From one unexpected twist to another you fall deeper and deeper into this intriguing romantic crime thriller from Linda Lee Greene. The cast of characters are strong and compelling. This is a book you definitely want to read.
Was it chance or destiny’s hand behind a man and a woman’s curious encounter at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas? The cards fold, their hearts open, and a match strikes, flames that sizzle their hearts and souls. Can they have the moon and the stars, too? Or is she too dangerous? Is he? Can their love withstand betrayal? Can it endure murder?
While the cards at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas fail to distract them from their troubled pasts, on the side, the actress and the gambler play a game of ‘will they won’t they’ romance. Meanwhile, an otherworldly hand also has a big stake in the game. Unexpected secrets unfold brimming with dangerous consequences, and finally, a strange brand of salvation.
Amid the seductions of Las Vegas, Nevada and an idyllic coffee plantation on Hawai’i’s Big Island, a sextet of opposites converge within a shared fate: a glamorous movie-star courting distractions from her troubled past; her shell-shocked bodyguards clutching handholds out of their hardscrabble lives; a dropout Hawaiian nuclear physicist gambling his way back home; a Navajo rancher seeking cleansing for harming Mother Earth; and from its lofty perch, the Hawaiian’s guardian spirit conjured as his pet raven, conducting this symphony of soul odysseys.
The Cast of Characters
Actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms escapes the shadow of her mother’s gruesome murder and the relentless demands of Hollywood and loses herself in the cards at Las Vegas casinos. But like hounds on the scent, the scandal tracks her. And true to her history, it shows up in the person of dashing Hawaiian gambler, Koa Kalua’i. Neither of them are strangers at taking risks and too often losing. Will they win in their chance at the moon this time?
In Hawaiian cosmology, Aumakuas are guardian spirits whom many believe to manifest in physical form. Koa Kalua’i knows the tenet to be true, because Raven has not only been his winged-pet since the earliest days of his childhood on his family’s coffee plantation on Hawaii’s Big Island, but also his Aumakua. They make a remarkable pair, dedicated to righting wrongs.
Born and raised in Las Vegas, and orphaned as little kids, twin brothers Nicholas and Tobias Plato grew up tough but tenderhearted, qualities they put to use as actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms’ bodyguards. Who knew that Nicholas would play such a pivotal role in Olivia’s life: her most trusted friend and guardian, and in the end, her savior?
Navajo rancher and computer geek, Sam Whitehorse uncovers a secret, terrorist stockpile of materiel burrowed in the side of one his people’s sacred mountains in Nevada. It is a threat that he and Las Vegas gambler, Koa Kalua’i must expose and eliminate, but potential government involvement in the matter complicates such an offensive. And why does actress, Olivia Montoyo Simms insert herself into the whole affair?
Multi-award-winning author and artist Linda Lee Greene describes her life as a telescope that when trained on her past reveals how each piece of it, whether good or bad or in-between, was necessary in the unfoldment of her fine art and literary paths.
Greene moved from farm-girl to city-girl; dance instructor to wife, mother, and homemaker; divorcee to single-working-mom and adult-college-student; and interior designer to multi-award-winning artist and author, essayist, and blogger, it was decades of challenging life experiences and debilitating, chronic illness that gave birth to her dormant flair for art and writing. Greene was three days shy of her fifty-seventh birthday when her creative spirit took a strong hold.
She found her way to her lonely easel soon thereafter. Since then Greene has accepted commissions and displayed her artwork in shows and galleries in and around the USA. She is also a member of artist and writer associations.
Our friend Ann Druetzler is an amazing cook who creates delicious recipes with just a few ingredients. Her easy Tomato Tart is just one example. Your guests will love this appetizer. Be sure to include this recipe in your summer meal plan. Add a salad, crusty roll, and crisp white wine for a complete lunch or dinner.
ANN’S FRESH TOMATO TART
1 frozen deep-dish pie crust
1½ cups mozzarella cheese, grated
4 – 5 Roma tomatoes
¾ cup fresh basil, snipped
4 cloves garlic, chopped fine
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup asiago or Romano cheese, grated
¼ tsp. white pepper*
Preheat oven to 375° F.
Place a cookie sheet in the oven to heat.
Use a fork to poke a few small holes on the bottom and sides of the pie shell. Place shell on hot cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes. You only want to set the shell so it’s not soggy when you add the filling.
Remove just the shell, not the cookie sheet. It needs to stay hot. Sprinkle ½ cup mozzarella across shell bottom.
Cut tomatoes into thin wedges, scoop away loose seeds and gel. Lay wedges over cheese in a tight pattern of your choice.
Combine all remaining ingredients in a small bowl. be sure to include the remaining mozzarella. Spread mixture evenly over tomatoes.
Bake tart for 30 minutes or until it starts to brown and bubble.
Allow to cool a minute or two and then cut into slices to serve.
*No need to buy white pepper if you don’t have it. White pepper is stronger than black so use a little more black pepper to gain the same result.
I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. The last vehicle I bought came after my mechanic pointed at my ancient Geo Prism and ordered me to drive it one last time.
“Take it to a dealership and turn it in,” he advised. “Get a new car!”
The day I abandoned my Prism in a dealer’s parking lot, I found a vehicle that spoke to me. It was a black Ford Ranger pickup. Slightly used – I think I read 14 thousand miles on the speedometer. Black paint sparkled in the Arizona sun. I drove it around the block.
“That’s the one,” I said to my sweetie pie, who’d accompanied me on my car hunt. Following what felt like half a day of paperwork, I drove my new truck home.
Later, I stood proudly by my recent purchase. My mother squinted at the pickup’s bed where I’d installed a bright silver toolbox to hold my rock collecting gear, camping equipment, and emergency rations on the off chance I might find myself stuck in the wilderness for any length of time.
She stared at me. “Aren’t you afraid of what people will think of you?”
“I am a black pickup kind of girl, Mom.”
She shook her head.
My truck is now going on 19. I love my old truck. We share lots of memories: good, bad, and ugly. Together we’ve had countless adventures into the mountains and deserts, some wondrous, some difficult, and a few rather dangerous, in retrospect. Still, we always made it home. Eventually.
Then, my parents, in their nineties, mercifully decided to give up their car. I had been begging them for years to stop driving. Anyone who’s butted up against that major-life decision understands the complexities inherent in taking the keys away from mom and dad.
“We’ll sell the car,” my mother finally announced.
That vehicle, a blue 2010 Ford Fusion, now sits in my driveway. Though my mom continues to tell anyone who will listen that I took the car, Ryan and I wrote them a check for a little over seven grand.
A funny thing happened when I started driving the Fusion. I liked the built-in bells and whistles. Note that the vehicle is not high end, but compared to my truck, the little car is like owning a rocket ship. We call her Zippy. Now, when I drive my pickup, it feels only slightly more mobile than a covered wagon.
Then I got a letter in the mail: AIRBAG RECALL! I stared at the red triangle depicting a driver facing a steering wheel that had burst into flames. I read the section that said, “Until parts are available …your dealer is authorized to provide you with a rental vehicle.”
Today, a 2018 Ford Fusion Platinum sits in my driveway. The car boasts a power tilt/telescoping steering column with memory, dual integrated bright exhaust, premium leather-wrapped and stitched instrument panel and console rails, and myriad other extras I couldn’t possibly explain. The overall effect is…well…Wow!
I’ve had the rental for several months. It seems Ford is having a great deal of trouble getting the parts to fix the airbag that might explode and shred me with shrapnel. Apparently, 37 million vehicles have been identified as needing the fix, and more are expected to be added to the list. Takata, the maker of the defective airbags, announced it might take five years to install all the replacements.
I wonder sometimes, especially when those comfy leather seats are hugging me in their soft embrace, when I will have to return my pretty sedan. Neither Ford nor the rental company seem to care that the $40,000 vehicle is occupying space in my driveway day after day.
I have never cared much about cars. Never understood why people spend so much to get the newest, fastest, sleekest version with the most gadgets. Until now.
Perhaps Ford will forget about my cute little rental. I've grown quite fond of her.
Here is a brief intro to my novel dealing with abuse and it's aftermath. I hope you'll take a moment to peek into it.
Two Arizona teens find their fates intertwined. Are there any adults they can trust? Can they even trust each other?
Rose Madsen will do anything to keep from being married off to one of the men in her Fundamentalist Mormon (FLDS) community, even endure the continued beatings and abuse of her mother. But when her mentally handicapped baby sister is forced to strangle the bird she loves at the behest of the Prophet, Rose frees the bird and runs away.
Adan Reyes will do anything to escape the abusive foster care system in Phoenix, even leaving his good friends and successful high school athletic career behind him. Ill-prepared for surviving the desert, Adan hits the road only to suffer heat stroke. Found by a local handyman, he catches a glimpse of a mysterious girl—Rose—running through town, and follows her into the mountains where they are both tracked and discovered by the men of the FLDS community.
With their fates now intertwined, can Rose and Adan escape the systems locking them into lives of abuse? Will Rose be forced to marry the Prophet, a man her father's age, and be one of dozens of wives, perpetually pregnant, with no hope for an education? Will Adan be returned to the foster home where bullying and cruelty are common? Is everyone they meet determined to keep them right where they belong or are some adults worthy of their trust?
Anne Montgomery has worked as a television sportscaster, newspaper and magazine writer, teacher, amateur baseball umpire, and high school football referee. She worked at WRBL‐TV in Columbus, Georgia, WROC‐TV in Rochester, New York, KTSP‐TV in Phoenix, Arizona, ESPN in Bristol, Connecticut, where she anchored the Emmy and ACE award‐winning SportsCenter, and ASPN-TV as the studio host for the NBA’s Phoenix Suns. Montgomery has been a freelance and staff writer for six publications, writing sports, features, movie reviews, and archeological pieces.
When she can, Anne indulges in her passions: rock collecting, scuba diving, football refereeing, and playing her guitar.
1 ripe avocado
1 large ripe banana
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
2 tbsp. cold water
Put ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.
Spoon mixture into 4 small dishes or glasses.
Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
You can add your sprinkles of choice on top, e.g. coconut or chopped nuts or whatever teases your taste buds.
How about a little from my latest psychological fiction while you're waiting for your mousse to chill?
Gillian Roth finds herself in middle age, living alone, working in a dull job, with few friends and little excitement in her life. So far, so ordinary.
But Gillian has one extraordinary problem.
Her house is full of other people… people who don’t exist. Or do they?
As her surreal home life spirals out of control, Gillian determines to find out the truth and undertakes an investigation into the nature of reality itself.
Will this provide an answer to her dilemma, or will the escalating situation push her over the edge before she has worked out what is really going on?
Thursday, 26th March, 2015.
My house is filled with people who don’t exist.
They have no substance. They are neither alive nor dead. They aren’t hosts or spirits. They aren’t in any way shape or form here, but I can see them, and now I need to make a record of how they came to be under my roof.
Why now? Why today? Because we line in strange times, and today is one of the strangest days this year; this is the day that Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England, was interred in Leicester Cathedral, with all due ceremony, 530 years after he was slain at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. How surreal is that? I watched the highlights on Channel 4 earlier. A couple of my house guests sat with me and together we marveled at the event. They did Richard proud, no doubt of that.
I left them to it after a while and came up here to my bedroom to start writing a diary: this diary.
Life feels unreal today, as if time has looped back onto photo albums. The house clearly passed must itself and everything is happening now. And if I can set my thoughts down on paper, perhaps I can make sense of everything, make it all real somehow.
Where did it start, this thing that has happened to me? A couple of years ago? I can’t say when. It evolved without my conscious input. The existence of my house guests was a fact long before I began to wonder at it. I do wonder at it now and I know I must keep track of what’s happening before I lose myself in this crowd of imaginary beings.
At first there was only a few of them, and I observed their doings without much concern. I watched them snooping around the place, choosing the most comfortable chairs to sit in, leaning against the furniture, inspecting the bookcases, checking the kitchen utensils, and peering into my photo albums. The house clearly passed muster and they stayed. In time, they knew me down to the marrow. I have never known them as well as they know me. They have an air of mystery, as though they have a life outside my house they will never divulge. Even so, I felt I was safe with them and I could tell them my problems. Tell them what no-one else must ever hear. And so these shades thickened, quickened; their personalities accumulated depth and solidity, as though they were skeletons clothing themselves in flesh.
I no longer came home to a cold, empty house, but to a sanctuary where attentive friends awaited my return. I was embraced by their jovial welcome when I stepped through the door. I never knew which of them would be there, but one or two at least would always be waiting to greet me, anxious to hear about my day and make me feel wanted, and for a while I could forget the problems I have at work (even the one that bothers me the most). Since then I have felt a subtle change.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. I really need this to be a faithful account of the entire situation from start to finish, so I have to try to work out how it all began, even if I’m not sure when.
If I cast my mind back, it floats like a lantern through a city cloaked in fog. I must try to isolate the shadowy figures that flit up at me out of the murk. So, let’s begin with the friend I remember first. I was cooking my evening meal. My mind wandered. I remember feeling sad. And there she stood, at my right elbow, peering into the saucepan.
“Watch you don’t burn that,” she said.
I don’t have names for my imaginary friends, just titles, so I call her Kitchen Girl. She’s dark-haired with porcelain skin, and she’s tall and voluptuous. The sort of woman I’d like to be except I’m small with red hair and a ruddy complexion, and I need chicken fillets to convince people I’m female.
I suppose Kitchen Girl is rather daunting, with those fierce blue eyes and no-nonsense approach to everything. I can stand up to her though. I use humour as my weapon of choice and she appreciates wit and banter. I’d like it if she didn’t nag so much, if I’m honest (“Use less salt... keep stirring... is that all you’re going to eat?”) but, criticism aside, I know she’ll compliment me on the finished product as it lies uneaten between us on the table. Long conversations back and forth have been played out while the meals go cold on their plates. Fried eggs congeal and go waxen. Ice cream melts into a tepid sludge. Sandwiches curl up with embarrassment to be so spurned. You know how it is when you get gossiping. Someone wants to talk to me and that’s better than food.
And sometimes, it’s curious, but it’s Kitchen Girl who cooks the food and serves it to me like a waitress. She likes to surprise me with new dishes.
I have no idea how this happens.
Nor why she never leaves the kitchen. But I wish she’d do the washing up now and then.
Born in Stafford in the UK, Carol Browne was raised in Crewe, Cheshire, which she thinks of as her home town. Interested in reading and writing at an early age, Carol pursued her passions at Nottingham University and was awarded an honours degree in English Language and Literature. Now living and working in the Cambridgeshire countryside, Carol writes both fiction and non-fiction.
Sloane invited me to her virtual kitchen today to share a clean, healthy dessert. Are you expecting twigs covered in carob? I won’t say I haven’t had yummy carob desserts, but I have serious chocolate on my mind.
Do you think you aren't allowed to have chocolate pecan cheesecake? Not. True. You can have these. They’re also gluten-free.
One way you stay in balance while eating this treat is that they are decadent and you likely will not eat more than two.
Chocolate Pecan Cheesecake Popper
½ cup organic cream cheese, softened
2 tbsp. organic unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. organic raw pecans, ground, and another tbsp. for sprinkling on top
Mix all but the final tablespoon of pecans together (by hand works fine) in a mixing bowl until the cream cheese and cocoa powder are smooth and creamy.
Put the mixture in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
Sprinkle your hands with water, then shape ½ tbsp. of the mixture at a time into balls.
Garnish with the ground pecans you held in reserve.
Keep refrigerated until party time.
Easy, creamy, deep chocolate flavor. That’s what I call holistic!
Here's a peek into my fantasy romance where dreams and psychic connections become reality. This is the first book in the series. I hope you enjoy it.
Single mom Dana Carapelli wakes up in a parallel world called the Dreaming for the first time the night before she meets a handsome rancher. Soon after she wakes into the Dreaming again and finds that she is on his ranch. He knows all about the Dreaming because he wakes up there every time he falls asleep. When he tests their telepathy link she passes, plunging her into a psychic link with him. He admits that he has been promised a perfect partner for him and his teenage son, but doesn’t know if it’s her. Family and friends caution her to take it slow and that’s without her telling them what she knows will make them sound crazy. Joe is everything her dead husband wasn’t. What if it’s her turn to be happy? What if it’s real?
Start the journey into this fantasy romance today!
Gina Briganti is an RWA member who writes fantasy and sci-fi romance in north Texas.
She also writes holistic health non-fiction because real life can be magic, too. Her credentials in holistic health include certification as a Reiki Master Practitioner and teacher, certification as a nutrition consultant, and a degree in holistic nutrition.
When she's not writing, eating delicious healthy food, reading (follow her on Goodreads to see the massive variety she finds appealing) or making videos, she is spending time with family and friends. Her constant companion is a special soul who masquerades as a dog.
Hoarding is a clinical disorder that affects 5% of the population. It tends to start when the person is 12 to 13 years old, often after a loss—death of a loved one, parents’ divorce, or losing cherished possessions in a fire, flood, or hurricane. It has a genetic component. That is it tends to run in families. It also has a neurobiological basis. It has been found that there are abnormalities of certain brain structures (areas of the brain). These brain structures are involved in decision making, attention, organization, and regulation of emotions. Their impairment of functioning is evidenced in emotional responses, thinking, and behaviors that are different from people who do not have a hoarding disorder.
In addition to their compulsive hoarding disorder, 25% of people will have co-existing illnesses such as depression and anxiety. In addition, people with hoarding disorder often experience problems with planning ahead, making decisions, and having an unrealistic desire for everything to be perfect.
Symptoms of hoarding include:
• Experiencing severe anxiety over the thought of discarding possessions because the saved items give them a sense of security
• Buying or saving things that are unnecessary, worthless, or useless
• Accumulating huge amounts of objects that have little or no value such as old magazines, telephone books, clothing, shoes, hats, bottles, boxes, and empty food containers
• Having numerous animals such as cats that they cannot care for
• Inability to organize space for items—hoarded items take over space needed for activities of normal living
The effects of hoarding can be severe and often affect family relationships, work, health, and everyday life activities such as cooking, shopping, sports, and having friends, children or grandchildren visit.
Hoarding disorder often results in:
• Crowded, dangerous (risk of fires or falls), and unsanitary living conditions including the presence of vermin and mold that may endanger the person’s health
• Loss of a cooking space, eating area, and living room, bedroom, halls, closets, basement, garage, porches, and yard due to accumulations of hoarded items
• Family conflicts and isolation from loved ones
• Inability to perform work as expected
• Financial problems related to compulsive purchasing of unneeded objects or the care of an accumulation of a large number of pets
• Legal problems such as threats of eviction.
What you can do to help:
• Encourage them to seek professional help
• Suggest self-help groups such as Clutterers Anonymous
• After treatment, help them with their belongings if they ask for help. Remember that many feel great anxiety if anyone touches their things
• Remember that hoarding is an illness like other illnesses such as diabetes or kidney disease,
• Don’t remove things without their permission
• Don’t expect perfection or constancy
My novel, The Gift of Love, is a story of hoarding and the perils of the disorder. I hope it helps you understand the problem so many people must face.
Laurel, a 26-year-old slightly impulsive pediatric nurse learned her survival skills through early years in foster care. Her life dream is to provide a home for six abandoned children. But, before she can do anything about the dream, she must sell the huge old house her adoptive parents left her. She must sell it before she falls even deeper into debt. To put it on the market, requires tackling the escalating compulsive hoarding of her reclusive half-sister who lives with her. Paper of all kinds is filling the rooms and hallways of the house. She has tried reasoning, nagging, and threatening. Now in desperation, she borrows from her Union’s Retirement Fund to go to a conference on the latest treatments for Compulsive Hoarding.
Andrew, a 39-year-old psychiatrist, is never impulsive. A reticent, somewhat austere man, he limits his interactions with people to his work. His life is strictly planned and modelled on the life of his grandfather who was one of hundreds of orphaned boys raised by Father Baker. Despite the scorn of his father, an entrepreneurial plastic surgeon, he prefers to practice psychiatry in the underserved communities of Buffalo, New York. Being handed Jamie, the mute two-year-old grandson of his father’s second wife, as he is about to leave for the conference where he has agreed to fill in for a colleague is definitely not part of his life plan.
When they first meet, a series of unfortunate events cause Laurel to view Andrew as arrogant, rude, but disturbingly attractive and Andrew to view Laurel as a dangerous distraction to be avoided. Faced with a crisis, they are forced to work together, but will they be able to put aside their protective armor and trust each other enough to let love in?
Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.
As a seventeen year old student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met a Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and forced population exchanges. After they married and moved to Buffalo, Eris worked as a nurse at Children’s Hospital and at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
After taking time off to raise five children and amassing rejection letters for her short stories, Eris earned her master’s degree in Psychiatric Nursing at the University at Buffalo. Later, she taught psychiatric nursing at the University and wrote a textbook for psychiatric nurse practitioners—a wonderful rewarding but never to be repeated experience.
Eris now writes novels, usually international, contemporary romances. Her interest in history and her experience in psychiatry often play a part in her stories. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Western New York Romance Writers. In addition to writing, Eris’s interests include: Prevention of Psychiatric Disorders; Eradicating Honor Killings, supporting the Crossroads Springs Orphanage in Kenya for children orphaned by AIDS, and learning more about Turkey, Cyprus, and Kurdistan.