#MFRWHooks “Emma looked into his hazel-brown eyes.” #romance #mustread #amreading

♠♠  OUT NOW  ♠♠
I’d like to share some excerpts from my earlier book “Innocent Tears” – I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Today’s Hook:

It wasn’t a busy morning, and fortunately Jack took over most of the check-ins. Which meant during her daily routine, Emma was able to ring about every babysitter and nanny service in town – but to no avail. She grew more and more nervous the closer it drew to
lunchtime. She placed the folder back into the drawer, grabbed the phone directory, and kept searching. Emma took the pencil from behind her ear and just as she was about to jot down another number, she saw a man in a dark business suit entering the hotel lobby through the big, rotating glass door. Emma couldn’t help staring at him. He came towards the reception desk in quick, long steps.
“Em, you’re drooling again,” Jack whispered.
She glanced over at Jack and heat crept up her cheeks. Actually, it was like her head was on fire and she was about to faint when Jack’s words registered in her brain, “Sir, if you wouldn’t mind, I need to take this call. I’m sure Emma will help you with any queries.”
She gazed at him, biting the inside of her cheek and the pencil still in her hand. There he was in front of her with his athletic figure, broad shoulders and his tall build.
“Excuse me,” he said in a deep voice, as he slid his sunglasses on top of his head.
Emma looked into his hazel-brown eyes. “Yes, sir. How can I help you?”
“Could you please let Mrs. Gibbs, room five-o-two, know that I have arrived. My name is Flynn McCormack. I’ll wait in the hotel café.”
“Certainly, Mr. McCormack.”
He turned and walked towards the café. She followed him with her gaze and just thinking of his long eyelashes and the stubbles covering his jaw-line gave her a shudder. Emma took the phone and dialled room five-o-two. It took a while until Mrs. Gibbs answered.
“Mrs. Gibbs, Emma from the reception here.”
“Well, dear, about time. Have you been successful with the babysitter?”
Reality check. She had forgotten about that. “No, but I will check with our
management, and I can help you out myself if that would suit you,” Emma lied and slapped her forehead as soon as she had said it. What was it with this woman who made her do or say things without a second thought?
There was a deep sigh at the other end of the line. “Well, young lady, I suppose I have no other choice.” And she hung up.

BLURB:
Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it almost pulls the feet from right underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight! He had no idea about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody. With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, and his parents, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’, and Emma is voicing her opinion as well. And right in the middle is little Nadine, still grieving the loss of her mother and finding a wonderful friend in Emma. There’s no doubt she’s afraid where and with whom she will settle. But in the end, it’s a letter Flynn receives that helps him figuring out what to do.

 

AMAZON US

 

4 starsThe Romance Review – NEW BEGINNINGS is a very emotional read, one that is heartwarming as well as heart wrenching. It gives you hope in the act of human kindness and that good things do happen to good people. I highly recommend this book.

#ReleaseBlitz “My Image of You” by Melanie Moreland #myimageofyourelease @MorelandMelanie @Starange13

  Title: My Image of You
By: Melanie Moreland
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Publisher: Random House LLC/Loveswept
Genre: Contemporary Romance

A globe-trotting bad boy chases the one that got away in this addictive novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Contract.

My name is Adam Kincaid, and I’m the best at what I do. After losing my parents, I decided to follow in their footsteps, and now I’m the most daring freelance photographer in the world.

Maybe some think I’m a loner, but I don’t care. All that matters is the shot: braving danger and devastation in search of a single image with the power to tell someone’s story. But as good as I am, accidents happen—and thank god for that, because it’s what leads me to her. . .

Alexandra Robbins. My nurse. My savior.

With her fiery red hair and crystal-clear blue eyes, the camera loves her . . . and I have to have her. We soon find that we’re perfect together. We just fit, physically and emotionally. And yet something isn’t right. Something from her past is haunting her, and no matter what I do to help her break free, I lose her.

Today is the day I try to win her back. Not only do I need an explanation, I need her in my bed once again. I don’t just want a damn picture—I want her. Because what we have is a love that never fades away. . .

“There are so many things I want to do with you,” I assured her, and licked my lips as I stared at her, my voice husky. “To you.”

“Tell me,” she insisted, her fingers curled into fists at her sides.

I stepped behind her, wrapping my arm around her waist and pulling her to my chest. I smoothed my fingers up her arm, trailing them along her skin. Small goose bumps broke out, pebbling the surface as I dropped my head down into her neck, kissing and swirling my tongue. “I’m going to explore you—everywhere. I’ll touch and discover every part of you. I want to know what makes you gasp, what drives you to distraction. I’ll find out what I can do to make you groan and beg me to take you. I’ll know your body better than you do.” I drew her skin between my teeth, biting and sucking. “I want to kiss you . . . taste you everywhere.” I slipped my hands under her shirt, teasing the softness of her stomach and side, stroking upward until my hand cupped her breast lightly. “I bet you taste different all over. Sweet some places”—I dropped my hand down, running it along the edge of her waistband—“musky and tangy others.”

New York Times/USA Today bestselling author Melanie Moreland, lives a happy and content life in a quiet area of Ontario with her beloved husband of twenty-seven-plus years and their rescue cat Amber. Nothing means more to her than her friends and family, and she cherishes every moment spent with them.

While seriously addicted to coffee, and highly challenged with all things computer-related and technical, she relishes baking, cooking, and trying new recipes for people to sample. She loves to throw dinner parties, and also enjoys travelling, here and abroad, but finds coming home is always the best part of any trip.

 

Melanie delights in a good romance story with some bumps along the way, but is a true believer in happily ever after. When her head isn’t buried in a book, it is bent over a keyboard, furiously typing away as her characters dictate their creative storylines to her, often with a large glass of wine keeping her company.

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DEFYING RULES

A little reminder: in the previous posts Addy returned home from work to find her house broken in. Ethan drove coincidently drove by and stopped to see how she was going. I moved forward a little to the moment he knocks at her door later that night.

DEFYING RULES is set along the Australian Great Ocean Road and tells the story of Ethan Tomlin, single dad, and manager of a hotel chain.

This is still a WIP, so critique away.

Thanks … and enjoy 🙂

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He smiled and slipped past her into the house. Closing the door behind him, he locked the deadbolt and followed her into the back of the house. Her honey-like scent didn’t go unnoticed, and his whole body was on alert. Addison must’ve had a shower. She was barefoot, in some old grey track pants and a black T-shirt. Her black hair hung down her shoulders in damp, wavy curls.
“Have you had dinner, yet?”
He nodded. “I’ve got a boy to look after. We always eat early.”
She teased him with another one of her beautiful soft laughs. “Every time I see him outside the class he’s eating something.”
Ethan chuckled. “Yes, he’s one expensive child when it comes to food.”
For all her talk about being fine, she must’ve been terrified. It didn’t go past Ethan that she was fidgeting with her hands, since he’d come in. They stopped at the last room along the corridor, and he turned towards her.
“How are you really going?” he asked.
“Fine. Why do you keep asking me?”
Slowly, he lifted his hand to her face, letting his fingers trace over her smooth cheek. He noticed how she hesitantly leaned into his hand, so he stepped closer and gently pulled her towards him.
Addison rested her head against his chest, and Ethan instinctively wrapped his arms around her, holding her tight, moving his hand up and down her back as he listened to her breathing.
She sighed. “Honestly, I’m fine. If anything, I’m disappointed and angry.”

 

Thanks for all your comments,
I do appreciate each single one of them!
And check out Snippet Sunday  Facebook site for other writers.

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4 starsThe Romance Review – NEW BEGINNINGS is a very emotional read, one that is heartwarming as well as heart wrenching. It gives you hope in the act of human kindness and that good things do happen to good people. I highly recommend this book.

#NewRelease “Once Every Spring” by Janell Michaels @authorjmichaels #Fantasy #PN

BLURB:

Together in a land all their own…until reality pulls them back to separate worlds.
Dana’s about to write off her birthday when she finds herself taken to a world that may not exist. There, she meets Adam, a man she apparently dreamed up as her guide to an unsettlingly real hallucination.
Or is it? 
Alone together in paradise, she can’t stop herself from falling for the man that may only live in her imagination. Unless, of course, he’s somehow real. But perfect as Adam seems, he’s keeping secrets from her—secrets about his life on the other side.
As the day they will part draws near, she can’t convince him to talk about the real world. When reality pulls them back, she must either discover the truth about his existence or resign herself to only seeing the man she loves…once every spring.

EXCERPT:

With a slight wobble, Dana wandered out from the tree for a better view. Sunlight fell like a beacon across the field they stood in, the flat vista broken up here and there by gently sloped hills dotted with groupings of trees. Silken green grass covered everything, with splotches of sweet clover and wildflowers the only interruption to an endless emerald blanket. Maybe she was in Oz, after all.
She was both drawn to the beauty and reluctant to venture into it. The jacaranda tree felt like a lifeline—her last link to anything solid or real. Perhaps leaving it behind wasn’t a smart idea.
The warmth of the strange man’s body heat penetrated her when he moved close to stand beside her. His voice held a note of reverence. “It is beautiful, isn’t it? Powerful, and yet soothing. Like nothing could go wrong in the world so long as it stays like this.”
She nodded in silence, trying to keep her thoughts cemented on something other than the fear that she’d never claw out of whatever hallucination she’d fallen into. The whole scene was entirely too vivid. Then again, if one was going to dive off the deep end, one might as well go over with style, right?
Still, there were some notable oversights in her fantasy, such as any sign of civilization. Why hadn’t her imagination conjured up a five-star hotel, complete with endless room service and a free mini bar? She closed her eyes and strained hard, forming that very image in her head. She willed it to appear while trying not to wonder why she wasn’t just wishing herself back home instead.
After a moment, the man beside her stirred. “What are you doing?”
“Shh. I’m focusing my thoughts on a resort hotel.”
He laughed. “I tried something like that the first time too. It won’t work.”
She whooshed out an exasperated sigh and turned to face him. “Not with that negative attitude, mister. And you’re messing up my concentration.”
“You’re not imagining things. This place is real, even if I don’t know where it is.”
“It can’t be real. How do I leave? Maybe I can zap myself back.”
“We can’t control leaving. Only whether or not we arrive.”
That figured. “How long have you lived here?”
“I told you, I don’t. It’s more like I have a sort of vacation home here.”
Her snort was less than kind. “A vacation home? You mean you come and go?”
“This is my third cycle.”
“Who else is here?”
“No one, so far as I can tell. You’re the first other person I’ve encountered.”
She shook her head, feeling the first throbbing beats of a headache. Too bad her break with reality hadn’t been kind enough to bring her coffee along for the ride.
“I don’t understand. You say you don’t know where this is, but you can visit whenever you want?”
He turned to her, the sun hitting his green eyes in a way that made them light up with a fire that sparked in her abdomen. “Not whenever I want.” Then he started walking away.
“How, then?” She had trouble matching his long, easy strides as she followed. “Do you wish yourself here? Did you know what would happen the first time? Can you leave any time?”
He stopped with an amused grin and outstretched hand. “Hi. I’m Adam, by the way. And you are?”
She burst out laughing.
He arched a brow. “What’s so funny?”
Adam?” She shook her head, still chuckling. “Adam who?”
He hesitated. “Just Adam.”
Her chuckle turned into a belly laugh sufficient to squeeze tears into the corner of her eyes, and she had to clutch her abdomen to contain it.
He looked less than amused. “So what’s the joke?”
“You, I guess. Me. This.” She gestured around. “I’ve cracked my block and teleported myself into Dreamsville with a handsome guy. My very own Garden of Eden, complete with none other than Adam himself.”
He broke into a grin that tingled along all new nerve bundles in her spine. “You think I’m handsome?”
She folded her arms, mentally berating herself for saying it right to his face. But then, he was only a figment of her deluded subconscious. Why play coy?
She shrugged. “If I’m going to have a mental meltdown, a gorgeous guy may as well be in the fantasy. Right?”
His look burned into her. “Now I’m gorgeous?”
“Yeah, well, don’t let it go to your head. The last thing I need is a delusion with delusions of grandeur.”

BUY LINKS:

Available on Amazon
Print: https://www.amazon.com/Once-Every-Spring-Janell-Michaels/dp/1975754360/

Ebook: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0753CVH4B

LINK TO BOOK TRAILER:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QQMdM0LgW4o

AUTHOR BIO

Award-winning story writer Janell Michaels resides in Southern California with her triple-A husband (an Author, Artist, and Actor), their youngest daughter, and Tina the wonder pup. Secretary by day, romance writer by night, she has authored more than thirty books under three different pen names. This is done with steady infusions of coffee, imagination, and chocolate. During rare moments when she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, binge watching her TV shows, and the occasional guilty pleasure of video games (Minecraft is a favorite).

Site: http://janellmichaels.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/authorjmichaels
Facebook: http://facebook.com/AuthorJanellMichaels

#PromoTour “Val & Pals” by Margaret Lashley

VAL & PALS series
by Margaret Lashley
Genre: Humor/Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit

The first 2 books will be specially discounted to 99 cents on Sept 19th.

Absolute Zero: Misadventures From A Broad

A Midlife Meltdown…with a Side of Fries.

Val’s long-suffering life as a patient daughter, dutiful wife and reliable workhorse has turned her into a snarky, miserable nag.

She has the house, the husband and the career. The only thing missing is the happy.

Before she’s set out to pasture, Val wants one more go around the track. Unbridled. In Italy.

La dolce vita or bust.

Will Val find her happy ending abroad? Or someplace she never thought to look? And will she get there before her money and her sense of humor run out…

If you’ve ever dreamed of ditching your life and running off to Europe, now’s your chance! Join Val on a roller-coaster ride through Europe that will leave you gasping! From gut-busting hilarity to gut–wrenching gaffs, finding yourself again is always worth the price of admission. Buy it now!

The plane came to a halt. A mechanical bell binged. I looked around nervously. I slung my purse across my shoulder and sardined myself into the line of passengers inching their way down the narrow aisle. When I reached the plane’s exit door, I paused hesitantly, like a convict who’d gotten free of her cuffs without anybody noticing. My mind swirled with excitement and abject terror. Goosebumps rushed across my body. The hair at the base of my neck pricked up like a scaredy-cat.


What the hell was I doing?

Mere days before, I’d slammed every single door – including the screen one – on my life back in Florida. The last chance to change my mind had come and gone, as unheeded as a speed limit sign at a NASCAR rally. Every safety net I’d ever known was thousands of miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean, out of sight and out of reach.

I took a deep breath to steady myself, then stepped off the plane into the complete unknown. I glanced back and waved goodbye to the Air Italia flight crew. I turned again and meandered down the gangplank behind a frail, elderly couple holding hands. Their long-standing marriage triggered flashbacks of my own, long-suffering one.

Seven weeks ago, I’d signed the final divorce papers ending fifteen years of matrimony to Jimmy Johnson, a man I no longer knew. I envisioned the beautiful house Jimmy and I had shared together. I’d sold it and my advertising business just days before the flight. After splitting the pot with Jimmy, I’d netted a hot-damn jackpot of $473,000. I pictured my best friend, Clarice Whittle. I’d left my Ford in her garage, along with a few boxes that held the final remains of the cranky, resentful woman I hoped this trip would get rid of for good.

I’d brought next to nothing with me. I’d left even less behind. No kids. No pets. No job. No husband. No responsibilities. No nothing.

I’d spend the last forty-one years in perpetual motion – Val Jolly’s non-stop stint as dutiful daughter, long-suffering wife and brown-nosing business woman. I’d catered to everyone else’s needs for as long as I could remember. Somewhere along the way I’d turned into a crabby, shrill woman that even I didn’t like. I’d forgotten who I was and what I wanted. This trip was going be my R&R&R – relaxation, romance and re-invention.

I was in Italy to try my hand at living irresponsibly, like my trampy cousin Tammy Jeter. She’d always done as she damn well pleased. Up ‘til now, I’d thought she’d been selfish. Especially when she left Whitey Large and their five pit-bulls (One with puppies!) to run off with Tater Johnson. Turns out, that girl had had it right all along.

Available for only 99cents Sept 15-19

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Glad One: Starting Over is a …!

How Many Do-Overs Do You Get in One Lifetime?

One crazy old lady. Two gin & tonics. Three wacko beach-bum friends. Will Val’s fourth stab at starting over add up to a big fat zero?

Val’s down, but don’t count her out just yet. Broke, but not broken (just seriously cracked), Val Fremden returns to her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida to find everything she knew squashed under the heels of change.

With nothing left to go on but her own dry sense of humor and the life coach advice of a beer-guzzling old lady she meets at the beach, can her life get any crazier? Just wait.

Glad One is a satirical look at divorce, single-hood and climbing back up the social ladder. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, reluctant, midlife-crisis survivor who lost everything — but regained herself.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Val? Or is that just the headlamp of another train wreck heading her way? Knowing Val, it’s probably both.

If you like wacky, deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Glad One! It’s the second book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

A puff of jaded air forced its way between my pursed lips like steam from a relief valve. I needed a good cry. But this was not the time or place for it. To distract myself, I started counting my blessings.

One decimated pocketbook. Two cottage-cheese thighs. Three maladjusted ex-husbands…. Crap!

Whoever was running the show up there had a wicked sense of humor – and I was getting damn tired of being the punchline. I scrounged around for my powder compact and opened it, intent on repairing my makeup after the nine-hour flight. One glance in the mirror at my worn-out face made me snap it shut. Why bother?

In forty-five years, I’d accumulated a good portion of wrinkles, a fair amount of belly fat, and, apparently, precious little wisdom. These questionable assets, along with $5,726 and a suitcase full of inappropriate clothes, were all I had left to launch my latest life makeover. I slumped back into my seat. I was bone-dragging tired. Even so, a wry grin snuck across my lips like a stolen kiss from a stranger. I was not defeated. Not yet, anyway.

The way I saw it, I still had two viable options. One, I could finally learn to laugh at myself. Or two, I could drink myself into oblivion. I fished around the bottom of my purse for a coin to determine my fate. I flipped a tarnished nickel into the air with my thumb. It did a triple gainer, plunged into my coffee, and splashed a nasty brown stain on the crotch of my white stretch pants.

Awesome. Let the festivities begin.

***

My last life makeover had begun over seven years ago, and had turned out to be a spectacular, downward spiral reminiscent of diving off a cliff with a bowling ball in my pants. Drowning in dullness and fueled by movie-inspired stupidity, I’d ditched a tiresome marriage and lucrative writing career, sold all my belongings and took off for Europe. In Italy, I met a German and fell in love with the idea of life with a stranger in a strange land. Things had been great for a while. But then the shiny wore off and the cracks showed up, like they always did.

On my arrival back in St. Petersburg, Florida, I’d discovered that seven wasn’t such a lucky number. In fact, seven years abroad had been just exactly long enough for my entire credit history to be erased – just like most of my money. I’d gotten off that plane with no driver’s license. No place to live. No credit card. No phone. No resume. And, worst of all, no friends. Incredibly, I’d somehow managed to become a foreigner in my own homeland.

As a lifelong lover of irony, I’d had to smile at my own ingenuity. How many other people on the planet could have claimed such a monumental fuck-up?

Available for only 99cents Sept 19-22

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Two Crazy: Fickle Finger of Fate

The World is not a Safe Place for Figurines.

When you’re pushing 50 with an industrial bulldozer, birthdays can be a bitch. What was intended as a gag gift for Val ends up making her gag all right – and lands her in a whole heap of trouble with the law.

With one hot cop on her tail and a mean one on her trail, Val turns to old friends and new ones to help prove she’s not into human dismemberment.

Who’s the good cop? Who’s the bad? And who’s the dwarf in the Halloween mask?

Will a pair of falsies help Val stumble onto the truth? If not, she’s got to rely on her wacky, beach-bum friends if she’s going to escape the fickle finger of fate.

Two Crazy is a satirical look at how life seems to take pleasure in screwing up all of our well-laid plans. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, middle-aged woman with major trust issues and dubious, yet highly original coping skills.

If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Two Crazy. It’s the third book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

I woke the morning after my birthday party with a cop in my bed and a dead body in the kitchen. Okay, it was just a roach carcass. But I swear it was big enough to draw a chalk line around. It was legs-up in the middle of the floor. I’d fumbled, bleary-eyed, toward the cappuccino machine in nothing but Tom’s t-shirt, and had managed, of course, to step right on it. The disgusting crunch of its carapace underfoot made me scream like a little girl.

“Aaahhhh!”

As a native of the Sunshine State, I’d grown up learning to deal with the worst that Florida’s flora and fauna had to throw at me. Poison ivy. Cabbage-palm spikes. Daddy long-leg spiders. Fire ants. Kamikaze tree frogs. Ghoulish house geckos. Deadly rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. Even the occasional gator on the road or in a swimming pool. I’d managed to make my peace with all of them – except one.

Let a roach get anywhere near me – especially a flying one – and my bravado disappeared faster than Oreos at a Weight Watcher’s convention. When I’d stepped on that nasty bug, I’d let out a scream that could be heard on the International Space Station. If that marked me as a sissy, so be it. But there was something abhorrently primeval about a creature that could live for months without its own head.

“What’s going on in there!?”

Tom dashed into the room. He was naked except for his state-issued revolver. The sight of his tan, muscular body almost made me forget about my predicament. Almost.

“A roach,” I grimaced. I held up my foot like it needed stitches.

Tom grinned at me and shook his head.

“There appears to be no permanent damage. What happened to my fearless partner? Valliant Stranger?”

“Hey. Roaches are my kryptonite, okay?”

“Duly noted. I thought you put out some traps. Roach Motels, right?”

I took a paper towel off the roll and ran it under the tap. I bit my lip in disgust and wiped my foot.

“Yeah, I did. I guess there was no room left at the inn.”

Tom sniggered. “Don’t those things come with ‘No Vacancy’ signs?”

“Very funny, Mr. Morning Sunshine. Can we please change the subject now?”

“Okay.”

A dirty grin crept across his face. Tom sidled up to me and put his hands on my hips.

“Have you got a vacancy that I can fill?”

I knocked his hands off of me.

“Geeze, Tom. I think that may go down in history as the most disgusting foreplay line ever.”

Tom scooped me up into his arms. His naughty grin deepened his dimples and crinkled the corners of his hypnotic, green eyes.

“Okay, how about this? I’ve got a gun, lady. Better do what I say.”

Both my hormones and my imagination went haywire.

“Now that’s something I can work with.”

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Three Dumb: Wheelin’ & Dealin’

Baloney and Cheesed.

They say three’s the charm. But charming isn’t Val’s style.

Val Fremden is a lot of things. Quirky. Jaded. Disaster prone. But more than anything, she’s afraid of commitment.

When boyfriend Tom tells her he loves her – then trades away her mom’s ashes for a tiki hut – Val’s just not feelin’ it.

On the warpath with Tom, Val’s forced to rely on her oddball friends to help track down her mom’s cremains. But three botched stakeouts and two disasters later, she still hasn’t got peanuts. Through trial (but mostly error), Val discovers it’s not easy to outwit a mobile master of disguise when she’s stuck driving a paddy wagon full of nutcases.

She loves Tom…she loves him not. Knowing Val, she’s gonna need a bigger flower….

Three Dumb is a satirical look at how life, over time, changes our perception of love and the things we value. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, middle-aged woman with legendary commitment issues and a gnawing reluctance toward romance.

If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Three Dumb. It’s the fourth book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.


I’d spent Sunday evening alone, cooling down slowly, like the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. I’d avoided a critical meltdown, and when I woke up Monday morning, I’d found myself on the verge of no longer being a lethal danger to other life forms.After a cappuccino and a long, cool shower, at 8 a.m. I called Lefty’s Hauling again. It rang fifteen times, unanswered. This was, of course, totally unacceptable. It was time for Plan B.I slipped on a sundress and sandals, put my hair in a ponytail and climbed into the red pleather driver’s seat of Maggie, my 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible. With a little encouragement in the form of smashing her gas pedal to the floor, Maggie carried me north along Gulf Boulevard. The four-lane road, lined with two- and three-story beach resorts, skirted the Gulf of Mexico like stiches in a hem.

Year round, tourists flocked to the quaint mom-and-pop motels and sugar-white beaches. I couldn’t blame them. All-in-all, St. Pete Beach was a great place to be.

I turned east on 107th Avenue. Immediately, the salt air and kitsch beach shops disappeared, replaced with anywhere-USA strip malls. At 66th Street, I turned north in the direction of good-old Pinellas Park.

Every major metropolitan area had a section designated especially for rednecks. How they found each other, I didn’t know. Maybe they were all related, or there was some special redneck hotline I wasn’t privy to. At any rate, in Pinellas County, the mecca for country bumpkins and politically incorrect-and-proud-of-it folks was definitely Pinellas Park.

If it weren’t for Florida’s history of hurricanes and tropical storms, Pinellas Park would have choked to death on doublewide trailers decades ago. But in 1993, a freak storm took out all but the very highest quality manufactured homes. It had been dubbed the “1993 Storm of the Century” by some, the “’93 Super Storm” by others, and the “Great Blizzard of 1993” by the Yankees up north. But we locals simply called it the “No-Name Storm,” because it had come up so quickly and unexpectedly not even the weather forecasters had had time to register it with an official moniker.

It had begun on March 12th as a cyclonic storm in the Gulf of Mexico, then quickly grew into a beast that stretched from Cuba to Canada. It moved into Florida around midnight, catching us unaware with winds over 100 mph. It spawned 11 tornadoes and a storm surge in St. Pete that topped out at seven feet. For folks along the coast, bay and rivers, it had been devastating. It wiped out or damaged over 18,000 homes in the Sunshine State and killed 47 of our citizens, more than Hugo and Andrew combined. Suffice it to say, it was not a good time to be living in a tin can on wheels.

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WHAT FOUR

November 7, 2017

Most Definitely Contains Nuts.

All Val wants is a quiet holiday away from her oddball family. But a promise pried from her lips earlier in the year has blown that wish out the henhouse window.

When Val and her boyfriend Tom arrive at her mother’s house in Hicksville, USA, the annual Family Fruitcake Competition is well underway. And there’s more than a few fruits and nuts in the running.

But the biggest contest is between Val and her mom.

As their battle of wills heats up, unexpected ingredients get thrown into both women’s batter. It may be time to call in a referee….

Who will get best in show? Who will get their just desserts? And will Val’s half-baked family turn out to be too much baggage for Tom to handle? Order a copy and find out!

If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love What Four. It’s the fifth book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.

Like the characters in my novels, I haven’t lead a life of wealth or luxury. In fact, as it stands now, I’m set to inherit a half-eaten jar of Cheez Whiz…if my siblings don’t beat me to it.

During my illustrious career, I’ve been a roller-skating waitress, an actuarial assistant, an advertising copywriter, a real estate agent, a house flipper, an organic farmer, and a traveling vagabond/truth seeker. But no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done, I’ve always felt like a weirdo.

As a child I lived in my own pretend world of tickling fairies and talking cats. I began writing when I found an ancient black typewriter on my grandparent’s back porch. (Inspired by my brothers, Boys are Stupid was my first masterpiece.)

I’ve learned a heck of a lot in my life. But getting to know myself has been my greatest journey. Today, I know I’m smart. I’m direct. I’m jaded. I’m hopeful. I’m funny. I’m fierce. I’m a pushover. And I have a laugh that makes strangers want to join me at restaurants. In other words, I’m a jumble of opposing talents and flaws and emotions. And it’s all good.

In some ways, I’m a lot like Val Fremden the main character in my Val & Pals Series. My books featuring Val are not autobiographical, but what comes out of her mouth was first formed in my mind, and sometimes the parallels are undeniable. I drink TNTs. I had a car like Shabby Maggie. And I’ve started my life over four times, driving away with whatever earthly possessions fit in my car. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that friends come from unexpected places.

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#MFRWHooks “Emma, is that a yes or no?” #romance #mustread #amreading

♠♠  OUT NOW  ♠♠
I’d like to share some excerpts from my earlier book “Innocent Tears” – I hope you’ll enjoy the read. Thanks for stopping by.

 

Today’s Hook:

“My apologies.” Mrs. Gibbs stopped in front of Emma. She hesitated. “Emma, I
suppose the name was?”
“Yes ma’am.”
“I do apologise for my granddaughter. I have no idea where she gets her manners
from.”
“Ma’am, there’s no need to apologise. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed her company.”
But Mrs. Gibbs had already grabbed Nadine by the wrist and pulled her off the seat.
Then she turned to Emma again.
“I need someone to look after Nadine this afternoon. Who would be the best one to contact here in the hotel to organise this for me?”
Emma was a bit stumped by the question. She stared at Teresa Gibbs, feeling somewhat intimidated by her. Mrs. Gibbs glared like her old English teacher from seventh grade. She had the same kind of hair, which probably used to be black and had now faded into grey tied up in a bun. Her face read like a map of her past, maybe a hard life or simply exhaustion. Her grey eyes had dulled with age, lifeless and hollow, and her
mouth was drawn tight as if a polite word had never crossed those lips. Not to mention her clothes, which Emma thought were older than Emma herself.
“Well I suppose the receptionist, which will be me in about fifteen minutes.”
“Can I leave this in your capable hands to organise?”
“Well… I suppose… I mean… that’s a new one for me, but I suppose, yes.”
Mrs. Gibbs grew impatient. “Emma, is that a yes or no?”
“It’s a yes, ma’am,” Emma replied slightly embarrassed, yet with more confidence this time, even though she had no idea how to handle this request.
“Thanks, Emma. I would need someone between one and two-thirty.” And with that, she left. Emma quickly gave a little wave to Nadine before she was out of her sight.

BLURB:
Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it almost pulls the feet from right underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight! He had no idea about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody. With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, and his parents, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’, and Emma is voicing her opinion as well. And right in the middle is little Nadine, still grieving the loss of her mother and finding a wonderful friend in Emma. There’s no doubt she’s afraid where and with whom she will settle. But in the end, it’s a letter Flynn receives that helps him figuring out what to do.

 

AMAZON US

 

4 starsThe Romance Review – NEW BEGINNINGS is a very emotional read, one that is heartwarming as well as heart wrenching. It gives you hope in the act of human kindness and that good things do happen to good people. I highly recommend this book.

#SnippetSunday – “He lifted a questioning eyebrow.” – #romance #love #read #Free

 

Want to be part of sharing FRESH BEGINNINGS?
Sign up here … and I’ll be very grateful to you ☺

DEFYING RULES

A little reminder: in the previous posts Addy returned home from work to find her house broken in. Ethan drove coincidently drove by and stopped to see how she was going. I moved forward a little to the moment he knocks at her door later that night.

DEFYING RULES is set along the Australian Great Ocean Road and tells the story of Ethan Tomlin, single dad, and manager of a hotel chain.

This is still a WIP, so critique away.

Thanks … and enjoy 🙂

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Fifteen minutes later, Ethan stood in front of Addison’s house and knocked at the door. He’d thought of giving her a quick call before showing up unannounced, but had forgotten in the rush of getting organised. The house was lit up like a Christmas tree, and he assumed she was home, but wasn’t a hundred percent sure. He’d be disappointed, of course, but possibly more relieved that she was with somebody.
About to knock again, he stopped midway when the door opened a fraction. Just enough for Addison to peer through the small gap. Her beautiful blue eyes seemed tired and leery.
“Ethan?”
“Can I come in?”
She blinked a couple of times and noticed his swag. “Why?”
“I appreciate your attitude to handle this on your own, but—”
“I’m fine, Ethan.”
“I know you are and I know it’s very selfish in a way, but—”
“I don’t know you.”
The corners of his mouth twitched in the attempt to hold back a smile, despite some frustration growing within him. “That’s the second time you’ve interrupted me. I want to help. Is it so hard to understand that? I feel uncomfortable with the idea that someone broke into your house, and you’re on your own.”
“For all I know you could be —”
He lifted a questioning eyebrow.
Addison let out soft laugh, and damn if that didn’t do a number on his thoughts. “I know, far-fetched, but—” She hesitated, but stepped back after a moment to let him in. “Okay, there’s a spare bed in the back room.”

 

Thanks for all your comments,
I do appreciate each single one of them!
And check out Snippet Sunday  Facebook site for other writers.

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4 starsThe Romance Review – NEW BEGINNINGS is a very emotional read, one that is heartwarming as well as heart wrenching. It gives you hope in the act of human kindness and that good things do happen to good people. I highly recommend this book.

A sexy, sassy, summer read “Girl on a Plane” by Cassandra O’Leary @cass_oleary #HarperCollinsUk

Girl on a Plane
by Cassandra O’Leary


Blurb
 
A sexy, sassy, summer read. CLIMB ON BOARD . . .

When feisty Irish flight attendant Sinead Kennealy locks eyes with sexy Australian CEO Gabriel Anderson in First Class, sparks fly. But as they jet across the globe from Melbourne to London, it’s clear that they’re in for a turbulent journey . . .Stressed-out Gabriel doesn’t do relationships. And Sinead isn’t about to be fooled by another bad boy after escaping her stalker ex. Then a storm hits, causing the plane to land unexpectedly, and Sinead and Gabriel are thrown together in Singapore.
The pressure rises as Sinead’s unhappy past threatens to catch up with her. But might Gabriel be the one to heal her heartbreak? If he could open up about his troubling secrets, maybe a relationship could actually get off the ground. Fasten your seatbelts – this WON’T be a smooth ride . . .

Girl on a Plane is currently on sale for 99 cents across US retail sites. Buy links –
books2read.com/GirlOnAPlane 

Cassandra O’Leary is a writer/corporate wordsmith and communications specialist, avid reader, film and TV fangirl and admirer of pretty, shiny things.
In 2016, her debut romantic comedy novel, Girl on a Plane, was released globally as an ebook with Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK. She’s now in the process of writing her third full-length novel. Contemporary romance and romantic comedy are her main genres, but she has a few shorter novellas and other projects on the go, always, probably simultaneously.
She is a mother of two gorgeous, high-energy mini ninjas and wife to a spunky superhero. Living in Melbourne, Australia, she’s also travelled the world. If you want to send her to Italy or Spain on any food or wine tasting ‘research’ trips, that would be splendiferous.
Cassandra was a 2015 finalist in the Lone Star writing contest run by the Northwest Houston Romance Writers of America, and a 2014 finalist in the First Kiss contest run by Romance Writers of Australia, of which she’s a proud member.
Winner of the We Heart New Talent contest, Avon Maze/HarperCollins UK!
Twitter – @cass_oleary

 

Excerpt
Mermaid Airlines Flight 180, Melbourne to London

Showtime! Sinead Kennealy sucked in a deep breath and squared her shoulders. Time to get it over and done with. The molly-coddled first class passengers wouldn’t entertain themselves, apparently.

She sensed her colleagues Yuki and Deanna on either side of her usual position, centre front of the cabin. Yuki flicked her shiny black ponytail over her shoulder and flipped on the PA system. The airline’s theme song, a hackneyed rendition of the “Macarena”, blared from the plane’s speakers.

Hey! Mermaid Airlines.

Sinead’s heart sank like a stone dropped in a bucket of water even as she plastered on the airline’s trademark happy smile. Her jaw ached with the enforced perkiness, all day long. It was only breakfast time and she had a crick in her neck. A few more hours and they’d land in Dubai. She might have time for a massage at the hotel spa.

She shimmied forward in a practised and synchronised routine. The move she hated. The booby shake. A couple of mature men eagerly watched her from their premium seats with an over-excited gleam in their eyes.

One of the men mumbled, “Shake it, baby!”

Heat crawled up her throat to her cheeks and she wanted to slink away to the bathroom. Surely she couldn’t die from embarrassment. But it was a close call.

How much more of this job could she take? As an eager twenty-one-year-old recruit with Mermaid Airlines (The funnest airline in the world! so the tag-line went) she’d been bouncing off the walls with glee. The travel! The glamour! The most exciting job ever. Five years on, either her patience had run out or her expectations had grown.

Shimmy, shimmy, shake!

She kicked her leg. Shook her hips. A grown woman. Fluent in French, German and English, plus a sprinkling of Gaelic. A first-aid expert. Calm in an emergency. She had some mad skills these days. She’d even talked down an over-zealous pilot keen to initiate her into the Mile High Club. But look at her shaking her money-maker. Was it too much to ask for something more challenging?

Shimmy, shimmy, kick!

While she was ranting, why didn’t her male colleagues ever have to shake their tails to keep the high-flying passengers happy? Fecking Damian smirked at her over the passengers’ heads, from the rear of the cabin. Skiving off again. She gave him the evil eye, a slight pinch of her eyebrows the passengers wouldn’t notice. But he sure noticed, and scurried away like a little mouse back to the galley where he was meant to be preparing breakfast. She’d deal with him later.

Shimmy, kick!

She bowed. Enthusiastic applause from the whole cabin drowned out the roaring engines as the music died. She grabbed the microphone from Yuki.

“Thanks ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to Mermaid Airlines flight 180 from Melbourne to London via Dubai. We will be serving breakfast shortly. In the meantime, please watch this short safety video.”

Mirroring the gestures in the safety video, she pointed out the nearest exits. Her arms went off on their own merry way, demonstrating on auto-pilot. A yawn rose up in her throat. So tired. She could have shut her eyes and slept where she stood. But her lips stretched upwards, and she nodded at the passengers in front of her.