Monday, August 15, 2022

BOOK BLITZ w/EXCERPT - YA CONTEMPORARY - SAVING SOPHIE by Debbie Schrack

Saving Sophie
by Debbie Schrack
Publication date: April 26th 2022
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult





BLURB

Seventeen-year-old Gabe Hunter knows he has a purpose in life. He has always strived to be the “best of the best,” but lately nothing has gone his way. Gabe was devastated six months earlier when his half-brother Josh had a drunk driving accident that killed four members of a family and left a sixteen-year-old girl named Sophie an orphan. Josh went to prison and Gabe struggles to forgive him because how can he forgive the unforgivable? When Gabe reluctantly agrees to do math tutoring for his senior service project, he discovers that the girl he will be tutoring is also named Sophie. But in a town of eighty thousand people, what are the odds it will be the same person? Astronomical, Gabe figures.

Gabe soon discovers, though, that it is the same Sophie. A former National Merit Scholar finalist, Sophie had a severe brain injury in the accident. She has seizures, amnesia, and can barely read or write. When he meets her, Gabe realizes what his purpose in life must be—to help Sophie and make amends for his brother. His plan is to spend the rest of the school year tutoring Sophie, then say goodbye and go quietly off to college without ever telling her that his brother was the one who killed her family. What Gabe doesn’t count on is falling in love.

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EXCERPT:

The door to the bakery opens and Sophie and Joe come in on a blast of cold air. I shiver. Cold has penetrated every cell in my body; not from the air, but from what Sophie’s uncle just told me.

“Sophie set up a spot in the back where you guys can work,” Jim says, getting up from the table. “I’m going to make the dough for tomorrow. If you need anything just give a holler.”

I stand up and take a deep breath. Now’s the time, I think. Now’s the time to tell Sophie and her uncle the truth about me. My brother killed her family. He’s the reason she has seizures and amnesia and has to learn how to read and write again. But they’re looking at me like I’m one of the superheroes from The Avengers. My mouth opens and this is what I say: “I’ll do my best, sir.”

You chickenshit.

Jim claps me on the back. “I know you will. And call me Jim.”

Sophie waves to me. “Come on, Gabe.”

I follow her to a table in the corner. She takes off her hoodie and drops it over a chair. She’s wearing a green long-sleeved shirt with Edgewater emblazoned across the front in white. It’s like a slap in the face.

“I’m impressed you went to Edgewater,” I say. “I heard it’s harder to get in there than Harvard.” I have the sense that this is all an illusion, that I’m watching us play ourselves in a movie or a Netflix series.

“Edison’s a good—school, too,” she says. “Uncle Jim talks about it—all the time.”

She speaks with a slight hesitation—not a stutter, exactly, but more like her words can’t keep up with what her brain is trying to say.

We sit down at the table. Joe parks himself on the floor next to Sophie. There’s nothing on the table except a folder and some pencils. I don’t see any books anywhere, although a backpack is sitting on one of the chairs.

There’s an awkward silence as we stare at the folder. Then Sophie looks at me.

There were so many times I wondered if her eyes were blue or gray. But I never imagined they were this shade of blue—like the sky on a June day. And I never would have guessed there were pinpoints of violet inside the blue.

“I’m so sorry about what happened to you,” I blurt. As soon as the words are out, I want to take them back.

She looks down at her hands in her lap. Her hair falls like a curtain around her face. When she looks up at me, her eyes have tears in them.

My heart cracks open. I didn’t know anything could hurt this much. My face burns like I have a fever, while the rest of my body is frozen, like it’s encased in ice. I’d give anything right now to go back in time and talk to Josh about his drinking. Insist he get help. Maybe if Mom and I had paid more attention, I wouldn’t be sitting here with the innocent victim of this nightmare. Of everyone affected by the accident, Sophie’s the one who bears the heaviest burden. Her family is dead. Josh will be out of prison at some point. But Sophie—she’ll have to deal with this for the rest of her life.


 

Author Info

Debbie Schrack has spent her professional life working with children and young adults. She has a B.S in Special Education from the University of Virginia, and an M.Ed. from George Mason University. Although the character Sophie in her debut novel SAVING SOPHIE is fictional, she is a composite of many of the struggling learners Debbie has taught over the years.

Debbie lives with her family in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Debbie finds personal fulfillment in creating new things, whether it be a novel, a painting, or a batch of croissants. She loves animals, and horses are her special passion. When she’s not writing or horseback riding, Debbie is a sucker for musicals, enjoys visiting art galleries, and desperately wants to travel more. She also loves hanging out with her three children, who she will always consider her most amazing creations.

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KINDLE UNLIMITED - CONTEMPOARY - CURVEBALL: A Love Story by Anne Trowbridge

Curveball: A Love Story
by Anne Trowbridge
Published: July 3rd 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance/Sports Romance





One bad pitch can change the whole game
Not to mention your life....

Zach Hiller was an ace pitcher for the New York Yankees until the day he lost everything in a catastrophe that he now remembers painfully as “The Curveball Incident”. Then, after two years of hiding from his past— spent mostly in Dublin, serving beer to tourists and throwing a stress ball against the walls of his messy apartment—his life goes up in flames once more, this time when an American named Emma Crawford walks into his pub and immediately takes to his tidy non- existence like a sunshine sledgehammer. How is he supposed to stay depressed, not to mention incognito, when this beautiful, stubborn, and funny woman is tearing down all his defenses? Emma has it all, including a brand-new fiancĂ©, degree, and opportunity to explore every corner of Ireland for a summer. But all it takes is one chance encounter with a mysterious and brooding bartender from Texas to make her start questioning everything she thought she knew about herself. Together they have enough problems to fill an ocean. So why is it impossible to even consider spending the summer apart?










Anne Trowbridge lives in New Jersey with her husband, two kids, and two dogs. When she’s not reading or writing, she’s working her way through careers like she’s marking off a bingo card, with years spent as a newspaper reporter, book editor, middle school language arts teacher, and now writer. She grew up all over the Midwest and somehow still loves to travel and see new places.



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RELEASE BLITZ w/EXCERPT - CONTEMPORARY - NOT FOR YOU (The President's Daughters, #4) by Kathryn Shay

Not For You
The President's Daughters, #4
by Kathryn Shay
Release Date: August 15th 2022
Genre: Contemporary Romance


While living in Italy, Andraya Manwaring isn’t looking for Prince Charming. Too bad she finds him in Ben Moretti, a man who’s lost too much in life to risk love again.

Andraya Manwaring lives in Casarina, an island of lush landscape, surrounded by the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. She was drawn here after she graduated college, and was thrilled to be able to teach in the Marcello Schools, a renowned, innovative educational system. She anticipates a good year again, and getting to know the new staff, particularly the agricultural faculty’s Ben Moretti. She’s drawn to him, too.

Ben has lost everything he cared about. His family farm, which fell victim to drought, his way of life and a wife who abandoned him and his kids years ago. Now, he lives in the city, where he will teach agriculture and try to help his rebellious daughter adjust. So what if he’s attracted to the lovely Andraya Manwaring, who even shows interest in him? He has nothing to offer her but a lot of problems, and he won’t drag her down into his dysfunctional life.

But both circumstances and an undeniable attraction throw them together and he sees what a beautiful person Andraya is inside as well as outside. He gets close to her as they work together on integrating journals into his classes. Mistakenly, he spends time with her outside of school.

Andraya comes to really care about Ben. She’s also particularly interested in his twins. His son is a doll, but his daughter Meli has a big chip on her shoulder. Eventually, though, her tenacity in showing Meli she truly wants to help her, brings his daughter close too. They have fun together, spend time with each other’s family, and everybody’s happy.

This leads to Ben and Andraya falling in love. But when Meli learns of their relationship, all hell breaks loose. Ben and Andraya must end their relationship to save Meli. Her father, former President of the U.S. steps in and tries to help.

Can Meli ever believe Andraya’s interest in her wasn’t just to get to her father? They both lied for so long.

The outlook for their relationship is grim if his daughter doesn’t see the truth. If they could convince her of their honesty, they could be one happy family.






Andraya removed her suit cover-up and kicked off her sandals as soon as she hit the beach. The mid-September sun beat down on her head and face, making the day bright and beautiful. She smiled as she walked halfway down the sandy spot, out of the prying eyes of the palace guards. Because of that, she’d worn a two-piece yellow bathing suit Annie had given her. When she her destination, she dropped down on one of the many chaises the royal family attendants had set out. Umbrellas dotted the area too, but Andraya allowed herself one half-hour in the sun. Renata insisted she swim here.

Darling Andraya, of course you must use our beach. Your father would skewer Alessio if we let you use the public one.

Renata, my father does not control my life over here.

Then do it for the school. Do you really want to sunbathe with students?

Well, no.

And you shouldn’t swim alone. I’ll have a female guard far enough up on one of the cliffs for privacy but close enough for her to jump in and get you, if need be.

Eventually, Andraya had given in. Eventually, everybody gave in to the queen who, at sixty, was imposing and lovely.

Lying flat on her back, she rubbed her arm to make sure she had enough sunscreen on her body. Satisfied she did, she took a book out of her backpack. By Elena Ferrante, The Lost Child, had won the Strega Award. If Andraya thought it was age appropriate and interesting enough, she planned to teach it next term. 

She began reading. The book was interesting, but her eyelids began to close. So, she set it down, got up and headed into the Mediterranean Sea. Sand squished between her toes and still-warm water lapped at her feet. She went out further and further then dove into the water. 

When she got back on land, she felt great. She laid back on her chaise, picked up the book, and began to read again. Her family wondered why she’d moved to Casarina. Was anything better than this?

What the hell? Ben Moretti stopped short inside the door of the Agricultural wing. He walked up close to the color picture of a woman sunbathing plastered on the wall. No, not any woman. Dio mio, Andraya Manwaring. 

A prank? Damn it, he hoped his kids weren’t responsible for this. They’d asked to stay at friends’ houses overnight so he came in early on the first day and didn’t drive them to school. 

For a few seconds, he stared at her curves. Wow! He had no idea she was so…sculpted. Her dark hair was up on her head and she had her eyes closed. The amount of skin revealed made him swallow hard. Shrugging off the reaction, he pulled down the first one headed up the hall. Outside every few rooms were more of copies of the photo. He yanked at them. His heart beat fast in his chest. This was so unfair of her. She’d be embarrassed to hell. 

His phone buzzed. Renata. “Moretti.”

“Are you at school yet?”

“Yeah.”

“Are there photos of Andraya up in your wing?”

“Yep. I’m taking them down as I go.”

“When you’re finished, could you come over to the Humanities wing and head off Andraya. I’m having the building scoured. If you can, get them down in her hallway first, but tell her what’s happened.”

He wondered why Renata called him. He hadn’t spent that much time with Andraya. They’d met during the summer for some preplanning, and he’d talked to her about the kids. He’d also have to confess some of the reasons for their behavior. And she was understanding of their issues. He owed her “Sure, I’ll help out.”

“She parks in her designated spot outside the Humanities wing.” Teachers had their own spaces in the faculty lot.

Making quick work of ripping down the rest of the flyers in this wing, he jogged down to her hall, grabbing pictures. He got to the outside door and found her just entering the building. 

“Hey, Ben. Are you waiting for me?” She looked like a daisy in a pretty yellow dress.

“Yeah. Renata asked me to meet you.”

“Why?”

“Let’s talk on the way to your room.”

She stopped. “Tell me now.”

Sighing, he handed her a copy of the picture. She stared at her photo then lifted her gaze. “Hey, it’s a pretty good shot of me, don’t you think?”

“How can you joke about this?”

A small line marring her brow. “I’m not ashamed of how I look.”

“Why would you be? You’re gorgeous.”

Now those light brown brows shot up. “Why…thank you.”

She took another glance. “Where’d you get this? I was sunbathing on the palace property.”

“I’m afraid someone took a picture of you there. Copies were posted all over school.”

“Seriously? Why would anyone do such a thing?”

“I…” He glanced away.

“What?”

“I’m afraid my kids did it. They stayed overnight at a friend’s house, so they could have come in early without me knowing it.”

“Let’s not overreact. Or assign blame just yet.”

Now, he frowned. “I didn’t expect you to be…all right with this.”

“I’m not. No one did this with kindness in his or her heart. But I’m also not going to melt into a puddle at the sight of it.” She took a bead on him. “You know, anyone could be responsible.”

“You don’t have enemies. You’re too nice.”

“There’s resentment among some of the faculty because I’m so close to Renata. And all my life, people have been jealous of me being the daughter of the U.S. president.”

“This looks more like kids’ doing to me. They had to sneak on the palace property over the weekend to take the photograph, then somehow get the flyers up when school opened early.”

“Walk me to my room, would you?”

“Sure.” On the way they passed teachers who were arriving. 

A woman stopped them. “Andraya, I’m so sorry.”

“Thank you. But it’s not the end of the world, so don’t worry about me, Iliana.”

They went further and bumped into the new member of her department. Ben said, “Domenico.”

Andraya held his gaze boldly. “Dom.”

“Lookin’ good,” he said with a seedy smile.

She gave him a dazzling one. “Why, thank you, Dom.”

He recoiled back. If the stronzo thought he was going to get a rise out of her, he was swimming in the wrong fish tank.

They kept going. Finally, he couldn’t keep it in. “You know, you’re something else. I wouldn’t have handled this as well as you are.”

“Why, you have a great body?”

Holy hell. He kept himself from being embarrassed. And worse, turned on by her comment. All he said was, “Ha!”

#

The kids were fourteen and they looked so young with their new sneakers and recent haircuts as they walked into her classroom. They were whispering and giving her sly looks. Just as she thought, she’d have to deal with the photo right away. Once they were seated, she greeted them. She was heartened to see several students frowning or sad even. Some, though, were grinning a lot like Dom. 

“I’m sorry to have to start the first day like this, but hello, I’m Professoressa or Prof Andraya, if you like. I met some of you this summer, others not. But, before I can greet properly, I’ll address this.” 

She held up one of the copies Ben had given her and with a bland expression on her face, she silently walked down one aisle and up the another, until she’d covered the whole room.

Once back up front, she said, “These were all over school this morning. If you know who did this, tell that person I’m not embarrassed. I know this is a flattering picture of me.

“I also know whomever did this was trying to hurt me, and I’m very sad about that. Again, I’m not angry, not embarrassed, but sad.

“With that, I’d like to forget about this…” she crumpled the paper tossed it into the trash “…and go on to our first day together.”

A pretty little girl raised her hand. “Do you have something to say, Serina?” The kids wore name tags until their teacher learned their names.

“Yes, Professoressa. I hate that stupid person who did this to you. Lots of students will be sorry, like me.”

“Thank you for telling me that. Now I’d like to have the first class I planned.” She picked up a stack of journals. “I’m handing these out for you to use at home then bring back in case we need them in class. Like right now. In either English or Italian, you’re to write about your expectations for the class. How you’re feeling about it. Be honest. You have fifteen minutes. No one else will read it but me. I’ll comment on each one.”

They got to work. Most of them. The two dark-haired Moretti twins looked at each other. She saw Meliora shake her head at Matteo. Huh, she was the dominant one. Their journals remained closed. Andraya walked to them. Bent over, so they both could hear. “If you don’t do this now, you’ll have to come after school to complete the paragraphs.”

“Can’t,” Meliora said. “No ride home then.”

“Not an excuse. You’ll have to find one. And since you’re new this year, I’ll tell you that it’s rule at the Marcello School that a teacher can keep kids after school any day of the week. Even Saturday. Parents have to agree to accommodate them before you enroll.” Italy had classes on Saturdays. 

Meliora glared at her with hateful dark eyes. Then she opened the journal and wrote, No expectations. Feeling like shit now.

“Three paragraphs are required.” She glanced over at the boy. He’d opened his journal and started writing. 

“Mattie!” Meliora whispered harshly.

“Come on, Meli. You know what Papa said.”

“And if you insist on preventing your brother from doing assignments, Meliora, I’ll separate you in the room.” She arched a brow. “Or we’ll transfer you to a different classroom and another teacher. For the whole year.”

A glare that could freeze hell came from the girl now. But she started to write. And Matteo did the same. Andraya couldn’t wait to read what they had to say.

All of her classes consisted of the same speech, and similar statements from the students. But she did get to the journals activity and some other get-to-know-you activities.

At the end of the day, after the students left, Ben appeared in her doorway. “Hey. How are you holding up?”

“I made it through. Come on in.”

He walked to the front. Now she noticed how big and attractive he looked in black and white shirt rolled up at the sleeves and khaki pants, his hair tousled. He hitched a hip on the edge of one desk. 

“From what I hear, it was more than that. The kids told me what you did. Good for you.”

“Thanks, but as I said, it was tedious and tiring. And marred our first time together.”

“For what it’s worth, some kids told me directly that they didn’t like the prank. And as they worked, I overheard even more of them discussing it, saying the same thing. You’re well liked, Andraya.”

“Thank you, Ben. Do you still think it’s your kids?”

“I don’t know. I can usually tell when they’re triumphant over something bad they did, and I didn’t get any vibes of that when their nonno picked them up.”

“I hope it wasn’t them.”

He checked the time. “Are you up to going to the meeting?”

“Meeting?”

“Of the assessment team. We’re picking up from what we did this summer on the new courses.”

“I forgot.”

“Renata would excuse you.” The queen was conducting assessment, as she was responsible for the curriculum. Otherwise, the facilitator would have been Luciana DeLuca, the upper grade principal.

Andraya pushed back her chair. “I told you, Signor Benito, that I’m not a wilting flower. I’m ready.”

“You said you wouldn’t dissolve into a puddle and now you’re not wilting flower.” The corners of his mouth turned up and his deep brown eyes crinkled. “I guess you are a force to be reckoned with.”

“I am.”

Another smile. “Let’s go.”




 

A NEW YORK TIMES and USA TODAY bestselling author, Kathryn Shay has been a lifelong writer and teacher. She has written dozens of self-published original romance titles, print books with the Berkley Publishing Group and Harlequin Enterprises and mainstream women’s fiction. One of her firefighter books hit #20 on the NEW YORK TIMES list. Her novels have been serialized in COSMOPOLITAN magazine and featured in USA TODAY, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL and PEOPLE magazine. There are over ten million copies of her books in print and downloaded online. Readers call her work heartwarming.


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