Fresh FIction Box Not To Miss
Kathryn Springer | Exclusive Excerpt: THE GATHERING TABLE
Author Guest / September 24, 2021

“I guess that officially makes us neighbors, then.” He smiled. “Nick Silva. I live at the end of the street. The only house that isn’t the color of an Easter egg, by the way.” Jess was tempted to smile back, but something told her it would only encourage him to linger. Not that Nick needed encouragement. He extended his hand. “And you are…” “Jessica Keaton.” Jess recreated Nita Warrior Princess’s brisk handshake. The rosebush tried to hinder Jess’s final quickstep to the patio, but she made it. Nick followed, Chuck Taylor high-tops trampling violas left and right. “Does that Buick out front belong to you?” Without thinking, Jess shook her head. As far as she was concerned, it wasn’t a lie. The Buick belonged to Jessie Keaton, an eighteen-year-old escapee from a small town much like Winsome Lake. The car had aided and abetted her flight to freedom a decade ago until it eventually made its way to an outbuilding on the Donovan estate. Safely locked away. Like everything else in Jess’s past. But as much as she wished a tow truck would haul the thing to the nearest scrapyard, Jess doubted a vehicle was part of her new benefit…

Sharon Sala | Exclusive Excerpt: THE CHRISTMAS WISH
Author Guest / September 24, 2021

It was quitting time, and Bridgette was shutting down her office when Wade appeared in the doorway. “Hey, darlin’. Wanna go with me to get a Christmas tree for the store? I’ll throw in a snow cone for your trouble.” “Oooh, yes!” Bridgette said. “Do you want to take your car home first, or leave it here and I bring you back to get it later?” “Are you going to bring the tree back here to the store?” He nodded. “Then I’ll leave it here.” She grabbed her jacket and purse and followed him through the store as he locked up access doors and made sure the security cameras were working. Wade noticed the pensive look on her face and stopped long enough to give her a quick hug. “This was a weird day, wasn’t it, honey? Are you okay about everything that happened?” She sighed. “Yes. Just sorry for Josh’s family. I know LaJune and the kids well enough to visit with them when I see them around. This makes me sad for them.” Wade pushed a curl from her forehead, then brushed a kiss across her lips. “I think Uncle Dub was feeling the same. He called me…

Christina Hovland | Exclusive Excerpt: THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MOLLY
Author Guest / September 17, 2021

Chapter One “The very fact that you worry about being a good mom means that you already are one.” —Jodi Picoult Molly Of all the things Molly Princeton understood for certain, there was one thing in particular she had no doubts about—a woman was only as confident as her underwear. For real, she’d ask anyone to hear her out on this point. A girl could always spit shine the outside, but it was what lay underneath that told the true story. This was the reason she generally wore lace. Lace, unfortunately, that no one but herself ever saw. She sighed, a disappointed sigh that came from deep within the soul. Today, however, her life theory was thrown into a bit of a pickle, seeing as she wore no underwear at all. The no undies thing? Not her fault. Well, maybe a little her fault. She was the one who had forgotten to pack undies that wouldn’t show through the silk sheath dress her bestie Rachel had picked out for her as the maid of honor at her wedding. A wedding in the total boonies where there was no Nordstrom’s or even a Walmart to grab something that wouldn’t leave a…

Ruth Hogan | Exclusive Excerpt: THE MOON, THE STARS, AND MADAME BUROVA
Author Guest / September 16, 2021

I want you to tell her to stop hiding my baccy!” Ernest Plumb was one of Imelda’s regulars. He was a short, stocky man with a bellicose air, who trailed a pungent whiff of mothballs and pipe smoke in his wake. Since his wife, Joan, had died, he had come to see her every few weeks to continue the constant bickering that had been the mainstay of their forty-two-year marriage. Imelda had tried explaining to Ernest that spiritual readings weren’t like telephone conversations. She couldn’t simply dial dead people and have a chat at will. Joan was no more cooperative in death than she had been in life. She only came through when it suited her, but today she did have something to say and Imelda struggled to suppress a grin. “Joan says that she’ll stop hiding your stinking tobacco when you stop living like a filthy pig and wash the net curtains at the sitting room window. And she wants you to stop smoking your pipe in the house. She says that’s what your bloody shed is for.” “It’s not like he uses it for anything else,” Joan grumbled. Imelda could see her standing behind Ernest with her hands…

Alexis Daria | Exclusive Excerpt: A LOT LIKE ADIOS
Author Guest / September 10, 2021

Chapter 4 Picking someone up at the airport in New York City was the biggest of favors, and Michelle hoped the big jerk appreciated it. But not even the nighttime traffic leading into LaGuardia Airport or BTS blasting positive-energy K-pop from her car’s speakers could distract from her jitters about seeing Gabe again.  What would he be like? Would it be weird to be around him again, or just like old times? She wasn’t sure which she preferred. It might hurt more if they slipped right back into their old dynamic, but she also harbored the hope that they could pick up where they’d left off. Although, the last time she’d seen him, they’d had their tongues in each other’s mouth. Were they going to pretend that hadn’t happened? What was the etiquette for reuniting with a former best friend you’d almost banged? The music was interrupted as her Fiat’s Bluetooth called out, “Call from Ava.” Gripping the wheel tight, Michelle debated whether or not to answer. Her stomach was a bundle of twisted-up knots, her teeth clenched tight. Ava would know something was going on, and Michelle didn’t want to explain what she was doing, especially since she wasn’t…

Joanna Davidson Politano | Exclusive Excerpt: A MIDNIGHT DANCE
Author Guest / September 3, 2021

Keeping his gaze on me, he unhooked a wooden bar hanging on long ropes and tossed it over. “Now, let’s start, shall we?” His look was challenging. I gripped the bar and tugged. “You don’t truly expect me to swing through the air on this contraption, do you? How will that help me dance?” “What you’ve done isn’t working, is it? I aim to give you new experiences, push you off a few of your precious safety ledges. Now hold on.” “But I’m afraid of—” “I said, hold on.” . . . heights. A gentle shove against my back and I was hurtling through open space, high over the straw-covered floors. I clutched that awful bar for dear life, digging my fingernails into the wood. I squeezed my eyes shut as I sailed through the air, then I forced one eyelid open. Another platform rose up to meet me, and I scrambled to get my feet onto it, but as my shoes touched wood, my weight pulled me back down. I trembled on the swing back, until I felt solid hands around my waist. Jack hauled me onto the loft and steadied me. “Now you know what it feels like to fly.” “I…

Freya Sampson | Exclusive Excerpt: THE LAST CHANCE LIBRARY
Author Guest / September 2, 2021

It was twelve o’clock and the start of the lunchtime lull. The only other people in the library were Stanley, snoozing behind a newspaper in his chair, and Mrs. Bransworth, skulking around the shelves muttering to herself. June sat down at the desk and took a few deep breaths, filling her nostrils with the comforting scent of the library. As a child, she used to believe that each book had its own smell, specific to its story, and the smell of a library was the combined scent of thousands of different tales. She once explained this theory to her mum, telling her that the Children’s Room smelled best because everyone knew that kids’ books had more exciting stories than grown-up ones. For months after that they’d played a game whenever they read a book together, deciding what particular aroma the story had. The Secret Garden, for example, smelled of mud and roses, while Charlie and the Chocolate Factory smelled of both sugar and cabbage soup. “Excuse me, can I take these out, please?” June looked up to see a tall pile of books in front of the desk, with a pair of eyes blinking at her over the top. “Of…

Amanda Cox | Exclusive Excerpt: THE SECRET KEEPERS OF OLD DEPOT GROCERY
Author Guest / September 1, 2021

March 1967 Glory Ann scooped her daughter from the back seat, relishing the sweet pudge still lingering on the fifteen-month-old’s lengthening legs. The curly-haired tot pushed back from her mother’s embrace and bore her blue-eyed gaze into Glory Ann’s. “Down! Me do it.” Glory Ann swiped a thumb across the child’s sticky cheek. “Okay, but stay close and no running. It’s Gramma Hawthorne’s birthday.” Her chest tightened. “And we must be on our very, very best behavior.” Glory Ann put her daughter down and straightened the crumpled flounces of the tiny pink dress. She then smoothed the front of her own orange shift. “Now, hold my hand.” It had been months since she’d been home to see her parents, and though her mother promised she’d come to Brighton, she had never made the one-hour drive. Not in the many months her little one grew in her middle. Not when she’d labored in the sterile hospital, longing for her mother’s hand to hold. Nor any other time during the fifteen months of her daughter’s life. She took a shaking breath and found an anchor in her child’s tight grip on her thumb. It had seemed a fun idea to surprise Mother…

Paige Tyler | Exclusive Excerpt: ROGUE WOLF
Author Guest / August 26, 2021

“When I’m with you, I get these crazy feelings,” she started slowly. “Emotions I’ve never experienced before come bubbling up out of nowhere. They’re so powerful, they take my breath away.” Even as Samantha recognized the complete truth of what she’d said, it was impossible to miss the effect her words had on Trey. He looked stunned. “Crap,” she muttered, wrapping her arms around herself protectively. “This isn’t coming out the way I wanted. I must sound insane.” But instead of backing away like she expected, Trey took her into his arms, squeezing tight and making the most calming shush- ing sounds she’d ever heard. “You don’t sound insane,” he said, tugging her close until her head was nestled comfortably under his chin. “I completely get everything you’re saying. It’s not crazy at all.” Samantha pulled away, opening her mouth to tell him she didn’t appreciate being patronized. She was so focused on what she was about to say, she forgot about Trey’s mug sitting on the edge of the counter. At least until her flailing hand slammed into it and sent it flying, spinning the thing into the tile backsplash hard enough to shatter it into a thousand pieces,…

Georgie Blalock | Exclusive Excerpt: THE LAST DEBUTANTES
Author Guest / August 23, 2021

“Mr. Astor, a pleasure to see you this evening,” the dark-coated maître d’ greeted, flashing a wide smile beneath his thin mustache. “A pleasure to be here. Anyone we should be concerned about inside? We have the Premier’s niece, Miss Katherine Ormsby-Gore, Miss Dinah Brand, and Miss Christian Grant.” “Michael, don’t tell him who we are.” Katherine glanced around as if anyone who was mingling nearby might care or notice. “Don’t fret, Mr. Rossi won’t tell a soul you’ve been here.” “If I were so indiscreet we’d be closed in a month,” Mr. Rossi assured them. “Not to worry, ladies, no one of concern to any of you is here tonight. Should one arrive, I’ll notify you at once. We don’t like awkward scenes at the 400 Club.” “How does he know who we should and shouldn’t be worried about?” Valerie whispered to Jakie. “Mr. Rossi knows more about people’s lineage than Debrett’s. Don’t worry, you’re in capable hands.” “Table forty-eight, John.” He handed them off to a young waiter, who led them into the heart of the small and dimly lit club. Valerie and the girls gaped at the pillars holding up the low ceiling and the dark silk…