Photo of the day, day 280

if you saw yesterday’s picture, you know why she’s sitting in front of the fridge looking at me pitifully. starving puppy!

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SUNSHINE, SELFIES, & SMUGGLERS a new #cozymystery from Louise Stevens – out today!

I am just thrilled to be able to present to you -once again on her release day! – one of my favorite authors, Louise Stevens, and her newest Port Sunset Mystery, SUNSHINE, SELFIES, & SMUGGLERS!

It’s a tradition around here that Louise and her doppelganger, Donna Simonetta, visit me on their books’ release day and it’s always a supreme pleasure for me.

So, let’s get to it….. here’s Louise and the Port Sunset gang!

Smuggling, social media sensations, and shootings…just another summer in Port Sunset

Solving mysteries with my fun-loving grandmother Lulu, her friends, and Spud the corgi is my side hustle. By day I’m Millie Wentworth the assistant general manager of the swanky Gulf Palms Resort, so you wouldn’t think sleuthing would be in my skill set. But lately it has been, and since summer is our busy season in Port Sunset I’d hoped it would be murder-free. Is that too much to ask?

            Apparently so, because when social influencer Merry Marissa’s yacht cruises into town, we’re suddenly up to our necks in smuggling, stalkers, and slaughter. I have more suspects than the Tipsy Turtle has mai tais. And I’m without my sleuthing team, because Lulu’s Crew are busy going viral to raise money for animal charities.

            Can I unravel the mystery and find the killer before Lulu’s Crew and I become the  next victims?

“I’m no expert, but I don’t think that’s how you do downward dog. What the

ever-loving fudge is she doing?” I watched a woman in a bikini roughly the size of four microchips strung together with dental floss as she posed on all fours on the beach.

            “In all fairness it is a doggy position. Just not the yoga one,” Lulu said.

            I swatted my grandmother’s arm. “Not helping, Lulu.”

            “She’s been doing this the whole time, and whatever it is, it is not yoga.” My BFF Nell was attempting to lead a yoga practice for guests of the Gulf Palms Resort and Spa on the gorgeous Gulf Coast of Florida. “I’m not even sure she’s a hotel guest. She’s being very disruptive. I had to stop the class because people were getting so upset. Can you get her to stop sometime before my morning yoga practice is over?”

            Nell was right, as the Assistant General Manager of the hotel, it was on me to put an end to this woman’s shenanigans. I pasted on my best professional smile and walked across the powdery white sand. “Excuse me––”

            The woman looked directly at the smartphone she had positioned on a tripod with a professional-looking light ring to film whatever the heck it was she was doing. She beamed at the camera and said, “Sorry Merry Maniacs, but my public is interrupting. I’ll be right back to you, my lovelies.” She flashed a peace sign at the camera with a roguish wink and then crawled over to turn off the video recording. She stood up, flicked her long, expertly waved brown hair over her shoulder, put her hands on her hips, and glared at me. “Just who the f–––”

            “Hello,” I interrupted before she could utter a very un-yoga-friendly word. Internally my professional smile might’ve wavered, but I kept it on my face as I stepped toward her with my hand extended. She scowled at my hand as if I were offering her rotten fish. I lowered my hand but responded pleasantly. “I’m Millie Wentworth, the Assistant General Manager of the Gulf Palms Resort and Spa. And you are?”

            Her big brown eyes widened and I noticed even on the beach she had full make-up on and false eyelashes luxuriant enough that a breeze might’ve wafted by my face as she blinked at me. “Don’t you know who I am? I’m Merry Marissa.”

            The name Merry Marissa meant nothing to me, in spite of her pronouncement of it as if she were telling me she was the Queen of England. “Ms. Marissa­­­­––”

            “Not Ms. Marissa,” she snapped. “My name is Marrisa Merriweather. Merry Marissa is my social media handle. My brand. M-E-R-R-Y. Because I’m so fun-loving.”

            At the moment, she didn’t seem fun-loving so much as cheesed off, but I let it slide.

            Lulu cocked her head and looked at the woman. “I’ve seen Merry Marissa online before. I didn’t recognize you.” She turned to me and added, “She’s a big-time social influencer.
            Merry Marissa nodded. “The old lady is right. I am big time.” She looked my grandmother up and down and her jaw dropped when she got to Lulu’s white bobbed hair, currently streaked with a lovely shade of aqua. “You are obviously one well-informed person. And I love the hair! Don’t tell me you got it done in this podunk town.”

            “I did.” Lulu jerked her thumb over her should at the historic pink resort where I worked. “At the Tranquility Spa and Salon in the hotel.”

            “I’ll have to check it out. Keeping up my appearance is very important to my brand.”

            Nell cleared her throat, and I jolted as I realized how off track our conversation had gotten. “I’m sorry, Ms. Merriweather, but Nell is leading a yoga practice for guests of the hotel, so I’m going to have to ask you to film elsewhere.”

            She shook her head and snapped. “No way.”

            “I’m sorry, what?” I asked.

            “I’m trying to film myself attending the yoga class for my followers. Show them how ‘spiritual’ I can be.” Marissa made air quotes around the word spiritual and then snorted while she rolled her eyes.

            “Yes, but these people are paying guests at our resort and actually participating in the practice, not just posing for pictures. And you are recording our guests for public display without their permission. I’m afraid I must insist you delete the video and move on, Ms. Merriweather.”

Get your copy here:

Amazon: Barnes & Noble: Apple: Kobo: Scribd: Vivlio

And if you prefer print copies, click this link: PRINT

Louise Stevens is the author of the Port Sunset Mysteries series. A lover of mysteries since her discovery of Nancy Drew many years ago, she is thrilled to be writing cozy mysteries now. She lives in Maryland with her husband, who also loves a good mystery, in a house packed with books.

Louise Stevens is the pen name of contemporary romance author Donna Simonetta

Connect with Louise here:

Facebook: Amazon Author Page Twitter Goodreads Bookbub

And check out the first two books in the series:

PENTHOUSE, POOLS, & POISON

When the obnoxious guest in the penthouse is poisoned beside his private pool, my daily planner is turned upside down. I’m Millie Wentworth, Assistant General Manager of the swanky Gulf Palms Resort and Spa and solving the murder shouldn’t be my job, but the only food found near the body is a charcuterie board sent to the victim by yours truly.

The Port Sunset Police are looking my way until a shocking revelation shifts their attention to a friend. Suddenly, cracking the case moves to the top of my to-do list and it’s up to me to find the real killer and clear my friend’s name.

Uncovering the truth should be a breeze with me, my pink-haired grandmother, her rescue corgi, and her crew of fun-loving septuagenarian beach bunnies on the case. What could possibly go wrong?

****COZY MYSTERY OF THE YEAR FINALIST, N.N. Light’s Annual Book Awards****

“Get ready to curl up with your next favorite book!” USA Today Best-selling Author Claire Marti

“…one of the best cozy mysteries I’ve ever read.” N.N. Light’s Book Heaven

“…you won’t want this rollicking romp to end.” 5-Star Amazon Review

DIAMONDS, DUNES, & DEATH

I’m Millie Wentworth and I never thought I’d be involved in another murder, but here I am smack dab in the middle of a crime wave at the swanky resort where I’m Assistant General Manager. It started with a major diamond heist and ended with a dead body on the beach.

When one of my grandmother Lulu’s group of fun-loving septuagenarian friends is a prime suspect it’s time for Lulu’s Crew, Spud the corgi, and me, to get sleuthing and uncover the real criminals.

And because dodging mobsters, international jewel thieves, and solving crimes isn’t stressful enough, my hypercritical parents are in town too. My mother doesn’t approve of Lulu and me in the best of times, and these are decidedly not the best of times. Plus she’s already planning my imaginary wedding to my kinda-sorta boyfriend Scott.

All I need to do is catch a murderer plus a jewel thief and survive my parents’ visit. No problem, right?

See the entire series here: PORT SUNSET MYSTERIES

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Photo of the day, day 279

took her to the vet’s who said she’s obese and needs to lose 20 pounds. When I stopped laughing she gave me a diet for baby.

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#KINDELVELLA event October 5-11; READ FOR FREEEEEE!

Exciting news, kids. If you’ve been on the fence about reading on the new #KINDLEVELLA platform, you can take advantage of this amazing event from Amazon from today until 10.11 and read any story in any genre, up to 100 episodes daily FOR FREEEEEEE!

Ususally only the first 3 episodes of any story are free, but now you can read up to 100 free a day on any story. Looking for some new writers? Check out the genres section on Vella and try a few new ones a day -FOR FREEEE!!!

I do love that word.

I’ve got 3 great stories on the platform that tie in with the HALLOWEEN season – they are all crime dramas, murder mysteries, and thrillers, so take your pick.

Here are the links, so what are you waiting for????

VINDICATION:

Someone is murdering teenage girls in Washington, DC. The FBI’s special division, the SPCD – the Sexual Predators of Children – has been working the case for the past 6 months. When a Senator’s daughter goes missing, the team, led by Tucker Petrie, has to call on retired profiler – and his past partner – Kella O’Brian. Reluctantly, she rejoins the team and they search for a link to the girls who have been abducted, then killed.

DEATH BETWEEN THE PAGES:

A cheating husband. A group of widows. A hospital bed. A priest. What do they all have in common? Death.

THE JANE AUSTEN MURDERS ( A fan favorite for over 35 weeks!)

Homicide Detective Elizabeth Bennett and senior partner Frank Churchill are called to Longbourne College when the body of student Charlotte Lucas is found bludgeoned to death. Charlotte, a scholarship student had a healthy supply of designer clothes, jewelry, and a safe deposit box loaded with cash. Where did she get them? Charlotte had a very antagonistic relationship with her English professor, Dr. Darcy, and he soon becomes the primary suspect. But did he do it?

Happy reading, kids! ( FOR FREEEEEE!)

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Photo of the day, day 278

somebody got a big stick!!!! LOL

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#Tuesdayteaser Return to Dickens & Dorrit’s Diner in SASHA’S SECRET SANTA

With the push on now to get preorders for my upcoming Dickens Holiday Romance release, SASHA’S SECRET SANTA, I figured a little snippet might whet some holiday romance lovers’ appetites!

This one shows the relationship between sisters Sasha and Abra From Fixing Christmas…..

Enjoy.

“What are you doing here?” Sasha asked her sister a few hours later when she answered the persistent knocking at her apartment door. “It’s the middle of the day. Why aren’t you working?”

“Is that any way to greet the person carrying your first niece or nephew?” Abra asked, fisting a hand on her heavily pregnant and no longer visible waist.

“I’m sorry.” Sasha immediately reached out and snaked a hand under her sister’s elbow. “It’s been a morning.”

Abra let herself be led into the apartment she herself had lived in for a few months prior to her marriage.

“How are you and baby feeling?” Sasha asked as she helped Abra out of her puffy coat.

“I don’t know about the peanut, here,” she plopped down onto a kitchen chair and placed a hand over her protuberant abdomen, “but I feel like a sausage stuffed into the wrong-sized casing. My feet look like water balloons about to burst and I can’t go more than twenty minutes without needing to pee.”

“Here.”  Sasha lifted her sister’s feet to another chair. A quick glance and she let out a guffaw. “You realize you have two different shoes on, right? Or is this a new fashion trend you’re starting for pregnant women?”

“Oh, good God, do I?” Abra peered at her feet. “Oh, sweet baby Jesus, I do.” She dropped her chin to her chest. “I knew the right foot felt different from the left but I thought it’s because they’re so swollen and the shoes weren’t fitting right. No one was home when I left or someone would have warned me.”

Sasha gently pulled each shoe off and the groan that blew from between her sister’s lips tugged another laugh from her.

“Too bad it isn’t summer,” Sasha said. “You could wear sandals.”

“Up until the first snowfall I was, and I still do when I’m home. Colton insisted I start wearing closed shoes again whenever I leave the house, after we started getting accumulative snow. He’s terrified I’m gonna get frostbite and lose a few toes before I deliver.”

“He’s a concerned dad-to-be.”

“He’s a worrywart. He’s been through this twice already. You’d think he’d be cool and collected about it all, but no. I’ve got to have a man who invented the term helicopter husband.”

Sasha grinned, her mood improving dramatically.

11.7.2022

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Photo of the day, day 277

the trees look pretty on my street.

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Of dogs and weight and Nutrisystem

Last Thursday I took Maple for her yearly well-baby check.

I was not happy at the end of the appointment.

Not because of anything that happened. The Vet and the staff were fabulous, caring, and knowledgable.

What upset me is that the vet said Maple is obese and has to lose a minimum of 20 pounds.

Is she insane?? This is the dog who breaks land speed records if something drops to the kitchen floor. The one who never met a piece of poop she didn’t want to eat. The one with malabsorption syndrome, which, we’ve finally gotten under control ( read: no diarrhea 10 times a day) with the special food I cook for her.

20 pounds??

The dog eats a cooked stew of vegetables and the leanest cut stew meat every day. She doesn’t get fed from the table, walks about 2-3 miles a day ( I know because I walk her) and plays competitive frisbee with my husband, where, I swear, she runs at speeds like a Cheetah.

20 pounds?

#FML

The other piece of news that made this just ridiculous is that my doctor told me basically the same thing. I’m not clinically obese ( thank you, Jesus), but heading that way. I need to lose a minimum of twenty pounds, too, to offset any age-related health issues ‘cuz I’m over 60 now.

So I’m on Nutrisystem because that has always worked for me in the past. It allowed me to get into a gown for my daughter’s wedding, lol.

Do they make Doggy Nutrisystem?
#FML

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Photo of the day, day 276

I think it’s funny she uses her old bed -which is now her toy chest – as a pillow~

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#sundaysnippet from THE NEW YORK SOCIALITES series WOKE #romcom

Today’s snippet comes from book 2 in the New York Socialites Series, WOKE. This modern take on Sleeping Beauty was so much fun for me to write.

Waking up each day is a gift….

On her 21st birthday, someone slipped a potent drug combination into socialite Aurora Brightwell’s champagne putting her in a coma for the next ten years. It’s been a long road back, and it’s time to reclaim the life she lost and find out exactly what happened on that fateful night.

Financier Kincade Enright has his own reason for helping Aurora discover who poisoned her, but for the time being he’s keeping that – and his true identity – to himself. What he can’t keep hidden though, are his growing feelings for the one-time paparazzi darling and party-girl.

When this prince of finance joins forces with the former sleeping beauty, nothing can stop them from finding the answers they seek…or prevent the powerful emotions developing between them as they search for the truth.

SNIPPET:

“Mr. Enright,” I said when he stood and held my chair. “Thank you.”

He sat after I did, earning an approving, eyebrow-raised perusal from my mother.

“You’re welcome, and it’s Cade,” he said, his head tipping close to mine.

The subtle scent of man and soap drifted over me and I had to restrain myself from leaning in closer for a more thorough whiff. A warm, masculine scent is always so much more appealing than aftershave or cologne.

While I put my napkin in my lap, he kept his head inclined and said softly, “You’re probably wondering how I wound up at your table.”

I lifted my water glass and before taking a sip said, “It had crossed my mind since I know for a fact you were at table twenty. Since I don’t see Dominic Dupont I’m guessing you switched with him.”

His gentle exhale sounded…amused. I snuck a side eye his way and saw I was correct. The corners of his mouth were pulled in and up and for the first time I noticed a tiny dimple wink back at me.

“Dominic’s father is one of my clients,” Enright said, “and when I told him I wanted to sit at your table he agreed to switch.”

“How did you know this was my table?”

“I asked Ms. Spring.”

I peeked over his shoulder to see Dabney chatting with the person on her right. Turning my attention back to the man, I asked, “Why?”

“Why did I ask her, or why did I want to sit at your table?”

“The latter.”

That little crevasse deepened, a twin forming on the opposite side of his mouth when his grin turned to a full-fledged, captivating smile.

Oh, my.

“To paraphrase you, it’s amazing how with millions of people in this city, it can be deceptively small. Twice in one day tells me we were meant to meet, so.”

Enjoy~ Peg

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Photo of the day, day 275

the lake was calm this morning.

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#TNTNYC October 13-16

TEMPTED and TANTALIZING is a great name for a romance conference/group, isn’t it?? LOL

I’ll be attending the TNTNYC event this year as an attending author and I’m stoked because it takes place in my old stomping ground of Staten Island, NY. I grew up in SI. From the time I was 8 until I got married at 27 I lived in the borough, went to the local middle and high schools and worked at Staten Island University Hospital as a nurse. Although, back in the day it was just called SI Hospital.

I can’t wait to see the old burg again!!

I’ll be signing books at the official book signing on Saturday, October 15 and attending the cocktail reception afterward. Tickets to the event for readers are still available here: TNTNYC

Look at this fabulous list of attending authors, many of them friends of mine!!!

Hope I see you there – and if you are attending, I’ve got a book preorder sale going on right now. YOu can preorder any of the books you want on the list for just $10.00. Preorders also get a special gift from me!

Here’s the form: PREORDERS FOR TNTNYC

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Photo of the day, day 274

YOu can almost make out the entire web we found on our walk up at the dam.

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Photo of the day, day 273

This tree at the bottom of my road is always the first of the season to turn.

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Photo of the day, day 272

Just remembering this beautiful day in May up at the Omni, Mount Washington….I wish I could remember what Larry was telling me, but I was so worried about my broken zipper, I can’t!!! LOL

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Photo of the day, day 271

These are all the ROMCON2022 authors. It was a fabulous event!

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#Tuesdayteaser #teaserTuesday – A Return to Dickens!

Today’s little something extra comes from my upcoming addition to the Dickens Universe, SASHA’S SECRET SANTA, which releases into the Dickens-loving universe on 11.7.2022.

After a terrifying incident derails Sasha Charles’ career and confidence, she moves back to her hometown of Dickens to heal, reorganize, and start over.

The only problem? The paralyzing panic attacks that plague her whenever she thinks about going back to nursing. Sasha is mentally, and emotionally stuck, and has no idea how to move forward.

Steve Caldwell is the new Director of Services at Dickens Memorial Hospital. After witnessing her save the life of a local resident in Dorrit’s Diner, he knows Sasha would be perfect for the new trauma center he’s planning. When she refuses his job offer outright, he sets out to change her mind.

But Sasha has thick, protective walls erected around her so Steve must first break through them. With patience and kindness, he does. As the two grow closer, each begin to have second thoughts on what their futures should look like, until idle, small town gossip threatens to derail their budding relationship.

With the imminent arrival of Christmas, will Steve be able to convince Sasha he has her best interests at heart?

TEASER:

Sasha.

Thinking of her compelled him back to the diner. It was lunchtime after all, and a man had to eat. Especially one who’d skipped breakfast so he could get in a fast run at the gym before starting his work day.

The moment he came through the doors he spotted her. The lunch crowd was brisk, every stool at the counter in use and not one booth empty. Luckily, he was the only one waiting, so when he spotted a couple leaving one of the back booths and Sasha quickly moving to bus it, he shot to it.

“Almost done,” she said without lifting her attention from the task of wiping down the table.

Steve slid out of his coat, tossed it carelessly on the seat, and then settled himself in. When Sasha finished her task she pulled her order book from her back jeans pocket, popped it open and finally made eye contact with him as she said, “What can I get—you.”

It took all of his willpower to stifle the wince from her greeting.

“Hey,” he said, inserting as much warmth into the word as he could.

“What are you doing here?” she asked. It didn’t take a body language expert to read the suspicion and caution galloping across her lovely face. Shoulders squared and locked, back straight as a plank, her entire body looked poised to bolt. Chin raised, eyes squinting, she was the polar opposite of happy to see him.

“Hopefully, getting some lunch,” he said. “I’m starving. I missed breakfast and it’s been a heck of a morning.”

Some of the distrust eased from her shoulders. Some, not all, proven when she asked, “And you just happened to pick my station to sit at?”

He smiled and picked up the menu she’d dropped on the table. “I won’t lie. I hoped I’d be at one of your tables. And as luck would have it…” He lifted his hand in a what-can-you-do gesture. “Here we are.”

Pursing her lips, she shook her head, then glanced down at her order book with a sigh. Pencil poised she asked, “So. What’ll it be?”

After he rattled off his order she left him with the promise to bring his coffee right out.

He watched her move to the counter, place his order, then grab the coffee carafe from the back counter, a cup and saucer with it. She tossed a few creamers onto the saucer and brought everything back to him.

As she filled the cup she avoided any kind of eye contact. Steve figured she was embarrassed about how she’d bolted from him in the store. Should he say something about it? Ask her if she was okay?

Feeling indecisive wasn’t an emotion he usually experienced. In his normal dealings with people, his natural confidence and self-assurance proved beneficial. Not with Sasha, though. He worried anything he might say would have her running away again.

After she’d finished pouring, she placed his cup back down and without looking at him, said, “I’ll bring your order out as soon as it’s ready.”

She moved to another table before he could thank her.

With her other customers she was decidedly different than with him. She smiled; established eye contact; joked. He’d give anything if he could figure out a way to get her to act that way with him.

Hope that whet your holiday book reading interest!! You can preorder the book now, here: AMAZON

just in time to read it or gift it for the holiday season!!

Enjoy your day, peeps ~ Peg

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Photo of the day, day 270

Statue of books outside the Concord Free Library where I had a book event this past Saturday. It it so beautiful in person.

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Photo of the day, day 269

She was so tired from day care she fell sleep with her ball in her mouth while we were playing! Tired baby!

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#sundaysnippet from THE NEW YORK SOCIALITES series #NYCromance #romcom

Today’s little something extra comes from IT’S A TRUST THING, book 1 in the NEW YORK SOCIALITES SERIES.

Nell Newbery has trust issues. It’s hard to trust when you’re the daughter of a fallen financial scion who bilked people out of billions. Nell’s done everything in her power to keep away from men who see her as their ticket to fortune and fame. All she wants to do is run her ultra-successful business, HELPFUL HUNKS, in peace.

But it wouldn’t hurt to find a guy who doesn’t know a thing about her father’s felonious past; one she can give her heart to and trust it won’t come back to her battered, bruised, and broken.

Is Charlie Churchill that guy? On the surface he seems perfect, all polished manners and quiet mirth. Nell’s convinced he knows nothing about her, other than she likes superhero movies and views junk food as a food group.

Can she trust him to be what he appears to be? Or is he just pretending?

For Nell, trust is everything in life…and in love.

ANd since it’s pumpkin spice time here in the US….enjoy….

“Let’s take dessert outside and sit. It’s not full-on dark yet,” he suggested while filling a tray with dessert plates, cups, and utensils.

A girl could get used to being waited on like this. Charlie was a much better host than I’d ever been, and that was the simple truth.

A few minutes later we were each in one of the lounge chaises I’d spotted earlier. Twilight was darkening the sky and the horizon danced with stripes of bright orange and red. The avenues outlining Central Park were lit and bright, the streetlights sparkling around the trees. 

“If you’re cold I’ve got throw blankets in the storage cabinet,” Charlie said as he handed me a teacup.

“This’ll keep me warm.” I took a sip and sighed. “I love a cup of tea in the evening.”

“Even though you drink coffee? Most people choose one or the other.”

“I seem to remember you with a coffee mug in your hand in the diner, Professor, so…” I waved my free hand.

He laughed and settled back, his long legs spread out before him on the chaise, crossed at the ankles.

I’d slipped off my flats and tucked my feet under my legs.

“It’s nice out here,” I said, glancing at the city beyond the railing. “We’re high enough up the traffic sounds aren’t annoying; it’s private, without nosy neighbors right on top of you; and you’re buffered from the wind. If I open a window at my place, the wind shear off the Hudson River can be like a cyclone on some days.”

Charlie sipped his tea as his gaze followed mine, and nodded. “The difference between a park view and a water one. I love looking out over the tree line, especially in spring and fall.”

“Two opposite seasons. Kinda like foliage birth and death.”

He turned his attention to me. “I never thought of it that way, but you’re right. I enjoy watching the trees come into bloom, and I like watching them turn color.”

“I like that, too. Fall is my favorite time of year. The air is crisp, with a tiny bite to it; you can start wearing sweaters and boots. Plus,” I grinned at him, “pumpkin spice.”

A theatrical grown blew from him. “Oh, good Lord, are you one of those who loves pumpkin spice flavored everything? Coffee? Donuts? Tea? I even saw a pumpkin spice-flavored marshmallow cereal in the market last fall. People were buying it by the case. That was a bit much.” He shook his head, a ghost of a grin on his lips.

“Never underestimate the influential power familiar branding has on advertising to the consumer,” I said.

Charlie’s chuckle floated in the air next to me.

“That should be the topic of your next lecture.”

“What? Pumpkin spice?” I asked, cocking my head at him with what I hoped was a serious expression on my face.

Laughter danced in his eyes. “The class would most likely all be able to relate to that topic, but, no. Has Dean Dietrichson asked you to speak again?”

“I got an email yesterday asking me if I could sub again this Wednesday. Seems Dr. Chang’s mom still isn’t doing well. I haven’t replied to him yet.”

As I sipped my tea he silently regarded me. “What?”

“Would you like a little unsolicited advice?”

“If I said no would you give it anyway?”

“No. I’d respect your request,” he answered.

And right there was the reason he was different from every other man I’d ever known.

“You think I should do it, don’t you?”

“Yes,” he said without hesitation. “I’ve told you how much chatter there was about your lecture from those who sat in on it. How enlightening the class viewed your insights. Several times I heard what a wonderfully natural speaker you are. That’s a gift, Nell, that ability to connect to a group of strangers and have them not only be comfortable with, and open to, what you’re teaching, but engaged as well. A true gift.”

I can’t explain why his words meant so much to me, but they did. Validation as a savvy business owner is something I’ve strived for. I’ve struggled to be respected and successful on my own, through my own deeds and actions, and not simply because someone’s DNA coursed through my system. I’d had two bank managers deny my start-up business loan because they worried my father’s behavior had been passed down to me.

How ridiculous is that? The sins of the father aside, how truly ridiculous?

I took another sip of my tea and considered Charlie’s words.

“I have to admit, it was…fun, speaking to them. Not nearly as stressful as I’d imagined it would be.”

He nodded.

“And it was kinda cool that they all”—I flipped my free hand in the air again—“valued the points I was trying to make.”

“I’d say you made those points, not tried.”

I bit down on the corner of my mouth and stared back out at the quickly darkening horizon. “I’ll email him back when I get home,” I said. “But I need to come up with a better topic than the benefits of pumpkin spice branding.”

His rich, deep laughter sent a rivulet of pleasure down my spine.

And catch up on all the NY Socialites before Book 4 – INFLUENCE – drops in 2023

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Photo of the day, day 268

Final b’day pic. These were the goodie bags – one of the lion’s arms fell off in the car on the way home!! One of my favorite things in the bag was a bottle of bubbles! I love bubbles!! Who doesn’t???

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Quotes to live by… #Romancingthegenres

It’s my turn over on the Romancing the Genres blog this weekend and the topic of the month is favorite quotes. I really have only one I pull out almost daily because it reminds me of the person I should be…

To read the entire piece, hope on over to the blog, here: RTG

Leave me some love!

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Photo of the day, day 267

This was one of the specialty cookies from my grandson’s birthday party! Wild one describes him perfectly! hahaha

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The Rom “CON” Romance Festival is tomorrow!

I’m stupid excited! Tomorrow at the CONCORD FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY in Concord, MA, the first ROM CON Romance Festival takes place and I’m one of the participating authors! Yowza. Just look at this amazeballs list of authors in the graphic.

Here’s the schedule of events: – and it’s an ALL DAY AFFAIR!

BOOK SIGNING first from 10-11, then individual meet and greets and author panels. My meet and greet is from 12-12:25 and my panel discuss is 1-1.45

So much to choose from and so many authors to get to know! Or, meet your faves.

Weather permitting it will all be outside, so say a prayer to the GODS of weather we have a good day.

This is so exciting for me —- I mean, LOOK AT THE LINEUP and then there’s me! WOW. To register for the event click here: ROMCON2022 and you can read this article about the even, too: RONCON

Hope you can come out to see us all!

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Photo of the day, day 266

My grandson’s 1st birthday was this past weekend and his party was safari animal themed! This was the cake. Amazeballs, no?

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FALL INTO A BOOK is coming tomorrow!!!

Over two-hundred and fifty authors have signed up to take part in Isn’t It Romantic Book Club’s Fall Into a Book Giveaway on Facebook (AND I’M ONE OF THEM!!!). This fantastic and fast-paced event is your chance to meet authors, play games, and win lots of prizes, including books! It’s one day only, but the group lets readers interact and talk romance all year long. Isn’t It Romantic Book Club’s monthly meetings are live-streamed, so readers can chat and ask questions with their favorite romance authors!
https://www.facebook.com/groups/isntitromanticbookclub

We each get to post 1 time, so you’ll be scrolling and refreshing to find your fave authors and what they’re giving away- but it’s sososos worth it!!

Join us!!!

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Photo of the day, day 265

the colors are starting to change in my neighborhood

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Photo of the day, day 264

That’s the moon kids. I took this at 11 am a few days ago. So weird.

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Photo of the day, day 263

Gearing up for 2023. As you can see…I’ll be busy.

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Photo of the day, day 262

She has her mean, I’m-guarding-mommy face on. It’s all an act, folks! lol

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#sundaySnippet #kindlevella #crimedrama

For this week’s selection, I decided to show you something new – my Kindle Vella work. This little ditty is from THE JANE AUSTEN MURDERS, rated a fan favorite for over 32 weeks! Check it out and if you like it, subscribe to Kindle Vella on your phone. It’s free and the first 3 chapters of any story are always free to read.

Enjoy….

Lizzy followed her partner into a vacant row and took a seat on the aisle.

            From her vantage point, Darcy’s voice was quite clear as he spoke at the front of the room from behind a podium. Her vision of the professor was restricted, though, due to the height and distance she and Frank were. She could see his hair was dark, his skin light. He wore a nondescript pullover, a sports jacket over that. Trousers, not jeans, covered his legs. He could be tall, she thought. He certainly wasn’t short, with most of his upper body showing above the pulpit.

            “Guy’s got good pipes,” Frank said, “for a teacher. Makes it hard to fall asleep listening to someone like that.”

            Lizzy understood what he meant. The voice was steeped in a calm, controlled timbre that commanded authority. Darcy wasn’t American, and Lizzy was surprised at that. English, born and bred, if she wasn’t mistaking the accent. A small flicker sparked in her stomach as she listened to him deliver his lecture, never once referring to any notes or cards.

            He spoke of love. Tortured, unrequited love, and how it could kill a young woman’s very being through its harsh, unrewarded, and unknown existence. To never know what it feels like to have another’s love returned to you in the same vein, at the same measure. A love so strong-willed it could overtake and outstrip a heart and mind of its very desire to live.

            A love, so pure, so complete, and so wanting, that it caused nothing but heartache for the one who felt it.

            Lizzy blinked a few times. Darcy’s lyrical voice conjured up a daydream where she’d actually seen the picture he was describing.

            A young woman, innocent and heartbroken, felled by unrequited love.

            She spied her own face atop that imagined female form.

            “Jesus!”

            “What?” Frank whispered, turning to her. “What’s wrong?”

            A brisk, full shaking of her head almost cleared the fog. “Sorry. I didn’t realize I spoke out loud.”

            “You okay? You look a little pasty.”

            “Yeah. I think I just need to eat something. I’ll be fine.”

            When his eyes narrowed and he continued to stare at her, Lizzy knew he could see more than she liked. She sat forward and heard the bell ring at the same time.

            “Good,” she said, rising, hoping he didn’t hear the relief in her sigh. “Let’s go.” She was two rows in front of him by the time he moved to join her.           

            The students, all female, were gathering up their things and exiting via the bottom amphitheater door. Lizzy watched several make their way to the front of the room to surround their instructor.  She slowed, knowing it would be a few moments before the throng thinned. The further she got down the steps, the clearer Darcy’s face became.

            She was correct when she took him for tall rather than short. At least six-one, he was a full head above most of the girls swarming around him. On closer inspection, the dark curly hair was flecked with silver at the temples. Unlike Bingley’s, Darcy’s hair was not in need of a trim. Full, perfectly arched brows sat over eyes whose color she had yet to ascertain. His cheeks were etched into two hollows that ended in a square, brick-hard, jaw.

            Lizzy stood on the bottom step, hands in her pockets as she and Frank waited for the professor to be free.

            “Guy’s got a fan club,” Frank whispered.

            “I see that,” she answered, her gaze staying on Darcy, one delicate eyebrow bending upwards in conjunction with the opposite corner of her mouth.

            It was at that moment Darcy looked up and their eyes met over the head of one of his students.

            Blue.

            His eyes were blue. Solid, deep, and intermingled with shards of silvery gray. 

            Darcy’s perusal never left her face as the student before him asked a question.

            Lizzy realized that neither she nor the professor had blinked once since his gaze found hers. The sting of moisture drying within them, blurry the vision, finally made her lids do their job.

            She watched Darcy when her sight cleared and focused again. He shook his head once, blinked a few times, and then turned back towards his student, intent on what was being said to him.

            “Crowd’s thinning,” Frank said, moving by her towards the podium. “Let’s go.”

            Lizzy found her feet a moment later, after first taking a deep breath and rolling her shoulders.

You can see all my Kindle Vella Stories, here: and a word of warning – these stories are not my typical romance, HEA books. They are all murder mysteries/crime drama/suspense stories.

The Jane Austen Murders

Death Between the Pages

VIndication

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Photo of the day, day 261

Random PRIDE flag we saw in the woods on our walk.

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Photo of the day, day 260

saw this little guy on our morning walk around the neighborhood. Maple was very intrigued….

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Photo of the day, day 259

dead doggy sleep. And she’s snoring,too.

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A new #bookrelease from talented author C.B. Clark FORGING FORGIVENESS #romanticsuspense

You all know – because I say it all the time – but I lovelovelove when my Wild Rose Press sistahs come to visit and bring me their new books. Today is a treat for me and you! C.B. Clark has a new romantic suspense out titled Forging Forgiveness and she is allowing me to share a bit of it with you! Take a gander at this sure-to-be-a-bestseller novel…

When small-town college instructor Candace Cooper discovers bloody, bare footprints in the snow while running in a state park deep in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, it brings back the horrific nightmare of her past.

Detective Aiden Farrell is determined to redeem himself in his new position in Colorado, even if that means ignoring his growing feelings for the beautiful professor he meets during an investigation. His fear that the footprints she saw are connected to a recent spate of missing teens intensifies when Candace is assaulted on campus.

Aiden and Candace join forces, but as they start unraveling the truth, they get closer to each other—and to a killer who’ll stop at nothing to achieve his nefarious goal. 

Caught between duty and love, Aiden fights in a race against time to save the woman he loves.

Candace Cooper’s breath fogged out in plumes in the frosty, late afternoon air as she pumped her arms and loped along the narrow trail. Yesterday’s rain had turned to sleet, and overnight, two inches of fresh snow blanketed the path and weighed down the limbs of the tall pine trees.

Hey, what was that?

She slowed to a stop, turned around, and walked back three yards.

What the heck?

Indentations—a heel, the pad of a big toe, and the four, smaller indents of the other toes—were clearly formed in the smooth dusting of snow. The set of small, narrow footprints tracked along the snowy trail, veering into the deeper shadows of the forest. Someone had walked in his or her bare feet down the cold, snow- covered path.

The wind gusted against her damp face, and she shivered. Late November was too cold for anyone in their right mind to be out in the mountainous backcountry of northeast Colorado walking around without proper footgear, let alone barefoot. She squatted for a closer look.

A smear of dark red, stark against the white snow, marked the heel depression of each left footprint.

She touched the red splotch with the tip of her gloved finger. A rust-colored smudge stained the light blue cotton. Her heart rate kicked up.

Blood!

Sinking back on her heels, she peered into the forest’s deepening shadows and shuddered. Only four o’clock in the afternoon, and the sun was already disappearing behind the mountains. Nothing stirred. Even the squirrels were quiet, as if the silent forest watched and waited.

She knew this area of the park, ran the trails in the summer and snowshoed over the flatlands in the winter. Nothing manmade existed out there—no houses, no cottages, nothing but trees and wild animals.

Most visitors to Creighton Springs State Park stayed on the well-groomed gravel walkways and didn’t venture far from the parking lot. She never saw anyone on the hilly trail, not in winter. Yet, as recently as this morning, or early afternoon, someone had gone this way—and in bare feet. They’d left a blood trail. If that person was injured, maybe they needed help.

She slipped off her gloves and traced her finger along the impression. Too small to be an adult male or female’s footprint. Her gut clenched.

A child?

God, no! Please don’t let it be a child. The unspeakable horror of the past reared over her like an attacking beast, and she sagged onto her knees, her heart pounding as if threatening to burst from her chest. A piteous moan escaped her lips. Not again. Dear Lord, please, not again.

Hot tears burned her eyes.

A loud crack reverberated throughout the silent forest.

She bit back a scream and surged to her feet. Gunshot?

An instant later, another sharp boom filled the air.

The piercing sounds of distant rifle fire were unmistakable. But no way would anyone be shooting. It was illegal to hunt in the park. Besides, it was too dark for a hunter to see his target.

Her heart thundered, her breath frozen in her chest. Seconds passed, turning into minutes. Her back tingled with the certainty she was being watched, but she couldn’t move, could only stand there and listen, waiting for the next shot.

The forest remained hushed.

The sun dipped behind the mountains, and the valley filled with dark shadows as night settled in.

A snap of a branch breaking shook her out of her paralysis. The breath she’d been holding whooshed out, and she fumbled in her backpack and drew out her headlamp. Slipping the elastic strap over her forehead, she switched on the light.

Following the thin beam of light cast by her headlamp, she jogged down the trail. Her legs wobbled, and she stumbled over slippery roots and rocks, staggering, almost falling, but she dug deep and kept running.

The parking lot where she’d left her car was an hour’s walk, but if she ran, she could make it in half that time. Heart thumping, her lungs burning, she raced around a bend in the trail but lurched to a stop at a flicker of movement in the trees on her right.

A large shadow separated from the trunk of a fir tree and formed into the shape of a man.

She shone her headlamp into the forest.

The beam of light revealed a tall man with broad shoulders wearing a camouflage-patterned coat and baggy, green cargo pants. A gray woolen toque hung low over his forehead, and a thick black beard covered the lower half of his face. A rifle was strapped over one shoulder.

“He…hello?” Her voice was thin and reedy. He wasn’t a park ranger. Not in that getup, but he had to be the person shooting, considering the enormous rifle slung over his shoulder.

Not one part of his body moved. He didn’t even blink.

Hands shaking, she peeled off her gloves, letting them fall to the ground, and yanked out the can of pepper spray she carried in a canvas holster strapped around her waist. Sliding off the safety guard, she held the can up, the nozzle pointed at the unsettling stranger. “Who are you? What do you want?”

The man remained still and unspeaking.

Her heart thundered in her ears. “Hey, I asked you a question. What do you want?”

Behind the beard, he smiled, his lips stretching wide, his teeth gleaming in the headlamp’s beam. In the encroaching darkness, his muscular frame appeared larger, his demeanor even more threatening.

Fear clawed her throat, and her primal instincts kicked in. Run! The urgent command roared through her, but her knees locked and refused to obey. Her breath puffed in and out in frantic huffs. “Don’t come any closer.” Gripping the can of pepper spray so tight her hand ached, she shifted her finger on the trigger.

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ASuXim

Barnes & Noble: https://bit.ly/3Rc1Vje

Apple/iTunes: https://apple.co/3BeiN3E

Google: https://bit.ly/3PSWbd3

Also available for purchase at Kobo.com and all other major online retailers.

Forging Forgiveness is award-winning author, C.B. Clark’s eighth novel published by The Wild Rose Press. When she’s not busy traveling around the globe or hiking and camping in the wilderness near her home in northern British Columbia, she can be found in front of her laptop plotting her next story.

Social Media Links:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/cbclarkauthor/

Blog: https://cbclarkauthor.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cbclarkauthor

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cbclarkauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15029617.C_B_Clark

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/C.-B.-Clark/e/B01BK61TQG/

Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/c-b-clark

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Photo of the day, day 258

yeah…I am.

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Another LAST MAN STANDING takes the fall as DONOVAN releases today #sweetromance #LMS

My good friend KARI LEMOR has the latest LAST MAN STANDINGDONOVAN, which releases today.

Like sweet revenge?? This book’s for you!

DONOVAN – Kari Lemor

Going, going, gone, to the lady who wants sweet revenge.

Magnolia Popham never forgot the way Donovan Sinclair humiliated her when she worked for his family. Years later, he’s on the auction block to raise money for the children’s hospital, and she’s got the perfect plan to pay him back. A month mucking stalls and feeding chickens is just the thing to make him see what it feels like to be the hired help.

Donovan never meant to embarrass Maggie, yet now he’s paying the price. He didn’t know one stolen kiss years ago could cause so many problems. Toiling beside her at Popham Farm shows him the successful woman she’s become, and he’d like to get closer. Even with the drudgery of working the land, he wants nothing more than to bid on her love…and win.

“Eight thousand for this strong, strapping man to do with as you please. According to our rules, of course,” Cissy clarified, but Donovan wondered how vigorously they enforced those rules. 

“Do I hear nine thousand for Donovan Sinclair?”

“Nine thousand.” Mrs. Wisenthall was determined. The others seemed to have dropped out of the race. 

“We have nine thousand dollars for this handsome man. Any other takers?” Cissy waited and glanced around. Donovan couldn’t see more than shapes sitting at the tables due to the lighting. 

“Okay, then. Going once, going twice—”

“Fifteen thousand dollars.” 

Donovan froze. The voice wasn’t one of the ones who’d been bidding before. This one was soft as a breeze and sweet as honey with a lilting southern accent.

“Fifteen thousand. Any other bids?” Cissy cocked her head, but Mrs. Wisenthall remained silent. “Going once. Going twice. I think we have a winner.”

Donovan could make out the shape of a woman walking toward the stage. And what a shape it was. The dress was classy, floral, and hugged her figure lovingly, stopping about an inch above her knee. High heels accentuated her long, trim legs and clicked on the wood floor as she approached. A white, large-brimmed hat perched on top of her head, covering all but a long curl of brunette hair that swirled across one shoulder, then dipped between her breasts. 

Well now. This was a new circumstance. Maybe he could forgive his mother if he got to spend some quality time with this exquisite creature. Provided she knew it was a temporary situation.

Cissy cleared her throat as the mystery woman sauntered closer and tipped her head up. As Donovan took in her features, memories drifted through his mind, and the blood drained from his face.

“Donovan Sinclair sold for fifteen thousand dollars to Magnolia Popham.”

Find all of Kari’s books here: 

https://www.karilemor.com/

Kari Lemor has always been a voracious reader. One of those kids who had the book under the covers or under the desk at school. Even now she has been known to stay up until the wee hours finishing a good book. Romance has always been her favorite, stories of people fighting through conflict to reach their happily ever after.

Writing wasn’t something she enjoyed when young and only in the last few years began putting the stories that ran rampant in her head, down on paper.

Now that her kids are all grown and have moved out, she uses her spare time to create character-driven stories of love and hope.

She spends her time with her husband divided between a small town in New England and beautiful St. Augustine.

See all the LAST MEN STANDING hunks here: LMS

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Photo of the day, day 257

There was only one left so I snagged it!

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#tuesdayteaser from THE JANE AUSTEN MURDERS #kindlevella

Just a little something to whet your KINDLE VELLA reading appetites. From THE JANE AUSTEN MURDERS a fan favorite for over 30 weeks.

“Detectives,” the officer at the apartment door greeted them, touching a finger salute to his cap.

“What ya got?” Frank asked.

While he referred to his notepad, the young officer read, “Vic is Charlotte Lucas, twenty-two, senior at Longbourne College. Discovered this morning by her roommate, Lucy Steele, at approximately seven-thirty.”

“Is the roommate still here?” Frank asked.

“Yes, sir. In her bedroom. The girl’s pretty shook up so I left my partner with her.”

“Anyone else here?” Lizzy asked.

“ME just arrived. CSU’s on the way.”

Frank nodded. “Thanks. Keep the door secure.”

Together, the detectives entered the apartment. Frank crossed his hands behind his back while Lizzy folded hers into her jacket pockets.

The front door opened into a living room that was a wide L shape, an efficiency kitchen forming the bottom part of the letter. Full-length floor-to-ceiling windows spanned one wall, the professional treatments open, letting in the early morning sun. Two sofas were a cocoa-colored leather, a detailed ornamental rug under them. The lamps on the two end tables were crystal, and the paintings on the wall were large and bright. Lizzy’s gaze flicked over one twice. It was a confusion of colors and strokes, all blending together to form an obelisk in the center of the canvas.

Modern art. Weird.

Both rooms were painted a stark, antiseptic white.

“Furniture’s not cheap,” Lizzy said. “My sister Jane would kill just for the couches. Place like this usually doesn’t go for less than three grand a month. Furnishings tell the vic must have money.”

Frank hummed a simple, “mmmm.”

The room had an order to it that bordered on perfection.

“There’s nothing personal in here at all,” Lizzy said, looking around.  “No photos, no mementoes. It’s like a hotel.”

“Check the kitchen,” Frank said.

A quick glance at it and Lizzy saw a juice glass and a bowl in the sink, a drizzle of milk in the bottom of it.

Someone had time to eat.

The coffee maker was empty and spotless. The countertops glistened.

“Wonder if she had a housekeeper?” Lizzy said.

They found the victim’s bedroom at the end of a short hall, the pungent smell of her death guiding them in the right direction. Lizzy blew out a few quick breaths. The acrid and metallic smell of blood always made her queasy and she’d found that clearing her mouth and nose helped abate the nausea. From his squatting position next to the bed, Lizzy could make out the bald head of the county’s medical examiner.

“Detectives,” Dr. Hurst said, never raising his gaze to them. “This one’s messy. Be careful coming around.”

Paying close attention to where she stepped, Lizzy walked around the bed.

“Talk to us,” Frank said.

Hurst impaled the skin on the victim’s abdomen with the spiked end of the liver thermometer, stabbing it through with a purposeful, deliberate shove until it reached its mark. “Basically, her head’s been pulverized. Beaten to death with something long and hard.”

“Like what?” Lizzy asked.

Hurst shook his head. “Can’t tell for sure. I need to get exact measurements. Something like a baseball bat maybe. The splatter on the walls tells me the whole incident took place right here.” He removed the thermometer, a wet, sucking sound following it out on a path from her liver, through the muscles and fascia, to the outer skin.

The noise made the bile Lizzy was trying to keep down jump in her gullet.

She didn’t look at the victim. Couldn’t.  Not first.  The aftereffects of death on the surrounding area were easier for her to deal with than viewing the actual body from the onset.

Easier to deal with the facts, she thought. With the evidence. The victim wasn’t going anywhere.

 Her gaze followed the bloodstream staining the wall and across the curtains and bedspread. Fat, gorged globules of brownish, rusty tinged streaks marred the wall in an inverted triangular pattern, with the higher droplets less dense, thinner, and elongated.

“He was angry,” she said, scrutinizing the splatter from top to bottom and back again.

“Understatement,” Hurst replied, a caustic chortle escaping with it. “Lotta rage here to cause this much damage. Her face looks like oatmeal with ketchup.”

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Photo of the day, day 256

Dinner out. Date night, post Covid Pandemic.

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It’s release day for CHANCE -LAST MAN STANDING #fakedating #LMS #sweetromance #laterinliferomance

Finally!!!

I feel like I’ve been talking about this one for evah!!! HAHAHA

But, seriously, I’m so happy CHANCE is finally out in the romance reading world. Did you pre-order your copy? The early reviews on the story have been wonderful – and make me thankful I got it right, hee hee!!

Chance Miller, divorce lawyer extraordinaire, knows the whole happily ever after dream is an urban myth. He deals with miserable and wedded warring couples every day and swears staying single keeps him sane and happy. His friends and family consider him the last single man standing and fear he’ll never find someone and settle down. But Chance relishes his carefree status and unencumbered lifestyle and has no plans to change anything.

If only his relatives would stop trying to set him up with their version of the perfect woman.

Fredrika Poole already experienced her one great love, and the widow can’t read any future romance in her tea leaves. She’s content to bake, run her business, and care for her daughter.

When Chance meets Freddie and discovers her marriage thoughts run on the same road his do, he realizes she’s the answer to his prayer for keeping the relatives at bay. But the pixie barista has a way of making Chance question everything he’s always thought about love, marriage, and wedded bliss.

Will his last man standing status go unchallenged? Or will Freddie be the one woman he wants…but can never have?

And you can find all the LAST MAN STANDING guys, here: LMS

Oh and wait! Did you know there’s a recipe book with all sort of LMS snacks and goodies you can get for FREE??? COOKBOOK

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Photo of the day, day 255

He’s so excited that he found a bar in town with $2.00 tap beers. It’s the little things, kids.

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#SundaySnippet – When #fakedating is acceptable…

So tomorrow my book CHANCE ( LAST MAN STANDING #12) releases into the book reading world and I figured I’d give you one more chance ( see what I did there! LOL) to determine if you’d like to read the entire book.

Today’s snippet goes to the heart of the #fakedating premise of the book between Freddie and Chance.

Enjoy…

When he laid it all out she had to admit, the idea was pretty out there.

“I know it’s a last-minute request and I totally understand if you don’t want to say yes. But I really want you to say yes.”

“I don’t know,” she said, biting down on a corner of her lip. “It’s kind of…deceitful, isn’t it?”

“In a way. But for the best of reasons. If they think I’m dating someone they’ll be happy for me and I’ll have the added benefit of them getting off their hook-me-up endeavors for a while. And believe me, I could use a break from that. There’s nothing worse than a grown man being set up by a bunch of elderly women with good intentions.”

“No, I don’t imagine there is.” She laughed.

“It’s only for one night,” he added. “Just to get through this party. There’s nothing else planned until my Aunt Theresa’s birthday in July and by then I’ll have figured something out to get them off my backs permanently.”

“That’s only three months away, you know.”

“Yeah, but I’m looking at it as three months reprieve where I won’t be harassed with dating matchups.”

“Have you ever simply thought to tell them your views on marriage? Marriage for you, in particular?”

“The cousins—their kids—yes. But they’re all married, too. I’ve never said outright to the aunts that I don’t want to get married. I’m afraid a few of them would have heart attacks or start invoking my mother’s name as a way to ward off whatever bedevilment they think has possessed me. Their definition of a happy life is a happy wife and kids for every man they know. It’s their…generation’s, I guess, way of thinking.”

Freddie nodded. “My mother’s a little younger than your aunts, I think, but she feels the same way.”

She sat back and stared at him for a moment.

“Say I say yes—”

“Please do.”

She rolled her eyes. “Say I agree to go with you as your, what? Fake girlfriend?”

He nodded.

“What are you gonna tell them about me? About how we met?”

“The truth is always the best way to avoid issues,” he said. “You own and manage the coffee bar in my office building. We met and hit if off, decided to date.”

“What happens if they ask if I’ve ever been married? If I have any kids?”

“Tell them whatever you’re comfortable with. You don’t need to lie—”

“Good, since we’ll already be lying about our relationship.”

He frowned. “I guess I don’t consider it lying as much as I think of it as a way to keep the aunts out of my hair for a bit.”

She nodded. “What would you expect me to do?”

He shrugged. “Whatever girlfriends do when they meet their boyfriend’s relatives.” He raked his hands down his face, then readjusted his glasses. “And I can’t believe I’m describing myself that way at my age.”

“You’ve got a few years left in you,” she said with a grin.

Intrigued? I hope so!!! Peg

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Photo of the day, day 254

She stole this out of Larry’s toolbox and has absolutely no remorse – just check out that defiant gleem in her eye.

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Photo of the day, day 253

We are at the drive thru at the bank and she is anxiously awaiting- and drooling – for her “cookie” from the teller. It’s the little things in life, folks!

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Photo of the day, day 252

Had such a good time in 2022, decided to do it again in 2023!

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Photo of the day, day 251

Won this is a Goodreads Giveaway contest. Not loving it…..

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#SundaySnippet – CHANCE a #LMS coming soon

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but since CHANCE is releasing on 9.12, I thought I should… lol

CHANCE ( LAST MAN STANDING)

Chance Miller, divorce lawyer extraordinaire, knows the whole happily ever after dream is an urban myth. He deals with miserable and wedded warring couples every day and swears staying single keeps him sane and happy. His friends and family consider him the last single man standing and fear he’ll never find someone and settle down. But Chance relishes his carefree status and unencumbered lifestyle and has no plans to change anything.

If only his relatives would stop trying to set him up with their version of the perfect woman.

Fredrika Poole already experienced her one great love, and the widow can’t read any future romance in her tea leaves. She’s content to bake, run her business, and care for her daughter.

When Chance meets Freddie and discovers her marriage thoughts run on the same road his do, he realizes she’s the answer to his prayer for keeping the relatives at bay. But the pixie barista has a way of making Chance question everything he’s always thought about love, marriage, and wedded bliss.

Will his last man standing status go unchallenged? Or will Freddie be the one woman he wants…but can never have?

Enjoy….

Even though she wasn’t nervous, the sensation of Chance’s fingers resting on her back offered a strange sense of calm and comfort.

The moment they entered the ballroom the sound level, which she’d felt knocking against her chest from the intensity, slipped to a decided hush as all eyes turned toward them.

A tiny knife strike of fear slipped in and pierced her quiet mien.

Chance’s fingers pressed against her back. “Breathe,” he murmured. “The way to handle them is to never let them see you sweat.”

She grinned at his word choice.  Jimmy had said the same thing to her the first time she’d met his friends at the firehouse. Her usual state of calm bolted back.

A striking woman in a blue floor length dress and who had six inches and about forty years on her, crossed the length of the room, a man in a tuxedo clutching her hand and tagging along with her.

“Well, as usual you’re late,” the woman said, a huge, pleased smile on her face as she offered her cheek to Chance for a kiss.

He did so, saying, “You look lovely, Aunt Betty. Uncle Louis.” He nodded at the man at her side.

His aunt’s gaze shot to Freddie. If she had to put a word to the expression dancing across the older woman’s face it would be expectant.

“Allow me to introduce Fredrika Poole,” Chance said. A millisecond later he added, “My girlfriend.”

Hearing him say it aloud shouldn’t have sent a delighted shiver up her spine, but it did. Before she could contemplate on why, the woman in front of them let out a screech of delight.

“Well, isn’t this the best surprise!” She let go of her husband’s hand and pulled both of Freddie’s into hers, cocooning them.

“Happy Anniversary,” Freddie said with a smile.

“Thank you. Over fifty years with this man and every one has been better than the last.” The man at her side grinned then kissed her cheek. “But enough about us,” she said turning her full attention back to her. “Tell me, how did you two meet? Was it at work? How long have you been dating? What do you do? Are you a lawyer, too?”

Freddie blinked a few times, unsure of which question to answer first and afraid more were going to be thrown her way before she could give a reply to even one.

“Down, girl,” Chance said as he slid her hands from his aunt’s grip. “You have all night to grill her. We just got here and I’d like to make the rounds, say hello to everyone and introduce her around. Okay?”

His aunt tossed him a peeved pout, then shook her head and grinned.  “Always have to be in control,” she said, clucking her tongue. To Freddie she said, “You probably already know that about him, though, don’t you dear? The original Mr. In Charge, that’s our Chancey-boy.”

Freddie hid the grin she wanted to let loose from the look on Chance’s face. Part embarrassed, part annoyed, and one hundred percent adorably miffed male grimaced next to her.

“Go on, then,” Betty said. “Go show your girl off. But don’t forget your favorite aunt. I want to hear all the deets, as my grandkids say, later on. I’m not letting you leave this party without knowing everything about you,” she said to Freddie.

“Yes ma’am,” Freddie replied.

“Terrified yet?” Chance whispered as he took her arm and propelled her toward a group of people close to their own age.

She tried not to think about how natural his hand felt against her skin as she said, “It takes a whole lot more than an aunt who shows her love by being nosy to scare me, Chancey-boy,” she said, trying to keep the grin from her face.

When he squeezed her arm and said, “I’ll pay you back for calling me that by introducing you to Aunt Theresa next. The FBI and CIA have her on speed dial because of her interrogation techniques.”

“Bring it.”

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Hey, everyone. This is Freddie.”

The impossibly boorish introduction made her gape at him and then laugh out loud. She needn’t have worried about it, though, because he was immediately chastised by every female in the group.

Names were thrown at her from every direction, accompanied by warm and enthusiastic handshakes and smiles. Freddie glanced over at her date to see him engrossed in serious conversation with one of the most beautiful women she’d ever set eyes on. Long, shiny, deep auburn colored hair flowed freely about a perfectly heart-shaped face framed by robins-egg blue eyes and an upturned, pixie nose and jaw.

Without being told, she knew this was Chance’s sister, Sable. The curve of their jaws and the cut of their cheeks hinted at it, but when Sable pursed her perfect lips in a pout of confusion, she saw Chance’s face stare back at her.

The younger woman glanced over at her, her delicate eyebrows lifting at something her brother was saying.

Questions flew at her left and right. Chance hadn’t been kidding when he’d told her she’d be the topic of interest tonight simply because she’d come with him.

“You’re certainly an improvement over the last girl he brought around,” Moira – she thought that was the name – said. “You actually make eye contact and smile,” she added.

“And you look like you have a brain,” said another. Kitty, maybe?

“Thanks,” she said, adding a crooked smile. “I think.”

“How long have the two of you been going out?” This one she couldn’t put a name to.

“Not long,” she replied, purposefully being vague.

“Where’d ya meet?” Moira again.

“I own the coffee station in the building Chance works in. We met by accident when he was on the receiving end of a thrown coffee cup.”

Eyebrows lifted and mouths pulled into delighted grins as she explained his client’s ex and her tirade.

“I would have paid cash money to see that,” the one whose name she couldn’t remember said.

“All of us would have. So,” Kitty said, “you came to his rescue and what? He asked you out?”

“Something like that.” She smiled when she saw him leave his sister and stride back toward their group.

“Okay, kids, that’s enough,” Chance said as he slipped a hand around her arm. “I want a drink and something to eat and I’m sure Freddie does, too.  You can continue the grilling later.”

“We weren’t grilling her, Chancy-boy.” This from Kitty.

As he turned, Moira sniggered. “Should I have the waiters serve coffee now, or wait until later?”

Chance stumbled a bit while moving her away from the group, but didn’t respond to his cousin.

Gently, he tugged her toward the buffet table. “You told them?”

“They asked how we met. I wasn’t going to lie.”

His theatrical sigh pulled a grin from her.

“You can bet by the end of the night everyone in this room will know the story. My family is like a bad game of telephone.”

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