Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Aloha to Alyssa Maxwell and MURDER AT THE BREAKERS

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MURDER AT THE BREAKERS is a step back in time to the Gilded Age:

Newport, Rhode Island, August 1895: She may be a less well-heeled relation, but as second cousin to millionaire patriarch Cornelius Vanderbilt, twenty-one-year-old Emma Cross is on the guest list for a grand ball at the Breakers, the Vanderbilts’ summer home. She also has a job to do—report on the event for the society page of the Newport Observer.

But Emma observes much more than glitz and gaiety when she witnesses a murder. The victim is Cornelius Vanderbilt’s financial secretary, who plunges off a balcony faster than falling stock prices. Emma’s black sheep brother Brady is found in Cornelius’s bedroom passed out next to a bottle of bourbon and stolen plans for a new railroad line. Brady has barely come to before the police have arrested him for the murder. But Emma is sure someone is trying to railroad her brother and resolves to find the real killer at any cost…


File:The Breakers Newport.jpg
The Breakers
Image by Matt Wade (link)
Creative Commons Share Attribution (link)

One hundred years after the declaration that all men are created equal, there began to gather in Newport a colony of the rich, determined to show that some Americans were conspicuously more equal than others. - Alistair Cooke

Maxwell brings Newport alive with historical figures mixed with fictional characters in this cozy mystery.   The story unfolds from the first person perspective of Emma Cross - a second cousin to the reigning Vanderbilt family.  Yet she lives on the edge of social acceptability with her independent spirit. Emma also lives on the edge of genteel poverty, buoying her finances as a reporter for the society pages.  She accepts with resignation that society (and her relations) expect her to write about garden parties, not criminal activity.

But a murder at the Breakers, the Vanderbilt's summer cottage, gives Emma the opportunity to use her investigative skills (and her family connections) to clear her brother's name. Maxwell drew me into the mystique of America's 400 - the number of people who can fit in Mrs. Astor's ballroom (reminding me of my favorite genre, the Regency romance, with glittering ballrooms).   At times, Maxwell overburdened the story with street descriptions; I would rather she further develop the characters on both sides of the tracks.  Still, this was an engaging who done it that kept my attention to the final reveal.   Once I finished MURDER AT THE BREAKERS, I spent an hour on Google, researching the Vanderbilt family.  I look forward to the next book, MURDER AT MARBLE HOUSE

Recommended read for fans of cozy mysteries and historical fiction.  I received an ARC from Kensington for an honest review.

I am giving away a special "society" prize to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Have you visited any historical house like the Breakers?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 19, 10 pm in Baltimore. 

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City 

To learn more about Alyssa and her books, check out her website at alyssamaxwell.com.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Aloha to Joanne Kennedy and HOW TO HANDLE A COWBOY


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Two years ago this week, I accompanied the Boy Scouts for Spring Break on the Big Island of Hawaii.   We kicked off our trip with the Aloha Council's Hilo Heritage Trail - this "walking tour" spotlighted the paniolo (cowboy) influence on the town.  And paniolo still work on the island!   Check out my pictures on my travel blog at this link.  

Speaking of cowboys, Joanne Kennedy is kicking off a new series, The Cowboys of Decker Ranch, with Book 1, HOW TO HAND A COWBOY:

His Rodeo Days May Be Over...

Sidelined by a career-ending injury, rodeo cowboy Ridge Cooper feels trapped at his family's remote Wyoming ranch. Desperate to find an outlet for the passion he used to put into competing, he takes on the challenge of teaching his roping skills to five troubled ten-year-olds in a last-chance home for foster kids, and finds it's their feisty supervisor who takes the most energy to wrangle.

But He'll Still Wrangle Her Heart

When social worker Sierra Dunn seeks an activity for the rebellious kids at Phoenix House, she soon learns she's not in Denver anymore. Sierra is eager to get back home to her inner-city work, and the plan doesn't include forming an attachment in Wyoming—especially not to a ruggedly handsome and surprisingly gentle local rodeo hero.

I am giving away a print copy of HOW TO HANDLE A COWBOY to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about cowboys - have you seen any in action?   I grew up visiting my aunt's farm outside Macon, Mississippi.   I was enamored by my cousin's rodeo ribbons.  But I never saw him in action.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Joanne and her books, check out her website at joannekennedybooks.com.

Horses under palm trees ... only in Hawaii!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Aloha to Robyn DeHart and THE TEMPTATIONS OF ANNA JACOBS




Robyn DeHart joins me today for a cozy chat about her new release, THE TEMPTATION OF ANNA JACOBS.   From her bio,

When not writing, you can find Robyn hanging out with her family, husband (The Professor) a university professor of Political Science and their two ridiculously beautiful and smart daughters, Busybee and Babybee as well as two spoiled-rotten cats. They live in the hill country of Texas where it's hot eight months of the year, but those big blue skies make it worth it. 

Kim:  We are nosy here at SOS Aloha. Texas! What is your favorite sight, sound, and smell of the Lone Star State! 

Robyn:  Oh, cool question. I LOVE my state. Most of us Texans are actually quite obnoxious about our state pride. My most favorite thing is the big blue sky. We really do have some serious wide-open spaces here in the Lone Star State. In fact when I lived in Tennessee for 4 years after The Professor and I first got married, I felt claustrophobic all the time. The interstates are lined with these gorgeous pine trees. It’s really lush and lovely. And I hated it. I felt closed in, couldn’t see where we were going or what was up ahead. I know that’s probably ridiculous, and I guess it just goes back to what I’m used to. But I love that big, beautiful blue sky and being able to see if from one side of the horizon to the other.

Kim:  Let's chat about those spoiled rotten cats (as I have a few). Do they inspire? Interfere? Appear in your work?

Robyn:  Inspire? Doubtful. Interfere? Often. You know how cats always want to be on you and well, mine don’t particularly care if I already have something in my lap, whether that be my laptop or one of my kiddos. But I have put cats in my books before, I like to read books with animals and since I’m 100% a cat person those are the critters that show up in my books. But I love my furbabies and love being at home and writing and having them nearby. 


Kim:  I was honored to meet you at RWA/DC in 2009 (just before I moved to Hawaii ... last summer we moved back to Maryland). I have enjoyed following your career since then. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give yourself, especially with the future of publishing.

Robyn:  I totally remember that, Kim. You were standing behind me in line at the hotel registration desk and you were actually holding one of my books! Still one of my fondest reader-meet moments. Wow, what advice would I have given that girl? You know probably just to settle in for a long ride. So often in this business a writer will appear as if out of nowhere and just take off and become an instant success. More often than not though most of us just plug along writing book after book, having some successes and some failures. I don’t think I ever expected to be an overnight success, but I think I probably thought I’d be a bit further in my career than I am now. Patience and endurance and a love of story is what keeps me going.

Kim:  How do you juggle your writing commitments to your books, the Jaunty Quills, and Peanut Butter on the Keyboard?

Robyn:  Thankfully the group blogs I’m apart of are filled with understanding wonderful women who pick up the slack when you need help. I also use computer reminders so I don’t forget and utilize the date feature in wordpress to schedule my blogs so I can write them ahead of time. I try to do my blogging on Sundays to get set up for the week so it doesn’t eat into my writing time.

Kim:  Tell us about THE TEMPTATIONS OF ANNA JACOBS - what inspired it?

Robyn:  It’s book 2 in my Dangerous Liaisons series. Like most people, I’ve always been fascinated by the mystery of the Jack the Ripper killings. For many years I wanted to write about it, tackle the whole thing in some capacity. The fact that I already have established myself as a Victorian-set writer made things easier. In any case if you’ve read the first book, The Secrets of Mia Danvers, then you know that it opens with Mia, my blind heroine, witnessing a murder. In my series Jack the Ripper continues killing after his fall of 1888 rampage, only a few months later.

This second book is about Drew, the brother of Alex (hero in Mia Danvers). He’s just been imprisoned for the killings and in many ways this is the least of his worries. Enter Anna Jacobs, a medical student, and he definitely has his hands full.

Kim:  What's next for Robyn DeHart?

Robyn:  In July the second book in my Masquerading Mistresses series – my first Regency-set series – releases. It’s called For Her Spy Only and features the scarred and ill-reputed Marquess of Conventry and the one woman he’s never been able to forget.

Thanks for having me today and for participating in my blog tour!


Love and justice…

When Drew Foster is released from prison, he doesn't much care about salvaging his soiled reputation. Though he's working undercover, everyone in Victorian London believes him guilty of the Jack the Ripper murders and that his brother paid for his "innocence."

Despite her genteel upbringing, Anna Jacobs is intent on finishing medical school and becoming a physician. Society's ridicule has never bothered her, but when her brother, the Yard's best detective, is scorned for letting Drew go, she confronts the one man who can set the record straight at a ball. She certainly doesn't count on the rogue being dashing and handsome, nor on him stealing a passionate kiss.

Anna's brazen contempt for his dangerous reputation captivates Drew, but he is harboring secrets that make him unfit to court any proper woman. As he finds himself an outsider among his colleagues at Scotland Yard, the feisty beauty offers up her medical knowledge to assist him on the case. But when the real killer returns to London to continue his reign of terror, can Anna find safety in Drew's arms?

Kindle link
Barnes & Noble: link
iTunes: link


National Bestselling author, Robyn DeHart's novels have appeared in the top bestselling romance and historical romance lists. Her books have been translated into nearly a dozen languages. Her historical romantic adventure series, The Legend Hunters, were not only bestsellers, but also award-winners, snagging a Reader's Crown and a Reviewer's Choice award. She had three releases in 2013 and 2014 will see four more, all set in the popular historical romance Regency and Victorian eras.

Known for her "strong dialogue and characters that leap off the page" (RT Bookclub) and her "sizzling romance" (Publishers Weekly), her books have been featured in USA Today and the Chicago Tribune. A popular writing instructor, she has given speeches at writing conferences in Los Angeles, DC, New York, Dallas, Nashville and Toronto, among many others.

Places to find Robyn:

Website:  robyndehart.com
Jaunty Quills: jauntyquills.com
Peanut Butter on the Keyboard: peanutbutteronthekeyboard.wordpress.com


Robyn is hosting a special giveaway ... 



Plus Robyn offers an excerpt from THE TEMPTATIONS OF ANNA JACOBS 

She was quiet for several moments. He watched her face as she considered all the possibilities. Even now, the taste of her lips stayed with him, and he wanted more. More of her kisses, more of her smiles. Simply more of Anna.

Perhaps she had other thoughts that could explain the differences in the injuries, or the use of an alternate weapon.

“Why did you kiss me? The other day?” she asked.

Drew felt his brows rise in surprise. “Is that what you were thinking about? I suspected your thoughts were more academic in nature.”

She shrugged. “Academic or not, I am still a woman.”

“It seemed the thing to do,” Drew said with a shrug of his own.

“‘It seemed the thing to do,’” she said, mocking his tone. She frowned. “That’s not a very good answer.”

He resisted the urge to smile. Hell, he didn’t know why he’d kissed her. Because the desire to do so had been so overwhelming he hadn’t been able to resist her lips. In fact, he longed to embrace her again, right now. “What would be a good answer?”

“How the devil should I know?” Her hand fluttered to her chest. “I don’t go around kissing unsuspecting people.”

“Fair enough. Well then, I kissed you because I wanted to.” Perhaps honesty would appease her curiosity. “Because your mouth is tempting, even though you talk far too much.”

“That doesn’t even make any sense. Well, the bit about my talking too much, I admit I can be verbose—”

“You’re doing it again,” he interrupted her. He leaned forward, toward her chair. “Only makes me want to kiss you again.”

She waved her hand. “That’s ridiculous.”

“The mere notion of kissing you? Hasn’t any man ever expressed a similar interest?”

A blush stained her exposed throat, marring her lovely creamy skin. Her hand followed the telltale sign of her embarrassment and she fiddled with the necklace around her throat. She swallowed visibly. “I don’t see how that is any of your business. I’m not even certain how we got on this discussion,” she said.

“You asked me why I kissed you.”

“Yes, and your answer is unsatisfactory. I shall merely have to conclude that you men are a peculiar lot.” She pointed at him.

“I’m going to kiss you again, Annabelle,” he said softly.

Her mouth opened, then slowly closed. “Right now?”

“Would you like me to kiss you right now?”

“I cannot answer that.” She shook her head fervently. “It would be utterly improper.”

“You, a lady going to medical school and assisting me with an undercover investigation of a murder? Last night we broke into a government building. Your behavior hasn’t exactly been the pinnacle of propriety.”

Her brow furrowed. “That is quite different.” Her tongue darted out and wet her lips.

He felt a stab of desire, hot and poignant in his gut. Oh yes. He wanted her. Whatever the reason, logical or not, he wanted her quite badly. Too badly, in fact, for him to kiss her now when his passions were so close to the surface. It was entirely too likely they would not be interrupted, that no one would come along and stop him from ruining her here in his parlor.

“You already answered my question,” he said.

She frowned. “I don’t believe I did.”

“Oh yes, Anna, you want me to kiss you very badly. Now that I know that, I’m going to make you wait. For a little longer.”

“You are an insufferable man!” she said as she came to her feet.

Aloha to the Dark and Dealy Blog Tour - Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance



April 15 will be dark and deadly at the US Post Office for those paying their federal tax .... meanwhile, we embrace the DARK AND DEADLY here at SOS Aloha.  Join me in celebration of the Eight Bad Boys of Paranormal Romance, now available worldwide for a special introductory price of only $0.99!

This ebook boxed set of eight hot paranormal romances by eight New York Times and USA Today best-selling romance authors features powerful alpha male bad boys who will satisfy your darkest, most deadliest desire, available Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Barnes and Noble Nook, Apple iBooks stores and other retailers. Find the links to your preferred retailer at this link.

BODYGUARD by Jennifer Ashley

Elizabeth Chapman is saved from an armed attacker by a Kodiak bear who shifts into a tight-bodied, naked human male. Ronan takes Elizabeth to Shiftertown, becoming her 24/7 bodyguard. The mateless Ronan has adopted a houseful of orphaned Shifters--having grown up in foster care, Elizabeth is touched by his protectiveness. Ronan only wants to keep Elizabeth safe, but the sassy woman is triggering his long-buried need to mate.

ALEJANDRO’S SORCERESS by Alyssa Day

He’s a warrior, hardened by years of protecting his town from vampire attack. She’s a garden witch who sees the world in shades of sunshine and delight. Opposites don’t only attract, they go supernova in this sizzling tale of magic and mayhem.

BEWITCH by Felicity Heaton

A vampire with a bloodstained past and a soul tainted with darkness, Payne is perfect in his self-control, never surrendering to his darkest desires. Now a beautiful witch in the shadowy fae underworld reawakens long denied hungers and tempts him with pleasure. When one incredible night of fulfilling their fantasies leads to more than just keeping a promise and saving a friend, will they be able to overcome the barriers that stand between them and forever?

DARKNESS FALLS by Erin Kellison

Agent Malcolm Rook is hunting for people with the rarest of talents—the ability to master dreams. He finds the undeniably gifted Jordan Lane, but she’s wary of mysterious Rook and resists his pursuit as long as she can. Yet the dreamwaters they enter are too exhilarating to resist, and attraction soon ignites electric passions. Delving too deep stirs a nightmare, one they must defeat, or be forever lost to darkness.

ROGUE’S PASSION by Laurie London

Blaming himself for the death of a friend, Iron Guild warrior Asher Kane vows to bring those responsible to justice. After he’s hurt on a mission and nursed back to health by a beautiful yet mysterious woman, this dangerously sexy bad-boy finds himself falling for Olivia…even as he struggles to stay away. But stalking them on the streets of New Seattle is a cruel and vengeful evil—one that threatens to destroy them both…

THE FORBIDDEN LIFE OF ALEX MOORE by Erin Quinn

Alex’s mission: Kill the hellhounds that have invaded earth and return to his home in the Beyond. But from the start, things go horribly wrong. The hounds are cunning and a human female witnesses their attack—she intervenes and saves Alex’s life. Now he must keep the alluring Lilly alive while fighting his desire for her. When passion flares, Alex risks all to protect her and defend the forbidden life he craves.

THE MATING HEAT by Bonnie Vanak

Werewolf Kara Mitchell fled with her brother Aiden to Montana after their alpha father punished her for kissing sexy omega werewolf Ryder Carrington. Left scarred by her father’s cruelty, Kara believes no one can love her. After killing his alpha to save the pack, Ryder now rules, but needs a mate. His blood runs hot for Kara. Ryder will do anything to claim her, even risk an all-out pack war that could cost them everything…

TRAPPED by Caris Roane

Mastyr Vampire Zephyr, a one-man fighting force, struggles to save the life of a woman who despises his warrior ways. She’s been a thorn in his side, but he has one goal: to keep her safe. For Alesia, however, she just wishes he’d leave her alone since she can never approve of his profession. She broke up with him months ago and wants to start a new life. The trouble is, he’s still the one man who can curl her toes.

Giveaway!  One randomly selected commenter wins DARK AND DANGEROUS: Six-in-One Hot Paranormal Romance Boxed set (link).   To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about paranormal romance - what draws you to the dark side?

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 20.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

Enjoy an excerpt from ALEJANDRO’S SORCERESS by Alyssa Day ... 

Alejandro had only taken a single step toward the front door of the small house when a woman who looked like sunshine walked out, and his entire world shifted on its axis.

She was stunning, but he’d seen beautiful women before. This one—she was somehow different. Her hair was a lush fall of gorgeous golden blond, but her athletic figure was neither model-thin nor lusciously curved. Her face was captivating, though—something about the combination of her individual features packed a punch right to his gut. Maybe her lips, or her elegant bone structure. Maybe her eyes.

Her eyes.

They were so blue that he almost couldn’t believe they were real, and they were snapping with fire, impatience, or annoyance. He couldn’t decipher her emotion from her eyes alone, but something about her made him want to spend hours trying.

It took him another beat to realize that her lips were pressed together in a firm line. When she put her hands on her hips—gently rounded hips that clearly had been made for a man to hold--even he, blinded by the most immediate case of raging lust he’d ever felt, could see that she was angry about something.

He tried to focus on the job. He told himself that she’d probably have a terrible personality. He reminded himself that she was a witch, and then it hit him. She projected a sense of power—a feeling of barely leashed magic—that somehow transformed her into the most fascinating woman he’d ever seen. Maybe it was some kind of spell? She was a witch, after all, and he had never reacted like this before.

His libido didn’t care about the why. It just wanted to get her naked, which was damn stupid under the circumstances and therefore made him suspicious.

“So. You must be the P-Ops guys. Let me guess; you’re from the government and you’re here to help?” Sarcasm and something else, maybe annoyance, coated her words, but her voice was musical and so sexy that he wanted to hear her talk all night long.

Well. Maybe not all night.

She was breathing hard, and Alejandro tried not to notice the way her breasts pressed against her shirt. He was a professional agent, damn it, not a horny kid. He fumbled for his badge, but Mac beat him to it.

Mac moved around the car, holding out his hand. “Mac Henson and Alejandro Vasquez, ma’am. You have a basilisk problem?”

Right. The basilisk. Alejandro snapped into action and opened the trunk of the car. He pulled out a shotgun, extra ammo, and a helmet with a darkened visor to protect himself from the basilisk’s deadly gaze.

“Where is it? Is anybody harmed?” he asked, heading back toward the house.

The woman’s mouth twitched, and he could have sworn he saw a smile curve her lips, but it was gone so fast that maybe he’d imagined it. “I’m Rose Cardinal. Are you sure you’re ready for this? That might not be enough protection.”

Alejandro’s gaze snapped to Mac, who strode back to the trunk to suit up.

“We’re ready, ma’am,” Alejandro said, his confidence in his skills and training overriding his tongue-tied fumbling. She must have put a spell on him. He’d never reacted to a woman at first glance like this before. Not even to Maria.

“Are you presently casting any spells?” he asked bluntly. Surely that kind of beauty had to be helped along by magical glamour.

She laughed out loud this time. “No, officer, I’m not bewitching you in any way. Don’t you have some kind of magic meter?”

He did, in fact, have a dial on his agency-issued watch that reacted with different colored lights in the presence of magic. He’d forgotten about it, like an idiot. He glanced down at it and saw that the dials remained dark. No magic detected whatsoever.

“It’s agent, not officer,” he said. “But you can call me Alejandro.”

“Call me Rose,” she responded, and an intriguing hint of pink appeared on her cheeks.

Hawaii can be dark and dangerous ....

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Seeking military connections for article to celebrate Armed Forces Appreciation Month



Aloha! Joyce Lamb from USA Today/HEA Book Blog has graciously agreed to publish an article about romance authors, bloggers, and readers with military connections in celebration of Armed Forces Appreciation Month in May.

Actually, I am going to break it down to four articles:

- May 7: Military Brats
- May 14: Military Spouses
- May 21: Military Veterans
- May 28: Friends of military families (including all relatives of military personnel)

If you are a miltiary brat, spouse, and/or veteran, I would appreciate a short blurb to detail your favorite and/or life changing experience from your interface with the military. You are welcome to submit a blurb for each category that applies (i.e., I am a veteran and spouse).

If you are "Friends of Military Families", i.e., have sent packages to deployed personnel, greeted deployed personnel at the airport, volunteered with military families, etc., I would appreciate a short blurb to detail how your support impacted your life.

I will publish all blurbs on my blog, SOS Aloha during the corresponding week. From the blurbs, I will select a sample to include in my articles for Joyce.

Please also include one social media contact - website, Facebook, and/or Twitter - for me to include with your blurb.

Deadline is one week before publication (see schedule above) to sos.aloha@yahoo.com.

Thank you in advance for your support of military families.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City


Aloha to Patience Bloom and ROMANCE IS MY DAY JOB

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How many of us romance fans thought it would be awesome to be a romance editor?   Patience Bloom offers a glimpse in her memoir, ROMANCE IS MY DAY JOB:

Who knows the ins and outs of romance better than a Harlequin editor? A surprising and exhilarating look into Patience Bloom’s unexpected real-life love story.

At some point, we’ve all wished romance could be more like fiction. Patience Bloom certainly did, many times over. As a teen she fell in love with Harlequin novels and imagined her life would turn out just like the heroines’ on the page: That shy guy she had a crush on wouldn’t just take her out—he’d sweep her off her feet with witty banter, quiet charm, and a secret life as a rock star. Not exactly her reality, but Bloom kept reading books that fed her reveries.

Years later she moved to New York and found her dream job, editing romances for Harlequin. Every day, her romantic fantasies came true—on paper. Bloom became an expert when it came to fictional love stories, editing amazing books and learning everything she could about the romance business. But her dating life remained uninspired. She nearly gave up on love.

Then one day a real-life chance at romance made her wonder if what she’d been writing and editing all those years might be true. A Facebook message from a high school friend, Sam, sparked a relationship with more promise than she’d had in years. But Sam lived thousands of miles away—they hadn’t seen each other in more than twenty years. Was it worth the risk?

Finally, Bloom learned: Love and romance can conquer all.

I am giving away a print copy of ROMANCE IS MY DAY JOB to one randomly selected commenter.  To enter the giveaway,

1.  Leave a comment about your dream job.

2.  Comments are open through Saturday, April 19, 10 pm in Baltimore.  

3.  I'll post the winner on Sunday, April 20 - Easter.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City

To learn more about Patience and her writings, check out her blog at romanceismydayjob.wordpress.com.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Weekly Winners



We have winners at SOS Aloha:

Nancy Lee Badger's MY LADY HIGHLANDER
- Chey wins an ecopy from Nancy.



Jennifer McQuiston's MOONLIGHT ON MY MIND
- Melody, Molly, Cathy, and Debby win print copies courtesy of Avon Romance.

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Winners, please claim your book by sending your mailing address to sos.aloha@yahoo.com.

Mahalo,

Kim in Baltimore
Aloha Spirit in Charm City