BUTTERFLY IN FROST by SYLVIA DAY BOOK REVIEW

BUTTERFLY IN FROST

By Sylvia Day

Release Date: August 27, 2019

Publisher: Montlake Romance

From #1 New York Times bestselling phenomenon Sylvia Day comes a hotly anticipated and passionate new love story.

Once, I would never have imagined myself here. But I’m settled now. In a place I love, in a home I renovated, spending time with new friends I adore, and working a job that fulfills me. I am reconciling the past and laying the groundwork for the future.

Then Garrett Frost moves in next door.

He’s obstinate and too bold, a raging force of nature that disrupts the careful order of my life. I recognize the ghosts that haunt him, the torment driving him. Garrett would be risky in any form, but wounded, he’s far more dangerous. I fear I’m too fragile for the storm raging inside him, too delicate to withstand the pain that buffets him. But he’s too determined…and too tempting.

And sometimes hope soars above even the iciest desolation.

Disclaimer:I received an ARC of BUTTERFLY IN FROST by SYLVIA DAY. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Montlake Romance and NetGalleyfor the Advanced Reader Copy. 

It was my pleasure to read BUTTERFLY IN FROST by SYLVIA DAY. I haven’t read a book by Ms. Day in a number of years and I found myself quickly drawn into the story of Teagan, Roxy & Mike, and Garrett!

The passion in this novel is palpable from the moment Garrett runs onto the page! The only question is how long that passion will remain unfulfilled! Teagan and Garrett burn mystifyingly hot and the flames just get higher as they learn about each other. I wouldn’t consider this novel erotic in nature, but the sex scenes are very steamy!

I am always amazed when an author catches me completely unaware when I get through a book. Ms. Day had me looking for one ending and then wowed me with something that was so completely unexpected that I had to go back and reread the end of the book several times to really let it sink in! I was totally blindsided to say the least!

BUTTERFLY IN FROST by SYLVIA DAY is a book that I will keep and read over again, more than just once! I will definitely be watching for more of the same style from Ms. Day in the future as this really resonated with me!

I very definitely recommend BUTTERFLY IN FROST by SYLVIA DAY and give it five beautiful gold stars!

©AUGUST 27, 2019

Roxy bounces on her feet with excitement. “Les and Marge sold their house.”

I blink. “I didn’t know they were selling.”

She laughs and heads toward the front door. “That’s the thing. They weren’t.”

“Wait, what?” I hurry after her as she steps outside.

I look to the right at my home, a lovingly restored butterfly-roofed midcentury, then on to the traditional house just beyond it that belongs—belonged—to Les and Marge. Including Roxy’s, all three of our homes have unique lots set between the homes that line the street and the Sound, affording us unhindered views of the water as well as exceptional privacy—all within a twenty-minute drive of the airport.

Roxy shortens the length of her stride to allow me to catch up, then glances over at me. “The day after you flew to New York, a Range Rover pulled into their driveway, and the guy inside offered them cash to close—and move out—in fourteen days.”

My step falters, and Minnie gets momentarily tangled in her leash. The dog shoots me what I would describe as an irritated look, then keeps trotting forward. “That’s crazy.”

“Isn’t it? Les wouldn’t say how much the offer was, but I’m thinking it was huge.”

We march up the inclined driveway, my head tilted back to take in the houses scaling the hillside. Designed with big windows to maximize the view, the homes have a look of wide-eyed wonder. Our little stretch of the Sound used to be a secret, but with the housing boom taking over Seattle and Tacoma, we’ve been discovered. Many residences are undergoing major renovation to suit the tastes of new owners.

Reaching the road, we turn left. To the right is a dead end.

“Well, if they’re happy,” I say, “I’m happy for them.”

“They’re overwhelmed. It was a lot to happen all at once, but I think they’re happy with their decision.” Roxanne stops when Bella does, and we wait as the two dogs mark one of their usual spots on the gravel edging the asphalt. There are no curbs on the streets in our neighborhood and no sidewalks. Just beautiful lawns and a profusion of flowering shrubs.

“We all tried prying information out of them,” she goes on, “but they weren’t sharing anything about the sale.” She gives me a sidelong glance. “But they did share a bit about the buyer.”

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

“Because Mike and I both think the buyer is someone famous. A film director maybe. Or an artist. Can you imagine? First Emily, a bestselling author. Then you, a reality-TV surgeon. Now this guy! Maybe we’re sitting on the new Malibu—beachside living without wildfires or state income tax!”

The mention of Roxy’s husband, Mike, coaxes an inner smile. A New York transplant like me, he adds a welcome touch of the life I left behind to the reality I’ve since created for myself—a reality that’s just been rocked by the loss of neighbors I like.

“What are the clues you’re working with?” I ask, deciding to play along. If I’ve learned anything the past year, it’s to accept the things I cannot change. A tough task for a control freak like me.

“Les pointed out to this guy that he hadn’t even seen the inside of the house. The guy said he didn’t need to. He knew already that ‘the light is perfect.’ I mean, who would say that? Gotta be someone who’s in visual arts, right?”

“Maybe,” I agree tentatively, disquieted by the unexpected conversation. The road rises sharply before us, the incline steep enough to put a little burn in my thighs. “Doesn’t mean he’s famous, though.”

“That’s the thing.” Her words carry a note of breathlessness. “Les wouldn’t give numbers, but he did say it was crazy the guy didn’t just buy that huge compound at the end of the street. That house is listed for three and a half million!”

My mind staggers at the thought. Les and Marge have—had—a beautiful home, but it’s not worth anywhere near that much.

“I think I saw the buyer once through that big arched window in the living room,” Roxy goes on. “The blonde with him was a looker. Supermodel skinny with legs for days.”

I’m panting when we reach the top; Roxy, who hits a gym most days of the week, is not.

A quarter mile farther, there’s a street to the right leading to Dash Point. Beyond that and straight ahead, the road slopes back down and around until it’s at water level. Redondo Beach is there, as is Salty’s, a restaurant on stilts in the water with expansive views of Poverty Bay and beyond. I’m about to wax poetic about Salty’s seafood chowder when a runner dashes around the corner at a full sprint. His sudden appearance rattles me. A closer look makes me freeze midstride. My breath locks in my lungs.

There are too many things to register at once, so my mind attempts to absorb the whole man. Dressed only in black shorts and shoes, he is a visual feast of deeply tanned skin, intricate sleeves of tattooed art, and sweat-slicked, flexing musculature.

And his face. Sculpted. Square-jawed. Brutally, breathlessly handsome.

Roxy, now a few feet in front of me, gives a low whistle. “Hot damn.”

***

Sylvia Day is the #1 New York Times, #1 USA Today, #1 Sunday Times, #1 Der Spiegel, and #1 international bestselling author of over twenty award-winning novels sold in more than forty countries. She is a #1 bestselling author in twenty-eight countries, with tens of millions of copies of her books in print. Visit the author at www.sylviaday.com.

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DARING SUMMER: A ROMANTIC SUSPENSE NOVEL by ELYSE DOUGLAS BOOK REVIEW

DARING SUMMER

BY ELYSE DOUGLAS

A hot summer beach—
A marriage gone wrong—
Daring eyes and daring love, betrayed by a secret passion.

Kim feels trapped in a loveless marriage to a jealous, wealthy older man. He blames her for crippling him in an auto accident that he himself caused. Kim strives to make the marriage work, despite her husband’s blame, verbal abuse, and bitterness. When she meets a wickedly handsome man on the beach, she fights not to want him, not to want a new life and not to fall in love.

But Derek is seductive and irresistible—a former soldier who has recently come to town to start a landscaping business. Kim falls hard for him, as he does to her. Although Kim wants a divorce, her husband finds out about their affair and devises a plot to destroy them both. They must struggle to survive a web of lies, deceit and dangerous passion.

AMAZON

BOOK REVIEW

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of DARING SUMMER by ELYSE DOUGLAS. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to VIRTUAL AUTHOR BOOK TOURS for the advance copy!

 It was truly a pleasure to sit and read DARING SUMMER by ELYSE DOUGLAS! I was fully invested in the “who-dun-it” of this book by the time I had read the full blurb! I just couldn’t wait to read it and see what the pages held in store!

The characters were incredibly well-developed. With the descriptions of their physical characteristics and their behavior, a very vivid picture of each of them grew as each chapter sped by!

DARING SUMMER is an incredibly fast-paced book with a plot that whipped this reader into a fury as Ben Maxell showed his true colors early on! Things move quickly from the first chapter as the authors take us on the daring journey through the sand dunes of Scorpio Beach during this brilliantly crafted book!  

I very highly recommend DARING SUMMER for anyone that enjoys a great romantic suspense novel!

I give DARING SUMMER by ELYSE DOUGLAS five gleaming gold stars!

Please tell us your story as a husband/wife writing team.  How did you meet, how did you discover you could write as a team, etc.

A:  We met at the Greenhouse Theatre in New York, a theatre dedicated to nurturing writers, directors and actors.  We were both writers, but I was also working as an actress in the soap opera Guiding Light

After a night of working at the theater, Doug asked me if I wanted to go to a party that some of his friends were throwing to celebrate the production of his new play, and I said, “Why not?”  We have been together since, more than twenty years… But whose counting?

When writing novels, we work together in a variety of ways.  It depends on the plot and characters.  We start with plot, structure, tone, then characters.  We write maybe 10,000 or 20,000 words.  If by then the story doesn’t smell right, we drop it and move on.  We have begun and dropped at least five books over the years, two were completed.  C’est la vie!

What draws you to this genre? 
A: In the romantic suspense genre, characters are often struggling with inner demons that drive them to action.  At least the better ones do.  It’s not just a sexy attraction, but what lies beneath the dialogue and the plot that strips away the protective layers that allows the characters to truly fall in love.

How long did it take you to write this book from concept to fruition?

A: We made several attempts at Daring Summer before we were happy with it.  We completed a draft a couple of years ago and then set it aside, returning to it twice more before finally completing it.  So, from start to finish, over two years.

How important do you believe having a good editor is for the success of your book?

A: A good editor is mandatory—a must for every writer.  I know of no writer who doesn’t need a professional editor to point out the cracks in the plot, the errant grammar and the pretzel sentences.

What is your usual writing routine?

A: I write 6-7 days a week at least four hours a day.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?

A: Marketing is a challenge, but it is an essential part of writing.  Without it, nobody will find and read your book. 

What do you do when you are not writing? 

A: Read, walk, take vacations and go to fun restaurants.

Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?

A: Whenever I hear that question this quote comes to mind and I laugh.

“No man/woman but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.”

– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

What do you hope people will take away from your writing? How will your words make them feel?

A: Entertained, uplifted and wanting more.

Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?

A: Brian DeFiore, agent and editor, who taught me the absolute necessity of having a good editor. 

Praise ‘Other Side of Summer’ by Elyse Douglas

“5 stars, another great, emotional read from this author!! I was hooked the minute I started reading it. Be warned you will need a box of tissues to read. I really love this author!”- Melissa Mendoza, Anne & Melissa’s Book Love

“I found this to be a satisfying, well developed warm and enriching read. It gave me a lot to think about. I will recommend it to readers of both genders, age high school and up, who like substance in their novels.”-Laura Reading, Laura’s Interests

“The book is more than just a contemporary romance – it’s a family saga, a book about the bonds of family, about love (not just between partners but between parents and children), about life and the choices we make. It’s heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. The writing is hauntingly beautiful, and the author has a talent for crafting believable characters. An excellent book, and I look forward to reading more by this author.”- Majanka, I Heart Reading

“Great story, I give it five stars.  I thought the book was wonderful and emotional, and I loved the writing style and how the words flowed.  I was happy to fantasize about being there to watch the story unfold.  I loved this story; took me back to my young beach days.”-Diana’s Book Reviews

FACING A TWISTED JUDGMENT by K.J. MCGILLICK BLOG BLITZ @rararesources @KJMcGillickAuth

 

Facing A Twisted Judgment

BY K.J. McGillick

 

What happens when tunnel vision clouds a police investigation? Is it true that once you are labelled a person of interest you really are the prime suspect? Can you trust the legal system? Probably not.

After a bitterly contested legal battle over inherited property, the hard-won art collection and its owner, Samantha Bennington, disappear. Both have vanished without a trace.

When blood spatter is discovered under the freshly painted wall of the room in which two of the paintings were hung, the theft becomes the opening act in a twisted tale of jealousy, revenge, and murder leading to a final judgment for all involved.

As the list of suspects narrows, the focus lands squarely on the husband. Some labeled Samantha’s husband a corrupt attorney, others an opportunist. Either way, he’s in the crosshairs of law enforcement and they are calling him a murderer. But is he the only viable suspect? What about the missing woman’s drug-addicted sister and her convicted felon brother? Both were furious over their loss at court and have more than enough reason to hate Samantha.

Guilty until proven innocent leaves Alexander Clarke facing a twisted judgment.

AMAZON 

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K.J. McGillick was born in New York and once she started to walk, she never stopped running. But that’s what New Yorkers do. Right?

As she evolved so did her career choices. After completing her graduate degree in nursing, she spent many years in the university setting sharing the dreams of the enthusiastic nursing students she taught. After twenty rewarding years in the medical field, she attended law school and has spent the last twenty-four years as an attorney, helping people navigate the turbulent waters of the legal system. Not an easy feat. And now? Now she is sharing the characters she loves with readers, hoping they are intrigued by her twisting and turning plots and entertained by her writing.

FACEBOOK – KJMcGillickauthor

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NANA AND THE “C” by DORIS SCHNEIDER BOOK REVIEW @pamlicowritersc

 

 

Nana and the “c” is a book for all ages and all cultures as it is about family and the ability to support a loved one through the challenges of cancer. It is told from a seven-year-old’s perspective as she gathers the courage to face her grandmother’s illness and learns that her irritating younger sister is perhaps smarter than she seems. Together they also learn how to conquer their biggest fear and replace worry with wonder.

The story is uplifting and often humorous while symbolizing hope. It will make readers of all ages laugh, cry, and remember their own childhood and the relationships and events that influenced who they have become. The goal of this story is to help children through health crises in their family. The illustrator, editor and designer donated their time to help with the project in order to make possible the donation of copies of the book to waiting rooms of cancer clinics.

~ Buy 1 Gift 1 to Charity ~

Thank you so much for your generosity. We’re donating books to hospitals and children’s centers. Anywhere people might benefit from an uplifting story dealing with cancer.

~ Universal Amazon Link ~

 

 

It is my pleasure to read and review Nana and the “c” by Doris Schneider!

It is written very simply so that it can be presented to the youngest child if they are of the age of understanding by their parents. My eight-year-old found it very easy to understand when we read it together!

Ms. Schneider’s own experience with cancer gave her a very effortless voice with which to tell the story to her grandchildren, thus passing it on to others in Nana and the “c”.

The illustrations are very exceptionally placed within the story and allow the readers an opportunity to peer inside the story in addition to reading it!

I definitely recommend this book for any family faced with telling young children about a cancer diagnosis! It takes a scary and complicated situation and simplifies it for our children to understand!

I give Nana and the “c” by Doris Schneider five steaming hot cups of Reviews by Room With Books cups of coffee!

©October 12, 2018

I received a complimentary copy of Nana and the “c” by Doris Schneider for an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Loving the Book for the Advanced Digital Copy.

 

 

Doris Schneider is an artist, scene designer, writer, and educator. She taught at William Carey University and was a tenured professor of theatre at North Carolina Central University. She published two novels: Borrowed Things and By Way of Water.

After her own bout with breast cancer, she wrote this story based on a real event with her granddaughters. While the illustrator, Wenhai Ma, was teaching at Duke University, the two became long-term friends—culminating in their collaboration on Nana and the “c”.

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Meet the Illustrator

Wenhai Ma – American-Chinese scene designer, illustrator and educator. He was granted tenured professorship at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, China and Carnegie Mellon University, USA. He has taught at Duke University, University of Nebraska Lincoln, Purdue University and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, the Central Academy of Drama, China and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Singapore. He is the author of Scene Design Rendering and Media (Focus Publishing, USA) and illustrator for 10 children’s picture books in the US. He has designed sets and costumes for various dramas, operas and musicals in the United States, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia. His first novel Such An Enchanted Night was published in Taiwan, 2017.

 

 

To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page

 

 

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SAVING PENNY by ARIEL MARIE BOOK REVIEW @the_ArielMarie @EJBookPromos

Saving Penny

Imperial Knights #1

By Ariel Marie

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Release Date: August 21, 2018

Cover Designer: Melody Simmons with Bookcoverscre8tive Book Cover Designs

 

 

Billionaire CEO of the Imperial Knights security empire, Drake Ransley spends his days in full control of every element of his life. By night, he’s a man plagued by a mysterious dream about a brown coin. As time passes, the frequency of the dream increases and the penny morphs into a beautiful woman that Drake can’t stop thinking about.

Penny Berkey has just discovered that she has won the largest payout in lottery history, but it might not be enough to keep her away from danger. The promise of a major payout awaits. Danger lurks in the shadows. A stalker looms at every turn. Unable to elicit help from the police, she turns to the best security team money can buy – the Imperial Knights.

Drake knows the moment he lays eyes on her that she’s the woman from his dreams. His wolf instantly recognizes her as his mate. With danger lurking at every corner for her, he’s all the more determined to keep her safe by any means necessary.

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Universal Link: http://viewbook.at/savpen

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Saving Penny by Ariel Marie for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to Enticing Journey Book Promotions for the advance copy.

I am usually a very loyal, one author shifter reader, but Saving Penny by Ariel Marie was worth taking a chance on! I enjoyed reading it very much!

Drake has dreamt of a penny for years with no understanding of the dream’s meaning! He has secured his financial future, as well as that of his brothers, with the Imperial Knights security empire. Then the dream morphs into a woman, but with no defining features.

Penny is the top sales person at her company, a fact that isn’t appreciated by all the men whom she has bested! Penny is blessed by a huge windfall that allows her to resign her position. But she garners a stalker in the last weeks of work. Enter Drake and the Imperial Knights!

Who wouldn’t want an Alpha Shifter, who has sensed Penny as his mate, to take on the head of your security team? The steaminess does ensue, and it is explicit, so this is not for the faint of heart!

Saving Penny by Ariel Marie is a fabulous book, written with a twisty plot, a swoon-worthy wolf shifter, a strong woman to stand with him, and characters that make it entertaining to read! It is short, so I was able to read it in a single sitting, even though I had to elbow my hubby out of my way several times before I was able to get to the end! Ariel Marie, you’ve made a new fan and I’m excited to read the next installment in the series!

I highly recommend Saving Penny by Ariel Marie and give it five steaming hot cups of coffee!

©June 21, 2018

 

 

Ariel Marie is an author who loves the paranormal, action and hot steamy romance. She combines all three in each and every one of her stories. For as long as she can remember, she has loved vampires, shifters and every creature you can think of. This even rolls over into her favorite movies! She love a good action packed thriller! Throw a touch of the supernatural world in it and she’s hooked!

She grew up in Cleveland, Ohio where she currently resides with her husband and three beautiful children.

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SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT BOOK REVIEW @PattyBlount

Someone I Used to Know

by Patty Blount

Release Date: August 7, 2018

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

 

 

“Blount has written a heartrending but much-needed view on this subject. This book provides a nuanced look at the toxicity of rape culture and the long-lasting and harming aftermath of sexual assault.”— School Library Journal

 

 

From the award-winning author of Some Boys comes an unflinching examination of rape culture that delves into a family torn apart by sexual assault.

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap on the wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain.

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows he handled it all wrong. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

When it all comes to head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to SOURCEBOOKS FIRE and NETGALLEY for the advance copy.

Ms. Blount tackles the brutal subject of rape by a student athlete head on in this riveting novel which steers us through Ashley’s life leading up to her heart-wrenching rape, and the aftermath of her attack.

Ms. Blount illustrates how a rape rips through a family, a school, and a community in SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW. The effects are felt far beyond the moments of the actual rape and reach deep in to the hearts and souls of Ashely’s family and friends and are felt keenly for several years following the attack.

Ms. Blount shows a very realistic view of the mental anguish a rape victim lives with, often for many years following the actual rape, and how justice from the victim’s view, rarely is just.

I very much enjoy Ms. Blount’s style of writing and her character development was exceptional! This is the first novel of Ms. Blount’s I’ve read, but it won’t be my last!

I wish this book could become required reading for all junior and high school teachers and school staff, as well as incoming freshman boys and girls! I believe it would be a true eye opener for all of them!

I highly recommend SOMEONE I USED TO KNOW by PATTY BLOUNT and give it five steaming hot cups of coffee!

©JUNE 6, 2018

 

 

Powered by way too much chocolate, award-winning author Patty Blount loves to write and has written everything from technical manuals to poetry. A 2015 CLMP Firecracker Award winner as well as Rita finalist, Patty writes issue-driven novels for teens and is currently working on a romantic thriller. Her editor claims she writes her best work when she’s mad, so if you happen to upset Patty and don’t have any chocolate on hand to throw at her, prepare to be a subject of an upcoming novel. Patty lives on Long Island with her family in a house that sadly doesn’t have anywhere near enough bookshelves…or chocolate.

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2 Copies of Someone I Used to Know

Runs August 7th -31st

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1

Ashley

Your Honor, thank you for letting me address this court. The first thing I want to say is that I couldn’t wait to start high school. I liked the defendant. I really liked him. And I thought he liked me back. But now I know he never saw me as a person. I was nothing more than an opportunity for him. So now I can’t wait until I’m done with high school.

—Ashley E. Lawrence, victim impact statement

Now

Bellford, Ohio

The mirror is my enemy.

So is the closet.

There’s literally nothing to wear. Clothes litter my room. Several pairs of jeans are balled up on my bed because they hug my butt too tightly. T-shirts lie in piles on the floor because they’re too clingy. Shorts and skirts? No. They reveal too much leg. I throw them over my shoulder. Dr. Joyce, my therapist, claims it’s normal to have trouble getting dressed after what happened.

I always tell her I don’t care what’s normal after what happened; I just want normal—without qualifiers. I want to open my closet, pull on any old outfit, and not obsess about people thinking I’m asking for it.

“Ashley?”

I glance up and find Mom in my doorway, looking me over. I’m wearing a robe even though it’s about ninety degrees outside.

“You okay?”

“Fine,” I lie and dive back into my closet, mopping sweat from the back of my neck. We’d agreed that I’d go to school on my own today. It’s time.

“Ashley, look at me.”

I pull my head out of my closet and meet her eyes.

“Honey, I know you’re upset. We all are, but I promise you, it’s going to be okay.”

At those words, I clench my jaw and shoot up a hand. Then I just turn away because, honestly, I don’t know which part pisses me off more…the colossal understatement implied by a wimpy word like upset or the addition of the pronoun we, suggesting everybody else in this family knows exactly how I feel when they don’t have the slightest clue.

She sighs but nods and then steps over to the closet, rehanging the discarded clothes I dumped on my bed. “We haven’t looked west yet. California is truly beautiful. You know I’ve never been there?”

I roll my eyes. We haven’t looked anywhere. All we’ve done is talk about it, so I say the same thing I always say when this comes up. “Mom, I don’t want to move away.”

“But it could be a fresh new start for all of us, Ashley. No one would even have to know you were—”

“Mom.” I cut her off, forcefully this time. “I really have to get dressed.”

Her blue eyes, the eyes both of my brothers inherited, fill with the look that’s become way too common over the last two years. It’s disappointment. Is it directed at me or what happened to me? I don’t know anymore, and I don’t think it even matters. All I know is it’s so acute, I can’t bear to see it and have to look away. Once again, I return my attention to the closet to find something to wear.

“Okay. Have a great first day. Call if…if you need me.” She turns and heads downstairs.

I don’t answer because great days are yet another myth I’ve discovered in a long series of them, starting with the concept of justice. I roll my eyes. California. Like it would be no problem to just shut down Dad’s auto repair shop and move a family of five across the country where there are no grandparents, no aunts, no uncles or cousins.

As the front door closes and the engine starts in the driveway, my phone buzzes. It hardly ever does that anymore. I glance at the display, annoyed when some stupid tiny seed of hope blooms because there’s a text message from Derek.

Derek: Good luck today.

Rage ignites inside me like a match held to dry leaves. Cursing, I kick over my hamper, swipe every last book and paper off my desk, and come perilously close to hurling my cell phone at the wall. Good luck. Could he be this clueless?

As this is my brother, yes. He could be and often is this clueless…and worse.

Ashley: Yeah. Sure. Luck. That’ll help.

The phone buzzes again.

Derek: I’m sorry. I swear I am.

Sorry? I almost laugh. Derek doesn’t do apologies.

“Derek, tell Ashley you’re sorry,” Mom would order him after he’d made me cry for some thing or another.

And he’d say, “Sorry, Ash.” Mom would walk away or turn her back, and he’d stick out his tongue or roll his eyes and smile that Derek smile, and I’d know. I’d know he wasn’t really sorry. He was only saying it to make Mom happy. Apologies happen when you own up to having been wrong, and Derek has never been wrong in his life.

I stare at the words I’d have given anything to hear my brother say two years ago, but they’re too little, too late, and knowing Derek as I do, false.

I toss the phone to my bed and go back to pawing through every drawer in my dresser and every hanger in my closet for something to wear and finally spy something. It’s this old maxi dress Mom bought for me years ago. The tags are still on it. I grab it and hold it up. It probably doesn’t fit. I think I was twelve or thirteen when she bought it.

There’s a little pang in my chest. Twelve or thirteen.

Before everything changed.

I swallow hard, trying to hold on to the pain because if it gets loose—

Deep breath. Hold it in. Okay. Dress. Right.

I hold the dress up to my body, considering it. Yeah, it might work. I slip it on, smooth it out. It’s actually a bit big. And ugly. Shades of dull beige and brown in a paisley print that hangs all the way to my ankles. I grab a sweater to hide my shoulders revealed by this outfit and smooth down a cowlick in my hair, which has finally reached shoulder length again.

Above the shelf on my wall, there’s a mirror Mom bought so I could get ready for the new school year. I’d smashed the old mirror in another fit of rage not long after I’d hacked off my long hair. Yeah, this outfit does work. It hides pretty much everything.

I grab my phone and try to visualize the day ahead. Tara, my best friend, will meet me at school. She always has my back. The rest of the school is a different story.

Derek’s words rattle around inside my head like some kind of curse. Good luck, Ash Tray. You’ll need it.

Deep breaths. Breathe in, hold for one…two…three…four, breathe out. In, hold, out. In, hold, out. I hate doing these breathing exercises because I feel like a total loser. I mean, who has to concentrate on breathing?

Traumatized people like me, that’s who.

Two years. It’s been two years. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I roll my eyes because that’s another thing I must do. Tell myself complete and total lies. It’s supposed to help me believe them, turning them into what my therapist claims are self-fulfilling prophecies. I get it. The power of positive thinking and all that crap. But the truth is, I’m still waiting to feel fulfilled, yet I keep doing the same stupid breathing exercise, and I keep repeating the same stupid lies until finally my heart stops trying to beat out of my chest.

This is it—the first day of school. Junior year. I can do this. I can. I will do this.

I do something else…something my therapist never told me about. I visualize. I imagine building a dam…a little beaver dam of logs and twigs and dried mud to keep all of the triggers and memories and rage and…pain from leaking out into my life. I spend some time shoring up my dam, and with one last deep breath, I head downstairs, pretending the dread that’s still climbing up my rib cage is anticipation for the first day of my junior year.

I see two coffee cups in the sink and dishes from my parents’ breakfast. It’s normal and typical, and it gives me something to hang on to while I wrestle all that dread back behind the dam.

I glance at the clock to make sure I have time and discover it’s after 8:00 a.m.

No, that can’t be right. I woke up extra early.

My shoulders sag while I stare at the clock blinking on the microwave over the stove and then pull the phone from my pocket. It shows the same time. How? How is this possible? They’re wrong. They’re both wrong. They have to be. I run to the family room, but the cable box is blinking the same time.

I’ve not only missed the bus, but I’ve missed the start of first period.

I shoulder my bag and start walking.

I thought I was past this. I thought the days when I’d lost huge chunks of time doing nothing except breathing were behind me.

***

School is terminally irritating.

I missed first period entirely, and by the time the old bat in the front office gives me my pass, I’ve missed half of second, too.

“Ashley. Hey,” Tara whispers when I finally take my seat in lit class, her face split in a huge smile. “What took you so long?” And then she looks at my outfit. “What are you wearing?”

I shake my head. “Don’t even.”

She puts up both hands in apology—or maybe surrender—and turns back to her notebook. Mrs. Kaplan is reading us the class rules and information about homework, exams, and class participation. I know this drill so I zone out. I take a look around the class, see who’s here, who’s not, and spot Sebastian Valenti over by the window at the same second he jerks his eyes away from me.

They’re really amazing eyes. Hazel. I used to think hazel was a color but found out it actually means eyes that change colors. Sebastian’s eyes look green sometimes, and other times, they look brown, and I’ve even seen them look practically yellow. Sebastian’s a good guy. The best. He saved me when my stupid brother didn’t. Wouldn’t. He keeps asking how I’m doing, and I keep saying fine. And that’s about as deep as our conversations ever get, so I just don’t bother anymore. I haven’t talked to him all summer. But he’s still a really good guy.

“May I have your attention please?”

The PA system cracks into life, and Mrs. Kaplan takes a seat at her desk while the principal welcomes us back to the new school year and tells us about some after-school clubs. And then, right after an announcement about several new teachers, Principal McCloskey ruins what’s left of my life.

“We’d like to welcome our new calculus teacher, Mr. Davidson, to Bellford High. In addition to teaching calculus, Mr. Davidson has agreed to help us start a new and improved football program. Tryouts for this year’s Bengals team will be held after school.”

A cheer goes up around the classroom.

I sit in my seat, frozen. I’m fine. I’m absolutely fine. I lie to myself, but my brain knows better, and I can feel that old pressure spinning inside my chest.

A hand squeezes mine, and I jolt like I’ve been struck by lightning. I look up into the concerned eyes of Tara. That’s when I discover everybody in the entire class has swiveled around to see how I’m taking this news. Most people look concerned, like Tara. But others are triumphant, like Andre, sitting at the front of the classroom, and Bruce, over by the windows next to Sebastian. I can’t stand it, can’t deal with it. Suddenly, I’m on my feet, running for the door. “Ashley! Ashley, come back here!” Mrs. Kaplan shouts after me.

I dart across the hall into the girls’ bathroom and lock myself into a stall. I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine I’m fine.

I repeat the words over and over so fast, they morph into percussion that syncs to the pounding of my heart. It’s bad enough seeing everybody stare at me. Everybody blames me for canceling football.

Derek blames me.

My brother blames me for what happened two years ago. I can never forget that…or forgive it.

It doesn’t matter how many lies I tell myself or how deep I bury those memories, how strong the dam is. Those memories—the pain they cause—they keep finding ways to break out, and I’m just not strong enough to hold them back.

I don’t think I ever will be.

Two Years Ago

Bellford, Ohio

It’s raining, but I don’t care. I love the way the air smells when it rains. Earthy. Clean and fresh and—so alive. I’m totally psyched to start high school and don’t care if there’s a hurricane. Armed with my bright pink umbrella, I’m ready to head to the bus stop, but Mom says Derek could have the car if he drives both of us to school. I squeal and clap. I love riding shotgun with Derek…when he lets me, that is.

Derek’s been treating me like crap for ages. We’re only a year and a half apart, so we shared a stroller, took baths together, went to gymnastics and soccer together. We were on different teams, though. That always bugged me. I wanted to play on his team. We’re a unit, a combo special, a team. Justin, our brother, is a lot older. He has his own separate life. But Derek and I are best friends. Nobody knows it but me, but Derek wants to make video games when we grow up. He has a ton of cool ideas, too.

At least, he used to. He never talks about that kind of stuff with me anymore. Now he’s all about football and girls and driving and avoids me as much as he can. I annoy him. I don’t see how that’s even possible. I try to do all the things he always liked doing with me like movie nights and epic game battles. Now he just rolls his eyes and says I should get a life.

But this is my first day of high school. So that means we can hang out again. I’m older and not so annoying. Derek doesn’t argue with Mom about driving me to school, so I kind of assume that means he’s finally outgrown his problems with me. Mom said he would…eventually. I also kind of assume that driving us to school also means driving us home. He has other ideas.

“Take the bus home. I’m hanging with my friends later.”

“Oh,” I say, smile fading. “Yeah. Sure.”

My first day of high school is awesome in every possible way. I have lunch with Donna Jennings, a girl I know from middle school, who got her hair cut in this really cool undershaved style and got a boyfriend over the summer. She showed everybody the gold heart necklace he’d given her, and my heart sighed. It had stopped raining by the afternoon, so I take my time heading to the parking lot to ride home with Derek, but the space where he’d parked Mom’s car is empty.

Darn. I was supposed to take the bus home. I totally forgot.

“You look lost.” A boy with messy hair and blue eyes says. He is seriously cute and standing with three other boys against a blue car.

“Must be a freshman,” another says.

“Just looking for my brother.”

“Who is he?”

“Um. Derek Lawrence.”

They exchange glances and laugh. “Oh, you’re Ash Tray. Sorry, you just missed him.”

“Cut it out,” the cute one says. “I’m Vic. Victor Patton.” He smiles at me. Dimples. Wow.

“Hey, that’s what Derek calls her.” The boy laughs.

Oh my God. Derek told them that? My face bursts into flames, and I turn away.

“Leave her alone.” Vic straightens up and walks toward me. He’s tall, taller than Derek. “Derek left. He might be back. Why don’t you call him?”

Yeah. Good idea. I pull out my phone and hit his name. It rings, but he never picks up. Next, I try texting him. Meanwhile, the boys pile into the blue car and take off, splashing water all over me.

I brush muddy splotches from my clothes, choking back tears, and call Mom’s cell phone, but it goes straight to voicemail. I try calling Dad too. Same thing.

What am I supposed to do? I head back to the main entrance, sink down on one of the steps, and drop my chin into my hands. I sit there, quietly crying, until the steel doors burst open and a bunch of laughing girls jog past me. Quickly, I fluff my waist-long hair in front of my face to hide the tears. All but one of the five girls wear warm-up suits bearing the word Fusion in bright red letters down one leg.

One crouches down to get a look at me. “Hey. You okay?”

I nod vigorously. “Yeah. Fine.”

“You’re crying. Can I help?” She takes a step closer, and I scrub at my face with the back of my hand, like that has even a remote chance at erasing my complete embarrassment.

“Not unless you have a magic potion that works on stupid brothers,” I blurt. Oh my God! I slap a hand over my mouth. I need to die. Right now. Where’s a lightning bolt when you need one?

“Oh, a stupid brother. I have one of those.” She smiles. She’s so pretty. Long, dark, and lean, she looks like one of the models in my Teen Vogue magazines.

I’m suddenly interested in hearing her story. “Older or younger?”

“Younger. Takes annoying to whole new levels, like it’s some kind of vow he took. Do you know he actually put my retainer in the toilet? My mother nearly burst a blood vessel after that.” She giggles. “Oh! I’m Candace Ladd.”

“Hey.” This time, my smile is bigger. “Ashley. Ashley Lawrence.”

“You must be a freshman.”

I wince, face burning all over again. “Does it show?”

She laughs, revealing perfectly straight, bright white teeth that somehow remained impervious to her little brother ruining her retainer. “Nah. I’ve just never seen you before, and I know pretty much everybody. I’m a junior.” She studies me, her head angled to one side. “Lawrence, huh?” And then her dark eyes open wide. “Oh my God. Is that stupid brother you mentioned Derek Lawrence?”

“You know him?”

She nods. “Yeah, we’re in the same homeroom. Oh, wow. Brittany is gonna hate hearing he’s a jerk. She’s really into him.” Candace points to the field on the other side of the small parking lot. The pretty blond with the great smile is doing ballet pliés.

I stare and swallow hard. Brittany is everything I’m not. Beautiful. Skinny. She even looks like Derek with perfect blond hair and blue eyes. They could be Ken and Barbie. I have dark hair and dark eyes. “Maybe he’ll be nicer to her.”

“Come on.” Candace Ladd grabs my hand, tugging me off the step where I’d been sitting, crying. “You know what’s great for getting over the stupid stuff brothers do?”

I have no idea, but I follow her anyway, making my way across the lot to the field that’s empty except for these girls.

“Dancing.”

I plant my feet in the grass at that. I love dancing. I’d taken dance classes for years when I was little. But I stopped about two years ago and now have a roll of fat bulging from the top of my jeans. I’d stick out like one of those old Sesame Street games—one of these things is so not like the others.

“Everybody, this is Ashley Lawrence. She’s Derek’s sister.”

The really pretty blond snaps her head up at that. Her smooth hair is pulled back in a ponytail, and her blue eyes are so blue, I wonder if she wears contacts. “I’m Brittany,” she says with a smile. “And this is Tara, Marlena, and Deanne.”

“Hi,” I manage to squeak out while the girls each smile and greet me.

Oh God, they’re all so beautiful. Next to them, I feel like a freak.

I am a freak.

“Ashley’s gonna dance with us today. She’s got some brother crap to work out of her system,” Candace explains to her friends, and Tara’s face instantly breaks into an expression of total understanding.

“Oh, honey. I got two of them. Is Derek what caused all this?” She waves a hand with pink-striped fingernails at my new back-to-school outfit, currently splattered in mud thanks to the boys in the blue car.

“Um, indirectly,” I admit.

“Jerk.”

“What an asshole!”

One by one, they all give their opinion of Derek while adjusting hairstyles, retying shoes, and stretching leg muscles. I’m entranced.

“You a freshman?” Marlena asks, and my face heats up again.

I nod, expecting her to make a disgusted face, but she just says, “I’m a sophomore. Candace and Brittany are juniors. And Tara’s a freshman, like you.”

I perk up at this news. Finally, somebody my own age.

Brittany pulls a small wireless speaker from her backpack, turns it on, and sets it on a bench at the edge of the athletic field. “It’s nice having the field to ourselves for once.”

“Hey, let’s teach her the routine,” Deanne suggests. “Then she can try out for Ms. Pasmore.”

Wait, what? Try out?

Holy crap, I can’t. But the rest of the girls agree. Candace crosses her arms and studies me. “Can you do basic moves like pirouettes and leaps?”

I shake my head. “I haven’t done those in a long time.”

“But you know how?” Candace prods. I can only shrug. “Oh, come on. Just try.” She urges me with a smile.

“Come on, Ashley. It would be great if we both make it on to the team,” Tara adds.

Tara’s words shoot straight into my heart and sort of plant roots. Suddenly, I want this. I want to dance and be on the team and have friends who understand all of my Derek problems.

“It’s okay, Ashley. You can do this,” Tara says, and that spot inside my heart warms up again.

I swallow hard, rub my damp palms down my legs, and get into fourth position…or is it fifth? I perform a slow, shaky pirouette. The girls applaud, and my face feels hot.

“That’s seriously not bad for someone who hasn’t danced in a couple of years.” Candace lifts her palm for a high five that I happily give her.

Derek would freak out if I do this.

So I should totally do it.

“That’s really great, Ashley. Okay, now strut!” She calls out, and the girls line up with me, everybody moving left, pumping their arms. I follow along, astounded by my efforts. “Other way. That’s good, Ashley! Now make it bigger.”

We strut back and march in place, and then Brittany takes over, leading us in a series of big, bold movements—kicks, leaps, shoulder shimmies, and pirouettes. They were right. This is fun. We dance for over an hour. The girls teach me their entire routine, and I do it all and have no time to be mad about Derek.

When we finally stop, Brittany angles her head, studying me.

“You know, you should cut some of that. It’s way too long for you.” She waves a hand over my hair.

My hair reaches my waist. “I, um, don’t look good with short hair. I mean, no offense,” I quickly say to Tara, whose jaw-length bob looks totally awesome.

“No, not that short,” Brittany says. “Maybe about here.” She indicates the middle of my back with her hand. “Take some of it off. I think it’ll have more volume.”

“Yeah,” Candace agrees. “When you do those snap turns, you won’t whip us in the face.”

Deanne hands me some forms. “Here. After you try out, you’ll need to order these.”

I stare down the sheet of papers, see the various items, each bearing the team name, Fusion.

“What do you say, Ashley? Are you in?” Candace grins, those bright white teeth gleaming at me.

I scan the group of them, all of them perfect and pretty and good at dancing. “Aren’t you worried I’ll make you look bad? I don’t…look like you all.”

“Oh, honey,” Tara says, putting an arm around me. “All you need is some practice to build up your confidence.” She looks around the group for verification.

“Hell, yeah. In freshman year, I had braces on my teeth, a terrible haircut, and I was six inches shorter than I am now. I could barely talk to anyone,” Brittany admits. “But you have something I didn’t have in freshman year.”

I did? “What’s that?”

“Boobs.” The other girls crack up as my face bursts into flames. “The boys won’t see anything else. Trust me.”

Brittany and Candace hop into a car and are gone after a honk and a wave. Deanne and Marlena stand with me until a minivan pulls up, and then it’s just me and Tara. We start walking toward the school’s main exit.

“So how are you getting home?” I ask her, and she shrugs.

“Walk. I live pretty much next door.” She points down the road.

“Handy.”

“Well, see you tomorrow. It was nice meeting you.”

“You too,” I call back.

I start walking toward town, where my dad’s garage is, wishing I had a bottle of water with me. My legs are like noodles after all that dancing, and a two-mile walk does not appeal to me. Like a wish granted, a horn honks, and a shiny black Chevy slows down beside me.

“Hey, Derek’s sister! Need a ride?”

Oh. Em. Gee.

It’s him. The boy with the cute smile and the dimples.

My voice gets stuck in my throat, so I only nod.

“What’s your name? Your real name, I mean,” he asks through the open passenger side window, smiling and making my wobbly legs even weaker. He isn’t going to call me Ash Tray? Swoon.

“Um. Ashley.” My voice is all squeaky.

“I’m Vic.”

“Yeah, I remember.” Vic. What a cool name. The coolest name in the world. I want to name a baby Vic.

He laughs. “Good. So where are you heading?”

“Oh, um. To my dad’s garage. Over on Blaine.”

“Right, right. I know where it is. Hop in,” he invites with a jerk of his head. “I’ll give you a lift.”

It never occurs to me to say no. He has such a great smile. His hair is somewhere between blond and brown and so messy I itch to touch it and smooth it. He’s really tall but lean. And his eyes are so blue, they look like pools you never want to get out of. But it’s that smile, the one with the dimple at the corner, that makes me forget my name.

“So, Ashley. You’re what? A freshman?”

Is there a sign hanging over my head or something? Wincing, I nod. “It must show.”

“Just a little.” He looks over and winks. “I’m a senior.”

A senior is driving me home. Ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

“Did you join a club or something?”

I nod, and suddenly remember I am probably in urgent need of a shower or a can of deodorant or a wet wipe, and I try to shrivel up against the passenger door and hope he doesn’t get close enough to sniff me. “Yeah. The dance team.”

“Fusion? That’s awesome! The dance team performs at all the Bengals games. I’ll probably see you at practice. Our coach had a meeting today, otherwise we’d have been on the field.” He slows down for a traffic light.

Can he hear my heart pounding?

“How do you like Bellford High?”

“I like the girls on the dance team. And I like my science teacher.”

“Who did you get?”

“Mr. Wilder.”

“Oh, yeah, he’s great. I had him. He likes to give pop quizzes every week, so be ready.”

“Oh. Yeah. I will.”

“Nothing terrible. Just read ahead and you’ll be fine.”

Read ahead. I can do totally do that.

Vic puts on his turn signal and waits for a left turn. “So your brother’s kind of a jerk to you, huh?”

My heart sinks, and I slide a little lower in my seat.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll say something to him tomorrow.”

Suddenly, I’m grinning like a maniac. There’s probably a circle of cartoon birds and butterflies flying around the heart that just floated out of my body. Vic laughs and shakes his head as he pulls to the curb.

“We’re here. It was nice to meet you, Ashley Lawrence.” Vic hands me my bag as I pretty much fall out of the car on legs I can no longer feel. “See you tomorrow.”

“Yeah. Tomorrow.”

He honks and waves as he pulls away. I’m halfway in love.

“Ashley? Who was that?” Dad asks. He just stepped out of one of the garage bay doors.

“Hmm?”

“Ashley!”

I turn and see Mom in the entrance to Dad’s garage. “Mom! Can we get my hair cut? Please? I’m gonna try out for the dance team, and my hair is too long, and it’s in the way, and I met a senior named Vic, and I need to buy these if I make the team.” I finally pause for air, and Mom takes the Fusion gear order form I have clutched in my hand.

“A haircut. And a uniform. Well, okay. But a senior? No. I don’t know about that.”

“I’m with you on that,” Dad says, grabbing Mom in a hug and tickling her until she squeal

THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by RACHEL FORDHAM BOOK REVIEW

 

 

The Hope of Azure Springs

by Rachel Fordham

 

 

Seven years ago, orphaned and alone, Em finally arrived at a new home in Iowa after riding the orphan train. But secrets from her past haunt her, and her new life in the Western wilderness is a rough one. When her guardian is shot and killed, Em, now nineteen, finally has the chance to search for her long-lost sister, but she won’t be able to do it alone.

For Azure Springs Sheriff Caleb Reynolds, securing justice for the waifish and injured Em is just part of his job. He’s determined to solve every case put before him in order to impress his parents and make a name for himself. Caleb expects to succeed. What he doesn’t expect is the hold this strange young woman will have on his heart.

Debut author Rachel Fordham invites historical romance readers to the charming town of Azure Springs, Iowa, where the people care deeply for one another and, sometimes, even fall in love.

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Praise for The Hope of Azure Springs

“With unusual charm and warmth, Rachel Fordham opens the door to Azure Springs, a place as memorable as the people who inhabit it—namely the unique Em, a hero of a sheriff, and an assortment of heart-tugging, endearing townsfolk. A memorable story of faith, family, and happy endings!” ~Laura Frantz, author of The Lacemaker

“The Hope of Azure Springs is full of love and laughter, hope and happy endings. This delightful book about the resilience of the human spirit and the power of love will keep you turning pages until the very end. After you read Rachel Fordham’s satisfying story, you’ll want to give the world a hug.” ~Jennifer Beckstrand, author of A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill

“A tender story about loss, life, and the beauty that lies within each of us.” ~Stacy Henrie, USA Today bestselling author and RITA award finalist

“Authentic. Strong. Memorable. The Hope of Azure Springs and its refreshingly realistic heroine will remain in readers’ hearts long after they’ve reached the stirring conclusion. With eloquently drawn scenes that will tug at a reader’s heart and a beautifully redemptive love story, Rachel Fordham’s debut offers a tender look at the meaning of beauty and self-worth.” ~Joanna Politano, author of Lady Jayne Disappears

“As The Hope of Azure Springs unfolds, readers will find a well thought out and intricately put together love story about an uncommon heroine. Fans of Melissa Jagears and Jane Kirkpatrick will enjoy Rachel Fordham’s books now and for years to come.” ~Dawn Crandall, author of the award-winning series The Everstone Chronicles

 

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own. Many thanks to I Am A Reader for arranging for the Advanced Reader Copy.

Once in a while I have the opportunity to read a book that I find to be an absolute treasure. I found that in THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS by Rachel Fordham. The fact that this is Mrs. Fordham’s debut novel makes this one even more special!

Mrs. Fordham takes one of my favorite genres, Christian Fiction, mixes in some wonderful historical fiction, a bit of mystery, and of course, gives the main characters a fairy-tale-like happily-ever-after!

The townsfolk of Azure Springs are a wonderful mixture of any very small town to be imagined, right down to the wonderful widow woman running the local boarding house! Mrs. Fordham knows how to give each of her characters life, and color, and emotion and they all came to life inside my head as I was reading! Each one of them jumped off the page and came to life for me as I read!

Although I was able to see early on the direction the book was going to end, it was a wonderful journey to take along with Caleb and Em. Mrs. Fordham wrote THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS with many life lessons for those looking to learn a thing or two along the way. She also filled it’s pages with warm Christian values and I enjoyed watching Em learn to accept the love and respect of those around her!

I am a true fan of Rachel Fordham and I highly recommend THE HOPE OF AZURE SPRINGS! I give it five steaming hot cups of Room With Books Coffee and I hope you’ll pick up your copy today!

©June 9, 2018

 

Rachel Fordham has long been fascinated by all things historical or in the words of her children “old stuff”. Often the historical trivia she discovers is woven into her children’s bedtime tales. Despite her love for good stories she didn’t attempt writing a novel until her husband challenged her to do so (and now she’s so glad he did). Since that time she’s often been found typing or researching while her youngest child naps or frantically writing plot twists while she waits in the school pick-up line. In addition to her passion for storytelling, she enjoys reading, being outdoors and seeing new places. Rachel lives with her husband and children on an island in Washington state.

 

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Blog Tour Schedule

July 9th
I Am A Reader – Spotlight
My Life. One Story at a Time. – Review
Cover Lover Book Review – Review
BookHounds – Spotlight
Susan Heim on Writing – Spotlight
Diana’s Book Reviews – Spotlight

July 10th
Locks, Hooks and Books – Review
Literary Reflections Book Blog – Review
Literary Time Out – Review
Julie Coulter Bellon – Review
T’s Stuff – Spotlight
Tianna Holley, Author – Spotlight

July 11th
Pause for Tales – Review
The Becca Files – Review
Why Not? Because I Said So! – Review
A Writer’s Life – Spotlight
Hearts & Scribbles – Spotlight
Katie’s Clean Book Collection – Spotlight
Min Reads and Reviews – Spotlight

July 12th
Simple Wyrdings – Review
Reviews by Room With Books – Review
Paulette’s Papers – Spotlight
Here We Go Again Ready – Spotlight
FLY HIGH! – Spotlight

July 13th
Mythical Books – Spotlight
Bound 2 Escape – Spotlight
Stacking My Book Shelves! – Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place – Spotlight
Bookish Reviews by Denise Blogs – Spotlight

 

Blog Tour Giveaway

$25 Amazon Gift Code or $25 in Paypal Cash

Ends 7/24/18

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or PayPal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

 

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THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON BOOK REVIEW

THE DANDELION

By Michelle Leighton

Some see an ending, others see a beginning

At thirty-five, Abigail Simmons has mastered only one thing—running. When tragedy strikes, she runs. This time her urge to flee brings Abi back to her hometown, where she hopes she can find the peace she’s always searched for. That hope is dashed when Abi’s ex, Sam Forrester, bumps his way back into her life.

Sam has flourished in ways Abi hasn’t. From the outside, he has it all—a successful medical practice, a beautiful daughter, and a charming wife.

Who is dying.

Sara Forrester is dying and her final wish is for Sam to find love again so she can meet the woman who will finish raising her daughter and grow old with her husband. Abi seems like the perfect fit, but what Sara doesn’t know is that Abi has a secret, a secret no one could guess.

And it’s a deal breaker.

Kindle ~ iBooks
Nook ~ Kobo

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WHAT READERS ARE SAYING

“A true must read”

“A breathtaking story”

“I just could NOT. STOP. READING.”

“The Dandelion is simply…BEAUTIFUL!!!”

“It was worth every single minute.”

“Read it. Just…read it.”

FROM MICHELLE LEIGHTON
WILL YOU TRUST ME?

I am so, so excited to tell you that THE DANDELION is live! I loved everything about this story, from the way it began as a dream to the way I cried a few times as I wrote it. This book has some of the most real and raw and wounded characters I’ve ever fallen in love with, but I think that’s why I love them so much. And I truly believe you will, too, but I want to implore you to TRUST ME. Trust me that, although there are obstacles and struggles that cut to the heart of every woman, this book is one of love and hope and friendship and selflessness of epic proportions. Trust me to bring you closure and happiness, the kind we all have to work for, but the kind that’s made all the more special because we have to work for it.

Give this book a try. Give this love a try. Give this HOPE a try:) I sincerely hope you adore the story as much as I do!

 

 

Many thanks to Michelle Leighton and Sullivan and Partners, LLC for the advance digital copy. Opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

To say that this book was extraordinary seems to trivialize the feelings that I had while reading THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON!

I picked THE DANDELION up one morning and I couldn’t put it down until I had come to the end. I carried my phone with me all day just in case I might have a minute to read a little bit more while I was running errands.

The story is very heartrending, and I had many moments of tears and a vast emotional investment in the entire story! I’m not a big believer in second chances, but Sara, Sam, and Abi proved me wrong!

Even knowing Abi had ulterior motives for returning to Molly’s Knob, life intervenes and changes her direction for the better!

Ms. Leighton’s writing is spectacular in THE DANDELION, possibly the best she has ever delivered!

Pick up your copy of THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON today and I’m certain you’ll find yourself falling in love with all the characters that make this story an award-winning novel!

Reviews by Room With Books gives THE DANDELION by MICHELLE LEIGHTON five steaming hot cups of Room With Books coffee!

©April 8, 2018

 

About M. Leighton

New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, M. Leighton, is a rarely ever comfortable speaking about herself in the third person, but here goes. Michelle is a former nurse who has always harbored a passion for the written word, a weakness for alpha males, and a profound love of all things romantic. Never in her wildest dreams did this Yankee-turned-Southerner imagine her life as it is today. She has the best job in the world, a husband who treats her like a princess, and a dog that’s so smart she may one day write a novel, too. You can often find Michelle hidden away in her cave, crafting a new story, or out in the sunshine enjoying some quiet time with her man. Movies, wine, and good food are frequently thrown into the mix, and exercise on days that start with Q. She loves laughter, chocolate, the color red, and you can find out more about her at www.mleightonbooks.com.

ABOUT MICHELLE LEIGHTON

With sales nearing the two million mark, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and internationally bestselling author M. Leighton is now turning her pen toward another side of relationships with her work as Michelle Leighton. From her upcoming emotionally charged story, The Dandelion, to her domestic noir entitled Strings, Michelle’s stories are sure to bring all the depth you’ve come to expect from M. Leighton with a new edge that will have you quickly turning page after page.
Find me online at https://www.facebook.com/MichelleLeightonAuthor/

THE PROMISE by Sally Jenkins BLOG TOUR @sallyjenkinsuk @rararesources

The Promise

by Sally Jenkins

 

A man has been stabbed. A woman is bloodstained. The nightmares from her teenage years have begun again for Olivia Field – just as she is preparing to marry.

Ex-convict, Tina is terminally ill. Before she dies, the care of her younger, psychologically unwell brother, Wayne must be ensured. So Tina calls in a promise made to her thirty years ago in a prison cell. A promise that was written down and placed with crucial evidence illustrating a miscarriage of justice in a murder case.

Tina believes Olivia is perfectly placed to provide the care Wayne needs, but to do so, Olivia must be forced to cancel her own wedding and wreck the lives of those close to her. Tina’s terrible blackmail demands put Olivia’s entire future and, ultimately, her freedom under threat.

The Promise is a fast-paced psychological thriller told from several third person viewpoints. The novel explores the lengths to which people are prepared go in order to protect those they love and the impossibility of ever fully escaping our past actions.

Purchase from Amazon UK

 

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary digital copy of The Promise by Sally Jenkins for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

A man has been stabbed. A woman is bloodstained. The nightmares from her teenage years have begun again for Olivia Field – just as she is preparing to marry.

Ex-convict, Tina is terminally ill. Before she dies, the care of her younger, psychologically unwell brother, Wayne must be ensured. So Tina calls in a promise made to her thirty years ago in a prison cell. A promise that was written down and placed with crucial evidence illustrating a miscarriage of justice in a murder case.

Tina believes Olivia is perfectly placed to provide the care Wayne needs, but to do so, Olivia must be forced to cancel her own wedding and wreck the lives of those close to her. Tina’s terrible blackmail demands put Olivia’s entire future and, ultimately, her freedom under threat.

The Promise by Sally Jenkins is a steady-paced, well written psychological thriller! Ms. Jenkins saturates The Promise with a myriad of characters and fills the pages with the slow building machinations of the present by filling us in on what happened 30 years ago.

The Promise held my attention with short chapters that kept me moving from page one through the end of the book. It was a quick read for me, but I enjoyed it thoroughly!

I give The Promise by Sally Jenkins four cups of steaming hot Room With Books coffee! I recommend you get your copy so you can join in the chatter! This book is bound to be a best-seller!

 

 

 

©February 9, 2018

 

Sally Jenkins lives in the West Midlands. She is a member of a Speakers’ Club, a volunteer library reading group coordinator and a church bell ringer. Sally’s first psychological thriller, Bedsit Three won the Ian Govan Award.

Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Website/blog

 

 

 

BOOK REVIEW – A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN: A Tale of Two Eras by Scott Skipper @SSkipperAuthor

BOOK REVIEW

A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN: A Tale of Two Eras

By Scott Skipper

**I rate books with cups of coffee in place of the regular stars**

I love reading a book that captures my attention from the very beginning and never lets me go! A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN by Scott Skipper is just that type of book!

Author Scott Skipper gives us a look at the lives of his characters at a date presumed to be present day by this reviewer, or is it some date in the future? He also flashes back to their lives in the 1970s.

The flashbacks into the characters’ lives allowed me to develop a feeling of intimacy with them straight away! I felt like I had spent more than a little bit of time with them during the 70s even though there is no way that could have happened. After all, I was just a child during the 70s!

The writing is very crisp and flows beautifully! The characters are incredibly interesting and also very mysterious, which kept me totally engaged in the book!

This is the first book I’ve read by Scott Skipper, but I will be rearranging my TBR piles so that I have several more of his novels very close to the top!

I can honestly give A LITTLE REBELLION NOW AND THEN: A Tale of Two Eras by Scott Skipper a steaming hot five cups of Room With Books coffee, and I definitely recommend you run out and get your copy today!

©September 23, 2017

 

ABOUT THE BOOK

When a leftwing activist from the Nixon era morphs into a conservative writer of political incorrectness, can she ever escape the evil eye of the establishment? Political winds may shift but some things never change. If you pull on the dragon’s tail, you’d best be ready to take some heat. Kate is no stranger to a jail cell, but she thought she got past that four decades ago. Then again, in a world run amuck with knife brandishing jihadists spilling from their sharia zones, maybe a jail cell is the safest place to be.

Is it true that the more things change, the more they stay the same? For Kate it seems that way, but perhaps there is a new and more ominous threat, jihad. Her computer is hacked, there are mysterious voices on her phone, her condo is bugged, why would someone spy on a sweet old lady from Ohio who writes snarky novels about the government? Kate fought to get the bureaucratic monkey off her back at both ends of her life. She just can’t get on the good side of the establishment. In fact, she has a gift for drawing harassment upon herself. Her feud with the Feds spanned four decades from the sixties to the days of TSA, NSA and Homeland Security. Her persecution soars to precipitous heights. What is a grandmother to do when somebody is after her head? Well, WTF…

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Scott Skipper is a California fiction writer with a broad range of interests, including history, genealogy, travel, science and current events. His wry outlook on life infects his novels with biting sarcasm. Political correctness is taboo. His work includes historical fiction, alternative history, novelized biography, science fiction and political satire. He is a voracious reader and habitual and highly opinionated reviewer.

 

 

 

Find out more about Scott Skipper at:
ScottSkipper.com
@SSkipperAuthor
Scott@ca.rr.com
Facebook/Scott Skipper
ScottSkipper.blogspot.com

 

My book review was featured on RRBC RAVE WAVES Blog Talk Radio, “RATERS NOT HATERS“, on Saturday, September 23, 2017.