Saturday, May 28, 2016

#Cover #Reveal. . .Kissing the Bride


Today is the cover reveal for Kissing the Bride by Tracey Alvarez. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

Kissing the Bride
Kissing the Bride (Due South #7.5)

By Tracey Alvarez
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Age category: Adult
Release Date: June 24, 2016

The countdown is on to the Wedding of the Year, New Zealand!

It’s seven days until Shaye Harland and Del Westlake finally tie the knot—and it’ll be the most awesomesauce wedding Stewart Island has ever seen if Shaye has anything to do with it. Her All Things Nuptial journal has the big day planned to perfection, but not everything runs like clockwork. While marrying the man of her dreams beats chocolate as an Easter treat, a few mini-catastrophes like Boris the obstinate sea lion threaten to ruin their special day.

WARNING: If you’re new to the Due South world, this fun and sexy short story of Del & Shaye’s wedding isn’t the book to start with. Lots of favorite characters join in the wedding craziness—and if you haven’t read the earlier Due South books it’ll just be crazy-confusing.

You can find Kissing the Bride on Goodreads

You can pre-order Kissing the Bride here:
- iTunes

Other books in the series:
Book 1: In Too Deep (Currently FREE)
Book 2: Melting Into You (Currently FREE)
Book 3: Ready To Burn
Book 4: Christmas With You
Book 5: My Forever Valentine
Book 6: Playing For Fun
Book 7: Drawing Me In

Book 1: In Too Deep (Currently FREE)Book 2: Melting Into You (Currently FREE)Book 3: Ready To BurnBook 4: Christmas With YouBook 5: My Forever ValentineBook 6: Playing For FunBook 7: Drawing Me In

Tracey Alvarez
About the Author:

Fuelled by copious amounts of coffee, Tracey Alvarez writes steamy but heart-warming contemporary romances set in New Zealand. Her two series, DUE SOUTH and FAR NORTH, both focus on small coastal towns, close communities, and family.

You can find and contact Tracey here:
- Amazon

There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Kissing the Bride. There will be 3 winners who each win an e-copy of the DUE SOUTH Boxed Set containing the first 5 Due South books by Tracey Alvarez.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:

Brought to You By:

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Don't be UNdressed.  Get Covered!

Friday, May 27, 2016

#Cover #Reveal. . .Kissing

Ellie Brixton
Publication date: June 14, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

I was always the good girl.

Then when the pressure became too much, I took off and found me a bad boy.

Niko. The hot, British rock star and frontman of the Halos.

He took my angel wings and gave me a lot of things, well, everything but the Big O.

And fidelity.

So with my #fail in hand, I did the worst thing imaginable.

I went home. The insta-nagging, criticism, and impossible expectations reminded me why my life #sucked—the reason I left in the first place.

Well, everything was the same except for JQ, my high school crush. With a snug T-shirt and jeans that fit in all of the right places, it looks like he became man and maybe it was time for me to become a woman.

#Kissing is a sexy, rock star romance for new adult, college, and contemporary romance readers who enjoy love stories with an HEA.

Author Bio:

Ellie Brixton is a unicorn by day and an author by night. She's a firm believer in eating dessert first and fancies herself a cookie connoisseur. Although she runs five miles every day, she wishes for a 1959 Cadillac convertible, in pink of course. This is her first novel.

Brought to You By:

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Don't Be UNdressed. . .Get Covered!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

#Author #Interview. . .No Longer a Child of Promise

Proudly Presents. . .A Book Blitz
Featuring Author, Amanda Farmer

No Longer A Child of Promise

By Amanda Farmer

Genre: Nonfiction, Family

Publisher: Archway Publisher

Book Description:

This sequel to If You Leave This Farm chronicles the life adventures of this young Mennonite lady who, after choosing to walk away from her father’s farm at age 29, is now free to make her own choices as an adult. Amanda shares the joy of discovering the world away from the farm, of falling in love, and about her decision to eventually leave the Mennonite church. But that freedom and joy is tainted by the continuing intertwined and overpowering conflicts that result from unspoken and unresolved expectations in her family of origin. 

With an engaging style, Amanda provides an honest glimpse into her roller coaster journey of hope and love alternating with pain, hurt and bitterness as a result of misplaced familial values, favoritism, and the effect of the ultimate rejection – disinheritance by her parents. 

No Longer a Child of Promise vividly portrays the struggle in one woman’s heart to grasp the meaning of forgiveness, to experience triumph and acceptance in her personal journey, and to eventually release the all-consuming pain of rejection in her heart to God.


Pappy and Mama left yesterday. I groan when the alarm goes off. It has been a long time since I crawled out of bed at four o’clock in the morning. I have still been coming every other weekend or so to help milk and take care of the calves, but I don’t usually get up until six o’clock. I let Pappy, Paul, and whatever hired man they might have at the moment do the getting up early. The deliciousness of sleep has begun to erode my guilt-induced drive to continue to try to prove my worth as a good daughter and sister. Ultimately, the only reason I am here this week is that I still believe that the ticket to any acceptance in this family is based on my willingness to contribute to the workload. 

The eastern sky is starting to lighten as I begin the milking chores. Just like old times. The smell of freshly mown hay hangs in the still morning air and touches my nostrils as I walk to the house after milking. I stir up the usual oatmeal breakfast for Paul. I’m not really sure why I even agreed to do this. Since the departures of both Joe and me from the farm, Paul pretty much ignores me. He acts like I am in the way. He talks to me in grunts and only when truly necessary. We eat breakfast in silence, and then he is gone. 

As I wash the dishes, I hear the tractor come roaring around by the garage. The baler is hooked behind and ready to go. Soon Paul’s tall, thin frame appears in the doorway. His green eyes are piercing, and his body is always in motion, radiating nervous energy.

“So are you going to drive the baler for me?” The words are thrown my way. 

I am startled by his impromptu request, but I am here to help so I nod. 

The sun beats upon my head as the tractor creeps along the disappearing row of sun-dried hay. I rock rhythmically back and forth as the machine gobbles up the fodder into its mouth and pounds it into little green bales. The baler then spits them out the back onto the ground. Paul speeds around behind me with the bale wagon, picking up the cow food for the winter and delivering it to the barn. Everything is still done at high speed. As we work, my thoughts wander. I wonder when he is going to get over being mad at me for leaving the farm. I wish we could just move on and be friends again. My face and arms turn a deep shade of brown from the mixture of sun and dirt. By one o’clock in the afternoon, we are both getting hungry so it is time to stop and make dinner.

Author Bio:
Amanda Farmer was born in Pennsylvania and moved with her family to Minnesota at age 16. She lived and worked on the farm until age 29. Amanda earned a master's degree in Nurse Anesthesia in 2007 and currently works in that profession. She enjoys reading, writing, and most any outdoor activity. She and her husband of 24 years live on a hobby farm in southeastern Minnesota. They have one college-age daughter, 2 cats, a dog, a multitude of fish, and once spent all their profit on 2 horses. All the animals were obtained in response to "P-l-e-a-se Mom!"

Chatting It Up with Author, Amanda Farmer:

1. What was it like growing up in the Mennonite Church?

My earliest memories are of gathering around the supper table in the evening and my father reading a passage of the Bible to us. Sometimes, we passed around a small box with scripture cards and we all chose one to read. Sunday morning was a time of frantic hurrying to get to church. It was impressed upon my brothers and I that going to church and worshipping God were central parts of our lives and expressions of our love for God. Dressing up in our Sunday best as a manifestation of “giving our best to God” was taught. The women all wore a white mess “covering” and a long dress fashioned so that an extra piece over the front helped to hide the shape of the woman. The men wore black hats and dress suits cut in a “plain” fashion rather than the “laid down” style of outsiders. Worship was expressed through acapella four-part singing. The harmonious raising of a hundred voices together has to be the most enjoyable sound this side of heaven.

I loved Sunday school and there I learned the stories in the Bible and about God’s unconditional love for us. During the summer, there was Vacation Bible School. Once a year, our church held “revival meetings.” These meetings consisted of nightly services that lasted for a week. Different speakers were brought in and the way of salvation was proclaimed. Even as a young child I was moved by these services and they highly influenced me. Even today, when I hear the song, Just As I Am, that goes like this, “just as I am without one plea, but that thy blood was shed for me, and that thou bidd’st me come to Thee, Oh Lamb of God, I come!” I am deeply moved and the stirrings of those days come back to me.

One day, when I was 9 years old, I came upon by oldest brother and my father kneeling by a hay bale in the manger of the dairy barn. My brother was crying as he said the sinner’s prayer with my father’s help. “I want to do that too,” I said. And so, that day, I officially accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior. I was baptized as a member of the Mennonite church at 10 years of age. I have fond memories of my years in the Mennonite faith as the people, over-all, are friendly, kind, and care deeply about each other. They are people just like everyone else with hopes and dreams and hurts and struggles.

Officially on the outside, I am no longer Mennonite but its various tentacles still intertwine within my life and soul. My attire these days is more likely to be a pair of jeans, a turtleneck, and a sweater and so, to the casual eye, I look much like any other Mid-Western American. But within my heart lies a significant remnant of identification with my past. I still believe that it is wrong to wear low-cut and tight fitting blouses and you will never catch me in a mini-skirt. Though I don’t believe it to be wrong anymore, I also don’t wear makeup or jewelry, except a wedding band, and my hairstyle has stayed very close to that of my childhood before I started wearing it up under the Mennonite covering. Why have I not changed those things, some would ask? My answer would be that I have no need to be hip and up on the Modern styles. I am comfortable not being like everyone else.

2. When did you know it was time for you to leave the Mennonite Church?

I will begin by quoting an excerpt from my book.

I look at myself in the mirror as I get ready to meet Gordon, my non-Mennonite date, on this hot, sunny Fourth of July in 1990. I have dressed in a shirt and culottes. My knee-length, never-cut hair is neatly braided into a single braid that dangles down my back. My covering still lies on the dresser. I have never gone out into public before with my hair down. It has always been neatly wrapped around my head and covered from the eyes of the world. My head feels light, and I feel naked. It feels strange to be walking out the door this way, but I am resolute in my decision.

The head covering signifies a woman’s acceptance of God’s order of leadership in the church as defined in I Corinthians 11:1–16 (KJV).

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God … Every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn … For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of man.

Not wearing the covering is a huge transgression against the beliefs of the Mennonite church, worthy of discipline. It is not that I have anything in particular against this symbol of submission to God, but I have decided that it is time to break away from the stigma of my family in this close-knit community. It is time to embrace the only chance I have of ever beginning my own family. Because I strongly believe that members should keep their promises to be faithful to the rules of the church, I have written a letter to the bishop of the Mennonite church, asking that my membership be withdrawn. I am 32 years old and up until this time in my life, I have spent my years living and committing myself to the Mennonite community.

I left the Mennonite community when I realized that because of the reputation of our family in the community, no reputable Mennonite young man would ever date me. Therefore, once I met a man outside of the community that I knew I could love as my life partner, a decision needed to be made. I left primarily because I wanted a chance at having a family and secondarily, to separate myself from the debilitating stigma placed upon us by our parents in this tight knit community.

3. Do you find yourself at peace having written your true story?

Writing my true story has been a journey of seeing my life through a different lens and yes, it has resulted in finding peace by the end of that journey.

4. I see you enjoy reading. What are some of your favorite books?

I do enjoy reading. At this time in my life, I read almost exclusively non-fiction books as I want to learn about how others deal with life’s challenges. All the fiction books seem “canned” and have the same happy endings. Some of the books I have read that I really enjoy are The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom, In the Land of the Blue Burqas by Kate McCord, and American Sniper by Chris Kyle.

5. Can you tell us, without giving too much away from No Longer a Child of Promise, what sets this novel apart from your first?

My first novel, If You Leave This Farm, details my story when I was actually living and working on the farm. It was my everyday life there before I was able to finally break away at the age of 30. The first book is more about physically escaping a controlling situation. No Longer a Child of Promise takes up where the first book left off. However, it has a different flavor in that it is more about the emotional, spiritual, and psychological struggle that ensues as I move forward with my life away from the farm. Though I am no longer involved in the day to day operation of the farm, a large part of the story still involves the emotional price and aftermath that affects me even years later as a result of making that decision to leave. The emphasis of No Longer a Child of Promise is on confronting the family dynamics that play out in a very dysfunctional family while simultaneously building a more functional productive life of my own.

6. What inspired you to write your life experiences?

I began writing these books ten years ago after a very stressful time during which the relationships in my family of origin totally fell apart. I was seeking to understand what happened to my family and why the decision of myself and my brother resulted in the outcome that ensued. I also realized that real life sometimes is stranger than fiction and provides lessons that others can learn from. I want my story to be an inspiration and a lesson to others.

7. How does your family feel about the decisions you’ve made?

It depends, at this point, on who is defined as my family. My family of origin, obviously, totaled turned against my younger brother and I as a result of our leaving the farm. The man I married, who I consider to be my family now, has supported me in my endeavor to write my story and to promote it.

8. Do you feel your decisions have helped strengthen your relationship with God?

Writing the books has been tremendously healing in my life and helpful in restoring what was sometimes a tenuous relationship with my God and Savior. I realize that I have been enormously blessed in life when looking back and that the struggle to love and forgive has made me a stronger person. I do believe that being faithful to my Lord throughout whatever trials and tribulations come our way will result in blessing from God.

9. Have you won any literary awards for your writing?

No, I have not won any official literary awards. The positive feedback from many who have read my books is reward enough.

10. Knowing that writing creates an outlet, what other factors do you get out of the grueling process?

I have a strong need to make a difference in the world and to impact others. As a rather quiet inhibited person, writing allows me to express my views and to tell stories that I would not otherwise be able to verbally share.

11. If you had an extra ticket to the theater and invited us along, what type of entertainment would we see?

Check out the Hallmark channel. Those are the kind of movies I would watch. I especially like movies such as “The Ultimate Gift” and “The Love Dare” which portray Godly values and offer a message to the viewer.

12. Other than nonfiction, do you have any plans to write any fictional stories?

Several people have suggested to me that I try to write fiction. I have no interest in writing fiction though I might consider a novel, at some point, based on the truth to tell the “rest of the story.


On Goodreads:

Brought to You By:

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

#Author #Interview with Ashley Terrell

Proudly Presents. . .An 'Author Interview'
Featuring, Ashley Terrell

Non Fiction / Self-Help / Memoir

Date Published: April 19, 2016

The city lights blind your amazement. The sound of the traffic challenges you to be alive. Families ask bystanders to make magic and capture the moment with photographs. Newly engaged couples seal their union by kissing under shooting stars while loving by crossing their hearts.

But if your heart was under arrest, wouldn't you want to embrace something to feel like others?

Go insider the world of one courageous sheep as she discovers that her heart was under attack by darkness. As she travels on a spiritual journey to understanding her purpose, overcoming the undertones of low confidence, self-acceptance, and the importance of inspiration, she rose against the odds with forgiveness and strengthening her faith.
Your past does not define your future.

In the dark, we do not have shadows.

In the light, we do.

Even me.

Even you.

Even sheep.

It is time out for hiding the scars and pain.

It is time out for disguising when we need help.

It is time to stand up and embrace yourself.

Regardless of violence.

Regardless of opinions.

Regardless of loneliness.

Regardless of beauty.

You are who you are.

Your future is what you want it to be.

You have a shadow. You have an identity.

Even black sheep have shadows.

God’s sheep are only black because society locks us in a room with the light off.

What’s going to make you determined

to turn the light on?

Here is my story.

Ashley Terrell is the founder of Stella Bistro Foods and Black Sheep Inc. Terrell is the host and co-director of Cooking with Stella (2016). She resides on the East Coast where she enjoys blissful sunsets and sounds of ocean waves.



1.     What can readers expect from reading The Black Sheep Shadow?     The Black Sheep Shadow carries elements of real life, I believe, many readers can relate to. I wanted to speak on matters and topics that media is fickle about discussing.
2.     Why is The Black Sheep Shadow an important story to tell?         The Black Sheep Shadow is an investment to save the next person that feel [or felt] how I did within my journey. I wanted readers to understand the bond we have with our physical actions, we normally don't observe.
3.     What professional affiliations do you belong?      The National Association of Professional Women (NAPW), Tidewater Builders Association and Family, Career, Community Leaders of America.
4.     How long have you been writing?     I have always had a love for writing. I began professionally writing at 19.
5.     I see you’re also a poet.  Do you find it easier to write poetry more so than writing a full fledge novel?    Poetry allows me the flexibility in my writing. Poetry allows more creativity to breed in my work.  I like writing novels and poetry. They're both fulfilling.
6.     What inspires you?   Breathing. There were a few seasons in my life I couldn't say that. Breathing inspired me. I wanted to discover what fresh air smelled like.
7.     Take our readers through a day and the life of Ashley Terrell.    A day and life .... A day, .. you may quit by lunch time. (laughs). The life? The Black Sheep Shadow ...
8.     What other interests do you have besides writing?   I love to cook. That is a part of my peace. In essence, I started Stella Bistro Foods, about a year ago. It has definitely gained momentum in a short amount of time.
9.     Who are some of your favorite authors?     Valorie Burton, John Maxwell, myself, and Steve Harvey.
10.  Where did you grow up and what was it like?   In the dark, you don't know where you are. You don't know too much of what is going on in the absence of light. HOW it felt made me stronger, though I contested at that time.
11.  If you were to take an individual to hang out, where would you take them?     To the beach. We will pack a cooler of food. Grab a backpack. Grab your journals. Grab a guitar and recorder. Don't forget your sunscreen, Kleenex and sunglasses.  Learn that a new day is on the horizon - sunscreen. Grasp that forgiveness is not a sign of weakness - it's a sign of strength - Kleenex. Allow the sunglasses to be your farewell - sunglasses. Your smile is 'cheers to new things' - new beginning.
12.  How do you relax after a stressful day?    After a stressful day, I breathe and I walk the halls of my house. Each room was materialistically empty [to me]. Though I had memories of rainy days, I smile because the rooms are filled. I look forward to [more] better days. I say 'Thank you, God. Thank you for keeping me' after my stressful day. With Him, it's not a stressful day, I believe I just need Him more on those days.

The Black Sheep Shadow Trailer

Brought to You By:

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer

So, What's YOUR Story?

Monday, May 23, 2016

#Book #Blitz. . . .Where's Sailor Jack?

Proudly Presents. . .A Book 'Blitz'
Featuring Author, John Uttley

Where's Sailor Jack? 

John Uttley

Publication Date: April 28, 2016

Publisher: Matador
ISBN: 9781785891724

Number of pages: 324

A family saga that takes in three generations of two families and all the struggles, tribulations and fireworks that you would expect as well as plenty you wouldn’t. Where’s Sailor Jack is the story of Bob Swarbrick’s journey from Northern-grammar-school-boy to business magnate through the break up of his marriage, the arrival of a new lover and an unhurried, consistent search for meaning in his life.

Bob and Richard are grammar school boys ‘done good’. Starting life in similar working class homes they have progressively climbed the ladder until they are able to both sit comfortably as champions of industry, and look back on their achievements and failures with the keen Northern wit that never left them, even after years of exile life in the south.

As they reflect on their lives, loves and business decisions both try to find an explanation to fit their lives: Bob seeks purpose, Richard meaning. While soul-searching, the reader is witness to an exemplary part of British history - from their childhoods in post war Northern England to the boom years in a prospering South (before survivors guilt starts to bite in their latter years and they wonder just how their opportunities would have worked out if they were born a few decades later).

The book covers and takes a unique look at romance, religion, business sense and social mobility but does so with wry tongue in its cheek whilst looking for a laugh, not a deep and meaningful conversation.

Chapter One

On a Sunday soon after his move north-west, Bob was flying high on Virgin, to LAX, as everyone but he knew Los Angeles airport was called. His last long-haul flight had been on Atomic Futures’ business in the bulkhead with British Airways. At over six foot and heavily built, he could make good use of the leg room. In an unflattering lavatory mirror, he saw receding, greying hair and many wrinkles above a jaw line a boxer could break a fist on. He’d never quite understood how his rugged looks had charmed the several-to-many women along the way. The seating arrangement in Virgin’s best seats made the cabin look like a beauty salon, but he’d played safe and eschewed the offer of an on-board facial. The Journey Information on the monitor told him there was about an hour of the flight to go, confirmed by something looking like the Grand Canyon out of the window, though it looked bleak enough to have been the surface of another planet.

He was trying not to sleep on the way out, nor to go to bed until at least ten o’clock Pacific Standard Time. He’d flicked between the films on the in-flight entertainment system, and found nothing he’d wanted. He’d then settled down to listen to some music, first Elvis, then Ray Charles and finally Abba, who’d bounced along merrily at first until a cold sweat told him that he was the loser standing small alongside seventies woman. He switched Agnetha off to pick up the book he’d brought, Ian McEwan’s Saturday, which he immediately put down again. His eyes were tired.

He reclined the chair to be alone with his musings on his return to Lancashire. Blackpool was making a good fist of doing itself up, despite New Labour lousing up the Las Vegas style casino scheme, not that he’d ever really wanted it. In the evenings, the place was alive with young ladies joyfully, sometimes even decorously, celebrating their hen nights with like-minded friends. The folk who lived in St Chad’s hadn’t changed that much. The young people at church had the same freshness that he’d once had, full of their multimedia world and excited about their opportunities, though the ladder had been pulled up since his day, leaving cows from the Fylde fields with more chance of going through the eye of a needle than any ordinary kid entering the kingdom of riches he’d inherited. Lancashire wasn’t at the centre of things the way it had been back then, with Blackpool the Mecca for comedians, Liverpool the capital of music, the mighty Granada television like a second BBC, and the Manchester Guardian thinking about what the world would do tomorrow. He saw The Guardian moving to London as an even bigger betrayal than John Lennon’s sleep-in.

The summer of 1963 with Freewheelin’ on his turntable and the Mersey sound on every radio was forever to remain his Archimedean point. Martin Luther King was dreaming his dream accompanied vibrato by Joan Baez and civil rights were coming. Bras weren’t being burnt though. Much later Jane challenged him with why not. He’d answered that women’s liberation hadn’t come out of nowhere. She’d generously agreed that it was only fair for apes like him to have had their day in the sun before the real business got done.

He’d had a vacation job in Stanley Park and that had given him an affinity with the old codgers from the Great War who came for the brass band concerts. Though they were sitting in God’s waiting room, they were cheerful, talking for hours about space travel and the like but not of course about their health problems or the trenches. He thought of his never-liberated Grannie who died at the start of the pivotal year. She’d make him green jelly with bananas whenever he went round as a kid and had knitted most of the jumpers he was still wearing through university after her death. His sister had in her kitchen the old milking stool from Grannie’s farm-girl days, with more than a thousand years of history stored in its battered wood. Like the religion his ancestors had shared, its purpose had been endorsed by the long passage of time. To lose either would be to lose his soul. He didn’t want to live so long that his memory of Grannie dimmed.

He was off to LA to discuss the possibility of him chairing a solar technology company, The Northern Solstice Inc., looking to be floated on AIM, the small companies’ part of the London Stock Exchange. He’d created a portfolio of non-executive chairmanships since his nuclear demise; nice work if you can get it, he’d say. He’d had surprising success given that he was temperamentally stuck somewhere between public and private sector. On one venture, he’d helped rescue a telecoms company after the dotcom bubble burst, which he’d then sold to a trade buyer, a conglomerate chaired by Sir Charles, for a huge profit, a month before the market fell again. He’d found that the private sector was about living on your wits rather than on solid ground.

He hadn’t much knowledge of solar economics or if it was such a good environmental thing. He hoped that this opportunity could provide some atonement for his past environmental sins. As a nuclear man, he’d never been a denier of the greenhouse effect. He knew how expensive nuclear had been but could see no better option despite his lingering doubts on waste disposal, weapons proliferation and operational balls-up issues. He was as antagonistic towards wind power as most power engineers and ornithologists were.

The invitation to LA had come from a woman he’d got to know at Black and Robertshaw, an accounting firm working out of Bristol whose corporate finance arm had handled the telecoms sale. They were advising on the Northern Solstice flotation, acting as Nomad – shorthand for nominated adviser. Wendy Ballinger was already in LA and he was to meet her the next day with the acting Chairman and the CEO.

In the arrivals hall, the driver arranged by Virgin was holding up his name. All upper class passengers could have a limo for up to an hour’s journey. Anaheim was in the band. He was stopping at the Stonehaven there, near to the Northern Solstice factory in Yorba Linda as well as close to Disney. Wendy was upmarket and uptown, staying at the Westin. His mobile beeped a message as he reached his room. Wendy wanted a word. He was desperate for the lavatory, but couldn’t prevent himself from ringing her first. As he waited for her to answer, her face appeared in front of him on the screen in his brain (not on his phone, that was an early, basic model), almost elegant, with a distinguished nose. Her blonde hair looked natural enough but did owe something to a bottle. He found her both friendly and competent, a pleasure to do business with. She was a while answering and his internal camera panned slowly downwards. In her early forties, married without children to an older man, her bosom was worthy of the name; her long legs went all the way to her not insubstantial bum. And she was intelligent. He should have thought of that first.

She had bad news, disclosed in pure, gentle, Gloucestershire tones that could have belonged to a sixth former. She’d been at a pre-meeting with the acting Chairman, a guy called Peter Forster, along with the CEO, Emil Fares. Forster was a hard-nosed South African who owned Forster Capital, the largest shareholder. He’d told Wendy that they didn’t want her to handle the listing as Black and Robertshaw had no market strength.

Bob wanted to ask if that meant he’d wasted his time coming out, and if somebody would be reimbursing his expenses, but realised he’d better sympathise first. She didn’t need that, believing that her firm, although not a strong broking house, had done a pretty good job. “No first division broker would handle such a small transaction,” she asserted. “And there’s so little time before the date they want to float that they’d like to take a look at you. They’ll also want to know if you’ve any other ideas as to who else could act as Nomad.”

“I’d have no idea. I wouldn’t want the job now anyway,” he said, honestly enough as Wendy was a big part of the attraction.

“That’s up to you, but I’d be grateful for my reputation if you could hear them out. Perhaps Divinity might do it. They’re pitching hard into renewables.”

Bob became more interested. “Fancy that. An old friend of mine from my nuclear days, Richard Shackleton, told me over a round of golf that he’d just joined Divinity Partners. He said it was about time the Godhead had some new blood. Do you know him?”

Wendy did know Richard, who she called a terrific bloke. “Hey, thee, me and him could make a great team if they’d have us,” Bob reckoned. “Can’t we get him to do the broking and you to be the Nomad?” Wendy doubted Forster would agree to that idea but was happy for Bob to try it on.

Bob was already looking forward to Richard joining them and started to tell Wendy about his daft ideas. “Like me, he doesn’t think metaphysics should be a dry study of what can and can’t be said, but a licence to think insanely. According to him, we can’t actually change anything physical and all events rigidly follow the laws of nature. But we are free to make whatever we want of what happens. I remember a flotation meeting with loads of advisers. We took time out to discuss Schrödinger’s cat, as you do. Richard…”

“As you and Richard do, you mean. Tell me about that some other time,” she interrupted. “George Coulson, the CFO, will be in the hotel lobby at nine o’clock to collect you. We’re meeting in Emil’s office at nine thirty.”

Having at last managed to have a pee, he unpacked his case, lining up one shirt and tie, his suit, a pair of socks and shoes for the morning. He put pyjamas on the pillow, soap bag and razor in the bathroom, Saturday and the alarm clock by his bed, before he had had a quick shower, drenching the bathroom floor. At a quarter past nine PST, twenty two hours since leaving his London flat, he went to bed.

He quickly went to sleep, only to wake with a start at about two o’clock, gasping for breath. The heavy quilt was over his head. He pulled the quilt halfway down the bed and managed to sleep again. An hour later he woke again. This time he turned the air conditioning off. Sleep wouldn’t come. He tried to read for a while, propped up against the pillows. In the big mirror on the opposite wall, he caught sight of his gaunt face drained of colour. With a shock, he realised he was looking at his Dad, Jack Swarbrick, laid out at the funeral parlour. That Swarbrick big conk was a matter of pride.

Of course it wasn’t his Dad, but the embodiment of hard-wired genetics. Wendy’s face, and much prettier conk, had frozen on his internal screen. He slept through till 6.30am with her in view.

Copyright © 2015 John Uttley

About the Author:

John Uttley was born in Lancashire just as the war was ending. Grammar school educated there, he read Physics at Oxford before embarking on a long career with the CEGB and National Grid Group. He was Finance Director at the time of the miners' strike, the Sizewell Inquiry and privatisation, receiving an OBE in 1991. Shortly afterwards, he suffered his fifteen minutes of fame when he publicly gave a dividend to charity in the middle of the fat cat furore. More recently, he has taken an external London degree in Divinity while acting as chairman of numerous smaller companies, both UK and US based. This is his first novel. He is married to Janet, living just north of London with three grown children and dog.


Brought to You By:

Kimberly Ranee Hicks, Author/Poet/Reviewer