Stacking the Shelves & Sunday Post

Saturday, April 29, 2017

I am linking up again this weekend with Tynga at Tynga's Reviews for Stacking the Shelves and Kimberly at Caffeinated Book Reviewer for Sunday Post to share all of the books I picked up lately, share my posts for the past week, and also share what's coming up soon! 

For Review:

Freebies from Amazon:


From Giveaway:

Life Lately:
This week NetGalley surprised me by approving a couple titles (Words on Bathroom Walls and Words in Deep Blue) that I had requested quite a while ago.  I just assumed that I wasn't going to get them. lol!  I've been wanting to read Dark Matter for a long time, and just recently saw it on Blogging for Books and had to get it.  I'm excited about that one because so many people said it was really good, and it's really different than what I've been reading lately.  I found Mr. Mercedes and The Widow at our little local library for sale for only $2 a piece so I had to scoop those up.  I also donated two big bags of books.

Last week I mentioned that I had lots of spring cleaning type of projects to do.  I didn't get to start the sorting in the basement but I did get the landscaping in the front of our house done.  It looks soo nice!  I'm glad it's finally finished.  Hopefully this week I can start some of the other things I wanted to get done.

The weather around here has been absolutely beautiful.  I'm loving it.  My daughter and I have been having watergun battles, creating art with sidewalk chalk, and chasing bubbles outside. lol!  My husband has just started trying to teach her to ride a bike too!  Fun stuff!

Recently On My Blog:
Back Piece by L.A. Witt - Review
A Charmed Little Lie by Sharla Lovelace - Excerpt & Giveaway
Top Ten Things That Make Me NOT Want to Read A Book
Waiting on Wednesday
Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh - Review
Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z - Review
Monthly Review

Coming Up Next On My Blog:
Cask Strength by Layla Reyne - Review
Cold Summer by Gwen Cole - Review
Top Ten Tuesday - Cover Theme Freebie
Ensnared by Rita Stradling - Excerpt & Giveaway
Waiting On Wednesday
Who She Was by Stormy Smith - Excerpt & Giveaway
Love & Vandalism by Laurie Boyle Crompton - Review

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What have you read lately?

Monthly Review: April

Friday, April 28, 2017

A quick recap of all the happenings around my blog.

Most Popular Posts:

(all links take you to the review on my blog)

# of Reviews: 13

Average Rating: 4.2 Stars

How I'm Doing On My Reading Challenges:
(you can always click here to view current challenge updates)

Goodreads Challenge: 67 out of 200 books
Beat the Backlist: 14 out of 50 books
New Release Challenge:  47 out of 125 books

I'm still ahead with my Goodreads Challenge and the New Release Challenge, but I've really dropped the ball on my backlist this month, which is really disappointing since my backlist was one of my goals for this month.  I only read ONE book this month from my backlist.  I'm hoping I can play a little bit of catch up the next couple months. (If I can get myself to stop requesting so many ARCs. lol!)

What You Can Expect In May:

I've scheduled a lot less promotional posts for next month since they seem to be my least popular posts.  I mostly have 1 scheduled a week, except for the first week in May where I have 2.  I didn't want to completely get rid of them because they give my readers a chance to win something in a giveaway, and it's also a day where I don't have to worry about writing something, since they send me the code for pre-written posts.

I have quite a few posts written in advance so I should be able to stick to my blogging schedule.  I have a little bit of everything planned for May.  I will be participating in Top Ten Tuesdays, Waiting on Wednesday, and Stacking the Shelves/Sunday Post every week.  I also have reviews scheduled for some romances, young adult, and fantasy titles.

Follow Me Here:

What would you like to see more/less of on my blog?

Review: Risky Behavior by L.A. Witt & Cari Z

Friday, April 28, 2017

Title: Risky Behavior
Authors: L.A. Witt & Cari Z
Genre: MM Romance
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Publication Date: May 1st 2017
Find It Here: Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes & Noble

It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.

Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.

As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox—and borderline unethical—methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

Darren is not only assigned to the grumpiest new partner in existence, but now he is also being asked to spy on him by Internal Affairs, because they believe he is a crooked cop who is using drugs.  Andreas has a hard time trusting anyone because he is working a tough case that may have guys on the inside.  He also has issues trusting his new partner because his last partner got him hurt on the job.  There is a lot of chemistry between the two of them but Andreas pulls away because he has a secret that he hasn't told many people.

Andreas is a gruff bear but has a teddy bear side that I really loved too.  He is very grumpy and short with Darren at times, but there are also some really great vulnerable moments sprinkled in.  Andreas is also older than Darren, although I'm not sure the book mentions by how much because it isn't made out to be a huge deal.  It is just mentioned that Andreas has a kid that is only a couple years younger than Darren.

Darren is the charismatic easy-going type, but he also doesn't take anyone's crap.  He gives as good as it gets when it comes to Andreas' temper.  I LOVED that he was so toppy and aggressive sexually though.  It was a fun surprise.  These two had some great chemistry together.

L.A. Witt is one of my auto-buy authors.  I read just about everything she writes.  I've only read one of Cari Z's books so far (Friendly Fire), but I really enjoyed it.  When I saw that these two teamed up to write something, I knew I wanted to read it.  I wasn't disappointed.  This one had the perfect blend of chemistry between the characters and suspense with the plot.  I definitely want to read more from them in the future.

* I received an ARC of this title via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. *

If you liked this post you may enjoy:

Review: Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Title: Flame in the Mist
Author: Renee Ahdieh
Genre: Retelling, Young Adult, Action/Adventure
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 16th 2017

 The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.

Mariko has been promised to wed the emperor's son by her father to help raise his social standing.  While on her way to fulfill her duty and marry Minamoto Raiden, her convoy is attacked by bandits, who she believes to be the Black Clan.  She has never considered herself to be the brave type, but she uses her intelligence to escape before being killed.  Mariko knows that if she returns home, she will still be forced into a marriage, so instead she disguises herself as a boy and sets off to find the Black Clan.  Once she finds them she comes up with a plan to join them and get them to trust her, so she can find out why they were sent to kill her.  As she gets to know these people she starts to realize that she may have been wrong about them.

We also get to read the POV of Mariko's brother Kenshin. He is a samurai known as the Dragon of Kai, who vows to find Mariko.  He and Mariko have a close relationship, so that makes him even more determined to find her safe.  As the story continues Kershin's hate for the Black Clan is amplified by a situation that he blames on them.  Mariko soon finds herself standing on the opposite side as her brother.

I loved just about every character in this book.  Mariko grows a lot as a character throughout the story.  She starts off very naive and scared, but as she learns to trust her intelligence she becomes a valued member of the Black Clan.  I loved the verbal sparring that she had with Okami.  They were my favorite.  Okami doesn't trust Mariko, and knows that she is hiding something.  He prides himself on always being about to control the situation, but something about Mariko leaves him feeling off-balance.

This was a fun adventure, packed with plenty of twists and turns, that has me really excited and anxious for the next book in the series.  This was the first book by Renee Ahdieh that I've ever read and I'm happy to say that I will be buying her previous work asap!  I loved her writing and how she created a clear picture of the world around you.  The characters are full of personality, and force you to root for them.

*I received an ARC of this title via First to Read in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own. *

Find It Here: 

Waiting on Wednesday

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday is a meme where we have the opportunity to let others know about books that we are eagerly waiting for.

Hosted by Breaking the Spine

Title: Perfect Ten
Author: L. Philips
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Releases On: June 6th 2017!

Find it on Goodreads

Who is Sam Raines's Perfect Ten? 

It’s been two years since Sam broke up with the only other eligible gay guy in his high school, so to say he’s been going through a romantic drought is the understatement of the decade. But when Meg, his ex-Catholic-turned-Wiccan best friend, suggests performing a love spell, Sam is just desperate enough to try. He crafts a list of ten traits he wants in a boyfriend and burns it in a cemetery at midnight on Friday the 13th.

Enter three seemingly perfect guys, all in pursuit of Sam. There’s Gus, the suave French exchange student; Jamie, the sweet and shy artist; and Travis, the guitar-playing tattooed enigma. Even Sam’s ex-boyfriend Landon might want another chance.

But does a Perfect Ten even exist? Find out in this delectable coming-of-age romcom with just a touch of magic.

Why I'm Waiting:  How adorable does this one sound?!  I'm so excited to check this one out!  I'm not one to seek out love triangle type books but this one sounds so good I can't pass it up!  And add in a love spell??  Yep, need to read this one asap!!

What books are you waiting for?

Things That Make Me NOT Want To Read A Book

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I am linking up today at The Broke and the Bookish's link up "Top Ten Tuesday".  They have a different topic every week and it's a lot of fun to meet some new bloggers and find a bunch of new books to add to my list!  This week's topic is: Top Ten Things That Make Me NOT Want to Read A Book.  I thought of 12 different types of things that normally make me say no when trying to find a book to read.

I can't stand anything to do with politics.  It all makes me crazy.  That's all there's been all over the internet.  I like to read so I can escape, and reading a book like that would defeat the purpose, I think

Overly preachy Christian books
I'm not a very religious person so I tend to avoid books that focus largely on that.  Just a personal preference, I don't mean to offend!

Descriptive rape/sexual assault scenes
This one is also a big "no" for me.  If it's just mentioned it the book that it happened previously (without being overly descriptive) then I can usually muscle through, but when it's something in the present and you have to read through those things that happen, I can't do it.

Romances that have cheating
This is a big "no" for me.  I instantly lose all respect for that character and get really mad.  At that point in the book I usually just quit because the other character always forgives easily and takes them back and it annoys me.  That's one of the worst things you can do to a person, so it's hard to believe that that person really loves the other one at that point.  Just my opinion.

Love triangles
They drive  me crazy.  It seems to be a more recurrent theme in young adult books.  I try to avoid them if I can but sometimes I get sucked in anyway.  The only time I don't mind love triangles too much is when it's pretty obvious who they are going to end up with.

Maybe it's because I don't really believe in love at first sight, but I can't get into these types of romances.  I believe in lust at first sight but now love.  You don't even know that person yet!  They always tend to have really stalkerish behavior in these ones too. lol!  I end up feeling like the story is rushed, because half of the fun is "watching" them fall in love.

Post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction
haha!  I know, this one definitely puts me into the unpopular opinion category. lol!  This is a HUGE favorite of everyone now, but I'm just not really into it.

Drug cartels/Mafia
I'm not even sure what it is about this category that turns me off, but I never find myself picking up these types of books.  The only times I have is if it's from an author that I already know and love.

Bikers/MC Romances
I think I kind of ruined this one for myself.  I read A LOT of these and now I think I'm just burned out on the idea.  More and more of them started to have rape and cheating too so I think that's part of what turned me off.

Finding love after losing your soul mate
Okay, this one sounds really mean and heartless, but hear me out!  I can't get into these types of romances because I feel like they are constantly throwing the deceased lover in our face, and they constantly compare the new person with the old one and that rubs me the wrong way. 

Surprise pregnancy
Ugghh this one annoys me.  I just feel like it's way over done, and it takes away from the romance/relationship a bit.  Are they staying just because of the baby or because they really love each other??

Step-sibling romances
Seriously, why is this even a thing??  I realize they aren't really related by blood but it still really weirds me out.  I definitely couldn't think of my step-brothers that way.  To me, they are just my brothers.  I've never looked at them like they weren't.

If you enjoyed this post, check out my list of Things That Make Me Instantly Want to Read A Book that I posted last week!

What are some things that make you not want to read a book?
Do you agree/disagree with some of the ones on my list?

Excerpt & Giveaway: A Charmed Little Lie by Sharla Lovelace

Monday, April 24, 2017

by Sharla Lovelace
Pub date: 4/18/2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Charmed, Texas, is everything the name implies—quaint, comfortable, and as small-town friendly as they come. And when it comes to romance, there’s no place quite as enchanting . . .

Lanie Barrett didn’t mean to lie. Spinning a story of a joyous marriage to make a dying woman happy is forgivable, isn’t it? Lanie thinks so, especially since her beloved Aunt Ruby would have been heartbroken to know the truth of her niece’s sadly loveless, short-of-sparkling existence. Trouble is, according to the will, Ruby didn’t quite buy Lanie’s tale. And to inherit the only house Lanie ever really considered a home, she’ll have to bring her “husband” back to Charmed for three whole months—or watch Aunt Ruby’s cozy nest go to her weasel cousin, who will sell it to a condo developer.

Nick McKane is out of work, out of luck, and the spitting image of the man Lanie described. He needs money for his daughter’s art school tuition, and Lanie needs a convenient spouse. It’s a match made . . . well, not quite in heaven, but for a temporary arrangement, it couldn’t be better. Except the longer Lanie and Nick spend as husband and wife, the more the connection between them begins to seem real. Maybe this modern fairy tale really could come true . . .

Buy Links:
Amazon * Apple * GooglePlay * Kobo * Nook


Chapter 1
In retrospect, I should have known the day was off. From the wee hours of the morning when I awoke to find Ralph—my neighbor’s ninety-pound Rottweiler—in bed with me and hiking his leg, to waking up the second time on my crappy uncomfortable couch with a hitch in my hip. Then the coffeemaker mishap and realizing I was out of toothpaste. Pretty much, all the markers were there. Aunt Ruby would have thumped me in the head and asked me where my Barrett intuition was.
But I never had her kind of intuition.
And Aunt Ruby wasn’t around to thump me. Not anymore. Not even long distance.
“Ow!  Shit!” I yelped as my phone rang, making me sling pancake batter across the kitchen as I burned my finger on the griddle.
I’m coordinated like that.
Cursing my way to the phone, I hit speaker when I saw the name of said neighbor.
“Hey, Tilly.”
“How’s my sweet boy?” she crooned.
I glared at Ralph. “He’s got bladder denial,” I said. “Possibly separation anxiety. Mommy issues.”
“Uh-oh, why?” she asked.
“He marked three pieces of furniture, and me,” I said, hearing her gasp. “While I was in the bed. With him.”
“Ralph was in the bed?” Tilly asked.
“That was the part that caught your attention?”
“Well, I just don’t allow him up there,” she said.
“It wasn’t by invitation,” I said. “I woke up to him staring down at me and then he let it rip.”
I liked my neighbor, Tilly. She was from two apartments down, was sweet, kinda goofy, and was always making new desserts she liked to try out on me. So when she suddenly had to bail for some family emergency with her mom and couldn’t take her dog, I decided to take a page from her book and be a giver. Offer to dog-sit Ralph while she was gone for a few days.
“Oh wow, I’m so sorry, Lanie,” she said.
“Not a problem,” I lied. I’m not really cut out to be a giver. “We’re bonding.”
“How’s he eating?” Tilly asked. “Sometimes he’s shy about eating around other people.”
I glanced over to see Ralph lick pancake batter off the cabinet, then sit back on his haunches and lick himself.
“I think he’s doing all right.”
Tilly sighed on the other end. “Thank you so much for this,” she said. “It takes a load off my mind to know he’s taken care of.”
Something in that sentence or in her voice sounded weird.
“So, how long are you going to be gone again?” I asked.
“Um, well,” she began. “Things are a little complicated, so it may be a little bit.”
A little bit. My weird radar perked up.
“Yeah?” I prompted. “Like—a week? What are we talking?”
“Well, I’ll call you in a couple of days when I know more,” she said. “It’s—you know, my dad is really sick, and family just gets so—”
“Your dad?” I asked. “I thought it was your mom.”
“Oh yeah,” she said. “That’s what I meant. Sorry, I’m just a little scattered right now.” She laughed. “I’m buzzing on too much coffee, probably.”
Too much something.
Ralphed belched.
“Hey, remember,” Tilly continued. “When you put him outside to leave for work, talk sweet to him so he doesn’t think it’s a punishment.”
“Heaven forbid.”
“Seriously, Lanie.”
“He peed on me!” I exclaimed. “His fragile ego isn’t my biggest concern right now.”
“I know, I’m sorry,” she said. “I’ll send you some money to clean your mattress. I actually kind of hoped he’d cheer you up.”
What? “Cheer me up?”
“You’ve been so—I don’t know—forlorn?” she asked. “Since your aunt died, it’s like you lost your energy source.”
Damn, that was freakishly observant of her. Maybe she got the Barrett intuition. She  nailed it in one sentence. Aunt Ruby was my energy source. Even from the next state over, the woman that raised me kept me buzzing with her unstoppable magical spirit. When her eyes went, the other senses jumped to the fight. When her life went, it was like someone turned out the lights. All the way to Louisiana.
Honestly, I had this thought. That I’d feel her more after she passed. After all, she’d been the one with all the intuition. A rumor that had wagged tongues in Charmed, Texas my whole young life. Something I’d thought was cool when I was little, spent most of my teenage years denying, and mostly forgot as an adult—living hundreds of miles away. Forgot until I’d go for a visit, anyway. One step inside that old house left little question.
There hadn’t been any intuition my way, however. No feelings. No aromas of baked apples or orange peels. No sudden penchant for raw honey or the color blue or the new ability to sew. No Aunt Ruby.
Well, maybe the honey part, but that was just me. You can’t grow up in a bee-farming community and not become a honey addict.
I was truly alone and on my own. Realizing that at thirty-three was sobering. Realizing Aunt Ruby now knew I’d lied about everything was mortifying. Maybe that’s why she was staying otherwise occupied out there in the afterlife.
Then again, lying was maybe too strong a word. Was there another word? Maybe a whole turn of phrase would be better. Something like coloring the story to make an old woman happy.
Coloring with crayons that turned into shovels.
No one knew the extent of the ridiculous hole I had dug myself into. The one that involved my hometown of Charmed, Texas believing I was married and successful, living with my husband in sunny California and absorbing the good life. Why California? Because it sounded more exciting than Louisiana. And a fantasy-worthy advertising job I submitted an online resume for a year ago was located there. That’s about all the sane thought that went into that.
The tale was spun at first for Aunt Ruby when she got sick, diabetes taking her down quickly, with her eyesight being the first victim. I regaled her on my short visits home with funny stories from my quickie wedding in Vegas (I did go to Vegas with a guy I was sort of seeing), my successful career in advertising (I hadn’t made it past promotional copy), and my hot, doting, super gorgeous husband named Michael who travelled a lot for work and therefore was never with me. You’d think I’d need pictures for that part, right? Even for a mostly blind woman? Yeah. I did.
I showed her pictures of a smoking hot dark and dangerous looking guy I flirted with one night at Caesar’s Palace while my boyfriend was flirting with a waitress. A guy who, incidentally, was named—Michael.
I know.
I rot.
But it made her happy to know I was happy and taken care of, when all that mattered in her entire wacky world was that I find love and be taken care of. That I not end up alone, with my ovaries withering in a dusty desert. Did I know that she would then relay all that information on to every mouthpiece in Charmed? Bragging about how well her Lanie had done? How I’d lived up to the Most-Likely-To-Set-The-World-On-Fire vote I’d received senior year. Including the visuals I’d sent her of me and Michael-the-Smoking-Hottie.
So later on, in Aunt Ruby’s last days, when said boyfriend—a very fair, blond-haired GQ-style guy named Benjamin—wanted to come with me to meet the woman that raised me, and be with me at the sparse little funeral, I couldn’t do that. Not when Lanie Barrett’s husband was dark-haired, tall and blue-collar sexy Michael. Which would have come as somewhat of a surprise to Benjamin.
“I know, Tilly,” I said, pulling my thoughts back to her as Ralph finished up cleaning the cabinets and had come nosing around the counter to find the source. “I probably have been in a funk. Just—nothing’s been the same.”
“Well, and Benjamin,” she said, and I could hear the nod.
Damn, I really needed to stop talking to people so much about my personal life. I forgot I’d told her about my boyfriend.
“Benjamin was a douche,” I said, feeding Ralph a burned pancake. Maybe he’d be less likely to pee on me tonight.
Benjamin was a douche. He called me cute.
He didn’t understand the insult, but it was really the whole disclaimer phrase that went with it that got my goat. The words still echoed in my head.
I’ve always wanted that average, girl-next-door, dependable girlfriend. The one that isn’t too sparkly. Cute but not gorgeous.
I wanted to throw up just thinking about it. Nothing in my entire life had made me feel more mediocre than that. Whether it was true or not, your man shouldn’t be the one to say it. Not that I was looking for undying love. I didn’t do love. But I was certainly looking for unbridled lust with someone who thought me above average.
My phone beeped in my ear, announcing another call, from an unknown number. Unknown to the phone, maybe, but as of late I’d come to recognize it.
“Hey Till,” I said, finger hovering over the button. “The lawyer is calling. I should probably see if there’s any news on the will.”
“Go ahead,” she said. “I’ll call you in a few days and see how my Ralph is doing.”
So, not coming back in a few days.
“Sounds good,” I said, clicking over. “Hey, Carmen.”
“Hey yourself,” she said, her voice friendly but smooth and full of that lawyer professionalism they must inject them with in law school. She warmed it up for an old best friend, but it wasn’t the same tone that used to prank call boys in junior high or howl at the top of her lungs as we sped drunk down Dreary Road senior year.
This Carmen Frost was polished. I saw that at the funeral. Still Carmen, but edited and photo shopped. Even when I met her for drinks afterward and we drove over to the house to reminisce.
This Carmen felt different from the childhood best buddy that had slept in many a blanket fort in our living room. Strung of course with Christmas lights in July and blessed with incense from Aunt Ruby. That Carmen was the only person I truly let into my odd little family circle. She never made fun of Aunt Ruby or perpetuated the gossip. Coming from a single mom household where her mother had to work late often, she enjoyed the warm weirdness at our house. It wasn’t uncommon for her to join us to spontaneously have dinner in the backyard under the stars or dress up in homemade togas (sheets) to celebrate Julius Caesar’s birthday.
Returning for the funeral, it broke me, walking into that house for the first time without Aunt Ruby in it. It was full of her. She was in every cushion. Every bookcase. Every oddball knickknack. Her scent was in the curtains that had been recently washed and ironed, as if she’d known the end was near and had someone come clean the house. Couldn’t leave it untidy on her exit to heaven for people to talk.
We sat in Aunt Ruby’s living room and cried a little and told a few nostalgic stories, trying to bring back the old banter, but it was as if Carmen had forgotten how to relax. She was wound up on a spool of bungee rope and someone had tied the ends down. Tight and unable to yield.
Still, we had history. At one time, she was family. Which is why Aunt Ruby hired her to handle her will and estate.
A word that seemed so silly on my tongue, as I would have never associated estate with my aunt or her property. But that was the word Carmen used again and again when we talked. Her estate involved the house and some money (she didn’t elaborate), but it had to be probated and there were complications due to medical bills that had to be paid first.
Which made sense. It had taken almost two months, and I had almost written off hearing anything. Not that I was holding my breath on the money part. I was pretty sure whatever dollars there were would be used up with the medical bills, and that just left the house. I figured that would probably be left to me. I was really her only family after my mom died young. Well, except for some cousins that I barely knew from her brother she rarely talked to, but I couldn’t imagine them keeping up with her enough to even know that she died.
I didn’t know what on earth I’d do with the house. It was old and creaky and probably full of problems—one being it was in Charmed and I was not. But it was home. And it had character and memories and laughter soaked into the walls. Aunt Ruby was there. I felt it. If that was intuition, then okay. I felt it there. But only there.
So I’d probably keep it as a place to get away, and spend the next several months going back and forth on the weekends like I had right after she passed, cleaning out the fridge and things that were crucial. Mentally, I ticked off a list of the work that was about to begin. That was okay. Aunt Ruby was worth it.
“How’s it going over there?” I asked.
“Good, good,” Carmen said. “How’s California?”
Oh yeah.
“Fine,” I said. “You know. Sunshine and pretty people. All that.”
I closed my eyes and shook my head. Where did I get this shit?
“Sounds wonderful,” she said. “It’s been raining and muggy here for three days.”
“Yeah,” I said, just to say something.
“So the will has been probated,” Carmen said. “Everything’s ready to be read. I wanted to see when you’d be able to make it back to Charmed for that?”
“Oh,” I said, slightly surprised. “I have to come in person?”
“For the reading, yes,” she said. “You have to sign some paperwork and so do the other parties.”
“Other parties?”
“Yes—well, normally I don’t disclose that but you’re you, so…” she said on a chuckle. “The Clarks?” she said, her tone ending in question.
“As in my cousins?” Really?
“I was surprised, too,” she said. “I don’t remember ever even hearing about them.”
“Because I maybe saw them three times in my whole life,” I said. “They live in Denning. Or they did. I don’t think you ever met them.”
“Hmm, okay,” she said, her tone sounding like she was checking off a list. “And you’ll need to bring some things with you.”
“Two, actually,” Carmen said, laughing. “Just like your aunt to make a will reading quirky. But they are easy. Just your marriage certificate—”
“My what?”
Carmen chuckled again, and I was feeling a little something in my throat, too. Probably not of the same variety.
“I know,” she said. “Goofy request, but I see some doozies all the time. Had a client once insist that his dog be present at the reading of the will. He left him almost everything. Knowing Aunt Ruby, there is some cosmic reason.”
Uh-huh. She was messing with me.
I swallowed hard, my mind reeling and already trying to figure out how I could fake a marriage certificate.
“And the second thing?” I managed to push past the lump in my throat.
“Easy peasy,” she said. “Your husband, of course.”
s smoking-hot body, he’d be okay.

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sexy small-town love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. Her novels include The Reason Is You, Before and Ever Since, Just One Day, Don’t Let Go, and Stay with Me.

Sharla writes modern day, quirky love stories with dysfunctional families, love problems, and snarky humor. Because who doesn’t love a love story? Especially one with strong women and drama and baggage and hot men that can’t get enough of them.…

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