In Dapper Carter’s 8 Rules of Dating, we met Dapper Carter, the philandering fool, on his fall from grace following his abrupt divorce from Kennedy Craig. Dapper develops eight authentic rules that help him navigate through the rigors of the dating world and eventually lead him to the girl of his dreams.

 In the first book he was trying to find love.  In the risqué Dapper Carter’s 5 Fatale` Flaws, he’s just looking for a good time, but he ends up finding himself. Dapper’s alchemistic odyssey intertwines with a revolving door of femmes fatales`. Through a multitude of meaningless encounters, Dapper realizes that he is the only person holding himself back and is urged to take an introspective look  to identify five reasons why he can’t seem to get out of his own way. Witness the rise and fall…and rise and fall… and rise of Dapper as he learns the five things every man should know about himself.



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********Mature Content beyond this point*******

 
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DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.

I wrote my first story when I was in high school—seventeen hand-written pages on school-ruled paper and an obvious rip-off of the last romance novel I read. I earned a degree in accounting, giving me some nice skills to earn a little money, but my passion has always been writing. I have written numerous short stories and more than a few full-length novels. My favorite pastimes when I’m not writing are spending time with my family, traveling, reading, and scrapbooking. I live in Louisiana with my husband and two children.

 

DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?

 

No. When I first started writing, it was for my own amusement. I didn’t begin to seriously write for publication until about ten years ago.

  

DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?

 

Well, kind of a mix. It was difficult to get my first publishing contract because I didn’t know what I was doing. Most of what I’ve learned about the art and craft of writing has come through trial and error and a lot of critical feedback, some of it from publisher’s who rejected my first submissions. Once I signed my first contract, things got a bit easier. My skills have steadily improved over time, and now that I’ve been published, I know what publishers are looking for in a manuscript.

 

DWED: Who or what would you say inspired Crisis of Identity”?

I was watching the coverage for Hurricane Ike that made landfall near Galveston, Texas. The news reporter said that Texas authorities had advised those who intended to ride the storm out to write their social security numbers on their arm just in case they needed to be identified after the storm. The premise jumped out of the news report at me. What if a fugitive used a hurricane as an excuse to highjack someone else’s identity?

 

   

DWED: How does Crisis of Identitystand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?

 

Although Crisis of Identity is suspense with a romantic element, the book is also about forgiveness, personal responsibility, and redemption. The main character develops more than just a romantic relationship with a man, does more than escape her past. In the act of rescuing her niece from a horrible life, she transforms from a selfish live-for-the-moment individual into a selfless woman who wants to nurture and protect another person. She grows and realizes that not everything is always about her.

    

DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for Crisis of Identity”?

 

I’ve received mixed reviews. Some people love the book and some people absolutely hate it.

Most people who like the book, adore Tess. The reviewers mention the fast pace of the book, the moments of humor, and the impulse to smack Tess for her stubbornness. Obviously some readers identify with the heroine. But… The book doesn’t give the reader a nice mushy happy ever after. Tess and Trevor leave the scene with a happy for now moment. The book ends with questions unanswered. This wasn’t sloppy writing or an oversight. The open ended feel of the book was intentional. The pivotal moment in the book isn’t when Tess finds “true” love or the mystery of the murder is resolved. Those elements are intentionally left without complete and tidy resolution. Life is messy. Tess’ life was really messed up before she rescued her niece. The final scene of this book was only the beginning of her journey into a new life. Her growth comes not from finding a man or solving a murder, but from evolving as a human being.

 

DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?

 

Yes. It’s taken many years to develop my own style. Each of my characters has to jump from the pages of my books with their own voice. Otherwise, all my characters would read alike. Not only is that redundant, but boring. I believe I’ve developed a narrative style than resonates in my books no matter the voice I’ve written for my characters. I hope that my faithful readers would recognize my style no matter which of my books they chose to read.

 

DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?

 

Forgiveness. I try to instill this message into everything I write. Life is too short and fragile to carry unforgiveness in one’s heart. Hatred, bitterness, anger. These things are the poison one sometimes swallows in an attempt to harm someone else. I want the positive effects of letting all that toxic emotion go come through by the end of the book.

 

DWED: Who is your favorite character in Crisis of Identityand why?

This is Tess’s story. She is one of my favorite characters that I’ve written. She’s smart, sassy, and strong. I wish I were as fearless as she is. She doesn’t shrink from a difficult situation, but uses her available resources to get herself out of jam. When confronted with her flaws, she resolves to change. She is no damsel in distress. She can handle just about anything.

DWED: Who is your least favorite character in Crisis of Identityand why?

 

Oh, no doubt, my least favorite character is Mark Padget. If there is anything worthwhile about this character, I failed to write it into him. What he tries to do to Tess is heinous. He is the ultimate in selfishness and greed. I wrote him with as ugly a heart as I possibly could.

 

DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?

The Wild Rose Press just rereleased two of my books, Deceptions of the Heart and An Impostor in Town. Deceptions of the Heart is about a woman who wakes up in someone else’s body. An Impostor in Town is the first book in the Colorado series. It’s about a woman who is hiding from her past by using her dead sister’s identity.

5 Prince Publishing will release my next book entitled The End in September 2013. The End is Ellie’s story. She discovers her husband’s nearly finished manuscript on his computer after his death. The suspense builds as she realizes his final manuscript was a true crime story.

I also have an upcoming release with The Wild Rose Press entitled Purgatory, the second book in the Colorado series. This book is a man who discovers his missing wife after five years. Unfortunately, the woman can’t remember him.

I just finished a manuscript entitled The Memory Catcher about a woman who can see other people’s guilty memories and I’m in the process of submitting this to publishers for consideration. My current work in progress is a ghost story set in south Louisiana with the working title The Unmistakable Scent of Gardenias. Yeah, this will be a busy summer and fall for me.

 

DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?

 

Don’t give up. Every rejection is one step closer to that first publishing contract. The first publisher who rejected my work gave me some solid advice. He suggested I attend a writer’s conference to sharpen my writing skills. Study the craft of writing. Read writing blogs and books. Attend seminars. One of the things that helped me was joining a writer’s critique site. Some of the reviewers on those sites can be vicious, but the feedback helps sharpen writing skills. You develop a base of knowledge about what readers don’t like. When you’re through with your manuscript, first hire an editor to polish it until it shines, then ask other writers to read it with both the eye of a writer and reader.

 

DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?

I’ve only just begun to write. Over the last ten years, my writing has developed and evolved. I truly believe my best work is yet to come. 

Synopsis:  Tess Copeland is an operator. Her motto? Necessity is the mother of a good a con. When Hurricane Irving slams into the Texas Gulf coast, Tess seizes the opportunity to escape her past by hijacking a dead woman’s life, but Shelby Coleman’s was the wrong identity to steal. And the cop that trails her? He’s a U.S. Marshall with the Fugitive Task Force for the northern district of Illinois. Tess left Chicago because the criminal justice system gave her no choice. Now she’s on the run from ghosts of misdeeds past—both hers and Shelby’s.

Enter Trevor Smith, a pseudo-cowboy from Houston, Texas, with good looks, a quick tongue, and testosterone poisoning. Will Tess succumb to his questionable charms and become his damsel in distress? She doesn’t have to faint at his feet—she’s capable of handling just about anything. But will she choose to let Trevor be the man? When Tess kidnaps her niece, her life changes. She must make some hard decisions. Does she trust the lawman that promises her redemption, or does she trust the cowboy that promises her nothing but himself?

Links:  

http://www.denisemoncrief.com/

http://www.amazon.com/Crisis-of-Identity-ebook/dp/B00B5L0I7S

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/crisis-of-identity-denise-moncrief/1114223396

Excerpt:

I dropped onto the cot at the far end of the locker room, struggling to remove the stained smock the state so generously provided. Forget about sleep; it wouldn’t come. I had too many memories that begged to become nightmares. I closed my eyes anyway.

The springs in the cot next to mine creaked. “I’m Jake.” Why had it taken him so long to introduce himself?

I released an internal sigh. “Tess.” I told the truth, because I had to say something and I was out of lies.

“Tough job.”

“Yeah.” I wanted him to shut up and leave me alone.

“Why would someone like you volunteer for this?”

I opened one eye and glared at him. “I didn’t volunteer. I was strongly encouraged to help. Why are you here?”

He hesitated. “I’m a U.S. Marshal. It’s my job. Part of the oath and all that.”

I opened the other eye and assessed him. “Why would you move here—” He smiled, cutting off my question. “I can tell from your accent you’re not from Texas.”

“I followed a fugitive here from Illinois.” He leaned forward, his knees not quite brushing mine. “She’s accused of murder.”

“Murder?”

“Stabbed her boyfriend…in the back…in cold blood.”

My reaction gushed from my mouth. “How can you be sure it was cold blood?” I sucked back a gasp at my gaffe. My question probably seemed strangely timed and oddly constructed. “I mean…it could have been self defense.”

He offered me a cold, hard stare with unblinking eyes. “I just know.”

“That’s…awful."

“I guess I followed my lead at the wrong time. I got trapped riding out the storm…just like you.”

“What makes you think I got trapped?”

“If you’d had any choice, you would have left.”

My brother Tony forced me to stay, but he left me. A storm surge so strong it pulled the house out from under us knocked him into the sea. The Gulf of Mexico spit me back onto the beach as if the ocean didn’t like the way I tasted.

I survived, but I had no time to grieve. The realization impaled my heart.

Jake stretched out on his cot. “There’s a boat out of here tomorrow. It’s taking volunteers back to the mainland.” Galveston was in ruins. The thin strips of concrete that once connected the island to civilization lay scattered on the beach looking somewhat like a child's building blocks.

“There is?” I tried not to appear too interested.

“You didn’t know?” A different question danced in his eyes—a challenge of sorts. “So how long have you lived in Galveston?”

“Not long. My brother found a job. So I moved here a few months ago to be with him.”

“Where’s your brother now?”

I blinked at him. “He’s gone.”

His stern countenance wavered, but before I could embrace his presumed compassion, his expression settled into severity once again. “Now you’ll have to start your life over…again.” His eyes captured mine. A shiver of dread slithered down my spine. It was as if he knew me, even though he didn’t seem to know me. “Are you going to sleep?” He nodded toward my pillow as if he didn’t think my conscience would allow rest.

“I never sleep.”

Within minutes, he emitted soft puffs of breath, in and out, obviously lacking any guilt to keep him awake.

The shadows lengthened and receded over the locker room, drifting in and out of the grimy, shattered windows as if the world was still revolving around its axis on schedule. But I was sure it had stopped turning. I was the fugitive he sought.

***

The unrepentant sunshine streamed through the cracks, jubilant in its victory over the storm. Only five days since the devastation of Hurricane Irving and the sun acted as if nothing had ever happened. I turned away from the brightness with an ill-tempered snort.

Jake caught up with me on the gym floor. “Did you get any sleep?” His question hit me as a trifle vindictive.

“No. But you did.”

“I snore.” He grinned. Then his smile faded. “I thought you’d be gone this morning.”

“Why? I have to finish the job.”

“That’s…admirable.”

The thought that pestered me all night erupted from my mouth. “What happens to that woman when you catch her?”

“She’ll go back to jail.” He stopped by the double doors and folded his arms over his chest, blocking my path. “Then she’ll go to trial.”

“What if she did what she had to do?”

“There was no evidence it was self defense.”

I stared hard at his implacable façade. How could the man be alternately warm and cold, compassionate and hard, flexible and unyielding? I stepped around him and entered the gym. There were already bodies lined up waiting for our initial inspection, so I began the task of collecting information from my column of the dead. The hours passed as I searched pockets and noted identifying characteristics on those with no papers or markings. I glanced toward the open door as two men begin loading the last group onto a waiting truck.

One more victim to notate. I squatted next to her. Even in partial decay, her features were enough like mine it pushed me back on my heels. I lifted her arm. My breath hitched. Her Social Security number was so nearly like mine. I scanned the gym. Jake, the one man who might care if she became me or I became her, was absent. With a few strokes of the pen, I could die and live again.

My heart pounded with the possibility I might get a chance to start over without the baggage of my past dragging me down. I changed her identity with a few swipes of a permanent marker. The number went onto my log with an unshaken hand, and I was free to escape the woman I used to be…the woman I didn’t want to be any longer.


 
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Excerpt:  “You think me daft, do you?” the girl in the refuse pile says. “You’re from the future.”

Living the last hour in a high-budget documentary has made me a time travel believer, so I’ll take her word for it.

“How do you know?”

“Boys always be from the future. What’s me name?”

“Yvaine?” I say.

Her smile is so genuine it startles me.

“There you go. I haven’t never heared that since I was a wee bit.”

I know how she feels even if I only mostly understand what she says.

“Help a lady up, Charlie.”

I take the hand she extends, pull her upright, then kick my feet into the dirty pair of shoes I took off when I ran after her. Her scruffy outline stands out with unnatural clarity.

This cinches it. I know how to spot the historically homeless!

Dad’s history books, all his lessons, swirl in my head. He totally knew! If us extra-in-focus-no-names are time travelers, and he and Sophie have been off visiting the Crusades or whenever, why’d they wait till right before the clockwork cop showed up before trying to tell me?

“Are you from the future too?” I ask.

“You know nothin’, dinna you?” Yvaine cuffs me on the arm. “Boys are from the future, girls are from the past.”

“Where? I mean when? And when is now?”

“Let’s cosy someplace warm.” She tugs me toward the alley entrance. “We’ll be lucky not t’catch cold.”

“That’s what my mother would say.”

“I’m not your mother.”



Synopsis: Untimed is an action-packed time travel novel by Andy Gavin, author of The Darkening Dream and creator of Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter.

Charlie's the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can't remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don't take him seriously. Still, this isn't all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there's this girl... Yvaine... another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine's got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history -- like accidentally let the founding father be killed -- they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.

Online Reviews

"A twisty-turny, swashbuckling adventure through time and history. I can't wait for the next book in the series!." -- R.J. Cavender

"What a super-engaging and exciting time travel romp!" -- Bookish Whimsy

"Like science class in Las Vegas!" -- Fantasy Literature

"Highly recommended to anyone who appreciates a well-written, suspenseful tale packed with colorful characters, witty dialogue, and interesting and well-researched settings." -- Amazon reviewer

DWED: First, tell us a little about yourself.

I’m an unstoppable storyteller who studied for his Ph.D. at M.I.T. and founded video game developer Naughty Dog, Inc. at the age of fifteen, serving as co-president for two decades. There I created, produced, and directed over a dozen video games, including the award winning and best selling Crash Bandicoot and Jak & Daxter franchises, selling over 40 million units worldwide. I sleep little, read novels and histories, watch media obsessively, travel, blog (a million hits last year!), and of course, write.

 

DWED: Have you always aspired to publish a novel?

I’m a lifelong creator and explorer of worlds. As far back as first grade I remember spending most of the school day in one day dream or another. I had a huge notebook stuffed with drawings, story bits, and concepts for an elaborate Sci-Fi/Fantasy world I cobbled together from bits of Star Wars, Narnia, and Battlestar Galactica. By fourth or fifth grade not only was I loosing myself in every fantasy or Sci-Fi novel I could, but I was building Dungeons & Dragons castles and caverns on paper. Then from 1980 on the computer.

Since third grade I’ve read rather obsessively, so I was naturally interested in writing. I began fairly seriously in ninth grade. In high school, I won several national literary awards for my short stories and I was an editor and contributor to our high school literary magazine. In college, despite being a diehard science guy, I took creative writing classes (sometimes I was the only guy) and submitted stories to Science Fiction and Fantasy magazines (not that they ever bought any!). I co-wrote the stories for many of my best selling video games. But video games aren’t as story driven as novels, so don’t judge these in the same light J.

 

DWED: Would you say the journey to publishing was easy or hard? Why?

I never do anything halfway. So in 2010 I read about 20 books on publishing and query writing and spent hundreds of hours researching and querying agents. But the return on time investment was horrible. You wait and wait and barely get any feedback at all. The process is entirely structured on the assumption that there are vast supplies of manuscripts and so the agents maximize their own time investment. If they miss some good ones because of it… there will always be more. And while this makes sense for them, it doesn’t for me.

And then I kept reading about publishing.

I’ve published dozens of projects myself (40+ million games sold!) and the overall process isn’t so dissimilar. Nor is the role of publisher. But as bad as game developer / publisher relations and contracts sometimes are… they are paradise compared to their literary equivalents. Book publishers prefer to preserve the status quo and monopolistic collusion over profits. They always offer the same basic deal and are not generally open to new structures.

Now indie-publishing isn’t necessarily easy or anything. For me, the production part was fairly straightforward after having done so many previous projects. I hired great contractors and the result looks fantastic. The book was line edited by two world class pros. Proofread extensively. Typeset by New York talent. The cover by award-winning fantasy artist Cliff Nielsen is gorgeous and looks every bit as good as the best New York books. The whole package appeals. When I ran a free day on Amazon it surged rapidly to number 4 on the whole Amazon store, number 2 in fiction, and sat there for nearly 24 hours. Reviews have been stellar too. But marketing in this new world of online publishing is a black art and very time consuming. For each thing I try that works, there are five that don’t.

DWED: Who or what would you say inspired Untimed”?

Typically, Untimed began from a fusion of ideas. Lingering in my mind for over twenty years was a time travel story about people from the future who fell “downtime” to relive exciting moments in history (until things go wrong). I worked out a time travel system but had no plot or characters. Separately, in 2010, as a break from editing The Darkening Dream, I experimented with new voice techniques, especially first person present. I also read various “competition.” One of these was The Lightning Thief (the first Percy Jackson novel), which has an amazing series concept (if a slightly limp execution).  I love mythology and history, and liked the notion of something with a rich body of material to mine. I wanted an open ended high concept that drew on my strengths, which brought me back to time travel.

Some of the mechanics from my earlier concept merged well with a younger protagonist, voiced in a visceral first person present style. I started thinking about it, and his voice popped into my head. I pounded out a chapter not too dissimilar from the first chapter of the final novel. Then the most awesome villain teleported into the situation. I can’t remember how or why, but it happened quickly and spontaneously. Tick-Tocks were born (or forged).

   

DWED: How does Untimedstand out? What does it offer and more importantly what can viewers find within it pages?

Untimed is aimed at anyone who likes a rip roaring adventure in the tradition of the great 80s adventure films like Raiders of the Lost Arc. I wanted a lightning paced romp that showed unfamiliar takes on familiar places, times, and people. Charlie is 15, but slightly younger readers will probably appreciate the action, and adult readers enjoy the well thought out time travel system and carefully worked historical implications. Charlie’s voice is frank and compelling, but light hearted with an edge, and I dance across serious themes without getting too heavy. It’s PG-13, no racier than today’s network teen shows.

One of my major agenda’s was to show the past in a fun but accurate manner. History doesn’t have to be boring, and while situations and society changes, people stay the same. People in the past are just as human, but things really have improved in many ways. Charlie, as a contemporary kid, serves as our representative, experiencing different times first hand –up close and personal with chamber pots.

 

DWED: At length how would you describe the feedback for Untimed”?

Reviews for Untimed have been fabulous. It has a 4.6 average on Amazon with 128 reviews! It’s not at all uncommon for book bloggers to call it “the best book I’ve read in years” or something similar. 

 

DWED: Would you say you have a unique style of writing?

I’m a very visual writer. I see each scene in my head like a movie and I try to paint it for the reader. I also like to think that my style is very descriptive, yet rapid and compact. I’m very conscious of all the things that need to be conveyed coming into a scene, and I try to dole them out in rapid splashes. I don’t open with a big block of description, but jump right into things and tease out the information and descriptions bit by bit as part of the action. In editing, I try to remove anything non-essential or redundant. Untimed is only 75,000 words, yet a tremendous amount of stuff happens. It’s very spare and efficient.

I like dialogue and action, and I think I’m very good at both. I try to keep the banter snappy and rapid fire, and I like to think I can handle pretty complex action scenes with multiple simultaneous goings on.

DWED: what kind of messages do you try to instill in your writing?

I wanted to show people that the past didn’t have to be boring, and that while situations and society changes, people stay the same. I also wanted to illustrate that while people in the past are just as human, things really have improved in many ways. By having Charlie, who as a contemporary kid is our representative, experience different times first hand, it’s easy to contrast them.

 

 

DWED: Who is your favorite character in Untimedand why?

Untimed’s single first person POV is Charlie, and he was very fun to write. He calls things as he sees them, and given his basic naiveté, that’s pretty funny. We’re inside his head, and nothing is really sacred there. This can also be contrasted with what he does and says, which is sometimes not as bold as he thinks. Dialog-wise, his love interest, Yvaine, is also a blast because she’s incredibly direct and not afraid to work it.

DWED: Who is your least favorite character in Untimedand why?

There are two ways to take that question, but I’ll choose who is the most “despicable” (as opposed to which character do I think I failed at). Donnie, as the human villain, is a nasty bastard, very self centered and temperamental, but at the same time I wanted to make him likeable, or at least charismatic. Guys like him would have been charming – some of the time. But the Tick-Tocks are cool tool in their more archetypal way. Rapier is like a kind of Boogie-man. He’s always in the wrong place at the right time (for him!). 

DWED: What can we look forward to seeing from you throughout 2013?

Right now, I’m writing two more and adapting Untimed into a screenplay. 

DWED: What would you say to all aspiring authors like yourself?

Read, read, write, write, edit, edit, edit. And hire good professional help too. Friends and family can give you a sense of how the book reads, but they can't usually tell you how to fix anything serious. I've read a lot of half-decent Indie books on my Kindle that are at their core good, but just need some serious tightening and polish. Hell, I've read plenty of big-six bestsellers you can say this about.

DWED: Is there anything we haven’t covered that you would like your readers and potential readers to know about both your work and yourself?

I’ll just throw in the blurb for Untimed:

Charlie’s the kind of boy that no one notices. Hell, his own mother can’t remember his name. So when a mysterious clockwork man tries to kill him in modern day Philadelphia, and they tumble through a hole into 1725 London, Charlie realizes even the laws of time don’t take him seriously. Still, this isn’t all bad. Who needs school when you can learn about history first hand, like from Ben Franklin himself. And there’s this girl… Yvaine… another time traveler. All good. Except for the rules: boys only travel into the past and girls only into the future. And the baggage: Yvaine’s got a baby boy and more than her share of ex-boyfriends. Still, even if they screw up history — like accidentally let the founding father be killed — they can just time travel and fix it, right? But the future they return to is nothing like Charlie remembers. To set things right, he and his scrappy new girlfriend will have to race across the centuries, battling murderous machines from the future, jealous lovers, reluctant parents, and time itself.


Buy Links:
Amazon:http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00AQN4OZS/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=all-things-1-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00AQN4OZS

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/untimed-andy-gavin/1114063372?ean=9781937945039&isbn=9781937945039

iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/untimed/id591249030?ls=1

KOBO: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Untimed/book-2AGRkipAPUWmyuGa-5joWQ/page1.html?s=dii7O30oqkCeOlZs9i9R5Q&r=1

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Synopsis:
Romance, humor, family drama, with a touch of Buddhism. Sound interesting?

When approaching life's problems, Sophie sees in black and white. That is, when they're someone else's problems. So when it comes to her sister, Sophie is sure she has all the answers, and offers them without hesitation. If only her sister would listen.

Then, through a series of chance encounters, she meets Sam, who is witty, kind, and downright unflappable. Sophie has the overwhelming sense that she's known him before, and as a relationship builds between them, odd visions invade her mind. Though she tries to dismiss them, their persistence will not allow it.

As someone who is quick to judge others, she is intrigued by Sam's ability to accept people as they are. She begins to see him as a role model, but try as she may, his accepting nature is difficult to emulate. 

Will Sophie ever be able to put her hasty judgments aside and realize not every problem has a simple solution?

Review

Rating: 4 stars ****

My Thoughts:

This book was simplistically great. One of the things I loved about it was how it flowed. There were funny moments, sweet moments and gracious moments which allowed me as the reader to feel connected with the storyline and characters the entire book.

Shelly as an author, I believe, has a skill that allows the reader to constantly connect and stay connected as she paints a vivid picture.

My favorite character was Christian, Evie’s husband and friend. His inner conflict is what drew me to him and kept my rapt attention, although Sophie hated his guts and had no kind words for him throughout the story.

What I love is that we see so many different personalities and beliefs mixed throughout the story and its never changing. Everyone stayed true to their place, their beliefs and their core personality, although we saw major change in Sophie as she found love within another and allowed herself to really feel loved. We watched as she finally accepted one can have flaws without judging them, but accepting them.

This was a great read.

Excerpt:

Sophie wandered into the kitchen where Christian was standing, clearly tortured in his own home. 

“What’s up?” Sophie asked, slapping him on the back.

“Hey, Soph.”

She did sort of feel sorry for the guy, pitiful thing that he was, but she often wondered if much of his manner was for show. She supposed only Evie knew for sure, and maybe his mother as well. Christian had conventional good looks—thick, wavy brown hair, nice skin. In Sophie’s opinion, he had no personality whatsoever. Evie must have seen something in him that Sophie didn’t. He never drank, which was probably a good thing due to whatever mood issues he had. But at the same time, Sophie thought he could use something to loosen him up.

“So whatcha been up to, Christian?”

“Not much,” he answered. “Been helping Mom around the house, doing some yard work.”

“Really?” How nice. You can help your mom with yard work, but you can’t help your wife with your own damn house! Making an effort to have a positive conversation with him wasn’t going to happen here. Now she was just pissed off. “Well, I gotta get this drink over to Edward.”

As she passed her mother, they exchanged meaningful glances. Abby approached her son-in-law to attempt her turn at friendly dialogue. Maybe she would have better luck than Sophie.

Later that evening, Sophie sat with Lisa, her friend and fellow teacher, as she picked at a bowl of Chex Mix.

“Come on. It’ll be fun,” Lisa persuaded. “I’ve been married five years, and I still get out more than you do.”

“So what? Why is it so important that I get out more?”

“Well. . . .” Lisa hemmed and hawed. “Jerry has a friend I want you to meet.”

Sophie ended her search for melba toast in the Chex Mix and gave Lisa an annoyed sigh.

“Just agree to meet him,” Lisa added. “He’s a cool guy.”

“I’ll go, but only if you promise not to fix me up,” Sophie insisted. What was it about married people and their deep-seated desire to pair up their single friends?

“You haven’t dated anyone for at least six months,” Lisa pointed out, as if it were some atrocity.

“Lisa, I’m tired. I think you’ve forgotten what it’s like, and the last thing I want to do is meet some guy in a bar.”

“Oh, give me a break! You’re not going to be meeting some guy in a bar. It will be someone that Jerry and I know, and it will be at Murphy’s. Remember Murphy’s?” Lisa jibed, poking her in the ribs. “We used to go there all the time when we were in college.”

Ughhh,” Sophie groaned. “No set ups. It has to be casual.”

“They’ve got Karaoke now,” Lisa said in a sing-song voice.

“Is that supposed to entice me, or make me run away screaming?”

“Okay, no set ups. Some others from work will be there too, so it will be very casual.”

Sophie sipped her drink and watched Evie approach Christian across the room. He looked nauseated, stressed and self-conscious. Evelyn reached up and lovingly straightened his collar as if he were a little boy, and then said something that seemed to put him at ease. He grinned stiffly and put his arms around her.

Sophie was fascinated by their dynamic, wanting to be a fly on the wall to their conversation. Anything to understand why her sister stayed in this relationship.

Evie cocked her head and gazed up into Christian’s face, asking him something. His smile disappeared, and so did he as he retreated to the bedroom. Evie nervously skimmed the room and when her gaze met Sophie’s, Sophie averted her eyes, pretending to be ignorant of the exchange.

Christian wasn’t seen for the rest of the evening.

http://www.shellyhickman.net/


 
Synopsis:
Is it possible for a heart to survive twenty five years of abuse on the most intimate level?

For anyone in a relationship, the words 'we need to talk' can only mean one thing. In the last twenty-two years, the McKenzies have been through it, survived it, learned by it, and grown stronger from it, because life didn't stop for breath when they needed it. Amongst the tears and the tragedies, the hopes and happiness, they've built something amazing: a happy family, a luxury lifestyle and a booming empire. Don't they deserve to have it all?

But for the perfect wife, those four sinister words mean something entirely different. They're a summons into a private world where what happens behind closed doors stays behind closed doors.

Faith has no doubt in Calvin's undying love for her. It's what kept her sane in the darkest hours. If only she could figure out what it is she does wrong... because it's rapidly becoming apparent their tainted love is running out of time.

Tainted Love is an intimate look at a side of marriage many people never see.

Excerpt:

Are you having flashbacks of the lycra cat suit with the homemade ears, whiskers, and the feather boa tail, D? So you should, you made it! I didn’t tell you I’ve bought one this year and Gawd, it’s awful! I felt so self-conscious. Where do I start? It’s strapless, it laces up, it gives certain areas more and others less and it’s not suitable for public consumption! But it’s the only one I could find.

The three girls thought it would be fun to trick-or-treat at John’s. I did try telling them he wasn’t home. His truck wasn’t in the drive and he was supposed to call my cell when he was ready for Lisa to come home for her big surprise. So it was a surprise for us all when the door opened.

“Oh my! What a fright.” His eyes met mine and I nervously mouthed an apology, because Cal would have hated us turning up uninvited and unplanned. But John grinned. “Now what do we have here?” They giggled and I melted just a little. He had them eating from the palm of his hand. “Right, well, for the little devil, I have this,” and he held out his right hand.

“A hand shake?” Zoe was puzzled before she took his hand, and then she yelped. Mystified, she turned over his palm. “Wicked!” She grinned at the trick hand shocker.

You know how mischievous she is. She’s going to have hours of fun finding new ways to torture us with that.

As though he knew what I was thinking, his eyes found mine with a wicked gleam. I swear I had butterflies. “Now for the fairy princess.” He turned to Caitlyn. “I have this...” He reached inside the door and brought back his hands cupped together. “I found it when I was working on the beach yesterday and thought of you.”

“What is it?” Cate stepped forward and placed her hands on his. “Oh, it’s beautiful, John!” she cried, lifting a star-shaped shell from his hands. “Mom, look!”

You know how star mad she is.

“Wow!” I wasn’t looking at the shell. I was looking at the man who knew my kids as well as I did. “Thank you.” Again, his eyes met mine. Oh wow. D, my knees actually went weak.

“And for the little bunny, I have a big fat—” he swept her into his arms, “hug!” He squeezed as he swung her from side to side.

I think I could have melted into a puddle on the floor right there and then if it wasn’t for the porch railing I was leaning against. I always thought Cal was a good father, but in comparison to the police officer turned carpenter-slash-handy-man who gave his time up to restore derelict piers, Cal was nothing.

“Have you had a good birthday, Bunny Rabbit?”

“It’s been awesome!” Lisa smiled. “Kimmi made me rabbit shaped pancakes for breakfast.”

“Speaking of rabbits, aren’t you forgetting something?” John asked. She looked puzzled. “He’s in the garden.”

“Really? You got me a rabbit?” John nodded. Lisa squealed and wriggled to be let down from his arms. “You’re the best dad in the world.”

I stepped forward to stop my girls from going inside. “Leave them a few minutes.”

The three girls ran to the garden to see the new rabbit. John smiled at me and took my hand. “I have something for you, too.” I was surprised. I didn’t expect anything. “I'm sorry, Kimmi,” he said, and stepped closer. “You can’t turn up here wearing that and not expect this.” He pushed me up against the door. One hand slipped under my jaw toward the back of my neck as he stepped into my personal space.

And I... well, I froze.

D, every muscle clenched, my eyes twisted shut, and I prayed to God he wouldn’t hurt me. I didn’t even breathe.

“Okay,” John whispered, stepping back. But he didn’t pull his hand away from my cheek. “That was not what I was expecting.”

Air passed through my lips, long enough for me to breathe normally again. He let the silence continue while my heart rate slowed. I knew he could feel it beneath his hand. But what could I tell him? Honestly, what could I say? But this man... he’s got to be too good to be true.

“Kimmi,” John said, “The last guy really hurt you?” His thumb caressed my cheek and my face turned into his palm. “But…” He stepped closer again, not too close because he knew it would freak me out. “I’ve tried, Kimmi.” He tilted my chin so I could look at him, and I knew whatever he was about to say was really important. “And I…” His lips brushed over mine and my heart fluttered. “I just can’t wait any longer.”

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Author Bio:

Erin Cawood is a commercial women’s fiction author, with a taste for dramatic storylines and a passion for strong lead characters she really gets behind, cheering on right to the very end of their story. Her focus? Taking romance into the darker, edgier side of contemporary fiction.
Erin lives in Leeds, UK, with her partner of thirteen years and their fourteen year old cat. She spends her days somewhere between the fiction world and the student world. Fascinated by web design and digial communication, Erin is studing a BA(hons) in New Media at the University of Leeds. Before returning to full time education two years ago, Erin worked at a theme park, a convenience store, a public house/restaurant both in the kitchen and waitressing, as an insurance agent and currently works part time in a customer contact centre.

Connect with Erin!

Website: http://www.erincawood.co.uk
: erin@erincawood.co.uk
Beyond My Writing Space: http://www.erin-cawood.blogspot.co.uk
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: http://www.goodreads.com/erincawood