Saturday, March 17, 2018

Saturday's Series Spotlight: McAllister Justice by Reily Garrett featuring Inconclusive Evidence #3

Title: Inconclusive Evidence
Author: Reily Garrett
Series: McAllister Justice #3
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Thriller
Expected Release Date: March 26, 2018

Inconclusive Evidence #3
Braiding nanotechnology and medicine equals magic to the psychopathic mind.

Megan Chauner has achieved her dream of opening a veterinary practice when she receives a mysterious package with a dire warning from a college roommate turned investigative reporter. Entering a world of advanced surgical techniques, polymer microchips, and nanotechnology, she discovers twisted minds merging the latest science with progressive surgical procedures in a bid for power and wealth.

Lucas McAllister faces the biggest upheaval of his life. From chick magnet to wounded cop wasn’t a fall he’d foreseen. Now facing a forced retirement, he returns home to find a gun-toting enigma with multiple IDs deciphering reams of technical, medical jargon and embroiled in a plot destined to alter mankind’s path.

Stalkers and assassins draft reality checks that test Luc’s skill and endurance in keeping Megan and her furball alive while the McAllister brothers unite to thwart a bi-coastal conspiracy.

Content Warning: 18+ due to explicit sexual content

Tender Echoes #.5
Theft of spirit is no one’s birthright.

A quirk of her X chromosome furnished Alexis with an edge few others enjoyed. After fate plunged her into orphan status and an intolerable foster home forced her to the streets, a group of prostitutes sheltered her from their vicious pimp. Seeing something special within, they nurtured and shielded her from their harsh reality until she could forge her own path in life.

Destiny frequently takes us back to our roots. Lexi’s return journey begins when a serial killer attacks one of her adopted sisters. Relying on courage and wit, she must stay a step ahead and secure evidence to free her family from a psychopathic murderer.

Digital Velocity #1
The deadliest weapons are the ones we never see.

Keyboard prodigy, Lexi Donovan has risen from teenage orphan of the streets to complete independence with little help along the way. When a pervert threatens her friend, she sends an anonymous message to police, leading to a firefight that leaves a cop wounded.

Detective Ethan McAllister’s well-ordered life turned upside down the day an obscure text message led to a sexual predator’s identity and arrest. Since then, Callouston PD’s finest can’t trace the elusive hacker. The latest tip leads him to a brutal mutilation and a riddle indicating the identity of the next murder victim.

The dark net houses a playground for the morally depleted and criminally insane. When Lexi discovers the killer’s digital betting arena, she finds herself centered in a cyber stalker’s crosshairs, a psychopath bearing equal talent.

Street life strengthened Lexi while toughening her protective shell, but nothing could shield her from the shrewd detective forging a path to her heart.

Bound by Shadows #2

The architect of fear employs many forms.

Kidnapping and murder never crossed Kaylee’s mind when seeking a fresh start in Portland, a new beginning to shed the remnants of tragedy dogging her steps. After escaping from an underground cage, she fights to stay one step ahead of the killer bent on silencing his only witness. Kaylee.

Two months after dodging a sociopathic murderer’s best efforts, Caden McAllister flounders within a social sink hole, unable to move forward, too stubborn to step back. Guarded and wary, the private investigator’s stagnant lifestyle detonates into chaos when a battered and bloody young waif stumbles into his care. 

Framed for a murdering a past lover, Caden must clear his name and overcome his charge’s doubts while keeping her out of the sex-slave trade. When betrayal ends with Kaylee’s re-capture, Caden must conquer his past and risk all or lose the one he has come to love.

Murder, mystery, underground tunnels, and romance are intertwined in this standalone romantic thriller, the second installment of the McAllister Justice Series.

Inconclusive Evidence #3
Death in degrees
Jackie Milburn didn’t do fear.

The late-night walk to her car had never provoked an accelerated heart rate. Tonight, however, a bone-deep foreboding arose from vestiges of instinctual awareness, all merging to question her mission’s strategy. If she failed, millions would suffer and life as anyone knew it, would end.

Indistinct shadows granted a cozy ambience where she often lurked, but dingy light filtering through overhead branches mocked her bravado. Shadow limbs shook with laughter as Fate’s sense of humor conspired with nature to saturate creation’s mindset with malice.

Regardless of destiny’s intentions, she squared her shoulders while scanning the deserted parking lot, alert to any threat. A sense of relief had washed through her after depositing the damning evidence in the USPS blue box. The evil shits would never expect an investigative reporter to mail the sophisticated mechanisms across country. Precautions taken with the dispatch ensured no one could trace the recipient. Always have a backup plan.

This was the biggest scoop of her career and would spotlight one of Delaware’s billion-dollar companies as a collection of hi-tech, sociopathic thugs.

It wouldn’t take CSV Pharmaceuticals long to discover crucial evidence missing and ferret out their traitor. As corporations went, they were as paranoid as any. She prayed Dr. Sorenson made it out of the country alive, and not as shark chum. Paranoia had compelled her to refuse him the number to her newest burner phone. Intuition saw the last one tossed in the Willamette River after tapping out a quick message to her old college roommate. Jackie survived by instincts and prayed they would serve her well—one more time.

Making the last stop to pick up her go-bag would supply the necessary items to disappear until her story broke. The finishing touches included copies of lab reports and communication between the Delaware scientists and a company on the West Coast, ClickChip.

Various colored and styled wigs, plain lens glasses, makeup, and diverse fashion ensembles would allow her to blend with any crowd, but wouldn’t prevent CCTVs and facial recognition programs from pinpointing her location. Planning ahead, she had a well-stocked safe house outside city limits.

Trembling fingers failed to punch the unlock button on her key fob. Instead, her headlights cut a swath through the misty ground cover, a beacon to any waiting goon. Shit. The subsequent knocking of heart against ribs rivaled the best hammer drill while sweat coated her palms and face despite her warmed exhalations sending puffed smoke signals in the frosty air.

A slow, deep breath reclaimed her sense of calm and allowed the subtle scent from emerging camellia blossoms drifting on the night’s currents to settle her spirit. There. This is who I am. For visual affirmation of her feelings, she glanced at her reflection in the driver’s side window.

The sudden thrust of a phantom arm emerging from the dark pinned her against a hard chest. The steely limb angled and applied pressure to tilt her head back as if she were a rag doll.

“Oomph.” Collision forced air from her lungs while shock produced a gasp that inhaled a sickly sweet odor from the cloth rammed over her mouth and nose.

“Wanna play?” Malice drew out each syllable in a parody of innocent sport.

Momentary panic barred all reason. Instinctive reaction initiated clawing at the viselike grip. Subsequent kicking and twisting of her body yielded no compromise in her position.

In her periphery, she caught sight of a malevolent smile and glinting dark eyes under a black fedora. The boogeyman does exist.

Lethargy and disorientation. Another breath or pass out from hypoxia. No more pain. All her muscles relaxed against her will. The invading blackness closed in from the margins.

NO! An enraged cry died in her throat.

Tender Echoes #.5
“Jesus, Charlie. Hold on. I’ll get you to a hospital.” Lexi swallowed hard against the rising tide of acid degrading her throat’s lining as the unfolding scene corrupted her sanity. Pressure against the makeshift bandage on Charlie’s belly wound yielded a deeper crimson soaking her jacket, the provisional dressing secured by fingers encased in a thickening, sticky glove. So much blood.

This could’ve been Lexi’s fate—stabbed, slashed, disfigured for all time, blood forming rivulets pooling in the alley’s filth. Maroon puddles mingled with body fluids common to alleys sheltering the homeless as if destined to couple in a macabre, virulent concoction.

“R-run, Lexi. D-don’t let him make you a w-whore. I wasn’t—strong enough. Y-you were never p-part of the street life.” Trash and other filth from the narrow passageway cushioned Charlie’s bruised and battered head. One front tooth was missing, probably swallowed, while blood seeped from jagged slashes on her cheeks and brow, both career enders in the event she survived. “You shouldn’t be here. It was a mistake to text you, but the cops wouldn’t believe us girls.”

“Did your pimp do this, Charlie? What’s his real name?” Tell me so I can help you.

Remnants of a cardboard box, a vagabond’s homemade privy, retained odors of the dispossessed, rivaled only by the excrement saturating every molecule of thickened air drawn into her lungs. This was no place and no way to die.

“Yeah—said I stole from a customer. But I didn’t. The b-bastard just wanted a freebie.” Otherworldly pain glazed eyes forecasting a nonexistent future while icy wind leached color from a once-beautiful face now smeared with crimson streaks and pain. “Won’t tell you his name. I didn’t want to die alone. You’re f-free. You made it.”

“No, Charlie. I’ll get help. Lie still while I secure a pressure dressing.” This late at night, there’d be few cars to flag down and no foot traffic from which to enlist help. She was forced to rely on emergency personnel who’d classify the incident as NHI, no human involved.

Terror-induced flashbacks spewed forth of a stranger offering refuge to a teenager standing on a precipice, a choice. She’d first thought him relatively handsome, not understanding the slimy base of his character. She’d had no experience with pimps. Still, something inside steered her away from his pleasant façade. Perhaps she’d sensed his underlying character. Instinct had directed her to the unknown, where a small group of prostitutes offered shelter and nurtured her mind.

With one hand, Lexi freed her belt and maneuvered it under the fallen girl’s tiny waist amid groans and mewling cries. Youth and a livelihood from flatbacking necessitated a svelte figure, which facilitated her efforts to cinch the leather strap tight. Lexi reached for the cell clutched in Charlie’s hand, knowing the late hour meant a longer wait for help. Her fingers, covered in sticky crimson ropes of blood, tangled briefly with Charlie’s, a squishy squeeze to lend encouragement. Another bolus of acid rose in her throat.

“No.” One word spoken from the disembodied voice behind her could flash freeze Hell and instigate the formation of ice crystals in any world, under any circumstance.

Digital Velocity #1
I move frequently—but gain no distance.
I am warm, moist, and dark but give no comfort.
I can stretch and shrink, giving or taking at will, bringing both pain and pleasure with each.

“If God wanted you to tie the knot, he’d give you a near-death experience to better appreciate life, along with a craving for procreation. Then he’d smother your soul with the essence of venison, squirrel, frog legs, taters, and beer, to attract a likely counterpart from the sticks. No, wait. The latter has already happened, hasn’t it? Sorry.” Ethan narrowly kept his balance on the green-slicked, handmade bricks leading up the two-story, mauve-colored Victorian. If his 210-pound mass ended up sprawled on the steps, no doubt the picture would be splashed all over the precinct by noon with various unsavory captions.

“Maybe you should try it. The stick up your ass has to cause at least minor discomfort.” Larrick’s early-morning snark was a common greeting.

“Hey, I’m a normal guy.” Ethan glared over his shoulder.

Larrick snorted.

“Still wet from our early-morning storm. Watch your step, it’s slippery.” Scanning the myriad amorphous shadows lurking in the wood line, realization struck that he and his partner were sitting ducks if a sniper perched among the loblolly pine and oak trees lining the front and side yards.

Larrick’s reply came in equal measure of soft tones. “Either that or a large flock of birds dropped in recently to help her redecorate. Great detective work.”

“Bird droppings are—”

“Are sought after for facials. Especially the Japanese Nightingale shit.”

“Only you would know that.” Ethan adjusted his tie, an acknowledgment of the apprehension filling his mind.

“Are we whispering because your paranoid gut can’t assimilate food well enough to distinguish indigestion from an outside threat? This woman lives alone, gonna think we’re a couple of perverts and be liable to shoot us.”

“Word has it she’s a pacifist.”

“Fine. You’re one to talk about signs—dragging my ass to a stranger’s house at this ungodly morning hour to knock on the door and ask, ‘Lady, are you all right? We’re police detectives who received an anonymous tip you might have a hangnail. Perhaps we could lend you a pair of nail clippers?’” Derision and humor warred for dominance in Larrick’s tone, yet his sharp gaze continually scanned the perimeter in consideration of his partner’s unarticulated hunch. Yin and yang, they fit together, a clean-cut detective and his partner whose hair length had passed regulation specs weeks ago.

“You know this isn’t the first tip we’ve gotten, not to mention the fact that the other leads were solid and led to arrests. And while we’re at it, why don’t you step to the side? Standard police procedure when approaching an unknown situation.” Ethan turned sideways, standing by the door with his hand poised to knock on the solid oak. He hesitated. Moisture coated his palms, a rare occurrence. Scrutinizing the interior through the door’s narrow sidelights yielded nothing more than expected. Elegantly upholstered furniture, gleaming hardwood floors, and delicate bric-a-brac adorning the thick mantle and each side table completed the sophisticated picture. “Don’t see any problem. Maybe she’s fallen and can’t get to a phone.”

“You expected an old lady brandishing her curling iron? As for leads, I get mine from three-dimensional people while you get yours from a bunch of ones and zeroes. Why can’t our IT department trace your anonymous texts further than the loony bin? Though that’s probably appropriate, since your secret admirer’s last present consisted of a flower basket bigger than my TV, along with fur-lined cuffs. I’ve never laughed so hard I pissed myself. I thought that was hogwash, a myth made up by old ladies.” Larrick leaned over the iron railing to peer through the window. “Can’t see squat, bottom sill’s too high.”

“As my partner, you’re supposed to have my back, not stab me in the back. You didn’t have to broadcast it through the whole department by hanging the cuffs from the sprinkler system with a bunch of roses twined in them. Now my brothers won’t let up, and I’ve been subscribed to every kinky magazine known to the publishing world. You think I should know why some whacko chose me for their personal marionette?” Ethan suppressed a shudder before his partner gained more verbal ammunition. If his suspicions were correct, his informant was, in fact, a beautiful enigma with waist-length, chestnut hair and an emerald gaze capable of melting steel.

“Maybe because you were the youngest to make detective? Rising star, golden boy, and all that shit.”

“No. Probably afraid your redneck ways would rub off on them, or maybe because I’m the biggest sap.” Ethan’s gut rumbled, more of a warning sign from a well-heeled intuition than hunger. “Larrick, this doesn’t feel right.” Behind him, the slide of metal on leather let him know his partner just palmed his Glock. Three years of working together circumvented the formality of dissecting gut reactions.

A creak of leather sole betrayed Larrick’s backtracking to scrutinize the surroundings. “Side windows are lower. I’ll take a look.”

“Hood of her BMW is cold. Didn’t go anywhere recently.” Larrick’s harsh whisper halted a nearby squirrel scampering up a tree, its head cocked to one side while studying the strange human interlopers.

Sunshine warmed the first spring buds on the low shrubbery bordering the walkway to complete the idyllic setting. Nothing but peace and serenity, yet Ethan’s heart hammered against his ribcage like an aggressive punk drummer. With his partner disappearing around the corner, he again scanned the perimeter while the morning’s corrupted equanimity formed a sour wad in his chest. A lazy March breeze combed its cool fingers through his short hair while the deep foreboding received with the initial text message blossomed into multiple horrific scenarios, leaving one of them a corpse, their life’s essence forming macabre shapes on gleaming hardwood floors.

“I see bare feet beyond the kitchen island. Toes up. Probably female.” Larrick’s disembodied whisper just provided probable cause. “Backup?”

Bound by Shadows #2
Confusion and pain intertwined to delay Kaylee’s escape from the depths of a nightmare. Her subconscious’ attempt to alert her to some horror or another had been common the past two years, but this time the warning came with physical characteristics she couldn’t ignore.

The pain was an unwelcome element for which she could not account.

Cozy flannel sheets had never felt so rough under her cheek, nor had her head ached from a glass of wine. Despite the tomboy tag since adolescence, she appreciated certain creature comforts. The rough material scratching her face didn’t number among them.

A quiet foreboding swelled within that fuzzy twilight between the dream state and the hazy stages of surfing to consciousness. Sleep would be welcome if not for the musty odor and an undefined menace crowding her mind. Her brow furrowed as her pulse increased, awareness mounting with each painful throb.

Why is there dirt in my bed and what the hell is wrong with this mattress?

With each erratic contraction of her heart, the tension in her head increased, ratcheting like the shell around a drumhead until pain reverberated along every nerve. In grim anticipation, she reached to touch her temple. A crusty line of fibrous, threadlike strands crumbled in her brow line and snaked down to her ear.

Blood? What the hell?

Moving back to Portland had entailed a certain degree of compromise, yet shouldn’t include a cotton-mouth morning. This was too much. A light finger-comb revealed a large tangled knot and a painful lump over her ear.

Did I fall off the mattress and hit my head?

“Hey, kid. Wake up, damn it. Hurry.”

The harsh whisper embodied urgency and desperation that replicated and swelled within her chest.

What the fuck? The voice in her head wasn’t her own. Enlightenment would come after punching through the suffocating fog and fully emerging in the suddenly hostile world. Stabbing pain accompanied the dingy light spearing her eyes after cautiously lifting one lid.

A blur of flashbacks included sitting in an outdoor riverfront café enjoying the sunset with her favorite camera nestled in her lap. Snapping the riot of colors slipping into the ocean had equaled the day’s highpoint, nature’s way of assuring her she’d made the right decision in moving to Portland.

Now, for reasons evading memory, her gaze soft-focused on a scene defying logic.

“Kid, open your eyes before it’s too late. Grab the small rock by your head. Hide it behind you.”

Okaaay, evil mini me is crazy, and I will never drink wine again.

Five minutes of silence would help her collect her thoughts and allow time to search her virtual portfolio for whatever was causing the nausea-producing pests in her brain and stomach. Each vied for the position of top party host. Intuition whispered taking that time would be her undoing.

Instead of the distant hustle and bustle of city life swarming her senses, Kaylee found the intense quiet more disturbing than the harsh whisper. “Wait...what rock?”

Fragments of her surroundings wavered in and out of focus. Brick walls smeared with dirt were partially visible through the horizontal bars.

Horizontal bars?

She reached with shaking fingers to touch the rusted metal cylinders then tried to rattle them. They didn’t budge. A cramp in her thigh from resting in a semi-fetal position grew in intensity while her feet crowded against hard, cylindrical surfaces and prevented her from stretching out.

More bars.

She didn’t have the strength to yell.

The quick, indrawn breath was also not her own. “C’mon you stupid kid. Knock that off, or we’re both dead.”

A shower of dirt sprinkling her face and hair made her cough, the resultant sandy inhalation perpetuating the cycle.

The collaborative dream, having taken a southern turn into hell, brought another wave of anxiety along with nausea. Each of her senses plunged deeper into a dark abyss, taking logic and rational thought through a twisted, interactive roller-coaster ride.

Disorientation, chaos, and the first stirrings of panic took root like a well-fertilized seed that sent its growing tendrils sliding deep within the earth.

Loose dirt and small rocks covered the hard base and abraded her shoulder as she moved to a cramped position on her back. The changed perspective brought enlightenment.

That’s why the bars were horizontal.

“Fuck.” Details assimilated sluggishly. Dirt-covered metal comprised a bed, but it wasn’t in her apartment. Walls of brick as seen through her cage, lack of windows, and stale, dank air, pointed to an underground zip code.

Micro currents ferried a thick, putrid scent and muffled the faint, eerie groans of venting tunnels.

“What’s your name?” Again, a whisper twisted with annoyance and despair saturated the air.

Halting breaths and extreme concentration staved off the blind terror threatening her sanity.

“Kaylee. My name is Kaylee.” Slowly, she searched for the irritating heckler.

“Listen up, Kaylee. The bastard who took you is gonna be back soon, probably looking for a bit of afternoon delight. And he won’t be asking. He kidnapped you, too. I don’t know why.”

Kaylee’s befuddled mind took in more of her surroundings, low ceiling, dirt floor, cramped, cave-like room, and the caged, bedraggled woman three feet away. Purple and black surrounded her right eye and busted lip. Her shirt front hung in tatters, the ripped flannel exposing a large bruise above her breast.

“How long have we been here?” A torch along the wall cast flickering shadows over the adjoining cage, just short of her own.

Flickering—indicates an air current.

“The last thing I remember is shopping.” Tears trailed down the petite blonde’s mud-streaked alabaster cheeks which sharply contrasted the bruises marring her face.

“There’s a slight breeze coming from—that way.” Kaylee strained to see where the tunnel led. Pitch black. Some apparitional entity scuttled in the darkness beyond the seedy illumination and left the impression of ghostly stalkers. Stalkers that chittered in the dark. I’d rather see the boogeyman than rats. “We seem to be in an underground room?”

“Yeah. I think so. I woke up just like you, but the bastard tied my hands before my head cleared.” A sob choked further words as the victim’s wide eyes flickered around the room.

A cursory exploration of the small perimeter marked the filthy, tight confines, then the small, sharp-edged rock which fit in her palm. Instinct saw her sliding it behind her. Mud covered her jeans and colored her T-shirt and jacket. Bathing was the least of her worries.

“Someone slipped us a roofie.” Bruises, tattered flannel, and bound wrists conveyed the woman’s recent past.

Kaylee’s continued scrutiny yielded no clues of how to escape her dilemma. Even if she could squeeze her hand and arm through the bars’ two-inch gaps, she didn’t have the strength or leverage to break the heavy-duty padlock securing her prison.

“Yes. Yes. But at least you’re not tied up, yet.” The girl lifted her hands to reveal a double loop, plastic cuff. “See if you can break out.”

Author Bio:
Reily’s employment as an ICU nurse, private investigator, and work in the military police has given her countless experiences in a host of different environments to add a real world feel to her fiction.

Though her kids are her life, writing is Reily’s life after. The one enjoyed…after the kids are in bed or after they’re in school and the house is quiet. This is the time she kicks back with laptop and lapdog to give her imagination free rein.

In life, hobbies can come and go according to our physical abilities, but you can always enjoy a good book. Life isn’t perfect, but our imaginations can be. Relax, whether it’s in front of a fire or in your own personal dungeon. Take pleasure in a mental pause as you root for your favorite hero/heroine and bask in their accomplishments, then share your opinions of them over a coffee with your best friend (even if he’s four legged). Life is short. Cherish your time.


Inconclusive Evidence #3
⏳💸Currently 99cents💸⏳

Tender Echoes #0.5
💦💸Currently Free💸💦

Digital Velocity #1

Bound by Shadows #2

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⏳💸⏳99cent Sale Blitz⏳💸⏳: Falling for Jordan by Liz Durano

Title: Falling for Jordan
Author: Liz Durano
Series: A Different Kind of Love #2
Genre: Adult Romance
Release Date: November 7, 2017

No names. No numbers.

Just one wild night with a gorgeous stranger and then, they’d go their separate ways.

But what happens when her one-night stand turns into something more?
Some one-night stands are just that: one-night stands. But for transplant physician Addison Rowe, it means a baby and a story she’ll stick to about being a single mother – via a sperm donor. After all, she's got a professional reputation to protect.

But when building contractor Jordan O’Halloran returns to New York after a year spent building schools in Southeast Asia, Addison will need to decide whether maintaining appearances is more important than reuniting a father with the daughter he never knew.

But even if the answer comes easily, Addison will need to navigate through a maze of intercultural family expectations and an ex-girlfriend who hasn't yet let go of her first love.

*A light-hearted follow-up to the bestselling novel Everything She Ever Wanted, Falling for Jordan is the second book in A Different Kind of Love series that readers have called "moving," "riveting," and "emotional." While the book can be read separately, it's best appreciated when read after Everything She Ever Wanted, book 1 of A Different Kind of Love series.

“I texted you a few hours ago but didn’t get a reply so I thought I’d come by to leave a note. But the women at the front said they’d check to see if you were available,” he adds. “So what’s so important that you couldn’t just say in a text message?”

I take a deep breath. It’s now or never, Addy. Tell him. “That night we spent together? I got pregnant.”

He stares at me for a few seconds and I can’t help but notice how the room seems so quiet. “Excuse me?”

“I got pregnant,” I repeat.

“But we used protection that night.”

All three times we did it, I know. “Well, somehow it failed.”

“What happened to the baby?” he asks. “Did you keep it?”

“She’s ten weeks old.”

He looks at me in shock, blowing air between his lips. He’s quiet for a few moments and I don’t push it. It’s not every day some woman you barely know tells you that you got her pregnant. But then, looking like he does, I may not be the first either. I wonder if I should have had Kathy in here to act as a mediator in case things get testy or if he hyperventilates and passes out. But Kathy doesn’t know the circumstances of my pregnancy. No one does except me. And now Jordan.

“What’s her name?”

His question throws me off. For so long, I've had a different scenario replaying in my head, of a man who gets angry and then refuses to have any involvement with the child, not even caring to know if it's a girl or a boy. In my head, he simply tells me it's my problem and walks away. It's never been anything else.

Everything She Ever Wanted #1
She's smart, independent, and heartbroken. He's cocky, a bit rough around the edges, and too young.

But when a scheduling mistake lands a heartbroken doctor and a cocky woodworker in the same place at the same time, can their fling turn into the real thing?

When her husband leaves her for a younger woman, 40-year-old surgeon Harlow James finds herself without family, friends, and barely a career. So she trades the bright lights of New York for the open road and ends up at the Pearl, a sustainable Earthship outside of Taos, New Mexico where she hopes to find out where she went wrong.

For woodworker Dax Drexel, the Pearl is where he retreats from the world to design his award-winning furniture. Unfortunately, the Pearl’s already got an occupant and she’s currently passed out on his bed, naked. He really should mind his own business but he can’t, not when there’s a gun in the living room, next to a tear-stained note that begins with, “I’m sorry I failed you…”

Join Dax and Harlow in a journey that readers have called “heartfelt,” “riveting,” and “amazingly emotional.”

Author Bio:
Liz's first foray into writing was back in eighth-grade when her steamy taboo serial was passed around during Homeroom and almost got her suspended. In return for not informing her parents about her over-active and dirty imagination, she agreed to be assigned to the Poetry club for the rest of high school.

It took some time after that sudden burst of dirty inspiration in eighth grade, but Liz has since published ten books and countless short stories. She's the author of the bestselling novel, Everything She Ever Wanted and Loving Ashe, and is currently working on more stories about Dax, Ashe, and company.

Liz lives in Southern California with her family, a Chihuahua mix, and way too many books.


Falling for Jordan #2

Everything She Ever Wanted #1

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Friday, March 16, 2018

📘🎥Friday's Film Adaptation🎥📘: Tara Road by Maeve Binchy

Two women – one Irish, one American – exchange homes for the summer; their unlikely and touching friendship unveils secrets and changes lives.

Ria Lynch and Marilyn Vine have never met. Their lives have almost nothing in common. Ria lives in a big ramshackle house in Tara Road, Dublin, which is filled day and night with the family and friends on whom she depends. Marilyn lives in a college town in Connecticut, New England, absorbed in her career, an independent and private woman who is very much her own person.

Two more unlikely friends would be hard to find. Yet a chance phone call brings them together and they decide to exchange homes for the summer. Ria goes to America in the hope that the change will give her space and courage to sort out the huge crisis in her life that is threatening to destroy her. Marilyn goes to Ireland to recover in peace and quiet from the tragedy which she keeps secret from the world, little realising that Tara Road will prove to be the least quiet place on earth.

They borrow each other's houses, and during the course of that magical summer they find themselves borrowing something of each other's lives, until a story which began with loss and suffering grows into a story of discovery, unexpected friendship and new hope. By the time Ria and Marilyn eventually meet, they find that they have altered the course of each other's lives for ever.

Ria's mother had always been very fond of film stars. It was a matter of sadness to her that Clark Gable had died on the day Ria was born. Tyrone Power had died on the day Hilary had been born just two years earlier. But somehow that wasn't as bad. Hilary hadn't seen off the great king of cinema as Ria had. Ria could never see Gone With the Wind without feeling somehow guilty.

She told this to Ken Murray, the first boy who kissed her. She told him in the cinema. Just as he was kissing her, in fact.

"You're very boring," he said, trying to open her blouse.

"I'm not boring," Ria cried with some spirit. "Clark Gable is there on the screen and I've told you something interesting. A coincidence. It's not boring."

Ken Murray was embarrassed, as so much attention had been called to them. People were shushing them and others were laughing. Ken moved away and huddled down in his seat as if he didn't want to be seen with her.

Ria could have kicked herself. She was almost sixteen. Everyone at school liked kissing, or said they did. Now she was starting to do it and she had made such a mess of it. She reached out her hand for him.

"I thought you wanted to look at the film," he muttered.

"I thought you wanted to put your arm around me," Ria said hopefully.

He took out a bag of toffees and ate one. Without even passing her the bag. The romantic bit was over.

Sometimes you could talk to Hilary, Ria had noticed. This wasn't one of those nights.

"Should you not talk when people kiss you?" she asked her sister.

"Jesus, Mary, and Holy St. Joseph," said Hilary, who was getting dressed to go out.

"I just asked," Ria said. "You'd know, with all your experience with fellows."

Hilary looked around nervously in case anyone had heard. "Will you shut up about my experience with fellows," she hissed. "Mam will hear you and that will be the end of either of us going anywhere ever again."

Their mother had warned them many times that she was not going to stand for any cheap behavior in the family. A widow woman left with two daughters had enough to worry her without thinking that her girls were tramps and would never get a husband. She would die happy if Hilary and Ria had nice respectable men and homes of their own. Nice homes, in a classier part of Dublin, places with a garden even. Nora Johnson had great hopes that they would all be able to move a little upward. Somewhere nicer than the big, sprawling housing estate where they lived now. And the way to find a good man was not by flaunting yourself at every man that came along.

"Sorry, Hilary." Ria looked contrite. "But anyway she didn't hear, she's watching TV."

Their mother did little else during an evening. She was tired, she said, when she got back from the dry cleaners where she worked at the counter. All day on your feet, it was nice to sit down and get transported to another world. Mam wouldn't have heard anything untoward from upstairs about experience with fellows.

Hilary forgave her--after all she needed Ria to help her tonight. Mam had a system that as soon as Hilary got in she was to leave her handbag on the landing floor. That way when Mam got up to go to the bathroom in the night she'd know Hilary was home and would go to sleep happily. Sometimes it was Ria's job to leave the handbag out there at midnight, allowing Hilary to creep in at any hour, having taken only her keys and lipstick in her pocket.

"Who'll do it for me when the time comes?" Ria wondered.

"You won't need it if you're going to be blabbing and yattering on to fellows when they try to kiss you," Hilary said. "You'll not want to stay out late because you'll have nowhere to go."

"I bet I will," Ria said, but she didn't feel as confident as she sounded. There was a stinging behind her eyes.

She was sure she didn't look too bad. Her friends at school said she was very lucky to have all that dark curly hair and blue eyes. She wasn't fat or anything and her spots weren't out of control. But people didn't pick her out; she didn't have any kind of sparkle like other girls in the class did.

Hilary saw her despondent face. "Listen, you're fine, you've got naturally curly hair, that's a plus for a start. And you're small, fellows like that. It will get better. Sixteen is the worst age, no matter what they tell you." Sometimes Hilary could be very nice indeed. Usually on the nights she wanted her handbag left on the landing.

And of course Hilary was right. It did get better. Ria left school and like her elder sister took a secretarial course. There were plenty of fellows, it turned out. Nobody particularly special, but she wasn't in any rush. She would possibly travel the world before she settled down to marry.

"Not too much traveling," her mother warned.

Nora Johnson thought that men might regard travel as fast. Men preferred to marry safer, calmer women. Women who didn't go gallivanting too much. It was only sensible to have advance information about men, Nora Johnson told her daughters. This way you could go armed into the struggle. There was a hint that she may not have been adequately informed herself. The late Mr. Johnson, though he had a bright smile and wore his hat at a rakish angle, was not a good provider. He had not been a believer in life insurance policies. Nora Johnson worked in a dry cleaners and lived in a shabby, run-down housing estate. She did not want the same thing for her daughters when the time came.

"When do you think the time will come?" Ria asked Hilary.

"For what?" Hilary was frowning a lot at her reflection in the mirror. The thing about applying blusher was that you had to get it just right. Too much and you looked consumptive, too little and you looked dirty and as if you hadn't washed your face.

"I mean, when do you think either of us will get married? You know the way Mam's always talking about when the time comes."

"Well I hope it comes to me first, I'm the elder. You're not even to consider doing it ahead of me."

"No, I have nobody in mind. It's just I'd love to be able to look into the future and see where we'll be in two years' time. Wouldn't it be great if we could have a peep."

"Well, go to a fortune-teller then, if you're that anxious."

"They don't know anything." Ria was scornful.

"It depends. If you get the right one they do. A lot of the girls at work found this great one. It would make you shiver the way she knows things."

"You've never been to her?" Ria was astounded.

"Yes, I have actually, just for fun. The others were all going, I didn't want to be the only one disapproving."


"And what?"

"What did she tell you? Don't be mean, go on." Ria's eyes were dancing.

"She said I would marry within two years. . . ."

"Great, can I be the bridesmaid?"

"And that I'd live in a place surrounded by trees and that his name began with an M, and that we'd both have good health all our lives."

"Michael, Matthew, Maurice, Marcello?" Ria rolled them all around to try them out. "How many children?"

"She said no children," Hilary said.

"You don't believe her, do you?"

"Of course I do, what's the point giving up a week's wages if I don't believe her."

"You never paid that!"

"She's good. You know, she has the gift."

"Come on."

"No, she does have a gift. All kinds of high-up people consult her. They wouldn't if she didn't have the power."

"And where did she see all this good health and the fellow called M and no children? In tea leaves?"

"No, on my hand. Look at the little lines under your little finger around the side of your hand. You've got two, I've got none."

"Hilary, don't be ridiculous. Mam has three lines. . . ."

"And remember there was another baby who died, so that makes three, right."

"You are serious! You do believe it."

"You asked so I'm telling you."

"And everyone who is going to have children has those little lines and those who aren't haven't?"

"You have to know how to look." Hilary was defensive.

"You have to know how to charge, it seems." Ria was distressed to see the normally levelheaded Hilary so easily taken in.

"It's not that dear when you consider--" Hilary began.

"Ah, Hilary, please. A week's wages to hear that kind of rubbish! Where does she live, in a penthouse?"

"No, a caravan as it happens, on a caravan halting site."

"You're joking me."

"True, she doesn't care about money. It's not a racket or a job, it's a gift."


"So it looks like I can do what I like without getting pregnant." Hilary sounded very confident.

"It might be dangerous to throw out the Pill," said Ria. "I wouldn't rely totally on Madam Fifi or whatever she's called."

"Mrs. Connor."

"Mrs. Connor," Ria repeated. "Isn't that amazing? Mam used to consult St. Anne or someone when she was young. We thought that was mad enough, now it's Mrs. Connor in the halting site."

"Wait until you need to know something, you'll be along to her like a flash."

It was very hard to know what a job was going to be like until you were in it and then it was too late.

Hilary had office jobs in a bakery, a laundry, and then settled in a school. There wasn't much chance of meeting a husband there, she said, but the pay was a bit better and she got her lunch free, which meant she could save a bit more. She was determined to have something to put toward a house when the time came.

Ria was saving too, but to travel the world. She worked first in the office of a hardware shop, then in a company that made hairdressing supplies. And then settled in a big, busy real estate agency. Ria was on the reception desk and answered the phone. It was a world she knew nothing of when she went in, but it was obviously a business with a huge buzz. Prosperity had come to Ireland in the early eighties and the property market was the first to reflect this. There was huge competition between the various real estate agents and Ria found they worked closely as a team.

On the first day she met Rosemary. Slim, blond, and gorgeous, but as friendly as any of the girls she had ever met at school or secretarial college. Rosemary also lived at home with her mother and sister, so there was an immediate bond. Rosemary was so confident and well up in everything that was happening, Ria assumed that she must be a graduate or someone with huge knowledge of the whole property market. But no, Rosemary had only worked there for six months; it was her second job.

"There's no point in working anywhere unless we know what it's all about," Rosemary said. "It makes it twice as interesting if you know all that's going on."

It also made Rosemary twice as interesting to all the fellows who worked there. They found it very difficult to get to first base with her. In fact, Ria had heard that there was a sweepstake being run secretly on who would be the first to score. Rosemary had heard this too. She and Ria laughed over it.

"It's only a game," Rosemary said. "They don't really want me at all." Ria was not sure that she was right; almost any man in the office would have been proud to escort Rosemary Ryan. But she was adamant: a career first, fellows later. Ria listened with interest. It was such a different message than the one she got at home, where her mother and Hilary seemed to put a much greater emphasis on the marriage side of things.

Ria's mother said that 1982 was a terrible year for film stars dying. Ingrid Bergman died, and Romy Schneider and Henry Fonda, then there was the terrible accident when Princess Grace was killed. All the people you really wanted to see, they were dying off like flies.

It was also the year that Hilary Johnson got engaged to Martin Moran, a teacher at the school where she worked in the office.

Martin was pale and anxious and originally from the West of Ireland. He always said his father was a small farmer, not just a farmer but a small one. Since Martin was six feet one it was hard to imagine this. He was courteous and obviously very fond of Hilary, yet there was something about him that lacked enthusiasm and fire. He looked slightly worried about things and spoke pessimistically when he came to the house for Sunday lunch.

There was a problem connected with everything. The Pope would get assassinated when he visited England, Martin was sure of it. And when he didn't, it was just lucky and his visit hadn't done all the good that people had hoped it would. The war in the Falklands would have repercussions for Ireland, mark his word. And the trouble in the Middle East was going to get worse, and the IRA bombs in London were only the tip of the iceberg. Teachers' salaries were too low; house prices were too high.

Ria looked with wonder at the man her sister was going to marry.

Hilary, who had once been able to throw away a week's salary on a fortune-teller, was now talking about the cost of having shoes repaired and the folly of making a telephone call outside the cheap times.

Eventually a selection was made and a deposit was paid. It was a very small house. It was impossible to imagine what the area might look like in the future. At present it was full of mud, cement mixers, diggers, unfinished roads, and unmade footpaths. And yet it seemed exactly what her elder sister wanted out of life. Never had she seen her so happy.

Hilary was always smiling and holding Martin's hand as they talked, even on very worrying subjects like stamp duty and the real estate agent's fees. She kept turning and examining the very small diamond that had been very carefully chosen and bought from a jeweler where Martin's cousin worked so that a good price had been arranged.

Hilary was excited about the wedding day, which would be on the day before her twenty-fourth birthday. For Hilary the time had come. She celebrated it with manic frugality. She and Martin vied with each other to save money on the whole project.

An autumn wedding was much more sensible. Hilary could wear a cream-colored suit and hat, something that could be worn again and again, and eventually dyed a dark color and worn still further. As a wedding feast they would have a small lunch in a Dublin hotel, just family. Martin's father and brothers, being small farmers, could not afford to be away from the land for any longer than a day. It would be impossible to be anything but pleased for her. It was so obviously what Hilary wanted. But Ria knew that it was nothing at all like what she wanted herself.

Ria wore a bright scarlet-colored coat to the wedding, and a red velvet hair band and bow in her black curly hair. She must have been one of the most colorful bridesmaids at the drabbest wedding in Europe, she thought.

Next day she decided to wear her scarlet bridesmaid's coat to the office. Rosemary was amazed. "Hey, you look terrific. I've never seen you dressed up before, Ria. Seriously, you should get interested in clothes, you know. What a pity we have nowhere to go to lunch and show you off, we mustn't waste this."

"Come on, Rosemary, it's only clothes." Ria was embarrassed. She felt now that she must have been dressed like a tramp before.

"No, I'm not joking. You must always wear those knock-them-dead colors. I bet you were the hit of the wedding!"

"I'd like to think so, but maybe I was a bit too loud, made them color-blind. You've no idea what Martin's people were like."

"Like Martin?" Rosemary guessed.

"Compared to them Martin's a ball of fire," Ria said.

"Look, I can't believe you're the same person as yesterday." Rosemary stood in her immaculate lilac-colored knitted suit, her makeup perfect and amazed admiration written all over her.

"Well, you've really put it up to me. Now I'll have to get a whole new wardrobe." Ria twirled around once more before taking off her new scarlet coat, and caught the eye of the new man in the office.

She had heard there was a Mr. Lynch coming from the Cork branch. He had obviously arrived. He wasn't tall, about her own height. He was handsome, and he had blue eyes and straight fair hair that fell into them. He had a smile that lit up the room. "Hallo, I'm Danny Lynch," he said. Ria looked at him, embarrassed to have been caught pirouetting around in her new coat. "Aren't you just gorgeous?" he said. She felt a very odd sensation in her throat, as if she had been running up a hill and couldn't catch her breath.

Rosemary spoke, which was just as well because Ria would not have been able to answer at all.

"Well hallo there, Danny Lynch," she said with a bit of a smile. "And you are very welcome to our office. You know, we were told that there was a Mr. Lynch arriving, but why did we think it was going to be some old guy?"

Ria felt a pang of jealousy as she had never before felt about her friend. Why did Rosemary always know exactly what to say, how to be funny and flattering and warm at the same time?

"I'm Rosemary, this is Ria, and we are the workforce that keeps this place going, so you have to be very nice to us."

"Oh, I will," Danny promised.

And Ria knew he would probably join the sweepstake as to who would score first with Rosemary. Probably would win, as well. Oddly he seemed to be talking to Ria when he spoke, but maybe she was just imagining it. Rosemary went on. "We were just looking for somewhere to go out and celebrate Ria's new coat."

"Great! Well, we have the excuse, all we need is the place and to know how long a lunch break so that I don't make a bad impression on my first day." His extraordinary smile went from one to the other; they were the only three people in the world.

Ria couldn't say anything; her mouth was totally dry.

"If we're out and back in under an hour then I think we'll do well," said Rosemary.

"So now it's only where?" Danny Lynch said, looking straight at Ria. This time there were only two of them in the world. She still couldn't speak.

"There's an Italian place across the road," Rosemary said. "It would cut down on time getting there and back."

"Let's go there," said Danny Lynch, without taking his eyes away from Ria Johnson.

Afterward Ria could remember nothing of the lunch. Rosemary told her they talked about work, the houses on their books.

Danny was twenty-three. His uncle had been a real estate agent. Well, he had been a bit of everything in a small town, a publican, an undertaker, but he also had an agent's license and that's where Danny had gone to work when he left school. They had sold grain and fertilizer and hay as well as cattle and small farms, but as Ireland changed, property became important. And then he had gone to Cork City and he loved it all, and now he had just gotten this job in Dublin.

He was as excited as a child on Christmas Day, and Rosemary and Ria were carried along with him all the way. He said he hated being in the office and loved being out with clients, but then didn't everyone? He knew it would take time before he'd get that kind of freedom in Dublin. He had been to Dublin often but never lived there.

And where was he staying? Rosemary had never seemed so interested in anyone before. Ria watched glumly. Every man in the office would have killed to see the light in the eyes, the interest in every word. She never inquired where any of her other colleagues lived, she didn't seem to know if they had any accommodation at all. But with Danny it was different. "Tell us now that you don't live miles and miles away, do you?" Rosemary had her head on one side. No man on earth could resist giving Rosemary his address and finding out where she lived too. But Danny didn't seem to regard it as a personal exchange; it was part of the general conversation. He spoke looking from one to the other as he told them how he had fallen on his feet. He really had the most amazing bit of luck. There was this man he had met, a sort of madman really called Sean O'Brien, old and confused. A real recluse. And he had inherited a great big house on Tara Road, and he wasn't capable of doing it up, and he didn't want all the bother
and the discussing of it and all so what he really wanted was a few fellows to go in and live there. Fellows were easier than girls, they didn't want things neat and clean and organized. He smiled apologetically at them as if to say he knew that fellows were hopeless.

So that's where he and two other lads lived. They had a room each, and kept an eye on the place until poor old Sean decided what he was going to do. Suited everybody.

What kind of a house was it, the girls wanted to know?

Tara Road was very higgledy-piggledy. Big houses with gardens full of trees, small houses facing right on the street. No. 16 was a great old house, Danny said. Falling down, damp, shabby now. Poor Sean O'Brien's old uncle must have been a bit of a no-hoper like Sean himself, it must have been a great house once. You got a feel for houses, didn't you? Otherwise, why be in this business at all.

Ria sat with her chin in her hands listening to Danny and looking at him and looking at him. He was so enthusiastic. The place had a big overrun garden, and an orchard even at the back. It was one of those houses that just put out its arms and hugged you.

Rosemary must have kept the conversation going and called for the check. They walked across the road back to work and Ria sat down at her desk. Things don't happen like this in real life. It's only a crush or an infatuation. He's a perfectly ordinary small guy with a line of chatter. He is exactly like this to everyone else. So why on earth did she feel that he was totally special, and that if he got to share all his plans and dreams with anyone else she would kill the other person. This wasn't the kind of way people went on. Then she remembered her sister's wedding the day before. That wasn't the way people went on either.

Before the office closed Ria went over to Danny Lynch's desk. "I'm going to be twenty-two tomorrow," she said. "I wondered . . ." Then she got stuck.

He helped her out. "Are you having a party?"

"Not really, no."

"Then can we celebrate it together. Today the coat, tomorrow being twenty-two. Who knows what we'll have to celebrate by Wednesday?"

And then Ria knew that it wasn't a crush or an infatuation, it was love. The kind of thing she had only read about, heard about, sung about, or seen at the cinema. And it had come to find her in her own office.


Two women -- one American, one Irish -- make a house swap that alters their respective destinies.

Release Dates: October 7, 2005 - Ireland
March 26, 2006 - USA
Release Time: 97 minutes

Olivia Williams as Ria Lynch
Andie MacDowell as Marilyn Vine
Iain Glen as Danny Lynch
August Zirner as Greg Vine
Stephen Rea as Colm Maguire
Maria Doyle Kennedy as Rosemary Ryan
Sarah Bolger as Annie Lynch
Johnny Brennan as Brian Lynch
Eileen Colgan as Nora
Jean-Marc Barr as Andy Vine
Alan Devlin as Barney McCarthy
Brenda Fricker as Mona McCarthy
Ruby Wax as Carlotta
Jia Francis as Heidi Franks
Maeve Binchy (cameo) as a restaurant patron

Author Bio:
Maeve Binchy was born in County Dublin and educated at the Holy Child convent in Killiney and at University College, Dublin. After a spell as a teacher she joined The Irish Times. Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982, and she went on to write more than 20 books, all of them bestsellers. Several have been adapted for film and television, most notably Circle of Friends and Tara Road, which was an Oprah’s Book Club selection. She was married to the writer and broadcaster Gordon Snell for 35 years, and died in 2012 at the age of 72.



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