Happy April!

This month’s name comes from the Latin “aperire” which means “to open.” An appropriate choice for a time of revival after a cold winter season.

Here are 10 interesting facts about April:

1. Originally the month had only 29 days. A 30th day was added when Julius Caesar established the Julian calendar.

2. During April, birds migrate north and smaller animals come out of their burrows.

3. The month’s birthstone is the diamond, a stone well-known for its longevity, strength, and beauty.

4. There are two birth flowers for April: the daisy and the sweet pea. The sweet pea signifies bliss and pleasure while daisies represent childhood innocence, loyalty, and purity.

5. People born between April 1 and April 19 fall under the sign of Aries, and those born later in the months are under Taurus. Aries are seen as passionate and independent trailblazers while Taureans are often ambitious and trustworthy.

6. Famous people born in April include Sir Alec Guinness (April 2), Marlon Brando (April 3), Bette Davis (April 5), William Wordsmith (April 7), Loretta Lynn (April 14), Leonardo DaVinci (April 15), Queen Elizabeth (April 21), and William Shakespeare (April 23).

7. After a 1500-year break, the first Olympics of the modern era took place on April 16, 1896 in Athens, Greece.

8. One of the most well-known dates of the month is April Fools’ Day. Some believe the date was inspired by Geoffrey Chaucer’s story, “Nun’s Priest Tale,” in Canterbury Tales. The whole month celebrates comedy: April is National Humor Month.

9. April has also been designated as Alcohol Awareness Month, Financial Literacy Month, National Autism Awareness Month, National Parkinson’s Awareness Month, National Volunteer Month, and Stress Awareness Month.

10. Earth Day is celebrated on April 22. Other April observances include National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day (April 2), National No Housework Day (April 7), National Hug Your Dog Day (April 10), National Garlic Day (April 19), and International Jazz Day (April 30).

Honoring Madeleine Albright

A woman of great passion and intelligence, Madeleine Albright served as the first female Secretary of State in American history. During her tenure (1997- 2001), she worked to advance human rights, curb nuclear weapons, enlarge NATO, and mend Arab-Israeli relations. A fierce advocate for democracy, she received many awards and accolades, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Madeleine Albright passed away yesterday (March 23, 2022) at the age of 84.

My favorite quotations from Madeleine Alright:

It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.

Our collective experience has shown that when women have the power to make their own choices, good things happen.

I have very set and consistent principles, but I am flexible on tactics.

I was taught to strive not because there were any guarantees of success but because the act of striving is in itself the only way to keep faith with life.

Whatever the job you are asked to do at whatever level, do a good job because your reputation is your résumé.

There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.

The difference between humans and other mammals is that we know how to accessorize.

The best book, like the best speech, will do it all—make us laugh, think, cry and cheer—preferably in that order.

History is written backwards but lived forwards.

The real question is: Who has the responsibility to uphold human rights? The answer to that is: Everyone.

Beyond Spilled Milk

Today is National Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milk Day, a day set aside to move beyond past disappointments and setbacks.

In its oldest form, the proverb was “No weeping for shed milk,” first coined by James Howell in 1659. While the proverb has evolved, it still retains its original intent: One cannot change what is done and crying over it serves no purpose.

Here are my Go-To quotations whenever I encounter setbacks:

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream. Aristotle

When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in. Kristin Armstrong

Life is all about setbacks. A life lived without disappointment is a life lived in a cocoon. People have recovered from far worse setbacks. Tony Clark

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time. Thomas Edison

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.
Martin Luther King

The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, the size of your dream, and how you handle disappointment along the way. Robert Kiyosaki

What do you do when disappointment comes? When it weighs on you like a rock, you can either let it press you down until you become discouraged, even devastated, or you can use it as a stepping-stone to better things. Joyce Meyer

The beauty is that through disappointment you can gain clarity, and with clarity comes conviction and true originality. Conan O’Brien

You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don’t try.
Beverly Sills

Disappointment to a noble soul is what cold water is to burning metal; it strengthens, tempers, intensifies, but never destroys it. Eliza Tabor

Do you have a Go-To quotation? Please share in the comments.

Ten Favorite Travel Destinations

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Margot Johnson. Today, Margot shares her favorite travel destinations and her new release, Let it Melt.

Here’s Margot!

Let it Melt is book Two in the Merilee Tours series.

Merilee reinvents her boring life by launching a tour business which leads to fun adventures and surprising romance. In Let it Snowball, she takes her guests to bakeries in three different towns to sample Christmas cookies. In Let it Melt, she hosts a Valentine’s Sweetheart Tour to a country restaurant and to a café in another town for dessert.

Merilee’s tours are based around the fictional town of Goldview, Saskatchewan, the Canadian prairie province where I live. Like Merilee, I love to visit different places whether close to home or farther afield.

Here are ten of my favorite travel destinations, many of them in SK, Canada’s sunniest province!

1. Moose Jaw, SK – a city with a small-town feel, I set my first book, Love Takes Flight, there. Legend has it that Al Capone hid out in tunnels under the city, and it has a great mineral spa for a relaxing soak.

2. Waskesiu, SK – This touristy town sits on the shores of a lake in Prince Albert National Park in northern Saskatchewan. Our family visits every year to breathe the fresh, pine-scented air, hang out at the beach, and watch for wildlife. Elk often cruise the town, and you might see a bear along the road.

3. Madge Lake, SK – Another beautiful lake setting in Saskatchewan where our family has started an annual holiday tradition.

4. Eastend, SK – This small town is best known for the nearby discovery of a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton nicknamed “Scotty” in 1994. We stayed in a country cottage and had fun exploring the area.

5. Niagara Falls & Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario – The falls and scenery are amazing, and the area is full of tourist attractions, historic sites, and quaint shops.

6. Quebec City – My daughters and I holidayed there and soaked up some history, sampled poutine, and practiced our French.

7. Prince Edward Island – I only made a short stop there partway through a business trip, but I’d love to return. It’s the setting for the Anne of Green Gables books, and it boasts distinctive, red soil.

8. New York City – Rick and I honeymooned there, and I’ll never forget the excitement of attending Wicked and Jersey Boys on Broadway and seeing all the famous sights in person.

9. Disney World, Florida – Because who doesn’t love nonstop fun—with or without kids.

10. Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico – There’s no better place to escape winter than this peaceful area with its beautiful beaches and perfect weather. I can’t wait to book tickets when it’s safe to travel.

Blurb

How on earth did Jill, a single divorcee, land on a romantic Valentine’s Sweetheart Tour for couples? Worse, she’s paired with Jack, her daughter’s brash father-in-law, and everyone thinks he’s her valentine. Stranded in a Canadian prairie blizzard, how soon can she kiss this awkward evening goodbye?

Long divorced, Jack would love to charm Jill with his toned body and dynamic personality, but his wisecracks and obsession with fitness get in the way—especially when he nabs a post at the same school where she teaches.

Even the most romantic month of the year can’t melt their differences and sweeten Jill’s feelings…or can it?

Read/Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Goodreads

Author Bio and Links

Margot Johnson writes feel-good stories of dreams, family, and romance.

She is the author of two sweet romance novels, LOVE TAKES FLIGHT and LOVE LEADS THE WAY, and two novellas, LET IT SNOWBALL and LET IT MELT. Her characters can’t possibly find their happy endings…or can they?

Before turning her focus to the fun writing life, Margot held leadership roles in human resources and communications. Her motto is “Dream big and work hard.”

When not writing, she loves to connect with family and friends, volunteer with SK Writers Guild, and walk at least 10,000 steps a day (except when it’s minus 40!)

Margot lives in the Canadian prairies with her amazing husband and adorable golden retriever.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

My Favorite Cozy Mysteries

I’m happy to welcome award-winning author Nancy Raven Smith. Today, Nancy shares her favorite cozy mysteries and new release, Bushwacked in the Outback.

Here’s Nancy!

While I enjoy many mystery genres, this is a list of my favorite cozy mystery series. Some are old, some are new, and the list is in no particular order. It’s in no particular order. Things that I enjoy most in cozies are well written original characters, unusual locations, humor, suspense, adventure, and the unexpected. And of course, my top ten list should probably be my top fifty to include all the ones I truly enjoy. I hope you’ll discover a series that you’re not familiar with and enjoy it, too. Everyone has their own list of authors whose work they enjoy. Please share your favorite cozies. I’d love to discover some new ones.

1. Agatha Raisin Mysteries by M.C. Beaton

Agatha is a former ad agency owner, now retired to her dream cottage in a small English village. She’s quirky, unintentionally funny, and on the hunt for a man. She soon learns her imagined idyllic life has barnacles attached – including unfriendly villagers and dead bodies. I’ll never forget Beating About The Bush where Agatha defends Wizz Wazz the donkey and becomes a national celebrity.

Sadly M.C. Beaton passed in 2019. R.W. Green will continue the series.

2. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries by Kerry Greenwood

Phryne is rich, elegant and smart. With her pearl handled pistol and the help of her family, adopted and otherwise, she stops injustice wherever she sees it. The stories take place in 1920s Australia, but Phryne is not boxed in by the usual conventions of her time.

3. Miss Fortune Mystery Series by Jana DeLeon

Fortune is a CIA assassin hiding in Sinful, Louisiana from an international arms dealer. But living in a small, southern, bayou town, pretending to be a librarian may be her hardest assignment yet. When bones show up in her yard, as well as two old ladies, she’s suddenly embroiled in a local mystery. And it turns out there’s more to the old ladies than she expected. Will her cover get blown?

4. The Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries by Heather Haven

Lee Alvarez is the lead P.I. for her family’s detective agency located in Silicon Valley, CA. It’s called Discretionary Inquiries and it deals mainly with the theft of intellectual property and computer software with an occasional murder thrown in here and there. Each family member has his or her own special talent that makes the agency work. Like any family, each one also has their flaws and quirks.

5. Country Club Murders by Julie Mulhern
Ellison Russell has a problem. She’s a body magnet. She even swims into dead bodies at her Country Club pool. She also has to deal with a rebellious teenaged daughter, an over bearing mother, and a suspicious new detective. Her husband’s multiple affairs don’t help. Neither does the fact that she’s also a target for killers who are unsure of what she knows.

6. Poppy Field’s Adventures by Julie Mulhern

Poppy’s Mexican beach vacation is the start of her crazy new life when she’s abducted by a drug lord. She’s not prepared to rise to the occasion. She’s a rich, fashionista, with a movie-star mother, 84 million Instagram followers, and paparazzi following her every move. She has no obvious talent other than a gift for picking clothes and accessories.

Now her life has turned into one of her mother’s movies, but with real bullets and bad guys. Will she be able to survive?

7. Patricia Fisher Mystery Adventures by Steve Higgs

Discovering her husband’s affair sends middle-aged Patricia off the deep end. She empties her husband’s bank account and signs on to an around the world cruise ship that’s departing immediately. Unfortunately, she’s quickly thrown in the middle of a murder investigation where she’s the main suspect. Did she jump out of one bad situation and into a worse one? Can she solve the murder and save herself with the help of the new friends she’s made on board?

8. Murder on Maui Series – Robert W. Stephens

Edgar Allan “Poe” Rutherford has lost his job and his girl. He heads to Maui, where he’s looking forward to a vacation with an old friend. When a murder is blamed on his friend, Poe is determined to solve the mystery. He not only manages to save his friend, but he discovers two new loves – Maui and Detective Alana Hu.

9. Chloe Jackson Sea Glass Saloon Mystery Series by Sherry Harris

Most of us know Sherry Harris as the author of the popular Garage Sale Mysteries, but she has a new series with protagonist Chloe Jackson, a former Chicago librarian. Chloe is fulfilling a promise to help her late boyfriend’s grandmother run the Sea Glass Saloon located in the Florida Panhandle town of Emerald Cove. Turns out the location is the target of land developers and vacationers. Chloe loves her new life pouring beers and mixing cocktails at the Saloon. It’s just that the grandmother and the residents aren’t what she was expecting.

10. Chet and Bernie Mysteries by Spencer Quinn

Author Spencer Quinn had me at his titles. Who can resist Dog On It, To Fetch A Thief, Scents and Sensibility, Tender Is The Bite, or It’s A Wonderful Woof? The original, funny mysteries told through Chet, the dog’s, POV don’t disappoint either.

Blurb

“If you can’t follow the money, follow the body.”

Lexi loves her job as a Beverly Hills bank fraud investigator. It lets her pursue scam artists and con men – known in the business as land sharks.

Sadly, one crook left her with a broken heart and a destroyed reputation. And the bank’s president is looking for any excuse to fire her.

Yet she risks everything when she follows a dead embezzler’s casket to Coober Pedy in the Australian outback. She knows it’s a gamble, but it’s her last hope to recover the bank’s stolen money. Unfortunately, she’s persona non grata in that country. She needs to get in, find the money, and get out before the Australian police discover her presence. But will the unexpected appearance of an ex-lover make her linger too long?

If you like cozy mysteries in exotic locations with deadly secrets and touches of humor, then you’ll enjoy the multi award winning Land Sharks Cozy Mystery series.

Buy Links

Amazon (US) | Amazon (CA) | Amazon (UK) | Amazon (AU)

Author Bio and Links

Nancy Raven Smith grew up in Virginia, where she ran and participated in horse sport events. On their farm, she rescued horses, dogs, and cats and is an advocate for animal rescue. Later in California, she traded her event experience for film work. Her screenplays and novels have won numerous major awards. When not writing, Raven Smith enjoys her family and friends, travel, art, movies, and white-water rafting. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, and Women in Film.

Website | Facebook | The Reluctant Farmer of Whimsey Hill

Happy National Cut Your Energy Costs Day!

Today is National Cut Your Energy Costs Day, a day set aside to re-examine our daily habits and improve the overall efficiency of our lives.

Here are ten easy-to-implement tips:

1. Use daylight as much as possible. Remember, it’s free, and it doesn’t pollute.

2. Turn off all lights, even if you leave a room for a few minutes.

3. Switch all light bulbs to CFLs—the curly-looking ones. While they are more expensive, they can last up to ten times longer than the traditional incandescent bulbs.

4. Turn the heat down one degree in the winter, and set the air conditioner one degree higher in the summer. You probably won’t notice and could easily go up/down an extra degree or two.

5. Use the refrigerator wisely. Decide what you want before you open the door, clean the coils periodically with a vacuum cleaner, don’t set the temperature any colder than necessary, and keep it full.

6. Eliminate vampire power. When televisions, computers, DVD players, microwave ovens, and appliances are turned off, they continue to suck the energy out of the wall and out of your wallet. Where possible, use smart power strips with on/off switches that can be turned off when you are away for an extended period.

7. Unplug the charger as soon as your digital device is charged. When plugged in, a charger continues to draw energy.

8. Turn the water off while brushing your teeth or shaving. On average, a faucet can use anywhere from one to three gallons (four to eight litres) per minute. If you take the dentist-recommended two minutes, twice a day, that could add up to 12 gallons a day—4,380 gallons a year. Note: Newer faucets tend to have lower flow rates than older ones.

9. Fix those leaks. In North America, the average household leaks nearly 10,000 gallons of water each year…a staggering amount of money literally pouring down the drain.

10. Wait until you have a full load of laundry before using the washing machine. Half loads use twice as much water. Consider setting the temperature to warm rather than hot. This cleans just as well and uses half the energy.

Any more tips to share?

Honoring Betty White

Betty White passed away on Friday, less than three weeks away from celebrating her 100th birthday. Actress, comedienne, author, and animal rights activist, she is one of Hollywood’s most beloved icons. Best known for her roles in The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Golden Girls, Ms. White had a television career that spanned more than eight decades. In the 2014 edition of “Guinness World Records” she was certified as the longest ever female entertainer.

My favorite quotations from Betty White:

Butterflies are like women — we may look pretty and delicate, but baby, we can fly through a hurricane.

In my head, I’m the ultimate cougar. Animal lover that I am.

I just make it my business to get along with people so I can have fun. It’s that simple.

The older you get, the better you get. Unless you’re a banana.

Retirement is not in my vocabulary. They aren’t going to get rid of me that way.

You don’t fall off the planet once you pass a given age. You don’t lose any of your sense of humor. You don’t lose any of your zest for life, or your lust for life.

I know it sounds corny, but I try to see the funny side and the upside, not the downside. I get bored with people who complain about this or that. It’s such a waste of time.

Everybody needs a passion. That’s what keeps life interesting. If you live without passion, you can go through life without leaving any footprints.

It’s your outlook on life that counts. If you take yourself lightly and don’t take yourself too seriously, pretty soon you can find the humor in our everyday lives. And sometimes it can be a lifesaver.

I have no regrets at all. None. I consider myself to be the luckiest old broad on two feet.

My 10 Most Embarrassing Moments, in No Particular Order

I’m happy to welcome back Wild Rose Press author Kimberly Baer. Today, Kimberly shares ten embarrassing moments and her new release, Snowdrop Dream, Cherry Thumbprint Screams.

I’ve lived long enough that I’ve had plenty of opportunities to embarrass myself. Here are ten such instances—though I can assure you, there are lots more where these came from. (Maybe if I get these off my chest, they’ll cease to turn my face red when I think back on them.)

1. All those times I responded to somebody who was waving at/smiling at/talking to me, only to realize they were actually waving at/smiling at/talking to somebody else.

2. During a beach trip with friends, I was frolicking in the ocean when a particularly forceful wave hit me. When I emerged, my friends started shrieking with laughter. That wave had undone my bikini top, and it was wrapped around my neck! Several nearby strangers got an unexpected show.

3. I used to work at an insurance claims office. Ken, one of our agents, would often speak in goofy voices when he called. One day I answered the phone, and a strange, slurred voice said, “Zis ze surance company?” Figuring Ken was up to his usual shenanigans, I said, “You are so weird!” There was a stunned silence, during which I realized the caller wasn’t Ken after all. It was a customer! I was so mortified, I put the guy on hold and made one of my coworkers take the call.

4. During a luncheon at my workplace, I was trying to cut my chicken breast with the flimsy plastic utensils we’d been given. The knife slipped and the chicken went flying—straight onto the plate of the lady sitting next to me. Silence prevailed for a long moment as everyone at our table stared at the errant chicken breast. Sheepishly, I stabbed it with my plastic fork and took it back, mumbling apologies.

5. When a friend and I were eighteen, we left our respective churches and started going to a new church together. Week after week, for unknown reasons, we would start giggling—silently, but with enough force to shake the whole pew—during the quietest part of the service. Despite the dirty looks we got, we just couldn’t stop.

6. When I was about fifteen, I thought the word vagina was pronounced “va-jeena.” (I mean, it has the name “Gina” in it, right?) I even got my friends saying it that way. I was pretty embarrassed when somebody finally set me straight.

7. I fell onstage while performing in a high school play. I was supposed to walk offstage, trailed by another character. But because of a mix-up, we weren’t standing in our assigned spots, and in an unprecedented ad lib, she grabbed me by the wrist and yanked me forward. My feet got tangled in my long gown, and down I went. Can you imagine being sixteen and taking a graceless tumble in front of an audience of hundreds? I would rather have fallen through the stage than on it.

8. Then there was the time I… Wait, no; that one is just too embarrassing to write about! Sorry!

9. As I was leaving a big-box store with two gallons of custom-mixed paint, one of the containers slipped out of my hand. When it hit the floor, the lid flew off, and a whole gallon of pink paint spilled across the floor, splattering the legs of nearby shoppers. If you were in the store that day and heard, “Cleanup at the main entrance!”—that was me.

10. At age fourteen, I had a major crush on seventeen-year-old Mike. One night my best friend and I went to his house and told his mom a crazy, made-up story: a strange man had tried to lure us into his car. She called Mike to come drive us home—which (bwa-ha-ha!) had been my plan all along. Years later, I ran into Mike, and we started dating. I confessed that I’d had a crush on him in high school and had made up the attempted-kidnapping story because I wanted to see him. Turned out he already knew and always had. I was mortified—not for my current self, who, after all, had gotten the guy of her dreams in the end, but for fourteen-year-old me, who, OMG, would have died, just died, if she’d known Mike knew she was into him. (Side note: The teenage crush depicted via flashbacks in Snowdrop Dreams, Cherry Thumbprint Screams is based heavily on my real-life crush on Mike. I’ve even included the fake kidnapping incident.)

Blurb

When Annie Barkley discovers a boy living in the attic of her cookie shop, she’s stunned—and oddly elated. She can almost believe the universe is giving her back the infant son she lost eleven years ago.

Annie senses that something bad happened to the boy, but he won’t talk. All she knows is that he’s terrified of being found. When her long-ago crush, police captain Sam Stern, stops by to inquire about a missing boy, Annie says she hasn’t seen him.

Big mistake. Because that lie might cost her more than a romance with Sam. It also leaves her vulnerable to a ruthless pursuer, one who’s determined to silence the boy for good.

Excerpt

The days passed in a blur of bliss and apprehension. Annie rushed home from work each day, half afraid the boy wouldn’t be there. But he always was. One afternoon he surprised her by making a lettuce and tomato salad to go with dinner. Another day he ran the vacuum. In the evenings the two of them watched sitcoms or played video games.

Before she knew it, a whole week had gone by. Then another. She still hadn’t contacted the authorities. She’d expected the boy to be talking by now, but he was clinging to silence, resolute as a monk.

Cookie Heaven was closed on Thanksgiving. Annie declined several dinner invitations, including Jessica’s. She made an elaborate turkey dinner, knowing there’d be far too many leftovers. In the end, there wasn’t as much as she’d expected, because Jonah ate like a pig.

She was cheered to see him eating so heartily. Relieved that he was starting to fill out. Proud that she was giving him the things he needed—nourishment, love, a warm bed in a safe, comfortable home.

At the same time, she was aware of all the things she wasn’t providing. Like education. Jonah should have been in school. He needed friends to hang out with. He should have been playing sports, getting exercise. He was living a stunted life—but there was no way around that right now.

She took the day after Thanksgiving off. After lunch, while the aging dishwasher rumbled and gushed and clattered, she and Jonah adjourned to the living room to play a video game. When Jonah made a mistake that cost him a life, he let out a wail of anguish.

“Ah,” said Annie. “So you do have vocal cords.”

Jonah shot her a look that said he got sarcasm and didn’t appreciate it.
A sound from outside startled them—the crunch of tires on gravel. “Who on Earth could that be?” said Annie.

Jonah’s game controller clattered to the coffee table. He slunk across the living room, as if sneaking up on somebody. As he approached the picture window, he halted. And then a rich, young voice rippled across the living room.

“It’s the police, Annie! The police are here. Help me, please!”

Outside, a car door slammed. Jonah whirled toward her, his face as stricken as it had been the night she’d caught him in the cookie shop. “Don’t tell them about me—please! Cause if you do, they’ll put me in jail!”

Pre-order here

Social media links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Goodreads

Virtual Book Tour: The House on Crow Mountain

I’m happy to welcome author Rebecca Lee Smith. Today, Rebecca shares fascinating facts about crows and her new release, The House on Crow Mountain.

Ten Fascinating Facts About Crows

1. A group of three or more crows is called a Murder.

2. Crows can recognize human faces. (Researchers had to disguise themselves by wearing rubber face masks to keep the crows from considering them their enemies.)

3. Crows have the same brain-to-body ratio as a chimpanzee, which makes them one of the smartest birds in the world.

4. American crows use scraps of food as bait to catch fish.

5. Crows have funerals. Not only to mourn, but to find out what killed their fellow crow, then they band together and chase the predator.

6. They make and use tools (usually some kind of twig) to dig insects out of sidewalk cracks for food.

7. Crows build decoy nests if they think another predator bird is watching them.

8. They enjoy playing games while flying. (Tag, maybe?)

9. American crows like to party. They will stand on anthills and rub the ants into their feathers, which causes them to get drunk from the formic acid.

10. Crows can live up to fourteen years. (And I bet they have fun doing it.)

Blurb

When her aunt suffers a stroke, New York portrait artist Emory Austen returns home to the North Carolina mountains to mend fences and deal with the guilt over her husband’s senseless death. But that won’t be as easy as she hoped.

Someone in the quirky little town doesn’t like Emory. Is it the sexy architect who needs the Austen land to redeem himself? The untrustworthy matriarch? The grudge-bearing local bad boy? Or the teenage bombshell who has raised snooping to an art form? Even the local evangelist has something to hide. Who wrote the cryptic note warning her to “Give it back or you’ll be dead?” And what is ‘it’? As the clues pile up and secrets are exposed, Emory must discover what her family has that someone would kill for.

Excerpt

Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.

“Fat chance of that.” I glanced up from the tiny sticker someone had stuck to the dashboard of my rental car and focused on the narrow winding road. I’d kept the little Ford Fiesta ten miles under the speed limit all the way in from the airport, and the drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains had still been one mini-adrenaline rush after another.

I pulled into a foggy scenic overlook, bemoaning the fact there was zero cell service, and grabbed the map I’d picked up at the North Carolina Welcome Center. I reached for the bag of candy I used to keep myself calm and selected a dark chocolate square, perilously warm from sitting too near the heating vent. With two miles and six switchbacks to go, I risked the inevitable mess it would cause and tore the foil open with my teeth.

One single drop of dark raspberry chocolate dripped onto the center of the map. One tiny dark red dot. Just like the one that had been sitting in the middle of Kent’s forehead when the coroner rolled him over on his back.

I shoved the memory out of my head—something I had gotten decidedly better at in the last two months—and tossed the map on the seat.

It had been a long day.

And it was about to get longer.

Buy Links

Amazon | Barnes and Noble | Kobo

Author Bio and Links

Rebecca lives with her husband and a dog named Wilbur in the beautiful, misty mountains of East Tennessee, where the people are charming, soulful, and just a little bit crazy. She’s been everything from a tax collector to a stay-at-home-mom to an award-winning professional actor and director. She loves to travel the world (pre-pandemic) because it makes coming home so sweet. Her Southern roots and the affectionate appreciation she has for the rural towns she lives near inspire the settings and characters she writes about.

Website | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

Rebecca Lee Smith will be awarding a $25 Amazon/Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour. Find out more here.

Follow Rebecca on the rest of her Goddess Fish tour here.

10 Life Lessons from Jarrett Brandt, the Hero from A Hero’s Heart

I’m happy to welcome back multi-published author, Amber Daulton. Today, Amber shares ten life lessons learned by the protagonist of her latest release, A Hero’s Heart.

Here’s Amber!

DEA Special Agent Jarrett Brandt has made a lot of mistakes in his life. Though he’s doing his best to move on and do better, what exactly has he learned?

1. Youth is wasted on the young. — His wild teenage years led him on a path of destruction, but…

2. Hitting rock bottom is a good thing. — Faced with prison time and a hard reality check, he finally realized what kind of man he wanted to be, and he was nowhere close to becoming it.

3. Redemption is hard but worth it. — He’s pushed down his regret for so long while ignoring his pain and plastering a smile on his face. Now it’s time to do what he fears most—make amends.

4. Pride isn’t everything. — For some men, it’s all they have. That’s true for Jarrett. But he needs so much more, so he casts aside his ego for what his heart truly desires.

5. Goodbye isn’t always forever. — He’d left home with no intention of returning, but fate has a will of its own.

6. True love never dies. — He’s only ever loved one woman, and it’s never too late to win her back.

7. Family is forever. — Though he and his overbearing father rarely get along, he learns the hard way that his dad loves him.

8. Enemies lurk around every corner. — As an undercover agent, he’s met a lot of unscrupulous people, but the most dangerous foes are often the ones pretending to be his friend.

9. Allies come from unexpected sources. — At the darkest hour, truths are revealed, and the friends he never knew he had stand with him.

10. Second chances are rare. — With love and family welcoming him with open arms, he finds the courage to accept it and becomes the man he always wanted to be.

Blurb

Lies. Betrayal. A million-dollar bounty.

After an undercover mission goes awry, DEA agent Jarrett Brandt hides out in the last place he wants to be—his hometown. Now he’s stuck with his judgmental parents and the memory of his perfect brother hanging over his head. His one bright light? Marissa Reinn Brandt—his high school sweetheart and former sister-in-law.

Marissa lost Jarrett once before. No way will she let him back in; then her son offers him their guestroom. His wicked charm and smoldering stares are hard to resist, but she’ll make him work to reclaim his spot in her bed.

When his enemies close in, how will Jarrett keep Marissa and her son safe, or will he lose his shot at redemption?

– Triggers: drug use (discussed) and a brief assault of the heroine
– A Hero’s Heart is a smoking hot second chance, romantic suspense novella. No cheating. HEA guaranteed.
– Second edition. Newly revised and edited.

Tagline

Rekindling the flames of love has never burned so hot.

Excerpt

“You can trust me, Jarrett. I won’t tell your parents anything you don’t want me to.” She sighed and stood as well. “You used to tell me everything. We never kept secrets.”

Jarrett paced between the coffee table and fireplace. “My parents’ opinion doesn’t matter. Dad would still throw up my juvie record or the fact that I’m not a cop, even if I was a model citizen. I’m not that lost, angry kid anymore. I know who I am now, and it’s not someone you’d want to know.”

“I disagree.”

“God, you don’t understand. Marissa, I’ve missed you so damn much. I’ve laid awake so many nights wondering what my life would’ve been like if I’d stayed here.” When he made love to other women, he imagined Marissa beneath him or above him, panting his name. When the nightmares of blood and gore faded, he dreamed of her. Those bittersweet memories and what if scenarios were almost worse than the nightmares. “I’ve done things I’m not proud of.”

“I hated you after you left, but I’ve gotten over it. Everyone feels regret and guilt over something. It’s all about being human.” She dashed away her tears. “I told you mine last night. Will you please show me the same courtesy?”

“I can’t.”

“At least tell me what you did last Christmas. Jason made it crystal clear that he didn’t want you alone. He wants you to have a tree.” She pointed at the Douglas fir. “Well, there you go. What did you do last year?”

Jarrett licked his dry lips, heat swelling in his cheeks.

He’d joined the Consuelo gang last December and spent the holiday in a slummy apartment with five thugs who sold cocaine on the streets of Albuquerque. Living around his drug of choice had nearly destroyed him.

“What about your last birthday?” Marissa blocked his path and braced her hands on her hips. “Did you have cake or go out with a bunch of buddies and get drunk? Did something horrible happen? Why won’t you tell me anything?”

He shoved a hand through his hair. “Damn it, Marissa. Yeah, I got drunk. A few of us went to a strip club where I fucked two dancers in a backroom. Is that what you wanted to hear?”

Her eyes widened as she stepped back.

Way to go, you fucking idiot. He brushed his shaky hands on his button-down shirt to steady them. “Marissa—”

She strode past him with a high head and left the room.

Her cold shoulder skewered him, but he didn’t deserve better.

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Purchase Links

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About the Author

Amber Daulton is the author of the romantic-suspense series Arresting Onyx and several standalone novellas. Her books are published through Daulton Publishing, The Wild Rose Press, and Books to Go Now, and are available in ebook, print on demand, audio, and foreign language formats.

She lives in North Carolina with her husband and demanding cats.

Universal link – https://linktr.ee/AmberDaulton