Friday, November 29, 2019

Freebie Friday For Christmas Romance Fans!

If you like Christmas recipes with a sweet romance story, A Neverland Inn Christmas is just the book for you. And it's FREE today! 

Download your free copy here

Here's the back copy:

The Neverland Inn is a place where dreams come true--but this time, will love be on the menu? (16 DELICIOUS RECIPES INCLUDED)

Sarah Michaels is back as the proprietor of the Neverland Inn in this delightful sweet novella perfect for the holidays. But this time, she has her hands full with more than delicious baking. Her best friend is getting married and quickly turning into Bridezilla. She's in charge of Spindrift Cove's Christmas market and trying to prevent all out war between some of the vendors. But the task more challenging than whipping up a souffle is figuring out how to get her serious beau, Daniel Cavanaugh, to say those three words she's been longing to hear.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is filled with lots of family and friends, great food, and a good book to snuggle up with!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Book Review: Heart of the Rebellion

I was so excited to see that Sian Bessey had a new book coming out. I LOVE her historical romances and when she came to my book club, she talked a little bit about the behind-the-scenes of writing this book and I could hardly wait to have it in my hands!

One of Sian's many talents is seamlessly weaving history into a compelling story. I had no idea about the Welsh rebellion and what was happening back then. This story brings that to life through Rhys ap Tudor's eyes as he returns to his home in North Wales after serving King Richard. All is not well on the homefront, however, and he and his brother are soon called upon to use their skills they developed as protectors to the king in the rebellion. Beautiful Lady Catrin gets caught up in the intrigue and must decide where she stands in the conflict. She's attracted to Rhys, but her father has promised her hand in marriage to an oppressive and unkind man who hates her Welsh heritage. Every decision Catrin makes has far-reaching consequences for her and the people she's come to love.

I was so caught up in this story I could hardly put it down! And don't you love the cover? Rhys ap Tudor is a swoon-worthy hero, trying to do what's best for his countrymen. But when he meets Catrin, his heart is drawn to her, no matter what danger and intrigue is swirling around them. Catrin is a force to be reckoned with as she tries to decide which path to follow in her life and how to best help the Welsh and keep a delicate balance of peace. This story is full of adventure, romance, and history. Definitely one for my keeper shelf!

You can get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

September 1400 King Richard II of England is dead. And after three years in His Majesty’s service, Rhys ap Tudor and his brother Gwilym are finally free to return to their ancestral home in North Wales. Their long-anticipated homecoming is overshadowed, however, by the harsh changes they encounter in their once peaceful land. The new king, Henry IV, rules with an iron fist, and the country is ripe for rebellion. Instantly thrust into the forefront of the conflict, the proud Tudor brothers enter the fight for their freedom. Lady Catrin Buckley is alert to the unrest swirling around her. As the daughter of an English father and a Welsh mother, she knows too well the trouble her lineage poses. Her own battle, however, is one of the heart: she is to be married to a man she neither knows nor loves. Then an unexpected encounter with the enigmatic Rhys ap Tudor changes everything. Soon, Catrin finds herself swept into a rebellion that could not only change history but also rewrite her own future.

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Christmas Gifts for the Reader on Your List!

Would you like an autographed copy of one of my bestselling books for the reader on your list? Or an official Griffin Force book tote?

I have a limited number available and it's the perfect Christmas gift! You can order yours today by clicking here 

Monday, November 25, 2019

Hawaii Five-0 Recap & Review: The Tale of Two Hidden Stashes

This episode features children whose parents have been robbed. Happy Thanksgiving!

We start out with Steve and Junior getting out chairs and tables for their Thanksgiving party. Junior mentions that he remembers around the holidays after his sister passed away, he thought he had a handle on things, but he didn't and since Steve said he wasn't up for the annual football game, if he feels like the Thanksgiving party might be too much, let him know and Junior will pull the plug. Awww. Steve says he appreciates that, but he's good. There's a knock at the door and Danny shows up with bags saying his place has mold so he needs to move in for six or seven days. And he expects to use the room Junior is staying in, since Junior could just sleep on the couch. Junior looks annoyed and informs Danny that the couch is Eddie's. Steve seems resigned and says Danny is welcome, but he's making a chore wheel. He mercifully takes a call and they head out to their COW. (Case of the week.)

Tani is already at the scene and fills them in as they walk down a beautifully landscaped area of the home's property. It seems poor George Parks came home early from a business trip and thought there were intruders on his property, but instead of calling HPD, he called his son, who tells him to call HPD. George decides to go get his 12 gauge instead and gets killed by blunt force trauma to the back of his head for his trouble. His son gets worried and comes over, finds the body and calls 911. His father was robbed, but it's not the kind of robbery you would expect.

Cue music.

The robbers stole a tree and nothing else. Didn't even go in the house. They were smart tree-robbers, too, since they spray-painted the security cameras. From their bootprints there were four of them and the tree they stole was a koa tree so it's probably worth a million dollars or so. Since no one can see the tree from the street, the robbers must have been on the property before, but since TwelveGaugeGeorge had hundreds of parties at his house, it could be anyone.

It's still early in the investigation so they don't have forensics and have to concentrate on potential buyers. Junior gets a call from his mom, while everyone listens in. His parents were robbed, too! Steve sends Junior and Tani to go over there and then let him know what happens. Meanwhile, Steve goes to talk to TwelveGaugeGeorge's kids. Whoever did this had to know dad was out of town, but since TwelveGaugeGeorge attended a trade conference in Singapore over every Thanksgiving, all the house staff and ground crew knew he would be out of town since they got time off. Steve asks for everyone's names.

Back at the secondary parental robbery scene, MamaReigns is telling Junior how she was only gone for half an hour and when she came home the back door was smashed in. Dad is already at the hardware store getting supplies for a new door and doesn't know Junior is there. Didn't want to bother him. Just like at George's robbery, not much was taken, but they did get an old laptop and radio as well as dad's stashed cigar box hidden in a wall with all dad's valuables. Junior flashes back to him showing a friend where the cigar box was. Uh oh.

At HQ, Lou found a guy named LoLo Joe, who always has koa wood for sale. Him and Quinn are going to pay him a visit. Tunior are talking in the car, while HPD is canvassing pawn shops for MomandDadReigns' stuff. Junior is pretty sure he knows who did it. The only other person who knew about that stash spot was his best friend growing up, Owen. Poor Owen had an addict for a mother who got arrested and left her eight-year-old son living by himself. The Reigns family took him in for a year, but when his mom got sober, she made Owen come live with her again. Junior was bragging about his dad's purple heart one day, so he got the cigar box out to show Owen and he must have seen the gold watch, too. Tani is all sympathetic and says that since addiction is genetic maybe Owen didn't dodge that bullet like she did.

LouLiu go visit LoLo Joe and tell him about the theft and murder. They came to the right place! LoLo Joe says he was contacted by some guys coming into a big supply of koa and he didn't get their names, but he's supposed to meet with them in about an hour! The team goes to the meeting spot instead, but all the tree-robbers are dead and the tree is still there. So what were they killed for? Well, Quinn IDs the men in the warehouse and three of them had records, but the fourth was clean and a former gardener for George. And the whole tree wasn't left behind, a part with a large cavity was taken. So it must have been being used as a stash spot! (Cigar box/koa tree, I'm seeing the stash spot parallels!) And whatever was stashed was valuable enough to kill for, so George or his kids must know what it is.

Back to the B robbery storyline. Tunior go visit Owen's mother and she's the classic addict. Attitude, her place is a mess, the works. Tani pokes around and sees some "happies" and takes an obvious picture of it. Apparently mom gave Owen $100 to score but he came back with $50 in crap and of course she doesn't know who his dealer is or where he got his score. Tunior leaves and Junior is feeling the guilt because when Owen lived with them, he did great. Junior tried to get Owen in rehab, but got turned down so many times he stopped trying. Tani tries to reassure him that he did what he could and with a mom like that, Owen never stood a chance. Also, addicts have to take responsibility for themselves, or no help will get them clean. Luckily Tani's brother knows who deals the "happies" and gives them a location. They head over.

Danny brings Steve coffee and he's instantly suspicious, telling Danny he doesn't get the guest room, so Danny takes the coffee away. (Did Danny really think he could just boot Junior out of his room? Really?) Steve also cautions Danny against too much caffeine because he gets jittery and stupid when he has too much. Adam comes in and they found an earring lodged in the lower section of the trunk and got DNA off it that popped from a cold case fifteen years ago. A Jane Doe was murdered and dismembered. They found all her body parts except her head. (Ew. Guess we know what was inside that tree now.)

Tunior go to a park and find Owen. Junior is pretty straight to the point and says he knows why he's there and Owen immediately caves, says he's sorry, and tells him where he pawned the stuff. He kept the purple heart, though, back at his motel. Junior has him empty his pockets and he crushes the drugs under his shoe before he gives Owen two options: get turned in for the robbery or go to rehab. All he has to do is say yes. (Um, didn't Tani just tell him that addicts have to take responsibility for themselves? Okay, well, maybe ultimatums will work just as well. This is H50 land!)

The team is trying to figure out which of George's kids out of Darren, Preston, and Olivia would have killed Jane Doe and then hide her head in a state-protected tree on private property. Lou comes in with a story to tell and we cut to the Blue Room of Doom with Preston in the chair. There was a discrepancy in the timeline Preston gave because he said that when his dad didn't answer the phone he went to his place and called 911, but there's 45 minutes between last time he called and the 911 call. Since he only lives fifteen minutes away from his dad's house, there's a half hour missing. Maybe that was just enough time to get to the warehouse and kill the tree-robber guys! They know he needed to get to the tree and get the skull back that he stashed fifteen years back. Quinn pulls a skull from a duffel bag while Lou shows him an earring. Tell us who she was. Preston caves immediately and says her name was Leah. She was a German backpacker, and he met her at a beach party and took her home since no one was there. They were drinking, doing drugs, and messing around when he jokingly pushed her into the pool and she hit her head. He didn't mean for it to happen. Quinn points out that he obviously did mean to cut her body into little pieces and scatter her around the forest, though. Preston pauses, but then says he panicked and didn't want his mistake to ruin his dad so he took care of the problem. They tell him to walk them through the last fifteen hours. When they exit the room, they tell Adam that Preston bought it all, and Quinn's idea to show the skull came from Hamlet and Noelani supplied the prop. (Was that really someone's skull then?) Preston told them the real skull is in a canal and CSU will have to go get it. Lou doesn't believe Preston is the killer though because he was so emotional and doesn't seem like the type who dismembered people. But who would Preston be protecting?

Owen gives back the cigar box and is sorry, especially since DaddyReigns was good to him back in the day. He gets in the rehab van while Junior looks through the cigar box. There are letters from Afghanistan in it that he's never seen before so he opens them.

Back at the MEs office, Noelani shows them that Leah was wounded and unconscious after the fall in the pool that Preston described, but she didn't die from that. She had three more depressed fractures on the other side of her skull that killed her. So Preston was covering for someone else in the family. (Which we already knew.)

LiuLou go to George's house where there's a wake/Thanksgiving gathering going on. The house clears pretty fast when Lou announces they want to talk about Leah Schmidt the woman who was murdered here fifteen years ago. They don't believe Preston's confession since he didn't now how she died, but they think Olivia and Darren do. The sibs are outraged, telling them to get out and how dare you, but then Preston comes in, all emotional saying how they let him think he was a murderer for fifteen years! He thought Leah was dead when he pulled her out of the pool! But Olivia gave him some pills and sent him to bed, telling him she'd take care of it. And she did. They show Olivia striking Leah in the head. Olivia doesn't confess yet, though, so Lou and Adam start giving her reasons. They were all drinking and doing drugs and possible manslaughter charges against Preston might leave the family open to a multi-million dollar lawsuit. Preston is still whining about how he thought Olivia did this amazing thing for him so he confessed to protect her, but now he knows the truth, he's done. (Didn't he wonder what they'd done right after it happened? What did he think happened when the news reported a dismembered body? Oy.) Anyway, the sibs are cuffed and shooting dirty looks at each other when they're put in police cars. Darren's house turned up a dismembered AR15 (more dismemberment?) and they already linked the bullets to the warehouse. Apparently, Preston saw his dad's body and the tree theft in progress, so he called his sister. Olivia told him to follow the truck at a distance and see where they took the wood. He did, then gave her the address before he came back to the house and called 911. It was Darren who went over to the warehouse and shot the men, then he hooked back up with Olivia and dumped the skull. (I thought they said Preston did that?) So a pretty harsh Thanksgiving for the Park family.

At Junior's dad's house, DaddyReigns is fixing the door when Junior comes out with the stash box and gives it back to him. He doesn't tell him that Owen did it and just says some tweakers did. Tani is gathering MamaReigns old laptop and radio. He brings up the letters in the box because DaddyReigns told Junior not to write him from deployment because he didn't want to know what was going on with him, but now he finds out Dad got Junior's CO to write and keep tabs on him. Since Dad isn't big on telling people his feelings, the letters speak for him since he read them a bunch of times, which tells Junior they still have a shot. Junior is never going to stop trying to make things right with his dad even if he's mad for what Junior did at the parole hearing. Dad says he's not mad at Junior, but mad at himself because he couldn't forgive. He won't make that mistake again. They hug. And since MamaReigns didn't cook, Junior says he knows a place they can all eat for free. (Well, hopefully he helps Steve with the food bill or something!)

Back at Steve's house, Flippa, Princess, and Kame are there. Princess is looking over the table full of food and says she won't send Steve the bill until next month. Quinn is over talking to Danny. She connected with Leah's dad who was relieve to get some closure. She asks if she'll meet Danny's family today, but he says no, his ex has them this year. He also tells her that him and Rachel are trying to work it out and give it another shot, but when Quinn asks how it's going he says, she's not here. (Hmm...what does that mean exactly?) Junior comes in with his parents and introduces them. Steve is happy to meet them, tells them he's sorry to hear about the robbery, and how lucky it was that Junior was able to sort it all out. When Junior leaves to get his parents a drink Steve goes on to say that their son is one of the finest men he's had the honor of working with, and they raised him right. Tani comes in with all of MamaReigns stolen stuff, but it doesn't look like a laptop and old radio. MamaReigns hugs her while Junior watches. Tani comes over to him and asks if the talk went well. He thanks her for not only today, but for everything. A year ago she gave him a pep talk before he went to his parents' for Thanksgiving and things have been up and down with his dad ever since then, but she's been a constant in his life, so thanks! She gives him a happy look and says where else would she have been? And he goes on that he's been distracted with his dad and that other things in his life have taken a backseat, but he's looking forward to changing that now. She says that sounds good and there's smiles all around. (Honestly, they still give me that sibling vibe, but it's easy to see that the show is going for something more than that. Oh well.)

Lou comes up to Steve and says Renee and the kids will be there in ten minutes and Percy's even coming and bringing the dessert. (Thank goodness we were spared having to watch Percy again. Oy!) Lou tells Steve it's nice that he's letting Danny stay while they're working on his place, but Steve says Lou knows as well as he does there is no mold in his house, but he gets it. It's been an interesting year for Steve between Joe and mom, so Danny's worried and wants to keep an eye on him. Lou says it's nice Steve has a lot of friends, but he better work on his poker face because Danny is a detective and is going to figure out that Steve knows he's lying. Steve says he doesn't have to find out tonight, then Adam throws the football to Steve asking to play a few downs before they eat. Steve looks at everyone, then says, "Let's go."

So, a nice Thanksgiving ending scene with Steve after two parallel cases of children and a friend trying to hide their crimes, but Five-0 ferreting it out of them. What did you think? Did you watch?

Friday, November 22, 2019

Freebie Friday for Christmas Romance Fans!

Today is the last day to get Hope for Christmas by Rachelle Christensen for free! This looks like a heartwarming Christmas story that I could snuggle up with by the fire.

Get your free copy here

Here's the back copy:

Anika Fletcher hates Christmas--its promises of good tidings and hope for the future are as tinseled as the ornaments on Kenworth's Hope Tree. Despite her feelings, Anika wants to maintain her daughter's faith in the magic of the season and gladly accepts a second job working with the handsome Carlos Rodriguez to restore Kenworth's old fashioned soda fountain. Carlos is no stranger to hard times and slowly shares his life of light and joy with Anika as they work together. Just as her fragile soul begins to feel hope again, an ill-timed act of charity changes everything. Anika isn't sure who she can trust or if hope is worth nurturing--especially at Christmas when it's easy to enjoy a kiss and believe love can last longer than the season.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

My Son is Getting Married!

I have been a little distracted lately because my son is getting married! It has been such a whirlwind of preparations and the big day is finally here. They are such a cute couple and I'm so excited to be adding a new daughter-in-law to our family.

It will add one more thing I'm grateful for this Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Book Review and Giveaway!

I was hesitant and excited all at the same time when I saw that Stephanie Black had a new book coming out. She is literally the only author I ever read that writes such deliciously creepy novels that walk that razor-edge line of being too much for a scaredy-cat like me. (But I can't resist reading them!) Her plots are always riveting and this one was no exception.

In To Die, To Sleep is about a psychologist named Natalie Marsh (we first saw her in Mind Games) and she's decided she needs a break and is going to get some R&R at Ellsberg Keep and catch up with her cousin Lily. There isn't any cell phone reception or internet up there, so she can truly get away. Unfortunately, from nearly the moment she arrives it is anything but relaxing. A mysterious death is just the beginning of this roller-coaster ride of a story that had so many twists and turns I had no idea who to trust and who was the villain! (I can almost always guess, but not this time!) The characters were well-drawn and it was easy to see the author had done her research into psychology and the sheer courage and tenacity it takes to try and figure out a criminal mind. Though Ellsberg Keep is definitely a place I would never go myself, the setting was so creepy and perfect as the backdrop for To Die, To Sleep. And, as a Shakespeare fan, I have to say I really loved all the shades of Hamlet throughout the story. So clever!

I love all of Stephanie's books, but I think she has truly outdone herself with this one. This book is hard to put down, but was definitely one I had to read with the lights on!

Get your copy here

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

Here's the back copy:

After surviving a difficult year, Natalie Marsh is heading for Ellsberg Keep, an exclusive mountain resort that promises to provide the tranquility she desperately needs. She’s eager to relax and to reconnect with her estranged cousin Lily, who works as the Keep’s nurse—a reunion that begins abruptly when an accident on the winding mountain roads lands Natalie in the infirmary in the care of her cousin. They have little time to bond over childhood memories, though, because everything is thrown into chaos when the owner of the Keep is rushed to the medical wing, wildly delusional and raving about a murder plot.

Despite Lily’s care, the owner dies. Is his death simply an accident, or are his frenzied suspicions true? Determined to help Lily cope with the loss of her patient—and the accusations that she’s to blame for his death—Natalie searches for answers and is swept into a mystery that grows more puzzling as frightening hallucinations torment the dead man’s son. When a staff member who asks too many questions disappears, it is clear that this idyllic resort harbors someone with deadly intent—and Natalie may not survive to uncover the truth.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

In The Non-Fiction Corner: A Different Kind of Strong

In the Non-Fiction Corner With Lauren

First of all, I LOVE the title of this book. It captures your attention, and it really makes you think about what kind of strong you want to be. In Ether, when we read about “weak things becoming strong” sometimes it’s hard to believe that the Lord can take a fault that we feel like we were born with and turn it into something we call a strength. But Daniel Trotter proves that we truly can become strong if we rely on the only power that truly matters, the power of God.

Trotter begins his book by describing how he got his start in addictive behavior. He then moves back and forth between flashbacks throughout his growing up years and his camping trip where he fasted for 30 days and found answers from God. Yes, you read that right. This incredible man fasted for 30 DAYS. If you’re like me and can barely make it through a 24-hour fast, this seems impossible. But for Daniel Trotter, anything is possible with God. He gives just amount the right about of detail about the trials he experienced in his life, and the fast-paced story make for a quick-read that you won’t want to put down. I love that even if you don’t fast for 30 days, Daniel Trotter shows that God is there and loves each one of us, no matter what we have done. It is always all about becoming.

Get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Daniel Trotter began a forty-day fast. He was consumed by the question and desperate to know, what do I do? After thirty days in the wilderness, God sent him home with an answer. It was, “Come back to Me.” For decades, Daniel was held in thrall to addiction and depression. He had friends, but life had lost all meaning. During a radical fast, Daniel encountered God – and great temptation. Afterward, he lost his wife, and his home, but he gained a new perspective – God’s. He went back to school and graduated with honors. God blessed him with a remarriage to someone who understands his heart and shares his faith. He has found peace and purpose. Daniel found freedom in God’s love and in following God and living according to his precepts. Daniel’s memoir will show you how God can heal every physical, mental and emotional hurt and help you to become whole.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Hawaii Five-0 Recap & Review: The One With Sad Steve

We start out with Steve (still with cuts on his face, so nice job continuity team!) sitting on his bed remembering the last moments with Doris. Alex O'Loughlin has such an expressive face, you can just see the devastation on it as he thinks back to his last words to his mom before she died. His phone is buzzing and he doesn't answer any of the messages from Danny.  We cut to a helo with a trauma patient going into cardiac arrest. They give him an epi shot which brings him back to consciousness and he attacks the paramedics, throwing them out of the helo and then he goes after the pilot.

Cue music.

When we come back Grover is picking up his "niece" from the airport. While she's in town, she'll have some downtime, but she doesn't want to do what Grover suggests, Siobhan just wants to go see where he works. Grover seems surprised. They get to the basketball workout Grover had set up in front of the UH coach with Metta World Peace running it because he owed "Fat Man" a favor. (Really? That's what he calls Grover? *eyebrows raised*) (And while I thought the actress playing Siobhan did a good job, she looked a lot older than a high school student to me.)

Adam is at the crime scene when Tani and Quinn arrive. They talk about how no one's seen Steve and hope that he's taking time off to process what happened with his mom, but then he pulls up in his truck. They're all telling him they've got it and that they didn't think he'd be back at it so soon, but he just says hey I appreciate your concern but I need to get back to work. (And sometimes you just need something to distract you when the grief is getting in your head, you know?) Adam gives him the report that a medevac was deployed after hikers found an unconscious man suffering from exposure. The crew was inbound to King's Medical when the patient turned violent and killed two paramedics, forcing the pilot to land before he killed him. HPD put out a BOLO based on the hikers' description, but since he killed three people to avoid being taken to the ER, he's probably a fugitive. (That's not the only conclusion to draw here, but okay, we'll go with it.)

Speaking of the fugitive, he's bleeding all over the floor and everything he touches at some market. Ew! The storekeeper rings him up while the guy hefts a snow globe in his hand and gives the storekeeper a weird look. (Uh oh. That can't be good.) Back at HQ all they have is the composite from the hikers---no DNA or prints from the chopper (why is that? Seems weird since his blood and fingerprints should be all over that!) Adam checked Interpol alerts and inter-agency reports and got nothing. Steve points out they have the location of the airlift so Junior and Adam are going to go take a look with Eddie.  Tani gets a call and meets Duke at the market where the shopkeeper was indeed killed with a snowglobe. (What a horrible way to go!) They did get security footage of their fugitive, though, so they're going to get that image out. Oh, and he bought a burner phone so they might be able to figure out who he was trying to contact!

Siobhan puts some moves on Metta and makes the basket over him before the workout is over. While she goes to change, the coach comes to talk to Grover. She says that Siobhan is special and they want to offer her a scholarship, but they're concerned about some mystery thing that happened. When Siobhan comes out Grover tells her that the coach said she hasn't seen a player like her ever, but there is the matter of the thing back home. (Just say it already!) Siobhan says that it's not how he thinks, but what Grover thinks is that she got in a fight with a girl and got expelled, even though she was the #1 high school player in the nation. (Yawn)

Quinn and Tani track the Hong Kong phone number the burner phone called and even get an address conveniently close to where they are located off of it. (I thought burners were untraceable?) Quinn and Tani head over there. Steve meets them there and all three are in full tac gear. Steve has the women set a perimeter before they breach and he goes front. He sees movement through the side windows and they breach, finding a guy inside. He looks smarmy and says he's Richie Gormican from the DEA. SlickRick is also looking for the bloody fugitive (whose name is Ben Tam.) SlickRick says Ben won't leave the island because he's got $100 million worth of heroin somewhere in the jungle.

And speaking of the jungle, Adam and Junior are almost to the point where the helo picked up BloodyBen. They're chatting about Steve coming back to work so soon. Adam is worried because apparently he knows what it's like to try and deal with this kind of trauma on your own, thinking you've got a handle on things, then out of nowhere you realize you're not coping at all. (How did Adam's mom die was all I could think about when he was talking) Junior is philosophical and says all they can do is keep an eye on the guy and make sure they're there for him. (Always practical) They give Eddie a scent out of a bag and he runs off.

SlickRick is telling them how he's been running an undercover op against heroin traffickers moving product out of Hong Kong for the last six months and were about to rewrite DEA history with the biggest drug haul Hawaii's ever seen, but five days ago a Cessna loaded with 170 lbs of heroin en route to a private airstrip in Oahu crashed and aerial searches turned up jack. So SlickRick has been monitoring cartel comms, waiting for chatter on the shipment. He was up on the same Hong Kong phone that BloodyBen called from the burner and came to the same house that the Chinese cartel sent BloodyBen to. Whoever lives in the house is somehow connected to the business and Tani says that the house is being rented to Sam Bishop---Cullen's fixer. Quinn reminds us that Cullen suggested there's a bigger conspiracy and Steve says that this proves there's a wider criminal network that connects Cullen's right hand man to the Asian heroin trade. Bishop has access to men and guns and is currently accompanying BloodyBen back into jungle to find that heroin. Hey, aren't Adam and Junior there, too? That's not good. Junior's not answering his phone so they decide to go and find them. Quinn isn't happy about letting SlickRick come along because she doesn't trust him. Steve doesn't trust him either, but says he's the best way to get to BloodyBen. (Why? He's as much in the dark as they are, but whatever) Quinn keeps trying to get hold of Junior and Adam, while SlickRick is chatting up McG. He was hoping not to like McG, heard about what happened in Mexico. Thought it wasn't good for the DEA image when Steve came in and took care of Carmen Lucia. That makes it tough for pros like him. (He's just so slimy!) Steve just gives him a look and says everything has a price. SlickRick goes for the, "I heard about what happened with your mom. I'm sorry," line. Steve thanks him. (How did SlickRick know so many details about that op in Mexico and Steve's CIA mom? Things that make me go hmmm....)

Grover's wife comes in to their new apartment (that has a gorgeous view) and he recaps what happened, that the coach is concerned about the fight and dad says she fell in with the gang Lady Apostles. UH really wants her and will give a full scholarship, but they'll only take Siobhan if she lives off-campus with them, since Lou is with Five-0, that would be a positive influence. Lou isn't too positive, though, and Siobhan is listening and then leaves. Lou and Renee decide they can figure it out and go to tell her they'll help her, but she's gone. (I wish we could have gotten a little update on Will.)

Eddie finds the crashed plane full of heroin with the dead pilot still inside. They don't have too much time to decide what to do before Quinn finally gets through to tell them the killer is headed their way, but he's already there with a bunch of other killers! Uh oh. The team is ten minutes out so Adam, Junior, and Eddie take cover to wait.

A bunch of men with guns drive up with Sam Bishop at the head. BloodyBen realizes someone was there when they see the cut in the heroin brick, so they start searching and find Adam. (Did his months on the run with Kono teach him nothing about hiding?) A gunfight ensues and Adam is the first out of ammunition. When Junior is almost out, the rest of the team shows up to save the day. Eddie even gets in on the action and bites a gunman who turns to shoot the dog. Steve shoots the bad guy before he shoots Eddie. In the end, BloodyBen is dead and Bishop is wounded. Steve calls for a medevac (I wonder if the paramedics are all, um, remember what happened last time we went out that way?) But when everything is wrapping up and the drugs are being loaded into a car, Quinn reports that Bishop is unconscious, but stable, and they'll call when he wakes up. SlickRick thanks McG and is happy everyone goes home with a win. He's going to get the haul back to HQ and hey, just to be nice, he'll give a shout out to Five-0. Bye, SlickRick.
Back at HQ, Steve is sitting on the couch in his office, his head in his hands. He looks tired. Adam comes in with a preliminary report from the ME's office. The dead DEA agent was Carl Brower who was on suspension for six months pending an internal affairs investigation, so he shouldn't have been on the plane at all. And guess what? His former partner is SlickRick. Steve has the Marshal's office track the car and by the time Tunior gets to it, there are only two dead marshals in it and no heroin. SlickRick got it all!

Steve is in action mode with APBs out and all airports on alert. This man is not going to leave the island and they are going to use every resource to make sure he doesn't! Luckily, Adam talked to DeadBrower's supervisor who said the guy was side-dealing with the Serbian mafia out of New York, so Adam put a flag on all known associates of that organization and he got a hit! A crew just touched down on a chartered plane at a private airstrip and the passengers were all using fake IDs. (Here's my question, what did Adam get a hit on if they had fake IDs and it was a charter plane on a private airstrip?) So the Serbs are probably the original buyers for the heroin and SlickRick is looking to make BloodyBen's sale without him. The team hurries over to the airfield. Meanwhile, SlickRick is looking at duffels of money while the heroin is being loaded and is so involved with the deal, he doesn't hear the sneaky police and Five-0 moving in! Steve takes SlickRick into custody and tells him things are about to get much worse for him.

Siobhan is in an Uber and Lou pulls it over, taking her to a bench beside the ocean to talk to his ungrateful niece. She's mad because she can't trust him after she heard what he said to Renee. She finally tells him the whole story of how Romella is a Lady Apostle and was pressing her friend Tiana to join and when Tiana wouldn't, Romella was going to shoot her. Siobhan stole the gun and when Romella came after her, they fought and Siobhan got expelled because the school just doesn't care. (There was some great emotional acting here!) Protecting her friend meant more than playing ball and if anyone cares, Siobhan wants to be a cop like Lou. We get a flashback of Lou taking a five-year-old Siobhan away from her dead mother who'd OD'd and it was a really sweet scene. She tells Lou she felt safe with him that day and he finally says if she wants to do law enforcement, he'll help her.   

Everyone is chilling at the shrimp truck, when Lou brings over Siobhan and introduces her. They've all heard about the workout with Metta World Peace and want to know how Lou knows him, but it's a long story. Steve drives up, but doesn't get out right away. Quinn climbs in and Steve looks a little emotional. He tells her he trusted SlickRick too quickly, but she waves that away and says he fooled all of them and besides, they got SlickRick, took our multiple Serbian gang members, and stopped a hundred mil of heroin from hitting the streets, so it was a good day! But that's not all! Bishop is getting released from ICU so he'll talk and they'll get some answers about who's behind this and more about the conspiracy! So, come get some food. Steve says he will in a minute and after she gets out, he calls Danny and tells him he's sorry, that he got all his messages. "I just miss her, Danny." (*sniffle* Alex O'Loughlin is hitting the grief out of the park this entire episode!)

The end scene is back at the hospital where a maintenance man is cleaning Bishop's room. There's no guard or security to be seen, so he puts a pillow over Bishop's face and shoots him, then slowly walks away with his cleaning cart. (Never trust the hospital maintenance people!) So I guess Quinn won't be getting those answers after all.

Did you watch? What did you think? 

Friday, November 15, 2019

Freebie Friday for Billionaire Romance Fans!

If you are looking for a billionaire romance to read this weekend, Victorine Lieske has her boxed set of FOUR billionaire romances for FREE today! 

Download your free copy here 

Here's the back copy:

Book 1: Her Big Fat Fake Billionaire Boyfriend
Kenzie just wants to show up at her sister's wedding and not look like a loser. When she mistakes Camden for her date-for-hire, things spin out of control. Camden starts to fall for her wacky personality, but Kenzie has her heart well guarded. Can her heart take another chance at love?

Book 2: Her Big Fat Foxy Billionaire Best Friend
Miranda is devastated when she's dumped days before her wedding. She convinces her best friend, billionaire game designer Drew Tucker, to go with her on her dream vacation -- the cruise that was supposed to be her honeymoon. She doesn't realize Drew has been in love with her since high school, and this trip will be torture for him. Can he convince her he's not the same high school nerd?

Book 3: Her Big Fat Hunky Billionaire Boss
Katherine adores her job at the small town newspaper. When Damian, the handsome owner, shows up right before Christmas, she suspects he's there to shut them down. Things get complicated when her manager forces her to be nice to the man and show him around town. How can she be falling for the one who could cost her the job she desperately needs?

Book 4: Her Big Fat Dreamy Billionaire Ex
Felicity should have known something was up when she took the all-expenses paid job photographing the beautiful resort in Belize. When she arrives, she finds her ex-fiance, Aiden, is the owner, and Grams, her beloved almost in-law is the one behind the setup. But Aiden hasn't changed, and she can't allow herself to fall for him again.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Meet Author Gale Sears!

We had so much fun chatting with author Gale Sears last night. She is the author of a new middle grade book called The Fifth Favorite, loves brownies and was a theater major before she became a writer. I learned so many fun facts about her! If you missed the interview, you can see the video here (It was Gale's first time doing this sort of thing and I thought she did great!)

The Fifth Favorite is about 11 year old Allie who has a lot on her plate. Sixth grade is stressful enough, but Allie believes that she's her mother's fifth favorite child in her family of six. There are so many cute moments and true-to-life circumstances that will touch your heart.

You can pre-order your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Eleven-year-old Allie Whitman is dealing with stress about her sixth-grade science project, embarrassment about her chicken costume for Halloween, and fear of the Mad Woman of Tahoe Meadow. Added to this, she feels that she is her mother's fifth favorite in their family of six. She tries hard to up her status, but competing with her dad, a charming older brother, a brainy older sister, and a younger sister with autism; Allie laments that she may be stuck forever as low man on the totem pole.

The stakes escalate for Allie when her brother Paul, blackmails her into keeping a dark secret in exchange for his silence about one of her foolhardy decisions. When Paul's secret turns dangerous, Allie must decide between her mother's approval or saving her brother's life.

The Fifth Favorite is a clever story filled with lovable characters, a bit of mystery, and plenty of hope.

Gale Sears is the best-selling author of the well-loved children's story, Christmas for a Dollar. She has a degree in play writing and a masters degree in theater arts. She grew up in the magic of Lake Tahoe, which colors the story of The Fifth Favorite.                     

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Book Review & Giveaway!

Maggie's Place by Annette Haws is a gritty, funny, poignant look into the life of Maggie, a woman living out her "third act" in an apartment building, a teen, Carly, who is homeless and trying to survive, and a secondary cast of characters that will quickly win your heart. I loved Maggie's quirky neighbors and the author will make you feel as if these are people you'd want to be friends with in real life. There is an underlying suspense element, however, because Maggie has a secret that leads to some unexpected connections and consequences. I won't give any hints, but there are some great twists and turns!

This story is full of complex relationships and truly shows the messiness of life. There is a thread of hope in second chances and true friendship, but the book doesn't shy away from how mistakes affect more than just one person and heartbreak and loss can change a person forever.

Ms. Haws has an easy writing style and an entertaining wit that gave the book a lighter tone than the story would have otherwise had. There was a good balance of emotion and suspense that will keep readers turning pages. The depth of the characters is where the author's talent really stands out, however, and this is a story that will stick with you.

Here's the back copy:

Years ago, Mary Margaret Sullivan changed her name, boxed up her previous life, moved into the Eagle Gate Apartments, and hid her painful memories in her chicken-wire storage unit in the basement. But secrets have an inconvenient way of surfacing when least expected.

Three weeks before Christmas, an elegant man in a penthouse, a young woman named Carly—homeless and ill with pneumonia—and two calculating thieves invade Maggie's carefully reconstructed life, and in different ways, each is connected to Maggie's difficult past. As Maggie and friends nurse Carly back to health, hearts begin to heal with a hope for the future. But all is not as it seems. When faced with the shocking truth, Maggie must rely on her wits, her friends, and her own strength as never before.

Get your copy here

Don't forget to scroll down and enter the giveaway!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Hawaii Five-0---The One Where Doris Loses Everything

This is the episode that Alex O'Loughlin wrote, directed, produced, and starred in and there was a lot of hype surrounding it. I have so many thoughts and this is long, but I hope you'll indulge me!

We start out with a bearded Steve going down the middle of a Day of the Dead parade. He gets to his hotel room (Room #10---for the season perhaps?) where's he's attacked by three men and  . . .

Cue music.

We go to eight weeks earlier where we're in a Hawaiian parking garage. Steve meets with CIA agent Coen with Danny and Lou at his side. Coen tells them about a faction of the Sinaloa cartel run by Lucia Perez. The CIA and DEA have been trying to take her down for three years, and managed to penetrate her operation in Mexico. They got really close to her, but their officer was killed by his partner. For some reason, the director wants Steve to know that the officer who pulled the trigger was Shelburne--his mother. Steve immediately defends his mother and says the intel is bad, that there is no way his mother killed a fellow CIA officer. Coen is pretty stoic, maintains that they had a man on the ground who retrieved the slug from the body at the morgue and it came from Shelburne's government issued firearem. (Let me ask you this. If you are in deep cover to a cartel, why would you take a traceable GOVERNMENT ISSUED firearm that could identify you?) Coen is all very matter-of-fact that they want to bring Doris in safely and hear the story from her. Steve catches on pretty quick that they want him to go in and get his mom, oh and yeah, they want him to kill Lucia, too, since they can't do the job themselves for some reason. (Does the CIA not have snipers? There isn't anyone else who can get in there?) Coen says they're just offering him the chance to save his mom because otherwise, it's not looking good for her. Steve does wonder why Langley didn't contact him directly and guesses that this isn't a disavowed mission. Coen looks a little guilty while Lou guesses that if Shelburne's gone rogue there could be blood on the government's hands which they don't want. But they don't mind having Steve's hands bloodied. Coen says it's not going to end well for Doris if he declines and Steve points out that Doris gave up her life for her country and her family for the agency, but Coen doesn't care, to the people he works for, Doris is just a compromised asset. He tells him to read the brief, since it has all the details for infil and the name of his point man in Colombia. Steve immediately wonders why he would go to Colombia and not Mexico, but it's because Lucia has a lot of Mexican officials in her pocket and gets advanced warning of flagged operators or law enforcement specialists entering the country. Oh, and one other thing, Steve has to go it alone aside from point man in Bogota. He flies alone. He operates alone. Director's orders. And if he doesn't obey or attempts to re-enter the U.S. with Doris without killing or capturing Lucia, he'll have to talk to someone higher than Coen. (Why? Why would the director order that unless it's disavowed and a suicide mission for Steve?) They all watch Coen drive away, then turn to Steve. He's resolute and says he's got to go find Doris. (Steve is all about saving those closest to him.)

Everyone is back at Chatting Table to take a closer look at what Steve is facing. This faction of the cartel brings in an estimated twenty tons of product to the U.S. every month. There's some pictures of Carmen Lucia Perez and a lot of dead bodies, then a few of Doris.  No one outside of the cartel has ever gotten that close to Lucia and lived, so while they don't really know what the plan is, Doris is doing this her way and breaking tradecraft rules which is freaking out the CIA. Steve is sure they will put out a termination order on her this time if it doesn't go the way they want. So, what's the plan? Steve is going to meet his point man (who looks like a heavier-set Bruno Tonioli from Dancing With The Stars.) He's going to get him over the border into Panama with no footprint, then he'll board a cargo plane to Mexico where a CIA safehouse and weapons cache await him. (Yep, it's not going to go well for PointManBruno, I can already tell.) Tani is looking at the battalion of guards and saying it doesn't look like a one man op, more like a suicide mission. Steve says that if he can't hold the line, then Junior can come down and watch his six but ONLY if he reaches out. Danny sums up that he's going to the cartel's backyard to take out the most heavily guarded human being on the planet and walk out with his mother who's there voluntarily. He gives his standard response to almost all of Steve's plans and says it's beyond crazy. Steve looks disappointed and asks if that's Danny's official position and Danny says he doesn't an official position since it's his mother, he's going to do what he's going to do and WALKS AWAY! (Honestly, Steve deserved better than that.) Steve asks Lou for his thoughts and Lou says it's his mother and if he doesn't go down there and see for himself, he'll regret it for the rest of his life. I agree.

Cut to a car in Northern Colombia with PointManBruno. They're bouncing along (it's not as light as the Hawaiian shots and it definitely creates a different aura for the setting and characters.) Steve offers to drive, but PointManBruno wants to run through the plan one more time. Steve will be dropped at a fishing port, a boat will take him to Panama City, then once in Panama, he'll board a small cargo plane to Mexico City and from there he's on his own. Bruno gives him some money for the pilot, before they're stopped at a checkpoint. Bruno gives Steve a gun out of the glove box and it's a tense standoff at the checkpoint. One of the guards takes off his safety and Steve tells Bruno to drive! The guards are shooting at the car and Bruno is shot in the neck and dies, the car careens off an incline and catches on fire. Steve barely makes it out before it explodes and he runs away.

The next scene is at a small airstrip outside of Panama where a plane is waiting. Steve climbs out of a truck while his driver talks to the pilot. The pilot takes the money Steve hands him and lets him board. It's dark inside, with only little dots that look like bullet holes, that suddenly turns into the night sky in Hawaii. It was a really cool effect.

Eight weeks later we're back in Hawaii, and Junior has called everyone in to HQ. He meets them at the Chatting Table and shows them how he's found Steve, despite the fact that he told them not to look for him. Junior just can't sit around wondering if he's dead or alive so he put in late nights sifting through satellite footage, looking for shadows that would show a man is over six feet tall. He shows footage of Steve making the same loop through an open air market twice a week. Danny doesn't think they should do anything since he specifically told them he wanted to do this alone, but Junior reminds him that Steve said he could watch his six. Junior is sure the only reason Steve hasn't called is because he doesn't want to jeopardize anyone's safety, especially his own and Doris's, but they all know what he's up against, so just bless him and the SEALs to go down and help him out. This is the move even though Steve can't say it. (And once again, I agree. I love the initiative Junior took to find Steve, too.)

Steve is on a rooftop surveilling his mom and some cartel members. They have a man in his boxers on the edge of a dock when Lucia arrives. She takes his mother's gun and shoots the man who falls into the water. Steve looks taken aback. Jump to the Port Authority Harbormaster building where Steve is posing as a maintenance man. When Doris walks by he asks her what's in the bag and if Lucia has her running around paying off her people. Doris does NOT look happy to see him at all. Asks him what he's doing there, how long he's been tracking her. He asks her about the murdered guy at the port and she says she didn't murder anyone and he has no understanding of what's happening here. Steve asks about her partner, but she doesn't have time to explain and tells him to get out of the country and she'll contact him ASAP. Steve refuses. He may not know what's going on, but he has his theories, he knows her, and he can't walk away. He won't leave without her. (Just go with him, Doris!) She admits that her mission went sideways but swears that she's staying dark for the right reasons and his life will be compromised in ways she won't be able to help him if he doesn't leave the country immediately. Steve returns with "My life was compromised the day you walked out of it." (Ooh! What a great line. And so true.) He says there's a rear entrance through the restroom and they're going to walk out together, but when he takes her arm, she pistol whips him, then stands over him and says if he blows this for her and they survive, she'll kill him herself. Turning, she greets a man and they walk down the hall together. (They were lucky they had the whole building to themselves for that convo. The Harbormaster sure isn't very busy!)

So now we're back to Steve going through the Day of the Dead parade from the beginning and fighting those three men in his hotel room. This time we see that it's Junior and his SEAL buddies, though. They finally ID themselves and turn on a light. Steve is surprised to see them and asks Junior, what are you doing here? What'd I tell you? But Junior says it's been so long he couldn't remember. (Ha! I love Junior) He fills them in that he had to make the cartel believe both he and Bruno were dead so he's been living in a hole for two months. (Although if he means that hotel room, it's actually pretty nice.) Junior explains that he found Steve the same way Steve would have found him, but came down to ask why he hasn't moved in yet? Steve has been listening to the chatter and taking notes, but Doris is rarely alone. Luckily he had a convo with her today and even though he threw her a lifeline, she cut the rope, so he wants to pull her out. Then Steve says something very interesting. He says, "Something is very wrong here . . . Let's just say I've seen things that tells me that she's unstable and needs to be removed." (So are they going with Doris is losing it? That what that implies to me. I guess we'll see.) Junior says that since she didn't leave with Steve she must believe she has everything under control. Steve says she doesn't and they're going to go in and pull her out and comb through the details afterwards. (That's not going to go well.) Steve shows them a cache of bomb-making materials and says they're going to hit up the gun cache and give Lucia an early morning wake up call. Before they go, Junior calls HQ and Danny asks if he's got "the animal" with him. (I seriously hate that he calls Steve that. Please writers, give Danny something else to call his best friend, okay?) Everyone is relieved to hear Steve's voice and they fill him in that Coen released the full unredacted files on Lucia and they found out Doris went to Switzerland under an alias ten weeks ago and the agency lost track of her after she left Zurich, so Doris might be in deeper than we thought. With that info in hand, they're on the move.

Junior asks Steve if he's ready to discover the truth and Steve gives a thoughtful pause and tells him about this dream he's been having every night. In it, he wakes up and Doris is sitting on the edge of the bed, reading to him like when he was a kid. He's looking up at her and the book is Moby Dick. He can see her lips moving but he can't hear her, so he says her name and she keeps reading and he panics and starts yelling and then realizes she can't hear him either. She shuts the book and smiles and kisses his head and leaves. Every night he wakes up drenched in sweat. Finally he tells Junior he's not ready to lose her and prays to God his decision to go in there is the right one. (There is so much symbolism in the Moby Dick book. Ahab went after the whale that hurt him and became obsessed with it until nearly everything and everyone around him was lost or dead. So, is Doris Ahab? And her job is the whale? Or is Steve Ahab, hurt by his mother and trying to find/save her no matter what? So interesting to think about! And it was brilliant that neither of them could hear the other. Sums up their entire relationship, really.)

 At 430 hours, the SEALs are laying down the mission. They only get one shot at it and from Steve's monitoring knows they're meeting someone today called Rosita, whoever she is. Steve tries to thank them for having his back and says that what they're about to do is insane on every level, with chances of success extremely low (like pretty much every SEAL mission, really) and they're going up against people who, if this goes south and they get their hands on them, they'll wish they put a bullet in their heads. Junior lightens the mood with "I guess we'll get tortured together" and the other SEALs tell him nice speech. (It really was). They're good and ready to go. The sun comes up and a contingent of cartel cars comes in, with a trailer that has a mini-sub on it (to use as a drug shuttle). There's also a 900 foot container vessel named Rosita coming in, too. They've got fifty targets and Doris in their sights. Junior pulls the blocks away from the tires of a van that starts moving toward the entrance where the cartel people are congregated. The guards start shooting and when the van rolls to a stop they go to the back to check it out and the team blows it up, taking out a lot of guards. They move in. There's some awesome explosions, a great firefight, lots of action. Doris and Lucia head to the back of the building. One of the SEALs is shot in the arm, but the cartel men are being picked off.

Steve gets inside and his mom finds him. He asks her where Lucia is, but she's just staring at him. She suddenly pulls her gun and shoots a man behind Steve, then points it at him. He seems surprised, but calm, and tells her, "That's how this ends? you're going to kill me now? Go ahead and pull the trigger, confirm my instincts." That wakes Doris up. She asks him what his instincts are as she laughs, guessing that the world she lives in is no longer black and white and she's changed. Steve tells her he's probably the only person who's ever known her. He knows things about Lucia that she doesn't, he's read the file and seen the victims. Doris is annoyed that he called her Doris (which is telling) and that he'd be so arrogant to assume that she didn't do the research and know as much as he does. How does he think she got this far? Steve asks her if she killed her partner and was looking for a payday. Doris sort of loses it and says she has to get out of this life that she has nothing to show for all her years in the agency. She had a whole life of fear and guilt for nothing. Lost her husband, children, and identity. Steve isn't impressed that she went for the payday, but she's not done. She is walking the edge here saying that everything is so clear and simple for him (he sarcastically says, yeah, my life is a cakewalk)  and he has no idea of her loss, that she had a family who never understood her or the sacrifices she made for them. Steve can't buy that, says even though he loves her, she never made those sacrifices for them. Doris is so upset that he ruined the one chance she had to break away and do something good, that she doesn't care what he does anymore. (And you see what Steve meant when he says she seemed unstable. She really does here!) Steve asks one more time where Lucia is while she mumbles that all she needed was this one payment. Then Steve is shot by Lucia and falls backward.

There's a ringing sound when he comes to and Lucia orders him to lay down his weapon. She has Doris in a headlock and is holding her in front. Steve lays down both of his weapons while Lucia asks who he is and why he killed all her men but won't kill Doris. She admits that when she killed Doris' other CIA friend, she thought their troubles were over. Lucia (who actually doesn't look all that tough. I think Doris could have taken her) is choking her and tells Steve he can watch her die so he quickly admits he's her son. Lucia knew that they'd missed him in Paramillo then, (how did she know he was coming? Hmm...) She admires his patience and thanks him for his honesty, then stabs Doris and says they can watch each other die. She cocks her gun and points it at Steve, but Doris pushes Lucia's hand away so the shot goes wide and Junior shoots Lucia. Steve shouts mom and runs to her side, calling for a field dressing. He tells her not to talk and that he's got her. Doris raises her hand to his face and smiles, saying, "I love you so much. I'm sorry, baby. I"m so sorry." (That seemed like the real Doris to me.) With one last stroke of his face, he tells her he loves her and she's gone. Junior puts his hand on Steve's shoulder as this haunting music plays. The focus goes small, like when something traumatic in your life happens, your focus just gets smaller, all you can concentrate on to get through it is right in front of you. Junior wants him to get up while Steve is looking at the rafters and blinking. His hands are still on Doris's and he's reluctant to let go, but finally does. (Joe's wound was also in the side and he was reluctant to let go of Joe as well. A nice parallel?) Junior helps him into the car while the other two SEALs get Doris's body. He watches, unfocused.

Next, a very broken Steve is sitting outside a hangar at the Joint Base Anacosta Bolling in Washington D.C. He's still bloody and watching over the bodies, with only a blanket around his shoulders. A contingent of cars drive up and a bunch of suits get out. One touches the coffin and Steve grabs him by the throat. Another steps in to break it up and Steve sits back down while they take pictures and fingerprints of Doris and Lucia. Steve watches, signs the paper in front of him and they zip up the body bags again. Before the guy leaves he tells Steve that Shelburne outfitted that sub and Lucia's Bentley with audio and tracking devices. She stayed on target until the end. She did her job. Steve watches the coffin taken away and just stares when the guy says, "I'm sorry about your mother Commander. After the cars drive away, he  bows his head. (So, Doris might have wanted a payday and was walking the edge of reality, but she was still doing her job. Will that be harder for Steve to process?)

Back at a D.C. hotel room Steve is staring at the Capitol building through a window. He hears a knock at the door, and it's Danny who wants to make sure Steve makes it back to Hawaii. Danny looks at an official paper on the table that thanks Steve for his past and present service to our country and for unyielding commitment to national security. Steve gets him a beer and they sit. Danny tells him that the DEA got a big score and because of him two tons of cocaine won't be hitting the streets. Danny says he's sorry about his mom and Steve thanks him. Danny also offers that the bureau retrieved Doris's laptop and cell phone and she opened three accounts in Zurich---one of them was under Joanie McGarrett and had half a million dollars in it. The other two were for him and Mary, but didn't have any money in it yet, so this whole thing was about making sure they were set up financially, so she was trying to do something good. (Since she couldn't be there emotionally or physically, she wanted to make up for it with money?) Danny asks if Steve is okay and Steve philosophizes with, "Define okay for me." He wishes Doris would have realized that all she had to do was get on an airplane and come home and from the minute she walked out of his life the only thing he ever wanted was to have her back in it.  So he doesn't know if he's okay, but he does know that life isn't on our terms. We never get to choose how it's going to look, only what we do with the information when we get it. The whole Five-0 thing happened when he buried his father, Joe White last year, now his mother, so he doesn't know how he feels, but he does know we don't get life on our terms. It's life on life's terms or not at all. He walks away and Danny asks if the bed is big enough for two since he just did ten hours on a coach flight next to a mouth breather. Steve says no, he gets the couch.

So, Doris lost her edge of reality and then her life. She blamed her job, and one thing that came to mind when I heard those lines was when Steve was talking to the CGI Jack Lord (Season 7 I think?) and said his job had taken everything good from him and he wondered if the job was even worth it. Apparently, Doris had the same thoughts. But my question is why was Doris still in the field? At her age, she should have been training agents at The Farm or some semblance of a retirement. Another thing that this episode reminded me of was when Steve had his final stand with Joe, Joe went down after he shot the guy who was shooting at Steve, just like Doris hit Lucia's arm so she couldn't shoot Steve.  Both of them were trying to save him. Steve was broken after Joe, broken after Doris. He couldn't save either of them and that has to eat at him since he's always trying to save/take care of those around him. Now all of his parental figures are gone and hopefully the show doesn't gloss over this big of a loss.

I enjoyed this episode, the different lighting, the focus choices, they were all symbolic and added to the feel of the scene.  I loved the action, the emotion, the symbolism, and the McJunior scenes. At the end of the day, though, Steve has lost his dad, his mom, his aunt that raised him, and Joe. I really hope the show will give him a bit of happiness after all this.

What did you think? Did you watch?

Monday, November 11, 2019

A Veterans Day Freebie For You!

I am so grateful to our military men and women who serve and sacrifice, my grandfather among them. Since most of my books involve the military, I've had the privilege of getting to know some service members while I research. One of my most treasured experiences was when I was put into contact with a Marine who was stationed in Iraq at the time. His unit would gather around the computer after they’d come in from their mission of disarming roadside IEDs and they would patiently answer all my questions. One of the things they told me during those sessions was that they missed having candy from home, like Skittles. So I arranged a Skittles for Soldiers food drive at all my booksignings and was able to collect 900 lbs of food and hygiene items for our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan---just to make sure our soldiers knew they weren’t forgotten and were appreciated. I will never forget how it felt to lift the spirits of those soldiers even if it was just with candy and supplies. I really hope this Veteran's Day, all our veterans know how much their service is appreciated. To honor them, I am giving away Ring Around the Rosie for free (you can download your free copy here) and offering Second Look at only .99 cents (you can get your sale copy here).

May we never forget.

Friday, November 8, 2019

My Audio Book News!

I am SO excited to announce that my Christmas story, Truth or Dare, is coming out in audio book! I loved this story and my narrator, Tristan Wright, does an amazing job bringing it to life. If you are an audio book fan, you won't want to miss this one!

It should be available on Nov. 21st and as soon as I see it on Audible and iTunes, I will let you know!

Have you listened to any good audio books lately?

Thursday, November 7, 2019

Win a Family Pack of Tickets to The Forgotten Carols!

Have you ever been to The Forgotten Carols? Our family loves this Christmas tradition! It's a sweet story about an overworked nurse who finds the true meaning of Christmas with a very unique situation. The music and message is unforgettable!

Get ticket information here

And you can win a Family Four Pack of Tickets! Just enter the giveaway below.

Our Guest Author for November!

I am so excited to announce our guest author for November! 

Gale Sears is an award-winning author whose story, Christmas for a Dollar, was made into a movie! Her new book, The Fifth Favorite, is a beautiful story that will tug at your heartstrings. She will be on my Facebook page for a Facebook Live on Wednesday, Nov. 13th at 6:15 p.m! So save the date for prizes and fun! 

You can learn more about Gale here:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

In the Fiction Corner: The Last Man at the Inn

In the Fiction Corner with Lauren

I have often wondered how people in Biblical times who lived near the Savior and heard about him could be unbelievers. It seems so obvious to me that he is the Savior, and it’s easy to project that to others of the time period. However, R. William Bennett paints a beautiful picture of one man’s journey to becoming a believer.

Simon is a merchant who travels and sells goods to make his living. Throughout the book, as he goes from place to place, he hears stories of a man named Jesus. The teachings begin to hit a little closer to home for Simon, and he begins to wonder if this proclaimed Savior is the real deal. With stunning imagery, the author really brings to life what it would be like to be there for every step of the Saviors mission on earth.

I can whole-heartedly recommend this book if you are preparing for the Christmas season or would like to come closer to the Savior in your life. With some unexpected turns in Simon's story, I had tears in my eyes as I pictured the pain, heartache, joy and testimony building experiences that Simon experienced through his life. I feel as though the author truly knows the Savior, and with his writing he is helping others to do the same.

Get your copy here

Here's the back copy:

Bestselling author R. William Bennett imagines how a contemporary of Jesus, Simon, an ordinary spice merchant and a Jew without deeply felt religious beliefs, begins his lifelong journey as one of the first new Christians as his life intersects with Jesus at the major milestones of his life and ministry.

From the very beginning, Simon is on the scene on the eve of Jesus’ birth. He is the last man to get an available room at the inn in Bethlehem, forcing Joseph and Mary to be turned away upon their arrival. Later that night, unable to sleep, Simon stumbles upon a group huddled around a cave, solemnly watching the miracle of a newborn babe in a stone manger and immediately recognizes the couple from the inn. Gazing upon the scene, he feels something of spiritual significance: peaceful, holy, sacred. The next day, he hears rumors in the marketplace of a holy birth which is the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy: the promised Messiah of the Jewish people. Simon wonders if that was what he witnessed.

As readers, we walk with Simon as he witnesses Jesus’ revolutionary teachings like the Sermon on the Mount. Simon also hears testimonies of Jesus’ miracles, and watches his own eldest son embrace the new covenant after witnessing John baptize Jesus, an act which signals the beginning of Jesus' ministry, which paves the way for a new people of God.

Simon feels blessed to have his family, but he doesn’t understand why others are searching for deeper faith and connection to God. Still questioning and unsure, he spends his life determined to find out if Jesus truly is the son of God, the promised Messiah. Eventually, Simon travels to Jerusalem as the popularity of Jesus’ ministry catches the attention of those in power.

By the time he arrives in Jerusalem, he discovers that Jesus has been tried and convicted of treason in a Roman court and is sentenced to death by crucifixion. After a life of following Jesus from a distance, Simon is now walking the streets of Jerusalem with him. At a critical moment, Simon steps out from the crowd to help Jesus ease the burden of carrying the cross, symbolically pledging himself to ease the burden of humankind by spreading the word of Jesus as a new true Christian believer.

In the aftermath of Jesus’ death, Simon’s family thinks that the new ministry is now over. But it’s a true test of faith—believing in the certainty of what is unseen—and in a week’s time, Jesus’s followers encounter him risen from the dead. In this moment of Jesus' resurrection, Simon is ready. His faith, built steadily on the bedrock of Jesus’ teachings—love of God and love of one’s neighbor—moves him to dedicate himself to a new mission, declaring, “We have work to do.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

The Marquess Meets His Match Is A Whitney Award Nominee!

As you all know, this year I stepped out of my comfort zone and wrote a historical romantic suspense.
I had so much fun writing The Marquess Meets His Match, even though it took a lot longer than I expected. This little book turned into such a labor of love! 

It's been nominated for a Whitney Award and the finalists will be announced in the spring, but I just wanted to thank all my readers who nominated me! I seriously have the best readers around.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Hawaii Five-0--The One With KillerCars & Millennial Mayhem

Well, this one felt more like a filler episode to me, but here we go.

We start out with the police chasing a speeding car that committed a vehicular homicide. When they finally get it stopped, there is no driver inside. It's a remote controlled car.

Cue music.

Back at HQ, two social media influencers are being led in while filming their surroundings. Steve greets them and while they fall all over themselves telling him he's a legend (they're not wrong) he tells them there's no filming and they'll be shadowing Tani and Quinn today. Apparently the governor asked these two Pauly Shore wannabes (named Scooter and Skeeze) to make a recruitment video for HPD. (With how inept HPD is generally shown, that doesn't surprise me.)

Adam fills Danny in on the remote car killer car and he stares at the car, wondering if it's the robot apocalypse. (Now that might have been a welcome addition to the story!) Bottom line: the tech for autonomous vehicles isn't street legal, the plates are fake, the VIN filed off and no prints, but there was a bag with $400 inside. So the car went through a high traffic drug area and came out with $400 inside, so it's probably tech-savvy drug dealers who don't want to risk guys ratting out on them. But who is behind the controls?

Back to Pauly Shore wannabes waiting to nosh at the shrimp truck with Quinn and Tani. They drone on that they're not just dumb kids, they take their "work" seriously and it takes effort to look effortless. Kamekona gives them the VIP treatment (he claims he's a big fan, but doesn't know Skeeze's name, ha!) and he's hoping they'll take a selfie with him for his insta. They say they'll give him a tagged post! (Rad! Tubular!) Tani is notified that HPD caught a homicide and Steve wants them to assist so they leave.

All CSU found in the RemoteControlKillerCar is cameras, including a dashcam that records the interior. Unfortunately, they can't narrow down the control radius because the car operates on an ultra high frequency radio link that can be operated from 150 miles away, so the dealer could be anywhere on the island. Luckily, there were fingerprints on the bag with $400 that was in the car and it was (surprise!) an addict who is on probation! Junior and Adam chase him down, but he's slippery! He even gets hit by a car, but keeps going, until he runs through an old lady's house and she hits him on the back of the head with a fry pan. They put him in the Blue Room of Doom with an IV to help sober him up. He claims he didn't buy any drugs, but they show him his text messages where he sent his address and order to the KillerCar. The number was a burner, so who's behind the KillerCar? He doesn't know. He just texted what he wanted and where he was at, the car showed up, he showed his money to the camera and put it in the box then took the drugs from a separate box. it. So now he's going to order some drugs or Five-0's next call is to his parole officer. (He was a very convincing addict.)

Tani and Quinn introduce Scooter and Skeeze to Duke, but he knows them already since they shadowed HPD earlier this week. The crime scene is a murdered 81 year-old woman named Marion who died from blunt force trauma to the head. There weren't any signs of forced entry, no cameras inside the complex, only on the perimeter of the building. Oddly, Noelani is a fangirl of S&S and she loved their fibromyalgia video. (What kind of influencers are these "millennials" anyway?) Noelani also mentions that Marion was comfortable enough with her killer to turn her back on them and they struck her from behind and killed her around 12:30 a.m. S&S ask if they can take a selfie with the vic, but are told no. (Seriously? Oy What an embarrassment to call these guys millennials) Then Skeeze decides he needs to take his "meds" and proceeds to set up to vape some pacololo. Quinn puts the kibosh on that and they go down to talk to the manager who has the security footage. He tells them everyone hated Marion and she was an awful person. (The funny part was S&S are taking notes and one thinks that the manager could be guilty.) (Is that a nod to the fact that the guilty person almost always *is* the first person they talk to? Haha. I'm calling it. It's the manager.) S&S leave to play ping pong and the manager says no one came in or out between 11:30 or six a.m. Which means the killer lives in the building.

Tani and Quinn put the apartment complex on lockdown and have thirty-one suspects to interview. They narrow it down by finding the one gossipy neighbor who is watching them through her blinds. GossipGirl tells them that Marion was a gin rummy cheat, the devil incarnate, and lots of people wanted her dead.

Danny and Steve are watching their ParoleeFriend waiting for the KillerCar. Lou is going to track the bag of drug money. The boys are talking about how it used to be that if you wanted something you had to get dressed and leave the house, talk to a human. Danny says he uses apps so he doesn't have to deal with people, but Steve feels that human to human interaction is the point of life. Why be alive if you're not going to do that? Danny seems surprised and asks since when does Steve like people and if he's social now. Before Steve can answer another KillerCar pulls up and makes the exchange with their ParoleeFriend. Danny and Steve follow.

Quinn and Tani are going to split up to interview the twelve suspects they have. Quinn takes Skeeze who immediately tells her that he has a lady so they have to keep the relashe strictly profesh. (Honestly who talks like that?) There's a bunch of people that Marion was horrible to, like putting used kitty litter in the back of a guy's 1966 convertible, keeping her TV up loud so a massage therapist's clients can't relax and calling CPS on a woman. Oh and screaming at a bartender who comes home late and wakes her up. In fact, last night was first time she didn't call when he came in at 12:45 a.m. Uh oh. Tani takes him outside with Scooter because they know he's lying. No one entered the building after 11:30, so he's busted. BartenderBoy does have a secret. He actually does Dungeons and Dragons every Tuesday at another neighbor's apartment and doesn't want his partner, Emily, to know. He did hear a weird clanking noise when he was going home about quarter to one, though. (S&S aren't even taking notes anymore, they're playing with D&D  swords in the background.) After they leave, Scooter tells Quinn and Tani that they thought turning bros and broads onto a career in law enforcement would be a hard sell since they break up house parties and arrest them for indecent exposure, but this job is actually kind of rad. Especially because Five-0 get to wear their own threads. (Threads? Does anyone outside of the 60s and 70s say that?) Since S&S took a pic of themselves in the D&D apartment with gear on and posted it and hashtagged it "murder weapon," they have to go play gin rummy with GossipGirl which they feel is a harsh punishment.

McG and Danny are following the car, but Danny wants McG to ease back so Kitt doesn't make them. Steve loved Knight Rider (Me, too!) but the KillerCar suddenly blows through a stop sign so the chase is on. Lou is tracking it, though, so Danny wants to know what they're doing and Steve throws out a scenario of losing the car, it stops for another sale and the customer takes the bag then they have nothing. Danny calls him a catastrophist (and Steve shoots back with Danny's making the most of the word of the day calender, ha!) Steve prepares for the worst and there's a world of difference. The chase ends with KillerCar going off road and exploding. The good news is if they keep going, they'll run out of cars, right? HPD can't get any evidence off the exploded car, but they got a look under the hood of the first KillerCar and it's run off some proprietary software owned by Tropovision Technology. They make drones and have now adapted that tech to cars. Since it's highly unlikely the company is involved in drugs, someone must have stolen the software. The team thinks it's a woman named Julia who runs R&D and used her own password and login to make an unauthorized download of the code.

S&S call Tani and Quinn to the roof. They were shredding with GossipGirl, sipping prune juice and wondering how the perp slipped into the vic's apartment on the DL. So they came up to the roof to investigate and there are scrapes on the edge of the roof with flecks of orange paint made by a fully-extendable ladder that is long enough to make a bridge between buildings, which also explains the clanking noise BartenderD&DGuy heard. S&S are taking credit for cracking open the case with their "insties" but Quinn knows they came up to vape, the door locked behind them and while they were trying to figure out how to get down they saw the ladder and put it all together. Scooter is impressed with how she solved the mystery of them solving the mystery. She takes pity on them and says their find still counts so S&S cry and Scooter goes in for a hug. No drug like a hug. (I did like that line, haha)

Julia is in the Blue Room of Doom denying she stole the code. Adam is trying to set up the scenario that she's a tech genius that came up with this amazing program and the company is taking all her profits when she has student loans to be paid. She points out that if she was so smart why would she use her own login? Lou comes in and says she's telling the truth. They decrypted the IP address that downloaded the stolen code and have footage of it in use. It's her dad. He's a former addict that abandoned her, but then he got clean a few months back and wanted to make up for all the lost years so she let him in again. She'll help them find him.

Junior and Adam go to her dad's apartment, but there's a busted in door jamb, the door is open and furniture is strewn about with a fresh bloodstain on the floor. Dad didn't go willingly, so I guess they aren't the only ones looking for Julia's father. They put a BOLO out, and find out that the neighbors heard shouting less than an hour ago. Since dad has a schedule for a drug recovery group on the fridge and lots of pics of his daughter, he seems more like a proud sober dad, not a user taking advantage of his kid. Maybe Julia had it wrong and the drug dealers strong-armed him into it. GeniusJulia hacks directly into the CPU of one of the KillerCars. Apparently, the dealers have a warehouse full of the cars that are equipped with GPS so Steve is on his way. Adam and Junior head over, too, while Dad is being dragged out of the van and beaten while his daughter watches on screen. Lou calls Steve and tells him to hurry. DrugDealer holds a gun to Dad's head, but GeniusJulia remotely starts up one of the cars and runs over a few of the gunmen. The drug dealers shoot at it until the car is dead, but Steve bursts in with Junior and Adam and finishes off the rest of the gunmen to free Dad.

Guess who they have in the Blue Room of Doom? The manager! He *was* guilty! Quani talk to him about how Wifi works and that they have his specific digital signature logging onto the building next door at 12:03, they fifteen minutes later to Marion's building. At 12:48 the same sequence happens in reverse. Just enough time for him to shuttle back and forth on his ladder bridge with a quick pit stop to kill Marion. ManagerMan wants a lawyer and Quani add that the Wifi stuff is circumstantial, but they also have Marion's emails accusing him of embezzling money for billing the building owner for repair work he never performed. ManagerMan says Marion was crazy, but they went through his financials and he had several large deposits that coincided with work he billed his boss for, but never completed. Busted.

Tani and Quinn head into HQ while S&S call them T-Bone and Q-Money, legends of law enforcement who are like artists that totes nailed that douchenozzle. Quinn tries to join in with a totes harshed his mellow til he was mellowless, but yeah. Tani tells her to stop talking. (Can all four of them stop talking?) S&S feel that solving the case wouldn't have been possible without them, but Quinn is all, your only contributions were disobeying orders! And getting high! (She would know all about disobeying orders, too!) But then she feels bad and says they couldn't have done it without them. Hugs! Maybe S&S will give law enforcement a try if the social media influencer thing doesn't work out, but Tani and Quinn discourage that. They bring a tiny amount of joy to people every day so that shouldn't be denied to the world. S&S agree that we all serve in our own way, and plus there's drug testing. They get a selfie and all say, "Solved!"   

GeniusJulia hugs her dad in the ambulance. Seems Dad reconnected with Julia six months ago and bragged to his old buddies about her success. The unscrupulous drug dealers saw an opportunity and told him to steal the car tech or they'd force his daughter to hand it over. He decided to keep her out of it, so here we are.

A week later, Kamekona is talking to Tani as she walks into HQ. Seems S&S tagged the wrong shrimp truck and he wants her to fix it. Quani walk into the office and the guys are all watching the recruitment video on Junior's phone and laughing. They put it up on the Chatting Table computer screen and it's S&S in officer uniforms talking about helping people every day. The pay and benefits are rad, too! They hand over a scumbag (before he can expose himself to any more nuns) to Tani and Quinn lookalikes who gush that they couldn't have solved this case without S&S. Tani and Quinn protest that they did not flirt like that! But, hey, what if we get an influx of millennials that want to join the force and an army of S&S's patrolling the streets and keeping the island safe? Lou says God help us all and everyone smiles.

So, not one I'd watch again, but a few funny moments. So excited for next week. The promo looked good!

What did you think? Did you watch?