Beauty and the Bridesmaid by Lisa Souza [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

beauty and the bridesmaidLisa Souza will be on tour March 2-16 with her novel Beauty and the Bridesmaid

Could love be a nip/tuck away?

Having endured her mother’s fourthwedding, hypnotized by makeover shows and tempted by a Zvengali-esque image consultant named Kennedy J, über bridesmaid Dot Lindell launches into an odyssey of self improvement, plastic surgery and therapy.

Then new and improved Dot encounters former high school hottie John Miller. She begins a risky deception, convincing both John – and herself! – that she’s a totally different person. Maybe she can pull it off: after all, she’s unrecognizable.

But John introduces Dot to his best friend and that bully from her nightmares Jack Weston. Jack has changed since high school, too. He’s grown more dangerous.

Beauty and the Bridesmaid is a darkly comic tale of transformation and choices, frenemies and friendships, the heroic saga of a nice woman who only wants to look in the mirror and feel beautiful, but may find the price higher than she bargained.

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Excerpt

“She’s very pretty, Jasper.”

He shakes his head in denial. “She’s whiney.” The fine lines at the corner of his eyes crinkle, making him appear confused. “She’s got these fingernails like Wolverine’s.” He holds up his hands, makes a claw fist. “You know, the guy from X-Men?”

Secretly, I’m thrilled to hear this little stab at Penny Perfect. “Trying to get voted out of group?” This seems to go over his head. I switch course, “So how’d you meet?”

“She does my mom’s hair. Apparently that makes her perfect for me. Perhaps because we’re both unmarried and disease free. Well, I am anyway. A slam dunk, right?” He drops his voice a notch. “She has two kids by two different men and a ring through her belly button. She scares the crap out of me. And she brought her friend. She asked if she could bring her BFF along for company. I thought it was a book, or some weird breed of pocket dog. Instead she brings her girlfriend along.” He sighs heavily, shakes his head.

Note to self: introduce these two to Sean Driscoll ASAP. “So does your hairdresser know Rupert Rooney or the bride?”

“Neither as far as I know. My mom belongs to the bride’s bridge club. She sent me as her emissary while she’s off in Mexico on a cruise.”

I nod. “Ah, the ‘Bridge Over Troubled Waters’ gals. Your mom’s a player?”

He stifles a laugh. “That’s not an expression I would normally equate with my mother, but yeah, that’s her group. I take it your mom’s with them too?”

I grin. “My mom’s the bride. Thus, the shocking fashion faux pas.” I wave at my dress.

He grins back. “No kidding? You know, Dot, she looks amazing. Really.”

Damn it she does. Which is great, honestly. Nothing quite says wonderful like your mom looking amazing at her forth wedding. A muscle in my cheek tenses up. “It’s nice of you to say so.” Everyone always does. Bless them.

The redhead struts over and drops a proprietary hand on Jasper’s arm. She snaps some chewing gum, an oddly infantile behavior in the face of this aging population. “You ready, Dr. J?”

I raise both eyebrows at Jasper. “Doctor?  Do you play basketball or carry a stethoscope?”

He finally achieves that fuchsia shade I feared. He dips his head toward the girl. “Tiffany, this is Dot Lindell. Dot, my date, Tiffany Bunch.”

I want to say something snide. I really do, but thank god for social niceties. “Nice to meet you, Tiffany.”

At that moment, Aunt Vonda sends out the stink eye from over at her position near the cake table. Rats. No time to grill my new friend Tiff about Jasper’s medical credentials. “Gotta go.” I pin Jasper with one last look, trying to read a profession there. Nothing. Clearly my career as a psychic has stalled. I do the hitchhiker thumb over my shoulder, aiming in Vonda’s direction. “Duty calls.”

“Nice seeing you, Dot.” He nearly stumbles when Tiffany tugs him off toward the bar.

From my spot behind the cake table, where I remain Velcroed by Aunt Vonda’s frequent glares, I observe the new couple do the honors. Mom and Rupert look like teenagers rather than a dignified married couple. Rupert Rooney, (who I’ve secretly been calling “Lord Rooney” given his stiff upper lip style), wipes smashed cake off his face and beard, eyes crinkling with laughter, while mom giggles behind her hand like a geisha. I’m struck by a sense of possibility. Maybe this one will work for her.

I know, I know. It’s the spiked punch talking.

Still, what if this is the real thing? What if this time mom has found that Vaseline covers the lens and she Rupert are running through a field of wildflowers into each others’ arms? What if this is real? I take a mental snapshot of them: Rupert’s hand a gentle brace in the small of her back, she leaning slightly into him, acknowledging the touch.

I swipe a fist at my damp face, leaving a thin trail of mascara on the back of my hand. No one thought to add pockets to the hibiscus dress, so I’m stuck without a Kleenex. I wipe the mess onto the side of the dress, leaving a dark smudge on the already vile fabric.

Good riddance.

I serve cake for hours. For days. Forever. My hands continue to push cake, but my brain takes a holiday, creates little mini movies. In one, John Miller sweeps in, demanding I dance with him. Magically, the loud dress I wear disappears replaced by some Barbara Cartland inspired ball gown. Like Barb’s heroines, my body in that dress appears waif-like, delicate.

Then Jasper Atkins – that’s DOCTOR Jasper Atkins – swaggers onto the dance floor wearing hospital scrubs. He drags me from John’s arms. The two face off, scowls of testosterone fueled anger on their faces as they prepare to fight for my hand.

So I’m a bit startled by Tiffany Bunch’s open palm shoved in my face. I lurch back, worried she plans on punching me out, before I come to: she wants cake. Her vacuous gaze makes it clear that she doesn’t recall our brief meeting, or more likely, chooses not to recall it. I’m just the help and she wants free cake. Give it.

I slap a broken piece on a plate, happy to note that it is a bit short on frosting. I shove it unnecessarily hard into her hand. It’s a paper plate. Maybe she’ll tear a nail? A girl can dream.

Eventually the new couple makes their exit, an exodus of their friends and family in their wake. I schlep behind the partygoers, tidying up so mom doesn’t lose her deposit. That’s the price for not helping with wedding plans. I pay the caterers with checks Rupert Rooney filled out in advance. I make a quick pass around the floor using an enormous mop head designed for the purpose, but refuse to go the extra mile and search for a dustpan. I cut the lights and lock the door behind me.

I’m alone in the dark in a sweat stained, mascara marked taffeta dress. There’s no one around to offer me a ride.

I have to ride the bus home in this damn dress.

 


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lisa souzaAuthor Bio:
Lisa Souza was raised on the mean streets of Spokane, Washington, one of five siblings wrestling for attention and hot meals.

She has a degree in English because both her husband and parents insisted she buck up and finish something. Without outside pressure, she fizzled out on an interior design program, bailed on computer science after two years, but rallied to complete her certification in hypnosis in 2012.

 

Lisa lives in the Snohomish Valley with her first husband Mark, (author of Robyn’s Egg), two stoic children, and Tater the rescue dog, whose ancestry is very much in question.

Website: http://www.lisasouza.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lisa.souza.3348

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LisaSouza_WA

Goodreads: (still waiting for Author Profile Approval response)

Amazon “Buy” link: http://amzn.to/1uV2ZIH

GIVEAWAY!

Anyone who leaves a comment on the tour page will be entered to win a copy of Beauty and the Bridesmaid. Print copies will be available for US winners and eBook for international. Please leave your email in your comment!

New York Dolls by Catherine L. Hensley [BookBlitz]

new york dollsCatherine L. Hensley will be on tour January 5-12 with her novel New York Dolls

It’s Fashion Week in New York, and Denton Hodges just got her first big assignment for Glitter magazine.

Denton’s assignment: Get in the show at the posh Regency Viscount Hotel, and find a story. But a chance encounter with hard-partying starlet Amber Donovan forever changes the course of the night—and Denton’s life. After a night of being chased by the paparazzi, swimming in swag bags, and falling heart over heels for Hollywood hunk Chris West, Denton’s not just on the story. She is the story.

Suddenly, Denton’s no longer merely a low-level assistant. Amber’s latching on like a BFF from hell, Chris is flirting and cooking her dinner, and as Denton falls for the real people behind the tabloid screen, neither knows about her ties to Glitter. Only Denton holds the secret—or so she thinks. Is Anna Creel, Glitter’s icy beauty editor, on to her? Will Denton be able to write a story exposing her new friends? And is Chris more than just a friend, or did Glitter get the headline right—“Chris and Amber: Hot Nights!”?

Step into the spotlight, and peek beyond the red carpet in New York Dolls.

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Excerpt

I took Josie’s hand so as not to lose her to another bouncer this time. We made it onto the dance floor, weaving through the bumpers and grinders getting low, low, low. I spotted the doorway opening to the patio, finally, up ahead past the edge of the dance floor and to the side of the roped-off VIP area. Josie and I joined the line for the patio. Almost done, I kept thinking, like passing through this one final portal would be my rite of passage out of the tornado I’d gotten myself twisted up in. I wouldn’t have to lie that I’d been to the after-party. I could describe the scene, maybe see someone I recognized from the RV and get a quote. Or maybe Liz would buy an investigative journalism angle on this whole thing—“A Glitter World Exclusive: Reporter Denton Hodges Reveals Amber Donovan’s Hair Secret.” Play it like I was onto it all along.

And think of the material I could use—a puking Amber Donovan, needy, desperate, confused, not sure where she is or where she’s going, and Prince Charming Chris West, concerned, involved, pissed about having to make an appearance somewhere but willing to stay with you and make sure you’re all right, even giving you the shirt off his back. Who cares about what happened in between? I could take what I needed. This could be my exit—the patio outside and then a few slights of the pen. Waiting in that line, plotting so many ways to cover my ass and make it all neat and tidy, I felt dirty, and something more…something like…devious. For the first time since Liz had given me this assignment, I really felt like Anna Creel. Like I got the story, I did what I had to, and that’s all that matters, so go have a freaking fashionable night, because I’m…

“Denny!” MD was coming down the stairs from a VIP booth. “Oh my G!”

“Dee-Dee!” Amber pushed past the rope from the patio, tripping on her way toward me. Her purple wig had been replaced with a cherry-colored red one. “Oh my God, Dee-Dee! Where have you been? I neeeeeed you!”

“Anna?” That voice. I hope I’ll see you around.

I remembered his voice. He came up behind me and put his hand on my lower back. “Do you want to get out of here?” Why yes, Chris West, yes, actually I do. I don’t think I have the scoop on the story anymore. I am the story.


catherine hensleyBio:
Catherine L. Hensley is a professional freelance editor and writer. From fiction and nonfiction manuscripts to academic pieces, she provides an extensive range of copyediting, proofreading, content editing, and writing services to a wide variety of clients located around the United States and abroad.

A native of south Louisiana, Catherine received her master of arts degree in creative writing and media studies from New York University and her bachelor of arts degree in English from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, with minors in history and mass communication. Her writing has appeared in The Advocate (Louisiana’s largest newspaper), OT Practice magazine, Quiet Mountain: New Feminist Essays, and Mused, the BellaOnline Literary Review. For more, visit www.catherinehensley.com.

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The Curvy Girls Club by Michelle Gorman [BookBlitz}

 

The Curvy Girls Club US

Chick Lit

 

Imagine a world where looks don’t matter

Pixie, Ellie, Katie and Jane have been best friends since meeting at Slimming Zone. Tired of being judged by the number of calories they consume, they decide to form a different kind of club. The fun evenings they spend together, not worrying about their size, make them happier than they’ve been for years.

But the club doesn’t stop real life from getting in the way and together the girls have to address some much bigger issues than just their weight…

“This is a delightful book of friendship, acceptance, and belonging for anyone who has ever wondered: “What if?”” Publishers Weekly

Gorman is an advocate of helping women to learn to be happy in their own skin and hopes that this book will lend itself to engaging audiences and start the New Year feeling less obsessed by their weight and more focused on learning to love themselves.

 

Book Trailer

Author Bio

Michele Gorman is the USA Today best-selling author of eight books, including Bella Summer Takes a Chance and The Expat Diaries (Single in the City) series. Her first book, Single in the City, debuted at number 8 in The Bookseller’s Fiction Heatseekers bestseller chart. She is also a founding member of the publishing collective, Notting Hill Press, and has published upmarket commercial fiction under the pen name Jamie Scott. Born and raised in the US, Michele has lived in London for 16 years. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films but objects to spiders and the word “portion”.

UK Covers for The Curvy Girls Club

Curvy Girls Club UK eBook cover

 

The Curvy Girls Club UK paperback cover

 

Email: MicheleGormanPR@NottingHillPress.co.uk

Twitter: @MicheleGormanUK

 

One Day This Will All Make Sense by Katie Jansson Shahin [BookBlitz]

One Day This Will All Make Sense - Book Cover

One Day This Will All Make Sense
by Katie Jansson Shahin

 

Chick Lit

In the three years since Emma, Human Resource professional by trade and writer at heart, moved to Los Angeles from Sweden it has been anything but smooth sailing. When she was offered a new job Emma thought she had finally found the security she’d been looking for since moving to the city of her dreams.

The bliss is short-lived as Emma struggles to adjust in her new role and environment. She fails to learn how to play by the unwritten rules and office politics of corporate America, leaving her defenseless against a new boss who soon makes it clear that he wants her gone. After having put her writing before her HR career for so long, Emma knows it was just a fluke when she was hired and is determined not to let it slip away. But she cracks under the pressure and is ultimately fired. Will she be able to dig herself out again? Or has she peaked at 27? More importantly, will she survive in the city that represents everything she has dreamt of becoming?

 

 

Excerpt

 

Not one day had passed since I had moved to LA two and half years earlier when I wasn’t grateful and aware of what city I was in. Not one morning had passed that I had driven to work, which was usually around six forty-five a.m., when my mind hadn’t gone completely quiet and at ease at the sight of Vine Street, coming off of the 101 South. I knew I was fortunate. Many young people in Sweden dreamed of moving to LA and tried so hard to find ways to stay once they made it here on a student visa. For the most part, people either got married or never found a way to stay. I, on the other hand, had gotten a green card through my dad since he’d become a naturalized citizen before I turned twenty-one. I continued down Vine Street and saw the W Hotel sign up in the sky, and a few blocks farther down I passed the bright red building that housed The Redbury hotel, with the world famous Capitol Records Building on my right side.

As I got on to the 101 North, driving ten miles an hour in Friday traffic, I wondered to myself what it was about LA that had me so wrapped around its finger. The first time I fell in love with California was when I watched The O.C. Shortly thereafter my dad moved here from Wisconsin, and I was able to go visit the place I had only seen on TV. Of course, the entire show was filmed in LA, but I didn’t know that back then. I then discovered the show Entourage, and that’s when real things started to happen inside me. I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. Was it the beautiful weather and the smell of freshly-cut grass all year round? Was it the wide streets you could barely cross in time before the streetlight turned red for the pedestrians again? Was it the buildings that on the outside looked like nothing more than a chunk of cement, but on the inside were beautifully decorated lounges? Was it the powerful rush I had gotten the first time I went ninety on the empty freeway at three a.m.? Or was it simply the fact that I knew I was in the same city where all the Hollywood movies came from?

While I saw all the beauty that L.A had to offer, I wasn’t oblivious to all the things that other people usually saw as the downside of moving to LA: the constant sound of traffic and honking; the fuel-filled air and the fog; the enormous city where everything was separated by insane distances; the huge freeways; the above-ground electrical lines; the cracks in the pavement left by earthquakes. I saw all those things too. But my love for this city was an unconditional kind of love—I didn’t love LA despite its flaws. I loved it even more for them. We could be flawed together.

 

Author Bio

Katie’s love for writing is versatile. Before taking the big leap into novel writing she focused mostly on screen writing. In addition to that, she has a blog where she writes book reviews and articles on writing: An Authorista’s Blog.Katie Jansson Shahin - Picture

Katie is originally from Sweden but moved to California four years ago and currently resides in the North Bay area just outside of San Francisco. When she’s not working on her writing, she is an HR and recruiting professional. Although her debut novel is not a biography, as you may have guessed One Day This Will All Make Sense is heavily inspired by her own experience moving from Sweden to Los Angeles and her life there.

 

Links

  • Blog: http://anauthoristasblog.blogspot.comAmazon US: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00QLFKLRA

    Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B00QLFKLRA?*Version*=1&*entries*=0

  • Twitter: @KJanSha

Milked by Lisa Doyle [BookBlitz]

milked lisa doyle

By and large, Amanda Keane makes pretty good decisions. Okay, she might not have the best taste in men, but she’s got great friends, a good job, and an independent spirit. That is, until her 30th birthday ushers in a whirlwind romance with a sexy Irish musician who leaves her, not at the altar as she imagined, but accidentally pregnant. And when he disappears, she’s downsized out of a job, her apartment is robbed, and lapsed health insurance coverage leaves her with a C-section to pay for, Amanda is launched headfirst into the life of a broke single mom. But her friend and uber successful ob-gyn, Joy, clues her in to an unlikely temp position with one of Chicago’s celebrity elite that just may be the answer to all her woes. Or could it be just the beginning?

It’s with serious trepidation that Amanda embarks on her surprisingly lucrative new career: underground wet nurse to the offspring of Chi-town’s rich and famous. Amanda must quickly understand how to live at the whims and mercy of the one percent as she deals with the irony of nursing – and loving – someone else’s child, while still making ends meet for her own daughter. And then there’s Cute Daycare Dad (aka Dan), who’s obviously interested in her. But can she afford to tell him what she really does for a living? Is her new job (something she thought went out with the 19th century) a shameful thing? Just another way of selling her body? Or does it have something to teach her after all?

A novel of motherhood, its many demands, and all the little triumphs along the way, MILKED is a warm and witty debut about making tough choices and traveling the roundabout road to happiness.

 

Excerpt

 

“Can you hear me?” said a slight, wiry man with glasses and an authentic Irish brogue. I hadn’t even noticed as a full band of six—no, seven—guys had assembled in the corner of the bar. And oh God, Eamonn was standing there holding a violin. (Is there an Irish word for violin? Would they call it a fiddle?) This was possibly better than a guitar.

“Without further ado, I’d like to introduce you to Failte,” said the older man, and we all applauded. The band started out with a lively piece and some of the presumably regular patrons started clapping and cheering.

Over the next hour, I sat transfixed watching them (okay, him) as the rest of my group kept chattering away. It wasn’t just his looks that made him sexy; it was the way his hands moved on the violin, how he put his whole body into the song, how he was so in tune with the rest of the group. There were so many more of them than you’d see in a typical bar band, and they all had to play off of each other, producing these amazing harmonies. There was another violinist (fiddler?) playing as well, but I could pick out Eamonn’s the entire night. It sounded sweeter. I had never appreciated Irish music at all before that night. In fact, I had thought it was kind of cheesy. There was nothing cheesy about the way Eamonn looked playing it.

Anthony, good sport that he had been, begged off at ten, citing an early call schedule starting the next day.

“Thank you for the wine,” I said, giving him a pat on the hand as he left. He nodded and left. Meg and Henry soon followed, giving me quick hugs goodbye.

Just then, Eamonn took the microphone from its stand. “We’ve got time for just one more song tonight. I understand there’s a lass here celebrating a birthday?” His eyes scanned the room for about half a second before landing on mine.

Oh, God. I managed a small wave as my friends started to clap and hoot in my direction.

“Any requests, love?” he asked, wiping a little sweat from his brow.

Crap. I didn’t know any Irish songs.

“Er. Something by U2, maybe?” I squeaked out.

He conferred with his bandmates for a moment. They all then left the stage except for Eamonn. He pulled a stool up closer to the microphone and set it back in its stand, then adjusted it for height. He sat down, wiped his brow again, then smiled at me and started to play.

A hush fell over the bar as he alone proceeded to play the most extraordinary version of “All I Want Is You.” Everyone was enraptured at this point, not just me. It was so melodious, so hauntingly beautiful and unlike anything I’d ever heard. I’d never been hugely into violin music before, but I knew I’d never listen to one the same way again.

When he played the last lines, it was like the end of a massage. I felt so refreshed, so relaxed, but damned if I didn’t wish it was longer. The bar erupted in applause, and Eamonn stood up to take a small bow. The wiry man returned to the stage and said, “How ’bout my nephew?” and gave Eamonn a large pat on the back.

Leigh turned to me after the cheers had died down.

“Seriously. If you don’t sleep with that guy tonight, I will,” Leigh whispered.

Let me just tell you that thirty-year-old me had never had a one-night stand before. And by definition, thirty-two-year-old me hasn’t either, thank you very much. I just wanted to make that clear. Leigh, on the other hand, she was kind of slutty. A great friend, sure, but she would be the first to admit she had lost track of her magic number halfway through her twenties.

“I’m not sleeping with anyone tonight, all right?” I said. But that’s not to say I was going to walk out that door and never see that guy again. Hell, no. I grabbed a coaster from the center of the table, and scribbled the words “Birthday Girl” and my cell phone number on it.

 

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lisa doyle

 

Author Bio:

Lisa Doyle is a communications manager and freelance writer based in the Chicago area. A native of Hinsdale, Illinois and a graduate of Miami University, she spent several years editing business-to-business publications for the personal care industry before moving to the nonprofit sector, and currently works in advocacy for homeless families at Bridge Communities in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. She has written for major beauty trade publications (Global Cosmetic Industry, Skin Inc, Salon Today, Modern Salon, Renew, Suburban Life) and is a contributor to WOMEN REINVENTED: TRUE STORIES OF EMPOWERMENT AND CHANGE (LaChance Publishing, 2010). Doyle is represented by Claire Anderson-Wheeler of Regal Literary, Inc., a full-service agency based in New York. For more about Lisa, please visit herwebsite.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bylisadoyle

Twitter: @bylisadoyle

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www.simonandfig.com


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Vacation by JC Miller [Bookblitz + Giveaway]

VacationCover

 

Dr. William Koval, a pragmatist with little faith in humanity, prefers to dwell in the eerily comforting microscopic realm, where he is master of his domain. But his worldview is upended when he decides to go on the English walking tour his wife had been planning before her murder three years earlier. Only when William confronts his past, including his troubled marriage, will he find a way to rejoin the living, to move forward, and perhaps love again. The real journey, he discovers, lies within.

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Excerpt

Jacked up on endorphins he ventured downtown. On a whim he decided to check out a high-end men’s clothing store, Les Hommes. Entering the shop, he was immediately struck by the theater, the drama. The crisp scent of fine fabrics, the artful yet calculated display of footwear. Stacks of shirts folded with military precision, arranged not by color, but texture. In spite of the pageantry, the shop appeared deserted. Other than a lone gentleman browsing neckties, William was alone.
Before he had a chance to duck out a woman emerged from backstage to ambush him. “Are you looking for anything in particular?”
“I’m looking for something a little more summery, I suppose.”
“What’s the occasion?”
Her question flummoxed him. What was the occasion? “It’s a date, kind of a date.”
She tilted her head to one side, looking him over. “Lucky woman,” she concluded.

 

JC MillerAuthor Bio:

JC (Jeanne) Miller, M.A., is an educator and founding member of JAM, an editorial-consultation team. An avid reader, aspiring traveler and table tennis enthusiast, she resides in Northern California.

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The Tantalizing Tale of a Bitter Sweetheart by Jessica Ashley Dafoe

 

 

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Chick Lit

 

Successful, lucky in love, taking the world by storm?…..not quite. Portia Delaney is down on her luck, disgruntled in a dead- end, mind- numbing career with little prospects and is not even close to finding a stimulating romance to take her mind off her lack-luster situation. Her defeatist attitude and awkward idiosyncrasies don’t help much either. But with rock bottom comes a choice, lie down and enjoy the cold and barren ground beneath, or climb that ladder of success to the top. Portia finally sets out to do just that. With a fantastic group of friends and a bit of fateful circumstance on her side, she begins her trek up and out of the despair filled trenches. Her dwindling negativity is replaced with an energy that takes her on the adventure of a lifetime to the City of Light and beyond. A new romance, a lead on a job of her dreams and the support of the best friends a girl could ask for, have her believing that nothing can go wrong. Or could it? It’s not all champagne and celebration on the climb to the top and Portia soon finds out that with success, often comes hardships and unwelcome competition.

Excerpt

“Portia!! Portia!! Get up already! You’re about a zillion minutes late for your first day. Come on you lazy imp!”

Oh, I hate being torn out of a lovely slumber when I’m in the middle of the most wonderful dream; woken up by the horrendous bellowing of none other than my meddling, unbearable roommate, Minnie. The dream was perfection, and waking to a reality that can only be described as the exact opposite of perfection, is highly undesirable, yet this similar feeling each morning as I come to, has been my lot in life.

I slowly open one eye to see a familiar, thin, curly haired red head glaring at me from my bedroom doorway. I quickly shut it and feign being back in a deep sleep. Why oh why can’t I wake up to a dark haired, charming and handsome man as opposed to this?

“I saw that, Portia Delaney!” she sounds frustrated. “Not only are you late, but you’re making me late too, because I’m doing my duty as your friend and roommate to be sure that you don’t screw this one up! Now get on with it! Up, up, up!”

At this point she has found her way to the bottom of my bed and is now dragging me by my perfectly pedicured feet, because you never know when you may end up on a date with a gentleman who is won over by a well-cared for set of tootsies, (although I haven’t been on a date with a “gentleman” in over 6 months), and has just about gotten me to the point of full on bailing off the bed when I give in.

“OK! OK! You maniac! I’m up and I can be ready in 5 minutes flat, so get your skinny rear out of my room and let me get myself together. Thank you and please be on your way now.” I quickly jump to my feet after Minnie has unhanded them, and sternly guide her out into the hall slamming the door behind her. “Have a lovely day!” I manage to say in a sharp and clearly irritated voice.

Minnie is a workaholic, freakishly organized, highly paid executive at an ad agency. Why she still wants or needs a roommate is beyond me. I suppose it’s because work is her life and any ounce of energy she has, she wants to be poured into her career, not her home life or even love life for that matter. Minnie is the power-hungry career oriented woman who honestly, no word of a lie, could not give a damn whether she ever marries or has a family of her own. Sometimes I wish I had that mindset, because I, Portia Delaney, am ever hopelessly focused on finding that one soul mate

Now what? Dressed, yes I must choose an outfit for the first day at yet another mind-numbing, low paying office job at yet another medical office.  I really want to be styling the rich and famous, not to mention designing clothes that are intended to be strutted down the runways of Paris and Milan; not to be stuck in a dead end job that has me working for pompous and self- absorbed doctors, who get to drive off in their luxury cars and head home to their glamorous trophy wives not to mention who give absolutely no notice of the front desk help. Why didn’t I listen to my heart instead of my nagging parents?

Alright, outfit, yes outfit. Well this is the most inexcusable tidbit of all. I’m here selecting an outfit for a first day at a job where my only selection can be from an assortment of various coloured scrubs, when I want to be making a selection between Gucci and Versace.  Lavender it is, I suppose. With that disgruntled decision made, I reach for my terribly ordinary lavender scrubs, quickly pull them on, jet into the bathroom and whisk a brush through my hair while applying a pinch of foundation and blush. A bit of tinted lip gloss and a quick once over with the toothbrush and I’m set to go. Yes to go to my …well…bore of a career. Pay increase or not, just the thought of getting compensated to give up my dreams on a daily basis makes my stomach turn, and anxiety take over.

“But enough of this negativity Portia Delaney” I say out loud to my reflection in the hall mirror, “You are a successful, adorable, intelligent, creative and inspirational woman with amazing potential. For you nothing is impossible!” Ok, so do I actually believe this bunk… not a word. My shrink surely is trying to make me think I do, but let’s face it I’m at rock bottom with S.O.S. carved in the sand and flare guns blazing.

I suppose, however, there is nowhere to go but up.  Work is blah, love life is blah, family life is… well, is what it is. My friends are mostly amazing, but sometimes having great friends, who seem to have it all together, just help to highlight everything lacking in your own life. With that summation of my view on my life circumstance, I slip on my god awful, yet comfy crocs, grab my Mark Jacobs purse, because I must still demonstrate some good taste in my daily wardrobe, and strut out the door while working those lavender scrubs to the max.

Author BioJessica Ashley Dafoe resides in Toronto where she is an educator by day and a literary enthusiast and writer by night. She attained her BA in English Literature at The University of Ottawa and her B Ed at Brock and Queen’s University.
jessica ashley dafoe
When Jessica does not have her nose in a book or is not scribbling out her ideas for her newest tantalizing tales, she’s most likely keeping busy trying out various exciting activities and delicious cuisine that the great city of Toronto has to offer or planning her next getaway to her immediate destination of choice. The travelling bug bites her often.

A romantic comedy addict to the core, she enjoys all things silly, frivolous and emotionally endearing which is the reason she writes stories that encompass all of these qualities.

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The Mission by CC Solomon [BookBlitz]

 

21528924

 

The Mission by CC Solomon

 

Chick Lit

 

 

Rule #6: Be mysterious, but always approachable…keep him wanting more!

Rule #11: Always remember, no sex in the beginning. Make him wait!

Rule #19: You’ve got to give a little to get a little. Be giving of yourself, and it will make a lasting impression to keep your Mr. Right.

Sheila and Denise are successful, funny and attractive, but very single women. Not that being single is horrible; but when Denise is hassled to have a date to an old friend’s wedding-of-the-century, and Shelia needs an escort to an industry banquet where everyone who’s anyone will be in attendance, being single loses its perks. To add to the dilemma, Sheila tells a little white lie to her workplace nemesis about dating a successful music producer, which explodes into a career-threatening rumor. Under extreme pressure from family, friends and coworkers, they resort to making a pact. Their Mission: Get A Man in Three Months. They will use “proven” rules to finding their Mr. Rights. Rules that worked for a friend of a friend …how hard could it be?

Join them in their hilarious, and sometimes heartbreaking adventures as chapter by chapter they follow a new rule, and delve into the treacherous world of Washington, D.C. dating. The gal pals suffer through speed dating (Sam Needs-a-Bath). They allow themselves to be set up on blind dates (Bitter Crying Kevin). They try a dating service (Apron-Strings Adrian). They try the bar scene (Smoky the Bear who smokes more than cigars). They even meet men in the beauty salon (Javier Not Quite Straight). And there’s more, much more. Surrounded by family drama, workplace stressors and their own hang-ups about love, will the rules actually help them find their Mr. Rights in time for their events?

Excerpt

 

Chapter Twenty

Rule #19: You’ve got to give a little to get a little. Be giving of yourself, and it will make a lasting impression to keep your Mr. Right.

Some people were natural givers, and others were natural takers. I didn’t think that was the case with Terrance and me, but ever since our argument where we’d both divulged more than we’d planned, we had been pretty tight-lipped. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, it’s just that I didn’t see the point in bringing up memories of his dead father, or discussing his alcoholic mother. It would just be too painful for him, and I had no advice to give. So my best role was to be a place he could escape all that. I assumed he felt the same because he hadn’t bothered me about how I was doing with my father, or trying to build a relationship with my stepmother.

Maybe that wasn’t the right way to go, but I just wanted the good stuff right now. For once I just wanted to hold onto that good feeling about a guy, and push away the fact that he came from a family with mental illness, and what the risk of that could be genetically if by some miracle we were to last, get married, and have kids. It was depressing, and I needed to focus on the good. Pessimism was too commonplace for me. So for now, sharing was not caring.

I was thinking all this as I excused myself and went to Terrance’s bathroom that evening after a wonderful meal he’d prepared for me quite out of the blue. Men did not call me on a Tuesday evening and say ‘hey, can I cook you dinner?’ And if they did, I was automatically suspicious, thinking they just wanted to find an excuse to get me in their house to try to hook up. No man is that giving. However, Terrance and I had already had sex, so at this point I could let go of suspicion.

He was a really good cook to my surprise, but some of the spinach from the salad he’d made had taken up residence in between my teeth, and I couldn’t ignore the yucky feeling. I looked in the bathroom mirror and tried to push the offending vegetable bit out with a fingernail, all ladylike, but when that didn’t work I opened up his medicine cabinet to see if he had any dental floss. Despite the stereotype about British teeth, his were quite nice and, like I hoped, there was floss… right next to several prescription bottles.

Ignoring them was the thing to do. I mean, I shouldn’t have even opened the cabinet in the first place. But I truly had honest intentions, and now that I had seen them, I couldn’t just ignore them. And my eyes couldn’t just not see the titles of the prescriptions, and I couldn’t just not take out my smartphone and confirm my suspicion about the use of these drugs on the Internet. And I couldn’t just not read that those medications were, like I thought, associated with depression, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Suddenly all I wanted was an escape or a do-over. But now that I knew, I couldn’t just un-know. It seemed the good times were over. I rolled my eyes in frustration. Why was I always getting the maladjusted guys? Then I immediately felt guilty for thinking that. Terrance had been through a lot in his life; who wouldn’t be depressed every now and then? But he never told me. Then again, I reasoned, it was his business, at least for now. I didn’t share all my health issues. Heck, I didn’t even tell him when I was on my period; why would he tell me when he was feeling a little down? Of course I was assuming that this was all it was, that it wasn’t something more serious.

I just couldn’t ignore it because something like this, much like my impending period, was bound to rear its ugly head and mess up everyone’s day. The question now was how to broach the topic. If only I could call Sheila to get some advice; but something this personal I just couldn’t share. I’d have to channel my inner Murder She Wrote and get to the truth on my own.

I went into the kitchen where Terrance was washing a pot. I grabbed the dish towel right before he reached for it. “Let me help.”

He smiled and shook his head. “You don’t have to.”

“And yet I want to.” I took the pot from him. “That dinner was so good, Terrance. Really. I think I needed that spinach. Isn’t there iron in it? Did you know I’m anemic, and I have a vitamin D deficiency?”

“Really?” he replied, scrubbing vigorously at another pot.

“You should just let that soak. Yeah, between taking pills for iron, vitamin D, a women’s multivitamin and now going on the pill, I feel like an old person. I have to get one of those pill cases.”

Terrance chuckled as he filled the pot with hot water to soak it.

“You take any pills?” Hmm, didn’t feel as smooth a transition as I would have liked.

Apparently Terrance didn’t think so either, because he gave me squinted eyes, turned the water off, then moved away from the counter. “Take it you saw my drug supply in the cupboard?” he asked, his back to me.

I put the pan I was drying down. “I was looking for dental floss and just glanced at them. I mean, it’s your business, you don’t have to share. It’s no biggie.” It was a biggie, please share so I can stop freaking out.

 

 

 

Author Bio
C.C. is originally from Baltimore, Maryland and has actively written fiction since the age of eleven. She is an avid “chick lit” reader and urban fantasy fan. In 2012, she participated as a writer and actress in the 48 hour film project. In her other life, she works in cc solomonEqual Employment and Civil Rights for the Federal Government. Before becoming a public servant, C.C. briefly practiced law after graduating from the University of Maryland School of Law. C.C. currently resides in the Washington D.C. area and is an active blogger. The Mission is C.C.’s first novel and she is working on her next novel in the genre of urban fantasy.

 

 

 

 

 

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French Toast by Glynis Astie [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

 

 

 

21526533

 

Chick Lit

Blurb

Sydney Bennett is back! And her pursuit of perfection is alive and well. Naïve to the core, Sydney believed that when she finally married the man of her dreams, the hard part was over. Following a civil ceremony as a means to keep Louis from being deported, Sydney continues to plan the fairytale wedding that she had dreamed of since the age of five. Much to her chagrin, she discovers that her mother-in-law is planning what seems to be a rival wedding in France that SHE has been dreaming about for her only child since before he was born. How will poor Sydney be able to ensure two perfect weddings in the midst of Louis’ fruitless job search? Especially when her mother-in-law’s idea of perfection appears to be having Sydney embarrass herself in front of hundreds of French people that she has never met?
As if she didn’t have enough on her mind already, Sydney finds herself faced with the trials and tribulations of being a wife. Sydney had always heard that marriage was hard, but she thought that this was just a ruse that married couples portrayed in a bid to make single girls feel less desperate. But as the bills pile up and emotions run high, she realizes that there may just be some truth to this statement. And as she watches Louis’ perfection fade away before her very eyes, she begins to wonder if she made a rash decision in marrying a man that she had known for a mere six months.
With all of the obstacles that Sydney and Louis will encounter, will they be raising their glasses in celebration or watching their impulsive marriage crash and burn? One thing is for certain, Sydney and Louis Durand are headed for one hell of a toast…

 

Excerpt

 

Sydney’s Extraordinary Mother-in-Law

Introduction:  Sydney spends her first morning in France in the clutches of Louis’ mother, Simone.

I closed my eyes, took another deep breath and got out of bed.  I followed Louis’ example and got dressed, assuming that his parents were waiting for us to have breakfast.   I had taken a quick bath last night (his parents were old school and did not have a shower), but I still felt the travel grime on my skin.  Further bathing would just have to wait until later.

As I was putting on my shoes, Louis told me that he was going to check in with his parents.  I nodded and grabbed my watch off of the nightstand.  I put it on quickly, opened the door and was immediately met with his mother’s smiling face.  I nearly jumped out of my skin.

“Simone!”  I smiled like a complete lunatic.

She smiled back at me, handed me a wicker basket with a cloth in it and promptly ushered me outside.  Never mind the fact that I really had to go to the bathroom or that there was already a stubborn rumbling in my stomach.  I exhaled slowly and counted to ten.  Just relax, Sydney.  Once I had a modicum of control, a very important question occurred to me.  Where could we possibly be going at eight-thirty in the morning?  With wicker baskets no less? (No, that is not considered to be a second question.  It is simply an essential extension of the first.)

As the myriad of possible scenarios raced through my mind, I noticed that she was leading me around the back of the house.  I also noticed that she was dressed in sweats, old shoes and had a kerchief on her head.  This was not the way his mother normally dressed.  Something was very, very wrong.

I let out a sigh of relief as I caught sight of an enormous vegetable garden.  There were endless rows of lettuce, tomato plants, pumpkins, grapes and eggplant.  It was amazing!  Well, it was to me.  I couldn’t grow anything.  All of my houseplants died shortly after I brought them home.  To my great disappointment, I had not inherited my mother’s gift for gardening.  I smiled as I realized that Simone and my mom were going to have some serious bonding material.  It was easy to see them spending hours out here together.

Suddenly, Simone pulled me away from the beautiful garden and into a side building.  What were they growing in here?  A flash of feathers accompanied by rapid clucking and flying poop answered that question fairly quickly.   One of the chickens had jumped up in my face and pooped down the front of my shirt.  Apparently they don’t like strangers.  Simone laughed so hard that I worried for her safety.  She kept saying what sounded like “chicken shit” in French.  Sadly, the profane words are the ones I understand the best and we all know that I will NEVER forget the word for chicken.  EVER.

I grinned at her and followed her back to the house.  I knew only too well that this story will be told over and over at every event that we attended this week.  In fact, I would not be surprised in the least if this incident made it into Louis’ father’s wedding toast.

We entered the living room of his parents’ house to find Louis and his father drinking coffee and watching the morning news.  His mother immediately pointed to me and launched into the story.  Louis and his father laughed until they had tears streaming down their faces.  As I stood there watching them, I reminded myself that I was an amazing wife.  Not every woman would put up with this kind of shit.  Pun absolutely intended.

Eventually, Louis came over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  “Syd, I am so sorry.”  He paused to catch his breath.  “Are you ok?”

I smiled indulgently at him.  “Bluey, I desperately have to pee, I am ravenously hungry, I need coffee and I am covered in chicken shit.  What do you think?”

Unfortunately for me, that made him laugh even harder.  Well, at least I would have a good story for my dad.  This kind of thing is right up his alley.  He is always telling me how funny I am.  And it is usually during moments like these.  Moments of humiliation.  Louis and my dad are alike in the most annoying ways.

 

Excerpt from French Toast by Glynis Astie, Copyright 2014

 

 

 

Author Bio

Glynis never expected in her wildest dreams to be a writer. After thirteen years in the Human Resources Industry, she decided to stay at home with her two amazing sons. Ever in search of a project, she was inspired to write the story of how she met and married her wonderfully romantic French husband, Sebastien, in six short months. The end result became her first novel, French Twist.

glynis astie

As this novel is only the beginning the story, Glynis has just released the sequel, French Toast and has begun writing the final chapter in the trilogy, French Fry. When she is not writing, she is trying to keep the peace amongst the three men and two cats in her life, finding missing body parts (Lego pieces are small!), supervising a myriad of homework assignments and keeping a tenuous hold on her sanity by consuming whatever chocolate is in the vicinity.

 

 

 

 

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Destination Wedding by Deanna Lynn Sletten [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

Destination Wedding

 

 

Chick Lit

 

 

Blurb

 

Life is full of surprises…

Claire Martin’s life is perfect, or at least she tells herself it is. She owns a successful clothing boutique, has a steady, dependable boyfriend, and a beautiful grown daughter who is about to be married. Sure, Claire’s husband of twenty years left her for a younger woman four years ago, but that is all in the past. Now, Claire is looking forward to her daughter’s Bahama wedding and spending a week in paradise. The only thing Claire dreads is her ex-husband and his wife will also be on the island. Claire is determined to make the best of it, though. What Claire doesn’t realize is ignoring her ex-husband for the week is going to be impossible.

James Martin’s life is a mess. His wife of less than four years has made him the most miserable man on earth and now they are in the middle of a messy divorce. He’s happy that he can forget her for a week as he goes off to the Bahamas to attend his lovely daughter’s wedding. Jim is embarrassed to admit to his daughter and his ex-wife, Claire, that he made the biggest mistake of his life when he left her for another woman, so he makes up a story as to why his new wife didn’t come along. When he and Claire are unexpectedly forced upon each other, Jim soon realizes what he’s lost and he begins to wonder if he can find a way back into Claire’s heart.

 

 

Excerpt

Jim’s eyes turned back to Claire standing beside Mandy and Kaylie in the water. The three women had picked up something from the water and were standing close together, examining it. The younger girls were wearing bikinis. Claire had on a bikini too, but she’d pulled on a pair of jean shorts over the bottoms. Jim wondered why. Even at the age of forty-five, Claire’s body could hold its own against the younger girls. Jim smiled as he admired her long legs and narrow waist. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think all three women were the same age.

 

Steven had proposed to Claire. That unwanted thought popped into his head out of nowhere. What in the world did Claire see in that stiff, egotistical, workaholic? Sure, Steven always said all the right things at the right time, but didn’t Claire realize it was a show put on by a practiced salesman? Steven was a phony, through and through. Claire couldn’t possibly want to marry a jerk like that.

 

But why do I care? I’m the one who left her. Those words came uninvited into Jim’s head.

 

Jim lifted his body and propped himself up on his elbows, his lower back suffering the consequences of his actions. His eyes scanned the beach. Craig and his friend Cameron were out in the water, snorkeling. Mark was a short distance away from Jim, lying in the sun while Angela walked down the strip of beach looking for seashells. Glen and Lisa had gone on a beer run. But despite everything else Jim could have focused his eyes on, they still returned to Claire.

 

Jim thought back five years to when he started looking at Diane instead of Claire. He’d just turned forty-one, he was working all the time, and his daughter was grown and in college. Claire was always busy with her boutique, or so it seemed, and Jim found himself spending more time at the office and less time at home. He and Claire had been together for twenty years. They’d grown comfortable with each other. Too comfortable. They no longer etched out time to spend together as they had earlier in their marriage. There were no date nights, no dinners out, and no going to the movies. They saw each other in the morning before work and on Sundays when both were home and Mandy came home for dinner. As far as either of them knew, their marriage was typical of other couples their age. But then, Jim met Diane, and something changed.

 

Jim had felt he was growing old, and if he admitted it to himself, he’d been afraid of it. Diane, on the other hand, was only twenty-five, had a zest for life, and for some unknown reason had a crush on him. Instead of ignoring her, he’d enjoyed the attention of this younger, attractive woman who built up his ego and made him feel young again. She told him he was handsome, she laughed at his stupid jokes, and she was available. He fell hard for her, and had left Claire behind.

 

“Why?” he asked aloud as he sat alone on the beach.

 

“Why what?” Glen walked over with a cooler full of beer and plopped down beside Jim, offering him a bottle. Lisa waved at them and headed out to where Claire and the girls stood in the water.

 

“Nothing,” Jim said in answer to Glen’s question. “I was just talking to myself.”

 

“Hmmm. Could be the first sign of heatstroke. Maybe we should get you in the shade,” Glen said with a grin.

 

Jim took a sip of beer and let his gaze trail off toward Claire again. She was laughing at something Lisa had said to her. He wished he could make her laugh again. With him, not at him like she had last night about the creaking cot.”

 

Jim pulled himself up into a sitting position and made an old man grunt from the pain it caused his back.

 

“What was that coming from you?” Glen asked.

 

“That’s the noise of an old man who slept on a cot last night,” Jim told him. “And it isn’t pretty.”

 

Glen laughed. “That’s what you get for divorcing my sister. It’s karma, man.”

 

Jim looked over at Glen. They hadn’t spent much time together since the divorce, but when they were together for family events like Mandy’s college graduation, Glen had always been nice to Jim. “Why don’t you hate me for leaving Claire? You’re her big brother. You should have punched me out.”

 

“Well, I did think of it, but I figured your punishment was losing Claire. And if you were happier not married to her, then I guess I thought she’d be happier without you.”

 

Jim stared at Glen. “Is she? Happier without me, I mean?”

 

Glen shrugged. “She has Steven now. You have Diane. People move on.”

 

Jim turned to look in Claire’s direction again. The women were walking back toward shore.

 

“You have moved on, right?” Glen asked.

 

Jim looked at Glen. “Huh?”

 

Glen pointed toward the women. “I have a feeling you’re not watching Mandy, Kaylie, or Lisa. If it’s Claire you have your sights on, watch out. You’re married to Diane now. Claire is off limits.”

 

Jim sighed. “Even if I had my sights on Claire, she’d be the first one to tell me off. So you don’t have to worry.”

 

“Good,” Glen said. “Don’t hurt her again, Jim. She deserves better.”

 

Jim nodded. Glen was right. So why did it bother him so much?

 

Author Bio

Deanna Lynn Sletten is a bestselling and award-winning author. She writes women’s fiction and romance novels that dig deeply into the lives of the characters, giving the reader an in-depth look into their hearts and souls. She has also written one middle-grade novel that takes you on the adventure of a lifetime.

deanna lynn sletten

Deanna’s women’s fiction novel, Widow, Virgin, Whore, made the top 100 bestselling books on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble in 2014. Her romance novel, Memories, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2012. Her novel, Sara’s Promise, was a semifinalist in The Kindle Book Review’s Best Indie Books of 2013 and a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Book Awards.

 

 

Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, she enjoys walking the wooded trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd or relaxing in the boat on the lake in the summer.

 

 

 

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Bad Taste in Men by Kylie Gilmore [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

Bad-Taste-in-Men-Kylie-Gilmore

 

 

Bad Taste In Men

 

Bad Taste in Men

Book Three Clover Park Series

By: Kylie Gilmore

Releasing July 14th, 2014

Blurb

Something’s Brewing Between Friends…

Rachel Miller knows opening a café with coffee and pastries will make her struggling bookstore the place to hang out. But when the bank turns her down and her best friend Shane steps in, she vows business will never ruin their friendship.

Gourmet ice-cream maker Shane O’Hare knows food, not women. To sweep Rachel off her feet, he secretly sells his beloved ’67 Shelby Mustang and becomes a partner in her café. And then she sets him up with a friend.

As they build the café together, and Rachel learns what Shane has sacrificed for her, she finds herself falling for him. Now way too much is riding on the success of this business venture—her career, her best friend, and her heart.

 

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22438615-bad-taste-in-men?ac=1

 

Excerpt

http://www.kyliegilmore.com/books/bad-taste-men-excerpt/

 

Author Bio

Kylie Gilmore was lucky enough to discover romance novels at a young age as they were strewn all over the house (thanks, Mom!). She writes quirky, tender romance with a solid dose of humor. Her Clover Park series features the O’Hare brothers, three guys you’d definitely have a drink with and maybe a little Kyliemore.

Kylie lives in New York with her family, two cats, and a nutso dog. When she’s not writing, wrangling kids, or dutifully taking notes at writing conferences, you can find her flexing her muscles all the way to the high cabinet for her secret chocolate stash.

 

 

 

 

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$25.00 Amazon or B&N Gift Card and Paperback Copy of THE OPPOSITE OF WILD (US ONLY)

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Live, Love & Laugh with Ute Carbone [BookBlitz + GIveaway]

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Title:  The P-Town Queen
Author:   Ute Carbone
Published:   June 2012
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  65,000
Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Content Warning:  Mild language and adult situations
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis:
Nikki Silva feels like she’s blown up her life even as her brothers tease her about blowing up a boat called the Mona Lisa. Divorced, funding for her shark research cut off, she’s moved back to Provincetown to live with her father in her childhood home. Nikki hopes to regain herself. She’s written a grant proposal for the newly formed Massachusetts Bay Commission to fund a study that will get her back to the sort of research she loves. The commission is run by her ex-husband Ned, who would rather have a migraine than give money to his ex-wife.
Marco Tornetti wants to turn a hole-in-the-wall Newark spaghetti joint into a trendy bistro. His silent partner, Fat Phil Lagosa, wants to use the place to meet questionable people for questionable business deals. When Fat Phil accuses Marco of a double cross and has him taken for a ride by one of his hit men, Marco knows he’s in too deep.
Marco escapes the hit man and takes the first bus out of the Tri-state area, a bus chartered by the Greater Teaneck Gay Men’s Choir and headed for Provincetown. Marco figures that Phil would never look for him in Provincetown‘s gay community. But when he meets Nikki and falls hard for her, he finds that pretending to be gay isn’t as easy as it would seem.
 
Excerpt from The P-Town Queen by Ute Carbone:
In my lifetime I have learned, among other things, not to overcook veal and never to forget a woman’s name the morning after. On that day I added another little ditty to my list: never blow up a dead whale with dynamite.
Max Groper had figured it for a horror show and so had washed his hands of the whole mess and stormed off to his van. Nikki, too, must have figured what would happen, but that woman likes trouble, I swear to God.
“We’d better stand back,” she said, with the same amused mischief in her eyes that she’d had at Good Vibrations. The cops had, in fact, already pushed the entire crowd back, so Nik and I went to stand in the front line, so to speak, right where the lot meets the beach in front of the first row of cars.
“I wish I’d brought the video camera,” Nik said. “I hope someone is recording this for posterity.” I looked around and noticed at least three video cams trained on the whale, which was now being wired for a trip to kingdom come. “YouTube bonanza,” said Nikki. “I’m surprised that the folks from Channel Four aren’t here.”
“Maybe we should go wait in the truck,” I said. I had this bad feeling that flying whale parts wasn’t going to be like the fountain light show at the Bellagio in Vegas.
 

 photo 070714-NAfterglow.jpgTitle:   Afterglow

Author:  Ute Carbone
Published:  January 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:   69,000
Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Content Warning: Language, PG-13 sexual content
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis:
India Othmar isn’t having a great year. Her husband of thirty-one years has left her for their son’s ex-girlfriend. Her grown children have moved home. Her best friend Eva seems determined to set her up with every oddball in their small Massachusetts town. And her most significant relationship these days is with Cherry Garcia.
But India is more resilient than she thinks. And though it will take a broken arm, a lawn littered with engine parts, some creative uses for shoes, and a scandalous love affair of her own, she learns, much to her surprise, that her life hasn’t ended with her marriage.
 
Excerpt from Afterglow by Ute Carbone:
“It’s just one date.” Eva held out the package.
“Spanx?” I asked, reading the label.
“Don’t you watch the View? Oprah? All of Hollywood’s leading ladies are wearing it. It’s like a gym in a box. Tone without the trouble.”
I unwrapped the girdle-like contraption and held it up; doubtful it could do much besides make me uncomfortable. “And this man. This card you gave me. You called him?”
“On your behalf, yes.” I frowned at her as I’d been frowning at the girdle contraption.
“Well, someone had to.”
“Explain to me again why you won’t date him.”
“Rule one,” Eva said as though lecturing a child.
“Never date a man you do business with,” I recited.
“Correct. Also, rule two applies here. He’s a friend of Carl Phillips, who I dated, when was that? Anyway, rule two. Never date the good friend of a man you’ve slept with.”
“I didn’t realize that dating was so complicated.”
“Very complex. You’re a bright woman. You’ll catch on. And J. Hank is the perfect primer date. He’s a nice man, once you get past the whole prison thing.”
I dropped the Spanx. “Come again?”
“Strictly white collar. A few months for a little tax mix up.”
“Shouldn’t there be a rule about dating an ex-con?”
“Oh, for God sakes, India. Martha Stewart went to prison.”
Eva held up both hands as though she were the scales of justice.
“Insider trading, a little tax problem. Hardly the same as rape and
murder. And you don’t have to marry him. In fact, more than one
date is inadvisable. He’s just for practice.”
“Practice?”
“Darling India, you haven’t dated in thirty years. J. Hank is
good practice.”
 

 

 photo 070714-NSeachingforSuperman.jpgTitle:  Searching for Superman

Author:  Ute Carbone
Published:  June 2013
Publisher:  Champagne Book Group
Word Count:  54,000
Genre:  Romantic Comedy
Content Warning:  Language, mild sexual content
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis:
Stephanie Holbrook has finally found a job she really loves: working as an assistant to Conrad Finch in a small regional theater that’s about three dollars and a power outage from being torn down. Stephanie wishes her love life would be as perfect as her job. She’ll be thirty on her next birthday and she still hasn’t found Mr. Right. According to Stephanie, Mr. Right has to be strong and brave, with great values and good looks. A guy a lot like Superman.
When Doug Castleberry shows up at her niece’s birthday party dressed as Superman, Stephanie is positive he’s not the real deal. Sure, he’s great with kids and he’s kind of cute. But he’s just a high school teacher making extra money by dressing up for kid’s parties. Hardly the strong, brave, and drop-dead gorgeous guy she’s looking for.
As the theater teeters ever closer to the edge of disaster, Doug proves to be a better man than Stephanie had ever imagined. Could he be the Superman she’s been looking for all along?
Excerpt from Searching for Superman by Ute Carbone:
As though her frustration had been carried across the airwaves, a white van with a castle stenciled to its side pulled into the Spellman’s driveway as Stephanie hung up. None too soon. She surveyed the damages. All the balloons had been popped. The presents had been opened in an attempt to restore order among the birthday guests. Wrapping paper was strewn across the floor in three rooms. Some of the girls were playing catch with a new Barbie doll. And several other children were using a new jump rope as a makeshift whip.
Steve had taken Max, who had somehow fallen asleep despite the ruckus, upstairs for a nap. Liz was attempting to clean bits of cookie dough from the counters and floors. Stephanie squared her shoulders, ready for a showdown with the belated Cinderella.
She marched down the driveway, ready to tell the Castle Creature just what she thought of abhorrently tardy behavior, when out of the van jumped Superman. He didn’t look so much like Superman as a man dressed for a Halloween party. He was too short for a superhero, for one, only a few inches taller than Stephanie. He was more wiry than muscular. He was cute, though. He had a full head of light brown curly hair and nice eyes. Not blue, like Christopher Reeve’s had been, but hazel. The eyes were looking right at her.
“Spellman?” he asked. When she didn’t answer, he smiled apologetically. “The GPS in the van isn’t working. And this development is a maze. I felt like I was in an episode of Lost. In which I was really lost. I figured I’d eventually run out of gas and Jane would have to put out an APB.” He looked at Stephanie with those hemlock eyes again. “Sorry.”
“You are not supposed to be Superman.”
“What?” He went to the van and drew a paper off the seat. “I’m sure. Yup. Says right here. Superman.”
She took the paper from him and crumbled it. “You are supposed to be Cinderella.”
“No.” He looked at her with a combination of horror and confusion. “Cinderella?”
“It’s a princess party. So you better have Cinderella in that van of yours.”
“It’s not my van. And, no, I don’t have Cinderella hiding under the backseat.” He gave her a no-harm-no-foul sort of shrug.
“Let me call Jane.”
Stephanie waved her cell phone at him. “What do you suppose I’ve been doing for the last hour?”
“Okay, okay. She’s probably… Let me go back to the shop, see what I can do.”
He turned to get back into the van. She gave his cape a tug. “You are not leaving. You can’t leave. There are twenty-five children terrorizing my sister’s house and you have to stop them.”
 

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About the Author:
Ute (who pronounces her name Oooh-tah) Carbone is an award winning author of women’s fiction, comedy, and romance. She and her husband live in New Hampshire, where she spends her days hiking, listening to music, drinking copious amounts of coffee, eating chocolate and dreaming up stories.
 
Giveaway Details:
There is an International tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • 3 Winners will each receive an eBook of Ute’s, publishers pick

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Aqua Alaskan Nights by Amanda Jones [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

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Blurb

After losing her job, Hayley struggles to make ends meet and allows her career status to define her. She finds inspiration in successful photographer Trevor Tott, but their professional aspirations clash when she experiences his questionable ethics along with unwanted advances from her overbearing boss. With the help of the ship’s crew, stunning Alaskan backdrops and a leap of faith, they might find business can be mixed with pleasure.

With cameos from favourite Aqua characters Harry and Casey, Amanda Jones weaves a plot that keeps the pages turning.

Love happens on The Aqua…

Have you jumped in yet? The Aqua series is the ongoing story of the cruise ship Aqua, where crew members such as Chef Amber and Captain Hallmann appear frequently, and other favourites, such as Harry and Casey, make cameo appearances. With each book in the series, the familiar characters and their stories grow and weave cleverly together. You’ll meet Hayley and Trevor again in books for the upcoming Alaskan and Caribbean series as well. Read along the entire series to get to know and understand the cruise ship, its passengers and regular crew members.

  Excerpt

HAYLEY CAUGHT her hat as a strong breeze blew onto the deck. She shoved the brim in her pocket, pulled her red curls into a ponytail and kept her eye on the camera screen as an iceberg floated down the glacier-carved fjord. The sun bounced off the blue glass as it bobbed in the sea, the summer light shimmering as if the water was a celestial globe. She pressed the shutter release but by the time the camera processed the picture and took the photo, the image was blurry. Why did she ever think of doing this?

Minutes earlier the glacier had released the clear blue ice with a sound louder than a cannon blast. She had watched in awe as it calved and cascaded into the thin arm of the bay, pushing water onto the glacial plateau, rocking the smaller ice pieces around it. An iceberg had been born before her eyes.

Hayley looked toward the maze of islands and coves that stretched along the Inside Passage. These were the moments she lived for – the raw beauty of the wilderness stirred a longing deep inside of her each time she stood in its midst. To her, nature was a kindred spirit and since she was a teen, she’d lived to protect it, from picketing at zoos to chaining herself to trees to protest against clear-cuts. That passion had led her to investigative reporting and she had covered the environment beat ever since.

She turned back to her camera. She had been in such awe of the moment, that she missed taking a photo and now struggled to capture the iceberg in some fashion. Words were her ability, to describe a moment rather than take a static image, but her prose wasn’t valued anymore. In the last round of cuts at the newspaper, her job landed on the chopping block. They no longer needed an environmental reporter – the stories from the wire were good enough.

To her dismay, the only job she could land was in public relations – she had crossed to the other side. And of all things, she was assigned a cruise ship company. Not only had she left her meaningful beat behind, she was now covering luxury travel, far from the world she had vowed to protect. Hayley spent years journeying to destinations, uncovering a story, or highlighting an area with natural heritage features, but in her new PR position she had an endless laundry list of tasks: photograph daily scenic shots, attend the workshops, interview the crew, plan the media trip with the photo workshop leader.

While her client was dining with the captain, she was running all over the ship to deliver the requested photos on time. And worse was, she didn’t have a creative eye. Some people could write music, others could dance to any beat, and photographers could capture a moment in one single image. She never could and always relied on publicity photos for her articles.

Yet she needed the job. She had a mortgage, car payments and college debt to pay. She had to hold onto the position at least until she found something better.

What made it worse was the client. Blake Harrison. The name already sounded harsh. He made it seem as if the free cruise was a big perk, yet with the workload she wouldn’t get much time to relax. On top of it, he didn’t cover any expenses and only dangled the carrot of a one-year contract if the cruise went well. She had to cobble together the money for the plane ticket to Vancouver and didn’t have much left over for a good camera. She had bought a cheap digitalhoping it would do the job. She spent the first few days learning how to use it and then realized its deficiencies. It was slow in capturing images no matter what speed she set it for – how would she ever get the wildlife pictures she needed? And she never knew she had a shaky hand – all the years she wrote for the paper, if she used a camera, it was their top of the line models that had an image stabilization feature.

She looked over to the man on her right. He had more than one camera body, a large format camera in his hand and then a Nikon with a telephoto slung over his shoulder. After so many years of holding down a steady job, one in which she won awards, it was hard to believe that she was starting over. Her life had been set, and then the entire global economy got turned on its side and her industry took the biggest fall. At times it seemed her life was coming apart and there was no way she could hold it together. It was at moments like this that she felt tears building up, and she pressed her lips together to fight them off. It was so unprofessional, in the middle of strangers on the deck of a ship, on a work assignment, but lately she couldn’t control her emotions. She had dipped into her savings and was at the brink of financial collapse, not knowing where she would live or get health insurance from. The pressure month after month had become too much and she worried how she would cobble her life together.

She looked back to the sea, where the iceberg had turned exposing a large gap in the shape of a heart. Two thin arms of ice reached out to form an arch above the turquoise water. She felt small in the presence of these large cities of ice, these mountains that folded into the distance. It made her life and her problems seem inconsequential in the grander scheme of things.

The glacier was built one snowflake at a time, over thousands of years and it had now come to the end of its lifecycle, gracefully floating to whatever awaited it. Mammoth next to the ship, but the size of an ice cube when it reached the open ocean, it was changing, sliding to the edge, holding on, and then breaking, tumbling into the sea, sloshing about till it found solid footing in a new environment.

How unlike this piece of ice she herself was. It might float for years, enduring elements as it traveled along the coastline. It would eventually melt, bit by bit, erode and be forgotten. Would her life be much different? In time, her work would be cast aside, buried in cyberspace, nullified among more timely articles. Nor did her life matter to anyone but herself and her cat. She would be forgotten.

This is why she found solace in nature. It talked to her without a word. Thoughts slipped into her mind and found a home, made sense. There were times, in fact, that she found she was more interconnected with nature than people.

Hayley dropped her chin into the wide collar on her jacket and turned back to her camera bag. She pulled out an old tripod and started extending the legs. It was the one good thing about this cruise – when she was out in nature, she forgot the rest of her life. Even if she was stuck behind a camera lens for some of the next two weeks, she was still close to the one element that soothed her.

“Don’t bother setting up your tripod.”

The voice pulled Hayley out of her thoughts and she looked toward the man with broad shoulders and a pointy face. “I always use one.”

“You’ve never shot on a ship before.”

“Of course I have,” she lied, fumbling with the tripod legs splayed on the deck. She was in a time crunch to get a shot of the ice slab before the ship turned.

“It’s a moving platform.”

“I’ve got lots of space,” she said curtly. She looked beyond him, toward the fjord that stretched into the distance, then at his long lens and bulky camera bag. Perhaps he did know something.

“True but you’ll be buffeted from the wind.” He pointed his chin toward the fast-moving clouds, his windbreaker billowing from the breeze. “It will be useless.”

“I have an anchor,” she said sharply and hung her bag to the center post. She walked toward the other end of the deck to scout a scenic shot.

“Don’t leave your camera unattended.”

She didn’t have time to be interrupted – she had to get a good image and deliver it to her client in an hour. She threw her arms out toward the water surrounding them. “What? Someone’s going to run off with it?”

“I never leave my camera unattended.” He wrapped his long fingers around the body of his camera. “It’s too expensive.”

“Never say never.”

He paused for a moment. At the top of his head, a small patch of bald skin glistened in the afternoon sun that poured over the mountainous coast. “I never leave my camera.”

She rolled her green eyes. The man irritated her but the scenery was so beautiful that she didn’t want to leave the deck and miss something.

He walked toward her, then dug around in his bag and handed her a camera. “I used to shoot with this.”

“It’s old.”

“But good quality.”

He pushed his sunglasses onto his forehead, and showed her the camera settings. He had soft blue eyes, the color of the ice floating past them, and his long face led to a warm smile. Then he handed the camera to her. “Go get that iceberg.”

HAYLEY’S PONYTAIL bobbed from side to side as she walked toward the bow. Trevor watched her kneel next to her backpack and remove a filter. Even though she was tiny, her fiery curls gave her away from across the boat.

She rested her elbows on the railing and took a photo, then checked it in the viewfinder. A smile spread across her face and she turned to him with a thumbs-up. She walked further down the deck and took more pictures.

He knew the pressure of getting a good photo and could sense it a mile away. Besides, he had watched her for a while that afternoon. She seemed to be a perfectionist, muttering to herself and criticizing each shot she took. In time, she had stressed herself so much that it seemed nothing was working.

And then, the iceberg drifted by and she lowered her camera in awe. He heard her talk to it as if it were a human, and then she murmured over and over, “Stay strong,” and, as she did, her shoulders dropped. Trevor edged closer to her, drawn to the exclamation and the wonder in her expressions. She wasn’t the only one susceptible to the iceberg – the lower deck was crowded the moment the iceberg calved with a loud boom, and when he looked down all he witnessed was a maze of hands pointing, and then the gasps and shouts. But among that chaos there was a sense of peace with this woman, as if she had stepped into a bubble of calm. She said, “Stay strong” one more time and at that moment, he felt a warmth spread through the palm of his hand. The unthinkable had happened to Trevor. The entire time the iceberg had drifted by, he hadn’t taken one photo. Not one.

It seemed she had come to the realization at the same moment and fumbled with her camera. He focused his zoom lens and took a few photos, then turned back to her. It was then that he mentioned the tripod, and in doing so, seemed to pop her out of the magical bubble she was in. It didn’t surprise him when she got defensive – perfectionists always did.

Trevor looked back toward the woman who now leaned her chin on the far railing, watching. He zipped up his bag and jotted down a note, then speared it on the hook of her tripod’s center post. It read: “Play with the camera this afternoon. I’ll see you around. -T”

He hadn’t signed his name – he wanted to leave her with an air of mystery.

 

 

Author Bio

Romance author, Amanda S. Jones, loves travel, chocolate and red wine. You’ll find all of these elements in the books she writes! Her first romance series, “Aqua” takes place on the cruise ship, Aqua, a slow-burning pleasure dome of food and attraction that spurs the reader’s imagination. Each book has exotic locations, sumptuous foods, seduction, enticement and true love, so open the pages and step aboard to see what’s in store for characters with the help of the ship’s crew, a romantic destination and a leap of faith. If you’re interested in updates on Amanda and her book series, sign up for the Aqua Club newsletter on her website!

 

 

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The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson [BookBlitz]

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 Blurb

It’s the story of Rosie, who at the ripe age of forty-four, discovers that she just might be a tiny bit pregnant. Unexpectedly so. As she puts it, she and Jonathan may have won the fertility sweepstakes since their incident of unprotected sex happened by accident and only one time in their 15-year relationship.

The trouble is…the may be splitting up. And Rosie may now need to become the full-time caretaker to her 88-year old rascal of a grandmother, who has always advised her against motherhood and commitment and giving up her right to do as she pleases.

Yep, it’s a story about a life going off the rails…as Rosie has to figure out if maybe what she needed all along was something that she never thought she wanted. But is it too late?

 

Praises for THE OPPOSITE OF MAYBE

 

Dawson’s charmingly eccentric cast of characters is at turns lovable and infuriating, ensuring a quick read helmed by a memorable, complex heroine. (Publishers Weekly)

 

A messy, funny, surprising story of second chances. (Kirkus Reviews)

 

“The Opposite of Maybe is a bighearted book about a woman whose life is upturned—and the quirky, endearing cast of characters who help her find her way to a new kind of happiness. At turns poignant and funny, this book is brimming with charm.” –Sarah Pekkanen, internationally bestselling author of The Best of Us and The Opposite of Me

 

“A quirky, warm, insightful, feel-good confection of a novel.” —Jane Green, New York Times bestselling author of The Beach House and Tempting Fate

 

“Funny, painful, heartbreaking and real. Maddie Dawson’s achingly realistic portrayal of a modern-day relationship and all its complexities is rich with humor and insight.” –Kristan Higgins

 

“The Opposite of Maybe is the perfect book to cuddle up with when you want to be immersed, charmed and entertained.” Roxanne Coady, owner of R. J. Julia Booksellers

 

Excerpt:

THE OPPOSITE OF MAYBE

By Maddie Dawson

[one]

They’re making love on Saturday morning—almost finished, but not quite close enough to the finish line to really and truly count—when the phone starts its earsplitting chirping right by their heads.

Jonathan, who had been lying on top of her, with his face contorted in what she was sure was ecstasy, groaning, “Rosie, Rosie, Rosie . . .” now comes instantly to a halt. His eyes dart to the telephone on the floor next to their mattress, and she says, “Ohhhh, no you don’t,” and they both start laughing. They know he can’t help it.

“No, no, no!” she says, and tightens her grip on him, still laughing. “Not now. Don’t get up to see who it is.”

“But I have to know,” he says mournfully.

“But why? You hate the phone. And you already know you’re not going to answer it.”

“I know, but I have to see,” he says. He bites his lip and gives her a sheepish look. “Come on, let me check it.”

“All right,” she says. “Go look, you big lug. But come back.”

He leans so far over the side of their mattress that he nearly falls onto the floor on his head, still tangled in the sheets. And then, laughing, he has to catch himself and walk on his hands until he can pull himself out of the wreckage and get upright on the floor.

Sex as vaudeville, she thinks. This is what they never tell you about long-term relationships: how you’d just die if you were ever shown a video of yourself trying to have ordinary, household sex on any given day. And how it would still be worth it to you.

He scrambles for his glasses and then peers down at the Caller ID, absently scratching the hairs on his belly. Last week he turned forty-five, and when they went out with friends for his birthday dinner, he proclaimed—in a toast, yet—that he had now officially become older than dirt. (Rosie, only a year younger, had been surprised to hear this.) Raising his glass, he had laughingly announced he was losing his eyesight, his hairline, most of his optimism, and just about the last shred of his vanity.

Now, watching him as he mindlessly pulls off the condom that has been hanging on for dear life and flings it across the room to the trash can, she thinks he really might have been serious.

The condom does a graceful midair arc and lands with a splat on the lampshade on her dresser. If it had been a gymnast, the Russian judge would have given it a nine. It definitely stuck the landing.

She looks at his face. He’s handsome still, no matter what he says. He has brown hair—okay, thinning somewhat and streaked with gray now—but his smooth, tanned face has hardly any lines, only a few crinkles around his wide brown eyes, which just now are scowling at the phone. That’s the trouble, she thinks: in the last two years, he’s looked perpetually dissatisfied. Maybe that’s what he was talking about on his birthday, how he doesn’t care about life the way he used to.

“It isn’t Soapie who called, is it?” she says. She has to go see her grandmother later today, and it would be just like her to call up at the last minute and try to change the plan. Especially since today is the day they are going to have The Big Talk—the “wouldn’t you really feel much safer with a home health aide” talk that Rosie has been putting off. She’s even secretly arranged for a potential aide candidate to show up—a wonderful British woman who claimed on the telephone that she knows precisely how to relate to “women of a certain age,” as she put it. So this is all orchestrated and it has to happen.

“Nope,” says Jonathan. “The culprit is somebody named Andres Schultz, and he’s from area code six-one-nine,” he says. “Do you know him?”

“No. Not for me.”

“Let’s see . . . six-one-nine is . . . um . . . San Diego.”

“Oh my God,” she says. “Do you really know all the area codes? Seriously?”

Of course he does. Numbers have always attached themselves to him. And also, he’s a collector of antique teacups—the kind from the dynasties in Asia and Europe, not from little girls’ tea sets—and he’s in constant touch with collectors from everywhere. It turns out there’s a whole subculture of wacky obsessives just like him, always on the Internet, comparing, blogging, judging whose collections are the biggest and the hottest, and gossiping about who’s been written up in the journals. It’s a world she never knew existed.

By now the call has been shuffled off to the land of voice mail, but Jonathan still stands there watching to see if the message light is going to come on. When it doesn’t, he says, “Shit. No message. Who could this guy be?”

“It might have been a wrong number, you know,” she points out. She sighs. “But why don’t you just call him back and find out, so we can get on with our lives?”

“No,” he says. “I don’t want to talk to him. I just can’t believe somebody from San Diego would call here at nine thirty on a Saturday. It’s six thirty in the morning there. What is he thinking?”

“I have no idea. But do you know what I’m thinking?”

“What?”

“I’m thinking I want you and your sweet hairy self to come back over here and resume having sex with me.”

He makes a face. “I think Mr. Happy might have moved on to thinking about teacups, and you know how once he goes there . . .”

“Oh, I can persuade Mr. Happy,” she says. She sticks a foot out from under the sheet and wiggles her toes at him, smiling.

“Yeah, well, maybe once upon a time, but lately he’s become more temperamental. Also—well, frankly he has to pee.” He frowns, looks at the phone again and then back at her. “I tell you what: I’ll go have a serious talk with him, and then we’ll see what he wants to do about the situation.”

“Remind him that he actually likes this sort of thing,” she says, and watches Jonathan’s cute bare butt disappear around the corner of the bedroom door. He’s humming “Born to Run,” which is lately his go-to song for the morning pee.

“Hey, you know what?” he calls from the bathroom. “I bet this guy Andres Schultz is somebody answering my call for another Ming Dynasty cup. That could be good.”

“Fantastic,” she says.

They currently have thirty-eight teacups stacked up in their living room, nested in white, archival-quality boxes—teacups that will never again see the light of day. Apparently they have to be protected from sunlight, dust motes, and destructive air currents so they can last into eternity. Jonathan and those funny, obsessive guys he e-mails are no doubt saving the world from the problem of teacup extinction.

As Rosie has explained to their friends, every time Jonathan latches on to a new hobby, he goes a little—what’s the clinical term?—oh yes, batshit crazy. It used to be Bruce Springsteen memorabilia, then it was National Geographics, and there was a brief foray into German shot glasses.

Funny how you don’t see something like this coming, and how after a while, you don’t even think it’s odd. As her friend Greta put it, when you’ve been with somebody for years, all their little insanities start to blend in with the good stuff about them, and even if you’re annoyed, you find you still love the whole exasperating package.

Still, she thinks, it would have been nice if they’d remembered to unplug the phone.

He comes back and slides into bed next to her, still naked, but now holding his laptop. Evidently Mr. Happy vetoed more sex. Fine. She should probably get up anyway and do her exercises, get ready for the day, and for Soapie.

“Let me just see if Andres Schultz is one of the guys on the e-mail list. Because the question is, why haven’t I ever heard of him? If he has my number, then you’d think . . .”

“Jonathan,” she says.

“What?”

“Do you think my grandmother is going to eat me alive when I tell her she has to get an aide?” she says. “Because I kind of do.”

This is yet another time when it would be so great if her mother were alive. Then she’d be the one to make all these arrangements and plans, take on some of the worrying. But Rosie’s mother died when Rosie was three, and that was when she went to live with Soapie.

Jonathan is clicking the computer keys and doesn’t answer her right away. “No, she’s old,” he says finally. “She knows she’s got to get help.”

“Yes, but she’s in denial,” says Rosie.

It’s true that Soapie is eighty-eight, but until recently she was the Betty White kind of eighty-eight, having her hair done twice a week and going to spas. It hadn’t ever occurred to her that she might have grown old. She’s still busy writing her latest “Dustcloth Diva” book, telling America how to keep its refrigerators spotless and its ceiling fans dusted. And she’s still cussing. Wearing makeup and peignoirs. And smoking. Possibly even driving, although she’s been begged to stop.

It’s only in the last few months that she’s started falling down and forgetting little things, like how you turn off the stove and where did she put those blood pressure pills, and why are the keys in the refrigerator. And there are other things, too: osteoporosis, blurry vision, bronchitis, some bouts of irregular heartbeat that have led them to the emergency room more than a few times recently. And Soapie, predictably, has reacted with outrage to the discovery that she’s made of the same stuff as the other humans after all, bones and blood vessels and capillaries that break down and turn rickety.

“You want to know what I really think?” Jonathan says, still clicking away. “I think she’ll be relieved. She’s probably deep down scared about the falls she’s taken lately, and she wants somebody to suggest some help for her. I think it’ll go fine. Better than you think.”

He’s wrong about this, of course, but it’s a nice sentiment. “I just hope she doesn’t hurt the home health aide too badly,” Rosie says. “She’s apparently a nice, cultured British lady. Her name is Mrs. Cynthia Lamb.”

“Maybe you should have hired Mrs. Cynthia Lions and Tigers instead.”

She strokes his arm. “Did you find Andres Schultz on the e-mail list or whatever?”

“Nope. No sign of him.”

“So, how about—?”

“What?”

“You know. Sex?”

Silence, then: “All right. I think we can make something happen here.” He closes the laptop and puts it on the floor, and takes off his glasses. “Wake up, Mr. Happy! We’re going in!”

She puts her arms around him and wiggles into position, and he starts idly kissing her cheek, only it’s not great because they’re not lined up just right, and his big scratchy chin is hurting her face, and then the way he starts rubbing her back makes it seem as though he’s cleaning a fish.

Finally she says, “Stop a minute. Just stop.”

“What are you, the director?” He lifts his head and looks at her.

“What are you thinking about?” she asks him.

He hesitates. “Do I have to tell you the truth?”

“Yeah.”

“Well, actually,” he says with a sheepish laugh, “I was kind of thinking that when we’re done here, I’m going to Google Andres Schultz.”

She removes her arms from around his neck.

“You said the truth!” he says. “You’re not allowed to say you want the truth and then get mad about it.”

“You know,” she says, “I think it’s great and all that we’re so comfortable with each other that we can have all this crazy stuff going on: the hilarious Keystone Kops falling-out- of-bed thing, and Googling people and flinging condoms about the room—but sometimes, just sometimes, wouldn’t it be nice if it was . . . romantic again?” She touches his ear, the soft little lobe.

He blinks. “Romantic is overrated. Sometimes you get it, and sometimes you don’t. We get laughs and realness, which has got to be better over the long haul.”

“I know,” she says. “But can’t we shift gears? We used to be able to shift gears. I think once upon a time, the phone could even ring, and we didn’t pay any attention to it. Remember that?”

He says, “There’s nothing wrong with us. This is just life. Middle-aged life.”

“I know, and I don’t want you to take this the wrong way, but don’t you ever worry about us ending up like every other couple we know? You just know that Joe and Greta are checking their e-mail during sex, and that’s probably why Greta wants to kill him all the time.”

Greta has been Rosie’s best friend since they were kids, and even back in second grade, they promised each other that when they grew up and got married, their husbands would have to be best friends, too. Who would have thought that could actually happen? But it did. And there are two other couples in their main circle of friends, also: Lynn and Greg, and Suzanne and Hinton. The eight of them have all gone on vacation together and hung out at each other’s houses for years now.

But here’s the thing: even though they’re all the same age, the others have loaded up their lives with what Jonathan calls all the “unsavory entrapments of adulthood”: big-ass houses, SUVs, stock portfolios, riding lawn mowers, scads of children, and a considerable amount of domestic bickering.

Jonathan and Rosie are the holdouts, the crazy kids who never bothered to grow up and get married. They get teased that they’re hippie artist types, and that all they do is sleep late, have lots of sex, and eat meals that all qualify as either brunch or midnight snacks. Their four-room apartment is still furnished in what Rosie thinks of as “Early Grad Student”—bricks-and-boards bookcases, an Ikea couch and table, beanbag chairs, throw rugs, and posters on the walls. It’s cozy and comfortable and has a rooftop garden and a great view of the river, and yes, they’re happy here, but more than once she’s felt she had to defend it against the others, as if they maybe just didn’t try hard enough to get ahead. No, no, she’s explained. They picked this life on purpose. It wasn’t through laziness or by accident that they didn’t get married and start collecting silver and china and 401(k)s. And children.

Every now and then she can’t help pointing out that she and Jonathan actually do work very hard, and not just doing their art. Even though she did have some early amazing success and had some poems published in magazines, for years now she’s been teaching composition classes at the community college and teaching English as a second language in adult ed.

And as for Jonathan, he’d once been a promising potter—awards and prizes and reviews in the New York Times—and the two of them had a whole life traveling on weekends and summers going to art shows and craft fairs showing his work all over the country. But then about five years ago, he was turned down for some prestigious shows he’d always gotten into, and the shock of those rejections didn’t seem to wear off. She’d watched as he seemed to spiral down into a depression. He didn’t call it that, of course; he called it “getting realistic.” He said he’d rather have health insurance and social security benefits than creative genius, which was all bullshit anyway. He took a job in a mail-order ceramics factory, where he now makes figurines from other people’s designs.

A few months after that, he’d discovered the world of teacups and pretty soon he’d started collecting them himself. Hardly a fair substitute, from her point of view: rows and rows of neat, orderly boxes in their living room, traded for the messy richness of the wet clay, and the light in Jonathan’s eyes. They’d stopped traveling, too; no more vagabond trips to Mexico, no more camping.

She never would have believed things would go this way—that his love for making things from glorious, squishy, formable, tactile clay would evolve into something that’s merely stewardship of untouchable old artifacts. She tells him that when he’s not home, the teacups ask her to let them out; they beg to feel the coolness of wet, life-giving tea once again, or of human lips against their rims. Once she told him she’d heard one distinctly begging for even a Lipton tea bag.

“You’re jealous of them, aren’t you?” he said to her once, and he wasn’t even kidding. “I think you actually see them as rivals.”

“Yeah, they’re little Lolitas,” she’d said. “Thirty-eight little Lolitas. One of these days, you’re going to come home, and I’m going to have them all out on the table, all waiting to be admired and petted.”

“Please,” he’d said. “Don’t even joke about that.”

She looks at him now across the pillow, at the deep crease between his eyebrows, the lines etched underneath his eyes, and the way his lips are pursed in slight disapproval. His life is like one big fat NO. And what’s going to happen if they don’t even have sex to pull them back together?

“Do you want to get up and go get breakfast?” she says.

Maybe he hears something in her voice, because he says, “Not yet. I want to pretend it’s the past, and we don’t know about Caller ID or Google.” He moves on top of her and looks down into her eyes, cradling her head in his gentle potter’s hands.

“Impossible—” she begins, but he puts his mouth on hers and gives her a long, slow, unlikely kiss, and with so many years of experience, of habit, the automatic-pilot part of them takes over, and somehow, despite everything, the familiar rhythms begin again.

He gets up and gets the scented oil, and the air fills with the fragrance of roses and lemons as he massages her back. He sweeps her long brown hair out of the way, and leans down and kisses her cheeks and neck and that spot he loves by her collarbone, and by the time he has worked his way down, they are suffused with a drowsy passion.

Afterward, they lie there quietly, touching each other, watching the way the sun slants in, how at this time of year it’s beginning to catch the glint from the river down below and flash its wavy patterns above them onto the ceiling. In the next few months, she knows, the light will become sharper and will move all the way across the ceiling, jiggling and bouncing in the wake of the boats that will come. Another year will have gone by.

“Oh my God,” says Jonathan. He sits up. “Uh-oh. You know what happened? I forgot to put on another condom.”

The wavy patterns shudder on the ceiling. “You forgot?” she says. “How could you forget?” But she knows why. He’s not used to them. Mostly she uses a diaphragm, but a couple of weeks ago when she was washing it, she noticed it had a hole in it, but she couldn’t get an appointment for another right away, and so Jonathan said he’d wear a condom in the meantime.

She looks at him in dismay.

“Yeah. Well, we forgot,” he says. “You could have mentioned it, too.”

There’s something she’s supposed to do at a moment like this—go out and get some morning-after pill or something. Does she really have to jump up and hurry to a clinic? She’s got better things to do. He’s watching her, biting his lip again, waiting for the verdict.

“I think it’s all right,” she says after a moment. “One of the good things about being so damn old is that I don’t think I’m in danger of getting pregnant.”

“Why? When does menopause come?”

“Oh, it comes when it wants to. My periods are already weird. I think I’m halfway in menopause already.”

“But you don’t know?”

“You never know. It’s all mysterious with periods. They do what they want.”

“I don’t know how you women cope,” he says.

“Us? I don’t see how you guys get along with those things flapping around on the front of you. That’s way worse.” She looks at him and smiles. “Oh hell. Let’s just get up and go have some breakfast,” she says. “Okay?”

“Okay,” he says. “Could I Google Andres Schultz first, do you think?”

“Do you have to?”

He smiles at her, and yes, she sees how much it means to him that Cup Number Thirty-nine might be waiting out there in San Diego, might right now be sitting in a white box that will come and join the others in their living room. For a moment, she feels what it must mean to him.

She’s about to say it’s fine, he should go ahead and Google Andres Schultz, but then she doesn’t have to. “Nah, you’re right. I’ll wait,” he says. “Let’s go eat.”

Excerpted from The Opposite of Maybe by Maddie Dawson. Copyright © 2014 by Maddie Dawson. Excerpted by permission of Broadway Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Author Bio

 

Maddie Dawson is the author of two novels about love and all its disasters and complications (The Opposite of Maybe and The Stuff That Never HappeneNHR-L-0331Sandi-CAS (1)d, both published by Crown). She loves writing books with crazy families, love, secrets, and reasonably happy endings. Like life. She’s written for many magazines and teaches writing workshops in her home in Connecticut. She can be reached at Maddie@maddiedawson.com.

 

 

 

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The Divorced Not Dead Workshop by CeCe Osgood [BookBlitz + Giveaway]

A KINDLE EBOOK NOW ON AMAZON!!

THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP, a romantic comedy with a whopping side dish of chick lit, is a hilarious and touching look at re-entering the dating world after divorce. 

Blurb

Meet Dorsey Bing. She’s been divorced for five years and was recently dumped by her mega-hot Brit boyfriend, Theo. Smart, funny and a wee bit angsty, Dorsey brainstorms about a dating workshop for divorced men. Too bad she’s an idea person with zero follow-through.

That all changes when her best friend Pilar, a feisty go-getter, opts to set up the workshop with herself in charge and Dorsey as her “go-fer.” But do things ever really work out as planned. No. No, they don’t.

A startling mishap, rebellious workshop attendees and the arrival of handsome but wily Finn Woodall soon send things topsy-turvy for Dorsey. Even more trouble arises with the unexpected re-appearance of Theo. Will Dorsey want him back or is she smitten with Finn who could possibly be a back-stabbing rat bastard? And with everything that’s happened in the workshop will Dorsey face her biggest challenge to win the love, and life, she’s always desired?

 Excerpt

 Having just lost her job after “The Pee Incident,” Dorsey Bing, the novel’s main character, curls up in her bed, scared of the future.

***************************************************************

 

A fresh wave of anxiety swept over me. What to do? What to do? I crawled out of bed and found my CD player. Good. My favorite relaxation CD was still inside. I loved the narrator’s wonderfully deep, sonorous voice, which was almost as good at inducing sleep as high school algebra. The next thing I knew it was dark outside, and my front door was rattling. I was about to panic when I heard Pilar’s voice. “Hey, girl. Open up. We brought ammo.”

In record time, the ammo (a bottle of Merlot, Thai chicken lettuce wraps from Pei Wei, and chocolate almond bark from Trader Joe’s) was spread out on the coffee table. Goblet in hand, I told them about my miserable day.

Mimi voiced her concern and gave me a comforting look while Pilar, seated next to her on my plum-colored loveseat, checked her watch. “Okay. Our two minutes of commiserating with you is” — she counted under her breath — “up.” She arched a dark eyebrow. “Let’s talk about your brainchild.”

“What brainchild?”

She exhaled loudly. “You know I love you, Dorsey, but you really do have zero follow-through. It drives me crazy.’

“What are you-?”

She cut me off. “You’ve been this way forever, so I guess I should be used to it by now.”

“Used to what?”

“How you never act on your ideas. Remember your ‘Suck-It-In’ body girdle? You had that idea years ago, but did you follow through on it? No. The woman who did is now the Spanx zillionaire.” Pilar held up a finger. “Well it’s not happening this time, my friend, because this time I’m willing to help you give it a go.”

I swirled the wine in my glass. “Give what a go?”

Pilar picked up a lettuce wrap.  “What you said last night.”

“Last night’s a blur, Pilar. You know how I get when I’m snockered.”

She finished the wrap in two bites. “This was before you saw Theo. You weren’t snockered then. You were talking about divorce and dating and how you hated the online scene. You said what people really need is a place to meet each other, and that’s when you brought up this dating workshop idea. You said men suck and this workshop might help ‘desuckify’ them. Ring any bells?”

I gave her one-shoulder shrug. “Little bit.”

“During our first pitcher at Casa Oro, you started brainstorming about the workshop. You wanted it to go deeper than the usual date-doctor spiel, and really get men engaged in learning about their expectations and what’s going on inside their heads. You called it ‘soul-fetching’ which”—Pilar snorted—“isn’t such a hot marketable term so I say we drop it.”

“I like soul-fetching,” Mimi said dreamily.

Pilar ignored her. “Frankly, I’m not sure about it being only for men, but we’ll deal with that later. Anyway, that’s the gist of what you said last night, Dorsey.”

I rolled my eyes. “I must’ve talked your heads off, huh?”

Mimi smiled. “Oh, yeah. You were on a roll. You started asking strangers at the next table what they thought of your workshop idea. You got a couple thumbs up.”

I cringed. “Jeez. Please don’t ever let me drink again.”

Pilar leaned forward eagerly. “Here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about it, and I like it. I like it a lot. I think it really has potential.”

I made a face.

“Don’t do that, Dorsey. Don’t put it down.”

“You can’t be serious–”

She cut me off. “I am. I’m very serious. I think it’s worth pursuing.” She grabbed the wine bottle. It was empty. She set it down with a thud, snorted “I’ll be back” and bustled off to the kitchen.

Her reaction to the workshop idea had really surprised me. I was under the impression she loved being an event planner and traveling around the country setting up fundraisers for charities and non-profits, although, come to think of it, she had been griping about not feeling fulfilled in her work life lately.

Just last week she said she felt like she was helping other people live their dreams, while she had put her own on hold. I’d chalked it up to her needing a vacation, but now I suspected it might run deeper than that.

“Any takers?” Pilar asked, returning with the bottle of Zinfandel from my fridge.

Like she had to ask. After filling our glasses, Pilar sat across from me. “Last night, you talked a lot about how your mother was divorced for a long time, and how things changed when she met Ralph, and how she knew he was such a great guy.”

I sensed where she was going. “But he didn’t go to a workshop to be a great guy.”

“That’s because he’s a natural. The point is, we’ll help the ‘not-so-great’ guys become more like Ralph. That’s exactly how you put it last night.”

Hellloooo. I was drunk. I say dumb things when I’m hammered.”

 

Author Bio

 

CeCe Osgood lives in Texas after many years in LA working in the film industry.  Her writing career includes magazine articles and screenplays as well as being a freelance script analyst (main client HBO). She also has had two screenplays optioned. cece osgood

Being a novelist has been her lifelong dream, and now it’s becoming her reality. Her debut novel, THE DIVORCED NOT DEAD WORKSHOP, a romantic comedy with a whopping side dish of chick lit aka lighthearted women’s fiction, is about dating after divorce.  She loves red wine and hates pretzels.  See more about her at http://www.ceceosgood.com.

 

 

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