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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 18 July 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – WITH NO RESERATIONS by LAURIE TOMLINSON

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – WITH NO RESERATIONS by LAURIE TOMLINSON

                                                                             

There can be more than comfort in food… 

What could well-known and wealthy Graham Cooper Jr. have in common with a blogger like Sloane Bradley, a woman with secrets she’s kept firmly out of the public eye? That is, besides a love of food. Sloane still can’t believe Cooper’s the chef at the restaurant she’s been assigned to promote. But she’s boiling to prove to him that her “little blog” can put his place on the map. She can also fall head over heels for the guy, who has secrets of his own, it turns out…except for one thing. She can’t get past the post-traumatic stress disorder that keeps her walled up in her home studio.

 

He’d arranged a bouquet of colored pens in a chunky ceramic mug printed with the Simone logo. Paper clips, Post-it notes and bigger notepads were lined neatly in one corner, arranged by color. A flutter of picture-perfect giddiness set loose in Sloane’s stomach. Bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes occupied the other corner.

“It’s not much, but—”

“It’s perfect.”

Their eyes held for less than a second, charged with a rushing revelation for Sloane.

Cooper had been paying attention. And, despite all the weirdness, he got her.

 

rem:   Hullo Laurie! Congratulations on your new(ish) book! (which I loved by the way!) If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

LAURIEI rather like right now! If I could transplant my life to Colorado Springs or Seattle seamlessly (and adjust for cost of living), I love those two cities!

rem:   Both beautiful locations! Where did you find this story idea?

LAURIEIt started with the idea to have a food blogger for a main character, one whose life was much different off screen than as portrayed on her website. I’m a huge fan of food bloggers and will fall for a pretty food photo (and run straight to the grocery store to make it). J

rem:   Loved how you wove the aspects of blogging and food prep into the fabric of the story. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

LAURIE: The story started with Sloane, but Cooper ended up taking over. He was the easiest to write, surprisingly. His father was the hardest. I kept trying to make him more of a villain than my chosen genre allowed.

rem:   He was a tough cookie, and you did that well. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

LAURIEWhite cheddar popcorn and an iced unsweet Arnold Palmer (lemonade + unsweet tea) for sure.

rem:   Yummm to the popcorn, not so much to the beverage… What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

LAURIECatch up on all the books and all the sleep and all the vegetable consumption, of course!

rem:   I like the vegetable consumption bit! Congrats again on entering the world of authors! Well done!

 

Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author living in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her stories are fueled by faith, steaming mugs of tea, and her belief that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. When she’s not writing, she enjoys baking with her two little sous chefs and testing new recipes on her husband—especially if she doesn’t have to do the dishes.

Find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorLaurieTomlinson or her website, www.laurietomlinson.com.

 

1 – A stick of Irish butter, cubed into tiny uniform squares. Half-cup portions of white sugar, brown sugar, glittering in the light. And the star of the show, a mixture of chocolate chips and crumbled homemade toffee that was good enough to eat with a spoon. All showcased in sherbet-colored ceramic pinch pots and bowls from the flea market.

 

2 – His words became more flavored with French as he spoke, as if saturated by the remnant of this woman in his mind.

 

3 – Cooper recognized the pain in her eyes like he was looking into a mirror. Yes, he was very

familiar with the kind of grief that sneaks up on you. With the dark, smothering bag it throws over your head and the way it pushes you into the back of a moving van.

 

4 – She scanned the room for Cooper and started when she found him looking directly at her. Whoa. She felt like a dunk-tank seat had plunged her into water.

 

5 – “À la bonne heure.” Cooper could almost hear the words Simone often told him as she poured tea into his mug. “In good time.” Had his time finally arrived?

 

6 – But some time while he was in Paris, Marian had become a different person. He’d returned stateside to a full-color version of the woman who’d been living in black-and-white when he left.

 

7 – This was an unfamiliar intersection—memories of Aaron that made her laugh?

 

8 – But Sloane was aware. Aware of a strange, comforting feeling that was a night-and-day contrast to the pain. To the numbness. Was this what peace felt like? It’d been so long that it was hard for her to recognize it when it sneaked up on her.

 

9 – “No, Cooper.” Sloane aimed a razor-sharp glare at him, but her lower lip trembled. “You don’t understand. You can’t even begin to understand.”

 

10 – …can you be free if you won’t forgive yourself?”

 

11 – That sacred juncture between past and present was a powerful departure from the vicious cycle her life had been. The hand in hers was the love that had taught her to breathe again.

 

Wow! What a story!

 

Sloane Bradley is trapped and emotionally broken by a past tragedy. She had her life in order, a very controlled order, and she likes it that way.

 

Graham Cooper Jr. ran from his past, trading one destructive habit for workaholic. But as his new restaurant nears opening, his passion for cooking sizzles—and for a certain food and promotion blogger.

 

Both determined that they’re the last thing the other needs, Sloane and Cooper resist the attraction that simmers between them. But will their pasts put a sweet future in deep freeze? Or can they discard expired emotions and stir up a new recipe for happiness?

 

 

Ms. Tomlinson’s dialogue sparkles, her writing jumps off the page pulling the reader right in. Emotions are real, and raw, and I could taste the pain and longing. I felt the taunting burn of a past that won’t leave them alone, and the anticipation of hope that maybe the tragedies have reached their expiration date. I felt the need to hang onto the familiar and the longing to taste something new. Ms. Tomlinson has a secret recipe for story telling and it makes a delightful dish.

 

 

I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, With No Reservations, Laurie Tomlinson

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 11 July 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – ACTING MARRIED by VICTORINE LIESKE

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – ACTING MARRIED by VICTORINE LIESKE

 

                                                                            

Tara McDermott needed a job, so she took the only thing available—cleaning house for the swoon-worthy actor, and Hollywood Bad Boy, Rick Shade. When he comes up with a crazy plan to tame his wild reputation by marrying her, she reluctantly agrees so she can pay off her debts and move her daughter back to the Midwest where life is simpler. If only he wouldn’t make her heart pound every time he kisses her.

Rick’s reputation is in the toilet and it’s affecting his job. In order to get a good role, he needs to show Hollywood he’s now a family man. After enticing Tara with a large sum of money to go through with the farce, he sets out to show the public he’s in love. But Tara’s soft lips keep calling to him and soon he doesn’t know what’s pretend and what’s real.

 

Acting Married is a sweet romance.

 

She wanted to say something about Rick and his own relationship issues, but Tara stuffed the words down her throat. She didn’t want to get into another fight with him. She gazed out over the ocean and forced herself to calm down. It wasn’t a good idea to overreact. That only lead to embarrassment.

Rick sighed. “I’m sorry. I stuck my nose where it shouldn’t have been. If you don’t want to go visit your parents, I’ll call Phil back and tell him it’s off.”

“No,” she said, touching his arm. “It’s okay. Maybe we could go see them.”

He slid his arm around her and pulled her to his chest. “I won’t let him hurt you again,” he whispered, then he pressed his lips to the top of her head.

She snuggled into him, ignoring the little voice telling her not to get so close to Rick Shade. “I know,” she said, her voice barely audible. Rick would do everything in his power to protect her and Kylee.

He wrapped both arms around her and she could smell his scent. A tiny hint of cologne mixed with a smell that was unique to Rick. Her heart beat faster.

He pulled back from her. “You know, if we were really married, I’d kiss you right now.” His voice sounded raspy.

She looked up at him. “We are really married. I saw the paperwork.”

His gaze dropped to her lips. “Then I guess I have to.”

“Probably wouldn’t be right if you didn’t.”

He leaned closer, stopping only a breath away from her lips. “I hope those onions I ate earlier don’t ruin the kiss.”

“I’ll let you know if your breath is hideous by making little choking noises as we kiss.”

His lips twitched. “Thanks,” he said before he closed the gap. His soft lips teased hers, and she closed her eyes. His hand reached around her neck, pulling her closer, his thumb caressing her cheek. The kiss deepened and she lost all thought about what he’d eaten for lunch. Her skin tingled with his touch. She could easily melt into the sand and die a happy person.

“What are you doing, Mommy?” Kylee came bounding up to them, spraying sand on Tara’s legs. She reluctantly pulled back.

“Kylee! Come here!” Amanda ran up to Kylee and picked her up. “I’m sorry, she got away from me.”

Tara felt a blush creep up to her cheeks. “It’s fine.”

“Look at this!” Kylee said, holding up a seashell. Part of it had broken, revealing the intricate spiral on the inside.

Rick examined it. “That’s awesome.”

“Great find,” Tara said, putting her hand up to shield her eyes from the sun.

“Let’s go look for more treasures,” Amanda said, holding out her hand. Kylee ran to her.

Rick turned toward Tara. “Where were we?”

Unfortunately, reality had set in and the moment was gone. She shouldn’t be kissing Rick, not when their relationship had an expiration date. She needed to remember that even though the marriage certificate was real, what they had was fake.

“I was just about to tell you to keep it light on the onions next time.”

His smile vanished. “Seriously?” He cupped his hand in front of his mouth and huffed into it, then sniffed.

Guilt made her stomach clench. The look on his face made it worse. He grimaced, like he’d just had one of his most embarrassing moments. She couldn’t let him continue to think he had onion breath.

She laughed, trying to keep it light. “I’m just kidding.”

His mouth dropped open and he poked her in the side. “I’m going to get you good for that one.”

Before she knew it, he was on top of her, his knees straddling her sides, his fingers tickling under her ribs. She fell back against the sand and laughed, squirming to get away, but she couldn’t. His fingers skimmed over her skin, making her laugh so hard she could barely breathe.

“Tickle me next!” Kylee said.

Rick finally relented, climbing off her and going after Kylee. Her daughter screamed and laughed as he chased her in the sand. Anyone watching would have thought he was her father. The thought made her blink back tears.

This, too, would end.

Victorine enjoys commercial success through her writing, thanks in part to her ability to analyze and adapt to the constantly changing trends in today’s publishing environment. She self-published her first book, Not What She Seems, in April of 2010. In March of 2011, Not What She Seems began its 6 week run on The New York Times best selling eBook list. By May 2011 she had sold over 100,000 copies. Victorine’s first romantic comedy novel, Accidentally Married, hit the USA Today Best selling books list in January 2015. Victorine is a graphic designer as well, and can be hired for book cover design.

http://www.victorinelieske.com/

http://bluevalleyauthorservices.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Victorine-E.-Lieske/e/B003J4VTKO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1470423726&sr=8-1

https://www.facebook.com/victorinelieske/

 

He pulled up his social media accounts on the computer and tapped the desk with his index finger. What should he post that would hint at things to come?

 

If this were a Jane Austin movie, there’d be a lot of swooning going on. She reminded herself that putting a suit on a pig didn’t make it a man.

 

Kylee patted his arm. “The trees are tired today.”

He looked out the window. “What?”

“Theyr’re tired. See? They aren’t flapping today.”

Rick wasn’t sure what she meant. “Flapping?”

“The leaves were flapping yesterday, making wind. But they need to rest today. They worked hard yesterday.”

 

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

 

Tara McDermott thought taking a job as a maid was desperate. After her failed marriage to one aspiring actor the last thing she wanted was to be in the employ of another actor. Even if he was a big-time star.

 

Rick Shade has a reputation he needs to clean up for the press. And when his new maid spills coffee on him, he takes his agents crazy idea and runs with it. And Tara would give anything to just be the maid again.

 

Problem is, they may be pretending but the feelings are real. Problem is, neither of them realizes the other one feels the same way.

 

 

Ms. Lieske has once again taken an absurd notion and turned it into a delightful romance. Her characters have depth and conflict even as they try to run from their own feelings. They pull into their false romance, just to the brink of dropping all pretense, then like the tide, they rush away again. His story stirs conflict as it abrades against hers. Will they erode away all pretense? Or will they erode away any chance of love?

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Acting Married, Victorine Lieske

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BLOGWORDS – Wednesday 5 July 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – COUNT ME IN BY MIKAL DAWN

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – COUNT ME IN BY MIKAL DAWN

                                                                             

 

*This is a romantic comedy with a Christian worldview.

Allegra Spencer has been living a careful life. Her safe job as an accountant is bookended by going to church and the gym. Okay, sometimes the gym. Fine. She goes to church. And the coffee shop. She avoids risk at all cost, preferring to stay safe in her cozy condo. Until her accounting firm goes belly up and she’s out of a job.

Tyler Hawk had a glorious career as a star NFL tight end. He retired on a high note and now lives a second dream of owning his own business and leading others on extreme outdoor adventures. But he needs help with his books—and his heart. When Allegra takes the job, sparks fly.

It’s a case of safety zone versus danger zone, and in their minds, never the two shall meet.

 

“Here’s your caramel macchiato, Allegra.”

She watched as Jael slid the cup into a sleeve. Allegra wrapped her hand around it, proud of herself for taking a step outside her comfort zone from her regular Kit Kat latté. She turned…

Oomph.

“My coffee!” Did she really just yell for her coffee, more worried about it than the man she’d known was close behind her?

Something was wrong with her.

She snorted. No. She just loved her coffee. Though the man currently gripping her upper arms in his strong hands…

“I…” The words died on her lips as she peered up into lush green eyes gazing down at her. “Sorry,” she squeaked.

The man looked down at her hand, still holding tight to her latté. “No harm done. Looks like the barista put the lid on tight.”

Allegra glanced over her shoulder at Jael, who was standing behind the counter watching them with a grin on her face.

“You’re welcome.” Jael lifted a brow, tilting her head to the man.

Allegra rolled her eyes. Though if it meant the guy talking to her, she’d have to remember to slide Jael a big tip.

A very big tip.

 

MIKAL:   Thank you so much for having me, Robin!! ❤

rem:   Hullo, Mikal, I’m so happy to have you here today. If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

MIKAL:   Oh, that is such a hard question! If I knew I would be safe and it would be as romantic as Tamara Leigh makes it sound, I would so go back to the medieval period. As long as I got to be nobility, that is. If not the medieval time, then for sure the Regency period. As long as I got to be nobility. I was meant to live in a castle. I just know it.

rem:   I’m right there with ya, girlfriend. Where did you find this story idea?

MIKAL:   I was in a course and part of the assignment was to write a sentence for each part of a story. We were given a character name (which has since changed), and I thought I’d read that the character was an accountant (I’ve since gone back and can’t find that). I wrote a few sentences for the assignment and had a couple of people email me and say they’d like to read that story. And here we are!

rem:   Story ideas truly are anywhere and everywhere. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

MIKAL:   Oh man. The easiest character by far was Allegra. She is so much like me, it’s scary. LOL! From the coffee to the klutz. Yeah. Me. The most difficult character to write was definitely Tyler. Probably because I’m not a man, so had a hard time making sure he was a man with male thoughts, speech, and actions. I’m so thankful for excellent critique partners!

rem:   Methinks, perhaps that’s the hardest to write for all of us—characters of the opposite gender. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

MIKAL:   You mean, what’s beside me right at this very moment? LOL! Coffee. And strawberry Australian licorice. Oh wow, I love that stuff. I also chow down on pita chips and hummus. And red Starbursts. Not all at the same time, of course.

rem:   Yay to coffee, gick to licorice (or any kind) and yay to red Starbusts. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

MIKAL:   Can I admit that I cry? Because I do. I cry. Writing is such an emotional roller coaster that it’s a relief when it’s finished. Months of research, work, dreaming, and strained wrists and fingertips culminate in another dream coming true. After that, my husband takes us all out for dinner and we celebrate mum’s return to humanity! 😊

rem:   At least until you stumble down another story hole… Mikal congrats on an amazing book! Thanks for being on the blog today!

 

Mikal Dawn is an inspirational romance author, wedding enthusiast and proud military wife. By day she works for an international sports ministry, and by night she mutters to imaginary friends, performs sketchy Google searches, and procrastinates (like any good writer!). When she isn’t writing about faith, fun, and forever, she is obsessively scouring Pinterest (with coffee in hand, of course!) for wedding ideas for her characters.

Born and raised just outside of Vancouver, Canada, Mikal lived throughout the southern United States, before moving to Nebraska (and loving it!) with her husband, three kids, and one ferocious feline.

 

  • “They were oil and vinegar, chocolate and green beans…Seahawks and 49ers.”
  • “It was time for a change. The evening air carried the scent of Seattle. The faint brine from the ocean mixed with exhaust and a spring shower. Change. The city was always changing, so why not her?”
  • “Thank You, Jesus, for whomever discovered the coffee bean could be ground into such sustaining energy.”
  • Could the floor actually open up and swallow her whole? That would be preferable to standing there, facing her new employer after hitting him.
  • Back off. BACK OFF! Red lights flashed in Tyler’s mind. If the robot from Lost in Space were there, he’d be repeating, “Warning, warning. Danger” in all his theatrical glory.
  • She was wound up tighter than the Ace bandages his sports therapist had wrapped Tyler’s ankle in before games. And that had left his toes blue.
  • He wanted her to experience the confidence that pushing through fear could bring.
  • “You’re missing out on life, Allie. ‘There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God.’ Straight from the Bible, dear sister. Mic drop.”
  • Tyler grasped her hand—only to have the touch sting and exhilarate him like he’d just caught a twenty-yard driveline pass.
  • Cracks of weakness were breaking open, and he didn’t like it. Allegra tore through every wall he’d built up over the years…

 

  1. Count Me In was originally titled Catch Me until a writing contest. Two of the three judges mentioned the title wouldn’t grab them or make them pick the book up. It turned out to be for the best, because the other two books in this series have fallen into place so nicely and will look great alongside Count Me In!
  2. One day in church, I met a younger woman and I’m pretty sure my eyes popped out of my head. She looked exactly like Allegra! So much so, I almost freaked out. Once I got to know her a little, I had intended to hire a photographer and use this woman as Allegra for a cover shoot. Unfortunately, it just couldn’t work out (I put all my money into editing, so didn’t have much left over to pay for the photography shoot). It turned out well, though! I ended up designing the cover myself, and I’m thrilled with it. It’s different from most other covers, which made me nervous, but so far it’s been well-received!
  3. The Kit Kat lattés talked about in the book are, in fact, real. I make them here at home and I looooove them.
  4. If you’re involved in the Christian blogging/publishing industry, even as fans, you might recognize a few names in Count Me In. Especially the accounting firm in the last quarter of the book. 😉 (rem: yes, I did notice that)
  5. I indie-published this book, but did so by creating my own publishing company, 121 Publishing House. 121 is for Psalm 121: “I lift my eyes up to the heavens; where does my help come from?” It’s my mum’s favorite, and I wanted to honor her somehow. This felt right.
  6. Tyler Hawk, Allegra’s hero, is a former Seattle Seahawk. That would be because I’m a HUGE Seahawks fan!!
  7. When I write, it needs to be utterly silent. If my family is home, or I’m out in public at a coffeeshop, I wear ear plugs. Yes. Ear plugs. I need to drown out the noise so I can better concentrate. I get distracted waaaay too easily.
  8. I do have a writing companion: my cat, Leo, gets comfortable laying across my legs when I’m on the couch with my computer on my lap. He’s fluffy (a silver, long-haired Siberian), and by “fluffy,” I mean both in fur and weight. Ha!
  9. For research, I used YouTube quite a bit for the adventure scenes. I love using it to get a feel for the action and what (and how) things are seen, but also for the audible picture, such as what would the wind sound like when parasailing? Would I hear birds above the rush of white waters when rafting? All that fun stuff.
  10. The next book in this collection is focusing on Bo and Story. I can’t wait to share their history with you all! (rem: i KNEW it!!!)

 

OH | MY | GOODNESS!! Such a fun story!

 

When control freak Allegra Spencer meets out of control Tyler Hawk, both their safety nets begin to unravel.

 

Thread by thread and layer by layer, the fear that has snugged her safe and sound. Till that one thread snagged loose. And like any web, the harder she tries to stay safe in its embrace, the more it sloughs away.

 

Tyler Hawk, however, ripped through every safety net his parents tried to wrap him up in. He broke records, he achieved the unachievable, he proved them wrong. Over and over.

So what was he still running from?

 

 

Ms. Dawn brings two forces together—unmovable meets the unstoppable—and wraps a sweet and funny story around it. Her dialogue absolutely sparkles, and character emotions run the gamut. I wanted to kick Allegra in the shins even as I felt her fears; I wanted to knock some sense into Tyler’s hard head as he did what he thought she needed—push her out of her safety shell. My heart broke every time they danced close to the flame… and then away again.

Well done, Ms. Dawn, on a stellar debut novel. I’m looking forward to your sophomore story.

 

 

I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Count Me In, Mikal Dawn

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 20 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – LOOKING GLASS LIES

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – LOOKING GLASS LIES

 

For most of her adult life, Cecily Ross has compared herself to other women—and come up short. After a painful divorce from her emotionally abusive husband, Cecily returns to her hometown of Canyon, Texas, looking to heal.

But coming home isn’t what she expects. In a town as small as Canyon, her pain is difficult to escape—especially with her model-perfect ex–sister-in-law working at the town’s popular coffee-shop hangout. With help from her father, a support group, and an old friend who guides her to see her own strengths, Cecily may have a shot at overcoming her insecurities and learning to love again.

The true test comes when tragedy strikes, opening Cecily’s eyes to the harmfulness of her distorted views on beauty—and giving her the perfect opportunity to find peace at last.

 

I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet. Again. For a moment, I enjoyed the wispy memory of a not-yet-forgotten dream, but then I realized the plush carpet had become solid rock while I slept, its gritty fibers pressing against me as though I were wedged into a sandstone crevice instead of willingly tucked against the back wall beneath my hanging clothes.

Pressing my palm against the ivory carpet, I dragged myself out of the corner, sat in front of the mirror, and squared my shoulders as though I no longer needed to hide from reality. As though I’d be all right without Brett. As though his divorce papers fit neatly into my fairy tale.

“You can handle this,” I said to my reflection. In a few short hours, I could start a new day, build a new life, create a new me.

I could go back home and start over. People in my hometown wouldn’t be surprised things hadn’t worked out between Brett and me—they had said as much when we’d started dating in high school. After a while I could settle into the complacent solace of small-town life, lick my wounds, and become invisible among the laid-back community that Brett had always deemed unsophisticated.

“You go, girl.” I lifted my chin, but the girl in the mirror didn’t seem convincing.

No matter. That’s what I would do tomorrow . . . or next week . . . or maybe next month. Okay, so it might take a while, but at least it was a plan. And it was a heck of a lot better than crying in a closet. Like a baby.

 

rem:   Hullo Varina, congratulations on your new book! What a powerful story! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

VARINA:   I’d love to visit Europe around 1800, but only for a day or so. Actually, I’d like to step directly into Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Wouldn’t that be fun? But not for long … no indoor plumbing or central air. 😊

rem:   Right, for all the romance portrayed, some bits were not so lovely… (can I go with you?) Where did you find this story idea?

VARINA:   I’ve struggled with low self-esteem for years, so the idea for Looking Glass Lies came from my own journey. However, the specific details of Cecily’s life are nothing like my own. Instead, her plot is a combination of sad twists that I’ve heard about over the years.

rem:   Then you know why this resonates so with me. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

VARINA:   Cecily was the easiest because I totally “get” the whole self-esteem thing. Marinda was the most difficult, probably because of my insecurities when I’m around strikingly beautiful people. It took me a while to relate to her.

rem:   See above response… It took me years of progress to reach “low” self-esteem… What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

VARINA:   Granola bars, apples and peanut butter, nuts, sugar-free chocolate

rem:   Oh such discipline! Oh so healthy! What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

VARINA:   I sleep late, catch-up on house cleaning, and redirect my creative energy toward all the Pinterest projects I’ve been putting off while on deadline.

rem:   What lovely recovery treatment! Thank you again, Varina, for visiting my blog—and for writing your wonderful stories.

 

Varina Denman writes stories about the unique struggles women face. Her award-winning Mended Hearts series, which revolves around church hurt, is a compelling blend of women’s fiction and inspirational romance. Her latest novel, Looking Glass Lies, releases in May. A native Texan, Varina lives near Fort Worth with her husband and five mostly grown children. Connect with Varina on her website or one of the social media hangouts.

 

LGL book trailer: https://youtu.be/L4K-bolCE2k

https://varinadenman.com

https://shameonshanty.com

http://amzn.to/2qgELz6

http://facebook.com/varina.denman

http://twitter.com/varinadenman

http://instagram.com/varina.denman.author

http://pinterest.com/varinadenman

 

  • Not only did I still believe the lies … they consume me, heart and soul. – Cecily Ross
  • The barbed wire tattoo, coiling and circling my arm, was just like his vibrant personality that had tightened around my heart until it drew blood. – Cecily Ross
  • I woke up in the middle of the night in our cavernous walk-in closet again, while my husband slept soundly in our pillow-top king, just on the other side of the closet door. Good grief, I had to stop doing this. – Cecily Ross
  • He pressed his cheek against my forehead. “Your heart is full of love for Nina, and disgust for the people who hurt her, but still … you need to pay attention to what’s happening in there.” He tapped my chest. “Respect your feelings.” – Cecily Ross and Graham Harper
  • I wanted to tell him I was sorry, that I had been a silly fool, that I understood now. But none of that mattered, and for the first time, I could truly say, This is not about me. – Cecily Ross
  • Shanty looked the same, but different. Her creamy brown skin (a mixture she got from her African American father and Asian American mother) was set off by frosted makeup. I had forgotten how pretty she was, but surprisingly, I didn’t find her intimidating. – Cecily Ross
  • I hated that phone. Despised it. It was full of videos Brett didn’t want me to see, websites he claimed he hadn’t visited, pictures he made certain I never had access to. I couldn’t compete with all that. Evidently. – Cecily Ross

 

A poignant and relatable novel, Looking Glass Lies captures the war women wage against themselves, and the struggle to see beauty reflected in a mirror not distorted by society’s unrelenting expectations.

 

Few books have impacted me as deeply as this one. What woman, at some time in her life, has not looked in the mirror and questioned something, everything? And what woman has not believed those lies, at least once…

 

Cecily Ross believed those lies. Not only when she looked in the mirror, but every time her husband looked through her. Every time he looked at “perfect” images online. The scars on her body were not at his hand, but her own.

Through the strength of desperation, Cecily flees her marriage and returns to her home town. But solace eludes her—the lies have followed her and her battle continues.

 

Will the encouragement of her father and an old friend be enough to pull Cecily from the mire of self-hate? Will the support group help her see past the lies to the truth? The truth that all women are beautiful?

 

The story and characters on the pages are fictional but the reality of it is not. Cecily—and Shanty and Nina—could be any woman. The depth of the wounds is very real and this reviewer knows the devastation of self-hate. Ms. Denman has portrayed Cecily’s story in a very real light, the struggle she faces with every thought, the determination to get better—and the hopelessness of the seeming impossible effort.

This reviewer—I have overcome this battle but at random moments those thoughts creep up, trying to take me down again. I am armed with the Word of God—I am fearfully and wonderfully made, and I am His masterpiece, created in His image—in my arsenal. And I take that stand for every woman who has ever looked in the mirror and believed the lies.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own free will. The opinions expressed in my review are my honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Looking Glass Lies, Varina Denman, #forNina, Shame on Shanty

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BLOGWORDS – Saturday 17 June 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – NEW RELEASE EVENT – SOMEPLACE FAMILIAR BY TERESA TYSINGER

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – SOMEPLACE FAMILIAR BY TERESA TYSINGER

 

 

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Someplace Familiar by Teresa Tysinger. I’m posting today about this debut novel, a contemporary southern romance with themes of faith, hope in new love, and grace. It’s the first in a series of books set in Laurel Cove, a fictional town in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I’m joining other bloggers this week to tell you a little about the book and spread the news about the giveaway Teresa is hosting! Be sure to enter to win a signed book and more from Teresa at the end of this post. And leave your comments and questions below—Teresa will be stopping by to visit with us!

Artist Livy Johnson needs a fresh start. That’s what a broken heart and forgotten dreams can do to a person. On little more than a whim, she reclaims her grandmother’s old home in quaint Laurel Cove, North Carolina and vows to restore its original charm. When she literally collides with childhood friend, Jack Bowdon, Livy wonders if she’s back for an entirely different reason.

Jack can’t believe his childhood crush is back. As the owner of Bowdon’s Supplies, and once again the town’s most eligible bachelor, he offers to help Livy with repairs. Together they embark on the project—and an undeniable whirlwind romance.

But it’s not all smooth sailing. Can they survive the destructive pain of their pasts to discover God’s grace waiting to renovate their hearts?

 

Not much had changed about Laurel Cove, North Carolina in the ten years since Livy Johnson had last visited. Driving down Main Street, it was every bit as charming and picturesque as she remembered. American flags blew in the breeze in old store fronts. Two old men in overalls leaned lazily on the back end of a rusty pick-up, probably shooting the breeze.

A red traffic light.

Livy’s foot slammed against the brake pad, lurching the car to a stop about a foot into the quiet intersection. The cracking of wood behind her seat could only mean one thing. Her easel had broken. How was she going to get back into painting without the easel she’d used since art school? What a great start to her new beginning.

With no traffic waiting, Livy steered the car left as the light turned. She needed no GPS to find the Laurel Cove Inn, a short, steep climb off Main Street. The car came to a much gentler stop in front of the grand white building sitting at one edge of the town square. Livy’s muscles ached from the five-hour drive from Raleigh as she stepped from the car and stretched her arms toward a cloudless sky. The building was every bit as beautiful as she remembered.

The sight of a man looking down from a second-story window of the inn pricked at her insecurities. A gasp of cold, crisp mountain air stung her throat as her hand rubbed at the heat rising up her neck. Her eyes cut to the hood of her car, its engine still pinging as it cooled. The uneasiness of being watched eclipsed the serenity of her surroundings. She’d come to Laurel Cove to hide from her problems, yet someone had already found her.

Don’t be ridiculous. It wasn’t like she was hiding. Plus, everything, and everyone, she remembered of Laurel Cove was good. Curiosity pulled her eyes back to the window. The man’s tall figure filled most of the space between the frame. Flat palm facing out, he nodded in her direction.

Her heart skipped in her chest. Who was he? A tenant or maybe the owner? And why was he watching her so intently? She returned an awkward wave but not a smile, a tingling electricity traveling from her neck to her fingertips. Apparently satisfied, the man disappeared from the window.

Hiding had been effortless in New York City. Getting lost in a sea of people was as easy as stepping onto a crowded Subway car. Sweet Laurel Cove would be very different. Generations of families filled its church pews, ran its farms, and schooled its children. Anonymity was as rare as lightning bugs in wintertime—as her Gram would say. Being new in town and keeping a low profile might prove tough. Yet, the memory of feeling so safe and loved during summers here with her grandmother made it seem like just the place she was meant to be.

A cool breeze whipped at the few loose strands of hair around Livy’s face and pulled her away from her thoughts. She turned to gather her things from the backseat of the car. The easel fell apart as she removed a suitcase that had been holding it in place behind her seat. Ruined. But no time to dwell on more broken things. She straightened and retrieved the folded paper she’d carried in her purse the past two months, opened it, and scanned the contents. She refolded it with care and slid it back in for safekeeping.

Armed with a few bags and one large rolling suitcase, Livy took in the entirety of the picturesque inn. This would be home—at least for now. With its large pillars, wraparound porch, and grand hanging ferns, it epitomized southern charm. Her eyes wandered along the lines of the white siding, to cornices adorned with carved ornaments, and finally up to a red tin roof. It had been well maintained over the years.

As Livy took the uneven stone walkway toward the front steps, she dared to revisit the window. Empty. The encounter with the man had been harmless, yet something inside her stirred. Would she make friends easily here? Would they treat her differently once they found out she’d been living up north? Southerners may be known for their hospitality, but some could be wary of outsiders. Her future here was anything but clear. Yet she’d made it this far. With a deep breath, Livy opened the door.

 

rem:   Hullo Teresa!! Congrats on your debut novel!! If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

TERESA:   Thanks so much for having me! I’d live right now, but in the mountains of North Carolina. Seriously my happy place!

rem:   They are breathtaking aren’t they? Where did you find this story idea?

TERESA:   The plot sort of just came to me as I kept writing. But the setting was inspired by my time spent in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Appalachia North Carolina. I knew I wanted to write a story set in these beautiful hills and valleys – in a quaint, quiet Southern town.

rem:   Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

TERESA:   The easiest was Jack Bowdon, our handsome and sweet hero. For some reason, I felt like I just knew Jack before I even knew the story. He’s probably made up of part my own real life leading man with a few tweaks. The most difficult was Claire, Jack’s ex-wife. Even though she’s our typical antagonist in many ways, I knew I wanted her to also be redeemable in a way. That proved tough!

rem:   And I’d say you done good. #nospoilers What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

TERESA:   My favorite is iced coffee. If I have food, I tend to eat mindlessly (which means too much!) so I try not to have snacks out.

rem:   I love iced coffee, used to drink it all the time. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

TERESA:   Mindless television or movie watching! Best decompressor for me.

rem:   Ah yes, mindless is the way to go! For however long it lasts….

 

Teresa Tysinger is a wife and mother transplanted from North Carolina to North Texas. When not working as the Director of Communications for a large downtown church, she writes charming southern romances inspired by grace. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Religious Communicators’ Council, and the Association for Women in Communications, Teresa has spent over a decade committed to telling stories of faith through written word. She also offers graphic design and marketing services to other authors through her freelance business, Good Day Publishing. She loves coffee, caramel, and stories with happy endings.

 

www.teresatysinger.com

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16536072.Teresa_Tysinger

https://www.facebook.com/teresatysingerauthor/

https://twitter.com/tmtysinger

https://www.instagram.com/teresatysingerauthor/

https://www.pinterest.com/teresatysinger/

http://amzn.to/2qHqhro

 

  • Hiding had been effortless in New York City. Getting lost in a sea of people was as easy as stepping onto a crowded subway car. Sweet Laurel Cove would be different. Generations of families filled its church pews, ran its farms, and schooled its children. Anonymity was as rare as lightning bugs in wintertime—as her grandmother would say.
  • Their eyes locked. Again, heat rose to Livy’s cheeks. He needed to stop looking at her that way. She never should have noticed the captivating hue of his sky-blue eyes. When was the last time a man flustered her like this?
  • The place reminded her of a refined lady, full of subtle beauty and without any entitlement or pride of position.
  • She looked again to the dilapidated cottage. Her mind’s eye resurrected colorful flowerbeds, musical chimes swaying in the wind, and the vision of Gram standing on the porch in her housecoat waving her white handkerchief and calling Livy go supper. She drew in a deep breath that fanned the ember into a flame of determination. It wasn’t the end, but rather the beginning. It had to be.
  • Jack’s compliments collected inside her like shells in her pocket during a walk on the beach.
  • “He said that the love they shared flooded into the deep cracks of his grief like grains of sand. That it didn’t stitch the cracks closed, just filled in the wounds so that they were bearable.”
  • If a smile had a sound, Jack’s voice delivered it.
  • Relationships were such funny things. Some broke your heart and some healed it.

 

  1. Someplace Familiar was originally titled Good Graces, until a literary agent pointed out that there aren’t really “bad” graces, are there? So, new title! And I love the title I settled on.
  2. I wrote the first (very rough) draft of the book for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writer’s Month) in 2013. That’s 50,000 words written in one month. Whew!
  3. Livy’s grandmother’s cottage that she and Jack work to renovate in the book is based heavily on my own memories of my great-grandmother’s little bungalow, though hers was in West Palm Beach, Florida.
  4. The Laurel Cove Inn where Livy stays while working on the cottage is based on the NuWray Inn in Burnsville, North Carolina.
  5. As a graphic designer, I designed the book cover, though it took me over a dozen different designs before deciding on this one. Oh, the choices!
  6. In one scene, Livy mentions tasting “Patti’s peanut butter balls” at a fair. These are real treats that my best friend’s mother (Patti “with an I”) makes and is a favorite of my husband!
  7. Speaking of my best friend, she is the inspiration for Jen Barnett, Jack’s best friend Owen’s wife who befriends Livy. In this instance only, I didn’t even change the name, but decided to honor my friend by keeping the name.
  8. If Someplace Familiar had a theme song, it would be “Hills and Valleys” by Tauren Wells. I listened to it a lot during final edits and the lyrics speak very well to God’s faithfulness in both good times and bad.
  9. Originally, the opening scene of the book was set in Livy’s New York City apartment after she and Sam break up and he leaves her in an emotional mess. Thanks to help from several experienced authors and editors, I decided to start more in the action as Livy returns to Laurel Cove.
  10. Good Day Publishing, my self-publishing imprint, is based on one of my favorite Bible verses, Psalm 118:24. “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.”

 

After ten years in New York City, a failed relationship drives Livy Johnson to the small town where she spent her childhood summers. She has her heart set on restoring the cottage where her grandmother lived, her home away from home that made those early summers so memorable.

 

Enter Jack Bowden, childhood friend and owner of the local supply store. Their friendship revives, and sparks begin to kindle.

But can Livy trust Jack’s kindness after years of debilitating criticism? And can Jack trust another woman after being betrayed by his wife?

 

 

Ms. Tysinger’s story is a portrait of life, the ordeals and the delights, the raw colors on a canvas blending to a final masterpiece. The pain and issues that both Livy and Jack have to contend with are real and cruel, the stuff that can make or break a relationship. The stuff that can make or break a man or woman. The struggle Livy faced with the abusive voice of her past wasn’t pretty; Livy grew as she dealt with it, gaining a confidence she hadn’t known before.

Anger rips through Jack like a knife through a canvas, ugly and unexpected. The wounds he bears are deep, and have not healed. Ms. Tysinger has given her characters depth and authenticity as they fight their pasts, in their failures. And in the triumph of forgiveness, even unexpected, unthinkable forgiveness.

 

 

I purchased this book on Amazon. I offer my review of my own free will, and the opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

To win a signed paperback copy of Someplace Familiar, a custom 8×8” canvas painting by artist Cyndi Browning (in honor of the book’s heroine, Livy, who is an artist), and $10 Amazon Gift Card.

 

ENTER HERE

(https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e36c22633/)

 

Winner will be announced on Teresa’s website on June 18 once the tour wraps up. (Open to continental US residents only; sorry international readers!)

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, Someplace Familiar, Teresa Tysinger

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BLOGWORDS – Tuesday 23 May 2017 – TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – THE MEMORY OF YOU BY CATHERINE WEST

TUESDAY REVIEWS-DAY – RELEASE DAY EVENT – THE MEMORY OF YOU BY CATHERINE WEST

Thirteen years ago, Natalie lost a part of herself when her twin sister died. Will traveling back to the family winery finally put the memory to rest, or will it completely destroy her?

 

When Natalie Mitchell learns her beloved grandfather has had a heart attack, she’s forced to return to their family-owned winery in Sonoma, something she never intended to do. She’s avoided her grandparents’ sprawling home and all its memories since the summer her sister died—the awful summer Natalie’s nightmares began. But the winery is failing, and Natalie’s father wants her to shut it down. As the majority shareholder, she has the power to do so.

 

And Natalie never says no to her father.

 

Tanner Collins, the vintner on Maoilios, is trying to salvage a bad season and put the Mitchell family’s winery back in business. When Natalie Mitchell shows up, Tanner sees his future about to be crushed. Natalie intends to close the gates, unless he can convince her otherwise. But the Natalie he remembers from childhood is long gone, and he’s not so sure he likes the woman she’s become. Still, the haunted look she wears hints at secrets he wants to unearth. He soon discovers that on the night her sister died, the real Natalie died too. And Tanner must do whatever it takes to resurrect her.

 

But finding freedom from the past means facing it.

Nicole’s obsession with Tanner Collins had been the biggest wedge between them. Natalie could put up with her sister’s bossiness, snide remarks, the calculated schemes that left Natalie holding the bag every time, but the final insult was the look on Nic’s face when she’d snuck in late one night, her face flushed, eyes lit with excitement while she eagerly relayed the events of the past few hours.

 

He’s such a good kisser, Nat. Oh my gosh. I’m so in love…”

            “Oh, please. You’re thirteen. What do you know about love?” Natalie rolled over in bed, squeezed her eyes shut. Why had she been so stupid to confide in her sister? To think she could actually trust her. Hot tears trickled down her cheeks.

            Two days ago, after Natalie and Tanner spent the afternoon together, reading and swapping stories, Tanner had done the unexpected. Leaned in, looked her in the eye for a long moment, then kissed her. Short, but oh so sweet. It had taken her breath away. And she’d come home and confessed her undying love for Tanner Collins to her sister.

            “Natty? I know you said you liked him, but… you’re okay with this, right?” Nic crawled onto the bed and rubbed Natalie’s back. “Tanner said he likes you, but only as a friend. He wanted to make sure you wouldn’t be upset.”

            “You told him how I felt?” Natalie sat up and stared at her sister in horror. “Nic!” You promised.”

            “Aw, come on, Nat.” Nic laughed and patted Natalie’s wet cheek. “Everyone knows you’ve had a crush on Tanner Collins for like, forever. But unfortunately, he only likes one of us.”

rem:   Hullo, Catherine, welcome to my blog. If you could live anywhere in any time period, where would you go?

CATHERINE:   I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan, so I’d probably pick that time. I’m not sure I’d be a fan of all the dressing up for every meal though. J

rem:   I know right! as I sit here in my lazy day uniform… Where did you find this story idea?

CATHERINE:   My husband and I went to Sonoma, CA to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and I fell in love with that part of the country. As we visited wineries and toured the area, I knew I really wanted to set a story there. The characters and ideas didn’t come until later.

rem:   My sis-in-law is a sommelier so bits of your story resonate with me. Who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult?

CATHERINE:   We’ll start with the most difficult, and that was Natalie. I couldn’t get a handle on her for the longest time. At first she didn’t have a twin sister, just other siblings. I think that was her problem at the beginning. Her loss wasn’t profound enough. Once I settled on her history, her character began to make more sense. The easiest was probably Tanner. I usually have less issues figuring out my male characters and I knew what his story was almost at once. Of course there are always surprises that pop up along the way during the writing stage, and there were a few in this book, but that’s what makes it so much fun!

rem:   Sometimes those deep wounds keep us hidden from those who love us best—both real life and fiction. What do you munch on while you’re writing / researching / editing?

CATHERINE:  I’m not really a muncher. I try to stick to three meals a day and not much in between but nuts, olives, yogurt and fruit are always good,

rem:   And healthy for you, too. What do you do to recover once you’ve typed “THE END?”

CATHERINE:  Ah, see now I know better. The end is never really the end. J However, finishing a first draft is definitely worth celebrating. If we can, we usually go out for dinner, or just relax at home, watch a movie. I try to let the story sit a few days before going back to it. The real celebration comes when you send back those final proofs to your editor, knowing the next time you see the story it will be in book form!

rem:   Oh, Cathy, how right you are!! No rest for the writer! And no feeling like that new book in your hands! allll-most as sweet as a new baby… wink wink

Catherine West is an award-winning author writing stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Educated in Bermuda, England and Canada, Catherine holds a degree in English from the University of Toronto. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management.
Having previously published three popular romance and women’s fiction titles, Catherine will publish her first novel through Harper Collins Christian Publishing this summer. The Things We Knew, a family drama set on Nantucket, released July 12th, 2016.
Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com

1 – The house now soothed and scared her. Bade her welcome like an old friend, but held a warning like a long forgotten journal, tattered pages filled with too much pain.

2 – Wood polish and the perfume of roses pulled back the curtain of memory again. Nothing was different. But everything had changed. (rem: love the imagery)

3 – Perhaps she could deal with things here. Perhaps she’d found a place to rest. And maybe, to heal.

4 – Sometimes Tanner wished they still did things the old-fashioned way. An hour or two of taking his frustrations out on a bunch of grapes might do wonders for his soul.

5 – Memories of a carefree life surfaced, reminded her that no matter how much she wanted to, she couldn’t go back in time. Couldn’t fix the things that were broken. Couldn’t repair the irreparable.

6 – That was all well and good for people like Laura, people who had nothing to hide. Natalie didn’t need it. Except, maybe she did. But she certainly didn’t deserve it.

7 – “I don’t know what I was thinking, coming back here. Telling myself I could save Maoilios. Thinking my father might actually listen to me for a change.”

8 – “He asked me if I wished I had died that night instead of Nicole.”

 

What happens when tragedy and hope collide?

 

Tragedy struck Natalie Mitchell when she was thirteen years old. After thirteen years living in the shadow of her twin sister, Natalie tries to navigate without that shadow—or her sister.

And thirteen years later, Natalie winds up back in Sonoma Valley where the accident happens.

 

And there’s Tanner Collins, stirring up more than just memories from those childhood summers. Tanner with his own tragedy and secrets.

 

And as the two collide, the tragedies and secrets begin to surface. Can Natalie face her guilt and leave the past behind? Can Tanner? Will they find each other in their search for truth?

 

Sparkling dialogue and vivid imagery! This was my first read by Ms. West and it won’t be my last. I enjoyed getting to know all the characters, and related to Natalie in many ways. Ms. West portrayed her struggle and pain in true-to-life scenarios, with inherent difficulties and complications. The tension between Natalie and her father. The tenderness with Tanner—and her resistance to it. I felt her trepidation as the past began to lose its grip on her, and I felt her angst as she clung tenaciously to what was familiar. I screamed at her not to run away and yet, I felt the need to escape before more damage could be done. I felt I knew Natalie, perhaps a little too well, so thoroughly did Ms. West portray her. I felt I was walking the vineyards with the, so beautifully does Ms. West take her readers there.

 

 

I received a free copy of this book, but was under no obligation to read the book or to post a review. I offer my review of my own volition, The opinions expressed in my review are my own honest thoughts and reaction to this book.

 

 

#Blogwords, Tuesday Reviews-Day, #TRD, New Release Event, The Memory of You, Catherine West

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