Your Secret Library - Romance Edition 2019

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Your Secret Library


Romance Reading Magazine

romance reading magazine Executive Editor/Editor-in-Chief - Laurence O’Bryan Associate Editor - Tanja Slijepčević Graphic Designer - Mirna Gilman Ranogajec

Produced by BooksGoSocial 5 Dame Lane Dublin 2


04 Editor’s Letter 12 Articles 13 Is It a Romance or A Love Story? By Dana Wayne 16 Dear Romantically Diffident: Resurrect Romance. You’ll be happier. By Evy Journey 20 Those Devilish Details By Holly Bargo

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Table of contents

25 Book Excerpts 26 Something Good by Darlene Deluca 32 Tough Karma: A Race Against Time by Laura Simmons 38 Joyride to Hellhole by Robert Solem 44 Redemption of the Heart By Moni Boyce

48 Short Stories 49 Surfaced by Amy J. Markstahler 54 In Love with Monty Python by Maria Riegg 59 Prince in Blue by Cynthia Helwig - Putorti

67 Book Reviews 68 Bluegrass Bend by Mandy Magro 71 Sylvester – from Dastard to Darling in Historical Hilarity By Holly Bell


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You are very welcome to our Romance magazine ‘19! Romance novels have always been one of the bestselling genres in literature. No wonder - who can resist a good love story? From historical, sweet romances, with a little bit of suspense, and some fantasy, we have an eclectic mix of romantic reads for you! We start with the eternal question - what is a romance, and what is a love story? Author Dana Wayne explores what makes the romance genre so popular. Author Evy Journey encourages us to find more romance in our daily lives. Holly Bargo explores why details are so important in a story, and why they can make it or break it.


Are you a fan of Monty Phyton? Apparently, it can lead to a woman’s heart. Read about it in Maria Riegg’s short story.

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Discover your new favorite read by reading excerpts Darlene Deluca’s contemporary romance, or a time travel adventure by Laura Simmons. If you like a bit of mystery and suspense, don’t miss an excerpt from Joyride to Hellhole by Robert Solem.

This and much more in our new Romance magazine! And if you have any ideas for articles or things you would like to see covered in our magazines, let me know. Tanja Slijepcevic Editor in Chief Romance Magazine 2019


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A Promise of Fireflies (Whisper of the Pines Book 1) by Susan Haught Kristin Hannah fans will love this powerful, emotional story. Devastated by a failed marriage and secrets her mother took to the grave, Ryleigh ees to a mountain resort. A paralyzing snowstorm strands her with Logan, the resort owner with demons of his own. Two lost souls ďŹ nd comfort in each other, but their pasts may be too powerful to escape.

Whispering Hands by Wysteria Wilde An explosion killed my parents and left me scarred for life. One nightmare after another tried to destroy me. An empty canvas was my redemption. That, and the man who broke my heart. To me, he was my savior. To the world, he was my brother. Either way, he broke me again and again and again.

Whispers Among the Prairie by Michelle Roberts Romance across the prairie lands of the American West between a Cheyenne maiden, Morning Dove and a US Cavalry Captain Clinton McKay. They hide their feelings from each other being on opposing sides of a war. What will they do will they submit to an unjust society or will they follow their hearts? Come and join their journey. 6

Mistress Suffragette by Diana Forbes

Healing Her Heart: An Interracial Romance BWWM by Kimberly Smith

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During a glittering age where a woman’s reputation is her most valuable possession, a young suffragette must decide whether to compromise her principles for love, lust, and the allure of an easier life. Winner of 19 awards, including the Garcia Memorial Prize for Best Fiction Book of the Year and first place in the Missouri Romance Writers of America (RWA) contest for Women’s Fiction.

Denise is used to keeping men at a distance, but somehow the Edwin breaks down the wall she has built around her heart and proves that his special medicine will cure what ails her. omething about the spunky inappropriate woman calls to Edwin and he can’t resist the attraction he feels for her.

The Queen of Paradise Valley by Cat Dubie Forced into a gunshot wedding and a partnership to run a vast Colorado ranch, Diana and Del dislike, distrust, but can’t deny their physical attraction to each other. Two strong-willed people, two opposing views—their tempestuous battles become as legendary as the land they both love and must fight together to save. 7


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Romance Reading Magazine

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Romance Reading Magazine



here is no question the romance genre dominates the book industry. Just look at the statistics: over 1 billion dollars in sales each year, accounting for almost 46% of the fiction market. A solid quarter of bestsellers are romance. Harlequin, one of the world’s leading romance publishers, issues over 100 titles a month in 34 languages on six continents and have shipped

more than 6.38 billion books worldwide. Romance readers are, by far, the most dedicated fans. General fiction readers may go through 1-3 books a year, while romance readers do that in a week. Or less. The rule of supply and demand sent authors who previously put out a book every year or so, to producing two and three titles a year.

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Is It a Romance or A Love Story? By Dana Wayne


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The romance element is a staple in all types of literature from thriller to mystery to suspense and everything in between. So when is it a romance and not a love story? A romance novel has clear and demanding expectations. While readers may allow for a certain amount of creativity from the author, key rules are etched in stone. It must have a great hero and heroine. Sacrifices must fall on both parties, not just one, be it personal, financial, or professional. And, of course, they must face challenges, sometimes seemingly insurmountable. How can she fall in love with the son of her family’s sworn enemy or the man who bought the family farm and turned it into a resort? Everyone knows what’s going to happen in the end. It’s the journey that matters – not the destination. The rough and rocky road they must travel to HEA (happily ever after) is why readers buy the book. Love and HEA will prevail. As far as I am concerned, Pride and Prejudice is the quintessential romance. Lizzie


and Mr. Darcy face all sorts of obstacles over a period of time before their HEA. I have traveled that road with them many times and will do so again. For a true romantic (like me), the story never gets old. On the flip side, the movie Love Story is just that - a love story. Why? Because it breaks the cardinal rule of romance; someone, the hero or the heroine, dies. With death, there is no HEA. The search for true love can be played out against any background; past, present or even future. It can be reality based or pure fantasy, this world or one conjured in the writer’s vivid imagination. As long as the essential elements of your specific genre are followed, whether your goal is pure romance or an enticing love story, there are readers who can’t wait to walk the path with you. Personally, I think we need more romance in our lives. We live in a hectic, stress-filled world. Reading, particularly a romance novel, takes us away for a while, allows us to forget our toils and troubles,

We need that underlying message of hope and encouragement. The good guy wins. The heroine finds her hero, proving it is possible to overcome any obstacle in your way, achieve success, and find happiness.

D a n a Wayne is an award-winning author and 6th generation Texan and resides in East Texas with her husband (and biggest fan) a Calico cat named Katie, three children and four grandchildren. She routinely speaks to books clubs, services organizations, writers groups and other organizations on writing and publishing.

was fascinated at how someone could paint a picture with words so vivid, I saw it in my mind. That’s when I knew that one day I would be a writer. It wasn’t until I retired in late 2013 that I was able to devote the necessary time to achieving my goal. I published my first book 2016 and never looked back. My stories are heartwarming, a little spicy, and all about the romance because I believe romance is more about emotion than sex, and the journey is more important than the destination.” She is a member of Romance Writers of American, Texas Association of Authors and Writers League of Texas as well as several local writers groups.

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and live vicariously through the author’s words. And we know that, no matter what happens, no matter how bleak things are, in the end, love will prevail. There will always be a happily ever after.

She can be reached on social media, through her website, www. or via email at

“I grew up listening to my father read from a stack of paperback westerns beside his chair. I


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Dear Romantically Diffident: Resurrect Romance. You’ll be happier. By Evy Journey Sto use ome years ago, to learn how Windows Movie Maker,

I borrowed movie clips and music that I cobbled together for some sort of makeshift music video. Stripped of other scenes and selected for their relevance to the music I chose to pair them with, the videos crystallized the themes of love and romance. Then a funny thing happened as I was watching my finished pieces. I realized I was a sucker for romance. I never thought so before. My tastes for films trend towards the depressing, the foreign, the unusual and the cerebral, at least as attested to by Netflix recommendations. But I admit that a simple love story can leave me warm and fuzzy. Unsentimental, unvarnished and in which sexy scenes, when used, are


not gratuitous. Unfortunately, such love stories are rare in films. If any comes close, it’s likely to be a period piece from England.

As a culture, we tend to be uneasy about romantic love. Sex, yes, of course. Always a draw. But emotions communicated in longing aching gestures are too subtle for most of us. We label them as romantic, giving ourselves

permission to dismiss them. We prefer the tingling of heaving bodies. I like heaving bodies as much as the next person and I believe there can be romance in sex. Still, many other western cultures don’t seem as queasy as we are about desire trapped in sighs of yearning or smoldering eyes. As much as we need sex for pleasure and procreation, romance is, I think, even more essential. It gives us longer lasting joy, makes us more humane.

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Hollywood films often bear little relationship to the experience of real people. They contrive scenarios and beautiful people who jump into the sack at some point just to titillate the audience.

Romance can mean different things to different people. But whatever meaning you give it, romance is transcendent, a quality that sets it apart. Here’s one online dictionary defining romance: love idealized for its purity or beauty; a mysterious, exciting, sentimental, or nostalgic quality; a spirit of adventure, excitement, or mystery. Don’t these words speak to the best traits in ourselves? Positive traits we all can draw upon. We value many things that nourish our souls: art and music, or religion and philosophy, for instance. We embrace these things more 17

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openly; so, why not resurrect romance? Why are we uneasy? Here is what Nathaniel Branden, a therapist and former lover of writer Ayn Rand, says in his book The Psychology of Romantic Love: “Romantic love can be terrifying. We experience another human being as enormously important to us. So there is surrender— not a surrender to the other person so much as to our feeling for the other person. What is the obstacle? The possibility of loss. Need creates a vulnerability that can be frightening and enraging. Romantic love is not for children. Ten-year-olds can’t have romantic love and neither can a 35-year-old whose view of his self-interest is fit for a 10-year-old.” I would say, neither is romantic love for the birds. Like language, it separates us from all other living things. But our fear of loss is quite strong. We not only fear losing the other but also losing control, a scarier prospect for many. Still, letting go and making a mess of things, while only human, can be exciting, mysterious, adventurous; in


other words, romantic. So, why not resurrect romance? Evy Journey writes Women’s Fiction, an amorphous category of stories written mostly for women, from a woman’s point of view, as varied as that is. Evy has a Ph.D. in psychology so her fiction deals more with angst in loving than with heaving bosoms. Her stories go deep into the hearts and minds of characters coping with the problems and issues of contemporary life. She does occasionally titillate with scenes that hit you in the gut and make you catch your breath. Mainly, though, she probes into the many faces of love, loss , second chances, and finding one’s way. Often, they’re laced with a twist of mystery or intrigue. Her approach probably won’t appeal to hard-core romance readers -- if angst is not your thing. Evy is also a wannabe artist, and a flâneuse who wishes she lives in Paris where art is everywhere and people have honed aimless roaming to an art form. She has lived in Paris a few times as a transient.

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Those Devilish Details By Holly Bargo

W riting quality constitutes a major issue in self-published literature. From pervasive use of passive voice to incorrect punctuation to information dumps, indie authors who don’t accept the responsibility for producing polished work not only insult their readers, but they also contribute to the degradation of an entire genre that struggles for legitimacy. Add anachronisms in speech or setting or easily researched and corrected inaccuracies, and don your asbestos underwear, because savvy readers will notice. An author’s credibility rests upon 20

getting the details right. For example, I read a book by a young author of “New Adult” romances. That author set her story on a ranch and began with the hero rancher and his brothers baling and stacking hay. Shirtless. That author instantly lost all credibility, because no one who bales or stacks bales of hay more than once ever does it without a shirt. Hay pokes, scratches, and itches. It gets everywhere. For ranchers who have been doing that all their lives … no. Just no.

How about an example not related to agriculture? An author published an erotic historical romance set in the 1840s between a Christian noblewoman and a Jewish servant. As unlikely as that would have been, the story crashed and burned when the author referred to the heroine’s panties and the zipper on the servant’s trousers. That took about 60 seconds of search engine inquiry to verify that women did not wear panties nor did pants have zippers in that time period. The importance of accurate detail bleeds into more subjective areas such as speech. The medieval hero won’t use the word hornswaggled, nor will the Regency heroine call out, “Hey, you guys!” Assume readers have a wellrounded education or at

least a sense of history and apply the appropriate speech, mannerisms, and societal conventions. For instance, it helps to know that a pre1900 journey from London to Gretna Green took at least nine days due to the limitations imposed by bone, muscle, and rutted roadways. The advice to inject even the most fantastic tale with elements of realism holds true when writing explicit scenes of sexual intimacy. If I read a sexy scene that has me tilting my head as I try to imagine the contortions that make the described action possible, then you’ve lost me and destroyed your credibility. Readers also need accurate details to effect the suspension of disbelief. If I can trust the author to know the difference between what’s factual or real and what’s not, then I gladly allow that author to take me on a flight into the improbable or impossible. The author, in short, has earned my trust to serve as my pilot. Let me down on a crucial detail--like stacking hay without a shirt-and I dismiss the author as a lazy, sloppy fool.

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Here’s another example. An author wrote of a heroine who raised alpacas. Pretty cool and uncommon, right? Then the author had the heroine harvesting fleece by combing through it and picking the fibers that came off in the comb. Again, instant loss of credibility. Alpaca fleece is harvested through shearing.

The neglect of too many selfpublished authors to ensure 21

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the elements of realism in their stories are indeed real reects badly on romance, a genre that continues to struggle for legitimacy as worthy literature. Beyond understanding the tenets of excellent writing--and knowing how and when to break them for great effect--accurate details testify to the author as an authority, a subject matter expert, someone who can be trusted. Do your research. Assume your readers are intelligent and have access to easily resourced reference materials. Get the details right. Holly Bargo is a pseudonym and really did exist as a temperamental Appaloosa mare. The author and her husband live on a southwest Ohio hobby farm amid a menagerie of four-legged beasties. They have two children, one soon to graduate from university and the other enlisted in the military. Holly Bargo works as a freelance writer and editor and has published over 20 titles within the romance genre. Her books are available through Amazon. Holly frequently writes upon the craft of writing and encourages readers to visit her blog.


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Romance Reading Magazine

Princess of Sky, Earth, Fire and Water by Cassandra Finnerty In 1772, Lady Aisling inherits an army of men and a fleet of merchant ships. But her greatest legacy is her new powers -- the ability to control sky, earth, fire and water. Thrust into a new world, she is now part of a secret society, serving as ambassador to kings and courts around the globe. Hurled onto distant shores, she meets her greatest challenge - a warrior prince whose love is so fierce that it threatens to destroy both their lives.Together, they face ruthless enemies and royal intrigue, fighting for their very survival, and a chance for enduring love. “Well written novel about a strong willed female main character named Aisling who discovers she has inherited magical power to control the elements of nature. She learns to use her powers as she sets out on a journey to fulfill the obligations required to keep those powers. As the commander of a fleet of merchants ships, she travels to Asia where she meets up with the Fifth Prince who is in need of her skills to help defeat a group of usurpers who have long been planning to dethrone the Prince’s father, King Yi...”

Unlikely Soldiers by Deb McEwan

In a small Welsh village, naïve teengager Michelle Warbutton is devastated by a shocking family secret. Forced to rethink her future, she longs to see the world. In Yorkshire and already world-weary, Guy Halfpenny is desperate to escape his miserable life. Both have limited choices. Their paths aren’t destined to cross until they join the British Army - where their futures are determined by the chain of command. Discover how lives are shaped, friendships forged and loves won and lost in this gripping, coming of age adventure of love, humour, and tragedy. Reviewed By Jack Magnus for Readers’ Favorite - 5 stars! “A fascinating and enthralling look at Great Britain in the 1970s as experienced through the eyes of Guy, a North Yorkshire teen, and Mouse, a Welsh girl. I had a marvelous time reading Unlikely Soldiers and am looking forward to the next book in the series. It’s most highly recommended.” 24

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Something Good by Darlene Deluca Too tense to sit down, Lane stood in the living room of Mandi’s trailer waiting for her to come out. When she did, he did a double-take. Her mass of curls was swept up and secured on one side with a sparkly gold clip, and the cream-colored dress she wore left both her shoulders exposed and clung in all the right places. Long earrings shimmered against her neck. With a slight tilt of her head, she offered him a soft smile. And his pulse rocketed. He wondered if she’d simply dressed for a night on the town, or if the tantalizing view was meant to taunt him, a reminder of what he’d be missing back in Austin. Could be this was the parting image she wanted him to keep when he left. He had plenty of intriguing images captured in his brain already, and they weren’t likely to fade any time soon.


Sucking in his breath, Lane took a step toward her. “You look terrific,” he said, planting a quick kiss on her colored lips. “Ready?” “Sure.” He helped her into the BMW and climbed in beside her. Within the confines of the car, her perfume teased his senses, and her bare legs

Lane gave a quick scan of the wine list. Maybe a nice merlot would take the edge off. He ordered a full bottle. When the waiter left, Mandi reached across and curled her fingers around Lane’s hand. The shy smile she gave him pulled at his heart. “Nice place,” she said. Lane took a deep breath and squeezed her hand, then picked up the menu. “Glad you like it.”

The waiter returned, and poured the wine. After they placed their dinner orders, Lane lifted his glass toward Mandi. “To you – the unexpected pleasure of working in Northtown.” Her eyes flickered toward the table before she picked up her glass and met his gaze. Lane was sure the brightness in her eyes came from unshed tears, but she smiled and tapped her glass against his. It’s what he expected her to do – put on a good front. Whether she had any real feelings for him or not, she wouldn’t acknowledge them. Her emotional scars kept her from getting close to anyone. And she’d already proven she was a survivor. She’d move on. And so would he.

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seemed only inches from his. He kept forgetting to breathe. Lane had made dinner reservations at a restaurant downtown with a spectacular view of the city. The hostess seated them near the window, and they spent an awkward few minutes simply looking out. Lane didn’t exactly enjoy the view. His mind was elsewhere, trying to figure out how to make this easier. Neither one of them had signed on for any kind of long-term commitment. Still, whatever they had together had gone beyond casual sex. He forced his shoulders down when a waiter appeared with glasses of water. “What can I get you to drink?” the man asked.

Mandi smoothed the tablecloth in front of her, the silence grating on her nerves. They’d talked about so many things. Why was it hard to start a conversation now? Couldn’t they connect fully clothed and in public? She swirled the wine in her glass. “So, are you going to tell me about your plan, or do I have to wait like 27

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everyone else?”

Mandi’s glass.

He leaned back in his chair with his wine. “No, you don’t have to wait like everyone else. You’ll be the first to know. In fact, I may want to bounce some ideas off of you,” he said. “But I haven’t got it figured out yet. Still working on the details.” She sent him a teasing grin. “If you get the job will it make you rich and famous?” “Doubtful. But it might get some national attention. And that’s what gets the next job.”

“Couple of big firms are players,” he said. “And I know some other guys are in the game. This one comes with some Federal red tape, too. I’ve got my work cut out for me.”

“What if you don’t get it?” Lane shrugged. “There’ll be other jobs. I’ve got a bid on a couple of things in Houston. Something will pan out.” Easy come, easy go, Mandi thought. He didn’t lack confidence, for sure. “What’s the competition like?” She’d seen a few other business-types in Jimmy’s over the past few weeks. Figured they could be in on the project. But none of them seemed as sharp as Lane. And none nearly as interesting. The waiter interrupted with their dinner, and Lane refilled


“And you can’t work here?” Mandi asked. Oh, my God. She could’ve bitten off her tongue along with the roasted chicken. Where had that come from? She would not pressure him. She kept forgetting that she needed him to leave for a while anyway. He couldn’t be around while she got pregnant. Lane slowly shook his head. “Wish I could, but it doesn’t make sense to pay for the hotel when I’ve got a condo and an office back home. Besides, I need my materials and my space to spread out all my research and just think.” Mandi focused on the plate in front of her. “Sure.” He reached over and grazed her arm, sending shivers down her spine. “I’ll be back, you know.” Her hand stopped mid-air. “You will?”

Her heart thumped. Would he call? Should she invite him to? She took a sip of wine and let her eyes stray toward the window again. Waiting for her pulse to return to normal. Truth was, no matter how much she’d steeled herself for his departure, she would miss Lane Whitmore. More than she cared to admit. “Mandi, look at me.” She turned, and he leaned forward, his smoky blue eyes regarding her. When he spoke again, his voice lowered to a husky bass. “What do you want me to do? Call? Keep in touch? I need to know whether you want to see me again, or whether you’d rather have a clean break. It’s up to you. I know you want outta here, want to get back to California.” The wine burned as it trickled down her taut throat. What did she want? Was it better to see him when he was available than to simply let him go and walk out of her life? She’d

already lost her best friend, and didn’t have a lot of other people in her life. In only a few short weeks, Lane had broken the monotony of her days. Made her laugh. Made her feel again. She imagined the weeks ahead without him. If he asked her to stay, would she? Would she let her dream be derailed again? No. She couldn’t do that. Her opportunity had presented itself, and she had to take it. Besides, he wasn’t asking. And he hadn’t said what he wanted, either. She pasted on a smile, and gave him the out. “Lane, I’d love to see you when you’re in town if it works in your schedule. We . . . we’re friends now, right?” The worried lines on his face relaxed, and he held her gaze. “At the very least.”

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“I may need to meet with people at city hall or the planning commission. And I’ll come up to deliver the final documents.”

As dinner wound down, Mandi’s anticipation of the rest of the night ramped up. She didn’t know whether Lane would call again, whether she’d see him again, but she knew no one had ever made her feel the way he did. When she was in his arms, all the bad stuff faded 29

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away, and she felt warm and wanted. She’d let him go, but if this was to be their last night together, she wanted it to be worthy of a memory. At her place, she leaned into him, and whispered, “You can’t spend the night, because I have to get up early.” And because she couldn’t deal with an early-morning goodbye. “But don’t go yet.” In a flash, hard lips met hers, and a warm hand pressed against her. “Wasn’t planning to,” he whispered back.

Darlene Deluca writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction, and likes to explore relationships – what brings people together or keeps them apart. Her intent is to bring to life interesting characters that readers can relate to in real-life situations that combine a little fun, plenty of drama (with perhaps a tear or two), and big helpings of friendship, love and self-discovery, and will leave you either cheering or sighing with a satisfied smile as you turn the final page. The Kansas City author currently has seven published novels. Darlene has been a reader and writer since childhood. With a degree in Journalism, she started her career as a newspaper reporter. She writes day or night, whenever the words/mood/ deadlines strike, and almost always has a cup of tea and a bit of dark chocolate nearby!

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Tough Karma: A Race Against Time by Laura Simmons T he day of the funeral Amber was outwardly stoic

and withdrawn. She had cried a million tears since her baby died and was temporarily cried out. She was tired and sore from beating the punching bag last night and immensely sad and miserable. She kept a firm hold on Bryce’s hand, fingers intertwined. He was her pillar of strength, and this was the worst day of her life. She knew she would collapse if she let go. He sensed this and made sure he was holding onto her in some manner the entire time. Jenny’s husband, Zac, thought about the DNA test and watched how they interacted with each other. If he didn’t know better, he would have thought they were a loving couple who lost their baby. It seemed to him they were meant to be together, and he hoped the test would come back negative.

Mike Collins frowned at the way Bryce fawned over her…It’s my turn to have a chance with her. He hovered around her at James’s funeral too. It’s going to be difficult because she doesn’t work at the restaurant anymore and I rarely get to see her. I know he wants her, it’s written all over his face. And they’re cousins,

**** She didn’t want a reception after the funeral because she knew she couldn’t have handled it. Bryce stayed by her side as the mourners lined up to offer condolences. She used every ounce of strength not to fall apart and appreciated the support from her family and friends, thanking everyone as they left the burial site. The afternoon was overcast and cloudy which made the situation feel even sadder. Standing in front of the tiny casket with dark clouds rolling in, it was eerily quiet. A cool wind was picking up and blowing her hair into her face. She wore a black, sleeveless dress and was beginning to feel the chill. Turning to face him so the breeze would blow past her she said, “I don’t

want to leave,” and broke into tears. “I want to take her with me. We can put her casket next to my bed, and I can see her every day. I don’t want her little body eaten by maggots!” she stated angrily, crying and trembling. Taking her into his arms, he said tenderly, “You know we can’t do that. You have to let her go. I wish I could say something that would take away your pain.” His heart was breaking for her, and he closed his eyes as the tears welled up, holding her tighter and wishing he could magically squeeze out her sorrow. “You…don’t have to…say anything…I’m glad you’re here,” she said through her tears. “We can stay as long as you want,” he replied, not wanting to let go. They lingered for several minutes until the sky rumbled loudly with thunder. “We should go, I don’t want you to get wet and ruin your nice suit,” she said pulling away. “If you’re not ready to leave, I’m okay with getting soaked,” he replied.

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family! That’s messed up. How did James deal with him? I’ll have to plot my strategy; she barely knows I exist. He said she’s staying with him for a while; I’ll have to drop by…he thought watching her lean into Bryce as he pulled her close in a side hug, leaned over and kissed her head.


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She shook her head stating, “This is a sign that it’s time to leave, and I want to make it to the car before the downpour.” “Okay, let’s go,” he said taking her hand and walking quickly to the parking lot. They made it to his vehicle in the nick of time, and he hastily took off his suit jacket, throwing it in the back seat. They jumped inside, closed the doors, and the sky opened up. The rain came pouring down in sheets. “I want to wait until this lets up before we drive home,” he said taking off his tie and loosening his collar. “That’s a good idea,” she replied. “I can’t thank you enough for all you’ve done. You’re officially my best friend in the world.” Turning toward her he said, “You’re welcome. I would do anything for you. I hope you know that.” He’s a beautiful man, an angel…she thought and replied, “I know. Still, I don’t want to take your kindness for granted. If you ever need to put me in my place, go


right ahead.” He laughed placing his hand over hers, “If that happens, I’ll be nice about it. Is it okay if I turn on the radio?” “Yes, any music is good,” she replied. He pressed the radio button and “I Run to You,” sung by Lady Antebellum, started playing. She was captivated by the lyrics. They spoke to her heart, and she noticed he was still holding her hand, and it felt good…I always run to him. They listened to the song, looking out the window at the pouring rain. When it was over, she said thoughtfully, “That’s a song I would dedicate to you.” Tightening his hold on her hand he replied, “Thank you. The rain’s almost stopped. We should get going.” He wanted to tell her how much he adored her, but wanted to be sure they weren’t related before he did. They rode home in silence, and she stared out the window. She was in a

“No, but thanks for asking,” she replied. “My stomach hurts. I don’t think I’ll ever eat again.” She had barely eaten these past few days, existing on coffee and an occasional piece of fruit. The stress of losing James and now Belle showed in the loose fit of her clothes. She wore a belt with her dress to keep it from looking like a sack on her. She was diligent about losing the baby weight, and exercising, which combined with her recent heartbreaks and loss of appetite left her a little too slim. “Let me know if you need anything, anything at all. You can stay as long as you want,” he said reassuringly…I hope you stay forever. She smiled and replied, “Thank you. Right now I just want to lie down and close my eyes. It’s been a rough day.” Walking through the front door, she said, “I’m going up to my room, I’m exhausted.”

“I’ll be next door going over work stuff. The only thing I ask is that you keep your door open,” he said. “Okay. You’re so good to me, I love you,” she sighed. “I love you, too. I know it doesn’t seem like it now, but you will get through this,” he stated, and they walked up the spiral staircase to the bedrooms.

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world of misery and couldn’t think of anything except how much she missed her baby. When they arrived at the house, he shut off the engine, looked at her and said, “Are you hungry?”

“I’m going to close the door while I change my clothes,” she said. He laughed and replied, “Okay, I authorize that.” **** When 5:00 p.m. rolled around he was hungry and decided to wake her to see if she wanted something to eat. He walked into her room and gently shook her awake. “Hey, sleepy head, I’m going to fix dinner. Do you want anything?” he asked. “If you don’t want anything heavy, there’s chicken noodle soup in the 35

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cupboard.” Sitting up she replied, “I guess I should eat something. I’ll open a can of soup.” “I hear it’s good for the soul,” he said smiling; fighting a powerful desire to kiss her. “Then my soul needs a chicken soup IV,” she replied looking in his eyes and thinking they somehow appeared bluer today. They went downstairs to the kitchen where he prepared two grilled ham and cheese sandwiches using one of the gas burners while she used the one next to him for warming up some soup. “I can make you a sandwich too,” he said enjoying the cozy, domestic task of making dinner together. Smiling, she replied, “I think the soup will be enough. Do you want some? I’ll open another can.” “No, I’m not much for soup. I keep it around in case I catch a cold. How are you feeling?” “Numb for now. I appreciate you letting me stay here. I feel like I’ve put a huge


dent in your lifestyle. If you have some hot dates lined up let me know, and I’ll make myself scarce,” she said. “I can’t remember the last time I had a hot date. I’m either working or working out. You don’t need to make yourself scarce. I’m yours for as long as you want,” he said laughing and placing his arm around her waist for a moment, happy she was his hot date tonight and hoping she would soon be his love. Laura Simmons grew up in northern Virginia and spent most of her career working for various Department of Defense contractors in the Washington, DC area. She has a fascination with all things metaphysical. She enjoys writing, jigsaw puzzles, adult coloring books, bowling, vacationing at the beach with her husband, and studying tarot cards and other types of divination systems. Find out more about Laura here.

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Joyride to Hellhole by Robert Solem T hat same Sunday, Lisa was meeting Barbara for brunch

at the restaurant where Jeff worked. Lisa hadn’t yet told Barbara about Jeff. That was her surprise. Introduce them and maybe gloat a bit about the hunk she’d corralled. About ten minutes before Jeff arrived for his shift, Lisa was waiting at a table close to the bar. Barbara spied her and walked over for a hug like they were old friends. Only two meetings and that’s how they had begun to feel about each other. A bond forged over sharing a life-threatening experience. Lisa started the conversation by asking Barbara about her brother. “He’s opening a fourth store,” she said. “Hope his wife doesn’t leave him.” “Oh, you remember his remark. Not likely though. They’re a real team.” “I wasn’t serious. You’ve got a


great brother. So, what’s your big news?” “That guy who stalked you. Turns out he’s a serial killer. The feds have been tracking him from El Paso. You could have been his next victim.” “Wow.” Lisa couldn’t help it. She felt an attack of the shakes coming on. Damn, not here with Barbara. “Lisa, are you okay?” “Give me a minute,” Lisa managed to say. “Maybe I shouldn’t have told

At that moment Jeff walked in ready to start his shift. He was dressed in his spiffy bartender outfit. “Check out the bartender,” Barbara said. The opening Lisa was hoping for. “Who?” she asked. “The bartender. He just went behind the bar. He gave you the look when he walked by. You should go up and order me a Mimosa. You don’t need to mention you’re a recovering alcoholic. That can come later.” “I can’t do that.” “Go ahead. Check him out. He looks positively yummy.” “Okay. I’ll do it if you go with me.” “Sure. No problem.” They got up and walked over to the bar, but stood, rather than sat down.

“Hi. My name’s Barbara and this is my friend Lisa.” “Hello Barbara. Hello Lisa. I’m Jeff. What would you two lovely ladies like to drink?” “I’ll have a Sunday morning Mimosa, but Lisa has to work later.” Great cover, Barbara, for my being on the wagon. Time to put on my act. “You’re an absolutely gorgeous dude,” Lisa started. “So, here’s the deal. Barbara says you were staring at me, which means you obviously like what you see. I’m new in Albuquerque and horny as hell. How about we get together tonight? Either your place or mine.” Jeff didn’t miss a beat. “I would be delighted. Let’s say my place when I get off work.”

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you this. The thought is pretty scary.” “No. I’m glad you did.” Lisa was thinking if the dude was out of El Paso, he wouldn’t be connected to Carl. “One consolation, the creep is on the move. He’s got to be hundreds of miles north by now.”

Barbara was staring openmouthed at this point. “Where do you live?” Jeff recited his address. “Interesting. That’s my address as well,” Lisa said. “I’m on the second floor.” “I’m on the third.” “That’s convenient.”


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The truth began to dawn on Barbara. “This is a setup, right? You two kind of know each other. In the Biblical sense it looks like.” “Kind of like that.” “Wow. You work fast. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s great.” Then she addressed Jeff, “You got an older brother, handsome?” He smiled that killer smile in response. They returned to their table to finish their brunch. “And to think you get him for dessert,” Barbara said. “Is it serious? You’ve got to give me details. I’m in awe. We’ve got to keep in touch.” “I’d like that. And yes, it’s very serious almost right from the beginning. He’s also a recovering alcoholic and clean almost two years.” “This is turning into a kind of fairytale for you. Starting a new life, meeting the man of your dreams. You’re a lucky woman.” “Yes, it’s all pretty wonderful.” ***


While Lonnie was tracking Lisa from the Amazon Motel to Marty’s Place, Jeff and Lisa had their two days off from work. “Are you up for a picnic? We can drive up into the Sandia Mountain range, the one you see from your deck,” Jeff suggested over morning coffee. “Sounds fun,” she said. The curious, adventurous Lisa, the core self of her childhood years, was emerging in this new relationship. “We can drive along the Sandia Crest into the Cibola National Forest. Make use of a park service picnic table.” Together they packed a wicker basket with picnic goodies. In place of a Riesling or a chardonnay, the basket held non-alcoholic cider. They packed a tarp and an outdoor blanket. They drove east on I-40 and turned north on highway 14, then on a road into the Sandia Mountains. After some miles of breathtaking scenery, Jeff turned onto a forest service road. A few miles in they came to an opening off the road with a

“Time to make some memories, big guy,” she said. The afternoon was warm, early October warmth. They spread the tarp and the blanket on top and shed their clothes. Had they ears, the Ponderosa pines would have been treated to disjointed phrases about devouring each other up. Little grunts and noises in foreplay and after-play, and moans of sheer pleasure during play. After they made love a second time, Jeff said, “I love you Lisa. I love you with all my heart.” “Jeff, I love you too. I’ve never felt so in love, so loved, in my life.” Consumed by the moment, Tucson felt light years away. Tuesday morning, Jeff made Lisa another one of his classic breakfasts. Lisa was feeling spoiled. She decided it was a

wonderful feeling. During breakfast though, she said many more of these would make her into a real oink. “How will I keep this gorgeous body you love if you keep feeding me this way?” “I’ve been missing my regular workouts too. Maybe we should pay a visit to my fitness center. Not as upscale as LA Fitness, but the basic equipment is there.” They did a good hour plus workout, aerobics on the elliptical trainer and strength training on the universal gym. Jeff also worked the lateral elliptical trainer, which he called lateral hell.

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picnic table. After lunch, Lisa suggested a hike along a trail leading from the picnic area. There might be other hikers on the trail, so by unspoken agreement the two picked out a spot some fifty feet off the trail where they could enjoy complete privacy.

They were beginning to feel like an established couple, thoroughly bitten by the love bug. That evening, they listened to Jeff ’s cd’s. Some bands she’d never heard of. He’d picked them up at local concerts when he dug the group. Wednesday, Lisa was scheduled back for her evening shift. Her routine was to walk going, it being daylight, and catch a ride back 41

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with Jeannie or with another of the waitresses. As Lisa walked to Marty’s Wednesday afternoon, she imagined a future when her problems would be behind her. Carl’s men would have given up. When she returned for her court date, Teddy would get her off, the charges dismissed. She’d return to Albuquerque and her new life with Jeff. That fantasy was about to implode. Marty had regulars who occasionally liked to stop by for an afternoon snack. The wait staff setting up for the dinner crowd was happy to work around them. No more than one or two normally. The fellow who came in for a cup of coffee late afternoon Wednesday was not one of those regulars. He had a confident, slightly predatory look about him. Pleased with himself the impersonation had worked. The tracking a serial killer ruse had been the key that unlocked the bitch’s whereabouts in Albuquerque. “Just coffee and a slice of pecan pie,” he said to the waitress. Lisa caught him looking at her. Something about him made the hairs at


the back of her neck stand up. She was glad another waitress had his table. “That fellow is awfully early for dinner,” Lisa remarked as the two waitresses stood at the pass-through window. “Only wanted a late afternoon snack, coffee and pie.” Jeannie, the third waitress on shift, came up to the window. Overheard them. “I worked day shift yesterday. He came in for lunch. He asked about the new girl. I figured he meant you,” Jeannie said, looking at Lisa. “He seemed okay, so I told him you work evening shifts now. You’re getting a following, sweetcheeks.” Instead of being flattered, the news sent chills through Lisa. She had to tell Jeff the whole story. The real reason she fled Tucson. The whole of it. It was time he knew, and now he had to know. If they got her before she could escape again, he had to know so he could get a message to Tucson.

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Robert Solem retired at age 68 from a career in gerontology, mainly in Seattle. Soon after, he moved to Tucson Estates, a fifty-five and older community near Tucson, as his own retirement venue. In his early seventies, he wrote a detective novel with a setting taken from his experiences as the administrator of a continuing care retirement community. He enjoyed the act of writing as a way of keeping the mental cobwebs at bay. He has since written four more pieces of detective fiction, plus a collection of short stories. The main protagonists are a quartet of hang loose, Harley-riding dudes, early sixties and counting backwards, the alter-egos of the author’s warped imagination. Roped into becoming private investigators by the FBI brother of one of the four, their first case whets their appetite for continuing their PI enterprise, on their own terms of course.


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Redemption of the Heart By Moni Boyce “S o, where are you taking me?”

Alex glanced at her and smirked before turning back to the road. “It’s a surprise.” “You’re not even going to give me a hint?” Gemma pouted. “No,” he laughed, and focused on the road. “Did I tell you how beautiful you look?” Her happiness in his compliment beat out her shy nervousness and she beamed. His praise was giving her a confidence boost and making her feel bold. “Oh no, I know what you’re trying to do. Attempting to flatter me by changing the subject.” Alex laughed. “Is it working?” Giggling, she glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. “Maybe.” They both laughed softly and then grew quiet. After a couple of minutes, she noticed they were pulling up to the zoo. Gemma turned to him with wide, expressive eyes. “Really?” She stared at the entrance of the zoo, excited.

Alex smiled even brighter, as he pulled the car into a parking space and put his arm over the back of her seat. “I’m glad you’re excited … I was afraid you’d think it was cheesy,” he said nervously, not meeting her gaze, as he rubbed the back of his neck. He finally looked up at her and saw the flush creeping across her cheeks.

When Alex said nothing Gemma turned to him. She found him gazing at her with a small smile on his face. “Why are you staring at me like that?” “It makes me happy to get to share this first with you.” Alex got out of the car, leaving Gemma sitting in the passenger seat looking at the spot he just vacated. The corner of her mouth lifted into a small smile. A short second

later Alex was opening her door. She stepped out of the car, and they headed toward the entrance of the zoo. Since it was a weekday, the zoo was not crowded. They slowly walked sideby-side checking out the animals, alternating between moments of conversation and companionable silence. After a lull in the previous conversation, Gemma looked over at Alex’s profile. His eyes were downcast as he walked next to her with his hands stuffed deep in his pockets. She noticed that was a habit of his. As she studied his profile some more, she thought yet again, No man has a right to be that handsome. The curls on the back of his neck had her itching to thread her fingers through them. After admiring him for a minute longer, she asked, “Do you come to the zoo often?”

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“Why do you look embarrassed?” She bit her lip and looked out the passenger window before turning back to him. “I’ve never been to the zoo before.” She dropped her eyes to her lap. Her cheeks were burning with embarrassment. Most kids visited the zoo a dozen times or more in their childhood, but Gemma had never been. None of her foster parents ever cared enough to do anything with her. They were usually dealing with a lot of kids; just in it for the government money they got each month. The few school trips where she might have visited the zoo saw her enjoying a hospital stay courtesy of a foster parent or sibling.

They stopped in front of the penguin habitat, and it was a moment before Alex answered her. He didn’t look at her as he watched the penguins swim and play on the ice. Finally, he turned to her. 45

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“I started coming here shortly after my wife died … I liked the company …” Gemma looked at him with a confused expression. “Animals can’t talk back,” he explained. They shared a laugh, but she saw a faint sadness in his eyes. As he resumed his story, she saw his gaze drop to the floor. “I was lonely … I had this house, and it was only me rattling around in these empty rooms … when I did bother to come home from the restaurant.” He paused in his story as he peeped at her. She was unable to hide the concern and sorrow in her eyes. Alex cleared his throat and looked away before continuing on. “Everyone kept telling me to get a dog, but I was barely taking care of myself. Since I wasn’t ready for a pet, I decided to come to the zoo. It was comforting. The animals just let me be.” She continued staring at him long after he stopped talking, as he looked through the glass at the penguins. All this time, she’d assumed that it was an ugly divorce, that his wife had cheated and broken his heart. She was right about the broken


heart. Which explained why he was so reluctant to speak of her before, why everyone else only talked about her in hushed whispers. She wouldn’t ask for details on how. It had already been painful for him to share she could tell. She couldn’t imagine how much he must have hurt after his wife died, how much he may still hurt. She didn’t want to pry, but somehow she wanted to comfort him like he did for her a couple of nights ago, so she moved closer to him. Her shoulder brushed his. They stood together staring at the frolicking penguins. ~*~ Alex looked at her with hooded eyes. He was thankful to her for just listening and not asking a bunch of questions. What a difference this woman was from his sister who could never seem to keep her mouth shut. Rachel could learn a thing or two from her. Sometimes people just wanted someone to listen. He slowly removed his hand from his pocket and let it fall to his side. His hand slightly brushed against hers. Was that a

They both smiled to themselves as they continued to watch the penguins. Alex stroked his thumb tenderly across the back of Gemma’s hand. He didn’t want to let her go. After minutes of standing in silence and watching the penguins through the double-paned glass, they walked off still holding hands. Eventually, they resumed conversation as they continued to tour the exhibits. Alex pointed out his favorite animals as he alternated between stroking the back of her hand and using his finger to rub circles into her palm as they walked the zoo hands clasped.

Moni Boyce is a writer, filmmaker, poet and author of the new romance novel Redemption of the Heart. She spent the last fifteen years working in the film industry and now creates characters of her own and brings them to life on the page. Moni has ghostwritten romance novellas and novels for over a year now and decided to put some of her own creations out in the world. She considers herself a bookworm, film buff, foodie, music lover and an avid world traveler having visited 32 countries and counting. She lives a bit of a nomadic life, but considers Los Angeles home. Which is the subject of her first travel book: Greater Than A Tourist – Los Angeles, California: 50 Travel Tips From A Local. You can follow me or contact me via:, get in touch through Twitter or Facebook.

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spark? He swallowed hard and then carefully grasped her hand in his. Her fingers curled around his. Their hands together felt so right wrapped around each other. His heartbeat quickened. He exhaled the breath he didn’t realize he was holding.



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Short Stories

Waiting was all Cappi had done for years — ten, long,

painful years. One Friday morning, she found an envelope mysteriously placed on her desk at work. Handwritten on the front was: Willow Caprice. Few people knew her given name, especially in her professional life. Could it really be from him? she thought. How in the world did he get in here? Goosebumps rose on her arms. Her office building was like Fort Knox, getting inside required clearance and identification. Cappi moved across the room and locked the door, heart racing, she rushed back to her desk. Her hands trembled as she ripped open the envelope, then she pulled out the note and slowly opened the fold. Inside it read: 9 p.m. Saturday IL and GA St., Indy The next night, Cappi stood at the corner of Illinois and

Georgia Street, downtown Indianapolis, terrified she’d been wrong about who’d sent the message. A storm had just passed over the city. The clean smell of summer showers replaced the pungent innercity smog. Red and green from the stoplights reflected off the puddles in the street. The sound of thunder could still be heard rumbling in the distance.

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Surfaced by Amy J. Markstahler

Cappi glanced at her watch, it was ten after nine. Slumping against the brick building, she felt stupid for falling for such nonsense. In fact, she was taking a great risk since she worked as a researcher at Lilly, one of the biggest pharmaceutical companies in the world. Not everyone approved of their work and many of her colleagues had been harassed and threatened in the past. That idea made her nervous, so she started walking away from Illinois Street in the opposite direction down Georgia. 49

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She could catch a cab on Meridian Street and forget about this crazy fantasy she’d been pining over for all of these years. Midway down the block, a very tall, broad-shouldered man stepped out from an alcove in the building. Cappi instantly stopped. She wasn’t afraid, even though his face was shadowed, she recognized him just by his stature. Ryan. The weight of years, wondering if he was safe, if he was still alive, were finally over. He took a step toward her. Light from the department store window lit his fine features. Everything she’d ever wanted stood in front of her. “I’m glad you came,” he said. The voice from her past sent a shiver over her. “Ry—“ “Chris,” he said, gently, hoping not to scare her. “Oh.” All hopes that he’d found freedom fled. “I can’t stay out on the street. If you’re willing, I have a room at the Canterbury. Will you join me there in ten minutes?”


He held out his hand. A room card-key was tucked in his palm. Could she handle losing him again? It would haunt her for life if she didn’t at least hear what he had to say. Hesitantly, she accepted his offer. He took a second to touch the side of her face, then returned into the dark alcove. Cappi stood there in shock, wondering what had just happened, then headed back toward Illinois Street. The smell of St. Elmo’s Steak House made her stomach growl when she passed the establishment to enter the Canterbury. The doorman politely greeted her as he let her inside, then she took the elevator to the sixth floor. Moments later, a bell dinged and the doors parted. Heart pounding, she followed the hallway until she found room 615. She slipped the card into the slot and the little light turned from red to green. She stepped inside next to a kingsized bed and Ryan sitting on the couch across the room. He took a sip from a whiskey glass and set the drink on the table, then looked Cappi over with his intense blue eyes as he sat back. Still built like an

Cappi slowly sat down on the corner of the bed. “This is quite the surprise, Ryan, um… Chris. Can I say your name, now?” He smiled. “Yes, it’s fine when we’re alone.” His demeanor seemed wounded and fragile, eyes still full of pain, just like when they’d first met. The murder of both his parents would haunt him forever. She had to wonder what he’d endured all these years. “You’re still under witness protection?” Cappi asked. He nodded. “They’ve found me though or so the Marshalls think. I’m being flown somewhere, tomorrow.” “Have you been in Indianapolis this whole time?”

“No. I can’t say where I’ve been, but I told them I wanted to fly out from here.” “Why?” “You,” he said, amused by her obstinance. “I have to see you before I go.” “That’s so unfair. You have no idea what I’ve been through.” “You don’t think I know? I think about you every day. But they’re everywhere, Cappi. I’ll never be a free man. They’ll hunt me until I’m dead. I can’t put you in that kind of danger.”

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athlete, muscular and lean, aging had only made him more handsome. He kept his dark hair cut short and minded his well-trimmed beard. Cappi’s heart raced as she comprehended the enigma sitting in front of her. “Thank you for coming,” he said. “Have a seat.”

His words made her feel sick. He was all she wanted. Irrationally, she thought, I’ll go with him this time. “You can’t come with me,” he said, as if he’d read her mind. “It wouldn’t be fair to you.” “Fair seems irrelevant at this point. You’ve never given me a choice. You just disappear.” “And I will again in the morning.”


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Her spirit sank with his matter-of-fact statement. It was already nine-thirty, time didn’t sympathize with her either. “I’ve waited years for you to surface, and now you’re just going to leave me again. What do you want from me, Ryan?” “Tonight. Just one night. Please, don’t leave.” She smirked like she wasn’t playing his game, but she knew she wasn’t going anywhere. Ryan stood up and sat on the bed beside her. The desire and carnal attraction that belonged to only them struck him like he was nineteen-years-old all over again. He’d missed her more than he could ever express in words. She turned to him. Her hazel eyes were emerald green, the first indication that she was holding back tears. A pang of guilt hit him, knowing he’d lied when he said he wasn’t in Indy. For seven of the ten years, he’d stayed hidden in the shadows, following her career and life whenever he could. He wasn’t stalking

her, he just needed to know she was safe, that the club wasn’t looking for her, too. Three years earlier, the U.S. Marshalls moved him to Davenport, but Asylum Brotherhood M.C. members were everywhere. The bounty on Ryan was still very real and very profitable. Cappi couldn’t know anything, it was much too dangerous. Then, U.S. Marshall Long said it was time to move again. Ryan demanded they arrange for him to see Cappi in a protected location. This might be his last chance. Cappi’s touch started at Ryan’s arm, then moved to his chest. Ryan cupped her cheek, and they kissed for the first time in ten years. She’d waited every day for this moment. His tender embrace turned passionate, giving every ounce of love he had to her. He gently laid her back on the bed, savoring her, inhaling her honeysuckle scent, wishing his life could just be normal with her by his side. Hours of making love passed until the sunlight finally bled through the cracks of the window shades. Curled together under the covers, Ryan whispered, “Cappi, you will always be the only woman I’ll ever love. Nothing can change

“I love you more than you will ever understand,” he said, before he closed the door behind him.

“I’m sorry. I have to do this alone.”

Alone, Cappi said to herself, “I completely understand.” Ryan was the only man she’d ever love, but could never have. She returned to bed, curled up in the sheets that smelled like him and cried herself to sleep.

“It’s so wrong. You’ve been sentenced to a life alone. Why?” “I’m outnumbered.” He tightened his embrace and softly kissed down her neck. “We have an hour. A car will be waiting for me at seven.” She rolled on her back, tears streaming down her face. He gently wiped them away, then pressed his lips to hers, kissing her deeper with every breath. They made love for the last time, and if only for a moment, they tasted what it felt like to be truly happy. An hour later, they stood at the room door, holding each other’s hands, waiting for the other to speak first. Stubborn as ever, Cappi stared Ryan down.

Amy J. Markstahler’s debut novel Life Happens on the Stairs won The Breakthrough Novel Award and received 3rd in the Linda Howard Award of Excellence before it was published in 2018. She writes from her home in Central Illinois where she lives with her husband and two children.

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that.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I love you. Can I go with you to the airport?”

You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, or her website.

Ryan grinned. She hasn’t changed a bit, he thought. He leaned in and gave her one last long kiss goodbye.


Romance Reading Magazine 54

In Love with Monty Python by Maria Riegger A lex sat at a table in the center of the library alone, poring over several books. She had had the dream again. This time, instead of staying at home, overthinking, she decided to visit the library to see what information she could find.

She hadn’t learned anything new so far. She sighed and picked up one of the books in front of her, scanning the title. A man sat down opposite her. As he did so, he stumbled and ended up dumping a bunch of books on the table. Alex looked up, startled. “I’m sorry,” the man whispered, glancing at her with wide eyes. “Didn’t mean to be so loud.” “It’s OK.” Alex smiled and shrugged. She found his clumsiness endearing in its familiarity. The man opened a book and began reading, furrowing his brows in concentration.

Alex stole a look at his books. They had titles such as How to Organize Your Life in 10 Minutes a Day and Organization for Dummies. She was particularly interested to see a book titled Emotional Intelligence in his pile. She wondered why he felt the need to read it. “I know what you’re thinking,” the man said, without looking up. Alex felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment. “Sorry,” she said. The man looked up, and she

The man guffawed heartily, them seemed to remember that they were in a library. He tried to hold in his

laughter, instead pounding his fist lightly on the table. Alex smiled broadly, pleased at his reaction. It had been a while since she had made someone laugh like that. The man looked at her and shook his head. His smile lit up his entire face, making his eyes dance. “Sorry if that was crass,” Alex said, making an apologetic gesture with her hand. “No, no, it’s fine. I’m very much pro-crass.” They looked at each other in silence. “Carl Jung, huh?” the man said, motioning to the book Alex had open in front of her. “That’s kinda heavy.” Alex couldn’t help smiling. She leaned back in her chair. “Maybe it’s heavy for a neophyte,” she said. The man smiled at her comeback and shook his head, as if he were trying but failing to come up with a witty retort. “I’m John,” he said instead, sticking out his hand across the table. Alex looked at his hand, then reached out to shake it. “I’m Alex — well, Alexandra, but I prefer

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noticed the pop of his vibrant blue eyes. “You’re thinking how lame I am, that I need these books to — you know, get my shit together.” “No one has their shit together,” Alex said. “Anyone who says otherwise is a liar.” The man smiled at her. “You look like you have your shit together.” His eyes went to the books in front of her. She shook her head. “Believe me, I don’t. I’ve spent much of my life trying to get my shit together. A little while ago, I just decided to let it fly freely, and I’ve been much happier since.”


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Alex.” His smile grew broader. “Beautiful name,” he mused. Alex ignored his comment. “What do you think of Jung’s dream analysis?” John asked. Alex crossed her arms. “Why? Can I help you with something?” “Yes,” he said. “I’m having this weird dream. I thought that, maybe, with your knowledge of Jung, you could help me.” Alex pursed her lips. “That’s a lame pick-up line.” John laughed but didn’t deny that it was a pick-up line. “I do have weird dreams, though.” Alex squinted at him. “Really?” “Yeah, I —” he seemed to be thinking. “What’s the strangest dream you’ve had?” Alex asked, testing him. He seemed serious, which intrigued her. “To be honest, I’ve had this one dream three or four times.” He shook his head. “Never mind —” “No,” she put up a hand. “You can tell me.” John met her eyes. “God, you have gorgeous eyes.” Alex rolled said eyes. “The dream, please.”

John laughed again. “Damn. Yes, ma’am.” He paused. “I’m standing on top of a building. Everything is white. The building is made of white material. The sun is blindingly white. And it’s so hot, that I think I’m going to melt.” Alex put down her pen, wondering whether he was making this up. “Are you alone in the dream?” He looked at her. “I don’t know. I can hardly see anything, it’s so bright. That’s really it. Nothing else happens, and I wake up.” “Hmm.” “I think maybe it’s heaven?” Alex shuddered. “Maybe.” She looked him up and down. He was gregarious, open, outgoing, and sure of himself. “Sagittarius?” she asked carefully. “Yes. How did you know?” “I just know. You meet enough people, you just know.” “You’re an astrologer?” Alex moved her head from side to side noncommittally. “More or less. I know some things about astrology, let’s just say. Anyway, Sag tends to have prophetic dreams. That’s why I asked.”

Alex looked down at her notes. “No, I don’t,” she said quickly. But he had seemed so sure of himself that she had to give him something. “I do get feelings, however,” she hedged. “General feelings of precognition. You know, when you think of someone, and they call you.” “Ahhhh, I see. That’s awesome.” “Not always.” She felt the need to lighten the mood. “So, pray for me,” she said. “Or make a sacrifice at the altar of Baphomet for me, whatever floats your boat.” “It didn’t save Jacques de Molay.” She smiled, impressed that he knew she was making a reference about the Templars. “But it could save me. You never know. Anyhow, if Jacques de Molay hadn’t been executed, maybe no

one would know who he is now.” “So, you’re saying that his death achieved his immortality?” “Possibly.” “But when you’re dead, that’s it. You can’t accomplish anything else.” “How do you know?” “What do you mean?” “Well, some people believe that when you physically die, you don’t really die, I mean, you are kind of subsumed into the universe somehow.” “How does that work?” John asked. “How should I know? I’m not dead yet.” Alex grinned goofily. “So don’t take my liver.” John reached into his pocket and drew out a single wrapped mint, offering it to her. “How about this?” He screwed up his face and said in a poor imitation of a cockney accent, “It’s just one littl’ mint. Just one littl’ mint.” Alex threw back her head and laughed. When she could talk again, she took the mint from him and stuck it into her jeans pocket. “Thank you,” she said.

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“You’re saying I’m seeing the future?” “Not necessarily. I mean, the dream could be a metaphor for something that happens in the future. It doesn’t mean that what you saw will happen exactly as it happens in the dream.” John nodded slowly. “Do you have prophetic dreams?” “We were talking about you.” John continued to stare at her, apparently waiting for a reply.


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John looked at her and sighed. “Wanna go grab a drink?” Alex froze. “Ummm —” “It’s OK if you don’t want to.” His brows furrowed. She had never heard a man say that before. Almost all the men that she had encountered in the area were aggressive in how they tried to pressure her. John must have sensed her feeling of awkwardness. “Hey, it’s OK,” he said. “Look.” He took a pen from the front pocket of his shirt and wrote something in his notebook. Then he tore off the sheet of paper and handed it to her across the table. Alex reached to take the paper from him. As she did so, she noticed his earthy, cottony scent. “Here’s my number,” he told her with a smile. “I’d love to go out with you, Alex. Call me if you’d like to, OK?” Alex nodded, gazing at him. John stood up and began to gather his books. “I — I have to go, anyway.” He looked at her. “You do have gorgeous eyes, you know? I’ve always been a sucker for big, brown eyes.” They said goodbye and John left.


Alex looked down at the piece of paper in front of her. He had written his phone number and, beneath it, ‘Your slapdash Sagittarius.’ Alex knew she would call him. After all, she had already fallen in love with him, because of an absurd Monty Python reference. Maria Riegger is based in the Washington, DC area. She is a banking/corporate attorney by day (but please don’t hold that against her), and a fiction author by night. Maria is a Gemini whose head has always been in the clouds. When she was bored as a child, she would make up stories in her head. She has been writing since she was about thirteen years old. She has been caught air-guitaring in public. She loves to laugh, and is the “go-to” person if a friend needs someone to laugh at his lame jokes. In true Gemini fashion, she indulges both her logical personality as an attorney as well as her creative writing personality. She loved law school and even misses it, which led her friends to conclude that she is certifiable. An irreverent Gen X’er, she writes gritty contemporary romance, with plenty of sarcasm.

by Cynthia Roberts

L auren poured herself a cup of Swiss mocha from

the porcelain service awarded each female Schuster & Ryan executive for their office entertainment needs. She had thirty minutes to relax before her scheduled appointment with Chase Stanfield, President of Aerospace Industries. Looking over her sketches one last time she was confident he would find the ad campaign she’d worked so hard on impressive. Lauren knew that a senior partnership was waiting, if she landed this big account and had been hinted on more

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Prince in Blue

than one occasion this past week. Lauren leaned back in her white leather high back and came to the realization that such an offer, regardless of how praiseworthy and enticing it would be, still did not hold the same appeal. Slowly, her eyes scanned the elegant interior of her office. The “Money” accounts she’d brought into the company had awarded her a company Mercedes, an exorbitant salary, a comfortable lifestyle, and even a corner office. Her gaze slowly took in the period pieces she had found at various antique stores, the beautiful signature oils 59

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she won at auctions, and she sighed. She was proud of her achievements but, she could not discount the drain and toll her accomplishments were taking on her emotionally, physically, and socially. She knew what she needed. She knew what she wanted, and that was, a drastic change in her lifestyle. She wanted to share it with someone she loved and freelance her talents from the comforts of her home. Lauren’s private line rang, and she reached over to answer. A smile warmed her lips when her brother’s voice greeted her. “Hi ya, Pups! How’s my favorite sister doing?” Her eyes lighted with joy. He had called her that pet name ever since he was two years old. The bond they had shared ever since childhood had only gotten stronger through the years. “Michael! Hi! How’s Piedmont’s finest this morning? Staying safe, I hope. Are you home?” She always worried about him, especially in his line of work.


Piedmont was not quite a major metropolis like Detroit but, it had its problems with all the seedy elements that kept the crime rate high. “Look, Pups, I told Peggy I’d call you to see if you can make it next weekend to Marissa’s birthday party. We’re planning a barbecue and Peggy has plans for a small carnival to entertain the kids.” Lauren was not about to miss her niece’s third birthday and made sure it was noted on her calendar. “Wouldn’t miss it for the anything, silly. Can I bring anything other than a fantabulous gift from her bestest Aunt?” Michael chuckled. “You know Peg and Mom. They’ve been planning this thing for weeks. Feel free to bring a date, if you want. And, Pups ... I wouldn’t object to your asking Paul.” Paul. Just the sound of his name caused a mad rush of warmth to erupt inside of her. “For as long as I can remember, you always had an opinion where my boyfriends were concerned. He is a

keeper though.”

“I’m glad,” Michael replied. “He’s a great guy. Well, look, I’ve got to get ready for work. See you next weekend. Love ya, Pups.” “Love ya too, Michael. Give everyone my best.” As she hung up, Lauren could not help but feel slightly envious of her brother for having what she desired most. She hoped and prayed that her relationship with Paul would continue to blossom into a lasting and meaningful one. She purposely wanted to take it slow with him. Normally, she waited until the fifth date for any kind of intimate involvement. But, with him, it was different. She wanted him the first night they dated, but she tucked that temptation away before it gave him the kind of impression, she did not want him to have.

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She gazed at the colorful bouquet Paul had delivered to her office just yesterday. The gorgeous arrangement of tiger lilies, daisies, carnations, and roses softened the contemporary theme of her office.

Compared to others she had dated, her relationship with him was deeper and more meaningful. He was passionate about being a positive influence in the community, sincerer than any man she ever met, and truly affectionate. He had this virile strength about him that excited the heck out of her. She swiveled in her chair, running her feet over the plush, Chinese wool rug, its contemporary poppy pattern blending stylishly with her soft pink, green and cranberry décor. She fixed her gaze on the wall clock opposite her desk and watched the seconds pass as the brass pendulum swung back and forth. Yes, she thought, my colleagues would think I was crazy if they knew I was contemplating resigning. She shook her head, not quite believing it herself. Still, all the grandeur could not substitute what she wanted most out of life: a family and a home with a husband who loved and adored her. She knew winning the Stanfield account was the catalyst to making that all happen. It was a beginning. She had the guy


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and it looked like what was growing between them could prove something wonderful. Lauren jumped when her intercom buzzed. She had not realized she was so caught up in her own thoughts. “Ms. Masters, Mr. Stanfield has arrived and is waiting for you in the board room.” Her assistant relayed. “Thank you, Stacy. I’ll be right there.” Chase Stanfield was everything her colleagues said he would be and more. Even though he was extremely attractive and rather charming, he was a shark. She knew from the on start he was not a man to be taken lightly. As she sat across from him and his associates, the sixfoot cherry wood conference table gleamed like a highglossed mirror, reflecting the images of everyone sitting around it. Lauren knew she was facing a formidable client. There was an aura of power radiating from him. This is going to be my biggest challenge yet, she admitted to herself. “Ms. Masters, your campaign


is very innovative, and the concept is rather unique. I like that,” Stanfield admitted, as he looked over her sketches. “However, your agency is small and local. I’m used to dealing with big-city boys. Why should I sign with you?” Lauren’s resolve did not waiver and she let a slow smile grace her lips. “Yes, we’re local but, our handprint is global. We have accounts all over the world with brands your audience would not only recognize but patronize. We’ve become one of the largest agencies in the Northeast, with a staff of over forty, providing diverse services in under just three years. We’ve won major accounts from the big city boys, time and again.” Stanfield chuckled heartily and gave Lauren a wink. “I like your spunk, and your work. I know talk like that doesn’t come cheap.” “You’re right, it doesn’t. Neither does genius. Cheap is a cause for self-destruction. Good results come from evaluating the competition,

“Mr. Stanfield, you’ve seen the campaign on paper. Now, I’d like to give you a tour on what it’ll look like across all medias. We can accommodate your every need under one roof, also very cost-effective. Then, if you have the time, we’ve catered a nice lunch in the Executive Dining Room.” “I’m a hungry man, Ms. Masters. Show me.” LAUREN could not have asked for a better day. Not only did she pull off the biggest sale in the history of the agency, but she could clear her calendar for the rest of the day.

“I did it!” She yelled, as she cruised down Route 345 heading out of Piedmont. Now she could follow her dream, she exhaled deeply. She could resign her position without any reservations. Within a month, she would receive her hefty bonus once the firm received their retainer from Stanfield. The three-mile stretch of county road made for a relaxing drive and linked the city with the quaint, country Village of Stockton she called home.

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analyzing what the market wants and needs, as well as offering quality and a very creative message. It’s knowing how to choose the right media and mixing to achieve excellence, which takes an awesome team to pull it off. We’re those people, Mr. Stanfield. Our record has proven that time and again.” Lauren smiled inwardly as she detected a glint in his eye before quickly disguising it. All she had to do was show him how it all comes together, and she knew he was hers.

Lauren engaged her cruise control at 60, kicked off her heels, and wiggled her toes to the beat of her favorite soft rock station. She loved driving her convertible. The fresh, country air engulfed her, and Lauren slowly inhaled deep breaths and felt herself relax. She loved the landscape along this route with its pageantry of mixed evergreens and white birches. When she lowered the volume on her Bose system, she could hear the songs of robins and wrens serenading the woodlands as she passed by. In a mere instant, the yelp of 63

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sirens blasted the air as a Police cruiser with flashing red lights pulled out onto the highway from a hidden location. “Oh, hell!” She exclaimed. Quickly, she checked her speedometer and noted she was well within the speed limit and disengaged her cruise control. “Just what I need to end a perfect day.” She spoke aloud. Thankfully, she knew many of the Piedmont officers. She tapped the brake lightly and carefully steered off to the shoulder of the road. She checked her mirror to see if she could recognize the officer but could not make out who it was. She ransacked through her purse for her license and leaned over to reach in the glove compartment for her insurance and registration cards. Her lipstick fell out of her purse along with her compact, breaking the mirror instantly. “Great! Just what I need, seven years of bad luck!” “Did you say something?” The officer asked, as he approached her open window. Lauren jumped with surprise


and her heart skipped in her chest when she recognized Paul standing there beside her. “Paul! It’s you!” She sighed deeply. “Have I done something wrong?” Paul waved her worry aside and smiled, his eyes reflecting the joy he felt in seeing her. “Your brake lights aren’t working. I noticed it when you passed me back there. I’m afraid you’ll have to get them fixed right away. While I’m here though, let me check both of your signals.” “Oh okay,” she replied as he moved to the front of her car. She could not help but notice the outline of hardened muscle beneath his militarypressed uniform and how it hugged his athletic frame right down to his tapered waistline. This was the first time she saw him in uniform and wondered what it would feel like to have those strong arms wrap around her and pull her close. “Turn them on Lauren, first the right,” he pointed, “and then the left.” When she did so, he gave her

God he is so dreamy; she nearly spoke aloud. Dreamy! She almost chuckled. That is so high school. Hunk of burning love is more like it. Everything about him was hot from his luscious lips, to the deep cleft in his chin, and that hard body. She wanted to be bad with him, very bad. A warm, wet heat started to rise, radiating from between her legs, into her belly, up along her neck and blushing her cheeks. She had dated many handsome high-powered executives but, none of them made her go weak in the knees like Paul. “I think you’ll just need a fuse replaced. Your front signal lights are fine.” She reached out and placed her hand on his forearm. “Thank you. If I were anywhere else, I would’ve

probably been issued a ticket.” When he returned her smile, Lauren’s stomach lurched. He had the deepest dimple that caressed the right corner of his lip too, adding to the temptation. “It’s not a moving violation. I tried to get your attention just by blinking my beams high and low, but I think you might have been day-dreaming.” “I was.” She admitted. “I landed my biggest account ever and was thinking about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Oh! And thank you again for the beautiful flowers. It’s been a long time since anyone has sent me any.” Paul reached in and cupped her chin with his fingers, his eyes were warm and inviting. “I’d send you flowers every day, if they made you smile like that.”

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the thumbs up all was well. He came back to her window and squatted down so he could meet her gaze, resting his forearms on her driver’s window frame. The masculine scent of his musky cologne titillated her senses. He was so close, she wanted to lean in to glide her lips over his.

A few more vehicles whizzed past, breaking the magic. Paul looked away briefly and gave her his full attention again and smiled warmly. “How about dinner at my place?” “You cook too?” She replied happily.


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“I do,” he nodded. “Are you free this evening. I get off in thirty minutes. I’ll pick up a couple of steaks, chill some wine, and throw together a salad. How does six sound?” “I would love that.” He leaned in and planted an inviting kiss upon her lips before leaving her side. She shuddered from the taste of him as the anticipation of what the evening promised filled her heart with joy. Paul was more than that fairy tale kind of guy little girls dreamed of. She was certain he could be the one for her. She just knew it and couldn’t wait to begin the next chapter of her life with her Prince in Blue.


I have always loved reading romance fiction and it wasn’t until much later in life (my mid-fifties), that I actually took up the pen to write my first historical romance, Wind Warrior. I’m a diverse writer and have published under the Contemporary, Native Indian Western, and Suspense Romance Genres. I have only one regret, and that is not getting to this point in my career much sooner, rather than later. Life has thrown some pretty difficult and life-challenging road blocks my way. I realize now though, it was those very detours that have made me a more passionate and expressive writer, allowing me to create the kind of raw human emotion I want my readers to feel. It is my hope, you find my books not just an entertaining read, but walk away in knowing, “Without imagination & dreams, we lose the excitement of wonderful possibilities.” As a special thanks, I am offering the first three e-Books in my Love Song Standards Series for the price of one at $2.99, a five-star Reader’s Favorite. For buy links click here. w.romanceauthorcynthiaroberts. com/

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Book Review

H ave you read an Australian rural romance book? If not, you’re missing out on some great reads.

One of my favourite romance authors is Mandy Magro, and Bluegrass Bend did not disappoint.

Bluegrass Bend by Mandy Magro At Bluegrass Bend Ivy Tucker runs Healing Hills where horses are used as a healing technique to help people who’ve suffered traumatic events. But Ivy is still dealing with the aftermath of her own lifethreatening event. Meanwhile Ronny Sinclair is released from prison after murdering a man who seriously assaulted Ivy. Fate throws them Ivy and Ronny together. Ronny doesn’t reveal who he really is and with Ivy trying to build her trust in a world that let her down values are about to be tested.


Bluegrass Bend was an enjoyable read. I was really pulled in by the story and Mandy makes Ivy and Ronny believable and relatable characters who you will feel empathy towards. The friendship and subsequent love between Ivy and Ronny builds slowly and I was drawn into the inevitable tension as the story developed. I definitely felt the connection between Ivy and Ronny and Mandy does a great job in showing both their growing emotional and physical attraction although some of the love scenes came across as a bit too sweet. Mandy’s style is fun, lighthearted, tense and funny where it needs to be and she does a great job in creating likeable characters (except Amy!). The secondary characters of Lottie and Larry played an important role in Bluegrass Bend and were developed

well. Unlike some books, Bluegrass Bend didn’t have too many other characters that you had to try and keep track of. Mandy’s descriptive accounts of Bluegrass Bend were small enough to paint a compelling picture without going overboard on excessive detail. As I’m not a horsey person, I was pleased that there wasn’t a lot of scenes about horses. Ivy is a great heroine, however, I did feel she didn’t give Ronny enough of a chance to explain who he really was and why he lied. Both Ivy and Ronny have strong goals and life-like personalities. I really felt for the hard knocks Ronny had received in life.

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Can Ivy learn to trust again with Ronny and find the love she so desperately seeks?

Bluegrass Bend was strong in plot with a few sub plots that weren’t distracting in any way. The overall theme of trust was tested throughout the story and Ivy and Ronny were strong enough to give love another chance. The ending was perfect and romantic!


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If you are a romance writer, this was a good study in showing how well an author has developed character goals, arcs, motivations, fears, wounds and false beliefs. Backstory was sprinkled throughout which was good as we learnt more about the relationship between Ivy and her mother rather than it being info dumped. If you a romance reader, this was a light, but entertaining read - great for a lazy weekend or summer time. Robyn Bennett is a shy Kiwi who loves to write. She is the author of two contemporary romances, writing as Casey Fae Hewson, and two business books one of which is co-authored with Bob Boze. She tries to write for an hour a day but quite often she gets lost in her stories as she takes her characters on adventures and ends up writing for much longer. Robyn loves to travel and in 2018 spent two wonderful weeks travelling around England and Ireland. When she’s not writing she works as an administration trainer and edits and proofreads in her part-time editing business. Check out Casey at

SSalford, ylvester, the Duke of is about to receive a salutary lesson. Born to Regency period rank and privilege, at 28 he is a responsible master of his vast estates and a loving son to his delightful chair-bound poetess mother.

Sylvester – from Dastard to Darling in Historical Hilarity By Holly Bell

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Book Review

Unfortunately, his consequence and the deference he has attracted throughout his life has kindled an arrogance that is perceived only by the dowager-duchess and one other person yet to enter his orbit. He believes that, when it comes to choosing a suitable wife, he has his pick of the bunch and has only to toss the handkerchief to have it eagerly scooped up by the fortunate maiden.


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Phoebe, grand-daughter to Salford’s godmother, Lady Ingham, is 19, dangerously near being on the shelf, thin, sallow, brown-haired, unfashionable, despised by her step-mother, undefended by her weak father, and with no kindred spirit among her stepsisters. Her one ally is her adoring governess Sibby who espied and nurtured, in her intelligent and sweetnatured tomboy of a charge, a secret literary talent. During Phoebe’s season in London, where she failed lamentably to attach herself matrimonially, her perceptive pen drew hilarious caricatures of the colourful members of the cream of society, whom she keenly observed, and weaved them into a farrago of a tale of adventure. In the role of villain, she has cast none other Sylvester, whose saturnine eyebrows and inflated self-esteem made him an irresistible choice for Count Ugolino. The work is entitled The Lost Heir and tells of a wicked uncle’s dastardly kidnapping of the heir to the family fortune, his hapless

nephew, who is rescued by the heroic efforts of the boy’s angelically beautiful older sister. It is about to be published anonymously when Phoebe hears the news. None other than Sylvester is on his way to look her over for the prize cow role of his wife. Cornered, unsupported, in mortal dread of being forced into a fearful marriage, there is nothing for it but to flee. Accompanied by her life-long friend Tom, she heads out at dawn on a wintry road. An accident and injury ensue. Fortunately, assistance presents itself, but in the form of the last person Phoebe and Tom expect or want: the Duke of Salford. In the informal circumstances in which the three find themselves, friendships spring up. And yet … the fateful novel! Aghast, Phoebe learns that Sylvester does have a nephew, 6-year-old Edmund, his dear departed twin’s cherubic but adventurous little son. The golden-haired, dazzling beauty on whom Phoebe modelled the sister in her story is the child’s mother. Flakey to a fault and resentful of Sylvester’s guardianship

Just as Pheobe and Sylvester are growing ever closer, disaster strikes. Will Phoebe’s dread of unkindness and Sylvester’s ego destroy all chances of their happiness? Circumstances of the most outrageous kind are about to throw them together once more. Will it make things better or worse? Or can only a fairy godmother work the magic needed to bring about the most desirable of endings? Packed with lively personalities, nerdy, horsy, adorable Phoebe, misguided, proud but kind-hearted Sylvester, the wise, caring Duchess, air-head Ianthe, her amiable but idiot fiancé, the ludicrously wealthy pink of the ton Nugent Fotherby, her engaging moppet offspring Edmund, the crusty but

caring Lady Ingham, and the notables of high society of the Regency London social scene. Balls, escapes, abductions, adventure on the high seas, rescues and romance, Sylvester has it all. Obtain your copy from the nearest subscription library and stuff it into your reticule without delay. A world of delight awaits. Sylvester: a Georgette Heyer gem.

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of Edmund, Lady Ianthe, unbeknownst to Phoebe, is a thorn in Sylvester’s side and a constant reminder of the beloved brother he has lost. This is worse than anything Phoebe could have imagined. Should she tell Sylvester of her authorship of the absurd but all too close-to-home tale? If so, how? But then again, surely, no one will ever know that she wrote the novel that is now taking the town by storm. Or will they?

Holly Bell is a writer, photographer and videographer. She is the author of The Amanda Cadabra Cozy Paranormal Mysteries published by Heypressto and available on Amazon. From her teens, she has read and adored the works of Georgette Heyer whose wit and use of language inspired Holly’s love of English and influenced the style into which her prose was to develop. Holly is an ardent cat and chocolate fan. Among her collection of Georgette Heyer novels, she numbers some of her oldest and closest friends. Sylvester is one of them. After all, the heroine is an author. Visit Holly at and find her on Facebook. Especially if you enjoy the works of Miss Heyer or cozy paranormal mysteries, she would love to hear from you.



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