Friday, February 28, 2020

Her Billionaire Bodyguard (Black Tie Billionaires Book 2) by Jo Grafford

After walking in her two sisters’ shadows most of her life, Bailey Maddox secures a promotion as Vice President of Marketing at DRAW Corporation. She is anxious to prove her worth to her hard-to-please family, but a series of threats propels her straight into the arms of a hunky bodyguard. Knowing her billionaire family will never welcome him into their inner circle due to his lack of wealth and social consequence, she resists the attraction that sparks between them.

Don Kappelman, ex Special Forces Weapons Sergeant, is in the business of serving and protecting. That includes looking after the stunning Bailey Maddox at a charity ball, even though he knows associating himself with a Maddox spells trouble. It also spells heartache when they share a kiss that she brushes off as simply part of his job.

Torn between old loyalties and new, past dangers and present ones, they play the game of hearts within the treacherous realms of the rich and famous.

Available on Amazon
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About Jo Grafford

Jo writes sweet historical and contemporary romance stories — with humor, sass, and happily ever-afters. She loves to visit with readers in her Cuppa Jo Readers group on Facebook at To receive a personal email about each book she publishes, join her New Release Email List at or follow her on BookBub at or her Amazon author page at

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Interview with Nino Gugunishvili, author of You Will Have a Black Labrador

Today you get to meet Nino Gugunishvili, the author of a collection of essays and short stories compiled in You Will Have a Black Labrador. I also have a sneak peek inside the book for you. Please enjoy before you download your copy. And then follow the tour to learn even more. Best of luck entering the giveaway!


Describe your book in one sentence or fewer than 25 words.

A humorous collection of essays on simple things that matter; on not taking yourself too seriously and on finding yourself.

What was the inspiration behind this book?

As much as I love fiction, I’m also an avid reader of biographies, memoirs and personal stories, essays and creative nonfiction, so I guess the idea of “You Will Have a Black Labrador” came from a wish to try and write in that genre. What inspired me to write? Probably my unconscious or maybe conscious desire to reflect on the strength of the memories we have and cherish, on some of the key things in our lives, whether it’s our family ties, friendships, the people and events that had influenced us, or affected our upbringing. A great part of the inspiration came from two of the wonderful online journals; Virtual Zine and Funny Pearls who published two of my short stories, motivating me to write more. I just want to say a huge thank you to both of them!

Who would be your dream narrator for the audiobook version?

Ooh, Jennifer Aniston, Viola Davis or Renee Zellweger!

Why should we read your book?

Because I hope, it’ll make you smile at least once! No, actually I’m hoping you’ll have a good laugh!

You should read this book because it’s about love and the many expressions and forms love can emphasize. Because it’s about hope! Because it’s about remembering what shaped you, your family, your culture, your traditions. Because it’s about dogs, and who doesn’t like dogs?!

What do you hope people will get out of your book?

That no matter what our life circumstances are, no matter the differences in our social or cultural backgrounds, no matter what part of the world we live in, and no matter what path we choose, there are universal stories that we have in common and share.

Tell us about your other published works.

My debut fiction novel: “Friday Evening, Eight O’Clock” is about a young freelance journalist Tasha, who decides to change her life entirely and moves to Paris, France, in search of a new job, romance, and mindblowing adventures. I’d totally recommend it to you!

What is your writing routine?

My writing routine consists of trying to focus on work without constantly checking my social media accounts, drinking several cups of coffee and deciding whether I have to cut my hair shorter or not! On a serious side, I try to work uninterrupted as much as I can every day, in the mornings and afternoons preferably. There were several times when I jumped out of bed in the middle of the night longing to write, but up to this moment, it’s rare. My muse is a freakishly morning person, a champion of stealing snacks from the cupboard!

What is the best writing advice you ever received?

It’s not a piece of advice I received personally, but I love this quote from Anne Lamott: 
“How to write: Butt in chair. Start each day anywhere. Let yourself do it badly. Just take one passage at a time. Get butt back in chair.” And there’s another quote from Lisa Genova “Show yourself. Be brave. Be vulnerable. Open your heart. That’s where the real stuff lives and breathes. Now write.”

What is your favorite part about writing?

Sometimes I think that the sole fact of being able to write is a blessing. My favorite part of writing is seeing how words form into a story, trailing their way from mind to paper. I love the excitement and thrill of starting a new story.

What is your least favorite part about writing?

Finding all the imperfections in what I thought was flawless and making revisions all over again. That said, editing of course!

You Will Have a Black Labrador

Love, memories, family, enduring friendships, cooking, movies, dogs, travels, hairstyles, and saying Yes to many No’s in a witty, yet often sentimental, journey of self-discovery…

You Will Have a Black Labrador is a collection of semiautobiographical essays forming a narrative about a modern Georgian woman. Her stories range from the search for a perfect romantic partner to exploring food as an integral part of the Georgian culture. Many of the vignettes center on childhood memories or weird family traditions, such as the way family members stay connected no matter if they’re deceased or alive. One essay reveals how making a simple omelette can change your life; and that No can be the most powerful word in any language. She shows us, too, that a haircut can be a tribute to the movies you love as well as a path to your freedom; and how owning a dog always brings unexpected experiences. In this poignantly humourous collection, reality mixes and interferes with an imaginative world in so many surprising ways.

Read an excerpt:
‘That’s it,’ Annika, the vet, told me after the second injection. I bent over, burying my face into your fur, inhaling your smell, stroking your fluffy, velvety ears. I didn’t cry. ‘Bye, see you…’ I whispered, stood up, and left the room, still gripping your blue retractable leash. The other vet came in with a huge empty dog food bag and put your body inside, covered in a blanket, then zipped the bag up.

‘I’ll now call the burial service. It’s forty lari, and I won’t take anything for putting him down,’ she said. I paid and gave her your leash. ‘Give it to someone,’ I told her.

‘Yep, Figu was a happy dog, so let’s give it to someone who might need it,’ Annika agreed, and I left, into a sunny January afternoon.

My right hand still senses the grip of the leash, as if we’re going for a walk, and I hold the leash tight to avoid car bumpers and tires on which you regularly peed, as if we’re to avoid other dogs coming our way, because you, let’s be honest, were never properly socialized, and never really liked other dogs. You sure preferred humans, your squishy orange ball, and my slippers.

Before meeting you, I didn’t know what the hell ‘blue roan’ meant. All the cocker spaniels I’ve met or seen were either black or red coloured. But wait, no, that’s not true. Many years ago, there was one particular dog I adored....

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About Nino Gugunishvili

"You Will Have a Black Labrador" is Nino Gugunishvili’s recently released collection of short essays. She is also the author of a women’s fiction novel, Friday Evening, Eight O’Clock, published in English and Russian. She resides in Tbilisi, Georgia.

Twitter: @NinoGuguni

Instagram: ngugunishvili

Facebook Author page: Nino Gugunishvili


Nino Gugunishvili will be awarding a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Slick Filth by Erato

Are you a fan of historical stories? This one takes a comedic look satire and censorship based on a true story from a few centuries ago in England. Even more fun is you'll really feel like you're back in the 1700s with how the book is laid out. I have a sneak peek to help you understand what I'm talking about. Be sure to let the author know what you think and then follow the rest of the tour for more peeks! Best of luck entering the giveaway!

Slick Filth

It's 1737, and England is on edge: someone has tried to assassinate the King at the theatre, and every stageplay is a satire of the royal family. Enter Prime Minister Robert Walpole with a cunning scheme that will grant him power to censor anything that goes on stage -- by writing the filthiest play ever conceived.

Get ready for sex, castratos and cannibalism, because the Prime Minister is ready to shock the city!

Based on true events, Slick Filth includes a recreation of the notorious play The Golden Rump, which so offended Parliament that new censorship laws were enacted for the first time in England's history. The book is typeset in historical fonts, making you feel like you've been pulled back in time to watch the drama unfold first-hand.

Take a sneak peek inside!

About Erato

Be taken to another ERA with ERATO.

Erato (also stylized erAto) is a Hispanic American author of historical fiction. Her stories are often set in the Georgian/Regency period, taking the characters past the traditional bonnets and balls into gritty cities, medical mishaps and painful love affairs. Her stories color in the forgotten and irregular aspects of history, and several of her books are written in the historical English of the period.

Erato will be awarding a $15 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Review of Sleuth on Safari by A. R. Kennedy

Welcome to the blurb blitz tour for Sleuth on Safari by A.R. Kennedy! In addition to giving you an excerpt to enjoy from this cozy mystery, I'm also reviewing it, because I love to read cozy mysteries. Follow the tour for even more excerpts and reviews and let the author know your thoughts along the way. Plus there's a great giveaway for a $25 gift card!

Sleuth on Safari

Naomi and her estranged sister are off on a trip of a lifetime—an African safari, a bucket list trip for Naomi on which she got a last-minute deal. Naomi thinks traveling with her sister will be the worst part of her African safari until she finds one of their fellow travelers, the unlikable Dr. Higgins, dead. She gets more adventure than she bargained for when she starts investigating what she thinks is murder but the luxury lodge says was a tragic accident. She only has a few vacation days, and a few game drives, to find the killer.

Read an excerpt:
Something red on the walkway, about fifteen feet away from me, toward his room, caught my eye.

I slowly walked toward it. From a few feet away, it looked like a blob, something spilled. As I stood over it, it looked like a paw print. Like the ones my childhood dog, Molly, would leave in the kitchen after playing in the mud. But it was red.

I looked to my left, down the walkway, toward the fifth cabin, Dr. Higgins’ cabin. “Dr. Higgins, you there?” I shouted. There was no answer. I hesitated but then stepped off the walkway. Slowly, I walked toward his suite, listening intently for any sound. I stood at his door, which was ajar. “Dr. Higgins? It’s Naomi from next door. Everything okay?”

With each step, I saw more red. Maybe he had spilled some wine. He liked the red wine. Not as much as Jack liked his beer but it was his drink of choice for the trip so far. He was still at dinner when Charlotte and I left last night. Maybe he came back to his room and had a few more glasses. And somehow spilled it everywhere outside his room.

Standing at the door, I yelled in, “Dr. Higgins? It’s Naomi. I’m going to come in, okay?”

No response. No refusal but no permission either. I went in anyway.

Seated in the sitting area’s plush chair, facing the window and the beautiful landscape, was Dr. Higgins. His head was hanging back. His hand was hanging down by his side, a broken wineglass on the floor next to it. There was even more red everywhere inside the room too. Maybe he’d had a late night after all.

I poked him on his shoulder and prepared for him to yell at me for entering his room unauthorized.

Still no response.

“Dr. Higgins, it’s time for our morning drive.” I tapped him again. “You’re late,” I added, just to annoy him.

Still nothing.

I walked around him to face him head on.

And I screamed.

**My thoughts**
I love cozy mysteries, and there are so many of them out there. This one particularly caught my eye because it takes place in Africa. Naomi and her sister Charlotte go on a safari in Africa, which Naomi landed for an excellent price. (How that came to be is later revealed.) There are all of these great descriptions of all of their safari rides and all of the animals that they encounter. Only the one guy who is a stick in the mud PITA randomly dies of an apparent hyena attack. Only Naomi thinks something more sinister actually happened and attempts to find out what happened.

Her investigation is not as corny as what other cozy mystery sleuths do. She does get pretty sneaky along the way, but is working really hard to uncover the truth. You are right there with her as she tries to figure it all out. I had suspicions of who the murderer was, but was really left guessing until the end.

I enjoyed watching the mystery unravel. And I particularly enjoyed the entire African setting. I am going to watch out for more in this series for sure!

Thank you to the author/publisher for the review copy. All opinions are my own.

About A.R. Kennedy

A R Kennedy lives in Long Beach, New York, with her two pups. She works hard to put food on the floor for them. As her favorite T-shirt says, ‘I work so my dog can have a better life'. She’s an avid traveler. But don’t worry. While she’s away, her parents dote on their grand-puppies even more than she does. Her writing is a combination of her love of travel, animals, and the journey we all take to find ourselves.

Links to social media:

A. R. Kennedy will be awarding a $25 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Where the Hell Is My Bacon? by Beth Anne Campbell

Bacon bits. An untimely health directive. Frazzled technology departments. These may not sound like the makings of a company-wide protest, but, when mixed together with a dash of humor and a pinch of social media, a hilarious and enlightening story begins to unfold. Unexpectedly, fried pork becomes the voice of the people and a beacon of change.

Where The Hell Is My Bacon? is the true story of how bacon mastered change management and employee engagement in modern-day corporate culture and helped an entire department find its mojo again. It is a polygamous marriage between bacon, business, and humor with timely messages about overcoming poor management.

The removal of bacon bits from the company cafeteria salad bar—courtesy of an executive health mandate—could not have come at a worse time. The IT department was in the middle of a demanding transition of their day-to-day work to an offshore team. People feared for their jobs, confidence in management was nil, communication abysmal, and morale was at an all-time low. So, when the health decree came down and bacon disappeared from the cafeteria, it was the final blow.

Following a single social media post lamenting the loss of their beloved pork, the voice of the department exploded. The masses had suffered enough, and they revolted in a grand, food-centric protest.

It was a sad day for bacon but a triumphant moment for the people, who brought to light important lessons about good leadership, employee engagement, communication, and trust.

Available on Amazon
(affiliate link)

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

105 Things You Need to Know to Keep Your Brain Happy and Healthy by Paul M. Willette, MD

How does memory work? 

How can you curb anxiety and stress in your life? 

Why is movement important? 

What does “brain health” really look like? 

The brain is the most complex known structure in the universe. When the brain is not working optimally, your entire body is affected. The opposite is true as well: when the body is not working correctly, your brain is affected. With the occurrence of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s on the rise, it’s more important than ever to uncover how to keep your brain functioning well and yourself feeling good. 

There may be a different path to achieving health than taking medications, and this enlightening book teaches you how to take control of your health. By giving the brain and body the nutrition and building blocks it requires and blocking stress, you can improve your mood, memory, and movement. 

Explore the interesting world of science, cell biology, and nutrition and discover everything you need to know to keep your brain and body optimal—even when you’re older. These solutions are based on a deep understanding of human anatomy, physiology, nutrition, cell biology, and anti-aging. The fundamentals involving cell membranes, mitochondria (energy production), microglial cells, and more are important, exciting, and relevant in building a better brain and body health—an emerging field promoted by Global Health Science Solutions, LLC.

Available on Amazon
(affiliate link)

I was compensated via Fiverr for sharing this post. I only share those books that I feel will be of interest to my readers.

Monday, February 24, 2020

Review of Words From the White House by Paul Dickson

Words From the White House

"A compendious, entertaining look at our nation's leaders through words and turns of phrase." — Kirkus Reviews

From George Washington's "New Yorker" and Thomas Jefferson's "pedicure" to Theodore Roosevelt's "lunatic fringe," Richard Nixon's "silent majority," and Donald Trump's "covfefe," this entertaining and eminently readable volume compiles words and phrases that were coined or popularized by American presidents. Discover the origins of "bloviate" (Warren G. Harding), "military-industrial complex" (Dwight D. Eisenhower), "misunderestimate" (George W. Bush), "squatter" (James Madison), and other terms that have helped define American culture. The entries are listed alphabetically, featuring a definition and — in most cases — a brief discussion that places them in historical context.

"Thoroughly enjoyable." — The Washington Post

"The author is an essayist and lexicographer who presents this entertaining look at how presidents have used and shaped our language." — The Dispatch (Columbus)

Book Links

**My thoughts**
I'm a logophile, so this kind of book appeals to me. I love etymology and often find myself looking up the histories of words and phrases. I guess I just didn't realize before how many words and phrases were actually coined by US Presidents. So this book also gives you some history lessons as well as the background of some of your favorite terms. It has been updated from the original version to allow for the foibles and new words coined by the current occupant of the White House, and I am guessing to correct any previous errors.

It isn't necessarily the kind of book you are going to sit down and read from cover to cover in an evening. Instead, you'll digest parts of it here and there, making it a great book to have on the coffee table (or yes, even bathroom reading). I found myself hoping to memorize some of the stories in the event they pop up in a trivia game or something like that. I did actually recognize a couple of facts from recent trivia nights.

Being a lover of words and history, I think I would have enjoyed this book even as a kid. I think it can appeal to all ages.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me a review copy. I was not obligated to leave a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Read an exclusive excerpt from Ancestral Whispers by Jo A. Hiestand

I always love a good British mystery. Just look at my streaming queues and bookshelves at home. So today, I'm sharing with you an exclusive excerpt from Ancestral Whispers by Jo A. Hiestand. Be sure to follow the tour to get even more! And then let the author know what you think in the comments. Best of luck in the giveaway!

Each year the residents of Nether Haddon celebrate the village’s founding in the time-honored way with games, music, and performances by their sword dancers. But something new is added to the fancy footwork this year: a team member dies ... murdered. Fear, jealousy and suspicion quickly engulf the group, emotions as tightly interlocked as the five swords used in the dance: a series of turns, jumps and clogging steps intricate as Celtic knots. Was the victim the intended target, or should it have been someone else? In the course of the CID investigation, a mysterious 17th century puzzle is discovered. Does it hold a clue to the murder? Detective Brenna Taylor and her colleagues have more than enough to worry about. But unbeknownst to her, career criminal King Roper has escaped from prison where he was serving time for murder. Now free and eager to settle the score for his capture, Roper tracks down Brenna’s whereabouts, ready for revenge...

Read an exclusive excerpt:
“We’re forgetting that little poem or whatever it is that the lads found at Alastair’s house.”

I nodded. “It read like something out of Shakespeare.”

“What if it came down through Alastair’s and Simon’s family?” Mark began speaking more quickly, but he held his voice low. “What if Alastair and Simon were searching for something?”

Graham put the marker down beside him. “Like what?”

“Look.” Mark held up his left hand and ticked off the items on his fingers as he spoke. “Even though Simon denied it at first, we learned that both cousins were delving into genealogy. Mary confirmed Simon’s interest in the subject when she told us she would ask Simon to help her with her own research.”

“So you told us.”

“That bit of poetry found at Alastair’s house sounds ancient, like 1700s or something. That ties in with ancestral research, if that’s what Alastair and Simon were doing. Why else would he have it?”

“Could that be one of those love poems that Declan sent his girlfriend?”

Margo said the poem on Alastair’s desk didn’t sound at all like a love poem. “Anyway, why would Alastair have it if it was sent to Jessica?”

“Good point, Miss Lynch.” Graham leaned forward, his forearms on his thighs. “What about Alastair’s writing prowess? Do we know if he could write? I ask because I’m thinking back to Cyrano deBergerac. He wrote love letters for his friend. Maybe Simon was trying to counter Declan’s love poems with one of his own, but Simon didn’t have the knack, so he asks Alastair to write one for him.”

I frowned and Graham asked me what was the matter. “I’d believe it, sir, if Alastair’s poem was sugary, but that thing is so cryptic. I don’t think Jessica and Simon were together long enough to warrant such an obscure message. Anyway, a man wouldn’t write his love like that these days, would he? Why not just say ‘I love you forever’ and put it with a dozen roses? I think that’s a non starter, if you’ll forgive me.”

“Don’t apologize for thinking, Taylor.”

Trade Paper:

E-Book edition:

A month-long trip to England during her college years introduced Jo to the joys of Things British. Since then, she has been lured back nearly a dozen times and lived there during her professional folksinging stint.

Jo’s insistence for accuracy--from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area--has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire for research. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the details filling both her Peak District mysteries and the McLaren mystery series.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

Her McLaren mystery, BLACK MOON, received the ‘N.N. Light Best Mystery Book’ award for 2019.

Jo lives with her cat, Tennyson, and way too many kilts in the St. Louis-area.


Jo A Hiestand will be awarding a $30 Amazon or B/N GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Roger Peppercorn on creating the fictional world in On the Devil's Side of Heaven

Sometimes the stories behind the stories are almost as fun as the stories themselves. Today, author Roger Peppercorn takes us behind the scenes of On the Devil's Side of Heaven and how he created his fictional world. Then please enjoy an excerpt from the book before you download your copy. Be sure to follow the tour for even more fun and extra chances to enter the giveaway!


Stories take place in a physical realm of some sort. When I wrote my book On The Devils Side of Heaven I chose the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado in general and the towns of Fruita and Grand Junction in particular. I grew up there. It is a locale that is unique because of the sweeping vistas of the mountains that surround it including a national park and home to the world’s largest plateau and the adobe desert. I did so because of the old adage, know far and wide to all writers which write what you know. In this case I know the people and the area. But that is the broad brush strokes.

While the world my story actually takes place there were literary licenses I took in writing about it. In particular a small community center located between Delta and Olathe, Colorado known as Pea Green Hall. It got its name because of its color. When I was a child growing up it was home to many weddings, funeral receptions and family reunions. It’s still small, and home to those things except now it has a Facebook page, a posted schedule of events and has bathrooms with running water. In my book it does not. Pea Green Hall in effect is like a character in that it has texture and becomes like a character because it plays a pivotal role in the story. The Lodge is another location I took license within that I created an entire mountain fortress for the climactic scene.

Creating on paper that fictional world was so fun to live in when I write. I found it really adds layers and dimensions. What I found as I write even today is the freedom it allows in the storytelling itself. It also adds stress and friction as I was writing because it adds to the believability to the world I created.

Storytelling is best when the world created allows the audience to relate and provides the vehicle for the ride ahead. And the best part is it’s your world so the only rules are the ones you create.

With the drop of a judge’s gavel, Walt Walker has finally lost everything. The badge and gun he used to carry and the moral certainty of right and wrong, good and evil that used to keep him grounded. Now Walt, sans gun, gets his badges from an Army Navy store. He spends his days in South Florida, working for a boutique insurance firm as their investigator. He spends his nights in dive bars, trying to forget the mess he has made of his life.

Ronald Jacobs always preferred the title Human Resource Manger to Hitman. But now that he's retired, he can concentrate on living in the shadows as a respectable gentlemen farmer. Far from the reach and pull of his past life.

Their transgressions are behind them but a chance encounter and a failed assassination attempt sets the two of them on a collision course of violence and retribution. Hunted by contract killers, the law, and corporate bag men, they are pursued across the unforgiving adobes and the sweeping vistas of the Mesa Valley in Western Colorado.

Survival means putting their past in front of them and their differences aside, because in this world the only thing that matters is to cast not others on the devil’s side of heaven, lest you be cast in with them.

Read an excerpt:
A little after midnight on a clear and cold morning in March, Jimmy Dix parked his car three miles from the farmhouse. From here it would all be on foot. The sky, dark and overcast, would cover his approach to the farmhouse situated in the adobe desert, fifteen miles from the little town of Loma, CO. His target presumably would be asleep and unaware of his impending death.

Big Max Benson had been clear in his instructions. The job had to be tonight. Jimmy hadn’t bothered to ask why. Fifteen thousand dollars had been more than enough to silence any idle curiosity he may have had. And the promise to convert all the red ink that bore Jimmy’s name in Big Max’s ledger to black had been the clincher. He had driven fifteen hours in a rental car he had picked up in a hotel parking lot just outside of Billings, MT. In the trunk, Big Max had left a cut down 12 gauge shotgun, an AR-15 and a 9 mm pistol. Each weapon had come with more than enough ammo to do the job. Jimmy had brought along his own set of NVGs for the nighttime raid.

He sat in the car, staring out the windshield, thinking about the three mile hike he had in front of him. The car heater was cranked up to high. The dashboard clock read 12:02; the hike would take him about an hour. He thought about the task at hand. After he arrived, he would need probably thirty minutes to scout his final approach plus maybe another fifteen to twenty minutes to get set up. Maybe another five minutes to carry out the job. Jimmy did the math in his head and figured that worst case scenario, he would be back in the car no later than 4 a.m. This would leave him more than enough time to get clear of the area. Jimmy smiled at the thought of coming in under the cover of darkness, killing someone and then leaving under the same veil before any cops showed up.

Buy on Amazon
US / UK 

About Roger Peppercorn

Roger Peppercorn has suffered for the better part of his life from wanderlust and this need to see the other side of the horizon has taken him to all parts of the world. The people and backdrop of his travels have served as the inspiration behind his characters and storytelling.

As a child, his mother taught him to read and write. His father's collection of Louis Lamour novels provoked the fantastical images in his mind and the romance of the written word. In the seventh grade, his history teacher brought the characters of a bygone era alive. From that point on, Roger began to hone his skills in storytelling. After high school, Roger took a course in creative writing that was taught by a long haired hippy in a Hawaiian shirt.

Roger’s grandmother used to tell hypothetical tales of traveling across the plains in a covered wagon, the woes of having a son sent off to war, and the larger-than-life man she met at Pea Green Hall who later became her husband.

His first two novels "On The Devils Side of Heaven" and "The Sometimes Long Road Home" take place on the western slopes of Colorado, in the sleepy town of Fruita, where he grew up. They center on the strained relationships and sorted histories of three characters - Walt, Ronald and Jessica, and violence that erupts around them.

Roger is married and is a father of four beautiful children. He currently calls South Dakota his home.




Roger Peppercorn will be awarding a $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

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Monday, February 17, 2020

Amber Waves of Grace by Jessica Berg

Contemporary Romance
Date Published: February 2020
Publisher: Red Adept Publishing

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After her father’s accident, Corrie Lancaster moves back to the family farm just in time to help with the harvest. With a bumper crop of wheat waiting, the farm’s only hired hand quits, leaving Corrie with no choice but to accept the help of her old boyfriend’s older brother, Aaron Tuttle. It seems like the perfect plan until Corrie realizes ex-flame Luke isn’t over her. But even with Luke’s apologies and attempts to rekindle their romance, Corrie can’t forget his past betrayal.

Between harvesting, keeping tabs on her younger siblings, and watching her parents’ marriage crumble, Corrie leans on Aaron for emotional support. Wading through jealousy was never on Corrie’s to-do list, but as she navigates the choppy waters, she finds herself falling for Aaron’s good looks and charming wit.

Just when Corrie thinks she has everything under control, a stranger seeking shelter comes to the farm, and an old nemesis returns for revenge. As destructive forces align against her, Corrie must decide which man’s love will bring her back to life and restore her faith in herself, her family, and her purpose.

Purchase Links
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Perchedhigh in her Peterbilt semitruck, Corrie Lancaster winced as the leather seat sucked at her tanned arms. She swiped at the sweat dripping down her nose. Didn’t matter. She loved harvest time. Consistent and efficient. Just what she liked.

Enclosed in the cab cocoon, she waited out the cloud of dust and chaff spewed out by the back end of the combine as it inched across the wheat field. She counted down the seconds until the last of the dust storm passed, then she opened the door and hopped down from the sweltering cab. Even a hot day felt like a fresh breeze after being trapped like that. Filling her nostrils with the smell of wheat and dirt, she shuffled through the stubble and knelt. With deft fingers, she moved aside the chaff and scoured the ground for wheat kernels.

Seeing only two, she exhaled. The old girl kept chugging along. If the 9600 John Deere combine could keep doing that for the next two thousand acres, they’d be set. With the years of drought and bad grain prices, the piggy bank had squealed its last a long time ago. A good harvest was the only hope for reviving it.

Corrie straightened, brushed her hands on her jeans, and readjusted her dark aviators as her gaze darted over the field she’d planted and cared for. Ambling to the semi to wait for the next load, she groaned when a familiar rusty-orange Ford F-350 tore into the field, wheels spitting up chaff in their wake. George, her hired man, slammed the door, the pickup shuddering with the force.

“Here we go again,” she mumbled, posting herself next to her semi, careful not to touch the black paint molten in the sun’s heat, and waited for the large oaf to close the distance. “George, what’s the rush?”

His tongue darted out and licked his chapped and peeling lips. His licentious gaze raked her while still communicating disdain. Quite a trick for someone with mush for brains. She hugged her arms around her chest.

“The rush?” George spat. “Rush is I quit.”

Her arms fell to her sides. “What?”

“You heard me.”

Corrie balled her hands into fists and kept herself from planting them in George’s overfed face. “You can’t quit.”

“I ain’t about to work for no woman for minimum wage. Especially a woman like you.”

Bright? Diligent? Caring and responsible? Words he probably didn’t know.

She narrowed her eyes. “Fine. Quit.”

“Or you could do what any reasonable woman would do. Sell the farm. To me.”

Corrie snapped her mouth shut on a nasty swear word. “When pigs fly.” She clambered up the semi steps and slammed the door.

Hot humid air and her heavy breathing filled the cab as George sped from the field, truck tires making a permanent rut. Corrie pawed at the window knob until the coolest breeze a ninety-five-degree day could muster blew through. Laying her head back against the headrest, she closed her eyes and, for the first time, longed to be back in Sioux Falls and ached for a juicy story to unfold to the readers of the Argus Leader. Impossible of course. Her family needed her.


She jumped in the seat and banged her knees on the steering wheel. She couldn’t remember praying for patience, but she made a mental note to remind God she didn’t need any more for a while.

“Nathan! You scared the living daylights out of me.” She quirked an eyebrow. His fifteen-year-old face resembled a Cheshire cat’s. “Did you scare me on purpose?”

“No.” Tinges of crimson crawled up his neck. “I swear on my ability to drive, I didn’t mean to.” His blue eyes radiated innocence, but he’d made her look like a fool before.

“If I even get a hint, a breath of a hint, that you did it on purpose, I’ll take Old Bertie away for two days.”

“How am I supposed to practice driving if you take the truck away?”

“You shouldn’t have sworn by it, then, should you?” She reached out and ruffled Nathan’s hair. Ignoring his scowl, she asked, “Why are you here, anyway? I thought you had a grain bin to clean.”

“The auger’s broken, and I couldn’t get ahold of George to fix it. I thought he’d be here with you.”

“George quit.” And all she wanted to do was find ways to exact revenge upon him. Ex-lax in his morning coffee? Too messy. A new mouse infestation in his pickup? Too mousy. “Losing” his last paycheck—

 “Corrie? Are you there?” Nathan waved a hand in front of her face.


“What do you want me to do?”

Go find the loser and run him over. No. That wouldn’t help. He would be only slightly less useful dead. “I’ll figure something out. Did you finish the rest of your chores?”

“Yeah. I was just about to finish cleaning out the grain bin when the stupid auger broke. Can I still go to the lake with my friends?”

His large boots thumped on the running board. Just this morning, he’d complained they were getting tight on him.

“Yeah, you can go.” Before he could hop down, she grabbed his arm. “Double-check with Mom and make sure you’re home by five to relieve Nikki. She’s been in that combine since eight.”

He beamed at her and walked away with a lanky stride caused by a six-foot frame and an arm span to match.

She hollered, “Why didn’t you just call over the radio?”

“Broken,” he yelled over his shoulder before he slammed the door to the old red manual pickup he’d learned to drive.

Rage exploded from deep inside. With a scream, Corrie scrunched up an empty Pepsi can, and pretending it was George’s head, she chucked it out of the truck cab. For all his horrible qualities, George had worked hard. And he didn’t earn minimum wage. He earned a dollar an hour more.

An approaching tractor’s purr drew her attention. Her cousin Joey bounced up and down as the John Deere inched closer. He lined the grain cart up to the semi and began dumping golden wheat kernels into the trailer. After several minutes, he pulled away and headed down the rough field to await another combine hopper.

She started the truck and drummed her fingers while it aired up. When the red light signified the truck was ready, she shifted into first, exited the field, and began the twenty-mile drive into Sandy. Metallica screamed through the truck’s speakers, and she bobbed her head to the vicious beat.

They would have to hire another person. A person crazy enough to work for a dollar an hour more than minimum wage.

* * * *

A full moon illuminated the well-kept Lancaster farmyard as Corrie pulled into the driveway. She hauled herself out of the pickup, every muscle in her body threatening mutiny.

“Well, Old Bertie, you did well today. I hope Nathan’s treating you right.” Giving a tap to the pickup’s hood, she chuckled. “I’ll have to remind him you’re three hundred thousand miles old.”

Trusting that Nathan had fed the dog, she rattled the doorknob on the barn to check the lock and trudged to the large two-story colonial-style farmhouse. Its brick façade with white windows and a red front door welcomed her home. She scratched the panicked idea of going back to Sioux Falls. As much as she enjoyed the city, she needed the country and its peaceful quiet and its meandering back roads.

She inhaled the cool summer air bursting with the scent of her mother’s pansies planted snugly in terra-cotta pots. She sank into a white wicker rocking chair. A plane’s red lights blinked in the starlit night, and a shooting star soared into the black abyss.

Nearer, farm equipment not being used in the field hunkered down in the tree belt, far past the reach of the single farm light on the barn roof. Most of it would have to wait until spring to be brought out and put to use. Corrie shook her head. Although perhaps idiotic and slightly neurotic, she couldn’t help feeling as if the planting equipment stewed in jealousy and dejection for most of the year. Maybe her parents had read her too many Corey Combine books. Apparently, they had thought she would be a boy and had chosen the name before she drew her first breath. Surprised but not beaten, her parents had ditched the spelling and kept the name. With a grunt, she heaved herself out of the rocking chair and tiptoed into the dark house. Nikki, Nathan, and her mother would have gone to bed hours ago.

One person, however, would still be up. After kicking off her shoes, Corrie walked into the living room. The fresh scent of furniture polish spoke of her mother’s Friday cleaning. The television glow illuminated vacuum tracks in the plush white carpeting. A solitary figure sat in a brown leather recliner.

“Hey, Dad.” She stooped and kissed the top of his head, noticing for the first time the lines and wrinkles edging his eyes, signs of aging he’d always hidden.

Jake responded with a slurred variation of her name and a wobbling smile. She muted the game show. He’d never liked game shows, and now the Game Show Network was the only thing on when he was in the house. The no-nonsense man she’d known all her life had died when a semitrailer slammed into his truck one icy December evening.

As she did every night, she sat by his slippered feet and told him about her day. The damage hadn’t touched the part of his brain that loved and lived off farming. Every day convinced her even more that his love of the land was nurtured not in his head but in his heart. Nothing could kill that.

“George quit today.” Corrie saved the worst news for last. Her father’s eyes met hers and reflected the anger he couldn’t formulate with words. Then a sliver of worry crept around the anger in his eyes. Wanting to reel the words back in and swallow them, she sighed. “Don’t worry, Dad. I’ll take care of it. I’ll find someone to replace George.”

The worry and anger didn’t leave his eyes. With a sigh, she got off the floor and laid her hands on his once broad shoulders. “Don’t stay up too late. Morning comes early on the Lancaster farm.” She pressed a kiss to his forehead and left him watching Deal or No Deal. He would be up for hours.

* * * *

Corriegroaned into her pillow and hid from the protruding fingers of sunlight soaking through her window shades. If only she could cover her head with her comforter and fall back into her wonderful dream about Middle Earth and hobbits, but she couldn’t afford the luxury. Not with a truck full of grain to take to the elevator. Not if she wanted to beat the line so she could get back and service the combine. Nikki could take care of the other morning chores, but the combine was Corrie’s baby. Nobody greased it except her.

Bacon and eggs sizzled as she entered the bright kitchen. The west wall, full of floor-to-ceiling windows, faced her mother’s garden. As a child, Corrie had loathed weeding and watering the garden. Now, a day in the garden would be a nice reprieve.

“Good morning, dear.” Corrie’s mother, Cynthia, greeted her with a smile.

“Good morning.” Corrie took the proffered tongs and flipped the bacon, careful to avoid the splattering grease. “How’s Dad this morning?”

“Fine.” Cynthia no longer cried when she talked about her husband. A steely reserve now crept into her eyes and flared whenever Jake was mentioned.

Corrie took the hint to shut up. After transferring the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate, she set the table. She watched closely as Cynthia stirred the scrambled eggs with a little more force than necessary. Corrie stopped herself from chewing on her bottom lip, a. A bad habit carried over from toddlerhood. She wanted to ask her mom about her dad, needed advice about the future of the farm, of them, but all was cut short when a herd of stampeding feet echoed down the stairs.

“You two make enough noise to scare the dead,” Corrie scolded as Nikki and Nathan scooted around the corner.

“We’re just hungry. That’s all.” Nathan nipped a piece of bacon. “Where’s Dad?”

Before Corrie could intercept the question, Cynthia spun around with a spatula covered in scrambled eggs and whipped the air with it. “Eat. Now.”

Nathan ducked his head. “Sorry. I just wanted…” Corrie’s hand squeezed his shoulder, stopping his comment.

Cynthia threw the spatula into the pan of eggs, tossed a potholder on the table, and slapped the pan down, egg shrapnel exploding over the table. She left the kitchen, and when the master bedroom door slammed shut, Nikki and Nathan jumped in their seats.

Several minutes of awkward silence, thicker than bacon grease, permeated the kitchen. The cheery yellow of the walls and crystal-clear glass of the white cupboard doors did nothing to stop the shadow of doubt lurking in every corner. No one mentioned the unspeakable but not improbable event they most feared.

Nikki exhaled. “Do you think they will… you know… get a divorce?”

Corrie shushed her and grabbed the salt and pepper. She no longer had an appetite, but it would be a while before a meal came her way. Forcing herself to swallow, she glanced at Nathan as he scraped at his full plate. “You need to eat, Nathan.”

“I’m not hungry.” He scooted back his chair and stalked out of the house. Nathan ran across the farmyard and into the barn, where he would most likely find solace in the soft fur of his miniature Australian shepherd, Bacon.

After the barn door slammed, Nikki turned back to her food. “So, do you think Mom will want a divorce?”

Corrie winced at the pain radiating from her seventeen-year-old sister’s eyes, the same glacier blue of their father’s. Nikki twirled her curly blond hair around her index finger, warming Corrie’s heart for a moment with memories of holding her baby sister, mesmerized by the tiny index finger creating equally tiny curls. Her chest swelled as she surveyed her sister, a combination of dirt and the most delicate of wildflowers struggling to soak in the last raindrops.

“I don’t know. I really don’t.” Corrie finished her orange juice. “I can’t imagine what Mom is going through right now. I don’t think I want to.” She started cleaning up. “We need to keep praying.”

“It’s not working.” Nikki swirled the rest of her scrambled eggs around on her plate.

Corrie abandoned her task of clearing off the table and sank beside her sister. “I know things are hard right now. Trust me, I feel the weight of all this. Sometimes, we can’t see where God wants us to go. And sometimes, instead of smoothing the mountain for us, he gives us the tools to climb that mountain, and only from there can we see the beauty and majesty of his plan.”

Nikki laid her head on Corrie’s shoulder. “I’ll keep trying. I’m just really tired.”

“Me too.” Corrie pressed a kiss to Nikki’s hair. “Tomorrow is Sunday. We can rest then. Until then, we’ve got work to do. I’ll take the truck into the elevator and meet you at the field later.” She headed for the door. “Don’t forget to pack a lunch. I don’t want to have to go to the café again.”

Nikki rolled her eyes. “One time and I’m branded for life.”

“Forget again, and I’ll brand ‘lunch’ on your forehead,” Corrie teased. She laughed at Nikki’s pouty face and rushed across the yard.

Nathan was busy gassing up Old Bertie and making sure the fuel tank on the back of it was full of diesel. Corrie slipped into the passenger side and waited until he finished turning off the tank.

He ambled over to the passenger door, opened it, and blinked in surprise. “You’re going to let me drive?”

She chuckled. “Don’t expect this every day.”

He sprinted around the front of the pickup, hopped in, and started the old girl up. Stomping on the clutch, he slammed the stick into low gear then let off the clutch while easing the gas pedal down. Old Bertie responded with a grunt and spasm but obeyed with jerking movements.

“Okay. Now let the clutch fully out. Good. Give her a little gas. You’re choking her. Okay. Now ease in the clutch again and shift to first.”

He complied, and soon the pickup was soaring down the road toward the field. She glanced at his profile and wondered when he’d grown up on her. Gone was the scrawny boy who cried every time he came across a dead bird or a hurt farm cat.



“Are you okay? You know, with what’s been going on and stuff?” Good grief. As a reporter, I should be able to ask a better question.But this wasn’t some stranger or some big news-breaking story. This was her brother, and his soft heart was breaking.

His pronounced Adam’s apple bobbed up and down. “I guess.”

“It’s just this morning you seemed… I don’t know…” The countryside whizzed by in a blur of color.

“I just miss Dad. I want him to be him again. You know?”

She nodded and bit the inside of her cheek to keep her tears in check. “Yeah. I do. But Dad will always be your dad. You have to know that. He still loves you, loves us, but he can’t show it like he used to. You have to have faith and believe he will get better. You never know. He might play football with you again or take you fishing.”

Nathan shrugged. “Sure. Maybe.”

In other words, conversation over. From the time he’d learned to walk, Nathan had been Dad’s sidekick. Now Jake hardly noticed his son.

Nathan brought the pickup to a jerking halt in the field, and she stepped out. “I’ve got to take this truckload in.” She poked her head through the open passenger window. “We’ll be okay.” Before he could reply, she jumped in the semi, started it, and after it aired up, drove into town.

After twenty miles of rolling cropland and pasture, she crested the hill into Sandy, South Dakota, a small town nestled against the Sandy River. At this time of year, it was more of a creek, but a river it would always be to the residents who’d grown up around its banks. She downshifted in the truck’s descent. Judging from the myriad trucks and cars, Corrie guessed Mabel must have cheese buttons as the café special. Corrie’s stomach rumbled. She could almost taste the cheese-and-onion mixture tucked deliciously in dough and cooked in cream.

The knife of memory slid and cut its way into her mind as she passed the VFW dance hall where she’d won her first dancing competition. Her father had been her dance partner for the waltz.

She blinked her stinging eyes. Amazing how one phone call could change a life forever. Like a tornado, it sucked her up, spun her around, and spit her out. If only he’d stayed home that snowy night nine months ago. He would be the one harvesting. He would be the one shouldering the farm’s responsibility.

Coming to the end of town, she turned right at the only stop sign on Main, pulled up behind a mile-long line of trucks, and inched up off the highway and onto the elevator’s graveled property.

“Good morning, Corrie.”

She beamed at the old man who hopped on the truck’s running board and stuck his head in her truck cab. “Good morning, Baxter.”

A proud working octogenarian, Baxter tipped his stained and dusty DeKalb seed cap. Upon close inspection, his crinkly face mirrored his life—full of happiness with a dash of adventure and a few sprinkles of sadness and loss. She loved to hear his stories even though she knew most of them by heart.

“You’re looking good.” He patted her arm with a veiny, rough hand.

Without a doubt, her wrinkle-free skin had grown new fissures over the past nine months, and baggy, dark circles sat like bloated toads under her eyes. No matter how many promises different shampoo brands boasted, her hair had lost its luster and hung limp in a ponytail every day. “You’re much too kind. But thank you. It’s nice to hear.”

“How are things holding up on the Lancaster farm, dearie?”

“Not so well.” She could never pretend with the old man. He was far too wise and knew far too much. “George quit yesterday.”

Baxter took off his cap and slapped it against his thigh. Dust flew. “That good for nothing…” He slammed his hat on his bald head. “That rat! Sorry to hear it, Corrie. If you need anything, please let me know.” He peered at her with wizened eyes. “I mean it, young lady. All you have to do is ask.” Someone inside the main building called for Baxter. With an apologetic pat on her head, he hopped off and ran to the weigh house.

“Spry old man,” she muttered as she shifted the truck from neutral into first gear for her turn on the scales. The red light turned green, and she eased onto the scales. She waited until the mechanical arm swung over from the weigh house and sucked grain into its proboscis and into the building. The red light flickered green, and she drove through the obstacle course of trucks and grain bins to the correct dumping site. She watched in her side mirror as elevator employees swarmed the truck’s hoppers like worker bees. Eventually, they signaled her to leave, and she waited in line again. Several smaller farm trucks waited ahead of her to go back on the scale. Ten minutes later, she stopped the truck on the scale until Baxter came out with her ticket telling her the bushels and moisture of the load she’d just dumped.

“Here you go, little miss. See you again soon for the same song and dance.”

Corrie laughed. “Save me a spot.” She glanced at her ticket before veering onto the highway. After doing some quick math, she gave a whoop. Eighty bushels an acre. “Praise the Lord!” That number was exactly what she needed to hear.

All day, she trucked back and forth between the quarter of land they were combining and the elevator. With all that time to think, she couldn’t figure out where she would get the extra help she needed. At eighty bushels an acre of wheat, she really needed extra help.

About the Author

Jessica Berg, a child of the Dakotas and the prairie, grew up amongst hard-working men and women and learned at an early age to “put some effort into it.” Following that wise adage, she has put effort into teaching high school English for over a decade, being a mother to four children (she finds herself surprised at this number too), basking in the love of her husband of more than fifteen years and losing herself in the imaginary worlds she creates.

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