Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.

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Monday, September 30, 2013

Cover Reveal and Giveaway: Lost Without You by Liz Hannah



Lost Without You
by Liz Hannah
Expected Publication: December 30 2013
Cover Design: CoverIt! Designs


Grace Young thought she was a survivor - until the day her twin brother died, leaving her parents heartbroken and their relationship with Grace fractured beyond repair. Now all Grace wants is a chance to experience something of a normal life, before it's all too late.

Going to college hundreds of miles from home seems like the right way to embrace her new found freedom, especially after years of homeschooling, but while Grace takes to her classes naturally, it's the other side of college that she's unprepared for.

The parties. The friendships. The boys. Especially one Dean Michaels, the Haven University's star soccer player. Fate throws the pair together, and their friendship starts to turn into something more. But can Grace keep the secrets of her past hidden without hurting those she's come to count on the most?

*New Adult Contemporary Romance, recommended for readers 17+ for mature situations*




About the author: Liz Hannah is a New Adult author that calls both Scotland and Australia home. Currently studying her Bachelor of Arts at university, when she’s not busy reading or writing, Liz can be found procrastinating from her studies indulging in her Pinterest habit or watching too many TV shows. Lost Without You is her debut New Adult novel.

Author Links:
Blog / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

Giveaway – Win 2 New Adult Paperbacks


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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: My Sister's Reaper by Dorothy Dreyer

my sisters reaper 
My Sister's Reaper 
by Dorothy Dreyer

Sixteen-year-old Zadie’s first mistake was telling the boy she liked she could bring her dead sister back to life. Her second mistake was actually doing it.

When Zadie accidentally messes with the Reaper’s Rite that should have claimed her sister Mara, things go horribly wrong. Mara isn’t the same anymore—Zadie isn’t even sure she’s completely human, and to top it off, a Reaper is determined to collect Mara’s soul no matter what. Now Zadie must figure out how to defeat her sister’s Reaper, or let Mara die … this time for good.


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dorothyAbout the author:  I'm a Philippine-born American living in Germany with my husband and two teens.

I write young adult books that usually have some element of magic or the supernatural in them. I also like to read those kinds of books. Aside from reading, I like movies, chocolate, take-out, coffee, traveling, and having fun with my friends and family. I've also been known to make a pretty sweet cupcake.

I tend to sing sometimes, too, so keep me away from your Karaoke bars.

Author Links:
Website / Twitter / Facebook




sisters reaper tour





BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/18/13



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, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Tour and Review: The Eggstone Murders by Herb Smith



Title: The Eggstone Murders
Author: Herb Smith
Cozy Mystery

About the book: A thick-headed sheriff, a young, unsure, wannabe detective, and a savvy older criminal-turned-investigator, are only the beginning of the cast of characters included in this story of small-town life in southwestern Iowa, set in 1952.

Enjoy the storms, the intrigues and the mid-western hospitality – including the wonderful food – of Hillville, Iowa as its down-to-earth folks work their way through the dailyness of their quiet lives.  There are the murders, of course, which cause dismay, but the con-man turned detective, Guy, is able to resolve them after a few bumps, and the guilty are punished – or, as is sometimes Guy’s choice, forgiven.

As a whole, it’s a pleasant outing on an Iowa summer’s day.

My thoughts: I read this book in two sittings and it definitely fits the Cozy Mystery genre.  My first thought when reading it, was it reminded me a little of Agatha Christie - now keep in mind, I have only read And Then There Were None, so that is what I am comparing it to!  

It has a fairly large cast of characters, the first being Guy LaFevre.  This is not his real name, as he spent time in prison and upon getting out created a new identity for himself.  He then embezzled money from a company that was doing it's own embezzling and disappeared again before they were on to him.  So now he is Guy and living in a boarding house in Iowa.  He becomes friends with Caleb, a taxi driver who wants to be a detective.  Together they start an agency and before long are called in to go over the books at Eggstone Farms. Gordon Eggstone thinks someone is embezzling from him.  They do find a curious entry, but it is explained away.  Guy thinks there is more to it, but before they can explore it someone is murdered on the farm.  

Things get convoluted from there with the Sheriff asking for their help, but he may be involved with some of the suspects in ways that he doesn't want to come out.  Before it is over, the murders do get solved, and Guy does some creative justice of his own.

This was a nice change from the books that I usually read.  It doesn't have a lot of action, but there is a lot of studying human nature and just watching for things out of the ordinary.  If you like cozy mysteries, then definitely give this one a try.



Purchase Links: 




About the author: It has been my good fortune to live and work in schools and universities around the world. I started teaching in the California State University system more than thirty years ago, after a time working in secondary schools;  went on to Egypt and the Middle East, and finally to Argentina. It has been a fascinating series of events, from one adventure to another, and I loved nearly every minute of it.  (A few of the minutes were not quite so lovable for various reasons.)
Life as an expat lecturer and instructor led me into some unique and sometimes difficult situations, but my appraisal of the whole is one of  amazement that I was able to get to so many wonderful places and enjoy the life of the people there.  I taught English courses to students who had already developed strong skills in the language and was always happy to tell them about life in the U.S., as well as my appreciation of the life I led in their home countries.  I would gladly do it all again with only slight changes here and there.
A sustaining hobby throughout my life is music.  I am a pianist, organist, and composer with many years of experience in church music.  I found that wherever I went in the world, with the exception of Argentina, I was almost immediately working with a church, playing the services (usually on Fridays in the Middle East) regularly.  Music is one of my fondest dreams as well as a ‘forever’ joy.
I now live in Oregon with my wife of fifty years, Glenda, and we love the beauties that surround us here.  I will never tire of reliving the past, of course, either through writing or actually traveling, and any time I have an opportunity to return to Cairo or Doha or La Rioja, I am excited to go once again. (info from author's website)

Author Link: 












Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Kinetic by S.K. Anthony



Kinetic
(The Luminaries, #1)
by S.K. Anthony

Publication date:  September 2013  
NA, Urban Fantasy

Being strong is one thing. Being an unlimited source of power is quite another.

Genetically altered by the Organization, Annie Fox takes down criminals CIA-style with her luminary strength. With nothing to mend but her broken heart, she is relentlessly pursued by her boss Derek Lake. Just when Annie is about to give him a chance, her ex-husband unexpectedly comes out of hiding.

A wanted man, Nick Logan is a cold-hearted murderer who is considered enemy number one, and orders are clear: kill on contact. He is more powerful than ever and threatens the lives of those she holds most dear. His plan? Get his hands on Annie and use her Kinetic energy to destroy them all. When Annie finds herself with an opportunity to end him, she pauses, horrified by the scars covering the face she once loved. A split second that will cost her everything…



Excerpt from Kinetic:

I knew what I had to do. Orders were clear… KILL ON CONTACT.
The thing is, it was Nick.
Before I knew what I was doing, I'd released my hold. He got up and rubbed his mouth.

“What did I tell you about giving second chances?”

“You won’t hurt me,” I said.

“Honey, you are so wrong! I wouldn’t even blink an eye, no pun intended,” he smiled. “Next time you won’t be so lucky. If you ever get the chance again, take it.” He shoved me down and gave me a hard kick in the ass. He started to leave but turned instead, his smile still plastered across his scarred face. “If you can.”

I watched him leave and took a deep breath. I had to give this some thought. I wondered if there was any excuse I could come up with that the Organization would believe. I was going to be in so much trouble. And it was possible they would even strip my abilities away. Although my job could be mentally exhausting, I knew that, deep down, I couldn’t give up what made me, me. I was a badass, I liked using my extensive training to bring down the bad guys of the world, and what had I just done? I'd let the worst of them walk away. I came into this Organization to serve a purpose, and I had never regretted it. Until now.

Nick had taken advantage of all the knowledge he’d gained when he was part of the Org. He was guilty of kidnapping, attacking government buildings, killing a lot of people, and was considered enemy number one for all Luminaries. But while I had no respect left for him, I couldn’t hate him. Not like the rest of them did. This was the man with whom I had exchanged wedding vows, the man who was once my whole world, and he had to be taken down. But he still had enough power over me that I'd let him go. Stupid heart. I never wanted to be one of those girls again, the ones who live for love or die for it. No, love no longer had any place in my empty chest.

The problem was, I'd found my heart staring at me through one eye, and I'd lost my shit.





About the author: S. K. Anthony is a writer, a reader and a make-stuff-up-er who lives in New York with her husband and toddler twins. She is a wine connoisseur, which just really means she knows she loves it, and a caffeine addict. When she isn’t busy with her family she finds herself being transported into the world of imagination. Well, either that or running away from spiders…she is convinced they are out to get her!


Author links:










Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Blitz and Giveaway: Eramane by Frankie Ash


Eramane
(Eramane Trilogy, #1)
by Frankie Ash
Publication Date: Summer, 2013
Fantasy, YA

In the village of Eludwid, seventeen-year-old Eramane Fahnestock goes about her life, cheerfully disregarding a prophecy made to her parents that she would have a great gift. Not yet wed and beset with boredom, Eramane cannot shake the feeling that something exciting awaits her beyond Eludwid. But when she is invited to picnic with a handsome young suitor, Eramane has no idea that her life will soon change forever. 



As Eramane prepares for her date, she is suddenly hypnotized by a strange voice that tells her he will be coming for her that night. Unsettled but determined to press forward, Eramane and her suitor, Lebis, head to the woods to enjoy their picnic. As darkness falls on the forest, however, a beast emerges, transforming their beautiful outing into a terrifying scene. Taken captive and carried away to a mountain hideaway, Eramane finds her memories are soon clouded, even as her family frantically searches for her back home.

In this gripping fantasy tale, evil is summoned to the mountaintop, forcing a young woman to discover her magical gifts and exact revenge against a beast determined to destroy everything she has ever loved.


Purchase Links: 


Excerpt from Eramane

Crackling flames from the oversized hearth touch my face with their heat and wake me from my void. I feel as though I have been asleep for days, without having dreams or any other reassurance of existence. I am lying on a white fur on the floor of a chamber. The bright fur stuns my vision momentarily; I have had my eyes closed for too long. I move my fingers through the fur; it is soft and smells like wood and smoke. Where am I? I blink my eyes to adjust my vision, and it begins to clear. Then my mind clears. Lebis! I sit up, and fright surges through me. My eyes search the room for my abductor. Where is it? It is dark in the corners of the chamber; does it lurk there? The chamber is a large stone room with no outside openings, and the ceiling is so high that I cannot see where it ends. I rise from the soft fur bedding and put my feet onto the cold floor. It is not until I stand on the chamber floor that I notice my foot has been re-bandaged. I look around the room, desperately trying to see into the darkness. If that thing is in here with me, I would rather discover it now than wait in wonder of my fate. I make my way to the shadowed corners. I see nothing, for now I am alone.
The rock walls have pieces of crystal that catch the reflection from the fire, causing them to twinkle like the night sky. I feel as if I am atop a mountain, surrounded only by the starlit skies. I walk slowly toward one of the walls, touching one of the sparkling crystals. The warmth of the large fire does not reach the walls, so I go back to it for comfort. I stand in front of the hearth feeling the flame’s heat begin to lightly toast my skin. I stare into the flames, and their color reminds me of what brought me here, those fire-colored eyes! Images of Lebis flash inside of the flames, like a reflection in a mirror replaying that horrible event. Tears fill my eyes and blur the flames. I lie down on the white fur again and weep until I lose myself again to the bliss of sleep.
My breath is taken by a swift, musky draft. I am aware that I am still in the room with the twinkling walls and golden fire pit, but when I wake this time I can sense the presence of someone else in the chamber. However, my eyes cannot find anyone. I had hoped that death would find me in my slumber; instead it passed me over, left me alive, in the captivity of a monster. I am at the mercy of the beast that murdered Lebis, robbed me of an innocent life, and confiscated my future. Only where is this murderer? I do not believe that I can bear to gaze upon that creature again. The horrid memories spin through my head, and I wonder if I will go mad harboring all of them.
Creak, the door to my chamber opens. Hinges squeak and rattle, taking me away from my thoughts. I am suddenly keenly aware of my vulnerability, not having the safety of a closed door. “Come, Eramane,” a raspy, cracking voice says. I stand and listen for the voice to speak again. “Do not be afraid; you are safe here,” it says. My eyes dart around intently, not finding the source of these words.
“What do you want from me? Why have you brought me here?” I shout. My voice carries around the chamber, echoing off the stone. The door closes, leaving me alone once more, alone with my thoughts.
I do not know how long I have been held captive—hours, days? It could be either, for I have battled exhaustion the entire time, sleeping most of it. I am certain that my brother is searching for me by now. I imagine him and his Riders invading this stone prison and saving me. I have dreamt that scenario several times. It is a hope that keeps me from walking into the fire that continuously burns, hot and strong. My daydream of rescue is intruded on as the creaking of hinges and jarring of metal accompany the opening of my chamber door. There is no dark, odorous cloud this time. Again a voice, seeming to radiate from the walls themselves, offers a meal to me. Taking the offer as a cue, my stomach rumbles and gnaws at me, as if trying to claw its way out, hoping to find food on its own, in the belief that I have given up on its need of sustenance. I am starving but afraid to leave the chamber. I stare at the open door, wondering what fate awaits me if I walk through it. The door begins to close, but this time my fear of the unknown is second to my need of nourishment. “Wait, please,” I say, choking back my words, afraid to actually say them. The door pauses. I walk toward it, and it waits for me.
I cannot see anything outside of the door, but I am compelled to continue through the opening anyway. I look to my right, into the darkness, and there is nothing. I look left, and it offers the same. My body is numb with fear, but I cannot seem to control its will to find food. My body moves me forward while my mind pleads for me to turn around and run back to the warm fur next to the hearth; it is desperately trying to fight against going into the dark hallway
As I proceed down the dark corridor, torches hanging from the walls begin to ignite with my every step. The walkway appears to be endless, yet with each grumble from my belly, I am compelled to proceed. I turn to look behind me; there is nothing there, not even the torches that burned a moment ago. Complete darkness backs me. All I can navigate is the way in front of me. I follow the torches until I come to another door, an oversized, wooden double door, with black iron rings the size of wagon wheels hanging from the center. The doors are so big that it seems like I will need a team of plow horses to open them. I stand in front of the wooden barriers and watch with intense curiosity as they slowly open on their own. Finally, the enormous doors cease to move, and my eyes take in a beautiful sight.





About the author: Frankie Ash is the author of the YA novel Eramane, COMING SOON! She holds a B.A. in English and resides on the east-coast somewhere between “Will it ever be warm again?” and “The summers here are too short!” She is currently writing book #2 of The Eramane Trilogy, to be published in 2014.

Author links:






Sunday, September 22, 2013

Book Blast and Giveaway: Chasing Hope by Kathryn Cushman

Chasing Hope

Chasing Hope
 by Kathryn Cushman

A Personal Drama of Shattered Dreams and Second Chances

A talented runner fully committed to Olympic dreams, Sabrina Rice's future was shattered by a devastating diagnosis. One forfeited scholarship and several years later, she has new goals and dreams that have nothing to do with running--something that's become far too painful to think on.
Until the day she sees Brandy Philip running across the community college campus, easily outpacing security. Sabrina immediately recognizes world-class speed, and it's all the more painful that it belongs to a teenage graffiti artist. When a chance encounter brings the two young women together, Sabrina becomes Brandy's best hope for staying out of juvenile hall. Soon, Sabrina begins to feel an uncomfortable nudge that her new life is just about to be toppled...that God may be calling her to minister to this talented but troubled girl.


Purchase Links

 




kathrynAbout the author: Author Kathryn "Katie" Cushman is a graduate of Samford University with a degree in pharmacy.

She is the author of five novels, including Leaving Yesterday and A Promise to Remember, which were both finalists for the Carol Award in Women's Fiction.

She is also the co-author of Angel Song with Sheila Walsh.

Kathryn and her family currently live in Santa Barbara, California.

Author Links:




BookBlast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/11/13



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, Not A Writer http://iamareader.com and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.





Friday, September 20, 2013

Book Blitz, Interview and Giveaway: Bikers and Pearls by Vicki Wilkerson


Bikers and Pearls
by Vicki Wilkerson

Who said tempting a sweet Southern belle would be easy?

When rebel biker Bullworth Clayton gets tangled up with pastel-and-pearls-clad April Church, sparks fly. Sure, April would clearly rather work with anyone else, but if teaming up with Bull means a successful charity event for a sick little boy they both care about, then so be it.

April is baffled at how drawn she is to the leather-wearing, tattooed Bull—he just doesn’t fit with her simple, safe, country-club life. And as much as the handsomely rugged man tempts her, she still can’t shake the images of the tragic motorcycle accident from her past, which left her scarred and her father broken.

Bull tempts her to don a pair of leather pants and go for a ride with him, while April desperately tries to resist her attraction to the wild side and keep her exploits hidden from her small town. Will they be able to navigate their differences and find a middle road to love?


Purchase Links:

 




Enjoy the first chapter of Bikers and Pearls: 


Chapter One

Motorcycles were everywhere. April Church had never seen so many in one place in her entire life. Row after row and side by side, they had been lined up like opposing armies. Was there some kind of biker rally in town that she didn’t know about? No. That couldn’t be. Surely, something like that would have been announced in the Summerbrook Gazette.
She looked for a well-lit parking spot near the door of the buffet steakhouse, but after circling the bikes three times, she finally squeezed her car into the last space at the rear of the dark lot. Motorcycles flanked both sides of her car. Flames embellished the tank of the bike immediately to her left and razors decorated the one to her right.
She was trapped.
Trapped like she had been in her father’s car the night he’d accidentally hit a motorcycle—the night the dead man’s “pack” had surrounded them like wolves. And here she was again, encircled by bikes. She looked toward the building. In that steakhouse were the same kind of people who had left her father with a limp, bound to a cane for the rest of his life.
Why on Earth did she tell Mr. Houseman that she’d go to the meeting? Well, for many reasons, but the most important was Ben. He was special. Every time he saw her, he gave her a hug. Started out when she first helped him learn to climb a tree when the Humanity Project volunteers built his home. When he dropped down from that tree and into her arms, he also dropped into her heart. Ever since that day, he drew pictures of trees and gave them to her as gifts. Yep. He was special, and she had to do something to help the little boy’s parents with the mounting medical bills. Mr. Houseman was her mentor at the Humanity Project, and she owed him, too. She also thought about Miss Adree, the sweet, elderly lady in her condo building who taught Ben music lessons every Thursday evening. April loved picking up the little guy and remembered Miss Adree doing the same for her when she was a child. It was time to return favors.
Inside would be all the civic-minded organizations from town that were helping Ben, including the Summerbrook Ladies League. The bikers were probably at the restaurant for a completely different reason—some ride or party they had to plan. She glanced around at all the motorcycles again. There were so many.
Taking a deep breath, she gingerly opened the car door. But before she got the chance to put her foot on the asphalt, the painted flames on the motorcycle next to her pitched—almost imperceptibly at first. Or perhaps she was simply denying what was happening.
Down it went. The mirrors tilted and flashed the light of a distant streetlamp over the body of the beast. Stop! Somehow, it appeared to have picked up momentum on its way to its death. And then it crashed against the pavement, the clang grating up her spine as it hit. No! She couldn’t have touched that bike. She had been so careful.
As she stepped outside the car, a shiver iced down her spine in a cold gust of March air. The motorcycle lay there like a fallen soldier. The crash had amputated its rearview mirror, which was now in the middle of the lane. She looked all around her.
For a brief moment, she thought about bolting. But she’d never do that. She worked at a local insurance company as a risk assessment manager. Assessing her own risk, she determined that she was in real trouble.
She knew she could analyze her way out of this. Maybe she could set the bike upright again and no one would notice. That might work.
Fighting some awful thing inside that wanted to paralyze her, she drew up every bit of her strength, bent down, and grabbed the handlebars. With her eyes closed, she strained and jerked with all her might. But the beast wouldn’t budge.
Maybe she could at least fix the mirror. Though her hand shook—probably from the cold—she picked it up and tried to attach the cracked piece to the bent chrome on the side of the bike. She pushed and twisted and rocked the thing. Nothing worked. Now what was she to do?
She could call the police. But it wasn’t a traffic accident. She still didn’t believe that she’d touched the bike. No matter. What could she do but try to find the owner and tell him? Dread rose up in her. She would offer the biker her insurance information, and she could let her company argue the claim later. And if the bike’s owner grew angry with her here, she assumed the bystanders in the steakhouse would provide some protection.
Glancing around the dark lot, she noticed several other bikes with flames on their tanks. Great. Now she’d have a band of angry bikers come after her when she would announce that she’d knocked over a motorcycle festooned with flames.
Shaking her head, she tried to rid herself of the images of that night so long ago. But this was very different. No one had died. And she would accept complete responsibility, unlike her father, who’d blamed and angered the drunken bikers from Rebel Angels the night they’d played chicken with him.
Still holding the metal thing, she had an idea. The mirror was a totally different shape from the others around her, and it had a sticker with flames on the back. That would help. She’d find Mr. Morrow and a few of the people there for the fundraiser, and with their assistance, she’d approach the bikers with the mirror.
So she summoned all of her courage and bravely walked toward the entrance where a giant fake cow stood with an ominous look in his eyes. It watched her every step.
When finally inside, the scent of old coffee and burned grease assailed her. A gap-toothed hostess greeted April. “Welcome to Carolina Cow Steakhouse,” she said in a particularly slow Southern dialect—the brogue of her small town.
Not immediately seeing the people from the Summerbrook Civic Club, she turned to the waitress. “Umm, I’m supposed to meet a group here.”
The hostess perked up and smiled. “Are you here for Ben Evans’s Leukemia Fundraiser, too?”
April nodded and glanced around again, still hiding the broken mirror behind her back. She spotted members of the motorcycle crew secluded away at a couple of tables in a shadowy corner. Oh, boy. In a few short moments, she’d have to face them and confess what she’d done. Well, at least they weren’t going to be a part of the civic club meeting. After she gave them the broken mirror and her insurance information, it would all be over.
“You’ll have to wait here a minute ’cause I’m moving everyone into the larger banquet room. Y’all have more people than we expected,” the hostess said as she grabbed a few more menus and walked away.
April backed up against the wall to better hide the crooked chrome she held. Of all the stupid things that could happen.
With her free hand, she brushed at the pleats on her skirt to straighten them. Then she switched the mirror into her right hand and smoothed out the other side. Everything was under control.
“What do you have there?” inquired a low, masculine voice from above her head.
She snapped to attention like she was about to undergo a military inspection.
A handsome, muscular man in a black bomber jacket towered above her, larger than life. His shoulder-length hair was pulled back into a neat ponytail. Golden streaks highlighted his nut-brown mane. His indigo-colored eyes perused her face. “Is something wrong?”
She twisted the strand of pearls that draped from her neck between her fingers with her free hand. “No. Everything’s fine,” she said. It would be as soon as she could meet up with Mr. Morrow or some of the other members from the civic organizations.
“Then what are you hiding behind your back?”
He had seen. Oh, no. He had seen.
“Just a little mishap. I’m going to take care of it.”
“You ride?” The left corner of his mouth curled up. “In a skirt?”
“No.” She hoped her voice didn’t sound strained. “No, I’ve never ridden on a motorcycle before,” she said calmly.
He narrowed his eyes. “Then why are you walking around with a Harley dome billit mirror?”
That was a good question. Why was she? She held out the broken piece of the bike in front of her. “I don’t know how it happened. I was opening my car door, and then—”
He took it from her, examined it, and gave it back. “Let me guess. It just fell.” He tilted his head, exposing a strong, angular jawline. “All by itself.”
“That’s right. It really did happen that way. Exactly.” He probably didn’t believe a word she said. And she couldn’t blame him. She heard unlikely stories like hers from claimants at the insurance company all the time.
“Ahhh, I see. Sure it did,” he said. But the left side of his grin inched upward again. His eyes radiated light like the mirror in her hands. “Believe I know who owns that. ’Cause of the sticker on the back there.” He nodded at the chrome and took a step toward her. “Won’t be too happy, though. You want me to take you to him?”
A spicy scent replaced the old coffee and burned grease in the air. She looked around, half expecting to see one of the men from the Summerbrook Chamber of Commerce or the hostess with a can of air freshener. But April hadn’t ever experienced anything like that fragrance—not on a businessman or from a can. “No, thank you. I’m meeting some people here for a fundraiser first. They’ll help me.”
“I know where they are, too. It’s where I’m headed.” He touched her elbow. A warm tingle ran up her arm.
“The hostess said to wait here.”
“We don’t have to wait.”
“But—” Before she could protest, he placed his hand on the small of her back and guided her through the large, open restaurant and around a corner. With each step she took, her pulse beat faster.
They stopped at a door, which had a sign on it that read Banquet Room.
“You sure you don’t want me to handle that for you?” He arched his brow and glanced at the mirror.
“No, thank you. I’m going to ask Mr. Morrow to walk back with me. To tell those people in the corner of the main dining area.”
He opened the door. “Be my guest.”
As soon as she walked into the room, she knew she was in trouble. The large table in front was filled with people sporting leather fringes, rivets, Harley insignias, and long hair. Motorcycle people. But what kind of motorcycle people were they—the weekender kind who had regular day jobs, like the safe ones they insured at her company? Or some other kind?
A guy with a Z Z Top-looking beard stood up and said, “Hey, that’s my mirror.”
The packed room became silent.
April wanted to sink through the floor. “I’ll pay for it. I have insurance. I don’t really even know how it happened.”
The whole room stared at her like she was a liar. Trapping the mirror between her arm and side, she fumbled in her purse to get one of the copies of her insurance card she’d made at work in case she might ever have the need for it.
“She was probably standing there and it just fell over,” said one of the bikers at the table.
All the people at the table laughed. She turned to see Mr. Morrow standing silently behind the lectern, looking at his notes. Why wasn’t he backing her up? Surely he recognized her. She wanted to say, “It’s me. April Church.” In case he didn’t remember. But he only stood there looking unconcerned.
The tall, handsome guy who’d walked her back took the broken mirror from her and tossed it toward the biker with the long beard. “Okay, let’s go, Slug. I’ll give you a hand to upright your bike. This time. But you’d better fix that kickstand before that old motorcycle falls over again—with the next stiff breeze.” The handsome man looked at her. “Might accidentally hurt a pretty young lady next time.”
The group laughed more. Slug kept his eye on April as he inched around the table. She didn’t see anything funny. She’d known she hadn’t hit the motorcycle with her car door. But she’d been discombobulated all the same.
The man in the bomber jacket gave Slug a reprimanding look and then turned to her. “Slug here’s real sorry he hasn’t fixed that old kickstand. Even though we’ve been warning him about it for months. Right, Slug?”
“Yeah. I’m sorry and all,” said Slug. He reached out his tattoo-covered hand and snatched the mirror.
The two men left with the twisted chrome.
Slug didn’t sound very sorry. Even if the broken mirror wasn’t her fault, she didn’t want to face him alone in that dark parking lot. She was staying right where she was for the time being.
She wanted to do this for Ben. She’d have to stay no matter what.
Mr. Morrow said, “April, if you’ll take a seat, we can get started.”
So now he knew who she was.
Glancing across the room, she saw the ladies from the group she wanted to join all decked out in their Lilly Pulitzer sweaters and pearls, cozily talking around a couple of the round banquet tables they’d pulled together on the other side of the room. Shoot. All the other chairs were filled—except for two at the table with the bikers. The evening couldn’t possibly get any worse.
An older man with long, gray hair and a woolly beard stood up and said, “Here’s one, miss.”
Things had just gotten worse. All she could do now was to sit. She clutched her purse tightly against her body and eased her way between the tables to one of the two empty seats.
Nothing was going to happen. Everything would be fine now that her little mirror emergency was over. These people had to be good people, right? They were here to help Ben, too. And Ben needed lots of help.
April fidgeted with the pearls at her neck. She knew there was no good reason for her insides to be so tense. These people weren’t the same rioters from Rebel Angels who’d burned down her father’s old hardware store for revenge. She straightened the pleats again on her skirt, trying to forget about the unfortunate event that had divided the town. But how could she possibly forget with all the reminders at the table? The earthy scent of leather hung all around her.
She wound her arms around her purse and sat up straight. If only she could leave. But she wouldn’t know what to tell Mr. Houseman. She had already promised him she was going to help.
She moved her seat closer to the empty chair, but as soon as she had, the man in the bomber jacket returned. Without Slug. And he’d spotted the empty seat.
Nothing she could do now. She scooted her chair back to its original position and closed her eyes. Take deep breaths. Take deep breaths. With her next inhalation, her senses were filled with the most heavenly fragrance. Spicy and aromatic.
She opened her eyes to find the striking stranger sitting next to her. She turned to look at the table behind her.
The hostess closed the door. April was simply going to have to make the best of the situation. For now. Maybe later she could somehow wiggle her way over to the Lilly Pulitzer table. April also had an ulterior motive to help with the fundraiser. This was going to be her magic ticket into the Summerbrook Ladies League—something she’d always wanted—and something her mother had always wanted for her.
Her best friend, Jenna, had automatically joined the league years ago with all the other young debutants in town. Right after the big ball. April wanted to be a part of it—all the cookbook committees, the parties, and the fashion shows. She and her BFF would do them all together. If only she could get in. But she wasn’t a debutant and her family didn’t have the pedigree that Jenna’s did. Jenna didn’t care, though. Never had cared that April had her…past, and she loved Jenna for that. It wasn’t going to be so easy, however, for April to enter the cliquish league.
Mr. Morrow, president of the Summerbrook Civic Club, tapped a butter knife on the wooden lectern at the front of the room. “Thank you all for coming tonight. I guess you know why we’re here.”
She heard some stirring, and she caught a glimpse of a woman near the lectern nodding, but April didn’t move. She stared ahead and hoped to blend in with the others at her table. But how her pleats and pearls were going to fit in with all the rivets and leather she didn’t know exactly.
Mr. Morrow looked down. “When Ben Evans’s grandfather came to me and told me about Ben’s leukemia and his medical bills at the Children’s Hospital, I knew that all the Summerbrook civic organizations had to get involved in a big way. We’re all going to work together like we haven’t before.”
The handsome biker with the blue eyes and hard, angular jawline leaned in his chair and closed the space between them. She clutched her purse even tighter to minimize her presence at the table. She turned her attention back to Mr. Morrow.
“We’re all going to undertake multiple projects as quickly as we can for Ben. Those medical bills aren’t going away after only one fundraiser. Each table or team will choose a date for their event and the type of project they want to sponsor,” Mr. Morrow explained.
When Mr. Morrow finished, an old, woolly-bearded man in leather chaps stood up. “Jim, most of you know that Ben is my grandson. Oh, for those of you who don’t know, I’m Patch Evans.”
She’d had no idea who the man was—even though she knew Ben’s family well. Ben’s dad, Purvis Evans, had recently been laid off at the local car dealership, and his mom worked at April’s bank as a teller. She wouldn’t have guessed that Ben had motorcycle riders in his background. Not that that was bad or anything. It’s just that people in small Southern towns usually shared similar interests with their family members. Families were tightly woven units below the Mason-Dixon. Take a family who likes country club living…well, they all usually belong to the club. Take a family who likes NASCAR, well, mostly they’re hanging out together at the local racetrack.
She broke away from her thoughts when the old man choked out a few more words. “My family is terribly grateful for all your help.”
The lean bomber-jacket guy beside her moved again in his seat and looked into his lap. She was careful not to let him see her glancing at him from the corner of her eye. All the emotion in the room and at her table caught her off guard. Maybe that was why she was so…so…twitchy.
“No problem, Patch.” Mr. Morrow checked his watch. “In about an hour, we’ll stop and discuss what each team has decided. In the meantime, I’ll walk around and make sure we’re talking about different dates for each of the events.” He turned as the door behind him opened. “Betsy here will take your drink orders if anyone’s thirsty. Her sweet tea is so good, you’ll think your tongue will slap your brains out.”
Betsy smiled hugely at the compliment. She didn’t seem to mind the crevice between her teeth. Or the unusual expression of praise. April wished she could be less uptight—like Betsy. But April worried about most everything, a trait she grew up recoiling from because of her own overprotective mother. And old-fashioned grandmother.
Betsy leaned over to take a drink order from the table beside her and April saw something Betsy would have minded. She had a small split in the seam of her trousers. April’s heart ached for her. Gapped teeth and pants.
Chairs grated on the tile floor as people settled down in their groups to talk. April glanced at the table to her left. No room to move her chair. She peered at the table behind her. If she turned her seat around, it would look bad. She eyed the door. But she couldn’t leave. For so many reasons.
At her table, a middle-aged man with a red bandana said, “How ’bout I start. I got some ideas you guys might like. Oh, excuse me. And ladies. I’m Crank Allman, by the way.”
What kind of ideas did these people have? Coming up with names like Crank and Patch—not to mention Slug. In all her twenty-six years, she’d never heard of so many odd monikers in one place. At one table. Whatever happened to names like Bill and Bob?
She twirled the pearl ring on her left hand and noticed how much it looked like a wedding band when the pearl was on the palm side, so she left it that way. Wouldn’t hurt if anyone there thought she was married.
“I’m gonna need me a secretary, though.” Crank paused. “How ’bout you?”
She didn’t look up. He couldn’t possibly be talking to her. She was planning to move her chair to the sweater-and-pearls table as soon as it wouldn’t look so obvious. These people probably didn’t want her in their group anyway. She was merely waiting for the right moment to oblige.
The bomber-jacket guy next to her reached for her arm. “I think he’s talking to you.”
She startled at his touch. His strong hand was warm and almost electric. She tried to smile. “I don’t know that I’ll be here that much longer. Maybe someone else should volunteer.”
“I’ll take over if she has to leave early,” said the blue-eyed man sitting next to her. He smiled and handsome lines formed parentheses on each side of his mouth. The angles of his jawline and his perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth made him look like a male model in one of those Armani suit ads. Without the suit, of course. “The two of us can share being secretary.”
He had to be kidding. She tried to hide the concern from showing in her face. There wasn’t a pig’s chance at the Miss Summerbrook Fire Queen Pageant she was going to stick around—not with the cookbook clan merely feet away. She didn’t know a single one of the people at her table. But she couldn’t let on to them right now that she was uneasy. And had a completely different agenda. She had to go along for the time being.
Think, girl, think. There had to be a discreet way out of this. If there was, she was going to figure it out. She always did.
Crank tossed a spiral notebook onto the table. “You each need to write down your name, address, and phone number so our secretary—excuse me—secretaries can keep a record in case we need you for something before our next meeting.” When the good-looking man beside her received the list, she watched as he wrote, “Bull Clayton.”
Bull? The Ladies League gals would have boyfriends and husbands named Preston and Tillman and Hamilton. There was just no end to the crazy things bikers called themselves. Bull looked nothing like a thick male bovine as his name implied. A svelte stallion, maybe. When he finished writing his phone number, he pushed the notebook in front of her.
She couldn’t write her address and phone number in there. Who knew where that list would end up? And even though nothing would probably come of jotting down her number, she didn’t need to take the chance. In fact, she’d been the one at her agency to order and distribute the pamphlets on personal safety last month. Single women living alone shouldn’t advertise their addresses and phone numbers. That was rule number one. At least the accident had had one positive effect—steering her toward a suitable career—a career at which she excelled in being careful.
She glanced up at Bull, who still had his arm extended and hand on the spiral notebook. A feeling of fireflies fluttering in her lower tummy warmed her in a way she’d never experienced. Her body wasn’t being careful at all.
This was all too difficult to absorb and she felt a twinge deep inside her head. Oh, no. Another of her stupid headaches was trying to settle in. The whole evening had been filled with tension. Of course, a migraine would follow.
She closed her eyes. The flashes of light came first, and then the old crash came rushing back. The screams. The sirens. The fire.
She opened her eyes and shook her head. If only she could erase what the Rebels had done. But that was impossible.
There had to be a way for her to deal with this problem. All she had to do was analyze it and sort it out. That might be hard to do at the table; however, all the bikers were busily talking to one another and weren’t paying any attention to her. Thank goodness.
Just then Betsy walked toward her. April took off her sweater, whispered in Betsy’s ear, and wrapped the sweater around Betsy’s waist. She gave April the most beautiful smile ever.
Great. The bikers were still debating something. No one had seen.
Her phone vibrated. Jenna. With the phone in her lap and hidden by the table, April texted back.
Can’t talk now.
April’s head tensed more. Another text from Jenna.
What’s wrong?
April took another deep breath, trying to compose herself, trying to keep the headache away.
Long story. I’ll call when I’m out of here.
She really needed to pay more attention to what was going on at the table. Lucky for her, she was off their radar. Her cell vibrated again.
Out of where? I thought you were at league thing with the girls.
She wasn’t going to get rid of Jenna without an explanation so she texted where she was and what had happened.
…but this guy named Bull helped me out, so I’m okay.
April sucked in a deep breath. Little lights twinkled in her vision from the headache that was trying to get a foothold in her brain.
Maybe answering Jenna’s text wasn’t such a good idea. She had a tendency to be overly alarmist. And obviously April had a tendency to be overly stupid for telling Jenna anything. No imagining what she was going to do.
Maybe April should just leave. But what if Slug was still out there? He hadn’t come back to the banquet room, and his motorcycle had been parked beside her car. By now, he could have rounded up all his friends from the other corners of the restaurant.
She had to be reasonable, though. He shouldn’t be upset at her because he hadn’t fixed his own kickstand.
There was another problem with leaving, as well. What would she tell Mr. Houseman? And Ben? She couldn’t face letting him slip away. Then there was the league. Too much was at stake. Whatever it takes.
No matter what, she was going to stay. Tonight. She could always call Mr. Morrow next week and ask to be reassigned to another group—even if it wasn’t the league ladies—as long as she did something to help Ben. Bull pushed the notebook back in front of her. She stole another look at the handsome man. Humph. Nothing like Bull had ever ridden into Summerbrook before.
She needed to get her mind on the work at hand, though. As she read some of his words, she became confused.
With finality in his voice, Crank said, “So, the weekend of April 28th is the best date.”
Curiosity got the best of her. It sounded like they were planning to do something big the weekend of her birthday. She raised her hand again. “Excuse me.” She cleared her throat. “What exactly are you doing, and what does ‘Bikers for Ben’ and ‘Ride for a Reason’ mean?”
Crank said, “Well, we decided that we’d do a charity bike ride, gettin’ sponsors to donate money for each mile we ride from Summerbrook to the Charleston Battery and then on to the Children’s Hospital.”
She lowered her head and tapped her pencil. In a low voice she said, “What about a bake sale or a charity auction or something?”
A burley man with a handlebar mustache and muttonchops spoke up after everyone chuckled. “We don’t know nothin’ ’bout no bakin’ or no auctionin’. All’s we know is bikes.”
Bull had taken off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves, and she could see muscular definition in his forearms. Was he ever fit. “What Chops means is that rides are what we know best to raise money. We’ve done it before. It’s what we do well.” He smiled that same Hollywood smile that she’d noticed before—the one that kept taking her off guard.
He moved his arms forward on the table and she saw a piece of a tattoo, but as quickly as she saw it, he tugged at his shirt and it disappeared under his sleeve again.
“But I thought—” April stopped midsentence. She’d be home soon and the whole thing could be their little kettle of fish. “I’m sorry. A biker-rider thingy is fine. Just fine,” she said as she leaned back in her chair.
“Good,” said Bull. “Because you and I are in charge of permits and advertising.” He smiled again, the left side inching up more than the right. No, it wasn’t quite a smile. It was more of a grin.
With his perfectly straight teeth. If someone would turn him in on one of those makeover shows and cut and style his hair, he’d be downright dangerous. But he didn’t know what he was talking about because she wasn’t about to help with any of their far-fetched ideas. She couldn’t. With her aging father’s cardiac condition, it would absolutely kill him if he ever found out.
The man named Crank explained all about what they had decided. She sat there biding her time and tried to blend in with the furniture. Then her cell rang. So much for trying to look inconspicuous.
“I’m sorry,” she said. She pressed the phone to her head as tightly as she could and bent down toward the table. Everyone in the group grew silent as Jenna’s voice barreled through the little cell phone.
“I called Mr. Houseman. He said he can’t help you right now. April, I think you could be in a lot of danger. I asked around about that Bull guy and found out he had been involved with Rebel Angels. Those people might have chains or knives—or even guns.”
Yeah, they might. But why would they want to use them on her? Because she was wearing pleats?
Jenna’s voice grew even louder, if that were possible. “Be careful. Stay away from the bikers and get your butt home.”
“Jenna, don’t be ridiculous. I’ll talk to you later.” April quickly ended the call and looked up at Bull. He raised his eyebrow, and a strange expression covered his handsome face. It was almost another smile. Wait. No. It was a smirk. She knew it. He’d heard everything Jenna had said—about the chains, the knives…and Rebel Angels.
How dare he be snarky with her? She sat up, glanced around, and realized by the looks on their faces that the others had heard Jenna, too.
Before, she was merely being paranoid, but now she had a real reason to worry. That phone call would have insulted anyone. In Jenna’s effort to be a mother hen, she’d actually made the situation worse.
She had two options. She could stand, run, and take her chances in the parking lot with the chains and knives Jenna had mentioned, or she could prove them all wrong. Being the chicken that she was, she said, “Well, people. When do we get started?”



About the author: Vicki is a native of the Charleston, South Carolina, Lowcountry and loves to share her enchantment with the area with readers through her writing. Even in childhood, she enjoyed penning stories and poems—no doubt fueled by her grandfather's enthusiasm for telling tales himself. Where else—but in the South—could one find the interesting blend of salt water, eerie swamps, unwritten traditions and unique characters? In her spare time, she loves traveling, spending weekends at her family's lake house, playing golf and cooking (with lots of wine). 

Author Links:
Website / Goodreads / Twitter


If your book was made into a TV series or movie, what actors would you like to see playing your characters? Feel free to add pics.

Okay, this is a fun question. The hero would have to be played by Charlie Hunnam, who plays Jax in Sons of Anarchy. Yes, because he knows how to ride a Harley, and he already has that sexy, longer, mussed up hair. He’s the kind of guy you’d have to forgive no matter what he’s done in his past—just so you could sit and—um—look at him. Am I right? And the heroine’s role would go to Michelle Williams. She has a vulnerability and an innocence that make her perfect to play April. What opposites! They are who I think about when I think of April and Bullworth in Bikers and Pearls!



How long do you think about a story before starting to write the book?

I usually think about a story for approximately a month, taking notes, outlining it and doing research. Then it takes about a month to actually write the first draft, and then it takes several weeks before it’s in any kind of shape to be shown to anyone. My first drafts are story only. There is little dialogue and I don’t pay much attention to grammar either. I just let the story flow in that first draft. It is when I have the most fun as a writer.

Was there anything (or anyone) while growing up which helped you decide you wanted to be a writer?

Without knowing it, my grandfather did. I used to sit on his front porch and listen to him tell stories about all sorts of things—including some ghost stories I wish he hadn’t told me at the time. He’d fill them with all sorts of Southern folklore. He also sang folk songs. Though he didn’t have a singer’s voice, I loved the stories embedded in them. And when I looked for one, they had messages or themes in them, too.
  

Favorite childhood memory?

Well, that would be the answer from the previous question—sitting on my grandfather’s front porch!


Most __________ in High School?

“Most Unexpected to Write a Book.” I know that’s a strange answer because I was already writing and had been since I was a child. Stories, poems and songs came to me all the time. But I didn’t share that with ANY of my high school friends. I did, however, share my notebook of poems with my English teacher. And she lost it.
Anyway, in high school, I didn’t look like a stellar student. I took one book home on one day my senior year.
I was into fashion and friends and boys and parties. I was somehow learning, though. My senior English teacher taught me to love literature in spite of herself, and when I took the Princeton CLEP Test the next year, I “clepped” 30 hours of college credit! Holy Cow! Was I ever shocked! I started college as a sophomore.
But if my high school peers had to vote, they never would have guessed that I’d EVER write a book.
The irony and absurdity go on, though. Just before I became a “recovering English teacher,” I put in a couple of years at a struggling high school because I wanted to make a real difference before I gave up my teaching career for writing. In addition to hosting Student Superlative voting, the school hosted a vote for Teacher Superlatives. And guess what title I won? Best Dressed. What? Do I not look like a writer? And, BTW, I write in my pajamas. Not glamorous. At all.


If someone wrote a book about your life, what would the title be?

A Southern Soul


Do you have a literary crush?

That would be Charles Frazier. What he did in Cold Mountain was revolutionary. And he’s pretty darn cute, too!


Talk or text?

Text for anything mundane. It eliminates the chit-chat that some people enjoy. When I am on deadline, listening to chit-chat is like listening to fingernails grating on chalkboards. For anything important, please call!



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