Tag Archives: romance

With Good Intentions by Jo Huddleston

A sweet romance spiced with deception, set in 1959.
With Good IntentionsJean Stewart and her mama stand firm to protect their family business from a big-city developer’s takeover. Oscar Wainworth sends his son William to convince the ladies to sell their property. William has an instant attraction to Jean, believes he shouldn’t be the one to discuss the sale with the Stewarts, and gives them a fake name. If they know he’s a Wainworth, he’s likely to find himself out on the sidewalk.

One lie leads to another until William may have dug a hole too deep to escape. By stealth he learns that Jean can’t associate with anyone who is dishonest. To win Jean’s love, William must convince her that his lies flowed from good intentions.

huddlestonJo Huddleston is a multi-published author of books, articles, and short stories. Novels in her West Virginia Mountains series, her Caney Creek series, and her standalone novel, Tidewater Summer, are sweet Southern historical romances. Jo is a member of ACFW and the Literary Hall of Fame at Lincoln Memorial University (TN). Learn more at www.johuddleston.com where you can read first chapters of her novels and novellas and also sign up for her mailing list.

 

 

 

Book’s Purchase Link:

http://amzn.to/2lTR7LF

 

Links to Huddleston Online:

Website and blog (Read novel first chapters here): http://www.johuddleston.com

Sign up for Jo’s mailing list: http://bit.ly/1ZFaZwG

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2cfSroU

Facebook author page: http://bit.ly/2aqFEeT

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

October 1959—Birmingham, Alabama

William Wainworth shifted in his chair, stretched his long legs beneath the massive conference table, and braced for the impending reprimand from the CEO. This regular Monday morning meeting of Wainworth Development sales staff had gone on longer than he’d expected.

He would loosen his necktie but doing so would violate the expectations Wainworth’s CEO held for his male employees: wear a coat and tie when representing Wainworth Development. His daddy being the CEO of Wainworth Development, William had that rule ingrained in him from an early age.

Among other stellar traits, his daddy dressed immaculately, and he expected his workforce to follow his example. His appearance had favorably impressed many clients who sat with him in his Birmingham office. Every weekday, he never ventured outside his home without the requisite coat and necktie. William had never seen him wear wrinkled pants or curled-up shirt collars.

Now, Oscar Wainworth stood tall, slender, and good-looking between the head of the table and an easel, his index finger tapping on a sketch positioned there. William moved his attention from his daddy to the sketch, a street-level drawing of storefronts along a sidewalk in Conroy, Alabama.

Wainworth Development sought to purchase that entire block of businesses, demolish the buildings, and replace them with an apartment complex having a bookstore on the first floor. Sitting across the street from a growing college, the location proved ideal for Wainworth’s purpose.

The building plans had received the city’s approval. Wainworth representatives had successfully gained signatures on real estate contracts to acquire all the properties except one. The smallest business on the block refused to sell, despite repeated overtures from Wainworth Development.

Oscar Wainworth faced the dozen or so men seated around the table in chairs upholstered in rich, brown leather. He put his palms on the gleaming tabletop and leaned forward. “Gentlemen, this one small store is the monkey wrench in this whole deal. We’ve bought up all the properties on the block, yet here’s this little hole-in-the-wall ice cream shop smack-dab in the middle that you’ve not convinced to sell. Why is that? Why this one store?”

Mumbled reasons and comments circulated around the massive table. William and Oscar had heard them all before. Oscar Wainworth stood straight, his six-foot-four height menacing, and met the eyes of each salesman. “Yes, the owners are females, and you’ve all probably tried to be gentlemanly in your contacts with them. That’s commendable and appropriate.

“But, men, you need to work with these ladies just as you would any other client. Wainworth Development is a business, and you must conduct yourselves accordingly—doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a man or a woman. However, it’s time to get tough with these women. Understood?”

The men bobbed their heads in sync as if they followed the directions of an orchestra conductor, and his daddy continued. “Do I have to go down there and show you how it’s done? Must I close this deal myself? I assure you I will not be happy if I do.”

His gaze settled on his son. “William, I want you to go down to Conroy and convince the owners to sell. This has become a special case, and if you’ve learned anything from me in your thirty-two years, you’ll be successful. You drive on down there and stay as long as it takes to get the job done.”

“Yes, sir, I will.”

“Get going. Now.” He waved a hand toward the closed door to spur William into motion. “Ask Gloria for the files on this property and be on your way. Check back with me when you get there.”

William pushed his chair away from the conference table and rose. “Yes, sir.” His daddy was a workaholic, especially since his wife, William’s mama, had died five years ago. Oscar Wainworth put in a sixty-hour work week, never leaving a job undone. He expected similar dedication in his staff.

Finally outside the conference room and waiting at Gloria’s desk for her to collect the files, William exhaled. He didn’t mind that his daddy booted him out of the meeting—anything beat sitting in a stuffy roomful of cigar smoke.

Gloria returned and handed him several file folders. “Here are the files you need. Good luck. I hope your trip goes better than those of the other men Mr. Wainworth has sent down there.”

“Thanks. Where did the other guys stay? You got the name of a hotel?”

“Yes, they stayed at the Conroy Hotel. I’ll telephone to reserve you a room. How long will you be staying?”

“Maybe for the remainder of the week.”

~

Same Day—Conroy, Alabama

William carried his luggage up to a second-floor hotel room, then returned downstairs to grab a late lunch in the hotel’s dining room. When he crossed the lobby, the antiquated wooden floors groaned beneath his every step. Inside the dining room, booths lined one wall and tables covered with white linen tablecloths dotted the floor space.

He asked the hostess for a booth, and she seated him at a high-back wooden booth near the entrance. After a light lunch of steaming vegetable soup and a ham sandwich, he found a pay phone in the lobby and stepped into the booth to call Birmingham.

“Good afternoon. Wainworth Development.”

“Gloria, ring my daddy’s office, please.”

Shortly, he heard his daddy’s voice. “That you, William? How does the lay of the land look down there?”

“Just letting you know I’m here. Haven’t seen the owners yet, but plan to go there now.”

“Fine, fine. How about you call me every morning about ten o’clock to bring me up-to-date with what you’re doing? We’ve got to get this deal finalized.”

“Yes, sir, I’ll do that.”

William stepped out of the telephone booth to walk outside the red brick hotel. He stood on the sidewalk, hands shoved into his pants pockets. Without haste, he scanned what he could see of the town—to his left, a bank stood on the corner, and to his right, a drugstore anchored that corner, its front facing away from him.

Not many folks moving around, and from the casual dress of those passing by him, then had to be college students. He glanced at his polished shoes and creased dress pants—shades of Oscar Wainworth. He’d stand out like a palm tree at the North Pole among these young people. Might as well put a sign on his back saying, Here I am from the big city. I want to buy your property.

He returned to his hotel room, tugging off his necktie as he opened his luggage. Later, again on the sidewalk, dressed in blue jeans with his long-sleeved dress shirt now open at the neck, his black leather bomber jacket, and loafers, William breathed in the fresh air. A satisfying change from the pollution that filled the air over Birmingham.

Turning to his right, he sauntered west until he reached the corner and stopped. He faced the street in front of the drugstore and read the signpost: College Street. Some committee must have worked many hours to come up with that original name—the street sliced through downtown Conroy, Alabama, between the college and the town. The next block to his left held the businesses Wainworth Development had bought. Except for the ice cream shop. Might as well head on down there.

He crossed the street when the traffic light changed. Again on the sidewalk, he passed the stores that would soon disappear once Wainworth had acquired all the properties.

Before he reached his destination, the clock tower atop a lofty red brick building across College Street tolled the hour. Three o’clock. A spattering of foot traffic moved across the manicured lawns of nearby campus buildings. Probably class-changing time.

A short distance farther, William stood outside the building whose purchase depended on him. The sign above the door read: Stewart’s Ice Cream Shop.

Inside, William verified that his daddy had been correct when he referred to the business as a hole-in-the-wall place. With about only 400 square feet, the twelve-foot wide, deep room measured about thirty-five feet from the entrance to a closed swinging door in the back. Along the right wall, chairs occupied the length of the room, stopping at a pay phone attached to the wall and a display case that faced the entrance.

The tile floor shone, and on his left stood three ice cream cases, each about eight feet long. Their fronts were white and spotless, and no fingerprints smudged the glass through which sat numerous opened tubs of ice cream. The sweet, pleasant scent of ice cream filled the room and drew William to follow the customers already in the shop.

He fell in line with a few college students awaiting their turn to be served. The kids weren’t impatient, but rather they calmly shuffled toward the cash register. He’d skipped dessert in anticipation of his visit to the ice cream shop, and the various flavors listed on the wall tempted him.

An attractive woman probably in her late forties with dark hair and a pleasant face worked efficiently behind the counter. Another female stood behind the tall display case near the rear of the room. He could only see the back of her head and didn’t have a clue to what she did. Soon William stood first in the line.

“May I help you?” the woman asked.

“Yes, ma’am. I’d like a cone—two scoops, please.”

“What flavor?”

“Vanilla and chocolate. Would you please put the vanilla on the cone first and then the chocolate?”

The woman dipped his ice cream onto a cone while William read the flavors painted on a wooden board hanging above a counter behind her. “You certainly offer a lot of flavors here.”

“And yet you choose our trusty standbys—vanilla and chocolate.”

“Yes, ma’am. Always been my favorites.”

William paid for his treat and took a seat in the last chair against the wall. From there he had an unlimited view of the business except for the area behind the display case to his right. His attention fell to the contents of the case. Behind the glass sat numerous delicious-looking desserts—artfully decorated cakes and pies waiting to be personalized with someone’s name, a tray of individually-wrapped ice cream sandwiches, and two log rolls made of chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream.

Everyone had been served, and either left with their ice cream or taken seats along the wall to eat their treats. The woman who had served him sauntered toward where William sat. She stopped at the empty counter space across from him, reached underneath it, and brought out a large piece of flat cardboard decorated with balloons of red, blue, green, and yellow and the name of the ice cream shop.

While the woman worked with the cardboard, she spoke to the girl behind the display case near him. “Did any Wainworth people contact you before I came to work?”

William angled his body toward the entrance, pretending lack of interest in what the woman had said. He watched the traffic outside the front window but kept his attention on the conversation before him.

The girl behind the display case joined the woman assembling the cardboard into a cake box. “No, ma’am. No one has come by or called, which is unusual for a Monday. For weeks now they’ve been persistent, showing up here almost every day.” The girl had on a white basic bib apron, as the older woman did, over her skirt and blouse and wore blue Keds on her feet.

“Maybe you’ve finally convinced them you mean it when you say we don’t want to sell.”

“Mama, I hope so, but I doubt that.” The two could be sisters, as attractive as they were, rather than mother and daughter. Probably the owners. The girl reached beneath the counter and pulled out another sheet of cardboard to give the older woman. “I’ve talked with some of the other business owners, and it appears we’re the only holdouts on the block.

“If that’s the case, rather than give up, Wainworth Development will increase their pressure on us to sell. I cringe every time someone dressed in a suit and necktie come through the door. All the Wainworth people think they can make us sell—they’re so arrogant and expect us to roll over and play dead when they wave money in front of us.”

Good thing William had changed clothes before visiting their shop.

“Their money would be nice, Jean. We could pay off the mortgage here and have some left over. I could get used to not working outside the home again.”

“Mama, please don’t go soft on this. We’re not going to sell! Daddy started this business, and we’ll do everything we can to keep it going.”

Jean’s mama put the assembled boxes underneath the counter and started toward the cash register to help new customers. The girl returned to whatever kept her busy behind the dessert case.

William left his chair and stepped nearer the display case, continuing to enjoy his ice cream cone. Bending at the waist and peering inside at the cakes, William didn’t notice the girl behind the case had approached him. A female voice drew his attention. “May I help you with something from the dessert case?”

He straightened and turned toward the voice. When their eyes met, hers were the color of the deepest part of the Gulf of Mexico waters and turned him into a bumbling adolescent. “Ah, well, no, thank you. Just, uh, looking. Did you make all these pretty cakes?”

She smiled, apparently enjoying his discomfort. “Yes, I did. See something you like in there?”

Not in the dessert case, he didn’t. But he wouldn’t mind getting to know the dark-haired woman standing next to him. “No, thanks. Guess I’ll just finish this cone I’ve started.”

“I recognize our regulars, the college kids, but I don’t believe you’ve been in here before. You new in town?”

“Yeah, you could say that. I’m, er, I’m doing some work on the college campus.”

“Oh? What’s that?”

“Uh, helping one of the professors with some research.”

“Then welcome to our town. I’m Jean Stewart.”

“Thanks. I’m Will….” Beyond her shoulder, he saw the wooden board where they listed their ice cream flavors. “…Will Woods.”

 

 

 

#NewRelease A Second Chance by Alexis A Goring

book-coverNewly single food critic and newspaper reporter Traci Hightower is done with dating. After the man of her dreams left her at the altar on their wedding day and ran off with the woman she thought was her best friend, Traci resolves to focus on work and resigns herself to being a bachelorette for life.

Marc Roberts is a political reporter who is known as Mr. Nice Guy, the one who always finishes last. However, Marc’s compassion and kindness is of invaluable help to his newly widowed sister Gina Braxton who is trying to raise her two kids in the wake of her firefighter husband’s death.

Traci and Marc may be the perfect match, but they don’t know it yet. With God’s guidance and the help of Gina’s matchmaking skills honed by her career as a bestselling romance novelist, there is hope for a happily ever after for these two broken hearts.

Chapter 1

Knee-deep in debt from wedding expenses, Traci Hightower sighed as she filed through the credit card statements. She should be married now, back from her honeymoon in Bali, and settled into her new home with her husband.

Happy.

Not single and broke.

She slapped an envelope against the desk. Five months of struggling to survive and pay off the debt. Her meager, entry-level journalist salary didn’t stretch far enough. She’d been paying her dues for seven years. She rubbed her temples. The numbers on the credit card statement blurred in front of her eyes.

The doorbell rang. A little thrill rushed through her. She stood from her cross-legged position on the floor and hopped over the mess of papers and laundry that decorated her living room. “Who is it?”

“The woman who gave you birth.”

For the first time today, Traci smiled. She opened the door and reached for a hug from the one person who never left her hanging. “Hi, Mom.”

Her mom returned her daughter’s embrace, then dragged her suitcase inside. She glanced around. “Oh, my.”

Traci locked her door, then turned and shrugged. “I’m so glad you’re here. I’ve been looking forward to this. Can’t you stay for more than two days though?”

Mom stopped picking up the bills from the floor and faced her daughter. “No, honey. I’m sorry, but I need to return to home by Wednesday morning. Dad and I have an important meeting later that day.”

Traci’s heart dipped. Mom paused and placed the bills and the stack of paper she’d picked off the floor on Traci’s kitchen counter. “Oh, sweetie.” She cocooned her daughter in another embrace.

Traci snuggled close. She inhaled the familiar scent of her mother’s favorite perfume. It smelt like coconut and lime.

“You always were a cuddler.” Mom stroked her hair. “Still up to your eyeballs in debt?”

Traci nodded.

“Why don’t you let me and your father help?”

Traci took a step back and made eye contact with her mom. “We’ve been through this. I got myself into this mess. I’ll get myself out.”

Mom smiled. “Your father and I were talking. We hate to see you struggling.”

“You don’t exactly live in a palace either. I know you want to retire soon, and I won’t have you dipping into that money.”

Mom reached into her purse. “Living in the nation’s capital area is expensive.” She rummaged through her handbag’s contents. “Have you considered moving home?”

“I can’t do that. I don’t ever want to live anywhere else. My life and career are here.”

“How’s that going for you?”

Traci picked at her fingernails. “It could be better.” Better boss, better pay, better office space. The works.

Mom nodded as she retrieved one sealed envelope from her purse. She looked toward Traci’s kitchen. “Can we make some tea? I’d like to talk with you.”

“Sure. Come with me.” Traci reached for the box of peppermint tea bags and got a bottle of honey from her refrigerator. As she put the kettle on to boil, her mom settled into a wobbly kitchen chair. She smoothed the creased edges of the envelope.

Traci poured the hot water over the tea bags in each mug and the scent of peppermint filled the air. “Everything okay?”

“Just thinking, honey.”

“About what?”

“Have a seat.”

“Sure, just let me allow the tea to steep.” After she placed a plate over each mug and set it aside, settled into the chair across from her mom. “What’s up?”

“I never did like Greg.”

Traci traced a ring stain on the table. “Do we have to talk about my ex-fiancé?”

“Yes, because your grandfather always trusted my judgment.”

“So, Grandpa didn’t like Greg either?”

“I inherited my instincts of discernment from him. Speaking of discernment, here.” She pushed the envelope within Traci’s reach.

She frowned as she picked it up and tried to flatten its wrinkles. “What’s this?”

“Open it. Read it, and I’ll bring our tea to the table.”

Traci turned over the letter-sized, manila-hued paper that was addressed to her. She drew out the paper.

 

Dear Traci,

If you’re reading this, it means I’ve passed away, and your mother kept her promise to give this to you at the right time. As you know, I like to cut to the chase first and explain later. So here it is, plain and simple: I left an inheritance for you. It’s enough for you to make a solid and secure living, for it will cover more than what you need for the rest of your life.

Traci dropped the letter, her hands shaking. This could be the answer to her financial struggles and give her what she always dreamed of. Her own bookstore. The thought stole her breath for a moment. She envisioned the words on the sign out front. Hallee’s House. Just like she promised her cousin Hallee before she passed away from cancer. Tears welled in Traci’s eyes.

Forcing herself to take a deep breath and will the emotional waterworks away, she picked the paper off the floor and continued reading.

But you cannot receive the money until after you are married, and before you are, your mother must approve of the man you want to wed. Why? Because your mother inherited my sense of judgment and discernment between right and wrong when it comes to people. She can spot someone who’s going to break your heart from a mile away. I trust that you will listen to your mother now that I’m gone and can no longer advise you. So there you have it, dear. You have an inheritance. Sounds like a movie, right? Only it’s not. It’s better, because it’s now part of the story of your life.

After you’re married, you and your husband need to visit my lawyer, Chadwick Morrison. Provide him with the original copy of your marriage certificate, and he will give you your inheritance.

Your grandmother and I loved you. We wanted nothing more than for you to find the type of love that we had during our lifetime. Now, I trust that you will allow yourself to be guided by God, your mother’s love, and your father’s protection.

With love, your grandfather,

Henry Allen Fort

P.S. Take this seriously. Don’t marry the wrong man just to get the money. Let love happen. There’s no deadline. My will said you had to be married first. It didn’t say when.

“Let love happen.” Traci snorted as she folded the letter and placed it into the envelope. “The last time I let love happen, I was left at the altar with nothing more than a pile of bills.”

Mom placed her mug on the table. “It’s time for you to move on and trust God.”

“I trusted God to bring me a husband. He brought me Greg. Remember? The man who left me on my wedding day and ran off with my best friend?”

“Honey, I know it hurts, but that was months ago. You shouldn’t allow Greg’s actions and wayward heart to tarnish your future. Be glad he showed you his true colors before tying the knot. Honestly, look at this as a blessing. God protected you from a lifetime of heartache.”

Traci focused on her I Love Maryland mug.

Mom touched her hand. “Your grandfather just wanted to see you happy in a committed romantic relationship like he and your grandma had. Like your father and I have.”

Traci sipped her tea.

“Keep the letter.” Mrs. Hightower pushed her chair back. “Do you want me to stay here or at a hotel?”

“Here, Mom, of course. You can stay in my room. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“Alright then. I’m going to put my luggage in your room. After that, we’ll clean your apartment.”

Traci picked up the mugs while her mind ran a marathon. Forgive her ex-fiancé and move on? Trust God?

Impossible.

alexis-a-goringAlexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

 

 

#Sale and #NewRelease with Angela Ruth Strong

Before we get to our featured author, I wanted to let you know that a collection I am a part of is currently on sale for only 99¢. This book is usually priced at $3.49 and has never gone this low before. I will admit, this is not my favorite cover, but the stories are absolutley worth checking out, so please do not let the cover turn you away. 🙂  http://amzn.to/2bL5jSx

In Love and War

Now for our featured author this week. Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and currently lives in Idaho where she started IDAhope Writers. She’s won both the Cascade Award and Idaho Top Author. She’s excited to release her first Christmas romance, Finding Love in Big Sky this September, and she has a romantic suspense novel, Presumed Dead, coming out with Love Inspired Suspense in February ’17.

Angela

 

Bright Star Ranch led him to her–but will he stay?

Josh Lake is forced to head home for the holidays after he’s suspended from his job in the city, but running into Paisley Sheridan could be exactly what he needed. Not only does she board him at her ranch in exchange for his advertising expertise, but spending the Christmas season with her in Big Sky, Montana, brings more joy than he’s felt in a long while. Is he willing to give up the lavish lifestyle he’s worked for in exchange for the gift of love?

The last thing Paisley wants for Christmas is to spend time with Josh Lake—the guy who broke her heart in high school—but until her bank loan goes through, she has to take all the free help she can get. Unfortunately, Josh seems to want back in her life again, and the town’s quirky coffee shop owners don’t help by hanging mistletoe at every opportunity. Will Paisley succeed in driving him away, or will she find the healing needed to have hope for a future together?

FindingLoveinBigSkyMontanaFinal

 

Author Links:

http://www.angelaruthstrong.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaRStrong

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1557213161269220/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4746114.Angela_Ruth_Strong

 

Link

KJ_063 vs 2Even though my personal blog is not an official stop on the blog hop that my publisher is doing, I wanted to make sure you all have the opportunity to get in on the fun. Keep reading to find out later how to enter for a chance to win a Kindle Fire.

Island Hope is the final book in my Wildflower B&B Romance series. I already miss writing this series and visiting the island in my mind on a daily basis. The characters have become real in my mind. LOL does that make me crazy?

I’m open to questions if anyone has one for me.

Island Hope coverHere is the back cover blurb for Island Hope.

Metal sculptor Hope Michaels gave up on art when her creativity was zapped by another. Burying herself in her electrical contracting business, Hope takes a job on Wildflower Island. She never imagines that a job at the Wildflower Resort will turn everything in her life upside down. But that’s exactly what happens when her best friend and employer, Piper, plays matchmaker.

A lonely widower throws all his energy into raising his teenage daughter, but when he is promoted to manager of the Wildflower Resort, things at home don’t go as smoothly as planned. Worried about his relationship with his daughter, he seeks advice from a feisty-but-sweet newcomer. Will she help smooth his path or will things only get more complicated?

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE

Derrick Trainor sat in Piper Grayson’s office at the Wildflower Resort Lodge. The view from the window wasn’t great considering that Piper owned the place, but who could complain about sunshine and blue sky, even if she could only see the parking lot? His attention shifted to his boss who sat behind her sleek, glass topped desk, her face twisted with worry. Unease settled on his shoulders.

“I appreciate all you’ve done at the resort, Derrick, but I need to make some changes.”

His stomach churned. Was he about to get fired? “I’ve enjoyed working here. What’s changing?”

“As you know, I’m six months pregnant, but what you don’t know is that I’ve been put on bed rest. Effective immediately you will be the acting manager of Wildflower Resort and Spa. I know we talked about you taking over while I’m on maternity leave, and that you were concerned about the long hours during that time. I hope you can make this work because I’d hate to bring in someone new.”

His pulse thrummed in his ears. “No, it’s fine. Are you and the baby okay?” He’d begun to make changes at home to accommodate the longer hours he would be working in a few months, but he wasn’t there yet. How would his fifteen-year-old daughter, Alyssa, handle him working sixty-hour weeks?

“My baby and I are okay, but my blood pressure is too high—has been for a while now.”

No wonder Piper’s health was at risk. She had too much on her plate. Between dealing with the fire and water damage that ruined twenty rooms at the north end of the building, and the construction of the cabins for phase two of the resort, anyone would have high blood pressure.

She continued. “I know you will do an exemplary job in my absence.”

He nodded. Talk about a switch. A minute ago he’d thought he was about to be fired.

“Knock. Knock.”

He turned toward the door and spotted a raven-haired woman with pale skin and classical facial features. She was stunning even in a hoodie, ripped jeans, and work boots, which he didn’t find so attractive. She’d turn heads if she made an effort. Maybe she worked in the gardens with Chase, Piper’s husband.

“Hope.” Piper smiled and stood, though a little slower than usual. “I’d like you to meet Derrick Trainor. He’ll be acting as manager until I return. You will need to run your schedule by him before you start any work, and he’ll check over all work done each day.”

Hope frowned. “Okay.”
Derrick shook his head. “I’m sorry, but I’m not following.”
“Close the door and have a seat, Hope.”
The woman sat beside him. “Hope Michaels.” She offered her hand.

Deep purple nail polish covered her neatly trimmed nails.

“It’s nice to meet you.” He shook her hand then turned to Piper. That unsettled feeling resurfaced.

“Hope is the owner of the electrical company I hired to re-wire the section of the building that caught fire last month. Her company will also be doing all the electrical work on the cabins.”

Hope removed her hoodie revealing arms with several tattoos. He didn’t care for body art, but to each his own, or in this case, her own.

“Derrick, because of your background in electrical work, I thought it would be fitting for you to oversee this aspect of the project.” Her attention shifted to Hope. “Having a second set of eyes is no reflection on your quality of work, Hope. But after the fire I’d feel more comfortable if Derrick double- checked everything. Chase will be dealing with the rest of the subcontractors and coordinating the timelines.”

Hope’s face reddened. Clearly she wasn’t happy with Piper’s arrangement. He was an electrician by trade but hadn’t enjoyed it. After doing odd jobs he fell into his position here as assistant manager. He looked from his boss to Hope. The tension in the room was so thick it’d take a chainsaw to cut through.

“Thanks for stopping in, Hope.”

The woman stood, but to her credit she didn’t argue with Piper, though he suspected she had a few choice words for his boss. “Take care of yourself, Piper.” She grabbed her hoodie and strode from the room leaving the door open behind her.

He turned to Piper. “That was awkward.”

She wore a mischievous grin. “You’ve heard the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover?”

He nodded.

“It applies to Hope. She’s a friend, and in spite of what I said, I don’t expect there to be any issues.”

“Then why am I inspecting her work? You realize an actual inspector will do that?”

She gave him a look that clearly said he was trying her patience. Time to keep his thoughts to himself. But what exactly was Piper hinting at when she said not to judge a book—or Hope—by her cover? Sure she looked a little rough around the edges, but if his boss had confidence in her abilities, so did he.

Island Hope is available for pre-order at the discounted price of only $2.99. All the books in the series are available in print or in Kindle format. This series is part of the Kindle Unlimited program, so you can read it for free if you are a subscriber.

Link to Kimberly’s books on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Ofy168

 

Books & Beverages 2016 (1)Now for the blog tour information. The Blog Tour runs FEBRUARY 15 – MARCH 1. Please share the Books & Beverages Blog Tour with your friends using hashtags #BevBooks16 and #FreeKindle.

To be entered for a chance to win follow the links below to the instructions on my publishers website. Please excuse the extra stuff. I didn’t know how to post the link without that stuff showing.

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1ffcd6d01/

I will be visiting Autumn Macaruthur’s blog Feb. 22. Here’s the link if you’d like to hop over and say hello. http://faithhopeandheartwarming.com/blog/”>

And then I will be on Diana Montgomery’s blog Feb. 25

http://dianasbookit.blogspot.com/”>

 

Merry Kisses with Author Valerie Comer

MK-200x300Can Sonya and Heath embrace each other — opinions, traditions, and all — in time to share merry kisses for Christmas?

Fired from her retail position for saying Merry Christmas to a customer, Sonya Simmons chafes at the over-commercialization of the season and the difficulties of finding a new job. If only she’d actually said Merry Christmas instead of Merry Kisses to the tall, good-looking man buying enough toys for at least a dozen children. How embarrassing!

 

It was fun to fluster the pretty toy store clerk, but Heath Collins, the mall’s volunteer Santa Claus, hadn’t meant to get her fired. When his elf assistant comes down with a bad cold, Heath offers Sonya a few days’ work, only to discover she believes Santa is nothing but a liar and a fraud instead of an opportunity to make a difference in children’s lives.

EXCERPT

“Maybe.” She slid back into the chair. “Do you really go to the same church as I do? But that doesn’t make sense. You play Santa.”

It was his turn to be confused. “What’s that got to do with anything?”

Sonya picked a bit of glaze off the top of her doughnut with a pink fingernail and popped it in her mouth. She eyed him and heaved a sigh. “I don’t think it’s right to lie to little kids. They have enough trouble keeping fantasy and reality separate.”

His fingers began twirling his coffee cup again. “I see. So you think my job is right up there with the Easter bunny and the tooth fairy.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Isn’t it?”

“I don’t see it that way.”

“Of course you don’t. Just another day at the office, right?”

Heath couldn’t help his sardonic laugh. “Right. I work ten hours a week for one month a year as Santa, plus a party here and there. You can’t seriously think I’m in this for the money.”

Uncertainty crossed her face. “Okay. But why?”

“Why be Santa?”

“Why pretend to be.”

Heath shook his head. Of course she’d distinguish. “I like making little kids happy. I like their hugs and their shy smiles. I like being a bright spot in their day.”

“But it’s a lie.” She picked another fleck of maple off her doughnut.

“Sonya, I am real. I’m the guy who brightens their day.”

“Only because you’re in that red suit.” She eyed him. “Must take a lot of padding.”

Valerie-Comer-300x300Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

 

Merry Kisses http://www.amazon.com/dp/B017GGWFLC

Author Spotlight with Gail Gaymer Martin and A Husband for Christmas

I’m thrilled to be featuring Gail Gaymer Martin on my blog. I’ve been a fan of Gail’s since before I was a writer. I love her stories!

Gail - from wedding balconyMulti-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of Christian contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 58 contracted novels and four million books in sold. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. Her books have received numerous awards, including: ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times Reviewer Choice, Booksellers Best, National Readers Choice, Holt Medallion, Award of Excellence. Gail is a cofounder and member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers, and Christian Authors Network. She is a keynote speaker at churches, civic and business organizations and presents workshops at conferences across the country. Gail is a lifetime resident of Michigan.
Website: www.gailgaymermartin.com.

A Husband For Christmas - HDSpending her holidays in picturesque Lilac Circle, Michigan, is the perfect place for Nina Jerome to start anew. She’s determined to put her painful divorce in the past and focus on the future. She hadn’t planned on being distracted by her sweet neighbor, Doug Billings. The successful businessman and temporary dad is clueless when it comes to taking care of his little niece. Getting help from Nina is the perfect setup—but something about the pretty new nanny makes him think about the unthinkable: having a wife and a family of his own. Can he convince Nina that she’s worthy of a second chance at love—just in time for Christmas?

Wild Mint Tea: A Fresh Farm Romance 2

Wild Mint Tea 200x300

Welcome, Valerie! Please tell us about your novel Wild Mint Tea: A Fresh Farm Romance 2.

She’s rooted deep. He flies free.

Local-foods chef Claire Halford envisions turning Green Acres Farm into an event destination. Weddings prove trickier than she imagined when the first one comes with a ruggedly handsome brother-of-the-bride, who has everything but a fixed address. Oh, and faith in God.

Noel Kenzie loves the freedom his reforestation company affords him. Why worry about deep stuff like God and commitment when he’s in his prime? Except there’s a woman who might make it worth giving up his wings…and digging in some roots. If he dares.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

This story continues the saga of three young women who buy a farm together with the goal of proving they can live a sustainable life. Each of the three women has a unique background and personality with a romantic tale tailored to match, and you don’t have to have read the first to enjoy or understand the second.

Because I am a great believer in the benefits of local food, one of my characters needed to be a chef who’s frustrated with the difficulties of not only cooking mainly seasonal, local food but with educating those around her to understand why she cares.

Noel, the hero, loves food and is a pretty good cook in his own right, but he has a tree-planting business to run. He needs someone to feed his crew good quality fuel to see them through their challenging work days. It’s not that he disagrees with Claire’s ideals. He just doesn’t see them as practical.

Please describe the setting where you write? Also, do you need silence or noise in the background?

My little office is on the second story of our farmhouse with a west-facing window that looks out over my vegetable garden, our pastures, our neighbors’ farms, and on across our valley to the mountains beyond.

More important than expansive desk space is a large inspiration board with all kinds of items pinned to it relating to the current story I’m working on. On another wall, I keep a large whiteboard where I jot notes and do impromptu brainstorming as required. I can’t work without these boards nearby.

I’ve tried writing with music, but I find it distracting. Sometimes I’ll put on some nature sounds, but most typically, I prefer silence. Thankfully, that’s easy to come by on the farm with no kids left at home!

I imagine just the view from your window would be inspirational! I recently moved from writing on the couch to sitting at a desk and I had to get some art work to surround me, so that I could be inspired. It’s amazing what a difference the view/setting makes for we creative types. 😀

I prefer silence too, Valerie. If I need to drown out the noise of the children playing at the nearby school, I play instrumental music, but I’m finally getting used to their noise and don’t need the music much anymore. 🙂

When did you start writing and when was your first book published?

I started writing in 2002. Some writers find their first stories have strong bones and just need revisions to get them to a publishable standard. Not so with me! My fifth novel finaled in ACFW’s Genesis contest, but my first sale (a novella to Barbour which released in 2012) didn’t come until I’d written seven. My eighth completed novel, Raspberries and Vinegar, was my first solo sale—the first book in the Farm Fresh Romance series. It released in August, 2013.

Don’t you love the Genesis contest?! My first published book The Christmas Promise semi-finaled. To all you aspiring writers, if you haven’t already, you may want to consider entering ACFW’s Genesis contest.

What is next for you, Valerie?

The third book in the Farm Fresh Romance series, Sweetened with Honey, releases in early 2015. I’m enjoying getting into the romantic tale of two characters I’ve come to know and love over the past several years.

Before then, though, I’ve got a Christmas title, Snowflake Tiara, releasing this September with my friend Angela Breidenbach. Angela has written a historical novella, and mine is contemporary. Both focus on a Christmas beauty pageant in Montana, 125 years apart. And yes, my story, The Model Queen, holds to my “brand” at the juncture of food and faith. You’ll have to read it to see how!

Very cool! I’ll keep an eye out for it. 🙂 What do you do for fun?

My husband and I love the outdoors. When we’re not too busy with the farm and garden, we enjoy taking our little holiday trailer out beside a mountain stream and just soaking in nature for a long weekend. We like to hike, snowshoe, and ride our ATV into the back country.

My biggest joys, though, are my three little granddaughters, all under the age of 4. I love spending time with them! We read together, cook together, garden together (ask me how that goes, lol) and bounce on the trampoline together. They mean everything to me!

How fun. Thanks for joining us, Valerie. Readers, Valerie has offered to give an E-book away to one lucky commenter. Please a reply in the comments to be entered.

Drawing Rules: There must be at least ten qualifying comments for the drawing to take place. The drawing ends 3/9/2014. The winner will be contacted by email on 3/10/14 and have until 3/16/2014 to respond or forfeit–no new winner will be chosen. Void where prohibited by law.

If you’d like to see the book trailer for Wild Mint Tea: A Fresh Farm Romance, then check this out. http://youtu.be/9Gus85lL5kc

Valerie-Comer-300x300

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Raspberries and Vinegar, first in her series A Farm Fresh Romance, released in August, 2013.