Thursday, October 31, 2013

Take a Look at Me Now by Miranda Dickinson

Nell Sullivan is having the worst day ever…

Nell has always been known as ‘Miss Five-Year Plan’. But when she’s dumped and made redundant on the same day, Nell wonders if it’s time to stop planning and start taking chances.

Nell blows her redundancy cheque on a trip of lifetime to a place where anything can happen – San Francisco. Nell meets a host of colourful characters, including an intriguing new love interest, Max, and soon San Francisco begins to feel like a second home.

But when Nell is forced to return home, will she leave the ‘new Nell’ behind? And can the magic of San Francisco continue to sparkle thousands of miles away?

Heart-warming and romantic, Take a Look at Me Now will make you laugh, cry and cheer Nell on all the way through. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Sophie Kinsella.

Miranda is a Sunday Times Bestselling author of four books, has been shortlisted twice for RNA awards (for Novel of the Year in 2010 with Fairytale of New York and again in 2012 for Contemporary Novel of the Year for It Started With a Kiss), has been published in seven languages and been a bestseller in four countries, and has sold over half a million books.

Connect with Miranda at:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Shine, Shine, Shine - Review

Review by K.T Sullivan

Sunny and Maxon Mann are not just like everyone else. She, the daughter of a missionary father killed in Burma, was born without hair anywhere. Sunny is also dealing with her dying mother and a dark secret. How did they escape from Burma? He, the son of an abusive father, is an astronaut looking to colonize the Moon with robots. Their son, Bubber, is autistic and a baby girl is on the way. Sunny has hidden her baldness with a series of wigs and hats. After a car accident, her fake hair flies out the window and exposes her to the neighborhood. She decides to embrace the baldness. Meanwhile, Nobel Prize winning Maxon is in space with his robots. He relates to them better than most people in his life. Sunny and Maxon grew up together and have been a couple since high school. The weird girl and the misfit boy. There is an accident in space and Sunny is in premature labor. Will the star crossed lovers reunite and mend the distance, personal and physical, between them?

The robots serve as a metaphor for what’s missing between the characters. Maxon notes robots don’t show love, regret, and forgiveness. The author explores these three aspects of life. She applies the human conditions to her anything but normal couple. Their lives are shaped by their pasts and the search for acceptance. The author takes their yearnings and makes them universal. Even under the unique circumstances, readers can relate to the doubt, discovery, and hope. A worthy read.

I was born in Detroit and raised by two public school teachers. We lived in Michigan during the school year, and at an old farm in the hills of western Pennsylvania during school vacations. My world revolved around horses, music, and books. I went to college and grad school in the midwest, met my husband and got married in Chicago, and then moved to Norfolk when we decided to have kids. We have two: a boy and a girl. I homeschool them and taxi them to orchestra rehearsal, the karate dojo, the pony farm, and many music lessons. At our homeschool co-op, I teach literature and choir, and I love to travel, knit, play my electric guitar, and of course read.

Connect with Lydia at:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Take Me, Cowboy - Review & Giveaway

Review by Marlene Engel

As one hundred and fifty guests sat in the church waiting for the ceremony to begin, Charles was informing Jenny that he no longer wanted to go through with the wedding.  Jenny grew up in Marietta and had a difficult childhood.  Charles, on the other hand, came from a rich family in Illinois.  Their worlds couldn’t be more different.  Although he knew that she came from a modest background, now that they were about to get married he was starting to think that she may be marrying him for his money and could no longer go through with the wedding.
Colton Thorpe was driving when he saw a beautiful woman in a wedding dress standing at the bus stop.  Sensing that she could use a ride, he pulled over and offered his assistance.  Colton was a few years older than Jenny, grew up on the same street, and had a bad reputation, but Jenny had always had a crush on him.  Recently divorced, he was back in Marietta to chair the 75th Copper Mountain Rodeo.  Although Jenny turned down Colton’s offer to drive her home, it didn’t take long for their paths to cross again.  It also didn’t take long for the feelings that Jenny had for Colton as an adolescent to resurface.  But when Colton makes it known that he wants Jenny just as much as she wants him, will she allow the pain that Charles caused her to affect her future with Colton?

Take Me, Cowboy is the fourth book in The Copper Mountain Rodeo Series.  I really enjoyed this book and fell in love with Jenny and Colton’s characters.  There’s just something about the way Jane Porter writes that makes you feel like you are a part of the story.  Take Me, Cowboy is a must read for anyone who loves hunky cowboys, a strong female character and an amazing story!  I definitely recommend this book to everyone!  Although it’s not necessary to read the three previous books in the series to get the story in this book, it is definitely recommended as several of the characters have been introduced in the previous books.  Once again, another amazing book from the very talented, Jane Porter!

Purchase this book at:
Amazon * Smashwords * Barnes&Noble * Kobo

About the author: Bestselling author Jane Porter has been a finalist for the prestigious RITA award four times and has over 12 million copies in print. Jane’s novel, Flirting With Forty, picked by Redbook as its Red Hot Summer Read, went back for seven printings in six weeks before being made into a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear. A mother of three sons, Jane holds an MA in Writing from the University of San Francisco and makes her home in sunny San Clemente, CA with her surfer husband.

Connect with Jane and learn more about Montana Born Books at:

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Finding The Right Girl - Release Blast & Giveaway

Finding the Right Girl
A Nice GUY to Love Spin-off
By: Violet Duke

From the New York Times & USA Today bestselling author who brought you the Nice Girl to Love trilogy, comes A Nice GUY to Love spin-off...

Brian Sullivan has been in love twice in his lifetime. He lost his first love to early-onset Huntington’s, and he lost the other more recently…to his brother. And somehow, his heart has managed to heal itself after both. Amazingly, without therapy. That doesn’t mean he hasn’t gotten a bit more cautious, however. Lately, Brian’s been thinking that maybe his brother’s now retired nothing-but-flings rule isn’t such a bad idea after all. Unfortunately, as the unofficial nice guy poster boy, Brian isn’t exactly versed in the fine art of flings. So he looks to the outrageously ‘unique,’ inexplicably enigmatic, provokingly button-pushing Tessa Daniels for a crash course.

There’s absolutely no way he’s falling in love with this one...right?

Tessa has no idea what she was thinking telling Brian that she was some sort of fling expert. She’s never been flung before and she sure as heck doesn’t know where or how to begin flinging a guy like Brian. It was a temporary lapse in sanity—no doubt because of the can’t-help-but-fall-for-him brain fuzz that hits her whenever he’s around. Not only does the man have her being more herself than she’s ever been in her life, but he’s the only person she knows who seems to have as many demons and skeletons in the closet as she does. What’s more, he’s got her thinking of the one thing she stopped letting herself even hope for years ago.

A happily ever after.
Pre-Buy Link
iTunes * Goodreads Link

"Babe, we have to stop.  You're hurting and your emotions have gone through the wringer tonight.  I can't take advantage of you like that."
"Then don't,” she replied simply, wrapping her arms around his neck.  “Let me take advantage of you.”
Jerking back to put some head-clearing distance between them was about as painful as ripping off his own skin.  “Why don’t we just hang out tonight?  We can sit and talk more about those dickheads we ran into tonight if it’ll help, or we could just watch a movie…anything you want to do." 
He quickly snatched her wandering hands as they traveled down his lats and started tugging at the hem of his t-shirt.  "Anything except that," he groaned.  "Work with me here, woman."  Raggedly, he put his forehead against hers and counted to ten to try and find the tattered remains of his restraint. 
The thought almost made him laugh.  Who was he kidding?  He had no restraint when it came to Tessa.  By the fifth second, his lips had already found their way back to hers. 
And goddammit if her whole body didn’t just tremble right there in his arms.
She was just so mind-wreckingly responsive.  As usual, without even trying, she was driving him batshit crazy. 
Tapping into a reserve even he didn’t know he had, he broke off the kiss and took another step away from her.  Then he watched in sad disbelief as her expression became completely shuttered a half an instant later—closing him out behind the walls of a now ten-story castle and a moat filled with fire-breathing piranhas. 
The lightning quick response time of her defenses was a punch to his gut.  What the hell happened in her past?
"Look Brian, if you don't want to, you can just tell me you know.  I’m a big girl; you don't have to make excuses to let me down easy—"
He gave her a look that said he wondered about her IQ before grabbing her hand and dragging it over the zipper of his jeans.  "Does that feel like I don't want to?"
Her eyes widened, and her grip closed tight around him.
Bourbon soaked shards of glass went hissing down his throat.  "For chrissakes, stop."  The blood supply in his brain was dipping down to a dangerous low.
And the damn temptress was clearly all torn up about it.  He glared at the smile she was biting back.  “I’m glad you find this so amusing.”
“It’s not amusement, it’s relief.  Here I was thinking it was just me getting affected with my perpetually wet panties around you and all."
A seriously pained groan escaped him then.  "To preserve my sanity—and your panties—don’t use the word wet in any more sentences tonight."
She sighed.  "I don't know why you're making such a big deal out of this.  You heard Troy earlier this evening.  Being the ‘good girl’ was never my thing."  She brushed up against the hardening ridge tenting his jeans to drive home her point.
With a muttered curse, he clamped one arm around her waist and tangled his free hand in her hair.  "Sweetheart, this thing between us is a big deal," he said roughly, tugging gently on her hair and nearly losing it when she arched her back in response.  Her fitted tee was so paper-frickin’-thin.  One sharp yank was all it’d take to rip it right down the middle.
Jesus Christ, he needed to find some control
"Tessa, when, and yes I said when we have sex, I’ll make damn sure that every single second of it seeps into your bones, burns into your memory, and turns into a relentless craving that makes you forget all the assholes from your past,” he ran his lips along the thrumming pulse at her throat, “and if I’m really lucky, it’ll also help ruin you for all other men completely."  

Author Info
National bestselling author Violet Duke is a former professor of English Education who is ecstatic to now be on the other side of the page writing wickedly fun contemporary romance novels.  Besides writing and feeding her book-a-day reading addiction, she can often be found tackling reno projects with her power tools and trying pretty much anything without reading the directions first, or cooking 'special edition' dishes that laugh in the face of recipes.  Violet lives in Hawai'i with her two cute kids and similarly adorable husband.

Connect with the author at:

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Living Again by L.L. Collins - Blog Tour

Review by Darcey Pickett

Fate is not always what you expect it to be.  Kayley is on the verge of having it all…her loving husband; Alex and she are expecting their first child.  She couldn’t be happier.  And then her telephone rings and her life is changed forever.

Thinking she has lost everything and not knowing if she will ever love or be loved again, she meets Ben in the most unlikely place.  Closing him out immediately, allows Ben the chance to court her the way every woman dreams of being treated.  The thrill of the chase does not come without a price.  Thankfully, Emily, Kayley’s best friend is there to urge Ben not to give up and talk Kayley into giving this Knight in Shining armor a chance.  Kayley feels like she is damaged, she has her baggage, and not sure if she can give her heart to someone other than Alex.  Ben has been hurt as well and the assumptions he makes could destroy everything he worked so hard for.  This couple’s love is put to the test by so many external forces and internal struggles too.    

The book had me in tears, made me laugh and then had me cheering the couple on.  Ben is a dream come true for any woman, a true gentleman.  My heart broke for Kayley as I could relate to what she lost, and as the story progressed I wanted nothing more than for her to be happy.  This was a story I couldn’t wait to read and was so sad to have it end.  L.L. Collins knew which buttons to push and had me wanting more.

L.L. Collins is a 30-something teacher from Florida.  She is a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.  Her love of writing found a home in the self publishing world in 2013.  Her debut novel, a contemporary romance called Living Again, released as an eBook and paperback on October 4, 2013. 

LL has been writing since she was old enough to write. Always a story in her head, she finally decided to let the characters out and start writing.”

Connect with the author at:
Facebook * Twitter * Website * Pinterest

Follow the blog tour HERE

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Younger, Thinner, Blonder By Sue Watson

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have everything?

Tanya Travis doesn’t have to. As host of TV show ‘The Truth with Tanya Travis,’ she has glamour, luxury, success and public adulation while solving the problems of Britain's great unwashed every day on her show.

However, things are not all they seem and Tanya’s life of designer kitchens, Prada handbags and myriad TV awards is as difficult behind the scenes as those of her TV show guests. Tanya is hounded by the press, with damning headlines about her life, looks, and body. But when she reads about her partner’s weakness for young blondes and problems mount up on the show, Tanya’s carefully constructed celebrity life begins to come apart at the seams.

Her only lifeline is ‘Celebrity Spa Trek’ a reality show in the Himalayas ‘Where bad celebrities go good.’ But can clean-freak Tanya cope with no hot water, starvation, exhaustion, heartbreak and the sheer showbiz bitchiness of a celebrity trek through the Himalayas?

Even with her relationship in crisis, cellulite on overdrive and career on the line, Tanya can’t face the thought of prime time exposure with a desperate gaggle of C-List wannabes. ..but does she have a choice?

A sharp, witty novel about our celebrity obsessed culture from the author of bestselling Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes.

Quotes for Press Release for YTB – Sue Watson
“As a TV Producer I worked closely with celebrities and glimpsed at close range the reality of being famous. Everywhere you go people want a piece of you, from the paparazzi camping in the garden to strangers demanding photos and autographs e everywhere and anywhere.

There’s a huge price to pay for the premieres, the freebies and the accolades when you can’t spend a day on the beach without your cellulite appearing on the cover of a magazine.

Some of what happens to Tanya the heroine in Younger, Thinner, Blonder, is stuff I saw and was told about in the world of TV celebrity - sometimes it’s very, very funny and sometimes it’s not.”

Sue Watson was a TV Producer with the BBC in London, who combined motherhood and family life with a busy career. However, one day it dawned on Sue that Cosmopolitan magazine may have been telling porkies about 'having it all,' and she realized her life had become a slightly crazed juggling act. So after much comfort eating and soul searching she quit the job, bought a flamingo pink laptop and took the plunge as a writer.

The result was Sue's first novel, romantic comedy 'Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes,' a story about a woman whose life is a constant struggle with the weighing scales and being a working mum, wife and daughter.

The author researched intensely, baking and tasting and baking and tasting ...and tasting create the fabulous recipe collection of easy but impressive cakes in the book. Sue also gained an equally impressive extra ten pounds on her hips, which to this day she carries with her.

Sue's second book, 'Younger, Thinner, Blonder,' is a story of love, betrayal, fame and cellulite.
Originally from Manchester, Sue now lives with her husband and teenage daughter in Worcestershire where she is currently writing her third book. When she's not toiling over her latest novel, Sue can be found enjoying large bags of chicken crisps, large tubs of Caramel Chew Chew ice cream and 'The Biggest Loser USA' on series link.

Connect with Sue at:

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

8 Fantastic Chick Lit Reads for $3.99 or Less!

Fasten your seat belts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position. Over the next few days, some of your favorite Chick Lit characters will be jetting across the Atlantic to visit with fictional friends on the other side of the pond.

The event kicks off on Monday, Oct. 21.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, read about Stella from Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and Chloe from Lying to Meet You as they travel across the Atlantic to visit each other. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, it’s time to discover what happens when Emma from The Pollyanna Plan and Kim from Blogger Girl meet.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, Izzy from Izzy’s Cold Feet and Jamie from Finding Lucas will be taking you on a trip alongside their characters.

And on Friday, Oct. 25, Kate from Sealed with a Kiss and Pilar from In Need of Therapy will be chatting about their overseas experiences.

Here’s a little sneak peek at the fun, frothy books and sassy gals featured in our international promo, all of which are priced at $3.99 or less:

Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey – Daytime talk show producer Jamie Ross is beyond fed up with her toxic bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, she goes on a hilarious, at-times disastrous, and totally life-changing hunt to track down the ”one who got away.” But are some loves best left behind? 
Available on * Amazon UK * Kobo 
In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister – Handling the problems of hysterical hypochondriacs, lovelorn neurotics, and compulsive man whores is all in a day’s work for super-shrink Pilar Alvarez. But can she deal with her crazy Cuban family, a trio of unsuitable suitors, and a threat to her practice without ending up on the couch herself? 
Available on * Amazon UK * B&N 

Lying to Meet You by Anna Garner – Overworked New York fashion girl Chloe Lane has no time for a real relationship, but when her childhood pal asks her to play the part of his girlfriend in order to test a theory, she decides to go for it. The lies start piling up and things start getting crazy. Will Chloe be able to keep it together? 
Available on * Amazon UK * B&N 

Sealed with a Kiss by Rachael Lucas – Kate breathes a sigh of relief when she's dumped at her best friend's wedding. When she takes a job on the island of Auchenmor, she's determined to have a year off men, but that's before she rescues Flora the seal pup with the help of Roddy, her mysterious new boss... 
Available on * Amazon UK 

The Pollyanna Plan by Talli RolandEmma Beckett has always looked down on 'the glass is half full' optimists. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancĂ©, Emma makes a radical decision: from here on in, she'll attempt to see the upside, no matter how dire the situation. Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea? 
Available on  * Amazon UK 

Blogger Girl by Meredith SchorrKimberly Long has two passions: her successful chick lit blog and Nicholas, her handsome colleague down the hall. But when her high school nemesis pops onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book and eyes for Nicholas, Kim has to make some quick revisions to her own life story. 
Available on * Amazon UK * B&N * Apple iTunes 

Izzy’s Cold Feet by Sarah Louise Smith – Izzy is engaged to Greg, who is everything a girl could want. The trouble is – all she can think about is the men she loved before she met him. In the week leading up to her wedding day, Izzy is forced to ask herself who she loves the most. And, given the choice, who would she want to spend her life with? 
Available on * Amazon UK *  B&N * UK Nook 

Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson – TV Producer Stella is over worked, over weight and under fire battling to balance family, career and those weighing scales. In the past she’s always found comfort at the bottom of her mixing bowl but now the most delicious lemon sponge with zesty frosting has no effect. However, life is about to get even tougher... and Stella has to face some truths about herself, her life and her future. Available on and Amazon UK 

Tuesday, Oct. 22
Stella will be on Anna Garner’s blog and Chloe will be on Sue Watson’s blog

Wednesday, Oct. 23
Emma will be on Meredith Schorr’s blog and Kim will be on Talli Roland’s blog 

Thursday, Oct. 24
Izzy will be on Samantha Stroh Bailey’s blog and Jamie will be on Sarah Louise Smith’s blog

Friday, Oct. 25
Kate will be on Tracie Banister’s blog  and Pilar will be on Rachael Lucas’s blog  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rescue Me, Maybe - Review

Review by Marlene Engel

Death is never easy to deal with, but when you lose both your husband and dog to cancer within two weeks of each other, it’s bound to push even the strongest person over the edge.  Jane’s husband was diagnosed with Melanoma and his health quickly plummeted.  Of course she misses him and feels guilty that she’s still around and able to enjoy life, but their marriage had hit a rocky patch and she had planned on leaving him until he got sick.   So, it’s no surprise to her that it’s not Ryan’s passing that has her so upset, but the passing of her dog, Barnum.  Barnum had been her trusty companion for fourteen years and she misses him like crazy.  But she doesn’t dare let others know that her mourning has more to do with her dog than her husband. 

Now that Jane is free to live life as she wishes, she plans to move back to San Diego asap!  But there’s a little problem.  She has no job and no place to live.  Reluctantly, she accepts an offer to stay at her family’s Bed & Breakfast in exchange for working there.  She figured that it would only be temporarily, and since she had no other options, what does she have to lose?  On her way to the B&B she stops at a rest stop and finds a stray dog.  She’s a beautiful dog, albeit a bit skinny, with a tag that reads, Penny.  She finds this ironic since her father in law has always told her that ‘found pennies are gifts from heaven.’  She decides to take the dog with her so that she can bring it to the shelter the next day.  However, when her aunt sees the dog, she’s quick to try convincing Jane to keep it.  But Jane isn’t ready to open her heart to a new furry friend while she’s still mourning the loss of Barnum.  Will Jane learn to open her heart to the possibility of a new dog and her mind to enjoying being at the B&B?

Rescue Me, Maybe is such a fun book.  Although it touches on some serious topics such as illness and death, the author does such a wonderful job incorporating humor in what would normally be such sensitive subjects.  I found this book to be very enjoyable, the characters relatable and the humor spot on!  I also really liked how one of the main characters was a dog.  How can you not love a book with a lovable, furry companion?  This is the perfect book to cuddle up on the couch with your favorite four legged companion and read!  I loved this book and know that you will too!

Purchase links:  Amazon * Barnes&Noble

Jackie used to be trapped in the hamster wheel of corporate America, but she was lucky enough to escape and now fully understands the term "struggling writer." Jackie loves: reading, writing, and, yes, even 'rithmetic (seriously, algebra rocks); professional cycling; margaritas; blogging (she never thought she'd say that, but she does); dogs in general, and her crazy rescue pup specifically; and her hubby. (Not in that order.) Jackie dislikes: rude people and writing about herself in the third person. After living in Southern California, then Bermuda, then Canada, then the East coast, Jackie and her husband settled in San Diego. American Jackie, her Canadian hubby, and her Mexican rescue mutt form their own happy little United Nations. 

Jackie's debut novel, "What The Dog Ate," was followed by "Rescue Me, Maybe."
Connect with Jackie at:

Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Cheesecake Queen - Blog Blitz

Sugar Rule 1: Christmas is the perfect time for cheesecake.
Sugar Rule 2: Men are as useful as burnt cookies.

After losing her reporting job to layoffs at the local paper, Caeleah Turner’s pity party at the airport is interrupted by a woman claiming to know the location of the world’s best cheesecake. Intrigued, Caeleah trades plane tickets with the woman and finds herself in Chestnut, Colorado, a tiny town hiding a woman known as the Cheesecake Queen. The Cheesecake Queen not only bakes the best cheesecakes in the country, but her cheesecake is known to cure everything from infertility to baldness—one woman even loses 100 pounds on it! There is a thick batter of secrets behind The Cheesecake Queen and her two sisters, who operate all the bakeries in town.

But as the mayor’s efforts to shut down the Sugar sisters before Christmas gear up, Caeleah finds herself wanting to sample his own treats.

There’s a bigger secret than love to Cinnamon’s cheesecakes. And Caeleah is determined to find out what it is.


Miranda Koerner is a writer living in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband and two Chihuahuas. A former children’s magazine editor and reporter for Prime Time Newspapers and the Express-News, Miranda has written for The Current, Taste, Chicken Soup for the Soul and many other publications. Her YA novel The Butterfly Dress was published by Girl E books and is available through and Smashwords. She is anticipating her next novel, Blue Mermaid, with Turquoise Morning Press in April 2013. 

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Friday, October 18, 2013

The Matchbaker - Blurb & Excerpt



1C Chaos
1Tbsp Romance
3Tsp Betrayal
2C Comedy
1Pinch Magic

Candace Cooper is living the life she set out to live. With a posh apartment in Manhattan, a high-powered job that takes her all over the world, and designer clothes that most women would kill to have in their closet, she's definitely living the high life. But when her best friend drags her to a seedy section of Paris to meet with a crack-pot fortune teller, she hears things she doesn't want to hear. She desperately tries to ignore the unsolicited advice, but that becomes nearly impossible when her perfect life starts to unravel.

"Filled with comedic catastrophes, magical mishaps, romantic blunders, and tasty recipes, The Matchbaker will have you laughing, crying and reaching for the nearest box of baked goods!" Ava Stone, Amazon Best Selling Author

**Includes Cupcake Recipes from Erin Knightley, Polkadot Cupcake Shop & Sugarcain Cupcakes**

I can’t believe I’m doing this. Why, when I should be shopping on the Champs Elysee or sipping French wine at a fine restaurant, am I in a bad part of Paris, sitting in the front parlor of Madame Antoinette’s? That’s right. She’s a psychic. And I foolishly let my best friend talk me into coming to see her.
I look across at Lucy, who is poised elegantly on the edge of one of the purple cloth-draped chairs. We’re both wearing trendy business suits and expensive shoes, and we’re groomed to near perfection. We definitely don’t belong in this gaudy shop with five-pointed stars and crystal balls.
But I’m a good friend, I guess, and that’s why I’m here.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” I ask Lucy. She darts her gaze to meet mine and I see the determination in her eyes. There’s no way I’m getting out of this now.
“I have to know, Candace,” she says simply and then turns her attention back to the ornate dragon sitting on the table next to her.
I do my best not to roll my eyes, but it’s not easy. Poor Lucy is convinced her boyfriend back in New York is cheating on her. I’m convinced he’s not. Apparently, she’d rather hear it from Madame Antoinette than me.
“Good afternoon, ladies.” The hanging beads in the doorway click and a woman appears before us. She has frizzy red hair, kept somewhat in line by a dark purple scarf. Her dress makes her look like a bawdy pirate wench, and she clicks and clanks with every movement thanks to all her bangles and beads. I’m going to go out on a limb and say this is Madame Antoinette. Maybe I should invest in a ridiculous get-up so Lucy will listen to me and not drag me to the worst part of Paris for psychic readings ever again.
With a flick of her head, Madame Antoinette turns and walks back through the beaded curtain. Lucy is out of her chair, following behind, as if she’s in some kind of trance. I take a deep breath and follow as well.
I can’t help but notice the grime that lines the floorboards as we walk down the long corridor, and suddenly all I can think about is getting back to the hotel and taking a long, hot shower. I just hope Lucy gets her answers quickly.
At the end of the corridor, Madame leads us into a room on the left, and I have to stifle a giggle as we walk through the door. What a joke! I can’t believe my best friend thinks this woman is going to have the answers she needs. I mean, seriously, there’s a large, foggy crystal ball in the middle of the table, which is draped with the same purple cloth as the chairs out in the lobby. I look around for hidden cameras, because surely we’re being taken for a ride.
“Have a seat,” Madame says, gesturing to the chairs at the round table. She takes her own place in front of the crystal ball. “Now, what is it I can help you with?”
Lucy shoots me a quick glance and then turns back to Madame Antoinette. “I think my boyfriend may be cheating on me.”
The woman smiles as if she understands completely. “You have been together a long time, no?”
“Since high school,” says Lucy, a goofy girl-next-door smile coming to her glossy lips.
“And what makes you think he is cheating on you, my dear?”
Lucy blushes and I know it’s because she doesn’t want to sound like a crazy person. I wish I could lean over and tell her she could never sound as crazy as Madame Antoinette, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t go over very well with either of them.
“I…I kind of found a text from another woman.”
“Aha. And what did this text say?”
Lucy blushes again. Oh, good Lord. What does it matter what this woman thinks of her? There’s a bottle of Bordeaux with my name on it back at the hotel, and I’m getting antsy.
“I don’t actually know,” she says, and Madame Antoinette’s eyebrows rise until they nearly disappear under her hair. “I just saw the name—Kelsey Attwater—but I didn’t see what she wrote. I’ve never heard of her, and Steve was acting kind of weird after he read the text.”
Madame nods and then turns her attention to the crystal ball before her. She closes her eyes, which begs the question, how will she see what’s in the crystal ball? This thought tickles me and a bubble of laughter rises to my throat. I stifle it as best I can, but not well enough apparently, since Lucy shoots me a scathing look. Which makes me laugh even harder. It’s not until she kicks me in the shin with her pointy toe that I gain control of my faculties.
“Yes, yes,” mumbles Madame Antoinette. She’s swaying in circles and her eyes keep rolling back. I’m waiting for her head to start spinning around.
Lucy is on the edge of her seat. I roll my eyes. God, this is such a waste of time. Steve isn’t cheating. I know him, and he would never do that to Lucy. If he did, I would lose faith in love and men altogether. Not that I have a lot of faith in those things to begin with. But Lucy and Steve are the perfect pair. If they can’t make it, then I’m surely doomed.
Madame opens her eyes suddenly and trains them on Lucy. “Your hunch is correct,” she says.
My mouth drops open. What a load of crap!
“I knew it!” shouts Lucy. “See, Candace, I told you!”
I’m biting my tongue so hard I can taste the blood. I take a deep breath and look from Lucy to Madame Antoinette with my stoniest of glares. Who is this woman to tell Lucy what Steve is up to, anyway? She doesn’t know Lucy and she certainly doesn’t know Steve, and she doesn’t know them together.
“What should I do?” Lucy begs the strange woman for advice. I can’t help but feel a little jealous. She never asks for my advice with such fervent desperation. Actually, I’m not sure she ever really asks for my advice at all. What a sucky thing to realize about your best friend.
“You should confront him, of course,” says Madame Antoinette.
Lucy reaches into her handbag and retrieves her phone.
Is she serious? “Luce, not now,” I say to her.
“It is not your responsibility to direct your friend’s path.” Madame is staring at me now. “If she feels the need to call in this moment, then it is important she does.”
“I’m sure it is, since you’re being paid by the minute, Madame.”
“Candace!” Lucy hisses while she waits for Steve to pick up.
“I’m sorry, Luce, but this is ridic—”
“Hi, honey, it’s me.” Lucy has turned away from the table and she’s talking to Steve in hushed tones. “Yes, I am, but…we need to talk.”
I glare at Madame. I’m so over being polite right now.
“You are angry with me,” she says.
She should get a medal for her ability to state the obvious. I say nothing.
“I understand,” she continues. “Your friend is taking advice from a stranger, and now you doubt the friendship.”
“I don’t doubt our friendship.” This woman is infuriating. “But I know Steve’s not cheating. He loves her and he would never do that to her. They’ve been together since high school, for God’s sake!”
“A person’s love for someone does not necessarily keep them from being unfaithful.” I can’t stand her all-knowing tone when she says this.
And if what she says is true, I’m never going to fall in love. I’m not about to get heartsick over someone and devote years of my life to him, only to have him cheat on me.
Lucy is in the far corner of the room now, her whispers more emphatic than before. Crap. Things aren’t sounding good. I really don’t want to have to eat my words. I’d rather eat steak tartare at the Michelin-starred restaurant in the hotel.
“You are twenty-eight, no?” Madame says.
I look up at her, shocked. “How did you know that?”
She shrugs and peers into her crystal ball. “Hmm.”
Hmm? What the hell does hmm mean? Against my will, my butt scooches forward on my seat, and I lean in to see what’s in the ball. “What are you doing?” I ask, trying to sound more perturbed than intrigued.
“You will be twenty-nine soon,” she says. Lucky guess. “And you will see some very interesting changes in the coming year.”
Oh, wow. That’s not vague at all.
“I see a career change in your very near future.”
Career change? A pit forms in my stomach, but I can’t tell if it’s from excitement or nerves. “What do you mean?” Maybe I’m going to get that promotion, after all. The one my boss promised me almost two years ago. I’m sorry, Can, I really thought it was going to be this quarter, but it’s just not going to happen. I promise in September the position will be yours. Maybe it’s finally going to happen. Maybe Celia isn’t just blowing smoke up my skirt this time.
“You enjoy baking,” she says as if it’s a fact.
I burst out laughing. “Ah, no,” I say. “Not at all, much to my parents’ chagrin.”
Madame Antoinette cocks her head to the side as she stares, confused, at the crystal ball. “But…”
We’re both distracted by the sniffles coming from the corner. I look at Lucy. Her back is to us and she still has the phone up to her ear, but her body is shaking with sobs. Crap. One for Madame Antoinette; Zero for me. Now I’m torn. Do I want to know what Madame is going to say, or do I want to hear about what a creep Steve is?
I turn back to the psychic. I’m desperate to wipe the smug smile off her face, but annoyingly, she’s sparked my interest with this comment about baking. It’s probably just a coincidence, but still…
“So,” I say, re-focusing my attention back on her. “What’s this business about baking?”
She looks into her crystal ball again, her eyes fixed on the nothingness inside. God, what is wrong with me? Am I really so desperate to know my future that I’m turning to Madame Antoinette? I’m at once irked and curious. I mean, she did call that situation with Steve.
I glance again at Lucy. She’s still on the phone, but now she’s sitting on the floor, her knees pulled tightly to her chest as she rocks in place. Gross. She’ll have to get that suit dry-cleaned.
“Yes, I am still seeing the same thing,” Madame says, and I return my focus to her and the crystal ball. “A career change will find you…baking.” She turns her hands up and shrugs.
“That’s impossible.” I peer around to see if there’s anything for a normal person to see in the ball. Nothing. Just cloudy smoke. “I mean, maybe not entirely impossible, but…no, it is. It is impossible. That’s not my path. I deliberately stayed out of the bakery growing up. I hate baking. Hate it. The kitchen is hot, it’s messy. The few times I helped my mom out I nearly broke my hand trying to pull the heavy pans out of the oven. No. No, no, no, no, no.”
“I’m sorry,” says the psychic. Ha! Some psychic. Clearly, she knows nothing about me or she would know that what she’s seeing is hogwash. “I do not make these things up. I only relay what I see.”
“Well, what you see is ridiculous,” I tell her, trying to keep my cool. I mean, seriously! Me? In the bakery? I don’t think so.
“Fine. Then I will not tell you about the handsome stranger I see in your future as well.”
Damn it, she’s tricky. I grit my teeth. I don’t want to seem interested, but Luce is still bawling over in the corner, and since we’re paying anyway…
“What handsome stranger?” I say, completely against my will.
“Aha. I see now how to get your attention.” She stares intently at the ball. “You will meet him this fall. September, perhaps. You will be working together. Closely. And you will fall madly in love with him.”
“And what about him? Won’t he fall in love with me?” I can’t help but feel a little indignant at the idea that I might love someone who won’t love me in return.
“It all depends on how you handle yourself, my dear. I will warn you now, be careful how you use your powers.”
Powers? “Sure. My powers. Thanks for that hot tip.” Now I know this woman is a hoax. She really had me going there with the bakery and all, but does she really expect me to leave my job when I’m on the fast track to being an executive? And I probably will meet a handsome stranger this fall. I meet handsome men all the time, but I’ve yet to fall in love with any of them. The likelihood of that happening this fall is pretty slim. Especially after this debacle with Steve and Lucy. If they can’t make it…
“You do not believe me.” She’s still staring at me.
“No,” I say. “I’m sorry, I don’t.” I toss a wad of French bills onto the purple table and stand up. “I think we’re done here.”
“You do not have to believe me,” she continues. Now I’m getting annoyed. “But Madame Antoinette is never wrong.”
I ignore her as I pick Lucy up off the floor. The phone is still open and Steve is still on the line.
“Hi, Steve,” I say, my voice as stony as I know how to make it.
“Candace!” The excitement in his voice throws me. “You have to talk to her. Tell her it was a mistake. It was just a one-night stand with some chick. I don’t even remember what she looks like. I probably couldn’t even pick her out of a line-up.”
I ignore him, too. I really can’t deal with this right now. “Listen, Steve.” My tone is businesslike, which feels weird since we’re pretty good friends. “Luce will call you when we get back to the states. Bye.”
I slam the phone shut and put my arm around Lucy’s shoulder. She’s still bawling and mumbling about how it’s all her fault and she should have agreed to certain things in the bedroom.
That Bordeaux is sounding better every second.
“I think you should heed my advice, mademoiselle.”
Ugh. Not her again. The chaos in the small room is starting to get to me. With Lucy bawling in one ear and Madame Antoinette yapping in my other, I’m desperate to just get the hell out. I push Luce through the beaded door and down the corridor. She’s so devastated she can barely walk. Her three-inch Prada pumps aren’t helping, either.
The psychic is close on our heels, and she’s still shouting warnings about me using my powers for good and not for selfish gain, blah, blah, blah. Where did Lucy find this quack, anyhow?
Finally, we spill onto the sidewalk into the blaring sunlight. It was darker in there than I’d realized and I have to squint to see. I walk Lucy toward the street and look left and right in desperate search of a taxi stand. There’s none in sight. I shudder at the thought of taking the Metro. But it’s either that or walk, and these Christian Louboutins aren’t going to get me very far.
“Come on, Lucy,” I say, dragging her away from Madame Antoinette’s. “A hot shower and some good wine will make you feel much better.”
Lucy only nods. The tears are still flowing freely down her cheeks, and we’re getting odd looks from the passersby. Great. Just what I want. To draw attention to ourselves in this seedy part of town.
After walking for what seems like forever in a random direction, it’s clear we’re getting farther and farther away from civilization. The storefronts are getting shabbier, and most are closed for business. And despite the fact it’s close to rush hour, there are very few people out and about. I don’t want to admit that I’m lost. It wouldn’t do any good anyway. It’s not like Lucy is in a state of mind to help us get out of this area. Deciding I have no other choice, I stop the nicest looking man I see.
“Pardon,” I say in my best French accent. “Ou est le Metro?”
The man starts rambling to me in French, far too fast for my high school French education to be of any help. Thankfully, he’s gesturing, too. I catch a few words I recognize, and by the time he’s done, I’m pretty sure I know where we’re heading.
Merci!” I yell as we take off in the direction he’d pointed.
We walk a few more blocks until we reach the street I was sure he’d said to take a right onto. My toes are already starting to blister and the pads of my feet are burning. These shoes were definitely not made for walking. I look right and my stomach sinks. Oh, my God.
“CanCan,” Lucy says in her teary, little girl voice. “We don’t have to walk up that, do we?”
I want to cry right along with her. San Francisco has nothing on this hill. But the good news is that it’s way more populated here. We must be in some kind of tourist-y area. You’d think that would mean taxis, but there still aren’t any to be found.
I grab Lucy’s arm and give her a tug. We fall into the fold of the masses that are heading up the hill and begin to climb. Within seconds, my legs are burning, and I’m cursing Christian Louboutin’s name all the way. Who gave permission for men to design women’s shoes, anyhow? I’d like to see him walk up this monster hill in these four-inchers.
“My feet hurt,” Lucy whines, much to my annoyance.
“I’m not having a picnic here, either,” I say and immediately regret my tone.
Lucy sniffles. “You don’t have to be so mean. I just found out my soul mate’s been cheating on me!”
I want to roll my eyes and tell her that if he’s cheating on her, he’s probably not actually her soul mate, but I know that won’t help. “I’m sorry, Luce. Listen, we’ll be back at the hotel soon and then we can sort all this out. Maybe it’s just a misunderstanding.”
“Okay,” she says, her voice small. And then, out of nowhere, she begins to wail like a banshee. “But it’s not just a misunderstanding! He cheated on me!”
She’s stopped walking now, and we’re creating a scene in the middle of the busy sidewalk. I never knew people could rubberneck while walking, but apparently they can.
“Luce,” I say in a hushed voice as if I’m talking to a toddler. “Listen to me. You have to pull yourself together, okay? We just need to get back to the hotel and then you can cry and scream and throw things ‘till your heart’s content. Okay, Lucy?”
She nods and opens her tear-filled eyes. Damn it, I’m going to kill Steve for doing this to her. What a jerk.
I look back up the hill. We’re not even halfway. I’m not sure my feet will make it, and I’m pretty sure they’re bleeding underneath the leopard print pony hair. But we have no choice. Still no cabs to be found.
Another five minutes of walking vertically up the hill and we finally make it to the top.
“Oh, thank God!” I’m panting hard. My quads are burning. And I’m more than ready to trade these damned heels for the fluffy slippers at Georges V.
“Where’s the Metro?” Lucy asks, looking around the area. Trees cover us overhead and before us is a staircase that’s so long, I’m certain it leads straight to hell.
“Pardon!” I grab a woman’s arm and she shoots me one of the most intimidating looks I’ve ever received. Huh. I’ll have to practice that one in the mirror. As an executive I’ll need a really intimidating glare. “Le Metro, s’il vous plait?”
She rolls her eyes as if I’m the greatest nuisance to ever enter her life and then points down the staircase. As she moves on, I squint to try and see what’s at the bottom. It looks more like a subway station for ants from this vantage point, but I can just make out the sign that says “Metropolitan.”
“All right.” I grab Lucy’s arm again. “Let’s go.”
We begin the descent down the long flight of stairs with the hundreds of other people, and I can only hope they aren’t all going to the Metro. Much to my dismay, they are. All of them. I feel like I’m in a swarm of bees tunneling into the hive. It’s absolute chaos when we finally reach the bottom of the stairs in the station.
Already, I’m dreading this experience. I’ve been to Paris a hundred times, and this is the first time I’ve been subjected to a subway ride. It’s no small feat figuring out how to purchase our rides and getting the still-distraught Lucy through the turnstile.
Once we’re on the platform waiting for the train, Lucy looks around as though she’s just waking up from a deep sleep. “Where are we?” she asks, clearly perplexed by the foreign environment.
“What do you mean where are we? Good grief, Luce, haven’t you been with me for the last thirty excruciating minutes?”
“Not really. I’m kind of devastated over here.”
I nod. “I know.” I put my arm around her and give her a half hug. It’s in this inopportune moment, while we’re stuffed like sardines onto a French subway platform, that I realize how badly I need to pee. Crap. How often do Metro trains come? And how long is the ride back to the hotel? It could be five minutes or it could be an hour. I’ve never been underground, but I do know it took about twenty minutes by car to get to Madame Antoinette’s. Surely it’ll take longer to get home by train. Can I hold it?
I close my eyes and try to distract myself with thoughts of work. Tomorrow’s my big presentation to Le Roi and, in all honesty, I probably should not have taken the afternoon off to come with Lucy to see the psychic. What was I thinking? I should have talked her out of it like a good friend and gone over my presentation like a good employee. Then I wouldn’t be in this blasted predicament.
I pull out my phone, hoping something on there will distract me. I don’t have service, but I do have about a hundred missed calls from my mom and three messages from my boss. Oh, God. I’m not nearly as worried about the calls from my boss as I am the ones from my mom. Why did she call so many times? Is it Dad? Oh, my God! What if he’s sick? Or worse! Or maybe it’s about my sister. I told her not to go to Cabo with that guy, but did she listen? Of course not! No one ever listens to me, which is why I’m standing in a stupid Metro station instead of drinking wine in my deluxe suite at Georges V.
I’m dancing from foot to foot now and clenching my vaginal muscles so hard I could probably crack a walnut. But nothing is helping. The sensation is just getting worse. And worse.
The woman next to us pulls out her water bottle, and I almost let go right then and there. She swishes the water around, takes a drink. More swishing. I’m going to lose it.
“Luce, I have to find a bathroom,” I say in a rush.
“What?” She turns to me in alarm. “We’re in a subway station.”
“I know, but I can’t hold it.” Desperate, I turn to a somewhat friendly looking stranger beside us. “Est ce qu’il y a un toilette ici?” I have no idea if that was right, but it’s the best I can do under the circumstances.
The man points toward the exit and rambles something I’m too crazed to even try to understand. But it doesn’t matter. It appears there is a bathroom, so I push through the crowd and take off in search of it. I hear Luce’s heels clicking behind me as I make my way back through the station, the same way we came, keeping an eye out for anything that looks like it could be a bathroom. By the time we get back to the top where the turnstiles are, I’m still searching. But there’s nothing. And now I’m certain the man was trying to tell me the bathrooms were outside. Damn it!
I glance behind me. Luce is still there; we’re both fighting the mobs of people who are trying to get to the trains.
“I have to go up!” I yell back to her.
“But we already paid!”
How can she worry about money at a time like this? Or at all, for that matter? The shoes we’re wearing would pay most people’s mortgages. For several months. A piddly subway fare was hardly of any concern.
I race through the turnstile and up the stairs—not easy to do when everyone else is coming down. I barely even notice the excruciating pain in my feet anymore. All I care about is that little booth that stands about 200 feet from me now. By this time, I’m pretty sure my vagina could win a weight lifting contest.
I feel like William Wallace as I battle my way there, and finally, it’s before me. I breathe a sigh of relief as I tug on the door, only to discover it’s locked. Oh, my God. This can’t be happening.
Okay, deep breaths. It wants me to insert money. That’s all. No problem. “Change, Luce! Do you have any change?”
Poor miserable Lucy hobbles up to me, her tear-streaked face looking mutinous. “No,” she says.
She’s no good to me. I have to get into that bathroom, but where can I get change? I look around and see a newspaper vendor across the street. I’ll get change there. I’m about to step off the curb when I hear the blessed sound of the door opening behind me. I spin around, frantic.
“Hold the door!” I yell. The perplexed woman holds it open, but is rambling on in French as she does. “I know,” I say, assuming she’s upset that I’m trying to get in without paying. “I’m sorry, but I don’t have any money. Je n’ai pas…money!”
I run past her into the little stall and try to shut the door, but the woman hangs on to it.
“Let go!” I yell.
She yells something back in French and tugs the door open a little more. I tug it toward me. She tugs it toward her. I’m seriously going to pee all over her. With one final superhuman yank, I pull the door shut. It slams and locks. I hike up my skirt and pull down my panties. I squat over the toilet and then a whirring sound begins. I look up, wondering what it is, but I don’t have to wait to find out.
“Ahhhhhhh!” I’m screaming bloody murder as a thousand jets of soapy water hit me. I want to keep it off my face, but there’s nowhere to turn that the jets can’t find me.
Luce is pounding on the door. “Candace! Candace, what’s wrong? Oh, my God! Candace, are you alive?”
Thirty seconds later, it’s all over. The bathroom is wet, but quiet. I’m dripping from head to toe. Outside, I hear Lucy bawling and begging for help because her best friend was just attacked by the bathroom. I realize that in the chaos, I peed down my legs, all over my Christian Louboutins. I know I should care, but I’m just so relieved. And since the rest of me is drenched, I’m pretty sure no one will notice.
Carefully, and with as much dignity as I can muster, I replace my panties, pull my skirt down and open the door.
“Oh, my God! Candace, you’re alive!” Luce comes running and throws her arms around my neck. “Why are you wet?”
I close my eyes and sigh. “Self cleaning toilets.” I want to cry, but I can’t. Instead, I burst into laughter as I spy a taxi stand about a hundred paces away.

Jerrica Knight-Catania left her "glamorous" life as an actress in favor of becoming a romance author, where she could write about truly glamorous lives. She currently resides in southeast Florida with her real-life hero of a husband, their shy Russian Blue, Dr. Snuggle, and their beautiful daughter who is most definitely a princess-in-training.

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