Title: I Don’t Think It’s that Simple
Author: Nicole Eva Fraser
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Book review by Maribeth Shanley
Title: I Don’t Think It’s that Simple
Author: Nicole Eva Fraser
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Book review by Maribeth Shanley
Title: I Don’t Think It’s that Simple
Author: Nicole Eva Fraser
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing
Genre: Psychological Fiction
Book review by Carrie Jane Knowles
Nicole Eva Fraser’s beautifully written and fully realized novel of one man’s struggle to find his own life story, I Don’t Think It’s That Simple, will keep you up all night turning the pages! And, as you read on way past your bedtime, you’ll find yourself hoping Evan’s last chance to choose to do the right thing will both open his heart and give him courage to seize the love he has been searching for his whole life.
Nicole’s wonderful characters that she’s carefully wrapped in fine polished prose make this book simply a great read!
Carrie Jane Knowles has been a freelance writer for the past forty years. She has published widely in both fiction and non-fiction and has won a number of prestigious writing awards, including: Midland Authors Poetry Award, the American Heart and Torch Award for Creative Journalism, and Glimmer Train’s Very-Short Fiction Contest. She is the author of Apricots in a Turkish Garden.
Carrie and her husband, Jeff Leiter, live in Raleigh, North Carolina. They have three children.
Book review by S. M. Senden
I appreciate a well researched story that not only teaches me something about the era, but more importantly takes me along and immerses me deep into the era with sights, sounds and smells that touch my senses. Dellani Oakes has done this quite successfully in Indian Summer a story of love lost and won, betrayal and coming of age in St. Augustine. Her characters are rich and have depth. I will be reading more of her books!
Senden is the author of Clara’s Wish, Lethal Boundaries, and Murder at the Johnson and a number of ghost stories in various magazines.
Title: Thistle Down
Author: Sherrie Hansen
Publisher: Second Wind Publishing, LLC
by Sherrie Hansen
Book review by David Pereda
THISTLE DOWN reads like a made for TV character-driven, episode of a series filmed in Scotland. The character of the pastor, Ian McCraig, is engaging and authentic. The characterizations of Emily, Benjamin, Greg, and Chelsea are unique and believable. The descriptions are vivid, and the story flows smoothly, leaving a few lose ends to tie, I suppose, in future episodes — like the stolen church items and the relationship between love-struck Chelsea and selfish Greg. All in all, it’s a nice read for a Sunday afternoon. I would have preferred to have seen all these loose ends resolved in this episode instead of left as dangling carrots to entice the reading of subsequent episodes. I admit I was a little disappointed and even considered making this a three-star review — but the strength of Sherrie Hansen’s writing, her keen eye for description, and her perceptive characterizations won me over in the end. A four-star review it is.
Reagan returns home from the first Gulf War horrified by the discovery of the mutilated remains of Tom Wallach, a marine he and his squad find a Kuwaiti desert. Suffering Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, he often carries on discussions with Tom in his dreams… at least, that’s what he tells himself they are: dreams.
“I have a daughter, you know,” Tom Wallach said from beside Reagan.
“She’s twenty-one now.”
“I’m sure she’s grown into a beautiful young woman.” Reagan took a sip from his glass of bourbon.
“Mind if I ask you to look in on her?”
“Why? Aren’t you able to do that?”
“Sure, and I have. She’s a smart kid. Takes after her mother. Enrolled in the law program at U of M. I’m proud of her. You’re right, she’s beautiful. But I’m partial.”
Reagan waited. It was his dream, but he had no control of the conversation.
“When you get in touch with her,” Wallach said, the conclusion forgone, “tell her about me, will you?”
“I hardly knew you, Tom.”
“You don’t have to tell her much,” Wallach said, as if he hadn’t heard Reagan. “Tell her that I liked to laugh, liked to pull a practical joke, but that I had my serious side, too.”
Did you? Reagan asked himself. He was certain his subconscious was simply filling in fictitious details of Wallach’s life for him. Dreams were funny that way.
“I wouldn’t tell you if it weren’t so. Tell her I was a good marine.” Wallach held up his empty shot glass; a moment later, the bartender topped it off with Maker’s Mark.
After the bartender left, Wallach added, “You can tell her I liked bourbon—don’t all marines? But always in moderation.” He held up his shot glass to the light, to admire the caramel color of its contents. “God, I miss this stuff.”
Reagan thought about pinching himself to see if he would wake up.
“It’s tough, isn’t it?” Wallach said. “Losing your innocence. Your first drinking binge, your first woman, the first time you kill a man. The first time you see a dead body, mutilated. You spend the rest of your life trying to get that innocence back.”
Reagan took a sip from the second bourbon he couldn’t remember ordering. Such were dreams.
“It wasn’t your fault, you know?” Wallach said. “They came out of nowhere, while I was running a message from our position to the unit on our right flank. The area was supposed to be secure.” Wallach paused. “They gagged me and put a sack over my head. They marched me for a while. I don’t know, maybe an hour, maybe it was two. Funny how the passage of time is more difficult to measure without eyesight.”
“They worked me over pretty good, once we stopped. But you know that.”
Reagan nodded again.
“It hurt, what they did. The torture. Funny thing about pain though. At some point everything hurts so much that each new pain they inflict, you don’t feel it. Maybe it’s because you’re on overload.”
“Maybe it’s because you were in shock,” Reagan said.
“Yeah, maybe. I never thought of that. Makes sense.” And then: “That last thing they did to me? It was almost a relief, because I knew they were done with me.”
“I was a good marine, right to the end. Never cried, never begged for mercy. Wouldn’t give them the satisfaction.”
“That’s good, Tom. I’m proud of you.” Because he didn’t know what else to say.
“So you’ll look in on her?”
“I don’t know, Tom.”
“Her name is Mimi. Believe it or not, it’s a popular Arabic name. Gretchen and I wanted to give her a connection to that area of the world, as if we could somehow bridge cultures, bring a little peace to the planet.” Wallach allowed himself the luxury of a chuckle. “We later learned its meaning is ‘uncertain, maybe bitter.’ I guess it was apropos after all.”
“I’m sure she’s anything but bitter, Tom.”
“No, she’s not,” Wallach said, and Reagan wondered how he knew. “So what do you say, buddy?” Wallach added.
Reagan cringed. They were never buddies while Wallach was alive.
But we’re drinking buddies now , he thought. In my dreams.
“I don’t know, Tom,” Reagan said a second time. He wondered if Mimi would care, if she even thought about the daddy she never knew.
“She cares,” Wallach said. “She thinks of me more than she should. I don’t have to tell you how that makes me feel.”
“How would I even find her?”
“You won’t have to look too hard,” Wallach said, knowingly. “Remember, she’s in Ann Arbor. One more thing I want you to tell her,” he added.
“Tell her that my last thoughts were of her.”
Reagan nodded yet again thinking, Funny, how when I’m awake I’m never at a loss for words. But in my dreams, I got nothing to say.
“Reagan.” Wallach put his arm around Reagan.
“You’ve been a good friend. But you’ve got to let go. For your own good. For your future happiness.”
Tom Wallach held up the shot glass again and, after a moment, he downed the Maker’s in a single gulp.
“God, that’s good,” he said. Then he looked at Reagan and said, “Semper fi.”
Reagan grappled with that. Before he could voice his confusion, Wallach told him, “You can remain loyal, and still let go.”
Conrad Guest is the author of Backstop: A Baseball Love Story in Nine Innings, available from Second Wind Publishing. Nominated as a Michigan Notable Book in 2010, the Illinois Institute of Technology adopted Backstopas required reading for their spring 2011 course, “Baseball: America’s Literary Pastime.” He is also the author of a science fiction diptych—One Hot Januaryand January’s Thaw—a time travel, alternate reality tale in which Germany wins World War II, his tribute to Raymond Chandler’s hard-boiled detective genre, and its prequel, January’s Paradigm. A Retrospect in Death, Guest’s sixth novel, explores the meaning of life: prewired at birth, or a product of our environment? His seventh novel, 500 Miles to Go, is a tale about the importance of, and the risks associated with, the pursuit of dreams.
For a peek into J. Conrad’s literary world, visit www.jconradguest.com.
When widow and single mother, Katharine Penner, Spots a tall, gorgeous stranger on the other side of the local swimming pool, she is struck by her immediate and intense reaction to him. In an awkward and very uncomfortable turn of events, Kate learns that the stranger she was drawn to is non other than Riley Morgan, the new swim coach and college-aged son of one of her closest friends. Riley has long harbored feelings for Kate but kept them his most closely guarded secret, all to aware of the fact she was married and off limits. But now, one year after tragedy has left Kate alone, he has come home for the summer determined to win her affections.
As the summer progresses, these two find that their mutual attraction for each other blossoms into something much more serious than either of them ever thought possible. But can Kate’s second chance at love overcome the obstacles created by their thirteen year age difference and her friendship with Wendy, Riley’s incredibly overprotective mother?
Once his summer plans were in place, it seemed it couldn’t arrive quickly enough. His excitement was palpable, though he did his best to hide it from his roommates. They had embraced college life with two arms and were mostly occupied with cute co-eds. As a result, they were oblivious to Riley’s distraction. None of them – and his roommates were his closest friends – would understand his feelings for a woman from his hometown or his lack of desire to date any of the coeds that were constantly hanging around in their apartment as though it were a designer shoe store having a clearance sale.
Occasionally, though, one of his roommates would push the dating issue and even more occasionally, Riley would succumb to the pressure and take some girl to a movie or campus party. A part of him hoped that doing so would help him forget his feeling for Kate but it never did. The girls he dated were just that – girls. They were insecure and full of themselves at the same time. How was that even possible? How could these girls look down their noses at someone and then in the next moment, be upset because some guy called you five minutes later than he said he would? Riley shook his head. He was tired of the drama. Tired of double dating with another couple, only to have both girls leave to go to the bathroom at the same time. Tired of the stupid ones who called and hung up, not realizing that in this day and age, everyone had caller id. And he was tired of the giggling. It was maddening, and he was done.
Once he’d made that decision, it only seemed the natural progression to date women who were older. Of course, his roommates were all for this and would high-five him before each date, then poke each other in the stomach while giving each other knowing looks.
Riley, for whatever reason, found older women fascinating, making this method of dating somewhat easier than his earlier attempts. Older women were self-confident and didn’t give a shit if you called or didn’t call. They had lives of their own and while they were pleased if you called, they wouldn’t give you the third degree if you didn’t. They were comfortable with themselves and truly believed that if you didn’t call, it was your loss.
If you didn’t call, they would make other plans.
Older women had their own lives to lead and they certainly weren’t going to sit around waiting for some guy. Riley smiled, thinking of the ladies he’d dated. They were all wonderful, confident, intelligent women but, truth be told, they weren’t Kate. Despite dating these women, some of them he truly cared for, he was unable to rid himself of the ever present feelings he had for Kate.
It was Kate he wanted and there would be no substitute.
Donna Small is the author of two novels, Just Between Friends and A Ripple in the Water. She discovered books at a very early age and would frequently ignore her teachers in order to discreetly read book during class. To this day, she is an avid reader and can be found most evenings curled up with a good book. She lives in Clemmons, NC with her two daughters and their beagle, Charlie, where she is at work on her next novel.
When Ian MacCraig tries to capture the thief who is stealing artifacts from his kirk in Loch Awe, Scotland, the last thing he expects to find on his video is a woman engaging in a passionate romp under the flying buttresses.
Rose Wilson is mortified to learn that Digby, the online friend she met for what she thought was a harmless rendezvous, is a common criminal.
Now that Ian, the board of Wilson Enterprises, the constable, and half the town have had a glimpse of Rose in all her naked glory, it seems even her family looks at her differently. What remains to be seen is how far Ian will go to defend Rose’s honor and if the church ladies will forgive Rose now that they know who she really is… and if Rose can believe she’s worthy of someone as good and kind as Ian MacCraig.
Wild Rose and Pastor Ian MacCraig… a match made in heaven or one hell of a predicament?
Rose Wilson turned away from the wind that whistled across Loch Awe in a futile attempt to keep her hair from being blown into a tangled knot.
Something nipped at her ankle and she reached down to swat it away. Pesky midgies.
Ouch! Her hand scratched against the thorny stem of a thistle. One more thing. As if the sticky wicket she’d gotten herself into hadn’t already worked her into enough of a dither. She glanced up at the lofty spires of St. Conan’s Kirk. If she were at all religious, she might think God was trying to tell her something.
Where could he be? It had been nigh on three years since she’d stood waiting, and waiting, and waiting at Robert’s and her favorite restaurant. When he never showed up, she’d been angry – thought he’d gotten too busy at work, forgotten she was waiting, or, worse yet, remembered and blown her off.
How could she have known he was dead?
Here she was again. So it was a kirk and not a restaurant. A man she didn’t know all that well instead of her husband. The emotions felt the same. She was peeved. So peeved she could almost forget what it was like to feel abandoned, to hurt so badly she could barely keep her head about her.
She took a deep breath and tried to relax. Would she ever get over being scared that something horrible had happened every time someone was a wee bit tardy?
He was almost an hour later than he’d said he’d be. She peeked through the hedge and tried to see round the bend that led to the village.
What were the odds that two men she was supposed to meet would die en route to their rendezvous point? She paced up and down the path that led to the kirk, squelching her nervous energy only long enough to look at a bee dipping into a rhody that was a lovely shade of lavender. And then, she was back at it, scanning the roadside for Digby’s car, checking the time on her mobile every few seconds, and imagining the worst.
She’d been waiting for an hour – plenty long enough for Digby to get there even if he’d been temporarily detained at work, gotten a speeding ticket, or stopped by the mini-mart to buy her flowers. Besides, the man had a mobile.
She clicked hers open and pressed the green button twice. Still no answer.
Where could he be? And why now? Was it because she’d been too intimate with him? Not intimate enough?
“Excuse me, ma’am.”
She blinked and looked in the direction of the voice, but the sun was in her eyes, and all she could see was a soft sheen of light backlighting the silhouette of a very tall man. Too tall to be Digby. She raised her hand to her eyes to shade the light but the sun was still blinding, clinging to his head like a halo.
“Forgive me,” the man said, just as she saw his collar, the white square gleaming brightly between the black, and thought, shouldn’t it be me saying that?
“Sorry to intrude,” he continued. “I couldn’t help noticing that you seem to be looking for someone.”
So much for her and Dig having the place to themselves. Of course, as of this moment, there wasn’t a “them” anyway, so it mattered little if they had privacy. Besides, she had been going to tell him that they couldn’t do it again, that it was too soon, that what had happened shouldn’t have. Not yet. That didn’t mean she didn’t want to be alone with him, to do something. She probably did, eventually. Just not so much, or quite so fast.
“I’m waiting for a friend,” she said.
“You’ve still plenty of time,” he said. “Worship doesn’t begin for another half hour.”
The sun wasn’t in his eyes, but behind him, illuminating her face. She knew, even without being able to see his eyes, that he could read hers perfectly.
“I didn’t realize…”
“We’ve a small but active congregation,” the man said, extending his hand. “Ian MacCraig. St. Conan’s pastor.”
One question you’d like commenters to answer relative to your post: If your pastor was single, would it bother you if he or she started to date a woman or man who had been caught in a compromising situation , and who didn’t share his or her religious beliefs?
Tell us about yourself:
Twenty-one years ago, I bought a dilapidated Victorian house in northern Iowa so I could move home and be nearer my family. I rescued an amazing but very run-down old house from the bulldozer’s grips and turned it into a bed and breakfast and tea house, the Blue Belle Inn. Since then, welcoming guests, running the business and cooking wonderful food has consumed the largest chunk of my life.
Before that, I lived in Colorado Springs, CO, and before that, Augsburg, Germany. I attended Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL and spent one life-changing summer in Bar Harbor, Maine. I grew up on a farm in southern Minnesota.
After 12 years of writing romance novels late at night when I couldn’t sleep (mostly because I was so keyed up from working 12 hour days at my B&B), I met and married my real-life, romantic hero, Mark Decker, a pastor. I enjoy playing the piano with the worship team at church, needlepointing, photography, renovating and decorating historic houses, traveling, and going on weekly adventures with my nieces and nephews.
I live in 2 different houses, 85 miles apart, and write on the run, whenever I have a spare minute. “Wild Rose” is my sixth book to be published by Second Wind Publishing.
Links (website, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, book buy links, etc.):
Abandoned by her family, Tysan works as a waitress in a cheap diner. One cold evening, a beguiling, rugged young man barges into her life. He possesses the remarkable ability to take photographs of events that have not yet happened. Ty narrowly avoids a harrowing death in a disastrous explosion, only to be drawn into a dizzying cascade of conflicts involving a new family that takes her in, Walker-her apparent savior, David-her new admirer and her own family. Kidnapping, betrayal, obsessive love and courageous lovers co-mingle in this romantic thriller.
His eyes darted to the envelope on the table. He took a drink of coffee, swallowing too hard. When he turned back to me, his eyes were haunted. He reached out, grasped the envelope, and pulled out another picture. As he handed it to me, his words registered.
“You’re supposed to keep yourself safe.”
The photo I held was taken in the restaurant. I was standing behind the front counter, the picture taken from across the room. A man sat in front of me, only the back of his head visible in the picture. He was covered in soot and ashes. Pieces of his clothing were burned away and blackened. My skin was blistered and the remnants of my hair were singed. My uniform had burned to my body, sticking to me as I stood there, coffee pot in hand. The ceiling of the restaurant was behind me, or at least part of it. Grey, cloudy skies formed a backdrop where some of the ceiling and the wall to the kitchen used to be. The pieces of the restaurant in the picture were burnt; smoke still rising from the embers surrounding me.
The picture was dated two days from today.I dropped the picture like the paper itself was on fire. I didn’t want to touch it. In the photo, I stood there with a coffee pot in my hand, while everything around me and my clothes were in utter destruction. Walker snatched the picture from the table, dropping it back into the envelope.
“I’m sorry,” he said, taking my hand in his again. “Short of kidnapping you that day, I didn’t know any other way to tell you about this.”
Claire Collins resides in North Carolina and writes across many genres. She loves reading when she gets the time around her family and her work schedule. She currently has two novels available through Second Wind Publishing and is working on her third, Seeds of September.
Anna Kayce had faced many difficulties in her life and had carried some heavy responsibilities. When she met Senator Kenneth Levall, her world soared. Until that fateful day when the gun she held fired, and the senator fell on the floor at her feet and died.
Anna had to dig deep to find the strength to endure what followed: the murder of her sister, the destruction of her life, and lastly facing a courtroom full of people, a judge, and a jury in an effort to save the man she really loved. He had confessed to the murder of the senator in order to protect Anna from being charged with the murder.
It was now time for her to stand up and tell the truth.
A glint of light reflected from Ken’s hand as it emerged from his jacket. He pointed the gun at her as he rushed toward her and grabbed her wrist. She pulled against his strength, raised her other hand, and brought her fist down hard across the bridge of his nose. With a grunt of pain, he loosened his grip on her. Anna’s shoulder bumped against his hand, and the gun clattered to the floor and slid a short distance away. A quick step brought Anna close enough to pick it up. The gun in her hand, she whirled to face the senator. Her cold, hard eyes held the disdain she felt.
His hand covered his nose while blood seeped between his fingers. She raised the gun and pointed it toward him. The senator’s face paled when he heard the click of the safety being released and watched with wide eyes as she cocked the gun. He lowered his hand from his nose, and his mouth dropped open. A pool of blood dribbled from his nose onto his upper lip. Over the barrel of the gun, she watched it linger there for a moment.
“Anna, don’t!” He cringed back from her.
The drop of blood made its way down his upper lip to the opening of his mouth. His tongue wiped it away, but he still reached up to wipe the blood from his nose. His eyes grew wide as he looked up at her, and he shook his head as she took aim.
“No, don’t. Please,” he begged. “I love you, Anna. Please. Think about what you’re about to do.” He held his hands up in supplication.
“This is for Tina,” she replied.
“No, Anna!” John lunged toward her.
His arms came around her from behind, and she was vaguely aware of the warmth of his body against her back. His hand reached around, fingers opened wide. His arm bumped against her arm, but before he could wrap his hand around her hand, her arm jerked. A shot reverberated through the air.
Ken looked at her in disbelief. His mouth opened and shut, but he didn’t utter a sound.
John released his grip, and the gun hit the floor with a clatter. He took a step back. Anna wrapped her arms around her waist, while the room spun. Unaware of the trembling of her body, she bent forward and covered her face with her hands as nausea filled her throat.
The senator slowly dropped to his knees, a spreading stain turning his white shirt a bright red. Then his body crumpled to the floor, and his blank eyes stared at the ceiling unseeing.
John stared in disbelief at the two people before him. Then his eyes narrowed and his hands clenched into white-knuckled fists. Horror covered his face.
“My God,” he said. “Oh, my God.”
Harley Michel is mourning the recent death of her mother and the long-ago death of her husband. On a dare, she ventures onto an Internet dating site and finds unexpected romance with a handsome Egyptian doctor.
Harley thinks she may have found happiness again until her memories of her late soldier husband and the appearance of the doctor’s former flame threaten their peace.
“I can’t believe you’re a Republican.” Harley said the words without rancor and gaped, mouth open. She’d seen Abisi through most of June. They were sitting on the couch in her living room on Fourth of July weekend, sipping wine. Nico lay at Harley’s feet, snoring. He occasionally flicked at a fly that buzzed around him with his bushy tail. Harley had opened her windows so they could appreciate the breeze blowing even on a balmy New Orleans night.
“It’s political.” Abisi drew her closer and took a sip of wine.
“How so?” Harley followed his gaze as he took her in. She could sense his desire, and she’d dressed to encourage it. Spaghetti strap flowered blouse, diaphanous wraparound skirt, and white sandals. She’d seen her stylist the day before and had added the auburn tints that drew stares. His arms were strong as he clasped her shoulders.
“In the South, that’s the trend.”
“I don’t follow trends.” Harley grinned at him.
“There’s something appealing about that.” He touched her cheek lightly and kissed her. His gaze met hers and lingered. His smile was so sensual that liquid flowed through every sinew of Harley’s body.
Electricity pulsed through Harley, setting her insides on fire. Her spine tingled as his breath feathered against her hair. “Yo— u…you were saying?” Her voice was hoarse.
“I don’t give them a dime because of their policies on immigration. Isn’t this country, after all, a country of immigrants?” Abisi let his hand slide along her bare shoulders.
“I agree.” Harley let her face brush his own. His beard against her lips tickled. “Then why are you a fan of such a party?”
Harley saw that he was clearly trying to concentrate, but he was losing the battle. His stare rested on her cleavage when he answered in a choked voice. “I wouldn’t call myself a fan, my darling. I guess I just wanted to be accepted down here when I became a citizen.”
Abisi ran his lips along her arm and onto her shoulder. He’d apparently forgotten about Republicans. The sensation of his lips caressing her sent an electric shock wave through her whole being. Trembling with sensual energy, she buried her own lips in his neck and moaned with pleasure as he touched her neck with his hands and then his lips. Nico glanced at them and padded down the hallway. Harley smiled to herself. Smart dog. She disengaged herself from her lover’s hungry kisses long enough to slip her tightly clinging blouse over her head.
Viola Russell is a New Orleans writer who teaches by day but spends her nights and weeks at her computer. She used a pseudonym so that her students wouldn’t find her, but they, ever computer savvy, outed her. She lives in New Orleans with her faithful dog.