DOWNLOAD FLORIDA FICTION SERIES FOR $0.99 CENTS THIS WEEK

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Three novels in one package, these novels represent my love for Florida in all its crazy and complicated glory.

Here’s a review from author Uvi Poznansky that I treasure. I love it when others call me a storyteller. That’s my job, but it’s always nice to be recognized as such by someone else.

Review:  PC Zick is a unique storyteller. Her female protagonists are energetic fighters, tackling conflicts within their families and society. Their thoughts reflect what’s in her heart: a caring for a place (hence the name of the series, Florida fiction), a sense of awe when history is unraveled, and a deep passion for a cause, all of which propel them through the twists and turns of the plot, seeking a way to arrive at resolution. Writing in bursts of dialogue, and in short chapters that often alternate in time, she takes it upon herself to weave together political and social strands with familial ones, to create a rich, complex tapestry as the backdrop for her stories. That is why they ring true in the deepest sense of the word. Her dedication on the opening page of Tortoise Stew says it all: “For all the underdogs who fight for justice because it’s the right thing to do.”

In the first novel, Native Lands, the story alternates between two time frames: 1760, where we meet Locka—son of a native tribe in Florida, who suffers the loss of his wife and finds himself attracted to the beautiful Mali—and the present, where we meet Emily Booth, the mother of a difficult teen and the wife of a political candidate Daniel, and the columnist Barbara Evans, who writes about environmental issues. In both time frames, the author bases her writing on in-depth research to create detailed, convincing realities in a manner that highlights the contrasts between past and present.

3-D1Set on Florida’s panhandle and the east coast near St. Augustine, the second novel, Trails in the Sand, presents Caroline, a woman faced with challenges on two levels: her family and her environment. On the family level, she uncovers family secrets–murder, incest, and pregnancies—secrets that went unspoken for as long as three generations back. Going forward, these secrets threaten to unsettle the shaky balance between her, her husband, and his daughter, as they struggle to reach for each other and find forgiveness. On the environment level, they must pull their efforts together, to rescue sea turtles that are threatened by extinction due to environmental hazards brought on by society. In Zick’s writing, the family and environment issue are interconnected: the night scene on a beach near Cape Canaveral, when the sea turtle hatchlings make their way to the sea, is moving on both levels at once. It left trails in the sand, in a direction which for me, evoked hope for a future founded on understanding and acceptance.

TORTISE_webThe third novel, Tortoise Stew, explores further this notion of trying to reach understanding and acceptance even in the face of differences. “If we’re all shouting, who’s listening?” It presents Kelly Sands, a reporter investigating politically explosive environmental issues in the town of Calloway. The story opens with her staring at a bomb meant to scare her away from her investigation. Armadillos and gopher tortoise fall victim to an all out warfare surrounding the development of Florida, while a commissioner is murdered and his wife commits suicide. In this atmosphere of ruthlessness, how can cooler minds prevail, to form a sane solution?

Taken together, these three novels showcase Zick’s gift as a master weaver. They are smartly constructed, rich with detail, and offer both enlightenment and delight.

Click here to grab your copy.

 

 

Sneak Peek – Christmas Pets & Kisses box set

Mavy’s Christmas Miracle – Sharon Coady
Anne Hurd returns to the Pocono’s to help her elderly grandfather. Six years earlier Kyle Shafer disappeared from her life. She rescues a kitten, takes her to a vet who turns out to be Kyle. Kyle can’t believe Anne walked back into his life. Will he scare her away, or will she give him another chance? Kyle decides to take a chance and try for the love he gave up on.
Excerpt

Anne couldn’t believe this was happening. She knelt down and sobbed as the tiny gray kitten tried to raise his head. His body was shaking and foam spilled from his mouth along with a diminutive meow.
“Oh poor baby, why would someone do this to you? I’ll be right back.” She ran into her grandparents’ cabin.
“Pop, one of the kittens is hurt. I think someone poisoned him. He can’t move and foam is coming from his mouth.”
“Let’s go take a look.” He reached over and took her arm to steady himself as she helped him down the three wooden steps and off the porch. At ninety years old, he was still independent, but smart enough to know his step was no longer steady.
Tears welled up in his eyes as he looked down at the kitten. “Poor little fellow.” He glanced at Anne. “Looks like you were right. Go get my gun, girl. The Smith and Wesson twenty-two. We don’t want him suffering any longer.”
Anne ran back into the house, sadness for the kitten engulfing her. She had fallen in love with him the first time he had come out from under the house and stared at her with his dark green eyes. It had taken her almost three weeks to coax him into letting her get close enough to pet him. The kittens were about eight weeks old now and she had hoped to convince her grandfather to adopt the one of them.
Grabbing Pop’s gun carefully, she hurried back outside and waited patiently as he asked her to steady him while he put the kitten down. Taking a deep breath, he pulled the trigger. The bang resonated loudly and echoed in the silence that followed. Pop sighed, shook his head and wiped a tear away from his deeply wrinkled cheek.
“I’ll never understand how some people can be so cruel to little animals. Can you bury him, girl?”
“Yes, but I’ll take you back inside first.” She took his arm and helped him back to the porch, not trying to hide the tears streaming down her cheeks. She glanced at his face as she helped him up the steps and saw how tired he was. He stumbled a bit on the last step and she put her arm around him and gave him a hug.
“Things happen and people are mean sometimes. See if you can find any of the others after you bury him.”
“I will.”
He shuffled over to his cabinet and laid the pistol down. He stood for a moment, shaking his head and mumbling under his breath. His shoulders bent as he put his hands in his pockets.
“I’m going now. I’ll let you know if I see any of the others.” She pulled on her old wool coat and zipped it up, not looking forward to the task at hand.
After she took care of the kitten, she put the shovel back in place and made her way to the porch. It made her sad to see the cracked and peeling paint covering the cabin. She closed her eyes and brought to mind the images of the place she remembered from her childhood: Gram’s lovingly tended gardens full of different types of flowers in front of the small, enclosed porch. The white paint covering the wood siding of the cabin, making it neat and tidy. Her favorite image was of Gram looking out the kitchen window while she washed her dishes, smiling as Anne picked the blackberries off the bush.
Kneeling down, she tried to see underneath the porch, hoping to spot the other kittens. Her heart sank when she saw no movement. I hate to tell him the other ones are gone. I can’t do it. She stood up and made her way slowly into the house.
When she walked in, he glanced at her. “Did you see the rest of them?” His steel-blue eyes searched her face.
“It was too dark. I’ll have to look again tomorrow. I’m going to start dinner now.” She prayed he wouldn’t see the sadness on her face.
“Do you need me to peel potatoes? I always did for your grandmother.”
“That would be wonderful. I’ll bring them to you.” She grabbed four potatoes, the old green Tupperware strainer and his favorite peeler. “Here you go.” She stooped down and kissed the top of his bald head. “Love you,” she whispered.
“Love you too, girl.” He set to work peeling the potatoes.
She wondered if her resemblance to Gram bothered him. Everyone told her she looked just like a younger version of her grandmother. Anne had the same cinnamon colored hair and slight build, but her grandmother’s eyes had been a deep hazel color while hers were green.
Pop interrupted her thoughts. “So, you’ll look for the other kittens?”
“Sure. I’ll go out first thing in the morning and look around.” She glanced over to see his brows drawn down, and his lips pressed together. “Hopefully, they’re okay.”
Reviewer’s Comment
“Sometimes, Christmas miracles come in small packages — a sweet and heartwarming story.” – Rachelle Ayala

About the Author


Sharon Coady lives in Florida with her husband, three of their daughters and five of their eleven grandchildren. She wrote two books before discovering Romance novels. She has now written a romantic suspense, a romance novella and is currently writing a Christmas novella. She has two published novels. When not working as a nurse for the Veterans Administration or writing she enjoys spending time with her family and riding behind her husband on their Harley.Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sharon-Coady-Author/320824178053345?ref=hl
Twitter:
https://twitter.com/srcoady

Mavy’s Christmas Miracle is EXCLUSIVE to Christmas Pets & Kisses from October 6 – November 6, so pre-order Christmas Pets & Kisses today and be the first of your friends to read Mavy’s Christmas Miracle by Sharon Coady today!
Get into the Christmas spirit with CHRISTMAS PETS & KISSES. Limited time offer, so grab your set today! ONLY 99c


SNEAK PEEK AT ANOTHER STORY FROM CHRISTMAS PETS AND KISSES

I’m a big fan of Michele Shriver‘s work, so I’m sure this Christmas sweet romance will be sure to please. Check out this excerpt.
The Christmas Wish – Michele Shriver
Ashley McLaughlin is struggling to move on from her husband’s infidelity. Brennan wants to make amends for his transgression. Their young daughter, Hayley, has only one wish for Christmas- for her family to be together again. When Hayley suffers a head injury after a fall from her horse, will it help her get her wish? Or do the wounds from Brennan’s betrayal run too deep for Ashley to forgive?

Excerpt

Prologue

Hayley
“That stupid horse,” I hear my mother say. “Youhad to go and get her that stupid horse, as if that might somehow assuage your guilt, and now here we are. Watching our daughter lay unconscious in the hospital.”
Assuage. I don’t know what that word means, butit doesn’t matter. I can tell my mom is angry at my dad, like she always seems to be these days, and now
she’s blaming him for buying me Thunder. And even worse, blaming Thunder for me being here, just because I fell off of him and hurt my head.
I’m not sure what my dad’s supposed to feel guilty about, either. Maybe moving out and leaving my mom and me alone? I miss the way things were when we used to be a family, the three of us. We were happy, and I thought we were the perfect family. I even asked my parents for a baby brother or sister for Christmas last year. I didn’t get my wish. Instead, my mom got mad at my dad and my dad moved to an apartment in the city, where I only seem once a week. And I got Thunder.
Yeah, I’ve always wanted a horse and I love Thunder. I think he’s the best horse ever, and the prettiest, even after what happened today. But I’d trade him in a minute to have things back to the way they used to be.
I don’t even care about a baby brother or sister anymore. I only have one wish for Christmas. I want my dad to come home. I want my family to be together again.
“Sheesh, Ashley, can you let it rest for even aminute?” my dad wants to know. “Does everything always have to be a fight with you?”
It never used to be like that. She used to smile. She used to be happy. Then she started crying a lot, and my dad left, and she cried even more. Now she doesn’t cry as much, but she always seems angry, especially with my dad.
“I don’t know, Brennan, you tell me,” she snaps. “After all, you’re the reason we’re here.”
“Yes, I know. It’s always my fault.” He gives that sigh that I’m so used to hearing, like he’s just tired and frustrated. “Everything’s my fault, and I’m sick of it. That counseling you’re getting sure doesn’t seem to be helping much. You’re still hostile all the time.”
“And gee, why might that be?”

“Just stop it, okay?” he says. “You hate me, I get

SNEAK PREVIEW FROM CHRISTMAS BOX SET – DANTE’S GIFT

I had the privilege to beta read this novella from the upcoming Christmas Pets and Kisses by Aubrey Wynne. Dante’s Gift is a lovely contemporary romance with bits of history and a trip to Italy in the mix. I loved all the characters, but really fell in love with the grandmother in this story. Sweet and romantic, Dante’s Gift crosses oceans and generations to melt even the hardest of hearts.
Dante’s Gift – Aubrey Wynne
Seventy years ago, a collie mix brought two hearts together in war torn Italy. Will their story help their grandson find his own Christmas love?

Excerpt

~ Anne Landers
Chapter One
The piles of discarded clothes resembled the glorious Chicago skyline at dusk. The deep sunset colors cluttered the floor and the bed as Katie James systematically emptied out the huge walk-in closet. She shook her head in frustration each time she gazed at the mirror in a new outfit.
This was the night. The night Dominic would pull a dazzling ring from his pocket and ask her to become his wife. He had been like a kid with a big secret for the past three weeks: distracted, smiling for no apparent reason, and cracking stale jokes. All sure signs that he plotted with the “happy gods.” Several times when she’d texted or called, he told her he was Christmas shopping. Ha! No man bought holiday gifts in October. He said to dress up because he had something special planned. There could be only one explanation—a proposal.
Looking out the window from her Lake Point Tower condo, she watched the sailboats bob in Lake Michigan and played out the evening in her mind. Dominic would be dressed in a tailored suit that hugged his wide shoulders. His long fingers would betray his nervousness as they combed through his thick, dark wavy hair. She would shiver delicately when those smoky eyes caressed her face. He would reach for her hand—
Good grief, get a hold of yourself. This is real life not some sappy chick flick.
A loud buzzing announced company had arrived. She waded through the sea of outfits and pushed the intercom.
“Jazzy? Is that you?”
“No, it’s Cinderella. Hurry up and let me in. The creepy doorman is staring again.”
Katie pushed the button with a laugh. Her best friend had a love-hate relationship with Thomas. He would smile at her, she would call him a lecherous old man, and he would respond with a wink. If he didn’t smile at her, Jasmine rushed to check her make-up. He must not have flashed a grin because she made it up to the forty-fourth floor in record time and pounded on the door.
“Come in, it’s open.” She watched the slim blonde rush to the hall mirror for a quick self-inspection. “You look fine. He does it on purpose, you know.”
“I don’t want to talk about it. He’s lucky he’s not bad-looking for an older guy or I’d have slapped him by now.” Jasmine plopped onto the couch. “What are you wearing tonight? I came to give my approval. I have a better sense of romance than you.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
Her friend snorted. “You’re a CPA. Accountants are efficient not romantic.”
“I’m a tax consultant but I could use another opinion. My room looks like a tornado hit it. I’ll pour you a glass of Merlot and put on a fashion show.”
An hour later, both women stood in front of the full-length mirror with huge grins. Katie turned from side to side, watching the vibrant jade dress sway under the black silk jacket. A hint of cleavage peeked out from the scooped neckline. “You are brilliant. I would have never put this together.”
“That’s why I design clothes and you add numbers. See how the darker colors showcase that deep auburn hair?” Jazzy said as she arranged the mass of waves into a loose chignon, leaving long curls to frame her oval face. “I wish you would show more leg, but this is subtly sexy. Now where are the green topaz earrings and pendant your parents bought you last Christmas? They’re the exact color of your eyes.”
An hour later, after a professional make-up session, she gave her friend a hug. “Good luck tonight. I hope it’s everything you have dreamed of since we were girls.”
Katie laughed. “No, you hope it’s everything you have dreamed of since we were young. ”
“Same thing. I admit I always thought I’d find my soul mate first, though.”
She rolled her eyes. “You know I don’t believe in that. Love, yes. True love, love at first sight, fate? No. Compatibility, similar backgrounds and interests, friendship—those are the things that determine lasting love.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. But you can’t tell me your stomach never flips when he looks at you a certain way, or your legs get wobbly during a particularly passionate kiss.” Jazzy waggled her finger and ignored the second roll of eyes. “Now remember to get at least a little teary-eyed when he pops the question. Pinch yourself if you have to but let him know how much this means to you. We both know you’re lousy at saying what you feel.”
“You make me sound like a cold fish,” she said with frown. “I don’t ooze emotion but I can show affection. Besides, I didn’t have much practice in my family.”
“When was the last time you gave me a hug?”
“Just now.” Katie bit her lip, knowing what was next.
“No, I hugged you. There’s a difference. I’ll get off my soapbox if you promise to try to make tonight as special for Dom as he is making it for you. Throw sensibility to the wind and kiss him in public.” She headed for door. “And for god’s sake, don’t forget to tell him you love him. He should not have to take it for granted when he puts a ring on your finger.”
“Time out! I promise to wear my heart on my sleeve and follow all the rules of Miss Jasmine’s School of Romance, if you promise to leave now,” she agreed and pushed her friend toward the door. “Go pretend you hate Thomas and leave me in peace. I’ll call you first thing in the morning.”
“Call me from the bathroom afterwards. I want to know all the details.”
Katie shut the door. From the other side came a muffled, “And text me a picture of the ring.”
She chuckled as she heard the ding of the elevator and pictured her friend adjusting her hair and taking a quick peek in the mirror before the door opened. The handsome doorman would give her a sly smile. Jazzy would glide past as if she hadn’t noticed, but Thomas would know better from the exaggerated sway of her hips.
Checking her makeup for the umpteenth time, she thought about what her friend had said. Overt affection had never been part of her upbringing. It’s not that they didn’t care for one another. Her parents just didn’t talk about it or physically show it. A nanny had raised her until she turned thirteen. Katie had thrown a tantrum at the mention of a boarding school. She finally won the public education battle and met her best friend the first day of math class.
It wasn’t until her teens that she began to build a genuine relationship with her mom. Her father often absent, she began to accompany her mother to some of the local charity events and volunteer activities. Her mother’s popularity surprised her. She watched Eleanor use her gracious manner and good looks to charm the most tightfisted businessmen to open their checkbooks. Her fund-raising abilities were legendary; she gathered the most prominent guests and always met or exceeded the goal.
Her parents exposed her to the arts and entertainment provided in Chicago, adding a sophistication beyond her years. She could spot a rare painting out of a collection of copies, identify any classical piece of music, and knew an excellent wine from a mediocre vintage by the time she turned twenty-one. She also knew right from wrong, grey from black and white, and that everyone must give back in some way. Her business education began on her sixteenth birthday with extensive travel that led to internships with foreign finance companies. She would soon be ready to take her place as CEO at James’ Financial Services.
But was she ready to share her heart and her bed with a man? Dominic Lawrence checked off all the must-haves on her list. He had a thriving organic food business that provided fresh produce to the best restaurants in the city and suburbs. Successful, check. Her family approved of his background; he had a similar upbringing and the same values. Shared ethics, check. They loved the cultural activities Chicago offered: plays, opera, museums, and festivals. Both physically active, they enjoyed biking and running along the lake, hiking and skiing in the winter. Compatibility, check.
His Italian descent gave him the tall, dark good looks she’d always preferred. Handsome, check. He was devoted to a grandmother in Italy and wanted children but did not insist on having them right away. Family man, check. There would be no issues with in-laws and holidays since his parents had died in a car crash ten years earlier, and he was an only child. Not that it was a plus, but she had heard horror stories from her friends about their monster-in-laws fighting over which side had more time with the grandchildren.
On the other hand, they were complete opposites in so many ways, which she considered a plus and minus. He appreciated comedy and musicals and tolerated her docudramas and incessant reading. Adds variety, check. She liked to have a plan for everything but enjoyed his spontaneity. Flexible, check. He believed in being frugal throughout the week but letting loose on vacation. She balanced a checkbook to the penny and weighed the importance of every expenditure. Minor flaw #1. She considered punctuality a virtue, while he considered time an approximation. Minor flaw #2.
In general, they complemented one another. He softened her black and white outlook; she gave some edge to his grey areas. Katie found herself enjoying his unexpected surprises. His love of people drew her into unexpected and delightful conversations with perfect strangers. Dominic ticked each box. He wasn’t perfect but his flaws defined him as much as his strengths.
No, she didn’t throw her arms around him in a passionate hug each time he walked through the door. No, she didn’t gush, “I love you” every time he made her heart skip a beat. But he did make her heart skip a beat, and her body responded each time he wrapped his arms around her in a passionate hug. His huge heart and Italian affection had been overwhelming at first but thought she had come a long way in the past year. Dominic called her “a work in progress.”
Vivaldi’s Four Seasons played on her cell phone. “Dom” appeared in bright letters and she quickly swiped the screen. “Hey there. Not cancelling on me, are you?”
“Not a chance. Finished up the week’s orders and cleared some days on next month’s calendar.” He paused then continued in a low, caressing tone, “I miss you, Kathleen James. It’s been a week since I’ve held you in my arms. No more extended business trips if you want me to remain a gentleman.”
Her pulse raced as his deep voice flowed through her like a rich cup of coffee. “Don’t threaten me, Mr. Lawrence. You’re the one working twelve-hour days. Besides,” she added, getting into the spirit of the game, “maybe I like an old-fashioned rogue once a in awhile.”
The moan on the other end made her chuckle. “Are you still picking me up at seven?”
“What time is it now?”
“Grrr. It’s six-fifty.” She tapped her foot on the hard wood floor. “You’re late again, aren’t you?”
“Is that your toe making a staccato beat? I-am-ir-ri-ta-ted. Why-can’t-he-be-on-time.” She could hear the grin in his tone. Sense of humor, check.
“You took the words right out of my—” A knock at the door. “Hang on a minute, okay?”
Not expecting anyone, she looked through the peephole. A charcoal-grey eye stared back at her. She quickly opened the door.
“Boo!” He held out a bouquet of white and pink flowers.
The aroma of white roses and star lily gazers filled the room. Thoughtful, check. Then he pulled her close, nibbling at her lips as her arms went around his neck. When the kiss deepened, the flowers fell to the floor. Katie leaned into him, allowing his strong hands to hold her up.
Strong and sexy. Check.

About the Author


Award-winning author Aubrey Wynne resides in the Midwest with her husband, dogs, horses, mule and barn cats. She is an elementary teacher by trade, champion of children and animals by conscience, and author by night. Obsessions include history, travel, trail riding and all things Christmas. Her debut story, Merry Christmas, Henry, received Best Short Romance in the Preditors & Editors Reader’s Choice of 2013 and her humorous shorts include Pete’s Mighty Purty Privies, also Best Short in P &E 2014 and Top 100 Laugh Out Loud List on Goodreads. Aubrey’s first love is historical romance and the medieval fantasy Rolf’s Quest, will be released in 2016.
Dante’s Gift is EXCLUSIVE to Christmas Pets & Kisses from October 6 – November 6, so pre-order Christmas Pets & Kisses today and be the first of your friends to read Dante’s Gift by Aubrey Wynne
Get into the Christmas spirit with CHRISTMAS PETS & KISSES. Limited time offer, so grab your set today! ONLY 99c


Sneak Peek – Christmas Pets & Kisses

The Impossible Rescue – Annamaria Bazzi
Christmas is no joy for Julia who’s gambling husband comes around only to ask for money. When a handsome stranger and his cute Pomeranian puppy moves in next door, Julia feels guilty for their mutual attraction.Michael’s not the rescuing type, but when he spies Julia’s husband haranguing her for holiday cash, anger flares and he is determined to rescue Julia from another miserable Christmas.
Excerpt

Julia sat on the sofa, reading the book she’d checked out of the library as soon as she’d heard it was available. Any kind of romance always settled her nerves. Damien had called earlier to let her know he wouldn’t be coming home yet again. She closed the book and leaned her head back on the pillow.
Why hasn’t he signed the divorce papers? Money, that’s why. The no good lowlife always wants money from me.
Just three months after the wedding, she’d realized he’d married her for her wealth. Thank God her father was still alive and owned the business her mother had created and turned into a multimillion-dollar company. Dad had supported Mother and had taken care of all the accounting for the business.
Rising, Julia sauntered to the kitchen. She glanced around the open architecture, which had made her fall in love with the house to begin with. Dad always wanted to see her happy, so he’d bought her the five thousand square foot home as a wedding present, with just one catch—the house would remain in his name.
“Why would you do such a thing?” Her voice rose.
“Calm down. You’re a woman in love and don’t see what I see. One day, you’ll thank me.”
Those words kept coming back, and she praised God for her father’s wisdom. Every time Damien ran dry, he came back and asked her for money then disappeared for weeks at a time, sometimes months.
Another conversation came to the forefront, and she leaned on the island, playing it through her mind.
“Why are you doing this? We love each other.”
“Your business is not profitable yet, but one day it will be,” her dad said. “You’re too much like your mother, God rest her soul, and your business will bring in millions. I don’t want him to walk away with the sweat of your brow.”
She waved the papers she held at him. “This is a prenuptial agreement, are you serious?”
“I’m dead serious. Mark my words, the day will come when you’ll thank me.”
Julia sighed. “Thank you, Daddy,” she whispered. “Mom, you married a wise man. Not like me, who married a complete jerk.”
She opened the refrigerator and took out the bottle of white wine she’d opened a few nights ago, pouring some in a Waterford wineglass. After corking the bottle and placing it back in the fridge, she curled up on the sofa. Staring into the shadows of evening, she beat herself for having been so blind with respect to Damien. “Love is blind” turned out to be so true. Damn! Could I have been more stupid?
Disgusted with herself to the point she couldn’t enjoy the book, she placed the paperback back on the bookshelf and went up to the master suite to enjoy a hot bath. Julia lit all the aromatic candles and filled the tub. While the water poured into it, she ran downstairs to pick up the wineglass she’d forgotten in the gathering room.
Almost asleep in the jetted tub and with steam filling the large room, it took a while before she heard her cell buzzing. Who could possibly be calling at this hour? She tightened her lips, and scrunched her brow. She stood and wrapped her body in a plush white towel. This was supposed to be her time to relax. Anger and anxiety rushed through her.
“Hello?” she said with a bit more force than she wanted.
“Hey, babe, I’ll be home for Christmas.”
“Damien, where are you?”
“I’m in the middle of an investment deal in Qatar.”
Had she heard right? “Where?”
“Qatar, baby. You know, the Middle East.”
Not in the mood to hear about his new gamble in whatever kind of business venture he’d embroiled himself in, she hung up and shut off her iPhone, returning to the tub of lukewarm water. Letting some of it out, she refilled the tub with steaming water then sank down to her chin and closed her eyes. If anyone needed her, they could just show up at the house.
When her bath cooled again, she slipped into her robe, tied it at her waist, and stretched out on the bed.
Cold crept into her bones, and she shivered. Darkness surrounded her. How long had she slept? Sitting up, she grabbed her cell phone and turned it back on. Goodness, it was 8:15 p.m. Pangs of hunger burned her stomach, but she didn’t feel like cooking at such a late hour. She dialed for delivery.
“Hello, I’d like to order veal Parmesan….”
With the order on the way, she slipped into silky pajamas, French braided her milk-chocolate brown hair, and went downstairs to wait for the food to arrive.
The gourmet kitchen surrounding her had been a joy to create with the help of Marcello DiStoia, a wonderful designer of kitchens and baths. A place where she’d dreamed of cooking with her newlywed husband. He did help for the first few months of marriage, but then all his failed ventures took him to different corners of the earth as he looked to gamble in varied “business opportunities” as he called them. Apparently, now he was in Qatar, of all places. She rolled her eyes and closed her hands in tight fists. A few deep breaths and she let it all go, reminding herself Damien was not worth a single thought.
A sigh of relief escaped her when the doorbell rang announcing the arrival of the food.
Reviewer’s Comment
“I love how the author wove the joy of Christmas through out the story.” – Goodreads review

About the Author
Although born in the United States, Annamaria Bazzi spent a great deal of her childhood in Sicily, Italy, in a town called Sciacca. Italian was the language spoken at home. Therefore, she had no problems when she found herself growing up in a strange country. Upon returning to the States, she promised herself she would speak without an accent. She attended Wayne State University in Detroit Michigan, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science in Computers with a minor in Spanish. Annamaria spent twenty years programming systems for large corporations, creating innovative solution, and addressing customer problems. During those years, she raised four daughters and one husband. Annamaria lives in Richmond Virginia with her small family where she now dedicates a good part of her day writing.
An Impossible Rescue is EXCLUSIVE to Christmas Pets & Kisses from October 6 – November 6, so pre-order Christmas Pets & Kisses today and be the first of your friends to read An Impossible Rescue by Annamaria Bazzi.
Get into the Christmas spirit with CHRISTMAS PETS & KISSES. Limited time offer, so grab your set today! ONLY 99c


CALL FOR WRITERS – AUTHOR WEDNESDAY TO RETURN IN THE FALL

cropped-typewriter.jpgAuthor Wednesday returns in the fall, beginning September 9, but I need authors to fill the slots. Right now, I’m scheduling through the end of the year.

I welcome interviews and guest posts about your latest work. If you have a new release or a novel to promote, please contact me. If I think you’d be a good fit for my blog and my followers, then I will schedule you for an upcoming Wednesday. Please leave me a comment or fill out the contact form on the website.

If you’ve been featured on Author Wednesday before, I’m still happy to host you again, if you have something new to tell us.

I love doing this feature on my website because I’ve met so many wonderful folks, and in turn, I’m told that I’ve introduced others to new writers. It’s a great win/win for everyone. I only ask that you share the post with your followers on social media and that you stop by to comment on the post.

Third Base_low resolution for webIt’s been a productive summer for me. I published Third Base, a baseball romance, which is one of ten novels in the Score One for Love box set now available at all major retailers. This past week, I finished Minty’s Kiss, a sweet romance featuring an equally sweet kitty. It’s featured in the box set Christmas Pets and Kisses now available for pre-order. Now I’m diligently at work on Behind the Curtain, the third book in the Behind the Love series.

Score One for Love 3D

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BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – THE TRUEST PLEASURE

I wrote about my experience with reading The Truest Pleasure by Robert Morgan on the blog Silver Threading in July. Click here to read my post for Mindful Monday and the personal impact the novel had on my life.

From my professional view as a reader and an author, the book and its creator also impressed me. I met Robert Morgan at a writer’s conference years ago. His novel Gap Creek had recently been released and selected by Oprah for her book club. I remember two things vividly about his presentation, which occurred in 2000 or 2001. First, he hung up on Oprah. He thought a friend had set him up for a prank. Then Oprah, ever persistent called back, and finally convinced him the call was real. That made me laugh and share in his humbleness at being selected for what would turn him into one of the South’s most popular authors.

Second, he spoke about the use of dialect in his novels. His books are mostly set in the mountains of North Carolina nearly one hundred years ago. He cautioned against using dialect — dropping letters, losing whole syllables, and phonetically attempting to capture the twang of a region. He maintained that only confuses the reader and takes away from the story. He said instead he used the words and sentence patterns of the setting and era. Instead of using “got,” he would use the vernacular “fetch.” I wholeheartedly agreed with him and so does the style manual for writers Strunk and White Elements of Style. Dialect should only be used when a writer is very, very good at it. Very few are. I’ve carried that bit of advice with me ever since and I preach it whenever I can — even now!

I bought The Truest Pleasure at that conference and never opened it to read until this past month when I moved to Smokies1North Carolina, near the setting of this story. His writing once again captivated and transported me to another time. Because I sat on my front porch with the Smoky Mountains within view, I could imagine the harshness of the life in those hills without the luxuries of today. However, because of Morgan’s crisp descriptions of the setting, the life of those hardy souls sang of beauty and peace. From the main character, Ginny, the reader’s senses come alive:

The day I fell in love with the shoals I was standing with my feet in water, below a big rock. It was like the water was talking, quoting scripture or muttering a poem. The river pulled at my feet heavy and powerful. The surface appeared to sort and resort a puzzle, scattering pieces and gathering them again.

But I was looking at the tall hemlocks pointing straight up the side of the mountain. I looked through the tops of the lower trees toward the pines further up, right to those on top of the ridge. And then I saw a cloud moving. It was like I was standing and looking right up the ladder of trees into heaven.

This excerpt shows not only Morgan’s descriptive ability, but the technique he uses to express Ginny’s regional dialect without confusing the reader. I read passages such as this one, and it forced me to stop and look around at my surroundings to see the trees and hear the water gushing below the porch. I breathed deeply and silently thanked this author for giving me this moment of communion with nature.

The story of the marriage between Ginny and Tom expresses the brutality of a relationship when both partners refuse to budge. The concept of religion and how it’s practiced come into focus as Ginny continues her spiritual quest at tent revivials where she’s drawn to testify and speak in tongues. This behavior frightens Tom who keeps his emotions to himself and does not approve of Ginny’s extravagant behavior. They are unable to discuss their differences although they love one another deeply and at moments during the marriage fulfill the passion burning within both of them. It’s only toward the end that Ginny’s revelation of life’s truest pleasures allows her to look at her husband in a different light — one filled with love.

Family jealousies and struggles plague Ginny, but also bring her great joy. It’s a saga worth reading. And I also plan on reading Robert Morgan’s other novels as I sit on my porch in the mountains contemplating a life filled with the truest pleasures.

Click here to purchase The Truest Pleasure on Amazon.

BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – GO SET A WATCHMAN BY HARPER LEE

The much anticipated novel arrived in the mail only days after its release. I eagerly began reading the continuation of Scout’s journey in Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee.

I’ve stayed away from reading other reviews before I wrote this one. I’ve heard the rumors about the betrayal some feel in the portrayal of one of the twentieth century’s most beloved heroes and father. Heroes fall a long distance off those pedestals created by an adoring public. And so Atticus Finch has taken one of the biggest falls into the abyss of humanness.

Even though I haven’t read the other reviews yet, I did check on Amazon to see how the book is doing. It beat records for pre-orders and is still No. 1 in some categories. It has received 1,641 reviews with an average 3.8 ranking (out of five).

I believe book reviews should be about the quality of the writing and story telling ability. If I disagree with a character’s viewpoint, then the author has done the job of making at least one reader feel something about the writing. Go Set a Watchman certainly achieves all those things. It’s a compelling story, filled with the quality writing expected from Harper Lee based on the literary genius of To Kill a Mockingbird. I found it fascinating to learn that Ms. Lee wrote this book first in the mid-fifties. Publishers rejected it, and one asked for her to change the character of Jean Louise “Scout” Finch to a child rather than the grown woman who comes home to Maycomb, Alabama, after the landmark Supreme Court decision in Brown versus the Board of Education in 1954.

Once I started reading, I couldn’t put the book down. That doesn’t happen to me very often these days. I couldn’t wait to meet the grown up Scout to learn how she grew out of her tomboy phase. Her adult character rang true to the beloved Scout of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s a marvel how Ms. Lee took what she originally created in the adult Scout and transformed her into the child. She’s adept at characterization. I loved Alexandra “Aunty” and Uncle John. Both characters provided foils and moral low and high points in the story. Atticus is mostly absent from the main part of the novel, and that added to the tension as some shocking details come to light and nearly send Scout back to New York City forever. I read as fast as I could so I could get to the part where Atticus declares true or false the accusations building in Scout’s mind against him.

Jean Louise is caught in the shades of gray areas of adulthood, with one foot back in the world of Scout and her brother Jem, and the other area where she faces the harsh realities of a culture not ready for change. She’s polarized, and most of the time, she feels as if she belongs no where, or even worse, that she doesn’t even exist at all. Her Uncle John plays the role of mediator between those worlds in this novel. He tells her at a crucial moment in her awakening, “You’ve walked into the middle of a revolution.”

There are some uneven points in the novel, but it could be a literary technique Ms. Lee chose. Two or three times there’s a subtle shift in point of view, but for the most part, the reader knows the story only from Scout’s point of view.

Atticus may have fallen off his white horse, but he gives his reasons, which are both shocking and parental. His views on race relations, and the whole African American race as a whole, jar with his other persona from years earlier. However, he wisely knows that for Scout to shift into full maturity, she must not view him as infallible.

Harper Lee has written a book of a time and era that existed in this country. Attitudes such as the ones portrayed in the novel still exist in pockets or have shifted to other groups. Arguments about states’ rights versus the federal government give this novel an eerily relevant and insightful view of the lengths folks might go to to protect the status quo. You could insert “gay” or “illegal immigrant” instead of the “Negro” of this novel to understand how timely her novel really is. She hasn’t written a racist book as some suggest, but she’s written a book about the history of an era in which some of the characters are racist. It’s who she’s portrayed as the racist that has upset folks.

She knocked down an icon in Atticus Finch, but perhaps it was time. An icon in the most original sense of the word means something that is idealized and then is destroyed before it is worshiped to the exclusion of all else. The icons of the past were literally smashed on the steps of cathedrals and annihilated so as not to become too powerful.

He was letting you break your icons one by one. He was letting you reduce him to the status of a human being. -John Finch to Jean Louise in Go Set A Watchman

While I’m not sure Atticus Finch needs to be destroyed completely, in the real world, he most likely would have held some of the beliefs espoused in Go Set a Watchman, with his privileged status of a southern gentleman who was born shortly after the Civil War.

Finally, just a personal aside. As she flashed back to her childhood,I kept waiting for a reference to Boo Radley. Nothing. So perhaps the character only came to her upon revision for the Pulitzer Prize winning To Kill a Mockingbird.

I recommend reading this book for its outstanding literary content and its historical perspective. We need to remember our history because we sure are doing a terrific/horrific job of repeating it.

SCORE ONE FOR LOVE – #NEWRELEASE

Score One for Love 3DI’m very excited to announce the release of SCORE ONE FOR LOVE, a new box set filled with ten steamy novellas with sports’ heroes and heroines scoring touchdowns, hitting home runs, blocking pucks, and kicking goals both on and off the field. My newest release, Third Base, is just one of the romances you’ll find within the pages of this set. I share the limelight with nine talented and best selling romance writers. And the whole set can be downloaded for only $0.99 from all the major online retailers. Take a peek at the video trailer for a little preview of what this set contains. Keep your fan nearby – you may need it.

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Sports background

Ten Steamy Novellas by Ten Romance Writers

Playing for Keeps by Michele Shriver

Hockey star Colton Tremblay’s bad-boy reputation got him traded from Montreal to the expansion San Antonio Generals. As a female reporter, Maya Dominguez can’t afford distractions from the players she’s assigned to report on, but Colton is used to getting what he wants. Can he persuade Maya that this time, he is playing for keeps?

Michele Shriver writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. Her books feature flawed-but-likeable characters in real-life settings. She’s not afraid to break the rules, but never stops believing in happily ever after. Michele counts among her favorite things a good glass of wine, a hockey game, and a sweet and sexy book boyfriend, not necessarily in that order.

Racing Hearts by Marcia James

Stock car legend, Tom “Torque” Tyler, faces a bleak future following a traumatic head injury and seizures. Determined to drag her high-school crush from his self-imposed solitude, service dog trainer, Meg Klein, and a tiny but talented seizure response dog bring Tom hope and love.

Marcia James writes hot, humorous romances and finaled in eleven Romance Writers of America contests before selling her first comic romantic suspense, At Her Command. In her eclectic career, she has shot submarine training videos, organized celebrity-filled nonprofit events and had her wedding covered by People Magazine. After years of dealing with such sexy topics as how to safely install traffic lights, she is enjoying “researching” and plotting her novels’ steamy love scenes with her husband and hero of many years.

Loved by the Linebacker by Lyssa Layne 

When sports agent Camila Lemos and linebacker Evan Purser meet, anything but sparks fly. When the walls are broken down, will a touchdown be scored or will it be yet another fumble for both?

Lyssa Layne is first, and foremost, the proud momma to her precious daughter, AR. In addition to working full-time and being a mommy to AR, she is also an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan, a runner, blogger, and an infertility survivor. Having watched one too many medical dramas and being inspired by author Rachelle Ayala, who introduced her to the world of indie writing, Lyssa decided to try her hand at writing a romance story. Her attempt turned into the Burning Lovesick series. You can find Lyssa’s own interests throughout her stories although all stories are fictional.

Finding the Strength by Stacy Eaton

The night Tayla Adams is attacked, Third Degree Black Belt, Cam Giles steps in and stops the violent man. Little did Tayla know that when she takes a self-defense class she will come face to face with her knight in shining armor, but can Tayla learn to defend herself, and gain enough confidence to protect the two of them when the time unexpectedly comes?

Stacy Eaton began her writing career in October of 2010, and as each year goes by, she releases more and more novels. She is a police officer by profession and has been since 2000. Currently, she is assigned as the department detective and enjoys digging into cases and putting the pieces of the puzzles together; with not only interview and interrogation, but by utilizing her certified CSI training.

Third Base by P.C. Zick

Baseball star Tomas Vegas puts all his energy into winning the World Series, until he meets the widow Adriana Moretti. His supermodel ex-girlfriend and Adriana’s tightly-knit Italian family threaten them, but the more they’re pulled apart, the more they silently yearn to be together.

P.C. Zick describes herself as “a storyteller no matter what I write.” And she writes in a variety of genres, including romance, contemporary fiction, and nonfiction. Her female characters are strong and sexy and her male heroes are easy to love. She’s won various awards for her essays, columns, editorials, articles, and fiction. When she’s not at the computer, she’s boating, kayaking, golfing, and just generally enjoying life with her husband—a lost love from her youth who resurfaced six years ago. Talk about a romantic story!

Flawed by Jade Kerrion

When burned-out actress Ariel Falconer meets professional beach volleyball player, Jake Hunter, their mutual attraction is immediate and scorching, but neither is ready for the emotional complications of false impressions and clashing expectations. Can Ariel and Jake escape unscathed, or will their conflict shatter their dreams and the promise of love.

Jade Kerrion defied (or leveraged, depending on your point of view) her undergraduate degrees in Biology and Philosophy, as well as her MBA, to launch her second (and concurrent) career as an award-winning science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary romance author. Her debut novel, Perfection Unleashed, won six literary awards and launched the Double Helix series, which should be read in order for maximum enjoyment. (Hang in there for the happy ending…) Life Shocks Romances features her sweet and sexy contemporary romance series. She writes at 3 a.m. when her husband and three sons are asleep, and aspires to make her readers as sleep-deprived as she is.

An Unforgettable Lesson by Abbie St. Claire 

Huck Tyson hates golf. Period. When it’s suggested that he learn to play for his day job’s camaraderie, he’s less than welcoming of the idea, although desperate to advance his career. Amelia Berringer, the club’s only golf pro, doesn’t expect her student to be quite so negative and meets Huck’s sarcasm with a snarky bite of her own. However, neither of them expect romance to rise from the greens.

With a creative personality, Abbie St. Claire has always had her nose in a book. Whether one for decorative painting, gourmet cooking or steamy erotica. “Heck, those books all go together in my mind. My imagination can easily picture a painting session that turns steamy and I certainly see trying to prepare a gourmet meal while getting deliciously sidetracked with a partner and finishing that meal for breakfast,” St. Claire says with a raised brow and twinkle in her eyes. An International Best Selling Author, St. Claire focuses her work on writing steamy romance from the “writing nook” in her Houston, Texas kitchen, where she’s currently at work on the “5th Avenue Romance Series.

Body Lock by Kimmie Easley

After the violent death of her fiancé, Dakota Asher finds herself with a new desire to tempt fate as an adrenaline junkie. MMA coach, Ford Herveaux specializes in adrenaline. Dakota now specializes in Ford.

Kimmie Easley is an Amazon International bestselling romance author who grew up traveling the country, rarely settling in one place for much longer than a minute. Being no stranger to heartache and love, she allows her unconventional life to fuel her writing. Kimmie is addicted to all things books, wine, cupcakes, and flip-flops. She is a homeschool momma, southern wife and pug wrangler. Kimmie can be found somewhere in the south writing wine worthy stories.

Serving Up Love by Chantel Rhondeau

Melanie Rush has a huge crush on her coach, Ethan Patterson. He has strict rules against relationships within his tennis program, but Melanie wants to break them all. She’s determined to make Ethan hers, no matter what it takes.

Chantel Rhondeau once thought a great mystery or fantasy book with strong romantic themes was the highest level of reading bliss. After reading her first romantic suspense novel, she never looked back. Chantel is author of six romantic suspense novels, a Christmas novella, and the new McCallister’s Paradise contemporary romance series. She lives in the western United States and when she’s not writing, she loves playing cards with her family, bowling on leagues, and snuggling with her lazy kitties.

Played by Love by Rachelle Ayala 

Soccer goalkeeper, Jaden Sloup, has his eye on Ella Kennedy, a woman who won’t date jocks or frat boys. When Ella discovers his ruse, she runs into bullies who force Jaden to fight and prove that jocks and frat boys can be good guys too.

Bestselling author Rachelle Ayala writes dramatic romantic suspense and humorous, sexy contemporary romances. Her heroines are feisty and her heroes hot. She writes emotionally challenging stories but believes in the power of love and hope. She has won awards in multicultural and historical romance.

See why I’m so excited to be a part of this fantastic set of stories? I hope you’ll grab yours today!

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