Monday, September 21, 2020

Here For You

 With: Pat Simmons

Giveaway Alert!


Emotional, poignant women’s fiction from acclaimed inspirational romance author Pat


Simmons featuring a hero and heroine who are better at taking care of other people than themselves, a dark moment that shakes their faith, and a profoundly satisfying happy ending.

Caregivers sometimes need a little TLC too.

Rachel Knicely’s life has been on hold for six months while she takes care of her great aunt, who has Alzheimer’s. Putting her aunt first was an easy decision—accepting that Aunt Tweet is nearing the end of her battle is far more difficult.

Nicholas Adams’s ministry is bringing comfort to those who are sick and homebound. He responds to a request for help for an ailing woman but when he meets the Knicelys, he realizes Rachel is the one who needs support the most. Nicholas is charmed by and attracted to Rachel, but then devastating news brings both a crisis of faith and roadblocks to their budding relationship that neither could have anticipated.

PAT SIMMONS is the author of more than thirty-five inspirational romances. She has worked in various positions in radio, television, and print media for more than twenty years. For fourteen years, she oversaw the media publicity for the RT Booklovers Convention. She lives with her husband in Florissant, Missouri.

Author Website: https://www.patsimmons.net/


Purchase Links:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NvTBvC

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Apple: https://apple.co/380153s

Kobo: https://bit.ly/2EpBeHT

Bookshop: https://bit.ly/3dD15Ym

BAM: https://bit.ly/3jdSX4v

Excerpt: 

With Aunt Tweet gone, there would be no more ministerial visits. It was up to Rachel to do her own soul-searching, and she needed inspiration now more than ever to ease the hurt of her wounded spirit. 

She continued her stroll down one aisle of the parking lot, inhaling the unseasonably warm April air and gaining strength from the sunshine. Although her mind was drifting as she recalled happy times with her aunt, she heard footsteps behind her. 

“Rachel.” The voice was unmistakable. Had she conjured him up? A breeze brought a whiff of a familiar cologne to confirm Nicholas was nearby. 

She shaded her eyes from the sunlight with her hands until he stood 

within a few feet of her. She had never seen him dressed up before, and he was handsome beyond measure in a suit and tie. He looked serious until he caught her staring again, and he smiled. 

“I saw you step out. I wanted to check on you. Are you okay?” He frowned. 

“Will I ever be?” she said more to herself. “I was hoping no one saw me,” she said, “especially Jacqui.” 

“Yes, you will, and I did.” His voice was barely above a whisper. “I’m flying out in a few hours, but I would like to pray with you before I go.” Why did his words seem to lighten her burdens? “Thanks for coming here.” Rachel’s eyes watered, but she got a handle on her emotions. “I didn’t realize ministers attended the funerals, especially those who are out of town.”

“I wanted to be here for you. The location didn’t matter.”

“Thank you, Minister Adams.”

“Always Nicholas to you. I don’t need the title to do God’s work.” 

His words were kind and thoughtful.

“Okay.” She studied him, really looked at him. Was there a special lady in his life waiting for him to propose? If so, the woman had a keeper, Rachel thought as he watched her. 

Nicholas blinked first, then cleared his throat. “I called a couple of times to check up on you. Did you get my messages?” 

Rachel shrugged. “Jacqui has been checking messages, answering emails, and stuff. I’m sorry.” She bowed her head, embarrassed. 

“Hey.” That low voice of his gently commanded her to look at him. “I’m available to listen about anything whenever you want to talk.” 

He reached for her hands. His fingers were coarse but gentle. “Father, in the name of Jesus, let Rachel feel Your presence from this day forward. Comfort her when she’s lonely, and when she’s weak, give her strength. And let the memories of her aunt give her joy...” 

His words were like a balm to her spirit. Rachel whispered, “Amen,” with him when he finished. “Thank you.” 

“Anytime. Take time to heal emotionally and mentally. There’s no expiration date for the process, and remember what I said—if you call me, I’ll listen.” He frowned, and his stare was intense. “I mean that, Rachel,” he said and squeezed her hand. 

Although the gesture was comforting, Rachel yearned for a hug, one of those cocoon-type embraces where she could close her eyes and sigh as she snuggled. But she had no one to offer her that. 

When he released his hold, his eyes seemed to dance with amusement as he glanced down at her feet. “Oh, and I wouldn’t walk too far in those heels. My feet hurt even thinking about it.” He shivered, then chuckled before he swaggered away. 

“A man with a sense of humor.” Mirth stirred in her belly until a chuckle escaped her lips. He actually had made her laugh. 

Later that night, back at Tabitha and Marcus’s house in her old neighborhood, the sisters’ heels, dresses, and makeup came off. They lounged in the family room in their flannel pj’s, reminiscing about Aunt Tweet and the sizeable inheritance she had left them. 

Marcus entered the room. “Came to check on you ladies and give my wife this.” He leaned over the sofa and brushed a kiss against Tabitha’s lips. 

Rachel’s heart fluttered; she longed for that type of deep-rooted affection. The couple was a perfect match for each other. He had been Tabitha’s rock when she needed it. Aunt Tweet had been a handful while she stayed with Tabitha, but Marcus had somehow wormed his way into their lives and charmed her aunt and Tabitha too. 

“Okay, I came for what I needed. Carry on.” He grinned and ducked to escape the pillow Tabitha aimed at her new hubby’s head. 

When Tabitha faced her sisters, Rachel and Kym were smiling. 

“You’ve definitely got you a winner, Sis,” Kym said and sighed. “Honestly, I thought Rachel would beat us to the altar.” 

“Me too,” Tabitha agreed, “but I have no regrets about being first. Aunt Tweet harped on having no regrets, and I have none being Mrs. Marcus Whittington.” 

“I don’t know why you thought I would get hitched first.” Rachel shook her head. 

Kym gave her a surprised look. “Because you draw men like a car 

show—from your sultry voice to your calculated catwalk to your form- fitting fashions. You, dear baby sister, have men wrapped around your manicured finger.” 

“I think that was wishful thinking, but you don’t see any standing in line with a ring, do you?” Rachel challenged them. 

“Nicholas Adams might be a prospect. Marcus likes him, and he did make a special trip to be by your side during our sorrow.” Tabitha nodded. “And that man is downright good-looking.” 

“Nope.” Kym shook her head. “He’s hot—sizzling,” she teased. “He’s a minister. That’s what he does—prays and is there for people.” “I think you need to rethink that, because I would give that darker 

version of actor Daniel Supta a second look.”

“It’s Sunjata who played on Graceland, and both men are unmistakably handsome. I figured ministers are attracted to women of God like missionaries or evangelists, and as my two sisters have pointed out, I may have other men wrapped tight, but Nicholas—I mean—Minister Adams’s focus is on God’s work.” 

“If you say so,” Kym said and eyed Tabitha. “You may be part of his work in progress in a personal way.” 

Nicholas wasn’t interested in her in that way. He hadn’t asked for a date or dinner but offered her prayer, which, surprisingly, Rachel couldn’t get enough of, as if she were dying of thirst and hearing it quenched it.


***

Excerpted from Here for You by Pat Simmons. © 2020 by Pat Simmons. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2020

A FAST WOMAN


Congratulations to "Hefleyl2169" and "Bn100", the winners in Laralyn's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!


A bold, female stock-car driver versus a charming, champion, male open-wheel driver…dangle a coveted contract and rev the engines with undeniable chemistry—A Fast Woman is an enemies-to-lovers story that will keep your heart racing.

Strap in—it’s a heck of a ride!

CJ Lomax
People called me a fast woman—not because I slept around—because I broke men’s hearts on the racetrack. While climbing up stock car’s highest level of racing, I learned three truths: Adrenaline was my drug of choice, wearing a pair of heels was a form of torture, and I didn’t have time for distractions—especially from men.
I had one goal—a Cup Series contract—and it was within my reach.
Until Grady McBane cut me off—sending me, and my dreams, into a tailspin.
His damn smile, his charm, his talent… his touch. My damn hormones overrode my focus.
Grady McBane
The moment the beautiful, spitfire CJ Lomax tripped into my arms, it felt right.
Then Karma stepped in and laughed—Redeeming my reputation meant ruining her dream.
Even though I needed the contract to salvage my career, I found myself chasing her instead of racing her.
Her focus, her sass, her grit…her passion. I wanted it—I wanted her.
How could we cross the finish line without wrecking each other’s hearts?


A Fast Woman
Excerpt
Grady casually put his hands in his jean pockets, rocking back on his feet and stood next to me, flashing everyone his devastating full smile. “You shouldn’t have said that about Dewey, you don’t want to ally yourself too closely with me. I’m a lightning rod when it comes to him.”
He shrugged. “He doesn’t scare me.”
Just look at him. How in his element he was—how sure of himself he was.
Then, there was me. Put me in the monster machine and I was a beast. Confident, strong. But here, on the outside of the machine, standing next to this man with his golden aura and oozing charm? My confidence was as small as my stature suggested. Did they know?
I turned my gaze from the myriad of faces and focused on his. He looked down at me. And I knew that would be the next photo to go viral.  The twinkle in his eye said he knew it, too.
But I wasn’t alone.
He turned to face me, and quiet enough so I was the only one who could hear, he said, “Let’s get you in our car.”
Damnit, I wanted to hug him.
Hug him. I wasn’t a hugger. I wasn’t even affectionate.
What the heck?
Maybe it was seeing the other drivers with their families and the thought of Tommy earlier. The thought of being a bit lonely.
Grady put his hand on my shoulder and the contact seared straight through me. It electrified me.
“Good luck, kick butt…run them over…put them in the wall…all that…” He lifted his hand as if to place it on my head before I stopped him.
“If you ruffle my hair, I’ll kick your butt right here on national TV.” I smiled and sweetly said it through clinched teeth and stepped on his foot to get my point across.
Just like that, he threw his head back and laughed.*


Laralyn Doran
Laralyn is a multi-award-winning writer of contemporary and urban fantasy romance. Her alter-ego is a proud special needs mom, and an autism and dyslexia awareness advocate who lives in Maryland—equidistant from the mountains and the beach—with her husband, children and three dogs. 
Please subscribe to her newsletter and follow her at:
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Giveaway:
Comment below and be entered for a chance to win one of two free e-book copies of
A Fast Woman

*Excerpt modified for publication

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The Billionaire's Betrayal



Congratulations to "Colleen C.", the winner in Carmen's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!

I’m pumped to be here and share the excerpt of The Billionaire’s Betrayal, my latest erotic romance. Even though it’s the third in a series, it can be read as a standalone. Leave a comment after you read it and enter to win a $10 Amazon GC!

In this scene, Brooks is trying to convince Madam Alexa to become his business partner.

Enjoy…

A warm stir worked its way down his body, earning a nod from every fiber. Ignoring her lack of hospitality, he pulled out the chair in front of her seat. “I have a business proposition for you.”

“I’m not for sale.” She neatly stacked some papers on her desk. She opened a folder, retrieved a couple of documents, and then tossed them into a drawer without bothering to look at him. “Out or I’m calling security.”

A smile curled the corner of his lips and a rush of adrenaline bolted through his veins. “I’m not interested in you,” he said evenly. “You’re not my type.”

I don’t date madams. Not unless he wanted to go against every principle his good mother had instilled in him.

Alexa raised her head to stare at him again. A hint of curiosity touched her eyes and she leaned back in the chair, sizing him up. Tension thickened in the air, his heartbeat thundering in his ears. He ran every day and practiced tae kwon do often, but no amount of physical endurance had prepared him for a face-to-face with Madam Alexa herself. “I favor petite short blondes. Not that there’s anything wrong with you, of course,” he said casually, knowing pretty damn well he had her attention.

She lifted her eyebrow, and he wasn’t sure if she wanted to throw a vase at him or ignore him. The main vein in her neck pulsed. “Thanks for your reassurance. Looks like I can finally sleep at night,” she said, sarcasm leaking into her voice.

He waved her off. “Anytime. What brings me here is a venture of a professional nature.”
She sighed, folding her arms over her chest. “Amuse me,” she said.

Damn it, he could see why men offered lots of money for the opportunity to f**k her. Unlike those inexperienced virgins she sold, Madam Alexa was all woman and had a veneer of sexy superiority around her most men couldn’t resist. What would it be like to seduce her, to make her succumb to his wants and needs? Was she as assertive in the bedroom or did she prefer that a guy take charge between the sheets?

He cleared his throat, willing the sinful images away. “I know you’re famous for your virgin auction. I propose I help you organize a male virgin auction,” he said. The idea had seemed crazy at first, but for the last two weeks, the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. What better way to get Madam Alexa’s trust than to work with her?

She studied him for a bit, then laughed. The sexy, hearty sound was like downing a shot of tequila—it agitated him at first, then relaxed his limbs and prepared him for another. “Are you kidding? Where would I find the target audience? My name has been thrown around online. A lot of women hate me, in case you haven’t researched.”

Oh yeah, he had. She’d given a few exclusive interviews about her occupation but always stopped short of revealing too much about herself. “Yes. That’s where I come in. Brooks Taylor, at your service,” he said, tilting his head to one side. “I’m well connected and know a lot of women, from all over the country, who would be into this kind of thing. They’d fly in and have the time of their lives.”

“And what do you want in return?”

“Half of your cut.”

She picked up a pen from the silver penholder and clicked it, studying him. “You look like you already have money. Why would you want to do something of such a questionable nature?”

“Because it’s my specialty. Besides, this could be the beginning of a fruitful partnership,” he said. Damn, his father would cut him off altogether if he ever learned of Brooks’s plan. Thankfully, Brooks had used his growing up on a ranch and then a bachelor’s in agriculture to his benefit—with the right investments, his brand of cattle farms had become one of the most successful in the country.

“My virgins see a doctor and they have a certificate of virginity. I don’t fool my buyers. How can we make sure it’s the same case for males?”

He scratched his day-old stubble. “Well, that’s tricky, I agree. But why can’t the virginity guarantee take a back seat to the fantasy of breaking in a young stud? Think of the moneyed middle-aged women ready to sleep with a man perceived to be innocent. A good-looking dude. Do they need anything else?”

She played with her pen, rolling it between her fingers. “Why me?”
“Because you already know the ropes. Saves me time.” She sat her pen on the desk. “I need to think.”

Needing to think was a hell of a lot better than a straight- up no. He stood, trills of hope surging through him. Yeah. He’d get his answers—and his revenge. “Tell you what. I’ll take you to dinner tomorrow. You can tell me your decision then.”

She lifted her hand in refusal, and even though she was sitting, he felt like she was on the same eye level as him. Her presence was that strong. “I don’t do dinners—”

He gave her a once-over, pretending annoyance himself. “Don’t you eat?”

She did a half eye roll. “You can come back here tomorrow. I’ll have my answer by then.”


Giveaway:
One lucky reader leaving a comment or email entry can win a $10 Amazon gift card!

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST September 16th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

The Dating Itinerary


Congratulations to "Laney4", the winner in Brooke's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!

As if it wasn’t bad enough to be deemed the “most single person” at her magazine’s office, budding reporter Penny has now been tapped to write a series of features called “The Dating Itinerary.” From speed dating to Tinder, old-fashioned matchmakers to up-and-coming “dark dating,” Penny now has to go on a lot of dates. Silver lining: meeting new people should be fun, right? But running into her old rival, George, at her first dating event is decidedly not. Not only does the arrogant know-it-all have zero trouble attracting women, wherever Penny goes, somehow he just. Keeps. Showing. Up.

This scene showcases a matching-making disaster as Penny realizes her date is not right for her—SO not right for her!

Penny rocked back and forth in her chair. She had absolutely nothing against facial hair, but the man sitting across from her had braids in his long beard. Plus, all the chunks from his soup that had dribbled down his chin were now caught in the hair—and he hadn’t even attempted to pick up his napkin.
She’d said she wasn’t all about appearance--and she meant it. The man did have kind, brown eyes and broad shoulders, but he wasn’t ticking any of the boxes on the personality side. He kept talking about duck hunting. Penny loved ducks! And he kept raising his eyebrows at her like they were sharing secrets, only she wasn’t in on the secrets themselves.
When her phone buzzed in the pocket of her pants, she was torn. She knew it was rude to just dig it out and check, but on the other hand, did she really care at this point? Penny slowly pulled the phone out and glanced at it discreetly beneath the table.
“On a date?” the text from Geo read.
She typed a quick, “Yes.” And hit send. On second thought, she typed, “Help” and hit send again. She returned her attention to the man before her and nodded and smiled as he took another bite of soup, the cracker he’d crumbled into it earlier lodging inside his beard. He might have a whole meal in there by now.
“Where?” Geo’s text came quickly, and Penny blinked at the screen before nodding at her date once again. It took her a minute to type the restaurant name into her phone in little pecks here and there. She didn’t want the man to report back to the matchmaker that she had been distracted during their date. When she hit send, she felt a sense of relief. She didn’t know if Geo was actually going to help her, but just having someone know that she wasn’t having a good time was a nice feeling.
She placed the phone under her leg, hoping it would buzz with a fake emergency from one of her sisters. Why hadn’t she taken Quarter’s advice and had her call at a certain time? In fact, she’d actually asked her sister not to call. She’d have to eat crow for this one. And put Nic, Q, and Di on speed dial for every date after this, just in case. The restaurant owner was a family friend and it was a public location. Plus, the matchmaker vetted both the men and women so Penny felt safe enough with the meeting. Perhaps she was too quick to trust the small lady behind the giant desk.
“So.” The man leaned forward, the end of his beard now officially in the soup . “This is going well, huh?” He raised his eyebrows three times, his chin bobbing up and down in the soup as his face moved.
“Um.” Penny had no idea what to say. She didn’t want to tell him to his face how turned off she was by his beard. Perhaps if it weren’t braided—or maybe didn’t have so much soup in it…
“What do you say we get out of here?” More eyebrow waggling.
Penny frowned. Her phone buzzed against her leg and she desperately grabbed at it and sneaked a look. “Bathroom,” it read.
“Excuse me, I’m going to use the restroom.” Penny stood, stuffing her phone back into her pants.
“I understand,” wave wave, “freshen up why don’t you,” wave.
Penny wanted to take a pin from her purse and attach his eyebrows together so they couldn’t wave at her any longer. She was not going to “get out of there” with him, but she was getting out of there. And she hoped Geo could help.


Giveaway:
Brooke is giving away a $5 gift card to one lucky person leaving a comment or email entry.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST September 10th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway.



Monday, September 7, 2020

The Wreckage Of Us


Giveaway Alert!

The Wreckage of Us takes place in the inauspicious town of Eres, Nebraska. Not exactly a place where happily-ever-afters are made. What made you choose this setting?

I wanted to tell a story about a small town that was overlooked by the world as a whole. Most people would overlook a town like Eres, Nebraska, but there are still people who are living, who are loving, and who are struggling in these small towns. I wanted to show their stories, and how even though the rest of the world may not see them, that they still matter. They deserve their happily ever afters just as much as the rest of the world.

Hazel, your heroine, is newly eighteen when her criminal step-father throws her out of the house. She literally has nothing when the story begins—not even her mother’s support. What choices does Hazel make? Do you agree with them?

Hazel chooses to find a job in order to help her mother from a distance. I think she acts on impulse, not exactly thinking things through. She doesn’t get the opportunity to think far into the future, she only has right in that moment. Second by second. I do agree with her choices in a way, since she isn't harming anyone with these choices. She is just doing her best to make it to the next day.

Forget about healing, Hazel is in survival mode. What keeps her going?

Her twisted love and care for her mother is keeping her going—along with her unborn sister. She knew what it was like to grow up in her household, and she wouldn’t want her little sister to go through those same kind of struggles. So, that pushes Hazel to keep moving forward and fighting for her family.

Your hero is a very interesting mix of both the town’s “golden boy” as well as the town’s “bad boy”. Ian is…complicated. How did you get to know him? How does Hazel get to know him?

I believe Hazel and I both got to know Ian the same way—piece by piece. He has a wall of protection up from the world due to the trauma he experienced as a child. Being abandoned by his parents really did a number on Ian’s trust. Yet, the beautiful thing about Ian is when he loves, he loves fully. He does everything he can to make sure those he loves are taken care of. Once his pieces are discovered, he makes a beautiful complete puzzle.

Music is Ian’s whole life. He sees it as his escape, a way out of the stifling Eres, Nebraska. However, he struggles with his emotions and allowing himself to really feel the music he is making. What needs to change for him? 

He needs to tap into his darkest struggles. He has to go to the edge of his anger, his hurts, and express those feelings on the page in front of him. Ian holds so much in that it becomes a creative block in a way. Once he starts breaking those walls down—with the help of Hazel—he discovers his real creativity. He finds his voice, he finds his songs. He finds himself.

Hazel and Ian are an unlikely pair. They really get on each other’s nerves and they want different things out of life. Yet despite their differences, they find a connection. What is the spark that brings them together?

I think it’s loneliness. They grew up without having the true love of their parents. And in the town of Eres, drugs are a big issue. Those drugs affected both of their parents lives in different ways, but it’s a connecting factor for them both. They are able to connect with one another because they both know what it’s like to hurt so deeply and dream of a parent’s love.

The theme of “impossible love” runs through your novels. Two people that can’t possibly make it work realize that they don’t want anyone else but each other. What excites you about these types of stories.

I think there’s something so exciting about a love worth fighting for. When the passion is given from not only one side of the equation, but both the hero and heroine know the feelings they have run deep. Sure, there are struggles, like there are in everyday life, but they know they wouldn’t want to struggle with anyone else in the world. They fight for their happily ever after, no matter what. And that, in my mind, is what makes the impossible love become possible and true. That’s what gives us the happily ever afters that we as readers crave.

Currently our country and the world are going through unprecedented crisis. The arts have become so important for people to feel a sense of normalcy. As a writer, how do you hope your story affects your readers?

I hope my stories give my readers hope. I hope it reminds them that even throughout the storms, the sun will always shine once the clouds move to the side. There’s beauty in the storms, too, if you are willing to look hard enough. There are lessons of self that can be learned, and I think my characters discover that from time to time. I just hope to showcase that this is still a time to believe in happily ever afters, and that the world’s story as a whole, is far from over. We still have so much beauty to still discover. We still have so much light to find. And those facts alone, give me hope, and I hope my stories do the same for readers. I hope I give them light.

How has our current situation affected projects you are working on now? (Any spoilers you can tell us about what is up next for you?)

I’m finding myself more forgiving of my writing pace! I fell off for a while, and found it hard to be creative, but now that I am in a groove, I am finding writing fun again. It’s my great escape from the issues around me. Words save me day in and day out, and I’m thankful for that. Up next for me is my second book in my Compass series, which is entitled Eastern Lights. It’s my first ever romantic comedy, that is filled with so much heart. I think readers are going to love getting to know Connor and Aaliyah’s story!

***

The Wreckage of Us Excerpt

A typical Eres Saturday night.

I wandered the ranch with a notebook and pen in my hand. I kept scribbling down lyrics and crossing them out before trying again to create something better, stronger—realer. I kept drumming my fingers against each other, trying to unlock the pieces that I was missing. As I paced back and forth, a voice broke me away from my mind.

“It’s the words.”

I looked up to see Hazel sitting in the rocking chair that Big Paw built for my mother years ago. I used to sit in Mom’s lap as she’d read me stories before bedtime all those years back.

There’d been times I thought about getting rid of the chair in order to forget that memory, but I hadn’t found the strength to let go just yet.

“What do you mean it’s the words?” I asked, walking up the steps of the porch. I leaned against the railing facing her.

She blinked and tilted her head in my direction. “Your words are trash.”

“What?”

“The lyrics to your songs, they are complete garbage, filled with clich├ęs and bubblegum. Don’t get me wrong, the music style and tempos are brilliant. And even though it pains me to admit, your voice is so solid and soulful that you could be a star in a heartbeat. But your lyrics? They are pig shit.”

“I think the saying is horseshit.”

“After spending weeks in a pig pen, pig shit seems to truly sum up my feelings about your music. But my gosh, your voice. It’s a good voice.”

I tried to push off her insult, and tried to ignore her compliment, too. But it was hard. I had an ego that was easy to bruise, and Hazel was swinging her punches while also speaking words of praise. It was as if every bruise she made, she quickly covered with a Bandaid.

Insult, compliment, insult, compliment. Wash, rinse, repeat.

“Everyone else seemed to enjoy it,” I replied, tense with my words.

“Yeah, well, everyone else are morons who are drunk off their minds.”

“Oh? And you think you could do better?”

She laughed. “Without a doubt.” “Okay, Hazel Stone, master of lyrics, give me something to go with.”

She gestured toward the other rocker beside her—the one Dad used to sit in.

I sat down.

She pressed her lips together. “Okay. Give me one of your songs. One that you know is crap but are pretending isn’t crap.”

“They aren’t—”

“Lying isn’t going to get us far tonight, Ian.” 

I narrowed my eyes and murmured a curse word before I began flipping through my notebook to find a song for Hazel to magically make better. “Fine. We can do Possibilities.”

“Hmm… What is it about?”

“A new relationship forming. I want to showcase those beginning feelings, you know? The fears and excitements. The nerves. The unknown. The—”

“First chapters of love,” she finished my thoughts.

“Yes, that.”

She took the pencil from behind my ear and took the notebook from my grip. “May I?”

“Please. Go for it.”

She began scribbling, crossing things out, adding things in, doing whatever came to her mind. She worked like a manwoman, falling into a world of creativity that I didn’t think she’d held inside of her. The only thing I knew about Hazel Stone was where she came from, and the clothes she wore. I hadn’t known anything else, but now she was pouring herself out on the page, and I couldn’t wait to see what the hell she was scribbling.

She took a breath and handed the notebook back to me. “If you hate it, no harm, no foul,” she said.

My eyes darted over the words. “It’s possible this is forever ours. It’s possible we’ll reach the stars. We’ll fight for this, we’ll make it real. Is it possible, possible, to show you how I feel?

“Shit.” I blew out a breath of air. “Hazel…that’s... It’s like you crawled into my head and read the thoughts I couldn’t decipher. That’s the chorus. That’s it.”

***

About the Book

Title - The Wreckage of Us
Author - Brittainy Cherry
Release Date - September 8, 2020
Publisher - Montlake

I know I should stay away from Ian Parker.

But when my drug-dealing stepdad kicks me out, I have nowhere to go. Squatting in an abandoned shed on Ian’s grandpa’s farm seems like as good a plan as any.

Ian finds me there, of course, and he insists on me moving into his spare room. I should say no, but the appeal of a roof and a warm bed is too much. Not to mention Ian’s brown eyes and strong arms.

We’re nothing alike, but the spark between us is undeniable. My life is finally looking up.

Until I call the cops on my stepdad and unintentionally get my pregnant mom arrested.

Now I have to sacrifice my dreams to take care of my mom’s baby. She’s the only family I have left. Meanwhile, Ian’s band is taking off; his dreams are coming true.

Ian is my one chance at love. I just hope he doesn’t become the one chance that got away.


About the Author

Brittainy Cherry has been in love with words since she took her first breath. She graduated from Carroll University with a bachelor’s degree in theater arts and a minor in creative writing. She loves to take part in writing screenplays, acting, and dancing—poorly, of course. Coffee, chai tea, and wine are three things that she thinks every person should partake in. Cherry lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her family. When she’s not running a million errands and crafting stories, she’s probably playing with her adorable pets.

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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Goodbye, Good Friend


Congratulations to "Lynn", the winner in Leslie's giveaway. Please contact JUST CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE to claim your prize!

I have a confession very few Texans make, even the transplanted ones like me: I’m not big on Willie Nelson. But I got some news late yesterday that led me to think about one of his more iconic hits, “Funny How Time Slips Away.”
            Time does slip away—usually. This year, time seems to have forgotten how to fly.  COVID-19, masks and elbow bumps, birthday parades, social upheaval, natural disasters—never would we welcome time leaving us in its dust more than this year.
            2020 has become the year everyone loves to hate, the most of evil of times. Unlike when old Charlie (Dickens, not Daniels) wrote, there is “no best of times” side to the coin.
            That was driven home to me when I made an excited visit to Maureen A. Miller at Just Contemporary Romance, intent on securing space for a blog. I’m nearly through with a Christmas story about fostering, about love—about giving freely.
            The large number of authors who graced the pages at JCR, and its sister sites, Just Romantic Suspense and Just Paranormal Suspense, were among some of the best in the business—side by side with those still striving to make a name, or just to have a an affordable, efficient way to introduce themselves and their work to readers around the world.
            Given the year and the times, I was saddened—but not shocked—to learn that the “Just” sites are closing down on October 1st of—yes, 2020. Maureen dedicated so much time and effort to making her sites valuable for authors.       
     The blogs were my favorite feature—I could write, I could drop the titles and gist of my works in front of a huge audience without twisting arms, which I’ve never been good at—and most importantly, Maureen was a friend.
            She overlooked my mistakes, she included me in that world of fabulous writers I wanted to belong in—and she became a friend. In any year, friendship is crucial to wellness.
            I understand Maureen’s decision to let go of the “Just” sites and give herself time and space to breathe and pursue her goals. I applaud it, in fact—I always felt, visiting her sites, that it must take an incredible effort to keep all those pieces functioning..
            But it also breaks my heart, as a writer and reader, that those top-of-the stack havens for writers are fading away.
            The Christmas romance I’m working on touches on fostering—in many of its forms. Whether it’s reaching out to nurture a child or taking home that dog nobody wants and cherishing it through its last days—the human spirit is enriched by reaching out in love, inclusion, and understanding.
            I found that at Just Contemporary Romance and its sister sites. Many authors and readers did—and we found it with Maureen.
            Thank you, Maureen. Stay safe, well, and an integral part of authors lives, in whatever form is right for you now.
            Willie got it right—time does slip away. I’m grateful for the time you were part of this writer’s life.

Giveaway:
Leslie will be giving away a $10 Amazon egift card to one lucky reader leaving a comment or email entry.

Mention writing to most first grade students--or teachers--and everyone runs from the room, screaming or crying, respectively. I, however, love the challenge of convincing the technology kids of today that words create everything they use, everything they enjoy. Yes, even those horrible cartoons and video games that are so foreign to me now. And the songs.
I, myself, was a published writer in first grade, first by the school principal, then by a novel but short-lived magazine written entirely by kids. I still remember the title: Kids. Paid me $1.50 for the last rhyming poem I ever wrote. "Dolphins are nice though they don't like ice" something something.
Luckily, my poetry no longer rhymes, and my stories strive to portray the mishmash of cultures, events, characters, and times that are our lives--all our lives, even if not everyone had a lion or a roadside amusement park or hid in an arroyo on their wedding day.
There's a circuitous route through most of our lives, and the publishing company that helped me learn to submit work for publication through their magazines and annual Writers Market, F&W Media, is now publishing my debut novel with Crimson Romance.
A lifetime of words away from first grade, but hopefully, you'll enjoy my words. I love hearing from readers, and hope you'll visit me one of these days.
Because words still have power, and always will.

Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST September 6th. Due to GDPR regulations you no longer need to submit your email address in the comments. If you have been selected as a winner your name will be posted at the top of the post. You may then contact maureen@JustContemporaryRomance.com to claim your prize. Your email address will be shared with the author/publicist providing the giveaway.         
           

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