by CJ Burright
Release Date: 12/2013
Summary from Goodreads:
A dreamcaster with the ability to channel creatures from her nightmares, headstrong and cynical Kalila Montgomery longs for a peaceful, picket-fence life…until the man literally of her dreams kidnaps her. Survival quickly becomes her number one goal, yet a growing attraction to the man in her nightmares is impossible to ignore. While she fears he will kill her, other, more terrifying enemies surround her, and Kalila succumbs to his scheme to escape. She may be his one hope for freedom…A deadly combination of power, cunning, and cold-hearted charm, Lydon v’al Endrian fears nothing. Feels nothing.
Chained to a brotherhood of men with the supernatural ability to invade dreams, he hunts dreamcasters to be harvested for their dreams and killed. His target: Kalila Montgomery. But Kalila awakens an undeniable dark desire and a longing for a freedom long-lost. To gain everything he craves, Lydon must seduce Kalila before his plot is discovered…a hopeless challenge which, if failed, will earn him a death-sentence. Caught up in a dangerous world of secrets and obsession, doubt and betrayal, Kalila and Lydon face the nightmare of their lives, where love will either deliver them—or destroy them both.
About the Author
CJ blames her love for reading and all things Medieval on her father, who plied her often with fantasy novels ranging from Sir Lloyd Alexander to Piers Anthony. Her love for romance, however, lies completely at the feet of her best friend Michelle, who dared to give her a romance novel for her birthday. She smiled, politely said thank you, and tossed it in the corner, where it gathered dust. In a moment of desperation, when only the revolting romance remained in her almost-always toppling stack of awaiting books, she sucked it up and read the romance. Doomed.
She started writing fantasy and paranormal romance for the cathartic experience, decided she liked it, and after two overlong, horribly written novels joined RWA and the Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal special interest chapter. Best classes and critique groups ever. Double doomed. Now, writing is a necessity, not just a hobby.
In her spare time, when she’s not writing or reading or actually working, CJ might be found in the dojang (4th Dan Black Belt, baby), rooting on the Mariners (who will some day win the World Series), working out (P90X, anyone?), gardening (a little dirt never hurt anyone), or playing Music of the Night on the piano (without mask or cape). She lives in Oregon with her fabulous husband and daughter. Not to mention her minions, a herd of cats.
WONDERFULLY WICKED is CJ’s Burright’s first novel.
Published: December 10th 2013
Add to Goodreads
From Emma Cane, Jennifer Ryan, and Katie Lane come three wildly romantic holiday stories featuring snowstorms, proposals, a sleigh ride … and, yes, cowboys.
The Christmas Cabin by Emma Cane
Sandy and her young son, Nate, are Christmas tree–hunting when a snowstorm strikes and an old ranch hand points them to an abandoned cabin. Little does Sandy know he sent cowboy Doug Thalberg to the same place. It’s a Christmas all of Valentine Valley will remember.
Can’t Wait by Jennifer Ryan
Before The Hunted Series began …
Though she is the woman of his dreams, Caleb Bowden knows his best friend’s sister, Summer Turner, is off limits. He won’t cross that line, which means Summer will just have to take the reins if she wants her cowboy for Christmas.
Baby It’s Cold Outside by Katie Lane
Alana Hale hits the internet dating jackpot when she finds Clint McCormick. He’s sensitive and responsible—not to mention wealthy. When he invites her to spend the holidays on his family’s ranch, she readily accepts. But on the way there, a blizzard strands her with a womanizing rodeo cowboy who could change everything …
This is a real nice and enjoyable collection of short novellas. Each one of them has a romantic Christmas theme to them.
The Christmas Cabin by Emma Cane – Is a sweet and touching story about how a cowboy and a single mom with her son get trapped in a cabin over Christmas. This novella is a part of the Valentine Valley series.
Can’t Wait by Jennifer Ryan – Is a quick Christmas romance between Summer and her brother’s best friend and foreman Caleb. Not my favorite novella in this book, it is still a nice read.
Baby It’s Cold Outside by Katie Lane – Alana is on her way to meet Clint, a man she met on the internet, when she drives into a snow filled ditch and can’t get out. Luckily she is rescued by a man she thinks is his brother…
I finished this entire book rather quickly. Along with these stories you will also find the titles and a few excepts of the books these authors have written. This book was more like a sampler so you have a chance to try out these authors before buying all of their books. Over all I enjoyed it, it was a nice book to read in one afternoon.
(This book was received as an ARC from the author/publisher in exchanged for an honest review.)
We are extremely excited to celebrate the release of Melody Grace’s UNWRAPPED, a novella in the Beachwood Bay Series!! Fans will want to snatch this up and snuggle by the fire for a fun holiday read!
You are invited to join friends and family in Beachwood Bay for the wedding of the year… Lacey James is wild, spontaneous and up for anything. Daniel Sullivan is careful, sensible, and mending his broken heart. It’s a match nobody saw coming, but when the unlikely pair get stranded together on the way home for the holidays, Lacey finds her long-term crush impossible to ignore. As the snow keeps falling, and a friendly game of truth or dare gets way out of control, Daniel discovers that the one girl he wants more than anything is the last person he expected. But when the snow melts, will their night together be more than just a memory? And will they make it to Beachwood Bay in time for the wedding? Anything can happen this holiday season! Fall in love with the latest installment of the internationally bestselling Beachwood Bay series by Melody Grace.
Melody Grace Bio: Melody Grace is the USA Today bestselling author of UNBROKEN and UNTOUCHED. A small-town girl turned SoCal beach-lover, she spent years with her nose in a book before deciding it was time to write them for herself. She loves bad boys, good books, and pistachio-flavored ice-cream.
Blogs Taking Part in the Release Day Launch
Date Published: 10/18/2013
The Kincaids Book #2
By the author of the bestselling Escape to New Zealand series–
When you wish upon a star . . .
Alec Kincaid has never met the obstacle he couldn’t overcome—or the woman who could resist him. And it’s not going to happen now, not with his star shining more brightly than ever in the high-stakes arena of San Francisco’s software industry.
Desiree Harlin doesn’t believe in fairy tales, and she doesn’t waste time wishing. She’s learned the hard way that dreams don’t come true. And with her reputation and hard-won security on the line, succumbing to temptation isn’t an option.
But things aren’t always what they seem. And even stars sometimes fall.
Creating Your Book Cover
So you’ve written a terrific book. You’ve edited and polished it to a fare-thee-well, and are ready to send it out into the Big World. But first, it needs a–gulp–cover. Oh, well. People aren’t buying the cover, they’re buying the writing, right? You can just do it yourself, right? After all, you’re pretty artistic. Right?
Wrong. Everybody is going to judge your book by its cover. You have a split second to convince your target buyer that this is her type of book, and that it’s a good one. Guess what does that–or doesn’t? Yep, your cover! Your book may or may not sell with a kickass cover. Without a kickass cover, it’s pretty much guaranteed not to sell.
The tips below, gleaned from ten years in marketing for the publishing industry, helped me create my own covers. I pass them along in hopes that they help you too.
1. Hire a professional. It isn’t as expensive as you may think. My initial three eBook covers cost me less than $100 per book, a small investment that paid for itself within days.
2. Choose the right professional. I did a web search to find designers in my genre (Romance), then looked at their websites and portfolios. Who designs covers that appeal to you and make you want to buy the book? When you’ve found somebody whose work you like, ask for a quote.
3. Know your market. Think about bestselling authors whose books resemble yours. Those authors have succeeded in attracting your market. Look at the covers of their books, and you’ll see trends. (Shirtless heroes? Flowers? An ornate font, or a simple one? Big, bold block letters on a red background, for a thriller?) Copy the links to your favorite covers. You’ll want to share them with your designer.
4. Define the effect you want to achieve. Your cover is your brand. Even if you only have one book out there now, you’ll want a “look” that people identify with your style. A good designer excels in translating “feelings” into art. This is the direction I gave my own designer (Robin Ludwig): “I want a simple, tasteful, intelligent cover (no half-naked heroes!) Something that still says ‘romance,’ but not ‘embarrassing.’ The books are funny, playful, sexy, and occasionally tearjerking. Not completely frothy, a serious story in there too. I want to convey that–plus ‘exotic New Zealand locale.’”
I also had three books, with more to come, so I needed to tie the covers together. The designer achieved that with the use of color and layout.
5. Research stock art. You’ll get better results and help your designer if you take the time to find stock imagery that conveys the look you’re going for. I used Dreamstime. The designer used the images I found for Just This Once and Just for Fun, but found different (better!) images for the other books.
6. Work the design, and get feedback. After you get the designer’s first pass, ask people who have read your book for their reactions, then evaluate the feedback and give ONE response to the designer. If it isn’t quite right, keep working. (It took me three or four rounds to get it right.) Don’t give the designer specific direction (“could you put the title under the picture?”) Instead, try to explain the “feeling” that isn’t quite right (“It doesn’t look playful enough”).
7. Admire your beautiful book cover! I hope it sells great!
She’d spooned up every bit of the rich broth, the chunks of beef and vegetables, had dipped a second and then a third piece of bread in olive oil. Alec had watched it all without comment, while dispatching his own dinner with an alacrity that confirmed to Desiree that he really hadn’t had dinner yet tonight.
And when they’d finished, he’d insisted, together with Giuseppe—of course the waiter’s name was Giuseppe, because this wasn’t romantic enough, the white tablecloth and the single red rose and the candle and the worn brick against her shoulder—he’d insisted that she order cannoli for dessert.
“Just one,” he coaxed. “If you don’t want it, you don’t have to eat a single bite. But I think you need to taste whipped cream tonight.”
“Don’t you think she needs some whipped cream?” he demanded of the waiter, who smiled back at him, sensing, Desiree thought through a satisfied haze of red wine, succulent beef, and way too much potent testosterone, a truly magnificent tip.
“Definitely, the signorina needs whipped cream,” Giuseppe agreed. “And we have the best.”
She wasn’t sure how you had better whipped cream than anyone else, but when the dessert arrived, she had to concede that this was the best.
Amaretto, one still-sane corner of her practical brain suggested, but that sensible voice was drowned out, oh so rapidly, by the sensation on her tongue, the silky smoothness of cream, the almond sweetness of the liqueur, the delicate drift of pastry and the deep dark pleasure of chocolate. And Alec, watching her as she allowed the rich concoction to drift between her lips, over her tongue, down her throat. Watching her, enjoying the sight of her enjoying herself, as if it were his tongue. His throat.
By the time he’d slapped a hand against the door of the cab that had again been waiting when they’d stepped out of the restaurant’s front door, leaped back onto the sidewalk and raised that same hand in farewell, she’d been so lost in fatigue, wine, and lust that she could only sit back against the scarred leather and thank heaven that she hadn’t actually kissed him. Or begged him.
Rosalind James is the author of the Kindle-bestselling “Escape to New Zealand” series (currently five titles strong), as well as the new U.S.-based “Kincaids” series. Her first book,”Just This Once,” has sold tens of thousands of copies in the year since it was published, eventually reaching #85 in the Amazon store. A marketing professional and publishing industry veteran, Rosalind has lived all over the United States and in a number of other countries, traveling with her civil engineer husband. Most recently, she spent several years in Australia and New Zealand, where she fell in love with the people, the landscape, and the culture of both countries. She loves trying new things in her writing, most recently the mystery and suspense in “Nothing Personal.”
Rosalind credits her rapid success to the fact that “lots of people would like to escape to New Zealand! I know I did!”
We now have a total of 41 giveaways listed on the Fill Your Stockings With Books page!! Check them out and enter today!
If you come across a giveaway I have posted that is already over please let me know in the comments so I can make a note of it on the list.
Title: North Pole Reform School
Author: Jaimie Admans
Date of Publication: November 6, 2013
Genre: YA rom-com, fantasy
Mistletoe Bell hates Christmas. So would you if you had a name like hers. Her Christmas-mad parents make the festive season last all year, and with another Christmas looming, Mis doesn’t think she can take any more. After her carelessness causes an accident at school, it seems like things can’t get any worse.
Then she wakes up to find The Ghost of Christmases Ruined in her bedroom.
She is taken to the North Pole, to a reform school run by elves determined to make her love Christmas. Stuck in a misfit group of fellow Christmas-haters with a motley crew of the weird and even weirder, watched over by elves day and night, she doesn’t expect to meet cute and funny Luke, who is hiding a vulnerable side beneath his sarcastic exterior. She doesn’t expect to fall in love with him.
But all is not as it should be at the North Pole. A certain Mr Claus is making the elves’ lives a misery, and pretty soon Mistletoe and Luke are doing more than just learning to like Christmas.
A YA romantic comedy in which Santa is the bad guy, teaching reindeer to fly is on the curriculum, and zombies have a fondness for Christmas music.
Suitable for older teens and upwards due to bad language.
Purchase link: Amazon
I am so happy that author Jaimie Admans dropped by and answered a few questions for us…
1. What music inspired you?
This book is quite a strange one for me because I never really listen to music while writing. I find it too distracting. But obviously with a Christmas book, I needed to get into the right mood, and I love Christmas music so much anyway! I accidentally came across an internet radio channel – I had named the radio station mentioned in the book North Pole Radio, and was having a quick Google to make sure it didn’t actually exist, and – oops – it did! I had to rename the one in the book, but I couldn’t resist listening to a bit of North Pole Radio too, and it ended up becoming the soundtrack to the whole thing! I had it playing quietly in the background through the whole writing process, and it didn’t distract me at all, it really helped with getting into the story, especially as the elves play music all the time in the North Pole!
2. Are you anything like your character?
Noooo! I absolutely love Christmas! I start getting excited for Christmas in September! I love the cold and the winter, I love the decorations and the lights, I love the festive feeling, and snuggling up inside with a warm blanket, a hot chocolate and a sappy Christmas movie. I found it quite difficult to write characters who hate Christmas as much as the people at the reform school do!
3. What inspired you to write a Christmas Romance?
It’s just as simple as that I love Christmas romances! I love festive books and movies, and having a plot idea for one was so exciting for me, I couldn’t wait to write it!
About Jaimie Admans
Jaimie is a 28-year-old English-sounding Welsh girl with an awkward-to-spell name. She lives in South Wales and enjoys writing, gardening, drinking tea and watching horror movies. She hates spiders and cheese & onion crisps. She has been writing for years but has never before plucked up the courage to tell people. Afterlife Academy is her third novel and she hopes you enjoy it. There are plenty more on the way!
Synopsis for Married in the Nick of Nine:
Cassandra Whitmore is facing yet another Valentine’s Day alone. Her love life is as dry as the Sharpie pen she uses to mark an even more dreadful day on her calendar—her upcoming 30th birthday. Driven by the maddening ticking of her biological clock, Cassandra is determined to meet, fall in love with, and marry “The One” within nine months. When Cassandra accompanies her cousin to a night club, her Type-A quest to meet a man is quickly rewarded by a stranger’s velvety, baritone voice asking if he might occupy the seat next to her. He’s Nicolas Harte, whose good looks leave Cassandra speechless, but not for long. After mustering enough courage to strike up a conversation, she learns Nicolas is everything she wants in a man—smart, successful, and available. There’s only one catch: He’s “GU” (geographically undesirable). Nonetheless, Cassandra falls in love with Nicolas and makes the uncharacteristic decision to move from Los Angeles to New York to be with him. But Cassandra gets a rude awakening when she discovers there’s something rotten in the Big Apple.
I’m staring at the calendar stuck to my fridge, wondering where the time went. It wasn’t that
long ago that I was braving long lines and rowdy crowds in the quest for the ultimate Christmas
gift. Now it’s February, and I’m looking at a photo of red roses. In four days, millions of women
will receive cards, flowers, candy, jewelry—and the super-lucky ones, the almighty engagement
ring. As for me, I’ll spend the day just plain lying to myself. A lot. I’ll tell myself, “It’s just
another day, it’s all about the money, I’m not letting someone dictate who I should love and
when.” And my favorite, “It’s a day for fools.” If you haven’t already surmised, I’m dreading
When I graduated from college, my eight-year plan looked like this:
1) Find the perfect man, get happily married (So far, no such luck).
2) Have at least two rug rats (Likewise, considering the miserable failure of item 1).
I remove the cap from the black Sharpie I’m holding in my death grip and place a large
“X” on today’s date—Saturday, February 10th. I scan the previous forty X marks and replace the
cap on the pen; I don’t want it to dry up like my love life. I have nine months before I turn the
big three-oh, and I’m determined, by any means necessary, to be married before November 10th.
“Cass, what are you doing?”
My cousin’s high-pitched voice startles me. I tense hearing the sound of her footfalls
along the hardwood floor as she makes her way from the living room to the kitchen. I take a
moment and calmly say, “Nothing.”
She shakes her head, swishing her dreadlocks. She snatches the Sharpie out of my hand.
“You and that calendar! I don’t know why you put so much pressure on yourself. Why plan
everything? Just let it happen.”
Yeah, that’s good advice. She just let it happen, and now she’s desperate to get out of a
marriage to a guy with serious weight issues. It’s not entirely her fault. David is what she calls a
“closet fatty.” When he and Cyn met he’d just lost a hundred pounds. He managed to keep all
his “before” photos out of sight until after the shot-gun wedding. During the pregnancy they both
gained a ton of weight. David got so big that he lost all interest in going out, having sex, and
bathing—not necessarily in that order. On the upside, he’s a good guy and a great dad.
I take the Sharpie from her and toss it onto the island in my recently remodeled kitchen.
“I am gonna let it happen.”
With hands planted on her hips she asks, “How are you gonna let it happen when you’ve
boxed yourself into a nine-month deadline? What if you don’t find ‘The One’ by then?”
“A lot can happen in a day—in a minute. I could walk out the front door and the man of
my dreams could be standing on my lawn.”
She looks at me, hisses, and flounces out of the kitchen. Curious, I follow her into the
living room. She draws the curtains back from the picture window, points, and says, “The only
thing I see on your lawn is a pile of dog mess.”
My stomach drops at the sight of the crap. I paid extra this year to have my grass seeded;
it’s the envy of the block. This is the third time my neighbor, a batterer and a dead-ringer for
Denzel Washington, let his dog do his business in my yard. I ignore the smug look on my
cousin’s face and say, “I don’t know why Michael lets his dog mess on my grass. Drives me
“Why don’t you cancel with what’s his name and celebrate with me tonight?” she asks in
a tone teetering between a plead and a demand.
“Cancel my date with Lawrence to celebrate what?”
“Having a black man in the white house. Did you ever think we’d live to see it?”
“Of course. This is America. Anything’s possible. But Cyn, if Barack Obama had relied
on people like you to get elected, he never would have made it. It took you forever to get
registered and the only vote you’ve ever cast was for Fantasia on American Idol. So stop trying
to play the ‘I’m down for the black cause’ card.”
Busted, she says, “It’s ladies’ night. David’s at that teachers’ conference, and he won’t be
back until Sunday. My mom’s watching Shelby…I’m dying to get out.”
“I’m just not feeling the club thing. You know it’s not my scene.”
“Come on, cousin. Between David, my crazy clients, their kids, and my wild child, I’m
losing it. I need to get my groove back! I’ll do anything.”
I go into the kitchen, grab a plastic bag from the drawer, and return to the living room.
“What’s that for?”
“You said you’ll do anything.” I point to the yard.
Cyn, with a wide-eyed, disgusted look on her face, grabs the bag out of my hand. I open
the door and watch her trudge toward the dog doo. She grimaces, snatches up the crap with the
plastic bag, and looks at me, her face a question mark.
“Put it in the can around back.”
“Can’t believe I’m doing this.” Gagging, she pinches her nose and storms to the side of
I listen for the lid of the trash can. Afterwards, I holler, “Thanks, I’ll see you at The
Speakeasy at ten,” and shut the door.
It’s five o’clock, and I’m meeting Lawrence for dinner at seven. I have an hour and
fifteen minutes to transform from my Saturday-around-the-house self into a woman a man wants
to bring home to mama (and shortly thereafter to the altar).
I stop and take in my stylish living room. This is my favorite room in the house, and I’m
mad crazy in love with my fireplace and mantel. When I moved in a year ago, I couldn’t wait to
decorate it with my seashell collection, candles, and family photos. My volunteer of the year
award from Haven House, a shelter for abused women, sits front and center.
As I walk to the fireplace, I take a moment to straighten the large, tan throw rug in the
center of the room. I’m glad I followed my first impulse and went with hardwood floors. I love
the feel of the smooth wood under my feet, and the style and color matches perfectly with my
beige sofa and love seat. Glancing at my wood coffee table, I cringe at the sight of smudges. The
table complements a large painting that hangs over my sofa: A trio of young African-American
women dressed in colorful church garb on a Sunday morning. A housewarming gift from my
parents, it’s supposed to represent me and the set of twin girls my mother miscarried. It’s a
lovely portrait, but somewhat bittersweet, and a constant reminder of the obstacles my mother
had to overcome to conceive. Age can really do a number on a woman’s reproductive abilities. I
didn’t have the heart to turn the portrait down. The twins, if they had survived, would actually be
thirty going on thirty-one. My Aunt Catherine says my mother was devastated by the loss, and
my folks were getting ready to adopt when I showed up. It’s kind of nice sharing my house with
my sisters. I hope they love living here as much as I do.
I strut to the master bedroom and fling open the door to the walk-in closet. I want to
knock Lawrence’s monogrammed socks off his size-fourteen feet. At least his feet looked that
size in the DVD. I liked how he crossed one leg over the other and talked with his hands. He has
great hands and what I liked most about them was the absence of a wedding band tan. The last
thing I wanna be is somebody’s jumpoff. I’m not that desperate. Nowadays you can never be too
sure. The One (the dating service I’m using) says they do a thorough background check, but I’ve
learned over the years that people will say anything to get your business.
My eyes lock on a Gucci cashmere top and gabardine skirt wedged between a couple of
suits. I reach for the top and skirt and hold them up to my frame. The outfit will work for dinner
and the club. I toss the ensemble onto my Scandinavian queen-sized bed and make my way to
my standalone mirror. I peer at my honey-complexioned, oval shaped face and whisper a prayer
of thanks that I have my ‘young look’ today. I think it’s hormonal. There are times of the month
when I look forty, and other times when I don’t look a day over twenty. Slipping out of my jeans
and tee-shirt, I head to the master bathroom for a much needed shower. “Lord, please let
Lawrence be ‘The One’.”
Synopsis for The Baby in the Window:
A magna cum laude graduate of UCLA, Cassandra Harte never took a test she couldn’t ace. So when her home pregnancy test comes back negative, she’s certain the kit’s defective. Failure has never been an option for Cassandra. She has a well-established career, a handsome husband (Nick), and a lovely home. But there’s one thing Cassandra desperately wants that she doesn’t have: A baby. After trying for months to get pregnant without success, she starts to wonder if she’s finally met a challenge she cannot conquer. Determined to conceive, she creates an ovulation calendar so she can seize that perfect 24-hour window. When that fails, she sends up fervent prayers. But it soon becomes apparent that her inability to become pregnant has nothing to do with timing or faith, and everything to do with Renee, her diabolical, thirteen-year-old stepdaughter.
I peer at the dipstick, hoping the test isn’t screwed. The directions were idiot-proof. Leave it to
me to complicate things. I was supposed to pee on this darn thing for five seconds, but after the
first “Mississippi,” I got so preoccupied with trying to position the stick directly in the path of
my urine, I forgot all about the five second rule. Now the dang thing is soaked, and I probably
won’t get an accurate reading. I stare at the little round window anyway, waiting for the baby to
appear. Well, not literally a baby, but a blue plus sign indicating that I’m pregnant. I love the
sound of that word, and I’m dying to say, “I’m pregnant” or even better, “We’re pregnant.”
“Hi, I’m Cassandra Harte, and this is my husband, Nicolas Harte, and we’re nine months
pregnant,” I announce, looking into my bathroom mirror. In just a few minutes, I could become
an official, card-carrying member of the New Mom’s Club. Eyes closed, I take a deep breath and
count to ten. A smile radiates across my face. I have a good feeling that this is it—that after three
months of trying, I’m finally gonna realize my dream. I’ve got all the symptoms—a late period,
tender breasts, and unusual fatigue (all three a first for me); there’s a good chance I’m with child.
I open my eyes and let my gaze drop to the dipstick. Shutting them, I swallow hard, and open
them again—slightly. I wipe the grin off of my face and vainly squash the empty feeling in my
gut while I glare at the lone blue line: NEGATIVE. I take the dipstick off of the sink and jiggle
it. Maybe I can shake a plus sign out of this lousy piece of plastic that I’ve given way too much
power. I pause at the sound of the door creaking.
“What’s the verdict? Is there a baby in the window?”
“Negative,” I say, tossing the object of my disappointment into the wastebasket. I wash
my hands while my husband relieves himself. Unlike me, he doesn’t have to hold a stick, or
count off five seconds, or any of that crap. He can just let it mindlessly flow.
“I’m sorry,” he says, coming up behind me. I sigh when he wraps his arms around my
waist while kissing me on the nape of my neck. “Don’t worry, you’re gonna get pregnant, and
we’re gonna have the most beautiful baby in the world.”
I can’t help but beam at our image in the mirror.
“That’s my Sassy Cassy,” he says. “And if it’s a girl, she’s gonna have your pretty
chestnut eyes and your honey brown complexion and—”
“No, if it’s a girl, I want her to have your big brown almond eyes and your long
eyelashes,” I say.
“What’s if it’s a boy?” he asks.
“If it’s a boy, we’re gonna name him Nicolas James Harte, Jr., and he’s gonna be a
computer geek like his dad.”
“I like the sound of that.” He gently pushes me away from the sink and washes his hands.
“You know those tests aren’t always accurate. Maybe you should take another one.”
“I’m gonna wait a few days, and if my period doesn’t show up, I’ll make an appointment
with Dr. Burns and get a blood test.”
“That’s a good idea. And babe, three months is not a long time.”
“I know. It just feels like it’s been forever. I mean…this…this is the first time I’ve had
symptoms. I swore I wouldn’t start taking at home tests…but…I don’t know…I just.”
Nick puts the seat and lid down on the toilet. Sitting, he pulls me onto his lap. “Stop
worrying. It’s gonna happen.”
“I guess I’m paranoid because of my mother’s history. You know it took her a long time
to have me, and before she did, she miscarried my twin sisters.”
“Don’t think like that. You have to be positive. You’re only thirty-two, Cass. Your
mother was in her forties when she had you.”
“I’m closer to thirty-three than thirty-two.”
“Stop it! We just started. And I don’t know about you, but I’m having a lot of fun trying.”
“You’re so nasty!” I say.
Nick, laughing, rises and sends me tumbling to the floor. “Woman, please. You know
you still turn me on as much as you did the first time I laid eyes on you.” He grabs my hand and
helps me up.
“Oh, really?” I say.
“Yes, really. You were wearing this purple top and this hot little skirt.”
“Where did we meet?” I ask.
“That’s easy. The Speakeasy.”
“Saturday, February 10, 2008. Three years and four months ago.”
“Dang! You are in love with me!”
“And don’t you ever doubt it,” he says, pulling me in close.
Our faces come together and I part my lips in anticipation of his long, hard tongue. I grab
him around his neck. We kiss passionately while he lifts me up, my legs wrapping around him.
Walking backwards he stumbles through the open door with me clinging to him. We fall onto the
bed, kissing, grabbing, and devouring each other. Nick pulls my nightgown over my head and
slips out of his pajama bottoms. My eyes widen when his full package comes into view. He
moves toward me and then comes to a dead stop.
“What…what’s wrong?” I ask.
“You…you…you’re…babe, your period’s here.”
“What the—?” I sit up, my mouth agape, looking down at the small red spot on our white
silk sheets. I jump out of bed with my hands between my legs. “I’m sorry,” I say, running to the
“It’s okay, babe. Don’t worry about it. I’ll change the sheets, get the kids up, and get
“O—okay,” I say, standing in the shower. I grab my shower cap, thrust it onto my head,
and turn the water on. I watch the blood go down the drain right along with my hopes of being
Nick’s right. It’s only been three months, and we’re just gonna have to start timing things
better. I have to make sure we do it when I’m ovulating. Ugh! The last thing I want to do is get
obsessed with this having a baby business. But if I want it to work, I’m gonna have to do more
planning. I wish I could be as casual about this procreation venture as Nick. He doesn’t have a
clock ticking in his body, and he already has two kids by his deceased wife. They’re not his
biological kids, but they might as well be. He loves them deeply, and they’re crazy about him, so
if we weren’t able to have a child together, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for him. But that’s
not the case for me. I love Renee and Brian, too, but I’m not always sure how they feel about me.
I believe Brian has feelings for me, but Renee, she’s a whole ‘nother story.
The bottom line is, I want a child of my own, a child with Nick. I want to experience
having a life inside me and giving birth to a child. There’s nothing like it in the world. And I’m
determined to get pregnant and have a baby with the man I love.
My Books Are My Babies
Barely able to breathe, my mother would peer at us with her Bette Davis eyes that were filled with fear and uncertainty and proclaim, “Nobody’s gonna love you like me!” I would stand there trembling while my mother, suffering from an asthma attack, struggled to breathe. I wondered what she meant when she said no one would love us like her. At the age of eight, I was too young to understand. Her words confused and frightened me. It wasn’t until she passed away at the age of thirty-six, that I understood what she meant. She’s been gone now more years than she lived and I’ve come to not only understand but appreciate her words. She was right. No one has loved me like her. No one can love me like her. There is nothing like a mother’s love for her child. My grandparents took us in after my mother passed away, but as much as they loved us, their love couldn’t compare to my mother’s. My aunt’s doted on us, but their love could not compare to my mother’s. I believe a mother’s love for her child is God-given. Nothing can replace it.
Unfortunately and fortunately for me, I did not have the opportunity like my mother did to have children. It wasn’t what God had planned for me. But being the gracious God he is, he gifted me with the ability to write books and those books have become my children. Two of them are being spotlighted on this very website: “Married in the Nick of Nine” and “The Baby in the Window.” They are the first and second novels in a four-part series. Every time I read a review about one of my babies or hear someone talk about one of my babies, I think about my mother. The same way she wanted to love and protect me is how I feel about my books. I know it may seem strange because they’re inanimate objects. But I put my heart and soul into my books and they’re alive with romance, suspense, action, and drama. I can’t get enough of them and I want to tell the world about them. I’m proud of my babies! I want them to do well and I hope that one day they’ll become bestsellers! So I promote them every day, all day, whenever and wherever I can. I know my Facebook Family and friends are most likely fed up with my nonstop posts about my babies, but I’m only being a loving mother. No one is going to love my books like I do. No one is going to promote them like I do.
Some people may call my fixation on my books an obsession, but I don’t see it that way. They’re my passion. Perhaps you can relate. What are you passionate about? Is there someone or something you love like no one else can? If your answer is yes, then you probably know how I feel. When I think about how much I love my books it brings a smile to my face. Because if I can feel this way about words on paper, I can just imagine how much my mother loved me—her own flesh and blood.
Shortly after graduating from USC with a degree in journalism, Alretha soon realized her interest in her major was not heartfelt. Instead of writing news stories, she wanted to write plays and books. Several years later, her church gave her an outlet to fulfill her writing desires through their Liturgical Fine Arts Department wherein Alretha penned twelve theatre pieces—the community response was overwhelming.
This led to plays outside of the church, including Alretha’s “One, Woman Two Lives,” starring Kellita Smith (The Bernie Mac Show), directed by four-time NAACP Image Award Best Director recipient, Denise Dowse. The production garnered rave reviews from critics and audiences.
In between plays, Alretha’s first novel “Daughter Denied” was launched in 2008 and in 2011, Alretha launched “Dancing Her Dreams Away.” Her third novel, “Married in the Nick of Nine” was launched in 2012 and is taking readers and reviewers across the country by storm. “The Baby in the Window,” the standalone sequel to “Married in the Nick of Nine,” is Alretha’s fourth novel.