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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

YOU BELONG TO ME - brand-new small-town romance. Up for preorder, releasing April 9.


Here's an (unedited) excerpt. Take a peek into Cal and Giselle's life... 


A man approached her with a piece of paper. She made some gestures before signing. She brought the paper right up to her face before scribbling something with a pen. Hmm, he didn’t remember her being that nearsighted.  She must have left her glasses inside. But he didn’t recollect her wearing glasses, either. He shrugged it off. Things change over time, he figured.
As he got to the place where their paths paralleled each other, he stopped. After the massive truck pulled out of her driveway, he faced her.
“You’re back?” he called out, narrowing his eyes.
She gave him a semi-smile and made her way down the walk. Halfway down, she stepped on an icy patch, slid, and went down hard on her butt.
“Ouch!” she blurted out.
Cal was by her side in a second. He grabbed her elbow and yanked her to her feet.
“You hurt?” He raised his hand to clean off her bottom but stopped in the nick of time.
Brushing off her pants, she shook her head. “Thanks.” She moved out of his grasp.
 “What are you doing here?” Cal asked, struggling to keep belligerence out of his voice, but failing.
“In Pine Grove? It’s my hometown. I’ve always lived here.”
“Okay, then. On Pond Road? Right across the street from me?” His folded his arms across his chest.
“It wasn’t intentional. I needed a ranch. Small. Julia picked it out for me before I got back.”
“Oh? Julia? And she didn’t know I lived here?”
“I guess not. I think it was the only small ranch on the market.”
“What do you need a ranch for? What’s wrong with your father’s Victorian?”
“None of your business,” she said, pushing by him. “Thanks for the neighborly welcome,” she sniffed.
“I did help you up,” he said.
“And I thanked you. I could have gotten up by myself.”
“But you didn’t need to, did you?”
She whirled around and faced him. “What do you want? A medal? Should I call the newspaper? You did something neighborly and nice, but don’t ask me to give you a Purple Heart.” Giselle raised her chin for a second, then turned back and continued on her way.
He stood, frozen in place, watching her walk away. She still had that haughty sway, the “I’m- better-than-you swing of her hips he’d so admired six years ago. Today it simply appeared condescending and haughty.
At the stairs, she slipped again and went right down on the step. From where he stood, it appeared that her shin fell right on the edge of the flagstone. She uttered a cry of pain and stopped. Her shoulders heaved once.
“Well, I suppose you can get up from that one on your own,” he said, his tone meaner than he intended.
“Damn right,” she called over her shoulder. But, for several minutes, she clutched the railing with one hand, and her leg with the other.
Cal gave in, strode over, and slid his hand under her elbow.
“I’ve got it,” she said, attempting to wiggle out of his grasp.
“No, you don’t. Why don’t you just shut up and let me help you?” he asked, easing her up. She leaned against him for a moment.
“Thanks. I’ve got it,” she choked out, staring straight ahead and gripping the bannister.
“Then I’ll just mosey on home,” he said, backing away from her property. His gaze stayed glued to her back. Slowing his pace, he waited for her to move. Finally, she limped up the steps and fiddled around at the lock. Boy, she’d sure gotten clumsy since he’d last seen her. He shook his head and continued on his way home.

************************************

Here's a bit about the book: 



Cal promised to wait for her. It was only for one year while Giselle pursued her dream job in Paris. Devastated when he marries someone else, she remains in Europe. When her failing eyesight forces her to abandon her work, she returns to Pine Grove--only to find that Cal, now a widower with a young son, lives across the street.  

Each nurses a broken heart and vows to never let that happen again. But a small boy brings them together in unexpected ways. Can they move beyond the past to rebuild trust and a future together? Or will the truth of what happened all those years ago keep them apart? 

Preorder it here:




Friday, March 8, 2019

NEW THRILLER - STATUS:MISSING -- FABULOUS, SUSPENSEFUL, TAUT EDGE-OF-YOUR-SEAT THRILLER


A rugged, indelible heroine headlines a riveting tale.” ~ Kirkus Reviews


Highest praise you can receive from one of the most respected journals in the country. Curious? Want to know more? Here's an excerpt from STATUS:MISSING: 


“Get me the info on the flight.” Other members of the task force were filing in now, looking sleepy, tired, and pissed off. “Grab as many people as you need. I want everything.”
“Aren’t you jumping the gun?” Jude asked. “We aren’t even sure the plane is in trouble.”
“Do you really believe everything is fine?”
Jude shook his head. “No.”
“I didn’t think so.”
The director clicked back on the line. “What do you need, Major Sloan?”
Amazing what a phone call from the right person could accomplish. “Global 2455. Somebody needs to make contact with the flight deck. Try the radio first. If it doesn’t work, try the secondary system.” Every airliner came equipped with the text-based Aircraft Communications and Reporting System (ACARS). While radio communications were mostly restricted to talking with air traffic controllers, ACARS allowed ground-to-aircraft communications regarding weather, routing, and gate assignments, as well as functioning as a backup system if radio communications were lost. “We need every commercial aircraft within five hundred miles of Hawaii to try to contact Global 2455 on Guard Frequency. That’s 121.5 if you don’t know.”
“I know what it is, damn it,” the director grumbled. “I’ll get right back to you.” He clicked off.
I passed the handset to Jude. “Sanchez! What have you got?”
More office manager than analyst, Sanchez hustled over with his familiar yellow pad.
“Shit.”
When Jude swore, it almost never meant anything good. “What?”
“It’s gone. Disappeared.”
I searched the wall of monitors for the tiny pinpoint representing Global flight 2455. “Just like that? It’s gone?”
“Just like that,” Jude confirmed. “Just like the others. Here one second, gone the next.”
Except we hadn’t been watching the others when they disappeared. We’d found out after the fact on the others. This was different. Because we’d been watching this particular radar blip, we might have a chance of locating the plane in a timely manner. And, if our operating theory proved correct, we might find the person or persons behind the missing planes.
“Last known position?” I signaled Sanchez to write it down. With no radar image to draw from, Jude rattled off the coordinates. “We need eyes on this plane, or what’s left of it, right now. Sanchez, get Rodgers on the horn again.”
Ordering fighter jets into the air to search for a missing plane was way above my pay grade, and if there was one thing I’d learned from my time in the field, it was to let each member of your team do what they did best.

Buy the eBook here:
  


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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

PINE GROVE TRILOGY!





The Pine Grove series is now a trilogy. The first book, Unpredictable Love, is now only $0.99 - for a limited time. 



Uh oh. Amber signed her sister’s name on a pen pal letter to a Marine. As usual, Jory Walker was stuck fixing her sister’s little white lie.  


When letters poured in from SSGT Trent Stevens in Afghanistan, Jory had no choice but to correspond. Sure he’d be drooling over Amber’s bikini photo, thinking it was Jory. Since they’d never meet, what harm could it do if she sent him a few letters?

Would her charade boomerang replacing happiness with pain? What started off as an innocent ruse, morphed into a monstrous web of deceit. Maybe unpredictable love was destined to break her heart. 

Only $0.99 - for a limited time. Get it now!

Buy it HERE:



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Here's book 2, "Break My Heart" 


   When fire ripped through his home, trapping his beautiful golden retriever, Breaker pushed firemen aside to rescue his beloved dog. While heading for the stairs with the canine in his arms, a falling beam crushed them, killing the animal and scarring Breaker’s face.
   Life, as the famous Breaker Winslow, disappeared. With his career finished, Rick appealed to his friends –who turned their backs on him.    
   Broken, despondent, and alone, he takes refuge in a decrepit farm house in rural Pine Grove. Can the man who had success and love around every corner rebuild his life or is escape the only answer? 

Buy it HERE


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The newest book in the series, book 3 is "Renovating the Billionaire." 


Get rid of the house and sell the land. Bulldozing the broken-down mansion billionaire Stryker Alexander West inherited solves an annoying problem. Busy launching a new venture, he doesn’t have time to waste on sentiment. Taking down the historic building should be a slam-dunk. But Stryker comes up against a stone wall in the form of Landmark chair, Jess Lennox.

Supporting her brother and juggling a hard life, Jess refuses to approve a permit to demolish the old house. No way will she let arrogant, wealthy Mr. West destroy her dream. Unwilling to accept defeat, Stryker’s confident he can prevail.  He insists staying in town is about winning and has nothing to do with heat from a determined blonde.

Too stubborn to budge, Jess holds fast, struggling against her attraction to her worst enemy. Will the winner of the battle lose at love?  


Here are 2 short excerpts: 

Meet Stryker Alexander West:


Aunt Minnie had been his father’s big sister. She was lively, happy, and inquisitive, always poking into his personal business and giving him unwanted advice. She’d been a one-woman matchmaker, trying to marry him off until two years ago, when he turned forty. Then even Minnie West threw in the towel, declaring that he was not marriage material. So what? He doubted he was missing anything other than a messy, expensive divorce.
Stryker West enjoyed playing the field, taking his pleasure whenever and wherever he could. He’d never been at a loss for female companionship. His billions, his most attractive quality, he assumed, made marriage a risk he preferred not to take.

**************************************

Meet Jess Lennox, newly minted Landmark Committee chair of Pine Grove
Like there are any buildings to be landmarked anyway,” someone muttered.
“Oh, but there are,” Jess replied.
“Like what?”
“Like that big old house on 113,” she said.
A murmur ran through the crowd.
“Excuse me, Miss,” said an unrecognized, deep voice. Jess turned toward the man.
“Chair recognizes Mr. West.”
“Do you mean to say that you are landmarking that house?” he asked.
“Damn right I am. Of course, I will give it further study. But as of right now, my recommendation to the Town Supervisor is that no one bulldoze that building.”
“But it’s decrepit. It’s falling down,” the stranger argued.
“Nope. It’s completely stable. And it dates back to the early 1800s”
“That building now belongs to me, and I’m planning to take it down.”
Jess’s heart skipped a beat. Sweat broke out on her forehead. Take it down? Destroy her home, her dream? No way!
“Think again, Mister. No one’s touching that house unless it’s to fix it up.”


Buy it HERE

Sunday, December 30, 2018

A taste of "Renovating the Billionaire."


   The bus ride to the prison in Fishkill and back provided reading time for Jess Lennox. She settled into a window seat and prepared to read. A man slid in next to her. Jess pulled the book closer. Feeling his stare, she squeezed up against the glass.
   “You visiting a relative?” he asked, eying her up and down.
   She nodded. The last thing she needed was some chatty, middle-aged man hitting on her.
   “My wife. Shoplifting. Minimum security.”
Jess ignored him and kept reading.
   “It gets lonely with her gone,” he continued.
Anger bubbled up in her chest. Damn it! She worked hard, and this trip once a month was her only time off.
   “Your boyfriend in the slammer?” he asked.
Her patience evaporated like water boiling on the stove. Jess slammed the book shut and faced the insensitive clod.
   “My mother. She’s in for murder. She killed my father. They say murderous tendencies run in families,” she said, shooting him the meanest glare she could muster.
   The man paled, nodded once and pushed to his feet.
   “I can see you don’t want to be disturbed,” he muttered and headed for another seat. Jess smiled and opened her novel If I Loved You.  Totally absorbed by the story, tears formed in her eyes as she identified with the trials the characters endured.
   Jess ate up love stories from the library by the dozen. Romance books kept her believing that things could work out, that life could get better—and happiness did exist. When the bus pulled up to the Pine Grove stop, she scooted past the annoying man, down the steps, and ran for her car.
She stowed the book in the glove compartment until her next visit and put the vehicle in gear.
    The story stuck with her. What would she do if she ever met a man like Chaz Duncan? Would she even recognize his good heart under his arrogant attitude? With a short laugh, she figured she wouldn’t. Jess hated egotistical men, men so in love with themselves they couldn’t see anyone else.
   She’d only met one man who had cracked her hard veneer. Chip Matthews won her heart in high school. He’d taken her virginity then, too. But she didn’t care. He had provided respite from the anger, fighting, and hostile atmosphere in her home. He’d been her refuge.
   Pulling into the parking lot of Java the Hut, she turned off the car and plucked a dollar bill from her purse. Inside, an iced coffee-to-go waited on the counter. Marge, the waitress, looked up. Jess picked up the paper cup and slid her buck across the shiny Formica. She shot a small smile at the older woman and headed back to her vehicle.
   Next stop, the old mansion on Route 113. She turned on the radio and cranked up the volume to banish the reality of how many more trips she’d make to Fishkill over the next fifteen years. Taking the winding road that hugged Cedar Lake refreshed her spirits.
   There it was, in all its glory. Way below ramshackle, the 1825 four-story mansion stood with whatever pride it could muster. All the windows were broken and there were bare spots on the roof, including one large hole—providing entry for a variety of wildlife.
When she was only eighteen, Jess had stumbled on the house and fallen in love. Minnie West, the old woman who owned it, had invited her in for tea and cookies. Jess gained entry to every room by volunteering to sweep and dust. Including bathrooms, there were forty rooms in the mansion.
   The third floor resembled a rabbit warren of tiny rooms only big enough for a single bed and small dresser. Jess guessed those were the servants’ quarters. At the end of the floor was the longest staircase she’d ever seen. It went straight down from the top floor to the kitchen.
   Minnie chatted about the history of the house and how, years ago, she’d raised her nephew there. The older lady didn’t go on much about him, and he never visited—at least not when Jess was around. As time went on, Jess noticed the house sink further and further into disrepair. When she asked Minnie about it, the woman had explained.
   “Oh, I have money, but I spend it on saving animals. A house is just a thing. Animals are alive. So many need help, you know. I do what I can. I give to several shelters.”
   While Jess agreed with the worthiness of the cause, she doubted the wisdom of putting it ahead of upkeep for the old house. Years passed, and Jess had less and less time for visits. Providing for her brother and herself had become more than a full-time job. She and Minnie lost touch.    
After studying cooking in high school, Jess had become a pretty fair baker. She eked out a meager living baking and selling her pies to restaurants, shops, and hotels. She conjured up a dream of buying the fixer-upper from Minnie for a song, repairing it, and running a bed and breakfast.
  One day while spying on his big sister, Will had discovered her secret. He promised not to tell anyone and vowed that he’d fix it. He told her that new paint, hammer, nails, and a ton of elbow grease could restore the splendor of the mansion. Jess believed every word.
From that day on, they had shared the secret.  Jess sold her cakes and pies while Will did odd jobs and a bit of carpentry when he could get it. They worked toward making the dream come true.
   When Minnie got too old to take care of the place, she moved to an assisted living facility several counties away. Year after year, Jess spied the weather-beaten for sale sign staked in the front lawn.
From time to time, a real estate agent brought someone by, but they left quickly. The only one with a vision for the decrepit house, Jess smiled every time a car carried away someone shaking their head and wrinkling their nose.
   A few pangs for the dotty old woman who had lived in the mansion tweaked Jess’s heart. She’d waited patiently for the old woman to put the building up for sale at a rock-bottom price.
   Now thirty, with Will a sturdy twenty-five, she figured they were ready to take on world’s biggest renovation and make her dream come true. Even after such a long wait, Jess had never given up on her dream. She simply baked her pies, did odd jobs for folks in town and kept house for her and her brother. They put away a few bucks when they could and waited.
Today she circled around back, eying the snarled weeds, wiry brambles, and tree stumps in the backyard. Jess planned where she’d plant her garden. Fresh veggies and herbs would make her food better than anyone’s for miles.
   She found a patch of grass and lay down, staring at the pitched roof and the top floor that, in its day, had cooks, butlers, and maids filling its rooms. As she picked at a weed, she made a mental list of the seeds and plants she’d buy when the place was hers.
   The clouds cleared, and the sun shone down. Jess believed in guardian angels. How else had she and Will survived without parents these past twelve years?
   She glanced around. Something wasn’t right. Jess sat up. What was missing? The “for sale” sign had disappeared. She picked up her phone and called her brother.
   “Haven’t you heard? Old Minnie West finally kicked the bucket,” he said.
   Jess put down her phone. Did this mean that her time to buy the place had come? If that was true, where was the sign?

To find out what happens next, pre-order the book, releasing on January 15, here:

WEBSITE








Saturday, December 29, 2018

An author doesn't usually admit...



I don't know what it is about a heroine who has a hard lilfe and struggles to survive. There's something appealing about a strong woman like that, she speaks to me. Maybe I identify with her as I've had some pretty tough places in my life, too. 

Jess Lennox, the heroine in "Renovating the Billionaire" is like that. As I wrote the book, her grit, stubborness, determination --whatever you want to call it -- spoke to me. I felt her exhaustion, her fear, her sense of responsibility. She meets life head-on, no matter what comes down the pike. Her salty language and tough demeanor never fool me. I knew from the start she was a marshmellow inside. Look at her relationship with her younger brother? She'd do anything for him. 
It's not difficult to admit how taken I was with Jess Lennox when I sat down to write her story. (And it's as much her story as it is Stryker's.) Who wouldn't be? Who wouldn't admire her guts, her drive to survive on her own? She wins your heart and you're rooting for her. 
Sounds good, right? Like an easy peasy story that should roll right off my fingers? Uh, no. "Wait a minute," you say. "You just got through saying how in tune with her you were." And that's all true. But when it came to giving her a happy ending, giving her what she wanted, I struggled. 
I knew what she had in mind, but I couldn't figure out a way to get it to her. Not one that would be believable. And, if you know me, you know that the credibility of characters is paramount. 

So I paced. And I pondered. And I put it off. And I kept writing, hoping it would come. And hoping, and hoping... 

I've never had this much difficulty with a happy ending. Does Jess get what she wants? I can't say. If you truly need to know, you'll have to read the book. 

You can pre-order it here: 

https://jeanjoachimbooks.com/pine-grove-novels/renovating-the-billionaire/ 


For those who don't know me, I never ever give away the ending.