Saturday, September 24, 2016

Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney (review)

Once a Soldier
by Mary Jo Putney

Amazon link

My review:

4.5 out of 5 stars
Once a Soldier by Mary Jo Putney is the first book in the ‘Rogues Redeemed’ series and centers around Will Masterson, a man caught in the vicious events of war, who makes a pact with an eclectic group of fellow prisoners that changes his attitude toward life. A chance assignment to accompany a group of soldiers to their tiny country of San Gabriel allows him to encounter the remarkable Athena Markham, who has been pivotal in helping Princess Sofia, the ruler of San Gabriel, defend the beleaguered country. Romances bloom amid the uncertainties of battle despite the apparent unsuitability of the connections. Some fights are well worth the prize, and Will and his friend Justin are determined to be victorious…no matter how great the odds against them.

This historical romance features my favorite kind of lead characters…capable ones who are not defined by gender. I love that Athena is comfortable defending herself, decisive, and intrepid, and the action and adventure that permeate this tale kept me enthralled from beginning to end. The eventful introduction of Will Masterson and his life-changing interlude with fellow prisoners slated for a horrible fate was a nice way to introduce the series and give a thumbnail sketch of the characters who undoubtedly will each have a time in the spotlight. 

I really enjoyed the pragmatic nature of the characters in this story, who see things that need to be done and find a way to do them. The primary and secondary romances distract a little from each other and I thought the one was settled a little too pat, but I enjoyed watching the evolution of the relationships and the struggle between following society’s dictates and the desire to accede to the heart’s wishes. I was entertained that both hero and heroine were larger than life (literally as well as figuratively) and I appreciate that the negatives of war and its impact on the commoners who are eking out a living were aptly portrayed. This was a great introduction to a new series, and although I thought some threads were tied up a little too easily, I still thought this was an entertaining story and I look forward to reading about the other rogues.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review, a version of which was submitted to Night Owl Reviews


Friday, September 23, 2016

Branded by Candace Havens (spotllight and excerpt) NEW ADULT title

 Candace Havens
New Adult title

Release Date: September 19, 2016
Genre: New Adult
I have my hands full taking care of my little sister and covering for my uncle as ranch foreman. The last thing I need is a Texas princess like Callie Llewellyn getting up in my business and messing with my head.

All I can think of is getting up close and personal with those curves of hers. And being on the edge of discovery makes our quick-and-dirty encounters twice as hot. And that’s all they are—quick and dirty—there’s nothing deeper going on here.
There’s only one rule to keeping my job and a roof over my sister’s head: stay away from the boss’s granddaughter. But I’m not always great at following the rules.


Damn. She was beautiful. I hadn’t expected that. When she’d fallen against me, her body had been soft in all the right places. And that strawberry smell from her hair was fucking sweet, and those tits...they were real. A lot of the women around town had fake ones. But I’d always been fond of the natural kind, no matter the size.
She sat there next to me on the golf cart as we made the long drive back to the house, and all I could think about was what it would be like to be skin to skin with her.
My uncle had told me two things when I took over as temporary ranch foreman for him. The first was not to fuck around with the boss’s granddaughter. The second was if I even looked at Callie Llewellyn cross-eyed, I’d get my ass kicked. That was a joke, since he’d been in the hospital at the time and was still in recovery from his leg being crushed by a tractor. Now, if that had been my dad, the joke would have
been a threat, one he would follow up on. I had the fucking scars to prove it.
I was here to do a job, to help my uncle, and take care of my sister. That meant leaving the princess alone. And that was okay, since I wasn’t much for relationships or anything much more than one-night stands. I had a list of women in Amarillo I’d never call back on my phone. Someday, I’d get around to deleting them. Anything more than once and they tended to get clingy.
She might think I’m an asshole, but I answered to her grandfather, not her. Best to keep my distance. Her grandparents had been talking about her arrival for weeks, like it was the second coming of Christ.
“I can’t wait for you to meet her,” Mrs. Llewellyn had said. “She’s a sweetheart and absolutely brilliant. Someday, she’ll take over the empire. We’ve been grooming her since she was a babe.”
I couldn’t imagine being groomed for anything. My sister and I grew up hard. We lived day to day. Things were good right now, but one wrong move, and we’d be out on the streets.
No way would I jeopardize my family’s future for a piece of ass, didn’t matter how fucking hot it was.

Author Bio: Bestselling author Candace Havens has published more than 25 books. Her novels have received nominations for the RITA's, Holt Medallion, Write Touch Reader Awards and National Readers Choice Awards. She is a Barbara Wilson Award winner. She is the author of the biography “Joss Whedon: The Genius Behind Buffy” and a contributor to several anthologies. She is also one of the nation's leading entertainment journalists and has interviewed countless celebrities from George Clooney to Chris Pratt. Her entertainment columns are syndicated by FYI Television, Inc.

Candace also runs a free online writing workshop for more than 2000 writers, and teaches comprehensive writing classes. She does film reviews with Hawkeye in the Morning on 96.3 KSCS, and is a former President of the Television Critics Association.

Author Email
Author Website
Author Blog
Author Twitter: @candacehavens
Author Facebook
Author Goodreads
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Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Chevalier by Philippa Lodge (VBB, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Philippa Lodge


GENRE: Historical Romance



Emmanuel, Chevalier de Cantière, youngest son of a baron, is happiest raising horses far from his complicated family. When news comes his mother is deathly ill, he races to her side only to find she has apparently recovered and moved on, leaving behind her companion, Catherine.

Catherine de Fouet blends into the background, saving up so she’ll never have to wait on waspish, scheming old ladies like the baronesse again. She has no interest in a resentful gentleman, estranged from his mother, no matter how broad his shoulders or intriguing the wounded soul behind his handsome face. She just needs someone to escort her back to Versailles.

But Catherine is suspected of poisoning the baronesse. She rebuffs a pushy courtier who tries to use blackmail to make her his mistress, and her reputation hangs by a thread.

The chevalier wants more than anything to protect this woman whose prickly exterior hides sweetness and passion. They need his family to help him through court intrigues—almost as much as they need each other.




She shook her head slightly.

He walked to her, but she turned her face from him. “Catherine?” he said, his voice softer. His heart clenched. “Are you ill?”

She shook her head and lifted her handkerchief to her face with a trembling hand.

He knelt beside her and took her free hand. She froze. He pressed her hand between his, wanting to kiss it, but not sure she would allow it. “Was it d’Oronte?”

She sniffed. “Yes. No.”

“What did he do?” Manu released her hand. “I will call him out.”

“No!” She finally looked at him, her eyes red-rimmed and her face pale but her usual glare in place.

She sniffed and looked down at her hands.

“What can I do?”


Frustrated, he stood and threw his hands up. “I will kill him.”

“You will not.”

“What did he do?”

“You are not my father. Or my brother. Or even my cousin.”

“I’m not your husband or lover, either, but I won’t let that idiot do anything to you.”

She stared at him for several tense seconds, her surprise overwhelming her other emotions. Her expression crumpled, and she covered her eyes with her handkerchief.

He went back down on one knee and took her hand again.

Links in the US

The Wild Rose Press
Barnes & Noble

Outside the US:

Amazon CA
Amazon UK
Amazon FR
Amazon DE
Amazon AU


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Philippa Lodge has a hundred stories in her head and a social media addiction. She writes historical romance set in Louis XIV’s France (sometimes with the king himself!); New Adult romantic women’s fiction-type stories set in small-town, small-college, modern America; and contemporary romance with nerdy beta heroes and cranky heroines whose pasts can be healed with the love of a good man. She lives with one husband, two cats, and three kids in the inland valley of California.



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The tour dates can be found here

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

In the Line of Duty by Carolyn Arnold (excerpt, review and GIVEAWAY) GFT

In the Line of Duty

by Carolyn Arnold


GENRE: Mystery



Her fellow officer has made the ultimate sacrifice, and Detective Madison Knight may have to lay it all on the line to bring his killer to justice. But with leads pointing in several directions, she has to narrow them down—and quickly—if she’s going to solve the case before anyone else gets hurt, including herself.


He devoted his life to seeking justice. But would she get any for him?

It was an ordinary day for police officer Barry Weir. It was the end of shift, he was tired, and he just wanted to get home to his wife and kids. But someone had other plans for him—shooting him down and forcing him to make the ultimate sacrifice.

When news of Weir’s murder reaches the precinct, it leaves Detective Madison Knight and every cop in the Stiles PD itching for revenge. It cuts Madison’s boyfriend, colleague, and Weir’s childhood friend, Troy Matthews, deepest of all, driving him away from everyone he loves, just when they need one another the most.

With evidence pointing to a gang-related drive-by, Madison and her team investigate the town’s seedy underbelly in search of justice for their fallen brother. But the deeper they dig, the more convoluted the case becomes. Now they need to figure out if this was a random shooting as part of a gang initiation, a straight-up hate crime, or a targeted kill. But with the Stiles PD under attack, they have to do it fast…before more people pay with their lives.


EXCERPT from Chapter 3:

In the hallway, Troy leaned against a wall and waited as the ringtone drilled into his ear.

Answer the damn phone…

“You’ve reached the voice mail for Chief Fletcher…”

He hung up and redialed. She should be back from her vacation by now. What time had she said her flight was getting in?

Someone picked up on the other end of the line. “Chief Fletcher here.” She sounded groggy, as if he’d woken her up.

“Where are you?” he rushed out.

“Hotel near the airport. We just got in. What’s going on?”

“Something has happened.” The words came out soft-spoken and dry.

“That doesn’t sound good.” He could imagine his sister sitting up in bed and turning on the light on her night table.

“It’s Barry…” His throat constricted. This would be his first time verbalizing what had happened.

His sister’s voice was gentle and caring. “What about Barry?”

“He’s dead.” He delivered the news directly, unable to water it down no matter how much it hurt.

“What? How?” she asked, her tone switching quickly to one of shock.

“He was shot this morning while on duty.” He got through telling her the basics, the facts draining so much from him.

“Wake up, Robert,” his sister said distantly. He heard his brother-in-law moan in the background.

“We’re leaving now. I’ll be in as soon as possible. Has there been a briefing yet?”

“In ten minutes.”

“Has the shooter been caught?”

At his sister’s question, his insides pulsed with adrenaline and determination. No matter what it took from him, he would find Barry’s killer.

“Troy? Has the shooter been caught?” she repeated, a subtle beep in the background of the line.

“Not yet.”

Another beep. “Someone’s calling. I better let you go.” Her voice was withdrawn, and Troy imagined her pulling her phone out to consult the caller ID. “It’s Winston. See you soon.” His sister hung up before he could say anything else. He put his phone away, the ache in his chest now almost unbearable.

Buy links


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

CAROLYN ARNOLD is an international best-selling and award-winning author, as well as a speaker, teacher, and inspirational mentor. She has four continuing fiction series—Detective Madison Knight, Brandon Fisher FBI, McKinley Mysteries, and Matthew Connor Adventures—and has written nearly thirty books. Her genre diversity offers her readers everything from cozy to hard-boiled mysteries, and thrillers to action adventures.

Both her female detective and FBI profiler series have been praised by those in law enforcement as being accurate and entertaining, leading her to adopt the trademark: POLICE PROCEDURALS RESPECTED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT™.

Carolyn was born in a small town and enjoys spending time outdoors, but she also loves the lights of a big city. Grounded by her roots and lifted by her dreams, her overactive imagination insists that she tell her stories. Her intention is to touch the hearts of millions with her books, to entertain, inspire, and empower.

She currently lives just west of Toronto with her husband and beagle and is a member of Crime Writers of Canada.

Connect with CAROLYN ARNOLD Online:

And don’t forget to sign up for her newsletter for up-to-date information on release and special offers.



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The tour dates can be found here


My review:

4 stars

In the Line of Duty by Carolyn Arnold is part of the ‘Detective Madison Knight’ series.

Searching for the reasons why fellow officer Barry Weir was gunned down, the entire force is reeling but Officer Troy Matthews’ rejection of his lover, Detective Madison Knight, adds another layer to the pain and disbelief they both share. Investigating the heinous crimes leads Madison to examine her personal life and to reassess what is important, but will her revelations be too late?

This is a sobering and intriguing look at an investigation that is all too pertinent to officers who risk their lives every day. This was an up-close and authentic-feeling look at the process of dealing with the fatality of a fellow officer and the impact that reverberates through the entire team. The exhaustion and negative emotions that must be dealt with are vividly portrayed, as is the painstaking effort that goes into an investigation. At times it seemed that events were proceeding very ponderously but ultimately the exciting climax provided both revelations and a satisfying conclusion. I think this story will be appreciated by those who would like an in-depth look at the workings of a police force as well as those who enjoy an urban mystery.

A copy of this title was provided to me for review

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The General's Wife by Sara R. Turnquist (VBT, guest post, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

I have the pleasure of sharing a guest post by author Sara R. Turnquist, who shares...

by Sara R. Turnquist

I am currently working on the sequel to my debut novel, The Lady Bornekova. In fact, I am away on a long weekend to get some serious work done on the manuscript. A place where I am free from my normal distractions of life. And I am LOVING it. But this book is requiring a LOT of research. I may be the odd ball, or maybe I'm like every other Historical Fiction writer, I have a love-hate relationship with research. Here's why:

The Learning. You learn so many cool things when you research. Plot lines, story lines, and interesting characters come to light when you do your research. Believe me, truth is stranger than fiction sometimes (and can be far more interesting). ESPECIALLY when these interesting tidbits are woven into fiction. Then you've got the potential for something amazing!
The Depth of Knowledge. One of the things that most Historical Fiction writers who really know how to research well (I do not count myself among them - I'm still new at this, I'm just sharing my knowledge), will encourage you to look for books on your subject. (As opposed to simply research for that one tidbit of information that you need.) Why? Because you don't know what you don't know. What do I mean by that? Well, there are those interesting twists, plots, and characters that you may not know about that happened/existed during that time period that would be pure gold in your story that you wouldn't think to look up. And you'll never know about them unless you read up about that time period or subject.
The Bunny Trails. Piggybacking on my previous point, bunny trails can lead you to a gold mine of information if you are prudent with your time and focus. Otherwise, they can be a time drain.
The Time Drain. Right now I would just love to sit down and crank out this book, but that's not possible. There is a lot of research between me and the end of this manuscript: research I did beforehand and research I’m doing as I'm writing. This is not a negative thing. Research sparks your storyline, but as you write, it can spark a direction to your research as well. But, no matter how you slice it, research takes time and effort. And it's time and effort I would rather put into writing most of the time.
The Bunny Trails. I know what you're thinking. "Hey, that's not right! You put this in both categories!" That's because it belongs in both categories. Remember how I said bunny trails could be a time drain? They can be. And they can lead you nowhere. That's the down side.
Sometimes...and I'm just going to say can be boring. Can't believe I said it, can you? Don't get me wrong. I LOVE history. And I love learning new things. But I am not one for learning more about the nuances of battles and war. Well, this sequel takes place during the first part of the Hussite WARS. So, guess what I'm doing a ton of research on? You got it - battles, war, and the like. Not the most interesting thing I've ever researched. But there are gems to be found. The fact that this misfit army made up of farmers and working class laborers overcame such odds against well-trained armies. Amazing. And it really happened.


The General's Wife

by Sara R. Turnquist


GENRE: Historical Romance



“Go home!” Ismene is speechless as she reads those words written in blood on the walls of her new home. The young, raven-haired Grecian beauty had traveled all the way from her homeland to marry the Pharaoh’s top general. But she never expected this. The hatred of the Alexandrian mob for their Greek rulers is right in front of her. It is the first of many threats she will receive.

Things are escalating out of control. Damaged crops and horses turned loose at night are one thing. But when Ismene receives a death threat, it becomes clear that there is a spy within her own household. She would turn to her husband to deal with this issue, except he left for battle by order of the Pharaoh. Not knowing whom to trust, she fears for her safety as well as the entire ruling class of Egypt.



Once they were alone, he gathered Ismene into his arms. “Love, are you truly all right?”

“I am.” She sighed, closing her eyes and just breathing in the scent of him. “Now.”

He kissed the top of her head and rubbed her back. When he closed his eyes he could still see the scene that he had come upon when he had found her on the balcony, and his blood ran hot. He forced his mind back to the present.

“I have a surprise for you.”


“I thought I might read to you.”

“Oh?” She pulled back to look into his face. “That is a pleasant surprise. I think, sir, that you have found my weakness.”

“I think you know mine too, milady.” He said, drawing her in for an intimate kiss.

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Sara is originally from middle TN. After a short stint in Memphis, where she earned a degree in Biology and began a career as both a Zoo Educator and a Sleep Technician, she then followed a dream to work for a large zoo in Orlando, FL as an Educator. Once she and her husband started their family, they moved back to Tennessee. Sara and her husband now enjoy a full life with their three beautiful and very active children. Sara enjoys many creative outlets – singing, piano, drawing, drama, and organizing anything. And even though she has enjoyed her career as a Zoo Educator, Sara's great love of the written word continued to draw her to write. She has always been an avid reader and, for many years, has been what she terms a “closet writer”. Her travels and love of history have served to inspire her to write Historical Fiction. Sara has made several trips overseas to the Czech Republic. Her time among the Czech people and the landscapes of the country inspired her and greatly influenced her work on her debut novel, The Lady Bornekova, set in Hradec Kralove, Czech Republic. Sara is also a member of the ACFW.

How to reach me:

Twitter: @sarat1701
Facebook: Sara R. Turnquist, Author -



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Monday, September 19, 2016

No Known Address by Jo A. Hiestand (spotlight, excerpt, review and GIVEAWAY) GFT

by Jo A Hiestand


GENRE: British mystery



The man seemed not to hear the continuous whine of the phone receiver lying on his lap. He sat upright, stiff-backed, in a wooden kitchen chair that, like the house, had seen better days. As he had also seen better days, he reminded himself, glancing at the calendar on the wall. A date circled in black ink smirked at him, the remaining days of the month X-ed out. As though he was counting down to something. But the dates were three years old.

The discrepancy didn’t bother him. He had never flipped over the rest of the months. They didn’t intrigue him; it didn’t upset him that he had stared at January for more than a thousand days. If he flipped over the page it would signal that the search needed to continue into another month. And possibly another. And another. The consequence was too terrible to comprehend.



The impact of the assault knocked the breath from his lungs, and he fell to the ground without time to brace himself. He slammed into the asphalt as his attacker grabbed his legs. McLaren shook his head, determined to remain conscious, yet the pain from his ribs washed over him. He could see nothing but the dark figure, hear nothing but the scrape of his feet as he fought to right himself, and the labored breathing of his opponent.

As his assailant reached for McLaren’s arms, McLaren seized the man’s wrist and pivoted the hand backward. A satisfying ‘crack’ shot into the night, followed by a yelp. The man released his grip of McLaren’s forearm and rolled over, taking McLaren with him. McLaren felt the man’s chest on top of him, felt the firm muscles and the warm breath against his face. Determined to gain the advantage, McLaren pulled up his strength from somewhere within him and rolled to his side while pushing the man off. McLaren grabbed the car door handle and pulled himself to his feet. But his assailant regained his balance quicker, and he lurched at McLaren. In the darkness he misjudged the distance; he recoiled off the side of the car and staggered around to its rear, his hand groping the slick metal surface for support.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Books, Girl Scouts and music filled Jo A. Hiestand’s childhood. She discovered the magic of words and the worlds they create: mysteries, English medieval history, the natural world. She explored the joys of the outdoors through Girl Scout camping trips and summers as a canoeing instructor and camp counselor. Brought up on classical, big band and baroque music, she was groomed as a concert pianist until forsaking the piano for the harpsichord. She also plays a Martin guitar and has sung in a semi-professional folkgroup in the US and as a soloist in England.

This mixture formed the foundation for her writing. A true Anglophile, Jo wanted to create a mystery series that featured a British police detective who left the Force over an injustice and now investigates cold cases on his own. The result is the McLaren Mysteries, featuring ex-police detective Michael McLaren.

Jo’s insistence for accuracy -- from police methods and location layout to the general “feel” of the area -- has driven her innumerable times to Derbyshire. These explorations and conferences with police friends provide the detail filling the books.

In 1999 Jo returned to Webster University to major in English. She graduated in 2001 with a BA degree and departmental honors.

She has employed her love of writing, board games and music in other ways by co-inventing a mystery-solving game, P.I.R.A.T.E.S., which uses maps, graphics, song lyrics, and other clues to lead the players to the lost treasure.

Jo founded the Greater St. Louis Chapter of Sisters in Crime, serving as its first president. Besides her love of mysteries and early music, she also enjoys photography, reading, crewel embroidery, and her backyard wildlife.

Her cat, Tennyson, shares her St. Louis-area home.





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The tour dates can be found here


I inadvertently signed up to review this title before realizing it is being published by The Wild Rose Press. To avoid any bashing due to my connection to the company (as an editor), I respectfully declined to review even though it sounds like a wonderfully exciting tale. I am fortunate that my fellow blogger, Crystal, from Reviews by Crystal, has graciously agreed to read and review for me.

Crystal's Review:
4 out of 5 Stars 


No Known Address is the first work I have read by  Jo A Hiestand. She has written an interesting story with plenty of twists and turns that kept me turning the pages. 

Michael McLaren is asked by his old friend to take on a cold case three years old. McLaren starts investigating the disappearance of Luke Barber and discovers all kinds of suspects that might know something. McLaren finds himself in many dangerous situations with all these people who can't quite seem to get their story straight. Luke's disappearance is a huge mystery to all involved, or so it seems. 

Jamie (McLaren's copper friend) helps with the investigation along the way. He's known the Barber family for years and just wants to help an old friend find his son. He doesn't expect McLaren to discover so many suspects or questions along the way.
I enjoyed the mystery, the suspense, and the drama. Jo Hiestand has a nice writing voice that was easy to read. This is the sixth book in the McLaren Mystery series but it stood alone just fine. I didn't feel like I was missing any information to take away from the story line. 

I liked McLaren and found his investigative techniques interesting. I have to say the ending was completely unexpected. I did not see that coming at all. I honestly thought that it was going to lead in another direction. I won't tell you what happens because I would not want to spoil the story for anyone. I will say there are going to be times you might need to reach for your Kleenex box. 

I was given the opportunity to read this book so that I may share my thoughts with you. As always it has been my great pleasure to share my thoughts with you on No Known Address


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Unintentional: North American Edition by Gabbi Grey et al. (spotlight and GIVEAWAY)

Congrats to Gabbi Grey on her first published story and to all of the authors on a great collection of stories!

Those of you on Facebook...Don't forget the celebration going on this weekend until 10 p.m. EST at this link

Their eyes had met a thousand times, their smiles always easy and honest. All it takes is that one moment for everything to change. When their eyes are opened, no longer does "just friends" seem good enough.


Amy K. McClung -Vanessa Morse - Gabbi Grey - S. Hartley
Dahlia Donovan - Lindsay Detwiler - Randi Perrin - Gen Ryan

All buy links

THE TUES-DATE - Vanessa Morse
Through the years, Adam and Tara have grown to depend on each other and share a love deeper than either is willing to admit. Roommates, best friends, unmistakable soulmates... until one day, one date everything changes.

WHERE SHE BELONGS- Lindsay Detwiler

When Emeline Jackson's life plans crumble, her best friend Brent helps her rediscover herself in their hometown. She didn't come home to find love, but a lot can change in a summer.

JUST WHAT I NEED - Randi Perrin

It started out innocent enough, one friend lending a shoulder for the other to cry on. But when Brad wakes up next to Jules the following morning, it stirs an awakening in him, and he’ll go to great lengths to prove she’s everything he needs.


When Caressa comes home from volunteering as a nurse in Africa, she knows she will reunite with her friend Michael. What she doesn't expect is just how much he missed her and how glad he is that she's finally home.

PATIENCE - S. Hartley 

Patience is more than just a song to Madison—it's what her rocker best friend has given her for years. Finally ready to be more than friends, will Cale have any left give?


Zoey makes the ultimate request of her best friend Rex. Though she never imagined the impact it would have on their relationship.

Hadley and Todd have always been there for each other, especially through their countless dead-end relationships. Will they both finally accept they are destined to be each other's always and forever?

ALL LATHERED UP - Dahlia Donovan
Vi has known her best friend, Geoff, since childhood, though growing up meant being separated by distance and decisions. Neither realizes the impact exchanging postcards will have on their growing feelings. Could it be love?