Tag Archives: suspense

March Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Beth Leighton moved to Scotland to marry the love of her life. But then he betrays her and she is fatally shot. However the Archangel Remiel interferes, and she awakes to find herself in 18th century England. Alive but confused and lost, she wants to go home. Despite a roguish and handsome highwayman.

Christopher “Kit” Locke is haunted by his past mistakes and lives on danger’s edge, not caring if he lives or dies. He will leave that choice to Fate. Intrigued by the spirited Beth, he is drawn from his spiraling descent and is enlisted to help steal an evil artifact, the Viper’s Eye, a demonic soul-stealing jewel.

While the Archangel and the Duke of Hell battle it out, both Beth and Kit must also fight evil. When the stone seeks Kit’s soul can Beth’s love keep him from falling victim to the Viper’s Eye or will she lose Kit to Hell’s fire?

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Caryn Orlane has law enforcement in her blood; her father was a cop, and his father, too. She’s a federal agent in northwest Montana, protecting the old forests and keeping the peace.
Levi Bradshaw also believes in protecting the forests, but has a very different MO. He’s the leader of a group of eco-warriors, determined to save the trees of the Bitterroot by legal—and illegal—means.
When they meet in the woods at gunpoint, their encounter ignites a spark of interest, despite operating on opposite sides of the law. When their worlds turn on them, they only grow closer. If they don’t work together, can either survive?

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After one concussion too many, Ben Leit is done as the NFL’s golden boy quarterback. Then his father, who was about to expose a bombshell sports scandal, is murdered.

Mimi Fitzroy, CIO for Rex Sports International, panics as she discovers thousands of stolen emails that prove Rex is breaking federal laws—big time. As Ben and Mimi work together to find a killer, they also find a connection they weren’t expecting and didn’t want.

They are headed for an explosive showdown in Seattle…and not everyone will walk away.

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1972 – Vietnam, the pill, upheaval, hippies.
Wyoming rancher Cooper Byrnes, deeply attached to the land and his way of life, surprises everyone when he falls for vagabond hippie Cassie Halliday. Fascinated and baffled, he cannot comprehend his attraction—or say the words she wants to hear.

Cassie finds Coop intriguingly different. As she keeps house for him and warms his bed at night, she admits to herself she loves him but she misinterprets Coop’s inability to express his feelings.

Parted, each continues to think of the other, but how can either of them reach out to say, “You were ‘always on my mind’?”

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In the sleepy coastal Maine town of Penhallow, a stranger dies on a train, drawing Historical Society Director, Rachel Tinker, and curmudgeonly retired professor, Griffin Tate, into a spider’s web of archaeological obsession and greed. With the help of the victim’s rival, they set out to locate the Queen of Sheba’s tomb. Their plans are stymied when a tug of war erupts between the sheriff and a state police detective who want to arrest the same man for different crimes. It’s up to Rachel to solve a mystery that includes two more murders, if she wants to unlock the soft heart that beats under Griffin’s hard crust.

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“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla with an article all writers should read…

“Lessons From Rejection” by Olive Balla

For the umpteenth time, I click my cursor through the terse, to-the-point emailed responses to my latest barrage of agent queries. Thanks, but no thanks; Unfortunately, your work is not a good fit for our agency; and finally, the dreaded: This is in no way meant to reflect on the quality of your writing, keep it up.

“I’m seventy years old; the clock’s ticking,” my internal doomsday prophet intones. How many increments of a typical six-month waiting period do I have left? I don’t even buy green bananas.

Driven by the desire to hit that sweet spot required to find an agent willing to take a chance on my writing, I ask, “What does a good fit look like?”

Apparently, as the old saying goes, it’s different strokes for different folks. One agent’s pot-o-gold is another’s anathema. The bottom line is, how tough would an agent find it to sell my story? The shifts in the industry over the past decade alone have made it harder than ever to sell anything even remotely considered cliché, passé, overdone, or not edgy enough. To quote an agent who spoke at a writer’s convention I attended, “Please, don’t send me another story about vampires or kid wizards.” It’s a market-driven business; fads quickly come and go – emphasis on GO. To be marketable, a novel must not only be well-written, it must sizzle and pop with unique plot, peopled with and acted out by unique characters.

The latest series of rejections compelling me to action, I spend the day researching books on Amazon, paying careful attention to the back covers and blurbs to get a feel for what’s selling. Then I read my manuscript out loud, in hopes that getting another sense involved may help me spot gaps in the plot or highlight weak verbs and wonky sentences. Regardless of how many times I’ve edited, I edit again, searching for typos, misspellings, and over-use of be, am, is, are, was, were, been, or has been and have been.

If I’m still happy with my plot and character arcs, I seek and destroy anything written in passive voice – the use of which will doom even a great story.

I then move on to the Query letter. Does it sing? Does the Hook really hook? I re-read Query by C.J. Redwine and invest a day re-working my Query letter. I search the pages of the latest Guide to Literary Agents, highlighting the agencies I’ve not yet queried.

After doing everything I know to do, and as the melody of Cast Your Fate to the Wind – a golden oldie from the seventies – floats across my memory, I send out another barrage of Queries. Then I square my shoulders, open the Outline Template on my desktop, type in a working title, and begin another story.

 

Blurb: 
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure. Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt: 

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot… Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. Panic sent her running to the door where she pounded against the unyielding wood until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails…The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. Jillie snatched up the broken shovel handle and took a position in front of the door. With her legs slightly bent,, she balanced on the balls of her feet as she’d seen a martial arts professional do on television. She gripped the pole in both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door, and waited.

Olive Balla is a retired educator and author of two mystery/suspense novels An Arm and A Leg and Jillie published by TheWild Rose Press, Inc. A New Mexico native, Ms. Balla lives in the village of Los Lunas with her husband, her bossy puppy, and her pesky Internal Editor.
Find Olive Here:

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February Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!! #BookWorm

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Princess Marina Hersher is on her way to marry the prince of Brenalin when her caravan is attacked. Dressed as her servant, she decides to keep her identity a secret from the attackers. She is knocked unconscious and is rescued by the dragon, Narud. He is a creature not seen on Feldsvelt for thousands of years. During the days that follow, Marina learns more about the dragon, and finds companionship.

Duran Abass is the high prince of Brenalin and can go no farther than the dragon’s lair. Dragon and man hold a silent battle for control of their shared body in the cave where Narud intends to keep the princess. The princess knows nothing of this struggle or the dragon’s intent, but learns to love them both.

Together, Marina and Duran and even the dragon, Narud, join forces to battle against the sorceress for their lives and love.

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Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.

Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

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Corinne Taylor has a secret. And it must be protected. If her mother discovers what Corinne has been hiding, Hell will not describe the place in which she will find herself. Beulah, Corinne’s mother, has proclaimed herself “queen” of Pike’s Run, and no one crosses her, especially not her daughter.

And while Corinne does what she can to guard her secret, her best efforts aren’t enough. War comes to Pike’s Run and the Taylor household when Beulah learns of her daughter’s betrayal. The battle that ensues forces Corinne to seek help from a new arrival.

Jonathan Pierce, a successful lawyer, has come to Pike’s Run looking to find solace from his past. When Corinne asks for his support, her innocence and bravery call to the needs within his broken spirit, and he can’t turn her down. She is capturing his heart, but if she ever learns of his cowardice, she will reject him, killing any hope he has left of finding love.

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Simon MacKay, the last Earl of Cleitmuir, was murdered two hundred years ago because of his family’s dangerous legacy. Alone and cursed he haunts his home in order to protect the lost treasure. A pastime that leaves him angry and embittered until he meets a feisty American Tourist. Not only is Laurel sexy and beautiful, she can also see him in his ghostly form.

Antiquities expert, Laurel Saville, leaves Chicago to visit her best friend in the romantic Scottish Highlands. She is saved from a tragic fall by the ghostly Simon. Once she realizes she is not crazy, she pledges to help him find his family’s missing artifact. A pledge hindered by treasure hunter Alex Mackenzie, a descendant of the clan that murdered Simon.

Laurel risks everything, including her life, to help Simon resolve the issues keeping him earth bound. But will she lose him forever or is there a way Laurel can keep him with her on this earthly plane?

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January Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Young, overworked medical intern Sarah James has no time for sleuthing. Her elderly neighbors, the spunky Fog Ladies, have nothing but time. When, one by one, old ladies die in their elegant apartment building in San Francisco, Sarah assumes the deaths are the natural consequence of growing old. The Fog Ladies assume murder.
Mrs. Bridge falls off a stool cleaning bugs out of her kitchen light. Mrs. Talwin slips on bubbles in the bath and drowns. Suddenly, the Pacific Heights building is turning over tenants faster than the fog rolls in on a cool San Francisco evening.
Sarah resists the Fog Ladies’ perseverations. But when one of them falls down the stairs and tells Sarah she was pushed, even Sarah believes evil lurks in their building. Can they find the killer before they fall victim themselves?

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Desperation fuels freelance news photographer Tempest Raines when Russian rebels kidnap her adult son. Out of options to rescue him, she dredges up her past and turns to the only man she believes can help her.

Navy SEAL Commander Chance Adams has sworn off women, but when Tempest comes to him for help, his past haunts him once again. What is it about this woman that makes him want her as much as he loathes her?

The rescue mission they undertake is fraught with danger for both Tempest and Chance, but if Tempest’s secret gets out, she isn’t sure if getting killed might not be her best option.

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The year is 1856. White pine is king of the forest.
The last thing Jonathan Wain wants to do is ride miles through Pennsylvania’s wilderness to help his father’s logging partner in the small settlement of Clearfield. His family owns clipper ships in the Chesapeake Bay that carry the coveted logs to the markets each spring, and they can’t afford a loss.
The last thing Wilhelmina Wydcliffe wants is a handsome sea captain from Maryland meddling in her father’s logging operations under attack by unknown enemies. A feisty tomboy and better known as Willie to her crews, she has a dream to be the largest logging operator east of the Mississippi River.
When both Willie’s and Jonathan’s lives are threatened, they are forced to work together to find their enemies before both of their companies are in shambles. But as their attraction to each other escalates, can they set aside their differences, unearth the truth and troublemakers, and discover contentment in each other’s arms?

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December Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

 

Cassie O’Dey arrives in Virtue, Florida searching for information about Becca, the mother who abandoned her. While staying at the same bed and breakfast where Becca last stayed, Cassie encounters a familiar ghost.
Walker Thayner, a widower, has returned to Virtue to work on restoring the bed and breakfast his family has owned for generations. Hoping to find solace in his work, Walker has shut himself off emotionally. Despite his sullen demeanor Cassie finds herself drawn to him.
Even as hopes of a future in Virtue fill her heart, Cassie finds her thoughts drawn to the dark past of this small Florida town. Can she solve a murder that took place a quarter of a century in the past and put the ghost of Becca O’Dey to rest?

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When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.

While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.

Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.

 

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Boston ~ 1947

Iris Taggart should be ecstatic. She’s engaged to one of the wealthiest men in Boston, and he dotes on her. But, her marrying a rich man is her mother’s dream, not hers. Iris longs to be a nurse and care for others, and she’ll never have the career she wants if she marries a Boston Blue Blood. It just isn’t done.

Dante Morello returned from WWII a war hero, and now he’s a Boston detective working the South End Slayer case where a deranged killer is butchering the poor and homeless. Dante’s investigation leads him to reconnect with Iris—a girl he’s known most of his life—who is volunteering at the soup kitchen where the murderer finds his victims. When Dante learns Iris is in the killer’s sites, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, and not just because she’s woken something in his heart he thought he’d never feel.

But neither of them is prepared for how precarious life can be. When secrets are exposed, and a madman’s full intent is revealed, will their love…and their lives…be destroyed?

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Twice-widowed Jane Marsh ties the knot for the third time with longstanding fiancé Dale Capricorn. Jane’s ready for a celebratory reception at her uber-trendy condo in downtown Denver with champagne toasts, fancy dress, and her family and dinner club friends. Everyone knows she and Dale’s prettier and younger ex-wife Polly are “frenemies,” but Jane starts fresh and asks Polly to cater the event. However, after the last guest leaves, Jane discovers the ex-wife dead—and Jane’s the obvious suspect. If Jane doesn’t find the real killer, her third marriage certainly won’t be the charm.

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A Creole beauty. Eccentric sisters and a black rose. One granny woman and a red button. Church suppers and bingo nights. A poet out of his element. Dreams of Mexico. The shadowy world of thoroughbred horse racing. If the Creek Don’t Rise is a collection of hard-used characters, tangled relationships, family angst, and fortitude. Step into the Deep South and experience the lives and hardships, hopes and dreams, of folk who have nothing except grit—and sometimes love—as their currency.

Eighteen tales and six postcard vignettes, highlighted with artwork by Susan Raymond, make this collection a skillful and moving exploration of the commonplace, the hidden, and the unforgettable.

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President’s Award for Best Published Book, 2014, Awarded by the Ozarks Writers League
Washed in the Water: Tales from the South offers vignettes of folks living the best they know how as they reach out for redemption. Set between 1950 and 1980, each tale stares at an individual as unique as the humid landscape of the South. Hard lives, daily survival, and lessons about getting on with the business of living reverberate among the characters.

“. . . compelling, wide-ranging stories. Hartney brings to mind both Caldwell and Allison, but her voice at last is her own. ‘Last Love’ is both gritty and warm, and ‘The Fig Trees’ is deftly nuanced.”
~ Robert Cochran, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, University of Arkansas

“This brief collection of stories deals with such diverse experiences as a river baptism and coon hunting while it embraces emotions of love, jealousy, and altruism. The seven southern tales contain some real gems.”
~ Pat Carr, author of One Page at a Time and The Radiance of Fossils

“No better voice of the south can be found than Nancy Hartney, with her touching stories of life looked at in a most extraordinary way. Hartney writes about people we can love or despise, but most of all sympathize with and enjoy.”
~ WILLA Award-winning author Velda Brotherton

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A sweet Christmas novella to warm your heart!

When concert pianist June Westberry inherits her late grandfather’s music shop, she returns to her small hometown in New York to renovate and manage it. But she never expects to clash with the town’s ornery old music teacher, Nettie Jones who demands she find a lost, fifty-year-old holiday musical score.

Single parent and contractor, Leo Ciaffonni, enjoys restoring old buildings, and the A# Music Shop with its pretty new owner is no exception. When he’s injured, June finds herself caring for Leo and helping his little daughter bake cookies for her class.

As the holidays close in and the shop’s renovations continue, the problems June tries hard to solve only seem to become more chaotic. A# Sharp Music Shop is broken into. A harvest recital for her new students requires multifaceted planning. And the perpetrator and the lost musical score have not been found.

Will she be able to find peace and order in her new life this Christmas—and the love she’s always dreamed of?

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Joy Frost Burton lives a busy, successful life, finding comfort in the lovely home she shares with her three little boys. A widow, she isn’t looking for love again, in spite of her three younger sisters’ rather pushy encouragement.
Mysterious fate has other ideas and throws charming Sean Summers into Joy’s world again and again. Soon, however, ghosts from the past and a challenging family crisis create difficult complications.
Does Joy dare risk loss and sorrow a second time by following her wounded heart’s new rhythm?

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TV Reporter Noelle Frost enjoys life now that she’s free of her abusive ex-husband. She and her young daughter are doing quite well without a man in their lives. Then she meets a giant of a man, six-foot-ten Zave Trayce, a basketball legend. Her trust in men is damaged. Zave seems like the ultimate player on and off the court. She will have to decide if she’s brave enough to risk her heart in the game of love.

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Holly Frost has suffered from unrequited-love since she turned down Elam Holmes in high school. Years later they are still doing the “friend zone” dance. They’ve seen each other through heartbreaking loss and shared everything–except the truth. Can they break down the walls they’ve built to find love beyond friendship?

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Chrissy Frost’s self-identity has changed from “happy-go-lucky” to “broken” after losing her parents in a tragic accident the day after Christmas nearly four years ago. Every aspect of the holiday season, especially snow, has a devastating effect on her.

A work assignment where she is able to change others’ lives for better, in addition to meeting handsome, caring, caramel-delicious Decker, might spark a flame of hope in her wounded heart.

Yet there are so many bumps in the road, Chrissy’s not sure she can handle the risk of getting burned.

 

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Interview with a Villain by Olive Balla

I’m happy to have Olive Balla back on my blog. Today’s article is entertaining and informative…

Interview with a Villain       

Grinning as if I’d just won something, which I never do, I push my office chair back from the desk and toss another ball of wadded paper toward the trash can. Whoosh, it falls through the opening without touching the sides. A good omen; one which cannot be ignored.

“Woo-hoo!” I pump my fist up and down. My pulse quickens, and I glance at my watch.

Today’s the day. In precisely six minutes, I will interview a murderer.

I couldn’t do such a thing on just any day, you understand. It must be a day filled with good omens, a day in which I feel physically energized and psychologically pumped.

A day like today.

In preparation for the interview, I drag a woven, cane-bottomed dining room chair into my office and situate it directly across from my seat. The straight, ladder back should prove uncomfortable enough to keep my guest off balance, thereby ensuring more spontaneous responses to my questions. The distance of five feet between chairs, give or take a few inches, will allow unimpeded eye contact.

I take a deep breath and blow it out through puckered lips then drop into my chair. With less than two minutes to go I peer at the screen of my laptop. My mouth goes dry as I consider the questions that seemed insightful minutes earlier but now appear insipid and pointless.

Do they zero in on the villain’s motivation like a professor’s laser pointer, or are they so ambiguous as to allow room for sloppy evasion? Are any of them redundant? Will they elicit responses that help my Readers to understand human nature while chilling their bones?

I chew my thumbnail and shoot a look toward the office door. A shadowy figure stands in the opening, backlit by the hallway light.

“You’re early,” I say.

“Insightful,” the murderer says. “Anything else, or is that it?”

“Thanks for showing up.” I point to the chair opposite me. “Have a seat.”

The villain saunters to the rattan chair. She stares down at it, snorts then grins and shakes her head. “Such an obvious ploy. Contrived. Best be careful or I’ll disappear before you have what you need.”

“Sorry.” I hold my hand up, palm out as if to stop a charging rhino. “Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”

“No, no, no.” My murderer moves her index finger back and forth imitating a clock’s pendulum. “That’s not how this works. While allowing me freedom of expression is important, it’s up to you to ask the right questions. Otherwise, you risk making me predictable, or worse, cliché. When I have something unexpected to say, as I most assuredly will if you do this right, I’ll jump in and it’ll be up to you to keep up.”

“Okay.” I take a deep breath.

For the next hour or so, I shoot questions at my murderer, furiously typing her responses into my laptop. I’ve just finished memorializing her umpteenth impromptu stream-of-consciousness monologue when she falls silent. I glance in her direction just as her shadowy form retreats through the office door.

“Thanks,” I call out.

Wordlessly, she waves an arm over her head then is gone.

My pulse pumps like race car pistons as I review the transcribed pages that will set the stage for my suspense novel.

“Not at all what I expected,” I murmur.

The fragrance of lilacs suddenly fills the room. I breathe deeply, sensing another presence.

“My turn,” says my Protagonist.

“So it is,” I say. “Please, have a seat.”

 

Thank you, Olive. Love this! It’s a great idea for writers to interview their villains, and main characters, before writing their stories. 

Now, here’s Olive’s latest release, chock full of villains…

 

Blurb:
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt:

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot..Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. She pounded against the locked, unyielding door until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails...   

The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. She snatched up the broken shovel handle and stood behind the door. With her legs slightly bent, she gripped the pole with both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door and waited.  

Bio:
A retired educator, Olive Balla began writing in her sixties. Her first mystery/suspense novel, An Arm And A Leg, was published just after her sixty-fifth birthday, and her second, Jillie, was recently published. Ms. Balla is a mother of three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother of seven. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making sawdust in her wood shop near Albuquerque New Mexico.

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November Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

 

 

In the two years since his beloved wife died, rancher Chad Rutherford has done the best for his family. But with his sister leaving the family ranch to get married, he needs to find someone to keep house and tend his kids so he places an ad for a mail-order bride.
Left on her own by her brother’s murder, spinster Vika Carmichael must find a way to life. An ad for a mail-order bride from a widower with small children seems like the perfect fit. Until she arrives in Gunnison City, Colorado, and wonders if room for her exists in their hearts.
Will two proud individuals find a way to work together, or will their marriage vow be broken by Christmas?

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Cassie O’Dey arrives in Virtue, Florida searching for information about Becca, the mother who abandoned her. While staying at the same bed and breakfast where Becca last stayed, Cassie encounters a familiar ghost.
Walker Thayner, a widower, has returned to Virtue to work on restoring the bed and breakfast his family has owned for generations. Hoping to find solace in his work, Walker has shut himself off emotionally. Despite his sullen demeanor Cassie finds herself drawn to him.
Even as hopes of a future in Virtue fill her heart, Cassie finds her thoughts drawn to the dark past of this small Florida town. Can she solve a murder that took place a quarter of a century in the past and put the ghost of Becca O’Dey to rest?

******************************************

When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.

While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.

Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.

******************************************

Rachel Mann’s reclusive life is thrown into disarray by the discovery of a young woman’s dead body in her field. She is forced to call Sheriff Seth Talbot for help. They both want to discover why the body was dumped on her property, but Rachel has insider information she is reluctant to share.

Seth is curious about why a young, attractive woman like Rachel would hide away from the world. What is she hiding? When a second body is found, he is forced to call in the FBI. As Rachel’s secret history is stripped away, exposing her tragic past, they struggle to find a way to protect the citizens of the county and their future together.

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Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

******************************************

Sam Preston can’t believe his good fortune when he meets the mysterious Mariah who crashes his birthday party at his New York City hotel. Their attraction is immediate. He can’t wait to discover more about her after their passionate night together. He never gets the chance. She disappears before he wakes up, laying a false trail that leaves him frustrated. Mariah Stone and Sam have a past of which he isn’t aware. As children, they were friends until an unspeakable tragedy tore them apart. One night should have been enough to prove she had exaggerated their connection due to a childhood crush, but her plan backfired. Her mistake means now they will have to fight to understand how the past and present will influence their future.

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Crystal Rainey is aghast when she realizes her new year’s resolutions haven’t changed one whit from the previous year. Wanting to escape a future as dreary as a Pacific Northwest winter, she walks out on her dead-end office job, despite her tenuous savings account.
Stumbling across a job opening posted by a wilderness guide outfit, an intrigued Crystal bluffs her way into the position. With handsome fellow guide, the stalwart Conner Oakes, she leads a corporate retreat on a snowshoe hike to a majestic alpine chalet.
But when the company’s detestable owner turns up dead in the snow, she fears her new life and budding romance slipping away. She finally has something worth fighting for and is determined to solve the murder and grab her chance at happiness before it’s too late.
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PRE-ORDER for 99 cents – Regular Price $2.99

Boston ~ 1947

Iris Taggart should be ecstatic. She’s engaged to one of the wealthiest men in Boston, and he dotes on her. But, her marrying a rich man is her mother’s dream, not hers. Iris longs to be a nurse and care for others, and she’ll never have the career she wants if she marries a Boston Blue Blood. It just isn’t done.

Dante Morello returned from WWII a war hero, and now he’s a Boston detective working the South End Slayer case where a deranged killer is butchering the poor and homeless. Dante’s investigation leads him to reconnect with Iris—a girl he’s known most of his life—who is volunteering at the soup kitchen where the murderer finds his victims. When Dante learns Iris is in the killer’s sites, he’ll do whatever it takes to protect her, and not just because she’s woken something in his heart he thought he’d never feel.

But neither of them is prepared for how precarious life can be. When secrets are exposed, and a madman’s full intent is revealed, will their love…and their lives…be destroyed?

******************************************

Twice-widowed Jane Marsh ties the knot for the third time with longstanding fiancé Dale Capricorn. Jane’s ready for a celebratory reception at her uber-trendy condo in downtown Denver with champagne toasts, fancy dress, and her family and dinner club friends. Everyone knows she and Dale’s prettier and younger ex-wife Polly are “frenemies,” but Jane starts fresh and asks Polly to cater the event. However, after the last guest leaves, Jane discovers the ex-wife dead—and Jane’s the obvious suspect. If Jane doesn’t find the real killer, her third marriage certainly won’t be the charm.

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Petra Steele is wallowing in self-pity after being dumped at the altar, when her brother Nick invites her to come to the Peruvian Amazon. Before she even sets her suitcase down, she’s confronted with a murder victim. In a research station peopled with a quirky assortment of scientists, she is drawn to Emory Andrews, a big, gruff man with a secret past. That is, until his beautiful ex-wife shows up. More murders, more secrets, more mysteries ensue, all in the deeply romantic, sizzling jungle.

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A Creole beauty. Eccentric sisters and a black rose. One granny woman and a red button. Church suppers and bingo nights. A poet out of his element. Dreams of Mexico. The shadowy world of thoroughbred horse racing. If the Creek Don’t Rise is a collection of hard-used characters, tangled relationships, family angst, and fortitude. Step into the Deep South and experience the lives and hardships, hopes and dreams, of folk who have nothing except grit—and sometimes love—as their currency.

Eighteen tales and six postcard vignettes, highlighted with artwork by Susan Raymond, make this collection a skillful and moving exploration of the commonplace, the hidden, and the unforgettable.

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President’s Award for Best Published Book, 2014, Awarded by the Ozarks Writers League
Washed in the Water: Tales from the South offers vignettes of folks living the best they know how as they reach out for redemption. Set between 1950 and 1980, each tale stares at an individual as unique as the humid landscape of the South. Hard lives, daily survival, and lessons about getting on with the business of living reverberate among the characters.

“. . . compelling, wide-ranging stories. Hartney brings to mind both Caldwell and Allison, but her voice at last is her own. ‘Last Love’ is both gritty and warm, and ‘The Fig Trees’ is deftly nuanced.”
~ Robert Cochran, Center for Arkansas and Regional Studies, University of Arkansas

“This brief collection of stories deals with such diverse experiences as a river baptism and coon hunting while it embraces emotions of love, jealousy, and altruism. The seven southern tales contain some real gems.”
~ Pat Carr, author of One Page at a Time and The Radiance of Fossils

“No better voice of the south can be found than Nancy Hartney, with her touching stories of life looked at in a most extraordinary way. Hartney writes about people we can love or despise, but most of all sympathize with and enjoy.”
~ WILLA Award-winning author Velda Brotherton

 

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Why Do We Do That Voodoo We Do? by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla, an author with whom I had the pleasure of working with at The Wild Rose Press on a few books, the most recent being her fantastic suspense novel, Jillie.

WHY DO WE DO THAT VOODOO WE DO?

I tap the screen of my laptop and find a writer’s blog entitled Why Do You Write? Since the process of establishing a “motive” is central to my Suspense/Mystery genre, this gives me pause. I chew on the question, a frown creasing my forehead.

Other authors seem to have no problem defining their motivation, so why can’t I? It’s not a trick question – it’s something I should probably know.

Did my inability to name a consistent tune to which my Writer Spirit dances signify a lack of imagination? Was it a death knell to my aspirations to write something worth a few hours of someone’s life?

One blogger claims his raison d’etre is a drive for pure creative expression. His stories offer the perfect venue for building other worlds peopled with folk of his conjuring.

Yup, I say to myself, that’s a cool reason to write. Maybe I just feel the need to do me some creating.

Another writer vows she has no choice but to obey a powerful Inner Command to write. I consider the implied nobility of that statement. Maybe that’s why I write. I DO sometimes feel compelled. No, really.

What might happen to a writer who ignores such a command; would she expire? Would she explode into unfulfilled bits of gelatinous non-writer? I sigh.

With a grateful heart, I find one blogger who admits to purely mercenary motives. Time to get new carpet for the living room? No problem, just whip out a blockbuster. If only.

As a retiree living on a clenched-butt fixed income, that thought sets off a responsive gong. Perhaps paving a pathway to a gratifying payday is my true motivation after all.

Yet another blogger says his writings are borne of angst. His words, a therapeutic outlet, offer catharsis to his existential pain.

Then there is the writer who believes he has important information for the world, words of wisdom, answers to the mysteries of the human condition. And there are indeed those writers whose words change the course of history.

But alas, pleased to un-dangle participles and duct-tape split infinitives, I don’t have anything of such magnitude to say. One writer’s nuggets of gold are another’s horse puckie.

Then my hard-nosed Internal Editor sends up snarky questions on the quality of my own writing. Was my plot tight enough? Did my dialogue sing? Should I have included at least one scene of graphic sex? Or horror of horrors, did my characters behave uncharacteristically?

Perhaps I write to justify my mother’s never-flagging faith in my abilities, while jabbing a finger in my dad’s eye for suggesting I get a real job.

By the time the self-doubt and reflection are said and done, I arrive at a near-epiphany: Sometimes I write for all the above reasons but sometimes I write for none of them.

Mostly I write because I want to. If someone escapes a less-than-perfect reality for a nano-second by reading something I’ve written – that’s just plain cool.

My Internal Writer sighs. The tightness in my neck relaxes, and I bang out another scene.

 

Blurb:
Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?
Excerpt:

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot..Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. She pounded against the locked, unyielding door until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails...   

The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. She snatched up the broken shovel handle and stood behind the door. With her legs slightly bent, she gripped the pole with both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door and waited.  

Bio:
A retired educator, Olive Balla began writing in her sixties. Her first mystery/suspense novel, An Arm And A Leg, was published just after her sixty-fifth birthday, and her second, Jillie, was recently published. Ms. Balla is a mother of three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother of seven. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making sawdust in her wood shop near Albuquerque New Mexico.

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October Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

 

Cassie O’Dey arrives in Virtue, Florida searching for information about Becca, the mother who abandoned her. While staying at the same bed and breakfast where Becca last stayed, Cassie encounters a familiar ghost.
Walker Thayner, a widower, has returned to Virtue to work on restoring the bed and breakfast his family has owned for generations. Hoping to find solace in his work, Walker has shut himself off emotionally. Despite his sullen demeanor Cassie finds herself drawn to him.
Even as hopes of a future in Virtue fill her heart, Cassie finds her thoughts drawn to the dark past of this small Florida town. Can she solve a murder that took place a quarter of a century in the past and put the ghost of Becca O’Dey to rest?

******************************************

When Professor Michael Peterson learns he has a terminal brain tumor and is faced with no other viable options, he promises complete confidentially to undergo an experimental and highly secretive operation in brain cell grafting.

While recuperating, he begins to have flashes of fragmented images that have no connection to his life. He soon realizes he is an unwilling participant in a murder plan initiated by his donor.

Drawn into a maze of deceit and danger, Michael must choose between keeping his word to the person who saved his life or making an attempt to save the life of a complete stranger.

******************************************

Sir Roark will do anything to gain land, even beguile an unwilling lady into marriage. He knows she’s much better off with a man to take control of her besieged castle, to say nothing of her desirable person. But it isn’t long before he discovers that, although her eyes sparkle like sunlight on sea waves, her stubbornness alone could have defeated Saladin.

Lady Alyss is determined to hold her family’s castle, protect her people, and preserve her freedom— until her brother’s dying wish binds her to a stranger. Still, she’ll allow no rugged, over-confident, appealing knight to usurp her authority, even if she must wed him. Especially since he thinks a lady’s duties begin and end with directing servants. Alyss has a few surprises for her new all-too-tempting lord.

But when a common enemy threatens everything, Roark and Alyss face a startling revelation: Without love, neither land nor freedom matters.

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Rachel Mann’s reclusive life is thrown into disarray by the discovery of a young woman’s dead body in her field. She is forced to call Sheriff Seth Talbot for help. They both want to discover why the body was dumped on her property, but Rachel has insider information she is reluctant to share.

Seth is curious about why a young, attractive woman like Rachel would hide away from the world. What is she hiding? When a second body is found, he is forced to call in the FBI. As Rachel’s secret history is stripped away, exposing her tragic past, they struggle to find a way to protect the citizens of the county and their future together.

******************************************

Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

******************************************

Wilshire, Maryland, a quaint shore town on the Chesapeake, promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world, Darrell doesn’t want to get involved, but when the desperate ghost hounds him, he concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.

******************************************

She can manage six months, but he wants forever…

Never trust a man–Ryley Kennedy’s motto for years. She has worked too long building her own career under the umbrella of her mentor.

Now, the new CEO—a too-sexy, arrogant artiste—has made her a stunning offer…marry him, stay married for six months, and inherit The Art Company, a thriving, growing world-renowned acquisitions business that she helped build from the ground up. But how can she keep their arrangement all business, when the moment he kisses her, she loses all reason and goes stupid like an inexperienced schoolgirl?

For five years Todd Jarlssen has curbed his craving, at his uncle’s command, for the sizzling firebrand who is now his personal assistant. He plays the field with women all over the world, but no one quenches his desire for the redhead who scalds his thoughts daily. He vows to have her. And keep her.

A high-stakes marriage to an electrifyingly sexy Adonis. She wants her own company, but at what price?

******************************************

Amidst a blizzard, paranormal debunker Camille Burditt arrives at Devil’s Promenade in Oklahoma to research a supernatural ‘spook light’ phenomenon for her latest book. There she encounters a ghostly being, which she dismisses as a figment of her imagination. But as the apparition becomes too persistent to deny, Camille realizes the woman’s ghost is quite real—and that her demise was not accidental.

Declan Rush—the inhospitable, reclusive owner of the inn where Camille is staying—is linked to the deceased woman, but he is less than forthcoming. Despite his unfriendliness, Camille is oddly drawn to him, even though she suspects his connection to the spirit might be that of killer to victim.

When another suspicious death occurs, Camille intensifies her investigation. She has precious little time to ferret out the truth. Not only is her book deadline looming—she’s desperate to discover if the man she’s falling for is a murderer.

******************************************

Sam Preston can’t believe his good fortune when he meets the mysterious Mariah who crashes his birthday party at his New York City hotel. Their attraction is immediate. He can’t wait to discover more about her after their passionate night together. He never gets the chance. She disappears before he wakes up, laying a false trail that leaves him frustrated. Mariah Stone and Sam have a past of which he isn’t aware. As children, they were friends until an unspeakable tragedy tore them apart. One night should have been enough to prove she had exaggerated their connection due to a childhood crush, but her plan backfired. Her mistake means now they will have to fight to understand how the past and present will influence their future.

******************************************

A Three Book Anthology
A twenty-year high school reunion changes the lives of former classmates and leads to unexpected futures.
Three Strikes Thursday
Barry Carlson, a pro baseball success, could have any woman he wanted. Except one. Twenty years before, Barry won Amanda Marsh’s love, only to crush her heart. He’s returned to Serendipity, determined to win her back. Recently divorced, Amanda is happy—until Barry slides back into her life. Can they put aside old wounds and new misunderstandings to find a forever love?
Two On Tuesday
Blane Weston’s construction company needs the venture capital Matt Durand has. With his reputation for hostile takeovers, she wants no part of him. Mixing business with pleasure, she’s off to Serendipity to hook up with a former flame. Not used to being denied, Matt follows. How can Blane enjoy a journey to her past when Matt is determined to dictate her future?
One Fateful Friday
His high school reunion in Serendipity over, hospital CEO Jake Holbrook regrets his single state. When a special woman from his past tumbles back into his life—and his bed—he’s determined to keep her there. Family practitioner Bethany Thomas avoids an entanglement with her new boss, but unknowingly betrays him. As the holidays approach, can they overcome a lack of trust to find their Christmas miracle?
******************************************

Calvin Carter, grieving widower, avid sailboater, meets Rhonda Slater, cat lover and recent widow. Despite their mutual attraction there are obstacles in their path to love. Potential objection from Rhonda’s daughter is easily handled, but not so easy to thwart is the jealous reaction of Rhonda’s deceased husband, George.

The spirit of Calvin’s wife Maryanne wants him to find happiness, as she tells him in a telephone call from the beyond. George on the other hand is determined to destroy the love match any way he can. If he can’t have Rhonda then neither can anyone else, and he’s ready to do whatever he can to rock the boat – literally as well as figuratively.

Can Maryanne prevent George from ruining a new happily-ever-after relationship?

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September Featured Books – Find New & Amazing Authors!!!

Looking for something new and fabulous to read? Try these…

Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

******************************************

 

A visionary is someone who sees into the future Taylor Forrestier sees into the past but only as it pertains to her work. Hailed by her peers as “a visionary with an instinct for beauty and an eye for the unique” Taylor is undoubtedly a brilliant architect and gifted designer. But she and twin brother Trevor, share more than a successful business. The two share a childhood wrought with lies and deceit and the kind of abuse that’s disgustingly prevalent in today’s society.

Can the love of God and the awesome healing power of His grace and mercy free the twins from their past and open their hearts to the good plan and the future He has for their lives?

Find out in…The Visionary ~ Where the awesome power of God’s love heals the most wounded of souls.

******************************************

Seven-year-old Sigrit’s happy and structured life in Germany ends suddenly one afternoon in 1944. With her parents dead, she is forced to travel with a woman who hates children while being taken to live with strangers. Even her fourteen-year-old brother is yanked away from her side. When the war ends, Sigrit is once again separated from those she loves. With so much tragedy in her young life already, how will she find the courage to face what her future brings?

Sigrit is the poignant tale of war, tyranny, cruelty, love, hope, and kindness. Follow Sigrit and her family as they struggle to survive in war-torn Germany.

******************************************

Wilshire, Maryland, a quaint shore town on the Chesapeake, promises Darrell Henshaw a new start in life and a second chance at love. That is, until he learns the town hides an ugly secret. A thirty-year-old murder in the high school. And a frightening ghost stalking his new office. Burned by an earlier encounter with the spirit world, Darrell doesn’t want to get involved, but when the desperate ghost hounds him, he concedes. Assisted by his new love, he follows a trail that leads to the civil rights movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and even the Klu Klux Klan. Then, when two locals who try to help are murdered, Darrell is forced to decide if he’s willing to risk his life—and the life of the woman he loves—to expose the killers of a young man he never knew.

******************************************

Aubrey Rae is happy on her own, running an antique toy store in Lawton, Oklahoma, until her world is upended. Jim Tanner walks into her store and she falls in love for the first time. How can she tell the man she loves the truth, that she has only months to live?

Following the death of his mother, Jim Tanner returns to Oklahoma to help his father. A chance encounter with a cursed scrimshaw doll brings him to an antique store where he meets Aubrey Rae and falls for her, hard. He knows she feels something for him too, but she’s hiding something from him. He won’t give up until he unlocks her secret, and her heart.

Aubrey Rae and Jim must battle illness, a jealous ex-lover, an obnoxious parrot, and an ancient gypsy curse if they are to have a life together.

******************************************

She can manage six months, but he wants forever…

Never trust a man–Ryley Kennedy’s motto for years. She has worked too long building her own career under the umbrella of her mentor.

Now, the new CEO—a too-sexy, arrogant artiste—has made her a stunning offer…marry him, stay married for six months, and inherit The Art Company, a thriving, growing world-renowned acquisitions business that she helped build from the ground up. But how can she keep their arrangement all business, when the moment he kisses her, she loses all reason and goes stupid like an inexperienced schoolgirl?

For five years Todd Jarlssen has curbed his craving, at his uncle’s command, for the sizzling firebrand who is now his personal assistant. He plays the field with women all over the world, but no one quenches his desire for the redhead who scalds his thoughts daily. He vows to have her. And keep her.

A high-stakes marriage to an electrifyingly sexy Adonis. She wants her own company, but at what price?

******************************************

A Three Book Anthology
A twenty-year high school reunion changes the lives of former classmates and leads to unexpected futures.
Three Strikes Thursday
Barry Carlson, a pro baseball success, could have any woman he wanted. Except one. Twenty years before, Barry won Amanda Marsh’s love, only to crush her heart. He’s returned to Serendipity, determined to win her back. Recently divorced, Amanda is happy—until Barry slides back into her life. Can they put aside old wounds and new misunderstandings to find a forever love?
Two On Tuesday
Blane Weston’s construction company needs the venture capital Matt Durand has. With his reputation for hostile takeovers, she wants no part of him. Mixing business with pleasure, she’s off to Serendipity to hook up with a former flame. Not used to being denied, Matt follows. How can Blane enjoy a journey to her past when Matt is determined to dictate her future?
One Fateful Friday
His high school reunion in Serendipity over, hospital CEO Jake Holbrook regrets his single state. When a special woman from his past tumbles back into his life—and his bed—he’s determined to keep her there. Family practitioner Bethany Thomas avoids an entanglement with her new boss, but unknowingly betrays him. As the holidays approach, can they overcome a lack of trust to find their Christmas miracle?
******************************************
Not every love story begins or ends with the passion of a bodice-ripper. Some develop slowly – an occasional look or a choice word the only spark they ever know. Some endure adversity – lies, infidelity, or opposition creating flames of distrust instead of the warm thaw of a hesitant heart. And some are so unlikely, so unexpected – no one sees the connection coming, not even the lovers themselves. “Mine to Tell” is a gentle story of adversity and forgiveness, a tale of mystery you won’t forget.
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