I have been bad about reading lately. Can’t seem to finish things. But in the past few days I read two very fun books. One that’s been out quite awhile, the other that’s just coming out. Both romances, one paranormal, one not.
A billionaire silver-screen hero finds a real-life heroine in this sizzling romantic comedy from New York Times bestselling author Ruth Cardello.
Sage Revere follows her instincts, which have led to an oddball career as a plant psychologist. As a side project, she also helps strangers find happiness. Sage has a gift for knowing who needs her help, and the brooding hunk of a loner she meets in a coffee shop certainly fits the bill. She can feel it.
On-screen, Eric Westerly is the hottest superhero there is. Offscreen, he’s out of rehab; incognito in London; and reevaluating his life, his career, and his broken family ties. All he wants is to be alone. Then along comes some daft plant whisperer who gets under his skin. She’s also sweet, sexy, and irresistible. But what’ll happen when she finds out who he is—that underneath the gray spandex, he’s just a regular guy with a Batcave?
But Eric isn’t the only one with a few secrets. And when the masks come off, Sage and Eric are going to have to trust each other if they want a Hollywood happy ending.
I think what made me want to read the book was her career as a plant psychologist. I don’t know that I paid much attention to the rest of the description because I just had to know what was up with that.
It turns out the plant psychology thing is really a ruse for Sage to engage with other people in order to help them find happiness.
What I liked about this novel is the focus on the internal lives of both characters, their friendships with their best friends, and the real humanity that Cardello uses to draw the characters, even the truly obnoxious ones. This also wasn’t the over-the-top movie-star lifestyle sort of book. Both Sage and Eric had serious childhood issues with their families that molded them into damaged people. Neither find it easy to overcome the damage to become whole enough to be together.
I thoroughly enjoyed their journey because they seemed very real, very normal in their feelings and concerns, and even though romances are by nature very positive and uplifting, this one is more so. I’d definitely read this one and will probably check out the earlier books in he series. The fairy-tale parts of the money and royalty wasn’t overdone, either, which made me happy since I was reading for the relationship and Cardello really did well with it.
I bought this one based on the haunting by the mother-in-law and the setting in Louisiana. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Scientist Maryse Robicheaux thought that a lot of her problems had gone away with her mother-in-law’s death. The woman was rude, pushy, manipulative and used her considerable wealth to run herd over the entire town of Mudbug, Louisiana.
Unfortunately, death doesn’t slow down Helena one bit.
DEQ Agent Luc LeJeune is wondering what his undercover assignment investigating the sexy scientist has gotten him into – especially as it seems someone wants her dead. Keeping his secrets while protecting Maryse proves to be easier than fighting his attraction for the brainy beauty.
I liked this book even though the romance wasn’t that well-built. The characters were terrific, and the first half of the romance built well, but then it went a little fast and I wasn’t entirely convinced of the relationship. Just not as believable for me. But the rest of the story was tons of fun and well worth reading. I want to see what adventures Helena gets up to next (she’s the ghost).
Hi Everybody. I’m here to ask for money. My daughter is starting High School and joining the Competitive Marching Band. They get to go do a lot of competitions and for the first time in the school’s history, they are going to the Grand Nationals in Indianapolis. This means each student has to raise $2000. We’re doing what we can to participate in fundraisers and do our own, but I’m reaching out to all of you to see if you’ve might be able to scrape some pocket change out of the couch. Any little thing helps and it’s tax deductible. If you’re part of a business that might want to sponsor her, we will give you a picture and thank you note to post in your business. And I thank anybody who contributes in advance (I won’t know who you are or if you do, so let me know if you want to and I will send you a picture and thank you as well).
If you are able to, send the money through Paypal to: email@example.com with a notation that it’s for Sydney Francis. If you’d prefer to send it in, I’m attaching a screenshot of the form with the address. And again, thanks so much if you can offer anything. This is really an amazing opportunity for her.
If you haven’t read part one and you want to, click here
I left off last time having talked about the procedure of the courtroom and what I’d learned. Now I’ll move on to the evidence.
The first person on the stand that I got to see was the assistant coroner. She got asked a lot of questions about her experience and her qualifications to testify, and then the questions turned to the body. They showed pictures of the body on a monitor, which was facing the jury so I couldn’t see it that well.
It was already established that Jason had emptied the magazine of his automatic pistol into Sparky. I can’t tell you what caliber, but I believe it was probably a .9 mm or a .45. I believe he fired eight shots total.
According to the coroner’s testimony, the first bullet went into her left shoulder at an angle. That’s the shot that killed her, going to her heart. After that, she was shot seven more times in the back.
After discussing the wounds and the likely order of them and which killed Sparky, it was time to move on to the cops who first on the scene. Jason was waiting outside for them. They secured him, and went inside. They found Sparky facedown sort of slumped up against the back of the couch.
The prosecutor now had one of the detectives lay up against the Judge’s stand (I don’t really know what that’s called) to demonstrate to the jury. The cop adjusted the detective until the scene imitated how he’d found Sparky.
Next he was asked about her body. In one hand she was clutching two children’s backpacks so tight that they had to be pried from her hand, and her other hand she held the knife that Jason claimed she tried to kill him with. The knife released easily from her fingers, which were loose on the handle. Her phone was found on the counter.
Then the prosecutor asked about the brass ejected from the gun. My understanding of the layout is this: A short hallway led from the front door to a room that was open concept. On the left was the kitchen with an island and the refrigerator was on the left as you walked in, blocking the immediate view of the kitchen. On the right was a pony wall with a computer set up in front of it, and directly ahead was the living room area with the couch where Sparky’s body was found.
Brass was found on the keyboard, on top of the fridge, and then littered around the kitchen floor.
The defense then asked whether the officer had made a mistake by removing the knife from the scene before the detective arrived and whether he thought the officer thought he’d tampered with the scene (there were no pictures of the knife in her hand).
Next is was the investigating detective’s turn. He was sworn in and asked about his report being correct and all that stuff I mentioned in my first post. He was then asked what he saw when he came on scene. I don’t remember if the body had been removed by then or not. I want to say no.
But the prosector focused a lot on the knife. The knife block with all the knives was produced, and then the knife that Sparky was supposed to have attacked Jason with. The last was a serrated breadknife with a very sharp inch-long or more point. It was established that these knives belonged to Jason. The defense queried about the fact that the knife was dirty, and indicated that before Sparky was supposed to have grabbed it, it had been used for cutting bread and so was on the island, not in the block.
This last was important because to get to the block, she’d have had to cross the kitchen, reach under the cabinet to the back of the block to get the knife. On the island, it was much more accessible to her.
Next they showed a video of the house interior and exterior. This, apparently, is common protocol in a murder investigation. Everything is filmed to establish where things were and where they weren’t. The body had been removed by this time. As he walked through the house and filmed, the detective indicated where certain pieces of furniture were and where rooms were. One thing they made a point of was that the gun safe was in another room.
So at this point, they dismissed the detective and called another detective, specializing in forensic sound and cybernetics. This is where I learned that Sparky had recorded her murder.
I had occasion to attend a portion of a murder trial a couple months ago. My husband had to testify, called by the prosecution. More on that later.
A man was on trial for murdering his estranged wife on February 14, 2017. I remember that date because my husband had his wisdom teeth out that day, and we got the news the next morning just before I headed out for the Rainforest Writers Village, a writing retreat.
Why did we get the news? The accused (now convicted), named Jason, was a former coworker of my husband’s and they’d been talking about his situation over the previous months. Jason was in the middle of a bitter divorce with two young children in the middle (both under 10, I believe). He was frequently upset with his wife who he claimed was abusing the kids. He talked to my husband fairly regularly about it. My husband told him to document everything, and to work with the police and his lawyer. Jason claimed that her parents were willing to testify on his behalf in a custodial hearing, and he claimed that his wife’s boyfriend’s ex-wife was also concerned that Sparky (the murder victim) was abusing her kid and was talking to the police.
So we were feeling pretty sympathetic to his situation, given this information.
It’s been tough at the Francis house for the last month or so. First there was a situation with my daughter at school. That’s ongoing but hopefully working out. Then one of our corgi boys died. We took him to the vet because he wasn’t feeling so good, and turned out his entire stomach and chest were full of cancer. We had to put him to sleep and it was horrible. I did not take it very well, I can tell you. But then we got a miniature blue heeler puppy. My husband really wanted him and we hoped Voodoo would like him. Voodoo has never been alone in his life: Viggo was his littermate. But Voodoo hates him. I’m hoping he gets over that. We also plan to get another corgi puppy in a few weeks. A great nephew of Viggo and Voodoo. He may be good company for Merlin (mini-blue heeler). His name will be Crowley. (Sensing a theme?)
And then, just when we thought things were evening out . . . . A couple days ago my husband fell down the stairs in the house and broke five ribs in six places. He’s in a lot of pain, as you might guess. It will be four to six weeks at least before he heals.
So things have been difficult here, though I’ve tried to keep writing and doing my work. It’s slow going.
Sweet Viggo. I miss him so much.
But I will leave you with some dog pics because of course you want to see them.
The snake venom from the magical snakes tended to have magical consequences, making their bites dangerous in whole new ways. Most people avoided the area, and those who traveled the river used magic shields to protect themselves.
As they passed through, snakes lunged at the boat, some launching up into the air almost like they had wings. They struck viciously at the boat. Several landed on top of the boat shield, slithering in midair above and snapping their ire at the intruders. Ray couldn’t help but watch them warily, even knowing they could not break through.
“Sometimes I wonder if they have their own witches,” Annette said as she watched them slither and slide off the shield and drop back into the water. “If some of them can do spells.”
Viggo studiously not paying any attention to the tugging of the war.
I’ve recently discovered that I don’t understand the rules of tug-o-war with the dog. I’m not the only one. Viggo doesn’t understand the rules either. Or maybe he doesn’t understand the point of the game. Either way, when Voodoo decides he’s up for a game, Viggo just sort of stares with a kind of vacant look of confusion and then puts his head down and goes back to sleep.
Voodoo grabs his squeaky toy (I’ve learned the game is only fun if the toy squeaks–who knew?) and then invites me (orders/invites–it’s a fine line) to yank on it while he holds on to the other side. I shake it back and forth and pull, and he just sort of hangs on and leans back. He’ll keep it up forever. What I don’t get is why we are doing it. Why is it fun?
Voodoo wondering why I would write about him and wondering when I’ll be free for another game.
Is there a winner? If so, how do we know? On occasion, he’ll let go so I can throw it and he can chase down the hall after it and bring it back, and then we begin the tugging process again. Mind you, he doesn’t play fetch outside, nor does he fetch anything but his squeaky tug-o-war toy.
I have to admit that I don’t last long in the game. Maybe that’s how you win. You just have to not get bored and keep holding on. Voodoo is a master of the game. He can hold on forever and he never gets bored.
I have noticed that I am the opponent of choice. He won’t play with the kids much at all, though he will play with my husband on occasion. But if he does play with my husband, I have to be in the room and I have to be watching. Otherwise he’s over it.
Though he found the perfect spot, it would be the last time Sal the fish played hide-and-seek.
I’ve been sitting here this morning watching a Dr. Phil. An old one, a rerun from 2014. I don’t usually watch this show or other talk shows because generally they bore me or there’s too much drama. (A reason I don’t tend to watch reality shows, too). So the basic premise of the show is that a wife is sure her husband is cheating and he’s swearing he’s not and they fight about it a lot. She goes to great lengths to discover proof and get him to admit it, and there is a lot of fighting, including physical fighting. And there are kids in the house.
Okay, so that’s the background. My response to all this is–why the hell are you still together? Why not just walk away?
That got me to thinking about winning. I get the impression that this is all about winning. And as usual, the definition of winning is questionable. For me, winning would be no longer living a horrid life and getting my children into a safe, happy home. But for them, winning seems to be about getting the other to admit their ‘crimes.’ But then I wonder, what if they do get admission? What then? I don’t get the impression that would be enough to end it. Is it making the other person ‘pay’ for what they’ve done? Grovel? What would winning *really* look like?
I was thinking, if they did walk away, then would they think that the other one got off too easily? That both would win because they are both happier and better off? And so they’d rather suffer than let the other person get to be happy?
The reason I’m still watching the show after 45 minutes and listening to these super obnoxious people, is because they aren’t extraordinary people. They could be anybody on my block. And that makes me think about them as characters. I’m a writer; this is what I do. I have a hard time wrapping my head around people that would behave this way, so it’s interesting to watch them and try to figure out how to write them believably, and why I would include people like them in a novel.
I was also thinking how this would apply in political situations (from job politics to actual politics), to friendships, and so on. That element that you’d rather suffer horribly than let the other person off the hook/win. I also read this morning a quote by Haruki Murakami and it’s tremendously appropriate: “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” In the case of not letting the other person win at the price of your own happiness, I think that’s choosing suffering, even if you have some element of triumph.
I think also that people dig in because they’ve already suffered so much, it’s too much to take to know that they could have walked away at any point and not suffered. On top of that, they have to make it worthwhile. They have to see something come out of the situation, some win, even if it’s a Pyrrhic victory.
As a writer, the hardest part of writing characters like this is making it believable. Truth is really no excuse for fiction. Truth can be bizarre and make little sense, but fiction has to make sense and be believable. I have to dig into figuring out the mindset and making it real for myself.
She closed her inner eyes and just let herself feel. For a moment it was too much. All the information coming in from every single connection that tied her to the land and people of Portland. She let that all go fuzzy, like ignoring an itch. Instead she concentrated on the sword. It throbbed and hungered. It wanted to dominate, to control, to take.
It was like one of those terrible nighttime cravings for barbecue or ice cream, one that required you to get out of bed and go get what you hungered for as fast as possible.
Kayla had no intention of giving into this craving. Barbecue, sure, but god-chow? No thanks.
That is, I’m feeling crazy. I’ve had so much going on. My husband has been looking for a job and having a bunch of interviews. We’re getting work done at the house again. I’m close to deadline and behind. I’ve been teaching. And mothering. And running errands and trying to figure out why my ocular migraines are getting worse. I wish I knew someone who had them too so I could talk about it.
I’m still losing weight. I don’t remember the last time I was at this weight. It’s been super hot (for the time of year–up in the 80s) and I’m soooooo glad I’ve bought shorts. I’ll be heading off to RT (Romantic Times Booklovers Convention) in May, and from there I’m heading up to Miscon, and then home. I’m not sure where all my time is disappearing to, but I’m working hard to stay on track. Anyhow, what’s crazy is how much my fingers are shrinking. I didn’t really expect them to shrink so much.
I’ve got a huge pile of clothes that don’t fit anymore, and I”m not sure what to do with them. I could donate them, but I’m trying to figure out how to give them to someone who might actually need them. Not sure what the best venue for that is.I’m also trying to figure out what clothes that are still in my closet that are too big, but I’m not sure I should get rid of. I don’t wear a lot of fancier stuff any more. Mostly I”m super casual. Some of the shirts that I’m trying to figure out are the kind I can wear over other things–like jackets, but shirts. They still look good, but I’m trying really hard not to hang onto the stuff I don’t need, or that I won’t wear much.
I also am woefully behind on getting my newsletter out and doing some updates to the website. I’ve got to get on both of those.
I have been doing some sketching. I used to draw a lot when I was younger, and then I kind of stopped. I’m doing animals, and working off pictures from online. I’m working toward being able to do a corgi, and I’d like to do some mythological creatures.
My tennis elbow is better. Not knitting yet, but I’m getting closer. I think.
I’ve got a bunch of tomatoes and peppers started in my kitchen. I’ve got some grow lights and a heating mat and things are progressing nicely. Now I just have to get out into the garden. And I have to spray my roses with Neem oil to stop the black spot. I’m hoping it will work. My plants have a fair big infestation.
When we moved here, I managed to mostly get over my whole: keep everything that’s still good because it’s too good to get rid of attitude. Then we moved and now I”m back to keeping more stuff than I should. So I’m trying to get rid of things. I’m hoping to do a garage sale. I hate doing them, but it would make it easier to get rid of stuff. And maybe get some money back. But mostly get rid of stuff.
Now I have a corgi pointedly rolling on his back and waving his paws in the air. It’s bedtime and he wants to go.