Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Win an AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF CHASING RED by Isabelle Ronin

Have you been waiting on CHASING RED? If so, here's your chance to win an autographed print copy. Just tell me WHAT appeals to you the most about this book & you'll be entered. Please leave your email in your comment so I can contact you if you're the winner!  Good Luck!



THEY SAID SHE WAS GOING TO BE MY RUIN...
THEN LET HER RUIN ME.

He had everything—wealth, adoration, a brilliant future. Until one chance encounter changed everything.
The moment Caleb Lockhart spotted the mysterious woman in her siren red dress, he couldn’t tear his eyes away.
For the first time in his life, he wanted something. Something he knew he could never have.
The unforgettable stranger he dubs RED.

Millions of Wattpad readers love Caleb and Red’s epic story:
“I love this book to the core.”
“I was so addicted… So in love that I couldn’t stop reading.”
“The characters are just so real and possess such pure, raw emotions and passion.”
“This book took me through an emotional roller coaster! I love everything about it!”

Available September 5th 
The beach was a good half-hour drive from Caleb’s place. We drove there with our windows open, the wind blowing my long hair. It was dark, the roads free of traffic.
I felt excited, energized, and at the same time Caleb’s hand in mine calmed my anxious mind.
He threw me a glance, his thumb stroking my palm.
“I’m glad you’re here with me, Red.”
I swallowed the lump in my throat. No one had said that to me before. I turned my gaze out the window so he wouldn’t see how much his words had affected me.
Tonight I was seeing a side of Caleb I hadn’t encountered before. I didn’t know what to think of it, or maybe I did but refused to think about it.
All I knew was that I liked this boy as I had never liked anyone before.
He parked his car in front of the lakeside shops that had already closed for the night. We took off our shoes, then walked on the beach, the white sand cool as our feet dug into it.
The wind was a little chilly, and I wrapped my arms around my middle to ward off the cold. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Caleb shrug out of his jacket.
“Here,” he said, placing it on my shoulders.
“What about you?”
“Just hold my hand. You warm me up.”
But he was the one who warmed me up inside as his hand reached for mine again, pulling me close to his side as we walked.
“I knew you were avoiding me,” he began after a moment. His voice held no resentment, only understanding. That surprised me. “I knew you didn’t want anything to do with me the past few weeks, but I thought about you. Actually,” he corrected, his voice deepening. “I think I’m a little obsessed.”
He sighed when I didn’t respond as quickly as he may have expected. “I’m sorry if I made you feel like I was forcing you to do something you didn’t like.”
I walked beside him for a moment, listening to the sound of the waves before I answered. “I’m sorry I said that. It’s not that, really… You confuse me, Caleb.”
I knew he was waiting for me to say something more, to explain, but the words were stuck in my throat.
“Sometimes I think you’re a very sad girl, Red.”
He was more observant than I’d given him credit for. Because he was right, I realized. I had been sad for a long, long time. I had been starved for love and affection for so long that I’d forgotten what it felt like. I had refused to let anyone in, afraid to be hurt again. But this boy holding my hand was stripping me of my armor bit by bit.
It scared me.
“All I could think about was how to make you smile again. Not the fake ones you give to people to be polite. I want your real smile, where your eyes light up and your lips stretch up to your ears.”
My ears were ringing. What was he trying to say?
“You confuse me,” I repeated. “I-I don’t know what you want.”
He stopped suddenly, and I had to turn around to face him.
“Don’t you?” he asked solemnly, directly.
His eyes were burning with emotion. I looked away.
Who was this boy? This intense, serious boy who looked at me as if he could see my soul.
“I-I’m not ready, Caleb.”
He nodded. “That’s okay. I’ve been waiting for you to come along for a long time now. I think I can wait some more.”
“Don’t you think this is too fast?”
“The thing is, I’ve made up my mind. And my mind says it’s you. If I’d just met you today, I would still want you today, tomorrow, five days from now…” His voice trailed off, and I was scared he was going to say forever or some ridiculous thing like that.
I didn’t believe in forever. Forever was for people who believed in fairy tales. And I never had.
“You’re scaring me.”
He let out a quiet laugh. “I know. You just have to endure it.” He paused. “After all, how could you give up a handsome boy like me?”
And the usual Caleb was back.
“But you have to promise me something,” I said.
“What is it?”
“Don’t kiss me.”
He did that thing again where he angled his head and studied me. I squirmed.
“You’re afraid of my kisses.” It wasn’t a question. “You’re afraid of how they make you feel.”
I swallowed a chunk of cowardice that was lodged in my throat. Of course, he was right. How could he know what I was feeling before I realized it myself?
“Why promise something when I’d fail miserably?”
“Will you try at least?” I persisted.
“No, Red.”
He looked to the water, sighed, and looked at me.
“I don’t think I could keep from kissing you if I wanted to. It’s not even a choice for me anymore. I need to touch you, to breathe you in. I need to see you look up at me and smile. I need to see you happy…even grumpy or angry, as long as I can see you. I crave everything about you. I crave everything about you a little too much.”
I held my breath as my heart knocked wildly against my chest.
Suddenly he sat on the sand, resting his back on a broken tree trunk and tugging me down with him.
“Lie back on me.”
I had about two seconds before he was pulling me toward him, my back against his chest, my legs encased between his. I was drowning in Caleb.
“Just relax. I won’t kiss you tonight if you really don’t want me to.”
Suddenly, I wanted him to kiss me again.
What was wrong with me? When he was offering it, I didn’t want it, but now faced with the possibility that he wouldn’t kiss me tonight, I suddenly yearned for it.
I rested my cheek on his shoulder, inhaling his scent. He stiffened.
“Don’t do that if you don’t want to be kissed tonight. I only have so much control before I—” He cut himself off before he could finish.
“Before you what?” I could hear the smile in my voice. Even to my ears, I sounded…happy.
Caleb couldn’t resist me. Caleb, the gorgeous and charming boy that everyone wanted, couldn’t resist me. Me, someone used to not being wanted. It seemed unreal.
His eyes narrowed. “Are you deliberately provoking me?”
His expression turned serious as he cupped my face with his hands and forced me to look at him.
“What do you want, Red?” he whispered, his voice husky.
I opened my mouth, but nothing came out. Hadn’t he figured out that I’d changed my mind and wanted him to kiss me? Was I not throwing him enough signals?
“Say it, or I won’t do it,” he declared, his eyes mesmerizing me into surrender.
“Kiss me, Caleb.”
I didn’t have to say it twice. His mouth claimed my lips. Gone were the butterfly kisses; gone were the teasing and coaxing. This was a branding. One of his hands was on my back, pushing me against him, while the other plunged into my hair, cupping my head so that he could control the kiss.
I own you, his kiss said. We kissed for a long, long time.



Monday, August 7, 2017

Victoria Vane is back w/ VIRTUE (The Sons of Scotland #1)

Victoria Vane is back in the historical game after taking a break and expanding her horizons with several contemporaries!  If you loved the DeVere series, get ready for

Alex left the keep for midday prayer but instead of retiring as usual to the chapel, he found his gaze drawn to a distant promontory. He needed a solitary place to think and pray. His instincts urged him to go to that high place apart from people just as the Lord had done in troubling times.
After wandering for about half a mile in the general direction, he encountered a narrow drover path that seemed to lead the right way. The going was steep, rocky, and overgrown from irregular use, but he was certain it led to his intended destination. When he reached the top of the cliff, Alex was surprised to discover a circle of carved stones marking an old Druid worship site. In the center of the circle stood a great oak tree. At first he hesitated to go further, but then considered the place. What better way to venerate the one true God than to rededicate to Him this former site of Pagan worship?
Kneeling beneath the branches, Alex retrieved his psalm book. Though he opened the page by habit, he closed his eyes and recited the verses by rote. “Bow down thine ear, O Lord, hear me: for I am poor and needy—Ouch!” He cried out as an acorn dropped upon his head. “Be merciful unto me, O Lord,” he continued, “for I cry unto thee daily.” He drew breath to continue, only to be struck by another acorn, and then a third! “Bluidy squirrels!”
Mumbling a curse, he rubbed his head, and once more took up his psalter. “Give ear, O Lord, unto my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon thee: for thou wilt answer me.”
He startled at a sudden rustle of leaves, but there was no wind to stir them. The branches above him shook more violently, but now he had the good sense to protect himself. But this time, the hailstorm of acorns was echoed by a ripple of feminine giggles.Alex’s gaze darted upward, searching through the thick canopy of green to a flash of billowy white. Had he somehow conjured a wood sprite? He was quick to shake off that notion. He didn’t ascribe to old folklore or superstition, and would surely burn in hell if he allowed such Highland heresy to rub off on him.
Closing his book, he stood and searched the tree more intently. The glimpse of white he’d seen transformed into a more corporeal shape—that of Sibylla.“Sibylla?” he cried out. “What the de’il are ye doing in that tree?”“Looking for mistletoe, of course,” she answered as if he were a simpleton.“Mistletoe?” He frowned at her. “Ye shouldna follow the Pagan ways.”
“Is it evil and heathenish to make medicine for my clan?” she argued. “‘Tis not as if I’m performing human sacrifices!”Alexander had no reply.
“I come here often to be alone,” she said, stretching out full length. The branch barely dipped under her weight. “It’s quiet and peaceful and the view of the land is breathtaking. There’s room for two. Ye should come up here and see it.” Swinging back up to a sitting position, she dangled her bare legs and patted the place beside her.“I willna humor ye, Sibylla.”“Why nae? Canna ye climb?” she taunted. “Or perhaps yer robes get in the way? Ye could always do what I do and tie them up.”
His gaze tracked slowly upward from her delicate bared toes, to a set of trim white ankles, and then to a pair of smooth, shapely calves. Alexander shut his eyes before he could give in to the temptation of looking higher. He really should leave now. He’d come to this place seeking peace for his soul, but all he could think about now were the strange stirrings in his body.
“Enough of the games. If ye want to speak ye’ll come down!”
“Verra well,” she replied with a huff. “Hold out yer arms.”“What? Ye canna mean to jump!”She grinned. “But I do.” Bracing her hands on either side of her hips, she wiggled forward on the branch.“Ye’ll break yer fool neck,” he warned.“Nae if ye catch me.” Her gaze sought his. “Would ye let me fall, Alexander?” she asked softly.“Nae,” he murmured with a slow shake of his head. “I’d ne'er see ye hurt if I could help it.”Her mouth stretched into an impish grin. “Then ye’d best hold out yer arms.”Before he could protest, she launched herself from the tree. Alex crashed backwards feeling like a ton of stones hit him as her small body slammed him onto the ground. While he lay stunned and breathless beneath her, Sibylla burst into uncontrolled chortles. But he found no humor in his situation. Nothing had ever disturbed him more than his present situation.By the time he caught his breath, heat of an unfamiliar kind had begun to warm his blood and infuse his loins, as he lay beneath her soft, feminine body. As much as he wished it, he couldn’t bring himself to move—except for the parts that shouldn’t.
Awareness of his arousal came to her suddenly. Her breath hitched and gaze widened, but she made no move to pull away. Instead, they both lay fixed and still, and almost afraid to breathe. Alex willed his body to ignore its natural response, but his efforts were futile. He’d never before been so much at odds with himself.“What is wrong, Alexander?”He opened his eyes to find her staring down at him with a furrowed brow.“Nothing.” He shook his head, only to refute himself a moment later. “Everything,” he said. “Everything is wrong. Nothing is as it should be.”“I dinna understand ye.”“Neither do I,” he replied. “’Tis why I came here—to be alone and to figure it out.”“Do ye want me to leave?” she asked.He knew what he should say. He knew what he should do but, somehow, he was powerless to resist the lure of her warm, soft body. “Nae,” he replied after a moment. “I dinna want ye to go.”
“I’m glad.” She smiled. “I dinna want to leave.” To his dismay, her gaze drifted down to his mouth. She leaned closer until her silky hair brushed his face. “If ye dinna mind, I would verra much like ye to kiss me, Alexander.”He knew he should not but, God help him, he wanted to. “Kissing leads only to temptation,” he replied.
“But a kiss in itself isna sinful or wicked,” she argued. “A kiss can mean many things. Are there nae chaste kisses? Kisses of friendship? Affection? Kisses given as greetings? Kisses to say goodbye?”
“Aye, but that’s nae the kind of kiss ye wish for, is it?” he asked.
 “Nae.” She shook her head with a grin. “I’ve had all of those kinds before. What I havena known is a lover’s kiss.” Her grin faded and her eyes entreated as she whispered, “Would ye oblige me, Alexander?”If he allowed himself to respond to her request, the dam would surely break. Alex shut his eyes, trying to marshal both his wits and his faltering will, but he failed to block out her subtly fragrant scent that seemed to come straight from heaven above, her warm, sweet breath, and her pliant breasts pressing against his ever-tightening chest… and then her petal soft lips brushing lightly over his. He felt her hesitancy and wanted to reassure her but sheer force of will restrained him. He’d never wanted anything as much as he wanted to kiss her back. His bones ached with the need to respond, but he knew very well that his resistance would crumble to dust.
“Did ye nae like it?” she asked.
He opened his eyes to find uncertainty clouding hers. He reached up to touch her face. “I dinna kiss ye back, Sibylla, nae because I dinna want to. I dinna kiss ye because I kenned I would only want more.”“And do ye?” she asked breathlessly. “Want more?”It was not the response he’d intended to evoke. “Aye. I do.”


Victoria Vane is a bestselling, award-winning author of smart and sexy romance. Her books have received more than twenty awards and nominations to include the 2015 Red Carpet Award for JEWEL OF THE EAST, 2014 RONE Award for TREACHEROUS TEMPTATIONS, and 2012 Library Journal Best E-Book romance for THE DEVIL DEVERE series. Victoria also has a passion for historical fashion and lives in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina with her husband, two sons, a little black dog, and an Arabian horse.

Contact info:
Email: victoria.vane@hotmail.com           Twitter: @authorvictoriav             Website    Blog   Facebook 




WORLD OF DE WOLFE PACK

 (lIBRARY jOURNAL bEST e-BOOK ROMANCE)
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW (#3)
THE DEVIL'S MATCH (#4)
A DEVIL'S TOUCH (4.5)




Tuesday, July 18, 2017

B.A. Paris' THE BREAKDOWN Review

4.5 stars

B.A. Paris once again takes readers on an intense mental and emotional roller coaster of a read in THE BREAKDOWN.
Cass is not only suffering from guilt over not helping the driver she saw sitting on the side of the road late that stormy night, she’s also afraid she’s developing Early Onset Dementia just like her mother.
She’s caught between the devil and the deep blue sea.
As the forgetful incidents occur more often, and the guilt multiplies when she discovers the identity of the motorist, Cass pulls you deeper into her little corner of hell.
What will this do to her young marriage, her husband Matthew, the life she’s only started living after caring for her mother? Is she losing it? Could she have helped that night or would she too have been a victim? How can she live with the guilt of not having done more? Questions abound for Cass and the reader.
Before you realize it, you’re so immersed you don’t want to come up until the last page has been read. And what a doozy those last pages are. Sly, clever, cunning, subtle, however you choose to say it, that’s THE BREAKDOWN in a nutshell.
Ms. Paris has a knack of making the improbable, probable; and THE BREAKDOWN is as engrossing as BEHIND CLOSED DOORS. Ms. Paris' sophomore release has solidified her place on my auto buy list. 

Highly anticipating Ms. Paris' next book!




Friday, July 7, 2017

Cheryl Holt's new FOREVER Series and autographed copy giveaway



My new FOREVER series is coming on July 15. The titles are FOREVER YOURS, FOREVER MINE, and FOREVER AFTER. 

I will release the first three books together on July 15th. This is the first time I’ve released novels on the same day, so it’s been a huge project for me. But I’m excited for readers to have a chance to read the first three books back to back without having to wait for the next installment to be released.

My heroines are the Henley sisters. Their father was an earl, but after he died in an accident, distant relatives inherited and they were disavowed and disinherited. They’ve had to make their own way in London by working for a living. The three sisters—Abigail, Catherine, and Sarah—wish they could change their lives and regain some of the status they lost after their family’s tragedy, but it seems impossible.

If you haven’t read one of my books before (or if you have!), I like to use heroines who are imperiled by their life circumstances. I like them to be thrown into new situations and to be isolated from their families and out of options. It forces them to make frantic choices, which gives me many avenues to create a fun story. The three Henley sisters quickly find themselves in desperate situations, and (of course) my macho, alpha heroes simply exacerbate their difficulties!

In my novels, it’s always so thrilling to see how it all works out.  

The novels will be available as e-books or print books, and I hope all of you will count down the days with me. My FOREVER series coming July 15! 





FOREVER YOURS 
Abigail Henley is an earl’s daughter, raised to a life of wealth and privilege. But all was lost when her parents died in an accident and distant relatives inherited. With no prospects and her dowry squandered, she’s forced to work as a governess, caring for the children of the rich and notorious. She’s lonely, chafing at the unfairness of her situation, and wishing she could change her fate—or at least regain some of the status and position she once had.

Alex Wallace was ruined by scandal. With his being from a prominent military family, he expected to have a long and successful career in the army. Instead, he’s a scorned, dissolute, and divorced man who was forced to resign his commission and is raising two daughters who were sired by another man. He’s weary of gossip and innuendo, and he leads a reckless life, trying to prove he doesn’t care about anything.

When Abigail arrives to work for Alex and watch over his two girls, she stumbles on a family torn apart by tragedy. Can she heal the wounds that have been inflicted?

FOREVER MINE
CATHERINE HENLEY was raised as the rich, spoiled daughter of the Earl of Middlebury. But when tragedy struck and distant relatives inherited the family estate, she was cast out into the world and forced to make her own way. She works as a lady’s companion, assisting and chaperoning various young ladies who are engaged to be married. She watches as they march through the swirl of parties and balls leading up to their grand day. Always she laments the fact that she will never be a bride herself…

CHRISTOPHER WAKEFIELD spent fifteen years in the army, but with his older brother’s death, he’s inherited his family’s bankrupt estate. He resigns his commission and returns to England where he quickly realizes he must marry an heiress to save his home. He agrees to wed his rich, unpleasant cousin, but when he meets poverty-stricken Catherine, he begins to wonder how he can do his duty to his family…

He’d thought it would be simple to wed for money. After all, marriages were never contracted for fondness or affection. But with love in the balance and a fortune on the line, how can Christopher ever choose the correct path…


Cheryl's giving away 10 autographed print copies of Book #1, FOREVER YOURS, a Rafflecopter giveaway 

FOREVER AFTER 

SARAH HENLEY grew up as the rich, cosseted daughter of an earl, but when her father died and distant relatives inherited, she fell down society’s ladder. To earn a living, she’s working as a lady’s companion and, with no dowry or prospects, she’s given up hope of ever marrying. But when a dashing, dangerous rogue crosses her path, she starts to wonder if her fate might have changed…

NICHOLAS SWIFT is a gambler and wastrel who has always had to scheme and deceive others in order to get by. He’s perfected a life of pretense and trickery that lets him thrive among the snobs of High Society. When he meets beautiful, lonely Sarah, he can’t help but be intrigued, but he could never be interested in a penniless female…
Yet Sarah isn’t like any woman he’s ever met before. Can her affection for him make any difference? Can she persuade him to become the man he was always destined to be.


Cheryl Holt is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon “Top 100” bestselling author of forty-seven novels. 

She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age 40, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance, where she was stunned to discover that she has an incredible knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.

She is considered to be one of the masters of the romance genre, and her emotional, dramatic, and riveting stories of passion and illicit love have captivated fans around the world. She has won or been nominated for many national awards. For many years, she was hailed as “The Queen of Erotic Romance”, and she’s also revered as “The International Queen of Villains.” She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year” by the trade magazine Romantic Times BOOK Reviews. 
Cheryl lives and writes in Hollywood, California. www.cherylholt.com.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

THAT CRAZY PERFECT SOMEDAY Excerpt and chat with Michael Mazza



 The year is 2024. Climate change has altered the world’s wave patterns. Drones crisscross the sky, cars drive themselves, and surfing is a new Olympic sport. Mafuri Long, UCSD marine biology grad, champion surfer, and only female to dominate a record eighty-foot wave, still has something to prove. Having achieved Internet fame, along with sponsorship from Google and Nike, she’s intent on winning Olympic gold. But when her father, a clinically depressed former Navy captain and widower, learns that his beloved supercarrier, the USS Hillary Rodham Clinton, is to be sunk, he draws Mafuri into a powerful undertow. Conflicts compound as Mafuri’s personal life comes undone via social media, and a vicious Aussie competitor levels bogus doping charges against her. Mafuri forms an unlikely friendship with an awkward teen, a Ferrari-driving professional gamer who will prove to be her support and ballast. Authentic, brutal, and at times funny, Mafuri lays it all out in a sprightly, hot-wired voice. From San Diego to Sydney, Key West, and Manila, That Crazy Perfect Someday goes beyond the sports/surf cliché to explore the depths of sorrow and hope, yearning and family bonds, and the bootstrap power of a bold young woman climbing back into the light.
Amazon             B&N              Indiebound

Here's my  recent chat with Michael.  Just a heads up, there are a few swear words in the excerpt. 

Appreciate your taking the time to answer a few questions.
Why Mafuri, a young woman? Was she one of those characters I've heard authors speak of who talk to them constantly, refusing to calm down until their story is told?
Great question. I wrote a short story around 14 years ago about a bubbly female character and her depressed, ex-Navy captain father who commanded an aircraft carrier. I work-shopped the story, which wasnt much of a story other than a sketch of the two in a bar. The daughter wasnt developed other than her voice. The father was depressed over his wifes infidelities. The daughter did her best to console him. The story was absurd. The aircraft carrier he commanded was Streisand class. There was a boxing kangaroo, an Aussie bartender, and a fight. I loved the characters, particularly the young woman, but didnt know where to take the story until years later when I was inspired to write a story about a professional woman surfer. Then her voice popped back into my head and wouldnt stop talking. So yes, I suppose Mafuri finally said to me, Hey, dude. I am so right for the part of the main character in That Crazy Perfect Someday. So, are you going to bring me to life or make me sit in this digital file forever?”  

Was Mafuri too large for a short story or novella?
Yes. I think Mafuri needed to bust out of that short format because she had too much to say.  

“It’s not the sharks that will kill you, but the accumulated nuisances of life.” ― Michael Mazza, That Crazy Perfect Someday. Does this quote speak for you as well as the character? (It struck me because it's the little things that usually wind up grinding my hamburger.)
It’s one of my favorite lines in the book because I think there’s truth in it. Many of us—at least the lucky ones—will go through life without meeting our fate through some rare catastrophe, and certainly not a shark attack, but the death by a thousand cuts, day-to-day nonsense we all go through can wear a person down.

What, if anything are you currently reading? Have you read anything recently you'd recommend?
I recently read The Sympathizer, the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Viet Than Nguyen. It’s told from the unique perspective of Vietnamese sleeper agent in America after the Viet Nam War and gives light to Vietnamese refugees, what its like to lose a country and assimilate into a foreign land—insightful and heartbreaking in many ways. I cannot believe it’s a debut novel. The level of craft is masterful—so deserving of the honor. On the lighter front, I highly recommend American Born Chinese, the award-winning graphic novel by Gene Luen Yang. It’s a story of fitting in and gives voice to young Chinese Americans. What Yang captures in his illustrations, the character’s expressions, the efficiency of an entire story in every frame, is pure artistry.

 Do you have a WIP you can share anything about?  
I have two other novels in the works: One novel is in its fourth draft the other is half done. We’ll see where they go. Fingers crossed!

Thank you, 

Michael
Google “Mafuri Long.”
Click video.
And voila!
That’s me, surfing the monster of all wavesan eighty-foot beast. I’m like a tiny knife slicing through a gigantic wall of blue that’s rearing up behind me, a total H2O Everest. Scale? Picture me standing next to an eight-story building. In 2023, I became the first “chick” to win the Nike XX Big Wave Classic: one of the few women in history to surf a wave that big, the only one to do it officially. I followed Daddy’s advice before we left the dock for the open sea. “Don’t ride that horse with half your ass,” he said, sending me off with a fist bump. “Go after it, cowgirl.”
The freaky part is that the wave is a hundred miles off the San Diego coast in the middle of nowhere. The surf spot’s called the Cortes Bank, where the fish around you are the size of Volkswagens and very big things can swallow you whole. The only way out there is in a decent-size boat, and the only way to be saved after a serious wipeout is to be rescued by that decent-size boat or plucked up by a Coast Guard helicopter, which one big-wave legend experienced firsthand after a three-wave hold-down. The bank sits just under the water and can kick up epic hundred-footers. It’s one of the biggest, scariest waves in the world, and I mastered it: little five foot three sandy-haired me.
You’d usually have to wait until winter for a wave like that, but weather patterns are so crazy with the globe heating up the last few decades, it’s monumentallike, who can predict? I had no clue how ginormous the wave was. I mean, nobody anticipated itnot my surf coach, the safety team, the other surfers, or the pilots in the choppers circling abovebut a tiny voice inside and the never-ending elevator ride up confirmed it was going to be borderline cataclysmic. When the wave hit its peak, I was staring down a seventy-five-foot vertical drop, fear shrieking inside me. Ride or die, that’s what I thought. Like, seriously, flinch on a wave like that and it’s bye-bye girly-girl. I went supersonic after that, faster than I had ever gone before, my legs feeling the board’s feedback full force, completely in the zone, focused, the entire ocean an angry fist beneath me . . . Then I pulled out of the wave.
            When the video hit social, it ping-ponged around the world, out into space, and back again, sending up a collective girl-power supercheer, pretty much locking up a ton of cash in surf-sponsorships and placing me on every news feed from here to Alice Springs. Jaxthat's what people call my dadsays I have a gift. He says he noticed it the first time I stood up on a wave in Sendai, Japan, back when I was five and we were surfing together, years before that tsunami leveled the place.
The sponsorship money let me set my marine biology degree aside for a while. I couldn't find a job in the field anyway. Let me restate that: I was offered one at SeaLand San Diego straight out of UCSD, basically to put on a carnival show with a thirteenth-generation orca after her act was reintroduced, but I passed because that isn't science, and a creature like that should be ambushing seals out in the ocean and not squeaking for mackerel treats in a man-made swimming pool for some spoiled kids' amusement. So the money lets me spend my days training, and my eyes are on the big prize when the Olympics begin on August 4.
It's around 8:00 the following morning, and I'm out in the water at Mission Beach for a photo shoot, which I do on occasion for sponsors that include Google, Target, and Nike. Today it's ad posters for Nike, in partnership with Target, who will put them up in their stores or something. I really don't pay attention.
We're an hour into the shoot and Jax's episode last night still troubles me even in the bright, post-dawn sun. A photographer named PK is trailing me in the water while the hipster-kook art director in wannabe surf garb, a Parisian beret, and sunglasses watches from the shoreline and barks at us through a bullhorn.
"I need an ass shot! Ass shot, PK!" he yells for the second time. "Ass shots sell wet suits!"
"Is he serious?" I ask.
"He's serious," PK says.
I shout back to shore, "Here's your ass shot!" and follow up with a not-so-friendly hand gesture.
"That's not nice," he yelps back. Behind him, a robotic beach Zamboni combing the sand swings a wide arc and nearly takes him out. He doesn't flinch. 
"Darn," I say. "Just a little more to the right..."
PK is treading water next to me in his wet suit. The black neoprene hood and his bushy mustache make him look like a walrus. He's adjusting the f-stop on his waterproof camera above the surface.
"Between you and me, the guy's a total dick," PK says, setting the motor drive. "Most of these ad guys are."
"What a perv."
There's a loud squawk and a click from shore.
"I can't go home without an ass shot!"
"That's the third time he's said that."
Squawk!
"Ass shot!"
"Fourth," I say. "I'm done."
PK swipes his hand across his throat to say we're finished. The bullhorn crackles.
"That's good," the art director says dryly. "Real fucking nice."
PK looks at me like it's just another dick day. I watch the guy drop the horn into the sane and fire up a cigarette. It isn't enough that last night's events put me in a funky funk, but now I'll have to deal with more of the art director's nonsense when I get to shore. Not to mention the funny feeling that a whole lot of madness is yet to come.                                                                    

© 2017 Michael Mazza, with permission from Turtle Point Press

Michael Mazza is a fiction writer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. His stories have appeared in Other Voices, WORDS, Blue Mesa Review, TINGE, and ZYZZYVA. He is best known as an internationally acclaimed art and creative director working in the advertising industry. Along with being named National Creative All-Star by Adweek, his work appears in the Permanent Collection of the Library of Congress. He has lectured throughout the country and abroad, most notably at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. He has attended the Iowa Summer Writers’ Workshop, the Stanford Creative Writing workshop, and the Wharton School Executive Education MBA program. That Crazy Perfect Someday is his first novel.

Connect with Michael at his website: www.mazzastory.com or on Twitter and Instagram: @mazzastory

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

IT'S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND Review


Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny first met as college roommates and soon became inseparable, despite being as different as three women can be. Kate was beautiful, wild, wealthy, and damaged. Aubrey, on financial aid, came from a broken home, and wanted more than anything to distance herself from her past. And Jenny was a striver—brilliant, ambitious, and determined to succeed. As an unlikely friendship formed, the three of them swore they would always be there for each other.

But twenty years later, one of them is standing at the edge of a bridge, and someone is urging her to jump.

How did it come to this?
Kate married the gorgeous party boy, Aubrey married up, and Jenny married the boy next door. But how can these three women love and hate each other? Can feelings this strong lead to murder? When one of them dies under mysterious circumstances, will everyone assume, as is often the case, that it’s always the husband?

A suspenseful, absorbing novel that examines the complexities of friendship, It’s Always the Husband will keep readers guessing right up to its shocking conclusion. (synopsis from Amazon)


IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND brought to mind something my mother would say if she thought a friend was a bad influence, “with friends like that you don’t need enemies.”
The past never really dies, usually coming back to haunt, and often bite, as it does in IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND.  Ms. Campbell opens with someone being encouraged to jump from a bridge. Who and why we discover later, after a trip down memory lane to explain the why if not the who.
Kate, Aubrey, and Jenny meet as roommates freshman year at Carlisle College and become known as The Whipple Triplets. They vow to always be there for each other and they are, in their own pernicious way.
The character driven plot isn’t for those inclined toward action packed adventures. That being said, only one of the characters in Ms. Campbell’s debut was likeable. Yet, as disagreeable as they were I was sucked in by my curiosity regarding who was on the bridge and why.
Hats off to Ms. Campbell. IT’S ALWAYS THE HUSBAND kept me questioning my deductions right until the bitter, satisfying end.

4.5 stars


Sunday, May 14, 2017

THE MEASURE OF THE MOON Review & Giveaway


 Lisa Preston uses her experience to brilliantly channel human drama and suspense into THE MEASURE OF THE MOON (Thomas & Mercer; April 18, 2017).  New York Times bestselling author, Lisa Scottoline calls it “a powerful follow-up to Orchids and Stone, Lisa Preston’s The Measure of the Moon is a beautifully rendered story - in fact, two stories - which weave together the certainty  of how our actions and choices affect one another with far-reaching consequences.”
When eight-year-old Greer Donner falls off his horse in the Washington wilderness, he braces himself to face the long hike home alone. But screams pierce the darkness, and he stumbles upon a dead-end road where a man is beating a woman—nearly to death. In a moment of courage, he stops the assault, but he’s left to face the man, who turns his wrath into an ominous threat: if the boy ever reveals what he has seen, his family will pay the ultimate price. The secret Greer now carries begins his emotional unraveling.
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Gillian Trett is a photographer with a troubled marriage and a childhood she’s trying to forget. Domestic tension mounts when her husband’s stepsister arrives. Desperate for a distraction, and a way to advance her career, Gillian throws herself into uncovering the history behind an old man’s Holocaust photo of boys in a forest. The mysterious children and the truth behind the scene haunt her—she can’t let go of the image, or of her own shadowed past.
Then a horrifying revelation entangles Gillian’s path with young Greer’s. The boy and the woman, separated by a generation and a hundred miles, each confront the terrible power of harbored secrets—not only to eclipse the truth but also to illuminate the dark, unknown dimensions of their loved ones and themselves.

My thoughts....3 stars

THE MEASURE OF THE MOON starts off strong but devolves into convoluted (and for me unnecessary) subplots with an almost bewildering array of characters.
It feels as if  multiple book plots have been crammed into one. Greer and his tale are all but lost in the other characters and their stories. It borders on being too busy to enjoy what the book is supposed to be about. My interest was rekindled about midway through, waxing and waning to the end.  There’s a good story there, unfortunately you have to wade through the clutter to get to it.



How do you feel about "busy" books. Some people prefer them. Let me know in the comments below (don't forget your email for contact if you win) and you'll be entered to win.

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