American-turned-Parisian Vicki tells it like it is, from her crazy Christmases growing up in the Midwest to her even crazier holidays in her new home in France. Bizarre gifts, stomach-turning food, and holiday travel disasters are just some of the tales you'll chuckle at in this installment of the Paris Confessions series.
This Christmas-themed memoir features 25 funny and heartwarming essays, all with a tenuous tie to Christmas, and pairs each with a delicious drink recipe. So grab your martini shaker and get ready for tasty cocktails and hearty laughs this holiday season!
A humorous collection of holiday-inspired stories with Christmas drink recipes
If you're looking for a great read this holiday season, don't miss Christmas Confessions & Cocktails! The 25 stories in this holiday collection take you on an adventure full of Christmas spirit (and spirits, including Christmas cocktail recipes like Christmas Cookie Martini, Peppermintini, and Glitter & Gold). And it makes the perfect Christmas gift!
Excerpt from Christmas Confessions & Cocktails by Vicki Lesage
Years later, I married the love of my life, Mika. It would be hard to find a bad quality about this guy. He’s patient. He’s kind. He’s funny and smart. He’s a wonderful husband and an amazing father.
But he absolutely sucks at killing bugs.
His technique: Grab a paper towel and stomp loudly toward the bug, usually scaring it away before arriving on the scene. If the stupid thing sticks around, it’s only because he’s thinking, “Get a load of this guy and his soft, fluffy paper towel. What’s he planning to do with that? Tuck me in to bed and sing me lullabies? Sounds lovely!”
Mika’s “plan” is to gently cover the area the spider is occupying, and to—I don’t know—just hope the spider crawls into the paper towel’s pillowy folds, leading itself to death? Of course the spider darts away each time and now Mika’s just wasted a paper towel.
“You have to smash it. With force,” I said, with all the knowledge of a backseat driver. “The paper towel is just to protect your fingers from the carnage. You actually need to kill it with your hand.”
He gave me a look like, “Holy hell, who did I marry?”
I gave him a look back like, “You better kill the next one or you won’t stay married for long.”
One week later, I was minding my own business (so, ending world hunger or spending too much time on Facebook) and I heard a loud SMACK in the kitchen.
“Check this out,” Mika said, entering the living room with a smile on his face and a dark smear on a paper towel.
Ah, my technique worked.
This doesn’t solve my mom’s problem, though. My newly-trained bug-killing husband was thousands of miles from St. Louis. My step-dad, Doug, will take care of any insect problem, but what does my mom do if he’s not there? She would never kill an intruder herself, but she can’t stay frozen in one spot all weekend.
Enter the best Christmas present ever, courtesy of SkyMall: the bug vacuum.
I’d traveled home for Thanksgiving one year, opting for the cheaper international fares for that time period compared to Christmas. After reading the in-flight magazine cover to cover (or at least taking the Mensa quiz to feel smart), I perused the SkyMall catalogue.
Have you ever looked in that thing? I wanted to buy everything on every page! And I nearly did.
Toy gun that shoots marshmallows? Perfect for my trigger-happy, sweets-loving brother. (Bonus: New way to play fetch with Chopper.)
A glass display case for children’s artwork where you slide in their new artwork while cleverly hiding their previous masterpieces so that you don’t have a house full of scribbles? Perfect for my colleague who has two adorable, prolific, artistic children.
Collapsible silicone wine glasses that you can—get this—fold up and tuck in to your back pocket so you’re ready for any occasion? I might just have to get those for myself.
A bug vacuum with extendable arm and a circular shield to trap the bug before being sucked away to
get zapped by a jolt of electricity go live on a farm in the country? Perfect for my easily-spooked arachnaphobic mother. She talks smack about bugs, but can’t handle actually smacking any.
Bonus gift: A battery-operated bug-zapping tennis racket for the flying critters. Plus it counts as exercise because it has “tennis” in the name.
I filled out the order form and dropped it in the mail when I landed. Christmas shopping had never been so easy.
Bug vacuum: $64.95
Battery-operated bug-zapping tennis racket: $16.95
Living in a bug-free house: Priceless
Follow the tour here: http://www.clpblogtours.com/2015/11/book-blitz-christmas-confessions.html
I love a good blog hop,
and Deborah Nam-Krane's are the best.
This time, we're doing "Best Twists."
Since we're going to be talking about twists, the whole blog hop is going to be one big SPOILER ALERT!
So, if you're one of the three people who hasn't read or seen Fight Club, don't read this. Trust me, it will ruin it for you.
Twists are what make a good story a great story, right? Sure, not every story can or even should have a twist, but don’t you love getting that kick-in-the-gut feeling when the writer has totally pulled one over on you?
I’m a big fan of twists. I try to incorporate a twist to the ending of every book I write, and that works well with mysteries. When I read a book or watch a movie, I love to try to figure out whodunit, or at least what I think is going to happen throughout the course of the story. I’ve gotten pretty good at “calling it” over the years, but some writers can and do fool me—which I love.
When I think of “best twists,” a lot of great books and movies come to mind—Gone Girl (of course), Girl on the Train, Shutter Island, The Uninvited, and The Sixth Sense, just to name a few. It was difficult to choose one, but I’ve chosen the one that has always sort of haunted me and caused me to go back and think the most about how different the story would have been had you known all along what you found out at the end. That story is Fight Club. I watched the movie years ago, and I just finished the book version. Both were great, and I honestly can’t say which I liked better. Okay, maybe I can—Brad Pitt takes his shirt off A LOT in the movie.
...and one more...
I will say that the twist in the movie happens a little more quickly than in the book. The book more slowly rolls out the realization that the Narrator and Tyler Durden are one and the same. Because of the quickness of the revelation in the movie, I’d say it had a more shocking effect than the book. However—I knew the twist when I started reading the book, so I wasn’t exactly surprised when it happened. And it’s really rather interesting how Chuck Palahniuk all but tells you they’re the same guy, with repeated lines like “I know this because Tyler knows this” and describing the way Tyler exits a room as “disappearing.”
Whether you watch it or read it, Fight Club is a fantastic story, and the twist is epic. Well, at least it would have been if I hadn’t just spoiled it for you. I know, I know. I just broke the first rule of Fight Club. Whatever.
Join Aaron Deckard tomorrow as the Best Twist Blog Tour rolls on!
Check Deb's blog for the full schedule!
DEATH BEFORE DECAF
is now available!
I signed the deal for this book on my 40th birthday in March, and it's been nonstop fun working with the crew at Random House Alibi to get to release day. Thank you to everyone who supported me, edited and read for me, and encouraged me to follow my dreams!
DEATH BEFORE DECAF is available as an ebook for all devices. Find the list here: http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/531812/death-before-decaf-by-caroline-fardig/
I can't believe it's finally time for the release of
Death Before Decaf!
Below is the full list of stops I'll be making to celebrate the release of my first book through Random House Alibi.
Please join me on my tour!
The official release date for Death Before Decaf is November 17th.
Special thanks to Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours for hosting the tour!
November 10 – Moonlight Rendezvous – Review
November 10 – A Blue Million Books – Interview
November 11 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – Review
November 12 – Community Bookstop – Spotlight
November 13 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – Guest Post
November 14 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review
November 15 – Cozy Up With Kathy – Interview
November 16 – Queen of All She Reads – Review, Guest Post
November 16 – Cassidy Salem Reads & Writes – Review
November 17 – StoreyBook Reviews – Review
November 18 – Musings and Ramblings – Review
November 19 – Book Club Librarian – Review
November 19 – MysteriesEtc – Review
November 20 – Tea and A Book – Review, Interview
November 21 – 3 Partners in Shopping; Nana, Mommy, & Sissy too! – Spotlight
November 22 – LibriAmoriMiei – Review
November 23 – Booklady’s Booknotes – Review, Guest Post
Today, I welcome back Susan M. Boyer
for her Lowcountry Bordello blog tour!
Read on for an excerpt from her latest book and a $50 Amazon card giveaway!
A Day in the Life of Liz Talbot, PI, by Susan M. Boyer
The dead are not altogether reliable. Colleen, my best friend, calls herself a Guardian Spirit. I can’t argue with the facts at hand: She’s been dead seventeen years, and she watches my back. I’m a private investigator, so situations arise from time to time wherein my back needs watching. Technically, Colleen’s afterlife mission is to protect Stella Maris, our island home near Charleston, South Carolina, from developers and all such as that. Since I’m on the town council and can’t abide the notion of condos and time-shares on our pristine beaches, protecting me falls under her purview.
Solving my cases, however, does not. She’ll tell me that in a skinny minute should I happen to mention how she could be more helpful. But she has been known to toss me the occasional insight from beyond that provokes a train of thought, which, upon reflection, proves useful. Here’s the thing: Colleen shows up when she detects I’m in danger. Sometimes she warns me in advance. Occasionally she drops by just to chat. But she doesn’t come whenever I think of her or call her name. It rarely works like that.
One Monday in December, I really could’ve used Colleen’s perspective. We were closing in on Christmas, and I was getting married on the twentieth—in five days. I was a teensy bit distracted, is what I’m saying.
It was a little after ten in the morning, and I was at my desk in the living room of my beachfront house, which doubles as my office. I was deep into research on a criminal case Nate, my partner and fiancé, and I were working for Andy Savage. Andy was a high profile Charleston attorney, and while this case didn’t amount to much more than fact-checking, we hoped it would lead to a lucrative relationship for Talbot and Andrews, our agency.
I stared at my computer screen and reached for one of Mamma’s Christmas cookies. My phone trilled out the ringtone named Old Phone. Old Phone was reserved for old friends. I grabbed my phone instead of the cookie.
Robert Pearson. He’d been a year ahead of me in high school, the same age as my brother, Blake. He’d married one of my best friends. Robert was also our family attorney, and he and I were both on the Stella Maris town council.
I tapped the green “accept” button.
After we exchanged the usual pleasantries, he said, “I wondered, if you’re not too busy, could you drop by this afternoon? There’s something I want to run by you.”
“I have an appointment at one that’s going to take most of the afternoon.” Multi-toned highlights are a maintenance issue, especially with hair as long as mine. My natural sandy blonde would turn Tweety Bird yellow if Dori looked at it wrong. She always took her time, but five days before my wedding she’d be excruciatingly meticulous. I couldn’t walk down the aisle with yellow hair.
“Noon?” he asked.
“Sure. See you then.”
“Thanks, Liz. I really appreciate it.” He sounded way too grateful for such an ordinary request. This is what should’ve tipped me off that something was up.
Copyright © 2015 by Susan M. Boyer -- This excerpt is reprinted by permission from Henery Press. All rights reserved.
Henery Press: http://henerypress.com/susan-m-boyer/
Buy Lowcountry Bordello:
Follow the tour:
November 9 – Caroline Fardig – Excerpt
November 10 – Chick Lit Goddess – Q&A & Excerpt
November 10 – Change the Word – Q&A & Excerpt
November 11 – Celia Kennedy – Review & Excerpt
November 12 – Fiction Zeal - Review
November 12 – Chick Lit Club Connect - Excerpt
November 13 – Granny Loves To Read – Review & Excerpt
November 16 – Nails and Tales – Review & Q&A
November 16 – The Phantom Paragrapher – Review
November 16 – Mallory Heart Reviews – Review
November 17 – Queen of All She Reads – Review & Excerpt
November 18 – Hello Precious Bliss – Review & Excerpt
November 23 – The Book Sirens – Review
November 25 – Fiction Dreams – Excerpt
November 27 – Jersey Girl Book Reviews – Review & Excerpt
November 30 – Polished & Bubbly – Q& A& Excerpt
November 30 – Create With Joy - Review
Just in time for the holidays comes
Kathryn R. Biel's
Completions and Connections!
I had a hard time deciding which of the two excerpts Kathryn sent me to use. After I read them, I went out and bought the book immediately. (I connected with Christine's epic skiing fail.) The meet-cute in this story is ADORABLE! Get your copy now! Buy links below.
"Michele, you've got to be kidding me!" I'm trapped. I can't move. And my best friend is laughing at me.
"C'mon Christine, you can do this. It's going to be fun."
"No, it's not. It's going to be torture. A cold, painful torture that ends with me in a body cast."
"You said you'd try new things this year. Isn't this number one on your list? This is what you need to bring you out of your shell. It will be good for you. Think of it as an item you can check off your list."
"My shell is just fine. I don't see how throwing myself down a mountain in sub-zero temperatures can possibly be good for me." But she knows she's got me. I'm a list maker, and nothing makes me happier than checking things off my lists.
Michele snaps her boot buckles and stands up. She looks like the perfect snow bunny, all cute and adorable in her snow pants and coordinating sweater. Her blond curls cascade perfectly down her shoulders, and no hat will flatten them or make her look bedraggled.
I look bedraggled before I even start. My hair is a dull, coppery brown. I can't call it red, and it's not regular brown. The closest description I can come up with is an old penny. It's straight. Like pin straight. And even attempts at perming have not been successful. Hot curlers, curling irons—nothing. Pin straight and boring.
Just like me.
"When I said new things, I meant maybe cutting my hair or getting highlights put in," I mutter, trying to buckle my boot. The layers of clothes are constricting, and I'm having trouble breathing bent over like this. The buckle finally snaps shut, and I return upright, only to find myself out of breath and lightheaded.
Not off to the most auspicious of starts.
I've got a bad feeling about this.
Michele, who grew up skiing, is itching to get out on the slopes. Despite the fact that I've lived in Upstate New York my whole life, I've somehow managed to avoid this particular form of torture thus far. I've signed up for a lesson and am starting a novena that I don't die on the chairlift.
I pick up my skis from the rental shop and awkwardly carry them outside. We find Michele's skis on the rack, and in a few swift moments hers are donned and she's ready to swoosh off. I'm still trying to figure it out. Michele lets out an exasperated sigh and pops her ski off. She goes through the process again, step-by-step. Finally, I have my skis on.
Except now I can't move. She uses her pole to point to where I have to go and she's off, gliding on the snow like a figure skater.
Do you know how freakin' hard it is to move on skis when you're not on a hill? Or worse, when you have to go uphill? Not to mention that in order to fit my 5'10" (Okay, 5'10 ¾". Fine. I'm 5'11") frame, my skis are the length of Delaware.
I'm exhausted by the time I get to the ski group. But then the embarrassment continues. I'm the only adult in the group. This is so not worth it. Checking one stupid item (try something new) off my resolution list is not worth it.
Telling stories of resilient women, Kathryn R. Biel hails from upstate New York and is a spouse and mother of two wonderful and energetic kids. In between being Chief Home Officer and Director of Child Development of the Biel household, she works as a school-based physical therapist. She attended Boston University and received her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from The Sage Colleges. After years of writing countless letters of medical necessity for wheelchairs, finding increasingly creative ways to encourage the government and insurance companies to fund her clients' needs, and writing entertaining annual Christmas letters, she decided to take a shot at writing the kind of novel that she likes to read. Her musings and rants can be found on her personal blog, Biel Blather. She is the author of Good Intentions (2013), Hold Her Down (2014),I'm Still Here (2014), Jump, Jive, and Wail (2015), and Killing Me Softly (2015).
Social Media Links:
Welcome back author
on her FIRST & GOAL blog tour!
Laura's Guest Post:
In First & Goal, book one of my new Queen of the League series, my main character Harper gets caught up in the drama surrounding a fantasy football league. Rather than ask for Harper’s take on football, the league, and everything—you can read her perspective in the book—today I thought we’d give a few of her colleagues a chance to weigh in.
Harper’s interest in joining the league begins when she overhears three salesmen talking about their need for a twelfth player in their league. Having recently been admonished for being too task-driven and not friendly enough, this seems like the perfect opportunity for her to get to know them better. For the three salesmen—Gio, J.J., and Wade—Harper’s involvement in the league means something else.
Gio is the senior man on the job. The father of two teenaged daughters, he has a joking nature mixed with a paternal instinct. J.J. is a former local college football star, who almost had a chance at the pros. He works at the dealership as more of a mascot than a salesman. And Wade is one of the top salesmen at the dealership. He also has the ability to see through most people’s machinations.
What were your first impressions of Harper when she came to work at the car dealership?
Gio: She was definitely Type A. She was intense and obsessed about making everything perfect. When I met her, she struck me as someone who might be…
J.J.: A pain in the ass?
Gio: Not my word choice, but basically.
J.J. I thought she was a pain in the ass.
Wade: I wouldn’t call her that either, but… I had a feeling she’d complicate our lives. And she did. She’s a real stickler for the rules and doesn’t back down.
What was your take when she joined the league?
Gio: I was relieved we’d have enough people to play. It would’ve been a bummer for us to be short a person.
J.J.: I was glad to see my chances at winning had gotten a lot better.
Wade: I thought she probably had no interest in being in our league, and only did it to win over J.J. I figured she’d come to regret her impulsive decision.
Describe your fantasy football strategy in three words.
Gio: Just have fun.
J.J.: Dominance. Annihilation. Murder.
Wade: Jesus, J.J.
J.J.: That was only two words.
Wade: One of these days—
J.J.: Oh what? Are you going to suddenly become a tough guy? If you try anything with me, you know you’ll—
Gio: Boys, boys. Let’s get through this questionnaire without turning it into a bloodbath.
J.J.: Oh, bloodbath. That’s a good word for my strategy. Let’s use that one instead of murder.
Who do you think will win the league this year?
Gio: That’s easy—Brook MacLaughlin. He always wins.
J.J.: His lucky streak is over. I’m saying this is the year of J.J.’s dominance—on and off the field.
Wade: I wouldn’t mind seeing some fresh blood win, but Wade’s right. My money is on Brook. He’s really good.
What is one piece of advice you’d offer a first-time fantasy football team owner?
Gio: Enjoy the ride. Even if you don’t win, fantasy football can be a lot of fun.
J.J.: He’s kidding. Fantasy football is only fun if you win. That’s why you have to destroy the competition, no matter what. Show them no mercy.
Wade: My advice: don’t play in a league with J.J.
I love this series, and of course I couldn't resist a Halloween-themed mystery with a candy corn cupcake on the front!
I was so excited when Gina gave me an excerpt to run on my blog!
Get the latest Lacey Luzzi book HERE!
“Meg, there are children here,” I whispered, glancing around the Halloween costume store. “You’ll scare them.”
“C’mon, Lacey. The way you’re talking, Halloween is a kid’s holiday, which is just ridiculous.” Meg turned towards me, flaunting a mask with fangs as large as my forearm. “Relax.”
“It is a kid’s holiday.” I ducked down an aisle in the opposite direction, pretending we didn’t know each other.
Meg chased after me. She caught up and attempted to sink her fangs into my arm. “No, it’s not, that’s just marketing. Halloween is really an excuse for adults to dress up in redonkulous outfits and overdose on candy.”
The vampire before me – also known as Meg – was a former cop, as well as my best friend since childhood. Though I loved her to death, at the moment she had me wondering how close we were to getting arrested. It wasn’t the scary mask that had me nervous, or the strange clown wig plopped on her head. It wasn’t the fake blood she held in one hand, or the fake knife she brandished in the other.
No, it was the fact that Meg had decided to try on the sexy French maid outfit in the middle of the store, while mothers bustled by, doling out scathing looks like Twix Bars on October 31st.
“Oh Lacey, I don’t want to hear your lies.” Meg turned to me, extending her feather duster and tickling my nose. “You hoard candy worse than any child.”
“Not true.” I sneezed. “Not usually true.”
“I saw your stash last year, you little liar. You bought king-sized candy bars, Rolos, all sorts of delicious things. Then when kids came aknockin’ on your door, you put those treats back in the pantry and handed out pre-wrapped bags of carrots.”
“That’s not totally true. I threw some Smarties in with the carrots.” I tried hard to keep the guilt out of my expression. “The parents appreciated it, just not the kids.”
“Don’t try to pretend you’re doing a holy thing by giving out carrots; no parent likes getting veggies on Halloween.” Meg put a hand on her hip. “Every mom picks her favorite candy out of her kid’s bucket. How many do you think pick out the carrots?”
“Your mom always took the Almond Joys from you,” Meg said. “But I think that’s only because she knew they were your least favorite. Remember that time when you were like, fifteen years old? She tried to steal one of your Twix bars and you burst into tears.”
I grabbed Meg’s arm and pulled her into a deserted aisle. “Yeah, yeah, Ms. Honesty. Like you haven’t nabbed your fair share of my goodies.”
“I’m not into Halloween for the candy.” Meg gestured to her curvy figure, focusing on the tiny little skirt that didn’t quite cover her spandex shorts. “I’m in it for the costumes. It’s a chance to look racy in public.”
“How about we race-ify you at home?” I squinted at her costume. “People are staring.”
“That’s the point, chickadee.”
I looked up at the ceiling, struggling to find a way out of the situation. We’d arrived at the costume store well over an hour ago, and by now we were on the verge of getting kicked out. The manager had walked by more times than I could count, though he seemed afraid to get too close to Meg. The French maid outfit didn’t do much to hide the gun she had holstered around her thigh.
“You could get in trouble for having a weapon in here, Meg,” I said, as she bent down to slip on a pair of clown shoes.
“I’m not concealing anything, am I?” Meg asked, gesturing to her legs. “I got a permit to carry, even if this gun is just borrowed from an old friend.”
“Are you calling the evidence locker an old friend, now?”
Meg didn’t answer. At least, she didn’t answer my question. “Or – I was also thinking I could be Jasmine. You could be Aladdin. I think we’d be a great combo.”
I didn’t have a ready response. I’d sort of want to do a couple dress-up with Anthony, if he’d do it. But now was not the time to argue. Meg had stuffed me into an Albert Einstein wig, a witch’s hat, and platform sandals a foot high. I wasn’t a quick runner normally, but I’d have a hard time racing a slug right now, and Meg had a gun. If I said no, it wouldn’t be a competition.
“What do you say, Aladdin?” Meg eyed a Pretty, Pretty Princess crown made of plastic. “I think I’d make an excellent Jasmine. Maybe Clay can be the Genie. We could do a three-way.”
“Let’s not reference Clay, Lacey, and three-way in the same sentence, please.” I choked back a gag at the thought of my sweet, awkward, computer genius cousin. “That’s just wrong.”
“Look at these pants, all see-through and billowing around. I’ll look fabulous.” Meg held up gauzy material that might be pants, and might be first aid supplies. To complete her Disney costume, she selected a light green, diamond-studded bra, holding it out for me to examine. “I’ll outshine all the other munchkins dressing up.”
“It’s not a competition.” I smiled at a mother pushing a stroller past us, eyeing Meg up and down with a confused expression.
“They’re just jealous,” Meg waved a hand.
“I don’t think that’s the case, but regardless, we have to swing by Nora’s house sometime today. We’ve been here so long my hair – my actual hair follicles – are sweating under this wig.”
“On my scalp?” I gestured towards the pile of costumes surrounding Meg. “Let’s pick a costume. Which one you want? Let’s get going.”
“You never confirmed if you’ll be my Aladdin.”
“I haven’t decided yet.”
“You’re thinking of ditching me for Anthony.” Meg narrowed her eyes at me. “I can sense it.”
“No, I just haven’t picked out a costume.” Which was mostly true. I also hadn’t asked Anthony if he’d even be the second half of a costume with me, yet.
But I had, in secret, been putting together something he might agree to wear. It was a two-partner costume, and when I’d seen it done online, the photos looked adorable. Mine didn’t look quite as adorable as the pictures yet, since I was making it by hand, and art was not my forte. No, at present it looked more like a ball of garbage glued together, but there was still time.
“Fine, Disney themed it is,” Meg said, selecting the Jasmine costume and heading towards the register. “They don’t got a good Aladdin here, but I can make you one.”
“No, please don’t worry about it—”
“I’m not worried.” Meg grinned. “I love Halloween! Hopefully Clay will agree to be the Genie. Oh shoot, suppose I gotta get rid of this French maid thing, huh? Or maybe I can be Jasmine-the-French-Maid.”
“Let’s stick with just Jasmine.” I trailed behind Meg as she discarded one item of clothing after the other.
By the time she reached the checkout, she’d straightened her black halter top and adjusted a skirt over her spandi-shorts. Meanwhile, I retraced her steps and picked up the pieces of the maid outfit, stuffing them back into the bag, all the while thinking that Clay would be more likely to start dating a girl than he would be to dress up as a big, blue cartoon character.
Enter below to win a CindaB Cross-Body Hipster handbag!
About clutch: a novel
Excerpt and giveaway for
Monique McDonell's new novel
Any Way You Fight It
Matchmaking came easily for Cherie . . . unless she was matching herself. A successful realtor, Cherie could sell a piece of property with ease, she could match up her friends with their perfect mates, but she couldn’t seem to find love for herself. Heck, even her seventy-five-year-old Nona was dating again! Cherie had the perfect love once, or so she had thought. But that was a long time ago, and yet, Luke was the standard by which she measured all potential mates.
After matching her two best friends and watching them live their happily ever afters, Cherie decides it’s time to make a change and get back in the game. Now all she needs to do is balance what she wants (a Luke-alike) with the demands of her crazy Italian family (a good, Catholic Italian boy).
Just when she is ready to shake off her past and move forward, her past walks through the door of her favorite local pub with her best friends. Luke is back, looks better than ever, and still has eyes for Cherie. And Cherie can’t control the heat she still has for him. But as with most long-lost loves, he has a past as well, and that past just might prevent Cherie from finding her happiness despite what her Nona’s visions predict.
Can Cherie and Luke make peace with their pasts and look forward to a new life together? Or will this be the final good-bye?
Lucy called me the next day. I was unlocking the door to my office. I was juggling keys, a folder, a latte, and an open house sign but I still managed to take the call.
"What's up, buttercup?" I said.
"Not much . . ." I could visualize her on the other end in kitchen whites and a hairnet trying to come up with a witty reply. "You sound perky today. Piper said you were exhausted last night."
"I was. Still am, actually." That wasn't a lie. I barely slept, tossing and turning all night with sexy and angry thoughts about Luke. "Your call perked me right up. Oh yeah, and I'm about to down my third coffee."
"Oh, I hope you're okay."
"I'll be fine. What's happening there?"
"Well, you met the hottie corporate sent to help us with branding."
"Don't you have a fiancé already?" I tried not to let jealousy seep in. Keep it light, Cherie.
"A girl can look. Anyway, you don't have a fiancé . . ."
"Yeah, well, I don't want a fiancé, and even if I did, I wouldn't want that guy."
"He seems pretty cool."
"Not my type." I needed to shut this down. “Anyway, he's probably married. How long is your new eye candy in town anyway?"
“He’s not, married I mean. A week or two, but he'll be back and forth." Great. "Maybe you two could . . ."
"Thanks for pimping out your new colleague, but if I wanted a guy, I could find my own." I tried to sound haughty. "Anyway, Lucy, I have to run. I have about a million calls to return. "
I dropped my bundle, minus the coffee of course, on the office sofa and turned at the sound of the bell above my front door tinkling. There in resplendent glory -today in chinos and a white shirt with sleeves rolled to the elbows, offsetting a killer tan- was Luke.
"Not your type, huh?" he said, closing the space between us a little.
"First of all, don't you know it is rude to eavesdrop and second, definitely not."
"I used to be," he said, one hand shoved in his pocket and the other gesticulating.
"Well, we all used to be different, didn't we?"
"I bet we're not all that different, you know."
"That's hardly a ringing endorsement for either of us." I leaned back against the edge of my desk, using it to balance me, and took a long sip of my latte. Some days there just wasn't enough coffee in the world.
"I don't know, I thought we were decent kids back then . . ."
"Until at least one of us wasn't."
"And which one was that?" he asked as if he didn't know. The bastard.
"What brings you here, Luke? I kind of have a lot to get done today."
"I wanted to see you."
"You've seen me." I sounded like such a cold bitch. He would have no doubt that I had changed by the end of this conversation. It wasn't that I didn't want to be that sweet young girl again, but he'd changed me and anyway, I was not her. I was an independent thirty-year-old woman.
"And I wanted to say obviously I had no idea you had any connection to Piper, and I'm sorry we were both blindsided that way last night."
"It's okay. Small world and all that." I tried to take another sip of my coffee but, sadly, the well was dry.
"It was really nice to see you, Cherie. I've often wondered how you were, what you did . . ." his voice trailed away.
I wanted to say, Dude, you could have called or written or maybe not just vanished back then, but I didn't.
"You're obviously keeping well."
"Can't complain." He shoved his second hand in his pocket. "So, do you want to still act like we don't know each other? These are your friends; this is your life . . ."
That was nice at least. "I kind of assumed yes. Then again, I don't like lying to them . . ."
"How about I say that I realized I recognized you from the neighborhood? Nothing more."
"Okay, but they're pretty nosy, so if they wise up or it feels weird for me, I'll tell them, and I'll let you know. Lucy and Piper can keep a secret."
"I don't suppose you want to have dinner or a donut for old-time’s sake?"
"You know what, I really don't. It's nice to see you're happy and doing well, but . . ."
"Okay." He turned to leave. "As you wish."
He did not just quote the Princess Bride to me. Oh yes, he freaking did!
About the author – Monique McDonell
I am an Australian author who writes contemporary women's fiction including chick lit and romance. I live on Sydney's Northern Beaches with my husband and daughter, and despite my dog phobia, with a dog called Skip.
I have written all my life especially as a child when I loved to write short stories and poetry. At University I studied Creative Writing as part of my Communication degree. Afterwards I was busy working in public relations I didn't write for pleasure for quite a few years although I wrote many media releases, brochures and newsletters. (And I still do in my day-job!)
When I began to write again I noticed a trend - writing dark unhappy stories made me unhappy. So I made a decision to write a novel with a happy ending and I have been writing happy stories ever since.
I have been a member of the writing group The Writer’s Dozen for eight years. Our anthology Better Than Chocolate raised over $10,000 for the charity Room to Read and helped build a library in South East Asia. I am also a member of the Romance Writers of Australia. I was also had a piece in the Australian non-fiction book Copyfight in 2015.
I have written five stand-alone romantic comedies and three books in the Upper Crust Series; Any Way You Slice It, Any Way You Dream It and Any Way You Fight It.
To learn more about Monique McDonell and her upcoming books please visit her at www.moniquemcdonellauthor.com
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