Friday, September 26, 2014

Echoes of Edinburgh - JoAnn Durgin

Hello JoAnn! It's been a little while since you visited with me, so welcome back to my corner niche of the web - and thank you for introducing me to Edinburgh! Luckily my passport is up to date and I could visit Scotland with you (I wish)! That is one country I have wanted to visit for a long time, and I hopefully will be able to see it for myself next year (along with Ireland which has always been at the top of my wish list). But in the mean time, I got to soak in a little of the ambiance thanks to you!

I was truly impressed with this story, not wanting to put it down unless I really had to. (It's not often I can say that these days with the overflow of available reading material!)

Anyway, I'm very pleased to be able to share such a wonderful story with my readers!

Back Cover:

 To honor her dying father’s wish, Chicago stockbroker Shelby Harmon promises to hand deliver an envelope addressed to “Robert Nichols, Personal & Confidential.” Her quest to find Robert leads her to a most unlikely place—the Castlehill Gardens outside Scotland’s Edinburgh Castle. Who is this fiercely private man and what is his connection to Harmony Lane, her family’s horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky?

 Harrison Reed cautions Shelby against dredging up hurtful memories for his close friend, Robert. As they explore the city together, Shelby and Harrison find themselves increasingly drawn to one another. When the contents of the mysterious envelope are revealed, the answer gives her hope for the future of Harmony Lane. Is the time spent in Edinburgh with Harrison destined to be nothing more than a beautiful memory? Did Shelby lose her heart in Edinburgh...or find her way home again?

Doesn't that sound great? Trust me, your heart will be drawn into this story from the start! Here, take a peek!


The tour guide said she’d find the man she sought somewhere on the grounds, most likely in the Castlehill Gardens. After rounding a bend behind a row of hedges, she stopped short. Hunched between multi-colored rose bushes, a middle-aged gardener was engaged in a tug-of-war with pesky weeds. Intent on his work, he grunted with the effort. Thankful he hadn’t yet spied her, she stepped off the walkway, frowning as her new ballet flats sank into the earth.

When she glimpsed his profile, Shelby’s breath hitched. The strong resemblance to the man in the faded photograph she’d found among her father’s possessions was undeniable, the only difference being the added refinement of a quarter century. His dark hair was peppered with silver and cut military short and his faded jeans were tucked into combat boots. The rolled sleeves of his denim work shirt revealed arms tanned a deep brown—an anomaly among the perennially fair-skinned Scottish natives.

He straightened to his full height and released a shallow groan. Sliding his hands down to his hips, he raised his face to the warmth of the emerging sun. As though sensing her scrutiny, he turned, his features a study in curiosity as he spied her.

“Please stay on the walkway, lass.” After tugging a soiled work glove from one hand, he pointed to the path. His slight brogue—husky as if thick with the ever-present mist—was tinged with an unmistakable Kentucky accent, an unexpected solace so far from home. He took a few slow steps toward her, favoring his right leg. As he approached, Shelby caught a glimpse of deep-set, piercing blue eyes that held a guarded wariness.

Not wanting to irritate him further, she stepped back on the walkway. “I’m sorry to interrupt your work, sir, but I’m looking for Robert Nichols from Lexington, Kentucky.”

“You’ve found him.” Standing a few feet away, he tilted his head and narrowed his eyes.
Shelby smiled, hoping to put them both more at ease. “I’m Shelby Harmon, Katie and Tom Harmon’s daughter.”

No immediate response was forthcoming although something akin to recognition flickered in his gaze.

“My Aunt Lily told me you worked at Harmony Lane with my mom when you were teenagers. I believe you knew her as Katie McCormick?” Her professional instincts taking over, Shelby extended her hand.
Robert’s stoic expression relaxed and, for a fleeting moment, reminded Shelby of her father. Gruff around the edges but softening at the mention of her mother. “Aye, I should have known. You have your mama’s same honey blonde hair and bonnie blue eyes.” He removed his remaining work glove and enfolded her hand in his warm grasp. A quick glance revealed the hands of a working man with small, rough calluses. His nails were clean and neatly trimmed, and he wore no wedding band.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve planted my feet on Kentucky bluegrass,” Robert said. “Left a big part of myself there. Kind of hard to shake it out of a man, not that I’d ever want to.” His lips curled as he released her hand. “Tommy was sweet on your mama from the time we were old enough to saddle up and ride.” He smoothed a hand over his short hair and glanced into the distance before returning his gaze to hers. “Seems fitting she ended up marrying the boss’s son and living at Harmony Lane. The way I see it, Katie belonged there all along. Born to the manor.”

Shelby had expected to hear more about her father, not her mother. What was Robert’s connection to her parents, enough to bring her across the world on a personal mission? For a half second, she considered pulling the envelope from her purse and handing it over. The promise to her father would be fulfilled, and she could return home to Chicago and her usual routine. No strings attached. End of story. “Mr. Nichols, I have something I need to—”


They both turned. A tall, lean man with tousled blond waves rounded the corner. He was rugged with high cheekbones, healthy sun-kissed skin, a square, chiseled jaw with a shadow of stubble, and a well-formed mouth—the latter not something she normally noticed. She estimated him to be in his late twenties to early thirties. With a black T-shirt stretched across broad shoulders, faded jeans and scuffed leather boots, he appeared an incongruous cross between a muscled surfer and an urban cowboy. Most definitely, this was a man she’d never expect to see standing in a garden outside a castle.


What a wonderful story! Shelby is so sweet, following her heart, wanting to fulfill her father's last wish that she deliver an envelope to a complete stranger in a foreign country. But she finds much more than she could ever imagine when she started out on this adventure. Her father's dear friend shows her around the countryside, introducing her to his best friend who becomes dear to her also. This story is  full of heart. Don't miss it!

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JoAnn Durgin is the author of five full-length novels, including The Lewis Legacy Series and Catching Serenity. Her novellas for Pelican Book Group include Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (2012), its sequel Starlight, Star Bright (2013), and a soon-to-be released Passport to Romance novella entitled Echoes of Edinburgh. After living from coast to coast across the U.S., JoAnn and her family now reside in her native Southern Indiana. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Louisville (KY) Christian Writers, nothing thrills JoAnn more than sharing the love and grace of Jesus Christ with her readers.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Unexpected Wedding - Carla Rossi

Hi Carla. I'm so sorry I've lagged a bit. I noticed you have a  new story out and I had to go grab a copy. I love it! I hope you don't mind if I share what it's about. It's a great story! So here's a peek at Unexpected Wedding.

Back Cover:

Rocky Lionakis has been a wheelchair user since a fall in college. He plays bass guitar in Cornerstone Fellowship’s worship band and shares his testimony every week with the campers at Towering Pines summer church camp. At peace with his chair, he has settled into a boring but successful career in technology - until stunning camp counselor, Gia Rinaldi, enters his life and turns it upside down.

Lifelong preacher’s kid and occasional wild child, Giavanna Rinaldi, has always learned things the hard way. With a trail of bad choices in her wake, she has finally grown up and found her niche as a student of Christian child psychology. She returns to Camp Towering Pines where she’s worked since high school, but unsettling dreams and an unexplained illness lead her to a harrowing discovery.

Will Rocky and Gia’s budding romance survive her trauma? And is their bold decision an answer from God, or a serious step outside of His perfect will?


     Rocky Lionakis didn’t know what hit him. Last he remembered, he’d tucked his Bible beside him in his wheelchair and turned to leave the platform. Now he was flat on his back on the wooden ramp, gazing at the blue east Texas sky through a canopy of tall pines. It would have been a beautiful summer afternoon sight if he’d meant to be looking at it. 

He lifted his head and then decided it felt better to stay down. Voices grew softer, and bubbly chatter faded as camp staff herded the junior and senior high audience for his last talk away from the outdoor stage and down the path toward the dining hall. 

Somewhere the wheel of his chair spun with a rhythmic swish and put him in mind of an old bicycle he had as a child. It slowed, and he closed his eyes. Normally a tumble from his chair ended with a quick recovery. Propelled by sheer embarrassment, he could usually steady the lightweight titanium contraption and be upright in seconds. This time his scattered thoughts and developing headache told him he’d fallen harder than he realized. For all he knew, his chair had
landed in another zip code because it sure wasn’t beside him on the ramp. 

He felt for his Bible and discovered it under his left hip. Everything was quiet except for the coo of a mourning dove somewhere high above him and the scrape of a squirrel’s feet as it scampered up a tree. 

As he started to relax, all pain dissipated. Maybe the fall had killed him... 

The scent of something earthy and sweet reached his nose. He sniffed the air. Heaven smelled like strawberries. 

He opened his eyes and looked up into a warm chocolate-brown gaze. An angel stood over him. Strands of long dark hair slid off her shoulders and hung almost to his face as she bent over him. 

She smiled and knelt beside him. “Fall off your horse there, cowboy?”

He blinked. If this was Heaven, God had sent him one sassy angel to welcome him home. Nice.


I loved this story! The strength of the characters and the way they are so real about their circumstances is beautiful! This story really makes you feel like you're right there on the sidelines cheering them on. Honestly I just wanted to reach in and hug them sometimes! Great story, Carla!

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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Piece of Heaven & Precious Embrace

Wouldn't you just love to find a cozy little restaurant where you could enjoy a good dinner, good company, and good music? I mean good Christian music. A place where you wouldn't have to worry about anything, not even what the kids might hear if you brought them along. Well, this is the place. This is my dream. Come on in and visit A Piece of Heaven. I promise you'll enjoy it!

A Piece of Heaven

First we have Trina's story...

Trina Wembly dreamt of owning a Christian coffee house for years –a Godly place where people could enjoy a good meal, and entertainment that wasn’t offensive. A Piece of Heaven is that dream.
Jared Larou, the construction foreman who helps design and build the coffee house, is a wounded soul with a soft heart. 
Once the coffee house opens, Trina and her partner, Laura, work day and night. From coffee in the morning, to gourmet dinners in the evenings, it’s a heavy load. Plus Trina performs most nights as the entertainer at the coffee house.

After working together and building her dream, Trina longs to be more than just friends with Jared, she just hopes that’s what God wants for her too.

Here's a peek:

Trina was on the raised platform in the corner.

Jared glanced around.

Most of the tables were occupied. Must have been a good night, so far. Hopefully they’d had some downtime earlier in the day.

His gaze was drawn back to Trina as she plucked on her guitar. Seated on a stool, legs crossed, her green skirt covered all but her ankles. Long brown hair coiled in a thick braid was draped over one shoulder.

He’d love to run his fingers through it and see how soft it was as he unbraided the length. He sighed. He’d love to just sit with her and hold her hand, hold her as they talked about life.

She was so vibrant, so alive. Her eyes glowed with an inner fire as they roamed from one listener to another around the room. Her foot swung gently with the rhythm of the tune while the other rested on the bottom rung of the stool. Her fingers caressed the mahogany instrument in her lap, plucking out a warm, deep sound. Then she started to sing.

Words from what used to be one of his favorite hymns poured over him. Jared swallowed hard.

Trina glanced from person to person, seeming to connect with each one—until she looked up.

Jared was stunned. He couldn’t move his lips to form a smile. His heart was being shredded. Their gazes locked as the words of the song continued to tumble from her mouth, words that sent a crack along the walls protecting his heart, blocking out the God he had loved and trusted.


...and now there's Laura's story...

Precious Embrace

Laura Senton has found peace and happiness, knowing she’s right where she belongs, running her own kitchen at A Piece of Heaven, a Christian coffee house in PingreeMD. Being partners with her dear friend, Trina, she has carved out a niche and counts her blessings daily for being able to do something she loves doing. When the sins of her past are brought to mind by the appearance of Sean Laylor, her teenage crush, Laura tries to hide from Sean, as well as her own feelings.

At first not recognizing Laura because she changed so much, Sean is at a loss as to why she tries to avoid him. He has no idea of what Laura went through years ago, or how she felt toward him, but he still feels a share of the guilt for her past once he learns  some of the choices she made.

Both covet the memories of their time together, but sins of the past can be a tough hurdle to get over.


Orders trickled to a stop over the next half hour.

Wow. So much for a quick and easy clean up. Laura wanted nothing more than to put her feet up on a chair and relax. She pulled her apron off, hung it onthe back of the door, and stepped out into the restaurant.

Trina wasn’t playing—must be on her last break.

Laura grabbed a mug and stepped over to the latte machine. She looked over the crowd.Lise was just clearing off a small table by the wall.

The seat was Laura’s favorite. Maybe because she Jared had proposed to Trina there. Or maybe because it had a good view of the stage but was out of the way.

"Excuse me. Could I get a cup of coffee? The other waitresses look pretty busy."

"Sure, I’ll..." She lifted her gaze past the broad chest and shoulders to a neatly trimmed beard andstartling blue eyes. Eyes she would know anywhere.

She swallowed hard. "Sean?" Her first crush.

"Sorry, do I know you?"

No, he wouldn’t know the blonde, curly hair, or the body that was half the size it used to be. She shook her head. 

"Sorry, I thought you were someone else. I’ll get your waitress for you. What table are you—"

He touched her arm. "You look vaguely familiar. Are you sure we don’t know each other?"

Of course, he had no idea. But she knew him. Sean Laylor, high school quarterback, team captain senior year...why would he remember the fat girl with glasses and long, stringy hair who tutored him to get his English grade up so he could stay on the team and get into college?

She snapped back to the present. "Let me get your waitress for you."

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I was born and raised in New England and although I've seen much of the country, this is the area I will always call home. I love the change of seasons and the beauty each one brings. There is no place quite like it.

I've been married over 20 years and we have one teenage daughter who is currently attending college. 

I am an active member in my church, a member of the worship band, and I write not just stories, but  music as well. Maybe one day you’ll hear some of them!