From the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of THE SILENT GIRLS comes another unforgettable thriller set in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, featuring Detective Sonja Test
Even in a quiet Vermont town, unspeakable acts of the past can destroy the peace of the present
In the remote, pastoral hamlet of Canaan, Vermont, a high-profile legal case shatters the town’s sense of peace and community. Anger simmers. Fear and prejudice awaken. Old friends turn on each other. Violence threatens.
So when a young teenage girl is savagely murdered while babysitting at the house of the lead attorney in the case, Detective Sonja Test believes the girl’s murder and the divisive case must be linked.
However, as the young detective digs deeper into her first murder case, she discovers sordid acts hidden for decades, and learns that behind the town’s idyllic façade of pristine snow lurks a capacity in some for great darkness and the betrayal of innocents. And Sonja Test, a mother of two, will do anything to protect the innocent.
Eric Rickstad is the New York Times bestselling author of THE SILENT GIRLS, a #1 bestselling Nook and #3 Mystery Kindle novel heralded as intelligent and profound, dark, disturbing, and heartbreaking. His first novel Reap, a literary suspense novel, was a New York Times Noteworthy Novel. He lives in his home state of Vermont with his lovely wife and daughter.
The Fresh Pick is chosen by a group of readers and is never a purchased advertisement or promotion. We’ve picked this book because it appeals to us and we like to share our diverse tastes in reading and hope you’ll give it a try.
In the next Vegas Vixens novel, TATTOOED AS TROUBLE, from Entangled Publishing, Raegan Storm enters the Witness Protection Program after witnessing a murder only to lose her heart to the U.S. Marshal sworn to protect her. This isn’t just any U.S. Marshal, but the ruggedly handsome Quinn Bronson. He takes his job as a marshal seriously and by the book, that is until he has to guard the lovely Rae Storm. And boy, does she turn his world upside down. Like the other vixens in the series, she is TROUBLE. But Bronson would rather face hit men than deal with his intense attraction for Rae, a woman that is strictly off limits.
Now creating the character of Bronson took some research. As I uncovered what made the man tick, I discovered some interesting facts about the U.S. Marshals.
The Witness Security Program has successfully protected an estimated 18,400 participants since the program began in 1971.
The marshals arrest 400 fugitives every day on average.
The U.S. Marshals operate the federal Witness Security Program, sometimes referred to as the “Witness Protection Program.”
The marshals claim a perfect success rate, with no witnesses being harmed while under protection as long as all security procedures were followed.
When it came to researching the U.S. Marshals, one thing was for sure: a lot of the inner mechanics were a mystery. For obvious reasons, the marshals don’t want to broadcast the ins and outs of their business of saving lives. However, one of the most interesting tidbits of information I used in the story was from an interview where a marshal mentioned that he would ask witnesses where their favorite place in the U.S. was and then he’d place them in exactly the opposite. The reason behind this was because if their friends knew where they’d like to be, so would the bad guys. In the excerpt below I worked this into the story.
“What’s your favorite place in the U.S.?”
She frowned at him and then grabbed an Oreo. Twisting the two pieces, she finally got it separated. “I don’t know. Why?”
“Just curious. Humor me. If you could live anywhere what would it be like?”
“Well, I haven’t been to many places outside of Illinois and Indiana.” She pursed her lips. “Um, I guess it would be someplace cool for sure. I hate the heat. Oh, and with trees…I’ve always wanted to see the coast of California. I went to the ocean once and loved it.” Rae ate the piece of the Oreo with the frosting.
“The California coast’s nice.” He rocked back in his chair then lowered it to the ground. Too bad that would be the last location she’d be placed. Bronson shoved away the guilt. She’d never get her dream place because she had to be relocated somewhere her friends and family would least expect. So it couldn’t be a cooler climate with trees or near the ocean.
As you can imagine Rae is not too pleased when she discovers her placement. Thank you so much for stopping by for the inside scoop on how my hero from TATTOOED AS TROUBLE came to life and became the memorable Quinn Bronson. I love to chat with readers and you can connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and, of course, my website.
J.L. Hammer is a California girl and enjoys living in her small mountain town with her husband and two children. She loves to write fast-paced novels filled with suspense, romantic tension, and gripping action. She is a member of the International Thriller Writers and the Romance Writers of America.
When she isn’t writing or lost in the pages of a good book, she loves traveling, listening to country music, or just enjoying a nice glass of wine. Visit J.L. online to discover her other exciting novels.
For Raegan “Rae” Storm, the trouble in her life is as permanent as the tattoo stamped on her shoulder. After witnessing a double murder, she becomes the target of a bloodthirsty mafia and enters the Witness Protection Program in exchange for her testimony. With her life on the line, the last thing she expects is to lose her heart to the mysterious, handsome Quinn Bronson, the U.S. Marshal protecting her.
Driven by honor and his commitment to his job, Bronson rescues Rae from threats time and time again, but fighting off hit men is easier than ignoring his attraction for the one woman he should never desire: the witness. As danger presses in on Bronson and Rae, neither knows whom they can trust, and their forbidden love could be what destroys them.
For the Sandy Harbor Lure newspaper: HOLIDAY TRADITIONS
By Trixie Matkowski
In this busy world, there are some traditions during the holidays that comfort us and bring back lovely memories.
For instance, on Christmas Eve, we kids would wait to hear Santa’s footsteps and the reindeer hooves on the roof. No matter how hard we tried to stay up, we’d never hear them. But, without fail, the next morning when we looked, there would be some packed snow on the roof.
It was years before we figured out that my father was the one walking on the roof!
Holiday baking is another tradition. Certain families have special fruitcake recipes (and you know who you are), or an ethnic specialty like babka or kugel or those Italian cookies made at Christmas (sure would love some of those hard chocolate ones!). Juanita Holgado, one of my cooks at the Silver Bullet Diner, makes a caramel flan which is to die for. Making these specialties once a year makes them….well, special.
My long-time friend, Mary Ann, uses lovely dishes brought over from Poland by her great-grandmother. I can’t wait to set out my Lenox Holiday set. I have another set just for tea.
Speaking of food, which I always do, I celebrate the Polish tradition of going meatless on Christmas Eve. All my guests look forward to potato pierogi, kapusta (sauerkraut with yellow split peas), mushroom gravy, and special onion rolls. Yum.
I usually make twelve dozen pierogi, some of which I give as gifts. Half the fun is inviting friends over to make them with me.
So, gentle reader, Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years from me and the staff of the Silver Bullet Diner. If you find yourself alone, there’s always a place for you at the diner. Come join in the fun and share your traditions with mine.
(Editor’s note: No one should be alone on Christmas. Go to Trixie’s!)
Comfort food and murder are on the holiday menu in the latest mystery from the national bestselling author of MACARONI AND FREEZE . . .
All Trixie Matkowski wants for Christmas is a break—just not the broken leg she got after slipping on some ice. With Sandy Harbor alive in the hustle and bustle of the season, it’s the busiest time of the year at Trixie’s Silver Bullet Diner. There are millions of things to do, including cater the town’s annual Christmas pageant and community dinner with some delicious holiday comfort food.
But the festivities turn into a bit of a turkey after Liz Fellows, the director of the pageant, is found with Trixie’s butcher knife in her back. Now Trixie must help the police arrest the scary gentleman—or lady—guilty of the crime if she hopes to get herself off the naughty list.
My answer is it depends. Why? Because readers look for different things in different kinds of mysteries. Thrillers, police procedurals, traditional mysteries and cozies all have their fans, who bring their own expectations to each sub-genre.
Cozies mystery readers probably look for romance the most in their mysteries. Why? Because cozies focus on characters much more than other kinds of mysteries, which is just fine with their fans. They like getting to know the people in a series, watching their lives change, and enjoying the interactions. Some of those interactions are logically going to be romantic—especially if the main character is single (though there can certainly be romance between married couples) and also, but not necessarily, if they are young.
In my Pickled and Preserved series, my main character, Piper Lamb, is single and young. At the beginning of the first book, THE PICKLED PIPER, Piper had broken off an engagement and moved to a small town to start a new life. The only problem was that her ex-fiancé, Scott, didn’t take the break-up seriously. During his travels around the world to “find himself” he sent Piper messages and gifts as though they were still a couple, much to her annoyance and frustration.
The frustration grew as a new man entered Piper’s life—Will Burchett, a handsome Christmas tree farmer who lived just outside of Cloverdale, where Piper had relocated. Local townspeople picked up on the attraction between the two and dropped many sly comments, much to Piper’s embarrassment and consternation, since she had no intention of getting involved in a new romance so soon. Luckily—at least for that particular situation—a murder occurred in Cloverdale that diverted everyone’s attention, but only until the killer was caught near the end of the book. Then interest returned to Piper’s love life, especially when her ex-fiancé announced he was coming to Cloverdale.
In the second book, LICENSE TO DILL, part of the focus was on the gentlemanly tug-of-war between Piper’s former and current love interests, which ramped up as the former fiancé showed signs of having changed for the better. This brought about some emotional confusion in Piper, which she was more than happy to set aside for a second murder investigation. Not that she was happy over another murder, but… well, you know.
In SCENE OF THE BRINE, the just-released book of the series, things heat up a bit. (But since this is a cozy, “heat” comes mainly in the form of hints, and love scenes discretely fade out.) A new murder occurs which hits close to home, quickly pulling Piper into the investigation and taking precedence. But since new-boyfriend, Will, and ex-fiancé, Scott, play important parts in solving this mystery—a poisoning that nearly kills Piper’s pickles-and-preserves business as well—the two men’s ongoing presence in the action means that Piper’s quandary over choosing between them remains in the forefront. Can Scott’s persistence pay off? Does Will’s patience and understanding win out? Is the murder solved?
Which question is deemed the most urgent depends the reader, but my guess is that most cozy fans will see them as deserving equal time. SCENE OF THE BRINE, after all is a cozy. A cozy mystery, of course, but one populated with characters who lead fairly normal lives that are only occasionally interrupted by the inconvenient murder.
Murder, of course, is terrible. And cozy characters deal with it with all the seriousness it deserves. But readers want to see all sides of their favorite characters, and that includes their love lives.
Does romance, then, belong in mysteries? For most cozy readers, and for this particular cozy writer, I’d say the answer no longer depends. It would be a resounding, “Yes!”
Mary Ellen Hughes is the author of the Craft Corner Mysteries, including Wreath of Deception, String of Lies, and Paper-Thin Alibi, as well as the Maggie Olenski Mysteries. She lives in Maryland with her husband, Terry, who has long provided her with bounties of homegrown vegetables for preserving and pickling as well as unique inspirations for mysteries. Mary Ellen is a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
Piper Lamb has to take a break from jarring her delicious pickles and preserves to blow the lid off a poisoner….
Business is booming at Piper’s Picklings in Cloverdale, New York. But not all is sweet in the life of Piper’s number one customer and friend, local caterer Sugar Heywood. Sugar is dating wealthy realtor Jeremy Porter, but his family doesn’t approve. After their unscrupulous accountant finds some dirt on Sugar, the family quickly urges Jeremy to throw her out like rotten fruit.
Things are further spoiled after the accountant is found poisoned, and all evidence points to Sugar’s son, Zach. With the Porter family determined to avoid scandal, it won’t be easy for Piper to preserve Zach’s innocence. And after someone falls victim to a poisoned jar of some of her brandied cherries, Piper’s got a peck of trouble to deal with herself…
by Candy Holliday
Blueberry Farmer and Amateur Detective as told to B.B. Haywood, author of TOWN IN A CINNAMON TOAST, available everywhere on Feb. 2, 2016
Candy Holliday, I tell myself, you should know better. But here I go again!
I know I promised more than a few people (including our local police chief, Darryl Durr) that I would stay out of trouble and stop playing detective. It’s just that one of the most important events of the year is going to happen in three days, and there’s trouble in the air, thanks to a missing best man and a misguided bottle of champagne!
You see, my best friend and sidekick, Maggie Tremont, and our local German baker, Georg Wolfsburger (commonly known as Herr Georg) are getting married—right here at Blueberry Acres, the blueberry farm I run with my dad, Henry “Doc” Holliday. Our farm is located on the outskirts of the seaside village of Cape Willington in Down East Maine, and we’re in the process of getting it ready for the wedding—tidying up, setting up a reception tent, that sort of thing.
But we’ve run into a fatal snag. When Herr Georg’s best man, local historian Julius Seabury, fails to show up for the wedding rehearsal dinner, I have to go out looking for him. Unfortunately, when I find him, he’s lying face-down in the historical archives upstairs at the English Point Lighthouse and Museum. Much to my horror and surprise, he’s dead! Worse, he may or may not have been murdered, and the murder weapon may or may not be a bottle of champagne lying next to the body.
But here’s where it gets really crazy. The bottle of champagne found next to Julius’s body was ordered especially for their upcoming wedding by Herr Georg himself! That unleashes all kinds of questions. How did it get there? What was Julius doing up in those archives? Is Herr Georg himself involved in Julius’s death? And, most important, what will it mean for the upcoming wedding? No wonder a certain blueberry farmer finds it hard to sit back and do nothing!
I’ve vowed that I will not let anything or anyone stop my best friend’s wedding from taking place as planned. Julius wouldn’t have wanted it any other way. I am so certain he knew something was going to happen to him. I’m also certain he left clues in some of the books upstairs in the archives, which was one of Julius’s favorite places—possibly in the old books about the history of the village’s founding families. If you know anything about our village, you know that includes the Sykes and the Pruitt families, who have had an ongoing feud for a century and a half. You can guess how well things will go when those two families are involved!
So now I’ll have to go back to the historical society’s archives to snoop around a little. And yes, I’m terrified of being caught, since that place is off limits due to Julius’s death. But Maggie’s happiness is at stake, and the risk is worth it.
While I’m off snooping and questioning certain residents of Cape Willington, the barn at Blueberry Acres is being transformed into a wedding wonderland by Ralph Henry and Malcolm Randolph Stevens, owners of the Bird’s Nest Garden and Flower shop on Main Street. Their talent for decorating cannot be matched. Just wait ’til you see the place!
In just three day’s time, Maggie and Herr Georg will have the wedding of their dreams, with all of their friends and relatives celebrating with them at the farm. I just have a few things to solve before then, so for better or for worse, in fear or in bravery, here I go!
B. B. Haywood is a pseudonym of writing team Beth Feeman and Robert Feeman. They conceived the idea for the Candy Holliday mysteries while driving around the Maine countryside, stopping at different small towns throughout the state.
The author of TOWN IN A SWEET PICKLE brings back Candy Holliday, a blueberry farmer with a green thumb for sleuthing…
The much-anticipated wedding of local resident Maggie Tremont and popular baker Herr Georg has stirred up the usually quiet coastal town of Cape Willington. To make sure the wedding of the year goes off without a hitch, the participants gather at a pre-wedding dinner—everyone, that is, except the best man…
Worried, Candy, the maid of honor, goes looking for him, finally tracking him down to the upstairs archive rooms at the English Point Lighthouse and Museum. There’s only one problem: he’s dead, struck over the head with a bottle of champagne, the same exclusive brand that was ordered for the dinner. Before the wedding plans fall flat, Candy rushes to find the murderer, unearthing a conspiracy that could spill over into the whole town…
Have you ever visited Ohio? Some people think the entire state is flat. It’s not. Holmes County, which is situated above Columbus, consists of beautiful rolling hills Have you ever stayed a bed-and-breakfast and awakened to the sound of chickens and cows? It’s serene, idyllic, and delicious. I stayed at an inn at the south portion of Holmes County years ago. The next day, I got lost while driving around. What a fabulous experience that was! Truly. I discovered all sorts of little towns and treasures.
Right now, in my latest release FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE, it’s time for the first-ever Cheese Festival in Providence, Ohio. Charlotte Bessette, the protagonist, is a cheese monger, and she and her new husband, Jordan, have been invited to stay at nearby Emerald Pastures Inn to participate in a brain trust. What’s a brain trust? It’s an event where marketers, cheese makers, cheese authors, and journalists will taste, make, and talk all things “cheese.” Charlotte and Jordan can’t wait.
But there will be others at the brain trust plus one surprise guest from the past—Lara Berry, pretentious cheese whiz, pompous bestselling author, and pungent critic whose extra sharp tongue can crumble a reputation. Charlotte isn’t surprised when the foodie is smothered to death in her room at Erin’s inn. Accusations start flying, but the one sticking to Erin strikes Charlotte as a crock. Now, to clear her friend’s name, Charlotte has to sift through Lara’s ex-lovers, former business partners, and unforgiving enemies to find a killer before Lara’s past casts a gamey pall on the festival’s future.
PS Rags, Charlotte’s Ragdoll cat, plays an important part in this book.
By the way, there are always recipes in my Cheese Shop Mysteries. The ones in FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE include a number of savory selections. Don’t miss them.
Praise for the series:
“A mouthwatering mystery …a plot that twists and turns…Enticing and intriguing.”
—New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay
Learn more about Charlotte, her family, and the Cheese Shop World right HERE.
Note for new readers: While FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE is the 7th title in my series of Cheese Shop Mysteries, you can read it as a stand-alone. Just think! If you like it, you will have more books to enjoy. Yay! Click HERE to see the titles in order.
Recipes included in FOR CHEDDAR OR WORSE:
Bacon Olive Quiche
BLT Salad ala Emerald Inn
Cheddar Chocolate Stracciatella Ice cream
Grilled Cheese with Apples and Onions
Jordan’s Penne with Vodka Cream
Peanut Butter Quiche
Pine Nut Carrot Quiche
Zucchini Cheddar Kebab
Lastly, I’ve started a Savor the Mystery Fan Club on my website, with puzzles, special recipes, fun photos, and contests. Check it out! FAN CLUB
Giveaway for today!!!
What is the most favorite American town you’ve ever visited and why?
Tell me in the comments to enter to win this darling set of “mice” and cheese appetizer skewers!
Winner will also win an autographed copy of his or her choice of a Cheese Shop Mystery. Savor the mystery!
Avery Aames aka
Daryl Wood Gerber…author of the COOKBOOK NOOK MYSTERIES
Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER writes the Cookbook Nook Mysteries, set in the fictional coastal town of Crystal Cove, California. As Avery Aames, she also writes the Cheese Shop Mysteries, set in quaint Providence, Ohio. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. She loves to cook and read and has a darling, frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl or Avery at their website.
In the new Cheese Shop Mystery from the Agatha Award- winning author of AS GOUDA AS DEAD, an extra-sharp tongued cheese critic is cut down during a summer cheese festival.
It’s time for the annual Cheese Festival in Providence, Ohio, and Charlotte Bessette’s cheese shop is packed with homemade specialties. Meanwhile, her friend Erin is prepping her dairy farm and inn for cheese makers, marketers, journalists, and one surprise guest—Lara Berry, pretentious cheese whiz, pompous bestselling author, and pungent critic whose extra sharp tongue can crumble a reputation.
Even though any love for Lara by her friends curdled long ago, Charlotte is surprised when the foodie is smothered to death in her room at Erin’s inn. Accusations start flying, but the one laying blame on Erin strikes Charlotte as a crock. Now, to clear her friend’s name, Charlotte has to sift through Lara’s ex-lovers, former business partners, and unforgiving enemies to find a killer before Lara’s past casts a tainted pall on the festival’s future.
A friend of mine recently told me that she didn’t read sports-themed romance because she wasn’t that interested in sports. I can respect that, but I don’t think being a sports fan is necessary in order to enjoy romances that revolve around some kind of sport. I don’t play or watch sports, but some of my favorite books involve athletes. In fact, one of the first contemporary romances I ever read was sports-themed.
I first got into this sub-genre of contemporary romance by reading, and becoming enthralled by, Erin McCarthy’s Fast Track series. The Fast Track series centers on the world of stock car racing. Every one of the driver heroes in this series is to die for and each one is very different, except for their drive and commitment. In THE CHASE, Erin McCarthy puts a new spin on the series by featuring a female driver as the main character. The Fast Track series is seriously sexy but with Erin McCarthy’s trademark humor and snappy dialogue as delectable additions.
There is something for everybody in the wide world of sports-themed romance. For readers who enjoy a nice drama that they can sink their teeth into, there is the Assassins hockey series by Toni Aleo and the Bomb Squad hockey series by Melissa Cutler. These stories have a slightly epic feel to them, with the characters going through a wide range of emotions, and experiencing tragedy and triumphs on a larger scale than your average Joe. The romance doesn’t take a backseat in these stories, but the tone is more serious and less silly brain candy fun.
My comfort zone always includes books that are equal parts sexy and sweet with amazing character-driven stories, and that naturally applies to my favorite sports-themed romances as well. Kate Angell writes the Richmond Rogues baseball series, as well as the Barefoot William series – which includes heroes who are baseball players as well as volleyball players. I love the Barefoot William series because they provide a nice touch of California cool to brighten up any day, and the romances really hit the spot.
A newly discovered series for me to be addicted to is the Gridiron series written by Jen Frederick about college American football players. Jen Frederick’s series shows the good, the bad, the ugly, but also the unexpectedly sweet and poetic when it comes to football. Both books in the Gridiron series provide interesting football trivia and an inside look at a subject completely unfamiliar for me. Both Kate Angell and Jen Frederick provide sexy stories and unforgettable characters that will appeal to the sports junkie and non-believer alike.
Sports-themed romances are more than meets the eye. Even for someone like me, for whom unnecessary physical exertion is anathema, the right author can successfully translate the passion the characters feel for the sport and each other from the page to the reader. For readers who enjoy complex characters, athletes who struggle with maintaining personal relationships while balancing fame and a need to achieve perfection can be a compelling mix. The close friendships developed by teammates are another highlight of romances that feature athletes. I look forward to reading more stories about these driven competitors by some of my favorite authors.
For those of you interested in history, here’s bits of 19th century architectural and structural happenings during the Industrial Revolution. Fire burned down architect Joseph Paxton’s Crystal Palace. It was built in London’s Hyde Park to house The Great Exhibition of 1851, the first all glass and iron modular structure built at the time of the Industrial Revolution.
Gail Ingis writes historical romance, loves history and romance of course, has taught history, and her weekly blog frequently covers historical content. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Ingis’s early days began and ended with writing, drawing and music. Her inspiration to write came from books gifted to her by an aunt. But life had other ideas.
After graduating from the New York School of Interior Design with a BFA in Interior Architecture and Design and masters’ studies in Architecture and Design Criticism at The New School (Parsons). Her career in interior design and architecture led her to the other arts. Ingis founded the Interior Design Institute, a school of interior design, that she eventually sold, but during her tenure, she was twice asked by publishers to write a textbook, her efforts were thwarted by a heavy schedule.
Ingis resides in Connecticut with her scientist-writer husband. She and her husband travel and enjoy tennis. Currently, she sits on the Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum Board of Trustees and serves as Curator of Art for exhibitions at the museum.
She is a member of the CTRWA—Connecticut Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America.
In a whirlwind romance, a lovely New York socialite marries a fêted, debonair author. But beneath the charm is a cheating husband addicted to hasheesh. Her dream marriage turns sour and the simplicity of her life runs amok when a handsome stranger, her husband’s business partner, threatens her staunch loyalty to her wayward husband.
When she faces the ugly truth about her marriage, her need to finalize her divorce sends her on mad chase across the wilds of nineteenth century America with a handsome stranger where she learns the hard lessons of murder, kidnapping, and more, that almost destroy her.
When Fresh Fiction asked me to share some of my favorite things, I sat right down and started a list. Saturday mornings at Starbucks with my own leading man. Spending time with my extended family. Performing in community musical theater productions. Baking fattening desserts. Playing in my garden.
But there’s no time to talk about all those in this short column, so I’ll focus on just one of my favorites.
Long, spectacular hikes while on vacation.
Now, before you get the wrong idea, I’m not one of those people who straps 50 pounds of stuff on her back and disappears into the wilderness.
I’m a day hiker.
My husband didn’t discover this until after we were married. But he quickly learned that it’s not a vacation for me if I don’t log some serious hiking miles in God’s country.
Don’t get me wrong. He’d done some hiking before we married, too. But it was not on his list of favorite things.
However, he humored me—and through the years, some of our treks have been both easy and amazing. Hiking down from the Gornergrat in Switzerland on a smooth, well-marked trail with clear views of the Matterhorn all the way is a highlight.
My husband loved that one.
But there have been other hikes that were memorable for much less pleasant reasons.
Like the one to Kalaupapa on the island of Molokai in Hawaii that required us to descend some of the highest sea cliffs in the world by zig-zagging down 26 switchbacks with dizzying drop-offs at every turn.
Most people take the mule trip. We decided to hoof it. (Pardon the pun.) Going down, no problem. But coming up those steep cliffs? Yikes!
To make matters worse, we needed to stay ahead of the returning mules because the trail wasn’t wide enough for both of us. We did okay until the home stretch—at which point we heard the sudden clatter of hoofs on the rocks behind us. We managed to win the race…by a nose. But my husband didn’t have to say a word for me to interpret the look on his face as we gasped for breath while the snorting mules surged past.
How did you manage to talk me into this?
I’d seen the look before.
In particular, during a hike in the French Pyrenees.
The problem with that hike was lack of appropriate footwear. He was in the country on business and didn’t have room in his luggage for his hiking shoes. So no major hikes were planned for that trip. But when I spotted what appeared to be an easy stroll toward a distant waterfall, I couldn’t resist. The path was even paved at the beginning, and not very steep.
I convinced him to give it a shot.
Three hours later, the smooth path long left behind, we found ourselves on a glacial slope—but still not at the waterfall, which continued to tantalize from a distance.
As we contemplated our elusive target, my husband cocked his head and said, “What’s that smell?”
I sniffed the spicy aroma. Familiar…but I couldn’t place it.
He bent down and picked the leaf off a plant.
“It’s thyme.” He passed it to me.
Yeah, it was.
Wild mountain thyme, to be precise—officially classified as a high-altitude plant.
“I guess we climbed pretty high.” I eyed the glacier at the base of the waterfall.
He sat on a convenient rock.
Not a positive sign.
“Let’s not give up now. We’re almost there.” I beamed him an encouraging smile.
“I can’t go any further.” He fiddled with his shoe.
“Yes, you can.”
“No. I can’t.” He removed the shoe and held it up.
The sole was hanging off.
His not-meant-for-hiking shoe had succumbed to the sharp glacial rock.
“Yeah.” He gave the shoe a disgusted look.
“Can you make it back down?”
“Do I have a choice?”
I can’t recall how he managed to keep his shoe together during the long return hike. But once back in town, he went in search of a shoe repair shop and ended up doing the job himself with some high-powered glue.
An incident like that could put an end to a hiking career as a couple, right?
We’ve been on many a hike since—because he knows how much I enjoy them.
I married a great sport.
So as Valentine’s Day approaches, I’ll say this.
While I love all the heroes I write about in my books, they don’t hold a candle to the real thing!
Irene Hannon is the bestselling author of more than fifty novels, including the Heroes of Quantico, Guardians of Justice, and Private Justice series.
Her books have been honored with three coveted RITA Awards from Romance Writers of America, two Carol Awards, three HOLT Medallions, a Daphne du Maurier Award, two Reviewers’ Choice Awards from RT Book Reviews magazine, a Retailers’ Choice Award, two Booksellers’ Best Awards, and a National Readers’ Choice Award. In addition, she is a two-time Christy Award finalist.
After losing her parents in a car accident and her sister to a house fire, Christy Reed has been mired in grief. Life is finally starting to feel normal again when an envelope arrives in the mail–addressed in her sister’s handwriting. And the note inside claims she is still alive.
FBI Special Agent Lance McGregor, a former Delta Force operator, is assigned to reopen the case, but he’s coming up with more questions than answers. If Ginny Reed is still alive–who is the woman buried in her grave? Where is Ginny? And is Christy a pawn in a twisted cat-and-mouse game–or the target of a sinister plot? As he digs deeper, one thing becomes clear: whoever is behind the bizarre ruse has a deadly agenda.
Bestselling author and two-time Christy Award finalist Irene Hannon warms readers’ hearts as they root for a romance between Lance and Christy, but she pulls out all the stops as this high-stakes thriller chills to the bone in a race to the finish.
What are you passionate about? Perhaps you love to cook, sew or paint. Maybe you’re passionate about your family.
As an author, I’m passionate about what I do. Just ask anyone who has made the mistake of asking me about my writing.
Passion is a boundless enthusiasm for something
Enthusiasm for something drives us to want to know more about the object of our passion, whether it’s a person, place or thing.
Julia Child was passionate about French cooking. However, she did not will herself to become one of the world’s greatest chefs. She had to learn and practice.
When I started writing, all I knew was that I wanted to write and that, someday, I wanted to be published. But to make that dream come true, I had to learn the craft of writing. I bought books, attended writers’ conferences and honed my craft for nearly a decade before ever seeing that dream of being published come true.
Getting a book contract didn’t mean I could sit back and relax. I wasn’t at the end of my journey with writing, merely embarking on a new one as a published author. And there’s still much I don’t know.
Encourage others along the way
That’s what Julia Child did every time she brought another chef into her kitchen. It’s what I hope to do when I interact with other writers who are still on that journey toward publication.
And, as the mother of five mostly-grown children, I have the opportunity to encourage each of them as they pursue their passions. Whether it’s crafting, medieval cookery, teaching, woodworking or bow hunting, I want to support and nurture those creative endeavors.
If you’re learning about or still searching for your true passion, don’t forget to share and encourage one another. After all, we can’t help each other grow without sharing.
What you are passionate about? How do you nurture that passion? How do you encourage others?
It took Mindy Obenhaus forty years to figure out what she wanted to do when she grew up. But once God called her to write, she never looked back. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. Mindy is a two-time finalist for American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award. She lives in Texas with her husband and kids. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren.
Businesswoman Celeste Thompson has one goal: to make her restaurant and hotel a success. She doesn’t need any distractions, even from handsome contractor Gage Purcell and his two adorable little girls. Besides, single dad Gage is just biding his time before a big job at the mines comes through. But as Celeste’s project springs to life, their arguments transform into attraction.
Gage isn’t looking for romance, especially not with another career-driven woman like his ex-wife. But openhearted Celeste is more than just another work-consumed client. She might just be his happily-ever-after.