Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 9/30 - 10/6/12

Virtual Book Tour Events: Week of 9/30 - 10/6/12

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the following virtual book tour event:

Blue Aspen by Tenaya Jayne

Tuesday, October 2 ~ Author Guest Post, Contest Giveaway & Book Review

Book Description: Blue Aspen


Seventeen-year-old insomniac, Dulcee Elders' mother dumps her at her uncle's house and leaves without a word. Dulcee is forced to adapt to life with her reclusive uncle and his isolated mountain mansion. Insomnia has plagued Dulcee since her father died. Once at home at Uncle Jack's, inexplicably Dulcee now can sleep; sleep brings not only strange and intricate dreams, but a shadow she's compelled to follow. At first, Vincent Sands is only the silhouette of a man. When Dulcee is asleep, Vincent can give her anything she wants, even the ability to talk to her dead father. When Uncle Jack leaves town for business, Dulcee's dream world and reality collide. Once she is alone, the silhouette is no longer content to remain only in her dreams. Nevertheless, Dulcee and Vincent are torn apart when Uncle Jack returns. Spiraling into withdrawal, Dulcee experiences the high price of loving Vincent-an addiction rivaling that of any hard-core drug. Desperate to bridge the gap between them, Dulcee faces a crucial decision that carries irreversible consequences.

In association with Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the following virtual book tour event:

Missing Rebecca by John Worsley Simpson

Wednesday, October 3 ~ Author Guest Post, Contest Giveaway & Book Review

Book Description: Missing Rebecca

John's latest book, his fifth novel, Missing Rebecca, is a story of death and deception. After a whirlwind romance, Liam and Rebecca marry, knowing almost nothing of each other's backgrounds. Only months later, on an afternoon shopping trip to a mall in the Buffalo, New York, suburb of Cheektowaga, Rebecca vanishes, seemingly abducted. Or did she make herself disappear? Was the marriage a sham? Was Liam a dupe? This is a novel of high crimes and dark shadows, involving the immensely profitable drug industry in which exclusive access to the market for a medication can mean billions of dollars, and holding on to that exclusivity might lead to lies, deceit, corruption, payoffs, and even murder.

In association with Reading Addiction Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the following virtual book tour event:

Sophie's Turn by Nicky Wells

Thursday, October 4 ~ Author Guest Post, Contest Giveaway & Book Review

Book Description: Sophie's Turn

Slapper. Slut. Adulteress. These are hardly words that Sophie Penhalligan would normally use to describe herself. Yet this is exactly how she is behaving, all things considered, even if she isn’t quite married to Tim yet. And it’s all happening because her past is coming to tempt her! Nine years ago, she met her teenage idol and rock star extraordinaire, Dan, up close and personal. Well, almost. Now Dan has crash-landed back in her life. How could Tim ever stand a chance against the charming, handsome singer? How could she?

In association with Reading Addiction Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews is pleased to host the following virtual book tour event:

Torn Together by Emlyn Chand

Friday, October 5 ~ Author Interview, Contest Giveaway & Book Review

Book Description: Torn Together

From her cheating boyfriend to her dead father and cold, judgmental mother, Daly knows she can’t trust others to be there when it counts. This cynicism begins to melt away when she meets Kashi, a light-hearted charmer from India, who decides he cares too much to let her fade into the background of her own life. After a series of false starts, their quirky romance carries them to India, where Daly must win the approval of Kashi’s family in order to seal their “forever.”

Meanwhile, Laine struggles to cope with the pain of early widowhood, fleeing into the pages of her well-worn library and emerging only to perform her duties as a social worker at the crisis pregnancy center. Although her daughter wants nothing more than to work as an artist, Laine doesn’t know how to redirect Daly to a more suitable profession without further damaging their tenuous relationship.

Can Laine look past her pain to learn from an unlikely mentor? Has Daly finally found someone whom she can trust? Will the women recognize their common bonds before the relationship is broken beyond repair?

Jersey Girl Book Reviews Virtual Book Tour Events is pleased to host the following virtual book tour event:

The Ups And Downs Of Being Dead by M.R. Cornelius

Saturday, October 6 ~ Author Interview & Book Review

Book Description: The Ups And Downs Of Being Dead

Fifty-seven year old Robert Malone is the CEO of a successful clothing store chain and married to a former model. When his doctor tells him he is dying of cancer, he refuses to go quietly. Instead of death, Robert choses cryonics. He knows it’s a long shot. His frozen body will be stored in liquid nitrogen for the next seventy-five years, and then he’ll wake up in the future. Maybe. If technology figures out a way to bring him back.

He’s willing to take that gamble.

What he doesn’t realize is that he won’t lie in some dreamless state all that time. His soul is very much awake, and free to move about, just like the others who were frozen before him.

He discovers that he can ride in the cockpit with the pilots, but he can’t turn the page of a magazine. He can sit in the oval office with the president, but he can’t prevent a child from dashing in front of a car. He doesn’t work, or eat, or sleep. These obstacles make it difficult to fall in love, and virtually impossible to reconcile with the living. Over the next several decades, Robert Malone will have plenty of time to learn The Ups And Downs Of Being Dead.

Last-Minute Love by Romi Moondi (Author Guest Post / Contest Giveaway / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Romi Moondi, author of Last-Minute Love (Year of the Chick Series - Book 2)!

Author Guest Post

Hi Kathleen, thanks for letting me write a post here for your lovely readers! 

Today I’m going to talk about the power of “fantasizing,” and how we should all do it! 

I don’t mean picturing yourself acting out scenes from a certain bestselling erotic trilogy (though if that’s your preference, go for it!); what I mean is fantasizing about your biggest and wildest dreams, because if you don’t…they’ll never come true! 

I will use myself as the case study to validate this theory. Ahem. 

Example A: It’s 2009, I’m writing Year of the Chick, and as I’m getting to the ending (SPOILER ALERT), I’m fantasizing about going to New York to meet a guy, this real-life Internet guy I’m kinda-sorta in love with. 

Fast-forward to summer 2010, I go to New York to meet some great friends…and then I meet a guy. Not Internet guy, but a brand new guy who’s amazing. I can’t have him of course, for circumstantial reasons, but that’s just a side detail (for more on this, read Last-Minute Love! haha). 

Example B: I’ve watched the movie “Serendipity” several times, and each time I always fantasize about being brave enough to hop on a plane like Kate Beckinsale’s character did and just go for it, even if there is a ninety-nine percent chance that it won’t work out. 

Fast-forward to 2011, and I hop on a plane for one last chance to see the amazing guy from New York I met in 2010. Even though it’s an “in-the-moment” kind of thing, it ends up being the best weekend ever, even better than I fantasized. 

Example C: go backwards to 2007, and for a couple of years straight I constantly fantasize myself being an author, signing books, and having strangers actually read my books and love them….and fan mail, there was fan mail in the fantasy! 

Fast-forward to 2012, and I’ve now released three full books, including a second book in the Year of the Chick series. I sign copies that friends and co-workers buy (and that contest entrants win), I’ve somehow managed to sell a few thousand digital copies to strangers, and some of these strangers wander over to my Facebook page to tell me they loved the series. And finally, in the past month….I’ve been getting at least one fan e-mail a week! 

In the fantasizing phases of examples A, B and C, I had no plan and zero know-how on making any of those fantasies come true. I’d never even been on a plane by myself before I went to New York; in short, I was an aimless and poorly-disciplined writer for years, and I rarely had the balls to tell people how I really felt about them. But in my head I could do it all! And the more I imagined doing it all, the more I started taking little steps to get there without even blinking. It’s like I was doing it without even knowing it. 

I encourage you all to “do it” too (not the erotic trilogy thing…unless you want to…well you know what I mean). 

These are the things I fantasize about today: 

-A movie studio buys the film rights to my Year of the Chick series, with Edward Burns directing because he’s so good at those New York/conversationalist stories that include some love. 

-I meet Ryan Gosling when I’m invited to some Canadian artists’ thing he shows up to. We hit it off friendship-wise, and he says he wants to star in the movie adaptation of Last-Minute Love. I say yes because the guy I wrote the book about kind of looks like him, and then we hit it off more-than-friendship-wise… 

-I am wearing the most AMAZING Hollywood gown (but with big shiny Bollywood-style earrings to represent my culture), and I get called up TWICE at the Golden Globes. Once to accept the award for best original screenplay, and the second time when I’m named as best actress in a comedy or musical (because I don’t look too old to star in my movies myself). I cry, but my speech is hilarious and awesome and inspiring. 

Check back with me in a few years so we can see how those fantasies turned out… :-)

"In order to make anything a reality, you have to dream about it first." -Adora Svitak


About The Author

I am Canadian, and here are some strange personal facts:

-I wore denim-top-to-bottom in high school (there is a direct inverse relationship between how much denim I wore and how few tongues were launched down my throat at school dances...or anywhere in high school at all).

-A homeless lady in New York once told me "You're just a bitch on vacation with no money!"

-I always hated those insufferable couples who would cuddle and make out on the subway...until I became half of one. But now I'm back to being none of one so I hate them again.

The thing I love most in the world is writing. When I first started publishing on Amazon it was my "crazy" humour side (The Book of Awful and NOT Love Poems For Real Life). Since then, everything has focused on my Year of the Chick series, because it's the most important thing to me in the world right now. I guess that would tend to happen, when your writing is inspired by real life, including all the satisfaction and risks that come from that.

My Year of the Chick series can be described as "edgy rom-com," which helps me account for the blunt conversations and mortifying family moments in the book ;-).

Book 3 in the Year of the Chick series will be written and released in 2013; until then I have some adventures to go on!

Romi Moondi's Last-Minute Love Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win A $10 Amazon Gift Card

Contest Dates: Sept 17 - Oct 8

Everyone who leaves a comment on Romi Moondi's Last-Minute Love Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus will be entered to win a $10 Amazon gift card! Anyone who purchases their copy of Last-Minute Love before October 8th and sends their receipt to, will get five bonus entries.

Book Review

Last-Minute Love by Romi Moondi
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: June 6, 2012
Format: Paperback - 292 pages / Kindle - 441 KB / Nook - 701 KB
ISBN: 1478148144
Genre: Contmeporary Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Last-Minute Love

BUY THE SERIES: Year of the Chick

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus.

Book Description:

What's a girl to do when she meets the Internet man of her dreams, he's better than she expected, but he lives an ocean away? And let's not forget her parents,who are trying to lock her up in arranged-marriage doom...

In this fast-paced story of culture clash and romantic pursuits, there's a big fat Indian wedding, the struggle to keep a long-distance flame alive, and an unexpected mystery man who could set a new course in motion.

All the while, our heroine abandons what was once an all-consuming man-search, which helps her remember the person she used to be, and the person she hopes to become; the history-loving nerd, the hopeless romantic, and the emerging author with dreams of ditching the corporate rat race.

This is the book of living in the moment, making the grand gesture, and putting it all on the line. This is when Romi Narindra comes alive...

Book Excerpt:

(excerpt set-up: Romi’s first encounter with an intriguing new man...)

The man named Erik turned around in his chair, to reveal the warmest smile you’d ever find in a cutthroat place like New York City. I suddenly noticed the presence of dimples in that smile...not that I cared, I was simply observant when it came to these things.

“Ah Dave,” he said. “You made it!”

I furrowed my brow at his voice, trying to figure out what that European accent was. Dutch? German? Belgian? I was clueless.

My confusion didn’t end with the accent. Erik wore glasses which seemed like the epitome of banker nerdiness, but his light brown hair was all tousled like a rock star’s bed-head. He even had sideburns.

He rose from his chair and buttoned his expensive-looking jacket, as his fancy cufflinks glistened in the afternoon sun. There was a time when I would’ve gotten all hot and bothered by the glisten of a cufflink, back in the days when Laura and I would hunt for wealthy bankers in the trendiest bars. But these days? All it did was remind me of what I no longer wanted to be.

Dave extended his arm for a handshake, but Erik was having none of that. Instead it was a full-on man hug, as his frame of five-foot-eleven seemed to tower over Dave. With a perfect side view of Erik in the midst of this bromance moment, I had nothing else to do so I took a closer look. Erik’s impeccable suit was rather fitted from top to bottom. It reminded me of the way Ryan Gosling wore fitted suits at his movie premieres. Drool...On Erik this tailoring revealed a fit body. Like a runner. It was nothing like James and his burly forearms, but it was nice in its own unique way. But wait: why was I comparing him to James? This guy and his never-ending man-hug were probably gay. And why on earth was James crossing my mind in this moment? Get out, you Brit; you were only a nice idea!

My internal struggle went on as Erik made his way to Laura. “You’re more beautiful than ever,” he said warmly, in that still-so -mysterious accent. Their hug didn’t last quite as long as his hug with Dave. He's definitely gay.

When he pulled away from Laura his pale blue eyes found the doorway, where I’d managed to silently lurk all this time. I shifted my gaze to the massive window, which spared me from making any eye contact. This was a no-man trip, after all.

My Book Review:

In Year of the Chick we met sassy Indian-Canadian Romi Narindra, a twenty-seven year old non-traditionalist who embarked on a twelve month man-quest, and had been given a reprieve from being set up with a dreaded arranged marriage by her strict Indian traditionalist parents. When the story ended, Romi had met up with her internet "love" interest, English screenwriter James Caldwell in a whirlwind trip to New York City.

Now in Last-Minute Love, the second book in the Year of the Chick series, Romi has just turned twenty-nine, is still hell bent on not being set up with an arranged marriage by her parents, and has put her quest for finding love on hold in order to concentrate on following her dream to become a writer. With her parents concentrating on her sister Neema's upcoming wedding, Romi is unwillingly recruited to help in the wedding plans while Neema unleashes her inner Bridezilla. A quick escape trip from wedding plan hell to New York City with friends, which Romi dubs the "man-free, mini-break," is anything but that when she meets Danish investment banker Erik Thomson. But Romi sets her sights on concentrating on herself this time around as she dreams about going to Paris and gets ready to self-publish her first novel, Year of the Chick. So come along with Romi as her journey continues ....

Just like in Year of the Chick, author Romi Moondi's second book in the series, Last-Minute Love was another fun read that kept me entertained and in stitches. Written in the quirky first person narrative, sassy Romi Narindra continues on her adventurous journey of self-discovery, while taking the reader along for the ride. The author does a wonderful job of seamlessly picking up the storyline where it left off in book one of the series, I really enjoyed catching up with what had been going on in Romi's life. Rich in detail and wonderful descriptions of the settings, the author once again transports her readers to Toronto and New York City. I loved the descriptions of the settings, it was like taking a virtual guided tour of the various establishments and landmarks that make up both cities. This time around, Romi's story evolves beyond her quest to find love, we actually get to see her grow as she concentrates on obtaining what she wants out of her life. The author continues to weave a humorous and endearing fictional saga that is inspired and based loosely on her life.

I loved the characters, their individual quirky personalities and fun-loving camaraderie made the story so much fun to follow. I especially loved our heroine Romi, her witty, sarcastic and downright funny personality and sense of humor kept me snickering. The supporting cast of characters, quirky dialogue and interactions, and some pretty hysterical antics makes this book and the Year of the Chick series a thoroughly engaging and entertaining read. I look forward to reading the third book in the series, I can't wait to see what new adventures Romi will take us on!

Last-Minute Love is a fun-loving, laugh-out-loud story that celebrates the inner spirit of a young woman as she journeys down the road of life. Filled with humor and heartwarming moments, this story will make you smile and might even bring out your own inner sassiness!


Thursday, September 27, 2012

Empty Net (The Assassins Series - Book 3) by Toni Aleo (Author Guest Post / Contest Giveaway / Book Review)

In association with Reading Addiction Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Toni Aleo, author of Empty Net!

Author Guest Post

A Day In My Writing Life 
by Toni Aleo

My day starts early; midnight to be exact. I go to my job as an at home nurse and work for 8 hours. Once I am done, my day really begins.

I come home and see the mess my family has made while I was gone or in my writing cave. Disgusted, I proceed to get my little people ready for school. Mikey is seven, hates getting ready for school, and would much rather watch Ben 10. Alyssa is four and would rather sleep than do anything Mommy wants.

The kids are dropped off and I head back home.

I am face down, in my bed, passed out.

I ... am ... hungry ... rawr.

Finally having had a chance to eat, I'm ready to start my author work. I get online; check my Facebook, Twitter, blog, sales, and my reviews on Amazon, B&N, and GoodReads. After all that, I do any work that I need to do; posting or answering emails, just normal stuff.

Now, the fun stuff starts. My characters have been going nuts in my head for the past 24 hours and are ready to be written. I sit down; have my phone beside me and a tall glass of water. I look at the screen and off I go.

"I can't stop now!"
This is what I usually scream when this time rolls around. Gotta go get the kids.

My house is a nut case. Everyone is looking for dance shoes, soccer cleats, ice skates, or something else that is needed for that afternoon's activity.

We leave for the activity. if it's Mikey's day, then Alyssa plays on his DS while I try to finish the chapter I started earlier. If it's Alyssa's, then Mike does homework while I am writing.

While dinner is being made, I am reading my last chapter, yelling at the kids to clean their rooms, do their homework, and stop fighting. Yes, in that order.

My husband comes home and everything gets louder.

We sit down for dinner.

Baths and kids go to bed. Husband and I snuggle while watching hockey or our shows.

Husband goes to bed and I continue to write.

I've usually fallen asleep on my keyboard.

My alarm goes off telling me to go to work and I haven't even finished what I was doing.

Then it all starts over again!

About The Author

I am a wife, mother, and hopeless romantic.

I have been told I have anger issues, but I think it's because of my intense love for hockey!

I am the biggest Shea Weber fan ever, and can be found during hockey season with my nose pressed against the Bridgestone Arena's glass, watching my Nashville Predators play!

When my nose isn't pressed against the glass, I enjoy going to my husband and son's hockey games, my daughter's dance competition, hanging with my best friends, taking pictures, and reading the latest romance novel.

I love things that sparkle, I love the color pink, and did I mention I love hockey?

Toni Aleo's Empty Net Virtual Book Tour Event On Reading Addiction Blog Tours

Virtual Book Tour Contest Giveaway

Win An eBook Copy of Empty Net

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Empty Net Book Trailer

Book Review

Empty Net by Toni Aleo
Publisher: Toni Aleo / Self Published
Publication Date: September 3, 2012
Format: eBook - 353 pages / Kindle - 780 KB / Nook - 1 MB
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Sports - Hockey

BUY THE BOOK: Empty Net (The Assassins Series - Book 3)

BUY THE SERIES: The Assassins Series

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Reading Addiction Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Definition of an Empty Net: When a team pulls the goalie for an extra attacker, desperately seeking a goal.

Audrey Parker was in a horrible place.

She hated her job, her sister was getting married and moving out, but worst of all, she was in love with a total jerk. No matter what she did, every guy she met hurt her. All she wanted was her happily ever after. Her Prince Charming. Her Lucas Brooks! She didn’t know how to change her life but she knew she needed too. Feeling like she was about to hit rock bottom, Audrey wakes up next to Tate Odder.

Tate Odder had lost everything.

After being brought up from the Assassins’ farm team, the Florida Rays to the Nashville Assassins, Tate hopes he’ll forget everything he has lost. He doesn’t. Each day gets harder to live in a place he doesn’t know. Even being the first rookie goalie to shut out an opposing team three times during the Lord Stanly Cup Finals, he still felt empty. With the loss of his parents and sister still heavy on his heart, Tate isn’t sure how to live like everything is okay.

But when he wakes up beside Audrey Parker, things start to change. She turns his life upside down with her kooky sense of humor and her bright clothing. She is intelligent and beautiful, and for once, he doesn’t feel empty.

Will Audrey be the person to fill the holes in Tate’s heart, making him whole again?

Or will another player ruin everything, leaving him feeling forever like an empty net?

Book Excerpt:

“I have to tell you,” she said with a shy grin, “It’s usually not this easy.”

He looked down at her questionably, “Easy how?”

“This easy to pick me up. I usually make guys work for it.”

He grinned and her smiled grew more, “So you want me too?”

She eyed him, her face bright with excitement. He may have been a little too forward but he was a blunt person, and hardly ever hid his feelings from anyone. 

She moved closer, her eyes bright with lust as she said, “I do and I don’t even know you’re name.”

“Do you want to know it?” he asked with a cocky grin.

She moved in close, her wide brown eyes locked with his, “All I want to know is when you can leave? I have a room not even a mile from here.”

My Book Review:

Just when you think The Assassins Series couldn't get any better, author Toni Aleo strikes again with the third book in the series, Empty Net is one hot slap shot of a story!

Now it's Audrey and Tate's turn to tell their story ...

Audrey Parker's life isn't what she wants it to be: she hates her job and doesn't have the best track record when it comes to picking men. She has just gotten out of an abusive relationship with Levi, who only used her for the sex. She has a lot of insecurities and finding her very own Prince Charming with the "happily ever after" ending hasn't been in the cards ... that is until she meets Nashville Assassins goalie Tate Odder.

Tate Odder is a twenty-one year old hockey player from Sweden, who was traded to the Nashville Assassins as their new rookie goalie. Tate is trying to fit in with his new surroundings and team, but he's struggling over the loss of his parents and sister in a car accident back in Sweden. Feeling alone, Tate is trying to put his life back together again, and when he sees Audrey Parker across the bar, he knows she might be the one that could help him get over the emptiness that he feels inside.

When one night's steamy hook-up happens between Audrey and Tate, can a relationship blossom or will insecurities and past personal issues get in the way?

Empty Net is the story of two lonely people who have lost all hope of ever finding their happily ever after, only to find each other, fall in love, and struggle to overcome their insecurities and past personal issues in order to make their relationship work. Dramatically written in the third person narrative, the author easily draws the reader in to follow Audrey and Tate's love story. Author Toni Aleo continues to take her readers on an emotional roller coaster ride with this latest installment in The Assassins Series, you can't help but feel for Audrey and Tate as they learn to deal with their personal issues as their relationship develops. These two lonely people don't have an easy road ahead, they both have a lot of personal issues that they need to overcome: Audrey is older than Tate, she can't have children and she doesn't trust people; while Tate has to overcome the overwhelming loss of his family and is determined to make Audrey see that they could have their happily ever after ending.

The author continues to captivate her readers with some really great hockey scenes, true hockey fans will appreciate her fanatical passion for the sport, the fast pace action and drama of the game is riveting, she has a way of transporting you to the hockey arena where you can literally feel the electricity of the game. And I would be remiss if I didn't mention the very steamy and passionate sex scenes, oh my goodness, my imagination went into overdrive, one word ... cupcakes ... it doesn't get any better than that! *wink wink*

I really love the cast of characters in this series, they are all realistic, complex, and fascinating people that you can't help but get drawn into their lives. I love how the author includes the characters from the previous books into the new book, the continuity of their stories flows smoothly and intertwines with the new storyline but it doesn't overtake the next couple's story. I was completely captivated by Audrey and Tate's story, my emotions ran the gamut as they struggled with their issues, and my pulse raced with the sizzling chemistry and passion that they had for each other. And if that isn't enough, the author leaves the reader with a cliffhanger that leads into the next book in the series, Blue Lines, that will feature Piper's story ... nothing like leaving us hanging ... *sigh*

Empty Net is a sassy, sexy, and dramatic romance story that will keep you entertained and wanting more. Like the old saying goes ... you can't just stop with one ... The Assassins Series will draw you into the fascinating sport of hockey where you'll be introduced to the Assassins family of very hot hockey players and the strong passionate women that love them ... you'll never look at hockey in the same way after reading these sizzling books!


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Memories by Deanna Lynn Sletten (Author Interview / Contest Giveaway / Book Review)

In association with Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Deanna Lynn Sletten, author of Memories!

Author Interview

Welcome to Jersey Girl Book Reviews Deanna! 

Before we get to the interview, can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

I was a California girl who moved to a farm in northern Minnesota in my late teens and have lived in this state ever since (although I will always be a California girl at heart). When I was in college, majoring in accounting, I was encouraged by my English professors to pursue writing and I've had the writing bug ever since. I have published hundreds of non-fiction articles in newspapers, small magazines and on women's websites, but my first love has always been novel writing. Nine months ago I turned my focus to self-publishing novels and haven't looked back. I've published three novels, two are women's fiction and one is a middle-grade action/adventure novel.

How long have you been a writer?

I've been publishing non-fiction articles for over 20 years as well as writing novels during this time. I've only recently self-published those novels.

Do you have a day job, or is being an author your career?

Over the years I've had several "day jobs" but my goal was always to become a full-time writer. For the past three years, I earned my living as a full-time freelance writer of non-fiction articles (I had been doing this for years before but only part-time) but now I have changed my focus to writing novels full-time. It's been a long time coming, and I feel lucky to be able to write fiction full-time.

What inspired you to become a writer? Describe your journey as a writer.

As I mentioned before, I had two college English professors who encouraged me to change my major from accounting to writing. After that I began to take writing seriously and a couple of years later I sold my first article to a regional parenting publication. By then I was a mother and worked part-time around my husband's full-time job, so I had to use every available second to spend time on writing. I wrote non-fiction articles for newspapers, print media and then websites off and on for years in-between raising two children and working part-time jobs. I also completed two of my novels during this time. I was able to finally pursue a full-time writing career three years ago and then I decided it was time to finally follow my dreams and publish the novels I'd written.

Please give a brief description / storyline about Memories.

Memorie is a love story that spans a lifetime. Michael and Dana met years ago when he was still struggling with returning from his tour in Vietnam and she was only 18 years old. The are separated and years later run into each other again, only Michael doesn't understand why Dana holds so much hate for him. As their lives continue to intertwine because of Dana's job, their story unfolds and the deep connection they still feel for each other is hard to fight. There are many twists and turns in their story, but this is the basic setup for the novel.

What was the inspiration for this story?

I started writing a love story and it soon evolved into a more complicated story about the lives of these two people and the tragedies they face. I knew I wanted Michael to be a Vietnam Veteran, so I had read many autobiographies of Vietnam Vets in order to create a realistic background for Michael. Once I was deep into the story, I realized that this was turning into more than a simple love story – which is a good thing because it is a romance/drama all packed into one.

How did it feel to have your first book published?

All of my books are self-published, but no matter how you publish, it always feels like a major accomplishment. Just completing an entire novel is an accomplishment, let alone publishing it for others to read.

Do you write books for a specific genre?

Not really. Memories and Widow, Virgin, Whore are both women's fiction but one is a romance and the other is a family drama. I have also written a middle-grade action/adventure historical novel. I write the stories that come to me, not stories to fit a particular genre.

What genres are your favorites? What are some of your favorite books that you have read and why?

I read books in all genres, especially women's fiction, romance-comedy, mystery, horror, paranormal and historical. I also love a few of the classics like Jane Eyre and The Great Gatsby. The most recent books I've read and enjoyed were Yellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim, Daughters by Elizabeth Buchan and Leaving Serenity by Alle Wells. They are all wonderfully written books with good, solid stories.

Do you have a special spot/area where you like to do your writing?

I keep my laptop on my dining room table where there are two large windows so I can enjoy the sunshine even in the winter. Our parrot's cage is also right next to me so she talks to me sometimes while I'm writing. In the summer, I also like to go out to the patio table and write on nice days.

How do you come up with the ideas that become the storyline for your books?

Ideas come to me from all around. An idea may come to me from a song, a conversation or even a news story. I'm a people watcher, and I notice the small details in a person's personality that others may miss. I see or hear certain situations, then wonder "What if?" That may lead to an idea for a novel. I usually think through my novels for a few months before even starting them. Once I actually start writing, I know exactly who my characters are and what they are going to do.

When you write, do you adhere to a strict work schedule, or do you work whenever the inspiration strikes?

I try to sit down to write at least two hours each day and then again for two to four hours each night. But, I am usually thinking about it all the time when I'm doing mindless chores like laundry, cleaning or cooking. That way, when I do finally sit down to write, I know exactly where my story is going.

What aspects of storytelling do you like the best, and what aspects do you struggle with the most?

Quite honestly, I like working on all aspects of storytelling. I enjoy creating the characters and situations as well as any research I need to do for the story. It's after the novel is written when the boring work begins. Editing can be tedious, especially after you've read your own work ten times. I don't mind editing for changes in the story, but I don't always find every error or misspelling. I've found that having a proofreader or editor is the best way to find all the errors.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not writing?

I love traveling. I also enjoy going out on the lake in our boat on a nice, sunny day or walking the forest trails around our home with my dog.

What is/was the best piece of writing advice that you have received?

A successful author once said to just write without thinking of errors so you can get the story written before you lose your inspiration. You can always go back and edit, but if you let little mistakes get in your way, you will never finish writing your book.

What is the most gratifying thing you feel or get as a writer?

I just love being able to share my stories with readers and hear that they have enjoyed them. Having the ability to entertain other people with my stories is the greatest reward of all.

How do you usually communicate with your readers/fans?

I communicate with readers through several social media sites as well as my blog. My readers can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and my blog. I enjoy hearing their thoughts about my books as well as the other authors and books they enjoy.

Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences or are they purely all from your imagination?

No, this book is not based on real-life experiences but it would be hard to write a story like Memories without adding a little of your own experiences into it. I've put a couple of places that I've visited in the story as well experiences that either I, or another person I've known, has experienced. We've all felt love, loss and heartache at some point in our lives, so those are experiences that show in the novel. However, this book is mostly written from my very active imagination.

What authors have been your inspiration or influenced you to become a writer?

I wouldn't say that any particular author influenced me to become a writer and I don't think any inspire my style of writing because I try to use my own voice when writing. However, I am an avid reader and I'm sure my love of reading is part of what influences me to write. I enjoy many authors from different eras, such as Charlotte Bronte, Louisa May Alcott and F. Scott Fitzgerald. I also enjoy current authors such as Elizabeth Buchan, Anne Rivers Siddons, Janet Evanovich, Jodi Picoult, Dan Brown and even Stephen King (loved his Tower series). Recently I've found a few indie authors whose work I admire such as Alle Wells, Ann Swann and Jan Romes. Like I said, I just love to read!

What is your definition of success as a writer?

I really believe that the ability to share stories with readers who actually enjoy them is a large measure of success. I am thrilled every time someone leaves a nice review of any of my books and I feel lucky to be able to do something I love doing. Yes, monetary success would be nice too, but it isn't the only factor that defines success as a writer – or at least not for me.

Are you currently writing a new book? If yes, would you care to share a bit of it with us?

I am currently working on a women's fiction/romance novel titled Sara's Promise that I plan to release in December 2012. Sara's Promise is a little different from the other women's fiction novels that I've written in that it isn't as much a tear jerker (however, you may still shed a tear or two) as it is a story that may give you a few goosebumps. Here is the book description that I haven't shared with anyone until today:

Do you believe in soul mates?

William Grafton had the perfect life. He had a lovely wife, Sara, and two wonderful children. But one day his perfect forever was shattered when Sara suddenly died, leaving him alone to raise his children and figure out how he would ever get through life without his one true love. Five years later, he finds himself looking into a familiar pair of blue-green eyes that remind him of Sara. The woman is the exact opposite of Sara, yet he finds himself drawn to her. But a few odd events occur that make him begin to wonder – has his Sara truly come back to him as she once promised in the form of this new woman? And can he let go of Sara to open his heart to a new love in his life and a new forever?

Does love last forever - even in death? 

Annie Paxton doesn't believe in soul mates or fate. She had watched her father die of a broken heart after her mother passed away and has since cast away any fairy tale ideas of love. Then one day she meets the man who has been haunting her dreams, and she begins to see love in a whole new light. But her dream man is still tied to his deceased wife, and Annie doesn't know if he will ever be able to break away from his past. As strange occurrences unfold, Annie wonders if William could ever truly love her for herself and not for the traits that remind him of Sara.

Were William and Annie brought together by fate, coincidence, or by Sara keeping her promise?

Thank you Deanna for stopping by and sharing a bit about yourself and your writing career with us!

About The Author

Deanna Lynn Sletten is a novelist who writes women's fiction and has also written one middle-grade fiction action/adventure novel. Her novels include MemoriesWidow, Virgin, Whore and Outlaw Heroes. She started her writing career as a freelance writer for parenting publications in the early 1990s and transitioned to writing for blogs and websites until she made the jump to novelist. Deanna is married and has two grown children. When not writing, Deanna enjoys walking the trails around her northern Minnesota home with her beautiful Australian Shepherd.

Deanna Lynn Sletten's Memories Virtual Book Tour Page On Chick Lit Plus

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Contest Dates: Sept 24 - Oct 8

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Book Review

Memories by Deanna Lynn Sletten
Publisher: Deanna Lynn Sletten / CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: February 24, 2012
Format: Paperback - 242 pages / Kindle - 375 KB / Nook - 651 KB
ISBN: 1475238339
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Chick Lit / Women's Fiction

BUY THE BOOK: Memories

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Chick Lit Plus Blog Tours.

Book Description:

Michael DeCara came home from the Vietnam War a wounded man, both physically and emotionally. He tried putting his life back together, but found civilian life difficult after all he'd experienced in Nam. Raising his young daughter, Vanessa, by himself after his wife left, he found it difficult to commit to one job or one woman for any length of time. Then he met a young woman who made him feel good about himself again and who fell in love with Vanessa as well. But then a life-changing event occurred and he had to choose between his past and the present. He chose to leave without a word to the young woman, believing he was doing what was best for her. Now, years later, she has walked back into his life and he believes they may have a second chance at love-except she hates him and he doesn't understand why.

Danielle Westerly fell in love when she was only eighteen and her heart was broken when he left her without a word. Her heartache was increased when she made a fateful decision that would alter her future, and she blamed him for her loss. Years later, she is single and has built up a successful career when she accidentally runs into the man who was responsible for her past pain. Yet, their chemistry is undeniable. Can Dani give up her anger and let go of the pain of the past and fall in love again with the man she has hated all these years? 

Dani and Michael share a journey of heartache, loss and painful memories that threaten to keep them apart. Can they break past these and finally find love again?

Book Excerpt:

Miguel DeCara lay crouched beneath the jungle bushes and vines, not quite sure where he was or what direction to go next. He knew for certain that 'Charlie' was up ahead but he had no idea how close or how far—or how many. His comrades were beside him and behind him, but the jungle's dense brush hid everyone from view. 

The smell of smoke and gunpowder assailed his senses as he clutched his M-16 tightly, listening for any movement, any sign. Without warning, all hell broke loose and gunfire flailed around him. He heard the soldier on his right yell out as the bullets hit him and the sound of another body falling in the brush to his left. Screaming and yelling surrounded him as he stood from his hiding place in time to see a Viet Cong come straight at him. Without hesitation, Miguel fired his weapon, killing his enemy. And for only a second, he looked at the dead man before him thinking how different it would have been had they met somewhere sane like New York or L.A. or even Chicago. Hell, they might have even been friends. But instead, here, they were enemies. 

"Fall back!" the commanding officer yelled from behind, and Miguel instantly doubled back in the direction he had come. Shots snapped over his head. To his left a hand grenade went off, making him veer a bit, when suddenly his left foot stepped onto a hidden mine and all he heard was ‘click’.

Michael sat straight up in bed and instinctively reached down to feel his left leg. Yes, it was still there, not completely perfect, or the same as it had once been, but there. Wiping the sweat from his face with the back of his hand, he looked around the dark room for several minutes before assuring himself he was not in Nam, it was not 1970. He was safe in his own apartment high above the Chicago lights.

My Book Review:

Love found ... love lost ... an emotional journey that brings a man and a woman together again for a second chance at love.

Danielle "Dani" Westerly was only eighteen years old when she met and fell in love with twenty-five year old Vietnam Vet Miguel "Michael" DeCara, a single father with a six year old daughter named Vanessa. Miguel had come home from a traumatizing tour in Vietnam to a wife who couldn't deal with his nightmares and didn't want to be a wife or mother any longer. Addicted to women, Miguel went from one woman to another until he meets Dani, who was spending the summer before starting college working as a waitress in a California coffee shop. Dani was able to soothe his fears by holding him in her arms until he calmed down. They had a loving relationship for a few months until a sudden event occurred in his life and without saying a word, he left Dani behind. Dani's heart was broken and filled with hatred for a man who took her youth away, and she blamed him for a fatal decision that would change her future.

Nineteen years later a chance meeting in Chicago brings Dani and Michael together again. Dani is a retail clothing merchandise buyer for a large Minneapolis department store. Michael is the owner of a family-owned coat manufacturing business, Regal Coats, with divisions in Chicago and New York. Electricity sparks between them, but Dani's hardened heart leaves Michael confused and wondering what he did to make her despise him so much.

A trail of memories will send Dani and Michael on a journey to reignite a lost love, seek forgiveness and redemption, and provide them a second chance at love.

Memories is a poignant tale of love found, love lost, and second chances that will captivate your heart and soul. The author weaves a beautiful and dramatic tale written in the third person narrative with alternating perspectives on Dani and Michael's love story.

The story opens up with Dani at Michael's funeral, then flashes back to the beginning of their relationship, leading up to their chance meeting nineteen years later and how their relationship was renewed. This touching love story takes the reader along on Dani and Michael's emotional memory woven journey, it will draw you into their lives and will pull at your heartstrings. The story is rich in detail and descriptions of the retail merchandising business and the various settings, the author easily transports the reader to California, Minneapolis, Chicago and New York. The author's descriptive writing style is phenomenal, she simply captivates your imagination and engages you to come along on the emotional roller coaster ride that is Dani and Michael's love story.

The author has created an intriguing cast of characters who are realistic and complex people that the reader can relate to. Their engaging personalities grab a hold of you with dialogues and interactions that leap off the pages. The emotions and passion between Dani and Michael are palpable, you can't help but feel for them as they deal with their past demons and relationship issues. Dani's revelation of why she despised Michael and Michael's Vietnam nightmares that still haunt him was simply heart wrenching, author Deanna Lynn Sletten sure knows how to draw out the emotions from her readers! The supporting cast of characters: Catherine and Vanessa are both wonderful additions to the storyline as their lives are intricately interwoven with Dani and Michael. This emotionally charged story is one that everyone who believes in love should read, it is a powerfully compelling story that will leave you satisfied, I could easily see this novel becoming a movie.

Memories is a beautiful story of a couple's journey to rekindle a lost love through old memories and a painful past brought to the surface and healed through the power of communication, compassion, forgiveness and redemption. This love story is one for the ages, it will resonate with you long after the last word has been read.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Carriage Trade by Lisa Deon (Author Guest Post / Contest Giveaway / Book Review)

In association with Virtual Book Tour Cafe Virtual Book Tours, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Lisa Deon, author of The Carriage Trade!

Author Guest Post

10 Things Readers Would Be Surprised To Know About Me

1) I can ride a unicycle. Okay, I used to be able to ride a unicycle. That was, after all, thirty-seven years ago. Conveniently, since I no longer own one, the ability is superfluous. In other words, do not attempt to make me prove it.

2) I'm an avid camper. And by camper I mean as long as I can camp in my travel trailer. Hooked up to electricity, and sewer/water. With WiFi. And occasionally cable TV. So, to experience an example of my style of camping, simply check into a hotel without room service, and voilĂ ! Camping the Lisa Deon way.

3) One time, at the Sundance Film Festival, I got to bartend a drink for Tom Hanks. And I told Toby McGuire where the restroom was. And I assisted a very toasted Bill Murray down the elevator and to the restroom, but I stopped at the Men's room door. And I showed Matt Perry to a seat, but he didn't like it, so I showed him to another seat. And I got to hang out in the lobby of my venue with Robert Townsend. Best of all, I got to meet Kevin Bacon, and shake his hand. So, although I've never been in a movie with The Baconmeister, my Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon is zero.

4) I know how to, and have, sheared sheep.

5) Shearing sheep is by far my least favorite ability. Sheep are stupid, and oft time like to kick you in the mouth with their dirty, dirty cloven hooves while being sheared. However, they do make very tasty chops.

6) As God as my witness, from where the sun now stands, I will shear sheep no more, forever.

7) My favorite ice cream is Baskin and Robbins Rocky Road. It’s the best Rocky Road ever, because the chocolate ice cream they use isn’t overly sweet. Otherwise I'm not a huge chocolate fan. I'd rather eat an entire sleeve of saltine crackers or a loaf of hot French bread than anything chocolate. I'm a starchoholic. Somewhere I'm sure there's a Twelve Step program, but I'm too lazy to join it. And if they serve cheese and crackers after the meeting, it defeats the purpose, right?

8) I occasionally toast marshmallows on my stove because I love them.

9) I own two Saris and wear them when a dress is required. Because I hate wearing dresses. Plus, if I'm ever trapped on the second or third floor of a building, I can use the nine yards of fabric as an escape ladder and shimmy out the window. Or tie up a bad guy. Or wrap my own mummy. Or create a very limited edition of Christo and Jean-Claude's eclectic artwork, Running Fence.

10) My first non-babysitting job was working for a man doing pony rides. I was twelve, and thought I'd died and gone to little-girl-horse-heaven. I learned from that job that ponies, specifically the Shetlands that were cast off remnants of the over-breeding pony craze of the 1950s, were devils wrapped in fur. As a whole, they were crafty little buggers who would target your foot, stomp on it, and then (and I swear that this is true) balance on one leg, lifting the other three into the air, then grind that hoof into your foot. Or so it seemed. I was, after all, twelve.

About The Author

Lisa Deon told stories for years before she ever thought of writing them down. Had it not been for the invention of the PC and Microsoft Word, she never would have, because typing was just not her thing. So much so that her first novel, written in Junior High, was dictated to a friend who was a superior typist, speller and had a much better appreciation for proper grammar and punctuation. After they parted ways, Lisa shared her tales by cornering people at cocktail parties and telling them stories until someone had to give up and go pee.

Now, with the advent of the previously mentioned technological miracles, you can enjoy Lisa's yarns in the comfort and privacy of your home and use the restroom whenever the spirit moves you, without having to formulate a creative way of escaping her clutches, like faking a heart attack or pulling the fire alarm.

If you feel it necessary, you can stalk Lisa online at Facebook or send an email to which she might answer depending on if you are actually being sincere or if she thinks you are trying to sell her diet water, erection pills, or advise her she has won the Nigerian Lottery. In any case, this "About the Author" is the only place where she talks about herself in the third person.

Offline, she has three rescue dogs, a rescue husband, a daughter in the military, a mother living in her basement (of her own free will) a beloved but seldom ridden Appaloosa and is babysitting a Bearded Dragon. Or would that be Dragon-sitting? Either way, her favorite foods are wine and popcorn, her favorite color is dog, and her favorite smell is horse. Not necessarily in that order.

Lisa Deon's The Carriage Trade Virtual Book Tour Page On Virtual Book Tour Cafe

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The Carriage Trade

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Book Review

The Carriage Trade by Lisa Deon
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing
Publication Date: June 15, 2012
Format: Paperback - 384 pages / Kindle - 773 KB / Nook 716 KB
ISBN: 1475082975
Genre: Contemporary Romance

BUY THE BOOK: The Carriage Trade

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the author in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Virtual Book Tour Cafe.

Book Description:

How do you get to a "Happily Ever After" when you can't remember where it began?

Carlin "Carlos" Farley's life is an open book. Unfortunately, she can't remember most of it. She's losing her barn manager, Bill, the guy who's been running her horse drawn carriage business while she's been in extended care recovering from an accident. Bill has always been there for her, in fact they've grown up together, but now he wants to pursue the career he put on hold and Carlin's resigned to the idea that he's leaving her.

Bill Fantazma is the kind of guy who always tries to do the right thing. But sometimes doing the right thing is not the right thing to do. He's been in charge of Carlin's care and the business he helped acquire for her, and has accepted the accident and her subsequent brain damage as a chance for a do-over, since his previous actions to attract her affection were less than honorable.

Richard Cooper appears to be the answer to their business problems. Knowledgeable about horses, willing to step in and take over the barn manager position, helpful and solicitous to Carlin, he's not put off by her sometimes bizarre and quirky behavior.

But when Richard sees an opportunity to move in and draw Carlin's affection, Bill realizes just what she means to him and must make a decision; come clean about their past and risk her anger, or step aside to allow Richard to have a romantic relationship with the woman Bill has loved all of his life.

It's a romance she can't remember and he can never forget.

Book Excerpt:


In Carlin 'Carlos' Farley's estimation, today was not the single worst day of her life; that distinction belonged to the day Bill Fantazma's grieving parents sat her down and told her about the accidental deaths of her mother, father, and big sister, along with their own precious daughter. In hindsight, had she been older than six, Carlos would have immediately recognized that day as a turning point. A significant moment in time that, upon closer examination, would have unveiled to her a future vastly different from the one she once imagined.

It was the day from her past that all other shitty days were judged against, and found to lack the same emotional shock of that particular day.

Still, today certainly counted as a day that sucked ass.

What began as a leisurely Friday off from her job as a private chef, and the promise of an enjoyable evening at her part-time job driving carriage, had, due to an over-zealous process server, morphed into a cluster fuck of epic proportions.

After being served with divorce papers, which were not scheduled to be delivered until the next day, her douche-bag, under-age-girlfriend-impregnating, dick-head of a soon-to-be-ex-husband now had her cornered in the little barn of the horse drawn carriage company owned and operated by his family. Not her first choice of locations for a showdown, and she certainly did not want their toddler son, Oscar, to be a witness to the altercation. But Bill was running late, held up at the university, unable to pick Oscar up and watch him while Carlos worked her shift driving a horse drawn carriage. Plus Jason, her future ex-husband, was not reacting in the joyous, celebratory, "I'm so happy to at last be rid of you, bitch!" manner in which she optimistically hoped he would.

Things were not proceeding the way Carlos had meticulously planned.

So here they were, her best friend, Nora Hobart, keeping Oscar busy in the office while Jason and Carlos engaged in a shouting match. The only saving grace was none of the other employees had arrived to work their shifts.

"It'll be a frigid day in Hell, missy, when I allow you to dictate what happens to our marriage!"

Jason's Australian accent made even his threats sound almost charming. But Carlos knew she had him cold. A phone call to the right people would set the wheels of justice in motion. Jason would soon be charged with statutory rape, among other crimes. Even if he wasn't found guilty of any charges, he would at the very least be deported. She figured out long ago that although it hadn't started out that way on her end, theirs was a green card marriage. Everyone concerned knew it sure as shit wasn't because he loved her.

After several years of misery, and a very intense two weeks of debate, Bill finally convinced her that she deserved better. And while Jason stomped around, flailing his arms, shouting and posturing, her heart swelled with the knowledge that, despite everything she and Bill had been through together, and separately, despite every bad thing in their shared past, somewhere ahead there was a future for them together.

"… I'll work you over until you can't walk! Now get your fat ass upstairs, and start cooking my supper, you ugly cow!" His once handsome face had lately taken on the translucent and gaunt look of a drug user. Exactly what he was using, she wasn't sure of, besides herself, of course. Because of his increasingly erratic behavior, she made sure Oscar was never alone with him. Even Jason's controlling parents had begun to curtail the time they spent in their son's company.

Carlos inhaled deeply through her nose, blowing all of her rage out across tight lips while contemplating the man she had been coerced to marry. Let's face it, she reminded herself, I only married him because he got me pregnant. Bill's parents encouraged it and I settled for him. But I don't have to settle any longer.

"I don't think so," she replied, the freedom within her grasp bolstering her resolve. And when Jason surged towards her, fists clenched at his side, shoulders back, in a feeble attempt to intimidate her, she stood her ground. 

Nose to nose, his rage radiated off of him in almost visible waves.

"If you ever lay a hand on me again, I guarantee you will end up as a bad smell in the high Uintas. It's a well documented fact that people get lost in the mountains all the time, Jason. If you dare touch me or Oscar again, you will become nothing more than a statistic."

"Are you going to sic that Sasquatch step-brother of yours on me? I'll press charges against him. I'll tell the cops he wanted to jump into the Poly Crips gang, and I was his initiation."

Carlos huffed out a laugh, sidestepping around Jason to get to her locker. Spinning the dial on the combination lock she noted the idea that the Docker pants and Polo shirt wearing, football playing, finance majoring, Bill Fantazma would throw his future away to jump into a gang was just the sort of asinine story that an unimaginative dumbass like Jason would cook up.

"You know he's not my brother, step or otherwise, and the only thing that's kept Bill from killing you, is me. Personally, I'm starting to re-think my policy on the situation. Having you dead would save me the trouble and expense of divorcing you." Carlos opened her locker, grabbed a lead rope, and headed for the halters hanging against the wall.

Extending his middle finger and flipping Carlos off, Jason stomped out the door, throwing a shoulder check as he passed her. Maintaining her balance, Carlos grabbed a halter big enough to fit Tony, the Belgian gelding she was driving that night. Exiting the little barn, she passed her white carriage decorated with pink and purple flowers and headed out to the covered horse pens, taking slow, deep breaths. From past experience she knew the confrontation wasn't over; he'd be back to spew more verbal abuse on her before she left to go to the carriage stand for the evening.

The crisp smell of pine shavings calmed her as she wound her way through the herd of draft horses. A pat on a plump rump here, a stroke on the neck there, she was alternately followed and nuzzled by various horses as she forged a path to Tony. Placing the halter on his enormous head, she attached the lead rope and walked him out of the gate. At the uneven sound of clanging on the concrete, she stopped and looked at his hooves. Tony was missing a horseshoe.

"Tony, do you deliberately peel off a shoe every two weeks?" With a sigh she turned the massive animal around and led him back into the pen. Removing his halter, she pressed her forehead against his muscular neck and inhaled his warm musky aroma. Grabbing his face, she placed a kiss on his soft nose, and moved on to catch Jack, her second favorite horse co-worker.

Towing Jack behind her, Carlos returned to the small barn and tied him to a rail anchored to the wall. Heading to the equipment rack, she gathered a hoof pick and brushes and began the process of grooming Jack. Once he was clean she retrieved his leather harness out of the tack room and dressed him for work. The monotony gave her a chance to reflect.

It's almost over, she told herself. Keep all the frustration in check, and focus on the future. Jason had to be served sometime, and while tomorrow would have been more convenient, at least now Oscar and I can move forward. We'll spend the weekend up at the cabin with Bill, look through the newspaper for a place to live, and move next week.

Finished with getting Jack ready, Carlos entered the driver's locker room and changed into her work clothes, consisting of black jeans, a white shirt and a dark purple vest topped off by a black cowboy hat. Her preparations complete, she opened the office door and stepped inside to get Oscar.

Nora leaned back in the office chair, feet propped on the desktop, and paged through a tack catalog while Oscar lay sprawled on the floor, coloring book open, scribbling furiously with a fat blue crayon.

"That sounded like a lot of fun." Nora flipped a dark brown braid out of her face. "Next time, hire a lawyer who doesn't work out of the basement of his mom's house and maybe the summons will arrive when it's supposed to. As it turns out, you do get what you pay for."

"Mommy!" Oscar dropped his crayons on the floor and jumped up, raising his arms. Carlos lifted her son; love for him flooding through her, as she planted a kiss on his almost white hair and parked him on her hip. He pointed out the door opening into the barn at Jack, patiently standing by the rail.

"Hish," Oscar said, displaying a toothy baby grin. 

"Horse," Carlos corrected.

"Hish!" Oscar clapped his chubby hands together. "Wide hish! Wide hish!" 

"Like mother, like son," Nora snorted. "Are you taking the little prince to South Gate with you or is he my date for the evening?" Nora walked around the desk and carefully combed Oscar's hair out of his face, the corn silk blond a stark contrast against her cocoa skin and bright red nails.

"Noowa," Oscar squealed, reaching to pat Nora's cheeks with both hands. 

"Nor-ra," Carlos absently corrected him. "No, I'll take him with me. Bill can pick him up from the hack line when he's done meeting with his professor. He should only be about an hour or so. It's early yet; I seriously doubt I'll pick up any rides between now and then."

"Has Jason figured out you're leaving him for Bill?" Nora asked, crossing her arms and leaning against the door frame.

Carlos glanced at her surroundings, cut her eyes towards Oscar, then grimaced. "That's not the reason I filed for divorce, Nora. Brandy is sixteen, and pregnant. My husband is the father. I'm done."

"Underage was never a problem for you where Bill was concerned," Nora smirked.

"There wasn't twenty years difference between us," Carlos replied, "only three." Switching Oscar to her right hip she continued, "Whose side are you on, anyway? Are you jumping over to Team Jason?"

"No, but I want you to be careful." Nora gave her friend a knowing look. "And smart. I don't want to see that ass-hat put you in the hospital. Or the morgue. Get moved out as soon as you can. You have a tribe of friends to help, you know?"

An unexpected rush of blood flushed north to Carlos's face induced by a mix of embarrassment and gratitude at Nora's remark and tears welled up in her eyes. She did have a support network of friends. She was not as alone as she had believed for the last several years.

"There you go again," Carlos sniffed back her tears, trying to sound tough, "bossing me around as usual." But the hand she laid on Nora's arm and squeezed left no doubt as to her gratitude.

Turning, Carlos hitched Oscar higher on her hip and headed out to her carriage where she settled Oscar in the passenger compartment.

"Stay, baby," she instructed him.

Collecting Jack from his position on the hitching post in the barn, she proceeded to ground drive him out and harness him to the carriage. When Carlos finished she climbed onto the carriage and patted the spot on the driver's seat next to her. "Up here, Oscar," she said, and watched as her nimble son scrambled up over the upholstered seats onto the driver's box next to her.

"Hish," Oscar said, pointing at Jack.

"Walk on, Jack," Carlos instructed the enormous animal.

Jack stepped out and they headed down the carriage company driveway. After passing the stock trailer parked alongside the building Carlos felt the carriage sway. Turning, her heart sank to see Jason, smarmy look on his face, seated in the passenger compartment.

"Jack, ho," Carlos told the gelding.

"Get out!" she ordered her husband. 

"Jack, walk on," Jason said to the horse.

Carlos tightened the lines, silently instructing Jack to stand still.

The barn office door burst open and Nora emerged, two hundred pounds of attitude and barely controlled animosity. "Problems?" she queried.

Carlos shook her head at Nora.

"Let's go for a little carriage ride, Carlin. I want to talk about that brother of yours. You know, the one you're leaving me for."

Nora and Carlos locked eyes. Sorry, Nora mouthed. Carlos shrugged her shoulders and Nora faded back into the building. Glancing down at Jason she replied, "Once again, not related to me in any manner, we just grew up in the same house." Carlos slacked the lines and clicked at Jack. The big horse stepped forward.

"You think you have this all figured out, don't you?"

At Jason's comment, Carlos swiveled her body so she could watch both Jason and the road. Oscar snuggled up next to her, wrapping his little arms around her waist.

"You think you're so smart with your fancy private chef job and your butch girlfriends always hanging around, interfering with our lives. Well you know what, missy? I'll make sure every damn one of them gets fired from this place."

Carlos rolled her eyes. "That'll be interesting to see. Your folks won't have any employees by the time you get through firing all of my friends. Not to mention the ones that'll just quit. Nobody can stand you, Jason. Nobody will stand by you, either. In the end you'll be exposed as the pathetic excuse for a man that you are."

"Is that so?"

Carlos ignored him, snaking her arm around Oscar to tuck him closer to her side. She had no intention of allowing Jason to ruin her life any more than he already had. As Jack plodded down the almost deserted street, she shut out his ranting and focused on piloting the horse and carriage. Turning, she steered Jack as far to the right side of the lane as possible, keeping out of the main flow of traffic.

"Oscar, come down here son. Come to Daddy," Jason cajoled, followed by a slapping sound.

Carlos felt Oscar turn around. Looking over her shoulder she watched Jason repeat the words and action again, slapping his hands against his thighs.

"He's not a dog, you monkey-fucker," Carlos snapped at Jason. 

Money-fuffer!" Oscar squealed, attempting to escape his mom's grasp and climb into the passenger compartment. Carlos edged closer to the curb as a car passed.

"Nice mouth," Jason snarled, motioning Oscar to come.

"No, baby-doll," Carlos corrected, "muf-fa-ler. Muffler."

"Muf-fa-ler," Oscar yelled triumphantly as he wriggled away from his mother and scrambled across the seats to Jason's lap.

"That's a good boy." Jason stroked Oscar's hair. "You stay right back here with me, son, where I can keep an eye on you. You and your mom aren't going anywhere. I will make sure she never gets to spend another day in your presence if she ever thinks she can pull a stunt like divorcing me."

The chill Carlos experienced could have been attributed to the shade of the building they passed by, or it might have been due to Jason's threat. Carlos shook it off, and turned to look at Jason.

"I'm leaving you," she said through gritted teeth, "I've had it with your lies, your drugs, and you’re fucking anything that can't outrun you. I know you will never change. I'm taking Oscar with me, and he'll finally have a father who's a role model, not a horrible example." They approached the overpass, and Carlos checked for traffic then veered out of the far right lane and into the left turn lane.

"I know you've been with Bill, and you're dreaming if you think for one minute I'll just let you walk away from me, and take my child with you," Jason's voice rose and took on a mocking tone as he spoke. "Bill's parents will never allow the two of you to be together; you'll never be good enough for their son. You're nothing but trash to them. A burden. A constant reminder of what they lost, getting stuck with you instead."

A pickup truck loaded with scrap metal rattled past, and Jack flinched a little. 

"Easy, boy," Carlos softly intoned.

Closing her eyes, she shut out the image Jason was creating, trying to replace it with the look on Bill's face when she finally told him she would divorce Jason. His eyes shining with emotion, the relief on his face and her realization that he worried about her constantly. And the sudden burden lifted from her soul when she finally committed herself to a future with him.

Oscar's fussing yanked her out of her reverie.

"Lo go, Daddy!" Turning, Carlos watched as Oscar struggled to get out of Jason's grip, wanting to climb back up onto the box with her.

"Jason, let go of him," Carlos requested. Her heart jumped as she watched Jason grab Oscar's arm and wrench him onto the seat beside him. Oscar's scream sounded of both pain and fear.

"Stop hurting him!" Carlos yelled, her voice lost in the sound of a revving engine. Reaching for the carriage whip, she held it aloft, ready to hit Jason with it should the need arise.

"Wan Mommy!" Oscar cried, sliding off the seat and reaching his arms up towards his mother.

"Look out!" The warning shout came from the office building they'd just passed. She looked to her right and saw a man standing at a window, waving and pointing. She snapped her head to the left just in time to see the delivery truck bearing down on them slam into the carriage.

And then there was nothing.

My Book Review:

The Carriage Trade is a poignant romance story about a woman who has suffered a brain injury and lost her family in a tragic accident, and her struggle to get her life back on track with the help of a good friend who has been in love with her for a long time but doesn't realize it until it may be too late. Written in the third person narrative, the reader follows the story of Carlin "Carlos" Farley and Bill Fantazma, from their friendship and business relationship, to the aftermath of Carlin's accident and struggle to recover, to the discovery of a love that has simmered beneath the surface.

Rich in detail and descriptions, the author provides the reader with an intriguing look into the horse carriage business, the realistic struggles a person goes through when recovering from a traumatic brain injury and physical disabilities, and a longtime friendship that has to overcome buried secrets and a dark past in order to allow a chance for love.

The author has created a cast of complex characters whose diverse personalities leap off the pages, you can't help but get drawn into their story and embrace their struggles and feelings. The characters' dialogue and interactions are realistic and engaging, the author transports you into their lives as they deal with real life issues. Note that there is strong language throughout the story, I personally don't have a problem with this, but I thought I would give a heads up to forewarn readers who do not like to read stories with explicit language.

The Carriage Trade is a realistic story that has a serious tone mixed in with the humor and the romance. It is a compelling story that will take you on an emotional roller coaster ride full of twists and turns that will keep you engaged and guessing until the end.