Lethal Game by Julie Rowe Book Spotlight

About The Book


TitleLethal Game
Book 2: Biological Response Team Series
Author: Julie Rowe
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: October 12, 2015
Pages: 270
ISBN: 978-1459290198
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Format: eBook, PDF
Book Description:
Book Two of Biological Response Team Series
As the nation’s youngest virologist and hematologist, Captain Sophia Perry has always been one step ahead of her peers. But there’s one thing she can’t beat—cancer. She wants to make a difference in the time she has left, so when she’s sent to investigate a breakout at a Syrian refugee camp, she goes, saying nothing of her diagnosis. But saving the masses isn’t easy when the man tasked to protect her is so irresistible.
Communications Sergeant Connor Button is back on active duty after a deadly explosion, but he doesn’t feel whole again until he meets Sophia. Assigned to keep her safe, he’s prepared to die for her, but for the first time in months he truly wants to live—if only she wasn’t so determined to put them both in danger.
With a secret to keep and nothing to lose, Sophia is determined to find the source of the breakout at any cost. Violent attacks on the camp convince her that someone wants her to pay dearly. But as Sophia’s health deteriorates, Connor must find a way to help her defeat her enemies before her body defeats her.
Book Excerpt:
Security is mostly a superstition ~
Helen Keller
It had taken him three airplanes and over twenty-six hours
to travel more than seven thousand miles, and now he was going to have to kill
Ten feet from his room in the Navy
hotel at the American Naval base in Bahrain.
All Special Forces Communications
Sergeant Connor Button wanted was to find a bed and crash for a few hours.
What he did not need was witnessing
some idiot striking out with a hot blonde and not taking it well.
She’d just removed his hand from
her waist.
The man put it on her shoulder and
tried to bring her closer. “Aw, come on, sweetheart.”
She slid away, her voice clear
across the short distance. “No.”
dude, time to retreat.
Only, the guy didn’t. He grabbed her by the back of
the neck, hard enough to make her gasp in pain, and leaned down, his mouth
aimed for hers.
She slapped the moron, but he
didn’t get that hint either, just grabbed her hand and twisted it behind her
Con had to make himself stand still
for a second. One second, so he could throttle back the instinct to beat the
stupid fuck to death.
His jaw flexed. He wouldn’t kill the asshole, but he could hurt him real bad.
Con dropped his duffel on the floor
and stomped toward the woman and the moron whose arm he was about to break.
Into several pieces.
Small ones.
The stomping got the moron’s
attention. He glanced up, saw Con coming and his eyes went wide. He let go of
the woman so fast she wobbled off balance and fell to the floor. Con stopped to
help her while the moron ran like a track star down the hall and around a
call, asshole.
Con bent down and offered his hand
to the woman. “Are you okay?”
Her head jerked up and she stared
at him with eyes that didn’t miss a thing. She scooted away, leaving his hand
hanging in the air, then stood. Her shoulders went back and her chin rose.
He almost smiled. She was so not
interested in another man getting all up in her business. He’d make sure she
was all right, then he’d back off.
“Ma’am, did he hurt you?”
“I’m fine,” she said, retreating a
Blue-green eyes stood out in a face
framed by white-blond hair hanging in a sheet down to the middle of her back.
She was also stacked, though she wasn’t showing it off. She was following
military clothing requirements, wearing long pants and a collared shirt one
size too big, buttoned up to her neck. An asshole had just tried to sexually
assault her, but Con would bet a year’s pay that had he not come along, the
moron would have had his hands full with a pissed-off female trying to smash
his balls into paste.
He glanced down.
Her mouth was pressed into a thin
angry line, but her hands were shaking.
For the first time in months
something other than anger or despair slammed into him.
He knew just how she felt. Hyped up
on adrenaline and looking for a target.
It surprised him so much he opened
his mouth to make some inane comment or other to show her he was no threat, but
she raised a hand to stop him.
She spoke a quick, firm “Thank
you.” And then she was gone, inside the room closest to her. The click of the
lock being engaged echoed down the hall.
He blinked at the empty hallway. He
wasn’t sure she was okay, but those shaking hands and that locked door sent a
pretty clear signal that she didn’t want another man anywhere near her.
Sometimes other people just made
things worse.
He sighed, strode back to his bag,
checked his room number again and discovered he was next door to the blonde.
At least he wouldn’t have to go far
if Moron came back.
So much for getting some sleep. He’d lain awake, alert for
any noise that might indicate a problem in the room next door, but it had been
church-quiet. He got up at 0700 base time, then went in search of his new
commanding officer, Colonel Maximillian. The man had an interesting reputation,
but he trusted what his buddy, Jacob “Sharp” Foster, a former Special Forces
soldier, had to say about him. Everyone else said the colonel was one bullet
shy of a magazine. Sharp had warned him that the colonel wasn’t exactly regular
army, but he gave a shit about his people, and that was number one for Con. If
your CO had your six, at least you didn’t have to take your attention off what
was coming at you.
The colonel had a fancy lab that
didn’t exist on the base, according to official records. Officially, the lab
that did exist on paper was rated for level two containment. Good enough to run
the sort of tests any big city hospital conducted. In reality, the lab was
capable of level four containment testing. The stuff you needed to wear a
bio-suit for and breathe your own oxygen supply.
Con had to pass through two
internal checkpoints to gain entry to the nondescript building that was his
destination. Colonel Maximillian’s office was the first one inside the prefab
rectangle that housed the lab and offices. A soldier who didn’t look a day over
sixteen sat typing on a computer facing the entrance to the building.
The kid’s gaze darted over Con’s
uniform, then he stood and saluted. “Private Eugene Walsh.”
“Sergeant Connor Button, Special
“Yes, sir. Colonel Maximillian is
expecting you.” Walsh extended his hand in the direction of the first office.
“Go right in.”
Con gave him a nod, then walked
into the office.
He saluted the
salt-and-pepper-haired man, who stood and saluted back. “Sir, Sergeant Button
reporting for duty.”
“Welcome, Sergeant.” The colonel
came around his desk and offered his hand.
Con shook it once, twice, then
released a hand that hadn’t tested him beyond what would be considered polite.
“Take a seat,” the colonel said,
gesturing at one of the chairs facing his desk. “I’d like to go over your
assignment and answer any questions you might have.”
“Thank you, sir.” Con sat and
adopted a neutral body posture, back straight and hands resting lightly on his
thighs. It was harder than it should have been.
The last time he’d been in the
Middle East he’d been deployed with his unit, attempting to ascertain the
military strength of two groups of extremists in Northern Iraq and Syria. Both
groups had threatened multiple American and allied targets, as well as calling
for sympathetic citizens to carry out terrorist acts inside their own
The last time he’d been in the
Middle East, he’d been the only survivor of an IED that took out their vehicle.
Fortune had smiled on him that day. He’d been thrown clear.
More and more often, he wished he
hadn’t been so lucky.
Colonel Maximillian continued to
stare at him and seemed content to not say anything for several moments.
Con waited with the patience of a
man who’d waited days for just the right moment to take a shot at his target.
Finally, the colonel asked, “How
much do you know about your mission here?”
“Probably not enough.”
Maximillian’s face didn’t change.
“Sharp said you were smart. Are you, Sergeant Button?”
“That would depend on your
definition of smart.
“Observant, creative, organized,
able to see unusual relationships between people and information.”
“Sir, you’re looking for Sherlock
Holmes. He’s a fictional character.”
A brief smile crossed the colonel’s
face. “How would you describe yourself?”
“Flexible, determined, fuck the
Colonel Maximillian’s forehead
lowered over his eyes. “Were you aware General Stone had some reluctance in
assigning you to this mission?”
“Not directly, but it doesn’t
surprise me.”
How many conversations like this
had he had recently? Five, six? “Sir, I received injuries in an attack that
killed all the men in the armored vehicle with me. I’d be surprised if he
wasn’t hesitant.” No officer wanted to have a suicidal or homicidal soldier on
a mission. Survivor’s guilt could lead to either one. Or both.
“Do you consider yourself fit for
“Yes, sir.”
Goddamned why-questions. Why judged, weighed and measured what
was in a man’s head. What was in his head was not pretty, and not to be shared.
“Sir, I signed on to serve my
country. My service isn’t done.”
Maximillian tilted his head to one
side. “That is one of the best non-answers I’ve ever heard.”
. Con leaned forward and said in a less civilized tone, “I got thrown off
the horse. I need to get back on and finish my ride.”
“And if you don’t?”
Con’s throat closed up. “That
thought can’t be in my head.”
The colonel’s face lost its sharp
inquisitiveness for a moment, replaced by a surprising level of comprehension.
A second later it was gone and he was flipping through pages on his desk.
“You’ve had some problems with your temper since you returned to duty.”
“I’m working on that.” Anger was
easy. Acting on it was even easier.
The officer considered Con for a
couple more seconds, then nodded briskly. “My Biological Response Team is
tracking a very dangerous man who’s created his own extremely deadly strain of
anthrax. We managed to prevent an attack on a base in Afghanistan, but not
before nearly one hundred people died of the infection. We think he’s not done.
We think he’ll continue to strike at high-quality American or allied targets,
and we don’t know where he is or where he will attack next.”
Con straightened. Hunting down a
homicidal nutcase wasn’t the sort of duty he’d taken on before, but it sounded
dangerous. Good.
Holy fuck he was messed up.
Maximillian continued. “We were
successful in preventing the last attack because we had one of our infectious
disease specialists embedded with an A-team training members of the Afghan
military. General Stone agrees with me—until this man is found, we need more
cooperation between my team and army Special Forces. I asked for specific men
to work with my people. Men who are not only well trained and smart, but also
creative and who can take a step back and support his teammate or take charge
of a situation if that’s what’s needed. Jacob Foster says you’re that kind of
man. Are you?”
It might be nice to have a specific
enemy, with a face and a name, rather than a faceless one who could be anybody.
The need to kill, to avenge his dead, was a relentless voice in the back of his
head. This mission could get him the opportunity to give himself that, and
maybe a measure of peace.
“Sir.” He paused, trying hard not
to come on too strong. If he lost this chance, he might not get another. “I’m a
team player. That means I’ll play whatever role is needed by the team.”
Colonel Maximillian smiled. “Do you
mind working with a woman?”
“No, sir. Sharp mentioned the
possibility I’d be paired with a woman.” Man, woman, two-headed alien, he
didn’t care as long as they shared a common enemy.
“You’re okay with that? No
The colonel seemed unusually
the hell?
While he might smack down a fellow Special Forces soldier, he’d never lay a hand on a woman.
“Sir, I’m the youngest of five
children with four older sisters. Working with or for a woman is nothing new to
“Good.” Maximillian nodded. “I
don’t mean to sound paranoid, but the doctor you’re going to be working with is
somewhat high-strung.”
The colonel shook his head. “That’s
the wrong description. She doesn’t trust…people. I’ve been trying to find a
suitable partner for her, but I’ve been unsuccessful.”
“Most people look at her and see a
young woman who looks as if she’d have trouble with breaking a nail. Coddle her
in any way and she’ll find a way to make you miserable.”
The bottom of Con’s stomach grew
cold. “So why me?”
“Growing up with sisters is part of
This interview was a personality test.
“You’ve also been through some
challenging combat situations and I think that will give you a level of
experience she’ll respect.”
Con had to work to keep a growl out
of his voice. “I’m not going to sit around the campfire telling her war stories.”
What he’d seen wouldn’t instill confidence in anyone.
“I don’t expect you to. She works
best with people who are highly competent, who don’t brag or try to impress.”
First time he’d been complimented
on his ability to keep his trap shut.
“Another issue is her age. She’s
young, she’s a genius and she has absolutely no idea how to talk to anyone who
isn’t a scientist or doctor.”
That didn’t leave a whole lot of
people. “Genius, as in graduated from medical school really young?”
“She’s twenty-four and is the
youngest physician in the USA to have a double speciality in virology and
“Virology, I get. Hematology?”
“The study of blood cells.”
If she was an overachiever, he
could work with that. “So, work is her life, and before that, it was school?”
“S’okay. My second-oldest sister is
married to a physicist. He speaks math, and we get along just fine.”
Maximillian quirked an eyebrow.
“You speak math?”
“Nope. I speak barbecue. Everyone
has something to say about properly grilling a steak.”
The colonel laughed. “You’ll do.
Time to meet her.” He stepped out of his office and led the way down a hall.
“Oh, and call me Max. It’s shorter.”
“Thank you, sir.”
Max sighed as he opened a door with
a key and preceded Con inside.
The room they entered was part
office and part lab, with a couple of desks and two tall microscopes set up on
the end of each. Papers and boxes of slides littered both surfaces. Only one of
the desks was occupied.
A woman sat looking through the
lens of one of the microscopes. Her hair was white-blond and pulled back into a
severe bun. She wore an army uniform with a lab coat over top. When she saw
Max, she pushed away from the scope, stood and moved to meet them.
The blonde from last night. With
her hair pulled back, she could have passed for even younger than twenty-four.
He took that thought, hog-tied it and shoved it into a dark
corner. His personal mission left no room for anything beyond a professional
She also looked ready to rip
someone’s head off.
“Sophia,” Max said. “This is your
new partner, Communications Sergeant Connor Button.” He turned to Con. “Connor,
this is Captain Sophia Perry.” Her mouth, pressed into a thin line, convinced
him to pretend last night hadn’t happened. He nodded at her respectfully. “Good
to meet you, ma’am.”
“Ma’am?” she asked, crossing her
arms over her chest and displaying a huge bruise on her right hand.
Must’ve hurt.
“This is who you found to babysit
me, Max? A fossil?”
Damn, she came out swinging. Maybe
he’d let her win this bout. Con managed to keep a straight face and said in a
hesitant voice, “I’m only twenty-nine.”
“Would you rather I pair you up
with someone who follows all the
rules and regulations?” Max asked her, irritation showing in his rigid posture.
“This guy—” he pointed a thumb at Con “—hates inside-the-box thinking as much
as you do.”
“Oh yeah?” she said, looking Con
full in the face. A challenge. Why was she so pissed off? Because she didn’t
think she needed a babysitter?
He shrugged, then coughed to hide a
chuckle. If he laughed now, she’d think he was laughing at her. “I don’t like
boxes. They’re never big enough, and they’re too…square.”
She blinked at him, then narrowed
her gaze. “What did you do to draw this duty? It had to have been bad.”
Max opened his mouth, but Con
didn’t want to escalate things, so he spoke first, and went with the
unvarnished truth. “I got blown up. I spent almost seven months in hospitals
and physical therapy. The last three or four months I’ve been instructing and getting
back into shape.” He smiled at her. “When I found out what my first mission was
going to be, bodyguarding some army doctor, I thought what the fuck? I sure as shit didn’t want easy duty. But having talked with Max here, I’ve changed my mind.”
He shifted his gaze to Max’s face. “This isn’t easy duty, is it, sir?”
“No. It’s not a matter of if there will be another biological
weapon attack somewhere in this part of the world, it’s when.”
“My role isn’t just to bodyguard
Dr. Perry, is it?”
“No.” Max began pacing back and
forth between Con and Sophia. “We have intel that points to the Biological
Response Team as a specific target. I don’t want you to just protect Sophia, I
need you two to be a team. All of us are being paired with Special Forces
soldiers, even myself.”
“Assassination?” Con asked. The
idea of it made the back of his neck itch.
“Very possible. Sabotage is another
“Have any attempts been made?”
“Yes. Dr. Samuels and her Green
Beret were nearly killed in a trap I believe was set for them. We have an enemy
who is intelligent, ruthless and fearless.”
“Can I get everything you have on
this guy?” Con asked.
“My assistant will have it ready
for you in an hour or two.” Max turned to him. “Have you been assigned
“I’m going to have you moved to the
room next to Sophia’s.”
The woman in question opened her
mouth to say something unpleasant—he was sure from the way she’d screwed up her
nose—which is why Con spoke first again. “Are you sure that’s necessary?” He
looked down, like he was thinking hard. “Do you want to advertise to the whole
base that I’m her bodyguard, or would you like to keep it below the radar?”
Max gave him a dirty look. “Whose
side are you on?”
“Hers, sir.”
“Fine,” Max said, with bit of an
impatient edge to his voice. “I’ll check to see where you’re housed now. If
it’s not too far, you can stay where you are.” Max pressed his lips together,
glared at them both, then stomped off.
Con looked at Sophia.
She looked back at him, snorted and
went back to her microscope. “Nice attempt to come to my rescue. Again. But I
don’t need anyone to rescue me.”
She needed to talk to someone about
the moron. To prevent fear and anger from getting too deep a hold on her brain.
Despite how fast things had
happened, the human mind had a way of warping events so the memory of them
seemed to take a thousand times longer than the reality had.
Hell, he was a walking testament
for how three seconds of hell could totally screw up the rest of a man’s life.
Or take it.
Listen to him passing judgment on
her mental state, when he’d done his level best to keep the shrinks out of his.
Right now, he just had to convince her he was on her side. He wanted this assignment. “I know.”
“Really?” Sarcasm turned the word
into something sharp and heavy. “You just met me. How would you know that?”
“I saw you in action last night.”
She froze, and for a moment the
expression on her face was a mixture of anger, fear and disgust. A second
later, it was gone, smoothed away as if it had never been there.
What was that?
Without looking at him, she said,
“Babysitting me is going to be a complete bore for a soldier’s soldier like
you. I’ll tell Max to find someone else.”
Buy The Book:

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17506509-lethal-game-by-julie-rowe

About The Author

Julie Rowe’s first career as a medical lab technologist in Canada took her to the North West Territories and northern Alberta, where she still resides. She loves to include medical details in her romance novels, but admits she’ll never be able to write about all her medical experiences because, “No one would believe them!”.

In addition to writing contemporary and historical medical romance, and fun romantic suspense for Entangled Publishing and Carina Press, Julie has short stories in Fool’s Gold, the Mammoth Book of ER Romance, Timeless Keepsakes and Timeless Escapes anthologies. Her book SAVING THE RIFLEMAN (book #1 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. AIDING THE ENEMY (book #3 WAR GIRLS) won the novella category of the 2014 Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence. Her writing has also appeared in several magazines such as Romantic Times Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Canadian Living.


Connect with Julie:
Virtual Book Tour

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Spotlight: Soulshifter by Barbara Pietron

About The Book
Title: Soulshifter
Author: Barbara Pietron
Publisher: Scribe Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 24, 2015
Format: Paperback – 290 pages / eBook  / PDF
ISBN: 978-0991602124
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy
Book Description:
Sixteen-year-old Jack Ironwood knew exactly what he wanted. Until he got it. Jack was content to stay unnoticed by pretty and popular track star, Natalie Segetich, until her best friend Emma disappears. Natalie swears something took Emma, and though most people write Natalie off as traumatized and confused, Jack is a soulshifter and he knows the human-stealing Enuuki—hell’s messengers—are real. As a soulshifter, Jack can cross into the underworld so he sees Emma’s rescue as an opportunity to prove himself a valuable member of his transcendental sect—and a way to secure a future otherwise out of his reach. Although he needs Natalie’s help to prepare for the mission, Jack intends to go to the underworld alone. But as a viable plan takes shape, it’s clear the best chance of success means Natalie must accompany him. On the eve of the quest, when Jack is promised the hand of a respected elder’s daughter—a dream come true—he realizes he’s no longer sure what he wants. But it’s too late to back out, not with the sect and Natalie counting on him. Pursued by the dark lord’s henchmen and ghastly mutant creatures, Jack and Natalie struggle to come out ahead in a battle and barter for souls. In the end, Jack will have to decide his own fate, because nothing short of a deal with the devil will get all three of them out of hell alive.
Book Excerpt:
Chapter 1
Revelations from the Dark Realm
Feedback shrieked from the electric
guitar amp, annihilating the harmonious blend of drums, bass guitar and
electric piano. Jack winced as he fumbled for the volume knob on his guitar,
pretending he didn’t see Tommy, the lead singer, shoot him a furious glare.
Head down, Jack concentrated on the next few chord progressions, until Tommy
launched into his signature vocal screaming. Then Jack stole a glance to his
left and caught the eye of his best friend, Wes, who skillfully delivered the
pulse of the track on his bass guitar. Wes lifted his eyebrows and Jack
answered with a slight shrug and an apologetic frown.
It was one thing if Jack screwed up
this opportunity for himself, but Wes had talked the band into giving Jack a
chance this summer when they’d lost their lead guitarist to college. Jack
didn’t want to embarrass Wes, or give Tommy a reason to give his friend a hard
time. The singer hadn’t wanted Wes in the band either, but when the other
members heard Wes play and realized he was a wizard on the bass guitar, Tommy
had been out-voted. It had taken two years for Wes to earn the lead singer’s
grudging respect and Jack hated to mess that up.
They finished the set and Jack
ducked out of his guitar strap, leaning the instrument against the cinderblock wall
of Fletch’s—the drummer’s—basement. He ran both hands through his thick curls,
for the first time thankful that his mom had insisted he get a haircut before
school started. Shoulder-length for most of the summer, his dark brown mane was
now tamed to a mass of loose curls that ended at the base of his jaw—not as
rock and roll, but certainly cooler.
He turned and nearly collided with
Tommy. “What’s up with the feedback, Ironwood? We’ve got a gig in two
“Sorry, man.” Jack shook
his head. He noticed John, the keyboardist, give him and Tommy a wide berth as
he beat a hasty retreat. “Just having an off day. I’m low on sleep.”
“Well you better get it
together by Monday. A lot of people come out to the park on Labor Day, and we
don’t need you making the rest of us look like amateurs.” He spun on his
heel and stomped up the steps before Jack could reply.
Fletch offered Jack a sports drink.
“You’ve been playing good all summer. Just don’t choke when you get on
stage.” He laughed, but his eyes were serious.
“Thanks.” Jack took the
plastic bottle and cracked the lid open. “I’ll be fine. I promise.”
He took a long drink, letting the slightly salty, citrusy liquid soothe his dry
tongue and throat before bending to put his guitar into its case.
An intermittent chink of metal on
metal sounded from the base of the stairwell. “Ready?”
Jack glanced up to see Wes tossing
a bundle of keys into the air and then catching them. “Yep.” He
noticed that Wes had decided to leave his guitar at Fletch’s. They were going
to rehearse again tomorrow, but Jack felt like he ought to go home and get in
some extra practice. He followed his friend out to the minivan, which smelled
like the burgers and fries they’d eaten on the way to rehearsal, and loaded his
gear into the back.
After Jack plopped into the
passenger seat and closed the door, Wes spoke up. “Dude.” He drew out
the solitary word and added a sigh, conveying both disappointment and sympathy.
“I know,” Jack said
quickly. “I’m not a hundred percent today. Yesterday was my end-of-summer
Buy The Book:
Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking here: https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/17507791-soulshifter-by-barbara-pietron
About The Author
After years in the corporate world, Barbara Pietron found herself with a second chance to decide what she wanted to be when she grew up. Her lifetime love of books and the written word returned one answer: writer. Drawing from her technical writing experience, she began by writing non-fiction magazine pieces and achieved both regional and national publication before trying her hand at her true passion, fiction. In addition to Soulshifter, Barbara is also the author of Thunderstone, Book One of the Legacy in Legend series and a prequel to ThunderstoneHeart of Ice, is available in e-book format. Book Two of the Legacy in Legend series is slated for fall of 2016. You can visit Barbara’s website at www.barbarapietron.com
Connect with Barbara Pietron:
Virtual Book Tour

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

First Chapter Reveal: A Peach of a Pair by Kim Boykin

Title: A Peach of a Pair
Author: Kim Boykin
Publisher: Penguin Random House/Berkley Books
Pages: 304
Genre: Southern Women’s Fiction

“Palmetto Moon” inspired “The Huffington Post” to rave, It is always nice to discover a new talented author and Kim Boykin is quite a find. Now, she delivers a novel of a woman picking up the pieces of her life with the help of two spirited, elderly sisters in South Carolina.

April, 1953. Nettie Gilbert has cherished her time studying to be a music teacher at Columbia College in South Carolina, but as graduation approaches, she can’t wait to return to her family and her childhood sweetheart, Brooks, in Alabama. But just days before her senior recital, she gets a letter from her mama telling her that Brooks is getting married . . . to her own sister.

Devastated, Nettie drops out of school and takes a job as live-in help for two old-maid sisters, Emily and Lurleen Eldridge. Emily is fiercely protective of the ailing Lurleen, but their sisterhood has weathered many storms. And as Nettie learns more about their lives on a trip to see a faith healer halfway across the country, she’ll discover that love and forgiveness will one day lead her home.

For More Information

First Chapter:

Thursday, March 26, 1953

“Mail call,” old Miss Beaumont bellowed into the commons room, and a flock of girls descended on her like biddies after scratch feed. Except for me. Normally, I would have been right there with them, clamoring for news from home. But since Mother called right after the tornado hit last month to say everyone back home in Satsuma was still in one piece, there hasn’t been a single word from anyone. Not even Brooks.

It was bad enough that Hurricane Florence blew through in September and smashed much of Alabama to bits. Six months later, just when everyone was getting a handle on putting my hometown back together, a tornado roared through, undoing Satsuma all over again. And while I wanted Miss Beaumont to bellow my name, I was sure the folks back home were too busy with the cleanup to write.

On good days, the silence was unsettling, and on bad days, it turned my stomach inside out. But I knew better than to complain.

Three and a half years ago, I’d been dying to get out of the armpit of Alabama to study music and accepted a full ride to the most exclusive women’s college in South Carolina. Funny how, back then Satsuma, even Alabama herself, seemed too small for me. Now, all I can think about is moving back home, and it won’t be long, just eight weeks till graduation.

I missed my mother and Sissy like it was the first day of my freshman year. And if I let myself think of the very long list of the people I love who have stopped writing me since those awful catastrophes, I would never stop crying. And Brooks. Loyal, faithful Brooks, who loved me enough to let me go away to college, saying he would wait forever if he had to for me to be his bride. The thought of how much I loved him, missed him, made my heart literally ache with a dull pain that left me in tears.

I was sure Brooks was working himself to death, helping rebuild Satsuma, because that’s the kind of guy he was, always building something. At Christmastime, he proposed, a promise without a ring, but a promise from Brooks Carter is as certain as my next breath.

Miss Beaumont called the name of one of the catty girls who are jealous of me because I am the only ’Bama belle at Columbia College. Maybe in the whole state of South Carolina. She cut her eye around at me, waved three letters, relishing the fact that I had none. My roommate, Sue, had one clutched to her chest, praying for more as hard as I’ve prayed for word from home. Something. Anything.

Sue had badgered me to call home. Collect. I knew my family would accept the charges, but I was afraid of the news that must be so terrible, nobody could bring themselves to call the pay phone in my hallway. So I waited for letters. I craved them as much as I dreaded them.

Since I went away to college, Mama and Sissy, who just turned nineteen last month, have written me every week, sometimes twice a week. Nana Gilbert and Grandma Pope wrote just as often, always slipping in a newspaper clipping from home, sometimes a dollar bill, whenever they had it to spare. With nineteen cousins who are all tighter than a new pair of shoes, I could always count on letters from them. One day I received twenty-two, a record at the college; it was better than Christmas. And Brooks, my beloved one true love, his letters were always like Christmas and the Fourth of July rolled into one.

Brooks loves and knows me better than anyone. He should; we’d been sweethearts since the fourth grade. While it has been a little rough with my studying music and education here in Columbia, and him back home in Satsuma, Brooks has been the most wonderful, understanding man in the world. Of course when I got the scholarship, he wasn’t at all happy, but he knew I was working toward our future. Me a teacher, maybe even a church pianist too, him running the feed store his daddy left him.

Lots of girls here have diamonds and are getting married the moment they graduate. But Brooks and I are waiting until next summer. He said it would be a good idea to get a year of teaching experience under my belt before we’re wed. He’s always so sensible like that, forward thinking, which I am not.

“Sue Dennis,” Miss Beaumont yelled. Sue snatched the letter from her and cocked her head at me, reminding me to be hopeful. But I knew there would be nothing for me, not until Satsuma was put together again. And it must be bad back home, much worse than Mother let on for the news from home to have stopped altogether. As awful as that was, the worst part was knowing in my heart why.

I shook my head at Sue and forced a thin smile.

“Nettie Gilbert,” Miss Beaumont called like the world had not just ended. I kept my seat on the kissing couch in the common’s room. Sue jumped up and down for me, squealing, but for the life of me I couldn’t move. She grabbed the letter from Miss Beaumont’s withered old fingers and flew to my side.

“It’s from Brooks,” she gushed. “I just know it is.”

But I knew it’s wasn’t. Mother’s letter-perfect handwriting marked the front. I turned it over to see the flap she always sealed with a tiny mark, xoxo, but there was nothing. Someone was dead, their long obituary folded up inside. Someone so precious to me, no one, not even my own mother, could bear to break the news to me.

“Open it,” Sue said. She’d already read her first letter, from her beau back home in Summerville. Her face was still flush. Sometimes we read our letters to each other, but lately, she’d kept the ones from Jimmy to herself since she visited home last. Even though their June wedding was right around the corner, I suspected they did the deed the last time she was home, and her letters were too saucy to share.

On the last night of Christmas break, I’d wanted to go all the way with Brooks and would have if Sissy hadn’t fetched us from the orange grove. We’d taken a blanket there to watch the sunset. It was a perfect night. As crisp as a gulf night can be in December. The perfect time, the perfect place, but Sissy, who could never leave Brooks alone, insisted we play Parcheesi with the family. When I protested, all it took was a Mother said from her, and Brooks was folding up the blanket, putting it back in the knapsack along with my chance at becoming a woman.

“I’ll be at your graduation before you know it,” he promised when I gave him a pouty look. “And next summer, you’ll be my June bride,” he whispered like it was naughty. His breath sent chills down my thighs and made me hate Sissy, just a tiny bit.

At Christmastime, I saw the devastation from Hurricane Florence firsthand, but after the tornado roared through Satsuma a few weeks ago, I knew it was much worse. When I’d called, Mother had sworn everyone was okay. But I knew if something were wrong, if someone were terribly injured, she’d try to keep a tight lip, at least until I graduated. Partly for me because she loved me, and partly because I would be the first on both sides of my family to get my degree.

Mother had tried college, and then got married the summer after her freshman year. But I also know part of my mother was still angry at me for going so far away when I could have gone to ’Bama, which did not have a decent music program.

“Come on, Nettie, read it,” Sue chided. But my heart refused to let my hands open the letter; I passed it off to Sue as she drug me back to our room.

“Sit,” she ordered, pushing me gently down onto my bed. “You’re being silly. It’s something wonderful, I’m sure of it,” she gushed, reaching for her letter opener. She slit the top of the envelope, pulled out a small white card, and offered it to me again.

Tears raced down my face, my neck. When I pushed it away, a sheet of lined notebook paper folded into a perfect rectangle escaped from the card and fell to the floor. Sue snatched it up while scanning the card. Her smile faded, and her face was ghostly white.

“Oh, Nettie,” she whispered, unfolding the letter from my mother.

“It’s Brooks, isn’t it?” She nodded. “Oh, God.”

I threw myself across the bed, sobbing. Brooks was dead. I would never see his beautiful face. Hear his voice rumble my name. Feel his arms wrapped tight around me, making me feel adored. Safe. Loved. The life that we’d planned would never amount to anything more than just words whispered between two lovers.

“Nettie.” Sue lay down beside me, stroking my hair. “My sweet Nettie, you need to read this.”

I couldn’t. I buried my face in my pillow. She whispered how strong I was, how life wasn’t fair, how very sorry she was my heart was broken to bits, and held me until I was all cried out. After I don’t know how long, I shook my head and looked at her. “I just can’t believe Brooks is dead.”

Sue gnawed her bottom lip the way she did when she was taking a test. “He’s not dead, Nettie.” Her hand trembled as she put Mother’s letter in my hand. “He’s getting married.”

“What?” I jerked the page away from her, and the card fell onto my lap. Neat white stock with two little doves at the top. Mother might have been a farmer’s wife from Satsuma, but her well-worn etiquette book sat atop the Bible on her bedside table. And as far as Dorothy Gilbert was concerned, they were one and the same. Except the invitations weren’t sent out months in advance. They’d been done so quickly, they were not even engraved, and the wedding was four weeks away.

Brooks’s name should be below mine, but it was below Sissy’s—Jemma Renee Gilbert, glared at me, cordially inviting me to her wedding. Worse yet, the parents of Brooks and Sissy were cordially inviting me too.

“This must be some kind of a sick joke,” Sue whispered. “How can they do this to you?”

She read my mind and uttered the words I could not bring myself to say. How could they? How could Brooks?

My hands trembled so hard it was difficult to read the impeccably neat handwriting.

Dear Nettie,

It might seem cruel to send this letter along with a proper invitation, but I couldn’t bring myself to call you, and I wasn’t given much notice regarding this matter. I also know you well enough to know you would have to see the invitation to truly believe it. Although I do regret not having enough time to have them engraved.

I’m sorry to be the one to give you the news about Brooks and Sissy. I love you, Nettie, and I love your sister. I’m not condoning her behavior or the fact that she is in the family way, but you are blood. You are sisters. No man can break that bond, not even Brooks.

There’s money and a bus ticket paper-clipped to the invitation. I’ve checked the schedules. You should be able to leave Columbia on Thursday the week of the wedding after your morning classes and get back by Sunday night. I know how you hate to miss class, and if you are also missing some wonderful end-of-the-year party, I’m sorry. So very sorry.

But the milk has been spilled, Nettie. Come home and stand up with your sister. She needs you. She’s a wreck, and it makes me worry about the baby.

Just come home.








Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with Gabrielle Francis, author of ‘The Rockstar Remedy’

Gabrielle FrancisDr. Gabrielle Francis has been practicing natural medicine for more than thirty years.

She is a Naturopathic Doctor, Chiropractor, Acupuncturist, and Licensed Massage therapist. Dr. Francis currently practices in New York City as The Herban Alchemist. She also operates Backstage Alternative, which is her natural medicine road show that provides chiropractic, massage, acupuncture, nutrition and herbal remedies to performing artists on tour.

Dr. Francis received her formal medical training at National College of Chiropractic and at Bastyr University. She has extensive training in Alternative Cancer Therapies, Environmental Medicine, Functional Medicine, Mind-Body medicine, and Bio-Identical Hormone therapies. Following her formal medical education, Dr. Francis travelled extensively to various parts of the world studying medicine with indigenous healers in countries such as China, India, Thailand, Bali, Brazil, Morocco, Peru, Guatemala, Ecuador, Belize, Mexico, Egypt, and Mali.

Stacy Baker Masand is a health, fitness and lifestyle editor whose work has appeared in magazines such as In StyleMarie ClaireSelfShapeFitnessDuJour and Women’s Health. She’s co-author of New York Times bestseller Your Best Body Now. Stacy is currently developing projects for both small and big screen.

Their latest book is the health/wellness/rocknroll book, The Rocstar Remedy.

For More Information

About the Book:

Known as the “Rock n’ Roll Doctor” to some of the most famous bands in the world, Dr. Gabrielle Francis shares her unique holistic prescription to achieving health and balance—even when you don’t live like a saint!
The Rockstar Remedy 2
As a Holistic Doctor to the music industry’s elite, Dr. Francis has helped rock stars repair, recover, and refuel from the demanding schedules and occasional overindulgences that come along with the rock star lifestyle. Being overscheduled, sleep-deprived, overeating, drinking and managing physical and mental stressors aren’t lifestyle habits unique to the music industry; they are the same challenges faced by all of us, every day.

In The Rockstar Remedy, Dr. Francis shares her unique strategies designed to be incorporated into your hectic lifestyle. Her programs are customized to meet you where you are at, whether an experienced health enthusiast or a beginner. Completing the 21 day detox will give you a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm for life, while looking and feeling your personal best. She explains how health is not a destination, but exists on a spectrum, and the simple act of making better choices every day—even if they’re not the best choices—helps us achieve balance in both mind and body. With tips for improving energy levels, easy food guidelines and a simple no-starvation detox, Dr. Francis offers a simple, effective plan for staying healthy and happy amid the chaos of our daily lives. Her popular “Harm Reduction Techniques” and “90/10 Rule” make it easy to celebrate life with occasional indulgences while maintaining good health. This is not a temporary fix; this program brings long-lasting, life-changing results.

Now you can reach for the stars too!

For More Information

What made you decide to become a published author?

I have been practicing natural medicine for over 33 years while touring with Rock Bands around the world.   It seemed like a good time to take my unique style of practice and wisdom to a larger audience. I wanted to show people that it is possible to live a life that is full of fun and joy and be healthy too. The Rockstars are my ambassadors.

Would you consider your latest book, The Rockstar Remedy, to be a one of a kind? How so?

Most definitely! The Rockstar Remedy is a very fun and non-judgmental approach to healthy living. Did you ever imagine that 80 Rockstars might have some good health tips for you? The Rockstar Remedy shows people how they can get healthy despite a life of excess, work, and indulgence. There are “harm reduction strategies” in the book that help people to make some of the not so healthy habits and bit healthier. The idea is that if we are able to cheat here and there, we can stick to a routine longer. And it really does work. It has been test driven on some of the biggest Rock bands in the world.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

My writing sanctuary is on a bus or plane while travelling. The time on tour with the Rock groups going to a new city is a great place to write. The inspirations come easily. Other than that, I channel my stories while I am travelling in foreign countries. After about 2 days on the road, the words just start to flow!

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

Don’t sacrifice the integrity of being true to your own voice and vision.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by music, dance, nature, international travel, mystical experiences, and family time.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

I learned that most buyers have been buying more than on copy. So people are seeing at a gift book to share with friends and family.   It makes sense. It is a great book to give to someone that you think needs to get healthy but doesn’t like the idea of a health or diet book. This is an entertaining and enjoyable health book.

Why do you love to write health books?

I love to teach people so they can be personally responsible for their health. I love to educate people about the wonders of the body.

However, I love to write stories about my adventures even more. I have the ability to transport the reader to another place. That is really fun!

You’re concocting a recipe for a best selling book. What’s the first ingredient?

A unique voice and perspective.

What’s one fun fact about your book people should know?

There are quotes from 80 Rockstars about what they do to stay healthy while living the life of extremes.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

My book has lots of great stories that I wrote while on tour with some of the biggest Rock Groups in the world. You can imagine that adds a lot of color to this health prescription.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

I am passionate about travelling, music, medicine, spirituality, and people.

What’s next for you?

I am writing a book of my travel adventure and medicine stories while I was learning from indigenous healers in countries all over the world. I call it Eat, Pray, Love meets Anthony Bourdain… with a health theme.   This is going to be a blast to write!

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Feature: Heartbound by P.I. Alltraine

HeartboundTitle: Heartbound
Author: P.I. Alltraine
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Pages: 177
Genre: YA fantasy romance

Petyr has never found it necessary to consider the humans as anything more than distant, inferior beings–until now. They are the cause of the fatal disease that has plagued his realm, taking the lives of too many of his kind. As a future leader of a realm in peril, Petyr must find a way to resist and cure the affliction. He must enter the unfamiliar realm, appear to be an ordinary eighteen-year-old human, observe, and learn.

However, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Instead of embarking single-mindedly on his sober mission, Petyr meets an 18-year-old girl who does things to his emotions that he can’t quite fathom or control. Petyr is falling in love, and he almost forgets the gravity his choices have on his entire world. Despite the risk it poses to his life and hers, he wants to know her, and he wants her to know him–and his world.

For More Information

  • Heartbound is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Heartbound teaser 1

Book Excerpt:

I defied my fate the moment I leapt out of my apartment’s third-story window. I landed on the pavement without a sound. In the same instant, my feet blended into the measured pace in which humans carried themselves.

Gazing up at the sky, I tried to find something to remind me of my home, of my duty. The future leader of a realm in peril cannot be overcome by irrational desires, I thought.

Thick smoke obscured the heavens so much even the brightest stars were dull and barely visible. A reminder I was trapped in this city, in this realm. Too far away from everything I knew, too restrained, too human.

Through the chaos in my mind, I captured the image of the girl with brown and dark-auburn tones in her hair, the shine that bounced from her loose curls, the depth in her hazel eyes, and even the awkward half-smile when she caught me looking at her. But the memory wasn’t enough. I needed to see her again.

I kept walking until I reached the riverbank in the heart of London. The water rippled with a disheveled mesh of gold and red, reflecting a large architectural structure. My gaze lingered on the clock tower adjacent to the building, gauging its height. A temptation to feel even a fraction of my true nature became a need in every fiber in my body. No longer able to rationalize, my muscles coiled, and I let go. Wind enveloped me with its familiar warmth as I sprang across the River Thames. I aimed to land on the lower portion of the tower, to indulge in the pleasure of my ascent. Though too fast for human eyes, each maneuver, each somersault, each back flip was slow enough for me to savor every moment of my liberation.

On a part of the roof concealed from the passersby below, I was closer to the heavens than I’d been since arriving in the city. Still, I didn’t belong here. Hundreds of lights sparkled below me, each representing a life I didn’t comprehend. Allowing myself to break free from my human façade had made me a liability to the others. For a few moments of freedom, I let myself forget the importance of my purpose here—the lives that depended on it.

Somehow, having the girl’s image in my mind brought calmness within me. One that felt permanent. One that extinguished the sense of entrapment, despite the thick layer of smoke that was still very visible to me. I held on to the calmness as I regained the confidence to face the others.

Watch the trailer!


About the Author:

P.I. AlltraineP.I. Alltraine is an award winning poet and author. She has won several international poetry competitions, and her poems have been published in separate anthologies.

She teaches English Language and Literature in London. She earned her degree in BA English from Queen Mary University of London, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and Master’s in Teaching at the UCL Institute of Education, University of London.

Before moving to London, she lived in the Philippines where she was ensconced in the rich culture encrusted with dark myths and enchanted tales. She draws inspiration from these in her writing. Although she has lived indifferent places and experienced different cultures, she always enjoyed the constancy of writing in her life. Her favourite authors include John Milton, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

Her latest book is the YA fantasy romance, Heartbound.

For More Information

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with J.J. DiBenedetto, author of The Dream series

J.J. DiBenedettoJ.J. (James) DiBenedetto was born in Yonkers, New York. He attended Case Western Reserve university, where as his classmates can attest, he was a complete nerd. Very little has changed since then.

He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his beautiful wife and their cat (who has thoroughly trained them both). When he’s not writing, James works in the direct marketing field, enjoys the opera, photography and the New York Giants, among other interests.

The “Dreams” series is James’ first published work.

For More Information

About the Book:

Sara Barnes thought her life was perfectly ordinary – until the night she began stepping into other people’s dreams.

Dream StudentFollow Sara as she learns to cope with this extraordinary gift (or curse) in the Dream Series:


It’s bad enough that, thanks to her supernatural talent, Sara is learning more than she ever needed to know about her friends and classmates, watching their most secret fantasies whether she wants to or not. Much worse are the other dreams, the ones she sees nearly every night, featuring a strange, terrifying man who commits unspeakable crimes. Now Sara wonders if she’s the only witness to a serial killer – and the only one who knows when and where he’s going to strike next.


Medical school and life as a newlywed would be enough by themselves for anybody to handle. But Sara’s got another problem – her dreams have started up again. Almost everyone at the medical school is dreaming about the death of the school’s least popular teacher, Dr. Morris, and once again, Sara finds herself in the role of unwilling witness to a murder before it happens. But this time, there are too many suspects to count, and it doesn’t help matters that she hates Dr. Morris every bit as much as any of his would-be murderers do.


Sara thought she had made peace with her dreaming talent, but she’s got a surprise coming: her four-year-old daughter has inherited it, too.

Unraveling a mystery with lives on the line is difficult enough under the best of circumstances. But when Sara has to view all the evidence through the eyes – and dreams – of a toddler, it may be an impossible task.

For More Information

  • The Dream Series is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

What made you decide to become a published author?

I’ve been writing since high school, but I only got serious about the idea of publishing in the last 3 years or so. After a friend published her first novel, I decided “why not me, too?” and got to work!

Would you consider your latest book to be a one of a kind? How so?

I’m not sure if it’s one of a kind, but I think my Dream Series has it’s own niche – it sits on the border of several genres: paranormal, romance and mystery, and those are all combined with the everyday challenges of life.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

My bedroom (although my cat thinks it’s HIS sanctuary too!)

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

I learned that no two people see it the same way. And that things I thought were very clear and obvious, sometimes weren’t!

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

Totally! The books take place in the real world (except for the part about the psychic dreams, of course!), and places I’ve lived and visited have become locations in the books. And people I’ve known have become “background extras” on occasion, too.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

I love the opera, and at some point I want to take a trip to Europe and visit three or four cities and see an opera in each of them. I just have to talk my wife into a trip like that (she’s like most sane people – she’d rather visit one place rather than a whirlwind tour like I’m thinking of!)

What’s next for you?

I’ve just published the tenth and final book of the Dream Series, so I’m working on my next project. I’ve actually got two books started and a third that I’m trying to figure out how to start writing. One’s a more traditional romance novel, one is an adventure along the lines of “Romancing the Stone” and the third, I’m not really sure what it even is yet!




Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Book Spotlight: Between the Cracks She Fell by Lisa de Nikolits

About The Book
TitleBetween The Cracks She Fell
Author: Lisa de Nikolits
Publisher: Inanna Publications
Publication Date: September 15, 2015
Format: Paperback / PDF
Pages: 350
ISBN:  978-1771332255
Genre: Suspense Thriller
Buy The Book: 
(Publication Date: September 15, 2015)
Barnes & Noble: TBA

Discuss this book in our PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads by clicking HERE

Book Description:
The award-winning author of The Hungry MirrorWest of WawaGlittering Chaos and The Witchdoctor’s Bones delivers an original and riveting new novel about societal betrayal, familial loss and religious jihad. A suspenseful and lyrical read, Between The Cracks She Fell is a powerful-first person narrative about the explosive consequences of betrayal, survival in troubled times and the pervasiveness of religious domination.

When Joss finds herself having to make mortgage payments without help from her depressed, stoner boyfriend who has just moved out, and the company she works for folds leaving her suddenly unemployed, she is forced to sell her house, on which she takes a financial loss. She decides to camp out in a vacant complex of school buildings to give herself time to decide what to do next. It turns out the building is used by a gang of teenagers for wild, drug-fueled parties and Jess soon finds herself both repelled by their charismatic evil leader, as well as sexually attracted to him. She knows he is dangerous even before she finds his girlfriend’s dead and violently abused body in the school library. During this time, she meets and befriends two other people in difficulty: Emma, a narcissistic thief living with her dog in a stolen car and Ashley, a young homosexual who is heartbroken by the fact that he has been expelled from the Jehovah’s Witness church because he is gay. When her former boyfriend reappears as a born again Christian, Joss is immersed in a journal she found that contains the thoughts of a Muslim teenager who becomes increasingly radicalized. Her struggle to understand her former boyfriend and this young man’s spiritual quests prepare her to make some hard decisions about her future. Between the Cracks She Fell is about a woman who falls off the grid and the explosive consequences of betrayal, survival in troubled times, and the pervasiveness of religious domination.

Book Excerpt:


I reached my destination with no great sense of joy but at least I wasn’t crying.

A purple, red and black pentagram marked the path ahead of me and the sea of grass rolled this way and that and my throat closed and my eyes stung but I swallowed the tears.

I tried to pretend I was Gibreel Farishta, a hero bigger than me; that tuneless soloist tumbling out of thin air; what an entrance, yaar.

First you have to die. Ho ji! Ho ji! How to ever smile again, if first you won’t cry?

But there would be no more crying for me. My former life was dead. I needed to escape for a while, hide out and then, once I got my energy back, I would figure out what came next.

Right now all I could say was that I was alive, and that is the point I guess, much like Gibreel, standing, with pigs falling out of his face and no God to help him.

I held my arms aloft and waded through the knotty field, as if paddling through an upward flowing river, pushing forward against the current.

The summer offered shoulder-high fragrant grasses laced with thistles and weeds and despite the misfortunes of past events, I was not blind to the beauty of the tiny lilac flowers or the red roses that grew wild and free.

I could see the buildings in the distance. It had been a while since I had seen them but they sprawled low at the other end of the playing fields, just as I remembered.

I had packed for the task at hand; knife, bottled water, flashlight, pillow. Kind of funny really, how natural this solution felt, like it was some kind of okay. It wasn’t the first time I’d purposefully left the grid; my first solo adventure had taken place when I was eleven. Tired of school, friends, mother, swimming lessons and tuck shop lunches, I hid out in a farmer’s shed, armed with books and apples and bars of chocolate. I stayed for two nights and two days, sleeping in a hairy horse blanket that I shook free of cobwebs and drew close around me, breathing in that rich scent of dry sage, dust, leather, sweat and all the other good things that horses smell of. I returned home when I ran out of food and reading material. Mum was furious but I wasn’t sorry; I’d done what I needed to do and it
was the same this time, although there was less choice in a sense, as I had in fact lost my house to the bank and my job to the recession and my boyfriend to a nervous breakdown.

I could think of no other way to heal, to regroup and to find the solo me that I could rely on. I had made a mistake, relying on Shayne but I would get over that. I would get over everything.

Book Trailer: http://bit.ly/1h9oqnN

 About The Author
Originally from South Africa, Lisa de Nikolits has been a Canadian citizen since 2003. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and Philosophy and has lived in the U.S.A., Australia and Britain.
Her first novel, The Hungry Mirror, won the 2011 IPPY Awards Gold Medal for Women’s Issues Fiction and was long-listed for a ReLit Award. Her second novel, West of Wawa won the 2012 IPPY Silver Medal Winner for Popular Fiction and was one of Chatelaine’s four Editor’s Picks. West of Wawa is available in bookstores and online.
Her third novel, A Glittering Chaos, launched in Spring 2013 to reader and review acclaim, and is about murder, madness, illicit love and poetry.

Her fourth novel, The Witchdoctor’s Bones was launched Spring 2014 to reader and literary acclaim. The Witchdoctor’s Bones is a thriller about the darkest secrets of African evil; the novel seamlessly weaves witchcraft and ancient folklore into a plot of loss, passion and intrigue and a holiday becomes a test of moral character.

Her fifth novel, Between The Cracks She Fell, will be published in Fall 2015 and has been called “a whirligig-ride into the dark recesses of “what-next? It is compelling and multi-layered penetrating and twisty tale of insurrection.”

“A lyrical and deeply moving examination of emotional pain and faith on a collision course with organized religion.  Lisa de Nikolits highly believable and human characters are outsiders struggling to find meaning, and perhaps hope, in contemporary urban society.  With a deft and confident clarity of style, she explores the complex interplay of faith, crime and social isolation. Highly recommended.” – M. H. Callway, award-winning author of Windigo Fire (Seraphim Editions).
Connect with Lisa:
Virtual Book Tour Event Page

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

First Chapter Reveal: Beautifully Shattered by Courtney Kristel

Beautifully ShatteredTitle: Beautifully Shattered
Author: Courtney Kristel
Publisher: Amazon
Pages: 412
Genre: Romantic Suspense

What would you do if your world fell apart right before your eyes? If everything you held dear was stolen before you had a chance to say goodbye, would you give up or keep fighting? Adalynn Maxwell didn’t decide to give up. She was robbed of her choice.

After years of therapy, Adalynn finally wants to move on and her brother’s sexy best friend Jax lures her further out of her shell. But she doesn’t understand his game and he changes the rules at every turn, making her fall into the waiting arms of the mysterious Doctor Kohen Daniels, whom she can’t seem to avoid. She’s terrified of trusting him, but something about him makes her want to bare her soul.

Adalynn is desperate for that all-consuming love she reads about, but doesn’t believe she deserves it. Her desperation to prove to Jax that she isn’t a little girl anymore may ruin her forever. One wrong decision can change her entire future. She has one last choice to make, but will it be ripped away from her like everything else? Will she pay the ultimate price?

For More Information

  • Beautifully Shattered is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

First Chapter:

Six years later . . .

Every Tuesday is the same for me. I work at the bakery in the mornings, go to my therapy appointment in the late afternoon, and finally I have dinner with the guys. The only thing that changes is the location. I live a simple life, well, as simple as I can manage after causing my parents’ and sister’s death six years ago on my seventeenth birthday.

My body automatically tenses. I stare at the blank eggshell walls in my penthouse and shove those memories in the back of my mind before they can haunt me. I tell myself to relax, but no matter how many times I try to get comfortable on my suede couch, I can’t seem to unwind. Ed Sheeran plays in the background, but the solace I usually feel listening to the calming music is missing. My hands itch to do the one thing that will bring a peaceful calm over me. I visualize using the sharp blade I keep taped underneath my sink, feeling the cold of the steel as it nips my skin. I can practically see the blood dripping down my thigh. I slap those images away, too. I’m not that girl anymore.

As soon as I woke up today, I immediately knew something was off. I can’t put it into words; it’s something that I can feel all the way to my bones. I haven’t been able to shake off this sensation all day. I try concentrating on anything but today’s date. It’s almost as if my mind is in a war with my heart. My soul won’t let me forget and my mind attempts to push me past it, to move on. Something changed between the time I closed my eyes last night and when I opened them this morning.

I’ve been in and out of therapy ever since the accident. My brother, Logan, insists that I continue to see Olivia White since I have made “noticeable progress” with her over the other therapists that I have seen since the accident. If he has to go out of town for work he leaves either Connor or Jax, his two best friends since childhood, to babysit me. In other words I’m not to be left to my own devices.

Within these last six years, Logan has become less of a brother and more of a parent. He moved me from California to Manhattan, sent me to college for a business degree, and bought me a penthouse in walking distance from his place. I refused to move in with him after graduation so he made sure that he didn’t have to wait in New York traffic to visit me. He feels better knowing that I’m close, so I don’t fight him on it.

Before the accident I wouldn’t have stood for Logan treating me like I’m made out of porcelain. After? I allowed it because I didn’t care about anything. Now I’m starting to crave the independence I gave up to my brother without a fight.

He takes protectiveness to a whole new level. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had one of my doctors insert a GPS tracker in me. I can’t really blame him, though. I’m the reason that we have no family and he’s almost lost me twice. He won’t allow there to be a third time.

It’s my night to host this week’s dinner. The boys had to leave for an emergency at the office, but promised to bring dinner. I already laid out the white plates that Logan bought me when he purchased the penthouse. Everything in here is white, just the way I like it. The only color comes from a painting, mounted above my couch, that the interior designer snuck in. It’s a shadow of a girl holding a bright yellow umbrella while the storm rages on, falling from the dark, unforgiving night sky. I allow it to stay because I can’t care about pointless decorations when all my energy goes into not giving up.

I’m antsy, counting the minutes since the guys left. Once they return, they’ll distract me. They’ll buy Thai food to please me, even though Jax hates it, they’ll paint smiles on their faces, and not voice what’s on everyone’s mind. Today, May 21, six years ago, my life was consumed by darkness, stealing my every promise of a happy future.

I grab my phone to see if any of the guys have texted. Nope. I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour staring into space. Fantastic. I can’t wait here and do nothing. I become lost in my thoughts and that’s never good. I force myself off the couch and change into workout clothes. Hopefully a few miles on the treadmill will chase this unnerving feeling out of my gut. I send Logan a quick text while I press the L button in the elevator.

Me: Gonna hit the gym. Bringing my phone. Call when you guys are leaving the office. Love you.

I don’t bother to put away my phone. No matter what he is doing, Logan will always respond to me. Always. Best brother award goes to him.

Logan: No problem. You might get a full hour in. This is taking longer than I expected or I would have waited until tomorrow to handle it. Love you too baby girl.

Logan: Oh and don’t forget to do weights too not just cardio.

I roll my eyes. Of course my meathead brother would remind me to do weights. He is such a body builder.

Me: I understand your need to take over the world so take your time. Just give me a heads up so I can shower.

I tiptoe through the lobby, hating how my footsteps echo on the marble floor. I look down and avoid anyone I pass. I don’t have the energy to smile and nod. Not today. Opening the glass doors to the gym, I ignore the Olympic size pool I can see from the entrance. It’s impossible to miss with the glass walls on one side. The pillars have vines wrapped around them, giving it the appearance of a magical place. I’ve never stepped in there even though it beckons me. From here, I know I’ll secretly love the decor, though, because it reminds me of the Greek Gods. Of him.

I head straight to the treadmill to clear my mind. I still don’t understand the point of continuing this stupid, futile charade of seeing Olivia White every other Tuesday afternoon. I think the whole idea is crazy. Nothing is going to change. I don’t want it to change. I don’t want to move on. I can’t. I need to remember what I did, who we lost.

I deserve to suffer unbelievable pain because of my actions. I am barely able to live now and what Liv wants seems impossible. That little voice in the back of my head thinks differently, though. I can do it. I can learn how to live again. I can have more. I want—

Nope, I shove that thought in the furthest part of my mind along with all the useless ones.

After a quick warm-up on the treadmill, I increase the speed. I focus on the sound of my feet hitting the belt with each step. I control my breathing the way my brother hammered into me at a young age when I got serious about working out. I wanted to strengthen my muscles for swimming. I spent hours upon hours training daily, never obtaining enough sleep. A small trail of sweat drips off my forehead and lands on the belt. My surroundings start to disappear as I replay today’s therapy session in my head.

“Adalynn, what do you think?”

I glance up from my hands and see Liv staring at me. I can tell from her disturbed expression this isn’t the first time she’s attempted to jostle me out of my thoughts.

“What’s the question? Sorry, Liv, I either stopped paying attention the moment I walked in, or the moment you brought up my dead parents and dead sister.”

I gawk at Liv, mortified. I can’t believe I actually said that out loud. I swear under my breath. “Sorry, Liv, I’m just distracted today.”

“Addie, you and I both know that I am used to your . . .” She pauses and I decide to help her out.

“Unique sense of humor?” I joke as I collect my long brown hair into a messy bun.

I wish that I took the time to gather my waves into a nice updo like she has done with her honey hair. She always looks so regal, something that I aspire to be. Even in a simple pair of black jeans, I carry myself as if I don’t have a care in the world. I refuse to let anyone see me as the broken twenty-four year old that I am.

“Let’s go with that. I’m used to your unique sense of humor by now. You can’t offend me. I want you to speak your mind. If you need sarcasm to do that, then by all means, just don’t shut me out, especially today of all days.”

Liv is my favorite therapist out of all of them. She always talks to me like I’m a human being, not just someone she has to focus on for an hour to get paid. I respect her as a person, but I still hate that she’s trying to encourage me to talk about them today. Although I was expecting it; after all it is the anniversary of their deaths. May 21, my birthday.

“Okay, I’m paying attention now. What was the question?”

I know the second the words leave my mouth I’m going to regret it. I should have just continued to tune her out until our session ended. My leg bounces up and down, a nervous habit of mine, when I notice the look she’s giving me. It’s the one that tells me I’m not going to take it well, but she’s going to say it anyways.

“I know discussing your family is extremely difficult, especially today. You can talk about them here, to me.” She pauses. “You think you don’t want to be here.” I manage to give a light nod. She is right after all. I don’t want to be here.

My gaze wanders to the panoramic window behind her like it usually does whenever she exposes my past. I can never seem to hold her gaze. Her thoughtful eyes are more knowing then I would like. I watch the outside world as she studies me. I know she’s waiting until she has my undivided attention before she speaks. I sigh loudly before turning my unwilling violet eyes back to her hazel ones.

“You’re wrong. You want to be here as much as your brother wants you here. There’s a point to this. I want to help you. We can sit here silently the entire time or we can talk. It’s up to you, Adalynn.”

I know I shouldn’t ask, but the words fall out of my mouth before I can stop them. “How are you so sure I want to be here, Liv?”

“You still come, don’t you? You can walk out at any second, but you don’t. You continue to show up for every appointment. Even though you fight with yourself, you still stay until the session is over. You don’t stay because of your brother. You stay because deep down you want to overcome your past, and that scares you.”

Olivia sees the wheels turning in my head. She waits for me to patiently digest what she’s saying. I study my hands again. There’s no point in arguing with her. As much as I hate to admit it, she’s right. It is scary. I don’t think I can move forward, I don’t think I deserve it. What if I fail and let everyone down again?

“Some people feel anger towards their family members because they’re furious that they left. It’s okay to be angry with them, Addie. Whatever you feel is okay. You need to let it out or it will consume you. If you don’t feel like you can talk to me, then talk to anyone you feel comfortable with. Little by little, you need to open up or you will never be able to move forward with your life.”

I bite my lip so hard it bleeds. I focus on that pain then the emptiness inside of me. The little bite isn’t enough so I dig my nails into my palms. Noticing the blood, I slowly relax my hand. I interlace my fingers together so that Liv doesn’t see. I stare at the tiny trail of blood that barely shows. It doesn’t take away the emptiness. I need more.

“I am angry. They died and I didn’t. I’m angry that my world stopped that night and nobody noticed. All night I thought someone would see us, that someone would help us, but nobody stopped. Everyone kept driving. So, yes, I am angry, Liv. My world sank into the darkness and everyone else went on with their lives while the most important people in my life were dying beside me. I was helpless, unable to do anything but . . .”

Words leave me. I can’t finish that thought. It’s too much. Too painful.

The session drags on. Liv continues to demonstrate patience. Towards the end of it, Liv straightens her shoulders as if preparing for battle.

“I need you to start living your life. Go out. Meet new people, even take a vacation. Just live without thinking about the past and how you shouldn’t be having fun because they’re gone, as you put it earlier. The past is just that, the past. You can’t change it; no matter how much you wish you could.”

My thoughts are anywhere but in this gym while I run on the treadmill. I play everything that Liv said on a continuous wheel in my head. It still seems surreal that she thinks I can go a month without seeing her, that I am ready to progress.

I have my doubts. My mind is going in circles. Suddenly I realize that I am sprinting and coming up on my ninth mile. I try to focus on the panel, but my vision has blurred. While chugging my water, I press the down button to slow my pace. As soon as I set my water down in the cup holder and reach for my towel, I’m seeing spots. The world tilts. Blindly I grope for the string to pull the emergency stop. Everything goes black before I hit the still moving track.

When I come to, I’m laying on the floor next to an unbelievably attractive man who’s leaning over to get a clear view of my face. His lips are moving, but all I hear is a loud ringing noise. My head hurts. I try to process what other body parts hurt, but all I can focus on is that it seems like someone took a sledgehammer to my head. I attempt to move and pain shoots up my ankle.

I breathe through the pain. Strong hands squeeze my shoulders. The hot guy is still talking. I can’t understand what he’s saying, or why he’s bending over me. He looks so edible, I end up staring into his dark blue eyes. They remind me of the ocean and a peaceful calm takes over me, but it’s short-lived when the pain comes back with a vengeance. Once the pain subsides to a more manageable level, I can focus on his words.

“Can you hear me? What’s your name? Do you know where you are?” Concern is evident in his voice.

He’s speaking slowly for my benefit. I struggle to sit up, but he presses his strong hands on my shoulders. Mr. Edible smirks at me.

“No you don’t, sweetie. Stay still until I know you’re okay. Can you tell me your name? Do you know where you are?”

The sudden desert that has taken residence in my throat makes speaking impossible. Mr. Edible lifts my head and tilts a cold water bottle to my dry lips. When he starts to pull it away, I grab it and gulp half of the water down.

“You should take sips right now.”

Wiping my mouth with the back of my hand, I roll my eyes. “Oh yeah, why’s that?”

“If you have a concussion, you could throw up,” he says.

Today is just not my day. Of course I would be the one to hurt myself on a treadmill and attract a cocky Good Samaritan.

“Adalynn,” I say in a calm voice, answering his question from earlier.

He raises an eyebrow expectantly. Right . . . he asked two questions. He couldn’t just walk away and leave me here. I find it hard to believe that he would be able to turn his back on someone needing help. There’s something about him that screams Mr. Good-Guy.

The light bulb goes off.

“At the gym.” Who has the smug smile now, Mr. Edible?

Gazing into his eyes, I’m aware I’m not fooling him with my casual act. I also know from previous experiences that I need to stay calm so I can talk him down from doing something rash like calling 911. I need to extinguish this situation so I can make it back to my apartment before the guys return. I’ll pretend like everything is fine and go to the doctor tomorrow. Ha, who am I kidding! I’m not going to the doctor tomorrow. I can’t remember the last time I voluntarily went for a check up.

“How are you feeling?” he ask as he interrupts my thinking process. “You were out for a couple of minutes. Your forehead’s still bleeding, not as bad though.” Pausing, he moves so he can examine my leg. As he touches my ankle, I wince. “You may have a sprain. You’ll need an X-ray to be sure.”

Ah, it’s my ankle, not my entire leg, that’s a little more comforting. That will be easier to hide from the guys. I need a mirror to know how bad my face looks. From the throbbing pain on my forehead, my guess would be anywhere from horrible or death. My guess is on the latter.

“Fuuuccckkkk!” I draw that one syllable into about twenty, give or take, when he starts twisting my ankle.

“I’m sorry,” he says once I’m done screaming. “I’m just checking for breaks. Do you have a boyfriend that I can call before we head to the hospital?”

That one word causes me to go into full blown panic. I sit up way too quickly, making him drop my ankle on the floor. I’m surprised my earsplitting scream doesn’t break the glass doors. Once the pain subsides, I try to stand only to fail. Graciously, he helps me to my feet and leads me to a nearby bench.

“I really don’t need to go to the hospital,” I tell him when he pulls his cell phone out of his basketball shorts. I wave him off, hoping to convey that this isn’t as bad as it seems. “Honestly this is no big deal, just a scratch.” I shrug, eyes glued to the silver device that will seal my fate.


I hold up my hand, silencing him. “No, really, I’m fine. I just need to go back up to my place. I’m a little lightheaded, but we don’t need to make an unnecessary scene. You don’t need to call anyone. Once the bleeding—”

He cuts me off with a glare that clearly says “don’t mess with him.” The Good Samaritan that I’m somehow stuck with isn’t going to give up.

“Listen, Adalynn, you need stitches. This is too deep for just a Band-Aid.” He stares at my forehead. “You also might’ve suffered a concussion, not to mention you need to have your ankle checked out and be possibly fitted for crutches.

I give him my most pleading look. “Please, just help me to my apartment. I have crutches somewhere in one of my closets from the last time I decided to do a gravity check. The bleeding has stopped. I’ll go to the hospital if I need to. I know all the signs of a concussion. This isn’t my first accident.” And it won’t be my last, I’m sure. Clumsiness doesn’t even begin to describe my unique quality of walking skills.

He shakes his head. “Give me your boyfriend’s number so he can meet you at the hospital.”

Okay, now, I’m mad. Who does he think he is? Good Samaritan or not, he doesn’t get to boss me around. Since standing isn’t an option, I sit up straight, attempting to appear taller. “Look, buddy, I already told you I’m not going to the hospital. So either help me back to my apartment or move out of my way.”

Rubbing his face, he says in a forced calm voice, “Fine Adalynn, you win. But I need to grab my emergency bag from my apartment. You will call me if there are any signs you need to go to the hospital. Take it or leave it.”

Without waiting for a response, he stands and gathers towels to support my ankle. Once he’s satisfied that I’m not going anywhere, he glances down at me with a question in his eyes.

“Fine. Hurry up.”

“I’ll be right back. I don’t need to ask you to stay put because with that ankle you’re not going anywhere.” He gives me one last smirk before walking away. At the door he turns and asks, “And what about your boyfriend, do you need to borrow my phone to call him?” He holds up the phone in question.

“Nope, no boyfriend so nobody to call.”

He shoots me a knowing grin before leaving. Why didn’t I ask for his name? I’m about to have a random, hot, controlling guy escort me to my apartment, and I didn’t even ask for his name. Smart. What was that nonsense about him retrieving his bag? Deciding I don’t really care, I rest my eyes.

They spring open when something cold presses on my ankle. It’s hard to focus at first, but when my I adjust to the bright lights in the gym I see my sexy stranger wielding a bag of ice.

I ask the most basic question that I should have asked from the beginning. “Does my knight in shining armor come with a name? Or should I just pick one from my favorite fairy tales? I have to warn you, though, my fairy tales are different from Disney.”


“Instead of reading to me, my Dad made up his own fairy tales.”

He chuckles. “Do I remind you of the knights in shining armor?”

I shrug. “There weren’t really any knights in shining armor. The princess always saved the day. She didn’t need anyone to rescue her.”

I’m surprised that I just told that information to a stranger. I never open up. Never. There’s something about him that makes me want to bare my soul. Which means I need to shut up. This can only be heading somewhere dangerous.

He rummages into his bag and pulls out a pair of gloves and a white bottle with a spray cap before answering. “Kohen Daniels. Now hold still. This may hurt a little.”

Before waiting for me to catch on, he sprays the liquid on a cotton ball and then gently cleans my forehead. I scream a string of profanity that would make any sailor proud.

“Well, lucky for you I was wrong,” Kohen says after cleaning the wound.

“Oh?” I ask through my teeth. The sting is still fresh in my mind.

“You won’t need stitches. I have butterfly stitches that will keep this closed and it’ll heal nicely.”

He finishes cleaning the wound and applies the final bandage. Lightly he brushes his fingertips over my cheek and down my jaw. As he stares into my eyes, I feel a pull that I have only felt with one other person. Right when I think he is going to lean in, he quickly averts his attention to my ankle.

“I need to wrap your ankle and then I can help you back to your apartment.”

Not trusting my voice, I nod. What just happened? I must have hit my head a lot harder than I thought.

He wraps my ankle with practiced ease. Without asking, I know immediately that he’s a great doctor. Women must fall at his feet with those dark blue eyes and sandy blond hair that can’t seem to stay in place. I know without a doubt that he has an incredible body to match his handsome face. There’s no hiding it, even with a black sweatshirt on. When he’s satisfied with his work, he stands and holds out his hand for me. Smiling, I take it and wobble to his side.


Kohen must have collected my things when I was resting because now he is slinging the strap of my gym bag over his shoulder along with his medical bag. We’re standing so close that all I have to do is look up and our lips will meet. My hands fidget at my sides because I can’t make myself kiss him. The attraction I feel for him is foreign. My heart forever belongs to another.

Slowly, his hands trail from my shoulder to my wrists and back up again. By the second time his hands glide down my arms, goosebumps cover my whole body. As much as I don’t want to look up, I tilt my head back. My violet eyes connect with his azure ones. His hand caresses my face as he leans into me. Logic kicks in at the same time the gym doors bang open.

Kohen manages to angle his body in front of mine and yet he’s still supporting my weight. He watches me as Jax comes running around the corner in a desperate search for something, for me.

“Ads!” he shouts with relief.

I’m ogling him without shame, Kohen forgotten. My gaze is drawn to his brown hair that is styled in it’s usual messy fohawk, his forest green eyes, and his sinfully kissable lips. Everything is the complete package and I haven’t even taken in his body yet. I barely try to fight the pull I always feel when he’s around. He’s wearing a simple maroon dress shirt, first two buttons undone, with the sleeves rolled up displaying his tattooed arms. Once there was a time where I was able to study every picture, every black detail on his tanned arms. I would spend hours tracing every curve of his body.

Suddenly Jax comes to an abrupt halt when he sees the blood on my shirt, the bandage on my forehead, and me balancing on one leg. From the expression on his face, I can tell that his relief is short-lived. Sighing, I pinch the bridge of my nose and helplessly try not to make it obvious that I wished things were different between us, but they’re not. I’m just Logan’s little sister to him now.

“Please don’t start. I’m fine. I was on my way back to my place when you came storming in here.” Taking a deep breath to stall, I silently beg him to not make a big deal of this. I know there’s no use, he’s just as bad as my brother. “Please . . . just don’t, Jax.”

The only way this could be any worse is if Logan found me. At least with Jax I have a small window where he might be reasonable. With my brother I have no chance. It’s always take charge first, ask questions later. I know I only have a minute, maybe two if I’m lucky, to convince Jax not to make a scene. Suddenly I remember Kohen next to me. It’s amazing how just Jax’s presence can command a room.

I hate it.

“Seriously, Jax, I’m fine. Kohen,” I add pointing to the man still holding me upright, “is a doctor and he’s already looked me over. Gave me a clean bill of heath and everything. I just need to stay off the ankle and we both know I have crutches somewhere in my apartment.”

I’m wearing a huge grin knowing that I’ve talked my way out of this until the traitor opens his big fat mouth. “Actually I’ve been trying to convince her to go to the hospital for an X-ray. I don’t think anything is broken, but it wouldn’t hurt to have her examined. There’s a good chance she has a concussion.”

Kill me now.

My grin is now a scowl. I can’t believe Kohen ratted me out. Great, hospital here I come. Jax doesn’t say anything. He smiles that crooked smile I secretly love, the one that says he knows exactly what I’m thinking. Reaching into his black slacks, he grabs his vibrating phone.

“Yeah, man, found her. No idea, I haven’t asked yet. No, you’re going to need to meet us in the lobby. We need to make a quick run to the emergency room. Calm down, she’s fine. Yeah, tell Connor to bring the car around. Oh, I’m sure, I didn’t ask that either.” Pulling the phone away from his ear, he curses quietly so that my brother can’t hear. “Calm down, Logan. She’s fine. Yeah, I know. See you in a second.”

When Jax hangs up, he opens his mouth to speak. I hold up my hand. “No, Jax. Just don’t. Save it, okay? Let’s go before Logan loses his mind.”

I rub the side of my temple, hating that there’s a stranger witnessing the bubble that I live in. Wisely, Jax nods without saying anything. Turning slightly to face Kohen, I give him a weak smile that I don’t feel. “Thanks again for everything.”

Because I can’t help myself and I want to see Jax suffer, I rise up on my good foot and kiss his cheek. I hear a growl and have to bite my lip to keep from beaming.

Kohen smiles down at me, ignoring a steaming Jax. “You’re welcome . . . let’s try to be more careful next time?”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

Momentarily forgetting about my ankle, I stumble towards Jax, which makes both Jax and Kohen reach for me. There’s one on each side of me, helping me from face-planting.

“Jesus, Ads, stop trying to kill yourself.” I don’t have time to respond before Jax sweeps me up into his arms and cradles me to his chest. Jax grins down at me when I glare at him.

“Thanks for helping her,” he tells Kohen, his green eyes fixed on mine.

Then Jax strolls out of the gym without waiting for a reply. I bury my head into his chest from embarrassment. God, could he act anymore like a caveman? When we reach the door I take a quick look over Jax’s shoulder. Kohen hurls his medical equipment back into his bag.

“You don’t need to carry me,” I tell Jax.

“No, but I want to. Besides if your brother sees me letting you limp your way to the car, I’ll be dead.”

My brain has short-circuited. Jaxon Chandler wants to carry me. He wants me in his arms. I know I’m making a bigger deal out of this then I need to, but I can’t help it. This is Jax. The man that I’ve been in love with for as long as I can remember.

“Besides, most women would love to be in my arms.”

Ignoring the pain in my chest, I smirk at him. “Don’t flatter yourself, Jax, those women only want your money. The rest of us don’t want to hurt your feelings. You’re not as good-looking as you think.” We both know I’m lying. He is the very definition of beautiful.

“Great,” I mumble under my breath when we reach the lobby.

Connor leans against the wall idly typing on his phone while Logan paces. Logan rushes to my side. He tries to grab me from Jax, whose hold on me tightens.

“No, I got her. She doesn’t need to move more than necessary with her ankle.”

Logan nods while sliding off his suit jacket from his buff shoulders to lay it over me. “Thanks, man. You okay, Addie?”

“Of course. I’m a little tired, though, so maybe we should go back up to my place and watch a movie?”

His light blue eyes that are the exact replica of our father’s plead with me not to fight with him. I give him a tight nod. There’s so much of our father in him; his build, his tone of voice, even his brown hair. I have that, too. We both have our mother’s smile. Thanks to our mom I was blessed with her rare shade of violet eyes.

Logan kisses the top of my head. “Not a chance, baby girl,” he says using Dad’s nickname for me. To Jax he says, “Let’s go.”

Putting away his phone, Connor hurries over to the door to hold it open for us. The chill in the spring night air washes over me. I burry myself closer into Jax’s warm chest, secretly loving his potent cologne. I breathe deeply once before watching Connor’s 6’6’’ frame clear out the back seat of his car.

Like my brother, Jax treats me as if I’m a porcelain doll as he maneuvers me in the car. By the time he has the buckle in place I’m covered in goosebumps and it’s not from the cold. Jax is so close, but still so many miles away from me.

After making sure that I’m comfortable in the back, Logan surprises me by manning the wheel. He hardly drives since the accident. He utilizes his massive amounts of money and has a full-time driver. I feel his fear resembles mine in a way, even if he wasn’t there that dreadful night.

I nearly groan when Jax settles himself next to me and Connor slides into the passenger seat. I was hoping that Connor would sit with me. It would be easier to keep my distance from Jax. When we finally arrive at the hospital, Connor rushes to snag a wheelchair for me while the rest of us wait in the car.

Logan breaks the silence. “You didn’t think to call us?”

I turn to face the window. “No, I was a little preoccupied. Besides, I knew you three would make a big deal out of this.” I wave my hand down my body.

Luckily, Connor returns with the wheelchair before Logan or Jax can respond.

“All right, Addie, you know the drill,” Connor says.

Jax picks me up like I’m a child and sets me in the chair. I breathe my first breath of fresh air since being in his arms. Being so close to him yet so far away is torture.

I sigh dramatically for his benefit. “Oh, well thank you, kind sir. I don’t know how I would have made it the whole half a step to the wheelchair without you.”

Someone clutches my hand. I look up and smile at Connor. His tall frame bends slightly so that he can continue to hold my hand while Logan steers me towards the automatic doors. I watch Connor as we near the entrance. Not for the first time, I wish that I felt something for him besides friendship. It would be so much easier to be in love with the blond stud squeezing my hand, but of course I consider him a brother. He brushes his long hair behind his ears. It’s only then that I realize his wrist is missing the pink hair-tie I gave him earlier. Without saying anything, I give him the extra I keep on my wrist just for him. He smiles appreciatively as he gathers his shoulder-length hair into one of those manly ponytails at the bottom of his head.

My anxiety rises the closer I’m wheeled to the hospital’s doors. Ever since the accident, I avoid them. Well, I try to at least; me being accident-prone doesn’t help with my fear since the guys always insist on me seeing a doctor. Logan wheels me into the crowded Emergency Room at New York Presbyterian Hospital, oblivious that I’m dying inside.

Jax walks up to the counter like he owns the place. Flashing the receptionist his trademark smile he says, “I need to have someone look at my friend Adalynn Maxwell. She hit her head pretty badly and we’re worried she might have a concussion.”

He’s so charming it should be illegal. The lady doesn’t shift her focus from the computer screen; apparently there are women immune to Jax’s charm. That’s just too bad. Really, my heart breaks for him.

“You’re going to need to fill this out and wait in the waiting room like everyone else.” She hands him a clipboard with the paperwork attached. When Jax doesn’t make a move for it, Connor is forced to seize it.

“I didn’t introduce myself earlier, my apologies. I’m Jaxon Chandler, as in the owner of Trinity. Which happened to give the largest donation this year at the pediatric fundraising event last week.”

He doesn’t even wait for the light bulb to go off. I’m surprised how fast she recognizes the name of their company. Understanding dawns on me when I glance around. The new self-help posters have the Trinity logo in the lower left corner. What doesn’t their company dabble in these days?

“I would like Miss Maxwell in a private room and to be seen by the best neurologist.”

She’s already standing and walking around the counter. She might be immune to Jax’s charm, but she doesn’t want to piss off their biggest paycheck. I doubt their CEO, who I know just went golfing with Logan, would be happy to hear from a fuming Jax. I have to try extremely hard not to laugh at her sudden willingness to help. It’s hilarious how name-dropping can change people, even in a hospital, where it shouldn’t matter.

“Of course, sir. I can have someone show you to Miss Maxwell’s room right away. Unfortunately you will have to see the on-call doctor, as our head of neurology has the night off. I assure you Miss Maxwell will be in good hands.”

Connor groans with me. Jax ignores both of us. She couldn’t have just kept quiet, could she? No, it’s not like she would have known that Jax isn’t a man to be deterred. I tremble when he slams his strong hands on the counter. He glares at her as if she just said the most outrageous thing in the history of the world.

“That’s unacceptable. I want the best. Make it happen or do I need to call Don?” He reads her name tag. “Mrs. Adams?”

“My apologies, sir. I’ll have someone take her for all the tests while you wait for the doctor. It might take awhile longer since this is his only day off this week.”

Mrs. Adams calls over a nurse to manage the desk before snatching the wheelchair from Logan. The guys are forced to hurry along after us to catch up. I have to hand it to Mrs. Adams, she doesn’t just take it lying on her back. Go her! I pick imaginary lint off my bright orange leggings as Mrs. Adams silently pushes me. I stare straight ahead as we pass through the doors that she has to use a keycard to access. The urge to break the silence is overwhelming.

“I’m sorry about him. He’s harmless, by the way,” I tell her as she wheels me into a room.

“Yeah, he’s like a rabid dog without teeth.” I turn just in time to see Jax slap the back of Connor’s head. “Ow!”

I can tell from her tight smile that Mrs. Adams wishes she were anywhere else right now. Can’t say that I blame her. She starts to help me from the chair, but Jax pushes her out of the way.

“I got her.”

My jaw drops. He needs to stop acting this way in front of Logan. I force myself not to react to his closeness as he lifts me up before gently laying me in the bed.

“Your nurse will be right in.” Mrs. Adams inches her way closer to the door.

“You’re not my nurse?” I ask, surprised.

After a shake of her head, she slips out the door.

“Jax, any doctor would have been fine.” I let my annoyance show in my voice. “I’m pretty sure they all went to medical school, but who knows, some might have gone to clown school.”

Jax ignores me as he makes a point of walking over to Logan, who’s leaning against the far wall across from the bed. I’m still irritated that I’m here when a male nurse knocks on the door. He couldn’t have come at a better time. Being here is making my entire body tense. Pretty soon I’m going to snap. Hopefully nobody is here to witness it.

Forty-five minutes later I have my ankle re-wrapped. Just a bad sprain, thank goodness; I just have to wait for the doctor to go over my CT scan. I survey the room for Jax, but he’s missing. I want to ask where he’s gone, but I don’t want to clue in Logan to my feelings for his best friend. Talk about awkward.

“Don’t be so hard on them, Addie,” Connor says, “You know they’re both just worried.”

I frown at my best friend, hating that he’s right. He’s known me my entire life, and he’s usually the one who makes those two see reason when it comes to me. He’s like another big brother. I love him even if he annoys me 99 percent of the time.

I stare at Logan as he types away on his phone, probably responding to the thousand of emails he receives daily. As I inspect him closer I notice the shadows under his eyes. Without asking, I know he didn’t sleep last night. Most likely he was restless like me, remembering everything we lost. But unlike me, he doesn’t have the gory, haunting memories I do. I’m glad as my brother doesn’t deserve to suffer like me. He’s innocent.

“I know, Connor. I’m not mad at them. I just wish Jax didn’t make a big deal out of this. Between the two of them, I don’t know who’s worse.”

His twin dimples are prominent. “If you haven’t noticed, Jax likes to make a show out of everything when it comes to you.” Before I can say anything, he quickly changes the subject. “Have you picked your dress for the Masquerade Ball yet or are you—” He breaks off when there’s a soft knock on the door.

We all turn to see a tall, muscular doctor with sandy blond hair that just can’t seem to stay in the right place. Tonight is getting better and better.


Leave a comment

Filed under First Chapter Reveal, Romantic Suspense

Roped In Book Blitz

Roped In blitz banner

We’re happy to be hosting K.D. Hays’ ROPED IN BOOK BLITZ today!

Roped In

Title: Roped In
Author: K.D. Hays
Publisher: K.D. Hays
Pages: 140
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the administrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it’s because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.

But she soon gets her chance. The firm’s insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.

Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.

Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen’s investigation seems to indicate that the parrot’s owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen’s suspicion.

At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley’s sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister’s rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.

But she doesn’t have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.

For More Information

  • Roped In is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:
“And you promise that you can be discreet?”

“Of course.” We’d never mingled with nobility or the rich and famous, but we had done work for the old moneyed families in Maryland and knew some of them could be passionate about maintaining their privacy.

“Good,” she murmured, and again I had the sense that she was going through a checklist. I wondered if she might be the personal assistant to a rich woman who needed us to find missing heirloom jewels or locate the beneficiary of a testator’s unexpected bequest.

“I need to hire an investigator,” she said, rather redundantly.

“Yes,” I said, trying to be patient as my gaze strayed to the clock. I was going to have to flat-out run down to Main Street to make it to the salon on time. But it would be worth it if I was able to rope in a new client. With this woman’s educated voice and concerns about discretion, I thought we might be looking at something substantial. Even if it was just a woman wishing to keep tabs on her husband, she might be a client with enough money to pay for a extensive investigation. So I didn’t want to make her feel rushed.

“Why do you want to hire an investigator?” I asked gently.

“I need an investigator. Your best investigator,” she said firmly. “To find out who broke my daughter’s jump rope.”

About the Author

K.D. Hays

Kate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction. As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays. When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter.

Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.

For More Information

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Interview with Lisa Tillinger Johansen, author of ‘Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off!’

Lisa Tillinger JohansenOur guest today is Lisa Tillinger Johansen, author of the nonfiction book Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off!  Lisa is a Registered Dietitian who counsels clients on a wide range of health issues. Her debut nutrition book, Fast Food Vindication, received the Discovery Award (sponsored by USA Today, Kirkus and The Huffington Post). She lives in Southern California.

Her latest book is the nonfiction/nutrition/health book, Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!

For More Information

Stop the Diet A

What made you decide to become a published author?

I’m a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutritional science. I work as a health educator and teach and counsel clients on a variety of topics including weight management, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, kidney disease and more. In my practice, I see so many people who have questions about diets, weight loss, healthy eating and overall nutrition. I help them and wanted to help people outside of my client base. So I wrote my first book, Fast Food Vindication, which was a success and won several awards. And I followed that with my now bestselling book Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off!

Would you consider your latest book, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off!, to be a one of a kind? How so?

I do. There really isn’t a book quite like mine that looks at the pros and cons of dozens of good, fad and bad diets and ultimately provides the reader with a healthy eating plan for life. It’s a one-stop reading experience for all those who are looking for the right diet, weight-loss and management plan with tips and resources to adhere to it for life.

Where is your writing sanctuary?

I like to write on the couch in my family room with the TV on and my dogs cuddling next to me. I use a laptop computer and have my research in bins on the floor by my feet. It’s perfect.

What do you believe a writer should not do as far as getting his or her book published?

A writer shouldn’t give up. Keep at it, don’t get discouraged and figure out a way around any obstacles in your path. I also think it’s very important to have an editor take a pass at your book. No matter how good a writer we may be, there’s always a way to make it better and objective eyes will help us do that.

What inspires you?

My clients inspire me. I’ve worked with a lot of them for many years and it’s great to see them lose weight (if needed), lower cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and more. There’s nothing more gratifying than helping people.

What is one thing you learned about your book after it was published?

The power of social media in getting the word out. So thank you for giving me this opportunity.

Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?

Real life experiences abound in my books. And stories about my less healthy-eating husband are sprinkled throughout.

Aside from writing, what’s your passion?

I love to travel and take every opportunity to do so. I just got back from a trip to Spain and Portugal which was fantastic. Next I’m off to Iceland and Norway. I can’t wait!

What’s next for you?

I’m working on my outline and research for my next book. I don’t take too much time off between books.

About the Book:

Stop the Diet 2Title: Stop the Diet, I Want To Get Off!
Author: Lisa Tillinger Johansen
Publisher: J. Murray Press
Pages: 350
Genre: Nonfiction/Nutrition/Health

The Paleo. The Zone. The Gluten-free. Another day, another diet. We’re caught in a never-ending merry-go-round of weight loss plans, fueled by celebrity endorsers, TV doctors and companies angling for a piece of a $60 billion industry. But do these diets really work? And how healthy are they?

Registered Dietitian Lisa Tillinger Johansen examines dozens of the most wildly popular diets based on medical facts, not hype. And along the way, she reveals tried-and-true weight loss strategies, relying on her years of hospital experience, weight-loss seminars and community outreach efforts. With insight and humor, Stop The Diet, I Want To Get Off shows that the best answer is often not a trendy celebrity-endorsed diet, but easy-to-follow guidelines that are best for our health and our waistlines.

For More Information

  • Stop the Diet, I Want to Get Off! is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.



Leave a comment

Filed under Author Interviews