Thursday, February 28, 2019

Book Blast and Giveaway: Piracy by L. P. Maxa

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. L. P. Maxa will be awarding a copy of Royalty + Legacy to 2 randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

No one has more fun than Jett Matthews, and he intends to keep it that way, but he has to convince the girl of his dreams, Devin King, that Jett's brand of fun means forever.


My plan for this upcoming takedown was to wait in the dark until I saw her stumble into the building. And then, I’d follow her stealthily into the classroom. Stalking probably wasn’t the number one way to get a girl, but it was all I had at the moment. I didn’t know her name, which was my bad, so I couldn’t look her up on social media. And I hadn’t seen her around campus that morning, so I hadn’t been able to accidentally “bump” into her.

Thus, the shadows.

I chuckled quietly when I saw her enter the building, instantly dropping her cell phone on the hard laminate flooring. This chick. I shook my head and left my hiding place, falling in step behind her and trailing her into the classroom. Then down the steps and across five people to sit smack-dab in the middle of the row. I had to make people move down so I could get a seat right next to her. And through it all, she never turned and noticed that I was behind her. Not once did she glance over her shoulder. She was completely unaware of her surroundings.

I pulled out my tablet and then watched as she once again set up her desk with more supplies than she’d need for the whole semester. I waited patiently, hiding my smirk behind my hand while she fumbled a pen and sent it sailing two levels down.

“Hi.” I spoke close to her ear, but not so close that it would be considered “rude.”

She jerked away from my lips in surprise and turned to glare at me. “What are you doing here?” I found that I enjoyed the flare of irritation in her eyes as much as I’d enjoyed the blush on her neck the first class we’d shared.

I raised an eyebrow, pointing to my tablet. “I’m in this class.”

Her eyes narrowed even further, and her lips made that straight line for a moment. “Yeah, but why are you here, next to me?”


L.P. lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, daughter, three rescue dogs, four chickens, two dwarf goats, and one adopted cat. The fish died. She is a full-time writer, and part time business owner. L.P. says she loves to read as much as she loves to write, and reading a good book is her reward after writing one. In her spare time, she fosters puppies for a rescue organization based in Austin.

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Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Book Review: People Skills 101 by Kerry C. O'Hallaron

Looking to improve your people skills? Hoping to find some tried and true principles to lessen the conflicts in your life and have better relationships? Eager to find ways to have more friends? Then People Skills 101 by Kerry C. O'Hallaron will be a great resource.

No matter where you go in life, people skills are important. In this engaging and informative book,  O'Hallaron shares his 21 "GoldenRules." Each chapter focuses on a specific "GoldenRule" and there is a neat bonus section at the end.

Broken down into five sections, the tips are simple, while the reward can be great. From something as easy as genuinely smiling to the more complex concept of finding a way not to complain, applying these concepts can improve your life. The author teaches you about what he calls the Conversation Funnel to be considered a brilliant conversationalist. He encourages the reader to practice connecting with others.  O'Hallaron also shares tips when you're communicating in a variety of mediums.

There is much value to be gained in reading People Skills 101. The best part is that these evergreen concepts will never go out of style and will be effective with a variety of people. Pick up a copy today and see what a difference it can make.

Series: New for 2019 (Book 1)
Paperback: 301 pages
Publisher: Movement Publishing (December 17, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1513641174
ISBN-13: 978-1513641171

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Book Spotlight and Giveaway: Believe in Me by Ella Quinn

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Ella Quinn will be awarding a $50 gift card - Amazon or iTunes (winner's choice) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Even the Worthington least likely to wed may find her perfect match

. . .

Marriage has worked out quite nicely for her older sisters, yet Lady Augusta Vivers is certain it would end her studies in languages and geography, and stop her from travelling. But when her mother thwarts her plan to attend the only university in Europe that accepts women—in Italy—she is forced to agree to one London Season. Spending her time at parties proves an empty diversion—until she encounters the well-traveled Lord Phineas Carter-Wood. Still, Europe awaits . . .

Phineas has studied architecture all over the world, yet Augusta is his most intriguing discovery yet. How can he resist a woman who loves maps and far-off lands? But her longing for all things foreign hinders any hope of courtship. When he learns her cousins have offered a trip to Europe, he secretly arranges to join their party. For he is determined to show Augusta that a real union is a thrilling adventure of its own. And when their journey is beset by dangerous obstacles, he gets far more opportunity than he bargained for . . .

Read an Excerpt

He reached out his hand as if to touch her, then dropped it. “Please don’t be. I do know how much planning goes into a journey.” He grinned at her. “Even if you are not making all the preparations, you still have a great deal to do and many decisions to make. I apologize for not thinking of that.”

“Well, thank you, again.” She would miss him when she was gone, but she was glad he understood. “If we do not see much of each other over the next few days, good luck with your hunt for a wife.”

“Your wishes are appreciated.” The corner of his mouth cocked up into a crooked smile. “Not that I blame you for having your ambitions, but your leaving has made my search much harder.”

“Yes, well.” She brushed back a curl from her face. “Perhaps you will find a lady whom you can love.”

Taking her hand, he kissed it, and the warmth of his lips radiated up her arm. Good Lord, she’d forgotten neither of them wore gloves. Augusta became acutely aware of the strength in his lightly calloused hands, and removed her fingers from his grip. “I shall see you this evening.”

“Until then.” He inclined his head before taking his hat and cane from Thorton and strolling out the door.

She stared at Phinn until Thorton closed the door. Perhaps, after this evening, she should eschew entertainments altogether.

“Augusta,” Grace said, “you must decide if you’ll take Zephyr with you. Hector needs to know.”

“I do wish to take her with me.” She was leaving so much behind, but not her horse.

“Very well. I’ll send him a message. Please be ready to go in a half hour.”

“I will.” Phinn had more than surprised her this morning. If he loved her— No! She was not going to think about that. Allowing herself to fall in love with him would only lead to heartache.

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About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Ella Quinn's studies and other jobs have always been on the serious side. Reading historical romances, especially Regencies, were her escape. Eventually her love of historical novels led her to start writing them.

She is married to her wonderful husband of over thirty years. They have a son and two beautiful granddaughters, and a Great Dane. After living in the South Pacific, Central America, North Africa, England and Europe, she and her husband decided to make their dreams come true and are now living on a sailboat. After cruising the Caribbean and North America, she completed a transatlantic crossing from St. Martin to Southern Europe. She's currently living in Germany, happily writing while her husband is back at work, recovering from retirement.

Ella loves when readers connect with her.

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Monday, February 25, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Feb 25

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Not only has Monday come again, so quickly, I can't believe we are at the end of February already. Am I getting old? :)

I've got a busy week coming up, so I took most of the weekend off. We set up the Lil' Princess' new bedroom furniture and I've got contractors quoting out some new floors and painting. Twenty years is enough with the old stuff. I don't know why I ever put carpets in this house. I'll be so happy when they are gone.

In  my reading world, you'll see I finished The Cumberland Bride and posted my review. Right now, I'm reading this book:

The month of March reviews looks like this:

I need to squeeze in these ones soon too:

What is on your list to read this week? 

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Book Review: The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear

Romance, adventure, and faith swirl together to create a story that will captivate you from beginning to end. The Cumberland Bride by Shannon McNear continues the Daughters of the Mayflower series: a series said to be for "lovers of history, adventure, romance, and family legacy."

In Book 5, the family of Kate Gruener is preparing to move to the frontier of western Kentucky. Like her father, who fought during the War for Independence, Kate is looking for adventure. She quickly sets her mind to finding out more about their scout, the elusive Thomas Bledsoe.

Thomas has a job to do--get the settlers across the Wilderness Road safely and keep an ear out for news of Shawnee unrest. Kate's inquisitive nature and her penchant for getting into trouble could put all of them in danger. He's not sure he wants to share his story anyway.

As tensions rise, Kate might have to tap into courage she doesn't know she has to thwart a coming disaster.

The Cumberland Bride is a nice addition to a series that I have enjoyed from the start. The history lover in me appreciates the historical detail each author weaves their story around. The character-driven reader in me admires the complex characters each author creates and brings together during some of history's most memorable times. The Cumberland Bride is set during a challenging and dangerous time in our country's history, where the Native Americans were pushed farther and farther west by the American government, which caused tensions that led to deadly consequences on both sides. In the late 1700s, the author draws these two characters together who couldn't be more different.

McNear's story is one of being lost and found again for Thomas. It is also one where Kate taps into courage she never thought she had. The connection between them isn't immediate, but it grows and propels this story forward as much as the wagons move them along the Wilderness Road.

You can read The Cumberland Bride by itself, but if you want to read about the Lytton family from their landing in America, you should start at the beginning. This amazing family saga continues with The Liberty Bride by MaryLu Tyndalll. Look for my review of that story soon.

Series: Daughters of the Mayflower (Book 5)
Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books; Gld edition (October 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1683226917
ISBN-13: 978-1683226918

I received a copy of this book from the publisher. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Book Spotlight: My Last Baggage Call Aboard Air Force One by Glenn W. Powell

Sergeant Glenn W. Powell’s MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL is the story of a most unlikely young man who leaves his working-class environment of Toledo, Ohio, to become a soldier. Seeking excitement and a way to “make something of himself,” Glenn Powell’s journey exceeds his wildest dreams—a journey that began in basic training in Fort Hood, Texas ends at 1600 Pennsylvania avenue—the most important address in the world. MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL is about so much more than Glenn Powell’s military journey, but about poignant memories of family, friendships, sacrifices, and love—central to his story is Ronda Holloway, the beautiful young woman he falls in love with in Manheim, Germany, and, who joins him on his life journey as wife, soulmate and mother to their two sons. MY LAST BAGGAGE CALL offers readers a glimpse into Sergeant Glenn Powell’s 30-year transformation from the much-beloved boy who seeks more in life…to the man, who discovers it—in adventure, in friendships, and in service to three American presidents. a service he delivered with pride, unquestioned loyalty, distinction and in the end, great admiration.


A Soldier’s Story

Shortly after I turned 18, I enlisted in the army. Around that time, I learned that the young woman I’d been dating was pregnant, so going into the army would be an opportunity to provide for my child. The army sent me to Fort Dix in New Jersey for boot camp training on April 22, 1982. It was the perfect enlistment site for me.

Because of the popular television show, Dallas, I had in mind that I wanted to go to Fort Hood, Texas and meet JR Ewing. Not only did I meet Larry Hagman, the actor who played JR, but I also met the entire cast at one of the big Dallas malls. That was in the 80s when the networks spent money to have cast members show up to greet their fans, and when fans could easily get a photo with the stars. Meeting JR had been on my mental bucket list. Later I learned that “Klinger” from Mash and Danny Thomas were both from Toledo, and so I added them to the list.

In 1983, I re-enlisted and chose Hawaii as my next army stint. There for 18 months, I’m convinced that the Hawaii move helped me look long and hard at myself and my future. In Hawaii, I decided I needed to better myself. I enrolled at the Wahiawa Community School for Adults and got my high school diploma. My mother was so disappointed when I didn’t graduate from high school, so I did it as much for her as for myself.

My long transportation management career began in Wahiawa. I was one of a large number of applicants who applied for a temporary mission of driving for the Sergeant Major for the division. He was the senior enlisted man at the post. I beat out the other candidates for that position. Later, I drove for the one-star general at the post. After that, I returned to my unit and worked as the battalion mail clerk until he left in 1985. While there, I met friends and mentors who would help me decide on my career journey. That same year, I was asked to re-enlist, and First Sergeant Herbert Harris became a lifelong mentor and friend. Sergeant Harris recommended that I choose Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia for my re-enlistment. I remained at Fort Eustis from April 1985 until January 1988.

I became a squad leader, and for the next six months, I managed a squad of truck drivers in and around the base. After that, I was set on transportation becoming my specialty, but my career trajectory changed some when I was appointed to head up NCO Training, where I was responsible for the training of 270 soldiers.

Around this time, I met First Sergeant Fletcher Walker. He was sent in to straighten out our company, and he did just that. He would stand up at the top of the stairs with his hat covering his eyes but looking down at us. Sergeant Walker was a ‘soldier among soldiers,’ an airborne paratrooper, a Vietnam Veteran who had been shot three times. There was no one more surprised when he chose me to run the training.

I knew he had high expectations, and I was determined not to disappoint him. He was the kind of leaders for whom soldiers would fight and die. He was a true hero who taught me how to be a soldier and a man. He shared a lot about life with me. I imitated him in many ways so much that everyone would call me “Baby Walker.” I met his family and it was an honor. He retired as a Command Sergeant Major.

Purchase your copy from:

Amazon |  B& N

Sergeant First Class Glenn W. Powell (Retired) is a native of Toledo, Ohio. He enlisted into the United States Army in 1982 and retired in 2002. During his military career, he served as a heavy vehicle driver, a squad leader, and non-commissioned officer.

In September 1991, SFC Powell joined the George HW Bush White House as a chauffeur, and in 1992, was promoted to transportation coordinator for the white house Press Corps, serving in the Clinton Administration.

In December 1995, he assumed the duties of transportation supervisor for Air Force One.

In January 2001, during his service under President George W. Bush, SFC Powell was transferred to the White House Military Office, Customer Support and Organizational Development where he served as deputy director.

SFC Powell retired with distinction from the Military in 2002. He received numerous awards and decorations throughout his service, including the Legion of Merit Metal, Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the United States Army Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters. He received U.S. Service Ribbons for both domestic and overseas service.

Glenn and Ronda Holloway Powell have been married for 25 years, and have three sons, Darius, Warren, and Glenn, II. They reside in Virginia. For more information, or to contact Glenn Powell regarding availability for speaking opportunities, please email him at

Visit Glenn online at:

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

New Release and Giveaway: The Emotion Thesaurus, 2nd Edition by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

As writers, we all have our favorite writing methods. For instance, some swear by Scrivener, while others write in Word or Google docs. Some prefer to draft longhand, using colorful gel pens and notebooks.

Most of us have a favorite writing book (or ten), too. These books have helped us understand storytelling better, demystifying certain aspects of writing. Well, today I'm taking part in welcoming a new writing guide into the world: The Emotion Thesaurus (Second Edition).

You may have heard of The Emotion Thesaurus before, or even have a copy. The original's lists of body language, thoughts, and visceral sensations for 75 unique emotions made brainstorming character expressions and reactions so much easier. It quickly became a bestseller.

Now, there's a bigger, better second edition. Angela and Becca have added 55 NEW emotions such as Euphoria, Vindicated, and Schadenfreude. (And that's not all that's new, either...the book is almost twice the size as the original.)

Anyway, if you're interested in checking it out, you can read some of the reviews on Goodreads or find information here.

One more thing to tell you about...are you ready for this?


Wish you could attend a free writing retreat, go to a conference, snag a seat at a workshop, or have your professional membership to a writing organization paid for? Of course you do!

Well, at Writers Helping Writers, one lucky winner will get one of the above, up to a $500 US value.

This is the giveaway of a lifetime, so hurry over to enter!

Monday, February 18, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Feb 18

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Happy Monday! I hope you had a great week. It's snowing here. The white stuff started last night. I'm okay if this is the end of the snow, but I fear that's not the case.

This weekend we cleaned out one of our daughter's bedrooms and bought new furniture. Most of what she owned was hand-me-downs. It is time she had her own things.

On the reading front, I'm taking some time to read a book that isn't one of my February review titles.

The Daughters of the Mayflower is such a great series. This book is about a family moving west in the late 1700's. Tensions are high considering the tense relationship between the settlers and the Native Americans. 

Then these three are next.

I'm trying to get back to my first book of the year, which has ended up being more like my first paragraph of the year.

Then I'll probably read the next book in The Daughters of the Mayflower series.

What is on your list this week? Are you staying on track with reviews? I think that's the hardest part about blogging. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Book Review: Always Welcome by Welcome W. Wilson Sr.

Whether you're an entrepreneur, in business, or someone who likes fascinating stories, Always Welcome by Welcome W. Wilson Sr. is sure to please.

Like anyone who has lived more than 90 years, Welcome W. Wilson Sr. has stories to tell. In this lively and engaging memoir, he shares his life, his successes, and his failures with wit, charm, and sincerity. He's more down to earth than you can imagine someone who has developed 8,000 home sites, served in the Armed Forces and in key government positions, dined with celebrities and politicians from both sides of the aisle, and served on the Board of Regents for the University of Houston would be.

A masterful business man and problem solver, Wilson has led a life many of us only dream about. Through what he calls Welcome's "Rules of Order," you can also learn to succeed in business and life by avoiding his mistakes he so willingly shares. Filled with numerous photographs, Always Welcome would be a great addition to your home library, office, or as a book club title. My copy will have a special place in my home office, so that I can refer to his "Rules of Order" regularly.

With Always Welcome, Wilson inspires us to reach new heights in our personal and professional lives. He takes leading by example to a whole new level.

Highly recommended.

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Bright Sky Publishing (September 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1942945507
ISBN-13: 978-1942945505

I received a copy of this book from the author's publicist. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Collums, Author of Passengers

During the Great Irish Famine the Ewing family made their way from their rural cottage to the village of Highland Way. Annie, the oldest daughter was left to care for her mother and younger sister after her father left to find work in Dublin.

A mysterious letter arrives from America forcing Annie, Lily, and Katy into a harrowing journey. The hand written note not only will expose deep secrets, it will also challenge the strength and fortitude of the Ewing women, leading each member into their own soul searching voyage.

Follow this extraordinary passage that begins in Ireland and leads each woman to uncover their own courage and truths in this new world.


What I wanted to be when I grew up was never addressed in my house. My dad was gone a lot as a truck driver trying to scratch out a living for us so my mom was my only companion. I called myself an unaccompanied minor long before that phrase was popular. Because, you see, physically she was in the house, but mentally she was in her own world. Maybe she still had an emotional hangover from The Great Depression that she often dwelled on or it could have been the dark cloud of the Vietnam War that overshadowed any thought of dreams or celebrations in our home. My mom worried for years that my brother would be drafted and then she stayed in a deep depression when he was and then she didn’t want to let him go when he came home alive and well. She was so consumed with bitterness of the past and worry of the future she didn’t make room for living her life much less mine.

So, I made every feeble attempt behind my closed bedroom door to reach for my own stars with my dog, Pete, and every stuffed or plastic creature I owned. Public speaking? No problem. I had spent countless hours practicing my very own interview with Johnny Carson in front of my dresser mirror. Sewing? No problem. I taught myself how to sew by making clothes for my dolls. Writing? Again no problem. Whatever the teachers assigned, I did double what they asked for. My room was my sanctuary. However, nothing my parents did or didn’t do could keep me from putting my best foot forward to get out and on my way.

I think so often how sad for my mom that she spent most of her life looking down and missed out on the journey. That’s what life is. One event after another. I’ve had more than my share of making stupid decisions, as well as experiencing personal triumphs. I’ve been married, had children, grandchildren, widowed and emptied nested. I’ve worked at jobs ranging from cleaning houses to postal work. And it’s been the most colorful, aggravating, heartbreaking, joyous, challenging, earth shaking, blessed life I could’ve ever imagined. And I have never been alone. God always sent the right person at the right time, as long as I was looking up.

My bucket list is long. Publish my book, travel to Ireland, United Kingdom, see penguins and pandas up close and personal, learn how to ride a horse, master a pottery wheel.....and the list goes on and on. I don’t ever want to forget to dream, learn, explore and yes, I still play make believe. Every time I look in the mirror, I still see that little girl from the reflection of this sixty-one year old, young woman.

Ann C. Purvis, chose to publish her first novel under her birth name, Elizabeth Collums; this is her true roots and where she has drawn from many of the experiences she wrote about. She lives in Denham Springs, Louisiana and enjoys DIY projects. She has two daughters, a step daughter, son-in-law, two amazing granddaughters, and her dog Daisy.

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Monday, February 11, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? - Feb 11

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. It's a great post to organize yourself. It's an opportunity to visit and comment, and er... add to that ever growing TBR pile! So welcome in everyone. This meme started with J Kaye's Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date.

Welcome back to Monday. I hope you had a nice week. We are preparing for the next winter storm (because for some reason the media believes 4 to 7 inches of snow requires mass hysteria). This is going to sound like one of these old-timer stories, but we wouldn't even consider cancelling school when I was kid unless a blizzard was coming; and even then, they waited until the last possible moment to run the closings across the TV screen or announce them on the radio. By Tuesday evening, if snowflakes have started, schools will begin announcing closings--even though technology has made it easier to reach people than ever before.

What does my reading world look like? I'm trying not to overload myself with reviews over the next couple of months. I really want to focus on other books.

I finished this one last night.

Excellent book. Welcome W. Wilson Sr. has led an interesting life. He's made a lot of deals in his time, too, which I loved reading about. I can't say I knew much about Houston before reading this one, but I certainly do now.

I tried reading this one on my 2nd generation Kindle, but something happened with the file when it went over. Whole sections of text and many of the graphics were missing. I'm going to need to use the PDF file, so I'll get back to this one.

I'll need to read this one next.

Up for review in March are these ones.

Hopefully, I can read at least one of these in between, but not hopeful with spring market coming.

What is going on in you reading world? Any good books to share?

Book Spotlight: The Military Wife by Laura Trentham

A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s The Military Wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.
In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?


Chapter 1

Present Day

Winters in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, were temperamental. The sunshine and a temperate southerly breeze that started a day could turn into biting, salt-tinged snow flurries by afternoon. But one thing Harper Lee Wilcox could count on was that winter along the Outer Banks was quiet.
The bustle and hum and weekly rotation of tourists that marked the summer months settled into a winter melancholy that Harper enjoyed. Well, perhaps not enjoyed in the traditional sense . . . more like she enjoyed surrendering to the melancholy. In fact, her mother may have accused her of wallowing in it once or twice or a hundred times.
In the winter, she didn’t have to smile and pretend her life was great. Not that it was bad. Lots of people had it worse. Much worse. In fact, parts of her life were fabulous. Almost five, her son was happy and healthy and smart. Her mother’s strength and support were unwavering and had bolstered her through the worst time of her life. Her friends were amazing.
That was the real issue. In the craziness of the summer season, she forgot to be sad. Her husband, Noah, had been gone five years; the same amount of time they’d been married. Soon the years separating them would outnumber the years they’d been together. The thought was sobering and only intensified the need to keep a sacred place in her heart waiting and empty. Her secret memorial.
She parked the sensible sedan Noah had bought her soon after they married under her childhood home. Even though they were inland, the stilts were a common architectural feature up and down the Outer Banks.
Juggling her laptop and purse, Harper pushed open the front door and stacked her things to the side. “I’m home!”
A little body careened down the steps and crashed into her legs. She returned the ferocious hug. Her pregnancy was the only thing that had kept her going those first weeks after she’d opened her front door to the Navy chaplain.
“How was preschool? Did you like the pasta salad I packed for your lunch?”
“It made me toot and everyone laughed, even the girls. Can you pack it for me again tomorrow?”
“Ben! You shouldn’t want to toot.” Laughter ruined the admonishing tone she was going for.
As Harper’s mom said time and again, the kid was a hoot and a half. He might have Harper’s brown wavy hair, but he had Noah’s spirit and mannerisms and humor. Ben approached everything with an optimism Harper had lost or perhaps had never been gifted with from the start. He was a blessing Harper sometimes wondered if she deserved.
“Where’s Yaya?” She ruffled his unruly hair.
Of course, her mom had picked an unconventional name. “Grandmother” was too old-fashioned and pedestrian. Since she’d retired from the library, she had cast off any semblance of normalcy and embraced an inner spirit that was a throwback to 1960s bra burners and Woodstock.
“Upstairs painting.” Ben slipped his hand into Harper’s and tugged her toward the kitchen. Bright red and orange and blue paint smeared the back of his hand and arm like a rainbow. At least, her mom had put him in old clothes. “Yaya gave me my own canvas and let me paint whatever I wanted.”
“And what did you paint?” Harper prayed it wasn’t a nude study, which was the homework assignment from her mom’s community college class.
“I drew Daddy in heaven. I used all the colors.” The matter-of-factness of his tone clawed at her heart.
No child should have to grow up only knowing their father through pictures and stories. Her own father had been absent because of divorce and disinterest. He’d sent his court-ordered child support payments regularly until she turned eighteen but rarely visited or shown any curiosity about her. It had hurt until teenaged resentment scarred over the wound.
Noah would have made a great dad. The best. That he never got the chance piled more regrets and what-ifs onto her winter inspired melancholy.
“I’m sure he would have loved your painting.” Luckily, Ben didn’t notice her choked-up reply.
He went to the cabinet, pulled out white bread and crunchy peanut butter, and proceeded to make two sandwiches. It was their afternoon routine. Someday he would outgrow it. Outgrow her and become a man like his daddy.
She poured him a glass of milk, and they ate their sandwiches, talking about how the rest of his day went—outside of his epic toots. His world was small and safe and she wanted to keep it that way for as long as possible.
Her mom breezed into the kitchen, her still-thick but graying brown hair twisted into a messy bun, a thin paintbrush holding it in place. Slim and attractive, she wore paint-splattered jeans and a long-sleeve T-shirt that read: I make AARP look good. Harper pinched her lips together to stifle a grin.
“How’s your assignment coming along?” Harper asked.
“I’m having a hard time with proportions. It’s been a while, but I’m pretty sure my man’s you-know-what shouldn’t hang down to his kneecaps.”
Harper shot a glance toward Ben, who had moved to the floor of the den to play with LEGOs. As crazy as her mom drove her, she was and would always be Harper’s rock. The irony wasn’t lost on her. As hard as she’d worked to get out of Kitty Hawk and out of her mother’s reach when she was young, she’d never regretted coming home.
“It’s been a while for me, too, but that’s not how I remember them, either.”
“A pity for us both.” Her mother pulled a jar of olives out of the fridge and proceeded to make martinis—shaken, not stirred. She raised her eyebrows, and Harper answered the unspoken question with a nod. Her mom poured and plopped an extra olive in Harper’s. “How was work?”
Harper handled bookkeeping and taxes for a number of local businesses, but a good number closed up shop in the winter. “Routine. Quiet.”
“Exactly like your life.”
Harper sputtered on her first sip. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I hate seeing you mope around all winter.” Her mom poked at the olive in her drink with a toothpick and looked toward Ben, dropping her voice. “He’s been gone five years, sweetheart, and you haven’t gone on so much as a date.”
“That’s not true. I went to lunch with Whit a few weeks ago.”
“He was trying to sell you life insurance. Doesn’t count.”
Harper huffed and covered her discomfort by taking another sip. “What about you? You never date.”
“True, but your father ruined me on relationships. I have trust issues. You and Noah, on the other hand, seemed to get along fine. Or am I wrong?”
“You’re not.” Another sip of the martini grew the tingly warmth in her stomach. Their marriage hadn’t been completely without conflict, but what relationship was? As she looked back on their fights, they seemed juvenile and unimportant. It was easier to remember the good times. And there were so many to choose from.
She touched the empty finger on her left hand. The ring occupied her jewelry box and had for three years. But, occasionally, her finger would ache with phantom pains as if it were missing a vital organ.
“You’re young. Find another good man. Or forget the man, just find something you’re passionate about.”
“I’m happy right where I am.” Harper hammered up her defenses as if preparing for a hurricane.
“Don’t mistake comfort for happiness. You’re comfortable here. Too comfortable. But you’re not happy.”
“God, Mom, why are you Dr. Phil–ing me all of sudden? Are you wanting me and Ben to move out or something?” Her voice sailed high and Ben looked over at them, his eyes wide, clutching his LEGO robot so tightly its head fell off.
“You and Ben are welcome to stay and take care of me in my old age.” Her mom shifted toward the den. “You hear that, honey? I want you to stay forever.”
Ben gave them an eye-crinkling smile that reminded her so much of Noah her insides squirmed, and she killed the rest of her drink. She was so careful not to show how lonely she sometimes felt in front of Ben.
“Harper.” Her mom’s chiding tone reminded her so much of her own childhood, she glanced up instinctively. Her mom took her hand, and her hazel eyes matched the ones that stared back at Harper in the mirror. “You’re marking time in Kitty Hawk. Find something that excites you again. Don’t let Ben—or Noah— be your excuse.”
Harper looked to her son. His chubby fingers fit the small LEGO pieces together turning the robot into a house. She had built her life brick by brick adding pieces and colors, expanding, taking pride, until one horrible day she’d stopped. Maybe her mom was right. Was it time to build something new?


LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Shelf Control - Feb 6

Shelf Control is a weekly celebration of the unread books on our shelves sponsored by Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies. Pick a book you own but haven’t read, write a post about it (suggestions: include what it’s about, why you want to read it, and when you got it), and link up!

Want to join in? Shelf Control posts go up every Wednesday. Here's how to jump on board:

  • Write a blog post about a book that you own that you haven’t read yet.
  • Add your link in the comments!
  • Link back to Bookshelf Fantasies in your own post.
  • Check out other posts, and…
Have fun!

Hard to believe it is Wednesday again. I just finished time blocking my calendar. Usually that's a Sunday night thing, but this weekend was hectic. I'm working to stay on top of reviews, but here's a book that is one of my Kindle freebies.

BLURB: Father Ambrose found a simple, worthwhile path leading a secluded spiritual community in Northern California. He spends his days happily focused on guiding the farming and teaching meditation. Then, someone dumps a body in one of their orchards.

Now, the confusion and violence of the modern world have come crashing through the gates. Father Ambrose wants Sheriff Charlie Cormley to believe the body has nothing to do with them, but it’s not that easy.

He reluctantly takes on the sleuth’s role to find the truth and clear New Life of suspicion. He finds himself moving out into the world in ways he never imagined, and life in his community will never be the same.

DATE BOUGHT: 9/30/18

WHY I BOUGHT IT: I love mysteries and I enjoy amateur sleuths that happen to be in religious orders. Crazy, right? I really enjoyed the Father Dowling Mysteries when they were on TV. This also has the modern world invading the peaceful world of New Life, which I find interesting.

What is a book from your TBR pile? Do you think you'll get to read it soon?

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Upcoming Releases I’m On the Fence About

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.

This week's topic is an interesting one. What could be ten upcoming releases I'm on the fence about? Not sure. My list will probably be a list of as many as I can come up with that have released since January or are expected to release this year.

The Water Cure made Esquire's 25 Most Anticipated Books of 2019 list. The short description is: a dystopic feminist revenge fantasy about three sisters on an isolated island, raised to fear men. Spanning a week, King (the only man they know) disappears, and two men and a boy appear on the island. A psychological cat and mouse game ensues.

After reading the long description and reading inside a bit, I decided this one might be a little too odd for me.

Mostly Dead Things focuses on the grieving Morton family after the patriarch and head of the family taxidermy shop decides to commit suicide. This one also made Esquire's list. I'm beginning to wonder if this is going to be the year of the dead father. With the mother creating lewd art with taxidermied animals, I think I'll need to cross this off my list.

The Night Olivia Fell sounds like an amazing book. I simply don't think I could tolerate the content. It's about a mother who tries to find out what happened to her daughter the night she supposedly fell, winding up brain dead. The pain of the loss is made harder by needing to keep her daughter alive so that the child she didn't know the girl was carrying can survive.

I can't read this one--no matter how cute it sounds--simply because I don't like the premise of Olive and Ethan getting to go to Hawaii together after her sister's entire wedding party gets food poisoning. In The Unhoneymooners, they plan to avoid each other like the plague--since they are sworn enemies--but they end up having to pretend they are newlyweds when Olive lies to her future boss.  

The Invited sounds like it would scare the heck out of me. Two teachers leave suburban life and move to a rural area of Vermont where they tackle the project of building their house of dreams. Seems, however, that the property has a violent past and they conjure up the lives of three generations of Breckenridge women who died amidst suspicion. 

If I'm Being Honest has a premise that simply annoys me. Girl screws up and loses the boy she wants. So she decides to totally change herself. Then she meets up with a boy from her past, who just so happens to like her just the way she is, and she falls in love with him. Maybe she just shouldn't have tried to change herself and save some time.

I'm really not sure what to think about Girls with Sharp Sticks. This is a subversive near future series about students at an all-girl boarding school who discover they are living in a carefully controlled environment and begin to uncover the dark secrets there. Anyone hear any comments about it?

Into the Jungle probably doesn't have much of a chance with me. This is a "grass is always greener on the other side of the hill" type of story. Lily is tired of her boring existence and takes a teaching in Bolivia, which promptly falls through. So, she stays in Bolivia, and falls in love with a guy who forces her to make a decision that could lead to even more danger. 

Every Moment After will be an emotional read. It is about two adult survivors of a school shooting that took place when they were only six. Now, high school graduates, they must cope with the guilt they feel and try to move beyond the shadow of what happened. 

I think that's it. Almost made it to ten. What new releases are you on the fence about?