Saturday, July 31, 2021

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Making It Home (Jackson's Pond, Texas Series) by Teddy Jones

Welcome to my stop on the book blog tour for Making It Home by Teddy Jones. This blog tour was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I am spotlighting the book, and I also have an awesome scrapbook page from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win books and a gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Making It Home
Series: Jackson's Pond, Texas Series
Author: Teddy Jones
Publication Date: July 26th 2021
Print Length: 275 pages
Genre: Women's Fiction
In this third novel in the Jackson’s Pond, Texas series, fifty-five-year-old Melanie Jackson Banks encounters racism, intolerance, and violence both in her family’s distant past and in current day Jackson’s Pond. She leads family and community efforts to create reconciliation for past wrongs and also to demonstrate strength and defiance in the face of vandalism, cross-burning, domestic violence, threats to Jackson Ranch’s operation, and kidnapping. In the midst of this stormy period, she finds allies in her mother’s long-time companion, Robert Stanley; her mother, Willa Jackson; her daughter Claire Havlicek; and many others.

Making It Home  could not be a more timely book… We live in an imperfect world, but it is still possible to think, imagine and make things better. The cast of characters in this strong family affirms this through their hope, decency, and tenacity!” Eleanor Morse, author of Margreete’s Harbor

“Jones' talent for creating indelible characters endures, as does her way with a compelling plot. … This is a timely page-turner.”  Robin Lippincott, author of Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell
Teddy Jones is the author of three published novels, Halfwide, Jackson’s Pond, Texas, and Well Tended, as well as a collection of short stories, Nowhere Near. Her short fiction received the Gold Medal First Prize in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2015. Jackson’s Pond, Texas was a finalist for the 2014 Willa Award in contemporary fiction from Women Writing the West. Her latest novel, Making It Home, was a finalist in the Faulkner-Wisdom competition in 2017 and A Good Family was named finalist in that contest in 2018.

Although her fiction tends to be set in West Texas, her characters’ lives embody issues not bounded by geography of any particular region. Families and loners; communities in flux; people struggling, others successful; some folks satisfied in solitude and others yearning for connection populate her work. And they all have in common that they are more human than otherwise.

Jones grew up in a small Texas town, Iowa Park. Earlier she worked as a nurse, a nurse educator, a nursing college administrator, and as a nurse practitioner in Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. For the past twenty years, she and her husband have lived in the rural West Texas Panhandle where he farms and she writes.

First Winner: A set of all three novels in the Jackson’s Pond, Texas Series by Teddy Jones
Second Winner: $25 Bookshop gift card + Copy of Nowhere Near by Teddy Jones
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7/27/21 - Notable Quotable - StoreyBook Reviews
7/27/21 - BONUS Promo - LSBBT Blog
7/28/21 - Review - It's Not All Gravy
7/28/21 - BONUS Promo - Hall Ways Blog
7/29/21 - Excerpt - The Page Unbound
7/30/21 - Review - Book Fidelity
7/31/21 - Scrapbook Page - All the Ups and Downs
8/1/21 - Author Interview - Missus Gonzo
8/2/21 - Review - The Clueless Gent
8/3/21 - Series Spotlight - Chapter Break Book Blog
8/4/21 - Review - Forgotten Winds
8/5/21 - Review - Reading by Moonlight

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Blog Tour and Giveaway: The Twin Stars (The Coseema Saga #1) by Bridgette Dutta Portman

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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Twin Stars by Bridgette Dutta Portman. This blog tour was organized by Lola's Blog Tours. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a paperback of the book and a custom designed journal. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
The Twin Stars book cover
Title: The Twin Stars
Series: The Coseema Saga #1
Author: Bridgette Dutta Portman
Publisher: Titan1Studios
Publication Date: July 6th 2021
Print Length: 253 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
A magical journal. A world savaged by its own suns. An evil prince. A princess in hiding. And a teenage girl who learns to be the hero of her own story.

Sixteen-year-old Olive Joshi has obsessive-compulsive disorder, and can't stop worrying about hurting the people she loves. She finds refuge in writing about Coseema, a magical princess on a distant planet. Coseema is fearless, confident, and perfect - everything Olive thinks she’ll never be. When she falls through a portal into her own unfinished story, Olive finds herself in a world in peril: double suns scorch the land, the brutal Prince Burnash seeks supreme power, and Coseema is nowhere to be found. Together with her friends - a bold poet, a cursed musician, a renegade soldier, and an adventurous girl from the desert - Olive will have to face her deepest fears to find the hero in herself.

The Twin Stars is an engrossing new portal fantasy in the spirit of the Wizard of Oz, the Neverending Story, and the Chronicles of Narnia.

Olive kept her eyes shut the entire time she was in the air.

She sat behind Zeph, her arms wrapped around his waist and her face pressed into his back, but she was too terrified even to blush. She heard Bel, somewhere to her left, giggling and shrieking like a child on a roller coaster. She heard the flapping of leathery wings and the whistling of air as it whipped up her hair and pulled at her sleeves and pant legs. But she saw nothing. She feared that if she opened her eyes for even an instant, she would fall to the desert floor, or throw up, or both.

The Raiders’ pteroks may have been tame, but they looked as nightmarish as ever. They were more like dragons than bats: mouths brimming with fangs, a row of spikes along whiplike tails, talons as long as Olive’s hand. Only their jet-black fur offered a reassuring softness; everything else was barbs and thorns and razor edges, and their eyes, so big and endearing in the chicks, looked sunken and menacing in the faces of the adults.

Flying horses, thought Olive to herself. Why couldn’t I have invented flying horses?

She had almost been too frightened to climb onto the back of her ride. Zeph described Midnight, Gloamie’s mother, as the gentlest pterok in the colony. Olive, who had thought the creature looked as though it were considering which part of her body to bite first, had not found that description particularly encouraging. Zeph had assured her that they would fly slowly, that he would guide the pteroks with his music, and that all Olive would have to do was hold on.

“Has anyone ever fallen?” Olive had asked.

Zeph had chuckled lightly and had not actually replied.

“Olive!” Bel screamed from somewhere to the right, where she and her aunt were riding a second pterok. “Isn’t this the best?”

Olive made a muffled noise, her face still scrunched up against Zeph’s back. The ride was not smooth like the fluttercamel’s had been; it was bumpy and twitchy, and the pterok tilted its body to the side far too often.

After what must have been fifteen or twenty minutes, Zeph played a series of falling notes on his stringed instrument, and the pterok began to descend. Olive opened her eyes only when its feet touched down with a final jolt. Her arms felt stiff as she unclasped them from around Zeph’s waist. She slid off the pterok’s wing like a rag doll, and for a minute she sat crumpled on the sand, waiting to catch the breath she’d left far behind her.

Bel extended a hand to help her up. The girl wore a broad smile, her cheeks flushed and her braids loose. Olive raised a hand to her own hair and made a halfhearted effort to smooth it down, then stood on trembling legs, her stomach flopping about like a stranded fish. She tried to mask her discomfort with a smile of her own.

“Quite a rush, huh?” asked Reen.

“That was amazing!” Bel gave her pterok a pat on its hideous snout. “Wasn’t it, Olive?”

Olive grunted something that sounded vaguely affirmative.
Bridgette Dutta Portman author picture
Bridgette Dutta Portman is an author, playwright, and teaching artist. Dozens of her plays have been produced across the United States and overseas. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Spalding University, as well as a PhD in political science from the University of California, Irvine. She is past president of the Playwrights’ Center of San Francisco and is currently a member of Same Boat Theater Collective, the Pear Playwrights’ Guild, and the Dramatists’ Guild. She recently joined the board of the Pear Theatre in Mountain View, CA. The Twin Stars is her debut novel, and the first of a planned trilogy. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband Deepanshu and their two young children.

- How are you like your characters?

As a writer, I think there’s a sense in which all of my characters are reflections of myself. I have to inhabit my characters, to put myself into their heads, in order to be able to write them in a way that rings true. This is definitely easier with some characters than with others. I’ll use the examples of two of my characters: Olive and Prince Burnash.

Olive is my protagonist, and it’s easy for me to identify with her. She was inspired by myself as a teen. Like Olive, I had (and still have) obsessive-compulsive disorder. Like Olive, I used to write in my notebooks to reassure myself that the coffee maker and stove burners were off. I was shy, self-doubting, imaginative, and interested in science and astronomy, just like Olive. And I used to write space fantasies. So writing her came easily to me.

Prince Burnash was another story. He’s the antagonist, and I intentionally made him Olive’s opposite. Whereas Olive is anxious, Burnash is overconfident. She’s committed to her friends; he feels no loyalty to anyone. He’s cruel, selfish, violent, and vain. How could I possibly relate to a character like that? Despite Burnash’s villainy, I still had to be able to see the world through his eyes, so I tried to give him motivations that I could at least somewhat identify with. Burnash feels intense envy toward Coseema, his adopted sister. I’ve certainly felt envious before. Burnash also feared, deep down, that his mother and father loved Coseema more than him, and planned to replace him with her as the heir to their throne. I may not be the heir to any kingdoms, but like everyone, I’ve had times where I’ve felt unrecognized, unappreciated, or unfairly passed over. Focusing on those deep-seated motivations helped me jump into Burnash’s head. It wasn’t a pleasant place to be, but it did make it easier to write him.

Inventing characters—even evil ones—is my very favorite part of the writing process, and I think they all in some way embody aspects of myself. I hope that readers are able to see parts of themselves in my characters, too.
One winner will receive a signed paperback of The Twin Stars by Bridgette Dutta Portman + a custom designed journal that ties into the book thematically.
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Friday, July 30, 2021

Excerpt Tour and Giveaway: City of Lights (Far From Home #1) by Kelly Byrd

Welcome to my stop on the excerpt tour for City of Lights by Kelly Byrd. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an exclusive excerpt from the book. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more exclusive excerpts. Enjoy!
Title: City of Lights
Series: Far From Home #1
Author: Kelly Byrd
Publication Date: May 14th 2021
Print Length: 292 pages
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
What happens when oh so ordinary Mary Jingo, follows her instincts (and her nose) and ends up in a magical land Far From Home?

In City of Lights, author Kelly Byrd introduces readers to Mary, who is one week away from finishing fifth grade. Mary’s mind is on starting middle school in the fall and finally getting her own phone. But then this ordinary girl notices glimmers of light and meets a strange little man who conjures the best smell she has ever smelled. Before she even stops to consider what she’s doing, she agrees to accompany the man to the land of LeeChee, where our Mary Jingo from the Shadowlands in seen as warrior and a great hope.

Now this very ordinary girl must find a way to help save LeeChee from Thrall and restore the Everything—a magical life- and joy-giving force that somehow connects Mary’s world to LeeChee. How can she face the Void, the foul-smelling Shoeboxians, or the evil Mellie? And how can she do all of the Far From Home?

“Excuse me, Mr. Bonnie Judde, sir,” she said quietly, surprised at how far away her own voice sounded. The oracle’s head snapped towards her with a fire in his eyes that told her that he did not like to be interrupted.

“Yes?” he said sharply, his slicked back hair falling slightly out of place.

“When we were in the air, above the camp. I, could, well, I could see things,” Mary said, trying to put words to the experience.

“Yes, all five of us could see things,” Bonnie Judde replied.

“No, yes, no—I know,” Mary continued. Teeny sat to her left and was looking at Mary with a face of encouragement. It gave Mary courage. “I could actually see Mellie. Like I was sitting right beside her. I heard her talking. It was very confusing and weird.”

The group around the table fell silent. The Father tented his fingers and stared at Mary over the top of them.

“It is possible,” the old man said, looking at Mary with sparkling eyes, “that the Everything allowed you to see, Mary Jingo. Can you explain the experience more?”

“Yes,” Lady Kathryn said. “I would like to hear more.”

“Well, Van Clare told me to focus and breathe and to try to smell the Shoeboxians. I did that and it worked,” Mary said, looking over at her friend who gave her a small half smile. “But then, the more I smelled the Shoeboxians and Mellie, the more I felt like I was with them. And then I started to see images, hear their conversations. It was very weird. I can’t—I can’t really describe it.”

“She could show us,” Mikeala said, her black, curly hair in a myriad of small braids.

“I can?” Mary said.

“That is a very rare skill,” Bonnie Judde said, shaking his head. “One that no oracle or forecaster has possessed in two hundred years.”
Kelly Byrd is a middle-grade author by choice, a writer by discipline, home-grown chef, and amateur gardener. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her husband and two cute-as-buttons rescue pups. The Far From Home series is about growing up, finding your voice, and rescuing the Everything.

Kelly Byrd will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: 70% Dark Intentions (Bean to Bar Mysteries #2) by Amber Royer

Welcome to the book blitz for 70% Dark Intentions by Amber Royer. This book blitz was organized by Lone Star Book Blog Tours. On my stop, I'm spotlighting the book with a book trailer, and I also have the blitz wide giveaway for a chance to win an autographed copy of the book. Enjoy!
Title: 70% Dark Intentions
Series: Bean to Bar Mysteries #2
Author: Amber Royer
Publisher: Golden Tip Press
Publication Date: July 20th 2021
Print Length: 260 pages
Genre: Cozy Mystery
An Idyllic Chocolate Shop. An island with endangered species. And a murder.

Felicity Koerber’s bean to bar chocolate shop on Galveston’s historic Strand is bringing in plenty of customers – in part due to the notoriety of the recent murder of one of her assistants, which she managed to solve. Things seem to be taking a turn for the better. Her new assistant, Mateo, even gets along with Carmen, the shop’s barista turned pastry chef. Felicity thinks she’s learning to cope with change – right up until one of her friends gets engaged. Everyone’s expecting her to ask Logan, her former bodyguard, to be her plus one. But even the thought of asking out someone else still makes her feel disloyal to her late husband’s memory -- so maybe she hasn’t moved on from her husband’s death as much as she thought.

Felicity isn’t planning to contact Logan any time soon. Only, Felicity finds ANOTHER body right outside her shop – making it two murders at Greetings and Felicitations in as many months. That night, Mateo disappears, leaving Felicity to take care of his pet octopus. The police believe that Mateo committed the murder, but Felicity is convinced that, despite the mounting evidence, something more is going on, and Mateo may actually be in trouble.

When Logan assumes that he’s going to help Felicity investigate, she realizes she’s going to have to spend time with him – whether she’s ready to really talk to him or not. Can Felicity find out what happened to Mateo, unmask a killer, and throw an engagement party all at the same time?

Watch the book trailer below or click here to watch it on YouTube.
Amber Royer writes the CHOCOVERSE comic telenovela-style foodie-inspired space opera series, and the BEAN TO BAR MYSTERIES. She is also the author of STORY LIKE A JOURNALIST: A WORKBOOK FOR NOVELISTS, which boils down her writing knowledge into an actionable plan involving over 100 worksheets to build a comprehensive story plan for your novel. She blogs about creative writing technique and all things chocolate on her website. She also teaches creative writing for both UT Arlington Continuing Education and Writing Workshops Dallas. If you are very nice to her, she might make you cupcakes.

Amber Royer will be awarding an autographed copy of 70% Dark Intentions to one randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!
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Thursday, July 29, 2021

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Dragon(e) Baby Gone (Reports from the Department of Intangible Assets #1) by Robert Gainey

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Dragon(e) Baby Gone by Robert Gainey. This book tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a great guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Dragon(e) Baby Gone
Series: Reports from the Department of Intangible Assets #1
Author: Robert Gainey
Publication Date: June 28th 2021
Print Length: 189 pages
Genre: Urban Fantasy Mystery
Diane Morris is part of the thin line separating a happy, mundane world from all of the horrors of the anomalous. Her federal agency is underfunded, understaffed, and misunderstood, and she’d rather transfer to the boring safety of Logistics than remain a field agent. When a troupe of international thieves make off with a pair of dragon eggs, Diane has no choice but to ally with a demon against the forces looking to leave her city a smoldering crater. Facing down rogue wizards, fiery elementals, and crazed gunmen, it’s a race against time to get the precious cargo back before the dragon wakes up and unleashes hell.

“I have arrived!” Rubin intoned, loud and solemn as he strode into my office. He was every inch a wizard, so long as those inches were from the neck up. A long white beard met with long white hair, both flowing down over his chest and shoulders. White eyebrows heavy enough to act as speed bumps shaded his gray eyes, and the entire magnificently magical appearance was thrown off by the fact that he wore a tweed jacket, khakis, and loafers. He looked like a homeless man applying for a job in a suit donated by another homeless man.

“Rubin, thanks for coming so quickly,” I said, rising and offering a hand. He walked right past me and stood to look out the window.

“Why, woman, have you summoned me to your presence? Do you wish to consult with the power of earth and sky? Do I, and I alone, have the knowledge you require?” I’d almost forgotten what it was like to be this close to him. He smelled very strongly of horseradish and cloves. There was a large patch of fresh char on the elbow of his jacket.

“I certainly hope so,” I said, sitting back down and glaring at his back. This was why he wasn’t on my Christmas card list. That, and I didn’t know where he actually lived. Maybe he slept in the basement, where his little magical laboratory was housed.
Robert Gainey is a born and raised Floridian, despite his best efforts. While enrolled at Florida State University and studying English (a language spoken on a small island near Europe), Robert began volunteering for the campus medical response team, opening up a great new passion in his life. Following graduation, he pursued further training through paramedic and firefighting programs, going on to become a full time professional firefighter in the State of Florida. He currently lives and works in Northeast Florida with his wife and dogs, who make sure he gets walked regularly. Robert writes near-fetched fantasy novels inspired by the madness and courage found in everyday events.

Dragon(e) Baby Gone started as a conversation between a friend and me about FWC. For those not in the know, FWC is the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a three letter agency who seems to have forgotten a few of its letters at home. FWC, according to the conversation, has extremely broad authority and jurisdiction. In addition to hunting and fishing licenses, they also police poachers and track trespassers. You know, Wildlife Conservation stuff. In order to accomplish this, they can search and seize without warrants pretty much anywhere, and they can supersede the authority of any other agency to take over investigations. This wide net of power is necessary because, according to my friend, FWC is responsible for hiding Bigfoot from the public. They manage to do this on a shoestring budget, with low pay and bad hours.

Any part of this may or may not be true, but it did spark an idea somewhere in the moist recesses of my little brain. What if the only thing that was keeping goblins and ghouls from coming up out of the sewers and snatching children was a badly funded, overworked federal agency with unlimited authority and a few anomalous resources? The kinds of people who would work for such an agency would need to be dedicated, a little crazy, and would probably be about as jaded as your friendly neighborhood DMV.

Well, having that agency actually be FWC would be a little limiting. After all, other states have to have monsters too, right? Besides, I didn’t want to blow the whistle on Bigfoot, so best keep that under wraps. It would make sense that such an agency would be under the umbrella of the FBI, right? As the idea took firm shape and I began to write, the overall description of the Department of Intangible Assets coalesced. Rather than work out of the regional FBI building, the agents at the DIA find their offices in a building shared by some accountants and a belligerent wizard. What I wanted, what I thought was interesting, was to have Special Agent Diane Morris rely on her own wits and resources while being a part of something much bigger and more important than just a one woman crusade.
Robert Gainey will be awarding a $50 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to one randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!
(All the Ups and Downs is not responsible for this giveaway or its prize. Goddess Fish Promotions is in charge of the giveaway and the prize.)
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Book Blitz and Giveaway: To Hold a Rancher's Hand (Coyote Valley Cowboy Romance #1) by Kadi James

Title: To Hold a Rancher’s Hand
Series: Coyote Valley Cowboy Romance #1
Author: Kadi James
Publication Date: July 27th 2021
Genre: Contemporary Western Romance

Rafe is a volunteer fireman who is sworn to protect his ranch and town. Gail has just lost everything to the devastating fire that destroyed her home. Will these two be able to heal their scars and find new love and happiness?

After the trauma of war, rancher Rafe comes home to help his community as a volunteer fireman while trying to find balance in civilian life. He must carry the mantle of his family, who have been Guardians of Coyote Valley for generations. Now its up to Gabe to protect the town from the fires that ravage the national forests around Coyote Valley. But as he gives his all to the community, he often forgets to take care of his own heart.

Loner Gail has just lost everything to the devastating fire that destroyed her home. When the handsome rancher who saved her offers to let her stay at his place, it seems like the perfect solution. Until she remembers she doesn’t really like living with people. It’s why she was living up on top of the mountain in the first place.

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Rafe and Gail arrived at Rafe’s house exhausted. You wouldn’t think it would take that much out of you just meeting with a few contractors, but having to go over the numbers, the data, the timelines, and the creative decisions around the roof all in the heat of a 104° day had been a little bit much. Rafe took one glance at Gail and felt bad for her. Not only had she been moved out of her house but now she had to work so hard just to get back into it. She needed a break.

“Why don’t you go and take a shower,” he said with a smile. “I’ll get dinner started.”

“Why are you always making me dinner?” Gail frowned as if he’d asked her to make dinner.

Fortunately, Rafe got it. She was tired. No need for him to take it personal. He gave her a sideways grin. “Don’t you like the way I cook?”

“You are by far one of the finest chefs I’ve ever had the great pleasure of consuming food from,” Gail said with a smile.

“Well, I think that’s probably laying it on just a little thick.” Rafe rolled his eyes. “A simple ‘thank you for the very lovely meals,’ will suffice.”

“Well thank you for the most loveliest meals.” Gail took a deep breath and moving towards the counter. “Is there anything I can help you with?”

“Nope, I’ve got it all buckled down here. Green beans and salad from the garden, southern fried steak from the Foster’s Ranch. Sound good?” He waited for her response with the uneasy feeling that he’d be severely disappointed if she didn’t like what he’d planned for dinner.

“You realize I’ve never cooked you a meal?” Gail said.

“There’s plenty of time for that. Once you get up to Buttercup Ridge or even back in your home, you can invite me up for dinner.” Rafe smiled.

Gail’s eyes widened. “Did you just ask me to invite you on a date to my house so I can cook you dinner?”

Rafe laughed. “Yeah, I could see how it could’ve been construed like that. But you have to remember I’m awkward and I like to draw attention to my awkwardness to try and give it some semblance of humor rather than just being straight awkward. But mostly what I’m saying is the cottage is done. I got the call and you can move out.”

“Oh.” Gail’s face fell.

“That is what you wanted, right?” Rafe asked. “Your own place.”

“Yes, yeah, of course,” Gail stammered turning towards the hallway. “It’s wonderful news.”

“Thought you’d like that. I got the call just a little bit ago.” Rafe smiled even though he didn’t feel like it. In the short time she’d been in his home, Gail had grown on him. Suddenly, as she turned and walked down the hall, Rafe realized how much he was going to miss having her around. Every muscle in his body seized up. He wanted to chase her down the hall of his own house.

But she wasn’t looking for a relationship. And, if she was, she probably wouldn’t pick a traumatized orphaned vet. Rafe turned slowly back to the green beans. He needed to just focus on making her dinner and let go of any other thoughts he was having. He closed his eyes in prayer for a moment asking God to still his heart and guide him.
Kadi James was raised on a ranch in Northern California riding horses, writing stories, and waiting for true love to happen. Her passion for storytelling took her around the world to experience global cultures, history, and mythology, always looking for the similarities rather than the differences. After years overseas, country roads brought her back home again and she returned to California, her family, and the ranch where she grew up. Today she writes Sweet Ranch Romance that touches reader's hearts by reminding them of the simple things that really matter in life; family, kindness, and

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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Virtual Book Tour and Giveaway: Oranges for Miranda by Annette Bower

Welcome to my stop on the virtual book tour for Oranges for Miranda by Annette Bower. This tour was organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. On my stop, I have an excerpt from the book as well as a great guest post from the author. There's also the tour wide giveaway for a chance to win a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card. Be sure to follow the rest of the tour for more content. Enjoy!
Title: Oranges for Miranda
Author: Annette Bower
Publication Date: July 14th 2021
Genre: Sweet Contemporary Romance
Miranda Porter, a newly retired award-winning businesswoman, leaves home to transition into her new life stage. Always in control, this is her time to have fun without plans and responsibilities. Enter Renato Monteiro, a considerate tour guide with secrets. Miranda isn’t looking for long-term. She wants a purpose in her retirement. Could her purpose in retirement be finding love in this unlikely place? Could her aim be domesticity and caring for and be cared for by a newly found friend? Will a vacation romance end because of miles?

Renato Monteiro has decisions to make. Stay in his birth country where his female relatives want him to marry a woman young enough to give him children. Or does he return to his second home, where he has a purpose and has built a life without children? The day Miranda and he bumped heads changed his life and his pursuit. Now he must decide which is most important the family he was born into or the family he chooses.

Tucking her oranges into the pocket of her billowy trousers, she toed off her shoes, removed her socks, and padded down the stairs and onto the beach. A rock, eroded and pocked from the wind and seas, was the perfect place to stop. With her toes in the sand and her eyes closed, the scent of salt and the sound of seabirds engulfed her. A wave lapped cold over her feet. Miranda lifted an orange to her cheek.

As a shadow blocked the warm sun, her body momentarily chilled. A deep voice whispered close to her ear, “Por favor, Senhora.”

Her eyes flew open, and she jumped away from the sound. Her shoes slipped from her hand, and she reached to catch them at the same time the man did. They bumped heads, but his hands were quicker and larger and rescued her shoes seconds before the ocean foam of a retreating wave could swallow them whole.

Miranda didn’t know whether to rub her head, reach for her shoes, apologize, or sink into the sand in mortification. “I’m sorry,” she stammered.

“I must apologize to you. My head is so much bigger and harder. Are you okay? You aren’t dizzy. Come, let’s sit over here on the rocks.” Long, thick fingers curled around her elbow as she allowed him to guide her.

When he let go of her arm, he swiped sand away from the surface of a rock and then motioned her to sit. Her orange. Miranda turned and saw her orange lying in the sand at the base of the rock she had been leaning against. She ran back and scooped it up before the next wave would have taken it out to sea. She tucked it in her pocket along with the other one.

Walking back, she surveyed the man who had scared her, bumped her head and then shepherded her to safety. Tall, with a large frame and short-cropped, thick hair graying at the temples. He wore a golf shirt, shorts, and sandals. He appeared to be a visitor, too. But why had he spoken to her at all?

“Miranda.” She stretched out her hand.

His hands were hard. “Renato.” The lines around his brown eyes were crinkled. “Renato Monteiro.”

“Was I in danger?”
Annette believes home is where her stories percolate. And her home is a condo where she watches the urban life below, airplanes arrive and depart at the international airport, and the seasons change on farmland near the horizon. Annette travels extensively but always returns home to Regina, Saskatchewan. Whether at home or away, and even though directions are always a challenge, she wanders the streets, parks, and lanes observing how people live, love, and care for one another. Your way of sitting, holding hands, the way you tilt your head, or a t-shirt you wear may end up in one of her stories.

On her first trip to Olhos de Água, a fishing village in Portugal, she stopped at a café where the proprietors were a mother and daughter. Annette sat at the outdoor blue and white tiled table and ordered an espresso and brandy. While the sun warmed her back, she opened her new notebook. The older woman walked by carrying a basket, tipped her head toward Annette’s blank page, and shrugged. When black-laced heeled shoes struck the tile, and the scent of just-picked clementine oranges interrupted Annette’s writing, the woman plunked three oranges at the edge of her page. Annette cherishes this gift from one woman to another. Recently, Annette travels with an accompanying Orange and shares pictures on Social media as her way of honoring those Portuguese women. A version of this event appears in her new novel, Oranges for Miranda.

During another trip, while searching for an address in Malaga, Spain, she asked a well-dressed man carrying a floral paper-wrapped bouquet if he spoke English? Would he direct her to the address? With impeccable English, he suggested she walk with him. They chatted, and she discovered he was a lawyer in his final days of retiring. Finally, she asked to whom he was giving the flowers. He lifted the cover to reveal a large crucifix. This detail has not appeared in a story yet.

In a coffee shop, looking south between glass tower office buildings, she could be anywhere in the world. However, she is home watching people on Eleventh Avenue run for buses, bring tea to a panhandler, and holding mittened hands while bending into the wind.

Annette uses experiences she gathered as a nurse, town administrator, elected official, traveller, and member of a large extended family to inform her stories because writing is her joy.

Annette Bower is a Soul Mate Publishing author of five contemporary romance novels. Her novel Fearless Destiny was first runner-up in the 2017 Sweet Contemporary RONE awards and winner of the Raven Award. Her novel Ponytails and Promises was a finalist in the 2020 RONE Awards and is the 2020 winner of the Raven Award.

Monastiraki Flea Market
When I began your question, “What is the most romantic place you have visited and why?” I wrote a whole draft about Greece and the reason it was romantic to me. Finally, it came down to one event. Cam, my husband, partner, and friend discovered a place I didn’t think we would find on our trip. But as with all trips we’ve been on, he takes a particular interest in what I would like. I hadn’t even mentioned to him that I would like to find this place. It was in Athens. The guidebook, of course, gave directions, but we were with a tour group, and you only get a specific amount of free time. We had walked up to the top of the acropolis and visited the ancient ruins of the Parthenon. We took photos when we were in awe of walking in the same place as the ancient Greeks. Then, we had a few minutes at the Monastiraki Flea Market. Visiting markets is one of my favourite activities to do besides seeing the tourist highlights.

The Poet Shoemaker
A few days later, Cam suggested we take the train back to Athens from our hotel in Nea Makri. We did. Even though the four cardinal directions of N, S, E, W are in my survival kit, I don’t understand their significance. Cam learned to trust that I would find my way back to the meeting place at the approximate time. When I returned, he told me about the Poet Shoemaker shop he had seen. Cam knew I would be interested. He led me back through the winding streets, and I had a pair of sandals made by the Poet Shoemaker.

Cam and I have shared many trips, and he cares when we are on a ship, train or bus that I am facing the same direction that we are travelling because I get motion sick. He gives me space to go off on my own and walk the streets and watch people. He makes sure that he, too, has his adventures so that we can share what we’ve experienced over dinner. I am the more social of us, so I will introduce him to people I’ve met. He meets people that bring a different perspective to our travels, usually political and social issues. In Greece, for instance, he discovered why many buildings are left partially completed because there is a tax benefit. When we were in Egypt, he helped me stage some photographs. The idea may have seemed silly to many, but he indulges my creativity.

When we are on a beach, he knows I can’t tolerate harsh sunlight. So he carries the umbrella and helps dig it into the sand.

When we were part of a Riverboat cruise up the Rhine, Main and Danube, he wasn’t feeling well at our last stop. He encouraged me to take the tour and see Budapest and then spend the free time walking on my own, even though when I came back I reported I couldn’t find my way off a bridge, so I followed a man I assumed was local. This man did lead me off the bridge. However, when he stopped to relieve himself at the nearest bush, I walked along the canal and found our ship before it was ready to leave port.

There are so very many instances where we’ve been that he has made the experience fun, safe, and romantic. It isn’t only the candlelight dinners or the moonlit walks on the beach that make the place romantic. It is the many small and silent ways Cam is saying, “I love you.”
Annette Bower will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes & Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter. Good luck!
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