Saturday, November 30, 2013

An O'Brien Family Christmas by Sherryl Woods

This is another in the Chesapeake Shores Series. Laila was seeing Matthew on the sly. Why? Because he was younger than her and he had a bad reputation with women.  Her father found out and she quit working at the family bank. She is starting her own accounting firm. The O'Briens are going to Ireland for Christmas. Laila was supposed to go with them when she was dating Matthew but now she feels she cannot go. Matthew convinces her to join them.  He wants to start over with her.  Maybe they can do that in Ireland.

From Wood's site:
Dating Matthew O’Brien—a playboy and a younger man—cost Laila Riley her career and her parents’ respect. A high price, even for love—and when Laila decides it was just a fling, she breaks it off, despite Matthew’s objections.
But the O’Brien family has other ideas, and they conspire to get Laila to join them on a Dublin holiday. It’s a great time to get away from it all, but Laila has reservations about the trip. Matthew’s bound to be there, and she’s far from immune. What if she can’t resist temptation?
Meanwhile, the O’Briens are in an uproar over matriarch Nell’s unexpected romance with an old flame. Will she follow her heart despite the risks? And will Laila discover that some risks are actually once-in-a-lifetime opportunities?

Excerpt:

She'd lost the job of a lifetime because of a man! 

Every time Laila Riley allowed herself to think back—how hard she'd worked to gain her father's trust, how desperately she'd wanted to prove herself capable of running the bank he'd established years ago in Chesapeake Shores, only to throw it all away for what had to have been the most ridiculous fling of all times—it made her a little crazy. She was not the kind of woman who did anything because of a man. She wasn't impetuous or flighty. She was better than that, more sure of herself, more independent.

She allowed herself a sigh. Surely she must have been out of her mind to think that she and much younger playboy Matthew O'Brien could possibly have a respectable future. That had to explain her uncharacteristic behavior.

But because she'd taken leave of her senses, here she was, back in a tiny office, doing the sort of accounting work that bored her to tears. None of the hoped-for jobs at other area banks had materialized. Her credentials were impeccable. Everyone had agreed on that. But in the current economy, no one was hiring at her level. If that changed, she'd be the first person they called. Blah-blah-blah. She'd seen the encouraging words for what they were—so many empty promises.

Within weeks of quitting her job in a huff at the family owned community bank, she'd started berating herself for her foolishness and resenting Matthew for his role in it. If only he hadn't been so blasted irresistible, she'd thought accusingly. So determined to win her heart. She'd been caught up in the romance of his pursuit.

Even as she was blaming him for all that charm and sex appeal, she was forced to admit that Matthew himself had been totally supportive in the aftermath of her impulsive decision to leave her father's bank. He'd even found—or created, she suspected—an accounting opening for her at his uncle Mick's architectural firm, but she didn't want his handouts. She no longer wanted anything from him, in fact, except to be left alone.

Correction: she wanted sex, but that was out of the question. Lust, combined with loneliness and envy for all the happily married couples around her, was exactly what had gotten her in trouble in the first place.

Ending their misguided relationship within weeks of quitting her job had been her only choice. If she'd also packed up and left Chesapeake Shores, it would have been the ultimate trifecta, a complete upending of her life.

But, no, she didn't quite have the will to cut the ties to the town she loved and her infuriating family. So she was stuck here, alone and miserable and working for half a dozen pitiful clients who barely kept her in the rocky road ice cream that lately she craved by the gallon.

"Sulking, I see," Jess O'Brien Lincoln said, braving Laila's dark mood by stepping into the office uninvited. She looked around, took in the drab beige walls that needed paint, the tiny window with no view and the seriously scarred desk, shook her head, then sat on a chair that had seen better days. Not even the bright posters Laila had framed could save this place, and they both knew it.

"I am not sulking," Laila protested. "I'm working."

"Yes, I can see all the work piled up on your desk," Jess noted, her tone wry.

"It's on the computer," Laila informed her. "Haven't you heard? Financial records are computerized these days."

Jess tried to settle more comfortably onto the cramped office's one guest chair, gave up and shrugged. "So I hear. Not my forte."

Laila gave her friend a wary look. "Why are you here? I hope it's not on your cousin's behalf. I've told Matthew—"

Jess cut her off. "Matthew didn't send me."

Despite the convincing tone, Laila wasn't reassured. O'Briens were a sneaky lot. "Then what brings you by?"

"I can't stop in to check on a friend?"

"You could, but lately you've been so caught up in the extended honeymoon phase of your marriage that you barely leave the inn."

Read more here.

Pages: 248
Published: 2011

Right Next Door by Debbie Macomber

This is two books in one! Father's Day is about Cole coming to terms with the death of his son after Robin and Jeff move in next door.  He falls in love with Robin.  But Robin has not really come to terms with the death of her husband years ago. Jeff brings them together and love keeps them there!

The Courtship of Carol Sommars is quite similar to Father's Day. Peter's mom Carol is single. Jim's dad is single. Peter and Jim are best friends and think it would be great if their parents got together. Alex is sick of dating young brainless women.  He meets Carol. At first he thinks she is Peter's sister but sees her later after her car dies at a restaurant he is at with a date. For him it is almost love at first sight. Carol's marriage was horrible and she is in no hurry to marry again, even after 13 years since her husband's death. Peter and Jim conspire to get them to date and marry. Who knew the boys were on to something?

From Macomber's site:

About the Book

The Courtship of Carol Sommars

Peter Sommars is fifteen, and what he needs is a little more independence. Which is why he'd like his mom, Carol, to start dating. He even knows the perfect man—Alex Preston, his best friend's dad. As it turns out, Alex is interested, but Carol's doing everything she can to sidestep his pursuit. Which only makes Alex—and the boys—more determined!

Father's Day

Robin Masterson's ten-year-old son, Jeff, figures he needs a dog more than anything in the world. And there just happens to be one right next door! But the friendly black Lab belongs to Cole Camden, the unfriendliest man in the neighborhood. Still, Jeff persists…and soon his mom and Cole are looking at each other in a whole new way.

Excerpt

"I can't believe I'm doing this," Robin Masterson muttered as she crawled into the makeshift tent, which was pitched over the clothesline in the backyard of her new home.

"Come on, Mom," ten-year-old Jeff urged, shifting to make room for her. "It's nice and warm in here."

Down on all fours, a flashlight in one hand, Robin squeezed her way inside. Jeff had constructed the flimsy tent using clothespegs to hold up the blankets and rocks to secure the base. The space was tight, but she managed to maneuver into her sleeping bag.

"Isn't this great?" Jeff asked. He stuck his head out of the front opening and gazed at the dark sky and the spattering of stars that winked back at them. On second thought, Robin decided they were laughing at her, those stars. And with good reason. There probably wasn't another thirty-year-old woman in the entire state of California who would've agreed to this craziness.

It was the first night in their new house and Robin was exhausted. They'd started moving out of the apartment before five that morning and she'd just finished unpacking the last box. The beds were assembled, but Jeff wouldn't hear of doing anything as mundane as sleeping on a real mattress. After waiting years to camp out in his own backyard, her son wasn't about to delay the adventure by even one night.

Robin couldn't let him sleep outside alone and, since he hadn't met any neighbors yet, there was only one option left. Surely there'd be a Mother of the Year award in this for her.

"You want to hear a joke?" Jeff asked, rolling on to his back and nudging her.

"Sure." She swallowed a yawn, hoping she could stay awake long enough to laugh at the appropriate time. She needn't have worried.

For the next half hour, Robin was entertained with a series of riddles, nonsense rhymes and off-key renditions of Jeff's favourite songs from summer camp.

"Knock knock," she said when it appeared her son had run through his repertoire.

"Who's there?"

"Wanda."

"Wanda who?"

"Wanda who thinks up these silly jokes?"

Jeff laughed as though she'd come up with the funniest line ever devised. Her son's enthusiasm couldn't help but rub off on Robin and some of her weariness eased. Camping was fun—sort of. But it'd been years since she'd slept on the ground and, frankly, she couldn't remember it being quite this hard.

To read more, click here.

Pages: 408
Published: 2009

Friday, November 29, 2013

Under the Boardwalk by Carly Phillips


This was a cute story about Ariana searching for her twin sister Zoe. She knows Zoe is not dead because she would feel it. Ari decides to get a job at the casino where Zoe worked when she went missing.  She meets Quinn and they start falling in love. Through this story, Ari finally realizes she needs to accept herself as she is so she can fit into her unusual family.

From the author's site:
Ariana Costas may be a college professor in Vermont, but she’s still a Jersey girl at heart—at least according to her lovable, eccentric Greek family. Then her twin sister, Zoe disappears and her Jersey roots tug hard. Soon Ari is back home, ducking bullets and, to her chagrin, getting rescued by a hunk in a black leather jacket. Detective Quinn Donovan takes one look at the windblown beauty—and then looks again. If this lady isn’t Zoe Costas, it’s someone who looks exactly like her. Suddenly, Ari’s in trouble deeper than the Atlantic at high tide, and Quinn is trying to protect her without spilling his well-guarded secrets … as déja vu just might become the love affair of a lifetime.

Excerpt:
If walls could talk, the stories they’d tell.  Especially these walls, Ariana Costas thought as she glanced at the rows and rows of pictures leading down the stairs of her family home.  A true documentary of insanity if there ever was one, the infamous wall of shame, as Ariana liked to call it, portrayed her relatives at their conniving best.
Judging by the commotion she heard from the kitchen, her family was up to their usual tricks.  Her heart skipped a beat as she realized that sadly, nothing had changed in the five years she’d been gone.  Apparently not even a missing daughter could deter them from routine.  Pulling her black suit jacket around her like armor, Ariana stepped inside the kitchen and into the fray. Her mother’s sister who technically lived next door though you’d never know it with the amount of time she spent here, sat with the phone book, calling people at random.
“Hello? Do you need your chimneys cleaned?”  Aunt D asked in her high pitched voice.  “Winter’s around the corner and you can’t be too careful. You wouldn’t want to light a fire and discover there was an animal stuck inside, would you?”  After a short conversation she set up an appointment and marked it in her calendar.
Ariana was always amazed anyone fell for the scheme.  “What are you and Uncle John going to milk these unsuspecting people for once you’re inside?”  She asked as she walked over to the coffee machine.Aunt D merely winked at her before moving on to the next number in the book.
In the meantime, her handsome father sat at the rectangular table drawing posters.  A smile quirked her lips as she took in his clean-shaven head.  Prostate cancer seven years ago hadn’t sidelined him.  Instead it had started the family’s biggest money-maker, The Addams Family Act, derived from the old television show of the same name.  Her father had taken on the personna of Uncle Fester, her beautiful mother with her raven hair was Morticia, while the rest of her relatives rallied around.  Over the years they’d become the pride of Ocean Isle, her small coastal hometown, fifteen minutes outside of Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Ariana was so grateful her father was healthy and still in remission, she kissed his bald head.  Over his shoulder, she studied his poster.  “Earn while you Eat! Join a weight study,” Ariana read aloud.  “And how much will this study cost each participant?” she asked her father.
“Only what they want to give.  You know that,” Nicholas said without glancing up from his work.
She rolled her eyes.  Ariana had seen this scam and ones like it before.  Every Costas relative conned their way through life with a wink, a smile and legendary Greek charm.  The only shocking thing was that her family members managed to avoid  doing hard time, something Ariana chalked up to luck.

To read more, click here.

Pages: 271
Published: 2004

The Nightmare Thief by Meg Gardiner

Ignore the screams. They’re just part of the game.

Autumn saw the alien-killer gun in Ritter’s hand, heard the “let’s play” snicker in his voice, and ran. The non-smile lingered on Ritter’s face. The speedboat bobbed in the cove, engine rumbling. A man in a ski mask was at the controls. Another was over the side and splashing through the water toward her. He too had some kind of gun in his hand, and was holding it high so as not to get it wet.
He waved. “Autumn. This way. I’ll cover you.”
She dashed for the water, her heart racing. She realized she was smiling. Grinning. She yelled, joyful.
The stout gunman pointed at Dustin. “You too.” He reached shore and swung into a stance: arms straight, gun pointed at the other people on the sand.
Autumn heard Peyton shout. Noah cried, “Come on.”
She looked over her shoulder. Three more masked people, swathed in black, had appeared behind them, armed, charging toward the beach.
Autumn Reiniger wants something special for her twenty-first birthday. She has the sports car, the apartment, and the private college. Now she wants excitement. She’s going to get it.
Daddy has signed up Autumn and her friends for the “ultimate urban reality” game: a simulated drug deal, jailbreak, kidnapping, and manhunt. The authorities know all about it.
That’s why they’re disregarding the cries for help. How convenient for a gang of players taking it to the next level. They’re playing for real. When forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett and her partner, Gabe Quintana, are pulled into the game, the stakes are raised. After all, nobody wants to spoil Autumn’s fun. And nobody is leaving this party alive.

For an excerpt, click here.

I really liked this book.  It was full of action and drama.  Jo and Gabe are trying to figure out what happened to a lawyer who Jo suspected was murdered. As they get back from investigating the old crime scene, a limo stops by their parked truck. The bad guys have kidnapped a bunch of kids on an eighteenth birthday party. The bad guy make Jo and Gabe get into the car. After a few minutes, one of the boys make the car crash and they slide down the mountain.  How are they going to survive?  What the heck is going on and who are these bad guys?

Pages: 351
Published: 2011

Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Right Address by Carrie Karasyov and Jill Kargman


This book is like Gossip Girl for adults. Melanie, a former stewardess, married a rich man that lives at "right address" in Manhattan. She just wants to be a socialite but the women don't accept her. Cordelia lives in the same building but feels something is missing from her life.  Olivia lives on the floor above Melanie.  Her life is a fraud.
What a sad bunch of people! They are missing out on real life. I know I could not live that way!! Great story.

Summary from goodreads:
The Right Address sears through the upper crust of New York’s glittering Park Avenue scene to dish the dirt on the ladies who lunch, the gents who club, and the desperate climbers who will stop at nothing to join the backstabbing, champagne-sipping, socialite-eat-socialite stratosphere. 

When Melanie Sartomsky, wily Floridian flight attendant, snares billionaire divorcée Arthur “the coffin king” Korn, she is catapulted into the crème de la crème of Park Avenue society, where hiring the wrong decorator is tantamount to social suicide, and where, if you’re anyone, your personal assistant has a personal assistant. But Melanie quickly discovers that in the world of the rich and idle, malicious gossip is as de rigeur as owning twenty pairs of Manolo Blahniks. And despite her frenzied plunge into the charity circuit and the right dinner reservations, her neighbors are Givenchy-clad vultures who see her as nothing more than a reinvented trailer trollop. To make matters worse, when a snide society-rag journalist rakes her over the coals, Melanie’s reputation is toast. 

Meanwhile, Melanie is not the only billionaire in the neighborhood coming unhinged. Kleptomania, adultery, plagiarism, and a grisly Harlem sex murder are just a few of the secrets swirling under the pedigreed patina of furs and emeralds on Park Avenue.

Excerpt from barnes and noble:
Chapter 1
"She has zero taste."
"Zilch."
"What's that outfit all about? One-way ticket on the Tacky Express."
"Like Roberto Cavalli threw up on her."
"And her apartment . . ." "You've been?"
"No. But the Kincaids have."
"And?"
"Constance said it looks as if it was decorated by Charles and Wonder."
"Oh, right, the cheesy firm that just did that new Architectural Digest cover from Hades?"
"No. I'm talking Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder. Only a blind person could select those horrendous fabrics."
"Oh, Joan, you're too much!"
As Wendy Marshall and Joan Coddington reapplied their lipstick and skewered their fellow guests at the Bateses' cocktail party at the Union Club, Melanie Korn sat paralyzed, in earshot but out of view. She had been unlocking the door to her stall in the powder room when she heard her name in the same sentence as the words "cheap," "classless," and "fried hair." She froze. At first she thought they must have been speaking of someone else. But as the duo continued, sharpening their swords and tongues, rendering her a decimated Melanie-kebab before her very ears, the blood slowly crept to her face. With stealth moves, she relocked the door to the stall and crept back to the toilet, where she sat down on the lid and pulled her legs up to her chest so no one would know she was there. She felt like the little boy in Witness, only she was the murder victim.
"I mean, did you see those hideous metal cranes that she gave the Bates as an anniversary gift?" asked Wendy, incredulous. "Ugh! It was like Bangkok exploded in the foyer."
"Tell me about it," said Joan. "The worst."
"Admit it: they look shipped over from some Thai junk shop. You've got to be certifiably insane to buy those."
"Regina said they went right in the trash."
"I'm sure."
"She couldn't even give them to Goodwill. It would be bad will to rewrap those."
"Poor Arthur. He totally downgraded wives. I don't think he has a clue that Melanie is so déclassé and malelevé. Most men trade up with their second wives."
Trying to avoid Oksana Baiul-style waterfalls of Max Factor, Melanie lifted a quivering finger to her eye. She had thought those cranes were so chic. She'd seen something similar in the Powells' apartment in House Beautiful. And hell, they were expensive.
"Diandra Korn, she was another level entirely."
"A class act."
"I heard Arty was devastated when she bailed."
"Destroyed."
"I mean, she was the embodiment of refinement. This one will never have it."
"You wouldn't think it would be possible for one person to get everything so wrong. Her nails? The red is like secretary red. So much orange in it."
"Like I said, what do you expect from a pageant queen-turned-stewardess?"
As their laughter mixed with the sound of compacts snapping shut and Judith Lieber bags being reclasped, the two women exited to the dining room in a flurry of silks, gold, and perfume. As Melanie's knees were shaking both from squatting in a full-on Ashtanga yoga position and from sheer humiliation, she rose unsteadily to her feet. She listened again to make extra sure that her pummelers were gone, then walked out to look at herself in the mirror. What was wrong with her outfit? Roberto Cavalli was on Madison! Maybe it was a little tight, but hell, she had the figure for it, didn't she? Her jewelry seemed right--Catherine Zeta Jones had worn this very necklace to the Oscars. Arthur had told her...
Pages: 293
Published: 2004

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Working Stiff by Rachel Caine

Bryn got out of the service.  What will she do with the rest of her life.  She decides to go into the funeral business. Dead bodies don't bother her after being in Iraq for a few years. She found a job at Fairview Mortuary.  Her first day was rough.  Unfortunately she overhears a conversation that she is not supposed to. She gets murdered. Then brought back to life and gets involved in a plot to uncover who is selling Returne on the sly. How is Bryn going to survive?  She is already dead, but not dead!

I have read a few of the Weather Warden series by Caine.  I think I am going to like this series called the Revivalist Series. Bryn is a great character.  No matter what happens she does not give up. If you like the Charlie Davidson Series by Darynda Jones, you like this one!

Summary from the author's site:

Bryn Davies has a problem: her funeral home boss is reviving the dead for profit in the basement, using a new cutting-edge nanotechnology that only the military should have. Yet her problems multiply exponentially when she is murdered, revived, and set the task of finding out who leaked this all-powerful drug … before it's too late. A fresh, new, scientific tale of life, death, and the spaces in between.


Bryn Davis has her whole life ahead of her. A new job as a funeral director. A new start. But when she discovers her boss has a side business reviving the dead with a hijacked government pharmaceutical, she's not just in danger … she's dead. Revived, enslaved to the nanite drug to keep herself alive, Bryn finds an ally in mysterious stranger Patrick McCallister … and a new purpose as a spy for the pharmaceutical giant trying to recover its lost property.

Excerpt:
Bryn’s first embalming instructor had told her, straight up, that two kinds of people entered the death business: freaks and true believers. Bryn Davis didn’t think she was either one of those. For her, it was a prime career opportunity—a genuine profession.

Oh, she’d picked up odd paychecks during college as an office temp, dog walker, and one memorable afternoon at a chicken factory, but none of those had ever felt real to her. Joining the army after college had seemed like a good idea at the time (steady job, good wages), but four years in Iraq hadn’t made her want to be a career soldier; it had, though, given her a bedrock understanding of the fragility of human life. After that, dead bodies didn’t scare or disgust her.

One good thing she could say for her time in the military: it had led her where she was now, to this job . . . a good, stable one, and even better, an important one.

Bryn smiled a little at the thought. Maybe she was a true believer, after all.

She smoothed the white lab coat—with her name stitched on the left breast—and felt a warm surge of accomplishment. Bryn Davis, Funeral Director, Fairview Mortuary. Her business cards rested in a neat little cardboard box on her shiny new desk, all sober black ink in raised type, with the Fairview logo embossed in the corner. They wouldn’t stay in the box for long; Fairview had furnished her with nice wooden desk accents, including a business card holder, and just as soon as possible, she intended to make that desk her own. She’d never had an office before.

The cards and desk were elegant, like everything here. The room was neat and clean, filled with sober antique furniture and soft, dark cloth. Deep carpets. Subtle fragrances. Not a lot of flowers to overwhelm the already raw senses of the grieving.

She was a little nervous, but she also felt proud and happy. In fact, she felt ready. She tried not to feel too happy, though; it didn’t seem appropriate to be so glee-filled about starting a job that was all about someone else’s loss. The mirror on the wall confirmed that there was still a smile hiding in the corners of her mouth that she couldn’t quite get rid of, and for a moment, she worried about the shade of her lipstick. She’d chosen a light pink, but was it too light? A little too festive? She’d spent too many years in khaki, far away from the fairy-tale world of Maybelline.

There was a knock on her office door, and before she could say come in, it swung open to admit the headman . . . Lincoln Fairview. Mr. Fairview was the fourth Fairview to operate the funeral home, and he looked the part, from his sober, well-tailored suit to his impeccably cut gray hair and soft, kindly face.

She felt her whole body jolt with adrenaline when she saw him. This was the man she had to impress with her professionalism. Hoo, boy. She worried, again, about the lipstick.

He crossed the room with a confident stride and shook her hand. “Hello, Bryn, good morning. How are you settling in?”

She unbuttoned the lab coat and put it on the hanger in the small closet. Even the hangers were solid wood, and nicer than anything in her apartment wardrobe. “Everything’s fine, sir,” she said, and glanced down at herself to be sure she still looked okay. Her business suit was new, and a little stiff, but it was a solid dove gray color, and the soft pink shirt seemed like a nice match. Her new gray pumps pinched her toes, and she was afraid she was going to have to endure the blisters they were bound to raise, but overall . . . she thought she was presentable. Except for the lipstick, maybe. “Am I properly dressed?”

He gave her an X-ray stare, up and down, and then nodded. “Perfect,” Mr. Fairview said. “Soothing, professional, everything I could ask. Perhaps a touch less on the lipstick next time; a pretty girl like you really doesn’t need to emphasize her youth and beauty. Go on, have a seat, Bryn.”

Read more here.

Pages: 306
Published: 2011

The Christmas Basket by Debbie Macomber

Noelle loves Thom. They are eloping.  But Noelle has been waiting for two hours. Where is Thom? She calls his house and was told he was out bowling. I guess he was just playing her.  Their mothers do not get along. Noelle leaves town for college and does not come back for eleven years.
Kristen, Noelle's sister, is getting married. Noelle cannot miss her wedding.  She hope Thom is happily married so she doesn't have to deal with him.  He is not and turns up everywhere she is.
Sarh and Mary, Noelle and Thom's mothers, do not get along but they are thrown together by the country club.  They are needed to make Christmas baskets for needy families. Can they get along to accomplish this task and have a happy Christmas?

From the author's site:
No one tells a Christmas story like Debbie Macomber. The Christmas Basket is filled with gifts for the reader -- gifts of warmth and laughter . . . and emotional truth. This Christmas, let Debbie make you smile!
That summer -- more than ten years ago, while they were still in high school -- Noelle McDowell and Thomas Sutton fell secretly in love. Secretly because their mothers had been locked in a bitter feud for decades. But despite the animosity between Sarah McDowell and Mary Sutton, Noelle planned to elope with Thom. Until he jilted her.
This Christmas Noelle McDowell is home to celebrate the holidays with her family. (After all, December 25 is also her birthday.) Unfortunately, Noelle's feelings about home -- or rather, her hometown of Rose, Oregon -- were changed forever the day Thomas Sutton broke her heart.
This Christmas the feuding mothers find themselves working together to fill Christmas baskets for charity. What irony! And what an opportunity for reconciliation . . . if only they could see it.
This Christmas Noelle and Thom discover they're still in love. Regardless of their mothers' reactions, they want to be together. Is that possible? Can old rivalries be set aside? Will Sarah's Christmas daughter have a second chance with Mary's charming son?
Maybe she will . . . this Christmas!
For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 238
Published: 2002

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Last Light Over Carolina by Mary Alice Monroe

This is the story of the marriage of Bud Morrison, a life long shrimper and his wife Carolina. The book starts on September 21, 2008.   The story of their marriage is told through flashbacks to different times during their marriage but always back to September 21, 2008. They met when Carolina came to McClellanville, SC to teach. During the first six years of their marriage they worked together on the shrimp boat. Then Carolina got pregnant and stayed off the boat. She feels that is when things started to fall apart.  Will their love keep them together? What happened on September 21, 2008?


Summary from the author's site:
On an otherwise ordinary day, in a small shrimping village off the coast of South Carolina, a boat goes missing. The entire town rallies as all are mobilized to find the lost vessel. Throughout the course of one day, flashbacks of Bud Morrison, the captain on board, and Carolina, his wife, reveal the happier days of a once-thriving shrimping industry juxtaposed with the memories of their long term marriage. 


Excerpt:
Chapter One
 September 21, 2008   4:00 am
McClellanville, South Carolina
             For three generations the pull of the tides drew Morrison men to the sea.  Attuned to the moon, they rose before first light to board wooden shrimp boats and head slowly out across black water, the heavy, green nets poised like folded wings. Tales of the sea were whispered to them in their mothers' laps, they earned their sea legs as they learned to walk, and they labored on the boats soon after.  Shrimping was all they knew or ever wanted to know.  It was in their blood.
            Bud Morrison opened his eyes and pushed back the thin, cotton blanket.  Shafts of gray light through the shutters cast a ragged pattern against the wall.  He groaned and shifted his weight in an awkward swing to sit at the edge of his bed, head bent, feet on the floor.  His was a seaman's body-hard weathered and scarred.  He scratched his jaw, his head, his belly, a morning ritual, waking slowly in the leaden light.  Then with another sigh, he stiffly rose to stand.  His knees creaked louder than the bedsprings and he winced at aches and pains so old he'd made peace with them. Standing, he could turn his knee to let it slip back into place with a small pop.
            A salty wind whistled through the open window, fluttering the pale curtains. Bud walked across the wood floor to peer out at the sky.  He scowled when he saw shadowy, finger-like clouds clutching the moon in a hazy grip.
            "Wind's blowin."
            Bud turned toward the voice.  Carolina lay on her belly on their bed, her head to the side facing an open palm.  Her eyes were still closed.
            "Not too bad," he replied in a gravelly voice.
            She stirred, raising her hand to swipe a lock of hair from her face.  "I'll make your breakfast."  She raised herself on elbows, her voice resigned.
            "Nah, you sleep." 
            His stomach rumbled and he wondered if he was some kind of fool for not nudging his wife to get up and make him his usual breakfast of pork sausage and biscuits. Lord knew his father never gave his mother a day off from work.  Or his kids, for that matter.  Not during shrimping season.  But he was not his father and Carolina had a bad tooth that kept her tossing and turning half the night.  She didn't want to spend money they didn't have to see the dentist, but the pain was making her hell on wheels to live with and in the end, she'd have to go anyway. 
            He'd urged her to go but she refused. It infuriated Bud that she wouldn't because it pointed to how he was unable to provide basic services for his family. This tore him up inside, a kind of feeling only another man would understand.
            They'd had words about it the night before.  He shook his head and let the curtain drop.  Man, that woman could be stubborn.  No, he thought, he'd rather have a little peace than prickly words this morning.
            "I'm only going out for one haul," he told her. "Back by noon, latest."
            "Be careful out there," she replied with a muffled yawn as she buried her face back into the pillows.       
            He stole a moment to stare at the ample curves of her body under the crumpled sheet.  There was a time he'd crawl back into the scented warmth of the bed he'd shared with Carolina for over thirty years. Even after all that time there was something about the turn of her chin, the roundness of her shoulders, and the earthy, fulsome quality of her beauty that still caused his body to stir.  Carolina's red hair was splayed out across the pillow and in the darkness he couldn't see the slender streaks of gray that he knew distressed her.  Carolina was not one for hair color or make up and Bud liked her natural, so the gray stayed. Lord knew his own hair was turning gray, he thought, running his hand over his scalp as he headed for the bathroom.
Read more here.
Pages: 369
Published: 2009

Monday, November 25, 2013

The Eclectic Reader Challenge 2014

I found another challenge to try for 2014. Listed below are the rules.
 Click here to sign up....


In it’s third year, the aim of The Eclectic Reader 2014 Challenge is to push you outside your comfort zone by reading up to 12 books during the year from 12 different categories.

Join in:

  • The challenge will run from January 1st to December 31st 2014. Participants may join at any time up until December 1st 2014
  •  Create a blog post committing to  your participation in this challenge.
*  If you don’t have a blog you are still welcome to sign up. You can create a shelf for the challenge at Goodreads or LibraryThing or a similar site Just include your name and a link to your shelf.
  • Post your name, blog name, and the direct link to your challenge post in the Linky using the link below

Select, read and review a book from each genre listed below during the year for a total of 12 books. A book may be in print, electronic or audio format.

*  You can choose your books as you go or create a list in advance. 
You may combine this challenge with others if you wish.
*  Where a book is identified by more than one genre eg historical romance, it may only 
count for either the historical fiction or romantic fiction genres – not both.
*  You can read your chosen titles in any order, at any pace, just 
complete the challenge by December 31st 2014 to be eligible for the prize drawing.

Categories

  1. Award Winning
  2. True Crime (Non Fiction)
  3. Romantic Comedy
  4. Alternate History Fiction
  5. Graphic Novel
  6. Cosy Mystery Fiction
  7. Gothic Fiction
  8. War/Military Fiction
  9. Anthology
  10. Medical Thriller Fiction
  11. Travel (Non Fiction)
  12. Published in 2014
If you need some ideas for what to read in the above categories I suggest you search Listopia at Goodreads for example click here for a list that includes Alternate History titles

Here are my book choices:

The Christmas Thief by Mary Higgins Clark and Carol Higgins Clark

Packy Noonan is released from prison.  He is a scam artist that stole from people. He hid 80 million dollars somewhere.
The Reillys are going away for the weekend.  They invited Alvirah and Willy up to Vermont with them. Alvirah and Willy are lottery winners who go to a lottery winners group. They met Opal there.  Opal won money and got swindled by Packy Noonan. Alvirah and Willy feel bad that Opal had to go back to waitressing to pay the bills.  They ask her to come along on their weekend trip to Vermont. Guess where Packy Noonan is headed?  What will happen?

From Mary Higgins Clark's site:
The folks who picked a beautiful eighty-foot blue spruce from Stowe, Vermont, to be Rockefeller Center's famous Christmas tree don't have a clue that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, hid priceless diamonds in it more than twelve years ago. But when Packy learns that his special tree will be heading to New York City the next morning, he knows he has to act fast.
What Packy does not know is that Alvirah, everyone's favorite lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, and savvy private investigator Regan Reilly are visiting Stowe with their friend Opal, who lost all her lottery winnings in Packy's scam. And just when they're supposed to head home, they learn that the tree is missing . . . and that Opal has disappeared.


Packy Noonan carefully placed an x on the calendar he had pinned to the wall of his cell in the federal prison located near Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love. Packy was overflowing with love for his fellow man. He had been a guest of the United States Government for twelve years, four months, and two days. But because he had served over 85 percent of his sentence and been a model prisoner, the parole board had reluctantly granted Packy his freedom as of November 12, which was only two weeks away.

Packy, whose full name was Patrick Coogan Noonan, was a world-class scam artist whose offense had been to cheat trusting investors out of nearly $100 million in the seemingly legitimate company he had founded. When the house of cards collapsed, after deducting the money he had spent on homes, cars, jewelry, bribes, and shady ladies, most of the rest, nearly $80 million, could not be accounted for.

In the years of his incarceration, Packy's story never changed. He insisted that his two missing associates had run off with the rest of the money and that, like his victims, he, too, had been the victim of his own trusting nature.

Fifty years old, narrow-faced, with a hawklike nose, close-set eyes, thinning brown hair, and a smile that inspired trust, Packy had stoically endured his years of confinement. He knew that when the day of deliverance came, his nest egg of $80 million would sufficiently compensate him for his discomfort.

He was ready to assume a new identity once he picked up his loot; a private plane would whisk him to Brazil, and a skillful plastic surgeon there had already been engaged to rearrange the sharp features that might have served as the blueprint for the working of his brain.
All the arrangements had been made by his missing associates, who were now residing in Brazil and had been living on $10 million of the missing funds. The remaining fortune Packy had managed to hide before he was arrested, which was why he knew he could count on the continued cooperation of his cronies.

The long-standing plan was that upon his release Packy would go to the halfway house in New York, as required by the terms of his parole, dutifully follow regulations for about a day, then shake off anyone following him, meet his partners in crime, and drive to Stowe, Vermont. There they were to have rented a farmhouse, a flatbed trailer, a barn to hide it in, and whatever equipment it took to cut down a very large tree.

"Why Vermont?" Giuseppe Como, better known as Jo-Jo, wanted to know. "You told us you hid the loot in New Jersey. Were you lying to us, Packy?"
"Would I lie to you?" Packy had asked, wounded. "Maybe I don't want you talking in your sleep."
Jo-Jo and Benny, forty-two-year-old fraternal twins, had been in on the scam from the beginning, but both humbly acknowledged that neither one of them had the fertile mind needed to concoct grandiose schemes. They recognized their roles as foot soldiers of Packy and willingly accepted the droppings from his table since, after all, they were lucrative droppings.

"O Christmas tree, my Christmas tree," Packy whispered to himself as he contemplated finding the special branch of one particular tree in Vermont and retrieving the flask of priceless diamonds that had been nestling there for over thirteen years.

Pages: 204
Published: 2004

Ghost at Work by Carolyn Hart

Bailey Ruth is in Heaven.  She wants to help people on Earth.  Wiggins has decided that she can help people but she must get some training.  He sends her down without training because of an emergency.  Her great niece Kathleen has had a dead body dumped on her back porch.  Who would do such a thing?  Who killed Daryl Murdoch? The police suspect several people including Kathleen and her husband Bill who is a minister. Kathleen tries to investigate but muddles things up.  Bailey Ruth is going to figure it out and saved Kathleen and her family.

This is the first in a series called Bailey Ruth Mysteries. I enjoyed this cozy mystery.
Summary from Harper Collins:
Bailey Ruth Raeburn always had a knack for solving mysteries. Why should a little thing like being dead change anything?
Bailey Ruth's unique position as a ghost makes it possible for her to lend a helping hand to her former neighbors in Adelaide, Oklahoma. And the rector's wife, Kathleen Abbott, needs all the help she can get. There's a dead man on her porch, and once the body's discovered the rector's bound to be murder suspect number one.
An agent of Heaven's Department of Good Intentions, Bailey Ruth's eager to head back to the mortal plane to extricate Kathleen from a dire situation. Wiggins, Bailey Ruth's fussbudget supervisor, has already advised her about the rules: she's to be on the earth, not of the earth. But to bring a killer to justice, she just might have to bend a heavenly rule or two . . .

For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 290
Published: 2008

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

Honor, an English Quaker, is going with her sister Grace to America. Grace is going to marry Adam Cox. The voyage was horrible for Honor.  She vomited the whole trip. They reached America and started their trip to Ohio. Grace caught yellow fever and died.
Honor gets close to Faithwell where Adam lives. She learns that Adam's brother has died from illness. Adam did not get her letter telling him that Grace died. She is staying with a milliner named Belle in Wellington, Ohio. Belle decides that Honor needs a few days to relax before joining Adam.  Belle learns that Honor can sew.  Honor loves to quilt.  Belle needs some help sewing hats for her customers.  They become friends even though Belle is not a Quaker.
Adam comes to get Honor and they go to his home. Abigail, Adam's sister-in-law is not very welcoming to Honor.  Honor must get along with her because she has to where to go.  After a few months the Elders in the church tell Adam that their living situation is undesirable, even though nothing is happening.  Adam and Abigail marry and things get more difficult for Honor.
Jack Haymaker is interested in Honor.  They marry and she comes to live at their family farm.  Runaway slaves are always around.  Honor is compelled to help them even though the Haymakers forbid her to help them.  This causes problems. What is to become of Honor?  Will she continue to help the runaway slaves?

I really enjoyed this story.  I often wonder what I would have done in this situation.

From the author's site:
Honor Bright is a modest English Quaker with a broken heart. Emigrating to Ohio with her sister in the hope of making a new life, she soon discovers that 19th-century America hard, precarious place to live. Its people are practical and unsentimental, its climate challenging. Even its quilts are different from those she makes. Moreover, it is divided by slavery, legal in southern states and opposed by many northerners.
One day a runaway slave appears in the farmyard of Honor’s new family, and she must decide what to do. Even Quakers - famed for championing human equality - may hesitate to break the laws of the land. Drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network of people helping runaways escape to freedom, Honor befriends two surprising women who demonstrate what defiance can achieve. Eventually she must decide if she too can act on what she believes in, whatever the personal costs.
For an excerpt, click here.

Pages: 305
Published: 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Christmas Pearl by Dorothea Benton Frank

Theodora is ninety-three. She remembers the Christmases in her past before her husband died. Her children are horrid and their children are heading that way.  She wished her friend Pearl was still with them. That night Theodora has a horrible dream.  She is shaken by this.  A new servant is coming to help them for Christmas because Eliza, their cook, had a family emergency.  The new servant is Pearl! Theodora is stunned.  And then fun begins!

Summary from the author's site:
"Theodora is the matriarch of a family that has grown into a bunch of truculent knuckleheads. While she's finally gotten them all together in South Carolina to celebrate, this Christmas looks nothing like the extravagant, homey holidays of her childhood.
What happened to the days when Christmas meant tables groaning with home-cooked goodies, over-the-top decorations, and long chats in front of the fire with Pearl, her grandmother's beloved housekeeper and closest confidante?
Luckily for Theodora, a special someone who heard her plea for help arrives, with pockets full of enough Gullah magic and common sense to make Theodora's Christmas the love-filled miracle it's meant to be."

Excerpt from USA Today:
Chapter One

December Twenty-Third

When I was a young girl, the glorious celebrations of the Christmas season were a very different affair than they are today. Of course, I am as old as Methuselah. Ninety-three. When I got out of bed this morning, every bone in my body creaked like the loose boards in the front staircase of this ancient house. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have lived so many years? It was hard to believe that I had done it myself. But there it was. I was an old nanny goat at last. However, I much preferred to be thought of as a stylish dowager, the doyenne of Murray Boulevard, staving off her dotage. The fact was that if dotage and incapacitating decrepitude couldn't take me down in ninety-three years, I might squeak my way to Glory unscathed. Hallelujah! Another blessing!

My, my! The world has certainly changed, although many other, more important things have remained the same. After all, as Charlestonians, we are the self-appointed guardians of all traditions worthy of preservation. For example, it was 2006, I was still living in my family's home, as my mother and grandmother had done. Probably my great-grandmother before them, too. My memory is a little bit fuzzy about that. Regardless, the point is, I never left. Why would I?
Unfortunately, our home has become a little threadbare. Everything from the plaster to the plumbing could use some attention. It was not that my offspring or their offspring couldn't gather the resources to correct the creaks and leaks; it was that no one seemed to be worried about how this state of dilapidation looked to outsiders. What kind of Charlestonian no longer cared about appearances? Apathetic slackers, I'm afraid to say. It made me sick in my heart. The house deserved better.

Like any classic Southern stately home, ours has massive white Corinthian columns strung along the front portico. The foundation and the portico flooring is handmade brick, as is most of the entire house. My parents loved wrought-iron work so much that they added lots of detail—handrails, a balcony, and so forth.

Each generation—that is, until now—added some distinction to the house and grounds. I was the one who commissioned the gates forged by Charleston's greatest blacksmith, Phillip Simmons, himself! Yes, it's true. I will never forget the day he came with his men to install them on the sidewall of the house. They are superb, like black iron lace, with delicate snowy egrets set in ovals in the center of each side. He brought with him a small plaque bearing his name—P. SIMMONS. He asked me if I thought it was all right to affix it to the bottom. I said, you go right ahead, Mr. Simmons, because you are truly an artist! So he did.

In the yard are sprawling magnolia and live oak trees dripping with great sheers of Spanish moss. In the rear gardens are azalea and camellia bushes that are as old as Noah's house cat. Most of the landscaping is original to the house, except for the few things we lost during hurricanes, disease, or because of hostile visitors, if you know what I mean. Naturally, we have fig ivy crawling up the front steps that grows so quickly it makes me wish I carried pruning shears in my purse. Truth? Everything needs pruning and a good coat of paint.
I couldn't dwell on it. What was I supposed to do about renovations and repairs when my life had come to a place where I was practically a guest in my own home? Not much, I'm afraid. In any case, I was determined to maintain a positive attitude.

I was preparing to celebrate Christmas with my darling daughter, Barbara, her family, and their spouses and children, who had all arrived for the holidays. To give you the family map, Barbara and her husband, Cleland, who are both in their early sixties, live here with me. Their grown children have children and live in their own homes in Atlanta and Charlotte. I'm slightly embarrassed to admit that I'm glad they do. Bless their hearts, they are a truculent bunch. Yes, they are, but I mean that in the nicest possible way.

It might interest you to know how the house retaliated against their presence. Every time my whole family gathers under this roof, the walls rattle, the chandeliers downstairs flicker, and every portrait goes crooked on its nail. You see, along with the living comes the dead. Yes, our house is very haunted. It certainly is. Or it is sinking. Or perhaps both. I was never quite certain which because Charleston, especially the tip of the peninsula where we live, was built on plough mud. However, I can see Fort Sumter from my bedroom window. Knowing all that the mighty fortress represented gives me ample strength to deal with them.

All I can do all day is cluck to myself. I am clucking for a good reason. This was supposed to be a time of great joy. Unfortunately, Barbara's family always does such a pitiful job of the production of our Christmas celebration that I wind up disheartened. In her defense, at her age Barbara can only do so much on her own and the rest of them are clueless. Sadly, no one else appears to see anything wrong with the ramshackle way things are thrown together. Truly, I don't mean to judge them so harshly, but somehow it seems to me that they have allowed the whole spirit of the season to erode into blatant commercialism. I could have told them plenty of ways to revive the beauty of the past. I have tried many times; however, who wants to listen to an old coot like me? I worry that it is too late. When I close my eyes for the last time, an entire library of instructions for genuinely rewarding living will go with me.

Pages: 139
Published: 2007

Friday, November 22, 2013

Blood Rights by Kristen Painter

Blood Rights is the first in a series called House of Comarre. This is a different kind of vampire story.  There are people called comarre that are bred to feed their blood to vampires. It is a symbiotic relationship. Chrysabelle, a comarre, discovers her patron has been beheaded. She knows that she will be accused and runs off to the Americas to her aunt. Maris helps her to find some help.  Chrysabelle meets Mal.  He is a renegade vampire.  He helps to protect her from the evil vampire Tatiana that is coming after her.  Together they realize what will happen if Tatiana's plans come to fruition.

I enjoyed this book very much.  I cannot wait to read the next one!

From the author's site:
Rebellion has a price…
Born into a life of secrets and service, Chrysabelle’s body bears the telltale marks of a comarré — a special race of humans bred to feed vampire nobility. When her patron is murdered, she becomes the prime suspect, which sends her running into the mortal world…and into the arms of Malkolm, an outcast vampire cursed to kill every being from whom he drinks.
Now, Chrysabelle and Malkolm must work together to stop a plot to merge the mortal and supernatural worlds. If they fail, a chaos unlike anything anyone has ever seen will threaten to reign.
Excerpt:
Chapter One
Paradise City, New Florida, 2067
The cheap lace and single-sewn seams pressed into Chrysabelle’s flesh, weighed down by the uncomfortable tapestry jacket that finished her disguise. Her training kept her from fidgeting with the shirt’s tag even as it bit into her skin. She studied those around her. How curious that the kine perceived her world this way. No, this was her world, not the one she’d left behind. And she had to stop thinking of humans as kine. She was one of them now. Free. Independent. Owned by no one.
She forced a weak smile as the club’s heavy electronic beat ricocheted through her bones. Lights flickered and strobed, casting shadows and angles that paid no compliments to the faces around her. She cringed as a few bodies collided with her in the surrounding crush. Nothing in her years of training had prepared her for immersion in a crowd of mortals. She recognized the warm, earthy smell of them from the human servants her patron and the other nobles had kept, but acclimating to their noise and their boisterous behavior was going to take time. Perhaps humans lived so hard because they had so little of that very thing.
Something she was coming to understand.
The names on the slip of paper in her pocket were memorized, but she pulled it out and read them again. Jonas Sweets, and beneath it, Nyssa, both written in her aunt’s flowery script. Just the sight of the handwriting calmed her a little. She folded the note and tucked it away. If Aunt Maris said Jonas could connect her with help, Chrysabelle would trust that he could, even though the idea of trusting a kine – no, a human – seemed untenable.
She pushed through to the bar, failing in her attempt to avoid more contact but happy at how little attention she attracted. The foundation Maris had applied to her hands, face and neck, the only skin left visible by her clothing, covered her signum perfectly. No longer did the multitude of gold markings she bore identify her as an object to be possessed. She was her own person now, passing easily as human.
The feat split her in two. While part of her thrilled to be free of the stifling propriety that governed her every move and rejoiced that she was no longer property, another part of her felt wholly unprepared for this existence. There was no denying life in Algernon’s manor had been one of shelter and privilege.
Enough wallowing. She hadn’t the time and there was no going back, even if she could. Which she wouldn’t. And it wasn’t as if Aunt Maris hadn’t provided for her and wouldn’t continue to do so, if Chrysabelle could just take care of this one small problem. Finding a space between two bodies, she squeezed in and waited for the bartender’s attention.
He nodded at her. ‘What can I get you?’
She slid the first plastic fifty across the bar as Maris had instructed. ‘I need to find Jonas Sweets.’
He took the bill, smiling enough to display canines capped into points. Ridiculous. ‘Haven’t seen him in a few days, but he’ll show up eventually.’
Eventually was too late. She added a second bill. ‘What time does he usually come in?’
The bartender removed the empty glasses in front of her, snatched up the money, and leaned in. ‘Midnight. Sometimes sooner. Sometimes later.’
It was nearly 1 a.m. now. ‘How about his assistant, Nyssa? The mute girl?
‘She won’t show without him.’ He tapped the bar with damp fingers. ‘I can give Jonas a message for you, if he turns up. What’s your name?’
She shook her head. No names. No clues. No trail. The bartender shrugged and hustled away. She slumped against the bar and rested her hand over her eyes. At least she could get out of here now. Or maybe she should stay. The Nothos wouldn’t attempt anything in so public a place, would they?
Read more here.
Pages: 418
Published: 2011