The Billionaire Shifter’s Second Chance by Diana Seere

The Billionaire Shifter’s Second Chance
Diana Seere
Publication date: December 5th 2016
Genres: Adult, Paranormal

A wildland firefighter — and mountain lion shifter — Edward is the youngest of the Stanton siblings, and hasn’t touched a woman in a decade, not since his late fiancée was killed in a violent tragedy.

But when he meets the sweet, adorable Molly Sloan, a friend of his new sister-in-law, Lilah… his determination to remain celibate begins to unravel.

Something about Molly is irresistible. Something about her makes him forget the past… and hear the Beat. But Edward will have to fight for her — forces are gathering to use her in ways that might separate them forever.

The Billionaire Shifter’s Second Chance is the third book in the Billionaire Shifters Club series by Diana Seere, the paranormal pen name for two New York Times and USA Today bestselling romantic comedy authors. This book is a standalone *within* a series.

* * *

Welcome to the most exclusive club in the world. The Novo Club. Novo is Latin for “change.” Our members prefer the word “shift” though.

It’s the hottest club in town.

The price of membership is your heart and your secrecy.

All you need to do to join is to be loved beyond your wildest imagination by someone powerful with an…alpha side so primal it’s in their blood.

Are you ready?

Good. Then let’s begin.

The Billionaire Shifters Club is a new series featuring the five Stanton siblings, four brothers and one sister who are all part of an ancient shifter family living in modern America. The subterranean club-within-a-club beneath the streets of Boston, Massachusetts holds secrets only the Stantons and their fellow shifters know.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play / All Romance

EXCERPT:

“Why are you so twitchy?” Sophia asked.

The art exhibit for their brother’s paintings was quite lovely, but Edward Stanton was beginning to deeply regret being a supportive sibling. Leaving his home in Montana, where the air smelled like freedom and people didn’t glare – because there were so few actual people – and coming to this festering hellhole called Boston gave him good reason to twitch.

His sister’s words made him groan inwardly, though. If he told her the truth, she would belittle him. If he lied, she would smell it on him.

Of course she would. She was a bear shifter, with a nose most vintners would kill to possess. Sophia could smell emotions. She could sniff out subterfuge and intrigue, sex and anger. He was certain she could smell lottery ticket winners, if she tried.

Not that a billionaire heiress would need such a skill.

Edward steeled himself, wishing he could hide scent the way he had trained himself to hide emotion. Even shifters had limits, sadly.

“I’m tired. The jet seats weren’t comfortable,” he lied. A powerful hum from some sort of heating and cooling system kicked in, making his back teeth rattle. How much longer must he stay to be polite? The city was full of too many unexpected vibrations and jolts, sounds like jeers and mockery. His head began to throb, a steady beat taking over.

Sophia rolled her eyes and took a small pastry from a tray as a server passed by, stuffing it in her mouth. “You are the worst liar ever. Didn’t you learn a thing from Derry? You would never guess you’re brothers.”

Half brothers, he thought. Of the five Stanton children, Edward was the only one without a full sibling. He was also the only mountain lion shifter. He needed to roam. Desired space.

Craved land.

Downtown Boston, at an art gallery packed into a gentrified district where people lived in apartments the size of thumbnails, was the absolute opposite of what he wanted right now.

But they were here to support Derry in his art, and by God, he would fake his way through this.

Even if Derry just ditched them to reunite with his human mate, the limo speeding them off to Derry’s loft, leaving his cheerleading squad stuck in this gallery, eating overcooked rumaki and pretending to enjoy the other exhibits.

“I know you hate the city,” Sophia said, her voice dropping into a compassionate whisper. “But that was years ago, a random tragedy. We can help you. It’s sweet of you to come here for Derry.”

Edward’s body went cold. He didn’t want to talk about the past. And he certainly did not want to talk about the last time he was in Boston.

“Super sweet!” Molly, his sister-in-law’s friend, approached him and Sophia, her bright blue eyes overly friendly, cheeks flushed with excitement or wine. Or both.

His body responded to her presence, skin heating up, muscles expanding as blood pumped with a ferocious, almost-unfair speed designed to make him ready for…

For something he’d given up a decade ago.

 

Author Bio:

Diana Seere was raised by wolves in the forests outside Boston and San Francisco. The only time she spends in packs these days is at romance writing conventions. In truth, Diana is two New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors who decided to write shifter romance and have more fun. You can find “her” on Facebook at Diana Seere’s Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/dianaseere. Sign up for her New Releases and Sales email newsletter here: eepurl.com/beUZnr

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

XBTBanner1

The Pawn by Skye Warren Blitz

The Pawn
Skye Warren
(Revenge and Seduction #1)
Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

The price of survival…

Gabriel Miller swept into my life like a storm. He tore down my father with cold retribution, leaving him penniless in a hospital bed. I quit my private all-girl’s college to take care of the only family I have left.

There’s one way to save our house, one thing I have left of value.

My virginity.

A forbidden auction…

Gabriel appears at every turn. He seems to take pleasure in watching me fall. Other times he’s the only kindness in a brutal underworld.

Except he’s playing a deeper game than I know. Every move brings us together, every secret rips us apart. And when the final piece is played, only one of us can be left standing.

THE PAWN is a full-length contemporary novel from New York Times bestselling author Skye Warren about revenge and seduction in the game of love.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barne & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

EXCERPT:

A sense of familiarity fills the space between us even though I know we haven’t met. This man is a stranger, but he looks at me as if he wants to know me. He looks at me as if he already does. There’s an intensity to his eyes when they sweep over my face, as firm and as telling as a touch.

“I need…” A thud against my ribs as I think about all the things I need—a rewind button. One person in the city who doesn’t hate me by name alone. “I need a loan.”

He gives me a slow perusal, from the nervous slide of my tongue along my lips to the high neckline of my dress. I tried to dress professionally—a black cowl-necked sweater and pencil skirt. His strange amber gaze unbuttons my coat, pulls away the expensive cotton, tears off the cotton fabric of my bra and panties. He sees right through me, and I shiver as a ripple of awareness runs over my skin.

I’ve met a million men in my life. Shaken hands. Smiled. I’ve never felt as seen through as I do right now. Never felt like someone has turned me inside out, every dark secret exposed to the harsh light. He sees my weaknesses, and from the cruel set of his mouth, he likes them.

His lids lower. “And what do you have for collateral?”

Nothing except my word. That wouldn’t be worth anything if he knew my name. I swallow past the lump in my throat. “I don’t know.”

Nothing.

He takes a step forward, and suddenly I’m crowded against the brick wall beside the door, his large body blocking out the warm light from inside. He feels like a furnace in front me, the heat of him in sharp contrast to the cold brick at my back. “What’s your name, girl?”

The word girl is a slap in the face. I force myself not to flinch, but it’s hard. Everything about him overwhelms me—his size, his low voice. “I’ll tell Mr. Scott my name.”

In the shadowed space between us, his smile spreads, white and taunting. The pleasure that lights his strange yellow eyes is almost sensual, as if I caressed him. “You’ll have to get past me.”

My heart thuds. He likes that I’m challenging him, and God, that’s even worse. What if I’ve already failed? I’m free-falling, tumbling, turning over without a single hope to anchor me. Where will I go if he turns me away? What will happen to my father?

“Let me go,” I whisper, but my hope fades fast.

His eyes flash with warning. “Little Avery James, all grown up.”

A small gasp resounds in the space between us. He already knows my name. That means he knows who my father is. He knows what he’s done. Denials rush to my throat, pleas for understanding. The hard set of his eyes, the broad strength of his shoulders tells me I won’t find any mercy here.

thepawn-teaser-v1

 

Author Bio:

Skye Warren is the New York Times bestselling author of contemporary romance such as the Chicago Underground series. Her books have been featured in Jezebel, Buzzfeed, USA Today Happily Ever After, Glamour, and Elle Magazine. She makes her home in Texas with her loving family, two sweet dogs, and one evil cat.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Pinterest

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

XBTBanner1

The Gilded Cage by Sherry D. Ficklin Teaser Tuesday

 

TEASER TUESDAY
YA/Historical
Date Published: 12/1/16

 

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png
Masie, the flaxen-haired daughter of notorious bootlegger Dutch Schultz, returns home from boarding school to find her family in crisis. Her mother is dangerously unstable, her father’s empire is on the brink of ruin, and the boy she once loved has become a ruthless killer for hire. To keep her family’s dangerous secrets Masie is forced into a lie that will change the course of her future—and leave her trapped in a gilded cage of her own making. As she watches her world fall apart, Masie must decide whether to take her place in the hierarchy, or spread her wings, leaving the people she loves, and the life she despises, far behind her.
Excerpt
“How you feelin’, Mas?” Vinny asks.
Relaxing back into the chair I look up, unable to keep the sour grin from my face. “Never better.”
Releasing me he steps around the table, helping himself to a seat. “That’s not how I hear it. I hear you lay in bed all day feelin’ sorry for yourself”
“Can you blame me?” I ask harshly, straightening in my chair.
He’s still for a minute, then pulls the fedora off his head and plays with it in his hands. “I’m sorry about your ma, she was a fine lady.”
I snort, the booze in my belly making me bold. “She was a nut job and everyone knew it.”
Now he looks up, his thin lips downturned at the edges, “She was good to me.”
Sighing I stand, helping myself to the crystal decanters on the tray. “She loved you like her own,” I offer gently as I pour myself another drink. “It’s the only thing she was good at, loving people. Wasn’t great at taking care of them, though.”
She’d tried to take care of Daddy at first. I know she always secretly hoped he’d change his ways, as if her love could make him a better man. But, as much as they may want to, people don’t really change. Time passes, choices are made, but we are who we are in the end.
“Is there anything I can do?” he asks, twisting in his chair to look at me.
I just hold up my glass, “This seems to be helping.”
Standing, Vinny walks over, taking the glass from my hand he swallows back the contents in one gulp. “Never drink to feel better, Mas. That’s not how the stuff works.”
I frown, pushing past him, “Don’t tell me what to do.”
He stops me, grabbing my arm and pulling me toward him until the tip of his crooked nose is touching my forehead, “I’m not gonna let you throw yourself away like she did.”
His words are sharp and they cut like glass
I shut my eyes against them, against the closeness of him, the heat radiating off his body, the smell of bourbon on his breath. Part of me demanding to push him away, the other part wanting to lose myself in him.
“You left,” he continues, his tone accusatory. “You left so you wouldn’t have to watch—but I watched. I watched the light in her go out. I won’t watch that happen to you, Masie. I can’t. So you’re going to have to be strong. Because we need you. I need you. It’s awful dark here, Mas. We need you to be the light.”
The first tear slips from beneath my closed lids. Maybe it’s the desperation in his voice, or the fact that he’s right, but something in his words strikes me to the core. It’s tempting, far too tempting, to drink the pain away, to let it eat me from the inside out until there’s nothing left to hurt.
But I can’t.
I can’t be like my mother.
I won’t.
 photo readingaddictionbutton_zps58fd99d6.png

Trying Sophie by Rebecca Norinne Book Blitz

trying-sophie-blitz-banner

Trying Sophie

by Rebecca Norinne
Dublin Rugby #1
Publication Date: December 6, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Rugby, Sports Romance

trying-sophie-cover

BUY:

trying-sophie-full-cover-jacket

SYNOPSIS:

She doesn’t date players…
Sophie loves her life: she’s travelled the world and lived by her own rules. But when she finds out about her grandfather’s heart attack, she drops everything and boards a plane to Ireland. Two weeks, that’s the plan. Until one look at her childhood nemesis has her rethinking everything. She’s sworn off athletes, but she might just give him a try…
He’s the biggest player of all.
Sex and rugby. Those were the only two things Declan cared about, right up until his first love waltzed back into his life. Even as he slept his way through Dublin, he never stopped thinking about her. Never stopped wondering if she thought about him, too. So even though he’s never gone after a woman the way he chases down opponents on the field, this time, he won’t let her get away.
On the field, he’s invincible, but she just might break him.
goodreads-badge-add-38px
trying-sophie-teaser-graphic-5

EXCERPT

I dropped my eyes and stared at the floor. “I want you, Declan. Really, I do, but I’m worried about being just another notch on your bedpost.”

Pushing off the window, he crossed the room in three purposeful strides. Wrapping his large hands around my arms, he squeezed them gently. I raised my eyes to his.

“How can I make you see that’s not true?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you can’t.”

When I looked away he groaned and loosened his grip. Trying a different tactic, he asked, “What are you most afraid of?”

Man up Sophie, I thought to myself. If you’re not brave enough to have The Talk, you’re not mature enough to have The Sex.

I couldn’t help how I felt and if we didn’t get this out in the open, it might always be between us. And despite this being a difficult conversation, it was more important to tell him how I felt than to keep it bottled up inside and resent him in the future because I hadn’t been honest with him from the get go.

I took a deep breath and squared my shoulders. “The thing I’m most afraid of is you’re going to be with me today, then turn around and fuck someone else three days from now. I’m worried that if we do this, it’s not going to mean the same thing to you that it’ll mean to me.”

He closed his eyes and exhaled loudly as he pinched his fingers around the bridge of his nose. When he opened them, he dropped his hand and leveled an indecipherable gaze on me.

“How can you think that?”

“I know it’s not fair of me to judge you for your past, but you don’t exactly have a solid track record here. Tell me I’m wrong. Convince me that when we walk out of here you’re not going to think, ‘That Sophie, she was one hell of a lay. Who’s next?’”

“Is that really what you think of me?” he asked somberly.

“That’s what I was talking about earlier,” I answered sadly. “I don’t really know you, do I? What if you forget about me tomorrow?”

“That won’t happen.”

I continued as if he hadn’t spoken because if I didn’t, I’d never say what needed to be said.

“I know I’m leaving soon and less than an hour ago I told you we should just enjoy each other while we had the chance, but I think I’ve been fooling myself. I can’t be casual with you, Declan. If we’re going to be together, it has to be more than just sex.”

My eyes dropped to the patterned rug at our feet and I held my breath, waiting for him to laugh, scoff, or otherwise indicate I was being completely unrealistic with my expectations. Which is why I was taken by surprise when he lifted my chin with his finger and, staring into my eyes, chased away all my doubt and fear.

“Done,” he promised, finality in that one word. “And just so you know, there was never any question that’s what this would be. I’ve thought about this for so long, wanted you as much as I’ve ever wanted anything. I have no intention of screwing up one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”

He rubbed his rough, calloused thumb across my cheek. Dropping his eyes, he cradled my face in his hands and watched his fingers stroke along the apples of my cheeks. Finally, his eyes landed back on mine. “Do you have any idea what you do to me?”

I shook my head because I couldn’t seem to find my voice.

“You ruin me.” He dropped a soft kiss on my lips. “Just completely destroy me,” he added, taking the kiss deeper.

“Let me show you Sophie,” he whispered, his gaze locked on mine. “I promise it’ll be good. I’ll be so good to you.”

I nodded and he licked the seam of my lips. Opening to him, felt the tangle of his tongue against my own, the taste of him imprinted forever on my memory.

“Yes,” I whispered and kissed him back, hungrily.

He scooped me into his arms and carried me to the bed.

trying-sophie-teaser-graphic-6

ABOUT REBECCA NORINNE

rebecca-norinne

Rebecca read her first book when she was four years old and has been hooked on the written word ever since. While working in technology PR in Silicon Valley, she began writing her debut novel and eventually published it six years later. At the end of 2014, she left behind her career in corporate communications to become a full time author. When she’s not writing, you can find Rebecca exploring her new city of Dublin, Ireland, watching Leinster Rugby matches, or traveling the globe searching for inspiration for her next book.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads | Amazon Author Profile

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

trying-sophie-giveaway-graphic

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js
IndieSageBlogger

Wild Poppy by Vivian Winslow Book Blitz

Wild Poppy
Vivian Winslow
(Wildflowers, #4)
Publication date: December 6th 2016
Genres: New Adult, Romance

The daughter of a renown media mogul, Poppy Koslowski has her life turned upside down overnight when her father is indicted for a massive fraud that leads to the loss of her family’s fortune. In the wake of the scandal, Poppy moves to Paris at the behest of her aunt, the Countess Domel, who, unbeknownst to Poppy, intends to find a wealthy husband for her niece in order to ensure her future. Poppy, however, has her own dreams of finishing school and realizing her goal of becoming an award-winning journalist. When she meets Henri Olin, the passionate and seductive illegitimate son of one of France’s most powerful politicians, his political and social ideology introduces Poppy to a world very different from her own. Yet, Poppy ultimately learns that everything comes at a price, even love. After suffering a devastating loss, Poppy finds herself alone and virtually penniless, and is forced to make her way back to America to piece together the remnants of her life in New York City. There, she rediscovers her passion once again, only to be confronted with yet another life choice, one that will forever shape her destiny.

Goodreads / Amazon

Previous books in the series:
26246266 28673317 30182015

EXCERPT:

“What?” He asks, unable to keep from laughing. He knew she’d have a beautiful laugh. He just knew by the way she smiled when she delivered his drink. If only he’d been bold enough to touch her hand when she did. But she doesn’t seem like the kind of person who wants to be touched, at least not without her permission.

“Nothing,” Poppy replies, shifting her weight from one leg to the other. She begins to scrape at the loose gravel in the wall, not caring when she chips a nail.

He lowers his head so he can be eye level with her. Poppy figures he’s at least five inches taller than she is, in heels. “Come on, I can’t be that ridiculous can I?”

Poppy shrugs. “How would I know, we only just met. But I think it’s cute the way your brow goes like this.” She imitates his bemusement, wrinkling her face to make lines between her brows and points to it.

“I don’t look like that.”

Before Poppy can reply, a noise makes her turn toward West 10th again. Just inside the black iron gate that frames the alley, she spots a young woman who looks to be about her age. The woman tosses back her long dark hair as she talks to a guy whose arm is wound tightly around her waist. Poppy recognizes the intimacy, the way every inch of their bodies touch as they speak. She studies their unspoken language, wondering if that’s how she looked with Henri that first night.

A peal of laughter escapes the woman as the guy lifts her hips around his and presses her against the wall, squeezing the flesh beneath her skirt and kissing her neck.

The brown-eyed stranger follows her gaze. “I didn’t think I’d be getting two shows tonight,” he whispers.

The low sound of his voice ignites something in Poppy’s chest that travels down to her cunt. Desire, like everything post Henri and Paul, had seemed like a far-off notion, until tonight that is. Something about this stranger is awakening the kinds of feelings she believed she’d buried. Denial, Poppy realizes, isn’t the same as burying a truth. The former makes you want to pretend something never happened while the latter at least makes you acknowledge it before you shove it so deep underground it can’t touch you. The reality is that Poppy hasn’t been able to do either well. Some days Paris and Paul seem like a faint memory, so distant that it’s as if it all happened in a previous lifetime, while others it’s as if the truth is beating on her so hard that it hurts to breathe. Clearly she has to find a better coping mechanism.

The stranger’s warm breath on the side of her face draws Poppy out of her thoughts again. How easily distracted she is tonight, one thought jumping to the next. She attempts to make them melt together until she can’t distinguish them. It helps to lose herself in the moment, in the now which doesn’t allow any space for the past to reside. She gazes at the enamored couple, although enamored seems like a bit of a stretch. She didn’t love Henri that first night. Not that it took very long to make her feel something akin to love. Sometimes, though, she wonders if she wasn’t just picking up on his emotions and making them her own. He’s the one who pursued her, right? He’s the one who insisted they keep the baby, to get married in order to be a family. Where were her decisions in any of it? She had made them, of course. Her feelings had told her to agree, to make it alright. For whom though? For him? To make Henri happy? To give him some sense of peace and closure regarding his own painful childhood? How much control of her own life had she sublimated in order to make him whole? How much had she really loved him versus how much had she thought she loved him? Can she even remember anymore?

Once again, Poppy swallows back each question like a bitter pill. The answers are a luxury she can’t afford at the moment. There’s no one to give them to her anyway. Poppy tilts her head against the wall and focuses on the couple. She figures there’s no need to give the couple any privacy. If they wanted that, they could’ve chosen a different place. But they didn’t. Instead they opted for an alley, and not a particularly dark one either. They want to be seen, to be on display. It fascinates her to be the voyeur this time. When she was the woman up against the wall, she had never considered what it would be like to watch. God how she loved feeling so uninhibited. God how she misses the freedom that comes with not caring that her actions could ever have consequences. She loved the power she derived from that freedom, how it impressed upon her a feeling of invincibility. She can see on the young woman’s face that she’s experiencing the same thing. It’s the distant gaze that gives her away as the man pushes his cock inside of her. She’s there, but she’s also deep inside herself, taking the energy from the moment and storing it inside of her for a later time. It’s life force she’s seeking, and it’s life force she’s giving. If only she’d known what she would have to give in exchange for what she took, Poppy thinks to herself.

wildpoppy-teaser-1-copy

 

Author Bio:

Vivian Winslow was born and raised in Southern California. Before becoming a writer, she made a career out of moving around the world every couple of years thanks to her husband’s job and her incurable wanderlust. She currently lives in New York City with her husband and two elementary school age children, and is grateful to finally have a place to call home for more than two years.

New York is the perfect city to indulge her love of fashion, the arts and especially food. If she’s not at home writing or running around the city with her kids, you’ll most likely find her eating at the newest restaurant in her beloved Lower East Side or having a cocktail at her favorite bar in Alphabet City. That said, she’s still a California girl at heart and would gladly trade in her heels for a pair of flip-flops to catch a sunset on the beach.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

GIVEAWAY!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

XBTBanner1

Sweet Submission by Sasha Gold

Sweet SubmissionSweet Submission by Sasha Gold
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lilly had not realized when she agreed to go on a singles cruise that she would truly be going alone. Her plans revolved around her friend and helping her get over a bad breakup, but now Lilly is by herself and wondering if she got herself into more than she can handle. Lilly has a simple plan, enjoy the cruise but focus on getting her thesis done.

Liam Erickson is well known on tv for his wilderness show, it seems every living female recognizes hm except a red haired spitfire that peaks his attention. When her room is upgraded and he realizes they are roomies, Liam figures they will have plenty of time to enjoy one another. However, once he gets to know Lilly he realizes how innocent she is and he becomes protective not wanting to share her with anyone. Only for the cruise right?

This was so much fun, I liked that they are opposites and Lilly is trying to get out of her comfort zone a bit. Liam is dynamic, he doesn’t quite know what to do with Lilly initially but he knows he is drawn to her. Look forward to more by this author.

View all my reviews

Lumber and Lace by Lietha Wards

Lumber and LaceLumber and Lace by Lietha Wards
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Brianne wasn’t sure she wanted to travel with her best friend Cara home for the summer break, with four brothers she had heard a ton of stories about she as worried about her reaction to them. Brianne grew up in an abusive home only to be shuttled to foster care only to have it continued and making her unwilling to trust another male again.

Jeb isn’t sure about his sisters best friend Brianne, he is used to having gold diggers befriend all of them only to try and get their hands on their money. He realizes quickly though Brianne is an innocent and sweet woman, one whom he wants badly. Jeb is not a relationship man but with Brianne he finds himself wanting it all.

This was just what I had been looking for an alpha male and a woman who is finding her own wings. First book for me by Lietha Wards and I thought it was great. Good chemistry and story.

View all my reviews

The Gift by Riley Edwards New Release Blitz

Title: The Gift
Author: Riley Edwards
Genre: Erotic Romance
Release Date: December 5th 2016
A Sadist and His slave
A relationship between a Sadist and His slave is an intense, overwhelming, and powerful journey. A bond that is forged out of mutual need. The trust that is built with the giving and receiving of extreme pain.
This is our story. A small glimpse into how our journey began. How I took the gift of my slave’s submission and turned it into our forever.

Continue reading

Still Air by Freya Baker Release Blitz

 

Contemporary Romance
Date Published:  December 5, 2016
Portland, ME, novels Book 4

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

Deprival haunted her…
Regret troubled her…
Silence left her detached…
A life in the service of others is both penance and a blessing. She soothes her personal hell by pulling victims from theirs, helping them on their path to survival; never finding her own
When a crippling blow finally evaporates her last hope, the temptation to give up is strong. Still, she can’t find it in her to turn her back on those who need her: the innocent, whose rescue is her perpetual goal.
He was blind, but now he sees how his family has sifted through his fingers. The reality hits hard when his son becomes a stranger, slipping deeper into transgression. Concern has him call on the one person he fears will see his own failures all too clearly. A woman he’s kept his distance from for his own protection.
What appeared to be an incompatible pairing, turns out the unyielding bond needed to heal them all.
Portland, ME Series, Novels Book One
August 6, 2015
Pain punished her.
The bottle numbed her.
Guilt kept her trapped.
In the dark alley of a pub, the words “Please don’t” take hold of her heart and break the silence she seeks. Thinking herself beyond redemption, she tentatively grabs on to the slim thread of hope that unfolds inside of her.
Holding her secrets close, she can’t resist the comforting draw coming from The Skipper. The unconditional friendships it offers, the protective roof it provides, and the spark that its owner ignites in her–melting the frost off her heart, and slowly stripping away her resistance.
His life flows from one crisis to the next. Under the pressure of competition crowding him out of his family’s pub and the need to protect his children from the ruins of a bad marriage, he barely breathes. That is until a mane of strawberry-blonde hair and a set of big, pale blue eyes, shake him up.
He never expected the shadow of a woman he finds on the floor of his washroom to bring him the air―the balance and the light he’s been missing.
Portland, ME, novels Book 2
Published: March 3, 2016
Innocence marked her…
Violation crippled her…
Love left her raw…
The life she carefully rebuilt is challenged when she is confronted with the sins from her past. The carefully applied protection is at once ripped away, leaving her exposed and vulnerable.
Her single night of indulgence with the silver-eyed stranger is only the beginning. He sees right to the heart of her and she is unable to ward off emotions that have been deeply buried. With the sting of betrayal still fresh in her soul, she’s surprised to find herself opening up to the honest integrity of the sharp-eyed, rough-looking biker.
When he lost everyone who mattered, he was left without roots and learned to be content simply living in the moment. Completely unprepared for the feisty blonde bartender with old pain marring her clear-blue eyes, he questions his own rules of detachment, as she unwittingly finds a way under his skin.
Appearances deceive and when the masks fall away, revealing deep, dark secrets, there is nothing left but to hang onto each other and survive the storm.
Portland, ME, novels Book 3
Published: July 2016
Violence corroded her…
Obedience defiled her…
Fear kept her chained…
Freedom is hard to embrace when she’s never learned to trust. Yet in the span of a second, she grabs a single opportunity and runs toward it. Straight into the sanctuary of a pub at the end of a wharf.
She doesn’t understand the concept of friendship. She’s never felt the connection of a relationship. She’s as innocent as the driven snow and yet tainted with corruption. Still, she finds herself surrounded by people who accept her, without even knowing the first thing about her. But one of them is determined to dig deeper.
He treasures his friends, yet he’s steered clear of committed relationships. He likes his life comfortably predictable and entirely controlled. Until it isn’t. For months he’s avoided interacting with The Skipper’s newest addition. Perhaps realizing that once he looked deeply into those liquid brown eyes, he wouldn’t be able to turn away.
When his present and her past puts them both on the brink of change, they are forged through fire as one.
About the Author
Freya Barker inspires with her stories about ‘real’ people, perhaps less than perfect, each struggling to find their own slice of happy. She is the author of the Cedar Tree Series and the Portland, ME, novels.
Freya is the recipient of the RomCon “Reader’s Choice” Award for best first book, “Slim To None,” and is a finalist for the 2016 Kindle Book Awards for “From Dust”. She currently has two complete series and three anthologies published, and is working on two new series; La Plata County FBI—ROCK POINT, and Northern Lights. She continues to spin story after story with an endless supply of bruised and dented characters, vying for attention!
Contact Links
Purchase Link
 
 photo readingaddictionbutton_zps58fd99d6.png

Wake Up Call by Amy Avanzino Blog Tour

wake-up-call-banner-copy

blog tour

wake_up_call_cover_front

Book Title: Wake-Up Call
Author: Amy Avanzino
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Hosted by: Book Enthusiast Promotions

Goodreads

book blurb

Sarah Winslow wakes up with a terrible hangover…and a kid in her boyfriend’s bed. She makes the horrifying discovery that, due to a head injury, it’s not a hangover. She’s got memory loss. Overnight, five years have disappeared, and she’s no longer the hard-living, fast-track, ad executive party girl she thinks she is. Now, she’s the unemployed, pudgy, married, stay-at-home-mom of three kids under five, including twins.

As she slowly pieces together the mystery of how her dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely in five short years, she finds herself utterly failing to manage this life she can’t imagine choosing. When Sarah meets the man of her dreams, she realizes she’s got to make a choice: Does she follow her bliss and “do-over” her life? Or does the Sarah she’s forgotten hold the answers to how she got here…and how she can stay?

excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

The moment I wake up I know I’m in trouble. I try and caution a peek at my surroundings but I can’t get my eyes to focus. I feel nauseous. I finally manage to make out an image of a massive lump beneath the covers beside me. It rises and falls with alternate motion in rhythm to a rumbling snore, which only intensifies the loud thumping in my head. I soon realize, with a sinking heart, that the man in bed with me is too large and unruly to be my boyfriend.

What have I done?

I become lightheaded with the thought of myself as a cheater. My stomach turns and I think I’m going to be sick. I take in a few short breaths and try and collect my thoughts. What happened to me? How did I get here? Why would I do this when I have a man with defined abs and the sex drive of a man at sea?

I must have had too much to drink last night because my memory is so fuzzy. I can’t seem to remember anything.

It doesn’t matter. Kofi will never forgive me and I couldn’t ask him to. My eyes well up and my chest feels clinched while thinking about all the things I’m going to miss about him. The way he looks at me when I enter a room. His ambition and how he inspires me to work harder and be a better person. He has this sarcastic sense of humor, I often don’t understand, but he accompanies it with a laugh that’s quiet and contagious, like a yawn. I miss him already.

I need to get out of here. I want to get up but my head is too heavy to lift and moving makes my head pound harder. I have a charley horse in my neck and a shooting pain in my eye. This is the worst hangover ever.

I mine for deeper reserves of strength and roll myself off the bed and hit the floor with a thud. Through scrunched up eyelids I look around for my belongings but I can’t seem to find any of my things. Where’s my bag, my shoes, my clothes?

A twinge of guilt trickles down my spine as I borrow a shapeless shirt and sweat pants from the floor. I pause for the poor girl who owns these garments. Not only did I sleep with her big fat man last night, but worse, her personal taste is appalling. She has enigmatic style and is awfully un-savvy. Because her clothes identify her as a husky woman, I best move fast before she returns. I’m quite certain she can kick my skinny ass. Although my Tae Bo keeps me perfectly toned, I fear the heavily practiced jabs, punches and sidekicks have little street use.

I look for the emergency exit and can’t help but take in this distasteful environment. I’m surrounded by a terribly decorated room with cheap imitation Anne Geddes baby photos and mismatched furniture. I’ve seen garage sales with better interior design elements.

I creep to the door and twist my ankle on an oversized Lego. I tumble to my knees and mime a silent scream. Now eye level to the carpet, I’m better able to survey the final course of my escape route. I stay low and slither across the floor, appreciating the breathable fabric and freedom of movement of the clothes on loan.

Once I make it past the threshold of the bedroom, I’m faced with a mine field of toys planted in the hallway, obstructing my passage to the outside world. I trip over a stuffed dinosaur and he screams and then there’s silence…the snoring has ceased. As this could further complicate my departure, I begin my high-speed pursuit towards the front door forgoing all thought of injuries and hangover.

“Sarah?” says a recognizable voice.

I cock my ear at the door. “Kofi?”

“Where you going babe?”

I weave my way back through the house to my boyfriend.

“Where are we?” I breathe a heavy sigh when my eyes meet his.

Kofi has intense smoldering charcoal eyes and behind them there is a light that sparkles whenever he is excited. He’s got impeccable lustrous ebony skin, exotic full kissable lips, and high cheekbones – a fascinating combination resulting from his African American-Cherokee heritage. When standing he is nearly six-feet-tall, with a v-shaped torso and he oozes with unadulterated, uncontrived maleness. But in spite of his appearance, he has this cool confidence that’s devoid of arrogance. In fact he is so smooth that the Isaac Hayes’ theme song for Shaft plays in my mind whenever I watch him from across a room.

My heart is dancing inside my chest, thrilled I haven’t ruined the opportunity to see where this relationship will go. I want to leap into bed with him, pin him down, and smother him with kisses, but I’m still feeling off balance. Instead I rest my shoulder against the door frame for support.

Kofi, moving sluggishly, sits up. I watch him closely and notice I can’t hear the music playing in my head, instead I hear my brain beating against my skull. My eyes still zooming in and out of focus. “Where are your braids?”

Kofi jerks his head up. “What do you mean?” and talks in a loud whisper.

Kofi once described his hair as an expression of originality but it is now something approaching respectability and uniformity. “You look like a Marine and yesterday you looked like K-Fed.”

After a pause, he says, “huh?” sounding perplexed.

“You know K-Fed, a.k.a Kevin Federline, a.k.a Mr. Britney Spears,” and if he didn’t get those references I add, “a.k.a the next Eminem.”

Kofi looks at me with an expression curiously akin to confusion.

“Why did you shave off the cornrows? A buzz makes you look so…” I trail off, unable to think of a single word other than fat. Then old comes to mind. I finally arrive at “different. You look so different,” I say, wincing on his behalf.

Before Kofi can answer, the covers start rustling and out pops a child rubbing his eyes.

“What is that?” I scream and point at the boy. “Why? Why?” is all I am able to say.

“He had a nightmare.” Kofi exaggerates a long drawn out yawn and stretches out his lengthy arms.

“Huh? What?”

“Mama, what’s wrong?” says the boy in the bed in a tiny, weary voice.

“Kid I’m not your mom,” I say, followed by an uncomfortable chuckle. I share a look with Kofi and gesture towards the door. “I’m going home.”

“Very funny Sarah, but I don’t have time for this.” Kofi digs into the corner of his eyes with his fingers. “I have to be at work, I’m in trouble enough as it is.”

The boy turns to Kofi and asks, “Daddy, why’s mama acting weird?”

“Daddy? Daddy! You have a kid? Shit Kofi, you never told me you have a kid.” I study the child closely, there’s no denying the resemblance. He’s but a miniature clone of Kofi, with lighter skin and one third his stature and both are sitting cross-legged, with heads tilted slightly to the left, the same single eye brow raised, and both now pouting petulantly.

I retreat into the hallway and try and slow down my thoughts that are running circles through my mind. Where am I? How did I get here? Why does this kid think I’m his mom? And why is Kofi looking at me as if I’m crazy?

“What’s shit?” the child asks.

“Oh sorry kid, I mean…” I search for a more child-friendly vocabulary and come up with nothing. I just look at the boy blankly as he looks back with wide saucer eyes. The silence stretches too long and my nerves burst with a bang. “Shit,” I repeat -I can’t help myself.

Kofi’s expression goes instantly very angry. “Sarah, what the heck is wrong with you?” he grumbles.

“Me? What the heck is wrong with you? I didn’t know you had a kid. You somehow breezed over that topic in the six months we’ve been together.” The last thing I want to be is some poor, confused kid’s step-mom. “I didn’t sign on for this! Where’s my stuff?” I stalk back and forth like a caged animal searching for an escape route. “I want to get out of here.”

“Okay. Ha-ha, you’re funny. I never told you I have a kid.” Kofi and the child exchange puzzled looks.

“Whatever. Let’s talk about this later. I can’t deal with it now. God, my head is killing me,” I tell him. “I have the worst hangover and I think I’m going to throw up.”

“Hangover?” Kofi draws back sharply. “Babe,” he squints his eyes slightly as he surveys me, “maybe you should get back into bed?”

“With the young boy…that’s illegal,” I say, avoiding eye contact with the child. “Can you just take me home?”

“Sarah,” Kofi says in a slow, clear, soothing way; a tone I imagine a pre-school teacher would use or maybe a psychotherapist. “Are you okay?”

“What do you think? I just found out my boyfriend has a kid. I’m in some dreadful house and God only knows where the Excedrin is. I’m probably wearing your baby’s mama’s clothes.” I breathe in deeply, the smell is repugnant and triggers my gag reflex.

Kofi gets out of the bed and approaches me slowly. He’s wearing boxers and T-shirt advertising Jones BBQ. I scrutinize his appearance for a moment and perceive a change, but my eyes feel like they’re burning behind my head. I squeeze them shut.

“Actually, don’t even bother getting up Kofi. I’ll bus back to my apartment.”

Kofi walks toward me looking troubled. “Oh babe,” he nervously shifts his eyes and says, “Babe, can you…can you…” then he stops, looks at his…son, raises his voice an octave. “Sweetness, why don’t you go use the potty and give us a minute.”

The boy jumps several times across the bed, as though on a trampoline and then darts out of the room.

Kofi turns back to me and his stutter returns. He finally manages to spit out, “Can you tell me what you did yesterday?”

The only thing I know for sure is how brutal this headache is and it seems to be crippling my thoughts.

I attempt to reconstruct the events of last night’s drunken debauchery. I try to concentrate as hard as I can. Desperately searching for the memory, much like trying to remember a dream the morning after. “I…um…oh yeah, I interviewed for that promotion I’ve been talking about for weeks, which went really well by the way. I’m pretty sure I got it.” I stop, think harder. “And then I met up with the girls for happy hour, like every other Friday for the past three years.”

Kofi’s mouth falls open.

I think back on the night, but nothing jumps out as odd: the drinks went down in the usual way. My girlfriends and I covered the typical topics: men, fashion, office gossip and celebrity current events. When the spirits took over us, we took over the dance floor. I remember Jo-Jo dancing to a seven count rather than the conventional eight and Piper’s good judgment was lost somewhere between the funky chicken and the robot. Celia was jiving and using her hand as a microphone, lip-syncing with the house band. It appears in my recall, however, that I was an expert dancer.

I shrug my shoulders. “I must’ve blacked out after that because I don’t remember coming here.”

Kofi stares at me hard. “Babe, are you serious?”

“Yelling isn’t helping Kofi.”

“I’m not yelling,” Kofi says and looks me firmly in the eyes. “I think…we have a problem. Nico told me you fell when riding his skateboard yesterday and you hit your head, maybe you…” his voice trails off.

Instinctually, I put my hand up to my head and I cringe at the touch. “Ow!” I call out. There’s a bump the size of a golf ball. It feels sore and tender and its throbbing like it has its own heart beat.

“Nico? You mean grandpa? He just got a hip replacement…he can’t even Bocce Ball anymore.”

“You haven’t been to a happy hour in, well, forever.” Kofi speaks slowly and maybe even a little sadly. “Last night we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows on DVD and we were in bed by 9:00.”

“Wait a minute…this is a prank.” This must be another one of Kofi’s jokes, although I’m not really sure how it’s funny. “You totally had me going for a second. Bravo.” I applaud his originality, creating his own Harry Potter title, Deathly Hallows, that’s detailed. “Where’d you get the kid? He’s a good little actor…did you rent him? Did you drug me to get me here? That’s a little bit excessive, but man, you really got me. I almost believed you.”

I wait for him to break into laughter and then deliver some punch-line, but instead he holds a poker face for an unbearably long time.

Kofi rubs his forehead as though trying to gather his thoughts. “I’m going to call the doctor Sarah,” he says and before I can respond, the kid has returned from the bathroom. Kofi bends down to meet him. “Stay with her. I’ll be right back.”

Kofi grabs a navy fuzzy robe from the back of the bathroom door, leaving its matching baby blue one behind. He slips into a pair of house shoes from the foot of the bed then hustles out of the room, leaving the child and me behind.

I flash the youngster a nervous semi-smile. He’s an attractive kid. He has large, soft, dark chocolate eyes, shapely nose, perfect lips, charming grin and a skin tone I’d risk skin cancer for. He has wild, brownish hair that’s styled in a three-inch, loose-curl afro. He’s smallish, as a child should be I suppose, but he has the build of a bulldog; broad shouldered and solid frame. He looks like my sister’s kid, but I guess all kids look alike.

I open dialogue hesitantly with, “Hi”. He begins to speak a dialect unfamiliar to me. And wow, does he speak: he goes on and on and I haven’t a clue what he’s talking about. He’s using up all the oxygen in the room, and I feel like I’m suffocating. I begin side stepping my way to the door. I’m hoping he won’t notice if I duck out, but he watches me like a hawk. I try zigzagging and weaving, but he won’t get off my tail. It’s like being chased by a mugger in a dark alley.

Kofi, still on the phone, is pacing back and forth, in and out of the kitchen. He yells into the receiver, “Yes, I understand we don’t have an appointment…No, we don’t want to see another doctor…I don’t care that he’s not on-call, this is an emergency….If you can’t make this happen, put someone on the phone who can.”

When I look down at the kid, he’s still talking. I try to politely excuse myself. “Kid,” I say, “I don’t know what a wocketchip is, and I need to go tinkle…okay?”

“Okay. A wocketchip is…” and he continues talking, unbothered by my lack of interest. Thank God my ears are ringing to drown out some of his noise. He follows me right into the bathroom, stubbornly determined to invade my personal boundaries.

Then Kofi storms into the bathroom- even though, and I can’t stress this enough, I told him I was busy inside. “Blue’s Clues is on,” Kofi says and without another word, the young boy whirls out of the room, not unlike a miniature tornado.

Kofi approaches me slowly. He kisses me gently on the cheek, despite the fact he hasn’t brushed and his scent is musty.

“The doctor wants us to come in right away. He’s worried you may have a concussion or something.”

“Don’t be silly. I don’t need a doctor. What I need is a Bloody Mary. Will you make me one?”

“Um,” Kofi utters, fumbling for the words. He slowly lifts his eyes to meet mine. He looks weird. I squint at him and study him. I notice the deep set lines. His hair is cropped short, peppered gray amongst the jet blackness of the rest of it. His stomach is…round.

I wonder if I’m dreaming. Am I still drunk?

“Maybe you should sit down.”

“What’s going on Kofi?”

“Well, I’m not sure how to start actually.” He takes a deep breath and composes himself. “You know that interview you were talking about?”

I nod firmly.

“That was at least five years ago.” He pauses to let it sink in.

I look up briefly and rub my eyes. What did he just say? There is no way he just said that was five yearsago.

He adds in a no-nonsense tone. “Nico’s our son.”

“What?! You’re trying to tell me that I’m a…a…” I can’t even say it. I notice my knees shaking ever so slightly. Kofi tries to slide his arm through mine but I pull away.

“Yes, you’re a mom and we’re married and this is our home.”

I feel hot on the inside, and itchy, and a little bit queasy. I try and speak but the lump in my throat won’t budge. I need a few moments to take all this in. I take a few steps back and lean against the wall and start looking around the room at the graffiti walls, the laminate flooring, the dirty counter tops and then begin to panic.

“You don’t work in advertising anymore,” Kofi continues, “you work full time at home, you’re a stay-at-home-mom.”

I freeze. Time seems to slow down to a crawl. Is this what the deer-in-headlights, who we hear so much about, experience right before the 18 wheeler smacks it head-on?

“You’re not kidding?” I ask nervously.

Kofi fixes his eyes to mine and shakes his head very slowly. He puts my hand inside of his and says, “It’s going to be okay.”

I can’t believe this is happening. I was finally moving up the ladder. When I began my career in advertising my 5×5 cubicle was blocking the elevator and in four short years I’d moved to three cubes away from the office that had a window. I was so close. I could finally see success. All that shit work I put into advancing my career. The late nights, working weekends, the years of school, was for nothing. This is just my luck.

“So I’m not twenty-eight anymore?”

“You’re thirty-three.”

I react to the news physically, with a flinch. Thirty-three is practically mid-thirties, that’s almost forty, which means…I’m old. Oh God, no!

“Oh, and your grandpa’s dead too; sorry,” Kofi adds, cautiously awaiting my next move. He’s following me closely with his eyes as I shift my weight, so that I can peer into the mirror behind him.

I look at the stranger in the reflection and I don’t know who I see, but she looks as surprised to see me as I am too see her. I spin around a little, slowly, and she does the same. I approach the mirror and with every step the reflection gets bigger and bigger and fatter. My voice is shaking now. “What’s going on? What…what…. happened to me?”

Kofi explains again more slowly and enunciating his words judiciously. “I don’t know exactly, I was at work, but according to Nico you were attempting an ollie off his skateboard and you fell back and hit your head on the curb. You weren’t wearing a helmet, but I thought you were okay…there was no blood and last night you seemed fine….maybe a little shaken up…maybe a little tired, but you’re pretty much always tired, so…” The color from his face begins to fade as the memory cascades over him. “Oh God, now that I think about it, you were acting strange. You put Nico’s Transformer back-pack on and said you were going to school. I thought you were just fooling around…it was really funny.” He puts both hands up to his head. “Jesus, I laughed.” His expression looks about to crumple. “I’m so sorry Sarah, I feel terrible…” his voice trails off.

Truthfully I’m not really listening. I’m still staring at myself in the mirror, while my fingers trace the fine lines that crowd my mouth. “No. No. Why do I look like this?” My eyes have sunken; my roots now freckled with gray and at least an inch thick above the rest of my wild ash-blond mane. How could so much damage happen in five years? I’ve aged at least a decade. “You’re right I should probably sit down. I’m so pale. I look faint.”

“Actually, you look…normal.”

I feel tears build behind my eyes. I start blinking hard, refusing to cry, refusing to believe that this is actually happening.

“I have the arms of a linebacker, my thighs are fuller and my boobs,” I say, grabbing my breasts and lifting them up and down, like I’m doing arm curls with them. “They’d definitely fail the Pencil Test.”

“Pencil Test?”

“The Pencil Test. If you can tuck a pencil under your breasts, they’re saggy. If you can tuck the entire back-to-school supply box under them, you have mine!”

He scratches his head. “I love your shape,” he says, thankfully convincingly.

“Then you must like circles!” My cheeks feel swollen, my legs feel like jelly and I’m feeling myself wobbling on the edge of hysteria. “What’s happened to me? This makes no sense. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe!”

“Relax,” he advises. “We’ll get this all straightened out at the doctor. It will be okay. Everything is going to be okay,” he says almost to himself.

I inhale deeply through my nose, then open my lips and make an om sound as I exhale, trying to find my center.

“Right now you just need to get dressed so we aren’t late for our appointment.”

“Are you out of your mind?” I say, unnerved. “There’s no way I’m leaving this house looking like this. I haven’t even showered.”

Kofi blinks, taken aback. “That’s crazy talk. This is really serious.”

“Well so is hygiene,” I point out.

“Please,” Kofi struggles to keep his voice calm, “let’s just go and you can take a bath when we get home.”

“Ew, I am not leaving this house without a shower.” I put my unpedicured foot down.

“Fine, I need to make a few phone calls anyway.” Kofi throws up his arms. “But hurry.”

When Kofi leaves, I take off my clothes and against my better judgment I take a look. It’s worse than I’d expected. My stomach looks like a walnut shell. I have a muffin top without pants on and even my hair looks fat. I’m dumbfounded. I always valued beauty and grooming. I love working out and being unemployed, I imagine that I have time in spades to do so. What else do I have to do, for Christ sakes?

I stand in the shower and let the water pour down my face, as I try to piece together the mystery of how my dreams and aspirations could have disintegrated so completely. But my eyelids are feeling heavy again. My head’s spinning and banging, like having shoes in the dryer. I can’t think.

“You okay babe?” Kofi watches me through the clear shower door, which is just another design flaw of this house.

“I’m fine.” This is a lie. I’m freaking out.

“You need to speed things up. Our appointment’s at 8:00 and it’s almost 7:00.”

I sputter through the water, annoyed, “I only have an hour to get ready?”

“No, we have to be there in an hour. So you have about fifteen minutes,” he yells over the shower stream.

“Sorry, no can do. I’m in need of a deep conditioning. And I mean deep.” I’m hoping against all hope that that’s all it takes to get me back to some semblance of normalcy. “We’ll just taxi.”

“Actually, we have to drive. We live in the foothills, about twenty miles east of Seattle.” I mentally zoom in on the word “foothills”. What he really means is, we live in a damned suburb.

I lean my head into the water stream that won’t get hotter than warm and look down for my hair products and only see one bottle, Pert Plus 2 in 1, shampoo and conditioner. So this is what it’s come to. I lather and spread the soap. My skin moves with the wash cloth. I have an eight inch scar beneath my belly and below that I’ve gone savage.

By the time Kofi returns, again he enters without knocking or announcing himself. I’m perched on top of the bathroom counter doing extensive damage control: the makeup bag that I managed to dig out from underneath the sink has vomited its contents all over the place. I apply a generous amount of make-up and pull my hair back in a perfectly parted, elegant twist, at the nape of my neck. Although it makes me look like a pudgy ballerina, it’s better than a disheveled housewife.

Kofi grabs a shirt and pants from the top of one of the clothes piles, sniffs them, and then puts them on. He pats his pockets and discovers his phone and wallet. His eyes grow bigger when he notices me. “You’re not even dressed yet?” He begins to pace about the way he does when he’s nervous. “Your friend’s coming over and she’ll be here any minute. You should be ready by now.”

“Who’s coming Piper or Jo-Jo? I know you wouldn’t call Celia. I couldn’t handle her honesty right now anyway.”

“I called Elaine. She’s very concerned about you and is on her way over.”

“Who?”

“Our neighbor.” He slips his feet in his shoes without unlacing them. “You don’t really talk to those other girls much anymore.”

“It’s because we don’t get reception in the burbs, isn’t it?” Something squeezes hard in my chest. “Oh God, you moved me to a place that’s out of network.”

“Babe, I know this is a lot to take in, but maybe we can get more answers from the doctor.”

The doorbell rings.

“Let’s go,” Kofi says, “I know Elaine really wants to see you. She’s really worried about you.”

“Send her away,” I say, trying to summon some composure. “I’m not ready to meet anyone right now.”

“You’re not meeting, you’re great friends.” He rubs his face hopelessly then says, “That’s right, you don’t know that because you don’t remember. Well,” he speaks quickly, “she offered to babysit while we’re at the doctor, so she’s staying. I’ll just ask her to stay with Nico in the kitchen while we sneak out.” Kofi moves across the room at a pace four times that of mine. “Can you please hurry up and get dressed?”

I roll my eyes to mean, whatever, and he leaves with a loud sigh.

The sounds of Kofi and a chirpy, disembodied voice head down the hall toward the kitchen.

Now according to my lingerie drawer, I’ve given up on sexy. All undergarments are functional and supportive, meant to stay concealed and not revealed. My panties are white and made of cotton and –oh God!- they’re tall. Why, why? My brassieres are built with technological and scientific sophistication. They cover my entire chest, with three inch straps and needing a five clasp panel system in the rear. I then origami my breasts to get them in my bra.

Everything in “my” closet is casual, conservative and machine washable. I’m completely underwhelmed by my options and trying to put something acceptable together with what I have is like my own Project Runway challenge. I pick out a shirt that has a pattern that gives me vertigo and hope since it’s been at least five years that poly-cotton blends are just a bad trend like the visible g-string or holey jeans. I reluctantly pull on a pair of high waist jeans. I lace up my shoes and then admire the finished product. I do my signature runway walk to a half length mirror and hit my pose, but instead of looking fierce, I look healthy, plump, and jolly.

Kofi puts his head in around the door. Can’t he knock?

“Ready?” he asks, looking at the woman in the mirror, who vaguely resembles the woman he dated five years ago. “Babe, you know we’re just going to the hospital right?”

“What do you mean?”

“You look…” he stops, then starts again, “glamorous…like you’re getting ready for the theater and not a doctor’s appointment.”

I give a few twirls and wonder what Kofi’s complimenting. I have always appreciated his trustworthiness and candor, but my suspicions are now raised to his sincerity.

Kofi grabs my arm. “Come on. We have to get out of here before Nico catches wind that we’re leaving.” I hear urgency in his voice. “Let’s go quietly. And don’t step there,” he points to a spot on the floor. “That board’s loose.” Kofi moves like a ninja but I walk with a heavy foot on a rubber sole. “Shhh, tiptoe,” but it’s too late.

I hear the frantic pitter patter of running feet before an advancing blur attacks me from down below. The next thing I know the little boy, “Nico” I presume. He has his legs wrapped, then locked, around my midsection. He’s squeezing the breath out of me and I’m unable to withstand the weight of his forty plus pound frame. I begin to crumble, hitting the floor. My foundation is smudged almost instantly and my hair comes undone.

“Help me,” I say with my last breath, “I think he’s trying to kill me.”

Nearly blacking out but revived by his high pitched piercing scream, “Don’t go!” The kid is covered in tears and getting slobber on my hair and neck. Then he plants his face into my shirt and wipes it across the front, leaving a snot streak. I’m appalled that I was just used as a tissue. “Mama, don’t leave!”

I don’t know who this mama person is, but I run for the exit. I reach for the door handle, that much closer to freedom, when I hear something, like an echo. It’s coming from the back of the house, and the sound is suspiciously familiar.

“What’s that noise?” I gasp. “Oh no. Do I also have a baby?”

“No,” Kofi replies, frantically pushing me towards the door.

“Oh, thank God. I just couldn’t handle that right now.” I’ve got one foot out the door. I can almost taste the escape.

“We have two.”

praise

“Funny yet tender…witty and charming…a reminder of the things that really matter in life.” – Jackie Bouchard, USA Today Bestselling Author of What the Dog Ate

“A sparkling debut novel brimming with heart and hilarity.” – Karin Gillespie, National Bestselling Author of Girl Meet Class

“With a marvelously snarky, sarcastic wit and a formidably flawed heroine, Wake-Up Call is frequently laugh-out-loud—and hard to put down.” – Phoebe Fox, Author of The Breakup Doctor Series and Huffington Post Contributor

“I laughed through every page…I never wanted to put it down…hilarious.” – Holly Rust, Co-Founder of Mother’s Guide to Sanity and Contributing Author of It’s Really 10 Months: Special Delivery

One of the best I have read this year… a great read especially if you are feeling the strain of raising small children and you are dreaming about the greener grass in someone else’s yard.” – A Novel Mama

“A sarcastic, snarky, funny look at life and all the things we never knew we really wanted.” – The Books Lover’s Best Friend

“Hilariously funny…endearing and heartfelt.” – Library Thing

“Thought-provoking…relatable…loved.” – Tara Wilson, Co-Author of Martinis & Motherhood: Tales of Wonder, Woe & WTF?!

“A lighthearted read, with lots of love, hilarity, some sexiness and definitely a good time.” – Comfy Reading

“Fresh, funny, and compulsively readable. I loved it!”– Kati Merritt Radziwon, Founder of OneMomADay.com

“I love everything about Avanzino’s writing; it’s witty, true and extremely smart. She is awesome at creating hilarious dialogue and her characterization is also spot on. I love how she has taken a run-of-the-mill suburban street and plucked so many fascinating stories from amongst its residents” –Bookaholic Confessions

“Amy Avanzino has quickly developed a reputation for writing realistic characters and situations that truly touch the heart and inspire.” –BestChickLit.com

meet the author

Amy Avanzino received a Bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley and a Master’s from the University of Washington. She is a former special education teacher who has spent the last several years writing and doing extensive hands-on research for her Wake-Up Series, the first of which is Wake-Up Call. She’s a contributing writer of Hap Scotch, a play performed at the 2008 Frigid Festival in New York, which won two Audience Choice Awards. Amy currently lives in the stands above the football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds around Folsom, California with her husband and four children.

social media websitetwitterFacebookpinterestinstagramGoogleGoodreads

buy the book

wake_up_call_cover_front

amazon usamazon UKB&NkoboiBooks

other books in the series

13692725_1185351201485208_216734175079741904_n1

amazon usamazon UKB&NkoboiBooks

giveawaya Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

500x500 BEP Square