Friday, June 30, 2017

Book Blitz and Excerpt: The Fix by Lisa Herrington



Contemporary Romance
Date Published: May 30, 2017

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The lake town of Maisonville was better known as Renaissance Lake and most who moved there were looking to begin again.

Sydney Bell was no exception. Recovering from a divorce she needed to pick up the pieces of her life and start over.

Unfortunately, in her new town the handsome Ryan Gentry next door and Sydney are already butting heads.

When the real reason she moved to the lake is revealed, she’s reminded that a small town can heal your soul, sparring with an arrogant neighbor can build self-esteem, and true friendship has the ability to make you a better person.


EXCERPT

RYAN GENTRY SLOWLY DROVE the winding road   around Maison-Lafitte Lake, taking in the cypress trees and live oaks that shaded the drive. These trees, with their knobby roots, called knees, and the ones with large winding branches, gave the area character and helped set the small water town apart from other vacation destinations nearby.

The small town of Maisonville had virtually gone unnoticed until the late sixties when a group of young professionals from the city started buying property and settling their wives and children there for the summer months. Some remodeled old homes, but many tore down existing structures and built houses to fit their needs.

It was then that Maisonville had its largest population, and covenants were quickly established to keep the town from growing any larger.  Currently, there were four hundred permanent residents, many who spent their childhood vacations at the lake and then later brought their children for the summer months. The town was enjoying a sort of renaissance.

A large group of retirees lived there year round, and they were a social group, getting together as often as possible, which gave a boost to the downtown shops and restaurant. Most the retirees used the nickname Renaissance Lake for the area because living there felt like a new beginning. Things had never looked better as they refurbished their homes and spent endless hours perfecting their lawns and flower beds.

It was turning into a retirement haven, but that quaint and peaceful town also lured young adults looking for the same type of paradise, which was why Ryan Gentry called it home. Unlike other towns in the area and the large city on the other side of the lake, Maisonville only opened itself up by hosting a few distinct festivals and by allowing rentals exclusively during the months of June and July.

Maisonville was a beloved area, and outsiders were always curious to get a peek inside the extraordinary town.

It was rare for homes to be sold because they were passed down to family members or relatives of friends. Therefore, property was usually at a premium with newer homes and condominiums on the east side of town and older homes in need of restoration on the west side, split in half by a perfect little downtown. Running north and south was the large lake and the famous bridge that ran twenty miles over water into the bright lights of the city.

Ryan lived and worked on the west side of town.  He owned a small company that specialized in old home rehabilitation, and after repairing a few places for others, he began slowly acquiring homes himself. He was becoming well known in town for single-handedly rebuilding Westside, the name given to the area by locals.

He loved Westside and spent most of his vacations there as a kid with his sister and their Uncle.  They swam and played water sports all summer long, and he’d hoped he would end up living here.

He was especially happy at the moment because he’d finally talked the owner of his favorite property into selling to him. Tracey McHenry had inherited the large white house at the bend of the lake thirty years ago, but he left Louisiana after college to live in Maine and never returned. He swore he couldn’t take the heat, but he wouldn’t budge on the property until Ryan kept at him.

Ryan sent pictures of the pier falling into the water along with the vines that had overtaken the solarium. It was one of the oldest homes in town, and he dreamed of restoring it to its original stature. He couldn’t believe it was finally going to be his.

Well, it would be his when he sold his latest project house so that he could afford the steep asking price. He couldn’t wait to see the look on his sister’s face when he told her.  Reagan had encouraged him to start his own company and had invested a considerable amount to get him started. He was excited to pay her investment off, several months ago, but understood his working capital was strapped until he sold another property. He needed a buyer to fall out of the sky that week so he could buy the house.

He was in the middle of the steepest curve around the lake when he suddenly slammed on his brakes to avoid hitting a car that had stopped on the road. It was late afternoon, and with the tree cover, the old beige colored Subaru wagon was difficult to see. He quickly turned on his flashers and ran back behind his truck to throw down three orange cones and a flashing light.

Damn tourists were going to get someone killed with their site-seeing.

“What the hell are you doing, stopped here in the middle of the road?” he yelled, trying to locate the driver.

“Just looking around,” said a woman standing on the other side of the car.

“A ninety-degree turn is a great spot to stop your car. I almost hit you,” he said sarcastically as he rounded the car to see a pretty redhead wearing a sleeveless blue sundress and sandals. She was peering over the slight drop off at the edge of the road. When she turned around, he could see she had black marks on her forehead and cheek where she must have wiped her dirty hands.

She blinked her brown eyes several times, and he immediately could see she was trying not to cry. He then noticed she had a flat tire and when he looked over the side of the road, he could see her spare tire had somehow rolled down the steep hill several feet.

“Stay here. I’ll be right back,” Ryan said and jumped down the incline to rescue her roll away spare. Without talking to her, he returned and began to change the tire.

“Thank you, but I know how to change a tire,” she said, and he stopped and stared at her. She stepped toward him, and he held up his hand.

“I got it,” he said.

He had it done in ten minutes and then when he lowered the car with the jack, her spare went flat, too. He shook his head and walked back to his truck to get an air compressor. “When you have your oil changed, you should always have them check the spare tire for air.”

“I just bought it, okay?”

“The tire?”

“The car, genius.”

He looked at her and then at the car. He may not be a genius, but they didn’t match. She was wearing sandals that cost a fortune, and there was a purse on the seat of her car that cost more than the car. He knew because Reagan had the same bag and brand of shoes.

He held his hands up and then nodded at her. “You’re good to go now. I wouldn’t drive too far on that spare. It looks pretty old.”

She avoided his eyes but nodded as she headed for the driver’s door. She whispered “Thanks” before she got in and sped off.

City girl.

He hated the city.


***


Sydney Bell hurried into the driveway of the small real estate office. It was just off the downtown area, and she was thankful it was easy to find. She shook her head and wiped the black soot off her face and hands. Of course, she would have a flat tire since she was already running late for the real estate agent.

Houses here didn’t last long, and she knew she might not get another chance for a place here for quite some time. Four months ago there had been a condo on the lake that went up for sale, but there was a bidding war, and she lost out to another buyer.

The house she was seeing today wasn’t on the market officially—yet. She’d been driving around the area and stopped in at a small diner for some coffee and overheard a waitress there talking about it. She didn’t care what it looked like but hoped she could afford it. She desperately needed out of the city and hoped to find a place in Maisonville. She’d sold her late father’s house and then her luxury car, the only thing she got in the divorce, and was ready. 

Now she just needed to talk these people into selling to her.

She smoothed down her dress and plastered a smile on her face as she walked into the office to meet Will Fontenot.

It didn’t take long for her to win Will over. He was a nice older man and a sucker for a pretty face with a sob story. She’d told him that her father had passed away before he was able to retire in Maisonville, but it had always been his dream.

She was going to hell for lying and for using her dead father as a reason to earn sympathy. Then again, she was desperate and if she could have asked her father, she was certain he would have given her permission to do it.

She wiped her eyes lightly with a tissue as Will drove her around the lake and toward Oak Cove. “I know the owner personally. His uncle and I were best friends, and I’m certain he would approve of you,” Will said, making her smile.

The drive on the west side of the lake was mesmerizing. It was curvy like the other side, but the road was closer to the water. A canopy of beautiful trees with moss shaded the area while the rippling water sparkled nearby.

Will appeared just as excited to show Sydney the house as she was to see it.

“You should have seen the place before it was redone. It hadn’t been lived in for over twenty years, and had the same d├ęcor that it did when it was built in the early fifties,” Will explained, talking the entire way over to the house.

Sydney was getting nervous as she listened to him talk about how old the property was and how terrible it looked. She wasn’t sure she would be able to afford the place already, but if she had to hire someone to do repairs, she would be in a lot more trouble.

They pulled onto the street, and she noticed a giant tree growing right in the middle of where the road should be, but instead, the road adjusted around it. Then at the end of the street, there was a circle, with two houses side by side. There was plenty of land on either side of the houses for more homes, but there were perfectly spaced trees everywhere.  There was also a fountain on one side, and the grounds were enclosed by a white picket fence. It looked like a private park. She wrung her hands as she realized both of the houses looked very nice and really expensive.

“Are you sure that’s it?” Sydney asked as they pulled into the driveway on the left.

Will looked disappointed. “You don’t like it?”

“It’s beautiful, Mr. Fontenot. I just don’t think I can afford this place,” she said.

“The porches and garage make it look bigger. Come on. You’ll see. Besides, we can make a lower offer. You never know.”

Will turned off his car, and she followed behind him as he went to the front door and opened it. She paused to look at the details of the porch. It was beautiful. Someone had taken their time and hadn’t pinched pennies there. The spindles were painted white while the hand railing had been rubbed in a black stain to match the wide boards on the decking. It was stunning against the white house.

When she stepped inside, there was a small mud room with shelves to the left and a bench underneath. She slipped off her sandals and followed behind Will. Immediately, she noticed the open floor plan. She was standing in the kitchen but could see the dining room, then the living room, and large glass doors that looked out onto a beautiful deck, pier and the lake.

No way could she afford that house.

She exhaled and then bit her lip so she wouldn’t cry. All the time she spent worrying about the house selling too fast before she got there or it being in complete disrepair was a waste.  She should have known that it would be out of her league. Most people wanted to live there. It’s why Drake insisted they spend their summer vacations at Maison-Lafitte Lake: it was expensive and exclusive.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Fontenot. I’ve wasted your time,” she said, walking toward the front door.

He gently held out his hand to stop her. “Don’t you want to see the upstairs or go out on the back porch? It has an amazing view of the lake.” He smiled at her and gently led her to the staircase. “The owner is motivated and wants to sell this quickly.”

Sydney nodded and walked upstairs to see the spare bedroom with bathroom, laundry room and then the master bedroom with an attached bath. There was a smaller version of the downstairs glass doors on one side of the master bedroom, and it led out to a wide second story balcony.

Without speaking, she looked at the closets and checked out the attic, knowing the house was too much for her.

When they walked back downstairs, she followed Will out onto the deck and then pier and looked over to see the large boathouse next door. The house was for families, and she didn’t have one of those anymore. She wiped her eyes with tissue again, and this time the tears were for real. She turned her head so Will wouldn’t see her and was startled when he spoke standing closely behind her.

“Come now, Miss Bell. Let me go inside and make a call.”

She nodded and then watched as Will walked inside already on the phone with someone. He was gone for thirty minutes, and Sydney sat on the end of the pier with her feet hanging over the water. It was a beautiful place. If her boys could be here, they would already be in the lake, swimming and laughing. She wiped her face quickly and swallowed back the emotion. She shouldn’t have tears left, but she did. She had to toughen up and make a go of things. She was on her own. It was time. She had a plan, and she would find a way to make it happen. 

She heard Will clear his throat, and she jumped up to meet him at the glass door. He had a strange look on his face, and she couldn’t tell if he was angry or sad. Something was wrong.

“You okay, Mr. Fontenot?” she asked, nervously.

He slapped a smile on his face and nodded at her. “He’s a hard-headed bastard.”

“The owner?” Sydney asked.

Will kept grinning, but she knew he was mad. “Yes. He’s home but won’t come meet you. He said to send him an offer.”

“Is that bad?”

“He does usually meet the prospective buyers, but don’t let that get to you. We’ll go straight to my office and see how eager he is to sell.”

About the Author

Lisa Herrington is a Women’s Fiction and YA novelist, blogger and speaker. A former medical sales rep, she currently manages the largest Meet-Up writing group in the New Orleans area, The Bayou Writer’s Club. She was born and raised in Louisiana, attended college at Ole Miss in Oxford, Mississippi and accepts that in New Orleans we never hide our crazy but instead parade it around on the front porch and give it a cocktail. It’s certainly why she has so many stories to tell today. When she’s not writing, and spending time with her husband and three children, she spends time reading, watching old movies or planning something new and exciting with her writer’s group.

Connect with Lisa, find out about new releases, and get free books at lisaherrington.com

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Free Anthology: Hall of Heroes from the Fellowship of Fantasy



a thrilling collection of 27 tales featuring heroes, heroines, and villains!

Trad Tuesday: Oh Rowan Tree sung by John McDermott



The Rowan tree belongs to the fairy folk in Irish and Scottish folklore. In many places in the British Isles, they are protected; roads have been moved so as not to cut down a rowan tree.

This song is a traditional Scottish song sung here by the famous Scottish singer, John McDermott.

The Rowan Tree


Oh! Rowan Tree Oh! Rowan Tree!
Thou'lt aye be dear to me,
Entwined thou art wi mony ties,
O' hame and infancy.
Thy leaves were aye the first o' spring,
Thy flow'rs the simmer's pride;
There was nae sic a bonny tree
In a' the countrieside
    Oh! Rowan tree!
How fair wert thou in simmer time,
Wi' a' thy clusters white
How rich and gay thy autumn dress,
Wi' berries red and bright.
On thy fair stem were many names,
Which now nae mair I see,
But they're engraven on my heart.
Forgot they ne'er can be!
    Oh! Rowan tree!
We sat aneath thy spreading shade,
The bairnies round thee ran,
They pu'd thy bonny berries red,
And necklaces they strang.
My Mother! Oh, I see her still,
She smil'd oor sports to see,
Wi' little Jeanie on her lap,
And Jamie at her knee!
    Oh! Rowan tree!
Oh! there arose my Father's pray'r,
In holy evening's calm,
How sweet was then my Mither's voice,
In the Martyr's psalm;
Now a' are gane! we meet nae mair
Aneath the Rowan Tree;
But hallowed thoughts around thee twine
O' hame and infancy.
    Oh! Rowan tree!
Meaning of unusual words:
simmer=summer
sic=such
bairnies=children
gane=gone

Monday, June 26, 2017

Book Tour & Giveaway: Warrior of Fire by Shona Husk


WARRIOR OF FIRE
by Shona Husk
Genre: Paranormal Romance 

Pub Date: 6/20/17


Is theirs a love match?
For Leira Venn, her future is a given foretold by the oracle of the Albah, the ancient people she was born to. Which is why she knows from the moment she meets Dr. Julian Ryder that he is fated to be hers. But nothing else about the prophecy feels right. For the handsome doctor is shrouded by darkness, and intimately involved with a woman who seems intent on killing Leira …
Or a death wish?
Sorrow has shadowed Julian Ryder for as long as he can remember. But from the moment he meets lovely Leira, his heart is filled with hope for the future—a future that is as combustible as the powerful attraction between them. For Leira is marked for death by the very forces who killed his mother. The very darkness that stole everything he held most dear. Only this time, Julian is stronger, more in control of his powers than ever. But will it be enough to save Leira from those who would destroy her?



Shona Husk lives in Western Australia at the edge of the Indian Ocean. Blessed with a lively imagination she spent most of her childhood making up stories. As an adult she discovered romance novels and hasn’t looked back. With over forty published stories, ranging from sensual to scorching, she writes contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, and sci-fi romance.



Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!




Friday, June 23, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Earl Most Likely by Jane Goodger

THE EARL MOST LIKELY
by Jane Goodger
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub. Date: 1/16/2018
The picturesque seaside town of St. Ives is home to all manner of treasures . . .
It’s not every day a young woman is offered ten thousand pounds for a few month’s work—especially the plain, shy daughter of a tin mine owner. The only thing special about Harriet Anderson is her extraordinary memory for even the smallest, most obscure detail. So when she’s asked by a gentleman to help restore his once magnificent ancestral home, she simply can’t refuse, no matter how scandalous the position. The money will mean freedom from her callous parents, and a life of independence. Harriet doesn’t imagine dreaming of anything more . . .
Augustus Lawton, Lord Berkley, cares about only one thing: restoring his beloved Costille House to its former, historically correct, glory. His late wife had taken great vindictive delight in transforming the old castle into a modern Victorian nightmare. Harriet’s remarkable memory will be invaluable in repairing it—and in helping him solve his wife’s murder. Yet as they work together, Augustus finds that besides her uncanny gift, Harriet possesses other priceless qualities. And as the castle’s beauty is gradually revealed, he can’t help noticing, so is hers . . .
Jane Goodger lives in Rhode Island with her husband and three children. Jane, a former journalist, has written seven historical romances. When she isn’t writing, she’s reading, walking, playing with her kids, or anything else completely unrelated to cleaning a house.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Book Review: Tilly's Troubles: The Days of the Dead Day Two by J.R. McKinlay

This is the second book in The Days of the Dead series. Tilly and Amber are on Secundas Terra, the parallel world where Amber and her family live. Abeo, Tilly's familiar, has been severely injured, and Tilly and Amber must cross the city to find a potion to cure him. They are still searching for Tilly's mother and find the Reverend and the Doctor who help them in their quest. The girls also meet many new friends as they try to escape their enemies.
This is a perfect series for young teens who like Harry Potter. It is told by an omniscient narrator who interjects much wry humor into the story in many asides. After being told to fill out Form BP4372A we get this bit: ((Form BP4372A grants children the right to suspend their Parents' parental rights until they turn seventeen and form BP4372B grants the parent the right to send their child to boot camp until they turn seventeen. After which it is up to them to sort their problems out.)) 
The book ends on a cliffhanger. I can't wait to see what happens with Day Three of Tilly's Troubles.



New Release and Book Review: On the Edge of Death by Ciara Ballintyne

EPIC FANTASY
Date Published: 22 April 2017
Publisher: Evolved publishing

All the Left Hand of Death wants is something to call her own, but is the price too high?
Ellaeva, the fated avatar of the death goddess, is desperate to track down her missing family but the trail is decades old. Instead, she discovers her battered and bloodied sister priestesses driven across the Jerreki border on pain of death. Ellaeva must turn aside from her personal quest to investigate the murders, only to find her parents have been taken into the heart of the conflict.
Lyram Aharris, favoured son of the royal line of Ahlleyn, is the only living person she trusts to help her infiltrate the enemy stronghold and uproot the horror they find there, but their chequered past threatens the mission. Accompanying him is his crown prince, the one man Lyram wants dead above all others.
Now Ellaeva must face down the darkness in her soul before a dark god is brought into the world.
At the boundary of life and death, all oaths will be tested. 

Review:

Ellaeva, the battle priestess, is on a quest to enter Jerreki, a land where the rulers have been killing and driving out her fellow priestesses. Turned back at the border, she asks the king of Ahlleyn to send her in secret as part of an embassy that includes Lyram Aharris, a man from her past as well as the hated Prince Drault and the Duchess Narrawen. What they find in Jerreki is unspeakable evil, and Ellaeva and Lyram must put duty and justice above love in order to prevail.
This is the second book in The Sundered Oath series. I didn't read the first book, though I intend to remedy that omission, I felt I picked up the story and the characters very easily. The author weaves the backstory into the narrative seamlessly, no data dump here. In fact, the writing is quite brilliant; the descriptions give an excellent description of the world and people while not being overly verbose. There's a lot of battle scenes and fighting which I sometimes get bored with, but they drew me in, and I could almost see each parry and thrust. Drault is a wonderful villain, not over the top, but still capable of great evil. Narrawen's character is more subtle, but I disliked her just as much as Drault by the end of the book. And neither of them is the true enemy.

Ellaeva and Lyram are heroes in the true sense of the word. Both have lost much and want so much more, but let the needs of others and their own senses of duty override their love. I can't wait for the next book in this series and I will definitely find some more of Ms. Ballintyne's books. A truly great fantasy series.  




Ciara Ballintyne grew up on a steady diet of adult epic fantasy from the age of nine, leaving her with a rather confused outlook on life – she believes the good guys should always win, but knows they often don’t. She is an oxymoron; an idealistic cynic. Her debut work is Confronting the Demon, and In the Company of the Deadis her first book to be published with Evolved Publishing. She holds degrees in law and accounting, and  is a practising financial services lawyer. In her spare time, she speculates about taking over the world.
Twitter: @CiaraBallintyne
Facebook: http://facebook.com/CiaraBallintyne
Website: http://ciaraballintyne.com

Cover Reveal: A Meddle of Wizards by Alexandra Rushe

A MEDDLE OF WIZARDS
by Alexandra Rushe
Genre: Fantasy
Pub Date: 1/9/2018
Welcome to Tandara, where gods are fickle, nightmares are real, and trolls make excellent bakers . . .
Raine Stewart is convinced she’ll die young and alone in Alabama, the victim of a chronic, mysterious illness. Until a man in a shabby cloak steps out of her mirror and demands her help to defeat a bloodthirsty wizard.
Raine shrugs it off as a hallucination—just one more insult from her failing body—and orders her intruder to take a hike. But the handsome figment of her imagination won’t take no for an answer, and kidnaps her anyway, launching her into a world of utmost danger—and urgent purpose.
Ruled by unpredictable gods and unstable nations, Tandara is a land of shapeshifters and weather-workers, queens and legends. Ravenous monsters and greedy bounty hunters patrol unforgiving mountains. Riverboats pulled by sea-cattle trade down broad waterways. And creatures of nightmare stalk Raine herself, vicious in the pursuit of her blood.
But Raine isn’t helpless or alone. She’s part of a band as resourceful as it is odd: a mage-shy warrior, a tattered wizard, a tenderhearted giant, and a prickly troll sorceress. Her new friends swear she has powers of her own. If she can stay under their protection, she might just live long enough to find out...
Alexandra Rushe was born in South Alabama, and grew up climbing trees, searching for sprites and fairies in the nearby woods, and dreaming of other worlds. The daughter of an English teacher and a small-town judge, Rushe developed a love of reading early on, and haunted the school and local libraries, devouring fairy tales, myths, and tales of adventure. In the seventh grade, she stumbled across a worn copy of The Hobbit, and was forever changed. She loves fantasy and paranormal, but only between the pages of a book—the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz give her the creeps, and she eschews horror movies. A psychic friend once proclaimed the linen closet in Rushe’s bedroom a portal to another dimension, and she hasn’t slept well since. Rushe is a world-class chicken.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Book Review: Heart of the Cotswolds by M.L. Buchman

Aaron Mason was injured in Afghanistan and has retreated to the tiny village of Stow-on-the-Wold in the Cotswolds of England. He's staying at a B&B and working as an apprentice to Trent, the local stone mason. He's mostly content until Jane Tully stumbles into the local pub, hiding from her sister's wedding. She kidnaps Aaron to go back with her and protect her from her sister Debbie, the definition of 'mean girl.' Jane's life is in a shambles; her almost-fiance and company have disappeared, and when Jane finds a storybook cottage, she decides to buy it and stay in the magical countryside of Gloucestershire. It helps that Aaron is working on a stone wall outside her door.
This is a gentle romance that gradually builds as two lonely people find each other. The secondary characters are interesting and add to the story. For me, the real star of the book was the wonderful descriptions of the English countryside. The Cotswolds really are beautiful, and the author captures that loveliness and weaves it into the story seamlessly.
I also like the concept of the series, that the B&B owners (and maybe the Earl) smooth the way for the couple in a Brigadoon-type fashion. The epilogue/preview indicates that the next book in the series will take place in Liguria, Italy, another romantic favorite place of mine. I can't wait.



Monday, June 19, 2017

Book Cover Reveal: River Queen Rose by Shirley Kennedy

RIVER QUEEN ROSE
by Shirley Kennedy
Genre: Historical Romance
Pub. Date: 12/26/2017
The ramshackle River Queen Hotel is home to vagabonds, gamblers, and heathens—and now, to new widow Rose Peterson. The rundown Gold Rush establishment is the only thing her late husband, Emmet, left her. Despite its raucous saloon and ladies of the evening, Rose can see the hotel’s potential. Her late husband’s family claim that sheltered Rose isn’t capable of running the Sacramento inn herself. But she is determined to make a new life for herself and her young daughter, even if it means flying in the face of custom and propriety. She feels as if she hasn’t a friend in the world.
Except, perhaps, one. Decatur “Deke” Fleming, a tall, lanky Australian who once served as Emmet’s farmhand. Pride prevents Deke from revealing his moneyed past; conscience keeps him from confessing his feelings for the still grieving widow. But when Rose is tempted by wealthy civic leader and hotel owner Mason Talbot, Deke may be the only person who can save her—and the one man capable of reviving her bruised and battered heart . . .
Shirley Kennedy was born and raised in Fresno, California. In her early career as an author, Shirley wrote traditional Regency romances, one for Ballantine, the rest for Signet. Later on, she branched into other genres. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada, with her older daughter, Dianne, and Brutus and Sparky, her two editorial assistants who love to nap in the sunshine next to her computer while she works on her next book. Please visit Shirley at shirleykennedy.com, or follow her Twitter account @ladyk360, or on Facebook at facebook.com/shirley.kennedy.52.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Book Review: Playful Hearts by Marianne Rice

Mackenzie Pratt runs the local coffee shop in Rocky Harbor. She's best friends with most of the Riley siblings and is interested in Blake Riley, the flirty brother who has just come home to open a gym and obstacle course with Colton (from Wounded Love). They're both too busy for a relationship and neither one wants one, but 'friends with benefits' works for them.
This is a fun series and it's always fun to read about the Riley family. There are some serious moments such as Mackenzie dealing with her mother's increasing senility and Blake's dealing with his blood family (if you don't know, the Riley's were all adopted and come from some rough backgrounds though Doreen and her late husband brought them up right).
I really loved the last book and I enjoyed this one, too, but Blake is not my favorite brother. I wish he'd show his sensitive side a bit more instead of relying on constant flirting. Mackenzie is a great heroine; I liked her interactions with Blake's niece. A solid addition to a great series.

Link to Amazon

New Release and Review: Tangible Spirits by Becki Willis

Suspense, Paranormal Suspense
Date Published:  May 2017

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Dead is dead. Gera Stapleton does not believe in ghosts.

In the infamous town of Jerome, Arizona, a once-friendly ghost named Mac has reportedly embarked on a petty crime spree, and, to her dismay, Gera is assigned the story. Has her journalism career come down to this? How can she accurately report a story on something she does not believe exists?

Now there has been a murder, and the townspeople are content to blame Mac for this, too. Determined to find the real killer—because there are no such things as ghosts, after all—Gera sets out to unravel the truth.

In a town filled with curiosities, Gera encounters a sexy hotel owner, an ornery sheriff, a helpful old woman, and a bad-tempered bartender. The more she digs, the more curious—and the more dangerous—this story becomes. What she discovers makes Gera question not only her beliefs, but her sanity, as well.

Is it possible? Could there truly be such a thing as these tangible spirits, after all?



Review: 
Gera Stapleton has been sent to Jerome, Arizona to write a story about ghosts for her magazine. Gera is not a believer, and she's appalled when she stumbles onto a murder scene where it appears the perpetrator is one of the town's ghosts. She decides to investigate this new angle to her story and starts to question people in the town.

There are three attractive single men in town to help her in her quest: the Clark-Kentish hotel owner, the elegant president of the bank, and the rough-and-ready sheriff.

This is a fun cozy mystery. The author has introduced a number of interesting characters as well as suspects galore. Gera is cute, determined to get to the bottom of the many mysteries; with ghosts all over town, there's more than just the murder. The background history is also interwoven into the story in a natural way that made me want to know more about FDR and the gold act, for just one example.
If you're looking for a cozy mystery with a bit of romance, then Tangible Spirits is for you. I am providing an honest review in return for a copy of the book from Netgalley and the author. 

About the Author

Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, always dreamed of being an author. In November of '13, that dream became a reality. Since that time, she has published eleven books, won first place honors for Best Mystery Series, Best Suspense Fiction and Best Audio Book, and has introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world.

An avid history buff, Becki likes to poke around in old places and learn about the past. Other addictions include reading, writing, junking, unraveling a good mystery, and coffee. She loves to travel, but believes coming home to her family and her Texas ranch is the best part of any trip. Becki is a member of the Association of Texas Authors, the National Association of Professional Women, and the Brazos Writers organization. She attended Texas A&M University and majored in Journalism.

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Monday, June 12, 2017

Romance Book Sale!



Check out the June Nothing But 99 Sale & Giveaway!
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Most of them are on sale for a limited time. It's just our way of thanking our loyal readers.

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Book Blitz: Feel Me Fall by James Morris Excerpt and Giveaway

Young Adult
Date Published: 05/02/2017

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Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she's the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we'll go in order to survive.



Excerpt

Chapter One


I have tried so hard to forget, but memory is a stubborn thing. Memories linger no matter what I do. They’re there all the time—and worse. Even my dreams aren’t safe. I have vicious nightmares, and they’re real—too real—and suddenly I’m back there. I can’t will them away, I can’t squeeze them away, and the more I try, the more they burrow in my head. I want to cut open my skull and dig my fingers into my brain and just pull them out.

I press the Call Nurse button.

            This place, this room; it’s no better than a white coffin. Sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I have to remind myself nothing’s moving. Nothing at all.

            Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.

            A nurse enters. She’s got skin the color of rich walnut. She says, “It’s late, you should be asleep.”

            “I can’t.” She tilts her head, knowing it’s a lie. The truth is I don’t want to. “Can I have some coffee?”

            “You’ve got to sleep sometime, honey.” She walks over and gently grasps my bandaged hand. “Do you want me to stay with you a while?”

            Usually my mom is with me, but she must’ve had to run home. Reduced to a little girl, I nod.

            I close my eyes, but my mind runs and runs. Tubes and fluids enter my body, but there’s nothing to stop the anxiety. My heart pounds and sometimes I fear I’m on the cusp of crossing into whatever lies on the other side of sane. Being in the hospital makes it harder. The white walls and sick people only remind me that I am so far from normal. My mom’s apartment in Los Angeles is less than five miles away, but it might as well be a million.

The nurse, staff, doctors, everyone; they all know me for one thing. The thing that will define me for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. The only survivor of Air Brazil, the plane that crashed in the Amazon jungle carrying 134 passengers; 37 of them students, teachers, and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. I used to hear about plane crashes and wondered how the victims felt in the seconds before impact, wondered what it was like to know you were about to die.

Now I know. And I’d give anything not to.

            I knew those people from school. Every. Single. One.

They aren’t faceless names. They are people and they are dead.

The counselor didn’t help, either. She told me not to feel guilty. Survivor’s guilt, she called it. She warned I could expect to be angry and sad. I could expect to be confused. I wanted to tell her I was angry and sad and confused long before I got onto that plane.

            My counselor told me to write my story down. By writing I could make sense of all that happened. I keep thinking if I remember everything the way I need to that the memories will fade away. That I can accept what happened. I can accept that I survived and everyone else died.

The laptop on my nightstand is waiting for me. I’m scared to touch it.


###


I was dead to the world and when I came to I was drowning. Water gushed into my mouth and I was tumbling, flailing, not knowing what end was up or down. I heard the sounds of screaming and the roaring of water and then nothingness. Coming up for air, I held something, something rectangular. The seat cushion I was holding kept me afloat. I was in a river and I didn’t know why. I kicked and kicked and it made no difference. I never believed in God, an all-powerful being that allowed so many horrible things to happen, but as I saw the rocks up ahead, I prayed.

The current sped faster, churning like boiling water and I thought I was going to die.

I was 17 and I was going to die.

All the time wasted. All the things I never got to do.

I had one thought over and over: I don’t want to die. Someone else, but not me.

I held onto that seat cushion for dear life and plunged into the rapids. I was a human rag doll. The torrent sucked me into a watery hell and I couldn’t breathe; my eyes shut, mouth shut, face tight against the murk, willing everything to stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic.

Someone else, but not me.

I needed air, my body screamed for it and I opened my mouth about to take in water when I bubbled up to the surface and gasped. As quickly as I was brought above, I was taken under again. I slammed against the rocks and buried my face deeper into the cushion. I saw nothing, heard nothing, and imagined I was in a womb. I could only wait for the terror to pass. There was no outlet; my fear was so deep and tangible I couldn’t scream. It felt like an actual substance that enveloped my body, my brain, my very being. I receded further and further within myself, a dark hole, my entire body a taut muscle.

Suddenly, I took a shot to the head and saw stars. A high-pitched squeal rang in my ears. I fought the growing sensation of darkness that threatened to overcome me, but I knew to give in meant death. I was tempted. So, so tempted. I forced my eyes open and saw the water, the dark water and wondered in that emptiness if I hadn’t died already.

My prayer must’ve been heard.

The water calmed and I was spit out near a bend. I realized I had to give up the cushion, my lifeline—it was holding me back. I let go, cursing myself as it floated away and I swam, giving everything I had. My body had nothing left but I commanded it, willed it, to swim. As I approached the shore, my shoes finally touched bottom and I heaved myself onto land.

I don’t know how long I lay there catching my breath. But there is no greater feeling of security than the sensation of the earth beneath your stomach, hands grabbing dirt. The scent of decay and wet leaves smelled like a bouquet. All this time I’d taken the ground beneath me for granted. Now I was thankful for this place to rest.

I was soaked. My jeans pressed against me, my hair drenched, my socks squished against my feet. I didn’t understand. I had left on a flight from Los Angeles with a layover in Panama City and then on to Asuncion, Paraguay for a year-end class trip. We were traveling as an inter-disciplinary trip for history, international relations, foreign language and biology. We were going to have the trip of a lifetime.

Then it hit me, a delayed reaction: I almost drowned. I almost died. My body seized and I was overwhelmed. I cried; I didn’t even know why or for what, but I sobbed on that little stretch of dirt. I heaved, gasping for breath. Every inhale was a wheeze, and I caught myself hitting the ground, my hands balled into tight fists, pounding and pounding.

Moments passed and I cried myself empty. I told myself: get up. You have to get up.

I placed my hands in the dirt to help me stand and looked around thinking: What is this place? There was green everywhere, too much green, and a river the width of three football fields in front of me. The air was heavy, a physical pressure against my skin. I was in the jungle, a tangled web of trees and totally foreign. Any other time, I might’ve been amazed by its majesty, only now I felt small. Trees towered behind me, the river flowed in front, and I was trapped.

It was then I felt the weight of my cross-body bag. I’d been wearing it the whole time. Not very heavy, I managed to unhook it and was about to open the zipper when I heard screams.

Floating down the river were more people. I wasn’t alone! A ripple of joy overtook me until I saw their faces reflecting what I sensed my own might look like—bruised, bleeding, and utterly thrashed.

Exhausted, I shouted my voice hoarse, “Over here!” I waved my hands over my head. “You can do it,” I encouraged. “Almost there!”

Some didn’t move at all. They floated, faces down, rolling through the current, lost in the rapids, disappearing for far too long. Those were the ones who didn’t thrash. Others were swept in the rapids, their screams barely heard over the rushing water only to be silenced on the other end. I was watching people die. The bodies were like a slow leak, trickling down the river a few at a time, and yet almost none of them emerged alive on the other side of the rocks. I couldn’t save them. They were too far away.

Someone else, but not me.

I didn’t mean like this.

Then I saw Viv and my heart nearly stopped.

She struggled in the water, past the rapids, a bobber about to go under. She was never athletic even though she was stick thin. Water gurgled from her mouth and she barely moved. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I wouldn’t allow it. I was terrified of my own exhaustion, but I jumped into the water and found a strength I never knew. I swam out to her. Her head dipped under the water and I would not let that be the last time I saw my best friend alive. I grasped her flotation cushion and then headed back to shore.

She looked at me, dazed. “Emily, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.” I could barely contain my relief.

The sun shone over my head, reflecting in the ripples. “You look like an angel.”

I knew Vivian was out of it. “Stop talking now. Just swim. We’re going to be okay.”

I reached the shore for a second time and pulled her up with me. Once on land, she pulled me into a hug and nothing had ever felt better. Always shorter than me, her face burrowed into my chest and I felt I was protecting an abandoned baby bird. Her inky dark hair, usually so pretty was now plastered to her head, her make-up had washed away, and she was just this tiny thing. Her whole body shivered. “Tell me it’s a dream, tell me it’s a dream….”

“I wish it was, Viv.” I would’ve stayed hugging her if not for the other people in need of help.

Nico, Viv’s immature boyfriend, splashed ashore, his glasses gone, his nose bloody, red streaks smeared across his face. He was panting and heaved over, and I thought he might throw up. We had a history, but there was no time for irritation. Any familiar face was cause for celebration. He seemed surprised to see me. “You made it.”

He then eased Viv from my arms and into his.

Further down the river there was movement. It was Derek, all limbs and urgency, his face pockmarked with acne and not a hint of stubble. He splashed onto shore, his fingers digging into sand and he kissed the earth.

Twenty yards away, Ryan Wray followed. One of his prosthetic legs was missing—he’d lost his legs below the knee after contracting a rare case of meningitis a few years earlier—and he crab-walked onto land, his one pant leg empty, wet, and flat. He wasn’t alone. He helped guide Mean Molly with him. She was far from mean then, almost drowned, flustered and frantic. Once she got out of the water, she toppled in the mud, curling into a fetal position.

I stayed where I was as Ryan, Molly and Derek staggered along the shore, finally meeting up with us.

There was no time to rest or reflect. The river scattered more survivors along the shore. I pulled in a man and stopped in alarm when I saw that one of his arms had snapped off. I gently laid him down and he didn’t even notice until he turned his head. He said with an eerie calm, “That looks painful.” I recognized him from the plane. He’d sat a few aisles in front of me and slammed back drinks whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. On land, he didn’t even scream. His face was pale and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses from below his shoulder.

“What do we do?” Nico said.

I had no clue. I only knew we needed to do something. “Derek, your belt!”

Derek looked from his perch on the mud and shook his head. I couldn’t believe it.

“Derek, give me your belt! He’s losing too much blood.”

Derek, in shock or otherwise, didn’t move.

I searched for anything that would act as a tourniquet, but my efforts were in vain. The man’s blood had dwindled to a dribble, leaving a red puddle in the mud.

Another woman emerged from the water like a swamp creature, stumbling. We sat her down and she gazed at the water. She had a head injury like mine. Blood ran from her scalp and there was a small spot where her hair had been chafed away. It wasn’t a wound. It was a hole. Looking closer, I could see something I didn’t want to—her skull and what lay within. Her eyelids fluttered and she swayed, falling unconscious. I tried to grab her, but gravity took her to the ground. I nudged her once, twice; she didn’t respond. “Wake up,” I pleaded. “Please wake up.” She never moved again.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run from this place.

It seemed like a Halloween parade. They had to be in costume or using special effects; the injuries and deaths couldn’t be real.

They were all too real.

One man drifted to shore, his face down in the water, his wispy gray hair splayed out on the water’s surface. We grabbed ahold of him and he was heavy, far too heavy for his slender body. We saw why. The flotation device had kept him afloat, but he’d drowned somewhere along the way.

The last man we helped suffered so many burns his face was charred and etched in pain—I had the horrible thought of grill marks on steak. Once on land he jumped back into the water. Maybe the water had soothed him. I tried to reach out and grab him. “Let me help you!” But he was hysterical, too fast, and we watched as he floated away. I tell myself that he would’ve probably died anyway.

It’s terrible that I only knew them as The Woman, The Old Man, The Man Without an Arm and The Burned Man. Somewhere people knew their names, their histories, secrets and loves. Many of them rested at our feet, their chests still, mouths open. We were among the dead, and I found that we all, consciously or not, distanced ourselves from the horror.



About the Author


James Morris is a former television writer who now works in digital media. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching House Hunters Renovation, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles.

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