May I introduce: Heather Gray "Just Dessert"

Just Dessert
By Heather Gray 
I've got another great author, and may I say friend, visiting my blog. Heather Gray is has been busy releasing one book after the other within the last twelve months, but she's here today talking about "Just Dessert"

1 – Where did you get the idea for “Just dessert” ?
Just Dessert is the second book in my Ladies of Larkspur series.  Mary, the heroine, has a cameo appearance in the first book, Mail Order Man.  The goal of that single appearance was to remind that heroine how good her life really was.  In writing the scene, though, I fell in love with Mary and desperately wanted her to have a happy ending.  (Her cameo appearance in Mail Order Man is a shortened version of the prologue to Just Dessert.)
After deciding she simply had to have her own story, I began to think about what Mary's life had been like up to that point and how deep her scars must be.  She would need a patient man, a loving and tender man who could see past her sometimes irrational reactions, but even then…even if she had the perfect man…the lessons she'd learned from life might prevent her from seeing it.  What would it take to open her eyes to how beautiful life could be?
And so a story was born.
2 – I love the comment in your blurb: “When you believe that everyone who ever loved you, including God, has abandoned you? You bake a pie, of course.” It sounds so very American to me. Is that something you do?
Ha!  I do love to bake, but for me it's more of a celebration.  I bake when something good has happened.  When it comes to drowning my sorrows or hiding from life, I have two fail-safes.  Expensive coffee and a good book.  (For average days I settle for plain ol' home-brewed coffee and a good book!)  J

3 – Tell us about your current project.
Redemption, the third book in my Ladies of Larkspur series, is in editing.  It should see the light of day sometime in the next 1-2 months.  The tagline is "Murder, mayhem, marriage, and a horse named Mutiny…"  The "mayhem" part covers a lot, too!  Everything from kidnapping to creative torture techniques.  (Who'd have thought that forcing someone to bathe would get them to spill all their closely kept secrets?)  It promises to be a fun adventure with enough suspense to keep it interesting!
In the meantime, I'm also working on a Regency novel for summer release.  It has a touch of espionage, a straight-laced hero who would much rather remain in the background, and a feisty heroine who is running from a lying solicitor and a dangerous betrothal contract.  The reluctant hero rescuing the daring damsel is only the start of their adventurous story.  The working title is The Jackal and His Jewel.

 Dessert…the perfect remedy when nothing in life seems to be going right.
What do you do when you are the sole protector of four children, your brothers and sisters? When each day is haunted by disappointment, disillusionment and desperation? When you believe that everyone who ever loved you, including God, has abandoned you?
You bake a pie, of course.
What do you do when you find a woman whose heart is consumed by fear? Who does not know how to trust? Who scoffs at your faith and throws your kindness back in your face?
You eat a pie, of course.
Heather Gray is the author of the Ladies of Larkspur inspirational western romance series, including Mail Order Man, Just Dessert, and soon-to-be-released Redemption.  Other titles include Ten Million Reasons, His Saving Grace, and Nowhere for Christmas – everything from Regency England to modern-day America.  Aside from a long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys are her relationship with her Savior and family.  She decided years ago that laughing is better than yelling.  This theme is prevalent in her writing where, through the highs and lows, her characters find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her. 
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Purchase Links:!/~/product/category=662245&id=27798981
Seventeen year old Mary Fitzgerald stepped up next to the deacon, a beautiful looking strawberry pie in her hands. Today was the day she started taking lasting steps to protect her family. Pa was passed out at home, having drunk so much there was no way he would be waking up to come to the festivities at the church today.
She had been taking care of and protecting her younger brothers and sisters, the four of them, as far back as she could remember, but her pa was getting meaner and nastier with each passing year. Her brothers were getting angrier and more volatile, too. It was important to get them all out from under Pa's thumb before her brothers were ruined for life, sentenced to turn into men like their pa.
Hoping to find a man willing to wed her and take her brothers and sisters in, too, Mary had entered herself in the dessert auction at a picnic hosted by the church. The auction was one of many events at the picnic, but it was the only one in which Mary was interested. Only eligible men were allowed to bid, and she hoped to use the auction to find a husband. How old, ugly or poor – Mary didn't care as long as he didn't beat or terrorize them. That was her highest hope, to find a man who did not cause her to cower, who did not break her bones, who would not harm her brothers and sisters. She had poured all her hopes for escape into making this pie to help her find a husband. Harboring no illusions about love, Mary didn't even really care if the man was kind; she only needed him not to be too terrible.
As the diminutive deacon with thinning grey hair was about to begin the bidding, Mary glanced up. Fear grabbed hold of her heart and squeezed so tight she thought she might faint right there. Neither the sea of curious faces nor the beautiful blue Idaho sky drew her attention. Pa was coming, and he looked madder'n a hot, hungry bull. Mary couldn't move. Her breath came in short, shallow gasps as she tried to stay conscious. She was terrified of this man. They had been so certain Pa would stay passed out all day, that he wouldn't be able to discover their plan until it was too late. The kids had all dressed in their finest clothes and promised to be on their best behavior – no small feat for the boys – and now here came Pa, ruining their chance for escape.
The deacon had not seen Mr. Fitzgerald yet and was taking a big breath in preparation to start the bidding. His mouth was still open, sucking in air, when the bellow came from the back of the crowd, "That's my young'un and ain't nobody biddin' on her pie! I ain't raisin' no harlot to get paid for her favors!"

Release Day for "More Beginnings" (Beginnings #2)

It's release day for
More Beginnings
"More Beginnings" is the second book in the Beginnings series, which is very close to my heart. One reason is, that I strongly believe in Beginnings, no doubt there have been many in my life, but over the last 18 months I've fallen in love with the Levesque girls and their friends - so much so that I'm currently writing book #3 and have just jotted down ideas for #4. Watch this space.
This is what "More Beginnings" is about:

It’s been six years since Sophie and Mia inherited a house from Clara Bellinger.

Life is good for the now teenaged Mia, even if she does have to deal with a dragon lady for a teacher. But then a man named Darren Schuster shows up in Hobart. Mia knows something is up when Sophie and Mark cut their weekend away short and rush home in the middle of the night. When Sophie won’t answer Mia’s questions, emotions run high, and Zach, the neighbour from across the road, confirms Darren’s identity to Mia. Disappointed, angry and feeling alone, Mia runs away.

Zach had been watching Mia for his friends while they took a much needed weekend away. When the late Clara Bellinger’s ex-husband, Darren, showed up, bringing Sophie and Mark home from their trip, Mia is filled with questions. But it’s Zach who gives Mia the answers she’s seeking. When she runs off, he must find her. He enlists the help of her teacher, Miss Peterson, and finds out that the ‘dragon’, is really more of a kitten.

I will update the purchase links as soon as I get them:

~~ Astraea Press (Publisher) ~~
~~  ~~   ~~  ~~
~~ Barnes & Noble ~~  Smashwords ~~  Kobo Books ~~



Mia let out a mighty sigh. She had joined Zach at the front porch and sat next to him on the swing. Enjoying a cool drink, he asked her to grab a soft drink from the fridge as well. It was a warm summer day, and the air showed no sign of cooling down. A lot of people in Hobart were tired and weary of the unusual hot spell for the very southern Australian city.

With another hefty sigh, Mia raked through her long, blond hair and focused into the distance.

"Honestly, Zach, she’s a dragon. I’m sure she does that on purpose. She doesn’t like me. She thinks I’m spoilt."
The dragon was Miss Peterson, Mia’s high school English teacher. Mia liked school and enjoyed her classes. English wasn’t her worst subject, but it certainly was the toughest, with Miss Peterson piling on homework one after the other.

Zach sipped on his drink. "Hey, pumpkin, settle down. What is that supposed to mean ‘you’re spoilt’?"

She shrugged. "You know!"

His eyebrows shot up. "Actually I don’t know! Isn’t she Sophie’s good friend?"

Another shrug. "Kinda, I s’pose. They used to do the boxing stuff together, and since Soph’s carrying a baby, they go and enjoy cake instead."

Ignoring his laugh and the subject, she went inside and helped herself to cold lemonade. She opened the can with a simple click and took a long sip. "Man, it’s hot."

Zach seemed to ponder on that thought just like Mia, when she suddenly said, "You need to cut the grass, Zach."

He almost spilled the drink. "Good grief, thanks, honey." There wasn’t much yard in front of Zach’s house. A flagstone path crossed the patch of lawn, and he’d kept the rest of the garden as low maintenance as possible. But he loved sitting on the front porch, watching the world go by.

He placed his arm around her and drew her in a bit closer. "Have you talked to Soph about your teacher?"

She nodded. "Yes. Her reply was that for most fourteen-year-old girls all the teachers seem like dragons. She remembers her science teacher who gave her a hard time. She blames it on my hormones because she thinks," Mia snorted and then continued, "Miss Peterson is a really nice person."

He chuckled, which earned him a momentary glare from Mia.

Zach shrugged his left shoulder. "I s’pose she has a point."

Rolling her eyes, she moved away from him again. "Too hot for sentiments like that."

He laughed. She had come a long way from when he had first met her. That was six years earlier, and she had been only eight. Eight years old with already enough character for three teenagers combined. But he’d liked her from more or less their first meeting on. He had been helping the girls find some stuff in their attic when he had mistaken her for Sophie’s daughter. With hands on hips she’d said to him, "Do I look like her daughter? I mean, seriously." She had the genes to become a pretty girl and she was heading that way in big steps. The stylish haircut, a slight touch of make-up to emphasise her grey-green eyes, and always dressed in the latest fashion to compliment her slim figure. And she did have her heart in the right place.

"You’ll meet her tomorrow when you drop me off at the school sports."

Eyes wide open, he turned to look at her. "I will?"

"Oh man, didn’t Sophie tell you?"

"Apparently not. Or she might have." He scratched the back of his head. "I guess she probably left a note on my calendar."

"You’ll take me, won’t you?"

He gave a small nod. "Yup."

Zach lived across the road from Sophie and Mia Levesque. The sisters had moved into Sixty-Four Chestnut Avenue six years earlier. He had shared a hot kiss with Sophie, but in the end it was Mark she’d fallen in love with.

"Will what’s-his-name be there?"

Mia rolled her eyes. "Josh. Yes he will. Remember he’s in my class."

He chuckled. "Pumpkin, just because what’s-his-name is in your class ain’t mean he’s participating in a sports day."

"Doesn’t mean."

"Beg yours?"
She took a deep breath. "It’s doesn’t mean and not ain’t. You know it drives Soph mad when you use the American lingo."

He turned to look at her. "I honestly have no idea how I’ve survived the last few years with you guys across the road."

Checking the time, she stood. "Thanks for the drink." She leaned forward to give him a kiss on the cheek. "Eight o’clock tomorrow morning?"

Zach nodded. "Does your dragon spit fire?"

With her hands on her hips, she replied, "You’re not taking me seriously, are you?"

"I am!"

She tilted her head slightly. "Let me see," she paused for effect. "With your green eyes, athletic body, husky voice, blond hair, which, by the way, is in serious need of a trim, ... hmm... she might like you. But then again, your job as an escort might disturb her."
Shaking his head, he stood and took her empty can of lemonade. "Instead of giving me a hard time with my lingo, Sophie should keep an eye on the books you read. All that romance stuff is making you silly in the head. Husky voice." He laughed and went into the house.

"At eight?" she screamed after him.

"Yeah, I’ll be there."


Review: Janet Evanovich "Takedown Twenty"

Publisher: Bantam

ISBN: 9780345542885

My rating: 3/5

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.

It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.

With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.

My thoughts

Same old, same old. More or less.

Nothing much really has changed. Stephanie and Lula are after a big bond Salvatore Sunucchi, but doesn't get very far - and after a few failed attempts, even Stephanie gives up her job.

Rest is the same ... it's a toss up between Ranger and Morelli (there are a few good one-liners from Ranger in this one!), Lula does her thing and Grandma Mazur is in the midst of all.

And then there's the Giraffe. But I won't even go there. 

May I introduce: J'aimee Brooker "Train My Heart"

Train My Heart
By J'aimee Brooker 

I'm thrilled to have J'aimee Brooker as a guest today on my blog. J'aimee's another very talented Australian author, but her current book is set in the wonderful country of Italy ... so the obvious question was:
1 – Your book’s set in Italy. What made you decide on the European location ?
My family background is Italian, our family originating from a small village in northern Italy with a to-die-for view of the Italian Alps. The Italian way has always intrigued me—the passion of the language, the people, the history is invigorating and restorative for the soul. In 2012, my husband and I took our three kids backpacking through Italy, Switzerland and France and it was whilst visiting the family village and getting off the tourist track in Italy that the concept for the Capello Brothers series came to me.
2 – Train your heart is part of a series. Can you tell us a bit about the other books?
Yes, Train My Heart is the third novella in the Capello Brothers series and is based around the youngest Capello brother, Luca. Book one, Draw on my Heart tells Roman Capello's story and book two, Command My Heart is Dominic's story. Very broadly, the Capello Brothers series centres around three brothers living in Australia who departed Italy due to problems within their family unit. Each story tells of their own unique journey on the quest to find love. The brothers, Roman, Dominic, and Luca are assertive, strong, handsome men who are chivalrous and true to their Italian roots.
3 – You’re one very busy woman and a mum of three children under 9. What’s your secret to time management?
I have a full-time job working in the radio industry and have always worked in the media, so being deadline- and outcome-driven and fluid in my approach to work is a skill that I've developed over the span of my career. I work daily until 3pm, then pick up the kids and do homework, dinner, bath, bed routine, then once they're in bed at about 8pm I start my writing time. Generally, I set myself a weekly word count goal (usually between 3000-5000 words) and work toward that as opposed to forcing myself to work for an exact period of time because let's face it, sometimes you can sit and write easily and other times it just doesn't happen at all.

4 – Tell us a bit about your current project.
I'm working concurrently on two projects—both of which I am writing under a pen name. Both are romance, one is set in Italy (of course!), the other is a darker more niche style of romance. I am planning for another four releases in 2014. 


Being the youngest of three brothers has always been one of life's greatest pleasures for Luca Capello, sheltered from many of the hardships his family has faced and spoiled as the baby of the family.

His successful personal training business gives him the structure and routine he wants and Luca's uncompromising attitude to fitness coupled with his inherited handsome looks has always ensured a steady stream of business.

But, growing up without his father hadn't been easy yet from what he can remember living with him in Italy had been worse. Luca's uncertainty about his past has always bubbled beneath the surface and when his relationship with his meek-and-mild girlfriend Imogen takes on a new level of intensity, Luca resolves to explore his past in Italy and make amends with the past.

From the busy backstreets of Venice to the foothills of the imposing Italian Alps; Luca's journey through northern Italy proves to be a life-changing decision. Will he lose everything by confronting his father; most importantly the love and future he has in mind with Imogen?



An avid bookworm and creative and commercial writer by trade, J’aimee is the author of contemporary romance novels and novellas focusing on romance, travel, and suspense.

A creative and commercial writer by trade; J’aimee also authors novellas and short stories focused within the contemporary romance genre and incorporating themes of travel, intrigue, and suspense.

J’aimee has written for industry trade publications and lifestyle magazines, and is a regular columnist for several lifestyle magazines and lifestyle/travel websites as well as having a full-time job in radio and three kids (under 9yrs). 

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 Pulling up at Angelo's, Dominic walked over to the Jeep, opening Imogen's door for her, making her realize just how gentlemanly the Capello brothers were. She'd always thought Luca did these small things because they were dating, but it seemed this old fashioned chivalry was actually a family habit.

"Hope you don't mind Italian for lunch, Im" he laughed as they walked into Angelo's restaurant.

"Ha! Do you boys eat anything else?" she replied jokingly to raucous laughter from both Roman and Dominic.

"Roman, Dominic! Come in, come in!" exclaimed the older, matronly looking female who seemed overwhelmingly excited to see the boys. "Oooh… who have we here" she smiled, looking at Imogen then back and forth between Roman and Dominic, eyebrows raised playfully.

"Violetta, always so good to see you" Roman said genuinely, bending to kiss the woman on each cheek, "this is Imogen, Luca's girlfriend"

"Oooh, Imogen… A beautiful name for a beautiful girl. Where is your Luca today, we are still waiting for him?" she enquired.

"Lovely to meet you too, Violetta" Imogen responded warmly. "Luca…"

"Luca's flown out to Italy today" Roman offered, rubbing Imogen's back in support.

The expression on Violetta's face spoke a million words—worry, concern, confusion. She obviously knew the family background, Imogen thought to herself.

Redirecting her thoughts, Violetta turned to Dominic and playfully smacked him on the rear. "Dominic, you are too grown up to give ol' Violetta a hug, huh?" she said cheekily, "sit, sit—your usual table is waiting, I'll get Imogen a menu"

Imogen stared at the menu for what felt like forever, the words jumping and blurring on the page. It all felt nonsensical, too hard, too overwhelming.

"Im, god help me, tell me you're not looking for the salad menu" Dominic joked, trying to lighten the mood at the table.

"No. I just… don't know. I feel like I should've told Luca not to go or insisted on going with him" she whispered.

"Ok, first things first; pizza or pasta? Meat or seafood?" Dom asked, clearly hungry and keen to get some food organized.

"Just something light, Dom, I don't know what to choose"

"Violetta" Dominic called kindly to the older lady, "Roman and I will have our usual, Imogen will have the spaghetti alla Genovese please"

"Yes, yes. I get Angelo to start now" she called back.

Within minutes, Violetta walked to the table balancing a massive tray of toasted breads, olives, cured meats, cheeses and all matter of sundried and charred delicacies, along with two bottles of wine. "You get started on this, your lunch will be here soon" she smiled, rustling Roman's hair lovingly before walking away.

Imogen stared at the platter, how on earth could three people possibly eat all this food, she wondered.

Roman picked up a plate, nudging her and asked "anything you don't eat Im?". She shook her head and smiled as Roman began plating her up a feast.

Looking over at Dom who was waiting impatiently for Roman to serve her food before serving himself any, Imogen realised the Capello boys not only had impeccable manners, they were kind, generous and caring to a fault. How had they survived such a horrendous childhood and still become such wonderful men?

"Can I ask you both a question, a personal question?" she asked meekly.

"Sure", Roman smiled weakly; locking eyes with Dominic who even with his mouth full looked concerned.

"What was your father like? Luca only recalls snippets of information, he's told me bits and pieces but he's sketchy on the details".

"Im, he's sketchy on the details because he was sheltered from a lot of it. He saw, and unfortunately copped, a bit of it but mostly he wasn't aware of how bad it was" Roman replied quietly.

"How? How, could he have been there and not known about it all—?" she asked, confused.

"We had a system" Dom interrupted, "Luca got hidden, he was younger, smaller than us, and he wasn't physically able to take… as much as us".

"Hidden?" she whispered, her body filling with emotion—just how bad were things for them growing up, she wondered.

"Hidden. Under the bed worked for a little while until our father figured it out, then we'd hide him in cupboards, the garden, under the house. You know, hidden". Dom answered, emotionless.

"But you guys, your Ma—what about you" she asked, looking between them both and seeing the pain of the memories the conversation had provoked flooding their faces.

"We're all fully aware of what happened and what a miserable old bastard our father is. With all the trips we've made home to Italy, none of us have ever made the effort to visit him, that's why we were surprised that Luca wanted to" said Dom.

"Will he… be safe?" Imogen whispered, the words almost not making it out of her mouth.

"He's strong Im; physically he'll be fine" Roman answered.

"And, mentally?" she asked, but the question was left unanswered, hanging uncomfortably between them all.


Kelly Martin: The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe Release Blitz Monday ( #aprocks )

Kelly Martin:

The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe Release Blitz Monday


If Shane Davis had it to do over again, he wouldn't have gone out that night. He wouldn't have burned down the church. And he sure wouldn't have taken the annoying dead girl home with him.

Now that Shane has her, he has no idea what to do with her. He can't release her into the "wild" because people will recognize her (being a hundred and fifty year old town 'legend' will do that). He can't send her away because she can't take care of herself yet. And she can't stay because if people find her, they'll know he burned the church. Being eighteen now, Shane definitely doesn't want that fact coming out.

Unbeknownst to Shane, someone has figured out the girl's secret and will do anything to get it for himself... even kill the girl who isn't so immortal after all.


LIZZIE is on sale for 99 cents on Amazon. On Tuesday (1/21), it'll be regular price again $3.99


Shane jumped to his knees, but Lizzie grabbed his arm to keep him from attacking Drake. She wasn’t worth it.

Shane looked down at her, his face hard. “He needs to learn to keep his mouth shut.”

Lizzie opened her mouth to speak, but Drake beat her to it. “And I bet you are the one to teach me, right, Davis?”

“Shut up,” Cheyenne said, stepping in front of Drake. “You two just cool it. You’re acting like children.”

“He started it.” Drake sat back down on the rolling chair in a huff. He ran his hands thought his hair and sighed.

Lizzie tugged on Shane’s arm to pull him down to her. He complied, but didn’t seem pleased about it. He wrapped his fingers around hers, holding her hand. If Lizzie’s heart could beat, it would have beat out of her chest. Even though he was holding her hand, he kept his eyes on Drake and Cheyenne. Lizzie wasn’t even sure he knew he was holding her hand, but Lizzie knew and she didn’t try to let go.
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 Kelly Martin is a bestselling author of four young adult/Christian novels: Crossing the Deep, Saint Sloan, The Deception of Devin Miller, and Big is Beautiful. Saving Sloan, the Saint Sloan sequel, will come out in early 2014. The first of the Hindsight series, Out of the Blue, comes out in February 2014.




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Amazon Reviews:

"...It's been quite awhile that I have picked up a book that I didn't want to put down! Once again you have outdone yourself Kelly!

The Afterlife of Lizzie Monroe is about 2 teenagers from 2 different Centuries with two different sets of beliefs. Set in a small local Tennessee Town, Lizzie is an innocent girl, and a local legend, who is a devout believer from the 1800's and Shane Davis is a child of the current century who has had,what some would call a rough life, and doesn't believe in anyone or anything. Brought together by one deliberate act of arson, the two are brought together to teach each other that life isn't always as bad as you perceive it to be.

Is there more to the legend of "Lonely Lizzie" than what Shane has learned from a 2nd grade field trip and tales spun through out the centuries?

Is it fate or some sort of Black Magic? Are they star crossed lovers? Or just two lost and lonely souls meant to meet at this particular place and time to teach each other that there is more to life than what you feel at the moment you chose to do something you may find yourself regretting forever? Is the destiny you chose for yourself in that one moment of hurt,sadness or anger, the destiny chosen for you for all eternity?." Gina, Amazon


"Oh Kelly, Kelly, Kelly. You had me a bit skeptical with this one. An dead girl who isn't actually dead after 150 years?! I've read my share of paranormal stories...some good and some not so good. You got me with this one though.

How the symmetry of events in this book went from one instance the next was perfect. And the last half of the book literally had me parked on the couch with my heating blanket unable to move until I finished. And let's not even get into the twists in the book...just wow.

I want to say so much, but I won't for fear of spoiling some major 'oohs' and 'ahhs' and 'ohemgees' in this book..." DMC, Amazon

#Read New Beginnings before the #release of the #sequel "More Beginnings" next week (#asmsg)

"More Beginnings"  

published by Astraea Press will be released on 28th January.

But don't miss the first book in the series "New Beginnings" and find out how Sophie and Mia Levesque came to inherit a house in Tasmania by a woman they'd never heard of.

Blurb for More Beginnings:

It’s been six years since Sophie and Mia inherited a house from Clara Bellinger.

Life is good for the now teenaged Mia, even if she does have to deal with a dragon lady for a teacher. But then a man named Darren Schuster shows up in Hobart. Mia knows something is up when Sophie and Mark cut their weekend away short and rush home in the middle of the night. When Sophie won’t answer Mia’s questions, emotions run high, and Zach, the neighbour from across the road, confirms Darren’s identity to Mia. Disappointed, angry and feeling alone, Mia runs away.
~~❧~~ ❧~~ ❧~~ ❧~~
 New Beginnings

To believe in new beginnings is to trust in tomorrow

Review By Margaret (Literary Chanteuse) 

Sophie and Mark are an irresistible match from the beginning. While getting closer and connected to them individually as the story progressed, I couldn't help but want them to be together. This author has a way of endearing her characters and it is easy to fall in love with them. An intriguing story with emotion, love and hope. A very enjoyable read! I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Twenty-two-year-old Sophie Levesque has been guardian to eight-year-old sister Mia since their mother’s death a few years ago. Luck comes their way when they inherit a small house in Hobart. Problem is, though, they don’t know or have even heard of Clara Bellinger, the testator, and Sophie is afraid it’s all been a mistake.
As Mia settles well into her new school and life in general, Sophie is not only occupied by her search of what connected her to Clara, but also her new studies and the two men, who suddenly have become part of her daily life - Mark O’Connor, the lawyer representing Clara’s estate, and Zach, the hunk from across the road.

Chapter One

Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.


"Clara Catherine Bellinger."

"Who is she?" Mia asked.

Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old. Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.

Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet. "I wouldn’t have a clue." Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.

"I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details," he replied.

Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief. Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education? With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, "Why not?"

He stared at her. "Pardon me?"

Sitting up straight, she repeated, "Why not? Why aren’t there any further details?"

He looked uneasy, but she didn’t care. She needed to know. Sophie had received a call from the lawyer a week earlier, and he’d told her about an

inheritance. He’d given her details on where to pick up tickets to Hobart. Some legality, he had said. She needed to come in and sign documents for the transfer of ownership.

"Ms. Bellinger was one of the partner’s clients. I was only given the details shortly after the client’s death."

Sophie drew in her lips. Her eyes darted over to the window as she took a few deep breaths, inwardly calming herself. Nothing had ever been easy in her life. "Why isn’t the partner here?"

He took a deep breath. "Retired."
As she pondered on that for a moment, she began to think about what life could be like with this inheritance. Different. Better. Another sigh escaped as she returned her gaze to the man behind the desk. "You can’t just leave your assets to just anybody, can you?"

"Miss Lever—"

"Levesque," she helped him.

Their eyes met.

"Are you refusing the bequest?" he asked hesitantly, and she clearly noticed how one of his eyebrows arched upward.

Staring blankly with her mouth open, she could feel the panic running through her veins with every thump of her erratic heartbeat. An uncomfortable silence fell over them for a moment. Then she quickly said, "No. No, of course not. We’re accepting." She turned to look at her younger sister. "We’re actually looking forward to seeing it."

And with one swift movement, he stood and went to a little cupboard near the window and retrieved a bunch of keys. "Would you like me to take you there?"

Still feeling that rush within her, Sophie took Mia’s hand and inclined her head in answer. "Is it far?" Her voice sounded tired. Even to herself. It had been a long day already. She stood and thinking how tired she was, Sophie placed her arm around Mia, who was probably exhausted.

"No, not at all. Five to ten minute drive, I’d say."
"I still don’t understand. Why us?" Sophie asked quietly, meeting his gaze and, for the first time, actually taking in his icy-blue eyes. He was very attractive. Too attractive for a boring lawyer. His face was tanned by wind and sun, and there always seemed to be a hint of a smile on his face. His blond curling hair was cut short. Her gaze fixed back on his mouth. Blushing, she quickly looked away.

The attorney turned to them. He scratched the back of his head. "Ma’am, what I know is that both of you are in the will. What I know is that I was supposed to fly you down here to officially read you the will. What I know is that I’m supposed to hand over the keys to you, and to let you know that your expenses are covered for the next twenty-four months. I did not know Ms. Bellinger, as one of the retired partners wrote up the will. I do not know who she was or in which way she was connected to you. I assumed she was a distant relative."

Sophie took her sister’s hand as she thought about his last comment. Distant relative? Her mother would have at least mentioned her once. She sighed and tried to understand, not the circumstances that had brought her there, but the fact that the attorney just didn’t know. "Oh well, let’s go then."

He pinched his nose with his thumb and index finger and took a deep breath. "Okay. Look, Miss Lever—"

"Levesque," Sophie helped him again. This time somewhat more firmly.

Running his thumb over his eyebrow, he stepped closer, but not so close as to be intimidating. "I’m sorry. It’s been one extraordinary week," he said with his voice just above a whisper. "Once I get back I’ll check with the partners here to see whether anybody knows more about it."
One extraordinary week? His remark irked her. In fact it was downright annoying. Holding Mia even closer to her side, she lifted her finger and pointed at him. "No offence, Mr. O’Connor, but it has been quite a week for us as well, and I was prepared to answer all your questions. I have one simple question, and you don’t know. Wouldn’t there be something in the file?" Sophie was a kind person.

Kindness was her middle name, but she wouldn’t have got that far in life if she hadn’t watched some of those nasty actresses on television and copied them. And the stare. Sophie met his surprised frown dead-on.

He frowned and seemed taken aback by her words. "No offence taken." And then he let out a deep breath. "You’re right. I apologise. As I said, I’ll find out details and let you know."

"Thank you, Mr. O’Connor," she replied as she blew out a breath.

"What about our stuff?" Mia whispered to Sophie.

Sophie moved her head to look down at her sister, but before she had a chance to say anything, he beat her to it. "What stuff?" he asked as he opened the door.

"Considering what we inherited here, we brought all our things," Sophie explained without looking at him.

The attorney stopped in his tracks. "All, as in all your clothes?"

Sophie’s eyes met his. She emitted a small sigh, but tried to keep her composure. It was something she had learnt over the last few years. Standing straight, she corrected him. "All, as in all our belongings."

They stepped outside the building and followed Mr. O’Connor with their suitcases. Two teenage boys walked past them, eager to get the attention of some girls across the road. Aware of the attention, the girls covered their mouths with their hands and broke into giggles. Sophie’s stomach churned. So many things she had missed out on in life. But it was going to be better from now on, she reminded herself, and straightened up as she followed Mr. O’Connor.


Review: Jen Talty "In Two Weeks"


Publisher: Cool Gus Publishing

ISBN: 9781621250326

My rating: 3/5

Ryan O'Conner has the world at her fingertips. She's strong, feisty and has everything she's ever wanted, except the right man. Jared Blake represents everything Ryan doesn't want. He's controlling, overbearing and now he's moving. Having had a crush on him for years, Ryan decides to seduce Jared. A goodbye thing. However, her plans change when someone starts stalking her. With her life on the line, she turns to Jared for protection and finds the not so perfect man is the perfect man for her.Restless and bored, NY State Trooper Jared Blake accepts a transfer from his position in Lake George, NY. Jared craves the rush of adrenaline and his current post is too tame. As soon as he moves, his career will take off, but his plans are put on hold when a friend is threatened by a stalker. Jared has exactly two weeks to find out who is behind these treats.

And in two weeks, Jared will lose is heart forever... (

My thoughts
I have to admit, I don't really know how to approach this. It was an ok'ish book, but it wasn't really a page turner.
Ryan (a woman!) has a stalker, her very good friend Jared is a state trooper and is "on the case". They've known each other since early childhood, but now that Jared is leaving "in two weeks" for another position, Ryan's wish is to sleep with him "just once".
The story is interesting as such and has a few interesting twists in it, but there were too many characters, not properly introduced and half way through the book I was lost. The romance between Ryan and Jared was the "conflict" in the story, but the constant change of minds and stubborn characters were -Imho- overdone to the point that I wasn't able to follow whether at that page they liked / disliked each other.

Although I admired the writing, I have to admit, quite often I had to re-read a passage to understand what was said.

I wouldn't mind to read more of the series, but I'm not sure whether I have the patience.

May I introduce: Susan Horsnell "Blind Achievement"

Blind Achievement
Susan Horsnell

Please make Susan Horsnell feel very welcome! She's another great Australian Author, who ... yes she does admit it herself ... prefers to write about Indians and Cowboys :-)

But the main character in her current book is neither. He's blind. And just from reading and preparing this post, I know what I will add to my TBR list! I hope you all will too.

– Your story is set in the US. What made your choose that location?

My books are set in the US, mostly Texas, as I feel I have a real affinity for the state. I must have live a previous life there I think. I wanted to write using Indians, Cowboys, Marshalls, Sheriff's and Ranches. Although Australia has a fascinating past, it doesn't have this sort of history. I grew up watching John Wayne and Audi Murphy cowboy movies with my dad and absolutely loved them. I guess they fired my imagination.


– You’re a retired nurse. How much of your experience do you “use” in your books?

I haven't used much at all until Blind Acceptance and Blind Achievement. In my other books I drew on a little of my knowledge for accidents/illness but with the 2 Blind books, I drew on my experience gained from working with the blind. Some of the teaching methods in these books are how we were taught. By understanding blindness, we could empathise with the individuals we worked with. It was heartbreaking at times, for the families as well as newly blinded victims. I have tried to convey the denial and anger in my books. I have also attempted to show, the blind are just as mentally alert as someone who can see, and capable of achieving great things. These books were set in the 1800s in the US because Mary Ingalls had made the Boston School for the Blind famous, schools for the blind were much more prevalent there than here in Australia at this time.


– Tell us a bit about your current project.

My current project is co-ordinating an anthology with 16 of the very best Western Romance authors in the US, Canada and Australia. The short stories will be an example of our individual writing and hopefully readers will be encouraged to read our other novels. The anthology stories will all have a Western Romance theme but that is where the likeness stops. We have stories set in the past, present, paranormal etc. I have already received a number of the stories and had the privilege of reading them, they are terrific. At $1.99 this book will be terrific value.
The sequel to the Award Winning – Blind Acceptance.
Phillip Johnson has been blind since the age of six after sustaining a head injury in a wagon accident.

Growing up on a ranch outside of Austin hasn't been easy for the young man but he has thrived with the loving help of his Step-Mother, Rachel, and the faithful support of his father, Luke.
At 18 years old, he has made the decision to head to Macarthur to attend the Wyoming College for the Blind. He plans to study Civil Government Law and Political Economics.
It is here that he meets Belinda and he falls deeply in love with her. Belinda hides a dark and dangerous secret.
A ruthless man is obsessed with owning her. This threat has the power to ruin their relationship and put their lives in jeopardy.
Can they overcome such obstacles and find happiness together?
I grew up in the Western Suburbs of Sydney in the 50's and 60's.

My parents are originally from the Newcastle-Under-Lyme area of England and came to Australia in 1952 as £10 poms. They came under a migration scheme to help Australia with workers.
My father was a Painter and Decorator and I was the eldest of five children.
I met my husband, Robert, in 1973 and we married in March 1974; we were both 18 years old. We have two wonderful sons, gorgeous daughters-in-law and five incredible grandchildren. We have been extremely blessed.
I was a Nurse, a career that spanned more than 35 years. During my career I specialised in caring for people with Alzheimer’s type Dementia, an area that fascinates me despite how heartbreaking it can be. My dear father-in-law is unfortunately afflicted with this disease and now resides in a Nursing Home. In the not too distant future I am hoping to pen a novel incorporating some of the stories I have heard from these amazing people. Part of my career was with the blind and I also cared for severely disabled children for a while too.
When I retired 4 years ago I decided it was time to get the stories out of my head and onto paper. From there I just hoped my stories were interesting and well written enough to attract readers.
It is difficult being a new author now that anyone can publish a book. I can understand readers’ reticence to read Indie authors but hopefully they will give people like me a chance. I find as an avid reader, you can be pleasantly surprised most of the time. I can’t imagine sticking to just one or two authors and just because an author has a publisher doesn’t make them good. I have certainly read some terrible books which have been published by some of the largest companies.
I do hope readers enjoy my books and would love them to leave reviews.

Blind Achievement :

Six months had passed and Phillip was thoroughly miserable. Teachers favoured him for his good nature and excellent grades while other students taunted him mercilessly for it. He thanked the Lord daily for his friendship with Daniel. Without him school would be unbearable and he would be on the next train back to the ranch.
He was now familiar with the classrooms and labyrinth of hallways so he was able to get around if Daniel was required elsewhere.
It had been a long day and he tapped his way back to his room. He was startled from his thoughts by an ear piercing scream. Coming to an abrupt stop he listened. Sounds of a scuffle and banging came from what he knew was a classroom ahead. He approached and threw open the door without hesitation.
“What the hell? Get out!” a gruff voice bellowed.
“Please help me.” A girl’s agonized plea tore at his heart.
“What’s going on?” Phillip demanded to know.
“None of your damned business, half-wit. Get out.” Phillip could not place the voice.
“Let me go,” she screamed again.
“Let the young lady go.” Phillip said angrily. “Come here to me Miss.”
He could hear her struggling to get free.
“I have asked you to let her go. I will not ask again.” Phillip loaded his voice with menace.
The man guffawed. “Do you really think a blindy like you can stop me?”
Phillip used the man’s voice to help him move closer.
The girl took advantage of her captor being distracted and bit down hard on his arm. He yelped with pain, and she wrenched free of his grip and launched herself into Phillip’s arms.
The air rushed from his lungs as she collided with his chest. He wrapped his arm protectively around her trembling body as she sobbed into his shirt.
Phillip lifted his cane as a warning for the man not to approach. “I am taking her to speak with Mr Carver. I expect he will also want to speak with you.”
The girl in his arms continued to tremble and sob.
“Come with me. We’ll ensure this never happens again,” he told the girl gently.
She moved from his grasp and wiped the tears from her eyes. Mr Collins, I will make you sorry for this,” she promised bravely.
“As if Mr Carver would believe you over a teacher he respects and trusts. I will tell him you made advances towards me,” he snarled.
The girl grasped hold of Phillip’s hand. Her obvious terror fired his anger.
“You forget, sir. I was here.”
“You’re blind,” he sneered. “How would you know what was happening?”
“A girl doesn’t scream like that if she is a willing participant.” Phillip tightened his hold on her hand and pulled her from the room.
“We will check Mr Carver’s office first. He often works late so he may not have gone down to his cottage yet.” Phillip led her back down the hall he had just come from.
“What is your name?” he asked.
“I’m Belinda. Thank you for rescuing me.”
“My name is Phillip and you are welcome. I’m just happy I came along when I did. What happened?”