Book 107: WHAT A MOTHER KNOWS Review

What A Mother Knows by Leslie Lehr
ISBN:  9781402279560 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781402279577 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00B2AO76U (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Sourcebooks


How far will a mother go to protect her daughter?

An unsettling, emotional and suspenseful novel of the unshakable bonds of motherhood, in which Michelle Mason not only loses her memory after a deadly car crash, but can’t find her 16-year-old daughter, the one person who may know what happened that day. But the deeper Michelle digs, the more she questions the innocence of everyone, even herself.

A dramatic portrayal of the fragile skin of memory, What a Mother Knows is about finding the truth that can set love free.



Read an excerpt here: http://www.leslielehr.com/images/WhatAMotherKnows-excerpt1%202.pdf


Michelle Mason used to have it all, a great job, a loving husband and two wonderful children. Everything changed after she has a horrific car crash that seriously injures her and kills her passenger. Michelle is finally able to return home after dealing with major surgeries, a medically induced coma that lasted months, and one year in rehabilitation. The home she returns to isn’t the home she remembers. Her husband is now residing in New York, her son is in a boarding school, and her daughter has disappeared. The first brick in Michelle’s carefully constructed “memories” is destroyed when she’s told her daughter isn’t studying internationally but has run away from home and it might be related to the car accident. Michelle’s husband, Drew, tells her that a police report has been filed, a detective hired, and people are searching for Nikki. Michelle seems to instinctively know that there is more to the story than she is being told, so she launches her own investigation. As she uncovers details over the course of months, she is made to feel as if she’s unreliable due to her tragic injuries. Can she trust the people that have repeatedly lied to her, or does she trust her instincts?

What A Mother Knows is an intriguing story that pulled me in from the very beginning. Michelle seems to be on a roller coaster ride in her attempts to search for her daughter. Just when she thinks she’s found out something useful, there’s an unexpected dip or turn that reveals more and more lies from those closest to her. Michelle is forced to face her overbearing but loving mother, Elyse Deveraux, as well as her strained marriage with her husband Drew, and her son Tyler. She doesn’t seem to have anyone to support her in her quest for the truth, but she is fervent in her belief that a mother simply knows. This is more than a contemporary story about family, it is also about self-discovery as Michelle learns to adjust to her new lifestyle and limitations, and ultimately a mystery as she searches for her missing daughter. Ms. Lehr has provided a story filled with people that aren’t wholly good or bad, but rather residents of the grey areas. Michelle is likeable and a realistic portrayal of just how far a mother is willing to go for the sake of her children. If you enjoy reading family dramas or mystery-suspense, then you definitely want to add What A Mother Knows to your reading list.


Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book free for review purposes from the publisher, Sourcebooks, via NetGalley. I was not paid, required or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway – SWEET MERCY by Ann Tatlock



Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock
ISBN:  9780764210464 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781441261496 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00B85M16C (Kindle edition)
Publication date: May 1, 2013
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers


When Eve Marryat’s father is laid off from the Ford Motor Company in 1931, he is forced to support his family by leaving St. Paul, Minnesota, and moving back to his Ohio roots. Eve’s uncle Cyrus has invited the family to live and work at his Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge.

St. Paul seemed like a haven for gangsters, and Eve had grown fearful of living there. At seventeen, she considers her family to be “good people.” They aren’t lawbreakers and criminals like so many people in her old neighborhood. Thrilled to be moving to a “safe haven,” Eve is blissfully unaware that her uncle’s lodge is a transfer station for illegal liquor smuggled from Canada.

Eve settles in to work and makes new friends, including an enigmatic but affecting young man. But when the reality of her situation finally becomes clear, Eve is faced with a dilemma. How can she ignore what is happening right under their very noses? Yet can she risk everything by condemning the man whose love and generosity is keeping her and her family from ruin?



The Book Diva’s Reads is pleased to host a guest post by author Ann Tatlock and provide an excerpt from Sweet Mercy.


Meet the Cast of Sweet Mercy 
by Ann Tatlock

Eve Marryat, our narrator, is a likeable 17-year-old girl who really only has one major flaw: she’s a bit smug. She’ll tell you so herself, though she’s much older than 17 when she’s willing to admit to it. She’s a loyal and loving daughter to her parents, Drew and Rose Marryat, though she’s rather critical of sister Cassandra, who was drawn to the life of speakeasies, hip flasks and illicit love affairs that catapulted her into marriage and motherhood sooner than she had hoped.

Drew is laid off from the Ford Plant in Minnesota and the family is invited by Cyrus Marryat, Drew’s brother, to return to Ohio and help him run the Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge. Eve is happy to leave crime-ridden St. Paul (and sister Cassandra) behind to go live in idyllic Mercy, Ohio. Uncle Cy seems like a hero to Eve, but there’s more to him than meets the proverbial eye.

In Mercy, Eve befriends Marlene Quimby, who introduces Eve to her first love, Marcus Wiant. Marcus is the son of the sheriff and works with Marlene’s boyfriend, Jimmy Fludd, at the gas station across from the lodge.

Two more young men enter Eve’s life, the first being her step-cousin Jones, a reclusive albino who lives and works at the lodge. The second is a fellow she knows only by the name of Link, a drifter who lives at the shantytown up the river and comes by the lodge occasionally for a hot meal and a cold drink.

In spite of Eve’s best hopes, the island is not so idyllic, the lodge is full of secrets, and no one is quite what Eve thinks they are, including Eve herself. The summer of 1931 is a season of discovery for Eve, and a time when she comes to know the meaning of sweet mercy. 




Excerpt

From Chapter 1:

 “Well, that’s easy,” I said. “It’s easy to love Uncle Cy.” After all, he was my ticket out. He was my ticket to a new life. We were leaving the city of sin behind. No more bootleggers, brothel-keepers, gangsters, corrupt lawmen, kidnappers, or murderers. We were on our way to Marryat Island Ballroom and Lodge in Mercy, Ohio, on the Little Miami River. We were on our way to the Promised Land.

Daddy gave me one more glance in the rearview mirror before settling his eyes on the road for the long haul ahead. Mother wiped at tears one last time before resignedly stuffing her handkerchief back into her pocketbook. She turned her face to the window, her features delicate and gentle in profile, her soft brown hair pulled into its usual knot at the back of her head.

I too settled back for the ride. As the newly awakened Minnesota landscape rolled by, I noticed the morning edition of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on the seat beside me. Clear of the city limits and facing the long stretch of open road toward Wisconsin, I picked up the paper to pass the time. When I saw an advertisement on page six for Wilson Tailors, I shook my head and clicked my tongue softly. Even the tailors were making money from the fallout of St. Paul’s sleazy underworld. In bold type the proprietor, Mr. Edmund Wilson, boasted: “Bullet holes rewoven perfectly in damaged clothes.”





Ann Tatlock


Ann Tatlock is the author of the Christy-Award winning novel Promises to Keep. She has also won the Midwest Independent Publishers Association “Book of the Year” in fiction for both All the Way Home and I’ll Watch the Moon. Her novel Things We Once Held Dear received a starred review from Library Journal and Publishers Weekly calls her “one of Christian fiction’s better wordsmiths, and her lovely prose reminds readers why it is a joy to savor her stories.” Ann lives with her husband and daughter in Asheville, North Carolina.




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Book Excerpt: REDEYE by Michael Shean

Redeye (Book 2 of the Wonderland Cycle) by Michael Shean
ISBN:  9781620072356 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781620072349 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00C7T2DJI (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 12, 2013
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press


Two years have passed since Agent Thomas Walken and Bobbi January found themselves at the heart of a conspiracy of unimaginable greed and cruelty. The Genefex Corporation remains shrouded in mystery and Bobbi January faces a life of unanswered questions and mounting disillusionment to look forward to. But when she receives a mysterious message from one of Walken’s former comrades, she is drawn back onto the trail. Now, Bobbi will find herself newly equipped to discover the truth – about Walken, about Genefex and the Yathi race – and the key to unlocking those secrets rests in the hands of a cyborg terrorist known only as Redeye.

But the road to truth will be a dangerous one, from the glamor of Seattle’s ultramodern core to the sprawling wastelands of the Old City and beyond. Alongside a band of lethal comrades, Bobbi will face death and worse amidst urban rot, abandoned subway tunnels, and ultimately the nightmarish halls of the Yathi themselves in a race to stave off what may prove to be the death of humanity itself. For the Mother of Systems will not be denied, and it will take all of Bobbi’s intelligence and wit to stave off annihilation. Drenched in blood and neon, Redeye is a tale of humanity on the edge of a new and terrible reality.



Excerpt

Chapter One

In the end, all Bobbi had left of him was a bloody coat. 

It had been the one that he had worn when they had driven through the Old City, when they had searched for dead little girls in a concrete wasteland. He had driven them through a mass of insane feral killers to save them both. That was him, her knight in cheap black microfiber. 

Tom. On nights like this, she missed him like crazy. 

Bobbi had never thought of him as hers at the time. There was too much going on, too much insanity and Stadil’s stupid goddamned quest. And he had followed that road to the end, into the bowels of that abandoned hospital. The hospital that she had destroyed, and probably him with it, at his own request. But he had said that he had forgotten all about the Bureau, and that had meant that he intended to come back. Didn’t it? 

Thomas Cooley Walken, agent of the American Industrial Security Bureau. It had not been love, she didn’t think, but it had been something perhaps preceding it. Despite everything she had wanted, she had become fascinated with his vulnerability, his strangeness. Walken didn’t trust this world that she had accepted as a matter of fact. And now he was gone, and had taken the secret of that disbelief with him. 

All she had left of him was that black coat, pinned up in a shadow box on the far wall of her tiny bedroom by the door. It was the first thing she saw upon rising, the last thing she saw before going to bed. She stared at it now, stretched out like a skin. The stains had long since faded into the fabric, blood long since bonded with the synthetic fibers.


About the author

Michael Shean was born amongst the sleepy hills and coal mines of southern West Virginia in 1978. Taught to read by his parents at a very early age, he has had a great love of the written word since the very beginning of his life. Growing up, he was often plagued with feelings of isolation and loneliness; he began writing off and on to help deflect this, though these themes are often explored in his work as a consequence. At the age of 16, Michael began to experience a chain of vivid nightmares that has continued to this day; it is from these aberrant dreams that he draws inspiration.

In 2001, Michael left West Virginia to pursue a career in the tech industry. He settled in the Washington, DC area as a web designer and graphic artist. As a result, his writing was put aside and not revisited until five years later. In 2006 he met his wife who urged him to pick up his writing once more. Though the process was very frustrating at first, in time the process of polishing and experimentation yielded the core of what would become his first novel, Shadow of a Dead Star. In 2009 the first draft of book was finished although it would not be until 2011 he would be satisfied enough with the book to release it.

Michael’s work is extensively character-driven, but also focuses on building engaging worlds in which those characters interact. His influences include H.P. Lovecraft, William Gibson, Cormac McCarthy, Philip K. Dick, and Clark Ashton Smith.


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Website      |      Facebook     |      Twitter      |      Goodreads 

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Book Spotlight: JANUARY JUSTICE



January Justice by Athol Dickson
ISBN:  9780985430283 (paperback)
ASIN:  B00AGAW6EC (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 1, 2012
Publisher: Author Author Inc.


Reeling from his wife’s unsolved murder, Malcolm Cutter is just going through the motions as a chauffeur and bodyguard for Hollywood’s rich and famous. Then a pair of Guatemalan tough guys offer him a job. It’s an open question whether they’re patriotic revolutionaries or vicious terrorists. Either way, Cutter doesn’t much care until he gets a bomb through his window, a gangland beating on the streets of L.A., and three bullets in the chest. Now there’s another murder on Cutter’s mind, his own…




Excerpt

ONE OF THE STRANGEST THINGS ABOUT THE CITY was the sudden way it disappeared around the edges. One minute you were down on Sunset Boulevard surrounded by glass and concrete, and the next thing you knew you were up on Mulholland Drive, alone in the rough country. From a high window or a rooftop almost anywhere in Los Angeles you could see the mountains, and there was always something ravenous up there looking down. 


I was up among the hungry creatures, standing at the edge of a cliff, with Hollywood and Santa Monica far below me in the distance. One step forward and I would be in midair. I was looking down and wondering if Haley had considered how suddenly you could go from city to wilderness. Then I wondered if it was a distinction without a difference, if the city might be the wilderness and the wilderness the city, and maybe Los Angeles’s edges seemed to disappear so suddenly because there really was no separation between sidewalks and mountain paths, buildings and boulders. Up in the mountains or down in the city, either way the carnivores were in control.

I imagined Haley, out of her mind, running full speed off the cliff. I wondered what it had been like, that final second or two before she hit. Had she realized what was happening? Did she recognize the city lights below for what they were, or did she really think she was flying toward the stars? And did she think of me?

Stepping closer to the edge, I slid the toes of my shoes into the air. I looked down two hundred feet, toward the spot where she had broken on the rocks. I stood one inch from eternity and tried to imagine life without her. I could not summon up a single reason why I shouldn’t take that final step, except for one. I thought about the kind of animal who would drive someone to do what my wife had done. Predators like that were everywhere. I should know. I had trained for half my life to be one of them. I was hungry, looking down on the city. If I was going to live, the hunger would have to be enough, for now. But I would sink my teeth into him, sooner or later. I would do that for Haley, and for myself, and then maybe it would be my turn to see if I could fly.

I stepped back from the edge.



About the Author


A master of profound suspense. Athol Dickson’s mystery, suspense, and literary novels have won three Christy Awards and an Audie Award. Suspense fans who enjoyed Athol’s They Shall See God will love his latest novel, January Justice, the first installment in a new mystery series called The Malcolm Cutter Memoirs. The second and third novels in the series, Free Fall and A March Murder, are coming in 2013.

Critics have favorably compared Athol’s work to such diverse authors as Octavia Butler (Publisher’s Weekly), Hermann Hesse (The New York Journal of Books) and Flannery O’Connor (The New York Times). Athol lives with his wife in southern California.

Connect with the author:
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Excerpt: THREE SISTERS

Three Sisters (Blackberry Island #2) by Susan Mallery
ISBN: 9780778314349 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781460306390 (ebook)
ASIN: B00A9V1DF6 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Harlequin MIRA
Publication Date: February 26, 2013

After Andi Gordon is jilted at the altar, she makes the most impetuous decision of her life – buying one of the famed Three Sisters Queen Anne houses on Blackberry Island. Now the proud-ish owner of the ugly duckling of the trio, she plans to open her own pediatric office on the first floor, just as soon as her hunky contractor completes the work. Andi’s new future may be coming together, but the truth is she’s just as badly in need of a major renovation as her house. 

When Deanna Phillips confronts her husband about a suspected affair, she opens up a Pandora’s Box of unhappiness. And he claims that she is the problem. The terrible thing is, he’s right. In her quest to be the perfect woman, she’s lost herself, and she’s in danger of losing her entire family if things don’t change. 

Next door, artist Boston King thought she and her college sweetheart would be married forever. Their passion for one other has always seemed indestructible. But after tragedy tears them apart, she’s not so sure. Now it’s time for them to move forward, with or without one another. 

Thrown together by fate and geography, and bound by the strongest of friendships, these three women will discover what they’re really made of: laughter, tears, love and all.




Book excerpt:

“I’d love a cup of coffee,” she said.

 Boston led the way across the ragged grass to her own yard, then up the steps to the front door. Andi noticed the boards that made up the porch floor had been painted dark blue, and there were stars and planets scattered around. The front door was dark wood with stained-glass panels.

The eclectic mix of traditional décor and whimsy continued in the foyer. A Shaker-style bench stood by a coatrack. On the wall was a mirror framed by silver squirrels and birds. The living room to the left had comfortable sofas and chairs, but there was a huge painting of a naked fairy over the fireplace.

 Boston led the way down a narrow hallway, painted bloodred, and into a bright, open kitchen. There were cobalt-blue-painted cabinets, sleek, stainless appliances and a gray-and-blue marble countertop. The smell of coffee mingled with fragrant cinnamon and apples.

“Have a seat,” Boston said, pointing at stools pulled up against the breakfast bar. “I just heated a couple of scones. I have cinnamon apple butter I made last fall.”

Andi thought of the protein bar and cup of coffee that had been her breakfast and heard her stomach growl. “That sounds great. Thanks.”

She took the offered seat. Boston opened the oven and removed a cookie sheet with two large scones on it. The apple butter was in a glass jar. Boston put the scones on a plate and passed one over, then poured coffee.

“Just black for me,” Andi told her.

“Ah, a true coffee drinker. I have to conceal my caffeine in hazelnut and vanilla.”

She got the flavored creamer from the refrigerator.




About the author:

With more than 25 million books sold worldwide, New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for creating characters who feel as real as the folks next door, and for putting them into emotional, often funny situations readers recognize from their own lives. Susan’s books have made Booklist’s Top 10 Romances list in four out of five consecutive years. RT Book Reviews says, “When it comes to heartfelt contemporary romance, Mallery is in a class by herself.” With her popular, ongoing Fool’s Gold series, Susan has reached new heights on the bestsellers lists and has won the hearts of countless new fans.

Susan grew up in southern California, moved so many times that her friends stopped writing her address in pen, and now has settled in Seattle with her husband and the most delightfully spoiled little dog who ever lived. 

Connect with the author:  

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Follow the tour:  http://blogtoureditors.booktrib.com/2013/02/28/blog-tour-three-sisters-by-susan-mallery/

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Book Excerpt: DEEP CONNECTIONS

Deep Connections Connections Series #1 by Rebecca Graf
ISBN:  9781478291961 (paperback)
ASIN:  B0091VONS4 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Silver Tongue Press
Publication date: August 31, 2012


Just as love appears, so does the darkness. With her heart reaching out for one man, Brenna finds herself the target of an unknown stalker. Who is he? What does he want? How far will he go for her? Death is an option. Brenna discovers more than she bargained for and learns that the stalker will kill for her. It all comes down to decisions, and no matter what she chooses it will demand sacrifice and someone’s blood.




Excerpt: 

Brenna’s eyes fluttered open to see a blur of trees flying by.  Her head pounded and her stomach began to roll from the pain she felt and the fast-changing scenery.  A careful look at her surroundings told her she was in some older model car.  She inhaled deeply to calm herself, but confusion set in as her senses were assaulted by unfamiliar smells.  Her eyes widened in fright as terrifying memories began to flood her mind.  Turning slowly, afraid of what she might see, she gazed at the man behind the wheel of the speeding car.  She shivered when she saw he was just as repulsive as she remembered.  Who was he and what did he want with her?

Sensing her stare, a pair of dark, soulless eyes turned towards her.  A smile appeared on his unkempt face.  “Well, well, sleeping beauty awakes.”  Brenna’s stomach rolled again as she felt his eyes slide hungrily over her body.  She pushed up against the door in an effort to put as much distance between the two of them as she could, but he shook his head in disapproval.  “No need to be  dramatic.”  He turned his attention back to the road.  “We both know you won’t jump out.”


About the Author:

Rebecca Graf lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband and three children. She worked as an accountant for 20 years before taking the plunge and write online for various sites and companies. Now she runs a publishing company, Silver Tongue Press, and writes full time while trying to keep up with all the activities of her children.

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Book Excerpt: RED MADRASSA




Red Madrassa (Algardis #1) by Terah Edun
ISBN:  9781479301072 (paperback)
ASIN:   B00A4152SA (Kindle Edition)
Publication Date:  November 8, 2012



A magical accident threw them together. But when Fate holds all the cards, it can be impossible to tell the difference between pure chance and Destiny… 

The Madrassa, a magical school for mage practitioners, is the stuff of legend. With selective entrance exams and quotas for only the most advanced of mage children, it’s almost impossible to attend. 

When Allorna, a guardian trainee for the royal family, ends up on the doorstep of the citadel on the eve of the final day of a recruitment ceremony, she decides it must be fate.

She was sure she knew the path her life would take before she enrolled. But sometimes life has a way of throwing in magical curveballs and strange friends, just to see if you’ll trip up. 

Oh, and one of those friends is a mage accused of murder, another is a slightly psychotic dragon, the third a healer facing an existential crisis, and the last is a female storm-caller with more hidden secrets than a thief lord.

Do they all belong at the new school they call home?



Book Excerpt:

At the bottom of a pile of books, they discovered Vedaris. Flames licked at the frayed carpeting on the floor near his still form. 

Allorna focused on the flame, urging it to behave and remove itself from the carpet. It jumped from the floor to the palm of her hand, where she carefully doused it. By then, a Library Apprentice and Research Initiate had rounded the corner. The Initiate looked from Vedaris to Allorna, and then to Maride off to the side. “How d-d-dare you!” he sputtered, “This is a place of l-learning, not a child’s playground!”

“Sorry,” Vedaris muttered, sitting up. “It…I don’t know what happened.”

“You don’t know what happened?” said the Initiate scornfully. “Are you not a dragon? Do you think that you can just set fire to anything you please?”

“That isn’t what happened!” protested Vedaris. “I wasn’t lighting!” “Hmph. You are hereby forbidden from re-entering these hallowed halls,” the Initiate sniffed. 

“But it was an accident!” shouted Vedaris.

The Initiate looked ready to breathe fire himself, and with that Allorna and Maride decided it would be best to leave. They each grabbed an arm and dragged Vedaris out of the hallowed halls. As they left the building, Maride leaned close and asked, “What was that about?”

Vedaris, rumpled and disquieted, growled, “None of your business.”

“You made it our business whether you like it or not, Master Saracen,” replied Allorna, using the polite title for his kind as she blocked his path. She felt like using something less diplomatic, but restrained herself. “I felt magic from whatever that was. And we might not be friends, but uncontrolled magic isn’t good for anyone, Vedoris.”

“Vedaris,” he corrected. He looked at them for a long moment, then admitted, “I was reading a book. I was looking for a primer on basic magic. When I sat down, I saw that some snot had left another book open on the table. It was on something called Innate magic. The book said that if I want to use magic, I had to use my feelings as fuel, trusting my instincts.” He sighed deeply. “The next thing I knew, the table blew up in my face and I was under a pile of books.”

Maride whistled. “Wow, that’s tough. Innate magic isn’t something to play around with. It’s not necessarily what you think it’s going to be.”

Vedaris turned to him with a frown. “And what’s that supposed to mean?”

“Just something my uncle mentioned when I was a kid. He once met a waterwalker with Innate magic. You know what his power was? Calling lightning. Try handling that when you live in water. He accidentally killed his entire family one night during a big storm.” 

Vedaris shuddered involuntarily, and hoped the others didn’t notice.



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Book Excerpt: THE BROKEN PATH

The Broken Path by Cami Checketts
ISBN: 9781481810791 (paperback)
ASIN: B00AS47TYS (Kindle ebook)
Publication Date: January 5, 2013 (paperback)
Publisher: CreateSpace (paperback)
Publisher: Birch River Publishing (Kindle ebook)

Injured in a debilitating accident at age six, Ethan Searle believes women eye him with a mixture of pity and disdain. He’s tried love before. He won’t again. He meets his match in a precocious two-year old who loves him despite his disability, even while her mother seems bothered by everything about Ethan. 

Autumn Reader escaped her abusive marriage with her beautiful daughter and a stack of fear. She can’t make the mistake of trusting a man again. Autumn’s daughter becomes enraptured by Ethan. Despite Autumn’s best intentions, she finds herself following her daughter’s example. When her ex-husband reappears, threatening everyone she loves if she won’t submit to his demands, Autumn has to learn to trust or lose her chance at real love.





Blurbs about the book:

“Characters to fall in love with, action to keep you turning pages, and the most adorable little girl ever, The Broken Path is a compelling tale of strength and trust, courage and heart. I truly enjoyed this book.” – Maria Hoagland, author of Family Size 

The Broken Path is sweet romance with heart, suspense, and plenty of story twists that kept me turning pages. Add in a romantic hero with a cane, a struggling single mom, and an adorable little girl and this book has it all!” – Heather Justesen, author of The Switch



Excerpt:

The door swung open. Her heart’s palpitations ceased. Ethan’s attire was simple, Levis and a white V-necked shirt. He’d never looked better.

“Autumn,” his deep voice warmed her more than the summer sun. “You look beautiful.”

She tugged at the hem of her shorts, glad her long legs were tan from playing outside with Brittan.

“You…you…” Autumn stuttered, trying to find the right words to express how he looked “…look beautiful, too,” she said. She barely caught her hand from smacking her head. What kind of an idiot tells a man he looks beautiful?

He chuckled.

Heat crept up her face. “I mean, thank you, um, you look nice, too.”

He opened the door wider, a grin splitting his face. “Thanks. Why don’t you come through this way to the garage?”

“Sure.”

They made their way through the large great room toward the garage entry, his braces rhythmically slapping the wood floor.

“I thought we’d drive to Pocatello,” Ethan said. “Is that all right with you?”

“It’s great.” Anything’s all right, as long as you keep smiling like that.

“I told Nancy I’d come pick you up,” Ethan said, “but she insisted you’d come here.”

“It wasn’t a problem to come here.” Autumn looked up at his profile. It wasn’t a problem at all. She’d go anywhere just to look at him.

“Your mom acted really odd about the whole thing.”

“Odd is a nice way of putting it.” Autumn shook her head, grinning. “She was outright rude to me.”

Ethan laughed again. “I thought she’d be happy you asked me out.”

“Happy? I asked you?” Autumn stopped and stared at him. “What are you talking about? You asked me out.”

“What?” He stopped as well, making a quarter turn with his braces to face her. “Nancy called me and said you were too busy with work so you couldn’t call. She said you wanted to take me to dinner for watching Brit.”

Autumn’s jaw dropped. “Why, that conniving, little…”

Ethan elevated one eyebrow. “I guess you didn’t ask me out?”

“No. I sure didn’t  I can’t believe my mother would…” Autumn’s voice faltered. Ethan’s shoulders drooped; his eyes filled with pain. “Not that I wouldn’t have asked you out, and I do owe you for watching Brit, it’s just I didn’t think you would want—”

“You don’t owe me anything,” Ethan interrupted her, his voice soft. “I’m sorry for the misunderstanding. Let me walk you to the door.”



About the author:

Cami is a part-time author, part-time exercise consultant, part-time housekeeper, full-time wife, and overtime mother of four adorable boys. Sleep and relaxation are fond memories. She’s never been happier.

A portion of the proceeds from Cami’s books will be donated to The Child & Family Support Center. For more information on this worthy cause, please go to www.cachecfsc.org


Connect with Cami:   Blog       |     Twitter      |     Facebook 




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Book Excerpt: HEART OF THE OCEAN

Heart of the Ocean by Heather B. Moore
ASIN: B00AVMIK8Q (Kindle ebook)
Publication date: January 2, 2013
Publisher: Mirror Press, LLC

A dark secret . . . a grieving ghost . . . a handsome stranger . . . What more could Eliza Robinson want?

Except for maybe her life.

In Heather B. Moore’s enthralling 1840’s historical romance, Heart of the Ocean, Eliza Robinson has turned down the very pretentious Mr. Thomas Beesley’s marriage proposal. As a business partner of Eliza’s father, Thomas quickly discredits the family and brings disgrace to the Robinson name.

While her father scrambles to restore his good name in New York City, Eliza flees to the remote Puritan town of Maybrook to stay with her Aunt Maeve. Although relieved to be away from all-things-male and unforgiving gossip columns, odd things start to happen to Eliza, and she is plagued by a ghostly voice. Her aunt’s explanation? That Eliza is being haunted by a woman who died of a broken heart twenty years ago.

After Aunt Maeve is tragically killed, Eliza’s life is put in danger as she tries to uncover the mystery of her aunt’s death. She encounters Jonathan Porter in Maybrook, whose presence in the town seems suspicious, yet she finds herself drawn to him. When she discovers that Jonathan’s dark secrets may be the link between the dead woman who haunts her and her aunt’s murderer, Eliza realizes that Jonathan is the one man she should never trust.

Excerpt:

Eliza and Jon are thrown into jail after the death of Maeve

Eliza stared through the dark iron bars. The cold cellar was damp, with water dripping from the ceiling in a rhythmic fashion. This crude jail is no place for a woman, she imagined her father saying. She pulled the cloak given to her by Ruth around her shoulders. Shivering, she thought of how last night she was snuggled in her warm bed; tonight she was surrounded by concrete walls.

A low curse from the next cell reached her ears. It had to be Jonny. When she arrived at the jail, she’d been led past his barred cell, feeling his eyes watching her. The constable already arrested Jonny before going to Ruth’s place.

Eliza let out a breath, gathering her courage. “Are you all right?” she called.

Silence greeted her.

She tried again. Maybe he hadn’t heard. “Are you ill?”

“I’m in jail,” he said with a scoff. His deep voice seemed to fill the small space with an echo.

Eliza bit her lip. It was her fault he was here. “I’m sorry.”

He spoke again. “Did you kill her?”

She drew a breath in sharply. “No.” How could he accuse her? Because she lived with her aunt? How did he arrive so fast at the cottage—how had he known to come? Suspicion knotted inside her. “Why were you riding by the cottage in such a storm?”

Book Excerpt: EDGE OF THE PAST



Edge of the Past by Jennifer Comeaux
ISBN:  9781481118880 (paperback)
ISBN:  9781621351061 (ebook)
ASIN:  B00AEFAWD6 (Kindle edition)

Emily’s skating career and personal life have never been more golden. She and her partner Chris have won every competition they’ve entered this season, and she’s found the man of her dreams in her coach Sergei. But when one of the biggest competitions of the year takes Emily and Sergei to Russia, Sergei’s past explodes into the present and makes Emily doubt everything in their future.


Excerpts:

Excerpt #1

After I got comfortable in my pajamas, I climbed into bed with my laptop to check email but never made it to my inbox. Thinking back to the conversation at dinner, I pulled up a search engine and typed Sergei Petrov and Elena Gorshkova. With a click on the Images tab, I landed on a page of photos from Sergei and Elena’s competitive days.

I’d looked at the pictures before – Sergei and Elena with their World Junior Championship gold medals, action shots from their winning free skate, and their celebration in the kiss and cry when they received their scores. But now I studied them longer, knowing I’d soon be in the city where all the history had taken place.

Elena and I had the same petite build, perfect for pairs skating, but our other physical features differed greatly. Her raven hair, cut in a bob, contrasted with my long, dark blonde locks. And her eyes were brown, almost black – the total opposite of my blue ones.

Even though Sergei and I had a lifetime together ahead of us, a twinge of something – perhaps jealousy, perhaps curiosity – hit me as I stared at the photos. Elena had given birth to Sergei’s child. His first child. They’d always have that bond, no matter the time and distance between them. Going back to Russia would surely trigger old memories for Sergei, especially since his father was obsessed with past mistakes.

I shut my laptop and burrowed deeper under the blankets. The ghosts must finally be put to rest.

Excerpt #2

In the cold, gray underbelly of the Ice Palace, I flexed my knees and bounced up and down on my skate guards to stay warm. Waiting for our turn to skate was the hardest part. It gave me too much time inside my head.

Sergei stood a few feet from me, staring down the hall. He had a faraway look in his eyes, the one he got on the rare occasions we talked about his days as a skater. The last time he’d stood in this corridor, he was part of Russia’s brightest young pair. He and Elena were already being talked about as future Olympic champions. But then one careless moment had ended it all.

Excerpt #3

Mom’s eyebrows were still raised as she returned to her seat. I stayed standing and tapped Sergei’s arm. “Can we talk for a sec?”

I led him away from the table to a quiet spot near the entrance. A couple of Canadian ice dance coaches passed us, and we swapped brief hellos. I retreated further into the corner and looked up at Sergei.

“What was your dad angry about?”

Sergei rubbed the back of his neck and let out a frustrated sigh. “He wasn’t happy that he left work and now you’re not skating.”

I laughed dryly. “So, now he has something else to hold against me.”

“No, it’s not you.” Sergei touched my cheek. “He doesn’t even know you. It’s just him… and the way he is.”

“When you said he’s not a ray of sunshine, you weren’t joking. He didn’t even shake your hand.”

“He’s never been good at expressing emotion.”

“I’m sure glad you got your mom’s personality.” I tugged on the end of Sergei’s purple tie.

He smiled and wrapped his arms around me, but I could feel the tension in his body. What else could go wrong on this trip? With two days left in St. Petersburg and three more in Moscow, I was almost afraid to ask that question.

Excerpt #4

After dessert of Russian fruit cake, my parents helped Anna clear the table while Sergei and I went over to his room, if one could call it that. We stood between the bed and a tall wooden cabinet, and there was barely enough space for us to move. I thought of my bedroom in my parents’ house – the four-poster bed, my own bathroom, the window seat where I loved to read. Sergei hadn’t enjoyed any such comforts growing up.

“This bed looks even smaller than a twin,” I said. “How did you fit in this?”

He laughed. “When I had my growth spurt at fifteen and hit six feet, it got tough.”

“I can’t imagine not having a door for privacy. There were many times I needed to shut out my mom’s nagging.”

“I guess since I never had a door, I didn’t know what I was missing.”

“Where’d you keep all your stuff?” I asked.

“My clothes were in here.” Sergei tapped the cabinet. “Everything else got crammed under the bed.”

“It’s nice you had a window,” I said, running my hand along the sill. My fingers stopped when I reached a carving – one Russian word etched into the wood.

Elena.

Excerpt #5

Sergei pressed me up into the star lift, and I noticed some of the other skaters idling and watching us. We sped past them, and Sergei set me down, preparing for the closing seconds of the program.

In time with the final piano notes, I edged away from Sergei, and he rushed toward me, trapping me in his arms for the ending pose. I gasped at the passion with which he grabbed me. His eyes held my gaze then slowly drifted down to my mouth, and my body hummed from the fiery energy between us. I leaned into his chest and squeezed my fingers harder around his biceps.

A few of my training mates erupted with applause and whistles, and Sergei jerked backward. He didn’t say anything as he took off to cool down, leaving me alone in the middle of the ice with more than my muscles burning.

Excerpt #6

I went inside the small room and pulled the curtain shut. The ivory satin dress hung on the wall. The first time I’d tried on the gown, we all ended up in a mess of tears – me, Mom, Aunt Debbie… even Aubrey, who was the least sentimental person I knew.

Stripping out of my clothes, I stepped into the dress and peeked around the curtain. “Mom, can you help me?”

She maneuvered around the dress’s long train as her fingers carefully made their way up the long row of delicate buttons. When she finished, Mom held my skirt and we moved out into the shop and in front of the huge mirror on the far wall.

My chest tightened as I stared at my reflection. Louann’s final alterations made the dress fit my petite curves perfectly. I ran my hand across the off-the-shoulder neckline and down the draped bodice to the A-line skirt, sliding my fingertips along the cool, silky material. I hadn’t wanted any frills on the dress, so the gown had a simple yet elegant look with only a touch of beading. It was everything I’d dreamed, just like I’d thought my life with Sergei would be. The tightness in my chest rose to my throat, creating a painful lump.

“It’s so beautiful,” Mom said. “I know I say that every time I see it, but it’s true.”

I nodded and attempted to speak, but no words came. Only tears. I tried to breathe them back with quick gasps, but I couldn’t stop them as they seeped from my eyes.

Excerpt #7

With each mile we traveled, my stomach grew tighter with nerves. My moment in the spotlight was fast approaching, and I prayed I wouldn’t humiliate myself.

We arrived at the rink, and I dressed in the bathroom before gathering with the other skaters in the locker room. I opened the door to peek at the crowd and saw the bleachers filling quickly. I recognized a lot of the faces – parents of club members, adult skaters, kids from the Basic Skills classes – and they were all expecting me to skate like a national champion. An Olympic medalist. But I’d earned those achievements with Chris, not on my own, and my last memory of skating alone had given me nightmares for years.

My palms began to glisten with sweat. Breathe, Em, I commanded, but I couldn’t stop the trembling in my knees.

About the author:

Jennifer Comeaux earned a Master of Accounting from Tulane University and is a Certified Public Accountant in south Louisiana. While working in the corporate world, she sought a creative outlet and decided to put on paper a story that had played in her head for years. That story became Life On the Edge, her first published novel.

When not working or writing, she is an avid follower of the sport of figure skating, travelling to competitions around the country. Those experiences allow her to see a different side of the sport and serve as an inspiration for her writing. Jennifer is blessed with a wonderful family and many friends who have encouraged her to pursue her dream of being a published author.

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