Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Invitation Book Tour Highlights

It's so sad to see our authors go, but in tribute we do a recap of the highlights of their blog tour with us at Pump Up Your Book.  Today we're highlighting Christina Hoffman and her Invitation Virtual Book Publicity Tour.

About the Author:
Christina Hoffman was born in London, England. She moved with her family throughout Canada and the US, and has finally put down her suitcase, for now, in San Francisco.
She believes that everyone has the right to feel both smart and sexy. We don’t have to be one or the other! She writes stories about characters who live in the real world and who, somehow, still believe in love.

She’s starting a mini-revolution. She writes sexy stories, but hasn’t lost the romance from her Romances. Enough with whips — back to lips!

She hopes you enjoy her stories and see yourself in her characters. After all, they are based on smart and sexy people, just like you.

Christina’s latest book is the contemporary romance, Invitation.

Visit her website at

About the Book:

Madison Spencer is a serious medical student, focused only on work and hiding her beauty and her once-passionate spirit behind a quiet plain-Jane facade. Since she was drugged, stripped, assaulted and photographed by a vengeful ex, she has stayed away from men and kept her heart and body safe.

But when heart-stoppingly gorgeous Dr. Liam Mason walks into her world, she knows she’s in trouble. After finding out about her devastating past, Liam offers to bring her back to life with physical passion. Madison thinks she should be repelled, but she’s intrigued and can’t turn him away. Together they explore days and nights of pleasure, and slowly develop into something more than bedmates.

Deep inside they each wonder if they’ve found their perfect match. But with Liam’s fear of being dragged down by commitment, and Madison’s fear of being hurt by another man threatening to destroy the world they’ve built together, will they each be strong enough and brave enough to risk their hearts to have it all?

Virtual Book Tour Highlights: 
Praise for Invitation:

"Invitation is a wonderful love story full of romance, passion, fun, angst, pain, fear, and self-doubt. The reader is easy drawn into Madison and Liam's story. There is an emotional pull and depth to the storyline that the reader can easily relate to and embrace. What more could a reader ask for then to have two realistic and flawed characters on an emotional journey filled with passion and drama? The romance and real life issues are cleverly interwoven throughout the story, add in some very steamy but not overly done sex scenes that will make you blush and sigh, and what you get is a thoroughly enjoyable and classic love story."

-- Jersey Girl Sizzling Book Reviews (Click here to read more) 

"Madison starts off in the book as broken when it comes to men and with Liam he is so adoringly patient she begins to look at her past from a slightly different perspective. There are a few empowering moments for Madison in the story that readers will love. Excellent read."

-- Musings From an Addicted Reader (click here to read more) 

"All in all, do I recommend this? Heck yes I recommend this! It’s a short read under 200 pages so that’s pretty amazing. Its sweet and loving dialogue will keep you engaged and smiling throughout the entire book and making you root for Liam and Madison’s romance. Of course you can always just root for Liam….. Heeheehee"

-- Doing Some Reading (click here to read more) 

"It takes talent to take everyday, normal people and create compelling characters from them. These are characters you feel like you are invested in and want to see where the future takes them."

-- My Daily Romance (click here to read more)

"This is an enjoyable read for an easy reading week. I recommend it to those who love this type of romance."

-- Booklover Sue (click here to read more) 

"I have been wanting to read this since I saw the blitz the first time.  I bought it back in May but haven’t had a spare spot on my calendar until now when I made room because it was on tour.  The blurb sucked me in when I read it and I had to grab it."

-- Not Everyone's Mama (click here to read more)

Memorable Quotes:

"This book just appeared to me one night. I wanted to show a different side of sexual intimacy. I think, with the right person it can be an extremely healing, almost spiritual experience. So, this person, Madison appeared to me. She was damaged and afraid but really, intensely lonely. She wanted to get back into life, to feel like herself  again. I had to figure out how to make that happen for her."

-- PUYB Virtual Book Club (click here to read more) 

"I knew it would have a happy ending, and I knew there needed to be a lot of physical passion and love. The story decided what it needed to be." I knew it would have a happy ending, and I knew there needed to be a lot of physical passion and love. The story decided what it needed to be."

-- As the Page Turns (click here to read more) 

"The freedom to say what I need to say. I didn’t set out to write erotic scenes in particular, but this story was about a woman who comes back to life after being really shut down. The way she does that is through physical intimacy, and then love. I couldn’t tell this story without saying exactly where she was being touched and how she was responding (and her partner, too). Once I had slapped on that 18+ warning, I felt very free to tell her story."

-- Mia Downing's Blog (click here to read more) 

Click here to visit Christina's official tour page.


PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'Murder at Eastern Columbia' Christopher Geoffrey McPherson

In more than three decades as a professional writer/journalist, Christopher Geoffrey McPherson has covered myriad subjects and interviewed thousands of people from the famous to the unknown. He brings his years of experience to each one of his novels.
Every work is different. Through reading his novels, you can visit the American home front in the 1940s, a future San Francisco wiped out by a killer earthquake, a romantic love affair in post-war Paris in the 1920s, a future planet where the major industry is making babies -- or an exciting detective series set in 1930s Los Angeles.

In his career, his work has appeared in daily newspapers, monthly magazines, extensively on radio and the occasional dalliance with television. He has written advertising copy and radio commercials -- and continues to write. 

Christopher is currently working on a series of novels that take place in 1930s Los Angeles called “The James Murray Mysteries.” Books in the series are "Murder at Eastern Columbia," “Sabotage at RKO Studio” and the newest “Abduction at Griffith Observatory.”
Other works featuring his byline include "The Babi Makers" -- a science fiction tale about a world where the most important resource is babies; "Sarah & Gerald" -- a novel about Paris in the 1920s; "Forever - and other stories" -- a collection of short stories; "The Life Line" -- the novel of the big one that levels San Francisco; "News on the Home Front" -- a novel of two friends during World War Two; and "Mama Cat" -- a book for children. Also, several short plays, a few radio plays and a boatload of radio documentaries.

For More Information

  • Visit Christopher Geoffrey McPherson’s website.
  • Connect with Christopher on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Visit Christopher blog.
  • More books by Christopher Geoffrey McPherson.
  • Contact the author.
About the Book:

Los Angeles. 1931. Your name is James Murray. You are a clerk in the Junior Boy's department at the swankest new department store in downtown. You want to be a writer, but there's a Depression on. Suddenly, you find yourself trying to solve the murder of your best friend. Will you be able to find the murderer before it's too late?

"Murder at Eastern Columbia" is two novels in one: two parallel stories, featuring two heroes, working two murders in two different versions of 1930s Los Angeles. Join James and his alter ego as they each try to solve the murder of the girl with sorrel-colored hair. Follow the twists and turns until the climactic scene atop the tallest building in all of LA: the brand new Los Angeles City Hall.

For More Information

  • Murder at Eastern Columbia is available at Amazon.
  • Pick up your copy at Barnes & Noble.
  • Download at iTunes.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Read more about the James Murray Mysteries.

Welcome to the PUYB Virtual Book Club today, Christopher!  I would love to start out the interview by having you tell us how you got started writing historical detective books. 

Christopher: With few exceptions, all of my novels and short stories have been historical fiction. When I sat down to create “Murder at Eastern Columbia,” it was going to be just another stand-alone novel about a young man who wants to be a writer and the hardboiled investigator he creates for his novel. I had previously had a policy to never write sequels or a series; but I fell in love with the main characters in this novel and it seemed like they had a few more good stories in them, so “The James Murray Mysteries” series was born. As I had created a detective character for the first novel, I ended up having a series of detective stories.

Is it the genre you have always wanted to write?  Do you have any favorite authors of that genre?

Christopher:  I read a lot of biographies and histories of the early twentieth century and really just wish I could have been alive during those wonderful, exciting, creative years. So, until a time machine is invented, I’ll just have to create my own worlds.

Your book, Murder at Eastern Columbia, sounds absolutely awesome.  How did you come up with the idea for this? 

Christopher: Thank you. I’ve been in love with historic Los Angeles since I was a kid growing up in Phoenix. We’re practically neighbors! We would always vacation there and I was just enthralled. As I got older I became fascinated by the history of movie making in Hollywood. I researched and learned more. Eventually, I decided I needed to write a novel based on historic Los Angeles. My spouse, Matt, and I took a trip there in 2009. We walked the whole of downtown, just taking in the ambiance and history. Slowly, a story started to form in my mind about a young man (like me) who wanted to be a writer (like me) and wanted to create a novel that took place in downtown Los Angeles (like me).

One of the things that sets this novel apart is that each chapter is named after a different building in downtown Los Angeles. It serves as something of a roadmap to help the reader follow James and his alter ego as they try to solve the murder.

Can you tell us more about your main character, James Murray?

Christopher: James Murray is perhaps my favorite of all the characters I’ve created over nine books. He’s young, idealistic, believes in the inherent good in all people. He gets out of college just as the Great Depression takes hold of the country. He wants to pursue his writing, but he has to work. He’s the only one in his family with a job and times are tough. He takes a job at a swank new department store in downtown Los Angeles, and is glad to have it. He makes friends with some of the movie stars of the day, and some of his coworkers. Suddenly, one of his co-workers is found dead and James is tasked with finding whodunit. Think of it as a young Mickey Rooney suddenly thrown into a James Ellroy mystery.

As I mentioned previously, it was not my intent to do a series with James, but I knew he had more adventures in him. And now, I’m enjoying exploring his life as he goes through the ups and downs of growing up.

With his first novel a success, James is hired by a movie studio to write a script based on his novel, in the second James Murray Mystery, “Sabotage at RKO Studio.” Here he discovers the politics of filmmaking, what goes on behind the scenes at the studios, and finds himself trying to figure out who’s been sabotaging films on the lot, including the upcoming studio blockbuster, “King Kong.” 

In the third novel, “Abduction at Griffith Observatory,” James is in his first adult relationship. He starts to learn how hard it is to forge a bond with another person. He gets involved in a kidnapping at the observatory which sorely tests that relationship. As James tries to solve the mystery of the kidnapping, he sees the ugly underside of people who are filled with hatred and who openly discriminate against blacks, Jews and other minorities. He begins to mature as he stands up against this discrimination.

I’m currently writing the fourth book in the series with plans for the fifth in which James continues dealing with growing up and finally (maybe) finds happiness at the end.

In a book of fiction, there’s always that pivotal point where readers just have to keep reading.  Can you tell us what yours is?

Christopher: I’d like to think it would be the first page of the book where the investigator wakes up with his hand around the handle of an ice pick jabbed into the chest of a dead girl. But, although I tried to make every chapter end as a little cliff hanger to make people curious to see what happens next, I think the “can’t turn back” moment would be in chapter eleven. Here, the investigator is having lunch with his girlfriend, the raven-haired dame whose sister was the one with the ice pick in her chest. She’s explaining how she and her sister met the man who she thinks killed her sister. It’s the beginning of the unraveling of the mystery.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?

Christopher: Well, I’d like to give them one word of caution: don’t believe everything that any character says in “Murder at Eastern Columbia” or any of the other James Murray Mysteries. There are so many pieces to the puzzle, including a handful of red herrings (clews, not real fish) that should keep them guessing. The really astute reader will start to figure out what’s going on before the big reveal. But so far, based on the reviews for the book and comments from readers, no one has figured out the real solution to the mystery until it was presented. It’s a big surprise, and I’m kinda happy about that.  I hope my new readers will enjoy going along for the ride.

Thank you for having me on your page. I enjoyed it!

The Sense of Touch Book Tour Highlights

It's so sad to see our authors go, but in tribute we do a recap of the highlights of their blog tour with us at Pump Up Your Book.  Today we're highlighting Ron Parsons and his The Sense of Touch Virtual Book Publicity Tour


About the Author:

RON PARSONS is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Storyville App, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. His debut collection of stories, THE SENSE OF TOUCH, was released by Aqueous Books in 2013. 

You can visit his website at or

About the Book:

Old friends uncomfortably reunited and lovers who cling to their distance from one another; disappearing fathers, fiercely loving grandfathers, and strangers who pass through and radically change lives…These are among the characters who populate the rugged Midwestern landscapes of the mesmerizing fiction
world of Ron Parsons. In his debut collection, THE SENSE OF TOUCH (Aqueous Books; May 1, 2013), Parsons captures people of various ages in the act of searching for meaning and connection and themselves. Firmly set in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Michigan, the lush but often brutally cold heartland of America, the eight stories explore universal themes–loneliness, betrayal, transformation, hope–in fresh, sometimes fanciful, sometimes comical, sometimes jarring, and always moving and memorable ways.

In THE SENSE OF TOUCH, readers will meet:

* Naseem Sayem, the brilliant, troubled, and mystifying young man at the center of “Hezekiah Number Three.” A native of Bangladesh abruptly transplanted to the stark white suburbs of Rapid City at age nine, Naseem never fit in and eventually moved on to study physics at MIT–where, shortly before graduation and after shocking news of his father’s infidelity and abandonment, he apparently unraveled and vanished. Three months later, he reappeared out of the blue on his stepmom’s doorstep, holding a three-legged cat. Naseem’s long search for belonging reaches its apex in a hot air balloon floating over the Crazy Horse Monument.

* Waylon Baker, wheat farmer from birth, and Evie Lund, his wife of twenty-four years and counting, even though she had chosen to live far away–in the alien world of the Twin Cities–for eight years. The odd couple at the heart of “Beginning with Minneapolis,” Waylon and Evie can’t bear to live together or to divorce because they still love each other with a passion, reignited when they find themselves deep in the dirt, in a hole Waylon dug in his wheat field to serve as Evie’s grave.

* The nameless narrator of “The Sense of Touch,” a serious, young freshman at the University of Minnesota, fleeing yet still attached to his youth in Texas, haunted both by its predatory demons and its romantic dreams. His liberation comes through an alluring muse: his fiction-writing teacher. A ravishing, wild-haired, Memphis-born African-American graduate student, Vonda speaks directly to him when she makes her dramatic pronouncements. Like, “Our masks are not worn, people. They’re grown, day by day.” And “Never trust anything, not until you can touch it. With touch, you know you know.”

The old friends in “The Black Hills,” long separated by distance and tragedy, who unexpectedly compete for the affections of a lovely, vulnerable, and married Lakota woman…the young woman who, in the midst of a Halloween blizzard, stumbles into saving an elderly piano teacher’s life and faces hard facts about her own snow-bound relationships and emotions in “As Her Heart Is Navigated”…the exceptional grandfather in “Big Blue” and the playboy reformed by someone else’s grandson in “Moonlight Bowling”…and the professor of dead languages facing the mysteries of mortality in “Be Not Afraid of the Universe”… Through Ron Parsons, they all come to life, vividly and with emotional resonance, and work their way into the minds and hearts of readers.

Virtual Book Tour Highlights: 
Praise for The Sense of Touch:

"This is a book about human nature. Each story explored people and their need to relate to others. Each story was different and well worth the read. My favorite was Big Blue, which was the shortest. I liked the memories of Adam and his grandfather. I know what losing a loved one feels like and I could relate to this story."

-- Deal Sharing Aunt (Click here to read more) 

"With a total of eight stories making up this collection Parsons’ gives us people who could be anybody and who in some way can be related to by everybody. The absurd stories are beautiful and engaging, while offering an insight into the lives and mind of others, with a touch of the unspoken, and certainly one of lasting impression."

-- Lost In a Good Book (click here to read more) 

"This is the debut for this author, and I plan on reading anything else he publishes. I love his writing style and the way he makes you “feel” for the characters."

-- I'd Rather Be At The Beach (click here to read more) 

Memorable Quotes:

"Take chances.  Less is almost always more.  The input of other writers and readers is important, but you can’t allow your own voice to become obscured.  Character has to be established in some way in the first few sentences and paragraphs.  Something has to happen and it probably ought to be a surprise. If something isn’t working in a particular story, don’t be afraid to take it out.  But save it in a different file.  You might find a home for it in another story someday.  And finally, persistence is your truest ally and procrastination your greatest foe."

-- PUYB Virtual Book Club (click here to read more) 

"The theme of “The Sense of Touch” is the importance of connecting with others and how we are inevitably changed, for better or worse, by those encounters.  The book’s epigraph is from a wonderful Wallace Stevens poem called “It Must Change,” and the cover, designed by my publisher Cynthia Reeser, depicts a butterfly, which is a symbol of transformation.  I hope that readers will put down the book with a sense of caution, reflection, hope, and appreciation for the opportunities that we have for communion with others."

-- Blogcritics (click here to read more) 

"I think the greatest challenge was in not giving up. When I first started submitting short stories to literary reviews, I received dozens upon dozens of rejections. But I stuck with it, continued to work on improving them, and eventually a few acceptances began to trickle in. My first true success was in placing “Hezekiah Number Three” with The Gettysburg Review. Once I saw that first story in print, and held the copy of the issue in my hands, I had enough encouragement to press on. It is true that nothing in the world can take the place of persistence."

-- Examiner (click here to read more) 

Click here to visit Ron's official tour page.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I Wish by E.B. Tatby

Title: I Wish
Author: E.B. Tatby
Publisher: Dream Tag
Pages: 329
Genre: YA/Fantasy
Format: Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

All her life, sixteen-year-old Kenza Atlas has heard the stories, but she never believed them. She never expected the allure of power or, worse, how far the dark shadows could cast. Genies and wishing are for fairy tales, not teenage girls, and especially not in Omaha.

But when a Moroccan jinn with undulating tattoos and mysterious black eyes whisks her 500 years back in time, she witnesses the death of her powerful ancestor and the gorgeous slave she loved. They sacrificed themselves to escape the Caliph, a tyrant named Mazin.

And now he’s after Kenza.

He’s tracked her to her present time. Now she spends her days stealing paranoid glances over her shoulder, obsessing over a slave who died hundreds of years ago, and praying her family will survive.

Book Excerpt:

For as long as I could remember, my dad would recite Moroccan legends, filled with magical jinns who could manifest anytime, anywhere . . . but I never believed his stories. I had attributed them—and all of his other tales—to a hyped up imagination, ranked right up there with fairy tales and never-going-to-happen endings. I didn’t believe that a living, breathing Prince Charming existed, or that any prince had a kiss potent enough to awaken a comatose princess, and I didn’t believe in jinns. Even if my dad’s animated retelling made beautiful and devious genies sound exotic, I preferred realism, boring as it often proved in Omaha.
That’s why I didn’t freak out when a soft breath trailed across my shoulders. But when it happened again I spun around, eyes darting around the room. Nothing was there except my bed, my desk with my embarrassingly antiquated computer, a couple of posters on my lavender walls, and the pile of dirty clothes by the closet. Still, to be safe, I pushed on my door to make sure it was locked, and then sped from window to window wiggling all the latches. Nothing looked out of place, but something felt very wrong. 
When a pungent smell permeated the room—worse than the rotten Easter eggs I’d forgotten in my playhouse when I was five—I cupped my mouth, trying my hardest not to puke. My dad had often described the putrid smell that accompanied jinns, so this had to be my vivid imagination on steroids. Not sure if the smell or my rising fear created the nausea, I stood in front of the mirror and peered into my startled, dark-brown eyes.
“Stop being ridiculous,” I whispered.
I blew out a puff of air to reassure myself that I was being silly. But when a fleeting shadow floated past the mirror, I spun around, gasping, and splayed my back against the wall. I shook my head several times, but the apparition didn’t disappear.
“Who are you?” I exclaimed.
Wordlessly, she floated toward me, her long dress rippling effortlessly, never touching the ground. I focused on the fact that she was floating. I tried to analyze it, to make sense of it, but suddenly she paused right in front of me, within reach. She wasn’t tall, but compared to me—and the fact she was floating—she had to tip her head down to look at me with her wide coal-black eyes. Her caramel-colored heart-shaped face and bow-shaped lips certainly made her look Moroccan, as I would, if I hadn’t inherited my mom’s light complexion and smattering of freckles.
“I don’t believe in jinns,” I whispered, my voice quavering. “I’m imagining this. I know I’m imagining this, so don’t even think that you’re scaring me, because you aren’t.” The spooky apparition tilted her head to one side but didn’t budge. I drew in a sharp breath, clenched my fists.
When she locked her eyes on me, I studied what appeared to be undulating henna tattoos casting lacy shadows over her skin . . . but I couldn’t tell if they were real tattoos or only an illusion. I peered harder, noticed her ringlets of black hair sway from side-to-side slowly like a mermaid’s would underwater; studied how her long sparkly dress shimmered with a million stars from the night sky, emitting tiny bursts of light all around my room. 
I raised my eyes and stared hard into her eyes, intently wishing I could burn the image—although stunning—from my mind by sheer will. I tried to call for my dad, but nothing came out. I tried to move, but my body wouldn’t cooperate. I drew another breath. “You can go now,” I said, praying I sounded brave.
She stared into my eyes, willing me to “hear” her. No words were spoken, but I heard an unfamiliar voice in my head. “It’s time,” she communicated, “I’ve come to prepare you.”
My heart beat out messages: Caution! Danger! Run! I sucked in a breath, bolted for the door, unlocked it, wrapped my hand around the knob, and gasped when it became clear that someone on the other side was trying to get in.

Palmetto Moon by Kim Boykin

Title: Palmetto Moon
Author: Kim Boykin
Publisher: Berkely Trade
Pages: 320
Genre: Southern Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

June, 1947. Charleston is poised to celebrate the biggest wedding in high-society history, the joining of two of the oldest families in the city. Except the bride is nowhere to be found…Unlike the rest of the debs she grew up with, Vada Hadley doesn’t see marrying Justin McLeod as a blessing—she sees it as a life sentence. So when she finds herself one day away from a wedding she doesn’t want, she’s left with no choice but to run away from the future her parents have so carefully planned for her.

In Round O, South Carolina, Vada finds independence in the unexpected friendships she forms at the boarding house where she stays, and a quiet yet fulfilling courtship with the local diner owner, Frank Darling. For the first time in her life, she finally feels like she’s where she’s meant to be. But when her dear friend Darby hunts her down, needing help, Vada will have to confront the life she gave up—and decide where her heart truly belongs.
Book Excerpt:

Charleston, SC
June 20, 1947
“Murrah?” Rosa Lee’s eyes go wide and she shakes her head at me like I’ve forgotten the rules, but I haven’t. Since before I was born, my parents forbade the servants to speak their native tongue in our house. Offenders were given one warning; a second offense brought immediate dismissal. I say the Gullah word again, drawing it out softly. “Why are you crying?” The hands that helped bring me into the world motion for me to lower my voice.

Rosa Lee’s husband, Desmond, told me my first word was murrah. It was what I called Rosa Lee, until Mother made me call her by name. “My own murrah.” The forbidden words bring more tears. I press my face into the soft curve of her neck and breathe in the Ivory soap Mother insists all the servants use, mingled with Rosa Lee’s own scent—vanilla and lemongrass.

She holds me at arm’s length, trembling, and I know I’ve done it again.

“You got to tell them,” she pleads. “Make them see you can’t go through with this.”

I point to the door that leads to the elegant dining room where my parents are eating their breakfast. “I have told them. Mother refuses to listen, and I’ve begged Father. He says I have to do this.” She looks away. Her body rocks, sobbing violently on the inside. “Rosa Lee, please don’t cry. I can’t bear it.” She shakes her head and swipes at the tears that stain the sleeve of her freshly pressed uniform. “I won’t do it again. I promise.”

“When you’re asleep, your heart takes over. You got no control, and it’s gonna kill you.”

She’s right. Since I graduated and moved home from college two weeks ago, I’ve been sleepwalking like I did when I was a child, but these outings don’t land me snuggled up in the servant’s quarters, between Desmond and Rosa Lee. Most of the time, I wake up and return to bed without incident, but last week Desmond found me trying to leave the house. He said I was babbling about sleeping in the bay, which might not have been so disturbing if I hadn’t been wearing five layers of heavy clothing. I knew what he thought I was trying to do to myself and told him not to worry.

Since then, Rosa Lee has insisted on sleeping on the stiff brocade chaise in my bedroom. Of course, my parents don’t know she’s there or that she’s so afraid I’ll walk to the bay or step off the balcony in my sleep, she’s tethered my ankle to the bedpost with three yards of satin rope she begged from Mrs. O’Doul.

“Maybe it will be different after the wedding.” I love her enough to lie to her. “Father says I’m a Hadley and once it’s over with, I’ll fall in line the way I was born to.”

“But what if Desmond hadn’t caught you?” She threads her fingers in mine and kisses the back of my hand. A part of me wishes her intuition hadn’t sent Desmond to check on me, that he hadn’t found me. “And what are you gonna do when we’re not there?”

“Don’t say that.” My knees buckle, and I melt into a puddle at her feet. Justin has made it clear he’s happy with his staff and has no plans to add “two ancient servants.” But living under his roof and not having Rosa Lee and Desmond with me is unthinkable, another high price of being the last Hadley descendant.

“You think it’s not going to get worse after you’re married? Who do you think’s gonna be there to save you? Mr. Justin?” She hisses the last word. “You think long and hard before the sun comes up tomorrow, because I’m afraid down to my bones that you won’t be alive to see it.”

She collects herself and heads into the dining room to check on my parents. They won’t look into her beautiful brown face and see she’s been crying any more than they see this wedding is killing me, or at least the idea of being yoked to Justin McLeod is. Not because he’s eight years older than me and, other than our station in life, we have nothing in common, and not because of his good qualities, although no one can find more than two: He is a heart-stoppingly beautiful man and the sole heir of the largest fortune in Charleston.

For over a hundred years, Justin’s family and mine have built ships. And while two world wars made us rich, a prolonged peace threatens to weaken our family fortunes considerably. Somewhere in all that, my father convinced Justin a Hadley-McLeod union would position them to take over the world, at least the shipping world. And Father is certain nothing short of a blood union will keep Justin in the partnership.

Rosa Lee pushes through the swinging door and pours the coffee down the drain, her signal that breakfast is over and my parents are no longer close by. I smile, trying to reassure her I’m okay, that I’m going to be okay. She shakes her head and starts to wash one of the breakfast plates in slow motion, barely breathing. I hate those things, and after tomorrow, I’ll own twenty-four place settings of them, part of my dowry. I don’t give a damn about thousand-dollar plates, but I do care for Rosa Lee.

“I can do this.” I say from behind her. My voice sounds sure, steady. “I will do this.”

Friday, July 25, 2014

Double Blind by Tiffany Pitts

Title: Double Blind
Author: Tiffany Pitts
Publisher: Booktrope Editions
Pages: 280
Genre: Action/Adventure/Humor/Sci-fi
Format: Paperback/Kindle

Purchase at AMAZON

Delilah Pelham’s brother, Paul, is missing. She should probably be worried about that but honestly, he’s been in trouble since the day he learned the words “trust me." In fact, if it weren’t for his roommate, Carl, she would gladly leave him to his fate.

Carl is a good guy, even if he’s a bit of a dork. Okay, a large slice of a dork. Possibly the entire cake.

But he wants to help, as do his gamer friends, which is how Deli finds herself in the middle of Hong Kong with the King of the Dorks, running from creepy guys with slicked-back hair and shiny black guns.

Back at home, Carl’s friends aren’t faring nearly as well. All they had to do was monitor the situation and feed Deli’s cat while she was gone. How could that possibly end in bloodshed?

There is an answer, of course, but no one ever thinks to ask the cat.
Book Excerpt:
Deli’s Living Room
Later That Evening

Because of his size, most people assumed that Toesy was more dog-like. To some extent, that was true. He liked to go for walks. He liked chasing cats. He even played a very specialized game of fetch, which could be very rewarding—provided, of course, you were in need of a dead bird or half a rat.
But in some important ways, Toesy was very feline indeed. For instance, the second Jake’s breathing slowed from the syncopated wheeze of someone doing too many things at once to the drawn-out rhythm of sleep, he pounced.
No, pounced is too harsh a word. He crept, as well as any thirty-two pound cat can creep, from the far side of the couch to the man’s lap. It wasn’t easy. The man had minimal lap to start with and it currently held many electronic whatsits. However, Toesy’s ability to squish all thirty-two pounds of himself into tight spaces was quite remarkable, and soon he was cozied up between the man, his gadgetry, and the back of the couch.
After a while, the man woke up enough to move the whatsits from his lap to the coffee table. He discovered Toesy tucked in by his side and took the opportunity to reclaim the other half of the couch by propping his feet up on it. Toesy allowed the man to get comfortable before stretching out again. Delighted at this turn of events, he began to purr.
“You’re not such a huge monster, are you?” The man mumbled more contented laziness at him and scratched behind his left ear. A small drop of saliva gathered on Toesy’s lips.
The man must have been very tired because he soon returned to snoring. Toesy took advantage of the situation by climbing up to sleep on his chest.
Toesy considered his mistress a near-perfect human. She was easy to live with, generous with the catnip, and willing to stay in bed until noon on Sunday mornings if it was raining outside. Yet for all her fine qualities, Delilah Pelham had one major flaw. She was too small for him to sleep on.
Usually, as soon as he achieved the prime comfort position, she complained that he was too fat or that she could not breathe. Sometimes her arms fell asleep. Toesy loved Deli endlessly, but occasionally he suspected that she might be a bit of a wimp.
This man, who knew to feed him the Seafood Flavor without any prompting, would not complain about Toesy’s extra girth, for he had extra girth himself. Toesy suspected he might be a holy man. Certainly, no regular human he ever met had been so awe-inspiring.
He kneaded the lumps of stuff in the man’s shirt pocket into an arrangement conducive to long-term napping. Perfection attained, he tucked his nose into his furry belly and purred himself into a trance.
Or at least that’s what he intended to do.
A few moments into his joyous nap, Toesy heard a faint tick-tick sound and opened his left eye halfway. Normally, he didn't allow tick-tick noises, on the principle that they always precluded some sort of funny business, like a bird or a squirrel. Then he would have to go kill something, eat it, and spend the rest of the day fighting off vermin-induced heartburn. But thanks to this great man, he wasn’t hungry just now. He refused to allow one tick-tick to ruin his repose. He closed his tawny eye.
Another tick-tick ticked. Both of Toesy’s eyes shot open.
One tick-tick was understandable, but two tick-ticks? He would not stand for it. Toesy was a sweet creature as far as sharp-fanged, mildly feral cats go, but there was a streak of murder in him that would not stand for a good nap to be ruined by ticking jackassery.
He lifted his head to look at the nearest window. If that crow was back again, he intended to kill it completely this time. But the kitchen window was empty.
More ticking ticked, this time followed by faint scritchy-scratchy noises, which confused his senses. Toesy closed his eyes and focused his ears on the unusual sound. It came not from the window, but somewhere close.
He flicked his ears twice, once in recognition and once in disbelief. The ticks were coming from the man's trouser pocket!
Toesy searched until he found the fold of the man’s pocket and cautiously stuck his nose inside. The smell of cheese overpowered him for a moment, so he lay still and waited for his brain to adjust. After a moment, he was able to pick out more subtle scents. The tangy brine of coins, oily keys, and the cold, blank smell of glass—all surrounded by a diffuse aroma that Toesy could not place. It smelled awake.
The glass jumped toward him, hitting him in the nose. Toesy backed away, affronted.
Surely this man does not want all this tick-ticking in his pocket, he thought. I must put a stop to this nonsense.
He reached in through the folds of cloth with a giant furry paw. The glass surface was round like a tube, with a little fluff stuck in one end. As Toesy rummaged, the tube slid free from the man’s pocket and started to roll away toward the floor. He flashed a claw and caught it by the fluff.
Inside the tube, small bugs hopped and popped. Normally, Toesy wouldn't bother with bugs of this size, as he preferred something juicier. However, these particular bugs had just punched him in the nose and obviously needed a short, sharp lesson in consequences.
The wad of fluff at the end of the tube squeaked along his claws as Toesy dug deeper. He got a good grip and shook hard, loosening the cotton until suddenly it jerked free. This caused the glass tube to shoot across the room, where it hit the television with a tink and dropped to the floor.
Toesy did not want the bugs to escape before he could inspect (and possibly eat) them, so he power-jumped across the room.
When using all the muscles in its hind legs, the average house cat can jump six to seven feet from a resting position. Toesy, however, was not an average house cat. He was more like two or three average house cats shoved into the body of one. The force exerted by all thirty-two pounds of Toesy, power-jumping off the man’s sleeping abdomen, was approximately equal to being sucker punched by a gorilla.
That’s why the man woke up gasping for air and clutching his gut. He tried to roar, but without any breath, it came out a thin squeak.
“What the…” Wheeze. “…hell…” Gasp. “…are you doing?” Cough, cough.
Toesy had no attention to spare. He landed within inches of the glass tube, all thoughts laser-focused on the floor.
Now that he was better able to see them, the bugs didn’t look like bugs at all. They looked like shiny, hopping beans. He sniffed them. They smelled like shiny, hopping, metal beans. He reached out with a tentative paw and batted at them. One of the beans popped up, half an inch into the air. Toesy quickly clamped his paw down on it.
“What have you got there, Toesy?” the man asked after he went back to breathing right.
Toesy flicked his tail in deference to the man but did not turn around. He was trying to figure out how to let go of the shiny bean and eat it at the same time.
“Let me see, boy.”
The man was on his knees now, shuffling around on the floor next to Toesy.
“What’s this?” he said, holding up the cracked glass tube. “That’s not… No, it can’t be. What have you got?” His voice grew alarming and insistent.
No! No, no, no, no, no! What have you done?”
Toesy admired his volume as the man yelled and scooped two of the beans back into the cracked tube.
“What are you doing with the Elevators? You can’t have those! They don’t even work! Carl is gonna kill me!”
Another bean popped into the air. Toesy clamped a free paw down on it while his eyes dilated all the way up to crazy. He loved everything about this day.
“What the—?”
The man sat back on his haunches and examined the two beans he captured earlier. They sat at the bottom of the tube, vibrating back and forth gently.
“That…has not happened before,” he said. Then he looked at Toesy and added, “Do you see this?”
Toesy, still splay-legged with trapped beans, rejoiced at this turn of events. The man was getting in on the game, too! They would eat the beans together! He broke into spontaneous purring. The beans under his feet began to wiggle around, and he dug his claws into the carpet wildly.
The beans in the man’s hand vibrated faster. He peered at them, then he peered at Toesy. He brought the beans closer to Toesy. They began to pop inside their tube. He drew the beans away from Toesy. They quieted down.
“Holy shit,” the man said. “Cat, do you realize what this means? I could kiss you!”
But he did not kiss him. Instead, the man leaned over, lifted Toesy’s right paw and extracted the bean from underneath. Then he tousled Toesy’s shredded ears. Toesy dug the claws of his other paw deeper into the carpet. He did not want the man to take away his last bean.
“You,” he said, pointing to Toesy and smiling huge. “Are the most awesome cat in the universe! I gotta tell Carl.”
He stood up, grabbed something from the table, and walked to the kitchen. He was making little boop-boop noises on the electronic whatsit when he stopped suddenly.
“Shit, he’s still on a damn plane.” He turned to Toesy and continued talking. “I’ll have to email him about how awesome you are, Toesy.”
At the mention of his name, Toesy purred louder. The bean struggled beneath his paw.
“Now, where does Deli keep your cat treats?”
The Great Man continued to talk at him as he combed through the kitchen, but Toesy had stopped listening after cat treats.
There was no doubt in his mind now that this was indeed a holy man. Toesy loved him, whisker and claw. Deli was gone for now, but she would return. When she did, could he convince her to let this man stay? The thought of him sleeping on the couch forever made Toesy purr even louder.
The bean beneath his paw struggled again. Cautiously, in case it escaped, Toesy lifted his foot. The bean popped up but fell back down in the same spot, seemingly resigned to its fate. Toesy sniffed it twice, then ate it.
It tasted of metal and victory.