Monday, October 31, 2011

LoaW's Month in Review - October 2011

For today (the last day of October), I'm introducing a new post that I would like to do at the end of each month. I got the idea from Crystal over at Just Another Book Lovin' Girl, so many thanks to her at letting me join in! :-)

Before we dive into today's post, just wanted to let you know that I posted a review of Jamie Carie's recent release, Pirate of My Heart over on my review archives blog. Check it out HERE to read my thoughts! :-)

~ Legacy of a Writer's Month in Review - October ~

Books I Read:
Reclaiming Lily - Patti Lacy
Deliver Me From Evil - Kathi Macias
Died in the Wool - Ludwig & Mowery
Deep Trouble - Mary Connealy
A Dime A Dozen - Mindy StarnsClark
A Necessary Deception - Laurie Alice Eakes
Lost in Dreams - Roger Bruner
The Bone House - Stephen Lawhead
A Quarter a Kiss - Mindy Starns Clark
The Wonder of Your Love - Beth Wiseman
Love on the Line - Deeanne Gist
Cascade - Lisa Tawn Bergren (Reread!)

Author Interviews Done:
Ronie Kendig - Wolfsbane
Julie Lessman - A Heart Revealed
K. Dawn Byrd - This Time for Keeps
Noelle Marchand - Unlawfully Wedded Bride (You can still enter to win giveaway!)

Reviews I Posted:
Deeply Devoted - Maggie Brendan
Reclaiming Lily - Patti Lacy
The Measure of Katie Calloway - Serena Miller
Deliver Me From Evil - Kathi Macias
Highland Sanctuary - Jennifer Hudson Taylor
A Dime a Dozen - Mindy Starns Clark
A Necessary Deception - Laurie Alice Eakes
Lost in Dreams - Roger Bruner
The Bone House - Stephen Lawhead
A Quarter for a Kiss - Mindy Starns Clark
The Wonder of Your Love - Beth Wiseman
Love on the Line - Deeanne Gist
Pirate of My Heart - Jamie Carie

Blog Tours I Participated in:
Revell - Deeply Devoted
Litfuse - Reclaiming Lily
Revell - The Measure of Katie Calloway
Pump Up Your Book - Deliver Me From Evil
FIRST Wild Card - A Dime a Dozen
Revell - A Necessary Deception
Teen Novel Team - Lost in Dreams
FIRST Wild Card - At the Throne of Grace
CSFF, Part 1 - The Bone House
CSFF, Part 2 - The Bone House
FIRST Wild Card - A Quarter for a Kiss
CSFF, Part 3 - The Bone House
Litfuse - The Wonder of Your Love
Litfuse - Love on the Line


Favorite Book of the Month:
Deliver Me From Evil by Kathi Macias
(Cascade would be my top favorite, but I decided it really didn't count since it was a reread! ;-)

 











Well, there you have it. That's what took place for me (book-wise) this past month. How about you? What books did you read this month?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Litfuse Blog Tour - Love on the Line

About the Author: Deeanne Gist--known to her family, friends, and fans as Dee--has rocketed up the bestseller lists and captured readers everywhere with her very original, very fun historical & contemporary romances. Add to this three RITA nominations, two consecutive Christy Awards, rave reviews, and a growing loyal fan base, and you've got one recipe for success.

She has a very active online community on her website at IWantHerBook.com and at Facebook.com/Deesfriends.

About the Book: Rural switchboard operator Georgie Gail is proud of her independence in a man's world . . . which makes it twice as vexing when the telephone company sends a man to look over her shoulder. Dashing Luke Palmer is more than he appears though. He's a Texas Ranger working undercover to infiltrate a notorious gang of train robbers. Repairing telephones and tangling with this tempestuous woman is the last thing he wants to do. But when his stakeout puts Georgie in peril, he realizes more than his job is on the line.

My Review - 4 Stars: I’ve only read one other book by Deeanne Gist before, and since so many of my blogger friends love her and her work, I decided to give her another try. And I am glad I did. While there still was a fair amount of sensual tension and interaction between the main characters, Love on the Line was a fun and some-what suspenseful read. 

The heroine, Georgie Gail, was one interesting little lady. I couldn’t get over how obsessed she was with birds. I mean, I totally get her fight to stop using bird parts for decorating hats (ew!), but I think Georgie went over the top. A lot. After a while, I was heartily sick of reading about her silly defense of birds. Luke Palmer made for a great hero, though. I never thought a person could look that handsome/attractive in overalls, but I’m betting if I saw Luke Palmer in them, I’d change my mind! (wink) The whole angle with being an undercover Texas Ranger was really cool. He sounded like one awesome dude!

Deeanne Gist has a gift when it comes to writing! Through her powerful words, the town of Brenham, Texas sprung to life from the pages of this book. I didn’t noticed her beautiful and expressive writing in the first book I read, but it shined in Love on the Line.

As I mentioned, the sensual elements of the book were still pretty blatant, especially when it was so early on in there acquaintance. Maybe I felt this way because I like to see a bond of friendship form before they display physical affection. But if you like scenes that will spike your temperature, then I know you won’t mind the heated scenes between Georgie and Luke! 

The capture of the Comer gang at the end was a bit disappointing for me, as I had expected more of a high-strung, suspenseful conclusion. But, as a whole, it didn’t ruin the book for me. The book was a pretty relaxed read, for me, but Deeanne’s talent for writing had me flying through the pages effortlessly. Edgy romance lovers everywhere are sure to love this new sizzler that will leave your heart pumping!

I reviewed this book for Bethany House n via Litfuse. It was not required that I give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.



Deeanne is thrilled to introduce Georgie and Luke to the word in her latest novel, Love on the Line. To celebrate Deeanne's publisher, Bethany House, is hosting the Love on the Line iPad2 giveaway an Author Chat on Facebook! Enter today and follow the link below to RSVP for Deeanne's rip-roarin' Facebook Party!




One fortunate winner will receive: 

  • A Brand New iPad2 
  • An Autographed Hardback Copy of Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist 

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 7th. Winner will be announced at Deeanne's Author Chat Facebook Party. Deeanne will be wrapping up the Love on the Line celebration by chatting with friends new and old! So grab your copy of Love on the Line (it's okay if you don't have one yet- you might could win one!) and join Deeanne on the evening of November 8th for a rip roaring book chat, a little trivia and lots of giveaways (books, and Amazon, iTunes & Starbucks gift certificates)!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Don't miss a moment of the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends. Hope to see you on the 8th!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Litfuse Blog Tour - The Wonder of Your Love


About the Author: Beth Wiseman is hailed as a top voice in Amish fiction. She is a Carol-award winner and author of numerous bestsellers including the Daughters of the Promise series and the Land of Canaan series. She and her family live in Texas. Connect with her on Twitter @bethwisemanFacebook, her website, www.bethwiseman.com, and on Amish Living.


“Writing about the Amish lifestyle within fictional love stories has been a wonderful experience,” Beth says.  “The Amish and Mennonite contacts I have established in Pennsylvania and Colorado help me to keep the books authentic. An often misunderstood sect of people, it has been a privilege to learn about their ways.”

About the Book: Katie Ann Stolzfus lives in the small Amish community of Canaan, Colorado. At forty she is widowed and raising her first child. But baby Jonas will never know his father, and Katie Ann wonders if her Heavenly Father hasn't forgotten about her as well. Is it really God's plan for her to be a single parent? Eli Detweiler has come to Canaan for a wedding and a long vacation. Having raised six children following the death of his young wife, Eli is finally an empty-nester. He's enjoying the slower pace of having no one to care for but himself.

When Katie Ann and Eli meet, there is an instant connection. Yet as strong as the attraction is, they both acknowledge that a romance would never work. He is done parenting, while she has just begun. But as their friendship slowly blossoms into feelings that are as frightening as they are intoxicating, Katie Ann and Eli question if the plans they made for themselves are in line with God's plans. Can Katie Ann entrust her heart to another man, and rediscover the wonder of God's love?

My Review - 4 Stars: I’m not a very big Amish fiction fan. Not really sure why, but the genre just never appealed to me. Until Beth Wiseman came along with the first book in her new series, Seek Me With All Your Heart, which I read and loved. This next book in the series, The Wonder of Your Love, is a delightful addition to the series that I enjoyed reading.
It was so much fun returning to these characters. I was kinda disappointed not to read more about David and Emily (the main characters in the previous book). This time, the story centered around Katie Ann, a new mother and widow, and Eli, a relative of Emily’s family. Both these characters were fun to get to know and, of course, Martha was a hoot! She had a more prominent part in this story, and was her old, stubborn self. The way her story ends, with the entrance of Danelle, makes me wonder what will take place with these two in the next book.

The romance between Katie Ann and Eli was different than most books, in that a great portion of it took place long distance—she in Canaan and he back in his hometown. I enjoyed the love story between them, but had a little problem with all the kissing. I could understand the first “accidental” kiss, but if Eli was determined to keep it just friends…I kept wondering why he was kissing Katie Ann so often and passionately. But besides that one point, their romance was very sweet and well developed. 

While Seek Me With All Your Heart still remains my favorite Amish book, The Wonder of Your Love was a delightful continuation to this series and one I really enjoyed reading. Fans of Beth Wiseman will love this beautiful and heart-touching Amish love story. 

I reviewed this book for Thomas Nelson via Litfuse. It was not required that I give a positive review, but solely to express my own thoughts and opinions of this book, which I have done.


The Wonder of Your Love Facebook Party on 11/1!

Beth is celebrating the release of Book 2 in the Land of Canaan series with a Fabulous Facebook party on November 1st. She'll be giving away one of her OWN paintings, several mini prize packs and a sneak peak at the next book in this heartwarming series.

CLICK the button (below) to RSVP for the party - then join us on November 1st for a book chat, Amish themed trivia contest, and more!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

CSFF Blog Tour - The Bone House - Part 3

Okay, the last day of the CSFF blog tour for The Bone House. If you missed them, you can go back and check out the first part (my review) and the second part (talk on ley lines). This whole tour has been a lot of fun to put on, and while I apologize for the many posts in a day, I hope you are able to read it in your spare time. If you at all enjoy fantasy or sci-fi books, then Stephen Lawhead's books are right up your alley!

~~

So for today, I thought it'd be fun to post a short excerpt taken from The Bone House and share the trailer with y'all. I don't know about you, but I always like to read an excerpt before getting a book, just to get the feel of the story and the way the author writes. So, that's what I thought to do today. This excerpt below was taken from within the book, but I'm not telling you where or any backstory. If you really want to find out....get the book!! ;-)

  "I didn't know I was so hungry," Kit remarked. Giles nodded in full-mouthed agreement.
  "We'll have a nice dinner after we've closed the shop -- if you two can hold on that long." Wilhelmina set down the tray and took up a pot. She was pouring the first cups when she glanced towards the shop's front door at some customers just entering. "It looks like closing time will have to wait a little while. I'll seat these last customers and put up the shutters."
  "Don't mind us," said Kit, taking up his coffee. "We're happy as clams in clover," he said expansively, sipping the rich dark bitter liquid. "Well, Giles, old buddy, it looks like we landed on our feet this time. Who'd have thought it, eh?"
  As the newcomers passed behind Kit, he saw Giles' eyes flick their way. THe young man;'s features froze in an odd expression -- something halfway between disbelief and horror.
  "What?" asked Kit.
  "What is she doing here?" hissed Giles.
  "She?" wondered Kit, swivelling in his chair.
  "Don't turn around!"
  He sensed a presence behind him, and then the last voice he expected to hear spoke his name: "Kit? Giles? Upon my soul -- it is you!"
  And then she was at their table, standing over them.
  Kit looked up ibnto the face he thought never to see again -- as lovely as ever, but now contorted in anguish and fear.
  "Hello, Haven," said Kit, voice husky, his skin tingling with instant revulsion. "Fancy meeting you here."
  "You must leave at once!" she urged. Eyes wide, she stole a swift glance towards the shop entrance where another party of customers was just entering. "Quick!" Her manner became frantic. She clutched at Kit's arm as if to pull him bodily from his chair. "Flee! You must not let him see you. He thinks you dead."
  "Who?"
  Across the table, Giles, watching the entrance, let out a low growl of contempt as he spat out the name. "Burleigh!"

Yeah, the tension, suspense, and action pick up from there, as you may imagine. There's no rest for these heroic characters as they try to recover the skin map and stay ahead of the evil Burleigh and his men. Below is the trailer for The Skin Map. I looked around for a trailer for The Bone House, but this was the only one I could find. And it's still a great trailer for the series, and gives you a little background into The Skin Map. Enjoy! I thought the trailer was amazingly made. Loved it!

~~

And that concludes the tour. Hope you enjoyed it and, if The Bone House sparked an interest in you, I hope you are able to get your hands on it sometime soon. It really is a neat read. Also, feel free to check out the other blog-tour participates posts today. Below is the full list of bloggers. Have fun! 

The complete list of bloggers for The Bone House blog tour 


FIRST Blog Tour - A Quarter for a Kiss

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:

Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2011)
Special thanks to Karri James | Marketing Assistant, Harvest House Publishers for sending me a review copy.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Mindy Starns Clark is the author of many books (more than 450,000 copies sold), which include A Pocket Guide to Amish Life, Shadows of Lancaster County, Whispers of the Bayou, and The Amish Midwife. In addition, Mindy is a popular inspirational speaker and playwright.


Visit the author's website.

SHORT BOOK DESCRIPTION:

With a touch of romance and a strong heroine, A Quarter for a Kiss offers more of the fast-paced and suspenseful inspirational writing found in A Penny for Your Thoughts, Don’t Take Any Wooden Nickels, and A Dime a Dozen. In this fourth book of the Million Dollar Mysteries, Mindy Starns Clark weaves another tale of mystery and God’s touch on the lives of those who seek Him.

As a young widow, Callie Webber finds strength in her faith in God and joy in her growing romance with her employer, Tom Bennett. When their friend and mentor, Eli Gold, is shot, the search for answers as to who and why leads Tom and Callie to the beautiful Virgin Islands. There they face a sinister enemy among the ruins of an old sugar plantation—an enemy who’s willing to do anything to keep his identity secret and the past deeply buried.





Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Harvest House Publishers; Reprint edition (October 1, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0736929592
ISBN-13: 978-0736929592

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:

“Come on, Callie,” Tom urged. “You can do it. You know how.”

Ignoring the burning in my calves, I kept my gaze on Tom, who had reached the top of the wall almost effortlessly and now waited there for me to join him.

“There’s a grip at two o’clock, up from your right hand about six inches,” he guided, speaking in the low, soothing tones I teasingly called his “rock climbing” voice. Glad for that voice now, I released my handhold and reached upward, my fingers easily finding and grasping the tiny ledge. “Now your foot,” he said. “Slow and easy. You’re almost there.”

As I went I concentrated on all I had learned about rock climbing in the last few weeks. It was Tom’s passion, and we had spent a number of hours practicing on a real rock face while he taught me the basic tricks and techniques. Now we were in an indoor gym, on a simulated rock wall, climbing much higher than we had ever gone in our practice runs. And though I was wearing a safety harness that was roped to the ceiling, that didn’t make it any easier or any less scary—particularly where the wall actually bent outward, pitching me at a difficult angle.

“You are one step away, Cal,” he said, excitement evident in his voice. “Most of the people won’t make it half this far.”

With a final burst of daring, I slid my toes against the next hold and straightened my knees, rising high enough to touch the ceiling at the top of the wall.

“You did it!” Tom cried, and only then did I allow myself to smile and then to laugh.

“I did do it!” I echoed, slapping a high five with Tom and feeling the rush of pleasure and relief he said he experienced every time he finished a challenging climb. Of course, to him “challenging” meant the Red Rocks of Nevada or Half Dome in Yosemite. For me, a big wall in a rock-climbing gym was a pretty good start.

We repelled down together, my legs still feeling shaky once I was on solid ground.

“That was great,” the teenage staffer said as he helped unhook me from the harness. “And to think you were worried. Are you sure you haven’t done this before?”

“Not that high and not indoors,” I said.

“Well, you’re a natural.”

“I had a good teacher,” I replied, glancing at Tom, who was busy removing his own harness. He and I had spent the last three weeks together vacationing in the North Carolina mountains. During that time, we had enjoyed teaching each other our favorite sports—climbing and canoeing—though I liked to tease him that my hobby was the superior one, because one false move with a canoe paddle wouldn’t exactly plunge a person hundreds of feet to their death. Tom had replied that if one were canoeing above Niagara Falls, that wouldn’t exactly be true, now would it?

As the teenager moved on to help the next set of climbers, Tom gave me an encouraging smile.

“Hey, what did you say this is called?” I asked him, pointing at my visibly wobbling knees. “Sewing legs?”

“Sewing-machine legs,” Tom replied. “A common climbing malady. Come on. You need to rest for a bit.”

He bought us two bottles of water from the snack bar, and then we found a quiet corner and sat on a bench there, leaning back against the wall. I felt thoroughly spent, as if I had pushed every single muscle in my body to its very limit.

I sipped on my water, feeling my pulse slowly return to normal, looking around at the activity that surrounded us. Across the giant room, a new group of climbers was being instructed by a guide while about ten more people waited in line for their turn. In the front window was a giant banner that said “Climb for KFK,” and beside the cash register was a table where pledges and donations were being accepted for “Kamps for Kids,” a charity that provided summer camp scholarships to impoverished children. Instead of a walk­athon, they were calling this event a “climbathon.” I liked the idea as well as the whole atmosphere of the place, from the easy joviality of the people waiting in line to the upbeat encouragement of the instructors who were manning the ropes and providing assistance as needed.

“So what’s up, Callie?” Tom asked. “You haven’t been yourself all morning.”

I shrugged.

“Sorry,” I said. “This is my work mode, I guess. You have to remember, we’re not just here to have fun. We’re on the job, so to speak.”

Tom nodded knowingly and then leaned closer and lowered his voice.

“So how does this happen, exactly?” he asked. “Do you just walk up to the people and say, ‘Hi, here’s a big whopping check’?”

I smiled.

“Oh, sure, that’s usually how it goes. I call that my Big Whopping Check speech.”

“Don’t be hard on me,” he said, grinning. “I’ve never done this before.”

I leaned toward him, speaking softly.

“Well, first of all, you have to wait for the proper moment,” I said. “Like just before you’re about to leave.”

“Okay.”

“Second,” I continued, “you have to have the full attention of the correct person. You don’t want to give that whopping check to just anybody.”

“Get the big wig. Got it.”

“Finally, the act of presentation takes a little bit of flair. It’s a huge moment for them. You want to help them enjoy it.”

“I think I understand.”

“You also want to bring them back down to earth a little. I actually do have a short speech I give every time I hand over a grant. I remind the recipient where the money’s coming from and what it’s for. That seems to go over well.”

I felt funny explaining how I did my job to Tom, because he wasn’t just my boyfriend, he was also technically my boss. Though he lived and worked on the other side of the country, far from our actual office, Tom was the kind and generous philanthropist behind the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation. I worked for the foundation as the director of research, and basically my job was to investigate nonprofits Tom was interested in and analyze their suitability for grants. If they checked out okay, I then had the pleasure of awarding them grant money. That’s what we were doing here today. For the first time ever, Tom was joining me as I gave a little bit of his money away.

“Hey, Tom! Tom Bennett!” a man cried, interrupting my thoughts.

The fellow bounded toward us, grinning widely. He was tall and wiry, with deep laugh lines in a tanned face, and when he reached us, we stood and the two men shook hands warmly. “You said you might come, but I didn’t believe you.”

“I’m glad I was able to work it out,” Tom replied, smiling.

He introduced his friend as Mitch Heckman, owner of the gym and co-organizer of the event. I told Mitch how impressed I was with the gym and with the climbathon concept.

“Most of the credit goes to my wife,” Mitch said, shaking my hand. “I’m just glad we could use the gym to help out a good cause.”

“Have you raised much?” Tom asked.

“Our goal for today was twenty-five thousand dollars,” Mitch said. “You can see how we’re doing on that poster over there.”

He pointed to a drawing of a mountain with a zero at the bottom, amounts written up the side, and $25,000 at the top. Sadly, it had only been colored in about half of the way up—and the event would be over in another hour or two.

“Of course, we had a pretty big learning curve in putting the whole thing together,” Mitch said. “I’m sure we can make up the difference with some bake sales or car washes or something. We’ll get there eventually. Mai pen rai, huh?”

“Yeah, mai pen rai.”

They chatted for a few minutes more, and then Mitch was called up to the front. After he was gone, Tom explained to me their acquaintance, that they had met a few months ago while mountain climbing—specifically, while scaling the limestone cliffs off of Rai Ley Beach in the Krabi Province of Thailand. Tom had been working hard in Singapore and had taken a weekend off to visit the nearby mountain-climbers’ mecca, where he met Mitch atop one of the peaks after a particularly challenging climb. As the two men rested, they talked, and it turned out that they were both avid climbers and eager to explore an unfrequented jungle crag nearby. Together they had hired a guide and ended up having an incredible day of climbing. Though the two men hadn’t seen each other since, they had been in touch off and on ever since via e-mail.

“What were you saying to each other just now? My pen…”

“Mai pen rai,” Tom replied. “That’s Thai for ‘no problem’ or ‘never mind.’ The guides say it to encourage you while you’re climbing, kind of like ‘you can do it.’ ‘Don’t worry.’ Mai pen rai.”

“Does Mitch know about the foundation?”

“Nope. He thinks I’m just another rock jock.”

“He’s in for a nice surprise, then,” I said. “This is fun, giving a grant to someone who never even applied for one.”

This wasn’t our usual mode for doing business, that was for sure. But this particular charity was so new—and the amount we were donating so relatively small—that the investigation hadn’t been all that complicated. Since KFK had never applied for a grant from us, I hadn’t really had the authority to go in and do an extensive investigation. But they did belong to several good nonprofit watchdog groups, so I had felt confident doing the research from our vacation home in North Carolina, mostly over the internet and on the phone with the foundation’s accounting whiz, Harriet, the day before.

“Anyway, now you’ll finally have the pleasure of making a donation live and in person,” I added. “Something I’ve only been bugging you to do for two years.”

“Almost three years now,” he corrected. “And, yes, I’m hoping this might shut you up for good.”

“Oh, you want me to shut up, do you?” I asked. “What about—”

He silenced me with a finger against my lips, which he allowed to linger there.

“No,” he whispered, gazing a moment at my mouth. “Don’t ever stop talking to me. I want to listen to you forever.”

We looked into each other’s eyes as everything else in the room blurred into the background. My legs shivered again, but not from climbing this time.

“We need to get going,” Tom said gruffly, standing and then helping me to my feet. I squeezed his hand, and then we separated into the men’s and women’s locker areas to get cleaned up.

After a shower I dressed quickly in a pair of black slacks and a soft blue knit shirt. I towel-dried my short hair, combed it out, and took a moment to put on some lipstick and a touch of mascara.

As I looked in the mirror, ready to leave, I was suddenly overwhelmed with sadness. In a few short hours Tom and I would go our separate ways, boarding two different flights to head toward our homes on opposite coasts—him to California and me to Maryland. For three glorious weeks we had done nothing more than shut out the rest of the world and spend time together, but we couldn’t hide out and play forever. Our work and other responsibilities awaited us, and as one week had turned into two and then to three, we had already stretched the length of our available time to the very max. Soon our idyllic vacation together would officially be over, and Tom and I would be back to our long-distance romance as usual.

Slinging my bag onto my shoulder, I decided to take this day moment-by-moment. Despite the difficulty of parting, we still had a job to do. We still had a grant to give out.

I emerged from the locker room to find Tom also showered and dressed, standing nearby and squinting toward the front of the room. He had in his hand a check from the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation, dated today and made out to the charity, though the amount had been left blank.

“Callie, can you read that figure?” he asked. “I need the exact amount they’ve raised so far.”

I walked a little closer and then came back to report that they were up to $11,043. Quick with numbers, Tom didn’t even hesitate before he filled out the check for $23,957.

“That’s ten thousand more than they need to bring them to their goal,” I said after doing the math in my head, not surprised one bit by his generosity.

“Yeah, but it’s the least we can do, don’t you think?”

He tried to put the check in my hand, but I pushed it back.

“No, you don’t,” I said. “Enjoy the moment.”

Carrying our bags, Tom and I walked to the front of the gym, where his friend Mitch was chatting with a woman that I assumed was his wife. We were introduced, and I liked her firm handshake and the way she looked me directly in the eye. She thanked us for coming and then moved on to speak with someone else.

“We’re going to head out,” Tom said to Mitch, “but I wanted to give you a check first. I talked my company into making a small grant.”

Of course, the way Tom had said it, you’d never know that it was his company, nor his money—nor that he was using “small” as a relative term. Mitch took the folded check without looking at it.

“Listen, buddy, every bit helps. Thank you so much, and thanks for coming.”

The two men shook hands, and then Mitch shook my hand as well. We said goodbye, and Tom and I departed, walking silently through the packed parking lot toward our rental car.

“You were right, Callie,” he said nonchalantly, pressing a button on his key chain to unlock the car. “Giving away the money in person really is kind of fun.”

I was about to reply when we heard Mitch calling Tom’s name. We turned to see the man running toward us, breathless, his eyes filled with disbelief.

“I don’t understand,” he gasped, holding up the check. “This is so much. Is it some kind of joke?”

“No joke, Mitch,” Tom said. “We’re affiliated with the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation. That’s a grant.”

“A grant?”

“Yeah, we give them out all the time. Callie, what is it you like to say when you give grants to people?”

I smiled.

“Basically,” I said, going into my spiel, “we want you to know that the best way you can say thanks is to take that money and use it to further your mission. The foundation believes strongly in what you’re trying to accomplish, and we just wanted to have some small part in furthering your efforts.”

To my surprise, Mitch’s eyes filled with tears.

“Your generosity leaves me speechless,” he said finally. “Won’t you come back inside? Let me tell my wife. She’ll be so excited. Maybe we can get a picture for the newsletter or the website or something.”

I looked at Tom, but he seemed decidedly uncomfortable.

“Mitch,” I said, “we really prefer to do this in a discreet manner. Just tell Jill that the J.O.S.H.U.A. Foundation gives the money with love and with God’s blessings. We’d rather not receive any individual recognition.”

Bewildered, he looked back down at the check.

“And you promise this isn’t a joke?” he tried one more time.

“No joke,” Tom laughed. “I give you my word, buddy. It’s for real.”

With a final sincere thanks, Mitch turned and headed back to the building. We stood there and watched until he went inside and the door closed behind him.

On impulse, I turned and threw my arms around Tom’s neck. Startled, after a moment he hugged me back.

“You are such a good man,” I whispered, feeling absolutely, utterly, and completely in love.

He laughed, pulling me in tightly for an embrace.

“Wow,” he replied. “This giving-away-money thing gets better all the time.”

Knowing the clock was ticking closer toward our flight times, we managed to pull apart and get into the car. He started it up and pulled out of the parking lot, driving toward the airport.

We were quiet as we went, both lost in our own thoughts. As we wove our way through traffic, I considered our relationship and the long and winding path my life had taken since my husband’s death. This coming summer would mark four years since Bryan was killed, and in one way it seemed like yesterday, and in another it seemed like decades ago. My husband had been my first true love, the sweetheart I had met at 16 and married at 25. We’d had four wonderful years together as husband and wife, but that had all come crashing to an end that fateful day when we went water-skiing and Bryan was hit by a speedboat. The boat’s driver went to prison for manslaughter, but I also went into a sort of prison myself—a self-imposed prison of mourning, of loneliness.

Only in the last six months had I allowed myself to consider the possibility that there might be life for me beyond my husband’s death. Tom and I had developed a good, strong friendship through our many work-related conversations over the phone, and then, slowly, that friendship had started taking on other dimensions. We finally met in person last fall, when Tom received word that I had been hurt in an investigation and raced halfway around the world to be by my side and make certain I was all right. We had spent a mere 12 hours together—just long enough to begin falling in love—and then we were forced to endure a four-month separation while he went back to Singapore on important business and I healed from my injuries and continued my work with his foundation in the U.S.

Then three weeks ago, in the very heart of spring, we had been joyously reunited. Showing up in a hot air balloon, Tom had swept me away to a gorgeous vacation spot in the North Carolina mountains, where we planned to stay a week or so and give ourselves the opportunity to see if our relationship really could work face-to-face. What we had found was that we were so compatible, so comfortable, and so suddenly and deeply in love that it was nearly impossible to end our vacation and return to our regular lives.

Now, however, our time together had come to an end.

“There’s the car rental return,” Tom said suddenly, pulling me from my thoughts. He followed the signs and turned into the lot, but instead of heading straight to the busy rental return area, he veered over to an empty parking spot nestled behind a big truck. He put the car in park but left the motor running.

“Maybe we should say our goodbyes here,” he told me, “instead of out in the middle of the busy airport.”

I nodded, surprised when my eyes suddenly filled with tears. I didn’t want to say goodbye at all. Tom’s cell phone began ringing from his gym bag, but we ignored it.

“Callie, have I told you that the past three weeks have been the happiest weeks of my life?”

The ringing stopped. In the quiet of the car, I held on to his hand, looking deeply into his eyes.

“They have been incredible,” I replied. There were many, many moments we had shared that I would relive in my mind in the coming days. “I don’t know if I have the strength to say goodbye to you or not.”

Tom reached up and smoothed a loose lock of hair behind my ear. Such tenderness was in his gaze that I thought it might break my heart.

“Callie, I have something for you,” he whispered. He started to reach into his pocket, and I swallowed hard, wondering what it could be. Then his phone began to ring again.

“You better see who it is,” I said, sighing. “It might be important.”

By the time he got the phone out from his gym bag, the call had been disconnected. Tom was pressing buttons, trying to see who had called, when my phone started ringing from my purse. I dug it out, surprised to see that the number on my screen matched the number that had just called his.

“Hello?” I asked somewhat hesitantly.

“Callie?” a woman’s voice cried from very far away. “Is that you?”

“This is Callie,” I answered. “Who is this?”

“This is Stella,” the voice said. “Stella Gold.”

I put my hand over the phone and mouthed to Tom, It’s Eli’s wife.

Eli Gold was my mentor, a friend of Tom’s, and the person responsible for bringing the two of us together.

“Stella?” I asked, trying to picture a woman I didn’t know very well at the other end of the line. I had met her the day she married my dear friend Eli, but she and I had not really spoken since, except for those times when I called their house and she had been the one to answer the phone. “What’s up?”

“Oh, Callie, I’m so glad I finally reached you. I need you. I need your help. I need Tom Bennett, also, if you know how to reach him.”

“What is it?” I asked, my heart surging.

“It’s Eli,” she sobbed. “He’s in the hospital.”

“In the hospital?”

“Callie, he’s been shot.”


My Review - Star Rating: 4

While I read and enjoyed the previous book in this series, A Dime a Dozen, I wasn’t crazy about it. Consequently, I began this book, A Quarter for a Kiss with some trepidation. In the end, all my worry was for naught! The story kicks off with a great start and, really, doesn't slow down till the end. Besides being a bit wordy in areas, from start to finish I completely enjoyed this book.

Maybe one of the reasons I enjoyed it so much more was because Tom was with Callie during this investigation. I loved watching these two interact and deal with the case. Through it all, Tom and Callie's relationship felt so...natural. Believable. They spent time together, enjoyed each other’s company, often were tempted, but each time triumphed over the temptation. One point that Mindy drove home that I just loved was when Callie had to urge Tom to leave her room. They were getting tempted, and the reason she made him leave her room was because she loved him. I saw that, and silently applauded Mindy Clark. I don’t think I’ve seen it put just that way in a book before, but it is all so true.

The plot was, once again, very intricate and complex. I kept trying to figure out “who dunnit”, but once again…had a hard time doing that! In the end, I was able to deduce who one of the bad guys was before Callie and Tom. I felt so proud of myself. (lol!) There wasn’t anything inappropriate in this book outside of a few kisses exchanged between Callie and Tom and an old affair that they uncovered during their investigation. Mindy doesn’t go into detail in either area and keeps the whole story very clean as a whole.

I finished the book with batted breath and was so pleased at how everything came down. But then that last scene totally threw me! Way to go, Mindy Clark, ending with a cliffhanger!! Now I am going to have to get my hands on a copy of the next book as soon as possible. Tom might have a rough past, but Callie hasta forgive him—those two are so perfect for each other! If you’re into mysteries, then I don’t think you can go wrong by looking Mindy Clark up. Her books are sure to keep you entertained and deducing for hours, right along with Callie the sleuth!
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