V: Venetian Masks #AtoZChallenge

Today, for ‘V’ in the A to Z Blog Challenge, Jillian Chantal takes sends us to an international world with a little suspense and a lot of love in her book, Venetian Masks.

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American oil painter Charlotte Bolling travels to Venice, Italy to study the architecture of the old city and paint. She meets Vincente Canaletto, an Italian man who owns a water taxi and gondola business. Charlotte ran away from home at age thirteen when her mother, who was a madam in a house of ill repute, offered Charlotte’s virginity to the highest bidder.

Vincente’s son was abducted and Vincente’s been on a quest to find him for years. When the boy is located by an investigator in Bangkok in a bordello, Charlotte insists on accompanying Vincente to the capital city in Thailand since she believes her own past will be invaluable in winning the child’s trust. They embark on a dangerous rescue mission in the back streets of that city.

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The next morning after having slept as if she were in a coma, Charlotte got up later than she’d planned. The jet lag had caught up to her and she overslept. She’d wanted to walk the city before dawn and get a feel for the morning light. She liked to observe and sketch for several days the areas she planned to capture on canvas. It helped to know when and where the sun rose and for Venice specifically, she wanted to know about what time the glints of morning sunlight would shimmer across the Grand Canal. That was the first thing she wanted to paint and she wanted to capture the exact right moment of sunrise.

She could hardly contain the excitement rising in her chest as she dressed for the day.

She tossed on a pair of khaki shorts and a blue shirt. She pulled her hair up in a knot and secured it with a large metal clip. She shoved some Euros and her room key in her pocket and slid on her shoes. Grabbing her sketchpad and a pack of charcoal pencils, she left her room and clattered down the stairs.

Once in the street, she turned left toward the coffee shop she’d seen on her trek across the city the day before with Guilia. She ordered a large black coffee to go along with a sugary cannoli. Breakfast had always been a grab it as you go affair for her even when she was a teen. She could count on less than one hand how many times she’d actually had a full sit-down morning meal in her life.

She took her little feast and went down to the harbor. She found a seat on the seawall and decided almost immediately that she needed to invest in one of the little stools that she’d seen other artists sitting on as they worked. She set her coffee down beside her on the concrete and studied the grouping of gondolas in front of her as she ate her cannoli.

When she swallowed the last bite, she sipped her coffee, then flipped open the sketchbook. Using the side of one of the pencils, she shaded an area that would become a few of the gondolas.

Engrossed in her work, she nearly leapt into the water when someone sat beside her and cleared his throat. As it was, her pencil skidded across the front of her drawing and left a mark.

She glared at the man beside her. “Look what you made me do.”

“Sorry. Surely you can fix it?”

“Surely that’s beside the point, isn’t it? It shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Why’d you have to sneak up on me anyway?”

“I wasn’t sneaking. I walked up like any other person. Can I help it if you’re so easily startled?” the water taxi driver from the day before swung his legs over the water.

“Aren’t you late for work? Or is today your day off?”

“Truth be known, I’m out here stalking former passengers to make sure they’re out of their rooms so I can go in and take all their property.” He winked.

“Oh good grief, you’re unbelievable.”

“Why? You’re the one who gave me the idea. A life of crime may be more lucrative than what I do now.”

“Do taxi drivers in Italy make very much?”

“Surely not as much as criminals, right?” 

 

You can buy Venetian Masks here.

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U: Unpredictable Love #AtoZChallenge

Today, for ‘U’ in the A to Z Blog Challenge, Jean Joachim joins us with an excerpt from her book, Unpredictable Love.

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Uh oh. Amber signed her sister’s name on a pen pal letter to a Marine. As usual, Jory Walker was stuck fixing her sister’s little white lie.

When letters poured in from SSGT Trent Stevens in Afghanistan, Jory had no choice but to correspond. Sure he’d be drooling over Amber’s bikini photo, thinking it was Jory. Since they’d never meet, what harm could it do if she sent him a few letters?

Would her charade boomerang replacing happiness with pain? What started off as an innocent ruse, morphed into a monstrous web of deceit. Maybe unpredictable love was destined to break her heart.

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Short excerpt:

Anger bubbled up inside her. She made a beeline for the house, only to collide with her sister.

“Amber! What the hell?” She waved the envelope in the young woman’s face.

“I just sent him one letter.”

“This is the fourth you’ve gotten from him. When are you going to write back?”

“It was a mistake…”

“You can say that again. Especially the part where you signed my name!”

“Laura was so convincing. I thought she meant one time. Only one letter.”

“She asked people to sign up to write to guys in the military. Not to write only one letter and include a lewd photo.”

“It wasn’t lewd, whatever that means. Just me in a bikini. I’m not good at writing. Much better at pictures.” Her beautiful, blonde sister, with a Miss America figure, grinned.

“And the reason you signed my name?”

“I always liked yours better. Besides, if he wanted another letter, I knew you’d write it for me. So, it might as well have your name on it.”

“Don’t give me that bullshit smile. I’m on to you. And the answer is ‘no.’” Jory shoved the envelope from T. Stevens into Amber’s hand.

“Please? Pleeeaassseee, Jory. You’re the writer. Not me.”

“That’s right. You’re the pretty sister, and I’m the smart one.”

Amber nodded. “I don’t mean it like that. You’re so much better than me.”

“Than I.”

“See?”

“No.”

 

Buy links:

Amazon

iTunes/Apple Books

T: Tramp’s Bride #AtoZChallenge

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Welcome to the 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge. During the month of April, Chrys N. Jay shares snippets from friend’s books, and takes a peek at love.

Today, for ‘T’, Kathleen Tighe Ball joins us with an excerpt from her book, Tramp’s Bride. Kathleen shares exciting news with us – she now has nine books in Amazon’s Top 100  Western books.

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Handsome Cowboy Tramp Hart left his home and friends over a year ago. He’s finally back to make amends and take his place on the ranch. That is until he walks into the house he designed and finds a woman living there. He needs a plan to get her out so he can move in.

Mail Order Bride Ilene Duffy traveled from New York City to Asherville, Texas only to find out her marriage contract was no longer valid. Rancher Cinders and his wife Shannon offer her an empty house on their land. Ilene has no intentions of getting married.

Join me in Asherville, Texas and watch Tramp’s antics as he tries one thing after another to get Ilene out of his house. Tramp had finally met his match.

Here’s an excerpt from Tramp’s Bride:

Urging Jack, his bay quarter horse, forward until they reached the spot he’d yearned for, Tramp Hart then pulled on the reins slowing his mount, to a stop. From his location on top of a hill, he could see the expanse of the ranch, a ranch he’d helped to build. He’d been gone over a year, and he wasn’t sure what type of reception would be waiting for him.

The ranch looked great. Better than great. There were plenty of cattle and a few more houses on the property. Cinders always seemed to have a magical touch with both horses and cattle.

Tramp felt bad the way their friendship had ended. He sure hoped he’d be able to mend fences. He needed to be home.

Taking a fortifying breath, he loosened the reins and pointed Jack in the direction of the main house. One of the new houses on the property was the design he and Cinders had planned for his home. He did own a quarter of the ranch and had been foreman until he’d left. A smile spread over his face. Cinders must have known he’d be back. But despite the smile, the lump in his throat remained.

He dismounted, tied Jack to the wood railing, and slowly walked up the steps to Cinders’ house. He hesitated before knocking taking a moment to close his eyes and hope he’d find himself welcomed. He knocked and waited but no one answered. In the old days he’d have just walked in but not now.

With hat in hand he walked across the yard to his house. He opened the front door and it surprised him to see it furnished. Cinders had always been a generous friend. He’d take a quick look around and then brush down Jack. Taking his hat off, he nodded, admiring the workmanship on the house. He walked farther inside and stopped short. There in the kitchen stood a willowy, dark-haired woman. She wore her hair up but a good amount of it had escaped, and a few enchanting ringlets hung down. She was busy making candles. He couldn’t help but notice how lovely she was.

She jerked her head up and her mouth formed an O. “Listen mister, I don’t want any trouble with you. I have a shotgun and I ain’t afraid to use it.”

Tramp peered around and didn’t see a gun let alone a shotgun. “What are you doing in my house?” he asked annoyed at the way she stared at him.

“Your house? I think you have the wrong idea cowboy. The bunkhouse is just to the left of my house. So, if you don’t mind, I have to finish dipping these here candles and hang them to dry. Good day.” She went back to her candles making him feel as welcome as a polecat at a picnic.

He ran his fingers through his hair and frowned. “I do believe there’s been some type of mistake made. This is my house—”

“Nope, absolutely not. Now please leave.” She hung the candles she was working on to dry and the next thing he knew, he was looking down the barrel of a shotgun. “Git!”

He instantly put his hands up. “Listen Miss— Heck, I didn’t get your name. I’ll just leave you be until Cinders comes back.”

“It’s Ilene, Ilene Duffy”

“I’m Tramp.” He saw a spark of recognition in her eyes. “See ya around.” Offering a polite nod, he turned and walked back to the door, grabbing his hat on the way out. Perhaps Cinders hadn’t wanted him to come back after all. He’d half expected it, but still his heart dropped.

The last year had been spent soul searching and mourning his friendship with Cinders. They’d grown up together and they’d always had each other’s back until Charlotte. She was the prettiest gal this side of the Mississippi and he had loved her with everything within him. He tried to be happy for Cinders and Charlotte when they wed. Heck, he was even the best man. Some best man.

Once his betrayal became known, he couldn’t face Cinders anymore and he’d lit out. It ripped out his heart and his soul. He never realized how much his friendship with Cinders meant to him. Charlotte’s grave was over yonder under a big cottonwood. He never could bring himself to visit it.

He’d known he was taking a chance coming back but he wasn’t ready for the disappointment that coursed through him. He ambled over to Jack and untied the reins. “Looks like we’re going to have to go on for a few more hours.” He patted Jack’s neck.

 

S: Say It #AtoZChallenge

true loveIn True Love: How to Make Your Relationship Sweeter, Deeper and More Passionate, Daphne Rose Kingma offers more than 60 inspiring and illuminating suggestions to help you expand the possibilities of your own true love.
Three of the suggestions in the book deal with the words from our mouths. Kigma recommends that we:

Say What You Feel
Say Please, and
Say Thank You.

 

On ‘Say What You Feel,’ she writes:

“Revealing these emotional tides to the person you love is a way for you to continue to endear yourself to and amaze your partner. We often think that intimacy is created merely by falling in love or by what we do, plan, buy, or pursue together. But it is actually the getting to know another person through the intricate texture of his or her emotions that makes us feel truly connected.”

On ‘Say Please,’ she shares:

“Saying ‘Please’ is a way of always holding your beloved in high regard, of treating him or her as a person who still-and always-deserves to be approached with the graciousness that good manners confer. It’s like polishing the silver. It gives the depth of reflection and kindness to your love, the lustre of graciousness to even the most familiar gestures.”

On ‘Say Thank You,’ she says:

“It’s all too easy, in any relationship, to become (internally at least) a whining, complaining grump who feels as if the other person has never done, and will never do, anything nice or special for you. Saying “Thank You” dispels this feeling of hopelessness and creates an internal attitude of optimism. A pathway is formed in our minds which in time becomes a thoroughfare; the belief that we have been treated with generosity and goodness of heart, that we have, if you will, been loved, begins to take root in our consciousness.”

R: Roster Addition

Welcome to the 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge. During the month of April, Chrys N. Jay shares snippets from friend’s books, and takes a peek at love.

Today, for ‘R’, V.L. Locey joins us with an excerpt from her book, Roster Addition.

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Veikko Aho, Wildcats star goalie, and his wife Liz are about to add a new player to their family roster. The open adoption of Maggie and Derrick’s granddaughter will help to heal the gaping hole infertility has left in the Aho’s life. Finally, that huge mansion on the Main Line will hear the sweet laughter of a child. 

But the birth that the Aho’s are so looking forward too seems to be stirring up some anxiety and unspoken fears for the grandparents. As the seemingly endless night of labor drags on, power struggles that threaten to break up a long-standing friendship rise to the surface. Can both families put aside their petty differences or will this precious new Wildcat tear them apart?
Here’s an excerpt from Roster Addition:
“Veikko,” I softly said. “We’re adopting because we have so much love to give, and our own baby is going to take some time to get here.” He stared at me for the longest time, the blue of his eyes darkening just a bit.
“If we had a private room, I would lay you down and make love to you for that,” he told me, his voice husky with emotion.
“I think we could probably find a room that isn’t in use.” I slid my foot out of my little black flat and ran it up the side of his calf. His amazing icy blue eyes widened as a smile played on his lips.
“I thought we were here to support Ashley, not have a tryst in an empty hospital room.”
“Who’s to say we can’t do both?” I seductively inquired, or I hoped it sounded seductive. I usually wasn’t the aggressor in sexual matters. “Unless you’re not up for a tryst?”
“Oh, Piglet, I am surely up for a tryst. I’m just pleasantly shocked to hear you offering to engage in one.” He slowly stood up, giving me a quick peek at the front of his trousers before he drew his coat shut to hide the erection he now sported.
I pushed to my feet quickly, my heart thumping like mad inside my ribcage. I had never suggested something so wickedly erotic to Veikko before. I could feel a flush rising to my cheeks as he gathered up the huge pink teddy bear from its seat at his left. Whatever had happened to meek little Liz Argon? Who was this sexy woman who had boldly asked her husband to engage in naughty adventures in an empty hospital room? I had no clue who I had become, but as Veikko slid his hand into mine, I was damned glad this feisty new Liz had spoken up.
You can find Roster Addition here.

Q: Quintessential Love Thoughts

Q: Quintessential Love Thoughts

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How’s that for a title? Isn’t that a lot fancier than just ‘Quotes’? Besides, it uses a great ‘Q’ word, which I need for today’s post in the A to Z Blog Challenge. So, on that note…here we go…lots of great thoughts about a delicious subject…love.

“The greatest happiness of life is the conviction that we are loved; loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”

Victor Hugo

“I’m much more me when I’m with you.”

— (Unknown)

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.”

Helen Keller 

“I saw that you were perfect, and so I loved you. Then I saw that you were not perfect and I loved you even more.”

Angelita Lim

“I swear I couldn’t love you more than I do right now, and yet I know I will tomorrow.”

Leo Christopher

“If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.”

A. A. Milne

“I would rather spend one lifetime with you, than face all the ages of this world alone.”

Lord of The Rings

“If I know what love is, it is because of you.”

Herman Hesse

“I choose you. And I’ll choose you over and over and over. Without pause, without a doubt, in a heartbeat. I’ll keep choosing you.”

—(Unknown)

“I realized I was thinking of you, and I began to wonder how long you’d been on my mind. Then it occurred to me: Since I met you, you’ve never left.”

—(Unknown)

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.”

Lao-Tzu

“Thinking of you keeps me awake. Dreaming of you keeps me asleep. Being with you keeps me alive.”

—(Unknown)

“Love is an untamed force. When we try to control it, it destroys us. When we try to imprison it, it enslaves us. When we try to understand it, it leaves us feeling lost and confused.” 

―Paulo Coelho

“I wish I could turn back the clock. I’d find you sooner and love you longer.”

—(Unknown)

“I hope you know that every time I tell you to get home safe, stay warm, have a good day, or sleep well what I am really saying is I love you. I love you so damn much that it is starting to steal other words meanings.”

—Open-365

P: Personal Fouls

Welcome to the 2017 A to Z Blog Challenge. During the month of April, Chrys N. Jay shares snippets from friend’s books, and takes a peek at love.

Today, for ‘P’, Davee Jones joins us with Personal Fouls.

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Personal Fouls gets down into the thoughts of Marty, Eugene, and Rudy. From the first time Marty and Lola meet, make love, and find their relationship destroyed by secrets of her past, you will know where he stands. How will Marty get over losing the love of his life, knowing he will see her until he dies? Was helping Sharlyn live the decision putting him over the edge?

Eugene portrays the image of uncaring, social misfit detached from the frivolous antics of society. What no one knows is how deep the longing of human companionship dwells within his soul. When Prisha is ripped from his life, without explanation or good-bye, he fails to recover from her deep brown eyes and irresistible challenge. Will he ever find the courage to connect again?

Rudy fell from football superstar to forgotten paraplegic. Mourning the loss of his career is secondary to losing the ability to make love, father children, or play in the LockHim Room. Wanting his personal life back so badly, he’s willing to explore options putting him back in love’s game. But, is Lola the one he really wants? How will he know the difference between love and lust?

Personal Fouls – Amazon Davee Jones

Personal Fouls – Barnes and Noble Davee Jones

Personal Fouls – Smashwords Davee Jones

Personal Fouls – iTunes Davee Jones