Book Review: Love Is a Wistful Song

Aryen has her life planned: attend the most prestigious conservatory, then marry the man of her dreams. But Grandfather has other plans in Love Is a Wistful Song.

Ava S. Quill calls herself an aspiring author, claiming there is always plenty more to learn. If that’s the case, and it usually is, I can’t wait to read her ‘professional works,’ because her most recent book, Love Is a Wistful Song, captured my heart the same way How to Train Your Dragon’s and Band of Brother’s soundtracks sent blissful shivers up my spine.

My thoughts:

Before meeting my husband, music was my life. My parents loved me a lot. I know because they rarely asked me to stop singing or playing the piano as I worked on whatever I’d chosen for that day. They also rarely complained when I sang as we walked in public places or on the boat or in the tent or on a peaceful trail.

I had all kinds of little things I did to take care of my voice. For instance, I didn’t eat or drink dairy before a performance so I wouldn’t coat my throat. I also refused to make certain noises in order to avoid voice nodules, something I really wasn’t in any danger of getting in the first place.

It wasn’t that I wanted to be famous. Not at all. To this day, I love the feel of the keys under my fingers and the delight I get from singing. And in case you are wondering, yes, I still sing under my breath as I walk through public places, and I am not bothered by it in the least. My kids, on the other hand, are.

in Love Is a Wistful Song, none of Aryen’s family is embarrassed by her skill on the violin. After all, she takes an old, inexpensive violin and makes it sing in a way most people can’t make the most precious of instruments trill. In fact, even though most girls in their family get married by eighteen, often through arranged marriages, they support her dream of attending the most prestigious conservatory.

When she’s ripped away from the man she privately dreams about, her music turns upside down. Being promised to his cousin twists her strings into knots until they snap.

Saying Love Is a Wistful Song kept my attention would be a bit of an understatement. I found myself wanting extra time to read and stealing it from those precious hours of sleep that I beg for every night.

The story takes the hearts of two people and wraps their melodies together as their world tries to rip them apart. The well-rounded characters made me happy and angry. I found myself with flared nostrils as anger flitted through my veins several times. That is not something I’ve experienced in a long time. The editing, grammar, storyline, and excellent writing took this indie book to a professional level every indie author should reach before publishing.

Some books we treasure because they are entertaining reads that we can finish on the beach without worry of the underlying melodies. Other literary treasures require us to make it through the heavy ballad before we can appreciate the harmonies, while only a few treasures, like Love Is a Wistful Song, entwine melody and counter-melody with harmonies to create a beautiful concerto we want to listen to again and again.

Clean, beautiful, and thought-provoking. I absolutely recommend Love Is a Wistful Song.

The Official Blurb:

Music-obsessed Aryen dreams of attending a prestigious conservatory and, sometimes, about her childhood friend Ryan. But when her dream to study with the masters comes true, it demands a high price—Aryen must agree to an arranged marriage with Ryan’s popular cousin Blaine. When she protests the arrangement, her grandfather threatens to destroy Ryan’s already challenging prospects, forcing Aryen to choose whether to pursue her feelings and sacrifice her lifelong dream or give up Ryan in order to protect him.

More Info:

Purchase your copy of Love Is a Wistful Song on Amazon

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Book Review: Reluctantly Yours

Besties June and Ellie made a pact twenty-five years ago, and now it’s time to see it through: help their grandchildren James and Sarah to fall in love.

Jessica Marie Holt has spread her delicate wings and written her very first rom com. Reluctantly Yours brings us two best friends, bickering grannies who long-ago made a pact to bring their grandchildren together. But first, they have to get the two stubborn adult grandchildren to like each other again. This hilarious story kept me happily entertained and is guaranteed to do the same for you.

My Thoughts About Reluctantly Yours

Growing up, I had one grandmother who kept a spot on the couch for her dog. We couldn’t sit there. She also kissed us on the lips with Dad in the background saying, ‘Mom, stop spreading your germs.’ And she piled National Geographics in the corner for decades. I loved her.

My other Grandmother lives further away and is now in need of help, but when I was younger she made the most amazing baked goods. She also tried to serve us a frozen turkey on Thanksgiving. And certain forms of dry humor soared right over her short, little head. I love her too.

Still, neither of my grandmothers can compare to the quirky, conniving, methods Ellie and June enact, all in the name of love and family. These two hilarious grannies definitely love their grandchildren, and they may, or may not, have their favorites. James and Sarah.

We’ve all been there: friends, sisters, parents, and fate try to set up the perfect, or not-so-perfect couple. My husband and I are the product of a successful set-up ploy. But have you ever considered, the bickering Bettys who’ve been besties for decades and have passed on their loveable, yet stubborn traits to their grandchildren that they want to see get together try? Spats, trips to the veterinarian, coffee, shared meals, more spats. And the kind of acting that usually only happens on stage. Filled with nothing but fun, Reluctantly Yours hits the mark, at least in this book.

Holt brings her wonderful writing skills to the table, showing her ability to cross genres without faltering. Best yet, Reluctantly Yours is the first in the Granny Pact Collection. I can’t wait to see what kind of a scheme these two loveable characters dream up next.

The Official Blurb

Ellie and June have been neighbors and best friends forever. Together, they’ve weathered it all—marriages, babies, strange wardrobe choices, terrible haircuts, small-town gossip—only to have their friendship come out stronger on the other side. 

But now, they’re up against a hurdle unlike any they’ve faced so far.

Unmarried grandchildren. 

Tragically—and inexplicably—James, Ellie’s absolute treasure of a grandson, is single. And so is Sarah, June’s unmatched delight of a granddaughter.

But these Grannies aren’t worried. They have an ace up their sleeve

The Granny Pact.

Yes, these doting grandmas have vowed to engineer the romantic happiness of their grandchildren—by any means necessary. 

Unfortunately, James and Sarah are not that easy to convince. And, unbeknownst to the grannies, their two grandkids share a past that will make their job much, much harder—and might even test the limits of their fifty-year friendship.

More Info

Purchase your copy of Reluctantly Yours on Amazon.

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I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for this review. All opinion are honest and my own.
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Book Review: My Christmas Darling

When Lucy Carpenter secretly suggests her Christmas novel to her boss for publication, all kinds of crazy ensues in My Christmas Darling by Vivian Mayfair.

Vivian Mayfair must have a love of holidays. Most of her humorous books revolve around fun-filled holidays. My Christmas Darling is no different. Be ready for a world of name, novel, and TV scene dropping that will make you pat your sleeping partner as you laugh. It happened to me.

My Thoughts about My Christmas Darling

When the Christmas bug bites you, do you curl up on the couch with your favorite snuggly blanket, maybe a mug of hot chocolate, and a Hallmark movie crafted after your favorite holiday romance novel? If you do, then this adorable book by Vivian Mayfair is your next read.

The descriptions and dialogue Mayfair created had me imagining some of my favorite Hallmark stars as I read. Sara Rue is my choice for main character Lucy Carpenter, who wants nothing more than to have her Christmas novel published and help her mom, who was blinded in an accident, along the way.

What better way to insert a comedic romance into a holiday than have the story revolve around the publishing of a Christmas novel? I couldn’t think of one. And this story takes has it all. Christmas decor, a grinch, a clueless elf who wants nothing more than to help, Ms. Claus spreading Christmassy goodness, and a misunderstood boy and girl that need to do nothing more than find each other to fix it all.

While I did enjoy My Christmas Darling, I do want to let my readers know there were a few word choices that made me wonder. When the main character thinks about the fragrance of her love interest, I was certain she’d say he stank, because the word ‘smell’ was used. I also wondered at the use of ‘confiscated’ when it was used to describe be seized in the hall for a kiss. None of it was significant to my enjoyment level, but it did pull me out of the moment a couple of times. I still recommend the book, especially at the $0.99 price point.

The official blurb

A SNOWDROP VALLEY BEGINNING…

Christmas has come to New York, but it doesn’t feel very festive for Lucy Carpenter. Single, disgruntled in love from past hurts, she disappears into the world of books as a manuscript reader for a mid-level publishing company on the East Side. Plagued with guilt for a mistake that took her mom’s eyesight, Lucy dreams of achieving financial success despite growing medical bills and unpaid rent. Her only hope of survival is to publish her little Christmas novel despite repeat rejections by big publishers. When her boss requests her publishing recommendations for the month, Lucy submits her manuscript under a false identity against strict company guidelines in what becomes the great holiday literary hoax of Manhattan where lies spin out of control and stockings are filled with coal instead of chocolates.

Known as the ice fish of Big Apple Books, William Harcourt longs for acceptance from a nitpicky father who rules the publishing industry with an iron fist. When a sweet Christmas manuscript about a father and daughter in a fictional book town crosses his desk, he believes it to be the ticket that will bring his company into the Top Five and finally gain him his father’s love. What he didn’t expect was to fall in love over email with an enchanting mystery author whose book thawed his wounded heart and opened his eyes to the true meaning of self-acceptance and self-love. My Christmas Darling is a heartwarming holiday romance to remind us why we love Christmas. This adorable love story draws you in fireside and proves how the spirit of the season goes beyond pretty wrapped packages under a tree. 

Cozy up with a crochet blanket and a cup of peppermint hot cocoa and absorb into a festive world where books reign and true-love wishes come true. Ideal reading for fans of sweet and clean contemporary romance authors such as Debbie Macomber, Sheila Roberts, Holly Martin, Tilly Tennant, and Debbie Mason.

More Info

My Christmas Darling releases September 15, 2019, and can be pre-ordered now for $0.99 on Amazon.

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Book Review: Hearts Unshackled (Royals of Andorvia Book One)

Princess Katherine wants two things in life: to care for the subjects of her kingdom and find a way to be with Naithanal. Can her dreams be realized? Find out in Hearts Unshackled.

Author Amy Klaus introduced her first novel to the world on July 15, 2019, and it isn’t one you’ll want to miss. Hearts Unshackled, the first book in the Royals of Andorvia series, brings romance and action together in a way that keeps you reading through the night.

My thoughts about Hearts Unshackled

Last year, I had the opportunity to beta read Hearts Unshackled for Klaus. The story immediately captured my heart. As she prepared to publish, I jumped at the chance to review the finished product for her. And it is, of course, even better.

Set in a fictitious kingdom, it deals with the immoralities of slavery and the difficulties that come with uniting various cultures. While it is plain to see that the author has strong feelings against slavery and sees value in caring for others, I wouldn’t label this a political book by any means. The intent is entertainment, and it entertains well. Given the choice, I wouldn’t have put the book down during the second reading any more than I would have through the first.

The main characters, Princess Katherine and Naithanal, as well as most of the side characters, are well-rounded, and I found myself cheering and chastising them regularly–sometimes at the same time. As with any good romance, readers experience the ups and downs that come with love. The push for Katherine to become queen isn’t easy for her or Naithan, and the immoral slave trade that infiltrates her kingdom only makes the situation trickier.

I highly recommend Hearts Unshackled. The perfectly clean read offers no swearing and has no inappropriate relationship scenes. While it deals with slavery, the main characters fight for humanity, and the violence involved during the action scenes is not described in gory detail. I would have no problem with my junior-high schooler reading Hearts Unshackled, and I can guarantee I’ll be reading it again.

The Official Blurb

A princess. An outcast. A fate worse than death.
Will their love triumph, or will they be torn apart before it ever has a chance?

Princess Katherine has never questioned her duty as the heir to the throne of Maledonia. Never, that is, until she meets a hunter named Naithan and her entire life is thrown into disarray – blissful, dangerous disarray. But in spite of her attraction to the young hunter and his simple lifestyle, as the Crown Princess, betrothed since childhood, bound by her duty, she will never be free to love.

Duty takes on an entirely new meaning for Katherine and Naithan when a fledgling slave trade threatens to divide and destroy Maledonia … and their families. Will they have the courage to risk everything they love to save innocent lives from a fate worse than death? Or will they become the slavers’ next targets?

More Info

Purchase your copy of Hearts Unshackled on Amazon.

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Book Review: My Fault

After Cleo runs over Grayson when she shouldn’t have been driving, all she wants to do is make amends. But he’s so darn cute, leaving him alone becomes nearly impossible in My Fault by RJ Conte.

RJ Conte may have written nine novels, but she’s only kissed one boy, and she married him! Perhaps that’s what leads her to write such entertaining love stories as My Fault. This humorous love story takes readers into the mind of Cleo Stanton, who after 30 days in the clink, wants nothing more than to make it up to the guy she ran over with her car.

My Thoughts on My Fault

Cleo Stanton is the type of character you love to watch annoy others. The sweetest, quirkiest gal who has absolutely no clue about social graces. The girl in the back of your college English class who dressed in loud, mismatched clothing and talked her neighbor’s ear off but still managed to know all the answers, has nothing on Cleo. Nothing.

She rambles. Rambles in text messages. Rambles out loud and in her mind. Nothing stops her. But I found I didn’t mind. Her rambling made my nights more enjoyable. I laughed. My husband looked at me funny, and I laughed some more.

Cleo knows how to connect topics too. Wombats, head-babies, and uvulas all come into play, and even though I don’t dress like Cleo or talk like Cleo, somehow, I relate to Cleo.

My Fault is filled with humor, page after page of it, and most doesn’t come from unusual situations, but from the thoughts running through Cleo’s head. They’re fantastic! But it’s not all humor. Toward the end, RJ Conte takes the story through a twisty tunnel and a couple of serious topics appear. Don’t worry, she tackles them with grace and brings the story together stupendously.

As a Christian rom-com story, you know God comes up. Cleo has a knack for praying. I’d consider it irreverent, but knowing Cleo as I do, for her, it’s classic. Besides, God may not be fictional, but Cleo is. More importantly, we see where God’s hand plays a part in Cleo and Grayson’s lives and, hopefully, can relate to such miracles ourselves.

This short book will have you laughing and maybe crying. Maybe both. Either way, I’m certain you’ll love Cleo as much as I do.

Official Blurb

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

A devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

More Info

Purchase your copy of My Fault on Amazon

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Book Review: The Stationmaster’s Cottage

When Christie Ryan attends her Gran’s funeral against her fiance’s wishes, she’s suddenly faced with an unexpected inheritance in The Stationmaster’s Cottage by Phillipa Nefri Clark.

Phillipa Nefri Clark, an Australian author of women’s fiction, released a new edition of The Stationmaster’s Cottage in April. Newly edited, this novel from the River’s End series stands alone with ease and brings to life characters from two generations with overlapping love stories.

My Thoughts on The Stationmaster’s Cottage

We look at our families and their histories and wonder at our ancestors’ lives. How did they live? Were they happy? Are there aunts or uncles we know nothing about? What about cousins? As we dive into boxes left behind and find pictures, documents, and keepsakes we know nothing about, mysteries unfold before our eyes. Can we put aside those mysteries? When I discovered my own family history mystery, I couldn’t, and neither can Christie.

Christie Ryan finds her own family history mystery, and it’s a doozy! Moreover, it seems to include the moody artist that lives on the beach. Add to that a fiance that asks her to spend more time with him, and then seems interested in everything but her, and the story of the stationmaster’s cottage lines up.

It sounds like a romance, but there is plenty more to this novel. Christie struggles to find herself and determine what she really wants in life. She also finds herself yearning for more information about the great-aunt no one told her about. In the meantime, she deals with contradicting emotions over Gran’s death.

This book is written exceptionally well. The characters come to life and draw you in. Where one-dimensional characters are often used by authors, Clark adds just the right amount of dimension.

The Stationmaster’s Cottage is easy to recommend and is a book you’re sure to love.

Official Blurb

“There are secrets in that cottage. Questions needing answers.”

Those words gave Christie Ryan a reason to stay in River’s End, when she should have gone home after Gran’s funeral. Inheriting a rundown cottage, far from her jet-setting life, she is drawn into a fifty-year-old mystery.
Who wrote the letters hidden in the attic, an outpouring of love to a woman Christie suspects she is related to? What is the significance of a damaged painting kept by Gran but clearly painted in this seaside town?

Local artist Martin Blake may have the answers she seeks, but refuses to help. His dog adores Christie, but Martin keeps his feelings locked away.

As Christie faces difficult decisions about her own future, will the consequences of righting old wrongs be too high a price to pay?

More Info

Purchase your copy of The Stationmaster’s Cottage on Amazon.

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Book Review: Love From Left Field: A Billionaire Romance

After losing her husband to PTSD, Cambria Henshaw searches for a way to start over in Love From Left Field: A Billionaire Romance by Jenny Rabe.

Jenny Rabe, author of three sweet romance novels, has a knack for bringing love to life, especially in the beginning stages. Perhaps that’s because she experienced 150 first dates before getting married. Either way, Love From Left Field will cause your skin to tingle and your heart to flutter, just like when you first met the love of your life.

My Thoughts on Love From Left Field

While I often explore love in my writing, I’m not always so keen on reading romance novels that don’t delve deeper into the raw parts of the experience. And love is an experience. We feel it, yearn for it, seek it, and revel in it once we have it. It’s no wonder so many books are filled with it. But it takes an understanding, a connection to oneself and others, to create a romance story that doesn’t come off as ridiculously cheesy. Rabe has that understanding.

Love From Left Field explores love after loss, love after betrayal, PTSD, and grief. It honors those who have served and those who are serving in the military. The characters come across as real human beings, albeit, one is incredibly rich. It’s the kind of book you read on the beach because it’s easy to follow, and the kind you read in the library because you want to digest the whys and what fors.

This incredibly clean read won’t drag you down, but it will help you better appreciate your life and the lives given to keep you free. Enjoy splatters of paint, dusty baseball fields, good looking people, and dutiful dogs.

The Official Blurb

After losing her husband to PTSD, Cambria Henshaw desperately needs to start over, so she packs up her paints and moves to Harker Heights, Texas. Inspired by welcoming surroundings and friendly people, Cambria begins to paint one portrait after another, with one small problem: haunted by survivor’s guilt that keeps everyone at a distance—and her heart safely guarded—she can’t bring herself to finish any of them.

Brian Davidson thinks he’s finally put his past behind him. As an anonymous CEO billionaire, he’s sure this small Texas town will be his refuge from the spiteful ex who smeared his name through the mud in the national papers. But when someone starts stalking his baseball practices, threatening to expose his identity, he worries his ex is back for more revenge.

When Cambria and Brian are thrown together during a service opportunity through their grief group, the attraction is undeniable, but so is their hesitation. As the two of them battle their inner demons and their real-life enemies, they must both decide what they’re willing to risk for a 9th-inning chance at “home-run” love.

More Info

Purchase your e-book or print copy of Love From Left Field on Amazon.

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I ordered this book free from Amazon. All opinions are my own.
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Book Review: Pulled Under by Rimmy London

Ella lived a normal, happy, single life. But all that changed the day her car refused to start, and she found herself inches from death.

Ella lived a normal, happy, single life. But all that changed the day her car refused to start, and she found herself inches from death.

Author of several books, Rimmy London keeps us entertained with sweet romance and romantic suspense novels. Pulled Under, book one of her romantic suspense duology, sends your heart reeling as you fight the urge to look over your shoulder. I discovered Pulled Under through a Facebook group and purchased it for $.99.

My Thoughts on Pulled Under:

It’s been a few books since I’ve struggled to put one down. Some of my recent choices begged me to stop reading. In fact, I’ve contacted a couple of authors and explained my decision to not publish a review.

Just a little aside: If you write a book, take the time and spend the money to have it edited professionally.

The minute I picked up Pulled Under, I was pulled in. The action and mystery start in the first chapter. And London’s writing entered my mind like a breath of fresh air. Easy to read, strong, and well-edited, this book never caused me to shake my head in despair. Thank you, Rimmy London.

Ella works for a company that uses her more like a secretary than the financial adviser she was hired to be. And it’s a bit frustrating, but as most of us would, she sticks it out, determined to show her boss she can handle anything thrown at her… including his car keys. That’s what he throws at her when her car doesn’t start.

It doesn’t take long for Ella to start wondering what kind of company she works for, especially when Givanni, her boss’s nephew and the company’s CEO, starts hanging around and saving her life.

In time, Ella ends up in Italy where she meets Givanni’s family and his ex-fiance, all while pretending she’s his.

This wild ride is one everyone can enjoy. Sauve Italians, supermodel-like ex-girlfriends, and a down-to-earth country girl. I enjoyed every minute of reading Pulled Under, and the proof is in my unfinished housework!

The official blurb:

Pretending to be in a fake engagement might fool his family, but it doesn’t convince others. And they’re coming…

Ella is left fighting to keep them together in a world that’s falling apart. 

Givanni, the company CEO and nephew to President Ginetti, seemed the genuine good guy. But there was something hiding behind his emerald eyes. 

When Loriel borrows her new boss’s car, it nearly costs her life. Now, she wants to know why. But her determination to uncover the truth only pulls her deeper into a world with a level of crime she didn’t believe existed. And she’s quickly in over her head. 

But, suddenly bound for Italy pretending to be in a fake engagement is going to be hard. Everything quickly becomes tangled until her heart isn’t certain what’s real or fake. And even while pondering their relationship, it’s clear that Italy was less of an escape than they thought. Because facing a group as powerful as the Italian Mafia is impossible.

Bruised and defeated, they’re faced with a future where they might not make it out alive, let alone together.  

More Info:

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Flash Fiction: Mrs. Wilhelm’s Thanksgiving Gift

Mrs. Wilhelm's Thanksgiving Gift

The sun warmed Jon’s shoulders as he strolled through the frozen town to Mrs. Wilhelm’s home. Never before had he considered the difference a little sun could make. The wind whipping through his shack the previous night bit every inch of his skin, fulfilling its promise to keep him awake. It sure was different than he was used to. Still, moving to a colder climate had always been his dream. He figured nothing was worse than being raised on a desert ranch only to lay track in the middle of August. Not a thing.

That past summer, he’d finally saved enough money to move and landed in the north where he bought himself a little plot. The dilapidated shack he’d once intended to shore up and improve had become his permanent residence. The farm required too much refining and hoeing to find time to fix what was only partially broke.

Warm breath tickled his fingertips as he blew into his cupped hands. Better than the desert? Yeah, it was better. The frost and snow might numb his toes, but at least he couldn’t feel them.

He shyly tipped his hat at the oncoming passersby.

Aggie, covered in a warm shawl, giggled into her friend’s ear, then smiled at him, a gleam in her eye. “Why, Jon, aren’t you cold? You got nothin’ round your neck or coverin’ your arms.”

“It’s a mite chilly, I guess.”

His eyes followed the girl as she passed. Since their first meeting, he’d hoped to court her. Mrs. Wilhelm and her friends’ willingness to provide him with some additional winter work provided a means—if he could manage it all. Today, the women wanted their Thanksgiving turkeys slaughtered. Each slaughter promised a dollar, and if the women wanted their turkeys plucked and dressed, he’d get another dollar and a half per bird. It meant a long day’s work, but Aggie was worth it.

Entering Mrs. Wilhelm’s yard, Jon blew into his cupped hands again and rubbed at his arms. Perhaps he’d use one of those dollars and buy a coat. He’d never needed one in the desert, but he didn’t live there now. Mrs. Wilhelm swung her door wide, and Jon picked up his feet.

“Jon, those birds are drivin’ me crazy. Opal got herself a tom, and he’s been puffed and struttin’ all night.”
“I’ll hang him first for you, Mrs. Wilhelm. Don’t you worry.”

She patted him hard on the back. “I knew you would. They’s out back. I got one o’ those nice metal barrels out there on the fire heatin’ the water now.”

Jon grinned as he met the widow’s eyes. “How d’you manage that?”

She scowled at him. “I might be old, but that don’t make me useless. I can still haul water and build a fire.”

Jon’s eyes widened as he stared at the barrel of water that was surrounded by plenty of burning wood. “Yes ma’am, you can.” A small path was left for him to use when the time came to dunk the turkeys.

“Well, I’ll let you to it. I know you wanna earn that money, so you can court that pretty Miss Aggie.” She leaned in toward him “You gettin’ close?”

“You haven’t told no one, have you?”

“No,” she scoffed. “I can keep a secret.”

Jon sighed in relief. “I got a ways to go, but every bit helps.”

Once alone, Jon strung the ten turkeys on the wooden frame he’d built the day before. Kneeling down, he thanked God for giving the women turkeys and him work, then asked God for strength to finish the task. That done, he drew his knife.

The turkeys hung with their wings outstretched, not even the tom making noise. The eerie silence from the turkeys sent shivers up Jon’s spine. They never made noise after being strung. He took the tom’s head in his hand and tried to avoid looking at the single eye staring back. “It’ll only hurt a minute.”

The knife pushed raggedly through the neck, and Jon threw the head into the pig’s pen. As he worked the knife quickly through the other nine, the tips of his fingers warmed. Stepping away from the birds, he checked the water, which wasn’t quite boiling and went to wash at the pump.

“I heard you was here.”

A giggle sounded and Jon turned round, feeling a flush of warmth cross his neck—not the kind of warmth he wanted either. “A-Aggie.”

“Jon. Ma sent me to wait for our turkey.”

He nodded. “I just started. I can dunk it first if you tell me which one it is.”

“The one with the light tawny feathers.” She pointed.

“Might take some time.” He stepped to the barrel of water and added a few more pieces of wood. “Water takes a while to boil in the cold.”

She sat in a chair on the back porch and smiled, causing his heart to beat wildly in his chest.

“That’s okay,” she said, “gives us time to chat.”

Jon had spoken to Aggie one other time—a short conversation several months ago. He’d stumbled over his words then, and his tongue felt just as thick now. “You wanna talk while I slaughter turkeys?”

“Looks like the slaughterin’s done.” Her infectious laugh would‘ve brought a smile to his face had he not been so weak-kneed.

“Do you have plans for Thanksgiving?” He asked, then dropped his head and shook it. Had he really asked that?

“I’m here to pick up a turkey, remember?”

“Yeah. I just meant… Do you have o-other family comin’ or is it just you, your ma and pa?”

“Just us.”

“Well, that turkey’ll be plenty big for ya’ll.”

“That’ll make my pa happy. He loves turkey. I think he’d eat it all year-round if he could.”

The water started spitting from the barrel and Jon hurried to the turkeys. Holding the feet of the light-tawny bird with one hand and dunking it in the barrel, he brushed at the condensed steam gathering on his forehead with the other. With the scalding done, he walked back toward Aggie.

“Ma wants it plucked and dressed too.”

“All right.”

Standing at a table, Jon pulled at the feathers as quick as he could, but there wasn’t much fast about plucking a turkey.

“You goin’ to the Christmas Ball?”

Aggie’s voice floated to his ears, and he turned, gazing at her a little longer than intended. His hand missed the turkey and grabbed at a pile of already plucked feathers.

She giggled. “Well, are you?”

He shrugged as he looked down at his work. “I hadn’t thought much on it.”

“I have, and I’ve turned down four boys.”

His head twisted in her direction again. “How come?”

“They’s not the one I wanna go with.” She dropped her head, a bright pink coloring the bridge of her nose.

He brushed the feathers onto the ground and examined the turkey. “I’ll have this dressed in a few.”

“Then what will you do?”

The question hung in the air as he drew his knife.

Aggie swayed back and forth, clutching at the sides of her dress. “Pa says I make real good pies. I plan on makin’ one for the ball. What’s your favorite pie, Jon?”

“Oh, I don’t know. I guess I like pumpkin pretty good.”

“Me too.”

Jon shook his hands and pushed the turkey mess away. Turning toward the pump, he almost forgot to take the bird with him. Luckily, he remembered while Aggie’s head was turned. The water ran cold over the plucked bird and his fingers, none of which helped quiet his pounding heart. The Christmas Ball? Did she want him to ask her?

Mrs. Wilhelm clamored down the stairs of the back porch and hurried over to him—a determined look on her face. “Ask her!”

Any warmth in his neck and face drained away. “What?”

“My house is gettin’ cold with that open window. Ask her already.”

Jon scrunched his face together as muddled thoughts ran through his head. Open window? Then he understood. “I don’t have enough money yet.”

“Money,” she grumbled. “You ain’t askin’ her to marry you, just to go to the dance.”

He studied the old woman’s face, unsure she was right. “I can’t do that, Mrs. Wilhelm. I-I…”

“O’ course you can! March up there and say, ‘Miss Aggie, will you accompany me to the Christmas Ball?’ She’ll say yes, and you hand her the turkey.”

He furrowed his brows.

“Go on. There’s brown paper for the bird on the table. Wrap it up good.”

Stumbling toward the porch, his muscles tightened over stiffened joints, and he tripped on a clump of dead field grass. The turkey jumbled into the air with him running to catch it, his clumsy feet barely underneath him. The bird landed in his arms and against his chest. He eyed the ground, all semblance of dignity now gone.

Wrapping the turkey in the brown paper, he handed it to Aggie.

“Thank you.” The smile at the corners of her eyes dropped as she turned to leave.

“A-Aggie?”

She stopped.

“W-would you like to go to the ball with me?” His hands tangled together as his foot dug into the frozen dirt. All his dreams hinged on her answer, and the wait dragged on forever.

Jumping toward him, she kissed his cheek. “Yes!”

“Yes? Really, yes?”

She nodded at him, a big smile across her face as she waved goodbye.

Running back to the turkeys, Jon grinned at Mrs. Wilhelm, who added more wood to the fire. He swung the dead tom into the barrel. “Give me all the work you got, Mrs. Wilhelm. I’m goin’ to the ball!”

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Book Review: The Songs of You and Me

A true-to-life sweet romance, The Songs of You and Me reminds us that dreams can come true.

Mylissa Demeyere enters the writing scene with her first novel, The Songs of You and Me, a sweet romance about second chances. If you love simple, yet sweet love stories, you’ll want this one.

About The Songs of You and Me:

The Songs of You and Me follows the stories of Jane and Jackson. Would-be high school sweethearts, if nothing had gotten in the way. But life did, as it usually does. Now that Jane and Jackson are both single and, once again, living in the same small New York town they grew up in, what happens next is anyone’s guess.

Reader’s learn about the love Jane and Jackson shared in high school through labeled chapters, similar to flashbacks, while at the same time, following their current lives as they rekindle their past friendship with a little help from Jane’s best friend and Jackson’s sister, Sarah. But the heartache of their past marriages brings pain to the forefront. Read the book to find out if they end up in each other’s arms.

My Thoughts:

“So, how did you two meet?”

It’s a question we’ve all heard and answered—one we ask each other regularly. Watching the smiles and the love pass between husbands and wives fascinates us, giving us goosebumps in all the right places. That’s what Mylissa Demeyere’s book, The Songs of You and Me reminds me of—a simple love story everyone wants to hear. To make your reading experience even better, Demeyere includes a link to a fitting song at the beginning of every chapter. While my Kindle has no speakers, I thought the idea was genius.

I found Demeyere’s writing simple and easy to read. There were some errors in the word choices and editing, but that can be expected in every book. Though I noticed the errors, I didn’t feel they detracted from the story much, if at all. The storyline is one-hundred percent believable; if you want an extreme love story, you won’t find it here. However, you will find descriptions of some mighty fine looking people, or hot, as Demeyere describes them. I did find myself getting a bit lost in the heavy descriptions of the characters’ styling choices (especially Jackson’s), but I tend to prefer limited character descriptions.

Overall, I enjoyed the story and would read another by Mylissa. Though I’m not likely to read it again and again, it brought a smile to my face, sometimes it’s the simple pleasures.

The Songs of You and Me is a clean read. Expect some hot kissing and some mild swearing.

More info:

Purchase your copy of The Songs of You and Me on Amazon

Follow Mylissa Demeyere: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Goodreads
Visit her website: www.mylissademeyere.com

Have a book you’d like reviewed?

Contact me at KMonson.author@gmail.com. Find my guidelines on my Recommended Reads page.

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