Monday, June 30, 2014

BOOK PROMO: The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

Publication: July 29, 2014
St. Martin's Press 

Empress Elizabeth of Austria, known as "Sisi," is the Princess Diana of nineteenth-century Europe. Famously beautiful, as captured in a portrait with diamond stars in her hair, she is unfulfilled in her marriage to the older Emperor Franz Joseph. Sisi has spent years evading the stifling formality of royal life on her private train or yacht or, whenever she can, on the back of a horse.

Captain Bay Middleton is dashing, young, and the finest horseman in England. He is also impoverished, with no hope of buying the horse needed to win the Grand National—until he meets Charlotte Baird. A clever, plainspoken heiress whose money gives her a choice among suitors, Charlotte falls in love with Bay, the first man to really notice her, for his vulnerability as well as his glamour. When Sisi joins the legendary hunt organized by Earl Spencer in England, Bay is asked to guide her on the treacherous course. Their shared passion for riding leads to an infatuation that threatens the growing bond between Bay and Charlotte, and all of their futures.
This brilliant new novel by Daisy Goodwin is a lush, irresistible story of the public lives and private longings of grand historical figures.

DAISY GOODWIN, a Harkness scholar who attended Columbia University’s film school after earning a history degree at Cambridge University, is now a leading television producer in the UK. She is also a book reviewer for the London Times and was Chair of the judging panel of the 2010 Orange Prize for Fiction. Daisy and her husband, an ABC TV executive, have two daughters and live in London. 

Saturday, June 28, 2014

All of You by Christina Lee

All of You (Between Breaths, #1)
Series: Between Breaths #1
Author: Christina Lee
Publication: July 1st 2014 
By: Berkley/NAL Trade
3 Stars

In this powerfully emotional New Adult novel, Avery has just met her hot upstairs neighbor.

He’s irresistible. Tattooed. And a virgin.

Nursing student Avery Michaels wants nothing to do with dating—she’s perfectly happy single. Privy to too many of her mother’s bad decisions and even worse taste in boyfriends, Avery can only handle a string of uncomplicated hookups whenever the mood strikes.

When she meets smoking-hot tattoo artist Bennett, she wants him—for just one night. But he won’t accept a no-strings-attached arrangement. He lives by a straitlaced code of values based on his own troubled upbringing.

Bennett sees something special in Avery, and he wants more from her. Way more. As Avery wrestles with her emotions for Bennett, danger and tragedy force them to open up to each other. And Avery must face the terrifying realization that she wants more from him too.

So she needs to make a choice: Let Bennett go or finally let him in...

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

I've heard a lot good things about this story and was excited to read it. The idea that the love interest, the guy, was a virgin piqued my curiosity even more. And I really enjoyed Bennett. He's everything you want--I want in a New Adult guy, he's loyal, honest, kind and full of swoon. Plus he has tattoos. 
Avery, however, was a different story. She's hard-edged, cold and slightly calculating and I kept hoping that as the book progressed, she would soften and I would like her, but that didn't really happen. She has issues, it wouldn't be New Adult if she didn't, and she makes choices based on those issues. Choices that aren't always the best for her or Bennett. 

But as I mentioned before, Bennett is what makes this story worth reading. :)


Friday, June 27, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan

I am SO EXCITED to share this cover with you. UNINVITED is one of my FAVORITE reads of 2014 and I am DYING to read UNLEASHED!

So, here it is...

Unleashed (Uninvited #2) by Sophie Jordan
Expected Publication: February 24, 2015
By: Harper Teen
What if the worst thing you ever did was unforgivable?

Davy’s world fell apart after she tested positive for Homicidal Tendency Syndrome. She was expelled from her school, dumped by her boyfriend, abandoned by friends, and shipped off to a camp that turns HTS carriers into soldiers. Davy may have escaped, but the damage has already been done. The unthinkable has happened. Now, even worse than having everyone else see her as a monster is the knowledge that they may have been right about her all along. Because Davy has killed.

On the run from government agents, Davy is rescued by Caden, the charismatic leader of an underground group of rebels. Despite Caden’s assurances that the Resistance is made up of carriers like her, Davy isn’t sure she can trust them. Then again, she doesn’t even know if she can trust herself . . . or her growing feelings for Caden. But if she doesn’t belong with Caden and his followers, is there anywhere she can call home?
UNLEASHED mini-teaser:

I thought being labeled a killer and losing everything—my future, family, boyfriend, friends—was the worst thing that could ever happen to me. It’s not. Finding out they were right. Finding out that’s exactly what I am?

That’s worse.
So what do you think of the cover?
What do you think of the blurb?

Fast & Furious Friday + Giveaway

Welcome to another Fast & Furious Friday, 
where I highlight a few of the books I've read this week.

The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing, #2)The Rules for Breaking (The Rules for Disappearing #2) by Ashley Elston
Publication: May 20, 2014
By: Disney-Hyperion
Amazon | Goodreads 

Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom.

But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he's using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it's time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

*I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review*
I really enjoyed this! Fast-paced, action packed and full of swoon, The Rules For Breaking is the perfect end to Anna's story. The twists and turns kept me reading well into the night and the part involving the car ride with Emma CRACKED ME UP! Probably because I would be the adult version of her, but still.

I wish the Epilogue had been all about Ethan Landry a little longer but I was happy with how everything was brought full circle and worked out!

Gypsy (The Cavy Files, #1)Gypsy (The Cavy Files #1) 
Author: Trisha Leigh
Publication: May 13, 2014
By: Create Space
Inconsequential: not important or significant.
Synonyms: insignificant, unimportant, nonessential, irrelevant

In the world of genetic mutation, Gypsy’s talent of knowing a person’s age of death is considered a failure. Her peers, the other Cavies, have powers that range from curdling a blood still in the vein to being able to overhear a conversation taking place three miles away, but when they’re taken from the sanctuary where they grew up and forced into the real world, Gypsy, with her all-but-invisible gift, is the one with the advantage.

The only one who’s safe, if the world finds out what they can do.

When the Cavies are attacked and inoculated with an unidentified virus, that illusion is shattered. Whatever was attached to the virus causes their abilities to change. Grow. In some cases, to escape their control.

Gypsy dreamed of normal high school, normal friends, a normal life, for years. Instead, the Cavies are sucked under a sea of government intrigue, weaponized genetic mutation, and crushing secrets that will reframe everything they’ve ever been told about how their "talents" came to be in the first place.

When they find out one of their own has been appropriated by the government, mistreated and forced to run dangerous missions, their desire for information becomes a pressing need. With only a series of guesses about their origins, the path to the truth becomes quickly littered with friends, enemies, and in the end, the Cavies ability to trust anyone at all.

*I received a copy of this from the author in exchange for an honest review*

Detailed world building, interesting characters and a unique take on superpowers, Gypsy is a great start to a new series! Fans of YA paranormal and the X-Men in particular will want to pick up! 

Pieces of Olivia (Charleston Haven, #1)Pieces Of Olivia (Charleston Haven #1)
Author: Melissa West
Publication: July 15, 2015
By: Penguin/InterMix
Genre: New Adult (Ages 18+) 
Olivia Warren used to be a normal girl with a bright future.
But on one fated night, everything changed.

Hiding the scars of her past up her sleeves, Olivia transfers her enrollment from Columbia University to The College of Charleston, determined to pursue her own dreams for the first time in her life.

She intends to allow herself a bit of alone time to heal... that is, until she meets Preston.

Preston is best friends with her roommate, completely hot, and off-limits. But the chemistry between them is instantaneous—and as the pair begins to spend more time with one another, their feelings for each other build into something undeniable, something powerful enough to heal Olivia’s deepest scars.

Olivia tries to put her own past behind her and trust Preston, but she discovers that his past might be more present than she ever bargained for…

*I received a copy of this from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review*
I am a BIG fan of Melissa West's, Gravity, a YA Sci-Fi trilogy and was really excited to read her New Adult debut, Pieces Of Olivia. It has everything NA readers want; love, loss, romance and face fanning sexy times. 

The twist, which I figured out early on, is different and more than a little awkward. I'm not sure how I would feel if I was in Olivia's position, but that's just me. The characters are enjoyable (especially Preston) and I liked the underlying theme of forgiveness.

A preview of the next installment in this series is included and promises a hot guy with an accent. Fans of New Adult should definitely give this one a chance.

1 Signed ARC of GYPSY (THE CAVY FILES #1) by Trisha Leigh
U.S. Only
Must be 13 years old to enter
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) Leigh Bardugo

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha, #3)
Publication: June 17, 2014
By: Henry Holt

*incoherent feels*

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

I've been trying to put my feelings about this book into words for almost a week now and I keep FAILING. I am not usually a big fan of fantasy but Shadow and Bone (Book 1) was my favorite read of 2012 and Siege and Storm (Book 2) was a worthy sequel, but this...THIS book, this finale was FANTASTIC! 

My final Goodreads update: That was a stressful book but ohmyword, that ending was absolute perfection. Even if it did try to kill me. LOVE! 

Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for staying true to the "rules" of the world and the characters you created yet still managing to pull off an ending that left me shocked, amazed and so stinking happy I ugly-SOBBED! 

I'm still a proud member of Team Malarklinghond = The Darkling + Mal + Nikolai, but the way you worked out the "love situation" was just...

Not to mention how you handled that one part where *things* happen, especially with that one character, the one I wasn't sure could or even deserved to be redeemed in any way, shape or form. The one who kinda looks like this in my head....
Yeah, him. 
Thank you for not making me feel weird, or icky wrong for obsessing caring about him. 
I'd totally go Grisha for him. Still. ;)  


Thank you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Four Houses by Victoria Scott

Four Houses will be available July 22, 2014, and is an extended version of the original story published in 2011.

Cover designed by Jeremy West of Red Creative Design.
A frightened girl.

An empty field.

Four houses.

Which house would you choose?

FOUR HOUSES is a dark short story told in an unusual format that leaves readers wondering how they'd react if found in the same situation as seventeen-year-old Maddy.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

GUEST REVIEW: Love Letters To The Dead by Ava Dellaira

*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
I gave it to my fourteen year old son and made him read it instead.
This is his review. :)

Love Letters to the DeadAuthor: Ava Dellaira
Publication: April 1, 2014
By: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Amazon | Goodreads
4 Stars

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person. Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May did. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to people like Janis Joplin, Amy Winehouse, Amelia Earhart, Heath Ledger, and more; though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating new friendships, falling in love for the first time, learning to live with her splintering family. And, finally, about the abuse she suffered while May was supposed to be looking out for her. Only then, once Laurel has written down the truth about what happened to herself, can she truly begin to accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was; lovely and amazing and deeply flawed; can she begin to discover her own path.

What I Liked:
I liked that while the people Laurel writes to are completely unrelated, each person influences Laurel's life in some way. I also liked the book's writing style (letter-based), and the fact that not all the relationships are perfect, which creates a more realistic environment. The story itself was entertaining and witty. The style is different (in a good way), the characters are well developed and the plot is interesting.

What Left Me Wanting More:
The fact that the story was letter-based took some getting used to. The lack of chapters threw me off for the first 15 minutes or so. (HOW LONG IS THIS CHAPTER!?!) I wasn't used to the style but I'm also not a huge contemporary reader.

Final Verdict:
It is unique, witty and entertaining, but it has a good mix of seriousness, heartbreak and grief.

Would I Recommend This Book?
Yes, to any fan of contemporary or anyone who wants to get into this genre.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

BOOK PROMO + GIVEAWAY: Good Morning, Mr. Mandela by Zelda la Grange

I rarely read non-fiction, but when I was approached about this one, it sounded too interesting to resist. You can enter to win a copy at the end of this post!

GOOD MORNING, MR. MANDELA A Memoir by Zelda la Grange
Viking ▪ $28.95 ▪ Strict On-sale date: June 24, 2014 ▪ ISBN: 978-0-525-42828-2
Good Morning, Mr. Mandela: A Memoir
A white Afrikaner, Zelda la Grange grew up in segregated South Africa, supporting the regime and the rules of apartheid. Her conservative family referred to the imprisoned Nelson Mandela as “a terrorist.” Yet just a few years after his release and the end of apartheid, she would be traveling the world by Mr. Mandela’s side, having grown to respect and cherish the man she would come to call "Khulu," or “grandfather."

Good Morning, Mr. Mandela tells the extraordinary story of how a young woman’s life, beliefs, prejudices—everything she once believed—were utterly transformed by the man she had been taught was the enemy. It is the incredible journey of an awkward, terrified young secretary in her twenties who rose from a job in a government typing pool to become one of the president’s most loyal and devoted associates. During his presidency she was one of his three private secretaries, and then became an aide-de-camp and spokesperson and managed his office in his retirement. Working and traveling by his side for almost two decades, La Grange found herself negotiating with celebrities and world leaders, all in the cause of supporting and caring for Mr. Mandela in his many roles.

Here La Grange pays tribute to Nelson Mandela as she knew him—a teacher who gave her the most valuable lessons of her life. The Mr. Mandela we meet in these pages is a man who refused to be defined by his past, who forgave and respected all, but who was also frank, teasing, and direct. As he renewed his country, he also freed La Grange from a closed world of fear and mistrust, giving her life true meaning. “I was fearful of so much twenty years ago—of life, of black people, of this black man and the future of South Africa—and I now was no longer persuaded or influenced by mainstream fears. He not only liberated the black man but the white man, too.”

This is a book about love and second chances that honors the lasting and inspiring gifts of one of the great men of our time. It offers a rare intimate portrait of Nelson Mandela and his remarkable life as well as moving proof of the power we all have to change.


About the Author
Zelda la Grange was born in 1970 in Boksburg, South Africa, and began working as a secretary for the South African government in 1992. She joined the President’s office in 1994 as a typist and she became one of President Mandela’s three private secretaries in 1997. In 2002 she left government and became a full-time employee of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

NEW YORK, NY                   BARNES & NOBLE UPPER WEST SIDE / 7PM            JULY 21
WASHINGTON, DC        POLITICS & PROSE / 7PM                                            JULY 24

U.S. Only/No PO Boxes
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Sunday, June 22, 2014

Early Review: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Stone Cold Touch (The Dark Elements, #2)Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Dark Elements #2
Publication: October 28, 2014
By: HarlequinTEEN
5 Stars!
Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads 

Every touch has its price
Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

After I read White Hot Kiss, I was like...
 Team Roth!

But then I read Stone Cold Touch and I was like...
 Team Zayne!

Now I'm like...

But seriously, here are 10 reasons you should read Stone Cold Touch...

1. Jennifer L. Armentrout wrote it. You know it's gon' be good!
2. The relationships. They're honest, real and lasting. Layla is a lucky girl.
3. The unique love situation. I'm calling it a "situation" because "triangle" isn't really the right word. Read it, then you'll understand.

4. The club scene. 
(I heard the Eagles' song, Hotel California, in my head as I was reading.)

 5. That.Car.Scene.

6. The locker scene. 
*Insert Brad Pitt's voice... "What's in the locker?! What's in the locker?!"*

7. The introduction of Witches. 
(Again, leave it to JLA to make me rethink my, "I don't "do" those." list. I swear, one of these days she's going to make me like owls too. Maybe.)

8. A twist I DID NOT SEE coming!

9. The ending. Which broke my heart and not for the reasons you might expect.

10. And finally, you should read Stone Cold Touch because...


Saturday, June 21, 2014

On The Fence by Kasie West

On the FenceAuthor: Kasie West
Publication: July 1, 2014
By: Harper Teen 
Amazon | Goodreads 
4 Stars

She's a tomboy. He's the boy next door…

Charlie Reynolds can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn't know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at a chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world. To cope with the stress of her new reality, Charlie takes to spending nights chatting with her neighbor Braden through the fence between their yards. As she grows to depend on their nightly Fence Chats, she realizes she's got a bigger problem than speeding tickets-she's falling for Braden. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

Fun, original, and endearing, On the Fence is a romantic comedy about finding yourself and finding love where you least expect.

I'm a huge fan of Kasie West and THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US was a favorite of mine last summer, so when I had the chance to read ON THE FENCE, I jumped at it. 

I liked Charlie and her all-boy family dynamic and being the daughter of a cop myself, I could totally relate to the awkwardness of her relationship with her dad. Braden was probably my favorite character and his interactions with Charlie, both during the day and along the fence at night, made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

We also got a teasing glimpse of Caymen and Xander, although she (along with those creepyars dolls) is the only one who shows up on the page, albeit briefly. Skye played an important role in Charlie's story and I enjoyed getting to know her a little better. If I had to guess, I would say her story is up next. 

My only qualm with ON THE FENCE was the lack of "together" time Charlie and Braden actually had after declaring their feelings for one another which left me frustrated. But as with West's other books, PIVOT POINT and SPLIT SECOND included, ON THE FENCE is fast paced, full of swoon, and clean. It makes for a fun summer read!

Friday, June 20, 2014

COVER REVEAL: Wild (The Ivy Chronicles #3) by Sophie Jordan

On-sale 11/18/2014 | ISBN: 9780062279910
Image Map

A good girl goes bad in the third and final book in New York Times bestselling author Sophie Jordan’s sexy New Adult romance series—where three Ivy League suite-mates testing their boundaries as they seek higher knowledge of just how far they can go.

Months after her boyfriend dumped her, Georgia can still hear the insults he hurled at her. Boring. Predictable. Tame. Tired of feeling bad, she’s ready to change her image, and go a little wild. What better way to prove her ex wrong than a hot night of adventure at the secret campus kink club?

In the shadowy den of the club, she unexpectedly runs into Logan Mulvaney, her friend’s little brother. A player extraordinaire too hot for his own good, he may be younger, but the guy is light years ahead when it comes to the opposite sex. Now he’s telling her to go home-”good girls” don’t belong here!

Georgia is tired of having others define her. She’s going to teach Logan a lesson he won’t forget-one white hot, mind-wrecking kiss . . . that leads to another . . . and another . . . and. . . . Realizing she’s way in over her head, Georgia runs.

Only Logan won’t let her go. Everywhere she goes he’s there, making her want every inch of him. Making her forget who she is. Who he is. And just how wrong they are for each other.

About the Author

Sophie Jordan is an international and New York Times bestselling author whose books include historical romances and the Firelight series. When she’s not writing, she spends her time overloading on caffeine (lattes preferred), talking plotlines with anyone who will listen (including her kids), and cramming her DVR with true-crime and reality-television shows. She lives in Houston.

Audiobooks: The One + Mila2.0:Renegade

*I received a copy of this audiobook from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review* 

The One (The Selection, #3)THE ONE – unabridged 
Written by Kiera Cass
Performed by Amy RubinateUnabridged – 9780062324153 – Ages 13 and Up – $21.99

The Selection changed the lives of thirty-five girls forever.  For the four girls who remain at the palace, the friendships they’ve formed, rivalries they’ve struggled with, and dangers they’ve faced have bound them to each other for the rest of their lives. Now, the time has come for one winner to be chosen.

America never dreamed she would find herself anywhere close to the crown—or to Prince Maxon’s heart. But as the competition approaches its end and the threats outside the palace walls grow more vicious, America realizes just how much she stands to lose—and how hard she’ll have to fight for the future she wants.
To read my review of The One, click HERE.
To read my Audiobook review of The Selection Stories: The Prince and The Guard, click HERE. 

I really enjoyed this audiobook. Amy Rubinate does a great job of narrating it, capturing the essence of not just America, but of the other characters too, and I was able to once again lose myself in the story. 

If you're looking to give audiobooks a try, this series is a good place to start.

Renegade (MILA 2.0, #2)MILA 2.0: RENEGADE – unabridged 
Written by Debra Driza

Performed by Tara Sands

Unabridged – 9780062299857 – Ages 13 and Up – $24.99

In this electrifying sequel to MILA 2.0, a Bourne Identity-style sci-fi thriller about a teenage girl who discovers that she is an experiment in artificial intelligence created by the U.S. government, Mila is on the run and must confront painful truths about her origins and her uncertain future.

To read my review of book one in this series, Mila 2.0, click HERE.

I was really excited for this sequel but unfortunately, it fell victim to the second book slump for me. Not a lot happens for the first 3/4 of the book except for Mila's steady internal whining about how horrible her life is now. Hunter is with her but for a hot nerd boy, he acts completely oblivious to how she's behaving or what's going on around them. It was annoying. The narrator didn't help the situation either. Her voice is rather grating and she had some trouble switching between the characters. At one point she was supposed to be voicing Mila but used Hunter's voice. 

There are sporadic action scenes thrown in here and there and a cliffhanger at the end that I think was supposed to make me angry, but honestly, I was kind of glad it was over. I don't know if I'll bother with the final book. If I do, I'm definitely skipping the audio version.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

EXCERPT + GIVEAWAY: The Homecoming by Robyn Carr

The Homecoming (Thunder Point #6) by Robyn Carr
Publication: August 26, 2014
By: Harlequin MIRA 
ISBN-13: 978-0-7783-1644-2
In a small town, reputation is everything. In her latest novel, #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr explores the burden placed on a young man returning home to face his mistakes—the first step in claiming the life he was meant to live ...

At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he's been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he's become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn't the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he's finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?

Chapter One EXCERPT

    When Seth Sileski was a kid, Thunder Point had been his playground.  From the time he’d been a freckle-faced, toe-headed little kid he’d held this town in the palm of his hand.  He could run the fastest, hit the hardest, throw the farthest and charm the most cantankerous teachers.  His two older brothers, Nick and Norm Junior, affectionately known as Boomer, had also had great childhoods in this little town, but almost nothing compared to Seth’s notoriety.  He went from beautiful kid to adored adolescent to most popular and accomplished teenager – great grades, superb athlete, handsome and a good and loyal friend.  And then, at the age of twenty, his life took a dramatic turn and all that great luck and good fortune seemed to blow away. 
    Or, if you listened to his father, Norm Sileski, he threw it away. 
    So now he was back in Thunder Point, a little scarred and damaged but whole.  And definitely humbled.  He’d traveled a long way since leaving at the age of eighteen and if you’d told him five or ten years ago that he’d come home he’d have called you a lunatic.  Yet here he was, and by choice.  This time he was wearing a deputy’s uniform.  Thirty-four years old, his battle to regain a sense of pride and accomplishment had been mighty and difficult.  Seth was taking over the Sheriff’s Department Thunder Point substation from Mac McCain.  He’d be the officer in charge while Mac moved to a lieutenant’s position at the headquarters in Coquille. 
    Seth had been back to town fairly often over the last fifteen years.  He visited his mother and at least tried to check in with his father.  Every time he drove into this small coastal town he was surprised by how little the place had changed.  People changed, the economy changed, the world changed and yet Thunder Point seemed to remain the same.  The linoleum in the diner had been old and cracked when he was a boy, all the same fast food establishments were present, Wayland’s Bar was still the only real dive in town and it looked no better.  In fact, Wayland still held the door open with a paint can, as if he intended to paint the place.  It hadn’t happened yet. 
    It was the second week in September and school had resumed just a couple of weeks ago, so there was still a lot of optimism and excitement winding up the kids.  Those on bikes weren’t staying out of the middle of the road very well, but little whoop-whoop from the police SUV moved ‘em over quick, followed by yelps of laughter and shenanigans. 
   He caught sight of Iris, his next door neighbor and childhood friend when he was growing up.  She was still riding her bike to school, but now she wore a skirt with a briefcase in the basket.  When the wind took her skirt it revealed tight, black bike shorts underneath.  The kids raced her.  The school buses passed her, tooted their horns and kids leaned out their windows to wave.  She jingled the bell mounted on her handlebars and waved in response.  She threw back her head and laughed as a bus driver laid on her horn for a long blast.  She still had that wild, unrestrained laughter he remembered.  Before she noticed him, he slowed down and turned off the main street, heading back to the substation to park. 
    The Sheriff’s Department substation was fairly new.  The department had always had a strong presence here as there was no local law enforcement, but the substation office was only about ten years old.  The clinic next door was new so he made that one of his first stops.  He walked into the clinic to face a beautiful woman standing in the reception area.  She could be mistaken for Catherine Zeta Jones with her dark straight hair and black eyes. 
    “Hi,” he said, smiling, putting out his hand.  “I’m Seth Sileski and I’ll be your new neighbor.  Mac starts working in Coquille in about a week.”
    “Well, it’s a pleasure,” she said.  “Peyton Lacoumette.  And this is Devon Lawson, our office manager.  Scott?” she yelled.  “Do you have a minute?”
    The doctor came to the front of the clinic wearing the native dress – blue jeans and denim shirt.  “So, you’re the new guy,” he said with a smile. 
Seth laughed and stuck out his hand.  “I’m not exactly new.  I grew up here.  Norm Sileski is my dad.”
“No kidding.  Which one are you?  He said he had three sons and none of them lived in town.”
“I’m the youngest.  I’ve only been back to visit since leaving for college.”
“Then welcome back,” Scott said.  “We’ll be glad to have you.  And we’re darn proud of Mac – moving up in the world.”
“Those are going to be hard shoes to fill.”
“Did you know Mac before now?” Peyton asked. 
“Sure, from the department.  I think I’ve known him eight years or so, though we worked in different parts of the county.  He has a very good reputation.  Before it’s down to me – are there any needs you have or issues you’re concerned about?  Anything you want me to know?”  He grinned.  “As your neighbor and your cop?” 
Scott chuckled.  “Trash pick-up is Wednesday in the alley behind the stores.  I’ll have to think about anything else.”
“Trash,” Seth said.  “Good to know.  Let me ask you this – how do you get along with the youth in town?  Any problems I should be aware of?”
Scott shook his head.  “I had to stitch up some wild ones in at the ER in North Bend – a fight at an unsupervised party.  I haven’t dealt with any injuries caused by bad behavior around Thunder Point in the past year.  Mac had some bullying issues before I opened up the clinic but I’m not sure of the details.  I’ve just had the usual stuff and the kids around here are better than most.” 
“Strict parents, for the most part,” Seth said.   “And a nosy town in general.” 
“Do you have teenagers, Deputy?” Peyton asked.
He shook his head.  “I’m not married and don’t have kids, ma’am.  Asking about the teenagers is just something I do when trying to get a profile on a new town.  The town isn’t new to me but the people are – the faces have changed after fifteen years.  Right now I’m in orientation with Mac as my supervisor and part of the process is to introduce myself to the businesses.  The stores haven’t changed much but the owners, managers and employees have.”  He looked over his shoulder at the diner.  “We used to go there after school and I hear Stu is still the owner and cook but now Gina is the head waitress.  Gina’s mom was the waitress in charge when I was a kid.”
“And now Carrie has the deli next door and some of the best sandwiches and take-out dinners you’ll find around here,” Peyton said.  “I haven’t cooked in a long time.”
“I’ll stop in and say hello to both of them.”
“What about Cliffhanger’s?” Peyton asked.  “Was Cliff the owner when you were growing up?”
Seth shook his head.  “His dad built that place about twenty-five years ago.  I’m not sure when Cliff took over.  Sometime after I left.  Cliff’s family owns a lot of property around the marina.  My dad used to say that place would never work here – too fancy for this town.”
“It’s full almost every night,” Scott said.  “It’s where people around here go when they want a tablecloth.” 
“I’ve been in there once or twice,” Seth said.  “Good food, nice atmosphere.  Listen, it’s nice meeting all of you.”  He pulled out a business card.  “I’m going to continue my rounds, but here’s the office number and my personal cell.  Feel free.”
Peyton laughed and took the card.  “It really kills me the way everyone gives out their cell numbers!  Everyone knows Scott’s and Mac’s and now yours.  I’m used to the city where you never do that.”
The doctor put his arm around the PA’s shoulders, gave a squeeze and said, “I have her cell number and with the right incentive, I can be talked into giving it to you.  Until then, just call me if you need me.  And I’ll call you.” 
“Hey, if this is my town, I want to be called if there’s a problem.  There are three ways to reach me – the office, the cell or 911 in emergencies.  If you call 911 you’ll never get voicemail and whatever deputy is on duty will respond immediately.  Don’t hesitate.”  He smiled and gave them a little salute.  “See you later.” 
  Seth made his way to the diner to say hello to Gina.  They’d known each other growing up, but they hadn’t been in the same class or part of the same crowd.  It was safe to say that he knew Carrie better; Carrie and his mother, Gwen, had been friends for years.  He even went into Waylan’s.  Damn if it didn’t look like the same crowd of old boys who had been in there the last time he stopped by at least ten years ago. 
  He headed for the flower shop which still bore the same name although the owner was relatively new.  Pretty Petals had been owned by his next door neighbor when he was growing up, a single mother and Gwen’s good friend, Rose McKinley.  Rose’s only child, Iris, had been Seth’s best friend when they were kids.  Iris sold the shop a few years ago after her mother had a stroke.  Then Rose passed away after a couple of years of infirmity.   
  Seth talked to his mother at least once a week, usually more often, and she kept him current on the happenings in town.  Rose’s death had taken a toll on Gwen – they’d been close to the same age.  Rose had died too young and it left Gwen feeling like she was living on borrowed time.  Gwen was now sixty-five. 
  Norm, his dad, was seventy-two and just as cranky and unforgiving as ever.  He might’ve sold the service station he’d owned for decades, but he wouldn’t retire.  He still worked for the new owner.  Gwen wanted to spend some of their money and retirement doing fun things, traveling, maybe taking a cruise or two, but Norm wasn’t at all interested.  Why Gwen wanted to spend leisure time with the old coot was beyond Seth, but he felt sorry for her, sitting out her last years in the same small town, not having too much fun except for church, cards and bingo, missing her best friend, Rose. 
  He dropped in to Pretty Petals and took off his hat.  He said hello to Grace, the owner.  His mother had mentioned her several times.  She was an attractive young woman about thirty years old or even younger, living the dream.  She bought the flower shop from Iris and was thrilled to own her own business.  Looking around he saw that it was updated since the old days. 
“Well, Seth, are you back to stay?” she asked.
“I am for now.  Just introducing myself to the folks in town, or re-introducing, as the case may be.  How are things in the flower business?”
“Very pretty,” she said. 
“Anything you’d like me to be aware of now?  I’m prepared to take over Mac’s post in less than a week.”
She shook her head.  “No flower thefts that I’m aware of.  Do you have any plans to move to town, now that you’ll be here all the time?”
“Not at the moment.”  He laughed a little.  “My mother offered me my old room but I think…”  He ended by just shaking his head and Grace laughed with him.  “It might not feel like a bachelor pad, living with Mom and Dad.”  Not to mention, Dad hadn’t offered, he reminded himself.  “But there’s no question, I’d eat well!”
“Maybe you can just swing by Mom’s at the end of your workday for a little something to eat before heading home to the bachelor pad.”
“There’s an idea.  In fact, I should swing by there now…how about a nice arrangement to take along.  That always makes her so happy with me.”
Grace turned and pulled a centerpiece out of the cooler.  “Do you like this fall arrangement?  I can give it to you cheap – I worked it up a couple of days ago and it hasn’t sold yet.”
“I’m all over discounts,” he said, fishing out his wallet.  Without looking up he asked, “Have you seen Iris lately?”
“I see Iris every week.  At least once, usually more.  She likes fresh flowers in the house – it’s a hard habit to break.  Sometimes she comes in and makes her own arrangement.  I can’t tell you how often I wish she worked here – she’s got a gift.  That’ll be ten dollars, even.”
“Ten?  Wow, you’re sucking up to the law!”
“I hope I never have to use my brownie points,” she said.  “Welcome back, Seth.  It’s nice to know you’ll be taking care of us.”
“I’ll do my best.  Be sure to let me know if I can help in any way.  It won’t be flower arranging, I know that.”  He gave her that same business card with all the numbers on it.  Then he gave her a second one.  “One for the shop, one for home.”  He secretly hoped that second card might make its way into Iris’s hands.  
  It was Iris he’d really like to reconnect with.  When they were kids, they’d been inseparable, playing kickball, softball, fishing, playing on the beach or sitting at one of their houses playing video games for hours.  In junior high and high school they had other paths – he was on boy’s teams and she was doing girl things, plus helping her mother in the flower shop from an early age, but she’d always been his closest friend even if he didn’t admit that in mixed company.  But he could tell Iris anything.  Anything.  If he had trouble in school, frustrations in football, couldn’t get his homework right or even if he liked some girl and she wasn’t liking him back.  They talked on their porches, on the phone, anywhere they met around town.  If their second story bedroom windows had faced each other’s, they’d have been hanging out of them, talking. 
   Then there was some misunderstanding their senior year.  Something to do with prom, but he didn’t remember all the details.  He obviously didn’t remember them the way she did because that was the end of their friendship.  She was angry that he wasn’t taking her to the prom, but he was going steady with someone else and was expected to take his girlfriend.  But he and the steady girlfriend had had a blow-up, a messy breakup, Seth had been bummed, had a few beers, and as usual leaned on Iris to talk about his girl problems.  It was senior year, he’d had a spectacular year, was going to the University of Oregon on a full football scholarship in the fall and how dare that girl dump him right before senior prom.  He could only vaguely remember, but he had uttered some lame thing to Iris like, I wish I was taking you, anyway.  And then he got back together with the girlfriend the very next day.  He thought Iris would be happy for him.  He had expected Iris to understand – it had been a spat and they were all made up. 
But Iris did not understand…

About Robyn Carr

“I’m frequently asked what it is about my stories that make them so popular. I think it’s the sense of community and that combination of romance and women’s fiction,” says author Robyn Carr. “I’m naturally drawn to strong, capable female characters, and when I begin a story I ask myself, ‘What is she up against?’ It’s very empowering to read about women like ourselves as the characters resolve the issues that threaten their happiness and peace of mind. It’s also empowering to watch smart women choosing and falling in love with men of honor and integrity.”

The author of more than 40 novels,

Robyn reaches a wide audience with her writing. In addition to her touching novels, she’s written historical romance, series romance and a gripping thriller. “This is the best job I’m ever going to get wearing pajamas,” she says of her writing career.

Originally from Minnesota, Robyn and her family have seen much of the country thanks to her husband, Jim, and his career in aviation. After the two high school sweethearts married, Jim joined the air force. They’ve lived in Texas—all four corners—Alabama, Florida, California. The couple moved to Henderson, Nevada, so Jim could explore a new business opportunity. “At first, being a Midwest girl at heart, I said, ‘Oh, no, not another desert!’ It didn’t take me long to fall in love with the beauty of Nevada—and the unrivaled spectacle of Las Vegas!”

Robyn well remembers how she began her career as an author over 25 years ago. “I was trained as a nurse, but found it impossible to get work because my husband was constantly being transferred. At the time, I was reading a lot of genre fiction for the sheer entertainment value and I thought to myself, ‘I can write this!’”

And how was her first foray into the world of literature received? “It was universally panned. I thought I had written Gone with the Wind, but in actuality it was complete trash.” In fact, it was on her third try that Robyn finally succeeded in becoming a published author.

Now that Robyn’s two children are grown—and finally out of the house—she has the luxury of a little free time. “Until my kids grew up, I didn’t realize that a person could have hobbies other than laundry,” she jokes. But it turns out not to be hobbies that keep Robyn busy when she isn’t writing—she has found her niche in community service.

She has mentored a seniors’ memoir-writing group, attends book-club chats in and out of state whenever possible and is working with her local library on the Carr Chat Series, a program centered on fund-raising and visiting-author events that bring writers, their books and the community together. “It is the people in my life that fill the well,” she says. “Especially the people who share my love for books and writing.”


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