Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Come Back by Melissa Maygrove


A warm welcome to author Melissa Maygrove with her book Come Back which was published in 2014. Melissa has a new anthology being published shortly and that will be included in the an update when released.

About Come Back

Left behind by everyone she loves…

Rebecca Garvey had the promise of a California future dreams are made of, until the wagon train her family was traveling with left her behind. Now she’s slowly dying in the wilderness, abandoned and stripped of her self-worth. Once the shock of her desertion turns to embittered despair, she doesn’t want to be found. Then a handsome stranger challenges her convictions and changes her mind.

Headed for Texas, chased by the demons of his past…
Seth Emerson knows exactly what he wants. Working to save for a cattle ranch of his own keeps him busy and keeps his pain buried. Rescuing a stubborn woman from the hills of New Mexico Territory isn’t part of his plan—but she’s exactly what he needs.

Making greater sacrifices than either of them could foresee…
Seth and Rebecca set off on a risky journey and a quest for truth, each healing the other’s love-starved soul along the way. Will they give in to their growing attraction? Or will they honor their commitments when Seth returns Rebecca to civilization… and her betrothed?

Note about content: Although the moral context of the story is old fashioned, Come Back contains violence, adult themes, and descriptions of physical intimacy. It is intended for mature readers

One of the recent reviews for the book

Rebecca Garvey is on a wagon train bound for California when she is inadvertently left behind in the wilderness of New Mexico Territory. She mistakenly believes that no one searched for her and, as days turn into months, she remains in the wilderness and fends for herself rather than attempting to make her way to a town. When she comes across an injured man, she’s compelled to help him, but in doing so she can no longer hide from the pain of her presumed abandonment.

Seth Emerson is battling demons of his own, but he becomes determined to reunite Rebecca with her family, along with the man to whom she’s betrothed. During the journey, affection turns to love between Seth and Rebecca, and they must both grapple with doing the right thing.

This is a quiet book with a slow-building romance; both Seth and Rebecca are stubborn in their misguided decisions regarding the course of their lives, and Ms. Maygrove beautifully handles their blossoming maturity. Grab a cup of tea and a blanket and settle in for a romance filled with grit, sweetness, and passion. You won’t be disappointed.

Read some of the 124 reviews for Come Back and buy: https://www.amazon.com/Come-Back-Melissa-Maygrove-ebook/dp/B00K5C0PDA

and at Amazon UK : https://www.amazon.co.uk/Come-Back-Melissa-Maygrove-ebook/dp/B00K5C0PDA

Also by Melissa Maygrove and contributed anthologies

Read all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Melissa-Maygrove/e/B00JL4UPCY

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Melissa-Maygrove/e/B00JL4UPCY

And read more reviews and follow Melissa on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8103285.Melissa_Maygrove

About Melissa Maygrove

Native Texan Melissa Maygrove is a wife, mother, nurse, freelance editor, and romance writer. When she’s not busy caring for her tiny nursery patients or shuttling teenagers back and forth to after-school activities, she’s hunched over her laptop, complicating the lives of her imaginary friends and playing matchmaker. Melissa loves books with unpretentious characters and unforgettable romance, and she strives to create those same kinds of stories for her readers.

Connect to Melissa MayGrove

Website: http://www.melissamaygrove.com/
Publishing site: http://www.truelovepress.com/
Blog: http://melissamaygrove.blogspot.ie/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/MelissaMaygrove
Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/theneffzoo

Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will head over to check out Melissa’s books and also her website. Thanks Sally.

Flights of Fancy Anthology – Psychic Parrot by Sally Cronin


As I dive into the magical world of the Kingdom of Magia for the sequel to Tales from the Garden I will be peppering the blog with the odd short story from the other collections. This is a bit of fluff… about love or an avian kind.

THE PSYCHIC PARROT by Sally Cronin

I wasn’t sure how I was going to break the news to my husband Simon that I had managed to add another dent to my car. Living in Spain had many advantages — such as the glorious weather, but the roads were not the safest, and parking had its dangers too.

My car was only three months old and already there were scrape marks down one side, two dents in one of the rear doors and this morning I had been involved in an accident with another car. It was not my fault; I was driving slowly down the exit lane from the supermarket when a blue Seat shot out of a side parking area straight into the front passenger door. The impact had jerked me into the steering wheel and I had banged my head on the side window.

The young man driving the Seat had reversed and driven off without stopping leaving me shaking and clutching my head tightly in both hands. Luckily, a lovely couple stopped and came round to my side of the car and helped me out into the blazing mid-day sun. I have only lived in Madrid for a few months and my Spanish is still embarrassingly limited but the man spoke some English and insisted that the police and an ambulance were called immediately. The woman had made a note of the other car’s number plate and they offered to act as witnesses to the accident.

The police and the paramedics arrived within minutes of each other and I sat in the back of the ambulance being examined while the car was checked by the police officers. I don’t know what was more upsetting, my pounding headache or the prospect of Simon’s anger and recriminations. He had been more than scathing about my two previous encounters; one with a concrete post in a parking garage and the other with the metal side of our gate.  I dreaded his reaction to what was turning into a major incident.

The car was drivable but the paramedics wanted me to go to hospital, as they were concerned about my head injury. The police moved my car under some covered parking and handed my keys and handbag to me before driving off with promises of contact when they had found the hit-and-run driver. I thanked the kind couple who had offered me so much assistance and they gave me their card with a request for an update when I felt up to it.

At that moment, I felt like death – my head pounded and the heat seemed to have leached every, last ounce of energy from my bruised body. I lay back on the stretcher and heard the siren wailing above me as we manoeuvred through the busy motorway traffic.

—000—

To be honest I have no idea how I ended up here on my terrace, looking over the garden. The last thing that I remember is wishing that the infernal wailing sound would stop so that my head would be clear enough to come up with a plausible story for the new damage to the car. Simon hates being the centre of attention and he was not going to like the fact that the police were now involved and that word might get back to the Spanish company that he worked for, as an accountant.

My head still ached but I can only assume that they must have given me some painkillers when I got to the hospital. Perhaps they had called Simon and he brought me home, but if that was the case where was he now and how did I get out here onto the terrace?

Wouldn’t he have put me to bed or at least on one of the sofas in the lounge?

I have to say that it was rather pleasant lying out here on a lounger with my feet up even if my head and body still felt painful and lifeless. I couldn’t seem to move my hands or my feet and a dreadful thought occurred to me as I realised that perhaps I was paralysed, but dismissed this as ridiculous. If that were the case then I would still be in hospital under medical care.

I could just about move my neck, which seemed to be trapped in a rigid muscular spasm. My eyes scanned the long terrace on the side of the house and I looked into the garden through the dark metal fencing. A movement caught my eye halfway along the railings and a grey object started moving sideways along the metal. At first, the image was blurred and I could feel fear building up in my chest as it shuffled closer. Within a couple of moments my eyes managed to focus and to my astonishment I found myself staring into a piercingly bright eye surrounded by pearly white skin.

I am not an expert on birds but even I could recognise a parrot when I saw one. The bird cocked its head to one side and we examined each other carefully. I have to say that it looked much more attractive than I felt. A mixture of dark and pearl grey feathers covered its body and in contrast to the white skin around the eyes, the black beak looked almost menacing.

I must have been holding my breath as I suddenly felt as though I was suffocating and frighteningly I heard strange voices speaking in Spanish in my already aching head. The urgency in the voices rose to a crescendo and then faded back down again as I let out a breath, releasing the tension in my body. I felt myself slipping away into sleep and I welcomed the sensation; I knew the pain would be gone and I would not have to explain myself to Simon. I almost smiled with relief as I drifted away closing my eyes against the glare of the light streaming through the railings onto my sun bed. I had not noticed how bright the light was but the strange thing was that the light was getting stronger rather than fading as I slipped into sleep.

“Wake up, wake up.” A forceful voice shook me out of my peaceful descent into rest.
My eyes shot open and I found myself staring right into the parrot’s face as it sat on my chest. I panicked as I couldn’t move to defend myself and I was convinced that this bird was going to peck my eyes out or worse, without me being able to doing anything to prevent it.

“Don’t panic, it’s alright. But don’t go to sleep. Okay!” The voice sounded rather cultured and somewhat familiar and I relaxed a little as the intent behind the words managed to calm my fears.

“You and I need to have a chat and you can’t listen to me if you are asleep.” I realised that the parrot was trying to hold a conversation with me but I found it very difficult to grasp the reality of the situation. How could I be lying on my terrace with a grey parrot on my chest giving me orders about whether I should go to sleep or not.

I managed to open my mouth and croak in its direction. “You’re not real are you?” I tried to focus on the fact that it might be a wind-up toy that Simon had brought home for a practical joke. This I dismissed as unlikely bearing in mind his total lack of a sense of humour.

“I am very real Susan and I need you to concentrate because I am going to help you.”
I blinked my eyes wearily as this was simply not acceptable. I just wanted to close my eyelids and drift off peacefully to sleep.

“Susan, open your eyes and pay attention.” The bird snapped at me as it moved impatiently around on my breasts. It paced back and forth, rocking its head and making hissing sounds under its breath.

“You always do this when there is a problem, run away, hide your feelings rather than confront issues. And look where it has got you.” My eyes jerked open and I stared at a parrot who dared to tell me how ineffectual I was. It was bad enough that I had a husband who constantly criticised and belittled me; I certainly did not need a vermin ridden avian to have a go at me too.

“Don’t get in a huff, just because you know it’s true,” The bird walked right up to my face and glared at me. “You have allowed that husband of yours to get away with bullying you for years now and here you are about to disappear without telling him how you feel.”

It was hard to feel righteous anger at the bird’s words, as I knew, deep in my bruised chest, that it was speaking the truth.

“How do you know all this,” I croaked quietly.

“I am a psychic African Grey Parrot and I can read your mind! You have got one you know.”

I was finding it incredibly difficult to take all of this in and could only assume that they had given me some form of hallucinogenic drugs at the hospital. That would explain everything and all I needed to do was relax and go along with everything that happened, because it was an illusion.

“It is not a hallucination,” the parrot continued, “in fact this is one of the most important moments of your life and you need to experience everything.”

“You have spent the last fifteen years of your life with a man who not only belittles you at every opportunity but has also been unfaithful on several occasions.”

I gasped expelling the breath from my body as I felt two incredible shocks thunder through my chest.

“That is simply not true, Simon loves me he would never do that to me.” My whispered denials fell on deaf ears.”

“You know it’s true but you have shut your eyes to his infidelity and the way he treats you because he has made you feel worthless,” the parrot continued as it walked back and forth across my chest.

“You used to be so bright and enthusiastic, so full of life. But he has sucked you dry until you are now lying here helpless and unwilling to help yourself.”

I wanted to get up and punch this obnoxious bird’s lights out. I couldn’t remember when I had felt so enraged and indignant. I squeezed my eyes shut and willed my body to respond.

“That’s it, show me what you’ve got, haven’t felt as alive as this for a while have you?”

I could sense through my tightly clenched eyelids that there was a presence up very close and personal. I opened my eyes and found myself drawn deep down into the bright face in front of me.

“Keep fighting Susan, great things are waiting for you and you will miss out on a wonderful life if you go to sleep. I will be here and we are going to do all the things that you have wanted to do, but never dared, as soon as you are on your feet again.” With that, the parrot flew away from my chest and swooped over the railings and into the garden.

As it left, I could just hear its voice on the hot afternoon air. “Don’t let me down Susan, open your eyes and see what a wonderful life you could have.”

“Come back, come back,” I cried as I watched the bird fly into the sun-dappled trees at the edge of the garden. Funnily enough, despite the dreadful things that the bird had said to me, I felt a tremendous sense of loss. It was as though I was saying goodbye to an old friend, someone I had known a long time ago who had returned for a brief moment.

Then I heard other voices. A Spanish man who was talking calmly and a voice I recognised raised in anger. “Señor, I really must ask you to keep your voice down as your wife is very ill. We nearly lost her twice and we are still uncertain of the extent of her head injury.” I could sense the voices moving away into the distance.

“I am sure that your wife will be able to tell you what has happened when she regains consciousness but now is not the time to try and disturb her with angry questions.”

Then all was quiet and for the first time in many years, I felt a sense of peace wash through my body. However, it was not just calmness that swept over me, but also a sense of purpose and a determination that I thought had deserted me long ago. I was not afraid to sleep now; I needed my rest as I had a great deal ahead of me.

—000—

It is just over a year later and I am lying on my lounger on the terrace of my house. It is not as large or grand as my previous home but it is all mine, as is the rather battered car parked in my driveway. I am no longer in exotic Madrid but in the picturesque village of Hamble, a stone’s throw from the river. Despite Simon’s initial blustering and his ridicule about my ability to care for myself, I had, with the help of a very efficient lawyer, negotiated sufficient funds for me to buy this modest house and provide a reasonable standard of living. I was not however, planning on being dependent on Simon for the rest of my life, as I had put several plans in motion.

I have just finished writing my first novel and it is being published in a few months. I have a new and very able personal assistant who in fact was the inspiration for the title of the book.

I looked over to the corner of the terrace where Cleo was rolling around with some toys, enthusiastically screeching in pretended anger. Suddenly she stopped and flew through the air, landing lightly on my chest.

“I told you so, I told you so.”

“Yes, you certainly did Cleo; you are a very clever parrot indeed.”

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Thank you for dropping by and I hope you enjoyed the story and your feedback is always appreciated. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy Anthology – The Other Side of Midnight by Sally Cronin


Welcome to another story from my first collection Flights of Fancy.  A woman moves into her new cottage but there is something missing…

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THE OTHER SIDE OF HEAVEN

When Meg saw the cottage she knew that it was the one. She had visualised her dream house so many times in her head that it almost felt that she was coming home.

As soon as she had walked down the country lane that separated the property from the main road she had heard the sound of running water. A river or lake had always been a requisite when imagining her perfect home, and the sound ticked at least one of her boxes. As she rounded the bend in the lane she saw the house for the first time, its red slate roof glistening in the sunlight.

She inhaled the scent of the vibrantly coloured flowers that dominated the small front garden and she smiled at the sight of the roses that surrounded the front door. Meg stood for a moment on the cobbled path and delighted in the fresh, sweet smell whilst she ran her eyes over every inch of the front of the cottage.

Despite its age, the windows were large and you could tell that the sunlight that shone through those panes of glass would make the interior bright and welcoming. Taking a deep breath she opened the old wooden door and stepped inside.

Within a very short space of time, Meg found herself carefully unwrapping a lifetime of treasures from the boxes that sat expectantly in the various rooms in her new home. Jack as always was eager to help and despite the insistent interruptions from the collie, Meg made steady progress as she placed objects and pictures in just their right place. Surprisingly, despite working all day, she felt refreshed and excited as she walked through each room, moving furniture slightly to recreate the image that she had held in her mind for so long. Eventually, she was satisfied and she and Jack turned their attention to the garden at the back of the house that lay basking in early evening sunshine.

The dog, young and excited ran out ahead of Meg and started to race around the immaculate piece of lawn. Flowers crowded the edges around its borders, and as in the front garden, the air was filled with a heady and sweet scent. She walked to the little gate set into a hedge and opened and closed it leaving a frustrated Jack on the other side.

“Good boy, Jack. Stay there; this bit is not for dogs”.

He sat down and watched his owner with head cocked to one side. He would not move until she returned. They had been parted for too long for him to allow her out of his sight now.

For Meg this was heaven. Row upon row of fresh vegetables, a small green house where she could see ripened tomatoes hanging from their vines, and an established orchard at the end of the plot, with trees laden with fruit. For a fleeting moment she wondered why so many of the vegetables and fruit seemed out of season, but she put that down to the fact that this part of the country enjoyed a micro-climate that kept it warmer than the average.

Contentedly she retraced her steps and pushed open the gate separating the two gardens and was rewarded with an ecstatic welcome from Jack as he leapt up and licked her face.
After a simple supper, Meg and Jack sat together on the bench at the front of the house and as her hand gently stroked his head, she absorbed the sounds of the evening. In the background the music of the river accompanied the buzz of insects as they collected their final nectar of the day.

Everything was now perfect. The house waited as did Meg and Jack for that final, finishing touch. Jack had been waiting the longest. Meg had missed him so much but there had been no choice under the circumstances. As she stroked his head as it rested on her knee she knew that she had been forgiven for sending him away, but now they would be together always. However, there was someone who was still missing. Meg had no idea when Sam would arrive; all she could do when she had left was to promise that she and Jack would be there to welcome him home.

The evening moved into starlit night and as the moon rose in the sky it seemed as though time had stopped. Jack’s ears suddenly twitched and he nudged Meg’s knee. She turned her head towards the lane leading to the cottage and she stood, moving down the path to open the gate with the collie at her heels. Jack looked up at her as if asking permission.

Meg nodded and he ran ahead barking excitedly and she hurried after him just as a stooped and elderly man came into view. He was walking with a stick but when Jack reached him and jumped up and down in excitement he threw it to one side and went down on one knee to embrace the dog.

Meg slowed and took in the sight of the two beings she loved the most greeting each other. She felt young and giddy just as she had all those years ago when she had first met Sam. Then before her eyes he stood, tall and straight, the years fell away from him and she eagerly fell into his arms and held him as Jack pranced around them in delight.

Eventually, the three of them walked back to the cottage. Meg and Sam hand in hand with Jack walking carefully between them. They turned in the gate and Sam saw their home for the first time.

“I never thought, when you promised to create a place for us all in heaven, that it would be so beautiful”

Smiling, Sam picked his young wife up and carried her over the threshold followed by Jack, tail wagging and barking with encouragement.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy Anthology – Mañana, Mañana.. by Sally Cronin


Just a reminder that whilst I am at the #BloggersBash there will be a short story fest going on over here in my absence.. Details in this post.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2017/06/01/smorgasbord-short-stories-lit-fest-june-9th-12th-storytellers-wanted-sally-at-the-bloggersbash/

In this story from the collection a woman starts a new life with unexpected results...

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Mañana, Mañana.

The hot sun burnt her already tanned legs and she moved them slightly into the shade of the large umbrella overhead. She felt a small trickle of perspiration slide between her breasts and decided that it was not really that uncomfortable a sensation. In fact, it felt rather sensuous.

She looked out across the summer-bleached grass in front of the small villa and waited, her lower lip caught gently between her teeth. Any minute now, any minute now. Yes, there he was. She released her lip with a sharp intake of breath as he walked out of the water and onto the small patch of white sand at the bottom of the garden. He flicked his head and his long, wet black hair erupted into shining droplets of water in the hot air.

He was breath taking. From his arrogant, hawkish face down to his perfectly proportioned feet, he oozed masculinity. His work in the garden had honed his shoulder and chest muscles into sleek male hardness and her hands waved vaguely in the air in remembrance. His waist was small and his hips flared slightly before plunging into long muscular legs.

As he walked back up the beach towards her, she shook her head in disbelief. Just two months ago she had been sobbing her heart out in the kitchen of her luxury house in Chelmsford. Her husband of twenty years had announced, completely out of the blue, that he had just found someone else. To be honest it turned out he had not just found her, but had been enjoying her dubious company for the last five years.

If it had not been for Marjorie Hamilton, and her puncture, she would never have found out about it and would still be living in blissful ignorance. Well, perhaps blissful was a bit strong a word to use for the rather listless state of their marriage but then again she really had not had anything to compare it to. Until now!

Anyway, back to Marjorie and her puncture. After a trip to the supermarket, and with a laden boot of shopping, one of the rear tyres on her brand new car had suddenly deflated, right in the middle of the high street. Marjorie had got out and having discovered the cause of the sudden tilt to the right began to prepare her “little girl, I’m helpless look” that had worked so well for her in the past. Glancing around, in hopes of finding an available and suitably impressed gentleman, she spied Gregory Davenport at a table in the window of an Indian restaurant. This in itself was not a shocking revelation but the fact that his hand was gently cupping a chin that was definitely not his wife’s, was.

Marjorie was wearing an oiled rain hat and pulling this lower over her forehead she approached obliquely along the wall of the restaurant. Gregory had his back to her and she had a very good view of his companion. Shockingly, she recognised the chin that was being rapturously held by Gregory’s hand. It was Melanie Blake, her own next-door neighbour, a divorcee and supposed best friend to Gregory’s wife Elizabeth.

Marjorie had backed up the high street towards her car where she found a policeman about to write a ticket. In the ensuing pleading, begging and eventual satisfactory tyre change by the rather handsome young officer, Marjorie almost forgot the wonderfully juicy revelation she had been privy to. Almost, but not quite. By dinnertime that night the secret was out and Elizabeth Davenport had received several commiserating telephone calls.

Hence the tears in the kitchen. Gregory was gone, presumably to obtain sympathy from his paramour, now that he had been forcibly ejected from the marital home. Elizabeth had thrown the appallingly dreadful dinner service, that his mother had given them for a wedding present at his head when he had proposed that he have his cake and eat it. She now contemplated the shattered crockery and thought it rather nicely summed up her marriage.

There were some compensations. Her children were both very well adjusted and intelligent girls, at university in their first and second years. They rather flummoxed her by not being surprised at the news and Elizabeth was mortified to think that they had known about their father’s affair and had kept it to themselves. In fact, it appeared that they were not the only ones with prior knowledge, as more and more people rang to commiserate with her and to glean any further gossip that might have slipped through the normal channels.

Something else began to rankle and that was the realisation that up to now, she, Elisabeth, had participated rather vigorously in this community news machine that was now focussed on her, and she did not like it one bit.

She had been the perfect wife, looked after the children and Gregory, always making sure that their needs came first. She had not looked at another man since she had become engaged. Well, perhaps that was an exaggeration. She had looked, but she had certainly not touched. This was her reward and a lonely old age beckoned. She was forty-five years old and on the scrap heap. Well, he was going to have to pay, and first thing in the morning she would be contacting her solicitor.

Elizabeth stretched like a cat in the warm sun as she continued to follow the progress of the Adonis up the beach. There was a small wooden gate that separated the sand from the lawn of her villa. He opened it and suddenly noticed her looking in his direction. The dazzle from his white-toothed smile nearly scorched her already overheated skin.

Following her rather emotional but productive meeting with her solicitor, Elizabeth had rung her cousin Susan. Susan had been through the same life-changing situation two years ago and had been lucky enough to retain a rather basic but lovely holiday villa in the south of Spain. It was on an undeveloped part of the coastline, near a small fishing village with a couple of restaurants and a small grocery shop. There were no golf courses in the area, no tourist attractions and it was a perfect hideaway to retreat to, especially as Gregory would no doubt be desperate to speak to her when he received the first broadside from the lawyers.

It was bit laborious to get to the village but once there, Elizabeth unpacked and took to her bed. The sun-bed! Two months later and here she was, still bedridden, but it was hardly due to grief and desperation.

What her cousin had failed to tell her was that the house came with a sitting tenant. In exchange for gardening and keeping an eye on the villa in its owner’s absence, a young musician called Ramon was ensconced in the spare bedroom.

He had been out on the evening that Elizabeth arrived and so they did not collide until the next morning when they both attempted to shower at the same time. Ramon was only clothed in a very small towel and Elizabeth was just wearing a smile. Fleeing to her bedroom she only had time to hear a wonderfully rich laugh coming from the bathroom before locking her door and throwing herself on the bed and under the covers.

Two days later and they had progressed to verbal intimacy. This had not been easy as Ramon’s English was broken and Elizabeth insisted on speaking her half-remembered school French to him, as that was the only foreign language she had ever tried to learn.

That an understanding was reached was largely due to the chemistry that sprang up between them. Elizabeth felt that she was in a permanent state of shock, with stomach churning, weak-kneed anticipation every time she was near him. He, for some reason, found her fascinating and they would sit closer and closer together as they tried to communicate.

Finally, on the third day, the inevitable happened and for the first time in her life, Elizabeth Davenport visited foreign delights that she never knew existed. If she thought her husband’s affair had been a revelation it was knocked into insignificance by far more explosive forces. Life in England, the divorce and any thoughts of the future were dismissed as she threw herself whole-heartedly into this new and wonderful adventure.

As Ramon approached her across the brown grass, Elizabeth smiled at him and extended her hand towards him. She could see drops of seawater clinging to his oiled brown skin and she knew that it would take several hours to dry him thoroughly.

Elizabeth woke with a start and heard her daughter coming up behind her.

“Mum you’ve let your tea get cold again”. Jane was a good girl and Elizabeth was staying with her while she recovered from a replacement hip operation. Seventy-five years old and they had said that she would have a new lease of life, the new hip good for at least fifteen years. That was a bit optimistic but it she lived to ninety she would not have any complaints.

“Don’t worry darling, I was getting a bit hot and bothered out here in the conservatory and I think a glass of that lovely chilled Cava would be much nicer”.

As Jane went off to the kitchen, Elizabeth closed her eyes briefly to see if she could recapture that wonderful and breath-taking interlude all those years ago. It was gone but she knew that it would come back to her. She was returning to Spain soon, having made an excellent recovery. Back to the villa that she had bought from Susan with some of the proceeds from her divorce.

Of course thirty years on, apartments and hotels surrounded it, but it was still a little oasis with access to the now public beach. It had been lovingly renovated over the years and the garden was absolutely wonderful. Ramon adored growing her flowers and bringing them to her when he came home from the hotel he managed in Marbella. They had never married, but the fifteen years age difference between them had not made the slightest dent in their passion or love for each other.

Elizabeth smiled to herself. Soon she would be lying on her sunbed on the patio watching Ramon come out of the sea and across the sand towards her. Her breath caught in anticipation.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Thank you for dropping by and I hope you enjoyed.. as always your feedback is very welcome. Sally

Smorgasbord Short Stories – Flights of Fancy Anthology – Curtains by Sally Cronin


As I work away in the background I thought I would leave you some more of the stories from Flights of Fancy which was my first short story collection.. For those of you who have read before, I promise to post one of the new stories in a week or so to prove I have been writing and not fooling around.. Here is Curtains… a story of young love in World War I that had to survive separation and tragedy.

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Curtains by Sally Cronin

The curtains at the small window fluttered in the slight afternoon breeze. The doctor has told me to rest, so here I am, tucked up under the pink eiderdown, a cup of tea cooling on the bedside cabinet.

I am not ill; I have just been overdoing it a bit lately. There has been a great deal of excitement in the family, my great grandson has just got married, and I was not going to miss out on something like that. After all, I had my reputation to uphold, as the fashion doyenne of the family. Much had been made of my emerald green suit with extravagant, black, straw hat. I had heard their comments ‘Trust Sarah to stand out in a crowd’ and ‘Doesn’t she look marvellous for her age’.

No, I was definitely not going to miss the opportunity to show that there was life in the old girl yet. It was a bit depressing really, as although I am nearly ninety, I still feel like a young girl inside. I often sit and remember the old days when I was in my late teens and early twenties. Those pre-war years were so much fun. The first war had been dreadful, taking away so many young men, that those who were left behind felt the need to live life to the full. It was almost as if we knew that the good times could not last. A premonition, that was to be fulfilled far too soon in our young lives.

I must admit that it is rather cosy, lying here under the cover, letting my mind wander. The curtains dancing at the window in their silly way are quite hypnotic. If I close my eyes, they seem to change colour from pale green to a pretty, flowery pattern, very similar to the first pair that hung at the same windows over sixty-five years ago.

‘Sarah, Sarah.’ I could hear my mother’s voice calling to me up the stairs. ‘Hurry up, your cousin will be arriving at the station soon, stop admiring yourself in the mirror and come down here.’

‘I’m coming mother.’ I called down, and with a quick adjustment to my saucy new, feathered hat, and a quick admiring glance in the mirror, I raced down the stairs in a very unladylike fashion.

My mother stood in the hall, her white apron gleaming in the dim light; sleeves rolled up and flour dusting her arms. I smiled; she always managed to get a white patch of flour on the end of her nose whenever she baked.

‘Sarah, how many times have I told you to act like a lady?’ She paused, mystified as to how she had produced someone as clumsy as me. ‘You are too old to be galloping around like a carthorse, try and behave with a little more decorum please.’

From my vastly superior height, I leant down and planted a kiss on her cheek.
‘Sorry mother, I’m going right now, have we got some of your special cake for tea?’

‘Food, food, food, don’t you ever think of anything else, you will end up fat and no one will want you.’

I laughed and opened the front door, and when I reached the little white gate, I turned and waved at my mother, standing in the cottage doorway. She lifted her hand and smiled, she looked so beautiful that I raced back and gave her a hug.

‘Oh Sarah,’ she laughed, ‘get along with you.’

I ran back down the path and crossed the village square to the small railway station. I arrived just as the train was pulling in, and as I reached the platform, the train doors started to open. Not many people were getting off at our village and I excitedly scanned all the faces as they appeared. Suddenly I saw Peter, my cousin, in his smart new uniform and I ran down the platform and was swept into his arms.

‘Peter, it’s so lovely to see you, and you look so handsome.’ He hugged me tightly and breathlessly I looked over his shoulder and up into a pair of twinkling blue eyes.

‘Do I get one of those too?’ A deep voice with a soft Irish brogue said.

I blushed furiously, and disentangled myself from my cousin’s arms.

‘Sarah, I hope that your mother won’t mind, but I have brought a friend of mine from the camp for tea?’ Peter smiled.

‘This is Patrick, Patrick meet my scatter-brained cousin, Sarah.’

For some reason, as soon as Patrick took my hand, I started to tremble. I was never usually at a loss for words, but right now, I couldn’t think of one single thing to say. He just kept smiling, holding my hand and looking down at me from his great height.

I came back to the present with a little start. I realised that I was breathless; the memory of our first meeting had exactly the same effect on me now, as it had then. I felt quite light-headed and as I looked at the curtains, they seemed to change colour again to a deep rich blue.

It was my wedding night and I lay in the big bed, staring at the new dark blue curtains, made by my mother in honour of the new status of my childhood bedroom, as bridal chamber. As I lay waiting for Patrick, I tried to calm my nerves by going back over this wonderful, exciting day. My beautiful dress, the simple service in the small village church and the reception at the hall in the square. Wartime had almost been forgotten, as dashing young men in uniform twirled the pretty village girls around the dance floor.

There was no time for a honeymoon, as Patrick had to re-join his unit tomorrow. My mother and father had gone to stay with an aunt and uncle for the night, and now we were alone together. I sensed movement by the bedroom door and I realised that Patrick was standing there watching me. He had removed his shirt and as I looked at his finely muscled, strong body, I shivered.

‘Are you afraid little Sarah?’ he said softly. I nodded; I could feel the trembling of my knees beneath the covers. ‘I love you Sarah, and I want tonight to be very special for you, something for you to look back on when I leave tomorrow.’

I reached up and touched his bare arm. With my other hand, I drew back the covers and without another word, he slipped off the rest of his clothes and lay down beside me. I felt his arms go around me, he kissed my lips softly and then with more urgency. His passion enveloped me and I felt myself responding with sensations running through my body that I had never known existed. Those feelings took over, blocking out my fear. As his hands caressed me, the girl disappeared leaving a woman deeply in love.

In the morning, I lay with my head on his shoulder. The window was open and the curtains moved gently back and forth across the opening. I sighed happily and felt Patrick stir beside me. We made love again, gently, slowly, only too aware that our time together was running out. I tried desperately to put the thought of his leaving out of my mind, but a cold fear of what the future might hold in store for us began to grow inside me.

The next time we lay together in our bed it was winter, and the curtains were drawn to shut out the cold, grim day outside. Patrick had been wounded and had come home from hospital the week before. He had changed so much in the year he had been away, his blue eyes were pain filled and he had lost a great deal of weight. He would lie upstairs in our bed for hours, recovering in body, but something was terribly wrong. He would smile occasionally, and accept everything that my mother and I did for him quietly and gratefully, but as if we were strangers. At night, we would lie in bed, not touching and if I reached out my hand to him, he would gently draw away and turn over silently to face the wall.

I felt devastated, as if I had been wounded too. I didn’t know what to say or do and I finally turned to my mother for help.

‘Be patient Sarah, give him time,’ she said softly. ‘We don’t know what he has been through, apart from being wounded; he must have seen some dreadful things in the last year. Keep loving him and let him know you care.’

This particular morning, I rose quietly, knowing he would only be dozing. I went downstairs and met mother coming out of the kitchen.

‘There’s an official letter for Patrick,’ she looked at me worriedly. ‘I do hope that they don’t want him back yet, he’s just not ready.’

I walked slowly up the stairs and opened the bedroom door. Patrick turned his head towards me and saw the letter in my hand. He held out his own and I gave him the envelope but I could not bear the suspense, and I left the room and stood with my back to the door on the landing. There was a moment of silence and then I heard great, tearing sobs coming from inside the room. I couldn’t bear the strain any longer and I flung open the door and threw myself on the bed beside him. I put my arms around him and held him tightly. The sounds that he made were terrible, I could feel his hot tears on my skin and I cried with him. I caught my breath as I felt his arms take mine and put them by my side and the next thing I knew, I was crushed against him and this time it was his arms that brought comfort.

‘Sarah, darling Sarah,’ he said haltingly. ‘I don’t have to go back; I don’t have to leave you again.’

We talked a great deal that morning. It was not fear for himself, that had caused him to be so distant, only the feeling that if he didn’t touch me, love me, share things with me, it would be easier for me when he left again. He couldn’t bear the thought of leaving me with a child, knowing as he now did, that there was a distinct possibility that he might never return. As we talked all that fear was swept away and when we hesitantly made love, I felt that he had finally come home.

The blue curtains fade away, to be replaced by a bright, cheerful pair. The bedroom had been redecorated and in the corner stood a crib. I lay in bed listening to the gentle snuffling noises, which filled the room, and I had never felt so happy in my life. I heard Patrick coming up the stairs and open the door. I turned and smiled at him.

‘You’re awake then,’ he said softly. ‘Is she awake too?’

I looked at the crib that held our daughter Elizabeth. ‘Not yet, but as soon as she gets hungry, we will all know about it.’

‘Sarah, I have something to say to you.’ I looked at him and saw the bleakness in his eyes.
‘I have to go back.’ He gripped my hand tightly in his. ‘My regiment is going to be returning to France in the next few weeks and I need to go with them. They say that in the next few months we could end this war and they need every trained man they can find.’

I stared at him, hoping that this was all a bad dream.

He gently placed his finger across my lips before I could speak.

‘I have been so happy this last year, now that I have you and the baby everything is complete and I can’t bear the thought of leaving you, but please try to understand.’

The tears poured down my cheeks and I realised that I was back in the present again. The sights and sounds of the past faded away and the gentle knock on the door reminded me that I was not alone. I rubbed my wet face with a tissue.

‘Come in,’ I called, trying to control my quivering voice. My daughter Elizabeth stood in the doorway.

‘It’s four o’clock mum,’ she said. ‘I thought you might like another cup of tea before I go home.’

She looked at me carefully. ‘You still look very tired mum, are you sure you’re feeling alright, would you like me to call the doctor back again?’

‘No darling, I’m fine, just a little tired, that’s all,’ I smiled reassuringly. ‘It was all the excitement of the wedding on Saturday, it’s not every day that you see your great grandson walk up the aisle, and I must have overdone it a bit.’

Elizabeth sat on the edge of the bed and took my hand in hers.

‘Actually, I was having a lovely dream,’ I looked up into her youthful looking face. ‘It’s hard to believe that it is over sixty years since your father was killed. I so wish that you could have known him.’

It is night now and Elizabeth has gone home with the promise of returning first thing in the morning. My companion, Betty has been in with a lovely cup of cocoa and gone to bed, as tired with the last few days’ activities as I was.

The window is open slightly and the curtains drawn back to reveal a clear, starry sky. I feel so tired, but somehow content, my eyelids drop and then I hear his voice as clearly, as if it was yesterday. His soft gentle tones came from the end of my bed. My eyes open suddenly; I am trembling and excited, my heart pounding in my chest.

He is there, in his uniform, looking so handsome and as strong as ever. He is smiling and his arms are outstretched towards me.

‘Sarah, darling, I’ve come to take you home with me; I have been waiting for such a long time.’

I flew into his arms, feeling them close around me. I felt so young, so alive and so safe.

Together we walked towards the window, and the fluttering floral curtains of my youth.
I took a last, long look at our bedroom and in the bed, I saw an old woman. Her eyes were closed and she was lying very still. On her face was the most beautiful smile I had ever seen.

©sallycronin Flights of Fancy 2009

Thank you very much for stopping by and I hope you have enjoyed the story.. Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Heartstone: The Drowned Tower by Nicholas Rinth


Todays’ author Nicholas Rinth and released the debut novel, a science fiction fantasy Heartstone – The Drowned Tower on April 18th.

About the book

“If the future was bared before you, would it still be yours? If the past could chase you, would you run from it? If the world crumbled tonight, would you carve your own?”

Freedom is out of the question for practitioners of the Institute, and any supporters otherwise are dealt with violently. A system Sylvie Sirx neither refutes, nor endorses—born from an enviable family, talented in her skills, and entirely too content with her position, her path has always been a straight one… until now.

Her qualifications backfire when an elder from the north descends upon her home for a Choosing. He calls upon the Drowned Tower’s most sought after practitioners for a simple job that ends in blood, and then Sylvie’s blissful world erupts. She finds herself in the company of the Elementalist, Jacques Dace, an insufferable but deadly enthusiast of personal reform. Together, they’re swept into a spiral of powerful magic and ancient grudges. Where truth bends, stones whisper secrets of the past, and their home lies at the heart of what could very well be Ferus Terria’s next recorded war.

And for once, she is forced to choose a side, learning for herself what it means to master fate.

An early review from Goodreads  Apr 18, 2017 Stu Richard

Without a doubt, this is a book for fantasy lovers. There’s proper lore, a brand new world, deities, classes, religion, and of course, magic… everything you need for fantasy tbh. But with that said, there’s also nothing crazy new about it that hasn’t already been done by the thousands of fantasy novels that have come before it. Old and true. It was a good read, regardless.

I was pleasantly surprised to find the romance in this book to be just a sub-genre. Usually when its listed, there’s so much focus on it that it ruins the rest of the story by giving the characters less time to shine. But here the author gives subtle hints that show you which direction the relationship is going, yet doesn’t focus on romantic relationship building during the story. While reading the first book, I found it to be more about personal growth for the characters, either showing their dreams and aspirations or giving them some. The author also sheds light on the characters’s backgrounds and the overall plot of the story—as well as what’s to come. I hope the relationships get expounded on in the future though. If done right, they could be perfect.

If you’re looking to read this, be sure to be a good fantasy reader and read every bit of world-building because you need to pay attention to certain names or else you won’t get the VERY subtle twist near the end. There are some plot points touched upon in this book like the Mentalists and the First Zenith that I would like to know more of. From the ending, I can tell that the author will (hopefully) explore them in the future.

I eagerly await the sequel

The book is available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Drowned-Tower-Heartstone-Nicholas-Rinth/dp/099882160

Universal book link for all bookstores: https://www.books2read.com/DrownedTower-ebook

About Nicholas Rinth

Now, where to begin? If it wasn’t obvious by my picture to the left, then Nicholas Rinth is actually just a pseudonym—defeats the purpose when I say it, huh?—but this is more for my sake since I’m not a fan of constant reiteration. I prefer writing under a nom de plume, there is comfort in anonymity, however little that may be with the internet nowadays.

I’m the author of a fantasy series called, Heartstone, which you can find more information on in my Books page on my blog. I’m also a huge fan of everything and anything Noel Gallagher. I like the manga, Berserk, and I have a terrible weakness for sweets and coffee. It’s my diet and all I run on. Wont to trance, the only thing that’s really held my attention throughout the years is writing.

I tend to binge write when the mood strikes and procrastinate when it doesn’t. I read books when I can and I like to think I’ve read a lot, but life gets in the way most days, so writing has been my only past time as of late. Though I will make time for the authors that I love. (Erin Morgenstern, David Gaider, JRR Tolkien, Leo Tolstoy, Rainer Maria Rilke, a dozen others.)

Connect to Nicholas Rinth.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34644227-the-drowned-tower
Bloghttps://nrinth.wordpress.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nicholasrinth/
Tumblrhttp://idlelitany.tumblr.com/
Twitterhttps://twitter.com/nicholasrinth
Amazon Author Centralhttps://www.amazon.com/-/e/B071CPG7WM

It would be great if you could help spread the word of this brand new author across your own networks.. thanks Sally

Join Nicholas Rinth and 200 other authors on the shelves of the bookstore.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

Smorgasbord Short Stories – The Flying Officer by Sally Cronin

Status


The first time Patrick Walsh saw her, was as he wended his way slowly down the hill between the slow moving trucks on his motorbike. The road was lined with women and old men who were handing out hastily cut sandwiches and mugs of tea to the men in the trucks, whose outstretched hands gratefully received these simple acts of kindness. It was clear from the their faces that they found the peaceful summer skies overhead, and clamour of women’s voices, a much needed reminder of home and safety.

He knew where they had come from, as for the last six days he had been flying over them as they had scrambled into small boats to be ferried out to the larger naval vessels waiting to take them to safety. He and his squadron were a part of the massive air defence operaton. Thousands of soldiers were pouring off the beaches having gathered over the last few days from the surrounding countryside; exposed and being attacked by superior German forces. On the last run today his spitfire had received a direct hit to the cockpit from a persistent Messerschmitt Me 109; luckily missing his head by inches apart from a cut over his eye, earning him a few hours respite. His plane would be ready to fly first thing in the morning. The ground crews at all fighter squadrons were working around the clock to get pilots back in the air until the evacuation from the French coast was complete.

As he carefully maneuvered between the trucks he responded to the shouts from the men above him with a small wave. He knew that their good natured jibes were aimed at his uniform and the wings that it displayed, and that their friendly ribbing was their way of showing gratitude. He decided that it would be easier to wait until the convoy had passed to continue into the village square. He dismounted, standing by the hedge to watch the villagers as they persisted in their need to comfort these dispirited men with tea and offerings of food.

She stood out from the crowd of women. Tall with long red hair tied back with an emerald green ribbon, she was dressed in overalls and wore heavy boots. She had a natural elegance as she darted between an older woman, holding a tea tray piled with jam sandwiches, and the trucks. Despite the men’s exhaustion, eager hands grasped the food, winking and flirting with the prettiest thing they had seen for a long while.

Patrick leaned back against the saddle of his bike and let himself enjoy this brief moment of humanity that was so rare today. He had been flying since the first weeks of the war and his squadron had suffered huge losses; particularly in the last few weeks as they had provided air cover for the retreating British forces. They had been warned that far worse was to come as the enemy amassed both fighters and bombers for an all-out offensive on the country. Having already lost many friends, Patrick knew that it was only a matter of time before he became a statistic.

Some of his fellow pilots and aircrew decided that they would live as hard as they fought. There were plenty of pretty girls around the station that were delighted to dance the night away and bring some laughter and sometimes love into the young men’s lives. He had seen the results of these whirlwind romances at the Saturday night dance in the village hall. As the airmen arrived in an ever changing group of young men, expectant faces would be watching the door and it was not unusual to see a girl being led away in tears by her friends.

Patrick loved to dance but gently refused the invitations to take to the floor and over the last few months he had become regarded as something of a misery. His friends gave up on their attempts to persuade him that he should live for the moment, and with a wry smile he listened to the chat up lines that were guaranteed to pull the heartstrings of a pretty girl.

But now as he watched the red head flying back and forth and smiling up at the men in the trucks, he felt an overwhelming urge to hold her in his arms and waltz around a dance floor. He shook his head and reminded himself that it would only lead to heartbreak for her, and he couldn’t bear the thought of those beautiful green eyes filling with tears.

An hour later the last truck in the convoy disappeared through the village square and out of sight. There would be more coming through from the coast, and Patrick watched as the crowd of villagers gathered up their cups and trays and disappeared back into their homes. They would prepare more from their meagre rations for the next wave of returning soldiers and be waiting for them by the roadside. He remained by the hedge until the red headed girl had linked arms with her mother and entered her house before riding down to the square.

‘Patrick, are you awake my friend?’ The voice of his Polish friend Jakub intruded into his daydream about dancing with his stunning red head.

‘Just about, do you want to go to the Black Swan for a beer? He sat up and rested his head in his hands and tried to bring his mind back to reality.

He looked around the Nissen hut that was their home, taking in the four empty cots that waited for the new arrivals. They would be mostly teenagers with only a few hours flying solo, and none of them in combat. He was only twenty-four, but he felt like an old man compared to the fresh faced and eager boys that would come through that door tomorrow.

It was now August and the skies were filled with formations of enemy bombers most nights. His plane was grounded again having the undercarriage repaired after a problem on his last landing. His mechanic said he had the ‘luck of the Irish’. Patrick was well aware that he was now one of only a handful of pilots remaining from the original group a year ago; he knew that his luck was bound to run out sooner or later. There was just one thing that he needed tonight, and that was the sight of Red, and she would be helping out her dad behind the bar at the Black Swan.

Two hours later he and Jakub sat quietly at a corner table with their glasses of beer. One beer was the limit as both of them would be back in the skies tomorrow; a cockpit was no place for lack of concentration. Jakub was married and expecting his first child and was happy to sit quietly in the warm and welcoming atmosphere thinking about his next leave in a week’s time. Patrick however spent his time watching Red as she served customers and laughed with the regulars. That laugh was in his head and was added to all the other pieces of her that he carried with him as he flew missions. The thought of those green eyes helped dispel the voice of the other constant companion that was by his side each time he buckled himself into the cockpit. Her presence in his heart and mind had helped him control his fear; bringing the realisation that he was in love for the first time in his life.

Over the weeks since that first day on the hill, there had been moments in the pub, when he would catch her eye and they would both smile then look away. By sitting at the bar when he popped in alone, he had gathered more information about her. She wasn’t called Red of course, but Georgina and Georgie to her friends. She didn’t seem to have a boyfriend amongst the regulars who frequented the pub, and one day he overheard that she had been engaged to a soldier who had been killed within weeks of the war starting.

He would watch as she gently refused all attempts by eager young warriors to take her on a date, realising that her heart had already been broken. This reinforced his resolve not to give in to the growing need to tell Georgie of his feelings; convinced it would only bring her further sorrow.

Through the rest of the summer months missions intensified, with both daylight and night bombing raids on the docks and major cities; almost bringing the country to its knees. In the October the tide began to turn, but not without the loss of thousands of fighter pilots and bomber air crews. It was then that Patrick’s luck ran out as he limped home with a badly damaged plane and shrapnel injuries in his chest and arm.

Patrick fought to stay conscious as the plane shuddered and bucked as he flew using his one good hand. Blood from a head wound almost blinded him, but as he saw the runway rushing up to meet him, he managed to bring the nose around and head for the grass to the side. The last thing that he thought about as the world went black was Georgie’s face and laugh.

A month later Patrick got one of the pilots to drop him off at the Black Swan and he walked into the early evening quiet of the bar. He had just received his new orders on his return from the hospital. From Monday he would be moving into an intelligence role where his experience in combat could be put to use. He was making a good recovery, but the extensive injuries to his arm meant the end of his flying career; now he would be ensuring that he kept others safe in the skies. In one way he felt that he was abandoning those that he regarded as family in their close knit squadron, but he also knew that it offered him the opportunity to fulfil a dream that was equally important.

Georgie was polishing glasses and looked up to greet the new customer with her usual smile but instead she took a deep breath. As he moved closer Patrick could see that there were tears in her glorious green eyes. Georgie stepped out from behind the bar and walked towards him, glancing at his arm in its sling and the scar that was etched into his forehead. She stood in front of him and neither spoke for a moment until he reached out his good arm to take her hand.

‘Is there any chance that you might let me take you to the dance tomorrow night?’

She smiled through her tears. ‘How are you going to be able to dance with only one free arm?’

He pulled her into him and looked down at the lips that he had imagined kissing so many times in the last few months.

‘Don’t worry Red… I’ll manage just fine.’

 

©sallycronin 2017

Thank you for dropping in and I hope you enjoyed the story. Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Author Update – Janice Spina, Jacquie Biggar and Jaye Marie


It must be Spring! It has been a busy week for the authors in the bookstore and today we catch up on reviews and new releases.

First author up is J.E. Spina.. also known as award winning children’s author Janice Spina. Her latest short story collection, An Angel Among Us is receiving some great reviews.

About An Angel Among Us

A collection of short stories that covers several genres including romance, grief/loss, mystery, suspense, sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal. This book is dedicated to a courageous friend who passed this year. The first story is specially created for her and is the inspiration for the title of this book.

Here are two of the latest reviews for the collection.

A thumbs up! on March 23, 2017

I have read many of Janice Spina’s books and have never been disappointed. She writes with clarity and warmth. She doesn’t shy away from delving into another genre, as is evidenced by this eclectic collection of short stories.
The author’s tribute to her friend is heartwarming and is just the first story in this delightful collection. I recommend An Angel Among Us to everyone, as there are stories from multiple genres that are sure to appeal.

This book can be read all at once or story by story. It is perfect for those who don’t have a lot of time but want something to read with their coffee or before bed or whenever they have a few minutes without committing to a full-length book. An Angel Among Us gets a thumbs up from me.

Author Janice Spina is talented and versatile as you’ll see when you read this collection of short stories. You’re sure to find stories you love and tales full of surprises. The title story about the author’s friend, Anne, is unforgettable. I highly recommend this book. You’re sure to enjoy these stories and reread your favorites. Pick up your copy today and start enjoying the treasures created by Janice.

Read all the reviews and buy An Angel Among Us: https://www.amazon.com/Angel-Among-Us-Short-Collection-ebook/dp/B06XGWP7FS

Also by J. E. Spina

A selection of books as Janice Spina for children.

Read about Janice Spina, the reviews and find all of her books: https://www.amazon.com/Janice-Spina/e/B00HNET4HG

Connect to Janice via her website: https://jemsbooks.wordpress.com/

Our next author is USA Bestselling Author Jacquie Biggar whose latest book Missing: The Lady Said No – A Chandler County Novel is due out on April 27th. You can purchase now at the Pre-order price of $2.46.

About the book

The Race is on to find a Killer in the heart of Kentucky horse country

Detective Augustus Grant is faced with his most baffling case to date. Well-respected race horse breeder John Jorgenson is murdered in his den days before the Kentucky Derby and the list of suspects is growing.

Complicating matters, Gus’ ex-girlfriend is the last person to have seen the victim alive.
Rebecca Hayes owes the Jorgenson family her loyalty. They gave her a new life after a disastrous affair leaves her alone and pregnant.

With all the evidence pointing in Becky’s direction, will Gus do his duty?
Or follow his heart?

Buy the book for the Pre-order price: https://www.amazon.com/Missing-Lady-Chandler-County-Novel-ebook/dp/B01N1581ZC

Jacquie Biggar was promoted earlier in the year for her previous release The Beast Within –  Mended Souls Volume II and it is time to catch up with one of the latest reviews for the series.

This is a great addition to the Mended Souls series. I loved tagging along with Julie Crenshaw as she went from grieving widow to feisty journalist — with a little help from two angels at odds and one (as Ms. Biggar so perfectly describes him) “tall, dark, and annoyingly handsome” detective named Connor O’Rourke. The twists and turns in this story are amazing. Just when you think you know where the adventure is going, it switches to the unexpected. Definitely kept me entertained and on my toes! Loved reconnecting with Lucas, Scott, and Natalya from the first book and meeting new characters as well. My fingers are crossed that I’ll be reading more about Officer Tate in a future book!

A selection of books by Jacquie Biggar

Read all the reviews and find out more about Jacquie Biggar: https://www.amazon.com/Jacquie Biggar/e/B00MSIJQBG

Connect to Jacuie via her website: http://jacqbiggar.com

The last author featured today is Jaye Marie who has written a moving and personal account of her battle with breast cancer. Apple Blossom – The story of one woman’s fight for survival released on 26th of March.

About Apple Blossom

This is the light-hearted and hopefully inspiring story of my battle with breast cancer… written to help women just like me, all over the world…

“I called the story “Apple Blossom” because that is the abiding memory of my time at the hospital. In the radiotherapy room, above the treatment table, some of the ceiling tiles had been replaced with illuminated pictures of apple blossom against a blue summer sky. In the darkness of that room, I stared at those images every day for three weeks, desperately trying to remain calm and as peaceful as I could manage.

Even now, months later, I cannot look at apple blossom without remembering how alone I felt, but also how lucky I was.

Buy Apple Blossom: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B06XWJXZB9

Jaye is also the author of a murder mystery series.

Here is a review for The Ninth Life

If you like the thriller genre that keeps up the momentum then this would be a good read for you. The pace never falters, building up the plot and characters with timely intervention. The author cleverly keeps the story centred around the main character, with the other players coming into the story and yet there are no plot holes or false timings.

Not once did I get bored reading it or find the story faltering at all – definitely one of those where ‘you need to know what happens next’ but I think the author’s gift when writing this is to keep the protagonist centre whilst keeping the reader constantly hooked. The antagonist is typically a nasty character, one whom the reader takes an instant dislike to and the edge he adds to the story is almost palpable.

Other characters are kept to a minimum but play pivotal roles in the story; the good thing here is you never know quite how they will turn out. Will your fears be unfounded? Or did you correctly guess the next step? The ending is not what you would expect (another good talent to have when writing) but you’ll have to read the book!

Learn more about Jaye Marie and her books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jaye-Marie/e/B00O2ZUFOK

Connect to Jaye Marie via her website: https://jenanita01.com/

Thank you very much for dropping by and I hope that you will be kind enough to share the news from these three authors on your own network. And if you would like to join them on the shelves of the bookstore then please take a look at how you can do that. Thanks Sally

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Not by Design – Getting to Mr. Right Series by Carol Balawyder


new-on-the-shelves-update

Delighted to welcome Carol Balawyder to the Cafe and Bookstore with an introduction to her books. The main feature is the most recent in her series Getting to Mr. Right – Not by Design.

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About the Book

In a life turned upside down, Felicity finds joy is sometimes just around the corner.

Ever since she first appeared in Getting To Mr. Right, Felicity Starr has been struggling to find her own kind of contentment. Now, at thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is about to break into the world of fashion design, and caught in a flurry of plans for her wedding when calamity strikes.

Her father’s sudden death brings into question the whole meaning of success. Then Marco, the man she’s about to marry, leaves her when he learns of her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis.

Forced to return to Montreal, Felicity finds her life thrust into unexpected turns. As she confronts the on-going challenges presented by her disease, she gains the strength to let go of old beliefs and face her inner truths.

Love, friendship and rewarding work come in different forms and Felicity finds it all in ways she never imagined – in a life that’s not by design.

Just two of the reviews for the book.

When I began reading Not By Design, I expected it to be a twist on a traditional romance novel but was delightfully surprised to find it was much more than just a variation of the conventional romance. Felicity left her father’s company in Montreal and moved to Rome to pursue her career in art causing a rift between Felicity and her father that could not be healed. While in Rome, she found love and a proposal of marriage, along with a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. When Marco, her fiance, learned of her diagnosis, he said, “Arrivederci.” Frightened about what was in store for her in the future, Felicity decided to move back to Montreal where she could have health insurance and be near her life long friends Missi, Suzy, and Campbell. But what frightens her the most is whether or not with her diagnosis, will she ever be able to find true love.

The characters were true to life, and as much as I loved Felicity from the start, I equally disliked Marco. Felicity had a love-hate relationship with her mother Nicole in the beginning, but I was happy to see some of the walls between them torn down and a much better mother-daughter relationship take hold. I love characters that serve to lift up a friend or family member. Missi, Suzy, and Campbell convince her to get a puppy and a cane. Her friend Eduardo, who ran an art gallery, and her new found friend Jeff who walked his dog Clyde at the same dog park where Felicity walked her dog Bonnie, all figure into Felicity’s acceptance of her multiple sclerosis and her outlook on the future.

Third in Carol’s Getting to Mr. Right series, this continues the adventures of Felicity Starr as she continues her struggle to find contentment in a tumultuous world. Thirty-five and living in Rome, Felicity is caught up in a flurry of wedding plans to a man she subconsciously (and sometimes more) is unsure of when calamity strikes. Her father’s sudden death and her struggles with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis prove too much for her fiancee and he leaves her. Daunted but unbroken, Felicity finds strength in these unexpected changes and prepares to embrace a world of new truths.

This is a story so many young women will relate to. Told with the honesty we’ve become used to from Carol Balawyder, she gives us a template for surviving this type of life-changing events. If your life is in turmoil, or if it’s taken directions you didn’t expect, this is the book you should read.

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Not-Design-Getting-Mr-Right-ebook/dp/B01BCUDDPK

Also by Carol Balawyder

gettingtomrright_kindle_small15 51pqvjnxvxl-_uy250_ 41u05mj2lal-_uy250_ mourning-has-brokenRead all the reviews and buy the books: https://www.amazon.com/Carol-Balawyder/e/B00HVETKWM

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About Carol Balawyder

Carol was born in Quebec but now lives in Montreal. After studying Early Childhood Education and spending time amongst the mayhem that is called ‘Kindergarten’, she then went on to obtain a B.A. in Education so that she could teach in High Schools. After the often challenging task of introducing poetry to teenagers Carol moved on to teaching English as a second language.

Fast forward through a trip in her early 20s (involved working passage on a Norwegian cargo ship) to Rotterdam and then to the British Library Museum to read the heavily guarded original Lewis Carroll manuscript of Alice in Wonderland. Then on to Concordia University in Montreal to study Applied Linguistics to M.A level and the publication of ESL books Open For Business and Windows on Sci-Tech under the name of Carol Ann Foumier.

Then came the desire to pen crime novels, and aware that it is expected that these be accurate and factual, Carol obtained a M.Sc. in Criminology. However writing crime stories was put on the back burner, as Carol put her degree to good use, teaching Police Technology and Corrections for 18 years in a college in Montreal. (We all know where to go when we have a crime story line that is not panning out!)

For some people the connection between crime and dating is all too apparent particularly when getting back on the dating scene after a divorce. After a long term relationship the prospect can be daunting and fraught with pitfalls, humour if you can find it and perhaps the need to kiss a lot of frogs.

Connect to Carol.

Goodreads – http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7704883.Carol_Balawyder
Smashwords – https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cbala
Website – http://carolbalawyder.com/
Blog- http://carolbalawyder.com/blog/

Thanks for joining us today and it would be great if you could share with your own connections. And if you would like to be in the Cafe and Bookstore with a crowd of other talented writers then please take a look at how to do that.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/

If you are already in the bookstore and would like to share news of a recent release or a great review then give me a shout on sallygcronin@gmail.com  Thanks Sally

Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – New on the Shelves – Both Sides of Love by Kimberly Wenzler


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I doubt that it has escaped your attention that it is Valentine’s Day on Tuesday.  So what better way to start the week than sharing some romance. I would like to welcome Kimberly Wenzler to the bookstore with her two books Both Sides of Love and Letting Go…

51thptj4l-_uy250_About Both Sides of Love

Twenty-one-year-old Lizzie Adler had everything a young woman could want: she was beautiful, bright, and had both a fun and faithful best friend and a handsome boyfriend with whom she was deeply in love. In one fell swoop, calamity strikes, stripping Lizzie of all that she holds dear. While driving with her best friend, Nan, en route to a party, Lizzie collides with another car.

The results are devastating: Nan doesn’t survive the accident, while Lizzie is forever crippled and disfigured. Lizzie undergoes scores of surgeries and endures ample physical therapy, which ultimately leave her with a face and body she can no longer recognize.

Meanwhile, Daniel has just recently left Lizzie to stay with his ailing grandparents in England. He intended to return to her arms after just one summer. Little did he know that, after months of silence from his beloved, he would receive a cold, curt break-up letter, devoid of explanation.

Unable to bear the pain brought on by memories of who she used to be, Lizzie casts her former identity aside and decides to go by the name of Beth.

Fast forward twelve years, and Beth is now an almost-happily-married stay-at-home mom with a five-year-old daughter, Stacy. Boredom and pressure from her husband, Alan prompt Beth to join Stacy’s school’s PTA. There, she meets Noreen: the first woman she is able to connect with since Nan’s death so many years ago. Beth is delighted to have finally found someone with whom to face the travails of womanhood.

Unfortunately, friendship with Noreen comes at an unexpected-and painfully high- price.

“Both Sides of Love” is a poignant exploration of some of life’s most potent, discomfiting questions. How much are you willing to sacrifice for a friend? Is there such a thing as true love, or “The One?” Is it really possible to bounce back from tragedy–to experience rebirth? Funny, candid, and full of surprises, “Both Sides of Love” is a must-read for anyone who has ever loved, lost, and loved again.

One of the recent reviews for the book

Heart warming read. By xrayer on June 12, 2016

A heart warming story that covers the lifetime of 4 people. When a tragedy happens to Lizzie she goes on with out the love of her life. As the years go bye she finds another love and settles into family life. Her past then comes back to her. What happens when she see the love that she lost.

This is a great read that covers true friendship, family, letting go and second chances. I loved watching all of the characters grow throughout this book. What I loved most is it covered many years of the characters life.

Read all 50 reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Both-Sides-Love-Kimberly-Wenzler/dp/0990590003

51hi9hfihql-_uy250_About Letting Go

The Buchanans are living an idyllic life on Long Island. Max is a successful author, Lucy is his supportive stay-at-home wife, and their only child, Sammy, is the center of their world.

On February 1, 2007 their lives change forever.

A year later, Max is hiding behind writer’s block—shuffling through daily life with minimal effort while eight-year-old Sammy devises his own process of dealing with his upturned world. His secret conversations with his mother give him the strength to adjust to his new life and new family dynamic.

When trouble at school brings Max and Sammy’s teacher together, Max is torn between awakened feelings of need and desire and the love he still harbors for his wife. Sammy forms a closer bond with Benjamin, the troubled teen across the street, who suffers from the pain of his past and plays a dangerous, illegal game. And Lucy, watching as her family unravels, is helpless. Or is she?

One of the excellent reviews for the book.

Ms Wenzler has done it again. In her second novel “Letting Go”, you go on a journey through everyday life with Lucy, a wife, mother, and friend. It is a wonderful story with well-crafted characters and witty dialogue. What I love most about Ms. Wenzler’s writing is how each one of us can relate in some way to one or more of her characters. As I said after reading Ms Wenzler’s first novel “Both Sides of Love” and now “Letting Go”, I cannot wait to see what she has in store for us next.  

Read all the reviews and buy the book: https://www.amazon.com/Letting-Go-Kimberly-Wenzler/dp/0990590011

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About Kimberly Wenzler

Kimberly Wenzler was born and raised on Long Island, New York, where she currently resides with her husband and their two sons. Following the birth of her children, Kimberly decided to work from home and eight years later in 2014 she published her first novel Both Sides of Love. This was followed by Letting Go in 2015.  Her blog brings humor to her personal views on life, writing, and reading.

Where to find Kimberly’s books

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Wenzler/e/B00K7COW96
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22845672-both-sides-of-love
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/kimberly+wenzler?_requestid=349109

Connect to Kimberly
Facebook: www.facebook.com/kimberlywenzler
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kimberlywenzler
Blog: https://kimberlywenzler.wordpress.com/

Thank you for dropping in today and please help spread the news about Kimberly’s books far and wide.  Thanks Sally

If you are in the bookstore, please make sure you keep me up to date with your news.. either a new release or a fantastic review… If you are NOT in the bookstore.. don’t miss an opportunity to join the other authors enjoying regular updates throughout the year.

https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/sallys-cafe-and-bookstore/