Category Archives: Fiction-Chick Lit

Jackson & Washington’s DIAL L FOR LYNDA

* I received a copy of this book in return for a fair review.

Best friends turn detectives when one is arrested for the murder of her boss.

Dial L for Lynda (Linda & Lynda Detective Agency Book 1)

Dial L for Lynda

Having read a lot of Tracey Jane Jackson’s work, I was excited to learn that she was collaborating with Amanda Washington and branching into a new genre. DIAL L FOR LYNDA is a funny, sexy, well-plotted mystery. It might seem surprising to find wealthy, stylish Addison Allen’s best friend since childhood is a financially-strapped girl from the wrong side of the tracks. Harley James has been a hard worker from an early age and earned herself a scholarship to a pricey private school, which is where she met Addison and her twin brother Asher. They’ve been close ever since, though not as close as Asher would like. Harley keeps him at arm’s length as she tries to build a career that makes her feel more on his social/financial level. It’s her job that becomes the problem when she’d fired by her lecherous boss and then he ends up dead outside her apartment.

Jackson and Washington give us amusing, well developed characters who manage to get into all sorts of oddball scrapes as they try to find the real killer. Asher, a serious, sensible lawyer is a great foil for his emotionally overwrought sister. Whereas Asher tries to help Harley by becoming her legal advocate, Addie actually tries to get herself arrested so she can keep Harley company in jail over the weekend until a Monday bond hearing. And that’s just a taste of the lengths this wacky blonde will go to in order to protect her bestie. Though it doesn’t hurt that the lead detective is a tasty morsel who inspires all sorts of fantasies.

The comedy, mystery and romance are kept in fine balance. Jackson and Washington do a great job leading us through the tangled motives of the real killer, who came as a surprise to me, but is completely believable. Two small issues. The first was with Addie and Asher’s parents. They are a little too cliche “rich and snooty.” I would’ve liked more nuanced characterizations. Also the Linda/Lynda link seems a little forced. Even the authors can’t really explain the logic behind it. Harley’s middle name is Linn, and Lynda is the name Addie and Asher give to their GPS systems. Addie also uses it for a special phone line to throw off unwanted suitors.

Name confusion aside, DIAL L FOR LYNDA had me laughing out loud and reading way past my bedtime. Can’t wait for the next one.

NEW RELEASE! A NUN WALKS INTO A BAR

 

Release Blitz:
A Nun Walks into a Bar
by
Tracey Jane Jackson
Mar 29th
 

 

 

 

After growing up in an abbey, orphan
Sadie Ross becomes Sister Abigail Eunice. Her life and career are on track
until a chance meeting with a handsome stranger in a place no nun should ever
go.

Ryder Carsen’s sister is missing, and he doesn’t
have time for distractions. But when a pretty nun walks into his bar, he can’t
ignore his attraction to her, even though she’s not the “sister” he’s looking
for. He’s relieved when she walks out of his life for what he believes is
forever.

Sadie’s life takes a surprising detour when she
finds her path crossed with Ryder’s once again. When they are brought back
together, Ryder knows he’s found the only woman he’ll ever love, but time is
running out for his sister.

Will Ryder save his sister from the men who took
her?
When a source far too close to home threatens
Sadie, will she trust Ryder enough to let him save her too?
 

 

    

 

    

 

 

CHAPTER ONE
Sister Abigail Eunice
I HAVE BEEN told
I look like Mila Kunis, and you’d think this was a good thing, but in my line
of work, it’s more of a hindrance. You see, I’m a nun. Admittedly, I’m not a
very good one, but nonetheless, I am, in fact, a nun.
Which (in a very
roundabout way) led me to a tiny, hole-in-the wall bar at the edge of the Pearl
District in Portland, Oregon, on a quiet Wednesday night.
I was supposed to be
meeting my friend, Laura, for dinner, but as I stepped off the MAX, I realized
I’d gotten off at the wrong stop and, as was my luck, the small wet sprinkle
coming from the sky quickly turned into a downpour.
“Well, crap!” I
slapped a hand over my mouth and mumbled, “Sorry, Lord.”
Seriously, I was the
worst nun ever.
Unsure of which
street I was on, I took shelter under an awning next to a building with a frog
motif, but no other identifying information. Frustrated, I fished my phone out
of my purse and tried to figure out where I was. I had a missed call from
Laura, and a new voicemail, which I could only guess meant she wouldn’t be able
to make it.
“Hey, lady. I’m so
sorry, I’m stuck at work and I can’t get down to the Pearl for another hour. Do
you still want me to try or do you want to resched?” Yes, she said, “resched.”
“Anyhoo, text me and let me know what you want to do. Love ya, ’bye.”
Laura Chan was my
oldest friend. She was actually the only one who knew me before the nunnery,
and therefore knew me as Sadie Ross, not Sister Abigail Eunice. Laura’s parents
had moved from China, and into the house next door, the summer before second
grade. She’d spoken very little English, but we still managed to communicate
and we roamed the neighborhood, inseparable until my parents’ death. I adored
her, even though she wasn’t always reliable. Ever hopeful, however, I always
gave people the benefit of the doubt, so here I stood, only slightly protected
from the pouring rain. And it was pouring. I fired off a quick text to
Laura, pressing send… just as my phone died.
“Oh, holy mother of—”
I pulled my sweater closer around me and stepped toward the building’s entrance
so I could warm up and perhaps borrow a phone, but just as I moved away from
the wall, something came loose from above, dropping a bucket’s worth of
collected water on my head. I let out a quiet squeak and pulled off my now
soaked veil, yanking open the heavy wooden door and slipping inside.
“ID,” a gruff voice
demanded.
I nodded even though
I couldn’t see anything in the dark space, reaching into my purse and pulling
out my Oregon ID.
A large hand swiped
it from me then handed it back. “Sister Abigail, you look lost.”
I let out a snort.
“You have no idea. I’m stranded and my phone died.”
“Ryder can call you a
cab.”
“Ryder?”
“Owner.” He nodded
toward the back of the building. “He’s at the bar.”
“Do I really need to
go to the bar?” I asked.
“Lady, he’s got the
number for the only cab company he trusts and if I let you leave in one from a
company he doesn’t trust, he’ll be pissed.”
I gave him a look of
mock concern. “That sounds serious.”
Bouncer dude
chuckled. “Yeah, he’s got this weird thing about sweet women being protected.”
“What about women who
aren’t sweet?” I challenged.
“Those too.” The
bouncer laughed. “But the sweet ones always seem to get special treatment.”
I smiled. “Okay, I’ll
head to the bar.”
“Good plan.”
I walked past the
pool tables, dartboards, and a jukebox playing something with a heavy drumbeat
next to the bar, the counter of which ran the length of the building. There
weren’t a whole lot of patrons, just a few who looked as though they paid
weekly rent for their stools. However, I was surprised by the heart motifs
hanging and taped up in a few key places. I guess it made sense… Valentine’s
Day was tomorrow, so the bar was probably getting ready.
A tall man with his
back to me turned and I felt sucker punched. Like, as in, the breath left my
body.
His light-blue eyes
met mine and seemed to peer into my soul. I froze, unable to take one more step
under the weight of his scrutiny. He crossed his arms, keeping eye contact, and
I was drawn into his tractor beam-like pull. I inched forward, one baby step at
a time, taking in his light-blond hair, a full beard—not quite Portland hipster
full, but still sexy-as-heck full. When my gaze landed on his lips he gave me
this incredibly delicious sideways smirk, and Lord help me, I wanted him to
kiss me.
See? Worst nun ever.
“You lost, Sister?”
“How did you know I’m
a nun?” Without my veil, most people just threw pitiful glances at my clothes
as though I didn’t know how to dress in anything fashionable. I wore a sturdy
black wool dress, black tights, and a gray button-up cardigan.
“Couple years of
Catholic school. ’Course, I never saw a nun who looked like you, but it’s your
shoes that give you away. It’s always the shoes.”
“Oh.” I bit my lip,
glancing at my feet. “Well, you got that right. They call them sensible… I
call them ugly.”
“Not touchin’ that
one.” Ryder smiled. “You need directions?”
I shook my head. “I’m
that tale of woe, I’m afraid. My friend couldn’t make our dinner date and my
phone died.”
“You need a cab?”
“Yes, but do you mind
if I just warm up for a minute?”
“You want some tea?”
I couldn’t stop a
huge smile of relief as I sat on one of the stools. “I would love some
tea.”
“Give me your phone
and I’ll charge it for you.”
“No, that’s okay.” I
waved my hand dismissively. “I doubt you’ll have a charger that works.”
He chuckled. “You’d
be surprised.”
I pulled out my
six-year-old flip phone and slid it to him.
“Right,” he said.
“Solve that one,” I
retorted with a giggle.
“Oh, you don’t think
I can?” He pulled open a drawer next to the cash register. After testing
several cords against my phone, he let out a, “Gotcha!” and faced me again,
plugging my phone into the wall. “Found one.”
“How is that even
possible?”
He laughed. “We never
throw anything away and people leave shi—ah, stuff here all the time.”
I raised my hands and
gave him quiet applause. “Well done, sir. Well done.”
He grinned and handed
me a cup of hot water and a couple of tea bags. I was pleasantly surprised to
see he had my favorite licorice flavor and steeped it in the water while Ryder
went about his business.
“You look like you’re
gearing up for Valentine’s Day,” I said, and sipped my tea.
Ryder shook his head.
“Not my choice.”
“Aren’t you the
owner?”
He chuckled. “Doesn’t
mean I’m not ruled by my patrons.”
“Ah, so not a
romantic, then.”
“Just think men
should show their women they love ’em every day… not wait for one day out of
the year. The whole holiday is a farce, in my opinion.”
I smiled. Maybe he was a
romantic.
As he freshened my
hot water, I wondered what my fellow sisters would think about the predicament
I’d gotten myself into. Granted, they rarely left the abbey, but they also
didn’t have jobs like I did.
Being a fourth-grade
teacher and working for the Catholic school next to our living quarters was a
perfect setup for me. Lately, however, I’d been feeling restless and I know
Reverend Mother noticed. In fact, I had a meeting with her in the morning and
it sounded serious, so being late or tired would not be an option. Perhaps my
ill-fated evening was cut short for a very good reason. Mother always says God
works in mysterious ways.
“You ready for that
cab?”
Ryder’s question
pulled me from my thoughts and I smiled, shaking my head. “Is it okay if I
stick around for a little bit?”
“Knock yourself out.”
He glanced at his watch. “But you’re outta here within the hour. It gets a
little rowdy at night.”
“Your bouncer warned
me about you.”
“Yeah?”
I wrapped my hands
around the cup, warming them. “He said you’re very protective of women.”
He glanced behind me
and then met my eyes again. “Bennie talks too much.”
“Maybe so.” I
shrugged and then sipped my tea again.
“What do people call
you other than ‘Sister’?”
“Nothing. I’m Sister
Abigail Eunice. Although my parents named me Sadie.”
Now why did I share
that? I hadn’t used my real name in years.
He leaned against the
bar. “Pretty.”
My breath caught. “My
parents thought so,” I said once I could speak again.
“But not you?”
“No, I like it fine.
I guess I don’t really think about my name much.” I shrugged. “My students call
me Sister and I don’t have many friends outside of… well, outside.” I shook
my head. “Gosh, that sounds so narrow.”
Ryder grinned.
“Sheltered perhaps.”
“That’s very
gracious, Ryder.”
He cocked his head.
“Never been called gracious before.”
Elbow on the bar, I
settled my chin in my palm. “That surprises me.”
“Of course it does.
You’re a nun.”
“Meaning?”
“You’re gracious to
everyone, so you assume others will be gracious as well.”
“I’m not gracious to everyone.
I’m a nun, not perfect.”
Ryder shrugged. “Fair
enough.”
“I should go.”
“Probably a good
idea.” He grabbed his cell phone and put it to his ear. “Hey. Got time to drop
someone home?” He faced me. “Where do you live?”
“Beaverton.”
“Beaverton. Great.
Yeah, five minutes works. Thanks.” Ryder hung up and slid his phone back in his
pocket.
“You’re pretty
friendly with the cab company, huh?” I took the last swig of tea and set the
cup down.
“One of my guys is
taking you home.”
“I thought you were
calling me a cab.”
“Can’t let a nun pay
the cab fare all the way to Beaverton.”
I frowned. “You don’t
think I can pay for cab fare?”
“Not what I said,
Sister.”
“Wow, you really take
this whole I-am-man-hear-me-roar stuff, to a whole ’nother level, huh?”
His gaze went to
something (or someone) behind me and he nodded. “Ride’s here.”
I decided not to
argue; probably because it would do absolutely no good, and slid off my stool.
“Thanks for the tea.”
“Anytime, Sister.”
Somehow, him calling
me “Sister” felt lacking. I took a deep breath. Lordy, I was ridiculous… and
I probably needed to confess, but I knew I wouldn’t.
Again, worst nun
award goes to…
Ryder grabbed my
phone and stepped out from behind the bar. “My number’s in there if you need
anything.”
“What would I need?”
I asked, and took the phone from him.
He shrugged. “You
never know, Sister. It’s a resource. Feel free to use it.”
What a strange thing
to say.
“Thanks for
everything, Ryder,” I said, leaving my internal thoughts in my head.
“No problem.” He
nodded toward his friend. “This is Reese. He’s gonna take you home.”
Reese was tall, dark,
and handsome as they say, but he had an edge about him that made me a little
nervous. His hair was longer than Ryder’s and kind of shaggy, and he was quite
muscular. I was fairly confident he wouldn’t hurt me, but had I met him under
different circumstances, I might have declined a ride.
A warm hand settled
on my back and I felt a shiver steal down my spine.
“You okay, Sister?”
he asked.
“Yes, fine.”
“You’re safe with
him, yeah? You have any issues, you call me.”
“Okay.” I stepped
away from his touch and forced a smile. “Reese, it’s lovely to meet you. Thank
you for the ride.”
“No problem.” He
waved his hand toward the door. “This way.”
With a backward
glance and smile to Ryder, I followed Reese out to the car, grateful he wasn’t
a big talker. Our conversation consisted of him asking me for my address and me
giving it to him. The rest of the ride strictly featured me gripping the door handle
(as was my habit). I hated cars and avoided them whenever I could.
It didn’t take long
to arrive at the rectory and I thanked Reese and climbed out of the car, a
little taken aback when he followed. “I’m fine from here.”
“Ryder’d kick my
a—rear if I didn’t make sure you made it inside safely.”
“Right, his
protection fetish.”
Reese chuckled but
didn’t comment.
I led him up the
brick walkway and to the back of the building where I unlocked the door and
stepped inside. “Thanks again for the ride.”
“My pleasure, Sister.
Have a good night.”
He walked away, and I
closed and locked the door.

 

 

 

New York Times Bestselling Author,
Tracey Jane Jackson, was born and raised in New Zealand, and that’s where her
love of horses was formed. Her grandfather taught her to ride at four years
old, and she couldn’t get enough.
Her love and passion for Abraham Lincoln and the
entire Civil War era might have come from her American father, however, he lays
no claim to influencing her. Tracey’s mother used to tell her she was simply
born in the wrong place in the wrong time.
Tracey hasn’t always wanted to write. It took
her a long time to get started, but now she doesn’t seem to be able to stop,
the joy of escaping to the 1860s is too much fun.

She’s been happily married and gooey in love
with her husband for more than twenty years. They live in the Pacific Northwest
with their two sons.

BE SURE TO SIGN UP ON MY MAILING LIST FOR
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Review: FALLING IN (Vol. 4)

A short story focused on the development of secondary characters Saint and Jeanette in Riley’s Taking the Fall series.

Falling In: Vol 4

Falling In: Vol 4

Saint and Jeanette added a lot to the first three volumes of the Taking the Fall series, so I was glad to hear the author had penned an installment that delved into their relationship. We get a new perspective on both characters. Saint is still lovable, but his submissive behavior in this installment made me a little queasy at times. I know he was just giving Jeanette the control she craved after escaping her ex, but even there the logic was wobbly. We learn that most of the horrible things her ex did was to OTHER women before and after Jeanette. He was controlling, sure, but there was only one real episode of violence and it led to Jeanette running away.

Some of the problems with the plot may have to do with so much story being squished into so few pages. It felt rushed. It didn’t help that the epilogue (as unnecessary here as it was in the earlier parts) steals space from the main narrative.

This fourth volume didn’t deliver what I was hoping for based on the first three.

Funny and Fashionable: A Review of RIPOFF by Morgan St. James and Caroline Rowe

Kimberly is a thirty-something high flying accountant with a great job, a killer wardrobe, and a hot young boyfriend. That is until the company she works for goes bust and her pretty-boy lover takes off with her bankbooks and most of her worldly possessions. Desperate to regain some stability, she gets a position as comptroller for a division of the government that oversees the production and sale of furniture made by inmates of the Federal prison system. At orientation she meets Cameron and Kate. Like Kimberly, they’ve tumbled (or been pushed) down the corporate ladder and have now signed on as regional sales reps for furniture operation. The geographical distance between the women doesn’t present a barrier to their growing friendship. Nor does it stop them from working together when Kimberly uncovers a massive embezzlement scheme. The trio uses all their skills–from computer knowledge to good cleavage–to entrap the thieves.

Ripoff

Ripoff

The action moves at a nice pace, and the characters are well conceived and interesting. Our heroines have some serious human frailties, which make the women easy to like and to root for. Of the three, Kate is probably the one that could have used just a little more fine-tuning. Cool cougar Kimberly and giggly, plastic surgery aficionado Cameron seriously outshine the somewhat reserved redhead. The novel’s villains are nasty and greedy, but the authors also give them plenty of vulnerability. I wanted to see them caught, but I also felt sorry for them.

One aspect of the book was a little rough…The authors obviously have a lot of firsthand knowledge of how this government furniture business works and how it could be exploited. I don’t think we the readers necessarily needed the level of detail provided. This is especially apparent when Kimberly shares information about the case with the other two women or with the authorities. The explanations get repetitive and weigh down the middle a bit. A little more summation would have smoothed out these bumpy spots and supported the overall tone of the story, which is light and bright.

In the end, though, RIPOFF: A FUNNY CRIME CAPER lives up to its title. It’s a quick, enjoyable read where the good triumph over the naughty and look good while doing so!