Guest Author: Julie Howard

Thank you, Vicky, for having me on your blog today. I’m very excited about my new release, Sea Salt Lavender for Aphrodite. This is a summer “beach read” kind of book, even though at this time we’re not sure whether beach vacations are a good idea. But, hey, this is a good way to bring the beach home, right?

SeaSaltLavenderforAphrodite_w14442_ibThis new release is part of a summer series my publisher, The Wild Rose Press, has created with a beach theme. All the books are written by different authors in a variety of genres – from paranormal to romance to cozy mystery (like mine) – and all have the flavor of an ice cream in the title. Thus, the series name: One Scoop or Two. The books are considered novella-length, so nothing over 200 pages, and all are ebooks only.

Sea salt lavender is the flavor my main character, Rosella Rivers, creates for her ice cream business. She owns a food truck that she parks at fictional Olympus Bay’s boardwalk, a small touristy town along California’s central coast. A murder takes place near her trunk, and the plot takes off from there.

There’s a handsome detective, a smart poodle, and a cast of quirky characters. I loved writing this book and imagining myself in another place for a while – especially the beach! Read on for more about this book which releases this week.

Sea-Salt Lavender for Aphrodite

Tagline: A case of murder with sweet complications


Rosella Rivers enjoys the perfect life, loving her new ice cream food truck business featuring exotic flavors. But her beach view parking space is not so lovable when she finds an acquaintance stabbed to death in the boardwalk bathroom.

Detective Mark Pruitt knows murder is bad for small-town Olympus Bay. He must find the suspect before he strikes again. When he first sets eyes on Rosella, the only witness, he is smitten. However, there’s no time for romance when danger lurks.

Together he and the lovely ice cream maker must discover the killer before he turns his sight on Rosella.


The echo of a drip-drip-drip resonated from within. Rosella glanced around, wishing a man would pass by, someone she could send inside on her behalf. On this side of the structure, though, the beachfront was hidden from view and the building backed by sand dunes. Unless someone needed to use the facilities, they wouldn’t approach.


A distant chime from the town clock made her heart sink. Ten a.m. Opening time. She had to get back to her truck. A fresh round of anxious yips sounded. She 
scooted to the corner of the building and peeked toward 
her truck. Aphrodite stood at attention, straining at the 
leash. The dog barked twice at spotting her and renewed efforts to break free of the tether.

She returned to the doorway. “Mick, I’m just going 
to step inside since I’m a little bit worried, just to make sure you’re okay. Let me know if I shouldn’t come in.” No response sounded. “All right, coming in.”

The odor hit her first. Heavy, sweet, sickening. Then her eyes registered the scene. Mick lay face down in the middle of the tile floor, a steady stream of deep red blood winding its way toward a drain.

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Julie's pixBio:

Julie Howard is the author of the best-selling Wild Crime and Spirited Quest series. She is a former journalist and editor who has covered topics ranging from crime to cowboy poetry. Now she edits an online anthology, Potato Soup Journal, and spends many delightful hours writing her books.

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Guest Author: Colleen Donnelly

perf5.000x8.000.inddThank you, Vicky, for letting me share about a book that was fun to write, and from what I’ve heard others say, fun to read as well. My latest historical romance, “Letters and Lies,” follows the humorous trek of a determined near spinster who after months of being wooed and proposed to by letters, decides to lie her way west to find the homesteader who at the last minute sent a telegram that jilted her. Humiliated, infuriated, and desperate, Louise Archer manages to lie her way into lives, situations, and towns she thought merely useful or in her way, only to discover the course she fought to take and the one she fought to avoid brought her…albeit red-faced…to the place she was meant to be all along.


Louise Archer boards a westbound train in St. Louis to find the Kansas homesteader who wooed and proposed to her by correspondence, then jilted her by telegram – Don’t come, I can’t marry you. Giving a false name to hide her humiliation, her lie backfires when a marshal interferes and offers her his seat.

Marshal Everett McCloud intends to verify the woman coming to marry his homesteading friend is suitable. At the St. Louis train station, his plan detours when he offers his seat to a captivating woman whose name thankfully isn’t Louise Archer.

Everett’s plans thwart hers, until he begins to resemble the man she came west to find, and she the woman meant to marry his friend.


“He wrote and changed your plans? Why didn’t you tell me? You know I love hearing his letters.”

Everyone loved hearing his letters. Or at least they’d pretended to. I glanced at my friends, especially the one who’d first suggested I correspond with her husband’s homesteading friend in Kansas who was ready to look for a wife. She dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief while she flicked the fingers of her other hand in a weak wave. I dredged my soul in search of a smile. The man she’d introduced me to truly had penned everything I’d ever wanted in a husband, months of letters which convinced Mama Jim was my open door. Letters I’d foolishly carted from family to friend to blather every word like a desperate spinster. Drat.

“He didn’t send his change of plans in a letter, Mama. He sent them in a telegram.” Don’t come, I can’t marry you. The only words I never shared.

“Well I imagine your Jim has a surprise for you and didn’t have time to send a letter before you left for Crooked Creek. How thoughtful to wire you instead.”

Thoughtful…I felt poisoned and Mama would too if she ever found out Jim had shut my open door. Which she wouldn’t, since as soon as I got out there and found him, I’d wedge it back open again.



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Born and raised in the Midwest, Colleen studied and worked in science, using that career to travel and explore other parts of the country. An avid fan of literature, both reading and writing, she loves tales involving moral dilemmas and the choices people come up against. A lover of the outdoors as well as a comfy living room, Colleen is always searching inside and out for the next good story.



New Reviews, and a New Page

Hi everyone! We’ve added a new page to our site. Because her reviews are so detailed and insightful, Teresa now has her own nonfiction page. Please check there for her latest.

New ones we’ve added so far this week include:

Under Teresa’s Nonfiction:

A People’s Guide to Publishing – 5 sparklers!

Under general Nonfiction:

A Year of Mindfulness for Beginners by Lee Papa – 3 sparklers

Holistic Self-care Guided Journal by Carley Schweet – 5 sparklers

Everyday Stress Relief by Ruth C. White – 5 sparklers

Self-Care Check-In by GG Renee Hill – 5 sparklers

Living Zen by Seth Zuiho Segall – 3 sparklers

One-Pot Vegan Cookbook by Gunjan Dudani – 5 sparklers

Essential Fondue by Erin Harris – 4 sparklers

Under Romance:

To Heal a Heart by Jana Richards – 5 sparklers

And under “Adult Fiction”

The Book of CarolSue by Lynne Hugo – 3 sparklers

Guest Author: Jana Richards

perf5.000x8.000.inddTagline: Two souls in pain, two hearts in need of rescue.


Garrett Saunders’ world changed two years ago on a road in Afghanistan. Back home, he feels like a stranger. As he struggles to find his place in the world, he meets a horse destined for the slaughterhouse and a woman bent on rescuing the strays of the world, including him.

Blair Greyson moves to Masonville to look after her ailing grandfather and give her rescue horses a home. Right away she butts heads with a surly former Marine. Despite a rocky start, they come to an agreement: Blair will board Garrett’s rescue horse and he’ll help with repairs around her farm.

Garrett finds purpose working with Blair—and falls in love with her. But she’s hiding a secret. Can she forgive herself and accept Garrett’s love, or will she let guilt and regret continue to rule her life?


He pushed himself to his feet, disconcerted by his unsteadiness. He made a few halting steps toward the gate as Blair ran into the yard.

“I forgot my sweater,” she said, grabbing the garment from the back of a chair and slipping it on. “It’s cooler than I thought. Are you sure you don’t want to watch the fireworks with us?”

“No, I—”

His words were cut off by a loud explosion, and his only thought was that he had to protect Blair. He grabbed her and threw her to the ground, covering her body with his. He was under attack. Why was Blair in Afghanistan? How could he keep her safe?

Through the chaos and noise he heard her muffled voice beneath him. “Garrett, you’re crushing me.”

He shifted his weight slightly. “Shh. I’m sorry. You have to stay down and quiet. I can’t let them hurt you.”

She stopped struggling. “Who’s going to hurt me?”

“Can’t you hear the mortar fire? I have to protect you.”

Her hand rubbed his back in gentle circles. “It’s all right, Garrett. It’s only fireworks. It can’t hurt us. We’re safe here.”

He lifted his head and looked around. He was in Cole and Lauren’s back yard in Masonville. There were no bombs, no shelling, no Taliban. He looked down into Blair’s face, into the pity in her eyes. He rolled off her, disgusted with himself.

Disgusted and scared. He was losing his mind.

ToHealaHeart-preorder-twitterBuy Links: (Pre-order until June 15, 2020)


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_MG_7506email-Jana Richards

Author Bio: When Jana Richards read her first romance novel, she immediately knew two things: she had to commit the stories running through her head to paper, and they had to end with a happily ever after. She also knew she’d found what she was meant to do. Since then she’s never met a romance genre she didn’t like. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and historical romance set in World War Two, in lengths ranging from short story to full length novel. Just for fun, she throws in generous helpings of humor, and the occasional dash of the paranormal. Her paranormal romantic suspense “Seeing Things” was a 2008 EPPIE finalist.

In her life away from writing, Jana is an accountant/admin assistant, a mother to two grown daughters, and a wife to her husband Warren. She enjoys golf, yoga, movies, concerts, travel and reading, not necessarily in that order. She and her husband live in Winnipeg, Canada. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at

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Guest Author: Sadira Stone

On sale (ebook) for $2.99 May 18-29!!!

Tagline: She’s a free spirit. He’s a one-woman man.

Blurb: perf5.000x8.000.indd

Rejected by her family for her bisexuality, graphic artist Margot DuPont yearns for a life with no fences, no limits, and no family ties. Between college, work at Book Nirvana, and an art competition, she barely has time for her part-time girlfriend, much less a flirtation with her competitor.

Dumped into the foster system at a young age, ceramics artist Elmer Byrne craves a big, loving family of the heart. His artist family almost fills that need, but something is missing…until Margot. But when he offers his heart, her thorny defenses shatter him.

Thrown together in an art competition that could jump-start one artist’s career, but not both, their irresistible attraction forces them to reconsider the meaning of success.


“Tell you what,” he said. “How about if we have drinks and talk about anything but the competition?”


“You’re a real hard-ass, aren’t you?” He rolled his eyes. “Because I like you, Margot.”


He leaned so close their foreheads almost touched, a challenge simmering in his smile. “Have a drink with me and find out.”

If there was one thing she couldn’t resist, it was a challenge. On the other hand, he might not like her so much if he knew about Darcy. Let that be the test, then. Let him prove he wasn’t one of those possessive, controlling guys Darcy warned her about.

“Okay. I will.” She stepped back. “But you should know, I’m sort of seeing someone.”

His thick auburn brows contracted. “Sort of?”

“A woman.”

His nostrils flared on a deep inhalation, but he held her gaze. “Is it serious?”

“Not really.” Might as well serve up the truth, raw and ungarnished. Might as well be honest with herself too. “She lives in Berkeley. I only see her every month or two.”

Holding her gaze, he nodded. “Okay then. Thanks for telling me.” The tense lines of his mouth relaxed into a casual grin. “So, drinks?”

Well I’ll be damned.

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Amazon        Barnes & Noble    Apple Books     Kobo       Google Play

And it’s on sale (ebook) for $2.99 May 18-29!!!

Author Photo 200 by 300Author Bio:

Ever since her first kiss, Sadira’s been spinning steamy tales in her head. After leaving her teaching career in Germany, she finally tried her hand at writing one. Now she’s a happy citizen of Romancelandia, penning contemporary romance from her new home in Washington State, U.S.A. When not writing, which is seldom, she explores the Pacific Northwest with her charming husband, enjoys the local music scene, plays darts (pretty well), plays guitar (badly), and gobbles all the books. Visit Sadira at .

Inspiration for the Book Nirvana Series:

Until 2016, I was one of those readers—literary snobs who look down their noses at romance for the usual stupid reasons: too corny, too predictable, too fluffy. Then I read about how fun and lucrative writing erotica can be. I thought, what the heck? Let’s try.

I have never had so much fun with a writing project! My first steamy romance, Through the Red Door, nearly wrote itself, though it damn sure didn’t edit itself. Now I’m totally addicted to passionate, heartfelt stories with happy endings, both as a reader and as a writer.

Why set the series in a bookshop? Ever since I was a wee lass, I dreamed of owning one. Add to that my fascination with historical erotic art and literature, and you’ve got the Book Nirvana series, set in an indie bookshop with an extensive erotica collection behind a locked red door.

I love writing stories in which a couple’s powerful physical attraction leads them to consider a partner outside their usual M.O.—one who just might turn out to be their perfect match. That’s how it happened for my husband and me!

I wanted to set my series in a college town, so I chose Eugene, home of the University of Oregon, with its lively arts scene and rich counterculture legacy from the hippie era. It’s now my favorite Oregon town to visit!

Sign up for Sadira’s quarterly email newsletter for freebies, news about upcoming books, and some really bad romance jokes!

I’d love to hear from you! Please visit me on all the socials.

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New Reviews!

It’s been a busy week for reading!

In fiction: Romance:

5 Sparklers to Jana Richards for her book “To Heal a Heart” – this one pulls at the heartstrings. Definitely recommended.

In Non-fiction:

The Toughest Sudoku Puzzle Book by Christina and Rick Smith. 5 Sparklers for this challenger!

One-Pot Vegan Cookbook by Gunjan Dudani – 5 Sparklers to this one too! Vegan or not, this is a good book to have on your shelves. I know I’m going to be using several of the recipes soon, and a lot more in the future.

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Cookbook by Danielle Fahrenkrug – 4 Sparklers. This is a decent book with some really good recipes, good information, and would be a good addition to any GF-DF shelf.

Convection Oven Cooking Made Simple by Janet A. Zimmerman – 4 Sparklers – This is a helpful book for those who have convection ovens—and there are a lot of great recipes even if you don’t. The conversion charts would help you go either way. I’d definitely add this one to my shelves.

Dairy Free Cookbook for Beginners by Chrissy Carroll – 5 Sparklers – This is a good basic book with clear, concise easy-to-follow recipes. A definite must for those with dairy issues and a good addition to any cookbook shelf.

Everyday Healthy Cookbook by Kathy Hodson – 4 Sparklers – For a good basic book on eating healthier, I’d add this one to my shelves. There are a lot of really good recipes in here (that I will definitely be trying). Recommended.



Guest Author: Natalie J. Damschroder

From Seeds to Superheroes: The Ideas that Created The CASE Files

NJD_TheColorofCourage_600x900I started writing The Color of Courage, the first book in The CASE Files trilogy, long before the latest wave of superhero movies and TV shows. Spider-Man was really the only one that had real-world problems back then. I wanted to write about superheroes whose biggest issues weren’t hiding their identities from friends and enemies alike. (And yeah, this was before Iron Man declared himself at a press conference! LOL) The world of entertainment caught up to me long ago, but I think I still managed to maintain some unique elements in this series. 🙂
The Color of Courage started with the catalyst for a breakup. ““If I can feel this way about another woman, it says something about our future, you know? Yours and mine.” That was all I had. A cool idea, but just a tiny one. The breakup had to have greater significance to Daley, my heroine, so she became an empath. Her superpower is seeing emotions. Except she can’t see emotions that relate to her, which makes her life complicated.
TheLightofRedemption_600x900With book 2, The Light of Redemption, I had the title first. That meant the heroine’s ability had to be manipulating light. I knew I wanted to set this in a small town, which meant the enemies – and the stakes – were going to be really personal. But having more than a tiny seed of an idea didn’t make the story any easier to write. There was a lot of dormancy between all the watering and fertilizing and midnight brainstorms. 🙂
By the time I got to my new release, The Reflection of Hope, I knew what the story was going to be. CASE (the Citizens Against Superhero Existence) had played a peripheral role in the first two books, and the third book had to take them down. And Evan, who lost his sister in book 1 and played a small but significant role in book 2, had to be the one to do it. That was way more than I had for either of the first two books. But the heroine had to take center stage, and I knew nothing about her.

reflections of hopeOnce I started writing, though, Ripley was immediately a whole person. I didn’t know her full backstory, not until she started revealing it to others. And a really big part of it, she didn’t even know herself. The journey of discovery was one of the most fun I’ve had, and I think the result is one of my best-written books ever.

Ripley and Evan can’t be together until their emotional journeys are complete, and those are tied tightly with the goal of stopping CASE from destroying all the superheroes in the country. People who mean a great deal to Evan and Ripley. People who deserve to keep living the happiness they achieved in The Color of Courage and The Light of Redemption.
I am so excited to have this final book out in the world, and I hope my readers love it as much as I do!

The Color of Courage

The Light of Redemption
The Reflection of Hope




Guest Author: Shira Anthony 5/12

ChasingTheStory_FBbanner_DSP(1)Thank you Vicky and Sparkling Reviews for hosting release day for Chasing the Story, the second book in my Coastal Carolina series of gay romances set at the North and South Carolina coasts. Books in the series are standalones, so you can dive in with this book or, if you prefer, check out The First Step to read them in publication order. Please be sure to read to the bottom of the post for an excerpt from the new book!

My husband and I quit our day jobs this past December and have been living aboard our Admiral 38 catamaran, Prelude. If you’d like to check her out, you’ll find a video tour I filmed about 3 days after we purchased her and sailed on the open ocean to bring her home from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, to Wilmington, North Carolina:

Over the years my husband and I have been sailing, we’ve spent the majority of time at the North and South Carolina coasts, so I guess it’s not at all surprising that I’ve been inspired to write about the area in the Coastal Carolina series. Like the first series book, Chasing the Story takes place in Wilmington, North Carolina.Wilmington from the River

Wilmington is one of my favorite coastal cities. Small enough that it feels more like a town, but large enough that there are fun and funky places to discover and lots of cool places to eat. The city is 35 miles or a five-hour boat ride (our boat is pretty slow) from the ocean and within an easy drive of great beaches. Built on the banks of the Cape Fear River, it’s rich in history, including pirates and rumrunners.

At the mouth of the Cape Fear River is Bald Head Island, which features in the Coastal Carolina books as well as Take Two, another book I wrote set in the Carolinas. On a day off from their work as reporters, the two main characters in Chasing the Story spend the day on the island. Without giving too much away, that day at the beach is a turning point in their relationship.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from the book. I hope you have a chance to visit the Carolina coast at some point, but even if you don’t, hopefully you’ll be able to imagine the salty air and dipping your toes in the surf as you read this series! —Shira Anthony

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Dreamspinner Press:


A Coastal Carolina Novel

When TV reporter Brand Josephson attends an industry awards dinner in Charlotte, North Carolina, the last person he expects to bump into is the man he’s idolized since he was a high school student. Back then, Zach Caldwell was a New York City anchor riding terrific ratings to a prized spot on the national news. But when Zach disappeared before taking the job, he left many people, including Brand, wondering what happened.

Since leaving New York for North Carolina four years before, Zach’s kept to himself and avoided relationships. He tells himself he’s happy with his reclusive life as editor of the local Wilmington newspaper, but when he and Brand end up chasing the same story of industry corruption, Brand’s romantic charm and all-around good nature sneak past his defenses and into his heart. Brand’s discovery of the scandal behind Zach’s hasty exit from broadcast television puts their newly fledged relationship to the test, but the story they’re working on together puts their lives on the line….


BRAND YAWNED and rubbed his eyes before replaying his phone messages—twice—to be sure he’d written the numbers down correctly. So much for hoping a good sweat would help him focus on something other than Zach turning him down, or the possibility that Zach might reconsider.

He tapped his pen on the table and sipped his second cup of coffee. Most of the messages were from coworkers, including his director reminding him of a morning meeting. The last was from a woman named Tessa Gordon who wanted the station to look into the collapse of her Wrightsville Beach home during Hurricane Florence.

Oh, hello. My name is Tessa Gordon. I don’t know if this is the right number to leave a message about a story… I mean a possible story… I don’t know what you’d call it, but it’s about my house. My husband and I have—had—a place in the Summer Shoals neighborhood near Wrightsville Beach. We’re retired, and we went to my daughter Caroline’s house during the storm. When we got back—” She sobbed openly now. “—it was gone. All of it. And it wasn’t even a year old. It’s not right. I know the storm was terrible, but—

The recording cut off, but she called back. “This is Tessa Gordon again. I’m sorry I went on so long. Please tell me you’ll look into what happened.” She left a callback number.

He’d gotten at least a dozen calls like this asking him to look into why it was taking so long to get power restored, how cell phone service was still spotty in some areas, and how the debris piles around town were starting to smell. With a storm like Florence, houses crumbled, trees toppled, and utilities took forever to repair the damage, even with state and local officials putting in overtime. Still, the story might make a good addition to his hurricane follow-up series.

He jotted Tessa Gordon’s name and number in his notebook, refilled his coffee, then pulled up a map of Wrightsville Beach and located Summer Shoals. Close to the ocean, the development featured a mix of midrange and upper-range housing starting at $600,000. Typical raised construction to allow for flooding. Lots of bells and whistles, including hurricane upgrades. From what Brand could tell, the development was fully built.

He’d give her a call once he finished a few more things, then head out to Wrightsville.

“What’s up with you?” Brand’s director, Kendra, peered into his office ten minutes later.

“Nothing.” He scrolled through the copy for the story about reuniting lost pets with their owners he was supposed to be working on.

She shook her head and tapped her watch. “We were supposed to meet twenty minutes ago. My office?”

“Shit. I forgot.” Ever since Zach turned him down for dinner, he’d been spinning his wheels.

“No kidding.” She smiled. “Hot new story?”

“Could be.” And then there was Zach. But he wasn’t going to tell her about him. Not yet, at least. “Home in Wrightsville demolished in the storm.”

“That’s news?”

“Maybe. Maybe not. The hurricanes did a lot of damage, but we haven’t gotten a lot of reports of homes totally destroyed.” It might be a dud, but the story would give him something to keep his mind off Zach. “I’ll check it out this afternoon.”

“I’ll reschedule our weekly.” She tilted her head to one side and squinted at him. “You seem a little off. Need to talk?”

She knew him too well. “Maybe another time. Thanks.” Maybe he’d tell her over drinks at Craven’s Pub later in the week.

“Sure thing.” She smiled and added, “Let me know what you turn up on the home thing.”

“Will do.”

He turned back to his computer screen and reread the pet story a few more times before picking up the phone and dialing Tessa Gordon’s number. She answered right away.

“Ms. Gordon? This is Brand Josephson from WCBN. I’m returning your call.”

“Oh. Oh, Mr. Josephson, thank you so much,” she answered, clearly flustered. “I wasn’t sure… I mean, I didn’t know if…. Well, you’ve called me back. Thank you.”

He smiled. Even if there was probably nothing he could do to help, he understood how upset she must be. “It’s fine. Really. Happy to do it.”

“Are you going to investigate?”

“How about you tell me a little more about the situation. What makes you think there’s something more to what happened to your home?” he asked.

“John—that’s my husband—he says I’m crazy,” she said with a nervous laugh. “I mean, it was a terrible storm, and there were a lot of houses damaged. And insurance will cover most of the cost to rebuild, but— Oh, I’m going on again, aren’t I?”

“It’s okay. Let’s start from the beginning. You said the house was pretty new?”

“That’s right. They finished construction around Christmas last year. My husband and I retired from our jobs in Charlotte and moved to Carolina Beach. This was our dream home.”

Brand scribbled a few notes. “Who was the builder? Is it part of a bigger development?”

“Euclid Builders,” she replied. “They do larger developments, but this was on a plot of land we’d bought a few years back. I don’t know if they built any of the other homes at Summer Shoals.”

“Thanks. That’s helpful.” But not much go on either. “So tell me what happened during the storm—Hurricane Florence? Or was it Michael?”

“Florence.” She sniffled. “Excuse me. It’s just so hard to talk about it….”

“It’s okay. Take your time.”

“John and I went to my daughter’s during the storm. She lives in Greenville, so we figured that was safer.”

“Sure.” More than half the county had left in the face of Hurricane Florence.

“When we finally made it back, we expected there’d be some damage.” Her voice broke as she continued. “But… oh, I can still see it now… there was… nothing. Absolutely nothing except a pile of wood and siding and…. It was horrible.”

Now that surprised him. He figured she might have exaggerated in the message, since very few homes sustained that kind of catastrophic damage in Hurricane Florence. “Was there flooding in the area?”

“Flooding? No. It’s a few rows back from the beach.”

“What about other houses in the area?” he asked.

“The other houses were fine… at least mostly. A few lost shingles, and there were some where the siding blew off. Some water damage where windows leaked. That sort of thing.”

That bit of information was also unusual. Other houses in the same neighborhood took only a little bit of damage, and her house was completely destroyed? “And you said your builder—Euclid, was it?—didn’t build any of the other homes in the development?”

“That’s right. Best I know, we’re the only one they built.”

Probably a coincidence. He scribbled a note to remind himself to double-check about the builder. Most developments in the area were single-builder projects.

“I know the storm was terrible,” she said when he didn’t immediately respond. “But we paid extra to have the house built to withstand hurricanes.”

“You did?”

“Yes. The man who spoke to us from the builder—Van was his name, I think—he told us that it would be worth the extra money to upgrade the construction. He guaranteed us it would still be standing, even if most of the homes in our area were damaged or worse. We… we believed… we thought… it’s probably stupid, but we thought the extra money would keep the house safe.”

A reputable builder wouldn’t guarantee a reinforced home would make it through a hurricane. No one could be absolutely sure. Brand had looked into it himself when he’d first moved to North Carolina.

“How much extra did you pay for this upgrade?”

“I don’t remember. Maybe an extra fifty thousand dollars or so? I could look through the paperwork, if you’d like.”

“No problem. Can you email me copies of the paperwork you have from the builder? Contracts, any communications, letters, that sort of thing?” Brand asked.

“Yes, of course. Does that mean you’ll take the case—I mean look into it?”

“Ms. Gordon,” he said gently, “I’m not a detective. Even if I look into this for you, it won’t necessarily help you the way you might want it to.”

“I know, I know,” she said. “But it’s not right. It shouldn’t have happened. They promised me….” She blew her nose, and Brand pulled the receiver away from his ear.

“Have you called the builder about the guarantee?” he asked.

“We tried, but the number’s been disconnected. The website’s still up, but I don’t think it’s been updated in a least a few months. We even sent them a letter, but it came back in the mail.”

Scammers didn’t tend to stick around. “I’d like to see the house,” he said. “When you have time, of course.”

Guest Author: Peggy Jaeger

_There's never a wrong time for ice cream._ _Tandy Blakemore, ownerHappy Mother’s Day

My newest Wild Rose Press release, VANILLA WITH A TWIST, is my first foray into writing a teenage pregnancy into one of my romance stories.

My inspiration for the story was a girl with a past, unwed pregnancy and I wanted to explore how something like that can impact someone who lives in a small, isolated community.

Tandy Blakemore got pregnant at barely 16, the baby-daddy an day worker her father hired to help during calving season at the family dairy farm. Before Tandy ever knew she was pregnant, the boy was long gone. When you grow up and live in a small town, everyone knows everything there is to know about you and your secrets become the possessions and gossip of the populous.

Tandy kept the baby, finished high school and then stayed on the farm. Once her grandmother and mother died and Tandy saw her future as only a housemaid to her father and brothers, she decided to leave her home and take her 8 year old son with her. Through a small inheritance left to her by her grandmother, Tandy was able to set herself up in business and take care of herself and her son financially.

Her son and her business are everything Tandy has in her life. Just making ends meet is a daily struggle, but Tandy’s determination to make it on her own and keep her baby are her guiding force.

On this Mother’s Day, when I haven’t been able to see my daughter since Christmas due to the social isolation guidelines, I am convinced more than ever that Tandy’s story is a common one to many women. Single parents who take the responsibility of their children heavily, and who do everything in their power to ensure their families are cared for and loved.

Tandy Blakemore is a strong woman, a loving mother, and a women I could see myself being friends with.

Happy Mother’s Day ~ Peggy Jaeger


perf5.000x8.000.inddRelease date 5.20.2020, Format: ebook only, Sweet contemporary small town romance


Tandy Blakemore spends her days running her New England ice cream parlor, single-parenting her teenage son, and trying to keep her head above financial water. No easy feat when the shop’s machinery is aging and her son is thinking about college. Tandy hasn’t had a day off in a decade and wonders if she’ll ever be able to live a worry-free life.

Engineer Deacon Withers is on an enforced vacation in the tiny seaside town of Beacher’s Cove. Overworked, stressed, and lonely, he walks into Tandy’s shop for a midday ice cream cone and gets embroiled in helping her fix a broken piece of equipment.

Can the budding friendship that follows lead to something everlasting?

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For a few moments, she regarded him with a look his mother would have called insightful. The corners of her eyes narrowed, she dipped her chin a hair, and she pulled her mouth into another appealing pout he was tempted to kiss.

“I bet,” she said after a long, drawn-out sigh, “you were the kind of kid who took apart clocks and fans and vacuum cleaners to see how they worked.”

“It was more washing machines and lawn mowers and anything with a motor, but yeah. I was.”

She shook her head, her own lips forming a lopsided grin. “Your poor mother.”

“She survived.”

Tandy rolled her eyes and shot her hands to her hips. “So it’s working again?” She thrust her chin at the ice cream machine.

“For now.”

“Okay, well, I can live with for now. And you think you know the real reason it’s been acting up?”

“I definitely do. But like I said, the water to the machine needs to be shut off to fix it.”

“Okay. Well, we close at nine.”

“I’ll come back a little before then. Get things ready. Is that okay with you?”

“I guess it’ll have to be.” She bit down on the inside of her cheek as her brows pulled together. “And you’re sure you want to do this?”

“If I weren’t, I wouldn’t offer, Tandy.”

Why her reluctance to have him help was such a turn-on was something he considered while he waited for his ice cream.

Author Bio and Social media links:

peggyheadshotPeggy Jaeger is a contemporary romance writer who writes Romantic Comedies about strong women, the families who support them, and the men who can’t live without them. If she can make you cry on one page and bring you out of tears rolling with laughter the next, she’s done her job as a writer!

Family and food play huge roles in Peggy’s stories because she believes there is nothing that holds a family structure together like sharing a meal…or two…or ten. Dotted with humor and characters that are as real as they are loving, she brings all topics of daily life into her stories: life, death, sibling rivalry, illness and the desire for everyone to find their own happily ever after. Growing up the only child of divorced parents she longed for sisters, brothers and a family that vowed to stick together no matter what came their way. Through her books, she’s created the families she wanted as that lonely child.

When she’s not writing Peggy is usually painting, crafting, scrapbooking or decoupaging old steamer trunks she finds at rummage stores and garage sales.

A lifelong and avid romance reader and writer, Peggy is a member of RWA and her local New Hampshire RWA Chapter.

As a lifelong diarist, she caught the blogging bug early on, and you can visit her at where she blogs daily about life, writing, and stuff that makes her go “What??!”

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