Nathaniel loosed a throwing dagger with a strong throw and the knife struck a guildsman square in the chest. It would have been a mortal blow for a living man but the creature barely even flinched.

“Fall back, hold the line, press them away with your swords.” Jorge barked orders at his men. The soldiers gave up ground slowly while the creatures came on. A few men dared hacking blows that severed limbs but the dead pressed further on, until the living had given up fully half of the bar room.

Dashing behind the soldiers, Nathaniel reached for a broken table leg, wrapping it in some table cloths and poked the brand into the flames of Hector’s hearth. The rags quickly caught fire and he returned to the line to throw amid the dead men. The brand caught fire on one guildsman’s leg but the creature stumbled forward with one arm and a leg partially alight, still questing after the flesh of the living. “Don’t lose your heads, hold your line and strike for their limbs,” Jorge ordered his men.

“Gods save us,” McKeen uttered a loud curse as he returned to the bar. Some of the undead turned to face him but the burly Sergeant did not turn and run as expected. Nathaniel watched in awe as he locked the door behind him. “Can’t have you fellas roving about my good city now can we? Wouldn’t be good and proper for the fancy folks to see your like parading about chewing up their nice outfits, no we can’t have that.” The Sergeant pulled his sword and roared like a man possessed as the first of the guildsmen drew near. His long blade sliced in a powerful arc to sever the thing’s head from its shoulders and the body crumpled in a heap on the floor. The body lay still as the head rolled around the floor, still gargling and hissing.

“Set to, gentlemen, the Duke gave the quiet command and the men pressed on the counter to hack and slash at the heads of the undead. Nathaniel saw little use for himself in the fight but he mustered the courage to pick up a fallen man’s sword and help to press the unliving backward so the soldiers could do their job.

“Ware the limbs!” Jorge warned, as he ducked an arm to drive his sword upwards through a dead man’s neck. With a savage twist he pried the head clean off the shoulders. While the undead snatched and grasped for any contact with human flesh, the soldiers worked in pairs to parry their limbs while his partner placed the killing stroke to take the head clean from the shoulders. The fray took little time to come to an end and, though the men looked sick with fear, they knew it was a miracle that only one man had died. The resistance in the kitchen was brief compared to the main assault that took place within the bar room with only a few of the undead left to be dispatched.

A blood spattered Duke stood to the left flank of the melee in the midst of a small gathering of headless men “Sergeant McKeen? Are you still alive, sir?”

“Present and in good working order, sir.”

“Mind telling me how you came upon inspiration to save the day then, Sergeant?”

“Gods save us, sir. I hail from the small island of Forfar on the Southern Reaches, beyond the widow’s peak, sir. The people have been around from before the Kingdom and they say there was a village overrun in our history. They say one night when a dark storm brewed that the dead folks long since passed had come back to tear at the living. They say, sir, that they craved the taste of living flesh, and ought to blame us for their passing as we are alive and they had already gone to their maker. That the body is dead and the mind possessed by some dark magic, they say the only way to kill them was to sever the head from the body. It’s bloody butchery, if you don’t mind me saying, sir. But now we best tend to the corpses and the severed heads. If legend be true then the heads will never die until the spell is ended. But we are best to burn all that’s left of them so they might never find way to rise again.”

 

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I always thought there was something very iconic about falling down a really big hole. Until that happens I’ll just write some stuff.

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Review of “Rescue Me: Escape From Reality series” – Sara Schoen

Mia Daniels is running away.

She’s leaving her family, her job, and her life behind, all to get away from her past. With no plan, she packed her suitcase and took off for a town where she thought she’d be safe. She should have known she wouldn’t be safe anywhere…

Gage Greystone is running from his family name.

His family has owned the town for generations, but he doesn’t plan to take it over from his father. He has a dream to save others; from the treacherous hiking trails or from themselves. Maybe that’s why he’s so attracted to the newest resident of Escape, Mia. She seems to be silently begging to be rescued. From what, he doesn’t know, but he’ll do anything to rescue her.

But this rescue may be impossible for the decorated emergency serviceman…

 

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As I traveled through the camping ground and the wellness camp, I could see what Lottie meant by a slow start to summer. There was room for well over one hundred and fifty hikers, and that didn’t include the trailers I’m sure drove through occasionally, at the camp site. The wellness camp had about ten cabins with what seemed like only one being used and a lot of open space.

I made a point to travel through the wellness camp slowly so I could possibly find Kelsey and see if she wanted her bike back, but I only saw a few girls who looked to be about fifteen. They were lacing up their hiking boots while others were preparing for a swim. A few waved at me as I passed, others seemed shy and looked away from me. I tried not to be offended. To them I was an outsider, someone they should stay away from. Just like he had taught me to do. I waved back regardless and continued my ride over Faith Bridge. I could see the town crowning over the hill to my right, but the well-defined hiking trail to my left beckoned me.

Lottie can wait a little longer, I decided with a smile. Turning my front tire toward the dirt path, I took off with the girl’s excited laughter and shrieks from entering the cold-water echoing around me. Their voices faded behind me as trees thickened around me, wrapping me in a cool, shadowy blanket, shielding me from the sun, and silencing everything around me until I was left with only my thoughts.

A few months ago, leaving me to my thoughts would have been dangerous. Maybe even suicidal. In the past few years, I had gone through more turmoil than I thought possible, and it seemed like the pain was never-ending. No matter what I did, I couldn’t escape bad news.

I thought I had found the one, the person I was meant to be with, the one who’s supposed to be by my side for the rest of my life, but then it all fell apart. “It’s over, Mia.” I had been trying to fix a broken relationship; cheating, fighting, and abusive, manipulative behavior. I should have known it couldn’t be fixed, but I didn’t want to give up on him. I thought we loved each other, but it turns out that had been one sided too. “Mia, stop. You’re embarrassing me and you’re embarrassing yourself. It’s over, Mia. I don’t love you, I don’t think I ever did. You’re someone I settled for, you’re nothing. It’s your fault this happened, not mine. Now it’s time to move on. I have, and you should too.”

Trees moved past me in a flash as I peddled faster, taking my memories with them. But once those were gone, I was left with a harsh reality. The same ex who had told me I wasn’t worth anything and would never amount to anything is chasing me to ruin the life I had created without him. I shook my head as the path took a turn. Stop thinking about it. It’s over now. The small flickers of sunlight through the leaves and the light at the end of the tunnel of trees echoed my thoughts; a new life, one without him.

I broke free of the trees and came out on a stunning overlook. The path settled against the edge of one of the mountains, giving me a great view of Peak View, a small town the bus had stopped in for a short time, and the surrounding landscape. It reminded me a lot of Escape, but with more shopping, a high school, a military base, and more homes. It’s going to be packed in the upcoming months. Not that I could blame anyone for wanting to visit. I had been here only a few days and I already loved the little town. Even as I looked over the lush green landscape, I didn’t feel as far from my family as I had when it came to Wes. For the first time, in a long time, I genuinely felt at home. I didn’t feel the need to look over my shoulder. This is the place for me. This is where I can finally heal and move on. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for.

Taking a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, I realized I couldn’t wait to move on. I’d dive in head first, even if it meant accepting another gift I didn’t deserve from Lottie. If this is what they do, then I should accept it. It’s time to move on. Whether he wants me to or not. Turning my bike around to head back to town, I took one last glance at the overlook. The sun hanging over Peak View, the mountains keeping us concealed, and everything in me was screaming for me to take a leap of faith. And that’s just what I’ll do. I pushed away from Mountain Side Height lookout and headed toward town, thanks to the helpful signs on Morning Glory’s trail. I left feeling the best I had in years…I’d return when my life turned to shit again. As it inevitably would.

 

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

 

Every day, every minute, people are starting their lives over. Some choose to build a new life in a town close to home while others move out of state or even out of their country. Any move, no matter the distance, can be nerve-racking; however, relocating because you’re hiding from an abusive ex takes the stress of the situation to a whole other level. Abuse, in any form, can reek havoc on your mental state. I am not surprised Mia was skittish with dating again. She’s literally running from the past, trying to stay one step ahead of Wes.

While embarking on a new life in Escape, Colorado, Mia let her guard down and formed relationships. In this small picturesque town, she found support, acceptance, friendship….. a home. The quaint town had accepted this “outsider” as one their own. I know a lot about little towns so I can relate to a small community banding together. They do help each other out and secrets are few and far between.

Sara painted small town living to a tee. She also created a hidden treasure many vacationers would love to unwind at for days, week, or longer: breathtaking mountain view, tranquil lake, numerous hiking trails, caves to explore, etc. It’s a nature lovers dream destination. 

It was Mia’s dream come true, too, until her past caught up with her. After three months on the run, Wes did find her. For me, I thought their confrontation would’ve been more nail biting. Everything was leading up to their monumental moment so this was Mia’s time to shine. Now was the time for Mia to take the bull by the horns and make her stand. Unfortunately, she didn’t and I felt disappointed by her lack of action. I wanted her to take the power away from him. In the end, it all worked out but not in the way I was foresaw. But hey, she still got her happily ever after and that’s what matters at the end of the day. 

 

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1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤1/2

 

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Sara Schoen is a Biology major at James Madison University who was born and raised in Northern Virginia. She has been an adamant writer since she was young, and now enjoys reading, ghost hunting, and traveling. She hopes to have readers find solace in the worlds and characters she creates and in some cases provide a cautionary tale. Sara plans to continue writing and explore various genres in the future.

 

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Review of “Rock My World (A Mondez Novel, Book 1)” – Lee Piper

High school teacher Grace Thompson didn’t want to be a mentor. And she sure as hell didn’t want to mentor Levi Mondez. They got off to a rocky start, but it wasn’t entirely her fault. How was she to know he was the lead singer of local rock band, Mondez? How was she to know he considered her short temper a turn on? And how was she to know her best friend, Riley, would fall for him? If he wasn’t so damn gorgeous it might have made the whole mess easier to handle. If he didn’t transform Grace into a blazing furnace of need, and if he hadn’t confused the hell out of her already bruised heart, life might have turned out a heck of a lot differently. She was screwed.

 

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

 

Like Levi and Grace, we all have lived through moments in our lives that we cherish fondly or would rather forget entirely. Some of us plaster a smile on our face and continue living as if it’s our last day. Some of us turn to a coping device (such as liquor) to just get through a single day. For those who turn to the bottle, like Grace, you soon realize you must face your fears because alcohol solves nothing. It only compounds the problem.

Grace, at times, appeared to have a drinking problem. She turned to it often and I wished Levi would’ve called her on it. Not that he didn’t call her out regarding other things. Grace was scared — scared of feeling anything anymore after she lost key people in her life.

When life keeps dealing you a rotten hand, it is easy to fall into a self-hating role. Lets face it, Grace was a BITCH for quite a bit of this story. However, her actions were a mode of self-preservation. I saw that and Levi most definitely saw that too. That’s why he never gave up on her. It’s why he kept trying to bring some joy, laughter back into her life. Just wait until you read his texts during the conference. You’ll laugh out loud one minute and then say Oh baby the next. Levi was a sweet, sexy, dirty talking musician with a heart as big as his penis.

 

In summation…………

Lee Piper showed us the strength it takes to love someone who is broken and the mental struggle a person battles to just let it all go and live again. Not an easy task, as a real person or as a author writing about imaginary people. To have a reader actually feel a character’s emotions, feel their pain as your own is a challenging feat BUT Lee conquered this task.

Whether she was focusing on Levi’s past, Grace’s ghosts or delivering us some sizzlin’ sex scenes, the reader will not walk away emotionless. They’ll demand a happy ending and will be rewarded with one, too. Of course, it won’t happen until a little more drama occurs. Ah, such is life. Always an adventure!  😉 

On a final note: I love Dom (Levis’s brother) and Riley (Grace’s BFF). I can’t wait to find out what Riley was about to confess to Grace before they were interrupted. I just bet it’s a juicy secret!! Maybe they are doing the horizontal polka. 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤

 

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Lee Piper is a lover of books. She often juggles reading seven novels at a time for the sheer joy of it. At the grand old age of five, Lee Piper decided to become an author, however found a limited market for her unicorn stories. So, high school English teacher it was.

At thirty-two, and grieving the loss of her second miscarriage, Lee Piper turned to novels—Kylie Scott, to be precise—to escape the pain. This then inspired her to write Rock My World, the first in a four part contemporary romance series. Her debut manuscript reached the second round of the ARWA 2016 Emerald and became an Evernight Publishing bestseller within the first two weeks of publication.

Lee Piper lives in Adelaide, South Australia with her drummer husband, cheeky daughters, and one very crazy dog.

 

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Review of “Letting Go” – Cassandra Riley

Publisher: Mascot Books; 1 edition (August 18, 2016)

 

Jasmine Parks is a strong, no-fuss woman from the wrong side of the tracks. Benson Walsh is a fraternity brother who was raised in a life of privilege. After a chance encounter on the campus of William and Mary, their worlds collide as they start on a path that will forever change their destiny. When forces work to tear them apart, will their love be enough to help them let go of their pasts so that they can build a future?

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

For those who’ve went to college or are attending it now, you know those years are about discovering yourself, pursing your dream job or figuring out what your career should be, and sometimes stumbling upon the love of your life.

For Jasmine and Benson, they are in their senior year of college and also building a life together. They might not have been each other’s firsts but I have the feeling they’ll be each other’s lasts. In the short months they have been together, each has shown their true feelings, character, and all I see is two sensational, loving, giving people who deserve each other. Their backgrounds, upbringings might not be similar (poor woman, rich man) but their souls are undeniably alike…… pure and good.

And even though Tyler (psycho/jealous guy) and Deborah (Benson’s mom) tried to tear them apart, nothing was too difficult to overcome as long as they had one another. (FYI: Still surprised no one saw the warning signs Tyler was a few apples short of a full basket. He hid his evilness rather well but the “best” psychos usually do.) 

One last thing, Cassandra Riley wrote plenty of sweet and steamy love scenes. Various locations, some full of heat, some on the gentler side but all portrayed their love beautifully. However, the scene that stood out for me was the one where Benson wanted to sleep with Jasmine. No sex — just wanted to sleep next to her and wake up with her. That’s love, folks, and their story is just beginning.

 

 

Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

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Hello, my pen name is Cassandra Riley. My real name is Renee. I live in Yorktown Virginia with my husband and two children. I have been a teacher for 14 years. Two years ago I sat down and wrote what was to become my Coastal Love Trilogy. I have since completed two novellas and I am working on two more novels. Two of my works can be found on Kindle, Holding On (book 2) and Reflections (not really a romance).

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Author Showcase – Connie Chappell (Wild Raspberries) 📕

When Callie MacCallum sews her first quilt after the death of her lover Jack Sebring, she doesn’t realize she’ll be drawn into a Sebring family battle between wife and daughter-in-law. She simply wants to fulfill her promise to Jack to visit their cabin in the West Virginia mountains, where their long love affair was safely hidden. Instead, her emotionally reminiscent trip becomes crowded with the two Sebring women, a grief counselor, and the massive role Callie assumes. She must speak for Jack in order to protect his four-year old grandson Chad from his stubbornly manipulative and blame-passing grandmother and his recently widowed and power-usurping mother. Callie understands both women grieve the loss of Chad’s father. He died when a raging storm split the tree that crushed him. Grief isn’t the only common thread running between the four women. One by one, their secrets are revealed on the West Virginia mountaintop.

 

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~~ A scene from Wild Raspberries ~~

 

Out in the street, ten-year old Carson Tillman from next door rode his bike in circles, watching the proceedings.

            After loading Arnett’s things, Lizbeth slammed the cargo door. She turned to Beebe. “We’re ready,” she said.

            Beebe made an arm gesture that gathered Arnett, Lizbeth, and Callie into a line at the foot of the drive. Carson’s bike jumped the curb. He ground it to a stop nearby. The nosy boy might have thought the ladies were posing for a send-off photograph.

            A breeze kicked up Beebe’s crop of straw-colored hair so that it stood out from her head like a crayon drawing of the sun. She raised her right hand into oath-taking position, then used several upward gestures with her left to prompt the others to hoist their hands as well. Beebe recited a pledge, breaking it into five chunks, which the others repeated in unison.

            “I hereby swear an oath to honesty. From this point forward, I promise to provide fully factual information and will express my feelings earnestly and without reservation.”

            As all the hands dropped, Carson, a respectfully polite tattletale, his broad mouth gleaming with dental hardware, announced, “Miss Arnett had her fingers crossed.”

            Lizbeth’s mouth flew open. Her gaze jumped off the boy and landed on Arnett. “How could you?”

            In a teacher-to-student tone, Beebe said, “Show me your hands.” Arnett complied. “Do you swear to this honesty pledge?”

            “Yes, I swear.” Arnett glared at Carson. “Are you satisfied?”

            He shrugged and pedaled away.

  

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Chappell does a wondrous job allowing her words to speak for her characters, immersing the reader in scenes where dialogue would have typically done the trick.” ~~Maxy Awards

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Author Showcase – Cher Lane (Even Love)

For Mackenzie Barton Taylor, known to the world simply as Kiz, modeling is beginning to lose its luster. She keeps thinking about her home in Texas, the baby she left behind, the man she loved and married. No other man has ever touched her heart the way he did. It is time to go back. Therefore, when her model agency opens a branch in Dallas, Texas, she jumps at the opportunity to run it.

But can a girl who abandoned all for a star-studded career in the big city go home to the small town she was raised in and reclaim the man she loves and the baby she abandoned, now fully grown? Can she convince them that she is sorry, that she’ll give up her life as a supermodel to be with them? As her husband has divorce papers prepared, Mackenzie fights to save what was once hers.

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“I hate this stinky room. I hate this disgusting food. And I hate this ugly green hospital gown with no back in it,” Mackenzie Barton Taylor whined, a disgusted look on her perfect, young face.
 
Margaret Barton pulled her gaze away from the small bundle in her arms long enough to sympathize with her spoiled daughter. “Don’t worry, honey, I’ll get you out of here soon. In the meantime, eat your lunch. You need the strength.” Margaret eyed the food on her daughter’s tray and caught herself just in time from wrinkling her nose. She wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Mashed green beans and shredded turkey it looked like. Double yuck!
 
“I can’t eat that,” Mackenzie pouted. “Have you seen my body? My god, Mama, I’m fat! What am I going to do? The agency will never want me now,” she wailed, lying her head back on the pillow, she squeezed her eyes shut, hoping her figure would magically morph into her ‘before baby’ silhouette.
 
“You can and you will,” her mother said firmly. “I ordered a special, low fat diet for you. Within six weeks you’ll have your old figure back.” The baby cooed in Margaret’s arms. “Yes, that’s right,” she cooed back.
 
Mackenzie rolled her eyes at her mother’s obvious admiration for the infant. The baby was her infant, her daughter. A momentary feeling of jealousy struck her to the core. “She doesn’t know what you’re saying,” she scoffed.
 
“Yes her does,” Margaret insisted, making kissy noises with her  mouth as she gazed adoringly at the baby. Her first grandchild. Oh, my, that made her a grandma now. Not that she looked it. Margaret took impeccable care of her own self and had taught her daughter to do the same, just as she’d teach this little one in her arms. The women were beautiful. Not that the Barton men noticed, so the women had to keep telling themselves. “You’re beautiful, yes you are,” she crooned to the infant.
 
“Mama, let me hold my baby,” Mackenzie demanded. That got her mother’s attention. She smirked in satisfaction at Margaret’s expression of disbelief.
 
“I thought we agreed that it’d be best if you didn’t, honey,” Margaret protested.
 
“Why? Because I might change my mind and decide to stay?” Mackenzie asked belligerently. “Don’t worry, Mama, that won’t happen. I’m not going to be one of those young yay-hoo mother’s, pushing the stroller down the street and eating an ice cream cone, butt cheeks hanging out of too short short-shorts. Yes, I’ve seen ‘um,” she assured her mother, at her shocked expression. “You try to keep me away from that side of town, but I’ve driven through it. Me and Katina did one day. We wondered what happened to the girls who got pregnant and dropped out of school. Slumville, that’s where they go.”
 
“Katina and I,” Margaret corrected. “Well, good, then you understand why Josh must never know about this baby,” she declared triumphantly. “He might insist on keeping you here. The boy can’t support himself, let alone you and a child. You’d be just like those yay-hoo girls.”
 
“No, I wouldn’t,” Mackenzie protested. “You and Daddy would take care of us. Wouldn’t you?” She loved taunting her mother and making her re-avow her maternal love.
 
“Mackenzie,” her mother said in a threatening tone. “Behave.”
 
“Ow! Mama,” Mackenzie complained, trying to shift to a more comfortable position in the bed. “Why did you let this happen to me? Huh?”
 
“Don’t put the blame on me, missy. I’m not the one who went out her window at night to go fuck that no good Josh Taylor,” Margaret admonished.
 
“Mama, how can you say that word?” Mackenzie asked, astonished. “You’d wash my mouth out with soap if I said it.” “Yes I would,” Margaret agreed, “so don’t even think about repeating it.”
 
“Don’t worry, Mama, it’ll be a long time before I can fuck anybody again,” she groaned, turning over on her side. “I’m not even sure I’ll want to, after going through this.”
 
“Mackenzie,” Margaret warned, giving her daughter the evil eye.
 
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, Mama. Now go ahead, wash my mouth out with soap. It’ll take my mind off the pain in my ass,” Mackenzie taunted.
 
“Mackenzie Page Barton,” Margaret threatened, “just wait until I tell your Father.”
 
“Taylor, Mama. You forgot Taylor. I’m Mackenzie Page Barton Taylor now and I’m not afraid of Daddy. He’s not around enough for you to tell him anything,” she scoffed. “Now hand me my baby.”
 

 

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Cher Lane lives in Texas with her husband, four cats and a dog. She has three sons and one daughter, two step daughters, 15 grandchildren, and five step grandchildren. When she’s not writing, she enjoys working out, going for walks, swimming, sewing and cooking.
 

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Review of “Proper Goodbye” – Connie Chappell

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Beebe Walker’s life changes when she learns about a secret buried in her father’s cemetery. The secret revolves around the burial of a homeless woman and, eventually, draws her home to Larkspur, Michigan, to renew a relationship with her father, Cliff.

Months earlier, Cliff stood back from that sparsely attended funeral, unaware the woman’s passing made him a widower. Cliff, devoted caretaker of the cemetery, doesn’t know he’s tending to his wife’s grave. Beebe must find a way to tell her father that the homeless woman was misidentified. In reality, she was the wife and mother who abandoned them decades before.

Oddly enough, the first person Beebe meets upon her return is a young man who’s new in town. Yates Strand is also chasing the secret behind the homeless woman. He has another story to tell.

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

Death, no matter how it happens, takes a toll on the living. It can bring people together or tear them apart. In the case of Abigail (also known as Terri), it helped reunite a father and daughter. Two people who were harboring a lot of anger and hurt, all centering around the abandonment of a wife and mother.

Abigail/Terri, like most of us,  made some bad decisions in her life. In her case, she lost her family, job, respect, and her body to AIDS. However, despite her mistakes, she was a good person. She used her nursing skills to save lives. Unfortunately, through a chain of events, she couldn’t be there for her family. An accident, painkillers, drug addiction and trouble with the law led to the loss of her loved ones.

For three decades, Cliff and Beebe had no clue if she was alive or dead. When you are faced with that question, you hold onto hope. When you finally get the answer, you must then face your true emotions and deal with them accordingly.

I can’t imagine living in this type of limbo or the aftermath of such an event.  Connie Chappell illustrated beautifully the pains, the internal battle people face in this type of predicament. She made a dark, dismal story come to life. After I read Proper Goodbye, I immediately hugged my family. I imagine you will too. 

 

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Heart Rating System:

1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤

 

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Connie Chappell is a bestselling author of both literary fiction and cozy mysteries. Proper Goodbye, the long-awaited standalone sequel to her debut novel, Wild Raspberries, is now available for purchase. In Proper Goodbye, Beebe Walker’s life changes when she learns about a secret buried in her father’s cemetery. The secret revolves around the burial of a homeless woman and eventually draws her home to Larkspur, Michigan, to renew a relationship with her father.

Connie’s other books, Wild Raspberries and Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont, were awarded the 5-Star Readers’ Favorite distinction. Two additional awards were received by Connie and Wild Raspberries in 2016: the Maxy Award for Best Literary Fiction and the Readers’ Favorite Book Award for Women’s Fiction.

In Deadly Homecoming at Rosemont, historian-for-hire Wrenn Grayson solves a double mystery in her hometown of Havens, Ohio. A murder, coupled with a theft, pulls her away from her duties for Mayor K.C. Tallmadge and her after-hours job of writing historical articles for the local newspaper. Wrenn’s knowledge of hometown history, specifically the old train station, plays into this mystery. Connie’s inspiration behind the inclusion of a Havens train station extends from her hometown, Springfield, Ohio. A postcard and short history of the Big Four train station are uploaded to this profile. A second Wrenn Grayson mystery has been hatched, so stay tuned.

Wild Raspberries, released in April, 2015, is especially dear because memory quilts are stitched to it. Photos of the memory quilt Connie sewed are uploaded to this profile. Like hers, the memory quilts described in Wild Raspberries were sewn with squares cut from favorite clothing a loved one wore in life. The quilts tell a life story, and through them, the reader meets the loved ones the women in Wild Raspberries have lost.

Connie’s novels are published by Black Rose Writing.

Learn more about Connie and her novels on her author webpage: www.conniechappell.com. Reviews of her books are there as well, so take some time and look around. In addition, she’s written several short stories—all ready for viewing on her website. Also available are a host of interesting podcasts.

Connie is a lifelong resident of Springfield, Ohio, where she serves its citizens from her office in City Hall. She also produces videos about Springfield, government projects, and community events for the local government-access channel. She devotes as much of her free time as possible to anything out-of-doors. Flowerbeds, golf, walking, and riding her bicycle are particular favorites.

 

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Review of “The Trouble with Mistletoe: A Heartbreaker Bay Novel” – Jill Shalvis

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If she has her way . . .

Willa Davis is wrangling puppies when Keane Winters stalks into her pet shop with frustration in his chocolate-brown eyes and a pink bedazzled cat carrier in his hand. He needs a kitty sitter, stat. But the last thing Willa needs is to rescue a guy who doesn’t even remember her . . .

He’ll get nothing but coal in his stocking.

Saddled with his great-aunt’s Feline from Hell, Keane is desperate to leave her in someone else’s capable hands. But in spite of the fact that he’s sure he’s never seen the drop-dead-gorgeous pet shop owner before, she seems to be mad at him . . .

Unless he tempers “naughty” with a special kind of nice . . .

Willa can’t deny that Keane’s changed since high school: he’s less arrogant, for one thing—but can she trust him not to break her heart again? It’s time to throw a coin in the fountain, make a Christmas wish—and let the mistletoe do its work . . .

 

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Hardcover Purchase Link

 

 

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I’m a uber fan of romantic comedies because I love to laugh and I adore happily ever afters.

In “The Trouble with Mistletoe”, readers will laugh over the woes Keane faces with Pita; his (Pain In The Ass) aunt’s (turned his) cat. It’s a love-hate relationship but they do reach a point where she retracts her claws and allows him into her kitty heart. Someone else also allows him to enter their heart –Willa.

Willa had many walls put up, but thankfully Keane’s tearing down skills don’t just apply to his house-flipping business.  With a little love and a WHOLE LOT OF PATIENCE, he helped her see they were perfect together. Pita, too.  😀 

Really, how could she not let this man in…..all the way in! He’s hardworking, smart, handsome, takes care of his family, friends, and loves Frosted Flakes for supper. Come on, he’s the total package.

And Willa? She would do absolutely anything and everything for those who matter to her. Even Eddie, the homeless man living in her alley, was a recipient of her kindness. She decorated his “home” with Christmas lights. She brought him food. She’d take him into her home, if he actually would accept the offer.

Two generous, loving people finding love on the holidays. What could make a better Christmas story than that?!

 

Heart Rating System – 1 (lowest) and 5 (highest) 

Score: ❤❤❤❤1/2

 

Paperback Print Link

Kindle Purchase Link

Hardcover Purchase Link

 

 

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

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Author Showcase – Carol Rose (Swaggered)

Before you get a peak at Swaggered (Blue Collar Boys, Book 3), please read the special note from Carol Rose to all of you. 

 

An Audacious Romance Hero

 

I know this isn’t true for everyone, but I find audacious, teasing, funny heroes sexy. I like men who make me laugh. My beloved (of too many years to mention) has this ability and he has said that he thinks this is why I’m with him. He’s not totally wrong. The man is hot, but so engaging and playful that I’ve always had a thing for him.

            My hero in Swaggered(Blue Collar Boys, Book 3) has this ability and when he initially came to me he was as charming as George Clooney, only a tad younger. Of all the three brothers who do architectural salvage together, Tyler Thompson has the murkiest background and some of the darkest fears. He was abandoned by his biological father and drug-using mother and lovingly adopted into the Thompson clan as a teenager.

            His is perhaps the strangest path to happiness in that he’s drawn into a sudden marriage by a woman he’s long had a yen for. Amanda Sinclair has directed the office at his family’s Scruffy Boys Architectural Salvage yard for several years, but she’s always been cautious of flashy, outgoing womanizer Tyler. When she marries him in a weakened, unbeknownst-to-him-drunken state, they end up having to deal with each other in ways she’d never have expected.

            I loved writing the Blue Collar Boys heroes because I’ve always had a thing for men who work with their hands, as well as, their heads. This may appear strange because both my beloved and I are therapists who have advanced degrees. Seems like we’d just be good with working with our heads, but I fell for him when we worked side-by-side on physical projects as teens.

            He’s really good with his hands…if you know what I mean.

            Check out Swaggered(Blue Collar Boys, Bk 3). I hope you love it as much as I do.

 
 
 
 
 
 
CHAPTER ONE
 

Tyler woke slowly, swimming up from unconsciousness, aware of sunlight from somewhere, playing against his closed eyelids. He never woke up well and he’d learned to let it happen in increments. As he surfaced against the heaviness pulling him back to sleep, he became conscious of a comfortable bed under him and the warm pressure of—

A soft shriek close to his left ear, swiftly followed by a gasp, snapped his eyes open. He was always blurry at this point, but he immediately recognized a few things. He was in a barely-familiar hotel room…in Las Vegas, he thought, for his brother Noah’s wedding to Natalie…and a very warm and sexy Amanda was in bed with him.

A very naked, sexy and agitated Amanda was in bed beside him, now holding a sheet clutched to her beautiful chest like a shield.

“Oh. My. God! Tyler, wake up!” Her brown eyes squinted against the light.

“I’m awake. I’m awake.” He struggled to pull himself upright against the pillow, blinking as his brain waves shifted.

“Tyler!” Amanda moved on the bed next to him, bouncing the mattress.

He stuck out a hand. “Can you just sit still for a moment and stop yelling, so I can wake up?”

“No!” She did say this in a more moderate tone, however, bending to cradle her tousled head in her hands, her shoulder-length brown hair sticking out in odd directions. “What are we doing here? Oh-my-god, oh-my-god. My head is killing me and I think I’m going to be sick.”

Looking around his side of the bed, Tyler found a waste basket. “Here. Use this.”

“Are you crazy?” she moaned, throwing her legs off the bed, the sheet still clutched to her chest. “I’m not throwing up right here in front of you. I need the bathroom.”

Coming more fully awake, Tyler couldn’t help grinning. “If you’re planning on taking that sheet with you, you should be aware that I think I’m naked under here. You might get to see my morning glory, if you get what I mean.”

Amanda shrieked again softly, throwing her hand up to blinker one side of her vision as she continued climbing out of the king-sized bed. “Don’t come over here!”

“I’m not going anywhere.” He tucked his hands behind his head. “Take the sheet if you want it.”

Suddenly, she stopped tugging at the sheet and stood next to the bed with her right hand shielding her eyes from seeing him and her left hand lifted in front of her. She seemed frozen.

In a jerky movement, she stuck her left hand out in front of him, turning to glare at Tyler. “Tell me what’s on this hand. There is—there is a ring on my finger! Look at this!”

“Yes.” He blinked, still trying to clear the sleep fog from his brain. “Yes, there is.”

Tyler couldn’t help grinning.

“Looks like a wedding ring to me, Honey.” Reaching out, he rolled forward on the bed to take her outstretched hand in his as much for the contact as anything else, he studied the rock on her third finger. “Nice one, too.”

“A ring with a huge rock!”

He looked down at the ring. “I don’t know. I don’t think it looks over-sized. It’s what? About two carats?”

“What!” She looked at him in shock, snatching back her left hand.  

“Tyler! I. Am. Not. Married!” she shrieked and then cringed, holding her head, saying in a whisper, “At least I wasn’t yesterday.”

He shoved his hand behind the wrinkled sheets. If she’d noticed, he wore a matching band on his finger. “Looks like you are now.”

Tyler met her stricken gaze, his stomach plummeting at the look in her fine brown eyes as apparently the reality of their actions sunk in. In that moment, he knew Amanda didn’t feel as excited as he did about their marriage. Even the $15,000 ring didn’t brighten her eyes.

She clutched her midsection then and started dragging again at the sheet. With awkward moments that were hampered by her trying to pull the tucked-in sheet from under the cover on the bed, she lurched backwards. Finally, she wheeled around awkwardly, the sheet winding around her delicious body.

“Girl—“ He cleared his throat. “Girl, just go to the bathroom. You don’t have anything that I haven’t seen.” That one stricken look on her face told him the road was rocky ahead and he knew better than to say how recently he’d seen the gorgeous curves under her sheet.

Just then, Amanda moaned again, stumbling back a few steps as the sheet came free. Turning she ran to the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her.

Trying to ignore her retching sounds like a gentleman, Tyler got off the bed and started searching for his clothes. He didn’t think she wanted to come out to find him sprawled naked on the bed. Despite her clear distress at the wedding ring on her finger, he grinned at the thought of it. Set up identical to the one he’d checked into two days ago, this was Amanda’s room. He hadn’t been wasted when they headed back here for fun time and her stuff was scattered around the room.

In a far corner, he found his boxers, while his jeans had ended up straddling a chair by the table.

After pulling on his jeans, he went over to the closed bathroom door. Leaning in, he thought he heard her sniffling. “Amanda, honey. Are you okay?”

The bathroom door opened rapidly and he straightened, unable to stop the smile that spread across his face. Even like this, hungover with her hair messy, he loved waking up to Amanda.

“No,” she snapped, her brown eyes bloodshot and damp. “I feel like hell. Is there some water out there? My mouth is dry and my head is pounding.”

“Sure. Let me get you some.” He went over to the mini-fridge, pulling out a bottle of water.

Having staggered out of the bathroom with the sheet still wrapped around her like a toga, Amanda sank down on the foot of the bed. She took the bottle he handed her, cracking it open and taking a swallow.

Tyler stood watching her, not sure what came next.

Heaving a shuddering breath, she met his gaze like a woman facing up to her mistakes. “Did we, uh, spend the night together? I remember–”

Knowing the road ahead would probably be rocky, he squatted down next to her. “Yes. Yes, we did.”

Amanda closed her eyes as if to gather herself. “I don’t remember…everything, but…this wasn’t a platonic sleepover, was it?”

“No. It wasn’t.” It didn’t do much for a man’s ego that she seemed so shattered by the fact.

Opening her eyes, she started slowly shaking her head. “I wasted my college years. I spent all my time studying and working.”

He couldn’t help smiling at this. “What? Why?”

“If I’d partied more, I would have built up more of a tolerance to handle alcohol.” Amanda stared ahead of her, her face locked in self-recrimination.

He lifted his head to her accusing glare, volunteering, “There’s a marriage license over on the table.”

Her head snapped in the direction of the table and she gulped in air. “No. Oh, no.”

Leaning forward, Tyler looked at her in concern. “Amanda?”

“Who’s…? Who does it say I married?”

Standing up, he went over to the table, lifting the stiff legal document decorated with elaborate printed flowers. Tyler turned back to her, knowing his disappointment and hurt probably showed on his face. “You really don’t remember?”

“Just tell me!” She wailed softly, her hand bracing her head as if she thought it might fall off.

“You know who. Me, Amanda. You married me. We are…married.” It had been pretty much one of the best nights of his life, but he clearly couldn’t say that to her at this moment.

Jumping up, she clutched at her stomach again, wailing, “This can’t be happening! I can’t—we can’t— I need to—“

Watching in concern, he saw her lunge again toward the rest room in her makeshift toga, pausing only to snag her purse from the low chest that held a television.

Tyler watched her. “Honey, are you hyper-ventilating? Do you need a paper bag to breathe into?”

Slamming the bathroom door behind her, Amanda reached over to turn on the sink faucet, letting the water rush out to cover any noise before she knelt on the cold tile floor in front of the toilet and retched into the ceramic bowl, fumbling in a frenzy to raise the seat. In a few moments, she lay back on the hard floor, promising heaven she’d never over-drink again. When she could think again—her stomach no longer wrenching inside her for the moment—she groped for her abandoned purse and gingerly fished out her phone.

She’d never done such a stupid, insane thing in her life. Married! And to a sexy, hot, man-whore like Tyler?! What was wrong with her? Why did she keep getting with men who couldn’t be faithful to one woman? After the last debacle, she’d promised herself she’d pick a better man next time. A man who knew not to drop his pants for every woman he met. Not a guy like Tyler.

Fumbling to find the phone icon, she scrolled past her brother’s number and those of her parents, shuddering at the thought of confessing this to her family—God, she’d not only gotten blind drunk, but when in that condition, she’d apparently married a sexed up, hotter-than-a-man-should-be, outright dog.

Tyler. Random snatches of memory floated into her brain then—the two of them lost in panting, straining…terrific sex. Amanda closed her eyes in shame, the memories spilling through her head. She’d ridden him like the stallion he resembled. And she’d really, really…really enjoyed doing it.

After years of giving him hell for sleeping with everyone from a college professor to a woman he’d met at a convenience store, she’d let herself get into the condition where she’d actually married him. Not just had sex with him, which would have been more acceptable considering the sex dreams she’d had about him before.

And he’d certainly lived up to those…

 
 
 

 

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