Saturday Spotlight – The Duchess and the Highwayman by Beverly Oakley

Banner The Duchess and the HighwaymanThe Duchess and the Highwayman

By Beverley Oakley

 Beverley is giving away a $10 Amazon Gift Certificate and an eBook The Mysterious Governess.to randomly drawn winners via rafflecopter during the tour. Please use the RaffleCopter below to enter. Remember you may increase your chances of winning by visiting the other tour stops. You may find those locations here.

 BLURB:

 A duchess disguised as a lady’s maid; a gentleman parading as a highwayman.

She’s on the run from a murderer, he’s in pursuit of one…

In a remote Norfolk manor, Phoebe, Lady Cavanaugh is wrongfully accused by her servants of her brutal husband’s murder.

There’s little sympathy in the district for the duchess who’s taken a lover and made clear she despised her husband. The local magistrate has also vowed revenge since Lady Cavanaugh rebuffed his advances.

When Phoebe is discovered in the forest wearing only a chemise stained with the blood of her murdered husband, she persuades the noble ‘highwayman’ who rescues her that she is Lady Cavanaugh’s maidservant.

Hugh Redding has his own reasons for hunting down the man who would have Phoebe tried and hanged for murder. He plans to turn ‘the maidservant with aspirations above her station’ into the ‘lady’ who might testify against the very villain who would see Phoebe dead.

… Despite the fierce attraction between Phoebe and the ‘highwayman’, Phoebe is not in a position to admit she’s the ‘murderous duchess’ hunted across the land.

Seizing an opportunity to strike at the social and financial standing of the man who has profited by her distress, Phoebe is drawn into a dangerous intrigue.

… When disaster strikes, she fears Hugh will lack the sympathy or understanding of her unusual predicament to even want to save her a second time.

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The Duchess and the Highwayman imageExcerpt:

 She was astonished by the stab of feeling his amused and interested gaze unleashed within her. Her nipples hardened and she felt an instant heat in her lower belly that surely wasn’t just gratitude for the dress he’d paid for. Tempering her smile she looked away. It was a relief she was still capable of warm feelings for a man but she mustn’t allow herself to grow too fond of him. He was a means to an end.

“Well, together we shall prevail, Phoebe.” They’d reached the window embrasure where he put his finger beneath her chin and tipped her head. “I was thinking long and hard about what you said the other day.” At her inquiringly look he added, “That the way to bring Wentworth down would be discover what he most wanted.”

“I already told you what he most wants. The estate he’s inherited through murder.”

“And you plan to return to Blinley Manor to spy on him, is that right?”

She shook her head, suddenly afraid. “I can’t possibly go into company where he might recognise me.”

Mr Redding frowned. “But the new dress. I thought that was your very intention. I thought you planned to pretend to be a lady -”

“A lady, yes, but not …” She trailed off, miserable and fearful.

“You are very loyal to your mistress, aren’t you, Phoebe?” His tone softened. “Yet, despite your boldness, you’re doubting your abilities, aren’t you?” He drew her unexpectedly against him and his hands contoured her curves, skimming up and over the fine muslin before cupping her face. “Don’t worry, Phoebe, I shall be your tutor?”

“My tutor?” She pulled away, not liking the change in him. “I am not as easy as you might suppose, Mr Redding,” she ground out, fighting the urge to cry. Just when she’d begun to like and trust him he’d reverted to type.

He put his hands on her shoulders. “I’m curious. You pretend you’re an innocent, but you clearly have experience of men. You speak and behave like a lady. Who are you really, Phoebe?”

She felt her mouth drop open and didn’t know how to answer. She wasn’t ready to confess her identity when she wasn’t sure enough of Mr Redding.

“Were you trading on past experience to be so beguiling when you desired a new dress? Were you a rich man’s mistress, perhaps?”

Phoebe hung her head. That’s exactly what she’d been and her body language and silence seemed to confirm it in Mr Redding’s mind.

“So once you had a rich protector but now you’re a lady’s maid?”

Unable to look him in the eye, she nodded, tears threatening.

“And now I am your protector and am funding a new wardrobe.”

She gasped and jerked her head up. “So this is when you ask me to sleep with you?”

He shook his head. “Not if the idea is so repugnant. No, I promised a fair trade: your information to bolster a case against Wentworth.” His voice dropped as his eyes travelled over her, lingering on her décolletage which, for the first time, was shown to best advantage thanks to the stays the dressmaker had procured in a hurry. “I still hold out hope I might persuade you of my inherent charm, though.”

“Well, you can hope in vain, Mr Redding. I may have lost my virtue but not my dignity.”

He put out his hand slowly, as if coaxing a small animal and Phoebe watched his seeking fingers gently skim the puffed roulade of her sleeve before advancing across her shoulder towards her bared skin. Anticipation rose and she sucked in a shallow breath as he slowly contoured the edge of her gown, skimming the top of her breasts.

“I know you’ve felt more than just a passing interest in me, from the moment we met, Phoebe,” he whispered. His hand dipped beneath the fabric of her bodice and she gasped, unsure whether to resist or succumb.

By God, but he was making this difficult. She’d wanted any encounter of a physical nature to be on her terms if only to prove she was not the weak creature she’d always been with Wentworth.

Swallowing, she suddenly pulled away, saying in as disinterested voice as she could manage, “What news of the murder at the manor? You were out on horseback in the village this morning, were you not?”

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Author Info:

 Beverley Oakley was seventeen when she bundled up her first her 500+ page romance and sent it to a publisher. Unfortunately drowning her heroine on the last page was apparently not in line with the expectations of romance readers so Beverley became a journalist.

Twenty-six years later Beverley was delighted to receive her first publishing contract from Robert Hale (UK) for a romance in which she ensured her heroine was saved from drowning in the icy North Sea.

Since 2009 Beverley has written more than thirteen historical romances, mostly set in England during the early nineteenth century. Mystery, intrigue and adventure spill from their pages and if she can pull off a thrilling race to save someone’s honour – or a worthy damsel from the noose – it’s time to celebrate with a good single malt Scotch.

Beverley lives with her husband, two daughters and a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy the size of a pony opposite a picturesque nineteenth century lunatic asylum. She also writes Africa-set adventure-filled romances tarring handsome bush pilot heroes, and historical romances with less steam and more sexual tension, as Beverley Eikli.

You can get in contact with Beverley at:

website | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Goodreads

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#AuThursday – Beverley Oakley

beverley-eikli-author-pic-copy

I was born in the tiny African mountain Kingdom of Lesotho, which is land-locked by South Africa. When I was small I emigrated with my family to South Australia where we built a two-story mud brick home and planted 25,000 trees in the wine-producing Clare Valley before I returned to Africa in my 20’s – this time to Botswana’s Okavango Delta – to manage a safari lodge. There I met and married a handsome Norwegian bush pilot who took me to live and work in 12 countries before we settled, a few years ago, in Melbourne, Victoria.

I write fulltime in between teaching creative writing interspersed with communications and marketing contracts, mainly for the Victorian government.

How do you make time to write?

I have to work hard at the discipline. When I was writing for traditional publishers I was given deadlines but now that I self publish, mostly, I have to make my own deadlines. Often that’s locking myself into a pre-order which usually ends with me burning the candle at both ends – such as now when trying to finish my work in progress, Devil’s Run. I still have at least 10,000 words to write in less than a week!

What genre are your books?

I used to call them straight historical Regencies or Victorian-set romances. Now, however, I find that there are multiple layers of plot and either mystery and intrigue with, quite often, a lovely, honourable hero and a heroine who has a blemished past or who is spoiled or needs redeeming in some way. I don’t consciously set out to write noble heroes and heroines in need of redeeming with either a wicked villain or a vain anti-heroine in the wings, but there’s often a version of that set-up.

So my books aren’t for readers who like a straight, sweet and uncomplicated historical. My biggest series – Daughters of Sin – is like a Regency-set soap opera with four different sisters – 2 illegitimate, 2 nobly born – lots of rivalry, double-dealing, mystery, a wicked rake being pursued for traitorous activities, and so on. I recently wound up the series with book 5, Lady Unveiled: the Cuckold’s Conspiracy, but intend to do a spin-off series of the various children – legitimate, illegitimate, secret, swapped and stolen – who have resulted from the five books in this series.

What draws you to this genre?

The inequalities between genders and the social divide, as well as the clothes and the manners. There’s so much scope for desperation to override good judgement and other rich plot possibilities when there’s not the social safety net that we take for granted today where no one starves and or doesn’t get treated at a hospital. (At least, that’s the case where I live in Australia so I let my imagination take me to another century when people couldn’t take health and not starving for granted.)

What are your current projects?

I’m nearly finished book 3 in my Beautiful Brazen Brightwell series. It’s called Devil’s Run about a young woman whose dying aunt may or may not leave her a fortune so she makes a wager to marry this betting man, both of them having very different motivations for wanting the marriage to go ahead (all about a horse) except that love gets in the way.

Are you an Introvert or Extravert?

Introvert.  How does this affect your work? I’ve forced myself to do author talks and, as I love making historical costumes, it’s less intimating to do an author talk dressed in a 1780s polonaise as I can then pretend I’m someone else.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Porridge to get me going for breakfast, a glass of wine to spur me on after dinner and sometimes chocolate in between. I have very different writing schedules and as my husband is away in Singapore for six weeks at the moment and I’m between government contracts (plus it’s school holidays) I can write around the clock if I want – and as my next deadline draws near I have in fact got to work after waking at 4am.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Never give up.

Where can readers find you on the World Wide Web?

www.beverleyoakley.com

Do you have a sexy excerpt you’d like to share with us?

I just grabbed this paragraph from my unfinished work in progress, Devil’s Run:

Perhaps in the glow of moonlight he saw the spark in her eye that reflected his own feelings. Whatever it was, something in his expression flared. There was a split second of arrested awareness before a subtle shifting in the mood between them, then the sharp excitement of melding bodies, arms entwined and mouths unexpectedly fused in a kiss. The jolt of something come to life within her sent Eliza into the abyss, her mind a mass of coalescing thoughts, her body a jumble of nerve endings.

Thanks so much for having me, Tina.

You are welcome Beverley!   Join me on Saturday when we read a post for Beverley’s Blog Tour! 

Banner The Duchess and the Highwayman

This interview was scheduled by: 

 

Saturday Excerpt- Updrift by Erinn Stevens

UPDRIFT Icon 200 x 300(From chapter 6 in Updrift)

The normally tranquil Blake household had transformed into an upscale frat house of sorts with the presence of more than a dozen truly beautiful young men. They were everywhere, milling around and lounging, looking as if a modeling agency had sent them over for a retro, Ivy League fashion shoot. Every single one of them oozed charm, vitality, and—Kate could think of no better word for it—virility. Several stood around a flat screen television to watch qualifying races for the U.S. Olympic men’s swim team. They seemed amused.

She stood wide-eyed inside the front door, not sure she wanted to navigate this group to find Carmen. Maybe she could just hand off the envelope and apologize later to her for being in a hurry. Her greeter closed the door behind her, however. The sound startled her. What happened next unnerved her.

“Hi, I’m Luke Hokeman.” The door opener extended his hand. “Catherine Sweeting,” she replied. She had no idea why she gave her formal name, which was used almost exclusively by her mother when she was in trouble. In fact, she felt like she was in trouble. She mustered up enough bravado to extend her hand.

Instead of shaking it as she expected, Luke turned it so he held it almost to his chest, and she panicked as she thought he might raise her hand to his lips. Did guys still do that? He placed his other hand gently around her wrist, she could swear to God, to check her pulse. “Are you home for summer break from college, Catherine?” He smiled. Distracted and more than a little terrified, she dropped her envelope, which attracted a different man to her side, bending to retrieve it. Yet another of the party came to stand behind her, placing his hand proprietarily at the small of her back. “Come in and sit down.” She broke out into a sweat.

“Hoke, Libby, Gins—back off and give the poor girl some air.” Kate felt weak with relief as she saw Gabe bounding lightly down the stairs. “Hi, Kate.”

He took her hand from Luke and tucked it through his arm, a gesture that would have been remarkable and strange in any other situation. He grabbed her envelope and led them firmly away from the front door and its trio of male sirens. “And no, she’s not home from college, Hoke,” Gabe threw over his shoulder. “She’s seventeen, which is I think what you were getting at. Too young for yo-oo-oo-ou,” he sang, grinning down at Kate.

Join me next week, when we meet another author. ~Tina

Saturday Excerpt – Bast’s Warrior by Janet Walters

basts-warriorChapter 1

Tira wanted three things in life and she had little chance of gaining any of them. She wanted to be financially independent. She wanted to go to Egypt and study the ancient ruins. And she wanted her sister to stop using drugs.

The last desire brought memories of this morning’s quarrel.  The money squirreled away to see them through the rest of the month was gone. “Luci, why?”

“You don’t understand,” Luci screamed.

True. She didn’t understand why her sister needed to escape into a drugged stupor instead of studying and working to step onto the road leading from the slums. Tira’s hands stung with the memory of slapping her sister. And the words she’d shouted as she slammed out of the apartment echoed in her thoughts. “I hate you. I wish you were dead.” A shudder rumbled through her body. She hadn’t meant those words. As soon as she reached the apartment she would tell Luci.

With a sigh she turned back to the museum display. The Egyptian artifacts awed her. For a short time she allowed the beauty of the objects to carry her into dreams of pyramids and temples, of gods and pharaohs and of digging in the earth to uncover treasures of the past.

The dream hovered beyond her grasp. Her chances of gaining a position on a dig in Egypt were slim. Positions were avidly sought by students who had chosen the right colleges and the right professors. Those choices had been beyond her financially. She sucked in a breath. Instead of adventure, when the summer ended, she would take her place in front of a classroom teaching history at an inner city high school.

A glance at her watch said dreamtime was over. She had to reach the apartment in time to change for her evening shift at a restaurant several blocks from the cramped fifth floor efficiency she shared with her older sister. Once again, flash moments from the morning’s quarrel exploded in Tira’s thoughts. She’d been so upset she’d missed her morning martial arts session at the local center.

Tira cast her dreaming self aside and donned the role of practical sister. She hurried to the exit and stepped from the past into a steamy August day. Heat shimmered from the sidewalk. The air hung heavy and filled with the odors of the city and the noises of traffic. She strode along the crowded area taking advantage of every opening.

Ten days to dream. Ten days to walk the halls of the museum. Ten days to study the artifacts that had become her lodestones.She breathed the aromas of real time, spices of cooking foods, metallic scents of passing traffic and the odors of people, some pleasant and some not.

Several blocks from the apartment building the crowds thinned. In an alley she glimpsed furtive movements in the dark shadows. She hurried past. On the corner across the street a group of gang members gathered. She sucked in a breath and held her head high. For all her twenty three years she’d avoided the gangs. As she strode past she heard the usual crude remarks about her body and her attitude.

Get a life, she wanted to scream.

When she saw the ambulance and two cop cars in front of the building where she lived she halted so abruptly she stumbled. A hand caught her arm. Tira saw the gray-streaked beard of one of the winos who slept in the doorways or the alley. “Get your hands off me.”

“Don’t go home,” he whispered. “Lose yourself in the crowd and keep your head down.”

She saw a keen intelligence in the man’s dark eyes. Who was he? He wasn’t as old as she had imagined either. “Why?”

“Your sister’s dead. Cops’ll be looking for you. They heard about the fight.”

Tira’s stomach clenched. She blinked away a rush of tears. Though hearing about her sister’s death wasn’t unexpected another dream shattered. There would be no rehab for Luci. “Junkies O.D. every day,” she said.

“She was murdered.”

A chill slithered down Tira’s spine. A rush of acid burned her throat. What? Why? Who? Keeping her eyes on the ground she inched away from him.

“Murder. Murder.” The murmured word spread through the crowd gathered on the sidewalk and stung like attacking wasps.

The EMTs wheeled a gurney from the building. When Tira saw the body bag strapped to the frame her nails bit into her palms. Despite the heat of the day she felt chilled. A wave of guilt made her knees buckle. She stuffed her fist against her mouth to keep from crying aloud.

What now, she wondered. The apartment was a crime scene. Until the cops finished their investigation she wouldn’t be allowed inside. An officer stepped from the building. “More along, folks. There’s nothing to see here.” He stepped from the stoop. “Anyone seen her sister? We have some questions for her.”

Join me next week when we meet another author. ~Tina

Saturday Excerpts by Nicole Evelina

Daughter of Destiny eBook Cover LargeFrom Daughter of Destiny

Prologue

 

I am Guinevere.

I was once a queen, a lover, a wife, a mother, a priestess, and a friend. But all those roles are lost to me now; to history, I am simply a seductress, a misbegotten woman set astray by the evils of lust.

This is the image painted of me by subsequent generations, a story retold thousands of times. Yet, not one of those stories is correct. They were not there; they did not see through my eyes or feel my pain. My laughter was lost to them in the pages of history.

I made the mistake of allowing the bards to write my song. Events become muddled as ink touches paper, and truth becomes malleable as wax under a flame. Good men are relegated to the pages of inequity, without even an honest epitaph to mark their graves.

Arthur and I were human, no more, no less, though people choose to see it differently. We loved, we argued, we struggled, all in the name of a dream, a dream never to be fulfilled. Camelot is what fed the fires that stirred us to do as we did. History calls it sin, but we simply called it life.

The complexity of living has a way of shielding one’s eyes from the implications of one’s role. That is left for others to flesh out, and they so often manipulate it to suit their own needs. To those god-awful religious, I have become a whore; Arthur the victim of a fallen Eve; Morgan, a satanic faerie sent to lead us all astray. To the royalty, we have become symbols of the dreams they failed to create and Arthur is the hero of a nation, whereas to me, he was simply a man. To the poor, we are but a legend, never flesh and blood, a haunting story to be retold in times of tribulation, if only to inspire the will to survive.

We were so much more than mute skeletons doomed to an eternity in dust and confusion. We were people with a desire for life, a life of peace that would be our downfall. Why no one can look back through the years and recognize the human frailty beneath our actions, I will never understand. Some say grace formed my path; others call it a curse. Whatever it was, I deserve to be able to bear witness before being condemned by men who never saw my face.

It ends now. I will take back my voice and speak the truth of what happened. So shall the lies be revealed and Camelot’s former glory restored. Grieve with me, grieve for me, but do not believe the lies which time would sell. All I ask is that mankind listen to my words, and then judge me on their merit.

 

From Been Searching for You:Been Searching for You eBook Cover Large

To Whom It May Concern,

I think I wronged the love goddess in a previous life. How else do you explain that I’ve written you so many letters yet we’ve still not met? Everyone I know is either married or in a committed relationship, and here I am, pen in hand, writing to someone I can’t even prove exists.

There’s an old Chinese folktale that says soul mates are connected from birth by an invisible red thread and that they can feel one another’s emotions, no matter the distance. It is this connection that eventually enables them to find one another. I believe it too.

As I write, I find myself trying to imagine your face, grasping at flashes of memory from dreams, wondering what name to voice in my prayers that you will soon be by my side. The irony is that by the time you read this, the color of your eyes will be second nature to me and your name will roll off my tongue as easily as my sister’s.

So please, my unknown love, hold tight to your red cord and follow it like a lifeline into the safe harbor of my arms.

“Are you ready yet, birthday girl?” Mia’s impatient voice broke through my romantic reverie, scattering my lovelorn thoughts.

“Almost,” I yelled back as I scanned what I had written. I wanted to say so much more, but Mia wouldn’t wait. But there was one more thought I couldn’t let go unsaid.

I just want you to know that I haven’t given up on you. I don’t trust easily, but I trust in you. I’m still waiting, though not so patiently anymore.

All my love,

Annabeth

The note was short compared to other years’ letters, but it would be after midnight when we returned home, so this would have to be enough. My one rule in this long-standing tradition—I’d been writing these letters since I was sixteen—was that the letter to my soul mate had to be written on my actual birthday. I folded the paper, slipped it inside the matching envelope, and licked the flap, then I pressed down to seal it.

Mia stuck her head in the door just as I drew the big numeral on the front. It matched my age—thirty-four. She shook her head, making her flaming tresses bounce. “You and your letters. If you two don’t meet soon, he’s going to have to buy an extra plane ticket on your honeymoon just for that box.” She nodded toward the big square hatbox that functioned as a hope chest for my letters to my future husband.

I slipped the newest letter in front, envelope awaiting further decoration. “Yes, but it’s romantic, don’t you think?”

“For a young girl, maybe, but you’re well past that, hon.” Her tone softened when I made a face. “You’ve got plenty of declarations of love. Maybe this should be the last one. You know, new year, new traditions?” She held up a shot glass filled with golden liquid. “Come on. We need to get this party started.”

Still scowling, I took the glass and downed the tequila with a small shiver. “If you say so.”

As I locked up, I cast one last glance at the box on my desk. She had a point about growing up, but I had no intention of giving up my beloved letters. It was only one each year, and it meant something to me. Those weren’t just letters; together, they were my gift to my future husband. Old-fashioned? Maybe, but it was me. Anyone who wanted to marry me would appreciate that. I smiled with a sudden thought. It was good I didn’t want to marry Mia.

If you are in the Chicago area today, Nicole will be signing at the The Spring Fling 2016.  Book signing will take place on Saturday, May 21st from 3-5pm at the Hyatt Regency in Schaumburg, IL.   ~Tina

 

Saturday Excerpt – A Highland Ruby by Brenda B. Taylor

AHighlandRubyHe dozed and dreamed of Flora in the emerald gown again. Now her waist-length hair matched the deep red color of the large ruby hanging from a gold chain. The ruby and gold glinted in shards of green light flashing around her and in her eyes. How lovely she appeared, with flawless white skin, ruby-red hair, and eyes to match the emerald gown. Gavin’s heart near burst with her beauty. While he watched, Flora removed the ruby from her neck, dipped the stone three times in a crystal goblet of clear water. The water turned red as the ruby.

She held the goblet out to him. “Take this and drink. The ruby’s water will drive the evil away and make you weel.”

“Aye. I desire to be well.” Gavin reached for the beautiful crystal chalice now filled with red water.

Just as his hand touched the chalice, a large boot kicked his foot. Flora disappeared with the red, healing water. Gavin’s eyes popped open. He remained still, grabbing the sgian dubh from his boot with one hand and the pistol from his belt with the other.

 

Join me next week when we meet author Linda Rae Sande!  ~Tina

 

 

 

 

Saturday Excerpt – Wayward Soul by Glenn Maynard

Wayward Soul front coverExcerpt from Wayward Soul:

“I bet you have your hands tied with twin boys,” Brenda said.

Wendy made a whistling sound, tilting her head forward so her

hair flopped out of her bun and hung where her face had been. She

then flipped her head back until her face returned, and her eyes

grew in size. “Let’s just say it’s a full-time job.” Wendy looked

down at the boys who were just sitting and giggling quietly in their

chairs as they played patty cake, unaware that the conversation

was now on to them. “It was an extremely difficult birth.” She

glanced over to the twins again as she said this.

“She almost didn’t make it,” Carl broke in.

“I made it, though,” Wendy replied. “They are identical twins,

if you couldn’t tell. Billy and Willy. The only way that we can tell

them apart is that Billy has a bottom tooth that is slightly

crooked.”

“They’re twins and you named them Billy and Willy?” Carter

asked. Brenda then shot him a look. His follow-up question earned

him an elbow to the ribs. “Isn’t that the same name?”

“No,” said Carl. “One is Billy and the other is Willy.”

“Yeah, but they’re both a nickname for William,” Carter said.

Brenda’s look evolved into a laser. She could not believe Carter

was having this conversation, but he just wanted to know the

reason they named their twins virtually the same thing.

“We don’t look at it like that,” said Wendy. “We look at it like

Billy and Willy are two different names, and you’re actually the

only one to challenge us on it.” She laughed a short laugh.

“Those names are adorable,” Brenda said. “Just look at them

playing Patty Cake.”

Carter watched them interacting, then said, “Hi Billy and

Willy!”

The clock in the room seemed to stop. Billy and Willy still had

their hands connected, but they both turned to look at the man

who just called out their names. Carter looked around at the

others at the table, but all eyes were on Billy and Willy.

He wasn’t even getting a smile out of the twins. They appeared

to be sizing Carter up. They were staring right into his eyes

without as much as a blink. Carter noticed that everything about

them was the same; everything, including their blue eyes and

blonde hair, right down to the bowl-cut trim. Head shape: check.

Eye shape: check. Body size and shape: check and check.

Personality: check. Hell, even name: check.

Nothing was different. Carter was a bit taken aback, and smiled

out of nervousness. Finally the tension of the room dissipated

when the twins smiled back at Carter. Their wide grins were cute,

but they also revealed identical smiles. Missing was the identifying

bottom tooth. Carter could not find one difference between the

two.

Join me next Thursday as we meet author Brenda B. Taylor. 

~Tina