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A day trip, A snuggle-worthy read, and a book sale: my Saturday

Today I have the great pleasure of presenting a workshop to the Maine Romance Writers group. Yes, it’s a bit of a drive for me and you all know I’m not the best person for long drives in the car. But I’m sucking that up because I love this group of talented, warm, and fabulous authors and women and can’t wait to see them!.They are streaming the talk live to those members who can’t attend in person, so YAY for that!

Today, I’m also a guest on NN Light’s Snuggleworthy Readathon and A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS is featured as the snuggleworthy rad of the day! Love that. The fact the book is also on sale right now is perfect for all of you haven’t read it or are thinking of gifting to a romance reader on your gift list this year.

With Christmas just a few weeks away, Gia San Valentino, the baby in her large, loud, and loving Italian family, yearns for a life and home of her own with a husband and bambini she can love and spoil. The single scene doesn’t interest her, and the men her well-meaning family introduce her to aren’t exactly the happily-ever-after kind.

Tim Santini believes he’s finally found the woman for him, but Gia will take some convincing she’s that girl. A misunderstanding has her thinking he’s something he’s not.

Can a kiss stolen under the Christmas lights persuade her to spend the rest of her life with him?

Buy Links: Amazon // Apple // Nook 

Reviews for A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS 

Read a preview of A Kiss Under The Christmas Lights

Enjoy your Saturday, kids.

Until next time ~ Peg

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#SundaySnippet 11.10.19

I put that ad image up because it exemplifies to perfection why I just love Nell Newberry. The fact she has impulse control issues is my favorite thing about her. She’s a lot like me in that regard. Says whatever pops into her mind without thinking first. Love that! In this scene she’s just come to Charlie’s apartment for the first time for dinner. 

He was waiting for me at his apartment door after I’d checked in with the doorman. A lifetime of watching my mother be a guest and hostess had instilled certain behaviors in me, not the least of which was to always bring along a gift whenever I was invited to someone’s home. I carried a bottle of white wine in one hand, a pastry box filled with cupcakes I’d stopped to buy in Penn Station in my other.

“You didn’t have to bring anything,” Charlie said after closing the door behind me. He took both items from my outstretched hands than bent to give me a quick kiss on the mouth, like an old friend would.

My pulse tripled when his lips met mine.

“I wanted to make sure we got a real dessert this time,” I said, deadpan.

I almost tripped in my flat shoes while standing in place when his fabulous lips curled upward and the corners of his eyes narrowed into two devilish slits.

“We, or you?” he asked.

I simply smiled.

With a shake of his head he turned and, over his shoulder, said, “Come on back”

His apartment was in one of the historical, 1940’s brick structures you see all the time displayed in architecture magazines. Ten-foot ceilings with windows that ran from floor to crown molding across entire walls, and spacious rooms that over looked the upper west side of Manhattan.

“You’ve got a great view of the Park,” I said as I passed what had to be the living room. From twenty stories up I could see clear across Central Park to the East side. The trees were lushly leaved and in full bloom, and the perfect early twilit sky shimmered across the horizon. “Beats my view of the Hudson River any day of the week.”

I made my way into the kitchen, where I stopped dead in my tracks.

The building may have been old, but Charlie’s kitchen was anything but. Light gunmetal in color, the fixtures and appliances were all steel, shiny, and sparkling clean. A center island with comfortable looking barstools underneath it held a platter of cut fruit and vegetables on a serving dish, tiny plates next to it.

“Are you expecting more people for dinner?” I asked.

From the refrigerator he turned and cocked his head, a quizzical look on his face. “No. It’s just us. Why?”

I pointed to the platter. “This is my fiber allotment for the month.”

Even though he hadn’t opened the wine yet, I got drunk on the sound of his laugh: full bodied, deep, and rich, it filled my senses and had my girlie bits pulsing like a Quartz timepiece.

“You know how it is with crudité.” His lopsided grin peeked through his beard. “One carrot can look like an entire bunch when it’s cut. The same for apples and peppers.” He moved to the range and stirred something in a saucepan that smelled like Heaven and made my taste buds stand at attention. Then, he placed the spoon down on the counter, lifted the wine bottle and an opener.

He had a dishtowel tucked into the waistband of his pants and a sudden flash of him naked, with just that little piece of cloth covering him from hipbones to the tops of his thighs blew across my mind. I was glad his concentration was centered on his task because my face heated to what had to be lobster red at the thought and I didn’t want to have to explain the reason for the blush.

Intrigued? Well, you can read the rest of the book here: IT’S A TRUST THING.

Happy reading.

Until next time ~ Peg

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#LongandShortReviews blogging challenge 11.6.19

I missed a few weeks of this challenge due to editing and writing commitments, but I’m back now!!!

This week’s topic is a goodie: Books I’ve recommended and why.

Oh, mama, I’ve a million of them. But, for brevity’s sake, I’ll only name a few.

  1. Harry Potter and the Sourcerer’s Stone. The first time I heard about this book I was watching the old ROSIE O’DONNELL show with my then 8 year old daughter and JKRowling was a guest. Rosie went ape-crazy talking about how much she loved the book so my daughter and I decided to buy it and read it together. Well, after we finished it I recommended it to every single mother in my little girl’s classroom and all my friends as well. That sparked a whole reading frenzy in our school – something  I am thrilled about! Opening up this incredible magical world to people who routinely didn’t read much was wonderful.
  2. Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer. This book was such an eye opener to me about Mormonism and it’s origins that I read it in less than 2 days and then actually went out and bought copies of the book to give to people. Riveting, informative, and excellently laid out,  Krakauer did a phenomenal job at exposing the Mormom church and it’s founders.
  3. Midnight in the garden of good and evil, by John Berendt. Again, the moment I finished this tale of a murder in a tight knit community complete with a cast of characters that a writer COULDN’T make up, I went out, bought copies, and gave it to all my friends. The movie was such a disappointment because it could never convey the actual suffocating familiarity these people lived under. The upperclass mores, class distinctions and prejudices, and even the food, were all described so perfectly in the book. I read it three times. Truly.
  4. Devil in the Windy City by Erik Larson. An historical look at a serial killer during the world’s fair of the early 20th century. Told with precision accuracy and in depth emotion, this book kept me up three nights so I could finish it. Not for the squeamish, to be sure!
  5. The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan. A story of family, friendship, and enduring love set during WWII and the aftermath, this story just spoke to me on so many levels: female friendships, mother and daughter angst, interpersonal relationships, cultural snobbish. The perfect blend of fact and fiction.

Let’s see what some of the other writers in this challenge recommend: L&SR

Until next time ~ Peg

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Another conference come and gone, and some career-defining moments…

Last Friday and Saturday I attended the 2019 Fall in Love New England Romance Readers and Authors conference in Nashua, NH. This was the third time I’ve attended and the first where I was a board member ( I was in charge of swag collection). Once again, I had a marvelous time interacting with the wonderful romance readers who faithfully flock to the conference, registering for it the moment the links go up on line! They are thrilled to meet their favorite authors, visit my beautiful state, and have a fun-filled weekend away.

There were so many memorable moments from this year’s conference that it would take me a week of blogging to state them all. Certain ones do stand out, though.

This year I was part of two workshops given to the readers. One was on romance tropes with NHRWA chaptermate Cheri Allan, the second was on writing humor into your stories with (again) Cheri Allan and another NHRWA writing pal, Lisa Olech.

 

Giving those two workshops introduced me -and my writing – to an entirely new group of readers. The payback for this? At Saturday’s booksigning the majority of readers who purchased my books told me they were so entertained by the workshops I co-presented they “had” to read my work.

That, my dear friends, is a career-defining moment.

When a typically introverted author can make such a good impression – publicly – on a group of people with their spoken words so much so that they want to read their words/stories,  well, let’s just say that’s like finding a golden ticket! My heart simply sighed with  pride.

From the halloween costume dinner, to the annual hotel trick-or-treating, to the fun workshops and booksigning, the weekend was a success in  every way. Here are some photos: My costume was an easy one this year – I pretended I was going to my old nursing job! Hee hee

Authors Clair Brett ( Mad Hatter) Artemis Crow ( A demon crow) and my wonderful friend and author Kari Lemor ( as a fairy) Unfortunately I clipped her wings in this photo!

Sexy Alice in Wonderland ( Marianne Rice) needed some nursing attention!

My table for the Saturday booksigning.

 

All the fabulous signing authors before the sale began. Can you spot me? Here’s a hint: I’m not standing! heehee.

I need to send a special shoutout to a few people who simply touch my heart in every way, so bear with me.

To Wanda Foss Osepowicz – you are a delight to sit and chat with, and one of the loveliest people I have ever met.

Jennifer Kerfien – I am so glad I met you at the first FILNE. Your friendship and support means the world to me. Plus, you give great gifts!!!

Josee Giroux – Ditto! And I’d work with you as a health professional any day of the week. Hee Hee

To all my NHRWA sistahs who attended this year: Clair Brett, Cheri Allan, Kathy Hills, Lisa Olech, Linda Kepner, D.L. Jackson, Nora Leduc, Sandra Waine – you  ladies inspire me every day.

The all my ROMANCE GEMS sistahs who attended this year: Nora LeDuc, Elsa KurtSatin RussellKari Lemor, Lucinda RaceNancy Fraser Kathy Hills   it was such a blast meeting you all!

Next year, FILNE 2020 will have new leadership at the helm in Suzanne Eglington. I simply can not wait for the 2020 conference!!!

Until next time ~ Peg

 

 

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A Holiday release that’s the Cat’s Meow!!

The Holiday season is getting into swing and with it a plethora of holiday-themed books. One that looks especially delightful is MEOWS AND MISTLETOE featuring 8  holiday tales in the magical town of Cat’s Paw Cove, all by accomplished and prolific writers.

Here’s a bit about it:

FAMILIAR BLESSINGS by Candace Colt

To repay an old man who brought him out of war’s dark shadow, a former Army Ranger delivers a cryptic letter to a gifted medium in Cat’s Paw Cove. If what the letter says is true, the reluctant medium and skeptical Ranger must travel back to 1720 to save a young boy from the gallows.

CHRISTMAS AT MOON MIST MANOR by Kerry Evelyn

Lanie and Matt Saunders return to Cat’s Paw Cove two years after their first disastrous Christmas there. When a mysterious kitten leads Matt back in time, can he right the wrongs of the past and give his expectant wife the perfect Christmas?

CHARLOTTE REDBIRD: GHOST COACH by Sharon Buchbinder

With the help of hunky real estate agent, Dylan Graham, life coach Charly Redbird and her new kitten have found the perfect home next to a cemetery. Charly gets a new client right away, who happens to be her neighbor—and a ghost. What could possibly go wrong?

GNOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS by Kristal Hollis

When an empath who’s failed at every relationship impulsively kisses an enchanted garden gnome, he magically turns into a real man. Together they must find his one true love and end the curse by Christmas or he’ll be forever alone and trapped within his stone prison.

RING MA BELL by Debra Jess

In 1979, Michael Bell fell in love with high seas radio technician Dvorah Levi’s voice as she guided him to safety, but their marriage was cut short by a bullet. Forty years later, Dvorah still mourns him. Can a special holiday and a magical Sherwood cat bring him back?

PURRFECTLY CHRISTMAS by Mia Ellas

Faerie Sormey Johnson moved to Cat’s Paw Cove to live a quiet life as a human until a sexy werewolf deputy needs her help tracking down a murderous monster. When Sormey offers herself as bait, the cost may be more than she bargained for.

COLLYWOBBLES FOR CHRISTMAS by Sue-Ellen Welfonder

The fate of star-crossed lovers falls into the magical paws of a time-traveling kitten determined to right an ancient wrong and claim the greatest Christmas gift of all – love.

NEW YEAR’S KISS by Darcy Devlon

In order to overcome a family curse, Griffin Brooks, the town’s hotshot assistant fire chief, must earn his true love’s trust. Trina Lancaster knows she can release Griffin’s curse, but will her magical family baggage be a deal breaker?

Buy links: Amazon // Kobo // ibooks // Nook //

Alternate links:   Goodreads  // bookbub  //  Smashwords

This book releases on 11/1/19 – you can preorder your copy today!

Until next tome ~ Peg

 

 

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A new #bookrelease from #author Claire Marti

It’s always a great day in my house when an author whom I love, adore, and respect, drops a new book. Today, that author is the lovely Claire Marti.

I know Clair as a Wild Rose Press sistah, but she’s branched out to the indie market and her first book in a brand new independent series has hit the book reading world. Take a gander below

NOBODY ELSE BUT YOU, PACIFIC VISTA RANCH BOOK 1 

A smoking hot stuntman. A fiery horse breeder. And a 220-acre ranch too small for both of them.

She’s avoided Hollywood for years…

 When an arrogant Hollywood stuntman struts into Samantha McNeill’s breeding barn, sparks fly. She doesn’t care how mouthwateringly gorgeous he is, not when he assumes Pacific Vista Ranch’s resident horse breeding manager must be a man. Not to mention his job threatens to pull her family back into the paparazzi filled world they escaped from over a decade ago.

Now it’s at her door––wearing faded jeans and a wicked grin.

 Holt Ericsson can tell the beautiful redhead hates him on sight and the feeling is becoming mutual. But he will call in a favor and convince Sam’s legendary director father that Pacific Vista Ranch is the only suitable place left in California to film an epic Western. Holt’s invested all his savings in the movie and his entire career is riding on it. No way will he allow one irritating, sexy woman to stand in his way.

Sam intends to fight him at every turn…if only her heart didn’t race when they’re together. Holt does his best to steer clear of her…except all he wants to do is hold her close. The sizzling attraction between them is either going to burn up the sheets or burn down the ranch…

EXCERPT:

Swallowing a flutter of nerves in her throat, she rapped on the door. She was simply going for business. Ranch business. Bringing him dinner was simply being polite, like her father had raised her to be. So why was her heart hammering against her ribcage?

“It’s unlocked.” A muffled voice called. So much for manners. Holt apparently didn’t seem to bother with them.

She hesitated a moment. She smoothed back an errant strand into the ballet bun she hadn’t bothered to unravel. Although she’d changed out of her dance gear into her favorite old pair of jeans and a super-soft t-shirt, she hadn’t been in the mood to mess with her hair. Briefly, she regretted not being more like her twin sister, talented with makeup and hair. But, nope, Dylan had received the lion’s share of feminine genes.

Whatever. She opened the door, and then froze. He was rubbing his hair dry with a white towel slung over one shoulder. The pristine white material emphasized his bronzed skin. Tiny beads of moisture clung to chiseled pecs and the light sprinkling of golden hair on his chest was the only thing preventing him from looking like a marble statue. Barely. Shredded eight-pack abs and sharp V-cuts of muscle converged at the waistband of a pair of jeans as faded as her own. Her mouth suddenly parched, she swallowed. Hard.

“Sorry, I got stuck on the phone.” He grinned and tossed the towel onto a nearby chair.

She jerked her gaze up to his face, which had to be safer, right? Her pulse thrummed in her temple and heat descended to her belly. Damn. His face was definitely not safer than his gorgeous body.

“How’d you get that scar?” She blurted out the words, desperate to distract herself from his pure physical presence. He really needed to put on a shirt. Pronto.

“Scar? Which one?” He laughed, seemingly oblivious to her reaction, thank goodness.

“Forehead. The one across your forehead.” A flaw. Weren’t scars flaws? Why did it make him look just a little dangerous? And it did save him from utter perfection. Didn’t it?

BUY LINKS:

AMazon // B&N // Kobo // ibooks

A little about Clair

Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.

Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga.

Her award winning debut novel, Second Chance in Laguna, was a Finalist for Best Contemporary Romance in the prestigious Stiletto Contest, won best unpublished contemporary romance in the Heart of the Molly and third place in the Maggie. Book two in the Finding Forever in Laguna series, At Last in Lagunaand Book three, Sunset in Laguna, ​are available everywhere. Sunset in Laguna ​was a Golden Quill finalist.
 
Claire’s exciting new Pacific Vista Ranch series set on a horse-breeding ranch in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe, California, launches in September 2019. 

When Claire’s not writing, she’s teaching yoga. You can find her teaching at studios in sunny San Diego or enjoy fifty online classes on the international website www.yogadownload.com. A breast cancer survivor, Claire is a sought-after speaker on the power of yoga and meditation. She’s been published in numerous magazines with articles on wellness and is the author of a memoir, ​Come Ride with Me Along the Big C, on her experience beating breast cancer. 
 
Claire is a member of the Romance Writers of America, Contemporary Romance Writers, and the San Diego Romance Writers.

WEBSITE & SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Website //Facebook //Twitter //Instagram // Goodreads // Bookbub // AMazon

 

 

 

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#SundaySnippet 8.25.19

AS I continue with my no-using-my-right-arm imprisonment/status, I wanted to give you a little sumthin’ sumthin’ I’ve been writing, off and on, for about 2 months. Some days I get the urge to add to it, others not, even though it’s fully outlined and plotted.

I love my San Valentino family books and the newest one I’m penning concerns a branch of the San Val’s we haven’t seen yet. Luigi San Valentino is Sonny (CHRISTMAS & CANNOLIS) and Joey’s ( A KISS UNDER THE CHRISTMAS LIGHTS) cousin. He owns a deli and is married to Frankie’s sister, Gracie ( Both books, plus 3 Wishes Their oldest child is Madonna “Donna” and she works for her father in the deli. Madonna would really like to NOT work for her father, but, as the oldest, the responsibility has fallen to her, especially since her five younger brothers are all pains in the ass!

These scene is a long one and sets the tone of the book. It’s unedited so don’t send me any messages about misplaced modifiers, runon sentences, or tense issue. I already know about them because this is free-writing, not uberedited prose. Hee hee.

Chapter One

Life lessons for surviving in an Italian family, number 1: never let them see you sweat.

I knew something was wrong the moment I arrived at the deli. The first indication? The back door was unlocked, something my obsessive/compulsive father made sure never happened since he was the last one to leave the store every night. He did this religiously because I was the first one to arrive every morning at the crack-ass of creation, just like today, and had to plug in the security code on the wall box in order to gain entrance and get the deli ready for the day’s business.

My daily bread and roll delivery, courtesy of my cousin Regina’s bakery, sat outside the door in a large wooden crate. I grabbed  it, and hip checked the door wide open.

The second sign all was not as it should be was the lights were lit in the entrance hallway. Since I got to work when it was still dark out no matter if it was Daylight Savings time, or Standard, I routinely had to fumble to find the wall switch to illuminate the back end of the deli.

Not so this morning.

The final signal something was amiss was the smell.

I’ve been around raw meat my entire life since I grew up in my father’s kitchen and then worked at the deli he owned and operated in our neighborhood since I was eleven years old. The smell of animal blood was as recognizable to me as my mother’s knock-off L’ air du temp. Although, admittedly, mom’s perfume smelled way better. Most days, anyway.

The scent filling the air this morning was both familiar and different. Wrong, somehow.

“Hello?” I called out. “Is someone here?” An eerie sense of quiet surrounded me. I put the bread crate down on the tiled floor. Cautiously, I crept along the hallway leading to the front end of the deli, my hand sliding against the wall, my huge purse held in front of me like Wonder Woman’s golden shield of protection.

Being the oldest of six kids and the only girl to boot, I don’t scare easily. My brothers, are, each and every one of them, a pain in the ass to their cores and I’d grown up the victim of their arguably stupid shenanigans too many times to keep count. Cooked linguini placed in my bed to look like worms; a farting cushion stuck in my usual chair at the dinner table and just waiting for me to settle unknowingly on it; toothpaste spread on my sandwich instead of peanut butter. More times than I could remember one of them would hide in my closet and then jump out at me when I least suspected it. Anything and everything dumb and dumber they could think up to annoy me, they’d done. And still did to this day if they thought they could get away with it. Chronological maturity hadn’t made its way to their brains yet and they all still acted liked little boys when it came to infuriating me.

This spine tingling sense of unease ripping through me didn’t feel like this was one of their usual pranks, though.

But with my brothers, you never know.

“I swear to Christ, Rafeale,” I called out, naming the baby in my family and the one voted most likely to do something asinine, “if this is some dumbass attempt to scare me, I’m gonna make you suffer.”

I crept along the hallway, passed my father’s office and my own. Both doors were open, the rooms empty.

Now that I was closer to the front of the store, the smell was stronger, more pervasive and…ripe.

If you’ve ever left a piece of meat or pork out all day trying to defrost it, and forgotten about it until too late, you’ll recognize the odor.

“Vinny? Vito? Are you guys here?” I called out again, naming my twin brothers. Silence came back at me.

The overhead lights in the front of the store weren’t on so I couldn’t see much inside the deli-proper. A tiny bit of illumination filtered in through the storefront window, enough to make out the shapes of the little tables and metal chairs that lined the front windows. A few years ago my mother had the idea to install these tables so people could come in on a lunch hour, order, and then sit down for a few minutes to eat instead of taking it away with them. It turned out to be a good idea, too, because once we added them, lunch hour business doubled by the end of the first month. It was the one and only time my father had ever listened to one of my mother’s business ideas.

She never let him forget it, either.

When I’d left yesterday afternoon, the tables and chairs were all straight and set into their little spaces surrounding the front window. When he closed the store, my father would upend the chairs onto the tables so he could sweep and then mop the floor.

I sidled up to the back of the glass display cases and looked right, then left. Nothing was amiss, but that itchy feeling hadn’t left me yet. I slid my free hand along the wall, found the switch and threw the place into total light, something I never did at this time of the morning. If anyone passing on the street saw the lights, they’d think we were open for business, which we weren’t, not for another two hours.

In retrospect, I should have left them off and never have come into the store once I found the back door unlocked and standing open.

Hindsight, as my Nonna Constanza used to say, is for sciocchi—fools— who think too much after the fact.

She wasn’t wrong when she was alive, and she wasn’t now, either.

The seating section looked as if a bomb had exploded. Tables and chairs were scattered every which-way, some turned over, others pushed up to the wall, a few of them lying on their sides. Glass salt and pepper shakers were smashed, their contents sprinkled across the tiled floor in a dust cloud of seasonings, the glass embedded within the debris. The breadbaskets I was due to fill were in a tangled heap on the floor, alongside broken bottles and jars of stock items that had slipped from the wall shelves.

If it wasn’t an explosive device that had caused this mess, than at the very least some kind of fight had occurred here during the night.

My eyes darted across the mess. Fury had replaced that tingle of uneasiness as I came around the display cases, calculating how long it was going to take to clean all this up.

I stopped short in front of the mozzarella display I’d rearranged yesterday, when I discovered the reason for the sickening smell: a wet pool of what I knew instinctively was blood, splattered across a two foot by two foot area. It looked like an obscene Rorschach blob.

It was at this point I knew my annoying brothers weren’t attempting to play a sick joke on me and something else entirely was going on here.

I pulled my cell phone from my shield/purse, fingered in the 911 code and then walked back down the hallway, heading toward the back door I’d come into less than five minutes earlier.

After speaking with the dispatcher, who assured me she was sending a unit to the store immediately and a caution to touch nothing, I went back out to the parking lot and called my father.

***

“Madonna Maria, why didn’t you call me when you first saw the door was open?” my father asked, twenty minutes later. His thick white hair stood all on end and the right side of his face was a web of sheet marks, indicating I’d woken him and all he’d done was thrown clothes on to get here as fast as he could. Half of one shirt-tail was tucked into his suspendered pants, the other, hanging free. He had two different sneakers on his feet, another indication he’d flown the coop fast. As he stood behind the deli counter with me, our two uniformed neighborhood beat cops examined the blood splotch.

“What if somebody was hidin’ in here, little girl? You could’a been hurt. Or worse.”

My father, unlike my mother, tends to keep a tight hold over his emotions and reactions. Perpetually calm and unendingly rational, even when plagued with five obnoxious sons who invented the term rambunctious, Luigi Leonardo San Valentino was the endless calm in a sea of family bedlam. Since my mother had no sway over the behavior of her ragazzi—the boys, especially—she tended to either ignore everything or get so pazzo—crazy—that nine times out of ten any situation, even the most innocuous and miniscule, could escalate to the equivalent of Mount Vesuvius erupting.

So when my father called me by my full given name instead of Donna, like he had every day of my life, and then little girl, I knew he was genuinely distressed. The sight of the six foot three, two hundred and forty pound bear of a man whose DNA I shared, with his forehead creased like Venetian blinds and the corners of his lips pulled down into two concerned commas, made me want to ease his mind any way I could.

“Daddy.” I wrapped my arms around his barrel chest and squeezed. “Don’t worry. I’m okay. There was no one lurking in here, waiting to do God knows what. I got out as soon as I called the cops.”

My father rubbed a beefy hand down my back. Whatever he’d been about to say was stopped when one of the beat cops called his name and asked to speak with him, privately.

“We can use my office,” he told them.

“Can we get that cleaned up?” I asked, pointing to the stain. The smell was even worse that when I’d found it. “We’re due to open in an hour.”

“I’m afraid you won’t be opening for business today, Donna,” Angelo Racconova, one of the cops told me. Angelo and I had gone to school at St. Rita Armada’s Academy. He was three years younger than me and had been best friends with my brother, Vito, ever since they were both in second grade. To say he grew up in my house wouldn’t be a lie.

“Why not? Can’t you just,” I swiped my hand in the air, “mop that up and go file a report or something?”

“Sorry, no.” His tone implied there was no arguing with him. “We don’t know where the blood came from. We gotta leave it there for the forensics guys to deal with. Don’t touch it, or nothing else, okay?”

“Well, when can we open, then? We’ve got a business to run here, Ang. Customers who depend on us.”

“I can’t tell ya, that, Donna. Not today, maybe not even tomorrow.” He turned away from me. “Mr. S?”
My father slid me a side-glance, then nodded to the two cops.“Donna, call the crew. Tell them we’re closed today and we’ll be in touch later on. ‘Kay?”

Fuming, I nodded.

He led them into his office and before shutting the door behind them added, “And call your Uncles. Tell ‘em to get over here.”

He didn’t need to tell me which uncles.

I did as asked, first making sure the closed sign was obvious on the front door and then going into my own office. I notified our staff we were taking an unexpected day off and told them the store had been broken into. I omitted telling them about the blood I’d found. There was only one employee I couldn’t reach,  one of our delivery guys. I had to leave a voice message for him, figuring he was already on his way.

That done, I called my Uncles Sonny and Joey. They aren’t really my uncles, not in the true definition of the word, since they aren’t my father’s or my mother’s brothers. They were daddy’s cousins, boys he’d been raised with and who he’d grown side by side into men with and were still close with to this day. My mother, Gracie, has an older sister named Francesca, my Aunt Frankie, who’s married to  Joey. So that makes him my Uncle Joey. In reality, he’s my second cousin—I think—but in the ways of Italian tradition and culture, anyone senior in a close family is called aunt or uncle out of respect.

Yeah, it’s a little weird. But…famiglia, you know?

Both of my uncles assured me they were on their way.

“Don’t call the cops until we get there and see what’s what,” Uncle Sonny advised.

“Too late. They’re in with daddy right now.”

A long, drama-laced breath filtered through my cell phone. Uncle Sonny’s rep in the family is as “the fixer.” Need a brand new car for way under list price, no credit questions asked, minimal down payment required? Call Uncle Sonny and he’ll hook you up. Want to take the little woman to the hottest Broadway show for your anniversary? The one that’s been sold out for six months straight? Give Sonny a jingle and you’ll have two front row tickets waiting for you at the theater box office. For every family wedding and funeral we were treated to a fleet of no-cost, maxed-out limousines, courtesy of a guy who knew a guy who owed Uncle Sonny a favor. No one in my family ever really knew what the favors being paid back were, and no one asked.

The San Valentino’s originated don’t ask, don’t tell long before the armed forces claimed it.

Sonny’s heavy sigh through the phone spoke volumes.

“Just keep things under wraps as much as you can, Donna, until me and Joey get there, okay?”

“Will do.” I didn’t bother telling him I’d already notified our workers.

Daddy was still sequestered with Angelo and his partner, and I was getting antsy. By now, on a normal business day, I’d already have re-stocked the shelves and display cabinets, gotten the sinks and prep areas ready and put out the coffee urns, milk and cups for our regular morning customers. Since Angelo had ordered me not to touch anything, I couldn’t occupy my time with any of those ordinary tasks. Even though we probably weren’t going to open today, the hope was that we would tomorrow, so I decided to get a jump on the supply ordering. First, I needed to check everything in our walk in storage areas and our industrial refrigerator.

Our supply list seemed to grow larger each time I ordered, something that warmed my mercenary shop-keeper’s heart. More supplies needed meant more things were being sold, which amounted to greater – here’s the mercenary part – profits.

A cold blast of icy air smacked me in the face when I opened the freezer’s heavy door. The usual mounds of deli meats and cheeses, salads, and produce lined the steel shelves from ceiling to floor. I ticked each item and the amount we had off on the clip-boarded list I’d brought in with me. Then, I moved towards the back to see if we needed to order any of the bigger meat items we routinely kept stocked, when I tripped over something sticking out from between two of the metal shelves.

I reached out and braced myself against one of the shelve posts to keep me from falling flat on my face and the clipboard fell from my hand. When I stooped to pick it back up and see what I’d stumbled over, it took me a moment to realize what it was.

A sneaker.

A man’s sneaker. Black and white, it looked…familiar. Like I’d seen it in a magazine or a television ad.

I tracked the shoe from the sole, up across to the laces—which were dirty and knotted and spackled with little droplets like paint—and then all the way up to the tongue.

Then my gaze traveled further. Up a jeans-clad lower leg.

“What the—”

I left the clipboard where it lay on the concrete and moved closer to the leg. I don’t think I realized, truly realized, what I was seeing until I peaked between the two shelves the foot was poking through.

The one worker I hadn’t been able to notify not to come in today, Chico, was laying on his back, his wrists bound and folded in his lap, a frosty mask of ice crystals covering his head and face. A thin knife, the kind my father uses to clean fish with, was perched in the center of his chest, the hilt sticking up. Little frozen red and white balls covered his t-shirt.

I may not scare easily, but the amount of times in my life I’ve encountered a dead—no, make that murdered body—can be counted on the fingers of one hand and still have 5 left over. A loud gasp blew through my cold lips as I sprinted back to the door. I needed to tell the cops what I’d found. Now.

I yanked the industrial door open, shot through it, and barreled, full body, into a solid wall. The wall smelled, strangely, of citrus. I would have bounced back and hit the door if the tangy smelling behemoth hadn’t reached out and, with a grip forged in steel, imprisoned me within hands as large as the ham my mother was planning to serve for Christmas dinner in a few weeks.

Trapped and suddenly terrified—who wouldn’t be after finding a murdered guy?—my body reacted in that instinctual flight or fight way it’s programed to during stress or danger.

My body, as usual, chose fight.

One valuable lesson being the sibling who was routinely charged with breaking up brotherly fights has taught me, is how to get out of a death hold.

In a move I’d learned out of necessity I took a step forward instead of retreating like a person being held routinely would, bent my arms at the elbows, lifted them up and then twisted them inward. The front of my forearms collided with the giant’s forearms and when they did I pressed outward with every ounce of force I had.

The hold broke, as I’d known it would.

Before the giant could draw a breath and grab me again, I lifted my arms, gripped him by the ears and hauled his head down to meet the knee I’d raised.

A loud, guttural groan reverberated around us.

And then several things happened at once.

The orange smelling wall of a man sputtered, “Jesus Christ, Donna,” while he held his nose in his hands.

My father’s furious “Madonna Marie!” lifted to the ceiling at the same time.

And Angelo Roccanova’s “Holy Shit,” competed with both of them. Another besuited man I didn’t know stood behind the three of them, but he kept his mouth closed and just stared at the guy I’d knee-ed

Confused and breathing like I’d just swam the length of the Hudson river twice, my gaze bounced from my wide-eyed and worried father, to a shocked and nervous Ang and then to the bent-at-the-waist colossus in front of me.

My throat bobbed up and down and the moisture in my mouth evaporated when the hulk lifted back to his full height, his piercing and angry gaze mating with mine the entire time. As he’d stood tall I’d been forced to take a step back in order to maintain eye contact. The now closed steel refrigerator door barred me from going any further.

I knew those eyes. Intimately. When they weren’t filled with anger, like they were right now, I knew how captivating they could be. The palest of blue and heavily lashed, they tilted up a tiny bit at the corners. Jealousy ramped through me. How unfair it was that a man was gifted eyes like that when I’d been cursed with the most dull and boring brown color ever blended.

Light hair, a mix of natural honey and wheat husks, straight and clipped short covered his head. Shoulders that spanned almost as wide as the hallway were covered by a dark tan sports jacket, the pants a deeper hue of the same color palette.

“Donna,” Ang said, in a tone filled with fear, “why’d you punch Detective Roma?”

“I didn’t punch…wait? Detective?”

I tried to lick some moisture back into my lips but my salivary glands had gone dormant during the flight or fight response. I glanced at each of the men standing in front me, stopping last on the one Ang had called a detective.

With one hand still covering his nose, the man lifted his gorgeous gaze to mine and just like I had when I’d been seventeen and climbed into the back seat of his brand new Z8, I lost what little sanity I possessed.

“Hey Donna,” Tony said, shaking his head. “Long time, and all. I see you’re still as sweet and mild mannered as ever.”

The next few minutes were a buzz of activity.

Once I snapped my shocked mouth closed at having the man I’d given my virginity to, who was now a card carrying NYC detective, standing in front of me, a lifetime of ingrained Catholic confession made me blurt out, “I didn’t kill him, I swear. He was dead when I found him.”

The four men staring at me stared a little harder.

Before I could be hauled off to jail, an embarrassment my parents would never survive, I told them to follow me back into the freezer. Once they’d all seen who exactly it was I hadn’t murdered, Tony Roma, the virginity taker, ordered everyone out of the freezer.

Intrigued? Guess we’ll have to see where the story goes….

Check out my PINTEREST page where I’m storyboarding the book, MADONNA, MOBSTERS, and MOZZARELLA

Until next time ~Peg

The San Valentino Holiday Books, available at Amazon. // B&N // Apple // Kobo // GooglePlay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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An oldie but a goodie….

 

I’m off the internet for a few days, but I wanted to repost a few blogs I thought were fun. Here’s one from 2017 on my…voice. My real one, not my writing one! hee hee!

https://peggyjaeger.com/2017/07/19/i-hate-my-voice-but/

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#August and those #DogDaysOfSummer on the #romancegems

Every month the #RomanceGems have a new reader contest. This month, it’s the Dog Days of Summer. Each book featured has a dog/pet as a significant “character” in the book. My addition is THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME, my second MacQuire Women Series book from the Wild Rose Press and featuring an aging family black lab named RobRoy and a darling pair of puppies. You can see them on the bottom right of the cover in a picnic basket! TNPLH is a friends to lovers story that is one of my favorites! I fell in love with Quentin Stapleton before I ever wrote him down on the page, simply because he’s a real horse whisperer.

Symphony pianist Moira Cleary comes home after four years of touring, exhausted, sick, and spiritually broken. Emotional and psychological abuse at the hands of someone she trusted has left her gaunt, anxious, and at a crossroads both professionally and personally. Moira’s best friend, veterinarian Quentin Stapleton, wants nothing more than to help Moira get well. Can his natural healing skills make it possible for her to open her heart again? And can he convince her she’s meant to stay home now with the family that loves her – and with him – forever?

Excerpt:

“Remember when your cousin Tiffany got married in the backyard here?”

Confused, Moira nodded.

Quentin rubbed her bottom lip with the pad of his thumb. “When the Reverend told Cole ‘you can kiss your bride,’ and he swooped her off the ground, spun her around and kissed her silly? Remember what you said?”

“I think I said it was the most romantic thing I’d ever seen.”

He nodded. “The exact quote was, ‘I hope someone kisses me like that some day.’”

Her grin was quick at the memory. “Pat snorted and said I’d better be satisfied with licks from the horses and Rob Roy because no guy was ever gonna kiss me.”

“He wasn’t known for tact back then.” He rubbed a hand down her back as he held her. “Remember what happened later on behind the barn?”

Because she did, she couldn’t stop the heat from spreading up her face like wildfire. When she nodded again, he said, “You wanted to know what it felt like to be kissed like that and since I was your best friend, you thought I should be the one to do it, because you – quote – felt safe with me – unquote.”

“What was I? Eleven?”

“Thirteen. And I was more than willing. Almost broke my heart in two when you said afterward, ‘I don’t see what all the fuss is about.’”

“Q—”

“Hush.” He kissed her forehead. “Ever since that day, all I’ve wanted is a second chance. Now,” he pulled her body closer, wrapped both arms around her small waist, his hands resting just above the dent in her spine. “We’re both a little older, a little more mature. Some of us are much more experienced—”

“And conceited.”

“Experienced,” he said, the laugh in his voice quiet and seductive, “and things can be so much better.”

If you want to get a copy of the book, here are the links:

Amazon //B&N // Google Play // Kobo //

And please, enter the contest from Romance gems, too! Dog Days of Summer   and follow our daily blog !

Until next time ~ Peg

 

 

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#ConferenceTime

In one short week I head to NYC for the annual RWA conference. Can I just tell you how happy I am that I don’t have to fly  to the event this year??!!  A quick drive to New Haven and then a hop on board Metro North and I can be in NYC much quicker than if I have to fly to ports west of here.

Any hoo…

This annual conference has become for me, a time to re-energize, revitalize, and reevaluate my writing career. I get to see writing friends I only see at conferences since we live in different places, and I get to fan-girl my favorite authors and do a little harmless stalking. Hee hee.

I’ll be updating the blog daily with fun stuff from NYC and the conference, so be sure to check out my hashtag #peggyworksaconference on my twitter and instagram feeds.

Until next time ~ Peg

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