Huge Harlequin Holiday Prize Pack Giveaway!


Just in time for the holidays, I have a fantastic Harlequin Holiday prize pack to give away to a lucky reader of In the Hammock!!


This massive giveaway includes:
  • One mass market paperback of each of:
    • Christmas with the Billionaire
    • Maybe this Christmas by Sarah Morgan
    • Snow Angel Cove by RaeAnne Thayne
    • The Heart of Christmas by Brenda Novak
    • The Lodge on Holly Road by Sheila Roberts
  • One copy of Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey in the digital format of your choice
  • One package of ornament charms
  • One box of Harlequin-themed gift tags





"Christmas with the Billionaire"
 (Summary from Goodreads) An embarrassment of riches: three sweet and sexy tales of holiday romance!

Billionaire under the Mistletoe by Carole Mortimer

When softhearted Sophie pulls off a last-minute Christmas miracle for a family in crisis, she wins the gratitude—and heart—of wealthy Max Hamilton. But at what cost?

Snowed in with Her Boss by Maisey Yates
Dutiful Amelia is stranded on Christmas Eve. (Bad.) She's at a five-star Aspen resort. (Good!) She's posing as her handsome boss's girlfriend. (So bad it's good!) But is she pretending…or practicing with Luc Chevalier?

A Diamond for Christmas by Joss Wood
Headstrong Riley's holiday run-in with hot gemstone tycoon James Moreau is unsettling to say the least. But she soon discovers that the only thing better than resisting temptation is finally giving in!


"Maybe this Christmas" by Sarah Morgan
(summary from Goodreads) This winter, ex-skiing champion, reformed heartbreaker and single dad Tyler O'Neil has only one mission—making sure his daughter, Jess, has the best Christmas ever. The fact that his best friend, Brenna, is also temporarily moving into his chalet at the overbooked Snow Crystal resort is a delicious distraction he's simply going to have to ignore. Theirs is the one relationship he's never ruined, and he's not about to start now.

Ski pro Brenna Daniels knows all about the perils of unrequited love—she's been in love with Tyler for years. But living with him is absolute torture…how can she concentrate on being his friend when he's sleeping in the room next door? Then when Tyler kisses Brenna, suddenly the relationship she's always dreamed of feels so close she could almost touch it. Could this be the Christmas her dreams of a happy-ever-after finally come true?
 

"Snow Angel Cove" by RaeAnne Thayne
 (summary from Goodreads) Nothing short of a miracle can restore Eliza Hayward's Christmas cheer. The job she pinned her dreams on has gone up in smoke—literally—and now she's stuck in an unfamiliar, if breathtaking, small town. Precariously close to being destitute, Eliza needs a helping hand…for her sick young daughter's sake as well as her own. But she's not expecting her holiday hero to almost run her down with his car!

Rescuing Eliza is pure instinct for tech genius Aidan Caine. At first, putting the renovation of his lakeside guest lodge in Eliza's hands assuages his guilt—until he sees how quickly he could fall for her. Having focused solely on his business for years, he never knew that what his life was missing was Eliza and her little girl. But is he willing to risk hoping for a yuletide romance that could lead to forever?
 
"The Heart of Christmas" by Brenda Novak
(summary from Goodreads) Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn't have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that's what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. 
Eve's worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There's no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve's definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve's happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she's counting on the best Christmas of her life!


"The Lodge on Holly Road" by Sheila Roberts
(summary from Goodreads) James Claussen has played Santa for years, but now that he's a widower, he's lost interest—in everything. So his daughter, Brooke, kidnaps him from the mall (in his Santa suit!) and takes him to Icicle Falls. She's arranged a special Christmas at the lodge owned by long-widowed Olivia Wallace and her son, Eric. And yet…Brooke wants Dad to be happy, but she's not ready to see someone else's mommy kissing Santa Claus.

Single mom Missy Monroe brings her kids to the lodge, too. Lalla wants a grandma for Christmas, and her brother, Carlos, wants a dog. Missy can't provide either one. What she'd like is an attractive, dependable man. A man like John Truman… But John's girlfriend will be joining him in Icicle Falls, and he's going to propose.

Of course not everything goes as planned. But sometimes the best gifts are the ones you don't expect!

"Her Holiday Man" by Shannon Stacey
(summary from Goodreads) Christina Forrester is starting over. After a financial scandal sent her ex-husband to prison, she's left raising her young son without any of the comforts of their old life. Budgets, coupons, lawn care—you name it, she's learning to do it all on her own. Well, almost on her own—she'd be lost without Gail Broughton, the kind widow across the street. But when Gail's son comes home, Christina's vow to never trust a man again is put to the test.

Will Broughton left town because he was tired of being "that poor man" who lost his wife and unborn child in a tragic accident. But years have passed and, with his dad gone and his mom alone, it's time to go home. Only his mother's not alone. She's taken Christina under her wing, and the beautiful and determined single mother awakens something in Will he thought was buried forever.

As Will and Christina are forced to spend more time together, feelings that are more than neighborly grow between them. And with Christmas coming and a child filling both houses with holiday cheer, it becomes nearly impossible not to embrace the joy—and the love—in their lives.



GIVEAWAY RULES: The publisher has generously provided a Harlequin Holiday Prize Pack for a lucky reader of my blog!
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US and CAN only
  • Books will be mailed out by the publisher
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Dec 10
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

"Adventure Time Crafts" Review

"Adventure Time Crafts: Flippin' Adorable Stuff to Make from the Land of Ooo"
by Princess Bonnibel Bubblegum, 
Cartoon Network, 
and Chelsea Bloxsom
Publisher: Potter Craft
Release Date: Oct 7, 2014
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Summary from Random House:

With Jake the dog and Finn the human, the crafts will never end! Learn how to stitch, paint, sculpt, and crochet more than 23 projects featuring your favorite Adventure Time™ characters. You'll find designs by fans just like you for plush toys, chic jewelry, crafty home decor, and stylish fashions straight from the Candy Kingdom:

* Reversible Jake/Cake Plush
* Marceline's Axe
* Bubblegum's Like-Like Sweater
* Peppermint Butler Pillow
* Oh My Glob, Nail Art!
* Fionna and Finn Hats
* BMO's 8-Bit Fuse Bead Coasters

And so much more! What the lump are you waiting for? It's time to D.I.Y.!
My Review:

This book is amazing!! It's full of so many awesome crafts based on the Cartoon Network show, "Adventure Time". I honestly want to make every single project in this book! I love that there are projects for all skill levels. Not ready to try sewing Finn's hat or the Jake plush? You can try the itty bitty felt finger puppets or bobby pins! All of the projects can be done exactly like the examples in the book, but the author also encourages the reader to make changes and add personal touches to each project. I just love that creative thinking is really encouraged, especially since this book will appeal to a young audience. It's so great to encourage kids to think outside of the box!

Most of the projects seem very inexpensive to make as well. I think $5-$10 and a trip to the local craft store could get you started on almost all of the projects. Many involve felt and they should be pretty foolproof since patterns are included in the back of the book for you to photocopy.

My favorite project may be the sweater featured on the cover, Bubblegum's Like-Like Sweater. The sweater is absolute genius and I can't believe I haven't thought of doing something similar already. The author takes a store bought sweater, and uses duplicate stitch (a kind of embroidery that mimics a knitted pattern) to add a simple version of her fave character to the front.

In case you didn't notice, the authors of this book are Chelsea Bloxsom and Princess Bubblegum herself! The intros to all of the projects are written in the princess' voice, and they are seriously fun to read! Even if you don't ever make any of the projects, an Adventure Time fan will love reading Princess Bubblegum's descriptions and looking at the annotated illustrations throughout the book. 

Bottom Line:
This book is a surefire way to make a tween, teen, or adult fan of Adventure Time a happy camper this holiday season!


Add on Goodreads

Buy from Random House


Disclosure: "I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

Harlequin Black Friday Sales!


I just wanted to share some great sales at Harlequin Books for Black Friday! There's even an early Black Friday Sale going on now!

Early Black Friday Sale: now – November 27
50% off select titles (30 titles: print & ebook!)
Includes recent releases such as No Limits by Lori Foster and Looking for Trouble by Victoria Dahl
Use coupon code EARLYBF at Checkout




Black Friday Sale: November 28, 12amET-11:59pm ET
Site-wide, 40% off (list price) on all titles, print and ebook
Use coupon code BF2014 at Checkout 



One book that's definitely on my list for the Black Friday sale is "Wish Upon a Snowflake"-a collection of Christmas short stories by Elizabeth Rolls, Christine Merrill, and Linda Skye.


Happy Shopping!!

"Wild" Review

"Wild"
by Sophie Jordan
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: Nov 18, 2014
Source: sent by publisher

My Rating: 4 of 5 Stars

Summary from goodreads.com:

Months after her boyfriend dumped her, Georgia can still hear the insults he hurled at her. Boring. Predictable. Tame. Tired of feeling bad, she’s ready to change her image, and go a little wild. What better way to prove her ex wrong than a hot night of sexual adventure at the secret campus kink club?

In the shadowy den of the kink club, she unexpectedly runs into Logan Mulvaney, her friend’s little brother. A player extraordinaire too hot for his own good, he may be younger, but the guy is light years ahead when it comes to sexual experience. Now he’s telling her to go home—“good girls” don’t belong here!

Georgia is tired of having others define her. She’s going to teach Logan a lesson he won’t forget—one white hot, mind-wrecking kiss . . . that leads to another . . . and another . . . and. . . . Realizing she’s way in over her head, Georgia runs.

Only Logan won’t let her go. Everywhere she goes he’s there, making her want every inch of him. Making her forget who she is. Who he is. And just how wrong they are for each other.
My Review:

This one is a bit difficult for me to review, the book is definitely out of my comfort zone, and there were things that I found very unbelievable. But I can't ignore the fact that I read this book entirely in one day and it was "wild"ly readable.

Two things held me back from completely enjoying this New Adult novel. First, I felt like "the club" was added for shock value and didn't add any substance to the story. There were many excuses as to why the two main characters were there, neither were there to sleep around. So it just seemed like the club scenes were for shock value. Secondly, even though the younger guy/older girl scenario is one of my favorites, it didn't work for me here, in fact Logan seemed like an older guy! Logan as a character just acted way too old. I could not believe that he was 18, the way he was written. It wasn't just his experience, but the whole way he carried himself was that of a guy at least 10 years older.

Even with those two issues, this book was still a really fun read. The author's writing flows so well, you just want to keep turning the pages. I actually did really like the story about Georgia wanting to be free of all of the (somewhat self-imposed) restrictions on her life, concerning college, her overall reputation, and even who she dates. This part of the story really did feel like what the New Adult genre should be about, and I think it was done really well. I would have loved for the rest of the story to be this believable and thoughtful.

Main Characters: 4/5
Supporting Characters: 4/5
Setting: 4/5

Romance: 4/5

Uniqueness: 3/5
Cover: 3/5
Writing: 5/5


Bottom Line: While I had a few issues with this book, it was very readable and I really liked the author's writing style. I'm interested in reading other books from her that may be more my style, and a little less "Wild."




Disclosure: I received a  copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Giveaway and Author Interview: "The Tree of Water"

To celebrate the release of The Tree of Water by Elizabeth Haydon, I am happy to feature an interview with the author, and a giveaway of  the book!


"The Tree of Water"
by Elizabeth Haydon
Publisher: Starscape
Release Date: Oct 28, 2014

Summary from goodreads.com:
The epic voyages continue in The Tree of Water, the fourth adventure in bestselling author Elizabeth Haydon’s acclaimed fantasy series for young readers, The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme.

As Royal Reporter of the land of Serendair, it is the duty of young Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme to travel the world and seek out magic hiding in plain sight. But Ven needs to escape the clutches of the nefarious Thief Queen, ruler of the Gated City, whose minions are hunting for him. His friend, the merrow Amariel, has the perfect solution to his dilemma: Ven and Char will join her to explore the world beneath the sea.

As they journey through the sea, Ven finds himself surrounded by wonders greater than he could have ever imagined. But the beauty of the ocean is more than matched by the dangers lurking within its depths, and Ven and his friends soon realize that in order to save thousands of innocent lives, they may have to sacrifice their own. For everything in the ocean needs to eat…




Interview with Elizabeth Haydon,
documentarian, archanologist and translator of Ven’s
journals, including The Tree of Water


Little is known for sure about reclusive documentarian and archanologist Elizabeth Haydon.

She is an expert in dead languages and holds advanced degrees in Nain Studies from Arcana College and Lirin History from the University of Rigamarole. Her fluency in those languages [Nain and Lirin] has led some to speculate that she may be descended of one of those races herself. It should be noted that no one knows this for sure.

Being an archanologist, she is also an expert in ancient magic because, well, that’s what an archanologist is.

Being a documentarian means she works with old maps, books and manuscripts, and so it is believed that her house is very dusty and smells like ink, but there is no actual proof of this suspicion. On the rare occasions of sightings of Ms. Haydon, it has been reported that she herself has smelled like lemonade, soap, vinegar, freshly-washed babies and pine cones.

She is currently translating and compiling the fifth of the recently-discovered Lost Journals when she is not napping, or attempting to break the world’s record for the longest braid of dental floss.

We had the chance to ask her some questions about the latest of Ven’s journals, The Tree of Water. Here is what she shared.


  1. Dr. Haydon, can you give us a brief summary of The Tree of Water?

Certainly. Ven Polypheme, who wrote the, er, Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme, lived long ago in the Second Age of history, when magic was much more alive and visible in the world than it is now. His journals are very important finds, because they tell the story of ancient magic and where it still may be found in the world today.

In the first three journals we saw how Ven came to the mystical island of Serendair and was given the job of Royal Reporter by the king of the island, a young man named Vandemere. The Royal Reporter was supposed to find magic that was hiding in plain sight in the world and report back about it to the king. As
you can imagine, this could be a fun but dangerous job, and at the beginning of The Tree of Water, we see that Ven and his friends are hiding from the evil Thief Queen, who is looking to find and kill him.

Amariel, a merrow [humans call these ‘mermaids,’ but we know that’s the wrong word] who saved Ven when the first ship he sailed on sank, has been asking Ven to come and explore the wonders of the Deep, her world in the sea. Deciding that this could be a great way to find hidden magic as well as hide from the evil Thief Queen, Ven and his best friend, Char, follow her into the Deep. The sea, as you know, is one of the most magical places in the world—but sometimes that magic, and that place, can be deadly.

The book tells of mysterious places, and interesting creatures, and wondrous things that have never been seen in the dry world, and tales from the very bottom of the sea.

  1. The main character in The Lost Journals of Ven Polypheme series is Charles Magnus "Ven" Polypheme. Tell us about him.

Ven was an interesting person, but he really didn’t think so. He and his family were of a different race than the humans who made up most of the population where he lived, the race of the Nain. Nain are an old race, a little shorter and stockier than most humans, with a tendency to be on the grumpy side. They live about four times as long as humans, are very proud of their beards, which they believe tell their life stories, don’t like to swim or travel, and prefer to live deep in the mountains.

Ven was nothing like the majority of Nain. He was very curious, loved to travel, could swim, and longed to see the world. He was actually a pretty nice kid most of the time. He had the equivalent of a baby face because only three whiskers of his beard had grown in by the time The Tree of Water took place, when he was fifty years old [around twelve in Nain years]. He had a great group of friends, including the merrow and Char, who were mentioned earlier. It is believed that his journals were the original research documents for two of the most important books of all time, The Book of All Human Knowledge and All the World’s Magic. The only copies of these two volumes were lost at sea centuries ago, so finding the Lost Journals is the only way to recover this important information.

  1. What kind of research do you do for the series?

I go to places where Ven went and try to find relics he left behind. Usually this is with an expedition of archaeologists and historians. I am an expert in ancient magic [an archanologist] so I don’t usually lead the expeditions, I’m just a consultant. It gives me the chance to learn a lot about magic and lets me work on my suntan at the same time, so it’s good.
 
  1. What is/are the most difficult part or parts of writing/restoring the Lost Journals?

Here’s the list, mostly from the archaeological digs where the journals have been found:

1] Cannibals
2] Crocodiles
3] Sunburn
4] Sand flies
5] Dry, easily cracking parchment pages
6] The horrible smell of long-dead seaweed
7] Grumpy members of the archaeological expedition [I could name names, but I won’t]
8] Expedition food [when finding and retrieving the journal for The Tree of Water, we ate nothing but peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives and yellow tea for six months straight]
9] When salt water gets into your favorite fountain pen and clogs it up. This is very sad.
10] Unintentionally misspelling a word in the Nain language that turns out to be embarrassing [the word for “jelly” is one letter different from the word for “diarrhea,” which caused a number of my Nain friends to ask me what on earth I thought Ven was spreading on his toast.]

  1. What do you enjoy about this series that cannot be found in any of your other books?

Getting to write about a lot of cool magic stuff that used to exist in our world, but doesn’t anymore. And getting to travel to interesting places in the world to see if maybe some of it still does exist. Also getting to show the difference between merrows, which are real, interesting creatures, and mermaids, which are just silly.

  1. What do you hope readers take away from this book?

I hope, in general, that it will open their eyes to the wonder of the sea, which takes up the majority of our planet, but we really don’t know that much about it down deep. There is a great deal of magic in the sea, and I hope that if and when people become aware of it, they will help take care of it and not throw garbage and other bad stuff into it. I have a serious dislike for garbage-throwing.

Probably the most useful secret I learned that I hope will be of use to readers is about thrum. Thrum is the way the creatures and plants that live in the ocean communicate with each other through vibration and thought. As Ven and his friends learn, this can be a problem if you think about something you don’t want
anyone to know about when you are standing in a sunshadow, because everyone gets to see a picture of what’s on your mind. Imagine how embarrassing that could be.

  1. Are there more books coming in this series?

Well, at least one. In the archaeological dig site where The Tree of Water was found was another journal, a notebook that Ven called The Star of the Sea. We are still working on restoring it, but it looks like there are many new adventures and different kinds of magic in it. The problem is that it might have been buried in the sand with an ancient bottle of magical sun tan lotion, which seems to have leaked onto some of the journal’s pages. This is a very sad event in archaeology, but we are working hard to restore it.

As for other books, it’s not like we just write them out of nowhere. If we haven’t found one of Ven’s journals, there can’t be another book, now, can there? We are always looking, however. We’ve learned so much about ancient magic from the journals we have found so far.

  1. You are a best-selling author with other books and series for adults. What made you want to write books for young readers?

I like young readers better than adults. Everyone who is reading a book like mine has at one time or another been a young reader, but not everyone has been an adult yet. Young readers have more imagination and their brains are more flexible—they can understand magical concepts a lot better than a lot of adults, who have to deal with car payments and work and budget balancing and all sorts of non-magical things in the course of their days.

Besides, many adults scare me. But that’s not their fault. I’m just weird like that.

I think if more adults read like young readers, the world would be a happier place.

  1. Tell us where we can find your book and more information about where you are these days.

You can find The Tree of Water anywhere books are sold, online and in bookstores. There are several copies in my steamer trunk and I believe the palace in Serendair also has one. I also sent one to Bruno Mars because I like his name.

At the moment, I am on the beautiful island of J’ha-ha, searching for a very unique and magical flower. Thank you for asking these interview questions—it has improved my mood, since I have only found weeds so far today. I am hoping for better luck after lunch, which, sadly, is peanut butter and raisin sandwiches, olives, and yellow tea again.

All the best,
Dr. Elizabeth Haydon, PhD, D’Arc


GIVEAWAY RULES: The publicist has generously provided a copy of "The Tree of Water" book for a lucky reader of my blog!
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
  • US only
  • Books will be mailed out by the publicist
  • Must be 18 or over 
  • Ends Dec 1
Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received an e-copy of this book in exchange for this post

Slack Friday! Holiday Ebooks from Pocket!

SLACK FRIDAY: NOVEMBER 28, 2014

Avoid crazed shopping crowds! Keep calm and carry on at home with these great Merr-E Holiday Treats from Pocket Star eBooks!



TIM CRATCHIT’S CHRISTMAS CAROL: THE SEQUEL TO THE CELEBRATED DICKENS CLASSIC

Jim Piecuch
November 17, 2014
$1.99

SUMMARY:

In A Christmas Carol, evil Scrooge was shown the error of his ways by three helpful ghosts and vowed to become a better person. Bob Cratchit and his family benefited most from Scrooge’s change of tune—but what happened after the goose was given, and Scrooge resolved to turn over a new leaf?


Tim Cratchit's Christmas Carol shows us Tiny Tim as an adult. Having recovered from his childhood ailment, he began his career helping the poor but has since taken up practice as a doctor to London’s wealthy elite. Though Tim leads a very successful life, he comes home at night to an empty house. But this holiday season, he’s determined to fill his house with holiday cheer—and maybe even a wife.

When a single, determined young mother lands on Tim’s doorstep with her ailing son, Tim is faced with a choice: stay ensconced in his comfortable life and secure doctor’s practice, or take a leap of faith and reignite the fire lit under him by his mentor, Scrooge, that fateful Christmas so many years ago.


THE PERFECT GIFT

Dani-Lyn Alexander
November 17, 2014
$.99

SUMMARY:

’Tis the night before Christmas… and businessman and single father Jason is scrambling to find the dollhouse of the season for his seven-year-old daughter Emily. But when he finally strikes gold at an obscure toy store, he’s met with resistance—literally, as a beautiful woman named Leah is grabbing onto the dollhouse box from the other side of the aisle, determined to get the same Christmas present for her own daughter.

Desperate not to let the other win, Jason and Leah forge a pact: stay together until they find the same dollhouse at a different toy store. It sounds simple, but ten stores and many hours later, they still come up empty. They might not be finding another dollhouse, but they sure are finding a lot to talk about and, as their mutual attraction grows, the unlikely pair finds the greatest holiday gift of all—love.


THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN

Rexanne Becnel
November 17, 2014
$1.99

SUMMARY:

Anna Spano is on the train to meet her father while she befriends Eva Stephens, an older woman who occasionally thinks she’s traveling to her home village in pre–World War II for the holidays. Recognizing Miss Eva’s disorientation as the same dementia her late grandmother experienced, Anna isn’t sure who is actually taking care of whom on the journey.

At the far end of the journey, Tom Thurston is anxious about what to expect when his daughter arrives. So he’s doubly shocked when a teary old woman embraces him, convinced that he is her long-lost brother.

At Anna’s insistence, he reluctantly agrees to bring the woman home with them and try to locate her family. And as Anna clings loyally to her new friend, and Tom struggles to be who Miss Eva needs him to be, both father and daughter begin to understand one another. And through Miss Eva, they learn the true meaning of family, and of love.


ROCKY MOUNTAIN MIRACLE

Christine Feehan
November 17, 2014
$3.99

SUMMARY:

When Cole Steele, a womanizer rumored to have killed his father, meets Maia Armstrong, a veterinarian rumored to practice magic, the sizzling romance could melt all the snow on his Wyoming ranch. And when an injured horse brings them together, Cole can’t help but believe that Maia casts spells on animals—and men. What else could explain the burning passion he feels for her and the thawing of his heart just in time for Christmas?


BRANDED

Colette Auclair
December 15, 2014
$5.99


SUMMARY:

The third lighthearted romance in Colette Auclair’s award-winning Aspen Valley series, Branded will take readers on a wild and dreamy ride through the beautiful valleys and mountains of Colorado. Professional, polite, and pearl-wearing, dressage rider and resort consultant Cordy Sims is the last person anyone would expect to initiate a weekend of debauchery. And yet, that’s exactly what she does after meeting a handsome stranger at an Aspen resort. Agreeing that they’ll leave personal details at the door, they indulge in a memorable weekend of carnal recreation. On Sunday night, Cordy doesn’t want to leave this charming, seductive man, but she must play by her own rules.

On Monday, Cordy sits in a meeting at the ad agency that’s hired her as a freelancer, and her professional and personal worlds collide. Turns out agency owner Jack Cormier looks just as good in the boardroom as he did in the bedroom. Forced to work together, Cordy and Jack can’t ignore the chemistry that crackles between them, or the deeper feelings that have developed. But secrets and scars from their pasts may prove too formidable, even for a love that’s as powerful as it is unexpected.



A LAST GOODBYE

J.A. Jance
November 24, 2014
.99
An Ali Reynolds e-novella

SUMMARY:

Find out where fan favorite Ali Reynolds’ new adventure takes her in A Last Goodbye as New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance brings her trademark breakneck pace to this fun and exciting e-novella, in which Ali Reynolds takes on double responsibilities as both sleuth and bride. Ali Reynolds is finally getting married to her longtime love B. Simpson. They wanted a simple Christmas Eve wedding, but nothing is ever simple with Ali. Even as a motley crew of her friends—Leland Brooks, Sister Anselm, and others—descend on Vegas, the bride-to-be finds herself juggling last-minute wedding plans and a mystery in the form of a stray miniature dachshund. Ali’s grandson rescues the little dog, but Ali’s not in the market for a new pet right before her honeymoon, and leaves no stone unturned in hunting for the dog’s owner. But what she finds is more than just a shaggy dog story…Bella’s elderly owner has vanished, and her son seems to be behind it. So it’s Ali and B. to the rescue—and still making it to the church on time!


And now, an excerpt from the book that I am most excited about for Slack Friday! "Tim Cratchit's Christmas Carol" by Jim Piecuch:

EXCERPT:

Dr. Timothy Cratchit emerged from his Harley Street office shortly after six-thirty in the evening. He was surprised to find that the yellow-gray fog that had blanketed London for the past week had disappeared, swept away by a biting north wind. He paused for a moment to gaze up at the stars, a rare sight in the usually haze-choked city. Then, pulling his scarf tightly around his neck, he walked quickly down the steps and along the path to the curb, where his brougham waited. The horses, a chestnut gelding and another of dappled gray, stomped their hooves on the cobblestone pavement. They made an odd pair, but Tim had chosen them for their gentle nature rather than their appearance. As the doctor approached, his coachman smiled and swung open the side door. The coach’s front and rear lamps barely pierced December’s early darkness.

“Good evening, Doctor,” the coachman said as Tim approached.

“Good evening, Henry,” the doctor replied. “How are you tonight?”

The coachman, who was tall and lean, wore a knee-length black wool coat and a black top hat, his ears covered by an incongruous-looking strip of wool cloth below the brim.

“Cold, sir,” Henry replied. Tim grasped the vertical rail alongside the carriage door and was about to hoist himself inside when he heard a shout. Stepping back from the carriage, he turned to his left, toward the direction where the sound had come from.

The gas lamps along the street penetrated just enough of the gloom to allow Tim to distinguish a figure hurrying toward him. As the person drew nearer, Tim could see that it was a woman, clutching a dirty bundle to her chest. Thousands of poor women in London made a meager living sifting through the city’s dustbins for usable items and selling them for whatever pittance they could fetch. The bundle this woman cradled so carefully probably contained an assortment of odd candlesticks, worn shoes, frayed shirts, and the like. Still, this was not someone who would normally frequent Harley Street.

“Wait a moment, please,” Tim told the coachman, resignation in his voice. He was eager to get home, and too tired to wait while the woman unwrapped the bundle. He reached into his trousers pocket, found a half crown and two shillings to give her so that she would continue on her way.

When the woman came to a stop in front of him, Tim noticed with surprise that she was young, perhaps twenty years old. She was small, not much over five feet tall, clad in a tattered dress covered by a dirty, threadbare gray blanket that she had fashioned into a hooded cloak. Her dark brown hair was matted in greasy clumps, and a smudge of dirt smeared her right cheek. Her face, though it was beginning to show the premature wear of a hard life, was still quite pretty. She stood with her brown eyes downcast, silently waiting for Tim to acknowledge her.

“Can I help you, miss?”

“Thank you for waiting, sir,” the woman said, still struggling to catch her breath. “I was hoping that you could take a look at my son. He’s very sick.” She tugged back a corner of what appeared to be a piece of the same blanket that constituted her cloak to reveal the face of an infant.

Tim suppressed a groan. It had been a long day—all his days seemed long now—and he was eager to get home. “Come inside, please,” he instructed the woman. To Henry he said, “This shouldn’t take too long.”

Unlocking the office door, Tim went inside, lit a lamp, and then held the door for the woman and baby to enter. Inside, the woman gazed at him with an earnestness that aroused his sympathy.

“I’m very sorry to bother you like this, Doctor. I didn’t mean to come so late, but I had to walk all the way from the East End, and it took longer than I thought,” she explained. “I never would have found your office yet, except that a kind old gentleman asked if I was lost and then pointed me to your door. A friend of yours, he said.”

“Well,” Tim replied in a reassuring tone, “you’re fortunate that I had to work late; I usually close the office at six.”

The woman shuffled her feet uneasily. “If it’s too late, sir, we can come back tomorrow.”

“No, no, that’s all right. Now tell me, what is the matter?”

“It’s my Jonathan, sir. He’s been sickly since birth, and now he’s getting worse,” she said. Tim noticed that her eyes were moist.

“Let’s take him into the examination room.” Tim led them in, lit the lamps. The woman laid the child on the table and pulled back the blanket and other wrappings. Tim was shocked to see that the boy was not an infant—his facial features were too developed—but he was clearly undersized, and Tim did not dare hazard a guess as to his age.

“How old is the little fellow?”

“Three last summer, sir.”

Tim studied the boy. His eyes were open, brown like his mother’s, and though they gazed intently at Tim, the little body was limp. No mental defect, but something physical, and severe. Tim placed a thumb in each of the tiny hands.

“Can you squeeze my thumbs, Jonathan?” he asked. The boy did so, feebly.

“Very good!” Tim said. Jonathan smiled.

“I didn’t know who else to go to, sir,” the woman explained as Tim flexed the boy’s arms and legs. “There’s no doctors who want to see the likes of us, but then I remembered you, sir. You took care of me many years back, when I had a fever. You came by the East End every week then, sir, and took care of the poor folk.”

“I’m sorry, but I treated so many patients that I can’t recall you, Miss, ah, Mrs.—”

“It’s Miss, Doctor. Jonathan’s father was a sailor. We were supposed to marry, but I never seen him since before Jonathan was born. My name’s Ginny Whitson.”

It was already clear to Tim that the child, like his thin, almost gaunt mother, was badly malnourished. That accounted in part for his small size. Tim also noticed that the boy’s leg muscles were extremely weak. Jonathan remained quiet, looking at the strange man with a mixture of curiosity and fear.

“Does Jonathan walk much?” Tim asked.

“No, sir, never a step. He could stand a bit until a few weeks ago, but now he can’t even do that. I think it’s the lump on his back, Doctor.”

Tim carefully turned the boy over to find a plum-sized swelling along the left edge of his spine at waist level. He touched it lightly, and Jonathan whimpered. “How long has he had this?” Tim asked.

“I didn’t notice it till a year ago, sir. It was tiny then, but it’s grown since. In the last month or so it’s gone from about the size of a grape to this big.”

Tim hesitated. He needed to do some research and then give Jonathan a more thorough examination before he could accurately diagnose and treat the boy’s condition. He did have several possibilities in mind, none of them good, but there was no sense alarming Ginny prematurely. After she had swathed her child in the bundle of cloth, Tim ushered them back into the waiting room, where he studied his appointment book.

“Can you come back at noon on Saturday? I’m sorry to make you wait that long, but I have some things to check, and it will take time.” Ginny nodded. “I’ll see then what I can do,” Tim said.

“Oh, Doctor, thank you so much,” Ginny blurted, grateful for any help regardless of when it might come. She shifted Jonathan to her left arm, and thrust her right hand into the pocket of her frayed and patched black dress. Removing a small felt sack, she emptied a pile of copper coins onto the clerk’s desk. Most were farthings and halfpennies, with an occasional large penny interspersed among them.

“I know this isn’t enough even for today, sir,” she apologized. “But I’ll get more, I promise. I’m working hard, you see, sir. Every day I go door-to-door and get work cleaning house and doing laundry, and save all I can.”

With his right hand, Tim swept the coins across the desktop into his cupped left palm and returned them to Ginny. He was touched by her attempt to pay him, knowing that she must have gone without food many times to accumulate this small amount of money. Her devotion to her son and effort to demonstrate her independence impressed him.

“There isn’t any fee, Miss Whitson. I’ll be happy to do whatever I can for Jonathan at no charge.”

“But I can’t accept charity, Doctor,” the surprised woman answered. “It wouldn’t be right, taking your time away from your paying patients.”

“We all need charity in one form or another at some time in our lives,” Tim said. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for a great act of charity long ago, and as for taking time away from my paying patients, that may be more of a benefit than a problem. Come along, now, and I’ll give you and Jonathan a ride home.”

Tim locked the office door and escorted Ginny and Jonathan to his coach as tears trickled down her face, picking up dirt from the smudge on her cheek and tracking it down to her chin. Jonathan began to cry soon after the coach got under way, and Ginny comforted him with a lullaby, one that Tim remembered his own mother singing to him. When the child finally fell asleep, both remained silent, afraid to wake him. Once they reached the narrow streets packed with sailors, beggars, drunks, and an assortment of London’s other poor wretches, Ginny asked to be let out. Tim knocked twice on the roof, and Henry reined in the horses.

As she was about to step out of the carriage, something she had said earlier occurred to Tim. “One moment, Miss Whitson. You mentioned that someone directed you to my office. Do you know who he was?”

“No, Doctor,” she replied, “and he didn’t say. He was an old gentleman, thin, with a long nose and white hair. Neatly dressed, but his clothes weren’t fancy, if you know what I mean, sir.”

Tim bade her good night and watched as she walked down the sidewalk, past gin mills and dilapidated rooming houses. She soon turned into the recessed doorway of a darkened pawnshop and settled herself on the stone pavement. Tim briefly thought of going back to find out if she even had a home, or if she was going to spend the night in the doorway. Fatigue slowed his thoughts, however, and by the time the idea took root, the carriage was a block away and gathering speed.

Tim lay back against the soft, leather-covered seat cushions, pondering which of his Harley Street neighbors had directed her to his office. Most of them would have ignored such a woman, or ordered her back to the slums. Her description, though, didn’t fit any of them. He shook his head, trying to remove the cobwebs from his tired mind. It must have been someone else, someone he just couldn’t recall in his fuddled state. No sense wrestling with the question, he concluded.

During the long drive across town to his home in the western outskirts of London, Tim tried to relax. It had been another in a seemingly endless string of days filled with consultations and surgeries. Tim had arrived at his office at five-thirty that morning, half an hour earlier than usual, to prepare for a seven o’clock operation on the Duchess of Wilbersham. She had been complaining for weeks about pain in her left shoulder, which she attributed to a strain that refused to heal. Since she never lifted anything heavier than a deck of cards at her daily whist game, Tim doubted the explanation, and several examinations showed no sign of any real injury. The duchess had a reputation as a hypochondriac who sought treatment for her phantom ailments from the best doctors in London, then bragged about how she managed to maintain her health by not stinting on the cost of good medical care. To placate the pompous woman, Tim had finally caved in to her demand that he operate to repair the tendons and ligaments she insisted had been damaged. Because the surgery was minor and the duchess, with good reason, abhorred hospitals, Tim performed the operation in his office, which was equipped for such tasks. A small incision and internal examination verified his suspicion that the duchess’s shoulder was perfectly sound. When she awoke, with more pain from the surgery than she had ever experienced from her imaginary injury, along with sutures and an application of carbolic acid to prevent infection, she swore that the shoulder had not felt so well in ten years. Tim wondered if she would be so pleased when the effects of the morphine wore off.

“Just give the doctor that bag of coins I asked you to bring,” the duchess had ordered her maidservant. “I won’t insult you, Dr. Cratchit, by asking your fee, but I’m sure there’s more than enough here to cover it, and worth every farthing, too.”

When Tim’s clerk opened the leather pouch, he found it contained one hundred gold guineas. Tim could not help contrasting the way his wealthy patients tossed gold coins about with Ginny Whitson’s offer of her pathetic little hoard of coppers. The thought stirred memories of his own childhood, when pennies were so scarce that he and his brothers and sisters sometimes had to roam through frigid alleys to scavenge wood scraps to keep a fire burning on winter nights. It was on one such night when he lay awake, shivering on his thin straw mattress, that he overheard the conversation that changed his life.

“I’m to get a raise in salary,” his father murmured excitedly, trying not to wake the children.

“I don’t believe it,” Mrs. Cratchit declared. “That old miser would die before he parted with an extra farthing.”

“It’s true, dear,” Bob Cratchit insisted. “I’ve never seen Mr. Scrooge like that. We sat for an hour this afternoon, talking. He asked a lot of questions about our family, Tim in particular.”

“I’m surprised that he even knew you had a family, Bob.”

“I was, too, dear, but he seemed to know a good bit about us. Why, from a few things he said about hoping we had a good Christmas dinner, I think he’s the one who sent the turkey yesterday. Who else could have done it?”

“Well, I hope you’re right, Bob. I’ll not believe any of it until I see the proof.”

Tim smiled at the recollection of his mother’s skepticism. She had always been the realist in the family, Bob the optimist. Tim had shared his mother’s doubts. She and the children had despised Ebenezer Scrooge, blaming his greed for the family’s struggles. But with his stomach filled to bursting with turkey left over from Christmas dinner, Tim dared to hope that his father was right, and that old Scrooge might truly have undergone a change of heart. After all, it was Christmas, a time when good things were supposed to happen.

The sudden stop as the carriage arrived at his front door shook Tim from his reverie. He was out the door before Henry could dismount from the driver’s seat and open it for him, a habit that Tim had observed left his coachman more amused than chagrined.

“That’s all right, Henry,” he said, waving toward the carriage house. “You and the horses get inside and warm up.”

Entering the large, well-lit foyer, Tim was greeted by his maid. Bridget Riordan was a pretty Irish girl, with long, flaming red hair pinned up under her white cap, numberless freckles on her cheeks and small nose, and green eyes that always seemed to sparkle with happiness. She took Tim’s top hat, coat, and scarf. “Dinner will be ready in a half hour, Doctor,” she announced, “so you can rest a bit if you’d like.”

“Thank you, Bridget,” Tim replied, watching her walk gracefully toward the kitchen. He loosened his cravat as he climbed the stairs, thought briefly of skipping the meal and going directly to bed, and decided that he could not afford the luxury since he had a long evening of work ahead of him.

As usual, Tim dined alone. At the time he had purchased the large house, Tim had expected that he would one day need the space for the family he hoped to have. However, the demands of his practice and the memory of his one previous and unsuccessful attempt at courtship kept him from actively pursuing any romantic interests. Now he sometimes wondered whether he would spend the rest of his life a bachelor, without the happiness he had enjoyed as a child in the crowded and bustling Cratchit home.

Solitary meals in the cavernous dining room always seemed to dim Tim’s pleasure despite the hot, tasty food that Bridget prepared. When he had hired them after buying the house, he had often insisted that she, Henry, and William, the gardener, join him in the dining room. But the trio had been servants since their childhood, and their previous masters, who had not shared Tim’s lack of concern with class distinctions, had impressed upon them the idea that it was improper for servants to associate with their master outside the scope of their duties. The dinner conversations had been stilted, with Tim trying to make conversation and Bridget, Henry, and William replying in monosyllables punctuated by “sir.” Tim had quickly given up the experiment, yet he still could not help feeling a pang of sadness, mixed with a bit of jealousy, every time the sound of their friendly conversation and laughter in the serving room rose high enough for him to hear. Still, he admitted that all three servants had warmed to him over the past two years, and had grown more willing to engage him in informal conversation. Perhaps one day they could dine together without the awkwardness of his previous attempts, he thought.

Shortly after nine o’clock, Tim retired to his upstairs study. There each night he reviewed the next day’s cases, looked up information in his medical books that he might need, and, if time permitted, read the most recent scientific journals to keep up to date on the latest advances in medicine and surgery. At one time he had contributed his share of new knowledge to the medical profession, but for the last several years he just could not find the time to do so. He really didn’t have the opportunity, anyway. How could he devise innovative treatments, he asked himself, when most of the patients he saw, like the duchess, had nothing seriously wrong with them to begin with?

Having finished his preparation for the next day’s work, Tim drew out his pocket watch. Not quite half past ten. He reached across the wide mahogany desk for the latest issue of the Lancet, which had lain unread for more than a week. Tim pushed it aside. It would have to wait until he had researched Jonathan’s condition. Tim walked over to the bookcase, scanned several volumes, removed a reference book, and returned to his chair. The coal fire that Bridget had stoked was still burning strongly; he would see if he could find confirmation of his suspicions regarding the boy’s problem, or alternative, less dire diagnoses, before retiring. Balancing his chair upon its two rear legs, he put his feet on the desk and opened the volume.

Tim did not know how long he had been reading. It seemed he had gone over the same paragraph a dozen times without registering the information in his mind when he felt how cold the study had become. He glanced toward the fireplace, where a single small log emitted a parsimonious warmth. The room seemed dark—looking over his shoulder at the gas lamp, he was surprised to see only a candle in a tin wall sconce, flickering in a chill breeze that came through a cracked windowpane. Strange, Tim thought, he was certain Bridget had closed the curtains. And when had the window broken?

His eyes better adjusted to the gloom, Tim turned back toward the fireplace. His surprise turned to shock when he looked down at his legs and saw that the new black trousers he had been wearing were now coarse brown cloth through which he could see the outline of his legs, withered and weak. The elegant marble of the fireplace had been replaced by cracked, ancient bricks. Leaning against them was a crutch. His childhood crutch.

Tim stared at the hearth, baffled, for how long he did not know. Then he started to get up, reaching for the crutch, only to find that his legs were so weak he could not stand. He gazed at his extended right hand. It was that of a child. He leaned back in his chair, rubbed his eyes, and when he looked around again, he was back in his own comfortable study. The gas lamp burned brightly, the fire still blazed in its marble enclave. There was no crutch to be seen. He flexed his legs. They were strong. He shuddered, perplexed at what had occurred. Although he was quite sure that he had not fallen asleep, he reassured himself that it must have been a dream. Not surprising, considering his thoughts about Jonathan, and the unavoidable realization that the boy’s plight reminded him so much of his own childhood illness. Tim stood, uneasy, and dropped the reference book on the desk before heading to bed.

Standing over the washbasin, he poured water from a pitcher into the ceramic bowl. He wet a washcloth and rubbed his face. Even in the light of the single gas lamp, he could see the creases beginning to form on his forehead, the dark circles under his blue eyes. A few strands of gray were sprinkled through his blond hair. He thought he looked at least a decade older than his thirty-two years. Combined with his short stature and thinness, Tim reflected that in a few years he would look like a wizened old man.

Too much work, that was the cause, he thought. Unpleasant work. And now he also had to do something about Jonathan Whitson, who had what was likely a malignant tumor. A boy not yet four, probably sentenced to death by nature before his life had a chance to begin. Five years ago, Dr. Timothy Cratchit would have tackled the child’s case enthusiastically and with optimism. Now he was reduced to performing fake surgeries to placate hypochondriacs.

Ginny Whitson had met him years earlier, and believed in his abilities. He only wished that he shared her confidence.

Disclosure: I received e-arcs of some of the titles shown.

Giveaway and Excerpt: "Redeemed"

To celebrate the release of Redeemed, the last House of Night book by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast, I am happy to feature an excerpt from the book, and a giveaway of a signed House of Night comic!


"Redeemed"
by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: Oct 14, 2014

Summary from goodreads.com:
In the final electrifying novel in the HoN series, Neferet has finally made herself known to mortals. A Dark Goddess is loose on Tulsa and the world. No single vampyre is strong enough to vanquish her - unless that creature has the power to summon the elements as well as the ability to wield Old Magick. Only Zoey Redbird is heir to such power…but because of the consequences of using Old Magick, she is unable to help. Find out who will win and who will lose in this epic battle of Light versus Darkness.
Excerpt


Excerpt #2:
Kalona streaked across the billowing thunderclouds almost in time with the lightning. The storm’s winds buffeted him, but Kalona took no heed of it. He had one duty, one responsibility, one edict from his Goddess. He would protect the people in need. No matter the cost, he chose to stand between Neferet and those he had come to value, even to love.
Suddenly, the clouds before him began to boil and change form until Kalona was staring into the glowing eyes of the White Bull. His body was an enormous cloud, his horns dripping with a rain of blood.
Though it has been eons since last we met, you are as predictable now as you were then. The voice blasted through Kalona’s mind. What mutually beneficial deal shall we make this time, Kalona?
“None, bull. Last time we met I rejected you in words, but not in my heart, nor in my deeds. Last time we met I allowed your Darkness to feed that which was weak within me and poison my life. This time I am different. This time I reject you in words, in heart, and in deeds.”
Really, Son of the Moon? Would you still reject me if I told you I had the power to restore to you everything you lost during the eons you have wandered the mortal realm?
“There is nothing you can give me that would be worth the price.”
But you haven’t even heard my price. It would be so very little in comparison to that which you have lost…

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1q3ybjP
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1qic7lO

GIVEAWAY RULES: The publicist has generously provided a signed copy of the "House of Night" comic book for a lucky reader of my blog!
All you have to do is fill out the Rafflecopter form below.
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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for this post
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