Thursday, September 18, 2014

Straight Browsing From the Library: Blondie and the Hitman by Kathy Shaw

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Kathy will be awarding a $25 Visa GC to a randomly drawn winner via the rafflecopter at the end of this post during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.


If Dead Men Could Talk…

When a busty Blonde with amnesia barrels into Private Investigator Darla Bodecker’s life, Darla decides to help a bimbo out. She must use all her unique PI skills to discover Blondie’s true identity before the Russian Mob captures her.

Come along for the wild and crazy ride when Darla uses a big dose of humor and a little dash of romance to solve Blondie’s mystery.


There I was sitting in Pete’s Diner enjoying my second cup of morning coffee—okay, maybe it was my eighth—when out of nowhere a pair of double-D silicone boobs came into my line of vision. A second later, the blond bombshell attached to said boobies slid into the booth opposite me. Now, mind you, I’m not opposed to self-enhancements. Twenty years ago, I even considered a nip or tuck here and there myself. But shrink wrapping them in a two-size too small pink tank top screams “Look at me! Look at me!”

“Darla Bodecker?” she asked, her voice soft, sweet with a hint of panic thrown in for flavor. Which was shocking considering her looks. I was expecting something closer to the deep-throated purr of Jessica Rabbit.

Confusion must have flickered across my expressive eyes. (Everybody tells me how expressive my eyes are, so I’ve learned to embrace it.)

“Darla Bodecker, the detective?” she asked again.

The innocent voice coming from the hoochie-mama body sitting across from me was still a little disconcerting, but I was getting used to it. “Yep, that’s me. Who’s asking?”

She wet her lips nervously. “I don’t know.”

I waited for her to embellish. She didn’t. A clumsy silence hung in the air between us, like when someone rips a loud one and everyone is waiting to see how bad it’s going to stink. I pulled out a menthol light cigarette and lit it. Menthol for my breath and light because I’m trying to cut back on my tar intake. “Is this like ‘Who’s on first?’ ‘cause I’m not in the mood.”

Blondie looked down at the red Formica table top separating us. “No, as in I don’t know who I am.”

Kathy Shaw is a female version of a true Southern-bred good ol' boy. Her first love is her family, but her writing comes in a close second. She is multi-published in romance, but is currently working on a zany new mystery series.

She writes romantic comedies, humorous mysteries and playful erotica. The common thread in her writing is hands-down her humor.

She attributes a goodly amount of her success to her killer critique group. Her husband, however, credits it to her wacky--sometimes warped--sense of humor. But he's an Aggie, so what does he know?

Buy the book at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, or Kobo.
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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Straight Browsing from the Library - Sarah Ballance

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Sarah will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please click the banner to see a list of other stops on the tour.


Her past is back to haunt her—and this time, it’s got a gun.

When Gage Lawton finds his brother shot to death on his back porch, every shred of evidence points to one person: Gage’s ex-lover, Riley Beckett. The only gun in town that fires a bullet of that caliber belongs to her.

Certain the shooting is payback for his part in the loss of her parents, he abandons his promise to stay out of her life and confronts her, his rage backed up with a revolver. Yet when she steps through the door, all thoughts of revenge burn to ashes.

A year after Riley unwillingly walked away from Gage, she enters her home to find him sitting in the dark, gun pointed at her head. One look into those achingly familiar blue eyes reminds her how wrong she was to let him go. But now there’s more standing between them than their heated past.

A twist of fate—and a hail of sniper bullets—puts them in the cross hairs of a killer, leaving Riley with just two slim options: trust her greatest betrayer, or face a murderer alone.

This book has been previously published.

Warning: Prepare to get caught in a crossfire of profanity, danger, and desire. Intense violence may trigger the desire to wear body armor...and take it off. Very, very slowly.


Without taking his attention from her, Gage climbed out of the chair, cursing when he realized his foot was asleep. He tucked the .38 in the waistband of his pants and limped through the pins-and- needles sensation wreaking havoc in his left boot.

Hell of a time to feel ticklish, he thought, staring at Riley’s wild mane of dark waves sprawled over the floorboards. Not the stark contrast he’d seen over a crisp white pillowcase.

His mind played flashbacks. Memories of dragging his lips over her heaving, sweat-slicked skin threatened his plans...and his resolve.

The flood of emotions shouldn’t have surprised him. He was as stoic as a block of granite when it came to everything—and everyone—except Riley Beckett. He never could put the feeling into words, but just being around her made him feel free, like standing in the middle of the prairie with the sun, and the breeze, and the vastness...and the promise of something he didn’t dare believe.

And he didn’t. Gage knew good things didn’t happen to him. But she’d captured a piece of his soul with her laughing eyes and damning innocence.

The purest woman he’d ever known and he’d destroyed her.


Sarah and her husband of what he calls “many long, long years” live on the mid-Atlantic coast with their six young children, all of whom are perfectly adorable when they’re asleep. She never dreamed of becoming an author, but as a homeschooling mom she often jokes she writes fiction because if she wants anyone to listen to her, she has to make them up. (As it turns out, her characters aren’t much better than the kids.) When not buried under piles of laundry, she may be found adrift in the Atlantic (preferably on a boat) or in search of that ever-elusive perfect writing spot where not even the kids can find her. To learn more about her work in contemporary, historical, and supernatural romance and romantic suspense, please stalk accordingly.



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Monday, September 15, 2014

Straight Chatting from the Library - Lisa Regan

Browse through HOLD STILL by Lisa Regan at The Library as part of her virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lisa will be awarding an eCopy of Hold Still to five randomly drawn commenters during the tour and a print book of Hold Still to five randomly drawn commenters (US & Canada ONLY). A grand prize of a $50 Amazon Gift Card will be awarded to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour.

What is the favorite book you remember as a child?
As a young child my favorite book was The Monster At The End of This Book. I made my dad read it to me over and over and over. The funniest part was that even after I knew that Grover was the monster at the end of the book, it still scared the crap out of me every time it was read to me. I guess I loved suspense even then.

What is your favorite book today?
That’s way too hard to decide. I love anything by Karin Slaughter, Dennis Lehane, Chelsea Cain, Nancy S. Thompson, Michael Infinito, Carrie Butler. Those are contemporary favorites. I’ve read Slaughter’s Blindsighted several times.

Tel l us about your current book in 10 words.
Gritty female police detective hunts down sadistic group of criminals.

What are you reading right now?
I just finished Left at Oz by Sandra Carey Cody and am now reading Two-Faced by Elena Santangelo. They’re both members of the Delaware Valley chapter of Sisters in Crime which I also belong to. Both are brilliant, wonderful ladies as well as accomplished authors and I’m learning so much from reading their work. Their books are awesome.

E-Reader or print? and why?
Well I’m really almost entirely converted to my ereader now, sadly. I still have hundreds of print books and still buy print books but even when I start a print book, midway through I end up buying it on my Kindle and reading it part in print and part on the ereader. Now that the ebook is synced on all my different devices, my phone included, it just becomes more convenient to read the ebook. But I will always buy just as many print books as ebooks because if we lose electricity, I can’t charge any of my devices!

When do you do most of your reading?
At night when my daughter is in bed and my husband is engrossed in something on the Military Channel. That is when I read the most.

Favorite genre?
Crime, mystery, suspense. I have tried a few things outside that genre the last two years and I’ve been really pleasantly surprised. I will try different things but I enjoy the crime fiction genre the most.

What would make you not finish a book?
A couple of things. If the book is all action and no substance. If the characters are always running around in pursuit or being pursued but there is no time made by the author to try to connect the reader to the characters emotionally. I need to feel an emotional connection to at least one character or I won’t finish. I need there to be action in the inner lives of the characters as well as around them. I also won’t finish a book if I feel like the protagonist is really annoying. I started a book once and really wanted to like it but the main character came off as such a jerk, I couldn’t finish it. Also, if I’ve read more than 100 pages and nothing has actually happened. I know I said I don’t like too much action, and that is true, but I need something to happen at some point. If the plot doesn’t move forward, I won’t either.

Keep books or give them away?
If it is a book I really love and I know I’ll read it again and again, I’ll keep my copy (but buy more copies to gift to others) but other than that, I give them away to people I think will read and enjoy them.


Three men are viciously assaulting Philadelphia's prostitutes, and it's up to veteran detective Jocelyn Rush to stop them. She catches two, but they won't betray their partner, the most dangerous of all, and the attacks continue, striking closer to home. Jocelyn's only real clue comes when a monster from her past resurfaces--now she must race to connect the demons of her past with the villain of her present--before the sadistic attacker sets his sights on her.

“Did you Mirandize him?” Jocelyn asked.

Finch slipped the handcuff key into the locking mechanism. “What do you think?”

“I ain’t gettin’ locked up,” Martin said. “I ain’t gettin’ locked up.” Once again, his voice rose in pitch and volume.

When Finch freed the cuffs from the bedrail and reached for Martin’s other hand, the man shot upward, stumbling forward. He lashed out with one arm, knocking Finch backward, sending him flat on his ass. As he fell, Finch knocked the tray table over, remnants of the used suture kit flying everywhere. Before her brain had even completely registered what was going on, Jocelyn’s hand was reaching for her gun. She was too late. Martin lunged at her and crushed her against his chest before she could unsnap her holster. He wrapped a meaty forearm around her throat. She reached up and pulled down on it with both hands, prepared to struggle until she felt the cool blade of a knife against the flesh of her throat.

"Hold still," he breathed into her ear, the smell of alcohol burning her nostrils.

Where the hell had he gotten a knife?

She had time for one word before the forearm clenched, leaving her only enough room to breathe, nothing more. "Finch.”

Martin hollered again. She couldn't hear him because the adrenaline surging through her momentarily silenced the entire world. He kept squeezing her throat, then releasing slightly and pressing the blade against her skin. She strained her eyes, trying to see Finch in her periphery. He was getting up, slowly. His hand went to his holster, a little too slowly for her taste.


Lisa Regan is a crime fiction author. Her first novel, Finding Claire Fletcher won Best Heroine in the eFestival of Words Best of the Independent eBook Awards 2013. It was runner-up for Best Novel. It was also a Digital Book Today Best of 2013 ebook selection. In December 2013, Finding Claire Fletcher and her second novel, Aberration were #1 Amazon bestsellers in the Kidnapping and Serial Killers categories, respectively.

Lisa is a member of Sisters In Crime. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in English and Master of Education Degree from Bloomsburg University. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.

Her third novel, Hold Still is due out late March 2014!

Author Website:
Amazon Author Page:

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Straight Chatting from the Library - A. William Benitez

Browse through RELATIONSHIP by A. William Benitez at The Library as part of her virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding a $50 Amazon GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

What is the favorite book you remember as a child?
Hemingway’s Nick Adams short stories.

What is your favorite book today?
The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran because of the impact it has had on my life for many years.

Tell us about your current book in 10 words.
Notes on maintaining happy and healthy relationships from personal experience.

What are you reading right now?
I am reading several books on book marketing to help me market all the books I have published.

What books do you have on hold at the library?

Do you have any bad book habits?
No, I like books and take good care of them.

E-Reader or print? and why?
I mostly use a Kindle Reader because I like to read several books at once and it’s much easier to have them with me with an e-reader.

One book at a time or multiples?
Fiction one at a time. How-to in multiples. I always have eight or ten how to ebooks in my kindle and jump around and make notes for future reference.

Dog-ear or bookmark? (don't worry—Librarian Judith won't hold it against you—much)
When I start a print book I grab one of my business cards to use as a bookmark.

Least favorite book you've read this year?
The Goldfinch

Favorite book you've read this year?
A Long Hard Look

When do you do most of your reading?
In the evening after dinner and on Sunday afternoons.

Favorite place to read?
Our Sunroom because it looks out on our backyard and four bird feeders so I can relax and watch the birds when I tire of reading.

Favorite genre?
Fiction – Mysteries and Epics Non-Fiction – How-to

Do you loan your books?
Rarely. I would rather give them away and not worry about them being returned.

Favorite book to recommend?
The Way To Love by Anthony DeMello

How do you keep your books organized?
I have book shelves set up by genre mostly but now most of my book are on my Kindle and in my archive.

Re-reader or not?
I do re-read books that I really like. I usually wait a year of more but I will read them again if I really enjoyed it.

What would make you not finish a book?
I have finished some books that I really didn’t enjoy believing that sooner or later they would redeem themselves but it seldom happens and I wind up disappointed but I seldom quit once I have started.

Keep books or give them away?
If I really enjoyed it I will probably keep it on my book shelf but some books I give away and I do buy and give books as gifts it they are really good.


When I decided to write this book on relationship, my wife Barbara was surprised and cautioned me by saying that she would not dare write such a book because it was such a varied topic with so many nuances. That scared me because she is certainly more qualified to write about relationship than I am. I hesitated for a while but then I jumped in.

I have written about relationship before but was not satisfied with the results but now, for some unknown reason, I felt ready to tackle this huge topic and feel good about this book. I don’t see myself as an expert on relationship but I definitely have a lot to share that may be helpful to others.

The book contains ten chapters including What is Love, What is A Good Relationship, Fostering and Nurturing Relationships, Harming Relationships, Mutual Respect, Boundaries, Marriage, Breakups and Divorce, Helpful Tips, Final Thoughts, plus a Preface and an Introduction.


Mutual Respect

After several conversations about respect I realized there might be some confusion regarding its exact meaning. It seemed like a good idea to address that confusion and settle on a clear definition of respect before writing this chapter. This turned out to be a task that was much easier said than done. It seemed that mutual respect would be an “I’ll know it when I see it topic,” and that just wasn’t good enough. I thought about it for a while and decided that I needed to look back to my past and do a little research before coming up with a meaning with which I was comfortable.

My first lessons in respect came from my father who commanded respect from everyone who knew him. He strongly believed that you never allowed anyone to take advantage of you or your family. He told me that, if anyone did attempt to take advantage or put you down, the immediate response had to hurt enough to ensure they would never do it again. Few people tried to take advantage of him, and no one did it twice. That may be a form of respect, but it seemed to cross over into fear and it didn’t seem a good lesson for mutual respect in intimate relationships.

As I looked back, many situations with family, friends, acquaintances, flirtations, and partners came to mind. Some were pleasant and definitely reflected mutual respect while others not so much. It was obvious there were many times when I could have been more respectful and brought about a better outcome. Even though no one can change the past, it can be a source of valuable lessons and helped to write a definition of mutual respect to share with others.

All those experiences over the years gave me many ideas about respect and by adding a small amount of research I realized that mutual respect had various meanings. Based on all of this effort I was able to develop a definition and when this book mentions respect it is based on that specific definition. I couldn’t come up with a short definition so here is a list that defines respect for my partner and others.

Regard your partner with consideration, appreciation, and acceptance just as she is, not as you believe she should be.

Accept and value your partner’s point of view even if it differs from yours.

Honor your partner’s right to privacy by not intruding, interfering, or spying.

I spent most of my adult life self-employed after being born into the construction business. I
worked with my father and then spent more than ten years as a general contractor, building
homes and commercial buildings in Tampa, Florida.
For more than twelve years, I worked as a government official running housing related programs
for the City of Tampa and then operated a publishing and consulting business on housing
rehabilitation. During this time, I testified on this subject before the Housing Sub Committee of
the U.S. Congress.
For several years, I operated an active woodworking business in Tampa, Florida and then in
Austin, Texas. My cabinets, furniture, and carvings can be found in private homes, businesses,
churches, and public buildings in both cities.
In 1996, I began working for the Hyatt Regency in Austin, Texas and am now the IT Manager.
In 2007 I established a new writing and publishing business called Positive Imaging, LLC and
now write and publish how to books.
My first marriage ended after 17 years and I remained single for 14 years before marrying
Barbara. We have been married over twenty-three years and share a happy and healthy
relationship. We now live in Austin, Texas.
I learned a great deal from my first marriage and other relationships. However, my years with
Barbara have been my most valuable learning and growing experience and definitely the
happiest years of my life.
All the information in this book is based on my first-hand experiences, a small amount of
research, and discussions with other couples. I sincerely hope that you will find it of real value in
your own relationships. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at:

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Straight Browsing from the Library: J.M. Griffin

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will be awarding winner's choice of an eBook from Lachesis Publishing to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please click the banner to see a list of other stops on the tour.


Why not pick up your copy today?


After her favorite aunt is found dead and an alarming box is mysteriously left on the doorstep of her aunt’s house now legally hers, Lavinia Esposito wants explanations. But, having cleared the package of explosives, the local cops are dumbounded by the precious stones which came without an explanation, just an address─her Aunt Livvy’s. Frustrated by the cops’ refusal to share their theories, criminal justice instructor Lavinia Esposito, a.k.a. Vinnie, takes investigation matters into her own hands. Vinnie is soon dragged into situations beyond her control, finding herself in hot water with the law, the crooks, and her Italian father. Willing to put her life at risk to find out what really happened to her beloved Aunt Livvy, and why jewels would be addressed to her aunt, Vinnie plunges ahead with her usual tenacity, bravery, and keen wits to solve and survive this mystery.


In the living room, I paced while awaiting the arrival of the state police. Within minutes a sleek, grey Crown Victoria pulled up to the curb out front and a tall, lean trooper got out. Broad shouldered and well built, he walked with assurance and a certain amount of swagger.

I stepped into the open door entry and watched him saunter through the front gate onto the walkway. He stared at the package and then at me.

“Did you call about this box, ma’am?” Keen hazel green eyes traveled over my face and down my body.

Craggy features, sculpted from granite, faced me and I felt my blood run hot as the breath caught in my throat. What was this about? I gazed at him admiring the neat package wrapped in the trim uniform.

“I did. Bill MacNert from the fire station thought it would be a good idea since it was mysteriously left on the doorstep. He checked to see if it was ticking, but it isn’t.”

“Are you Lavinia Ciano?” The trooper’s glance strayed from the name on the wrapper to me as his eyes showed a glint of humor and his mouth twitched.

Could that humor be over the name? I wondered, as I said, “No, my name is Esposito. Livvy was my aunt.”

Our eyes held and my heart pounded. I licked my parched lips and then glanced away.

An oversized van idled up behind the patrol car and the trooper glanced back. Two men stepped from the vehicle dressed in heavy gear and acknowledged him.

He turned to the lead man, mumbled a few words and then stared at me again. If this was an action film, I would have expected Bruce Willis to jump out of the truck announcing he was about to kick someone’s ass.

This wasn’t an action film, but a real life situation instead. The two guys angled through the front gate and hitched their gear as they hauled a peculiar looking lidded barrel toward the front door. By this time, a few neighbors had taken notice of the activities. Several people straggled along the sidewalk across the street to watch.

You’d think it was a freakin’ sideshow. I smiled and waved. Nobody responded, they just continued to gawk. A little excitement for them on an otherwise dull Sunday, I guessed. The trooper stood aside and watched the crowd, but said nothing.

The overdressed bomb guys corralled the box between them. With delicate finesse they lifted and stowed it into the metal container, loaded it into the truck and drove off. I stared in disbelief. Hell, I wanted to know what was in the package. I had a right to know, didn’t I?

J. M. Griffin is a student of the human condition, wielding the written craft to stimulate the imagination much like she wields her paint brush. The pages are a blank canvas on which J.M. draws vivid characters. J.M. is the author of the popular Vinnie Esposito mystery series featuring the sexy sleuth Vinnie Esposito and the engaging Deadly Bakery mystery series featuring the sassy baker/sleuth Melina Cameron. J.M. lives in rural Rhode Island, a state she considers colorful and interesting.

Author links:


Buy Links:

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BN: ean=9781897562468

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Straight Reading from the Library: MK Harkins

Browse through UNINTENTIONAL by MK Harkins at The Library as part of her virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. One randomly chosen winner via rafflecopter will win a $50 Amazon/ gift card and one randomly chosen host will receive a $25 Amazon/ gift card.


Cade, the gorgeous song man, has every reason to steer clear of commitment and train his soulful eyes, killer dimples, and sexy voice on every beauty swaying to his band. So why is it that he finds himself truly, deeply and unintentionally, fixed on the one woman who is not so easily swept away?

The sequel to Intentional, the debut romantic novel by MK Harkins, Unintentional is the heart- racing new work that follows the tangled thread of Cade in the aftermath of his heartbreak in losing the one woman he thought was his soul mate. After taking a hiatus from his job as an engineer, as well as his role in the band as lead singer, Cade reemerges in the Seattle music scene. Enter Laurel, the tenacious and determined music agent. Laurel is determined to sign him, no matter how clearly reluctant he is. Though they try to resist one another romantically, the magnetism is as immediate as it is powerful.

Unintentional offers readers an intricate, riveting story about the fraught paces of love, while also offering strains of heartwarming humor. With rich detail, authentic characters, and plenty of blood-pumping romance, Unintentional is a moving and multilayered look at how love can slip through our fingers, only to be pulled back again at the most surprising, stirring moments.


This is the sequel to the author's debut novel and does a wonderful job of following up with Cade after Mattie leaves him to go back to Jeremy. Even though it is a sequel, I feel the book can be read as a standalone because even though it refers back to the events in the first book, it's not dependent on them.

The real weakness to me is the first person present point of view...and especially when it is used with more than one character. It took me a while to get into that way of writing.

It was interesting to watch the relationship unfold between Cade and Laurel...and I really liked her friend and the banter between them. I liked all the characters and appreciate that Ms. Harkins was trying to bring the reader into their minds.

It was a quick easy read once I got into the book-- and the dialogue between the characters make it worth while. It's fun to read. I could easily see this as a movie.

3.5 stars.
I hate my life. It sucks. It’s been thirty days since the shooting, and things just keep getting worse. I turn over in my bed and groan. I’m hung over again. My body feels like it’s been through a meat grinder then tossed into a dryer, just for fun.

First, I rub my hands over my throbbing temples, hoping to relieve some of the pressure. Next, I try to deal with my gritty, aching eyes by massaging them. Nope, not working. I let out a frustrated moan. Knowing it’s my fault, the agony my body is currently suffering, doesn’t make it any better. Actually, it makes it worse.

I remember telling Mattie four months ago, when we met at the cabin, I wasn’t good with rejection. If she could see me now, she’d know I wasn’t overstating things. I feel like shit – in every way possible.


MK Harkins is the author of the romantic novel Intentional. An avid reader, she began writing fiction when she ran out of reading selections on her Kindle.

Her new novel, Unintentional, is a sequel to her first work and is based on the life of the character Cade. A business owner, Harkins spends her free time traveling, watching movies, reading voraciously, in addition to creating her own fiction. The author currently lives in Mercer Island, Washington.

Buy Link: Amazon Kindle:
(First in the Series) - Amazon link:
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Monday, September 8, 2014

Straight Browsing from the Library: The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

Browse through THE BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN by Jeanne Mackin at The Library as part of her virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Jeanne will be awarding a photo/postcard collection from the 1920s (US/Canada only) to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the rest of the stops.


As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920's Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee's magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will their reunion give them a chance to forgive past betrayals...and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?


Lee ordered tea and a large pot soon arrived, and a plate of pastries. We sat at our lace-covered table and poured Earl Grey into china teacups. Lee took a silver flask from her purse and poured a healthy shot into her tea. I thought somehow it was all a mad dream, it couldn't be real; Man Ray would walk in at any moment, demanding attention, asking Lee where she'd been, and Jamie would be just behind Man, looking anxious. No, that was years ago. The world now, after the destruction, was made of hot water flavored with burned grain fake-coffee, and all the teacups had been broken.

Lee bit into an eclair and the cream oozed out, smearing her crimson mouth. She laughed and flicked her tongue out to the corners. "Real cream," she said with delight. "I shouldn't be eating this. Impossible to lose weight these days. Didn't I hear you were in France during the war?"

"I heard you were all over Europe, often in two or three places at the same time," I said, avoiding her question. "I saw some of your photos." An edition of British Vogue had made its way to the zinc counter of Omar's café, there in my little village in the hills of southern France. The war photos had been almost surreal in their horror. I had thought at the time, leafing through that dog-eared magazine, that our years in Paris, the experiments in surrealism, had somehow been a training ground for what was to come: the violence, the disconnection.

Man Ray, her lover, protector and promoter during those pre-war Paris years, had once made a sculpture of Lee with a single eye representing the entire body of the woman he adored. He had constructed another image in which he had slit her neck, making a crimson gash like an extra mouth. The body had been reduced to separate parts. We were none of us whole. Maybe that was how we had survived, in parts, like pages torn out of a book so that the story could not be read but only guessed at.


Jeanne Mackin is the author of several novels: The Sweet By and By (St. Martin’s Press), Dreams of Empire (Kensington Books), The Queen’s War (St. Martin’s Press), and The Frenchwoman (St. Martin’s Press). She has published short fiction and creative nonfiction in several journals and periodicals including American Letters and Commentary and SNReview. She is also the author of the Cornell Book of Herbs and Edible Flowers (Cornell University publications) and co-editor of The Norton Book of Love (W.W. Norton), and wrote art columns for newspapers as well as feature articles for several arts magazines. She was the recipient of a creative writing fellowship from the American Antiquarian Society and her journalism has won awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, in Washington, D.C. She teaches creative writing at Goddard College in Vermont, has taught or conducted workshops in Pennsylvania, Hawaii and New York and has traveled extensively in Europe. She lives with her husband, Steve Poleskie, in upstate New York.


Buy the book at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Penguin.


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