Books · Excerpt

Excerpt from Long Gone

Long Gone was one of the harder books for me to write in this series. In this book, the heroine isn’t running from her past, but from her present so I needed to be in her now as she struggled with her trauma. I tried to ensure to only give the details necessary for the story, I never want my writing to even hint that violence is being glorified.

In this fourth book of the New Beginnings series, Reporter Eve Darling has the story of lifetime, a candidate for governor and his brother connived a baby away from a teenage mom and plan on repeating it. Her boss won’t believe without a source. Eve isn’t willing to give up the first woman–herself. She turns to skip-tracer Alex Stratford to help locate the new intended victim.

Alex is stunned when Eve shows up and requests help. The woman who once accused him of murder now accuses another man of a crime. Having battled Eve’s mudslinging himself, and barely winning, Alex refuses.

Determined to bring the brothers to justice, Eve continues on her mission alone. When she’s attacked, Alex rushes to her aid–and a decision alters lives forever. Can a battered and disgraced Eve and a battle-scarred Alex ever feel worthy of love from another…or themselves?


Eve sat on the twin-sized bed, knees drawn up to her chin. She barely remembered the drive from Clarksburg to Rockville, Maryland where the women’s shelter owned by the Stratfords was located. The large white two-story family style home with a four-car garage looked inviting and charming. Flowers lined the front walkway. Black shutters bracketed each window. The only thing hinting of the dual use of the family home was the large wooden fence surrounding the property and the intricate alarm inside.

A women’s shelter. Sunlight seeped through the window and played along the edge of the bed. Eve tightened her grasp around her legs, holding in a moan as aches and pain shoot through her with the simple movement. She never envisioned herself having to live in such a place. She thought herself stronger and smarter.

She agreed to stay at the Stratford’s place because she hadn’t the energy or ability to leave on her own. Brandon’s accomplice had stolen her purse and with it her car keys and wallet. Until it was found, or she had the health to return to Charleston, she had to rely on others.

The truth settled hard in her chest. Eve hated having to rely on anyone for anything. The last person she trusted with her heart and life broke it — then tried killing her. Maybe she did belong at the shelter, because even after Brandon stole her baby from her, she had thought about falling back into his arms.

Not smarter than everyone, are you? She deserved the reminder. The chiding. Judge herself as she judged others.

Her only possessions right now were the clothes on her back. Clothes Nathaniel bought her. Nausea churned her stomach. Her breath caught in her throat. She wanted them off her body. Now. She gripped the fabric, fingers twisting and turning on their own will.

The harsh sound of her breathing filled the room. She needed them off. Away from her. No wonder she couldn’t sleep last night. Nathaniel and Brandon had surrounded her. Stop. If she ripped the clothing, she had nothing to wear.

A knock sounded on the door. Taking in a steadying breath, she loosened her grip on the sweatshirt. Clothing couldn’t hurt her. Nathaniel couldn’t hurt her.

She was a fighter. Strong. Confident. No one would take anything away from her. She could get through this — would get through this event — all by herself. She’d show the Fallows they hadn’t made a victim out of her.

“Eve?” Angelina Stratford’s voice drifted through the close door.

Eve glanced over at the clock. Nine in the morning. She didn’t want to start the day when the night didn’t feel complete. She knew she dozed on and off a few times but never fell into a deep sleep. The images of Brandon kicking and hitting her had shown behind her closed eyelids.

Well, if she ever wanted to get out of there, she needed to stand on her own two feet and stop wallowing. Eve scooted off the bed and went to the door. Drawing in a deep breath, she stood straight and opened the door.

“How are you feeling this morning?” Angelina stood in the hallway.


“Would you like some breakfast? I can bring something back for you. Usually everyone eats together but you still need your rest.”

Food. Eve hadn’t thought about food. Even now, she didn’t feel hungry though the last time she remembered eating was when the nurse had brought a lunch tray into her room. She didn’t recall what she ate, just taking bites of the food placed in front of her. She knew she had to eat in order to stay healthy. Get healthier.

“I don’t mind going to the dining room. I can walk.” The words sounded slurred because of her swollen mouth. Eve stepped out into the hall. She’d prove she was fine. Brandon might have hit her, but he hadn’t destroyed her. Made her afraid. She wasn’t at the shelter to hide out. She was there because she was a little sore to drive long distances at the moment. Before too long, she’d be out of there and right back at her job.

No one would silence her for long.

“Follow me.” Angelina smiled and started down the hall.

Eve found her feet rooted. What was wrong with her? She fisted her hands into the fabric at her thighs, preparing to walk herself like a puppet if necessary.

Angelina stopped and turned. She frowned. “Is something wrong?”

Eve swallowed the fear rising in her throat. “I don’t have anything else.”

“Of course, you’d like to change.” Angelina shook her head. “I can’t believe I’ve been so thoughtless. I don’t like parading around in the clothes I slept in, and it’s even one of our rules.”


“Yes. I can tell you them over you eat or you can read them. I have a binder and vouchers for you. I planned on giving them to you after breakfast.”

Written rules and vouchers. Her stomach tightened. Eve wrapped an arm around her middle. “I’m sorry. I think I’d rather just eat in my room. I’m…”

Sympathy flashed on Angelina’s face. “Tired. I’m sure you are. Hospitals sometimes aren’t the best places for rest. I’ll bring you an outfit from the lending closet and you can pick out some more items later.”

“Is it all right if I took a shower?”

Angelina squeezed her hand. “No need to ask. While you’re here, consider our home your home. We got in so late, I forgot to tell you I placed towels and toiletries in a bathroom for you. It’s across the hall from your bedroom. No one else will be using it other than you so feel free to keep anything in there you’d like.”

“I don’t have anything.”

“We’ll fix that also.” Angelina patted her hand. “I’ll make you something to eat and put it in your room.”

“Thank you.”

A few minutes later, Angelina returned with a pair of soft grey yoga pants and a pink long-sleeved t-shirt in a soft cotton fabric. Eve carried the outfit to the bathroom, avoiding looking in the mirror. She felt more confident not knowing what her face looked like at the moment.

Quickly, she undressed, shoving the offending outfit into a corner underneath the sink. She’d burn them later. Her muscles ached from the simple task. After she showered and pulled on the comfortable outfit Angelina provided, Eve went back to her room.

Her stomach growled as the scent of bacon, blueberry pancakes and coffee wafted toward her. A good sign. A hot shower and a change of clothes made the world brighter.

“Looks like perfect timing.” Angelina carried a tray down the hall.

Eve opened the bedroom door.

Angelina paused. “Would you like me to put it on the desk?”

“Yes, thank you.”

Angelina settled the tray on the small desk. She pulled a wallet and a prepaid cell phone from a pocket of the sweater she wore. “This is for you. We like to make sure everyone has the ability to call us at any time and from anywhere. In the wallet are your vouchers. You have some for clothing, food and gas. We serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner here but sometimes the residents prefer something else. We have two sedans for resident’s use. There’s a sign up sheet in the office area, along with a schedule of group outings. Some of the ladies prefer shopping together rather than by themselves.”

Eve opened the wallet and flipped through the pieces of paper the size of regular dollar bills, and made out in different denominations with the category listed on them. Heat filled her face. The smell of the food now churned her stomach.

Was this how people on assistance felt?

She choked down the lump building in her throat. “The stores take these?”

“We do own a second-hand clothing boutique where you can use the vouchers and there’s also one independent grocery store who accepts them. If you’d rather shop elsewhere, we’ll exchange the vouchers for the cash before you go shopping. Just let me know and I’ll make sure to have the funds in the house. I don’t like having a lot of cash around.”

“Just you? Not Alex or your husband.”

Angelina shook her head. “No one here will ever have to ask a man for money or for a basic need, not even my husband or son. They are here to help so if there’s something you’d like, let them know otherwise you can come to me. I’m always available.”

“Is there a computer with wireless I can borrow while I’m here?”

Angelina pressed back a frown. “Usually we don’t loan out personal computers. There is a desk top in the family room and a laptop the children can use for schoolwork. Part of being here is so contact can be broken with those intent on harming us, and internet usage interferes in it.”

“The person who wanted to hurt me is dead.” A slip of anger entered her voice. A heavy, pulsating feeling bubbled in her chest, wanting to spew forth.

Angelina looked away. “I’ll see what I can do.”

Eve eased the door closed when Angelina left. Where had the rage come from and why at Angelina? Eve took a few bites then abandoned the delicious breakfast that created a boulder in her stomach.

Now what? She couldn’t live by mealtimes alone. She needed something to do. Her gaze rested on the phone on the nightstand.

Jack. She needed to let her boss know what was going on. He’d be wondering why she hadn’t shown up for work in days.

She snatched up the phone and called her boss’ direct line. He answered on the third ring.

“Jack Lawson, Editor-in-Chief.”

“It’s Eve.” Slurred words pushed out from her swollen lips.

“Have you been drinking?”

The harsh tone had her leaning away from the phone, as if Jack physically stuck her. She touched her mouth. “No. Beaten.”

“Let me guess, this call has something to do with your story.”

A flush flashed across her face while cold prickled her scalp. She had barely said anything and Jack already declared her a liar. “I was to meet Elizabeth Fallow. Instead Brandon showed up–”

“He was shot to death, Eve. Isn’t that enough for you? Do you really have to tarnish the man’s reputation?” Jack let out disgusted bark of a laugh. “The man’s brother is planning on entering politics. Did Brandon jilt you so bad you have to ruin Nathaniel?”

Who had talked to Jack? What had they told him? She shook her head even though Jack couldn’t see her. “I’m not ruining anyone. I’m telling you what happened to me. Brandon beat me. Tried to kill me. If someone hadn’t come to my rescue–”

“Eve, don’t. Please don’t.” Jack’s voice grew softer, weary.

Books · Craft · Excerpt · Quilting · West Virginia

Crafting Moment from Safe and Sound

With March being National Craft Month, I’m featuring some crafting…and love of handmade items…moments from my novels. In Safe and Sound, Hannah is drawn to venture inside a store that sells handmade goods.


Hannah tugged open the door and stepped inside. A sense of calm filled her as she allowed the love used to make the items wrap around her. She smiled. She could live in the store. Reaching out, she trailed her fingers through the fringe of a cashmere scarf knitted in a mix of red and gold shades.

“Can I help you?”

Hannah gasped and spun around, pressing her gloved hand to her chest.

“I didn’t mean to scare you.” The woman looked her up and down then peered out the window. A frown developed on her wide face. “Are you hiding from someone? Do you think you saw the shooter from this morning? I’ll call the sheriff for you.”

Word sure did get around the small town quick. “A little rattled. Walking by your store, I saw all the lovely things and they called out to my heart. I had to come in and look and touch. I’m calmer already.” Hannah shoved her hands into her pocket. “I promise not to ruin anything.”

The woman smiled. “Don’t you worry none. Just noticed a busybody hovering outside and figured she was bugging you. Please take a look around. I’m Beverly, the owner. Are you looking for anything in particular?”

“The quilts and fabric caught my eye. Nothing says love like a beautiful handmade quilt.”

The woman beamed. “I have some made by a local artisan and a few others I picked up at some quilting shows. The quilts are all on the second floor. There’s a latch at the top of the stair gate, pull it up and it’ll open. Don’t forget to close it.”

Beverly started walking her to the staircase when the front bell jingled. A familiar looking young woman with brown hair stepped inside. The owner rolled her eyes. “Let me go see what Miss One-Thousand-Questions wants this time. Just call down to me if you’d like a closer look at any of the pieces hanging.”

“Thank you.”

Grasping the wooden rail, Hannah went up the stairs. When she reached the top, a gasp once again escaped her. Beauty left her awestruck. Slowly, she walked over to the first queen sized quilt hung on a large wooden hanger and drifted her gloved hand over the intricate hand-stitching on the front of the quilt. A precise line of stitches dipped and swirled over the soft pink and bright green shades of material, the fabric a mix of patterns and solid. A cream border surrounded the quilt.

Using her thumb and index finger, Hannah took hold of the edge of the quilt. She moved it forward on the rack. The next one was black and white with a red border in a contemporary style.

Hannah moved on to the next one. She fell in love. Navy blue and soft silvers complimented the winter scene of a cabin at night. The shimmery fabric used for the stars made the picture life-like. The artist used a silver, cotton fabric to create wisps of smoke coming from the chimney. Hannah could almost hear the fire crackling in the hearth. Smell the comfort of smoke wafting up the chimney.

Soft, almost buttery flannel backed the quilt. Yielding to temptation, Hannah raised a corner of the quilt and rubbed it across her cheek. It felt like home. Love. Safety.

The amount written on the price tag made her sigh. Out of her price point though it was worth every penny being asked. She stroked the fabric one more time and went to a rack with lap and crib-sized quilts. Maybe she’d be able to afford a smaller one. A lap quilt with a Christmas tree appliqué caught her eye. She lifted up the quilt and examined the tiny stitches used to puff out the ornaments. Beautiful.

The bell jingled.

Hannah smiled and gently released the quilt. She knew her husband would come after her.


The hope for a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

Four years ago while deployed, Connor’s new bride lost her way in a blizzard and the mountain claimed her. Grief-stricken and injured, Connor returned home to wrestle with guilt and begin life as a widower. When a woman’s body is uncovered, Connor learns his beloved was murdered…and the murderer has his sights on another woman. Connor’s past and present are pulled apart when the woman claims she’s Hannah.

The murderer who sent Hannah Stratford on the run has tracked her down. Now, the only way to stay alive is for Hannah to prove she didn’t die in a blizzard. Connor offers her safety and protection in his home, but keeps his heart guarded from her. Hannah wants more than to save her life. She wants Connor.

To read more of Hannah and Connor’s story, Safe and Sound can be found at:


Barnes and Noble


Desert Breeze

This Spring, the New Beginnings series will be available in print.

Books · Excerpt

Celebrating Valentine’s Day: Romance Scene from Safe and Sound

In continuing the celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting a romance scene books three and four of the New Beginning series today. This excerpt is from the third book in the series, Safe and Sound.

Safe and Sound:

Blurb: The hope for a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

Four years ago while deployed, Connor’s new bride lost her way in a blizzard and the mountain claimed her. Grief-stricken and injured, Connor returned home to wrestle with guilt and begin life as a widower. When a woman’s body is uncovered, Connor learns his beloved was murdered…and the murderer has his sights on another woman. Connor’s past and present are pulled apart when the woman claims she’s Hannah.

The murderer who sent Hannah Stratford on the run has tracked her down. Now, the only way to stay alive is for Hannah to prove she didn’t die in a blizzard. Connor offers her safety and protection in his home, but keeps his heart guarded from her. Hannah wants more than to save her life. She wants Connor.


Hannah opened the car door, braced her hand on the door handle, and turned her waist. Her legs remained frozen. Sweat coated her hand and her lungs burned. The air remained locked tight.

What was happening? She tried exhaling but the air refused to leave. She heard her small, painful gasps.

“Hannah?” Connor was at her side. “What’s wrong?”

She couldn’t talk. All she managed was looking into his eyes. Tears trickled down her face.

“I should’ve known it was too soon.” Connor cupped her cheeks with his hands and wiped away the tears. “Let’s go back home.”

No. She wanted people seeing her. Knowing her. Remembering her. The more people who knew about her, the safer she’d be. David might kill her but at least her death wouldn’t go undiscovered… like Kitty. Not once had Kitty’s family looked for her. They didn’t miss their daughter.

Then again, neither did her parents. The tears raced down her face.

Without a word, Connor gathered her into his arms and caressed her back and hair. “This is too much. Too soon. They’ll be plenty of days to try again.”

Once again it felt like Hannah couldn’t breathe. This time it was desire causing the turmoil in her lungs. She melted into his embrace, seeking not just comfort but warmth. The heat from his body started her pulse racing. She felt his heart beat against her chest. Hannah wound her arms around his neck and pulled herself closer. Heat raced through her and a deep craving for her husband.

One of Connor’s hands roamed down her back, settling on her hip and the other stroked her cheek.

She lifted her chin and stared into his eyes. His hazel eyes smoldered. He read her desire. Her wish. Even better, the same wish shone in his eyes. Hannah stretched her neck, seeking out his lips.

He lowered his head the last few inches and made her simple dream come true. He kissed her, a tender feathering of his lips on hers. Sensations long buried awoke in her body. She trembled and a yearning filled her.

Hannah gripped the front of Connor’s jacket and kissed him back. Harder. Demanding. She wanted her husband’s touch to overpower the bad memories. Sweet and heated moments from their honeymoon filled her mind. Her body reacted. Moaning, she deepened the kiss.

Connor braced his arms on her shoulders and pushed away, breaking their contact.

A whimper escaped from Hannah. She grabbed Connor and tugged him back, not ready for the end of the kiss. She needed more from her husband.

“Don’t,” Connor said.

The simple word felt like a slap. She recoiled. Hannah dipped her head. Shame rushed through her. What had she been thinking? Throwing herself at a man who wasn’t sure she was his wife?

Connor caught her hand, his thumb on her pulse and used his other hand to tip her chin up. Desire shone in his eyes.

“Some acts shouldn’t have an audience.” Connor sounded out of breath.

Happiness danced through Hannah. He wanted her. She hoped with all her heart those words meant he believed her, not just a physical reaction to a woman’s passionate kiss.


If you’d like to read Hannah and Connor’s story, Safe and Sound is available at:



Barnes and Noble

Available in print this spring.

Books · Excerpt

Celebrating Valentine’s Day: Romance Scene from Led Astray

In continuation of my Valentine’s Day celebration, here’s a scene from the second book published in the New Beginnings Series.

Led Astray:

The hope of a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

When a mining company promises jobs in exchange for the mountaintop where the church resides, a battle erupts between the sister-towns of Mourning and Haven, West Virginia.

Skip-tracer Danita Ballinger races to Mourning before the lives of New Beginnings clients “vanished” to the off-the-grid town are jeopardized.

Pastor Riley Coole refuses the mining company offers, and the help of the brazen woman forcing her way into his business and his towns.

The murder of a key player in the tug-of-war over the mountain puts plans of retaliation into motion. Danita and Riley must put aside their private battle to protect the people relying on them for safety. Will seeing each other in a new light put them on a path of acceptance and true love, or create a further divide ripping apart the town and their own hearts?


Iciness gripped Riley’s insides and twisted them. The pain came so hard and quick, he struggled for breath. Wade Peake hired that person. They knew Riley didn’t have the strength to stop him, but Danita did.

Oh, Lord, what have I done? Riley fell to his knees and clasped his hands together. He’d brought Danita here. He’d put her danger. He placed the well-being of the mountain over the well-being of a woman.

He’d change his mind. Tell them they could take whatever they wanted from the mountain as long as they left the people alone. But of course once he told them, they’d have power over him and the town. What demands would come next?

Once he gave in to this request, Peake wouldn’t stop. Men like him never did. How would he explain to the community, to the residents of Mourning, why he chose the safety of one woman over them? Danita wouldn’t stand back and accept the change of plans. She’d continue to fight and become the advocate for the town of Mourning instead of him.

Lord, how do I keep her safe? No answer came. Riley wasn’t surprised. He wasn’t the type of man people ran to for safety — but Clayton was. Would his brother help him keep Danita safe?

Of course he would. Clayton had already stepped in twice to make sure someone didn’t hurt Danita. Clayton had empathy for the beautiful and tough woman. He knew she needed someone to stand up for her, even though she pushed away everyone who tried.

Riley stood and drew in a cleansing breath. There was no shame in asking his brother for help. Since arriving in town, Clayton had kept a close eye on Danita. He wanted to help. Yes, he and Clayton had differences in the past and it was obvious his brother didn’t trust or think very well of him… but how much of the attitude had Riley brought down upon his own shoulders?

Look at how he talked to Danita. His judgment of her was as clear as a sunny, cloudless day.

Riley opened the classroom door and headed for the sanctuary. The silence, deep and thick, made his heart jump against his chest. Sweat broke out across his forehead, and he tried to keep the alarm at bay. This was a church, a place of worship. Silence should be golden as it showcased hearts filled with prayers and praises to the Lord.

Or could it mean Riley was alone? Did someone come into the building and snatch Danita from the safety of the church’s arms? No.

Riley repeated the word over and over again as he walked to the front of the sanctuary, eyes scanning the area for a sign of anyone else being, or having been, inside. Coldness raced through his body. There was no one. She was nowhere to be seen.

Please, Lord, please let her be okay. His sneakers shuffled across the carpet, making a whisking sound with every step.

“Danita.” His voice echoed off the walls and returned to him. No answer. No movement.

He picked up his pace, continuing to pray, and snatched his cell phone clipped to his jeans. He’d call the sheriff. Connor. They’d find Danita. He’d even call Edgar and Clayton and have them comb the area. Whoever took her couldn’t have gotten far.

Riley stopped in tracks, and his breath hitched in his throat. He drank in the beautiful sight.

Danita laid on the pew, knees curled, one hand pillowing her head. Her shoulders rose and fell with her soft breaths. The mass of curls trickled past her shoulder and down her neck, puddling into the nook created by her other arm.

“Thank you, Lord,” Riley whispered.

She looked so vulnerable and breakable. He brushed a lock of hair from her forehead. A light purple bruise marred her skin. Rage swept through him. He clenched his fists. He wanted — needed — to find the man responsible for causing her pain.

Danita sighed and stretched out.

He focused on her slightly parted lips. Her mouth drew him. A beacon begging Riley to drop to his knee and placed a tender kiss on them. Riley drew back, and averted his gaze. Even asleep, the woman was a temptress.

The front door to the church opened. Every muscle in Riley’s body tensed. He moved to Danita, squatting down, readying to snatch her against him if the person intended to harm her.

“Pastor Coole, is everything all right?” Naomi struggled with a large picnic basket and watched him.


If you’d like to read Danita and Riley’s story, Led Astray is available at:



Barnes and Noble

Available in print this spring.

Books · Excerpt

Celebrating Valentine’s Day: Romance Scene from Lost Then Found


In celebration of Valentine’s Day, I’ll be posting a romance scene from each of books today and over the weekend. I’m starting with the first book published in the New Beginnings Series.

Lost Then Found:

The hope of a future for the broken begins in Mourning.

Skip-tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life plan changed upon her sister’s murder. Instead of using her skills to find people, Renee opened New Beginnings a firm specializing in “vanishing” abused women. Now her ex-husband -and former business partner – Jonas Knight reenters her life asking about her most vulnerable client.

Jonas knows his ex-wife helped embezzler Gina Howard elude the authorities and intends to bring the young woman to justice. When Renee is threatened, Jonas grows suspicious of his client’s reason for finding his niece.

In order to uncover the secret a teenager girl disappeared to keep, and a killer wants silenced, Jonas and Renee must struggle through distrust and the pain of their pasts to work together to save the life of teenage girl – and their own.


Renee threw the door open. Jonas snapped his phone shut and started toward her. She held her hand out, stopping his approach. “I know Alex harassed you into this promise. You go home and get some sleep. I’ll get a car and head out.”

Jonas closed the distance between them. “Don’t be obstinate. You have a car and a driver at your disposal, try being grateful for a change. And for the record, your baby brother asked and I agreed because I wanted to.”

“I don’t need your help.” She glared at him.

“Understand that Alex…” He stressed her brother’s name. “…needs me to help you. The kid couldn’t live with himself if anything happened to you. He’d blame himself.”

Tension and memories thickened the air around them, the unsaid filling the small space between them. Tears blurred her vision. No, she didn’t want Alex to carry around the weight of such a burden. She and Jonas — their marriage — crumbled under the pressure of their shared and individual guilt of what happened to Melody. She wouldn’t force the same consequence onto her brother because of her distrust. With God in her life, she could work with anyone. Including Jonas. She’d figure out a way to help Glory and keep Priscilla off the grid.

Wrapping an arm around her shoulders, Jonas frowned as his gaze scanned the parking lot. Renee tried to step away but he tightened his grip.

“Come closer.” Jonas’ jaw appeared chiseled in granite and even the smallest trace of blue disappeared from his gray eyes. His gaze locked onto an object and watched it, the storm in his eyes deepened as he leaned forward.

Renee shifted backwards to put distance between them. “Not on your life.”

He trailed a finger down her cheek. “Remember our cases together. The diversion plan. Always worked best.”

Heat flicked at her face. She steeled herself from reacting to his familiar touch and the memories threatening to weaken her knees and resolve. The Hello Kiss. The Goodbye Kiss. The We-Found-True-Love Kiss.

“It won’t work,” Renee breathed out.

“We have to try. The guy is here.” He placed one hand behind her back, drawing her to his chest as the other hand stroked her cheek. Tenderness seeped into his gaze. “Forgive me,” he whispered and closed the distance between them.

His lips touched hers, the pressure light and feathering, gentler than Renee remembered. The tender caress on her cheek beckoned her closer, as did his arm cradling her back. The familiar touch sent her senses reeling and pleasant memories drifted into her mind. On their own accord, her lids drifted closed and she melted into his embrace.

The reaction shook her. Jonas was no longer hers. She was no longer his. This wasn’t a real kiss. This was breaking her heart. Tears pooled in her eyes and she placed her hands on his shoulders, planning to push him away. Her arms betrayed her and snaked around the back of his neck, fingers threading into the strands of hair curled at his nape.

The pressure of the kiss increased and Renee welcomed it. She wanted to remember what it had been like to have a claim to this man’s love. The temptation to cave into the longing grew. Pressing closer, she surrendered to the embrace and sought the comforting and enticing beat of his heart. The heat intensified between them.

She had to end the moment. Now. Renee flattened her hands against his shoulders.

Jonas pulled back. “It’s all right. He left.”

She was a fool. The kiss hadn’t affected him at all. Turning, she swiped at the hot tears trickling down her face. “Don’t ever do that again.”

If you’d like to read Renee and Jonas’ story, Lost Then Found is available at:


Barnes and Noble


Available in print this spring.

Books · Craft · Excerpt · West Virginia · Writing

Long Gone, New Beginnings Book 4, Now Out

LongGoneCoverArt72dpiLong Gone has been the toughest of this series to write as I wanted to fight the book every step of the way. There were two elements of the plot that needed to be in the book but I was uncertain of how readers would react to them … and frankly I was scared to write them as I didn’t know if I could do the issue/situation justice. I am very proud of this book (not that I’m not proud of the others). I know I stretched myself in this book and conquered so my fears and insecurities in doing so. Long Gone, more than the other books I wrote in this series, developed naturally on its own. I had to be willing to pull back from controlling the story and allow it to come as it needed to. This book ended up being what writers term “a book of the heart” when it was completed. I had no idea the impact it would have on me or the emotions it would bring up until I was done writing it.

I went into writing this book “knowing” the story. I knew the hero, heroine, the plot and the main conflict between them … until the story twisted in a way I hadn’t planned on and really hadn’t wanted. But, I did what the story needed and discovered I didn’t  know the real story needing to be told, the heart of this book, until the very end.


Eve Darling won’t allow a repeat of the past. Eight years ago, her boyfriend convinced her to place their baby for adoption with his older brother. Once the adoption was finalized, the ‘love of her life’ abandoned her. When the brother announces his intent to run for governor…and adopt a new child…Eve decides to reveal the man behind the public facade. When no one believes the story, Eve turns to skip-tracer Alexander Stratford to unearth the truth, and stop another woman from being used by the Fallows.

Alex is stunned when Eve Darling shows up and requests help. The woman who once accused him of murder now accuses another man. Alex refuses to be used to damage another person. When Eve is attacked, Alex rushes to her aid– and a quick decision alters lives forever. Can anyone ever truly love him…when he can’t like the man he’s become?


“You’re a menace.” He lifted up the visor and glared at her.

She shot one right back. “I wanted to talk to you. It wasn’t my fault you were speeding.”

“I wasn’t–” Forget it. If one thing he knew about Eve Darling it was no person on the face of the Earth could talk sense into the woman. She lived in a world where only her goals and herself matter. Heck with everyone else. “Go about your business. I’m fine.”

Alex limped toward his motorcycle. Pain arced up his leg with each step. He should stop but didn’t want to show weakness in front of anyone — especially Eve. The woman had set out to destroy him once and her reappearance in his life meant she was gearing up for round two.

Eve placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Are you sure you should?”

“Ignore you? Yes.”

“Move. You look kind of rough.” Eve pointed at his arm then his legs.

A tear ran down the length of the arm of his leather jacket. At least it protected his hide for the most part. Patches of skin were torn off his legs, the left leg bearing the worst injury. Blood ran down his knee, staining his jeans and his running shoes.

“Let me help.”

“You’ve helped enough.” Alex struggled to get the Night Rod righted as pain coursed down his arm.

“Please, I need to talk to you.” Eve sighed and fixed her deep brown eyes on him, sadness mixed with a little excitement lurked in the depths.

Alex wanted no knowledge of the thoughts running through her conniving mind. “I’d rather you didn’t.”

“I need your help, Alex.” She glanced over her shoulder then stepped closer to him. Her lilac perfume weaved around him. The delicate scent was such a strong contrast to the abrasive woman. Alex felt a little tug in his heart. The same twinge he always got when he allowed the protective urge to override common sense. Not this time.

“No way.” Alex stepped away from her and the enticing scent.

“I’m serious. There’s a woman in trouble. A lot of trouble and she needs help.”

“Go to the police.”

“I tried. They don’t believe me.”

After what happened — what she did — when they first met, she expected him to help her? Was Eve Darling out of her mind or think he was a total idiot? Or a glutton for pain and punishment. Okay, he already knew the answer to the first question. The woman expected him to help her after she caused a wreck, and had accused him of being a murderer a little over a year ago. Not a chance. He wasn’t as stupid as she thought.

Books · Craft · Scrapbooking · Writing

Project Life – Mystery Writer Style

Writing a book and having it published was a dream of mine since I was in the ninth grade. It has come true a couple of times. There was also a year or two in my journey where I wondered if I’d give it a try again.  (I had a slight hiatus between books … won’t go into that long story.) I’ve been in love with books as far as I can remember and love the industry as a whole. And as how it can happen with love, there are rough spots and sometimes it can be unrequited.

Like my heroine Faith in the Scrap This Mystery Series, my mind has a tendency to remember the downs and gloss over the ups. I think it’s because I don’t want to repeat mistakes so my mind keeps those in an easy to find file in my brain. It’s good … then again it’s not where you’re in a business where a daily roller-coaster ride is pretty much a given.

I had started a scrapbook to journey my writing career years ago but have allowed it to become stuck in the mid-2000s. I took a look at it and realized that I was doing a lot of showing of events and not enough telling of the journey and process. I missed showing the “business/book” milestones along the way. It’s like I was afraid to brag in my own book. I want this scrapbook to be not only a way for my children and grandchildren to know who I am and what I do, but also as a reminder for myself during those times when I’m on the stomach-dropping down portion of the ride in the wonderful, unpredictable world of publishing.

PL Cropped to Death for Blog 075 PL Amazon Cropped for BlogFor a few months, I’ve been intrigued with the Project Life style of scrapbooking. I prefer doing layouts the “traditional” way for trips and family pages but thought it be perfect for documenting my writing. It gives me enough space to tell the stories, and by doing it in a 8 1/2 x 11 inch size, could double as a resume/calling card.

I worked on a few pages last week and love how they turned out. Now, I plan on going back and “Project Lifeing” my other books and my journey as a mystery and suspense writer.

(My son had tons of storage pages for his baseball cards and let me have a few of them. For the second page, I “broke” some of the seals so I could have some large spaces to work with.)

Books · Holiday · Writing

The Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour — Christina Freeburn

Thank you for joining me on the next stop of The Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards which has the goal of expanding the tent pegs of Christian literature. This tour features scores of talented Christian fiction writers.

Today, I’m introducing you to my Inspirational Romantic Suspense Series, New Beginnings, which features heroines and heroes who are determined to help women have a new start at life.

The first book, I’d like to talk about is Safe and Sound, the third book in the series, but one that has a Christmas time setting.

SafeandSoundCoverArt72dpi Safe and Sound, the third book in the New Beginning Series, is a contemporary Christian romantic suspense novel. It’s a sweet romance with some blushing moments. There is some mild violence and sophisticated themes.

Four years prior, Hannah Stratford got lost during a blizzard and the mountain claimed her, leaving her husband Connor Stratford grief-stricken and filled with guilt. When a woman’s body was discovered after an explosion, Connor learned her death wasn’t accidental but a probable murder. Now, one of the men responsible  for Hannah’s death is hunting down another woman. To keep the young woman safe and draw the murderer to him, Connor offers her safety and shelter in his home.

When the woman claims to be his wife Hannah, Connor finds his past and present pulled apart. Is this woman who she claims she is…or is she running a scam with the man who murdered his wife?

What makes Safe and Sound perfect for Christmas reading and gifting?

With a Christmas setting and a theme of forgiveness and love, Safe and Sound reflects the spirit of the Christmas season and also the hope of renewal.

Link to Buy: Safe and Sound

Even though Safe and Sound is the third book in the series, it doesn’t need to be read after the first two books in the series. Each book stands alone and features a new couple, one (or two) of the characters introduced in another book. Since some readers do like reading books in order, I’m including information about Lost Then Found and Led Astray below.

LostThenFoundCoverArt72dpiLost Then Found, Book 1 in the New Beginning Series, is a contemporary Christian Romantic Novel. It’s a sweet romance with some blushing moments. There is some mild violence and sophisticated themes.

Skip-tracer Renee Stratford-Knight’s life is becoming stable again. Eighteen months prior, the murder of her sister and the soon-to-follow collapse of her marriage left her reeling. She made it through those dark days with the help of family, embracing faith and starting her own skip-tracing business, New Beginnings, which specializes in relocating abused women. Now, her ex-husband — and former business partner — Jonas Knight shows up asking about her most
vulnerable client.

Jonas knows his ex-wife helped embezzler Gina Howard elude the authorities and plans to bring the young woman to justice. When Renee is threatened, Jonas grows suspicious of his client’s reason for finding his niece. In order to uncover the secrets their clients hold, Jonas and Renee must struggle through distrust and the pain of their pasts to work together to save the life of a teenage girl — and their own.

Link to buy: Lost Then Found

LedAstrayCoverArt72dpiLed Astray, the second book in the New Beginning Series, is a contemporary Christian romantic suspense novel. It’s a sweet romance with some mild violence and sophisticated themes.

When a client’s privacy is threatened by a Hatfield and McCoy battle erupting, skip-tracer Danita Ballinger heads to Mourning, WV, hoping to settle the feud before it starts. Danita’s rescuing is seen as interference and improper by Pastor Riley Coole, the target for the mining company’s strong-arm tactics.

Pastor Riley Coole isn’t pleased by the person his uncle hired to ‘help’ the town. The outspoken, brazen young woman isn’t who they need. Riley prefers the calm approach to dealing with the mining company not a fight fire-with-fire plan.

When a murderer targets the key players in the mining war, and retaliation is set into motion, Danita and Riley must put aside their private battle to protect the people relying on them for safety. Will seeing each other in a new light put them on a path of acceptance and true love, or create a further divide ripping apart the town and their own hearts?

Link to buy: Led Astray

Thank you so much for stopping by and ‘visiting’ with me and learning more about these stories which are ‘books of my heart’. These are still I felt compelled to write, as they wouldn’t leave my mind or heart until I got into the computer.

The Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour runs through to December 22nd. Don’t forget to check out all the other authors on the tour. Below is a link telling you who all the authors on the tour are and what dates they will be on their own blog sharing about their novels.

Books · Excerpt · West Virginia · Writing

Release Day: Safe and Sound

Today is the release day for Safe and Sound, book 3 in the New Beginning Series. The plot for this book actually came to me midway through book two, Led Astray, and resulted in having to go back and make sure these two storylines blended together. Safe and Sound isn’t a ‘part 2’ to Led Astray, but actions in Led Astray is what ‘started’ the story for Safe and Sound. I like how the plotlines feed off each other. I’m also excited about this book because it’s my Christmas setting story. I always wanted to write one and using a holiday setting worked for this story. It’s not exactly a Christmas story but the holidays gave it the mood I wanted.


Four years prior, Hannah Stratford got lost during a blizzard and the mountain claimed her, leaving her husband Connor Stratford grief-stricken and filled with guilt. When a woman’s body was discovered after an explosion, Connor learned her death wasn’t accidental but a probable murder. Now, one of the men responsible for Hannah’s death is hunting down another woman. To keep the young woman safe and draw the murderer to him, Connor offers her safety and shelter in his home. When the woman claims to be his wife Hannah, Connor finds his past and present pulled apart. Is this woman who she claims she is…or is she running a scam with the man who murdered his wife?


Katrina fled down the small hallway leading to the back door. She slammed her hand onto the bar and the door shot open. Run. Don’t look back. The pace of the words matched her heartbeat and she sprinted down the sidewalk.

Footfalls sounded behind her.

She pushed past people. Knocked into a young mother.

“What’s your problem, lady?”

I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Katrina ran. She couldn’t waste her breaths on words. She had a few precious moments, one last time to outrun the past coming back to claim her. She scanned the area for a place to hide or seek help.

Across the street was an alley leading to the fire station. Safety. Katrina surged forward. A horn blared. Brakes squealed. She pivoted away from the car and leapt onto the sidewalk.

A twinge in her ankle sent her reeling forward. She grasped onto a parking meter and regained her balance. Ignoring the pain in her foot, she pounded down the sidewalk and made it to the opening of the alley.

Darkness surrounded her. She fought the instinct to stop instead of plunging into the damp, musty pathway. She was too close to change plans now. This was her one way to freedom and hope. A hand bit into her shoulder. She screamed and twisted. Her injured foot slid on something slick. The man tightened his grasp. He lifted her and pushed her against the building.

“You made this so easy.” He pressed into her back, his body holding her against the brick.

Katrina stomped on his foot and jabbed her elbow into his stomach. He sucked in a breath but the pressure against her didn’t decrease. A hand inched down her stomach and rested at the waistband of her jeans.

“How should I make this look? An assault? Robbery gone bad.” He twisted her arm behind her back. “Let’s just go with dumping you in the middle of nowhere. Don’t have to worry about anyone looking for you. You’re already dead.”

Books · Heroine Interviews · Writing

SRP Heroine Interview Merry Anna Dougal from Charming Champion

Today on my blog, I’m going to talk with Merry Anna Dougal, the heroine from Charming Champion.

1. Please tell us a little bit about what is going on in your life?

When an irrepressible animal activist and an animal cruelty investigator meet at rifle   point in the New Mexico woodlands and disagree on how to proceed, sparks fly. To pragmatic Grady McGrath, animal activist Merry Anna Dougal is trouble.

The former bodybuilder champion can’t wait to get the free-spirited woman out of his life, but first he needs to protect her until he apprehends the mysterious shooter whose rifle sights are centered upon her. What the handsome bachelor hasn’t counted on is becoming a target in turn when love shatters the sanctuary of his heart.

Each has their own agenda. Merry Anna, a biological researcher on sabbatical, rescues woodlands animals, and McGrath works to apprehend the mysterious shooter, following a trail complicated by a dead man, a poacher, and a ring of pet kidnappers.

2. What made you want your story to be told?

There are so many of God’s wonderful creatures out there needing human assistance, and I want to help rescue them, but McGrath’s interference, which he calls protecting me, definitely puts a damper on my planned activities.

3. What led you to make the changes you did in your life?

Screaming may work well once, and I learned to scream very well, but I discovered applying logic does a better long-term job when a man like McGrath is concerned.

4. In your life, what has empowered you?

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again to rescue an animal in need. Have you ever tried to catch an injured fox, injured making a dash for freedom? They are so slippery and fast and the woodlands brush provides innumerable shelters for them to hide in.

5. What are strengths and weaknesses?

My strength of having learned as a child to fight for animals is additionally my weakness, because I go about it the wrong way, alienating folks with my unreasonable demands instead of persuading them to stand by my side on issues regarding animals.

6. Describe being a self-rescue Princess (a strong, confidant woman) means to you.

When life tosses you a lemon, it is time to make lemonade. When McGrath interferes with my objective of saving animals in need, I get around his objections with persistence, and when necessary, as a last resort, by ignoring him and marching on to do my own thing.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Change can be a tool to use to build new strength. But change doesn’t happen instantly. Like everything else, I had to work at it.

8. Favorite quote or Bible verse –

“For God so loved the world…” John 3:16

9. If your story had a theme song, what would it be?

“You Are My Sunshine,” composed by Jimmie Davis and Charles Mitchell…the line of the song that says “please don’t take my sunshine away” perfectly describes my feelings when I think Grady McGrath is going to send me home away from him.

10. Will you be continuing your story in written form?

I reserve the right to change my muse on this one. My friends have a tendency to tell and/or extend their own stories regardless of what I think.

11. Is there anyone in your life (friend, family member) who will be sharing their life?

Perhaps. I met a veterinarian tech named Aileen Simons. I later learned she wants to follow up on a desire to rescue horses.