Saturday, December 24, 2011


From HOME BY MORNING by Alexis Harrington

Cole found the coffee, ground the beans, and soon the room was filled with its rich redolence as it perked. Without help, he also located the cups, cream, and spoons. He searched for something to go with the coffee—Granny Mae was right, they had to eat. The best he found was a loaf of bread and a square of butter on a saucer. Jessica hadn’t been wrong about her lack of food.

But then as Amy had often reminded him, Jess had never had much talent in the kitchen.

He’d never cared.
Although the bread looked more like scraps by the time he’d butchered it, he was glad for the distraction. But he could feel Jessica’s eyes on his back as he puttered.

“Eat your sandwich,” he said over his shoulder. “The coffee’s about ready.”
Satisfied to see her nibbling on the chicken, he balanced the cups, coffee pot and other stuff to carry to the table. He’d never had much talent in the kitchen, either.
“Sorry about the bread,” he muttered, putting it down.
Jessica looked at the uneven hunks he’d sawed off the loaf and smiled. “It would probably look the same if I’d done it. She ate mechanically, simply because she knew she had to.

He poured coffee for both of them. Then he sat down in the chair across from her and splashed a drip of cream into his coffee.
“How long before you know . . . how will we . . . ”
“How will we know if Amy is going to live?” Jessica’s interpretation of his stumbling question sounded blunt and clinical, even to her own ears.
He sighed. “Yeah.”

“I wish I knew. Some people who ought to die seem to hang on through sheer will or what I can only call luck. Others I expect to improve don’t survive. Some people who’ve been exposed again and again seem to have immunity, but I’ve had cases from outlying farms that have had no visitors.” She put down the sandwich and rubbed her temples. “Talk about feeling useless—that doesn’t begin to describe how I feel.”
Cole nudged her foot under the table with his boot. “I’ve never seen a useless person work as hard as you.”
“It’s not difficult to look busy when you’re running around like a chicken with its head cut off.”

“So you’re not really busy?”
“Of course, I am. But I’m scared too.”
“You? Jess, I don’t think you’ve ever really been afraid of anything in your life.” He said it not as a compliment, but as a statement of fact.
“What on earth makes you say that?”
“You’ve tackled jobs that would have knocked some men flat on their backs. And you’ve succeeded.”

“Obviously, you haven’t listened to some of the things I’ve told you.”
He stared into his cup. “Trust me, I heard all of it.”
Suddenly a pocket of pitch exploded in the wood stove, sounding as loud as a gunshot in the quiet room. Jessica flinched.
Cole laughed, startling her even more. “Hey, remember that Halloween night we snuck up to the Leonards’s house? You weren’t scared that night.”
She grinned then, the cloud of doom hanging over her suddenly lightened. “I haven’t thought about that in years! You had those firecrackers left over from the Fourth of July. And I was so scared!”

His own grin showed off the dimples that she’d always found endlessly fascinating and attractive. “Amy heard us plotting and made us take her along or she was going to squeal to your dad. We made her the lookout, but she was so nervous and jumpy, I thought she’d get us caught before we even started.”

Jess stirred her coffee. “Yes, she never had the heart for adventure, and I think she was all of ten or eleven at the time. When you climbed the trellis and got to the top of the Leonards’s roof, even I was sweating. I could see the whole family through the window, holding some kind of prayer meeting in the parlor. Then you dropped those firecrackers down their chimney—”
By this time, they were both laughing, the kind of desperate, happy, hysterical laughter that sometimes overtakes people in their darkest moments. Tears streamed down Jessica’s face.

“Blam, blam, bang-bang-bang—”
“Oh, I wish you could have seen them. You missed it all, up there on the roof. They jumped in every direction, knocking over chairs, prayer books flying. Old man Leonard grabbed his shotgun and actually pointed it at the fireplace! Poor Dolly dove under their dining room table with the kids.”
They laughed until they exhausted their wind, then drew breath and began whooping again. Cole slapped the tabletop a few times, howling until he’d emptied his lungs. By this time, she had a cramp in her side. Someone watching would think they’d taken leave of their senses.

His face red with the exertion, Cole said, “He was probably expecting the devil to leap out of the flames into their parlor, armed with a pitchfork. But then I got hung up in that rotting rose trellis of theirs while I was trying to climb down. The whole thing gave way. That was when he came outside. He practically yanked the front door off the hinges.”

With mock seriousness, Jess said, “I was sure my heart stopped then. At least there was no moon that night, or he would have spotted you, lying there in the flower bed. And Amy, she was hiding in their privet hedge, wringing her hands and crying.” She dissolved into high-pitched giggles again.

“Jesus, he would have shot the first thing that twitched. All I could do was stay there and not move a muscle until he went around the house in the other direction.”
“Then we ran. I didn’t know I could move that fast. I had to grab Amy and drag her along or she probably would have hidden in those bushes all night.”
“I was scratched up from those roses. They had thorns like arrowheads.” He looked at his bare arms, revealed by his rolled-up plaid shirt sleeves. The scars were no longer visible, only the muscle and sinew of a man who’d worked hard for years.
“You’re lucky you didn’t break your neck.”

“We were all lucky we didn’t get caught. I thought Amy would spill the beans for sure.”
“Actually, I thought she would too. She’s such a poor liar. But no one ever found us out.”

“I was scared to death they would.”
She raised a brow. “You told me you weren’t afraid that night.”
He waved off the comment. “Yeah, well, I couldn’t let you know. I had my sixteen-year-old ego to defend. But old man Leonard would have staked me out in his backyard and let the dogs eat me. He’s such a sour crank.”
Their laughter finally faded, like a rocking chair that had coasted to a gentle stop, leaving a palpable silence.

“We had some fun back then, didn’t we,” Cole said, a bittersweet catch in his voice.
They’d had more than that. They had a history together, one that began in childhood. “We sure did. Before everything got . . . complicated.” She bit on the sandwich crusts,

but they’d dried out so she pushed them aside.
“Jess, I wish you had come home to stay when your father died, instead of going right back to New York .”

“Sometimes I wish I had too. I learned a lot in New York, but I’m not certain I’m the better for it. It cost me my peace of mind. I still have nightmares about the things I saw.”
His eyes locked with hers, his gaze pinning her to her chair. “No, I mean I wish you had come home—to me.”

Jessica’s heart squeezed in her chest like a fist. Her throat turned dry and felt as if she’d swallowed a burr. “How can you bring that up now?”
To her utter surprise, he slid off his chair and dropped to one knee beside her. His eyes never leaving hers, he reached up with one work-roughened hand and pushed loose strands of hair away from her face. The backs of his fingers grazed her cheek and goose bumps bloomed on her entire body, giving her a delicious shiver. Then his hand snaked around the back of her neck and pulled her face down to his. She felt his warm breath, smelled the scent of him, and she was powerless to stop him.
She didn’t want to stop him.

His lips touched hers, tentatively, seeking. For that instant, all the years and hurts and betrayals fell away. This was Cole Braddock, the man she’d always loved. She remembered his kiss well, yet it felt brand-new at the same time.
She pulled back, her breath coming fast. “We can’t do this,” she protested.
“I know.” Then he kissed her again.


Harrington Sets Her Story in 1918 Oregon Where the Strength of an Estranged Couple’s Love is Tested as the Great War Grinds On and the Deadly Influenza Pandemic Engulfs the World

"Alexis Harrington is an extraordinary talent."
—New York Times bestselling author, Catherine Anderson

“Emotionally moving and very tender, MONTANA BORN AND BRED tugs on your heartstrings in magical ways. Alexis Harrington delivers a story with relevance to us today as well as a wonderfully drawn portrait of the era.”
—RT Book Review

“The balance between the romance and history is perfect. …Thank you, Ms. Harrington.”
—All About Romance on Home by Morning

“Brave. Heartfelt. Incredible . . . an emotional story filled with honest, raw characters, biting treachery and abiding love. I couldn’t put it down.”
—New York Times bestselling author, Lisa Jackson on Home by Morning

When Alexis Harrington’s first book, Homeward Hearts, was published twenty years ago, e-books and e-readers were mere glimmers in tech-savvy eyes. The author of ten traditionally published print books, Alexis published her recent historical romance novel, HOME BY MORNING, as an e-book original. The book caught the attention of editors’ at Amazon’s new Montlake Romance imprint, which then acquired print and electronic rights to it as well as Alexis’s upcoming novel, HOME BY NIGHTFALL. Set in the first part of the 20th century, both books take place in the small town of Powell Springs, Oregon and share several characters. HOME BY MORNING will be republished by Montlake for sale on December 24th and HOME BY NIGHTFALL follows in July 2012. Both will be available in e-book and paperback editions.

HOME BY MORNING begins in October, 1918 as Dr. Jessica Layton returns to her hometown of Powell Springs for the first time since leaving for medical school in the east. The Great War is in its fifth year, shortages abound, the home front mourns the massive loss of life, and women physicians remain an anomaly. Her efforts to treat New York City’s desperately poor left her drained and exhausted, in need of time to recuperate physically and emotionally. Having done so, she has now given up on a traditional medical practice and is headed to a research position in Seattle.
The stop in Powell Springs will be difficult. The town holds bitter memories and reminders of failure. Jess couldn’t save the family home, she broke her promise to continue her father’s medical practice and it’s the first time she’ll face Cole Braddock, the man who broke her heart and who her sister Amy is planning to marry.
Convinced to stand in for the absent town doctor for a few weeks before continuing north, Jess treats her first patient that very day, a soldier about to leave for Europe. Crossing paths with Cole, she hardens her heart, but can’t help but see he is still the same man with whom she fell in love, and still the only one who stirs her passion.

Cole is fighting his own demons. After his brother Riley enlisted, he was left to run the family business supplying desperately needed horses to the Army. Cole feels guilt about not fighting—a frustration exacerbated by his alcoholic father who belittles him at every turn. He worries, too, about Susannah, Riley’s wife, who is exhausted by work and worry. Drifting toward marriage with Amy, Cole has yet to put aside his anger over Jess. Seeing her stirs up memories of all they shared and the pain that has never healed.

The young soldier dies, the first person in Powell Springs to succumb to the influenza pandemic gripping the world. As more and more townspeople take ill, it is clear that a new war has come to the home front. Now, Jess and Cole work side-by-side as they struggle to save lives, an intimacy that makes it impossible to ignore their feelings for each other. Amid the turmoil, as Jess desperately treats the sick, she incurs the wrath of a minister bent on revenge and becomes the target of a slanderous campaign to keep her from her patients.

Jess has to decide. She can choose to fight on all fronts, or leave, turning her back on her hometown, its people and Cole forever.

Historical novelist Alexis Harrington has entertained readers since her first book was published in 1994. She has been spinning tales of characters and situations that include mail order brides, the Yukon Gold Rush, seafaring, ranching, and protagonists heading west ever since. Her latest, HOME BY MORNING, is the first of her books published as an e-book original. Initially available in 2010, it will be re-released on December 24th electronically and, for the first time, in paperback by Amazon’s new Montlake Romance imprint.

Since that first novel, Homeward Hearts, was published Alexis has written and published ten more books, all historical romances. They include Homeward Hearts, A Light For My Love, A Taste of Heaven, Desperate Hearts, and Harper’s Bride, originally published by New American Library (NAL). Her novels Allie’s Moon, Montana Born and Bred, The Bridal Veil and The Irish Bride were published by St. Martin’s Press. Though Alexis originally published HOME BY MORNING independently, it has since been acquired by Amazon’s Montlake Romance imprint.

Alexis lives in the Pacific Northwest near the Columbia River within ten miles of her old high school. She has numerous pets, including three chickens. In addition to being a writer for the past twenty years, she makes jewelry, is a fine needlework artist specializing in embroidery, thread crochet and sewing. She enjoys cooking, reading, entertaining, and decorating, and is a lover of all things Victorian.
She is currently hard at work on HOME BY NIGHTFALL, which Montlake will publish in July 2012.

Alexis Harrington
Montlake Romance/ Fiction/Simultaneous e-book and Paperback/Republication
On sale 12-24-11/$2.99 e-book ● $14.95 Paperback
ISBN-10: 1612182054 ● ISBN-13: 978-1612182056

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


Price: $4.99

Release Date:

Available Now – Apple’s iBookstore

Available Now – NOOK Book Store

Platforms: iPad, iPhone, iPodTouch, NOOK Tablet, NOOK Color, NOOK app for iPad

Watch and listen as adorable children pose real questions about Santa and his mysterious workshop. Mrs. Claus takes a break from her very busy schedule to answer and invites readers on a tour of the North Pole. Learn some of the best-kept secrets of Christmas from the person who knows it all.

If you’ve ever been baffled by questions like “How does Santa get into houses that don’t have chimneys?” and “Where do elves come from?” then sit down with your precocious child and share MRS. CLAUS EXPLAINS IT ALL. Her answers are precisely what inquisitive children want to know come Christmas!

Luminous illustrations by David Wenzel, bestselling illustrator of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, accompany this enhanced e-book, which contains the full original text as well as fun and engaging audio that elevates the reader experience for both parent and child. MRS. CLAUS EXPLAINS IT ALL brings the magic and wonder of Christmas into a new dimension.

Mrs. Claus Explains It All book Demo from Sourcebooks Inc on Vimeo.

Mental Floss

Review by Nancy

What do you want to know today? How about “Six Works of Literature That Were Really Hard to Write?” or “Moons of the non-Gluteal Variety”. This book can tell you all that and so much more! In a really funny compilation of various subjects the folks at Mental_Floss tell us of things odd and odder but all interesting.

The introduction in itself is worth a chuckle or two and the following chapters make this a great gift for anyone on your Christmas list you haven’t shopped for yet. After all, where else can you find out about Bumpy, Hickey, Chesty and Seven Other Rejected Dwarf Names? If not for someone else, treat yourself, you’ll enjoy it thoroughly

How well do you think you know your inner child? Now’s the time to test your knowledge! Visit the mental_floss Facebook page to take a quiz testing your knowledge and be entered to win a special mental_floss prize package!

This quiz is inspired by mental_floss: The Book: The Greatest Lists in the History of Listory, available now wherever books are sold. For 10 years, the knowledge-seekers at mental_floss Magazine have been hunting and trapping the world’s rarest facts, locking them into captivating lists for the world to admire. Thanks to their tireless efforts, mental_floss: The Book is packed with a decade’s worth of the smartest, quirkiest stories around, including these bookish lists below:

· Six Works of Literature That Were Really Hard to Write

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· Eight Latin Phrases You Pretend to Understand

· Six Words Invented by Authors

· The Little-Known Stories of Five Famous Authors

· Five Famous Phrases People Own

· The Nautical Roots of Six Common Phrases

· Nine Things Mark Twain Didn’t Say (And Nine He Did)

· 10 “Q” Words That Aren’t “Q-U” Words

For more with mental_floss, become a fan on Facebook, follow them on Twitter, and visit their website:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

EDEN: A Zombie Novel

Imagine a world where you lived in a gated community. It was you and your closest friends and neighbors. Sounds nice…so what is the catch? The catch is that you can not venture outside of the walls. For what lies beyond the walls are the remains of another world, where other friends and family may have once resided but they have all turned into zombies. Welcome to Eden.

While, I don’t really judge a book by its cover, I admit that the cover for this book was a bit corny and so, I thought the story would be as well. Nope, the story was better than I expected it to be. While, there were some flaws, I did find myself drawn to the main character Harris. He was just a normal guy, trying to survive. He was smart and had a good personality. Some of the other characters I did find uninteresting and this did take away from the story.

On that note, there was a lot of jumping around between the time lines of past and present and many different characters coming at me that in beginning I was confused. The transfer involving the past and the present was not smooth at all. I do have to give props that there is plenty of action. Right away from page one, the reader finds Harris and his wife, Julie fighting for their lives as their home is invaded by flesh-eating, brain-sucking zombies. This book had elements of Dawn of the Dead. So if you are a zombie fan, you will enjoy this book.

Cold River. This is a definite “read by the fire” kind of tale

Review by Nancy

In an aptly named book, Liz Adair addresses why we shouldn’t go by first impressions and how, in a small town in the Pacific Northwest called Limestone things aren’t nearly as odd as they seem.

Except for some of them. Mandy Steenburg, well-educated young administrator has been hired by the town of Limestone to manage their School District. A new adventure, well-timed for her departure from a married man who won’t take no as an answer and the opportunity to get out of Albuquerque. She expects Limestone kids (and parents) to be typical small town kids and they are, to a point.

Her first welcome isn’t. Glares, sneers, small whispered conversations and a total lack of respect greet her. They all want the “old administrator”, Grange, who is now the Assistant to Mandy, back in the saddle and aren’t afraid to let her know that. She tries her best but it isn’t good enough.

Then things start happening. She rents a beautiful cabin from the manager of the town “C” store and immediately paybacks start. A box of stink bugs. A small fire set on her deck. Poison. Maybe she should just give it up and go and let them have what they want – Grange’s return.

You will warm to the many-faceted characters in this story and be surprised when the end comes, believe me! This is a definite “read by the fire” kind of tale for a snowy day and night. Enjoy!

Purchase a copy here

Monday, December 12, 2011

A Darcy for Everyone! Sourcebooks Celebrates Jane Austen’s Birthday!

From Tuesday December 13th – Friday December 30th the following eBooks will be priced at $1.99 at all online e-tailers. Whether you like Darcy as a tortured vampire, a modern day rock star, a Texas rancher or anything and everything in between! There truly is a Darcy for everyone!

A Darcy Christmas – Carolyn Eberhart, Sharon Lathan and Amanda Grange

Darcys & the Bingleys – Marsha Altman

Darcy’s Voyage – Kara Louise

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star – Heather Lynn Rigaud

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice – Abigail Reynolds

Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One – Sharon Lathan

Mr. Darcy Goes Overboard – Belinda Roberts

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife – Linda Berdoll

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre – Amanda Grange

Pemberley Chronicles – Rebecca Ann Collins

Pemberley Ranch – Jack Caldwell

Searching for Pemberley – Mary Lydon Simonsen

Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy – Sara Angelini

Darcy and Fitzwilliam – Karen V. Wasylowski

You can find all of the titles and information here:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Alphabet of Vietnam

Review by Nancy
In this oddly thought out book, Jonathan Chamberlain tells us many stories. There are brothers Joe and Jack; Joe’s friend Wash; several women who die sadly; a Vietnamese poetess named Ho Xoan Houng who wrote beautiful poems for us; Maddie, Benjy and Alice.

Joe dies purposefully. He did it himself. Dove under a train. It usually works well and did this time, too. Jack is delivered a set of notes that completely changes his hum-drum existence. “Go find Maddie and my baby and get them away from Wash before they die.” Pretty straight forward.

Well, Jack found Wash, Maddie and barely more than a zygote Benjy in the hills of the Eastern Mountains. Maddie was a slave to Wash and to Joe. She wanted to escape and it was up to Jack to make that happen. However – it didn’t quite work that way. Jack wants to learn what Vietnam did to his brother but doesn’t particularly want to know what Joe did in Vietnam. He learns anyhow.

He travels there – sees what Joe saw and thinks on that. He drank bad beer, crawled in caves and learned lessons of poverty and pain. He learned what Joe forgot.

There are people I know who absolutely should not read this book. The people we loved and saw return home changed are among them. Then there are us – the ones who stayed. We need to read this book. We may not want to, but we need to.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Check Your Luck Agency

Review by Nancy
When you work in Singapore, a lot of friends and business associates believe in Luck. Good luck, bad luck, luck of all kinds is sent you by spirits and affects how your life runs.

Ursula Formosa, formerly of the UK but born in Asia; has skipped to Malay. She leaves behind no love life, deceased parents and has enough to “get by”. But she didn’t like to be idle so picks up a job from Fiona Li at the Check Your Luck Agency. Problems with a lease? Lover dumps you cold? Things that go bump in the night? Ursula is on it for you!

She actually can see things that you and I can’t but has tried her entire life to ignore them. Seems as though her boss and a co-worker knows she can see things but they don’t discuss it. Fiona does, however; put Ursula into a rather odd situation as co-partner of a new television show called “Hunting Hantu”. “Ghost Hunters.” Her anchor in this endeavor is a much-sought after male model named Shariff Kadir. Once she meets him, she knows why everyone wants him – she does, too!

I believe this short novel is the beginning of something great and hope I get to review the rest of the stories as well. This is a great afternoon’s pleasure – enjoy!

Purchase a copy here

Monday, December 5, 2011

Specific Impluse

Review by Nancy

When your first introduction to someone is being tackled you in the middle of a meteor crater, it may give you pause. Or, if you happen to be Dr. Carin Gonzales; you turn around and whack them upside the head before asking “why?” Jake Sabio heard the fragment of space before it was visible and felt the need to ground everyone around him.

Something in the fragment changed them all. No one but Jake and Carin would handle the change and they were dying as well, only slower. They just may die of “lead poisoning” before the new disease kills them as they are now being hunted by the CIA, and a very elusive killer named Crowbar.

Backstories have Jake’s children and ex-wife killed by Crowbar as a way to take out her new husband in his “master plan” to control the CIA and all of its various parts. Carin has worked with MI (Mechanical Intelligence) and has reconstructed a robot named Fred who is much more advanced that R2-D2 (and smaller). Jake has justice on his side and Carin has her stubbornness and Fred on hers.

Jake and Carin are dying and Fred is busy chatting inter-space with his new friend named MATR. The humans on the ground have named MATR Morrigan and think it’s a spaceship. Got it in one! Jake and Carin need to rendezvous with MATR ASAP or they will die a very painful death. Crowbar and gang, plus the CIA are determined not to let that meeting happen.

Hang on to your seats while reading this book! It has action from page one and well done action at that! Mr. Justiz has done a great job of researching his characters and Fred is just one great little robot. A great Christmas gift for yourself or your favorite Sci-Fi fan.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Summer in Europe is a breathtaking trip that will have you wanting to book yourself another trip with Marilyn Brant as soon as possible!

Gwen and her boyfriend, Richard have been dating for a while, Gwen has a feeling that Richard is going to propose to her on her birthday. Instead of a ring, Gwen receives a pair of pearl earrings. After Gwen’s Aunt learns that Richard did not propose to Gwen, she figures that this is the best time to tell Gwen that she and Gwen will be traveling to Europe. There is just one catch. Gwen and her Aunt will be joined by Gwen’s Aunt’s S and M club members.

While in Europe, Gwen meets Emerson. Emerson is teaching Gwen the finer things to life and all that Europe has to offer.

I enjoyed this book. It had all the things I liked about Mrs. Brant…humor, interesting characters, and a scenic location. I was laughing at the antics of Gwen’s Aunt’s S and M club. It just goes to show you that no matter what age you are, you can be into S and M (sudoku and mah-jongg that is).

In the beginning, I was not feeling Gwen so much. She was in Europe and all she wanted to do is complain and compare the dashing, and nice Emerson to douche-bag, Richard. I felt myself getting turned off by Gwen and yelling at her to let her hair down and have fun. Her Aunt and everyone else are. Thus, due to Gwen being so uptight in the beginning, I was not seeing the chemistry involving Gwen and Emerson. After Gwen did loosen up, I thought she and Emerson made a cute couple. A Summer in Europe is a breathtaking trip that will have you wanting to book yourself another trip with Marilyn Brant as soon as possible!

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Maggie Larkin was trying her hardest to put up with reality, rich snob, Rafe de Luca but he touched her butt one too many times. Plus, Rafe’s comment about the Larkin sisters has made Maggie see red. The next thing Maggie is giving Rafe a bloody nose.

Cal Drummond was watching Rafe. He knew what Maggie was going to do before she did it but he was too late to stop her. Cal makes his way to Maggie and rushes her out of the bar before the paparazzi get to her. Cal has been tracking Rafe for a while. It seems that one of Rafe’s hobbies involves killing the women that he has been with. One of those women is Cal’s sister. Cal will not let the same fate fall upon Maggie.

What I like most about Mrs. Ambrose’s books is her humor. Maggie was the one that brought the laughs. She did it with her strong personality when it came to Cal. She never would admit when Cal was right. She always had to put in her two cents and this would cause for some entertaining, witty banter. The romance between Cal and Maggie was alright. I would have liked the heat level to be turned up a couple of notches. When Maggie and Cal finally had sex was not until about the middle of the book. Than they never really did it again. They were too busy trying to stay out of trouble and giving into their needs again.

The excerpt in the back of the book had a preview of the next book involving Maggie’s sister, Zoe. I can not wait to read that book. It looks like it is going to be excellent. Silver Sparks is a sparkling read full of fun, action, witty banter, and romance