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Kindle Nation Daily Readers Alert! Award Winning Author Andrew Seaward’s SOME ARE SICKER THAN OTHERS is Dark, Gritty and Compelling – 4.8 Stars on Amazon with 13 out of 13 Rave Reviews and Now Just $0.99 or FREE via Kindle Lending Library

Some Are Sicker Than Others

by Andrew Seaward

4.8 stars – 13 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

The lives of two hopeless addicts converge unexpectedly following an accidental and horrific death.

Monty Miller, a self-destructive, codependent alcoholic, is wracked by an obsession to punish himself for a crime he didn’t commit.

After his fiancé, Vicky, is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Monty embarks on a suicidal mission to drink himself to death. But his family intervenes and has him committed to Sanctuary, a rehabilitation facility high in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There he meets Dave Bell, a former all-American track star turned crack addict, and the driver responsible for Vicky’s death. Can Monty forgive Dave for his unspeakable atrocity and finally find the courage to forgive himself? Or will he follow his addiction to its inevitable conclusion, using self-pity and blame as excuses to give up on life?

Based on the author’s own personal experience with substance abuse and codependence, SOME ARE SICKER THAN OTHERS, transcends the clichés of the typical recovery story by exploring the ambiguities and deep personal conflicts of addiction, love, and recovery.

Reviews

“Dark, Gritty, Compelling…a harrowingly emotional experience that rings true to the very last word.” –Doug Kurtz, acclaimed author of MOSQUITO

“Seaward not only weaves an exceptionally well-constructed story with wholly credible characters, he offers deeper insights and relates more factual information about the disease of addiction than any other writer to date.” –Grady Harp, POETS & ARTISTS magazine

“This book will lead you on a serious rollercoaster ride of emotions. Mr. Seaward discusses in very explicit details the mental, psychological, and physical effects of withdrawal and the various stages of recovery. It is a very difficult book to read, but only because it is so honest and direct and confrontational. It forces the reader to view and accept the world of addiction and recovery. –Ashley L. of THE BOOKWORM JUST ATE Book Reviews

About The Author
Andrew Seaward is the author of Some Are Sicker Than Others. Although he makes his living as a chemical engineer in the Oil & Gas industry, his true passion is telling great stories through both acting and writing. He is a member and contributor of Benjy Dobrin Studios, the Cinematic Arts of Colorado, and the Denver Lighthouse Writers Workshop. He has written and acted in several independent productions, including the poignant short film, Drowning, which won an Award of Merit at the 2010 Indie Fest.
(This is a sponsored post.)

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Here are a few books that have just gone free by authors who have already proven to be  favorites with Kindle Nation readers. Please grab them now if they looks interesting to you, because they probably won’t stay free for long!

Important Note: This post is dated Tuesday, May 29, 2012, and the titles mentioned here may remain free only until midnight PST tonight.

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The Myth of Mr. Mom – Real Stories By Real Stay-At-Home Dads

by Sonny Lemmons, Christian Jensen, Jeremy Rodden, Charlie Andrews, Leo Dee, Toby Tate, Shawn Scarber, Gerhi Feuren

4.2 stars – 15 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
The Myth of Mr. Mom is a collection of true stories written by stay-at-home dads that shares the personal journeys of eight men from around the world.

Filled with humorous anecdotes and eye-opening personal experiences, The Myth of Mr. Mom is simultaneously inspiring and entertaining.

 

Praise for The Myth of Mr. Mom

“I applaud any man who decides to take on this role, but after reading this I only wish more men would stand up and proudly shout to the world, ‘I am a stay at home dad and I am proud of it.'”
– My Eclectic Bookshelf

“Anyone who stays home with their children and helps them grow to be all they can be gets my respect.”
– Journey of a Bookseller

“Buy this for your father and show them not only that you love them but that you love the love that they gave you and that every sacrifice – large or small – has not gone unrecognised.”
– Book Bags and Cat Naps

Female homemakers of the last generation enjoyed stories by Erma Bombeck for their very real, easy-to-connect-to humorism; modern homemakers (men AND women) have the stories inside The Myth of Mr. Mom!

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3.8 stars – 16 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

A failed New York actress, Rachel Porter figured that any new career would be an improvement–until she became a wildlife agent and found herself stuck in the steamy Louisiana bayous, chasing poachers and fending off mosquitoes the size of Central Park pigeons.

Rachel’s first major assignment for the New Orleans Fish and Wildlife Service has brought her to the infamous French Quarter, to deal with a dead alligator chained to a bathtub–not far from an equally dead stripper. But when Rachel discovers that an o.d. of ingested heroin-stuffed condoms–and not the five bullet holes in the gator’s head–was the true cause of its demise, the inquisitive agent finds herself perilously caught up in both murder investigations. And with killers, cops, neo-Nazis, drag queens and crooked politicos on her case, it’ll take more than Big Apple sass to get Rachel out of the Big Easy…alive.

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5.0 stars – 3 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

“Angels Mark” is a suspense novel ripped from today’s headlines! Readers who are weary of a bipartisan American government, poor economic news, political posturing and bickering, and a deadlocked two-party system, will find “Angels Mark” to be a satisfying read: the perfect anecdote to watching the news. Serena Wilcox is on the run from the law, for reasons that involve three American presidents, a woman in Iran, and a false church headed up by two deranged brothers.
“Angels Mark” is a fast-paced novel of suspense, justice, mystery, and humor that will keep you guessing to the very end — and beyond!

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5.0 stars – 3 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

Marcia and Joe are swept up in the 50 Shades of Grey mania that has hit middle-class America, and while Marcia devours the “Mommy Porn,” Joe scorns it – while secretly listening to a pirated audiobook on his morning commute.

Repulsed and magnetically drawn to it all at once, Marcia comes to Joe with a tantalizing request: can he be her Christian and she’ll be his Ana? Is Joe capable of being a dom and Marcia a sub? A frantic search for just the right dumpster – the Red Dumpster of Pain – leads them to a blood bank on the far side of town. After a rousingly intimate session of ropes, whips, empty blood bags and more, they find themselves in their own surreal version of Twilight, as teenage vampires discover them and take advantage.

Are the kids really vampires, or just EMO? Does anyone really care? Just as they get rid of the Twilight crowd, though, an old nemesis appears, looking for blood in all the wrong places for a new art project he might never get a chance to finish…

Can Marcia finish reading 50 Shades without throwing it across the room again? What do Bella Andre, Taylor Lautner, Jon Hamm and Bill Belichick have in common? Will Joe ever really understand what Marcia’s Inner Goddess wants? What the hell is an Inner Goddess? And does “down there” really describe anything, ever?

50 Shades of Garbage takes readers of the Dumpsterotica series on a new chapter of the Joe and Marcia saga, a down (there) and dirty look at how BDSM has gone mainstream – all the way to your local dumpster.

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4.0 stars – 2 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
Ryan, Erin, Kris, and Jason are heroes defined by the villain, unwitting assistants in a cataclysm brought about by an old man who calls himself… Devidis. The four modern, international teens awaken deep within a jungle canyon, a prison in the post-apocalyptic empire established by the tyrannical Devidis. Surrounded by danger, the four Elementals quickly embrace their new-found super-powered control of the elements–wind, fire, water and stone–under the guidance of Sensei, an imprisoned freedom fighter who believes that Devidis’ near omnipotence is a clear sign that the world is a persistent illusion in the mind of its evil emperor. And so the Elementals are forced to come of age in an increasingly hostile land. Though supernaturally capable, they are faced with a frightening possibility: are their hopes, goals, powers, friends, enemies, surroundings and selves… all an illusion? It’s “Final Fantasy meets X-Men” as worlds are torn asunder!

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Here’s the set-up:
Many say few know more about stock trading than Michael Swanson, who ran a top ranked hedge fund for four years and has built up a huge audience of readers on his website WallStreetWindow.com thanks to the accuracy of his market calls and investment acumen, including making over 50% in 2008 in one of the worst years for the stock market ever. His book Strategic Stock Trading demystifies the stock market by explaining what truly makes the stock market and individual stocks move the way they do and shows you how you can take advantage of it. The book explains the principles required for you to become an elite trader in the stock market, including what and when to buy and sell using the Two Fold Formula, how to manage risk, and how to be able to foresee real changes in the overall trend of the market before the crowd does. There are many investment books that describe aspects of technical and fundamental analysis. This one puts them together and shows you have to really use them in a strategic way backed by real life experiences and examples. It also discusses the psychology of investors in the market and how hedge funds and institutional investors now influence the stock market more than ever before and what the individual investor must do in this type of market to succeed.

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Bidding War

by Cher Carson

Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
Shane Stafford and his brother, Jason, have always been competitive, but when they start competing for the same woman, only one of the brothers is playing for keeps.
When Lucy Watson accepts a home staging contract with the Stafford brothers, she has no idea what she’s getting herself into. Both brothers seem determined to get her into bed, but can she choose between these two sinfully sexy men? Let the games begin…Erotic novella containing graphic language; intended for adult audiences.

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Here’s the set-up:

Updated April 2012: Compatible with the following Kindle firmware updates: Kindle Fire 6.3, Kindle Touch 5.1.0, Kindle basic 4.0.1, Kindle Keyboard 3.3 and Kindle DX 2.5.8.

Finally, one user-friendly guide that covers every Kindle now on the market for 2012, including the Kindle Fire, in a single comprehensive volume chock full of tips, tricks, and links to unlock cool features, save you hundreds on Kindle content, and help you get the most out of your Kindle. Stephen Windwalker founded the popular Kindle Nation Daily community and has been helping Kindle owners get up to speed ever since his first Kindle guide was the #1 bestselling book in the entire Kindle store for 2008. Now he has teamed up with popular outdoors and travel author Bruce Grubbs to provide the most complete and up-to-date resource ever for Kindle owners.

(This is a sponsored post.)

Kindle Nation Daily Bargain Book Alert: Dr. Mark McNees’ IMMERSION: LIVE THE LIFE GOD ENVISIONED FOR YOU, just $2.99 on Kindle or Currently FREE Via the Kindle Lending Library, with 4.9 Stars on 48 Reviews, and Here’s a Free Sample!

Alcatraz, an icon of hopelessness and isolation.

A prison where a rich and satisfying life is locked out by 50’ tall barbwire-topped walls, an intricate fail-safe security system, and surrounded by the freezing cold waters of the San Francisco Bay.

The Scriptures declare that we are all prisoners of our brokenness.

Everyone is faced with a choice; are you going to serve a life sentence? Or, are you going receive God’s promise of freedom by following Jesus Christ? (Galatians 3:22 )

It’s not easy, but you can…

Swim to win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but you do it for an eternal prize. So, swim with purpose through the water (Heart) with every breath (Soul), navigation (Mind), kick (Strength), and stroke (Loving Others). Discipline your body like an athlete, training it to do what it should.

Keep Pressing toward the Goal to claim the prize which Christ Jesus has already won for you. (Philippians 3:12)

The prize of a rich and satisfying life. (John 10:10)

From the Author:

I would like to thank you for taking the time to read Immersion. It is my prayer that this book will be a blessing and an encouragement to you in your journey as a fellow follower of Christ. I also pray that it will assist you in experiencing the rich and satisfying life Jesus came to give His followers, and that, in the process of reading this book, you will make The Great Commandment the primary grid through which you make all your life decisions.

I have done my best to directly connect the ideas in this book to scriptural passages. Footnotes and textual citations are included on the same page for easy reference and further contextual study.

The book has been organized into seven parts. Part one sets the stage for the five central sections. A seventh and final section is intended as a “putting it all together” framing piece. I have also written a group study which is located at the end of each section, with the hope that you will go through this book in community. You can do the studies alone, but everything is better in community.

In the back of the book there is a 40-day life coaching experience, designed to help you experience a richer and more satisfying life. There are also free resources for your church and small group Bible studies available at:   immersion4groups.com

The greatest blessing to me would be that the body of Christ would be encouraged, equipped, and edified as people join together in their homes for elevated conversations. These group studies are intended to facilitate just such conversations.

In His Grip, Mark

From the reviewers:

“Immersion spoke specifically to me  and gave me encouragement to move forward with a new project that we are launching called TRIFECTA.  I plan to distribute Immersion to as many people as possible.”  –Terry Davis CEO of Tri California

As a Christian I so appreciate the “This is not about religion…” but about making yourself jump into a full relationship with God like Mark had to do on the ferry at Alcatrez.  –  Paul

The book was an easy read with lots of biblical references to support a personal life change to excel in the Christian life. I expect to use many of Mark’s stories in my life, and to positively affect others.   –  Interceder

I am frequently searching for books that make me think about my spiritual journey and how to better live out the life God wants me to live. This book did an excellent job of doing just that.  –  Dr. Eric Morris

 

Visit Amzon’s Dr. Mark McNees Page

Mark McNees is the Lead and Founding Pastor of Element3 Church. He left a family business and moved from Los Angeles to Tallahassee, FL with his wife and children in 2003.

They moved, with a vision to start a healthy biblical community which was relevant to the emerging culture.

Mark’s passion is helping people live out the vision God has for their life.

He encourages people to love God with all their Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength while emphasizing the equal importance of Loving their neighbor as themselves.

And here, in the comfort of your own browser, is your free sample of IMMERSION: LIVE THE LIFE GOD ENVISIONED FOR YOU by Dr. Mark McNees:

 


Like a little romance? Or a lot? Then we think you’ll love this FREE excerpt from the Romance of the Week, Beverley Kendall’s An Heir of Deception (The Elusive Lords) 4.2 Stars on Amazon with over 20 Rave Reviews and Now $4.99 on Kindle

Last week we announced that Beverley Kendall’s An Heir of Deception (The Elusive Lords) is our Romance of the Week and the sponsor of thousands of great bargains in the Romance category: over 200 free titles, over 600 quality 99-centers, and thousands more that you can read for free through the Kindle Lending Library if you have Amazon Prime!

Now we’re back to offer our weekly free Romance excerpt, and if you aren’t among those who have downloaded this one already, you’re in for a treat!

4.2 stars – 30 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

ABANDONED AT THE ALTAR

A man devastated by love

After three years of carousing and debauchery, Alex Cartwright, heir to the Duke of Hastings, has put his life back in order. Having embraced sobriety for two years, he has no intention of revisiting the past or risking his heart again. But the return of the very woman who introduced him to the darkest side of hell brings not only the painful, haunting memories of bittersweet love and abandonment, but the son he never knew he had…

A woman silenced by secrets

REVIEWS

“What drives this surprisingly deep novel are its revelations and their aftermath… Highly recommended for historical romance fans.” ~ Library Journal, starred review

Despite being overloaded with a million things, I just spent the afternoon reading An Heir of Deception. I loved it. Beverley gave me that lovely aching feeling in my gut for Charlotte and Alex. I really think this is her best book yet, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next. ~ Courtney Milan, New York Times bestselling author.

An Heir of Deception is a romance with heart. It is angst-ridden, deeply emotional and compelling. I could not put it down, and it left a smile on my face for hours.” ~ Romance Novel News, Recommended Read!

 

And here, for your reading pleasure, is our free excerpt:

Prologue

London, 4 May 1859

A hushed silence greeted Alex Cartwright, the Marquess of Avondale, as he arrived in the large antechamber in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Attired in navy frock coats, precisely knotted neckties, and light-blue trousers, the Viscounts Creswell and Armstrong, and Rutherford, the Earl of Windmere, were certainly suited up well enough for the occasion. At least in dress if not demeanor, for their faces held the grayish cast of men bound for the gallows. And Rutherford’s hair appeared as if it had been plowed more times than a seasoned whore.

Paused just inside the threshold, Alex let out a dry laugh. “Come now, gentlemen, it can’t be as bad as that,” he teased. “The occasion does not call for black dress or armbands. This isn’t a funeral you’re attending, but my wedding.”

Such a comment would have customarily elicited a wry smile—at the very least—but received not so much as a blink. Another silence the weight of a ship’s anchor descended upon the room, blanketing him in air as cold as London’s fog was thick.

Determined that whatever their affliction, it would not spoil the most important day thus far in his twenty-nine years, Alex quelled the sense of unease beginning to unfurl in his gut.

Under a domed celestial frieze of cherubs and angels, Alex advanced toward the trio standing motionless in front of a large marble-topped table, his footfalls muffled by the carpeted floor. He would have welcomed more noise, some sort of distraction from the somberness surrounding him, be it in human form or décor.

Located in the south transept of the church, the chamber boasted dark-burgundy drapes of some thick, expensive fabric, and surrounding the black marble fireplace were three chairs crafted with enough gild, scrollwork, and velvet to satisfy royalty. But then, with the sudden death of his brother the year before—the much beloved son and heir to the Hastings dukedom—wasn’t Alex now regarded as such?  Despite his mother’s vehement opposition to the marriage, when Alex had made it clear he’d marry Charlotte with or without her approval, she thrown her considerable ducal weight into ensuring his wedding would be the most celebrated event in Society for at least the next decade to come.

Halting in front of his friends, he quirked a brow. “Surely you’re not commiserating over my nuptials?” Alex found light sarcasm served as a wonderful vehicle to lift a dour mood. “I would think not, as you all have walked,” he executed a mock bow, “I stand corrected gentlemen—vanquished this course years ago.”

And most assuredly they had, the three men happily married with nary a complaint regarding the oft-bemoaned rigors of the institution. Indeed, each had been passionate in its recommendation.

Armstrong shot Rutherford a look, one Alex instantly recognized. He’d seen it often enough over the course of an acquaintance numbering twenty-six years. In that instant, he knew something was terribly, perhaps tragically, wrong.

Panic bloomed and anxiety burned like acid in his throat. Alex’s gaze flew to Rutherford.  “It’s Charlotte, isn’t it? Something has happened to Charlotte.”

The earl averted his gaze.

Alex grabbed Rutherford forcibly by the arms, bringing the two men practically nose to nose. Even if his friend’s delay had been infinitesimal, it measured what felt like an eternity too long.

Alex held his friend in a vise grip and gave him a teeth-jarring shake. “Tell me, damn it. What’s happened to Charlotte? Is she hurt? Where is she?”

Rutherford bent his imprisoned arm at the elbow. With obvious reluctance, he offered up the envelope. “She sent this for you,” Rutherford said, his voice strained and hoarse.

With a cautious step back, Alex dropped his hands to his sides. At first, he could only stare at the innocuous rectangular paper, uncomprehending. Slowly, the fog released its hold on his senses.

His gaze darted to the sheet of paper crushed in his friend’s other hand. She’d also written a letter to Rutherford and it was obvious he’d read his. Alex then recalled the footman hurrying down the hall. In that instant, he knew the man he’d passed with so little regard, so consumed with his own happiness, had been the bearer of the news that had sent his friends into such morbid melancholy. News that would assuredly send him someplace far worse.

Charlotte wasn’t hurt. The evidence stood before him in the form of her brother. Had she been injured or taken ill, a stable full of horses wouldn’t have been able to drag Rutherford from her side. But too swiftly on the heels of staggering relief nipped a growing fear, for penned in her signature slopes and curls was his name emblazoned across the front of the envelope. A letter from her on the day of their wedding could signify only one thing.

“She’s not coming, is she?” His cravat—silk mulberry that his valet had fussed into an elaborate knot—felt as if it had a stranglehold on his words.

“Cartwright—”

Alex’s head jerked violently in the direction of his friend, the set of his countenance effectively cutting Creswell off at the utterance of his name.

Armstrong sighed and ran his hand through a thatch of golden hair, regarding him with eyes filled with the kind of compassion no man should have to countenance on his wedding day. Sympathy was bad enough, but pity? Intolerable.

Directing his attention back to Rutherford, Alex stared at the envelope unclaimed in his friend’s hand, knowing its contents promised to deliver him the felling blow.

“What does she say?” he asked, his voice a hollow imitation of his former self.

“I did not read it,” Rutherford muttered gruffly, extending his arm so the tan paper touched the flesh exposed at Alex’s wrist.

The fires of perdition could not have singed his skin more at the contact and Alex retreated several steps as he surveyed it with abhorrence.

“What did she tell you?” he asked quietly, dragging his gaze up to Rutherford’s.

Three years ago when his friend had paced the halls outside his wife’s bedchamber awaiting the birth of their twins, he’d worn the same expression he did at present, a helpless sort of fright.

“What does she say!” Alex’s voice exploded like a cannon blast in graveyard silence. “Isn’t it in the letter she sent to you?”

Isn’t it in the letter she sent to you?

The echo transcended the room to storm the corridors of the prestigious church.

Rutherford appeared to be rallying his courage, swallowing and then drawing in a ragged breath before he said, “The footman brought the letters only moments before your arrival. I was coming—”

“God dammit, man, quit all your blasted blathering.  Just tell me what she wrote!”

Rutherford made an uncomfortable sound in his throat before replying in graveled tones, “She wrote to beg my forgiveness for any scandal or shame her actions may bring upon the family but…says she can’t marry you.”

A roar sounded in Alex’s ears as he grasped the back of a nearby chair, the coolness of the metal frame muted by his silk white gloves. He blinked rapidly in an effort to halt the stinging in his eyes and swallowed to douse the burning in his throat. And a numbness such as he’d never known assailed him, turning his limbs into leaden weights.

“Where is she?”

Stark pain and fear flashed in Rutherford’s pale blue eyes. “I do not know. She’s quit the Manor but gave no indication as to where she’s gone. She merely states she is safe and that we must not concern ourselves unduly over her.”

 The weight on Alex’s chest threatened to crush every organ beneath it.  But such destruction would do little to his heart, for it had already broken into a multitude of pieces.

Like that, with the flourish of a pen, she was gone.

Alex turned to the open door.  Around him, he felt rather than saw his friends move in chorus toward him.  He stopped abruptly, angled his head over his shoulder and met their gazes. “Let me be. I shall be fine.” But he wouldn’t lie to himself; he would never be fine.

The three men did not advance any farther.

Alex blindly put one foot in front of the other. With every step, he discarded a piece of the life he’d foolishly dreamt to have with her…until there were none.

He took his leave of the room, his leave of the church, to start his way back to a life obliterated to a pile of nothingness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Berkshire, 1 March 1864

Her sister was gravely ill.

The knowledge plagued Charlotte Rutherford, consuming her with such fear that a proper night’s sleep had been impossible since her dear friend, Lucas Beaumont, had informed her upon his return from England.

The news had catapulted her into a frenzy of activity for two days thereafter. In that time, she’d arranged passage to England and closed up her small townhouse in Manhattan. What came next required all of her endurance: an eleven-day voyage across the Atlantic Ocean.

With too much time to her solitary thoughts, she’d been wracked with inconsolable grief and the bitterest regret…and heart stopping fear that her presence there would open a Pandora’s Box of a different sort.

Now two weeks to the day after she had learned of her twin’s illness, Charlotte was here. The place she’d once called home. And after an absence of nearly five years, the reality of once again being on English soil—standing at the doors of Rutherford Manor—brought with it the heartbreak of old.

All of that, however, paled in the light of her sister’s illness. For Katie, Charlotte would endure anything, even if it meant risking exposure and opening a wound that had never healed. One she feared might never truly heal.

With her heart in her throat and anxiety now a familiar—albeit unwelcome—companion, Charlotte lifted the knocker of the oak door and brought it down three times in rapid succession.

The ensuing seconds seemed to stretch on endlessly. Were they home? She hadn’t even considered that possibility when she’d arrived in Town and had proceeded directly to Paddington Station to catch the train to Reading. She shot a glance over her shoulder and regarded the carriage parked in front of her hired coach. Someone must be in residence, as it appeared they had company. Something else she hadn’t considered.

Upon the opening of the door, she gave a nervous start and spun back around. Reeves, the Rutherford butler of thirty odd years, stood in the doorway, his tall, spare frame and lined visage reminiscent of happier times in days long past. But the advance of age had left its mark. Once possessed of a head of hair with equal amounts of gray and brown, his hair now rivaled the unadulterated white of Father Christmas. And his stature, which formerly would have been the envy of any uniformed man, now gently rounded at the shoulders, proving once again how time spared no one.

Given he was a man disposed to typical English butler demeanor, she’d never imagined he had it in his personal repertoire to blanch, but that is precisely what he did upon viewing her. He said nothing for several seconds, simply stared, his eyes wide and unblinking. Charlotte stifled a laugh—one of the nervous sort—fearing any attempt at speech would cause her to dissolve into a heap of polka dot skirts at his feet.

Behind her, a horse whinnied and stomped its hooves and birds continued their cheerful chirping while Reeves appeared to be struggling to find his tongue.

At length, he exclaimed softly, “Miss Charlotte.” He spoke as if he believed she was but a vision and any undue noise would send her off into obscurity.

Charlotte managed a tremulous smile, tears pricking the corners of her eyes. “Hullo, Reeves. I-I’m delighted to see you looking so well.” The greeting seemed hardly adequate, but she was at a loss to find something fitting to say after so long an absence. So sudden a departure.

Her voice appeared to galvanize him into action. Throwing open the door, he ushered her through an entrance hall as large as the ground floor of her townhouse and into the vestibule. She’d quite forgotten just how large an estate her brother owned.

“I fear we were not apprised of your arrival. Such a shame as, just this morning his lordship and her ladyship went into London with the children. However, Miss Catherine is in residence. She will be happy that you’ve returned.”

In all the years Charlotte had known him, she could scarcely remember a time when she’d seen him looking anything less than unwaveringly stoic. At present his mouth curved into something close to a smile.

“I hadn’t time to send word of my coming.” She’d naturally assumed everyone would be home with her sister doing so poorly. She was more than a little surprised James had gone off to London and left Katie in the care of the servants—and no doubt the attending physician. Actually, it was inconceivable he would do so.

Charlotte pivoted sharply to face the elderly butler. She laid a restraining hand on his black-clad arm as he made a move to relieve her of her pelisse. “Reeves, can you tell me anything of my sister’s condition?”

Reeves stilled at her touch. He lowered his hands to his sides, staring down at her with white furrowed brows. After a pause, the deep creases in his forehead eased. “If you’re speaking of that rather nasty cold she fell ill with the month past, then I can assure you she has since fully recovered.”

A cold? The doctor has done all he can for her. If she recovers it will be by the grace of God. She could hear Lucas’s words as though he’d spoken them yesterday. Not even the severest of colds rose to that criticality.

Before she had an opportunity to question Reeves further, the scramble of feet and a high-pitched squeal drew her attention to the top of the double mahogany staircase.

Her sister stood in the middle of the first floor landing clutching the balustrade, her form poised for flight.

“Charlotte, is that really you?” Katie cried.

Then in a blur of pale-green muslin, she took the right set of stairs with all the refinement of a horde of marauding boars. Her fingers skimmed and skipped over the polished mahogany banister as her skirt fluttered and quivered under the breeze of her stampeding steps.

Transfixed by the first sight of her twin in nearly five years as she flew down the stairs, Charlotte could neither move nor speak.

Lucas claimed to have received the information of her sister’s illness on good authority, but it was clear he’d been grossly misinformed.

Katie was not ailing.

At least Charlotte had never seen a person whose survival was said to have hinged on God’s mercy with so much bounce and pep, her cheeks flushed with the healthy hue of breathless excitement, not the ravages of fever. No, her sister looked as vital and healthy as any twenty-four-year-old woman could.

After a fortnight of anticipating the worst and ardent prayers that she’d arrive to find her sister at least on the verge of recovery, a tidal wave of emotion washed over her, and soon Charlotte was moving, her feet carrying her forward without conscious effort or thought.

“Oh Lottie, Lottie. You’ve come back,” her sister cried before launching herself into her arms. “Lord, how I’ve missed you.”

Charlotte choked out a sob at the use of her childhood name as they embraced at the foot of the staircase, clinging to one another under a deluge of shared tears. Joy, relief, and the pain of their long separation had Charlotte trembling uncontrollably. The last time they’d held each other this tightly, they had been frightened five-year-old girls just arrived at the boarding school. Save a father who’d ensured for only their financial welfare, they’d been very much alone in the world.

“Oh God, I thought you—” Charlotte broke off abruptly when her sister turned a tear-stained face to her, her joy a living, breathing entity.  How could she now admit she’d returned because she’d thought her near death’s door? She simply could not.

“Thought I was what?” Katie asked in a voice choked with tears.

“I thought perhaps I would not find you home,” Charlotte quickly improvised. “Oh Katie, how I missed you too, so very very much.”

Katie’s breaths came in pants and half sobs, her arms tightening around Charlotte’s waist until she could scarce draw a breath. How long they stood holding each other, she didn’t know. But for those finite moments, time seemed to stand still.

After she caught her breath, and her sister was no longer gasping as if she’d been running too hard and too long, Charlotte loosened her hold and drew back to take in a face so dearly familiar and identical to her own.

Sky blue eyes fringed with long, thick lashes gazed back at her. Eyes glassy with tears. In all the jostling and excitement, ringlets of burnished gold curls had come dislodged from what had to be a small army of pins securing her sister’s chignon. How well Charlotte knew what it took to keep the thick mane properly tamed and presentable.

Katie reached out to cradle Charlotte’s cheek in her palm, her touch almost reverent. “Where—when—why didn’t you say anything about coming home in your last letter?”

“I decided at the last possible minute,” Charlotte whispered in a voice equally thick with emotion.

After brushing the crest of Charlotte’s cheek with her thumb, Katie dropped her hand to her side. “I hope you realize that James and Missy will be beside themselves when I send word of your return,” she chided gently. “They’re to stay in London a week. Of course, I’ll have to send word express that you’ve returned. I expect they’ll be home tomorrow or soon after. Christopher is touring the Continent. He’s not expected back in England until the fall.”

Charlotte was convinced that their half brother Christopher had vagabond blood running in his veins. He’d toured the Continent the summer he’d graduated from Eton. But whether she’d be here when he returned was still in question.

“I know and I’m disappointed too, but in a way I’m happy it’s just the two of us—at least for today.”

Katie smiled, her face flushed pink with pleasure. After several moments of contented silence, she took a step back and began a critical appraisal of Charlotte’s figure, commencing at the ruffled collar of her blue-and-yellow wool traveling suit. Her expression sobered the farther her gaze continued downward. “You’re too thin. Why, I must be a good half stone heavier.”

“I have recently lost some weight.” The stress of thinking one’s sister hovered on the brink of death tended to kill one’s appetite. Of course, that was something she couldn’t now admit to her.

“We’ll have to fatten you up a bit. It’s obvious you haven’t been taking proper care of yourself,” Katie stated crisply, eyeing the ill fit of Charlotte’s dress. Several weeks ago it had cinched her waist instead of hanging on her like a rooster’s wattle as it did now.

“You haven’t changed a bit, still just as bossy as ever,” Charlotte teased, attempting to lighten the mood. Her sister would have time to reproach her on her inadequate diet later.

Desperate to hold off the questions sure to come, she turned to her surroundings. Her gaze swept the three-story vestibule and down the wide corridor of the picture gallery ahead. “Though the same can’t be said of this place. I hardly recognize it anymore.”

Katie came immediately to her side, hooking her arm through Charlotte’s as if she couldn’t bear any physical distance between them. She followed the direction of Charlotte’s gaze. “Yes, Missy redecorated three summers ago. I’m proud to say I did have a small hand in the effort. I selected the chandelier.” Her sister angled them toward the front and pointed at the elaborate crystal-and-glass light fixture soaring high above the entrance hall.  “A fine choice if I daresay.”

Charlotte nodded in agreement. Her sister had always had exquisite taste.

“Missy insisted on a décor more suited to children. The rugs were purchased when the floors met with one too many of her treasured Wedgwood vases. Marble tends to be terribly unforgiving that way.” Her sister’s laughter rang throughout the hall, ebullient and light. “But the alterations have added a warmth that was lacking before. Don’t you think it looks and feels more like a home and less like a museum than when the dowager lived here?”

Charlotte nodded mutely as a frisson of fear coursed the length of her spine at the mention of her half brothers’ mother. She did not want to think about her—could not bear to.

Slowly, she lowered her gaze to admire the Persian rug beneath her booted feet, and continued on to take in silk-papered walls done in dark green. Also gracing the hall were two walnut tables inlaid with a lighter wood, and several chairs with cushioned seats in which a weary bottom might actually find comfort.

“Yes, it certainly does.”

Months after the death of their father, the dowager Countess of Windmere had moved to Devon and James had taken possession of the manor home. Charlotte had found the place as cold and sterile as its previous occupant. Although they had never been formally introduced, the dowager had made no secret of her intense dislike of her and Katie. But given they were the illegitimate issue of the woman’s husband and born only months after Christopher, her youngest son, her feelings were understandable and expected. However, the dowager had carried her hatred too far. The letter and the threat had revealed how truly vindictive she could be.

“While I was sad for James and Christopher when she passed away, I must admit to a sense of relief knowing our paths would never cross again.”

Charlotte’s next breath emerged a serrated gasp. Her head snapped to the side and she stared at Katie, mouth agape. “She is dead?” She spoke in a hushed whisper as if terrified of waking the woman from her resting place.

Her sister sent her a puzzled frown, her winged brows collecting over a slender nose.  “Surely you cannot be distressed?” Katie chided. “You know how I normally refrain from the use of clichés, but truly that woman was the bane of my existence. If you had remained, you would have been similarly affected. I’m certain if not for that wretched woman, I would have married ages ago. But no, despite the fact that James threatened to cut off her funds, she told everyone who would listen that we were James’s sisters and not his cousins.  Illegitimate and not at all good enough for their precious sons.”

Charlotte didn’t respond immediately, still trying to digest the enormity of what she’d just learned. With the dowager gone, so too was the threat she had posed. Which meant for the first time in years she could breathe easy.

“Wh-when did she die?”

“Early last year. I would have told you had I the correct address in which to send my correspondence,” Katie replied with a note of censure in her voice. “I do not believe you ever used the same return address twice.”

Guilt warmed Charlotte’s cheeks. Lucas had posted the letters for her when he traveled to England on business. It had been the only way to ensure no one discovered her whereabouts.

But to learn the dowager had been dead an entire year made her wish for something solid to sit on.

Certainly if she had shared the information, something would have surfaced by now. And she could not fathom her brother taking his family to London with a scandal of that magnitude about his sisters raging within the drawing rooms of Mayfair. Dare she hope the woman had taken it with her to her grave as it appeared she had?

She shot Katie a glance. It would appear their secret was safe.

“I imagine it must have been a very difficult time for James and Christopher.” This Charlotte could say with all honesty.

Her sister gave her a sidelong look. “I feared you were going to start spouting empty platitudes about how sorry you are that she is gone. She was a simply horrible woman, and I have not missed her one little bit.”

No, Charlotte could not have lied about that. The woman had been the cause of enough pain and heartbreak to ensure that three generations of Rutherfords wallowed in misery.  “As I said before, you haven’t changed a’tall,” she said dryly. Her sister did not believe in being agreeable for propriety’s sake.

Katie flashed an infectious grin. “And why should I change? As I recall it was the only way anyone could tell us apart. Should I become kind and agreeable, I could very well be mistaken for you.”

“And we certainly wouldn’t want that.” Charlotte felt lighter than she had in years. Such a shame it was due to the death of someone close to the brothers she loved that had been responsible for relieving her of an enormous weight. “Although, that happened often enough when we first came to live with James.”

For their newly discovered brother and his bride, telling her and Katie apart had come down to the simple matter of her sister’s birthmark—a tiny mole on the nape of her neck. The memory of Missy craning her neck in a not-so-subtle attempt to determine the existence—or lack thereof—of said birthmark brought a small smile to Charlotte’s face, eliciting a stark feeling of nostalgia.

“Yes, the only person who never confused us was Al—” Katie’s eyes flashed wide with alarm. “I didn’t mean to—I mean….”

Tears stung Charlotte’s eyes and her chest constricted. She pulled her sister’s arm tighter against her side and whispered, “It is fine. I shan’t break at the mention of his name. Truly. In any case, it was I who…” She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “Alex has always been a big part of our—your life. I certainly don’t expect you to change anything to suit me.”

With a tiny nod, Katie drew Charlotte into the circle of her arms for a gentle hug before setting her away. “Come, you must be famished. Off with your cloak and I shall have the cook prepare you something to eat. Then I can tell you everything that has happened to me these last five years and you can tell me everything you did not include in your letters. I assume you hired a hackney from the station in town.”

Without giving Charlotte an opportunity to respond, her sister turned to Reeves, who stood far enough away as to allow them privacy, but close enough to be summoned to duty forthwith. “Reeves, please have the footmen retrieve my sister’s belongings from the coach.”

“No!” The response sprang sharp and unbidden from Charlotte’s mouth. Even she could hear the panic threading her tone.

Both Reeves and Katie treated her to a look of surprise.

“I mean not yet. Katie, there is something I need to tell you—”

A movement, a figure, in the corner of her vision halted her speech. Charlotte shifted her gaze. Her breath and her world came to a shuddering halt.

Alex.

He rounded the stretch of hall leading from the study. Their eyes met across a distance of some forty feet.

Her breath left her completely then. The air surrounding her became charged and hot.

His stride might have faltered but he recovered so swiftly, she couldn’t be certain she hadn’t imagined it.

Charlotte stood frozen, ensnared as deftly and completely as a rabbit in the presence of a rattler preparing to strike. She watched as he proceeded down the seemingly endless corridor toward her.

Senses starved for the flesh-and-blood man greedily tried to take him in all at once, hoarding away every minute detail to take back with her to feed the lonely nights when dreams and memories were all she’d have…and yet still not enough.

Save the measured fall of his footsteps, silence reigned with a parasitic presence that made speech a novelty and breathing a luxury. Charlotte could do nothing but wait in statue-like stillness while her heart picked up its pace. To even blink would have created too much noise.

As he drew closer, she began to make out the subtle changes time had wrought in his visage.

In appearance, he looked much the same as the man she’d known and loved—loved still. With hair the black and shine of obsidian brushing the collar of his tan morning coat, and the delicious little dimple in his chin, he had always been surfeit in looks. But the Alex of old had possessed a wicked sort of charm. His smile, lazy and hinting at deeper passions, had caused the palpitation of many a female heart.  Upon their betrothal announcement, the gossip sheets had stated the sound of those very same hearts breaking could be heard from Cornwall to Northumberland.

At present, however, it appeared no smile would dare venture near his lips. Faint lines bracketed his full mouth, the surrounding skin unforgiving in its tautness. And there was an iciness in his expression that pierced her heart with a corresponding blast of cold. He even carried his lean, muscular frame with an aloofness, tight and very controlled.

Any hope she would find in him a smidgeon of warmth, an inkling of the affection he’d once felt for her, wilted and died under his regard. Yet she remained resolute as he advanced upon her, awaiting the first words they would exchange since the day before what should have been their wedding day.

 

Continued….

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KND Kindle Free Book Alert for Tuesday, May 29: 275 BRAND NEW FREEBIES in the last 24 hours added to Our 4,000+ FREE TITLES Sorted by Category, Date Added, Bestselling or Review Rating! plus … James Shaw’s PARIS – TIME TRAVEL GUIDES (Today’s Sponsor – Just 99 Cents!)

Powered by our magical Kindle free book tool, here are this morning’s latest additions to our 4,000+ Kindle Free Book listings. Occasionally a title will continue to appear on this list for a short time after it is no longer free on Kindle. ALWAYS check the price on Amazon before making a purchase, please! If a book is free, you should see the following: Kindle Price: $0.00
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Something Completely New in Travel? Time Travel.

Paris - Time Travel Guides

by James Shaw
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No matter where you go - Time Travel will find you the Perfect Bitesize Essay, Letter, Diary Entry, Film Script, Short Story or Article.

WHATEVER you're interested in ... from History, Art, Science, Sport and Philosophy to Ghost Stories, Mysteries and Legends...
.. And WHEREVER you are - Time Travel Guides will be the perfect companion.

In a cafe on the boulevard St Germain? Why not see what Mark Twain thought of French women when he sat there a hundred years ago, or read a letter from Gustave Eiffel describing his new idea for a tower... Victor Hugo can give you a birds’ eye view of Paris from the top of Notre Dame, Toulouse Lautrec describes the Ladies of the Moulin Rouge and with Edith Wharton you can even see the Champs Elysees at the outbreak of war. And then there are the two things Paris is really famous for … food and love. The Gourmet’s Guide to Paris will set you straight on French food, and the grandmaster of pleasure - Marcel Proust tells us everything we need to know about love.

So wherever you find yourself in Paris, from Versailles to the Latin Quarter, this book will have the perfect letter, essay or article from one of the World’s greatest writers.
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I'm a retired history teacher who has spent the last three years mapping the world of literature, history, philosophy, science, sport, myths and legends. My belief is that Wherever you travel in the world, there is the perfect bite-size article, essay, letter or short story that would be the perfect companion to your travels. If you have any good ideas for what could be included please drop me a line. I'd love to hear from you. There's a whole of series eBooks - starting from just $2.99 - so you can be just about anywhere in the world and there'll be some magical piece of writing that would be perfect to read while you sit back and sip your cappuccino
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Once Ariel Stanton had everything: parents who love her, a home, and a rich and varied existence.. When her father dies, her life changes forever. Still a child, she discovers he had another family, a legitimate one, and she and her mother are caste out into a cruel, uncaring world. Little by...
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Francesca's and Gil's fathers, tight friends from the cradle, unite their families by marrying their offspring when mere children. Later, older, their marriage is consummated and Gil heads back for the final term of school and to play the bon vivant. Then, all hell breaks loose: Gil's father has a...
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KND Kindle Free Book Alert for Tuesday, May 29: 275 BRAND NEW FREEBIES in the last 24 hours added to Our 4,000+ FREE TITLES Sorted by Category, Date Added, Bestselling or Review Rating! plus … James Shaw’s PARIS – TIME TRAVEL GUIDES (Today’s Sponsor – Just 99 Cents!)

Today’s Kindle Daily Deal — Tuesday, May 29 — Two Great Reads for under $5 — Save 76% on Elisabeth Tova Bailey’s Charming and Meditative Award-Winner THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING: A MEMOIR, plus … Don’t miss Scott A. Williams’ THE STEPS THEY TOOK (Today’s Sponsor)

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The Steps They Took

by Scott A. Williams
4.6 stars – 8 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.

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“The Steps They Took” is the story of a man haunted by suspicion, plagued with resentment, and feeling victimized by life, whose vindictiveness toward his philandering wife backfires, leaving him estranged from his children, seared by loneliness, and facing dire legal consequences. He meets Suze, a woman five years his senior and an upper-class socialite married to one of the richest men in Texas. Her untreated alcoholism and a series of affairs, culminate in a relationship with Father Serge, an ambitious Catholic priest whose reaction to her pregnancy leaves Suze heartbroken and bewildered.

While battling to vindicate himself and reunite with his children, Renn is forced to accept his role in his wife’s infidelity and confront personal issues that are as painful as they are revelatory. Suze, embittered by a conspiracy involving her mother, Father Serge, and the bishop of the local diocese, turns to counseling and Alcoholics Anonymous to uncover the underlying causes of her self-destructive behaviors and, in the process, comes to a spiritual and personal crossroads. “The Steps They Took” examines the redemptive power of surrender, forgiveness, and hope in recreating shattered lives.

From the reviewers:

Scott Williams’ book is brilliant and unique. It is the story of a father fighting for custody of his children from a despicable, unfaithful wife. What’s so wonderful about his book is how Mr. Williams weaves the philosophy and practices of the Alcoholics Anonymous Program into the pages without beating you over the head with it or trying to convert you. The dialogue is authentic, the main character’s emotional upheaval feels real. After reading “The Steps They Took” I wanted to fly to Corpus Christi and have this brilliant, descriptive writer give me a personal tour of a magical city. It is indeed a real page turner! – Amazon.com reviewer

This was an excellent book about two individuals who experience turmoil, adversity, change and growth in their lives. The author’s style of writing is very captivating and I found myself having difficulty putting the book down once I started reading. The ending was great and unexpected. I loved Mr. Williams descriptive style of writing and the history of the area in and around Corpus Christi, Texas. I would highly recommend this book and can’t wait to read more by this debut author. -Amazon reviewer

“The Steps They Took” brings together two despondent strangers who lean on each other for moral support. In the process of disentangling the messes their lives have become, each of them grows spiritually and emotionally into caring, mature individuals who can accept responsibility for their actions and forgive the people who wronged them. The characters are vivid and real. This novel is an enlightening read for anyone who thinks there is little hope left. – Cynthia Breeding, author

 

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and now … Today’s Kindle Daily Deal!

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating: A MemoirKindle Daily Deal: The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating
Bedridden with an illness, Elisabeth Tova Bailey chronicles the life of a snail she finds hidden in a gift of potted violets. Told with wit and grace, this award-winning memoir provides an appreciation of what it means to be fully alive and how nature illuminates our own human existence.

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FREEBIES ALERT! Ten Kindle FREEBIES! Load Up Your Kindle Now: Alexandria Constantinova Szeman’s NAKED, WITH GLASSES, Andrew Seaward’s SOME ARE SICKER THAN OTHERS, Julie Smith’s THE AXEMAN’S JAZZ, Gwyneth Atlee & Colleen Thompson’s DANGEROUS ATTRACTIONS, Richard Barrs’ THE MAKING OF LEGEND, Arshad Ahsanuddin’s SUNSET, Kyle Timmermeyer’s LEGEND OF THE ELEMENTALS, SJB Gilmour’s ANGELA OF TROY, Michael Swanson’s STRATEGIC STOCK TRADING and Catrina Taylor’s BELOW THE SURFACE

With hundreds of new books turning up free each day now in the Kindle Store, it can be tough to hone in on books that you will actually want to read. And most of the new free books will be free for just a day or two at a time, so we are working hard to make sure that you do not miss the ones you want!

Here are a few books that have just gone free by authors who have already proven to be  favorites with Kindle Nation readers. Please grab them now if they looks interesting to you, because they probably won’t stay free for long!

Important Note: This post is dated Monday, May 28, 2012, and the titles mentioned here may remain free only until midnight PST tonight.

Please note: References to prices on this website refer to prices on the main Amazon.com website for US customers. Prices will vary for readers located outside the US, and even for US customers, prices may change at any time. Always check the price on Amazon before making a purchase.

*  *  *

Naked, with Glasses

by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman

Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
About Naked, with Glasses
(award-winning short story colection by the author of The Kommandant’s Mistress, Only with the Heart, & Mastering Point of View)Szeman began writing short stories at 12. A voracious reader who’d wanted to be an author since the age of 6, she promptly began designing covers for her stories, stapling them into book format, and trying to sell them for the unbelievably incredible bargain-basement price of only 25¢. Though there were no buyers for these limited edition stories — now, unfortunately, all lost — Szeman was not discouraged. She began passing them out to anyone who’d accept them. Sort of like a street-vendor hawking a show in New York.The same dark humor, morally ambiguous subject matter, and sophisticated treatment found in her novels and poetry collections are present in her stories.Quirky characters abound. “BusMan,” in the story of the same name, re-invents himself as a superhero after an unexpectedly frightening incident on his daily route.Vincent, “Hunchback of the Midwest” and member of a traveling freak-show, regales his audience with tales of conquests over beautiful women, all the while longing for the one beauty he fears he will never possess.

Thirty years after the end of the violently protested 1960-70’s “conflict,” the Vietnam War comes to a small town’s Convenience Store in the surprisingly affecting and disturbing “VC in the USA.”

Biblical characters populate many of the tales. Wandering in the Wilderness after escaping Pharaoh’s enslavement in Egypt, the Hebrews begin to doubt their leaders, Moses and Aaron, as well as God Himself, in “Rebellion in the Promised Land.”

Jesus, his followers, and the Romans who occupied Judaea during Jesus’ lifetime frequently appear, involved in encounters not mentioned in biblical stories. “Passion Play” recounts Judas’ and Mary Magdalene’s attraction to and avoidance of each other, as they struggle with their mutual love for Jesus.

Sleepless and agitated, Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate is plagued by nightmares, doubts, and crumbling self-confidence after his unsettling encounter with Jesus in “Slaying the Dragon.”

As in Szeman’s other work, the universal themes of family, love, loss, loyalty, and betrayal are visited in this collection as well. The narrator of “Me and Mom and JFK,” now a grown man, recalls his childhood, when he competed with President Kennedy, before and after his assassination, for his own mother’s love.

The spunky, unforgettable narrator of “St. Jerome Emiliani Comes to the Church Picnic” is reluctantly thrust into adulthood by a staggering “initiation.”

Equally mournful and outraged, the mother of a suspected serial killer makes the rounds of TV talk-shows in “Midwestern Madonna and Child,” trying to explain why she’s not to blame for whatever crimes her son’s accused of, despite the media’s incessant questions and insinuations.

Edgy, memorable, and engagingly written, these award-winning stories display another aspect of Szeman’s talent — that for short fiction. Filled with distinct voices, unique characters, surprising plot-twists, and successful experimental writing innovations (such as “Sorry, Wrong Number, Redux,” which is entirely in dialogue), this prize-winning collection secures the author’s  reputation in this genre as well, adding to the accolades she has already garnered for her critically acclaimed and award-winning novels, poetry, and non-fiction.

*  *  *

Some Are Sicker Than Others

by Andrew Seaward

4.8 stars – 12 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:

The lives of two hopeless addicts converge unexpectedly following an accidental and horrific death.

Monty Miller, a self-destructive, codependent alcoholic, is wracked by an obsession to punish himself for a crime he didn’t commit.

After his fiancé, Vicky, is killed in a hit-and-run accident, Monty embarks on a suicidal mission to drink himself to death. But his family intervenes and has him committed to Sanctuary, a rehabilitation facility high in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. There he meets Dave Bell, a former all-American track star turned crack addict, and the driver responsible for Vicky’s death. Can Monty forgive Dave for his unspeakable atrocity and finally find the courage to forgive himself? Or will he follow his addiction to its inevitable conclusion, using self-pity and blame as excuses to give up on life?

Based on the author’s own personal experience with substance abuse and codependence, SOME ARE SICKER THAN OTHERS, transcends the clichés of the typical recovery story by exploring the ambiguities and deep personal conflicts of addiction, love, and recovery.

*  *  *

The Axeman’s Jazz (The Skip Langdon Series)

by Julie Smith

5.0 stars – 4 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.
Here’s the set-up:

The second book in the Skip Langdon mystery series by Edgar Award-winning author Julie Smith.

“Gritty and Witty … Langdon is a splendid female heroine … The Axeman’s Jazz is a mesmerizing story.” -People

It’s a steamy August in New Orleans and a murderer has borrowed the name of the Axeman, a serial killer who roamed the city in 1919. The modern-day Axeman has strangled a young woman and stabbed an elderly man, beside whose body a teddy bear is found. The letter “A” is scrawled near both corpses in lipstick and in blood. Both victims, it develops, were members of 12-point recovery programs modeled on Alcoholics Anonymous; the killer may be using the groups’ anonymity as a shield.

A most appealing heroine, social-misfit Skip Langdon, is now a homicide detective assigned to the Axeman team. Risking her life, Skip must get close to suspects, among them beautiful but ditzy Di, a New Era devotee; the very angry Alex, “a walking testosterone bomb” who writes self-help books; Sonny Gerard, a stressed-out second-year medical student; and Missy, Sonny’s overmothering girlfriend. As Skip threads her fascinated way from one self-help group to another, she finds she has more in common with the twelve-steppers than just the murder. And she knows what they do not: that among their anonymous numbers is a deadly murderous, and dangerously attractive — psychopath….

“With an acute ear for New Orleans speech and a sharp eye for the city’s social stratification, Smith keeps the reader’s heart palpitating to the end of this mystery of unusual depth.” -Publishers Weekly

“The Axeman’s Jazz is the kind of book that leaves you torn between running out and devouring all the other mysteries in the series, or spacing them out as periodic special treats. Julie Smith garnered great attention, including an Edgar for Best First Mystery, with her initial entry in this series, the 1990 publication of New Orleans Mourning featuring police detective Skip Langdon … in New Orleans, of course. The Axeman’s Jazz is the second of the series and even better than the first.” -BookLoons Reviews

If you like Laura Lippman, Sue Grafton, Linda Barnes, Nevada Barr, and Marcia Muller, Julie Smith’s your new best friend.

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Dangerous Attractions

by Gwyneth Atlee, Colleen Thompson

5.0 stars – 4 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.
Here’s the set-up:
After surviving a shipwreck, Genna Whitworth, a Boston heiress fleeing from scandal, is stunned to learn she’s been saved by a childhood friend she thought was long dead, a victim of the Seminole raid in which her father died. Eli Blaylock is also surprised to see Genna, the friend he blames for betraying his trust that fateful night. Amid secrets and guilt, Genna and Eli must decide if loyalty is stronger than love, and if sins from the past can be forgiven. The one word that describes this book best is “different.” From the unique, culturally diverse setting of the mid-nineteenth-century Florida Keys to the integrated use of past and present, Easton has created a story a breed apart from the typical romance novel. However, it is indeed a romance, one that should interest readers looking for historicals beyond European ballrooms, as well as readers who never thought they’d like to read romance in the first place. Nina Davis

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3.9 stars – 23 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.
Here’s the set-up:

In the year 3747, a scientist performed a dangerous experiment on his son. It’s now 3773; political corruption, betrayal and deception are rife, and the son, General Andrew Biman, is now a man.

Andrew is a darling of the populace and a favorite of the monarchy. When the queen invites him to join the inter-planetary Congress, Andrew lets fly his plans to re-instate a republic, setting in motion a legislative firestorm. He is soon framed for murder, branded a traitor and on the run.

Stealing a prototype warship, Andrew flees his home city, rescues a sarcastic princess from pirates and ignites a civil war – alienating his few allies in the process with his crushing arrogance. While he clashes with the princess, his envious first mate, and a promiscuous navigator, enemies amass their forces. Vulnerable, Andrew strikes deep into the heart of enemy territory with a fool’s hope…until he discovers his father’s experiment, implanted within him a lifetime ago.

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Sunset (Pact Arcanum)

by Arshad Ahsanuddin

4.1 stars – 14 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Don’t have a Kindle? Get yours here.
Here’s the set-up:

Los Angeles, 2040. The terrorist Medusa and her followers threaten to destroy the metropolis with a nuclear bomb. One individual, the vampire Nicholas Jameson, comes forward to oppose them. As Nick takes on the terrorists, the fragile peace between the races hangs perilously in the balance as the supernatural peoples are exposed.

Arshad Ahsanuddin is a hematopathologist. The irony of a physician who specializes in blood disease writing a series of vampire novels is not lost upon him.

For more details about Arshad, check out the author’s website at pactarcanum.com.

Search on “Pact Arcanum” to find all the books in the series.

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4.0 stars – 2 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
Ryan, Erin, Kris, and Jason are heroes defined by the villain, unwitting assistants in a cataclysm brought about by an old man who calls himself… Devidis. The four modern, international teens awaken deep within a jungle canyon, a prison in the post-apocalyptic empire established by the tyrannical Devidis. Surrounded by danger, the four Elementals quickly embrace their new-found super-powered control of the elements–wind, fire, water and stone–under the guidance of Sensei, an imprisoned freedom fighter who believes that Devidis’ near omnipotence is a clear sign that the world is a persistent illusion in the mind of its evil emperor. And so the Elementals are forced to come of age in an increasingly hostile land. Though supernaturally capable, they are faced with a frightening possibility: are their hopes, goals, powers, friends, enemies, surroundings and selves… all an illusion? It’s “Final Fantasy meets X-Men” as worlds are torn asunder!

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Angela of Troy

by SJB Gilmour

3.5 stars – 4 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
Angelina Troy was a woman of legend. Seasoned veterans feared her sword and gods themselves lusted after her body, just as demons in the pits of the darkest hells loathed her and her necromantic power. Nothing, it seemed, could bring her down. Then she met the one man who neither feared her nor desired her. It was that encounter which was the beginning of her ultimate undoing and her terrible fall from grace…

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Here’s the set-up:
Many say few know more about stock trading than Michael Swanson, who ran a top ranked hedge fund for four years and has built up a huge audience of readers on his website WallStreetWindow.com thanks to the accuracy of his market calls and investment acumen, including making over 50% in 2008 in one of the worst years for the stock market ever. His book Strategic Stock Trading demystifies the stock market by explaining what truly makes the stock market and individual stocks move the way they do and shows you how you can take advantage of it. The book explains the principles required for you to become an elite trader in the stock market, including what and when to buy and sell using the Two Fold Formula, how to manage risk, and how to be able to foresee real changes in the overall trend of the market before the crowd does. There are many investment books that describe aspects of technical and fundamental analysis. This one puts them together and shows you have to really use them in a strategic way backed by real life experiences and examples. It also discusses the psychology of investors in the market and how hedge funds and institutional investors now influence the stock market more than ever before and what the individual investor must do in this type of market to succeed.

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5.0 stars – 1 Reviews
Text-to-Speech and Lending: Enabled
Here’s the set-up:
Merx Tol, a resistance fighter, strives to balance life, his empathic sense, and the protection of his people under his mother’s leadership. Everything he desires changes the day Henessa Sar, a young woman presumed dead, appears among the debris of a supply truck.

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