Cover Reveal: Coming Home to Penvennan Cove by Lynn B. Halton

About the book

Can Kerra’s Cornish hometown offer the fresh start she needs?

 

When Kerra left the quiet Cornish town of Penvennan Cove for the bright lights of London she didn’t look back. But after the death of her mother, she’s decided it’s time to face her past and return to the place she called home. Her father needs her, and perhaps she needs him more than she’s willing to admit?
Tackling town gossip, home renovations and a flame from her past, it’s not quite smooth sailing for Kerra. Ross is the bad boy she was meant to forget, not a man who still sets her heart aflutter. As he helps bring her dream home to life, they begin to break down the barriers that have been holding them back and in the process learn things about themselves they never thought possible.
As friends old and new come together, the future in Penvennan looks bright.
 

 

About the author

 

From interior designer to author, when Linn B. Halton’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture or working in the garden. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance: Innovation in Romantic Fiction award; her novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the eFestival of Words Book Awards. Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she freely admits she’s an eternal romantic. Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors. Linn writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.

 

Follow Linn:

Facebook: @LinnBHaltonAuthor

Twitter: @LinnBHalton

Website: http://www.linnbhalton.co.uk

 

 

Buy links:

 

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3imrixN

Kobo: https://bit.ly/3f1Nknq

Google Play: https://bit.ly/2VBXlA7

 

 

 

Follow Aria

 

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

Blog Tour: Excerpt of  No One Saw by Beverly Long

No One Saw

Author: Beverly Long

ISBN: 9780778309659

Publication Date: June 30, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books

Buy Links:

Harlequin

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @BevLongBooks

Instagram: #BeverlyLong

Facebook: @BeverlyLongAuthor

Goodreads

Author Bio: 

Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side.

Book Summary:

Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, NO ONE SAW (MIRA Mass Market Paperback; June 30, 2020; $7.99), a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out.

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.

Excerpt

One

With a week’s worth of mail in one hand, A.L. McKittridge unlocked his apartment door with the other. Then he dragged his carry-on suitcase inside, almost tripping over Felix, who had uncharacteristically left his spot by the window where the late afternoon sun poured in. He tossed the collection of envelopes and free weekly newspapers onto his kitchen table and bent down to scratch his cat. “You must have missed me,” he said. “Wasn’t Rena nice to you?”

His partner had sent a text every day. Always a picture. Felix eating. Felix taking a dump. Felix giving himself a bath. No messages. Just visual confirmation that all was well while he was off in sunny California, taking a vacation for the first time in four years.

I can take care of your damn cat, she’d insisted. And while he hadn’t wanted to bother her because she’d have plenty to do picking up the slack at work, she was the only one he felt he could ask. His ex-wife Jacqui would have said no. His just turned seventeen-year-old daughter, Traci, would have been willing but he hadn’t liked the idea of her coming round to an empty apartment on her own.

Baywood, Wisconsin—population fifty thousand and change—was generally pretty safe but he didn’t believe in taking chances. Not with Traci’s safety. She’d been back in school for just a week. Her senior year. How the hell was that even possible? College was less than a year away.

No wonder his knees ached. He was getting old.

Or maybe it was flying coach for four hours. But the trip had been worth it. Tess had wanted to see the ocean. Wanted to face her nemesis, she’d claimed. And she’d been a champ. Had stood on the beach where less than a year earlier, she’d almost died after a shark had ripped off a sizable portion of her left arm. Had lifted her pretty face to the wind and stared out into the vast Pacific.

She hadn’t surfed. Said she wasn’t ready for that yet. But he was pretty confident that she’d gotten the closure that she’d been looking for. She’d slept almost the entire flight home, her head resting on A.L.’s shoulder. On the hour-plus drive from Madison to Baywood, she’d been awake but quiet. When he’d dropped her off at her house, she hadn’t asked him in.

He wasn’t offended. He’d have said no anyway. After a week together, they could probably both benefit from a little space. Their relationship was just months old and while the sex was great and the conversation even better, neither of them wanted to screw it up by jumping in too fast or too deep.

Now he had groceries to buy and laundry to do. It was back to work tomorrow. He grabbed the handle of his suitcase and was halfway down the hall when his cell rang. He looked at the number. Rena. Probably wanted to make sure he was home and Felix-watch was over. “McKittridge,” he answered.

“Where are you?”

“Home.”

“Oh, thank God.”

He let go of his suitcase handle. Something was wrong. “What’s up?” he asked.

“We’ve got a missing kid. Five-year-old female. Lakeside Learning Center.”

Missing kid. Fuck. He glanced at his watch. Just after 6:00. That meant they had less than two hours of daylight left. “I’ll be there in ten minutes.”

The Lakeside Learning Center on Oak Avenue had a fancier name than building. It was a two-story building with brown clapboard siding on the first floor and tan vinyl siding on the second. There wasn’t a lake in sight.

The backyard was fenced with something a bit nicer than chain link but not much. Inside the fence was standard playground equipment: several small plastic playhouses, a sandbox on legs and a swing set. The building was located at the end of the block in a mixed-use zone. Across from the front door and on the left were single-person homes. To the right, directly across Wacker Avenue, was a sandwich shop, and kitty-corner was a psychic who could only see the future on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

A.L. took all this in as he beached his SUV in a no parking zone. Stepped over the yellow tape and made a quick stop to sign in with the cop who was at the door.

everybody who entered and exited the crime scene.

Once he was inside, his first impression was that the inside was much better than the outside. The interior had been gutted, erasing all signs that this had once been the downstairs of a 1960s two-story home. There was a large open space to his right. On the far wall hung a big-screen television and on the wall directly opposite the front door were rows of shelves, four high, stacked with books, games and small toys.

It was painted in a cheery yellow and white and the floor was a light gray tile. There was plenty of natural light coming through the front windows. The hallway he was standing in ran the entire length of the building and ended in a back door.

There was a small office area to his left. The door was open and there was a desk with a couple guest chairs. The space looked no bigger than ten feet by ten feet and was currently empty.

He sent Rena a text. Here.

A door at the far end of the hallway opened and Rena and a woman, middle-aged and white, dressed in khaki pants and a dark green button-down shirt, appeared. Rena waved at him and led the woman in his direction. “This is my partner, Detective McKittridge,” she said to the woman. She looked at A.L. “Alice Quest. Owner and director of Lakeside Learning Center.”

A.L. extended a hand to the woman. She shook it without saying anything.

“If you can excuse us,” Rena said to the woman. “I’d like to take a minute and bring Detective McKittridge up to speed.”

Alice nodded and stepped into the office. She pulled the door shut but not all the way. Rena motioned for A.L. to follow her. She crossed the big room and stopped under the television.

“What do we have?” he asked.

“Emma Whitman is a five-year-old female who has attended Lakeside Learning Center for the last two years. Her grandmother, Elaine Broadstreet, drops her off on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:15 and 7:30.”

Today was Wednesday. “Did that happen today?”

“I have this secondhand, via her son-in-law who spoke to her minutes before I got here. It did.”

The hair on the back of A.L.’s neck stood up. When Traci had been little, she’d gone to day care. Not at Lakeside Learning Center. Her place had been bigger. “How many kids are here?” he asked.

“Forty. No one younger than three. No one older than five. They have two rooms, twenty kids to a room. Threes and early fours in one room. Older fours and fives in the other. Two staff members in each room. So four teachers. And a cook who works a few hours midday. And then there’s Alice. She fills in when a staff member needs a break or if someone is ill.”

Small operation. That didn’t mean bad. “Where are the other staff?”

“Majority of the kids get picked up by 5:30. According to Alice, she covers the center by herself from 5:30 to 6:00 most days to save on payroll costs. Emma Whitman is generally one of the last ones to be picked up. Everybody else was gone tonight and she’d already locked the outside door around 5:45 when the father pulled up and pounded on the door. At first, she assumed that somebody else had already picked up Emma. But once Troy called his wife and the grandmother, the only other people allowed to pick her up, she called Kara Wiese, one of Emma’s teachers, who said that Emma hadn’t been there all day. That was the first time Alice had thought about the fact that the parents had not reported an absence. She’d been covering for an ill staff member in the classroom that Emma is not assigned to.”

Perfect fucking storm.

Excerpted from No One Saw by Beverly Long, Copyright © 2020 by Beverly Long.

Published by MIRA Books

Blog Tour: In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

About the Book: 

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.
“The story may be set in the past, but it couldn’t be a more timely reminder that true courage comes not from fitting in, but from purposefully standing out . . . and that to find out who you really are, you have to first figure out what you’re not.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

 

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

About the Author: 

Susan Kaplan Carlton currently teaches writing at Boston University. She is the author of Love & Haight and Lobsterland; her writing has also appeared in Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and Seventeen. She lived for a time with her family in Atlanta, where her daughters learned the finer points of etiquette from a little pink book and the power of social justice from their synagogue.

My Review: 

In The Neighborhood of True, after a personal tragedy, Ruth Robb and her family move from New York City to Atlanta. Ruth and her sister are Jewish. 
When she gets to Atlanta, Ruth finds sun, heat sweet tea and……the “Pastel Posse”- the “it” girls at school. The options are clear: Jewish or poular, not both. Ruth must decide what she wants if she she is to fit in in her new surroundings. 
Then, she meets Davis at an all-White Christian club. 
When she meets Max at their local Synagogue, her choices are even more complicated. With the eruption of a hate crime, Ruth must decide who she really is and what her beliefs are. 
In The Neighborhood of True is a deep and meaningful portrait of life in 1958 Atlanta and explores religious conflict, culture and lifestyle. It’s marketed as YA historical fiction but the themes are harsh realities even today. That’s why I would call it timely. 
I loved the cover and the writing style. This is my first novel by Susan Kaplan Carlton. If you want to dive into a novel that’s rich in 1950s US culture and issues, this is for you. 
I’m not from the US but I was drawn into this book and was hooked by it. I think this is fascinting wherever you’re from. Algonquin was right in their review information for this that that people who loved Jodi Picoult’s books (particularly similar in some subject matter to Small Great Things) will love this. It’s meaty yet easy to follow, honest absorbing and rich. 
The similarity with Jodi Picoult is something I didn’t mind at all- I love her books and I want to review more by Susan Kaplan Carlton. 
Thanks to Susan Kaplan Carlton and Algonquin Books for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 
5 stars.

Buy the Book HERE

Coming Soon to my Blog: In the Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton

I’m really pleased to announce that Algonquin Publishing asked me to spread the word about In The Neighborhood of True by Susan Kaplan Carlton. 

My blog tour post will be here on July 5th but here’s a synopsis if you’re curious about the book in the meantime:

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.
“The story may be set in the past, but it couldn’t be a more timely reminder that true courage comes not from fitting in, but from purposefully standing out . . . and that to find out who you really are, you have to first figure out what you’re not.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things
After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

 

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.

I can’t wait to share my thoughs about this novel with you- I love the cover! 

Used Products and Life Update: June

My used products this month are: 
Urban Decay Primer Potion in “Original”

Clarins Multi Active Nuit Revitalizing Night Cream
Here we are at the end of June and 6 months of the year are gone. That seems good to me since this is proving to be such a horrible year for so many people.
I got through so many beautiful books. Here are some of the ones I loved: 

The Bitter and Sweet of Cherry Season by Molly Fader

That Summer in Maine by Brianna Wolfson

She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway

All the other books I reviewed are here on my blog. 
There were a few that I really didn’t like so much: 

The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker

The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton
I really enjoyed AutoCrit’s Short   Story challenge and J. Thorn’s 5 Day Supercharge your Scene challenge and bonus 10- class course. 

I didn’t win the first 2 challenges I mention here but half the winning is taking part.

I had 2 online events today: an Autocrit author chat and also a DIY MFA webinar on how to start and grow your site email list. I missed them in the end and look forward to getting replays. 

Harlequin Summer Reads Blog Tour: The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton

THE LAST WIFE

Author: Karen Hamilton

ISBN: 9781525831744

Publication Date: July 7, 2020

Publisher: Graydon House Books

Buy Links:

Harlequin

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Books-A-Million

Powell’s

Social Links:

Author Website

Twitter: @KJHAuthor

Instagram: @karenhamiltonauthor

Facebook: @KarenHamiltonWriter

Goodreads

About the Author:

Karen Hamilton spent her childhood in Angola, Zimbabwe, Belgium and Italy and worked as a flight attendant for many years. Karen is a recent graduate of the Faber Academy and, having now put down roots in Hampshire to raise her young family with her husband, she satisfies her wanderlust by exploring the world through her writing. She is also the author of the international bestseller The Perfect Girlfriend.

About the Book:

In Karen Hamilton’s shocking thriller, THE LAST WIFE (Graydon House, July 7, $17.99) Marie Langham is distraught when her childhood friend, Nina, is diagnosed with a terminal illness. Before Nina passes away, she asks Marie to look out for her family—her son, daughter, and husband, Stuart. Marie would do anything for Nina, so of course, she agrees.

Following Nina’s death, Marie gradually finds herself drawn into her friend’s life—her family, her large house in the countryside. But when Camilla, a mutual friend from their old art-college days, suddenly reappears, Marie begins to suspect that she has a hidden agenda. Then, Marie discovers that Nina had long suppressed secrets about a holiday in Ibiza the women took ten years previously when Marie’s then-boyfriend went missing after a tragic accident and was later found dead.

Marie used to envy Nina’s beautiful life, but now the cards are up in the air and she begins to realize that nothing is what it seemed. As long-buried secrets start surfacing, Marie must figure out what’s true and who she can trust before the consequences of Nina’s dark secrets destroy her.

My Review:

Karen Hamilton is a new publisher to me as I haven’t yet got a copy of The Perfect Girlfriend.
The plot sounded great. Two women. A dying wish and a web of lies. I was intrigued.
What would you do if your best friend was suddenly diagnosed with a terminal illness? How would you feel? Then, what if she asked you to fulfill her dying wishes?

That’s exactly the situation Nina was in when she asked Marie to fulfil her wishes.
But Marie wants Nina’s life and she’ll do whatever she has to to get it.
Marie feels she is self-sufficient in being able to carry out Nina’s wishes. But will she get her way or more than she bargained for?
I was so excited at the start of this. But unfortunately the pace was too slow and I wasn’t as hooked as I hoped I’d be. I didn’t feel like I could feel, or root, for any of the characters and I have many thrillers I absolutely loved because the writing and plot twists meant I was compelled to do so.
Unfortunately, I came away disappointed with this one. Despite the premise, it was not a thriller that sucked me in and kept me there. And I usually love a Harlequin!
Thanks to Karen Hamilton and Harlequin/Graydon House Books for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
I’ll try The Perfect Girlfriend.
3.5 stars
PROLOGUE

Clients trust me because I blend in. It’s a natural skill—my gift, if you like. I focus my lens and capture stories, like the ones unfolding tonight: natural and guarded expressions, self-conscious poses, joyous smiles, reluctant ones from a teenage bridesmaid, swathed in silver and bloodred. The groom is an old friend, yet I’ve only met his now-wife twice. She seems reserved, hard to get to know, but in their wedding album she’ll glow. The camera does lie. My role is to take these lies and spin them into the perfect story.

I take a glass of champagne from a passing server. I needn’t be totally on the ball during the latter half of the evening because by then, people naturally loosen up. I find that the purest details are revealed in the discreet pictures I snatch during the final hours, however innocuously an event starts. And besides, it seems this event is winding down.

The one downside of my job is the mixed bag of emotions evoked. I rarely take family photos anymore, so normally, I’m fine, but today, watching the wedding festivities, the longing for what I don’t have has crept up on me. People think that envy is a bad thing, but in my opinion, envy is a positive emotion. It has always been the best indicator for me to realize what’s wrong with my life. People say, “Follow your dreams,” yet I’d say, “Follow what makes you sick with envy.”

It’s how I knew that I must stop deceiving myself and face up to how desperately I wanted to have a child. Delayed gratification is overrated.

I place my camera on a table as the tempo eases and sit down on a satin-draped chair. As I watch the bride sweep across the dance floor with her new husband, I think of Nina, and an overwhelming tide of grief floods through me. I picture her haunted expression when she elicited three final promises from me: two are easy to keep, one is not. Nonetheless, a vow is a vow. I will be creative and fulfill it. I have a bad—yet tempting—idea which occasionally beckons me toward a slippery slope.

I must do my best to avoid it because when Nina passed the baton to me, she thought I was someone she could trust. However, as my yearning grows, the crushing disappointment increases every month and the future I crave remains elusive. And she didn’t know that I’d do anything to get what I want. Anything.

ONE

Ben isn’t at home. I used to panic when that happened, assume that he was unconscious in a burning building, his oxygen tank depleted, his colleagues unable to reach him. All this, despite his assurance that they have safety checks in place to keep an eye out for each other. He’s been stressed lately, blames it on work. He loves his job as a firefighter, but nearly lost one of his closest colleagues in a fire on the fourth floor of a block of flats recently when a load of wiring fell down and threatened to ensnare him.

No, the reality is that he is punishing me. He doesn’t have a shift today. I understand his hurt, but it’s hard to explain why I did what I did. For a start, I didn’t think that people actually sent out printed wedding invitations anymore. If I’d known that the innocuous piece of silver card smothered in horseshoes and church bells would be the ignition for the worst argument we’d ever had, I wouldn’t have opened it in his presence.

Marie Langham plus guest…

I don’t know what annoyed Ben more, the fact that he wasn’t deemed important enough to be named or that I said I was going alone.

“I’m working,” I tried to explain. “The invitation is obviously a kind formality, a politeness.”

“All this is easily rectifiable,” he said. “If you wanted me there, you wouldn’t have kept me in the dark. The date was blocked off as work months ago in our calendar.”

True. But I couldn’t admit it. He wouldn’t appreciate being called a distraction.

Now, I have to make it up to him because it’s the right time of the month. He hates what he refers to as enforced sex (too much pressure), and any obvious scene-setting like oyster-and-champagne dinners, new lingerie, an invitation to join me in the shower or even a simple suggestion that we just shag, all the standard methods annoy him. It’s hard to believe that other couples have this problem, it makes me feel inadequate.

One of our cats bursts through the flap and aims for her bowl. I observe her munching, oblivious to my return home until this month’s strategy presents itself to me: nonchalance. A part of Ben’s stress is that he thinks I’m obsessed with having a baby. I told him to look up the true meaning of the word: an unhealthy interest in something. It’s not an obsession to desire something perfectly normal.

I unpack, then luxuriate in a steaming bath filled with bubbles. I’m a real sucker for the sales promises: relax and unwind and revitalize. I hear the muffled sound of a key in the lock. It’s Ben—who else would it be—yet I jump out and wrap a towel around me. He’s not alone. I hear the voices of our neighbors, Rob and Mike. He’s brought in reinforcements to maintain the barrier between us. There are two ways for me to play this and if you can’t beat them…

I dress in jeans and a T-shirt, twist my hair up and grip it with a hair clip, wipe mascara smudges from beneath my eyes and head downstairs.

“You’re back,” says Ben by way of a greeting. “The guys have come over for a curry.”

“Sounds perfect,” I say, kissing him before hugging our friends hello.

I feel smug at the wrong-footed expression on Ben’s face. He thought I’d be unable to hide my annoyance, that I’d pull him to one side and whisper, “It’s orange,” (the color my fertility app suggests is the perfect time) or suggest that I cook instead so I can ensure he eats as organically as possible.

“Who’s up for margaritas?” I say with an I’m game for a big night smile.

Ben’s demeanor visibly softens. Result. I’m forgiven.

The whole evening is an effortless success.

Indifference and good, old-fashioned getting pissed works.

Excerpted from The Last Wife by Karen Hamilton, Copyright © 2020 by Karen Hamilton

Published by Graydon House Books

The Quick and easy Guide to Sex and Disability by A. Andrews

I was happy when, at 24 years old, I fell in love. This was something I had always desired yet I was most concerned about my possible partner’s reaction to my body and scars from multiple brain surgeries.
For me, living with Spastic Quadriplegic Cerebral Palsy and Hydrocephalus as well as severe eyesight difficulties and being a wheelchair user held enough challenges but I was accepted without question for who I am. 
14 years later, and at the time of this review, we are not long away from celebrating our first wedding anniversary. 
I gained confidence in sexual matters because of my husband’s acceptance of me early on. 
The book is a comic book but luckily my iPad VoiceOver had no problem reading out. Other formats of comic books did not work. 
The approach to the subject matter is mature yet straight talking and laid back. I think it’ll certainly help many people (with and without disabilities) feel more at ease with their bodies and sex. 
5 stars.

Blog Tour: Guarded by the Soldier (Justice Seekers #2) by Laura Scott 

 

Book description:

He’ll put his life on the line…
If it means protecting a little boy and his pregnant mom.
After months of searching, security expert Ryker Tillman finally finds Olivia Habush and her young son—just as they are attacked by armed mercenaries. Now safeguarding Olivia, her unborn child and little Aaron is the former special ops soldier’s new mission. But to save the family burrowing into his heart, Ryker must figure out why someone wants them dead…

Author bio: Laura Scott is honored to write for the Love Inspired Suspense line, where a reader can find a heartwarming journey of faith amid the thrilling danger. She lives with her husband of twenty-five years and has two children, a daughter and a son, who are both in college. She works as a critical-care nurse during the day at a large level-one trauma center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and spends her spare time writing romance. Visit Laura at http://www.laurascottbooks.com.

Author links:

• Author website: https://www.laurascottbooks.com/

• Author newsletter: https://www.laurascottbooks.com/contact

• Twitter: https://twitter.com/laurascottbooks

• Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LauraScottBooks/

• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16591802.Laura_Scott

 

Sales links:

• B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/guarded-by-the-soldier-laura-scott/1135512737?ean=9781335402929

• Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B082P47GBM/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

• Google: https://books.google.ca/books/about/Guarded_by_the_Soldier.html?id=ALnDDwAAQBAJ&redir_esc=y

• Indie Bound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335402929

• Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781488061233_guarded-by-the-soldier.html

• Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/49374502-guarded-by-the-soldier
My Review: 

After having reviewed Copycat Killer (True Blue K-9 Squad Brooklyn #1),I was happy to be invited to review Guarded by the Soldier. 
Ryker Tillman is a security expert on the hunt for Olivia Habush and her 3 year old son Aaron. There’s an extra challenge in store for Ryker but can he keep his feelings at bay? Olivia is heavily pregnant at the time so his safeguarding them is more important than ever if they are to get out of this alive. 
Guarded by the Soldier is part of Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense line. 
A quick paced book with romance, high stakes action tender moments and good attention to detail to really make you feel for Olivia and Aaron. One of my only criticisms was that it ended too soon. 
Thanks to Laura Scott and Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 
5 stars, 
Guarded by the Soldier is the second title I have reviewed by Laura Scott and I really want to check more of her books out. I know that it’s rhe second book in the Justice Seeker’s series and I do now feel that I really want to know what happens in the rest of the series.

Excerpt 

Olivia Habush closed and locked the office door, then shouldered her large zebra-striped bag before heading out the back door of the church. The early June evening was warm, and she resisted the urge to fan herself. Early summer in the quaint town of Harrisburg, Illinois, was much warmer than what she was used to when she’d lived in Madison, Wisconsin.

The edges of her oversize blouse flapped around her large pregnant belly as she made her way across the street. Mrs. Willa Bentley was watching over Olivia’s three-year-old son Aaron while Liv did her weekly Thursday- night bookkeeping job for the We Are One Church. As an accountant, she enjoyed working with numbers and it was the least she could do for the nice people who’d welcomed her with open arms.

Upon turning the corner, the hairs on the back of her neck rose in alarm. For the second time this week she had the distinct feeling she was being watched.

The Blake-Moore Group.

Was it possible the organization her late husband worked for had found her again, after all this time? Having overheard details about what the former soldiers belonging to the Blake-Moore Group had gotten involved in, she knew they were not to be trusted.

Resisting the urge to glance over her shoulder, she began to run, her movements awkward and clumsy be-cause of her pregnant belly. Her oversize purse/diaper bag banged against her hip as she moved. The run didn’t last long, and she slowed to a fast walk while frantically looking for someone nearby.

But there wasn’t anyone around. For whatever reason, the streets of the Garden Ridge neighborhood were un-usually vacant and quiet.

Liv pulled her phone from the front pocket of her bag, intending to call 911 despite her determination to avoid the police, but before she could push a button, large, strong hands roughly grabbed her from behind.

“No! Let me go!” She managed to get most of the words out mere seconds before a firm, calloused hand clamped hard over her mouth. Her phone fell uselessly to the ground with a loud clatter.

She couldn’t breathe!

Panic flared, paralyzing her with fear. They’d found her. After all this time, the men employed by the Blake-Moore Group, the men who’d turned her husband into a monster, had found her!

Dear Lord, help me!

Desperate to save herself and her unborn baby, she lashed out against her attacker with all her strength, kicking backward with her feet and scratching at every exposed inch of skin on his face and hands.

“Knock it off,” her attacker growled, his voice low and rough in her ear as his arm tightened painfully around her. “Or I’ll kill you right here and now.”

Kill her? No! This couldn’t be happening! She thought about her son, Aaron, and her unborn baby. Her eyes burned with helpless tears as her attacker easily subdued her feeble struggles and began to pull her backward, away from the streetlights and deeper into the shadows.

She stopped struggling, in an attempt to preserve her strength while reminding herself that she’d escaped once before and could do so again. Granted, that was six months ago, when she’d only just discovered she was six weeks pregnant instead of thirty-four.

How had they found her?

“Oomph.” The man holding her in his iron grasp abruptly let go. Still off-balance, Liv felt herself falling backward, even as she flailed her arms in an attempt to stay upright.

A pair of strong hands caught her before she could hit the ground, gently pushing her upright so that she was back on her own two feet. Her bag was somehow still on her shoulder and she hitched it higher, feeling relieved for a brief moment before realizing this could be another guy from the Blake-Moore Group.

“Let me go!” She shouted as loudly as she could, but the words came out like a weak croak. “Help! Police! Help me!”

“Olivia, please be quiet. We need to get out of here and pick up your son before this guy regains consciousness.”

The stranger’s use of her first name pulled her up short. She twisted out of his grasp and stared at his face, but he didn’t look familiar. She noted he was dressed from head to toe in black, making it easy for him to blend into the night. Then her gaze dropped to the body of a man lying on the ground, also dressed in black, apparently unconscious. The silver glint of a knife blade lying on the asphalt beside him caught her eye, making her swallow hard.

What was going on? Who were these men?

“Olivia, I’m not with the Blake-Moore Group,” the stranger continued in a tone she was sure he meant to be reassuring. “I’m here to keep you and your son safe.”

Blog Tour: The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker  

About the book

 

Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life – until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world.

 

Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.
From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn’t take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.
There’s just one problem: he’s Ash’s twin brother.
Make that two problems: Ash is moving home… and he wants Robyn back.
 

About the author

 

Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature, she dallied with living in cities including London, Nottingham and Cambridge, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales, where she first started telling stories about heroines with flaws and the men who love them.

Follow Mary:  

Facebook: @MaryJayneWrites

Twitter: @MaryJayneBaker

My Review: 

Robyn lives in small-town England and is trying to lie low and move on as best she can after being dumped. 
I liked the synopsis of this book as well as the cover and the positive title. 
Very early on in the book however, I noticed some problems for me: the predictability of a cancer scare as a personal health problem, her GP (family doctor)  being unavailable and her having been booked in with another doctor. 
Said doctor, Will, just happens to very comveniently be her next door neighbour. I feel this too is a little overdone in novels. The Cute Guy Nect Door. (Why not a town away or the other side of town?)
 I perked up a bit when it turned out he was an identical twin. I was, too and (usually) love all books with twins. 
There’s also the typical twin identity mistake aspect, where they are mixed up by people. This is a real- life thing, but it gets a little tired after awhile. I did feel though, that we were let in on the  differences   between the twins’ life choices early on which was good. I felt that let me suss out their personalities although not well enough that I really could feel for them as characters. 
Ash, his brother and her ex, is off in Australia and with someone else. The love triangle made things a bit more interesting. 
Where I really got interested though was after the senior citizen’s event. Because that’s when the idea of the Never Have I Ever Club and the idea of injecting more fun and spontaneity into life for Robyn and her friends is born. 
I liked their pub meetings because I felt a witness to the formation of the club. I felt that the senior citzen’s event was a kind of catalyst to that happening because of seeing the people there enjoying themselves. 
I would have liked to have the club being formed perhaps earlier in the book though as a conscious effort to move on. While the worry over Will and Ash was realistic, I wanted something more to happen for Robyn quicker than it actually did. 
Another problem I had was the pacing. It was slow and the novel would have been better shorter. This would have made it more focused. And I found there was too much telling. I got lost in all the dialogue and would have loved more visuals. 
I did hope all along that the characters would manage to sort their lives and was glad that Robyn had Will next door. It was nice to know they had been childhood friends too. But I wanted that bond explored more, it fell a bit flat at times. 
Overall, I wished the characters resonated more with me. The humour was good though. 
Thanks to Mary Jayne Baker and Aria for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 
It’s a shame, but I wasn’t as engrossed in this book as I thought I’d be. 
On this accasion, this novel about the life and love trials and tribulations of thirty-somethings did not wow me and it dragged too much. 
3 stars. 
I’ll try Mary Jayne Baker’s debut.

 

Buy links:

Amazon (UK)
Kobo
Google Play
Excerpt:

 When Robyn headed out for work the next morning, Will was on his driveway, scraping ice off his windscreen.

‘Morning,’ he said with a cheery nod, entirely unembarrassed at being caught in his Oscar the Grouch lounge pants and dressing gown.

Robyn wished she felt as relaxed as he seemed to be. Despite the November chill, she could feel the colour rising in her cheeks as she thought about the last time she’d seen him. Or rather, the last time he’d seen her. A whole damn lot of her.

‘Morning,’ she said, summoning her brightest smile. ‘Dress-down Friday at the surgery, is it?’

He laughed. ‘No, just thought I’d better tackle the ice before I jumped in the shower, give the antifreeze time to work its magic. I’m at the Glen this morning. So, did you have a good time yesterday?’

She stared at him. ‘I’m sorry?’

‘It’s meeting night on Thursdays, isn’t it? The Shag Marry Kill Club?’

Robyn laughed. ‘Oh, that. For a minute I thought you meant – you’re way behind, Will. The Mid-Nineties Sean Bean Appreciation Society replaced The Shag Marry Kill Club yonks ago.’

‘Freya’s idea?’

‘Yeah, she made us switch after retro Beany kept cropping up as her shag choice. She’s got her own gavel now, you know.’

‘Heh, I bet she loves that. So are you guys still Beanying?’

‘No, after Eliot broke up with Jackson and we ran out of episodes of Sharpe we changed to The Happy Singles Club. We haven’t quite finalised the official club badge design yet, but otherwise it’s going well.’

There was a moment’s awkward silence as Robyn’s unasked question hung in the air. Not so long ago, Will would have been welcome to join the three of them for their regular Thursday pub night. But now… now everything was weird.

‘I’d better go,’ she said at last. ‘I have to brush Cerberpus before we open, otherwise she gets mange.’

‘The glamorous life of a folk museum curator, eh?’

‘Technically, I’m only a folk museum steward, but I appreciate the promotion.’

‘What’s the difference?’

‘The money, I think.’

‘Ah.’

She shrugged. ‘To be honest I’m lucky to still be in a job. Not many backwater museums like ours have a full-time steward these days. Most run on a volunteer rota.’

 

 

Follow Aria

 

Website: http://www.ariafiction.com

Twitter: @aria_fiction

Facebook: @ariafiction

Instagram: @ariafiction

 

Harlequin Summer Blog Tour: She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway

She’s Faking It by Ktistin Rockaway

FICTION/Romance/Contemporary  

Trade Paperback | Graydon House Books

On Sale: 6/30/2020 

978152580464

$15.99

$19.99 CAN

 

About the Book:

You can’t put a filter on reality.
Bree Bozeman isn’t exactly pursuing the life of her dreams. Then again, she isn’t too sure what those dreams are. After dropping out of college, she’s living a pretty chill life in the surf community of Pacific Beach, San Diego…if “chill” means delivering food as a GrubGetter, and if it means “uneventful”.
But when Bree starts a new Instagram account — @breebythesea — one of her posts gets a signal boost from none other than wildly popular self-help guru Demi DiPalma, owner of a lifestyle brand empire. Suddenly, Bree just might be a rising star in the world of Instagram influencing. Is this the direction her life has been lacking? It’s not a career choice she’d ever seriously considered, but maybe it’s a sign from the universe. After all, Demi’s the real deal… right?
Everything is lining up for Bree: life goals, career, and even a blossoming romance with the chiseled guy next door, surf star Trey Cantu. But things are about to go sideways fast, and even the perfect filter’s not gonna fix it. Instagram might be free, but when your life looks flawless on camera, what’s the cost?

 

About the Author:

Kristin Rockaway is a native New Yorker with an insatiable case of wanderlust. After working in the IT industry for far too many years, she traded the city for the surf and chased her dreams out to Southern California, where she spends her days happily writing stories instead of software. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and son, and planning her next big vacation.

My Review:

Meet Bree Bozeman: A college dropout living in the town of Pacific Beach California (or PB to locals), she earns a meager living working as a driver for a fast food chain. All she has to her name is a studio apartment over a garage round the back of a triplex. And let’s not forget a failed relationship. 
In complete contrast to her sister Natasha, she feels like she has not accomplished much at all. She wants more- much more. 
When a random chat with her starts to make her see sense, she decides to ditch the job, car (which is dead anyway) and fight to get bavk on her feet. She considers some options but they don’t convince her. 
There’s the distraction of the beautiful, modern blue house next door. But it’s an Airbnb rental. Her fantasies about being the owner keep her safe from the reality of her own life. 
She wonders when a change is going to come. What it’ll take to turn her life around.
Then she meets Trey, a famous surfer dude. The way they meet is imaginative and there’s some drama there, too which made me fear for Bree and hope things would be OK. 
The part I found slightly predictable and I saw coming was that he’s the owner of Bree’s dream property, so it’s bye bye to her fantasies over that. The way she found out that he was was verr realistic and true to life as well as well woven in. 
The whole atmosphere of Pacific Beach was well created and I just wanted to go there. 
Another original aspect of this book is that, for once, the neighborhood is not completely moneyed and the characters are not dripping in wealth (although I have some books in which this was done especially well and they are amongst my all time favourites). 
From the word go, I felt invested and interested in Bree’s story, her life and her fate as well as what was going to happen with hwr relationships (sister, friend ex and Trey). 
She had a lot against her, but also more going for her than she realized at first. And the moment she does realize is beautiful. I felt proud of her. 
When circumstances conspire to have her creating an Instagram account — @breebythesea — one of self-help guru Demi DiPalma, owner of a lifestyle brand empire gets wind of what has happened. Bree has Demi’s book, but is Demi really the guru she claims to be? 
Suddenly, Bree’s life has done a complete 360° turn- but is it in the right direction and will it stay that way? Or is the happiness she feels too good to be true? 
A beautiful book about how big things can happen from humble beginnings. It’s about love, friendship falling in and out of love starting afresh and figuring out who is really there for you through life’s ups and downs. Fast-paced yet relaxing with a realistic setting and characters that make you care what happens to them. 
In short, it is really about the persuit of happiness. And how sometimes you have to fake it to make it even though that is not what you thought you’d have to do…..
She’s Faking it is the second Kristin Rockaway novel I have in my Kindle library. I want to get all her books. 
I think She’s Faking It will appear to teen and adult readers alike and you’ll like it whether you enjoy women’s fiction, romance or the surfing culture. 
Oh, and I loved the mention of horchata in this novel- it’s one of my favorite summer drinks so that scene captured my heart. Very original choice of drink. My congratulations to Kristin for that and on a completely perfect summer novel. I think this is great year-round too. I’d also recommend it as a beach read.
Thanks to Kristin Rockaway and publisher for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.
5 stars.

 

Contact Kristin:

Home

 Facebook: /KristinRockaway

Twitter: @KristinRockaway

Instagram: @KristinRockway
 
 

SOCIAL LINKS:

Home

 Facebook: /KristinRockaway

Twitter: @KristinRockaway

Instagram: @KristinRockway

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Google Play

IndieBound

Kobo

Where to Buy :

Harlequin

Amazon

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Books-A-Million

Google Play

IndieBound

Kobo

From Chapter Two

“Don’t these books make your purse really heavy? There’s gotta be some app where you can store all this information.”

“Studies show you’re more likely to remember things you’ve written by hand, with physical pen and paper.” She reached across my lap and opened the glove compartment, removing a notebook with an antiqued photograph of a vintage luxury car printed on the cover. “For example, this is my auto maintenance log. Maybe if you’d kept one of these, like I told you to, we wouldn’t be in this predicament right now.”

I loved Natasha, I really did. She was responsible and generous, and without her I’d likely be far worse off than I already was, which was a horrifying thought to consider. But at times like this, I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake the shit out of her.

“A maintenance log wouldn’t have helped me.”

“Yes, it would have. Organization is about more than decluttering your home. It’s about decluttering your mind. Making lists, keeping records—these are all ways to help you get your life in order. If you’d had a maintenance log, this problem wouldn’t have caught you off guard in the middle of your delivery shift. You’d have seen it coming, and—”

“I saw it coming.”

“What?”

“This didn’t catch me off guard. The check engine light came on two weeks ago.” Or maybe it was three.

“Then why didn’t you take it to the mechanic?” She blinked, genuinely confused. Everything was so cut-and dried with her. When a car needed to be serviced, of course you called the mechanic.

That is, if you could afford to pay the repair bill.

Fortunately, she put two and two together without making me say it out loud. “Oh,” she murmured, then bit her lip. I could almost hear the squeak and clank of wheels turning in her head as she tried to piece together the solution to this problem. No doubt it included me setting up a journal or logbook of some sort, though we both knew that would be pointless. The last time she’d tried to set me up with a weekly budget planner, I gave up on day two, when I realized I could GrubGetter around the clock for the rest of my life and still never make enough money to get current on the payments for my student loans. You know, for that degree I’d never finished.

But Natasha was a determined problem solver. It said so in her business bio: “Natasha DeAngelis, Certified Professional Organizer®, is a determined problem solver with a passion for sorting, purging, arranging, and containerizing.” My life was a perpetual mess, and though she couldn’t seem to be able to clean it up, that didn’t stop her from trying. Over and over and over again.

“I’ll pay for the repairs,” she said.

“No.” I shook my head, fending off the very big part of me that wanted to say yes. “I can’t take any money from you.”

“It’s fine,” she said. “Business is booming. I’ve got so much work right now that I’ve actually had to turn clients away. And ever since Al introduced that new accelerated orthodontic treatment, his office has been raking it in. We can afford to help you.”

“I know.” Obviously, my sister and her family weren’t hurting for cash. Aside from her wildly successful organizing business, her husband, Al, ran his own orthodontics practice. They owned a four-bedroom house, leased luxury cars, and took triannual vacations to warm, sunny places like Maui and Tulum. They had a smart fridge in their kitchen that was undoubtedly worth more than my nonfunctioning car.

But my sister wasn’t a safety net, and I needed to stop treating her like one. She’d already done so much for me. More than any big sister should ever have to do.

“I just can’t,” I said.

“Well, do you really have any other choice?” There was an edge to Natasha’s voice now. “If you don’t have a car, how are you going to work?”

“I’ll figure something out.” The words didn’t sound very convincing, even to my own ears. For the past four years, all I’d done was deliver food. I had no other marketable skills, no references, no degree.

I was a massive failure.

Tears pooled in my eyes. Natasha sighed again.

“Look,” she said, “maybe it’s time to admit you need to come up with a solid plan for your life. You’ve been in a downward spiral ever since Rob left.”

She had a point. I’d never been particularly stable, but things got a whole lot worse seven months earlier, when my live-in ex-boyfriend, Rob, had abruptly announced he was ending our three-year relationship, quitting his job, and embarking on an immersive ayahuasca retreat in the depths of the Peruvian Amazon.

“I’ve lost my way,” he’d said, his eyes bloodshot from too many hits on his vape pen. “The Divine Mother Shakti at the Temple of Eternal Light can help me find myself again.”

“What?” I’d been incredulous. “Where is this coming from?”

He’d unearthed a book from beneath a pile of dirty clothes on our bed and handed it to me—Psychedelic Healers: An Exploratory Journey of the Soul, by Shakti Rebecca Rubinstein.

“What is this?”

“It’s the book that changed my life,” he’d said. “I’m ready for deep growth. New energy.”

Then he’d moved his belongings to a storage unit off the side of the I-8, and left me to pay the full cost of our monthly rent and utilities on my paltry GrubGetter income.

I told myself this situation was only temporary, that Rob would return as soon as he realized that hallucinating in the rainforest wasn’t going to lead him to some higher consciousness. But I hadn’t heard from him since he took off on that direct flight from LAX to Lima. At this point, it was probably safe to assume he was never coming back.

Which was probably for the best. It’s not exactly like Rob was Prince Charming or anything. But being with him was better than being alone. At least I’d had someone to split the bills with.

“Honestly,” she continued, “I can’t stand to see you so miserable anymore. Happiness is a choice, Bree. Choose happy.”

Of all Natasha’s pithy sayings, “Choose happy” was the one I hated most. It was printed on the back of her business cards in faux brush lettering, silently accusing each potential client of being complicit in their own misery. If they paid her to clean out their closets, though, they could apparently experience unparalleled joy.

“That’s bullshit, and you know it.”

She scowled. “It is not.”

“It is, actually. Shitty things happen all the time and we have no choice in the matter. I didn’t choose to be too broke to fix my car. I work really hard, but this job doesn’t pay well. And I didn’t choose for Rob to abandon me to go find himself in the Amazon, either. He made that choice for us.”

I almost mentioned the shittiest thing that had ever happened to Natasha or to me, a thing neither of us had chosen. But I stopped myself before the words rolled off my lips. This evening was bad enough without rehashing the details of our mother’s death.

“Sometimes things happen to us that are beyond our control,” Natasha said, her voice infuriatingly calm. “But we can control how we react to it. Focus on what you can control. And it does no good to dwell on the past, either. Don’t look back, Bree—”

“Because that’s not where you’re going. Yes, I know. You’ve said that before.” About a thousand times.

She took a deep breath, most likely to prepare for a lengthy lecture on why it’s important to stay positive and productive in the face of adversity, but then a large tow truck lumbered onto the cul-de-sac and she got out of the car to flag him down.

Grateful for the interruption, I ditched the casserole on her dashboard and walked over to where the driver had double-parked alongside my car.

“What’s the problem?” he asked, hopping down from the cab.

“It won’t start,” I said, to which Natasha quickly followed up with, “The check engine light came on several weeks ago, but the car has not been serviced yet.”

He grunted and popped the hood, one thick filthy hand stroking his braided beard as he surveyed the engine. Another grunt, then he asked for the keys and tried to start it, only to hear the same sad click and whine as before.

“It’s not the battery.” He leaned his head out of the open door. “When was the last time you changed your timing belt?”

“Uh… I don’t know.”

Natasha shook her head and mouthed, Maintenance log! in my direction but I pretended not to see.

The driver got out and slammed the hood shut. “Well, this thing is hosed.”

“Hosed?” My heart thrummed in my chest. “What does that mean? It can’t be fixed?”

He shrugged, clearly indifferent to my crisis-in-progress. “Can’t say for sure. Your mechanic can take a closer look and let you know. Where do you want me to tow it?”

I pulled out my phone to look up the address of the mechanic near my apartment down in Pacific Beach. But Natasha answered before I could google it up.

“Just take it to Encinitas Auto Repair,” she said. “It’s on Second and F.”

“You got it,” he said, then retreated to his truck to fiddle with some chains.

Natasha avoided my gaze. Instead, she focused on calling a guy named Jerry, who presumably worked at this repair shop, and told him to expect “a really old Civic that’s in rough shape,” making sure to specify, “It’s not mine, it’s my sister’s.”

I knew she was going to pay for the repairs. It made me feel icky, taking yet another handout from my big sister. But ultimately, she was right. What other choice did I have?

The two of us stayed quiet while the driver finished hooking up my car. After he’d towed it away down the cul-desac and out of sight, Natasha turned to me. “Do you want to come over? Izzy’s got piano lessons in fifteen minutes, you can hear how good she is now.”

Even though I did miss my niece, there was nothing I wanted to do more than go home, tear off these smelly clothes, and cry in solitude. “I’ll take a rain check. Thanks again for coming to get me.”

“Of course.” She started poking at her phone screen. A moment later, she said, “Your Lyft will be here in four minutes. His name is Neil. He drives a black Sentra.” A quick kiss on my cheek and she was hustling back to her SUV.

As I watched Natasha drive away, I wished—not for the first time—that I could be more like her: competent, organized, confident enough in my choices to believe I could choose to be happy. Sometimes I felt like she had twenty years on me, instead of only six. So maybe instead of complaining, I should’ve started taking her advice.

 

Excerpted from She’s Faking It by Kristin Rockaway, Copyright © 2020 by Allison Amini. Published by Graydon House Books.