Life’s Equation by Frank Diadone – Excerpt, Q&A


Author Frank Daidone’s memoir Life’s Equation is introspective and vulnerable, inspires people from all walks of life to reach their full potential

Trying to make sense of your purpose in life can be an overwhelming task. But what if you were handed an impactful, potentially transformational book that was easy to read and guided you to the answer we’ve all asked ourselves: “What’s my purpose?”

Life’s Equation is an easy read with a rewarding, powerful message. Frank Daidone’s memoir provides readers with a formula to discover their true purpose through uniquely explaining and defining life’s energy and how that energy directly affects one’s actions, reactions, and fundamental existence. “I hope readers gain an understanding that while we are all unique in our own way,” said Daidone, “There really is a common energy in all of us.”

Written in the style of a memoir telling an introspective story of vulnerable, heartbreaking, humorous and very relevant life lessons, Life’s Equation invites the reader in for a personal look at the author’s unique experiences and relationships he has shared with people he’s met along the way that offered great influence in his life. Originally based on a paper titled ‘Understanding is the Energy which Constitutes Life”, Life’s Equation was written for anyone seeking inspiration, ultimate fulfillment, and individual growth.

And the message is one that has impacted many. “I’ve had people both young and old thank me in very emotional manners for writing the book and have expressed to me how much the message impacted them personally and often times helped with healing.”

Dedicated to Daidone’s late brother Anthony who lived with Cerebral Palsy until his passing at the age of 17, Daidone has dedicated a portion of book sales to support United Cerebral Palsy.

Meet Frank Daidone
Author, Speaker, and Business Leader

Daidone is a dynamic author, business leader and speaker. His heartening talks to audiences of all backgrounds and interests provide invaluable insight on his own experience to help to inspire others. His greatest passion lies within creating a strong foundation for exploring our strengths and passions. Strongly aligned with his mission to create a strong foundation for our future by helping children explore their strengths and passions through leveraging today’s workforce by bridging many gaps, he supports various nonprofits including Big Brother’s Big Sisters, Tennyson Center for Children, Nurse-Family Partnership and Colorado Technology Association. When Frank isn’t out sharing his perspective on the world, his biggest accomplishment is being a proud father to his two daughters. With them and his wife, Frank enjoys traveling and exploring, whether that’s around the world or right at home in Denver.

For more, as well as upcoming presentation dates, visit

Life’s Equation is an extension of this mission.

Frank is best known for bringing large organizations together, as well as transforming the mundane into something substantive and meaningful. After eight years with Chipotle, Frank left his private sector post to accept an appointment from Denver’s Mayor Michael Hancock. He served as Chief Information Officer for the City and county of Denver and during his governmental tenure, Frank transformed the culture of a public sector organization by running it like a cutting edge start up; empowering the people within to rise to their greatest potential.

Outside of his professional career, Frank devotes much of his time to nonprofit organizations. He has mentored a thirteen-year-old boy from the age of seven through Big Brother’s Big Sisters, supports the Tennyson Center for Children through their mission of supporting at-risk children, and serves as Chief Operations Officer for Nurse-Family Partnership to support the long-term success for first-time moms in poverty, their babies and society. He also is the Executive Chair of the education committee for Colorado Technology Association where he formed two mentorship program through Denver and Aurora Public Schools so that high school students may explore opportunities and interests as they begin their college and career search.

When Frank isn’t out sharing his perspective on the world, his biggest accomplishment is being a proud father to his two daughters. With them and his wife, Frank enjoys traveling and exploring, whether that’s around the world or right at home in Denver.

Visit to purchase Life’s Equation. $1 from each sale benefits United Cerebral Palsy.

FrankDaidoneauthor Author Frank Daidone @FrankDaidone Frank Daidone

As promised, here is an excerpt from Life’s Equation

Life’s Equation Excerpt     

Some memories from my childhood are visually and emotionally challenging and I’ve learned to control recalling them – although they will always be part of me. One memory I learned to control many years ago began when my parents went over to my grandmother’s and left Anne and me at home with Anthony. He was already in bed and I had just finished brushing my teeth when the doorbell rang. A moment later I heard loud noises coming from the living room and then I heard Anne yell, “Stop it! Get out of here!”

In fear, I ran to my parents’ room and called 911 from the phone on my mom’s bedside table. A woman instantly answered and said, “This is 911.”

“Someone broke into our house,” I said.

Anne continued yelling, “Get off me!”

I dropped the phone and looked down the hallway. I could see two guys in my house and one was holding Anne against the wall. He had one hand holding her arm and the other on her neck. Without thinking I ran towards them down the hallway and into the kitchen. They didn’t see me because they were focused on Anne, so I grabbed the metal broom from the side of the refrigerator and ran into the living room swinging the broom like a baseball bat as hard as I could at the guy holding Anne. The broom made a loud noise when it hit him in the back of the head. He let go of Anne and put his hands over his head as he ran out the door, and that’s when I realized it was Andy and one of his friends. Anne slammed the door behind them and locked it the moment it shut. A minute later red and blue lights were flashing through the front windows and my parents pulled up in front of our house.

A few months later there was a quick trial, Anne had to testify, and Andy and his friend were put on probation for a year. Anne became extremely quiet after testifying. My parents explained to me that her life and circumstances were different from the way I viewed things. To me everything was simple, but Anne’s situation was a bit more complicated and she needed some time to think. Months later she announced, “I’m in love, and I’m moving out.”

Her decision came as a shock to all of us because she was only seventeen. My parents couldn’t stop her from leaving, and I was devastated to see them powerless. I had lived with Anne my entire life, and I cherished all my time with her, especially the good times we shared. She had looked after me, protected me, comforted me, and now that was over. When she left it happened so quickly that the only thing I recall her saying to me was, “Don’t put up with crap from anyone.” She was older than me, smarter than me and just like that, she was gone.

A few months after my sister left, my dad took a job that would transfer us to the east end of Long Island. My mom and dad sat me down at the kitchen table and informed me that we were moving to a new town thirty minutes away and I’d be going to a new school. They said it would be a chance for us to start over, but what they really meant was it would be a chance for us to start healing the hole in our hearts. Even though the decision seemed sudden, I knew moving was for the best and looked forward to it. School was easy for me and I didn’t have any close friends, plus I always felt empty when I passed Anne’s room. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for my parents to know she was gone.

Our house sold in one day and thirty days later it was empty. My parents were finishing off some last minute details in the house, and I was in the backyard saying goodbye to our garden, “The Woods,” and my childhood. My dad stepped outside and could see the sadness on my face. “We’re ready to go,” he said, “and I want you to be the last one to leave this yard. We’ll be waiting in the car.” He always knew just what to say.

I was standing there staring, wondering if I’d ever see my home again, when I noticed Andy and his friend in the neighbor’s yard pulling weeds from their flower garden. I walked over to the fence where he was kneeling and said, “See you around.”


Q&A with Author Frank Daidone

For those who haven’t read it yet, can you give us a quick summary of what Life’s Equation is all about?
It’s really about asking ourselves ‘What is my purpose?” More specifically, questioning whether or not we’re on the right path. As far back as I can remember, I’ve attempted to make sense of my own purpose in life, sometimes accepting only what seemed realistic while disregarding pretty much anything else. Most of us subconsciously go through this same exercise throughout multiple stages of our lives, while others constantly surrender to the critical voice in their head, replacing the possibility and creativity with resistance and doubt.

We all have the tendency to set unfulfilling goals for ourselves, which restricts our personal potential and makes us miss valuable opportunities because of our own struggle with self-doubt.

That’s how Life’s Equation came together. I wanted to share my own stories about people I’ve met along the way who influenced me in inspiring ways while also elaborating further on some basic, but unexpected truths and life lessons that I hope, in turn, will inspire readers of the book. I hope readers will celebrate their experiences through logically discovering their true purpose, all while helping to make the world a better place in the process.

You are accomplished in so many parts of your life. What inspired you to take the plunge into authoring a book?
I’ve always had a unique, and I believe, acute perspective on reality. I also almost always apply logic to projects, challenges and truly any issue I’m dealt with, working to eliminate and/or reduce any emotional barriers that can cloud judgment and clarity. Throughout my life, I’ve had the ability to see my life and experiences both internally and externally.

In other words, while I’m experiencing situations in the moment whether mundane or extraordinary, I’m collecting the information, almost as an observer, to be able to apply it in a scientific manner to gain a clearer perspective and understanding. I began putting a pen to paper to create a formula that made sense of one’s experiences and how information gained from those experiences is constituted through exploring a common energy in all living things twenty years ago. The reflection of my life’s experiences through this process is what inspired me to be a writer.

Memoirs are such a delicate craft – it’s really a balance between personal and the
universal. Was it difficult to balance the two?
Not really, when you have the connection of the personal to the universal, clarity and balance of the two become more accessible. The process itself was transformational and certainly, there were certain roadblocks as it was almost like working in real time. Different from most people, I don’t have a problem putting myself out there, in fact, I needed to check in to make sure it wasn’t too much and wanted to keep my stories relevant and with empathy for the readers.

What do you consider to be the most essential elements of a well-written memoir?
I strongly believe that when one chooses to write such a personal exposé, it’s essential to go “all in.” In other words, if you’re not going to put everything out there from the beginning to the end, even being remotely tentative, you might want to choose another route. It’s just my personal opinion, but I believe writing in a relatable manner including honest stories, both humorous and heartbreaking is essential to a good memoir.

Each chapter provides incredible insight and an overall lesson. Do you have a favorite from the book?
That’s a hard question because I believe the lessons in all of the chapters are pertinent to the
message. However, if I were to answer the question honestly, I do have a few; Chapter four on perspective is one of the individually empowering concepts that the reader can actually have control over. I also like the final chapter on “purpose” because it incorporates imagination in order to help craft one’s future.

Your book has been impacting people across all ages and stages of their life. What’s the biggest lesson you hope they take away from reading Life’s Equation?
The feedback both verbally and through written reviews has been extraordinary. I’ve had people both young and old thank me in very emotional manners for writing the book and have expressed to me how much the message impacted them personally and often times helped with healing. I hope that the readers gain an understanding that while we are all unique in our own way, there really is a common energy in all of us. I hope that message is clarified and inspires them to want to help make the world a better place, not just for themselves, but for all.

A percentage your book sales goes toward United Cerebral Palsy. Can you tell us a bit more about how and why you got involved with the organization?
As children, alongside my family, my sister and I were both volunteers for UCP as a result of my brother having Cerebral Palsy. In dedicating my book to my brother, I felt it necessary to get involved with a related organization to help in any way I could and formed a relationship with the Director of Institutional Support and donate $1 of every book sale to UCP.

That’s truly incredible! Can you tell us a bit about your brother Anthony, and how his CP impacted your family dynamic growing up? How did it affect you?
Anthony was and still is my true hero and my inspiration for practically every charge in my life. While we never exchanged words verbally to each other we had a very special connection. His joy of life despite his extraordinary inhibiting circumstances far surpassed any level of contentment I have ever witnessed in any human being. While our family growing up was restricted to doing practically any normal family activities, outings or vacations together, Anthony’s existence enriched the dynamic in our family and shaped who we all are today.

What’s on the horizon for you as an author? Can we expect to see more writing from you in 2017 and beyond?
I am currently working on book number two as we speak. It is a continuation of Life’s Equation by taking the ideas and concepts to a new level attempting to address issues we all face as a society. I have a vision of a brighter more peaceful existence for all living things and I see a clear path on how we can get there. My next book will be a roadmap for peace.


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The Lucky One by Sylvie Stewart – Cover Reveal

When your luck runs out, do you run away—or do you stay and fight?



Let’s get one thing straight. I am not your typical girl. Sure I’ve got all the parts, but I’ve been a stubborn, irreverent tomboy since the womb, as my Irish father would proudly attest. Despite my Irish blood, I’ve had a bit of bad luck here and there—I recently trusted the wrong guy and got derailed in my professional pursuits. But I’ve bounced back. With my shields firmly in place, I thought nothing, or no one, could touch me again. Until he did. And he just might make this tomboy do the girliest thing in the world—fall head over heels in love. Of all the damn luck…


I’m a pretty lucky guy. I have a phenomenal family, a career I love, and I’m building a brand-new life back in my hometown. And, not to be a jerk about it, but I do more than all right with the ladies. Everything’s been going according to plan—like I said, I’m a lucky guy.

That was, until my luck ran out.

Until I met the girl I call “Irish.”

Irony can go kiss my a$$.

Preorder Links: $0.99
Free “Sneak Peek” of the first 2 chapters of The Lucky One on Instafreebie
Excerpt #1:

I was struck again by the thought that everyone in the world seemed to be good with kids but me. And how unfair was it that Jake Beckett was not only hot as sin and a wizard in the sack, but he was also nice to small people and fainting women?

What was I supposed to do with that?

We finally pulled into the driveway and I hopped out quickly to avoid any awkward assistance that might be offered. Seeming to need no invitation, Jake followed us inside and closed the door behind him.

I took a deep breath and firmed my back as well as my resolve.

“As you can see, we’re all fine. I appreciate your concern—and the burritos—but everything is under control. We’ll go ahead and get on with our day and you can get on with yours.” I held my hand out toward the door like some damn restaurant hostess.

“Uh-huh,” he replied and had the nerve to lean against the entryway wall and put his hands in his pockets.

What was this? Was he posing for a bachelor-of- the-month calendar?


I performed the hostess gesture yet again.

This time it received a grin.

“What?!” I demanded.

He looked me up and down. “Uh-huh.”

I became acutely aware of my attire and general appearance in that moment. I could feel the heat rising to my cheeks.

My hair was in a messy ponytail and I was dressed in athletic shorts and a men’s t-shirt. I didn’t need to look down to know there was a ketchup stain on the hem and a dinosaur riding a bicycle on the front. I have no explanation.

I urged myself to ignore Jake’s look and not even attempt to interpret it.

This moment perfectly captured the reason all Jake’s texts and calls had gone unanswered over the past three weeks.

He wasn’t texting me.

He was texting the girl from the wedding.

The girl I’d pretended to be for one night.

The girl I would never be.

The one I couldn’t afford to be.

(Copyright 2017 Sylvie Stewart)

Excerpt #2:


For the entire week leading up to the big day, I’d walked back and forth across my living room in a pair of ridiculously high heels, determined that I would not humiliate myself by falling on my face in front of everyone I knew.

I’d thought I was prepared.

I was wrong.

I felt a twinge of something when I woke up, but I brushed it aside, as there were many things to be done—the worst of which involved Fiona plucking errant hairs from my face that I insisted I needed to keep for warmth when winter came. She didn’t share my feelings.

But, as the day progressed, there was no denying what was happening to me.

I was falling victim to the oldest cliché in the book. My brother was getting married, my friends were in happy relationships, and I was single and about to turn thirty. I could almost physically feel the cloak of the proverbial Old Maid descending upon my shoulders.

And that right there was how a tall, handsome, smooth-talking guy by the name of Jake Beckett worked the second oldest cliché in the book and got laid by a bridesmaid.

(Copyright 2017 Sylvie Stewart)

Excerpt #3:

Jake finished his entire bottle in one go. I watched his throat work as he swallowed, and my knees sent an S.O.S. signal to the rest of my body. We’re going down!

“Are these ‘complicated’ things part of the reason you won’t go out with me?”

He was really going there, wasn’t he? I couldn’t seem to catch a break.

I stuttered in my response. “I-I- It’s hard to explain that.”

He studied me and then nodded, his expression turning knowing. “Question.” He moved a step closer. “Are you attracted to me?”

Ha! Like my horny text and my jumping him at the wedding hadn’t been clear enough!

Add in my skin’s propensity to mimic a pomegranate and I may as well just take out a billboard—Take me now, Jake Beckett, you sexy beast!

I felt like my entire body was about to combust. “Um,” was all I could manage.

“I’ll take that as a yes.” His lips quirked up in a cocky, lopsided smirk.


Correction: hot jerk.

(Copyright 2017 Sylvie Stewart)

Author Bio:
Sylvie Stewart’s addiction to books has been a lifelong problem. It was the cause of many scoldings when her mother discovered Sylvie army-crawling to the bookshelf after lights out. And it is the reason her husband would have a fairly solid case if he claimed “alienation of affection” and pointed a finger at her e-reader (a.k.a “The Precious”). Never-the-less, books are in Sylvie’s heart to stay, and she has transformed her love of books into a career as an author.
A recent move to North Carolina inspired Sylvie’s debut Romantic Comedy series. Carolina Connections is a collection of standalone novels based in her new hometown, and it combines her love of romance, humor, and sexy times. There is also some wine drinking incorporated in there, as this is another of Sylvie’s passions. Perhaps a future story will also involve kayaking, a new interest in Sylvie’s life. Experience has taught her that you can’t kayak and drink wine simultaneously, though, so don’t try this at home!
The Fix and The Spark are now available, and The Lucky One releases on May 11, 2017. More projects and new installments to the Carolina Connections series are in the works. That is, if Sylvie’s eight-year- old twins will stop trying to peek at her laptop while she’s writing. That might lead to some awkward parent-teacher conferences.

Love Kissed Tours

Second Thought by Kristan Higgins, Excerpt



We’d vowed to love each other ‘til death do us part…

Praise for New York Times Bestselling Author Kristan Higgins:

“Romance novels (and love, arguably) are about the journey, not the destination, and Higgins offers readers a journey filled with tears and laughter and the best kind of sighs, proving she only gets better with each book.” — The New York Times

“There is, perhaps, no author who captures the strange simplicity of romance better than Kristan Higgins.” — The Washington Post

“No other author manages to make us cry quite so achingly and laugh quite so hard.” — NPR

“Screamingly funny scenes and dialogue.” — USA TODAY

“Higgins keeps the audience flipping through pages as quickly as possible, but it is her spot-on ability to make her characters at once funny, authentic and vulnerable…that is her true genius.” — Kirkus

ON SECOND THOUGHT on sale: February 2017

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Kristan Higgins’s new novel ON SECOND THOUGHT is a moving and emotionally raw tale of two sisters struggling to rebuild their lives in the wake of heartbreak.

Thirty-nine-year-old Kate has almost given up on dreams of love and motherhood when she meets Nathan—a man who is almost too good to be true—and marries him after a whirlwind romance. But before the blush of newly wedded bliss has had a chance to wear off, Nathan dies unexpectedly in a freak accident, and a shattered Kate finds herself more alone than ever before.

Barely a bride and now suddenly a widow, Kate must reckon with survivor’s guilt and the revelation of her late husband’s secrets while confronting her own fears and hopes for the future. In the midst of Kate’s grief, her half-sister Ainsley is dealing devastation of a different variety after her boyfriend of 11 years dumps her on the night she was expecting him to propose. To make matters worse, his blog post detailing their break-up goes viral. With her perfectly-planned future of domestic harmony dashed in one fell swoop, Ainsley is forced to reevaluate her life and learn how to be alone for the first time in over a decade.

As she navigates this new terrain, Ainsley takes solace in supporting Kate through her period of mourning and finds time to exasperate her seemingly heartless boss, who, Ainsley will discover, may have a pulse after all. From the wreckage of tragedy and heartbreak, Kate and Ainsley will learn to lean on each other and discover a closeness and intimacy they haven’t previously known. Together, these two sisters will find the strength to start over and the courage to believe in second chances.

MORE PRAISE FOR KRISTAN HIGGINS “The path to love is bumpy and strewn with landmines in this surprisingly deep charmer from rom-com queen Higgins. Emotional resonance balances zany antics in a powerful story that feels completely real.” — Publishers Weekly on The Best Man

“…a spirited, truly funny, and emotionally satisfying romance you won’t want to put down. Humor and heart in one stunning package.” — Library Journal on In Your Dreams

“Higgins has a knack for sweet but not syrupy romances peppered with humor and populated with colorful characters.” — Booklist

“Kristan Higgins consistently delivers powerful characters and a love story you will remember long after the last page.” — Bookshelf

“Waiting On You has everything that Higgins’s fans expect: smoldering sexual tension, messy, hilarious family ties, and laugh-out-loud humor.” — New York Journal of Books

“This emotional journey of two sisters is filled with drama, laughter and tears and squeezes the heart. It should be on every bedside table in the country!” — #1 New York Times bestselling author Robyn Carr on If You Only Knew

“Ms. Higgins makes the reader believe in love and second chances.” — Romance Readers Connection


KRISTAN HIGGINS New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author and two-time winner of the Romance Writers of America RITA® Award, Kristan lives with her family in a small Connecticut town that boasts a wonderful library, a great agricultural fair, a really good ice-cream stand and not much else. She is the mother of two lovely kids and the wife of a brave firefighter who is also (perhaps more important) a fantastic cook. Previously a copywriter, Kristan began writing fiction when her children graced her life with simultaneous afternoon naps. Writing, she found, was infinitely more satisfying than folding laundry, and so began her first novel. Kristan holds a BA in English from the College of the Holy Cross, which means she can identify dangling participles, quote many great novels and play a mean game of Scrabble. Kristan is an award-winning baker, devoted fan of the New York Yankees and an avid reader. She and her crew spend as much time as possible at the family home on Cape Cod, where they shiver in the Atlantic, ride bikes, swat horseflies and don’t catch any fish.

ON SECOND THOUGHT On Sale: February 2017 $15.99 U.S./$18.99 CAN. ISBN-13: 978-0-373-78925-2


Link to Kristan’s website:


Nathan did meet every criteria a single woman could have—kind, steady, financially secure, interesting, intelligent, attractive. Even his divorce spoke well of him; he hadn’t been hanging around, not committing (as I had been). He had no pit in his cellar, no devices for torturing women, no collection of Nazi uniforms. I looked, believe me, making him laugh and laugh as I poked around his enormous home.

There was absolutely no reason not to marry him.


There’s always that, isn’t there?

Marriage, as nice as it might be, would throw my life into upheaval—Nathan wanted me to move to Cambry-on-Hudson, relocate my studio, sell my apartment. Of course he did. COH was his hometown, and though I hadn’t grown up there, it was where I went on holidays. It made sense. He had a gorgeous house perfectly suited to children and entertaining, with plenty of space for us both.

But still. All the adjustments, all the moving, most of the changes would be mine. Ideally, I’d take more time to ease into this. I knew I wasn’t used to being part of a couple, of joint decision-making.

Not to mention that five months wasn’t enough time to truly know each other. This would be a leap of faith that everything I believed to be true about Nathan would hold fast. If I was wrong—or if he was—we’d look like idiots.

The changes would be worth it, I believed. But it would be upheaval nonetheless, and 20 years on my own…well, it was harder to walk away from than I thought it would be. I couldn’t bring myself to sell my apartment. Instead, I rented it for a hefty amount and put my things in storage. It was December. Who wanted to schlep furniture?

If I’d been even a few years younger, I would’ve waited. There was a small, annoying voice—my mother’s—telling me that a reason not to marry him didn’t mean a good reason to marry him. That you can’t really love someone you’ve known for five months.

I confessed my concern to Paige. We were at Porto’s, our favorite bar, one of the few places in Brooklyn that predated the influx of cool people and was, therefore uber-cool, the not locally farmed, not organic, not microbrewed, not free range, deemed delightfully retro by the hipsters.

We were drinking crappy vodka tonics at a table, idly watching Daniel the Hot Firefighter flirt with three nearly identical blond girls. “Maybe I should wait,” I said. “Just see how things go.”

“I think you’re a fucking idiot,” Paige said, taking a slurp of her drink.

“No, no, tell me what you really mean,” I said. “Don’t mince words.”

“Seriously, Kate. He’s great. Marry him. Move to the ’burbs and have twins. I’m so jealous I could stab you in the throat.”

“Will you be a bridesmaid?” I asked, grinning.

“Piss off.”

She wasn’t smiling. My own smile died a quick death. “Paige,” I began.

“I don’t want to talk about it, okay? You were the last single friend I had. I’d kill for a guy like Nathan, and you sit there wondering if you should marry him. Who do you think you are?”

“Um…a person? With feelings and thoughts? Come on, Paige. I thought I could talk to you—”

“Yeah, well, don’t. Okay? You have a two-carat ring on your finger. Wear white. Register for new china and hey, how about a destination wedding to make your single friends use vacation time and spend their own money to cheer you on?”

With that, she threw down her napkin and left.

“Did you two break up?” Daniel asked, appearing at my side. “Was it over me?”

I laughed reluctantly. “No. I’m getting married. She’s…”

“A bitch?”

“No. Just feeling a little left out, maybe. I’m moving to Westchester.”

He shuddered. “Well, mazel tov, Kate. Nice knowing you.”

“I’m not dying.”

“You’re moving out of the city. Same thing. See you never.” He smiled and went back to his fan club.

I forgave Paige the bitchiness, but I knew she wouldn’t forgive me. I was getting what we both always wanted, and she was not. I understood. The little voice in my head, that tremor of warning, was snuffed out.

On New Year’s Day, Nathan and I went for dinner at a restaurant with a view of the Brooklyn Bridge. It was snowing, and we had a window table. I wore a glittery white cocktail dress and slutty red shoes, and Nathan gave me a red rose. The justice of the peace came in, and in front of a room full of strangers, with New York shimmering through the windows, I became Nathan’s wife.

One hundred and two days later, I became his widow.

Into the Firestorm by Kat Martin – Excerpt and Giveaway

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Into the Firestorm

Excerpt #3


Luke crouched down in the deep grass twenty yards from the back door of the Polo Club. Seattle summers were cool, the high today only seventy, dropping into the fifties at night. A half moon shone overhead as he stretched out on his stomach and propped himself on his elbows to watch the back door. The mercury light lit the back porch and a portion of the lot. Luke figured on staying until the place closed down before he gave up and went home.

Waiting was a big part of the job, and he was good at it. He’d been a special ops soldier. If the mission required it, sometimes you waited for hours without moving a muscle. Luke hoped Emma didn’t fall asleep. He needed eyes on the front door as well as the back.

At the sound of an engine running, he turned to see a black Cadillac Escalade drive up behind the back door. The vehicle parked in one of the employee spaces and two men got out.

Adjusting his binoculars, Luke peered through the lens to confirm one of them was Felix Riggs. It was well after midnight. He figured Riggs would drink for a while, maybe con the buxom blonde out of a piece of ass. Though he had his doubts about that.

Thinking of the blonde made him think of Emma and how close she had come to disaster. She was pretty, with her thick dark curls and big doe eyes. Lately, he hadn’t had the slightest interest in the female sex, not until he’d watched petite Emma Cassidy take on that big behemoth, Ivan Dorell. He hadn’t felt a shot of lust like that in weeks, hell, longer than that.

It took balls to go into a rough joint like the Polo Club, big brass ones to go toe-to-toe with Ivan and his thugs. She’d stood up to Badger and his biker buddies, too.

It was a crazy thing to do. She had to be forty degrees off center to do something that dangerous. Hopefully, she’d figure out that hunting riff-raff like Digby and Riggs wasn’t worth the piddling fee paid for the capture of most bail skips. And the work was hard to come by. It was the big fish that paid big money, guys like Rudy Vance.

Riggs could be the key to finding Vance. Luke fixed his binoculars on the back door of the Polo Club.


Emma’s neck felt stiff and her eyes burned as she watched the entrance to the bar. If felt like hours since Luke had left. She hoped he hadn’t gone inside without her.

She tried to stretch in the passenger seat. After brawling with half the low-lifes in Seattle, she figured by morning she’d have bruises all over her body.

She rubbed the back of her neck, rubbed her eyes and sat up a little straighter in the seat. She didn’t want to fall asleep; she had a job to do. She wanted to talk to Riggs even more than Luke did.

Emma jerked upright at the sound of the door swinging open. Luke slid in behind the wheel.

“Riggs and his buddy just pulled out,” Luke said. The powerful engine fired up and he jammed the Bronco into gear. “I’m dropping you in the lot beside your car. Get in and lock the doors, then drive the hell home.”

As the Bronco lurched toward the parking lot, Emma snapped her seatbelt. “I’m not going home. I’m going with you.”

“The hell you are.”

“The hell I’m not.”

His mouth curved an instant before his frown fell back into place. He pulled up in the front lot behind her car, reached across and unsnapped her belt, then shoved open the car door. Emma forced herself to ignore the tingle as his arm brushed her breast.

“Get out.”

“He’s in that big SUV, right?” Emma watch the red glow of taillights getting dimmer as the vehicle that had just pulled out of the lot drove off down the street. “If you don’t hurry, you’re going to lose him.”

Luke’s jaw clenched. “Goddammit!” He slammed her door, straightened behind the wheel, and jammed his foot down on the gas. The Bronco fishtailed and leaped forward. Thank God she’d snapped her belt back on or she would probably be halfway through the windshield.

“I swear, lady, you are a real pain in my ass.”




At Brodie Operations Security Service, Inc., following your instincts is company policy . . .

M. Cassidy—Luke Brodie had heard the name before, some novice bounty hunter working Seattle, catching tricky skips with more success than a newcomer should expect. But the dark curls, sparkly top, and impressive cleavage were not what Brodie had pictured.

Emma Cassidy is tough and smart and sexy as hell. She’s also popping up a step ahead of him every time he’s close to the capture he wants most . . . and there’s no room for learning on the trail of this monster.

Emma has idolized Luke Brodie, the bounty hunter who can bring anyone in. The big man in the soft shoes, with a face like a fallen angel and a reputation for breaking hearts. Watching him in action is intoxicating. But her fight with Rudy Vance is fiercely personal. If he gets too close, Brodie will find out just how ferocious she can be . . .


Luke Brodie is a bounty hunter. A fat $600,000 is the 20% bail enforcement fee he’ll collect if he brings in international criminal, Rudy Vance.

Emma Sullivan is also hunting Vance. It’s been almost a year since she arrived at her sister’s home to find the housekeeper murdered and her young niece the victim of Vance’s sick assault.

Emma is determined to find Vance and make him pay. And no one–not even the infamous Luke Brodie–is going to stop her.



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New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She is married to L.J. Martin, author of western, non-fiction, and suspense novels.

Kat has written more than sixty-five novels. Sixteen million copies of her books are in print and she has been published in twenty foreign countries, including Japan, France, Germany, Argentina, Greece, China, Russia, and Spain.

Born in Bakersfield, California, Kat currently resides in Missoula, Montana, on a small ranch in the beautiful Sapphire mountains.

Her last 12 books have hit the prestigious New York Times bestseller list. INTO THE FURY and INTO THE WHIRLWIND her most recent releases, both took top ten spots.

Visit Kat’s website at

Or look for her on Facebook at Katmartin/author.


Masquerade by Hannah Fielding – Excerpt



Love, mystery and desire under the scorching Spanish sun. A young writer becomes entangled in an illicit gypsy love affair, pulling her into a world of secrets, deception and dark desire. Summer, 1976. Luz de Rueda returns to her beloved Spain and takes a job as the biographer of a famous artist. On her first day back in Cádiz, she encounters a bewitching, passionate young gypsy, Leandro, who immediately captures her heart, even though relationships with his kind are taboo. Haunted by this forbidden love, she meets her new employer, the sophisticated Andrés de Calderón. Reserved yet darkly compelling, he is totally different to Leandro but almost the gypsy’s double. Both men stir unfamiliar and exciting feelings in Luz, although mystery and danger surround them in ways she has still to discover.

Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt,  the granddaughter of Esther Fanous, a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s.  Upon graduating with a BA in French literature from Alexandria University she travelled extensively throughout Europe and lived in Switzerland, France and England. After marrying her English husband, she settled in Kent and subsequently had little time for writing while bringing up two children, looking after dogs and horses, and running her own business renovating rundown cottages.  Hannah now divides her time between her homes in England, Ireland and the South of France. She has written four novels, Indiscretion and Masquerade (the first two titles in the Andalucían Nights Trilogy), Burning Embers, and The Echoes of Love. Hannah’s books have won various awards including, Gold Medal for romance at the Independent Publisher Book Awards (The Echoes of Love), and Gold and Silver Medals for romance at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards (Indiscretion and Masquerade). Indiscretion has also won Best Romance at the USA Best Book Awards.

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Excerpt of Masquerade

By Hannah Fielding


She found the fairground without any difficulty. The hilly route she took was hot and dusty with no merciful shade. At last, though, the road fell away and the old forge appeared in the near distance on the edge of a scrubby plain; a matter of minutes and she would be there. As she approached the site she could hear the low, continuous, rumbling murmur of the gypsy gathering, like the raging winds that thundered over the coast on stormy nights. The commotion held numerous sounds. There was the resonating clamour of speech and laughter; the whinnying of excited horses stamping their hooves and the clanking of the brass ornaments on their harnesses as they shook their beautiful manes. There was the barking of dogs and the rattling noise of their chains as they pulled on them. And now, as the camp came into view, there was the distinctive, heavy pounding of her heartbeat filling her ears.

The scene was humming with life. Under the fire of the sun a rainbow tapestry of people, beasts and inanimate objects mingled in happy, organised chaos. Mules and donkeys mingled with goats and pigs, braying, bleating and squealing as children ran around whooping and chasing each other with catapults. Men led horses round on ropes while others gesticulated on the merits of a particular beast as they huddled in groups, smoking cigarettes and grunting their approval or rejection. The chaláns, the gypsy horse dealers, with their bronzed faces and broad-brimmed felt hats presided over the buying and selling of every beast under the shade of a huge wooden shed roof. They stood in front of a bigger crowd who shouted things back at them in Caló. Men and women chatted and laughed behind stalls of food, copper pans, bright clothes and baskets. There was even a barrel-organ player, grinning toothlessly and nodding along to his music as some gypsies clapped and danced, or swigged from glasses of manzanilla. The air was a heady mix of smells: earth, sweat, dung, tobacco and strong coffee.

At first Luz was overwhelmed by it all; but as she slipped through the crowd and roamed around the stalls, feasting her eyes on this colourful and mysterious world, she began to enjoy herself.

She had almost forgotten what she had come for when she spotted him in a group of men gathered under the shed roof. He was accompanied by the lanky, tattooed youth she had seen with him on the beach. His back was to Luz and he was busy arguing with the owner of a beautiful horse, explaining his meaning with animated gestures. He was dressed in a faded olive-green vest and washed-out black Bermuda shorts, a dark scarf around his throat. Despite his slim build, his whole body was the picture of vitality and strength. When looking at him, the words ‘tall’, ‘lean’ and ‘energetic’ came to mind. Luz’s gaze lingered on his bare arms and thighs, which were evenly tanned and knotted with muscles. He had held her in those arms against his powerful chest and she had been unconscious: how infuriating! She wondered what it would be like to live the life of a wild gypsy. Luz felt herself blush as sensual, unfamiliar images invaded her mind and delicious warm sensations flooded her body. What was wrong with her? Never in her whole life had she been subjected to such unbelievable inner mayhem. It must be the heat, she thought. She had read somewhere that the sun sometimes did strange things to a person.

His friend was the first to notice her. He nudged Leandro and whispered something in his ear. Leandro turned to look over his shoulder and she felt the strength of his magnetic stare. He nodded in acknowledgement of her and smiled, then returned to his business, shaking his head at the owner of the horse: no deal. The seller said something. Leandro yawned, shrugged his shoulders and scratched his head, then his chin. Finally he laughed, shook hands with the trader and came towards Luz, pulling the beautiful animal behind him. The deal was done after all.

Buenas tardes, señorita,’ he greeted her courteously as he drew nearer. ‘Que me han traíde suerte, you’ve brought me luck,’ he declared, his glittering eyes arresting hers with an enigmatic stare. He raked long, slender fingers through his unruly shock of shiny dark hair. For the first time she had a clear view of him. He was around her own age, she guessed, though something about him seemed older somehow. Under the two-day stubble his narrow face had a golden darkness, different to the usual rougher gypsy tan, with a pronounced bone structure and regular features. It was highlighted by the deep green of his irises that watched her now between thick black eyelashes with a strange remoteness. He glanced casually behind him before returning his gaze to her. ‘You have to be doubly careful at these fairs. Some dealers can make you believe that oranges grow on cactus trees.’ His voice had a gypsy cadence to it that she did not find unattractive. This was certainly not the measured, sophisticated drawl of Andrés de Calderón.

Luz laughed, mustering up enough courage not to run away and hide. ‘I’ve been meaning to thank you for taking care of me after my fall and returning me safely home. It was very kind of you.’

‘You were hurt, what else could I do?’

She thought she glimpsed a spark of something in his eyes: frustration, anger, impatience, but then it was gone and his expression became unreadable again.

‘Still, not everyone would have been so … gallant,’ she stammered, trying to find the right word. As she said it, she thought of him delivering her directly to her bedroom and felt her face warm at the suggestion of just how gallant he had been.

As if reading her mind he looked down at her and gave a slow, mischievous smile.

‘This is true. But we gypsies can be honourable, too.’ Green eyes glittered at her with amusement as he lowered his face closer to hers and added, ‘Or did you think we were all rogues and bandits, perhaps?’

‘Of course not, I didn’t mean to …’

‘But I see you’re fully recovered,’ he interrupted, straightening up. His gaze travelled over her in a way that made her insides blaze and melt at the same time.

‘Yes, I slept well and felt fine the next morning, thank you.’

‘Your bed is very comfortable, that always helps.’ His voice was low and provocative.

Luz’s eyes widened. ‘You were …’ was all she could manage as the heat deepened in her cheeks.

He laughed. ‘Don’t look so shocked, señorita. I laid you down on your bed, that’s all. As I told you, we gypsies are honourable, though you would sorely test any man’s control, I think.’

She blinked rapidly, telling herself to concentrate. He was standing close enough for her to reach out and touch him and although she yearned to, she would never have dared. Men did not normally have this effect on her and her heart was thundering in her chest as though she had just finished a run on the beach.

‘And are all gypsies so forward?’

‘No, just me … and only with you.’ He flashed a grin and began stroking the side of his horse absentmindedly. ‘Do you often ride on the beach?’

Luz noticed the way the smooth muscles in his arm flexed as his hand moved up and down the creature. She swallowed before saying, ‘Yes, most days. I love the sea air and the exercise.’

He nodded, wicked humour still alight in his bright green eyes, which remained fixed on Luz’s. ‘Exercise is good. What other exercise do you enjoy, señorita?’ His gaze darkened and flicked down to her mouth before settling back on her eyes.

Luz felt an involuntary quiver in a strange and uncharted place deep in her belly. He was flirting outrageously and she found it intoxicating. ‘I often swim, too. Do you swim?’ she found herself saying, huskily.

An eyebrow arched. ‘Yes, of course – we are sea gypsies. I should take you swimming one day, I think we would both like it. You can race me. Though I warn you, you wouldn’t win.’

‘You think not? I was on our school swim team,’ she answered, still trying to control her breathy voice. Suddenly she realized that she hadn’t even introduced herself. ‘By the way, my name is Luz. Doña Luz de Rueda.’

‘Yes, I know.’ He lifted an eyebrow and gave a lazy, enigmatic smile. ‘So why is a girl like you alone at the horse fair, Doña Luz de Rueda?’ He pulled gently on the reins of his stallion as it snorted and tossed its head.

Luz was distracted from the fact that he already knew her name and was more concerned about how to explain her appearance there. She could not possibly admit that she had gone there solely to find him, and yet the fairground was too out of the way to pretend she had just been out for a walk.

‘I heard the fair was on at the moment and I’ve always wanted to see it for myself. Your horse is beautiful, I’m quite envious.’

He was about to answer when two young gitanas came out of nowhere, joining their little group.

‘Oh, Leandro, what have you got there?’ said one as she trailed her hand over the horse’s chestnut coat. ‘He’s a beauty!’

‘Indeed, he’s quite a find,’ Leandro agreed, his well-defined mouth breaking into a satisfied smile. He patted the creature’s flank and stared at Luz for a brief moment before looking away.

‘You’re so clever, you have a real business talent,’ the other gypsy girl told him in a sugary tone, sliding an arm around his waist possessively and cuddling up to him. Her flame-coloured hair framed a striking face and there was a boldness about her that Luz found slightly vulgar.

‘Rosa, you flatter me, as always. But yes, it’s true,’ he shrugged, grinning impishly.

Leandro obviously had a large fan club, Luz noted. Feeling distinctly de trop, she started to turn but he caught her eye. The gypsy gave her a fleeting glance as if he was pretending not to notice her but something flickered in his expression that she couldn’t interpret. Did he recognize her discomfort? Was that a glance of understanding or sudden dismissal now that he had a new female audience? Whatever he was thinking, Luz sensed that the circle now excluded her. She felt like she’d been cast aside, but was determined no one would see such emotion betrayed by her face.

A rigid smile touched her lips as she moved away, leaving the three gypsies engrossed in a lively conversation about the newly bought horse. Luz held her chin up, but knives cruelly pierced her heart. All her unrealistic dreams were crumbling into a pile of cinders. Her imagination, not normally quite so febrile, had spun a web of romantic fantasies in which she was now caught. The wretchedness that consumed her now was not the gypsy’s fault, but all of her own making, she told herself. From the very first moment she had laid eyes on Leandro, she had been wrong; in her head she had fabricated his interest and misjudged the situation all along. Now, she had only herself to blame.

The air had grown cooler. In different circumstances Luz would have enjoyed the walk back, but as it was, her thoughts weighed heavily on her, making her head hang down. She was weary and humiliated. What had possessed her to act in such a foolhardy way? she pondered miserably. Perhaps Leandro had always been out to make fun of her. Dimly, she could hear her parents’ warnings to keep away from gypsies. Only the other day her father had told her that the gitanos were fond of tricks. Why had she not taken heed of those wise words?

‘My beautiful red roses, my lovely-smelling roses, who will buy? Fair lady, gracious señorita, why are you so sad?’

Luz jumped, jerked out of her sombre thoughts. A gitana dressed all in black was accosting her at the side of the road with a bunch of blood-red roses, which she clutched tightly in her long brown fingers, despite the spiky thorns. She had come right up to Luz, her dark hawkish eyes peering inquisitively into the young woman’s face. Luz shook her head politely and tried to move on, doing her best to ignore the flower seller.

‘Let me help you, let me make things better,’ the gypsy persisted, close on Luz’s heels. ‘Believe me, I have the remedy. Today he doesn’t love you, tomorrow with this talisman he will be unable to live without you.’

‘Leave me alone, thank you. I’ve no money on me, so just go away,’ Luz told her, accelerating her step. Perhaps fate was laughing at her, too.

‘I do not want any money, fair lady,’ the gypsy said sharply as she caught the young woman’s arm, forcing her to halt, the gold and silver bracelets clinking on her arms as she did so. She then coughed slightly and ran the back of her hand over her mouth. For the first time Luz looked into the gitana’s face. She was a fine-looking woman, with large, blazing, charcoal pupils fixed keenly on the young woman’s eyes. Brass hoop earrings pushed through her blue-black curly hair, which was obviously dyed and fell well below her shoulders in thick unruly locks. Her face was heavily made-up and Luz found it difficult to guess her age, but it was clear that while she must have been a great beauty in her youth, life had not been kind. There was an ashen pallor to her complexion underneath the make-up.

Exasperated, Luz sighed. ‘So if it’s not money you’re looking for, what is it you want?’

‘I have taken a shine to you, hermosa jovencita. You remind me of the daughter I lost through sickness when she was still a blooming flower,’ she said, switching to a whimpering tone. ‘I want to help you, you seem so sad. Here, take this talisman and wear it underneath your clothes,’ she went on with urgency, as she tried to press a tiny package into the young woman’s hand.

‘What are you up to this time, Jezebel?’ croaked an old woman loudly, moving out of the shadow of a gnarled olive tree. It was Paquita.

The younger gitana turned sharply round as Paquita crossed the narrow road to join them, saying, ‘Show me what you’ve got there.’ She snatched the tiny package from the other gypsy’s hand, throwing her a contemptuous look. ‘Shame on you!’ Then turning to Luz, she gazed at her with shrewd, hooded eyes that were unusually alert and penetrating for an old woman. ‘Go on your way, beautiful lady, go on your way and beware of red roses! The rose is a dangerous flower … it does not just hold the blossom, it also has thorns.’

After both gypsies had disappeared back up the hill towards the camp, Luz hurried home in a kind of haze. To Carmela’s dismay she evaded dinner and went straight to her room. She sat for a long time on the veranda, looking out over the beautiful vista before her without seeing it, ruminating on this painful confusion that was so unfamiliar to her. The waves crashed on to the rocks in the soft light of the fading day. Something had been unleashed in her that she dearly wished she could return from whence it came. Nothing made sense and nothing gave her comfort.

That night Luz’s dreams of fire returned, all-consuming this time, and she could not walk out of the flames.


I am very busy these days with the ever-growing stack of books I need to read for reviews. But, there are so many good books out there waiting to be read that I decided to occasionally feature books without a review on my site. I have done a little research on each book featured (meaning I have read a sample) and found it worthy of being included in this new feature on my blog (worthy according to “Lucy” – meaning I would review the book if my pile were not so high.) The authors are anxiously awaiting reviews, so if you see a book that captures your fancy, please feel free to contact the author and let them know that you would like to review their book.

Indiscretion by Hannah Fielding – Spotlight



Spring, 1950. Alexandra de Falla, a half-English, half-Spanish young writer abandons her privileged but suffocating life in London and travels to Spain to be reunited with her long-estranged family. Instead of providing the sense of belonging she yearns for, the de Fallas are riven by seething emotions, and in the grip of the wild customs and traditions of Andalucía, all of which are alien to Alexandra. Among the strange characters and sultry heat of this country, she meets the man who awakens emotions she hardly knew existed. But their path is strewn with obstacles: dangerous rivals, unpredictable events, and inevitable indiscretions. What does Alexandra’s destiny hold for her in this flamboyant land of drama and all-consuming passions, where blood is ritually poured on to the sands of sun-drenched bullfighting arenas, mysterious gypsies are embroiled in magic and revenge, and beautiful dark-eyed dancers hide their secrets behind elegant lacy fans?

Hannah Fielding was born and grew up in Alexandria, Egypt,  the granddaughter of Esther Fanous, a revolutionary feminist and writer in Egypt during the early 1900s.  Upon graduating with a BA in French literature from Alexandria University she traveled extensively throughout Europe and lived in Switzerland, France, and England. After marrying her English husband, she settled in Kent and subsequently had little time for writing while bringing up two children, looking after dogs and horses, and running her own business renovating rundown cottages.  Hannah now divides her time between her homes in England, Ireland and the South of France. She has written four novels, Indiscretion and Masquerade (the first two titles in the Andalucían Nights Trilogy), Burning Embers, and The Echoes of Love. Hannah’s books have won various awards including, Gold Medal for romance at the Independent Publisher Book Awards (The Echoes of Love), and Gold and Silver Medals for romance at the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards (Indiscretion and Masquerade). Indiscretion has also won Best Romance at the USA Best Book Awards.

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Excerpt from Indiscretion

By Hannah Fielding

Suddenly she felt an arm pulling her into the crowd. She looked up, startled, to see Salvador’s face close to hers, his arm now tightly around her waist.

‘Dance the flamenco with me, Alexandra.’ It was a whisper, no more, in her ear – a command, not an invitation – and he drew her in one fluid movement hard against his length. Salvador’s eyes, shining almost cobalt blue in his tanned face, bored into hers. She could feel his heart thundering against her breast, echoing the insistent rhythm of the music and driving the drumming beat through her already electrified body.

‘What are you doing? Let me go,’ she murmured, her emerald eyes flashing in a mixture of anger and desire. Her hands pushed against his chest in a half-hearted attempt to free herself.

He jerked her waist even tighter against him, his gaze even more burning. She could feel the contours of his body in such a way that made her throat so dry she had to lick her bottom lip.

‘I said, dance the flamenco with me,’ he growled, his eyes on her mouth.

People were moving around them, skirts swirling, hands and feet clapping and stomping.

‘I can’t Salvador. I don’t know how to …’

Alexandra looked at him ablaze, though she was confused and light-headed, her pulse racing; his eyes held her mesmerised, and she caught her breath as he drew her swiftly among the dancers. He turned her in his arms, holding her against his warm strength, sweeping her away into his wild world of frenzied excitement, a world that had been waiting for her all her life.

With one arm still around her waist, he took her other hand and raised it up above their heads. ‘Yes you can. Follow me, and your instincts.’

Her instincts were telling her that nothing felt so natural and perfect than his body so close to her.

‘Look at me, niña, sólo me. This is a subtle dance, Alexandra … sensuous, passionate but strictly controlled.’ His eyes seemed to burn even brighter. ‘First, lift your arms, like an eagle …’

He stepped away from her slightly and she began to mirror his movements, her arms arched above her, head held high to one side.

Sólo me, niña.’ Salvador swooped back close to her and his hand moved down the side of her body, making her shudder as an almost angry desire flashed between them, electric and heated.

She could see the surprise and pleasure reflected on Salvador’s face when she began to move in perfect accord with him. With proud stamping steps they surrendered themselves to the mounting urgency of the rhythm and the precise evolution of the dance that were like a thin veil suspended above smouldering fires, threatening to erupt into flames at any moment. The same feeling of intoxication that had gripped Alexandra at the restaurant in Séville was now taking over her whole body as she flung herself wholeheartedly into the passionate canto hondo and canto grande, the traditional dances of Andalucia. Salvador’s dexterous long fingers spun Alexandra away from him and pulled her back, curving her arm high over her head.

From time to time, a sudden drawn-out cry of wild, pure notes filled the atmosphere, and a thrill went through Alexandra from head to toe. It was an indescribable sensation, enhanced by Salvador’s intense blue gaze that never left her face; urging her on, faster and faster. She was acutely aware of his nearness, of his superb physique, of his magnetism. From time to time, his eyes flickered with an odd expression – it was as much arrogance as desire, this innate part of his proud people, which Salvador personified more than ever when he danced, and which seemed all at once to add to his powerful allure.

And then his expression changed. One minute, he was spinning her round; the next, he held her to him for a moment, searching her face, as if struggling to say something. Then he was gone, swift and silent, swallowed up by the crowd of shouting, stamping dancers around them.

Alexandra stared ahead of her, disorientated. What had happened? She thought about going after him but at that moment was caught by the arm.

‘I lost you in the dancing, Doña Alexandra. Where did you get to?’ It was Don Felipe. He was studying her face keenly with a look of concern. His hand still gripped her arm firmly. Something that made her uncomfortable gleamed in his eyes, making her want to pull away, and then it vanished. He released his grip and stepped back.

‘I’m sorry, Don Felipe … As you say, I got lost in the dancing,’ Alexandra managed to stammer, still breathless from her unexpected sensual interlude with Salvador.

‘Flamenco can have an overpowering effect on the uninitiated.’ He regarded her pensively.

She added hurriedly, ‘Shall we watch the rest of show? I’m rather hot now and could do with a rest.’

His attentive warmth returned. ‘Of course, Doña Alexandra. You must get your breath back. We cannot have Aphrodite wilting before the evening is through.’

She flashed what she hoped was a winning smile and let Don Felipe guide her back to the front of the audience.

Soon, amongst the jubilant shouts and stamping of the crowd, a third dancer stirred herself languidly from the shadows. Suddenly springing into life, she took up her position in the centre of the dancefloor. She looked noble, proud and insolent as she strutted around the stage, just like an exotic bird showing off its plumage. The cascading flounces of her dress moulded the shapely line of her body to perfection and emphasised the curving flow of the dance. Every muscle of her young limbs throbbed, vibrating to the hypnotic magnetism of the rhythm. She kept her eyes closed, and in the wan moonlight, her skin, usually a golden copper, seemed to have turned the colour of alabaster. Her movements were composed of sudden transitions, of spasmodic and syncopated gestures. Now and then, she would punctuate them with a long, plaintive cry that cut in piercingly and then continued in a yet more poignant tone.

The dancer’s face was not yet in full view, but Alexandra had already guessed that she was the gypsy, Marujita. Instinctively, she looked for Salvador again, but he was still nowhere to be seen.

‘Is anything the matter?’ enquired Don Felipe, sensing the sudden change that had come over her.

‘No, not at all.’ She was trying to relax and concentrate on the show, but the spell was broken. Her head was spinning in confusion. She didn’t know what to think any more. Preoccupied with the predatory Marquesa, she had forgotten the equally threatening presence of the gypsy girl in this complicated situation with Salvador. Right now she felt drained, and suddenly wanted to go home.

Marujita ended her dance to the enthusiastic cheers of the audience, and, with great relief, Alexandra saw Ramón reappear.

‘Wonderful party, eh mi permita?’ From the twinkle in his eye as he grinned at a couple of young women, who were giggling and waving goodbye, Alexandra could see that Ramón had clearly enjoyed his evening.

After they had thanked their hosts and bid them goodnight, Don Felipe accompanied his guests to their car.

‘Will I have the honour of seeing you again?’ he asked as he folded Alexandra’s hands in his, scanning her face intently through his thick lashes.

She turned to her cousin. ‘I think we’re returning to Jerez tomorrow, are we not, Ramón?’ she said quickly. Where the intensity of the torero’s attentions had enchanted her before, now it made her uneasy. She suddenly felt pressured.

‘Yes, we leave tomorrow at first light.’

‘Then may I call on you at El Pavón, one day next week? Perhaps you’d be interested in visiting our bodegas.’ She ignored his insistence and simply smiled demurely as he put her hand to his lips. ‘Thank you for this marvellous evening, beautiful goddess,’ Don Felipe whispered, helping her into the car and shutting the door after her. ‘I look forward to seeing you soon,’ he called out as they drove off.



I am very busy these days with the ever-growing stack of books I need to read for reviews. But, there are so many good books out there waiting to be read that I decided to occasionally feature books without a review on my site. I have done a little research on each book featured (meaning I have read a sample) and found it worthy of being included in this new feature on my blog (worthy according to “Lucy” – meaning I would review the book if my pile were not so high.) The authors are anxiously awaiting reviews, so if you see a book that captures your fancy, please feel free to contact the author and let them know that you would like to review their book.