Review: Holiday Heat by Carrie Lomax
A Christmas Dramedy
by Carrie Lomax
Genre: Contemporary Romance
A broken engagement.
An ill-advised fling.
A reality-TV inspired dating contest.
Meet the Bachelorette…
When Alyssa Carlisle arrives home for the holidays nursing a fresh Christmas Eve heartbreak, a hookup with her hot neighbor, Marc De Luna, seems like the perfect rebound, a no-strings-attached, super sexy vacation fling.
…and the (Play) Boy Next Door
Although he’s never told anyone, Marc has had it bad for his aloof, ambitious neighbor ever since her family moved into the neighborhood years earlier. But knowing she was seeing some rich guy in New York told him she was off-limits… until she shows up alone and unexpectedly single for this year’s Christmas. With the rich boyfriend out of the picture, Marc’s not about to pass up the chance to claim Alyssa as his own.
But when the ex-boyfriend makes an unexpected appearance, intent on getting Alyssa back, Marc’s got a fight on his hands. And he’ll do whatever it takes to win.
FREE IN KINDLE UNLIMITED
So here’s my review, originally posted on my author website:
Last night, I stumbled on Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax, a seemingly “holiday” novel with its Christmas glitter and mistletoe on the cover that’s not exactly a holiday novel. It’s set during the holidays, yes, but it’s *not a holiday novel. Family dynamics? Check. Sibling rivalry and protectiveness? Check. Steamy AF hot scenes? Checkcheckcheck.
The first thing that caught my attention was the smart and witty heroine, Alyssa Carlisle, who lives in a studio apartment in Midtown Manhattan and she’s just been stood up by her rich boyfriend of two years, Zach. He was supposed to propose on Christmas Eve but he’s five hours late and when he does show up, he’s drunk and tells her he got cold feet. Apparently, it’s not the first time Zach has pulled something like this and so, with a plane to catch in the morning where they were supposed to spend Christmas with her parents in Tampa, Florida, she tells Zach they’re over, to have a great life, and not to talk to her ever again.
Tampa is where we meet Marc Del Luna, the oldest son of the Del Lunas who live next door to her parents. He’s never finished college but he’s smoking hot, “the kind of guy who made girls’ panties wet just by walking into the room—at least, the ones like her who wore undergarments.” And apparently, Alyssa has been secretly crushing on him since her family moved into the neighborhood almost ten years ago… but there was something about Marc being known as the resident man-whore that made her steer clear.
While taking out the trash, they bump into each other and sparks fly, especially when Marc learns she’s suddenly single. Who knew the (play)boy next door liked her all these years? To Alyssa, the prospect of a one-night stand or a vacation fling with Marc before she returns to New York is looking better and better every minute.
But before one assumes that Marc is simply the manwhore everyone thinks he is, there’s actually more to him than meets the eye, just as there’s more to the sibling dynamics between him and Julian as well as Alyssa and Janelle, her younger sister stuck in a dead-end job and drowning in student loans.
What I love the most about Holiday Heat is that it’s a refreshing take on romance from the usual fare that I’ve been picking up lately (dark romance, secret baby, and let-me-top-the-sex-in-this-book-with-more-sex… oh wait, that’s my book!). It’s a new voice and I love me some new voices especially since I just finished A Man Called Ove and needed something light and fun and witty.
I like how Lomax explores certain social issues that are at the forefront today and for the most part, they’re deftly interwoven into the storyline. The sparks that fly between Alyssa and Marc are super hot and deserving of New Year’s Eve fireworks, and the scenes between them are super steamy as well. But that’s not going to mean that everything is smooth sailing either. They go through some rough patches like an unexpected visitor, a reality TV show-inspired contest, and some good measure of angst. And for a holiday tryst that’s hot and heavy from the get-go, will their fling last long after the New Year’s Eve fireworks are all done?
So, yup, except for the ending which kinda felt flat for me because I wanted more Aly and Marc, I enjoyed Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy by Carrie Lomax and highly recommend it if you like a contemporary romance with a chock-full of really well-written steamy scenes and high octave chemistry.
Holiday Heat: A Christmas Dramedy is free to read in Kindle Unlimited.
10% of the proceeds from this book will benefit the National Coalition for the Homeless.
Find Carrie online:
*The only reason I say it’s NOT a holiday novel is that holiday novels get pigeonholed during the holidays. Which is a disservice to this witty and layered novel that’s more about relationships and romance than the holiday itself. It’s just SET in a holiday and that’s about it. But that’s also the Marketing me talking. I hate seeing good novels get pushed aside because people assume if it’s holiday-themed then it’s kinda “holiday-themed” which to me, would be sugar and spice and mistletoe and family and eggnog and chocolate with marshmallows and cuddles in front of the fireplace. None of which brings up steamy AF romance in all its glory. I mean, come on. When do you watch A Christmas Story? While You Were Sleeping and so many other stories that are set during the holidays???
Release Tour: The Last Breath by Leigh Lennon
THE LAST BREATH
The Breathless series, book 1
by Leigh Lennon
Genre: Contemporary Literary Fiction Romance
Loss is not foreign to Julia Barnett. To the outside world she is the epitome of the perfect mom. That is, until the doors of her impeccable life are closed and reality hits her square in the face. Once the leading lady in her own epic love story, she can only look back at what used to be. With an absent husband, an intrusive father, a troubled child, and an ex-fiancé that is still tied to her life, it’s no wonder Julia is grasping for air in her chaotic world.
The bruises that Julia lives with are invisible to those closest to her. She lost so much early in life, more than most could survive. Now, she grapples with resentment towards her husband because of all the empty promises he’s made. In the midst of this turmoil, test results reveal an illness she is not sure she will survive.
For Julia, it is not her life that may be cut short that consumes her, but how her family will endure without her there. As everyone rallies around Julia while she fights like hell to live, she learns that family, along with love, comes in many shapes and sizes. It is her family that gives her the strength to fight the biggest battle of her life; one she doesn’t want to lose.
Joe Barnett was a quiet man, but he felt as if the weight of the world rested on his shoulders. He’d do anything for his parents, and he had actually done everything within his control up to this point. It was just not enough. His dreams were slipping away because being an architect was his calling in life. Though as big as those dreams were, taking care of his parents was more important to him than anything else.
Deciding to take a quick dinner break, he started to dig into a burger at his favorite watering hole. Though tonight, with work piling up, all he could have was water. No beer for him. He noticed a very attractive girl at the bar but was caught up in a soccer game and missed his opportunity. Well, he wanted more of a conversation with the pretty girl than to ask her to pass a condiment. Wanting to kick himself, he instead turned to her at a commercial break and tried to correct his rudeness with an apology. The girl was quick to smile and accepted it as he made a small joke at the expense of his sodium intake.
She immediately said, “Oh, that’s ok. I know how men are with their games. My best friend, well minus the guy thing, is just like that. You play soccer, then?” Her dark eyes were inquisitive but sad. That was something Joe knew about.
“I used to, in high school and some in college.” He looked down at her beer, “Very few girls know how good dark beer is.”
“I know right, this is the only kind of beer I can drink. My dad started me out young I guess.” She smiled. “What about you? Aren’t you a beer drinker?”
He replied, “Normally, yes, but I just stopped by tonight for a quick bite to eat. I have some work I’ve got to get done. Beer just doesn’t mix with that.”
“Oh, I get that!” The girl said. Her meek smile was enticing, and Joe needed a way to insert himself into a conversation that would go somewhere with this beautiful young woman.
“So, you just come to Irish bars and drink dark beer by yourself?” He asked trying not to look her up and down, though she was worthy of being admired. He surmised she had to be at least twenty-one by the fact she’d been drinking but didn’t look much older. They were close in age to Joe being twenty-three.
The young woman responded, “No actually I’m taking a large class load this semester, and my best friend dragged me out tonight claiming that I need some sort of break.”
“You come here often? I’m here twice a week and have never seen you.” Joe asked.
“I’ve not been here in a long time. My dad is a good friend with the owner and we’d come here for dinner every Friday night. But I was at ECU for almost two years and just transferred to Wake last semester.”
He looked at her then smiled, “You are a Demon Deacon, I’m sorry.” He said with a wink.
“Well, what ACC team did you play for then, since your allegiance lies with somewhere else?” If he didn’t know any better, he would have thought her tone was almost borderline frisky and coy.
“I was at NC State. I played soccer but wasn’t able to graduate. My dad needed help running the family business, so I came home. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Joe didn’t elaborate why his dad needed him; not wanting to burden the cute girl with his problems. “Why did you transfer colleges?” He asked, changing the subject quickly from himself.
“It’s a long story.” She quickly answered.
“Oh, I see.”
“What do you mean, you see?” She asked with a snicker.
“All long stories like that normally follow with some tragedy concerning a guy.” He could only smirk at his own words. This was fun, he was actually having fun.
She could only laugh, “Well, ok smarty pants! You think you’re so smart.”
“Where did your friend go? The friend you claim came with you?” He asked with an even more flirtatious tone in his voice. He’d been having a free-flowing conversation with this girl that he didn’t want to end. Her eyes were infectious and he couldn’t look away from them.
“That is a good question. She was going to call her boyfriend. Probably got wrapped up in a conversation.”
“So, you know my name is Joe, what about you?”
“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m Julia.” She said quickly.
Leigh Lennon is mother, veteran and a wife of a cancer survivor. Originally with a degree in education, she started writing as an outlet that has led a deep passion as she wrote twelve books. Now ready to publish all of them, she lugs her computer with her as she crafts her next story. She can be found drinking coffee or wine, depending on the time of the day.
Hidden: One Title. Endless Possibilities: October/November Releases
The Hidden Project was designed to bring together a diverse group of writers, to create a story based on the keyword Hidden. With that, a massive, multi-year project was born, bringing together new writers, or experienced writers with new pen names, or brand new writers in the first project. All with a passion for good books, great stories, and unique perspectives. Every genre will be represented over the course of the project.
For October and November, the line-up of releases is featured below:
by Laura Greenwood
What if you were stuck in a tower but didn’t realize it?
Zel has lived her whole life in a penthouse suite. The best food, the best clothes and the best entertainment at her fingertips with a mere push of a button. But there’s something missing. And the online chat she has with Asher is her only connection to the outside world.
But all of that is about to change, and Zel’s life is about to be turned upside down.
A dystopian RH retelling of Rapunzel.
Available: October 26
Hidden: Two Democracies Revolution – Book 4
by Alasdair Shaw
Flight Decurion Seivers is stranded on a frozen moon, far from the Legion. The Perception of Prejudice is barely functioning and Percy is offline. Seivers’ future is measured in days.
Captain Lusimi searches for enemy survivors. By the order of the Protectors, the Sidexan Fleet is to avenge the Legion’s violation of Protected System Five. He will follow his orders, but protecting his warriors and crew is his highest priority.
The hunt is on.
AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 2
Hidden: A Pregnant Fairy Godmother’s Journey
by Joynell Schultz
Even being the best fairy godmother in all the land, Ciera’s been hiding a secret. Not only is she pregnant, but she’s magically pregnant with a human child.
Humans are not allowed in the fairy realm. Period. That includes half-fairy/half-human babies. The only solution is to give the baby to its father before the Fairy Council finds out her secret. Finding the father should be easy, how many men named John could possibly live in this place called Chicago?
AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 9
Hidden: A Dystopian Science Fiction Adventure
by Troy McLaughlan
HU-645-555 wasn’t supposed to exist.
Hidden as a child, at the age of twelve she’s brought into a nightmarish world where human civilization has been destroyed. The remnants of humanity are forced to work as slaves by bloodthirsty reptilian invaders called Targs.
After six years of brutal training, she’s given a cryptic message by her human master and allowed to escape. But is the message she carries real or is she merely the perfect prey…
AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 16
Hidden: Justine’s Story (Chloe Daniels Mystery Series)
by Deidra D.S. Green
Justine is where it all started…
Prequel to the Chloe Daniels Mystery Series
When Merrill Starks set his sights on Justine, his depraved actions set off a sequence of events that would lead to one little girl finding her purpose in life. Dr. Chloe Daniels, renowned forensic psychologist, aided in the identification and capture of some of the most notorious mass murderers the United States had ever known. But Chloe didn’t embark on her career by happenstance. Merrill Starks was her inspiration…
AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 23
Hidden: The Galaxy is My Perilous Habitat
by A. J. McWain
Description coming soon
AVAILABLE: NOVEMBER 30
Release Tour: Stars in the Morning by Laura Strickland
STARS IN THE MORNING
by Laura Strickland
Genre: Historical Romance, Americana
Accused of ruining Mae Ballard and faced with a shotgun wedding, Jefferson Lind knows exactly who’s to blame. He’s been taking the fall for Jedediah’s sins as long as he can remember. Mae’s a shrieking shrew, and he hasn’t seen Jed, his identical twin, since they worked digging the Erie Canal together. If he’d been ordered to marry Mae’s sweet younger sister Rosie, instead, he sure wouldn’t complain.
Rosie’s the only member of her family who believes Jeff, and she’d go to any lengths to free him from her sister’s clutches. But when Jedediah turns up with violent thugs on his tail, things quickly grow more dangerous. Gamblers from Buffalo seize both sisters as hostages, prompting a daring impersonation. Can Jeff and Jed shed their troubled past and win the hearts of the women they love?
She poured some of the septic powder she’d brought into the basin. “Let’s get you cleaned up first, eh?”
A few of the scrapes were deep. Clearly he’d had a go at washing them off and done a poor job. The next few moments were painful to both of them. Rosie hated hurting anyone, except maybe Mae. Her sympathetic agony, however, was offset by the sheer pleasure of touching him.
By heaven, to have such a man beneath her hands! He smelled like sunshine, fresh air and tangy male, and it went straight to her head.
She concentrated on separating herself from the feelings surging through her and failed completely when he suddenly raised his hand and touched her cheek.
“What happened to you?”
All sense had gone out of Rosie’s mind; she had to search it to remember.
“Oh, that was Mae.”
“Mae?” His tawny eyes narrowed between their swollen lids. “She hit you?”
Rosie smiled ruefully. “She did.”
“Nasty baggage. She left a bruise.”
“Don’t worry about me, Mr. Lind.”
“I think you should call me Jeff, don’t you? Seeing as how you’re the one person in the world who believes I’m not a liar.”
“Jeff,” Rosie repeated, suddenly breathless.
“My misbegotten brother is Jed—Jedediah and Jefferson.” Humor tinged his voice. “I’m called after the great president.”
“Never been lucky, no not me.” His eyes looked into hers, dodging nothing. “At least, I never was.”
Award-winning author Laura Strickland delights in time traveling to the past and searching out settings for her books, be they Historical Romance, Steampunk or something in between. Born and raised in Western New York, she’s pursued lifelong interests in lore, legend, magic and music, all reflected in her writing. Although she enjoys travel, she’s usually happiest at home with her husband and her “fur” child, a rescue dog. Author of numerous Historical and Contemporary Romances, she resides within walking distance of the Erie Canal.
Release Blitz: Craving Security #giveaway
Protection duty like you’ve never experienced before…
Their instinct is to protect. It’s in their nature, their blood, the need to keep others safe. There’s no margin for error, or mistakes, and failure is not an option.
This is a collection of stories about men and women trained to defend, and built to kill.
Whether it’s the mysteriously tempting bodyguard fueled by his own deadly secrets, or the ex-special ops officer programmed to detect danger, they will keep you on the edge without ever letting you fall.
Are you constantly fearing the shadow lurking around the corner?
Are you…Craving Security?
Get ready for the ultimate protection detail.
Release Blitz: Taming the Princess by Alyson Reynolds
Taming the Princess
by Alyson Reynolds
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Princess Scarlett Marion is broken. Drugs, sex, alcohol—she uses everything possible to numb the pain from her past, but it never seems to help. When Lord Carrick Trudeau pays her dowry, she finds herself in a position she never thought possible. He’s older, darker and seems to know exactly what to do to make her feel amazing, not like the broken little girl she actually is.
Things change quickly when she finds out Carrick isn’t just one of many in line for the throne, he’s going to be the next king. And soon. That means she’s going to be the next queen. When push comes to shove, how is Scarlett supposed to overcome her past and become the leader she’s supposed to be?
The rush of the high hit me quickly, making my blood sing in my veins. My body shook, not just from the drugs, but from the pounding bass and strobe lights filling the club around my group of friends. Juliet swayed to the music freely next to me, urging me to want to follow her lead. Hands brushed over my body, making my skin prickle from her touch. I couldn’t tell if I wanted it to stop, or if I wanted more. My guard stood by the doors, leaving me to self-destruct all by myself. This was how I wanted it and none of them would dare interrupt my fun.
The press had been aching to follow me into the club since I passed through the doors earlier this evening. Eventually, someone would make it through all the security, and inevitably there would be yet another story of my depraved behavior, which would sell papers. Of course, there would be; I didn’t want to disappoint my fans. I giggled at the thought. My father hated me because of the messes I made, my mother didn’t know what to do with me, and my sister was disappointed in my horrible choices. It was just a normal day in my world.
A strong arm wrapped around my waist, pulling me back against a hard chest. At first, I didn’t resist the feeling of this stranger against me. Random sex with someone in the bathroom sounded entertaining. Juliet would probably want to watch. The arm tightened against my ribs.
My eyes shot open, but none of my friends were there. They had all abandoned me, but who knew how long ago that had been.
“Let go of me!” I protested. “If you knew who I was, you wouldn’t be manhandling me without asking first, you asshole.”
The chuckle that followed surprised me. “I’ll do whatever I damn well please, little girl. And I know exactly who you are, Princess Scarlett.”
That dark, smoky voice sounded familiar. I looked over my shoulder and dark obsidian eyes met my ice blue ones, pinning me in place. Bright lights from the club flashed over our bodies as I studied him. I shivered again, but this time Lord Carrick was the cause of it; certainly not any illegal substances I may or may not have taken.
I smirked. “What are you doing here, Lord Carrick? I didn’t think this was your scene anymore.”
His jaw tightened. “It’s not, and it won’t be yours either.”
I turned to face him, placing my hands on my hips, and narrowed my eyes. “You don’t get to decide that, now do you?”
He leaned in and ran his nose over the shell of my ear as he spoke, making a shiver run up my spine. “Oh Princess, you have no idea what I get to decide now.” This encounter was getting odder by the second. Surely he didn’t mean that the way it sounded. “It’s time to go, and I would prefer you don’t make a scene.”
His voice was calm, but I heard the warning in it loud and clear.
“If you want me to sleep with you, all you have to do is ask. It doesn’t matter to me that you’re almost twice my age. You’re still incredibly sexy,” I said, running my hands up his chest. “I like silver foxes, and you definitely qualify as a silver fox.”
He gave me a wry smile. “Believe me, I’ll fuck you blind soon, but it won’t be in this club. Or any club, for that matter.” I gasped as he reached down and grabbed my ass, pinning me up against him. “Now let’s go, Scarlett. We have a long drive ahead of us and I want to get there before morning.”
I swallowed hard and attempted to glare up at him. “What the hell are you talking about? I’m not going anywhere with you.”
The knowing look on his face made my heart race. He started dragging me behind him without answering my question, completely ignoring me. My guard wasn’t coming to my rescue either. Were they really going to let this man kidnap me? What in the hell was going on? I took a step back and stumbled as I tried to yank out of his hold. His grasp on my wrist tightened, steadying me before I was able to fall to the ground. The last thing I saw before the blackness crept over my vision were his dark, enchanting eyes.
Romance writer. Wife. Mother of two. Avid reader. Queen of multitasking.
Originally from the south, Alyson likes to incorporate what she knows into her books. She’s lived not only on the east coast but the west coast and a few places between. Alyson loves sharing stories about her crazy family to anyone who will listen. Her guilty pleasures consist of coffee, country music, brunch, breaking the rules, and pedicures. And she will always be a daddy’s girl.
When Alyson isn’t chasing around her two kiddos, she’s normally writing. Or reading. Her Kindle library is out of control. Alyson writes mainly contemporary novels and novellas with a few new adult stories is the mix.
To keep up with her busy release schedule check her website at http://authoralysonreynolds.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.authoralysonreynolds.com/newslettersignup
and a personalized tote:
Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/alysonreynolds
The children are back in school!
Romance in traditional literary terms is a narration of the extraordinary exploits of heroes, often in exotic or mysterious settings. The term romance has also been used for stories of mysterious adventures, not necessarily of heroes. These adventure romances usually are set in distant places.
Please enjoy these books that focus on romance and all the sub-genres. The list is available in alphabetically order by title.Don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win an Amazon Giftcard.
Scott’s been waiting three years to make his move. In his mind, Jen’s already his and always has been. Now he just has to convince her that he’s right.
Promo Tour: Not a Gentleman by Loreen Augeri
NOT A GENTLEMAN
by Loreen Augeri
Genre: Historical Romance
When Juliana Stevenson’s father dies under suspicious circumstances, her greedy uncle betroths her and her sister to vile men for his profit. They refuse to be part of his plan and flee, but her uncle hires an arrogant, demanding man to bring them back.
Needing money to care for his brother and sister and repair a manor in disrepair, Nicholas Blackstone agrees to find the women. He captures Juliana but not her sister and imprisons her in his manor until he can discover the whereabouts of her sibling.
Juliana’s body calls to Nicholas, but she can never be his — her life is already mapped out. Can they fight the passion pulling them together while her father’s killer stalks them?
The small, warm form lay still below him. Had he killed her? No. Her ragged gasps penetrated his fear. Nicholas hadn’t meant to land so hard, but the aggravating chit deserved it. She held a gun on him and threatened to shoot!
But she was a woman, and a small one at that. He jumped off her, grabbed her arm, and hauled her to her feet.
“Let go…of…me.” She panted as she fought to catch her breath.
“Are you hurt?”
“I don’t…know. Probably. You pounced on me.” She fought to free herself.
He released her. “You had a gun.”
Miss Stevenson brushed the dirt from her bodice and skirt. “You tried to kidnap us.”
“I wasn’t kidnapping you. I was returning you and your sister to your uncle. He is worried about you.” He strode to one side of the cave and scooped up the gun lying beside the wall.
“He doesn’t care for us. His concern is how much money our marriages will bring him.” She examined her palm and winced. “We won’t go back.”
“He is your guardian.” He peered at her hands. “You cut yourself.”
She glared at him. “It’s your fault, and he’s not my guardian. I am of age.”
“Well, Miss Emily isn’t, and he wants you both. Where will your sister hide?”
“I have no idea.”
She walked away. This female who didn’t reach his shoulder actually walked away. He thought this job would be quick and easy, and he would soon be with his brother and sister with money to start repairing the crumbling estate he inherited, so he could return to the army where he belonged. Where exasperating women didn’t question his orders and answered when asked for information. He ran to catch up and grabbed her elbow. “Where are you going?”
I have always liked to read and write. As a child, I created stories featuring a young girl and her horse.
I started reading historical romances when my children were babies. When my youngest daughter started school, I decided I wanted to write one. At first, to see if I could, later as a hobby, and then seeking publication. Becoming a member of the Romance Writers of America, Hearts Through History, and my local chapter, New England Chapter helped in the process.
I live in the Northeast with my husband and two adult daughters and work in my local library. When I am not reading or writing, I enjoy walking, dancing, and spending time at the beach. I am the one under the umbrella, wearing a hat, sunglasses, and tee shirt over my bathing suit. I have my English and Irish ancestry to thank for my white skin that burns easily.
Promo tour: Val and Pal Series by Margaret Lashley
VAL & PALS series
by Margaret Lashley
Genre: Humor/Women’s Fiction/Chick Lit
Absolute Zero: Misadventures From A Broad
A Midlife Meltdown…with a Side of Fries.
Val’s long-suffering life as a patient daughter, dutiful wife and reliable workhorse has turned her into a snarky, miserable nag.
She has the house, the husband and the career. The only thing missing is the happy.
Before she’s set out to pasture, Val wants one more go around the track. Unbridled. In Italy.
La dolce vita or bust.
Will Val find her happy ending abroad? Or someplace she never thought to look? And will she get there before her money and her sense of humor run out…
If you’ve ever dreamed of ditching your life and running off to Europe, now’s your chance! Join Val on a roller-coaster ride through Europe that will leave you gasping! From gut-busting hilarity to gut–wrenching gaffs, finding yourself again is always worth the price of admission. Buy it now!
The plane came to a halt. A mechanical bell binged. I looked around nervously. I slung my purse across my shoulder and sardined myself into the line of passengers inching their way down the narrow aisle. When I reached the plane’s exit door, I paused hesitantly, like a convict who’d gotten free of her cuffs without anybody noticing. My mind swirled with excitement and abject terror. Goosebumps rushed across my body. The hair at the base of my neck pricked up like a scaredy-cat.
What the hell was I doing?
Mere days before, I’d slammed every single door – including the screen one – on my life back in Florida. The last chance to change my mind had come and gone, as unheeded as a speed limit sign at a NASCAR rally. Every safety net I’d ever known was thousands of miles away, across the Atlantic Ocean, out of sight and out of reach.
I took a deep breath to steady myself, then stepped off the plane into the complete unknown. I glanced back and waved goodbye to the Air Italia flight crew. I turned again and meandered down the gangplank behind a frail, elderly couple holding hands. Their long-standing marriage triggered flashbacks of my own, long-suffering one.
Seven weeks ago, I’d signed the final divorce papers ending fifteen years of matrimony to Jimmy Johnson, a man I no longer knew. I envisioned the beautiful house Jimmy and I had shared together. I’d sold it and my advertising business just days before the flight. After splitting the pot with Jimmy, I’d netted a hot-damn jackpot of $473,000. I pictured my best friend, Clarice Whittle. I’d left my Ford in her garage, along with a few boxes that held the final remains of the cranky, resentful woman I hoped this trip would get rid of for good.
I’d brought next to nothing with me. I’d left even less behind. No kids. No pets. No job. No husband. No responsibilities. No nothing.
I’d spend the last forty-one years in perpetual motion – Val Jolly’s non-stop stint as dutiful daughter, long-suffering wife and brown-nosing business woman. I’d catered to everyone else’s needs for as long as I could remember. Somewhere along the way I’d turned into a crabby, shrill woman that even I didn’t like. I’d forgotten who I was and what I wanted. This trip was going be my R&R&R – relaxation, romance and re-invention.
I was in Italy to try my hand at living irresponsibly, like my trampy cousin Tammy Jeter. She’d always done as she damn well pleased. Up ‘til now, I’d thought she’d been selfish. Especially when she left Whitey Large and their five pit-bulls (One with puppies!) to run off with Tater Johnson. Turns out, that girl had had it right all along.
Available for only 99cents Sept 15-19
Glad One: Starting Over is a …!
How Many Do-Overs Do You Get in One Lifetime?
One crazy old lady. Two gin & tonics. Three wacko beach-bum friends. Will Val’s fourth stab at starting over add up to a big fat zero?
Val’s down, but don’t count her out just yet. Broke, but not broken (just seriously cracked), Val Fremden returns to her hometown of St. Petersburg, Florida to find everything she knew squashed under the heels of change.
With nothing left to go on but her own dry sense of humor and the life coach advice of a beer-guzzling old lady she meets at the beach, can her life get any crazier? Just wait.
Glad One is a satirical look at divorce, single-hood and climbing back up the social ladder. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, reluctant, midlife-crisis survivor who lost everything — but regained herself.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for Val? Or is that just the headlamp of another train wreck heading her way? Knowing Val, it’s probably both.
If you like wacky, deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Glad One! It’s the second book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.
A puff of jaded air forced its way between my pursed lips like steam from a relief valve. I needed a good cry. But this was not the time or place for it. To distract myself, I started counting my blessings.
One decimated pocketbook. Two cottage-cheese thighs. Three maladjusted ex-husbands…. Crap!
Whoever was running the show up there had a wicked sense of humor – and I was getting damn tired of being the punchline. I scrounged around for my powder compact and opened it, intent on repairing my makeup after the nine-hour flight. One glance in the mirror at my worn-out face made me snap it shut. Why bother?
In forty-five years, I’d accumulated a good portion of wrinkles, a fair amount of belly fat, and, apparently, precious little wisdom. These questionable assets, along with $5,726 and a suitcase full of inappropriate clothes, were all I had left to launch my latest life makeover. I slumped back into my seat. I was bone-dragging tired. Even so, a wry grin snuck across my lips like a stolen kiss from a stranger. I was not defeated. Not yet, anyway.
The way I saw it, I still had two viable options. One, I could finally learn to laugh at myself. Or two, I could drink myself into oblivion. I fished around the bottom of my purse for a coin to determine my fate. I flipped a tarnished nickel into the air with my thumb. It did a triple gainer, plunged into my coffee, and splashed a nasty brown stain on the crotch of my white stretch pants.
Awesome. Let the festivities begin.
My last life makeover had begun over seven years ago, and had turned out to be a spectacular, downward spiral reminiscent of diving off a cliff with a bowling ball in my pants. Drowning in dullness and fueled by movie-inspired stupidity, I’d ditched a tiresome marriage and lucrative writing career, sold all my belongings and took off for Europe. In Italy, I met a German and fell in love with the idea of life with a stranger in a strange land. Things had been great for a while. But then the shiny wore off and the cracks showed up, like they always did.
On my arrival back in St. Petersburg, Florida, I’d discovered that seven wasn’t such a lucky number. In fact, seven years abroad had been just exactly long enough for my entire credit history to be erased – just like most of my money. I’d gotten off that plane with no driver’s license. No place to live. No credit card. No phone. No resume. And, worst of all, no friends. Incredibly, I’d somehow managed to become a foreigner in my own homeland.
As a lifelong lover of irony, I’d had to smile at my own ingenuity. How many other people on the planet could have claimed such a monumental fuck-up?
Available for only 99cents Sept 19-22
Two Crazy: Fickle Finger of Fate
The World is not a Safe Place for Figurines.
When you’re pushing 50 with an industrial bulldozer, birthdays can be a bitch. What was intended as a gag gift for Val ends up making her gag all right – and lands her in a whole heap of trouble with the law.
With one hot cop on her tail and a mean one on her trail, Val turns to old friends and new ones to help prove she’s not into human dismemberment.
Who’s the good cop? Who’s the bad? And who’s the dwarf in the Halloween mask?
Will a pair of falsies help Val stumble onto the truth? If not, she’s got to rely on her wacky, beach-bum friends if she’s going to escape the fickle finger of fate.
Two Crazy is a satirical look at how life seems to take pleasure in screwing up all of our well-laid plans. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, middle-aged woman with major trust issues and dubious, yet highly original coping skills.
If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Two Crazy. It’s the third book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.
I woke the morning after my birthday party with a cop in my bed and a dead body in the kitchen. Okay, it was just a roach carcass. But I swear it was big enough to draw a chalk line around. It was legs-up in the middle of the floor. I’d fumbled, bleary-eyed, toward the cappuccino machine in nothing but Tom’s t-shirt, and had managed, of course, to step right on it. The disgusting crunch of its carapace underfoot made me scream like a little girl.
As a native of the Sunshine State, I’d grown up learning to deal with the worst that Florida’s flora and fauna had to throw at me. Poison ivy. Cabbage-palm spikes. Daddy long-leg spiders. Fire ants. Kamikaze tree frogs. Ghoulish house geckos. Deadly rattlesnakes and cottonmouths. Even the occasional gator on the road or in a swimming pool. I’d managed to make my peace with all of them – except one.
Let a roach get anywhere near me – especially a flying one – and my bravado disappeared faster than Oreos at a Weight Watcher’s convention. When I’d stepped on that nasty bug, I’d let out a scream that could be heard on the International Space Station. If that marked me as a sissy, so be it. But there was something abhorrently primeval about a creature that could live for months without its own head.
“What’s going on in there!?”
Tom dashed into the room. He was naked except for his state-issued revolver. The sight of his tan, muscular body almost made me forget about my predicament. Almost.
“A roach,” I grimaced. I held up my foot like it needed stitches.
Tom grinned at me and shook his head.
“There appears to be no permanent damage. What happened to my fearless partner? Valliant Stranger?”
“Hey. Roaches are my kryptonite, okay?”
“Duly noted. I thought you put out some traps. Roach Motels, right?”
I took a paper towel off the roll and ran it under the tap. I bit my lip in disgust and wiped my foot.
“Yeah, I did. I guess there was no room left at the inn.”
Tom sniggered. “Don’t those things come with ‘No Vacancy’ signs?”
“Very funny, Mr. Morning Sunshine. Can we please change the subject now?”
A dirty grin crept across his face. Tom sidled up to me and put his hands on my hips.
“Have you got a vacancy that I can fill?”
I knocked his hands off of me.
“Geeze, Tom. I think that may go down in history as the most disgusting foreplay line ever.”
Tom scooped me up into his arms. His naughty grin deepened his dimples and crinkled the corners of his hypnotic, green eyes.
“Okay, how about this? I’ve got a gun, lady. Better do what I say.”
Both my hormones and my imagination went haywire.
“Now that’s something I can work with.”
Three Dumb: Wheelin’ & Dealin’
Baloney and Cheesed.
They say three’s the charm. But charming isn’t Val’s style.
Val Fremden is a lot of things. Quirky. Jaded. Disaster prone. But more than anything, she’s afraid of commitment.
When boyfriend Tom tells her he loves her – then trades away her mom’s ashes for a tiki hut – Val’s just not feelin’ it.
On the warpath with Tom, Val’s forced to rely on her oddball friends to help track down her mom’s cremains. But three botched stakeouts and two disasters later, she still hasn’t got peanuts. Through trial (but mostly error), Val discovers it’s not easy to outwit a mobile master of disguise when she’s stuck driving a paddy wagon full of nutcases.
She loves Tom…she loves him not. Knowing Val, she’s gonna need a bigger flower….
Three Dumb is a satirical look at how life, over time, changes our perception of love and the things we value. It’s told through the eyes of a snarky, middle-aged woman with legendary commitment issues and a gnawing reluctance toward romance.
If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love Three Dumb. It’s the fourth book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.
I’d spent Sunday evening alone, cooling down slowly, like the nuclear reactor at Chernobyl. I’d avoided a critical meltdown, and when I woke up Monday morning, I’d found myself on the verge of no longer being a lethal danger to other life forms.
After a cappuccino and a long, cool shower, at 8 a.m. I called Lefty’s Hauling again. It rang fifteen times, unanswered. This was, of course, totally unacceptable. It was time for Plan B.
I slipped on a sundress and sandals, put my hair in a ponytail and climbed into the red pleather driver’s seat of Maggie, my 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint convertible. With a little encouragement in the form of smashing her gas pedal to the floor, Maggie carried me north along Gulf Boulevard. The four-lane road, lined with two- and three-story beach resorts, skirted the Gulf of Mexico like stiches in a hem.
Year round, tourists flocked to the quaint mom-and-pop motels and sugar-white beaches. I couldn’t blame them. All-in-all, St. Pete Beach was a great place to be.
I turned east on 107th Avenue. Immediately, the salt air and kitsch beach shops disappeared, replaced with anywhere-USA strip malls. At 66th Street, I turned north in the direction of good-old Pinellas Park.
Every major metropolitan area had a section designated especially for rednecks. How they found each other, I didn’t know. Maybe they were all related, or there was some special redneck hotline I wasn’t privy to. At any rate, in Pinellas County, the mecca for country bumpkins and politically incorrect-and-proud-of-it folks was definitely Pinellas Park.
If it weren’t for Florida’s history of hurricanes and tropical storms, Pinellas Park would have choked to death on doublewide trailers decades ago. But in 1993, a freak storm took out all but the very highest quality manufactured homes. It had been dubbed the “1993 Storm of the Century” by some, the “’93 Super Storm” by others, and the “Great Blizzard of 1993” by the Yankees up north. But we locals simply called it the “No-Name Storm,” because it had come up so quickly and unexpectedly not even the weather forecasters had had time to register it with an official moniker.
It had begun on March 12th as a cyclonic storm in the Gulf of Mexico, then quickly grew into a beast that stretched from Cuba to Canada. It moved into Florida around midnight, catching us unaware with winds over 100 mph. It spawned 11 tornadoes and a storm surge in St. Pete that topped out at seven feet. For folks along the coast, bay and rivers, it had been devastating. It wiped out or damaged over 18,000 homes in the Sunshine State and killed 47 of our citizens, more than Hugo and Andrew combined. Suffice it to say, it was not a good time to be living in a tin can on wheels.
November 7, 2017
Most Definitely Contains Nuts.
All Val wants is a quiet holiday away from her oddball family. But a promise pried from her lips earlier in the year has blown that wish out the henhouse window.
When Val and her boyfriend Tom arrive at her mother’s house in Hicksville, USA, the annual Family Fruitcake Competition is well underway. And there’s more than a few fruits and nuts in the running.
But the biggest contest is between Val and her mom.
As their battle of wills heats up, unexpected ingredients get thrown into both women’s batter. It may be time to call in a referee….
Who will get best in show? Who will get their just desserts? And will Val’s half-baked family turn out to be too much baggage for Tom to handle? Order a copy and find out!
If you like deeply flawed characters and laugh-out-loud situations, you’ll love What Four. It’s the fifth book in Margaret Lashley’s hilarious, irreverent Val & Pals Series of seriously funny women’s fiction.
Like the characters in my novels, I haven’t lead a life of wealth or luxury. In fact, as it stands now, I’m set to inherit a half-eaten jar of Cheez Whiz…if my siblings don’t beat me to it.
During my illustrious career, I’ve been a roller-skating waitress, an actuarial assistant, an advertising copywriter, a real estate agent, a house flipper, an organic farmer, and a traveling vagabond/truth seeker. But no matter where I’ve gone or what I’ve done, I’ve always felt like a weirdo.
As a child I lived in my own pretend world of tickling fairies and talking cats. I began writing when I found an ancient black typewriter on my grandparent’s back porch. (Inspired by my brothers, Boys are Stupid was my first masterpiece.)
I’ve learned a heck of a lot in my life. But getting to know myself has been my greatest journey. Today, I know I’m smart. I’m direct. I’m jaded. I’m hopeful. I’m funny. I’m fierce. I’m a pushover. And I have a laugh that makes strangers want to join me at restaurants. In other words, I’m a jumble of opposing talents and flaws and emotions. And it’s all good.
In some ways, I’m a lot like Val Fremden the main character in my Val & Pals Series. My books featuring Val are not autobiographical, but what comes out of her mouth was first formed in my mind, and sometimes the parallels are undeniable. I drink TNTs. I had a car like Shabby Maggie. And I’ve started my life over four times, driving away with whatever earthly possessions fit in my car. And, perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned that friends come from unexpected places.
Promo Tour: A Bad Boy Billionaire Romance by Shayne Ford
A BAD BOY BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE
Night of the Kings series
by Shayne Ford
Genre: New Adult Erotic Romance