Friday, February 29, 2008

Taming Rafe, by Susan May Warren

Here’s a treat for all you Susan May Warren fans. Taming Rafe (Tyndale House), the much awaited second book in the Noble Legacy Series, is now available at a bookstore near you.

If you enjoyed Reclaiming Nick, then you’re going to love Nick’s younger brother, Rafe. He’s even got his own blog. Enter a contest to win a steak dinner with Rafe! How cool is that?

Read the first chapter .. Watch the trailer


Publisher’s Summary

Hotel heiress Katherine Breckenridge just wants to make a lasting difference in her world by running her late mothers charity foundation. But she fears she lacks the passion and courage to be as successful as her mother was--a fear that’s realized when money from the foundation goes missing and Katherine’s one shot to recover it is ruined by Rafe Noble. Two-time world champion bull rider Rafe Noble is at the top of his game when tragedy hits. Guilt stricken over the loss of his best friend, Rafe accidentally drives his truck into the lobby of the Breckenridge Hotel during Katherine’s fund-raiser. With a broken knee, a ruined reputation, and the threat of several lawsuits, Rafe goes back to his family’s ranch--the Silver Buckle--to recover. Desperate to save the foundation, Katherine heads to the Silver Buckle to talk Rafe into helping her raise the needed funds. But a few days under the bright Montana skies give her more than she bargained for, and Kat discovers there’s more to both herself and Rafe Noble than she realized.

From the Back Cover

Two-time world champion bull rider Rafe Noble
had no idea how quickly his world could end.

In less than eight seconds, he lost his title, his career, and his best friend—all on the dirt floor of a noisy rodeo arena.

Katherine Breckenridge just wants to make a difference by running her mother’s charity foundation. But the mysterious disappearance of half a million dollars has forced it to the brink of bankruptcy. Her last chance to save it is the annual fund-raiser, an event that’s destroyed by an out-of-control Rafe Noble.

Desperate to rescue the foundation, Katherine heads to the Noble family ranch to enlist Rafe’s help in raising the money he cost her in lost donations. What she doesn’t know is that Rafe is broke—in cash and in spirit—and that helping her could end up costing him his life.

Susan May Warren is the award-winning author of seventeen novels and novellas with Tyndale, Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. Her first book, Happily Ever After won the American Fiction Christian Writers Book of the Year in 2003, and was a 2003 Christy Award finalist. In Sheep’s Clothing, a thriller set in Russia, was a 2006 Christy Award finalist and won the 2006 Inspirational Reader’s Choice award. A former missionary to Russia, Susan May Warren now writes Suspense/Romance and Chick Lit full time from her home in northern Minnesota.

Please visit Susan’s website.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Stuck in the Middle, by Virginia Smith


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Stuck in the Middle

Revell (February 1, 2008)


Virginia Smith


Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker with the release of her first novel Just As I Am.

Since then she has contracted eight novels and published numerous articles and short stories. She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007) and her newest release, Stuck in the Middle(Revell, February 2008), book 1 in the Sister-to-Sister Series.

Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines. An energetic speaker, she loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Virginia is a speaker, and an avid Scuba diver. She and her husband Ted, divide their times between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean!


Joan Sanderson's life is stuck. Her older sister, Allie, is starting a family and her younger sister, Tori, has a budding career. Meanwhile, Joan is living at home with Mom and looking after her aging grandmother. Not exactly a recipe for excitement-or romance.

That is, until a hunky young doctor moves in next door. Suddenly Joan has a goal--to catch his eye and get a date. But it won't be easy. Pretty Tori flirts relentlessly with him and Joan is sure that she can't compete. But with a little help from God, Allie, and an enormous mutt with bad manners, maybe Joan can find her way out of this rut and into the life she's been hiding from.

Book 1 of the Sister-to-Sister series, Stuck in the Middle combines budding romance, spiritual searching, and a healthy dose of sibling rivalry that is sure to make you smile.

"A gentle story of one young woman's season of growth, deftly blending the tangle of family relationships with gifts of whimsey and revelation. A joy to read."
~SHARON HINCK, author of Renovating Becky Miller and Symphony of Secrets~

"Virginia Smith has created a charming and humerous novel that celebrates small-town life, generations of women caring for each other, and the value of finding a deeper, more active faith."
~SHARON DUNN, author of the Bargain Hunters mysteries~

Monday, February 25, 2008

Closer Than Your Skin, by Susan D. Hill

I don’t feature many nonfiction books, but here is one I am excited to share with all of you. Closer Than Your Skin (Waterbrook), by Susan D. Hill, gives its readers a breathtaking glimpse of intimacy with God and a practical map of how to achieve that intimacy for ourselves.

Closer Than Your Skin is available online and at a bookstore near you.


Like the vast majority of Christians, author Susan Hill felt frustrated in her search for spiritual intimacy, unable to bridge the gap between knowing about God and personally knowing Him. Closer Than Your Skin traces her journey beyond the trappings of faith to an everyday companionship with God.

Through stories of her awe-inspiring experiences, Hill assures readers that knowing God is more than spiritual rhetoric; it’s a genuine, tangible reality when our eyes are open to his presence. With undeniable honesty, she vividly captures the experience of genuine intimacy with the Creator and reveals how to move beyond obstacles that stand in the way.

Readers will discover that divine encounters aren’t reserved for moments of crisis or the select few. Through these unforgettable insights and the interactive study guide, they will find that God is standing at the door, knocking, asking to be allowed in.

Susan Hill is an award-winning feature writer, whose work has appeared in The War Cry and Light & Life. A long-time leader of interdenominational women’s groups, she also serves on the board of the Uganda Orphans Fund, a non-profit Christian relief organization. Susan and her husband, Duncan, have three children and live in Montana.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Adam, by Ted Dekker

Adam (Thomas Nelson), by Ted Dekker is scheduled for release on April 1st (no fooling). Reserve a copy today. This one is going to fly off the shelves.

I’m not even halfway through this gritty page-turner, so I’ll withhold final judgment until after I’ve finished. This much I can tell you, this book rocks! Maybe even his best work yet. I kid you not.


New York Times best-selling author Ted Dekker unleashes his most riveting novel yet . . . an elusive serial killer whose victims die of unknown causes and the psychologist obsessed with catching him.

FBI behavioral psychologist Daniel Clark has been made famous by his arguments that religion is one of society's greatest antagonists. What Daniel doesn't know is that his obsessive pursuit of a serial killer known only as "Eve" will end in his own death at Eve's hand. Twenty minutes later Daniel is resuscitated, only to be haunted by those twenty missing minutes of life.

It soon becomes painfully clear that the only way to stop Eve is to recover those missing minutes by dying . . . again. What isn't nearly as clear is just how many times he will have to die to discover the truth, not only about Eve, but about himself. Daniel will have to face haunting realities about demon possession in the modern world-and reevaluate his prejudice against religion-to stop Eve.

"As always with a Ted Dekker thriller, the detail is stunning, pointing to meticulous research in a raft of areas: police and FBI methods, forensic medicine, psychological profiling-in short, all that accompanies a Federal hunt for a serial killer. But Dekker fully reveals his magic in the latter part of the book, when he subtly introduces his darker and more frightening theme. It's all too creepily convincing. We have to keep telling ourselves that this is fiction. At the same time, we can't help thinking that not only could it happen, but that it will happen if we're not careful."
-David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna, authors of The Dark Sacrament

Ted Dekker is known for novels that combine adrenaline-laced stories with unexpected plot twists, unforgettable characters, and incredible confrontations between good and evil. Ted lives in Austin with his wife LeeAnn and their four children.

Visit the official Ted Dekker website

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Name Is Russell Fink, by Michael Snyder

I’ve been looking forward to the release of My Name Is Russell Fink (Zondervan), by Michael Snyder, since well—FOREVER! Not kidding...well, maybe just a little. Okay, as an occasional reader of Mike’s blog, it’s been fun keeping up-to-date on the novel’s progress, completion, and then learning of the publishing contract. Way to go Mike!

Nobody writes like Michael Snyder. The quirky Russell Fink is an absolutely adorable character, whose self-deprecating manner reminds me of Koontz’s, Odd Thomas. Warning: This book explodes with gut-busting-belly-laughs, unexpected twists and addictive characters.

My Name Is Russell Fink is coming in March to a bookstore near you. Or, you can reserve a copy at Amazon. In the meantime, you can read an excerpt here.


Russell Fink is an artist trapped in the body of a copier salesman. His fiancée is nearly as psychotic as his family. And someone has murdered Sonny, his allegedly clairvoyant basset hound. His mission is simple … salvage a job he hates, convince his flaky fiancée that their engagement really is over, and find Sonny’s killer.

Michael Snyder has spent the bulk of his professional career in sales, has fallen in love, and continues to struggle with the balance between art and vocation. He's never investigated a murder, much less that of an allegedly clairvoyant dog.


My Name is Russell Fink is laugh-out-loud storytelling—inventive, surprising, and chock-full of quirky authenticity. Michael Snyder’s Fink is the kind of character that stays with you like a strange realization, but in a good way. This honest, witty story will grab you by the heart, tickle your funny bone, and highlight the intrinsic, fragile beauty of humanity in a way you didn’t expect. An exceptional first book by a refreshing voice.
— Mary E. DeMuth, Author, “Watching the Tree Limbs”, “Wishing on Dandelions”, and “Daisy Chain”

A laugh-out-loud, wild romp of a mystery.
— Brandilyn Collins, Author, “Crimson Eve”

Clever, memorable, unpredictable. I want to write like Mike Snyder when I grow up. He makes it look easy. And he doesn’t settle for easy answers, which is good, since there are none.
— Brad Whittington, Author, “The Fred Books” and “The Cooper Books”

Monday, February 11, 2008

HEALING STONES, by Nancy Rue & Stephen Arterburn


Today’s novel spotlight is a selection of the CFBA (Christian Fiction Blog Alliance). HEALING STONES (Thomas Nelson), by Nancy Rue & Stephen Arterburn, is available now at bookstores everywhere, or online with just one click.

Okay, when I read the location, Port Orchard Yacht Club, this book had my full attention. After all, I was born, raised and even came to Jesus within two miles of the marina. However, the captivating first person narrative and heart-deep story soon won me over. It will win you over too!


With one flash of a camera, Demi's private life becomes public news. She doesn't know it yet, but her healing has just begun.

Christian college professor Demitria Costanas had vowed to end her affair with a colleague. But she gives into temptation one last time...and a lurking photographer captures her weakness for all to see. Quite literally, she's the woman caught in adultery. And almost everyone--herself included--has a stone to throw.

Enter Sullivan Crisp, a decidedly unorthodox psychologist with his own baggage. He's well-known for his quirky sense of humor and incorporation of "game show" theology into his counseling sessions. And yet there's something more he offers...hope for a fresh start.

Reluctantly the two of them begin an uplifting, uneven journey filled with healing and grace. By turns funny and touching, this story explores the ways humans hurt each other and deceive themselves. And it shows the endlessly creative means God uses to turn stones of accusation and shame into works of beauty that lead us onto the path of healing.

An auspicious debut for a candid yet tender series about pain, healing, and God's invitation for second chances.

Nancy Rue is the best-selling author of book for teens and adults, including the Christian Heritage series and the Lily series. Nancy has been an English teacher, a public speaker, as well as a contributor to several publications, and her books have sold more than a million copies. She and her husband, Jim, live in Tennessee.

Stephen Arterburn is the founder and chairman of New Life Ministries, the nation's largest faith-based broadcast, counseling, and treatment ministry, and is the host of the nationally syndicated New Life Live! daily radio program heard on more than 180 radio stations nationwide. Steve is also the founder of the Women of Faith® conferences and has written over sixty books, including the best-selling Every Man's series.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Sister's Ink, by Rebeca Seitz


This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing

Sister's Ink

Broadman & Holman Books (February 1, 2008)


Rebeca Seitz


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING was her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Sisters, Ink marks the first in a series of novels written by, for, and about scrapbookers. At the center of the creativity and humor are four unlikely young adult sisters, each separately adopted during early childhood into the loving home of Marilyn and Jack Sinclair.

Ten years after their mother Marilyn has died, the multi-racial Sinclair sisters (Meg, Kendra, Tandy, and Joy) still return to her converted attic scrapping studio in the small town of Stars Hill, Tennessee, to encourage each other through life’s highs and lows.

Book one spotlights headstrong Tandy, a successful yet haunted attorney now living back in Orlando where she spent the first eight years of her life on the streets as a junkie’s kid. When a suddenly enforced leave of absence at work leads her to an extended visit with her sisters in Stars Hill, a business oppor­tunity, rekindled romance, and fresh understanding of God’s will soon follow.


"What more can any woman want? Sisters, Ink weaves the love of sisters, the fun of scrapbooking, and a romance as sugary and tingling as Sweet Home Alabama. A must read for those who love southern fiction."--DiAnn Mills, author of Leather and Lace and When the Nile Runs Red

"Fun . . . funny . . . fantastic! Rebeca Seitz has brought together scrapbooking and sisterhood in a lively romp, with a love for going home again."--Eva Marie Everson, coauthor of The Potluck Club series.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

My SOUL To KEEP, by Melanie Wells

When I opened the shipping package, I expected a book, but instead I found an unsealed police evidence bag. My heart skipped a beat as I turned it over in my hands and examined it carefully. There were several papers inside, and yes, a book too.

I emptied out the contents and found My SOUL To KEEP (Multnomah), by Melanie Wells, as well as the usual press release. I had to laugh at the ingenuity of the promotion. I stared at the book and wondered if it would live up to the suspense portrayed by its packaging. It did, and more!

My SOUL To KEEP releases today, February 5, 2008. I don’t know if the bookstores will stock it on their shelves inside an evidence bag, but it’s definitely one book all you suspense/thriller junkies won’t want to live without.


As nasty as I knew Peter Terry to be, I never expected him to start kidnapping kids. Much less a sweet, funny little boy with nothing to protect him but a few knock-kneed women, two rabbits, and a staple gun…

It’s psychology professor Dylan Foster’s favorite day of the academic year–graduation day. A day of pomp, circumstance, and celebration. And after all the mortar boards are thrown, Dylan and some of her best friends will gather around a strawberry cake to celebrate Christine Zocci’s sixth birthday. But the joyful summer afternoon goes south when a little boy is snatched from a neighborhood park, setting off a chain of events that seem to lead exactly nowhere.

Police are baffled, but Christine’s eerie connection with the kidnapped child sends Dylan on a chilling investigation of her own. Is the pasty, elusive stranger Peter Terry to blame? Exploding light bulbs, the deadly buzz of a Texas rattlesnake, and the vivid, disturbing dreams of a little girl are just pieces in a long trail of tantalizing clues leading Dylan in her dogged search for the truth.

AUTHOR BIO A native of the Texas panhandle, Wells is a licensed psychotherapist, business owner, musician and author of the critically-acclaimed Dylan Foster psychological thrillers.

She attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, on a musical scholarship as a violinist. After graduating with a degree in English, she went on to obtain graduate degrees in counseling psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio and biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas. She has taught at the graduate level of both universities.

Since 1992, Wells has been in private practice as a counselor. She is the founder and director of LifeWorks Counseling Associates, a collaborative community of therapists, in Dallas and is a clinical member of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy. Growing up in a musical family where one’s identity was determined by the art they portrayed, Wells was constantly surrounded by creativity. She began her literary career because she wanted to funnel this creativity and her everyday observations into a good book. She believes that the natural creative rhythm of music can be extended to the natural rhythm of the written word. Her own musical background and life experience as a psychologist has prolifically impacted her writing throughout the years.

Her debut psychological thriller, “When the Day of Evil Comes,” released in 2005 and sold more than 25,000 copies in the first six months. “The Soul Hunter,” her subsequent book, followed in 2006. Her newest book, “My Soul to Keep,” releases Feb. 5, 2008, from Multnomah Books, a division of Random House.

Wells currently lives and writes in Dallas.


"My Soul to Keep, the third and best Dylan Foster thriller, again demonstrates Melanie Wells’s wit, intelligence, and knack for telling a swiftly paced, complex story. Through a wonderful network of plots and subplots–and the ruminations of the ever-complicated Dr. Foster–the novel reveals the helplessness and fierce love at the heart of parenting, as well as the way that each of us is responsible for children, our own and others. Wells takes kids seriously–their fears, their vulnerabilities, their spiritual wisdom and resiliency. Written with passion, a good dose of humor and, dare I say it, soul, this novel reminds us that we all, with grace and good fortune, bumble our way toward salvation.”
- K. L. Cook, author of Last Call and The Girl from Charnelle

“My Soul to Keep is a rich and meaningful story. Like water rising to a boil, its suspense sneaks up on you–before you know, you’re in the thick of a frightening drama. This is a story painful to witness, but a pleasure to read. Superbly crafted.”
- Robert Liparulo, author of Deadfall, Germ, and Comes a Horseman

“My Soul to Keep is a great example of gritty reality colliding with spiritual questions. Melanie Wells proves to be one of the most consistent writers around, threading mystery and supernatural intrigue around memorable characters. I’m a huge fan.”
- Eric Wilson, author of A Shred of Truth and the novelization of Facing the Giants

“My Soul to Keep is a marvelous book. Lyrical and moving, the story and characters will stay with you long after you turn the last page. I can’t wait for Melanie Wells’s next novel.”
- Harry Hunsicker, Shamus Award-nominated author of Crosshairs

“In My Soul to Keep, Melanie Wells delivers tightly-woven mystery and profound drama with nail-biting intensity and a light touch. The struggles and triumphs of the wry and delightfully-flawed Dylan Foster allow us a glimpse of God’s mercy at our worst and His best. My Soul to Keep is Melanie Wells’s best book yet and one not to be missed. I can’t wait for the next one.”
- Kathryn Mackel, author of Vanished

“One moment, My Soul to Keep will have you laughing out loud, and the next you’ll be under the covers with a flashlight, questioning unseen things, and hoping the ride never ends. Melanie Wells has one of the freshest, most uniquely readable voices in fiction. A few pages will have you hooked.” - Creston Mapes, author of Nobody

Friday, February 1, 2008

SISTERS, INK - by Rebeca Seitz

It is February FIRST, time for the FIRST Day Blog Tour! (Join our alliance! Click the button!) The FIRST day of every month we will feature an author and his/her latest book's FIRST chapter!

This month's feature is:

Rebeca Seitz

and her book:


B&H Books (February 1, 2008)


Rebeca Seitz is Founder and President of Glass Road Public Relations. An author for several years, PRINTS CHARMING being her first novel.

Rebeca cut her publicity teeth as the first dedicated publicist for the fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers. In 2005, Rebeca resigned from WestBow and opened the doors of GRPR, the only publicity firm of its kind in the country dedicated solely to representing novelists writing from a Christian worldview.

Rebeca makes her home in Kentucky with her husband, Charles, and their son, Anderson.


Tandy’s purple stiletto heel tapped in perfect rhythm to the pulse that threatened to leap out of her neck. She stared at the phone, willing it to ring and someone on the other end to declare this a joke. Her boss did not just call her into his office. Now.

The smooth tones from her CD player of Ole Blue Eyes crooning I Did it My Way mocked rather than soothed. She had to calm down, but Meg’s idea of music soothing the savage soul was not working. Fingers shaking, Tandy snatched up the receiver and dialed her sister. Calm, stoic Meg always knew what to do in a crisis. From falling off the swing set to supplying Oreos and caffeine the night before Tandy’s bar exam, Meg was a pro at handling crises and keeping her three sisters’ lives humming.

A busy signal sounded, and Tandy slammed the phone back down. Of course Meg would be on the phone right now. Why on earth couldn’t that woman understand the helpfulness of call-waiting? Tandy could hear Meg’s soft, persuasive response now: Why would I stop talking to one person before our conversation ended, T? It’s rude and I just won’t have it in my house.

Grabbing the receiver again, Tandy punched in Kendra’s numbers, jumping when yet another hawk flew into her window. Why did Orlando have to have a courthouse with the perfect nooks and crannies to build a nest? Ever since the completion of this new structure, hawks circled attorneys in the Bellsouth building across the on a daily basis.

Kendra’s melodic voice floated over the line, its harmonious tones the same as in childhood: "You have reached the voicemail of Kendra Sinclair…"

Tandy slammed the receiver down again and glared at the circling hawks. Of course Mr. Beasley was angry. He had every right to be, really. That fat deposit in her checking account every other week meant the continuation of her dedication to keeping their clients out of jail. Certainly it meant she wouldn’t hand the prosecution the very evidence they needed to obtain a conviction. She fiddled with the purple and black silk scarf tied around her neck.

Would Joy be any help at all in this situation? Joy might be the baby sister, but her quiet strength could come in handy right now. Except that Joy loved to talk and Christopher Beasley was waiting. The thought of him in his office high above the hawks, tapping his long fingers on the glass top of a heavy mahogany desk, didn’t allow for long phone conversations.

Tandy’s office phone rang and she jumped. "Tandy Sinclair."

"Tandy, it’s Anna." Tandy smiled, thinking of the gentle lady seated a few floors above her. "Mr. Beasley’s on his third cup of coffee."

Her smile vanished. "Oh, no, Anna. Couldn’t you have dawdled a bit? You know how he gets with caffeine overload."

"And you know how he gets when I dawdle. You’ve got maybe three minutes before he asks me to get cup number four."

"I’m on my way." Tandy pushed back from her desk and stood up. "Thanks, Anna."

"No problem, sweetie."

Tandy dropped the phone in its cradle, her gaze darting around the room for something, anything that would prevent the next ten minutes.

If that idiot Harry Simons had been one iota less smarmy, this predicament could have been avoided. His outright ogling of her figure had been bad enough, but certainly not the first time Tandy had been forced to ignore a man’s unwanted attentions. They all seemed to believe her red, wavy hair was a sign she’d fulfill their wildest dreams. Heck, Mr. Beasley had probably even made that assumption at some point, as evidenced by his swift promotions landing her in a cushy corner office of Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton.

Tandy swigged caffeine and paced the office. It wasn’t even Harry’s condescension. His superiority, rooted in maleness, made no effort to hide the belief that a brain resting between the pierced ears of a thirty-year-old female graduate of Yale School of Law somehow negated its existence. That idiocy didn’t even raise her blood pressure. She fingered her pearl earrings and grimaced as a hawk glided to rest on the ledge outside.

No, she would have been fine, and Christopher Beasley would not at this very moment be preparing to fire her, except for one innocent little lunch with small-minded Harry. Why, oh why, had she agreed to go to lunch with the lizard? (Honestly, his head rivaled the shape of geckos that ran in and out of every flower bed in Central Florida.) Come to think of it, his eyes were shifty like a gecko, too. Was the single life getting to her so much that she’d date a lizard? She stopped and tapped the window ledge. Meg and Kendra were on her case to date more. But who had time to meet people after spending sixty-five hours a week at the office? She sighed. The sisters just didn’t understand life in the city.

"You guys have got it easy," she said to the hawks. "Circle, eat, rest, repeat. With the occasional head bang into a window to keep us lawyers on our toes." She shook her head.

Well, it didn’t matter now. Mr. Beasley awaited her presence and it would only get worse the longer she stood here. Her heels sank into the plush pearl-colored carpet as she crossed the office, ignoring the latest sacrifice to her black thumb—a nearly dead African violet. She opened her office door and cast one last glance at what, in about ten minutes, probably would not be her office. Oh well. Maybe she could take the plant to Anna.

She picked up the violet. At least the charade of defending a slimeball, who made fun of an old homeless man to make himself seem big, would come to an end. And the day was still young; she could hit the beach before the lunch rush hit I-4.

Shoulders thrown back, chin up, Tandy made her way down the hallway and entered an elevator lined in the obligatory mahogany, brass, and mirrors, testimony to Christopher’s desire to never rock a boat even in the decoration of his law firm’s offices. She eyed her reflection and saw steel in the brown eyes staring back. Cutting Harry off at the knees in public wasn’t the best financial move to make. How would she buy food for Cooper? Pay his vet bills? Keeping an old basset hound with arthritic knees and hips in comfort was a pricey endeavor. Still, it had been worth it to see the shock on Harry’s face when she announced in her loud voice the impending completion of his career. From a 9x9 prison cell, that cardboard box would look like heaven.

She checked her chignon, tucking in a stray curl and smoothing the rest down. Picturing Harry’s smug, pudgy face behind bars did way more to calm her pulse rate than Sinatra’s croon. The elevator dinged, announcing her arrival to Christopher Beasley’s penthouse lair.

Tandy took a deep breath, tightened her grip on the sagging violet, sent up a prayer of thanks that she’d picked the Ann Taylor suit today—must look sharp when being fired--and stepped across the threshold.

"He’s waiting for you." Sympathy shimmered in Anna’s blue eyes. The Orlando sun shining through the window made Anna’s hair glow like a fresh pearl.

Tandy set the violet down on Anna’s desk. "Thanks, Anna. It’s been good knowing you. I wonder if you might coax this little guy back to life?"

Anna raised her eyebrows. "Tandy, how many times do I have to tell you? You’re a danger to plants." She smiled and wagged her finger. "You taking them in isn’t an act of kindness. You leave the greenery to us old chicks."

Tandy laughed. "Yes ma’am." She took another breath. "I guess I should go in now."

Anna sobered. "Guess so."

"Still on cup number three?"

"I just took in cup four. I doubt he’s taken a sip yet, though. He’s slowing down."

"Thanks for everything, Anna."

"You’re welcome, honey. Take care of yourself. And you call me if you need anything, hear?"

Tandy nodded, only now realizing that losing her job also meant losing Anna’s kind wisdom. She blinked hard. Crying at work would not do. She stepped to Christopher’s door and knocked.

"Come." His deep voice bellowed through the door and Tandy’s pulse kicked up again. This was it. For the first time ever, Tandy Sinclair was about to be fired from a job. When she’d moved to Orlando to take this job and declare war on the city that took her childhood, Tandy never would have guessed she’d become an actual beach bum.

"Tandy, sit down, sit down." Christopher stood, gesturing to a chair and patting the telltale stripes of his Ben Silver tie. "Seems we have a little situation on our hands." The hawks circled one story below his window, the tops of their feathered backs lit by the sun.

Tandy sat down and nodded.

Christopher’s padded leather chair creaked with his weight. He settled back, propped his elbows on the arms, and templed his fingers. "Harry tells me he’s headed for a prison cell."

She nodded again.

"He also tells me that would be your fault."

Another nod. This must be what bobbleheads felt like.

"And he says he’s ready to sue this firm for inadequate representation unless I do something about it."

She quirked an eyebrow. Score one for Harry.

"I’ve assured Harry that there must be some misunderstanding since you’re one of the most capable attorneys this firm has seen in quite some time. So, please, Tandy, explain to me how one of our biggest clients, someone for whom you serve as lead counsel, suddenly finds himself facing jail."

Tandy tilted her head. He was giving her an out, bless him. Leave it to Christopher Beasley, King of Calm and Proper Appearances, to smooth the choppy waters and restore her professional boat to proper order. An image of Harry’s sneer popped into her mind, though, and the thought of backtracking fled like money from her wallet during a trunk sale.

She smiled and adopted her lawyer voice. "Well, Mr. Beasley, I appreciate your belief in my professional abilities, but it seems Mr. Simons has some rather extreme positions regarding personal values that led me to determine he is, in fact, guilty of the crime for which he has been accused. When I asked him directly, he admitted as much to me."

It was Christopher’s turn to raise a brow. "He told you he embezzled funds from Hope House?"

Tandy nodded. "Yes, sir. I advised him I could not put him on the stand, since I would be suborning perjury, but he refused to listen. It was either let him lie to the court or remove myself from his case. I chose the latter."

Christopher swiveled his chair and stared out at the courthouse. What she wouldn’t give for a hawk to barrel into the glass. Anything to break the tension. Losing this job wouldn’t be the end of the world…just of her bank account, for the time being. She really didn’t want to lose the paycheck, but Harry gave her no choice.

The man wouldn’t listen to reason if someone etched it in a brick and threw it at his head.

She thought about their lunch again, seeing the hump-backed old man picking through a dumpster across the street. His coat had been threadbare, but Tandy knew too well the value of a coat, threadbare or not, on the streets. The priceless nature of every layer between skin and street. How the three bites of cheeseburger he found wrapped in its foil was enough to fill his belly for an entire day.

Harry’s voice had faded into the background of restaurant chatter as Tandy’s mind flew back to the seven years she spent living in a box with her mother. Before she met Marian and Jack Sinclair. Hearing the trains rumble past where they camped. Begging people for money, searching for a dry place when it rained, for a piece of food that hadn’t already been discovered by bugs. Watching her mom bob and weave as she walked, that scary light in her eyes that was both mesmerizing and terrifying because it meant mom wouldn’t make sense.

Tandy knew now her childhood had been stolen the first day her mother lit a match beneath the bowl of a pipe.

"Stupid junkie. Probably lost his job because of some drug habit." Harry’s voice joined a thousand other voices that still kept her awake on too many nights. "Bet he chooses to live like that. Easier than getting a job and working for his money like the rest of us."

Tandy looked at Harry sitting there in his three-thousand-dollar pin-striped suit, black crocodile shoes, and platinum cuff links with the Brooks Brothers insignia. Thought about reminding him his money came from his father’s hard work and planning, but decided against it. Harry was, after all, a huge client.

"Oh, probably not, Harry. You’d be amazed what some of the people living on the streets have been through." She sipped her water and willed her blood not to boil at the stupidity of the man before her.

He sneered and pointed a stubby finger at her. "Don’t be naïve, Tandy. That man could get a job flipping burgers at McDonald’s just as easy as sit out there with a cup in his hand, begging me to part with my cold hard cash that I worked very hard to get."

Silence was about as possible as finding a pair of Ferragamo’s in a size ten. On sale. Never gonna happen.

"Harry, how would he get a job? I doubt he owns any clothing other than what’s on his back. What would he wear to a job interview? Where would he get enough sleep in one sitting to be awake for an entire shift? What address would he even put on his job application?"

"Why, Tandy, I didn’t know you cared so much about our fair city’s homeless degenerates." His voice, so patronizing and smooth, grated. It fought with the pockmarks on his face to portray a polished image. "I’d think, with such convictions, you would have a hard time taking my case."

"Why is that, Harry? You didn’t embezzle from Hope House. Which means you didn’t take money from the mouths of homeless people. Which means my awareness of the plight of the homeless works in your favor." She took a sip of her water and tried to relax.

He wagged his finger at her. "Tsk, tsk, tsk, Tandy. There goes your naiveté again."

It took her a second to catch on. "Excuse me?"

He grinned and, for the first time, Tandy knew what jowls meant. "I think we both know what I’m saying."

"I certainly hope not. Because if you’re confessing to taking money from a homeless shelter, I can’t put you on the stand. I’d be suborning perjury."

Christopher cleared his throat, snapping Tandy back into the present. He swiveled around to face her. "I’m in a predicament, Tandy. Harry Simons brings a lot of money to this firm, been with us for years. That must count for something. Yet I find myself struggling with the thought of firing you since I understand the ethical dilemma you faced."

A tiny smidgen of hope blossomed in her heart.

Christopher placed his palms down on his glass-topped desk, an act of finality. "And yet, I see no course of action but to terminate your employment with Meyers, Briggs, and Stratton. Anything less would cause serious repercussions in our relationship with Harry Simons."

She fought to breathe normally. Blinked to hold back tears. Her savings account was basically nonexistent, which meant she and Cooper better start looking for a big refrigerator box to call home. Or maybe finding Cooper another family to live with would be a better idea. One of the sisters could take him. Meg, or maybe Joy. Kendra would be a last resort. She was as good with pets as Tandy was with plants. Well, except for Kitty, but cats were self-sufficient.

A hawk slammed into the window, making Christopher jump and spill the coffee sitting on his desk. "Dadgum it! Anna!"

Anna came rushing in, saw the mess, and snagged a roll of paper towels from the cabinet by the door without a word.

"You’ve got to call somebody about these hawks, Anna. They’re ruining my concentration!"

"Yes, Mr. Beasley. I’ll make the call today." Anna shot Tandy a sideways glance. Tandy grinned. Seeing the unflappable Christopher Beasley in a snit was worth getting fired--almost. Anna sopped up the mess and left the room.

"Now, where were we?" He pushed paper around the desk, checking to ensure all the coffee was gone.

Tandy cleared her throat. "I think you were firing me."

Christopher stopped arranging paper and looked up at her. "Right, right. Well, I don’t think we have to be that drastic. How about a leave of absence?"

Thank heaven for hawks.

"A leave of absence, sir?" Not to look a gift horse in the mouth, but, hey, it had to be asked.

"Yes. I think that will mollify our good friend Harry." Christopher nodded and patted the desktop, warming to his idea. "I’ll let him know you’ve taken some time to think through your behavior and will come back to the firm when you’ve gotten some perspective. Say, two months?"

Two months? She calculated the amount in her checking account and began deducting bills. With no extracurricular spending at all, it might work. Two months to find something else or learn how to eat crow. Okay, maybe this was a good thing. There was no immediate need to take another boring job in a legal firm. Two months was a ton of time. Figuring out her professional passion should be a snap. She could almost see Meg’s eyes roll at that thought.

"Thank you for that, sir."

Christopher smiled. "It’s the least we can do. You’ve been a good employee. I just wish this mess hadn’t occurred."

Poor Christopher. Conflict between an employee and a major client. He must have been up all night figuring out ways to smooth ruffled feathers.

She shrugged. "These things happen for a reason, I think." She stood up and held out her hand. Christopher took it with his own limp one and made a motion that might optimistically be called a handshake.

"Good luck, Tandy. We’ll see you back here in two months."

"Thank you." She turned on one Ferragamo heel and walked out of Christopher Beasley’s office. Eight weeks of nothingness spread out before her like a gift. There had to be a way to make money off of this.

She tapped her chin and watched the lights over the elevator. Maybe some tourist would want her apartment for a couple of weeks. Tourists would pay just about anything for somewhere to stay during season. A couple thousand bucks, easy.

But if someone were to stay in her apartment, where could she go? The whisper of her heart tickled Tandy’s brain. Stars Hill, Tennessee’s rolling countryside, Daddy’s smile, Momma’s painted roses, the sisters’ scrapbooks…

The ding of the elevator dispelled her mind’s image, but not the idea. Stars Hill. Well, it had been a while since she’d been back. Three years, if memory served. And, with Daddy and the sisters around, there wouldn’t be any need to spend money on restaurants. Though what she’d save might be spent on scrapbook stuff. It was one thing to scrap alone and quite another to sit around Momma’s old scrapping table with the girls.

Tandy exited the elevator and smiled. If she left right now, she’d be home in Stars Hill by morning.

She walked into her office, snagged her briefcase, and whipped out a tiny cell phone on the way back to the elevator.



"Hey, T, what’s up in the big city?"

Tandy laughed. "Well, not me. I’ve got eight weeks of a sudden vacation."

"What? What happened?"

"I’ll tell you all about it when I get there."

Meg’s squeal pierced Tandy’s ears and she jerked the phone away from her head. "You’re coming home? To Stars Hill? Yes!! When will you be here? Wait, what happened? Did you get fired? Did something happen at work?" Tandy could hear Meg’s three kids squealing now in the background. They must have caught on to their mom’s excitement.

"Seriously, I’ll tell you when I get there. Call Kendra and Joy. Breakfast at Joy’s, 9 a.m."

"You’ve got it, sister. James, get down off that table!" Tandy could just picture Meg’s eldest. He must have grown a foot by now. "I’m telling you that child will climb on anything," Meg said.

"Go keep your kids from tearing down the house. I’ve got to get home, get all my scrapping stuff packed, call the rental company to let some crazy tourist in my place for a couple of weeks, and get on the highway."

"On the road again…" Meg’s voice blared through the phone.

"Sheesh, Sis, are you ever going to stop with the songs?"

"Not as long as there’s a breath in me." Tandy heard scuffling. "James, put your sister down! I am not kidding with you, mister!"

Tandy chuckled. "See you in the morning."

"Okay. Be careful and buckle up."

"You’ve got it."

Tandy snapped the phone closed and walked through the parking deck toward her new little silver BMW 323. Man was this car going to stand out in sleepy little Stars Hill.