Between Boyfriends, Sarka-Jonae Miller {$0.99 After Memorial Day Sale!}

At first glance, twenty-one-year-old Jan Weston has it all: a gorgeous boyfriend, fun friends, and wealthy parents who take care of all those pesky credit card bills.

Then her boyfriend dumps her, her friendships fall apart, and her parents cut her off. Suddenly without money, without a man, and without a plan, it’s time for Jan to grow up.

Determined to get her life back on track, Jan decides it’s time to make it on her own. Can she find her way as a single lady in San Diego? Can she fix her friendships, her job prospects, and her hair? And can she keep her vow that she’ll never date again, even after she meets a guy who just might be perfect for her?

BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS is a sexy, hilarious story of living life, finding love, and growing up… but not necessarily in that order.

What readers are saying:

“This book is the ultimate chick-lit read–a light-hearted romp focused on the travails of Jan, a college student dumped by her boyfriend, an SDSU student. The moment proves an epiphany, as Jan resolves to stop dating and find fulfillment as a single woman.” – East County Magazine

Between Boyfriends “presents a unique twist on the chick lit genre.” – Hollywood & Vine magazine

“Over the course of the book, Jan, who is in her early 20s, begins to grow as a person and even strikes up a true friendship with a man, a first for her.” – Rancho Santa Fe Review

“Between Boyfriends is a delicious slice of chick-lit! Snappy dialogue sets this story apart from the pack as it follows a young woman who, financially cut off by her parents when she fails to attend school, learns that life is more than her Amex card, and reunites with a mother who has endured her own brand of pain.” – Jan Moran, bestselling author

The current Average Amazon Review Rating is 4.2 stars {56 reviews}.

Click here to read more about and purchase Between Boyfriends for $0.99

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Thirty-Nine Again, Lynn Reynolds {$1.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Lynn Reynolds‘ Frugal Find Under Nine:

Get it now, here

Description of Thirty-Nine Again:

A “Chick Noir” novel from award-winning author Lynn Reynolds.

So what’s Chick Noir? It’s like chick lit, but with guns and dead bodies instead of shoes.

A portion of author royalties from the sale of Thirty-Nine Again will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and to the Foundation for Women’s Cancer.

On her first thirty-ninth birthday, Sabrina O’Hara battled cancer. This year, she discovers her fiancé Scott’s leading a treacherous double life. Now she’s on the run – from Scott, from the Mexican Mafia, and from one dangerously sexy Homeland Security Agent. Thirty-nine the first time was horrible. But can Sabrina survive Thirty-Nine Again?


Accolades:

J★★★★. 4 Stars. A first-class mystery and . . . a first-class read.”
~ Cindy Himler, RT Book Reviews

5 Cups. Sabrina . . . has strength and tenacity in abundance. With the guns, bad guys, and sexy men, Thirty-Nine Again is a wonderful and exciting read.
~Coffee Time Romance

. . . a contemporary romance full of excitement and suspense. You will be rooting for Sabrina and Evan until the very end.
~Night Owl Romance

5 Ribbons. A Romance Junkies Blue Ribbon Book of the Month.
~RomanceJunkies.com

 

Review Rating:

Thirty-Nine Again currently has an average Amazon Review Rating of 4.5 stars {32 reviews}. Read the reviews here!

 

Thirty-Nine Again is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!


An excerpt from Thirty-Nine Again:

Evan jogged around a corner and stopped beside me. “Hey, I thought maybe you decided not to come!”
I looked up, disappointed to discover his dark eyes were hidden by a pair of those Oakley sunglasses that are big with military guys.
“Ready to go?”
“Yeah, sure!” I felt my face heating up involuntarily and heard the perky little exclamation point in my voice. It made me ill. I charged up the steps next to the Harbor to cover my embarrassment, but I’d never finished with that whole shoelace-tying thing, so I got tangled in my own feet and stumbled. Badly. I stumbled in a way only I could stumble. I started to fall face forward right into Evan’s arms. That threw me into such a huge panic that I windmilled my arms wildly and tried to arch away from him. I flailed backwards, somersaulting down the steps and coming within a millimeter of rolling into the dirty, oily water of the harbor. The only thing that saved me was Evan, who dove down the steps with incredible speed and grabbed me by the arms. I wound up with my legs in the water but my clothes unscathed. He pulled me onto the steps, and I buried my face in my hands.
“Oh, that went way better than the gym,” I muttered.
Evan snorted, blatantly failing to hide his amusement. “Are you okay?”
“No,” I replied. “I am not. I have a bloody knee that’s probably been exposed to all sorts of mutant flesh-eating bacteria. And my pride is utterly in tatters.”
“Not to worry. Be right back.” He left me there and jogged over to the nearby tourist mall. When he returned, he was carrying two cups and a little plastic shopping bag.
“Water, bandages, and lemonade.” He knelt beside me.
“What good will all that do?”
He hooked his sunglasses over the neck of his t-shirt. Then he lifted the lid on the cup of water, put his hand under my knee, and poured the water over the wound. The water was warm, but it stung nonetheless. Still, I was impressed at the effort he’d made to get the water temperature right. I peered at him surreptitiously. His head was down, and the sun’s rays glinted off shoulder-length hair so black it almost seemed blue. He wore it tied back in a ponytail, which looked natural, not phony and pretentious. At my firm a couple of investment bankers with receding hairlines had adopted the mini-ponytail look in some lame effort to compensate. On them, the effect was comical. Not on Evan though.
The hard lines of muscle in his shoulders and back flexed as he leaned forward and blotted at my knee. To my surprise, he used the hem of his olive green t-shirt to clean the wound.
“Oh, Evan, don’t,” I protested.
“It needs cleaning.” He glanced up with a reassuring grin. His almond eyes were so black I couldn’t even see the pupils. But his smile was so open and honest, like none of this was the least bit of trouble, and there was no place he’d rather be.
“This is an old shirt,” he added. “From my Army days. It’s seen worse than this. Anyway, time to let it go.”
We both laughed, because when he laughed, I couldn’t help but join him. His eyes gleamed, and little crinkly lines formed at their corners. How could a woman not want to laugh with him? No wonder Scott had blown a gasket last night when I’d said I was going running with Evan.
Scott and I considered ourselves engaged, even though no ring had ever been proffered. He was an immigration lawyer at Homeland Security, and he came from an uptight, politically well-connected Southern family. They didn’t blow gaskets in Scott’s family, so his display of temper had come across to me as almost flattering. Making Scott a little jealous was one thing, and not a very classy thing. But I knew it was about more than making an indifferent lover jealous. Scott wasn’t even here to bait, yet I continued to sit, immensely enjoying the feel of Evan’s hands all over my leg. Guilt fluttered at the base of my skull, like a moth trapped in a light.
Evan pulled a couple of bandages out of the bag he’d brought with him.
“Where did you find those?” I peered over at the pavilion he’d just left. Baltimore’s big tourist Mecca was full of overpriced chain restaurants and gift shops. No drugstores in a place like that.
“I went to their first aid station. No big deal.”
He shrugged in that mellow way he had. Everything about Evan as my personal trainer was like that—laid-back, low-key. So unlike the other Evan I came to know later. He ripped open a packet of antibiotic cream and dabbed it all over my knee as I winced.
“That’s what this is for.” He handed me the lemonade. “To take your mind off the pain.”
“I’m sorry I’m being such a girl,” I said.
“I’m not.” His voice sounded uncharacteristically husky. When his eyes tried to meet mine again, I looked away.
“I should go.” I half-rose from the step, his hands still wrapped around my leg.
“Come on. First let me bandage this,” he insisted.
I sat back down. He laid a piece of non-stick gauze against my knee before fixing the big square bandage on top. His hands were broad with long, thick fingers, and they moved with swift confidence, like he’d done this a million times.
“Can you walk okay?” He rose with a lithe, animal grace and offered me his hand. As I took it, I realized I’d never remotely believed he was gay or bi. Except in a couple of really weird fantasies involving him and me and Matt Damon. I shook my head hard, trying to knock those embarrassing images out of my head.
“Does your head hurt?” Evan threw his arm around my shoulders, not in a romantic way, but like he was trying to steady me.
My head did hurt now, mostly because I’d shaken it so hard. I’d almost been able to hear marbles rattling around.
“It’s fine.” I squirmed out of his unexpected embrace.
“Where’s your car?”
Normally I wouldn’t even have my car with me. I can walk to my office from my condo at Harborview and usually do. But I’d driven to a client’s that morning and then left my car in the office parking garage. When I told Evan where I’d parked, he said that was a long walk with a sore leg, which it wasn’t. Then he offered to come with me. I don’t know why I said yes. Okay, I do know why I said yes. But at least I had the dignity to hesitate a bit.
We lumbered down the street side by side in silence.
Evan interrupted my private musings, laying a hand on the middle of my back as he guided me into the garage. We came to a halt in front of a bank of elevators.
I turned to face him. “I’m on the top level. Thanks for walking with me.”
And then I kissed him, just like that—a shy little girl kind of kiss, a geeky peck on the cheek. I slapped a hand over my mouth.
He froze, his golden-brown skin darkening slightly. This would be the moment where he would tell me he had a girlfriend in L.A. or wherever he was from. A girlfriend way prettier than me, who didn’t try to drop barbells on him at the gym or trip over her own shoelaces. He stared at me for the longest two seconds of my life.
“Hey, come on,” I joked. “It wasn’t that bad.”
He gave a peculiar little smirk and turned away, planting his hands on his hips as if he were angry or thinking hard about something. I was fourteen the last time I’d tried to kiss a guy first, and it had gone about as well as this seemed to be going. I looked down at the grimy concrete floor and opened my mouth to apologize.
Evan spun around with a fluidity that startled me. He caught me by the elbow and pulled me close. He pressed his other hand against my neck, so that his fingers were tangled up in my hair and his thumb teased at the corner of my lips. Then he ducked his head down and kissed me, long and hard. My hands slipped around his back as if they were used to going there. I staggered a bit as his tongue slipped into my mouth. When we stopped for breath, he pressed his forehead against mine and sighed.
“That was incredibly unprofessional of me,” he murmured.
He surprised me. I had suspected personal trainers were like tennis pros—that a fair percentage of them were in the job for the extracurricular benefits. I thought about Scott and how angry he’d been last night. He’d implied I was trying to bait Evan, and I’d denied it heatedly. Now here I was proving him correct. I’ve always hated women who try to make their boyfriends jealous.
“I should really go. Now,” I said. The elevator doors opened and I felt a childish tear steal its way down my cheek.
“Hey,” Evan protested softly.
He raised a hand again, as if he wanted to touch me. But then he drew it away, balled it into a tight fist, and clamped his other hand on top.
“I’m sorry,” I babbled. “Scott and I had a fight yesterday, and he left for his business trip in a really bad mood. He was so flustered he even took the wrong damned laptop, which is not like him. He never lets me touch his computer. Barely lets it out of his sight. He’s going to be in such a mess at his meeting in Mexico, and then he’ll be in an even crankier mood when he calls later.”
Behind me, the elevator doors whooshed closed again. Evan’s face twisted, a deep line creasing his brow.
“Do you have the laptop with you?”
Talk about a non sequitur.
“What, when I go jogging I should bring someone else’s computer? Not even my own?”
I laughed but he didn’t. His whole demeanor had changed somehow, like a panther sighting a wounded rabbit.
“Do you have it in your car?” He said it with a weird, disconcerting urgency.
“What do you care?” I was baffled and even a little alarmed. The kiss had obviously rattled us both way more than it should have.
“You know, I need to leave.” I thrust out a hand to keep him at bay and backed up a little. What did I know about him, except he looked hot in a muscle shirt and could probably wrestle me into submission with frighteningly little effort? As I stepped away from him, two silver-haired businessmen approached the elevator and pressed the call button. The doors slid open again.
“Sabrina,” Evan said, lunging toward me. “Wait. I need to tell you something.”
“Please don’t,” I said, backing away.
I positioned myself close to the two, fatherly businessmen, who eyed Evan with suspicious sneers. One of them moved to block the center of the elevator doors. He pushed the “close” button before Evan could follow me.

 

Thirty-Nine Again is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $1.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Lynn Reynolds:

Website: www.lynnreynolds.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authorlynnreynolds

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: A Cupid Kind Of Day, L.A. Dale {$0.99}

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L.A. Dale‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of A Cupid Kind Of Day:

Lily Appleby was down on love. Her dreams trampled on, her belief in romance shattered, she was about as happy discussing Valentine’s Day as a vegan discussing meat options.
Then, she met Damon in a cobbler’s shop, of all places, and over a near death incident with a hairy spider and a mix up over shoes, a bond was formed. For Lily, the attraction was instant and beyond chemical. She felt as if someone filled her veins with champagne and the fizz was overflowing. For Damon, it was just as strong. So strong, in fact, that he was prepared to go to all manner of lengths to ensure that Lily ~ the girl he barely knew ~ had the best Valentine’s Day ever and that her faith in love would be restored.

Or would it?

Will Lily fall hopelessly in love over a CD and a Crunchie Bar? Or will she choose NOT to love again?


Accolades:

“I loved this book. It was a quick read that had me laughing out loud in a few places. A great new twist on the Valentine’s theme.” S. Saujani.

“5 stars again to Lindy Dale. This author knows the chick lit genre and how to melt a reader’s heart. I simply loved this story.” M Bonnell

“This is the perfect story to read whilst curling up on the couch on a cold winters day or whilst sitting around the pool or beach on a hot summers day.” D. Kitchen

 

Reviews:

A Cupid Kind Of Day currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.8 stars from 6 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

A Cupid Kind Of Day is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99


An excerpt from A Cupid Kind Of Day:

The walk back to the office was only a few blocks and having a spare ten minutes ~ Lily liked to make full use of her one-hour lunchbreak ~ she stopped at The Cobbler Shop to pick up her shoes. Under normal circumstances, having a pair of shoes re-soled would have been out of her realm of comprehension, Lily was more of a ditch-them-and-buy-new-ones type of girl but the shoes in question had sentimental value. Lily had been wearing those pretty red pumps with the impossible heels on the day she’d been offered her current job, the one she thought she’d never be offered. She’d been wearing them at the bar the night she and Travis met. He’d complimented her on them. She’d also had them on when she’d discovered she’d won two VIP tickets, complete with backstage passes, to see Coldplay. Yep, those red pumps were her lucky shoes and there was no way she was letting them die.

Letting the front door swing closed behind her, Lily approached the counter, rustling in her handbag for the docket as she went. She stopped, taking in the pigeon holes filled with newly mended shoes, all fixed and ready to be loved again. A smell of leather and shoe polish filled her nose and she breathed it in thinking how odd it was that people never polished their shoes anymore. She still did. She loved the look her biker boots took on after a good spruce up.

Placing her manicured finger on the bell, she gave it a quick ‘ting’ to summon the cobbler.

“Hi, can I help you?”

A large hand swung back the plastic curtain, revealing an unidentified man, who sported the nicest shoulders Lily had ever seen ~ well, through clothing. This certainly wasn’t the cobbler, who would’ve been pushing eighty on a good day, but it certainly was a nice surprise. A very nice surprise.

The man was wearing a baby pink checked shirt, sleeves rolled up to the elbow and a pair of stone coloured pants with a thick brown belt. His forearm bore a tastefully small tattoo of what looked to be a girl, like one of those 1940’s pin-ups. Lily would have loved to get a little closer to see the detail but she was vaguely aware that she was staring and as her mother had always told her staring was very rude. Even if the object of the stare was hotter than a bushfire in summer.

“Can I help you?” the man repeated, running a hand through his sooty hair and making it stand deliciously on end.

“Oh, um, yes. I’ve come to pick up my shoes. Leroy said they’d be ready today.” She handed him the ticket with her order number on it. His fingers brushed faintly against hers and Lily’s heart did a little skip inside her chest. Okay, well actually it was a more of a high jump.

The man pivoted to look along the rows of mended shoes, which was fortunate as it gave Lily a view of his bum that she otherwise would not have seen. And gosh, what a lovely muscular bottom it was, the perfect ending to a pair of perfectly muscled legs.

Realising she was staring again, Lily raised her eyes to the ceiling and tried to look casual, cool.

Oh. My. God.

Was that a spider coming across the roof towards them? One hairy step closer and she’d be leaving without her shoes. Confident and capable under normal circumstances Lily turned to jelly when it came to spiders especially the big, grey hairy type. She was petrified of Huntsmen and no matter how many hypnosis sessions she went to, she was unable to conquer the overwhelming fear. Biting her lip, she watched the spider advance. She wished hot-butt guy would hurry with her shoes. Because she was either going to faint with fright or puke all over his floor.

The man’s hands scanned the collection of shoes and stopped; sliding out a particularly hideous, clunky, tan-coloured pair with the most sensible sole Lily had ever seen. He placed them on the counter.

“This them?”

With one eye on her eight-legged companion, Lily looked at the proffered footwear.

Oh puh-lease! Was he taking the piss or something?

“Uh, no.”

“Thought not.” A devilish twinkle sparked in the man’s as he put the shoes away.

“What about these?” He plonked another, equally atrocious, pair in front of her.

At least they were from the last decade.

“No.”

Lily began to tap her foot. Geez, did he have to be so hot while he was annoying her like this?

“What colour are they?”

Lily swallowed, the words choking in her throat which was at that moment beginning to constrict so that she couldn’t breathe. Her tapping foot froze. The spider was making its way down the wall, past the rows of shoes. Lily could practically see its big nippy pincers, its black eyeballs. She could feel tiny beads of sweat forming on the hairline of her neck. She was inhaling hard and it wasn’t from the sight of the guy in front of her. Though that would have been the preferable option.

“Red. Patent.”

Turning back, the man produced what seemed to be a pair of the extremely large ruby slippers and clomped them down on the counter, looking at Lily in expectation. Their sequin-covered toes blinded Lily and she blinked. No Dorothy, unless she was six feet five and a cross-dresser would be seen dead in them.

“You’re kidding, right?” she gasped, almost hyperventilating.

“They’re red.”

“They’re also hideous.”

The spider was by now crawling down the side of the shelf and heading towards the counter, and her! Lily’s skin began to go clammy. Perspiration trickled from her armpit and down her side.

“You okay?” the man asked.

Unable to open her mouth for fear she might vomit, Lily pointed.

The man looked around. The spider ambled closer, taunting her with its invisibility to everyone but her. Then it started to run. And it makes sense, that if you have eight legs, you can run a lot faster than when you have two.

Lily screamed. Her knees buckled and she stepped away from the counter grabbing the bench next to it and trying to shrink into the corner of the seat. She pointed again, a feeble gesture that by the time she’d raised her arm was utterly useless because the spider had moved.

But this time, the culprit was caught. With a move swifter than Usain Bolt could run the hundred metres, the man took a dustpan from under the counter and smacked it over the spider, squashing it into mud-coloured slushy particles and bits of leg. Then he took a tissue, scraped up the remains and tossed them carelessly in the bin.

The man brushed his hands together in finality. “All gone.”

“Thanks.”

“You look a bit pale. Can I get you a glass of water?”

Lily didn’t want to ask if that would involve being left alone in this possibly spider infested room. “Yes, please.”

Thirty seconds later, the man was back, a large glass of iced water in his hand. Squatting in front of Lily, he gave it to her. A tender palm came to rest on her knee while she drank. His deep brown eyes examined her face.

“Better?” he asked.

If only he knew he was making things twenty times worse by looking at her like that. It was like someone had taken to her with a Taser gun. Pulses of energy were shooting up from her knee to her groin.

“Much,” she mumbled.

Lily sat for a minute longer, enjoying the warm pressure of his hand and the concern in his eyes. Then an odd thought came to her. Travis had never looked at her like that, not even when she’d slipped on the ice in the gutter and torn the ligaments in her ankle. He’d just said it was her own fault for wearing those ridiculous shoes. Come to think of it, she couldn’t remember him ever being this sweet. Had she imagined he cared?

“Sorry to cause a scene like that. Huntsman spiders scare the crap out of me.”

“I kinda figured that. What’s the deal?”

“It’s embarrassing. Well, for me anyway.”

“I’m into embarrassing. I’ve got tonnes of embarrassing stories. We could swap embarrassing stories if that’d make you more comfortable?”

Oooohhh. How cute, he was willing to share his drunken exploits with her in the name of compassion.

“Well, I’d love to,” Lily said, glancing at her watch and seeing that she only had two minutes left to hike it back to the office before Jordy Brown-nose dobbed on her for being late. “But if I don’t get back to work in the next five nano-seconds I’m going to get fired.”

A Cupid Kind Of Day is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99

Connect with L.A. Dale:

Author Website: www.LADale.net

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/L.A.Dale.Author?ref=hl

Author Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/LA_DALE

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Playing Along, Rory Samantha Green {$2.99}

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Rory Samantha Green‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Playing Along:

Two Lives. Two Continents. One Song…

Then: George Bryce was an awkward, English schoolboy fantasizing about being in a band.

Now: George is frontman of Thesis, an overnight indie scene sensation. Intense, creative and self-deprecating, his childhood dreams have all been fulfilled – so why does George still feel so lost?

Then: Lexi Jacobs was a confident Californian high school cheerleader, planning her future marriage and a meaningful career.

Now: Lexi is searching for substance in a life full of mishaps. Cautious, bemused and rapidly losing the control she used to rely on, none of her teenage dreams have delivered and she’s left wondering, “What next?”

Follow George and Lexi as they navigate their days thousands of miles apart. Fly with them from London to LA and back again, as George copes with the dynamics of his tight knit band and loose knit family, while Lexi juggles her eccentric new boss, bored best friend and smother mother.

Even though there’s an ocean between them and their worlds couldn’t be further apart, George and Lexi are pulled together through music, and their paths appear determined to cross.

The question is – when?

At the end of this delightfully quirky, irresistible story, you too will be left wondering which of your fantasies are destined to come true…

 

Accolades:

“You’ll fall in love with George and Lexi…All the characters are so clearly defined. ””Green is an amazing writer, can’t wait to read more from her.”

“Love the references to music and the time it takes place. It’s hard to find books that will pull you in like PLAYING ALONG.”

 

Reviews:

Playing Along  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars from 6 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Playing Along  is available for purchase at:

 

Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

 

An excerpt from Playing Along :

PLAYING ALONG

by Rory Samantha Green

THEN

GEORGE, 1st November, 1994, Stanford in the Vale, Oxfordshire

“Your brother’s grown up a bit, hasn’t he?”

George holds his breath when he hears these words swoop past his bedroom door. He’s thirteen, but his sister is two years older and her friends are an enigma. They smell like grapefruit and cigarettes and layer mascara on their lashes until they look like pandas. Most of them have boobs. Big ones. He’s fascinated by the divide. George’s sister, Polly, has maybe said one word to him in the last two weeks and that was muttered in disdain when he had mistakenly knocked her make-up brush off the counter and into the toilet. It had floated forlornly in the bowl like a drowned rodent.

“Arsehole!”

But now there’s a chance of redemption. Despite his skinny legs and spotty rounded face, it seems as if one of the awesome grapefruit girls has noticed something in him. Something unique. He reckons it will take a very special woman to appreciate his nuances. His love of Grover from Sesame Street (so underrated – why did Kermit get all the limelight?) and his adoration of the most amazing music the universe has to offer – Bowie, U2, Portishead, Dylan, New Order. The woman who takes his heart must take his record collection as well.

“My brother?” replies Polly in dramatic shock. ”Yeah, you could say he’s grown up – into a first rate troll.”

The grapefruit girls giggle and their laughter snakes under his door and rings painfully in his ears. George bites his bottom lip, scraping his teeth against peeling skin. Another nervous habit.

“And listen to this… he claims one day he’s going to be in a famous band and be on the cover of NME and have groupies. What a joke!”

George, prepared for the inevitable cackle of mockery, grabs his headphones and his CD player and presses play with an urgency. “Fools Gold” by the Stone Roses floods his brain. He turns up the volume as loud as it will go and hurls his notebook across the room where it ricochets off the wall and slides under his bed. The notebook is filled with songs. George has been unpacking heartache from his sensitive soul since the age of ten.

His sister’s harsh words are never as brutal as the words he calls himself.

He knows what he wants, but he’s pretty damn certain that a boy like him is never going to get it.

LEXI, November 1st, 1994, Pacific Palisades, Los Angeles, California

“I’m psyched about the game tomorrow!” Andrew enthusiastically polishes off his second burrito, gazing longingly at Lexi across the table. She smiles at him mischievously knowing that she drives him crazy with her Juicy Fruit breath, her shiny brown hair, and her legs which have conveniently slimmed out and toned up since she started diligently attending an after school kickboxing class.

“I’m excited too,” she replies, playfully nudging his size twelve basketball shoes under the table. “I hope you win, so we can celebrate.”

Lexi and Andrew are the couple at Pali High. Just embarking on their senior year, they have been an item since the eleventh grade. Andrew first kissed Lexi on Zuma beach with the waves lapping at their bare feet two nights after passing his driving test. His parents had given him a convertible Mustang for his sixteenth birthday and when he drove her home, one hand on the wheel, the other holding hers, Lexi had a sweet taste lingering in her mouth and salty wind in her hair.

“So unfair,” her best friend, Meg, had complained the following morning. “It’s not supposed to happen like that. He’s supposed to drool, or run out of gas, or step on your toe or something. Why is your life like an Audrey Hepburn movie and mine like a bad TV sitcom?”

And Lexi certainly didn’t want to be smug, but there was some truth in Meg’s observation. Things just seemed to go her way. Her parents had raised her to believe in herself and face life with a positive outlook. Not that she was syrupy or self-obsessed. She worked hard at her studies and had an excellent Grade Point Average. She volunteered at a local homeless shelter, fingerpainting with vulnerable kids after school. She’d started up a current events debate club in her junior year and persuaded many of her friends to join. They now competed nationally. Oh and of course, she kickboxed and played on the girls’ volleyball team, and thankfully had the sort of hair that didn’t frizz on damp mornings when the fog rolled in off the coast.

Lexi had lost her virginity to Andrew on the floor in his bedroom on a Sunday afternoon while his parents shopped at Target. He had lit a scented candle stolen from his mother’s bathroom, and the smell of orange mimosa flooded the room. “Can’t Help Falling in Love” by UB40 was playing on his CD player.

When it was over (slightly painful, but not nearly as uncomfortable as she had imagined), he leaned on his elbows beside her and whispered in her ear, “I can’t help falling in love with you…” One year later, sitting opposite him watching him wipe guacamole from the side of his lips, Lexi feels in her heart that she loves him too. In fact she is sure, along with almost everyone else at Pali High who either knows them or admires them from afar, that they will most likely end up getting married. Lexi’s mother has saved her own wedding dress for the occasion, wrapped in delicate layers of archival tissue in an ivory box on the top shelf of her cupboard. “It’s just waiting, my beauty,” her mother has promised.

Lexi can picture their home now (a cozy New England style house, a few blocks from her parents, with whitewashed floors and shabby chic couches), two or maybe three kids (she really doesn’t have a preference for boys or girls) and most definitely a dog, a black Labrador called George. She imagines a fulfilling and creative part time job as well, maybe a teacher or an art therapist, something that leaves her with the freedom to be a hands-on mom. So what if she is only seventeen? It’s just a dream, but life has already proven to Lexi that dreams do find a way of coming true.

NOW

GEORGE, 1st November, 2009, Greenwich, England

“George… I love you!” On certain nights this professed love is yelled out a hundred times from men and women alike. Most nights it disappears into the roar of the crowd, but at some gigs a single voice will miraculously separate out and hover above the throng of faceless fans and George hears it and needs it to be true.

George is at the piano finishing the final chords of “Beyond Being,” a poignant ballad based on his teenage existential musings and a lyric which popped into his head one day as he polished off a carton of mint chocolate chip ice cream. The audience sways in time and cell phones punctuate the blackness like rechargeable flames. George hangs his head as the song comes to a quiet end, his voice wavering with a sad clarity.

Thousands of fans cheer and whoop in adoration and George looks up shyly with his trademark grin. ”Thank you very much for coming. We appreciate you might have better things to do with your Saturday nights, like watching X Factor, and the boys and I really enjoyed playing to you tonight…” This, as intended, whips up the crowd into an even louder frenzy as George and his band mates lope off the stage with a schoolboy charm that has captivated fans across the world from Denmark to Chile, and every destination in between.

George has come a long way from the corner of his brown bedroom. His band, Thesis, stormed onto the music scene with an unstoppable force after his best mate and guitarist, Simon Ogden-Smith, persuaded George to start up a Myspace page and stream some of their music. George, Simon, Simon’s cousin Mark, and Mark’s sister’s friend Duncan from Australia, had been playing local pubs in Islington and had been slowly building up a loyal fan base. But the Myspace page catapulted them into a whole new stratosphere, and with a swiftness which at times found George’s throat closing with unprecedented anxiety, they burst onto the alternative music scene and made their mark. Three months after being signed by a record company they were flown to Los Angeles to record their first album,Twelve Thousand Words. George Bryce, still a sweaty lonely teenager at heart, found himself surrounded by attractive, fawning women called Claudia and Agnes and Nell. They willingly offered their breasts to him without any pleading involved and he indulged in a whole new adolescence at twenty-two.

The band’s first big hit was a rocking anthem called “Grapefruit Girls,” an opportunity for George to get his revenge on those elusive females who had inducted him into the hall of shame. George became an unlikely heartthrob, a self-deprecating lad who wore T-shirts with Grover on them and gave interviews about obscure comic books and rare vinyl. His boyish looks, lopsided smile and thick shaggy black hair, once his greatest insecurity, suddenly became irresistible. Even America, notoriously hard to break for an unheard-of alternative band, lapped up the accents and the awkwardness. Critics either loved or hated Thesis and George made a point of reading every review, because no matter how famous they became, he never stopped caring about what people thought of him.

 

Playing Along is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Death Turns A Trick, Julie Smith {$4.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Death Turns A Trick:

A rollicking tale of murder, romance, and bordellos…

Rebecca Schwartz, nice Jewish lawyer with a few too many fantasies, is happily playing the piano in a whorehouse when she suddenly finds herself assigned to make sure a near-naked state senator escapes a police raid. That dirty job done, a lovely evening turns even more delightful when she’s picked up by the cops and spends the next two hours at the Hall of Justice. Could this day get any worse? Of Course! Guess who arrives home to find a dead hooker on her living room floor?

Handsome Parker Phillips, Rebecca’s new beau and the most attractive man she’s met in ages, is arrested for the murder. (Worse, she suspects he might actually have done it.)

On the plus side, another very attractive man is following the case–reporter Rob Burns of the San Francisco Chronicle, a possible ally. And there are other possibilities.

 

Accolades:

A lively romp of a novel … Smith shows an Agatha Christie-like capacity for making much ado about clues, concocting straw hypotheses, and surprising us, in the end … Smith’s crisp storytelling… and her likable, unpredictable heroine will make readers look forward to more.” — San Francisco Chronicle

“Funny and witty, with a clever, outspoken heroine.” — Library Journal

“Rebecca’s lively first-person narration brands her a new detective to watch.” — Wilson Library Bulletin


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Death Turns A Trick currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars, with 10 reviews! Read the reviews here!


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Excerpt from Death Turns A Trick:

The argument was getting loud, so I played loud to drown it out. I was looking at the keyboard, I guess, or maybe staring into space, I don’t know which. Anyway, I didn’t see two uniformed cops come in the door with guns drawn. I just heard a hush and then some screams. That made me look up. I saw them and stopped playing. People in the foyer were crowding back toward the stairs. Elena Mooney was backing toward the fireplace.

“Awright, everybody quiet,” said one of the cops. “This is a raid.” Those very words.

It’s funny how you react in a situation like that. I should have been terrified. I should have had visions of lurid headlines: “Lawyer Caught in Bordello Raid.” I should have despaired of my Martindale-Hubbell rating and started planning how I was going to explain to my mother. But I didn’t. I was looking down the barrel of a gun and hearing someone say “This is a raid”—a thing I’d done a million times in movie theaters. I gripped the piano so I wouldn’t holler, “Cheezit, the cops!”

Then the lights went out. I don’t mean I fainted; I mean it got dark. A hand closed over my forearm, jerked me to my feet and started pulling. People started screaming again, and one of the cops fired. I didn’t know if anybody was hit or not, but the reality of the situation dawned on me and I offered whoever was pulling me no resistance. We bumped into a lot of people getting through the saloon room, but it took about two seconds, I guess. I vaguely heard things like “Don’t panic” and “Be quiet,” which I suppose came from the cops, and I heard two more shots and a lot more screaming.

My rescuer pulled the kitchen door open and me through it. The kitchen window had cafe curtains, and there was a little light from outside, enough to see that I was with Elena. She dropped my arm, grabbed a flashlight from the top of the refrigerator, and opened a door that I imagined led to a pantry. But I was wrong. Elena shone the light on steps descending to a basement.

She gestured for me to go first, then followed, locking the door behind us. There was a tiny landing at the bottom of the stairway and, on the right, a doorway to the basement itself. You couldn’t see into it from the stairs.

When I got to the landing, I waited for Elena to join me with the light, but she turned it off as soon as she got there. I noticed a faint glow coming from the doorway to the basement. Elena put a finger to her lips and squeezed past me into the room. I followed.

The room was unfinished, but the plasterboard was painted. The light came from a silver candelabrum on the floor, with all its black candles lighted. Attached to two beams on the far wall were manacles at ankle and shoulder level. Some scary-looking hoists and pulleys hung from ceiling beams, but I can’t say I was in a mood to examine them too closely. In fact, it’s a miracle I noticed them at all, considering what else was in the room—a brass bed with a naked man lying face up, spread-eagled on it.

His wrists were tied to the headboard and his ankles to the footboards. Even without his customary conservative suit, I recognized him. He was State Senator Calvin Handley. That same week I’d seen him on TV holding a press conference about the bill he’d just introduced to legalize prostitution. At least he wasn’t a hypocrite.
Elena still had her finger to her lips for his benefit. She removed it and started untying his wrists. “Rebecca, get his ankles,” she whispered.

She spoke to the client, without addressing him as “Senator”—on the off chance, I suppose, that I wouldn’t recognize him. “There’s been some trouble. The cops are here, but the door’s locked and we’ll have time to get you out of here. Where are your clothes?”

“I think Kandi forgot to bring them down. We came down the usual way.”

“Damn her!” Elena finished freeing the senator’s hands, and he sat up and rubbed them. She looked in an armoire at the front of the room. “She forgot, all right. You’ll have to wear this.”

She picked up something black from a low chair. In the chair underneath the black garment were a pair of handcuffs and a square of black fabric fashioned into a blindfold. I figured it must be quite a trick to negotiate those stairs coming down “the usual way,” but chacun a son gout. Consenting adults and all that.

I finished with the senatorial ankle bonds, and the lawmaker slipped the black garment on. It was a floor-length robe with full sleeves and a hood, perfectly decent but damn-all odd.

“Shoes?” asked Elena. The senator shook his head. “Okay, come on. You too, Rebecca.”

She pushed aside the armoire, revealing a crude passageway—a tunnel, really. She gave me the flashlight and fished a key from her bodice. As she handed it over, I could see that her hand was shaking. “Listen, both of you,” she whispered. “Shots were fired up there. For all I know, someone may be dead or hurt. This is my house and I can’t leave. Rebecca, this is . . . Joe. I’m depending on you to get him to his car. Then go home, change into street clothes, and get back here. We’ll be needing you. The door at the end of the tunnel is padlocked, and this is the key. My car is parked almost dead against the door. It’s unlocked and the keys are in it. Take the padlock with you; we may need to use the tunnel again tonight. Just get the sen—get Joe out of here. I’ll wait five minutes after I hear the car drive off before I go back up. Good luck.” She squeezed my hand.

We had to bend nearly double in the tunnel. I went first with the light, the senator following with a hand on each of my hips. I felt this was not completely necessary, but I put up with it. It was the least of my problems at the moment. I cursed whatever insanity had made me comply with Elena’s request, and I cursed Elena for making it sound so safe.

She hadn’t exactly lied. It was true no one was turning tricks at the party. But leaving out a naked senator in the basement was a rather serious sin of omission, if you ask me.

Senator alter kocker took his hands off me long enough to hold the light while I unlocked the door. Elena’s Mustang was parked close, all right, but not close enough to avoid stepping in a mud puddle getting in. Since I had on sandals and the senator was barefoot, it was deuced inconvenient.

The Mustang snorted a couple of times, then laid back its ears and reared. We were in a lane that led to Broderick Street.

“Where’s your car?” I asked as we reached the street.
“Oh my God. I’ve got to go back—I haven’t got my keys.”

“Keys, hell. You can’t go back. I’ll take you home.”

“But my money! My ID! They’ll find it. I’ve got to get it. Turn around.”

“No.”

“I said turn around.”

“Look,” I said. “The cops don’t care about johns. They’ll probably just return your things discreetly. It’ll be embarrassing, but nothing compared to being caught traipsing around a bordello in that outfit.”

“Goddammit, turn around.”

A citizen likes to think her elected officials have at least a minimal amount of brains in their tiny heads, whatever their sexual proclivities. But this guy had fried eggs. I stopped trying to reason with him. I could see he wasn’t used to taking orders, except maybe from Kandi when they played amusing games, so I stopped being firm. I just drove, more or less in the direction of my apartment, and carefully, because of the rain.

He was quiet for a minute or two, so I tried again as we turned onto Fillmore Street. This time I tried to sound helpful and cheerful like a secretary or a wife, someone he could identify with. “Where can I drop you off?”

“Goddammit, young woman, take me back!” he shouted.

“You’re out of your senatorial head!” I shouted back.

“Where the hell do you live?”

He reached over and grabbed the wheel. I lost control and we skidded to the right, tires squealing like seagulls. I jerked the wheel back in time to avoid plowing into a parked car, and slammed on the brakes. But I overcompensated and winged the parked car with the rear end of the Mustang. I heard a siren even as I felt the bump, and I looked in the mirror. The red light of a police car was half a block away.

Before I could get my bearings, that fruitcake of a senator had his door open and his bare feet on Fillmore Street. Without so much as a “thanks for the lift,” he rounded the car wed hit, stepped up on the sidewalk, and took off running, with that silly black robe billowing behind him. In that context, he looked like just another San Francisco freak, only they don’t usually have a fine head of silvery hair. I leaned over and shut the passenger door, hoping the cops hadn’t seen him. They pulled up as he turned the corner.

The cop who got out of the patrol car had a fine silky mustache, and the rest of him looked okay, too. “Are you all right, ma’am?” he asked.

“I think so. I skidded in the rain and pulled too far back.”

“Let’s see your driver’s license.”

“I—uh—had an emergency. I don’t have it.”

“You’ve got your keys. They must have been in your purse with your license.”

“No, they were already in the car.”

“What’s your name?”

“Rebecca Schwartz.”

“You been drinking, Miss Schwartz?”

“A little. That’s not why I hit the car, though. I skidded.”

“How about parking the car over there on the curb, Miss Schwartz? I’ll be with you in a minute.”

I don’t do my best parking jobs in situations of stress, but I don’t think the cop noticed. He was doing something with his partner in the patrol car.

He joined me in a minute. “You got any ID at all?”

“I told you I didn’t.”

“We just ran this car through the computer. It’s registered to an Elena Mooney.”

“I know. I borrowed it from her.”

“Does she know you’ve got it?”

“Certainly.”

“Miss Schwartz, I’m going to have to ask you to take a roadside sobriety test. Would you mind just stretching your arms out horizontally? Good. Okay now, put your head back a little, close your eyes, and touch your nose with the tip of your index finger.”

“Left or right?”

“Both. Three times.”

I never have been good at silly games. I hit my nose three out of six times, and that’s as well as I can do cold sober. I know, because I’ve tried it a million times since. But I don’t have to tell you the attractive cop wouldn’t believe it was just a personal idiosyncrasy. I have to say he was nice about the whole thing, though. He seemed almost apologetic: “I hate to ask you on a night like this, but do you think you can walk a straight line, toe-to-heel?”

“I’ll get wet.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am.” He was really nice, that fellow, especially considering I wasn’t looking any too respectable.

The rain pelted into my cleavage as I got out of the car. I got up on the sidewalk, put one shoe in front of the other, and kept on doing it until the cop told me to stop. I wanted to go on, because I knew that line would straighten up as soon as I got the hang of it, but the cop wasn’t convinced. I’d meandered pretty far off course.
“I’m afraid that emergency of yours is going to have to wait, Miss Schwartz. You’ve just had an accident in a car that’s not yours, and you got no driver’s license and no ID, and you can’t pass your sobriety test. And the car’s got 200 dollars’ worth of traffic warrants on it.”

“But . . .”

“I don’t think you’d better drive the Mustang. Just lock it, please, and get in the backseat of the patrol car.”

“Wait a minute. I can explain what I’m doing with the car.”

“All the explaining in the world’s not going to convince me you’re sober.”

So I locked the Mustang while they inspected the parked car for damage. Then we sat in the patrol car, the cop with the mustache and me, while his partner made out an accident report. I never did figure out why that had to be done at the scene instead of at the Hall, but it did give me time to pour out my story.

I said I’d been to a costume party—which I had hoped might explain my get-up—and that a friend had been suddenly taken ill. I was driving him to the hospital when I hit the parked car.

“So where is he now?”

“He got frightened when I hit the car and ran away.”

“How sick was he?”

I lowered my eyes. “I don’t know. He was acting very strangely. I think he was having some sort of nervous attack.”\

The cop came to the conclusion I wanted him to. He raised an eyebrow. “Were there drugs at that party, Miss Schwartz?”

I said there were, and he didn’t ask any more questions.
On the way to the Hall, I assessed the situation. I was dressed like a hooker, so they probably thought I was one in spite of my lame little explanation; no one has costume parties three weeks after Halloween. So there was no use protesting that I was a lawyer without an ID to back it up. It wouldn’t do any good anyway, since they thought I was drunk.

I figured Elena and the others would be at the Hall. We could straighten out the ownership of the car and maybe establish my identification. Then we could call my partner to get us out.

But I wondered if she could. It might just be that Rebecca Schwartz, Jewish feminist lawyer, was about to spend a night in jail. I prayed I would pass my breathalyzer test. And when I got done praying, I mused on the dark and sinister forces that had gotten me into the backseat of a patrol car.

 

Death Turns A Trick is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Phone Kitten, Marika Christian {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Phone Kitten:

Think “Bridget Jones meets Nancy Drew”. Throw in a gig as a phone sex operator, an unexpected hunk of a boyfriend, and a client’s murder and you have all the ingredients for the perfect chick-lit romp.

What’s Emily Winters, a self-described “chubby girl with a sexy voice,” to do when she loses her dream job as a newspaper writer? Why, phone sex, of course. After landing a gig as a phone sex operator, no one is more surprised than Emily to finds she’s good at channeling a wild alter-ego named Peyton. When a client is murdered and Emily becomes a person of interest, she decides to do a little sleuthing of her own. Along the way, Emily finds herself entangled with shady characters and an intriguing new romance, all colored by her sharp-witted and often hilarious observations.

 

Accolades:

“Christian hits it out of the ballpark with this hysterical, quirky, and endearing story … Phone Kitten is laugh out loud funny from page one. I was immediately captured by Emily and her innocence, and had to laugh at most of the phone sex scenes.” -ChickLitPlus

“When I first heard of this book I was intrigued; a phone-sex worker turned sleuth? Sounds like the perfect mix … Marika is an excellent writer and I simply loved Emily … A fabulous book.” -Trashionista

“Marika Christian’s debut novel was one of the most fun reads I have had this year. Sweet Emily taking a job as a “phone actress” has to be one of the funniest things ever. And after chatting with Marika and knowing these phone calls were real, amused me all the more.” -Just Jump


Amazon Reader Reviews:

Phone Kitten currently has a Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars, with 88 reviews! Read the reviews here!


Phone Kitten is available for purchase at:

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Excerpt from Phone Kitten:

Chapter Two

ARE YOU ALWAYS ON THE PHONE?

GET PAID TO TALK TO GUYS FROM ALL OVER THE COUNTRY!

NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY!

We offer a signing bonus, incentives, flexible hours, insurance and 401k benefits! Call now for more information!

Phone sex girls get retirement benefits? Who knew? But there it was, written in black and white. The job had everything I needed. The question was, could I do it? Was phone sex going to be my path to success? There’s just a chance, I thought.

Just so you know, not only am I invisible, I’m also a stereotype. I’m a chubby girl with a sexy voice. When telemarketers call me, one of two things happens. If it’s a woman, she’ll ask if my mother or father is home. If it’s a man, he’ll try to get a date. I don’t know how they’re able to determine that I’m of age, but somehow they can and they go for it. My voice is a little squeaky and little breathy. It’s a love-it-or-leave-it kinda voice. Some people call it annoying, but I’ve always preferred the term kittenish. The people who love it really love it, and that’s three-fourths of the male population.

Could I actually whisper dirty words in a stranger’s ear? There was only one way to find out. I called for an interview.

The girl who answered the phone sounded a lot like me. She was perky, upbeat, and wanted me to come in that night for an interview. The thought terrified me, but my only other option was Walmart. I heard Walmart locks employees in the store. I’ve often wondered what would happen if one of the employees were pregnant and went into labor while locked up. Would they let her out? Would her supervisor deliver the baby in housewares and slap a little smiley face sticker on the baby’s bottom? Phone sex had to be better than twenty-four hour retail.

The company name was Dimensions. Located in the back of an industrial park, it was a little scary. There was a gravel parking lot with a dozen cars and only one door with a camera to capture anyone who pressed the call button. I was buzzed in immediately. I wondered, Why does a phone sex place need this much security?

I was met by Taylor, the bubbly girl I talked to on the phone. “Come on, I’ll take you in the back and we can talk.”

She wasn’t what I pictured. Taylor was a tattooed Goth chick, with every piercing imaginable. Taylor isn’t what most people envisioned when it came to “bubbly.”

Once we were in her office, she quickly closed the door. “Look, we talk dirty here. The language is sexually explicit. You have to say it all. Tits, cock, and fuck. Can you do that?”

“Yes.” There, I said it. I said I could do it. I hoped I really could.

She whipped out a headset, plugged it in, and said, “I want you to listen to a call. We get a lot of girls who come in here and think they can do it, and then freak out on their first call. It really pisses me off. You aren’t going to piss me off, are you?”

Taylor didn’t seem like the type of girl I wanted to piss off. I put on the headset and listened as a girl named Raven guided some guy through the “manipulation of his instrument.” Like a man really needs that type of instruction. There were moans, groans, panting—even a few noises I couldn’t identify—and that was just from her. He screamed once, and then it was over. Raven went on to her next call. It occurred to me that freaking out wasn’t going to be my problem. Trying not to laugh was going to be my problem.

I did my best not to smile. “I think I can do that.”

She studied me for a second and said, “I think you can, too. Here, fill out these forms, and write down the hours you want to work.”

“That’s it?”

Taylor looked at me. “Well, this isn’t the kinda job that checks references.”

That made sense. What could they really check for?

When I left, I had my schedule. I was starting in two days, and my shift began at midnight. I’d even managed to score weekends off. At the end of the first week, I would have my signing bonus. Now all I had to do was learn to talk dirty, and there was only one man who could help me with that.

“You want me to what?”

“I want you to talk dirty to me. I want to see if I can do this. I got a job as a phone actress.” Why was Dennis making such a big deal about this?

He seemed stunned. “You’re a phone whore?”

“Phone actress,” I corrected.

“Phone whore. You’re talking nasty for money, right?”

“Given your past, do you really think you’re in a place to call me a whore? I know all about the debauchery that is Craig Boone.” Craig Boone is Dennis’s only weakness. Not only could Craig get Dennis to do anything, he could get him to do it anywhere, at any time.

“That’s slut, not whore. You’re going to have to learn the difference.” He sighed. “Were there no waitressing jobs in town? Emmie, what are you doing? I heard Walmart is hiring.”

“This will pay more, there are incentives, and a bonus, and… ”

Dennis screeched. “I do not even want to hear what your bonus is. Jesus! If someone had told me you’d be asking me to do this, I’d have said they were nuts! I’d have said, not my Emmie.”

“Come on, Dennis, I need you to help me! I wouldn’t do it if I weren’t desperate. Ask me about my boobs.”

“The less I know about your boobs the happier I am.”

“Dennis, they aren’t really my boobs, they’re Delilah’s boobs.” “Delilah? Who’s Delilah?”

“Delilah is the girl I’ll be playing. It’s my character. I told you: it’s acting.”

“Is that what they told you?”

His smug little chuckle was starting to annoy me, so I talked over it. “I thought Delilah was a good name. You know—Biblical temptress and all.”

“Emmie, do you think the men who are going to be calling you are going to be interested in Biblical temptresses? Do you think that after talking to you, they’re going to reach over to the night stand and get the good book?”

“Can you please do this?”

He groaned, cleared his throat, and in his sexiest hey-baby voice, he said, “Tell me about your breasts, Delilah.”

“Dennis! Say it right! A guy calling wouldn’t say breasts. He’d call them tits!” I was beginning to wonder what Craig saw in him. Dennis was being rather unsexy right now.

“I’m in character. My name is Arthur Wuller. I’m a shoe salesman from Beloit, Wisconsin, and Arthur would say breasts. He’s respectful.”

“Artie has had a couple beers and is looking to have fun. He’d say tits.”

“You’re making up a whole lot of rules for my dirty phone call!” He cleared his throat and said, “Take two.” Like he was directing. Once again, he started in his sexy voice. “So tell me about your tits.”

I started to laugh.

“You can’t laugh, Emmie! You’re supposed to be naked, nubile Delilah, who sits at home all day masturbating. Start with the nipples. Tell me about your nips.”

 

Phone Kitten is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: FAMILY PIECES, Misa Rush {$0.99}

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Description of FAMILY PIECES:

Karsen Woods’s life seems charmed, from her hunkalicious boyfriend to her picture-perfect midwestern roots. Away at college, even the necklace she wears serves as a constant connection home – a family tradition created when her grandfather handmade each immediate relative an interlinking charm. Each piece crafted in the shape of a puzzle piece, each one interlinking perfectly together. But when the unexpected death of her mother turns her world upside down, she discovers there is a missing piece of her treasured family tradition, and her life as she once knew it may never be the same.

Addison Reynolds resides in her posh Manhattan condominium and wraps her personal identity around running Urbane, the magazine empire built by her father. In a moment of haste, Addison divulges her deepest secret to her closest friend Emily – a secret she never intended to disclose.

Could one choice, one secret, bond two unlikely women forever?

 

Accolades:

“It was so bittersweet realizing that I was at the end, I wanted more!”

“Umm, yeah, I totally loved this book. I related to Family Pieces on so many levels it’s ridiculous! This, my friends, is chick lit with depth.”

“If you are looking to read a good book, but don’t have a ton of time to read–this is your book!”

“What I loved about the book. EVERYTHING”

“I read it in two days {I couldn’t put it down!}.”


Reviews:

FAMILY PIECES currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 5 stars from 38 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

FAMILY PIECES is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

An excerpt from FAMILY PIECES:

PREFACE

One Choice. One Secret.
Choices are made every day. Some bear no consequence. Others have life-altering results. I should know. My mother made a choice. She kept a secret. Her intentions were pure. With every beat of my heart, I believe she thought keeping her secret was in everyone’s best interest. She thought the secret would be buried with her, never to be revealed. She thought wrong.

Chapter 1

Karsen woke before the sound of her alarm and prepared herself for the first day of the new semester. A nervous energy brewed in the pit of her stomach. In her junior year at Arizona State University, she didn’t remember ever feeling anxious over a few new classes; nonetheless, it was an uncomfortable sensation that she simply couldn’t shake. It burrowed deep down inside like the tickle one gets in their throat just before a full-blown cold.
She pulled her burgundy cashmere sweater over her head, attempting to bury the uneasiness with the giddiness of wearing a new outfit. The sweater had been a Christmas present from her mother, and she loved the soft feel against her skin. Maybe her discomfort stemmed from the strained conversation she had had with her mother the day before. Maybe she should call and apologize, she thought.
She dialed her mom’s cell number, which went straight to voice mail.
“Hey, Mom, sorry I missed you. I’m headed out to class, but I just wanted to say sorry for our fight. I’ll try you back tonight. I love you.” She hung up promising herself that she’d call again in the evening.
Karsen reached beneath her sweater and pulled out her necklace. Closing her eyes, she tenderly pressed the end of the silver charm against her lips. She took a deep breath and exhaled slowly, trying to release her tension. “Today is going to be a great day.” She smiled and repeated this mantra to herself.
Looking back, Karsen couldn’t remember a time when she hadn’t worn her necklace. She found herself fiddling with it often particularly when she felt worried or homesick, just as she did now.
“Some people may think it’s silly,” Karsen remarked once while explaining the meaning of her necklace’s puzzle-shaped charm to her boyfriend James near the beginning of their relationship. “Somehow it makes me feel connected when I’m away. Like part of a bigger plan – my family is always with me no matter where they are.” James had listened half-heartedly, more interested in unbuttoning her shirt than learning about her family history.
Karsen opened her eyes and glanced in the mirror one last time. Her dark hair fell just past her shoulders in a sleek-straight style that was both elegant and trendy. Even though she’d heard how pretty she was over the years, a twinge of insecurity always nestled itself in the back of her mind. She felt average at best compared to the flawless beauties flocking the campus and still wondered often how she’d landed a guy like James.
She dabbed one last coat of gloss across her lips and then, satisfied with her appearance, gathered her book bag and headed to campus where she’d arranged to meet Hanna outside the physical science building.

Arriving at their meeting spot, Karsen waited for Hanna. Hanna and Karsen had been paired as roommates the first day of their freshman year and had been inseparable ever since. Karsen glanced down at her watch. Their chemistry class was about to begin and the perfectionist in her hated to be tardy.
“Hurry up! We’re going to be late,” Karsen yelled, waving Hanna on when she finally spotted her. Hanna scurried toward her, immaculately dressed in a cream-colored sweater, brown hounds-tooth skirt with coordinating chocolate-brown knee high boots. Hanna’s knack for finding designer clothing on clearance, mixed with her natural beauty and perfect blond hair, made her the spitting image of a model out of the girl’s favorite fashion magazine, Urbane.
“Sorry. Sophia was talking my ear off. I couldn’t get away,” Hanna muttered, catching her breath as she reached Karsen’s side. Her cheeks were flushed even though the temperature barely topped sixty degrees on the mild January morning.
“What’s going on now?” Karsen asked, adding, “cute outfit by the way.”
“Thanks. Sale-rack, Macy’s,” Hanna said. The two girls set off toward class, walking at a brisk pace. “Anyway I would’ve been here on time, but you know my sorority sister. Just the usual ‘my boyfriend broke up with me over break’ saga.”
“What else is new?” Karsen laughed at the ‘on-again off-again’ relationship of their mutual friend, thinking to herself again how lucky she was to have found James. Certainly, they’d had a few quarrels, but they had never ventured anywhere near break-up territory. “They break up every holiday. I’m beginning to think he does it so he can welch out on buying her a gift.”
“You could be right,” Hanna smirked. “Anyway, how was your break?”
“Good. My parents flew back to Indiana yesterday. I always look forward to seeing them, and I hate to admit it, but I was kind of ready for them to go. My mom couldn’t stop grumbling about James.”
“What about now?” Hanna opened the door to the lecture hall, holding it open for Karsen.
“She still doesn’t think he’s right for me. We’ve always been so close. I just don’t get it. Sheesh, I don’t do drugs. I don’t smoke. I get straight A’s and I’m her daughter. Don’t you think she should trust my judgment?”
Hanna wrinkled her cute button nose. “You’d think. But, maybe she’s just worried about you. He did have quite the reputation before you two hooked up.”
Karsen shrugged. “Maybe, but she doesn’t know that. Plus we’ve been together now for two years. Anyway, who are you to judge? You’re the one who introduced us in the first place.” Had it not been for Hanna’s prodding, she doubted she would have ever had the courage to even speak to him. But thank goodness she had.
“Yes, I know. But only because I was tired of hearing how perfect he was. And you took it from there by spilling coffee all over him. How was I to know that he’d find your klutziness attractive?” Hanna said with a laugh. “Anyway, has your mom liked any of your boyfriends?”
“Not really,” Karsen said, still cringing from the memory of the coffee caper, maybe one of her most embarrassing moments ever.
“See? I’m sure it’s just a “mom” thing,” Hanna reassured her friend.
Karsen hoped she was right. She still couldn’t imagine why her mother didn’t like James. He was three years older than her, but what was three years in the scope of forever? He had already graduated and was even taking masters classes while launching the start of a more than promising sales career. The more she thought about him, the more perfect he seemed, which didn’t matter since she was unmistakably in love with him already.
The lecture hall buzzed with chatter as the eighty-some students settled in. The girls secured two spots together mid-way up the center. The seats were red cloth, slightly faded and worn from overuse, each with an old-style writing desk that swiveled up and across to write on.
“So, what did James get you for Christmas?” Hanna asked, settling into her seat.
“Not a ring.” Karsen’s voice bled disappointment. Even though she and James had never specifically discussed their future, Karsen couldn’t help but think that surely he’d propose soon. Their relationship had progressed like clockwork. The natural next step was to live together, but Karsen knew that would never fly with her mother unless there was a ring promising a commitment.
“Maybe he wants to wait until you graduate.”
“But that’s another year or more. We could at least get engaged.” Karsen bent over and shuffled through her bag, then pulled out a magazine page she’d torn out of Brides. “Look.”
“Wow! That’s an amazing dress!” Hanna grabbed the page from Karsen and examined it in detail. “It must cost a small fortune.”
“Only half a small fortune and James is making good money. I figure I can splurge. After all, you only get married once, right?”
“Yeah, usually, I guess,” Hanna murmured sarcastically in agreement as she handed the page back to Karsen. “Why are you in such a rush to get married anyway? You’re only twenty-one.”
“Seriously, have you met my boyfriend? It’s like I’ve landed in my very own fairy tale. He’s everything I could’ve ever imagined for a husband and more. Why would I let him get away?” Karsen met James when she was a freshman. As cliché as she knew it sounded, for her, it was love at first sight. His dark hair and muscular build made her knees buckle, but it was his dark espresso eyes that she couldn’t peel her own from.
“I’m sure your mom will come around soon. At least she cares. My mom’s too busy with her own drama to care about mine. I’m sure she just wants you to be happy.”
“You’re probably right. Guess I’m lucky to have a mom that cares too much,” Karsen smiled. “I’ll talk it out with her tonight. I can’t stand it when we argue.”
Before Hanna could segue into another topic, the professor bellowed over a small shirt-clipped microphone, bringing the class to order. “Good morning class. Welcome to Chemistry 351. If you’re not supposed to be here, this is the best time to exit.” Karsen tucked the picture back into her bag then focused her attention toward the front.

An hour later, Karsen and Hanna exited the science building and were welcomed by a crisp blue, cloudless sky. The sun beamed down, making Karsen wish her sweater had been a cardigan that she could shed. She felt a vibration through the front pocket of her bag and scrambled to free her pink-and-clear Swarovski crystal-encrusted phone before it went to voice mail.
“Hi, Daddy!” Karsen answered in an upbeat voice. The three-hour time difference made it three in the afternoon in Indiana, an odd time, she thought, for her dad to be calling.
“New Blackberry?” Hanna asked.
“Shhh,” Karsen said turning away and plugging her open ear. “Sorry, Dad. I couldn’t hear you. Hanna was talking. We’re just leaving chem class. What’s up?”
“It’s your mother,” he started, his voice sounding much further away than the two thousand miles between them. “Honey, I’m afraid she’s been in a car accident…”
“What?” Karsen’s face drew white as she listened.
“What’s wrong?” mouthed Hanna, her face immediately conveying her worry.
“Is she okay?”
“I’m sorry, honey,” Carl Woods continued on the other end of the phone. His voice shook as he struggled to form the words. “There’s no easy way to tell you this, but she’s gone. Your mom is gone.”
“No, No, NO!” Karsen gasped, slowly shaking her head in disbelief. Her eyes filled with tears, as a crippling constriction overtook her chest, causing her to a make a hiccup sound. “Oh God, oh my God, NO!”

 

FAMILY PIECES is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Daisy Darling Meets A Man, L.A. Dale {FREE!}

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Description of Daisy Darling Meets A Man:

What would you do if you opened your door in the dead of night to find a handsome man on the other side? Holding an orphaned lamb.

After being dumped by her husband, Daisy wants nothing more than to curl up in her pyjamas every night and drink herself into sleep. She doesn’t want to face her life. Then, one night, a storm brings a stranger to her door. A stranger who turns out to be the most famous rock star on the planet, Hawk Moon.
Hawk is nothing like Daisy imagined a rock star would be. He’s honest and down to Earth and in the short time he’s in her life, Daisy finds herself feeling emotions she hasn’t experienced in a very long time. There’s something about Hawk that makes her want to start her life over.

But Hawk and Daisy will never be an item. Hawk is on tour. Daisy lives in the country. She’s small town and he’s the universe. Their worlds can never collide. Or can they?

 

Accolades:

5/5 stars by Tobi @ Forget the Housework, I’m Reading -
I would love to see more of Daisy, whether it’s another short or a regular length novel. Probably what Ms. Dale wants to hear from me! I read this book in about 3 hours and that’s with interuptions at bedtime with kids and hubs. A definite must for lunch break or just a quick read!

4/5 stars by Lea81:
Daisy Darling is a loveable and delightfully normal character who could easily be a real woman, even your next door neighbour!
This short tale of how Daisy meets a very impressive man is an easy and entertaining read with a glass of wine (or two) while stirring a pot of risotto.
LA Dale writes with an everyday voice, making her stories easily seem a true tale. I hope Daisy has a few more adventures along the way!

5/5 stars by Jen Tucker
Such a sweet novella you will devour! Daisy Darling is not to thrilled with the cards her life has dealt her lately. Yet that all changes on a stormy night in the countryside when a stranger knocks on her door. L.A. Dale knows how to craft chick lit tales that keep you glued to the pages. This is one of my favorite short stories of 2012!


Reviews:

Daisy Darling Meets A Man currently has a customer review rating of 4.5 stars from 5 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

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An excerpt from Daisy Darling Meets A Man:

“Okay, okay, don’t get your knickers in a twist.”

Daisy pulled an arm into Jack’s sloppy grey cardigan and yanked it down to cover her pyjama top. Tugging the sides together, she padded down the hall trailing her finger through the dust on the console as she went. I really must give the house a spring clean, she thought, instantly dismissing the idea as a waste of energy. Daisy hated housework. That was the beauty of living by herself. She didn’t need to bother so much. After all, it wasn’t like anyone was going to see it.

As she reached the door, Daisy exhaled a sigh of exasperation. All she’d wanted was to wallow a little longer, have a glass of wine or three then follow it with an early night to try and eradicate the dark circles that seemed to have popped up under her eyes. She didn’t want a visitor, particularly at this time. It had to be at least nine o’clock.

With one hand on the deadlock, Daisy steeled herself for the possibility of what lay on the other side of her front door. She could hear Rex, the Border Collie, barking but not in his ‘go away stranger’ bark. It was more of an excited bark, the type he did when Avery came home from school.

“God,” Daisy groaned to herself. “It had better not be Mrs. Hanson again.”

There were only so many more of her neighbour’s late night visits Daisy could tolerate. She was so over listening to Mrs. Hanson gossiping about other people in town. The woman was a human version of a tabloid newspaper and on more than one occasion Daisy had slipped up and almost become the subject of the gossip herself. It wasn’t like Mrs. Hanson even came to help. She merely stuck her blue-rinsed nose where it wasn’t wanted so she had a bit more gossip to spread. Yes, Daisy had been a bit down in the dumps since Jack had gone. And yes, the house was deathly quiet since Avery had returned to school in Perth but Daisy didn’t need a babysitter. She wasn’t quite ready to jump off the bridge just yet, thank you. That was a damn long way down.
On the other side of the door, a sudden deluge of rain began to pelt against the tin cladding that covered the walls of the house. A gust of wind whistled around the porch and blew plops of rain into the sidelight. Rex let out a playful yelp. It had been like that all evening, ten minutes of downpour, then silence for the next ten.

With the knocking becoming more insistent, Daisy flicked on the outside light and put an eye to the spyhole. A blur of what looked like a black leather arm stood on the other side and from the shape of it, it definitely wasn’t Mrs. Hanson. Not unless she’d grown an Adam’s apple and started wearing sheepskin vests.

“Who is it?”

From the other side of the door, a muffled, yet rather manly voice replied, “Henry.”

“Henry who?” She certainly didn’t know anyone called Henry, unless you counted Henry who volunteered with her at the Visitors Centre each Friday. And he wouldn’t be at the door at this time of night. He was lucky to remember what day it was at his age. Plus, he was only allowed to drive in daylight.

“Henry ….” A thump, a small bleating noise and some more barking smothered the rest of Henry whoever-he-was’ last name. Then there was thud, like the sound of falling, followed by some of the most colourful cursing Daisy had ever heard.

Daisy rolled her eyes. She guessed she had no choice. It was bucketing down out there and the person on the other side clearly sounded distressed. She’d have to open the door. Turning the snip, she pulled the door open a crack and peered around it into the night.

“Uh, hi.”

A man was lying in a heap on the doorstep, unable to move because of two rather large black and white paws that had him pinioned and a rough pink tongue that was leaving a trail of slobber over his jaw. A very tall, very good-looking man wearing dark denim jeans and a sodden leather jacket.

“Rex!” Daisy growled. “Down! Heel!”

Looking upset at having his fun spoiled, the dog disengaged himself and went to sit at Daisy’s feet.

“Sorry about that,” Daisy said. “He gets a bit excited at visitors.”

Brushing himself off, the man scrambled to his feet. Drips of rain splattered from the peak of the navy baseball cap that shielded his face. The man’s arms were gently wrapped around his chest, cocooning a furry white ball that squirmed on the outside of his jacket as he tried to lift it.

“That’s okay,” he began, his eyes wandering down her body and back to her face, taking in the indigo blue of her nightwear and old Ugg boots that kept her feet warm. “Sorry. I didn’t wake you, did I?”

Suddenly self-conscious, Daisy pulled the cardigan tighter around her body. She was aware that it was old and ugly but it was comforting. It had Jack’s smell.

“Can I help you?”

“I was wondering if this belonged to you.” With a slight smile, the man leant forward to show Daisy the contents of his arms.
“Oh my God,” she exclaimed, her face stunned with shock. “It’s Marsha!”

The man raised an eyebrow. “Marsha?”

“Long story.”

Daisy had six lambs grazing on the land at the moment, affectionately nicknamed The Brady Bunch because their tight wooly curls ranged in colour from black to sandy and they loved to get into mischief. The Brady Bunch had been her favourite show as a child, so the name had been a no-brainer really. “Where’d you find her?”

“On the road. I nearly ran her down,” he explained. “Shit!”

He held the lamb out before him as a spray of yellow liquid hit the floor of the porch. “I guess she wasn’t too happy with my driving.”

Avoiding the puddle, Daisy stepped out onto the doorstep and took the lamb from his arms. Instantly, Marsha quieted as Daisy stroked the soft wool along the top of her nose between her eyes. Poor little Marsha, her mother had died giving birth to her a few weeks back. Daisy had been hand-rearing her with a bottle ever since. It was hard to believe she’d gotten out of the enclosure. She didn’t usually go far from the rest of the flock. Now she was nearly run over.

She cuddled the lamb to her. “Thank you so much.”

The man ~ arms held out from his body like a wee-soaked scarecrow ~ gazed down at the huge patch of wet spreading over the crotch of his jeans. “No problem. I think.”

“You’ll need to get out of those jeans, pretty quick. Sheep wee is a real stinker. It lingers on the skin for ages.”

The man wrinkled his nose and wiped his wet hands on a dry patch on the side of his pants. “You don’t say.”

Then they stood looking at each other.

Hmm, Daisy thought. This was a bit awkward.

With a command to Rex to get back to bed, Daisy stepped through the door, making to go into the house with her charge. “So, um, thanks again. And, uh, have a safe trip.”

The man, however, appeared to have some idea of joining her inside the house. Abruptly, he reached out, barring the door from closing and giving Daisy so much of a scare that she almost jumped out of her Ugg boots. This in turn frightened the lamb, which began to bleat in a most distressed way.

“Look, I don’t mean to intrude,” the man yelled over the din, “But I put my car into the ditch outside your place when I swerved to avoid Marsha. I need to ring for help but my phone doesn’t seem to have any reception and I’ve got no idea where I am.”

“That’s because mobiles don’t work out here, not unless you stand under that tree.” Daisy pointed to a dead tree on the edge of the boundary about three hundred metros away.

“You’re joking, right?” He gave her a horrified look. Clearly, he thought she meant for him to stand out there in the rain to make his call, whilst covered in sheep wee.

Daisy looked up over his shoulder and into the black of the night. In a way, she guessed she wasn’t kidding. She didn’t know this man and she didn’t want to end up on an episode of Serial Killer Sunday ~ as his victim. He might be one of those weirdoes who drove up and down country roads looking for lonely women and using innocent lambs as his in. He could be some sort of psycho who’d been watching her with binoculars for ages waiting for his chance. Marsha mightn’t have even been on the road. You never knew.

A huge clap of thunder sounded overhead as if to alert her that she was in danger of over-analysing. Again. Things like that didn’t happen here. This was the country. The worst thing that had happened in the last six months was when Gwen Thompson had lost control of her supermarket trolley with the twins in and it had run through the plate glass window of the gym, ramming into the rather rotund bottom of Mrs Porter.

No. This man wasn’t a threat. He was simply someone in a spot of bother. And Daisy was always the one to help out someone in a spot of bother.

“Yes. Sorry. That was a joke. I shouldn’t tease. It’s always getting me into strife.”

“Is it okay if I use your phone, then?”

“Of course. Come in. The least I can do is offer you a fire and a glass of wine while you wait especially after what you did for Marsha. I might even be able to rustle up a spare set of clothes so you can take those smelly ones off. I’m Daisy, by the way. Daisy Darling.”

“Henry Moon.”

Leading the way, Daisy walked back down the hall towards the kitchen, turning on the lights as she went. Henry Moon? She was sure she’d heard that name before. If only she could remember where. Maybe she should ask him.

 

Daisy Darling Meets A Man is available for purchase at:

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THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Kat Fight, Dina Silver {$2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Description of Kat Fight:

Readers everywhere will revel in this sharp-witted, well-meaning whirlwind in author Dina Silver’s hilarious new novel, Kat Fight. In her quest for love, Kat makes every wrong turn, juggling two men, one best friend, and her own deeply confused heart’s desires. Kat Porter is a consummate romantic, eager for her chance to find love and commitment. But after her boyfriend of four years, Marc, begins to grow apathetic and sends her calls straight to voicemail one too many times, Kat finally musters the courage to confront her so-called sweetheart, who seems more interested in dodging her than courting her. Though she’s no fan of ultimatums, Kat is at the end of her considerable wits, and lobs a massive one his way, completely confident that he’ll make the right decision when faced with losing her. He doesn’t. With radio silence from Marc, Kat’s lifelong dream of finding a husband and forging a family is decidedly on the skids. That’s when her childhood friend Julie steps in, forcing Kat on a blind date to help her move beyond the break-up. Not only does Kat botch the setup, she instead finds herself in hot pursuit of Julie’s love interest, Ryan Sullivan. A man who, in addition to literally taking her breath away, is the living, breathing personification of everything Kat wants in a husband. Can Kat connect with the man of her dreams without hurting two of the people she cares most about? At the same time, she must also contend with the quips of her beloved catty coworker Adam, her bi-polar boss Brooke, and a string of comic, unpredictable plot twists. All the while, Kat’s cheeky perspective and generous heart will leave readers adoring every moment of her journey while chuckling and cheering for the ever cute, razor-sharp Kat as she fights to land the love of a lifetime.

 

Accolades:

“Dina Silver does it again! Kat Fight seriously tickles your funny bone. Ms. Silver’s voice is upbeat, humorous and self-deprecating. A fun delightful read!” 

“It’s simply the kind of story that will entertain you, make you smile, and maybe even laugh at a few of your own mistakes.”


Reviews:

Kat Fight currently has a customer review rating of 4.5 stars from 29 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

Kat Fight is available for purchase at:

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An excerpt from Kat Fight:

PROLOGUE

I’ve always wanted to get married. Not simply because I enjoyed fairy tales and layers of tulle at a young age – and I did – but because I truly wanted a husband and family of my own. My parents divorced when I was nine years old, leaving me desperate for my own chance at getting it right. A chance to meet my soul mate, fall in love, and stay committed. A chance to do things my way. A chance for a normal family with no screaming, no cowering children and no more loneliness.

And while I’ve held onto that dream like a child holds onto a ratty, drool stained blanket, I have never really obsessed about the particulars that are typically important to a bride. Things such as the gown, the flowers and the color scheme never entered into my imagination. So on my actual wedding day, I was a little surprised to realize how meticulously every detail had been attended to.
There I was, all dressed in white with a soft veil loosely brushing against the skin on my face, feeling blissful and resplendent. I wore a strapless satin sheath and in my hands was a bouquet of dark red roses. I started walking slowly towards my groom standing curiously far away from me at the end of the aisle. So far away, in fact, that I was having a difficult time focusing on his face. The more I walked the farther he seemed. I paused at one point to observe the people standing on either side of me on that gloriously sunny day and marveled at them smiling in my direction. It was finally my day. My chance.

Feeling much more secure, I closed my eyes for a second before continuing. When I opened them, I was lying on the lobby floor of my apartment building trying to remember what made me lose consciousness.

CHAPTER ONE:
Marc My Words

I burst off the elevator like a racehorse out of its gate, and run to my desk before Brooke realizes I’ve taken a two-hour lunch. I managed to get most of the groceries home before rushing back to the office, but I had to make one last stop on the way back to get Marc’s favorite salad dressing. Since the only things I’ve learned how to cook in my twenty-six years are baked potatoes, potato skins, spaghetti with jarred sauce and tuna salad – my kitchen is not equipped to make much else – so I knew when I planned this steak dinner for Marc that I would have a ton of shopping to do. I’m sweating as I dump the salad dressing in my desk drawer and then grab my phone and scramble to the conference room for a creative meeting. Adam stops me before I enter the empty room five minutes late.

“Where is everyone?” I ask him.

“Dave cancelled the meeting,” he says, delicately placing an Altoid on his tongue. “Which you would have known if you hadn’t fled the building earlier. You ran out of here like I did when I had that phantom farter in my Bikram yoga class.”

“I’m making dinner for Marc tonight, and work has been so crazy that I haven’t had any time to go to the grocery.”

He looks me up and down as if he doesn’t recognize me. “You’re making dinner for Marc?”

I nod.

“You’d have better success climbing Mount Everest in those dated wedges you’re wearing,” he says and points at my feet.

“Thank you,” I smirk. “But I’m honestly not in the mood for you at the moment. I love you, and I will see you later.”

“Tata,” Adam calls after me.

I finish my work by six-o’clock, and after one last stop to grab Marc’s favorite beer, I’m back at my apartment ready to make dinner. I live alone in Lincoln Park, a city neighborhood just a couple miles north of The Gold Coast area, where my job, and the offices of Lambert & Miller Advertising are located. A brief commute is a must for someone like me who has trouble being on time. My apartment is a microscopic habitat that isn’t referred to as a studio only because there is a cupboard-like kitchenette with doors that separate it from the main room. Besides that, it’s four hundred square feet of home-sweet-home. The unit is located in a century-old Chicago hi-rise that’s two blocks from Lake Michigan; however, my apartment is on the opposite side of the building and overlooks the much less serene Clark Street. This is nice because if I ever happen to sleep through my alarm, I can usually count on the #22 bus to grind its brakes outside my window and wake me up with that clatter instead. I try not to complain too much because at eight hundred bucks a month, the price is right, and I’ve suffered through enough roommates to appreciate any abode as long as I’m the only one living in it. Simple pleasures like my own leftovers in the fridge, my own socks on the floor, and my own long, brown hairy mess in the shower drain.

I asked Marc to come over at eight o’clock, so now I have roughly one hour to pan-sear two steaks, make two baked potatoes (my specialty), rinse and toss the salad, bake the Pillsbury Crescent rolls and soften the filling for the cannolis, Marc’s favorite dessert.

Things between Marc and I have been strained lately. He’s been so busy with work, that we haven’t spent any time alone together over the past few weeks. I’m hoping this dinner will not only give us time to reconnect, but also give Marc a renewed sense of appreciation for what we have. When he moved to Chicago for work last year, everyone assumed we’d get engaged soon after. Including me.

I initially fell for Marc in college, and I fell hard. He definitely brought out the best and the worst in me. I’d never fought with any boyfriends before Marc, so the few times I would find myself screaming at him about something, I was really surprised at my behavior because I hate arguing. I hate listening to people argue and I hate being in the middle of an argument. But after years of listening to my parents rip each other apart, I figured those were the struggles you had to endure for unconditional love. That to have someone care about you like that, you had to suffer a little bit too. “Some things are worth the fight, Kat,” my mom would tell me after one of her fights with my dad. Then they divorced.

But despite my arguments with Marc, there was always a lot of love between us. In fact, there were times when I thought no one else in the world would ever be capable of loving me as much as he did, even my own parents. If my parents truly cared about me, they never would have broken our family apart. They never would have made my sister and I choose whose house we wanted to go to for Thanksgiving – or who we’d rather have sitting in the bleachers during our ice skating show – or who we’d rather celebrate our birthday’s with. Choices that made my stomach turn. Choices that made me soak my floral bedspread with tears. Then Marc came into my life and repaired my heart; he loved me unconditionally at one time and I was wise enough to appreciate it.

My cat Curtis is shout-meowing at me, so I tear open a can of tuna and dump it in his bowl. At about five minutes to eight I decide to pour myself a glass of wine and heat up the cast iron pan. I double check the recipe book which confirms to heat the pan slowly, that way, by the time Marc gets here he can have a beer while I finish up the meal. Small, non-threatening billows of smoke begin to rise from the empty pan at about ten past eight, so I lower the flame. At eight-fifteen I send Marc a quick text, also non-threatening, asking what time he thinks he’ll be here. At eight-thirty I turn the flame off and call him at the office. There is no answer. I call back five minutes later in case he was in the bathroom or something. Still no answer. At nine o’clock, I put everything back in the fridge, send another text and microwave myself a baked potato. At nine-thirty I get a text from Marc saying that he’s in a meeting, and that’s when I begin to lose my shit.
“Can you believe him!?” I scream aloud, although Curtis and I are alone in the apartment. And despite the volume, he sleeps through my outburst.

My stomach churns into a tightly wound mess as soon as I realize that, once again, Marc has simply brushed me off like an annoying fly buzzing in his ear. As I bravely prepare to call him for the third time in twenty minutes, I wonder which of his canned excuses he might use this time: ‘Someone is in my office’ or ‘I’ve got another call’ were likely candidates, but I am determined nonetheless. I take a deep breath; I pick up the phone and dial his number again. I can feel the blood racing through my veins as the line rings and goes straight to voice mail.
“Unbelievable!”

My throat clenches as I pace the dusty hard wood floor of my tiny apartment before sitting on the couch. Then I take a sip of wine, a deep breath and snatch the phone from the table in front of me. Tears of frustration began to blur my vision, but I remain undeterred and repeatedly dial his number until I hear his voice on the other end.

“Marc Nolan,” he says curtly, as if it were one word.

“Where are you?” I blurt out.

“I’m at work, you just called me here,” he says.

I straighten my spine. “We need to talk,” I respond swiftly, shocked to hear both his voice and the apathy in it.

“Kat, I have someone in my office and I can’t talk now.”

I wasn’t surprised by his response, and in that moment the memory of countless other unreturned phone calls and texts come pouring down like a hailstorm. Like the time when my car died in front of Costco and I had to transport a trunk load of unbagged household crap into a taxi because Marc refused to answer his phone during the Bears game. And the time when I cooked lunch for him one Sunday and he never showed up. I sat and watched cheddar cheese congeal on two tuna melts because his phone was on vibrate. But I always forgive him because I love him. That’s what I do, and that’s what he expects from me. Why shouldn’t he?

“Then I’ll be brief,” I bravely interject, hoping he won’t hang up before I get everything out that I want to say. A fire has erupted inside of me as I stare at my empty kitchen. “I want you to leave me alone. I’m sick of your bullshit, Marc, so lose my number and don’t ever call me again,” I say as my hands begin to shake along with my lower intestine. Not exactly the confidence-laden monologue that I jotted down on the spiral notebook in front of me, but as the words exit my mouth, a wave of contentment washes over me.

 

Kat Fight is available for purchase at:

Amazon Kindle for $2.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Dina Silver:

Author Website: www.dinasilver.com

Author Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/One-Pink-Line/235260919862358

Author Twitter Page: @DinaSilver

The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts, Francine Pascal {$1.99}

For Jessica and Elizabeth, the sweet life begins at 30…

From Francine Pascal, creator of Sweet Valley High and author of the New York Times bestselling Sweet Valley Confidential, comes the third and fourth novella-length installment of the groundbreaking, six-part, e-serial, The Sweet Life, continuing the adventures of beautiful blonde twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield and the gang from Sweet Valley.

Three years after the events of Sweet Valley Confidential, Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield are back in Sweet Valley and inseparable once more. But Jessica, now a mother, finds her marriage to Todd hanging by a thread. Meanwhile, Lila Fowler, reality TV star extraordinaire, embarks on a risky scheme that could win her fame but cost her everything. And the scandal rocking Sweet Valley deepens for Elizabeth and Bruce, who find themselves at odds when loyalty conflicts with the need for the truth. The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts and The Sweet Life #4: Secrets and Seductions are full of secrets, betrayals and classic Sweet Valley cliffhangers.

The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts

Jessica finds her marriage to Todd in jeopardy after she makes a terrible mistake. Meanwhile, reality TV star extraordinaire Lila Fowler’s fame-seeking scheme backfires in the worst way. And the scandal threatening to tear Elizabeth and Bruce apart only gets worse when the District Attorney gets involved. The Sweet Life #3: Too Many Doubts races to a shocking ending that will leave readers clamoring for more!

What readers are saying:

Having read Sweet Valley books for what feels like my entire life – from the Kids series, to the the Twins series, through all the high school and university books, I had a lot of anticipation when I first heard about this six part serial! The inconsistencies and outright strange shifts in characters that appeared in Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later dampened some of my initial excitement, but I have to say this book felt like the authors wrote it almost in direct response to the many negative reviews that Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later garnered. And one Amazon review for Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later is titled “Francine Pascal still hates fat people” and for the first time, a character who is a size twelve is introduced as not needing to lose an ounce. The laziness in editing that was so rampant disappeared, and errors were corrected (like Lila’s dad regained his rightful first name on the very first page) throughout. Obviously, there are five more to go, but I hope that this same attention to detail is shown throughout!

Unfortunately, Ken Matthews is a shadow of the character he once was – perhaps pro-football has led to so many concussions that he literally is no longer himself… But there is hope for his redemption at the end of the book… Elizabeth still doesn’t feel quite herself, either – some very shady journalism and outright lies were pretty shocking. And Todd Wilkins is supposed to be retro, so it is odd that Jessica and Elizabeth both are surprised by his old-fashioned ideas about family. There are some purposeful reminders of the original series, which is nice (the lavaliere necklaces!), and the book ends with the traditional lead-ups to the next installment, making it all in all a much more satisfying return to the wonderful world of Sweet Valley.

The average Amazon Reader Review is currently 4 stars {2 reviews}.

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