Tuesday Wedding Tales–Mercy Me by Pamela Ferguson

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Welcome to Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series, where wedding themed stories are the fare.

 

It’s week three in the Trying Out for Love promo and giveaway. Each week readers can enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post’s book excerpt for a chance to win one of six books in the Trying Out for Love boxed set or the complete boxed set of six books. Seven giveaways and seven winners! Be sure to read to the end of the post for an excerpt of Mercy Me and enter the Rafflecopter for your chance at a free ebook.

Today’s Tuesday Wedding Tales guest is Pamela Ferguson and her book in the Trying Out for Love boxed set is Mercy Me. Pamela is giving away an ecopy of her book, Mercy Me, so be sure to enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win.

As I’ve mentioned before, this whole series started with a bridal auction for bridesmaid places in the wedding party–a bridezilla who demanded her bridesmaid bid for a spot in her wedding. To make matters worse, she and the groom, who is rich, plan to use the monies from the auction to fund their wedding and honeymoon. Bridezilla even expected her sister to bid on her place in the wedding party. She didn’t and that caused a gigantic stink. Honestly, we’re not making this up. The truth is stranger than fiction sometimes.

If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen two very different story ideas from the bridezilla bridesmaid auction news article. I think Pamela has come up with a great twist on a wedding and an auction combined into one book. I know she’s piqued my curiosity. Read on to discover Pamela’s take on our bridezilla story starter.

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

by Pamela Ferguson

A wedding and an auction in one book? Now, there’s a combination that can create unintended consequences—exactly what an author needs to change a basic story into a page-turner! I toyed with the idea of writing about a celebrity who hosts a bridal vendor auction to raise money for a favorite charity. But then I thought, What if the bridal vendor auction becomes the catalyst for a bunch of unintended consequences? Specifically, what if a small town bridal gown designer who wants to participate in the auction suddenly learns the billionaire father of the bride—a man she’s never met—has sent his right-hand man to stop her?

That’s the premise of my novella, Mercy Me, and, believe me, that auction led to a bunch of unintended consequences in the small town of Lilac, where all my books are set. I love writing sweet romances set in small towns because I love exploring how character reveals itself in the day-to-day interactions that take place between people. There’s a saying that goes, “Don’t sweat the small stuff.” Yet, I believe the way people handle the “small stuff” reveals much about who they are—what they value, how they treat others, why they want what they want. At the beginning of Mercy Me, Chloe Belmont and Luke Stratford are strangers pursuing different goals. Circumstances force them to work together, and, as the story unfolds, they discover they have more in common than they thought.

I hope you enjoy reading Mercy Me as much as I enjoyed writing it.

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Mercy Me

By Pamela Ferguson

Bridal dress designer Chloe Belmont can’t believe her good luck. She’s been invited to participate in a charity bridal vendor auction for the daughter of a Wall Street billionaire. Maybe now the women of Lilac will finally appreciate her dress designs.

New York executive Luke Stratford can’t figure out why his billionaire boss has sent him to keep Chloe Belmont away from his daughter’s bridal vendor auction. What should’ve been a simple business negotiation turns personal when Luke realizes he has feelings for Chloe. As Luke discovers the real reasons for this assignment, will he be able to choose between doing his job and protecting the woman he loves?

Excerpt:

There had to be a mistake.

Luke Stratford squinted at his phone and double-checked the rhinestone-studded numbers on the mailbox. He studied the white farm house with its sprawling wrap-around porch. His gaze wandered to the distant Blue Ridge Mountains, mere foothills compared to the Cascade Range he’d left long ago. Still, the cool autumn air, clean and crisp as only mountain air could be, poked his senses, reminding him there was a world beyond the Manhattan skyscrapers he now called home.

The sausage and green pepper breakfast burrito he’d snagged at JFK for his 6 a.m. flight roiled his stomach. Why would his boss, Martin Dalwich, a man who could buy a town like Lilac twenty times over, send him here to prevent a bridal salon from working at his super-model daughter’s upcoming wedding?

As if anyone with an ounce of sense would need convincing to stay as far away as possible from that matrimonial three-ringed circus. Not that he didn’t like Azure Dalwich and her fiancé. They were great people. But a bridal vendor auction to benefit an endangered blue butterfly? No matter how noble the cause, an event like this was going to attract publicity hounds anxious to donate extravagant amounts of money in exchange for photo ops with the superrich.

I don’t care what you have to do, Martin Dalwich had shouted, red-faced, clutching the list of invited vendors. Keep Belmont Bridal away from this auction.

Luke shook his head. Sure, the boss had been under pressure lately, assuring employees the accusations of insider trading were lies fabricated by his enemies. Company gossip had it Dalwich now spent most days holed up in his office with his inner circle of close advisors. Luke had been surprised when he’d received the call, summoning him to Dalwich’s office. He’d gotten on upper management’s radar five years before when he’d spotted a ten-million-dollar accounting error that everyone else had missed. Dalwich had promoted him out of his account manager job and given him a private corner office with the words Special Projects on the door. Whenever an issue arose that needed additional scrutiny, it made its way through the management chain to Luke’s desk.

This assignment was nothing like the other financial problems he’d tracked down. Instead of discussing the insider trading rumors as he had hoped Dalwich might, his boss had stunned him by launching a rant about his daughter’s bridal vendor auction.

He shut off the engine and sat back against the seat. What had Belmont Bridal, with its frilly curtains, pink-shuttered windows, and mailbox shaped like a fairy princess carriage, done to tick off a hard-nosed billionaire like Martin Dalwich? Even if the auction invitation had been a mistake, why not allow Belmont Bridal to participate and lose? There was no way this small-town shop could compete with rich New York designers.

But asking how high when management said jump had proven to be a winning strategy, gaining Luke a Fifth Avenue condo, a closet of Italian suits, and name recognition with headwaiters at the top restaurants in New York. Sure, the days were long, and having to be on call 24/7 to investigate every obscure request meant zero personal life. But that was a fair trade for enjoying wealth and prestige beyond his wildest dreams, wasn’t it?

The sooner he convinced Belmont Bridal to stay away from the auction, the sooner he could return to New York, to the world where he belonged.

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Want to read more? Enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win the book. No purchase necessary. Or if you can’t wait, Mercy Me is available on Amazon. Winners will be announced February 20 at the end of the Trying Out for Love author guest posts. Remember, all six authors are giving away an ecopy of their book in the series. A boxed set of Trying Out for Love is also in the giveaway. Seven chances and seven winners! Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win.

 

 

About the Author:

Pamela Ferguson is the author of sweet romances set in small towns. Specializing in gossips, meddlers, matchmakers, and happily-ever-afters, Pamela loves dreaming up complications that wreak havoc in the lives of her characters. Her determined heroes and resourceful heroines are forever doing battle with narrow-minded mischief makers. Who knew there were so many bumps on the road to love? Wings of Love, the first novel in her small town romance series, won the 2017 RWA Golden Heart® Award for Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. True Hearts, the second novel in The Lilac Series, is available now on Amazon. Mercy Me, a Lilac novella and the third book in the series, is also available in the Trying Out for Love boxed set.

Social Media: Website    Facebook     Twitter: @pfwrites

 

 

 

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WEdnesday Writers Welcomes Donna Schlachter and A Bouquet of Brides collection

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Today I’m welcoming back author Donna Schlachter. She’ll be giving us an excerpt of her story A Prickly Affair which is one of the seven books in the Bouquet of Brides collection. The collection contains the stories of seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Can love help them grow to their full potential?

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter and read Donna’s excerpt.

 

 

A Prickly Affair

By Donna Schlachter

 

Lily Duncan—“Cactus Lil” to friend and foe alike—is as prickly as her name implies, and she likes it that way. Arizona in 1885 is a land as harsh as the moon, but Lil, born and raised near Cave Creek, feels at one with the sand, rocks, and giant saguaros. She loves living in the desert, and is happiest on her own on her small cattle ranch near Cave Creek, Arizona. Although she’s never been in love before, she pens romantic short stories for a magazine under her pen name of Daisy Duncan.

Peter Golding has never been west of the Mississippi, but a tender young woman named Daisy who writes of love and relationships intrigues him. Through reading her powerful descriptions of what love should be, Daisy’s stories have captured a part of his heart.

When Peter’s uncle sends him to find Miss Daisy Duncan and bring her back to New York City, Peter decides to take matters a step further and bring her back as his bride—surely then his uncle will be impressed with her. But when he arrives, he quickly realizes that Miss Lily Duncan is no shrinking violet waiting to be rescued. In fact, she has to rescue him several times.

Cactus Lil finds her heart torn between this stranger from the east and her desire for independence. If she surrenders to her feelings, will she be forced to do his bidding? When she finds a telegram from her editor telling Peter to bring her back or lose his job, she believes his attentions to be self-serving. Will Peter choose her or his job? And will she decide to surrender her heart or send him packing—again?

 

Excerpt:

Double D Ranch

Near Cave Creek, Arizona Territory, 1885

Chapter 1

Sally Jo sank to the ground beneath the pain of her wrenched ankle. “Drat. I simply cannot walk one more step in these infernal boots.”

Thomas Peabody, broad of shoulders and narrow of waist, knelt beside her, cupping her aching foot in hands more accustomed to roping steers or shooting the eye out of a gnat at a hundred yards. “Miss Sally, allow me to assist you.”

Sally Jo stared into his eyes. Why hadn’t she ever noticed they matched perfectly the color of the summer sky? “Why, Mr. Peabody, you’re most gallant.”

He straightened, reached a hand toward her, and pulled her to her feet. When she tried to put weight on her aching foot, a jab of pain like a hot poker shot through her, and she collapsed into his arms.

Right where she wanted to be.

He pulled her near, and she closed her eyes, offering her mouth to him. Greedily, as though drawing his very life essence from her, he covered her lips with his own. When she thought she would suffocate, she opened her eyes, and saw mirrored what her racing heart telegraphed to her own mind: this was love.

 

Lily Duncan surveyed the words written on the page as she chewed the end of her fountain pen. Ink blotches on her fingers attested to her hard work this morning. A clicking sound like a metronome tickled at the periphery of her hearing while she considered whether she needed to change the word telegraphed to something more ooshy-gooshy romantic.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She tipped her head to listen. What was that sound?

Lily tossed her pen on the desk and glanced at the silver clock resting on the leather-topped surface. Time was running out. She had less than two hours to finish this story and get it on the last mail stage of the day. That snooty editor, Mr. Hogan, in New York, was waiting for it.

Not that she knew for certain he was snooty. Truth was, she didn’t know anything about him.

She’d only met him through correspondence, so he could be any age, any degree of pretentiousness, any color for that matter.

But that didn’t stop her creating an image in her mind: middle-aged, a monocle, oiled hair parted down the middle and slicked back, muttonchop sideburns, and a beard, of course. A house on Fifth Avenue, a society wife, private carriage, servants, and twelve children. At least.

She sighed. Thinking about all the reasons why she didn’t like the man responsible for buying her stories to publish in his fancy eastern magazine wasn’t going to get the story written.             Or mailed.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pushed back from the desk. What she’d written would have to do. She couldn’t work with such a racket. She stepped to the window and listened. Not coming from the front. Must be out back. She crossed the bedroom-turned-office to the window facing the rear of the house.

This view was much more utilitarian than the rolling desert and giant saguaros surrounding the house on the other three sides. A small barn for her three horses, a hen house, corral, and privy filled her line of vision.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

Yes, this is where the sound came from.

And she knew its exact origin.

Lily hefted the Colt .38 on her hip. She’d take care of that she-rattler right now. She strode to the back door and stepped into the late afternoon heat of the desert.

The musky smell of mesquite, heated by the sun, filled her nose as she paused on the doorstep. How she loved the desert. She couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.

Certainly not a place like New York City. No way. Give her cactus and rocks, cattle and dipping tanks, horses and leather any day. Unlike her heroines, she wouldn’t darken the doorway of a town bigger than Cave Creek. And she sure wouldn’t fall for the first man who looked at her twice.

Not that many men looked at her even once. She wasn’t ugly. At least, not ugly like a javelina, with its short bristly hide and snarling tusks. And not ugly like a turkey vulture, with its naked head and red eyes.

She preferred men’s dungarees to skirts. She wasn’t much practiced at cooking and cleaning. But she could outshoot, outride, and outsmart most men she knew.

Which was probably why most men didn’t take a second look at her.

Lily neared the woodpile. She’d been meaning to clean that mess up, sweep out the old tinder from the previous year. Even prop the wood up on a couple of timbers to discourage snakes and other varmints wanting to find a warm place to spend the night. But her best range cow had a difficult birth, and her horses needed shoeing, and the hole in the roof . . .

Too much work for one person. Not enough hours in the day to get everything done. What had she been thinking when she started writing?

An escape, that’s what. Something to while away the long evenings.

Tsick-tsick-tssiicckk.

She pulled on a pair of leather gloves and tipped her head to one side. If she didn’t get that low-down, no-good rattler out soon, there’d be a passel of little ones slithering around.

She glanced toward the horizon. The sun dropped like a lead sinker as though intent on ensuring she missed her deadline to get that story mailed today.

And she sure didn’t need Mr. Persnickety Hogan upset that her latest installment of Love in the Wild Wild West wasn’t on time.

 

Want to read more? Check out the book on Amazon

About the Author:

Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid author who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.

Connect with Donna at:

http://www.historythrutheages.wordpress.com/

http://www.historythrutheages.com/ Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/DonnaschlachterAuthor

Twitter: www.Twitter.com/DonnaSchlachter

Other Books: Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ci5Xqq and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2gZATjm

Tuesday Wedding Tales—Bidding on the Bouquet by Catherine Castle

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Welcome to Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series, where wedding themed stories are the fare.

It’s week two in the Trying Out for Love promo and giveaway. Each week readers can enter the Rafflecopter at the end of the post’s book excerpt for a chance to win one of six books in the Trying Out for Love boxed set or the complete boxed set of six books. Seven chances and seven winners! Be sure to read to the end of the post for an excerpt of Bidding on the Bouquet and enter the Rafflecopter for your chance at a free ebook.

Today’s featured book in the boxed set is Bidding on the Bouquet, by Catherine Castle.

As I mentioned last week, this whole series began with a bridezilla news article. If you’ve ever watched any reality television and seen some of the bridezilla stories, you think of brides behaving badly—divas who think of no one but themselves, wedding dress disasters, wedding venue disasters and much more. But I’d never heard of this kind of bridezilla—a woman, marrying a rich man, who decided to make her bridesmaids bid for spots in her wedding party. The story struck a creative chord in several of the authors who read the article and who then took up the challenge to write a book using this story starter. And we all had some very interesting twists on the original story.

 

To Bid or Not to Bid—That is the Question

To bid or not to bid was a question a number of the real-life ladies, including the bride’s sister, must have asked themselves when they found out about bridezilla’s bridesmaid auction. By the way, the real bridezilla’s sister chose not to bid.

To bid or not to bid was also the question my heroine, down-on-her-luck grad student Marietta Wilson, briefly asked herself when she received an invitation, out of the blue, to “buy” a bridesmaid’s spot in a wedding for a girl she hardly knew.

Marietta thought that one-hundred dollars to reserve a spot to bid, and then spend who knows how much more money, was a waste of resources that could be put to better use.

But my bridezilla had a very special inducement for her bridesmaids. One of them would not only get a coveted spot in the wedding of the year, but a chance to catch the bridal bouquet containing a solid gold rose nestled among the flowers. Who could resist that? Obviously not my heroine, otherwise there’d be no story.

 

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Bidding on the Bouquet

By Catherine Castle

 

Two people from different social classes.

Two different philosophies.

One bridal bouquet to unite them.

 

Excerpt

 

You are invited to participate in the season’s most prestigious event.

Date: June 17

Time: 1:00 p.m.

Place: The Vandermere Estate

Event: The auction of bridesmaids’ positions for Chrissy Vandermere’s wedding

Light refreshments will be served

Chrissy is auctioning off a chance to be an attendant in her wedding.

Winners will be escorted down the aisle by New York’s finest bachelors,

and they will procure a bridesmaid-only spot at the tossing of the bride’s bouquet event.

Chrissy guarantees one of the bridesmaids will catch the bouquet,

containing a solid 14-carat rose-gold flower.

Opening bids begin at $100 and are non-refundable. Cash only.

You may make an opening bid higher than $100 if you choose.

Please RSVP by April 30

 

Marietta dug into the envelope again and retrieved a smaller card and matching envelope.

 

I, ________________________, will be pleased to attend the auction.

My opening bid is $_______

Should I win a spot, I will be available on August 9

to be part of the wedding party

for Chrissy Vandermere

and

Jock Sterlingson

 

Stunned, Marietta reread the invitation. Chrissy Vandermere? The only Vandermere she knew was her wealthy classmate Chip Vandermere, and they weren’t on real talking terms. Nor did they run in the same circles. They only had a few of the same classes and a couple of case studies together in which he had commandeered the group. The guy thought himself a born, or rather a privileged, leader. His attitude had driven her nuts, and, although he was one hot guy who knew he had undeniable sex appeal, she’d stayed away from him as much as she could. She was at the MBA program to learn and conquer, not be someone’s conquest.

Is he related to this Chrissy?

If so, the whole auction idea was totally insane. Chip Vandermere had so much money he could afford to pay bridesmaids to be in a wedding. No need to auction off the spots. Besides, why should anyone spend money to be in her wedding—or any wedding for that matter? And why had the bride invited her to participate? Even though she’d spent the last six years at an elite private college, she didn’t hang around with the sort of people who had money to throw away on frivolous things such as bridesmaid auctions. She’d spent her undergrad and postgrad years nose-to-the-grindstone, studying and pinching her pennies.

Then she remembered. As a college senior, she had contact with a Chrissy, a rich, air-headed girl, who talked of nothing but herself. She’d never mentioned having siblings. The beautiful, but not-very-bright, student, had asked Marietta to help her pass an exam—and not in the study-hard-so-you-can-pass way. She’d refused, convincing Chrissy to join the study group instead. Chrissy got a D plus, but she’d at least done it honestly. Marietta wasn’t certain the rich debutante had appreciated being spared the indignity of cheating. But if the Chrissy she knew was this Chrissy Vandermere, and if she remembered who she was after two years and invited her to bid on her bouquet, maybe she’d learned a lesson.

Then again, maybe not. Maybe taunting her with the idea she might win something of great value—a 14-carat rose-gold flower—was some sort of joke.

The time the two of them spent together, however, hadn’t been rosy. When she wasn’t trying to cram knowledge into Chrissy’s bubble head, Marietta continually dodged the girl’s questions about her background. She had tried to keep all conversation focused on learning. Chrissy, however, kept pressing for information: how did Marietta get into the elite-of-elite private college where everyone knew everyone else, where did she come from, and why didn’t she ever go out with the rest of the group? The simple truth was, unlike her other classmates, Marietta came from such a dirt poor, dysfunctional, crooked family that if anyone knew her real background they would ostracize her even more. Ducking the questions hadn’t satisfied Chrissy, forcing Marietta to leave the group to keep from being outted as a pretender and fake. Someone who didn’t belong in the exclusive circles of the rich.

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Want to read more? Enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win the book. No purchase necessary. Or if you can’t wait, Bidding on the Bouquet is available on Amazon. Winners will be announced February 20 at the end of the Trying Out for Love author guest posts. Remember, all six authors are giving away an ecopy of their book in the series. A boxed set of Trying Out for Love is also in the giveaway. Seven chances and seven winners! Click on the Rafflecopter link below for your chance to win.

 

Insert rafflecopter link

Enter Rafflecopter Giveaway by clicking box below:

 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Catherine Castle is a multi-award-winning author who loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, watching movies, and the theatre. In the winter she quilts and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place is in her garden. She’s a passionate gardener who won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

 

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE Award. A Groom for Mama, is a sweet romantic comedy from Soul Mate Publishing. Her latest release, Bidding on the Bouquet, from Forget Me Not Romances, is an inspirational contemporary romance. Her books are available on Amazon.

Connect with Catherine at her website  Twitter @AuthorCCastle or Facebook

 

Wednesday Writers–Gail Kittleson and A Secret Agent’s Inner Life

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I’m welcoming back Gail Kittleson to the blog today. Gail will be talking about the emotional state of the secret agent heroine of her books A Purpose True and With Each New Dawn, set in the tumultuous time of World War II.

 

A Secret Agent’s Inner Life

On the outside, Kate Isaacs, the heroine of A Purpose True and With Each New Dawn, strikes us as an inveterate risk-taker, a woman able to do anything. She wastes no time pondering proposed actions—she’s too busy doing something! At first glance, she wastes not a moment watching life pass her by, and we applaud her “go for it” attitude.

People are drawn to this sharp-witted, well-read young woman. She eloped with her husband straight out of high school, followed him to London after his Royal Air Force plane was downed, and searched for him far and wide. Nothing can stop her.

But I caught her in one of her quieter moments and posed a simple question. “If you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?” Her immediate response revealed a vast, yawning hunger in her soul.

“I’d have a normal childhood, with my mother and father alive and well.”

Ah…when I was writing Kate’s story, the old spiritual, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child…” never entered my mind. But looking back, it’s clear that the huge hole in Kate’s emotional being helped shape her into the adult she’s become.

Her mentor back in London warned her that waiting for an assignment would trouble her, and her sojourn as a secret agent in Southern France provided plenty of solitary times. During those periods when she had little control over anything, her mother’s face appeared from photos Kate had seen, and the reader finds her carrying on a conversation with this woman who gave her birth and died during Kate’s early childhood.

Kelly McDaniel, LPC, writes: “Hope Edelman’s book Motherless Daughters…offers help for women who experience early maternal death… ‘at some very deep level, nobody wants to believe that motherless children exist. …in our psyches …mother represents comfort and security no matter what our age.’ Italics mine.” https://kellymcdanieltherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/MotherHungerExplanation.pdf

 Kate may seem independent and in charge, but the look in her eyes tells another story. When all is said and done, when she’s avoided the Gestapo again in a heart-pounding near-disaster, when she’s all alone in an isolated cave and the future seems so tenuous, this mother hunger rises from a place deep within.

But it’s World War II, and no therapist or support groups exist. Kate’s role often demands solitude. In these honest moments when her hunger envelops her, she confronts her great need. She speaks with her mother…declares her longings out loud. And sometimes, in a way she finds difficult to verbalize, she senses her mother near.

Each confrontation of her deepest fears increases her breathing space a tiny bit more. As she risks her life for the freedom of la France, her own freedom grows, as well. This universal premise rings true for us all—facing our fears, though it’s terrifying, strengthens us in ways we could never have imagined.

About the Author:

 

Forever intrigued by the writing process, Gail researches ongoing World War II projects, including a co-written cozy mystery. She enjoys time with grandchildren, walking, and reading. Winters find her hiking with her husband under Arizona’s Mogollon Rim. She loves hearing from readers and facilitating writing workshops.

Social Media Sites: Website  Facebook  Amazon  Twitter  @GailGkittleson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Wedding Tales–Alice K. Arenz The Wedding Barter

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Today is the first of the Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series posts where I’ll be highlighting wedding themed stories.

To start it off the new series, I’d like to welcome Alice K. Arenz, one of my fellow authors in the Trying Out for Love boxed set, which came about because of a bridezilla story shared on the ACFW loop where we both are members. Bonnie Engstrom shared the outrageous news article with the loop with an offhanded comment about how 10 authors could come up with 10 different stories. The article piqued several authors’ Muses and resulted in an interesting series loosely based on the idea. The bridezilla story, which I’ll be revealing bits about over the next few weeks, sparked six very different stories, which Forget Me Not Romances, a division of Winged Publications, put together as single books and a boxed set.

Be sure to read to the end of the post for an excerpt of her book The Wedding Barter and a chance to win one of the six books in the set or the complete boxed set. Seven giveaways and seven winners!

 

Now I’ll let Alice tell you about how she ended up in this group. Welcome, Alice!

HOW A MYSTERY/SUSPENSE WRITER CAME TO WRITE A ROMANCE

or

WRITE A ROMANCE? YOU’RE KIDDING, RIGHT?!

 

And yes, that was my reaction when I was asked to join the group writing novellas for the “wedding/bridezillas” (as it was first referred to) boxed set for my publisher, Forget Me Not Romances. Though romance to some degree has always been part of my books in the past, I hadn’t attempted one in…well, let’s just say YEARS when I tried to break into Harlequin America back in the 80s. That didn’t go very well. My books were filled with too much comedy, too much mystery, and not enough sensual content—which was already too much for me! So, I accepted their comments and moved on.

Back to the story of how The Wedding Barter came to be part of the TRYING OUT FOR LOVE boxed set. To be honest, the encouragement I received, along with the idea behind why we were brought together for the project, sealed the deal. I was convinced it was the correct decision when, after a lot of prayer, the title for my “short novel” as well as the names of the lead characters were given to me. From there, it was a question of how to fulfill my commitment. That was a little more difficult because of my health issues. But, I’m a firm believer that God wouldn’t have given me the idea and details if He didn’t have the solution already worked out.

After stewing over the dilemma for about a month, my husband suggested that I dictate to him as he typed on his laptop. Seriously? Which is exactly what I asked him. He was not only serious, he was dedicated to the project—even when absolutely nothing was happening! He tried to understand that “my process” had always involved me sitting at my desk, eyes closed, fingers on the keyboard as I prayed and waited for the “connection.” I can’t even begin to explain how much more difficult it was to find a way to verbally describe what I saw happening in my head! But, like my characters in Barter reminded themselves, all it takes is a mustard seed of faith. That’s what I sought, and what we got as a result is a 49,000 word short novel—a romance based in the same fictional town of Tarryton, Missouri where The Bouncing Grandma Mystery series is set. No murders, but a few twists and turns, and, I hope, some laughs as well.

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THE WEDDING BARTER

by Alice K. Arenz

Riley Carr has been best friends with Amy Lawton since they were toddlers.  While Amy awaits her discharge from the Army, Riley’s been left in charge of helping to arrange “a very small, intimate ceremony with no fanfare” for Amy and her fiancé. But, Riley has something else in mind.

With the aid of two other friends, Riley presents her “wedding barter” idea to groom, David Herron. He agrees, providing best man, Mike Todd, stays in the loop to keep things from getting out of hand.

It doesn’t help that the giant of a man is threatening, overbearing, and just doesn’t seem to like her or her ideas. But, when Todd gives Riley an ultimatum of producing results in three weeks or he’ll take over, she’s determined to prove him wrong. . .in more ways than one.

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EXCERPT:

“You know we haven’t time for games, Riley.” Nat said with a touch of impatience. She glanced at her watch, then gave me a full measure of her soft brown eyes.

“Sorry.” I took a deep breath, then decided a reminder of our past seemed the best way to start. “Remember how much the four of us loved playing Barbie’s? I’d bet they were the best dressed dolls in town.” They looked a bit confused, so I rushed on. “One of our favorite things to do was plan their weddings.”

“Mrs. Lawton made the most incredible wedding dresses. Ours were usually in the bridesmaids’ gowns but were just as exquisite.” Hannah sighed, a tear seeping from her right eye. “Such beautiful memories. Mrs. Lawton would’ve been planning this wedding, sewing Amy’s dress as well as our bridesmaids’ gowns…if she were still here.” She sniffed. “Is it any wonder Amy wants this low-key? Even thinking about it has to be difficult for her. When her parents died, her whole world turned upside down. Quitting college in our sophomore year, having to sell the home she’d grown up in—it’s no wonder she joined the Army after losing everything she’d ever known.”

“I imagine that’s among the many reasons Amy asked us to…” Nat’s voice trailed off. She jerked once, then gave me a hard stare. “You’re not suggesting we do some kind of wedding auction?” Nat was incredulous at the idea.

“No, of course not. I did think about doing a raffle—”

“You know raffles are illegal in Missouri—unless you’re a church or some other kind of non-profit sort of thing.” Hannah said around a bite of calzone. It was uncanny how she seemed to know facts the rest of us were clueless about.

“Okaaay, but I’m pretty sure that doing something on a barter system wouldn’t be illegal.”

“Quid pro quo.” Nat.

“Tit for tat.” Hannah.

I nodded. “I know Amy would never want us to exploit her or David’s service record.”

“Which is really a shame. I’d bet most of the businesses in Tarryton would be more than happy to contribute items for their wedding. She is, after all, a hometown hero. And, David’s record—”

“I know, Nat, but she’d never forgive us. We’ve got to do this on the down-low. Surely we can come up with ways to barter our services for the things we’d need to give Amy the wedding of her dreams—without her knowing what we’re up to.”

I could literally see the wheels turning in Nat’s and Hannah’s brains. Awesome how one slight twist on an idea could add more enthusiasm than I’d ever expected or hoped for.

“Hey, we could ask my in-laws if we could use the barn where Chuck and I got married.” Hannah clapped her hands together like a kid at Christmas. “We’d have to clean it up, of course. And, well, there might be some damage from the tornado we had this spring. But, I know they’d let us use it for free.”

“That sounds terrific. I don’t think Pastor Grant will have a problem going to the farm instead of using the chapel, but I’ll check with him to see what he thinks.” It had only been a couple minutes yet things were already set in motion.

“Look, guys,” Nat said, standing, “I’ve gotta run, but I’ll mention this to Aunt Kelly and see what she says about supplying some plants for decoration. And, maybe if I play my cards right, I can get her involved, to…um, it’s best not to get ahead of myself. But, there’s something you should do first, Riley, and you’re not gonna like it.” Nat slung the strap of her purse over her shoulder. “Since your main contact for all of this is the groom, you need to speak with David before we go any further.”

As we paid our checks and said goodbye, all I could think about was facing a man I hardly knew and trying to convince him that our best friend’s wedding actually needed a little fanfare.

Want to read more? The Wedding Barter is available on Amazon, or you can enter the Rafflecopter for your chance to win the book. Winners will be announced February 20 at the end of the Trying Out for Love author guest posts. No purchase is necessary to enter this giveaway.

Enter Rafflecopter Giveaway by clicking box below:

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Though Alice K. Arenz is known for her cozy mysteries and romantic mystery/suspense novels, the Carol Award winning author has branched out with her newest release, The Wedding Barter, a romance that is both serious and funny.

Arenz is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Her first three novels were honored by two finals and one win in ACFW’s Carol Awards: cozy mysteries The Case of the Bouncing Grandma (a 2009 finalist), The Case of the Mystified M.D., (2010 winner), and mystery/suspense Mirrored Image (a 2011 finalist). These novels have been followed by An American Gothic, Portrait of Jenny, and short story, Home Cookin’.

Visit her at her website http://www.akawriter.com/

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEdnesday Writers–Barbara M. Britton talks about Jerusalem Rising

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Today Wednesday Writers welcomes Barbara M. Britton back to the blog. Barb writes Biblical fiction and brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. Today she’ll be talking about some women who helped rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Interesting info, I didn’t know, or remember. Welcome, Barb.

 

Wonder Women in Nehemiah’s Adventure

Thanks, Catherine.

I have taught the book of Nehemiah many times in Sunday School. My students stacked boxes to simulate Nehemiah and the Israelites restoring the wall around Jerusalem. What I missed during all those years of teaching, was that young women helped Nehemiah rebuild Jerusalem’s wall. Nehemiah 3:12 mentions the daughters of Shallum as construction workers. How did I miss this fact? We don’t know how many daughters Shallum had, or how they were named, but I bring Adah and her sister Judith to life in my novel Jerusalem Rising.

I also missed another woman who played a role in Nehemiah’s story. How did I overlook a prophetess? There aren’t many women prophets mentioned in the Bible. Ten women are named as having this title, and one is Noadiah from Nehemiah 6:14. Unfortunately, Noadiah is infamous. Nehemiah asks God to remember her, not for her help in building the wall, but for her shenanigans in trying to thwart Nehemiah’s success. Noadiah was called out for trying to intimidate Nehemiah. Why would a prophetess of God work against a man God had called to restore Jerusalem? We may never know this side of heaven.

Nehemiah faced foes inside the city of Jerusalem—like Noadiah—but he also faced foes from outside the city. Enemies abound in the book of Nehemiah and I enjoyed tying their journeys together in my latest novel.

How about you? Are you familiar with the story of Nehemiah, the daughters of Shallum, or the naughty prophetess Noadiah?

Jerusalem Rising

by Barbara M. Britton

When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.

Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?

Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.

Excerpt:

“So that is why you came?” She shifted her lamp. “Not to collect taxes but to set up an office here and bring in workers to rebuild the wall?”

He nodded. “You found me inspecting the wall tonight. The City of David will be a stronghold again.” The shadows dancing on his face could not soften his stare, which bore into her gaze like a hammered tent peg. “This wall will rise and these gates will be secured. God has made it clear to me what we must do.”

She trusted God. Or at least she had before her mother’s eyesight darkened. A year ago she had prayed for a miracle from God for her mother. No healing came. And where was the rain? She had prayed for showers for the fields. Othniel had prayed. Her father had prayed. The soil remained parched. People went hungry. But if Nehemiah had truly heard God’s voice, perhaps Adonai was showing His favor to His people once again.

“When will the stone masons arrive?” She didn’t know much about resurrecting a wall, but the king had renowned craftsmen.

“King Artaxerxes gave me letters for safe passage and a leave from the palace. I have access to the forests in the south. But as for workers, those already living here will secure this city.”

Her shoulders sagged. “We have no army. The drought has left families without food and coin—

“Adah.” His address held a tone of chastisement. “Do you believe in God’s provision? In answered prayer?”

Want to read more?

“Jerusalem Rising: Adah’s Journey” is available on Amazon, B&N, and other on-line book stores.

 

About the Author:

Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

 

Wednesday Writers Welcomes Patricia Bond and Building A Christmas

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Today I’m welcoming Patricia Bond to Wednesday Writers. Patricia will be talking about her historical Christmas romance novella set in the Civil War era, which deals with two tortured souls seeking inner peace after the Civil War work to build a life for themselves and the orphans they care for. They start by Building a Christmas. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of this book is donated to a disabled American veterans’ organization, to help combat the effects of PTSD. Welcome, Patricia.

Thanks, Catherine.

Building a Christmas is one of those stories that brought itself to life. Aspects of it had been percolating for quite some time. A while back, we visited Gettysburg and happened upon re-enactment weekend. In talking to the actors, I found out there really was a sharpshooter unit from Pennsylvania, and they really did wear green coats – wool, no less! in July! – with dull brass buttons, and hid in the trees picking off the enemy during battle. With the direction the world was taking, it seemed we have never stopped warring somewhere. I found myself more and more concerned with refugees fleeing the wars in the Middle East, and realized this, along with PTSD, was nothing new. Civilians and military are both afflicted and have been since our earliest history as a species. I watched news stories of returning soldiers, of children displaced and orphaned, injured and scared, and knew I couldn’t let it go unaddressed, nor could I let it end without hope. And then… Jeb was born. And so was my story.

Building A Christmas

By Patricia Bond

Colonel Nathaniel Walker has been ravaged by the Civil War nearly as much as his country has. Now seeking the sanctuary of home, he hopes to find solace from the dreams haunting him most nights. Instead, he finds an orphanage for war orphans has sprung up next door. Now, his guilt has faces – fourteen of them. And the woman who cares for them. Melanie Treymont exhibits more courage under fire than any soldier he’s ever seen. Is she the one who can help him rebuild his life and finally put his demons to rest?

Melanie Treymont hopes to make amends for her dead husband’s actions by taking in war orphans. But facing eviction, she may have to give up her plans of building a life for them. Unexpected help comes from her neighbor, Colonel Walker, who steps up to the challenge, despite fighting his own inner battles.

These two tortured souls unite for the children, working to build a life for them as well as themselves. They start by “Building a Christmas.”

 

Book excerpt:

He narrowed his eyes trying to see clearly through the night. One of the fenceposts was sorely misshapen. As he edged closer, Nathaniel could see it was not a fence post at all, but a human.

A woman. She seemed to be shaking.

The cold, no doubt, although why in the hell didn’t she just go inside if she was that cold? The thought occurred that perhaps she had no home, in which case, he decided, he would offer her the barn and a blanket.

He approached her and realized it was Miss Treymont. What the devil was she doing here?

He was about to speak, ask her that very question when he heard the sob. He stopped in his tracks. Crying women were not his strong suit. He’d had more than his share of them in the war.

And yet. . .

There was something so forlorn, so lost and full of despair about her. She needed someone to comfort her, someone to understand her.

Someone that wasn’t him.

He wanted to turn back. She hadn’t heard him yet, would never know he’d been there. So why wouldn’t his feet obey him?

He kept coming closer, finally stood directly behind her. His hands crept up of their own volition, soothing over her arms. He’d expected her to startle. Instead, her hand inched over to cover his in silent supplication.

Nathaniel turned her around, drew her into his embrace. She moved closer, put her hands and her head on his chest. His arms wound around her, hands stroking her back as she cried into his jacket. He closed his eyes briefly, feeling her warmth and softness and laid his cheek on her head. Instinct overcame caution and he softly kissed her hair.

They stood a long time until her sobs finally subsided. Feeling her control returning, Nathaniel reluctantly let her go. He gazed down into her eyes, tears still sparkling like the new-fallen snow, and wiped away the last trace of wetness from her cheek. In utter silence, they looked at each other then slowly turned away, each to return to their own home.

As Nathaniel crossed the field, he paused and looked back at her. She walked as though caught in thick swamp water, her movements slow, dragging. It seemed it took all her energy to simply put one foot in front of the other.

He knew the feeling well and he felt an unfamiliar emotion unfurl in his chest. After weeks and months of ruthlessly eradicating all traces of it, he thought, he realized he was feeling sympathy.

Sympathy for this twin soul of despair he’d just held in his arms.

 

About the author:

Books, history, hooped skirts and happily ever after. These are author Patricia Bond’s favorite things she weaves into stories. Add in a dashing hero, an intrepid heroine, and you’ve got her recipe for a historical romance.

Taking advantage of America’s rich history and incredible landscape, her settings have run from the Great Lakes, to rural Pennsylvania, to Baltimore/Washington and the Chesapeake Bay, and lately, the south of France.

Wife, mother, and grandmother, she loves retirement and living near the Great Lakes where she indulges her other passions besides writing. An award-winning amateur photographer, Reiki practitioner, and guild knitter, you may find her at the lakeshore, notebook in hand and camera beside her, drawing inspiration from her amazing surroundings. She may even invite you to pull up a rock and join her.

Patricia’s latest work (unpublished at this time) is a contemporary romance that has just placed 2nd in the Pages From the Heart contest.

You may contact Patricia at: http://www.patricia-bond.com/   Find buy links for this and all her other books on her website.

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers Welcomes Leeann Betts–Coffee Shop Inspiration

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Coffee Shop Inspiration

By Leeann Betts

I’m sitting in a coffee shop trying to figure out what to write about this month. All around me are people sipping java or tea, munching bagels, meeting friends, talking on phones—and it hits me.

I am looking in at the goldfish bowl.

For example, already today I eavesdropped on three friends who meet every two months to discuss a book, like a mini book club. While I couldn’t see the title of the one they are reading, it seemed to be full of witticisms, observations, and helpful insights. For example, one was about Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived. He married 1,000 women, which were his downfall. So if a man doesn’t marry 1,000 women, he’ll already be smarter than the wisest man who ever lived.

Later there was a table of older women gathering tables from near and far, even settling for round tables, to get enough seating for their group of about 20 women. Along comes one woman with a little girl, maybe about 4 or so. And I got to wondering if this older woman was the grandmother—or the mother. And plot ideas sprang forth immediately.

A few days ago, at a table nearby, sat a middle eastern man and two women. Sometimes they spoke in English, sometimes in another language that sounded Arabic. Sometimes they mixed their sentences together, using English words in the middle of a sentence with this other language. For example, I heard the word ‘embassy’ and ‘must be careful’ in the midst of other words I couldn’t understand. Got me thinking about a suspense plot.

Every Monday when I am here, there is a woman sitting nearby who is a counselor of some kind. I’ve heard her talking to a client on the phone about an issue the client was going through. Not details, but I saw this counselor’s demeanor change from the way she looked when she was typing on her laptop—doing right-brain work—to the way her face softened and her posture relaxed as she talked to her client—left-brain work. She’d make a good character where I could show both sides of her at work.

Right now there is a couple sitting next to me who are speaking Chinese, perhaps. I don’t understand a word they are saying, but they’ve been very animated at times, voices raised, hand gestures, smiles. Are they planning a business move? To buy a house? Get a cat? Have another child in contravention of China’s one-child law? What if one of the couple wants to return to China, but the other doesn’t? Will that impact their decision?

Sitting in a coffee shop may sound like a waste of time. Usually I come here just to get away from the laundry or to meet fellow writers. But perhaps I need this unique stimulation to get the old grey cells, as Hercule Poirot would say, working.

Do you write in a setting other than your home or office? If so, where? How often? And why?

About In Search of Christmas Past:

Grace Bellows, a senior in college, receives a Christmas card one month after her grandmother’s death, where her beloved Grammie challenges her to an old-fashioned scavenger hunt. Raised by her grandmother after her parents’ death in a car accident when she was eight, Grace has lived a jetsetter lifestyle with her wealthy grandmother. Now all she wants is to settle down and have a normal life.

Luke Fisher manages his family’s Christmas tree farm out of a sense of loyalty to his deceased mother because she gave up her dreams of being an attorney. He doesn’t want to live with any regrets, and longs to escape the confines of loyalty to live a life of adventure in the real world.

Can Grace and Luke solve the clues in her grandmother’s scavenger hunt and uncover the truth about their real feelings, or will the tension and their differences in goals and faith drive them apart?

 

 

About the Author:

Leeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released six titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with Petty Cash releasing in December. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published a book on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at http://www.leeannbetts.com/ or follow Leeann at http://www.allbettsareoff.wordpress.com/ All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.

 

Website: http://www.leeannbetts.com/ Receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter.

Blog: http://www.allbettsareoff.wordpress.com/

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1pQSOqV

Twitter: http://bit.ly/1qmqvB6

Books: Amazon http://amzn.to/2dHfgCE and Smashwords: http://bit.ly/2z5ecP8

 

 

Wednesday Writer Welcomes Ryan Jo Summer and Rainbows in the Moonlight

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Rainbows in the Moonlight by [Summers, Ryan Jo]Today, Ryan Jo Summers is back on Wednesday Writers. This animal lover has an interesting tidbit to share about her book, Rainbows in the Moonlight, that had me smiling. I have to tell you, Ryan Jo, I love this title! Welcome to the blog!

Thanks, Catherine.

Unlike most of my books, “Rainbows in the Moonlight” did not start as inspiration from a photo or from a chance observation or conversation. In fact, I really don’t recall how the story line came to me. It just happened of its own accord. Almost immediately I felt a connection to Koda and Dalton.

 

Another unusual fact about this story is I seldom write stories involving children. Just a personal comfort level of mine, I suppose. It’s easier to focus on the relationship developing between the hero & heroine without kids needing their page-time too. However, Koda’s young children, Ruthie and Terry, quickly became an integral part of the story. In fact, the charm of the story could not have happened without Ruthie and Terry.

What did surprise me was how instantly four-year-old Ruthie took over the pages. She was not supposed to be so gregarious and outgoing, but she most certainly is! There was no stopping Ruthie once she got going across the keyboard. Older brother Terry had no choice but to accept a quieter role in his baby sister’s shadow.

One more thing about “Rainbows in the Moonlight”: every single character is named for a dog I used to know. Many years ago I was active in the doggie world and was fortunate enough to know many wonderful pooches. Some of them are now have their name immortalized in the pages of this book.

The original Koda was an English Setter hunting dog. Dalton was a collie mix. Ruthie was a sheltie mix and Terry was an Australian Shepherd puppy. Dalton’s parents in the story; Cal and Judy, were really older tri-color collies. The only three characters not named for dogs are Candi (the bad girl of the story) and Koda’s co-workers Amy and Norm.

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Rainbows in the Moonlight

By Ryan Jo Summers

Blurb

Koda Jacobs urgently needs a nanny. Right now.

Fresh from prison, Dalton Clayton needs a job—and just about anything will do.

Divine Intervention steps in and tosses Koda and Dalton together. Koda struggles with the conflicts of her impulsive decision to leave her babies with an unknown, convicted felon. That just can’t be wise, can it? But she can’t help but see how quickly the children bonded to him and trust him. Or the reassuring sense that this is just right.

Meanwhile, Dalton stumbles through the spills and thrills of two young children, and his growing interest in their mother. A chance meeting brings him back to his estranged family as well.

Over time mutual attraction forms between Koda and Dalton as the bond between Dalton and the children deepens. A sweet, southern romance full of forgiveness, second chances, and fun kids.

 

About the Author

Ryan Jo Summers is a North Carolina writer who likes to pen romances with a twist. Love stories blended as inspirational, with paranormal, suspense or time travel–or several at once. She also writes non-fiction for regional periodicals. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry, so Ryan came by the writing gene honestly.

Her hobbies include poetry, bird watching, houseplants and gardening, gathering with friends, hiking in the forest, painting canvas and ceramics, and working wiggly word find puzzles, mah johngg or chess.  She lives in a 1920 cottage with a menagerie of pets. She often daydreams of the shore and frequently uses water as settings in her stories.

Contact Ryan and learn more about her other books at:
WEBSITE: www.ryanjosummers.com
BLOG: http://summersrye.wordpress.com

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/RyanJoSummers

FB:  www.facebook.com/pages/Ryan-Jo-Summers-author-page/312875648810797

 

A New Release for Catherine Castle–Bidding on the Bouquet an Inspirational romance

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My newest book, Bidding on the Bouquet,  An inspirational romance just released yesterday. Here’s a peek at the blurb and cover.

 

I’ll be talking about the book for a few days giving my readers some more tidbits about the story. For a sneak peek, head over to Amazon and check it out. It’s only $2.99 for the Kindle version. Also on Kindle Unlimited. A great book to add to your Christmas reading, even though it’s not about Christmas. But who doesn’t love a happy ending? I know I do.