Wednesday, March 31, 2010

As Young As We Feel by Melody Carlson

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


As Young As We Feel


David C. Cook; New edition (March 1, 2010)


by


Melody Carlson






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Over the years, Melody Carlson has worn many hats, from pre-school teacher to youth counselor to political activist to senior editor. But most of all, she loves to write! Currently she freelances from her home. In the past eight years, she has published over ninety books for children, teens, and adults--with sales totaling more than two million and many titles appearing on the ECPA Bestsellers List. Several of her books have been finalists for, and winners of, various writing awards. And her "Diary of a Teenage Girl" series has received great reviews and a large box of fan mail.



She has two grown sons and lives in Central Oregon with her husband and chocolate lab retriever. They enjoy skiing, hiking, gardening, camping and biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains.







ABOUT THE BOOK



Is there room in one little hometown for four very different Lindas to reinvent their lives … together?



Once upon a time in a little town on the Oregon coast lived four Lindas—all in the same first-grade classroom. So they decided to go by their middle names. And form a club. And be friends forever. But that was forty-seven years and four very different lives ago. Now a class reunion has brought them all together in their old hometown—at a crossroads in their lives.



Janie is a high-powered lawyer with a load of grief. Abby is a lonely housewife in a beautiful oceanfront empty nest. Marley is trying to recapture the artistic free spirit she lost in an unhappy marriage. And the beautiful Caroline is scrambling to cope with her mother’s dementia and a Hollywood career that never really happened. Together, they’re about to explore the invigorating reality that even the most eventful life has second acts … and friendship doesn’t come with a statue of limitations.



If you would like to read the first chapter of As Young As We Feel, go HERE.



Watch the Video:



Monday, March 29, 2010

Its Monday What Are You Reading March 29, 2010


This is a weekly meme hosted by Sheila at http://bookjourney.wordpress.com/

Books read last week:

- Dad in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin

- McKenzie's Montana Mystery by Shari Barr

- Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise by Erica Rodgers

- The Hero Next Door by Irene Hannon

- Songbird Under a German Moon by Tricia Goyer

- Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman

- Rodeo Sweetheart by Betsy St. Amant

Books Reviewed Last Week:

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/03/mckenzies-montana-mystery-by-shari-barr.html

http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/03/alexis-and-sacramento-surprise-by-erica.html


Books I am Currently Reading:

- Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris

- Sons of Thunder by Susan May Warren

- The Cinderella List by Judy Baer

Books I Plan to Read Next:

- How to Never Look Fat Again by Charla Krupp

- As Young as We Feel by Melody Carlson

- Sixteen Brides by Stephanie Grace Whitson

- Disaster Status by Candace Calvert

- Asking for Trouble by Sandra Byrd

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Sunday Salon March 28, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com



* Overall a good weekend though it went by really quick.



* I read several books so far and I want to read one more tonight but at the last minute my dad, sister, and I decided to go to Pie Works for dinner so I might not finish it.



* Was distracted earlier so I am still doing laundry.

* The weather has been quite lovely Saturday and today. I had the windows open Saturday. The cats loved it. They acted like they had never smelled fresh air before.

* I hope y'all have a good week and find lots of reading time. :)

Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise by Erica Rodgers (Review)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Alexis and the Sacramento Surprise (Camp Club Girls 4)

Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Erica Rodgers lives outside of Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and two children. She loves reading, singing in front of her bathroom mirror, and being outside. She currently writes juvenile and young adult fiction.



Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602700
ISBN-13: 978-1602602700

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A Problem at the Park


SLAM!

Alexis Howell jolted up in bed. She sat for a moment while her shocked heart slowed down.

Who on earth is banging doors this early in the morning? She thought. It’s only—

She looked at the clock on her wall.

“Nine thirty!” Alexis exclaimed.

She knew she had set her alarm for eight o’clock, but she reached over and saw that someone had unplugged it. Alexis threw the covers off and flew out of bed. Why did her little brothers always mess with her on important days? She’d be late!

She yanked on a pair of shorts, slipped on a pair of flip-flops, and scurried toward the door. Alexis passed her desk and reached out, but her hand closed on thin air.

“Where’s my paper?” she yelled.

“You mean this one?” her brother asked. He was standing at the top of the stairs waving a paper airplane. The boys were twins, and at first glance she sometimes couldn’t tell them apart, which made them even more annoying.

“You made it into an airplane?” cried Alexis. “Give it to me!”

“You should have said please,” her brother said. He drew his arm back and flung the airplane down the stairs.

“No!” cried Alexis. She bounded toward the stairs.

She could see the important paper circling toward the living room. Here, like everywhere else in her house, were countless stacks of paper. Her mother and father were both lawyers. They worked in the same office, and since that office was being renovated, all of their work had migrated to the Howell house. If that tiny paper airplane landed in the middle of that mess, she would never find it!

Alexis leaped down the first three stairs. On the fourth, however, her foot landed on a remote-control race car and flew out from beneath her. Alexis crashed down the rest of the stairs and slammed into the closest pile of files. It was a paper explosion.

“What on earth?” cried Mrs. Howell. She ran in from the kitchen and found Alexis knee deep in paper, searching. More paper still fell like rain from the ceiling.

“Oh no!” said Alexis. “Where is it? Where is it!”

“Calm down, Alexis,” said Mrs. Howell. “Where is what?”

“The e-mails! I printed out Kate’s e-mail and wrote her flight information on the back. If I can’t find it, we won’t know when to get her! And I’m running late!”

Her mom placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Calm down,” she said. “We have plenty of time. Here, I’ll help.” Alexis’s mom began stacking her files. In no time she uncovered a small, crumpled airplane. Alexis flattened it out and took a deep breath.

“Thanks, Mom.” Alexis read the page again just to be sure it was the right paper airplane.


Camp Club Update

From: Alexis Howell

Hey girls! How is everyone? I’m great, but things have been boring since I got home from camp. I have two more weeks until cheerleading starts, so I’m at home with my brothers way too often! The only investigating I’ve done lately involves a missing Spiderman sock and the cat from next door. Isn’t that sad?

Oh! I almost forgot! A lady at my church could use your prayers. Her name is Miss Maria, and she runs a nature park outside the city. It’s a great place to see the local plants and animals, but lately not many people have been visiting. If Miss Maria can’t get some big business she’s going to have to close the park. The park is all she has. It would be awful if she had to sell it. She rented some fake dinosaurs that look real and really move, like the animals at Disneyland. Maybe this will bring more business! Pray that it does!

Kisses, Alex


Alex,

It was so good to get your update! I’m sorry to hear about Miss Maria. Is she really getting mechanical dinosaurs? That is so awesome! Are you up for a visitor? Sounds like you could use a little excitement, and I can get there easily. My grandpa is a pilot and gets me great deals to fly all over the country. That really comes in handy when I get the urge to visit California! LOL!

I would love to see you, and besides, I’ve never seen animatronics that close up before! Do you think Miss Maria would let me touch them? Let me know what your mom says!

Love, Kate


Alexis must have read Kate’s e-mail forty-three times, but her heart was still racing. She had thought she wouldn’t see any of the other Camp Club Girls until next summer, but in less than an hour Kate would be there! Alexis was sure this week would be amazing. How could it not be? They would find some crazy case to solve; maybe a stolen piece of art, or a break-in at the Governor’s Mansion. Whatever they did would be ten times better than doing nothing—as she had done for the last month.

On her way to the kitchen Alexis poked her head into the bathroom to glance in the mirror. She pulled her loose brown curls into a quick ponytail and wiped the sleep from her eyes. They were an electric blue, and Alexis knew they clashed with her hair, but she liked being a little different.

She stepped back and scrunched her face. If only she could make her freckles disappear! They stood out on her pale skin like spots on a snow leopard, and she could never decide if she liked them or not. She had tried once to cover them with her mom’s makeup, but it had been the wrong color, and waterproof so she couldn’t remove it easily with water. She hadn’t known that her mother had special make-up remover. That day she had gone to school looking like a pumpkin.

Oh well. Sometimes she was proud of her freckles. They measured how good her summer had been. The more fun she had in the sun, the darker they got.

“Lots of fun in the sun this year, I guess,” she said, then she spun out of the bathroom. Her toasted blueberry waffles were waiting for her in the kitchen.

“Thanks, Mom,” Alexis said as she ate.

“You’re welcome, but do you really need to say it with your mouth full?”

Alexis swallowed. “Sorry.”

Her twin brothers, who were seven, had freckles just like Alexis but had also inherited the red hair from her mother’s side of the family. The boys finished eating and began playing hide-and-seek among the towering files in the living room. Alexis ignored the possibility of disaster and ate quickly. She was counting down the minutes until she would see Kate at the airport.

Twenty minutes until they left.

Forty minutes until they parked.

Forty-five minutes until—

The television caught her eye. She usually ignored the news, but the anchorwoman with big hair was showing a shot of her friend, Miss Maria, standing in front of the nature park. Alexis grabbed the remote and turned up the volume just in time to hear the introduction to the story.

“Let’s go to Channel 13 reporter Thad Swotter for more about this story.”

“Thank you, Nicky,” said the news man. He flashed the camera a cheesy smile. “Yesterday one more company refused to sponsor Aspen Heights Conservation Park. That makes them number 10 on the list of people who have denied the park money this year. You may ask, Thad, who’s counting? And I would say no one—except the park’s owner.”

Thad Swotter laughed into the camera, his mouth still stretched into a wide, fake smile.

“As a last-ditch effort to revive the park,” he continued, “Maria Santos has scattered a stampede of mechanical dinosaurs throughout the park. The exhibit opens to the public today and will be there through the end of this month.”

“Well, Thad,” said the woman with the big hair, “do you think this will bring in more visitors?”

“I know Miss Santos hopes so,” said the reporter. “It looks like she’s spent her life’s savings on the project. It certainly is creative, but I think it will take more than a bunch of toy dinosaurs to keep that park from becoming extinct!”

“Thanks, Thad. Now over to Chris for last night’s sports report.”

Alexis had forgotten about her waffles. None of her friends had ever been on the news before, but she wasn’t excited. She was worried. Had Miss Maria really spent the last of her savings on those dinosaurs? If so, things must be pretty bad.

Alexis whipped out her bright pink notebook and scribbled:

Mission: find a way to help Miss Maria.

Step One: Visit park with Kate and ask how we can help.

Going to the park was a great idea. It seemed like the perfect place to find an adventure. Kate really wanted to see the dinosaurs, and maybe they could help Miss Maria while they were there. Alexis shoved her notebook into her pink camouflage backpack. She never left home without it. Taking notes was one of the most important things an investigator could do, and Alexis considered herself an investigator. After all, the Camp Club Girls were regularly finding cases to solve.

Half an hour later Alexis and her mom were at the airport, waiting for Kate to pop through the exit gate of the security checkpoint. Mrs. Howell said that she used to be able to meet people at the door of the plane. Alexis couldn’t imagine that. For as long as she could remember she had waited for visitors here—next to the gift shop, and at a safe distance from the burly security guards. It would have been fun to meet Kate at her gate—they would already be having a blast. But Alexis was stuck waiting near a rack of over-priced California coffee mugs.

The first thing Alexis noticed was Kate’s new pair of glasses flashing through the crowd. They were bright green and came to a point at the sides. They made Alexis think of the Riddler, one of the best Batman villains. She laughed at the thought and met her friend with a hug.

“It’s so good to see you!” said Alexis. “How was your flight?”

“Long, and they wouldn’t let Biscuit sit with me! He had to go under the plane! Do you have any idea how cold it gets down there?”

Alexis caught her breath and stopped abruptly. She’d forgotten about Biscuit! How many times when the boys begged for a dog had Mrs. Howell firmly told them their house, especially now, with all its stacks of paper, was no place for a dog! Alexis suspected the real issue was that her mom didn’t like dogs. At all. She frowned when people walking their dogs didn’t clean up their droppings in the yard. She’d also opposed a neighborhood park being turned into a dog park.

What will Mom do! Alexis thought. Will she make Kate send Biscuit back home? Will she make Biscuit stay in the garage? But then Biscuit will cry all night.

“Alexis!” Mrs. Howell called. Kate realized that her mother and friend were far ahead of her. She glanced at her mother’s face. Mrs. Howell looked cheerful and friendly. Apparently she either hadn’t heard Kate’s words clearly or didn’t know that Biscuit was a dog.

Lord, please help Mom be nice about Biscuit! Alexis prayed silently.

Alexis’s mom led the girls to the baggage claim. They picked up a neat little suitcase and a not-so-neat black and white puppy. At the sight of Biscuit, Mrs. Howell’s smile faltered.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” said Alexis. “Biscuit can stay in my room—away from your files.” Mrs. Howell said that she wasn’t worried, but her face relaxed a bit. Alexis knew that she had been thinking of the endless stacks of paper that could easily become chew toys and chaos.

Thank You, God! Alexis mentally murmured. She knew if Mom didn’t say anything now, she never would. Now, if only Alexis and Kate could make sure Biscuit didn’t get in Mom’s way or cause trouble!

“We’re going straight to the park,” Alexis said to Kate as they arrived at the family’s green Durango. They buckled themselves into the back seat, and Mrs. Howell dug around in her purse for some cash to pay for parking.

“The dinosaur exhibit opens today, so tons of people should be there,” Alexis added as her mom pulled onto the highway.

Alexis was wrong. A half-hour later Mrs. Howell drove through the two towering redwoods at the entrance to Aspen Heights and frowned. Theirs was only the second car in the parking lot.

“I don’t understand!” said Alexis. “Where is everyone? It was on the news and everything!”

“Don’t worry, sweetheart,” said her mother. “I’m sure more people will come. It’s not even lunchtime yet.”

Lunchtime came and went, though, and only a handful of people were enjoying the park. Alexis and Kate walked the shade-speckled trails with Biscuit on his leash.

“Wow!” said Kate. “There are so many plants here!”

“I know,” said Alexis. “Miss Maria tries to keep a little of everything. She especially likes the endangered ones.”

“Oh look! Another dinosaur!” Kate ran up to a triceratops that looked like it was eating the fuzzy leaves of a mule ear. A miniature triceratops was feet away near an evergreen bush. Alexis figured it must be the baby.

Miss Marie had certainly arranged the dinosaurs well. Alexis and Kate had to look hard to see the electrical cords and power boxes hidden among the plants, feeding power to the animatrons.

Alexis had never been easily able to imagine what dinosaurs looked like. But these animatrons were full-sized. They had been meticulously fashioned to resemble the original animals as closely as possible. Alexis began to understand the fascination some people felt for the extinct creatures.

“They’re a lot different than in the Jurassic Park movies,” Alexis noted. “I thought they’d be taller than this. Some of them aren’t too much bigger than a large man.”

Kate laughed. “Alexis, you’re the one from California! You should be the first to know that movies aren’t always true to life!”

Alex grinned. “Actually, most of the movie stuff goes on around Los Angeles, and that’s quite a ways down the coast. We see movie crews around shooting sometimes. But other than that, we don’t have much more to do with the entertainment industry than you probably do in Philadelphia.”

“Well, most of the dinosaurs were actually probably smaller than the ones in those movies. And sometimes the movies weren’t accurate in recreating the dinosaurs.

“Like these velociraptors,” Kate said, pointing at the herd of creatures with their waving arms. “See how they’re kind of feathery looking? This is more accurate than the portrayals that show them with scaly, lizard-like skin. Just a couple of years ago some paleontologists found a preserved raptor forearm in Mongolia that proved it had feathers.”

“How in the world do you know all that?” Alexis asked.

“Discovery Channel,” Kate said with a grin. “And a teacher who spends her summer looking for dinosaur footprints!”

The girls walked along the pathway to the next creature, a dromaeosaurus lurking near a nest of eggs that looked like they came from a much larger beast.

“This one is even better than the raptor!” said Kate. “Look! Its eyes blink!”

“Actually, Kate, I think it’s winking! The other eye is stuck!”

The girls’ laughter was cut short. They jumped in alarm as another dinosaur nearby, a dilophosaurus, raised its head and bellowed. As the animatron swung its head around, Alex gasped.

“It spit at me!” she cried. “I’ve been assaulted by dinosaur spit! That must have sent out a gallon of water, and all on me! My shirt is soaked!”

Kate clutched her sides, laughing. “Well, at least they used water instead of adding more component to make the expectorant more realistic!”

“What?” Alexis asked.

“At least they didn’t make it slimy and mucusy like real spit might have been!”

“Oh, I’m sorry I asked,” Alex said. “Wait a minute while I throw up at that thought—and it wouldn’t be water, either!”

The rest of the animatron trail passed uneventfully. More bellows and eye blinks and movements, but thankfully, no more assaults by spitting dinosaurs.

As Alex’s shirt started to dry in the hot sun, the girls started giggling again about the spitting dinosaur.

“Sounds like a rock band,” Alex said. “The Spitting Dinosaurs.”

“Yeah, or maybe a little kids’ T-ball team!” Kate added.

The girls laughed all the way back to the visitors’ center. The entrance from the walking trails looked like an old log cabin with a green roof. That led into another larger building with the same log design. The larger building housed more exhibits and displays about nature and animals.

Alexis noticed that more cars were now in the parking lot, and her smile stretched even wider. It would be horrible if the dinosaurs turned out to be a waste of Miss Maria’s money.

When they walked into the visitors’ center, a lanky teenager greeted them from behind the desk.

“Hey, Alex, who’s your friend?” he called out.

“Hi, Jerry. This is Kate.” Jerry was tall and a little thin, as if the summer between eighth and ninth grade had stretched him out. His dark hair had light streaks from spending plenty of time in the sun. Between that, his flip-flops, and his tan, he looked as if he’d stepped right out of a surfing movie.

“Hi, Kate,” said Jerry. “It’s good to meet you!”

“You, too,” said Kate, looking at her shoes shyly.

Bam! The door to the visitors’ center flew open and Miss Maria stormed in.

“That news man from Channel 13 just got here,” she said. “Try to ignore him.” She stopped to hug Alexis with her wiry, suntanned arms and shook hands with Kate.

“But Miss Maria,” said Jerry, “don’t you want to be on the news? It might get more people to come to the park.”

“Yes, it might, but that young reporter isn’t very pleasant.” Miss Maria tucked a piece of short salt-and-pepper hair behind her ear. “More than toy dinosaurs, huh?”

Miss Maria grumbled to herself until a visitor stuck his head through the open door and called to her.

“Hey, Maria! Good job with the triceratops and raptor footprints. They’re so realistic! And I’m glad you put a raptor by the fountain. He looks good there. I’ll be back with my family, and I’ll encourage my students to come!”

Miss Maria thanked the man, who introduced himself as a biology professor from one of the local colleges. “But I’ve always longed to be a paleontologist!” he confessed.

As the professor waved good-bye, Alexis noticed that Miss Maria didn’t look too happy.

“He liked the dinosaurs!” Alexis said. “What’s wrong, Miss Maria? Didn’t you hear? He’s bringing his whole family! And he’s sending his students over!”

Miss Maria looked out the window and tapped a finger on the sill.

“Yes, I heard him,” said Miss Maria. “The question is, did you? He said he liked the footprints—what footprints is he talking about? Alexis, did you and your friend notice any footprints this morning?”

Alexis shook her head. “But we weren’t looking that closely,” she said.

“And there shouldn’t be a raptor near the fountain at all,” said Maria. “I put them all in the dogwood grove.”

“Someone must have moved him,” said Alexis.

“But why would they do that?” asked Kate.

“Why would anyone dig up my pansies, or carve their initials in a hundred year-old redwood tree?” said Maria. “Sometimes they do it because they have no respect for God’s creation. Sometimes they do it to cause trouble. And sometimes they do it to show off to their friends. Who knows why else they do it! But moving around some of those dinosaurs isn’t easy, and they’re liable to mess up the wires—to even get electrocuted. Let’s go take a look.”

Miss Maria had placed the six raptors together in a little herd. Sure enough, when they rounded the corner to the dogwood grove, the smallest one was missing. Little footprints led away through the trees. They had three toes, like a bird had made them, with two of the toes being longer than the third. The group followed the tracks along the trail until they reached the fountain. Then they saw him.

The diminutive dinosaur was posed on the edge of the fountain. Fortunately, he was one of the models that wasn’t animated or electric. He was about two feet tall and bright green. His long tail kept him balanced on his back legs as he leaned toward the water. He looked as if he’d simply left the herd to get a drink.

“Weird!” said Jerry.

“Yeah,” Alexis agreed.

She walked carefully around the fountain. She and Alexis had been laughing too hard earlier to notice the footprints if they’d been there. And this raptor hadn’t stood out when they’d seen it earlier—they didn’t know Miss Maria hadn’t put it by the water. Her mind kicked into overdrive just like it always did when she found something strange or out of place.

How did he get there? She wondered. If someone moved him, why are there only dinosaur footprints in the mud? Shouldn’t there have been human prints, too? Alexis pulled her notebook out of her backpack and instinctively began writing things down.

“Interesting, and irritating,” said Miss Maria. She scooped up the raptor and walked back toward the path holding him beneath her elbow. “You all go back to the visitors’ center to greet people as they arrive,” she said. “I’m going to go check around.”

When they reached the center, Jerry’s younger sister, Megan Smith, ran out to greet them. She was going into the seventh grade, like Alexis, and looked just like her brother, only with longer hair.

“Hi, guys!” Megan said. She pointed toward the parking lot. “Did you see the news crew?”

“Yeah,” said Alexis.

“Maria wants us to stay away from them,” said Jerry. Was Alexis imagining it, or was Jerry irritated?

“Oops. . .,” said Megan. “I gave the guy with the funny hair a tour. He said he was interested in seeing all of the dinosaurs.”

“That’s okay, Meg,” said Alexis. “A tour couldn’t have done any harm. Maybe he liked the park enough to do a big story for the evening news.”

Kate pushed her glasses up on the bridge of her nose and pointed toward the parking lot.

“I wonder why he’s coming back,” she said.

Sure enough, the reporter was striding across the parking lot. The wind tossed his bright blue tie around and lifted his hair up at an odd angle. Alexis wondered if he was wearing a wig. She would have thought he was too young for that, but then again, she also knew teachers and men at church who were way younger than her dad and hardly had any hair.

“Hi, kids!” he said. “I’m Thad. Thad Swotter—investigative reporter for Channel 13.”

Not quite as impressive as he is on TV, thought Alexis.

“Some place you guys have here,” Swotter said, looking around. His tone reminded Alexis of how her father greeted her great-aunt Gertrude. They visited her in Phoenix sometimes for Thanksgiving. He always said he was glad to be there, but Alexis didn’t think he meant it.

“Miss Maria has worked very hard to share California’s indigenous plants with our community,” said Alexis. Thad Swotter smiled, and Alexis thought his perfect teeth might be a little big for his mouth.

“Indigenous, huh?” said Swotter. “That’s quite a big word for such a little girl. You know, I was sure I saw some specimens that were definitely not native to California.”

“Well, yes,” said Megan. “On the tour I showed you the olive and the fig tree. Miss Maria works very hard to keep those alive through the winter. She likes to give people glimpses of other parts of the country, and even the world, too.”

“Yes, I remember,” said Swotter. “And the thorns were creepy. I’m glad we don’t really have those in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains!”

“Thorns?” asked Kate.

“Yes,” said Alexis. “Miss Maria’s favorite plant is the Christ’s-thorn in her greenhouse. It’s planted next to a replica of the crown of thorns Jesus wore.”

“Cool!”

“Cool it may be,” said the reporter. “But I don’t see how those thorns have anything to do with us. They’re out of place.”

“That’s not true,” said Megan. “God created all of it, so everything belongs.”

“God created?” Swotter lifted his eyebrows in amusement. “You kids are almost as bad as the bat that runs this place!”

Alexis reared up, ready to defend Miss Maria, but she took a deep breath instead. She knew it would be disrespectful to argue with Mr. Swotter. She even resisted the urge to roll her eyes—which was not easy when she was annoyed.

“This is exactly why nobody comes here!” Swotter laughed. “No one wants to come to a park to get preached at!”

“No one’s preaching, sir,” said Jerry respectfully. “People don’t have to believe in God or Jesus to appreciate the plants. If it really bothers them, they can stick to the other parts of the park.”

“They could,” said Swotter, “but it’d be easier for them not to come at all. Look, kids, California has enough theme parks. If I want to hear a fairy tale, I’ll go to Disneyland.” He snickered again and walked off to examine a clump of poppies.

“He’s rude,” said Kate. “Good thing he doesn’t act that rude on TV.”

“He practically does,” said Alexis. She looked around the empty park entrance. Where was Miss Maria? She had been gone for a long time.

“Those footprints were weird, weren’t they?” Jerry laughed. “It’s like the dinosaurs just woke up and decided to explore the park!”

Thad Swotter stood up and scribbled furiously in his notebook. He headed toward his van, almost stomping on the poppies as he went. Alexis heard him yell something at his cameraman, who had fallen asleep on the steering wheel.

“What’s up with him?” asked Megan.

“Maybe he’s late,” said Alexis. The group turned back toward the visitors’ center. “I think we should check on Miss Maria.” Before anyone could agree with her, a scream ripped through the trees.

Then all was silent.

“It came from over there.” Jerry pointed toward the trail that led to the triceratops.

“Oh no! Miss Maria!” Alexis tore off through the trees and the others followed.

When they came around the last corner, Alexis almost screamed herself. Miss Maria was lying on her back in the mud, next to the mother triceratops. She wasn’t moving.

Her large eyes stared unblinking into the cloudless sky.



About the Book:

If dinosaurs are extinct, then why do they seem to come to life each night? When Alexis’ friend, Miss Maria, tries to save her business by importing mechanical dinosaurs to her nature park, Alexis and Kate are instantly on the spot to show their support. But the Camp Club girls are soon embroiled in surprises when they soon have to not only deal with mechanical dinosaurs appearing to have minds of their own, but also the local media, which also seems determined to destroy Miss Maria. Can the girls crack the case and keep Miss Maria’s dreams—and business—alive?

My Review:

I liked this book but not as much as the previous three in the series. The mystery was much easier to figure out though the story itself was okay. It has the same elements but this time Kate goes to Sacramento to visit Alexis. I like that Kate is the techo gadget girl of the group. Tween girls that a fan of Nancy Drew etc. will like this series. I am 26 and have enjoyed these as quick, easy, clean, and interesting books. I pass them on to my 13 yr. old girl cousin. Recommended.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

McKenzie's Montana Mystery by Shari Barr (Review)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


McKenzie’s Montana Mystery (Camp Club Girls 3)

Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart of Barbour Publishing, Inc. for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Shari Barr lives on a farm in southwest Iowa with her husband and teenage son and daughter. She writes inspirational fiction as a mission to spread the gospel while creating Christian role models for children. She has also published two non-fiction books as well as numerous articles for adults.


Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $5.97
Reading level: Ages 9-12
Paperback: 160 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (March 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602602697
ISBN-13: 978-1602602694

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


A Surprise for McKenzie!

Chapter 1


Aaaaaahhhh!

McKenzie screamed and clutched the reins with sweaty palms. She tugged firmly, trying to control her horse.

Please, God, help me, she prayed as Sahara bolted down the arena.

McKenzie’s heart pounded and her auburn hair whipped behind her.

Something’s wrong! she thought.

She leaned forward and pulled the reins with all her strength. The tightness she usually felt in the reins was missing. She had no control over her horse! Sahara raced straight toward the barrel in the middle of the arena.

“McKenzie!” a voice screamed from the sidelines. “Hold on.”

The reins slipped between her fingers. McKenzie started to slide from the saddle. She grasped the saddle horn, but Sahara’s galloping bounced her up and down until she could hold on no longer.

McKenzie hit the ground with a thud as thundering hooves barely missed her. She laid with her face on the ground. Sahara raced by and finally slowed to a trot.

“McKenzie! Are you okay?” A pair of cowboy boots appeared in front of her face.

Rolling over, McKenzie pushed herself into a sitting position. She coughed from the dust Sahara had stirred up and looked into the eyes of Emma Wilson, her riding instructor. “I-I don’t know yet,” she stammered as she stretched her legs.

She felt a strong hand support the back of her head. Turning, she saw Emma’s hired hand, Derek, holding up two fingers. “How many?” he asked.

“Four,” McKenzie answered.

Emma and Derek stared at her. No one said anything for a minute.

“But two fingers are bent over,” she added.

After a second, Derek’s face broke into a grin. He unbuckled her riding helmet and slipped it off her head.

“She’s okay,” a familiar voice announced. The girl with a fringe of black

bangs fluttering on her olive skin popped a red gummy worm into her mouth.

“Bailey! What are you doing here?” McKenzie screeched as the girl approached her. “Hey, can I have one of those?”

“Yep, she’s definitely okay,” Bailey said as she dangled a green and orange worm in front of McKenzie.

McKenzie grabbed the worm and pulled her legs forward, trying to stand up. But Emma placed a firm hand on her shoulder. “Not so fast. Sit for a minute.”

“What happened anyway?” McKenzie watched as her horse sauntered back across the arena and nuzzled her face. “I had no control over Sahara. I just couldn’t hold on.”

Derek reached his hand out to the chocolate brown mare. “Here’s the problem,” he said as his fingers touched a dangling strap. “Her bridle is broken.”

McKenzie tried again to stand. Emma and Derek each put a hand beneath her arms and helped her to her feet. Feeling slightly light-headed, she stepped forward and grabbed Bailey in a tight hug.

“So, how did you get here?” McKenzie asked.

“When you told me you were coming to Sunshine Stables to train for the rodeo and help with Kids’ Camp, I convinced Mom and Dad to let me fly out with Uncle Troy on a business trip. He rented a car and drove me out from the airport. He didn’t have time to stick around, so he’s gone already.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were coming?” McKenzie asked.

“Well, I signed up for the camp, since I’m not that good on horses. When Miss Wilson found out we were friends, she invited me to stay here, but she wanted to surprise you. Then after camp, she’s going to train both of us for the rodeo.” Bailey’s dark eyes flashed.

“Oh, Emma, this is the best surprise ever!” McKenzie turned to her instructor.

“Think of it as a thank-you for coming to Kids’ Camp on such short notice,” Emma said with a smile. “I didn’t expect so many kids to sign up. You’ll be a big help with the younger ones. But, let’s get you up to the house to sit for a minute. If you can walk, that is.”

“I’m fine,” McKenzie assured Emma as she brushed dirt from her face with the sleeve of her t-shirt. “I’d better take care of Sahara first, though.”

“I’ll do that,” Derek said as he grabbed Sahara’s halter. “I’ll take her to the stable and find her a new bridle. You go on to the house.”

Emma and the girls walked to the large, white farmhouse. A sign reading “Sunshine Stables” stood in the front yard. Several sheds and a huge red barn stood beyond the house. The riding arena was next to a matching red stable. A dozen or so horses grazed in the lush, green pasture.

McKenzie sighed with contentment. She had met Bailey at Camp Discovery, where they had shared a cabin with four other campers. The six girls, or the Camp Club Girls, as they called themselves, had become fast friends by solving a mystery together. Though they all lived in different parts of the country, they had kept in touch and gone on to solve another mystery together. Bailey was the youngest of the group at nine years old, four years younger than McKenzie.

The girls stepped onto the huge porch that wrapped around the house. They dropped onto the porch swing while Emma slipped inside. Emma quickly returned with cold drinks.

“Emma, this is so perfect.” McKenzie reached out to pet Buckeye, Emma’s brown and white terrier. “This will be so fun having Bailey here. Now, we can work on barrel racing together.”

“Don’t forget you have to save time for the Junior Miss Rodeo Queen contest, too,” Emma said as she ran her fingers through her short blond hair.

McKenzie groaned. She wasn’t sure she wanted to compete in the contest. Emma had competed when she was younger and had told McKenzie’s mom what a wonderful experience it had been. Now, Mom had talked McKenzie into competing. McKenzie didn’t like the thought of wearing fancy riding clothes for the contest. And she especially dreaded the thought of standing on stage in front of hundreds of people.

McKenzie got slightly nervous in riding competitions, but just thinking about the queen contest made her want to throw up.

“Are your parents coming for the rodeo and the queen contest?” Bailey scratched Buckeye’s ears.

“Yes, they’ll be here,” McKenzie answered, sipping her lemonade. “My family doesn’t live too far away. I usually come over here and train a couple of days a week. But, now that I’m helping with Kids Camp, I get to stay here until the rodeo next week. I’ll have a lot of extra time to train.”

After the girls finished their lemonade, Emma asked McKenzie to show Bailey their bedroom. The girls stepped inside the front door where Bailey had left her bags. She grabbed her pink and green striped pillow and tucked it under her arm along with a monster-sized black and white panda. McKenzie grabbed the two bags and led the way upstairs to their bedroom. A set of bunk beds stood against one wall.

McKenzie turned to her friend. “I knew you were hoping to visit, but I didn’t think you’d be able to come.”

“I didn’t either.” Bailey dropped her pillow and panda on the floor. “When Uncle Troy found out about his trip, Mom and Dad decided at the last minute that I could come along.”

“We’ll have a blast.” McKenzie pointed to Bailey’s bags. “Do you have cowboy boots in there somewhere? And, you might want to change into jeans so we can go horseback riding as soon as Derek finds a new bridle for Sahara.”

Bailey changed her clothes. Then the girls headed back downstairs and went outside with Emma.

“I’ll help you saddle your horses,” Emma said as she led the way across the yard. “Bailey, you can ride the Shetland pony, Applejack. Then you two can go for a ride while I work. How does that sound?”

“Great.” McKenzie said. “When do we need to be back for chores?”

“About an hour or so.” Emma said as they walked through the stable to Applejack’s stall.

First Emma helped saddle the horse for Bailey, while McKenzie put the bridle on. Emma grabbed a riding helmet for the younger girl and led Applejack out of the stable.

Derek met them at the doorway holding Sahara, who was fitted with a new bridle. Derek was Emma’s newest stable hand. He had only been working at Sunshine Stables for two months. Even though Derek was an adult, he reminded McKenzie of her eight-year-old brother, Evan. Both were always full of mischief.

“You look better than you did a while ago,” Derek told McKenzie. “You’re not even limping.”

“Nope. I told you I was fine.” She patted Sahara’s neck.

“McKenzie, why don’t you introduce your friend to Derek? I didn’t have a chance to do that when you were taking your wild ride,” Emma teased.

McKenzie pulled Bailey to her side. “Bailey Chang, meet Derek McGrady. Bailey lives in Peoria, Illinois.”

“Nice to meet you, Bailey. You ready to hop on Applejack? He’s ready for you.” He grabbed the horse’s reins and opened the gate.

McKenzie followed with Sahara. She placed her boot in the stirrup and swung herself up onto the saddle. Then with ease, Bailey hopped onto Applejack’s back.

“Your mom said you’ve done quite a bit of riding, Bailey. Is that right?” Emma asked as she closed the gate behind them.

“Yes. But I’m not as good as McKenzie.” Bailey swept her long bangs away from her forehead and slipped on her helmet. “I’ve done some racing at county fairs but never a rodeo.”

“You’re a lot younger than she is. You have plenty of time to improve.” Emma smiled at Bailey.

“Is it okay if we ride to Old Towne?” McKenzie put her helmet on and fastened the chinstrap.

“Sure. You have your cell phone with you, right?” Emma asked. “After you look around for awhile, head back for chores. Both of you can help with Diamond Girl when she comes in from pasture.”

Diamond Girl was Sunshine Stable’s most famous horse. She was Emma’s prize horse and a rodeo winner. For the last three years, Emma had ridden Diamond Girl in the barrel-racing competition, and each year Emma brought home the first-place trophy. McKenzie couldn’t wait to show Diamond Girl to Bailey.

Eager for a ride, the girls waved to Emma and Derek and headed for the dirt track behind the house. A warm summer breeze rustled the pine trees lining the trail.

“What is Old Towne?” Bailey asked as her horse plodded beside McKenzie’s.

“It’s a bunch of Old West buildings. There’s an old-time Main Street with a general store, post office, and stuff like that. But it’s more like a ghost town now. It belongs to Sunshine Stables and is open during June, July, and the first week of August. It’s closed now for the season. But we can still go look around.” McKenzie shielded her eyes against the sun and peered into the distance.

Pointing her finger, she continued, “See that old wooden windmill way out there? That’s Old Towne.”

“It looks kind of creepy.” Bailey wrinkled her nose.

“You know, there is a spooky story about Old Towne.” McKenzie flicked her reins at Sahara who had stopped to munch some grass. “A long time ago, a mysterious rider was seen riding out there at dusk. Some people say it was a ghost rider.”

Bailey looked quizzically at McKenzie. “Is that for real?”

McKenzie chuckled. “That’s what they say.”

“Has anybody seen the ghost rider lately?” Bailey nudged Applejack forward.

“I haven’t heard anything about it. Emma said the ghost rider story started years before she bought Sunshine Stables. She says someone just made it up to get visitors to come to Old Towne. It worked. Old Towne used to rake in the money. People paid to ride horses from the stables, hoping to see the ghost rider.”

“That’s spooky. A fun kind of spooky, that is,” Bailey said as she leaned over and scratched Applejack’s neck.

“Well, let’s go check the place out. I’ve never been here after it was closed for the season.”

McKenzie nudged Sahara with her heels. The girls galloped down the trail. The horses’ hooves stirred up little puffs of dust.

“Here we are,” McKenzie said as she arrived at the top of a small hill. She halted Sahara and waited for Bailey to catch up.

“Wow! This is neater than I thought it would be!” Bailey exclaimed, her eyes wide.

The girls continued down the trail leading to Main Street. Old storefronts lined both sides of the dirt street. A weathered school building and a church were nestled on a grassy lawn at the edge of town, away from the other buildings.

“Let’s tie our horses at the hitching post and look around.” McKenzie hung her helmet on the post and fluffed her sweaty curls.

After tying both horses, the girls stepped on the wooden sidewalk. Bailey ran ahead, her boots thumping loudly on the wood. She stopped and peered through a streaked windowpane. A tall red and white barber pole stood beside it.

“I can just imagine a cowboy sitting in there getting his hair cut,” Bailey said with a giggle.

“Yeah and then he could head across the street to the general store for a piece of beef jerky and a new pair of chaps.” McKenzie stuck her thumbs in her belt loops and walked bow-legged across the street.

Bailey laughed and raced to catch up with McKenzie. She stopped suddenly in the middle of the street and looked at the dusty ground. “Hey, did cowboys eat candy bars?”

McKenzie picked up the wrapper and shoved it in her pocket. “Maybe the ghost likes the candy. Whooo-ooooh!” McKenzie wailed eerily.

The girls headed to the general store and peered through the window. McKenzie pointed out different items in the darkness. They saw old wooden rakes, hand plows, and row after row of tin cans on the shelves. A headless mannequin wore a long, lacy white dress and a pair of men’s bib overalls hung from a hanger.

Both girls jumped when McKenzie’s cell phone rang. She pulled the phone from her pocket, answered, and listened to the caller for a minute. Then she quickly said “Okay. ’Bye,” and flipped the phone shut.

“That was Emma,” she said. “She wants us to hurry home. Diamond Girl is missing!”


About the book:

When Bailey and McKenzie arrive to help at a horse ranch in Montana, they’re immediately entrenched in mysteries: a horse disappearing into thin air, spookiness in an abandoned western town, and ranch hand upheaval. And with all the unexpected action going on, how will they ever find time to prepare for their rodeo competitions? Can the Camp Club Girls successfully combine their skills to help Bailey and McKenzie save the ranch…and the rodeo for Sunshine Stables?

My Review:

I enjoyed this third book in the Camp Club Girls series. It is meant for the tween age group but I like them too and pass them on to my 13 yr. old girl cousin. You won't feel left out if you start with this book but I enjoyed the first two books in the series as well. I figured out the mystery before the end but a child might not. Recommended.

Its Almost Time Again for the 24 Hour Read a thon


Coming soon on April 10 is the 24 hour read a thon. It starts for me at 7:00 A. M. I have participated several times and enjoy it even though I do not last for 24 hours. I usually can make it around 14 before I fall asleep. lol
To sign up or read more about it go here:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

On The Road Home by Terry Burns

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


On The Road Home


Port Yonder Press; 1st edition (March 3, 2010)


by


Terry Burns






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Terry has over 30 books in print, including work in a dozen short story collections and four non-fiction books plus numerous articles and short stories.



His last book Beyond the Smoke is a 2009 winner of the Will Rogers Medallion for best youth fiction and a nominee for the Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. He has a three book Mysterious Ways series out from David C Cook, and Trails of the Dime Novel from Echelon Press.



A graduate of West Texas State he did post graduate work at Southern Methodist University. Terry plans to continue writing inspirational fiction as well as working as an agent for Hartline Literary Agency. Terry is a native Texan Living in Amarillo, Texas with his lovely wife Saundra.





ABOUT THE BOOK



In our sound-byte society, short stories and poems will always have a place, especially when they've been penned by the likes of Terry Burns. This, the first of four in The Sagebrush Collection, is a compilation of fictional, autobiographical, and fiction-based-on-fact shorts and poems.



Through fluent cowboy-speak, author Terry Burns shares his heart with these sometimes somber, often humorous, always engaging glimpses of life. From short stories about time machines and troubled marriages to poems of roses and hauntingly cold winds, you’ll find much to savor on the pages within.



A born storyteller, Burns style is natural, conversational, and above all real. He’s a fifth generation Irish tale-weaver and a fourth generation Texas Teller of Tall Tales. Storytelling comes as natural to him as breathing.



Come along with Terry as he journeys “On the Road Home”. You’ll be glad you did.



If you would like to read the first chapter of On The Road Home, go HERE.

Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis

This week, the


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


Heart Of Stone
Zondervan (March 1, 2010)


by


Jill Marie Landis






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jill Marie Landis is the bestselling author of over twenty novels. She has won numerous awards for her sweeping emotional romances, such as Summer Moon and Magnolia Creek. In recent years, as market demands turned to tales of vampires, erotica, and hotter, sexier historical romances, Jill turned to writing Inspirational Western Romances for Steeple Hill Books. She truly feels back in the saddle again, working on stories that are a joy to write. With her toes in the sand and head in the clouds, Jill now lives in Hawaii with her husband, Steve.











ABOUT THE BOOK

Laura Foster, free from the bondage of an unspeakable childhood has struggled to make a new life for herself. Now the owner of an elegant boardinghouse in Glory, Texas, she is known as a wealthy, respectable widow. But Laura never forgets that she is always just one step ahead of her past.



When Reverend Brand McCormick comes calling, Laura does all she can to discourage him as a suitor. She knows that if her past were discovered, Brand’s reputation would be ruined. But it’d not only Laura’s past that threatens to bring Brand down─it’s also his own.



When a stranger in town threatens to reveal too many secrets, Laura is faced with a heartbreaking choice: Should she leave Glory forever and save Brand’s future? Or is it worth risking his name─and her heart─by telling him the truth?



If you would like to read the first chapter of Heart Of Stone, go HERE

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Deliver Us From Evil by Robin Caroll

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Deliver Us From Evil

B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Julie Gwinn of B&H Publishing Group for sending me a review copy.***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:




Robin Caroll has authored eight previous books including Bayou Justice and Melody of Murder. She gives back to the writing community as conference director for the American Christian Fiction Writers organization. A proud southerner through and through, Robin lives with her husband and three daughters in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Visit the author's website.




Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: B&H Academic (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0805449809
ISBN-13: 978-0805449808

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
FBI Field Office
Knoxville, Tennessee

Jonathan’s throat closed as he stared at the building from the parking lot. He gripped the package tight in his arthritic hands. Could he do this? Turn over evidence that would implicate him?

His heart raced and he froze. Not the best time for his atrial fibrillation to make an appearance. Despite being on the heart transplant list for eight months, it looked like his progressed heart disease would do him in. The most important reason he couldn’t go to prison—he’d never get a heart and would die. While Carmen wanted him to confess his crimes, she wouldn’t want him to die. The memory of saying good-bye to his beloved mere hours ago scorched his soul.

Her eyes fluttered open. Those blue orbs, which had once sparkled even in the absence of light, now blinked flat and lifeless.

He swallowed hard.

“Jonathan,” her voice croaked, “it’s time.”

Tears burned the backs of his eyes, and he rested his hand over her parchmentlike skin. “No, Carmen. Please, let me get the medicine.”

Her eyelids drooped and she gasped. Air wheezed in her lungs. “Sweetheart, the fight’s . . . gone from me.” She let out a hiss, faint and eerie. “The cancer’s . . . won.”

Jonathan laid his lips against her cheek, her skin cold and clammy, as if in preparation for the morgue. How could she continue to refuse the medicine? Even though she didn’t approve of his means of acquisition, the drugs had kept her alive for five years. Five years he cherished every minute of. He’d do anything to keep her alive and the pain at bay—the intense pain that had become her constant companion these last two weeks. It killed him to witness her agony.

She licked her bottom lip, but no moisture soaked into the cracked flesh. “You’ve done . . . your best by me, Jonathan. I know . . . you meant . . . no harm to . . . anyone.” Her eyes lit as they once had. “Oh, how I’ve enjoyed loving you.”

His insides turned to oatmeal. Stubborn woman—she’d allow herself to die, all because she discovered how he’d gotten the money.

“Promise me . . . you’ll . . . tell the . . . truth. Admit what . . . you’ve done.” Her breath rattled. “What you’ve . . . all done.”

Pulling himself from the wretched memory, Jonathan breathed through the heat tightening his chest. He’d secure himself the best deal possible—immunity—or he wouldn’t decipher the papers. And without him no one could make sense of the accounting system he’d created more than five years ago. Officials hadn’t a clue.

With a deep breath he headed to the guardhouse in front of the fenced FBI building. His legs threatened to rebel, stiffening with every step. He forced himself to keep moving, one foot in front of the other.

At the guardhouse, a man behind bulletproof glass looked up. “May I help you?”

“I need to . . . see someone.”

“About what, sir?”

“I have some information regarding a crime.” He waved the file he held.

“One moment, sir, and someone will be with you.”

Jonathan stared at the cloudy sky. He could still turn back, get away scot-free. His heartbeat sped. The world blurred. No, he couldn’t lose consciousness now, nor could he go back on his promise. He owed it to Carmen. No matter what happened, he’d honor Carmen’s dying wish.

“Sir?” A young man in a suit stood beside the fenced entry, hand resting on the butt of his gun. “May I help you?”

Jonathan lifted the file. “I have some evidence regarding an ongoing crime ring.”

The agent motioned him toward a metal-detector arch. “Come through this way, sir.”

Jonathan’s steps wavered. He dragged his feet toward the archway.

A car door creaked. Jonathan glanced over his shoulder just as two men in full tactical gear stormed toward them. He had a split second to recognize one of the men’s eyes, just before gunfire erupted.

A vise gripped Jonathan’s heart, and he slumped to the dirty tile floor, the squeezing of his heart demanding his paralysis.

Too late. I’m sorry, Carmen.

Two Weeks Later—Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.
Golden Gloves Boxing of Knoxville

Ooof!

Brannon Callahan’s head jerked backward. She swiped her headgear with her glove.

“You aren’t concentrating on your form. You’re just trying to whale on me.” Steve Burroughs, her supervisor and sparring partner, bounced on the balls of his feet.

“Then why am I the one getting hit?” She threw a right jab that missed his jaw.

He brushed her off with his glove. “Don’t try to street fight me. Box.”

She clamped down on her mouthpiece and threw an uppercut with her left fist. It made contact, sending vibrations up her arm.

He wobbled backward, then got his balance. “Nice shot.”

It felt good to hit something. Hard. Sparring with Steve was the best form of venting. The energy had to be spent somehow—why not get a workout at the same time? She ducked a right cross, then followed through with a left-right combination. Both shots made full contact.

Steve spit out his mouthpiece and leaned against the ropes. “I think that’s enough for today, girl. I’m an old man, remember?”

She couldn’t fight the grin. Although only in his late forties, the chief ranger looked two decades older. With gray hair, hawk nose, and skin like tanned leather, Steve had already lived a lifetime.

She removed her mouthpiece, gloves, and headgear before sitting on the canvas. “Old? You’re still kickin’ me in the ring.”

He tossed her a towel and sat beside her. “So you wanna tell me what’s got you all hot and bothered this afternoon?”

She shrugged.

“Come on, spit it out. I know something’s gnawing at you, just like you were picking a fight with me in the ring. What’s up?”

How could she explain? “I’m not exactly keen that the district feels there’s a need for another pilot in the park.” She tightened the scrunchie keeping her hair out of her face.

“That’s a compliment—having you on staff has been so successful they want to expand.”

“But I have to train him. Did you notice his arrogance?” She ripped at the tape bound around her knuckles. “He’s nothing more than a young upstart with an ego bigger than the helicopter.” While only thirty-six, she often felt older than Steve looked.

“You’re so good, you can come across a bit intimidating at first, girl.” Steve grabbed the ropes and pulled to standing, then offered her a hand. “Give him a chance.”

She let Steve tug her up. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Even if he had maturity, I still have to train him. With all the rescues we’ve been called out on of late . . . well, I really don’t have the time.” She exited the ring. “Like those kids yesterday.” She shook her head as she waited for Steve to join her on the gym floor. “Their stupidity almost cost them their lives.”

“They were young, Brannon.”

“Please. Any amateur with half a brain should know better than to try to climb Clingmans Dome in winter.” Didn’t people realize if something happened to them they’d leave behind devastated family and friends? Loved ones who would mourn them forever? She fought against the familiar pain every time she participated in a search and rescue. All because people hadn’t taken necessary precautions.

“They didn’t know any better.”

“It takes a special kind of stupid not to have researched your climb.” Most SARs could be avoided if people planned a little more. It ripped her apart that so many parents, grandparents, siblings . . . fiancĂ©es . . . survived to deal with such grief. She’d tasted the bitterness of grief—twice—and the aftertaste still lingered.

Steve paused outside the locker rooms and shifted his sparring gear to one hand. “I agree, but most people don’t see the dangers we do every day.” He tapped her shoulder. “Hit the showers, champ. You stink.”

She laughed as she headed into the ladies’ locker room. Maybe Steve was right and the new pilot just made a lousy first impression. Maybe he’d be easy to train.

Please, God, let it be so.

Friday, 2:15 p.m.
US Marshals Office, Howard Baker Federal Courthouse
Knoxville, Tennessee

“You want me to escort a heart?” Roark struggled to keep his voice calm. He tapped the butt of his Beretta, welcoming it back to its rightful place on his hip.

Senior US Marshal Gerald Demott glared. “Look, I know you think this is a slight, but it’s important. And for your first assignment back on the job . . .”

“IA cleared me of all wrongdoing. I’m seeing the shrink and everything.” He gritted his teeth and exhaled. “I’ve been released to return to active duty.”

“This is active. It’s a field assignment, and it’s important. Here’s the case information.” Demott passed him a folder, then glanced at his watch. “You’d better hurry or you’ll miss your flight.”

Roark grabbed the file and turned to go.

“Holland.”

He looked back at his boss. “Yeah?”

Demott held out Roark’s badge. “You might want to take this with you, too.”

Roark accepted the metal emblem, then clipped it to his belt before marching out of Demott’s office. A heart. His job was to escort a human heart from North Carolina to Knoxville. Any rookie could handle that. But no, they still didn’t trust him enough to handle a real assignment.

He’d done everything they asked—took a medical leave of absence while Internal Affairs went over every painful minute
of his failed mission, saw the shrink they demanded he speak to every week since Mindy’s death, answered their relentless questions. The shrink reiterated he’d been forgiven for acting on his own.

Maybe one day he’d forgive himself. How many innocent lives would he have to save for his conscience to leave him be?

Roark slipped into the car, then headed to the airport. But to be assigned a heart transport? Not only was it wrong, it was downright insulting. After almost fifteen years as a marshal, he’d earned the benefit of the doubt from his supervisors. Especially Demott. His boss should know him better, know he’d only disregard orders if it was a matter of life and death.

But Mindy Pugsley died. They’d all died.

He pushed the nagging voice from his mind. Even Dr. Martin had advised him not to dwell on the past. On what had gone wrong. On disobeying a direct order.

If only Mindy didn’t haunt his dreams.

Roark touched the angry scar that ran along his right cheekbone to his chin. A constant reminder that he’d failed, that he’d made a mistake that took someone’s life. He’d have to live with the pain for the rest of his life.

He skidded the car into the airport’s short-term parking lot. After securing the car and gathering the case folder, Roark grabbed his coat. Snowflakes pelted downward, swirling on the bursts of wind and settling on the concrete. The purple hues of the setting sun streaked across the mountain peaks beyond the runways, making the January snow grab the last hope of light.

Yes, he’d handle this mundane assignment, then tell Demott he wanted back on real active duty. Making a difference would be the best thing for him. Would make him feel whole again.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Its Monday What Are You Reading? March 22, 2010



Sheila at One Persons Journey Through a World of Books hosts this weekly event where we celebrate what we are reading for the week as well as books completed the previous week.
Books I read last week:
- A Soldier's Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt
- Second Chance Family by Margaret Daley
- A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus
- High Plains Bride by Valerie Hanson
- Heartland Wedding by Renee Ryan
- Kansas Courtship by Victoria Bylin
Books I am currently reading:
- Start Here by Alex and Brett Harris
- Dad in Training by Gail Gaymer Martin
- Audio version of the Gurnsey Literary and Potato Peel Society ( I have read the hard copy twice) :)
Books I plan to read next:
- Plain Paradise by Beth Wiseman
- Heart of Stone by Jill Marie Landis
- On the Road Home by Terry Burns

The Week in Words: March 21, 2010

The Week in Words is a meme hosted by Melissa at breath of life ministries. The goal is to share quotations from the material you have read in the previous week.

From page 97 of High Plains Bride by Valerie Hanson

"No one had any guarantees of another day or even one moment of life. Life was a divine gift and should be considered such. For man to assume he was in charge of his own destiny was the ultimate folly. Still that did not mean it wasn't prudent to do one's best at all times, Will argued sensibly."


I am not sure I completely agree with the last part of the quote about destiny. I agree you should do your best at all times because the Bible says so but ultimately we control our actions. We have the power to do good or bad. The Bible does say our days were numbered before we were born so we should make the most of every day we have.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon March 21, 2010

The Sunday Salon.com

* Where did the weekend go seems to be a common refrain tonight. lol

* I was off work Friday for the plumber to make his second trip to our house. Way too complicated to explain. He was here over three hours. Anyway that afternoon I ran errands and went to my 13 year old girl cousin's birthday party that night. A little different this year because they are starting to grow up and are not as giggly but still fun. We played that game Would you rather part of the time and it is interesting to hear the answers from different generations viewpoints.

* Saturday I did not really accomplish anything but read two books. :)

* This morning I left the house at 10:30 and went to Wal Mart, my aunt's house, Kroger, back to my aunt's house to make a chocolate devil's food cake for someone I work with birthday tomorrow, Kroger, and then home. Tonight I took the trash out, am doing the laundry, writing blog posts , and I really hope to finish another book tonight.

* I joined the Spring Reading Thing yesterday. I am really excited Spring is here and it is one of my favorite reading challenges. Here is the link to my post: http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/03/spring-reading-thing-2010-my-list.html

*I also joined the Once Upon a Time Reading Challenge hosted by Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings. http://abookloverforever.blogspot.com/2010/03/once-upon-time-reading-challenge-2010.html

* I hope everyone has a great week and lots of reading time. :)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Case for Love by Kaye Dacus (Review)

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!



Today's Wild Card author is:




and the book:



A Case for Love

Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)

***Special thanks to Angie Brillhart, Publicist, of Barbour Publishing for sending me a review copy.***


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Author Kaye Dacus enjoyed her visits to a local television station while researching this book. She likes to say she writes “inspirational romance with a sense of humor.” She lives in Nashville and graduated from Seton Hill University’s Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction program. She is an active member and former Vice President of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW).

Visit the author's website.

Product Details:

List Price: $10.97
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Barbour Books (February 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1602604568
ISBN-13: 978-1602604568

About the book:
The Alaine Delacroix that all of Bonneterre knows is the carefully polished image she puts forth every day on her noontime news-magazine program. When her parents’ home and small business is threatened by the biggest corporation in town, Alaine is forced to choose between her image and fighting for the life her family has built.

Lawyer Forbes Guidry is used to making things go his way. But when he’s asked to take on a pro bono case for a colleague, he’ll learn that he can’t control everything—including his feelings for his new client: Alaine Delacroix.Alaine’s only option to help her family is hiring Forbes, but can she bring herself to trust the handsome, disarmingly charming lawyer? And will Forbes Guidry be able to make a case for love before losing his job and family? Can both trust that God will present a solution before it’s too late?


AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:



“You did what?”

Forbes Guidry sank into the tall-backed leather chair, extremities numb, and stared at the couple sitting across the desk from him. As a partner in the largest law firm in Bonneterre, Louisiana, he’d heard a lot of shocking things over the fourteen years he’d been practicing. But nothing had hit him quite like this.

“We eloped.” His sister held up her left hand where a diamond wedding band had been added below the antique engagement ring she’d sported for the past three months. “I know you were looking forward to being Major’s best man, which is why we’re telling you before breaking it to the rest of the family.”

He hardly spared a glance at his best friend—now his brother-in-law—before pinning his gaze on his sister. “Meredith, this is a joke, right? What about the meeting Monday with Anne—the plans we discussed?” Sure, Meredith had been a little too quiet during that meeting, had voiced concerns about how big the wedding seemed to be growing, but she’d been coming off working a huge event that weekend and had been tired. . .hadn’t she?

“Things were getting out of hand—had already gone too far.”

“Stop.” Forbes fought the urge to press his hands over his ears. “Way too much information.”

Major chuckled; Meredith frowned at both of them. “Oh, for mercy’s sake. I’m talking about the wedding plans. Neither of us wanted a big wedding, but every time we met with Anne—or you, or anyone in the family—it grew exponentially. Especially once Mom and Dad stuck their oars in and started making lists of all of their business acquaintances that needed to be invited.”

Forbes stared at his sister, dumbfounded. He prided himself on knowing exactly what each member of his family was thinking before they ever thought it. How had this blindsided him so completely?

He finally turned his attention on Major. “When you came in Tuesday to talk about the restaurant, did you already have this planned?”

“No. Not planned. We’d discussed it, but it wasn’t until that night when we made the decision.” Major had the good grace to look abashed.

And you didn’t call me? Forbes reined in the childish words with a tight fist of control. He faced his sister again. “When and where did you get married?”

“Yesterday, when Mom and Dad met us at Beausoleil Pointe Center for lunch with Major’s mom. We’d asked the chaplain to perform the ceremony, and we got married in the pavilion where Major proposed to me.”

Forbes turned away from the dewy-eyed look Meredith gave her new husband, feeling ill. That would explain why Meredith hadn’t shown up for dinner with the siblings and cousins last night. He’d just assumed she was working overtime preparing for an event this weekend.

When the silence stretched, Forbes looked at them again.

Meredith’s eyes narrowed speculatively at Forbes. “Major, would you mind if I had a private word with my brother?”

“Sure. No problem.” Major stood, smoothing the front of his chinos. “I–I’ll wait for you out in the car.”

“Thanks.” Meredith never pulled her gaze away from Forbes—giving him the look that had always been able to make him squirm.

Forbes watched his friend leave the office, then pressed his lips together and faced his sister again.

“What is it that bothers you most? That you aren’t going to be best man, that you don’t get to be involved and have a say in the wedding plans, or that you didn’t see this coming?” Meredith crossed her legs and clasped her hands around her knee, her expression betraying smugness and amusement.

What bothered him most was that over the past six or eight months, Meredith had slowly been pulling away from the family. Ever since she’d bought that house against his—and their parents’—advice, she’d started keeping secrets, spending less time with them. As the oldest, it was his responsibility to keep his six brothers and sisters in line, to watch out for and protect them, and to guide them in making their decisions. Mom and Dad had laid that burden on him early in life, and he’d gladly carried it. But how could he express that to Meredith without coming across sounding like a little boy who hadn’t gotten his way?

“I’m not bothered, just surprised. You’re the last person in the family I’d expect to do something without planning it out well in advance.” He gave her his most charming grin. “It is what you do for a living, after all.”

She responded with a half smile. “And thus the reason for eloping. Between the busiest event-load we’ve ever had, the Warehouse Row project, and Major getting ready for the groundbreaking on the restaurant, we were just tired of schedules and checklists and menus and seating charts. Now Marci won’t feel like her wedding is being overshadowed by her oldest sister’s, since she decided to plan a Christmas wedding and we didn’t want to wait that long.”

He could see her point, but. . . “Don’t you feel like you’ve cheated yourself out of the wedding you always wanted? Growing up, you and Anne used to talk about your dream weddings.”

Meredith shrugged. “Anne always had the ideas. I guess that’s why she’s been such a great success as a wedding planner—every week she had bigger and grander ideas. Whenever I really thought about it, I couldn’t imagine myself in the big dress, my hair all done up, standing there in front of that many people. I guess I never dreamed about a wedding—I just dreamed about falling in love and being married.”

Come to think about it, Forbes couldn’t picture his jeans–and–T-shirt sister in a fluffy white gown, either. He ran his finger along the edge of the desk blotter.

“And look at the bright side: Now you don’t have to find a date for the wedding.”

He released a derisive sound in the back of his throat. “Yes, since that worked out so well at Anne’s wedding—for my date, anyway.”

“How do you always manage to find these women who’re just trying to make their boyfriends jealous?”

He shrugged.

“You know, I know someone I think would be perfect for you, if you’d like me to see if she’d be agreeable to being set up on a blind date with you.”

His insides quivered at the idea. “Thank you kindly, but I’ll have to pass and just leave it up to chance. As I told George Laurence a long time ago, when God’s ready for me to fall in love, He’ll throw the right woman into my path.”

“Uh, did you think that maybe your sisters’ and cousins’ attempts to set you up on dates might be God’s way of throwing the right woman in your path?”

“Not unless He’s shared something with you He hasn’t told me.” Forbes rounded the desk and held out his hand to his sister. She rose, and he pulled her into a hug. “Congratulations, Sis. I’m confident that you and Major will be happier together than you can even imagine.”

“I know we will be.”

“I’ll walk you out.”

Halfway down the stairs, he paused. “What about a honeymoon? Don’t tell me you’re going to just drop everything and take a two-week vacation that hasn’t been on the schedule for the past six months.”

“No. Since the events next week can be handled by our assistants, we’re leaving next Wednesday for a long weekend in Colorado. Amazing how this managed to coincide with the Aspen Food and Wine Classic that Major’s always wanted to go to, huh?” But from the smile on her face, he could tell she didn’t begrudge indulging Major’s wishes in the least.

Heading back to his office after seeing his sister and brother-in-law off—would he ever get used to that?—Forbes feigned harriedness to keep anyone from trying to stop him for a chat.

“Samantha, no calls for the next half hour, please,” he told his secretary on his way past her desk.

“Yes, Mr. Guidry.”

He leaned against his door after closing it. His office, with its walls of built-in, dark wood cabinets and bookcases, seemed to press in around him.

What he’d told Meredith was true; he was absolutely certain that she and Major would have a happy marriage. Both of them were easygoing, almost too eager to give up what they wanted to make someone else happy. Forbes had learned a long time ago that he didn’t have the right personality to get married. Every girl he’d dated in high school or college had wanted to go out with him because of his looks. And every one of them had eventually broken up with him for one of two reasons: Either she thought he was selfish and didn’t pay enough attention to her, or she thought he was too controlling and tried to smother her.

He’d completely given up on dating after his ten-year high school class reunion, at which he’d overheard two of his ex-girlfriends having a laugh about how it was no surprise to them that he wasn’t married yet.

He crossed to the window behind his desk and leaned against the frame, staring down at the visitor parking lot. His twenty-year reunion was coming up in the fall. And while he’d love to find some ravishing beauty to take to it to shut up all those exes, he didn’t want the hassle of expectations that came from taking someone out on a date.

When the thirty minutes he’d given himself to brood expired, he opened the office door and asked Samantha to come in to review his schedule for the remainder of the day.

He made several notes in his PDA while she reviewed the afternoon’s appointments and meetings. When she finished and closed her planner, she hesitated, biting her lips.

“What is it?” He leaned back in his chair, curious. She’d never acted in the least intimidated or scared of him before. She’d worked for him a little less than a year, but she was the first secretary he’d had who didn’t seem to mind a boss others had called a micromanager—had even stood up to him a time or two.

“Someone from Bonneterre Lifestyles called a little while ago. It seems you didn’t RSVP for the dinner tonight.”

Forbes groaned. Ever since he’d assisted in partner Tess Folse’s run for city council five years ago—during which he’d given many speeches, appeared on all the local channels’ news broadcasts, and had his photo in the paper multiple times—he’d been a fixture on the magazine’s beefcake list, having garnered enough votes to win and get his face on the front cover twice.

“I suppose it’s black tie?”

Samantha nodded. “That’s what the gal said.”

“Seven o’clock?”

“They offered a car—a limo—for you, if you want.”

He pressed his thumb and forefinger to the bridge of his nose. The three other partners—all women—were thrilled every year when he told them of his inclusion on the list. The articles enumerating his accomplishments were good exposure for the firm, they’d say. Up until now, he’d found some excuse or another to avoid the dinner. This year, Tess, Sandra, and Esther had strongly suggested he make an appearance at the magazine’s big publicity event at which the magazine’s cover would be revealed and the top five bachelors named and recognized with awards.

He glanced over Samantha’s head at the three plaques and two glass trophies on a display shelf. Maybe they needed to give him a new award—Bonneterre’s Most Perpetual Bachelor. He hoped this year he wasn’t again the oldest man on the list.

“Call them back and tell them I’d be delighted to attend, but I’ll drive myself.”

“Will do, boss.” Samantha scooped up her planner and the folders Forbes had given her to refile, and crossed to the door. “And Mr. Guidry?”

“Yes, Samantha?”

“Do try to have fun tonight, okay?”

“Uh-huh. As fun as jumping into a pool full of thumbtacks.”

Samantha’s laughter followed her out of the room.

His gaze flickered back to the emblems of his perpetual singleness. He’d heard the magazine always invited the year’s Most Eligible Bachelorettes to the dinner—possibly hoping to set up a relationship and eventual wedding they could report in their pages. Maybe he could find someone there to take to the reunion—so long as she understood there were no strings attached.

[insert line space]

Alaine Delacroix scrubbed off her on-air makeup. “Matt, have you seen Pricilla since I went off air? I need to talk to her about the event tonight.”

The intern frowned. “I thought you were a guest at the thing, not covering it.”

“Who else is going to cover something like that other than me? I’m the only reporter at this station who covers the social scene.” Not that she wanted to anymore. But until the news director actually looked at the hard-news pieces she’d been doing on her own time, she’d be stuck covering the fluff stories as she had for the past decade of her life.

“If I see her, I’ll tell her you need to talk to her.” The college student waved and left the small prep room.

Alaine turned to check her appearance in the large mirror to make sure she didn’t have mascara smeared down her cheeks. She made the inspection as quick as possible, hating to see her own reflection with no makeup. Even with her shoulder-length black hair still styled from her noon broadcast, with no makeup on, all she saw in the mirror were flaws—dark circles under her eyes, freckles scattered across her nose and cheeks, and the bumps on her forehead that never seemed to go away.

She applied concealer under her eyes, powder all over her face, and a touch of eye makeup, blush, and lip gloss before returning to her desk in the newsroom. Once upon a time, Alaine Delacroix would have thought nothing of walking around with no makeup on. But that had been a very long time ago; she’d been a different person then.

An envelope with the station’s logo and return address in the top left corner sat on her chair when she got back to her cubicle, bearing her name in handwriting she didn’t recognize. She opened it—and smiled. She’d hoped the marketing director would be able to come through for her.

She picked up her phone and dialed a number from memory.

“Boudreaux-Guidry Enterprises, Events and Facilities, this is Meredith.”

“Hey, girl. It’s Alaine.”

“Oh—hi.” Meredith sounded funny. “What’s up?”

Alaine laughed. “I can’t believe you’re going to pretend you don’t know why I’m calling you.”

“You—how did you find out?”

All traces of amusement evaporated, her reporter’s instincts kicking in. Meredith sounded like someone who had a secret. “You know a journalist can’t reveal her sources. So? Spill it. I want details.”

“I haven’t told most of my family yet. If I give you details, you have to promise you won’t say anything to anyone until after Sunday. We’re telling the family at dinner after church.”

“Strictly off the record.” Alaine picked up a pen and steno pad, but forced herself to put them down again and rotate in her chair so that her back was to the desk.

“We had the chaplain at Beausoleil Pointe Center marry us yesterday afternoon. We surprised our parents.”

All the air in Alaine’s lungs froze solid. Meredith Guidry and Major O’Hara had eloped? “But I thought you were having your cousin Anne plan a big wedding for you. I was hoping to cover it, since Major has become quite the celebrity, what with his cooking segments on my show.”

“We decided we were just too busy to try to plan a big wedding. And we’ve already wasted eight years. Why put it off any longer?”

A flash-fire of jealousy forced the air out of Alaine’s lungs. Meredith had been one of her few friends who was still unmarried—and the only true friend Alaine had had in years. She hated being single; even more than becoming a serious journalist, getting married was the one thing she wanted most in life. Yet at thirty-two years old, she was starting to worry that the chances of either dream coming true were not just slipping, but sprinting, away.

Alaine had to swallow past the huge lump in her throat to make her voice work. “Congratulations, Mere. I’m really happy for you.” She glanced down at the envelope crumpled in her fist. “Oh, I got the passes for the Art without Limits exhibit preview and fundraiser at the Beausoleil Fine Arts Center, if you’re still interested in going.”

“Of course I am. And since Major’s catering it, I won’t have to feel guilty about going off and leaving him home alone. Thanks again for thinking of me.”

“I don’t know anyone else who likes art, and I hate going to those things by myself.” She twisted the spiral cord around her finger tightly, trying to see if the slight pain would help squeeze out her envy.

“Same here—oh, my other line just lit up. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay. Bye.” Alaine turned around to hang up the receiver, then put her head down on her folded arms atop the desk. God, why is everyone I know married or engaged? Am I the last old maid left in Bonneterre?

She knew the answer to that, of course. Twenty-four other “eligible bachelorettes” would be at the Bonneterre Lifestyles dinner along with her, if they all showed up. And who wouldn’t, when they’d have VIP access to the handsomest, wealthiest, highest-profile single men in town for the evening?

Mother’s constant harping on her to get married—and soon—was starting to make Alaine feel like something was wrong with her for still being single at her age. The facts that Joe and his wife couldn’t have kids and that Tony, at age twenty-six, wasn’t anywhere near ready to settle down put all the pressure of producing grandchildren anytime soon on Alaine. And she wasn’t even sure she wanted kids.

She sat up and tried to run her fingers through her hair—before remembering it was still shellacked with hair spray.

Maybe tonight she’d give those bachelors more than just a professional glance. Maybe it was time to get a little arm candy to show her parents—and anyone else who might be looking—that she was at least trying. And she never knew: Mr. Right could be Bachelor Number One, Two, or Twenty-Five.

My Review:

This is the third book in the Brides of Bonneterre series. All of the characters from the previous two books make an appearance in this book so I recommed reading them in order to get the background on everyone. The main part of the story focuses on Alaine and Forbes though. I loved this book and even though I liked the first two books in the series too, this one is my favorite. All of the characters are strong and come alive and are memorable. The setting, characters, and plot are interesting and unique. I like the way Alaine and Forbes relationship develops over the course of the book. The dynamics of their relationship spark too.

Even though this is a somewhat light, funny, romance novel there are deeper truths to be found. Forbes has serious control issues espcially as the oldest son in the family. He drives his siblings crazy trying to take care of them. He is a successful lawyer but still single in his late 30s. Alaine has been on his radar for years because of her news anchor job. It takes up most of her time espcially since she wants to do hard core news and not just her around town series. They live in the same area but hardly ever cross paths. Sparks fly when they do. Forbes is my favorite out of all the men.

This book kept my attention from page one and is going on my keeper shelf. I wish it was not the last in the series. Highly Recommended! :)