Reflections of a Successful Wallflower; Lessons in Business, Lessons in Life by Andrea Michaels – Review

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower can only be compared to reading the diaries of Andrea Michaels, considered to be the backbone of the special events industry. This multiple award-winning business woman shares openly and candidly, not only the public wunderkind but the inner woman. Discover the workings of one of the foremost event producers in the world. You’ll laugh; you’ll cry; you’ll be in disbelief and fascinated at the same time. Andrea is a storyteller, and her stories and her life are great lessons for everyone.

Purchase on Amazon

About the Author


President of Extraordinary Events

Winner of 39 Special Events magazine Gala Awards, Andrea was honored as the“Pillar of the Industry” during The Special Event Gala in 2014. This unique one-time-only achievement award, on the heels of the 25th Anniversary of Extraordinary Events, recognized Andrea for a lifetime of elevating the quality, integrity, creativity and impact of the events industry, as well as spearheading its international outreach. Andrea is also the first inductee into the Special Event Industry Hall of Fame and the recipient of the coveted Special Event Award of Excellence and a Lifetime Achievement Award. Additionally, she has won the M.P.I. Global Paragon Award and a SITE Crystal Award, among many other such honors. Andrea has planned and produced events since 1973, expanding from local Los Angeles based events to a dominant international presence.

How does Andrea stay ahead of the competition and consistently exceed her clients’ expectations? She listens. To her clients. To her vendors. To the industry. Then she integrates that very precise information in order to achieve her clients’ individual goals through creative marketing and integrated special events. What does this mean and how does it benefit you? It means that Andrea will promise that your needs are understood, your goals are met, and your budget is respected. All achieved through listening.

Andrea thinks of each event like a play…with an overture, acts, and finale, which brings a satisfying experience to all who attend her events. She believes in intense communication through marketing strategies designed to fulfill the goals of each individual project.

Whether it’s a multi-day festival at Mall of America, the opening of G.M. Place in Vancouver, hybrid events for MINI, the holiday spectacle for Go Daddy or multi-day programs throughout Europe, Asia or Latin America, no event is too small or too large. All are given equal attention.

Andrea’s conceptualization skills, logistical savvy, and ability to produce the mega-event for thousands of guests are legendary. Each event presented to her is analyzed for its specific needs. Her ever-growing clientele is loyal, and many clients have been with her for more than 20 years. These sought-after relationships are based on proven performance and enriched with trust and ethics. She listened carefully 25 years ago. She listens now.

Andrea is now a published author. Available on Amazon as a hard-bound book or on Kindle, as well as at Barnes & Noble book stores, her book, Reflections of a Successful Wallflower; Lessons in Business, Lessons in Life, is a tell-all, in-depth glimpse into her personal and professional life and is quite a read! Other books co-authored by Andrea include: Stepping Stones to Success with Deepak Chopra and Jack Canfield; Yes You Can! Reaching your Potential While Achieving Greatness with Dr. Warren Bennis and Jim Rohn; Bushido Business – The Fine Art of the Modern Professional with Tom Hopkins, Brian Tracy and Stephen M.R. Covey; and Mastering the Art of Success with Mark Victor Hansen, Les Brown and Jack Canfield.

Follow Andrea on;

Purchase on Amazon

My Review –

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower is an extraordinary book. Andrea Michaels tells the story of her life and her life in the business with humor and candidness. You find yourself holding your breath as you read through the exploits and “almost didn’t come to fruition” stories. 

Andrea Michaels is someone who knows how to get it done and has proven this on many occasions. Before reading the book, I honestly had never heard of the author, but I was always curious about how huge events were pulled off. I found the book enlightening in both areas.

Reflections of a Successful Wallflower is both entertaining and informative and written with a sense of humor. I am giving the book five stars.

Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James – Review 5 stars


Book Details:

Book Title: Bridges of Paris by Michael Saint James
Category:  Adult Non-fiction,  280 pages
Genre: Travel Photography
Publisher: Citron Bay Press
Published: May 1, 2015
Available in: Print
Will send books: Internationally
Tour dates: April 13 to May 8, 2015
Content Rating: G

Book Description:

Bridges of Paris is a large-format coffee-table book, with over 350 original color photographs, which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you’ve experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again.

Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.

​About the author:
​Michael Saint James’ artistic pursuits include award-winning book design, film editing, and sound recording, as well as his first love, photography. Saint James is a world traveler, having visited more than 50 countries – doing everything from photographing penguins in Antarctica to trekking the Himalayas.As an educator with California teaching credentials, he has taught media production and technology arts as well as photography, art history and visual storytelling. He is an expert speaker on Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Indeed, he walked in Vincent Van Gogh’s footsteps through the Netherlands, Belgium, and France in order to immerse himself in that troubled master’s vision.The father of two grown children, Saint James once owned a café in Berkeley, California. He has bicycled from Las Vegas to Washington, D.C. and is rumored to play a mean blues harmonica.

Connect with Michael:  Website

My Review – 
Bridges of Paris is a magnificant book. It is filled with beautiful colorful photographs. Bridges have always held a fascination for me and this book has been a joy to sit and thumb through. The wonderful stories and history of the bridges added to the fascination of the book.
It was a wonderful journey to be able to view the bridges throughout the different seasons of the year and times of the day.  The layout of the book made it extremely easy to navigate as each bridge had its own section in the book according to where it was located in Paris – Palace bridges, Island Bridges, Upstream and Downstream bridges. I also enjoyed the satelite photos showing exactly where the bridge is located. I love maps and have a great courosity as to where things are located and this was a real plus for me to have this added bonus.
The photos show detail of the bridges that might otherwise go unnoticed. The photographs were of such quality and clarity that I was able to sit and study each photograph at length. By the time I completed the book, I felt that I had been to Paris.
Bridges of Paris is a beautiful book and worth everyone of five stars.
Tour Schedule:

April 13 – Readers’ Muse – review / giveaway
April 13 – Girl With Camera – review
April 13 – Library of Clean Reads – review / giveaway
April 14 – Bound 4 Escape – review / author interview / giveaway
April 14 – Seaside Book Nook – review / giveaway
April 15 – Breath of Life – review / guest post / giveaway
April 15 – Bluerose’s Heart – review / giveaway
April 16 – Bless Their Hearts Mom – review / author interview / giveaway
April 16 – 3 Partners in Shopping – review / giveaway
April 17 – Roughseaseinthemed – review / author interview
April 20 – Lavish Bookshelf – review / giveaway
April 20 – Minnesota Girl in the World – review
April 21 – My Life. One Story at a Time – review / giveaway
April 21 – Hello, my name is Alice – review / author interview
April 22 – She Treads Softly – review
April 22 – Life With Katie – review / giveaway
April 23 – Posting for Now – review / giveaway
April 23 – View From the Birdhouse – review / giveaway
April 24 – Rockin’ Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
April 24 – Working Mommy Journal – review / giveaway
April 27 – Psychotic State Book Reviews – review / guest post / giveaway
April 27 – TW Brown on zombies, Border Collies, and the Indie Writing Scene – review / author interview
April 28 – Griperang’s Bookmarks – review / guest post / giveaway
April 29 – Chic Toronto – review
April 30 – Reading Authors – review / giveaway
May 1 – The Bookish & The Romantic – review / author interview / giveaway
May 4 – Svetlana’s Reads and Views – review 
May 5 – Impressions in Ink – review
May 6 – One Frugal Girl – review / giveaway
May 7 – Words and Peace – review / giveaway
May 7 – BooksatVioletCrush – review
May 8 – Create With Joy – review

Starting Over by Stacy Finz – Media Blitz

Starting Over by Stacy Finz Book Banner

Starting Over FINAL_hi res jpg

The mountain town of Nugget, California, may be tiny, but with its breathtaking scenery, fresh air, and lovable locals, it has everything. Not to mention it’s the perfect setting for firsts—and seconds—of all kinds…

On the day of her glitzy New York City wedding, society girl Samantha Dunsbury ditches her Wall Street groom, and hops in her convertible. Her only plan is to head west. But when a pit stop lands her at a lovely Victorian inn in Nugget, she doesn’t want to leave. And when the innkeeper needs someone to fill in, Sam is thrilled to take the job—her first! For once, she’s going to do what makes her happy. She just has to figure out what happy looks like. She never expects it to look like her surly new boss…

The last thing Nate Breyer needs is a debutante dilettante mucking up his business. How his sister—and co-owner—could’ve hired Sam is beyond him. Nate’s known women like Sam before—he was engaged to one once. With no options, he’ll just have to keep his eye on her while also keeping his distance. But to his surprise it turns out Sam’s got a knack for the job, and for putting folks at ease—including Nate. As business—and pleasure—heat up their relationship, Nate finds himself ready to do anything to persuade the runaway-bride to stay permanently gone…


Starting Over is available at Amazon

Stacy FinzStacy Finz is an award-winning journalist. After more than seventeen years covering notorious serial killers, naked-tractor-driving farmers, fanatical foodies, aging rock stars and weird Western towns for the San Francisco Chronicle, she figured she finally had enough material to launch a career writing fiction. In 2012 she won the Daphne du Maurier Award for unpublished single-title mystery/suspense. She lives in Berkeley, California with her husband.

For More Information
Visit Stacy’s website.
Connect with Stacy on Facebook  and Twitter.

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 

Hero Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family

You may have noticed that I post a load of pictures on Facebook and Instagram of my two West German Shepherds, Ryka and Calypso. I adore my four-legged companions and all my friends know this. They love tagging me when they find posts about shepherds. This story was shared by a friend this morning and it touched my heart so deeply that I wanted to share it here.

Calypso (3) and Ryka (5)


Hero Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family

Hero Dog Takes Bullet to Save Family

Meet Noah, the hero German Shepherd who took a bullet to save his family.

Watch the Segment

It happened as the Martin family pulled into a strip mall outside Atlanta. The dad went into a store to buy a new dog collar for Noah. Out of nowhere, a road rage incident erupted in the parking lot. Gunfire hit the SUV.

Diondra Martin told INSIDE EDITION, “Glass was flying over my head, over their head.”

A bullet hole pierced the seat just inches from where Diondra’s son was sitting.

“When I took them out of the car and realized where the bullets were, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. They were that close!’ ” exclaimed Diondra.

A 911 caller said, “Somebody got shot. I heard around 8 gunshots outside in the parking lot.”

Then, a remarkable thing happened. In the hail of bullets the dog raced to the front seat.

Diondra explained, “His body was pushing me to stay this way.”

Diondra believes Noah was coming to sheild her and that’s when a bullet hit him in the neck.

“The bullet was coming towards me and it hit him in the neck,” she said.

That’s right! Noah took a bullet for the family.

“It was so heart breaking. I saw the hurt in his eyes,” she recalled.

You won’t believe what happened next.

The gravely injured Noah took after the gunman, as seen on surveillance video.

Dad, Kadon Martin said, “I see my wife over there screaming, and she was bloodied up.”

Kadon ran after his wounded dog and showed us how he found Noah lying on the sidewalk. Kadon explained, “I grabbed his head and I opened his mouth and tried to blow in his mouth.”

But it was too late. Noah died from the gunshot wound.

The loss is too much to bear, and Kadon tearfully stopped and had to leave the room.

Diondra said, “It’s very hard on him. He’s never cried like that before.”

But the story doesn’t end there.

Dog breeder Elizabeth Wilkerson heard the story of brave Noah on the news. She drove 750 miles from her home in Michigan to deliver a very special present to the Martins.

Wilkerson told INSIDE EDITION, “The whole situation just broke my heart.”

Meet their new dog, Kris! We were there for the big moment!

The children were overwhelmed with joy. But none more than dad, who broke down in tears, telling Wilkerson, “Thank you so much. Thank you so much.”

A happy ending to a tragic tale.

But the family will always have a special place in the hearts for Noah, who took a bullet for them.

“He saved the kids. He saved my lfie,” said Diondra.

“He was a superhero,” said Kadon.

Borrowed from –

My Favorite Second Chance, The Lake Effect Series by RUE

Have you ever wished for a second chance?
The Hutchinson sisters are out of the frying pan and into the fire—just like their mother always threatened!
Gwenn is floating in the dreamy, fragile glow of her new relationship with wealthy artist, Daniel Gregory, when a blast from her past makes a triumphant return. Sure he ran out on her over a decade ago, but can she turn her back on a war hero?
Rachel is on the brink of having everything she ever dreamed of, but that’s not how things work out for Hutchinson girls. Her rock-star girlfriend is leaving for a lengthy tour and something is afoot at the bakery. The righteous hand of her mother, Shirley, can orchestrate tribulations from halfway across town.
The sisters think they can run away from their troubles on a quick trip to the heart of Mexico, when an unexpected phone call shatters that illusion.
Filled with intriguing characters, plenty of steamy romance and lovely plots twists, MY FAVORITE SECOND CHANCE will have you flushed with anticipation, blinking back tears, laughing out loud and cheering for your favorite characters.

Buy on Amazon

Review – I’ll be reviewing this book in the near future. 

Rue graduated from Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, with a degree in Journalism. Her intimate knowledge of the Midwestern United States, the inordinate amount of time she spent in its churches’ pews and her unique parentage make her an expert on life after religion. Having moved 17 times by the time she graduated from high school Rue has seen more than her share of the Great Plains. She never stayed in one place long enough to make lasting human friends. Her best friends were all characters from her beloved books; and the love of reading led to a lifelong passion for writing.


The Wife Maker by Karey White – Review, Tour

Wife Maker (1)Blog Tour Schedule

Wife MakerThe Wife Maker by Karey White

Charlotte has spent years as the husband maker, sending every guy she dates off to enjoy marital bliss with the next girl he dates. But things have now changed, and she’s determined to use her husband-maker abilities one last time–on herself. And she finally knows exactly who she wants.

Angus has loved Charlotte since they were teenagers, but he’s tired of waiting for her to realize how good they could be. She’s broken his heart one too many times, and it’s time to move on with his life. Maybe a position halfway across the country will be just what he needs to get over her. But when Charlotte won’t let him go without a fight, Angus has to decide if he’s willing to let her in again or if she’s too late.


add to goodreads

My Review – I will be posting my review shortly. I hope you’ll check back for it. Karey is a wonderful writer and her stories are solid and good and such a joy to read. 

Karey WhiteAuthor Karey White

Karey White grew up in Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Missouri. She attended Ricks College and Brigham Young University. Her first novel, Gifted, was a Whitney Award Finalist.

She loves to travel, read, bake treats, and spend time with family and friends. She and her husband are the parents of four great children. She teaches summer creative writing courses to young people and is currently working on her next book.

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Goodreads



$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 3/22/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Excerpt – click here

Continue reading

After the Rain by Renee Carlino – Spotlight, Review

Description: the USA TODAY bestselling author of Sweet Thing and Nowhere But Here comes a deeply emotional contemporary romance about the second chances waiting beyond the shattered dreams of youth.

Under the bright arena lights of a rodeo show, young Avelina Belo falls for a handsome cowboy with a larger-than-life personality. After a whirlwind courtship, she happily moves away from her family in northern California and settles into married life with her cowboy on a seven-thousand-acre cattle ranch in Montana. One freak accident later, Avelina’s hopes for the future come to an end.

Nate Myers graduated from UCLA medical school at the top of his class, ready to follow in the footsteps of his father, a superstar cardiothoracic surgeon. Six years later, Nate’s career is being ruined by a malpractice suit. Questioning himself for the first time, he retreats to a Montana cattle ranch to visit his uncle and gain perspective. There, he meets a beautiful young woman named Avelina who teaches him more than he ever knew about matters of the heart.

Purchase on Amazon in Kindle

Renee Carlino’s first friends were the imaginary kind and even though her characters haven’t gone away, thankfully the delusions have. She admits she’s a wildly hopeless romantic and she blames 80’s movies starring Molly Ringwald for that. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two sons, and their sweet dog June. When she’s not at the beach with her boys or working on the next book, she likes to spend her time reading, going to concerts, and eating dark chocolate.

Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter | Website

My Review:

I have just begun reading After the Rain and so far I am enjoying the book. The writing is good and I hope it continues. I’ll be back as soon as I finish to update my review and rate the book.

Well…I’m back. I have finished the book. Sometimes I enjoy reading the mindless fluff that crosses my desk, but most days, I like a book that teaches me something, makes me feel something. After the Rain did just that. It took hold of my heart and held fast.

For the most part, there are two characters – one very broken from a devastating loss, barely coping with life, and one very determined person who will try his best to heal her. After the Rain is more than a love story. It is a story of life and love and loss and finding love in unexpected places. It is a story that will make laugh, make you cry, feel pain, and find healing at some point along the way.

She made no sound as she slept. I felt her pulse with mu hand and then bent to hear her steady heart. That woman must never have slept so peacefully. It was like she had fallen into a temporary death as she lay next to the trickling stream. Her body was as seemingly lifeless as the bodies I cut open on my table. No sign of life until you peer inside and see the organ pulsing. The strange things is that when you first see a beating heart, you expect to hear that rhythm that is so synonymous with it. but there’s barely a sound. Instead it’s just a motion like it has an independent existence. The heart will actually beat a few times once it is outside of the body, and even though I’m aware of the scientific reason, I wondered in that moment, holding Ava by the stream, if maybe our hearts really could be broken by shattered love or tragedy.

I’ve been that person. I loved this book and highly recommend it. Along with that, I am giving After the Rain five stars – wish there were more.

Purchase on Amazon in Kindle

My Life. One Story at a Time. is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made at Amazon through the link above. A free book may have been provided by the source in exchange for an honest review. Views expressed by authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of My Life. One Story at a Time. My opinions are my own. This provided in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 55. 


Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships by Eve Picquette (Excerpt)

Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships banner



Eve PicquetteEve Picquette has been looking for love, joy and fun all her life. Along the way she has had lots of experiences – some with more fun than others! A licensed attorney, she served as director of risk and quality management at hospital corporations in California and Arizona for thirty years. She is also a certified NLP life coach, matrix, EFT and Angel Therapy practitioner. Eve Picquette received her MSN in community mental health at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee, and her Juris Doctor from the University of California, Davis.

Author of Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys -What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries and companion Mini Meditation MP3’s, she lives in Arizona, and her present happy work is teaching and advising clients regarding having more love and joy in personal and business relationships.

For More Information

About the Book:

Title: Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries
Author: Eve Picquette
Publisher: Enchanted Eve, Inc.
Pages: 78
Genre: Self Help/Inspiration
Format: Paperback

Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships 2How many times have you read or seen something that made you want to change your life and relationships – but you didn’t know how? Introduced by two angels, Hope and Impatience, Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries answers the “how” question. Eve Picquette shows readers how to:

  • Open their hearts to love
  • Shift their lives, using 10 keys—how-to-do-it ideas created with the help of angels of inspiration—to change in real and satisfying ways.

In this lighthearted, uplifting, and beautifully illustrated gift book, each chapter opens with images of the author’s angels and quotes she believes were angel-inspired sometime in history. Readers may also download companion MP3 Mini Meditations available on They are “Dared to Shift” their thoughts and behaviors and these shifts will improve lives and relationships: • Shift 1: Always Connect to Love • Shift 2: Just Stop It, Really • Shift 3: It’s All About You • Shift 4: It’s Not About You • Shift 5: Give Up on the Past • Shift 6: Expect the Best Future • Shift 7: Appreciate Everything Now • Shift 8: Re-Choose Your Relationships • Shift 9: Handle Conflict with Grace • Shift 10: Love So it Can be Felt.

If you are ready to try these simple shifts, the results will amaze you. Every encouraging and comforting word in this beautifully illustrated self-help book will lead you to the path of peace, happiness, and fulfillment. A treasure to own, it would also serve as a thoughtful, caring, and loving gift.

For More Information

  • Open Your Heart for Happy Relationships: 10 Shift Keys – What Your Angels Have Been Trying to Tell You for Centuries is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the book trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Book Excerpt:


An extra two hours per day!

A British writer for the Daily Mail in 2011 estimated that many Britons fret more than 2.5 hours per day, and they are likely not alone. If that seems excessive, think about the time you think while driving, in the bathroom, and in the shower. Are you thinking positive thoughts of gratitude? Probably not (at least, I don’t always think thoughts of gratitude!). Perhaps you can allow yourself a few minutes of fretting and planning on productive subjects, where some planning or action may change the outcome and make you feel more secure. If you stopped worrying about the potential global disasters and things totally beyond your control, that would free up possibly two hours a day. Dr. Siegel cited a study that got my attention – Patients in a control group for a new chemotherapy drug were given nothing but saline, yet they were warned it could be chemotherapy and 30% of them lost their hair. Do not underestimate the power of your thoughts! You could be thinking about something positive, uplifting, or fun with your time. Worrying and fretting fall way down the emotional and vibrational scale, somewhere between despair and frustration. Remember—shifting to peace and gratitude will raise your vibration and attract more for which to be grateful.


Perilous Risk Regency Risks, Book Three By Natasha Blackthorne (Excerpt, 18 and older)




©Copyright Natasha Blackthorne 2014

For Adults 18 years of age or older only.

Escape into the past with intensely erotic, emotionally driven love stories. Natasha Blackthorne writes character-focused historical erotica romance featuring strong internal conflicts played out in non-traditional and unconventional situations. Her stories are most frequently about the intimate journey of the characters as they learn to open their hearts to love.

Her heroines are not perfect ladies. They are wildflowers and wallflowers who enjoy flirting with the forbidden. Whether they are bold or shy, her heroines’ strong desires and deep emotions drive the plot and drive their heroes to the point of no return.

“I haven’t been disappointed with a Natasha Blackthorne historical romance as of yet…the men, yes..they are strong and dominant, but they also support their women in everything. These men are written with strength and purpose… Thank you Natasha for helping me love historical romance once again.” ~ Salacious Reads


Excerpt from

Perilous Risk

Regency Risks, Book Three

By Natasha Blackthorne


His stare pinned her and she remained rooted to the spot like a cornered hare.

He lowered his head. She felt her eyes widening. Her heart beat harder and harder, deafening thunder in her ears.

He put his mouth to hers.

She couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t think. Couldn’t make a move.

Oh, God. Oh, God save me…

His full lips pressed hers, warm, soft, intense. She’d never known a man’s mouth to be so lushly sensual and yet so deliciously firm. From that touch, pleasure surged through her, tightening her nipples, and sending sparks of fire tingling into her belly and outward, all the way down to her toes. She couldn’t suppress the shudder that wracked her head to foot.

He lifted his head. Then he watched her, closely.

Edginess built inside her, combining with and intensifying the arousal pulsing in her blood. She licked her lips then let her breath out in a ragged sigh.

“Open to me, Rebecca.”

He’d spoken softly, oh so softly—but the steel beneath the gentleness sent shivers all over her. And not a little tingling excitement. Unable to bear the determined heat of his gaze, she stared at the bridge of his elegant straight nose. Dazed, afraid of him, yes, holy heavens yes, but far more frightened of the feelings that were rapidly leaping to life within her.

No, this couldn’t be happening. She had kept herself safe all these years since Jon. No emotionally dangerous entanglements. She was past all of this. He should be out chasing some young opera dancer tonight. She should be home, fast asleep in her chaste bed.


He put his hand to the corner of her jaw and applied slight yet steady pressure. “Open for me.”

No, no, she would stay closed. Stay safe, always safe from now on. She tried to jerk her face to the side.

He tightened his grip on her hair and held her in place.

She balled her fists and raised them to beat against his shoulders and chest. God, for all his leanness, his muscles were like iron.

Only the slightest shake of his head betrayed that he was even aware of her blows pelting him.

She opened her mouth to deny him.

He brought his mouth down on hers, cutting off her protest. He thrust into her mouth, the taste of his hot, wet tongue more fiery than the best whisky. She shook, not with fear but with anticipation for the next stroke of his tongue against hers.

It came and delicious shudders quaked through her. Another stroke and another. Ruthlessly, he gripped her head and angled it, thrusting deeper. Taking her breath. Sucking her very soul and taking everything.

She didn’t care.

Every inch of his long, lean body pressed hers. She could feel the whipcord strength of his powerful muscles. Could feel his trembling as though he were holding back his ardour. His erection throbbed against her stomach, huge and hard. Heated.

A feeling of letting go, as though a tremendous weight had suddenly lifted from her. As though she’d been waiting forever for this moment. Tenderness burst within her. Her limbs went weak. Her fists unfurled and she grasped his shoulders, learning his feel, breathing in his scent, glorying in his taste, his strength, his forcefulness.


Her Stephen.

If she could, she would simply melt into him. She clung desperately to his hard body, surrendering herself wholly.

He tore his mouth from hers.

She cried out in protest.

He swept her up into his arms then lowered her. Her backside touched the table and the rickety wooden frame groaned and creaked.

He swooped down on her then gripped her chin in his large hand, gently yet firmly holding her in place. His eyes bore into hers, predatory, determined. “Now, tell me that you don’t know me.”

Amazon US: Kindle

More Than Pancakes by Christine DePetrillo (Promotion)


Lily Hinsdale spends her California days designing extravagant hotels for Utopia Resorts. Her nights are filled with the glitz and glamour of upscale parties. Until her grandmother dies and leaves Lily property in wretched Vermont. The woods mean only one thing to Lily—nightmares. When Utopia wants the land for development, Lily is forced to travel to a place she’d rather forget.

Rick Stannard makes maple syrup and builds barns in the peace and quiet of picturesque Vermont. Noisy New York City nearly killed him a few years back, and now he lives a calm, simple life with his coyote, Poe, and his beloved book collection. It’s the only way he’s guaranteed to wake up each morning.

When Lily marches her expensive boots onto Rick’s land and proposes turning it into a mega resort, the serenity of the woods is shattered. Lily always closes a deal. Rick never intends to sell. They’ll need to compromise, or someone else will do it for them. Someone who is not afraid of the woods or the city.

Or spilling a little blood.

 (Scroll to read)
First Chapter:


“Leave it, Poe. Quit fooling


Rick Stannard wrestled his
glove away from his coyote. She was forever burying, slobbering all over, or
chewing holes in his good work gloves. Ever since he’d rescued the abandoned,
starving pup from the woods at the edge of his property, he’d been living with
the eccentricities of having an animal meant for the wild living in his cabin.
He’d trained her. Knew she wouldn’t attack him while he slept, but now and
then, her feral nature would flare up. Poe considered it playing, and most of
the time so did Rick, but today he had to insert the taps on his maple trees
and inspect the lines. The sap was about to run and that meant the Stannard
Mountain Pure Vermont Maple Syrup Company—Rick’s company—was all systems green.


“C’mon, you beast. We don’t
have all morning to waste. We’ve got work to do.” Rick gave a final tug that
freed his glove from Poe’s jaws. He stumbled back, landing on his backside on
the hickory floor of his small kitchen. “Brat.” He swiped Poe’s muzzle with his


The coyote licked his hand and happily
trotted beside Rick as he went into the garage to load his sled with the
necessary tools. Clothed in his snow pants, thermal shirt, fleece jacket, knit
hat, boots, and snowshoes, Rick was ready for a day out on his three-hundred
acre property in the woods of Danton, Vermont. He’d upgraded his equipment, all
gravity-fed lines, about three years back. The only assistance he accepted was
from his aunt, Joy Stannard, and his cousins, Hope and Sage, who ran the bakery
and book swap storefront of the business during the late winter and early
spring months. Customers needed a cozy, friendly little shop from which to
purchase their maple products. Rick didn’t do cozy or friendly, but Aunt Joy
and his cousins excelled in both areas.


Leaving the sled outside, he
pushed open the door to the storefront and let Poe scurry in first.


“Morning, Rick! I was
thinking if we arranged the tables this way, it would allow for more
interaction between customers, and if the customers interact more, this place
could become the social center of Danton. It would mean more sales, more book
swapping, more action. Sometimes this place can be such a tomb, but with the
tables like this, maybe some hot, interesting guys will come in and whisk me
away to—”


Rick held up two hands
to stop Hope from continuing her verbal assault. Too much. Too early.


“Sorry.” Hope pushed in
a chair at one of the tables she’d moved. “I forgot you aren’t a morning


“Isn’t much of an
afternoon or evening person either,” Sage, Hope’s sister, called from behind
the pastry case where she had been vacuuming the shelves.


Rick shot her a glare
to which she responded with a snarl that ended in a grin.


“What brings you
amongst the people, Grouch?” Sage gathered her long, blond hair into a ponytail
then leaned against the pastry case.


Rick pointed down to
his winter attire. “What does it look like I’m going to do?”


“Sumo wrestle with
Bigfoot?” Hope offered, making Sage chuckle.


“If you weren’t so busy
turning this place into a dating club, you’d know what’s going on.” Rick pulled
his glove off to scratch Poe between the ears as the coyote pushed her muzzle
into his knee.


“I’m not turning it
into a dating club, Rick.” Hope gestured to the tables arranged in a tight
little formation that made him a little claustrophobic. “It looks better this
way, doesn’t it?”


“It looked fine the old
way.” Rick shrugged.


“How is it that you’re
only six years older than me but seem as if you’re eighty-six years
older?” Sage asked. “Change is good, old man.”


He knew Sage was only
busting his chops, but it stung a little today. He didn’t know why, which made
him feel exactly like an old man.


“I don’t care what you
do with the tables, Hope, as long as there are tables and they’re clean.” Rick
headed for the door. “Where’s Aunt Joy?” And why do I want her around?
Because Hope and Sage are picking on me? Foolish.


“She went into town to
buy some fabric. Don’t freak out, Rick.” Hope grabbed his biceps and opened her
brown eyes real wide as she stood on tiptoes in a useless attempt to look him
in the eye. “She wants to make new curtains for these windows. Now I realize
she didn’t clear it with you first, O Master of Keeping the Status Quo, but I
don’t think a curtain change will destroy the world as we know it.”


Rick growled at Hope,
and she laughed along with Sage. Even Poe let out a few short barks that
sounded like chuckling.


“Whose side are you on,
mutt?” He nudged Poe with his knee, and the coyote let out a whimper of


“You headed out now?”
Sage asked.




“Take this.” Sage placed
a thermos on top of the pastry case and slid it toward him. “Minestrone like no
other, Cuz.”


For all her poking fun,
Sage took care of him just as Aunt Joy and Hope did. They were his family, all
he had. All he needed. 


“Thanks.” He took the
thermos and held it out of Poe’s reach as the coyote tried to climb up his leg
for it. “Down. No meat in this one.” He tapped her on the nose, and Poe sank to
all fours. Even if the soup did have meat in it, he wasn’t sharing. Everything
Sage made tasted like heaven. That was what made her a fantastic caterer when
it wasn’t sugaring season. She was busy cooking all times of the year. And her
cookies? Off the charts tasty.


“I’ve got some website
updates I’ve been working on.” Hope gestured to her laptop on one of the tables
she’d moved. She handled all their online sales, promotional materials, and
website. She was awesome at it too, which was good because Rick didn’t want to
handle that stuff. Lots of people didn’t want to handle that stuff, so Hope was
busy with that work in the off season.


“Okay,” Rick said.
“Make them happen. I’m sure it’s all good.”


Hope patted his cheek.
“I love that I have you trained to believe I’m always right.”


“Except when you move
my tables.”   


Hope stuck her tongue
out at him then said, “Don’t get lost out there.”


“Have I ever?” Rick
zipped the front of his fleece coat.


“No,” Sage said, “but
we can dream.” She smiled sweetly and turned on the vacuum again.


He could still hear his
cousins’ laughter as he left the store with Poe on his heels. He put on his hat
and picked up the cable attached to his sled. A day out in the tranquility of
the woods stretched before him, and he couldn’t think of a more perfect way to
spend his time. The morning sky was clear, and a fresh snow had fallen last
night making his property seem like uncharted territory, free from any
indications of civilization.


On a whistle, Rick and
Poe headed out. His snowshoes cut a trail across the blank white page of his
land, and he fell into the easy rhythm of his work. He moved at a steady pace,
covering more ground than he’d expected. The terrain was a bit hilly in this
section of the sugar bush, but he pushed onward. He chewed up some of his time
watching a moose and her calf at the edge of the still frozen Cassie’s Pond.
The cow’s ears constantly twitched as she listened for signs of danger. The
baby huddled beside her, its thick brown coat lightly dusted with snow.


When a hawk cried
overhead, the cow nudged her baby and the two wandered deeper into the woods.
Woods that weren’t a part of Rick’s property, but were tapped by him. When he’d
first started his syrup business on his land, he’d cut a deal with his neighbor
to lease and tap her trees. She received a specified amount of money per tap
for the intrusion, which she didn’t seem to mind, and Rick always supplied her
with free syrup every year. She was a great neighbor. Not around much and as
respectful of his privacy as he was of hers. A marvelous business arrangement
if such a concept existed. Someday Rick hoped to own her land when she was
ready to sell it and double his empire without having to go all big city and


He continued inserting
spiles until the sun faded and hunger knocked on the walls of his stomach. He’d
install the taps on his neighbor’s trees tomorrow and spend tonight going
through three boxes of donated books back at his cabin for the book swap. The
bonus was he got first dibs on anything of interest in the donations, and he’d
made some good finds in the past. An early edition Kafka. A leather-bound
collection of Shakespeare plays. An autographed Jane Austen. Those finds were
now displayed on the floor to ceiling bookcases that lined three of Rick’s
living room walls.


Anticipating the buzz
he always got when surrounded by books, he pulled his sled around to head home,
but as he turned he dropped the rope attached to the sled. He was on enough of
a hill that the sled immediately slid away from him. Not wanting to have to
chase the sled and his tools all the way to the bottom, Rick ran after it in
his snowshoes.


No easy feat.


He started off all
right until the tip of his left snowshoe got caught under a fallen branch
hidden below the snow. His ankle made an unnatural grinding sound as his foot
stayed wedged in one direction and his body fell the opposite way. He let out a
howl of pain that had Poe darting over to sniff his face.


“Back, Poe.” Rick
pushed the coyote out of his space, but she circled around him, sniffing and


The hurt in his ankle
was a slow burning that got hotter as he tried to release his boot from the
snowshoe. Every movement sent ripples of fire up his entire left leg. After too
many minutes of struggling, he finally managed to unfasten the straps. His foot
spilled off the snowshoe and when it landed in the snow, he hurled a shout into
the arm of his fleece jacket. The muffled agony further agitated Poe who began
howling. A few dogs replied, and Rick suddenly felt very Stephen King.


Not a great feeling.


Knowing it would be
dark soon, he tried to stand. That went okay until he put his weight on his
left foot and crumpled right back down to the ground.


Dammit. I don’t need this now.


He grumbled under his
breath as Poe ran a little ahead of their position and then galloped back to
him. When she came close enough to sniff him again, he grabbed her. Pointing
her toward the sled resting at the bottom of the hill, he said, “Go get it. Get
it, Poe.”


Poe barked once and
shot down the hill toward the sled. She dug in the snow a bit and touched her
nose to the ground. When she raised her head, the rope was in her teeth. She
bounded back up the hill with the sled gliding along behind her, and Rick
cursed over his stupidity.


What good is having a coyote if I don’t know how to use her?


Poe continued past him
with the sled until it rested on level land. The coyote stood by the sled and
barked at him as if to say, “C’mon. Let’s go.”


“Would love to, Poe.”
As much as he didn’t want to, Rick untied his boot and slid it off with a few
grunts of pain. He removed his thermal sock and glanced at the instant swelling
in his ankle. That was the last thing he saw.


When he opened his eyes
again, the snow-covered canopy of trees had been replaced by the
tongue-and-groove pine ceiling of his living room. He was still in the jeans
he’d worn during the day and his thermal shirt, but a flannel blanket had been
thrown over him. Good thing too, because he was freezing.


And maybe a little
dizzy. Definitely tired as all hell.


“You awake, sugar?”
Aunt Joy came in from the kitchen.


He attempted to sit up,
but found he didn’t have the strength.


“Easy, Rick. Take it
slow.” Aunt Joy stood over him with a smile on her face he knew was forced.


“How’d I get back


“When nine o’clock
rolled around and we didn’t see this face,” she bent to pat his cheek, “we knew
something not good had happened.”


Aunt Joy helped him
wiggle up to a sitting position on the couch, and a plastic air cast spanning
up to his calf stared back at him from the armrest on the other end. Rick let
out a groan and flopped his head onto the back of the couch.


“Yeah, it’s severely
sprained. Doctor Reslin made a special house call so we didn’t have to take you
to the h-o-s-p-i-t-a-l.” Aunt Joy whispered the letters, and despite his
situation, Rick appreciated the woman’s tenderness. She knew better than
anybody how much he hated hospitals.


“The police found you
in the snow, one shoe on, one shoe off, and out cold in more ways than one.”
Aunt Joy sat on the edge of the old chest Rick used as a coffee table and
rested her chin in her hands. “Gave an old lady a good scare, sugar. I don’t
like when you do that.”


He pulled his gaze from
the cast and looked at Aunt Joy’s face. Her brown eyes were watery, her nose a
little red. He reached his hand over and tugged one of hers out from beneath
her chin. Giving it a squeeze, he said, “I’m sorry, Aunt Joy. I tripped. It was


“It was an accident.
Could happen to anyone.” She placed her other hand atop his. “Just glad you’re
okay. You’re a miserable hermit most of the time, but I kind of love you, you


“I love you too.”


“Of course you do.
Nobody takes better care of you than me.” Aunt Joy patted his cheek again and
stood. “Okay, here’s the scoop. Cast for a few weeks. Stay off the ankle for
the rest of this week and keep it elevated, then Doc left you a cane so you can
hobble around.”


Rick opened his mouth
to protest, but Aunt Joy waved him off. “I know. I know. ‘Aunt Joy, how am I
supposed to stay off my feet when there’s so much to do?’ Listen, kid, this is
the way the cards got dealt this hand. Roll with it.”


She made it sound like
no big deal. No big deal that he was reduced to the functioning level of an
infant during a key time for his syrup business.


“It doesn’t hurt that
much,” Rick said.


“That’s because you’ve got these in you.” Aunt Joy reached
to an end table by the couch and shook an orange bottle of prescription pills.
“Wonder drugs. Once they wear off, you’ll be writhing in pain.” She leaned in
close to his ear. “Here’s a tip, sugar. Don’t let them wear off.”













As he continued
stacking books, Poe padded to the door and woofed once at it.


“No customers today,
Poe. Not yet.” 


She barked again at the
door and as she sat by it, a soft knock echoed in the store. Rick put down the
books he had in his lap and limped to the nearest window. A Jeep he didn’t
recognize was in front of the store along with footprints in the remaining
patch of snow. The knock came again, but he couldn’t see who was at the door.
He contemplated not answering as he often did when the phone rang, but figured
it wouldn’t waste much time to explain the store wasn’t open yet.


He ambled to the door,
resting his hand on the tables as he passed by without the cane. As he neared
the door, another knock sounded.


“Okay, okay,” he said.
“I’m coming.” He cursed his slowness and hoped he’d be rid of the cast soon.
Not likely, judging by the ache, but a man could hope.


He reached the door and
pulled it open. What was standing on the other side of it made him forget his
own name.


A woman. Not much
shorter than him with reddish-blond hair that brushed her shoulders and curled
about a face meant for makeup commercials. Her skin had a wonderful glow he’d
never seen on any native Vermonter, and her eyes were blue-green jewels. Slim,
black jeans spanned down two long, shapely legs and disappeared into brown,
knee-high leather boots that belonged on a runway not on his partly muddy,
partly snowy doorstep. The rust-colored dress coat that hung to her thighs also
seemed out of place in this setting, but not out of place on her. The woman was
perfection in that coat, and the cream-colored scarf she had looped around her
neck fascinated Rick.


Poe barked and the
woman jumped. “Is that a coyote?” Her voice, soft yet assertive, matched her
delicate mouth and intense eyes, but she looked as if she were ready to run for
her vehicle.


“Yeah, but she won’t
hurt you. She’s been raised to think she’s a big hamster.” What is this
woman doing here?
Then the pieces fell into place in his mind. “You’re one
of Hope or Sage’s friends, right?” That had to be it, but he didn’t remember
ever seeing this one. He didn’t think he could forget her if he had seen her.
God, she was tall.


“No,” she said. “I
don’t know Hope or Sage. I’m looking for whoever signed this.” She pulled an envelope
out of her shoulder bag and rifled through it. While keeping a wary eye on Poe,
she handed Rick one of the documents, and he scanned it quickly.


“You’re looking for me
then.” Why did that make something in his stomach tighten?


“You’re the neighbor? You
knew Gail Hinsdale?” A section of snow slid off the roof and landed in a pile
about a foot away from the woman. She stumbled back and threw a glance all
around her, almost dropping the envelope in the process.


“Come in,” Rick said,
though he hadn’t remembered consciously deciding to invite her inside.


“Thank you.” She
knocked the mud and snow off her boots and squeezed past him into the store.
She smelled like grapefruit and coconut and sunshine. Like something far too
exotic to be here with him. “Could you…” She motioned to Poe and made a shooing
gesture with her gloved hand.


“Sure. C’mon, Poe.”
Rick smacked his thigh and shuffled toward the kitchen behind the pastry case.
He pushed open the door and guided Poe in. She whimpered on the other side when
she realized he’d locked the door.


Poor girl. Rick
felt like a big, fat meany.


“I appreciate that.
Wild animals unsettle me.” The woman pulled off her leather gloves to reveal
long, slim fingers with nails polished a deep crimson.


“She’s not wild,” Rick


“Right. Tell that to
her teeth.” The woman dropped the envelope on one of the tables and unlooped
the scarf to expose a slender neck. She turned in a tight circle to survey the
store. What was she thinking? She obviously came from a place where the stores
didn’t look like his.


“You knew Gail
Hinsdale?” She leveled her gaze on Rick, then flicked a glance down to his
ankle. “Do you want to sit down?”


“I think I’m supposed
to ask you that.” He indicated the chair across from the one he currently had a
death grip on.


She slid the chair out
and sat on it, but just on the edge, not like she meant to stay for any length
of time. This saddened Rick, because for the first time in his life, he didn’t
have the urge to get rid of company.


He eased onto the opposite
chair, and the muscles in his entire body relaxed as the pressure was taken off
his ankle. The woman noticed.


“What happened there?”
She peeked under the table.


“Snowshoeing incident.”
He shrugged, determined not to explain any further though the woman waited a
moment as if he might. “How is Gail? I haven’t seen her in a little while.”


The woman’s lips
twisted down at the corners, and Rick had this ridiculous urge to scoot over to
her side of the table and… and do something.


“Gail died.” Those
piercing blue-green eyes grew watery. “My grandmother is gone.”


“I’m so sorry,” Rick
said. “She was real generous with allowing me to tap her trees. Nearly doubled
my productivity.” He had reaped nothing but benefits from his arrangement with
Gail Hinsdale. One of the smartest, healthiest business moves he’d ever


“She left me the
property.” The woman extended her hand. “I’m Lily Hinsdale.”


Taking her hand in his
and noting how cold her fingers were, he said, “Rick Stannard.” He looked at
the envelope again. “Are you thinking of moving to the property?”


At this, Lily let out a
loud laugh. “Moving to Vermont? Are you serious? I don’t want to be here right
now, never mind live here.” She brushed her hair out of her face with a
shaky finger.


“What’s wrong with
Vermont?” Rick asked. It was the perfect place as far as he was concerned.


“Umm, everything.” Lily
stretched her magnificent legs out to the side of the table and peered down at
her boots. Cringing, she knocked her heels together letting caked mud drop to
the floor. “Vermont is no California.”










With a stop to check a
few taps, he confirmed the sap wasn’t running yet, but it would be. He could
feel it in the air. The woods were beginning to smell like the woods again
after being asleep under the snow for months. This was truly his favorite time
of the year. This in-between time, when one season surrendered to the next.
When the trees shared their natural goodness with him so he could make a living
on the land he loved.


When… an ugly cream-colored
Jeep was parked in front of his store.


“Oh, I don’t think so.”
He shuffled as fast as he could with Poe jogging along beside him.


He swung open the door
and marched in to find Aunt Joy, Hope, and Sage sitting at a table. With her.
Their laughter filled the empty store and burrowed right underneath his skin.


“What are you doing?”
he roared.


All four women jumped
in their seats, and Rick had to contain his satisfaction. He hooked the cane on
the nearest chair and limped over to them. Pointing a finger at Lily, he said,
“You. Get out. Now.”


“Rick,” Aunt Joy said.
“Where have your manners gone?”


My manners? Are
you kidding me?” He lasered a glare at Lily. “I don’t know what you think
you’re doing, but you’re not welcome here.”


“That’s it,” Sage said
to Hope. “He’s finally lost all of his social skills.”


“Shut up, Sage.”


Sage shrank back in her
seat, and Rick clamped his mouth shut. He didn’t usually snap at his cousins
like that. This… this outsider was turning him into a monster.


“Did she tell you what
she’s doing here?” He gestured to Lily. Why does she have to be wearing a
low-cut, black sweater that hugs her amazing body?
He shook his head and
looked back to Sage.


“She’s staying at
Gail’s house,” Hope said. “Gail passed away. She was Lily’s grandmother.” Hope
rested a hand on Lily’s and gave her a compassionate look.


“So maybe you could try
to act like a human, Rick,” Sage said, “and be nice to the girl who just lost
her grandmother, huh?” She shook her feathery blond hair out of her face.


“I’m not going to be
nice to her,” he said. “She’s leaving.” He slid Lily’s purse off the back of
the chair and made a move to grab her by the bicep.


“Rick, you will not lay
a hand on our guest.” Aunt Joy’s tone froze his hand just shy of Lily.


“It’s okay, Joy,” Lily


Joy? First name
basis. So nice we’re all chums here.


Rick tossed Lily’s
purse onto the table where it landed like a bag of rocks. It upended the saucer
Lily’s teacup rested on and sent the tea into her lap. She popped up from her
seat as did Aunt Joy, Hope, and Sage.


“Rick!” his aunt and
cousins said together.


He tried to feel
triumphant over the dark, wet stain on Lily’s light blue jeans, but he couldn’t
get past the way the denim molded to her thighs and tapered down her legs.
Amazingly long legs. She was so much taller than his aunt and his cousins. They
were mere dolls next to her.


“Get some towels,
Hope,” Aunt Joy said as she handed Lily some napkins in the meantime. “I’m
sorry about my nephew.” She turned to Rick. “What’s your problem? This is
Robert Hinsdale’s daughter. Robert Hinsdale, the actor. The one I adore,”
she said through clenched teeth. “I know you don’t do people very well, but
I’ve never seen you be this rude.”


“Tell them.” Rick
stared at Lily, and she swallowed as if she had trouble doing so. He’d
interrupted her game, her attempt to win over his family then dive in for the


“Tell us what?” Sage


“This is not Miss
Hinsdale’s first trip in here, is it?” He pulled another chair over and sat. He
would have loved to remain standing to appear more imposing, but his ankle was
screaming from walking so fast to the store. Plus, his foot was soaked with


“I stopped in
yesterday.” Lily took a towel from Hope and dabbed at the stain on her jeans.
“To make a deal with Mr. Stannard.”


“What kind of a deal?”
Aunt Joy sounded suspicious now. Good.


“Well, I was getting
around to telling you before the Abominable Snowman came in.” She shot Rick a
glare. “I work for Utopia Resorts and—”


“Those fancy hotels
with the themes?” Sage asked.


“So not everyone is a
recluse up here, I see.” Lily nodded at Sage. “Yes, I design those resorts.”


“Oh, my God,” Hope
said. “Sage and I have been saving a little money every year with the wild
notion of visiting one of those resorts sometime.”


“You have?” Lily and
Rick said at the same time. Lily with encouragement, Rick with disdain.


“Well, sure,” Sage
said. “They’re beautiful hotels and who wouldn’t want to escape this.”
She threw her hands out indicating everything around her. “I mean, I love it
here and all, but it is a bit monotonous.”


“And quiet,” Hope
added. “So quiet.”


“I’ve noticed the
quiet.” Lily folded the towel and placed it on the table. “California is not
like this at all.”


“No, it isn’t,” Rick
said. “And I’m not going to let you turn Vermont into another California. One
is all we need.”


“I never said I wanted
to recreate California here,” Lily said, a laughing edge to her voice that
irritated Rick. “If you’d let me finish my discussion yesterday, you would have
seen that Utopia wants to keep this resort natural, outdoorsy.”


“And get rid of my
home, my business, my woods.” Rick shook his head. “Not going to happen. I
don’t want to live next door to a fancy resort either. No one around here


“I’m sorry about your
grandmother,” Aunt Joy finally said, “but I have to agree with my nephew. This
is no place for a mega-resort.”


Finally. Someone is
making some sense.
Rick nodded at Aunt Joy, and she patted his hand.


Lily reached into her
bag and pulled out a small laptop. “Let me show you some of the designs I’ve
drawn up.”


“We’re not interested, Miss Hinsdale,” Rick said. But why
was he interested in the way her strawberry curls fell around her neck? In the
small freckle below her right eye?


Christine DePetrillo tried not being a writer. She attempted to ignore the voices in her head, but they would not stop. The only way she could achieve peace and quiet was to write the stories the voices demanded. Today, she writes tales meant to make you laugh, maybe make you sweat, and definitely make you believe in the power of love.

She lives in Rhode Island and occasionally Vermont with her husband, two cats, and a big, black German Shepherd who guards her fiercely against all evils.




TWITTER: at @cdepetrillo

–on the 4th and 14th of every month


I Remember Charlie by Godzilla Jones (1st Chapter Review)

Did you ever want to read a teacher’s diary? What do you think that waitress does after work? Can a cat be a wing man? In this satire of a hungry San Franciscan, you can read what a girl will have to do to make money in this town without having to sell her panties to inmates.

  • File Size: 715 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages

I Remember Charlie …no home, no cat, no man, but sometimes got a job

– Synopsis 1 19 2014

She’s not young.  She’s not beautiful. She’s not old. She’s not even wealthy, but she has something, something that guys like. She’s the 21st century shop girl who needs to make a buck holding down as many jobs as she can in the big city of San Francisco.  Through cosmetic sales, teaching, waitressing and office work, she faces the ubiquitousness of jealousy and competition.

In this fictional memoir of a California shop girl, she struggles to balance her conflicting relationships with her parents and siblings, all the while hoping to shake the dust from the small suburb where she lives with her parents. When both parents pass away, the resonating discourse fractures what was left of the family and a battle ignites.  Broke, lonely and lost without the presence of her best friend Sophia and her great love, Charlie the cat, she works to create a new life in a new city.

This shop girl recounts her dating stories in the urban menagerie while realizing that not all men are men. The man who she’d hoped would be “the one” has a fatal flaw. In this series of vignettes, she philosophized the loss of friendships and family, the meaning of death, the disenchantment of love, and the rebirth of old relationships. Will she ever find a partner? Are all of life’s answers found in old, classic movies? Can your bartender be your best friend? Can your cat be your wing man? Can she make a living without having to sell her worn panties to inmates?

Godzilla Jones  Hello, I’m Godzilla.  I was born and raised in San Francisco, but moved around a bit after leaving high school.  I sometimes lived with family, friends, in my car and cheap motels when I could afford such. I whittled out a life working everything from fast food, to the secretarial pool, to retail sales…anything legal to make a sawbuck. Nothing can inspire you to write like poverty.  At a time when there were no human resource protections, I was tired of being chased around the desk with no recourse.

Yes, I was done…I had scrubbed my share of toilets. I’d picked up enough donuts for the other guys in the office with my same job, I was through being the key operator for all the office machines.  With no pedigree and no money I decided to ride the explosion of on-line learning; I decided to complete my degree and earn a teaching credential. After many years of teaching, I’m semi-retired and living gypsy style.  And no, I’m not angry, I’m just a woman who no longer seeks a relationship because I became the man I sought.  In Godzilla’s world fat is the new black.

First Chapter Review:

I only read the first chapter of this book and what leaped out at me was the writing. It was an interesting beginning the way the author draws you into the story by leading you in. She begins by talking about Charlie, but you have no idea who Charlie is.

Who is Charlie? Is he a pet? A cat? A person? The author describes in such a way, the reader is left unknowing, but not for long. I’m not sure if there is a name for this particular style of writing, but the author did an excellent job at the beginning of the book.

The book is written as diary entries which gives the story a different appeal. I think that book has potential and if this type of book appeals to you, you definitely enjoy it.


Purchase on AmazonI Remember Charlie


Enhanced by Zemanta

Happy Cows – Do they really all come from California?

I just went for my morning walk, okay, late morning walk.  As much as I would like to be a morning person, I just am not; unless, you want to consider taking all of my late night, early morning hours in to count. If I had my druther, the day would begin somewhere around 10 in the morning and run until 2-3 in the morning. Now, that would be a perfect day! I somehow accomplish more in the hours between midnight and 3am than I do any other time. Anywho, getting back to my walk, the weather is cold. Not so cold that a warm jacket, hat and gloves will not take care of the bite. There is something about the crispness of the cold that makes you feel like it is a whole new start to life. Just breathing in the cold air is cleansing.

After my wonderful walk, I came in and did what every other red-bloodied American does, I turned the television on. Happy cows. Now there is a topic worth discussing. How do people know that happy cows come from California? Do they smile differently? My favorite of the Happy Cow commercials is one of the earlier ones. “Do you think cows are pretty?” I suppose it is a favorite because I consists of a few too many pounds myself and somehow find myself commiserating with this happy cow. I simply can’t help asking my husband while spinning around in front of him, “Do you think cows are pretty?”  Is it too much to ask for him to say “yes?”

I do have a couple of other favorite commercials. I could sit all day long and watch Miss Piggy get hit in the head by a 2×4. Deranged I know, but for some strange, unexplainable reason, it makes me laugh out loud. I do try to redeem myself by not laughing when impressionable children are around. The other commercial is a Windex commercial. Two birds ring the doorbell of this poor unsuspecting man who is sunning out by his pool. Meanwhile, they have closed the (you guessed it) freshly Windex’ed (made this word up) patio door and he runs straight into it. Not ONCE, but twice! And yes, I roll on the floor every single time.

Why do some commercials just hit the mark and others don’t? I guess we all have our own sense of humor. So, here’s to Happy Cows (and guess what? They don’t all come from California!)


The Look of Love, The Sullivans Book 1 by Bella Andre

Chloe Peterson is having a  bad night. A really bad night. The large bruise on her cheek can attest to that. And when her car skids off the side of a wet country road straight into a ditch, she’s convinced even the gorgeous guy who rescues her in the middle of the rain storm must be too good to be true. Or is he?
As a successful photographer who frequently travels around the world, Chase Sullivan has his pick of beautiful women, and whenever he’s home in San Francisco, one of his seven siblings is usually up for causing a little fun trouble. Chase thinks his life is great just as it is—until the night he finds Chloe and her totaled car on the side of the road in Napa Valley. Not only has he never met anyone so lovely, both inside and out, but he quickly realizes she has much bigger problems than her damaged car. Soon, he is willing to move mountains to love—and protect—her, but will she let him?
Chloe vows never to make the mistake of trusting a man again. Only, with every loving look Chase gives her—and every sinfully sweet caress—as the attraction between them sparks and sizzles, she can’t help but wonder if she’s met the only exception. And although Chase didn’t realize his life was going to change forever in an instant, amazingly, he isn’t the least bit interested in fighting that change. Instead, he’s gearing up for a different fight altogether…for Chloe’s heart.


Chase almost missed the flickering light off on the right side of the two-lane country road. In the past thirty minutes, he hadn’t passed a single car, because on a night like this, most sane Californians—who didn’t know the first thing about driving safely in inclement weather—stayed home.
Knowing better than to slam on the brakes—he wouldn’t be able to help whomever was stranded on the side of the road if he ended up stuck in the muddy ditch right next to them—Chase slowed down enough to see that there was definitely a vehicle stuck in the ditch.
He turned his brights on to see better in the pouring rain and realized there was a person walking along the edge of the road about a hundred yards up ahead. Obviously hearing his car approach, she turned to face him and he could see her long wet hair whipping around her shoulders in his headlights.
Wondering why she wasn’t just sitting in her car, dry and warm, callingTriple A and waiting for them to come save her, he pulled over to the edge of his lane and got out to try and help her. She was shivering as she watched him approach.
“Are you hurt?”
She covered her cheek with one hand, but shook her head. “No.”
He had to move closer to hear her over the sound of the water hitting the pavement in what were rapidly becoming hailstones. Even though he’d turned his headlights off, as his eyes quickly adjusted to the darkness, he was able to get a better look at her face.
Something inside of Chase’s chest clenched tight.
Despite the long, dark hair plastered to her head and chest, regardless of the fact that looking like a drowned rat wasn’t too far off the descriptive mark, her beauty stunned him.
In an instant, his photographer’s eye cataloged her features. Her mouth was a little too big, her eyes a little too wide-set on her face. She wasn’t even close to model thin, but given the way her T-shirt and jeans stuck to her skin, he could see that she wore her lush curves well. In the dark he couldn’t judge the exact color of her hair, but it looked like silk, perfectly smooth and straight where it lay over her breasts.
It wasn’t until Chase heard her say, “My car is definitely hurt, though,” that he realized he had completely lost the thread of what he’d come out here to do.
Knowing he’d been drinking her in like he was dying of thirst, he worked to recover his balance. He could already see he’d been right about her car. It didn’t take a mechanic like his brother, Zach, who owned an auto shop—more like forty, but Chase had stopped counting years ago—to see that her shitty hatchback was borderline totaled. Even if the front bumper wasn’t half smashed to pieces by the white farm fence she’d slid into, her bald tires weren’t going to get any traction on the mud. Not tonight, anyway.
If her car had been in a less precarious situation, he probably would have sent her to hang out  in her car while he took care of getting it unstuck. But one of her back tires was hanging precariously over the edge of the ditch.
He jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “Get in my car. We can wait there for a tow truck.” He was vaguely aware of his words coming out like an order, but the hail was starting to sting, damn it. Both of them needed to get out of the rain before they froze.
But the woman didn’t move. Instead, she gave him a look that said he was a complete and utter nut-job.
“I’m not getting into your car.”
Realizing just how frightening it must be for a lone woman to end up stuck and alone in the middle of a dark road, Chase took a step back from her. He had to speak loudly enough for her to hear him over the hail.
“I’m not going to attack you. I swear I won’t do anything to hurt you.”
She all but flinched at the word attack and Chase’s radar started buzzing. He’d never been a magnet for troubled women, wasn’t the kind of guy who thrived on fixing wounded birds. But living with two sisters for so many years meant he could always tell when something was up.
And something was definitely up with this woman, beyond the fact that her car was half-stuck in a muddy ditch.
Wanting to make her feel safe, he held his hands up. “I swear on my father’s grave, I’m not going to hurt you. It’s okay to get into my car.” When she didn’t immediately say no again, he pressed his advantage with, “I just want to help you.” And he did. More than it made sense to want to help a stranger. “Please,” he said. “Let me help you.”
She stared at him for a long moment, hail hammering between them, around them, onto them. Chase found himself holding his breath, waiting for her decision. It shouldn’t matter to him what she decided.
But, for some strange reason, it did.
…Excerpt from THE LOOK OF LOVE by Bella Andre ©2012.

 Bella Andre_1

Bella Andre: New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Bella Andre has always been a writer. Songs came first, and then non-fiction books, but as soon as she started writing her first romance novel, she knew she’d found her perfect career. Known for “sensual, empowered stories enveloped in heady romance” (Publishers Weekly) about sizzling alpha heroes and the strong women they’ll love forever, nearly all of her novels have appeared on Top 10 lists at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple and Kobo.
Her books have been Cosmopolitan Magazine “Red Hot Reads” twice and have been translated into nine languages. Winner of the Award of Excellence, The Washington Post has called her “One of the top digital writers in America” and she has been featured by NPR, USA Today, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. She has given the keynote speech at Book Expo America on her self-publishing success and has sold more than one million books.
If not behind her computer, you can find her reading her favorite authors, hiking, swimming or laughing. Married with two children, Bella splits her time between the Northern California wine country and a 100 year old log cabin in the Adirondacks.
My Review

What are the chances of having eight exceptionally good looking siblings in one family? And, what are the chances that they all find perfectly beautiful mates and live happily ever after? Probably next to none, but then that’s why we read fantasy. And, oh what a wonderful fantasy world Bella Andre has created for us in The Sullivan’s Series. 

There are some books you read, some you find yourself skimming through, and then there are the books you realize that you are hanging onto every word and sometimes find yourself re-reading words and forget you are reading about the character in the book. These books fall into the latter category. 

Book 1, The Book of Love, introduces the reader to Chase and Chloe. The writer begins their story with a chance meeting on a dark road in the midst of a rain storm. The instant attraction between the two lit up the night as the lightening lit up the sky.

The story was fun and entertaining and sensual with loads of loving thrown in. The book gave the reader a complete ride. It was written with playful loving characters who stole your heart (and left it racing). If Book 1 is any indication of the stories to come, it’s going to be a great series as we meet the seven Sullivan siblings. 

Technically speaking, I thought the book was very easy going and I found few errors. The book also had a complete story line that could end with the last page of the book, if that were the only one the reader chose to read. I did like the way the author set up the next sibling’s story at the end of each book, and although they do not need to be read in order, I personally would recommend that this be done. 

If you found my review helpful, please consider voting “yes” for my review on Amazon by following the link below. Thanks!!

Fall in Love with the Sullivan’s – One by one!
Click the link to the Rafflecopter to win prizes!

The Shyster’s Daughter by Paula Priamos


The Shyster’s Daughter is a wonderfully written charged memoir—utterly absorbing and packed with sharp details. Direct, evocative, emotionally honest, brave, and funny, Priamos’ voice shines.The Shyster’s Daughter is a suspenseful investigative journey, but its emotional core vibrates with Priamos’ homage to her deeply flawed and deeply loved father, and to their complicated and enduring relationship.”—Victoria Patterson, author of This Vacant Paradise and Drift

The last time my father calls is shortly before the anniversary of his disbarment to tell me he’s just cheated death. On his end, there’s background noise—a restaurant, a bar or somewhere far sleazier. Since the divorce he licks his wounds at a topless strip clubinGarden Grove called the Kat Nip.
The Shyster’s Daughter is a detective memoir of a Greek family living in Southern California in the late 1900s. The author, whose father was an attorney with clients who were often questionable characters knowing a side of him unseen by his family, looks into his death and finds more questions than answers.
Paula Priamos
Paula Priamos‘ writing has been featured in various magazines and in the anthology Naming the World: And Other Exercises for the Creative Writer. She teaches at California State University and lives in Southern California with her husband and stepsons. This is her first book.
Guest Post
     In The Shyster’s Daughter I tell two different stories.  The first one is the story about my father’s mysterious death.  The night before he died he called to tell me he’d just cheated death.  A gunman in a ski mask had approached my father’s car and threatened to blow his brains out.  Typical of my father, a big mad Greek defense lawyer, he instinctively flipped the gunman off, then drove away.  The next morning my father was found dead.  This phone call has haunted me for years and it was only recently that I was able to confront what that’s meant to me, being one of the last people he spoke to leading up to his death.
     The second story is about being raised by my father and heeding, as a teen, his blunt advice on important things such as dating.  “Never trust a guy whose car is too clean.  A sure sign he wants to keep you in it too long.” Or my philandering yet charming uncle’s words of wisdom, (he briefly lived with us and was also a defense lawyer).  “I shouldn’t be telling you this,” he said to me, “but I don’t want you getting hurt by a man like me.  Make no mistake, they’re all like me.”
     In the book I tell dual narratives, sections every couple chapters titled “What They Told Me After He Died,” which the reader can participate in figuring out what must’ve happened to my father that night.  These quotes are from family members, former clients and shady people who knew him the last years of his life after he was disbarred for embezzlement.  The other narrative is linear and gives life to my relationship with my father, the sometimes comical ways he took care of me like spiking my orange juice with ouzo when I complained in the middle of the night of a sore throat or emboldening me with words of resilience when I felt at my weakest.
     My book has been called a detective memoir with shades of L.A. hardboiled noir.  And while I am flattered at those who take the time to analyze the construct, at the heart of The Shyster’s Daughter is a daughter who loved her flawed and oftentimes very funny father and became a much stronger woman for it.
My Review:
          Having read many memoirs over the past few years, I was not especially intrigued by The Shyster’s Daughter. The story has its uniqueness, as each memoir does, but I felt the story was a little mundane at times and I found myself skimming the pages. I was also a little distracted by the grammatical errors in the book.
          Having said that, the author did a great job immersing the reader into her Greek culture, and the way the culture reflected in the behavior of her parents, grandparents, and extended family.
          The author’s family definitely had its share of shadiness and troubles and I thought the title quite appropriate for the book. I thought it admirable that the author was so candid about her father’s shady business deals, something most of us might be tempted to hide from the world. The author also showed great courage in confronting the sexual abuse as well as her own craziness in stalking her father’s girlfriend. The fine line between loyalty to self and loyalty to children was crossed many times in the author’s life and her story reflects this.
          From the book: “The final lesson he (father) would teach the daughter who stood by him after the break-up of the family is perhaps one of the most important he ever taught me. It’s not so much that he didn’t want me to completely love Jim and start our own family, but rather that I remember to fulfill my dreams and goals along the way.”
If you found my review helpful, please consider voting “yes” for my review on Amazon by following the link below. Thanks!! 
As per FTC requirements: My Life. One Story at a Time. is an advertising affiliate with Amazon. A small fee is earned when purchases are made using the above link. A free book was obtained from the source mentioned above in order to provide an honest and fair review. The views, beliefs, and opinions expressed by guest post authors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views, beliefs, or opinions of My Life. One Story at a Time. Guest Posts are offered so authors can share their writing with my audience for their enjoyment.