4 Stars for PAPER WIFE by Laila Ibrahim – A timely tale of what it was like to move to a new country, where you knew noone and didn’t speak the language. NEW RELEASE!!!

Title: PAPER WIFE

Author: LAILA IBRAHIM

Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION, DIVERSE FICTION, MULTICULTURAL FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION

Length: 298 PAGES

Publisher: LAKE UNION PUBLISHING

Received From: NETGALLEY

Release Date: OCTOBER 30, 2018

ISBN: 9781503904576

Price: $14.95 USD

Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

From the bestselling author of Yellow Crocus comes a heart-wrenching story about finding strength in a new world.

Southern China, 1923. Desperate to secure her future, Mei Ling’s parents arrange a marriage to a widower in California. To enter the country, she must pretend to be her husband’s first wife—a paper wife.

On the perilous voyage, Mei Ling takes an orphan girl named Siew under her wing. Dreams of a better life in America give Mei Ling the strength to endure the treacherous journey and detainment on Angel Island. But when she finally reaches San Francisco, she’s met with a surprise. Her husband, Chinn Kai Li, is a houseboy, not the successful merchant he led her to believe.

Mei Ling is penniless, pregnant, and bound to a man she doesn’t know. Her fragile marriage is tested further when she discovers that Siew will likely be forced into prostitution. Desperate to rescue Siew, she must convince her husband that an orphan’s life is worth fighting for. Can Mei Ling find a way to make a real family—even if it’s built on a paper foundation?

MY REVIEW:

With immigration currently being a hot button issue in the United States and many other countries around the world, the publication of this book could not be more timely.

Although this story begins ninety years ago in 1923, there are many alarming similarities between the discrimination faced by immigrants during that time period and the discrimination faced by those who have chosen to emigrate to the United States in modern times.

Mei Ling was happily living out her young life in China when the matchmaker arrived at the door of her parent’s home. A suitable match had been found for Mei Ling’s older sister and the wedding date was set. But, as fate would have it, her sister fell ill and her parents told Mei Ling that she would have to take her sister’s place.

This deception early in the story is only one of many deceptions and ‘white lies’ that occur throughout the book.

It is obvious that author Laila Ibrahim did her research for this book as the facts and traditions written about in this tale match perfectly with historic accounts from those who actually did leave China in hopes of a better life in the United States.

Laila Ibrahim’s writing style and subject matter reminds me of author Lisa See.

I enjoyed the story even though I found one event to be completely implausible. Despite that, the author has written a book that anyone who wonders what life might have been like for the huge wave of Asian immigrants who arrived en masse in the years following World War I will want to read.

I believe that by reading books such as PAPER WIFE, people will gain, at the very least, a small measure of empathy for people whose cultures and/or backgrounds are different from their own.

Reading stories like this one, prove to readers that people are more similar than they are different. We all want the same thing. We want a safe and comfortable place to sleep, a good education for our children, and a job that allows us to provide for our families.

In PAPER WIFE, Mei Ling was detained on Angel Island and interrogated by officials who used intimidation and threats to try to force her to change her story or to catch her in a lie. This is a true reflection of what immigrants were subjected to in 1925.

Chinese immigrants on Angel Island

Poetry carved into the walls at Angel Island

.
We need to learn from the past. If we do not learn from our mistakes, we are doomed to repeat them.

I rate PAPER WIFE as 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

*

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laila Ibrahim grew up in Whittier, California on the eastern edge of Los Angeles County, and moved to Oakland, California to attend Mills College where she studied Psychology and Child Development. After getting a Master’s Degree in Human Development, she realized she wanted to do more hands on work with children, and opened up her own preschool: Woolsey Children’s School.

Her education and experiences as an educator and parent provide ample for her writing – especially her study of Attachment Theory and multiculturalism.

She identifies as a devout Unitarian Universalist – which is sort of like being a radical moderate – and worked as the Director of Children and Family Ministries at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland for five years.

She lives in a small co-housing community in Berkeley with her wife, Rinda, a public school administrator. She the proud mother of two wonderful young adult daughters and the not-so-proud mother of a rambunctious mini-Aussies.

Laila self-published Yellow Crocus in 2011 after agents repeatedly told her that no one would want to read a story about the love between an enslaved black woman and her privileged white charge. Over the years the readers have proven them wrong. She became a full-time writer in 2015.

Living Right, her second novel, is set in 2004, but with a similar theme: loving across difference. It goes beyond the headline to reveal the life and death stakes when a devoted mother struggles to reconcile her evangelical Christian beliefs with her son’s sexual orientation.

Mustard Seed continues with the lives of the Freedman and Johnson families after the Civil War.

Paper Wife tells the story of Mei Ling, a young woman forced by social upheaval to marry a stranger and immigrate from Southern China through Angel Island to San Francisco in 1923.

To read an interview with the author click HERE.

Laila loves calling or Skyping into bookclubs and public speaking. She can be contacted at ldibrahim@gmail.com

To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

GOODREADS

FACEBOOK

AMAZON

HISTORIC PHOTOS

Photos obtained from the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation

S

OME OF THE POEMS LEFT BEHIND:

(Source: Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation)

A Few Selected Poems


獨坐稅關中,
心內起不痛。
亦因家道貧,
遠遊不近親。
兄弟來到叫,
只得上埠行。
黑鬼無道理,
唐人要掃地。
每日食兩餐,
何時轉回返。

– 辛亥年七月十二日李字題寧邑
Poem 3

Hear Poem 3 Read In Toishanese.

Translation
Sitting alone in the customs office,
How could my heart not ache?
Had my family not been poor,
I would not have traveled far away from home.
It was my elder brother who urged me
To embark on a voyage to this shore.
The black devil* here is unjust-
He forces the Chinese to clean the floor.
Two meals a day are provided,
But I wonder, when will I be homeward bound?

– Lee from Toishan District, September 4, 1911

*A pejorative to refer to those of African descent-here, presumably, an African Canadian working at the immigration station directed the detainees to sweep the floors.


妻囑情
出門求財為家窮,
把正心頭在路中。
路上野花君莫取,
為家自有係妻奴。
臨行知囑情千萬,
莫作奴言耳過風。
家中妻兒係莫掛,
勤儉二年掃祖宗。
妻兒衣裳無一件,
米盒掃來無半筒。
家中屋舍無間好,
爛溶爛揸穿爛帘。
夫係昔日都尋賭,
不念奴奴淚飄飄。
多得親兄來打稅,
莫學忘叔大恩公。

– 辛亥七月十二日到李字題寧邑
Poem 4

Hear Poem 4 Read in Toishanese.

Translation
My Wife’s Admonishment
We are poor, so you’re leaving home to seek wealth;
Keep hold of propriety while on this journey.
Never pick wildflowers along the road,*
For you have your own wife at home!
Before you depart, I admonish you a thousand times;
Don’t let my words just whistle past your ears.
Don’t worry about us, be diligent and frugal,
And two years hence return to sweep the ancestors’ tombs.
Your wife and children haven’t a thing to wear;
Not half a cup of rice can be scooped from the pot.
Our house and rooms are dilapidated;
Our housewares are worn, and the curtains torn.
In the past, you did nothing but gamble;
You never thought of me and my flowing tears.
You are fortunate your elder brother has paid the taxes-
Always remember your great debt to him!

– Lee from Toishan District, Arrived July 12, 1911

Footnotes: To engage in romantic/sexual affairs while away from home.

THE WITCH ELM by Bestselling Author TANA FRENCH Audiobook Review

Title: THE WITCH ELM

Author: TANA FRENCH

Narrator: PAUL NUGENT

Genre: FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS

Length: 22 HOURS, 8 MINUTES

Publisher: PENGUIN AUDIO

Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

Purchased from: Audible.com

Release Date: OCTOBER 9, 2018

Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

DESCRIPTION:

Toby is a happy-go-lucky charmer who’s dodged a scrape at work and is celebrating with friends when the night takes a turn that will change his life – he surprises two burglars who beat him and leave him for dead. Struggling to recover from his injuries, beginning to understand that he might never be the same man again, he takes refuge at his family’s ancestral home to care for his dying uncle Hugo. Then a skull is found in the trunk of an elm tree in the garden – and as detectives close in, Toby is forced to face the possibility that his past may not be what he has always believed.

A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.
*

MY REVIEW:

Phenomenal. Intriguing. Unconventional. Thrilling. Astonishing.

All these words and more apply to Tana French’s novel, THE WITCH ELM.

At it’s core, this book is a modern day whodunit, a thriller of epic proportions, but it is also so much more.

This book is a character study, a tale of teen angst, the story of a family rallying together in the midst of a horrific medical diagnosis. It is the story of a romance. This is a book about siblings, cousins, friends and how relationships can change over time and how they stay the same. It is also a mystery wrapped in an enigma.

This is truly a book that has everything. I enjoyed listening to it immensely. The story takes place in Ireland and having a narrator with an Irish accent gave this book a sense of place and added authenticity to the audiobook.

The story has plenty twists and turns, some which were expected and many that were not.

Tana French has created characters so realistic that you almost expect to run into one of them on the street.

At just over 22 hours of listening time, this is not a short audiobook and you would think that 22 hours would be too long, however, you would be wrong. In fact, I didn’t want this story to end. I had become invested in the character’s futures.

The Publisher has created a reader’s guide for this book which can be found and downloaded HERE.

My favorite character was Uncle Hugo. On the surface he seems like a giant bore. But as you learn more about him, you start to realize that he is like an onion with many layers, some quite shocking. He has a passion for genealogy research and was able to parlay that into a career as a Genealogist. The author is somehow able to make this career choice seem interesting to listeners and Hugo’s research into his client’s history is an interesting side storyline.

I rate THE WITCH ELM as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

I also give a 5 STAR rating to the narrator whose Irish accent offers listeners authenticity as well as a sense of place. His pacing is sheer perfection. Listeners are able to easily distinguish between character voices which is a huge plus in my opinion.

All in all, I highly recommend this audiobook to readers and listeners from the ages of 16 and up.

Tana French was new to me before experiencing “The Witch Elm” audiobook, but I will be on the lookout for more books from this author in the future.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Tana French is the author of The Witch Elm, In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place and The Trespasser.

Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Barry Awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction.

She lives in Dublin with her family.

AUTHOR NOTE:

“There’s one thing that no one I know, including me, ever has enough of: time. Everyone has at least three things they should be doing with every minute, and everyone could do with about six more hours in the day. So I’m very aware that when you take a chance on one of my books, it’s not just your money that you’re putting on the line; it’s your time, which is probably even more precious. I want to thank you, so much, for taking that chance; for your wonderful support, which never stops taking my breath away. Here’s to all of you. I’ll do my absolute best not to waste your time.”

Tana French in The New Yorker

‘The Trespasser’ begs us to take crime fiction seriously

The Millions Interviews Tana French

*
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

OFFICIAL WEBSITE

AUDIBLE

GOODREADS
AMAZON

CHAPTERS
“A spellbinding standalone from one of the best suspense writers working today, The Witch Elm asks what we become, and what we’re capable of, when we no longer know who we are.

  • Quotes:

    The thing is, I suppose,” he said, “that one gets into the habit of being oneself. It takes some great upheaval to crack that shell and force us to discover what else might be underneath. What if I never got another day in my life when I was normal again?

    Once the fear took hold, I was fucked. I’d never known anything like it could exist: all-consuming, ravenous, a whirling black vortex that sucked me under so completely and mercilessly that it truly felt like I was being devoured alive, bones splintered, marrow sucked. After an eternity (lying in bed with my heart jackhammering, adrenaline firing me like a strobe light, feeling the last few threads that held my mind together stretch to a snapping point) something would happen to break the vortex’s hold—a nurse coming in so that I had to make mechanical cheerful chitchat, an uncontrollable rush of sleep—and I would clamber up out of it, shaky and weak as a half-drowned animal. But even when the fear receded for a while, it was always there: dark, misshapen, taloned, hanging somewhere above and behind me, waiting for its next moment to drop onto my back and dig in deep.

    ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

    https://vimeo.com/178172746

    To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE

    AUDIBLE

    LINKEDIN

    VIMEO

    FACEBOOK

    YOUTUBE

    AMAZON

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    “STRAY MAGIC” AUDIOBOOK REVIEW – A fairy tale for all those of us who love dogs and who dream about happy endings.

    Title: STRAY MAGIC

    Author: JACKIE BOUCHARD

    Narrator: AISLING GRAY

    Genre: FICTION, WOMEN’S FICTION, CONTEMPORARY FANTASY

    Length: 9 HOURS, 1 Minute

    Publisher: JACKIE BOUCHARD

    Type of Book: AUDIOBOOK

    Received From: THE NARRATOR – AISLING GRAY

    Release Date: MARCH 26, 2018

    Price on Audible: $13.67 USD

    Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    DESCRIPTION:

    Cara Snow is newly divorced, stuck working for a jerky boss at a pet boutique, and dreading her soon-to-be-empty nest with only her beloved corgi for company. Worse still, her ex just got engaged. Doesn’t she deserve some romance, too? Or, at least a date for the Fur Ball. She’s always enjoyed the annual pet rescue gala, but this year her ex will be there with his fiancée. Meanwhile, Cara hasn’t met anyone- other than the irresistible dogs at the boutique’s adoption events.

    Cara is shocked when her wish to fall for a man as easily as she does for those mutts summons Vincent. His velour track suit, paunchy belly, and tough-guy accent don’t exactly fit her childhood image of a fairy godfather. Not exactly on top of his game, he admits to being twenty-five years late. (Her daughter Winnie is convinced he must be there for her!) Vincent does his best and casts a spell “guaranteed” to help Cara find the One. But when she actually starts meeting men, none of them are her type. If only they were as perfect for her as the dogs they adopt. Did her screw-up fairy godfather botch the spell? If so, what will it mean not only for Cara but Vincent as well?

    MY REVIEW:

    The description of this story states: it is loosely based on “Cinderella,” and I agree that it is VERY LOOSELY based on the classic fairytale. I enjoyed this book much more than I did the fairytale version.

    Why? Well, let’s start with the main character, Cara. She is not a doe-eyed innocent. Cara is a grown woman, with a grown daughter who is about to go off to college. To top it off, she has also just gone through a divorce which hit her self-esteem pretty hard. But, like many women, she did not allow herself to wallow in despair, she just moved on with her life the best she could. Sometimes it takes an exceptional amount of courage just to put one foot in front of the other.

    Cara may not think of herself as courageous, but that is how I saw her right from the beginning. As the story progresses, her actions, her attitudes and even her angst all solidified my belief in her courageous spirit.

    The introduction of a magical fairy godfather was hilarious. The author nailed this character. From his physical appearance to the clothes he chooses to wear, Cara’s Fairy Godfather is a hoot. And of course, Cara, like any other sane person, reacts to his appearance and his pronouncement of his Fairy Godfather status by thinking he must be an escapee from an insane asylum.

    Cara works in a pet store and has a beagle as well who plays a prominent role in the story. Then of course there’s the hunky guy from Cara’s past.

    There are lots of laughs in this audiobook as well as lots of tender moments. In fact, this book will constantly put a smile on the listeners face. What more could you want?

    I loved the characters, I loved the setting, I love dogs as much as the protagonist does, I am also around her age, and my kids have left home to go to college as well. So, suffice it to say that I very much relate to the book’s central character.

    This book is a great read, but I have to say that I firmly believe that narrator Aisling Gray’s performance is so perfect that it makes listening to the audiobook preferable over reading the paperback or eBook version of “Stray Magic.” I rate the narration as 5 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

    I also rate the story as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ I highly recommend this Audiobook to anyone who is in the mood for a light-hearted listening experience. I also recommend this audiobook to anyone and everyone who loves dogs.

    *Thank you to Aisling Gray for providing me with a free copy of this audiobook. The fact that I received this audiobook free of charge has in no way impacted my review. I only review books and audiobooks 100% honestly and anyone sending me a book or audiobook agrees that my honest opinion will be posted – sometimes good, sometimes not so good.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Jackie Bouchard, a USA Today bestselling author, writes what she calls Fido-friendly fiction – humorous and heart-warming stories about women and the dogs that profoundly impact their lives.

    She spent a long time as a creative soul trapped in the body of a practical person. When she was bitten by the writing bug, she managed to leap free of the hamster wheel of corporate America, and now spends her days walking her dog, talking to her dog, and listening for the voices in her head that want their stories told. When the voices don’t talk to her, she can often be found staring into the refrigerator.

    After growing up in Southern California, Jackie moved to Bermuda, where she met her husband. Now back in San Diego, American Jackie, her Canadian hubby, and her Mexican rescue mutt form their own happy little United Nations. Jackie’s novels include STRAY MAGIC, HOUSE TRAINED, the Readers’ Favorite gold-medal winning RESCUE ME, MAYBE, and WHAT THE DOG ATE.

    To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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    CHAPTERS

    ABOUT THE NARRATOR:

    AISLING GRAY started doing voice work in 2005 with commercial narration and voice acting, but her love of reading lead her to branch into audiobook narration.

    Aisling grew up moving all over the world and has lived in the U.K., Costa Rica, Ghana, Sudan, Jamaica, Peru, the U.S., India, Poland, Azerbaijan, and Mexico — all the while learning languages, so she have a knack for accents.

    Listeners have praised her clear, engaging, and versatile narrating as well as her comedic delivery. She loves to bring great writing to life.

    To learn more about this Narrator, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE

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    THE GLOVEMAKER by Historical Fiction Author Ann Weisgarber is coming soon – Mark your calendars

    Title: THE GLOVEMAKER

    Author: ANN WEISGARBER

    Genre: FICTION, HISTORICAL FICTION

    Length: 336 PAGES

    Publisher: SKYHORSE PUBLISHING

    Received From: NETGALLEY

    Release Date: FEBRUARY 19, 2019

    ISBN: 9781510737839

    Price: $24.99 USD (Hardcover)

    Rating: 4 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    DESCRIPTION:

    In the inhospitable lands of the Utah Territory, during the winter of 1888, thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler waits for her husband, Samuel, to return home from his travels as a wheelwright. It is now the depths of winter, Samuel is weeks overdue, and Deborah is getting worried.

    Deborah lives in Junction, a tiny town of seven Mormon families scattered along the floor of a canyon, and she earns her living by tending orchards and making work gloves. Isolated by the red-rock cliffs that surround the town, she and her neighbors live apart from the outside world, even regarded with suspicion by the Mormon faithful who question the depth of their belief.

    When a desperate stranger who is pursued by a Federal Marshal shows up on her doorstep seeking refuge, it sets in motion a chain of events that will turn her life upside down. The man, a devout Mormon, is on the run from the US government, which has ruled the practice of polygamy to be a felony. Although Deborah is not devout and doesn’t subscribe to polygamy, she is distrustful of non-Mormons with their long tradition of persecuting believers of her wider faith.

    But all is not what it seems, and when the Marshal is critically injured, Deborah and her husband’s best friend, Nels Anderson, are faced with life and death decisions that question their faith, humanity, and both of their futures.

    MY REVIEW:

    THE GLOVEMAKER is a story that takes place in the winter of 1888 deep in a remote valley in Utah. This valley is home to a tiny town known as “Junction.” It’s residents are all Saints (as in the Latter Day variety).

    This town is home to only seven families, all of them having drifted away from the strict rules of the church, and most of them did not agree with the practice of polygamy.

    This book is based on a real life village and real life families, so it is history mixed with a giant dose of fiction and imagined characters. It is human nature to wonder about the lives of those who came before us. In THE GLOVEMAKER, author Ann Weisgarber has richly imagined an entire town, with backstories for all the characters readers encounter as the story moves along.

    I read this book in a single day and found myself wrapped up in the life of the main character; thirty-seven-year-old Deborah Tyler. She is my type of woman. She is a tough as nails (but with a squishy heart) take-no-prisoners kind of woman.

    In 1888 a woman living alone for months on end while her husband travelled the territory fixing and making wagon wheels had to be tough. She had to be resilient and she had to be hard working.

    I found the fact that the villagers were all Latter Day Saints to be an interesting twist. And including some actual history of how the government saw the people who practiced that religion might be eye-opening for many readers.

    I enjoyed the story and I give Ann Weisgarber kudos for the historical research that went into the writing of this book. I rate THE GLOVEMAKER as 4 out of 5 Stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐

    *

    **** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book.****

    *
    *

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Ann Weisgarber was born and raised in Kettering, Ohio. She has lived in Boston, Massachusetts, and Des Moines, Iowa, but now splits her time between Sugar Land, Texas, and Galveston, Texas.

    Her first novel The Personal History of Rachel DuPree was longlisted for the Orange Prize and shortlisted for the Orange Prize for New Writers.

    To learn more about this author, visit the following links:

    OFFICIAL WEBSITE
    http://annweisgarber.com

    GOODREADS

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    CHAPTERS

    PUBLISHER’S WEBSITE

    *

    ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:

    To find out more about Skyhorse Publishing, click on the following links:

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    DUTY COVER REVEAL & GIVEAWAY – WIN A $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD

    Title: DUTY

    Author: BETHANY-KRIS

    Andino + Haven, #1
    Publication Date: October 8, 2018
    Genres: Adult, Romantic Suspense, Organized Crime. Erotic Romance

    Cover Credits: Mykel Mignon at Oh So Novel

    SYNOPSIS

    They say heavy is the head that wears the crown …

    Andino Marcello’s world is turned upside down when he becomes the next heir apparent to the Marcello empire. He was comfortable in his place as a Capo, but comfort is for the weak in the world of mafioso. The boss’s seat is waiting. It takes meeting a tattooed beauty who has no idea who Andino is or the criminal legacy he now carries beneath his three-piece suits, and charming smile for him to finally bend the rules set out for him. That doesn’t mean he can keep her.

    They say things that never challenge you won’t change you …

    Haven Murphy is doing her own thing, and she does it well. The owner of a successful Brooklyn strip club, she makes it her only goal to never fail. She’s just trying to live her life when a morning jog puts her face to face with a man that will change the direction of her life with a single conversation. She knows there’s a dark side to him beyond his good looks, and three-piece suits, but it’s hard for her to care when she wants him. That doesn’t mean he can be hers.

    He’s going to break her heart; she’s going to keep his.

    Because duty waits on no one.

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    EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: DUTY

    “Bad things happen to people who aren’t paying attention,” the woman said.

    Andino nodded. “That’s true.”

    She gave him another look, adding, “I guess the bad guys probably don’t wear three-piece suits, or walk their dogs in the middle of broad daylight.”

    Funny.

    Hadn’t he just killed a man a couple of days ago? Didn’t he have a gun hidden at his back? Wasn’t he just told he would be the heir to a criminal empire?

    That all spelled bad guy to him.

    Just in different ways.

    “Life is busy,” Andino said, whistling after for Snaps to come back. Unquestioningly, the dog left the woman’s side, and came back to his master to sit patiently at Andino’s leather loafers. “Too busy for me, maybe. I don’t like change, but someone decided something recently that changed everything for me. Walking Snaps clears my head.”

    The woman crossed her arms over her chest, and it drew Andino’s attention to the colorful artwork tattooed up her arms. Full sleeves on both arms, ink covering her throat, and traveling down to where the baggy tank top dipped low on her chest.

    Damn.

    He wondered what kind of stories her ink told.

    Something amazing, probably.

    “You should take a break, then, stranger who wears a three-piece suit to walk his dog.” Her tone was half-amused, and half-teasing. “You looked happy right before I interrupted—I bet Snaps would like you to take a break, too.”

    “I—”

    Andino’s phone buzzed with a call—he cursed as he shoved his hand into his pocket, and pulled the offensive device out to check the call.

    Dante.

    The boss.

    No shunning a boss.

    It was a rule.

    He turned slightly to make his shoulder face the woman as he picked up the call. “Yeah, boss, what can I do for you?”

    “Nothing you can’t handle, I am sure.”

    The last thing Andino wanted to do was handle business. Any kind of business. He thought of the woman, and her words. Maybe she had a fucking point.

    “Actually, I need a couple of weeks,” Andino said.

    “Excuse me?” Dante asked.

    “Yeah, I need a break.”

    “For …?”

    “At this point, whatever the hell I want. And anything that is not in this city.”

    He needed to get away, and just … relax. Maybe then he wouldn’t get so snappy when his mother asked about women in his life, or whatever. Maybe then he might start to feel better about this whole fucking boss thing.

    “Is this about the business, and la famiglia again, Andi?”

    “Do you really need me to answer that?”

    “You’re the right choice,” Dante said quietly. “The best choice. And you know it.”

    “Fact remains. You’ve upended what I thought was my life. I need time to adjust.”

    Dante sighed harshly, and Andino knew then he was going to get what he wanted. After all, Dante would want to keep him happy.

    This was a two-way street.

    A give and take.

    “Fine, but—”

    “No buts,” Andino interjected. “A break is a fucking break.”

    “Has your father ever told you that you’re a demanding little shit?”

    “Yes, and also that it suits me.”

    Dante grumbled under his breath, but Andino was pretty sure his uncle said, “He’s not wrong.”

    “Yeah, well—”

    “Take your break.”

    Dante hung up the phone without a goodbye. Andino wished he could say he was surprised. Turning on his heel to apologize and say goodbye to the woman who had been at the mouth of the connecting trail, he found the spot empty.

    And the woman gone.

    Fuck.

    He hadn’t even gotten her name.

    Snaps looked up at Andino with his big, dark eyes—ready and willing to find yet another stick to be thrown for him, probably.

    “Where did she go?” Andino asked his dog.

    Snaps simply wagged his stubby tail.

    Thanks for the help, buddy.

    ABOUT BETHANY-KRIS

    Bethany-Kris is a Canadian author, lover of much, and mother to four young sons, one cat, and two dogs. A small town in Eastern Canada where she was born and raised is where she has always called home. With her boys under her feet, snuggling cat, barking dogs, and a hubby calling over his shoulder, she is nearly always writing something … when she can find the time.

    To keep up-to-date with new releases from Bethany-Kris, sign up to her New Release Newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/bf9lzD

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