Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review and Giveaway: Amish Proverbs by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Amish Proverbs is a peaceful and inspiring book, perfect for reading when you need a little pick-me-up, when you want a quiet reality check, or when you simply need to sit down and relax.

The book is a perfect gift book, as it is a small hard-bound book with a beautiful glossy color cover. It contains numerous full-color photographs like the one shown on the cover (I found them all to be peaceful and very enjoyable to look at), and is filled with wonderful Amish proverbs that fall into the following categories: Time, Money, Faith, Children & Family, In Word & Deed, Work Ethic, Handling Adversity, Education, Community, Character, and Just For Fun. Each section begins with a touching story from real-life people that illustrates just what the section is all about. The story is then followed by Amish proverbs that are appropriate for that section.

Some of my favorite proverbs from the book:
~ Don't hurry, don't worry, do your best, leave the rest. (p. 14)
~ When I have nothing left but God, then I find that God is all I need. (p. 55)
~ Parents who are afraid to put their foot down usually have children who step on their toes. (p. 73)
~ Those who fear the future are likely to fumble the present. (p. 105)
~ The secret to getting ahead is getting started. (p. 120)
~ Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly. (p. 137)

Copyright © 2010. All rights reserved.


Part of the fun of this book is thinking back about some of my own family's proverbs, like:

~ Treat others as you want to be treated
~ If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all
~ Winning isn't everything, it is important to have fun

Want to win a copy of this beautiful and inspiring book? Good! The publisher sent me an extra copy to share with one lucky reader. See details at the bottom of this post for how to enter...


Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom from the Simple Life
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Publisher: Revell (August 1, 2010) ~ 205 pages
Non-fiction / Inspiration

Edition Reviewed: Hardback - Review and giveaway copies received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!


About the Book:
Simplify your life with Amish wisdom

Through firsthand research and personal relationships, Suzanne Woods Fisher has collected more than 200 proverbs that uncover the rich heritage, folklore, faith, values, history, and essence of the Plain People. These proverbs serve as teaching tools and maxims for practical living--but they're not just for the Amish. They're for anyone who seeks God's wisdom and truth for everyday circumstances.

Ranging from the simple to the profound, from the serious to the humorous, these sayings will stick with you through life's joys and sorrows. With beautiful full-color photos throughout, Amish Proverbs is the perfect gift for any occasion.

From the Book Tour:

Simplify Your Life with Amish Wisdom
Insights into the Amish lifestyle of peace, simplicity and contentment

Spend enough time with the Amish, as author Suzanne Woods Fisher has, and you’ll hear them repeat a catchy turn of phrase or short words of wisdom, like “Good character like good soup is usually homemade,” or “Adopt the pace of nature; her secret is patience.” Suspended in these phrases are age-old lessons about how to live wisely and please God. Reiterated day after day, the proverbs are learned by heart and help guide the lives of the Amish, reminding them of what’s truly important.

Fisher has spent a great deal of time with the Amish and has collected more than 200 proverbs that uncover the rich heritage, folklore, faith, values, history, and essence of the Plain People, which she shares in her new book
Amish Proverbs.

These proverbs cover all aspects of life, from finances to faith to family, as well as overcoming life’s frustrations. Serving as teaching tools and maxims for practical living, they're not just for the Amish. Proverbs help point us all toward wisdom, toward good judgment, toward God’s teachings. They're for anyone who seeks God's wisdom and truth for everyday circumstances.

Some of the proverbs that readers will find in Amish Proverbs include:
o "It is better to give others a piece of your heart than a piece of your mind."
o "You are only poor when you want more than you have."
o "A child can read a parent’s character before he can read the alphabet."
o "Bibles that are coming apart usually belong to people who are not."
o "Those who fear the future are likely to fumble the present."
o "Kissing wears out, cooking don’t."
o "If you sense your faith is unraveling, go back to where you dropped the thread of obedience."
o "You only live once, but if you work it right, once is enough."
o "A smile is a curve that can straighten out a lot of things."

Ranging from the simple to the profound, from the serious to the humorous, these sayings will stick with readers through life's joys and sorrows and bring some of the Amish wisdom to everyday life.

With beautiful full-color photos throughout, Amish Proverbs is the perfect gift for any occasion.

About the Author: (from the book tour with Revell)

is the CBA bestselling author of The Choice, The Waiting, Amish Peace, and Amish Proverbs. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, W. D. Benedict, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Benedict eventually became publisher of Christianity Today magazine. Suzanne is the host of a radio show called Amish Wisdom and her work has appeared in many magazines. She lives in California.

Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group, offers practical books that bring the Christian faith to everyday life. They publish resources from a variety of well-known brands and authors, including their partnership with MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) and Hungry Planet.

For more information, visit www.RevellBooks.com.


Giveaway Details:

1. Share one of your own family's proverbs. (1 entry daily, must leave a different proverb per entry!!)

2. Post a link to the giveaway on your blog and/or Facebook and report it here (1 entry each)

3. Become a follower on Google Friend Connect, Twitter, Facebook and/or Networked Blogs (links are on the right hand sidebar) and leave a comment here (or "remind" me you are already a follower so I know you want to be included in this giveaway) (1 entry each)

The drawing will be held September 12th. Winner: I will send you an email, please reply with your address so I can send you the book!

This giveaway is open to residents within the United States, no PO Boxes.

~ Wendi

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fracture: A New Way To Display Your Photographs!

I have just learned about a very interesting new way to showcase favorite photos... printed on glass! As described on their site (www.fractureme.com) it is a photo and frame in one. They claim it is three easy steps, and it really does look easy: 1. Upload photos, 2. Customize it, 3. Hang it up (should have an order step in there too!).

Why am I telling you about Fracture? First off, I think it is a really neat concept, especially as I LOVE taking pictures of my family and finding creative ways to show them off. Also, if I am among the first 100 bloggers to post about it, I may be chosen to receive a free Fracture to review here on Wendi's Book Corner!

So what exactly is Fracture?
Looks:
* Vibrant, rich and glossy colors
* Perfectly flat glass surface
* The "HD-TV look but for photos"

Customization:

* Because the entire frame is printed digitally, there are potentially limitless ways you can make your Fracture unique
* While we offer a variety of border options to add depth and flavor to your photos, keep your eyes open for an ever-growing list of options in the future

Safety:
*Safer than an ordinary glass frame and more shatter-proof
* No sharp edges

Economy
* No need to go to multiple stores to print, frame and hang your photos - a Fracture is the economical one step solution.
* When you buy a Fracture, you don't need anything else - not even screws to mount it with.

Mounting

* Arrives ready to be mounted with everything you need

Life-Span
* Images won't fade
* Guaranteed to last even under the worst conditions at least 3-5 years (continuous exposure to full sunlight)
* Because the print is actually on the backside of the glass, it is never vulnerable to scratching so you can windex as much as you like

About Fracture: (from their site)
How did all this silliness start? During the summer of 2008, Alex and Abhi were doing non-profit work in Swaziland, a tiny little country on the south eastern edge of Africa (seriously). During much of their down-time, they got to thinking about things they cared for the most, things like art, entrepreneurship and peanut butter. While pondering these deep thoughts, they realized that the concept of art and art display had pretty much remained the same for hundreds of years. Then Abhi said to Alex: "…and we shall call it… Fracture!". Ok, so we skipped a bunch of details, but eventually after lots (lots) of brainstorming and a bit of action, we were sold on the idea and scrambled to make it a reality. We stuck with the name because it really embodied the sense of surprise, irony and story-telling that went hand-in-hand with our vision for the future. Since then, Fracture has grown and changed in dozens of ways as we learn and try to adapt to the real needs of our customers and our market. Thats a philosophy we strive to keep alive - even when it means reinventing the company for the third time. Today, Fracture's vision is clear: to make printing as customized and personal as the pictures themselves and to make decorating as easy and exciting as taking the picture was.

Check out Fracture online:


Disclaimer:
I wrote this blog post in response to a TwitterMoms RAMBO alert, making me eligible to get a Fracture picture frame for review. You can learn more about Fracture at http://www.fractureme.com.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Toddler Time: Busy Beetles Never Ending Puzzle

What a great teaching toy! The colorful and crazy Busy Beetles help children learn different things like math, colors, sorting, etc. While the package says the puzzle is for ages 6 and up, my 3 1/2 year old has had a great time sorting the colors and counting the pieces. He also loved helping me put them in colorful patterns... we also had a lot of fun simply connecting ALL the pieces together.

While this is great for kids, I plan to spill the Busy Beetles onto a large wooden tray and put it in the middle of the coffee table at our next gathering to entertain the adults as well.


Busy Beetles: Never-ending Puzzle
by DaMert Company

Ages: 6+ (I'd say 3+)
Toys / Games / Puzzles

Edition Reviewed: Used container I picked up for $1.99 at a local thrift shop!


About the Puzzle:

From the Container:

How Many Can You Connect?
* Link them into wild patterns or endless chains!
* Eight different puzzling shapes snap together!
* Try to connect just 10, then 20, then all of them!
* Includes 60 interlocking beetles!

From DaMert:

Busy Beetles™ is a unique form of tessellation, or tiling with mosaic patterns. How many can you connect? Kids learn about symmetry while having fun. For ages 6 & up, but challenging for all. 64 colorful pieces in a great storage jar.
Ages 6 & up.

About DaMert Company: (from their site)

The DaMert Company was founded in San Rafael, California in 1973 by Fred DaMert. After returning from Vietnam and as he was finishing his undergraduate degree in Humanities & Philosophy at San Francisco State University, he bought a prism at a local science museum and was captivated by the intensity of the colors it projected.

Knowing it would be enjoyed by many people, Fred set out to produce a large hand-crafted prism. Quite by accident DaMert bent a partially cured bar prism into a crescent shape and found that it projected an amazing curved spectrum. His first product, The Spectrarc Window Prism, was born.

After spending two years perfecting an esoteric production process and patenting the optic, he wandered into what was to be his first account. It was a small new shop on College Avenue in Berkeley, California called The Nature Company. The Spectrarc was an immediate best seller, and success quickly followed with sales to museum, specialty gift and toy stores and to prestigious national catalogs.

DaMert Company now has a collection of over 100 products and is a leader in the specialty market. Its innovative product development department and outside collaborations has earned it a reputation for providing unique, top quality products. DaMert Company works with many outside inventors and artists to provide creative partnerships for new product development.

One such partnership has been with internationally acclaimed nature artist Dan Gilbert. When he came to DaMert Company with a concept for a triangular matching puzzle it was a jewel in the rough. Product Development worked closely with Dan to refine the concept and the Triazzle was launched. DaMert Company and The Dan Gilbert Art Group continue to maintain a dynamic relationship enabling them to produce exciting, innovative products for adults and children of all ages.

DaMert Company's marketing and overall business strategy is based on creating excellence in its niche, being an innovative product leader, and providing affordable quality products that entertain, educate and endure. The company currently provides its collection to over 5,000 retailers nationwide and to distributors in 43 countries.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

For a Good Cause: Snap4Kids Celebrity Cookbook

Please Read This!! Here is a chance to support a great cause and get some great recipes (over 125) that were contributed by over 100 romance authors!

This morning, I received a wonderful email from Jennie Morey, one of the first author's I interviewed here on Wendi's Book Corner (her book The Secret Soldier was also one of my first book reviews)! She shared with me that she had the opportunity to contribute favorite recipes to a great charity called Snap4Kids.

Snap4Kids has created a Celebrity Cookbook called The Heart Of Cooking:
Some of the best ROMANCE authors in the business have been kind enough to contribute their very own, personal recipes to our celebrity cookbook, entitled, "The HEART of cooking." Each recipe is accompanied with a short blurb about the author. Many of the recipes have personal stories as to how they came about.

"The HEART of Cooking," contains over 125 recipes from over a 100 of your favorite authors and compiled them into an attractive keepsake cookbook.

Snap4kids will begin shipping their one-of-a-kind cookbooks on November 1st for $8.50. To purchase visit our Celebrity Cookbook page.

All proceeds will go to children with special needs, especially the physically challenged, for medical and therapeutic equipment, as well as assistive technology, not covered by health insurance, or in the case of no health insurance.Order your copy today, as only 3,500 will be printed this year.



The Heart of Cooking
Compiled by

140+ Recipes
Celebrity Cookbook / Romance Authors


About Snap4Kids:
Our Mission is assisting families of children with special needs, especially the physically challenged, in helping their child reach his/her maximum potential through information, referral, education, and modest grants for medical and therapeutic equipment, not covered by health insurance or in the case of no health insurance. By helping children with special needs in reaching their maximum potential, we are giving them the greatest gift that we can.


Contributing Authors:
Below you will find some of the authors that have contributed their very own personal recipes to our celebrity cookbook fundraising project. (Click on an author's name to be taking to their website.)
AlTonya Washington

Amanda McIntyre
Amy J. Fetzer
Anita Bunkley
Ann Roth
Anne DeFee
Barbara Delinsky
Beverly Barton
Beverly JenkinsC J Carmichael
Cara Colter
Carrie Turansky
Cheryl St. John
Cheryl Wolverton
Christina Hollis
Christine Merrill
Christine RimmerClaire Baxter
Curtiss Ann Matlock
Dana Marton
Deanna Raybourn
Deb KastnerDiane Chamberlain
Elaine Overton
Elizabeth Lane
Ellyn Bache
Fionna Lowe
Gail Barrett
Gail Martin
Gayle Wilson
Helen Brenna
Holly Jacobs
Hope Tarr
Irene HannonJ. T. Ellison
Jacqueline Diamond
Jane Toombs
Janice SimsJean Brashear
Jenness Walker
Jennie Adams
Jennifer Greene
Jennifer Morey
Jill Sorenson
Joanne RockJulie Cohen
Kara Lennox
Karen Gatt
Karen Harper
Karen Rose Smith
Karen van der ZeeKat Martin
Kathleen O’Reilly
Kay ThomasKimberly Lang
Kristan Higgins
Laura Wright
Lauren Nichols
Lee McKenzie
Leigh Bale
Linda Conrad
Lindsay McKenna
Lisa Harris
Livia J. Washburn
Lois Greiman
Loree Lough
Lori Foster (L. L. Foster)
Lorna Michaels
Lucy Monroe
Lyn Cote
Lynn Isenberg
Mallory Rush
Margo Maguire
Marin Thomas
Mary Connealy
Mary Jo Putney
Megan HartMelanie Milburne
Meredith Efken
Merline Lovelace
Merrillee Whren
Michelle Douglas
Michele Dunaway
Michelle Styles
Natalie Anderson
Nicola CornickNicola Marsh
Patricia McLinnPeggy Webb
Rachelle McCalla
RaeAnne Thayne
Rebecca York (aka Ruth Glick)
Roberta Gellis
Sarah ElliottSarah Mallory
Sarah Morgan
Sheree WhiteFeather
Stacey KayneStaness Jonekos
Stephanie Draven (Stephanie Dray)
Stevi Mittman
Susan Hubbard
Susan Lyons (Fox)
Susan Mallery
Susanna Carr
Toni Blake
Victoria Bylin
Victoria Chancellor
Virginia Smith
Wendy Corsi Staub

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Updates on My Disney's Wonderful World of Reading Book List: Can You Confirm Any Titles For Me?


For about 5 years I have been working on collecting the Disney Wonderful World of Reading Books for our family's library.  The boys LOVE the bright colorful pictures and the fact that they know a lot of the characters.  Plus, they are a perfect length for reading at bed time.

Today, I spent a few hours updating my original post.  I found two other sites with fairly complete lists, I copied my list and theirs into Excel and proceeded to organize and cross-reference all three to get the most accurate one I can find.  

I'm still missing around 90 books (listed below), and would love to hear if you can confirm any of the titles.

101 Dalmatians Treasure Hunters
A Scare for Mr Toad
Aladdin and His Wonderful Lamp
Aladdin and the Sly Magician
Aladdin and the White Baby Camel (aka Aladin and the White Camel)
Bambi 2
Basil the Great Mouse Detective
Beauty and the Beast - Enchanted Chrstimas
Bolt
Brave
Brer Rabbit and the Pot of Gold
Brer Rabbit Plays Some Tricks
Cars 2
Cars Toon: Mater's Tall Tales
Cars: Look Out for Mater
Country Mouse, City Mouse
Donald at the Seashore
Donald Duck and the Magic Stick
Donald Duck's Bad Day
Donald Duck's Big Surprise
Donald Duck's Birthday
Duck Tales: Christmas at the North Pole
Dumbo and the Circus Train
Dumbo on Land, on Sea in the Air
Farmer Mickey
Ferdinand and the Robbers
Finding Nemo
Finding Nemo: Bruce Breaks Loose
Fool's Gold
Goofy and the Enchanted Castle
Goofy and the Magic Fish
Goofy and the Miller
Goofy and the Pirate Treasure
Goofy in the Wild West
Goofy On the Hillside
Goofy the Gardener Makes Up His Mind
Goofy's Book of Colors
Goofy's Gags
Goofy's Neighbor's
Henny Penny and the Big Bad Wolf
Hiawatha and the Big Flood
Hiawatha the Brave Hunter
How Cinderella's Mice Tricked Lucifer the Cat
Ice Age
Ice Age 2
Jungle Cubs: Bee a Friend
Lady and the Tramp II - Scamps Adventure
Li'l Wolf and the Three Wishes
Little Hiawatha
Meet the Robinsons
Merry Christmas Uncle Scrooge McDuck
Mickey and the Magic Cloak
Mickey's Christmas Carol
Mickey's Counting Book
Mulan II
Peter and the Wolf
Pinocchio & the Isle Of Fun
Pocahontas and the Baby Eagle
Pumbaa Runs Away from Home
Quasimodo the the Rescue
Return to Oz
Robin Hood Wins Again
Scamp & the Kitten
Sinbad the Pearl Diver
Sinbad the Sailor
Snow White & the Messy Dwarfs
Snow White Helps the Seven Dwarfs
Tall & Short a Book of Opposites
Tangled
The Black Hole
The Hare & the Tortoise
The Haunted House
The Love Bug
The Mice and the Circus
The Mickey Mouse Birthday Book
The Mickey Mouse Magic Book
The New Adventures of Mr Toad
The Princess and the Frog
The Princess Who Never Laughed
The Rescuers Trouble in Devil's Bayou
The Runaway Wolf Cub
The Small One
Tinker Bell
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure
Tinker Bell's Secret Adventure
Toy Story 3
Up
Winnie the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh and the Birthday Expedition

I currently have a bunch of duplicate titles, and may start a page somewhere to list them in case anyone wants to buy them.  :)

In the mean time, I will continue my Disney's Wonderful World of Reading quest...

~ Wendi

Review: Desperate Deeds by Dee Davis

I simply love this series, and book three did NOT disappoint! Quite the opposite - I couldn't put it down, and Desperate Deeds literally kept me up at night (not only could I not stop reading, but I thought I heard noises in the house, and I was just certain that someone was going to jump out of the closet at me!). Not only was I captivated by the ongoing story of the A-Tac team, but I got to continue learning more about the lives of the team members. This was Tyler's story, and we meet Owen, who isn't quite what he seems... or is he?

Tyler is the team's munitions and demolition expert - she is great at building and disarming explosives. She is also the daughter of a retired General, has had multiple step-mothers, and has a half-brother she is still close to. She is also the A-Tac team member involved in helping with the transport of some prototype parts for nuclear weapons and the sole survivor when the transport is ambushed.

With the knowledge that Tyler survived the ambush and that there is a mole in the team, Tyler becomes a suspect. Feeling bruised from the ambush and grilled by the powers that be, Tyler has a passionate one-night-stand with the handsome Owen Wakefield, the teams contact from the British team's MI-5. Little does Tyler know that the one-night-stand is going to become a temporary partner in her upcoming adventure in stopping a possible nuclear disaster and finding the mole within the A-Tac team.

Owen has a troubled past with MI-5, and after his one-night-stand with Tyler, he is unexpectedly assigned to provide assistance to the A-Tac team, and to uncover the mole within their group. All the evidence points to Tyler, but as he works with her and finds himself becoming more involved, he finds it harder to believe that she is a traitor.

As numerous attempts are made to kill Tyler, she and Owen must fight for their lives as they fight against the clock to stop a disaster from happening. Their growing relationship is threatened when the team finds out that Owen may not be all that he appears to be, but Owen vows to stay and complete the mission he began.

One thing that I thought was super: the continuing undercurrent running through the entire series is that there is a mole in the team who is sabotaging the missions, and YES, you find out who it is in book three... and boy was I surprised! Of course, it made complete sense when I look back, but I thought for sure I knew exactly who it was, so it was really fun to have a few more twists and turns to keep me on my toes while reading. Not only do we find out who the mole is, the team finds out that there is a much bigger threat out there, and as of the end of the book, they are only one step closer to knowing exactly what that threat is.

This was the third book in the A-Tac series, and I loved it just as much as the first two, and I love that each book picks up right where the one before it left off. Note - it can be read as a stand-alone book... but then you'd miss out on the great story of Nash and Annie in book one, and Drake and Madeline in book two. Lucky for us, it sounds like three more will be joining the series in 2011 and 2012, can't wait!



Desperate Deeds (A-Tac, Book 3)
by Dee Davis

Publisher: Forever (August 2, 2010) ~ 400 pages
Fiction / Romantic Suspense


About the Book:
As the demolitions expert for A-Tac, a black-ops CIA unit masquerading as Ivy League faculty, Tyler Hanson has two great loves: literature and explosives. She lives by the motto “duty first” and doesn’t have time for personal attachments . . . until a steamy one-night stand turns into a professional partnership.
BURNED BY BETRAYAL

When Tyler meets Owen Wakefield, a handsome British operative, she seduces him with no intention of ever seeing him again. But then the sexy Brit is brought into A-Tac, and despite Tyler’s efforts to keep her distance, she finds herself falling for him. Trusting him.

Owen seems too good to be true—and he is. He’s hiding his true motives and identity, and no matter how he feels about Tyler, he can’t keep her secrets. One of A-Tac’s members has turned traitor and helped terrorists to hijack a shipment of nuclear weapons. As witnesses start dying and evidence starts disappearing, Owen and Tyler must race to find the mole—and prevent a final, cataclysmic act of destruction.


Enter A-Tac and find out more about the special forces team and their missions!

Excerpt:




About the Author: (from the publisher's site)



Dee Davis has a BA in Political Science and History, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. During a ten-year career in public relations, she spent three years on the public speaking circuit, edited two newsletters, wrote three award winning public service announcements, did television and radio commercials, starred in the Seven Year Itch, taught college classes, lobbied both the Texas State Legislature and the US Congress, and served as the director of two associations.

Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything In Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she has sold eighteen books and three novellas, including Chain Reaction and A Match Made on Madison.

She’s lived in Austria and traveled in Europe extensively. And although she now lives in Manhattan she still calls Texas home.

Edition Reviewed: ARC - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Review: Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Another adrenaline-filled and action-packed passionate romantic suspense from author Dee Davis that was incredibly hard to put down. I loved the first book because it was so easy to love the main characters as well as the story. But I think I loved this one even better... And for very similar reasons. The characters seemed so genuine, the locale provided quite the adventure, and while encompassing its own story, Dark Deceptions built on an idea of a possible leak within the team from the first book. It was so easy to get wrapped up in the story!

Dangerous Desires' storyline centers around Drake Flynn, A-Tac's Extraction Expert, and his intense attraction to Madeline Roux, the woman he and the team are "extracting" from Colombia.

It turns out that Madeline has information about a massive stash of illegal weapons that the CIA wants destroyed. Once destroyed, the team will bring Madeline back to the United States to be debriefed and to see what additional information she can provide on di Silva, the head of a massive drug operation, and Ortiz, the real muscle behind di Silva's operation which has been branching into illegal weapons sales.

Soon after the mission is started, it looks like someone has once again tried to sabotage the team, and Drake must split from the team to go after Madeline when she decides to escape on her own.

The second book by Dee Davis includes the same A-Tac team members from her first book, and adds a few new faces, including Madeline, and Tucker...

At times I caught myself holding my breath, or even smiling, but I never once grew bored. Taking place primarily in Colombia, I almost felt like I was there myself while reading the descriptions of the towns and landscapes. I got to explore the ruins, and experience explosions and the need to survive and win one for the good-guys right along with the characters Dee Davis has so cleverly created.

A powerful story that grips the reader and draws you farther into the A-Tac team. This was the second book in the A-Tac series, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Note - it can be read as a stand-alone book... but then you'd miss out on the great story of Nash and Annie in book one. Stay tuned for a review of book three in the series, and it sounds like three more will be joining the series in 2011 and 2012.

Dangerous Desires (A-Tac, Book 2)
by Dee Davis

Publisher: Forever (July 1, 2010) ~ 384 pages
Fiction / Romantic Suspense


About the Book:

As the extractions expert for A-Tac, an elite CIA black ops unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college, Drake Flynn knows how to survive behind enemy lines. But he’s about to meet one adversary he can’t subdue . . . or resist.

A RACE FOR SURVIVAL

Stranded in the Colombian jungle after a mission goes bad, Drake has only one objective: evade the mercenaries hot on his trail and deliver “the package” to U.S. officials. But “the package” has a mind of her own, and she has no intention of trading one set of captors for another. Madeline Reynard is beautiful, headstrong, and hell-bent on escape after years as a crime lord’s pawn. She’ll risk everything for freedom, even if it means deceiving the dark, handsome soldier who now holds her life in his hands.

Drake has been burned too many times to let a woman manipulate him, especially a secretive one like Madeline. Even so, they cannot deny the attraction between them. Now as enemy forces close in, Drake and Madeline must trust each other with their lives—or face certain death.


Excerpt:

San Mateo Prison, Serrania Del Baudo, Colombia

Madeline Reynard squinted in the bright light. After three days of total darkness, the dappled sunlight hurt her eyes. She flinched as the guard shoved her forward, losing her balance and careening into the exercise yard.

“I’ve got you,” Andrés said, his voice raspy, his English heavily accented as he steadied her. “I’ve been worried.”

“They put me in solitary,” Madeline whispered. “I have no idea why.”

“Sometimes there is no reason,” Andrés shrugged. “The main thing is that you’re out now. Are you all right?”

“I’m fine. It’s getting easier.” This was third time she’d been relegated to the dank, windowless cell in the far recesses of the prison. “I just try to think of somewhere else and let my mind carry me away.” She’d spent a good portion of her childhood locked in a closet only slightly smaller than the solitary cell. Her father had clearly believed the adage ‘out of sight, out of mind’. But the experience was not without value. If Madeline could survive living like that, she could survive anything. Even San Mateo.

A place for political prisoners, the prison lacked creature comforts. In point of fact, it lacked most everything. Which meant that days loomed long, the only bright spot, the minutes spent outside under the canopy of trees. The surrounding jungle reminded her of the cypresses back home, their gnarled arms curving downward into gray-green umbrellas of whispering leaves. The bayou had meant safety. And now the Colombian jungle offered the same.

“It’s best if you find a way to separate yourself from the reality here,” Andrés was saying. He nodded toward the people scattered about the yard. It was nearly empty, this hour relegated to women and the infirm, her friend falling into the latter category. It had been a long time since she’d had a friend. There’d always been too much to hide. Too much to risk. But now—here—her past didn’t matter.

“Are you sure they didn’t hurt you?” Andrés asked, his voice colored with worry.

“I told you I’m fine,” she reiterated as they walked slowly across the yard, her muscles protesting the movement even as her mind rejoiced in her newfound freedom. “I’m just a little stiff that’s all.”

She’d met Andrés on her second day in the yard. At first, his matted hair and filthy clothes had been off-putting. But after almost a week in this hell hole, she’d been desperate for human contact.

When he’d spoken to her in his halting English, it had felt like a gift as her Spanish was limited to schoolgirl verbs and useless nouns. Which didn’t matter when she was alone in her cell, or being leered at by the guards. It didn’t take a vocabulary to interpret their catcalls. But real conversation, without English, was impossible. And it was conversation that kept the mind sharp. She’d come to need Andrés as much as she needed food and water.

Madeline closed her eyes, shutting out the small, barren exercise yard, its occupants wretched in their filth.

“You need to keep moving,” her friend said, his hand warm against her back. “It’s important to stay strong.”

“I know you’re right, but sometimes when I think about spending the rest of my life here, it doesn’t seem worth it.”

“You won’t be here forever,” he said, his tone soothing. “Someone will come for you.”

Madeline laughed, the sound harsh. “I killed a man. There’s nothing anyone can do to change that.”

“But there were extenuating circumstances.” He frowned. “That should count for something.”

“Maybe in a fair world.” She shrugged, shivering as memories flooded through her. Her sister’s screams, her fear cutting through the haze of the drugs. The big man pinning her to the wall of the flophouse in Bogotá, one hand gripping her wrist as he tore at her clothes. Madeline had acted without thinking, the gun in her hand an extension of her anger. She’d told Jenny to run, and then checked the body, cringing as she touched his lifeless skin. Then she’d tried to follow, but it was too late.

The Colombian police had found her. The man was a prominent politician. Jenny was a drug addict. No one believed Madeline’s story. Her sister disappeared, and Madeline had wound up here at San Mateo. But if she had it to do over again, she’d do the same. Her mother had made her promise. With her last breath of life.

“Take care of your sister, Maddie. She’s not strong like you.”

Madeline had only been ten, but she’d promised. And she’d kept her word. She sucked in a breath, pulling her thoughts from the past. Jenny was safe now. She had to believe that. It’s the only thing that kept her going.

“Anyway, even if it would make a difference, there’s no one to come,” Madeline said “What about you? You told me you have family. Why aren’t they trying to help you?”

“They think I’m dead.” Andrés shrugged.

“How horrible,” she said, shuddering at the thought.

“Believe me, it’s better this way.” His expression was guarded. “For them. And for me. Sometimes the truth is better left buried.”

“I suppose you’re right.” She nodded as they stopped by the far wall of the yard. “Anyway, we have each other now, right?”

His smile was gentle. “You have been a good friend. But I’m afraid all good things must come to an end.”

“Why would you say that?”

“I’m a marked man,” Andrés sighed. “My days are numbered.”

Madeline dipped her head, tears filling her eyes. She’d heard the shots fired late at night.

“The only reason I was allowed out here with you is that I was so sick. But I am better now, and that means I will be returned to my original cell. I overheard the guards,” he said. “I’m being moved back. Which means this is my last time in the yard.”

“No. I won’t accept that.” She shook her head, panic mixing with dread. “Maybe you can pretend to be sick again. Something, anything that might keep you here—with me. I…I can’t make it without you.”

“Of course you can,” Andrés said. “You’re much stronger than you know.”

“Señor?” A guard called from the doorway, his machine gun held at the ready. “Ven conmigo ahora.”

Madeline turned to the guard, then back to Andrés, heart pounding. “What does he want?”

“He wants me to come with him.” Andrés shrugged. “It’s time.”

“No. You can’t go. I can’t do this on my own.” She waved at the yard, and the guards.

“Yes, you can.” His smile was gentle, his teeth white against the dark growth of his beard. “You’re a survivor. Never forget that.”

The guard moved impatiently, his lips curled in a sneer. “¡Apurate!”

“Uno momento,” Andrés said holding up a hand. “Here, I have something for you.” He reached into his pocket and produced a grimy card. “Take this. It may be of help to you.”

She took the card, the battered face of the Queen of Hearts staring up at her. “I don’t understand.”

“If you can get this to the American Embassy, they’ll help you. No questions asked.”

“But it’s just a playing card,” she shook her head.

“Trust me,” Andrés said, closing her fingers around the card. “And keep it safe.”

“But if this truly does have some kind of significance, shouldn’t you be the one using it?”

“Señor, ahora,” the guard called, his eyes narrowing with impatience.

Madeline ignored him, her gaze locked on her friend’s. “Andrés, tell me. Why not use it yourself?”

“Because it is too late for me. I have accepted my fate. And it gives me pleasure to think that perhaps I can be of some service to you. No matter what you have done, you don’t belong here.”

“Neither do you,” she whispered, her voice fierce now. “Keep the card.”

“It is yours, my friend. I give it freely. Now I must go.” He shook his head, waving a hand toward the guard. “Use the card to find your way home, Madeline. And then forget this place ever existed.”

“I can’t do that,” she said. “Because if I did, that would mean forgetting you.”

Tears slid down her face, the first she’d shed since landing at San Mateo. She wasn’t the type to get sentimental. Andrés was right. She was a survivor. But something about the man had touched her heart. Reached a place she’d thought long dead.

And now they were taking him away.

When he reached the guard, Andrés stopped and turned, lifting a hand to say good-bye. Madeline’s heart stuttered to a stop, her breathing labored as she clung to the wall, watching as her friend disappeared into the prison.

She sank to the ground, her back sliding against the rough hewn stone of the wall, and opened her fingers, the mottled face of the Queen staring up at her. It was just a card. Unless of course she’d somehow fallen down the rabbit hole. A bubble of hysteria washed through her.

San Mateo wasn’t Wonderland. And she was no Alice. She was simply a woman who’d run out of options. Life wasn’t fair. It was as simple as that. Angrily, she dried her eyes. There were two kinds of people in this world. The ones who survived. And the ones who did not.

She’d learned that lesson long ago.

Excerpt from DARK DECEPTIONS by Dee Davis, Copyright ©2010 by Dee Davis. All rights reserved. Reprint only with permission from author. Please contact dee@deedavis.com

About the Author: (from the publisher's site)

Dee Davis has a BA in Political Science and History, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. During a ten-year career in public relations, she spent three years on the public speaking circuit, edited two newsletters, wrote three award winning public service announcements, did television and radio commercials, starred in the Seven Year Itch, taught college classes, lobbied both the Texas State Legislature and the US Congress, and served as the director of two associations.

Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything In Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she has sold eighteen books and three novellas, including Chain Reaction and A Match Made on Madison.

She’s lived in Austria and traveled in Europe extensively. And although she now lives in Manhattan she still calls Texas home.

Edition Reviewed: ARC - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Review: Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis

Filled with enough action and romance to satisfy just about any adrenaline junkie or romantic-at-heart, Dark Deceptions by Dee Davis is simply a great start to a new romantic suspense series that was hard to put down.

Comprised of a group of characters who seem to be more like a tight-knit family than members of a secret branch of the CIA posing as employees at an exclusive college, readers are sure to fall in love with each A-Tac member.

The story focuses on the team as they work to stop the assassination of a high-ranking political figure by Annie, an ex-CIA agent who was once Nash's (second-in-command of the A-Tac team) partner/lover. Readers will meet Avery (heading the A-Tac team), Nash (A-Tac second-in-command and Annie's previous partner), Tyler (Nash's current female partner within the team), Drake, Emmett, Laura, Hannah and Jason (members of the A-Tac team, each an expert in their field) as well as Tom (ex-CIA, now Homeland Security, was Nash and Annie's handler when the both worked for the CIA).

While assuming that Annie (a trained assassin and expert sniper, ex-CIA) has become a mercenary willing to commit treason, the A-Tac team soon learns that there may be more motivating Annie's actions: someone has kidnapped her young son Adam, and she will do almost anything to get him back.

Nash and the rest of the team must work with Annie to get her son back, and find out who is behind the kidnapping, while trying to determine if Annie can be trusted... Or if she has committed treason.

Bullets fly and passions are ignited as Nash and Annie are thrown back together into some very intense situations. I loved the roller-coaster of emotions that Nash and Annie went through in re-discovering each other and finding out if they could trust each other. A lot of their past comes in to play as they fight for the future, and I was not dissapointed by any of the twists the story took.

The book takes off with a bang and keeps going! I thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to the rest of the series. And best of all, there are at least two more books in the series coming out this year, and it sounds like three more will be joining the series in 2011 and 2012. Keep an eye out for upcoming reviews for Dangerous Desires and Desperate Deeds.

Dark Deceptions (A-Tac, Book 1)
by Dee Davis

Publisher: Forever; 1 edition (April 1, 2010) ~ 384 pages
Fiction / Romantic Suspense


About the Book:
A-Tac is an elite CIA unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college. Brilliant, badass, and seemingly bulletproof, the members of A-Tac are assigned to the riskiest missions and the most elusive targets.

TORN BETWEEN DUTY AND DESIRE

Covert operations expert Nash Brennon has spent the last eight years trying to forget Annie Gallagher, his former field partner and the only woman he ever loved. Annie betrayed him when he needed her most, then vanished without a trace. Now suddenly she's back in the game - this time as a suspected traitor and threat to national security.

Annie's son has been kidnapped by political terrorists. The price for his life? Assassinate a UN ambassador. When Nash and his group find her, the smoldering passion between Annie and the man she swore she'd never contact again blazes out of control. But can Nash trust her? The stakes couldn?t be higher: Their enemy's endgame is personal, and one false move could cost them their lives.


Excerpt:

Hotel Montague – Paris

“So do you think we’re ever going to feel like a normal couple?” Annie asked as they stumbled back into their hotel room, Nash’s hands cupping her breasts, his breath hot against her cheek.

“Trust me, angel, normal is overrated.” He pushed her back against the wall, his thumbs rubbing heated circles through the soft silk of her halter top. “And anyway I kind of like what we’ve got.”

“Right,” she sighed, shivering as he kissed her neck. “Sex on the run.”

“Well, it’s not like we have a lot of free time.” His mouth slanted over hers, his tongue sending fire lacing through her belly. It was always like this. Combustible. Their desire heightened by the possibility that each time could be the last.

“Maybe we should adjourn to the bedroom?” She nodded toward the doorway of the suite, and then gasped as he pushed her skirt up around her thighs.

“What’s wrong with right here. Right now?” He teased her with his fingers, the friction of satin against skin threatening instant explosion. She lifted her hips, but he pulled back, his slow smile taunting her. “Unless of course you’ve changed your mind?”

“Not on your life.” She reached up to unbutton his shirt, her fingers tracing the scars that laced his chest. Twisted mementos of their life together. “Tell me what you want,” she whispered, her breathing labored.

“You, Annie. All I ever want is you.”

“So take me,” she taunted, anticipation coiling inside her, hot and heavy. Sometimes she thought maybe she wanted something more. Something that resembled normalcy—commitment. But not now. Not in this moment. Right now all she wanted was Nash.

For a moment their passion stretched taut between them and then, trembling with the sheer power of the feelings he evoked, she arched her back, welcoming his hands and mouth as he crushed her against him. This was what she craved. What she wanted. As long as she had Nash, she could endure anything.

Anything.

“The bed…I can’t…please.” She gasped the words as they stumbled backwards, the need so intense now she thought she might die of it.

His dark eyes reflecting her passion, Nash swung her up into his arms and in two strides they were through the door, and on the bed, the cool cotton sheets a counterpoint to the heat that pulsed between them.

Annie pressed against him, her eyes riveted for a moment on the mirror across from the bed and the image of their interlocked bodies moving in tandem. Two shattered souls desperately seeking release. She sighed, and then froze as something else in the mirror moved.

A shadow detached itself from the wall, and Annie dug her nails into Nash’s back, instinct and training overriding passion in an instant. Nash’s muscles tightened in response and moving with a precision gained from years of working together, they sprang apart, a bullet smashing into the headboard between them. Annie rolled to the floor, reaching for the gun she kept strapped to her thigh. In her ardent haste she hadn’t had time to remove her weapon.

But Nash had. He’d thrown it on the table as he’d carried her to bed.

Damn it all to hell.

From her vantage point beside the bed, she couldn’t see Nash or their assailant. Which meant she needed to move. Popping up to fire a round in the direction of the shadow, she rolled out from the bed, diving for cover behind a chair as a bullet shattered a lamp just above her head.

Nash was cornered between the bed and the wall, the bed giving protection, at least for the moment, but the gunman had the advantage. He stood between them and the door, with a large wardrobe to his left blocking her from taking a clear shot.

“Well isn’t this a pickle,” their assailant said, his accent a smooth blend of American and French. She should have known. Adrian Benoit. They’d only just been in his apartment. Looks like he was returning the favor.

“Seems we’ve got ourselves a Mexican stand off,” he drawled.

“Except that none of us are Mexican,” Nash quipped. She could see him now reflected in the mirror. And when he smiled, she realized he could see her as well. Which meant he had a plan.

“Doesn’t matter,” Benoit continued. “I’ve clearly got the advantage.”

“So what, you want us to come out with our hands up?” Nash queried, nodding almost imperceptibly toward his gun lying on the table about five feet in front of her.

“It would certainly make things easier. But what I really want are the files you stole from my computer.”

“And then you’ll let us go? Right. And I’ve got some swampland…” Nash’s laugh was harsh as he tipped his head slightly, signaling for her to stand ready. Annie nodded, already shifting her position.

“Well now, there wouldn’t be any fun in letting you live, would there?” Benoit responded, anger clouding his voice.

Annie drew a breath, rolled out from behind the chair, fired once and then dove for the table, her hand closing around the butt of Nash’s gun. “Two o’clock,” she yelled, as she chunked the weapon overhand toward Nash, still shooting in Benoit’s direction in an attempt to provide some modicum of cover. Her ploy worked, Benoit turning to return fire as Nash emerged from behind the bed in a flying leap, intercepting the gun as it tumbled through the air.

Two seconds later and it was over. Benoit lay dead in a pool of his own blood.

“Are you all right?” Nash asked, pushing to his feet.

“I’m fine,” she said as they met halfway, Nash’s arms closing around her.

“You sure?” He ran his hands down her now trembling body, double checking to ascertain if she’d told him the truth.

“Really. He didn’t hurt me. You were the one without the gun.”

“Evened the odds.” He shrugged, his voice buoyed by adrenaline, his smile edged with a ruthlessness that had kept him alive more times than she cared to remember. “So where were we?”

“I think that ship has sailed,” she said, her gaze falling on the body.

“I suppose you’re right,” Nash said, brushing a strand of hair from her face. “We’ve got to get out of here before someone starts asking questions. Benoit was using a silencer. But we weren’t.”

“I’ll start wiping things down.” She pulled away, and reached for a pair of gloves, falling effortlessly into a pattern they’d perfected over countless operations.

“So what was it you said earlier?” Nash called from across the room where he was packing their gear, his tone teasing, the fact that they’d just survived death—again—already an afterthought. “Something about wondering if we’d ever be a normal couple?”

Despite the gravity of the situation, Annie smiled. She loved this man. With every ounce of her being. And the cold hard truth was that she wouldn’t change a single thing about their life. “I think,” she said, reaching down to retrieve Benoit’s gun, “that I just answered my own question.”

Excerpt from DARK DECEPTIONS by Dee Davis, Copyright ©2010 by Dee Davis. All rights reserved. Reprint only with permission from author. Please contact dee@deedavis.com



About the Author: (from the publisher's site)

Dee Davis has a BA in Political Science and History, and a Masters Degree in Public Administration. During a ten-year career in public relations, she spent three years on the public speaking circuit, edited two newsletters, wrote three award winning public service announcements, did television and radio commercials, starred in the Seven Year Itch, taught college classes, lobbied both the Texas State Legislature and the US Congress, and served as the director of two associations.

Her highly acclaimed first novel, Everything In Its Time, was published in July 2000. Since then, among others, she’s won the Booksellers Best, Golden Leaf, Texas Gold and Prism awards, and been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award, the Holt and two RT Reviewers Choice Awards. To date, she has sold eighteen books and three novellas, including Chain Reaction and A Match Made on Madison.

She’s lived in Austria and traveled in Europe extensively. And although she now lives in Manhattan she still calls Texas home.

Edition Reviewed: ARC - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Review: Small Change by Sheila Roberts (with Excerpt)

I'd bet that just about everyone can find something they can relate to in this charming, heartwarming and very inspiring story of friendship, growth, and thinking outside the box in order to make it during these challenging economic times.

In Small Change you will get to meet three very different friends, each from different walks of life, and facing differing challenges, but all bound together by friendship and the desire to help each other succeed and thrive through the difficult choices they have to make.

Tiffany and her husband want to start a family, but after suffering from the loss of a pregnancy, Tiffany turns to shopping as a way to fill the loss she is feeling, and in the process ends up with huge debts that threaten to sink their relationship. With the help of Jessica and Rachel, Tiffany learns about herself and starts to turn her habits and debt around.

Jessica has a wonderful husband, a grown son living at home, and loving mother-in-law, and when her husband loses his banking job, they have to make some hard decisions when he gets a job offer in another state... ultimately, Jessica wants him to stay and try to get a new position in the local area. When a job is not immediately forthcoming, they must face the hard facts that money is running out and something has to be done. With the help of her friends, she finds new ideas and embraces some creative changes in her life that enable her to keep her friendships and her family together.

Rachel's marriage ends and her wealthy ex-husband has married his young model girlfriend. While she struggles to make ends meet on her substitute teacher's pay, he and his new wife are busy taking Rachel's kids on a big trip with lots of shopping. Life doesn't seem fair at all, and then she meets the guy working on the house that just sold next door. Things seem to be going nicely between Rachel and her hunk, but an omission on his part threatens to derail their new relationship.

These gals of Heart Lake are wonderful friends who share life's ups and downs together as they learn new things in order to adjust to the hurdles life is throwing them. They go from having craft get-togethers to having get-togethers that focus on learning about money and finances, everything from becoming a "Diva on a Dime", to finding ways to pay off debt and learning to give creative gifts to loved ones instead of spending a fortune on gifts that will sit on a shelf (Sheila even provides some great recipes and ideas for gifts including a wonderful Berry Cordial recipe that I just completed... and it tastes GREAT!). They also find out that with the support of good friends, almost anything is possible.

I loved the book, finding that I could relate to any number of things, especially the need to trim my spending in order to maintain our lifestyle. I also found myself re-evaluating my priorities and finding ways to get creative when saving money... getting barely-used toys at local garage sales, going to local U-Pick farms to pick blueberries at a fraction of the cost to buy them at the grocery store, making the berry cordial for holiday gifts, etc.

I found the book to be fun, inspiring and life-changing and hope you will too! I have also had the pleasure of meeting Sheila in person and she is simply wonderful! Her positive outlook really shines in this book. :)

Small Change
by Sheila Roberts

Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; Original edition (March 30, 2010) ~ 352 pages
Fiction / Contemporary Romance / Chic Lit

Edition Reviewed: ARC - Review copy received courtesy of Sheila Roberts ~ Sheila - many thanks for sending me a copy to review!


About the Book:

Take a trip to the charming little town of Heart Lake, and meet three best friends who you'll never forget . . .

Rachel, Jessica and Tiffany have money problems - major money problems. Tiffany's whipped out the plastic one too many times, and now a mountain of debt is about to come crashing down on her. Jessica's husband lost his job - thrusting this longtime stay-athome mom out into the cold, cruel workforce. And Rachel's divorce has transformed her from an upper-middle-class mom to a strapped-for-cash divorcee. What are three best friends to do?

Get financially fit, that's what! Together, they start a financial support group called The Small Change Club - challenging each other to bring balance back to their checkbooks, and their lives. Even though frugality is a lot harder than they ever imagined, these women are about to learn some very important lessons: that making a series of small changes in their spending habits can make a world of difference . . . and some things in life, like good friends, are truly priceless.

With money tips, recipes, and a great story, Sheila Roberts walks the average woman through today's rocky financial landscape.


Excerpt: (From Sheila's Place)

-1-

There it sat, a Cloud Nine queen-sized luxury gold comforter with red ribbon applique and metallic embroidery. Forty percent off. It was the last one left. Tiffany Turner had seen it, and so had the other woman.

The woman caught Tiffany looking at it and her eyes narrowed. Tiffany narrowed hers right back. Her competitor was somewhere in her fifties, dressed for comfort in jeans and a sweater, her feet shod in tennis shoes for quick movement - obviously a sale veteran, but Tiffany wasn't intimidated. She was younger. She had the drive, the determination.

It took only one second to start the race. The other woman strode toward the comforter with the confidence that comes with age, her hand stretched toward the prize.

Tiffany chose that moment to look over her competitor's shoulder. Her eyes went wide and she gasped. "Oh, my gosh." Her hands flew to her face in horror.

The other woman turned to see the calamity happening in back of her.

And that was her undoing. In a superhuman leap, Tiffany bagged the comforter
just as her competitor turned back. Score.

Boy, if looks could kill.

It would be rude to gloat. Tiffany gave an apologetic shrug and murmured, "Sorry."

The woman paid her homage with a reluctant nod. "You're good."

Yes, I am. "Thanks," Tiffany murmured, and left the field of battle for the customer service counter.

As she walked away, she heard the other woman mutter, "Little beast."

Okay, now she'd gloat.

She was still gloating as she drove home from the mall an hour later. She'd not only scored on the comforter, she'd gotten two sets of towels (buy one, get one free), a great top for work, a cute little jacket, a new shirt for Brian, and a pair of patent metallic purple shoes with 3 1/2 inch heels that were so hot she'd burn the pavement when she walked. With the new dress she'd snagged at thirty percent off (plus another ten percent off for using her department store card), she'd be a walking inferno. Brian would melt when he saw her.

Her husband would also melt if he saw how much she'd spent today, so she had to beat him home. And since he would be back from the office in half an hour, she was now in another race, one that she didn't dare lose. That was the downside of hitting the mall after work. She always had to hurry home to hide her treasures before Brian walked in the door. But she could do it.

Tiffany followed the Abracadabra shopping method: get the bargain and then make it disappear for a while so you could later insist that said bargain had been sitting around the house for ages. She'd learned that one from her mother. Two years before, she had successfully used the Guessing Game method: bring home the bargains and lull husband into acceptance by having him guess how incredible little you'd paid for each one.

She'd pull a catch of the day from its bag and say, "Guess how much I paid for this sweater."

He'd say, "Twenty dollars."

"Too high," she'd reply with a smirk.

"Okay. Fifteen."

"Too high.

"Ten."

"Nope. Eight ninety-nine. I'm good."

And she was. As far as Tiffany was concerned the three sexiest words in the English language were fifty percent off. She was a world-class bargain hunter (not surprising since she'd sat at the feet of an expert - her mom), and she could smell a sale a mile away.

Great as she was at ferreting out a bargain, she wasn't good with credit cards. It hadn't taken Tiffany long to snarl her finances to the point where she and Brian had to use their small, start-a-family savings and Brian's car fund to bail her out.

She'd felt awful about that, not only because she suspected they'd never need that family fund anyway (that suspicion was what led to her first shopping binge), but because Brian had suffered from the fallout of her mismanagement. He'd had his eye on some rusty old beater on the other side of the lake and had been talking about buying and restoring it. The car wound up rusting at someone else's house, thanks to her. Even the money they'd scraped together for her bailout wasn't enough. She'd had to call in the big guns: Daddy. That had probably been harder on Brian than waving good-bye to their savings.

"Tiffy, baby, you should have told me," he said the day the awful truth came out and they sat on the couch, her crying in his arms. She would have, except she kept thinking she could get control of her runaway credit card bills. It seemed like one minute she only had a couple and the next thing she knew they'd bred and taken over. "I thought I could handle it."

It was a reasonable assumption since they both worked. There was just one problem: their income had never quite managed to keep up with the demands of life. It still didn't.

She sighed. Brian so didn't understand. All he did was pay the mortgage, utilities, and the car payments. He had no idea how much it really cost to live. First of all, they had to eat. Did he have any idea how much wine cost? Or meat? Even toilet paper wasn't cheap. And they had to have clothes. She couldn't show up at Salon H to do nails in sweats, for heaven's sake. What woman wanted to go to a nail artist who looked like a slob? Food and clothes were the tip of the expense iceberg. Friends and family had birthdays; she couldn't give them IOU's. And she had to buy Christmas presents. And decorations. And hostess gifts. Now it was June and soon there would be picnics at the lake and neighborhood barbecues. A girl could hardly show up empty handed. Then there were the bridal showers to attend, and baby . . . No, no. She wasn't going there.

After the great credit card clean-up the Guessing Game method lost its effectiveness and she'd had to retire it. Hiding her purchases worked better anyway . . . .



She should take it all back. Brian probably wouldn't get that excited about the shoes or the dress anyway. Just show up naked. That was what her friends always joked. Even naked she couldn't explain about the new charge cards. Not these days.

Her best bet was to get home before Brian. She could make it. Her foot pressed down harder on the accelerator. She wouldn't buy anything more all month, and she'd take back the shoes. But the dress- fifty percent off, for heaven's sake.

Just get home and ditch the stuff. Then you can decide what to do. She roared off the exit ramp then turned right onto Cedar Springs Road. Ten more minutes and she'd be in Heart Lake Estates. The finish line was in sight.

Oh, no. What was this behind her? Her stomach fell at the sight of the flashing lights. Nooo. This was so unfair. Yes, she was going fifteen minutes over the speed limit, but she had an emergency brewing here. And thirty was too slow. What sicko had decided you could only go thirty on this road anyway? It was probably someone who had no life, nowhere to be, no husband to beat home.

A conversation started at the back of her brain.

Brian: Hey, I beat you home. Where were you?

Tiffany: Just out running some errands.

Brian: What's that piece of paper in your hand?

Tiffany: Ummm.

She could not, COULD NOT get a speeding ticket. They couldn't afford it.

Heart thudding, she watched as the policeman got out of his patrol car. He was big and burly. Big men loved sweet, little blondes with blue eyes. That had to work in her favor. She saw the wedding ring on his finger. Darn. It would have worked more in her favor if he'd been single.

She let down her window and showed him the most pitiful expression she could muster. "I was speeding, I know, but pleease don't give me a ticket. I haven't had a ticket since I was eighteen." Actually, twenty, but close enough. Parking tickets didn't count. Neither did citations for running stop signs. "I promise I won't speed again. Ever. If I come home with a speeding ticket . . . " And a trunk full of shopping bags. She couldn't even think about it. She might as well throw herself in the lake and be done with it.

The officer regarded her sadly. Good, she'd won his sympathy. She looked back at him with tears in her eyes.

"Lady, you were going twenty miles over the limit. I can't not give you a ticket."

What? What was this? "Oh, God, please." Now she opted to shed the tears. They were just wasted sitting around in her eyeballs. "My husband will kill me." How was she going to pay on her credit card if she had to use the money for a stupid speeding ticket?

"Don't worry," said the officer.

"Yes?" He'd had a change of heart. She was saved! Long live blonde.

"They take Mastercard at the courthouse. May I have your driver's license and registration please?"

Tiffany's jaw dropped. "What kind of sick thing is that to say?"

"License and registration," he prompted.

She fished them out of the glove compartment and handed them over. "I'm so not buying tickets to the policeman's ball," she sniffed.

"We're not doing one this year," he said, and walked back to his car.
Copyright © 2010 by Sheila Roberts. All rights reserved.



About the Author: (from Sheila's Place)

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. She’s happily married and has three children. She’s been writing since 1989, but she did lots of things before settling in to her writing career, including owning a singing telegram company and playing in a band. Her band days are over, but she still enjoys writing songs. When she’s not speaking to women’s groups or at conferences or hanging out with her girlfriends she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Review: Seduced By The Wolf by Terry Spear

I absolutely loved this book (well, if I'm absolutely honest, I haven't read a book written by Terry Spear that I didn't just love)! Author Terry Spear has been able to create a story that has such amazing interpersonal dynamics... from teamwork to individual relationships, which always captivates me.

Ready for some romance, action, and a little shape-shifting? If so, this is the book for you. Cassie Roux lost her family and everything she knew at a young age, and has learned to take care of herself. She is now a biologist who is an expert on wolfs, and she is trying to educate farmers in Oregon (and others) on the importance of wolfs so they don't become extinct. She is also secretly trying to find an endangered red wolf who has pups so she can help them survive. Because she is in another pack's territory, she must be very careful to keep from getting caught.

Liedolf Wildhaven is a rancher in Oregon who has just taken control of a pack who had been mistreated by their previous leader. While trying to re-build the pack's trust, control some newly turned lupus garou, and keep their existence from becoming common knowledge to the local area zoo keepers, he becomes interested in Cassie.

Cassie leads Liedolf on a good chase, and he in turn tempts her but also respects her independence.

Terry Spear has written a book that shines... in the location she has chosen (yes, I AM partial to the Pacific Northwest!), in the story itself, in the relationships that are explored, and the sense of family that prevails. I loved it and look forward to more books by Spear.

Seduced By the Wolf (Wolf Series, Book 5)
by Terry Spear

Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca (August 3, 2010) ~ 416 pages
Fiction / Paranormal Romance

Edition Reviewed: ARC - Review copy received courtesy of the publisher, many thanks to both the author and the publisher for sending me a copy to review!


About the Book:
His first priority is to protect his pack...
Werewolf pack leader Leidolf Wildhaven has just taken over a demoralized pack. With rogue wolves on the loose causing havoc and the authorities from the zoo suddenly zeroing in on the local wolf population, the last thing he needs in his territory is a do-gooder female, no matter how beautiful and enticing she is...

She'll do anything to help wolves...
Biologist Cassie Roux has dedicated her life to protecting wolves in the wild. On a desperate mission to help a she-wolf with newborn pups, the last thing Cassie needs right now is a nosy and entirely too attractive werewolf pack leader trying to track her down...

With rogue wolves and hunters threatening at every turn, Cassie and Leidolf may find their attraction the most dangerous force of all...

Additional from the publisher: Fascinating aspects of real-life wolf behavior based on extensive research on how wolves live in the wild make Terry Spear's werewolf paranormal series stand out and attract a growing audience. The fifth in the series features heroine Cassie Roux, a biologist who has studied wolves for years, trying to prove to the world they're not evil predators. A red lupus garou (werewolf), who lost her pack and was raised by real wolves, she has dedicated her life to their preservation. Leidolf Wildhaven is a red lupus garou pack leader who has more troubles than he ever thought possible, what with running a pack, a ranch, and other businesses. When Cassie—a rare red female— is spotted in his territory, Leidolf figures he's found the answer to his pack's threatened extinction. Only the headstrong woman has other priorities…


Excerpt: (linked from Amazon)


Except for a couple of cars parked outside the town hall, the lot was empty, and it appeared the wolf biologist speaking here tonight wouldn't have much of an audience to lecture to.

The Oregon air surrounding him felt damp and cool, not like the drier, much sunnier weather Leidolf Wildhaven had left behind in Colorado. He kept telling himself he'd get used to it. Old-time brass lanterns cast a golden glow over the sidewalk. A steady breeze stirred the spring leaves of the massive white oaks that lined the brick walk leading to the two-story building. An antiquated clock chimed seven times in the center of the tower on top, announcing to everyone in the listening area that the time had arrived for the lecture to begin. He let out his breath and headed for the building.

Anything to do with wolves concerned him, and even though the "doctor" couldn't say anything that he didn't already know, he wanted to see how others reacted to her talk concerning them. At this rate, it looked as though no one was going to show.

He took two steps at a time up the brick stairs and strode into the building, his gaze focusing on the empty chairs and the speakerless podium.

Dressed in a gray suit, Millie Meekle, the woman in charge of tourism and special events in the area, rung her hands nearby and shook her head, her stiff, glued-together silver hair not moving a fraction out of place.

"Oh, Mr. Wildhaven, this is a disaster. Dr. Roux had a flat tire at the place she's staying, and my husband dropped me off here, so I haven't any vehicle to go get her." She waved at the empty seats. "And no one has even shown up yet."

"Where's she staying?"

Several men sauntered into the town hall, their boots tromping on the wooden floor, their expressions annoyed. "Where's the doc?" one of the men asked gruffly.

Millie quickly spoke up. "She's stuck at the Cranberry Top Bed and Breakfast. Mr. Wildhaven's kind enough to offer to get her. She's staying in the Blue Room, first door on the left down the hall from the entryway," she directed Leidolf.

The man snorted. "We don't need no damned wolf biologist telling us how we should reintroduce wolves into the wild out here."

"Now, Mr. Hollis," Millie said.

"Don't 'Now, Mr. Hollis' me, Millie. You know I raise sheep, and if any damn wolf slinks onto my land, I'll kill him dead. That's what I'll do."

"I'll go get her," Leidolf said. He stalked out of the building with its oppressive heat and back into the cool out-of-doors. He hadn't figured any of the livestock owners would bother to come to the meeting, but after seeing the burly men, he was afraid the professor was bound for trouble.

Climbing into his Humvee, he assumed the woman probably wouldn't get a whole lot of lecturing done but instead would be faced with a barrage of condemning remarks. He still couldn't figure out why in the world she'd come here instead of lecturing to a more intellectual crowd in the city of Portland, two hours away.

Putting the vehicle in drive, he headed to the Cranberry Top, a quaint little red-roofed home with white siding and a white picket fence. Like many of the homes in the area, the place had been turned into a bed-and-breakfast inn because it was situated on a creek perfect for fishing and picturesque Mount Hood could be seen way off in the distance. Great for a Portland getaway.

When Leidolf arrived at the inn, he saw the vehicle in question, a green pickup with California plates that was tilting to one side. Women. Probably didn't know how to change a tire or call for someone to come and fix a flat. He'd barely opened the door to his Humvee when a woman hurried out, red hair in curls down to her shoulders and bouncing with her every step, eyes sea green and wide and hopeful, brow furrowed as she clutched a leather satchel tightly against her chest and headed straight for him. Dr. Roux? At least he presumed that's who she was, only he'd expected someone a lot less leggy and less stunning to look at.

What he'd figured he'd see was a gray-haired older woman, her hair swept back in a bun, with oval gold rimmed glasses perched on her nose. Instead, this woman looked to be in her midtwenties and in terrific form, with shapely legs and a body to match. He envisioned her hiking through woods on wilderness treks to observe wolves, dispelling the notion that she was strictly a classroom lecturer.

"Dr. Roux?" he asked, feeling more like a knight in shining armor now.

She didn't smile but looked worried as hell as she chewed a glossy lip and then gave a stiff nod. "Did Millie send you for me?" She didn't wait for him to answer and motioned to the truck. "I changed the tire already." He frowned and glanced back at the flat tire.

"Someone was nice enough to ruin the spare also when I ran inside to clean up," she added, her tone peeved. "It was too late to have the spare fixed before the meeting."

Irritated that any of the townspeople would treat her that way, he bit back a curse. Yet he couldn't help being surprised for a second time. First, by her appearance. Now, by how capable the little woman was.

He motioned to his Humvee. "I'm Leidolf Wildhaven, rancher south of town. I'll take you to the meeting and have one of my men fix the tires while you're lecturing."

"A rancher," she said softly, her voice slightly condemning.

He cast her a smidgeon of a smile. "Yeah, but cougars are the only animals that bother me of late. Wolves? They're my kind of animal. Protective, loyal-you know, like a dog, man's best friend."

"They're wild, Mr.-"

"I'd prefer you call me Leidolf."

"I'm Cassie. Never met a rancher before who liked wolves." She sounded as though she didn't believe he would care for wolves. Maybe even worried that he might cause her trouble when she lectured.

She climbed into his vehicle, took a deep breath, and her eyes widened again. He swore if he hadn't blocked her in as he held the door ready to shut it for her, she would have escaped. He heard her slight intake of breath and her heartbeat accelerate. Her gaze swiftly swept over him as if he was suddenly someone of more importance. She swallowed hard and smoothed her skirt over her lap, drawing his eye, and then she pulled away from him as much as possible.

She took another deep breath and met his gaze. "Wolves are wild and unpredictable. But you're right. They're also protective and loyal. Thanks for coming to get me."

He smiled in response, appreciating that she was a wolf advocate yet understood wolves well enough to realize how dangerous they could be, and felt a slight connection to her right away. Before he could shut her door, she quickly added, "You... are taking me to the town hall, right?"

"Yeah. Millie Meekle said you needed a lift."

Cassie still looked a little alarmed when Leidolf climbed into the vehicle, and he supposed he could understand her wariness. Millie should have called to let Cassie know he was coming to get her.

"I never figured I'd have trouble out here." She snapped her seat belt in place and pressed herself against the passenger door, almost as if she was attempting to keep as far away from him as she could.

For someone who studied wolves, she seemed a tad skittish. Which made him wonder if she'd had trouble with men before. Instantly, that thought gnawed at him, no matter that he'd just met her.
Copyright © 2010 by Terry Spear. All rights reserved.



About the Author: (from Amazon)


A retired lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserves, Terry Spear has an MBA from Monmouth College. An eclectic writer, she dabbles in the paranormal as well as writing historical and true life stories for both teen and adult audiences. Spear lives in Crawford, Texas.
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