June #BookReviews from @JackieAshenden @SuzanneJenkins3 #amreading


Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

I should be writing, I have looming deadlines and blank pages, but the garden is calling me to slip off my shoes and read a book.

So I am 🙂

First in a bold, sexy new small-town Alaska contemporary romance series from Jackie Ashenden

Deep River, Alaska boasts a fiercely independent though small population. The people who live here love it, and they don’t much care what anyone else thinks. Until the day Silas Quinn comes back and tells them an oil reserve has been found below the town and now it’s neighbor vs. neighbor. Some want to take the money and run, while others want to tell the oil company to put its rigs where the sun don’t shine.

Hope Dawson never expected to leave Deep River. Her mom needs her. Her grandfather died and left her the local hangout to run. Her dreams of college and adventure died long ago. Until Silas comes back to town, holding the key to set her free. But freedom means she loses him again, and he’s the one she’s really always wanted.

Pre-order here

Biography

Jackie has been writing fiction since she was eleven years old. Mild mannered fantasy/SF/pseudo-literary writer by day, obsessive romance writer by night, she used to balance her writing with the more serious job of librarianship until a chance meeting with another romance writer prompted her to throw off the shackles of her day job and devote herself to the true love of her heart – writing romance. She particularly likes to write dark, emotional stories with alpha heroes who’ve just got the world to their liking only to have it blown wide apart by their kick-ass heroines.

She lives in Auckland, New Zealand with her husband, the inimitable Dr Jax and two kids. When she’s not torturing alpha males and their gutsy heroines, she can be found drinking chocolate martinis, reading anything she can lay her hands on, wasting time on social media, or being forced to go mountain biking with her husband.

My Review

Hope Dawson dreamed of grand adventures and going to college, but when her grandfather unexpectedly dies, leaving her to run the local pub and care for her mother, Hope accepts her fate.

Then a blast from the past blows into Deep River in the form of one sinfully hot Silas Quinn. But he’s not here for a reunion, he has news that could destroy the sleepy little Alaskan town.

Silas doesn’t want the responsibility of owning a town, much less taking time away from his new business to deliver news he knows is going to be poorly received. Not to mention the fact that he’s bound to see Hope again- his best friend and the woman he’s never forgotten.

This was an enjoyable read by a new-to-me author. Her descriptions of The Happy Moose (the bar) and Deep River’s citizens brought the town to life for me. There are past wounds that need healed before Hope and Silas can have a chance to see where their attraction might lead, as well as the complication of oil being found under the town and how it creates rifts among the people.

This is lining up to be a good series!

Rating: 4 out of 5.

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”


After a fire almost destroys her house, firefighter Paul Saint lays eyes on curvy girl, teacher Emily Porter and all his imagined roadblocks to love come tumbling down.

Due to his fear of commitment, he doesn’t see marriage in his future. After moving into the old bunkhouse at Red Mountain Ranch, his new next-door neighbor gets out the binoculars and determining he’s available, sends out an SOS to all the local single women.
Paul confirms Emily is the woman for him, to the disappointment of his admirers and disapproval of his family.
Can they find happiness with so much going against them?

Biography

Get Suzanne’s newsletter and never miss a new release! Sign up at https://suzannejenkins.com

Suzanne’s Gift to You! DOWNLOAD FREE and Bargain EBOOKS
Start the first installment of Suzanne’s bestselling series, Pam of Babylon FREE!

USA Today Bestselling Author Suzanne Jenkins writes page-turning contemporary romance, mystery, and women’s fiction with passionately gripping characters that stay with readers long after they turn the last page. The Detroit Detective Stories, beginning with The Greeks of Beaubien Street are truly American with a touch of fantasy. Award winning Pam of Babylon books consistently rank in the Top 100 Best Sellers in American Drama with over 500,000 downloads.

A retired operating room nurse, Jenkins lives in Southern California.

Visit https://suzannejenkins.com where you may subscribe to an email list and receive free stories and excerpts of soon to be released books and new releases.

Like Suzanne on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/suzannejenkinswriter
and follow her on Twitter; suzannejenkins3

My Review

Paul Saint loves his job as a firefighter for Station #20 though his family would be happier if he was closer to home instead of fighting grassland fires.

He jumps at the chance to move to a small cabin on Red Mountain Ranch and looks forward horseback riding around the countryside. There seems to be an abundance of single women in the area, but Paul’s attention is caught by the lovely school teacher, Emily Porter. Now, he just has to convince her that he’s the man for her!

This is an endearing story of two people who must overcome personal issues in order to give their love the chance it deserves.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 
bird riding

Oh, Canada- #CanadaDay #Celebration


Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Happy Canada Day!

To celebrate our country, I thought I’d put together some fun facts, videos, and a few famous Canadian quotes to share with you.

Did You Know…

  1. Some of the world’s greatest superheroes come from Canadian imaginations, including Superman and Wolverine!

2. Quebec produces more than 77% of the world’s maple syrup.

3. If you write a letter (in any language) to North Pole, Canada, H0H 0H0, Santa Claus will answer.

4. 20% of the world’s fresh water is in Canada and we have the most lakes.

5. In Banff National Park there are overpasses for wild animals- seriously!

6. 30% of Canada is covered in trees and thick forest.

7. The lowest temperature ever recorded in Canada was -63 in Snag, Yukon.

We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from life.

William Osler

I truly believe that we have infinite levels of power that we don’t even know are available to us.

Michael J. Fox

We must come to the point where we realize the concept of race is a false one. There is only one race, the human race.

Dan Aykroyd

Stay safe everyone!

Crazy Hearts by Tara Janzen #BookReview #RomanticSuspense


DYLAN HART IS THE SPECIAL OPS BAD BOY WITH NO PAST.
THAT’S ABOUT TO CHANGE…

Dylan had shown up in Colorado as a teenager on the run for his life. He’d left his name behind, along with any record of his existence. He had no family, no friends, and no connection to anyone in the world except the men out to find him and kill him. The last place in the world he thought they would ever look was Denver, Colorado.

He’d been right.

THE CHOP-SHOP BOYS OF STEELE STREET

Within weeks of his arrival, he’d been scooped up by a crew of juvenile car thieves, and together they became legends on the streets of the Mile High City. Years later, they are the legends known as Special Defense Force, SDF, an elite team of soldiers tasked by the United States government to protect the country from threats both near and far.
But you can never leave your past behind, and Dylan’s day of reckoning has arrived. His long, lost past is headed straight at him at 100 miles per hour in a Porsche 718 Cayman – and there isn’t anybody who can stop it.

Biography

TARA JANZEN, New York Times bestselling author, is the creator of the acclaimed Steele Street series of romantic suspense novels about a hotshot crew of former juvenile delinquents and car thieves in Denver, Colorado who grow up to become one of the U.S.A.’s most elite black ops forces. The eleven book series begins with CRAZY HOT and CRAZY COOL and finishes up with LOOSE ENDS. One of the books is on AMAZON’S TOP TEN ROMANCE LIST – LOOSE AND EASY, 2008. Three of her books are on the Romantic Times ALL-TIME FAVORITES list – RIVER OF EDEN, CRAZY WILD, and SHAMELESS.

Writing as Glenna McReynolds, she is the author of thirteen Loveswept romances, an epic medieval romantic fantasy trilogy, THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE, DREAM STONE, and PRINCE OF TIME, and a contemporary romantic adventure set in the Amazon, RIVER OF EDEN. Tara loves doing research for her books, and her love of anthropology and the natural sciences has helped her create the landscapes of her novels, from the rich historical background of THE CHALICE AND THE BLADE trilogy, to the shores of the blackwater rivers flowing through the Amazon rain forest in RIVER OF EDEN.

Photo by Cesar Perez on Pexels.com

My Review

The Steel Street gang are back!

Dylan Hart’s past comes calling when a young man who could be a young doppelganger lands in hospital with a gunshot wound.

Dylan has always known his stepfather would never give up searching for him, but thought his tracks were covered. He’d changed his name, made a new life for himself, married the woman of his dreams, and ran a highly secretive government Special Defense Force, yet the ghosts of his past haunted him still.

Now a brother he hadn’t known existed is on his doorstep and trouble isn’t far behind.

It’s time to take care of business.

This series is on my reread shelf and I was stoked to see a new edition had come out! The chop shop boys were forged together as a group of teenage misfits. They’re deadly, loyal, sarcastic heroes that you won’t be able to resist.

I highly recommend this series. They easily read as standalones, but to get the best experience I’d suggest starting with book 1- Crazy Hot

Pawn by @TM_Frazier #NewRelease #MCRomance


Pawn - RB banner

Born into hell. Baptism by betrayal. 


His life revolves around violence.

Pawn, the stunning conclusion to The Pawn Duet from USA Today bestselling author T.M. Frazier, is available now!

pawn ebook

My life is on the line.

I’m trapped both physically and emotionally. A pawn in a game I didn’t know I was playing.

Until I met him.

Pike acts without emotion, but I know he feels something for me.

I see it in his eyes when he looks at me. I feel it when he’s close.

I know it’s real because I feel it too.

Lust. Desire.

It complicates everything.

I know that I’m part of Pike’s plan for revenge.

He doesn’t know he’s part of mine.

Pawn is book two of The Pawn Duet. Pike is book one.

Duet- AN

Download your copy today!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ano48Q

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/PawnTM

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2Wwehtj

Nook: https://bit.ly/2vDiDnc

Kobo: https://bit.ly/33AKfGi

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2WGVAmu

Start the duet with Pike!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2U0Bsdz

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2UlWdiV

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/PikeTM

Nook: http://bit.ly/2IZIBVg

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2IUH1DN

Amazon Paperback: https://amzn.to/2WrlXNkTmFrazier

About T.M. Frazier

T.M. (Tracey Marie) Frazier never dreamed that a single person would ever read a word she wrote when she published her first book. Now, she is a five-time USA Today bestselling author and her books have been translated into numerous languages and published all around the world. T.M. enjoys writing what she calls ‘sexy wrong side of the tracks romance’ with morally corrupt anti-heroes and ballsy heroines. Her books have been described as raw, dark and gritty. Basically, what that means, is while some authors are great at describing a flower as it blooms, T.M. is better at describing it in the final stages of decay. She loves meeting her readers, but if you see her at an event please don’t pinch her because she’s not ready to wake up from this amazing dream.

Connect with T.M. Frazier

Facebook: http://bit.ly/TMFRAZIERBOOKS

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JWHAv8

GoodReads: https://amzn.to/2OjmESr

Join Frazierland:http://bit.ly/frazierland

Instagram: https://bit.ly/2U8gmtH

BookBub: https://bit.ly/2xtlQ4u

Twitter: @TM_Frazier

Stay up to date with T.M. by signing up for her mailing list: http://bit.ly/TMFrazier Website: http://www.tmfrazierbooks.com

The Girl in The Love Song by Emma Scott #BookReview #YARomance @EmmaS_Writes


Now a Top 100 Amazon Bestseller*At Santa Cruz Central High School, they called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys…

Miller Stratton is a survivor. After a harrowing childhood of poverty, he will do anything it takes to find security for himself and his mom. He’s putting all his hopes and dreams in the fragile frame of his guitar and the beauty he creates with its strings and his soulful voice.

Until Violet.

No one expects to meet the love of their life at age thirteen. But the spunky rich girl steals Miller’s heart and refuses to give it back.

Violet McNamara’s life hasn’t been as simple as it looks. Her picture-perfect family is not so perfect after all. Her best friend Miller is her one constant and she is determined not to ruin their friendship with romantic complications.

But the heart wants what it wants. As Miller’s star begins to rise to stratospheric heights, what will it take for Violet to realize that she’s the girl in all of his love songs?

Lost Boys is a new series of interconnected, coming-of-age standalones from USA Today bestselling author Emma Scott, coming in 2020

Biography

Emma Scott is a USA Today and Wall St. Journal bestselling author whose books have been translated in five languages and featured in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After. She writes emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories that rip your heart out and put it back together again, with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy her novels. Visit http://www.emmascottwrites.com

RECENT RELEASES

Someday, Someday (M/M standalone)

A Five-Minute Life (standalone)

Bring Down the Stars (Beautiful Hearts #1)

Long Live the Beautiful Hearts (Beautiful Hearts #2)

COMING SOON:
A new YA/NA series of interconnected standalones, coming in 2020

“At Santa Cruz Central High, we called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys.”

The Girl in the Love Song (Lost Boys #1) : http://bit.ly/2MLnYhU
The Shadows of Yesterday (Lost Boys #2) : http://bit.ly/37BsCHh
The Last Piece of his Heart (Lost Boys #3) : http://bit.ly/2QeVlfa

You can follow me at all the places…

Super-cute NON SPAMMY newsletter: http://bit.ly/2nTGLf6

Author page: https://www.facebook.com/EmmaScottwrites/

Reader group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/906742879369651/

Attribution: Amazon.com

Photo by Mark Angelo on Pexels.com

My Review

Homeless after his father deserts their family, thirteen-year-old Millar Stratton doesn’t have much faith in anyone- until he meets Violet.

Violet lives a privileged life and has never known what it means to be poor, but that doesn’t stop her from reaching a hand out to help the grungy looking boy who appears on her doorstep.

Soon, an unbreakable bond grows between the two and when Millar is diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes after a scary situation, Violet vows to watch over him.

A ball and chain of rules and diets and restrictions, needles and pills that I’d have to carry across a tightrope without a net, for the rest of my life.

The Girl in The Love Song- Emma Scott

High school is tough for the street kid, even though Millar and his mom now live in a dumpy two bedroom apartment. He’s watched Violet blossom throughout the years and it makes him proud, and jealous of every guy who tries to go out with her.

Violet doesn’t understand how she went from geek to popular kid, but it’s kind of nice to have fun her last year of high school before she starts the strenuous studies for med school. She just wishes Millar was by her side as more than a friend. Violet’s parents loved each other and now they constantly argue- cementing her fear of taking her and Millar’s relationship to the next level.

Millar is madly in love with Violet, but doesn’t dare step over the limits of their friendship for fear of pushing her away. Instead he opens his heart the only way he knows how- writing songs that allow him to pour out his feelings in the melodies.

Millar, together with a ragtag group of friends, learn that life’s lessons can knock you down, but love can change the outcome.

This book had me in tears a couple of times. It puts a spotlight on T1D (Type 1 Diabetes) and the life-threatening complications associated with this disease. My grandson was diagnosed five years ago. He’s now thirteen (like Millar) and has faced many of the symptoms described. It is my hope and prayer that one day soon a cure will be found.

Until then, I am grateful amazing writers like Emma Scott can use their platforms to shed a light on illnesses, racial diversity, sexual discrimination, and homelessness.

We need to do more to change our world.

What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon #BookReview #Historical #TimeTravel @aharmon_author


An Amazon Charts, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestseller.

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything…

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make?

Biography

Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Her books have been published in eighteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Utah.
Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels, including the USA Today Bestsellers, The Smallest Part, Making Faces, and Running Barefoot, and the #1 Amazon bestselling historical, From Sand and Ash. Her novel, A Different Blue, is a New York Times Bestseller. Her USA Today bestselling fantasy, The Bird and the Sword, was a Goodreads Best Book of 2016 finalist. For updates on upcoming book releases, author posts and more, join Amy at http://www.authoramyharmon.com.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Book Review

Raised by a loving grandfather, Anne Gallagher is heartbroken at his death. She follows his last wishes and takes his ashes home to Ireland to spread them on the lough near the home where he’d grown up.

The moment she lands, Anne is overcome by a sense of history and tries to find out more about her grandfather’s life as a child. She has a few photos of her mother, father, and their best friend, Dr. Thomas Smith.

After visiting the graves of past members of her family, Anne rents a boat and heads out on the lough, only to get lost in a sudden fog. Frightened, she calls for help and gets shot by a stranger in a trawler.

When Anne awakens, it is to find herself in the care of a man who looks exactly like the Thomas Smith from her photos and it soon becomes clear that nothing is as it should be.

They can’t forget, they never will, the wind and waves remember Him still.

“Thomas?”

I’d called to him before. I’d screamed his name across the water until I was hoarse and hopeless. But I called to him again. “Thomas?” His name hung precariously in the air, weighty and wishful, before it teetered and fell, sinking like a stone beneath the surface. The lough whispered back with liquid lips, slow and sighing. Tho-mas, Tho-mas, Tho-mas.

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

This story shines a light on the Easter Rising, a massacre that took place in 1916 and changed Ireland forever.

“I’ve been reading about Ireland—biographies and documentaries and collections and diaries. I’ve been doing research for six months. I have so much information in my head, and I don’t know what to do with it. The history after the 1916 Easter Rising is just a garbled mess of opinions and blame. There’s no consensus.” Eoin laughed, but the sound was brittle and mirthless. “That, my love, is Ireland.”

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

While the rebellion is a key part of the book, so to is the growing romance between Thomas and Anne- a forbidden love.

Anne is from the future. How can she stay in her mother’s time period, even though it gives her the opportunity to live with her grandfather when he was a child, and Thomas?

When she makes the decision to risk all, outside forces step in to separate her from the life she truly wants.

I can’t imagine all men love their women the way I love Anne. If they did, the streets would be empty, and the fields would grow fallow. Industry would rumble to a halt and markets would tumble as men bowed at the feet of their wives, unable to need or notice anything but her.

Harmon, Amy. What the Wind Knows

I didn’t know much about Ireland’s turbulent history. What I learned is that Irish people are proud of their culture and their land. They are passionate of what they believe in and won’t give up- no matter the odds.

What the Wind Knows is a sweeping saga of love and history that proves where there is hope, there is a chance.

Michelle A. Bailey’s #Romance Reader Builder #Giveaway


Romance Reader Giveaway!

Follow and like some amazing authors on social media for your chance to win some awesome romance swag! The grand prize for this contest will be:

One paperback copy of “Where the Forest Meets the Stars” by Glendy Vanderah, One paperback copy of “Once Bitten” by Linsey Hall, One paperback copy of “By a Thread” by Lucy Score, One Spa Gift Basket, One bookish coffee mug, One Gourmet Coffee Gift Set, & a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

The more you follow and like, the more chances you have to win! You can also come back everyday for special tasks that will earn you daily entry points!

Enter Here

Giveaways like the one above are an excellent way for writers to connect with new readers, and readers to win #free stuff- and who doesn’t like that?

Tips To Succeed On a Video Interview


Originally posted on Story Empire:
Hello, SEers. As you can see, today we are going to talk about the best foot forward position should you get the opportunity to do a video interview or presentation on YouTube or elsewhere. Before getting into the tips, let’s set the stage. You are launching a new book, and…

Garden #Perspectives- #SundayStills


This week’s Sunday Stills challenge is all about perspectives as chosen by Terri Webster Schrandt. You can see her photos and join the challenge here. I’ve squared all the photos for my entry for Becky’s for July Square Perspectives challenge. We’re spending most of our day out in the garden, so I thought I’d share some of… Continue reading →

#TuesdayBookReview and Anniversary News This Last Chance by D.L. Finn #Supernatural #Suspense @dlfinnauthor


Six months after Amber’s sister is brutally murdered, she’s still looking for answers, and now someone is stalking her and no one believes her. Home alone with a powerful snowstorm approaching, Amber is determined to take control of the investigation by hiring a private detective, but her plans are disrupted when she finds herself snowed in with people she may not be able to trust. Meanwhile, Nester the evildwel, whose entire existence has been feeding on fear and pain, is seeking help from the angel who’s protecting Amber. Nester and Amber need answers. Can Amber figure out what’s going on with some subtle help from an angel? Will Nester find what he needs from his enemies? The worlds of good and evil clash, and the outcome will determine not only Amber’s and Nester’s fate but life as they know it.

Biography

D.L. Finn is an independent California local who encourages everyone to embrace their inner child. She was born and raised in the foggy Bay Area, but in 1990 relocated with her husband, kids, dogs, and cats to the Sierra foothills in Nevada City, CA. She immersed herself in reading all types of books, but especially loved romance, horror, and fantasy. She always treasured creating her own reality on paper. Finally, being surrounded by towering pines, oaks, and cedars, her creativity was nurtured until it bloomed. Her creations vary from children’s books, young adult fantasy, and adult paranormal romance to an autobiography with poetry. She continues on her adventures with an open invitation for her readers to join her.

Photo by Photo Collections on Pexels.com

My Review

Heartsick Amber mourns the loss of her murdered sister and is frustrated with the lack of help from the local police force. Her mother seeks to forget in the bottom of a bottle and is no support for her daughter. Desperate, Amber turns to a private investigator for help.

Meanwhile, a war between good and evil is being waged between a society of evildwels and angels. There is a surprising plot at play that I wasn’t expecting in this suspenseful tale with evildwel Nester.

After spending generations killing and stealing souls, Nester feels a change come over him and seeks help from the angel tasked with watching over Amber.

A blizzard locks Amber at home with a group of suspicious people- one of which could be her sister’s killer. Will she survive long enough to find out the truth, and will Nester be able to stop the evildwels from taking over the world?

This story kept me guessing until the very end and hoping for Nester to overcome his dark side!

Favorite Line

“You need to move on, Amber.” That line had assaulted her ears like an eager beginner’s drum solo. She was surprised that her eardrums hadn’t burst with good intentions.

This Last Chance- D.L. Finn

This is an unexpected murder mystery with supernatural elements that add an extra layer of tension to an already suspenseful story.

Well worth the read!

It’s My Anniversary!

Thirty-six years ago this guy said, “I do” in front of God and everybody. He’s my best friend, my lover, the father of my child and grandfather to our grandson. He’s supported our family the best way he knew how, and has been my rock when life knocked me down.

We met on his eighteenth birthday and have been together almost every day since. When I am upset, he makes me laugh. When I’m frustrated, he calms me. When I’m lost, he guides me,

I will be forever grateful for the stroke of fate that brought us together- my soul mate.

Release Day for Virtually Gone #MurderMystery #Crime


It’s release day!

Julie Crenshaw, Connor O’Rourke, and Matthew Roy are back! Virtually Gone picks up from The Beast Within‘s police investigation of murdered young women on Victoria’s Galloping Goose Trail.

Investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw stumbles upon the case of a lifetime–one that could cost her everything.

When Julie is called on to investigate a string of sexual abuse cases, she doesn’t expect to land in the crosshairs of a serial rapist. Soon she’s in a race to find the facts before a killer makes her the headline.

Detective Matthew Roy is frustrated with his inability to track a rapist terrorizing his city. Added to that, his partner’s reporter girlfriend is dogging his every step and won’t heed his warnings. Time is ticking with the perpetrator escalating his crime to murder. Matt needs to find the killer soon, or chance losing someone he cares for- the question is, how?

★★★★★ “This author is an auto-buy for me. Each of her novels including this one is a perfect mix of angst, suspense, humor, and steaminess.”

Exclusive Excerpt

Julie sat at her computer in the madhouse that was VIBS headquarters and tried to concentrate. Something about the way Matt had avoided her questions bothered her. Of course, it was part of the dance journalists and the police did on a regular basis. Death was always awful, but this seemed… different. If only she could put her finger on it.

“Hey, Doll-face, what do you have there?” Henderson invaded her personal bubble to watch the playback of her interview with the detective.

Julie frowned at the cutesy name tag but moved aside so Ron could see. When she’d first transferred here from Chicago, the chip on her shoulder had clashed with the laid-back attitude of the station’s lead reporter. It had taken a near-death experience—her second one—to make her realize he was a good guy under all that persuasive charm.

She eyed the half-eaten donut in his hand and her stomach grumbled, reminding her she’d been running late this morning and hadn’t stopped to eat. And then she remembered why she’d been running late and smiled.

Of course, he caught the lustful look in her eyes and attributed it to his food. He shoved the thing in his mouth and swallowed it down. “Sorry, I’d share, but…”

“But you’re a pig,” she said, humor restored. “And furthermore, it was your turn to buy.”

“Hey.” He threw his hands in the air, sending grains of sugar scattering. “I did buy. They just didn’t make it through the door.” His smile was pure mischief and had the desired effect of making her laugh. “That’s better,” he said. “You were looking grim when I arrived.”

She sobered and nodded toward the screen, frozen on a seemingly peaceful bridge with broadleaf maples shading the walkway. “There was another sexual assault,” she said. “The victim didn’t survive this time.”

Ron stared at her for a moment before using his foot to tug an office chair from across the cluttered aisle to her side. He sat, knees butting into hers, and grasped her hands. “Listen, Jules, I know you want to do your job, but after what you’ve been through, maybe you should give this one a pass.”

He was talking about the ABC Killer who’d almost taken her life, of course. But he hadn’t, and it was all the more reason she needed to investigate stories like these. If she could save just one woman from the terror she’d felt, or the horror the woman today had gone through, it was up to her to do that. A calling almost. Besides, if it was Ron, he would never quit.

“I can’t,” she said simply.

On Sale for a limited time- $0.99

Virtually Gone: A Mended Souls Novel (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6)

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085PQTV69

International: https://books2read.com/VirtuallyGone

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/virtually-gone-a-mended-souls-novel-high-tech-crime-solvers-book-6-by-jacquie-biggar

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52329219-virtually-gone

Where the Lost Wander by @AmyHarmon #Historical #BookReview @aharmon_author


In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

Attribution- Amazon

Biography
Amy Harmon is a Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and New York Times Bestselling author. Her books have been published in eighteen languages, truly a dream come true for a little country girl from Utah.
Amy Harmon has written thirteen novels, including the USA Today Bestsellers, The Smallest Part, Making Faces, and Running Barefoot, and the #1 Amazon bestselling historical, From Sand and Ash. Her novel, A Different Blue, is a New York Times Bestseller. Her USA Today bestselling fantasy, The Bird and the Sword, was a Goodreads Best Book of 2016 finalist. For updates on upcoming book releases, author posts and more, join Amy at http://www.authoramyharmon.com.
Photo by Zetong Li on Pexels.com

My Review

Seeking a better life, widow Naomi May joins a wagon train with her family heading across the country to California. She knows it will be a tough journey but faces it with enthusiasm and a touch of trepidation.

When John Lowry agrees to help his uncle guide a wagon train as far as a fort where he is to deliver his father’s mules, he doesn’t expect to be instantly attracted to the beautiful Naomi. But their relationship is doomed to fail. He is half Pawnee, a man straddling two worlds. She is everything he wants but cannot have.

The trail is a hard taskmaster. Soon, the wagon train is faced with challenges they could never have imagined; hostile territories, lack of drinking water, dangerous river crossings, dysentery, and racial prejudice.

It’s been a long time since I was so caught up in a story. The author does a wonderful job drawing the reader into the hearts and heads of our two protagonists, John Lowry and Naomi May. We get real insights into the pride of indigenous people, the clash of two cultures, and those caught in the middle.

Favorite Lines

That’s what hope feels like: the best air you’ve ever breathed after the worst fall you’ve ever taken. It hurts.

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

This kiss is slow and languid like the Platte, hardly moving, while beneath the surface the silt shifts and settles. His arms snake around me, and my palms flatten over his heart, needing and kneading, and heat grows in my belly and in my heart and where our mouths are moving together.

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

…eventually, time thinks for us. It cuts through the fog of emotion and delivers a big bowl of reality, and feelings don’t stand a chance,” John says with bleak finality.

Harmon, Amy. Where the Lost Wander: A Novel

Where the Lost Wander is a sweeping saga of a love that knows no bounds and defies a nation at war. It’s real. It’s brutal. It’s unforgettable.

Clientmoji

Change


Originally posted on Word by Word:
By Kathryn Jane “In times of change, we can resist, or we can pull up our bloomers and get with the program–because change is gonna happen whether we like it or not.” With the world around us changing at a terrifying pace, we have decided to stop floating along…

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!

The Girl in The Love Song by Emma Scott #NewRelease #Romance @EmmaS_Writes


At Santa Cruz Central High School, they called them the misfits, the outcasts, the weirdos. But most of us knew them as the Lost Boys…

The Girl in the Love Song, book one in the Lost Boys, an interconnected coming-of-age series of standalones, from USA Today bestselling author Emma Scott, is live!

Miller Stratton is a survivor. After a harrowing childhood of poverty, he will do anything it takes to find security for himself and his mom. He’s putting all his hopes and dreams in the fragile frame of his guitar and the beauty he creates with its strings and his soulful voice. 

Until Violet. 

No one expects to meet the love of their life at age thirteen. But the spunky rich girl steals Miller’s heart and refuses to give it back. 

Violet McNamara’s life hasn’t been as simple as it looks. Her picture-perfect family is not so perfect after all. Her best friend Miller is her one constant and she is determined not to ruin their friendship with romantic complications. 

But the heart wants what it wants. As Miller’s star begins to rise to stratospheric heights, what will it take for Violet to realize that she’s the girl in all of his love songs?

The Girl in the Love Song features two original songs written by Emma herself.

Download today or read for free in Kindle Unlimited!

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2UdV79C

Amazon Worldwide: http://mybook.to/TheGirlintheLoveSongES

Add to Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2MLnYhU

About Emma:



Emma Scott is an internationally bestselling author whose books have been featured in Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, New York Daily News and USA Today’s Happy Ever After. She writes emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy emotionally-charged stories that rip your heart out and put it back together again, with diverse characters and heroes with a heart of gold, you will enjoy her novels.

Connect with Emma:
Amazon author link: https://amzn.to/2yUnFKJ

Webpage: emmascottwrites.com

Facebook: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottFB

Reader group: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottEntourage

Bookbub: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottBB

Instagram: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottIG

Twitter: http://bit.ly/EmmaScottTW

Stay up to date with Emma by joining her mailing list: http://bit.ly/2nTGLf6

Summer Thrills Fireworks Party- High-Tech Crime Solvers- #mystery #suspense #Reads


Join us: Summer Thrills Fireworks!

My author friends have joined forces to bring you a new series: High-Tech Crime Solvers

BUY NOW ON AMAZON

Join our killer party as a GOING guest for a chance to win books!

Summer Thrills Fireworks!

Saturday Satisfaction #amwriting #gardening


I Finished the Damn Book!

May was such a messed up month for me, I was getting seriously worried whether I could finish the book I had up on pre-order in time to fulfill my obligations.

It came down to the wire, but I got it done and feel good about the outcome 🙂

Now I can breathe again, and with views like these in my backyard- relax.

Virtually Gone Releases JUne 12 on all your favorite retail sites!

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085PQTV69

International: https://books2read.com/VirtuallyGone

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/virtually-gone-a-mended-souls-novel-high-tech-crime-solvers-book-6-by-jacquie-biggar

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/52329219-virtually-gone

Exclusive Excerpt

Matt sat next to a middle-aged university security guard and stared at the video playing out on a desktop computer screen. It was brain-numbing work, but he held onto the hope one of these recordings carried a usable ID of their suspect. Investigators had gone over footage taken from the general area of Gina’s attack, but at the time, they hadn’t realized they were dealing with a serial offender. With the new information received, he and Connor were going back over the evidence with a fine-tooth comb.

The timestamp on the top right of the screen said it was eight pm, shortly before Gina’s final class for the night had ended. She’d told them her routine was to take a path cutting across campus in order to arrive in time to catch the transit bus she needed to get home. There were safer routes, such as the bus lane outside the security building, but at that time of the evening she would need to make several transfers, which made her nervous. It was sadly ironic her careful choices ended up placing her in the crosshairs of a criminal.

After her shock today, Connor had offered to drive Gina home and wait until someone could come over and be with her, so she wasn’t alone. Every time Matt thought about the photo and frightening message she’d received; it made his blood boil.

The cops can’t save you, sweet Gina. See you soon.

No wonder the girl was scared; the bastard was stalking her.

While Connor had interviewed each of the individuals outside on the grassy rotunda with them, he’d snapped pictures to go over later. Their tech guy, Bob, had come up empty at tracing the number to where the photo originated, but they’d expected that. The perp hadn’t made many mistakes to this point, he wasn’t going to hand himself over on a silver platter. But he’d given them another clue—Bob had explained even burner phones came with a unique serial number, and given time, he could find out whether their suspect had used the phone to browse the web, make calls, or even if he carried another ‘regular’ phone with him. Phones constantly communicate with cell phone towers, whether in use or not, and therefore left a digital footprint that could be traced back to the distributor.

“Wait. What’s that?” Matt straightened and strained to see the grainy figure moving in and out of the shadows on the video. “Back it up a bit, will you?”

The guard paused the footage and rolled it back a few seconds before hitting play again. This time, they focused their attention on the hunched form in dark clothing, head covered by the hood of his jacket.

“Does it seem as if he’s waiting for someone to you?”

The guard shrugged. “Maybe he’s got a buddy.”

Or maybe he was waiting for Gina.


Thanks for reading. Enjoy your Saturday, everyone!

#BookReview- Arsenic in The Azaleas by @DaleMayer #CozyMystery


A new cozy mystery series from USA Today best-selling author Dale Mayer. Follow gardener and amateur sleuth Doreen Montgomery—and her amusing and mostly lovable cat, dog, and parrot—as they catch murderers and solve crimes in lovely Kelowna, British Columbia.

Riches to rags. … Controlling to chaos. … But murder … seriously?

After her ex-husband leaves her high and dry, former socialite Doreen Montgomery’s chance at a new life comes in the form of her grandmother, Nan’s, dilapidated old house in picturesque Kelowna … and the added job of caring for the animals Nan couldn’t take into assisted living with her: Thaddeus, the loquacious African gray parrot with a ripe vocabulary, and his buddy, Goliath, a monster-size cat with an equally monstrous attitude.

It’s the new start Doreen and her beloved basset hound, Mugs, desperately need. But, just as things start to look up for Doreen, Goliath the cat and Mugs the dog find a human finger in Nan’s overrun garden.

And not just a finger. Once the police start digging, the rest of the body turns up and turns out to be connected to an old unsolved crime.

With her grandmother as the prime suspect, Doreen soon finds herself stumbling over clues and getting on Corporal Mack Moreau’s last nerve, as she does her best to prove her beloved Nan innocent of murder.

Attribution- Amazon.com

Biography

Dale Mayer is a USA Today bestselling author best known for her Psychic Visions and Family Blood Ties series. Her contemporary romances are raw and full of passion and emotion (Second Chances, SKIN), her thrillers will keep you guessing (By Death series), and her romantic comedies will keep you giggling (It’s a Dog’s Life and Charmin Marvin Romantic Comedy series).

She honors the stories that come to her – and some of them are crazy and break all the rules and cross multiple genres!

To go with her fiction, she also writes nonfiction in many different fields with books available on resume writing, companion gardening and the US mortgage system. She has recently published her Career Essentials Series. All her books are available in print and ebook format.

To find out more about Dale and her books, visit her at http://www.dalemayer.com. Or connect with her online with Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dalemayer and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/dalemayer.author. If you like Dale Mayer’s books and are interested in joining her street team, sign up here – https://www.facebook.com/groups/402384989872660/

Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.com

My Review

When Doreen’s ex-husband cheats on her with the divorce lawyer and leaves her with nothing, Doreen is forced to accept her grandmother’s charity.

Nan has moved into a senior’s complex and gifts Doreen a ramshackle cottage, a talkative parrot, an oversized cat, and a dead body.

Doreen’s first day is adventurous, to say the least, and only gets more interesting when the handsome, irritating Corporal Mack Moreau arrives on scene.

More clues lead to an unsolved murder and another body and Doreen thought she was moving to a boring little town!

Doreen and her parade of pets made this a fun read. Nan is a person of interest in the investigation and though Mack has warned Doreen to stay out of it, she can’t resist trying to solve the murders which leads to some interesting hijinx.

The list of suspects grows by the moment, and kept me guessing to the very end. This is a fun start to the Lovely Lethal Gardens series!

Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

#BookReview- The Little Bookshop of Love Stories by Jaimie Admans #Romance @be-the-spark


Today is the Mondayest Monday ever. Hallie Winstone has been fired – and it wasn’t even her fault!

Having lost her job and humiliated herself in front of a whole restaurant full of diners, this is absolutely, one hundred percent, the worst day of her life.
 
That is until she receives an email announcing that she is the lucky winner of the Once Upon a Page Bookshop!
 
Owning a bookshop has always been Hallie’s dream, and when she starts to find secret love letters on the first page of every book, she knows she’s stumbled across something special.

But Hallie’s beloved bookshop is in financial trouble, and with sales dwindling, she can’t help but wonder if she is really cut out to run a business.

Things start to look up when she meets gorgeous, bookish Dimitri and between them, they post a few of the hidden messages online, reuniting people who thought they were lost forever.
 
But maybe it’s time for Hallie to find her own happy-ever-after, too?

Attribution- Amazon.com

Biography

Jaimie is a 32-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, watching horror movies, and drinking tea, although she’s seriously considering marrying her coffee machine. She loves autumn and winter, and singing songs from musicals despite the fact she’s got the voice of a dying hyena. She hates spiders, hot weather, and cheese & onion crisps. She spends far too much time on Twitter and owns too many pairs of boots.
She will never have time to read all the books she wants to read.

She has been writing for years but has only just plucked up the courage to tell people.
She is the author of chick-lit romantic comedies Kismetology and The Chateau of Happily Ever Afters, and young adult romantic comedies Afterlife Academy, Not Pretty Enough, and North Pole Reform School.

Find out more on http://www.jaimieadmans.com or find me on Twitter @be_the_spark

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

My Review

Bad luck follows Hallie Winstone like a dark cloud, so she is understandably amazed to find herself the winner of a quaint old bookstore.

Reading has always been Hallie’s comfort and she’s dreamed of owning her own store one day- but she didn’t realize how much work it would be to reorganize the old shop. Good thing it comes with a flat upstairs because the store is taking over her life. Financial concerns makes her wonder if she’s jumped from the frying pan to the fire, but a handsome, quirky artist convinces Hallie not to give up.

With Dimitri’s help, Hallie begins to get a handle on the business and excitement blooms when they find books with inscriptions inside their worn covers. The romantic in Hallie wants to bring the people in the messages together, so she and Dimitri hatch a plan to advertise the notes online and the results are more than either of them expected.

This is a sweet, charming rom-com with an underlying message of trust that I found refreshing. Klutzy Dimitri and hapless Hallie make a great couple. And who wouldn’t love to find romance in a bookshop!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

Bitmoji Image
Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

Recent Posts

Smorgasbord Cafe and Bookstore – New Book on the Shelves – #Crime Virtually Gone: A Mended Souls Novel (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6) by Jacquie Biggar


Originally posted on Smorgasbord Blog Magazine:
Delighted to share the news of USA Today Bestselling author Jacquie Biggar’s latest release. Virtually Gone: A Mended Souls Novel (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 6) About the book From USA Today Bestselling Author, Jacquie Biggar, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking…

Father Figure by James. J. Cudney #Suspense #Sale @jamescudney4


Father Figure is a .99 Kindle download from 5/23 thru 5/27 – help yourselves!

Thank you so much for your support in sharing, downloading, reading, and reviewing. I appreciate it! You should pick it up before the virtual book club coming up soon… check it out

This was my introduction into James J. Cudney’s work, and can I just say, wow! Here’s a link to my review- https://jacqbiggar.com/2019/07/11/father-figure-by-jamescudney4-suspense-bookreview/

Father Figure’s plotline is nothing short of brilliant, with a surprise ending you won’t guess is coming!

Download @ http://mybook.to/FatherFigure for only .99 this week

Overview of Father Figure

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.

Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.    

Father Figure was officially launched for sale on Amazon on April 2, 2018 as both an e-book and a physical book. Reviews have been extremely positive between Goodreads and Amazon since the 5-day free download and 5-day book blitz.

  • Book Blitz: For 5 days, (4/30 thru 5/4) we posted promotions, hints, and feedback
  • Blog Tour: For 5 days (6/4 thru 6/8) we posted reviews, interviews and a giveaway

Reviews

★★★★★ – “The book deals with abuse, identity, acceptance, overcoming obstacles, crime, sexuality, family secrets, and knowing who you are. Another great story to read, especially if you love emotive, suspenseful family dramas.”

★★★★★ – “Gripping and emotional… Mr. Cudney has written a book full of twists and turns that kept my eyes glued to its pages.”

★★★★★ – “Amalia and Brianna are fully developed characters with all the fears, naivety, anxiety and angst of teen, young adults; full of questions and doubts… Can’t wait for James Cudney’s next work.”

***

Book Excerpt

Chapter One – Amalia, August 1984

“I didn’t raise no harlot, Amalia. When you’re done with softball practice today, you will go directly to the hardware store and help your father manage that cash register.” The stagnant air, sealed tightly like an old glass jar of long-forgotten jelly, refused to dissipate in the Graeme family home—even it was afraid of Janet’s wrath.

“But Momma, I’ll be home to cook dinner before sunset.” The strains in Amalia’s voice weakened with each of her mother’s refusals to let her live the normal life of a teenager.

“Didn’t you hear me the first time, child? Only little whores go to the lake.” Janet’s stern voice emptied through thin lips stained from devouring a blueberry cobbler before they’d started cooking breakfast. “Are you a little whore, Amalia?”

Retribution for daring to break any of her mother’s rules was always swift and fierce. Amalia had obeyed every word since her mother locked her in the storm cellar for ten hours when she was a toddler —punishment for spilling juice on an antique lace tablecloth. “No, I’m sorry. I thought you might let me celebrate just this once…”

The plea had barely escaped Amalia’s hesitant lips before the clammy grip of Janet’s bony hands shoved her down the hallway. “Stop your sass talk, girl. We can take another trip downstairs if you don’t care to mind me.”

Amalia’s left arm grazed the wall when stumbling from the kitchen into the dark mudroom. Dingy white paint chips rained to the floor and clung to her favorite new red blouse while passing through the dilapidated archway. She cradled her elbow, flicked off the last few flakes of her mother’s venom, and firmly held her ground. “It’s not fair. You let Greg hang out with his friends all the time.”

“Leave your brother out of this conversation. Your responsibility belongs first to this family and then to the hardware store. Who said anything about friends? Now get yourself off to practice.” Janet’s one good eye stubbornly left behind after diabetes stole the vision in her other glared while Amalia reluctantly marched toward the back door. “You’re a spiteful little child.”

“I’m taking out the trash, Momma.” Her voice carried the defeat of a soul unable to find the words or summon the strength to defend herself anymore. As she leaned over, the scoop neck on Amalia’s blouse revealed the slightest hint of cleavage between her ample breasts.

“Stop right now. What are you wearing?” Janet’s tone lingered thick over such insubordination. A special brand of disdain had been developed by watching her daddy preach to his Southern Baptist congregation for nearly forty years before he anxiously married her off to Amalia’s father.

“It’s just a pretty shirt I found at a yard sale. I’m not showing too much skin.” Amalia dropped the trash bag on the mudroom’s gray linoleum and recalled the similar, previous lectures. She refused to turn around to face the woman. “I’m not a child anymore, Momma.”

Janet stampeded through the kitchen and kicked the garbage into the far corner. Though the vinyl flooring had peeled away from the walls as the house settled, it was still not one of the more noticeable improvements desperately needed in their home. “It’s lesson time, girl.”

Amalia yelped and dashed to safety after a cast iron frying pan full of hot grease collided with bare skin on the back of her arm. “No, Momma, please…” She dropped to her knees, scooted across the mudroom floor, and cowered behind the pantry door to protect herself from any further blows. An acrid burnt plastic odor from a fiery singe on the linoleum beneath her wafted through the air as she shuddered in pain. The nerves in her forearm and elbow convulsed when the wound began to blister from the impact of her mother’s lesson.

“Someday you’ll learn how to behave yourself.” Janet grudgingly placed the frying pan on the washing machine and lifted Amalia by the curls of her hair. She tightly squeezed her daughter’s breasts while trying to raise the blouse over Amalia’s head. “I don’t know where you got these girls from. You’re hoping to entice all the boys to put their dirty little hands where they don’t belong.”

Amalia pushed away her mother’s sticky fingers willing to risk more punishment if she kept them off her trembling body. The putrid smell of Janet’s three-day-old sweat and decaying teeth littered the air between their lips. “Leave it. I’ve got a bra on underneath to keep them strapped down. I know the rules.”

Amalia’s breasts had begun to develop when she turned eleven years old. By thirteen, a custom-size bra was bought to contain them. Dresses were never allowed given the attention they’d drawn to her body’s hourglass shape. Though Janet’s words were enough of a rebuke, reduction surgery was still threatened should Amalia’s breasts grow any larger.

“I pray every night for them to stop getting bigger and for God to teach you some morals. It’s like you’re rubbing my great Aunt Tilly’s rose garden’s Miracle Grow on those dirty pillows. Tramps like you get themselves into some mighty trouble when they don’t protect their bodies.” Janet stomped back to the kitchen with the now-emptied frying pan and quickly snapped her fingers. “Cover yourself up or forget about going away to college this summer.”

“Yes, Momma.” Amalia heaved herself from the floor with the help of the door handle and collected the remains of her veiled dignity.

“And put out the trash already. It smells like a sewer in here,” snickered Janet.

Fighting back the tears brimming on the surface of her weary eyes, Amalia sighed with relief upon noticing the frying oil hadn’t ruined her blouse. In a rush to tend to her wounds while running through the living room and up the flight of stairs, Amalia crashed into her father, Peter. At sixty, he’d begun to settle into a grandfatherly presence contented by a quiet and ordinary life. He’d aged quickly in the Graeme household. Everyone did.

“Daddy, I’m so sorry. I was…” Amalia hugged her father, rested her head against his narrow chest, and listened to his enfeebled lungs wheeze with exertion.

Peter fell toward the wall and knocked over the family portrait they’d photographed during Greg’s high school graduation. “Oh, my pet, what’s wrong?” He pulled Amalia closer with one hand and adjusted the brass picture frame with the other. A thin layer of ashen skin on his face failed to cover years of misery being married to Janet. He’d long-accepted divorce would never be permitted by the daughter of a Baptist preacher and that his life would be fraught with reproach. “Did you have another squabble with your mother?”

Amalia sniffled and concealed her burns, desperate to splash cold water on the pain. “She hates me, Daddy. Momma never loved me the way she loves Greg.”

“That’s not true, honey. She’s tougher because you’re leaving later this month.” Peter brushed away a few loose curls from Amalia’s face and smiled with a fatherly love that hadn’t receded over the years. “What happened this time?”

A cherubic expression brightened her pale face with the hope he would understand but disappeared once she remembered begging had never helped before. “I asked if I could go to the lake today with the rest of the softball team for Brant’s town fair, but Momma says I have to work at the store like I do every other day.”

The population of their hometown, Brant, Mississippi, founded in 1784, hovered around five hundred inhabitants, the majority born and raised in the surrounding isolation. The Graeme family, still considered outsiders, had arrived in the mid-1800s settling about a half mile from Lake Newton—the livelihood once used to transport goods to the neighboring settlements. Over the years, as the county paved new roads to share crops more efficiently among all the nearby villages, the lake became a gathering place for the local families and visitors to enjoy each summer. Store owners had organized a bicentennial celebration for the upcoming weekend where all the citizens would barbecue ribs, hold square dancing lessons, and play various outdoor games. Amalia looked forward to it every year believing she always had the chance to find a new friend who might make the rough days pass by a little easier.

“Your momma knows best, honey. We need to be available for our customers.” Every penny was important to Janet Graeme, especially with two kids attending college—they could never close the store early. Janet often reminded them how pitching in around the house or store was impossible on account of her many illnesses. Peter nudged Amalia away and kissed her cheek. “You can leave work early to meet your teammates at tomorrow’s picnic. Will that make you happy?”

“It helps, but I’ll be the only one not going tonight.” Amalia buried her flushed cheeks into the crook of his left arm. He always smelled of Old Spice. She’d bought him the same cologne for Father’s Day every year since shopping on her own.

If Peter noticed the stinging red color or the slight favor of her left arm, he either ignored it or thought she’d injured herself in a recent softball game. He adhered to an insulated belief that his wife’s normal way of parenting didn’t include hurting or abusing their daughter. It wasn’t the first time he’d misjudged a situation. Peter once took Amalia to a movie theatre as an early birthday present telling Janet they’d stayed behind at the store to count inventory and order stock, but she found a few popcorn kernels on the floor of the family Dodge the next morning while driving to church. Janet waited until Amalia arrived home from school later that week to teach her daughter a lesson about lying. Though Amalia had only been trying to catch a schoolboy’s attention by lightening the color of her hair with lemon juice, it was a vengeful wrath she’d unexpectedly invited as Janet took a pair of shearing scissors to her daughter’s golden mane. The emotional scars from an abusive homelife were profound, but Amalia never regretted sneaking off to watch the movie. She was proud of being a daddy’s girl. He was her hero, the father she’d always treasure, the man who made it easier being the daughter of the wicked Janet Graeme.

Peter patted Amalia’s back offering any chance to ease her disillusion. “I know, but tomorrow when you go to the lake, everything will be back on track. Bring some clothes to change into so that you don’t have to come back home in between. Do you understand what I’m saying?”

“I can’t wait. I love you, Daddy.” She hugged him again and raced up the stairs to change her shirt before her mother had another outburst. Amalia applied cream to her wounds, then chose a long-sleeve button-down sweater she fastened two inches above the dip in her neck. After checking the mirror and wishing a bit of foundation could hide the uneven colors, she splashed water on her face to erase the evidence of her pain. One of Janet’s more ridiculous judgments echoed among Amalia’s numbed thoughts. ‘Only the vile women in this town wear makeup!’

Amalia flew back down the stairs and searched for the trash bag she’d left behind, realizing it would mean another lashing if her mother had stumbled upon it first. As she rushed into the living room, her father handed her a banana and elbowed her out the front door. “I already put it in the outside bin. Get to softball practice, my pet.” His voice barely audible, his expression as loud as a parade.

Amalia smiled and released an uncontrollable giggle as her countenance relaxed for the first time that morning. Although the tense nerves in her neck retreated into partial hiding, her body remained hypervigilant and always waited for the next blistery strike from her mother. She left the house flickering with excitement for the town’s festivities over the weekend but frightened at what her teammates would say about her missing the lake party. No one ever declined their much sought-after invitations without hazardous repercussions.

Although she’d graduated high school two months earlier, Amalia continued playing in the county’s summer tournaments to keep her pitching skills primed for college games. Risking a loss of the unexpectedly received scholarship—as it was the only reason she could afford to go away to school—was not an option. After practice, where she conveniently forgot to tell her teammates about missing the upcoming lake party, Amalia worked side-by-side with her father for a few hours and avoided any further trouble with her mother at home. Once Amalia climbed into bed that evening exhausted from an emotionally and physically grueling afternoon, she drifted asleep clutching her pillow and wished things would somehow improve the next day.

****

The following morning, Janet took the family’s only car to the First Baptist’s services leaving Amalia and Peter to trudge the two-mile distance to the center of town. Graeme Hardware Store was part of the town’s original train depot when first built in the mid-nineteenth century. Shortly before World War I, the train line was re-routed to a larger city a few miles away. This prompted Brant’s town council to vote in favor of converting the train depot into a lunch café and expanding the footprints of local shops hoping it would draw more income from surrounding villages. The loss of the train station left Graeme Hardware Store with far fewer customers managing barely enough to keep afloat during a good year.

Peter unlocked the store and began his morning routine to review the previous day’s sales and prepare the inventory. While he dragged a rolling stand filled with buckets of nails and screws to the exterior porch of the store, Amalia brewed a fresh pot of strong coffee. She retrieved a starter till from the safe under the desk and counted a hundred dollars in small bills and coins, then placed it in the cash register atop the laminate countertop. She grabbed a few dollars to buy breakfast from the local café and strolled to the front of the store. The sharp clank of the bell loosely hung by a nylon cord on the door bounced off all the metal tools and reverberated throughout the building. Amalia held the outer screen door to prevent it from slamming shut and made a mental note to convince her father to repair the hinge that afternoon. Customers didn’t appreciate buying tools from a hardware store with a broken front door.

“I’ll be right back, Daddy.” Amalia bounded down three short steps and traveled the building’s main wooden pathway. Frustrated by the inability to meet the girls from the softball team the prior night, Amalia recoiled at how much of an encumbrance Brant had become to her over the years. She often daydreamed of leaving it all behind but remembered no one had ever escaped. She scoffed at her emotions, slid her fingers across the pathway’s splintered handrails, and ignored the desire to run deep into the woods.

Father Figure Purchase Links

Kindle: http://mybook.to/FatherFigure

Paperback: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurepb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/fatherfigurelp

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

Married To The Texan is #Free #amreading


💔 Free for a limited time! Available in #KindleUnlimited! 💔

Married to The Texan: Gambling Hearts Series

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XBV6D8Y

International: https://books2read.com/MarriedtotheTexan

Add to your TBR List: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48072574-married-to-the-texan

Recommend me on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/books/married-to-the-texan-gambling-hearts-series-by-jacquie-biggar

Receive 3 full-length heartwarming romances plus one bonus short story from USA Today Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar

All your favorite alpha heroes and independent heroines!

Sweet, sexy romance. The perfect reading deal for your Kindle! Grab a drink and curl up for an unforgettable boxed set of romance best sellers. Each book is a standalone contemporary story of love, honor, duty, and family dilemmas.

In the set;

Hold ‘Em

In the game of love all bets are off

When professional poker player Matthew Shaughnessy wins the pot of a lifetime, he didn’t expect to land himself a fiancée.
Cassandra Gardener is left with little choice but to play the part of a Texan’s fiancée for a week if she wants to clear her father’s gambling debt.
Can two people with so much to lose win the biggest bet of all- love?

undefined Crazy Little Thing Called Love

Tony Morrison had been in love with the youngest Shaughnessy for almost as long as he’d been employed at her family’s ranch. Trouble was, he had secrets. Things he couldn’t tell anyone, especially the beautiful Sophia. So, he’d let her go.

But now she’d returned, bringing the winds of change to the Texas ranch, and Tony wasn’t sure he could protect her from the fallout.

My Girl

Aaron is overjoyed at the opening of his family’s guest ranch, until he learns their first guest is his ex-girlfriend, her parents–and a fiancé.

And that isn’t the only surprise.

undefined A Magical Christmas

When a little girl goes missing, it takes faith, love, and the help of a Christmas angel to guide her to safety.

A delightful mixture of women’s fiction, chick-lit, romantic comedy, and mystery, Married to The Texan has something for every reader!

Excerpt From Crazy Little Thing

Tony eyed the temptress teasing him with sidelong smiles and pink toe nails and wondered if he’d made a critical error in judgement. If not for his belief in her ideas he may not have made the phone call that instigated her return to the ranch. She was dangerous to him. She made him want things between them to be different—but, they weren’t. She was so far out of his league they may as well be from different galaxies. He’d come a long way, thanks to her family’s generosity, but the past was a gossamer web waiting to trap those he cared about, and he couldn’t afford to take any chances. Not with Sophia.

“You just going to stand there, cowboy?”

Her sultry voice reached deep inside and tugged on dreams and wishes he’d worked hard to stifle. It made him angry, resentful of the power she wielded over him. It been five years, when would this attraction fade?

“We should go. Your brothers will be wondering where you are.” His fidgeting with the reins transmitted to the horses, they danced sideways, sending water up in a wide arc that covered his jeans. He cursed and jumped out of the way. “Look what you made me do now,” he said, swiping at the wet stains.

“Me?” She giggled. “Cleo obviously thought you needed cooling down, too.”

He got a mental picture of the horse picking him up by the scruff of the neck and dumping him in the pond, and grinned. “I guess it could have been worse.” He dropped the reins to ground-tie the troublemakers and joined Sophia on the bank. “Guess we have to wait awhile, I don’t want to explain this to the crew.” He waved at his wet crotch.

She glanced down, then slowly lifted her gaze to his, the smile dying from her lips. “No,” she murmured. “We wouldn’t want that.”

Great. Now the pants weren’t only wet, they were tight.

What Readers are Saying

Romance designed to thrill and entertain!
An old song says you can gamble for gold but never for love.
Well, these cowboys will prove you wrong!
Enough spice to hold you spellbound.
Good story lines with strong characters.

Evonne Hutton

A collection of compassionate love stories, one could call it an epic. You will laugh, get aggravated, tear up, maybe openly cry. You will definitely feel like you are part of the character’s lives.

My favorite – A Magical Christmas. A little girl gets lost and magical angels help her out. I highly recommend Married to the Texan box set by Jacquie Biggar.

SpecialAngel

Also Free

Virtually Yummy: Recipes that Inspire

The recipes in this book come from different sources: some of them are treasured family recipes, some were garnered from our travels around the world, and others—inspired by the adventures of our characters and by their culinary feats.

Join us for a taste of hearty Rutabega soup, Mexican delicacies such as Mole Source, Berry Salsa and Mexican Omelet, French pastries such as Tart Tatin, and Indian deserts such as Mango Phirni. No matter where these recipes come from, we find them not only delicious but also inspiring. We hope you will too.

Our characters love eating and they love to cook. Often, they do it together. They come from our multi-author series, High-Tech Crime Solvers, centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how.

To enjoy Virtually Yummy, no high-tech skills are needed. Whip it up and be inspired!

#BookReview- Virtually Dead by Edwin Dasso #Suspense @DassoEdwin


From critically acclaimed bestselling crime writer, Edwin Dasso, comes a gripping techno-thriller, part of a multi-author series tied together by an interlocking cast of characters, all centered around the fantastic new promise of high technology and the endless possibilities for crime that technology offers, in a world where getting away with murder can be not only plausible, but easy…if you just know how.

A young rising-star ad executive, Michael Saleen, in Vancouver dies unexpectedly. The police think it’s just another “routine” auto accident, in spite of some odd findings. The executive’s wife feels otherwise. A friend of hers knows Wes Watley, an ex-Army CID officer and FBI SAC who has now started a private security company, if he’d be willing to investigate the death. Though Wes’ company normally focuses on national security and antiterrorism cases, his friend compels him to take on the case of Saleen’s death. Wes thinks it will be a quick, open-and-close case. Wes is joined by his tech-whiz partner, Cameron, and they soon discover more and more oddities about the case. As they dig further, they uncover something far more extensive and dire than just the unexpected death of Michael Saleen. Uncovering the whole truth is going to stretch their crime-solving abilities and force them to use technology in new ways.

★★★★★ “I can’t wait to read more books by this author = unbelievable imagination and talent!”

Scroll up and grab Virtually Dead today!

Biography

Edwin Dasso, MD, a USA Today and Amazon International #1 Best-Selling medical thriller author, writes works of fiction that leverage many of his “stranger than fiction” experiences from years of practice at major medical centers and community hospitals.

“You might be shocked at some of the events in the books that are based on an actual experience.”

Member of the International Thriller Writers.

His “Jack Bass Black Cloud Chronicles” series has been developed into a TV series, “Jack Bass, MD,” (https://www.facebook.com/jackbassmd/?ref=bookmarks) which is actively being discussed around Hollywood. Network feedback has been very positive.

Fiction writing is reviving a lost love from earlier periods in his life where he enjoyed writing short stories. In addition to a number of years as a practicing anesthesiologist and critical care specialist, he has published articles in national healthcare journals, written many “Ask the Doctor” columns and has spoken frequently at national healthcare forums. He has also been instrumental in designing and deploying population health programs to help people deal with depression related to poor health.

Ed can be contacted at jackblackcloud2@hotmail.com or reach him on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/BlackCloudChronicles/).

Photo by Ognjen Karabegović on Pexels.com

My Review

When private security expert Wes Watley is asked to investigate a case for a friend, he doesn’t expect to be thrown into the confusing world of virtual gaming technology and murder.

An ad executive takes a sudden plunge off a cliff and the only clue is strange goggle-like markings on his face. Wes and his techy partner, Cameron, delve into the possibilities with little results until investigative reporter Julie Crenshaw gets involved and the stakes are raised.

This book delves into the latest in high-tech crime and the process used to track down a cold, ruthless killer.

Favorite Line

He soon spotted the yellow crime scene tape, a cold breeze making it flitter like a bird trying to escape to a better place.

Dasso, Edwin. Virtually Dead (High-Tech Crime Solvers Book 4)

I was fascinated by the research that went into writing this technical suspense filled with enough twists and turns to keep any mystery lover happy.

This is part of an eight book series written by different authors of high-tech crime thrillers with interconnecting characters and I look forward to reading more!

Clientmoji
Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!

Watching Glass Shatter by James j. Cudney #amreading #Drama @jamescudney4


If you haven’t tried a James J. Cudney book, now is the perfect time!

His writing is filled with family dynamics, something that appeals to me. I’ve read, and enjoyed, many of Jay’s books (you can check out my review for Haunted House Ghost here, Academic Curveball here, and Father Figure here. Needless to say, I’m a fan!

May is a big month. All of James J. Cudney’s books will be discounted for a few days at some point. This week, it’s Watching Glass Shatter, his debut 2017 novel about a family drama imploding from a bounty of secrets. Download the Kindle format here as it’s only .99 from 5/17 thru 5/21. Rumor has it that the sequel will be coming out this fall… maybe it’s time to get on board the Glass family train!

Book Overview

After 40 years of marriage, Olivia Glass thought she could handle the unexpected death of her husband. But when Ben’s will reveals a life-altering secret, she suffers a blow no widow should ever experience.

Olivia learns that she gave birth to a baby who later died in the nursery. Instead of telling his wife what happened, Ben switched the child with another. And as if that’s not enough, Ben’s will doesn’t reveal which of their five sons is truly not hers.

While an attorney searches for answers, Olivia visits each of her sons to share a final connection before facing the truth that will change their family, and discovers that each of them has been harboring a painful secret, just like their father.

Olivia challenges herself to re-assemble and save their relationships. But will the secrets destroy their family beyond repair?

Blog Tour

  • The book went on a 17-day blog tour at the end of 2017. You can read all posts via this one location by clicking here.

Radio Interview

  • The author was a guest on the Artist First radio segment on Tuesday, November 14th from 6 to 7pm. To listen to the recorded 1-hour broadcast for news on the book and author, click here.

Book Reviews & Interviews

  • In addition to Goodreads and Amazon, you can find a central link to some very fun and in-depth book reviews and author interviews here.

Get to Know the Glass Family

Cassandra M. Baker

Book Excerpt

Present, Memorial Day Weekend

Sitting in the backseat of his steel-gray Mercedes-Benz sedan, Ben switched the mobile phone to his other ear and removed the seatbelt out of his way, loath to strap himself in for any length of time. When its band rested tightly across his chest, he struggled to breathe, preferring instead to trust in his long-time chauffeur’s driving abilities more than a piece of nylon fabric hinged to a pulley. “I’m in the car heading toward you. I should arrive in twenty minutes.”

“Still happily married to the woman of your dreams?” Olivia’s lyrical voice echoed on the phone.

“Ah, my beautiful Olivia. The last forty years have been amazing. There’s so much ahead of us and still to come.”

“I love you more than yesterday.”

“But not as much as tomorrow.” He played along enjoying their frivolous banter.

“Please get to the party soon. It’s not any fun when I’m dancing a rumba by myself. Remember when we crashed into the instructor while taking those silly dance lessons, and she yelled at us for being fools? Oh, I never laughed so hard.”

“Ha, yes! We are quite the pair. No wife of mine should ever dance alone. At least not while I can prevent it.” Ben glanced through the car window, surprised by the speed of the muddy water cascading down the mountains as his chauffeur took the exit to their country club in Brandywine, Connecticut. “I believe tonight is the first time the whole family has been together since last Christmas. Am I right?”

“Yes, they’re all here now reminding me so much of the you I remember from our early days.” Olivia sighed and waited for Ben to respond.

Ben’s thoughts drifted while lightning crackled in the sky, and rain pounded the black-tarred roads around him. “Time flies by too quickly, Olivia.”

“You’ve got a few months left, then you’ll retire and have nothing but time to be a grandfather and a father doling out advice. Even if they don’t want to listen to us. They never do, do they? Wishing you could turn back the clock. At least we can finally take our trip to Europe…” She paused. “Are you still there, Ben?”

Ben snapped from the storm’s hypnotic trance upon hearing Olivia’s rising voice. “I’m sorry. Recalling their antics over the years distracted me. I don’t know how we survived five boys.”

Ben heard her beautiful snicker–about to tell Olivia he loved her–when the car swerved as it neared the final exit on the slick asphalt curve, unaware traffic had come to a full stop ahead. He dropped the phone from the unplanned change in direction, grabbed it from under the front passenger seat, and raised his head.

Ben’s heartbeat and breath paused significantly longer than usual, enough to recognize the encroaching overpass column directly in his purview and to accept the impending fate laid before him.

Whoever said life flashes before one’s eyes in your final moments never lived to truly describe it. In Ben’s case, although they only lasted ten explosive seconds, those moments managed to include all sixty-nine years of his existence, each image punctuated by a blinding flash of pure white light and deafened by the harsh snapping sound of an old-time camera shutter.

CRUNCH. Grinding squeal. Bright light glimmers in a dark vacuum.

The enchanting depth of Olivia’s cerulean blue eyes the night they first met at the opera. Their wedding day when he truly understood what it meant to find one’s soulmate.

SNAP. Utter blackness, followed by a perforated vibrant glow.

The Thanksgiving feast spent at the hospital when his sister-in-law, Diane, broke her foot trying to avoid dropping the turkey on Bailey, their ten-year-old Shiba dog. Seeing his granddaughters nestled in tiny pink blankets when his sons brought them home the first day.

POP. Sharp, dark void. High pitch release of pressure, then a translucent shining flash.

The white-water rafting adventure on the Snake River in Yellowstone National Park where his boys rescued him from falling into the cold water only to stumble upon an angry moose searching for dinner. The final family portrait taken the prior year when everyone wore shades of black and white for a retro-style Christmas card setting.

BOOM. Screeching whistle. Bright light fades to total darkness.

The parchment letters which held the secret he kept from Olivia, pawned off on his attorney to handle once anxiety and fear defeated any chance of Ben telling his wife the truth in person.

The car hydroplaned atop a few inches of the warm, pooling rain and crashed into the steel overpass. The collision immediately torpedoed him through the front windshield, shattering what was the well-lived but haunted life of Benjamin Glass.

A final burst of the bulb’s filament into jagged shards.

* * *

Despite Olivia’s tendencies to lead and control, she’d little ability to plan Ben’s funeral services on her own. Diane recognized her sister’s fragile grip on reality teetered on the edge, volunteering to go with Olivia to the funeral home to manage most of the phone calls, selections, catering, and organizing.

Choosing Ben’s burial clothing served as the only funeral activity Olivia handled without any help. After pocketing an hour’s worth of sleep and waking up alone the morning after the accident, she accepted his death was anything but a dream. The restless night highlighted a comfort she didn’t know how much she had relied until stolen by fate. Olivia thrust her tired body out of their bed, walked to the closet, and pushed a slew of hangers across the sleek metal rod reminiscing while passing each suit as though every year of their lives disappeared before her weary eyes. She searched for the one he’d worn to the Met’s opening opera the prior year. After weeks of shopping that summer, she’d finally convinced him to expand his horizons with a new designer, selecting a modern-cut, three-button black wool suit adorning him better than any other had fit in the past. Even Ben had admitted she chose correctly. And he’d rarely admit so, given she’d laud it over him teasing Ben for days. They enjoyed their game of one-upmanship over the years, but now days later, she knew it was lost forever.

The final burial service ended thirty minutes earlier, and although everyone else had left, she stayed behind for her own last goodbye. Olivia’s memory focused on the somber tones that had serenaded the lowering of Ben’s casket six feet into the ground. Once the skirl of the bagpipes blasted its sorrowful resonance, Olivia, standing a few feet from Ben’s freshly open grave, could no longer thwart the wrecking ball that planned to decimate any remaining strength. The slow, melodic sound sliced away at the newly loosened threads once tasked with keeping her heart intact and sheltered from acknowledging a widow’s pain. Her battered eyes betrayed any remaining fortitude she’d stored deep within her body, and as the chords of “Amazing Grace” resounded from the chanter pipe, the cords of her soul, once intricately woven into Ben, ripped from Olivia’s chest. The flood of tears from her stinging red eyes trailed her cheeks as she walked to the car leaving behind a single set of prints that marked an unknown future.

As she stepped off the cemetery’s grassy path, she pulled a black cashmere sweater closer toward her shivering skin to halt the biting frost growing deep within her bones. Ben always said her true beauty glimmered when she wore black and gray, complimenting her on the elegant silhouette against her ivory skin and dark sable hair. She kept her shiny locks shoulder length, usually tied back with a clip, and although gray had appeared the last year, the varying shades were regal and striking on her patrician face.

Olivia pressed her palm to her chest and lowered her head until she’d emptied a few layers of grief. She opened the car door and slid across the back seat next to Diane.

All that remained before her impending post-Ben world began was to tell her driver he could leave the cemetery, but uttering those words felt impossible. As if Diane sensed the struggle within her sister, she leaned forward and motioned to the driver to start the car, allowing Olivia a few moments to accept the beginning of her new life. While the car served as a false protection from the reality waiting outside the doors to its passengers, it also evoked a budding nostalgia.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. G. He was a good man.” Victor had been her driver for twenty-five years taking her to each child’s pediatric appointments, all her charitable foundation work, and every dinner with friends and family. “I’ll take care of you today, Mrs. G.” He checked the rearview mirror and nodded when he saw Olivia’s eyes, a quiet acknowledgment she’d heard his words. They sat in silence as Victor released the brake and inched the car away from Olivia’s latest prison.

Olivia and Diane had come from a poor upstate New York family where they shared a bed until they were nine years old, later pushed out of the door to work as housekeepers by age thirteen. Their parents told them only enough money existed for one to go to college, even if they could secure a scholarship to pay for most of it, and Olivia earned the lucky windfall. Diane believed school held no importance to her appearing content to remain in the small comforts of her home. Supporting her sister seemed easier for Diane than choosing her own path in life, focusing on anything but what she ought to do for herself.

“It was a beautiful ceremony.” Diane relaxed into the car seat. “The cherry tree you planted alongside the grave was touching, Liv. You’ve created a lifetime of memories for your family.”

“Is everyone else at the house?” Olivia pressed her fingers to her temple, pacified by the warm blood swimming through each one under her clammy skin.

“Yes, they’re setting up lunch. Only your boys will be there. We’ve spent enough time with friends and neighbors. I even asked George to stay away, so I could help you without worrying about him.”

George, Diane’s soon-to-be ex-husband, had attended Ben’s funeral service and conveyed his sterile condolences to Olivia. Though he’d been married to Diane for thirty years, George barely knew his wife’s family, not ever having an interest in other people’s children nor any of his own. Diane had finally grown tired of his cavalier attitude and vigilant penchant for ignoring their marriage, requesting a divorce earlier that spring.

“That was a good idea. You really should have dumped that unfortunate man years ago.” Olivia placed her hand on Diane’s noticing the age spots more prominently displayed on her sister’s than her own. Her voice stammered, but she held firm until finishing her thoughts. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for me these last few days.”

Despite being a few years younger, most people assumed Diane was at least a decade older than Olivia. She’d grown out her hair the last few years and tightly braided it to her lower back, wearing the same dress as she had to her nephews’ weddings and other recent funerals. She hated to spend any time fussing with her appearance. “It’s a shame Ben’s brother couldn’t make the funeral.”

Ben was the youngest of several siblings. When Olivia called her brother-in-law, he could barely even speak on the phone from the impacts of grief and his aging mind. His children stopped in for the wake but chose not to stay for the graveside burial.

“No, his family has withered. Ben only had us left. It’s unbearable for our children to go through this agony. You first focus on your own pain but watching them suffer steals all remaining breaths.”

Diane fumbled with the clasp on her purse and handed Olivia a tissue. “And without any warning. It’s awful, but you’ll know how to help them through it.”

“I can see the pain in Ethan’s eyes, but he’s strong and will grieve privately. He’ll miss Ben the most. Ethan’s always been so focused on spending time with all of us, his grandparents… oh, I can’t…” Olivia dabbed her eyes with the tissue.

“It’s such a shame to lose his father when he’s so close to becoming a doctor. Ben would have been so proud when Ethan fulfills his dreams.”

Olivia nodded. “Matthew had to tell his daughters their grandfather died. They’re too young to understand, but it was dreadful for him to show them Ben’s casket. He keeps talking about all the father-son weekends fishing and camping at Lake Wokagee. They’d planned another one this summer.”

“They loved those trips. Well, maybe not all of them.”

“That’s true. Theodore has alienated himself from us even more than usual the last few months.”

Theodore was Ben and Olivia’s eldest son, and though she would always call him by his proper name, everyone else chose Teddy. Ben had groomed him to take over the law practice at the end of the year, coaching his son on how to act as a stronger, more respected leader and to become a less antagonistic man. Teddy’s actions were always packaged with a rough edge, and the tone of his words and speech pattern sounded robotic. Although Teddy had shown up to football Sundays and movie nights, interacting with his family always resembled more of an obligation rather than an enjoyment.

The car turned passing the corner where Ben had always dropped off the boys for the school bus in the morning on his way to work. A few heavy drops fell from Olivia’s eyes. She let them roll across her cheeks, reluctant to grant them total control. She imagined Ben lining each son side by side, inspecting his loyal soldiers, and patting their heads as he christened each one ready to begin his day.

“At least Caleb is back for a few more days.” Diane rubbed her sister’s shoulder. “You’ll get to spend more time with him.”

Caleb had only agreed to attend the anniversary party the prior weekend after much pressure, but he stayed in Connecticut for the funeral to grieve for his father’s passing. Olivia once thought Caleb would stay home with her and Ben when they grew older, but abandoned hope when he disappeared to Maine ten years earlier.

“Caleb’s hurting. I know my son. I wish he weren’t all alone. He needs someone to lean on… a girlfriend, a wife. The guilt over living so far away must be consuming him.”

“Caleb is strong like you in so many ways holding back to protect himself from the intensity of it all. I’m sure he’s got friends to look out for him. What about Zach? Are you still worried he’s using…”

Olivia interrupted. “He drove back to Brooklyn last night for work. I heard him arrive early this morning. Zachary’s actions are always unclear.”

Olivia thought Zach often spiraled out of control when he left his five-year-old daughter in her and Ben’s care unsure of what trouble he’d engaged in. She and Zach hadn’t been close the last few years, and despite a few attempts at a reconciliation, it always proved futile.

“Five boys without a father. We should have had more time.” Olivia leaned forward and reached a hand to the front seat to sturdy herself. Her head sloped toward the floor of the car when her voice cracked.

Diane rested her head on her sister’s back. “I know, Liv, but you’ll support them. You’ll remind them of Ben, and they’ll find a way to get through their grief. It takes time. Pain is different for everyone. You need to replace it with memories of something positive.”


Watching Glass Shatter Available Formats & Languages

Kindle: http://mybook.to/WGS

Paperback: http://mybook.to/watchingglasspb

Large Print: http://mybook.to/watchingglasslp

Italian Translation: http://mybook.to/frantumi

Spanish Translation: http://mybook.to/elcristalpb

US Audiobook: https://www.audible.com/pd/B07X5MMVK9/?source_code=AUDFPWS0223189MWT-BK-ACX0-162878&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162878_rh_us

UK Audiobook: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/B07X7H619V/?source_code=AUKFrDlWS02231890H6-BK-ACX0-162878&ref=acx_bty_BK_ACX0_162878_rh_uk

About The Author

Background

James is my given name, but most folks call me Jay. I live in New York City, grew up on Long Island, and graduated from Moravian College, an historic but small liberal arts school in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, with a degree in English literature and minors in Education, Business and Spanish. After college, I accepted a technical writing position for a telecommunications company during Y2K and spent the last ~20 years building a career in technology & business operations in the retail, sports, media and entertainment industries. Throughout those years, I wrote some short stories, poems and various beginnings to the “Great American Novel,” but I was so focused on my career in technology and business that writing became a hobby. In 2016, I refocused some of my energies toward reinvigorating a second career in reading, writing and publishing.

Author

Writing has been a part of my life as much as my heart, my mind and my body. At some points, it was just a few poems or short stories; at others, it was full length novels and stories. My current focus is family drama fiction, cozy mystery novels and suspense thrillers. I think of characters and plots that I feel must be unwound. I think of situations people find themselves in and feel compelled to tell the story. It’s usually a convoluted plot with many surprise twists and turns. I feel it necessary to take that ride all over the course. My character is easily pictured in my head. I know what he is going to encounter or what she will feel. But I need to use the right words to make it clear.

Reader & Reviewer

Reading has also never left my side. Whether it was children’s books, young adult novels, college textbooks, biographies or my ultimate love, fiction, it’s ever present in my day. I read 2 books per week and I’m on a quest to update every book I’ve ever read on Goodreads, write up a review and post it on all my sites and platforms.

Blogger & Thinker

I have combined my passions into a single platform where I share reviews, write a blog and publish tons of content: TRUTH. I started my 365 Daily Challenge, where I post about a word that has some meaning to me and converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dogs have had weekly segments called “Ryder’s Rants” or “Baxter’s Barks” where they complain about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real. And that’s why they are me.

Genealogist & Researcher

I love history and research, finding myself often reaching back into the past to understand why someone made the choice he or she did and what were the subsequent consequences. I enjoy studying the activities and culture from hundreds of years ago to trace the roots and find the puzzle of my own history. I wish I could watch my ancestors from a secret place to learn how they interacted with others; and maybe I’ll comprehend why I do things the way I do.

Websites & Blog

Website: https://jamesjcudney.com/

Blog: https://thisismytruthnow.com

Amazon: http://bit.ly/JJCIVBooks

Next Chapter Pub: https://www.nextchapter.pub/authors/james-j-cudney

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/james-j-cudney

Social Media

Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamescudney4

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JamesJCudneyIVAuthor/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BraxtonCampusMysteries/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ThisIsMyTruthNow/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jamescudney4/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jamescudney4/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/jamescudney4

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamescudney4

Genres, Formats & Languages

I write in the family drama and mystery genres. My first two books are Watching Glass Shatter (2017) and Father Figure (2018). Both are contemporary fiction and focus on the dynamics between parents and children and between siblings. I’m currently writing the sequel to Watching Glass Shatter. I also have a light mystery series called the Braxton Campus Mysteries with six books available.

All my books come in multiple formats (Kindle, physical print, large print paperback, and audiobook) and some are also translated into foreign languages such as Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and German.

Goodreads Book Links

Watching Glass Shatter (October 2017)

Father Figure (April 2018)

Braxton Campus Mysteries

#BookReview- If You Must Know by Jamie Beck #WomensFic @writerjamiebeck


Life turns upside down for two sisters in Wall Street Journal bestselling author Jamie Beck’s emotional novel about how secrets and differences can break—or bind—a family.

Sisters Amanda Foster and Erin Turner have little in common except the childhood bedroom they once shared and the certainty each feels that her way of life is best. Amanda follows the rules—at the school where she works; in her community; and as a picture-perfect daughter, wife, and mother-to-be. Erin follows her heart—in love and otherwise—living a bohemian lifestyle on a shoestring budget and honoring her late father’s memory with a passion for music and her fledgling bath-products business.

The sisters are content leading separate but happy lives in their hometown of Potomac Point until everything is upended by lies that force them to confront unsettling truths about their family, themselves, and each other. For sisters as different as these two, building trust doesn’t come easily—especially with one secret still between them—but it may be the only way to save their family.

Biography

Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Jamie Beck’s realistic and heartwarming stories have sold more than two million copies. She is a two-time Booksellers’ Best Award finalist, a National Readers’ Choice Award winner, and critics at Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Booklist have respectively called her work “smart,” “uplifting,” and “entertaining.” In addition to writing novels, she enjoys dancing around the kitchen while cooking and hitting the slopes in Vermont and Utah. Above all, she is a grateful wife and mother to a very patient, supportive family.

Fans can learn more about her on the web (www.jamiebeck.com), which includes a fun extras page with photos, videos, and playlists. She also loves interacting with everyone on Facebook (www.facebook.com/JamieBeckBooks). For monthly fun tips, birthday sweepstakes and other exclusive content, join my newsletter at http://bit.ly/1V0d7Qi. NO SPAM–EVER. For updates on discounts, follow me on BookBub at http://bit.ly/2GBcLM3.

Photo by Mike on Pexels.com

My Review

Pregnant, in love with her handsome husband and owner of her dream home, Amanda Foster believes she has the world by the tail- that is until he disappears on a so-called business trip, taking her mother’s life savings with him. And then she learns of his affair.

Erin Foster puts out a confident, take-no-crap attitude, but in reality she deeply mourns the loss of her father and the emotional distance between herself and the rest of her family. A messy breakup convinces her it’s time to make some changes in her life.

When Erin and Amanda’s mother has a series of accidents caused by stress, the sisters pull together to watch over her, get back the stolen money, and see that justice is served.

This is a well written story on family dynamics. Sometimes, life knocks us down, as Amanda learned, and the family we take for granted are the only ones we can truly count on to have our backs.

The characters are multi-dimensional and though the plotline went a little over the top, it was believable because of their reactions.

An enjoyable read!

“I voluntarily read an ARC of this book which was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.”

Bitmoji Image
Check out all of my book recommendations on BookBub 

I love having guests on the blog. If you have a new release, a sale or just want to chat, send me an email via the contact page and we’ll set something up. Hope to see you soon!