Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Book Review: Rushed by Gina Robinson


Title: Rushed 
Author: Gina Robinson
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / B & N
Rating: 
Synopsis: A girl who has everything. A guy who has everything to lose. Some things can't be… 

Alexis 
Like there has ever been any doubt which sorority my family expects me to pledge. I'm a third-generation legacy. On the first day of rush, I realize I'm in trouble. I'm not like the other girls in the house. But as long as my parents control my college funds, resisting is futile. Until Zach, the live-in houseboy, who's quite possibly the hottest guy I will ever meet, serves me a cupcake and flashes me a sympathetic look. With one enigmatic smile, he flips my heart and my world upside down. My parents will cut me off if they even suspect I'm interested in a house guy. But I can't stay away from him. And so I pledge the house for all the wrong reasons. 

Zach 
Living in a sorority? I get flipped a load of crap about being a live-in servant, the help. Easy access to the hottest girls on campus? Not with the unbreakable rule—get caught with one of the girls and you're fired. Immediately. Lose this job and I can't afford college. I sure as hell can't ask my parents for help. They wish I'd never been born. Considering what I did, I don't blame them. I've learned to think of the girls like sisters. Until Alexis pledges the house. Now sister is the last thing on my mind. 

*** Standalone novel. No cliffhanger. *** 

This is a contemporary romance with mature themes, language, and situations. Readers should be over 17! If you enjoyed Gina Robinson's Reckless Series, you'll love Rushed. Rushed takes place at the same university during the same academic year. Just on the other side of campus, the Greek side. You'll recognize some of the campus events and a favorite Reckless character makes a cameo appearance.



MY REVIEW: Her parents always expected more for her. His parents never expected him to do much with himself. But together the two of them may just break the expectations set upon them and find real love. 

Alexis is a generational sorority girl. She's been groomed to join Delta Delta Psi, her mother's old sorority, and even though she doesn't feel like it is the house for her, Alexis knows it's what is expected of her. What isn't expected is for her to fall head over heels with the house boy. Especially when said house boy is off limits according to house rules. 

Zach has spent years atoning for something that he couldn't be blamed for, and yet he still blames himself. He has become a brother to all the girls in the house and has found some peace in that. The girls have become his family over ther years since his own family doesn't want much to do with him. When Alexis sweeps into his life during Rush week he knows better than to get involved and yet there's something about her that keeps drawing him in.

Rush is a story of hope & redemption, love & friendship. 

I loved Zach. There was just something about him that made him this wonderfully awesome lead male. Handsome, sweet, responsible and a hard worker, Zach is the perfect man. 

As for Alexis, I did like her too. I thought she was a sweet girl, but seemed a little lost and afraid to break out of her mother's shadow or to do something against her parents due to her mother's struggle to have Alexis.

I felt that Zach and Alexis were a perfect match for one another though. Zach keeps Alexis from always doing what is expected and makes her feel freer to make her own decisions while in return Alexis helps soothe Zach's soul and heal his heart. 

Rushed was a fun read full of college mishaps and adventures. The book is light-hearted and an easy read. I read Rushed in just a few hours, myself. I will definitely be checking out Gina Robinson's Reckless series in the near future!

*I receive Rushed by Gina Robinson in exchange for an honest review.

Kratos by T.L Smith Release Day!!!

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Release Day Blitz
Kratos: Take Over Series #3
By: T.L. Smith
Release Date: July 30, 2014
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kratos cover




synopsis

You think you know me…. You think you know whom I am…so lets get a few things straight…. I didn’t get involved in relationships. Relationships are for the weak, plus it’s leverage for your enemy’s and I have plenty.

But that’s all changed. When a strong willed woman, with the mouth of a sailor walked into my life, wearing tiny shorts, which displayed her beautiful long legs and round ass. I thought I could play with her and maybe get my fix. But when she spoke I knew that wasn’t going to happen. She is full of life and one scary ass little woman. I knew right away I had to have her and would do anything to keep her.

She owns my soul; she owns my demons, every part of me is owned by her.



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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

PBA Announcement!




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Blog Tour: Boy in a Band by Lisa Loomis



Morgan Mallory meets beautiful, sexy, blond haired, blue eyed, Mathew O'Conner, a singer in a rock band, when she's just a teen. Her instant physical attraction to him completely unnerves her. Their convoluted relationship transcends years, and even when she knows it would be best to stay away from him she can't seem to stop herself. What is it about the bad boy she seems to love?

An edgy coming of age novel that is erotic, entertaining, and deeply moving. The characters will seize you and stay with you long after the read is finished. Not your predictable Cinderella story.

Teaser Tuesday/Top Ten Tuesday

Teaser Tuesday

Take Me teaser
Title: Take Me (a romance boxed set) 
Authors: Victoria H. Smith, Ursula Sinclair, Raven St. Pierre, Olivia Linden, Kenya Wright Genre: Romance/New Adult 
Release Date: July 29, 2014
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Release Day Blitz: Letting Go of You by J.M. Witt




Synopsis 

James,

Letting Go of You will be the hardest decision of my life.

We were devoted and committed to one another. Secret clubs, family, friends, careers and undeniable chemistry filled our lives. Previous troubles seemed nonexistent. We were ready and willing for whatever life had to offer. Life was perfect. If only ‘perfect’ really existed.

What I didn’t expect was that one tragic event would trigger the demons you kept hidden from me. I had to decide if I could live with not knowing your secrets. And just when I thought we would make it through, another hurdle was placed in front of us. Tragedy, murder, first loves, old enemies, and death lingered at every turn.

Will your demons be the death of us? Or will my anchored heart be strong enough to hold on?

Only You
~Cassidy


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Anchored Hearts Series 

Currently Only $.99!!!


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Letting Go Book #1






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Hiding Away Book #1.5 







About the Author

I’m a stay-at-home mom with four young children and one extremely supportive husband. We’ve been married for nine years and reside in Metro Detroit, Michigan.

I've dreamed of writing romance novels since I was little. After having baby #4, who may or may not have been fathered by Christian Grey, I decided it was time to pursue my dreams.

When I'm not volunteering at the schools of my children, running to various appointments, enjoying time with my friends and my book club, dating my husband, or avoiding cleaning my house, I'm writing!

I love music and believe that books and music can't exist without the other. My goal is for you to read more than a good book, but for you to have an experience!

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

#COYER Read-A-Thon: Christmas in July




The #COYER Christmas in July Read-A-Thon began Friday for all those that wanted to participate. You do not need to be a member to join in with these fun read-a-Thons. The Christmas in July read-a-Thon was the one that I was most anxiously anticipating. I love Christmas books! 

I began reading Bah, Humbug! by Heather Horrocks on Friday and moved on to two short books: Christmas Kismet by Jemma Grey and Christmas in Venice by Meadow Taylor. With a day left in the read-a-Thon I started (& finished) The Christmas Dog by Melody Carlson.

I would say this was a successful read-a-Thon for me! I enjoyed every minute and confess I listened to Christmas music on Pandora as I read. I've officially started my countdown to Christmas and what a way to kick it off!

Reviews coming soon!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Blog Tour: A Kiss So Deadly by Mary Reason Theriot




A KISS SO DEADLY
Author: Mary Reason Theriot
Genre: Paranormal Romance

~ BLURB ~
Bridgette Marquette inherited her family plantation, including the ghosts living there. The ghosts must warn Bridgette that something dark and foreboding lurks in the shadows at the plantation before it is too late.

~ SYNOPSIS ~
Before building the Marquette Plantation, Pierre and Geneviève Marquette lived in a small home with the other Acadians in Nova Scotia. They were forced from their home as was others that traveled with them. It took Pierre years to build Geneviève the perfect home when they finally made it to Louisiana. Life had been hard but they had each other and their children. Unfortunately, Geneviève only got to live in it for a short while before her unfortunate passing. Yellow fever hit the area with a vengeance taking many lives, including hers.

Ever since her passing Geneviève has wandered the plantation and watched her family grow. Genevieve is so proud of her decedents. Despite the ravages of war, storms and hard times, this plantation did maintain many of their traditions as well as their French language. She beams with pride as Bridgette strives to educate people of their unique cultural identity forged by some four centuries of turbulent history.

Marquette Plantation is the image of everything graceful and lovely in the Deep South. In the serene moonlight, a low ground fog swirls as a light breeze rolls off of the bayou. Spanish moss drips from the ancient oak trees reminding her of the lace curtains she just purchased.

The silver mist curls its way around the courtyard. She can hear the moans of the poor lost souls that are trapped in the mist. The moon has a ring around it promising rain soon. The misty halo creates an eerie glow across the earth, bathing the area in a pale light.

Lately, she is afraid to wander the grounds. The beauty of the night seems to have been taken from her. All that seems to remain in this place she loves for so long is death and evil. If only she could see where the evil lurks, she could warn someone. But no, all she can do is sense its presence. She can hear its raspy breath and smell the fetid odor that comes from its flesh and blood.

She must warn Bridgette of the evil that lurks these grounds before it is too late.




~ PURCHASE LINKS ~

~My Review~
After the passing of her parents, Bridgette Marquette heads home to their family plantation to keep it in the family and turn the old plantation into a bed & breakfast. What she finds there is so much more complicated. Growing up watching the ghosts wander the grounds, and throughout the house she is used to them but when they begin to multiple and their our ghosts she's never seen before wandering the grounds she begins to wander if their is evil afoot.

Mary Reason Theriot's writing draws you into the story and has you second guessing who the suspect is from beginning the end. A Kiss So Deadly is full of suspense, mystery, and who can forget the ghosts. There's also a bit of romance and passion thrown into the mix which causes even more mystery. 

A Kiss So Deadly has a good bit of history of Louisiana which I loved and the back story of the Marquette family and their roots was a great addition to the book. 

Full of suspense and intrigue, A Kiss So Deadly will have you on the edge of your seat from the first page to the last.

★ 4 STARS!


~ TEASERS ~




~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~
Mary Reason Theriot

Mary Reason Theriot Louisiana-native, Mary Reason Theriot, is a multi-genre author with twenty-five published books. She has lived in various states with her husband’s United States Coast Guard career. Until being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001, she worked in the legal field. Encouraged to write by her youngest child, she calls writing “great therapy for my own personal fight against MS.”

Social media links:


Tour Host: 
HEA Book Tours, PR & More: http://heabooktours.blogspot.com/








Thursday, July 24, 2014

Blog Tour: Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne


wildiris

Welcome to my tour stop for Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne. This is an adult contemporary romance published by Harlequin.
The tour runs July 21-31 with reviews, author interviews and guest posts.
Make sure to check out the Tour Page & Schedule.

Wild Iris Ridge_author photo
Wild Iris Ridge by RaeAnne Thayne
Release: July 2014
Imprint: Harlequin HQN
ISBN: 978-0-373-77859-1
Pages: 352
Description:
A big-city, high-powered advertising executive and a small-town firefighter learn that no matter where you started or what you’ve lost, if you open your heart, you can find joy and love again. 

WILD IRIS RIDGE is the latest book in USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s charming Hope’s Crossing series.

Lucy Drake and Brendan Caine have only one thing in common.And it's likely to tear them apart. Because it was Brendan's late wife, Jessie—and Lucy's best friend—who'd brought them together in the first place. And since Jesse's passing, Brendan's been distracted by his two little ones…and the memory of an explosive kiss with Lucy years before his marriage. Still, he'll steer clear of her. She's always been trouble with a capital T.

Lucy couldn't wait to shed her small-town roots for the big city. But now that she's back in Hope's Crossing to take care of the Queen Anne home her late aunt has left her, she figures seeing Brendan Caine again is no big deal. After all, she'd managed to resist the handsome fire chief once before, but clearly the embers of their attraction are still smoldering…

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | The Book Depository
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MY REVIEW:

Lucy Drake dropped into town 15 years earlier after the death of her mother. Even though she only lived there for two years, Hope's Crossing and Wild Iris has always stayed with her. After the death of her best friend and cousin Jessie two years prior and the recent death of her Great Aunt Annabelle, Lucy decides to head home and make Annabelle's and Jesse's dream come true: turn Wild Iris into a bed & breakfast.

Brendan Caine can't stand Lucy Drake. Her treatment over the years has been rough and even though he felt like he may have deserved it in the beginning, Lucy has had many years to get over it. To her he will always be the dumb jock with more brawn than brains who happened married her cousin. Finally in a good place after Jessie's death, Brendan is working in as the fire chief and raising his two kids on his own. He never dreamed that a chimney fire would lead Lucy Drake stumbling back into his life and turning it upside down.

Can Lucy and Brendan ever work out their differences and be friends?

Wild Iris Ridge is the first book that I have read in the Hope's Crossing series, but will not be the last! I read Wild Iris Ridge in just a day because I could not put the book down. The characters and small town draw you in and immerse you in their world. I loved Lucy's personality - head strong, smart, and yet vulnerable in her own way and Brendan was such an amazing dad. 

The plot was fantastic with the secrets between them and yet in the here and now they can't stand one another, or so they say. The secondary characters were all fabulously written also. Each character draws you in and makes you want to know their story. 

Hope's Crossing is a small town with a whole lot of love and neighborly care. I loved what RaeAnne Thayne has put down on paper. Hope's Crossing and the people in it leave you wanting more of it all. I honestly cannot wait to go back and read this series from the very beginning. 

This book is beyond 5 stars!
_________________________________________________________________Best-selling author RaeAnne Thayne

AUTHOR BIO:
USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words. This led her to a fifteen-year career in journalismas a newspaper reporter and editor. But through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best, romance, and has since published more than 40 titles. RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains, where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website,RaeAnneThayne.com.

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Giveaway:

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Tour Organized by:
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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Release + Giveaway: Ready to Wed by Cindi Madsen


Whether you’re looking for a romance that makes you laugh, makes you ‘walk the plank’, keeps you guessing, or stars your favorite paranormal, look no further. Select books have the single-title stories you crave, and the longer length you need to really get ‘lost’ in a great book. To find out more about their titles, chat with authors, participate in special events, and to find out what books are coming next, visit the Entangled website, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page.


Today I'm happy to be featuring Ready to Wed:


Ready to Wed by Cindi Madsen


Dakota Halifax loves to be in love. In fact, as one of Las Vegas’s premier wedding planners, she’s built a whole career around romance. Which is why her own wedding has to be nothing short of perfect. And then her fiancé jilts her. While she’s waiting in her wedding dress. On a cruise ship already out at sea.

Once back on dry land, Dakota tries to pour her heart into her business and weekly wedding advice column, Get Ready to Wed. But how can the heartbroken celebrate others’ true love? When she reconnects with her childhood best friend, surprisingly sexy and all-grown-up casino bouncer Brendan West, Dakota wonders if maybe she can fall back in love with being in love.

But then her ex reappears, begging for another chance and suddenly Dakota questions if she’ll ever understand love. Can someone once-burned and twice-shy ever find her way down the aisle again?




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Cover Reveal: When You Were Mine by Elizabeth Reyes


We here at Bottles & Books Reviews are so excited to share the sexy cover for When You Were Mine by Elizabeth Reyes. We also have a great little excerpt to share as well!


Title: When You Were Mine ( A Moreno Brother's novella)
Author: Elizabeth Reyes
Age Group: NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: Fall 2014


Synopsis

When her head was screaming “enough,” her hopeful heart continued to whisper “wait.” 
It's the only way Valerie Zuniga can justify her ongoing addiction to the amazing but ever, elusive Alex Moreno. Mesmerized by the profound connection neither has ever quite understood, Valerie  accepts their crazy relationship for what it is—non-exclusive. 
That is until the incredible highs no longer numb the sting of the intense lows.   
As tasteless and slippery as pride can be, for Alex it's always been the hardest pill to swallow.  
Faced with a final ultimatum, the choice is a no-brainer for Alex. Despite his insanely busy life he's determined to prove to Valerie, that not only is he ready to commit, it's what he's always wanted—to claim Valerie as his exclusively.  
But just as it kept him from admitting his real feelings all those years, will his obstinate pride once again step in and ruin things just when they're finally getting it right?  

Excerpt


"Why are you here?" she demanded.


"I wanna talk to you?" he asked hopefully.

"No," her response was too quick—abrupt. "I'm busy now. Try me another time."

Okay maybe he deserved that. But he knew she wasn't busy. He knew he had to convince her to hear him out. Alex was determined to say everything he came here to say to her tonight. And then he saw it. The movement behind her. His eyes zeroed in on a guy sitting at her small kitchen table looking equally as relaxed as Valerie texting something on his phone and there were two glasses of wine on the table. 

Alex took him in for another second from top to bottom as the slow boil inside him began to bubble. The guy put his phone down then reached for the bottle of wine and poured them each a little more. 

On instinct Alex put his hand on the door in case she even thought of trying to slam the door on his face. That wasn't happening now. And any hope of this night ending amicably like he'd been optimistic about was instantly squashed. He turned to Valerie whose earlier incensed eyes looked a little panicked now. "Who the fuck is that?"  



 Don't forget to add When You Were Mine on GoodReads!


About Elizabeth Reyes
"I write because I must. It's not a choice or a pastime, it's an unyielding calling and my passion."
~Elizabeth Reyes

USA Today Bestselling Author, Elizabeth Reyes continues to answer her calling on a daily basis. Since releasing her debut novel FOREVER MINE (MORENO BROTHERS #1) in 2010 she has since published five more in that series, FOREVER YOURS, SWEET SOFIE, ALWAYS BEEN MINE, ROMERO and MAKING YOU MINE, with more stories about the Moreno family and their friends to come. She's also published a second series, 5th Street which includes, NOAH, GIO, HECTOR, ABEL. FELIX the fifth in the series is scheduled to release November 13th 2014. Her Moreno Brother's spinoff series FATE includes FATE, & BREAKING BRANDON, there is also more of this series still to come. Her latest release and first in a brand new series is DESERT HEAT about the diverse but equally sexy Santiago Brothers living in Las Vegas.

When she's not writing (which is rare)she spends as much time as she can with her husband of over twenty years, two teen children, Great Dane, Dexter and big fat lazy cat, Tyson.

Keep up with all her upcoming books/events/signings by visiting her website.

You can also keep up by liking her fan page on Facebook 

Following her on Twitter and follow her Instagram


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Blog Tour: In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda


Title: In the Mirror
Author: Kaira Rouda
Publisher: Real You Publishing Group
Pages: 214
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Format: Paperback/Kindle

What choices would you make if you knew you might die soon?

From the multi award-winning, best-selling author of four books, including Here, Home, Hope, a gripping and heart wrenching novel about a young mother who has it all. The only problem is she may be dying.

In her previous works including All the Difference, Rouda's characters "sparkle with humor and heart," and the stories are "told with honest insight and humor" (Booklist). "Inspirational and engaging" (ForeWord), these are the novels you'll turn to for strong female characters and an "engaging read" (Kirkus).

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life - head on. But while she's busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

For More Information


My Book Review:

Jennifer is a wife, a mother, a daughter & sister, friend and business woman. She's also a cancer patient.

Not having been diagnosed until a few weeks after giving birth to her daughter, Jennifer has now been fighting for her life the past 15 months. In a treatment facility with her best friend, another cancer patient named Ralph, Jennifer finds herself succumbing to loneliness.

Her husband is raising their two young children while working a full time job and the romance is disintegrating before Jennifer's very eyes. When an ex waltzes back into her life Jennifer has to realize who she is now and what is really important. 

In the Mirror will have you questioning your life: what do you want to do before you die? Who means what to you? What do you do when you know time is limited? 

Kaira Rouda's writing makes you sit back and reflect on your life and realize just how precious and fragile it is. Life is a gift that we seem to take for granted sometimes and Rouda's writing shows us just that.

The best books are the ones that make you think, make you reflect and make you cry. As I finished the last page, I had tears in my eyes and a smile on my face thinking of how blessed my life is.

In the Mirror teaches us not to take those around us for granted, to say "Thank you" and "I love you", and to go for our dreams even if they seem out of reach. I wish Ralph would have been able to see grapes turned into wine, explore all the wineries he wanted, but I am glad he had one more wonderful date with his wife. 

The characters in this story teach us so much about ourselves. Ralph and Jennifer's lives touch ours. Jennifer taught me to be grateful to the ones I have in my life while Ralph taught me it's never too late to go after your dreams and to make each day and every moment count. Although I've only mentioned Jennifer and Ralph, so many others characters bring this book to life. Jennifer's amazing husband Henry, their beautiful children Hank and Hannah, Jennifer's wonderful friends and family. Jennifer's ex was a jerk and yet his role was important to help Jennifer realize how blessed she is even though she is sick.

I absolutely loved In the Mirror and I can quite honestly say I have never read anything quite like it. This book touched me and will stay with me long after I read the ending.

The ending was the only thing that had me saying "WHAT!" I wish I would've known what happened next but I am building my own scenarios in my head.

Thank you Kaira Rouda for this book. In the Mirror deserves more than 5 stars! 

Book Excerpt & Trailer:
Rolling over to get out of bed, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and cringed. My reflection said it all. Everything had changed.
I looked like death.
I blinked, moving my gaze from the mirror, and noticed the calendar. It was Monday again. That meant everything in the real world. It meant groaning about the morning and getting the kids off to school. It meant struggling to get to the office on time and then forcing yourself to move through the day. It meant the start of something new and fresh and undetermined. But Mondays meant nothing at Shady Valley. We lived in the “pause” world, between “play” and “stop.” Suspension was the toughest part for me. And loneliness. Sure, I had visitors, but it wasn’t the same as being surrounded by people in motion. I’d been on fast-forward in the real world, juggling two kids and my business, struggling to stay connected to my husband, my friends. At Shady Valley, with beige-colored day after cottage-cheese-tasting day, my pace was, well –
I had to get moving.
I supposed my longing for activity was behind my rather childish wish to throw a party for myself. At least it gave me a mission of sorts. A delineation of time beyond what the latest in a long line of cancer treatments dictated. It had been more than 18 months of treatments, doctor’s appointments, hospitalizations and the like. I embraced the solidity of a deadline. The finality of putting a date on the calendar and knowing that at least this, my party, was something I could control.
I noticed the veins standing tall and blue and bubbly atop my pale, bony hands. I felt a swell of gratitude for the snakelike signs of life, the entry points for experimental treatments; without them, I’d be worse than on pause by now.
I pulled my favorite blue sweatshirt over my head and tugged on my matching blue sweatpants.
Moving at last, I brushed my teeth and then headed next door to Ralph’s. He was my best friend at Shady Valley—a special all-suite, last-ditch-effort experimental facility for the sick and dying—or at least he had been until I began planning my party. I was on his last nerve with this, but he’d welcome the company, if not the topic. He was paused too.
 My thick cotton socks helped me shuffle across my fake wood floor, but it was slow going once I reached the grassy knoll—the leaf-green carpet that had overgrown the hallway. An institutional attempt at Eden, I supposed. On our good days, Ralph and I sometimes sneaked my son’s plastic bowling set out there to partake in vicious matches. We had both been highly competitive, type-A people in the “real” world and the suspended reality of hushed voices and tiptoeing relatives was unbearable at times.
“I’ve narrowed it down to three choices,” I said, reaching Ralph’s open door. “’Please come celebrate my life on the eve of my death. RSVP immediately. I’m running out of time.’”
“Oh, honestly,” Ralph said, rolling his head back onto the pillows propping him up. I knew my time in Shady Valley was only bearable because of this man, his humanizing presence. Even though we both looked like shadows of our outside, real-world selves, we carried on a relationship as if we were healthy, alive. I ignored the surgery scars on his bald, now misshapen head. He constantly told me I was beautiful. It worked for us.  
“Too morbid? How about: ‘Only two months left. Come see the incredible, shrinking woman. Learn diet secrets of the doomed,’” I said, smiling then, hoping he’d join in.
“Jennifer, give it a rest would you?” Ralph said.
“You don’t have to be so testy. Do you want me to leave?” I asked, ready to retreat back to my room.
“No, come in. Let’s just talk about something else, OK, beautiful?”
Ralph was lonely, too. Friends from his days as the city’s most promising young investment banker had turned their backs—they didn’t or couldn’t make time for his death. His wife, Barbara, and their three teenage kids were his only regular visitors. Some days, I felt closer to Ralph than to my own family, who seemed increasingly more absorbed in their own lives despite weekly flowers from Daddy and dutiful visits from Henry, my husband of six years. Poor Henry. It was hard to have meaningful visits at Shady Valley, with nurses and treatments and all manner of interruptions. We still held hands and kissed, but intimacy—even when I was feeling up to it—was impossible.
So, there we were, Ralph and I, two near-death invalids fighting for our lives and planning a party to celebrate that fact. It seemed perfectly reasonable, at least to me, because while I knew I should be living in the moment, the future seemed a little hazy without a party to focus on.
“Seriously, I need input on my party invitations. It’s got to be right before I hand it over to Mother. I value your judgment, Ralph; is that too much to ask?”
“For God’s sake, let me see them.” Ralph snatched the paper out of my hand. After a moment, he handed it back to me. “The last one’s the best. The others are too, well, self-pitying and stupid. Are you sure you can’t just have a funeral like the rest of us?”
I glared at him, but agreed, “That’s my favorite, too.”
Mr. & Mrs. E. David Wells
request your presence at a
celebration in honor of their daughter
Jennifer Wells Benson
Please see insert for your party time
Shady Valley Center
2700 Hocking Ridge Road
RSVP to Mrs. Juliana Duncan Wells
No gifts please—donations to breast cancer research appreciated.
#
 At first, I had been incredibly angry about the cancer. Hannah’s birth, so joyous, had marked the end of my life as a “normal” person. Apparently, it happened a lot. While a baby’s cells multiplied, the mom’s got into the act, mutating, turning on each other. Hannah was barely two weeks old when I became violently ill. My fever was 105 degrees when we arrived in the ER. I think the ER doctors suspected a retained placenta or even some sort of infectious disease, although I was so feverish I can’t remember much from that time. All I remember was the feeling of being cut off from my family—Henry, two-year-old Hank, and newborn Hannah—and marooned on the maternity ward, a place for mothers-to-be on bed rest until their due dates. That was hell.
At 33, I was a pathetic sight. My headache was so intense the curtains were drawn at all times. I didn’t look pregnant anymore, so all the nurses thought my baby had died. That first shift tip-toed around me, murmuring. By the second night, one of them posted a sign: “The baby is fine. Mother is sick.” It answered their questions since I couldn’t. It hurt my head too much to try.
By the third day, my headache had receded to a dull roar. Surgery revealed that there was no retained placenta after all. I was ready to go home to my newborn and my life. So with a slight fever and no answers, I escaped from the hospital and went home to a grateful Henry and a chaotic household. I was weak and tired, but everyone agreed that was to be expected. I thanked God for the millionth time for two healthy kids and my blessed, if busy, life.
And then, not two weeks later, I found the lump. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kaira Rouda is an award-winning and bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; In the Mirror; and the short story, A Mother's Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.
Her latest novel is the women’s fiction, In the Mirror.

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