Friday, July 28, 2006


Author: Candice Poarch
Dafina Kensington
ISBN: 0-7582-1237-2
Contemporary Romance
Published: July 2006
Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed By: Shelia Marie

Candice Poarch’s latest book “Bittersweet” is not your typical romance novel.

Desiree Prescott is single and living life in the fast lane with her dreamy fiancé Paul Tremain.

Desiree’s life gets turned upside down when she receives a phone call about the brother she never knew she had. Him and his wife were killed, but left behind three kids. Desiree immediately runs to the kids rescue and becomes their legal guardian.

To her surprise, baseball star Gerard Kingsley has been taking care of the kids until she gets there. The sparks between the two ignite the moment they meet. Each ignore their feelings due to Desiree’s committed status.

Things become tricky as they spend more and more time together due to the kids. In the meantime, Gerard has a maniac fan somewhere in the horizon who is borderline stalking him.

When Paul finds out that Desiree has become the mother of three, his attitude changes and Desiree is faced with making a decision on the state of their relationship. As the chain of events begin to unfold, Gerard and Desiree are drawn closer together. Who will win Desiree’s heart?

There are several subplots in the story. Desiree’s father deals with post-war syndromes. Her mother begins to date again and as mentioned above, Gerard has to deal with a maniac fan.

Just when you think you have things figured out, Ms. Poarch throws in an extra twist. Although “Bittersweet” is under the romance and suspense category, this book could have been in the mainstream category. If you’re looking for a quick good read, then Bittersweet is a good book to add to your summer reading list.

What They Want
Omar Tyree
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0-7432-2869-3
Mainstream Fiction
Publish Date: July 2006
Rating: 4 Stars – EXCELLENT
Reviewer: Kaia Alderson

Male model Terrance Mitchell has every woman he meets eating out of the palm of his hand. It doesn’t matter if he’s in Miami one day, Atlanta the next and then on to Chicago or Los Angeles. Terrance pulls a new one into his bed every night, sometimes two . . . at the same time! Then he hears about the misfortunes of “the one who got away” and begins to question whether all these women really do exist just for his pleasure. It’s when Terrance’s conscious gets his attention that his life takes a turn toward crazy.

Terrance Mitchell is the dog that your whole family warned you about but who you let burn you anyway. He will make the feminist or womanist in you throw this book clear across the room. But Omar Tyree’s writing will draw you so far in that you will be scrambling toward the corner where the book landed to keep reading. The ending may come off as a little too perfect. However, readers looking for a happy ending will be satisfied.

I’m not one to spoil a read but I do have to warn you about Terrance’s trip to L.A. All I’ll say is make sure your air conditioning is working right and on full blast before proceeding.

View Park
Angela Winters
Kensington Publishing – Dafina Books
ISBN: 0758212593
Published: July 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 4 Stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed by: Donielle Ruff

In this first installment of the View Park trilogy, Angela Winters introduces us to the Chase Family. Headed by cosmetics giant Steven Chase and his alluring, yet controlling wife Janet, this family is all about money, power and taking care of business. Hoping to enlarge his dynasty, there's just one person blocking Steven's goal.

Avery Jackson is a beautiful, independent woman who refuses to sell her hair salons to Chase Beauty. When Avery doesn't surrender under the Chase spell, Steven sends reinforcements.

Meet Carter, the rebellious Chase who chose his own dream over his fathers. Summoned by Steven to win Avery over, Chase hopes he can please his father and bridge their relationship. Carter soon realizes that Avery is more woman than he bargained for.

Just as intriguing are the rest of the Chase siblings. First there's Leigh, the good-hearted pediatrician whose desire to please her mother may cost her all she loves. Then we have the Chase VP, Michael, whose only cravings are for his model wife Kimberly, their sons, and a promotion at Chase. Finally, the spoiled and selfish Haley dishes up trouble and even witnessing a murder can't stop her from playing games.

View Park is a fast-paced novel that keeps you wanting more of its scandal, double-dealing and spicy relationships. There are many characters to keep up with but Angela Winters writes smoothly so their stories are well told and blend together nicely. Just think Dallas or Dynasty with an African-American twist. This was my first novel by Angela Winters and I can't wait for the second part of the View Park trilogy.

Ann Christopher
Dafina books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-758201433-2
Published: July, 2006
Contemporary Romance
Rate: 3 stars – VERY GOOD
Reviewer: Connie Quarles

Michael is an attorney on the move. A successful law career, his own practice, handsome and very eligible bachelor; life could not get much better. Then he meets a first year law student who is beautiful, intelligent and witty. Someone who totally knocks him off his feet, plus she has been chosen to be his new intern. The thought leaves him breathless. The only cloud in his world is that his mother is sick again and she wants him to mend the relationship with his brother, Sean.

Sean is the younger brother and the screw-up. Everything Michael touches turns gold and everything Sean seems to touch breaks. Michael let him be a law clerk but that didn’t work. Now he is in law school and in love. Michael hopes his newest interest does not keep him distracted from school.

Dara is a first year law student who does not plan to let anyone or anything keep her from her goal and good grades. She had tried relationship in undergrad school and it did not work. She befriends a fellow grad student and decides that friendship is a lot better than romance. She is excited to be working for the mysterious Mr. Baldwin. But she cannot figure out his mixed messages.

When all the pieces come together the puzzle does not fit the way anyone wants it to. Do you give up the love of your life, your soul mate for family? How much sacrifice should one make for family? The book is appropriately titled “Trouble” because following romance brings trouble to all three of these characters.

Forgivin' Ain't Forgettin'
Mata Elliot
Walk Worthy Press
ISBN: 0446697087
Published: June 2006
Christian Fiction
Rating: 4 ½ Stars - EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewed by: Donielle Ruff

In this debut novel by Mata Elliot we meet Cassidy Beckett. Cassidy is a torn woman running from bad relationships and the guilt and shame of a secret burden. She believes in the Lord, knows scripture and though she meditates on it often she still doesn't believe she deserves forgiveness. Using her job and church as a means of escape, Cassidy goes to live with her beloved aunt and there she meets a man that she begrudgingly allows to chip away at her pain.

Trevor Monroe is a grieving widow and father of two girls who goes to live with Cassidy's aunt after a fire pushes him out of his home. Trevor is the hot, saved brother all the women want but he knows his own pain and pursues God to get him and his girls through. After a surprising yet humorous first meeting there's an instant attraction between Trevor and Cassidy and a relationship blossoms that opens their minds and hearts. Soon Cassidy must decide if she can trust God or Trevor with her secret shame.

Through these characters Mata Elliot shows us that although the Lord's mercies are new every morning, we must still confront yesterday's sins. Her writing covers the spectrum of our spiritual lives: forgiveness, relationships, trust and healing. She shows us that although we can't forget our pain, mistakes or our shame, we can still find healing inside. God can cut through it all to give us his forgiveness, the peace to receive it and the ability to forgive ourselves.

Sugar vs. Spice
Joanne Skerrett
Kensington Books
ISBN 0758211538
Published: June 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating 3 ½ stars-GREAT
Reviewed by: Michelle Alexander

Sugar vs. Spice is the story of two sisters. Tori Shields who is a high energy kickboxing, jazz singing, competitive reporter for a major Boston newspaper and her sister Melinda. Melinda on the surface has the perfect life, with a husband, house, job, and two children, but ever since her husband Michael was laid off, he seems to be content having Melinda be the breadwinner.

When Tori discovers she has breast cancer, she also has scooped an “Enron” like scandal. While struggling to stay on top at work, she tries to conceal the ordeal of her cancer treatment. Ultimately, Tori finds a new perspective on life, an unlikely love interest and friends she did not know she had.

The characters are strong and well written, however, the end of the book ties up all the loose ends rather rapidly, leaving the reader feeling rushed. This book would be excellent for someone with Breast cancer or has a family member with breast cancer. The author herself is a survivor, so I surmise much of the story is autobiographical.

“Passionate Encounters”
Chilufiya Safaa
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-1167-8
Published: June, 2006
Contemporary Romance
Rate: 4-1/2 stars – EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewer: Connie Quarles

Ras was captivated by Cassandra when he first saw her at his cousin’s wedding. But romance was the last thing on his mind. His project for his homeland took precedent. Ras realizes that he will need the help of his family in order to make the project happen. But will he be able to bury the pass to accept the help of his father who he has been estranged with?

He finds the woman of his dreams is also the woman needed to design the interior of his children’s home. But can they have a business relationship without pleasure. Will Ras’ unpredictable personality and family secrets prevent him from finally finding the love his soul so desperately seeks?

This book takes you to the secluded mountains of Colorado, the hustle and bustle of D.C. and the beautiful land of Ethiopia. Chilufiya’s vivid descriptions allow you to close your eyes and image that you are there as well.

Take the time to pick up this book because you will not be disappointed. You will enjoy the Ethiopian customs, the romance, the heartache and the family bond that is compressed within the covers of “Passionate Encounters”.

This was the first time I have read Chilufiya Safaa but it will not be my last! As a matter of fact I plan to order “A Foreign Affair”. Look for more great books and new families to love to follow.

Ex-Girl to the Next Girl
Daaimah S. Poole
Dafina Books/ Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN: 0-7582-0916-9
Mainstream Fiction
Publish Date: May 2006
Rating: 4 Stars – EXCELLENT
Reviewer: Kaia Alderson

Shonda and Malik attempt to figure out married life while Malik’s ex-fiancee Kim struggles to gather the pieces of hers after her ruined wedding. Married life proves to be more than Shonda bargained for when Malik’s nasty ex-convict brother moves in with them before the afterglow of her triumph over Kim has faded.

Then Shonda finds comfort in a new man that she meets at her new job while Malik falls back into his doggish ways.

The reader may get confused at some points because this story is told from three different female points of view in the first person. But once that’s straightened out, this book is hard to put down. Make sure your neck muscles are stretched out because you will be doing a lot of “No she didn’t!” inspired head shaking back and forth.

“A Lover’s Dream”
Altonya Washington
BET Books
ISBN: 1-58314-705-5
Published: January, 2006
Rate: 4-1/2 stars – EXCEPTIONAL
Reviewer: Connie Quarles

This book has everything: romance, intrigue, a fine family of brothers for the ladies to droll over, and characters you want to hear more from in the future. This is the first book of Ms. Washington that I have ever read, but it will not be the last, especially if there is a Ramsey in the storyline.

We go back to an interesting scene from the past which sets the path for the history and skeletons that rattle the Ramsey closet as everyone assumes they know what happened that night. But can author Michaela Sellers, whose specialty is writing Family History, the good, bad and ugly, unearth the mystery? Not if Quest Ramsey has anything to do with it.

But his gorgeous twin wants the book written and the truth revealed; and if he can get Ms. Sellers attention on the side so much the better.

The book will answer the questions as to whether the story will get written, or will Michaela lose interest? Who will get the girl: Quest or Quay and how can she tell them apart when she only met one? Plus which Ramsey is responsible for the events of that faithful night? This is one story that I did not have the right person until almost the very end. Buy it and enjoy it for yourself. When is the sequel?

What’s Done in the Dark
Gloria Mallette
Dafina Books
Kensington Publishing Corp.
ISBN 0758211570
Published : January 2006
Mainstream Fiction
Rating: 4 stars - EXCELLENT
Reviewed by: Michelle Alexander

What’s Done is the Dark, is more like a mystery novel, but with incredible plot twists and surprises all resulting from sibling hatred. Celeste and Katrina are sisters whose dislike of each other is intense and violent.

Celeste’s husband is found murdered in a motel with another unknown woman who has disappeared. Katrina’s husband falls mysteriously ill, dies and then a second wife appears to claim her rights. Even while Celeste is coping with her house being ransacked, and trying to find her husband’s killer, she goes to help Katrina and her daughters.

Other interesting characters surface through the course of the story and the unknown woman and the killer turn out to be completely unexpected. The book is solidly written, the emotions are palpable and the ending is realistic and believable.

This book truly illustrates the saying, “What’s Done in the Dark, Will Come to Light.” This reviewer could not put it down.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Literary News 7/27

Karen Thomas, who helped found Kensington’s very successful African-American imprint Dafina, left the company earlier this month for a spot at another house, reportedly Hachette, though PW Daily was unable to confirm her new job this morning. Kensington president Steve Zacharius said he expects to announce a replacement for Thomas, who had been with Kensington for nine year, over the next couple of weeks.

This article originally appeared in the July 27, 2006 issue of PW Daily.

Has anyone heard where she went to?


This week we have two hot books to recommend for your summer reading.

The first is from our Featured Author this week - Leslie Haskin

Between Heaven And Ground Zero: One Woman’s Struggle for Survival And Faith in the Ashes of 9/11 by Leslie Haskin

Bethany House Publishers

Leslie Haskin's Memoirs of surviving 9/11


by Norma Jarrett

Harlem Moon/Broadway
Genre: Faith Based Fiction

Website: and

Blurb about the book:
From Norma Jarrett, author of the much loved SUNDAY BRUNCH, comes Essence magazine book club pick SWEET MAGNOLIA, an inspiring new novel about two sisters, Summer and Mia, each struggling with their own demons and trying to reconnect with each other and their God. The two sisters have never seen eye to eye, but when Mia gets into a terrible accident on a rain soaked night, they must both put their differences aside and try to remember the strength one finds in family. The accident will force the sisters to come to terms with some family secrets that have been hidden for far too long. As they each learn more about where they come from, Mia and Summer are also able to take a deeper look at who they are. A beautiful and spiritual tribute to New Orleans, as well as to the power of faith and family, Norma Jarrett’s SWEET MAGNOLIA is a wonderful second novel from a remarkable new talent.

Wouldn't you like to win a copy of these books. We have one of each for a lucky SORMAG reader.

All you have to do is leave a comment with your name and email address and your name goes in the hat for a chance to win.

Remember to check back to see if you are a winner.

Past winners: We need your mailing address

Linda H
Valerie Withers

Monday, July 24, 2006


SORMAG: Tell us about yourself and your life before September 11. Where had you been and where were you going with your life?

I started my career as a receptionist, set my sights on executive management and deliberately climbed the corporate ladder. On my way, I enjoyed the perks and gifts and all the power that came with each step. On September 11th, I was mid-way up with tunnel vision. My faith was in what my own hands could build and my hopes were on a vice presidency.

SORMAG: Why did you choose to write your story?

I really don’t it was a mindful decision or concerted effort to write a book. It was a response to my therapist and a result of what I believe was God’s leading in my heart.

SORMAG: What would you like readers to take from your story?

So much of my heart is in this book. I hope that readers find the message of God’s love and hope through whatever towers might be falling in their own lives. I know it’s hard to believe when things are not going well. It’s even harder to see past mountainous obstacles. The good news is that we don’t have to….we only need to stop trying. Hope is personal, but widespread!

SORMAG: Describe the events of September 11 up to the time right before you knew something terrible had happened. Was it just another normal day?

That particular day began normally…uneventfully. The day before was significant in that there was a lot more activity in our office than what was usual because of a problem with one of our major policyholders. In fact, that problem was the only reason I was in the office on September 11th.

SORMAG: On what floor, of which building, were you located and how and when did you know there was something dreadfully wrong?

My office was on the 36th floor of Tower One. I was standing in front of the window talking to my assistant. I understand that we were directly below the plane’s point of impact. We knew immediately that something was wrong because the sound of the initial impact was huge. The building swayed and rocked back and forth and never righted itself. The debris and bodies immediately begin falling outside of the windows and we had a clear view of that horrible sight. All of these things seemed to happen simultaneously. There was never any doubt or confusion that something was more than dreadfully wrong.

SORMAG: After you knew something had happened, what events transpired until you reached ground level?

Time stood still for me. So many things transpired and it’s too much to answer in this type of forum. What I can say is that, from the moment of impact, Tower One became a deadly war zone and everything that happens in war, happened inside the building.

SORMAG: What happened between the time you reached ground level and the time you made it home again?

So many atypical and horrific things took place that day. From the time that I left the building to the time that I came to myself the next day, I operated in a fog. There was no end to the constant replays of what I experienced or to the nightmares. My mind found the events too enormous to wrap my arms around and so I struggled just to keep breathing.

SORMAG: Like many of those who were in the World Trade Center towers on September 11, your life as you knew it ceased to exist after the tragedy. What was your life like for the first few months after the dust settled on that horrible tragedy?

I don’t remember much detail from those days immediately following. Ultimately, my family and I were financially, mentally and emotionally devastated. I lost my ability to provide for and support my children. I lost my home, my car and even my mind.

SORMAG: Much of Between Heaven and Ground Zero came directly from the journals you kept during your struggle to recover from severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. What can you tell us about the illness and your treatment?

Wow. From the scientific perspective, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a term for the psychological consequences of exposure to or confrontation with extremely stressful experiences, which involve threatened death. It affects one’s mental, emotional and even physical well-being. Each patient is different and needs different forms of treatment. I had migraines, trouble sleeping and other symptoms. My treatment involved intense therapy, prescription medications like sleeping pills, antidepressants, stabilizers and painkillers. My prognosis was not good.

SORMAG: What was the last book to keep you up at night reading it?

HASKIN: Easy one…. Charles Stanley “ A touch of His Freedom.”

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you?

Readers can get in touch with me through the B&B media group in Dallas Texas. I’d love to hear their stories!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006



This year we would like to offer paid critiques for those who registered for the conference.

All entries should be double spaced, 1-inch margins.
First page begins a third of the way down on fiction entries.

Fiction/nonfiction – First 15 pages - $35

Short Articles – Up to 1, 500 words - $35

Long Articles - Up to 2, 500 words - $40

Monday, July 17, 2006

FEATURED AUTHOR: Ann Christopher

SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Ann Christopher:
I’m a lifelong Cincinnatian, and I think everyone should visit our beautiful city and have some LaRosa’s pizza, Montgomery Inn ribs, and Graeter’s ice cream! After college and law school at the University of Cincinnati, I married one of my law school classmates and practiced law for several years—some litigation and a lot of divorce work. When my second child was born, I quit working to stay home with the kids. I always joke that practicing law was easier than raising kids full time, but I didn’t know that at the time, LOL. A year later I started writing romances. It took three-plus years to get an agent, and several months after I signed with her she sold my second completed manuscript, TROUBLE, in a two-book deal with Kensington/Dafina. I’ve also sold two books to Harlequin’s Kimani line, and the first of those will come out sometime next year.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

Here’s the premise: what would happen if two brothers fell in love with the same woman? Obviously, this would create a lot of tension over the turkey, sweet potatoes and macaroni and cheese at the Thanksgiving table. Would the hero be noble and loyal to his brother, or would love win in the end?

SORMAG: What would you like your readers to take away from your book?

I’m not sure I have any universal theme, other than the standard romance book theme, “love conquers all.” I do want readers to escape into the story, get to know several complex and, hopefully, interesting characters, have fun with them, cry a little with them, and see them overcome their problems and live happily ever after. Oh, and then there’s the sex, of course. LOL.

SORMAG: Do you ever have a hard time letting go of a character after the novel is finished?

Er … no. I lived with these characters for over three years while I wrote, re-wrote, and edited the dumb book. I joked in my blog that I often wished they’d all have a tragic car accident in chapter two and spare me from having to deal with them any more. So I was very glad to send them on their way and give them my best wishes for a long, happy, fruitful life together, somewhere far, far away from me. For the manuscript I just turned in to Kimani, JUST ABOUT SEX, which is about a sex therapist, my editor wanted me to write an epilogue, and I had a tough time getting back into those characters’ lives.

SORMAG: What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters?

A writer has to create well-rounded characters, and by that I mean that a writer has to show the good and the bad. Sure, the hero’s handsome, but is he quirky? Is he a little too cocky? Is he filled with self-doubt? What baggage does he have? Were his parents mean to him? These are the things that draw the reader in. I’m a reader, and I love to see how characters grow, change, and overcome their obstacles. Think about it: what could be more boring than a handsome, smart, nice, sexy man who’s kind to animals and is anxious to get married, who meets a woman with all those same qualities? There’d be NO sparks, no chemistry. What a dull book that would be! See? I’m getting sleepy just thinking about it!

SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?

Hmmm … this is one of those questions that’s not for me to answer. Readers should probably answer it. I can tell you what I’ve TRIED to do. I’ve tried to create a story that’s emotional, sexy, and funny.

SORMAG: What are you doing to promote your book?

A lot. Probably the biggest thing, besides maintaining my website and blog, was mailing bookmarks to bookstores and book clubs around the country.

SORMAG: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How hard and frustrating it could be. Transcribing the story from my brain onto paper was really difficult, even though I love to write. It’s hard to pick the right words, describe the scene, create sympathetic characters, create believable dialogue, etc., etc. Plus, there are many, many, many, many, many … well, you get the idea … setbacks on the road to publication. I think writing is really a journey of self-discovery. You have to dig deep inside yourself, work harder than you thought you could work, and think you CAN. You have to believe in yourself, even during those times when the words don’t want to come and believing in your writing ability seems like an idiotic thing to do. Aspiring authors: don’t give up. Like Winston Churchill said: “Never, never, never quit.”

SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?

Well, writing, of course, and reading whenever I can. I used to practice yoga, before my schedule went crazy, but I still exercise most days because it helps keep me sane.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

I love to hear from readers through my website at

EXCERPT: Trouble

By Ann Christopher

Attorney Mike Baldwin and his brother Sean both want the same woman: law student Dara Williams. Noble Mike decides not to pursue her, but when Dara begins an internship with his firm, his fierce passion for her turns into an undeniable obsession, and that can only lead to one thing...

Sean leaned closer and took a deep breath, as if to shore up his courage. “We need to talk.”
Dara didn’t need to be Perry Mason to see he was about to make some sort of declaration about his feelings, but one Baldwin brother per night was all she could handle. “Sean--” she began, alarmed.
“I’m crazy about you.” Hesitantly--nervously--he raised his hand and ran the backs of his fingers down her cheek; her instinct was to shake him off. Over Sean’s shoulder, ten feet away by the bar, she saw Mike staring at them, cold fury in his eyes. “I want to get to know you better. I want to take you to dinner tomorrow night.”
She fell back on the words she always used when a man she had no interest in tried to hit on her. “I don’t know what to say.”
“Just think about it.”
Unwillingly, her eyes flitted to Mike’s again. He stared at them, rigid and unmoving. Clearly he was jealous; he probably thought something was going on with her and Sean. She felt his unhappiness as if it was her own. And in that moment, she wanted to tell Sean no way--she could never care for him. But then she looked back at Sean, saw the absolute adoration in his eyes and realized she couldn’t tell him no. Not now, not in public. She would let him down gently, tomorrow. “Okay.”
From across the room Mike nursed his Coke, watched Sean and Dara in a frustrated rage and bided his time. He knew he should leave before he said or did something he’d regret--other than throwing himself at his brother’s girlfriend, of course--but he couldn’t take his eyes off them. Maybe if he stared at them together long enough, it would start to sink in.
Had Dara been toying with him? Laughing at him making a fool of himself when all the time she’d known he was Sean’s brother? He didn’t think so. Maybe his ego was way out of hand, but he still felt like he knew a little bit about women. He knew when a woman responded to him, and Dara had. So what did that mean? That she was just a slut who didn’t care how many men she slept with? Didn’t even care if they were brothers? That didn’t seem right, either. She didn’t seem like the free and easy type.
Without thinking, Mike followed Dara when she went to the bar. He slipped behind her and waited while she ordered a glass of merlot. When she turned around and saw him she froze abruptly in her tracks; the wine sloshed out of the glass, spilling over her fingers. He’d had no idea what he wanted to say, but then his mouth opened and the words came out. “Busy little thing, aren’t you?” he murmured, looking around to make sure no one overheard them.
Her eyes widened with outrage. “Excuse me?”
Suddenly it was imperative he hurt this woman and make her suffer the way he suffered. He couldn’t have her--Sean had gotten to her first--and he needed to punish her. Very deliberately he looked her up and down, letting his eyes linger on the delectable breasts he would never touch and the lips he would never taste. “Well, there’s me, there’s Sean . . . Anyone else?”
She flinched. “You--you think I sleep around?” Her voice sounded strangled.
The obvious pain in her eyes was strangely satisfying. He shrugged as if the matter held only a passing interest for him. “Don’t you?”
“No.” For a long moment she just stared at him, and in the dim lighting he could have sworn he saw tears shimmer in her eyes. But then she collected herself and her face hardened into stone. “Get away from me.”
The harshness in her voice smacked him like a slap across the face. Never in his life had he talked this way to a woman--not even Debbie--and suddenly he felt ashamed. His lips twisted into a crooked smile, and he bent from the waist in a mocking little bow. Then he turned and walked away, leaving her staring after him.
Determined to leave before he said or did anything worse, he stalked through the crowd to the foyer, ignoring a couple of people who spoke to him along the way. Forget this night, this party and his brother. Forget Dara. Forget his jacket, wherever he’d laid it--he could buy another one. He reached for the door.
“You leaving?”
Cursing to himself, Mike turned and saw Sean. He struggled to keep his turmoil off his face. “Yeah. Long night.”
Just then, Dara materialized from around the corner and marched toward the door. Something about the rigid set of her shoulders and unyielding line of her mouth reminded Mike of an armored tank. She fished in her purse, head down, and almost ran directly into Sean. Sean caught her by the shoulders and she looked up, startled. “You’re not leaving, are you?”
She nodded, pulling her keys from her purse. “It’s getting late and I’m a little tired.”
Sean reached up a solicitous hand to touch her chin, but she shrank away from him. “You do look a little strange.” He dropped his hand. “Are you getting sick?”
“No,” she said tightly. “Just tired.”
Sean looked at Mike. “Well, I’m glad you two got to meet. What did you think of her, man?”
Mike’s eyes flickered to Dara, then back to Sean. Above all else he did not want Sean to get hurt. He forced the edges of his mouth up into a lopsided smile. “She’s really something.”
Sean nodded, pleased. He turned back to Dara. “Let me walk you out.”
“Aren’t you taking her home?” Mike choked back the bile in his throat at the very thought, but he had to know. Had to.
Finally Dara looked him in the face. A wild light glittered in her eyes. For several long seconds, she stared at him with absolute revulsion, as if he was a moldy substance she’d discovered growing on top of the leftovers in her fridge. She was furious; that much was obvious. If she’d had a knife she’d have filleted him like a trout. And there was something else in her big baby browns, something that looked suspiciously like hurt. But then she abruptly turned to Sean and smiled at him, a glorious, breathtaking smile that felt like a knife directly to Mike’s gut. She slipped her arm through Sean’s and he stared dazedly but worshipfully down at her. “Let’s go.” Her voice had dropped to a sexy murmur. She turned and led Sean through the door.
Mike, sick with misery and fury, could only follow them down the long walk to the street. The night breeze felt cool and crisp, a refreshing change from the crowded air inside the house, but he barely noticed. His entire being focused on Dara’s hand touching Sean. Then Dara whispered something in Sean’s ear and they both laughed. Mike clenched his fists at his sides and resisted the urge to smash his hand through the windshield of an SUV parked at the curb.
It was apparently Dara’s car; Sean walked her around to the door. Mike started past the sickening little lovebirds, on his way to his own car. Dara glanced up, her glittering eyes bright and hard. “Good-night,” she said sweetly.
Mike grunted something--he had no idea what--in response and continued on his way. Dara’s clear voice rang through the night air behind him. “Dinner tomorrow?” Sean laughed and said something Mike couldn’t hear. A little voice told him to just walk the twenty or so more steps to his car and get away from her, but something made him slow down and look over his shoulder. And he saw Dara step into Sean’s arms, wrap her hands around his neck and pull his face down to hers.

Friday, July 14, 2006


Bag Lady – Alethea Pascascio

Faith Donnovann has a life that includes childhood drama and dysfunction. And at the age of 18, she leaves home with more than clothes in her baggage- some times, the invisible is far worse than the visible. As the novel progresses we go on a very dramatic life-changing journey with Faith, who enters a series of tumultuous relationships including one that almost kills her. Eventually, Faith and her life change for the better when she yearns for true love and lets go of the past through forgiveness. Her life then takes an unfamiliar turn down a path that leads to the type of man she once thought was a fairy tale- a good one. Meet Justin Herrera, a dashing Central American/Belizean- Faith’s knight in shining armor.

Thanks to all who left comments. Alethea is offering an autograph copy to the following:


Please send me your mailing addresses. -


Congrats to our first winner:


Send me your mailing address and I’ll send out your book.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

EXCERPT: F.R.I.E.N.D.S. & The Choices That We Make

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. & The Choices That We Make
By Valerie A. Withers

F.R.I.E.N.D.S. is a moving story about seven women that experience various challenges in their lives; infidelity, abusive relationships, family drama, death, and many other life adversities. It is a powerful testimony to the power & beauty of true friendship and a tribute for essence of woman truly blossoming through the turbulent moments of reality.

Chapter 5


“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has activated the ‘fasten your seat belt’ light. If you have not already done so, please fasten your seat belts as we prepare the cabin for landing. Please remain seated while the aircraft is making its final decent. The weather in sunny California is a beautiful eighty-five degrees. We hope that your ride was a pleasant one. We have enjoyed being your hosts for this flight. Please remain seated until the aircraft has taxied up to the gate, and has come to a complete stop. Once the captain has turned off the seat belt light, you will be safe to move about the aircraft. Items stored in the overhead compartments may have shifted during flight, so please be careful when opening the doors. When exiting the aircraft, please allow the handicapped, elderly, and any passengers with small children to exit first. Thank you for your cooperation. On behalf of our flight staff, we want to thank you for flying Air-T Trans, and you have a wonderful day.”

I am so glad this plane has landed. That was the worst flight I have ever been on in my life. There was turbulence the whole time. But thank God we made it in one piece. Here I am in Los Angeles for a high profile case that involves a double murder of two well-known priests. The two guys, who are being tried, are of course minorities. One is African American, and the other is Latino. I’m excited about covering this case because I think the exposure will do me good. I‘m planning on going back to school in the fall to further my studies on becoming a trial lawyer.
The case that I am going to be covering has been highly publicized over the last couple of months, and has drawn the attention of several influential civil rights activists. The judge presiding over the case, Judge Harrison, is an old college buddy of my boss, Judge McGraw. The District Attorney arguing the case is Clyde Morrison.

Side bar: He is a fyne looking brother. I read about him in the L.A. Times on the plane. Apparently, Judge Harrison’s regularly appointed court stenographer is out on maternity leave, and he does not have a replacement lined up. So my boss sent me to help him out. Hopefully I will get an opportunity to discuss my desire to become a trial lawyer with Mr. Morrison, a.k.a. Mr. Fyne, before the case is over.

3 ½ weeks later

My goodness Midway airport is extremely busy for a Wednesday morning. But even all of the hustle and bustle of this airport is not going to get me down. The trial has been postponed due to some new developments. So the proceedings have been delayed for approximately one month. Both parties need to go over these new developments.

I got an opportunity to watch Mr. Fyne, or shall I say Clyde, the District Attorney, in action. He insisted that I call him by his first name after the first couple of days. Truth be told, I think it was my long legs, and those short business suits that worked in my favor. He practically broke his neck giving me advice, and offering to take me out to dinner to further discuss my desire to become a trial lawyer. I’m learning a lot from him, so much so that I can’t wait to get back to hunting for a school. I think I’ll check my machine to see if Julian, that’s my man, got my message to pick me up at the airport.

“You have no messages”, the unknown Sprint lady announced. That’s strange. I called before I left LAX to tell him I was on my way home. He’s generally good about picking me up; maybe I should wait around a few more minutes just in case he’s on his way.

An hour later…

Ok, I guess I have no choice but to take a taxi to Julian’s place. He’s still not answering his cell phone, nor has he responded to any of my pages.

“Where to miss?” asks the taxi driver.
“I’m going to the south side, to Riverdale.”
I gave the driver the address, and then I laid my head back on the seat to rest my eyes. The traffic was heavy on I-55 as usual, and the ride took too long for my tastes. When the cab finally pulled up in front of Julian’s house, I was exhausted.
“Here we are miss, that’ll be $47.50,” the driver says. $47.50? That’s highway robbery!
“Thanks a lot. Keep the change.”
“Thank you miss. You have a nice day!”
I guess he will have a nice day since I gave him three twenty dollar bills. Now where is that key? As I opened the door, the quiet inside was deafening.
“Julian honey, are you home?”

No answer. Well, I think I’ll take a hot shower, and then slip into something a little more comfortable. Then think about what I can cook for a nice romantic dinner.

As I’m on my way to the bedroom, the phone rings. Should I answer it? No, I promised to respect my man’s privacy. Besides, he has an answering machine; it’ll catch the call.
The machine kicks in, “Hi, this is Julian, I’m not home. You know what to do at the tone. Peace.” Beep…

“Hi sweetie, it’s me. I was just calling to confirm our dinner date for tonight. I’ll be in and out of meetings for the rest of the afternoon, so leave me a message to let me know what time to meet you at the restaurant. Smooches.”
Clearly I must be hearing things. I know damn well I didn’t just hear another woman confirming plans with my man for dinner tonight. Maybe I should rewind that tape just to make sure I got my *bleep* straight. Beep….
“Hi sweetie, it’s me…”

Well I’ll be damned. That low down dirty…. Here I am breaking my neck to get back to Chicago, and he’s two timing me with another woman. Wait till I tell Synthia this *Bleep*. She won’t believe it. She has been on the ‘Julian band wagon’ ever since we got together. I’ve got to get out of here. No…. wait a minute. What the hell am I running for? I’m going to pour myself a nice cold glass of Chardonnay, and wait for his ass. I know it’s only ten o’clock in the freaking morning, but if I were out of the country, it would be 7:00 p.m. some damn where. Mr. Washington has some explaining to do.

Several hours later, I’m awakened by Julian’s keys in the door. “Ok girl, that’s him. Just stay calm Nina, and don’t go off. Be cool and try not to snap.”

“Nina baby, what a surprise! I thought you weren’t due back till tomorrow.”
“I got in this morning Julian. As a matter of fact, I called you from LAX to let you know when I was due in so you could pick me up from the airport.”
“Oh, baby I’m sorry. I don’t have my cell phone or pager. Jr. (that’s his son) and his friends decided to play cops and robbers, and now I can’t find them. I’m sorry baby, come here. I’ve missed you.” He tried to reach for my hand, but I was too fast for him.
“Is that right?” I asked rather sarcastically.
“Yeah baby, you say that like you don’t believe me. Is something wrong?”
“I don’t know Julian. Listen to your messages on your machine, then you tell me if something’s wrong.”

He pressed the message button on his machine, and the tape starts playing. Then the world stopped turning.

“Hi Sweetie, it’s me…”
“Baby let me explain. It’s not what you think.”
“Not what I think? Do you take me for some kind of fool or what?”
“No baby!”
“Then don’t bull*bleep* me Julian. Who the hell was that?”
“Baby, come over to the couch so we can sit down and talk, ok?”
“No I don’t want to go sit on no damn couch and talk! I want to stand right here, and listen to what you have to say.”
“That was my sister, Marilyn. We haven’t seen each other in a while, and I promised her that I would take her to dinner to catch up. And since you weren’t due back till tomorrow…”
“Then why did she refer to you as sweetie?”
“Because she’s older than I am Nina, and that’s the way she talks. She’s called me sweetie ever since we were kids. If you don’t believe me feel free to call her yourself. You’re the only woman I want to be with Nina. You know that.”
“I sure hope so. I’m sorry I over reacted, but that message didn’t sound like a sister leaving a message for her brother to me.”
“Listen, I don’t have *bleep* to hide Nina, and I don’t like the fact that my own woman doesn’t trust me!”

Here we go with the ‘lack of trust’ thing he always throws back in my face. Now the guilt is starting to set in.

“Look Julian, I’m sorry. It’s just that I had a long flight, and I was really looking forward to spending some quality time with you tonight. It’s not necessary for you to call your sister. Besides, I don’t want to look like a jealous girlfriend, seeing as I’ve never met your sister before.”

That’s my fault. I never pressed the issue of meeting his sister. I always knew he had one. She’s a half sister, but a sister none-the-less.

“You just misunderstood the message that’s all. And to tell you the truth, it’s kind of cool you can get so worked up. I was beginning to wonder if you still cared.”
“Julian you know that I care about you, and I love you baby. It’s just that when a woman has been away from her man for several weeks, and she comes home and hears another woman’s voice on her man’s machine, the first reaction is to hit the roof. You know if the shoe were on the other foot, you would have done the same thing.”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right. Listen, why don’t you join us. I have reservations at Lawry’s Steakhouse, and I’m sure it won’t be a problem getting an extra place setting.”
“No, I’m cool. I need to unpack, wash some clothes, and repack again. By that time, I will be ready for bed. You go on and have a good time with your sister. We can get together another time.”
“Ok, well give me a minute to get some papers out of my office, and then I’ll take you home. We cool?”
“Yeah, baby, we’re cool. I’m just a little jet lagged, that’s all.”

He gave me a kiss just to re-confirm everything was ok. I guess when my lips responded back that eased some of the tension. He must think I’m a basket case. It was an honest mistake, right? Girl, you need to get a grip and stop tripping. You have nothing to worry about. Your man loves you. I’ve really got to work on that paranoia *bleep*, or one of these days my relationship with my man is going to blow up in my face.

Monday, July 10, 2006


SORMAG: Please give the readers a brief bio on you the person and the writer.

Gwyneth Bolton:
I was born and raised in Paterson, New Jersey. I’ve been writing ever since I can remember. Writing is the one goal that has been a constant in my life. When I was in the eighth grade, I took part in an after school creative writing program. It was just a six-week program, but taking part in it made me dream even more of one day seeing my name in print. There weren’t a lot of other creative writing opportunities where I grew up, but I continued to write out my novels on three-hole-punch paper. In 1996 I won the College Language Association Margaret Walker Creative Writing Award for Playwriting for my one-act play, “I’m Every Sister.” I have dabbled in poetry, screenwriting, and playwriting but my heart belongs to fiction.

SORMAG: Tell us about your current book?

If Only You Knew is the sensuous, emotional, and drama-filled story of Latonya Stevens and Carlton Harrington III. He is Millionaire's Row and so alpha he makes jungle lions look tame. She is Overtown row houses and lives to annoy arrogant men who think they can boss people around. Despite their differences in social standing and upbringing, they have one similarity that is detrimental to happily-ever-after. Because of what they witnessed as children with their own parents, they don’t trust relationships or love to last. They spend their time together waiting for it to come to an end. It is their shared fear of trusting matters of the heart that stands in the way of them finding true love.

SORMAG: Do you ever have a hard time letting go of a character after the novel is finished?

Yes I do. It’s so weird to talk about. But my characters usually come to me in my dreams and they usually come with a force until I start writing their stories. For example, I didn’t set out writing this book. I had finished my first novel, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me, and wanted to get started writing the connecting story to it, Sweet Sensation (which will be out in March 2007). I started the writing and this character, Carlton, the hero from If Only You Knew, started invading my dreams. He was such a strong alpha-male type character that I was like, “No way, dude. I’m a feminist. I can’t write your story. Sorry.” But being the strong alpha-male that he was, he wouldn’t give up. So I figured I’d write a little of it to get it out of my way. I ended up writing the entire thing. Sometimes the characters from a finished novel will come back in a dream. It’s funny because they’ll have me rewriting their stories in my head and sometimes I just get a glimpse of what they’re doing after “the end.” Sometimes I just don’t want to say goodbye. So, I’m happy when they come back for a visit. But I think it’s really just my overactive imagination. Because I sometimes have dreams about the characters in other folk’s books and rewrite the stories of novels I’ve read and television shows or movies. But we won’t even go there…

SORMAG: What do you feel is the key to writing convincing characters?

Opening up a vein and letting it flow. I find that I have to tap into my emotions big time to bring the kind of emotional intensity I want to my characters. Even though I may not have experienced what they are going through, I need to tap the space in myself that can best relate and let the emotions flow from me to them. The other advice I got at a writer’s workshop once was to love your characters and then put them through hell. I loved the advice because you really have to find something to love in the characters in order to make the readers love them and you have to take them through something to keep the reader turning the pages.

SORMAG: What makes your writing style unique?

I honestly don’t know. This is only my second released book. So, it’s hard to say what my style is or if I have one. This book is also a little different from my first novel, I’m Gonna Make You Love Me. And it is really very different from my December 2006 release, Divine Destiny, which will be my first paranormal erotic romance. I read a lot and I read a variety of different genres. If I were pressed to find something unique about my writing, it would be that I really try to take readers through a range of emotions. I want them to laugh, get angry, maybe shed a tear, and feel the passion. And maybe there’s a little bit of drama thrown in for good measure. At the end of the novel, I want readers to have that satisfying sigh moment that readers get when they have finished a book they’ve enjoyed. I don’t think that I’m the only writer that does this so it isn’t something that is unique to me.

SORMAG: What are you doing to promote your book?

I’m promoting the book on various websites such as Shades of Romance and I have also done a mass mailing of cute little postcards with the book cover on them. I’ve done interviews whenever and wherever I can. At this point, since I have several novels coming out this year and next, I’m really just trying to get the word out about Gwyneth Bolton the romance author and trying to build a reader base.

SORMAG: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Just the joy I get when I get an email from someone who has read my book and enjoyed it. When readers connect with the words I wrote enough to sit down and write me and email or go to my website and sign my guest book, that is just always a surprise, a pleasant surprise. I still get all giddy and can’t believe it. Having readers connect like that blows my mind. As a writer, I thought no experience could match getting the call from an editor saying I want to publish your work. But getting a note from a reader who read my book and loved it is right up there with that experience. I’ve decided that my new favorite thing is checking my email and getting a note from readers.

SORMAG: What do you do to make time for yourself?

Read. I admit that I have a serious reading addiction. (The first step is admitting you have a problem, right.) Whenever I need “me time” I take a moment and just read book after book after book. With all the wonderful novels coming out these days it’s really easy to take this kind of “me time,” a lot. I have to make sure that I write just as much as I read now. But I’m still finding time to just sit, chill and read.

SORMAG: How can readers get in contact with you? (mail, email, website)

Readers can contact me via email at or snail-mail at P.O. Box 9388 Carousel CTR, Syracuse, NY 13290-9381. They can also visit my website

EXCERPT: If Only You Knew

If Only You Knew
By Gwyneth Bolton

Chapter One

“Hey, beautiful.”
Latonya Stevens glanced up from the papers on her desk. Smiling, she tilted her head and batted her eyes playfully at her co-worker.

Jeff Weatherby leaned against the entryway to her office wearing a designer suit and a smile that could best be described as sexy with a little mischief thrown in for good measure. His tall, lean, muscular build, along with his Hollywood heartthrob looks and boyish charm made him almost irresistible. And he knew it. Observing the player-on-the-prowl gleam in his eyes, Latonya thanked God she had developed immunity to smooth-talking playboys ever since the first one, her father, broke her heart.
Jeff loosened his tie as he stepped into the office and took a seat. “So, beautiful, how about you come to Soka’s with us for happy hour. It’s Friday and it’s time to get ready for the weekend.” His piercing cobalt blue eyes glimmered as he spoke. He casually leaned back in the chair.
Watching as he made himself comfortable, Latonya admired his easy, laid-back nature. She figured that it must have been nice to let go and not have to worry about anything but working and partying hard, sometimes in that order.
Unfortunately, she had too many responsibilities to test the lifestyle Jeff seemed to promote so wholeheartedly.
“Thanks for the invite, but I have to get a head start on next week’s projects.” She stood up and stretched, moving her neck and head in a circular motion.
“You know what they say about all work...” Jeff ran his fingers through black hair that would put male shampoo commercial models out of business and let his words linger.
“I know. I’m dull.” Latonya finished his sentence as she sat back down in her seat. She didn’t need anyone to tell her that she didn’t have a social life. She couldn’t remember ever having one. And given the amount of responsibilities she now had, she doubted she’d be getting one anytime soon.
She’d started working for Harrington Enterprise’s Miami offices fresh out of her MBA program full of energy and hope. The company exported cement and refined petroleum products from the Bahamas and imported crude oil from the States into the Bahamas. At 24-years-old, the job with the Fortune 500 company allowed her to remain at home and help out her family in a stressful time: her grandmother—who had single-handedly raised Latonya and her sister—had had a stroke.
She’d needed a job that would allow her to take over the mortgage payments on the small two-bedroom home where she’d spent most of her life and pay the part of her sister’s tuition that wasn’t covered by scholarships. The entry-level position at Harrington had barely allowed her to make ends meet when she combined those responsibilities with her own student loan debt, but she was getting by.
Jeff smiled as he stood up, slinging his suit jacket over his shoulder. “You’re not dull, beautiful. Just a little uptight that’s all. But I intend to make it my business to loosen you up. You work too hard. You need to learn how to relax and I’m just the man to show you how.” He winked at her.
Tilting her head, Latonya squinted and pursed her lips. “I’ll tell you what, when I have time for a social life you will be the first person I call. How about that?” She knew she would never take him up on his offer. Flirting was fun, but it didn’t pay the bills.
“That sounds like a plan to me, beautiful. I’ll see you on Monday. That is unless you want to give me a call later and hang out this weekend. Let’s say Saturday night. You, me, a little dinner—“
“I’ll see you on Monday, Weatherby. Now go and party or whatever it is you guys do on a Friday night. I have work to do.”
“Right. Catch you later, beautiful.” Jeff gave her one last wink as he strolled from the office.

* * *

I’ll tell you what, when I have time for a social life you will be the first person I call. How about that?
Carlton Harrington III let the words linger in his mind as he continued down the hallway. He hadn’t meant to listen in on the conversation between Jeff and Latonya. He’d simply been walking by her office when he heard a sound that he seldom had the pleasure of hearing from her. Laughter.
Had he known that he would become automatically irritated by what he heard, maybe he would have kept walking.
As he made his way through the fairly empty corridors of Harrington Enterprise, two of his employees stopped him.
“Hey, Mr. Harrington, would you like to come to Soka’s with us? A few of us hang out there on Friday’s to unwind after a long week.”
Carlton glanced up and noticed Stan Carter and Juan Esperanzo standing in front of the elevator. Before he could answer Stan’s inquiry, Juan spoke.
“Hey, Jeff, is she coming?”
Carlton turned and saw Jeff Weatherby trotting down the hall.
“No, she’s not coming. She has work to do,” Jeff responded.
Carlton expelled a breath of air he didn’t even know he was holding as he moved to face Stan and Juan.
“I told you she wasn’t going to come. Face it, man, your skills are lost on this one. That’s a serious sistah and she is not checking for you, Jeff. Give it up.” Stan let out a chuckle as he pressed the button for the elevator. He turned to face Carlton. “So would you like to come hang out?”
Carlton considered it briefly and decided to decline the outing with his employees. He already had plans to meet up with friends at Soka’s later. “No, I’ll take a rain check this time,” he responded.
The elevator came and the trio of men stepped on.
“Just so you know, Ms. Latonya Stevens will be mine by the end of the year. I’m wearing her down. She won’t be able to resist much longer. I can already see that she is falling for me—“ Jeff’s words and Stan and Juan’s laughter were cut off by the elevator.
Like hell! Carlton thought as he listened to Jeff’s boasting. Shocked that he even cared what went on between Jeff and Latonya Stevens, Carlton continued on to the copy room. He had to make a copy of the Biltmore account and fax it over to the Bahamas office.
It was hard to imagine that the small storefront business his great-great-grandfather had started back when he first settled in Miami from the Bahamas had become a huge import-export business. The company dealt mostly in cement and oil refining. Harrington Enterprise had two large main offices: one in Miami and the other in the city of Nassau in the Bahamas. They also had several satellite offices throughout the Caribbean.
As the sheets filtered though the copy machine, Carlton noticed that several key pieces of information were missing. He would have to go back to his office and add the information before faxing the report over. This meant he would be late meeting his friends.
On his way back down the hall, he stopped at Latonya Stevens’s door. He couldn’t figure out what it was about the woman that triggered the uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, but he hoped he knew enough to stay away from her. He realized that if he had any sense he wouldn’t have been standing in front of her door.
He was about to turn away when she looked up from the paperwork on her desk. His stomach turned over and he almost smiled back. However, the look on her face turned quickly into a frown when she saw him standing there. Before he could talk any sense into himself, his feet were heading directly into her office.

Latonya gritted her teeth. After weeks of managing to avoid prolonged contact with Carlton Harrington III, he’d just come barging into her office. When she heard footsteps in the hallway, she thought it might have been Jeff Weatherby coming back to try and convince her to come with them to Soka’s again. Flirting playboys, she could handle. Brooding, sexy bosses, she needed help with. Her immunity to men didn’t seem to work at all with Carlton.
She had been with Harrington Enterprise for almost a year when the boss’s grandson, Carlton Harrington III, had temporarily taken over her division. He had just returned from heading up an expansion project that pushed the Bahamas and Miami-based company further into the Caribbean and seemed intent on making changes and making his mark.
The first Monday that she worked with Carlton she realized that she had several reasons to be nervous. The most unsettling were his ruggedly handsome looks and the powerful sensuality that she swore dripped from his pores. She had never seen a man so fine in all her life. His custom-made business suits, starched-shirts and silk ties draped his perfect form in a manner that proved the man made the clothes. She couldn’t imagine any other man exuding a tenth of the cool, suave, confidence he did in those suits.
The perfect combination of smooth deep dark chocolate with just barely a hint of milk, he had broad shoulders and well-defined muscles. Two words described his lips: highly kissable. His lush lips appeared soft to the touch. Although he never smiled at her, when she saw him smile at others, she had to admit that the perfect teeth along with those lips made for one delightful grin.
His eyes called to mind deep, dark, pools of water; they were liquid fire and full of expression. The only problem was, from the time he first laid eyes on her, she felt as if all his eyes could express were irritation and dissatisfaction. His perfectly squared jaw-line and sweet lips were always set in a frown whenever Latonya entered the room. She couldn’t seem to do anything right for the grumpy man. He never managed more than grunts toward her, but with others he seemed cordial, even friendly. She told herself by the end of their first week working together that she really could not stand the man, no matter how handsome he was.
If only that were true. Honestly, for the first time in her young life she found herself intensely attracted to a man. She got heart palpitations whenever she was in the same room with him. She had to think of increasingly creative ways to maintain a façade of calm.
Finishing up a report that wasn’t due until the following week, she tried to still her rapidly beating heart at the sight of Carlton. Everyone else had long since clocked out, but she was staying late as she usually did, going above and beyond the call of duty because she needed to get a promotion.
“What the hell do you call this?” Carlton threw several pages held together by a gold paper clip onto her desk.
She watched the papers fall onto the desk and took several breaths to compose herself before she picked them up. Before responding to the rude and insufferable man, Latonya noted that it wasn’t even her report. She peered up at him and blinked, startled by how handsome he managed to look even when brooding. She squinted, took a deep breath, and reminded herself that the man was her boss.
She pursed her lips a moment and then spoke, trying to keep the sarcasm out of her voice. “This is Jeff Weatherby’s report on the Biltmore project.”
The scowl on his face told her right away that she’d sounded sarcastic anyway. Sighing, she reasoned her long week—the younger Harrington had been the biggest contributor to its length—was almost over.
His eyes narrowed in on her. “No kidding! I know what it is. I want to know why it’s incomplete!”
“Did you ask Jeff?” Latonya’s sarcasm refused to be contained.
“I’m asking you.”
“Well, I don’t know.” Shut up while you still have a job, girl! She never listened to her inner voice when she should.
“Get him on the phone and ask him.”
She took a deep breath, rolled her eyes, and picked up the phone. She knew Jeff wasn’t home. Rather than telling Harrington, she looked up the number and dialed it, anyway. When Jeff didn’t answer, she left a detailed message, and then turned to face Carlton. Her pleasant smile dropped as soon as she noticed him glaring at her as if she were the bane of his existence.
His right eyebrow slanted and a smirk spread across his face. “Since you can’t get in touch with Weatherby, you can fill in the missing facts. I need this before the end of the evening.”
“What? It’s not my report! Why should I have to spend my Friday night finishing Jeff’s work?” All false pleasantries fell from her face and her voice.
“It shouldn’t be that much of a problem. You are familiar with the ins and outs of the project aren’t you? You should be. There is no reason why you can’t go through the files and data and finish this report within a few hours.”
“What if I have plans, Mr. Harrington?” She had no personal plans, but she did need to relieve her grandmother’s home health aide.
“Cancel them. I’d like that report in a couple of hours.” Turning, he walked briskly away.
Watching his retreating back, she cursed herself for noticing how his muscles filled out the silk shirt he wore. To her, Carlton Harrington III was simply an insensitive jerk—albeit an extremely fine insensitive jerk—that she would have to learn how to work with until, God-willing, he got sent off on some other plush assignment. He wasn’t even her real boss. He was just filling in until the company decided on a replacement for the former head of the marketing department. Latonya hoped, perhaps unrealistically, that even though she hadn’t been with the company long, she would be considered for the position. However, her on-going battle with the younger Harrington, made that seem less and less like an attainable dream.
Latonya angrily added the missing information and printed out a new report within an hour. Because of her desire and pressing needs to rise quickly in the company, she was on top of all of her projects and the projects of her co-workers.
Without bothering to knock, she walked into the Carlton’s office, dropped the report on his desk, and didn’t wait for his response. The ogre looked up from his computer and his gaze narrowed in on her, but she refused to acknowledge his glare. With briefcase and purse in hand, she headed to the elevator and left the building before saying or doing anything that would put her job in jeopardy.
Copyright Harlequin Books

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Summer Sale

The Story Sensei Summer Sale - A writers' summer event!

From now until July 15th, I will be holding a fabulous contest for my Story Sensei critique service.

I will draw the names of TWO lucky winners! They will each receive:

A free synopsis critique – up to 10 pages single-spaced, a $40 value!


A coupon for 25% OFF any manuscript critique – whether full or partial manuscript, any number of words. For a 100,000 word manuscript, that's a savings of $250!

In addition, EVERYONE WHO ENTERS will receive a 10% OFF coupon for any service, whether synopsis, query letter, or manuscript critique (full or partial). For a 100,000 word manuscript, that's a savings of $100, just for entering.

Go to my Story Sensei blog and post a comment to enter the contest!

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