Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Bad Boy of Butterfly Harbor by Anna J. Stewart (my review)




My Review

This is the second book that I have read by this author and she has quickly become one of my favorites.
I loved this book and following the story of Luke and Holly.  Luke is coming back to town after a terrible accident that happened there.   Holly has to come to terms with Luke being back, and all of the bad memories it is bringing back to the surface.  All of the characters in this book are great.  The story kept my interest and actually towards the end I was literally on the edge of my seat.   I could not read fast enough to find out what was going to happen. 
This book is heartwarming.  It’s about forgiveness, trust, honor, respect, acceptance and love.  I highly recommend this book and cannot wait to read the next installment to find out what happens with some of the other characters. This book gets 5***** from this reviewer.
I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Diana Nixon New Book Covers for 2016 Louise Book II and Shattered


LOUISE
BOOK II
A NEW BEGINNING
By DIANA NIXON
COMING FEBRUARY 2016
Blurb:
Life is not always easy. Especially when you are in love with the man whose life is so much different from yours. Power, money, respect – these are the things that a girl raised in an orphanage can only dream about. But sometimes, love is the only power that you need to get whatever you wish for…
Louise Woods had always been a fighter. She had known since childhood that everything has a price. But freedom was the only thing that she could never have.
Living in a world of lies and betrayal, will she sacrifice her love to become finally free?
Or will she let her heart win?
A new journey full of passion and forbidden dreams; it’s a new dance, it’s a new life.
“We will start it all from the very beginning, from the very first kiss…”

Official page: www.diana-nixon.com


SHATTERED
By DIANA NIXON
COMING JANUARY 2016
Blurb:
It was love at first sight; a story that was supposed to last forever. A young heart that had never known true love, and a lonely soul seeking something real. I was that soul, and Elizabeth Brown was my beautiful heart, innocent and full of lawless passion.  She made me believe that love can change anything. And it did change me… It broke me, it shattered me.
The betrayal that I never saw coming, was like a dagger straight through my heart. In the blink of an eye, my love was replaced by endless hate and pain that I thought I would never be able to forget.
But who would have thought that even bleeding hearts can love? Who would have believed that in eyes with no hope, a new fire can start burning?
“I will make her fall for me again. And then, I will ruin her, just like she ruined me…”
Official page: www.diana-nixon.com

Saturday, August 22, 2015

The Boys Club by Angie Martin book blitz



Book Description:
Growing up a homeless juvenile delinquent left its mark on Gabriel Logan. He lived a throwaway existence until a former FBI agent recruited him for a fringe organization for boys like him, ones who could operate outside the law for the sake of justice. As an adult, he sets an example for the others and is slated to take over their group, until his work results in the murder of his pregnant wife.
Going through the motions of everyday life, Logan does only what’s required of him with one goal in mind: kill Hugh Langston, the man responsible for his wife’s death. When he’s handed the opportunity to bring Langston down, he jumps at the chance, but the job will challenge him more than anything in the past. Not only does he have to save Langston’s daughter from her father’s hit list, but the job seems to have come to them a little too easily. Logan must find a way to not only rescue the one woman who can take down his biggest enemy, but also look into the men he trusts most to discover which one of them is betraying The Boys Club.

Purchase Link:


Monday, August 10, 2015

Here Comes Trouble by Anna J. Stewart (my review)



My Review

This is the first book that I have read by this author and I became an instant fan!  I absolutely loved this book.  This is the second in a series but I didn’t have any trouble at all figuring out the pieces.  (I did buy book 1 immediately after reading this one though just because I have to know how it all started.)

The characters were amazing; all of them.  The author writes so that I felt as if I was right there with them, a part of the family.  I loved following the story of Sheila healing, and that Malcolm had a big part in that.  I loved those two together.  This is a book that had me feeling lots of emotions…happy, sad, tenderness, anger, suspense, funny…it was just fantastic. 

I can’t wait to read book 1 in this series, Asking For Troubl
e and then I can’t wait until the third book comes out.  If you’re looking for a good read with all the right stuff in it, you can’t go wrong with this author.  She is a favorite of mine, that’s for sure!

I highly recommend this book and it gets 5***** from
 me all the way around.  I received a free copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Fairyproof by Constance Phillips hosted by N K Author Services



Fairyproof
by Constance Phillips
Genre: Romantic Fantasy


After her parent's death and an unwanted proposal, fairy Monique seeks refuge in the human world, even though her brother has warned her of the dangers. She believes Hiding will be a breeze. She can control any human with a flirtatious smile and an attraction spell. Until she meets Daniel Elliot, the only human who's immune to both.

My Review

This was a really great book. I was instantly drawn into the story and it kept my attention throughout.   I loved following the story of Monique and Daniel.  My heart went out to Monique from the very beginning.  But I found myself rooting for Monique and Daniel pretty quickly.  I loved following their story.  All the characters in the book were great. 

The author has written in such a way that keeps your attention.  I look forward to the next book in this series.  I give this book 5***** all the way around.  It was a great read and I definitely recommend it.



Constance Phillips lives in Ohio with her husband, daughter, and four canine kids where she writes contemporary romance novels and paranormal romance novels.
When not writing stories of finding and rediscovering love, Constance and her husband spend the hours planning a cross-country motorcycle trip for the not-so-distant future…if they can find a sidecar big enough for the pups.

Author Media Links






Thursday, July 9, 2015

The Last Legacy by Taylor Lavati hosted by N K Author Services


The Last Legacy
by Taylor Lavati
Genre: Dystopia/Romance



My Review

Wow, what an awesome book!  I don’t even know where to start!  First of all, everything that I have read by this author has been great!  This book was intense in a very good way. 

I was hooked from the very beginning all the way through.  This author knows how to write and get her readers attention.   This is a story of survival with a new adversity around every corner.  You will be following the story of Jim and Lana almost as if you were right there with them.  At least that’s how it was for me.

I loved this book and I give it 5***** all the way around.   I can’t wait to see what this author has for us next.  Oh and I highly recommend this book to lovers of this genre.  Even if you’re not into zombies, end of the world type books I think you will be hooked just like I was.

Disaster strikes North America, leaving people without the most basic amenities. Lana is taken from her home and forced to accept a world full of infected, violent beings. Life as humans know it is over, and in its place is a constant fear of death, paranoia, and savagery. 

The mission in this new world is simple: survive. But survival comes at a cost few can 
bear. 

As Lana and Jim find more survivors, new threats surface, their past decisions haunting them as they pass through abandoned towns. Armed with nothing but the pack on her back and a long-handled knife, Lana fears whether or not they'll make it to their destination--or if she'll perish along the way.


Taylor Lavati is a twenty three year old student residing in a small town in Connecticut with her husband and flat-coated retriever. She enjoys writing books that are unique with dynamic characters. She writes both Young Adult and New Adult with ranging genres from fantasy to dark romance. 

Author Media Links
Twitter: @taylorjlavati





Sunday, June 28, 2015

For the Love of Ash by Taylor Lavati hosted by N K Author Services


My Review

This was a really great book.  The characters were great and I easily connected with them.  Maggie, basically taking on the role of a single mom by raising her little brother, after their parents died, was someone I could relate to.  Luke was fantastic and Asher was great as well.  The only thing is that I was in a hurry when I read this book.  So I will probably read it again at a slower pace.  I’m sure I missed some parts, but it was really really good.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

I recommend this book and it gets 5***** from this reviewer.

For the Love of Ash
by Taylor Lavati
Genre: Contemporary Romance



Maggie Larken is a reformed party girl. After her parent’s death, she’s left to raise Asher, her nine-year-old brother. 

Luke Wilson has done everything his parents have ever asked of him. A new teacher, Luke constantly questions where his life is headed. 

When Luke and Maggie meet, neither is in the market for a relationship. But sometimes life has other plans. Both navigate new waters as they try to decide where their priorities should lie, while also seizing what they want. 

In this heartbreakingly real tale of love, Maggie and Luke discover what being a family truly means. 


Taylor Lavati is a twenty three year old student residing in a small town in Connecticut with her husband and flat-coated retriever. She enjoys writing books that are unique with dynamic characters. She writes both Young Adult and New Adult with ranging genres from fantasy to dark romance. 
Author Media Links
Twitter: @taylorjlavati


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Scornful Sadie by Felicia Tatum hosted by N K Author Serivices


My Review

Can I just say, Wow?!  I have read some really awesome books lately and here is another one!  It drew me from the very beginning and kept my attention throughout the whole thing.

The characters were super, I really enjoyed reading about them and it was an all around super great book.  I highly recommend this book and it gets 5***** from this reviewer.

Scornful Sadie
by Felicia Tatum
Genre: NA Fantasy


A war is brewing...

Heartbroken and lost, Sadie left her family when she was only sixteen to fight evil. Years of searching out and destroying the vermin of the supernatural world have left her ruthless and jadedand powerful.

Sadie’s success has made her a target, and a series of cryptic warnings leaves her questioning what is being asked of her. But nothing in her past has prepared her for the obstacles she now faces in trying to rid the world of a resurrected evil that no one saw coming.

She finally comes home for the chance to re-discover her first love, Aiden. Does she have the power to restore Aiden’s memories and hold on to her love for him, while battling for humanity—and her life?




BIO: Felicia Tatum was born and raised in Tennessee. She always loved reading, and at the age of twelve began writing. Her passion for creating stories grew and in May 2012, she finally wrote her first novel, The White Aura.

She still lives in Tennessee with her daughter and her kitty. She loves cooking, books, and animals are some of her best friends. She watches a lot of Disney channel and often dreams up new book ideas. She's currently working on various projects. She's the author of the White Aura series, Scarred Hearts series, and Intoxicating Passion series.





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Twins of Aurora by Magen McMinimy hosted by N K Author Services


My Review

I absolutely loved this book!  It took me on a magical journey that captured me from page one and still has my heart…even though I finished it quite a while ago.  This is one of those books that just kind of stays with you.  It was that good.  If you like fantasy then you will love this book just as I did. 

The characters, the creatures, the places…everything, made this a perfect fantasy book.  Fantasy is my favorite genre and this is one of the best I have read in a while.
I am not going to give away any information about the book except that it is wonderful and you have to read it.  I highly recommend this book and it gets 5***** all the way around from this reviewer.  

Twins of Aurora
by Magen McMinimy
Genre: NA Fantasy Romance


Amazon   
B&N UK    


Life seems relatively normal for eighteen-year-old Avalina, who spends most of her time hanging out with her outspoken best friend, Jess, her twin brother, Aiden, and his best friend, Nick. Avalina fights against the overwhelming crush she has on Nick, harassment from her cruel ex-boyfriend, and an over protective brother while trying to make it through her senior year of high school.
Their lives are forever changed when the mysterious Araios, who looks remarkably like Nick, appears at a party in their sleepy little town in Northern Idaho. Araios holds secrets Avalina has long forgotten, secrets of a past based in a world of magic, mythical creatures and a royal lineage.
Follow the group of friends as they travel through this thrilling new world while Avalina learns to control the magic she needs to save everyone from the darkness that threatens to destroy Aurora and all who live within it. 


Magen started writing as a hobby. Having been one of those people obsessed with the world of the paranormal for as long as she can remember, she loves creating her own worlds for readers to get lost in. She see’s life as a constant balance of what we want and what we need. A balance  that we all have to create in our own way.
“Life is a constant balance of what we want and what that balance in her love of writing and cherishes every minute she’s fortunate enough chase her dreams. We need. It's also a lot like a Battle. A battle that we all have to fight our own way. I chose to try and love and cherish every minute that I get to chase my crazy dreams and create a world and characters to get lost in.”
Author Media Links

Magen@MagenMcMinimy.com






Monday, June 22, 2015

Scales A Falling In Deep Collection Novella by Pauline Creeden hosted by N K Author Service


My Review

I knew that I would love this book as soon as I saw the author, but when I realized it was about a mermaid....there was no doubt it would go down as an awesome read.  That is exactly what it was.

  We got to see into the daily life of Verona living in exile.  My heart went out to her but yet Bailey seemed to give some hope to the situation Verona was in.  I don’t want to give away any of the story as it is a short novella, but it was so good.  I flew through the book and the end…oh my goodness!  I just can’t wait to find out what happens next.

I highly recommend this book and it gets 5***** from this reviewer all the way around.

Scales
A Falling In Deep Collection Novella
by Pauline Creeden
Genre: Mermaid Fantasy



Verona is a bottom feeder. She is the one mer in her clan who is considered the ugliest and least intelligent. Growing up with the constant bullying and abuse wasn’t the worst of what her kind had in store for her. At seventeen years old, she must now endure “The Reckoning.”

The scales will measure her worth to her clan. Will she endure thirty days as a land-walker to gather information and knowledge to appease her clan and return a valued member? Will she wait three years, until she is twenty, and find a mer of her kind to accept her and marry her? Or will she suffer exile for the rest of her life?






Pauline Creeden is an award-winning author, horse trainer, and overall book ninja. She becomes the main character in each of her stories, and because she has ADD, she will get bored if she pretends to be one person for too long.

Armored Hearts, her joint effort with author Melissa Turner Lee, has been awarded the Crowned Heart for Excellence by InDtale Magazine. It is also the 2013 Book Junkie's Choice Winner in Historical Fiction. Her debut novel, Sanctuary, won 1st Place Christian YA Title 2013 Dante Rosetti Award and 2014 Reader's Choice Gold Award for Best YA Horror Novel.
Author Media Links




Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wingless by Taylor Lavati hosted by N K Author Services


Wingless
by Taylor Lavati
Genre: YA Fantasy


My Review

I just need to say that I absolutely loved this book!!  I literally did not put it down; it went with me everywhere I went.  The storyline was fantastic, the characters were awesome!  I love YA books and this is definitely going down as a favorite.  I cannot wait to read more about Micha and Annie in the next book. 

The story moved quickly and there was never a part where I was not dying to know what was going to happen next.  This author is amazing and I am an official true fan.  Plus reading about demons and angels always fascinates me.  The way the storyline was put together was genius. 

I highly recommend this to lovers of YA books and it gets 5***** from this reviewer without a doubt.


When Annie’s wings failed to form on her sixteenth birthday, she was banished to Earth, a life-altering reality that forced her to adapt to a new race, new world, and new challenges. Armed with little knowledge, Annie descends to her new home and learns of other half-angels, those who pull her into a world of demon-fighting chaos. 

As an Archer, Micha watches over Earth from the Veil. Sent to help Annie adjust, he finds himself drawn to her long after his orders have dissipated, and when her ruthless demon-killing ways reach an extremity he can’t ignore, he finds himself questioning the very core of his upbringing: will he turn his back on the angels and save Annie, or will he remain hidden within the shadows and watch her die?


Taylor Lavati is a twenty three year old student residing in a small town in Connecticut with her husband and flat-coated retriever. She enjoys writing books that are unique with dynamic characters. She writes both Young Adult and New Adult with ranging genres from fantasy to dark romance. 
Author Media Links
Twitter: @taylorjlavati






Sunday, June 14, 2015

Falling Fast by Tina Wainscott hosted by N K Author Services


Falling Fast
by Tina Wainscott
Genre: Contemporary Romance


My Review

This was a really great book about two people who fell in love quickly when they were younger.  There was a tragedy and they lost touch for many years.  Raleigh and Mia meet up again at her grandmother’s funeral.  There is obviously still sparks between them.  Although Mia forgives Raleigh, he goes through the majority of the book unable to forgive himself.

I loved following the story of these two.  I read the book pretty quickly because I just had to find out if they made it back to one another.  It was a great story of love, heartache, some mystery and really pulled me in.  I felt for the characters almost as if I was right there with them. 

Overall this was a great book and it gets 5***** from this reviewer.  I highly recommend this book if you are a lover of second chances at love.

Amazon CA

Race car mechanic Raleigh West works day and night, trying to put his broken past—and the girl who’d grown far more than a summer romance—out of mind. It’s been seven years since the fiery crash that landed her in the hospital . . . and him in jail. In an instant, he lost his passion for racing, the only girl he loved, and all hope of escaping his white-trash legacy. Raleigh hasn’t seen her since that awful night. Never got a chance to apologize. And never forgave himself.
When brave, beautiful Mia Wentworth returns to the Florida coast for her grandmother’s funeral, she can feel Raleigh’s presence like a gust of wind that gives her goose bumps. Opening her heart to him again seems impossible. But staying away? That might be harder still.


Tina Wainscott is the USA Today bestselling author of over thirty books with romantic thrills and suspenseful chills. A happy ending is a must, but the road to it is full of  ravines and shaky bridges. In her Random House FALLING series, each couple must overcome rocky pasts to find love. In her Justiss Alliance series, five Navy SEALs take the fall for a covert mission gone wrong and join a private agency that exacts justice outside the law. www.tinawainscott.com
As Jaime Rush, Tina is the author of the Hidden series, featuring humans with the essence of dragons, angels, and magic, and the award-winning Offspring series, about psychic abilities and government conspiracies. www.jaimerush.com.


EXCERPT FOR FALLING FAST- Tina Wainscott

Prologue


Seven years ago
Dear Journal,
Here I am again in this nothing little coastal town, not even a Starbucks or a decent Wi-Fi. We usually spend a week visiting Grandma, but this year it’s the whole summer while Dad consults on a dredging project.
If I were like normal seventeen-year-olds, I’d be missing my friends. Only it’s hard to have friends when you’ve spent half your life in and out of the hospital, having to explain why you’re bald and why you’ve been out of school for chunks of time. They either feel sorry for you or drift away because they don’t know how to relate to you anymore. I understand, because I can’t relate to them, either. It’s hard to sympathize with someone over a bad hair day or getting grounded when you see how insignificant it is in the big scheme of life. Besides, who wants to be friends with someone who might die, right? I should know. I’ve lost a few friends I met at the hospital, and it’s heartbreaking.
So, yeah, I’m not normal. But I just passed the two-year mark after my last chemo, so I am officially cured!
As long as it doesn’t come back. Damn, I hate how that phrase rolls right into my mind. But I still have nightmares about Dr. Cane walking in with that somber expression, and me with that  sinking feeling while all I can think is NO, NO, NOT AGAIN!
Okay, so forget that. I’m cured. PERIOD. I feel like I should be celebrating. There’s this pressure to squeeze every ounce of life from every minute, but the super-secret truth is, I just want to stay in my cocoon and be safe and comfortable.
Being in Chambliss is both, but I’m totally bored. Most of the beaches are really small and covered in environmentally protected sea grasses or mangrove forests, so the area isn’t developed or touristy. Grandma’s neighborhood is a bunch of scrubland lots, with a scattering of older cottages on the Gulf. I don’t know anyone, and I’m not good at striking up conversations. It’s easier in the hospital, because you have something in common: “What d’ya got?” Then you trade initials, like my ARMS, or AML or Wilms’ tumor, and then comes the long words the letters stand for. And the war stories. Chemo, throwing up, the way the foods you love smell horrible. Yeah, fun stuff, but it bonds you.
Today Mom’s dropping me off at the garage so I can pick up the Lexus that was getting fixed. I finally garnered enough pity for her to let me drive the car to the public beach, where I might actually meet kids my own age. Alone. So excited!! I’ve resolved that I will initiate a conversation with at least one person today. So nervous!!
OMG. So Mom drops me off, right? I make her leave instead of going in with me. It’s Saturday, so the garage isn’t officially open. But the owner assured her that the mechanic who uses the shop in the off hours will give me the keys and the paperwork. When I walk to the open bays, I see muscular legs coming from beneath a supremely hot, souped-up car. I should have noticed the car first, though I’m not really a car girl. I’ve never considered myself to be boy crazy, either. But those legs, bouncing to the beat of the rock song blaring on the radio, are what snagged my attention.
What the heck? I enjoy the view, lightly dusted legs with fair hair. Runner’s legs. Finally, I feel guilty and a bit voyeuristic, so I try to get his attention. Clearing my throat doesn’t do a bit of good over the music. I think about touching that thigh, where the muscles tighten with his movements. Stroking my fingers down the hairs that look silky soft. But, of course, I don’t! I’ve never even kissed a guy. I could tap his beat-up sneakers, I suppose, but even that’s more touching than I can consider.
Finally, I kneel down and catch his profile. Strong nose and chin. Nice mouth, pursed as he jerks on a wrench that’s clearly not moving a bolt. Eyebrows furrowed in complete concentration. Yeah, I could stay there forever, too. But he must catch my movement, because he looks over and says,“Oh. Hey,” then pushes out on one of those mechanic’s skateboard-like things.
My heart does this crazy bumping thing. He’s probably just a little older than me, by the six o’clock shadow along his jawline and chin. And tall, over six feet, wearing a tight black T-shirt that shows off broad shoulders. And gorgeous. Eyes as blue as the afternoon sky, you know, when there’s a storm that makes it dark and scary. And light brown hair with just a hint of red that’s a few months overdue for a haircut. For a second, or however many I’m standing there taking him in, I swear he’s doing the same to me as he wipes his hands. He cracks a smile, and OMG . . . just OMG.
“You must be Mia Wentworth,” he says. “Here for the Lexus, right?”
I actually cannot talk for a second. So embarrassing. I do nod, so I’m not a total loser. But I don’t want him to just hand me the key and shoo me off. He’s the conversation I’m going to initiate today. I look at the car. It’s a Camaro, with a big spoiler and red paint that glitters when the light hits it a certain way. So I chat him up on the car. It’s his. He tells me he’s doing this and that, things I have no idea about but sound fast. Then, with this secret smile, he admits he races it. There’s a group of teens who race on weekend nights. Different places every time, so the cops don’t catch on. He does this kind of work for them, too, whenever they can scrape up the dough. That’s how he said it: “dough.” So sexy, with his deep, husky voice. He’s not nervous or trying to impress me, just casual and . . . cool.
Oh, and his name is Raleigh. Like the city in North Carolina, he says, adding that he doesn’t know why his mom chose it, since she died when he was five. His dad’s killed too many brain cells to remember the inspiration. Raleigh tells me this like it’s no big deal, yet I have a feeling he doesn’t just tell everyone.
Raleigh. I love that name, but I simply say that I like it. It’s different. Staying cool, right? Then he invites me to watch a race sometime. He winks and suggests that I can be his pit crew, cheer him on. Like he probably doesn’t have a dozen girls who happily do that already.
I know I can’t possibly watch an illegal race at midnight. Not with my parents’ permission, anyway. But I say, “Sure, I’d love to,” because my heart is racing, for sure, at the thought. He smiles like he’s looking forward to it. And I know he’s trouble. Big, crazy, scary trouble. And for the first time I want—no, CRAVE—that trouble. I crave the way he’s taking me in—a quick sweep of my body in my tank top and shorts, flip-flops with the plastic gems encrusted on the straps. and the toenails I’ve taken great pains to paint. He meets my eyes and smiles in a soft, intimate way. Yep, biiiig trouble.
He doesn’t know I’ve spent seven years of my life fighting cancer. That my short hair is not a fashion statement. Or a choice. The way he looks at me, as though I’m beautiful and healthy, makes me feel like I’ve never been sick a day in my life. He’s trouble, all right. And I don’t give a damn.

Chapter 1


Present day
Raleigh West washed the grease off his hands. Not the way he usually did, with the soap that erased it completely, but enough to get the slickness off. He still had another hour or two dyno-tuning the black Corvette in the garage. The customer autocross raced it, and Raleigh promised it would be sexed up by the weekend.
He glanced up as Paxton Sullivan sauntered into the garage in his officer’s uniform. Pax didn’t usually come by when he was on duty. Of course, he always looked a little “off-duty,” with his wavy hair a tad too long and his lazy smile a little too laid-back for a cop. Raleigh was surprised he’d lasted this long.
“Sweet ride.” Pax traced the flames decaling and flashed a predatory smile. “Anyone I need to keep an eye out for?”
Raleigh planted his hand on the car’s roof. “Calm down there, siren boy. Customer’s a fifty-year-old banker from Alabama.”
Pax grinned in approval. “Alabama, eh? Word’s getting out about you. A-stounding. Now that the garage is for sale, you can make Hardcore Edge a full-time gig instead of skulking around at night like a chop-shop operator.”
“If I could get the bank to give me a loan so I can buy this place. Have an extra forty grand I can borrow?”
Pax gave him a regretful smile. “Wish I did, man. All my spare change goes into reopening the speedway. You are gonna race when we open, right? You’re just shitting me about not running, ’cause I know you want to.”
Hell, yeah, Raleigh wanted to race. “I’ve outgrown the need for speed.”
“That’s a big load of bull. You didn’t buy that ’Cuda just ’cause you look purty in it.”
“I bought the car because it looked purty,” Raleigh said, imitating him. He’d tried hard to eradicate his southern accent. Pax, from more money than he came from, could afford to keep it without being judged as white trash.
Pax dug into his pocket and tossed something to Raleigh. Reflexively, he snapped it out of the air, eyeing the key in his palm. “What’s this?”
“Key to the gate at the track. Do your tuning there.”
Raleigh curled his hand around the key’s jagged edge. “Trying to tempt me? Figure once I’m there I won’t be able to resist running?”
Pax gave him the conspiratorial wink he used when they’d been planning some misadventure or another. “I’m countin’ on it. We have rules and regulations. No drinking. No screwing around. It’ll be like the good ole days, only better.” The good old days, when they were wild, young, and free. Before the crash that shattered Mia’s life and landed him in jail. “And safer.”
“I’m not afraid to crash again.” It went deeper than that. “Look, I’d better get back to work.”
Pax flattened his hands on the car’s roof. “I got some bad news, Raleigh. Nancy passed last night.”
Raleigh’s heart thudded painfully. “How?”
“She was eighty-two. Her doc thinks her heart probably just stopped tickin’.”
Raleigh fought the tingle in his eyes by jabbing his fingers into them. “I know she was older, but she was feisty. Full of life.” He never thought about her dying, even though she talked about it. And she was so damned nonchalant, too.
“She bought a plot at the Chambliss cemetery,” Pax said. “The funeral will be here. I bet she’ll come down for that.”
Pax was talking about Mia. Mia, here. Raleigh didn’t think his heart could beat any slower after hearing about Nancy, but apparently it could. He fought not to close his eyes and sink into the bittersweet ache Mia’s name evoked. What would she look like now? She’d be twenty-four. Grown up.
“Thanks for letting me know,” Raleigh said.
Pax patted Raleigh’s arm and headed out. Raleigh stared off into the dark long after Pax’s taillights disappeared into the night. Twin emotions battled inside him. Nancy gone. The woman who’d been like a grandmother, when she should have hated him the way Mia’s parents did.
Nancy wrote to him shortly after his incarceration, giving him an update on Mia and assuring him that she would survive. Nancy figured Raleigh must be frantic not knowing how she was. Both the update and the kindness behind it brought tears to his eyes.
His thank-you letter had started a continuous correspondence that made all those days and weeks and months tolerable. News of Mia’s treatments, her progress, her victories. After his release, she invited him over for a home-cooked meal. That was when he noticed the loose boards on her front steps, the latticework that needed staining. He’d volunteered to fix them. They shared another meal when he had. He spotted more things that needed fixing. And, over time, they’d become friends and, in a way, family. Better than any family he had. She had fed him pictures and news about Mia over the years. Not many pictures, and most of them dimly lit or long-distance shots—the only ones Mia would allow, apparently.
Mia had finished high school with private tutoring as she’d healed, though she’d managed to walk across the stage. Raleigh had pretended mild interest in Mia’s life, but Nancy probably saw the way he devoured every tidbit.
Now she was gone. His friend. Surrogate grandmother. Link to Mia.
Then there was the other emotion fighting for dominance inside him: hope, with a heavy dose of fear. Seeing Mia would be heartbreaking in a different way. How scarred would she be? How angry at him still? He could remember the pain in her voice during the one phone call they’d had since the accident. She’d barely given him a chance to say how sorry he was for letting her ride with him that night. Sure, she’d wanted to, but he should have said no.
He couldn’t refuse Mia anything, with her hunger for speed and life and him. He’d been as intoxicated by her as she was with him. Speed had nothing on the way she made him feel, how she felt in his arms, and the way she’d come alive beneath his touch. They’d been in love the way only a seventeen-year-old and a nineteen–year-old could be—fully, recklessly, unwilling to think about the thirteen hundred miles they lived apart, the million miles of social class between them.
After the call, he’d sent a couple of letters, needing to say that he was sorry. Still no response. Nancy suspected that Mia’s parents were intercepting them. He’d even joined Facebook, something he had no other use for, just to see if he could find her on there. No luck. So he’d settled for Nancy’s updates.
He headed over to the  ’vette, but work wasn’t in him now. He closed everything up, parked the car outside beneath the metal roof he’d installed out back, and got into his 1970 Barracuda. The engine rumbled like a caged tiger. Giving in and buying a muscle car—not a good idea, especially with the new 4bb carburetor that bumped the horsepower to over three hundred. It whispered to him, wanted to lure him into jamming his foot down on the gas pedal.
He needed to drive by Nancy’s cottage one more time. Maybe sit out on the deck and remember the times they had shared lasagna after he’d been painting all day or refinishing her wood floors. That was the only payment he accepted, her home-cooked meals and her friendship.
He pulled down the gravel road that housed five cottages built in the sixties. One of them was in the process of being torn down, no doubt to be replaced by something shiny and new. The small Panhandle town didn’t boast wide, sugar-sand beaches. The scrubland in this area, with its sea-grass-covered dunes, hadn’t been developed as it had farther west. But, with the economy recovering, Chambliss was now seeing the results of the dredging project begun years ago.
As he neared Nancy’s home, his heartbeat spiked at the sight of two cars parked out front, lights blazing inside. Mia and her parents, he bet. They’d probably just arrived, given the luggage in the open trunk. He paused, even though he knew that he should back up and leave.
Like now.
Except he couldn’t, because the front door opened and a woman stepped out. His heart tripped and coughed and gasped like a gunked-up carburetor. Mia. Her dark-brown hair was piled up on her head, loose strands framing her face. She stepped off the front porch and out of the light, but in that brief glimpse he could see her tired, sad expression as she headed toward the open trunk. Which would put her only a few yards away from his car.
He still couldn’t lift his foot from the brake pedal. His windows were tinted, so she wouldn’t see him. He couldn’t see her as well, either, but he saw enough as she hefted out the black suitcase. Now his heart was racing, seventy, eighty, a hundred miles an hour. She wore a red top, one sleeve drooping off her shoulder, and shorts. Still trim and long in the torso. Still about five-five. It was her face, what he could see of it in the distant lighting, that gripped him. In this light, as beautiful as ever. Memories flashed through his mind like a slide show: her laughing; smiling shyly; closing her eyes and arching as she came beneath him. Whispering his name, her fingers digging into his back.
She looked up then, her gaze zeroing in on his car. Her eyebrows furrowed, and she tilted her head in the way he’d seen a hundred times. Something inside him screamed to lower the window and say something. Hello. How are you? I’m so sorry . . .
She turned to glance behind her, where her father was coming down the steps. Raleigh hit the gas and shot forward to the end of the lane, where he had to pry his fingers from the steering wheel to put the car into park. He was shaking.
Dammit, he’d almost screwed up. Talking to her would only dredge up a painful past for Mia. Maybe her anger, too. Her father would have blown a gasket. Mia didn’t deserve to suffer anymore over him.
He forced himself to breathe normally and pull around the small cul-de-sac. As he passed Nancy’s cottage, he vowed that  he wouldn’t look. But he couldn’t help it. Everyone was inside, the cars closed up. He told himself it was for the better. That maybe he shouldn’t attend the funeral after all. How the hell was he going to handle seeing her without a tinted window and the night between them?