Friday, September 27, 2013

THE RIPPLE EFFECT ROMANCE NOVELLA SERIES



The Ripple Effect Romance Novella Series 
Enjoy this exciting new series of clean novellas by six critically-acclaimed authors.

"Like a pebble tossed into calm water, a simple act can ripple outward and have a far-reaching effect on those we meet, perhaps setting a life on a different course—one filled with excitement, adventure, and sometimes even love."

Book 1: Home Matters by Julie N. Ford
Book 2: Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin
Book 3: Righting A Wrong by Rachael Anderson
Book 4: Lost and Found by Karey White
Book 5: Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver
Book 6: Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith



Home Matters by Julie N. Ford

According to her mother, Olivia Pembroke was born to be a star. But how is she supposed to be famous when she can't even get a decent acting gig? Her lucky break comes when she lands an audition for a wildly popular home improvement show. Even though she has no design training and has never even held a power tool, she refuses to let that stop her. She's confident that her destiny is finally within reach.

When her affections are torn between her heartthrob co-host and the irritating, yet somehow endearing lead contractor, does she continue to reach for the stars? Or does she design a new happily ever after? One that leads not to the fading lights of fame and fortune, but to a love that will burn forever.



Silver Linings by Kaylee Baldwin

Drew Westfall wants nothing more than to forget what he had to do in the name of "smart" business. Cutting off all ties with his parents—including handing over the entire contents of his trust fund to a charity—he takes off for Bridger, Colorado where his best friend has an extra room for him. It doesn't take long for him to realize that his business degree won’t do him much good in a town as small as Bridger, but he's broke and has nowhere else to go.

Eden Torresi has every reason to wallow. Not only did she lose her mother, but she had to drop out of nursing school and is in a relationship with a guy unwilling to commit. But Eden isn't the wallowing type. Instead, she chooses to spend most of her time taking care of the seniors at Silver Linings Nursing home. When she learns that her boyfriend's new roommate is down on his luck, her caring nature makes her want to reach out to him and offer what help she can. But the more time they spend together, the more complicated things get, especially when the seniors of Silver Linings decide to play matchmaker.



Righting a Wrong by Rachael Anderson

Seven years ago, Cambri Blaine fled her small hometown of Bridger, Colorado after her senior year ended in a fiasco. Only Jace Sutton knew the real reason why—that she was a spineless coward. Now, seven years later, her father's been in an accident and needs help, and Cambr has no choice but to return home. So with trepidation, she takes a leave of absence from the landscape architecture firm where she works and boards a plane, hoping against hope that Jace is no longer around and that the past can stay where it belongs—in the past.

If only life worked that way.

Jace never expected to see Cambri again. After she’d led him on, bruised his heart, and left town without a backward glance, he was forced to pick up the pieces and try not to hate her for it. Eventually, he put it behind him and moved on, creating a life for himself in his beloved hometown. But now that Cambri is back and looking more beautiful and sophisticated than ever, some of those old feelings resurface, and Jake instinctively knows, for the sake of his heart, that he needs to avoid her at all costs.

If only it were that easy.


Lost and Found by Karey White

Lydia was supposed to have an adventurous and exciting summer. Instead she's done nothing more than read and eat takeout. Now it's time to go home, and what does she have to show for it? A big fat nothing. Unless, of course, her trip to the airport somehow turns into something more than just a flight home.

Blake feels like he's been sent on a wild goose chase. While work is piling up back in Denver, he's on the other side of the country, hunting for some mysterious box that his grandfather left him. Well, no more. Nothing inside that box could possibly be more important than the opportunity to make it as the youngest partner at his firm. So he's going home, and that's that. But that's before he discovers his flight has been cancelled.

When these two strangers meet at the airport, they make a split-second decision to search for the box together. Maybe with both of them on the hunt, Lydia can have her adventure and Blake can find the box. And maybe, if they’re lucky, they’ll even find some romance.



Second Chances 101 by Donna K. Weaver

Thirty seven year old Francie Davis, a recent widow and empty nester, gets to attend college at last. She’s sure her luck has changed when she also lands a job on campus that will pay her tuition, as administrative assistant to a history professor. When her handsome new boss yells at her on the first day of work, Francie worries she will never be good enough.

For Professor Alex Diederik, life is going downhill fast. Not only is his bitter ex-wife trying to poison their only daughter against him, but now his one place of solace—his work environment—is being complicated by his attractive new administrative assistant. She drives home his feelings of failure as a husband and father, and Alex wonders if hiring her was the right thing to do.

Francie will have to put aside her hurt and insecurities or risk her dreams, while Alex must look outside himself if he’s to mend the breach with his daughter. And, perhaps, find someone who can help heal his pain.


Immersed in Love by Jennifer Griffith

Lisette Pannebaker speaks five languages and has a brilliant business plan—personal language immersion. Clients can hire her to shadow them and speak all day in any language they need to learn for business or travel—whatever.

But there’s a major hitch: she’s far too pretty. Clients with less than honorable intentions sign up just have Lisette at their side. Solution? A make-under. Way under.It works like a charm. None of her male clients show her the least bit of interest.

Until… Erik.

Erik Gunnarsson is charming, kind, and smart—everything she’s ever looked for. Even though he seems to have a secret and she swore she'd never date a client, Lisette is tempted to shed her disguise—even if it means jeopardizing her career.



Giveaway Details
$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 10/31/13

Bloggers who put up a spotlight post about these books on their blog can enter to win an additional $25 gift card or paypal cash.  See details in the Rafflecopter.

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the authors. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


GRAND FINALE!!! Cassie's Cowboy Crave by Kimberly Krey




Cassie's Cowboy Crave (Sweet Montana Bride, #1)Cassie's Cowboy Crave
Sweet Montana Bride Series
by Kimberly Krey
Published July 12, 2013

Twenty-four-year-old Cassie Lovell has a great job, good friends, and an apartment with a killer view. That is, until life is turned upside down. Without the chance to say goodbye, Cassie is forced into a witness protection program on Emerson Ranch. Just when she fears life is doomed, Cassie meets Shane Emerson, the stunningly handsome cowboy who’ll be posing as her newlywed groom. 

Shane Emerson is determined not to fall for the woman he’s agreed to harbor. Especially since the whole thing was his family’s way of trying to get him hitched. So why is it when he takes Cassie into his home, Shane wants nothing more than to turn their make-believe marriage into more than just a sham? 

In a moment of weakness, Shane steals a kiss. 
In return, Cassie steals his heart. 
Yet before they confess their undying love, 
a hidden danger threatens to tear them apart.

*Although this novel is considered clean romance, it does contain passionate kissing and a few mild curse words.


The Kissin' Tour
The delights of Romantic Tension!

Sept. 16 – Launch
17 – TheReading Diaries - Review
-          After learning about Cassie’s story I wanted to adopt her as my own sister and give her the life she always wanted but never had.
recipe image-          Pieces of Whimsy - Excerpt and Recipe


    Chef John's Easy Apple Pie

        “He always said my pies put him under a spell, and I’m looking forward to the affects of it already.”

      
Cassie gulped down the lump forming in her throat. She couldn’t remember disliking a person so much in all her life.

18 – TheWonderings of One Person - Review
 Even amid the desire, Shane’s main focus was on getting to know her heart because he intended this to be forever. That melted my heart more than any steamy kiss they shared.
19 – I Am a Reader, Not a Writer  - Kissing Quiz?

Are You A Good Kisser?
Go ahead... take the QUIZ!!!  :-D

20 – Mommasez… - Initial Sparks I, A Teaser
I got it,” Shane offered, coming up from behind. He was quick to move, and none too subtle as he nudged up against her, reaching high overhead to open the cupboard. "

-          Mel’s Shelves - Review
What a fun, clean read! 
I felt like I could relate to his family which is why I enjoyed them so much and look forward to learning more about them in future books!
21 – BookwormLisa - Review
I was pulled into the book from the beginning.  There are kissing scenes, but the book doesn't go farther than the kiss.  This is the kind of romance book that I really enjoy. Sweet with a bit of spice that doesn't make me blush!

22 – A Tiffyfit’s Reading Corner - Excerpt
Though he was certain her cup of cocoa had been as cool as his, all he could taste was the heat.  
-          Sun Mountain Reviews - Frozen Hot Chocolate



23 – GettingYour Read On - Favorite Kissing Scenes
 Today Kimberly and I are going to dish some of our top, favorite kissing moments from movies, TV and books...
"One of my favorite Movie Kisses would have to be from A Walk In The Clouds..."
Review 
Cassie's Cowboy Crave was a fantastic diversion.  I loved it....  A perfect way to spend a few hours by the pool while your kids swim.  :)  (yes, that's exactly how it went for me)
-          Christy’s Cozy Corner - Initial Sparks Excerpt
“A kiss goodbye?” The laughing stopped, and he could swear Cassie’s gaze had landed solidly on his mouth. Shane moistened his lips, suddenly hungry for a taste of hers...  He had to get out of there. And fast.
24 – Tressa’sWishful Endings 

Top Ten Things That Make a Great Romance Novel
I want to get a good grip on the attraction right away. Even if there’s a bit of a love-hate thing going on, I like knowing there’s something brewing, an undeniable attraction no matter how maddening the opposite is.
- The Wonderings of One Person - Inteview!
 It was actually Shane who came to me first, and I loved his story: Two older brothers who’d met their wives through this witness protection thing – I loved the expectations that came along with it, and knew I needed to write his story.
I also loved the setting on the ranch. The horses and hard labor, the group meals and gatherings, the camaraderie and the way Shane's family adopts everyone who works there or marries into the family. 
I loved the times when Cassie and Shane went off on walks, rides, or on a picnic. Just the simple things they did to develop their friendship.
26     - What’s Beyond Forks?
This was an addictive little story. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning reading this book. 
I just couldn't put it down.
Sept. 27-30  Grand Finale


Writing Romance That’s Clean Without Losing the Steam!


Kimberly Krey


I'm a writer of contemporary clean romance, a lover of home, family, & friends, & the ultimate hater of laundry.

A few of my favorite things: Diet Coke, Cafe Rio, and novels by Marcia Lynn McClure.

I do not go anywhere without: SoftLips Chapstick and Altoids Smalls. 


Giveaway:

$100 Amazon Gift Card + Signed Paperback + Recipes!  (Int'l.)
Sept 16 - Oct 11

See the rafflecopter for restrictions. Must be 18 to enter and able to receive winnings, etc.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

COVER REVEAL: Goddess Tithe by Anne Elisabeth Stengl


Title: Goddess Tithe
Author: Anne Elisabeth Stengl
Series: Tales of Goldstone Wood
Expected Release Date: November 12, 2013
Publisher: Rooglewood Press
Page Count: 130 pages

The Vengeful Goddess Demands Her Tithe

When a stowaway is discovered aboard the merchant ship Kulap Kanya, Munny, a cabin boy on his first voyage, knows what must be done. All stowaways are sacrificed to Risafeth, the evil goddess of the sea. Such is her right, and the Kulap Kanya's only hope to return safely home.

Yet, to the horror of his crew, Captain Sunan vows to protect the stowaway, a foreigner in clown's garb. A curse falls upon the ship and all who sail with her, for Risafeth will stop at nothing to claim her tithe.

Will Munny find the courage to trust his captain and to protect the strange clown who has become his friend?


You can learn more about Goddess Tithewhich novel it's connected to and read Chapter 1, here: 


About the Cover Design

I had the fun of designing this cover—finding reference photos, inventing the composition, applying the text, etc.—but the actual artistic work was done by talented cover artist Phatpuppy (www.phatpuppyart.com), whose work I have admired for many years. It was such a thrill for me to contact and commission this artist to create a look for Goddess Tithe that is reminiscent of the original novels but has a style and drama all its own.

The boy on the front was quite a find. I hunted high and low for an image of a boy the right age, the right look, with the right expression on his face. Phatpuppy and I worked with a different model through most of the cover development stage. But then I happened upon this image, and both she and I were delighted with his blend of youth, stubbornness, and strength of character! It wasn’t difficult to switch the original boy for this young man. He simply is Munny, and this cover is a perfect window into the world of my story. You can’t see it here, but the wrap-around back cover for the print copy contains some of the prettiest work . . . including quite a scary sea monster! Possibly my favorite detail is the inclusion of the ghostly white flowers framing the outer edge. These are an important symbol in the story itself, and when Phatpuppy sent me the first mock-up cover with these included, I nearly jumped out of my skin with excitement!


Anne Elisabeth Stengl makes her home in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband, Rohan, a kindle of kitties, and one long-suffering dog. When she’s not writing, she enjoys Shakespeare, opera, and tea, and practices piano, painting, and pastry baking. She studied illustration at Grace College and English literature at Campbell University. She is the author of the Tales of Goldstone Wood, including Heartless, Veiled Rose, Moonblood, Starflower, and Dragonwitch. Heartless and Veiled Rose have each been honored with a Christy Award, and Starflower was voted winner of the 2013 Clive Staples Award.


Giveaway:

Anne Elisabeth is offering two proof copies of Goddess Tithe as prizes! (U.S. and Canada only) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FIRST Wild Card Tour: The Machine by Bill Myers

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

B&H Kids (September 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Rick Roberson for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Bill Myers is an accomplished writer and film director whose work has won more than sixty national and international awards including the C. S. Lewis Honor Award. Among his best-selling
releases for kids are The Incredible Worlds of Wally McDoogle and The Forbidden Door. He has sold more than eight million books and videos and lives with two cats, two kids, one dog, and one
wife near Hollywood, California.

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

For ages 10 to 14, Truth Seekers is a fast-paced, thoughtful, and funny new series using a 21st century approach to sharing ancient Bible truths.

In book one, The Machine, twin siblings Jake and Jennifer have just lost their mother and are not thrilled about moving to Israel to stay with their seldom seen archaeologist dad. They don't yet understand how "all things work together for good to those who love God." But they will when a machine their father invented points them to the Truth.


Product Details:
List Price: $10.99
Age Range: 10 - 14 years
Series: Truth Seekers
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: B&H Kids (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1433690802
ISBN-13: 978-1433690808

REVIEW

An entertaining youth novel with strong religious overtones, The Machine follows the adventures of Jennifer and Jake Mackenzie's adventures with their father and his archaeological project.  Jennifer is a neat person with strong study habits who doesn't always get along with her sloppy, social brother.  But when they go to Israel to be with their father after their mother's death they find themselves involved with a project that involves crossing dimensions and holograms as well as theft, cute boys, and trying to break someone out of jail. Christian beliefs about God and Jesus Christ are scattered throughout the book as Jennifer learns to face evil as well as her resentment toward her father. A nice read for children who enjoy a fun mix of religious beliefs and science fiction. The book was highly entertaining and a lot funnier than I expected. Maybe it was just the mood I was in, but I found it very humorous. Recommended.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

It was like a dream, but not really. I mean it was a dream but there were parts that seemed so real—besides the parts where Mom had actually died in real life. Does that make sense? I get those every once in a while, dreams that are more real than real, ever since I was a kid.



Anyway, in the dream Mom was driving our SUV up the steep, winding road to our home in Malibu Canyon.



Jake and I were in the back, sitting in our clearly designated seating areas . . .



Jake in his WARNING: Biological Hazard Zone, complete with empty Cheetos bags, crumpled McDonald wrappers (which had last seen action months ago), his wadded up T-shirt and crusty socks (which had last seen a washer longer than that), and don’t even get me started on the last time he shampooed his hair.



I, on the other hand, sat in the WELCOME: This is How Normal People Live Zone, complete with breathable air and a place to sit without catching some deadly disease. (Jake accuses me of being a Neat Freak. Maybe, but it’s better than being a toxic waste site.)



And where was our dear father in all of this? To be honest, he seldom shows up in my dreams—just like he seldom shows up in our real lives. Oh, he says he loves us and all, but what’s the saying? Actions are louder than words. Anyway, I’ll get to him a little later.



It was the same dream I’d had a hundred times before . . .



I was busy doing homework when I glanced up to see a monster truck coming around the corner in our lane.



“Mom!” I shouted. “Look out!”



“What’s that?” She reached over to turn down the radio—one of her silly Country-Western songs about some girl breaking some guy’s heart.



“Up ahead! Look out!”



But she didn’t look out. And, just like all the other times, I saw the truck heading towards us, blasting its horn. I’m guessing his brakes had failed by the way he was scraping along the mountainside to slow himself. A good idea, except the mountainside was on our side!



Mom had nowhere to go. She swerved to the outer lane then tried to turn back, but she’d run out of road. We crashed through the guardrail and sailed out over the can- yon floor, which was a good two hundred feet below. There was no sound. I could see Mom screaming but heard only silence—except for that Country-Western singer going on about his broken heart.



I spun to Jake but he didn’t even glance up. He was too busy playing his stupid computer game. Then, just when the singer reached the line, Why you stompin’ on my achin’ heart with your high heel boots, we hit the water with a huge splash.



And this is where things get interesting . . .

In the real world, on the day Mom died, there was no water at the bottom of the canyon. It was September and the stream had dried up. And while we’re doing a reality check, Jake and I weren’t even in the car that day. Jake had been at the beach being Mr. Cool with a bunch of girls, and I was at home doing my algebra. (I know I’m only seventh grade, but besides being a neat freak, I’m kind of a workaholic.)



But in the dream there was plenty of water and the SUV kept sinking deeper and deeper with all three of us inside. Well, actually four, if you count the Country- Western singer who was now sitting in the front passenger seat, strumming his guitar!



Water poured in and quickly rose.  Mom tried opening her door, but it wouldn’t budge. She hit it with her shoulder over and over again, but the pressure of the water outside was too much. It began swirling around our waists and rising to our chests.



“Jenny,” Mom shouted, “roll down your window!”  “It’ll flood us worse!” I yelled.



“It’s the only way. Roll down your window and swim out!”



“But—”



“Hurry!”



I threw a look to Jake who had conveniently disappeared. (Even in my dreams, he’s a slacker.)

“Hurry!”



I rolled down the window. More water roared in, pounding against my chest and face. I had to turn my head just to breathe. Then I grabbed the sides of the open window with my hands, turned my head away for another quick breath, and pulled myself out into the water.



I kicked and swam until I grabbed the SUV and pulled myself over to Mom’s door. By now the car was completely filled. Our faces were inches apart, separated only by her window.  I yanked at the door handle.  It didn’t budge. I tried again. Nothing. My lungs started aching for air, but I kept pulling and tugging as Mom kept pushing and banging.



Still, nothing.



My heart pounded in my ears. My lungs felt like they were on fire. The outside edges of my vision started going white. Mom pounded on the glass. I joined in and hit the window with my fists.  When that didn’t work, I tucked in my feet, raised my legs and kicked it. Still nothing. My lungs were screaming for air. My vision grew whiter. I had to get a breath. I pointed to the surface and shouted, “I’ll be back!”



She nodded and I pushed off, my lungs ready to explode. Sparkly lights danced through my head. I was losing consciousness, I was going to pass out, I was—



Then I broke through the surface, coughing and gasping. Cool air soothed my lungs as I gulped in two, three, maybe four breaths. I forced my head to clear, then took one more breath and ducked back down into the water.



It was dark and murky but I could follow the bubbles. The SUV had settled to the bottom of the river. When I reached the roof, I pulled myself over to Mom’s side. She wasn’t moving.



“MOM!”



I yanked at the door. I slammed it. I kicked it. I had to get her out. The door gave, ever so slightly. I pulled harder. It moved some more, then it opened with a groaning CREAK.



I grabbed Mom’s arm and pulled, but she was stuck. I spotted her seat belt and reached down to unbuckle it. My lungs were crying out for air again as I pulled her from the car. But we’d barely started before we were jerked to a stop. I  turned  and  saw  that  something  like  a  shadow  had grabbed  her  other  arm.  At first I thought it was the Country-Western singer.  I pulled but it held her tight.  It was like a tug of war game, me on one arm, the shadow man on the other. And the harder I pulled—this was even weirder—but  the  harder  I  pulled,  the  more  he  started turning into this shadowy creature that kept growing bigger and bigger with huge, bat-like wings.



This is a dream, I kept telling myself, this is only a dream!



But my lungs were on fire. My vision was going all white again. This time I would not leave. I’d stay here and die with her if I had to, but I would not leave.



The pounding in my ears grew louder, filling my head . . . along with the song. That’s right, the singer or shadow or whatever it was, had begun singing again. Maybe it had never stopped:



I’ll never let you go . . . you will always be mine . . . always be mine . . . always be mine.



Well, Mr. Shadow could guess again. Dream or no dream, he could not have her.



Always be mine . . . always be mine . . .



My vision was totally white now. My mind shutting down. I could no longer feel my hands or my legs. I knew I was dying, but I would not let go. I loved her too much, I would never let go. The shadow thing may have won, but—



And then I heard a shout. “Augh!”



It sounded like Jake. But that was impossible. What would Jake be doing down here? I heard him again, even louder.



“AUGH!”

Monday, September 23, 2013

KINDLE FIRE GIVEAWAY Fall 2013

fall kindle fire 
  This is a joint AUTHOR & BLOGGER GIVEAWAY EVENT! 

 Bloggers & Authors have joined together and each chipped in a little money towards a Kindle Fire HD 7".
The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HD (US Only)

 
Or $199 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)


Or $199 in Paypal Cash (International)

 
Fall Sponsoring Authors & Bloggers
  1. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer
  2. Feed Your Reader
  3. Author Annette K. Larsen
  4. Phantasmic Reads
  5. Author Bella Street
  6. Author Bonnie Blythe
  7. Author Stacy Claflin
  8. MyLadyWeb: Women's History, Women Authors
  9. Book Mama Blog
  10. Word to Dreams
  11. Candace's Book Blog
  12. Once Upon a YA Book
  13. Author Miriam Louise
  14. Author Mary Ting
  15. Author Camelia Miron Skiba
  16. Books4Tomorrow
  17. Author Theresa McClinton
  18. Brooke Blogs
  19. Author Pauline Creeden
  20. Author MK McClintock
  21. Author Kathryn Chastain Treat
  22. Books Unhinged Book Blog
  23. Author Kelly Cozy
  24. Meredith & Jennifer's Musings
  25. These Are But Shadows
  26. My Devotional Thoughts
  27. Author Ally Shields
  28. Dark Motive's Books and More
  29. Nessarox
  30. Fae Books
  31. Author Jennie Sherwin
  32. The Real Bookshelves of Room 918
  33. Auggie Talk
  34. No BS Book Reviews
  35. BookLover Sue
  36. Gin's Book Notes
  37. Bookhounds
  38. Buku-Buku Didi
  39. Author Shelli Profitt Howells
  40. My Nook, Books and More
  41. The Late Bloomer's Book Blog
  42. Clarice's Book Nook
  43. MichaelSciFan
  44. Magical Manuscripts
  45. Author Talia Jager
  46. Every Free Chance Book Reviews
  47. Jessabella Reads
  48. Author Melissa Pearl
  49. Author Elizabeth Isaacs
  50. Bookitty Blog
  51. Author Helen Smith
  52. The (Mis)Adventures of a Twenty-Something Year Old Girl
  53. Christine's Blog
  54. Write Away Bliss
  55. Another World of Books
  56. The Reporter and The Girl MINUS The Super Man!
  57. Katie's Clean Book Collection
  58. Author Marcia Lynn McClure
  59. Author Shannon Guymon
  60. Ripple Effect Romance Series
Sign up to Sponsor the NOVEMBER Giveaway http://www.iamareader.com/2013/09/november-kindle-fire-giveaway-sign-ups.html  

Giveaway Details
1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HD (US Only), $199 Amazon Gift Card or $199 in Paypal Cash (International). There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire.
Ends 10/31/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BLOG TOUR: Marriage 101 for Men by Sherri Mills

marriage_101_for_men_blog header


17886131
ABOUT THE BOOK

Get out of the doghouse and back into the bedroom simply by swapping the TV remote for the toilet brush! Whether you’ve been married for three months or thirty years, failing to help around the house remains a major cause of discord. Following this book’s principles, a husband learns to decrease disputes and increase intimacy by:
  • owning his share of household work
  • listening to his wife’s needs and communicating his own
  • spending the time on chores now to make more time for love later.
Using Marriage 101 for Men as a guide, you’ll be able to understand, alleviate, and ultimately eliminate the symptoms of stress in your relationship and be happier and more satisfied with all aspects of your marriage.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Sherri Mills has been a hairdresser for over 45 years. She has had her own salon long enough to see life happen before her very eyes. She has listened to real-life problems and followed real-life outcomes—-successes and failures—and through several generations, longer and more extensively than marriage counselors can.

In her practice she has seen the pain from too many divorces that didn’t have to happen. She has been obsessed with trying to save as many marriages as she can.

Sherri’s first book, I Almost Divorced my Husband but I Went on Strike Instead, was written to women, with detailed instructions on how to deal with the double-duty double standard of householder work and how to have more appreciation for their own husbands.

Men wanted instructions of their own, so Sherri outlined in this book real solutions to issues that sabotage marital accord. The book is written in such a manner as to make sense to the male partner in the marriage.

REVIEW

I am not the designated demographic for this book. I am not male and I am not married.  However, as a woman, I can definitely appreciate the things that Mills has to say about women and their needs. As a hairdresser, Mills has spent decades listening to men and women talk about their marriages and one of the things that she has observed is that many marriages fail because of the uneven distribution of household responsibilities.  This also was the case in her own marriage.  She briefly describes what she did to address the problem (going on strike--which is discussed more thoroughly in her first book, I Almost Divorced my Husband but I Went on Strike Instead) and the incredible difference that her husband's involvement in household duties made in their marriage.

The book goes on to discuss specific examples of people whose marriages broke up because of the anger and resentment created by the wife's trying to 'do it all' by herself.  Lack of communication and understanding seems to be at the heart of most of the problems mentioned.  The author explains that many women aren't interested in intimacy because they are simply overwhelmed and exhausted from trying to manage the household by themselves.  She points out that when husbands step up and take on some of the responsibilities the results can be wonderful for both spouses.  With lots of specific tips and brief explanations the book can be read quickly. Also the appendixes provide additional helps including: a message to women who don't want to give up control but want their husbands to contribute, a fair marriage contract like the one she used with her own husband, and a list of household chores that can be used to come to an agreement.  A wonderful resource for both married and single men and women who want to make their relationships the best they can be.

Friday, September 20, 2013

FIRST WILD CARD TOUR: Beyond These Hills by Sandra Robbins

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2013)

***Special thanks to Ginger Chen for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

In the romantic conclusion to the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, Sandra Robbins tells a story of love and loss. The government is purchasing property to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Laurel Jackson fears she’ll have to say goodbye to the only home she’s ever known. Can she find the strength to leave?

Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

In the romantic conclusion to the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, Sandra Robbins tells a story of love and loss. The government is purchasing property to establish the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and Laurel Jackson fears she’ll have to say goodbye to the only home she’s ever known. Can she find the strength to leave?



Product Details:
List Price: $13.99
Series: Smoky Mountain Dreams (Book 3)
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers (September 1, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736948880
ISBN-13: 978-0736948883

REVIEW

Beyond These Hills is a tender love story involving change and loss and coming to grips with life's challenges. As Laurel faces the loss of her beloved home she meets Andrew who is struggling to find his place in the world.  Andrew's father has big plans for him, but he doesn't think he wants to be a politician and marry the girl his father has picked out for him, but Laurel's world is so different from his.  Can the two find a way to be together? With God's help anything is possible.

I enjoyed the characters and their very human struggles with nature, government, and their own hopes and dreams. The writing is smooth and beautiful. And the setting made me wish I could be there to see the beautiful scenery.  The author also does a nice job of portraying the time period.  All in all, a book I can easily recommend.


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

Cades Cove, Tennessee

June, 1935

  The needle on the pickup truck’s speedometer eased to thirty miles an hour. Laurel Jackson bit back a smile and glanced at her father. With his right hand on the steering wheel and his left elbow hanging out the open window, he reminded her of a little boy absorbed in the wonder of a new toy.

The wind ruffled his dark, silver-streaked hair, and a smile pulled at the corner of his mouth as the truck bounced along. His eyes held a faraway look that told her he was enjoying every minute of the drive along the new road that twisted through Cades Cove.

If truth be told, though, the truck with its dented fenders wasn’t all that new. He’d bought it a few months ago from Warren Hubbard, who’d cleaned out a few ditches in Cades Cove trying to bring the little Ford to a stop. Rumor had it he kept yelling Whoa! instead of pressing the brake. The good-natured ribbing of his neighbors had finally convinced Mr. Hubbard that he had no business behind the wheel of a truck.

Laurel’s father didn’t have that problem. He took to driving like their old hound dog Buster took to trailing a raccoon. Neither gave up until they’d finished what they’d started. Mama often said she didn’t know which one’s stubborn ways vexed her more—Poppa’s or Buster’s. Of course her eyes always twinkled when she said it.

The truck was another matter entirely. Mama saw no earthly reason why they needed that contraption on their farm when they had a perfectly good wagon and buggy. To her, it was another reminder of how life in Cades Cove was changing. Laurel could imagine what her mother would say if she could see Poppa now as the speed-
ometer inched up to thirty-five. Land’s sakes, Matthew. If you don’t keep both hands on the wheel, you’re gonna end up killing us all.

But Mama wasn’t with them today to tell Poppa they weren’t in a race, and he was taking advantage of her absence to test the limits of the truck. At this rate they’d make it to Gatlinburg earlier than expected. When she was a little girl, the ride in their wagon over to the mountain village that had become a favorite of tourists had seemed to take forever. Now, it took them less than half the time to get there.

She glanced at her father again and arched an eyebrow. “You’d better be glad Mama stayed home.”

Her father chuckled. “Do you think she’d say I was driving too fast?”

Laurel tilted her head to one side and tried to narrow her eyes into a thoughtful pose. “I’m sure she wouldn’t hesitate to let you know exactly how she felt.”

A big smile creased her father’s face, and he nodded. “You’re right about that. Your mother may run a successful business from a valley in the middle of the Smoky Mountains, but she’d just as soon pass up all the modern conveniences the money she makes could provide her. Sometimes I think she’d be happier if we were still living in that one-room cabin we had when we first married.”

Laurel laughed and nodded. “I know. But I imagine she’ll be just as happy today to have us out of the way. She can unload her latest pottery from the kiln and get the lodge cleaned and ready for the tourists we have coming Monday.”

Her father’s right hand loosened on the steering wheel, and his left one pulled the brim of his hat lower on his forehead. “It looks like business is going to be good this year. We already have reservations for most of the summer, and our guests sure do like to take home some of her pieces from Mountain Laurel Pottery.”

Laurel frowned. There would be guests this summer, but what about next year and the year after that? A hot breeze blew through the open window, and she pulled a handkerchief from her pocket. She mopped at the perspiration on her forehead before she swiveled in her seat to face her father. “Having the lodge and the pottery business is kind of like a mixed blessing, isn’t it?”

He frowned but didn’t take his eyes off the road. “How do you mean?”

Laurel’s gaze swept over the mountains that ringed the valley where she’d lived all her life. Her love for the mist-covered hills in the distance swelled up in her, and she swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. “Well, I was just thinking that we get paid well by the folks who stay at our lodge while they fish and hike the mountain trails, and Mama makes a lot of money selling them her pottery. But is the money worth what we’ve lost?” She clasped her hands in her lap. “I miss the quiet life we had in the Cove when I was a little girl.”

Her father’s forehead wrinkled. “So do I, darling, but you’re all grown up now, and those days are long gone. Change has been happening for a long time, but our way of life officially ended twelve years ago with the plan for the Smokies to become a national park. Now most of the mountain land’s been bought up by the government, and there’s a park superintendent in place over at Gatlinburg. I guess we have to accept the fact that the park is a reality.”

A tremor ran through Laurel’s body. She clutched her fists tighter until her fingernails cut into her palms. “No matter what we’re doing or talking about, it always comes back to one question, doesn’t it?”

Her father glanced at her. “What’s that?”

“How long can we keep the government from taking our land?”

“Well, they don’t have it yet.” The lines in her father’s face deepened, and the muscle in his jaw twitched. “At the moment, all the land that borders our farm has been bought and is part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There aren’t many of us holding on in the Cove, but we’re not giving up without a fight. I have a meeting with our lawyer in Gatlinburg today to see how our court case is going. You can get your mama’s pottery delivered to Mr. Bryan’s store, can’t you?”

 “I didn’t know you had a meeting with the lawyer. Don’t worry about the pottery. Willie and I can take care of that.”

A smile cracked her father’s moments-ago stony features at the mention of her younger brother, who was riding in the truck’s bed. “You make sure that boy helps you. He has a habit of disappearing every time I have a job for him. I sure wish he’d grow up and start taking on some responsibility around the farm.”

Laurel laughed. “Willie’s only twelve, Poppa. When he’s as old as Charlie or me, he’ll settle down.”

Her father shook his head. “I don’t know about that. He’s always gonna be your mother’s baby.”

Before she could respond, the truck hit a bump in the road and a yell from behind pierced her ears. Laughing, she turned and looked through the back window. Willie’s face stared back at her. “Do it again, Pa,” he yelled. “That was fun.”

Her father frowned, grabbed the steering wheel with both hands, and leaned over to call out the window. “Be still, Willie, before you fall out and land on your head.”

Willie stood up, grabbed the side of the open window, and leaned around the truck door to peer into the cab. “Won’t this thing go any faster?”

Her father’s foot eased up, and he frowned. “We’re going fast enough. Sit down, Willie.”

The wind whipped Willie’s dark hair in his eyes. He was grinning. “Jacob’s pa has a truck that’ll go fifty on a smooth stretch,” he yelled. “See what ours will do.”

The veins in her father’s neck stood out, and the speedometer needle dropped to twenty. “If you don’t sit down and stay put, I’m gonna stop and make you sit up here between your sister and me.”

“I’m just saying you ought to open this thing up and see what she’ll do.”

The muscle in her father’s jaw twitched again, and Laurel put her hand over her mouth to keep from laughing out loud. How many times had she seen her no-nonsense father and her fun-loving brother locked in a battle of wills? Her father took a deep breath and shook his head.

“Willie, for the last time…”

Willie leaned closer to the window, glanced at Laurel, and winked. “Okay. I’ll sit, but I still think we could go a little faster. Jacob’s gonna get to Gatlinburg way before we do.”

The truck slowed to a crawl. “Willie…”

A big grin covered Willie’s mouth. “Okay, okay. I’m just trying to help. I know Mr. Bryan is waitin’ for these crates of Mama’s pottery. I’d hate to get there after he’d closed the store.”

“He’s not going to close the store. Now for the last time, do as I say.”

“Okay, okay. I’m sittin’.”

Willie pushed away from the window and slid down into the bed of the truck. Her father straightened in the seat and shook his head. “I don’t know what I’m going to do with that boy. He’s gonna put me in my grave before I’m ready.”

Laurel laughed, leaned over, and kissed her father’s cheek. “How many times have I heard you say that? I think you love sparring with him. He reminds you of Mama.”

For the first time today, a deep laugh rumbled in her father’s throat. “That it does. That woman has kept me on my toes for twenty years now.” He glanced over his shoulder through the back glass toward Willie, who now sat hunkered down in the bed of the truck. “But I doubt if I’ll make it with that boy. He tests my patience every day.”

Laurel smiled as she reached up and retied the bow at the end of the long braid that hung over her shoulder and down the front of her dress. “I doubt that will happen. You have more patience than anybody I know. There aren’t many in our valley who’ve been able to stand up to the government and keep them from taking their land. Just you and Grandpa Martin and a few more. Everybody else has given up and sold out.”

There it was again. The ever-present shadow that hung over their lives. Cove residents were selling out and leaving. How long could they hang on?

“Seems like we’re losing all our friends, doesn’t it?” Her father shook his head and pointed straight ahead. “Like Pete and Laura Ferguson. We’re almost to their farm. I think I’ll stop for a minute. I promised Pete I’d keep an eye on the place after they moved, and I haven’t gotten over here in a few weeks.”

Ever since Laurel could remember there had been a bond between her father and the older Pete Ferguson. Each had always been there to lend a hand to the other, but now the Fergusons were gone. Their land sold to the United States government and their farm officially a part of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

She glanced at her father’s face, and she almost gasped aloud at the sorrow she saw. The court case he and Grandpa Martin had waged over the past year had taken its toll on him. He was only a few months away from turning fifty years old, and Grandpa would soon be sixty-five. They didn’t need the worry they’d lived under for the last twelve years. Why couldn’t the government just give up and allow them to remain on their farms in the mountain valley that had been their family’s home for generations? That was her prayer every night, but so far God hadn’t seen fit to answer.

Her father steered the truck onto the dirt path that ran to the Ferguson cabin. The wildflowers Mrs. Ferguson had always loved waved in the breeze beside the road as they rounded the corner and pulled to a stop in the yard.

Laurel’s eyes grew wide, and she stared, unbelieving, through the windshield to the spot where the Ferguson cabin had stood as long as she could remember. Her father groaned and climbed from the truck. For a moment he stood beside the vehicle’s open door, his hand resting on the handle. He shook his head as if he couldn’t believe what he saw. Then he closed the door and took a few steps forward.

Laurel reached for the leather bag that sat on the floorboard near her feet, unsnapped the top flap, and pulled out her Brownie box camera before jumping from the truck. She hurried to stand beside her father, who stood transfixed as he stared straight ahead. Willie, his face pale, climbed from the back of the truck and stopped next to their father. No one spoke for a moment.

Willie pulled his gaze away and stared up at their father. “Where’s the house, Pa?”

Their father took a deep breath. “I guess the park service tore it down, son.”

A sob caught in Laurel’s throat as they stared at the barren spot of land that had once been the site of a cabin, barn, and all the outbuildings needed to keep a farm productive. “But why would they do that, Poppa?”

Her father took a deep breath. “Because this land is now a part of the park, and they want it to return to its wild state.”

Willie inched closer to their father. “Are they gonna tear our house down too?”

Her father’s eyes darkened. “Not if I can help it.” He let his gaze wander over the place he had known so well before he took a deep breath and turned back to the truck. “Let’s get out of here. I shouldn’t have stopped today.”

Laurel raised the camera and stared down into the viewfinder. “Let me get a picture of this before we go.”

Her father gritted his teeth. “Take as many as you want. Somebody’s got to record the death of a community.”

None of them spoke as she snapped picture after picture of the empty spot that gave no hint a family had once been devoted to this piece of land. After she’d finished, the three of them returned to the truck and climbed in. When her father turned the truck and headed back to the road, Laurel glanced over her shoulder at the spot where the house had stood. She had always looked forward to visiting this home, but she didn’t know if she would be able to return. Too many of her friends were gone, scattered to the winds in different directions. The holdouts who still remained in the Cove lived each day with the threat that they too would soon be forced from the only homes they’d ever known. If her family had to leave, they would be like all the rest. They would go wherever they could find a home, and the ties forged by generations in the close society of their remote mountain valley would vanish forever.











Andrew Brady set his empty glass on the soda fountain counter and crossed his arms on its slick white surface. The young man who’d served him faced him behind the counter and smiled. “Can I get you somethin’ else, mister?”

Andrew shook his head. “No thanks. That cold drink helped to cool me down some. I didn’t expect it to be so hot in Gatlinburg. I thought it would be cooler here in the mountains.”

The young man grinned and reached up to scratch under the white hat he wore. “Most folks think that, but our days can be a bit warm in the summertime.” He glanced at several customers at the other end of the counter and, apparently satisfied they didn’t need any help at the moment, turned his attention back to Andrew. “Where you from?”

Andrew smiled. “Virginia. Up near Washington.”

The young man smiled and extended his hand. “Welcome to Gatlinburg. My name is Wayne Johnson. My uncle owns this drugstore, and I work for him.”

Andrew grasped his hand and shook it. “Andrew Brady.”

“How long you been here, Andrew?”

“I arrived Thursday.”

Wayne picked up a cloth and began to wipe the counter. He glanced up at Andrew. “You enjoying your vacation?”

Andrew shook his head. “I’m not in Gatlinburg on vacation. I’m here on business.”

Wayne shrugged. “I figured you for a tourist. Guess I was wrong. They come from all over now that the park’s opening up. I hear that we had about forty thousand people visit Gatlinburg last year. That’s a far cry from what it was like when I was a boy. We were just a wide spot in a dirt road back in those days. But I expect it’s only gonna get better.”

Andrew glanced around the drugstore with its well-stocked shelves and the soda fountain against the side wall. “It looks like this business is doing okay.” He shook his head and chuckled. “I don’t know what I expected, but I wouldn’t have thought there’d be so many shops here. Mountain crafts are for sale everywhere, and the whole town is lit up with electric lights. It looks like the park has put this town on the map.”

Wayne propped his hands on the counter and smiled. “I guess folks in the outside world thought we were just a bunch of ignorant hillbillies up here, but we been doing fine all these years. We’ve even had electricity since back in the twenties when Mr. Elijah Reagan harnessed the power on the Roaring Fork for his furniture factory. He supplied to everybody else too, but now they say we’re gonna have cheap electricity when TVA gets all their dams built.”

Andrew nodded. “I guess it’s a new day for the people in the mountains.”

“It sure is, and we’re enjoying every bit of it.” He picked up Andrew’s dirty glass and held it up. “You sure you don’t want a refill?”

Andrew shook his head. “No, I’d better be going. I have some things to do before I head out to Cades Cove tomorrow.”

Wayne cocked an eyebrow. “Only one reason I can think why you might be going out there. You must be joining up at the Civilian Conservation Corps.”

Andrew pulled some coins from his pocket to pay for his soda and laid them on the counter. “No, I’m not with the CCC. Just intend to visit with them a while.”

Wayne shrugged. “There’re a lot of CCC camps all over the mountains, and those boys are doing a good job. You can see part of it when you drive into the Cove. They built the new road there. It sure makes gettin’ in and out of there easier than it did in years past. I reckon Roosevelt did a good thing when he put that program in his New Deal.”

“Yeah, it’s giving a lot of young men a chance for employment.” Andrew smiled, picked up the hat that rested on the stool beside him, and set it on his head. “Thanks for the soda.”

Wayne studied Andrew for a moment. “You never did tell me exactly what your job is. What brought you to Gatlinburg from Washington?”

“I work with the Park Service. I’m here on a special assignment.”

Wayne’s eyes narrowed, and his gaze raked Andrew. “Special assignment, huh? Sounds important, and you look mighty young.”

Andrew’s face grew warm, and his pulse quickened. Even a soda jerk could figure out that a guy who looked like he’d barely been out of college for a year couldn’t have gotten this job on his own. But with his father being a United States congressman and a supporter of President Roosevelt’s New Deal, it hadn’t been hard for his father to arrange this appointment.

The worst part for him, though, had been his father’s command that Andrew had better not embarrass him on the job. He swallowed the nausea rising in his throat and tried to smile.

“I guess I’m just lucky they thought I was qualified.”

“Well, congratulations. Come in for another soda the next time you’re in town.”

“That I will.” Andrew turned and headed for the exit.

When he stepped outside the drugstore, he stopped and stared at the newly paved road that wound through the town. Before long that stretch of highway would wind and climb its way up the mountainsides all the way to Newfound Gap that divided the states of   Tennessee and North Carolina. He’d heard that spot mentioned several times as the ideal location for the dedication of the park, but the event was still some years away. His assignment here would be one of the factors that determined when it would take place.

Andrew took a deep breath of fresh mountain air and turned in the direction where he’d parked his car. Several tourists brushed past him, but it was the approach of a young man and woman who caught his attention. Obviously honeymooners, if the glow of happiness on their faces was any indication. Ignoring everybody they passed, they stared into each other’s eyes and smiled as if they had a secret no one else knew.

Andrew shook his head in sympathy as they walked past him and wondered how long it would take them to face up to the reality of what being married really meant. He’d seen how his friends had changed after marriage when they had to start worrying about taking care of a family. He’d decided a long time ago it wasn’t for him. He had too many things he wanted to do in life, and getting married ranked way below the bottom of his list. Convincing his father of the decision, though, was another matter. The congressman had already picked out the woman for his son’s wife. “The perfect choice,” his father often said, “to be by your side as you rise in politics.”

Andrew sighed and shook his head. Sometimes there was no reasoning with his father. He wished he could make him…

His gaze drifted across the street, and the frown on his face dissolved at the sight of a young woman standing at the back of a pickup truck. Her fisted hands rested on her hips, and she glared at the back of a young boy running down the street.

“Willie,” she yelled. “Come back here. We’re not through unloading yet.”

The boy scampered away without looking over his shoulder. She shook her head and stamped her foot. Irritation radiated from her stiff body, and his skin warmed as if she’d touched him.

As if some unknown force had suddenly inhabited his body, he eased off the sidewalk and moved across the street until he stood next to her. “Excuse me, ma’am. Is there anything I can do to help?”

She whirled toward him, and the long braid of black hair hanging over her right shoulder thumped against her chest. Sultry dark eyes shaded by long lashes stared up at him, and a small gasp escaped her lips. “Oh, you startled me.”

His chest constricted, and he inhaled to relieve the tightness. His gaze drifted to the long braid that reached nearly to her waist. He had a momentary desire to reach out and touch it. With a shake of his head, he curled his fingers into his palms and cleared his throat.

“I’m sorry. I heard you calling out to that boy, and I thought maybe I could help.”

Only then did her shoulders relax, and she smiled. Relief surged through his body, and his legs trembled. What was happening to him? A few minutes ago he was mentally reaffirming his commitment to bachelorhood, and now his mind wondered why he’d ever had such a ridiculous thought. All he could do was stare at the beautiful creature facing him.

She glanced in the direction the boy had disappeared and sighed. “That was my brother. He was supposed to help me move these crates into the store, but he ran off to find his friend.” She smiled again and held out her hand. “My name is Laurel.”

His hand engulfed hers, and a wobbly smile pulled at his lips. “I’m Andrew. I’d be glad to take these inside for you, Laurel.”

“Oh, no. If you could just get one end, I’ll hold the other.”

He studied the containers for a moment before he shook his head. “I think I can manage. If you’ll just open the door, I’ll have them inside in no time.”

She hesitated as if trying to decide, then nodded. “Okay. But be careful. These crates are filled with pottery. My mother will have a fit if one piece gets broken.”

He took a deep breath, leaned over the tailgate of the truck, and grabbed the largest crate with Mountain Laurel Pottery stamped on the top. Hoisting the container in his hands, he headed toward the store and the front door that she held open.

As they entered the building, a tall man with a pencil stuck behind his ear hurried from the back of the room. “Afternoon, Laurel. I wondered when you were going to get here.”

She smiled, and Andrew’s heart thumped harder. “We didn’t leave home as early as we’d planned.” Her smile changed to a scowl. “Willie was supposed to help me, but he ran off.” And just as quickly, her expression changed again to a dazzling smile. “Andrew was good enough to help me get the crates in.”

Mr. Bryan helped Andrew ease the crate to the floor and glanced up at him. “Any more in the truck?”

Andrew nodded. “One more, but it’s smaller. I don’t need any help getting it inside.”

“Then I’ll leave you two. I’m unboxing some supplies in the back.” Mr. Bryan turned to Laurel. “If anybody comes in, holler at me, Laurel.”

“I will.”

A need to distance himself from this woman who had his heart turning somersaults swept over Andrew, and he hurried out the door. Within minutes he was back with the second container, but he almost dropped it at the sight of Laurel kneeling on the floor beside the first one. She opened the top, reached inside, and pulled out one of the most beautiful clay pots he’d ever laid eyes on. Swirls of orange and black streaked the smoky surface of the piece. She held it up to the light, and her eyes sparkled as she turned it slowly in her hands and inspected it.

He set the second crate down and swallowed. “Did you make it?”

She laughed and shook her head. The braid swayed again, and he stood transfixed. “No, my mother is the potter. I help her sometimes, but I didn’t inherit her gift. This is one of her pit-fired pieces.”

She set the pot down and pulled another one out. She smiled and rubbed her hand over the surface. Her touch on the pottery sent a warm rush through his veins.

“Exquisite.” The word escaped his mouth before he realized it.

She cocked her head to one side and bit her lip. “Exquisite?” she murmured. She glanced up at him, and her long eyelashes fluttered. “I’ve searched for the right word for a long time to describe my mother’s work. I think you’ve just given it to me. They are exquisite.”

He swallowed and backed away. “Is there anything else I can do for you?”

She shook her head. “No, thank you. You’ve been a great help.”

“I’m glad I could be of service.” He searched his mind for something else to say, something to prolong his time with her, but his mind was blank. He took a deep breath. “I need to go. It was nice meeting you, Laurel.”

She smiled. “You too, Andrew. Goodbye, and thanks again.”

“Goodbye.” He slowly backed toward the door.

Outside in the fresh air he took a deep breath and pulled his hat off. He raked his sleeve across his perspiring brow and shook his head. What had just happened? He’d felt like he was back in high school and trying to impress the most popular girl in his class.

He closed his eyes for a moment, and the image of her holding the pottery in her hands returned. He clamped his teeth down on his bottom lip and shook his head. She’d misunderstood. It wasn’t the pottery he was describing when the word had slipped from his mouth.

Exquisite? The word didn’t do her justice.

And she had a beautiful name too. Laurel. He straightened, and his eyes widened. He hadn’t even asked her last name.

He whirled to go back inside the store but stopped before he had taken two steps. His father’s face and the words he’d spoken when Andrew left home flashed in his mind. Remember who you are and why you’re there. Don’t do anything foolish. People in Washington are watching. He exhaled and rubbed his hand across his eyes.

For a moment inside the store he’d been distracted. He was the son of Congressman Richard Brady, and his father had big plans for his only living son.

He glanced once more at the pickup truck that still sat in front of the store and pictured how Laurel had looked standing there. When he’d grasped her hand, he’d had the strange feeling that he’d known her all his life. How could a mountain girl he’d just met have such a strange effect on him?

He pulled his hat on, whirled, and strode in the opposite direction. Halfway down the block he stopped, turned slowly, and wrinkled his brow as he stared back at the truck. The words painted on the containers flashed in his mind, and he smiled.

It shouldn’t be too hard to find out her last name. For now he would just call her Mountain Laurel. His skin warmed at the thought. A perfect name for a beautiful mountain girl.

He jammed his hands in his pockets and whistled a jaunty tune as he sauntered down the street.
 
Blog Design by Imagination Designs all images from the Beautiful Moments kit by Newlife Dreams