Saturday, April 30, 2016

Stacking The Shelves

Stacking The Shelves
Stacking The Shelves April 30th 2016
Stacking the Shelves is a meme by Tynga Reviews that let's bloggers share their new books and swag, whether they are physical or virtual. I'll include books I've been sent, emailed, purchased, won and for reviews. 

It's the last week in April not a lot of reading but added a bunch of new books this week.  
What did you get this week?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Book Review: Dream Catcher

Title - Dream Catcher
Author - M.C. Cerny
Series - Woodland Creek
Genre - Paranormal Romance
Published November 13th 2015
Format - Kindle
Add to (Goodreads)
Add to (Amazon)

Happenstance brought Kerri Harper to Woodland Creek, but will she stay for the wolf intent on mending her broken heart?

Kerri Harper leaves her home in Ann Arbor, to pursue her graduate degree in teaching. She’s looking for a new lease on life after being rejected by her number one school, and her boyfriend…whom she thought was supposed to be her number one fan.

Warren Boone, resident EMS Captain and wolf shifter is on call when Kerri speeds into town. She crashes her car in a ditch that seems to attract outsiders to Woodland Creek like flies on honey. His protective instincts kick in with a howl, and he must protect her from those who wish to keep them apart.

Kerri is in a relationship where the child walks all over her as much as the man she’s dating does. Pushed into being a full time caregiver she can never do anything right and instead of being happy she’s miserable. After being turned down for school by several she’s shocked to get an acceptance letter which gives her everything she needs to get out of her toxic relationship. A new start with a chance at a new future how could it possibly go wrong. Ready to make a run for it Kerri heads off to Woodland Creek for a new start but the rain is so bad she ends up wrecking.

Thankfully the citizen of Woodland Creek aren’t all human and the locals are able to save her before anything to bad can happen but her car is missing a door. Warren can’t deny that he’s drawn to Kerri in a way he’s never been before, and can’t seem to let her go. While shifters typically don’t date humans Warren is about to change the go against the pack plan and fall for Kerri. However how will Kerri deal with the fact Warren isn’t as human as she thought.

I found myself connecting with Kerri a lot more than I expected because we both had a very similar toxic relationship. Thankfully she gets the chance she needs to get away from her now ex to start over being able to do what she wants to be happy as well as find someone who loves her for her. I love Warren he’s not your typical shifter he’s super adorable with his shifting issues and the fact that he wasn’t a player like his cousin I found appealing. I really enjoyed the chemistry between the two it was sweet yet steamy.

I’ve been burning through the Woodland Creek series what’s not to love about 30 unique shifter novels by 30 unique authors most of which I haven’t read before. Dream Catcher is a sweet steamy romance that explores the two broken people finding exactly what they have been missing. The characters are great we are given insight into each point of view and I found myself connecting with both. While this is my first novel by the author I’m sure it won’t be my last, because I loved every page and I was sad to see it end. The story is beautifully written and hard to put down it captured my heart as well as my imagination. High recommend for fans of PNR this series is fantastic!!!

Book Beginnings on Friday & The Friday 56

Book Beginnings on Friday & The Friday 56
Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
Share the first sentence of your current read and post it.
The Friday 56 is hosted by hosted by Freda's Voice 
Grab a book turn to page 56 or 56% share a sentence or a few

This weeks book is one that has been on my kindle a while and I decided to give it a shot since I've been in a funk. I'm not in to far but so far I like it a lot. 

My Current read is: 
by Alyssa Rose Ivy
Add to (Goodreads)

Share the first sentence of your current read and post it.

No one should be laid to rest alone.  

Grab a book turn to page 56 or 56% share a sentence or a few

I brought my plate over to the sink and started planning out my quiet evening at home. My options were limited. Either I could read a book or find something on the three channels of TV I got in the cottage. 

There's a new Alpha in town and he just found his mate, she just doesn't know it yet. 

Welcome to Crestview, Montana. Population ~1000 and not all of those are human. 

After his brother is murdered, Ian must step up to become Alpha of his bear shifter pack. At the same time law student Mara shows up in town, and Ian knows she’s destined to be his mate. 

When a rival pack lays claim to Mara, Ian and his brothers will stop at nothing to protect her. 

*New Adult Paranormal Romance*
What teasers do you have this week?

Follow Friday

Follow Friday
Hosted by:
The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!
Recently Feature & Follow has gotten a makeover now each week we will have a prompt to respond to. 

My email followers are low and I'm working on changing that. However you are welcome to follow in your preferred form.  If you want to follow via GFC just in case it goes away I ask you follow a second way, email, Linky, Bloglovin'. Thanks!!!!

This Week's Prompt:



1. Mercy Thompson - I adore Mercy from Patricia Briggs series. I'm a huge fan of urban fantasy and Mercy has everything I need for a great book. The best part is the novels are all about the story with just a touch of romance. She's a tough mechanic coyote shifter who runs with the big werewolves. I honestly love everything about the series one of my autobuy's that I will drop all books for this one. I've been reading her books since the very beginning. 

2. Stephanie Plum - was recommended to me when only the first book was out by the local little bookshop. I have lost many copies of her first book by loaning and never coming back. I have re-read the Stephanie Plum novels multiple times she's just a great mix of humor and mystery with sexy men. 

3. Faythe Sanders - I picked up the first on and ended up finishing them all over the next week. I had to see what was going to happen with Fathye. At the time not a lot of shifter novels on the market that aren't about wolves. I honestly loved every moment of the series and do hope to re-read them again 
This weeks prompt was a fun one I think it will be interesting to guess them. 

M9B Friday Reveal: SCEPTER OF FIRE

Today Vicki L. Weavil and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SCEPTER OF FIRE, a companion novel in the CROWN OF ICE Series! Which releases October 18, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive an eGalley!!

Here’s a message from the author.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier,” SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE, my retelling of “The Snow Queen.” It takes place a few years later, in the midst of an invasion by a power-mad foreign emperor, and includes most of the characters from CROWN OF ICE.

However the protagonist in SCEPTER OF FIRE is someone new—17yo Varna Lund, an ugly duckling among swans, who’s certain her destiny lies in taking on the mantle of village healer after the death of her aged mentor. But when a young soldier enlists her aid to care for his injured friend, Varna and her sister, Gerda, are catapulted into the war that has engulfed their country.
Forced to flee enemy troops with her sister and the two soldiers, Varna must also evade her mentor, Sten Rask—revealed to be a powerful mage seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former Snow Queen.

To protect the mirror, and their country, Varna, Gerda, and the soldiers join forces with a sorceress, an enchanted reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. But Varna faces a terrible temptation. Promised beauty and power by the devilishly handsome Rask, she must choose—achieve her own desires, or protect a society that has never embraced her.

The Cover:

I love how this cover matches the cover of CROWN OF ICE, and yet is different enough to set the books apart. Both feature striking young women, but whereas CROWN is glazed with icy blue tones, SCEPTER is saturated with reds, golds and other fiery hues. If you look closely, you can even see flames reflected in the girl’s eyes—very appropriate for a book that deals with sorcerers who wield fire. Although the cover model is not an “ugly duckling,” she does accurately reflect the protagonist during one portion of the book, which I will not reveal at this point due to “spoilers”! 

Author: Vicki L. Weavil
Pub. Date: October 18, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD |Goodreads

Sharp as pine needles, and twice as bitter, seventeen-year-old Varna Lund’s determined to become a healer. At least patients don’t care about her looks, unlike the young men who spurn
her for eighteen-year-old Gerda or even her younger sisters. An ugly duckling among swans,
Varna hopes to bury her passionate nature in useful work.

Her healing skills are put to the test when Varna encounters Erik Stahl, a young soldier who’s
deserted the battlefield to carry his injured friend, Anders Nygaard, to safety. Varna, enlisting the
aid of Gerda, cares for Anders in secret.

But a brutal betrayal catapults the four young people into life on the run, where Varna discovers
her old mentor is actually a powerful wizard. Seeking the enchanted mirror hidden by a former
Snow Queen, the wizard hopes to use Gerda as a pawn in his plan to aid the invading emperor.

Other forces ally against the wizard, including an auburn-haired sorceress, an enchanted
reindeer, a brilliant scholar, and a young woman traveling with a wolf. Along with the soldiers
and Gerda, they vow to prevent the mirror from falling into enemy hands. But tempted with promises of beauty and power from her now devilishly handsome mentor, Varna must choose
between her own desires and the good of a society that’s never embraced her.

Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”,
SCEPTER OF FIRE is a companion book to CROWN OF ICE.

Vicki L. Weavil was raised in a farming community in Virginia, where her life was shaped by a wonderful family, the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an obsession with reading. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from the University of Virginia, a Masters in Library Science from Indiana University, and a Masters in Liberal Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. After working as a librarian at the NY Public Library at Lincoln Center, and the Museum of Television & Radio (now the Paley Center for Media) in NYC, she is currently the Director for Library Services at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

Vicki loves good writing in any genre, and has been known to read seven books in as many days. She enjoys travel, gardening, and the arts. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband and some very spoiled cats. A member of SCBWI, Vicki is represented by Fran Black at Literary Counsel, NY, NY.

Where you can find Vicki: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr

1 winner will receive an eBook of CROWN OF ICE & an eGalley of SCEPTER OF FIRE (when available), International.

Book Blitz: Viktor


Clarissa Wild
Publication date: April 27th 2016
Genres: Adult, Romance, Suspense
*NOTE: This book is NOT Paranormal*

Animal. Monster. Beast. That’s what they call Viktor Melikov, the man who hides in the dark … But even monsters need to be loved. The moment he sees the girl hired to dance for him, everything ceases to exist. It’s a feeling he’s unfamiliar with … and craves more than anything.

Alexis Kidd sells her body. Not because she wants to, but because she needs to. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to support her family and survive.

Now she must dance for a man hiding behind a veil.

But when the urge to take a look grows too strong … Alexis gets more than she bargained for.
More than Viktor was willing to give.

Inspired by a fairytale, VIKTOR is a standalone Romance by New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author Clarissa Wild.
Without looking away, I grab the cereal and milk and pour them into my bowl. She takes another bite of her cereal, never taking her eyes off mine as I put the spoon in and taste it.
And then we sit and eat … and stare.
“Okay …” Winston says, and he grabs a newspaper and sits down on a stool in the kitchen and blocks us out while reading.
I don’t care. I’m not talking and neither is she. I’m not going to give her any more excuses to make a run for it, and she’s not telling me what she really thought when she saw me, so …
Something’s stuck to my face.
Sticky … milky … cereal.
And her face. It turns from a full-on frown to full-blown laughter.
She places her hand over her mouth, but it can’t hide her sly smile.
Grinding my teeth, I wipe my face off with a napkin and cock my head at her.
Slowly, I put the spoon back into the bowl, watching her stare as I bring it up to my face.
And then I quickly turn it around and catapult it at her.
It smashes right into her forehead.
I grin as it drips off her, and the smile is wiped off her face immediately.
“Motherfucker,” she growls, and she grabs another spoonful. “Oh, it’s on.”
Suddenly, we’re in an all-out war.
Cereal and milk flies everywhere. Spoons too.
“Hey! Watch it! I just bought new China,” Winston says, putting down his newspaper.
“Eat shit!” Alexis yells, throwing her entire bowl at my face.
I only barely manage to catch the bowl, without its contents … which are now splashed over my chest and the floor.
“Oh, now you’ve done it,” I growl, and I pick up my bowl, stand up, walk toward her … and throw it over the top of her head.
She squeals as the cold milk runs over her body, which only a thin nightgown covers. Her instantly hardening nipples catch my attention. They’re hard to miss, and I swallow back the emerging lust.
“Fuck. You’ll pay for that.”
Her fingers are on my chest before I know it, twisting my nipples.
“Ow! Fuck,” I scream, grabbing her wrists. “No, bad Lexi.”
“Woof,” she says, laughing.
I shake my head, laughing too.
I’m fucking angry she threw her food at me, but it was fucking fun too. I can’t decide which one is more important to feel right now.
But when I look into her eyes, everything ceases to matter.

Author Bio:
Want to be the first to get your hands on new books & get access to free short stories, giveaway prizes, previews, and more? Sign up here
Clarissa Wild is a New York Times & USA Today Bestselling author, best known for the dark Romance novel Mr. X. Her novels include the Fierce Series, the Delirious Series, and Stalker. She is also a writer of erotic romance such as the Blissful Series, The Billionaire's Bet series, and the Enflamed Series. She is an avid reader and writer of sexy stories about hot men and feisty women. Her other loves include her furry cat friend and learning about different cultures. In her free time she enjoys watching all sorts of movies, reading tons of books and cooking her favorite meals.
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Cover Reveal: Working Stiff: Casimir

Working Stiff: Casimir 

Blair Babylon
(Inheritance Trilogy, #1)
Publication date: May 17th 2016 
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Here’s the problem: when Rox was hired, she told her smoking-hot boss Cash that she was married, but she’s not. Now, three years later, she’s kind of accidentally living with him, and he’s being a perfect gentleman, dang it.
Everybody in the office said that Cash was a heartbreaker, that he’d bump her and dump her, so Rox decided not to become a statistic. She went out and bought herself some rings of the finest cubic zirconia so that she could work with Cash, who was several inches over six feet tall, emerald-eyed, ripped, gorgeous, his tailored suit clinging to his athletic body, sporting a British accent, and loaded.
It had seemed like such a good plan at the time.
But now, three years later, she and Cash have become friends. They travel together for work often, and they’re the best of buddies.When Rox gets thrown out of her apartment, Cash insists that she come live with him until they can find her a place because that’s what friends do.
Now, even though everyone insists that Cash never goes after married women, something about him has changed. There are little touches, little slips, and Rox is more and more tempted to tell hunky, gorgeous Cash that she never was married.
And then he’ll take her and break her, and then he’ll walk away, and then she’ll lose her job, and she still hasn’t found a place to live.
And yet, every time her looks at her with mischief in his dark green eyes, every time they’re teasing and it somehow turns into tickling, every time she swats at him and somehow ends up in his arms, she wants so much to risk everything.
What’s a working stiff to do when she falls in love with her friend, the boss?
Author Bio:
Blair Babylon often releases ebooks at a special release-day price of 99c.
To never miss a sale, CLICK HERE:
Blair Babylon is the nom de plume of an award-winning, USA Today-bestselling author who used to publish literary fiction. Because professional reviews of her other fiction usually included the caveat that there was too much deviant sex and too much interesting plot, she decided to abandon all literary pretensions, let her freak flag fly, and write hot, sexy, erotic romance, plus wild, suspenseful thrillers, science fiction, and urban fantasy using the super-secret pen name Blair C. Babylon.
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Thursday, April 28, 2016

W... W... W... Wednesdays & What Are You Reading Wednesdays

W... W... W... Wednesdays
W...W...W... Wednesdays is a weekly meme hosted by Jenn at A Daily Rhythm. Be sure to link up to her so others can see what your reading.

To play along, just answer the following three (3) questions..
1.What are you currently reading?  
2.What did you recently finish reading? 
3.What do you think you'll read next? 


 1.What are you currently reading? Dream Catcher by M.C. Cerny - Add to (Goodreads)
2.What did you recently finish? The Viking's Curse by Xandra James - Add to (Review)
3.What do you think you'll read next? Hunt by Alyssa Rose Ivy - Add to (Goodreads)

What Are You Reading Wednesdays
Hosted by It's A Reading Thing
How it works
Grab the book your currently reading and answer the following questions.
1. What's the name of your current read? 

2. Go to page 34 in your book or 34% in your eBook and share one complete sentence. 

3. Would you like to live in the world that exists within your book? Why or why not?

1.   Dream Catcher by M.C. Cerny - Add to (Goodreads)
2. "Trust is hard to come by. That's why my circle is small and tight. 
I'm kind of funny about making new friends." Eminem
3. I'm in love with the Woodland Creek series it's quickly become one of my favorites and I love Kerri and Warren's story so far. 

How about you? How are you coming on your reading?

From the Review Pile

From the Review Pile 

From the Review Pile is a meme hosted by Stepping Out of the Page every Thursday.
The aim of this meme is to showcase books that you've received for review (or if you don't receive review books, any book that you own and really want to read/review) but haven't yet got around to reading, in order to give the book some extra publicity.

I know that a lot of you have a huge pile of books that you want to read/review, but it understandably takes a while to get around to reading them all - here you can give a book (or two!) some of the publicity that it deserves, even if you haven't read it yet!

While browsing my old meme posts I used to do I happened across this one. I haven't done one since 2013 but I am ready to start it up again. I love talking about all the wonderful review books I have. 

This weeks review book is one that has been on my kindle for several days but I haven't made it to them yet. While I haven't gotten to it yet the plan is to read it next. 

by Alyssa Rose Ivy
Add to (Goodreads)
Find it on (Amazon)

There's a new Alpha in town and he just found his mate, she just doesn't know it yet. 

Welcome to Crestview, Montana. Population ~1000 and not all of those are human. 

After his brother is murdered, Ian must step up to become Alpha of his bear shifter pack. At the same time law student Mara shows up in town, and Ian knows she’s destined to be his mate. 

When a rival pack lays claim to Mara, Ian and his brothers will stop at nothing to protect her. 

*New Adult Paranormal Romance*

What's on your review pile this week?

Release Day: Hunt

There's a new Alpha in town and he just found his mate, she just doesn't know it yet.
Welcome to Crestview, Montana. Population ~1000 and not all of those are human. After his brother is murdered, Ian must step up to become Alpha of his bear shifter pack. At the same time law student Mara shows up in town, and Ian knows she’s destined to be his mate. When a rival pack lays claim to Mara, Ian and his brothers will stop at nothing to protect her. 

About Alyssa Rose Ivy
Alyssa Rose Ivy is the bestselling author of more than twenty-five novels with over half a million books sold worldwide. She loves to weave stories with romance and humor, and she is best known for writing about college boys with wings and skinny dipping. After surviving law school and earning her masters in library science, she turned back to her creative side and decided to write. Although raised in the New York area, she fell in love with the South after moving to New Orleans for college. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and two young children, and she can usually be found with a cup of coffee in her hand.



Dust off your Bookshelf was originally created to share books that have been on my “to read pile” for a long time. Some so long I’ve forgotten that they are there, and have purchased duplicate copies. Each week I will share on my blog as well as Instagram a new title. Some may be newer and some so old I have forgotten they are there. I do have issues with buying books and never reading them. I’m hoping that by share them I will be motivated to read them. Plus it’s always fun to find new books hiding within the bookshelves. Feel free to join in and share on Instagram or your blog. Just let me know so I can check out your choice this week too. Just use #DustOffYourBookshelf

I've been trying to read more of my kindle books. This one has a pretty cover and sounds interesting. I'm an addict for paranormal romance. 
My book choice this week 

by Felicity Hunt
Add to (Goodreads)

Twenty-one year-old Teal Rhines is a one-time child star turned Hollywood darling. She's loved by the public and media alike for her tenacity and strength. Orphaned and abandoned as a baby, emancipated at sixteen, she is a role model to many. Now, as her new television show is taking off, her future looks bright. 

But when her new bodyguard, the attractive Elias Bane, shows interest in her, she never dreams that he is a part of the same supernatural world that her mother fled. The mother she never knew. Like many adopted children, Teal Rhines has always wondered about her biological parents. Who they were. Why they'd abandoned her. In all of her imaginings, she's never gotten close to the truth. 

But when the truth is revealed, loyalties are tested. Love is put on trial. And danger is closer than she realizes. 
Feel free to dig through your shelves and share what you find. 
Please leave a comment telling me where I can check it out.

Chapter Reveal: The Goodbye Year


Today we are sharing a chapter reveal for THE GOODBYE YEAR from USA Today bestselling author Kaira Rouda. This is a Women's Fiction novel. Be sure to check out the pre-order links below and early reviews for the title.

Goodbye Year cover


Melanie, a perfectionist mom who views the approaching end of parenting as a type of death, can’t believe she has only one more year to live vicariously through her slacker senior son, Dane. Gorgeous mom Sarah has just begun to realize that her only daughter, Ashley, has been serving as a stand-in for her traveling husband, and the thought of her daughter leaving for college is cracking the carefully cultivated fa├žade of her life. Will and his wife are fine―as long as he follows the instructions on the family calendar and is sure to keep secret his whole other life with Lauren, the woman he turns to for fun (and who also happens to have a daughter in the senior class).

Told from the points of view of both the parents and the kids, The Goodbye Year explores high school peer pressure, what it’s like for young people to face the unknown of life after high school, and how a transition that should be the beginning of a couple’s second act together―empty nesting―might possibly be the end.



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks | GooglePlay

  Redbook preorder

CHAPTER ONE Wednesday, September 10th


Melanie Bronson needed to sit down. Beads of sweat soaked her forehead, no doubt ruining the blowout she’d just sat through at the salon. She smelled the toxic scent of wet hairspray, reconstituting into a noxious chemical that would run down her face. Her unruly dark hair was best left to the experts, especially on humid nights like these, but once her tamed mane was exposed to moisture, all bets were off. She wore sensible black pumps, a black sheath dress which she loved for its lack of a waistline, and her favorite pearl choker. She looked very much the part of a proud mom of a high school senior, she thought. It didn’t matter what she wore though, she’d always be an outsider here. It was as if her hair knew she didn’t fit in and behaved accordingly. She reached her son Dane’s locker and noticed the lock flipped upside down. She touched the shiny cold surface of the back of the lock, wondering how he even opened the thing to get inside his locker. She shook her head, rubbing under her eyes, trying to keep the tears that were beginning to flow from ruining her mascara. Poor Dane, she thought. Someone must be bullying him again. This was not a good sign. She had Googled Empty Nest Syndrome and knew it was her job this, their final year together, to be certain he could handle the real world. This lock was just another example of why he wasn’t ready, why she wasn’t ready. Suddenly, a boy—or really, she had to admit, looking at his facial hair and sculpted jaw, a man—ran past her wearing a maroon Crystal Beach High School sweatshirt and sweat pants. His dark eyes darted her direction, taking her in, before run- ning past her and disappearing around the corner. She saw his last name printed in block letters on the back of his sweatshirt: WINSTON. She shook her head. It was wrong. All of this. Him, the running, the stupid locker, the fact that she’d soon be a parent without a purpose. Would she even have a reason to get out of bed once Dane left for college, she wondered? Every- thing was moving too fast. “Hey slow down,” she yelled into the now empty quad. She should know every kid here, she thought, but Melanie had never seen the boy WINSTON before. She wondered if he was new, wondered if Dane knew him. Of course, that would just be another conversation they hadn’t had recently. If Melanie and Dane talked at all these days, it invariably wound up with a fight. Dane saying he was a loser and a disappoint- ment, Melanie trying to make him believe she didn’t think so. As she brushed another tear away she reached into her purse for her pink frost lipstick, a 1980s holdover that she couldn’t shake. Lips freshly aglow, she touched Dane’s lock one last time, squared her shoulders and walked in the direction the man child had just jogged, toward the heart of the school. The ground shifted beneath her feet again as she reached the showcase of the school, the beautiful palm tree-dotted, green grass dappled quad. As she searched for somewhere to sit down, Melanie looked around to see if what she was experiencing could be explained by an earthquake. But no one was ducking and covering. And there was nowhere to sit down. All she could see were white concrete planters filled with palm trees punctuating the broad swath of grass that constituted the daytime gathering spot for the teenagers who typically filled this place. The picnic tables had been removed because it was Parent’s Night. As a trickle of sweat rolled between her shoulder blades, Melanie took a deep, cleansing breath. The quad was almost empty, a few other parental stragglers attempted to find their way through the maze of buildings that formed the high school campus. Most of the other parents in the quad, heads bent together studying the school map in the dimming light, were couples. They were in this together. I’ll kill Keith if I survive this, she muttered. This morning, she’d begged her husband to come with her, knowing her last Parent’s Night would, in all like- lihood, cause a panic attack. “Honey, you know that school and everybody in it like the back of your hand. You’ll be fine,” Keith had said, patting her on the shoulder before leaving for work. But she knew he was wrong. Another wave of dizziness swooped over Melanie, and she lurched over to the closest planter, perching as daintily as possible on the edge, knowing her black linen sheath dress would still pick up some nasty high school gunk. She shouldn’t have chugged the glass of chardonnay at home, she knew, but she had told herself it would calm her nerves. Keith couldn’t miss his dinner event, business of course, so she had been forced to tackle Parent Night solo. That was not something she was fond of, especially not with this child, her last and final parental product. To say Dane was a slacker was being kind. Poor Dane. “Hello Mrs. Bronson,” a perky red head said waving from across the quad as she hurried over. Even in the descending fog, Melanie knew it was omnipresent Annie, ready to help at all events where adults in general and parents in particular could see her shine. Annie had been assigned to escort Dane around on his first day at school, arriving as they had in his ninth grade year. Things had gone downhill for him since then. But not for Annie, who was already admitted to the Ivy League school of her choice based on her volleyball and academic prowess even though it was only September. Melanie still didn’t understand how that was possible, as she pinched her palm and reminded herself she had Seth. He was her overachiever. Her reason for school pride. She was batting fifty percent, even as Annie’s parents were three for three at the Ivys. Who does that, really? Freaks, Melanie thought as she painted on a smile. “Are you lost?” Annie asked, big brown eyes blinking with genuine concern, or perhaps pity. Melanie deserved both she realized. “Oh, no, dear, just waiting for second period. Dane has a free first,” Melanie said, a bit too brightly. If only the quad would stop swaying, she thought, wiping her forehead with the back of her hand. “Lucky. My mom won’t let me have a free period, even,” Annie said, not finishing the sentence. “Even though you’re already admitted somewhere fabulous, aren’t you?” Melanie asked, dreading the answer as it would force her own son’s inferiority out into the open, like a boulder landing in the space between them. “Well, I still need to keep my grades up, but yes, I signed with Harvard,” Annie said, shoving her hands in her jeans back pockets as Melanie felt the thud. “I can’t wait to start living my own life.” Melanie braced herself on the planter, both hands on the now dew-covered cold white plaster. “That’s wonderful, dear. Your parents must be so proud.” Blessedly, the bell rang, and classroom doors burst open as overachieving parents filled the quad, scampering to their next classroom and providing Melanie with the opportunity to escape. “I’ve got to go. See you later!” Pushing off the planter, Melanie headed down a ramp in the direction of the athletic field, smiling at the memory of Seth’s senior year. He’d been captain of the football team, on the homecoming court, ASB president, and a National Merit Scholar. He’d been everything you could be in high school, even though he’d arrived here his junior year. He was continuing that success in college. Dane, her other son, tried hard to be the opposite, Melanie thought as she walked slowly into the silk-screening classroom. Of course Dane’s first class of the day was one established to prepare him and others of his ilk for menial labor. Melanie squinted her eyes at the glare from the fluorescent lights, dropped her head and entered the room, hoping no one would recognize her from her past PTA involvement two years earlier when she had been able to shine in the reflected brilliance of Seth’s achievements. She’d never been inside any of the “work/study” classrooms, though she’d been on committees that approved supplies for these types of kids. The fluorescent lights inside the large classroom seemed to flatten out all of the features of the parents as they each picked a stool and climbed aboard. The room smelled like overheated computers, a vaguely car-tire smell. The teacher, a man with a ponytail down his back of all things, smiled and nodded from his perch at the head of the long table. Melanie felt certain things could not get any worse until perfect Dr. Jud Nelson and his perfect wife, Sarah, strolled in, sucking up the attention in the room as if their entrance had been preceded by an announcer. Melanie knew why, of course. All the men wanted to be him, most all the women of her age in town had a crush on him. Dr. Nelson, the leading plastic surgeon in town, was gorgeous, with a strong cleft chin, perfect teeth and a broad, white- toothed smile and flowing dark hair. His twinkling blue eyes made the women in town swoon even while he was tucking and plumping their bodies. He also had invented some technology that was now used in surgeries internationally, a patent worth billions. Even so, he continued to work at his practice when he wasn’t lecturing abroad. Dr. Nelson had “refreshed” more women’s faces in Crystal Beach than anyone, including at least a dozen of Melanie’s friends’. She’d considered going to see him herself, just for a consultation of course, but had always lost her nerve. Primarily, she realized, because she didn’t want his wife to know, nor did she want her look. She’d never be able to go back home to Ohio if she looked anything like Sarah Nelson, a look perfected by Real Housewives on both coasts. There was a reason there wasn’t a Real Housewives of Ohio or Ohio, Melanie knew. But here, in Crystal Beach, Sarah Nelson was the queen bee. With her long, blonde hair—rumored to be enhanced by extensions but no one dared ask—overly plumped lips, sculpted body with round globe breasts and an expressionless face, frequent trips to LA for shopping—Sarah was both untouchably perfect and somehow ethereal, revered by all the women in town. Melanie was completely intimidated by her and had been since she’d arrived in town from Ohio, only to find herself living just down the street from the queen in Diamond Bay, their exclusive gated community. To make matters worse, the Nelsons were the parents of a perfect daughter, Ashley, a senior like Dane, who no doubt had never set foot in shop class and probably already had signed with an Ivy League school. Melanie felt the trickle of sweat between her shoulder blades turning into a small river. From the front of the classroom, Sarah shot Melanie a look that was her version of a smile, an open-mouthed sort of movement that she would need to employ to eat, if she did that. The sides of her mouth did tilt up a bit with the gesture and Melanie gave her a wave. The families were social friends, members of the same country club, neighbors and, for the past four years, thrown together during various kid-related events and PTA meetings. Whenever she was around Sarah, Melanie felt bland and doughy. Whenever she was around Sarah, she wanted to schedule an appointment with Sarah’s husband. But, now she was simply annoyed. How had the Nelsons discovered her here, in shop class? She didn’t know why, but Jud and Sarah Nelson’s very presence in this room was causing a piercing headache just above Melanie’s right eye. Her eyes rolled involuntarily as he pulled out a stool two down from hers and settled Sarah into it and then sat down next to her, giving her a peck on the cheek in the process. “Mel, you look lovely this evening,” he said into her ear, while settling in and waving hi to all of his fans and minions gathered around the shop table. She knew she should feel honored by his seat selection, and his overt display of their personal closeness, but she wasn’t. She couldn’t put a finger on what it was about him, but something just didn’t add up. Melanie was about to ask him if Ashley was in the class—maybe it was her secret love of silk screening?—just to make small talk, when the hippie teacher cleared his throat. It didn’t matter, she supposed, but a wave of relief washed over her that the Nelsons’ perfect kid was in a screen-printing class with Dane. Maybe her son and Ashley sat next to each other, worked on projects together, she thought. Melanie sat up a little taller on her stool, and smoothed her black sheath dress. She closed her right eye and that eased the headache. At least she’d stopped sweating for the moment. “Thank you all for coming tonight. Parent involvement is what makes Crystal Beach High School one of the best in the state of California, am I right?” hippie teacher said by way of introduction. She wondered if he was high. He could be high. Maybe that’s what Melanie needed to do, she thought. She needed to be stoned to make it through the night. “Thanks to the big donation from Dr. Nelson, Mrs. Nelson, and the Nelson Medical Group our kids have a brand new screen-printing machine. Can I get a round of applause for Dr. Nelson here?” As Melanie joined in the clapping, her face began to turn red. Ashley Nelson wasn’t in this class for dummies, she realized. The Nelsons were simply here to soak up kudos for helping the poor kids who would never amount to anything. Kids like Dane, her tall, dark and handsome hipster son. Her youngest son was a failure who wouldn’t speak to her in complete sentences any longer. Their relationship had turned toxic and she didn’t know why. All she wanted was the best for him during their last year together but, as far as she could tell, all he wanted was to hide out in his bedroom playing video games and ignoring homework. He would not be venturing off to an Ivy League college. Dane might not even make it to community college. He might work in a print shop. This room could be his future? How will I ever show my face around town? Melanie wondered, pulling at her pearl necklace to keep it from choking her. Suddenly the room started to spin, and as she looked at the sea of fluorescent parent faces, the scene began to flash black and white and her ears filled with a rushing water noise as if someone had opened a firehose. The last thing she remembered was turning, stricken, to grab Jud’s shoulder before everything went blank. . . .

funny, insightful May 3


Kaira Rouda is a USA Today bestselling, multiple award-winning author of contemporary women's fiction and sexy modern romance novels that sparkle with humor and heart. Her women's fiction titles include HERE, HOME, HOPE, ALL THE DIFFERENCE and IN THE MIRROR. Her bestselling short story is titled, A MOTHER'S DAY. Kaira's work has won the Indie Excellence Award, USA Book Awards, the Reader's Choice Awards and honorable mention in the Writer's Digest International Book Awards. Her books have been widely reviewed and featured in leading magazines. 

 Her sexy contemporary romance series set on INDIGO ISLAND includes: WEEKEND WITH THE TYCOON, Book 1; HER FORBIDDEN LOVE, Book 2; THE TROUBLE WITH CHRISTMAS, Book 3; and THE BILLIONAIRE'S BID, Book 4. Each of these novellas can be read as a stand alone, or enjoyed as a series. Her new series is set in LAGUNA BEACH and includes: LAGUNA NIGHTS, Book 1; LAGUNA HEIGHTS, Book 2; and LAGUNA LIGHTS, Book 3 coming winter 2015. She also helped launch Melissa Foster's The Remington's Kindle World with her bestselling novella, SPOTLIGHT ON LOVE, and is part of Carly Phillips Dare to Love Kindle World with THE CELEBRITY DARE. 

 Her nonfiction titles, REAL YOU INCORPORATED: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs, and REAL YOU FOR AUTHORS: 8 Essentials for Women Writers (available for free download on her website) continue to inspire. 

 She lives in Southern California with her husband and four almost-grown kids, and is at work on her next novel. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books and on her website,  

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