Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Bad Intentions by Lauren N. Sharman

Diesel and Kady were childhood friends before being forced to marry in a shotgun wedding ceremony. When Diesel decided he needed to prove to himself he could be more than what he was, he left Kady behind, breaking her heart.

Neglected by her family, Kady had been close to Diesel since he saved her life when she was ten. When a misunderstanding made them man and wife, she thought she’d gotten her happily ever after. 

Five years as a bounty hunter has changed everything about Diesel, except his love for Kady. When an old dream reoccurs, warning him she’s in danger, he heads home to protect her.

The Diesel Kady had known has been replaced by a man’s-man that took her breath away. But she’s still hurt; afraid to believe he won’t leave again. When he tells her about the dream, she realizes learning to trust him again is the only way she’s going to survive.


Diesel Garmin was a hard-working teen with an abusive father when he was forced to marry the very young and shy, timid, Kady, in a literal shotgun wedding. Knowing Kady deserves only the best, Diesel seeks to better himself by leaving; following in his brother Kage's footsteps as a bounty hunter. Five years later, Diesel shows up on Kady’s doorstep, but it's not without consequence. Kady is in awe of the sexy alpha male standing before her, but has a hard time reconciling the boy who left with the man that returned. Adding the fact that she feels she can't trust him, throws a kink into being able to pick up where they left off.

The characters of Diesel and Kady, separately, were exceptional…each growing into their own as adults, but separately from one another. Together as a couple, they’re explosive with sexual tension sizzling in the air around them. I adore Diesel and Kady together because there is a base of best friendship, and knowing that each loved the other in a very special way BEFORE they were forced to get married. They’re so right for each other. There is a purity there that no outside source can possibly touch. As they get older and Diesel comes back home, he's confronted with a very different Kady. She's all grown up, sexy, self reliant; no longer the insecure young girl he left behind.

There are some secondary characters I only wish were actual people, so I could hit them a time or two and make them stop their devious ways. Kage and Diesel, along with Journey and Kady, work well as a team against the villains. You’ll understand what I mean when you read the book. Kage and Diesel have that chemistry only brothers have; quite a few times they made me laugh. Journey and Kady make the perfect sisters-in-law…each needing a true sister to stand by her. There were some funny moments when they were one hundred percent girly girls. I loved it. The twist to this captivating plot was the paranormal element. It was unexpected, but added a bonus of extra flare to Bad Intentions, making the story that much more believable.

Once again, Ms. Sharman has produced a pulse-pounding read with her newest romantic suspense novel, Bad Intentions. She never fails to surprise me with her attention to detail and unique ability to write what, on the outside looks like a typical bad boy, but in such an intriguing way. It's evident that Ms. Sharman is comfortable and confidant in the world in which she writes. Any of her numerous books contain characters I can relate to, and quite honestly, I wouldn't mind being a leading lady of any of those stories. Don't ask me to choose which one, though, because I love all the alphas in all of her books for myriad of different reasons.

The one thing that saddens me is this is the last book in this two book series.  Bad Intentions is the sequel to Reckless Bounty.  Ms. Sharman would make me the happiest girl in the world if, by some miracle, there was a final book that included the McCassey's and the Garmins.  Now that would be an explosive book!  You can buy Bad Intentions here.  

Below is a list of the books in order and their buy links:  

McCassey Series

McCassey Cousins Series

The Garmin Brothers

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ahoy Gum Drop Audiobook by M.M. (Miss Mae) and narrated by Owen McCuen

What if - What if you no longer could find your favorite chocolate in your candy store? What if the store informed you they may never get in a new shipment? Imagine the horror, the chaos, the wailing and gnashing of teeth, not to mention your impending foul-mood. And then imagine this scenario happening on a worldwide scale! What can be the problem? What can be the solution? It’s up to the brave (?) adventurer Sir O. Yuri Wiseguy-eh and his mishaps from Gum Drop Island to boldly (double ?) go where no one has gone before. Yes, they must enter the realm of the forbidding and humuggity shrouded land called Moldy Corners. The next question, dear listeners, is - can what happens in Moldy Corners affect you?

When I was growing up, we  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  For this generation, there is  the magical and mesmerizing story called Ahoy Gum Drop written by M.M. All too often, we try to categorize books by labels such as "children" or "YA". Why can't we have a category for families?  The entire family will get much enjoyment with fanciful characters such as Sir O. Yuri Wiseguy-eh, Mort the Mothball Millionaire, Moose and of course who could forget I.B. Nosey?

There are so many different things I loved about Ahoy Gum Drop. From the quirky characters to the recap of previous chapters, the listener is captivated by both the story line as well as the narrator's hilarious portrayal of the characters. When my kids were little, at bedtime I used to read a chapter each night to them.  Some of the details of the story were lost because my children would forget what may have been read the previous night.  With Ahoy Gum Drop, M.M. makes sure that in the event this story is told over several days, there is a recap with every new chapter.  When I say this is a family book, I truly do mean it.  Although written with children in mind, there are some lines that only adults will understand.  Think if you will, about cartoon movies you have seen with your children.  You could connect personally with the movie because some of the meanings were only understood by adults.

I have previously reviewed Ahoy Gum Drop as an ebook.  I was thrilled to be able to review the audiobook as well.  Ahoy Gum Drop is a humorous and compelling read on it's own as an ebook or print book. However, when paired with narrator Owen McCuen, Ahoy Gum Drop transforms into a standout comical humdinger of a book.  Owen McCuen thrills with the varying accents of each distinct character. Mr. McCuen knows how to attract the listener, make them feel welcome as well as a part of the book.  I look forward to experiencing more of M.M.'s work (she is already a favorite of mine) as well as Mr. McCuen's.  This unexpected duo make magic happen.  Ahoy Gum Drop is a unique and addicting read that will bring back the silly and child in grown ups as well as help us to realize that we should all stop our busy lives long enough to take family time to enjoy this book together.
You can go here to listen to a sample or buy Ahoy Gumdrop here.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Excerpt and Q&A of Accidents of Marriage by Randy Susan Meyers

 Accidents of Marriage 
Randy Susan Meyers 

Maddy ran her tongue over her teeth, imagining the bitter taste of a crumbling tablet of Xanax. After a gut-wrenching day at the hospital nothing tempted her more than a chemical vacation. Nothing appealed to her less than cooking supper. Churning stomach acid—courtesy of work—coupled with anxiety that Ben might come home as frenzied as he’d left made a formidable appetite killer. 
She could bottle it and make a fortune. 
Each morning she spun the wheel on the Ben chart, hoping the arrow would hit happy husband, or at least neutral guy. Today his arrow landed on total bastard, holding her personally responsible for Caleb’s tantrum, which—oh, horror!—had cost Ben twenty minutes of work. 
She considered taking a pill, but the rites of family happiness demanded her attention. Gracie and Caleb sprawled on the rug, recovering from their day at camp: seven-year-old Caleb, half asleep, rubbing his cheek with his thumb; nine-year-old Gracie’s glazed eyes fixed on the television. Emma, her oldest, a day camp counselor at 
fourteen, would be home soon. 
Sluggish inertia kept Maddy stapled to the couch despite her long list of waiting tasks. Chop vegetables, pay the mortgage, and catch up on laundry before the kids ran out of socks. Find a stamp somewhere in the mess she called her desk so she could mail the electric bill. Give her children feelings of self-worth. Plus, since she and Ben had fought that morning, he’d need soothing. Fellatio came to mind. 
Indestructible fabric, the sort bought by parents with children prone to transferring their sticky snacks to the upholstery, prickled against her bare arms. She lusted for air-conditioning as she’d once longed for peace, justice, and her husband. Each suffocating Boston summer their badly wired Victorian became more hateful and Ben’s warnings about global warming swayed her less. According to Ben, her environmental ethics turned situational with each drop of perspiration. 
Pressing the small of her back didn’t ease the permanent knot lodged deep and low, nor did shoving a small hard pillow against it. Her stomach growled despite her lack of desire for food. 
Fish sticks would be easy, but she couldn’t bear turning on the oven. 
The back door slammed. Emma banged her backpack on the table. Her daughter’s way of saying I’m home
Maddy struggled up from the couch and headed toward the kitchen. “Just making sure it’s you.” 
“Were you expecting someone else?” she asked. 
“It could have been Daddy.” 
“Right.” What an all-purpose word right had become in their family, their polite way of saying, I am acknowledging you have spoken, but am choosing not to engage in any meaningful way. Lately, they used it all too often. 
Newspapers they’d tried to read at breakfast covered half the table. Emma stared into the refrigerator as Maddy gathered the papers, unsure whether to recycle them. Had Ben finished reading the Boston Globe? The New York Times
“There’s nothing to eat,” Emma said. “In Caro’s house—” 
The sound of breaking glass followed by Caleb’s scream interrupted before Emma could specify just how superior a shopper Caro’s mother was. 
Mom!” Gracie yelled. “Come here!” 
Emma followed as Maddy ran to the living room. 
“Jesus, what happened?” Maddy crouched next to Caleb, her stomach dropping at the sight of blood pouring from his foot. Shards of glass surrounded him, liquid droplets of milk clinging to the pieces, a larger white puddle pooling on the wooden floor. She grabbed a wadded-up napkin to staunch the blood, crouching awkwardly to avoid cutting her knees. 
Gracie’s mouth trembled. “I just got up, that’s all, and I knocked over his milk glass. He got mad and screamed, then he stood up and kicked the glass and it broke. He stepped on it. It wasn’t my fault!” 
“It’s okay, Gracie.” Blood soaked through the napkin, dissolving the paper as she exerted pressure. “Emma, get me a damp towel.” 
This was preventable, Ben would say. This is why we have plastic glasses.
“Make it stop, Mommy!” Tears cut through the dirt on Caleb’s cheeks. 
She pressed harder. Gracie mopped the spilled milk with a dirty T-shirt from her backpack. 
“Here.” Emma held out a dripping kitchen towel. 
“You need to wring it out, Emma. Never mind, just get a clean one.” 
Emma stomped out with Gracie in her wake. Wet cloth slapped in the sink. 
“Give this to Mom.” Emma’s voice from the kitchen was extra loud. 
Using the hem of her black cotton skirt, Maddy covered the napkin. Gracie returned with a new towel. Emma watched from the doorway, twirling the bottom of her long brown braid. 
Maddy peeled away her skirt and replaced it with the towel, Caleb whimpering. “Do I have to go to the doctor?” He squinted as peeked under the towel. “It doesn’t look too deep, but it has to be cleaned,” she said. “I don’t think we need a doctor.” Maddy’s pulse calmed. She stopped rushing ahead in her mind: wrapping Caleb’s foot safely enough to hold in the bleeding until they got to the emergency room, packing the kids in the car, calling Ben. She looked again—making sure her decision was based on wisdom and not wishful thinking. It wasn’t gaping. The bleeding had slowed. 
He tried to pull his foot away. “No! No cleaning. It’ll hurt.” 
Emma squatted next to them. “You let Mom wash out the cut and I’ll play Monopoly.” Caleb’s smile came through like a sun shower. 
“That’s sweet, honey.” Maddy should appreciate Emma’s goodness and stop losing patience with her sulks and eye rolling. “Thank you.” 
“Can I play?” Gracie asked. 
“No,” said Caleb. “Just me and Emma.” 
Gracie’s lip quivered at her brother’s words, leaving Maddy torn between soothing and yelling Stop it, especially when she saw Gracie make the tiny sign of the cross she’d picked up from Grandma Frances, Ben’s mother, a woman given to reflexive ritual blessings. Gracie’s gesture unsettled Maddy. Next thing she knew, her daughter would be genuflecting at Our Lady of the Virgins. Buying her a Jewish star or a Unitarian flaming chalice, before Grandma Frances hung a crucifix over Gracie’s bed, went on her to-do list. Mixed marriage only went so far. 
“Monopoly is better with more people, Caleb.” Pregnant women should be required to take classes in referee and negotiation skills along with breathing and panting lessons.
“No. I only want to play with Emma.” 
Gracie pulled at her camp-grimy toes. “How about you and I make chocolate sauce while they play?” Maddy suggested. “We could have hot fudge sundaes for supper.”
“Ice cream for supper?” Gracie raised her chin off her knees. 
“Why not?” She pushed back her daughter’s sweaty black curls, the only visible part of Maddy that Gracie had inherited. The kids divided their parents’ parts and shared few: Skinny Caleb had Ben’s thick brown hair, Maddy’s long lashes and narrow shoulders. Poor Gracie, like Ben, would have to fight a tendency toward getting thick in the middle. Emma, wiry like Maddy, had her father’s sharp cheekbones. 
Emma rolled her eyes. “Healthy, Mom.” 
“Shut up, Emma,” Caleb said. 
“You shut up. Or I won’t play with you.” 
“I’ll play,” Gracie said. 
No. Emma picked me. Wash my cut, Mommy.” 
A child leaned on either shoulder. With feet propped on the coffee table, Maddy drifted in and out of sleep. Dirty bowls decorated with blobs of hardened fudge littered the room. After cresting to a quick high of giggles over supper, they’d slumped into queasy sugar comas. 
They stirred at the sound effects of Ben’s nightly return: The car rolling on gravel. Scrape of heat-swollen door opening. Keys dropping on the hall table. Briefcase thudding to the floor. Sighs of relief or disgust indicated his mood level. Despite their early-morning fight, Ben sounded audibly benign. Thank God. Maybe it would be a Swiss night, with the living room their first neutral zone. 
Ben entered the living room and surveyed their collapsed bodies and the scattered Monopoly pieces. Gracie pulled away and ran to him, throwing her hands around his waist. He stroked her black ringlets into a little bundle at the back of her head as she leaned into his slightly softening middle. He had the body of a forty-three-year-old man who fought gravity by playing handball twice a week, but who’d given up crunches. Not bad, but unlike Maddy, who ran and used free weights and the rowing machine in their basement, his battle against time brought fewer visible rewards. 
“What happened?” he asked. “It looks like a war zone.” 
“We had some excitement. Our boy cut himself.” Caleb held out his bandage-swathed foot while still staring at the television. 
“You okay?” Ben asked. He gave Gracie one last pat and went to the couch. “Hurt much?”
Caleb shrugged. “I guess. A little.” He studied Maddy as though seeking the right answer. 
Ben laid a hand on Caleb’s calf. “Can you walk on it?” 
“Sorta. I hop on my heel on that side.” 
“It’s on the ball of his foot. The inside,” Maddy said. 
“How’d it happen?” Ben tugged on his chin—his poker tell that steam could build at any moment. 
Maddy leaned over Caleb and kissed her husband, hitting the side of his mouth he offered. “Forgetting anything?” she asked. “Hello, Maddy? How are you?” 
He exhaled. “Don’t start. I’ve had a rough day.” 
Kissing was starting? It is when you’re being sarcastic, she answered herself, using Ben’s lecture voice. “He fell asleep and then got up without remembering there was a milk glass next to him. It was an accident.” She knew the lie was barely plausible, but she also knew it was just enough for him to avoid being prosecutorial. 
“Where was he sleeping? The recycle bin?” 
“Very funny. A glass broke. End of story.” There. The truth snuck in. 
“Why can’t the kids eat and drink at the table like they’re supposed to? Why weren’t they using plastic glasses?” He ran his hands through his hair. “Look at this place. It’s a mess. No wonder everyone’s always having accidents.” 
Caleb rubbed his thumb back and forth across his knee. Gracie crossed herself. 
“Not now, okay? Please.” She sent him a significant look. 
Ben flexed his shoulders, leaned back on the couch, and stared at the ceiling. He took a deep breath, seeming to remember the anger management sheet Maddy had forced on him six months ago, after he’d thrown a shoe. At the wall, he insisted each time she mentioned the incident. Not at you. But her message had landed. For once, she’d broken through his endless rejections of her careful observations about his temper. 
Good thing. She’d gritted her teeth through his rages, but she’d be damned if their house became a physical battleground. He’d scared himself when he’d thrown the shoe—just as he had years before when he’d thrown a bottle of detergent against the wall. The difference was this time he’d listened to her. He’d read the sheet despite hating it when she supposedly social-worked him. Save it for your clients, he’d yell when she deconstructed him. The children. Their marriage. You’re not my shrink, you’re my wife. 
If he didn’t want her to social-work him, then she sure wished he’d learn to manage his own moods. Maddy’s sister insisted that one day it would be too late for anger prevention sheets and other tricks. Vanessa had no patience for Ben’s rages, but Maddy blamed herself for the antagonism her family felt toward Ben. Maddy overshared. Everything negative, anyway. When had she last called her sister to say things were going great? To brag about Ben taking an entire day to make sure Gracie could ride her bike safely? How often did she mention that Ben took the kids to the movies while she went for a massage? 
At least her mother pretended to love Ben. For which Maddy was grateful. 
“We had ice cream for supper,” Caleb announced. 
Emma’s shoulders squared. Gracie pressed into Maddy. 
Ben turned to Caleb. “Ice cream?” 
“With hot fudge,” Caleb added. 
“Nice to be rewarded for breaking a glass, huh?” Ben kicked off his shoes. “Since I haven’t fallen or broken anything, what do I get for supper?” 
Emma jumped up. “Should I make you eggs, Dad?” 
“Thank you, honey. That would be terrific.” He leaned back and closed his eyes, pushing off his shoes with his toes. 
Gracie tapped his forehead. He blinked and gave her a tired smile. “What is it, cupcake?” 
“Want me to cut up carrots for you?” 
Maddy grabbed the laundry basket from where she’d dropped it in the corner of the living room and hurried out before she had to witness the girls wait on Ben. It drove her crazy watching them being trained in the fine art of placating an angry man, but try explaining that one. What, a child couldn’t feed a hungry father? 
After throwing in a white wash and rummaging through the crowded shelves for fabric softener, she dragged over a small dusty step stool and climbed up, stretching to reach behind the jumble of cleaning supplies. She pulled out a dusty baggie that held a few tablets, took out a yellow one, bit off half, and swallowed it dry. Sometimes she wondered if she could remember all of her caches. Keeping them scattered around the house gave her a convoluted sense of peace and safety. She might reach for one pill in a week; she might reach in every day. Either way, knowing that they were never more than a few steps away comforted her. 
Back in the kitchen, remnants of Ben’s eggs and carrots littered the countertop. 
She cleared the debris to one side to make sandwiches for the kids’ lunch boxes. Trying to spread cold peanut butter made her hate Ben’s mother. Frances had spent the past forty-six years appeasing Ben’s father’s neuroses by keeping a spotless house and refrigerating peanut butter, on constant guard against food poisoning, bacteria, and dust. 
Because of Frances, they ate hard peanut butter. 
The bread tore. She folded it around the wad of Skippy and shoved it in her mouth. Then she got a fresh slice and began making the sandwiches again: grape jelly for Caleb, blueberry for Gracie, and for Emma, Maddy’s mother’s homemade orange preserves. 
Anger exhausted her. She waited for the kiss of Xanax to kick in, Prince Charming bearing a sheath for her nerves. 
Ben hadn’t cared if they ate hot mayonnaise and slept on typhus-encrusted sheets when they’d met, not while they burned off the searing heat of their early years. He’d been exciting, her Ben, a public defense lawyer demanding the world give his wrecked clients a break—a little justice, a fair shot. She could barely breathe around him, some part of her always needing to touch some part of him. Her hand on his shoulder. An ankle casually leaning against his calf. 
Ben dwarfed everyone, racing through life with exclamation points coming out all sides. Poverty to the right? Boom! Racism? Pow. Dirty landlords? Gotcha! 
Who knew all that passion and rage could be directed at a late car payment? A missing button. 

Accidents of Marriage – Q&A

1. Can you tell us a bit about the book and the relationship between the characters?
Accidents of Marriage asks what is the toll of emotional abuse on a family. It’s an account of life inside a marriage that seems fine to the outside world, an account of emotional abuse, traumatic injury, and how a seeming accident is really the culmination of years of ignored trouble. It’s the story of an unexpected gift of clarity making the difference between living in hell and salvation. 
For Madeline Illica, the love of her husband Ben is her greatest blessing and biggest curse. Brilliant, handsome and charming, Ben could turn into a raging bull when crossed—and despite her training as a social worker Maddy was never sure what would cross him. She kept a fragile peace by vacillating between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their three children, until a rainy drive to work when Ben’s temper gets the best of him, and the consequences leave Maddy in the hospital, fighting for her life. 
Accidents of Marriage, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter, Emma, takes us up close into the relationships between all family members. The children, lost in the shuffle, grasp for sources of comfort, including the (to them) mysterious traditions of their Jewish and Catholic grandparents. Emma and her grandparents provide the only stability for the younger children when their mother is in the hospital. Ben alternates between guilt and glimmers of his need to change, and Maddy is simply trying to live.  Accidents of Marriage reveals the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

2. How many different titles did you experiment with before deciding on Accidents of Marriage
My first working title was A Thousand Suppers (which comes from a line in the book, but ultimately made no sense out of context.) The title I used when I presented it to my editor was simply Maddy & Ben. After many long sessions with poetry books, anagrams of words, and other methods that I use, I came up with Accidents of Marriage.

3. How has working with batterers and victims of domestic violence influenced your writings?
Working with batterers taught me far more than I can put in a paragraph, but here is my version of the most important take-away: Never underestimate the hatred some men have of women. Never think that people (other than the truly damaged)  ‘snap’. If they chose to find it, people can access at least a sliver of decision-making. We have agency. We do not choose to hit and scream at our bosses. We choose to hit and scream at people in our homes. The hierarchy of power always comes into play.
Women (and men) do not choose abusive people as their loves—they pick the charming folks they meet in the beginning of a relationship. There might be signs to look out for, but abusers keep those traits in check until the relationship has solidified, when breaking up is more difficult.
There is not a black and white line between being abusive and not being abusive. There is a continuum of behavior, and most of us fall on the wrong side of the best behavior at some point—whether is be yelling, silent treatment, or some other hurtful conduct. Learning that this can be controlled is a job for everyone.
Batterers can change; we can all change our behaviors, but most often we choose not to do the difficult work that change requires. This is something I hope I bring to my writing.

4. Can you discuss the role of Maddy and Ben’s daughter in the book? 
Emma is an average teenager who is thrown into very un-average circumstances. She becomes the stand-in mother, a role she takes on without credit or even being noticed. She is also the keeper of secrets, an impossible position for her to take on. In every stage of her family’s trauma, she is the silent absorber, who ultimately will break or find strength.

5. How did you portray someone with a traumatic brain injury so well? 
I did an enormous amount of study. Luckily I find medical research fascinating. My shelves are crammed with memoirs of those with TBI and caretakers of those with TBI, workbooks for those with TBI, and medical texts—as well as spending time on line reading medical information for those in the field and information for those affected by brain injury. I had someone in the field read the novel and am also lucky enough to have a doctor in my writer’s group.

6. Did you have any say in choosing the cover for the book?
Yes! The final cover was the fourth one presented. It was tough finding the right ‘mood’ for the cover, but I was very pleased with the final version. Of course, most authors (including me) would love to actually design the cover, but my guess is our final products would not be the graphic success we imagine.

7. What made you choose a car crash as the tragic turning point between Ben and Maddy?
Abusive and bullying behavior very often plays out in driving. Road rage is a real problem on our motorways and seemed the logical vehicle for demonstrating how Ben’s bad choices result in devastating consequences.

8. Parts of this story make the reader begin to empathize with Ben. Why did you choose to do this?
I don’t believe books that present characters as all good or all bad can adequately capture life’s totality or experiences. It’s important for me to tap into how we are all the stars of our own show and how we often convince ourselves why it is ‘okay’ to act in awful ways.  Ben is not all bad, despite doing awful and bad things. The question I explore about Ben (among others) is can he change? Is he, are we, capable of change, and if so, how does will and can that change manifest?

9. Is Maddy modeled after anyone that you know?
Maddy is modeled after about a thousand people I know—including myself and my friends and family. Most of us have some Maddy in us, at least at some point. We close our eyes to the worst, or we use drugs or alcohol or food or something else to tamp down our feelings. We live in a maelstrom of problems and pretend it’s all okay. We deny and lie to ourselves. Until we can’t anymore.

10. What do you hope readers will take away from reading Accidents of Marriage?
Abusive behavior is wrong, whether it is physical, emotional, verbal or any other type of hurtful behavior. It overwhelms a family. Raising children with verbal and emotional violence is harmful and the ramifications last forever. 
Most important, we can control our behavior.
But, most of all, I hope readers take a page-turning story from my book. I don’t write to lecture; I write to tell the stories that mesmerize me, and thus, I hope, fascinate others.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Catch Me if You Can: Edition 2 by Miss Mae *Special Offer*

Are all rules broken when it comes to playing a game?  Washed ashore a South Carolina beach, Lois Steinberg learns her shelter, an old plantation house, was scheduled to host a 'Catch Me' game convention.  When the cook is the first one found murdered, the game environment instantly morphs into a terrifying evening reminiscent of 'And Then There Were None'.

I am blessed to be able to work with many different types of authors.  The literary world is filled with writers who give back to the community in various ways.  A good friend of mine, Miss Mae is also giving back to an organization that is close to her heart.  Miss Mae has dedicated her book Catch Me If You Can: Edition 2 to Angie Micik, the director of the Murray County Humane Society.  Miss Mae is also contributing 50% of her book sales for Catch Me if You Can: Edition 2 to the Murray County Humane Society.  This special is good for ONE WEEK ONLY!  Now, here is where YOU can help.  Please follow these steps so we can ensure that all proceeds go to where they are intended.

  1. Go to
  2. Select Murray County Humane Society as your charity
  3. Search for Catch Me if You Can: Edition 2 by Miss Mae
  4. Order the book and then comment either on this blog post or on Miss Mae's Facebook Author page  that you purchased the book.  This way, they can keep track of how much goes to the Murray County Humane Society.

Here is a list of Miss Mae's other works, just click on the title.

Miss Mae is an award winning, best selling author.  "Said the Spider to the Fly" has consistently rated outstanding reviews and has won the esteemed title of Best Book of the Week for The Long and the Short of It Reviews and from The Romance Studio.  It can be purchased both in digital format and in print. "When the Bough Breaks", a young adult coming-of-age story won the 2009 P&E Readers' Poll in the YA category.

Her first book, "See No Evil, My Pretty Lady" had previously only been available as a digital book.  Now it can be purchased in print from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and CreateSpace.  

The highly acclaimed "It's Elementary, My Dear Winifred" won a 2009 Top Ten Read at  Out of print for a couple of years, this fast-paced, action filled 'who-dun-it' is now back with a brand new cover!  It's in print at Amazon and in digital format at a various online estores.  

Miss Mae also enjoys writing humor and non-fiction articles.  Some of her publications can be found in the Front Porch Magazine, Good Old Days, and WritersWeekly.

Her alter ego, M.M., penned a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek fantasy tale titled "Ahoy Gum Drop!" where her bumbling, fumbling reporter, I.B. Nosey, is introduced to the world wide web of cyberspace.  Check him out at Feeling Nosey?

You can follow Miss Mae through social media at the places listed below:

So how about it people?  Let's support Miss Mae and The Murray County Humane Society.  I've already ordered my copy, now hurry and order yours. :)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Q&A with "Falling for Max" author Shannon Stacey

1. Can you tell us a little bit about your new release, Falling for Max?

Falling for Max is the ninth book in my Kowalski family series, and it’s about Max Crawford and Tori Burns. Max is single, has great couches, a big TV, and loves to have people over to watch sports, which is how he’s eased into friendships in Whitford. He’s also the resident man of mystery, since nobody knows what he does for a living down in his basement. Tori moved to Whitford to escape her parents’ acrimonious divorce and works part time at the diner to offset the lack of a social life working from home can cause. When she finds out awkward, shy Max is trying to find himself a wife, Tori decides to help him because she genuinely likes him. But she might found out too late that she likes him more than she thought.

2. What is it about the Kowalski family that people love?

I think they feel really authentic, as if you could run into them at the local diner or at a gas station. They’re blue-collar folks who work hard and play hard. They love their children, respect their parents or parent-figures, and love to laugh. I think they’re people we’d want to hang out with in real life.

3. Why did you decide to bring together your two recurring characters, Tori and Max?

I knew I’d end up writing Max’s story as soon as he was introduced in All He Ever Dreamed, the sixth book in the series. It was something of a surprise when I realized Tori, who was meant to have a walk-on role, was the woman for him. She’s very curious and frank, and isn’t made uncomfortable by Max’s awkward attempts at conversation. She likes him and decides to help him find a date which, of course, goes sideways on her.

4. Is the town of Whitford modeled after the New England town you live in?

Whitford is quite a bit smaller than the town I live in, and my town only has about 3,500 residents. It’s actually very, very loosely modeled after a town in central Maine I’ve visited, but I’m reluctant to say which because people familiar with it would shake their heads. It’s more about the feel of the place and having a point on the map to use when determining how long it takes to drive to the hospital or airport than modeled after the location. 

5. Why do you think people love small town romance novels so much?
One of the things I personally love about small town romance novels is the cast of characters. As a reader, I get to know everybody in the community and become invested in, not only the hero and heroine, but the people around them. Returning to a small town series is like returning to a town I’ve enjoyed visiting or reconnecting with friends.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to be a writer?

I barely remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I think it was a Little House on the Prairie book that caused me to make a connection with an author’s name when I was maybe six or seven and I was told that, yes; people get paid to write books. From that moment on, an author was all I ever wanted to be. It wasn’t until I discovered romance novels as a young teen that I knew what I wanted to write. (I write horrible poetry and horror. Trust me.)

7. What else do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love being at campground with my family. Besides hitting the ATV trails, there’s something refreshing about sitting around a campfire with friends, or playing cards in the gazebo. We generally make the drive up to the northern part of New Hampshire every other weekend from May to October, but this summer we spent ten days there and it was wonderful. Other than that, I watch too much television, with a special weakness for reality shows.

8. How would you describe your voice and writing style?

I really wish I could remember who said it, but I’ve heard that authorial voices are like accents—other people can hear them, but you can’t. I think my voice and writing style probably reflect my general view of life, which I share with my family: humor, love for family, respect. I’ve had readers tell me I do a good job of balancing lightheartedness and emotion for a fun, romantic read.

9. What’s the best part of Max’s quirky personality?

The heroes of the Kowalski series have all been fairly confident, sure-of-themselves men who could bring the charm when it suited them. They “walked tall” in their worlds, so to speak. Max has never found it easy to interact socially, which leads to awkwardness and has made forming relationships in the small town of Whitford somewhat difficult. Showing what a great guy he is through Tori’s eyes was fun to explore.

10.  Tell us a little about your social media presence. How is it different now connecting with readers as opposed to before social media?

When I contracted my first book in 2005, blogging was the “it” social media platform. Writers were networked by, and readers could find us by, blog rolls and group blogs. Now conversations are much more immediate and casual. Blog posts tend to limit the conversation to that post’s topic, while Facebook and especially Twitter lead to more organic conversations that don’t smack of promotion. Writing’s a solitary endeavor and having “water cooler” discussions is a sanity-saver!

11. What’s your main source of inspiration for developing the Kowalski series?

The Kowalski series began when I started writing a romance just for my own pleasure, filled with things I loved, like camping and four-wheeling and s’mores and bug spray jokes. Eventually I realized that if I enjoyed it, so might others, and it became Exclusively Yours, the first book in the series. 

12. Which of the characters in this novel do you feel the most drawn to?

While I enjoyed writing Tori, I’d have to say I’m most drawn to Max. He’s somewhat inspired by several people who are very important to me and his desire to find a woman who’d love him just the way he was really struck a chord. I love all of my book couples, but writing his happily ever after was particularly sweet for me.

13. Do you have any say in what goes on your book covers?

I’ve been incredibly lucky with the Carina Press art department’s ability to take a form on which I’ve noted pertinent, but random, details about the books and return with such wonderful covers. If there’s something I feel strongly about, they do their best to make it happen but, overall, I think Carina Press and Harlequin are brilliant at marketing—including book covers—so I trust in their vision for the series.

14. Where is your favorite place to brainstorm and write?

I have an office in my home, complete with normal office things like a desk, filing cabinets and comfortable chair for writing. I even go in there once in a while—usually if I need to print something—but I do almost all of my writing on the couch in the living room with my dogs snuggled up next to me. A lot of my brainstorming is done while driving, either my vehicle or while out on the ATV trails. And in the shower, of course. Writers trying to work out plot issues tend to be very, very clean.

15. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

“Quit worrying/whining/obsessing and get back to work.” — Jaci Burton, whenever I’m worrying/whining/obsessing over things I can’t control.

16. What are you working on next?
I have a holiday novella, “Her Holiday Man”, releasing in November, and my editor and I are tossing around some ideas for a new series. I hope to have good news to announce very soon!

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Shannon Stacey lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and riding her four-wheeler.  From May to November, the Stacey family spends their weekends on their ATV's, making loads of muddy laundry to keep Shannon busy when she's not at her computer.  She prefers writing to laundry, however, and considers herself lucky she got to be an author when she grew up.

You can contact Shannon through her website, where she maintains an almost daily blog, or visit her on Twitter, her Facebook page, or email her at

Monday, June 23, 2014

In the Spirit of Love by Debbie A. McClure

A ghost story is just a story-until it happens to you.

While on vacation in England with her best friend, Claire Jacobs' life is changed forever. From the beginning, Kent Estate evokes a sense of coming home. When she takes a guided tour of the reputedly haunted manor, it reveals a story of love and murder that resonates deep within her heart. Of course, sensible Claire doesn't believe in spirits, but the all too handsome resident ghost has other plans. Despite her better judgment, Claire finds herself deeply attracted to the spectre, but there can be no future in loving a ghost–can there?

Things are not always what they appear to be.

Wrongly accused of a murder he didn't commit, Lord Richard Abbotsford is bound to Kent Estate. It's been a long one hundred and fifty years. Then he sees her. His beloved Lady Olivia Kent has returned to him. Having become increasingly disillusioned and bitter, the return of Olivia gives him new hope for release from his eternal prison. But Olivia is different; she doesn't recognize him at all. He knows she has returned to Kent Estate for a reason, and he is determined to remind her of their shared past. To do so, he must first change her mind about ghosts–and himself.

First let me just say, I don't know how I got my hands on this book.  I got no email to say "please review this".  There was no email to say "hey, awesome, you won this book!".  Nevertheless, I am grateful that this book came to me for whatever reason it did.  After reading the blurb, I thought it sounded like an interesting read.  When I started to bond with the characters and plot line, which didn't take long at all, it was a WOW moment.  I could not put this book down and for so many reasons.  

I have English lineage myself and I absolutely love hearing anyone speak in an English accent.  In the Spirit of Love was written in such a way that when Richard spoke, I felt as though I was in England visiting the Kent estate myself along with Claire and her friend Holly.  The description of the Kent estate was impeccable.  It felt like a very welcoming place to be.  The contact Claire had with Richard in the beginning was comical and heartwarming at the same time.  

In the Sprit of Love is a full bodied novel that held emotional, warm, stressful and humorous moments that helped the story flow seamlessly.  It is not very easy to give physical attributes to a ghost such as being able to touch, communicate, etc. but Ms. McClure weaves a magical tale that combines the past and present in such a way that it is one hundred percent believable.  I am trying to write in in broad terms as to not give away very many clues because this simply is a story that you must read for yourself.  This book  was a highly suspenseful read that was well written, highly entertaining and will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Yes, this book does end kind of abruptly but in a cliffhanger type of way.  A lot is revealed in the last couple of chapters that let you know there is going to be a sequel. And I'm so looking forward to the sequel. Debbie A. McClure is a new author to me and if her first novel is this good, I can't wait to see her work to come.  In the Spirit of Love is a must read!

Look for In the Spirit of Forgiveness available now.  You can buy In the Spirit of Forgiveness here

Monday, June 16, 2014

Reckless Bounty by Lauren N. Sharman

(Available July 1, 2014)

For thirteen years, bounty hunter Kage Garmin has made it a point to avoid female fugitives.  He wasn't going after this one, either; but couldn't resist taking a look at the girl worth a million dollars. 
She smiled at him, and he fell in love.

Kage knew from then on, she would be his.  
He also knew who was after her and why.  In order to save her, he has to convince her to go the one place she’s trying to avoid.
Hiding in plain sight served Journey well…until a handsome bounty hunter shows up with a ‘feeling’ she’s in danger.  As someone who doesn’t trust easily, she’s surprised to find herself believing in him.

Finally convinced she deserves freedom and happiness, she’s anxious to confront those who stole it from her.
In a dangerous race across the country, Kage is determined to protect Journey as he fights to stay one step ahead of the enemy.

Being a book reviewer, you occasionally find a gem of a book that blows your mind and takes your breath away. When you find a book you absolutely connect with, think about long after it's over and wonder what is going to happen next, you want to tell anyone reading your review just why you liked it so much. At the same time, you don't want to tip the reader off to any bombshells or plot twists the author may have in store. That being said, there is so much I want to you about Reckless Bounty but simply can't.

I fell in love with Kage's character immediately. Yes, he's an edgy bounty hunter who doesn't exactly follow the law but at the same time, he's just a big softy. Knowing that he wasn't after the million dollar bounty that came along with the capture of a certain young lady, he just had to see what kind of woman was worth a million dollar bounty. From the moment he saw Journey, he knew she was different and she captured a piece of his heart each time he interacted with her. Here is this big rugged bad ass bounty hunter who has trouble opening his mouth when Journey asks him a question. This was the first trait of his I fell in love with.

Journey, love the name by the way, has no problem being independent. After all, she's been looking for herself for the last three years. When she sees Kage, she knows something is up, but she doesn't feel threatened by him but rather attracted to him. Journey is used to being hit on by men but doesn't realize just how beautiful she truly is. She's smart, spunky and fierce but has that soft side to her as well, a compassionate side. She's very concerned about those around her.

When Kage and Journey finally get past their initial questioning of each other, there is an undeniable chemistry. The air sizzles as they face the obstacles thrown in their way and they come to be dependent on each other, they have to be.

Lauren Sharman has long been a favorite author of mine. Ever since the McCassey series, I've been able to relate to each and every character she has ever written. Reckless Bounty is one of my favorite books by Ms. Sharman yet. There are so many omg moments that will have your jaw dropping. It's intense, funny and oh so sexy. With a phenomenal writing style and many, many plot twists, Reckless Bounty is not a book you want to pass up. Kage's story, Reckless Bounty is a MUST read. You won't be able to put it down, it's an exciting and compelling read. Let's just say that I'm looking so forward to the next book in the series. It's based on yet another utterly yummy hero.

Look for Reckless Bounty to be released on July 1, 2014 and Bad Intentions to be released on November 1, 2014.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Right of Passage by Lauren N. Sharman

The women in Jay McCassey’s life joke that he was born with an ‘S’ on his chest. Strong and always in control, he guards those he loves with unshakable strength.

A shy, quiet farm girl, Sadie lost her heart to Jay when she was ten years old. Without the confidence to express her feelings, she resigns herself to loving the wildly popular member of the notorious McCassey family from afar.

Although one night’s events link them together forever, it isn’t until Sadie’s desperate and alone—and in trouble—that she gathers enough courage to go to Jay with the truth…a truth he initially refuses to accept.

Jay’s prepared to protect Sadie any way he can, but she knows he’s in danger, too. When her attempt to save him before he can save her backfires, the risk he takes to rescue her could end their story before it has a chance to begin.

As I sit here thinking about all of the fantastic words that describe this particular book, I am left with a gaping hole in my heart. Right of Passage is the final book in the McCassey series. I have invested many an hour reading and rereading the personal stories of these charismatic men and the exceptional ladies who stole their hearts. I have never felt such a strong connection to a series as I do the McCassey's. I believe my favorite of them all would have to be Right of Passage, which is Jay's story.

Jay has always been the little kid who had to grow up fast. Now in his 20's and extremely drool worthy, it's time for Jay to have a leading lady of his own. Enter Sadie, the shy girl who has been in love with Jay from the time she was ten years old. From the moment they meet in this story, they develop a strong and moving bond. With miscommunications and half truths scattered throughout the story, it's time for Sadie to tell the truth, the whole truth, in order for Jay to be able to help protect her.

As with all of the McCassey books, Jay and Sadie's story is explosive, literally, and kept me sitting on the edge of my seat. Ms. Sharman pays excellent attention to detail and weaves realistic, believable characters with intense drama. Right of Passage delves heavily into adventurous family relationships which is what made this entire series work so well. Imperfect characters who feel horror, helplessness and anger are what bring so much edge to Right of Passage. I have to hand it to Ms. Sharman for yet another job well done. I still can't believe I will no longer be able to read about future McCasseys.

Here are a list of the McCassey books in order. Click on the name of the book to be redirected to the buy link:

Book 1. No Worries
Book 2. Devils Candy
Book 3. Dusty Rose
Book 4. The Long Road Home
Books 1-3 in a trilogy book:

The McCassey Cousins Series:

Book 1: When Night Falls
Book 2: Betrayed
Book 3: Starr Dust
Book 4: Right of Passage