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Monday, September 12, 2022


 I have always said I don't have a favorite book. In fact, I love most of my books. But I do love a few more than the others. Shh. Don't tell them. 

I'm going to be posting favorite scenes from some of my most cherished books here. If you're intrigued, I'll post links where you can buy the book. 


The first book up is "TO LOVE OR NOT TO LOVE." It's book 4 in the Manhattan Dinner Club series. I started rereading this book for a new project I'm working on and I got sucked right in. The meet/cute drew me into the story. I hope it does the same for you. 


Jean C. Joachim



Chapter One



Central Park

Wham! A huge, shaggy, golden retriever sent runner Penn Roberts flying through the air. Intent on his prey—a gray squirrel—the dog never missed a beat, racing full speed after the wily rodent. The furry target scurried safely up a tree, leaving the canine barking in frustration on the ground.

Struggling to breathe and shirtless, Penn lay flat on his back in the dirt. Pebbles dug into his bare skin. The fall had knocked the wind out of him. The perpetrator trotted back to lick Penn’s face. He looked up into a pair of soulful brown eyes belonging to the handsome pooch. Buddy! Was it Buddy? His beloved golden, died seven years ago. As he reached up to touch the dog he didn’t believe was real, he heard a voice.

“Are you hurt? Should I call 911?”

Penn switched his gaze from the canine to the most beautiful teal blue eyes, framed in black lashes, he had ever seen. The woman’s peaches-n-cream complexion was set off perfectly by long hair as dark as midnight. Her left hand held two more leashes. One with a pug at the end, the other linked to a Boston Terrier.

“Lucky didn’t mean to knock you over,” she said. The dog licked him again. “See? He’s sorry. Are you okay? Can you talk?” She leaned over, providing a perfect sneak peek of a pair of tantalizing breasts. Penn’s gaze was riveted.

He pushed up on his elbows. “I’ll live. Is this your dog?” He petted Lucky.

“I’m his dog walker.”

“Some dog walker…can’t keep control of one this big, eh?” His regard moved from Lucky to the luscious figure of the stunning woman crouched before him. She wore black bicycle shorts topped by a low-cut, turquoise tank top. The outfit molded her figure perfectly, leaving little to his imagination, kicking his libido into overdrive.

“You’re okay?” Her brows knitted.

“No thanks to Lucky, here…or you, for that matter.” He tried to scowl but was unsuccessful.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. When he sees a squirrel, he bolts. My fault all the way. I’m Miranda Bradford.” She stood then extended her hand.

Penn used it to pull himself up. “Penn Roberts.”

“What can I do to make it up to you?” Miranda picked up the dog’s leash.

That’s a leading question, honey. I can think of lots of things. Embarrassed by his own X-rated thoughts, he sensed heat rising from his chest to his face.

“Have breakfast with me at The Boathouse.” He shaded his eyes from the brilliant, June sun. Squinting, he located his Aviator sunglasses, knocked away by the collision. He brushed dirt off his shorts. Sweat from running glued the loose soil of the bridle path to his back. He handed her a handkerchief and turned around. “Would you mind?”

Miranda turned over the leashes to Penn. She flopped the cloth over her small hand then touched him softly.

He squirmed. “Hey, that tickles!”

“Sorry.” She increased the pressure, brushing away the debris. Her delicate nails dislodged a few stubborn pebbles embedded in his skin. At her touch, a tingle ran up his spine then straight down to his groin. Penn was in no hurry to move away from her warm fingers. After a few more caresses, she dropped her arm.

“Thank you. Breakfast?” He faced her, his gaze warm.

She handed him the dirty linen. “I can’t…Lucky, here. Romeo and Blackie, too.” She gestured to the two small dogs sniffing the ground.

“They’re allowed to sit with us in the outdoor section.”

She tried to hide a smile. “Glad to see your injury hasn’t killed your appetite.”

 “Nope. Stomach’s fine. Will you join me?”

“Guess so. If you’re a serial killer, Lucky’ll protect me.”

“By licking me to death?” Penn cocked an eyebrow. A grin played on his lips.

“Pen, like the writing implement?” she asked, casting a long gaze over his form.

“Two ‘n’s,’ short for Pennington,” he explained.

“Family name?”

“How’d you guess?”

She laughed.

“You walk three dogs three times a day?”

“Only twice a day. I have others, too.”

“A lot to keep track of…” he commented, putting his hand in front of each pooch’s nose to get acquainted.

“I’m used to it.”

“You’re a professional dog walker?” He crouched down to pet the animals.

“I’m a playwright, actually. But this pays the bills.” Her frank stare roaming over his body warmed him.

Not surprised Miranda checked him out, he prided himself on his tall, lean, muscular build.  Clear, light gray eyes and straight, dark, almost black, hair constantly annoying him by falling over his forehead completed the picture. He rubbed his face, shadowed with a day’s growth of beard, wondering if this woman appreciated his scruff or preferred a smoothly shaved face. He’d been told the shadow on his square jaw coupled with his dark eyebrows gave his face an expressive quality.

“I’ve never met a playwright before. Would I know your work?”

“My plays haven’t been produced yet, but I’m getting close…long story.” She gathered the leashes to continue her walk.

She’s more embarrassed about not having a play produced than obviously giving me the once-over. Interesting.

Miranda pulled the leads tighter, drawing the dogs closer to her as they approached the road snaking through the park. She headed for the big hill leading to The Ramble, a maze of paths winding around trees and artfully planted shrubbery.

Penn tugged on her hand. “Let’s go this way, by the Shakespeare Garden,” he said.

“But that’s a longer route,” she protested.

“The roses are in bloom, and they’re amazing right now.”

“You know this how?” She lifted an eyebrow.

“I run in the park every day.”

She followed along, turning right toward the Swiss Chalet puppet theater then making a sharp left. Penn didn’t drop her hand as she fell in step with him. When they rounded the chalet, pink and white roses bloomed abundantly, climbing the long, winding split rail fence on both sides of the path. The sweet fragrance of their perfume drifted toward the pair, enticing them farther along the way, as lovely as it was fragrant. The canines stopped to sniff.

“You were right. This is amazing. Do they do this every year?”

“Roses are perennials, so the answer is ‘yes’.”

“You’re into gardening?”

“I’m into beauty,” he said, tightening his grip on her hand, pleased at the blush coloring her cheeks. They walked slowly on the rose-petal-strewn trail, giving the dogs a chance to get their fill of the scent. Next came the Shakespeare Theater.

“Do you ever come to Shakespeare in the Park?” she asked him as they lingered for a moment in front of the statue of Romeo and Juliet.

“I used to. I haven’t been in a long time,” he admitted.

“I come every year. They do different plays, so it’s worth it. And it’s free.”

“But you have to get here at daybreak to get in line for tickets.”

“I have friends…we each take a shift. I bring breakfast and catch up on some sleep or read.”

“If you get up so early, can you stay awake through the show?”

“It’s Shakespeare. You’re kidding, right?”

He looked at her quizzically.

“My name is Miranda. My dogs are Romeo and Juliet. See a pattern here?”

“You’re a Shakespeare nut?”

“My father was Shaw Bradford, a Shakespearean actor. My folks named us after characters from his plays. My sister is Cressida,” she said as they passed the turtle pond, heading for the edge of The Ramble.

“Was?” He dropped her hand to lean on the railing.

“He passed away when I was seventeen.”

“I’m sorry. I know what that’s like. Both my parents died when I was fifteen.”

“Both?” she exclaimed, putting her hand on his forearm, and squeezing it, her eyes wide.

He nodded and stared at the pond, avoiding her gaze. Six turtles rested on rocks, basking in the sun. She put her hand in his again, and they walked on in silence. Coming down the steep path toward The Boathouse, Miranda gasped when she saw the riot of bright yellow and dazzling red tulips in front of the private dining room.

“I try to come by here every few weeks because they change the flowers often, and each display is more beautiful than the last,” he said, tightening his grip on her fingers.

Lucky barked at a squirrel. Romy and Blackie sat down and panted. Miranda tried to quiet the retriever. Lucky jerked again, trying to get loose. He caught Miranda off balance, bringing her down hard on her knees on the pavement. Tears filled her eyes.

Penn grabbed Lucky’s leash and yanked him back. “Bad dog!” he said to the animal, who promptly sat and looked shamed. “Are you all right?” he asked, helping her up, a frown creasing his forehead.

When Miranda stood up, the cut on one leg started to bleed. Her eyes watered, but she blinked rapidly to hold back the flow. Her lip quivered. “I’m okay,” she answered in a wobbly voice.

“Come on.” He took the leashes in one hand, putting his other around her waist to support her, ignoring the sparks he felt when he touched her. He settled her in a chair at the restaurant and went to the men’s room, returning with some wet paper towels, one with soap.

She held the dogs while he knelt down and cleansed her wound. His long fingers gently washed off the lather with a wet towel and then dried the gash. Bruising and swelling had already begun. He tried to keep his attention focused on her knee, but managed to steal a peek at her chest when she leaned forward.

“Ice. I’ll be right back,” he said, jumping up.

“No, no…it’s okay,” she called, but he was already halfway to the counter before he heard.

Upon returning, Penn examined her wound. The bleeding had stopped. It looked angry, but clean. Penn wrapped a few ice cubes in a paper towel and held it on the area. “I think this injury calls for a big breakfast, coffee alone won’t do. What would you like?”

“Oh, I…” she stumbled, clearly embarrassed.

“Come on. I’m hungry, too. Getting all those paper towels gave me an appetite. Keep me company. They have great bacon here.” He coaxed her.

“Okay, okay. Bacon and scrambled eggs sound great.”

“How do you like your coffee?”

“I prefer tea, if that’s okay…with milk and a little sugar,” she replied, making eye contact with him.

“Done,” he said, reluctantly pulling his gaze from hers and rising.


* * * *


Miranda sat on the wrought iron chair, holding the leashes, and watching Penn walk to the counter. God, he is poetry in motion, she thought, focusing on his confident gait, broad shoulders, and cute butt, unable to keep a grin off her face despite the sting in her knee.

Once he placed his order, he turned to look at her. Cupping his hands in front of his mouth, he hollered, “Ice!”

She smiled and waved then returned the small, makeshift ice pack to her injury. The cold made the pain subside. When he returned, carrying a tray with beverages as well as two paper plates loaded with bacon, eggs, and toast, he straddled the chair opposite her.

“I got you whole wheat toast…since you’re in such good shape…I mean, you look like you work out. You’re wearing running gear. Anyway, I figured you eat healthy,” he said, stammering to cover his obvious appreciation of her body.

“Good choice,” she responded, staring at his chest, covered with a smattering of dark hair. She flushed when she raised her gaze to his then looked down, flustered, and focused on her toast. Penn blushed slightly then yanked his T-shirt from the waistband of his shorts and slipped it on. God, he saw you staring at him, checking him out, like a schoolgirl.

“So, you write plays. What kind? Drama? Comedy?” he asked, slipping a forkful of eggs into his mouth.

“Comedy,” she answered, delicately fingering a piece of bacon.

“I love comedy.” His eyes lit up.

“Most people do, but it’s the hardest to write.”


“I don’t know, but that’s what they say. Seems like it should be harder to make people cry than laugh, but it isn’t. Say, what did you called Lucky? Buddy?” She changed the subject.

“He reminds me of a dog I used to have. He looks just like Buddy.”

“When you were a kid?”

“I got him as a consolation prize right before my parents flew off to a week’s vacation in the Bahamas, leaving me behind. They never made it.”

“What happened?”

“Their private plane went down, and they were killed…together. I was left with Buddy.”

Miranda looked away from him as tears pricked her eyes, thinking about the lost fifteen-year-old boy, suddenly on his own.

“Buddy died seven years ago. I still miss him.” Penn’s gaze rested on Lucky.

She tore off a small piece of toast for each dog and fed it to them.

“You treat each one as if he’s your own,” he observed, breaking the silence.

She laughed. “Walking them every day, they feel like mine,” she admitted. “What happened to you after…after you lost your parents? You were only fifteen.”

“My uncle Alfred, my father’s brother and business partner took me in for three years. Then, I went off to college. My father left me his half of the business, and I’ve been running it for the past ten years.”

“What business are you in?”

“Real Estate are you uh, seeing anyone, in a committed relationship?” He glanced at her naked ring finger before making eye contact again.

“Not now. I’m kind of busy.”

“Too busy for dating?” He raised his eyebrows.

“My life is complicated,” she replied, petting Romeo and avoiding Penn’s eyes.

“Isn’t everyone’s?"

“I mean I have responsibilities. It isn’t only about me.”


“No kids. Look, I have to go.” She put down her fork and stood up.

“Wait.” He grabbed her elbow.

A stab of pain in her knee and Penn’s tug on her arm made her sink down again.

“You’d better let your knee rest for a bit more. Tell me, what responsibilities?”

“I take care of my mother and sister. My sister just graduated from F.I.T. I hope she can get a job soon. My mother has emphysema and can’t work. And the two pugs. I have baggage. Most guys aren’t interested in someone like me…who can’t spend the night whenever they want or be available all the time to focus on them. I can’t,” she said, facing him.

“I run a company. I understand about responsibilities,” he said, taking her hand.

“Do you? You live alone?”


“No pets…of any kind?”


“Then you don’t have the same idea about responsibilities. Mine are twenty-four seven, not only nine to five,” she said, pulling her hand away from his to pet Lucky. Miranda adjusted the leashes in her grip. “Do you have a girlfriend?” she asked after a pause, looking into his eyes.

“I play the field. Safety in numbers.” He chuckled.

“A commitment-phobe with no responsibilities beyond himself. Nice to meet you and thanks for breakfast,” she mumbled, standing up. Miranda winced with the pain but continued anyway. She untangled the leads.

“Can I see you again?”


“Because I like you.” He blushed.

“I come to the park every day it doesn’t rain. Thanks again for the food and for the medical care.” She moved away with the dogs.

“What time?” he called after her.

“Same time as today.”

Penn turned and headed south while Miranda went north.


If you liked the beginning and want to read more, you can find it free if you have Kindle Unlimited. If not you can buy it from Amazon. Get the book here: 








Monday, August 1, 2022



Welcome! This week we are starting something new. The Kicker Story is actually a book in two parts. We started with the kicker's story, which is part two! This week, we'll start the kicker's story part ONE! Yes, this is the story that comes first. I know, it's backward. But both stories are stand-alones. They will be tied together in an extensive epilogue at the end. 

In the meantime, the word prompt this week is "crazy". Don't forget to read the great Tuesday Tales stories you can find HERE. Thanks for stopping by. 


Robbie Anthony, kicker of the Connecticut Kings, and seducer extraordinaire, parked his car in the small house he owned in Shelton, Connecticut. He locked his vehicle, and entered the house from the back door to the kitchen.

He flipped on the central air conditioning, and poured himself a Coke. No alcohol during the season. He kicked off his shoes, and stretched out on his sectional sofa.

He flipped on the TV. It was nine already. He wasn’t hungry because he chowed down before the four o’clock game. He marveled that he wasn’t in the mood for porn, and channel surfed.

His cell buzzed. Ugh, it was Cathy. No way could he listen to her bitching at him again about not calling. He sent the call to voicemail.

Again, his phone sounded. Phylicia. Oh, boy, he knew better than to pick that one up. She’d spotted him at  The Savage Beast cozying up to a new waitress there. He’d lied to her about having to practice, so when she spied him, Coke in hand, breathing down the neck of the new girl, Phylicia went crazy! She yelled, screamed, and called him names.

Carla, the owner, had to have her husband, Trunk Mahoney, defensive lineman for the Kings, toss her out – nicely. Trunk threw a dirty look at Robbie, who slunk away and went home. Damn, that waitress, what was her name? Connie? Maybe. She was fine, though. And stupid Phylicia wrecked his chances with her. He’d be damned if he’d answer the phone.

Words that night from his teammate, Trunk, echoed in his head.

“Some day, Anthony, you’re gonna meet the girl you can’t get. And it’s gonna drive you fuckin’ nuts. I just hope I’m around to see it.”

Robbie smirked. Yeah, like that was really gonna happen to him.

That's all. Thanks for stopping by...

Friday, April 9, 2021



 Adora Smutz, here. We have a roundtable discussion today. I have four heroes of Jean’s books with me today. Please welcome, Tunney Nichols and Jim Caterson from “The Renovated Heart” and Mac Caldwell and Danny Maine from Now and Forever 2 and Now and Forever 3.

Get your copy of Now and Forever 4,  The Renovated Heart! on Amazon. Free in Kindle Unlimited.

Mac: Hey, guys, I thought this was a bowling alley.

Danny: Adora Smutz! What are you doing here?

Adora: Hi, guys. *grins* Fooled you, didn’t I? That free bowling coupon works every time.

Tunney: Who is this babe?

Adora: Ahhh, he called me a babe! Tunney, you’re such a sexy guy.

Tunney: *backs away*, hey, hey. Down, girl. Kit would never approve of this.

Adora: Who’s Kit? What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her, right? *bats her eyelashes*.

Jim: How do we get out of here?

Adora: The doors are locked gents. So sit down. You’re my captives for a while. This is a round table discussion. Here *passes out beer*, might make you more comfortable. *sound of beer bottle tops popping*.

Mac: What do you want, Adora?

Adora: Just want to ask you all a few questions. Let’s see…hmm, which do you prefer, blonde, brunette or redhead? Mac, you’re the oldest, you start.

Mac: Thanks a lot for the age crack. Let me think, slam dunk, I prefer chestnut hair and blue eyes on a woman. Danny?

Danny: Blonde and green eyed. Jim?

Jim: Big blue eyed brunettes do it for me. Tunney?

Tunney: blonde and blue-eyed.

Adora: What a bunch of creeps! Those are the descriptions of your girlfriends and wives. Brother, how unoriginal. Okay…*tosses out index cards*…so much for Jean’s questions. Now you’re gonna get my questions! *the men shift in their seats* What’s your favorite position for sex? Danny, let’s start with you.

Danny: Whoa, Adora! Not answering that one. *raises his hand*.

Adora: Coward! Mac…how many times a week do you have sex?

Mac: *blushes*…uh…I don’t remember.

Adora: A likely story! Tunney…ever do anything kinky in the bedroom?

Tunney: Uh…hmm…define ‘kinky’ Adora.

Adora: You know what I mean! You faker! Jim, your turn…How many times in one day do you have sex with Sarah?

Jim: *blushes deep red* uh…don’t think I’ve ever kept track, Adora.

Adora: You are all a bunch of phonies, killjoys! *stomps her foot*.

Danny: *gets up close to Adora. Puts his arm around her* But maybe we can set some new records with you, Adora…

Adora: Oh? Really? Raises her eyebrows.

Danny: Sure…*slips door open, signals to Mac to leave*…yup. How many times a week do you want to have sex?

Adora: *gets shy* well, gee…I haven’t thought about it…

Danny: *shoos Jim out the door* Think about it. There are four of us and one of you…

Sunday, March 28, 2021



Dear Readers,

I struggled to write "Some Kind of Wonderful", book 7 in the Pine Grove series (but reads as a stand-alone) this during the last six months as pandemic sapped by strength and focus. But I love Jackie & Jeff and had to get their poignant story written and now it is. SO, I am posting the blurb and an excerpt today. 

I will post a new excerpt every day for a week. If you don't buy the book on the first day, be sure to come back and read the other snippets until you are so hooked you have to have the book! 

Here's the blurb: 

   Life sucks for Jeff Barrett. His girlfriend hates his hometown, and his mother hates his girlfriend. His alcoholic father dies and leaves his ramshackle bar to Jeff. He can’t even tear down the dilapidated building because it’s landmarked! He puts it on the market with one caveat – the buyer can’t make it a bar again.

   Jackie Stone’s life grinds to a halt when the IRS closes the restaurant she managed, and her boyfriend skips to Montana with another woman. While visiting tiny Pine Grove, looking for a bar to own and run herself, Jackie gets lost. She flags Jeff down to ask directions. The attraction is instantaneous.

   It’s smooth sailing on the sea of relationships until Jackie makes an offer for his bar and Jeff refuses. The irresistible force meets the immoveable object. Who wins the tug-of-war? Will the winner find a tornado of trouble is just picking up steam?

Now, the excerpt:

July, New York City

Jackie Stone narrowed her eyes to read the sign on the door of Chuck’s Wagon, the steakhouse where she worked as a manager.


Big black letters on a bright orange piece of paper plastered on the inside of the glass door shouted out. A huge padlock secured the knob and prevented entry. Puzzled, Jackie tugged on it anyway. The door rattled but stayed shut. She shook her head. How stupid. Like the padlock is gonna fall off because you pull on it?

She whipped out her cell phone and dialed her boss, Chuck Gregory.

“Hey, Chuck. What’s going on? The door’s padlocked. There’s a sign saying ‘seized’ in the window. What the hell?”

“Tax man cut us off.”

“What do you mean, the tax man cut us off?”

“I’m a little behind in taxes. So, they took the restaurant.”

“A little behind?” She paced up and down on the sidewalk in front of the big plate glass windows of the empty eatery.

“Okay. Maybe a lot behind.”

“Chuck. You lost the restaurant?” She stopped, her mouth fell open.

“Yeah, so I’m going out west. Sindara’s got a house in Montana. I figure I’ll find a place out there and open another steakhouse.”

“You’re going where?” She fished a bottle of water from her purse.

“Montana. Is there something wrong with your hearing, Jackie?”

“Nothing wrong with my hearing. Just my choice of boyfriends.”

“You and I were never serious.”

“Maybe. Maybe not. How could you let this happen? I told you to put money in a separate account. And then when tax time came around, you’d have it.”

“Yeah, well, Sindara wanted to buy a house. She needed the down payment.”

“You gave your tax money to your other girlfriend?” She shielded her eyes from the sun with her hand.

“It was a good move because now I have a place to go.”

“What about me? And our staff? Have you told anyone else?” The sun beat down on the back of her neck.

“Nope. They’ll find out soon enough. Like you did.”

“I can’t believe this.” She resumed pacing.

“Believe it. Have a good life, Jackie. I’m changing my number, so don’t try to get in touch with me.”

“What about my stuff?” She guzzled water.

“What stuff?”

“Change of clothes, some baking stuff.”

“Sorry. Everything in there belongs to the tax man now. Gotta go. Good luck.”

Her phone went dead. Screwing her face up, her hand drew back as if to throw the phone but stopped. Hell, it was her phone. She’d have to pay to replace it. Pay. Pay with what? She didn’t have any income, as of like ten minutes ago.

She sank down on a nearby stoop. Tears burst forth. Chuck—what a dirty, lowdown bastard. Two-timing her and squandering the restaurant’s money. Leaving her with nothing. Branded a failure. Thirty years old and no job, a small savings account, and no place to go.

Opening her phone again, she scrolled through her contacts. When her father’s name came up, she hesitated for a moment before pressing the button.

“Jackie?” The familiar gruff voice set her on edge.

“Hi, Dad.”

“What’s up? Aren’t you working today?”

“That’s what I’m calling about.”

“Oh?” She could hear her father raise his eyebrows.

“Yeah. See, uh, Chuck…kinda didn’t pay his taxes.”




“So the feds shut him down, right?”

Jackie closed her eyes and took a deep breath, preparing herself for the giant “I told you so.”

“Yeah.” Her voice was almost a whisper. She drew her knees up and rested her forearms on them.

“So you’re out of a job?”


“Well, then…”

“Aren’t you gonna say it?” Her head bowed.

In a soft tone she’d not heard since she was six, he said, “I’m not gonna say it. Why don’t you come home for a while? You could use a break.”

“Come home?”

“Yeah. I’ll fire up the grill. I’ve got some chops in the freezer.”

“Really?” She sat up straight.

“Sure. You work plenty hard. Take a couple of weeks off. Come out here. We’ll put our heads together and come up with something.”


“Are you hard of hearing or something, Jackie?”

She laughed. “Chuck asked me the same thing.”

“I hope that scoundrel is out of your life now.”

“Oh, he is. Count on it. We’re so done.”

“Every cloud has a silver lining. Hold on a sec.”

Jackie grinned. Could it be true old Cecil Stone would actually come through for her? And without a lecture? Maybe the lecture was yet to come? She’d deal with it.

“Okay. I’m back. The schedule says there’s a three thirty train. Can you be ready in time?”

“I can.”

“Good. I’ll pick you up at the station.”

Her tears returned. “Thanks, Dad. You’re the best. I didn’t think. I just—”

“Oh, hush. That’s what dads are for, see you at four fifteen.” He ended the conversation.


Buy the book here: