Friday, July 29, 2016

If I Loved You by Mary J. Williams

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: March 2016
Publisher: Brook Publications

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On Sale $.99 until the end of July 

If You Only Wanted One Night Would You Take A Chance On a Man Who Wanted Forever? 

Rose O'Brian wants to spice up her love life and Jack Winston seems like the answer. Sexy, funny and a killer smile, Jack is every woman's fantasy. All she wants is one night of passion, nothing more. But Jack has a secret that stops him from taking her up on her offer, stops him from having the one thing he wants more than his next breath--beautiful Rose O'Brian. Rose has her own secrets. Emotionally scared, she's never believed in happily ever afters. But for the first time she's met a man who makes her want to open her heart, to dream of love. When Rose's past rears its ugly head can she finally let go and overcome the hurt? Can Jack convince her to take a chance and embrace a future with him? Can he show her that love is there if she will only reach out and take it?.

Other books in the Harper Falls Romance Series:

Publisher: Brook Publications
Published: May 2015

Welcome back to Harper Falls, WA, a place where love is in the air, but danger is just around the corner. Dani Wilde had already met the love of her life and lost him. Two weeks of passion and romance five years ago. Then he had walked away. Dani thought she had moved on, She dated, enjoyed the company of other men, even thought that she was keeping her heart open to the possibility of another love. But when Alex Fleming rode his motorcycle into Harper Falls, she knew she had been kidding herself. Her heart was still his. Alex Fleming knew what was waiting for him in Harper Falls. His sister, his best friend, a good job, and the woman he'd spent the last five years dreaming about--trying to forget. At the time, walking away had seemed like the only way. Now he has a second chance, but it isn't just his personal demons keeping him from Dani, his past is about to put the only woman he's ever loved in danger. He has a choice, walk away again or stay and fight. Love has a way of catching up with you. Dani and Alex are getting a second chance at their happily ever after. Now they just have to be strong enough to take it.

Publisher: Brook Publications
Published: August 2015

Tyler and Drew’s Story
He broke her heart. Now, ten years later he’s finally going to tell her why.

Tyler Jones and Drew Harper.
They came from different worlds.
They weren’t supposed to fall in love.

Teenagers on the brink of adulthood they gave into an uncontrollable attraction, sharing their hopes, fears, and their bodies. The plans they made in secret kept them going until they could leave the small town of Harper Falls and pursue their dreams.

Drew wanted to break free from his family’s wealth and influence, he wanted to make it on his own. Tyler was an artist. People in her hometown laughed at the idea of a girl with her background making anything of herself. Together they planned on conquering the world.

Without warning Drew pulled away. He left town without an explanation, crushing Tyler’s heart.

Now they’re both back where it all started and Drew can finally tell Tyler what really drove them apart. They have a second chance at love. But there are some people who will stop at nothing to keep them apart. Not even murder.

Publisher: Brook Publications
Published: October 2015

Lila Fleming.
Good sister. Good friend. Good girl.
Lila spends her life walking a straight line. No swerves. No excitement. Her future seems mapped out. A very boring future. One where her secret dreams will never see the light of day.
Then one snow-filled day, she meets a man who will shake up her routine, capture her heart, and help make all her dreams come true.

Welcome to a Harper Falls Christmas. Filled with laughs, old friends, and a happily ever after. Oh, and Cooper. A dog who will steal your heart.

About the Author

Mary J. Williams is an author from Washington State who went to school in a small town on the Columbia River. She loves writing, reading, and football.  She always wanted to write a novel and she always knew it would be a romance novel. But it wasn’t until her favorite football team lost the Super Bowl on the last play with an interception, that this dream began to come to fruition. She was so depressed that she tuned out all the media. Without television, internet, or newspapers, she had nothing else to do, so she sat down and started writing. Her first romance series, Harper Falls contains four books. Mary has released two new series in 2016, Hollywood Legends and One Pass Away (which combines her love of football with her love of romance).

Contact Links

Purchase Links

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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Book Blitz + giveaway: Copper Veins by Jennifer Allis Provost

Copper Veins
Jennifer Allis Provost
(Copper Legacy #3)
Publication date: July 26th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Sara’s pretty sure her life is perfect.
Not only are she and Micah finally married, her father, who’d been missing since the Magic Wars, has been found. Actually, he just strode up to the manor’s front door, but whatever. Sara knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth.
But Baudoin Corbeau isn’t content to return to family life. He’s decided that he will be the force of change in the Mundane world, and lead the Elemental resistance to victory with his children at his side. What’s worse, Baudoin doesn’t approve of Sara’s marriage, and makes every attempt to separate her from Micah.
After a visit to the Mundane realm leaves Sara, Max and Sadie imprisoned by the Peacekeepers, Sara’s doubts creep to the surface. Is her father right? Does she belong in the Mundane realm, not the Otherworld? Is Micah really the right man–make that elf–for her?
Was marrying him a mistake?
Previous books in the series:
16193519 18812985
We walked all the way back to the manor instead of traveling by the much faster metal pathways. While he didn’t say as much, I understood that Micah wanted the extra time to clear his head, and I was content to while away the rest of the morning with him. “I’m still a bit… grumpy about being cheated out of our wedding night,” I muttered as we walked.
“Grumpy?” Micah repeated. We’d stopped beside a stream to relax and splash some cool water on our faces. “That is not quite the word I would have chosen.”
“Really?” I’d found a stubby branch, and was doodling in the mud while I sat on a rock, my back to the water. “And what word would you choose, General Silverstrand?”
“Hush. I have not filled that role for a long, long time.” He leaned over and nuzzled the soft spot behind my ear. “Lonely. Bereft. Frustrated. Unmarried.”
“Micah, it’s only been one night.”
“Yes, but until our marriage is consummated, we are not as one. The officiant said as much during our ritual.”
I recalled the actual words of the ceremony—at the time, I’d been too elated to dissect their meaning, but Corporal Rawson had said, “And once you know her as your wife, you are forever joined as one.” I hadn’t realized that that was what they meant, but I suppose it made sense. At least it was an easier requirement than babies.
“Are all marriages like that?” I asked. I felt Micah’s mouth curl into a smile.
“I don’t know. I have only been married once.” He nipped at my ear and added, “As for this marriage, I know that I must lie with you to seal our vows.”
“Well,” I murmured, stretching my neck for more kisses, “I guess we’d better get on that.”
“I agree.” Micah leaned forward to kiss me on the mouth, but he halted when he saw the result of my mud doodles. I had stabbed and slashed at the ground until it looked like a rabid buffalo had churned up the soil. “Sara, what is troubling you?”
Normally, I would have denied any troubles in favor of more kissing, but that’s pretty hard to do when the evidence is right in front of you. “Do… do you think it’s weird that Dad just showed up? I mean, we’ve been looking for him forever, and he just walks right up to the front door?”
Micah pursed his lips, taking a deep breath before he replied. “Weird? Perhaps. However, your father’s return is an unprecedented turn of good fortune. And on our wedding day, no less.”
“I love it when you say that.”
“‘Our wedding day.’”
Micah took the stick from me and pulled me to my feet. “Soon, I will be telling you about our wedding night.” He tossed the stick into the stream and tugged me back toward the road and the manor. “Come, my love, my wife, and let me bring you home.”

Author Bio:
Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. When she’s not writing about things that go bump in the night (and sometimes during the day) she’s working on her MFA in Creative Nonfiction.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Book tour + giveaway : The Proverbial Mr. Universe Maria La Serra

The Proverbial Mr. Universe
Maria La Serra
Publication date: June 27th 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Dear girl with the red scarf,
Love was never meant to be conquered;
you have to surrender to it.
Trust me. After all, I am Mr. Universe.
When the universe conveys a message, you listen.
Olivia Montiano just caught her fiancé cheating. Now she is forced to question what she wants out of life and love. Striving to live up to her father’s unrealistic standards for the past twenty-three years, every decision she has ever made was with her father’s wishes in mind—until she finds mysterious, handwritten letters tucked away in places only meant for her. That’s when she realizes she’s been on the wrong path all along and gives her heart to a guy her father thinks is entirely wrong.
Washed-up abstract artist Nick Montgomery has had quite a few setbacks in life. He’s become accustomed to never needing anyone, thinking he’s just fine—until he meets the girl with the red scarf. She’s not his type. But the universe has other ideas. Nick has a secret he’s keeping from her, afraid it will bring their new relationship to a sudden halt.
Will they figure out what the universe holds for them?

She looked away, self-conscious, turning her attention to the canvases around the room. “So are you going to show me the reason you brought me here?” Olivia’s eyes grew darker.
Nick tried to swallow the knot in his throat.
What was the reason?
He didn’t realize it was going to be this difficult, to be so close and not be able to touch her. It took everything in him not to watch as she removed her soaked sweater, placing it on the back of a chair. He was conscious of how her damp cotton tee clung to every curve. Rubbing the side of his face, he inhaled one slow breath, taking in her fragrance and awakening everything inside himself.
He knew they weren’t going to pick up where they left off. If Olivia wanted him, she would have to say it. She would have to make the first move.
Right…the reason he brought her here suddenly came to him.
Nick motioned for her to follow him to the other side of the room.
“So, what do you think?” Nick showed her a large canvas lying on his work table.
“Very organic. Is it a flower?” She crossed her arms in front of her, slightly turning her head up to meet him for some confirmation.
“Yeah, it turned out that way,” he said, embarrassed.
He never realized the softer side of himself. His past work had always been edgy and emulated destruction. There were no words to describe how Nick processed his work. It came from within; it was seeing things and feeling them, bringing them to life with one brushstroke at a time.
“I love that you use the dark blue at the top and how it fades gradually at the bottom. The use of magenta streaming through the empty spaces…beautifully done,” she said, looking at him as he watched her so intensely.
“Am I saying something wrong?” She laughed.
He loved it when she took an interest in his work. He folded his arms across his chest, leaning further on the table behind him, mustering his strength to keep from placing his hands in her hair.
“There’s no wrong way to analyze abstract art. It’s meant to inspire without understanding, almost like classical music. It means something different to everyone.”
“So what does it mean to you?” she asked.
“Ah, well…I guess I was thinking of you when I was working on it, and this is the result.” He pointed back to the canvas.
She smiled in a way that made him think his answer satisfied her. “Am I your muse, Montgomery?” she taunted.
She had no fuckin’ idea.
“All the time.”
He couldn’t help but pull her closer to him, holding her there, lightly brushing her bangs out of her eyes. For a moment he thought he might just kiss her and would have if she didn’t pull away so abruptly. He deserved it. He had hurt her by completely shutting her out.
“I’ve got to go,” she said, walking back toward the chair to gather her sweater.
“I have to go.”
“I thought you said you didn’t have plans.”
“No, you told me you had nowhere to be. I, on the other hand, never said anything.”
There was an elephant in the room that he desired to destroy. He needed to tell her, and if she left, he wasn’t sure if he would ever find the courage again.
“Roshambo.” He smiled. “I win, you stay here with me.”
She looked right through him, her lips twitching to one side. “Okay.”
“ROSHAMBO,” they said in unison.
He smiled more brightly.
“Okay, I’ll stay for a little while longer.”

Author Bio:
Maria La Serra, a fashion designer, turned writer, lives in Montreal with her husband and two children. She will try everything at least once, except for skiing, hiking or camping-okay anything relating to activities done in the great outdoors. The Proverbial Mr. Universe is her first novel.


Promo Blitz : After The Fire by Mary J. Williams

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: June 22, 2016

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In his lifetime, Gaige Benson has dreamed of only two things. Playing football and Violet Reed.


The Seattle Knights have the hottest players in the game. On and off the field.

Second Chances. First Love.

Gaige Benson is the NFL's golden boy. He's done it all. Won every award. Except that elusive Super Bowl ring. This year he is hanging up his cleats and he plans on going out a winner.

Even a golden boy has secrets. Will Gaige's past be the one thing that derails his future?

Violet Reed almost lost it all. Her sight, her dreams of becoming a doctor, and the only man she ever loved. A miracle saved the first two. Sixteen years later she is getting her second chance at love.

Secrets kept them apart. Will the truth separate them forever?

Get your copy of the stand-alone sports romance readers are calling an emotional, page-turning thrill-ride.

Each book in the series is a stand alone novel. Other books in this series are:

After the Rain

After All These Years


SHE HAD ONCE asked him if he believed in a higher power.
God? Buddha? Fairies dancing around a blazing fire late at night? Something. Anything bigger than us.
Gaige Benson hadn't known what to say. Not then. But as he stood in the empty open-air stadium—the stars lighting the evening sky—he knew the answer.
Football was his religion. The field he played on and the building surrounding it, his cathedral. If a higher power had a hand in it, then his answer was yes.
He believed.
Walking to the center of the field, Gaige took it all in. He found football at the age of thirteen. A boy who saw his future mapped out. Working in a factory. Drinking away his salary. Divorce. Doling out child support without maintaining a relationship with his children. A weekend father, who half the time didn't bother to show up.
The first time Gaige picked up a football, he felt a connection. The first time he threw it, it wobbled with the grace of a drunk leaving his favorite watering hole on a Saturday night. But it didn't matter. He threw the ball again. And again. Until he taught himself to make it spin in a perfect spiral.
At the time, Gaige didn't know his talent could be useful. Where he came from, Brooklyn kids didn't dream of bigger or better. Most of them didn't dream at all. Gaige was no different.
One day he was passing a playground when a football landed at his feet. The boys on the field yelled for him to toss it back. Without thinking, Gaige sent it sailing, a perfect strike. Then kept walking. He was wary of the man who ran after him. Strangers were the enemy—according to his father. They either wanted money or accused you of something you hadn't done.
Gaige took everything his father said with a big grain of salt. Don Benson didn't have a dime to his name. Why would anyone expect to get money from him? And if a man accused his father of something, chances were he was guilty.
But Gaige was a cautious boy. He fought when necessary and ran when he had no choice. The man trying to get his attention was big. His dark complexion didn't worry Gaige. In his experience, a man was either good or bad. The color of his skin had nothing to do with it.
It turned out that this man wasn't simply good. He was the best thing that ever happened to Gaige.
Terrance Aldridge coached the local Pop Warner football team. A boy with an arm like Gaige's shouldn't let his talent go to waste. Gaige listened. Play football? On a field? With other boys? Was such a thing possible? He didn't know if it were a scam—nor did he care. If there were the slightest chance, he would take it.
The only obstacle was getting a parent's permission. Terrance gave him the papers to be signed, telling Gaige to have his folks call him if they had any questions. Gaige didn't laugh aloud, but he wanted to. His mother never asked questions. Unless they were directed at his father. Wynona Benson hadn't made a move in fifteen years unless she received permission first.
His father was another matter. His word was law. Don Benson could do no wrong. If he drank too much and staggered home two days late, it was his right. If he backhanded his wife—just because—whose business was it? He earned the money. He made the rules. End of discussion.
Gaige hadn't asked his father because he knew what the answer would be. No! Not because he thought there was anything wrong with football. He watched it every Sunday—after laying down a bet that he never won. No, he wouldn't let Gaige play because he was a mean bastard who wanted everyone to be as miserable as he was.
Gaige got around it easily enough. He forged his father's signature. It wasn't the first time and it wouldn't be the last. There was no reason to think anyone would find out. His parents didn't care how he spent his days as long as the police didn't come knocking on the door.
He could steal. Lie. Cheat. Hell, his father wouldn't bat an eye at murder. Do what you want as long as you don't get caught. The mantra at the Benson house. 
Gaige had no intention of his father finding out. He tried out for the team and made it. The money for equipment was another matter. Gaige didn't steal. Or cheat. Lying was a necessary evil. He would have done almost anything to play but it looked like his first and only dream would die before it had a chance.
Luckily, Terrance was able to dip into a discretionary fund to help boys like Gaige. It rankled to take charity. Especially when the other boys on the team had families to pay their way.
"Don't let it stop you, Gaige," Terrance told him. "Remember. And one day, when you have the means, pay it forward, son."
Twenty-five years later, Gaige hadn't forgotten that kindness and generosity. When he saw someone in need, he did something about it. Over the years, the Gaige Benson Foundation paid out millions of dollars to charities and individuals. He had filled the board with people he trusted and could count on to distribute the funds judiciously and without prejudice. The first man he had recruited was the man to whom Gaige owed everything—Terrance Aldridge. Friend. Father figure. Teacher.
"Hey, Gaige." Logan Price called out from high in the stands. "You coming? The guys are waiting to go to dinner."
"Five minutes."
Closing his eyes, Gaige breathed in the air. February in Texas. Tomorrow he would play in his first—and last Super Bowl. Win or lose, he was hanging up his cleats. He was thirty-eight years old. He had more money than he would ever need. He had won every award from Rookie of the Year to league MVP—four times.
This season he put everything on the line to get here—including the possibility that he had lost the only woman he had ever loved.
Gaige Benson was known for his razor-sharp focus. Any distractions off the field were left there as soon as the first whistle blew. It wouldn't be any different tomorrow. Nothing would get in the way.
His gaze drifted to the section where she would be sitting. If she showed up. Gaige planned on going out a winner. But what about the day after? Or the day after that? His future stretched out in front of him. He had plans in place. There were hundreds of options for him to consider.
Do you believe in a higher power?
Her voice and that question had haunted Gaige for almost sixteen years. If there were a God, he prayed the woman he loved would find it in her heart to forgive him. He had a lot of years left. He didn't want to spend them alone.
In his lifetime, Gaige Benson had dreamt of only two things. Playing football. And loving Violet Reed.

Mary J. Williams is an author from Washington State who went to school in a small town on the Columbia River. She loves writing, reading, and football.  She always wanted to write a novel and she always knew it would be a romance novel. But it wasn’t until her favorite football team lost the Super Bowl on the last play with an interception, that this dream began to come to fruition. She was so depressed that she tuned out all the media. Without television, internet, or newspapers, she had nothing else to do, so she sat down and started writing. Her first romance series, Harper Falls contains four books. Mary has released two new series in 2016, Hollywood Legends and One Pass Away (which combines her love of football with her love of romance).

Contact Links

Purchase Link

On Sale for just $0.99 through the end of July!

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Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Inside the Book:

 Title: Just Kiss Me 
Author: Rachel Gibson 
Release Date: July 26, 2016 
Publisher: Avon Books 
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Format: Paperback/Ebook/Audio

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Gibson returns with this dazzling love story filled with sizzle, sass, and just a bit of southern charm . . .

"Hello, Ms. Vivian . . . it's been a long time."

And with those words, Vivian Leigh Rochet nearly melted. It's been years since she last saw Harrison Whitley-Shuler. She was a teenager scrubbing houses for a living. He was the gorgeous son of rich parents, not fit for the likes of her.

Vivian had vowed to get out of Charleston, become a big Hollywood star, and stick it to the snooty girls who made her cry.

She got what she wanted—and more—but why does her glamorous life seem so trivial?

Harrison got out too . . . making it all the way to Wall Street, until a heart attack forced him to trade in his cufflinks for a good set of hand tools.

Making furniture soothes his soul, but escaping the Whitley-Shuler heritage is nearly impossible. And now he's come face-to-face with the one who got away. He's not looking for love. He's not even looking for sex . . . so why is resisting her the hardest thing he's ever done?

  amazon barnes-and-noble goodreads

Meet the Author:

Rachel Gibson is a New York Timesand USA TODAY bestselling author of fast-paced contemporary romance novels. Publisher’s Weekly proclaims Rachel’s “clever, snappy dialog amuses at every turn” and “With humor and eloquent prose, Gibson brings substance and depth . . . to modern day romance.”

Four of her novels were named among the Top Ten Favorite Books of The Year by Romance Writers of America. Two of her novels, True Confessions and Not Another Bad Date, were awarded the RITA, Romance Writers of America’s highest honor of excellence. Some of Rachel’s other awards and achievements include The Golden Heart Award, the National Reader’s Choice, Amazon Editor’s Top Pick, Publisher Weekly’s Quill nominee, Borders bestselling romantic comedy and Romantic Time’s Career Achievement award.

When not writing, Rachel can be found shopping for shoes or looking for strange and unusual flowers to plant in her garden.

You can visit her website at



Avon Books is giving away 3 Print Copies of Just Kiss Me! Terms & Conditions:
Good luck everyone!


Tour Schedule

Monday, July 25 - Book reviewed at Stranded in Chaos
Guest blogging at Celebrate with a Book
Book featured at CBY Book Club
Book featured at Harmonious Publicity
Tuesday, July 26 - Book featured at Bound 2 Escape
Book reviewed at 3 Partners in Shopping
Book featured at Just Us Book Blog
Wednesday, July 27 - Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Book reviewed at Doing Some Reading
Book featured at E-Romance News
Thursday, July 28 - Book reviewed at Becky on Books
Book featured at The Bookworm Lodge
Book reviewed at Pretty Sassy Cool
Friday, July 29 - Book featured at Booklover Sue
Book reviewed at Written Love Reviews
Book featured at Write and Take Flight
Monday, August 1 - Book reviewed at Our Families Adventure
Book reviewed at ReadsandReviews
Book featured at Mello and June
Tuesday, August 2 - Book reviewed at Svetlana's Reads and Views
Book reviewed at Ashley's Bookshelf
Book reviewed at Deal Sharing Aunt
Wednesday, August 3 - Book reviewed at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Book featured at What is That Book About
Book featured at A Title Wave
Thursday, August 4 - Interviewed at Whispering Stories
Book reviewed at I'm Shelf-ish
Book featured at A Taste of My Mind
Book reviewed at Romantic Reads and Such
Friday, August 5 - Book reviewed at Us Girls and Books
Book reviewed at Pretty Little Book Reviews
Book featured at Socrates Book Reviews
Book reviewed at What Is That Book About
Book reviewed at What I'm Reading

Promo Blitz: Scared Witchless by Amy Boyles

Mystery, Cozy Mystery 
Date Published:  June 28, 2016

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A witch. A murder. A wedding dress?

Dylan Apel is having one heck of a summer. She knows her hand-made clothing is special, but magical? Discovering that she's a witch is bad enough, but when Dylan realizes there are folks who’ll kill to possess her witchy powers— that’s enough to make a girl want to hide out in the back of her boutique. Only problem is, Queen Witch is in town, itchin’ to make sure Dylan learns to cast spells, and this witch won’t take no for an answer.

Dylan must learn fast—someone just killed her best client with a poisoned gown meant for Dylan. Was it the tall, mysterious hottie in black, who's suddenly everywhere she goes? After all, the first thing Roman Bane says is he doesn't like witches. Is he here to save her, or kill her?

Dylan is barely getting a handle on her new powers when she finds herself surrounded by witches bossing her this way and that, local police nosing about, and wary clients—death by clothing is not good for business. And the solstice is coming … a time when witch powers are at their peak. Can Dylan survive the chaos long enough to figure out her new life?



"If that ain't the other side of stupid, I don't know what is."
Reagan Eckhart, all platinum-blonde ninety-eight pounds of her, shoved a newspaper in my face. I winced, barely avoiding a massive paper cut to the nose.
"Those idiots put you in Arts and Leisure. You should have been on the front page of the Birmingham News." She tapped the newspaper with a single red fingernail. "With as much business as you do, Dylan Apel, you should have been the main story of the day."
"Don't you think technically they should have put me in the business section?" I said.
Reagan fluffed the foot of hair teased up at her crown. At least it looked like a foot. Okay, it wasn't a foot—only six inches. But those were a tall six inches. Big enough to practically be their own person. "Whatever," she mumbled.
The debutante was in rare form today. Reagan was dressed to the nines in a black halter top and pants that resembled Spandex. Personally, I was waiting for her to break out into the chorus of “You're the One That I Want,” à la Olivia Newton-John. Harry Shaw, her fiancé—a smallish, bald financial advisor—definitely wouldn't join her if she did. His idea of playing John Travolta probably resembled hot-and-heavy talk about how gross grease and lightning were and why would you want to put the two together?
I grabbed the paper and scrutinized the picture of me and my sisters, Seraphina and Reid. Bright, beaming smiles on our faces, we stood in front of our side-by-side stores—Perfect Fit and Sinless Confections. Seraphina, tall and slender, her hair shimmering like glass in the sunlight, looked absolutely perfect. Even Reid, my eighteen-year-old baby sis, looked cherubic and innocent, her doe eyes and cheeky smile radiating youthful exuberance.
Then there was me. I sighed. It had taken two hours to smooth my hair, and it had still frizzed on the edges. I wasn't as tall or slender as Seraphina. But what I lacked in athletic build, I made up for in curves. Good for me. I might not look statuesque and perfect, but I could put on a slutty dress and have enough T and A to get noticed.
Was that a zit on my cheek?
"When I realized you had this store, Dylan," Reagan said, "and I saw how beautiful the dresses were, I told Harry—I said, 'Harry, that's who's going to design my wedding dress.' Didn't I, hon?"
Harry, nose-deep in the business section, remained silent.
Reagan kicked him.
"Ow!" Harry rubbed his ankle. "What'd you do that for?"
"Didn't I, Harry? Didn't I say that?"
Harry shrank a little, his bald pate looking even balder under the fluorescents. "Yes, of course you did, dear."
Poor guy. He probably wouldn't last a year in the marriage. He'd be whipped, beaten down and likely castrated after two months. 
Did I say that out loud?
"Anyway," Reagan continued, flitting about the room. "I told Harry, Dylan Apel and I were best friends in high school—"
"Mortal enemies," I corrected.
"—and of course she's going to be the one to design my dress." Girlfriend didn't miss one beat. I don't think Reagan listened to what people said. Did she even hear them when they talked?
From the corner my assistant, Carrie Dogwood, snickered. I shot her a look of warning. She turned a deep shade of red and pretended to straighten a rack of sequined gowns.
"Reagan, do you want to see your dress again?" I asked.
"Of course," she squealed. "I can't get enough of it."
Carrie crossed to me. She leaned over, kept her voice low. "Wonder what she'll complain about this time."
I turned away from Reagan. "Hopefully nothing," I whispered. "Can you grab the dress?"
"Sure thing."
An unfinished blue gown caught my attention. The color of a robin's egg, the dress would be the envy of the Silver Springs solstice banquet, what with its deep vee neckline and overlay of chiffon. I needed to finish it before the dance, which was barely two weeks away.
I sighed. I'd been working a lot lately, thanks to Reagan's never-ending changes to her gown. There was less than a week until the wedding, and after that I'd have plenty of time to work on my own dress. That is, if I survived Reagan for a few more days.
I stared vacantly at the gown until a bodiless hand thrust the newspaper into my face once more. Reagan popped up in front of me and wiggled the now crumpled article. "But this reporter nails it. She absolutely gets it right. I could have gone anywhere for my dress, but there's just something about your gowns and your sister's food. It's like I'm transported to another place. I don't know how to describe it."
I had heard the same mantra over and over from clients. There's something about your clothes that I can't put my finger on. It's almost like they're magical.
Yeah. Right. Not that I didn't appreciate the compliment. Believe me, I did. So did Sera. If it weren't for the folks in our lakeside community of Silver Springs, Alabama, we'd be beggars. Hoboes maybe. Vagabonds most likely. And not the good kind. Not the sexy kind you see on the covers of romance novels.
Wait. There weren't hoboes on those. Well, anyway, we'd be dirty, covered in rags that smelled of oil and sweat, with grit under our fingernails that not even the best manicure technician could lift.
"Here's the dress," Carrie said.
Reagan's smile vanished. "Oh."
My dreams, my hopes, my wishes for a beautiful future crashed and exploded like a car careening off a cliff in a 1970s B movie. What could possibly be wrong this time—the hundredth time? I swear, every occasion this girl saw her dress, she found something to criticize. It was a wonder I hadn't strangled her before now.
I smoothed the lines of frustration that were forming on my forehead. "What's the problem?"
Reagan wrinkled her nose. "It's just…well…that's a lot of sequins."
I took a deep, cleansing breath and thought happy thoughts. "Last week you wanted more sequins. You said it didn't have enough bling."
Carrie bit back a giggle.
I flashed her a seething look. I mean, seriously. I knew it was funny, but it was only good service not to laugh at the customer while she's standing right in front of you. At least wait until the door hits her backside as she's leaving.
"Well," Reagan said, "last week there weren't any sequins. What were there? Like five on the whole thing?"
I steepled my fingers beneath my chin. "There were two hundred."
"Oh. How many are there now?"
"Five hundred."
"It's too many. Listen, Dylan, just because we were best friends in high school—"
"Mortal enemies," I said.
"—doesn't mean you can take advantage of me. If this dress isn't to perfection by Saturday, then I'm getting it for free. Right?"
Whoa, Nelly. "I'm sorry?"
Reagan batted her fake eyelashes. "That's just plain old good business. The customer is always right. I mean, we go way back. Too far back to let a little disagreement over some sequins ruin what we had."
I poked the air with my index finger. "Once again, we were mortal enemies. Reagan, you have brain damage when it comes to what high school was like."
A tittering laugh escaped her throat. It sounded like a thousand butterflies taking flight. That was right before I lifted my imaginary rocket launcher, aimed high and fired, sending the beauties crashing to the ground in a blazing explosion.
"You're so melodramatic, Dylan. We had a little disagreement about prom; that was all." 
I crossed my arms. "Reagan, let me remind you of exactly what happened in high school."
"Why don't you do that, since you're so convinced we had nothing to do with each other." Reagan pulled one of her eyelashes. Ouch. Didn't that hurt?
I shook my head and said, "You had Colten Blacklock ask me to prom for the sole purpose of standing me up the night of." I pointed to her and then to me. "You and I—we were never friends, and I'm not giving you this dress for free. We've done a dozen fittings, and you've found something wrong with each and every one. You can either take it or leave it."
Reagan's mouth fell. She swung to Harry. "Are you going to let her talk to me like that?"
Harry squashed the grin on his face and cleared his throat. "Ahem. Well. You have tried the dress on a lot, and Miss Apel has been more than accommodating."
Reagan stomped her foot. "You," she said, wagging a finger at him. "You wait until we get home."
Oh no. I didn't want Harry to be in the dog house because of me. I reached out and rubbed Reagan's arm, trying to soothe the savage bridezilla. "Reagan, I'll lose some of the sequins. Stop by tomorrow and see what you think."
She flashed a tight, bitter smile. "What you have better be good, or I'm taking my business elsewhere. And that means your sister won't be doing the catering, either." She squared her shoulders, swiveled on her heel and stormed out of the shop. Harry gave me an apologetic smile and followed. The little bell above the door tinkled as they left.
"Do you think she'll back out?" Carrie asked.
I shook my head. "Of course not. Not unless she wants a dress off the rack and a cake from Walmart."
Carrie laughed. "She's something else, isn't she?"
"She's certainly something.” I rubbed my neck. Tension latched to the cords of muscle. I'd have a headache pretty soon if I didn't take an ibuprofen. Extending my palm, I gestured for Carrie to hand me the wedding gown. "I guess I'll alter her dress."
Carrie stuffed the layers of silk in my hands and nodded to the blue cross-necked dress. "But when are you going to finish that one?"
I peeked out from behind the mass. "I don't know. We have, what? Two weeks until the summer solstice? I'll work on it soon."
The bell above the door tinkled. Seraphina crashed in, a whirlwind of flour following her. Her blue eyes sparkled with delight. How I envied those eyes. Mine were poo brown. Some said chocolate, but I knew better. Those folks were just being Southern polite.
"Oh my God! Did y'all see the article?" She waved the paper like a flag of surrender.
"I did!"
"It's incredible. The reporter went so far as to say our work is, and I quote…" She scanned the article. "Where is it? Where did that passage go? Oh, here it is." She jabbed it. "She said our work is 'inspired by the gods themselves.' Ha! You couldn't pay for better advertising."
"You probably could," I said.
Carrie flipped the ends of her chestnut hair. "Listen, y'all, I just got this new gel manicure machine in the mail. Do you mind if I go freshen up these bad boys?" She wiggled her perfect coral nails. To my eyes, they needed no refreshing. But hey, every girl has some sort of vice. Carrie's happened to be that she was ADD about her nails. In the three years she'd worked for me, I'd never seen one chip. Ever. Mine, on the other hand, looked like Godzilla had tried to paint them—there were broken wedges of color that Carrie would have deemed unforgivable.
"Go ahead. We'll be here," I said. She picked up a shipping box and exited to the back.
I hung Reagan's wedding dress on a rack and brushed my hands of any rogue sequins that hadn't been sewn on properly, which was actually impossible since I'd done the work myself. But my grandmother had always taught me to be humble, so that was my attempt.
Sera chewed her bottom lip. "The reporter says, 'Dylan Apel's dresses will transport you to another time and place. A claim I can attest to personally, for I experienced this peculiar phenomenon first-hand when I tried on one of her gowns. When I saw my reflection in the mirror, for a split second I was taken back to the cotillion ball where I met my husband thirty years ago. If that wasn’t enough to put a spring in my step, one bite of Seraphina's baked treats and I was back in my grandmother’s kitchen as she created confections on the stove. Truly a magical experience.'" Sera paused, looked up at me. "Seriously. That's some good stuff."
"Yeah, it’s good,” I said. But the reporter’s description about trying on my clothes bothered me. I shrugged off the uncomfortable feeling and smiled. "Though I have been accused on occasion of drugging my clothes."
Sera frowned. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
The bell tinkled. I stepped forward, my most welcoming smile on my face.
My sister glanced at me. "You look like a piranha. Tone it down."
I settled into a half smile. "Good morning! Welcome to Perfect Fit."
A towering redhead sauntered into the store. Bangles covered both her arms, clinking pleasantly as she walked. Emerald-green eyes fixed on me and Sera. I squirmed. Couldn't help it. At five-five I wasn't short. Not by any means. But this was a tall woman. Five-ten easy. And all that hair. A cloud of silky crimson and honey curls cascaded down her back. I don't even think she had any product in it. It was a totally natural head of hair.
I hated her.
Kidding. But envy did surface.
She smiled brightly. My envy turned into instant like. "Mornin'. I wanted to try on some clothes," she said in a throaty voice, the kind that drove men mad. I'd never seen her before, and Silver Springs was a minuscule town. From the look of interest on Sera's face, I guess she hadn't seen this woman before, either.
I stepped forward. "Absolutely. What are you looking for?"
"Just some regular day-wear stuff."
My time had arrived. I had a knack, a sixth sense really, about clothes and people. In one try I could create an entire body-fitting wardrobe and not even know the size of the person. What can I say? It came naturally to me.
"Are you looking for sportswear or business?"
Cha-ching! "Let me pull a few items and see what you think."
"I'm gonna head back," Sera said. "I'm sure there's something I need to make."
I waved. "Bye."
She waved back and left, leaving me to focus on my client. Five minutes later I had two armfuls of pants, jackets, and blouses. "Let me get you in a dressing room. After you're done, come out and see what you think in the three-way mirror."
None of my dressing rooms had mirrors. People thought it weird, but I wanted to be around when my clients saw themselves in my clothing for the first time.
The woman disappeared behind the door, a roomful of clothes at the ready. Two minutes later she reappeared in a pair of jeans and a loose blouse.
"Take a look."
She stepped forward. The air contracted as if the very atmosphere had been sucked away. The mirror shimmered, and the woman's image bowed and straightened. It happened fast, so fast no one ever noticed. No one except for me.
So, this is where I tell you what that's all about. I would if I could. The easiest explanation is that my clothes make people feel great. From what Sera's told me, putting on one of my garments reminds you of an amazing time in your life. For instance—you're a fifty-year-old woman buying a dress for your daughter's wedding. You try something on and poof, you're transported back to the wondrous feeling you experienced at senior prom. Of course, that would be you, not me. My prom stank thanks to Reagan Eckhart.
At least, that’s what I’d always thought. It’s also why the reporter’s story bothered me. She saw her younger self in that mirror. That had never happened before—at least not that I knew of. My clothes blanketed clients in a wondrous feeling. They didn't make anyone see visions.  
Sera's baked goods do something similar. Every time I eat something she's made, I feel amazing, like I could take on the world. One bite of a buttery croissant and I'm totally superwoman. Minus the red cape. And the tights. Now that I think about it, I wouldn't be caught dead in that outfit.
But why are we like that? We're gifted; that's what our grandmother always called it. We have a gift.
"What do you think?" I asked.
She stared at her image. After a long moment her lips curlicued into a smile. She licked the bottom one, her eyes shining.
"Your clothes are breathtaking."
Thirty minutes and three hundred dollars later, I placed the last package in the redhead's hands.
"How'd you hear about us?" I asked.
"I saw the article in the paper."
I clicked my tongue. "Wow. News travels fast." Sweet. Today might be a crazy, busy day.
She smiled, her eyes glittering. "You don't even know the half of it."
She pinched her brows together, giving her a dark, ominous expression. "In one week I guarantee you won't recognize your life."
An awkward laugh escaped my lips. "Oh. Ha-ha. I hope it's all good."
She shook her head. "That little article that came out about you? The one that was supposed to help your business? Well, you just did the opposite. You stirred up a bed of fire ants." She leaned forward and gave me a stern look. "And in case you need remindin', the sting from a fire ant lasts a long time. Take this as your warnin'."
I was so confused. "What do you mean, a warning?"
"Watch your back."
With that she left, her cloud of hair billowing behind her. I stood stone still. Numb shock tingled over my body, filtering down into my fingers and toes.
What the heck just happened?

After living in Chicago, Louisville and New York, Amy Boyles finally settled in North Alabama with her husband.

Along with writing, she has a passion for cooking ridiculously fattening food and complaining about weight gain. She loves to connect with readers.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Sale blitz: Keeping Score by Jami Deise

Women's Fiction

On Sale - Only $.99 July 25-31

Recipient of the Crowned Heart Award from In'Dtale Magazine! 

When her 9-year-old son wanted to play summer travel baseball, Shannon had no idea the toughest competition was off the field…. When her son Sam asks to try out for a travel baseball team, divorced mom Shannon Stevens thinks it’ll be a fun and active way to spend the summer. Boy, is she wrong! From the very first practice, Shannon and Sam get sucked into a mad world of rigged try-outs, professional coaches, and personal hitting instructors. But it’s the crazy, competitive parents who really make Shannon’s life miserable. Their sons are all the second coming of Babe Ruth, and Sam isn’t fit to fetch their foul balls. Even worse, Shannon’s best friend Jennifer catches the baseball fever. She schemes behind the scenes to get her son Matthew on the town’s best baseball team, the Saints. As for Sam? Sorry, there’s no room for him! Sam winds up on the worst team in town, and every week they find new and humiliating ways to lose to the Saints.

And the action off the field is just as hot. Shannon finds herself falling for the Saints’ coach, Kevin. But how can she date a man who didn’t think her son was good enough for his team … especially when the whole baseball world is gossiping about them? Even Shannon’s ex-husband David gets pulled into the mess when a randy baseball mom goes after him. As Sam works to make friends, win games and become a better baseball player, Shannon struggles not to become one of those crazy baseball parents herself. In this world, it’s not about whether you win, lose, or how you play the game… it’s all about KEEPING SCORE.

Praise for Keeping Score:

"I really enjoyed Keeping Score... If you are ready for a fun read, and want to know who comes out on top (will it be Team Shannon or Team Jennifer?),  give this book a read." - Chick Lit Central

"KEEPING SCORE is a great read--one I didn't want to put down. I would recommend it for anyone looking for a fun take on life, love, and kids." - Caroline Fardig, bestselling author of "It's Just a Little Crush"

"All in all this was a fun read that keeps the story going and will have your mouth dropping open at certain points... Grab this book and sit down for a fun, light read!" -- Joe Cool Review

"A must-read for any sports or contemporary lovers..." five stars! - InD'tale Magazine

"Keeping Score by Jami Deise is a wonderful novel, a story of love, despair, desire, and hope all mixed into one." Anne Marie Reynolds for Reader's Favorite


 Sam grabbed his baseball bag out of my trunk and ran down the hill to the softball field, where the try-out was taking place. I was still in my work shoes, so I followed slowly behind.
 When the field was in sight, I couldn’t believe my eyes. A huge banner proclaiming “SAINTS BASEBALL” was strung across the backstop. There were nearly seventy nine-year-old boys, all wearing their baseball uniforms. The single set of bleachers overflowed with parents, who were also standing behind the backstop and near the baselines. Even Saints founder Patrick O’Connor had made an appearance. He seemed very pleased every time some star-struck dad asked for an autograph. 
When I got closer, I could hear the parents’ anxious, boastful chatter.
 “Saints assured us that the try-out’s just a formality for Trevor. They’ve been trying to get him to play select since he was six, but we didn’t think that was fair to the other kids, having to be on a team with someone so much younger and so much better.”
 “I thought it was too soon, but Kyle’s pitching coach wanted to get a number. He’s already throwing seventy miles an hour. The coach thinks he’ll be at ninety five in high school.” 
 “Jeremy isn’t going to be able to blossom to his full development in a cold-weather state. We’ll be moving to Florida in the fall so he can play year-round. The Florida State coach said he’d sign him right now if he could.”
 That gnawing feeling that showed up every time Sam was at bat took up residence in my stomach. What if David were right? What if all these kids threw sixty miles an hour, made plays that made Derek Jeter look klutzy, and hit the ball into Virginia?
 Then I remembered what Mike had said: That based on what he’d seen, Sam should have no problem making the Saints team. I took a deep breath and told myself that all this bragging was just that, and if I wanted to, I could sit down and babble about how two select teams were fighting over Sam, and which one should we chose?
 A tall man wearing a Saints jersey that said "Coach Kevin" pinned the number 55 on Sam’s back, and pointed for him to join other kids warming up in the outfield. Sam ran out there, his belly jiggling ever so slightly. The coach jotted something down on a clipboard. He was about my age, with an athletic build, curly brown hair underneath his baseball cap, a tanned face, and a cleft chin. His butt wasn’t bad, either. 
I reminded myself that I wasn’t here to ogle coaches. 
 Sam started throwing, but the balls weren’t coming back to him with any sort of regularity. I couldn’t see who his partner was, just the kid’s back -- Sam was playing with number 1. 
 I looked for a place to sit on the bleachers. And that’s when I saw her. Jennifer. She was covering her face with a paperback, obviously hiding from me. As if I wouldn’t recognize my own best friend from the neck down.
 Now I understood that look between Jennifer and Scott Sunday night, when I said I didn’t even know summer teams existed. It wasn’t, “Why didn’t Mike ask Matthew to play on his team.” It was, “Let’s hope Shannon doesn’t find out about the Saints try-out.”
 Someone who avoided confrontation might sit on the other side of the bleachers and pretend not to see her backstabbing best friend. But that someone wasn’t me. I climbed over a few people and squeezed in right next to Jennifer. 
 “Didn’t we read that in book club last year?” I asked. 
 She put the book down and painted on a big phony smile. “I never got around to finishing it. Shannon, I thought you already decided Sam was going to play for Mike this summer.” 
 “He can’t. His league won’t take Saints kids.”
 “Oh. Because, that’s the only reason we didn’t mention the try-out to you.” 
 “Really? So when exactly were you going to tell me? Because two days ago, I didn’t know anything about this.” 
 On the field, the kids finished their warm-up throws and got into lines at shortstop, second and first base. Now I could see that number 1 was Matthew. He got into the shortstop line, while Sam was directed to first. 
 A different coach walked up to home plate, struggling with a heavy bucket of balls and a metal bat under his arm. My stomach flipped as the true depth of the betrayal hit me. That coach was Scott. Obviously he had moved up in the coaching world, a promotion if you would, from rec to select coach. 
 And he never bothered to say a damn thing about it. Not to Sam or any of the kids on the Rockets. 
 I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. 
 Jennifer sighed, blowing her bangs up off of her forehead. Not a guilt sigh, but something more akin to righteous annoyance. 
 “Here’s the thing. The boys all do everything together. They’re interchangeable. Same classes, even though Matthew should be in the G&T program. Same teams. Same people, over and over again. Scott and I felt that Matthew really needed an activity that was his and his alone. So he could start to figure out who he was as a person.” 
 So Matthew was having an existential crisis. Nine years old seemed a little young for that, but everyone was an overachiever here in Persimmon.  
 Who was this person? Who was this woman, whom I’d called my best friend for years? How could she do this to us? 
 “And when Patrick told Scott he needed another coach for the U10 team, it just seemed obvious.”
 Patrick. As in Patrick O’Connor, the “Saint” of Saints Baseball, who was sitting three rows above us and to the left. Of course. Scott knew him through his work with the Orioles foundation. He’d only mentioned it a few hundred times. 
 Scott was hitting ground balls to the kids at short and second. They fielded them, and then threw to the kids at first. 
 Matthew and Sam came up at the same time. Scott hit a soft grounder to Matthew, so soft it barely came off the bat. Even so, it went through Matthew’s legs. Scott grimaced, then hit him another one. This one bounced off of Matthew’s knee. He dropped his glove on it, then picked up the ball and threw it to Sam. 
 The ball was nowhere near first base. Sam jumped into the base line, made the grab, then stretched his foot out to snag the bag. 
 Jennifer bit her lip. “He just really needs an activity that’s his and his alone,” she repeated. “Where he can shine, without all the pressure of performing for his friends. Can’t you understand?”
 “Of course,” I said, as another ball went through Matthew’s legs. 
 I patted Jennifer on the back. “But maybe you should have picked an activity that Matthew’s actually good at.” 
 I didn’t mean the words to sound as cruel as they did. But Jennifer’s face turned red, and her smile disappeared. “We’re supposed to be best friends,” she hissed. “But you’re so damned competitive where Sam and sports are concerned. I get it; he’s good. But you don’t have to make everyone else feel so terrible.”  
 She grabbed her book and stomped off loudly down the bleachers, joining the other parents behind the backstop. 

A baseball mom since 1999, Jami Deise wrote her first novel, KEEPING SCORE, about crazy travel ball parents, in 2013. Her second novel, THE TIES THAT BLEED, is about a vampire assassin for the FBI, although she personally has little experience slaying vampires. Jami is an associate reviewer at and blogs at She currently lives (and sells real estate) in St. Pete Beach, Florida, with her husband Tom and dog Lady. Her college-aged son still plays baseball.

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