Thursday, October 23, 2014

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope, #0.5) by Jody Hedlund

Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope, #0.5)
Having grown up in a lighthouse, loneliness is all Isabelle Thornton has ever known--and all, she assumes, she ever will know. But when her lightkeeper father rescues a young man from the lake, her sheltered world is turned upside down.

Bestselling author Jody Hedlund's Out of the Storm is her first ever novella and introduces readers to Beacons of Hope, a new series set in the 1800s amid the romance, history, and danger surrounding the Great Lakes lighthouses of Michigan.

About The Author 

Jody Hedlund is the bestselling author of seven novels, including Captured by Love, A Noble Groom, winner of the 2014 Carol Award for Historical Fiction, and The Preacher's Bride, winner of the 2011 Award of Excellence. She received a bachelor's degree from Taylor University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin, both in social work. She lives in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children. 

She can be found online at


My Review: 
When a ship is wrecked off the coast of Presque Isle, Michigan, pieces of the ship and bodies start to wash up in front of the lighthouse. A barely alive man, clinging to his friend also comes ashore, and changes the lives of the people who live there forever.
Isabelle lives here with her father, the lighthouse caretaker, and spends her days do laundry, meals, and among other things drawing. Now she has the added duty of helping Henry survive, and not become drawn in by him.
Henry acts like a rather spoiled individual, and has had a rather easy life, up until now. He is so different from Isabelle, and he comes from money. Is there any hope for him that he will survive to live another day, and for his soul? He is a rather reckless individual.
Isabella has a rather serious problem, and knows that she can never leave where she is, nor is she able to marry. Will these two unlikely people be able to forge a relationship?
I loved the description the author paints of this area, rather desolate, but with specular beauty. Weather is harsh, and once the ice freezes, they are stuck without seeing anyone for about half a year.
I cannot wait to read Love Unexpected due out by this author shortly; I loved reading this short story.

I received this book from the Publisher Bethany House, and was not required to give a positive review.


Pump Up Your Book Presents Married One Night Virtual Book Publicity Tour Plus First Chapter Reveal

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Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Amber Leigh William’s MARRIED ONE NIGHT virtual book tour October 6-31!

PUYB Inside the Book

Married One Night 2

Title: Married One Night
Author: Amber Leigh Williams
Publisher: Harlequin Superromance
Pages: 384
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Format: Paperback/Kindle
What happened in Vegas…followed her home! 
Olivia Lewis is not the marrying type. So when a wild weekend in Vegas leaves her with a surprise husband, she’s happy to sign anything to erase her mistake—even if that mistake is handsome, charming and comes with an English accent. Fortunately, her groom has other plans.
Bestselling author Gerald Leighton knows he can make his new bride fall in love with him—he just needs time. In exchange for a quickie divorce, Olivia grudgingly gives him a few weeks to attempt to woo her. And whether Olivia likes it or not, Gerald plans on using every second to win her heart!

For More Information

PUYB Meet the Author

Amber Leigh Williams

Amber Leigh Williams lives on the Gulf Coast. A southern girl at heart, she loves beach days, the smell of real books, relaxing at her family’s lakehouse, and spending time with her husband, Jacob, and their sweet, blue-eyed boy. When she’s not running after her young son and three, large dogs, she can usually be found reading a good romance or cooking up a new dish in her kitchen. She is represented by Joyce Holland of the D4EO Literary Agency.
Her latest book is the contemporary romance, Married One Night.

For More Information
  • Visit Amber Leigh Williams’ website.
  • Connect with Amber on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Amber’s blog.
  • More books by Amber Williams.
  • Contact Amber

    First Chapter:

    Olivia Lewis woke up in a Sin City penthouse amidst petal-strewn, silk sheets. She bolted upright in bed…and groaned, wavering as the world turned. And turned again.
    Okay, make that silk sheets, rose petals…and the most vicious hangover of her life.
    Hissing, she pressed a hand over her eyes, the other on her head to stop the contents from sloshing around. Her mouth felt like sandpaper, and her stomach writhed. Obviously the obscene amount of liquor she’d consumed the night before was turning on her in sickly rebellion.
    “Oh, holy moly,” she wheezed. “What the hell happened last night?” Peering around, she squinted against the desert sunlight streaming through the undraped floor-to-ceiling window that spanned the entire left wall of the bedroom. At the sight of several curiously unmentionable items scattered across the bed and floor, she became more than a little curious about the events of the previous evening. Especially when she saw the tattered remains of her red dress hooked on the wall sconce at the other end of the room.
    Frowning, she lifted the covers and looked underneath. She was naked as sin. And she’d spent enough nights with men to know how she should feel the next day. With a groan, she laid back into the pillows and pulled the covers over her head.
    So sometime during the night, she had snuck away from the bachelorette party for her friend Roxie Honeycutt and gotten frisky—very frisky—with an unknown man.
    It wasn’t her first one-night stand. Nor did she think it would be her last. But considering she’d been the hostess of Roxie’s bachelorette party and it had been her idea to bring the bash to Vegas, Olivia felt shame rushing up to meet her.
    She sighed, flopping her arms over her head. “Well done, Liv,” she muttered at the ceiling. It was painted with a mural complete with puffy white clouds and baby-faced cherubs.
    How many inappropriate things had those cherubs seen last night?
    Olivia pursed her lips, thinking back hard to what she could remember of the past twenty-four hours. She and her friends had flown into Vegas, then checked into their casino hotel room. They’d gone to a bar…no, a club. The venue had been packed elbow to elbow. Olivia’s other friend and invitee, Adrian Carlton, had kept ordering drinks for the three of them. Tequila shots. That would explain the gargantuan headache pounding away at the inside of Olivia’s head and the base of her neck.
    Then…there’d been dancing on the parquet dance floor. And a man. Olivia braved the thumping, eyes watering as she thought hard to bring him into sharper focus. She got only an impression—tall. Tailored suit. A black necktie, which she’d had fun unknotting later here in the penthouse…with her teeth?

    She grimaced and focused again on the man’s features. Blond hair, a bit tousled as the night wore on. There was a limo, one exclusively for Olivia and her mystery man. Some frisky business in the backseat as Vegas lights blurred together outside the tinted windows. Yes, she’d run her fingers through that gilded crown of his, raking her nails lightly over his scalp. He’d liked that. Big, skillful hands on her hips. Roaming over her back…getting lost in her hair. He’d spoken to her, sweet endearments. She wasn’t usually one for sweet endearments—just the answer of skin on skin and the satisfaction that came with it.
    But he’d been different. Why, Olivia couldn’t say…. The accent. His sweet words had been accentuated with a devastating—British?—accent that had, quite literally, charmed the pants off her.
    Olivia raised a hand to her hair as her scalp tingled in remembrance. She smiled a bit at the memory, then closed her eyes on another wave of fierce pounding. If she could summon enough energy to rise from the rumpled bed, she might be able to find her purse amidst the chaos of the room. There was aspirin in that little red handbag. She needed aspirin. ASAP.

    Carefully, she sat up again and braced her hands in the thick bedding. She waited for the world to stop revolving and settle back on axis before taking a deep, bracing breath and pulling the covers back. Instant chills racked her skin, made worse by the fine sheen of sweat courtesy of the savage aftermath of tequila drinking.
    She slung her legs over the side of the bed. Her toes sank into a thick, black rug. Shivering, she wrapped the white, silk top sheet around her, knotting it at her collarbone so that it stayed as she stood.
    It took more effort than she would have liked to stay upright. She reached forward to catch the wall as she staggered in the general direction of what she hoped was a bathroom. The floor quaked beneath her and she could feel dregs of nausea rising up from the pit of her stomach. Yes, yes, that’d better be a bathroom.
    Before Olivia could shoulder her way through the door, it opened quickly. She felt herself pitch over, tripping over the edge of the bedsheet. Cursing, she fell against the lean, chiseled chest of the man on the other side of the bathroom doorjamb.
    She heard his surprised whoosh just before his arms snagged her under the shoulders and curled around her to keep her from falling at his feet. Her cheek pressed tight against his sternum. He was so warm. The deep timbre of a chuckle trebled beneath the ear pressed to his chest and words, rough around the edges, came floating from his mouth. “Ah, she wakes.”
    When she tried to pull herself back, he held her fast to him for a moment longer to make sure she had her footing. With a murmured, “Easy there, love,” he released her and she stepped away, seeking his face.
    He was smiling. The soft expression was tense around the edges, probably from what she could guess was a good deal of pounding happening on the inside of his head, too. She drew in a breath. His eyes were a brilliant shade of green. Dimples, or laugh lines, dug in around his mouth and the corners of his eyes. A man who smiled often and laughed well, Olivia surmised. His hair was blond and wet from a shower she assumed, judging by the steam behind him. He’d combed the hair back from his forehead, leaving his high brow bare.
    A towel hung loosely around his waist. She blinked. She was staring. But the longer she stared, the more she could remember from last night, and the giddy spontaneity and blistering heat of all that had transpired made her forget for a moment how miserable she felt.
    And, bless him, he didn’t seem to mind the staring. He was doing a good bit of his own. The smile on his lips deepened into a full-fledged grin, eyes softening further as he took her in. “Well. Aren’t you a sight for sore eyes.”
    She found a smile curving at the corner of her mouth. He was British. His words were enunciated with the high-class sounds of English breeding and good humor. His voice was like fine-aged wine. Or whiskey.
    Whiskey, she decided. It had a good, old-fashioned burn to it.
    Keep it together. Lifting her hands to the sheet knotted just under her collarbone, she made sure it was in place before dragging a hand back through her long, curly, bedraggled tresses. “Erm…good morning?” Olivia said, unsure of herself. Usually, she knew how to navigate the awkward, morning-after interlude. But this stranger’s clean-cut, unexpected appeal threw her for a loop.
    He beamed and held out a hand, skimming far and above the awkwardness of the situation with good-natured ease. “Gerald Leighton. It’s lovely to meet you…again.”
    She stared at the hand. Ignoring the wariness inside her, she reached out and took it. Again, she felt warmth. She wanted him to fold his hand close around hers until the chills deserted her. It was much larger than her own. Built for creating, shaping. A sculptor’s hand. The fingers were long and narrow. Aside from the absence of well-worn calluses and wrinkles, they actually reminded her a bit of her grandfather’s, a life-long carpenter.
    When she found nothing to say in return, he firmed his lips together. Scanning her face a bit more carefully this time, a frown touched his features. “Headache?”
    “Uh, yeah,” she said, wrinkling her nose and squinting once more at the light. “I think tequila was the culprit.”
    “I felt the same when I first woke,” he explained, voice lowered gently. “Not to worry. A glass of water, a couple painkillers and a hot shower set me halfway back to rights.” He stepped aside and lifted a hand to the marble counter of the bathroom. “Aspirin’s there with a bottle of water. There’s a robe, too, if you need it.”
    She licked her lips as they both glanced back at the torn dress. “I think it’s my only option at this point.”
    Gerald ran a hand through his hair and she thought she saw a wink of sheepishness flash in those kind, green eyes. For some reason, her heart stumbled over itself.
    She blinked. Was the tequila still in her system?
    “I apologize…for the dress,” Gerald added quickly. “I’ll be happy to reimburse you for it. Or I can have the concierge send out for another one.”
    Olivia lifted a hand to stop him. “It’s all right. I brought other clothes with me. It shouldn’t be too much trouble. That is if we’re in the same casino my friends and I are staying at. Please tell me this is the Bellagio.”
    “Yes,” he replied. “That’s what the hand towels say, at any rate.”
    “Good,” she said with a sigh of relief. She gazed longingly at the shower. It was crooking its finger at her. Her feet were starting to feel like ice cubes and the chills were coming back with a vengeance.
    “Take your time,” Gerald told her. “I’ll have something sent up to eat. It should be here when you’re done.”
    “Thanks, Gerald.” Olivia ducked into the bathroom. The steam from his shower hugged her as he closed the door behind her. She locked the door, crossed her arms over her chest and faced the long, fogged mirror above the marble counter. Fearing what she might look like, Olivia went to the glass-walled shower stall instead and turned the knob all the way to Hot.
    Olivia meant to hurry, but she soon discovered that the shower had two jet showerheads. And the towels. Oh, the towels were so big and fluffy and, fresh off the heated rack, blessedly warm. She indulged a bit, sitting at the vanity as she took some aspirin and dried her hair with the available hair dryer. Her reflection still looked gray around the edges, but there was nothing she could do about that. She hadn’t yet found her purse and she didn’t carry much more than lipstick and concealer in it anyway.
    Clearly, she hadn’t been prepared to meet some tall, ridiculously good-looking and charming Englishman who made her tummy flutter even after a night drinking round after round of Jose Cuervo.
    While showering and then attempting to make herself somewhat presentable, more memories from the night before came flashing back to her. More drinks in the casino. More kissing Gerald in the elevator. God, she hoped the hotel didn’t have cameras in there. Then there was the penthouse. The penthouse sofa. The big, plush bed. Gerald. Clashing mouths, tangled limbs, and staggering streams of need and pleasure.
    Suddenly she was no longer cold, but instead felt nothing but the heat from last night. Looking up at the mirror, she saw that her cheeks were flushed and she scrubbed her palms over them to chase it. The Brit packed a wallop. That was for damn sure. She took several careful breaths to beat back the memories and high color and wrapped the white, hotel robe around her.
    Fastening it with the rope around the waist, Olivia exited the bathroom, regrettably leaving the enveloping steam behind for the bawdy, orange gleam of midmorning Vegas spilling into the bedroom through that long line of crystal-clear glass.
    She, Roxie and Adrian had a flight to catch in a few hours. Bearing that in mind, Olivia grabbed the shredded remains of her strapless dress off the wall sconce, then bent to pick up her platform heels off the floor. She had to get down on her hands and knees to locate her purse under the bed…where she also found the pathetic remains of her underwear, deciding to leave them where they had fallen. Rest in peace, Victoria’s Secret.
    Instead of wrestling her bra back on, she shoved it into her purse. A quick look at her cell phone told her it, too, had died sometime in the night. She hooked the sky-high heels over her fingers and wandered into the main room of the penthouse.
    The smell of coffee, toast and sausage greeted her. Gerald hadn’t lied; room service was waiting for her on a covered rolling tray. A silver teapot sat next to a pot of coffee that smelled hot, fresh and strong. She desperately wanted a mug of that to push away the lingering fog of the hangover. After a few sips, she’d definitely feel closer to human.
    There were covered trivets from which the breakfast smells were coming. Next to them there was a glass of orange juice and a tall Bloody Mary to top it all off. She practically whimpered at the sight.
    Who was Gerald Leighton and where had he been hiding all her life?
    Olivia was reaching for the coffee when the sliding glass door leading onto what appeared to be a balcony slid open and Gerald walked in. Her hand pulled back from the tray quickly as if he’d caught her stealing. While she was in the shower, he had dressed in pressed, black, tailored suit pants and a crisp, white, oxford shirt he had left unbuttoned at the collar, so the hollow of his collarbone peeked through and the tendons of his neck caught her eye. His feet were bare.
    She fought the urge to lick her lips and gathered the guilty hand that had been reaching for the coffeepot back into the flaps of the robe. “Hello,” she greeted as his eyes found hers. Determined to get the upper hand on the conversation this time—and make up for her earlier bumbling—she pasted on a smile.
    “Feeling better?” he asked, his smile answering hers.
    “Loads better,” she admitted. “Thank you—for letting me use the shower. I don’t want to take up too much of your time—”
    “No, please,” Gerald said, walking toward her in a handful of long, smooth strides. “Have a seat. Have something to eat. I didn’t know what you’d like so I ordered a bit of everything.”
    “I can see that,” Olivia said, scanning the tray admiringly. “And thanks for that, too. But I really should be going.”
    He stopped just shy of her and the tray, a disappointed frown touching his lips. “Are you sure?”
    “Yeah. My friends and I have a plane to catch in a couple of hours. I need to get back to our room and make sure they’re okay. Pack up.” Out of excuses, she made herself look away from those eyes. In addition to kind, they were wise. It was a disconcerting mix, at least for her. She gestured to the room at large. “Your penthouse is beautiful, by the way.”
    Gerald looked around, reaching up to scratch his chin with his knuckles. “It is rather, isn’t it? I’m afraid it’s new to me, too. I was staying in one of the business suites.”
    “Oh,” Olivia said. “So you’re in town on business.”
    “Well, for the most part.” His gaze crawled back to her, that shade of timidity flashing across his face again before he hid it with a wry grin that creased the corners of his mouth and eyes and simultaneously disarmed her. “Until I met you, of course.”
    She lowered her eyes, pressing her lips together to hide a sly smile. “I hope I was a good distraction at least.”
    One of his brows arced knowingly. “Oh, quite. A worthy distraction.”
    She did smile a bit to herself, then sighed, realizing she was lingering here with him. Something about him. A pull, a tug. A compelling stir that toggled her in all the right places, particularly the area of her heart. Her smile quickly turned into a frown and she tugged the lapels of the robe together, gathering them tight against her throat. “Well, Gerald Leighton.” She made herself meet his eyes again. “It was nice meeting you.”
    His grin turned kind again. “I couldn’t be happier that we did, love.”
    Love. Yes, she liked the sound of that a shade too much. Olivia gripped the handle of the door and had opened it only slightly when he said, “Wait a moment.”
    She looked around, and her breath snagged. He was closer now. Jesus, what was this hold he had over her? She didn’t know how to handle it.
    His eyes narrowed on her face. The lines of his mouth were tense now, his jaw squared as he searched her expression. He reached out and took the door but didn’t shut it. She was free to go if she wanted, but his gaze and the urgency she saw there hooked her and made her knees buckle. “I’m ashamed to have to ask you,” he said, “but can I have your name? It seems I’ve forgotten it after last night’s tequila-fueled debauchery.”
    She pursed her lips. “Why would you want to know? I mean, let’s be honest. We’re clearly never going to see each other again….”
    Gerald lifted his shoulders and shook his head. “Not likely.” He stilled and the urgency blinked into his eyes again, heightened. “But you never know, do you? Maybe…one day I’d like to find you. Or you’d perhaps like to get in touch with me. I don’t know….”
    As Olivia searched his eyes and the moment between them stretched, the link between them humming, she weighed his request. Weighed him. Reaching out, she touched the arm he was using to hold the door open. His muscle tightened at her touch. She slid her fingers up to the back of his and squeezed them warmly as she memorized his face. She would be glad of it later, when she returned to her hometown in Alabama. She would remember him and her night with him in the Bellagio penthouse fondly. “Olivia,” she said finally. “My name is Olivia.”
    “Olivia,” he said, smiling softly.
    She nodded, then stepped back, pulled away and broke his spell. “I think we should leave it at that.”
    His lids came down halfway over his eyes, hiding resignation, or disappointment perhaps. “Right. It’s enough. For now.”
    As if there could be a later. She cleared her throat and backed away from him, through the door into the hallway. “So long, Gerald.”
    “Goodbye. Olivia.”

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Promise to Protect (Logan Point #2) by Patricia Bradley

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn't heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn't mean he can get her--or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago--out of his head. When she calls out of the blue, it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. When Tony dies just days later, Ben is charged with a different task--protecting Leigh and her nine-year-old son, TJ, from the killers. But how can Ben keep an eye on Leigh if she's doing everything in her power to avoid him? And could the secret that Leigh is keeping change Ben's life forever?

Suspense, intrigue, and a touch of romance make A Promise to Protect perfect for readers who like their stories with a hearty dose of mystery.

About The Author 

Patricia Bradley's manuscript for Shadows of the Past was a finalist for the 2012 Genesis Award, winner of a 2012 Daphne du Maurier award (1st place, Inspirational), and winner of a 2012 Touched by Love award (1st place, Contemporary). She is a published short story writer and is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc. When she's not writing or speaking, she can be found making beautiful clay pots and jewelry. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America and makes her home in Mississippi.

Learn more at


My Review:

A dying request, protect my sister, an old friend, how could he refuse? Of course, being the sheriff and having a past with the sister also goes into the consideration. Little did Ben know how much protection Leigh was going to need, and how involved he was about to become.
We find a woman who has made something of herself, and has a very big secret. She has challenged herself to be the very best at what she does, and she is now a Doctor. She is a smart woman, with very little self-esteem.
Ben also seems to have a lot to prove, to both himself and his parents, mainly his father. He is following in his Dad’s footsteps and is acting sheriff right now, and hoping to run for election. Someone seems to be out to stop that from happening, does this persons agenda about Ben or is it about Leigh? Will someone end up dying before we get the answers as to who is responsible, for murder?
Their are several twists in this story and sometimes it seems like we are running in two directions at the same time, are they connected, or is everything separate? Then there is TJ, a ten year old that Leigh is the Mother of, and Sarah a charming older woman, who has been like a mother and grandmother to them comes to help them.
We also meet Ben’s family and TJ is able to see what having an extended family is like, and you see his yearning for it. Will Leigh finally find the success she seems to crave, or will the evil that is out there be able to grab her? God is there pulling for her and TJ, and you will love how he opens up the doors and closes others.
I loved this book, and it became a compelling page-turner as I sought the answers to all the questions I had, you won’t be able to put this one down.

I received this book through Revell Book Publishers, and was not required to give a positive review.


Pump Up Your Book Presents Bad Taste in Men Virtual Book Publicity Tour

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Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Lana Cooper’s BAD TASTE IN MEN virtual book tour October 6-31!

PUYB Inside the Book

Bad Taste in Men 2

Title: Bad Taste in Men
Author: Lana Cooper
Publisher: Delightfully Dysfunctional Books
Pages: 352
Genre: Humorous Nonfiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle
Have you ever felt like even Mother Theresa has got more game than you?
If you have, you’d be in the same boat as geeky, awkward metalhead Nova Porter.
Bad Taste In Men follows Nova from her prepubescent years through young adulthood and her attempts at getting dudes to dig her.
Juggling self-esteem issues, small town outsider status, and questionable taste in guys, Nova is looking for love in all the wrong places – like the food court at the mall. Nova’s circle of friends and her strange(ly) endearing family more than make up for what her love life lacks.
Along the way, Nova alternately plays the roles of hero and villain, mastermind and stooge; picking up far more valuable life lessons than numbers for her little black book.
One part chick lit for tomboys and one part Freaks and Geeks for kids who came of age in the mid-’90s, Bad Taste In Men is loaded (like a freight train) with pop cultural references and crude humor.
From getting laughed at by your crush to being stood up (twice!) by a guy with one eye, Bad Taste In Men showcases the humor and humiliation that accompanies the search for love (or at least “like”) as a small-town teenage outcast, managing to wring heart-warming sweetness from angsty adolescent memories – and jokes about barf and poop.

For More Information

  • Bad Taste in Men is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

PUYB Meet the Author

Lana Cooper
Lana Cooper was born and raised in Scranton, PA and currently resides in Philadelphia. A graduate of Temple University, she doesn’t usually talk about herself in the first person, but makes an exception when writing an author bio. Cooper has written extensively on a variety of pop culture topics and has been a critic for such sites as PopMatters and Ghouls On Film. She’s also written news stories for EDGE Media, a leading nationwide network devoted to LGBT news and issues. Cooper enjoys spending time with her family, reading comic books, books with lots of words and no pictures, and avoiding eye-contact with strangers on public transportation. “Bad Taste In Men” is her first full-length novel.

Her latest book is the humorous nonfiction, Bad Taste in Men.

For More Information
  • Visit Lana Cooper’s website.
  • Connect with Lana on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Lana’s blog.
  • More books by Lana Cooper.
  • Contact Lana

    First Chapter ~ 
    When I was eight years old, I thought I was a lesbian. In an era where prepubescent girls simultaneously played with Barbies and lusted after Garanimals-wearing boys whose testicles had yet to descend, I wondered why I didn't get hot for the jocks of my male playmates, failing to take our mutual affinity for G.I. Joe and wrestling at more than face value. Most girls my age talked constantly about boys they thought were cute. I didn't get it. Boys were my friends, not objects of lust.
    The only guy whose name I ever scribbled on my notebook preceded by an "I heart" was Freddy Krueger. I didn't want to marry Freddy; I just admired his sense of humor and style.
    I assumed since I wasn't boy-crazy like most of my female contemporaries, I must be gay.
    AIDS had recently become a hot topic with the deaths of Liberace and Rock Hudson. On one of the rare occasions where my family and I went out to eat, I recalled overhearing another patron's conversation: "I never knew Rock Hudson was a faggot!"
    Growing up in Fletcher, Pennsylvania – a backwards small town with about three black people, a handful of Latinos, and where being different in any way made you a target for abuse – I wondered if being gay was a bad thing.
    During our formative years, my younger brother Orion and I could already attest to what it was like to be different. Amidst the bulk of Bobs and abundance of Amandas in Fletcher, being named "Orion" and "Nova" was the equivalent of walking around with a "kick me" sign.
    Our parents were much more open-minded than your average Fletcherites. Mom spent her college years in Philadelphia. As a young woman, she sang at Atlantic City's Steel Pier and performed in Summer Stock theatre. After college, she moved back to Fletcher to teach high school English. She quit teaching after my brother was born and it wasn't until we were both in high school that Mom went back.
    Dad grew up in Baltimore and spent much of his own youth as a touring musician before settling down in a factory job in Fletcher. The faint trace of Southern accent he harbored earned him the nickname "Grits" from his co-workers. Even after putting down stakes in Fletcher, Dad never totally lost his accent, or his love of music. He and Mom met playing in a local Top 40 / standards band that gigged at supper clubs in the area. Whether he was on the road or living in Fletcher, Dad marched beat of his own drum. Culturally, he identified as half-Jewish, one-quarter Cherokee, and 100% loud n' proud of his heritage. In terms of faith, Dad took the "super sampler" approach to religion, embracing Judaism, Wicca, Methodist Christianity and Catholicism all at once. "They're all the same thing," he opined. "Just different trimmings."
    On the flipside, Mom was as die-hard Catholic as they come. Yet, despite her Catholic upbringing, nothing fazed her. An accomplished pianist herself, Mom's Holy Trinity consisted of Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, and Liberace. While "The Killer"'s hetero-status was confirmed in spades, the jury was still out on Little Richard. The question of Liberace's sexuality wasn't answered until his untimely death. But did it matter who was gay or who was straight when you listened to any of these men play?
    Our family lived in a two-bedroom rental home on the far edge of Fletcher. Growing up, there were very few kids in our neighborhood. Sharing a room and a mutual disdain for one another for the first ten years of our lives, my brother and I were still each other's only game in town. Like it or not, if I had a secret I absolutely needed to tell someone, that someone was Orion.
    "Orion?" I whispered one night across the several foot divide between our twin beds. "Can I tell you a secret?" I paused for dramatic effect as my brother glanced over at me. "I think I'm gay."
    My brother broke into a fit of convulsive laughter after promising he wouldn't tell Mom and Dad.
    Orion usually blabbed anything I confided in him to Mom. I can chalk up my misplaced trust in him to an altruistic need to hope for the best in others, but I was probably only slightly less gullible as a kid than I am now as an adult.
    While I wasn't present for the actual act of my brother diming my midnight confession to Mom, I can only imagine how it all went down: Orion, grinning like a bowl cut-wearing imp, tugging at the hem of Mom's skirt and lisping through a sparsely populated mouth of baby teeth: "Mom! Guessth what? Nova told me she thinksth she'sth gay! Because she doesthn't like boysth! Justht as friendsth! Haaahaaaahaaa!" As my brother cackled maniacally, I imagined Mom picking him up in a big hug, laughing along with her youngest child and applauding this resourcefulness that would provide her with solid entertainment at my expense and a reliable means of keeping tabs on her firstborn's antics.
    One morning, as Mom was doing my hair, she broached the subject to me in a calm, pleasant, motherly manner. "So, you really think that you're gay?" I was too stunned to hear Mom ask that loaded question to realize that my brother had ratted me out.
    I blurted it all out from there, telling Mom that I thought I might be gay because I didn't like boys. All the other girls at school talked about the boys they thought were cute and I didn't think any of them were cute. "Cute" was a term reserved for my stuffed animals, not my male classmates. Was there something wrong with me because I didn't like boys except as friends?
    Mom asked me if I was attracted to girls, to which I replied, "No." I wasn't attracted to anyone. She laughed and asked me if I knew what being gay meant. I told her that I guessed that it meant when a girl likes girls instead of boys and boys like boys instead of liking girls. I also asked if this was a bad thing, judging by the tone in most Fletcherite's voices whenever they uttered the words "lezzie" or "faggot" – like when the news reported Liberace's death.
    Mom explained that being gay was far from being a bad thing. Prompted by the slander hurled at her personal hero, the likeable Liberace who merged classical piano with boogie-woogie, Mom proceeded to give me the most beautiful lesson in tolerance and steering clear of bigotry.
    She took off one of her rings and showed it to me. "See these little cuts across the surface of the jewel? Those are called 'facets.' Each gem is made up of hundreds of tiny facets that make it sparkle. Each is an important part of the whole gem, but one facet isn't the whole jewel. Liberace being gay was just one facet of who he was. He was also a great pianist, a decent enough actor, and a nice person who gave to many different charities. And that's what made him sparkle. Everyone is like a gem and has different facets that make us sparkle. You're a funny little girl with a bright imagination. That's part of what makes you sparkle. So, remember, it's all about 'facets'… not 'faggots.'"
    Mom would later make fun of me mercilessly whenever she found out about any crushes I had later on in life, but I could forgive every minute she mocked me because she imparted such a wonderful, moving, life lesson that stuck with me ever since.
    Even though I came away with a greater understanding of myself and people in general from our little heart-to-heart, I think Mom was relieved that I wasn't interested in dating just yet. She was happy that I was more interested in watching horror movies and playing with toys like a prepubescent kid should.
    Mom's relief was short-lived. The following year, at the age of nine, it happened.
    I came home from school, not looking any different than I did the day before. "Guess what I got today?"
    "An 'A'?" Her tone lacked the excited surprise of a parent whose little underachiever was finally catapulted into the rarified stratosphere of third grade academia. This was more the nonchalance of a parent who expects nothing less from her child.
    "Nope," I replied. "I got my period."
    Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner! Mom certainly wasn't expecting to hear that. At worst, she may have anticipated that I had received a dreaded B-minus on a book report or test – not that her eldest child would be receiving a lifetime's worth of tickets to monthly gigs by Alexander's Rag Time Band at Snatch Stadium before she turned ten.
    "Are you scared?" she asked me.
    "Not really. I guess this just means I'm not a little girl anymore?" The words came out with mixed feelings, more sadness than any grain of fear, probably mirroring Mom's own feelings. If there was one thing I was grateful for, it was that my parents – for all their foul language, loud arguments, and crude humor – never talked down to me or my brother as kids.
    Mom, in particular, spoke to my brother and me like we were "little adults." The fact that our parents ensured we were both capable of comprehending intellectual conversation as well as discussing the finer points of Sesame Street made us much more well-rounded and resilient individuals.
    I had already been preconditioned to hearing the term "period." Mom explained that it was a girls-only thing that involved painless bleeding from the area where you pee and mild stomach cramps. Periods also involved these hilarious wads of cotton known as "Kotex" that strapped into your underpants so you didn't get gross blood stains all over your clothes.
    Apparently, having one's period also involved a superhuman ability to excuse bitchy behavior, judging by the way that Dad would snarl, "What are you, on your period or something?" whenever Mom would issue one of her biting, sarcastic remarks in his direction.
    Mom had already made me well-aware of the concept of "the period," although she had left out the more adult points regarding reproduction. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending upon how you look at it), I had already been given some insight into the whole sordid process by a classmate.
    At school, there was a slut that I was friends with who would describe her tawdry exploits in great detail. (Don't lie. You probably had at least one "slut friend" growing up, too.) I would get an earful from Slut Friend about her uber-romantic evenings with older boys, most of which involved getting felt up on hayrides. Although Slut Friend had already failed third grade twice before, she was still well beyond her years in terms of carnal knowledge.
    Mom was relieved that she didn't have to explain the logistics of intercourse to me, since Slut Friend already did. Still, I sensed sadness in Mom's voice as she recounted the workings of the female reproduction system, that having a period meant that you could get pregnant. While I knew that babies didn't come from the stork, Mom dropped the bomb that they don't come out of the mother's stomach, either – unless they had a Cesarean section. When I found out the exact area that they squirmed out of, I confided in Mom, "That's alright; I didn't want to have babies anyway." Mom offered that the birthing process really wasn't as bad as many women make it out to be.
    "It's like taking a really big, really hard shit… only from where you pee." And thus, that was how the miracle of childbirth was explained to me by my mother. Her frank, take-no-prisoners explanation was made even funnier when I considered Mom's typically ladylike demeanor and thin, blonde frame. Her take on childbirth didn't have quite the philosophical allure of her speech on facets, but achieved its aim as an adequate descriptor of labor without actually having to go through it.
    The rest of puberty's accoutrements soon followed and I developed quite a set of hooters for a 10 year old. I was still "one of the guys," although a few scumbags would occasionally ask, "Can I see them?" to which I would immediately answer with a closed fist to the jaw.
    It wasn't until two years later that my elementary school decided to bring in a so-called expert to lecture at an all-girls assembly about the "Wonders of Womanhood." My male friends encouraged me to go to the seminar to procure pamphlets and other "products" to be mined for comedic value and humiliation at the expense of some of the other girls in our class.
    I didn't go. There was no need to. I already knew the score. Besides, no motivational menstruational speaker could ever explain it as well or as memorable as Mom did.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Snowfall: A Days of Redemption Christmas Novella by Shelley Shepard Gray

New York Times bestselling author Shelley Shepard Gray spins a beautiful holiday tale of finding love in unexpected places

Twenty-year-old Ruth Stutzman is a wonderful caregiver . . . but she has no experience with children. Laid off because of budget cuts from her job at a retirement home, she's relieved to find work—even if it means temporarily watching widower Martin Rhodes's brood of six!

Martin has been doing his best since his wife's passing, but he and the children need help. Their house, once full of laughter and light, has been darkened by sadness. Soon after Ruth arrives, the children are drawn to her warmth and gentleness, and so is Martin, even though he feels it's wrong. But the harder he tries to ignore her, the deeper he begins to care for this attractive young woman who has brought joy back into his children's lives . . . and his own.

Each passing day brings the Rhodes closer to Ruth . . . and closer to Christmas, when she will have to say goodbye. Ruth cannot deny the bond she feels with the children—and with Martin. When her old job becomes available again, Ruth finds herself torn: How can she stay with the Rhodes? And yet how can she go?

About The Author

shelleyshepardgray2013I grew up in Houston, Texas, went to Colorado for college, and after living in Arizona, Dallas, and Denver, we moved to southern Ohio about ten years ago.
I’ve always thought of myself as a very hard worker, but not ‘great’ at anything. I’ve obtained a bachelor’s and master’s degree…but I never was a gifted student. I took years of ballet and dance, but I never was anywhere near the star of any recital. I love to cook, but I’m certainly not close to being gourmet…and finally I love to write books, but I’ve certainly read far better authors.
Maybe you are a little bit like me. I’ve been married for almost twenty years and have raised two kids. I try to exercise but really should put on my tennis shoes a whole lot more. I’m not a great housekeeper, I hate to drive in the snow, and I don’t think I’ve ever won a Monopoly game. However, I am the best wife and mother I know how to be.
Isn’t it wonderful to know that in God’s eyes that is okay? That from His point of view, we are all exceptional? I treasure that knowledge and am always so thankful for my faith. His faith in me makes me stand a little straighter, smile a little bit more, and be so very grateful for every gift He’s given me.
I started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to me. I wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish.
Getting the opportunity to write Inspirational novels is truly gratifying. With every book, I feel my faith grows stronger. And that makes me feel very special indeed.



My Review:

Snowfall was such a great book that I sat down and read it all at once, could not put it down.
My heart really broke for Ruth, such a wonderful young woman, and instead of being bitter about her lot in life, she moved with sparkle. Yes she hurt and longed, but her heart was not bitter.
Then we have Martin, a very hard working Amish man who is a widower left with six children under the age of ten. Had to chuckle when the book opened and one of our old friends, Lovinia babysitting for the children.
Yes we are back in Sugarcreek with are dear friends, and the awesome Amish community here. We reunite with most of our friends here, and you’re in for some good surprises! Made me think of Mary Poppins, only there isn’t any magic, or is there?
There is such a great faith in God here, and loved how they all seemed to face adversity, and yet were there for one another. Is it by chance that Ruth is in Lovinia’s path that day? I think not.
Another great page turner by Shelley Shepard Gray and welcome back to Ohio, and life in this Community.

I received this book through Edelweiss and the Publisher Avon Inspire, and was not required to give a positive review.


Becoming Bea (The Courtships of Lancaster County, #4) by Leslie Gould

Can Bea and Ben Turn Rivalry Into Romance?
Beatrice Zook knows God wants her to learn patience toward others. When assisting a family overwhelmed by triplets proves surprisingly successful, her confidence in dealing with others, both young and old, grows.

One person she'll never be able to find peace with though is Ben Rupp. They've known each other forever, and Ben understands precisely how to antagonize her. What neither she nor Ben will admit is that beneath all their bickering, attraction awaits. When friends decide to try and bring the couple together, will the pair be able to find true love? Or will they damage their relationship beyond repair?

About The Author

Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 CBA bestseller The Amish Midwife, a 2012 Christy Award winner; ECPA bestseller Courting Cate, first in the Courtships of Lancaster County series; and Beyond the Blue, winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She and her husband and four children live in Portland, Oregon.

My Review:

Welcome back to this Lancaster PA Amish community, and the folks we have come to love and become friends with. In the last book we spent time with Molly Zook, and her family. As this book begins she and Leon are married, and the focus of this story is on her sister Bea.
We come of think of Bea as being rather anti-social, and with no prospects of a suitor. Will she spend her life as a spinster, a helper for her sister? Will she and Ben ever stop fighting? Two competitors, who literally changed the schools spelling bee competition, one always had to outdo the other, to much pride here.
Loved how this community rally around one another, whenever there is a need, whether there is a death, an accident or even a new baby. A helping hand is there, to hold a hand or a baby, and a hot meal soon appears.
Bea does try to move outside her shell, she does apply for a job to help a new mother of triplets. Can you imagine, of course some can, but not me, three crying at once? Will Bea be able to handle this; she can barely go down to the market on her own property!
This is one interesting story and will keep you turning the pages, and of course there is always someone who is the bad apple, and you hope that everyone will find out and take care of them.
Come along and ride in the buggy with these young couples, there may be some new marriages here, and some may not make it to the altar.
A really get Amish read here that you don’t want to miss!

I received this book through Net Galley and the Publisher Bethany House, and was not required to give a positive review.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Pump Up Your Book Presents A Wedding and a Killing Virtual Book Publicity Tour

A Wedding and a Killing banner

Pump Up Your Book is pleased to bring you Lauren Carr’s A WEDDING AND A KILLING virtual book tour October 6-31!

PUYB Inside the Book

A Wedding and a Killing 2

Title: A Wedding and a Killing
Author: Lauren Carr
Publisher: Acorn Book Services
Genre: Mystery
Format: Kindle
When Mac Faraday decides to do something, there’s no stopping him … even murder!
Not wanting to wait until their big day to start their life of wedded bliss, Mac Faraday and his lady love, Archie Monday, decide to elope to the little church where his ancestors had all married—along the tranquil shore of Deep Creek Lake. However, before they can say, “I do,” the sanctuary erupts into chaos when Gnarly finds a dead body in the church office.
As they dive into the investigation, Mac and his team discover more questions than answers. What kind of person walks into a church and shoots a man for no apparent reason? How do you solve the murder of a man who has no enemies in the world? Which of the seemingly kind-hearted church members is really a cold-blooded killer?
Then, there is the all-important question, how long do Mac Faraday and his lady love have to wait to get married?



For More Information

  • A Wedding and a Killing is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads

PUYB Meet the Author

Lauren Carr

Lauren Carr is the best-selling author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. A Wedding and a Killing is the eighth installment in the Mac Faraday Mystery series.
In addition to her series set on Deep Creek Lake, Lauren Carr has also written the Lovers in Crime Mysteries, which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates, who were introduced in Shades of Murder, the third book in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. They also make an appearance in The Lady Who Cried Murder. Dead on Ice (A Lovers in Crime Mystery) was released September 2012. The second installment, Real Murder was released to rave reviews in June 2014.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This year, several books, over a variety of genre, written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services, which is currently accepting submissions. Visit Acorn Book Services website for more information.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and three dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

For More Information

  • Visit Lauren Carr’s website.
  • Connect with Holly on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Lauren’s blog.
  • Is your group looking for a speaker for your next event?  Click here.
  • Contact Lauren.