The Chocolate Shop

 

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Women’s Fiction
Date Published: June 2019
Publisher: Riverpoint Press
Laura Beckman’s comfortable suburban life would be perfect but for her daughter. Four years earlier, Brooke abandoned her husband and her own young daughter to run off with a musician. Now back home with her tail between her legs, Brooke’s self-loathing boils over in the face of her mother’s unrelenting condemnation.
Laura’s world is turned upside down after witnessing the long, painful death of her husband. In the search for a better version of herself, she creates the Chocolate Shop which grants terminally ill patients one last wish (e.g returning to the Rockette stage, having sex one last time, even skydiving). Laura then lovingly helps her clients slip away to a peaceful death. Laura must dodge the police who suspect she’s committing second-degree murder, and an ex-wife of a client consumed with collecting on an insurance policy. Her relationship with her daughter flips as Brooke becomes the one doing the condemning: “I may have made many mistakes in my life but there’s one thing I can say. I never murdered anybody.”
As Laura comes to grips with the ethical, moral, and legal dimensions of what she’s doing, she worries that her strained relationship with her daughter will never be repaired and wonders whether she can ever find love again. She meets Arlo Massey–brash, flamboyant, someone who couldn’t care less about what other people think–the complete opposite of the always appropriate Laura Beckman. Arlo disrupts Laura’s already tumultuous life. She finds him despicable.
And yet . . .
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 Excerpt
Chapter One
June


Laura wanted Mickey to die.
Tonight.
Now.
She had it all planned. They’d relax on the sofa in front of a roaring fire, watching the flames dance and crackle, snuggling together under her grandmother’s time-softened green and white patch quilt. The red wine stain on the quilt from New Years Eve when they’d made love on the same sofa had faded away and almost disappeared.
And now her husband was about to fade away and disappear.
She would take his hand, mercilessly scabbed by needles searching for a vein, and entwine her fingers through his. Their interlocked hands would act as one and empty the medicine vial of tiny white pills into the glass of Chivas, his favorite. They’d enjoy their last hour together, her head nestling into the hollow space where his neck met his shoulder. She always considered that spot her private property. She would breath in his scent, and if she remained still she’d be able to feel his heartbeat tickling her cheek.
Then a final toast. He would drink the whiskey from his favorite cocktail glass, the one with the etched Orioles logo. They’d reminisce using the shorthand developed by every husband and wife over decades of marriage.
Remember when . . .?
He’d become sleepy. She would gently rub his neck right behind his ear . . .
Then a lingering last kiss.
Goodbye my darl—
“Mother?”
Laura’s eyes sprang open. Had she dozed off? She glanced at Mickey asleep in the narrow hospital bed squeezed next to her chair. With so many twisting tubes and wires connected to his shriveled body he more resembled a monster from an old black and white horror flick than her husband.
“You were mumbling in your sleep,” Brooke said. “Something about white pills and the Orioles.” Without looking up from her phone she rotated her hips in an unsuccessful attempt
to find comfort in the battered gunmetal chair.
What was her daughter talking about?
“Maybe you should go home and get some sleep,” Gracie said. “I can stay with him for a while.”
“Sleep’s overrated.” She yawned, and her eyes caught the old Baltimore Orioles baseball pennant hanging over the hospital bed. Orioles logo . . . whiskey glass . . . white pills . . . Her dream flashed before her eyes.
“You okay?” Gracie asked.
White pills . . .  She gasped. Oh my God. She could not, she would not permit her mind to visit that awful place ever again.
Gracie pressed. “Laura?”
“Yes, yes, I’m fine.”
Her aunt responded with a skeptical expression, then hoisted a pink tote bag to her lap. Short and wiry in stature, Gracie colored her hair red and wore it below her shoulders in a wavy style more suited to a young starlet from the forties than a woman of seventy. A Kurt Vonnegut quote in green script decorated the side of her bag: “Tis better to have loved and lust, than to let our apparatus rust.” Laura shook her head and took a deep breath. The thick, stifling hospital air smelled of must, of decay. Of death.
For the millionth time she wondered why God would spare the evil people of the world—serial killers and terrorists and child molesters—while the good man lying next to her faced certain death?
Mickey moaned again. Eight months earlier he’d been diagnosed with “distant” esophageal cancer, meaning the cancer had spread away from the tumor to his lymph nodes and organs. The cancer had been hiding there for some time, undetected, slowly eating away, bite by tiny bite.
At first it had been hard to think the words—my husband’s dying— much less say them. Now, after witnessing him wither away for the past many months, the vocabulary of death came easily. Hope arrived early but departed long ago leaving her with the heartbreak of seeing the man she loved suffer the quiet torture of a lingering death.
Mickey’s treatment plan combined palliative care along with active treatment, but the pain medication never seemed to be enough. When she begged for more, the doctors furrowed their brows and explained how they were limited by dosage protocols. What BS. She’d considered transferring Mickey out of Annapolis General to a hospice facility, but Delaware offered the closest available bed, and in-home hospice care couldn’t provide the constant attention he required.
For the last few weeks Mickey had been begging her to end his life. She, of
course, wouldn’t hear of such a thing. Lately, however, the dreams had come. The Chivas Regal and the white pills in the Orioles glass. She loved him so much, and it broke her heart to see him suffer. But she wouldn’t do it. Laura Beckman followed the rules, and the rules were pretty clear that a wife should not murder her husband.
             Brooke pulled a hip flask from her back pocket.
            Laura lowered her voice to a harsh whisper. “What do you think you’re doing? This is a hospital, and your father’s lying here barely alive.”
Brooke ignored her, took a drink, then passed the flask to Gracie. After raising it
toward Mickey in a silent toast, Gracie helped herself to a healthy swallow.
Laura closed her eyes and tried to control her emotions. She didn’t need this stress, not now. She heard a gurgle from the bed. Mickey’s eyes fluttered. She stood quickly. “I’m right here.”
He tried to talk, but with the breathing tube obstructing his airway the sound blurred to a ragged rasp. Mickey attempted a weak smile, then his eyes found Laura. He lifted a corner of the blanket and made dabbing motions in the air.
“What’s he doing?” Brooke asked.
Laura smiled to herself, and her mind drifted back almost thirty years . . .
At the beginning of the second semester, Laura, like almost all of the students at Bollen except for maybe the nerdy engineering majors, tried to schedule her classes so Friday afternoons were clear. An early December snow dump left no uncertainty about how that afternoon would be spent. She, her best friend, Megan, and three other girls strapped their skis and snowboards on top of Megan’s old blue Ford Explorer, and they drove north to Massanutten for a few hours of night skiing.
            On the first run down Rebel Yell Laura caught an edge and twisted her ankle. Despite Laura’s strong opposition, Megan decided to remain with her at the lodge bar while the others skied. The crowded bar made maneuvering between tables difficult. Laura had taped an ice bag around her ankle and propped it up on a chair while she and Megan enjoyed their hot-buttered rums.
            A good-looking guy with thick, curly black hair and soft brown eyes attempted to squeeze by. Someone bumped him from behind, and he spilled beer down the front of Laura’s sweater.
             “Sorry.” He grabbed a handful of napkins from the dispenser and attempted to blot the beer from her sweater. A moment later, he realized he was dabbing her breasts and froze. “Sorry. I’ll be happy to pay for the cleaning.” Their eyes locked, and the attraction was instant. “How about you let me buy you ladies another round?”
            Laura smiled. “Only if you promise to keep your hands to yourself.”
He offered a goofy grin, and held up his pinky finger. “Pinky swear.” After letting him twist in the wind for a few moments, she laughed and hooked her pinky finger into his. At that very moment he was bumped again, and this time spilled beer down the front of his ski jacket. Laura pulled more napkins from the dispenser and dabbed the beer from his jacket.
            Megan laughed. “You two are the Dabbers.”
            Laura rode back to college with him, and they became inseparable. From then
on, throughout their dating and married life, before going to sleep each night they’d hook pinkies and say, “Love you, Dabber.” One of those private little moments in a marriage that only has meaning to the husband and wife, something anyone else would consider plain silly . . .
          
Laura reached over and stroked her husband’s hand. Almost all of the flesh had been replaced by scabs from the IVs. She hooked pinkies with him, then peered deeply into his eyes, and whispered so only he could hear. “Love you, Dabber.” He nodded and slipped back into a restless sleep.
            Brooke headed for the door. “I need a cigarette.”
“Great idea, your lungs will love it.”
           Brooke ignored her and walked out.
Laura sighed and settled back down. Truth be told, she felt relieved without Brooke in the room. Her daughter created tension, and that was the last thing Laura needed now. Her life had been defined by stress since Mickey’s diagnosis. Seemed like years ago, not months. Second opinions and third opinions and tests and treatments and, in the end, the inevitability. She lightly rubbed her husband’s arm and wondered where all the time had gone. They’d married young, both still in college, and their life together had been good. Not great she supposed, but good. More than good. The few bumps along the way had mostly been caused by their rebellious eldest daughter.
“If I say up, she says down. If I say, black, she says, white,” Laura mumbled. “Why does Brooke have to be so damn headstrong?”
“Sounds like her mother,” Gracie said. Before Laura could respond, Gracie stood and announced, “I’m going for a walk around down the hall, check out the scenery. There’s nothing more sexy than a man in white coat with a stethoscope around his neck. You take the ugliest man in the world and put him in a white coat, and I’m telling you—”
“Go. And don’t be surprised if those men in white coats take you away in a tight white jacket.”
 In a moment she was out the door.
            Mickey’s eyes opened again and found Laura. He made a writing motion with his hand. Laura grabbed the note pad and pen from the table and set the pad in front of him. She flipped through the pages where he’d already written until she found a clean page. She placed the cheap Bic pen in his right hand and wrapped his fingers around it. The ridges made it easier for him to grip with the IV stuck into the back of his hand. He wrote the word, “please,” in half cursive, half print. The handwriting of a young child.
Mickey locked eyes with his wife, then jerked his head toward the wall next to the bed. Laura’s eyes followed his gesture to the control panel for the ventilator equipment barely keeping him alive.
Laura studied the panel as she’d done countless times. Several switches, including the one controlling power to the machines. The Magic Switch. One flick of that . . .
“You know I can’t, sweetie.” She stroked his head. The baldness still felt strange. Over the past weeks and months she’d watched his hair fall out and his skin change from a healthy tan to a pale, almost translucent parchment.
Mickey’s hand struggled to form an image on the paper pad, a crude heart that more resembled a lima bean.
“It’s lovely, Honey.”
The thick plastic tubes turned his attempted smile into a snarl. He convulsed and emitted a ragged cry that ripped across Laura’s heart. Mickey’s eyes pleaded with her. He flipped the tablet back and forth in frustration. Laura didn’t need to be reminded what had been written all over the previous pages—the single word, “please.”
Desperate, Laura’s gaze returned to the ventilator’s control panel and noticed the
manufacturer’s identification plate. RxTron, Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Eden Prairie.
Sounded so peaceful. Flip the Magic Switch, and you’ll float away to Eden.
Mickey’s beseeching eyes locked with hers.
She gasped and bit her lip to stem the tears.
She couldn’t do it.
About the author:

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J. J. Spring is a pseudonym for a successful author who writes in another genre. J. J. lives in Florida with a spouse and a rambunctious poodle named Handsome Jack.
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Returned and Reborn

 

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A Tale of a Korean Orphan Boy
Historical Fiction
Publisher:
Austin Macauley Publishers
Published: March 2019
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More than 200,000 South Korean infants and toddlers left their motherlands in the arms of strangers from the postwar era. “Returned and Reborn: a Tale of A Korean Orphan Boy” is the first novel about such an orphan–a boy fathered by a missionary priest who established the first Catholic Adult Institute in South Korea. This fiction is based on a true story, mixed with Korea’s modern history–Vietnam War in which 300,000 South Korean troops fought (5001 were killed); the unintentional harm the American military caused to the Korean people by disposing millions of gallons of toxic chemicals called “Agent Orange” in the Korean water ways and soil; and the Korean society’s contempt against children of mixed blood, children born of unwed mothers, and those born with birth defects. It’s the story of a young man’s journey of self discovery from an aimless American with no knowledge of himself or his roots who returns to his birth country, reunite with his Korean birth mother dying from cancer caused by consuming toxic water over time, but unexpected accident separate them permanently. Yet, through her and his deceased father’s former co-workers, he learns of his father’s greatness as well as his weakness, as an
ambitious American Jesuit who fulfilled his big dreams but caused his birth and troublesome journey as an orphan forced to leave his mother who couldn’t raise him. Still, in a mysterious way, he finds his own path–the path to a mission trip to North Korea.
About the Author

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Therese Park came to the United States to be a cellist with the Kansas City Philharmonic (now the Kansas City Symphony) in 1966. After 30 years, she retired and began writing. Her first novel A Gift of the Emperor (published in 1997) is about a Korean schoolgirl forced into military prostitution by the Japanese government during World War II. With this book, Park was one of the featured authors at three national bookfairs in 1998: The Los Angeles Bookfair, The Miami Bookfair, The Heartland Bookfair. A Gift of the Emperor was selected in
the reference volumes Reading Groups Choices for 1998 and she was mentioned in Contemporary Authors 2001.  Her second novel: “When a Rooster Crows at Night” is based on her own experience of the Korean War she lived  through as a child.
Her third “The Northern Wind: a Forced Journey to North Korea” deals with intense inner war between the two Koreas divided by two extremeideologies–Communism and Capitalism after WWII. 
Herrecently published “Returned and Reborn: a Tale of a Korean Orphan
Boy” published by Austin Macauley Publishers, LLC. in New York, NY.
Park has written more than 400 essays and articles that have been published in The
Kansas City Star, The Sun Publication, The Graybeard, the National Korean War
Veterans Magazine, The Best Times, and Our Family (Canada), The Beat Magazine
and Korea Bridge (South Korea) and more.
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Dogs Still Know Best

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Two
Angels Guide Their Human Through Grief, Learning & Love
Non-Fiction,
Pets, Dogs, Grief, Spiritual Growth
Publisher:
Annibury Publishing
Published:
April 2019
“Truly heartwarming and inspirational! Dogs Still Know Best is a story of love, loss, the long road to healing, and the anti-fragility of the human spirit” ~
Jedediah McClure, Best Selling Author, Myths of Christianity: A Five Thousand Year Journey To Find The Son Of God
A must-read for dog lovers and anyone who has loved – and lost – a beloved dog! In this touching sequel to Dogs Know Best: Two Dogs’ Training Guide For Humans,  follow one woman’s very personal account of how two German Shorthaired Pointers sparked her spiritual journey, one that allowed her to open her heart, open her mind and in the process, receive amazing gifts, the biggest one of all being
her new love, a sweet little Pointer puppy named Minnie. Along the way, there has been a lot of grief, a lot of learning and an infinite amount of love.
The result is a dramatic shift in perspective about life, grief and embracing a new
way of thinking. And with all three of her beloved Pointers by her side, every step of the journey is filled with love and support. In fact, there’s a whole cheering section along for the ride!
On the other side, love is everything.
A Readers’ Favorite 5-Star review recipient.
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About the Author

 photo Dogs Still Know Best Author Angie Salisbury_zpsrvsfoliw.jpgAngie Salisbury is an author, business writer, editor, speaker, and obsessive dog mom from northeast Ohio. There she shares her life with her German Shorthaired Pointer, Minnie, and husband, Tom. She is an avid reader (no shock there) and loves being outdoors. Angie and Minnie spend countless hours playing ball and doing various scent work activities. Angie is a certified Reiki practitioner, life coach and member of the Dog Writers Association of America.

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Sleeping Beauty

 

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Science Fiction Romance, Ménage Romance, Romantic Suspense 
PublisherEvernight Publishing
Date Published: May 19, 2019
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Ronan Hark and Noah Kabot are deep space salvagers, partners in business as well as in life. While investigating an old ship, they discover a cryo chamber holding the frozen body of a beautiful woman who’s been asleep for thirty-one years. Against Ronan’s better judgment, they take the chamber and wake her up.
Alivia has spent her life living as a sheltered yet unloved princess, until the day she is forced into cryo stasis. It was only supposed to be for a short time, but somehow her ship crashed and she became nothing more than a memory.
But now everything has changed. A hunter is after her and killing anyone who knows
she’s alive. As they race across the expanse of space, can Ronan and Noah keep her safe? And what happens when she finally returns home to confront a life that forgot about her?

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About the Author

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I like writing about the very ordinary girl thrust into extraordinary
circumstances, so my heroines will probably never be lawyers, doctors or corporate highrollers.  I try to write characters who aren’t cookie cutters and push myself to write complicated situations that I have no idea how to resolve, forcing me to think outside the box.  I love writing characters who are real, complex and full of flaws, heroes and heroines who find redemption through love.
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Writer Get Noticed!

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Non-fiction
Publisher: Midchannel Press
Date Published: March 20, 2019
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Stop feeling invisible and start attracting the attention you deserve.
Have you been writing for years, but feel like no one notices? Have you published your stories, only to gain a handful of readers? Do your marketing efforts feel like shouting into a void?
Veteran writer and motivational coach Colleen M. Story helps you break the spell of invisibility to reveal the author platform that will finally draw readers your way.
There are more books out there than ever before, and readers have many other things vying for their attention. A writer can feel like a needle in a haystack, and throwing money at the problem rarely helps. What does work is creating a platform that stands out, but in a sea of a million platforms, how is one to do that?
Writer Get Noticed! takes a new approach, dispelling the notion that fixing your writing flaws and expanding your social media reach will get you the readers you deserve. Instead, discover a myriad of strengths you didn’t know you had, then use them to find your author theme, power up your platform, and create a new author business blueprint, all while gaining insight into what sets you apart as a writer and creative artist.
Writers need readers to achieve their highest potential. Find your way to stand out,
and let it lead you to the writing career that fulfills all your expectations and more.
In this motivational and inspiring book, you’ll learn:
  • Why improving your writing skills isn’t enough.
  • Why it’s critical you discover your strengths…and how to do so.
  • What’s stopping you from finding the readers who love your work.
  • What you really want from writing and why that matters.
  • Easy methods to help you build a more successful author platform.
  • What truly motivates you and how to use that to succeed.
  • The author theme that unites your creative work and fits your style.
  • How imposter syndrome can stall your progress, and how to overcome it.
  • How to make better decisions about your writing career as a whole.
When you find the treasure that’s been inside you all along, don’t be surprised if
it opens new doors you never thought possible.
About the Author

 photo Colleen M Story Full Size_zpsxoozfg1l.jpgColleen M. Story is on a mission to inspire people from all walks of life to overcome modern-day challenges and find creative fulfillment. Her latest release, “Writer Get Noticed!,” is a strengths-based guide to help writers break the spell of invisibility and discover unique author platforms that will draw readers their way. Her prior nonfiction release, “Overwhelmed Writer Rescue,” was named Solo Medalist in the New Apple Book Awards, Book by Book Publicity’s Best Writing/Publishing Book, and first place in the 2018 Reader Views Literary Awards.

With over 20 years as a professional in the creative industry, Colleen has authored
thousands of articles for publications like “Healthline” and “Women’s Health;”
worked with high-profile clients like Gerber Baby Products and Kellogg’s; and
ghostwritten books on back pain, nutrition, and cancer recovery. Her literary
novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” was a Foreword Reviews’ INDIES Book of the Year Awards
winner, an Idaho Author Awards first place winner, and New Apple Solo Medalist
winner, among others.
Colleen frequently serves as a workshop leader and motivational speaker, where she
helps attendees remove mental and emotional blocks and tap into their unique
creative powers. Find more at her motivational site, Writing and Wellness, on
her writing career website, Writer CEO, and on her author website, or follow
her on Twitter.
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Bittersweet Alliance

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Donahue
Cousins Series, Book 3
Romantic
Suspense
Publisher:
Tirgearr Publishing
Date
Published:
06/26/2019
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Will a snap decision change their lives forever?
Bizarre kidnappings stun the Big Island of Hawaii, pulling Danker Donahue back into the
game and forcing him to partner with Jolene Kualoha, the woman who left him seven years ago when his DNA showed up in paternity lawsuit. The
prejudice-motivated hate crimes are the wildest anyone has ever seen. Victims are being poisoned then released once the ransoms are paid, many losing their lives.
In the shadow of Jolene’s success as a helicopter pilot, a troubled woman develops
a fixation on Jolene and imitates her appearance. Matters turn dark when the
copycat is shot dead. Was Jolene the target? Threats mount when she barely
survives an accident after her brake cables are severed.
When these crimes threaten her sanity, Jolene is forced to trust the one person she
thought she’d lost forever, Danker. Instantly, sparks fly between them, and as
much as she wants to rekindle their relationship, she must protect her heart.
An old enemy, Seamus McGinn, breaks out of a maximum-security prison and invites
Danker to a meet-up. Surprisingly, the kidnapper joins forces with McGinn along
with his sick fans. McGinn trumpets his ‘murders by ice pick’, and it’s up to
Danker to stop him. The whole island is on edge with a live feed from the
maniac’s website.
In a stolen moment, Jolene shows him hope, and he makes a snap decision that will
change their lives forever. Will he make it back to show her?
About the Author

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Book Buyers Best finalist Kathleen Rowland is devoted to giving her readers fast-paced, high-stakes suspense with an erotic love story sure to melt their hearts.  Her latest release is
Bittersweet Alliance.
Kathleen also has a steamy romantic suspense series with Tirgearr Publishing, Deadly
Alliance is followed by Unholy Alliance. Keep an icy drink handy while reading
these sizzling stories.
Kathleen used to write computer programs but now writes novels.   She grew up in Iowa where she caught lightning bugs, ran barefoot, and raced her sailboat on Lake Okoboji.  Now she wears flip-flops and sails with her husband, Gerry, on Newport Harbor but wishes there were lightning bugs in California.
Kathleen exists happily with her witty CPA husband, Gerry, in their 70’s poolside
retreat in Southern California where she adores time spent with visiting grandchildren, dogs, one bunny, and noisy neighbors. While proud of their five children who’ve flown the coop, she appreciates the luxury of time to write.
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Eternal Wanderings

 

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Urban Fantasy / Celtic Fantasy
Date
Published:
April 1, 2019
Publisher:
eSpec Books (Paper Phoenix Press imprint)
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Mortal. Immortal. Musician. Mage. 
On a journey from the boroughs of New York to the heart of Tir na nÓg, from innocence to the deepest darkest crevices of her soul, Kara O’Keefe found power and strength in the discovery of self. But with that peace came a hard truth. As a bridge connecting many worlds, none of them held a place for her.
She must find her own way, forge her own path.
To honor a vow to Granddame Rose, a matriarch of the Kalderaš Clan, Kara joins the
Romani caravan, only to find herself even more of an outsider than before.
While she strives for acceptance, and to honor her vow, little does she know
she has once more become a lure to an ancient and deadly enemy, drawing danger
into the midst of her unsuspecting hosts.
Once savior of the world, Kara must now save herself and the innocents around her.
She has come into her legacy, but where will destiny take her?
****
Based on the Eternal Cycle Series of Novels:
Yesterday’s Dreams
Tomorrow’s Memories
Today’s Promise
****
Includes six bonus short stories.

Review

Overall engaging and entrancing, it moves forward at a steady clip – even though there are times when the narrative runs ragged with detail and imagery.
There’s lots of excitement and the characters are all so uniquely awesome in their own ways.
Main Thoughts: This is a fabulous book. I could not put it down. This is not your simple fantasy story, it really delves deeper.
 
About the Author

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Award-winning author and editor Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for longer than she cares to admit. In 2014 she joined forces with husband Mike McPhail and friend Greg Schauer to form her own publishing house, eSpec Books (www.especbooks.com).
Her published works include six novels, Yesterday’s Dreams, Tomorrow’s Memories, Today’s Promise, The Halfling’s Court, The Redcaps’ Queen, and Baba Ali and the Clockwork Djinn, written with Day Al-Mohamed. She is also the author of the
solo collections Eternal Wanderings, A Legacy of Stars, Consigned to the Sea, Flash in the Can, Transcendence, Between Darkness and Light, and Eternal Wanderings, the non-fiction writers’ guide, The Literary Handyman, and is the
senior editor of the Bad-Ass Faeries anthology series, Gaslight & Grimm, Side of Good/Side of Evil, After Punk, and In an Iron Cage. Her short stories are included in numerous other anthologies and collections.
In addition to her literary acclaim, she crafts and sells original costume horns
under the moniker The Hornie Lady, and homemade flavor-infused candied ginger
under the brand of Ginger KICK! at literary conventions, on commission, and
wholesale.
Danielle lives in New Jersey with husband and fellow writer, Mike McPhail and three
extremely spoiled cats.
To learn more about her work, visit http://www.sidhenadaire.com or http://www.especbooks.
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