The character of Amy Dorrit (Charles) is fascinating for so many reasons, but the main one for me is how she loves her 3 adoptive kids and how strongly she protects them. She also doesn’t suffer fools and calls it like she sees it, evident in this scene. She’s found a distraught Sasha crying in her apartment and after listening to the reason why, she…well, she acts like a mom who lays it on the line.
After several minutes of Amy rocking and cooing to her, Sasha shifted, her tears finally starting to abate.
“I won’t ask if you feel better,” Amy said as she cupped her daughter’s chin and rubbed her thumbs across her cheeks. “A cry like that one serves the purpose of emotionally cleansing and physically exhausting a body.”
“I think I’m more exhausted than cleansed,” Sasha said, swiping her sleeve under her nose. “And now I’ve got a headache to add to it, to boot.”
With a shake of her head, Amy leaned forward and kissed Sasha’s forehead.
“Why are you home so early? I thought you were going to take the entire day to shop.”
“Took most of it.” Amy lifted a shoulder and added, “When we were done, we were done.”
“Most of the day? What time is it?” Sasha asked.
“Oh, God. I told everyone I was only taking a few minutes and it’s been three hours. I need to get downstairs.” She tried to stand but Amy held her back.
“The diner’s fine, baby girl. The girls and Chet have been taking care of things just fine. You sit back down and tell me what got you to blubbering.”
“I need a glass of water, first.” Once Amy let her stand, Sasha filled a glass and downed it in one long draught. After that she ran cold water over her face, knowing she must look like a swollen, red-splotched mess.
Done, she plopped down next to her mother, dragged in several deep, weary breaths, and told her all about her relationship with Steve Caldwell, ending with the conversation she’d had with Kane.
“I should have trusted my instincts,” she said once she was done, the tears spent, and her voice tired. “They told me from the get-go he was only interested in me because he wanted me for the hospital.”
“I’m not sure that’s true,” Amy said.
“What do you mean?”
“I’ve seen the way he looks at you every time he comes into the diner. The man is smitten.”
Sasha rubbed her nose, then shook her head. “If he’s smitten it’s with my skills as a nurse, not as,” she blushed, “a woman or anything else.”
“I don’t like repeating myself, but I’m really not sure that’s true, baby girl.”
On the end of a sigh sewn together with exhaustion and a strangled ache, Sasha said, “It’s true enough, mom. He didn’t deny it when I confronted him.”
“Did you give him a chance to? Or did you steamroll right over him like you always do when you want to make a point?
Surprised, Sasha said, “I don’t do that.”
Amy’s brows took a steady climb toward her hairline. When they arrived and settled, her eyes opened wide and she regarded her daughter with an expression Sasha had seen dozens of times during her childhood. A don’t even think about bullshitting me glower that made the person – or child – being glared at confess any and all infractions they’d committed
That the look could still make her crumble at the age of thirty-four like an unbalanced house of cards was worrisome.
“Really? I can give you chapter, book, and verse on any number of times you’ve done it in your life. You’ve always been like that, baby girl. Always need to have the last word in an argument; always need to get your point across before anyone else can make theirs.”
Amy’s words stung. So much so, tears started to swell in Sasha’s eyes again. Angrily, she batted them away with her lashes.
Her mother’s expression softened. “Look, sweetie. I’m not saying it to make you upset, just to point out that you have a…tendency we’ll say, not to listen to the other person during an argument when you think you’re in the right.”
“I am in the right about this, mom. Steve was just buttering me up before asking me to work for the hospital. Kane all but proved it.”
Amy’s thin-lipped glare told her daughter exactly what she thought about Kane Barclay and his declaration.
“I know you’ve never liked him,” Sasha said. Before she could continue, though, her mother cut her off.
“I don’t dislike him,” she said. “But he has a habit of embellishing any story he’s telling to garner more attention for himself. He was always that way as a kid and hasn’t changed much as an adult.”
Sasha waved a hand in the air with a careless flitter. “History aside, this time he didn’t embellish, just told me straight out what he’d overheard.”
“You should know better than to believe any info given to you second-hand like that, Sasha Charles.”
A sudden stab of unease speared through her. Was her mother right? Should she have regarded Kane’s declaration warily?
Intrigued? I hope so, LOL
You can preorder the book here and have it delivered to your Kindle on 11.7.2022 on release day. Or, the paperback version is available right now!
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.”
“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.
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?
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.”
“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.”
Love reading romance? You’ve come to the right place! Here you’ll find romance of all steam levels and genres. So take your time, have a little fun here on our event page, and please visit our official book fair page and enter to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card
My steamy romance, BALANCE, part of the NYC Socialites Series, is one of the books listed. Check it out, here: OKRWG BOOK FAIR under the STEAMY category!
She’s a wealthy socialite who survived an abusive marriage. He’s a hardworking guy raising his son and caring for his widowed father. They come from different worlds, but it’s said…opposites attract. Can they find the balance between their two lifestyles to make their love work? Or will their differences tear them apart?
Life and love are a balancing act.
BALANCE is also a 2022 Nominee in the InD’Tale Magazine RONE AWARDS. The award ceremony if set for Saturday, 10.9 at 8pm EST!
This upcoming Saturday, August 20th, is National Independent Bookstore ROMANCE DAY!
I love having a holiday tailor-made for me, LOL.
This Saturday evening, beginning at 6pm at the Toadstool Bookshop in Keene, NH, 3 romance authors ( moi, included) will be celebrating the genre with a “Ladies Night” panel discussion on all things romance related.
Bookstore Romance Day is a day designed to give independent bookstores an opportunity to celebrate Romance fiction—its books, readers, and writers—and to strengthen the relationships between the Romance community and their fans.
We ( the Toadstool) will host a panel of three amazing romance authors. Come join us and get the inside scoop on what it is like to be a romance author and learn about the personal experiences our guest authors had in the field.
I haven’t done one of these in a while and when I woke up I remembered today was Thursday, so…
From my upcoming addition to the LAST MAN STANDING series, CHANCE, dropping on 9.12.2022. Here’s a little something between the h/h to whet your preorder appetites!
“I’m so sorry about this,” Chance told Freddie as he pulled the car into traffic. “Nothing short of coming down with the bubonic plague was going to be a good enough excuse to get out of today. And if I told her I was sick she would have come straight to my apartment to check on me. Probably would have sent her private doc to visit you if we’d said you were afflicted. I’m so sorry,” he said again.
A quick glance across the front of the rental car showed him she wasn’t showing any signs of being angry or put out. In fact, he ventured to think it was the opposite. She looked resigned to it and content.
“Don’t worry about it.” She turned to glance at her daughter who was secured in the booster seat behind them, holding an iPad and with earphones in place. “I wasn’t doing anything today buy baking for tomorrow anyway, and I already got a head start on that this morning.”
“Still, I feel, well, guilty about all this. If I’d never asked you to pretend to be my girlfriend in the first place you wouldn’t have been ambushed into coming along today. My only hope is that after this they’ll leave me, us, alone.”
He remembered saying the same thing after the anniversary party and look how that had backfired.
“It’ll all be fine,” she said. “Where’d you get the car, by the way? I thought you didn’t keep one in the city.”
“I don’t. I rented it for the weekend. It was easier than depending on car service, plus, this way we can leave as soon as we want without having to wait to be picked up.”
Freddie’s laugh filled the cab. “We haven’t even gotten there yet and already you’re planning your escape.”
“It pays to plan ahead,” he muttered.
Why wasn’t she angry? Or at least put out by the situation? He was. In spades.
But saying no to his family wasn’t something he could do. He felt obligated to abide by his aunt’s wishes no matter how much they inconvenienced him.
Freddie, though, had no obligation to his family. And yet, here she was, on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, going to a dinner that was sure to be emotionally trying, her daughter in tow, and acting like it was no big deal at all.
The more he came to know the woman the more intrigued he was by her.
Traffic, unfortunately in his eyes, was sparse and they made it over the bridge to his aunt’s Brooklyn brownstone in record time.
When he found a parking spot on her street he started to feel like some cosmic force was conspiring against him, making everything easy today so he’d be forced to stay longer than he wanted.
Freddie took Dawn out of the booster seat and once the child was on the sidewalk between then, she slipped her tiny hand into his, the other in her mother’s. Something shifted in his chest when he looked down at the little redhead and she smiled up at him.
“Mommy,” she said as they made their way up the stoop steps to his aunt’s front door. “Did you make enough cupcakes for me to have two?”
“We’ll see,” Freddie said. “It depends on how many people are here and how well you do with eating your dinner.”
“I’ll be good. Promise. I just hope they don’t have carrots.” She looked back up at Chance. “I don’t like carrots. I don’t like any orange food.”
He pressed her hand and said, “Me, neither.”
Her wide, blue-eyed wonder, made him laugh. “Can’t stand them.”
“Wow. I thought all grownups ate carrots.”
Chance rang the doorbell. “Not this one.” He took a deep breath when the lock shifted.
“Relax,” Freddie said.
The door was thrown open wide and his aunt pulled him into her arms, then pushed him away to do the same to Freddie. When it was Dawn’s turn to receive the exuberant welcome, he felt her body press against his leg, her little hand still holding tight to his. In a heartbeat, he picked up her so she wouldn’t have to be engulfed in his aunt’s killer grip and said, “It smells great in here. When are we eating?”
He caught Freddie’s dramatic eye roll as she presented the box filled with the cupcakes she’d baked to his aunt.
If you follow this blog, you know yesterday I posted a picture taken of me at this past weekend’s ROMANTICON 2022 held in Trumbull, CT.
Driving home early Sunday morning I had private time to reflect on a few things about the event, and myself.
First, if you know anything about me you know I am basically a hermit. I have friends – I’m not a social pariah, hahaha -but I tend I stay home a lot, work on my writing, take care of my hubby and dog, and see my daughter and her family. I don’t PEOPLE well. Truthfully, I am a loner/hermit/introvert as many writers are. But when we do an event like a book signing, we have to BE ON. By that I mean we have to smile, engage readers, and generally make ourselves liked.
This is hard for me. So hard. I’d never make a salesperson. I’d be fired the first day because I simply can not sell anything. I never want to be bothered by salespeople when I shop ( which isn’t often) so I wouldn’t want to impose myself on others if the shoe were on the other foot. Having to hawk my books and myself is so alien a concept to me, it’s a wonder I sell anything at all. Luckily, I have a following and am told I can be engaging when I try. Which isn’t often, but necessary when it is.
Enough about me.
The event is put on by writer Kitty Berry and she and her amazing corps of volunteers did a fantastic job. Everything moved swimmingly, door prizes were given out to the joy of many, the food at the brunch was good and the check-in table moved smoothly along.
All in all, a very professionally run event and one which I will return to next year.
Not only because of the readers but my fellow authors as well.
As authors, we do something most of our friends and family don’t do. Many times they don’t want to hear about the trouble we are having with our characters, or that we can’t get our word counts in because of disruptions. The only people who can relate to those lamentations are other writers because they are suffering through the same issues. In essence, they walk the walk and talk the talk of books, characters, marketing, sales slumps, and best sellers’ lists. So seeing so many of my writing friends after 2 years of covid isolation and cancellations was….amazing.
It was life-affirming and career motivating. Just to be in a room with 50+ other people who do what I do and know what I go through each and every day was simply…gratifying. The readers were the cherry on top of that beautiful cake.
So, I’m back in my writing cave until the next event/book signing. I think I have 4 more this year. 2023 already has 6 booked with the option to do 2 more at least.
I’ll need to practice my social skills until then…
Happy reading, peeps. get those Summer reading lists moving (hopefully with a book or 2 from me!)