#ExcerptReveal “The Best Man” by Winter Renshaw




I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever … 
Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines. 
There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.
I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it. 
From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine. 
Anything.
Then I found her.
And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: No cheating, no love triangles. That’s all I’m going to say … 😉

Cainan

Beep … beep … beep … beep …

​I wake to a steady sound, slamming into an unfamiliar shell of a body, which as it turns out is mine. A dreamlike haze envelopes me, and when my surroundings come into focus, I’m met with white walls, white blankets, white machines connected to white wires leading to a strip of white tape on my wrist holding an IV in place.

​I’m in a hospital.

​I try to remember how I got here, but it’s like trying to recall someone else’s dream—an impossible task. And it only makes the throbbing inside my head intensify.

​“My wife …” My words are more air than sound, and it’s painful to speak with a bone-dry mouth and burning throat.

​ “Mr. James?” A woman with hair the color of driven snow leans over me. So much fucking white. “Don’t move. Please.”

​She’s a calm kind of rushed, hurried but not frenetic as she makes her way around the room, pressing buttons, paging for assistance and adjusting machine settings.

​The room fades in and out, murky gray to pitch black, and then crystal clear before disappearing completely. The next time I open my eyes, I’m fenced by three more women and one white-coat-wearing man, all of them gazing down on me with squinted, skeptical expressions, as if they’re witnessing a verifiable miracle in the making.

​I’m certain this is nothing more than a bad dream—until my head pulsates with an iron-clad throb once again, accented by a searing poker-hot pain too real to be a delusion.

​“Mr. James, I’m Dr. Shapiro. Four weeks ago, you were involved in a car accident.” The doctor at the foot of the bed studies me. “You’re at Hoboken University Medical Center, and you’re in excellent hands.”

​They all study me.

​I try to sit up, only for a nurse to place her hand on my shoulder. “Take it easy, Mr. James.”

​Another nurse hands me water. I take a sip. The clear, cold liquid that glides down my throat both soothes and stings. I swallow the razor-blade sensation and try to sit up again, but my arms shake in protest, muscles threatening to give out.

​“Where’s my wife?” Each word is excruciating, physically and otherwise.

​She should be here.

​Why isn’t she here?

​“Your wife?” The nurse with the water cup repeats my question as she exchanges glances with the dark-haired nurse on the opposite side of my bed. “Mr. James … you don’t have a wife.”

​I try to respond, which only causes me to cough. I’m handed the water once more, and when I get the coughing under control, I ask for my wife once more.

​“Has anyone called her?” I hand the cup back. If I’ve been out of it for weeks, I imagine she’s beside herself. And our kids. I can’t begin to imagine what they’ve been going through. “Does she know I’m awake? Have my children seen me like this?”

​“Sir …” The nurse with the dark hair frowns.

​“My wife,” I say, harder this time.

​“Mr. James.” Dr. Shapiro comes closer, and a nurse steps out of the way. “You suffered extensive injuries in your accident …”

​The man rambles on, but I only catch fragments of what he’s saying. Shattered pelvis. Spleen removal. Internal bleeding. Brain swelling. Medically-induced coma.

​“It’s not uncommon to be confused or disoriented upon awaking,” he says.

​But she was just here …

​She was just with me …

​Only we weren’t in this room, we were at the beach—the little strip of sand beyond our summer home. She was in my arms as we lay warm under a hot sun, watching our children run from the rolling waves that rolled over the coastline, leaving tiny footprints up and down the shore.

​A boy and a girl.

​My wife smelled of sunscreen, and she wore an oversized straw hat with a black ribbon and thick-framed cat-eye sunglasses with red rims that matched her red sarong. I can picture it clearer than anything in this damn room.

​I can hear her laugh, bubbly and contagious.

​If I close my eyes, I can see her heart-shaped smile—the one that takes up half her face and can turn the worst of days completely upside down.

​“We’re going to let you rest, Mr. James, and then we’ll order a few tests.” The doctor digs in a deep pocket of his jacket, and then he sneaks a glance at his phone. “I’ll be here for the next eight hours, if you have any additional questions. The nurses will ensure you’re comfortable in the meantime. We’ll discuss your treatment plan as soon as you’re feeling up to it.”

​He tells the nurse with the dark hair to order a CT scan, mumbles something else I can’t discern, and then he’s gone. A moment later, the room clears save for myself and the third nurse—the one who’s done nothing but stare at me with despondent eyes this entire time.

​“There must be a mistake. Someone needs to call my wife immediately.” I try to sit up, but an electric intensity unlike anything I’ve ever experienced shoots up my arm and settles along my back and shoulders.

​The thought of her not knowing where I am sends a squeeze to my chest. What if she thinks I left her? What if she thinks I disappeared? What if she has no idea what happened? And what was I doing in Hoboken when our life is in Manhattan?

​“What’s her name?” Her question comes soft and low, almost like she’s trying to ensure no one hears her. “Your wife?”

​I open my mouth to speak … only nothing comes out.

​I can picture her as vivid as still blue waters on a windless day—but it’s the strangest thing because her name escapes me.

Nothing but blank after infuriating blank.

​“I … I can’t remember.” I lean back, staring into the reflective void of a black TV screen on the opposite wall.

​The nurse’s gaze grows sadder, if that’s possible. “It’s okay. You’ve been through quite an ordeal.”

​She doesn’t believe me.

​“Would you like me to call your sister?” she asks.

​My sister … Claire.

​If I can remember my sister’s name, why can’t I remember my own wife’s?

​“Yes,” I say. “Call Claire. Immediately.”

​She’ll be able to sort this out, I’m sure of it.

​“Would you like me to adjust your bed?” The nurse straightens the covers over my legs. “I’m Miranda, by the way. I’ve been assigned to you since you arrived. I can tell you just about anything you need to know.”

​“Just … call my sister.”

​“Of course, Mr. James. Can I grab you anything while I make that call?”

​I lift my hand—the one without the IV—to my forehead. “Head’s pounding like a goddamned jackhammer. Got anything for that?”

​“Absolutely. Be right back …”

​Miranda hurries out the door, and I’m alone.

​If I close my eyes, the room spins, but I can picture my wife with impeccable lucidity—the square line of her jaw, her heart-shaped lips that flip up in the corners, the candy-apple green of her eyes.

My heart aches, though it isn’t a physical pain, it’s deeper.

​More profound.

​Like the drowning of a human soul.

​I remind myself that the doctor’s said it’s normal to be disoriented, and I promise myself everything will come back to me once I get my bearings.

​The clock on the wall reads eight minutes past seven. The sky beyond the windows is half-lit. I haven’t the slightest clue if it’s AM or PM. I couldn’t tell you what day it is or what month it is for that matter.

​“Mr. James, your sister is on her way,” the nurse says when she returns.

​She hands me a white paper cup with two white pills.

​So much fucking white.

​If I never see white again after this, I’ll die a happy man.


Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#Review “The Best Man” by Winter Renshaw

cover

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5/5 Stars!

Fate? Destiny? Coincidence?

Do we choose our life’s journey… or are we characters acting out a script written for us?

The Best Man is not a paranormal story, but it made my mind wonder.

A chance meeting between Cainan James and Brie White is just that. A few minutes in a bar. Cryptic conversation. A prophetic parting. They go back to their lives without even exchanging names.

A near-death car accident finds Cainan waking from a coma six months later, asking for his wife. The only problem is he isn’t married. He heals and returns to his law practice with the visions of the mystery lady in his head. Cainan’s sister, Claire, is convinced he’s still traumatized by the accident and wants him to get help. Cainan is ready to agree with her until he meets his mystery woman.

Engaged to his best friend, Grant.

As the story unfolds, nothing is what it appears to be. Analytical Brie and Pragmatic Cainan ignore the simmering connection between them for obvious reasons. Rethinking her decisions, Brie has to make choices that have nothing to do with Cainan, while all of Cainan’s decisions are because of Grant.

What happens when the couple realizes they may know each other better than either of them know Grant?

(Insert speeding car in parking to mow Grant down. Read the story. He deserves it.)

Engaging and bittersweet, The Best Man is about relationships and does a great job of delving into several, especially between siblings and friends. It also deals with misplaced loyalty, manipulations, and betrayals. But not where you think. Pay attention!

However, it shines brightest as the connection between Brie and Cainan is explored and explained. Well, as much as the unexplainable can be explained!

I enjoyed this read. It didn’t fall back on insta-love, broody males or females making bad decisions simply because. It focused on people, the part they play in our lives, and the consequences of life choices.

Or are they choices? If you hear the Twilight Zone theme… just go with it.

Enjoy!

~~~

SYNOPSIS

I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever …
Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines.
There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.
I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it.
From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine.
Anything.
Then I found her.
And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: No cheating, no love triangles. That’s all I’m going to say … 😉

Purchase

Amazon

Goodreads

~~~

~~~

#BlogTour “The Best Man” by Winter Renshaw




I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever … 
Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines. 
There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.
I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it. 
From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine. 
Anything.
Then I found her.
And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: No cheating, no love triangles. That’s all I’m going to say … 😉


Cainan

Beep … beep … beep … beep …

​I wake to a steady sound, slamming into an unfamiliar shell of a body, which as it turns out is mine. A dreamlike haze envelopes me, and when my surroundings come into focus, I’m met with white walls, white blankets, white machines connected to white wires leading to a strip of white tape on my wrist holding an IV in place.

​I’m in a hospital.

​I try to remember how I got here, but it’s like trying to recall someone else’s dream—an impossible task. And it only makes the throbbing inside my head intensify.

​“My wife …” My words are more air than sound, and it’s painful to speak with a bone-dry mouth and burning throat.

​ “Mr. James?” A woman with hair the color of driven snow leans over me. So much fucking white. “Don’t move. Please.”

​She’s a calm kind of rushed, hurried but not frenetic as she makes her way around the room, pressing buttons, paging for assistance and adjusting machine settings.

​The room fades in and out, murky gray to pitch black, and then crystal clear before disappearing completely. The next time I open my eyes, I’m fenced by three more women and one white-coat-wearing man, all of them gazing down on me with squinted, skeptical expressions, as if they’re witnessing a verifiable miracle in the making.

​I’m certain this is nothing more than a bad dream—until my head pulsates with an iron-clad throb once again, accented by a searing poker-hot pain too real to be a delusion.

​“Mr. James, I’m Dr. Shapiro. Four weeks ago, you were involved in a car accident.” The doctor at the foot of the bed studies me. “You’re at Hoboken University Medical Center, and you’re in excellent hands.”

​They all study me.

​I try to sit up, only for a nurse to place her hand on my shoulder. “Take it easy, Mr. James.”

​Another nurse hands me water. I take a sip. The clear, cold liquid that glides down my throat both soothes and stings. I swallow the razor-blade sensation and try to sit up again, but my arms shake in protest, muscles threatening to give out.

​“Where’s my wife?” Each word is excruciating, physically and otherwise.

​She should be here.

​Why isn’t she here?

​“Your wife?” The nurse with the water cup repeats my question as she exchanges glances with the dark-haired nurse on the opposite side of my bed. “Mr. James … you don’t have a wife.”

​I try to respond, which only causes me to cough. I’m handed the water once more, and when I get the coughing under control, I ask for my wife once more.

​“Has anyone called her?” I hand the cup back. If I’ve been out of it for weeks, I imagine she’s beside herself. And our kids. I can’t begin to imagine what they’ve been going through. “Does she know I’m awake? Have my children seen me like this?”

​“Sir …” The nurse with the dark hair frowns.

​“My wife,” I say, harder this time.

​“Mr. James.” Dr. Shapiro comes closer, and a nurse steps out of the way. “You suffered extensive injuries in your accident …”

​The man rambles on, but I only catch fragments of what he’s saying. Shattered pelvis. Spleen removal. Internal bleeding. Brain swelling. Medically-induced coma.

​“It’s not uncommon to be confused or disoriented upon awaking,” he says.

​But she was just here …

​She was just with me …

​Only we weren’t in this room, we were at the beach—the little strip of sand beyond our summer home. She was in my arms as we lay warm under a hot sun, watching our children run from the rolling waves that rolled over the coastline, leaving tiny footprints up and down the shore.

​A boy and a girl.

​My wife smelled of sunscreen, and she wore an oversized straw hat with a black ribbon and thick-framed cat-eye sunglasses with red rims that matched her red sarong. I can picture it clearer than anything in this damn room.

​I can hear her laugh, bubbly and contagious.

​If I close my eyes, I can see her heart-shaped smile—the one that takes up half her face and can turn the worst of days completely upside down.

​“We’re going to let you rest, Mr. James, and then we’ll order a few tests.” The doctor digs in a deep pocket of his jacket, and then he sneaks a glance at his phone. “I’ll be here for the next eight hours, if you have any additional questions. The nurses will ensure you’re comfortable in the meantime. We’ll discuss your treatment plan as soon as you’re feeling up to it.”

​He tells the nurse with the dark hair to order a CT scan, mumbles something else I can’t discern, and then he’s gone. A moment later, the room clears save for myself and the third nurse—the one who’s done nothing but stare at me with despondent eyes this entire time.

​“There must be a mistake. Someone needs to call my wife immediately.” I try to sit up, but an electric intensity unlike anything I’ve ever experienced shoots up my arm and settles along my back and shoulders.

​The thought of her not knowing where I am sends a squeeze to my chest. What if she thinks I left her? What if she thinks I disappeared? What if she has no idea what happened? And what was I doing in Hoboken when our life is in Manhattan?

​“What’s her name?” Her question comes soft and low, almost like she’s trying to ensure no one hears her. “Your wife?”

​I open my mouth to speak … only nothing comes out.

​I can picture her as vivid as still blue waters on a windless day—but it’s the strangest thing because her name escapes me.

Nothing but blank after infuriating blank.

​“I … I can’t remember.” I lean back, staring into the reflective void of a black TV screen on the opposite wall.

​The nurse’s gaze grows sadder, if that’s possible. “It’s okay. You’ve been through quite an ordeal.”

​She doesn’t believe me.

​“Would you like me to call your sister?” she asks.

​My sister … Claire.

​If I can remember my sister’s name, why can’t I remember my own wife’s?

​“Yes,” I say. “Call Claire. Immediately.”

​She’ll be able to sort this out, I’m sure of it.

​“Would you like me to adjust your bed?” The nurse straightens the covers over my legs. “I’m Miranda, by the way. I’ve been assigned to you since you arrived. I can tell you just about anything you need to know.”

​“Just … call my sister.”

​“Of course, Mr. James. Can I grab you anything while I make that call?”

​I lift my hand—the one without the IV—to my forehead. “Head’s pounding like a goddamned jackhammer. Got anything for that?”

​“Absolutely. Be right back …”

​Miranda hurries out the door, and I’m alone.

​If I close my eyes, the room spins, but I can picture my wife with impeccable lucidity—the square line of her jaw, her heart-shaped lips that flip up in the corners, the candy-apple green of her eyes.

My heart aches, though it isn’t a physical pain, it’s deeper.

​More profound.

​Like the drowning of a human soul.

​I remind myself that the doctor’s said it’s normal to be disoriented, and I promise myself everything will come back to me once I get my bearings.

​The clock on the wall reads eight minutes past seven. The sky beyond the windows is half-lit. I haven’t the slightest clue if it’s AM or PM. I couldn’t tell you what day it is or what month it is for that matter.

​“Mr. James, your sister is on her way,” the nurse says when she returns.

​She hands me a white paper cup with two white pills.

​So much fucking white.

​If I never see white again after this, I’ll die a happy man.

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#ReleaseBlitz “The Best Man” by Winter Renshaw




I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever … 
Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines. 
There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.
I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it. 
From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine. 
Anything.
Then I found her.
And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: No cheating, no love triangles. That’s all I’m going to say … 😉

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#Review “The Trophy Wife” by Sunday Tomassetti

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4/5 Stars!

Shaped by the abandonment of her father at a young age, an emotionally damaged mother, and a lifetime of bad friendships, thirty-five-year-old Cate Cabot lives a small existence. She visits her mother once a week and has a secure position at an upscale consignment shop. She also has a long-term boyfriend who adores her, but she won’t fully commit to the relationship, convinced he’ll walk away one day.

Cate convinced herself for years she had the life she wanted but when Odessa DuVernay—the epitome of a trophy wife—visits the shop where Cate works and reaches out in friendship, she questions the way she lives her life. Though reluctant at first, she accepts the woman’s friendship. It won’t be long before Cate’s new friendship and finding out the truth about her father clouds her reasoning and judgment.

And MINE TOO!

Told in two POVs—Cate and Zsofia, a live-in domestic—this author does a great job of the slow-build, and I thought I knew where she was headed. I was wrong… several times! The plot twists and pacing are spot on, and I’m sure I read the last twenty percent of the story with my mouth open and eyebrows raised!

Cate Cabot is likable enough. Though I tried to understand the life that molded her, I still couldn’t help thinking her too quirky and immature at times. Her boyfriend, Sean, is adorable, and I wavered between how lucky Cate was to have him or how she wasn’t worthy of him. Sue me. Darcy, Cate’s mom, is just sad, stuck in a reality that never truly existed.

Odessa appears to be a trophy wife, but Cate finds caring and compassion in her new friend… mostly. And Zsofia? Heartbreaking and one-hundred percent sympathetic. Stuck in a life she never asked for, I didn’t know how she faced each day and still held onto her sanity.

And there’s the rub.

Clear your schedule and get comfortable with this read and remember things… and people aren’t always as they appear.

Enjoy!

~~~

“I’ve done something terrible.”
On a foggy Palm Beach morning, Cate Cabot waits at a local cafe to meet her best friend for coffee—and a confession. At least that’s what Cate assumes based on the frantic voicemail Odessa left her earlier that morning.
Only Odessa never shows.
And when Cate drives to her home she finds no trace of her. In fact, Odessa isn’t just missing—it’s suddenly as if she never existed in the first place. Even the staff who run her palatial home in the gated Paradise Cove community are claiming Cate must be mistaken, confused.
As Cate searches high and low for her friend who vanished into thin air on the cusp of a mysterious admission, the only thing she finds … is that the truth might be more terrible than she ever could have imagined.
Liking Odessa was easy. Admiring her perfect life, easier so. But finding her? It’s going to be downright impossible without untangling the cryptic web of lies the missing trophy wife left in her wake.
Amazon  
 

 

 

 

#BlogTour “The Trophy Wife” by Sunday Tomassetti

Amazon  

“I’ve done something terrible.” 
On a foggy Palm Beach morning, Cate Cabot waits at a local cafe to meet her best friend for coffee—and a confession. At least that’s what Cate assumes based on the frantic voicemail Odessa left her earlier that morning. 
Only Odessa never shows. 
And when Cate drives to her home she finds no trace of her. In fact, Odessa isn’t just missing—it’s suddenly as if she never existed in the first place. Even the staff who run her palatial home in the gated Paradise Cove community are claiming Cate must be mistaken, confused. 
As Cate searches high and low for her friend who vanished into thin air on the cusp of a mysterious admission, the only thing she finds … is that the truth might be more terrible than she ever could have imagined. 
Liking Odessa was easy. Admiring her perfect life, easier so. But finding her? It’s going to be downright impossible without untangling the cryptic web of lies the missing trophy wife left in her wake.


 Zsofia

It’s late, and Mrs. DuVernay is in a mood again.

She steps out of her heels as if they disgust her, kicking them askew as she makes her way to her dressing room on the other side of her bedroom. I scramble to grab her shoes, waiting for her to peel out of the day’s clothes and emerge in her favorite silk robe with her initials monogrammed over the right breast.

She’s taking longer than usual to undress today, nothing but huffs and sighs coming from the other side of the doorway. If I had to guess, she’s gained a few pounds. That always seems to send her into a quiet fit when she’s changing. I imagine her examining her tall, thin body from the three angles of her mirror, hugging the shoes against my chest as I wait to go in.

Mrs. DuVernay sighs when she finally comes out a minute later, bare feet covered in red markings from the day spent out and about in killer heels. Markings, I’m convinced, she no longer feels. I tried them on once, when she wasn’t looking—her favorite pair of shoes, the black ones with the teal bottoms. In less than ten steps, I swear I had a blister forming on the back of one of my heels.

“My drink, Zsofia,” she says, hands on her hips as she peers around her bedroom with raised eyebrows and flattened lips.

I nod toward her vanity, where her usual—a dry white wine with a splash of organic pineapple juice—rests on a vintage coaster made of rhinoceros ivory.

Mrs. DuVernay swipes her drink off the table, taking it with her into the master en suite. I carry her shoes into the closet, praying I can locate the correct place for them before she yells for me to fetch her a heated facial towel from the warmer in the spa.

This past Friday, she had two professionals come and sort through her closet—a stylist and an organizer. One helped her create toss/sell/donate piles and the other reconfigured the rest of her things to the point where I can’t find half of what she sends me to retrieve now.

An empty red shoebox with its top misaligned is situated in the middle of the closet. Dropping to my knees, I place the heels neatly inside, fasten the lid, and find the proper spot for it amongst the others along her expansive wall of designer shoes.

“Zsofia,” she calls from the next room, her tone flat and void of emotion.

I leave the closet to find her at the vanity, the day washed off of her face and a thick mask of rosehip stem cells and sea kelp on her face, sinking into her pore-less, ageless, glass-like complexion.

“I’ll be right back with a towel.” I head to the spa room at the end of the hall.

Mrs. DuVernay prefers to have her facialists, masseuses, and manicurists come to the house so she can beautify in private, though I believe it has more to do with the falling-out she had with her group of friends a few years back. They always used to schedule their pampering appointments together. After the squabble, Mrs. DuVernay couldn’t bear to be seen alone and friendless in her favorite beauty haunts, so she persuaded Charles to turn one of the spare bedrooms into a home spa. Not that it took much convincing—Mrs. DuVernay controls the purse strings around here, as much as she prefers to flit around like a Palm Shores trophy wife.

It’s just another act of hers.

Like everything else.

I tiptoe down the hall to the spa room, retrieving a couple of damp wash cloths from the towel warmer on the back counter, and I bring them to her, stepping a few feet back as she breathes in the soft, lavender-scented steam and wipes away the exotic remains of her skincare routine.

When she’s finished, she hands them off, reaches for her wine, and shuffles to her bed, her snow-colored silk robe billowing behind her with every leggy step.

“That’s all for tonight, Zsofia.” She waves me off as she climbs beneath a mountain of high-thread count bed coverings. “Oh. One more thing. Tell Charles it’s time to come to bed on your way out.”

“Yes, Mrs. DuVernay.” I shut the door behind me without making a sound so as not to wake Aviana down the hall. Lord knows teenagers need their rest, and she can be a bit of a bear to deal with in the morning. As her human alarm clock, I prefer that she not be overly tired come six AM. It certainly makes my job a lot easier.

I run my palm along the polished banister on my way down, careful not to make a sound this time of night, when the house has quieted and settled and every footstep or cleared throat reverberates. Once I arrive on the main floor, I head for Mr. DuVernay’s study—a room placed in the farthest reaches of the house, so Charles can play his jazz music and strum on his prized collection of rare guitars without disturbing his headache-prone wife.

Rapping on the outside of the door, I wait for him to answer.

The other side is quiet tonight. No jazz records. No clumsy, six-string chords.

I knock once more, holding my breath as I wait in silence.

Perhaps he isn’t in there?

Twisting the door knob, I crack the door a few inches to check. “Mr. DuVernay?”

With no response, I push the door wider, peeking my entire head in to look around. The room is dark save for the floor lamp in the corner, and the curtains are open, showcasing a view of the water from the floor-to-ceiling windows on his east-facing wall. Boat lights sparkle, their reflections swaying in the distance on the buoying Atlantic. I’ve always thought it seemed dangerous to boat late at night. Then again, I’ve never boated in my life. What would I know?

Peering around the room one last time, I draw in a sharp breath when my gaze comes to him lying on the sofa, still as a statue, fast asleep. Peaceful because he’s anywhere but here.

Padding across the room without a sound, I make my way to him, a slow smile bending my mouth as I watch him sleep.

Charles is an impossibly handsome man; generous brown hair with salt-and-peppered temples, chiseled chin, sun-kissed complexion, runner’s body much younger than his physical age. When he isn’t having an ‘off’ day, he’s a force to be reckoned with, a personality much larger than the room Mrs. DuVernay keeps him confined to most of the time. Charles’ smile alone has turned some of my worst days into some of my brightest, and I live for his eyes—ocean blue on the outside with a ring of hazel in the middle—like they can’t decide what they want to be.

A man like this is wasted on Mrs. DuVernay.

He deserves better.

She deserves worse.

“Mr. DuVernay,” I say his name on the breath of a whisper before placing my fingertips on his shoulder, giving him three light taps. “Mrs. DuVernay would like you to come to bed.”

His dark lashes flutter as his eyes open, and then he squints, focusing on me.

“Ah. It’s you,” he says, placing his hand over mine, gentle and unrushed. “Is my wife asleep yet?”

I swallow the rigid protuberance that has suddenly found a home in my throat. “No, sir.”

Charles pulls himself to a standing position, his gaze never abandoning mine, not for one second. “Well, that’s a shame, isn’t it?”

Our eyes hold for a moment, and I stifle the knowing smile that threatens to curl my lips. He and I both know that the DuVernay household is a serene place when the missus is sleeping—or better yet: off on one of her solo vacations. There are more smiles when she’s away. More laughter. Less tension. More living. Less silent suffering.

We’re both prisoners of circumstance.

Prisoners with very different privileges.

Prisoners of Mrs. DuVernay.

“Goodnight, Zsofia,” he says before striding to the door. “Get some rest.”

I wait alone in his study for a beat, and then I shut off his lamp and close the door on my way out. He’s gone by the time I reach the hall, leaving nothing but the faintest trail of his posh Italian cologne.

Tiptoeing through the darkened DuVernay residence, I make my way to the apartment above the garage—the only home I’ve ever known.

Home sweet prison cell.

Sunday Tomassetti is the pseudonym of a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon Charts, and #1 Amazon bestselling author who wanted an outlet for her passion projects. A thirty-something married mother of three, Sunday resides in the midwest where you can always find her hard at work on her next novel.
Sunday is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.
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#ReleaseBlitz “The Trophy Wife” by Sunday Tomassetti

Amazon  


“I’ve done something terrible.” 
On a foggy Palm Beach morning, Cate Cabot waits at a local cafe to meet her best friend for coffee—and a confession. At least that’s what Cate assumes based on the frantic voicemail Odessa left her earlier that morning. 
Only Odessa never shows. 
And when Cate drives to her home she finds no trace of her. In fact, Odessa isn’t just missing—it’s suddenly as if she never existed in the first place. Even the staff who run her palatial home in the gated Paradise Cove community are claiming Cate must be mistaken, confused. 
As Cate searches high and low for her friend who vanished into thin air on the cusp of a mysterious admission, the only thing she finds … is that the truth might be more terrible than she ever could have imagined. 
Liking Odessa was easy. Admiring her perfect life, easier so. But finding her? It’s going to be downright impossible without untangling the cryptic web of lies the missing trophy wife left in her wake.

Mr. DuVernay watches me.

What I wouldn’t give to know what he’s thinking …

Suddenly his gaze leaves mine, traveling to my mouth before stopping at my cleavage, where I left my shirt unbuttoned just enough. The entire thing lasts no more than two seconds, but it happened, of that much I’m certain.

He clears his throat, re-crosses his legs, and glances out the window.

A trumpet wails in the background, screaming as loud as my thoughts.

I’ve spent hours upon hours figuring out a way to get out of here, most of them requiring ungodly sums of money or a safe place to hide—both of which I don’t have. But there’s one route that necessitates neither of those things … an option that would require seducing Mr. DuVernay.

Up until yesterday, I was adamantly against this strategy. I’m not a homewrecker. I’m not a husband stealer. I’m not the kind of person who can hurt someone and not lose an ounce of sleep over it.

But I’m also a woman with dwindling options, a woman desperate to do whatever it takes to break free.

The lingerie in the suitcase changed everything.

Why should Mrs. DuVernay get to have her fun and take a match to her wedding vows, while her husband sits here at home on a Saturday night, loyal and clueless?

Mr. DuVernay is my only ticket out of here. He’s the only way I could ever truly be free from his wife.

I tug down on my shirt with modest subtlety so as not to make it obvious, and then I readjust my posture, focusing on the closed cigar box on the table in front of me. From my periphery, the gentle weight of Mr. DuVernay’s gaze lingers.

He fixed me a drink earlier, and I’ve yet to touch it, though mostly out of habit. Mrs. DuVernay doesn’t allow me to drink.

I reach for the wine glass and take a sip, smiling internally.

Mrs. DuVernay isn’t here now, is she?

“How is it?” he asks, watching me swallow. I lick an imaginary drop from my mouth. His fingers rap on the overstuffed arm of his chair as he studies me. The red wine lingers on my tongue and I catch a trail of his intoxicating Italian cologne. I picture him in the boardroom at his office, leading his team of highly-educated, giant ego’d sharks with his signature effortless confidence, charm, and wit.

He’s a made man, that much I know.

Mrs. DuVernay brought family money to the marriage, but from what I’ve been able to gather, she never shared it with him. After his parents died, he used his inheritance to buy a fledgling drop ship company in West Palm Shores, and over the years he turned it into a multi-million-dollar corporation with international stations in London, Moscow, and Beijing.

“Lovely.” I take another sip.

“Take your time, Zsofia.” He chuckles, raking his fingers beneath his dimpled chin. “The night is young.”

My stomach somersaults.

If I’m reading between the lines, he’s asking me to stick around all night.

There’ll be another drink after this, I suppose. And possibly another.

Conversations.

Flirting?

My stomach somersaults, my fingers tingle with uncertain electricity.

This is wrong.

And this is also necessary.

Sunday Tomassetti is the pseudonym of a Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Amazon Charts, and #1 Amazon bestselling author who wanted an outlet for her passion projects. A thirty-something married mother of three, Sunday resides in the midwest where you can always find her hard at work on her next novel.
Sunday is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency.

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#CoverReveal “The Best Man” by Winter Renshaw

I didn’t know her name, but I heard her laugh, tasted her lips, felt her warm skin as I held her in my arms. Together we watched our young children playing in the sand, the warm ocean lapping the shore behind them as the setting sun painted the sky. She was my soulmate and this was our life, our beautiful forever … 
Then I woke up—alone in a hospital room, connected to wires and machines. 
There was no wife. No kids. Not a single soul waiting for me. That life I dreamt of … never existed.
I’d been in a devastating wreck, a nurse told me when she rushed in. Comatose for weeks. I’d have a long road to recovery, but I was going to make it. 
From that moment on, the dream haunted me. I saw that woman’s face every time I closed my eyes, searched for her in every crowd, ached to be with a stranger I felt I’d known my entire life … and I swore that if I ever found her, I’d do anything to make her mine. 
Anything.
Then I found her.
And it was both the best and worst day of my life because the woman of my dreams … was about to marry my best friend.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: No cheating, no love triangles. That’s all I’m going to say … 😉

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j


#ExcerptReveal “The Cruelest Stranger” by Winter Renshaw

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The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and three cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind.
Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
I never could have anticipated his…
And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
This one’s ours.

Through the shadowy haze of Ophelia’s, my unfocused gaze struggles to home in at first. And then I see him perfectly.

Chiseled cheekbones.

Impeccably-groomed obsidian hair.

Broad shoulders hardly contained in a navy cashmere sweater.

Jawline for days.

Could this be …?

Is that Mrs. Angelino’s nephew?

I take a generous mouthful of gin and tonic, contemplating how best to introduce myself. My palms tingle, and I rub them against the tops of my thighs, sucking in a shallow breath.

There’s a chance this man isn’t Garrett, and the more I think about it, he likely isn’t. I’ve yet to catch him scanning the room in search of someone.

But still—if it is him, I’d hate for him to think he’s being stood up. I would never do that to anyone, for any reason. My life’s mantra can be boiled down to the whole “do unto others …” saying.

Clearing my throat, I lean in his direction. “Excuse me?”

He doesn’t hear me.

Waving my hand to capture his attention, I say it again, “Hi. Excuse me.”

Still, nothing.

It’s like he’s in his own world—ten feet away.

The friendly, kindergarten-teacher smile teetering on my poppy-stained lips fades with the realization that I’m being ignored.

“Hi, excuse me …” Third time’s the charm. I wave once more, wiggling my fingers the way you’d politely flag down a restaurant server.

The man turns to his left, dark brows knit together and gaze tightened in my direction—and then he does the craziest thing: lifting his finger to his lips, he shushes me.

He. Shushes. Me.

Like a child.

Facing ahead, I take another drink, the glass trembling in my hand as a cocktail of thoughts swarm my head. The mirror behind the bar catches my reflection, and it isn’t pretty, but this time it has nothing to do with the damp, wiry, dishwater-blonde bun or the bar bathroom makeover.

Basic human decency is the one thing I value most in this world, and this man has none of it.

The full weight of his piercing stare anchors me to my seat, and every atom in my body is shouting for me to stay, to not march ten feet down the bar to give him a piece of my mind.

But today marks the anniversary of one of the worst days of my life, I was caught in a rainstorm and stood up, and I’m about two cocktails deep.

My self-control is non-existent.

Drink in hand, I slide off my seat and saunter toward the infuriatingly handsome asshole in the five-hundred-dollar sweater, but before I have a chance to utter a single word, he speaks first, “You seem incredibly insecure about something. Are you okay?”

“Excuse me?” I’m glaring, and I never glare. This isn’t good. This man’s about to bring out a side of me I never knew existed. And what the hell is he talking about? Insecure? “What kind of—”

“—what kind of asshole bothers a stranger for no reason?” he commandeers my question like he owns it. “Let me ask you this, when you saw me come in, saw me take a seat at the end of the bar away from everyone, what part of that gave you the impression that I wanted to be bothered?”

The man has a point—especially if he isn’t Garrett.

But it still doesn’t make him any less of a prick.

“I wasn’t trying to bother you, I was—”

“Really?” His full lips tug into a taut smirk, his tone as sharp as it is incredulous. “Because I’m pretty sure when you were waving at me and smiling and saying ‘Hi, excuse me’ in that cutesy little voice fifty thousand times … you were trying to bother me.”

“Are you always this cruel?”

“Are you always this desperate?” He doesn’t miss a beat.

My grip tightens on my glass. I’d love nothing more than to dump the remainder of this drink down his pretentious designer sweater.

Lucky for him that isn’t my style.

Besides, it’d be a shame to waste all that top-shelf liquor on a bottom-shelf bastard.

“For your information, I was supposed to meet someone here tonight. Someone fitting your description,” I say.

His jaw sets.

He takes a sip of his drink staring ahead, flashing a smirk that advertises a perfect dimple in the middle of his cheek. “Sure you were.”

“What, you think this is something I do to meet men?” My voice is pitched higher than I intended.

“You said it.” His brows rise as he centers his drink on a coaster.

“Don’t flatter yourself. You’re not my type.”

He sniffs. “I’m everyone’s type.”

I’m … speechless.

Is this jerk for real?!

Not only is this vexatious stranger cruel, heartless, and lacking in basic human decency, he’s also the epitome of arrogant.

“You can leave now.” He waves me off, but I’m stunned into silence as I try to gather my thoughts so I can leave him with one last zinger of a comeback.

“Everything okay over here?” Eduardo is hunched over the other side of the bar, his watchful stare passing between us. I swear he came out of nowhere—that or I was too distracted by this man’s willful audacity to notice him approaching us.

The cocky Adonis shoots me a glance before turning his attention to the bartender.

“We’re good, Eduardo,” he says. “I was just giving our friend here a lesson in etiquette, appropriacy, and basic decorum.”

Once again, I have no words.

Rising from his bar stool, he finishes the remainder of his drink with a smooth swallow before shouldering into his wool trench, heading for the door, and disappearing into the cold, dark evening.

Rain drops pelt the windows, obscuring anything and everything on the other side of the glass.

Peeling my fruitless gaze from that direction, it settles on an umbrella leaning against the wall next to the door.

His umbrella.

The blackest black.

The color of his soul—or the empty space in his chest where his heart should be.

Fitting.

Without giving it another thought, I slap a twenty on the counter and slip into my coat.

A moment later, I’m grabbing the stupid thing and diving out into the rain, praying I catch him in time.

As incensed as I am, as infuriating as he is, sometimes the best thing to do is fight cruelty with kindness. It’s something I learned early on in my life and something I instill in my students from the second they enter my classroom.

I spot him at the end of the block, waiting for the crosswalk to change.

Picking up my pace, I canter over cracked and pitted concrete, squeeze past umbrella-wielding locals—and make it to the end of the street just in time for the light to flick from neon white to warning-sign orange, forcing me to stop.

I wait where I am, my gaze trained on him in case he turns onto a side street.

The traffic signals begin to change, and within seconds, the crosswalk blinks to white.

I sprint across, ignoring the stinging cold rain drops pelting my skin, the frigid air biting through my clothes, and the painful clench in my jaw that keeps my teeth from rattling.

I’m a mere half of a block from him when he turns and disappears inside a local business.

But it isn’t just any business …

… it’s the Paulley-Hallbrook Funeral Home—a place I know well.

A moment later, I’m standing outside the very doors he walked into mere moments ago, frozen in every sense of the word.

The rain slows, gentle.

And then it stops.

Earthy petrichor fills my lungs as I witness the dark-haired, cruel-hearted mystery man as he’s greeted by a lady in a charcoal pant suit.

She places a hand on his shoulder and gives him an apologetic wince before escorting him away.

I wanted to give him the umbrella to teach him a lesson in compassion.

The irony of that isn’t lost on me.

 

Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi.
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j

 

 

#BlogTour “The Cruelest Stranger” by Winter Renshaw




The first time I saw him was at a bar called Ophelia’s on a misty Thursday night. I was there to drown my sorrows after a trying day, he was there to escape the storm. After a brief yet incredibly cruel exchange, the handsome stranger bolted before I had a chance to tell him off. Incensed and three cocktails deep, I followed him out the door, determined to give the audacious Adonis a piece of my mind. 
Tearing after him in heels and barely able to keep up in the freezing rain, I ended my chase when I realized where he was going.
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story. 
I never could have anticipated his…
And I never could have anticipated the way our paths would cross again—or that I would one day find myself falling for a man with a hollow cavity where his heart should be, a man as callous as he was beautiful, as complicated as he was mesmeric. 
They say never to judge someone unless you know their story.
This one’s ours.


Astaire

The sound of children laughing and shuffling down the hallway Friday morning is my cue to silence my phone.

I tuck it into my top drawer for the day and reach for my coffee, stealing a few more sips before the craziness of the day ensues.

I found the Schoenbach obituary—if you can call it that—earlier this morning. The funeral home posted it sometime last night.

Her name was Larissa Cleary-Schoenbach, and she was twenty-seven when she passed. It mentioned no family, no cause of death, no photograph. Nothing more than a birthdate and a single line about a private sunrise memorial service tomorrow morning and the words INVITATION ONLY in bold red letters. All caps.

I spent a few minutes Googling “Larissa Cleary-Schoenbach” earlier this morning. But I couldn’t find a thing.

No social media.

No LinkedIn.

No archived newspaper articles of any kind.

No graduation archives; high school, college or otherwise.

It’s as if this woman never existed.

“Good morning, good morning!” I take my place at the front of the room, grinning and waving and trying to psych them up for the day. Fridays are hard. The kids are exhausted, attention spans are waning. My students hang their jackets and bags on their hooks and then make their way to their assigned square on the rug. “Happy Friday!”

I maintain the smile on my face, sing our morning song, and begin the day’s lesson, but today I can’t help but feel like I’m merely going through the motions. My mind is fixated on that man from the bar last night—and the mystery woman he’s burying.

With the hyphenated name and similar age, it’s fair to assume she was his wife.

At first I thought it seemed odd that she’d have a private sunrise memorial service, but maybe sunrises were her thing? And maybe her passing was so tragic and unspeakable that all he wants is to protect her privacy?

By the time the kids head out for first recess ninety minutes later, I’ve concocted a beautiful love story for the two of them. I’ve imagined a passionate, love-at-first-sight romance.

Trips to Paris.

A sunset proposal.

Slow dances in empty bars.

Lazy Sunday afternoons sipping tea and trading poetry.

Saturday strolls in Lincoln Park.

New Year’s Eve kisses on snowy hotel balconies, her lashes covered in snowflakes as he wraps her tight to keep her warm.

In my heart of hearts, I want to believe he was beautifully, wonderfully kind to her.

That he loved her more than anything in the entire world.

That her death shattered his heart into a million, irreparable pieces.

I want to believe that that was the cause of his cruelty last night.

That he’s simply angry at the world for taking the love of his life away from him.

Death and loss can do a number on you. It can change your entire personality if you let it. Some of my darkest days came in the months following Trevor’s passing.

I want to believe Bennett has friends and family getting him through this, but last night, Eduardo mentioned that when Bennett stops in, he never talks to anyone—which leads me to assume he only comes solo.

Maybe he’s painfully private?

Maybe she was his entire world? All he had?

Maybe they’d had a falling out and weren’t speaking when she died?

The kids return from recess, peeling out of their scarves and gloves, cheeks flushed and eyes wet from the cold. Making my way to the front of the classroom to start the next lesson, I decide to do what Trevor would do if here were still here: I give the cruel stranger from last night the benefit of the doubt.

And then I carry on with my day.


Wall Street Journal and #1 Amazon bestselling author Winter Renshaw is a bona fide daydream believer. She lives somewhere in the middle of the USA and can rarely be seen without her trusty Mead notebook and ultra portable laptop. When she’s not writing, she’s living the American dream with her husband, three kids, and the laziest puggle this side of the Mississippi. 
And if you’d like to be the first to know when a new book is coming out, please sign up for her private mailing list here —> http://eepurl.com/bfQU2j