First things first: Happy 150th Canada Day to all our Canadian friends!!!
Being Canadian, I know there will be a LOT of celebrations this weekend across the country, but Catherine Lanigan, Syndi Powell, Cari Lynn Webb and I have even more to celebrate. It's release day for our latest books.
How wonderful that our books share a birthday with Canada! 😊
It's now our pleasure to introduce our books to you.
Let's start with . . .
Catherine Lanigan’s Family of His Own
And here is an excerpt from Family of His Own . . .
The room was small and smelled musty, with only the light from an old television illuminating the faces of a little girl, about five or six years old, and the toddler in her arms.
The girl stared at them fearfully. Her lips quivered, but she remained silent. She took a step backward and hoisted the baby closer to the crook of her neck. The baby grabbed a handful of her cotton shirt and started fussing.
She made a cooing sound into the baby’s ear and whispered something Scott couldn’t make out, but it was clear she knew exactly how to react to the baby and the baby to her.
It was as if this little girl was the mother.
What’s your name?” Trent asked her.
She pressed her lips together, remaining silent. Her big blue eyes darted to Scott and then quickly back to Trent.
Scott knew Trent to be compassionate and endearing to kids. He had certainly won the heart of Cate’s little boy, Danny, who wasn’t much older than this girl.
“Is this your little sister?” Trent asked the girl.
She lifted her chin defiantly, then shook her head.
“Your brother then?” Trent asked.
She stared at Trent, hugging the baby tighter. Scott noticed that her hands were clean and the baby looked well cared for. His heart ached for these children.
“He’s your brother, then,” Scott said, crouching down to her level.
She turned to him, and her gaze pierced him to his core. She looked to be in desperate need of a hug. A hundred hugs. He wanted to give them to her.
“What’s his name?” Scott prodded. Bob had left the room and Trent was slowly backing away.
“Michael,” she replied in a sweet voice.
The light from the TV flickered across her face, and he saw that her hair was gathered in a rubber band. He felt his heart thrum with compassion. “And what’s your name?”
“I like that. It suits you. Did you know that it means beautiful?”
“No. My mom named me. She didn’t name Michael. I named him.”
“You did? That’s very interesting,” Scott replied gingerly, reaching out to touch Michael’s little back. “He’s a good baby brother, isn’t he?”
“Yes. He’s mine.” She put her hand on his head and held him tighter. Michael turned his face enough for Scott to see he had a pacifier in his mouth.
No wonder the baby was quiet. His eyes were closing slowly as sleep crept over him.
“I can see that,” Scott said.
Bella cocked her head and stared at him. He felt oddly like a specimen on display.
She frowned and she started to say something and then stopped herself.
“What is it, Bella?”
“Are you an angel?”
“An angel? No. I’m not. Why would you ask that?” Scott was taken aback.
Still holding Michael, she turned around and went to the rickety table where the television sat and picked up a DVD case. She handed it to Scott.
It was The Bishop’s Wife, an old film starring Cary Grant. He glanced at the television. It was the movie she’d been watching while her mother zoned out on heroin in the living room.
“You look like him,” she said.
He glanced down at his tux. “You think so?”
© © ©
Next up we have . . .
Syndi Powell's Afraid to Lose Her
And here is an excerpt from Afraid to Lose Her. . .
Dr. Sprader helped Sherri shift again onto her side and taped gauze over the front wound. She frowned again. “Do you mind if I check something out? I don’t think it’s related to your injury, but it concerns me.”
Sherri nodded and watched as the doctor probed the area above the gauze on the underside of her breast. Dr. Sprader obviously didn’t like what she found because she told the nurse beside her to call the radiology department to get them in for a consult. Sherri frowned. “Radiology?”
“There’s a lump on the underside of your breast that I don’t like.” Dr. Sprader guided Sherri’s fingers to the spot about the size of a half pea but hard rather than mushy. “You haven’t noticed that?”
Sherri shook her head. “What do you think it is?”
“More than eighty percent of lumps are nothing, but I don’t want to play around.” She removed her bright pink skull cap to reveal short, spiky, dark blond hair no longer than an inch. “I’ve just finished my own fight with breast cancer, so I know how important it is to get answers early.”
What? Cancer? Sherri tried to find words to say but couldn’t seem to find any. Instead, she shook her head until the doctor put a hand on hers. “Like I said. Most turn out to be nothing, a cyst. But I’d rather be safe than sorry.”
A nurse poked her head into the room. “Ron says he can take her in about an hour. And she’s got an army wanting to see her out in the waiting room.”
Sherri closed her eyes and took another deep breath. “Mama.”
“I can go get her so that she can accompany you up to radiology if you’d like.”
Sherri shook her head. As comforting as the thought was of having Mama next to her while they ran tests, she had to be strong and do this on her own. “No. I don’t want her to know anything yet. But I do want to see her before.” She paused. “And Dez.”
Dr. Sprader nodded. “I’ll send her back. And she’ll only know what you want to tell her.”
The doctor left, and Sherri collapsed back onto the gurney. Chances are the lump Dr. Sprader had found was nothing. But what if it wasn’t?
© © ©
Next we have . . .
Cari Lynn Webb's The Charm Offensive
And here is an excerpt from The Charm Offensive. . .
There was a stubborn set to his mouth, but something in his manner, how his head tilted just slightly, made her think he welcomed her argument. He wanted her to spar. Sophie stuffed her hands in her back pockets and held his stare, once again aware of that fluttery feeling in her core and her too-warm skin. His one-sided grin twitched into place as if he was aware of her feelings.
“Auntie!” Ella’s panicked shout steamrollered over all those soft, romantic notions inside Sophie.
Nice smiles, belly flutters—but Brad Harrington didn’t belong in Sophie’s world. Her reality was a ten-year-old girl, eye doctors and abandoned things.
Sophie swung around as Ella stepped into the doorway, a neon-pink brush stuck in her knotted hair, her fingers gripped around her white cane. “Auntie, I told Charlotte I’d have braids today. She has braids today. And I promised we’d match for the field trip. We have to match. It’s pairs day. You have to match your partner on pairs day.”
Sophie hurried over to her niece and started working the hairbrush loose. “Well, it’s a good thing Ruthie is here then, because there’s no one better at braids than her.”
Ella pushed her eyeglasses up her nose. “I thought I heard her. And Matt, too?”
“Good morning, Ella-Bell,” Matt called from the entrance. “Need a lift to school today?”
“I don’t want to wrinkle my dress,” Ella said. “Auntie ironed it last night.”
“Then we’ll plan another date.” Matt walked outside, letting the door swing shut behind him.
Ella smoothed her hands over her dress and whispered to Sophie. “I haven’t wrinkled it yet, have I?”
“You look perfect.” Sophie leaned in and kissed Ella’s porcelain cheek.
“But am I wrinkled?” Ella stretched out the last word, unable to contain her concern.
“Not one wrinkle.” Ruthie adjusted the bow at Ella’s waist. “Now do you want one braid or two?”
Ella’s shoulders lowered and the corner of her bottom lip disappeared between her teeth. “Charlotte says she has less hair than me. She says her hair is flat and mine is puffy.”
“That’s your curls, Ella.” Sophie freed the brush and untangled the worst snarl. “Charlotte’s mother texted me last night. She can’t do French braids, so Charlotte will have two ponytail braids.”
“Ruthie, can you do a French braid?” Hope pushed out Ella’s words in a rush.
Ruthie squeezed Ella’s shoulders. “How about two French braids? That will still look like two ponytails.”
“You can do that?” Ella asked.
“Anything for you,” Ruthie said.
“Careful, Ruthie, or Ella will call you over every morning to style her hair before school.” Sophie handed Ruthie the hairbrush.
Ella shook her head. “Only on special occasions. I don’t want to inconvenience her.”
The sincerity in Ella’s tone and seriousness in the firm set of her mouth ripped through Sophie’s heart. Ella had feared being an inconvenience ever since she’d overheard a conversation between Sophie and her older sister, who was also Ella’s mother. The little girl hadn’t needed supersensitive hearing skills during that particular morning. Sophie had dragged Tessa into the shower, fully clothed, after her sister’s two-day-long binge of drinking and drugs. Even through the hair pulling, kicking and continued resistance, Tessa had never ceased ranting about the inconvenience of family. The inconvenience of parenting. The inconvenience of children.
Sophie rubbed behind her ear. Her hair had grown back, yet the memory still lingered in vivid color. But the imprint on a young, innocent child was the deepest wound, and that unseen scar remained. No matter how often Sophie tried to prove to Ella she wasn’t an inconvenience or encourage her to leave out that word from her vocabulary, she hadn’t succeeded. But she’d never stop trying.
© © ©
Last but not least . . .
Kate James's Home to Stay
And here is an excerpt from Home to Stay . . .
Shannon clipped a leash to Darwin’s collar. She let the dog smell both articles of clothing before storing them in her pouch, and instructed him to “find.”
Based on the information she’d been given, she estimated that Dylan had been missing for about three hours. That was a considerable time for a young boy to be alone in a forest.
But not so long that Darwin couldn’t pick up his trail. The dog’s behavior confirmed Shannon’s assessment of the elapsed time. The boy’s scent had dissipated sufficiently that Darwin was sniffing the air rather than the ground. They entered the forest at a run. Shannon said silent thanks for the hours she spent at the gym. Not wanting to break Darwin’s concentration, she matched her speed to his.
She dodged branches, leaped over fallen logs and, when she couldn’t avoid it, crashed through undergrowth to keep up with him. Once or twice when Darwin slowed, she pulled Dylan’s picture out of her pocket. Each time she looked at the image of the smiling little boy, she thought of Charlie. Her remorse over Charlie’s death, and the possibility that she might not be able to find and return Dylan safely to his father caused a constriction in her chest that made it hard to inhale.
Distracted, she nearly tripped over Darwin when he paused at a fork in the trail. He turned in circles, uncertain which way to go. Shannon let him scent Dylan’s clothing again. With a short bark, he was off once more.
Shannon was breathless by the time they reached a narrow gravel lane that appeared to be a service road. Darwin stopped and looked to Shannon for direction. When she held out the sock for him and urged him to “find,” he started down the road, but Shannon called him back.
It seemed that Darwin had lost the trail and was going to run down the road, probably because it was the path of least resistance.
She placed her hands on her knees and leaned forward to catch her breath.
She’d failed Charlie and now she was failing Dylan, too. The thought of that turned the constriction into a roiling, greasy mess in her gut.
No longer able to contain it, she bent over the bushes and lost the contents of her stomach.
Feeling steadier, she forced herself to concentrate on her task. A little boy’s life depended on it, and she wouldn’t risk his life by not doing her job to the best of her ability.
Shannon tried one more time with Darwin, but he kept wanting to run down the road. Dylan couldn’t have walked down that road barefoot. That thought had her considering that she and Darwin had run a good two miles. How likely was it that a four-year-old could’ve walked that far, and without shoes?
Had she made a mistake? Had Darwin? Had they gone the wrong way at the fork in the trail?
The park rangers had dogs and handlers searching, too. If she and Darwin couldn’t find the boy, maybe one of them would. But she knew the rangers’ dogs were multipurpose, while she and Darwin specialized in searches. Because of that, they were considered Dylan’s best chance.
Dejected, Shannon led Darwin back to the campsite at a brisk jog. Along the way, she called Logan and provided him with an update. He said he was en-route and would see her at the site.
It was hard telling her boss that she’d failed. She didn't know how she was going to break the news to the boy’s father. How could she confess to him that her best hadn’t been good enough?
She hadn’t been able to find his son.
© © ©
Entering is easy! You can comment on this post, tweet about our giveaway or visit our July Heartwarming box set on Amazon.
July Heartwarming Giveaway!
The more often you enter, the better your chances to win! The contest is open until end of day July 29th. We will announce the winner on this blog on July 30th.
Huge thanks to everyone who reads our books. Happy reading!
Catherine, Cari, Syndi and Kate