The Vet’s Christmas Pet – J.L. Campbell
The last thing Toni wants for Christmas is more responsibility, but her daughter has other ideas. A near accident not only brings them a dog in need of a home, but Matthias Laing, who Toni would prefer to keep in the past.

I watched Matthias’ hands, fascinated by his gentle handling of the dog’s paw. Then his words pierced the cloud surrounding my brain. “His leg is bruised, but not broken.”
“But, it’s not my—”
“When you get home, apply some ice to the area for twenty minutes.” He smiled, showing an even row of teeth I remembered well. His gesture also reminded me of the small space we’d been crammed into for the last ten minutes. He rubbed the dog’s forehead, bringing my attention back to the size of his hands.
“I hope this little guy is smart enough to stay off that leg,” he said, “but if not, ensure he doesn’t run or jump on it.”
“He’s not—”
“Talk to Melanie about the bill,” Matthias said, handing me the dog, which I wasn’t too enthusiastic about touching, since I didn’t know where he’d been. At least he seemed clean and didn’t smell.
“It’s great seeing you again,” Matthias added, oblivious to the panic he’d unleashed in my brain.
Bill? I could only hope his fee wouldn’t amount to more than I could afford. Doctor’s fees on the island were out of the reach of some people and vet bills were even more expensive.
I wasn’t even sure I’d hit the damn dog, but Jade insisted that we bring the dog in because she thought I’d run over it. We should have been home by now, but here we were having a stray dog examined by the last man I expected to meet again in life.
“Can I hold him, Mommy?” Jade said, shifting from one foot to the other.
I looked at Matthias, to be sure it would be okay. When he nodded, I answered Jade. “Sure.”
I put the dog in her arms, sighing. What was I going to do with a dog when I could barely take care of the two of us?
I sighed again and that’s when Matthias frowned. “Is something wrong?”
“I was trying to tell you this isn’t my dog.”
His forehead crinkled and one of his eyebrows arched into a questioning expression. “Really? Then how did you end up with him?”
“We were coming down from Jade’s school and the dog ran across the road. Jade thought I hit him.” I shrugged. “That’s why we’re here.”
Matthias peeled off the gloves he’d been wearing and then scratched the back of his head. The motion of his arm parted his coat and revealed a pale-green shirt and a tie several shades deeper. Spiffy dressing for a dog-doctor, I thought. When our eyes met, he smiled as if he’d guessed what I was thinking.
He scratched his scalp again and frowned. “So, would you like me to keep him overnight while you try and find the owner?”
My eyes widened and I knew I was looking at him as if he’d suggested something illegal. I had no intention of searching for the dog’s owner or getting involved with an animal I didn’t own, but that left the question of what to do with him.
As if the dog understood what was happening, he tipped his dark head to one side and put on a sad expression, which didn’t fool me. He was probably an impostor, because if I was right about his breed, there was some Pit Bull in there somewhere and I’d heard horror stories on the news about them ravaging children. I shook my head, wondering under what unlucky star I’d been born.
Jade clutched the puppy to her chest and whined, interrupting my pity party. “Why can’t we keep him, Mommy?”
“Because he’s not our dog and his family is missing him.”
“No they’re not.”
“How do you know that?”
“Well, if they cared about him, he wouldn’t be on the street.”
“He probably got out by accident.”
“If you care about your dog, you don’t leave the gate open so he can escape.”
Matthias folded both arms across his chest and leaned against the doorway of the examination room as if settling in for the evening’s entertainment.
I flung him a glare, but that only expanded his smile.
“This isn’t funny,” I said through my teeth.
I threw him another desperate glance or two before he cleared his throat and dialed down his smile. “Tell you what, Jade. Maybe I can try and help your Mommy find his owners.”
Ever the realist, Jade frowned. “How are you going to do that?”
Speaking as if he was conversing with an adult, Matthias said, “Well, we can put a community service announcement on the radio and see if anybody comes forward.”
Jade considered that for a minute before her brows cleared. “Okay, but won’t Ridley be lonely here tonight?”
“Ridley?” I held on to Jade’s shoulder to get her to look at me. “Hon, you can’t name the dog. He doesn’t belong to us.”
She squeezed her lips together and put on her stubborn face, which always reminded me of her father. “Every dog needs a name.”
“And his family knows what it is.”
Jade looked at Matthias as if to invite him to back up her argument. After meeting my gaze for long seconds, Matthias dipped his head.
“What your Mom says is true, but anyway … ” Here, Matthias slipped me a glance. “Ridley won’t be lonely tonight because we have a few other patients that are staying over.”
Jade’s eyes went wide. “You mean this is a dog hospital too?”
“Not exactly, but … would you like to look around?”
“Yeah!” Jade shot a fist into the air and came close to dropping the dog, who scrabbled at her uniform with his paws.
A sigh worked its way up from my belly and I glared at Matthias. “We do have to be on our way home.”
“I’m sure your husband will understand if you’re running a bit late.”
Jade now stood between Matthias and me. “She doesn’t have one anymore,” she said.
Matthias’ curiosity was clear when our eyes met, but he was speaking to Jade when he asked, “What doesn’t she have anymore?”
“A husband. Mommy said she and Daddy were no longer compati—”
“Never mind that,” I said, prodding her toward the doorway.
Amusement brightened Matthias’ eyes and curved his lips. It was clear he saw through my evasive action. “Tell you what,” he said, “I’ll talk to Melanie about the bill and you can wait while I give Jade the tour.”
Great, now I’d be wasting more time in Matthias’ space when I needed to get home to the one hundred and one things that filled my evenings.
Jade walked ahead of us with the dog still pressed to her clothes, which would be crawling with dog hairs. Good thing she wasn’t allergic, but I’d be the one who had to de-hair her clothes before getting them into the washing machine.
In the waiting room, I sat and pulled out my smartphone while Matthias spoke with the woman at the desk. I stopped listening after he pointed to me and said, “Mrs. Barnett’s dog … “
As if I hadn’t told him I didn’t own the stumpy thing, with the brownish-black coat, that had captivated Jade.
Despite trying to focus on my own business, I couldn’t help looking up when Matthias left the office with Jade. A little over eighteen years had passed since I last had contact with him, so seeing him earlier had been a shock.
Our conversation had been stilted at first, and Jade’s eyes were like shiny marbles as she looked back and forth at us. I could only hope she’d forgotten about that by now, otherwise she’d ask a ton of questions and I wasn’t prepared to say much, if anything, about my history with Matthias.

About the Author

J.L. Campbell is an award-winning, Jamaican author who writes romantic suspense, women’s fiction, new and young adult novels. She has written thirteen books, three novellas and two short story collections.
Her novels include the Island Adventure Romance series, which currently has four exciting, stand-alone stories and features feisty women and determined men. Campbell is a certified editor, who also writes non-fiction.
The Vet’s Christmas Pet 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 The Vet’s Christmas Pet by J.L. Campbell
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#Veterans Day with Denise Kahn’s Warrior Music


All sales go to support our Veterans, November 8-15

I welcome Denise Kahn (see my interview with her from 2013), author of the Music Trilogy series and Split-Second Lifetime (my review). She has a special message, and a special offer where you can help our Veterans. During the week of November 8-15, she is donating all of the proceeds from the sale of the third book in the trilogy, Warrior Music, to the Warrior Cry Music Project. The book is on sale for .99 cents and well worth the price. But I’ll let Denise explain a little more about her donation and her giveaways in honor of Veterans Day.

From Denise Kahn:

Warrior Music is in honor of my son, who gallantly served during Operation Iraqi Freedom. For this reason, during this Veterans Day week, November 8-15, I am doing a promotion to honor and help our Veterans. It is but a small part, but one which I believe in and hope will help, even in a small way. I am DONATING ALL SALES of Warrior Music to the Veterans. The Kindle price has been reduced to .99 cents. So, for less than a cup of coffee, readers can download the book by clicking right here.

In addition, the reader will receive a free Photobook and will be entered in the Kindle Fire/$100 Amazon Gift Card giveaway. Books can, of course, also be gifted to friends and family just in time for the upcoming holidays. With this promotion, I am honoring and remembering the sacrifices of all Veterans and hoping to get some results for them. For the readers who have it in their heart to participate, thank you. Please download, share, and spread the news. Let’s try to get the most for them. Please click here to visit my website for more details.

MUSIC TRILOGY COVERMy very first memory of life was the sound of my mother’s glorious voice singing to me, most likely a Brahms lullaby. I’m convinced that is why music always has a delicious way of creeping into my writing, and becomes one of the most important elements. I find that music is almost synonymous with being in a state of trance, and that is how I become when I write. I get very focused and live the scenes with my characters. As each mise en scène blooms, music envelopes my mind with a melisma, or a melody that already exists.

I wrote my book Peace of Music for my son, so that he could have the story of his ancestral family. It became a novel (much more fun that way) as I could take a few liberties, such as the scenes in China’s 13th century Song (what else?) Dynasty.

While about ten percent is fiction, the rest is fact, and since the characters/family members were opera singers and concert pianists, I thought their stories would make a good novel.  My tag line is ‘Spreading the Power of Music through Words,’ and in this book, music proves how it can unite and keep people together and strong, especially in difficult circumstances. Throughout the book, music is the glue that keeps this family together.

I continued this family saga in my second book Obsession of the Heart. The third book of The Music Trilogy, Warrior Music, is focused on the war in Iraq. Of course, it is also contains a romance that develops in the ancient sands of that country between a Marine and a nurse from a Combat Support Hospital.

Denise Kahn photoAbout Denise:  Denise Kahn spent twenty years in Europe because of her father, who was with the U.S. Diplomatic Corps, and her mother, who was an opera singer. She worked mainly as a simultaneous interpreter and translator as she is a linguist and speaks several languages, five fluently. She also worked in the airline and music industries. Because of her exposure to people of different nations, her writing includes many foreign settings and cultures. She is a proud mother of a gallant Marine who served in Iraq, and among the members of her household is Louie the cat (aka King Louie), so named because of his clawing love of Louis XV and XVI furniture, and surely thinks he must have been a fearless Marine in one of his former lives.

At the moment, Denise is working on a historical novel, The Lavender Coat of Arms, which includes the French Revolution, Catherine the Great, survival, nasty bad guys and yes, of course, romance. It is scheduled to come out just before the holidays. For updates look for news on her website, Denise Kahn Books.

Click below for links to Denise and her books:

Amazon Author page

Peace of Music

Obsession of the Heart

Warrior Music

Warrior Music trailer

The Music Trilogy


Twitter: @DKpolyglot








Book Review Friday – David Lawlor’s “Liam Mannion” series

An author faces a monumental task when writing historical fiction. If one historical fact is wrong or an anachronism appears, the reader is likely to put aside the book in favor of one that achieves historical accuracy tempered with believable dialogue, heightened tension, and sympathetic, yet flawed, heroes.

If you are a reader of historical fiction who requires accuracy, suspense, and flawed, yet heroic main characters, then I suggest you go directly to Amazon and buy Tan or The Golden Grave or both by David Lawlor.

RESIZED TANI read Tan first because it is the first in the “Liam Mannion” series of suspenseful and historical novels written by Lawlor. I interviewed him on Author Wednesday a few months back and was intrigued to learn this journalist writes while commuting to his job an hour each way. This process works to create suspenseful fiction with colorful and unforgettable characters.

Set in England and then Ireland in the year after the end of World War I, Tan explores the war of a closer nature immediately following Liam Mannion’s release from the English Army in 1919. Here’s a guy forced to leave Ireland at a young age because of an act he witnessed after a night of drinking at a friend’s wedding. It’s here where the conflict of the story begins when the evil Webber blames and accuses the young Liam of an indecent act against a virtuous married woman. Webber’s fiction that forces Liam into exile begins a whole series of events that mark Liam for life.

Liam heads to England in 1914 and ends up in the English army fighting in France during the majority of World War I.

When Liam eventually heads back to England after the horrid and putrid rot of dead bodies that made up his memory of the war, he ends up in an insufferable situation, which leads him to homelessness, and then worse, as an officer of the crown as a member of the powerful and often repressive Black and Tan. Liam turns a blind eye to the atrocious behavior of his English comrades, only until it becomes evident that his loyalty to the Black and Tan extracts too high of a rent for clean clothes and warm bowl of soup.

Lawlor captures the uncertainty of the times through the examination of Liam’s uncertain future as he’s thrust into situations beyond his control. Precise and graphic descriptions of life in England and Ireland post-World War I show that despite the end of a tragic war on the mainland of Europe, Ireland faced an even greater war at home with the invasion and intrusion of the Tans.

I fell in love with Lawlor’s descriptions of the setting in Tan as I lost myself in the world of the Irish fighting for their lives and their homeland. Here’s an example of Lawlor’s powerful descriptive talent:

“They leaned against the viaduct’s promenade rail, looking out on their hometown, watching the slow huff of a steam engine as it trundled into the station, the smell of the sea mingling with the coke from Cumisky’s coal yard beneath them.”

Lawlor peppers the novel with descriptions filled with contrasting details that employ the senses to show the reader that the situation and the setting are both beautiful and polluted.

Tan is both tender and violent as the reader is drawn into the abyss of angry revenge and the love and loyalty of friends and family. It also shows that being born into a family does not guarantee such loyalty. The character of the individual breeds the kind of loyalty that would take a bullet and shoot a bullet to protect and exact revenge.

I highly recommend Tan if you like immersing your senses in the past of one hundred years ago on English and Irish soils bloodied from wars and stained with tears.

THE GOLDEN GRAVEI also recommend reading Tan before delving into Lawlor’s second “Liam Mannion” novel, The Golden Grave. Liam is once again in exile in England in 1920 when he runs into a war buddy from the trenches in France. The novel’s conflict is set almost immediately as a group of World War I veterans enter into a dangerous project that involves digging into the battlefield grounds of France to find the pot of gold.

The love and lust affair between Liam and Sabine offers some sexual tension, but also provides a buffer between the tedious task of unearthing the treasure and the trauma all the former soldiers feel upon returning to the arena of so many deaths—some of which they caused.

If the story verges toward romanticism, Lawlor skillfully and abruptly changes the tone with flashes of jealousy and flashbacks of war. He uses contrasts to create vivid sketches of the setting as he does in this scene when the veterans make it back to the small village in Flanders that became their touchstone during the worst days of the war:

“The road ran like a scar across Flanders’ ruined landscape. Amongst the straggling wild flowers and sparse grass patches, the animals watched beneath a noon-day sun that shone bright and pristine. A black rat paused in its scavenging; its head tilted high, the whiskers twitching expectantly as it listened to the soft shuffle of booted feet.”

Liam Mannion is impacted by the war, yet in him Lawlor has created a sympathetic and very human main character. He loves, yet he’s afraid of rejection so he holds back. He’s loyal, yet his temptations lead him to places that test his loyalty. He doesn’t always win those personal battles, but he manages to find his way back to remind us all it’s never too late to find redemption.

The Golden Grave is more graphic and more violent than Tan. The horror of war and its impact on individuals plays a role in the plot, but perhaps the quest for gold to quench an unquenchable greed drives the conflict and extracts tolls far more costly than war. It also points to human failings of the worst kind.

Lawlor’s talent is evident in the fast-paced and moving story of war, greed, and passion found within the pages of The Golden Grave. I’m not one for war stories in general, but The Golden Grave is so suspenseful and action-packed and filled with historical importance that I enjoyed every minute reading this book.

Note to Mr. Lawlor:  I hope there’s a third “Liam Mannion” novel in the works.

Purchase Links:

The Golden Grave: