Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Children's Books Review Round-Up!!!!



Paddington Bear had traveled all the way from Peru when the Brown family first met him in Paddington Station. Since then their lives have never been quite the same.... For ordinary things become quite extraordinary when a bear called Paddington is around.

This sumptuous treasury celebrates Paddington's enduring popularity by bringing together six of his most popular stories:

PaddingtonPaddington at the PalacePaddington at the ZooPaddington in the GardenPaddington and the Marmalade MazePaddington the Artist

My Review:
Brilliant, classic and something to be cherished!  Paddington is what childhoods are built around, reading this treasury was like stepping back into the days of youth.  Watching my children's eye expand and interest peeked when reading this aloud to them was such a gift.  This is a book that needs to be in every child's library and one that would make a perfect baby gift!  5 stars!



Snakeopedia tells the whole story of these amazing creatures. From the enormous Green Anaconda to the tiny Zootaxa, the book includes hundreds of snakes and all 12 families. You an learn about identifying features, habitats, their dangerous venom, how they can swallow such large prey, and unusual snake behaviours. Along the way, colourful callouts offer tons of cool facts. You can meet pythons that can survive as long as a year between meals, spitting cobras that can squirt venom eight feet away, and even flying snakes, which can sail from branch to branch to catch lizards! From vipers to rattlesnakes, boas to cobras, Discovery Channel Snakeopedia is the ultimate encyclopaedia for snake fans of all ages.

My Review:
Slithery, sneaky and quite frankly fascinating Snakeopedia is a informative, interesting book a all things snakes.  What I loved about this book is the colorful pictures, the easy to read facts and the wide variety of snakes covered.  My boys loved looking at the pictures and reading all the facts.  I will never look at snakes the same way again!  This was a great book to have over the summer on long car rides.  It keeps interest and there is so much to look at and learn time just flies when you are reading it!  4.5 stars!

Sports Illustrated Kids!!!!


How often do golfers make a hole in one? What are the chances you'll catch a foul ball at a baseball game? How often do Number 1 draft picks become Super Bowl winners? 

This book is the perfect combination of little-known stats, amazing plays, and fun facts. Not only will we address all the burning questions that curious sports fans want to know, this book will highlight some incredible moments and underscore exactly how special those highlight-reel plays are.

My Review:
I just have to say that Sports Illustrated Kids has some of the best books out there for lovers of the game, no matter which game it is that you love.  What Are The Chances?  The Wildest Plays in Sports is jam packed with some of the most amazing plays in history from rare, to really rare, to super rare to nearly impossible to never happened!!!!  Any sports fan is going to eat this book up.  My kids could not get enough of all plays.  They were blown away by the fact and figures and the great and colorful pictures added so much to the reading experience!!!!  5 stars



See how all aspects of football have evolved in this highly visual book filled with history and trivia about the game. You'll see a football transform before your eyes from a melon-like ball crudely stitched together to the aerodynamic pigskin it is today; or watch as a quarterback evolves from a scrawny helmetless player of the 1930s to a hulking play caller of the modern era. 

From rules to equipment to the all-time greats, this book is a journey through the game spanning the years

My Review:
Are you ready for some football??????  Yes, it is that time of year again and I am so pumped up, as are my kids.  Football:  Then to WOW!  is a great book to introduce a child to the game of football.  This book covers it all from the basics, to the players, to the strategy to the fan experience and so much more!!  It takes you on a time line of how the game has evolved over the years!  It is such a perfect book for the coffee table in your sports room or the gathering place of sports fans.  I really loved seeing all the Super Bowl tickets from 1967  to 2014.  You will be amazed in the how much money one ticket was back in the day compared to now!!! I just think this book is AMAZING!!  5 stars! 


Join Tako on an adventure as he makes a brave choice and proves that heroes come in all shapes and sizes 
When little Ricky Lee finds a puppy on the side of the road, he takes him home and names him Tako. Ricky's parents say that they will allow Tako to stay only if he is a good dog and follows the rules--or it's off to the pound he goes! 
Tako wants more than anything to be a good dog and stay with Ricky, but when greedy Mr. Prichard hatches a plan to put the Lee family's bakery out of business, Tako has to break the rules to protect his new family. Will he be able to spoil Mr. Prichard's plan and be a hero, or will he end up in the pound?

My Review:
A heart warming story about a sad and lonely dog that eventually finds himself a family and becomes a hero.  The illustrations are beautiful and the story original.  As a mother and a teacher, I just loved this book.  There is a lesson of love, compassion and caring wrapped up in the the story that any child or parent would appreciate!!!  5 stars!


There is a storm brewing on the Flying Dragon, and it's not about the weather. When the crew finds themselves parched and not enough juice to go around, blame falls on Matie the goat, Hallie's friend. Divided, they square off, ready for a fight and Captain No Beard must teach his crew that not only is bullying wrong, they must learn to value and respect each and every member of the crew. Watch the crew of the Flying Dragon learn an important lesson about being a true friend.

My Review:
4.5 stars SERIES REVIEW: An awesome adventure books that my kids and I have read over and over again! Great stories, amazing pictures and a great cast of characters! The books are more than just books...they are hours of fun. After we read one of the books I created a treasure hunt for the kids, with a map and real treasure! Such fun when books becomes more than just books and become bonding moments and amazing memories! 4.5 stars


Join Whaley on his big adventure in the ocean as he meets Whales of all different sizes. Written by 5 year old Alexander Luke and presented by his grandmother, award-winning children's author Carole P. Roman, this oceanic adventure of whale sized proportions will teach youngsters about the different whales that live in the oceans.

My Review:
Charming and adorable, this story was written in story form, but is filled with amazing facts about whales.  An adventure in friendship and facts Whaley's Big Adventure is one worth checking out!  4 stars


Friday, August 8, 2014

Mandy's Review Round-Up!!!



Old Blue Line by J.A. Jance

About the book....
Butch Dixon has been taken for a ride …

Not a jump in the car, see the sights kind of ride. He's been taken for everything he has. He's lost his house, his restaurant business, his savings, his car, his best friend, his faith—all to his conniving ex-wife. But that was seven years ago. He picked himself up, left Chicago, and started over in Peoria, Arizona, running the Roundhouse Bar and Grill. He doesn't look back on those bad years; there's no point. Not until two curious cops show up at the Roundhouse.

Faith, Butch's ex-wife, has been murdered, and the evidence points to him. Stunned, Butch quickly realizes that the black-hearted woman is going to ruin him again, from her grave. Lucky for Butch, the Old Blue Line, a group of retired—but still sharp and tenacious—former legal and law enforcement coots, have taken it upon themselves, as a favor, to make sure he doesn't cross that thin line. After the dust settles, Butch's life is again upended—when a little red-haired ball of fire, Sheriff Joanna Brady, takes a seat at his bar.

Mandy's Review:
Old Blue Line is a story about Butch Dixon and how is life is turned upside down upon the death of his ex-wife.  The twists and turns in this story kept me in till the very end of the story.  It was a fast read but a good one.  I give it 4 stars.


Scared Scriptless by Alison Sweeny

About the book....
Maddy Carson is a mass of contradictions. She loves her job as Script Supervisor on a hit TV show, but hates "Hollywood." Super-organized and down-to-earth, Maddy is clearly one of the best at her job, and her strict dating rule - "No Actors!" - helps her keep focused on her career. However, a budding relationship with Craig, one of the executives at her company, may even propel her into the big leagues. Could Wolf County, her beloved hometown in the mountains, be saved from a financial crisis by creating a reality show featuring the eccentrics in the small ski village? Maddy is determined to try, even when she learns that Craig's agenda doesn't exactly line up with her altruistic goal. 

Meanwhile, Maddy still has a full-time job to manage, her family to deal with, and a gorgeous new actor, Adam Devin, determined to wear down her resistance. Eventually Maddy must learn to break all her self-imposed rules and simply follow her heart.

Scared Scriptless offers an engagingly relatable heroine, laugh-out-loud humor, and a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how television is made.

Mandy's review:
A good book to read.  Alison Sweeny does a wonderful job of telling the story and making the reader feel as if they are part of the story.  I was well entertained and the book moved along a good pace.  I give it 3 stars.



City of Whores by Mark B Perry 

About the book....
New Year's Eve, 1951. Hollywood, California. As Tinseltown rings in the twilight of its Golden Age, a young man arrives from Texas hell-bent on exploiting his brooding good-looks in exchange for a shot at stardom--only to become dangerously entangled in the lives of one of the most powerful couples in show business. As his dream devolves into a lurid nightmare, he must choose between fortune and fame or sanity and survival. For more information, please visit the book's website www.cityofwhores.com.

"Subtly powerful…a Truman Capote-like piece…deeply affecting and tinged with pathos…" - Kirkus Reviews 

"A delicious debut novel. Perry weaves his small town hero Dexter Gaines through 1950s Hollywood, featuring guest appearances by Tallulah Bankhead, Rock Hudson, Judy Garland, and many others. Sexy, dishy, and filled with duplicity, sometimes Hollywood endings don't turn out exactly the way you'd expect. Pour yourself a champagne cocktail and enjoy." - Ann Hamilton, author of Expecting 

"…a page-turner with a big heart. It's irresistible." - Bill Barol, author of Thanks For Killing Me 

City of Whores is the debut novel from Mark B. Perry, Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning writer-producer of such series as Revenge, Brothers & Sisters, Pasadena, Party of Five, Law & Order, Picket Fences, Northern Exposure, and The Wonder Years.

Mandy's Review: 
In his debut novel Mark Perry brings 1950s Hollywood to life for his readers.  We watch Dexter Gaines work his way through Hollywood and what unravels is just captivating.  This book is a great debut novel and a must read.  I give it 4 stars.


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

GIVEAWAY!!! The Undertaking of Tess by New York Times bestselling author Lesley Kagen (with an interview).






Q. Tell us a bit about your new e-novella, The Undertaking of Tess

A. During the summer of 1959, ten-year-old Theresa “Tessie” Finley has her work cut out
for her.  Not only is she attempting to come to grips with the devastating loss and guilt
she feels after she witnessed her father’s drowning, her kid sister, Birdie, refuses to
believe that their beloved Daddy is really gone.  Tessie needs to convince her before their
Mom gets wind of how much “weirder” her sister’s getting.  Stronger, and
more down to Earth than ethereal Birdie, she’s always watched over her sister, so it’s
only natural for her to come up with a plan that she jots down on one of her never-ending
TO-DO lists.  If Tessie can’t achieve her goals, she’s desperately worried that the
beautiful, but self-occupied Louise, might send emotionally fragile Birdie to the County
insane asylum.  But despite her resourcefulness and grit, she’s smart enough to know
that the odds are stacked against her and her time is running out.

Q. This is your first novella. How did you like writing it as opposed to a full-length novel? And what factored into your decision to do so?

A.  I absolutely had first-time jitters when I decided to give a novella a try, but my desire to
share more of the Finley sisters’ childhood than I could include in the novel that’s coming out in October—The Resurrection of Tess Blessing—helped overcome the fear.  I really wanted readers to know more about what brought Tess and Birdie to this point in their relationship.  What circumstances helped form them.

Q. What inspired the setting?

A. I wrote the novel first, so the setting—the same kind of blue-collar neighborhood I grew up in during the Fifties—had already been determined.  

Q. Describe Tessie in 5 words.

A. Resourceful, funny, protective, edgy, and heartbroken.

Q. Tessie is a complex character. Was it difficult to flesh her out?

A. I’m lucky like that.  I don’t usually find it too difficult to get to the bones of my characters because they come to me fairly fully formed.  Especially since many of them are children, who wear their hearts on their sleeves.  Louise Finley, Birdie and Tessie’s mother, was a bit tougher. When readers first meet her, they may find that narcissistic Louise is the character they’ll love to hate, but maybe, as her story continues in the novel, they’ll discover the same way I did that Louise had a tough row to hoe too.  Or as Tessie might put it, “Louise had a tough road to hope too.”

A. One of the things I like best about your books is that you write about very serious subjects, but somehow manage to make them entertaining and inspirational.

Q. Thank you.  All of us face enormous challenges, and it’s important to me to reach out to readers and let them know that while it may feel so at times, they’re not alone in their struggles.  No matter what profound losses life hands us, I believe it’s important to laugh when we can, to allow ourselves to hope for a better day, and to always remember that while love may not conquer all, it does a pretty damn good job of shoring us all up.


Kagen does it again!!!! The Undertaking of Tess is a brilliant and haunting tale of the Finley sisters and their quest to maneuver through their unpredictable world, a world plagued by loss, guilt and in the end growth. Tessie's has her trusty to-do list and she is determined to keep her sister safe and face all the challenges that come her way. With Kagen's keen observation of the spirit of youth, brilliant dialogue and well placed humor The Undertaking of Tess is another 5 star HIT!!! A must read and a PERFECT book club pick. I cannot wait for The Resurrection of Tess Blessing, which is the upcoming novel and companion to The Undertaking of Tess.

Lesley Kagen

Lesley Kagen is an award-winning, New York Times bestselling author, mother, grandmother, actress, voice-over talent, and former restaurateur.  The e-novella, The Undertaking of Tess, will be released at the end of July.



Friday, August 1, 2014




About the book:
When Lauren and Ryan’s marriage reaches the breaking point, they come up with an unconventional plan. They decide to take a year off in the hopes of finding a way to fall in love again. One year apart, and only one rule: they cannot contact each other. Aside from that, anything goes.
Lauren embarks on a journey of self-discovery, quickly finding that her friends and family have their own ideas about the meaning of marriage. These influences, as well as her own healing process and the challenges of living apart from Ryan, begin to change Lauren’s ideas about monogamy and marriage. She starts to question: When you can have romance without loyalty and commitment without marriage, when love and lust are no longer tied together, what do you value? What are you willing to fight for?
This is a love story about what happens when the love fades. It’s about staying in love, seizing love, forsaking love, and committing to love with everything you’ve got. And above all, After I Do is the story of a couple caught up in an old game—and searching for a new road to happily ever after.


Taylor Jenkins Reid creates a story that is honest, has brilliant dialogues and captures the harshness that comes, after I do. It is a story of the slow disintegration of a marriage and the steps some takes to determine the right path. It cuts to the quick, examines the decisions we make to try to negotiate through marriage, love and life. It is heart-breaking and hopeful and a read you find hard to put down. The characters are parts of you, you relate to the snuggles, triumphs and ultimately are drawn so deeply inside the story that you are invested to the end. Another brilliant hit! 5 stars


Praise for the book:
“Moving, gorgeous and, at times, heart-wrenching. Taylor Jenkins Reid writes with wit and true emotion that you can feel. Read it, savor it, share it.” – Sarah Jio, New York Times bestselling author of The Violets of March

Buy the book

Amazon Paperback:

Amazon Kindle:


About the author:
Taylor Jenkins Reid is an author and essayist from Acton, Massachusetts. She graduated from Emerson College with a degree in Media Studies. Her first novel, Forever, Interrupted, was named one of the “11 Debuts We Love” by Kirkus Reviews. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Alex, and her dog, Rabbit. Her forthcoming novel, After I Do, will be published July 1, 2014.

Connect with the author:


When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
It happened so gradually that it's hard to pinpoint exactly when. But I do remember that after I'd written some personal essays, I decided that I wanted to try to write fiction. I intended to write a short story but that short story became a novel. That was a big turning point for me. 

How did you feel when you heard you were going to be published for the first time?
Words may never express the excitement but I will try: My agent emailed me on a Friday to say that early next week I would get a call from the woman that is now my editor. The implication being that if all went well, I'd probably get a book deal. I spent that entire weekend with so much energy that I could have run three marathons. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. It was as if there was so much joy in me, I was about to capsize. Luckily, I have learned the art of calming down since then. But sometimes, I still have to pinch myself.

If you could be any animal, what would you be?
A dog! A million times a dog. If you're a dog with nice owners, you spend your day sleeping, eating, playing, and snuggling. I can't think of anything better. And I've noticed dogs seem to have a better perspective on life than the rest of us. 

Is there a movie or book you would love to live in or visit?
What a good question! If I could live inside Baz Lurhman's The Great Gatsby, I might die of sensory overload but what a great way to go. Or maybe I should choose to live in The Hundred Ace Wood from Winnie the Pooh. That seems beautifully peaceful and highly entertaining.

What three things can you not live without?
If we're counting people and pets, then I'm going with my husband and two dogs. But for inanimate objects, I'd say the Beverly Hills Public Library, my Roku box, and iced tea.

What are your thoughts on e-books verses hard copies??
I love all of it! There's no wrong way to read a book.


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

BLOG TOUR: New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Mallery's New Romance- UNTIL WE TOUCH

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Susan Mallery is thrilled to announce the release of the latest book in her wildly popular Fool’s Gold series, UNTIL WE TOUCH!

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery comes the story of secret desires finally fulfilled… 

After a family tragedy, former football hero Jack McGarry keeps the world at arm's length—a challenge now that his PR firm has moved to neighborly Fool's Gold, California. 

Larissa Owens knows where she stands—Jack sees her as just another one of the guys. No matter what her heart wishes, Jack's her boss, not her boyfriend. But then Larissa's big secret is revealed…by her mother! 

When Jack discovers the truth about Larissa's feelings, her touch suddenly becomes tantalizing, and he's not sure he wants to resist. But if he gives in to desire, heartache is sure to follow. Friendship or true love—will Jack go for the ultimate play?

Until We Touch by Susan Mallery

We have heard this story a million times: the girl is in love with her boss and he is clueless.  Same old same old - right ???  WRONG-O ...  Susan Mallery may have used a recurring theme in this book, but you would never know it.  The way Susan Mallery writes it makes the reader feel like they have never read the story before.  We are told the story of Larissa and Jack in this book.  Oh what a story it is.  In typical Fools Gold tradition there is laughter, alpha males, strong women and meddling friends and neighbors.  I loved watching Jack fall in love with Larissa.  This is just another great book in the series.  You have to read it.  


Excerpt from Until We Touch
HQN -- Book 15 Fools Gold Series
July 2014
Chapter One
Excerpt from Until We Touch by Susan Mallery"You know why I'm here."
Mrs. Nancy Owens made the statement with a firm voice and an unyielding stare. All of which were impressive.
Unfortunately for Jack McGarry, he didn't have a clue as to what she was talking about.
He knew a lot of things. He knew the LA Stallions wouldn't get to the Super Bowl this year, that his right shoulder ached when it was going to rain, that were was a saucy merlot waiting in his kitchen and that while every part of his being wanted to bolt right now rather than have this conversation, he couldn't. Because Mrs. Owens was Larissa's mother and even if she wasn't, she was old enough to be his mother and he'd been raised better.
Mrs. Owens sighed. "I'm talking about my daughter."
Right. But the woman had three. "Larissa?"
"Of course Larissa. Who else? You moved your business to this God-forsaken town and my daughter moved with you and now she's here."
An excellent recap, he thought, struggling to find the point.
"You don't like Fool's Gold," he said, stating was what probably the obvious.
"I neither like nor dislike the town." Her tone implied he was an idiot. "It's not the point. Larissa is here."
He knew that, what with signing her paycheck—figuratively rather than literally—and seeing her every day. But Mrs. Owens already knew that, too.
"She is here, with you." Mrs. Owens sighed heavily. "She loves her job."
Ok, fine. He was willing to admit it. He was just an average guy. Maybe a little taller, with a used-to-be better throwing arm and a strong desire to win, but at his heart, he was pretty much like every other beer-drinking, truck-driving man in America. Ignoring, of course, the merlot in his refrigerator and the Mercedes in his garage.
Nancy Owens, an attractive woman in her early fifties, smacked her hands palm down on the table and groaned. "Do I have to spell it out for you?"
"Apparently so, ma'am."
"Larissa is twenty-eight years old, you moron. I want her to get married and give me grandchildren. That is never going to happen while she's working for you. Especially not after moving here. I want you to fire her. That way she'll move back to Los Angeles, find someone decent to marry and settle down."
"Why can't she do that here?"
Mrs. Owens sighed the sigh of those blessed with intelligence and insight most could only aspire to.
"Because, Mr. McGarry, I'm reasonably confident my daughter is in love with you."
Larissa Owens stared at the blue-eyed cat standing in the center of her small apartment. Dyna was an eight year-old Ragdoll, with big, beautiful eyes, a sweet face and a thick coat. She had white fur on her chest and front paws and bits of gray on her face. She was the cat equivalent of a supermodel. It was kind of intimidating.
Larissa's instinct was always to rescue. Cats, dogs, butterflies, people. It didn’t matter which. She knew her friends would claim she jumped in without thinking, but she wasn't willing to admit that. At least not without prompting. So when she'd heard about a cat in need of a home, she'd offered to take her in. She just hadn't thought she would be so gorgeous.
"You're a little overwhelming," Larissa admitted as she crossed to the small kitchen and put water into a bowl. "Should I dress better now that we're roommates?"
Dyna glanced at her, as if taking in the yoga pants and T-shirt that were Larissa's work wardrobe, then continued to explore the small apartment. She sniffed the sofa, checked out corners, studied the full-sized mattress in the bedroom and totally ignored the small bathroom.
"Yeah, I know," Larissa said, putting the water on a placemat by the back door and then trailing after her. "The bathroom is really tiny."
There wasn't a counter—just a pedestal sink, a toilet and a stall shower.
Okay, so the apartment wasn't grand. Larissa didn't need much. Besides, the place was clean and the rent was cheap. That left her with more of her paycheck to give to her causes. Because there was always a cause.
"The window sills are wide and you'll get a lot of light," Larissa told the cat. "The morning sun is really nice."
The small apartment came with one unexpected feature—a laundry room. She'd tucked Dyna's litter box next to the dryer. The cat pursued the facilities, then jumped lightly onto the kitchen counter and walked to the sink. She glanced at Larissa, her gaze expectant.
Larissa knew this was why she'd always resisted actually adopting an animal before. She'd told herself it was her lifestyle—that she was so focused on saving them all that she couldn't be with just one. But in her heart, she'd been afraid she simply didn't have it in her. Now, as she stared into big blue eyes, she knew she'd been right.
"What?" she asked softly. "If you just tell me what you want, I'll do it."
Dyna looked at the faucet and back at her.
"From the tap?" Larissa asked, then turned on the cold water.
The cat leaned in and delicately lapped at the water. Larissa grinned in triumph. Maybe she could conquer this pet thing after all.
She waited until Dyna was done, then picked her up. The cat relaxed in her arms, gazing at her for a second, before letting her eyes slowly close. From deep inside, came a soft, rumbling purr.
"I like you, too," Larissa told her new roommate. "This is going to be great."
She settled Dyna on the sofa, then glanced at the clock. "I hate to bring you home and run," she said, "but I have to get to work. It's only for a couple of hours and then I'll be home." She grabbed her battered handbag and headed for the front door. "Think about what you want to watch on TV tonight. You get to pick."
With that, she closed the door and raced down the stairs to the ground level of her apartment building, then out onto the street.
She'd only been in Fool's Gold a few months, but she loved everything about the town. It was big enough to be thriving, and small enough that everybody knew her name. Or at least enough people to make her feel as if she belonged. She had a great job, friends and she was a comfortable four hundred and twenty-five miles from her family.
Not that she didn't love her parents, her step-parents, her sisters, their spouses and kids, but sometimes she felt a little overwhelmed by so much family. She hadn't been sure about leaving Los Angeles, but now she knew it was the right thing to do. Her mother's two day visit, while enjoyable, had been an intense campaign to get her to move back home.
"Not happening," Larissa told herself cheerfully.
Ten minutes later she walked into the offices of Score, the PR firm where she worked. The foyer was huge, with high ceilings and plenty of life-sized pictures on the wall. There was a photo of the four principles of the firm, but the rest of the wall space was devoted to all things Jack, Kenny and Sam.
The three guys had been NFL stars. Sam had been a winning kicker, Kenny a record breaking receiver and Jack was the brilliant and gifted quarterback.
There were pictures of them in action on game day and others of them at various star-studded events. They were smart, successful, good-looking guys and didn't mind exploiting themselves for the betterment of their company. Taryn, their lone female partner, kept them in line—something of a challenge, considering the egos she was dealing with. Larissa was Jack's personal assistant. She was also the guys' private masseuse.
She enjoyed both aspects of her job. Jack was easy to work for and not overly demanding. Best of all, he supported her causes and let her manage all his charitable giving. As for being the company masseuse—each of the men had played a rough sport professionally. They all had injuries and on-going pain. She knew where they hurt and why and when she got it right, she made them feel better.
Now she headed directly for her office. She had phone calls to return. There would be a Pro-Am golf tournament in Fool's Gold in a few weeks. She had to coordinate Jack's schedule with the publicity folks from the tournament. Later she would go over requests from a charity that helped families with a member in need of an organ donation—the cause Jack supported the most. Sometimes he was asked to reach out to a family personally. Other times he provided direct funding for the family to stay near a child in the hospital. He'd done PSAs and been in several print and internet campaigns. Larissa was his point of contact. She could gauge how much he was willing to do at any given time and when it was better for him to simply write a check.
Her other duties were of a more personal nature. He was between girlfriends, so there were no gifts to buy, or flowers to send. Because in that respect, Jack was a fairly typical guy. He liked women and they liked him back. Which meant there was a steady stream of them through his life. Lucky for him, his parents lived on the other side of the world. So he didn't have a mother demanding that he settle down and produce grandchildren.
She'd barely taken her seat when Jack walked into her office.
"You're late," he told her, sitting across from her and stretching out his long legs. His words sounded more like a statement than a complaint.
"I told you I would be. I had to see my mother off and then go pick up Dyna."
One dark eyebrow rose. "Dyna?"
"My new cat." She rested her elbows on her desk. "I told you about her, remember?"
Which was so like Jack. "That's because you weren't listening."
"Very possibly."
"She's a rescue."
"What else would she be?"
She waited for him to say more, or tell her why he was here. There was only silence. The kind of silence that she understood as clearly as words.
She'd first been hired in 2010, when Jack had left the LA Stallions and joined Score. He'd been a silent partner since the firm's inception and Larissa would love to know how Taryn had reacted to Jack moving from the guy who had fronted her the cash to an actual working member of the team. She would guess there had been fireworks. Or maybe not. Jack and Taryn had a past.
Larissa had graduated from college with plans to work for a non-profit. Paying jobs in her chosen field had been impossible to find and she'd quickly learned she couldn't support herself on volunteer work. So she'd gone looking for a job in the business world.
She hadn't lasted long. She wasn't the type of person who enjoyed faceless corporations and having her soul sucked out on a daily basis. She'd decided business wasn't for her and had settled into waitressing while putting herself through massage school. Then a friend had told her about a job as a personal assistant at a PR firm. That had sounded less soul-sucking than her entry level finance position and better paying than her shift at the diner.
Her interview had been with Taryn. It had lasted two hours and had ended with words that Larissa had never forgotten.
"Jack is a good-looking guy with beautiful eyes and a great ass. But make no mistake. He's not interested in more than a couple of nights with any given woman. If you fall for him, you're an idiot. Still interested?"
Larissa had been intrigued. Then she'd met Jack and she'd been forced to admit Taryn hadn't been lying about Jack's appeal. She'd taken one look at his studly manliness and had felt the shivers clear down to her toes. But instead of flirting with her, the former quarterback had rubbed his shoulder and sworn.
She'd recognized the pain and reacted instinctively. She'd dug her fingers into the scarred and tense muscles, all the while explaining that she was only a few weeks from graduating from massage school. She'd gotten a job offer thirty seconds later.
In the past four years Larissa had become a part of the Score family. By the end of the second week, she'd ceased to see Jack as anything but her boss. Six months later, they were a good team and close friends. She regularly chided him about his choices in women, made sure he used ice and anti-inflammatories when his shoulder acted up and offered a daily massage to any of "the boys" and Taryn. She loved her job and she loved that they'd moved to Fool's Gold. She had a new kitty waiting at home. Life was very, very good.
She returned her attention to Jack and waited. Because that was the kind of silence in the room. The one that said he had something to tell her.
"You seeing anyone?"
The question surprised her. "You mean like a man?"
He shrugged. "You never said you dated women, but sure. Either sex will do."
"I’m not dating right now. I haven't met anyone in some time and besides, I'm too busy."
"But it would be a guy?"
Amusement danced in his dark eyes.
Jack was one of those men blessed by the gods. Tall, handsome, athletic, charming. He pretty much had it all. What very few people knew was that there were demons he carried around with him. He blamed himself for something that wasn't his fault. A trait Larissa could relate to, because she did it to herself all the time.
"Yes, it would be a guy."
"Good to know." He continued to study her. "Your mother is worried about you."
Larissa slumped back in her seat. "Tell me she didn't talk to you. Tell me!"
"She talked to me."
"Crap. I knew it. She stopped by, didn't she? On her way out of town. I knew there was something going on." Her mother was nothing if not determined. "Let me guess. She wanted to know if I was seeing anyone. I hope you told her you didn't know. Or did you tell her I was? Because that would seriously help."
"She didn't ask me if you were seeing anyone."
"Oh." She straightened. "What did she ask?"
"She wants me to fire you so you'll move back to Los Angeles, fall in love, get married and give her grandchildren."
Larissa felt heat flare on her cheeks. Humiliation made it hard to think, let alone come up with something reasonably intelligent to say.
"She already has two married daughters," she muttered. "Why can't she leave me alone?"
"She loves you."
"She has a funny way of showing it. Are you going to fire me?"
Jack raised both brows this time.
She drew in a breath. "I'll take that as a no. I'm sorry. I'll do my best to keep her away from here. The good news is Muriel is due in three months and the new baby will be a distraction." In the meantime Larissa would figure out a way to convince her mother that she'd moved to Borneo.
"Anything else?" she asked.
"Yeah, there is. Your mother said you're never going to settle down and get married because you're secretly in love with me."
Jack hadn't known how Larissa was going to react, but he'd guessed it would be a show. She didn't disappoint. Her face went from red to white and back to red. Her mouth opened and closed. With her jaw tightly clenched, she muttered something like, "I'm going to kill her," but he couldn’t be sure.
Nancy Owens' words had hit him like a linebacker. Larissa in love with him? Impossible. For one thing, she knew him better than anyone except Taryn and to know him was to understand he was all flash and no substance. For another, he needed her. Love meant a relationship and having a relationship meant she would eventually leave. No. There was no way Larissa could be in love with him.
But he'd been unable to shake the words and had realized he had to get the truth from the only person who actually knew.
Larissa drew in a breath. "I don't love you. We're friends. I like working for you and the charity work is terrific and I know you have my back, but I'm not in love with you."
Relief eased the tension in Jack's always aching right shoulder. He kept his expression neutral.
"You sure?" he asked.
"Yes. Positive."
He shook his head. "I don't know. I'm pretty hot. I could understand you having a thing for me. You've seen me naked. Now that I think about it, your reaction is inevitable." He sighed. "You love me. Admit it."
Larissa's mouth twitched. "Jack, you're not all that."
"But I am. Remember that fan who had my face tattooed on her breast? And the one who begged me to father her child? And the woman in Pittsburgh who wanted me to lick her—"
Larissa rested her arms on the desk and dropped her head to her arms. "Stop. You have to stop."
"Stronger women than you have been unable to resist my charms."
"In your dreams."
"No. Apparently in yours."
She looked at him then, her blue eyes wide, her mouth smiling. "I give."
"In the end, they all do."
The smile faded. "I'm sorry about my mother. She shouldn't have said that. I swear, I am not, nor will I ever be in love with you. I love my job and you're a big part of that. But we're friends, right? That's better. Besides, you have terrible taste in your 'let's end this now' gifts."
"Which is why I let you buy them." He hesitated a second. "We're good?"
"The best." Her smile returned.
The last of his worry faded. This was the Larissa he knew. All funny and earnest. Hair pulled back in a ponytail and not a speck of make-up on her face. She wore yoga pants and T-shirts and always had some cause to discuss with him. She believed the world was worth saving and he didn't mind if she used his money to try. They made a good team. He didn't want to have to do without her and having her love him... Well, that would have changed everything.

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