Saturday, November 30, 2013

High Stakes Gamble (Vegas Series, Book 4) by Mimi Barbour Review

Title: High Stakes Gamble
Series: Vegas Series, Book 4
Author: Mimi Barbour
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Pages: 174
Price: $0.99 or FREE for Prime Members
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

Aurora and Kai will be back together in this thrilling romantic suspense. Conflict throws a wrench into the love affair that began in "Roll the Dice," and it isn't certain whether these two characters will overcome their differences. Kai, detained as an undercover agent to clear the streets of L.A. from the power of a dangerous mob, is finally free after eleven months. He returns to Vegas with the intentions of taking up a parenting role with his and Aurora's child--if his feisty partner doesn't shoot him first.

Aurora questions how Kai could leave her without any discussion as to why she made a certain decision that broke his trust. She tries to believe in her purse-carrying cowboy, but as the months pass and he stays away with no word, her love turns to hate and her trust withers. Thankfully, her role as a new mom takes precedence over anything else in her life, even her much-loved job as a Las Vegas Detective. This helps to heal the wounds her heart suffered until sick predators, stealing babies for profit, force these two into being partners once again when their own child is kidnapped. Will working together again reignite them in this gripping, fast-paced story?  
Review:

This series has been a real page-turner throughout all the books and book 4 is no different. Not only is there the struggle of Aurora trying to cope with a child and Kai who's gone missing, but then there's the suspense of their baby getting kidnapped. Can the two come together, work things out, AND save their child? My lips are sealed. You'll have to read the book to find out. If you love romantic suspense, I highly recommend this series.

Claus of Death (A Myrtle Crumb Mystery) by Gayle Trent Review

Title: Claus of Death
Series: Myrtle Crumb Mystery Series
Author: Gayle Trent
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 105
Price: $0.99 or FREE for Prime Members
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

Myrtle Crumb, the sassy, sixty-something sleuth from BETWEEN A CLUTCH AND A HARD PLACE and WHEN GOOD BRAS GO BAD, is suspicious when the mall Santa is found dead "on the throne"--the Santa Land throne, that is. The police are saying it was suicide, but Myrtle knows no self-respecting Santa Claus would let himself die in front of the children! She goes undercover to investigate the suicide and uncovers more than she bargained for!

Review:

I read, no that's not right, devoured this book in one afternoon. Myrtle is an absolute hoot. Being a Southern girl, I couldn't help but giggle at some of the references the character uses and how she rattles on. This was the first book I'd read in the Myrtle Crumb Mystery Series and now I must go back and read the others. Whether you're looking for a mystery or a good holiday read, you're going to love this book.

This Man and Woman (Vampire Assassin League #6) by Jackie Ivie Review

Title: This Man and Woman
Series: Vampire Assassin League, Book 6
Author: Jackie Ivie
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Pages: 75
Price: $1.99
Rating: 4 out 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

WE KILL FOR PROFIT
NO QUESTIONS ASKED

THE CAVALIER
Vampire Jean-Pierre de Margolis is a romantic. Lonely. His free time spent wandering the earth in search of the one thing he craves and cannot locate: His mate - the person that will make him whole. Nothing else about this afterlife appeals to a man of his talents. Amid penning poems to his missing love, he prowls the nights, honing his abilities as a master swordsman and a deadly duelist. If only he could find her...

THE NINJA
Takaiya isn't just talented, she's deadly. As an honored member of a hidden warrior clan, she's spent two decades honing her abilities and perfecting her skill in the ancient arts. No one would ever guess the innocent-looking translator attached to the Japanese Embassy has a secret side - one that deals death. And that's exactly as she likes it...

THE DUEL
When the Vampire Assassin League gifts Jean-Pierre with a perfect Samurai sword, one of the few known as a 'five-body' blade, nobody realizes they've trafficked in stolen goods. That is - not until Takaiya is given the mission of retrieval of the sword - at whatever cost. An easy task until she finds the sword in the hands of a Frenchman with a penchant for swordplay and a flare for the melodramatic. Now, if he'd just die...

Review:

This Man and Woman is another unique paranormal romance from Jackie Ivie. While I didn't like it as much books 4 and 5, it was still an enjoyable read. Women that adore Frenchmen are going to love this one. it also features a strong female lead that will stop at nothing to get what she wants. The only problem is that neither will the Frenchman. If you're looking for a sexy, paranormal romance. The Vampire Assassin League doesn't disappoint.

My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy) by Tellulah Darling

My Date From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy) by Tellulah Darling
$0.99

Sophie Bloom’s junior year has been a bit of a train wreck. After the world’s greatest kiss re-awakened Sophie’s true identity as Persephone (Goddess of Spring and Savior of Humanity), she fought her dragon-lady guidance counselor to the death, navigated mean girl Bethany’s bitchy troublemaking, and dealt with the betrayal of her backstabbing ex, Kai (sexy Prince of Darkness). You’d think a girl could catch a break.

Yeah, right.

With Zeus stepping things up, it’s vital that Sophie retrieve Persephone’s memories and discover the location of the ritual to stop Zeus and Hades. So when Aphrodite strikes a deal that can unlock Sophie’s pre-mortal past, what choice does the teen goddess have but to accept?

The mission: stop media mogul Hermes from turning Bethany into a global mega-celebrity. The catch? Aphrodite partners Sophie and Kai to work together … and treat this suicide mission as a date. Which could work out for Sophie’s plan to force Kai to admit his feelings for her–if she doesn’t kill him first.

Add to that the fact that BFF Theo’s love life and other BFF Hannah’s actual life are in Sophie’s hands, and suddenly being a teenager—even a godlike one—seems a bit like … well, hell. Whatever happened to dinner and a movie?

The YA romantic comedy/Greek mythology fireworks continue to fly in My Date From Hell. Love meets comedy with a whole lot of sass in book two of this teen fantasy romance series. Breaking up is easy; dating is deadly.

Excerpt:

Aphrodite pointed her gun at me again, kind of casually. “Your problem is
you’re too hung up on the past. You gotta move forward with yer life.”
I heard Hannah give a smothered laugh.
“You got this cutie pie in love with ya, and instead of enjoying his company,
all you do is whine.” With a quick flick, Aphrodite opened the cylinder to
reload.
“He’s not in love,” I said.
She peered at Kai. “Whattya talkin’ about? Sure he is. Everyone knows
Kyrillos loves Persephone.”
“I’m Sophie,” I ground out.
She waved the gun around. “Ya ya. That too.”
That too? I took a deep breath, folded my fingers over my palms and looked
slightly to the left of her in case I accidentally started blasting. Didn’t want to
go down in history as the girl who killed the Goddess of Love.
“Nope. It’s just desire,” I said with faked calm. “Kai is so resistant to the idea
of being in love with me that your arrows don’t work. Besides which, when he
actually does fall so hard for me that he doesn’t know which way is up, I want him
to know he chose that of his own free will. That he chose me.” I threw him a
sweet smile.
“Chose you?” Kai got this look of “have we had this conversation before?” on
his face. My smile got tight.
Aphrodite scooped up a saclike pink purse laying on the ground. She rooted
around in it. “Desire is part of romantic love, silly,” she said to me.
She pulled out a handful of bullets and dumped them in Festos’ hurriedly
outstretched hands before turning back to Kai. She gestured with the still-open
chambered revolver toward him. “Your body knows what’s what. Stop fighting
it.”
Kai glowered at her.
She laughed it off, reloading. “And you,” Aphrodite said to me, as she
plucked more bullets from Festos’ hand to load into the chamber. “Yer just as
bad with your own issues.”
She couldn’t know about my insecurities around Persephone could she?
Aphrodite narrowed her eyes at me.
I gulped.
Aphrodite shot me a look of disgust and popped the final bullets into the
chambers. She gestured at each of us in turn with one pink, sparkly manicured
finger. “I’m gonna start gettin’ real mad about how youse is all dealin’ with
love.”
“There’s a whole bunch of drags around here where love is concerned,”
Festos agreed.
“Thanks so much for inviting him along,” Theo said to me.
I grimaced an apology at Theo, then shot back at Festos, “Seems there’s a
whole bunch of dogs here, too.” I looked between him and Kai.
“Oh don’t forget Pierce,” Festos replied cheerfully. “He’s a total mimbo.”
“He is not,” Hannah defended. “He’s pure love.”
Aphrodite threw her a fond smile. “I like you, girlie.”
“Love in name, hormones in game,” Theo countered.
“Look at us all in agreement,” Festos replied.
“No, because you’re talking about lust,” I protested.
“Lust is pretty good too,” Aphrodite said, “but it ain’t nothin’ like the real
thing.” She clicked the cylinder into place and looked at me. “We got a deal?
You’ll get Jack to kill the campaign?”
“You’ll undo the love thing?” I asked.
“Nope. You could do with a little love in your life. Kyrillos is obviously
brimming with love for ya now,” she ignored Kai’s snort, “so you’re gonna
enjoy it.”
“Meaning what?” I asked.
“A date,” Kai piped up. “I’d say I’m ready now.” He arched an eyebrow as if
to say “ball’s in your court.”
“I think it’s a great idea,” I slid my arm around his waist and pressed myself
up against his side.
A look of surprise flashed across his face. “Perfect.”
I could outdate him any place, any time. I brightened. This was going to be
fun. The touching part wasn’t a downside either.
“The fate of the world does dee-pend on you loving each other,” Aphrodite
said. “So, good. We’ll start with a date.”
“Still say it’s a euphemism,” Festos burst out. “And Kai doesn’t date.”
Kai snaked his arm around my waist before pressing his fingertips into my
hip. “Never wanted to before. Sophie’s the exception.”
“The euphemistic exception?” Festos asked.
“Shut up,” Kai and I fired at him in tandem.
Festos took it in stride, waggling his eyebrows cheerfully at Theo who
pretended to look disapproving but totally wasn’t. Even Hannah didn’t bother
to hide her smile.
“Only thing is,” I told Aphrodite, “I have to be back at school by Sunday
morning. I have a meeting I can’t miss. So I’ll have to get this thing with Jack
done quickly to have time for the date.”
“Going together to find Hermes is the date.” Aphrodite looked at me like I
was an idiot. “You two need as much together time as possible.”
No way. I needed all my wits about me to handle Kai. Something that
couldn’t happen if I had to track down Hermes at the same time. I tried a new
tactic. “A date involves dinner and a movie. Something romantic. Finding
Hermes hardly counts.”
She pinned me in her gaze. “Had so miny of them, Miz Expert? All a date is,
is two people spendin’ time to deepen their attraction.”
“Or kill it,” Hannah piped up.
Aphrodite scrunched up her nose. “Huh?”
“There are far more first dates than second,” Hannah explained. “Which
means that after spending time, those people realized they were not a match.”
“What she said,” I seconded.
Aphrodite narrowed her eyes at Hannah. “I don’t get ya. You talk like that
but you’re so brim up with love.”
“I’m a confounding enigma,” Hannah replied cheerfully.
Aphrodite threw her hands up. “Enough’a this nonsense. You’ll go together
to find Hermes. And you’ll be date-like doin’ it.”
That sounded like a threat.
“Almost like you planned it that way,” I said to Kai.
His smile grew wider as he gave my waist a squeeze. “Told you I get what I
want. Feel free to let that sink in.”

Imperfect Pairings by Jackie Townsend Chapter 1

Imperfect Pairings by Jackie Townsend
$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members

An encounter with an Italian leads a woman down a path of love and self discovery.

Smart, career driven Jamie had not intended to fall in love. And to a foreigner no less, an Italian who doesn't reveal his heritage at first. Jack is short for John, he tells her, but she soon discovers that John is short for Giovanni. Insanely handsome and intense but unreadable, Giovanni is a man of few words. When after two months together she accompanies him to his cousin s wedding in Italy, Jamie learns that he hasn't been back to the troubled family estate in ten years, but with one step upon the rich Italian soil covered in ancient vines, it's as if he never left. Suddenly his language is no longer her language, and Jamie is drawn inexplicably into an Italy that outsiders rarely see--a crumbling villa, an old family scandal, a tragic mother, an estranged father, and a host of spirited Italian cousins. Jack is finally forced to face the destiny he's been renouncing; and Jamie makes a rash decision, unaware that it will change her life forever.

Chapter 1
LA MAMMA

The wheels lift off the tarmac and suddenly his name is not one syllable but three: Jack, now a melodic Giovanni, as it might be sung in an Italian opera. This is somewhat baffling for Jamie, who until this moment had known him as a man who kept his heritage secured in the vault of his boot-shaped soul. He’d get struck with a primal need to eat pasta every once in a while, but otherwise, if Jamie mentioned an Italian restaurant for dinner, he’d redirect the discussion to Chinese or Thai. If an Italian tourist asked him in struggling English for directions on the street, he’d answer in struggling English. He has American friends, at work at least. In fact, when she first met him she’d thought he was American. On his voice mail he sounds American. No Rs are rolled.
Jack is short for John, he tells people. True, but John is Gian in Italian, short for Giovanni, the name she’d discovered on his passport only this evening. This was just before they boarded their Alitalia flight, when the stewardess greeted the Italian couple before them with a “buona sera e buon viaggio,” and then proceeded to greet Jack with a “Good evening and welcome.” Vaffanculo brutta stronza non vedi che sono italiano pure io came rumbling through Jamie’s inner ear. “Buona sera signorina,” is what the stewardess then heard, in Giovanni’s very polite but make-no-mistake-about-my-identity voice. “Scusi, scusi, mi scusi,” the goddess clamored. “Nessun problema,” he assured her, and the two fell into a melodic exchange while Jamie stood there staring because she never heard Jack’s voice so natural, so content before.
After the plane levels off and they finish their first glass of business class prosecco (upgrades via Jamie’s unused, ever-growing stock of American Express points), the little fight they’d gotten into in the terminal, perhaps their first, is long forgotten. (He had insisted on holding her ticket and passport. “This may be my first trip to Italy, she’d scoffed, “but it’s not as if I’ve never flown before.” The weird thing she still can’t get over is that she’d given in and handed them to him.) Now their seats are extended far back and Jack/Giovanni is talking more than she’s ever known him to, perhaps more than she ever wanted him to, because something about the word great-grandfather makes her sleepy. Bisnonno is how they say it in Italian. “Bisnonno made a fortune in steel.”
Apparently her affliction crosses languages: she immediately yawns and her eyes fill with water––“must be that all-nighter at work,” she says, but Giovanni continues, “He bought Villa Ruffoli in the 1920s as a summer home for his extended family, a way for everyone to convene and escape the city’s suffocating heat.” In fact, I should get out my briefcase and start drafting those e-mails.
“…Bisnonno had four sons…” Something in the fervent rise and fall of his voice, more so than his words, is absorbing her subconscious. Like a dream, snippets are getting through. “…Federico ran sales out of Milan, Peter went to the war, another took over operations in Asti, and my grandfather, Nonno Giacomo, became CEO with headquarters in Torino. There were uncles and second cousins in Milano and Abruzzi, Godparents in Rome...” At one point Jamie has to tell him to go back a couple of generations, because she’s lost.
“And this is just my mother’s side…” he turns at her and smiles that taunting, alluring smile, and just like that, it’s as if he’s reached in and touched her heart. “Go on,” she tells him.
“I’m boring you.”
“Please.”
Gazing at their entwined hands, he continues. “There were never less than twenty people at the dinner table. Nonno Giacomo sat at the head, me, the oldest grandchild, to his right, always. It was my job to taste the wine in case it tasted like vinegar.” He looks pointedly at Jamie here. “It often tasted like vinegar.
“The meal was chaos, always a plethora of debates going on at once: which cow produced the best cheese, politics I didn’t understand, why the farmer screwed up the wine or the cook ruined the chicken; the latest scandals at the company, who was sleeping with whom. Meanwhile, Nonno Giacomo, bored by all this nonsense, entertained himself by doodling on paper napkins that he would pass to me under the table. I’d have to use all my strength not to burst out laughing at some of those sketches of Zia Maddalena’s breasts. When the meal was over, my cousin Luca would run around drinking up the dregs of wine left in glasses.”
Jack relaxes back in his seat and smiles at a thought.
Or is he frowning? She can never tell.
She orders more prosecco.
Their heads fall together.
“You’ve never tasted real milk, Jamie. There was no need to leave the property. We had cows and cattle sheds and made our own butter. Live chickens and pigs, too,” and when her eyes don’t scream with envy, “You’ve never tasted real pork, Jamie.”
“Do I want to?”
“We ate fruit right off the trees: apples, plums, cherries, hazelnuts…”
“Peaches? I love peaches.”
“You’ve never sucked on a real peach, Jamie.” And from his eyes she can see that she hasn’t.
“We had our own vineyards and made our own wine.”
They fall quiet for a time; he remembering it all, Jamie imagining him remembering it all.
“Ah, well,” he sighs, and then reaches for his La Stampa in the seat back pocket in front of him.
“Ah well what?”
He is closing back up, as he can do. “Jack?”
“It’s all gone,” he shrugs.
“Gone?”
“Everything.”
She clears her throat. “Everything?”
“I still can’t believe it.”
“Even the cows and the milk?”
“Gone.”
“The peach trees?”
“Gone.”
“Chickens?”
“Jamie, basta, enough.”
“What happened?”
“It was a long time ago. I was away in the States at MIT.”
“You must know something.”
“We’re Italian.”
“That’s not an answer.”
His eyebrow goes up. “Have you ever been to Italy?”
“Really Jack, what happened?”
“There was finger pointing…accusations…the war made them rich, and when the war was over, when they had to really manage things, well, the truth came out––they were mis-managing everything. Nonno’s brothers blamed him, as CEO. Nonno blamed his sons-in-law—my father and Zio Marco—who then blamed each other. To tell you the truth, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t really care. I only felt sorry for Nonno Giacomo because he died with nothing. The vast empire of Ruffoli property was sold, and all he had left were some vines, a crumbling villa, and my mother to look after him; the villa’s surrounding land had been redeveloped into apartments, and those that weren’t sold were piece-mealed off to family members as some paltry kind of inheritance.”
He falls silent.
“And your father?”
“Napoli,” he says, after a dark moment. “He went back to Napoli.”
“So they’re divorced?”
“Nonno wrote me a poem the day I left for MIT…” he says, not so much ignoring her question as refusing to acknowledge it. His parents are Catholic, of course they’re not divorced. “…It never occurred to me until years later, after the dust had settled and I re-read the poem, how talented he was.” He pauses, as if reciting the verse in his mind, and it occurs to Jamie that Jack may have left the wedding invitation, the impulse for this trip, out for her to see on purpose.
He clears his throat of whatever emotion got caught there, and then the plane suddenly roars from below for no apparent reason. They catch and hold eyes in the moment of uncertainty. A flicker of something, fear, could he be afraid, she wonders, and in a gesture that feels apart from her, she reaches out and touches his cheek. Her fingers follow the curve of his jaw and settle on his chin. There is a tiny crevice there, a small crack or fissure, and she spends an abstract moment contemplating this little part of him. Then the roaring subsides, and her hand moves back. She stares at it a moment wondering what just happened, then clambers out of her seat to get her briefcase from the overhead compartment.
***
“You know what to do?” he says, at last handing her her passport when they arrive in Italy. Without bothering to respond, Jamie takes it and steps into the line for aliens while Giovanni proudly heads off to the line for nationals. This feels odd, because he is the alien, isn’t he? It doesn’t occur to her until they meet up on the other side again that no, in fact it is she, the frequent flyer who’s never traveled outside the States except to Mexico that one time, who is the alien now. The americana.
Jack, for his part, is no longer Jack but Giovanni. Jamie must keep reminding herself, as it says so on his passport, and now in his demeanor as well. If he’s not at ease in the hapless, chaotic disorder of his native land then he’s certainly resigned to it, methodical in his step, knowing exactly what to do and where to go.
Jamie drank too much prosecco on the plane. Is it just her, or are the people here smaller? She actually asks him this in an attempt at humor, for he seems nervous and it’s making her nervous. Why is she nervous? She’s never had problems meeting the proverbial mother before. Sure, there’s going to be a language barrier, but no doubt there’s already going to be a language barrier, the one inherent in the relations between any mother and the woman her son brings home, and these thoughts aren’t helping Jamie stay calm. By the time she follows Jack out the sliding custom doors, her heart is beating wildly.
A blinding moment, her first in Italy, one in which there are flashing bulbs and wild applause, stylish crowds and sleek architecture. They are in Milan, after all, fashion capital of the world; but the world that then comes to life is in the form of a dreary terminal stinking of burnt coffee and toasted cheese. No crowds, just a few clusters of young Italians wandering around in dark leather and piercings, aimless and self absorbed. They make Jack’s mother easy to spot—no, Giovanni’s mother—though Giovanni seems to be, for the moment, pretending it is not his mother, this tear-stricken woman leaning so anxiously against the low gate that Jamie fears it might toppled over.
She is pretty, Jamie notices right off, despite the wrinkles and the roundness. Heirlooms cling to her neck and fingers; her skin is golden, her hair a pearlish-gray. Her light features are a northern quality, Jack had informed Jamie with pride on the plane. When Jamie had inquired about his own features––a darker bronze––he’d responded with some foreboding, “My father’s from the South.”
Cheeks are kissed over and over.
Mamma, ma dai, mamma,” in a tone part revel, part pity, Giovanni at last extracts himself from La Mamma’s embrace and motions for Jamie, who steps in. “La mia fidanzata,” he says.
Jamie, with a “Ciao” stuck in her throat says, “Hello,” idiotically.
La Mamma glances at Jack as if for translation, then leans in for those kisses Jamie finds so awkward––which side comes first, how many, exactly. By the time La Mamma steps back to examine this tall ginger woman from head to toe, toe to head, Jamie is blushing in all directions. Some conclusion is made, seemingly, because at once La Mamma takes Jack’s arm and the two walk rapidly on, she in her rubber shoes and thick stockings, Jamie trailing in new sandals that keep slipping off her feet.
At one point they turn and ask if she would like to prendere un caffé at the airport bar. “I would love to,” is her gracious response, hidden beneath a caffeine-desperate smile. And they weren’t kidding about the “prendere” (to take), because that’s essentially what drinking coffee is here. Jack pays at the register, hands his ticket to the barista, and one minute later three tiny cups are sliding along the counter at them. Jack “takes” his, loads sugar into it, and drinks it in one gulp. “Ancora?” La Mamma says, also done.
Jamie looks at her thimbleful, thinking, this will not be enough caffeine.
Sta male?” La Mamma asks. Is something wrong with her? Yes, there will be, when Jamie soon discovers that there is no lingering or dawdling over coffee in this country.
They move on through the terminal that seems both empty and yet chaotic at the same time. The few present are crowded with their overflowing luggage carts at the elevator bank because one of the lifts is broken, while others seem lost. Jack leads them on a search for the stairs that have gone mysteriously missing. Circling back to the lifts just in time for the doors to magically slide open, they shove on. The ride down is slow and harrowing, what with Jamie’s mind still ruminating on Jack’s fidanzata reference. It sounds perilously close to fiancé, and an alarm has sounded in her head. She and Jack are in no way engaged. In fact, they have been together only two months and she has yet to call them a couple, let alone act like they are headed down some path of commitment.
He had overwhelmed her, certainly. Jamie hadn’t expected to fall in love so definitively, to love someone so completely as to make even the word love sound ridiculous, and utterly redundant. The only hope now is to keep reminding herself that this is not the first time she’s fallen in love. She’d been overwhelmed those other times, too, hadn’t she? Love does not give him claim to her soul, after all, and anyway, she has a Partnership to achieve at the firm, money to accumulate, goals and milestones to reach.
Dai, muoversi. (Come on, move.)
It is a tiny Fiat Panda in which Jamie sits squeezed in back with the luggage that won’t fit in the trunk. “Che cosa fai mamma?” he says after his mother, who has jumped from the car because she forgot to pay the parking ticket.
Fidanzata?” Jamie leans in and whispers in his ear.
“Girlfriend,” he responds, pensively looking out for his mother.
“Just checking.”
“In Italian it means girlfriend.”
“I heard you the first time.” She sits back, unsatisfied. Girlfriend doesn’t sound right either, but she is too tired to think or talk rationally. The morning haze is like a drug. She is asleep before they exit the parking structure.
A convulsive verbal exchange floats into Jamie’s subconscious, intermixed with loud, abrupt silences. The Alps soar past the Fiat window in a gray, misty blur, however faintly. She is awake now, and they are practically hydroplaning on the Autostrada toward Torino, a straight shot of dreary farmland, factories, and lime green gas stations. At A26 they turn off and head toward Alessandria, where the land is at first flat and wet, then jade and undulating. The fog begins to lift, a pink sun overtakes the sky, and the hills grow wavier, a richer green. Clusters of terra cotta emerge on distant hills along with castles and campanili that don’t seem entirely real, until they get closer, and then they still don’t seem real.
La Morra, Barolo, Verduno, Cherasco, Roddi, Grinzane… Signs point crooked arrows in all directions. “Barolo, like the wine?”
“Yes, Jamie.”
“I’d said it was orange,” she muses.
“Brown.”
“Whatever. You fed it to the lamb. I remember that.”
He smiles somewhat deliciously at her in the rearview.
Che cosa?” La Mamma wants to know what they are saying to each other.
He’d been braising a lamb shank one night, Jamie thinks back. A few hours in the oven and counting, her entire apartment radiating in its tender, juicy fumes, suddenly Jack grabbed his keys and rushed out the front door. “Now this is a wine,” he said twenty minutes later upon his return with a bottle of Barolo. “Moncrespi,” she said, reading the label.
Mon-crrrrrrresss-pi!” he’d corrected with a vehemence that startled her. She’d asked him if the embellishment was necessary. It’s not embellishment, he’d said, it’s correct pronunciation, and yes, it’s necessary. She’d handed him the bottle opener without further comment, for she’d already had a flogging that day by her client and needed a drink. He opened the bottle while she got out glasses, but instead of pouring her a glass, he’d opened the blazing oven and poured the lamb a glass before setting the bottle aside and insisting she wait for the wine to open up. She studied him, then the wine-soaked lamb, considering a martini. When Jamie wanted something, she often wanted it now; but this man had a way of making her wait, and if he could wait she could wait. An hour later, the lamb done, she’d taken her first real sip, making a conscious effort to understand what she was drinking. She was thirty-two. Maybe it was time.
“It’s dry,” she’d said.
“Look at the color.”
“Brown?”
“Amber,” he’d said, gazing into the glass with eyes just as brown, just as amber. It was a haunting look, the one he had turned and given her, the same look exuding from him now, she imagines, as he speeds intently into the distance before him. That look sends her stomach into turmoil, or perhaps it’s the road, which has grown narrower and windier. She rolls down the window. The air smells of earth and tar, the sun has gone missing again, and grape vines are everywhere, clinging to the hillsides sweeping up and down all around them. Uninspiring yet pleasant farmhouses and villas are sprinkled among those hills, and Jack is announcing their names, friends or foes, the Crespi Vineyard one of them, as in Mon-crrrrrrresss-pi! There don’t seem to be any visible markings or signs, no elaborate Napa Valley-styled entrances. Their families go way back, Jack is telling her now, as if she’d understood what he and his mother had been saying. Whose families?
The light dims suddenly; the road levels off with a vibration so jarring Jamie braces her breasts with her forearm as their car bounces over the cobblestones, and Jack is pointing out something seemingly critical. She looks up and around for a castle or a campanile—instead it’s a newspaper kiosk where he buys his Gazzetta Dello Sport. This is the main town, he explains, a curved incline of shops tucked inside stone where the sun apparently can’t reach. Only a few locals in coats trudge up the road. Otherwise the place feels barren, cold even though it is June, the beginning of the warm season.
“Bar,” she says unconsciously at a lonely shop sign, thinking about a pre-dinner cocktail, but then remembering the airport. Not that kind of bar.
They are winding again, ascending. The road is narrowing farther, as if that were possible, and is generously lined with trees and hedges. Jack pulls over to let a car coming from the opposite direction pass. A few more turns and they are confronted by an iron gate with a rusted Villa Ruffoli emblem dangling off the front. Jack gets out of the car to straighten the emblem and type in the code, then hops back in, grips the steering wheel and mumbles in Italian while the gate swings too slowly open.
Jamie can’t help thinking back to how little she knows Jack, or Giovanni, or whatever his name is, and this place he calls home. Back in San Francisco, outside of their time together, their lives remain distinct and separate. They don’t probe into each other’s pasts or origins and make it a point not to cross paths at work. He is a senior engineer at L-3, and she is a consultant for Norwest Aerospace, which is in the process of acquiring L-3. Jamie is in charge of the financial integration of the two entities, and although the merging of the engineering operations, which includes Jack’s group, is her peer’s responsibility, her relationship with Jack is still a serious no-no.
She’s not sure how she let it happen. They’d met at a bar where both firms were celebrating the project kickoff, a get-to-know-each-other kind of event. She’d spotted him the same moment he’d spotted her, in what became an other-worldly sensation, as if some foreign, intoxicating gas had filled the air. That’s what it was, she’d had to stop and check herself, a purely chemical sensation. It had attacked all organs save her mind, which was still intact apparently, because she could read right through his unreadable expression; the frown that wasn’t a frown at all, but a smile, one that seemed, if she wasn’t mistaken, to be meant only for her. He was tall, the supple leather of his jacket seamless with the skin on his neck and face, as if his features had been carved from some rare, precious stone.
Walk away. The rejection will hurt. (In her experience with handsome men, they tended to stay clear of light freckles and red hair.) Anyway, none of this mattered, because it was against firm policy to date a client, and Jamie was a play-by-the-rules gal; but after a couple of drinks, lo and behold, there she was letting her arm brush softly against his, accidentally. When they finally did get a conversation going he didn’t laugh at her sarcasm; he could only stare at her with an odd sort of wonder as she nervously rambled on. Her belligerent American co-workers thought him snobbish and aloof, but she didn’t know what to think of him. He was quiet and intense, had no trace of an accent, and it didn’t occur to her that he was a foreigner. Not until a week later, that is, when he’d invited people over to his apartment for the European Champions League game. Jamie was the only guest without an H-1 visa or second language; not to mention that her passport had only one stamp on it. She’d sat and watched, but didn’t understand the game’s nuances. The wild adrenaline rush of everyone standing up after sixty-five minutes and screaming, “Gooooaaaaallllll!!” at one p.m. on a workday, had been a complete and utter revelation.
Theirs is an unspoken agreement, she reminds herself now, as Jack…Giovanni squeezes the car through the narrow roadway, to lay no claims upon each other. And anyway, apparently there’s no longer anything to claim, as he had explained to Jamie on the plane, though he never did elaborate on the bankruptcy, and his manner in that moment had been so intense that Jamie isn’t sure she ever wants him to. All he could say was that Villa Ruffoli is not in any way what it once was, and that is the reason why he has not, in the decade since, returned to the place he once called home.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Love for the Holidays (5 Book Christmas Bundle) by Samantha Chase Excerpt

Love for the Holidays (5 Book Christmas Bundle)
$2.99

From fake relationships to secret affairs to best friends falling in love, everything changes at Christmas.

This holiday bundle includes five stories, from steamy to sweet, including two new, exclusive stories from New York Times bestselling authors.

HOLIDAY HEAT by Noelle Adams - After being hit with heartbreaking tragedy, Carrie has thrown herself into a hot, secret relationship with Matt. With Christmas approaching, she realizes she might want even more from her sexy, damaged artist, but the boundaries around their relationship make anything deeper than sex impossible. A new, steamy romance.

MISTLETOE BETWEEN FRIENDS by Samantha Chase - Lily and Cam have been friends all their lives, and their relationship has never been romantic. But when they pretend to be dating so they can spend the holiday with their families in peace, they realize their fake romance might actually be real. A new, sweet romance.

THE CHRISTMAS COTTAGE by Samantha Chase - Spending the night trapped by a blizzard in a romantic Christmas cottage with the man she's loved for years has Lacey wondering if fairy tales really do come true. A sweet romance.

EIGHT CHRISTMAS EVES by Rachel Curtis - One Christmas Eve, Cyrus Owen, the over-indulged teenage son of a wealthy businessman, finds ten-year-old Helen on the side of the road. Eleven years later, he is desperately in love with her. This is how it happens... A mostly sweet romance.

WHAT ONCE WAS PERFECT by Zoe York - For Laney, the worst part of returning to her hometown for Christmas is confronting Kyle, the man who broke her heart twelve years ago. When they rediscover their perfect chemistry, Kyle has to convince Laney to let him back into her heart. A steamy romance.

Excerpt:

It helps so much that we don’t have to leave the hotel to go to dinner,” she said as she draped the wrap around her. “I get to wear pretty dresses and not have to worry about freezing myself to death by going out in the cold.” Walking toward Cam she admired his dark suit and then smiled at his light blue silk tie. “Nicely done, Cam,” she complimented. “Not quite so somber.”
I’m learning,” he teased and then held out his arm to her so that they could leave the room.
They rode down to the main floor and joined a group of Cam’s colleagues as they walked toward the banquet hall. Outside the entrance, they had all stopped and were chatting when Lily spotted the mistletoe from the night before. Turning toward one of the other women in the group she said, “I love the holidays; everything looks so festive and bright. Plus,” she pointed upward and winked, “it gives us an excuse for a little PDA, right?” The other woman nodded and before Lily knew what was happening, Cam turned her in his arms and kissed her.
Oh, and how he was kissing her.
It took Lily less than a second to completely get on board as she wrapped her arms around him. Cam’s tongue gently grazed her lower lip and Lily more than willingly opened for him and let him deepen the kiss. Never in her wildest dreams did she imagine that Cam could kiss like this. He was all heat and passion and she let out a small whimper of need before she could stop herself.
Someone cleared their throat behind them and Cam reluctantly ended the kiss. Pulling back he looked down at Lily’s flushed face and hated that they were here amongst a crowd. All day he had dreamed about kissing her again under the mistletoe just so that he’d have an excuse to do it. This time he wanted to be the one to initiate the kiss, to see if it would be any better than his fantasies.
And it was.
Without a word, Cam took Lily’s hand in his and joined the group that was heading into the banquet hall for dinner.
It was going to be a long night.

Love in the City (The Complete Collection Boxed Set) by Liv Morris

Love in the City (The Complete Collection Boxed Set) by Liv Morris
$0.99

FIVE ROMANCE NOVELLAS
Magic at Macy's- Top 100 Contemporary Romance
Perfect Strangers - Top 10 Short Story
The Panty Dropper - Top 100 Contemporary Romance
The Love Handles Club - Top 10 Short Story
Drunk and Disorderly - Top 20 Romantic Comedy

"A great short is one that reads like a longer story, in that it sets up the plot, draws you in and gets you invested into the characters. Liv is wonderful at making these stories real and so engaging." An Amazon reviewer.

Magic at Macy's Yale University freshman Ally Brown sets off on an adventure to tour the amazing holiday window displays along New York City's Fifth Avenue. Her plans get sidetracked when she sees her crush, Jack Prescott, taking the same train into the city. He's the handsome Editor in Chief of the Yale Daily News and the man of her dreams. But Ally's life takes a surprisingly romantic turn, thanks to a little Magic at Macy's...

Perfect Strangers - Kat Williams is recovering from a painful breakup with her cheating ex-fiancé. Working late on New Year's Eve, she leaves the office and hasn't heard about a snowstorm hitting the Chicagoland area. Driving home she loses control of her car and becomes stranded on Lake Shore Drive. Trapped by the storm's wrath, she's helped by stranger, Drew Michaels, who may be a sweet and handsome cure for her broken heart...

The Panty Dropper - Emily Norris is a single, but hopeful, young flight attendant trying to survive the holiday made for lovers with her best friend, Monica. However, Emily's night and plans take an unexpected turn when she finds Ethan Murphy, a.k.a. The Panty Dropper, knocking at her door. Find out what fate has in store when these two are struck by Cupid's arrow...

The Love Handles Club - High school sweethearts Bradley Dawson and Kelly Parker haven't spoken to each other in over a decade. Now, fourteen years after their breakup, Kelly returns to their hometown of Dallas when her marriage disintegrates. A love story about the one who got away and the possibility of a second chance...

Drunk and Disorderly - When Andrew Cooper, a former Atlanta Falcon who's chiseled from head to toe, and basically a rival to Michelangelo's David meets small-town cutie, Amelia Montgomery, sparks fly and tempers flare all over Atlanta. A humorous love story made possible due to a simple twist of fate, even if love leaves you a little drunk and disorderly...

Excerpt from Magic at Macy's the holiday favorite in the boxed set: 
"Hearing the buzz of the train as it headed toward the platform, I turned my head and something, or I should say someone, caught my eye. A tall man was leaning against the soda machine across from me and dressed in a black wool topcoat that hit him about mid-thigh. The jeans he wore appeared to be lined in flannel because I could see the plaid material making up his cuff. His legs looked like they were jammed into his pants as they stretched tightly over his strong thighs.
The New York Times he was holding in front of him hid most of his upper body, but I knew exactly who it was. I'd stared at and dreamed about him for weeks.
The hot guy standing just a few feet away from me was none other than, Jack Prescott, Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Daily News, man about campus, and my new best friend, Chelsea's, brother. Oh, and most importantly he was majorly out of my league, even if he did just break up with his goddess of a girlfriend, Marissa.

Murder, Lies and Chooclate by Sally Berneathy Review

Title: Murder, Lies and Chocolate
Series: Death by Chocolate, Book 2
Author: Sally Berneathy
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Pages: 285
Price: $3.99
Rating: 5 out 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

Rodney Bradford comes into Lindsay's restaurant, offers to buy her small house for double its value, eats her brownies, and drops dead on the sidewalk in front. Then someone breaks into her house and tries to dig up her basement. Next her almost-ex-husband offers to sign the divorce papers, but only if she'll give him her small, old house and take his big, new house instead.

Suddenly everybody wants Lindsay's house. Is there oil under the basement, plans to bring the railroad through, pirate treasure buried in the basement? A second break-in occurs and causes her cat, King Henry, to launch into full attack mode, taking a few chunks out of the intruder.

Lindsay enlists the aid of her enigmatic neighbor, Fred, to help solve the mystery while trying to keep her police detective boyfriend, Trent, from getting in their way with his insistence on all those silly cop rules.

On the positive side, sales skyrocket for the special dessert Lindsay calls Murdered Man's Brownies. Prisoners, murderers, crazy relatives and strippers are all part of the chaos in this second book of the Death by Chocolate series.

BONUS! Chocolate recipes at the end of the book. Poison optional.

Review:

Sally Berneathy writes some of the best cozy mysteries I have ever read. Her ability to make me laugh out loud on several occasions alone makes this book worthy of 5 stars. However, there's so much more. Murder, Lies and Chocolate has a great plot, romance, and decadent recipes that you're going to love. If you're looking for an awesome cozy mystery series, Death by Chocolate is not to be missed!

Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin Excerpt

Christmas at the Gingerbread Café by Rebecca Raisin
$3.59

The icing on her Christmas cake!

Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Café was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her another reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.

But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Café is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with ones – really do come true!


EXCERPT
With a sly grin on my face, I jog back out to the front, yelling, “That fool won’t know what hit him,” only to run straight into the damn fool.
“Who are you talking about?” Damon asks, rubbing his chin where my head has just connected.
“Ouch! Who creeps up like that? If you want me to feel the earth move, that isn’t the way to go about it,” I say, sure I’m going to be sporting a big lump on my head any minute now.
“Which fool are you talking about?”
I make a show of wincing, while I try and think of an answer. CeeCee’s no help, standing there as a half-dressed Santa, her lips quivering as she tries to hold in laughter. I know she’s going to lose it, and then the whole sorry story will come tumbling out of her mouth.
“Excuse me, mister, who said you could come in here and spy on us?”
His forehead creases, and that same sexy smile creeps back on his face. “Who said I was spying?”
“That smile might work on other girls, but it sure doesn’t work on me. I said you’re spying. Now get on out of here. Shoo.” I wave my hand towards the door.
“Shoo? Not until you tell me who the fool is.”
“You’re as dumb as a bucket of rocks if you think I’m telling you anything.”
“I see.” He scratches his chin, which has a red mark from our collision. “I think you’re cooking up another plan to steal my customers.”
“Of all the…I think you’re forgetting who was here first. You’re stealing my customers—let’s be clear on that.” I try hard not to poke my tongue out at him. He brings out the worst in me, this newcomer. He’s wearing those same tight jeans, and under his open jacket he’s wearing another of those checker shirts, but has yet another button undone. I can see right down to his belly button and I happen to notice he’s got quite the six-pack going on. The girls round here are going to swoon over him.
He edges backwards, his brown eyes sparkling with mirth. “Well, my family has lived here since before there was electricity, don’t you know? And wouldn’t the town folk love to know you’re not giving me the same warm welcome that they are?”
CeeCee bustles over. “Oh, yeah? And who’s your family, then? Ain’t no one mentioned your people to me.”
“My people, as you say, are the Guthries, born and bred right here in Ashford for as long as anyone can remember.”

Mrs. Saint Nick by Caroline Mickelson Review

Title: Mrs. Saint Nick
Author: Caroline Mickelson
Genre: Holiday Romance
Pages: 120
Price: $0.99
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

When Santa offers efficiency expert Holly Jamison a job at the North Pole, she’s delighted to accept. It’s not that she loves the Christmas holidays. Far from it. Everywhere she looks, from the piles of presents to the thousands of cheery elves hard at work, Holly sees ways to improve the whole operation. Even Nick Claus, Santa's charming son, fails to draw Holly into the holiday spirit. Holly has to admit that Nick’s charismatic and handsome, but his fun-loving side doesn’t mask his lack of a work ethic. It’s only when Holly cancels Nick’s pet project, and jeopardizes Christmas for thousands of children, that she realizes that the man she discounts as a total slacker might be the only one who can teach her about the joy of Christmas.

Review:

Mrs. Saint Nick is a whimsical Christmas read for adults. What I loved most was the feeling of Christmas magic that came from the pages and made me feel like a kid again. While this is a completely different story about Santa and his handsome son, it reminded me of how magical Christmas can be. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a holiday romance. It's got all the elements of great chick lit and would make a wonderful movie. I can't wait to read more from this author.

Just Passing Through: Military Romantic Suspense Novella - FREE

Just Passing Through: Military Romantic Suspense Novella (A Contemporary Military Romance Story) by Ashielle Rose
FREE - 11/29/2013

"Just Passing Through" - the romantic suspense story of Ryker and Laura

Ryker Lambert thought he was just passing through the tiny town of Eagle Station, but helping a single mother named Laura Keating took him off track temporarily...

Or at least he thought it was temporary.

Fresh from the devastation of the war in Afganistan, Ryker's heart is locked down. Laura is also protecting her heart and her daughter from a totally different kind of danger.

The question is can these two people help each other without getting hurt in the end? Will either of them be able to open up to new possibilities or will they both be casualties of another kind of war?

This contemporary military romance story is their struggle to get together.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Textbooks: The Books No One Wants to Buy

Photo by ywel
I've been a book-a-holic for as long as I can remember and buying books has always brought me great joy. The only exception was my time in college. It was so hard to pay hundreds of dollars each semester for books that I didn't even want to read in the first place. Throw in the fact that the books could be worthless after the semester was over and the cost was even harder to swallow. I wish I had paid closer attention to my options, one of which was to rent textbooks from companies like CampusBookRentals.com.

CampusBookRentals.com allows students to save 40-90% off what they would pay in a campus bookstore. And if you're worried about shipping those heavy textbooks, don't be. The site offers free shipping both ways. You can rent the books for as long or as little time as you need. You can even highlight and make notes in the books. What I really love about this site, and why I recommend it, is a donation to the organization Operation Smile is made with each book rental. Operation Smile is an organization that helps families cover the costs of cleft lip surgery, an often fatal condition.

It's a win/win when you use CampusBookRentals.com. Not only will you save a substantial amount of money, but your orders will help children live normal lives and may even save the life of a child. Before you head back to campus this winter, visit the website to see if your needed books are available for rental.

But what about those textbooks you already purchased? Are you stuck with them? No! Through the new program RentBack you'll make 2-4 times as much money than you would if you'd sold the books back to your campus bookstore. Want to learn more about making some quick moolah?Watch this video:

Every Minute Counts by Sanjeev Kumar

Every Minute Counts by Sanjeev Kumar
$2.99 or FREE for Prime Members

Today, as business professionals we face immense challenges in balancing work and life. It is quite easy to get carried away with urgency of the moment and lose sight of things in life which matter the most to us. These include spending quality time with family, pursuing our creative passions, hobbies, fitness and relaxation. Every Minute Counts helps you re-look at what you should do with 24 hours which you get every day and how to make sure every minute of the day is spent in a purposeful manner and not wasted down the drain. The book provides a simple system comprising 7-building blocks to make the most of your day. Instead of some dry theory, each building block is supported with practical and easy tips to make immediate changes to your daily life. Every Minute Counts is a quick read, “how to” kind of book which helps you get done maximum in the shortest span of time so that you can save time every day and invest that in doing things which matter the most to you.

Abbie Skellee and The Little Lamb Farm Story - Skellee Rescue Service - FREE

Abbie Skellee and The Little Lamb Farm Story - Skellee Rescue Service (Skellee Modern Folklore Fantasy Stories for Children Ages 3-8) by AnneMarie Callan
FREE - 11/28/2013 and 11/29/2013

ABBIE SKELLEE AND THE LITTLE LAMB FARM STORY - A Short Story for Kids Aged 3 - 8 With a Fun Interactive Quiz
Abbie Skellee is the first story in the Skellee Rescue Service series of children's books. It is also the first farm story in the series.

Perfect for storytelling time, these short stories are intended as modern day folklore superhero stories, with each Skellee worker having a unique and special tool, so that they can come to the aid of all children around the world. Their own superhero! Added to that is a quiz at the end of the book for children to enjoy telling you what they remembered from the story, a little game which also helps them, by introducing a fun way to comprehension.

In this story, the little lamb decided that it wanted to go for a walk on its own. It strayed away from its mother and all the other little lambs in the field to explore. It had no idea that there could be danger in the next field and that, in fact, danger was waiting for him! How the little lamb is saved is unbelievable but it happened and Abbie Skellee, a superhero, was delighted to be able to help the little lamb back to safety.

The Skellee Rescue Service - Short Stories For Children
All the Skellee workers wait at the Skellee Rescue Service office for the Skellee Operator to tell them where to go, at anytime, day or night and even anywhere in the world. The Skellee Operator has a very important job!

The Story Behind Skellee
When the author became a grandmother for the first time, Skellee stories popped into her head frequently and so she shared them with her first grand daughter. Later on, as more grand-children arrived, the stories grew. The grand-children loved them and at storytelling time, would sit so quietly waiting for her to start a new story, that you could hear a pin drop.

One day, as she was out walking with her second grand daughter, she was asked when she was going to publish the stories. Rather than say never, she decided there and then to find out how she could do this. After discussing her Skellee theme and her plan for short stories for children with people in the publishing business, she received amazing feedback.

Everyone who heard of the Skellees were excited about her project and even wanted to become involved, then she started publishing them on the Kindle platform.

The Skellee Illustrations
It had always been a dream of the author to be able to paint and apart from one attempt at a portrait of one grandson, she had a huge fear to overcome. Her fear of painting was from the fact that her father was a Slade trained artist. His work was amazing. That was his gift. She met a local artist who inspired her to do it herself and helped her overcome her fear and paint.

First of all, she had to learn to draw people and so she started with match stick men drawings but the arms or legs were invariably way too long. Once she mastered, as much as she could of the sizing perspective of the characters and back drops in pencil, then she had to start painting these.

For the first few attempts, her hand shook with fear as she put the paintbrush filled with paint onto the paper. But, fortunately her teacher gave her constant encouragement, telling her that she did have talent!

Strangely enough, four illustrators had initially offered to illustrate the Skellee books but for their own reasons, they had to drop out, one by one. (Maybe she was meant to paint after all!)

Following are a list of the Skellee books already on Kindle.

Book 1 : Abbie Skellee and The Little Lamb.
Book 2 : Bobby Skellee and The Football Game
Book 3 : Carrie Skellee and The Dog Rescue.
Book 4 : Bobby Skellee and The Black Cat
Book 5 : Ella Skellee and the Hot Air Balloon
Book 6 : Freddie Skellee and the Sand Castle Rescue

Two more book are soon to be released.

The Snowflake Inn by Samantha Chase Excerpt

The Snowflake Inn by Samantha Chase
$0.99

A home for the holidays…

Grace thought she had finally found a place to belong. Coming off of ten years of tragedy and disappointments, her arrival at The Snowflake Inn finally gives her a reason to have hope for her future and the possibility of her forever-home. Until one man arrives with the power to take it all away.

Versus NOT wanting to be home for the holidays…

Riley’s world has been turned upside down. He’s back at the one place that he never wanted to return to and it looks like he may be staying longer than he had planned. Taking over The Snowflake Inn was never his dream, it was his family’s dream for him, and all Riley wants to do is cut his losses and leave. But one fiery red-head has him rethinking everything he had planned.

Both Grace and Riley had very different plans for their time at The Snowflake Inn but with the magic of Christmas all around them, and an attraction that they can’t seem to ignore, this could be the perfect time and place for everyone’s dream to come true.

Excerpt:

“It’s killing you that I’m still here, isn’t it?” he finally said, and she nearly jumped out of her own skin.
“Sheesh, you scared me,” she said, willing her rapidly beating heart to calm down. “Actually I had forgotten that you were even here. Which leads me to ask - why are you still here?”
“Where should I go?”
There was a loaded question if she ever heard one. She must have smirked because she heard Riley laugh. “Something funny?” she asked.
“You,” he said simply. “Your face is an open book. There’s no way you could possibly play poker.”
“My face is not an open book,” she snapped. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Oh, really? You’re going to stand here and tell me that you weren’t just thinking of a colorful retort to my question of where I should go? That you weren’t dying to tell me exactly where you thought I should go?”
There was no way to hide her guilty blush. Dammit. “Fine,” she said defensively. “You’re right; I was thinking of several options of where you should go, but I decided to keep that to myself. Things are awkward enough around here today without me adding to them.”
“Give it your best shot, Red,” he said, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms across his chest.
“Excuse me?”
“Go ahead and tell me what’s on your mind. I prefer it when people are honest. I don’t like to play games. If you have something to say to me, then go ahead and say it.”
“It’s not necessary, Riley,” Grace said as she busied herself around the kitchen. She placed the last of the leftovers in the refrigerator and turned around. And screamed. “Seriously?” she cried. “How did you move that fast?” He was right behind her and she had to press her back against the refrigerator door to keep an inch of space between them.
“Military trick. Can’t let the enemy know when you’re approaching.”
“I’m not the enemy here,” Grace said, hating that there was a slight tremor in her voice.
“Neither am I,” he said with ease and then laughed at the look on Grace’s face. He placed a finger under her chin and forced her to keep looking up at him. “Open book,” he teased. “Now, are you sure you don’t have something to say?”
For just a moment Grace had forgotten that she was supposed to be mad at him. For just an instant when she turned around and saw how close he was, she wanted to press closer to him like she had been this morning in the park. But once he opened his mouth, all of the reasons that she hated him came flooding back.
With more bravado than she actually felt, Grace shoved his hand away from her face and did her best to stand a little bit taller. It didn’t really matter because with Riley being over six feet tall and her barely reaching five-foot-five, she’d have to stand on a damn chair to make a difference.
“Fine, you want to know what I’m thinking?”
“Sweetheart, I already know what you’re thinking. I just want to see if you have the guts to say it out loud.”

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Lazar's Challenge (Jack Lazar Series, Book 2) by Kevin Sterling Review

Title: Lazar's Challenge
Series: Jack Lazar Series, Book 2
Author: Kevin Sterling
Genre: Suspense
Pages: 328
Price: $3.95 or FREE for Prime Members
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

Jack’s best friend, Zachary Taylor, is roused out of bed in the middle of the night at his apartment in Paris and taken away at gunpoint, but not before he sends Jack a safety deposit key with a note saying he’s in trouble. If only he had given a clue regarding the location of the box, its contents, or what the hell is going on. Jack tries to call, but Zach’s cell phone goes straight to voicemail.

Clearly, something sinister is afoot in the City of Lights.

Jack heads for Paris to investigate, and in no time he’s accosted by the bad guys. But Jack Lazar isn’t the sort to back down, so he sets up shop in Zach’s Paris flat on a mission to solve the mystery and find his friend.
Sexy, French Flight Attendants Are Nothing But Trouble

Enter Michele - one of Zach’s many girlfriends in Paris. She's upset to discover Zach is missing, but her idea of being consoled is to shed her clothes, plant herself in Jack’s arms, and mercilessly tantalize him. She’s ostensibly off-limits, of course, which wedges Jack between his growing obsession with her and his allegiance to Zach. It’s a sure prescription for disaster...and some really hot sex.

Uh-Oh. Things Just Got More Complicated

With a little ingenuity, Jack locates and opens the safety deposit box, but the only thing in there is an old bottle of Cognac. Still, it doesn’t take long before people are chasing after it, and they’re willing to kill for it, too. But the eau-de-vie is just the tip of the iceberg, and soon Jack finds himself working with French law enforcement and British Intelligence to stop something truly unthinkable.


Review:

Suspense from page one. This fast-paced read finds Jack Lazar questioning his relationship. His love-life has become stale and he begins to miss the sexy bombshell that he had an affair with. Sarina had quite possibly ruined him for Lisa. Lisa was beautiful and sexy, but she wasn't Sarina. Can he find fulfillment?

Lazar's Challenge is a fast-paced, action packed thriller/suspense that women can enjoy, but may be better suited for men. Regardless of gender, it's impossible to deny the fact that this book is impossible to put down. If you're looking for a powerful suspense novel, this is it.

Heaven is For Heroes by PJ Sharon Review

Title: Heaven Is For Heroes
Author: PJ Sharon
Genre: Coming of Age, Young Adult
Pages: 302
Price: $2.99
Rating: 5 out 5 stars

Book Synopsis:

Smart and athletic seventeen year-old Jordie Dunn has a bright future planned, but when tragedy turns her life upside down, she begins to question not only her future, but the facts surrounding her brother’s death in Iraq. The military’s account that his best friend and fellow Marine, Alex Cooper, is at fault, is a notion she refuses to believe. Alex was the careful one--the shy, protective, computer geek she’s had a crush on since the ninth grade, and she knows better than anyone that her troubled brother had a dark and reckless side—a secret she’s kept for far too long.

With no memory of the incident that killed his best friend, nineteen year-old Alex Cooper returns home, shattered and facing a difficult recovery. Determined to go it alone, he pushes Jordie away. No longer the freckle-faced tom-boy who followed him and Levi around as a kid, she has become a beautiful and stubborn young woman who believes in him far more than he deserves.

While Jordie’s unique approach to rehab pushes Alex to extremes, the two discover that their childhood friendship has grown into more. The attraction has Jordie’s head spinning and her heart soaring, but Alex struggles to deal with his guilt, his loss, and the nightmares that continue to haunt him. Even though Jordie is determined to help him heal, and even more determined to find the truth, what she doesn’t expect, is to find love.

Review:

A heart-felt story from page one. Heaven is For Heroes isn't your average young adult, coming of age novel. Instead of vampires and werewolves, you'll find a girl, much like yourself. A girl that is struggling to accept the death of her brother and the fact that the military claims his best friend, and her long-time crush, is behind the death. If you're an empath like me, you may have trouble getting too sucked into the story. PJ Sharon pens strong descriptions and well-developed characters so that you get carried away. If you're looking for a different kind of young adult novel, this one is great.

Finding Love ~ The Outsider Series: Volume 2 by Lorhainne Eckhart Excerpt

Finding Love ~ The Outsider Series: Volume 2 by Lorhainne Eckhart
$0.99 or FREE for Prime Members

A husband's secrets, a runaway wife, a troubled pregnancy, and an unexpected storm--all these stories included in the next sizzling romantic box set of Finding Love ~ The Outsider Series.
**CONTENT WARNING: Although this series is filled with ideals of family, love and loyalty, the Friessen men are strong sexy alpha males. Each book and short story in this series is filled with sexual tension, steamy romance, rough language, and passion. It is for those who enjoy adult contemporary romance, women's fiction, western romance.

Finding Love ~ The Outsider Series - Volume 2 contains #6, 7, 8 and 9 of this hot and dramatic western romance series of The Friessen men and the women they love. Although all the stories in this series can be read as stand alone, for more reading enjoyment you may wish to read the series in order starting with the Amazon kindle bestseller, THE FORGOTTEN CHILD.
   
  • Finding Love~The Outsider Series Volume 2 includes:
  • Secrets: "Jed always told me he'd take care of everything. And I believed him, I trusted him, I loved him."
  • Runaway: Andy sets out to find his runaway bride. And when he finds her he's in for a big surprise.
  • Overdue: (Exclusive to this box set - A Runaway to The Unexpected Storm bridge short story - Diana and Jed are having a baby.)
  • The Unexpected Storm: He can have any woman except the one he wants. 
Excerpt:

It’s not much, but I think it’s kind of fun and cute, and Jed and I will be right next door if you need us.” Diana pressed her hand into the small of her back and rubbed her other hand with her gold wedding band over her almost eight months’ pregnant belly.
Laura’s hair had started to grow out and was now shoulder length, and she kept it tied back in a high ponytail. “Diana, I don’t know how to thank you and Jed for all you’ve done. This place is better than I could have hoped for. I love that clean smell of new wood.” Laura took in the brand new loft, which had an antique double bed for her and a single bed for Gabriel, with lovely pink and green bedspreads. It was an open design, tastefully done, and even the appliances were brand new. She set her purse on the round kitchen table with four chairs. At the west side of the loft was a cozy living room with a green taupe sofa and chair and a plasma TV mounted to the wall.
Footsteps clattered up the stairs. Laura gazed over the wooden rail, watching as Jed followed Gabriel and redheaded Danny, who was just walking and insisted on mastering the stairs all by himself and yelling at the top of his lungs, “Mama, comin’ up!”
You’ve got your hands full with Danny there. Does he ever stop, Diana?” Laura smiled as she listened to the clomp and clatter of three boys: her five-year-old boy, Gabriel, who leaped up the steps; Danny, who crawled and patted each step; and Jed, who followed, encouraging his son.
One more. Come on, you can do it.” Jed was grinning ear to ear, watching as Danny pushed himself to his feet and ran straight to his mommy.
He’s a Friessen man; ‘slow’ and ‘easy’ aren’t in their vocabulary,” Diana muttered just as Jed stepped closer and lifted Danny, tossing him in the air while he giggled and wiggled. Then Jed leaned down and kissed Diana.
That’s not fair. I guarantee you I can take it slow and easy in some things you enjoy.” He winked, and Diana gasped before clearing her throat.
Laura, listen, I am grateful you’ve taken this job.”
Diana, Jed, I really do appreciate all this—and the job, even though I’m pretty sure you don’t really need me.”
Oh, that’s where you’re wrong, Laura,” said Jed as he set a kid-size cowboy hat on Gabriel’s head.
Cool hat. Ride horsey?” Gabriel beamed at Jed as he asked.
Tell you what, bud. Let’s let your mama get settled, and you come help me feed the horses,” Jed answered. The sound of a vehicle pulling down the driveway had him stepping toward the window.
The fact is, Laura, we’re the ones who are grateful,” Diana said. “Jed wants to be on a horse, riding, teaching the kids, not cooped up in an office, doing paperwork. And I have my hands full with Danny and this one here.” She rubbed the baby she carried in her large belly. “And I’m tired, too....”
Well, I was wondering when he was going to show up,” Jed interrupted. Danny just then decided he wanted down, so Jed slung him over his shoulder to distract him.
Who’s here, Jed?” Diana asked.
Laura felt a flutter of butterflies in her stomach when Jed glanced at Diana with a look that had her covering her mouth with her palm and turning away.
My cousin, your husband,” Jed said as he started toward the stairs. Gabriel was at the window with Jed, and he raced toward the stairs and started down.
Gabriel, come back here!” Laura said, but this time he didn’t listen, as he was out the door. She could hear him call out, “Andy, Andy.”
Laura went to the window and gazed out at Andy, dressed as he always was in dark jeans and a long-sleeved dark shirt, but he wasn’t as neat as usual. He lifted Gabriel in his strong arms and hugged him.
You know, Andy has a lot of faults, but caring for Gabriel is not one of them.” Diana was standing in the window, watching as her husband approached Andy. “I knew it was only a matter of time before he found out you were here. He was served this morning, too. He’ll be furious, Laura. It was cold and impersonal.”
Diana, I don’t want to see him again, ever. I just want him gone and out of our lives for good.” Laura stepped back when Andy glanced up with those all-seeing hard blue eyes. At times, she’d swear they were etched in steel.
“Laura, how he treated you was horrible. We know that, and we all agree with you, but you can’t keep avoiding him. He’ll find out.”
Diana turned solemn blue eyes on her. She’d been a true friend who was always there for her, even with her husband recovering from surgery. It had been a miracle when he came through okay, and Diana had even told Laura that life was too short for regrets.
“How does he know? You and Jed promised me you wouldn’t tell him,” Laura pleaded.
“Yes, we did, but don’t forget that Andy’s been having you followed,” Diana said. “I have to tell you, Laura, my husband doesn’t agree with your decision. He’s honored it for now, hoping you’ll come to your senses. Andy does have a right to know where you are. You should know he’s offered to talk to Andy for you, too.”
Laura felt a surge of anger shoot like a rocket through her as she processed what Diana had said. Her face felt warm, and beads of sweat popped out over her brow. She squeezed her fists. “He’s been having me followed? Are you kidding me? What kind of sick—”
“Hello, Laura.”
She didn’t hear him come up, and what made it worse was that he was carrying Gabriel, who, by the looks of it, had no intention of allowing Andy to let him down. She could see how her son worshipped Andy, and that infuriated her. She was standing beside Diana, and it wasn’t until Diana stepped back that Andy’s eyes widened and his brows furrowed with something dark and furious.
“What the hell?” he said.
Laura pursed her lips and struggled with those damn emotions, second guessing everything she’d done, and placed her hand over her own large, swollen belly just as the baby kicked.

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