Tag Archives: Romance

Guest Release Promotion–The Crimson Curse by Melissa J. Crispin

Hi Linda, Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!

Tell us a bit about you and your background

I was born and raised in Connecticut where I still live today. I’m married with two kids, and I work full-time for a software company that builds solutions for people in the Finance industry. It’s often challenging to find time to write, but it’s totally worth the effort.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

I’m a planner, but I allow my plan to go off the rails if it seems like the right thing to do. I start off by creating a loose outline with all the major turning points of the story, then break it out into scenes. Once I start writing the actual manuscript, I don’t freak out if the story wants to veer off elsewhere. I readjust as I go.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations)

My alarm goes off when it’s still pitch black outside. It’s so early my dog doesn’t even acknowledge it. I slip out of bed, make a large cup of coffee and head to my office. This is a spare room that my awesome husband converted into a writing den for me (yes, I know I’m a lucky gal J).

I proceed to write until it’s time for the kids to get up and ready for school. I get them moving and I get ready for the rest of the day, too. There’s a small window where everyone is all set and I don’t need to leave yet, so I sneak back into the office and use the precious minutes to my advantage.

Once time is up, I head to the day job. I’m usually too beat after work to go back to writing in the evening, but I’ll do it if I’m working on a deadline.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

Yes! I write in a number of genres. The Crimson Curse is fantasy, a fairy tale retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but I also write YA, sci-fi, and contemporary romance. The one common thread in all of my writing is that I focus on relationships. So, whether my character is a cursed woman in search of true love, an aspiring ballerina who discovers she needs to save the world, or the President’s daughter who falls in love with a galactic garbage man, I try to paint a vivid picture of who is important to them in their world and try to show what they are willing to do for those people.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I am a pet person for sure. About three years ago, we rescued a brown and white Siberian Husky. A group of teenagers had found her wandering on the side of the road and took her to a vet. I have a friend who’s involved in helping animals find forever homes, and she told me about this one. My husband and I had another husky before this one, and we adored her. I wasn’t sure if I’d ever be able to have another dog, because I was so heartbroken when she passed.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with this breed, they are very head strong and super stubborn. It turns out this dog had two other homes before us and had been abandoned. My friend asked if I was ready for another dog, and if I wanted to meet her. We decided right away to take her home with us. We had a shaky start, and had to work through some issues because of her past, but it all worked out in the end. She is almost always by my side. It’s so rewarding to know that we saved her and were able to give her the home that she needed.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

There are two things I hope a reader can gain from my stories. The first would be a chance to escape from reality for a bit. When I’m immersed in a good book, it’s as if the entire world falls away and I’m living in the story. It’s my hope that I can somehow do the same for others. The other thing would be for the reader to feel, to experience whatever emotion my character is feeling in that moment, too. If I’m able to invoke a spark of happiness, anger, or fear, then I feel like I’ve done my job as a writer.

TheCrimsonCurse_0208

BLURB

Cursed and disfigured, Calliope must find true love before the final leaf falls from the Enchanted Tree. Being bound to her mansion on the outskirts of town leaves her with little hope.

Abandoned by his wife for a wealthy man, Bastian only needs one female in his life, his five-year-old daughter, Yareena. When she goes missing during a raging fire, fate brings him to a strange place where he encounters a woman wearing a golden mask.

An attack by rogues puts Bastian in Calliope’s care. As he struggles against pride and prejudice, Bastian can’t ignore his growing attraction to the kind soul behind the mask.

Yareena and the mansion staff do their best at matchmaking, but Calliope can’t reveal her darkest secret. Will Bastian discover her true beauty before it’s too late?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

Bookstrand

KOBO Books

Roane Publishing

Smashwords

EXCERPT

Calliope returned her attention to Bastian, grasping his shoulder with a gentle hand and giving him a small shake. When he didn’t stir, she considered how she could clean the wound without undressing him as he slept. She had never taken off a man’s clothing before, and she hardly wanted her first time to be when he wasn’t even aware of her actions. But, no other options seemed available. She started at the bottom button of his shirt, working her way up with trembling fingers, and spreading the fabric apart when the last of the buttons slipped free.

Her eyes roamed his upper body. While she was supposed to be assessing the extent of his injuries, she couldn’t deny the flash of heat that blasted through her at the sight of his bare skin.

She dipped a washcloth in the basin that Mrs. Widdleworth left on the night table, wringing out the excess water. As she dabbed at the gash near his naval, his vulnerability in that moment struck her in a way she had not expected. After their first encounter, she would have predicted his ego to get in the way, choosing to bleed to death in the cold rather than accept anything from her.

Although he suffered a serious injury, his daughter seemed to remain his utmost concern. Could his earlier ill-temper have been an unusual display? A behavior born out of fear for his daughter’s safety?

Maybe she had been wrong about him.

She pressed her lips together, allowing the notion to sink in as she dropped the bloody fabric off to the side, and proceeded to stitch the wound with shaky fingers. When the task was complete, she picked up a fresh cloth to use as a dressing. Relief washed over her as she inspected the area before covering it up. The slice in his flesh went deep, but not nearly as deep as she initially feared. She positioned the bandage and fixed it in place, her gaze catching a thin trail of hair that started under the center of his chest, following the way it continued lower down his body, and even further yet where it dipped beneath his trousers.

“It’s been a long time since a woman has laid her hands on me,” Bastian said, his voice rough.

Calliope jumped, heat infusing her cheeks. “My apologies if this offends. Marcus doesn’t fare well with blood. I had to care for your injury myself.” Her eyes met his, and to her surprise, no anger seemed to stir there.

“I was only teasing.” He swallowed hard, appearing to bite back the immense discomfort he had to be feeling. “Thank you.”

She inclined her head. “You’re welcome.”

“I shouldn’t have been so terse with you earlier. Yareena is my life, and when I couldn’t find her, well…” He reached for his face, pressing the heel of his hand against his jaw. “I lost my sense for a short while. I apologize.”

 

BIO

Melissa J. Crispin lives in Connecticut with her husband, two kids, and an adorable Siberian Husky. She spends her days in the corporate world, and pursues her passion for writing in the late nights and early mornings.

From micro-fiction to novels, Melissa loves to write stories in varying lengths. But, no matter the story, it’s almost always about the romance.

WEB Links:

Website

Facebook

Twitter: @MelissaJCrispin

Instagram: @MelissaJCrispin

GIVEAWAY

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Or click here to connect with contest on Rafflecopter:

 

Guest Release Promotion—Keri’s Christmas Wish by Pamela S. Thibodeaux

KerisChristmasWish

BLURB

For as long as she can remember, Keri Jackson has despised the hype and commercialism around Christmas so much she seldom enjoys the holiday. Will she get her wish and be free of the angst to truly enjoy Christmas this year?

A devout Christian at heart, Jeremy Hinton, a Psychotherapist, Life Coach, Spiritual Mentor and Energy Medicine Practitioner has studied all of the world’s religions and homeopathic healing modalities. But when a rare bacterial infection threatens the life of the woman he loves, will all of his faith and training be for naught?

BUY LINK

Amazon ebook

EXCERPT

An image began to form in her mind…a young girl being led around on a horse by an ethereal figure. As the trio came closer, Keri felt as though she looked in a mirror. Her heart swelled. Tears clogged her throat, filled her eyes, and slipped down her cheeks.

“Hi, Keri!”

The childlike voice reverberated through her entire body. Keri smiled and whispered, “Hello.”

 Excitement lit the youngster’s eyes. Brilliant colors vibrated around her. “Do you know who I am?”

“You’re me as a little girl. That’s Spark, my horse who died when I was a teenager.”

Spark nodded his head as the girl giggled—a joyous melody that rang through the atmosphere. “No, silly, I’m your big sister. Only, I didn’t live very long.”

 Tension seeped in, a mixture of shock and awe.

 “Don’t be afraid. Ask Mom.”

 And then the mirage disappeared.

Pamela S Thibodeaux publicity photo

 Award-winning author, Pamela S. Thibodeaux is the Co-Founder and a lifetime member of Bayou Writers Group in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Multi-published in romantic fiction as well as creative non-fiction, her writing has been tagged as, “Inspirational with an Edge!” ™ and reviewed as “steamier and grittier than the typical Christian novel without decreasing the message.”

Participants on the blog tour for Keri’s Christmas Wish will have a chance to win one of 5 electronic  or 5 print copies. Prizes awarded at the end of the tour

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Additional stops on the blog tour where Pamela would love to see visitors

Dec 10th – Marilyn Leach Blog: marilynleachteaandbooks.com

Dec 11th – Robin Bayne Blog: http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com/

Dec 12th – Raquel Byrnes Blog: http://nitewriter6.blogspot.com/

Dec 13th – Cami Checketts Blog: http://www.camichecketts.com/

Dec 14th – Linda McLaughlin Blog: http://lindalyndi.com/reading-room-blog/

Dec 15th – Diane Burton Blog: http://dianeburton.blogspot.com/

Dec 16th – Maureen Bonatch Blog: http://www.maureenbonatch.com/blog/

Dec 17th – Alicia Dean Blog: https://aliciadean.com/alicias-blog/

Dec 18th – Jody Day Blog: http://jodysdevotionaljournal.blogspot.com/

Dec 19th – Marian Merritt’s Blog: http://marianmerritt.blogspot.com

Dec 20th – Kim Headlee Blog: https://kimiversonheadlee.blogspot.com/

Dec 21st – Patricia Preston Blog http://patricia-preston.blogspot.com/

Dec 22nd  – Delia Latham Blog http://chirpnchatter.blogspot.com/

WEB CONTACTS

Website

Blog

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Amazon Author Page

BookBub page

Guest Interview—Jana Begovic

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina (ex Yugoslavia) where I spent most of my adult life. I also acquired most of my higher education there (B.A. and M.A. degrees in languages and literature). With my husband and son, I immigrated to Canada in 1991, half a year before the country was engulfed in a civil war. After graduating from the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University, Canada, I started working for the Department of National Defence and began my career path as a foreign language curriculum and testing specialist. With a full-time job that involves a lot of international travel, too, I currently write only as a hobby.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Gourmet cooking and entertaining friends and family, reading, running and other fitness activities, travel, walks in nature.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

I think of the characters first and have a rough contour of the plot in my mind. I allow the story to evolve organically without much planning.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

I’ve traveled to most of the locations I mention. For example, in Poisonous Whispers, parts of the plot unfold in Vienna, Rome, Barcelona and Glasgow. Glasgow is one of the cities I have not visited yet. England and Ireland are also mentioned in this book, and I was fortunate to visit England several times. I dream of travelling to Ireland because I feel a strong attraction to that country. My bucket list is much too long for one lifetime.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

When I get stuck, I simply stop writing and let the story ferment further in my subconscious mind. I also believe in synchronicities, that is meaningful coincidences that come into your life when you need them. And invariably, whenever I’d hit a reef in my storytelling, I would hear a story from a friend or an acquaintance during my travels that would inspire me to continue writing. When it comes to Poisonous Whispers, I simply trusted the process because I believed this book was destined to be born. I will never forget sitting in an airport in Europe and having the “Aha” moment, and knowing without a speck of doubt where the story needed to go in order for the plot line to come full circle.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I was shocked to see my characters assume a life of their own. They became alive and started to control the storyline. I was especially surprised that the heroine would reveal a certain secret to her husband almost ruining her marriage. That was so unnecessary and cruel!!! When it comes to editing itself, the realization that it is an almost never-ending process, that it is almost impossible to catch every single error discouraged and frustrated me many times. And I’m not even a perfectionist in my everyday life!

What’s your dream vacation destination?

A hot climate with white pebbled beaches surrounded by pine trees, buzzing with cicada song and infused with the scent of brine and Mediterranean grasses. I believe I’m describing the Adriatic coast where I used to vacation, and which I will always miss.

In what genre do you read?

I read both fiction and non-fiction, commercial and literary prose, but literary fiction is my preferred genre. I enjoy the depth of literary thought, and I crave books that make me stop after every couple of pages and contemplate life.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I hope that readers derive pleasure from reading my debut novel; I hope they read it slowly, visualizing the pictures of both the physical and emotional landscapes I painted; I hope they lose track of time once they step into the multi-layered worlds I created; I hope the heroine’s pain-laced journey touches them, and also shows them that pain and loss, and poor judgment can deepen, strengthen, humble and redeem us.  And I hope they like and relate to my characters in spite of their flaws and moral fallibility.

Poisonous Whispers-1207

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“Don’t you ever forget about me…,” he whispers during their secret encounters. Like a curse, these simple words now haunt Leandra, a reputable psychiatrist, who finds herself in emotional chaos after the sudden breakup of her illicit affair. Unable to heal on her own and tormented by dreams in which supernatural forces create havoc with her fate, she desperately turns to David, a colleague psychiatrist, asking him to take her through past-life regression therapy. She hopes that this unorthodox and somewhat suspect technique will explain her profound connection to the lover who has abandoned her so abruptly.

The sessions take Leandra through 17th and 19th century Ireland, Italy and England, where love, loss and betrayal are the leitmotifs in an ambiance of co-mingled fantasy and reality. In her hypnotic state, Leandra recounts a saga of intoxicating love, dizzying passion, flaming lust and profound heartbreak. Despite the painful answers she finds under hypnosis, Leandra still cannot let go of the hope to reunite with her lover. Ultimately, the shattering revelations from her past-life incarnations, along with the turmoil over her ruined marriage, become the stepping stones of her introspective path to healing, self-discovery and an appreciation of true love.

BUY LINKS

Roane Publishing

Amazon

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

EXCERPT

A tiny streak of pale light is cascading softly down the cell window and making a shy sliver in the veil of darkness. I open my eyes, disoriented. I do not move; I do not even dare blink until I get my bearings. Then I remember and freeze in horror. I sit up, an aching all over my body and cold dread in my heart. Instinctively, I try to disentangle my matted hair with my fingers, but it is hopeless. All around me, I smell mold, decay and death. How can I survive another day in this hole? The sound of the door opening with a screech makes me jump in terror.

The gaoler walks in; a heavy set of keys dangling and jingling in his hand.

“Come. You are being moved in preparation for tonight’s execution. A verdict was reached.”

I speak not but follow him. We climb a steep staircase. Below us, I hear moans and yells and what sounds like the death throes of those hopelessly lost to the world and forgotten by justice, compassion and mercy. Again, I am feeling dissociated from the event of my calamity; I see my body walking, but my soul is not in it and indifference over what might happen floods me. Death is not the end. Death offers me salvation from pain, from the torment of living a human life.

We leave the jailhouse and enter the house across the street to the village inn. The inn owner, James Bourke, looks at me with hatred and disdain. He also always hated my husband because his wife had hoped my husband would marry her. She was in love with him, and when he married me she tried to kill herself. James married her later, but has always known that she never stopped loving my husband.

The gaoler takes me upstairs to one of the guest rooms and locks the door behind me. The room is wide and clean even though sparsely furnished. The bed is large and looks inviting and I realize how exhausted I am. On the bed is a white, thin chemise and I immediately understand thisis what I will wear tonight when I am pushed off the bridge into the water that is cool even on the hottest of summer days. Will I have the strength or the will to swim and save myself? What surprises and almost delights me under such grave circumstances is a bathtub in the corner of the room. There is steam rising from it and I immediately undress and slip into it, relieved to be able to wash off the dirt, the grime, and above all the horrible stench on my body. I rub myself raw trying to clean my skin. Washing my hair is more difficult because at home I have servants who help me with bathing, dressing and undressing. I have been spoilt by marrying a man of wealth and power. Where is my husband now? I crave his protection. If he saved me now, would I give up Kieran, would I give up love in order to live? I surmise I would.

After I have washed, I come out of the tub feeling more exhausted than ever. At the same time, I realize I have not eaten for over a day and devour the plate of bread, cheese and apples ravenously. As I am eating, I can feel tears stream down my face; they are tears of silent despair and hopelessness. My chest is heaving with pain and I have difficulty swallowing the last few bites. I throw myself on the bed thinking my weeping and sobbing will continue forever, but I fall asleep. One would think that my dreams would be filled with the terror of the situation, but instead I dream of Kieran. In my dream I accuse him of being a weakling, of not fighting for our love. He just looks at me sadly and his eyes are filled with tears of powerlessness. He is also saying something in his defense, but I do not understand his words. I wake up feeling a sharp pain stabbing my chest and I gasp for breath. I feel like I am suffocating. I take a sip of water from the pitcher on the floor and the pain subsides. Outside, the moon is peering out from behind a cloud and I realize I’ve slept through the whole day. It is time to get ready for a new chance at life or for death.

I use the chamber pot and wash myself again with the bath water that is no longer clean. I tie my hair into a braid and pin it up. If I had scissors, I would gladly cut it off so it does not weigh me down once the cool river takes me in its wet embrace.

I sit on the bed waiting for my fate to open the next chapter of my life. I do not understand why I am suddenly so peaceful, and I cannot be certain if it is tranquility or resignation that has filled my heart.

I have no reaction when I hear the key turn in the lock and see the homely face of the gaoler appear in the doorframe. He is carrying a large red candle and in its light his toothless smile appears eerie and foreboding.

“Are you ready, my lovely, to face the savior? I must say ‘tis a shame to see such a nice body go to waste and be eaten by the fishes and snakes, but you are not the first or the last wretched witch this village has put an end to.”

His laughter is broken by a cough that must be tearing up his insides. It is so strong that it overwhelms him and he has to bend down to cough out something awful that seems to have been stuck in his throat. What a horrid man!

From a 5-star review

“The writing is exquisite—a book of depth, sophisticated in style, literary in nature. Ms. Begovic displays strong lyrical and poetic writing filled with symbolism and universal truths. The book also holds an element of suspense that keeps the reader wondering about the relationships of the characters until the surprise ending. A beautiful story, a compelling read.”

Beverly Knauer, Author of “The Line Between”

Jana_Begovic_Photo

As far back as she can remember, Jana has been fascinated by storytelling and intoxicated with the written word. As a young child, she began spinning stories, talking to an imaginary friend and devouring fairy tales. Her love of reading and writing drove her to study languages and literature. She works for the Government of Canada in the field of military language training. She was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, but has lived in Canada since 1991.

WEB CONTACTS

Facebook

Twitter @ZhannaBegovic

Goodreads

GIVEAWAY

One AUTOGRAPHED book copy as giveaway will be mailed to a reader who leaves a question/comment and his/her contact info. The author will select the winner randomly. Good luck!

 

Guest release promotion—Frosting and Flurries, a Christmas anthology

Frosting and Flurries - 3D Final - Med

Frosting and Flurries, is a boxed set of five Christmas novellas on Amazon. The other amazing authors in the set are Kimberly Rae Jordan, Cecelia Dowdy, Clare Revell, and Marion Ueckermann. My book is called Moostletoe and it was a great deal of fun working with other writers I know and love! ~~Jan

Moostletoe Book 1 Medium JPG

BLURB of Moostletoe by Jan Elder

Rev. Samantha Evans lands in Moose Creek, Maine, a backwater town with more moose than men. One of her new parishioners chews up new ministers for breakfast, and he’s hell-bent on sending her packing.

Forest ranger Eric Palmer is done with women. With Christmas around the corner, he runs into Sammie, his best friend when they were teenagers. Unlike most women, he trusts her implicitly. But could she ever be more than a friend?

When Samantha’s career is on the line, Eric saves her job, rescuing his own shattered heart. But how does Matilda the town moose factor in?

BUY LINK

Amazon

EXCERPT

As they headed toward the fence at the back of the large yard, the trapped moose turned her head and fastened Samantha with the longest, most distressed face she’d ever seen. Somehow, the words “there’s a moose stuck in the fence” had not prepared her for the sight of two hooves sticking to the top of tall pickets.

Poor moosie indeed!

The TV news reporter strode toward Eric and Travis, a determined set to his jaw.

Eric took charge. “Dale, you can film, but be quiet about it and keep well back. I know everybody loves Matilda, but she’s a wild animal and she’s scared. You too, Mr. Tremblay.”

“We’ll do our best to behave.” Dale smirked. “But the TV audience is going to eat this up and we’re here to serve.”

Eric grimaced. “She’s just a moose for crying out loud. People in Aroostook County see them every day.”

The TV crew moved into position. Eric glanced at Samantha. “Sammie you asked what you can do. Your job is to pray we can get this moose out of trouble, fast.”

“Will do.” Samantha nodded and clung to the fence line several yards away. Matilda puffed, her breath sending up a cloud of steam. Samantha’s heart went out to the creature, and she unleashed a silent prayer. If God cared for the lowly sparrow, He surely loved the magnificent moose.

Eric’s eyes zeroed in on the television camera as two men continued to edge closer. “Confound it, Dale, stay back. Don’t you have a zoom on that contraption?”

The cheeky, young reporter lifted his chin. “We’ll stay back as long as you give us an exclusive after the rescue.”

Eric planted his hands on his hips and huffed. “Exclusive? Dale, what do you think this is? Portland? You’re the only TV station there is in these parts. Just keep your distance. Hey, Tremblay? You have a small hatchet?”

A protest erupted from the cameraman. “Surely, you’re not going to hurt that wild animal.”

Eric shook his head. “No, of course we’re not going to hurt her. We have to break up the fence.”

Dale cocked his head. “Why can’t you just yard on it until her feet come out?”

Huh? Samantha searched her memory banks. Yard on it. Ah, yes. Pull hard.

“Do I look suicidal? I’m not getting anywhere near those back hooves. We have a crazed five-hundred-pound moose who’s not thinking straight, here.”

The cameraman grumbled and when Eric turned his back, the cameraman made a hand gesture that meant … Samantha wasn’t sure what it meant, but it couldn’t have been nice.

Matilda shifted her back feet, tried to maneuver backward and pitched a bit to the side. The wooden fence scraped against her front fetlocks and she bellowed, a terrible noise that rang hollow in the damp, night air. Terrified, her eyes flicked back and forth, the whites showing. Helpless, Samantha prayed harder and shuffled her feet to keep the circulation moving, her chest squeezing.

The cameraman hefted his camera and aimed it at the reporter. The show was about to begin.

Janice Elder with Pink Flowers

Jan Elder is a Christian romance writer with a zeal for telling real, relateable stories. She strives to write novels that will strengthen the reader’s faith, while providing an entertaining and engrossing love story.

Happily married for thirteen years to supportive husband, Steve, the two live in central Maryland.

WEB CONTACTS

Amazon Author Page

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

Help With Finding the Latest Romance Titles

Keeping updated on the latest romance releases can be hard. So many titles are available, and sometimes checking the Top 100 best sellers lists on Amazon just isn’t convenient.

I’ve discovered The Romance Reviews ezine is a great way to learn what’s new. All sub-genres are covered. The author interviews are informative, the excerpts tantalizing, and the reviews help me as a romance reader determine what titles to purchase.

June 2016 TRR cover

I happened to buy a cover ad in the June 2016 issue (page 10) for Montana Sky: Laced By Love, which serendipitously coincides with the current, limited-time 99-cent sale. Love it when events come together like that. Plus Laced by Love has hit a couple of best seller lists like Clean and Wholesome and Western Romance on Amazon. YAY!

If you want to learn about the releases, you’ll want to subscribe to the magazine for the earliest peek at these popular titles. http://www.theromancereviews.com/ezine.php

Guest Release—Navy Blues by Julie B Cosgrove

LoveIs_NavyBlues May 27

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Her fiancé cheated on her…in paradise. Broken hearted and confused, Emma flies home to Fort Worth, Texas not sure what life without him will entail.

Ryan is being discharged from the Navy to join a gastroenterology private practice in Fort Worth. New city, new life. The last thing on his mind is falling in love. Until a forlorn lady sniffles in the seat beside him on the flight.

A storm, an emergency landing and an out of control ex-fiancé thrusts Ryan and Em into a dilemma. Each must make some tough choices, but will those involve each other?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Julie’s website

EXCERPT

Just as I mouthed a thanks to God, an eardrum-stabbing wail occurred two rows back. “Why can’t Daddy sit with meeeee?”

The man huffed and twisted toward the sound. “Because the airlines said Daddy’s seat is here. You stay with Mommy.”

The child’s whining persisted as people jabbed and jostled through the claustrophobic cabin. It would be a full flight. My temples began to pulse.

One baritone voice pierced the din. “I’ll trade with you.”

I turned to see sandy hair, a chiseled jaw, and piercing blue eyes on the face of a military man. He held his boarding pass in one hand and a khaki duffle bag in the other. It matched his uniform. The Naval emblem on his brass belt buckle glimmered in the late afternoon light as it streamed through the airplane’s portal. Well, this was Hawaii. A bunch of the men onboard wore Navy fatigues. He was being transferred like the rest of them, no doubt.

“Really?” The father lost half of the worry lines on his forehead. “Thanks.”

The sailor hoisted his duffle and a briefcase into the compartment above us and shrugged. “No problem. A seat is a seat.” His eyes dropped to scan me. I pulled my skirt over my knees and shifted my gaze to the tarmac beyond the double-paned oval window.

From the outer edge of my vision, I saw the two exchange positions. In mid-movement, they shook hands. The Navy man smiled. “You should be with your family, man. It’s only right.”

He sat down, adjusted his position to dig the seat belt out from the cushion, and then leaned into my space to click it. The insignia on his left collar resembled a gold tree with a green stone in it. On the right, perched a silver maple leaf. Even though my father was in the Naval Reserves most of my early childhood, I never mastered deciphering rank and emblems. I did remember those two meant he was an officer of some sort and, by the khakis he wore, he’d been out to sea.

I shot him a semi-warm grin. “That was nice of you to do that, um, Lieutenant, is it?”

“Actually, it’s Doctor.”

My mouth formed a small “O.”

He whispered in my direction. “And it was a purely selfish act. Why would I want to sit next to his kid while she blubbered the whole trip?”

My mouth readied to spill my thoughts about his brash remark, until I saw his wink. Instead, I inched my lips to the right in a fake chuckle. “Very funny.”

“I had you. Admit it.” Those crystal blue pools twinkled with mirth. He extended his hand. “Name’s Ryan MacKenzie. Lieutenant in the Navy, for another 48 hours or so.”

I kept mine in my lap and nodded. “Emma West. My friends call me Em.”

“M? For mystery woman?” The sides of his mouth curled upward. His attention briefly focused on my left hand. It was bare, though it had yet to feel that way to me.

“Hardly.” The words croaked from my throat. I placed my right hand on top and blinked the tears back into my eyes. The white mark around my ring finger where the sun had not hit for four years screamed my plight—rejected for another, not good enough.  The warmth and strength of his fingers covered mine. Soft. Clean nails. Surgeon’s hands. He whispered, “Sorry. Forgive my crassness.”

I bobbed my head, and as quickly as the sensation came, it left as he released his touch. Something inside me wanted to grab it back. But that would be ridiculous. I didn’t even know the guy. I closed my eyes and shut out the cabin noises. The horrid scene, which caused my decision to board this flight, replayed in my mind. I’d tossed the two carat, blue-diamond solitaire— courtesy of my father’s checkbook so his daughter would wear a decent stone—at Trey’s head as it lay tousled on the bed pillows next to another’s, obviously not mine. She scrambled to the bathroom, wrapped in a bed sheet. He pleaded it had been a one time lapse of judgment. I seriously doubted that. Living in two different cities almost four thousand miles apart had taken its toll. How could I have been so naïve?

Above our heads, the seat belt sign dinged off. Airborne. My teeth pinched my lower lip as I observed the island chain disappear amongst the clouds. I always hated good-byes. This one had been final. I’d never be back. The vice grip around my chest crushed my heart some more. Dear God in Heaven, don’t let this naval doctor see me cry. I swallowed the saliva in my mouth in an effort to force the puddles under my eyelids back as well.

He broke the silence. “You okay? Your face seems rather blue.”

Had I put on navy liner and mascara that day? Did it streak down my face? I wiped my finger across my under-eye skin then peered at it. No, not very smudged.

He chuckled. “I meant blue as in down. You know, perturbed. If I offended you.”

I returned my gaze to the wisp of clouds. The sun’s rays infused them with gold. The delicate celestial waves shimmered like a pearl-seed edged lace veil, one I’d never wear now. “It’s not you. I just hated to leave, that’s all.” I turned to him with a forced smile. “But, Spring Break’s over. Back to the grind.”

“Are you, uh, in school?” His eyes narrowed inside his scrunched eyebrows.

“Is that so hard to believe?”

He coughed into his fist. “Well, I mean people go back all the time, I…”

His stumble-stepping over his words brought a chuckle to my lips, though a small one. “I teach at the community college.” With a tilt of my head, I parroted his previous jab. “Admit it. I got you.”

His facial muscles relaxed. “Touché.”

Julie Cosgrove

Julie B Cosgrove is an award-winning novelist, freelance Christian devotional writer and public speaker.  When she is not writing novels, she enjoys reading those by other faith-based authors  while curled on her sofa with her two purring cats and a cup of Earl Grey.  Visit her website www.juliebcosgrove.com and her devotional blog: Where Did You Find God Today?

Guest Release—Ghost In The Rain by Marie Treanor

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A haunted Highland house, battered by storms and murder…

Arriving at remote Invershiel House in the Scottish Highlands, researcher Kate Yorke is fascinated by the reclusive and troubled owner – notorious rocker Dan Stewart. Dan is haunted by the deaths of his fellow band members, especially his ex- lover Islay Lamont, whose shade seems to flit around the in the rain.

Then Kate trips over a dead body which inexplicably vanishes. It becomes a race against time to find the identity of the body and the killer. And to discover if she and Danny have any kind of future together. Or even at all…

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

B&N

Kobo

i-Books

EXCERPT

I had to acknowledge that my peace was churned up by his unexpected presence here. It wasn’t even an unpleasant feeling; in fact it felt rather…exciting. But it was disturbing.

I took off my glasses and rubbed my eyes. I suspected Dan Stewart carried such disturbance wherever he went. If I thought about it, the whole house felt different now. As if its peace had gone too; as if it had sprung to life, eager, waiting.

Mocking my own silly fantasy, I stood abruptly and paced around the room, trying to recover my lost concentration. I suspected I was just tired and would work much faster and much better after a good night’s sleep.

I paused by the window to watch the storm. Although the thunder had stopped, the wind and rain were still blasting the trees and rattling the window. Close-up, I could feel the draught through my thick sweater. On impulse, I retrieved my phone from my bag and tried to capture the raging storm on its camera. But it looked too tame on the screen, not deep or dark enough, no real movement in those black clouds still scudding and swirling across the sky. I wished I could paint. For a moment, I even wished I could be part of it, to go outside in it again. There was nothing to stop me, except common sense.

I smiled to myself and lowered the phone, just as a movement in the garden below caught my eye. Someone was out in this. Someone not remotely dressed for it either. Through the darkness and the almost opaque mist of rain, I could make out only that it seemed to be a woman wearing only some kind of floating, white, wispy garment, more like the loungewear of wealthy women of past centuries than anything anyone would wear today for any purpose. The odd garment shimmered as the figure glided across the lawn, impossibly graceful.

On impulse, I raised my phone again and snapped.

Perhaps she moved too quickly. Nothing of her showed on the screen except an indistinct blur of light against blackness. Frowning, I looked again out of the window, but the woman had gone. Vanished.

Gone back inside if she’s got any sense whatsoever.

I could tell myself that, and believe it. I just couldn’t quite silence the tiny voice in my head that whispered I might just have seen a ghost…

And then, before I could laugh myself back to sceptical normality, another figure strode into view. Two figures. A man and a large dog. The dog was trotting along at his side, sniffing the grass. Even in darkness, the man was unmistakably Dan Stewart. He seemed to be wearing the same old khaki jacket. I could see the rain running off him in rivulets. It hadn’t seemed to touch the ghostly woman…

He stopped, gazing ahead, and slowly turned as if looking for something, or someone. Just for a moment, I was tempted. I even raised my phone hand. But it felt too wrong to take a picture of him without permission in his own home. He was facing the house now and without warning, he tipped back his head and caught me staring down at him.

I felt frozen in that distant gaze. Forcing myself, I gave a feeble wave and dragged my eyes free towards the black, wooded hills and the furiously scudding sky. Still, I was aware of him striding back towards the house. I even heard his voice calling to the dog which loped after him.

Restlessly, I abandoned the window. I needed to go to bed. My eyes, my mind, were all far too tired.

Ellie had been quite blasé about leaving the letters out of their locked cabinet. “Even if anyone knew about them, who’d steal them round here?” she’d said reasonably. I took her at her word and just stuffed my own notebook into my bag before picking it up and heading for the closed door, where I paused, because I could hear footsteps pounding up the stairs.

My heart drumming, I waited for them to pass before I left the room. They strode closer, along the hall, and I held my breath. He’d go past; he must go past…

The door flew open, and Dan Stewart stood there, scowling at me. Raindrops stood out on his wet hair and clothes.

No, he wasn’t pretty. But there was something devastatingly attractive about that rough, bony face and those big, grey eyes that seemed much darker than before.

“Did you take any pictures?” he asked abruptly.

I blinked. “Sorry?”

“Pictures,” he repeated. “With your phone.”

I lifted my chin. “No,” I said. “I’m not that rude. Or crass.”

His frown deepened for an instant, and then his whole face relaxed into a grin. “Not of me. I wouldn’t wish that on you. I mean before I went out?”

The dog, a large, hairy creature of indeterminate breed, pushed past his legs and regarded me, wagging his tail.

“I took some pictures of the storm,” I said with as much dignity as I could muster, before I gave in and held out my hand to the dog.

In much more peremptory fashion, Dan Stewart held out his hand to me. “Can I see them?”

I paused with my hand on the dog’s head, feeling my hackles rise. I straightened, no doubt glaring my outrage, but his eyes and his hand remained steady. I curled my lip, a trick I’d recently discovered was quite famous for taming unruly students, and took the phone from my bag, slapping it into his palm.

Marie_Pub

Marie Treanor lives in Scotland – in a picturesque village by the sea – with her eccentric husband, three much-too-smart children and a small puppy who rules them all. Marie is the award winning author of over forty paranormal romances – Indie, New York and E-published.

 

Email: Marie@MarieTreanor.com.

Website: www.MarieTreanor.com.

Subscribe to Marie’s New Release Mailing List: http://www.marietreanor.com/marie-treanor-newsletter/ .

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Marie-Treanor-Paranormal-Romance/105866982782360.

Follow on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarieTreanor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/marietreanor/

Guest Interview—Hywela Lyn

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I was born and lived most of my life in Rural Wales, although I have lived in a small English village, since my marriage. I love the outdoors and animals, and enjoyed many happy hours riding in the hills in my native Wales, the beautiful landscapes and colourful myths and legends inspired much of my writing. I have always loved the stars, and although I started out writing Western historicals, I became fascinated by the idea of travelling in space, and exploring distant worlds and began writing Science Fiction Romance – I always say ‘Space Opera’ which is how I would categorize my writing, is really a ‘Western’ in space with starships instead of horses and aliens instead of Native Americans.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Romance that’s ‘Out Of This World’ (although a few of my stories are set on this world but in a distant time either far back in the past, or in the future.)

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

Reading (of course.) As I said earlier, I love the outdoors, walking with my dog and caring for my two horses. Although I learnt to ride ‘English’ style, when Western Riding became more popular in the UK, I bought a Western saddle (from an endurance rider) and changed disciplines. Western riding is so comfortable and relaxed, and my horses converted to it very easily. I completed several endurance rides myself, using Western tack, and even bought a specially reinforced ‘Stetson’ as my mare, T’pau, although sweet, is very spooky an we’ve parted company a few times. At one time I used to sketch and paint, but don’t have time for that any more, unfortunately.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Usually the characters come to me first, then the setting and the plot sort of evolves around them. I always think the characters tell me the story as we go along.

Do you use visual aids (storyboards, Pinterest, collages) when plotting or writing?

I usually like to find a picture of my hero and heroine and keep it in front of me as I write.  I don’t find a suitable picture I will make a quick sketch, it just helps to flesh out the character in my mind. In ‘Beloved Enemy’ I had already found the male model I wanted for my cover ‘Jimmy Thomas’. The picture I found conveyed exactly the right image for my ‘tortured hero.’ The female model was a little harder to find, but the one I found suited the main character perfectly. I was lucky in that my cover artist used both the  pictures I chose and incorporated them into the cover.

In what genre do you read?

I love reading Science Fiction naturally, but I also enjoy historical Westerns, Romantic suspense, and adventures stories. I will actually read almost anything if it has good characters and holds my attention.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

I couldn’t be without an animal or two. I have two horses, Harri and T’pau.  Harry is a black Welsh Cob and T’pau is a chestnut and white ‘Paint/American Quarterhorse. ‘Dusty’ the stable cat, does the ‘mousework and vermin control.   I also have a rather manic ‘rescue’ terrier called Choccy. He is the sweetest, most affectionate little dog, but unfortunately was kept locked up for the first two years of his life, and as a consequence was never ‘socialised’ with other dogs. It’s taken over a year and a lot of patience, but he’s now reached the stage where he will see another dog and approach it happily, instead of barking furiously and spinning in circles. He’s very clever and learns quickly, and when I’m not out with the horses, I take him for long walks in the woods or across the fields, and he just loves to chase a ball and play ‘fetch’.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

I would love to think that readers would enjoy reading about my characters, and be left with a feeling of hope for the future, and the triumph of good over evil, and that they will feel the same sense of satisfaction when the main characters finally get their ‘happy ever after’ as I did writing it.

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Cat Kincaid is obsessed with killing the man she believes is responsible for the torture and death of her sister, but when she eventually catches up with him, survival becomes a greater priority than revenge.

Kerry Marchant, haunted by memories, regret and self-blame, shields himself from the pain of the past by committing himself totally to the starship, Destiny, of which he is part owner. However, the beautiful, red haired woman who reminds him of his lost love, and who he suspects is working for a corrupt regime, represents a possible threat not only to the ship, but to his heart.

Marooned on an inhospitable planet, they need to work together to stay alive, fighting not only unknown assailants, but their growing attraction. But how can they learn to trust each other when he has vowed never to get close to a woman again, and she made a solemn pledge to destroy him?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Amazon UK

The Wild Rose Press

Giveaway

Thank you so much for having me here today – I wonder how many readers think we will one day explore the stars?  I’m looking forward to your views and will give a $6.00 Wild Rose Press Certificate to the most interesting answer.

EXCERPT

Before she could activate the weapon, Kerry let off another barrage of plasma bolts into the river. He leapt toward her and ripped the severed tentacle from her leg. It flapped around on the wet grass. She scrambled to her knees, still slightly winded, and fired at the hideous thing. The foliage around it flared briefly with an eerie green flame, and the tentacle shrivelled into a slimy black mass, emitting a pungent odour and causing her to gag.

“It seems I was mistaken about the creature being dead.” Kerry prodded the smouldering mass with his boot and looked across over the water. “It is now.” He leaned down and grasped her wrist to haul her to her feet. “Are you hurt?”

“No, I don’t think so.” Her shoulder was sore and probably bruised but she’d live.

She tried to control her shivering. The incident affected her more than she wanted to admit. Kerry’s proximity—naked to the waist, his lithe body shining from the water droplets that still clung to his skin, and his legs swathed in tight black leather—did nothing to help. The last thing she wanted was for him to realize how scared she’d been when she thought a snake attacked her.

“Thanks. That was close. It would have been a bit ironic if I’d been killed by the same creature I saved you from.”

She realized he still grasped her wrist. She tried to move away, but he pulled her back, obliging her to turn to him.

“You’re trembling.”

“I’m fine.”

“No,” he said. “You’re not.” He pulled her closer and his eyes softened, his gaze holding her mesmerized. She opened her mouth to try to speak, but in the same instant, he put his hand under her chin and his lips closed over hers.

Snippet from 5 Start Review – Books By Beverly

“Cat comes to Kerry and his party’s rescue. If anyone is going to kill him it will be her.

I haven’t read the first two in the series but Beloved Enemy is a stand alone. A good one!”

Hywela Lyn

Hywela Lyn lives in a small village in England, with her long-suffering husband Dave, although her heart remains in her native rural Wales. Although most her writing tends to be futuristic, the worlds she creates are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature.

WEBSITE  –     http://www.hywelalyn.co.uk

BLOG  –            http://www.hywelalyn.blogspot.com

FACEBOOK – https://www.facebook.com/HywelaLynAuthor?ref=hl

                  https://www.facebook.com/HywelaLyn

TWITTER –        https://twitter.com/Hywela_Lyn

GOODREADS –  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1422651.Hywela_Lyn

 

Her first novel, Starquest, a futuristic romance released by The Wild Rose Press was followed by a sequel Children Of The Mist. Her recently released third novel Beloved Enemy, continues what has now become a series known as ‘The Destiny Trilogy’.

 

She is a member of The Romance Novelists’ Association (UK)  and Chiltern Writers, her local writing group. A keen animal lover, when she is not writing, she can usually be found enjoying the outdoors with the horses and dog – or just  eating chocolate!

Guest Interview—Barbara Burke

Welcome to an author friend from The Wild Rose Press.

Tell us a bit about you and your background.

I’m a freelance journalist. I started out working as a reporter for a weekly newspaper and when I moved away I branched out on my own. But many years ago, when I was in university, I had a naïve plan to write a romance to finance a career as a ‘real’ writer. My manuscript was rejected, not surprisingly. Since then I’ve become a little more humble and maybe even a little wiser and I thought I’d give it another shot. It’s worked out much better this time.

What’s the logline that describes your writing?

Barbara Burke’s characters fall in love with their brains, not their bodies.

What are your hobbies away from the computer?

I like to hike and sail, which makes me sound all outdoorsy and that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Really I like to read and do cryptic crossword puzzles and drink red wine.

Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?

Heads or tails? You can’t have just one side of a coin.

Is your writing style planned or freestyle?

Again, I can’t pick just one. I start off with an idea of plot and character and then see how they negotiate their way to the end of the story.

If you use music while writing, name your favorite types.

I need absolute silence or I’ll start singing along (even if it’s an instrumental piece) and that can completely change the mood of what I’m writing.

What is the starting point for research—story concept or when you get stuck while writing?

There is no starting point for research. I’m doing it constantly.

Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?

Yes, but I’ve travelled to a lot more places that were the setting for books I’ve loved over the years.

Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?

I don’t get stuck creating a story. I get stuck in the dreaded middle bit where you know where the story came from and you know where it’s going, but it seems to be spending all its time playing solitaire instead of progressing.

What was your biggest surprise in the editing/revision process?

I don’t think there were any. Everyone needs an editor. EVERYONE.

Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).

Write a few lines. Check email. Write a few lines. Move the cat off the keyboard (and check email). Write a few lines. Have lunch. Write a few lines. Move the cat from in front of the computer screen (and check email). Et cetera.

Do you write in a genre other than the one of this release?

I have all kinds of unfinished novels and I’m a freelance journalist. I get antsy if I’m spending all my time writing fiction and I get antsy if I’m spending all my time writing non-fiction.

What’s your dream vacation destination?

It depends on the time of year, but generally speaking it would be somewhere with lots of history, outdoor cafes and a beach.

Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?

Yes. At the moment three cats, a snake, a tankful of fish and a horse.

What do you hope readers gain from your stories?

A feeling of satisfaction at the end. I don’t write insightful or deep. I’m just trying to entertain, not enlighten.

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When ARP warden Molly sees a light shining through the darkness of London on a cold winter’s night in the middle of the blitz she’s infuriated with the careless American who struck it. Doesn’t he know there’s a war on?

Guy’s just trying to find his way through a maze of unlit streets. He’s very sorry and Molly reluctantly forgives him. When he accompanies her on her nightly rounds the two learn about each other, themselves and whether it’s really possible to fall in love in only one night – especially when there’s no guarantee of tomorrow.

BUY LINKS

Amazon

The Wild Rose Press

EXCERPT

They stood silently. Slowly her hand came out of her pocket to rest on the top of his arm. The other one reached up to gently touch his cheek. He could see the glint of her eyes, those impossible brown eyes, as she gazed up at him gravely.

“Are you going to kiss me?” Her cool British voice gave him no inclination of how she felt.

“Is that what you want?” Guy wasn’t sure what he would do if the answer was no.

She didn’t reply, and he took that for her answer. Quickly he undid the clasp on her helmet and pulled it away, letting it drop to the ground without a thought. Free of its weight, she tilted her face up, her lips dark and full in the black night, and settled more deeply into his grasp.

It was invitation enough.

He bent his head toward her.

Her lips were soft and cold. Willing, but tentative. Her arms circled his neck, and he pulled her to him more tightly, body to body despite the thick winter clothing they both wore.

The night suddenly got a lot warmer.

The kiss didn’t last long. It was too sweet to be sustained, and they were too new to the sensation to change it into something more. As soon as Guy sensed Molly withdrawing, he broke it off.

But he didn’t release her. And she made no move to pull away.

“Was that a mistake?” he asked.

“No.” Molly sounded quite sure, and Guy’s heart soared. But then she continued, “However, repeating it might be.”

SNIPPET OF REVIEW

I absolutely loved this book! Ms. Burke descriptions of London in 1941 were so clear and concise, I felt like I was there. The historical accuracy of this story was spot on. ~~Amazon review

Barbara Burke - CopyBarbara Burke’s peripatetic life means she’s lived everywhere from a suburban house in a small town to a funky apartment in a big city, and from an architecturally designed estate deep in the forest to a cedar shack on the edge of the ocean. Everywhere she’s gone she’s been accompanied by her husband, her animals and her books.

WEB CONTACTS

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Guest Release—Forever And Always by Susanne Matthews

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Ballet is the only thing Brandi Alexandra Jameson has ever known. When an accident leaves her dance partner dead and herself unable to dance again, she tries to accept the situation, but some pain goes too deep to be set aside so easily. Lost, alone, frightened, all she wants to do is hide away, but her family has a different idea.

Jarrett Sullivan has been in love with Brandi from the first day he saw her and blacked a kid’s eye for calling her names. Shy, unsure of himself, he stayed in the background, looking out for her, but before he could make his move, she left Victoria for the stage in Toronto. Now that she’s back, he’ll do whatever it takes to win her heart. After badgering her sister, he earns the right to escort the woman he’s always wanted to the event of the year.

When Brandi discovers Jarrett paid an exorbitant amount for an Alexandra Jameson poster, she assumes he’s lied to her and is nothing but another crazed fan. Her heart broken she flees Victoria and ends up in Geneva where she hopes to learn to cope with what’s happened to her.

Can Jarrett find her and explain what happened or will a spiteful woman’s half-truths keep them apart forever?

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Solstice Publishing

EXCERPT

“You’re here and dressed for the occasion,” Jane said, her grin so wide it split her face. “I almost expected you to back out.”

“I came close,” Brandi answered, leaning into him for support. “But I figured you wouldn’t let me and, as I’ve learned on the way over, he would’ve dragged me here as you’d requested.”

“Not sure he’d have gone that far,” Jane laughed, winking at him. “But, I’m sure he’d have tried to persuade you to attend. Now, come on over here and say hello to everyone.”

Brandi followed her sister into the room, leaning on him for support even though she held her cane with her left forearm and hand.

“Auntie B!” The small ball of energy dressed in red and white chiffon separated herself from her father and ran toward her, almost knocking Brandi down with her exuberant hug.

“Whoa, munchkin,” Brandi said, and laughed. “I’m not that steady on my feet, yet. Don’t you look pretty?”

The vivacious, tiny brunette, hands above her head, pirouetted to show off her fancy dress.

Jarrett watched Brandi blink away tears. Would she ever be able to see this without hurting?

“I learned that at dance class. I even stood on my tippy-toes,” Hope said. “It’s called a parette. I’m going to be a ballerina, just like you one day.”

“You’ll be a much better dancer than me,” Brandi answered and smiled. “Now, tell me about your beautiful dress.”

“Nana bought it for me. I look like a princess.”

“You do,” she agreed.

“Come on, Hope,” Jane said, her face slightly flushed. “You can talk to Aunt B later. Right now, they have games and prizes for the kids in the salon.”

The child clapped her hands and reached up to take her mother’s. She waved at them as they left the room.

“Nice to see you again, Jarrett. Thanks for bringing my girl here,” Phil Jameson said, reaching for his daughter.

Jarrett reluctantly let go of her and moved out of the way, but stayed close by her side. She was his date tonight, and he wanted every one of the ravenous wolves in the room, looking at her as if she were the blue plate special, to know it.

“You look wonderful, darling,” her dad said, kissing her. “How’s the house?”

“It’s great. You did a magnificent job.”

“Not me,” he said, and chuckled. “Your escort here did all the work.”

“Why didn’t you mention that on the drive over?” she asked, turning to look up at him.

His face heated. This was another thing he’d hoped to keep quiet. The last thing he wanted was for her to feel beholden to him.

“It wasn’t very much really—moving a few walls, redoing the bathroom, putting in sturdier staircases and railings, refinishing the woodwork and staining the wood furniture to match—and it isn’t as if I did all of the work myself.”

He’d done most of it though, considering it a labor of love.

“Of course not. You’re the boss, but I appreciate it. Please tell your men how happy I am with everything.”

“I’ll pass it along,” he said, trying not to preen.

Brandi turned to her father once more.

“I’m more solid on my feet now but, after a while, I get tired and when I do, my back aches, the way it did after a particularly, grueling rehearsal.”

“Jarrett,” a silver-haired woman in black stepped up beside Phil and extended her hand. “Thank you so much for picking her up.”

“It was my pleasure, Reverend Jameson,” he answered.

“Please, call me Clarice. After all, we’re almost family.”

She reached over and pulled Brandi into a tight hug and then held her at arms’ length. “Darling, you look lovely, but you’re still too thin.”

“Mom, you saw me just last week.” The exasperation in Brandi’s voice was clear. “I can’t gain weight that quickly….”

“I know, but you’re even smaller than you were when you danced.” Clarice’s face turned a deep red. “I’m so sorry….”

“Mom, it’s okay. I used to be a prima ballerina. Now, I’m not. I’ve accepted that. We can’t keep dancing around the elephant in the room, pardon the pun.”

Susanne Matthews

Canadian author Susanne Matthews lives in Cornwall, Ontario. A retired educator, she spends her time writing and creating adventures for her readers. She loves the ins and outs of romance, and the complex journey it takes to get from the first word to the last period of a novel.

Follow Susanne on her:  Website    Blog    Facebook page    Twitter @jandsmatt

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