Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Review: Silencing Eve by Iris Johansen (print/audio)

Title: Silencing Eve 
Author: Iris Johansen 
Series: Eve Duncan, #20
Narrator: Elisabeth Rodgers
Published: 2013, St. Marten's Press/Brillance Audio
Format: Book, 416 pages/ Audio - 12 hrs, 34 min 
Source: Book - library/ Audio - purchased 

#1 New York Times bestselling author Iris Johansen is back with the shocking conclusion to the latest Eve Duncan trilogy.

This is the finale that fans have been waiting for.  In Taking Even, the game began.  In Hunting Eve, the chase was on.  Now, in Silencing Eve, the prey is cornered.  Will Eve Duncan survive?  Will those she loves take the fall with her? And will the secrets of Eve’s past ultimately become her undoing?  In Silencing Eve, all the questions will be answered in a shocking, you never saw it coming conclusion.

Iris Johansen’s 2012 trilogy, Eve, Quinn, Bonnie was a phenomenal success, reaching number one on bestseller lists nationwide.  Now, with this newest trilogy, the stakes are even higher because it’s a question of capture and escape, hunter and prey, life and death. 

My thoughts:  Wow...what an exciting end to a fantastic trilogy!!! This is why I love Iris Johansen so much - she pulls you into her books and you find you can't think of anything else but the characters and what they are going through. In this case, the action is almost nonstop and with the twists and suspense added in, you don't want to put this one down.

Now, this is the first time that I both read and listened to a book. Usually I stick with just one or the other, but I had started reading the book and then had to spend a day driving from NY to Delaware and back. I knew that I didn't want to listen to anything but this book - I had to keep going, so I purchased it from Audible...best decision ever!!! I had no problem going back and forth from the book to the audio - in fact, I felt it might even have enhanced my experience of this book!

I loved how this series brought back so many familiar characters and that they were all, for the most part, working together!  I loved getting to see everyone and hope that in future installments we continue to see these characters. I've even come to expect the supernatural to be part of these books and despite not really loving this, I feel that it really does add to the overall story...after all, when Eve is in trouble, how could you not expect Bonnie to be there to keep her fighting!

I will say there is one scene in particular that had me in tears - I definitely didn't see this happening and can't imagine what it means next for certain characters. If you've read this book, then you know what I'm referring to. If you haven't read it, I don't want to spoil anything, so forgive me for being so vague.

I can't imagine what Iris Johansen has in store next for this series...so much has happened, but I feel that there are still many more adventures in store for Eve and her gang. I also like how some of these characters have been given their own series - Catherine Ling and Kendra Michaels. I would love to see Jane get her own series, and even Margaret...I guess only time will tell what direction Iris Johansen goes in next- but I will say that there are certainly little teasers throughout that will keep us guessing!

Audio thoughts: This is the first time I've heard Elisabeth Rodgers narrate something and I really enjoyed listening to her. She was able to infuse just the right amount of tension needed between the characters. I will definitely be checking out what else she narrates.

Books in this series:

  1. The Face of Deception              13.  Quicksand
  2. The Killing Game                         14.  Blood Game
  3. The Search                                     15.  Eight Days to Live
  4. Body of Lies                                   16.  Chasing the Night
  5. No One to Trust                            17.  Sleep No More
  6. Dead Aim                                        18.  Taking Eve
  7. Fatal Tide                                        19.  Hunting Eve
  8. Blind Alley                                     20.  Silencing Eve
  9. Countdown                                   
  10. Killer Dreams 
  11. Stalemate
  12. Pandora's Daughter 

Monday, October 28, 2013

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (10.28.13)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

As you can see from all the books I'm currently reading - I'm all over the place. I can't seem to settle on one book despite the fact that they are all pretty good. I think it's mainly because I've only been able to read in small spurts of time due to the puppy. I'm hoping to get some longer stretches in this week - I need to get these books done!!!

Books Completed last week:
  • With Open Eyes by Iris Johansen (e-book)
  • Only Yours by Susan Mallery (library book)
Reading Now:   
  • The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins (review e-book)
  • Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell (review book)
  • The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (mine, book lovers unite book club book)
  • The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan (library audio book) - car
  • Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice (library audio book) - iPod
  • Only His by Susan Mallery (library book)
  • The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen (library book) 
  • Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson (review book)
Reviews Completed last week

  Other posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Silencing Eve by Iris Johansen
  • With Open Eyes by Susan Mallery
  • Only Yours by Susan Mallery
Contest information:   
  • None right now...check back soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (66) 10.27.13

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews is starting a new meme to spotlight the books we receive each week.  

Here's what I got:

For Review:

The Boleyn Bride
by Brandy Purdy

I can never get enough of the Boleyns so of course I jumped at the opportunity to be part of this tour...only problem is that it's not until February 2014.

Some Kind of Wonderful (e-book)
by Beth Ciotta

This novella is part of Beth Ciotta's Cupcake Lovers' series and I'm really looking forward to reading this holiday story!


Anything But Love (e-book)
by Beth Ciotta

This is the 3rd book in Beth Ciotta's Cupcake Lovers' series - I've read the first book, have the second, but realized once I got the newest release, that I needed to get myself this one, too!

Sisters in Love (free e-book)
by Melissa Foster

This is the first book in Melissa Foster's Love in Bloom series and it looked pretty good (and was free) so I grabbed myself a copy!

What did you get?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Review: Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evnanovich (audio)

Title: Notorious Nineteen
Author: Janet Evanovich
Series: Stephanie Plum, #19
Narrator: Lorelei King
Published: 2012, Random House Audio
Length: 6 hours, 4 minutes
Source: Library

Stephanie Plum finally lands an assignment that could put her checkbook back in the black. Geoffrey Cubbin, facing trial for embezzling millions from Trenton’s premier assisted-living facility, has mysteriously vanished from the hospital after an emergency appendectomy. Unfortunately, Cubbin has disappeared without a trace, a witness, or his money-hungry wife. Rumors are stirring that he must have had help with the daring escape . . . or that maybe he never made it out of his room alive. Since the hospital staff’s lips seem to be tighter than the security, and it’s hard for Stephanie to blend in to assisted living, Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur goes in undercover. But when a second felon goes missing from the same hospital, Stephanie is forced into working side by side with Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, in order to crack the case.

The real problem is, no Cubbin also means no way to pay the rent. Desperate for money, Stephanie accepts a secondary job guarding her secretive and mouthwatering mentor Ranger from a deadly Special Forces adversary. While Stephanie is notorious for finding trouble, she may have found a little more than she bargained for this time around. Then again—a little food poisoning, some threatening notes, and a bridesmaid’s dress with an excess of taffeta never killed anyone . . . or did they? If Stephanie Plum wants to bring in a paycheck, she’ll have to remember: No guts, no glory.

My thoughts: Oh...Stephanie, Stephanie, Stephanie...I think you may be one of my all-time favorite characters ever! Between your love triangle with Joe Morelli and Ranger and all the crazy antics you seem to find yourself, I can't seem to get enough!

In this installment, Stephanie needs Grandma Mazur to help with an investigation. Now when you include Grandma Mazur in anything, you can be sure there will be many laughs - she may just be the funniest grandma ever! Asking her to snoop around the hospital is almost the perfect job for her as she tends to head to the hospital at least once a week for lunch to pick up any scoop and then heads to Costco for free dessert. And why shouldn't she???

Then there are the many scenes with Lula...another of my favorite characters ever! Stephanie needs to go for a bridesmaid fitting for an undercover job and takes Lula with her. She tells Stephanie that if she was getting married, she would have her bridesmaids in animal print - zebra or leopard. I wouldn't expect anything less but would absolutely love to see that in action!

As is typical with the books in this series, there is lots of action and some familiar characters make appearances in this book - most notably the vertically challenged Briggs. I love when Janet Evanovich brings back characters from earlier books!

I am now caught up with this series until the next one, Takedown Twenty comes out next month. The big question is will this be the last one? Will Stephanie ever make a choice between the two men in her life? Can't wait to find out!!!

Audio Thoughts: Lorelei King rocks in narrating this series. It's really hard to have anything new to say after listening to all these books this year, but I will say I am extremely impressed with the fact that not only does Lorelei manage to keep the same voices for each regular character (Stephanie, Joe, Ranger, Lula, etc), but she also manages to use the same voice for those characters that reappear in later books. I find that absolutely amazing and it definitely adds to the enjoyment of the series!

Books in this series:

     1.  One for the Money                         12.  Twelve Sharp
     2.  Two for the Dough                         12.5  Plum Lovin'
     3.  Three to Get Deadly                      13.  Lean Mean Thirteen
     4.  Four to Score                                   13.5  Plum Lucky
     5.  High Five                                           14.  Fearless Fourteen
     6.  Hot Six                                                14.5  Plum Spooky
     7.  Seven Up                                           15.  Finger Lickin' Fifteen
     8.  Hard Eight                                         16.  Sizzling Sixteen
     8.5  Visions of Sugar Plums              17.  Smokin' Seventeen
     9.  To the Nines                                      18.  Explosive Eighteen
    10.  Ten Big Ones                                    19.  Notorious Nineteen
    11.  Eleven on Top                                 20.  Takedown Twenty - due out Nov 2013


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Review: Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann

Title: Astor Place Vintage
Author: Stephanie Lehmann  
Published: June 2013, Touchstone
Format: Paperback, 396 pages
Source: Library

Amanda Rosembloom, proprietor of Astor Place Vintage, thinks she's on just another call to appraise and possibly purchase clothing from a wealthy, elderly woman. But after discovering a journal sewn into a fur muff, Amanda gets much more than she anticipated. The pages of the journal reveal the life of Olive Westcott, a young woman who had moved to Manhattan in 1907. Olive was set on pursuing a career as a department store buyer in an era when Victorian ideas, limiting a woman's sphere to marriage and motherhood, were only beginning to give way to modern ways of thinking. As Amanda reads the journal, her life begins to unravel until she can no longer ignore this voice from the past. Despite being separated by one hundred years, Amanda finds she's connected to Olive in ways neither could ever have imagined.

My thoughts: This was our September book selection for the Book Lovers Unite book club and I have to say, I really enjoyed this one! I think my favorite part of the book, besides the great story, were the black and white photos that were included throughout the book - photos of Manhattan from the early 1900s. I love looking at old photos, especially of places I'm familiar with and living just north of Manhattan, I do get there quite often.

Astor Place Vintage is told using the dual-time narrative, I format I really have come to enjoy in books. Moving back and forth between Amanda's story in the present and Olive's story in the 1900's, it's very easy to get wrapped up in both their lives. I was particularly fascinated by Olive's story, because it contains such great tidbits of what life really was like for women during that part of history. Imagine not being able to rent an apartment because you were a single gal...or trying to get a job doing what you really want despite the fact that it's not really a 'woman's job.' 

The writing in this book was extremely vivid - I felt that I could really picture the tenement where Olive ended up living and the hats that the women wore during that time. It definitely made me yearn for another trip into the city - just to walk through some of these areas to see how they've changed. I also want to spend some time pouring over old photos of the city. All this from reading this book- thank you Stephanie Lehmann for piquing my interest further in a city I already love!!!

This story is full of twists and turns that keep you glued to the pages. With each switch from one character to the other, it's like being left with mini-cliffhangers and you can't wait to get back to the other one. Both these characters are equally compelling - mainly because they are both flawed characters that make mistakes as they go through life. It's easy to relate to both of them.

I don't know if there are any plans to revisit these characters, but I would love to see what happens next for Amanda. Stephanie Lehmann is definitely on my must-watch author list - I can't wait to see what she writes next!

Have you read this one yet? How do you feel about the dual-time narrative?

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Review: Only Mine by Susan Mallery

Title: Only Mine 
Author:  Susan Mallery
Series: Fool's Gold, #4
Published: July 2011, HQN
Format: Paperback, 379 pages
Source: Library

You can’t win if you don’t play…

Her town’s lack of men may make headlines, but it isn’t news to Dakota Hendrix. The beautiful blonde has bigger problems to deal with, such as overseeing the romance reality competition filming in Fool’s Gold. Screening eligible bachelors is a difficult enough task, but Dakota hits an unexpected snag when a sexy stranger comes to town.

Finn Anderssen will do anything to keep his twin brothers—the perfect contestants—off the show. Despite Dakota’s better judgment, she finds herself drawn to the mysterious outsider. Like her, Finn knows about heartbreak and how a family can fall apart, so she doesn’t dare to hope for anything more than a fling. After all, even in the Land of Happy Endings, finding true love is never as easy as it looks on TV.

My thoughts:  I really am enjoying reading this series by Susan Mallery and am thrilled to be starting the trilogy about the Hendrix triplets. From the first moment we met them in an earlier book, I've been waiting for their stories.

The first triplet up is Dakota, who we got to see quite a bit of in Finding Perfect as she works for Raoul. Picking up where that story left off, with the elementary school still using the camp until it can be rebuilt, Dakota has a lot of time on her hands, so she ends up helping out with the reality show that comes to Fool's Gold. That is how she meets Finn - the older brother of two of the contestants on the show. He's there to get the boys to see reason and come back home to Alaska. Of course, the boys do not go willingly, so he decides to stick around. From the moment Dakota and Finn meet, you just know that somehow they will end up together,but let me tell you - that journey is not an easy one. 

I think one of the reasons I love reading long series like the Fool's Gold one is that you really start to develop a sense of belonging to the town where the series is set in. In the case of this series, each book introduces us to new characters, but familiar ones make appearances throughout the series, especially when one of the main characters ends up being a Hendrix - they are a big family and when one figures, some or even all tend to be around. 

This story also featured Mama bear Hendrix - a woman that I love dearly. She's a fierce mama bear, but has a tender side, too. Here she contemplates entering the dating world and I loved the reactions of her daughters at this news.

I'm definitely looking forward to finding out who the other two triplets end up with, as well as seeing more of the Hendrix clan. I only wish I could go visit Fool's Gold - I think I would absolutely love this small, charming town!

Have you read this series? If so, do you have a favorite character or couple?

Books in this series:

      1. Chasing Perfect                     8. Summer Nights
      2. Almost Perfect                      9. All Summer Long
      2.5 Sister of the Bride             9.5 A Fool's Gold Christmas
      3. Finding Perfect                     9.75  Halfway There
      4. Only Mine                               10. Just One Kiss
      5. Only Yours                             11. Two of a Kind
      6. Only His                                  12. Three Little Words                     
      6.1 Only Us                                 12.5 Christmas on 4th Street
      6.2 Almost Summer
      7. Summer Days 

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's Monday...What Are You Reading? (10.21.13)

It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Another week of little to no reading...again due to the puppy, but also because my 8-year-old niece came to stay with us for a few days. It was a fun visit with a trip to the Bronx Zoo - a place I haven't been to in years - and the highlight of the day was the camel ride! My sister and her 6 month old met us and the weather was perfect for walking around - and great for getting in those steps!!! (Grand total of 16,424 steps that day.)

I'm hoping that this week will be much more quiet so that not only can I get some reading time in, but also I can get some much needed blogging time in.

Books Completed last week:
  • Silencing Eve by Iris Johansen (library book/audio book)
Reading Now:   
  • Before I Met You by Lisa Jewell (review book)
  • The Life List by Lori Nelson Spielman (mine, book lovers unite book club book)
  • The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan (library audio book) - car
  • Light of the Moon by Luanne Rice (library audio book) - iPod
  • The Perfect Match by Kristan Higgins (review e-book)
  • Only Yours by Susan Mallery (library book)
  • The Keepsake by Tess Gerritsen (library book)
Reviews Completed last week

Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Notorious Nineteen by Janet Evanovich
  • Only Mine by Susan Mallery
  • Astor Place Vintage by Stephanie Lehmann
Contest information:   
  • None right now...check back soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (65) 10.20.13

Tynga of Tynga's Reviews is starting a new meme to spotlight the books we receive each week.  

Here's what I got:

For Review:

The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris (e-book)
by Jenny Colgan

I saw this while perusing Netgalley and couldn't resist requesting it. It was originally published this year, but is coming out in paperback in February 2014, so look for my review then!

The Supreme Macaroni Company
by Adriana Trigiani

I've been waiting for this book to come out for so long!!! This is the final book in the Valentine series - the series that had me falling in love with Adriana Trigiani's writing. I'm participating in a tour for this (with a giveaway!!!) - look for my review to be posted November 21.

Candlelight Christmas (e-book)
by Susan Wiggs

This is the latest in Susan Wiggs' Lakeshore Chronicles series and I can't wait to read it. I'll be posting my review for this November 27.


Silencing Eve (audio)
by Iris Johansen

I was very excited to read this book (I got the book from the library) but since I had to drive down to Delaware this past week,  I decided to give Audible a try and downloaded the audio version to listen while in the car. It was the first time I both listened to/read a book - and enjoyed the experience. Look for my review later this week.

Size 12 is Not Fat (e-book)
by Meg Cabot

I've never read anything by Meg Cabot before and so when I saw that this was on sale this past week on Amazon, I decided I would give it a chance.

What did you get?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review & Excerpt: Christmas At The Beach by Wendy Wax

Title: Christmas At The Beach 
Author: Wendy Wax  
Series: Beach #2.5
Published: October 2013 Penguin Group (USA)
Format: ARC e-book, 52 pages
Source: Netgalley 

Wendy Wax entranced audiences with Ten Beach Road and Ocean Beach. Now, the ladies of Bella Flora are back in an all-new holiday novella.

When Madeline Singer, Avery Lawford, and Nicole Grant first gained ownership of Ten Beach Road, they didn’t realize that remodeling the house would not only bind their fates together but give them a second chance at rebuilding their lives.

Now, as Kyra, Madeline’s daughter, returns to the newly sold Bella Flora for one last Christmas, she’s hoping to get a brief respite from the paparazzi that constantly hounds her and the son she had with famous actor Daniel Deranian. But when a string of bad news threatens to disrupt her happy holidays, Bella Flora’s sanctuary may be threatened for all of the women who call it home…

My thoughts:  I fell in love with Maddie, Avery, Nicole, Deirdre and Kyra first in Ten Beach Road and then again in Ocean Beach. Now they are back with a novella that sets the scene for the next book in this series, The House on Mermaid Point, which is due out next year and we find them back at the place where this motley crew first came together.

Christmas At The Beach is a short novella that brings the women back to Bella Flora, the first house they worked on together. They are gathering there for their last Christmas at this house, as it has finally been sold. Luckily, they were able to work out a deal where they could use it until after the first of the new year.

Of course, there isn't a gathering of these women without any paparazzi present, and this holiday is no exception. On top of that, the cameraman from the reality show the women are part of, Do Over, is there with their next assignment...which is the setting for the next book. Where will these women end up next? Will it be another ocean front home? Find out in The House on Mermaid Point!

I really enjoy this series and loved this short novella. It was the perfect snack to hold me over until the next full-length novel comes out. Have you read any of these books yet?

Books in this series:

      1.  Ten Beach Road
      2.  Ocean Beach
      2.5  Christmas At The Beach
      3.  The House on Mermaid Point - due out July 2014

Excerpt from Christmas At The Beach:

Having your own personal pack of paparazzi gives you sympathy for hunted animals and is nowhere near as exciting as people think. It wouldn’t be quite so bad if they kept regular business hours–you know, showed up around nine and clocked out at five. But celebrity stalking is a twenty-four seven occupation with no time off for good–or bad–behavior. Because if they don’t get pictures that make you look nasty, stupid, or even less attractive without makeup than the average tabloid reader, they don’t eat.

Of course, it’s a lot easier to become a celebrity today than it used to be. You can be famous now for the size of your boobs and butt, a five-minute cameo on a reality TV show, doing a below-average tango on Dancing with the Stars, or dating and/or marrying someone who’s done any of the above. The celebrity bar has dropped so low that if it were being set for a game of Limbo, that bar would be ankle-height.

You can even become a celebrity by accident. I happen to know this because that’s what happened to me.

My name is Kyra Singer, and I became famous for falling in love with a movie star named Daniel Deranian while I was working as a production assistant on my first feature film, believing him when he said he loved me, and then getting pregnant with his child. I might regret this more if Dustin, who just turned one last month, weren’t so incredible. And if Daniel’s movie-star wife, Tonja Kay, were a normal human being whose head doesn’t do a 360 when she gets pissed.

If Dustin is the best thing in all of this, and he is, the worst is the extra burden it put on my mother, who was handling a lot already when I got booted off the set by the head-spinning Tonja Kay and then sliced and diced in the tabloids. Unlike a lot of other ankle-height celebrities, I’d way rather be behind the camera than in front of it. But today, which is Christmas Eve day, when I get out to the curb at the Tampa International Airport with my son, his car seat, our suitcase, and my film gear, a bunch of paparazzi are waiting at the curb. My mother and her minivan are not. I’m careful not to make eye contact with any of them while I try to figure out what to do. I’m considering turning around and going back inside to regroup, when a text dings in. It’s from my missing mother. It reads Sri. My fats in fyre.

I read it twice, but it doesn’t get any clearer. My mother, Madeline, is fifty-one, and she’s impressive as hell in a lot of respects, but I think she communicated way better before her phone got so smart. Her next text reads Sree. Mint tries flit. IMHO, most people over forty don’t have control of their thumbs and shouldn’t be allowed to text.

“Kyra, over here!” The accent is British and I recognize the voice. Every once in a while you’re forced to realize that there are real people behind the cameras. People who barge into your life uninvited and then become strangely familiar.

I look up and see Nigel Bracken at the front of the pack. As always I try to shield Dustin as best I can, but he’s one now and not a baby that I can hold in any position I want. Plus he’s a veritable clone of his movie-star father, with the same golden-skinned face, dark brown eyes, and curly hair. The paparazzi can’t get enough of him. A couple of weeks ago a crazed Daniel Deranian fan stole one of Dustin’s dirty diapers out of the trash and tried to sell it on eBay. That’s how weird it gets sometimes.

“Over here, Kyra!” another one of the paps shouts. His name’s Bill and he has bad teeth and a potato shaped nose. They are their own League of Nations– American, British, French, and lots of Heinz 57s. They’re tall and skinny, short and round, and everything in between. Some of them are good-looking enough to walk the red carpet. Others, like Bill, have faces only a mother could love. You rarely see women doing this. I like to think it’s because women are too smart and sympathetic to view stalking celebrities as gainful employment, but it could just be that, like the movie business, it’s a good old boys’ club that women have to work twice as hard and be twice as talented to break into.

“Just give us a couple shots and we’re out of here!” Nigel shouts.

This is a lie. One clean shot will madden them like bees whose hive has been swatted. When I don’t respond, they surge closer.

An airport security guard passes by and warns them to keep out of the traffic lanes. The transportation line is downstairs and so are the car rental desks. What I really need to do is call my mother and find out why she’s not here, but I don’t want to do this on-camera. Most of these guys can read lips better than an NFL coach with a pair of binoculars trying to decipher the other team’s plays.

“Come on, Kyra, luv! It’s practically Christmas! Give us a smile!” I’m not sure who died and elected Nigel spokesman, but at least they’re not all yelling at once.

Dustin’s arm loops up around my neck, and he lifts his head from my shoulder. “Krimas!” he says. The camera drives whir and the digital flashes explode.

I feel the pack moving in, and I fall back a step, not wanting to be surrounded. I turn and move quickly–I prefer not to think of it as running–into the terminal. I head for the only place I might be safe: the ladies’ room.

In a locked stall I check the floor on either side to make sure there are no size-twelve shoes. I drop our suitcase and my camera bag on the floor, stand the folded stroller in a corner, and perch gingerly on the edge of the toilet seat with Dustin in my lap. I could text my mother–she reads texts better than she sends them–but then she might text me back and if I can’t read it will be another big waste of time. I hit speed dial for her number.

“Mom?” I keep my voice down when the phone is answered just in case. And because it’s always kind of gross when you hear someone making a phone call from the toilet regardless of what they are or aren’t doing there.

“Oh, Kyra, thank goodness.” My mother sounds agitated and out of breath. “I’m so sorry, sweetie. I had a flat tire on the Bayway and I’m still waiting for AAA.” I can picture the beige-gold minivan on the side of the causeway that leads from Pass-a-Grille Beach, through Tierra Verde, to the interstate, while Cadillacs and old Chryslers putter past. The population of St. Petersburg and its environs is largely elderly. The joke goes if you leave a glass of water sitting out someone will put his or her teeth in it. My mom hasn’t even made it off the beach. Even if she got the tire fixed in the next five minutes, which is unlikely, she wouldn’t be here for another thirty-five minutes after that.

“Don’t worry about it. I’ll rent a car and meet you at Bella Flora.”

“Are you sure?” My mother has witnessed the paparazzi up close and personal from the day they first found me while we were desperately trying to restore Bella Flora, which is a really cool Mediterranean Revival–style home that was built in the 1920s and was all my mother and the equally unfortunate Avery Lawford and Nicole Grant had left after they lost everything to Malcolm Dyer’s Ponzi scheme. That’s where I’m headed right now.

“Absolutely. Who’s at the house?”

“Avery, Deirdre, and Nicole are there. Chase and his sons are joining us tomorrow morning to open presents. Your dad and Andrew are driving down from Atlanta today.”

“Okay. I’m going to pick up a car. I’ll take the Bayway from 275 so I can stop and help if you’re still there.”

“Be careful. I don’t want them chasing after you and Dustin.”

I know from the way she says this that she’s thinking about what happened to Princess Diana. But I’m not a princess, and the Howard Frankland Bridge to St. Pete is not a Paris tunnel. Still, it will be better if I can just disappear. I don’t want to lead the paparazzi to Bella Flora, even though I’m sure they all already know that Dustin and I are headed to Ten Beach Road.

“We’ll be fine,” I say because we’ve had this conversation before. Or at least we will be, once I put on my disguise.

©Wendy Wax

About the author: Award-winning author Wendy Wax's work, including While We Were Watching Downton Abbey, Ocean Beach and Ten Beach Road, has been highly praised. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution says she “writes with breezy wit and keen insight into family relations.” Her novels have been featured in national publications such as USA Today and Woman’s World, and online at sites such as On A Clear Day You Can Read Forever, Luxury Reading, and Book Reporter
The author of nine novels and a novella, Wendy's work has been sold to publishers in fifteen countries, including the U.K. where While We Were Watching Downton Abbey was recently published. Her novel, Hostile Makeover, was excerpted in Cosmopolitan magazine.
She is now at work on her next book, The House on Mermaid Point. On sale in July 2014, it reintroduces characters from Ten Beach Road (St. Pete Beach) and Ocean Beach (Miami), and sets them loose in the Florida Keys.   
A native of St. Pete Beach, Florida, Wendy and her family have lived in Atlanta for sixteen years.
CHIRSTMAS AT THE BEACH, A Ten Beach Road Novella
Wendy Wax
An  InterMix E-Original
On Sale 10-15-13/9781101625965
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