Wednesday, October 6, 2021

"Murder Is To Die For" Cozy Mystery Set - 99¢


Murder Is To Die For

Diehard Dames Amateur Detective Series

A new cozy mystery boxed set

from the Author's Billboard!


Available on Kindle and KU
On sale for 99 cents!

Diehard Dames don’t give up!

These ladies are smart. They’re clever. And they never give up.

Whether on a quest to solve a murder or to right a wrong, they’re tough and determined, ready to step forward when needed.

Join these daring and tenacious amateur sleuths as they solve crime in this collection of ALL NEW Whodunits. Special new release price, too!

Just because they’re amateurs doesn’t mean these ladies can’t get the job done. A few foils, fumbles, and missteps taken only make their tasks more challenging and interesting. 
Enjoy a few giggles as crime-solving takes on a bright new glow in these light-hearted international mysteries byNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors.

ALL NEW STORIES!

Mimi Barbour: Murder in the Mall: The proprietor of a bakery finds the owner of the shoe store murdered. All the mall owners have reasons for this horrendous deed, but who is the culprit? In this small town full of upstanding, warm-hearted people, who can possibly be the cold-blooded killer? New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author.

Denise Devine: Dark Fortune – “Your life is in danger, watch out for the stranger.” Fortune telling was just bunk, right? Stephanie hoped so. USA Today Bestselling Author

Dani Haviland: Crazy Ladies in Capes Debut - Louie witnessed a murder… Or did he? Midtown Anchorage is overrun by crime and this group of little old lady activists is ready to do something about it! USA Today Bestselling Author.

Nancy Radke: Any Lucky Dog Can Follow a Trail of Blood – When Sheriff Craig leaves the city and arrives in the rural county of West Falls, he is soon dealing with the murder of a man everyone wanted dead. So, who wanted him dead the most? He finds that when switching from pavement to mountain trails, a dog with a good nose is a necessity. So, is a pretty woman. USA Today Bestselling Author.

Snuggle up and grab the first ever Cozy Mystery Box Set from THE AUTHORS’ BILLBOARD. MURDER IS TO DIE FOR, DIEHARD DAMES, AMATEUR DETECTIVE SERIES.

~*~

Short Excerpt of

 Dark Fortune by Denise Devine

Stephanie’s Fortune

 “I implore you, beware of this warning,

a death occurred before morning.

Your life is in danger, watch out for the stranger,

dark days ahead are dawning…”

I’m done, Stephanie thought wearily as she trooped out the back door. I can’t talk about Jock’s murder anymore.

Watering her garden was a calming exercise. After a few minutes, the task always seemed to clear her mind and shift her mood into a feeling of peace, a change she desperately needed today. She exhaled a deep breath, the tension in her shoulders loosening as she turned the fan sprayer on her tall phlox, careful not to bother the bees diligently buzzing from bloom to bloom. The lavender, white and pink plants grew nearly four feet high and created a natural buffer between her yard and the house on the west side of her that belonged to Valerie Hale. Valerie’s sprawling rambler took up nearly all of her corner lot.

An odd feeling prompted her to look up. Stephanie glanced toward Valerie’s house and stared through the large windows that wrapped around the three sides of the front living room. The tall, exquisite blonde stood nose to nose with her ex-husband, Stuart, embroiled in a discussion. Stephanie knew she shouldn’t spy on them, but the curtains were open and curiosity got the best of her.

Valerie, a former model, stood nearly as tall as her ex-husband as she glared into his eyes, her face crimson with smoldering emotion. Since their divorce, she had retired from her career and instead lived off her monthly alimony check. Her ex, Stuart Hale, was a CPA who owned his own firm. He made buckets of money, but he was cheaper than Scrooge. Valerie, on the other hand, was a shopaholic. It didn’t take a genius to figure out what they were so worked up about.

I’m so glad I don’t have an ex to deal with anymore, Stephanie mused cynically as she redirected the fan sprayer toward a clump of white coneflowers.

Guilt and sadness suddenly overwhelmed her as she realized what had just crossed her mind. She didn’t wish for Jock to be dead. The thought broke her heart. She squeezed her eyes shut and willed herself to think of something else.

“You’ve gotten all you’re going to get out of me! Understand? The house, the car—it’s more than you deserve!”

The loud, acrimonious voice startled her. She moved toward the corner of the house and saw Stuart standing on Valerie’s front steps wearing a dark green shirt, the tail hanging out of his jeans. His dark hair, peppered with strands of gray, looked mussed, as though he’d just rolled out of bed. He scowled at her with narrowed eyes.

Valerie pounded her finger in the center of his chest. “I deserve better than this dump, but you don’t pay me enough to afford a decent house!”

“Any other woman could afford Buckingham Palace on what you get.” He shoved her hand away. “Learn to live on a budget like everyone else!”

He spun away and stomped down the steps.

Valerie followed him to the end of the sidewalk. “We’re not finished with this conversation, Stu. You’ll be hearing from my lawyer!”

He dismissed her with a wave of his hand as he stormed to his car and jumped in, slamming the door. His vehicle roared to life and sped away.

Stephanie quickly walked back to her garden and continued to water her plants, pretending she hadn’t heard a thing—and hoping Valerie was so preoccupied she didn’t notice anything else. Within a few moments, however, the familiar swish-swish of a woman’s footsteps tripping through the grass indicated Valerie was heading her way.

“He makes me so mad!” Valerie proclaimed loudly as she approached. “Did you hear what that jerk said to me?”

There goes my temporary escape from reality, Stephanie thought dismally. She slowly pivoted. Valerie wore an aqua knit top and a pair of white chinos. The tapered, ankle-length pants accentuated her tall, slender figure. The low-cut top barely covered her ample bosom. “Hi, Val.”

“He thinks I should be grateful for that paltry allowance he dols out every month,” Valerie spouted as her full lips formed a well-rehearsed pout. Her shoulder-length hair had been hastily swept to the crown of her head in a messy bun. She folded her arms into a tight bow. “When my lawyer gets him in court, he’ll wish he’d played nice with me!”

Hobbit barked and did his usual happy dance to see her. “Behave yourself,” Valerie scolded him and waved her hand to shoo him away. “You’re going to get mud on my clothes.”

Stephanie ignored Hobbit’s bad manners and went back to tending to her flowers, hoping Valerie would get a clue that she didn’t want company and go home.

“I saw the report about Jock on the news,” Valerie said, taking a softer tone. “How are you doing?”

Stephanie winced at the question but replied, “I’m okay. I just need some quiet time to deal with the shock.” Hint, hint.

“It’s too bad he wasn’t the marrying kind of guy,” Valerie stated boldly. “You’d be sitting pretty right now.”

Leave it to Valerie to think about Jock’s net worth at a time like this!

“I have everything I need,” Stephanie stated, her patience wearing thin. “Right now, I’m more concerned with why he died than who is inheriting his estate.”

“Is this new?” Valerie pointed toward a shallow bowl of pebbles hanging by three slim chains from a black metal shepherd’s hook.

“No, I’ve had it since last spring,” Stephanie replied, happy to change the subject. “Jock gave it to me for my birthday. It’s been hanging there in my flowerbed all summer.”

Valerie curiously picked one of the multi-colored pebbles out of the bowl and examined it.  “What is it for?”

“It’s a bee bowl.”

Valerie laughed. “A what?”

“It’s a bowl for bees and butterflies to drink water. It comes as a kit. Jock set it up for me.” Stephanie pointed toward the blue ceramic dish. “You cover the bottom with pebbles and fill it with an inch of fresh water. The bees and butterflies can sit on the rocks and safely get a drink without drowning.”

“How ironic,” Valerie said in a droll voice as she examined the small nugget in her palm. “The man is rolling in precious stones and he gives you this…”

Stephanie shrugged. “It’s what I wanted.” She refreshed the dish with a small amount of clean water. “I have enough diamonds.”

Valerie snorted with incredulity. “Honey, a girl never has enough diamonds.”

“Jock knew how much my garden means to me,” Stephanie said with a sniff. “He wanted to get me something special so he asked me to pick out my favorite things at the garden center. Sometimes he could be really sweet. At other times…”

Valerie frowned at the light pink pebble and tossed it back into the bowl. “Sometimes I regret introducing you to him.”

Stephanie gasped, taken aback by Valerie’s directness. “Why would you say such a thing?”

Valerie placed her hand on Stephanie’s arm, her face reflecting concern. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but Jock wasn’t right for you.”

“What do you mean?”

“He cheated on you every chance he got,” Valerie said solemnly. “It was obvious he never loved you.”

Deep down, Stephanie had always known the truth, but to hear Valerie say it out loud pierced like a shard of glass through her heart. She turned away to conceal her tears and in the process her foot caught on the hose, pitching her forward. The fan sprayer flew out of her hand.

“Ah-h-h!” Valerie screamed as cold water sprayed across the front of her body, drenching her from head to toe. “Stephanie! What are you doing?” She backed up, furiously trying to shake the water from her eyes. “Oh, my gosh—I’m soaked. What if someone sees me like this!”

“I’m sorry, Val,” Stephanie called out. “It was an accident!”

Either Valerie hadn’t heard her or she’d refused to answer as she stomped back home.

Every time I get stressed out, I trip on something, Stephanie thought miserably. Deciding she’d had enough gardening for one day, her feet automatically headed for the outdoor faucet. It’s been that way all my life, she complained silently to herself. The handle squeaked as she turned off the water. How am I going to make it through Jock’s funeral in one piece?

She shuddered at the thought. The last thing she needed was to crash and burn in the funeral home and wipe out Jock’s memorial in front of God and everybody…



Murder Is To Die For - only 99 cents for a limited time. Get your copy now!

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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Sweet & Sassy Falling into Love for 99 cents

 


Sweet & Sassy Falling into Love

by four USA Today Bestselling authors

On sale now for only 99 cents.

Amazon

There is never a wrong time to snuggle up and fall in love! The Authors’ Billboard has another Sweet and Sassy boxset aimed directly at Falling Into Love.

This four-book set from USA Today Bestselling, Award-Winning Authors contains stories of second chances, single parents, small-towns and large. With some touches of suspense, unexpected sparks, and close-knit families, these characters are out to find more than they bargained for while Falling Into Love.

Stacy Eaton, USA Today Bestselling Author, Bradley, Loving a Young Series: With a new house in her name, Nolan Nickels seeks out the perfect plan to get the house ready so she can bring her two daughters’ home, but is her fixer-upper more than she bargained after Brad Young comes to help?

Susanne Matthews, Bestselling Author, – Make Mine a Manhattan: Assuming her heroine’s identity, Savannah Long heads for New York to experience life and gets far more than she bargained for.

Denise Devine, USA Today Bestselling Author, – Unfinished Business: When Alana Morgan’s life is upended by a suspicious death and a betrayal, she joins forces with Reid Sinclair to uncover the evidence she desperately seeks.

Taylor Lee, USA Today Bestselling Author - You Can’t Always Get What You Want: He’s a hard as nails police chief. She’s a feisty ADA. The one thing they have in common is arrogance. Sparks flare when the challenging duo face off.

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This is Alana's story...

Chapter One

Mid-August

The flowers, balloons, and stuffed bears at the foot of Alana Morgan’s front door resembled a shrine for the dead.

With one hand on her suitcase and the other holding her keys, she stood in the hallway outside her condo and stared down at the colorful exhibition in dismay. The display wasn’t a memorial for someone. It was for something; a relationship with Dylan O’Rourke that should have never happened.

The door of the condo next to hers cracked open a few inches. Gina Alfonsi poked her graying head into the hallway. “He’s been here every day this week. Now that you’re back home, you need to either kiss and make up or get a restraining order.” Shaking her head in disgust, Gina stared at the items piled on the floor. “Put the poor guy out of his misery.”

Alana deactivated her security system then put her key in the deadbolt lock and turned it. “We had it out just before I left for Paris and I gave him back the engagement ring. He begged me to forgive him but I refused. A couple of nights ago, I described the situation to my girlfriends and they agreed I’d be crazy to take him back.” She pushed the door open. “I don’t care how sorry Dylan is; he’s history. There is no second chance for a man who cheats.” Leaving her suitcase behind, for now, she stepped over the obstacles in her way and entered her condominium.

She would have never known about his infidelity if her business trip to Los Angeles hadn’t been cut short. A product manager in retail price management for a private software firm, she’d planned to be in L.A. for five days to work with a client. The meetings, however, were very productive and wrapped up a day early, giving her an extra day to get ready for her trip to Paris. She’d caught the red-eye back to Minneapolis on Thursday night. Arriving home early Friday morning, she’d purchased muffins from a coffee shop and had gone straight to Dylan’s place on the sixth floor of her condo complex. She wanted to surprise him before he left for work, but a nasty surprise was in store for her when she let herself in and discovered her fiancé in the shower with another woman...

Alana grimaced. Why do I always manage to pick losers?

Successful, sexy, and sweet-talking, Dylan’s charming personality was the kind she always fell for, but obviously, his kind wasn’t right for her. A relationship had to be based upon more than physical attraction and she realized now theirs had been merely skin-deep. That’s why he’d cheated on her. In the end, he’d come to that conclusion too, and that’s why he wanted to start over, but it was too late. She could never trust him again.

Alana crossed the living room to the floor-to-ceiling windows and pulled open the fabric blinds, filling her spacious home with afternoon sunlight. She loved living on the thirtieth floor of Marquette Towers. Situated on the south edge of downtown Minneapolis, the spectacular view of the metro area from her balcony stretched as far as she could see. Looking downward, her gaze swept across the lush, eleven-acre grounds of the Sculpture Garden a couple of blocks away and Loring Park with tall, shady trees and its centerpiece, Loring Lake. She’d had a great time in Paris, but it was good to be back in Minnesota again.

Well, it would be once she’d returned Dylan O’Rourke’s gifts and purged him from her life forever.

Gina stood in the doorway wearing black leggings, a lacy white tunic, and a necklace of chunky aqua beads. She smiled, revealing a space between her front teeth. “Did you have a good trip?”

“Oh, yes! I always have a great time with my ex-roommates from college. We take a vacation together every year at the end of the summer for some girls-only fun. It’s been our tradition since we graduated.”

Alana dropped her purse on the coffee table and began to collect the items in the doorway. The flowers went into the trash. “On our first day, we had lunch at a sidewalk café and spent the afternoon shopping,” she said as she poured the water from the vases into the sink. “On other days, we wandered through The Louvre, took a river cruise on the Seine, and watched the evening light show at the Eiffel Tower.”

“How was the wine?”

“Wonderful!” Alana knelt in front of the doorway holding a white garbage bag in her hands. “One evening we went to a place on Rue des Boulangers where we drank Bordeaux and snacked on wild boar sausage with cheese and crackers.” She shoved a stuffed bear into the bag.

Gina laughed. “The wine sounds good. I’m not sure about the wild boar...”

“It wasn’t as bad as it sounds. It tasted like summer sausage to me.”

As Alana worked, she thought back to that balmy night in Paris. Josie, Ryley, Annika, and she had started confessing their tales of relationships gone bad as they sipped on delicious Bordeaux. By the end of the evening, they’d all promised to hit the “pause” button on love and swear off men for one year so they could focus on pursuing their professional goals instead.

Deep in her heart, Alana truly wanted to find Mr. Right, get married, and have a couple of kids, but for now, the prospect seemed so remote. Were all the good men her age taken? It certainly felt that way. Maybe her friends were right about putting relationships on hold for a while to focus on their careers. The thought of pursuing a high-level promotion at work energized her, giving her a renewed sense of purpose.

“Here, let me help you with that,” Gina said as she tucked her chin-length hair behind her ears and knelt on the floor to push a couple of Mylar balloons into the bag. They suddenly slipped from Gina’s hands and popped out, rocketing toward the ceiling.

“Hold on. I’ll fix this.” Alana went into the kitchen and grabbed a scissors from one of the drawers. She pulled down the balloons, stabbing a hole in each one and dropping them, deflated, into the bag. She quickly pulled the bag’s drawstrings tight and tied them in a knot. “It needs one more thing.” She went back into the kitchen to retrieve a notecard, a black Sharpie, and some cellophane tape. On the card, she wrote “Delivery Refused - Return to Sender” and taped it on the bag. “That should do it. I’ll go down to the sixth floor and set it in front of his door.”

Gina folded her arms as she leaned against the door frame. “Judging by how persistent he is, I doubt it will deter him.”

Alana set the bag aside with a sigh. “You’re right. When he sees the bag, he’ll know I’m back and he’ll try to talk me into giving our relationship another chance. The problem is, it’ll simply be round two of the same argument we’ve already had. I have nothing else to say to him.”

“It’s too bad you couldn’t go back to Paris for another week.”

“I’d love that!” Alana glanced at her suitcase, packed full of new clothes from Paris and she winced at the thought of how much she’d already overspent her travel budget. “Unfortunately, I can’t afford to go back there right now. Besides, I called my mom at the airport to let her know my plane had arrived and she talked me into spending the other half of my vacation at my grandmother’s house. I’m supposed to start packing Grandma Essie’s things and doing some serious cleaning to get the house ready to put on the market.”

“You sound like you’re dreading it,” Gina remarked.

“This isn’t my idea of a fun vacation.” She looked back at Gina. “My parents rarely ask for my help so I feel duty-bound to set my own plans aside and get the project started for them while they’re in Europe celebrating their fortieth anniversary. Grandma Essie’s passing took an emotional toll on Mom so she really needs this time away. Well, it was tough on all of us. It’s going to be difficult going back there because I have so many memories tied to that house, but I guess I should see the place one last time before it goes up for sale. Growing up, I spent a lot of my summers there and I’m really going to miss it.”

It would be a nice change for a few days to wake up in the same bedroom her mother had occupied as a child in Grandma Essie’s big house in Merrick. The small, southern Minnesota town was a little boring, perhaps, but at least she’d have some peace and quiet for a few days. Nothing ever happened there…

Until Essie’s untimely death.

How? Why? At Mom’s Fourth of July picnic, Grandma Essie was her usual self—funny and in good health. She’d lived in that house for sixty years and never had any problem with the back steps. What had caused her to take such a bad fall now? I wish I knew!

Alana shook off the sad, frustrating thoughts. “Why don’t you come in for a few minutes, Gina, and visit with me while I repack my suitcase? I’ll get you a bottle of sparkling water. I need to get on the road before rush hour starts or it will be a nightmare trying to get out of the metro area. Fridays are always the worst.”

After retrieving a couple of cold bottles of Voss water from the refrigerator, Alana pulled her suitcase into her bedroom and dumped the contents onto her bed. Gina sat on the corner of her king-sized mattress and chatted with her about Paris as Alana packed enough clothes to stay at Grandma Essie’s for a week. When she finished, she went back into her living room and closed the blinds then went into the kitchen and filled out a new index card.

“Enjoy the rest of your vacation,” Gina said as she tossed her empty bottle in the recycling bin under the sink. She followed Alana out the door. “If lover boy shows up again, I’ll act like I haven’t seen you.”

“Great, thanks!” Alana locked the door and set the alarm with her key fob. “I’m all set. See you when I get back, Gina!”

Setting her purse on top of her suitcase, Alana took one last look around. “Oops, I almost forgot this…” She held out the notecard with a piece of tape on it and stuck it on the door.

They laughed.

She made her way toward the elevators rolling her suitcase with one hand and dragging Dylan’s bag with the other. At the corner, she stopped and looked back to make sure the sign on her door hadn’t fallen off. It was still there. The notecard simply read, “Gone Fishing.”

***

Reid Sinclair sat at the computer in his home office, working from his notes on a keynote address to be given at a leadership summit in late September. He needed to complete the first draft by the end of the week and send it to his colleague and business partner, Nate Gilbertson, for review. A management professor at the University of Minnesota, Nate critiqued all of Reid’s manuscripts, conducted research projects with him, and filled the role of agent for Reid’s conference schedule and his published books. Reid needed peace and quiet to concentrate, but his private landline phone had been ringing off the hook all day with family and friends calling, grating on his nerves, and repeatedly disrupting his concentration.

“Da-dee, the phone is ringing!”

“I know that, Hannah,” he replied to his five-year-old daughter who was supposed to be watching a children’s show on television. “Just let it go to the answering machine. Daddy will play the messages back later.”

“You always say that,” she wailed from the living room. “I like to answer the phone.”

“No, Hannah, let the machine take a message—”

“Hallo?” He suddenly heard her little voice chirp. “Who is this? I’m Hannah and I’m five...” The little pause meant Hannah was nodding at the phone while holding up five fingers. “My da-dee? He’s working.” Another little pause. “Oh-kay!” Little footsteps scampered through the living room to the door of Reid’s office. “Da-dee, the lady says you haf to talk to her.”

Reid swiveled his chair to see Hannah standing in the doorway with the white cordless phone in her tiny outstretched hand. Instead of becoming angry with her for disobeying him, a twinge of guilt embraced his heart at her sweet, but disheveled appearance. Her white leggings and pink unicorn shirt were stained with the macaroni and cheese she’d spilled on herself at lunch. Her blonde braids were yesterday’s hairdo, now coming apart with stray hairs poking out everywhere.

Hannah came into the room and leaned against his knee, her bright blue eyes shining up at him. “Here,” she said and offered him the mobile handset. “It’s important!”

“Okay, honey,” he said as he accepted the phone. “Now you be a good girl and go back into the living room to watch TV. Okay?”

“Who is it?”

“I don’t know yet.”

“Can I haf a fruit snack?”

Reid nodded, anxious to get her back in front of the TV until he’d finished his call. “But only one. I don’t want you to spoil your appetite for dinner.”

Hannah beamed. “Oh-kay!”

“What do you say?”

“Thank you!” She turned and ran out of the room.

“Don’t—” …run in the house… He shook his head, letting it go for now, and hit the speakerphone on the handset. “This is Reid.”

“It’s Monique.”

The clear, feminine sound of his ex-wife’s voice startled him. The fingers on his free hand, white-knuckled and tense, gripped the arm of his chair. He hadn’t spoken to her in years and their last conversation had been less than friendly. He still remembered every word. Why was she calling him after all this time? His mind swirled with suspicion. “How did you get the private number to my home? It’s unlisted.” Only a small number of people knew it. One of them had betrayed him.

“It doesn’t matter,” she replied hastily. “I’m calling to find out how Hannah is doing.”

His temper flared. “What do you care? You haven’t seen her since the day you abandoned her.”

Hannah had just turned three months old when Monique left. Their daughter was registered to start all-day kindergarten in a couple of weeks. He was glad Hannah had been too young to remember Monique or recognize her voice on the phone. The less Hannah knew about Monique, the better.

“Look, Reid, I know you were angry about the divorce. I understand what a shock it was at the time, but that was five years ago. I’ve had a lot of time to think about the way I acted and I want to make amends.”

“I forgive you. Case closed. Don’t bother calling again. As soon as I hang up, I’m changing this number.”

“Reid,” Monique countered in a low, warning voice, “Hannah is my daughter, too, and I want to see her. I want to get to know her and start the proceedings for joint custody.”

What the…?

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He sat ramrod straight, his heart hammering behind his eyes. “Not in a million years would I trust you with her!”

“You can’t stop me from seeing my daughter.”

“I’ll keep you in court for the rest of your life if that’s what it takes,” Reid snapped. “When my lawyers offered you a fortune to sign away your parental rights, you couldn’t wait to put your signature on the agreement to get your hands on the money. You got exactly what you wanted and so did I. There’s no going back now.”

“I want joint custody of Hannah,” Monique repeated acidly. “She’s my daughter and I have a right to see her.”

Reid had all he could do to keep from throwing the phone on the floor and pulverizing it with his heel, but he kept his voice calm. “Not after what you did. You don’t deserve her.”

“I knew you’d try to keep me from seeing her. If you persist, I’ll go after full custody.”

Good luck with that, lady. Any lawyer that got involved in your case would be just taking your money…

He drew in a deep breath. “Look, I still have the security tapes and plenty of evidence to show you’re not fit to be Hannah’s mother. When she’s old enough to understand the situation, I’ll let her decide if she wants to see you or not. In the meantime, leave us alone. Don’t call here ever again.” Shaking with fury, he ended the call and blocked the number.

“Da-dee,” Hannah cried breathlessly as she ran into Reid’s office. She pointed to the window. “Someone is at Grandma Essie’s house!”

Monique’s call had distracted Reid so intensely he could barely concentrate on anything else. He stared at the floor, trying to calm down and wondering what to do now.

Hannah tugged at his sleeve. “Da-dee! Look!”

Reid pulled his thoughts away from the current crisis to gaze out the window at his neighbor’s house. The elderly lady had passed away a month ago with a head injury from a bad fall and since then, except for the man who mowed the lawn every week, the house had been ignored.

A car had pulled into the gravel driveway dividing the two properties and it was partially hidden by Essie’s white picket fence and giant pink hollyhocks, but he could see enough of it to make out a bright red Mercedes convertible. A tall, slender woman with elbow-length dark hair who looked to be in her early thirties stood next to it, taking in the house and yard. The pricey car, oversized sunglasses, and fancy purse on her shoulder gave her a pampered, ultra-feminine look. Someone who was used to having money and expensive tastes—like Monique. Even so, he had a hard time pulling his gaze away. Something about the woman caught his eye. The way she leaned against the car, her hands at her sides, staring at the huge red brick, Queen Anne-style house intrigued him. She seemed hesitant…longing for something…

Hannah tugged at his sleeve. “Can we go see her? Pweeease?”

He spanned his hands around Hannah’s waist and pulled her onto his lap. “Honey, she’s probably a realtor who’s been contracted to sell the house. If we went over there, we’d just be bothering her. Besides, it’s damp outside from the rain and the mosquitoes are really bad today.”

Hannah began to cry and rub her eyes with the back of her hands. “I wanna go to Grandma Essie’s house!”

Reid slid his arms around her and kissed the top of her head. She’d missed her nap today because he’d been too busy working on his speech to put her in bed with a picture book after lunch and she was clearly overtired. “You miss Grandma Essie, don’t you?” he murmured.

Hannah nodded her head and continued to cry.

“I do, too.” He wiped her tears away with his thumbs.

Ever since they moved to Merrick ten months ago, Grandma Essie had taken care of Hannah whenever he needed a sitter. She’d even kept Hannah overnight when he had to go out of town on business. The elderly lady had been recommended to him by the Lutheran pastor in town and because of her excellent references, he’d trusted her explicitly. It was an unfortunate accident that had taken her life and he missed her. He didn’t know what he was going to do without her.

“Hey,” he said in a soft voice and brushed a lock of stray hair from Hannah’s face. “Do you want to go to McDonald’s and get a Happy Meal for dinner?” He only took her out for fast food on days when his schedule was tight, and give the interruptions he’d had today, he was definitely in no mood to switch gears and cook. He’d print out what he had written so far and review it while Hannah ate her chicken nuggets.

“Oh-kay,” Hannah said through her tears.

“But first, go to your room and put on a clean outfit. Then we’ll wash your face and brush your hair.”

Momentarily appeased, she slid off his lap and ran out of the room.

Reid leaned back in his chair and covered his face with his hands. He didn’t know if Monique truly meant what she said about going after him in court, but he couldn’t afford to ignore her threat. He needed a plan—and fast. It had cost him nearly everything to get rid of her, including his position as CEO of a nationwide auto parts company. In the years since the divorce, he’d relocated, become a full-time caregiver to his daughter, and reinvented himself in the business world.

He took his hands away from his face and stared at the phone. No way would he allow Monique to upend their lives again. No way…

Get your copy today!

Amazon

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Denise Devine is a USA Today bestselling author who has had a passion for books since the second grade when she discovered Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. She wrote her first book, a mystery, at age thirteen and has been writing ever since. She loves all animals, especially dogs, cats and horses, and they often find their way into her books.

She has written seventeen books, including books in the Beach Brides Series, The Perfect Match Series and the Hawaiian Holiday Series. Besides the USA Today list, her books have hit the Top 100 Bestseller list on Amazon and she has been listed on Amazon’s Top 100 Authors.

If you’d like to know more about her, visit her website at: https://www.deniseannettedevine.com or join her VIP list today to get the scoop on free books, new releases and lots of goodies at http://eepurl.com/csOJZL

Ghostwriters are NEVER used in the creation of any of Denise Devine’s books. All of her books are conceived, plotted and written 100% by her.





Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Christmas in July eBook for only 99 cents!

A Merry Little Christmas

only 99 cents on Kindle

FREE on Kindle Unlimited



Amazon

Merry Connor is struggling to feed her two children, pay heat bills and fix her secondhand car.

Though she’s barely making it financially, life is good. That is, compared to two years ago when she lost everything—thanks to her lying, deceiving ex-husband. She’s come a long way since then and doesn’t intend to look back. Even so, it’ll be a long time before she trusts anyone with her heart again.

Tony Lewis hasn’t had a merry Christmas since his wife and son perished in a car collision three years ago.

The holidays are lonely without his family, but his heart begins to mend when he meets Merry Connor and her two rambunctious kids. He can’t stop thinking about her and yearns to get closer to her. Will she turn him away once she learns of his connection to her ex-husband? (4.8 Stars on Amazon)

EXCERPT

             Tony stood in the doorway of Sam’s Bar and scanned the boisterous crowd of happy-hour revelers, looking for the scrooge in the room—Neal Carter. This meeting wouldn’t resemble anything close to a social call, but he had to go through with it because he needed to set the record straight about Merry Connor and move on. Convincing Neal to do the same would be like trying to drain Lake Superior with a garden hose, but at this point, he didn’t care. He simply wanted to end this ridiculous ruse and leave.

            He spied Neal sitting in a corner booth, wearing jeans and a green and white Minnesota Wild hockey jersey, relishing a plate of beef nachos. He squared his shoulders and crossed the room, wishing he’d delivered the news over the phone as he’d originally planned to do instead of agreeing to meet for a drink. Silently, he slid into the booth, keeping his jacket on, his white-knuckled hands clenching together at his sides.

            “How’d it go?” Neal didn’t bother to look up, preferring to focus on shoving a large chip covered with melted cheddar cheese and jalapeños into his mouth.

            “She’s innocent.”

            Neal choked on his food and broke into a fit of coughing, his face turning crimson. He grabbed his water glass and chugged several deep gulps. Then he drew in a deep breath. “What did you say?”

            “Merry Connor is innocent,” Tony said with finality. “She had nothing to do with her ex-husband’s crime.”

            Neal looked up, piercing him with a stone-faced glare. “This time last week you didn’t even know her, but now you’re an expert on her character? You haven’t spent enough time with her to determine what she is capable of doing.”

            Tony ignored Neal’s comments and turned his attention to the slender blonde server in jeans and a white blouse approaching their table.

            She set a cardboard coaster in front of him and smiled. “What would you like to drink?”

            At another time, perhaps, he would have found her fuzzy red and white Santa hat and necklace of blinking Christmas lights amusing, but today he merely shook his head. “Nothing, thanks. I’m not going to be here long.”

            As soon as she left them alone, he focused on Neal again, eager to speak his piece and get out of there. “Given my experience in dealing with people, I’d say I’m an excellent judge of character.” He paused in disgust, watching Neal shove another gooey chip into his mouth. “I’ve seen her place; it’s garage sale central. She drives an old beater, still uses a flip phone and her second-hand television set is a picture tube model hooked up to rabbit ears. Merry Connor is not sitting on top of a million dollars. She’s broke.”

            “It’s a smokescreen,” Neal argued sarcastically. “She’s biding her time, playing the victim until the old man gets out of prison. Then they’ll turn into the Beverly Hillbillies.” He snorted. “California—here we come!”

            “That’s not true. Merry is a hard-working woman who’s struggling to make ends meet. She’s endured more hardship than anyone affected by this crime.”

            “Don’t try to protect her.”

            “I’m telling you what I saw! Look, Neal, we agreed—”

            “We agreed you would get the truth out of her,” Neal countered with authority, as though reprimanding one of his employees. “Now get back over there and do your job.”

            No one could aggravate him like his brother-in-law. For a moment, Tony went rigid as he envisioned smashing that plate of nachos into Neal’s face.

            Let it go. He’s not worth it...

            Tony sat back and drew in a deep breath, refusing to allow Neal’s arrogance to get to him. “I’ve done what we agreed to and given you my assessment of the situation. My decision stands. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over.”

            “You’ve got it bad for her, don’t you?” Neal scowled. “Did you sleep with her? Is that how she got to you?”

            A couple of descriptive and highly offensive four-letter words perched on the edge of Tony’s tongue, but he stopped himself before letting them fly. He would not stoop to Neal’s level, no matter how much the man baited him. “Actually, her kids got to me,” he said, purposely sidestepping the subject of his friendship with Merry. “They’ve suffered more than anyone. They lost their father, their home, and stable family life. Instead of judging Merry, it’s time someone in our family reached out to her and showed her kids some kindness. If it were my son in that position, I’d want the same for him.”

            “Well, I’ll be—are you saying you’ve finally gotten off that high horse of self-pity you’ve been straddling for the last three years? You’ve decided to think about someone else besides your pathetic self for a change?” Neal followed up with a sharp, derisive laugh. “I won’t believe that until I see it with my own eyes.” He shoved the congealing, half-eaten plate of nachos away and grabbed his beer. “In any case, I guess it’s time to hire another P. I. to finish the job since you’re not man enough to do it.”

            Tony slid out of the booth and stood, towering over Neal. “Say whatever you want about me; I could care less, but leave Merry Connor alone. She has a right to her privacy.”

            Neal raised his beer in a mock salute. “Look who’s talking! Do you really think she’ll be in a forgiving mood when she finds out you’ve violated her privacy?”

            “I fully intend to disclose my connection to you and Faith,” Tony said, “but as far as I’m concerned, I haven’t done anything wrong. I bought the contract-for-deed and met with the contract holder. There is absolutely nothing illegal or inappropriate about either action.”

            Neal glared at him. “I’ll bet she’d find it extremely inappropriate if she learned your only motive for doing those things was to get justice for your sister.”

            “I’m warning you.” Tony stabbed a finger in Neal’s direction, coming close to his brother-in-law’s face. “Stay away from Merry or else. That goes for the watchdog you’re going to hire, too. I don’t want him anywhere near her property or her kids. Cross that line and you’ll both answer to me.” He turned and walked away, resolute to make good on his threat if Neal didn’t back off.

            As he left the bar, the song “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” followed him onto the empty, snow-dusted patio. He hadn’t experienced a “merry little Christmas” since his wife and son died, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t bring joy to someone else’s holiday. Joy—the kind that came with four legs, a wet nose, and a wagging tail.

            The thought of Merry and the kids lifted his mood considerably. He’d given her the option to “board his dog” instead of cash for the car parts as an excuse to see her again. He wanted to see her again, very much so but knew he needed to reveal his connection to Neal and Faith to her as soon as possible. That said, he couldn’t just walk up to Merry and blurt it out. No, he’d have to find a way to talk to her without the kids around so he could break it to her gently. He needed to tell her the truth, but at the same time, he wanted to convince her that the situation between Aidan and the Carters would never affect their friendship.

            He turned up the collar of his jacket and bounded down the stairs, stepping onto the cobblestone sidewalk of St. Anthony Main. Light, feathery flakes floated through the air, clinging to his coat and hair as he passed offices and shops draped with pine garland and red velvet bows. He stopped in front of Pracna on Main, a historic restaurant that had been in operation since 1890, to browse the menu posted in a glass case.

            This would be a nice place to take Merry to dinner.

            For the first time since Cherie’s death, Tony had allowed himself to become attracted to another woman. Ever since they met, Merry Connor had been on his mind and the more he thought about her, the more the sadness of losing Cherie slowly lifted. He couldn’t stop thinking about Merry’s radiant smile, the sparkle in her eyes when she laughed, and the soft lilt in her voice whenever she spoke to him. He wanted to have dinner with her on Saturday night, just the two of them, but would she even want to be friends once she learned his sister and brother-in-law were responsible for sending her husband to jail?

            He shoved his hands into his jacket pockets and walked on. Leveling with Merry was a risk he was willing to take.

Get your copy now.

Available on Kindle and Kindle Unlimited

~*~

A Merry Christmas is now on Audio

On sale for $1.99 starting July 9th for a limited time

Apple - iBooks


~*~

Christmas in July


Searching for a great story? Find your next favorite read at

Christmas in July Stories!

A group of USA Today, award-winning, and bestselling authors have teamed up to offer a delightful selection of Christmas books. Available for a limited time.

A Merry Little Christmas by Denise Devine is only 99 cents!

~*~





Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Sweet Romantic Nights - Free!

 

Authors' Billboard presents...


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And dive into this delectable set of seven stories by award-winning and bestselling authors.

Season your sweet romances with a sprinkle of suspense, a cup of humor, and just the right amount of ‘aww’ factor to keep you reading through the night.

SWEET ROMANTIC NIGHTS, another great set from THE AUTHORS’ BILLBOARD.

Rachelle Ayala – Christmas Lovebirds: Can two little lovebirds and Christmas cheer open Melisa’s heart to giving Rob another chance?

Dani Haviland – LOST: The Time Travel Romance That Started It All: LOST: the epic time travel romance and the hilarious adventure of how it changed lives in the 21st century.

Susan Jean Ricci – A Sweet Snafu: There’s never a dull moment with these two characters from Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems.

Nancy Radke – Christmas on Cougar Mountain: Was this woman scamming him, or was she the lifeline he needed?

Stacy Eaton – Tangled in Tinsel: When an unexpected visitor shows up at Casey’s house a few days before Christmas, her future and past collide.

J.L. Campbell – Cupid’s Gift: Two single parents have their lives turned inside out by the antics of a four-footed ball of fluff named Maddox.

Denise Devine – Run from the Night: A strange encounter on a country trail, a body bag and a relentless stalker – Julie Stark was in the wrong place at the wrong time and now she’s running for her life.

ABSOLUTELY FREE - Get your copy today! To view details, click on the link below.

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~*~






Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Sweet & Sassy Summertime for 99 Cents!

The lazy, hazy days of summer are here!

Days filled with lemon yellow sunshine, nights of velvety warmth… summertime is the season of love. Romantic tales filled with memorable characters, these nine binge-worthy books will sweep you away like a summer breeze.


Only 99 cents at AMAZON

FREE on Kindle Unlimited

STILL WATERS: Alyssa Bailey, USA Today Bestselling Author: When city ideals meet country tradition, the summer heat is the least of their worries.

WEDDING BELL BLUES: Susanne Mathews, International Bestselling Author: The wedding may be canceled, but the honeymoon's on!

MAEVE: Josie Riviera, USA Today Bestselling Author: He’s all business. She loves to laugh. When business conflicts with pleasure, what could possibly go wrong?

LISA: Denise Devine, USA Today Bestselling Author: When Lisa’s life crashes, she returns to Enchanted Island. Is true love waiting in this idyllic place from her childhood?

HOPE: Aileen Fish, USA Today Bestselling Author: Will Always Hopeful find her Sir Galahad?

JUDE: Taylor Lee, USA Today Bestselling Author: An arrogant, go-it-alone homicide detective and a quirky intelligence analyst team up to solve a murder during the Summer Solstice Celebration.

LADY IN DISTRESS: Katy Walters, USA Today Bestselling Author: Could he protect her, would she continue refusing him? Little does he realize the height of passion, or the depth of terror that lay before them.

~*~

A Scene from LISA



“I promise to be home by midnight, and I’ll only have one drink. I’m not going to buss up,” Lisa said, using Shakara’s Bahamian slang for “get drunk.”

The lines in Elsie’s brow deepened with concern. “I worry about you going down to Nigel’s. That place has had too many police calls.” She shook her head. “It’s the tourists staying at the resorts causing all the trouble—getting drunk and starting fights. You be careful. Call me when you’re leaving and make sure Nigel finds someone to escort you and your friends to your cars. I don’t want you girls walking alone through the parking lot after dark.”

“I will, Auntie. Don’t worry.”

Lisa took the keys and headed out to the car. Elsie didn’t know she’d been communicating with a total stranger by email and had planned to meet him there. She thought Lisa had coordinated a “girl’s night out” with a few people to meet at Nigel’s.

I’m over thirty and I can’t tell my aunt the real story about what I’m doing.

Why couldn’t she be honest with Elsie? The truth didn’t make any sense!

“Is this absolutely the most totally brainless stunt I have ever pulled or what? I should have my head examined.” She tossed her wristlet onto the passenger seat, worrying about meeting City Boy. He could be a rapist or a serial killer for all she knew. The thought produced goosebumps on her arms. Maybe she shouldn’t go after all...

Wait a minute. This is Enchanted Island, not West Palm Beach. Stop with the scary thoughts.

First of all, she knew Nigel personally and had known him most of her life. He ran a reputable establishment and didn’t tolerate troublemakers—which were usually tourists. Second, she had no intention of leaving with “City Boy” and going somewhere alone with him. Third, if he tried anything inappropriate and she resisted, the locals would step in. The most likely scenario, however, would be that she’d meet up with a decent guy and have a nice time.

With that thought in mind, she slid in, shoved the key into the ignition, and drove out of the driveway.

Elsie had mentioned seeing a clip on the nightly news about a tropical storm brewing. If it stayed on its current path, it would hit the island by the weekend. She breathed a sigh of relief, glad she didn’t have to worry about that tonight.

At Nigel’s, Lisa stood at the door and scanned the full room, looking for a man in a red shirt. She noticed a group of islanders wearing “rasta tams” over their dreads—crocheted hats with red, green, black, and yellow stripes. They congregated around a large table in the corner, eating conch chowder and warm Johnny Cake with butter. The aroma hovered in the bar, making her hungry for the chowder, Nigel’s signature menu item.

She waved to Nigel behind the rectangular bar. His dark skin glistened under the lights, his graying hair, shorn close to his head, matched his salt and pepper beard. He patted a spot on the bar, signaling he wanted her to take the empty chair. She smiled and sat down, tucking the skirt of her long dress underneath her. She’d worn an ankle-length dress tonight in royal blue with cap sleeves and a round neckline. Shakara had crafted new pieces of jewelry for her; a heart-shaped pendant made from Larimar on a long sterling silver chain with matching teardrop earrings. The sky-blue gemstone marbled with white contrasted beautifully against the dark fabric of her dress. She’d left her long hair flowing and made a headband out of the red ribbon.

Nigel smiled, revealing a new gold tooth in the front of his mouth. “Ha it go, gyal? Whatcha drinkin’?”

“Hi, Nigel. I’ll take a Coke for now. I’m meeting someone here.”

“A Coke?” He laughed. “Muddasik dred! You can’t ha no fun tha way.” He set a wine glass in front of her and filled it with Jamaican Red Label wine. “First one is on da house.”

She thanked him and sipped it appreciatively. Perhaps she needed a little wine to settle her nerves. Uncertainty had set in again and worrisome imaginings were getting the best of her.

What if this guy is merely trolling for some hot babe to hop into bed with him?

She shuddered and stared into her wine glass, once again getting second thoughts about this “blind date.”

She glanced up and saw a handsome man with short blond hair sitting at the bar wearing a red shirt printed with gold palm fronds. Could he be the one? He looked to be the right age, but she didn’t recognize him. If he’d lived on the island for a while, she would have surely seen him somewhere.

He smiled at her. She smiled back. He picked up his drink and walked over, sliding onto the seat of the empty barstool next to her.

“Well, hello there,” he said in a deep, sexy drawl.

“Hello, City Boy,” she replied, hoping he understood. If not... “I’m Island Girl.”

“You can call me Darren.” His brows rose in amusement, his smile widening. “So, you’re Island Girl, huh? What’s your real name, or don’t you give it out when you’re working a place like this?”

What?

Okay, so maybe this guy wasn’t the right one. Maybe the red shirt was just an unfortunate coincidence…

She clutched her wine glass, ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. “Are you meeting someone here at eight o’clock?”

“Yeah,” Darren said and leaned toward her, sliding his hand across the small of her back. “I’ve been waiting all night to meet someone like you.”

Irritated by his boldness, she pulled his hand away. “Please, don’t do that.”

“Geez, you’re pretty uptight for a girl who came here looking to get picked up.”

“Look, I’m not uptight and I didn’t come here to get picked up. I’m sorry if I gave you that impression. Now, if you’ll excuse me…”

She grabbed her purse and slid off the barstool. “Thanks for the wine,” she said to Nigel. He tried to pour her another glass, but she placed her hand over the top of it and shook her head. “I’m leaving.” As soon as she got home she planned to delete every email from City Boy and block him, too!

“You’re leaving?” Darren stretched out his arm to block her way. “Why, do you want to go somewhere more romantic? All right, let’s go.” He slid off his barstool and chugged his drink.

She pushed her chair aside and sidestepped him. “Didn’t you hear me the first time? I’m leaving, but not with you. Goodbye.

“Ah, come on.” He tried to put his arm around her, but she pushed him away. “Look, we’ll go to my suite and I’ll order Champagne. Strawberries. Chocolate. Whatever it takes, okay?” Obviously, he’d done this sort of thing before. He’d deciphered her refusal as an act to get him to offer her more.

“Stop it.” She backed away, ready to shove him if he tried to touch her again. “Get away from me. I’m not going anywhere with you.”

From the corner of her eye, she saw Nigel watching, his bushy brows dipping with concern. He pulled his phone from under the bar and dialed 911.

“C’mon, babe.” Darren moved close and slid his arms around her. “I’ll show you a good time.”

She was about to give him a knee in the groin when suddenly a long, powerful arm slid past her and gripped the man by the front of his shirt, lifting him off the floor.

What the...

She turned and saw Shawn glowering at her harasser. He wore a Ralph Lauren polo shirt in solid red.

“Get your hands off her…”

Darren began to shout colorful curses and swing his fists wildly, but Shawn, having long arms and the advantage of being sober, easily blocked every blow.

Things were happening so fast, Lisa barely got out of the way.

A crowd began to form around the incident, some cheering on the altercation, others trying to break it up.

Shawn shoved Darren away. “Stay away from her or I’ll—”

“She came on to me! She’s mine!” Darren tried to level a punch to Shawn’s face, but Shawn smacked it away.

“Break it up, people. Move aside!” Duane Hall, the police officer on duty tonight—and Nigel’s cousin on his mother’s side—elbowed his way through the crowd and pulled the men apart. He glared at the drunk. “Ah-ha, so it’s you again. I warned you about fighting last night and da night before. Now I’m going to lock you up. You’re under arrest.”

Darren’s face turned red and he began to spit obscenities as Duane read him his rights.

Nigel slipped his phone into the front pocket of his orange-flowered shirt. “Duane, how did you get here so fast?”

The husky, island-born cop slapped his cuffs on the drunken man. “I was sitting in my cruiser in da parking lot, waiting for da trouble to start.” He shook his finger at Nigel. “You gotta get better customers in dis place. It’s a disgrace!”

As an age-old argument between Nigel and Duane ensued, Shawn grabbed Lisa by the hand, pulling her through the barroom and out the back door into the moonless night. Outside, the police cruiser’s red and blue lights flashed brightly, looking like a UFO in the parking lot.

“Where are we going,” she shouted, running to keep up.

He sounded angry. “Away from here!”

“Wait a minute.” She jerked on his hand to make him halt. “Are you City Boy or are your red shirt and your appearance in the bar at eight o’clock simply a coincidence?”

He spun around. “What do you think?”

She gasped and snatched her hand away. “Well, if you are, why didn’t you tell me this when we first met?”

“I didn’t know it myself until I walked into Nigel’s and saw the red ribbon in your hair. I couldn’t believe it. Then I saw you getting mauled by a drunken tourist. Whatever possessed you to talk to that jerk?”

“He had a red shirt on,” she argued in her own defense. “At first, I thought he was the person who had been emailing me.”

“He’s a weasel!” Shawn towered over her. “I doubt he’s ever read a poem in his life, much less written something that rhymes. You should have seen right through him.”

“I did! He wouldn’t take no for an answer.”

“I can see why.” He grabbed her hand and started walking toward the beach. The loud, systematic roar of the waves rushing toward shore and back out to sea should have calmed her, but Shawn’s reply made her angrier than before.

“What do you mean by that?”

He stopped next to a row of tall palms, their trunks wound with strings of clear lights. “You’re beautiful and sexy in that dress. Every guy in the bar couldn’t stop looking at you.”

She rolled her eyes. “They all know me, Shawn.”

“Yeah, and they all want to know you better!”

“What. Is. Your. Problem!?”

He grabbed her by the forearms and drew her close. She tried to pull away by stepping backward but instead slammed her back against a palm tree.

“You want to know what my problem is?” He drew his face close to hers. “It’s simple. I’ve never been a jealous man, but when I saw you in the bar with that guy and he was trying to put his hands all over you, I had all I could do to keep from ripping his head off.” His eyes pierced hers with hurt and confusion. “Look, I know we haven’t known each other long, but I don’t want to be friends anymore. Do you understand? I want to be the one.”

Get your copy now at Amazon!

~*~