Thursday, May 23, 2024

NBtM Virtual Book Tour: The Big Comb Over by J.P. Rieger


Guest Post

The Big Comb Over – The Background Story

J.P. Rieger © 2024

Kids, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a novel called The Big Comb Over. It’s a whacky mashup of comedy and fantasy, set both in Baltimore, Maryland and London, England. Here’s the background.

I’ve always enjoyed traveling to London. I’ve visited London on vacations at least a half dozen times over the past few decades. I always feel at home and my spouse and I really enjoy West End theater. And there is no better theater than in London.  Now, as a born and bred Baltimorean, I’ve come to realize (or been made to realize) that perhaps I have a Baltimore accent? Yes, maybe a mild version compared to many of my compatriots, but, yeah, it’s there, hon. In London I detected accents not dissimilar to my own but voiced by locals. It seemed ironic to me that an accent heard commonly in Essex, Maryland could potentially be found, at least to some degree, in Essex, England. What would happen if a group of less than sophisticated Baltimoreans, including a rugged Essex, Maryland waterman, descended upon London for a royal wedding? What if the bride, Lady Florence Stour, hailed from Essex, England? What sort of mischief and confusion could ensue? Well, plenty.

I’m a fan of that ancient literary institution, the comedy of manners. Mistaken identities, misinterpreted conversations and confused motives are all stirred together through coincidence and circumstance, often with the aid of a prankster or mischief maker. The Big Comb Over is my take on a comedy of manners. It features three nephews and their eccentric uncles. Uncle Roland is a mildly hypochondriacal actor obsessed with his hair, or more accurately, his lack of the same. Uncle Roy is a likeable waterman who travels no farther than his local supermarket, save for vacations “downy ocean” (Ocean City, Maryland).  Nephew Desales is in full pranking mode. And now they are in London. What could possibly go wrong?

But the royal wedding theme is just part of the story. A parallel theme revolves around another uncle who calls himself “tim tim.” Tim tim is convinced that he is a descendant of an ancient race of supernatural people who’ve been directed by God to help others. He believes that this “mission” is handed down from uncle to nephew and tries to convince his wary nephew, Robbie, that he is heir apparent to the mission. He also believes that he and Robbie receive superhero powers at key moments to assist them in the mission. A momentary glance of a very familiar, encouraging face signals that the time is right to act.

As a kid I always loved science fiction (and still do) and often thought about time travel. What if a person, now older, could travel back in time to simply observe their younger self from a safe distance? (Obviously, direct interaction would be forbidden to prevent temporal paradoxes). I speculated that if time travel became possible in the future, wouldn’t a person, presently, want to keep a lookout for an individual who resembled an older version of themselves? I knew that the future “me” would definitely take advantage of any available time travel and pay a visit. So, as a kid with an overactive imagination, I would occasionally keep an eye out for older persons that I felt might look like me. There were a few I’d glance upon that seemed “possible,” but no decisive sightings, of course. 

Later, I learned that many people do actually experience the phenomenon of “seeing themselves.” Psychiatrists call this “autoscopy” or the “syndrome of subjective doubles.” Thus, I decided to use the idea of tim tim essentially seeing himself as a theme. The theme tied in nicely with tim tim’s quasi-gnostic religious persuasion, which centers on the importance of seeing and knowing oneself. In fact, the original title of the novel was The Man Who Saw Himself. But that early title didn’t communicate the sense of comedy. And The Big Comb Over, although a little bittersweet, is definitely a comedy. 

And that, kids, is the story behind The Big Comb Over. 


Three nephews and three eccentric uncles.

---------

It’s 2050 and Robbie Elders has all but forgotten about his oddball, religious fanatic uncle, tim tim. He’s taken up the latest fad, genealogical research based solely on DNA. But Robbie’s “inconclusive” DNA results are unsettling. He crashes back to his childhood, back to his world of comic books and tim tim.


“I opt for posh and London” declares Lady Florence Stour. It’s 2019 and time for a Royal Wedding. Robbie’s uncle, Stef, is engaged to Lady Florence, a distant member of the British royal family. Stef’s Baltimore clan have been invited, but Robbie’s mom and dad can’t attend. They’ve entrusted Robbie and big brother, Doyle, to their mom’s two eccentric brothers, uncles Roy and Roland. Roy, a weathered waterman with a severe Baltimore accent, lives for Maryland blue crabs. Roland, a mildly hypochondriacal actor, lives to survive the Karens he unavoidably encounters. And then there’s Desales, Roy’s smart aleck, teenage son. He lives to prank. They’ve descended upon London. What could possibly go wrong?


Meanwhile, tim tim has been coaching Robbie on “the mission.” A silly religious fantasy according to Robbie’s atheist parents and the therapists. Or perhaps not? Things are not always as they appear in The Big Comb Over.



Excerpt


Roland looked at the bottle in awe. “Fletcher’s Dry Shampoo – Hint of Almond.” He looked over the directions and ingredients on the back. “Wow! It’s gluten-free and approved by PETA, too!” He handed back the bottle, gingerly, as though it were an egg.


“Yes! So, I’ll get things started, today, but when you use it, remember to follow the instructions carefully. You have to shake the thing like a bastard.”


He pulled off the top cap and shook the bottle frantically. 


“Okay, shield your eyes with your hands, Roland.”


Morris began carefully spraying the bald spot. The bottle produced several quick spurts—the initial “targeting” move. He then pulled the can back several inches and sprayed in a wider arc, slowly filling in the surrounding areas. Excess brown powder fell gently onto the cape; iron filings mixed with cinnamon. 


“Yes, there we go! Success! Let me give it a brush-through and a good zhuzh!”


Morris began to carefully run the boar’s hairbrush through the mixture of hair and powdered shampoo. There was that one tricky area, so he gave it another quick blast with the aerosol can. He completed brushing and found the most optimal place for the all-important part. Something natural. Avoiding the comb-over effect was difficult. Balance . . . balance . . .


He then gave Roland’s hair a quick blast with the hair dryer. Not too much, as there was not much to dry. The shampoo had absorbed most of the hemp oil treatment. He put the dryer aside and gave Roland’s hair a two-handed, final zhuzh. He spun the chair around, dramatically, and placed a hand mirror in front of Roland’s face so that he could check out the back.


“Looky loo, Sir Roland! Nary a hint of . . . deficiency!”


Roland looked with disbelief. He no longer had that bald spot! It was gone!


“Oh dear Lord, Morris! You are a genius! Look at this! Michelangelo!” He handed back the mirror, stunned.


“Thank you, thank you!” Morris took a quick bow and rapidly turned the chair back around, causing Roland some dizziness. “Now, let me hit you with a finishing spray to hold everything in place!”


He dramatically removed the top of the hairspray aerosol and shook the can furiously. He sprayed the mist in a near random fashion near the scalp and then away from the scalp and then back toward and quickly away again—a symphony conductor of a twelve-tone sound poem.


He spun Roland around again and thrust the mirror before his face. “What do you think?!”


“Yes, yes, Morris, this is perfect! This is what I’ve been waiting for . . . dreaming about!”



J. Paul (J.P.) Rieger is a born and bred Baltimorean and mostly retired Maryland attorney. As such, he’s well acquainted with the quirkiness and charm of Baltimore’s unique citizens. He’s author of Clonk!, a police farce set in Baltimore and published in 2023 by Apprentice House Press (Loyola University-Baltimore). He’s also author of The Case Files of Roderick Misely, Consultant, a mystery novel featuring a wannabe lawyer anti-hero. The Big Comb Over, a slipstream comedy of manners featuring three nephews and their three eccentric uncles, is Paul’s third novel. Paul is married and lives in Towson, Maryland. 


Website: http://www.jpaulrieger.net




Giveaway


A randomly drawn winner will receive a $25 Amazon/BN gift card - a Rafflecopter giveaway.


Blurb Blitz: Conflict of Interest by Dean L. Hovey

CONFLICT OF INTEREST

Dean L. Hovey


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GENRE:  Mystery/Police Procedural


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When the body of a missing cheerleader is found in a ditch, the local police turn the investigation over to the Pine County sheriff’s department, fearing that the girl’s relationship with the son of a local politician could compromise their objectivity.


Upon arriving at the scene, Sergeant CJ Jensen quickly finds herself embroiled in the politics of the girl’s murder and kidnapping. Calling in Pam Ryan to assist with the investigation, the two veteran officers dig into the girl’s obvious relationship with the politician’s son. While the boyfriend’s shaky alibi seems paper thin, their interviews with the victim’s friends have them questioning other aspects of her life.


A missing laptop computer piques their interest, making them think the murderer’s motive may be buried in her on-line activities.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~


EXCERPT:


In addition to Floyd’s SUV, two Kanabec County Sheriff’s Department vehicles and an ambulance were parked on the narrow gravel road. The road disappeared into watery ditches on both sides, the washboard gravel surface spotted with mucky frost boils. CJ parked behind Floyd and announced her location to the dispatcher. She walked ahead to join the somber group of people gathered in front of the lead vehicle.


Bathed in headlights and flashing red and blues, an obese man with a gray crew cut waved his arms and swore. CJ found it disconcerting that the person apparently in charge would curse at the others like a madman. As CJ approached, Floyd put his hand on the man’s shoulder and pointed toward her. That ended the tirade.


“CJ, this is Sheriff Tim Sanders. Tim, this is Sergeant Jensen who’ll be taking over the investigation.”


The sheriff glared at CJ, taking her full measure before speaking. “It’s about time you got here. We’ve been standing around with thumbs up our butts for about two hours waiting for you to grace us with your presence.”


CJ froze, trying to frame a response. Floyd grabbed the sheriff by the arm and turned him away from CJ, then steered him to a spot apart from the gathered group. A man who appeared to be the senior deputy on the scene nodded and walked over, offering his hand. 


“I’m Teddy and this is our newest deputy, Kayla. Please excuse the sheriff. He’s got a short fuse, especially when he’s been dragged out of bed in the middle of the night.”


Although none of Floyd’s words were audible, his demeanor reminded CJ of a terrier growling at an overweight Labrador retriever. They watched as Floyd stuck his finger in the sheriff’s face and hissed something that obviously struck a nerve. The sheriff glanced at CJ, then back to Floyd before saying something that made Floyd nod.


A male and female EMT stood between the lead cruiser and the ambulance. Nodding toward the approaching sheriff, the male EMT whispered. “Uh oh, Teddy. Prepare to have your short hairs singed.”


The sheriff’s face was impassive until he walked up to CJ and extended his hand. “I’m sorry we got off on the wrong foot.”


Gripping the sheriff’s hand firmly, CJ nodded. “I appreciate your apology.”


The sheriff, whose scalp glistened with sweat despite the cold air, jammed his hands in his pockets. “Tell Teddy and Kayla what you need, and they’ll do whatever they can to assist you. Do you want the ambulance crew to stay, or do you have other plans?”


“Assuming there’s no question the victim is past resuscitation, we’ll keep the ambulance crew to help with the lifting. I called the Duluth Medical Examiner.”


The sheriff’s face started to turn red. “We pay a retainer to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office.”



~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dean Hovey is a Minnesota-based author with three mystery series. He lives with his wife south of Duluth.


Dean’s award-winning* Pine County series follows sheriff’s deputies Floyd Swenson and Pam Ryan through this police procedural series.


Dean’s Whistling Pines books are humorous cozy mysteries centered on the residents of the Whistling Pines senior residence. The protagonist is Peter Rogers, the Whistling Pines recreation director.


In Dean’s latest series  his protagonist, a retired Minnesota policeman, is drafted into service as a National Park Service Investigator after a murder at a National Monument.


* “Family Trees: A Pine County Mystery” won the 2018 NEMBA award for best fiction.


https://bookswelove.net/hovey-dean/


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GIVEAWAY


Dean L. Hovey will award a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner.


Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Crossing Day by William A. Glass Virtual Book Tour

 



Guest Post

So, I’ve been challenged by Momma to convince readers to read my novel, Crossing Day. To a former sales and marketing exec who some called a “rainmaker,” this is a worthy challenge. It reminds me of a standard interview ploy sales managers used back in the day. They would hand an aspiring applicant a pen from their pocket and say, “Sell me this pen.” 

The standard approach for most applicants to this interview question back then was to launch into a laudatory description of the pen, pointing out all its amazing features. Where applicants often failed, was in coupling the benefit to the user of each feature. For example, the more astute applicants wouldn’t just say, “Sir, this pen has a fabulous screw-on cap.” He or she would say, “Sir, this pen’s patented screw-on cap will prevent ink from leaking. The clip will keep the pen secure in your pocket, so it won’t fall out when you bend down to tie your shoes.”

Nowadays, sales training has advanced. So, before discussing the features and benefits, a well-schooled salesperson would find out why the prospective buyer is considering purchasing the product in the first place. So, if thrown that interview question today, my first words to the interviewer would be, “Sir, please tell me what you are looking for in a pen?” and I might follow up with, “How do you plan to use it.” After a few more queries along this line, I could tune my pitch to the buyer's needs, giving me a much better chance to close the sale. 

Now, if you’ve read this far, you’re probably wondering if I’m ever going to address Momma’s challenge to convince you to read Crossing Day. But in a way, I have answered it. My point is that I don’t know enough about you to proceed. If we were talking face-to-face and I asked what you look for in a book, and you said, “I strictly read Westerns.” My approach would be to recommend a couple of Westerns by my favorite writers in that genre, and I would not recommend my book. Only if you told me that you have wide-ranging reading interests and just want to be entertained or that you love to read thrilling stories set in speculative worlds would I suggest my novel, Crossing Day.

William A. Glass


It's been one hundred and sixty years since the Confederacy won its independence at the Battle of Altamaha Crossing. Slaves of African descent still perform most of the work in the South. This seems normal to Ryan Walters and his friends who attend high school in Huntsville, Alabama. Like teens everywhere, they enjoy sharing videos, playing sports, and hanging out with friends. Jaybird's drive-in is their favorite gathering place. There, they befriend Mish, a slave girl who works as a car hop. When the drive-in’s owner sells Mish to a dirty old man, Ryan and his friends awaken to the injustice around them. Despite the danger, they decide to help Mish escape. Will they succeed?


Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Crossing-Day-William-Glass-ebook/dp/B0CW8HBGV4/



Excerpt


The referee blows her whistle and points to the Joseph Johnston High School goal. It’s a foul, just outside the penalty area. Hastily, several defenders form a wall. Liam Larsen, the goalkeeper, shouts directions. 


“Block that kick, block that kick,” the Johnston cheerleaders yell. 


Melanie Montgomery, wearing her purple and gold cheerleader outfit, catches the eye of one of the boys on the squad. He nods as she runs toward him and then leaps, placing her foot into his waiting hands. Melanie’s world dissolves into a swirl of color. She comes to earth with a thud. 


“Nice landing,” the boy says.


“Thanks.” Melanie glances at the scoreboard and sees that despite their efforts, another goal has been added to the visitor’s tally. “I hate these German schools,” she pouts.


“Yeah, they act like they invented the game,” one of the other cheerleaders exclaims.


There’s no injury time added in high school soccer, so the match comes to a screeching halt when the clock winds down and the buzzer goes off. Most players line up to shake hands, but three of the Germans laugh and walk off. Their coach gives a Hitler salute to the Johnston stands. A chorus of boos greets his gesture.


“Everyone on the line,” Sam Gorman, the Johnston soccer coach, shouts. He crosses his arms and glares at his players threateningly until the whole team is on the touchline. “All right, Ryan,” he says to the team captain, “cool down.”



Bill is a retired business executive who now lives in a small southern town with his wife, Bettina. She’s a retired high school German teacher. Bill coaches soccer at a small college. Often, Bettina, who has a commercial driver’s license, pilots the soccer team bus to away games. 


Bettina and Bill have three sons, Alex, Robert, and Gordon who have all graduated from college and moved away to pursue careers. Instead of having an empty nest, Bettina and Bill now host three rescue dogs. They enjoy finding promising hiking trails to explore with their dogs.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/william.glass.50767

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/williamasaglass

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/WilliamAGlass3 

LinkedIn:  https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-glass-1281609/

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20170818.William_A_Glass 

LibraryThing:  https://www.librarything.com/profile/Glaswa4611



Giveaway


William A. Glass will award a $25 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter.


Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Book Blast: Exiles by L.J. Ambrosio

 



Welcome to the Launch Day Book Blast for EXILES, a Literary Fiction/Coming of Age by L.J. Ambrosio, organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author will award a $20 Amazon/BN GC, an autographed copy of the book, or a dragonfly necklace to three randomly drawn winners. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.




In this final chapter, Ron's story concludes from Reflections on the Boulevard (2023). Michael's wish was for Ron to exile himself in the heart of Paris with its beautiful culture and citizens as they protest and fight for the soul of the city. Ron's journey is met with life-affirming friendships and lessons along the way. The final book in the Reflections of Michael Trilogy, which started with A Reservoir Man (2022).





Read an Excerpt

A cool autumn breeze, in the twilight, wrapped around our exile who sat on a bench in front of a bookstore that resembled a place we might find in a Tolkien novel. On this street, rue de la Buccheri, was the bookstore Shakespeare and Company. The store itself was famous for housing the books of many great literary artists on their shelves. They also supported any young or old artistic vagabonds by allowing them to sleep in the aisles of the bookstore on makeshift beds when finding themselves homeless.

Ron, who managed the store, sat on this bench every evening thinking of Michael. Ron thought of things he remembered and how much he learnt from Michael. He felt the emptiness in his soul, yearning to have that connection just one more time. He had lived in Paris for six years now, a brief time for an exile, yet he was free from a society drowning in untruths; his refuge was the bookstore.

Just like every night, as Ron prepared to close the store, he occasionally checked the front of the store, looking for his friend. Then, he noticed another young man still looking at books on the outside shelves.

Ron moved outside to get a closer look at the late customer under the guise of moving the outdoor book bins back inside. He suddenly noticed that the young man was putting a book down his pants.

Ron raised his voice and shouted for the thief to put the book back on the shelf. The young man, caught in the act, ran away.

The young man sprinted and tripped while running past the café. In this stumble, he decided to turn the corner and make his way rapidly toward la Seine.

About the Author:

Louis J. Ambrosio ran one of the most nurturing bi-coastal talent agencies in Los Angeles and New York. He started his career as a theatrical producer, running two major regional theaters for eight seasons. Ambrosio taught at 7 Universities. Ambrosio also distinguished himself as an award-winning film producer and novelist over the course of his impressive career.


Monday, May 20, 2024

✱✱Book Review✱✱ Pulse by Adriana Locke

 

USA Today bestselling author Adriana Locke delivers a spicy, age gap, grumpy sunshine, workplace romance in the first book in the brand new Landry Security series.

Troy Castelli acts like it’s my fault that we’re cooped up together in a room with one bed overlooking the ocean. I didn’t ask for a stalker to break into my house and then send me a threatening email detailing my demise. And I sure as heck didn’t request that my boss send Troy and his uber elite bodyguard skills to accompany me out of town—although I’m not mad about it.

A paid tropical vacation with a grumpy, gray-eyed bad boy in a suit isn’t exactly a burden.

But it is a giant test of my willpower.

Troy’s alpha protector tendencies drive me wild. His arrogant smirk gets under my skin. But it’s his not-so-innocent touches, heated looks and touch-her-and-die vibes that are the final strike that ignite our explosive chemistry.

The longer we’re together, the more his broody exterior slips, and I get a glimpse of the real man beneath the sculpted muscles. I’m determined not only to unearth his mysterious past but also to make him realize what we have is more than just a fling in paradise.

That is, unless my stalker gets me first.

Momma Says: 4 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐

Pulse is a quick read with surprisingly little angst, given the premise. Turns out, it was just what I needed this week, and I enjoyed the banter between Troy and Dahlia. The grumpy/sunshine vibe works well for this couple and their forced proximity. The chemistry is good, if a little rushed, and I feel like the stalker angle could've been more in-depth, but again, it is a quick read, and the romance is first and foremost here. Basically, if you're looking for a fast-paced romance with a touch of suspense, Pulse is a good choice. It's the start of a new series by Adriana Locke, so it's a win-win. 


Blurb Blitz: One Take Jake: Last Call by Jay Lang

 ONE TAKE JAKE: LAST CALL

Jay Lang

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Mystery

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Avenging the death of his sister, Lance, a once successful musician turned vigilante killer, has never denied his guilt…but knows now he could've handled things differently.

With dwindling hope after two years in the joint – and three life sentences ahead of him – Lance seizes his one opportunity for a life out of chains. With the help of loyal friends – straight-laced Reg and ex-druggie Jenny – Lance busts out of prison. He then begins his journey with Jenny to New York, where her street-wise Uncle Dusty will provide a safe hiding place, fake IDs, and a plan to get across the Mexican border.

However, it isn’t long before Jenny’s bad habits resurface, bringing heat on them both. They lose Dusty as an ally after he's tortured by gangsters over money Jenny had supposedly stolen. In a strange country with Feds and gangsters on his tail, Lance is forced to lead the rapidly deteriorating journey south.

Just above the Mexican border, the two are cornered at a motel, their chances of survival slim. Still, Lance has hope. That is, until he learns the awful truth – a truth that leaves him alone in his final, desperate fight for freedom.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

EXCERPT:

Waking up in my six-by-eight cell this morning, I wasn’t sure if I’d have the balls to go through with it. 


But with everything to gain and nothing to lose, I’d be a fool to pass up the one chance I have at freedom. 


Strategy, patience, and timing are everything. There are always eyes watching, especially when you’re a convicted murderer.


* * *


The bell chimes for chow-time, but I stay in my bunk. It’s all part of the plan. A couple of bulls stroll past my door and casually glance at me, then continue on down the cell block. 


I close my eyes and drift into the safe rooms of my mind. I’ve had this interesting riff playing on a loop in my head for weeks. I grin and tap my fingers on my chest.

The only rhythm in this soul-sucking institution is the hum of electricity that seeps from the industrial lighting overhead. 

A sudden pain stabs my eyelids. In the arid chill of my cell, the headaches coupled with nosebleeds are a welcoming reminder that I can still feel. 

I turn to the brick wall and use my imagination to draw another line, marking another day spent in this hell hole. I’ve managed to survive two years and a month toward my life sentence. Keeping track of time is like throwing stones into a bottomless pit and waiting to hear them hit bottom – they never do. Still, I refuse to accept that I’ll live out my days in this institution, watching my body rot and my soul be slowly absorbed into the cold cement walls to join the poor bastards who’ve succumbed before me. 

I’ve only got one hat-trick. A one-off scheme that others have tried and failed at repeatedly. But I’m nothing like my fellow inmates. Granted, I butchered three people and left a hell of a mess – too sloppy. I was careless and made mistakes. But for the most part I’ve navigated life with logic and forethought; the same approach I’ll be using to excute my plan.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

ABOUT the AUTHOR:

Jay Lang grew up on the ocean, splitting her time between Read Island and Vancouver Island before moving to Vancouver to work as a TV, film and commercial actress. Eventually she left the industry for a quieter life. She fell in love with creative writing and spends her days hiking and drawing inspiration for her writing from nature.


Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/stores/author/B084F8MQJJ

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6463953.Jay_Lang

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GIVEAWAY

Jay Hall will be awarding a $15 Amazon/BN gift card to a randomly drawn winner.


Book Blast: Toasted by Isobel Reed



This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Isobel Reed will award a $10 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

Welcome to Woodvalley Pines…where hunky firefighters save the day! It’s time to turn up the heat and hope this smokin’ hot fireman can control the blaze.

Libby hadn’t even been in Woodvalley Pines a day and she was already freaking out. Her kitchen had just set on fire. From toast of all things! That’s right, she was the victim of the elusive toaster fire. Yes, a toaster. Who knew they could just spontaneously burst into flames? She certainly didn’t. If that wasn’t enough to ruin her day, a swarm of hot firefighters seeing her in her pink pajamas would do it.

Zach tried his hardest not to laugh as the woman in the Disney pajamas accused him of keeping toaster fire safety a secret. He didn’t know where in the world this angry green-eyed princess had come from, but he had to admit that he was intrigued. After all, if she had this much passion when it came to talking toasters, what other kind of flames could he stoke in her?

Libby and Zach’s spark was instant, but will the fire burn out or can they keep the flames blazing?


Read an Excerpt

“You okay, ma’am? Neighbor reported he heard screaming.”

Oh sh**.

“Oh, yeah. There was screaming. I mean, yes, I did scream. But it was more like a release, y’know? Like, when you’re having a really sh**ty day and you scream into a pillow. It was kinda like that.” For the love of God, stop talking. “Anyway, yeah, I’m fine. All good. Hunky-dory.”

Hunky-dory? Really? And screaming into pillows? Way to embarrass yourself in front of the handsome firefighters. Are your Disney pajamas not enough humiliation for you? Do you want to detail your hair removal regime next?

Luckily, the other man decided not to comment. He simply nodded, for which Libby was grateful. Once he’d given Zach a quick update on the cause of the fire – that blasted toaster – he disappeared and left the two of them alone again.

Turns out, just the mention of the toaster was enough to bring back her rage.

“Did you know toasters just sometimes set on fire? When exactly did that become a thing? And why aren’t there more people talking about it?”

Zach incorrectly thought that clearing his throat would be enough to mask his snigger. “Uh, well, any old appliances can be a potential fire hazard. With toasters, a build-up of breadcrumbs can also act as fuel to the fire.”

“What the hell? I didn’t know that, Zach. Why didn’t I know that? Is this some big firefighter secret or something? ‘Cause I’m telling you right now, people need to know this! I’m thirty-one, Zach. Thirty-one! And never in my life would I have thought I could be making toast one day and then … boom! Fire! People need to be told. They need to know, damnit!”

Okay, it was safe to say this was not her finest moment. She was well aware ranting about toaster fires while sitting on the curb – in just her miniscule, bright pink shorts and vest top – was giving off batsh** crazy vibes. But she clearly just couldn’t help herself. Once she got a look at his expression, the crazy continued.

“Are you laughing at me?”

“No, ma’am.”

“You are … you’re laughing at me!”

“Smiling. I’m smiling at you. There’s a big difference.”

About the Author:
Isobel was born and raised in London. She still lives along the River Thames with her husband, her son, and her substantial book collection. Ever the hopeless romantic, she fell in love with the genre from a young age and was inspired to write her own stories. When she's not feasting on romantic comedies or binge reading her hoard of contemporary romance novels, Isobel is writing.

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@isobelreedbooks
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/isobelreedbooks
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/isobelreedbooks
Website: https://www.isobelreed.net/
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/isobelreed
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/Isobel_Reed
Book Bub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/isobel-reed

BUY LINKS:

AMAZON: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0CWZJ3JQS
KOBO: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/toasted-2
BN: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/toasted-isobel-reed/1145009200
APPLE: https://books.apple.com/us/book/toasted/id6478872311
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/209449629-toasted
BOOKBUB: https://www.bookbub.com/books/toasted-love-burns-series-book-1-by-isobel-reed

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NBtM Virtual Book Tour: The Big Comb Over by J.P. Rieger

Guest Post The Big Comb Over – The Background Story J.P. Rieger © 2024 Kids, let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, there was a novel c...