Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Reinventing Riley: A New Season Story by Liz Flaherty

Reinventing Riley:  A New Season Story
by Liz Flaherty

Book Blurb:

A New Season, Book 2 – Reinventing Riley 

A month ago, I told you about how A New Season began—with the crossing of a bridge into somewhere or something different, something new—something that is a change. Only this time it was a real bridge. I don’t remember where we were, but the green sign identifying the span identified it as Fallen Soldier Bridge. 

I told you about Syd Cavanaugh then. Today I’m introducing her best friend, Riley Winters. 

Living in Central Indiana among a gathering of small towns, one of the fun things for me about visiting cities is their tall buildings. I find them amazing and exciting. I like craning my neck in search of the sky, eating at restaurants not available in cornfield communities, and walking everywhere. 

And then I can’t wait to get home, where the tallest building in all those small towns is three stories, the sky is big and beautiful, and “everybody knows your name.”   

But it’s the buildings I’m thinking about today, the ones that hold place of pride on corners or stand in groups in the middle of the block, their facades corniced and bracketed. They’re brick and most of them have had windows and doors and purposes replaced over the years. Many of them have been painted in colors more welcoming than the old brick. 

Reinventing Riley is a sweet romance between a rock-and-roll playing pastor and a savvy businesswoman. Their story shouldn’t have anything to do with buildings, and yet it does. When Rye, who’s just sold a business and has absolutely no interest in buying another one, sees the Culp Building in downtown Fallen Soldier, Pennsylvania, it speaks to her. Like all old buildings, it has stories to tell. 

Reluctantly, she listens.   


On the plane, Jake talked about the interview. “I think it went well. The church is large and much more progressive than Fallen Soldier. I could actually have a private life there. The youth pastorate is the one that’s open, so I’d work with kids, and I’d love that.” 

The but was silent, but she felt it anyway. “When are you going to North Carolina?” she asked. 

“Not until after the holidays. I’m going down to preach a Sunday in January for Wyatt, and I’ll talk to them while I’m there.  Even if I end up leaving Fallen Soldier, I owe the Little Church in the Woods fulltime until that happens. I wouldn’t leave between Thanksgiving and Christmas in any event.” 

She wished she could tell what he was really thinking, but she couldn’t. There was no vibe between them indicating which way his decision was leaning. Not that those vibes were all that dependable anyway. She used to think she knew what was in Ben’s mind and heart, and she seldom did. They had joked that with bipolar disorder, she was bound to be right at least half the time, but it hadn’t worked out that way.  

They talked about other things then, a movie they wanted to see, the Christmas pageant at church, the food pantry that burst with donations this time of year but was nearly bare by February.  

When they were on the mountain road that led from Altoona to Cooper Lake, Jake said quietly, “It’s a blessing to have choices.” He slowed as light snow began to drift down. “I’ve known people whose pastoral careers were irreversibly changed and occasionally ruined by a single incident that was often not within their control. Or by a decision that didn’t fit into the parameters set forth by a church’s administration even if it was done in faith.” 

They didn’t get back to the lake until after nine o’clock. Although it had been an eventful day and much had been accomplished, Rye was exhausted when she crawled into bed with Hagar against her back.  

Being alone felt good—it was something she’d finessed over the years since Ben’s passing. But it could also be lonely. If Jake went to Chicago, would she change her mind once again about moving there?  

The very thought made her sit up in bed, startling Hagar, who meowed in annoyance and dived under the covers.  

She’d been widowed for six years. She’d been a successful businesswoman for much longer than that. She avoided long-term relationships like the plague she often thought they were. She’d— 

Well, she’d never lied to herself, for starters, and she wasn’t going to start now. She didn’t know exactly what this “thing” with Jake McAlister was, but it was different than anything she’d experienced before. He was different.  

And perhaps she was, too.   

Bio and links: 

Liz Flaherty has spent the past several years enjoying not working a day job, making terrible crafts, and writing stories in which the people aren’t young, brilliant, or even beautiful. She’s decided (and has to re-decide most every day) that the definition of success is having a good time. Along with her husband of lo, these many years, kids, grands, friends, and the occasional cat, she’s doing just that. Find her on Facebook or her blog, Window Over the Sink. A girl just can’t have too many friends!  She can be reached at or please find her at any of the places listed in Linktree at 


Monday, November 27, 2023

Christmas With A Cowboy by Pam Mantovani



The holiday spirit has wrapped up a cowboy just for her, but romance isn't in her plans.

Christmas With a Cowboy

Cowboys of Burton Springs Book 7

by Pam Mantovani

Genre: Holiday Romance


She’s all wrapped up in him . . .

Avery McClain is looking forward to her first Christmas in Montana with her little girl. But as soon as she arrives, she’s caught in an unexpected tug of war between two ranchers wanting to buy the land left to her by her favorite uncle. All she wants to do is make the holiday special for daughter. But instead, she’s overwhelmed with attempts to pressure her into selling. And she’s uncomfortably attracted to one of the men competing for her property.

Judson Ford wants Avery McClain’s land to expand his horse breeding operation. He didn’t anticipate his attraction to her, or his admiration for her courage. And her little girl is so damn cute! Before he knows it, he’s been swept up in her Christmas spirit. Suddenly, Avery and her daughter are filling all the empty spaces in his life.

But then, Avery is offered a job opportunity that would mean she’d have to relocate. And Judson realizes that everything in him is pushing him to ask her to stay and make a life—a family—with him.

Unfortunately, someone else has other ideas.

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Chapter One 

AVERY MCCLAIN didn’t cry when she signed the divorce papers. Tears, along with regrets, had disappeared as she’d fought her now ex-husband for what she wanted . . .what was rightfully hers. 

Since he was a prominent attorney from a long line of prominent attorneys, it had not been an easy battle. Still, despite all his slick tactics, all his demands, all his legal maneuvers, she’d refused to bend. 

When something mattered, when it was important, she fought to keep what had been given to her and her alone. 

Timothy had argued harder and longer for the ownership of the cabin in Montana—the cabin she’d inherited from her uncle—than he did over signing away any and all claim to their daughter. 

Walking out of the attorney’s office, she smiled for the first time in months. A dark limo waited at the curb. The driver nodded as he opened the door, offering a hand to assist her inside the luxurious interior. 

“You didn’t have to do this.” 

“Of course, I did.” Londyn Fitzgerald, her college roommate, wildly popular fantasy author, and Avery’s only constant friend, waved a hand. “What’s the point of being famous—and very, very rich—if I can’t do something for my best friend?” 

“He never even asked about her.” 

Londyn blew out a long breath as the driver pulled into traffic. “He never deserved sweet Brenna,” she said, naming Avery’s three-year-old daughter. “Or you.” 

“Well, now he doesn’t have either one of us.” She turned to peer through the smoke-tinted window. “I’m going to Montana.” 

“What? Why?” 

“It’ll be good for me and Brenna to have a fresh start.” 

“Come to New York.” 

“I love you for offering, but I feel like I owe it to Uncle Alex to use his cabin.” She looked at Londyn. “Maybe I’m just being stubborn. Maybe I’m going simply because Timothy fought so hard to take it from me.” 

“Can’t you just picture him, sitting there in one of his three-piece suits, in a hunting cabin?” Both women chuckled. “I’m sorry, Av,” she said. “But what the hell did you ever see in him?” 

“I was lonely. He saw that and used it for his own purposes.” She frowned. “I won’t let something like that happen again,” she promised. 

“And you think Montana is the place to start again?” 

She shrugged. “I won’t know if I don’t go.” A store sign caught her eye, and she pointed at it. 

“The Christmas sales start earlier and earlier,” Londyn commented. 

“In Montana I can give Brenna a traditional Christmas with a real tree, snow, and the magic of Santa. And maybe it’ll restore my faith in joy and goodness.” 

“Christmas shopping in New York could do that.” 

Avery laughed, wrapped an arm around her friend’s shoulder. “I’ll call you every week,” she promised. 

It took time. She packed up and shipped out the few items she wanted to keep, along with giving her new contractor time to complete necessary renovations to the cabin before they moved in. Londyn, as only an understanding and the best of friends would do, postponed returning to New York and completing the final installment of her fantasy series to provide moral support. The day Avery dropped off Londyn at the airport, she and Brenna began their cross-country trip. 

She took her time driving. After all, a three-year-old could only stand sitting in a car seat for so long. She constantly talked to Brenna, warding off fatigue or restlessness until they stopped, either to run off energy or take in sights along the way. 

They stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast in Tennessee, then toured the Kentucky Derby Museum. Brenna squealed with delight while Avery got nauseous at the top of the Arch in St. Louis. Londyn laughed when Avery told her about the experience later that night during their weekly phone call. When road construction got in the way, she changed routes. Crossing into Montana, beneath an eye-searing blue sky where she spotted her first eagle, the vast landscape ranged from rugged mountains, already topped with snow, to dense evergreen forests and more lakes than she’d imagined. 

Impatient to get to her new home, she skipped a drive through Yellowstone. “We’ll come back,” she promised Brenna, who played with the stuffed moose she’d become infatuated with at a truck stop. 

She took time to stop in the town of Burton Springs and pick up some basic groceries before heading to the cabin. People nodded in that friendly smalltown way she’d come across once or twice during her travels. This time, however, it felt different. These would be her neighbors. Still, she rushed through her purchases and headed out, following the directions. 

At the end of a long gravel road, she braked to a stop, shut down the engine and stared through the windshield, taking it all in. A hundred yards away was the cabin that held warm memories of an uncle who had welcomed her in the summers, given her the attention and love she’d so rarely known from her parents. 

“Mama,” Brenna cried from the back seat. “Out.” 

“Home,” she corrected her daughter. “We’re home.” 

“YOUR UNCLE WAS a heck of an outdoorsman, but a lousy housekeeper,” Harley Barker said as he signed his name to the final document. 

She’d arrived in Burton Springs two days ago and was now taking care of official business. Harley Barker, her uncle’s attorney, was the first stop. “Whenever I visited Uncle Alex, I always felt like I was going on a treasure hunt,” Avery recalled, thankful that the happy memories were starting to replace her guilt for having neglected him for so long. “I would find a bird’s nest, an old arrowhead, a collection of elk antlers, a turtle shell he used as a bowl to hold rocks and nuts, and, once, a bear claw.” 

“The place is cleaned and updated for you now.” 

“I appreciate you taking care of everything,” she said. The attorney had been helpful in so many ways since he’d informed her of her uncle’s passing fourteen months earlier. 

“I’m obliged to tell you I’ve been approached by someone to inquire if you might be interested in selling your property.” 

“No, I’m not.” 

“A hundred acres of land is a big responsibility for a young woman.” 

She smiled slightly. “You mean a young woman who’s lived her entire life in a city in Georgia?” 

He paused, glancing at the corner where Brenna talked toddler gibberish to a collection of stuffed animals. “I mean a single mother with a young daughter.” 

The reminder that she, and she alone, was responsible for her daughter’s welfare could have depressed her if it hadn’t been true since the day Brenna was born. Her ex-husband hadn’t attempted to hide his disappointment at being told he had a daughter instead of a son. His loss, she thought now as she watched Brenna put the stuffed animals in a basket, then laugh when she tipped it over so they spilled out. His very great loss. 

“I appreciate your concern, Mr. Barker.” 

“Harley,” he reminded her. “It’s a generous offer, one that could give you and your daughter a comfortable life.” 

“You know how hard I had to fight to keep this property.” He nodded. “I have fond memories of the summers I spent here with Uncle Alex. I’m not going to dishonor his legacy by selling it off before the ink is dry on the deed.” 

“Do you have any idea what you’re going to do with the land?” 

“No, and to be honest, I’m not entirely sure I’ll stay in Montana beyond Christmas.” She pointed at the wall calendar a month shy of turning the page to November. “But I am looking forward to spending the holidays here.” 

“The town does it up right. There’ll be plenty for you to do and see.” 

“I look forward to it.” 

Harley stood and offered his hand. “If you need anything, you know where to find me.” 

AVERY WAS USED to the stares. Although she had arrived seven weeks earlier, people in this small and close-knit community still looked at her as if she was a stranger rather than their newest neighbor. The bulk of those seven weeks she’d spent in the cabin, setting up house, acclimating herself and Brenna to their new surroundings. She’d had work deadlines to meet—she was just starting out as a graphic designer and knew that she had a reputation to keep up—and, she smiled a little, she’d also spent considerable time shopping for winter wardrobes. 

Today, however, the stares were for a little girl who was fussy and tired. Avery knew she was blessed with a child who willingly went down for naps. The problem today was, with Thanksgiving two days away–she’d spotted some businesses already starting on their Christmas decorations—Avery had needed to run errands. And they’d taken longer than she’d anticipated. She wouldn’t be preparing a traditional feast, or contacting a caterer to serve it for her ex-husband’s family and associates, but she did want to make the day as special for her and Brenna as she could. 

She glanced down into her cart. Most of the other shoppers had full ones, with the traditional turkey, stuffing, and other assorted items for big family gatherings. Tossed in with their discarded coats, her cart held a box of Breanna’s preferred macaroni and cheese and a frozen lasagna for herself. Along with a nice bottle of wine. 

“Brenna . . .” Avery rubbed a thumb on her daughter’s palm, a gesture that, since birth, always calmed her. Her eyes, green like her father’s, were heavy with fatigue and her full bottom lip, inherited from her mother, trembled against the urge to cry. “Okay, sweetie, we’re going.” It would mean a trip back to the store tomorrow, when it was likely to be a madhouse, but she would manage. 

“Uh, oh. Looks like someone missed their nap.” 

Avery watched as a man leaned down to smile at Brenna. “I know just how you feel, sweetheart. I get cranky myself if I don’t get enough sleep.” 

Maybe it was a small town, but Avery didn’t like the idea of a stranger being so close to her daughter. She unhooked the safety strap and lifted Brenna out of the seat . . .then gasped in surprise when Brenna flung herself into the man’s arms. 

“I’m sorry,” Avery said, reaching for Brenna. 

“No problem. Well,” he said, smiling as he leaned back when Brenna reached out for the brim of his caramel-colored cowboy hat. “Maybe one. Sorry sweetheart, but no woman, no matter how cute, gets her hands on my hat.” He removed it and tossed it into Avery’s cart. 

“She doesn’t usually go to strangers,” Avery said, nervously. 

“Then let me introduce myself. I’m Judson, Judson Ford. I own the New Horizon Ranch.” 

“’Udson.” Brenna said, earning a chuckle from him. 

He pointed a finger at Avery. “And who’s this lovely lady?” 


Maybe because this man held her precious daughter so carefully, charming her by making funny faces and earning delighted giggles, Avery couldn’t dismiss him outright, as she’d easily been able to do with every man who’d crossed her path in the past year. Still, she wouldn’t let down her guard either. 

Then, over her daughter’s head, his eyes locked with hers. She felt a shock, an intense streak of fire, race down her spine. She had no idea what had caused it, had no idea why she’d felt it. All she knew was it wasn’t entirely sexual in nature. 

“I was sorry to hear about Alex Mitchell’s death.” 

“Did you know him?” 

“Our paths crossed from time to time, since his property borders mine.” He paused. “Since it’s yours now, that makes us neighbors.” 

“I’ll keep that in mind in case I need a cup of sugar.” 

“That and a few other basics are about all I have in my kitchen.” 

Avery glanced down at her cart. “Maybe I should pick up some sugar to have on hand.” She smiled at Brenna. “And for when I make Christmas c-o-o-k-i-e-s.” 

“That doesn’t look like much of a Thanksgiving feast.” 

Heat rose on her cheeks. “Brenna’s too young to have turkey, and it hardly seemed worth the effort to cook for one,” Avery said. 

“Can’t blame you there.” 

Avery watched Judson’s gaze move over her shoulder and warmth softened the dark color of his eyes. 

“Audra,” he said, pleasure evident in his voice. 

Avery turned, surprised to find a woman pushing a cart. Inside it were two young boys, and another holding onto the cart handle. All three children were currently entertained with toy cars and action figures. 

“Hello, Judson. I’m surprised to find you here.” 

“Audra Montgomery, this is Avery McClain. She’s the new owner of the property next to mind.” 

“Oh, you’re Alex Mitchell’s niece. I didn’t know him, but I’ve heard good things about him. Welcome to Burton Springs.” Her features softened as she studied Brenna, who now had her head lowered to Judson’s shoulder. “What a beautiful little girl you have.” She sighed and stroked a hand over the small bump of her belly before reaching over to snag the car her three boys fought over. It took only a single look to stop the arguing. “I’ll be outnumbered five to one come July.” 

“Carter’s a lucky man,” Judson said. 

“No,” Audra corrected him, smiling at her three boys. “I’m the lucky one.” 

“Audra and Carter got engaged on Thanksgiving,” Judson said. “Since then, it’s become a tradition for them to open their house to whoever wants to come.” 

“Please join us,” Audra said. She nodded at Judson, a gesture of acceptance of what he’d been suggesting. “If you don’t, I’ll worry all day about you being alone.” 

“That’s very kind of you, and I appreciate the invitation. Really. But Brenna and I will be fine.” She hesitated. “We’re used to being alone. And, as you can see, she likes her nap time.” 

“You talk funny.” 

“Bradley,” Audra gasped with embarrassment. 

“Well, she does. I didn’t say she sounds bad.” The boy standing at the handle hunched his shoulders. “It’s kind of like music.” 

Avery leaned forward and tapped a fingertip to his nose, when what she really wanted to do was sweep him into her arms. “That, kind sir, is just about the nicest thing anyone’s ever said to me.” 

“Hey,” Judson protested. “Are you trying to steal away my reputation as the most eligible man in town?” 

“No, sir. You’re not ‘pose to steal. Aunt Kendall will arrest you if you do.” 

“My sister-in-law,” Audra said with a chuckle. “Is a deputy sheriff.” 

“Don’t pay any attention to him. He’s just jealous because you’re so sweet,” Avery said, grinning when the two other brothers made kissing noises. She straightened, looked at Audra, then gave in. If she wanted to become part of the community, she needed to participate. “What can I bring?” 

“Nothing this year. It’s your first time, and we always have plenty.” 

“Enough for me to take home a leftover dish?” Judson asked. 

“Or two,” Audra agreed. She brushed a hand over Bradley’s hair. 

“Really, I can’t come empty-handed.” 

“A bottle of wine?” She looked at the boys. “Maybe something special for the kids?” 

The boys piped up with their favorites and Audra gave Avery her address before she led the boys away to complete their shopping. 

“I’ll take her now,” Avery said to Judson, holding out her arms, only to realize Brenna had fallen asleep. 

“You don’t want to wake her when she just fell asleep, do you?” 

“And you want to hold her?” 

“It’s called being a good neighbor.” 

Avery gave in and selected two additional bottles of wine, along with a bouquet of flowers for Audra, before picking out the drinks the boys had mentioned. Standing behind her as she paid for her purchases, Judson Ford kept up a conversation with the clerk, who bounced curious glances between him and Avery. When her transaction was complete, and her bags stored in the cart, she turned to Judson. 

“I’ve got her.” 

“But it’s cold outside,” Avery protested, holding up Brenna’s coat. 

“I’ll keep her warm.” 

Rather than make a scene in the front of the store, Avery said nothing and turned to push the cart toward her vehicle. 

“This time next year, you won’t even need a coat,” Judson said beside her. She looked over to find him studying her. 

“It’s a long way from Georgia. Or is it Alabama? Tennessee, maybe? C’mon,” he said when Avery looked at him. “Even before Bradley said anything, you knew we could all hear the magnolias in your voice. Or is it peaches?” 

“Peaches,” she confirmed as her lips twitched. “Atlanta to be specific.” Using her key fob, she opened the rear hatch of her SUV and unlocked the doors before turning to him. She had the added feature of the engine starting, and therefore the heater going as well. “I’ll get her strapped in the car seat if you don’t mind putting the bags in the back.” 

She had a hand slipped between Brenna’s body and his chest when she froze. It was, she realized, the first time she’d had to make this kind of transfer. Brenna’s father had never held his daughter, not even as an infant. 

“Are you okay?” 

She nodded, completing the transfer. But she held Brenna close a moment, before moving to place her in the car seat. It was nice to have an extra pair of hands, someone to take care of the groceries while she settled Brenna. “Thank you,” she said sincerely when he came to her door. 

“What time should I pick you up on Thanksgiving?” 

“I appreciate the offer, but I’d rather drive myself,” she said, clicking her seatbelt in place. “I need to do some work that morning, and if I have my own car, I can leave if Brenna gets cranky.” 

He stepped back. “Okay. See you then.” 

Hours later, after dinner, bath, and cuddle time with Brenna before she fell asleep, Avery poured a glass of wine and thought back over the day. A part of her questioned how she’d allowed herself to be railroaded into spending Thanksgiving Day with strangers but another part of her had been warmed by the invitation. Besides, how could she deny the sweetness of having a small boy tell her that she sounded like music when she talked? 

There’d been little sweet about Judson Ford. Oh, he’d been charming, but there’d also been a sharpness and intensity beneath that public layer. It reminded her, painfully, of why she was in Montana. She recalled Thomas’ pursuit of her back when they’d been dating. At the time, it had been flattering to be the center of his attention. 

Then again, Judson had made no effort to change her mind when she insisted on driving to the Montgomery ranch on Thanksgiving. 

She roamed the central room, with an unobstructed view of the eating area and kitchen. The master bedroom and bath were on the other side of the cabin, with two remaining bedrooms, split by a bathroom, lining the rear of the house. A wide deck, now covered in a foot of snow, extended the front length of the house and would be a great place to sit outside in warmer months. Maybe she’d speak to Jessica Thorne, the woman who’d handled the renovations, about building a swing set for Brenna. And a rocker for herself. 

It was a far different, more updated version of the house she’d stayed in while visiting her uncle. But the house had just been somewhere to be when they couldn’t be outdoors. She’d had a different freedom here than at home. There had been so much to explore and discover. Uncle Alex had shown limitless patience as he taught her about the environment and respect for the wildlife. 

He'd laughed with delight when she’d caught her first fish, had beamed with satisfaction when he taught her how to select and cut a thick branch to make into a hiking stick. She recalled the two of them sitting on the back porch, juice running down their chins from the first freshly picked tomato they’d grown together. He’d never been too busy to answer questions or explain something to her. He’d given her the attention her own parents had been too interested in their careers to offer. 

She vowed Brenna would never doubt her mother’s love. 

Taking her wine with her, she went into the bedroom she’d set up as an office. She’d take her mind off disappointments, heartache, and the surprising attraction to Judson Ford by concentrating on work. If she succeeded in winning the graphic design contract for a national cookie company, it could make all the difference in the world for her and Brenna. Not only would it give her more financial security, but it would ensure she could keep working from home and always be available for Brenna. 

Whether home ended up being here or somewhere else was a question to be answered later. 

An author of passionate, emotional romances with heart, Pam loves crafting stories about independent women and men who discover the thrill and joy of falling in love. After years of moving as both an Army Brat and corporate wife, Pam and her craftsman husband settled in Atlanta, close to family and friends. When not writing, Pam enjoys quilting, planting beautiful flowers, home improvement projects and spending time with her wonderful family.

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Friday, November 24, 2023



Dear Friends,

Moving into holiday expectations and—I hope—fond memories, cooler weather, ans family gatherings. What’s your wish for the holidays?

Have you ever thrown a coin into a fountain or wishing well and made a wish? If so, did your wish come true? Sometimes our wishes come true, but with unexpected complications. That’s what happened to Serena Winter in WINTER’S WISH, the e-book now on sale for only 99¢ through December 1st.


New cover!

Here’s the description for WINTER’S WISH:

None of the eligible men in the town of Hopeful, Colorado appeals to Serena Winter. Working at the mercantile owned by her aunt and uncle, she meets everyone in town. Her aunt warns her against falling for a prospector as they always leave town in the spring. One full moon, Serena quietly leaves her aunt’s home and drops a coin into the town wishing well. Her wish was she would attract an interesting man. She should have been more careful about wording her wish.

Brent Adams has filed on his claim and brought gold ore with him to the assay office in Hopeful. He fears taking it to an assayer closer to his mine will attract claim jumpers and robbers. He’s immediately charmed by Serena. Now he has a new fear—incurring her anger when she learns the secrets he’s withholding.

When Serena is lost in freezing weather, Brent frantically searches for her. If he can find her in time, can they reconcile their differences and find lasting love?

WINTER’S WISH is a sweet western historical romance available from Amazon in e-boo and print, and is free in Kindle Unlimited. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Whiskey on Our Shoes by Tonya Preece



When the attention-avoiding daughter of a celebrity couple and a Texas cowboy college student with his own troubles fall hard for each other, they must face their truths together or be torn apart by a media storm.

Whiskey on Our Shoes

by Tonya Preece

Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance 

Eva dodges the fans, media, and gossip that follow her supermodel mom and rock star family members by wearing disguises. After an aimless gap year, she struggles to figure out what she wants from life. She moves in with her famous guitar god brother in Austin while he recovers from a drunken stage stunt accident and tries to stay sober. When a hot Texas cowboy named Alex takes Eva by surprise, she risks her safety and security of anonymity by letting him into her unconventional life.

Alex is captivated by Eva and promises to protect her privacy. Yet he has a secret of his own—the fling he had with an older woman is fraught with scandalous potential for him and now Eva. He broke free of that mistake months ago, or so he thought. As things heat up with Eva, his old flame returns and won’t leave him alone.

Just when Alex thinks he has the reins on the situation, his ex teams up with a gossip reporter hell-bent on invading Eva’s privacy. The resulting exposé, with a sly spin on a recent encounter with his ex, is Alex’s worst nightmare, and Eva’s unsure what to believe. Can she face the world with Alex at her side or will she return into hiding?

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Checking that the wig hides all my blonde hair, I ask Mom, “Who am I today?”  

Her head whips around, and she gasps. “I almost forgot. How about…Bella?”  

“Works for me.” I slide on a pair of oversized sunglasses, and she puts on a floppy, wide-brimmed hat.  

She’s told me before how being spotted in public doesn’t concern her unless there’s a chance of me getting drawn into the attention. On the few occasions I’ve shown up in snapshots with the celebs in our family, I looked slightly different each time, thanks to various disguises. And in those rare photos, I’m in the background, facing away from the camera. 

Managers and salespeople create a subtle barrier between us and other shoppers, but my goal is to be invisible to them as well. Not so easy when they give us the royal treatment behind the scenes. I trust they won’t take pictures or video, but a lot of my energy’s spent pretending to be someone else. I’m rusty at avoiding curious stares. It’s more exhausting than I remembered.  

As Mom browses from display to display, I find it easier to stay engrossed in a game on my phone. Staring at the screen, my face is shielded by the tresses of the brunette wig.  

“Earth to Bella.” Mom waves a hand in front of my eyes. “Isn’t it cute?”  

I glance at the summer dress she’s holding. “Yeah, it’s nice,” I say, and my gaze falls right back to my phone. She must not notice my lack of excitement and moves on to another dress, chattering non-stop.  

“Ooh, Bella, check this out.” “Hey, Bella, I could see you in this.” “Bella, do you like this dress?” She won’t stop, and I have an absurd sense of not being me anymore. How the hell should I know what Bella likes?  

The next time Mom calls me Bella, I wince and squeeze my eyes shut.  

“Are you okay?” Mom touches my arm.  

“I’m not feeling well.” I press my fingers to my temples.  

She guides me into a curtained dressing room. “Try not to puke or faint or anything.” She lingers by the entry, eying me warily. “Are you good now?”  

“I will be. You should keep shopping. I just need a minute.” I sit on a bench in the small space.  

“Maybe you’re dehydrated. I’ll have someone bring you a drink.”  

I close my eyes and lean on the wall, craving the freedom I’ve enjoyed without Mom.  

My heart sinks, though. I love Mom, and I’ve missed her, but is this what Lor means when he talks about me finding independence?  

“Excuse me, miss, are you Bella?” someone says.  

I open the curtain. There’s a lady, mid-twenties, offering me a bottle of water. Grateful, I take it, and she has an eager, starstruck look in her eyes.  

“It must be cool to hang out with Sloane Silver, huh? How do you know her?”  

“She’s a friend of my mom’s.” I take a long, cold drink.  

“Wow, where’re you from?”  

Cornered, I mutter the first thing to pop into my head. “I’m from Budapest.”  

Her eyebrows rise, probably from disbelief since I don’t have an accent.  

Oops. I stand. Time to leave.  

The lady moves aside, and Mom’s standing there, the color drained from her face. She stares in my direction, her eyes glazed over.  

I approach her. “What’s wrong?”  

She startles and snaps out of whatever made her look like she’d seen a ghost. “Oh, nothing.” Her gaze flits to the lady. “We’re good here. Thanks for your help.”  

The lady makes herself scarce as Mom shoos me back into the dressing room and closes the curtain.  

“Eva, what made you think of…that place?” Mom whispers.  

“What place? Oh, Budapest?” I shrug. “It came to mind because of the postcard. The one in Lor’s living room.” I note the clenching of her jaw as she turns away. “Does the postcard mean something? When I asked Lor, he wouldn’t say.”  

“If he didn’t tell you, it must be private.” She faces me again, with a tight smile. “You’ve hardly shopped for yourself today, and I want to buy you something. Try these on.” She hangs the dresses she’s holding on a hook in the dressing room.  

I absentmindedly flip through them, waiting for her to leave before I strip.  

“Ev—Bella,” she whispers. “Why are you checking price tags?”  

I shrug. “I guess it helps me decide if something’s worth it or not.”  

“Worth it?” She eyes me, head to toe, like I’m a stranger. And I do feel strange. Maybe she doesn’t know me anymore. Do I even know myself?  

Tonya Preece writes romance and contemporary young adult fiction and incorporates music into all her books in one way or another. She lives near Austin, TX where she’s a small business manager for a forensic engineering firm. She and her husband enjoy traveling, live music, wine, and spoiling their fur babies.

As an active SCBWI member since 2015, Tonya has volunteered for several conferences and has served as a critique group facilitator. She joined the Writer’s League of Texas and The Author’s Guild in 2021. She served as the 2022 WriteOnCon Financial Administrator and Critique Boutique Coordinator.

Tonya’s 2022 debut, Whiskey on Our Shoes, was selected for the 2019 #WriteMentor program. One of her YA novels, CLOSER TO THE FLAME, earned her a 2020 scholarship/mentorship with Austin SCBWI and was a finalist at the 2018 Houston SCBWI conference.

An avid consumer of written stories, Tonya reads and/or listens to an average of 75 books a year. Some of her favorite YA authors include Jeff Zentner, Julie Buxbaum, Sarah Dessen, and Robin Benway. In adult romance – Kate Clayborn, Christina Lauren, Helena Hunting, Emily Henry, and Abby Jimenez. Series she tries to keep up to date on: Rhys Bowen’s Royal Spyness and Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum. Recent mainstream faves are Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens and Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid.

Five Fun Facts about Tonya that aren’t reading or writing related:

1. She volunteers at a local food pantry, where she’s enjoyed serving weekly since 2017.

2. Her travel bucket list includes Italy, Ireland, and Bora Bora. Australia would be awesome, too!

3. She loves ziplining, indoor skydiving, and rollercoasters.

4. She’s a fan of bands like With Confidence, Broadside, All Time Low, State Champs, Sleeping with Sirens, and As It Is.

5. 5. In her free time, she can be found indulging a jigsaw puzzle habit and/or binging shows like Outer Banks, Never Have I Ever, Downton Abbey, Bridgerton, Good Girls, Veronica Mars, and iZombie.

Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

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Friday, November 17, 2023


By Caroline Clemmons


Moving into Fall brings expectations and refreshes memories of changing leaves, chrysanthemums, cooler weather, family gatherings, and certain foods—what folks call “comfort” foods. I’ll include a couple of recipes later in this newsletter.

Have you ever thrown a coin into a fountain or wishing well and made a wish? If so, did your wish come true? When I was writing this blog, I discovered there are dozens of sites online that sell special wishing well coins (most of them plastic). You can even rent a wishing well for a party. 

Sometimes our wishes come true, but with unexpected complications. That’s what happened to Serena Winter in WINTER’S WISH, now on sale for only 99¢ through Thanksgiving Day.


Here’s the description for WINTER’S WISH:

None of the eligible men in the town of Hopeful, Colorado appeals to Serena Winter. Working at the mercantile owned by her aunt and uncle, she meets everyone in town. Her aunt warns her against falling for a prospector as they always leave town in the spring. One full moon, Serena quietly leaves her aunt’s home and drops a coin into the town wishing well. Her wish was she would attract an interesting man. She should have been more careful about wording her wish.

Brent Adams has filed on his claim and brought gold ore with him to the assay office in Hopeful. He fears taking it to an assayer closer to his mine will attract claim jumpers and robbers. He’s immediately charmed by Serena. Now he has a new fear—incurring her anger when she learns the secrets he’s withholding.

When Serena is lost in freezing weather, Brent frantically searches for her. If he can find her in time, can they reconcile their differences and find lasting love?

WINTER’S WISH is a sweet western historical romance available from Amazon in e-boo and print, and is free in Kindle Unlimited. 


Thank you for encouraging me and for reading my books. Your friendship means the world to me. As Lester Holt says at the end of the evening news, "Stay safe and be kind to each other.” Kindness is powerful!

Wednesday, November 15, 2023

Rebellion's Fire Book 1: Last Flame of Alba by Mary Lancaster

Rebellion's Fire 
Book 1:  Last Flame of Alba
by Mary Lancaster

Book Blurb:

“The MacHeths are coming!”

By 1156, Malcolm MacHeth, one time Earl of Ross, languishes a prisoner in Roxburgh Castle while his rampaging sons raise rebellion in his name. Optimistically, the King of Scots promises the earldom of Ross to landless Norman knight, Sir William de Lanson, if he can somehow defeat the infamous MacHeths.

It wasn’t quite how William’s disgraced wife Christian dreamed of coming home. Capture by the strange and ferocious Adam MacHeth was hardly part of her plan either, although she and William quickly become pawns in his.

Adam, warrior and seer, fights for his father’s freedom and for his family’s right to claim the kingdom of the Scots. Plagued by waking dreams which threaten his sanity and his life, he’s learned to use his prophecies to further his family’s goals. But when he abducts his enemy’s lady, his dreams and his desires are suddenly more personal.

Surrounded by intrigue, ambition and betrayal, Christian must choose between loyalty and love in order to keep a fragile peace for her people and for the man she loves beyond life.

Read Free in Kindle Unlimited!

Last Flame of Alba
Book1: Rebellion’s Fire
Book 2: A Constant Blaze
Book 3: Burning Embers

*Note: Rebellion's Fire was previously published as Rebel of Ross. This second edition contains new material for readers to enjoy.


I enjoyed this historical romance.  While there was plenty of violence and plunder, it wasn't the usual Highlander book.  Adam will be violent and ruthless when necessary, but truly cares about people, especially his people.  He will do anything to care for them, even when it places him in danger.  I was drawn onward in the book almost against my will.  The book ends happily, of course.  I don't read books that don't end happily.  I recommend this book to curl up with for an afternoon in front of the fire.


Monday, November 13, 2023

Finding the End Zone by Tam DeRudder Jackson



It started as fun and games. Now I’m playing for her heart—and my own. 

Finding the End Zone

Game Time Series Book 1

by Tam DeRudder Jackson

Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance

Never date a player.

Football god Callahan O’Reilly can keep his blazing blue eyes to himself. I have a scholarship to maintain, and I do not have time to babysit a jock through a make-or-break class project. Even if one smoldering glance from him sets my panties on fire.

Time to change her mind.

Jamaica Winslow opens her mouth and spews sass like a volcano. One look at her uptight package and I want to coax the genie from the bottle, unleash all the passion she hides beneath a mop of unruly curls and a smart-ass attitude. She’s not my type, she doesn’t know one damn thing about the game that rules my life, and I can’t stop thinking about her.

Who said anything about love?

Jamaica does her best to keep me at arm’s length, but I’m not a pro prospect because I let the plays come to me. With the game on the line, I always want the ball. When an alum with deep pockets and delusions of grandeur makes demands that threaten my NFL chances and Jamaica’s scholarship, I have no choice but to man up and do the right thing no matter the cost.

It started as fun and games. Now I’m playing for her heart—and my own.

Game Time.

**Only .99cents!**

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Tam DeRudder Jackson is the author of the paranormal romance Talisman Series and the contemporary romance Balefire Series. Her favorite “room” in her house is her patio where she dreams up stories of romance and risk. When she’s not writing her latest paranormal or contemporary romance, you can find her driving around in her convertible or carving turns on the slopes of the local ski hill. The mom of two grown sons, Tam likes to travel, attend rock concerts, watch football and soccer, and visit old car shows with her husband. She lives in the mountains of northwest Wyoming where she spends most of her free time trying to read all the books. Her TBR piles are threatening to take over her office, and she’s fine with that.

Website * Facebook * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

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