#BookReview “Dear Durwood (Third Chance Enterprises Book 2)” by Jeff Bond

on Tour August 1 – September 30, 2020

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5/5 Stars!

I shamelessly admit I am crushin’ on Durwood Oak Jones.

He may have a standing ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine, but he’s not your run-of-the-mill mercenary.

Actually, Durwood isn’t a mercenary at all. He’s not muscle for hire. His unique set of skills simply aren’t available to the highest bidder. Since his military days, Durwood has fought to right injustices because the underdog rarely had the advantage. Which is how he ended up in Chickasaw, Texas.

Big-money Wall Street is suddenly interested in the small town’s single largest employer, Hogan Industries, a manufacturing company. Losing Hogan would be a death knell for Chickasaw. Mayor Carol Bridges is not a damsel in distress looking for a dude in a white hat to save her. She takes her job seriously and is exploring other options to bring jobs to Chickasaw, but her inquiries have been stonewalled and ignored on every front. She simply wants Durwood to get answers for her so she’ll know how to proceed and save her town.

While it’s not diffusing bombs or shooting a drone out the sky six seconds before it hit the fuselage of a jumbo jet carrying six heads of state, Durwood has a gut feeling about Chickasaw’s problem, and he’s impressed with Carol’s forthright nature—and the Iraqi combat medal hanging on her wall—so he agrees to make some inquiries on her behalf.

However, on meeting each of the under-thirty Ivy League graduates who run Hogan Industries, Durwood is not happy with the answers he receives. Jay Hogan and Chester Lyles are arrogant and condescending… and they both will regret underestimating Durwood Oak Jones.

This was such a good read with a great protagonist! I loved the wit and dry humor!

Durwood doesn’t have the swagger of Bond or the ever-simmering rage of Reacher or the mental issues of Rambo. He’s Just. A. Guy. A guy in jeans, boots and a cowboy hat with principles and ethics who believes taking on four guys is a fair fight. He’s buried a wife and a son and tries to stay connected to his youngest son… who works on Wall Street. He takes his blue-tick hound, Sue-Ann, everywhere, and the old dog with a bad hip should also never be underestimated.

Dear Durwood is book 2 in the Third Chance Enterprises series. I have not read book 1—but I downloaded it—and I preordered book 3 so I can learn more about Durwood’s partners, Quaid and Molly.

However, if the author ever penned another adventure for Durwood, I’m here for it! Only, I hope there are no more lawyers… because Durwood hates lawyers!

Enjoy!

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Reviewer’s Note: All books in the Third Chance Enterprises series are currently 99c or available through Kindle Unlimited!

 

Book two in the epic Third Chance Enterprises series, Dear Durwood is a standalone mystery pitting uncompromising principle against big city greed.

Durwood Oak Jones is a man of few indulgences. One he does allow is a standing ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine soliciting “injustices in need of attention.”

This month’s bundle of letters includes one from Carol Bridges, mayor of the dusty, blue-collar town of Chickasaw, Texas. For nearly a century, Chickasaw has relied on the jobs and goodwill of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Now East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. The citizens of Chickasaw fear it may be acquired or bankrupted, leading to massive layoffs — effectively destroying the town.

Durwood and his trusty bluetick coonhound, Sue-Ann, fly to Texas to see what can be done. They find a young CEO born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Factory workers with hammers. A good woman, Carol Bridges, who knows her town is being cheated but can’t get to the bottom of how. And lawyers.

Dirty, good-for-nothing lawyers.

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Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure / Western Romance

Published by: Jeff Bond Books

Publication Date: June 15, 2020

Number of Pages: 215

ISBN: 1732255296 (ISBN13: 9781732255296)

Series: Third Chance Enterprises

Purchase Links: Amazon | Third Chance Stories | Goodreads

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Tour Participants:

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#BookTour “Dear Durwood (Third Chance Enterprises Book 2)” by Jeff Bond

Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond Banneron Tour August 1 – September 30, 2020

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Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond

Book two in the epic Third Chance Enterprises series, Dear Durwood is a standalone mystery pitting uncompromising principle against big city greed.

Durwood Oak Jones is a man of few indulgences. One he does allow is a standing ad in Soldier of Fortune magazine soliciting “injustices in need of attention.”

This month’s bundle of letters includes one from Carol Bridges, mayor of the dusty, blue-collar town of Chickasaw, Texas. For nearly a century, Chickasaw has relied on the jobs and goodwill of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Now East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. The citizens of Chickasaw fear it may be acquired or bankrupted, leading to massive layoffs — effectively destroying the town.

Durwood and his trusty bluetick coonhound, Sue-Ann, fly to Texas to see what can be done. They find a young CEO born with a silver spoon in his mouth. Factory workers with hammers. A good woman, Carol Bridges, who knows her town is being cheated but can’t get to the bottom of how. And lawyers.

Dirty, good-for-nothing lawyers.

~~~

Book Details:

Genre: Action-Adventure / Western Romance

Published by: Jeff Bond Books

Publication Date: June 15, 2020

Number of Pages: 215

ISBN: 1732255296 (ISBN13: 9781732255296)

Series: Third Chance Enterprises

Purchase Links: Amazon | Third Chance Stories | Goodreads

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Read an excerpt:

Dear Mr. Oak Jones: I am Carol Bridges, mayor of Chickasaw, Texas. We are located in the western part of the state, Big Bend Country if you know it. I thank you in advance for considering my injustice. Chickasaw is the home of Hogan Consolidated, a family-run manufacturer of industrial parts. Hogan employs 70 percent of able-bodied adults in Chickasaw, and its philanthropy has sustained the town for ninety years. It’s due to the Hogan family we have an arts center and turf field for youth football. Recently, East Coast lawyers and investment bankers have taken aim at the company. Multi-million dollar claims have been filed, accusing Hogan of putting out defective parts. It’s rumored the company will be acquired or liquidated outright. Massive layoffs are feared. My constituents work hard, Mr. Jones. They have mortgages and children to feed. I have tried to find answers about the Hogan family’s intentions, to see whether I or the town can do anything to influence the course of events. Jay Hogan, the current CEO, does not return my phone calls—and is seen dining at sushi restaurants in El Paso (85 miles away) more often than in Chickasaw. I have gotten the runaround from our state and federal representatives. I believe it’s their fundraising season. As mayor, I have a duty to explore every possible solution to the challenges we face. I do not read Soldier of Fortune regularly, but my deputy police chief showed me your ad soliciting “injustices in need of attention.” I feel certain injustice is being done to Chickasaw, though I can’t as yet name its perpetrator and exact nature. Alonso (our deputy chief) knows you by reputation, and assures me these details won’t trouble you. Thank you sincerely for your time, Carol Bridges Mayor of Chickasaw, TX Chapter One Durwood got to the Chickasaw letter halfway through the sorghum field. He was flipping through the stack from the mailbox, passing between sweet-smelling stalks. Leaves brushed his bluejeans. Dust coated his boots. He scanned for clumps of johnsongrass as he read, picking what he saw. The first five letters he’d tucked into his back pocket. The Chickasaw letter he considered longer. Steel-colored eyes scanned left to right. He forgot about the johnsongrass. An ugliness started in his gut. Lawyers. He put the letter in his front pocket, then read the rest. The magazine forwarded him a bundle every month. In September, he’d only gotten three. At Christmas time, it seemed like he got thirty or forty. Folks felt gypped around the holidays. Today, he read about two brothers who didn’t steal a car. About a principal who got fired for being too aggressive fighting drugs in his school. About a bum call in the Oregon state Little League championship twenty years ago. About a furnace warranty that wasn’t worth the paper it was printed on. Durwood chuckled at the Oregon letter. This one had been writing in for years. Maybe he figured Durwood didn’t read them, figured some screener only put a couple through each go-round and one of these days they’d sneak his through. But Durwood did read them. Every last one. He put the letter about the principal in his front pocket with the Chickasaw letter. Off his right side, Sue-Ann whimpered. Durwood turned to find the bluetick coonhound pointing the south fenceline. “I see,” Durwood said, of the white-tail doe nosing around the spruces. “Left my gun back at the house, though.” Sue-Ann kept her point. Her bad hip quivered from the effort. Old as she was, she still got fired up about game. Durwood released her with a gesture. “What do you say to some bluegill tonight instead? See what Crole’s up to.” Durwood called Crole from the house. Crole, his fishing buddy who lived on the adjacent sixty acres, said he was good for a dozen casts. They agreed to meet at the river dividing their properties. Durwood had a shorter walk and used the extra time to clean his M9 semiautomatic. Leaving, he noticed the red maple that shaded the house was leafing out slow. He examined the trunk and found a pattern of fine holes encircling the bark. That yellow-bellied sapsucker. Durwood wondered if the holes were related to the tree’s poor vigor. Out by the river, Crole limped up with his jug of moonshine, vile stuff he made from Jolly Ranchers. They fished. Sue-Ann laid in the mud, snoring, her stiff coat bristling against Durwood’s boot. The afternoon stretched out, a dozen casts becoming two dozen. Then three. In the distance, the hazy West Virginia sky rolled through the Smokies. Mosquitoes weren’t too bad, just a nip here and there at the collar. Durwood thought about Chickasaw, Texas. He thought about East Coast lawyers. About the hardworking men and women who’d elected Carol Bridges to be mayor and stick up for them. He thought about that CEO picking up raw fish with chopsticks in El Paso. He thought, too, about the principal who’d been fired for doing right. Crole said, “Got some letters today?” Durwood said he had. Crole grinned, showing his top teeth—just two, both nearly black. “Still running that ad in Soldier of Fortune?” Durwood lowered the brim of his hat against the sun. “Don’t cost much.” “They give a military discount?” Durwood raised a shoulder. He’d been discharged from the Marines a decade ago. He didn’t accept handouts for his service. Crole nodded to the bulge in his pocket—the letters. “Anything interesting?” “Sure,” Durwood said. “Plenty.” They fished into twilight. Durwood caught just five bluegill. Crole, twenty years his senior and luckier with fish, reeled in a dozen, plus a decent-size channel cat despite using the wrong bait. The men strung their catches on a chain. The chain rippled in the cool, clear water. The Chickasaw job appealed to Durwood. The opportunity to fight crooked lawyers, do something about these Wall Street outfits that made their buck slicing up American companies, putting craftsmen out of work until every last doodad was made in some knockoff plant in China. Still, Durwood had trouble imagining the case. What would he do, flip through documents? Sit across a folding table from men in suits and ask questions? Then he thought about the principal. About those gangs the letter had mentioned, how you could look out the windows of the dang school and see drug dealers on street corners. Intimidators. Armed thugs. Durwood had an easy time imagining that case. The sky had just gotten its first purple tinge when Durwood lost his bait a third time running. “These fish.” He held his empty hook out of the water, shaking his head. Crole said, “There’s catfish down there older than you.” “Smarter, too,” Durwood said. Still, the five bluegill would be enough for him and Sue-Ann. Durwood unclipped the fishes’ cheeks from the chain and dropped them in a bucket. Back at the house, Durwood spotted the yellow-bellied sapsucker climbing the red maple. Not only was he pecking the tree, the ornery creature kept pulling twigs from the gray squirrels’ nest, the one they’d built with care and sheltered in the last four winters. “Git down!” Durwood called. The sapsucker zipped away to other antics. Inside, Durwood scaled and beheaded the bluegill. Then he fried them in grease and cornmeal. Sue-Ann ate only half a fish. Durwood moved the crispy tail under her nose. “Another bite?” The dog sneezed, rattly in her chest. Durwood rinsed his dishes and switched on a desktop computer. He looked up Chickasaw. There was plenty of information online. Population, land area. Nearly every mention of the town made reference to Hogan Consolidated. It looked like Hogan Consolidated was Chickasaw, Texas, and vice versa. On the official municipal website, he found a picture of Carol Bridges. She wore a hardhat, smiling among construction workers. Handsome woman. Warm, lively eyes. Next, Durwood looked up the fired principal. The man lived and worked in upstate New York. For a few weeks, his case had been all over the local news there. A city councilman believed he’d been railroaded. Nineteen years he’d served the school district without prior incident. The only blemish Durwood found was a college DUI. Durwood hadn’t started with computers until his thirties. His calloused fingers regularly struck the keys wrong, but he managed. This one he’d gotten from the Walmart in Barboursville, forty-nine bucks on Black Friday. It had its uses. A tool like any other. “Well?” he said aloud, even though Sue was out on the porch. “Looks like a tossup.” Durwood changed computer windows to look again at Carol Bridges. Then changed back to the principal. At the bottom of the news story about the principal, he noticed a bubble with “47 comments” inside. He knew people who spouted off online were unreliable and often foolish. He clicked anyway. “Good riddance, got what he deserved!” “TOTAL RACIST WINDBAG, glad they fired him.” Durwood read all forty-seven comments. Some defended the man, but most were negative. It was impossible to know how much was legitimate. Durwood left judging to Him, and Him alone. But Durwood did know that the petitioner, the one who’d written the letter to Soldier of Fortune, was the principal himself. Not some third party. Not an objective observer. What had seemed like a case of obvious bureaucratic overreach suddenly looked less obvious. Now Sue-Ann loped in from the porch. Appalachian air followed her inside, nice as perfume. Sue settled at Durwood’s feet, wheezing, rheumy eyes aimed up at her master. He said, “What do you say, girl. Up for seeing the Lone Star State?” The dog sat up straight, responding to the action in his voice. The effort made her mew. That hip. Durwood laid his thumb down the ridge of the dog’s skull. He felt pained himself, thinking of documents, folding tables, and men in suits. Chapter Two It was a healthy drive, nearly two thousand miles, to see this Carol Bridges. Doubts remained in Durwood’s mind. Petitioners he met through the Soldier of Fortune ad fell through sometimes. It would turn out their letter was misleading or flat false. Other times the injustice had taken care of itself by the time Durwood arrived. Once he’d driven clear to Nebraska to help a man whose pride and joy, a 1917 Ford Bucket T he’d restored from salvage by hand, had been denied roadworthiness by some city councilman with a grudge. When Durwood knocked on his door and asked about the hot rod, the man said, “The Ford? Guy made me an offer, I sold her a few weeks back.” Durwood decided it was worth the trip to hear Carol Bridges out. If he didn’t like what she said, he’d tip his hat, get back in the Vanagon, and drive home. Crole observed, “You could call.” Durwood was humping supplies into the van. “Folks can say anything on the phone.” The older man looked to the horizon, where the sun would rise soon. His pajamas dragged the dirt, and he held his jug by two fingers. “They can say anything to your face, too.” Durwood whistled to Sue-Ann. “It’s different,” he said as the dog climbed in. “Lay off that shine, hm?” Crole looked down at his jug as though surprised by its presence. He answered, “Don’t kill anyone you don’t have to.” With a wave, Durwood took out. The van wheezed over mountain switchbacks and chugged steadily along interstates. By afternoon, Sue was wincing on the bare metal floor. Durwood bought her a mat next time he stopped for gas. They reached Chickasaw the following morning. Crossing the city limit, they saw fields of wheat and corn, and grain elevators, and dry dusty homesteads. Factories burped smoke farther on. Billboards shilled for some dentist, somebody else who wanted to be sheriff. Downtown Chickasaw was a grid, eight blocks square. Durwood saw the turf field mentioned in the letter and smiled. A boarded-up building with a sign reading, Lyles Community Outreach Center. A fancy hotel that looked out of place. Next door to City Hall, Durwood’s destination, was a coffee shop called Peaceful Beans. The logo showed the name written along the stems of the peace sign. The light bulbs inside had those squiggly vintage filaments. Durwood knew that these towns, rural or not, had all types. You got your vegan yoga instructors living next to redneck truckers—sometimes married to each other. City Hall itself was a stone structure, two stories high. A sign indicated the municipal jail was located in the basement. Durwood parked. His bones creaked as he stepped from the van and stretched. The woman working reception cooed at Sue, who’d rolled over on her back. The big ham. Durwood stated their business, declared his M9, and passed through a metal detector before being shown to the mayor’s office. Carol Bridges stood from her desk with a humble smile. “Mr. Oak Jones, thank you for traveling all this way for our town.” “You’re welcome,” he said. “Call me Durwood, please.” She said she would and handed him a business card with her personal number circled. Durwood placed the card in his bluejeans pocket. The mayor gestured to an armchair whose upholstery had worn thin. Durwood, removing his hat, sat. “My dog goes where I go, generally,” he explained. “She can sit outside if need be.” “Don’t be silly.” The mayor reached into a drawer of her desk for a biscuit. “If I’d known, I’d have brought in my German Shepherd.” She didn’t just toss the biscuit at Sue, as some will. Carol Bridges commanded the dog to sit first. Sue sat. The mayor squatted and offered the treat, palm up, her knees pinching below a dark skirt. Sue wolfed it down. Durwood said, “We saw the factories on the way in. How many employees?” “Forty-four hundred on the floors themselves,” she said. “Plus another eight thousand in support roles.” “And it’s all going away? Vamoose?” Carol Bridges crossed one leg over the other. “That’s how the winds are blowing.” She expanded upon what the letter had said. For the better part of a century, Hogan Consolidated had produced parts for various household products. Brackets. Pot handles. Stepladder hinges. Nothing sexy, Carol Bridges said, but quality components that filled a need higher up the supply chain. Five or six years back, Wall Street began taking an interest in the company. They believed Hogan was underleveraged and growing too slowly. Durwood stopped her. “What does underleveraged mean?” “As I understand”—the mayor fluffed her dark red hair dubiously—“it means you aren’t taking enough risks. Your balance sheet is too conservative.” “Too conservative?” “Right. You’re not expanding into new markets. You’re not inventing new products.” Durwood rolled her words around his head. “Suppose you’re good at what you do, and that’s it.” Carol Bridges looked out her window toward a pair of smokestacks. “Not good enough for Wall Street.” Thoughts of finance or economics usually gave Durwood a headache, but he made himself consider the particulars of the case now. “But Hogan’s a family-owned company,” he said. “Can’t they tell Wall Street to go to hell? Pardon my French.” “They were family-owned up until 1972, when they sold out.” Durwood sat up in his chair, recalling her letter. She seemed to read his thoughts. “They’re a family-run company. The CEO’s always been a Hogan, but the equity is publicly traded.” “Hm.” Durwood’s head wasn’t aching, but it didn’t feel quite right either. “I read your letter different.” “I apologize, I didn’t mean to be unclear.” The mayor took a step out from behind her desk. “I hope you don’t feel I brought you here on false pretenses.” They looked at each other. The woman’s face tipped sympathetically and flushed, her eyes wide with concern. On the wall behind her hung the Iraq Campaign Medal and the striped ribbon indicating combat action. “It’s fine,” Durwood said. “And they’re facing lawsuits, you said?” “Correct,” the mayor said. “A class-action suit has been filed by customers claiming injury as a result of faulty Hogan parts.” “What happened?” “A woman in New Jersey’s toaster exploded. They’ve got two people in California saying a bad Hogan hinge caused them to fall. One broke her wrist.” “Her wrist.” Carol Bridges nodded. “Falling off a stepladder?” She nodded again. “What’re the Hogans doing?” Durwood asked. “They have a strategy to stomp out this nonsense?” “No idea. I hear, just scuttlebutt from the cafe, that the company’s going bankrupt.” The mayor flung out an arm. “Somebody else says they’re selling out to a private equity firm—one of these outfits that buys distressed companies for peanuts and parts ’em out, auctions off the assets and fires all the workers.” Durwood leaned over the thighs of his bluejeans. “You mentioned the CEO in your letter. Eats sushi.” The woman smiled. “Jay Hogan, yes. He’s only twenty-eight, and I don’t think he likes living in Chickasaw much. He went to college at Dartmouth.” “Whereabouts is that?” “Dartmouth?” Durwood nodded. He’d once met an arms supplier in Dortmund, Germany, the time he and Quaid Rafferty had stopped a band of disgruntled sausage vendors from bombing ten soccer stadiums simultaneously. He’d never heard of Dartmouth. Carol Bridges said, “New Hampshire.” “If he doesn’t like the place,” Durwood said, “why didn’t he stay east? Work a city job?” She crossed her legs again. “I doubt he could get one. Around here, he was a screw-up. They got him for drunk driving regularly. I was with the prosecutor’s office back then. The police winched him out of the same gully four different times in his dad’s Hummer.” “Why’d they pick him for CEO?” “He’s an only child. When the father had his stroke, Jay was next in line. Only pitcher left in the bullpen.” Durwood drew in a long breath. “Now the fate of the whole town rests on his shoulders. Fella couldn’t keep a five-thousand-pound vehicle on the road.” Carol Bridges nodded. Durwood felt comfortable talking to this woman. As comfortable as he’d felt with a woman since Maybelle, his wife and soulmate, had passed in Tikrit. Carol Bridges didn’t embellish. She didn’t say one thing but mean another—leaving aside the misunderstanding over “family-run,” which might well have been Durwood’s fault. Still, comfort didn’t make a case. “I sympathize, Miss Bridges,” Durwood said. “I do. But I’m a simple man. The sort of business I’m trained for is combat. Apprehending suspects. Pursuing retribution that can’t be pursued within the confines of the law. This situation calls for expertise I don’t have.” He’d delivered bad news, but Carol Bridges didn’t seem upset. She was smiling again. “I have to disagree,” she said. “You need somebody knows their way around corporate law. Knows how to—” “You’re not a simple man. There’s a lot up there”—her warm eyes rose to his head—“that doesn’t translate into words.” Durwood held her gaze a moment. Then he looked down to Sue-Ann. The dog was sleeping. He said, “America is changing. For better or worse. A town like Chickasaw doesn’t get the better end of it, I understand. There’s injustice in that. But it’s not the sort I can stop.” “Of course. I wouldn’t dream of suggesting you can deliver us back to the 1970s.” Carol Bridges laced her fingers over her dark red hair. A funny thing was happening with her mouth. Was she chewing gum? No, that wasn’t it. Using her tongue to work a piece of food out from between her teeth? Durwood didn’t think so either. She was smirking. “All I’m asking,” she said, “on behalf of my town, is this: talk to Jay Hogan. Get a straight answer out of him. I can’t, I’ve tried. The rest of the Hogans live in Vail or Tuscany. We need somebody who can cut through the bull and find out the truth.” Durwood repeated, “The truth.” “Yes. If the jobs are going away, if I need to retrain my citizenry to…” She searched around her desktop for some example—pencils, folders, a stapler. “Heck, answer customer-service calls? I will. But we want to know.” Sue-Ann snored and resettled against Durwood’s boot. He said, “Talk to Jay Hogan.” The mayor clasped her hands hopefully over her chest. “That’s all I’m asking. Find out where we stand.” Durwood thought about the crop fields he’d seen riding into town. The dusty homesteads. The billboards—the dentist, man who wanted to be sheriff. He thought of the factories still putting out smoke. For now. The stakes were lower than what he fought for alongside Quaid and Molly McGill with Third Chance Enterprises. The planet itself was not imperiled. He wasn’t likely to face exotic technologies or need to jump from moving aircraft. So it went with these injustice cases—with injustice in general. Ordinary folks suffering ordinary hardship. “We did drive a couple thousand miles,” he said. “I suppose it makes sense to stay and have a word with Mr. Hogan.” Carol Bridges rushed forward and pressed his calloused hands in her smooth ones. She gave him the address of Hogan Consolidated from memory. Chapter Three Hogan’s main factory and corporate headquarters were in the same building. Durwood parked in a Visitors spot, and he and Sue walked up to the fifth floor where the executive offices were—over the factory. Stairs were murder on the dog’s hip, but she persevered. Durwood stopped every few steps for her. Through the stairwell’s glass wall, he watched the assembly line. Men and women in hardhats leaned into machine handles. A foreman frowned at a clipboard. Belts and treads and rotors turned. Even behind glass, Durwood could smell grease. Nothing amiss here. On the fifth floor, Durwood consulted a directory to find Jay Hogan’s office. His secretary wore nicer clothes than Carol Bridges. Looking at her neat painted fingernails, Durwood doubted she kept dog biscuits in her desk. “You—you honestly thought bringing a dog to see the chief executive of Hogan Consolidated was acceptable?” the woman said, looking at Sue’s spots like they were open sores. “OSHA would have a field day if they showed up now.” Sue-Ann laid her chin on her paws. Durwood said, “She can stay here while I see Mr. Hogan.” The woman’s nameplate read Priscilla Baird. Durwood suspected she’d be taller than him if she stood. Her lips were tight, trembling like she was about to eject Durwood and Sue—or flee herself. “I don’t know that you will see Mr. Hogan today,” she said. “You’re not on his schedule. Jones, did you say?” She checked her screen. “Won’t find me in your computer,” Durwood said. “Is he here?” Priscilla Baird glanced at her boss’s door, which was closed. “He is…on site. But I’m not at liberty to say when he’d be available to speak with arbitrary members of the public.” “I’m not arbitrary. I’m here on authority of the mayor.” “The mayor?” “Of Chickasaw, yes ma’am. Carol Bridges.” Priscilla Baird rolled her eyes at this. Durwood thought he heard, “Getting desperate” under the woman’s breath. Durwood waited. After thirty minutes, he tired of Priscilla Baird’s dirty looks and took Sue-Ann out to the van. She didn’t like dogs, fine. He wouldn’t be difficult just for the sake of it. He returned to wait more. The lobby had an exposed beam running down its center—pimpled, showy. Folks built like that nowadays. Slate walls displayed oil paintings of the company’s executives. Sitting out on tables were US Weekly and Field and Stream. Durwood read neither. He spent the time thinking what questions to ask Jay Hogan. All told, he waited an hour and a half. Others entered and were admitted to see Hogan. Men wearing pinstripes. A made-up woman in her late forties with a couple minions hustling after her. Some kid in a ballcap and shorts carrying two plastic bags. The kid left Hogan’s office without his bags. Durwood caught him at the door. “Pardon, youngster. What did you drop off?” The kid ducked so Durwood could read his hat. Crepes-a-Go-Go. An involuntary growl escaped Durwood’s mouth. He crossed to Jay Hogan’s door. “Excuse me,” Priscilla Baird said. “Mr. Hogan’s schedule today is terribly tight, you’ll need to be patient if—” “It just opened up,” Durwood said. He jerked the knob and blew inside. Jay Hogan was stuffing a crepe into his face with a plastic fork. Ham and some cheese that stank. The corner of his mouth had a red smear, either ketchup or raspberry jam. Probably jam. “The hell is this?” Hogan said. “You—what…Priscilla…” He placed a hand over his scrawny chest and finished swallowing. “Who is this person?” Priscilla Baird rushed to the door. “I never admitted him, he went himself. He forced his way in!” Durwood stood in the center of the office. He said to Hogan, “Let’s talk, the two of us.” The young CEO considered the proposal. He was holding his crepe one-handed and didn’t seem to know where to set it down. He looked at his secretary. He looked at Durwood. His hair was slicked back with Pennzoil, skin alabaster white—a shade you’d have to stay inside to keep in southwest Texas. Durwood extended his hand. “I can hold your pancake.” Jay Hogan stiffened at the remark. “Who are you?” “Name’s Durwood Oak Jones.” Hogan tried saying it himself. “Duuurwood, is it?” “Correct.” Durwood assumed Jay Hogan, like the mayor, wasn’t a Soldier of Fortune subscriber. “I’m a concerned party.” “What does that mean?” Hogan said. “Concerned about what?” “About this town. About the financial standing of your company.” As Priscilla Baird excused herself, Durwood explained his contact to date with Carol Bridges and the capacity in which he’d come: to investigate and combat injustice. There was no reason he and Jay Hogan shouldn’t be on the same side. If the lawyers were fleecing Hogan Consolidated or Wall Street sharks were sabotaging it, Durwood’s help should be appreciated. But Jay Hogan wasn’t rolling out the welcome wagon. “Injustice?” he sneered. “The company’s in a crap situation, a real hole. Not my fault. I didn’t build those hinges. I didn’t, you know, invent P/E ratios or whatever other metrics we aren’t hitting.” Durwood glared across the desk. Every not and didn’t stuck in his craw. He said, “What do you do, then?” “I chart the course,” Hogan said. “I set the top-line strategy.” “Top-line?” “Yes. Top-line.” Durwood resettled his hat on his head. “Thought the bottom line was the important one.” Jay Hogan made a sound between flatulence and a pig’s snort. “Look—we’ve held the line on wages, kept the unions out. Done everything in our power to stay competitive.” Durwood asked what his strategy was on those lawsuits. “Chester handles legal matters,” Hogan said. “Who’s that?” “Chester is the COO.” Durwood raised a finger, counting out letters. “Now what’s the difference between CEO and COO?” Jay Hogan made impatient motions with his hands. “The COO is the operating officer. He’s more involved in day-to-day business.” “Who deals with Wall Street? The money men?” “Chester.” “Who handles communication? Getting word out to the citizens of Chickasaw about what’s going on?” Hogan picked up his crepe again. “Chester.” He said the name—which was prissy to begin with—in a nasal, superior tone. Durwood’s fist balled at his side. “Fella must be sharp, you trust him with all that.” “Chester’s extremely smart,” Hogan said. “I’ve known him forever—our families go back generations. We attended all the same boarding schools.” “Boyhood chums?” Hogan frowned at the question. “Something like that.” “He’s about your age, then?” Hogan nodded. “Couple twenty-eight-year-olds running a company that dictates the fate of a whole town.” Durwood folded his arms. “Sound fair to you?” The CEO’s pale cheeks colored. “They’re lucky to have us. Two Ivy League graduates blessed with business instincts. Chester Lyles was president of our fraternity, graduated magna cum laude. We could be founding startups in Seattle or San Francisco where you don’t have to drive a hundred miles for decent food.” That name rung a bell somewhere for Durwood. Lyles. Recalling what Carol Bridges had said about the gully, he said, “You graduate magna cum laude?” “I don’t need to defend my qualifications to you or anyone.” Durwood nodded. “Must’ve just missed.” Jay Hogan stood up a snit. He looked at his crepe again in its tissue-paper sleeve and couldn’t resist. He took a quick bite and thrust a finger at the door, mouth full. “I’m done answering your questions,” he said. “As CEO, I’m accountable to a shareholder-elected board of directors, which includes presidents of other corporations, a former Treasury Secretary of the United States, and several other prominent executives. They’re satisfied with my performance.” “How many of them live in Chickasaw?” Hogan barked a laugh. “They understand the financial headwinds I’m up against.” “How about those bad hinges? From what I hear, Hogan used to make quality parts.” “Another Chester question. I don’t deal with quality control.” That’s for sure. Durwood saw he would get nowhere with Jay Hogan. This Chester was who he needed to find. Asking this one how the town of Chickasaw was going to shake out was like inspecting your John Deere’s hood ornament to judge if you needed a new tractor. Hogan was still pointing at the door. Finally, Durwood obliged him. On the way out, he said, “You got families counting on this company. Families with children, mortgages, sick grandmas. They’re counting on you. Hogans before you did their part. Now be a man, do yours. Rise to your duty.” Hogan didn’t answer. He had more crepe in his mouth. Walking down to the parking lot, Durwood passed the factory again. It was dark—the shift had ended while he’d been waiting for Hogan. His boots clacked around the stairwell in solitude. He considered what ailed Hogan Consolidated and whether he could fix it. He wasn’t optimistic. Oh, he could poke around and get the scoop on Chester Lyles. He could do his best working around the lies and evasions he’d surely encounter. Maybe he would find Chester’s or Jay Hogan’s hand in the cookie jar. The likeliest culprit, though, was plain old incompetence. Jay Hogan belonged in an insurance office someplace—preferably far from the scissors. Instead, he sat in a corner office of a multi-million dollar company. Did that rise to the level of injustice? Maybe. Maybe, with so many lives and livelihoods at stake. Durwood didn’t like cases he had to talk himself into. He was just imagining how he’d break the news to Carol Bridges if nothing much came of Chester when four men burst from the shadows and tackled him. *** Excerpt from Dear Durwood by Jeff Bond. Copyright 2020 by Jeff Bond. Reproduced with permission from Jeff Bond. All rights reserved.  

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Author Bio:

Jeff Bond Jeff Bond is an American author of popular fiction. His books have been featured in The New York Review of Books, and his 2020 release, The Pinebox Vendetta, received the gold medal (top prize) in the 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards. A Kansas native and Yale graduate, he now lives in Michigan with his wife and two daughters.

Catch Up With Jeff Bond On: JeffBondBooks.com BookBub Goodreads Instagram Twitter Facebook!

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Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!

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Enter To Win!:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Jeff Bond. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card each. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2020 and runs through October 2, 2020. Void where prohibited.

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#CoverReveal “Roping A Cowboy (Blazing Eagle Ranch Book 2)” by Peyton Banks

C O V E R   R E V E A L



Roping A Cowboy 
Blazing Eagle Ranch, Book 2 





It was so easy to piss her off.
So he did it frequently, just to get a rise out of her.



Wade Brooks lived and breathed the Blazing Eagle ranch. It was in his blood, and raising cattle was all he knew. But when it came down to the girl next door, Joy Whitaker, he knew one thing.



He got a kick out of seeing her angry.



She was a spitfire and challenged him every chance she got. He’d loved to tame her, but she would fight back.



Their families were at odds with each other. The rivalry dated back before either of them was born. Whitakers and Brooks grew up hating each other.



A good ol’ country family feud.



Until now.



One kiss and Wade was willing to bury the hatchet. A taste of her, and he knew she belonged to him.



The past didn’t have to drive their future.



Or did it?



Blazing Eagle Ranch Series, Book 1






~ About The Author ~



Peyton Banks is the alter ego of a city girl who is a romantic at heart. Her mornings consist of coffee and daydreaming up the next steamy romance book ideas. She loves spinning romantic tales of hot alpha males and the women they love. She currently resides with her husband and children in Cleveland, Ohio.



~ Connect with Peyton ~



#NewRelease “Spring in Colorado (Colorado Crazy Book 8)” by Milan Watson

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Tansy is the heart and soul of the diner, but this spring her heart just might be stolen…

Scorned by love and promises made long ago, Tansy Bryant has learned not to count on anyone but herself. She runs the White Horse Diner with an iron fist and a heart the size of the Rocky Mountains, but at night she goes home alone.

It took a heart attack for John Miller to accept that his high flying career as a corporate lawyer was never his dream. Determined to slow down and to follow his own dreams he heads to White Horse Creek.

He didn’t expect a turf war over his new diner with a fiery redhead. He also didn’t expect her to be the first woman to capture his heart.

Can Tansy and John move past the challenges love brings to find happiness together?

Find out now. Spring in Colorado is book eight in the Colorado Crazy Series. Another ranch romance guaranteed to tease your senses and make you realize that small towns aren’t sleepy after all.

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Milan WatsonAbout the Author

Milan Watson is a fresh new voice in contemporary romance. Her stories are fun-loving, imaginative and humorous whilst at the same time touching day to day challenges all women face.

She is the mother of two little boys and wife to a supportive husband, who doesn’t mind doing the dishes when she finds herself lost in a story. She spends most of her days dreaming up new characters and bringing stories to life, surrounded by her family and her two dogs Wendy and Duke. She loves creating characters you can identify with and writing stories that will have you laugh, cry and smile at the same time.

For free give-aways and to join her mailing list you can visit her website at www.milanwatson.com

FOLLOW MILAN ON

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#ReleaseBlitz “Romances on the Range: A Limited Edition Collection of Rough and Rugged Cowboys”

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Rough, rugged, and ready to ride. 

There’s no denying it. Cowboys have a certain swagger about them. The way they move. Their walk. Their tough as nails way of life.

No matter how you like your cowboys, one thing’s for certain. They can sweep you off your feet and steal your heart quicker than you can say, “Yee-Haw”.

If you love the charming cowboys of Diana Palmer’s stories and can’t get enough of men on the range, then this collection is exactly what you need in your library.

One-click for your copy today!

Including stories from:
Desiree Holt
Nicole Morgan
Lorelei Confer
Milan Watson
Dawn Luedecke
RaeAnne Hadley
Taylor Porter
K.L. Humphreys
Krista Ames
Abby Gordon
Ava Bari
Breanna Hayse

 

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#CoverReveal “Write You a Love Song (Love in Everton Book 1)” by Fabiola Francisco

Book: Write You a Love Song

Author Fabiola Francisco

Coming 19th September 2019!

Add to your TBR: Goodreads: http://bit.ly/2Mg9msW

Preorder Write You a Love Song Now: https://amzn.to/2KT5YCP

Blurb

What’s a girl to do after burning all of her no-good, cheating boyfriend’s belongings? Throw a dart at a map and start over in a new town.
 
I may be new to the small town of Everton, but I’m well aware that I now share a zip code with a celebrity. You’d have to be living under a rock to not know, Knox Bentley, one of country music’s biggest stars. 
 
When Knox wanders into my bar— careful brown eyes and broody attitude—I can’t tear my gaze away. A cheating scandal fresh on his heels is just one reason I should stay far, far away, but the closer we get, the more I realize he’s not at all what I imagined.
 
But being a famous musician comes with unwanted attention…the kind that tears people apart, and now it’s becoming too painful to stay by his side.
 
They say love is a choice, but so is leaving… 
 

Meet the Author

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from South Florida. Writing as been a part of her life since she was a teenager. Even at that age, she dreamed of happy endings with emotional twists. Her novels include Perfectly Imperfect, The Restoring Series, Sweet on You Duet, and Red Lights, Black Hearts.  
 
Her passion for books and writing has inspired her to write her own stories. She writes novels readers could relate to and grow with. She’s currently working on writing more stories that connect with readers on a deeper.
 
Fabiola also loves expressing herself through art and spending time in nature. In her spare time, she loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.
 

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/bm9D0b  


Preorder Write You a Love Song Now: https://amzn.to/2KT5YCP


#BlogTour “A Cowboy’s Salvation (Redemption Ranch Book 1)” by Megan Ryder

Title: A Cowboy’s Salvation
Author: Megan Ryder
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Western, Cowboy Romance

Release Date: June 25, 2019
Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC.

He wanted to be left in peace…

West Morgan knows all about second chances. After bouncing from foster home to foster home, he finally landed at the Rawlings Ranch as a teenager. There he found a home, something he’d never thought possible. Now an adult, he realizes he’s been given much more: a family and, most importantly, peace. But when his mentor dies and leaves the property divided among his foster brothers and his mentor’s daughter, Tara Rawlings, the fragile future he’s built for himself is threatened.

She wanted to be free of her past…

Tara Rawlings swore she’d never end up with someone like her father, a man completely focused on the ranch to the exclusion of his loved ones. She created a new life for herself in San Francisco, running an interior design company and getting married, then divorced. When she returns to settle her father’s estate, she finds that her birthright is in jeopardy. And the only way to save it is to work with West Morgan, the one man she has always resented—and always found irresistible.

Can they save the ranch without killing each other … or falling in love?

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Tweet: #NowAvailable He wanted to be left in peace… She wanted to be free of her past… Can they save the ranch without killing each other … or falling in love? A Cowboy's Salvation by @MeganRyder1 ➜ http://bit.ly/2HOIM5R #westerncontemporary #contemporaryromance @buoniamicipress

West had Tara right where he wanted, pressed up against him for a slow dance playing on the jukebox. Probably the last one before the band started playing for the night, unless his other brother decided to sing. Ty was partial to ballads. He said the girls loved sad love songs and the soulful men who sang them.
West pulled her close and she relaxed against his body, her hands winding around his neck to tangle loosely in the strands of hair there. She leaned into him, her lower body rubbing up against his, igniting the embers to a fire that never seemed to go out around her. His blood pounded in his veins, a slow molten burn that spread throughout his body and settled low in his groin. He settled his chin on her head and breathed in the fresh citrus scent of her hair and peace settled over him, a peace he had experienced in only one other place.
“You need a haircut, cowboy,” she murmured against his chest.
He let his hands drift lower down her back, just above the curve of her ass, to pull her even closer. “I’ve been busy.”
She ran her fingernails along his scalp, a gentle bite that sent a tingle through his nerves. “Don’t cut it on my account. I like you a little bit messy. You don’t seem so perfect this way.”
He grinned and plunged his fingers into her blonde waves, artfully arranged, messing up the long strands until she looked less sculpted. “Then you won’t mind if I return the favor. Now you look like we just had some fun in the barn.”
She closed her mouth and swallowed, watching him warily. He spread her hair over her shoulders, watching the lower strands brushing the tops of her breasts. Her tongue swiped out and licked her lips and he groaned, dying to take her lips in a kiss, but not here, not in front of everyone.
“You’re killing me.” He pulled her close again and closed his eyes, thinking about cows, manure, anything but the sweet smelling, sexy lady he had pressed up against him, swaying so gently in all the right places. Even thinking of Douglas didn’t douse the slow fire burning in his veins. She rotated her hips, grazing his groin in a move that was too targeted to be an accident. He stilled her hips and she chuckled, the sound vibrating against his chest.
He playfully slapped her ass. “Bad girl. Settle down or I’ll have to treat you like Black Jack.”
She lifted her head and smirked at him. “Is that a threat or promise?”
Before he could answer, the music stopped, and she started to step away, but he tugged her back. He bent down and whispered, “You just wait until we get home, lady. We’ll see if that was a threat or promise.”
She shivered but the secret smile remained on her face.

Ever since Megan Ryder discovered Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught while sneaking around the “forbidden” romance section of the library one day after school, she has been voraciously devouring romance novels of all types. Now a romance author in her own right, Megan pens sexy contemporary novels all about family and hot lovin’ with the boy next door. She lives in Connecticut, spending her days as a technical writer and her spare time divided between her addiction to knitting and reading.

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#ReleaseBlitz “Memories of Us” by Fabiola Francisco 18+


Book: Memories of Us


Author: Fabiola Francisco

Genre: Contemporary Romance

A Rebel Desire Spin Off (standalone)

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#MemoriesOfUsReleaseDay
Synopsis:
The life I’m living was supposed to be ours, not just mine, and without her it means nothing
I couldn’t climb on stage and sing to a crowd, knowing the one person my songs were meant for was miles away from me. Writing songs about her is the best I can do until she comes back because I know we’re not over. We’re just on pause, like your favorite song when you need a moment to take it in. But as soon as I find her, I’m pressing play on our love story.
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Meet The Author:  

Fabiola Francisco is a contemporary romance author from South Florida. Writing as been a part of her life since she was a teenager. Even at that age, she dreamed of happy endings with emotional twists. Her novels include Perfectly Imperfect, The Restoring Series, Sweet on You Duet, and Red Lights, Black Hearts.

Her passion for books and writing has inspired her to write her own stories. She writes novels readers could relate to and grow with. She’s currently working on writing more stories that connect with readers on a deeper.

Fabiola also loves expressing herself through art and spending time in nature. In her spare time, she loves to cuddle with a good book and a glass of wine.

Excerpt 
 
 
I kiss her full lips, my tongue teasing the seam of her lips, begging for permission to deepen it. As soon as she grants me what I want, my tongue thrusts into her mouth. Our lips move together, speaking words we can’t hear with our own ears but can feel in the depth of our souls.  
Mackenzie shifts to straddle me and moans. “I can feel you against my underwear.”
My hands reach under her dress and grips her ass. Her skin is cool against my hands, but the sensation burns me. I rock her into me and she moans again.
“Fuck, Hunter.” Her voice is gruff.
“I love hearin’ you like this. I fuckin’ missed it,” I drawl. Her tiny thong does nothing to stop her from feeling my dick in my jeans. “Bet you’re wet.” She whimpers when I move one hand around and run a finger against her soaked underwear.
“Fuck, babe. Don’t think we’ll have time for much foreplay. I want to feel you wrapped around me, squeezing around me.”
Mackenzie moans again, words gone from her mouth. I move my hand into her panties and feel her against my skin. She’s wet and ready, but I’m gonna make her feel real good first.
I rub my thumb against her clit, and she tenses. “Relax,” I say into her ear.
I continue to please her as she moves above me, her lips on mine in a desperate call for more. When she tenses around my fingers and her breath is labored, I stop and look at her.
“I love you so damn much. I hope you believe me when I say there ain’t no one else for me.”
“For me, either.” She reaches for my jeans, unbuckling my belt and pants, I kick my boots off, followed by my jeans. Mackenzie slips out of her underwear, keeping her own boots on.
“I want you under me,” I lean her back on the blankets, cover her body with mine. I slip into her, slow and steady, and under a blanket of stars I make love to the only woman who has ever had a place in my heart and life.
*Copyright 2018, Fabiola Francisco

“Worth the Ride” by Casey Peeler #BlogTour


 

Single father, Weston Parker is set in his ways, and raising his daughter is his top priority. But his ten-year-old feisty little girl is growing up faster than he ever realized. Her go-getter attitude is one he’s seen before–mainly on himself. When she starts trading in her ponytails for makeup, Weston realizes he just might be in over his head.

Dedicated and driven veterinarian, Timber Sellers always knew that she’d head back home, but she wasn’t quite ready for it to happen so soon. Running into the stubborn and bossy Weston from her high school days doesn’t make it any better either. But when she meets his spunky daughter, Timber knows she’s right where she’s supposed to be. As Timber grows closer to Weston’s daughter, his rough exterior softens. Suddenly, the heat between them explodes and neither can deny the attraction. Weston always goes after what he wants, and this time, he wants a future with Timber.

“You comin’ or what?”

“Hey Marsha, ‘nother round when you get a chance,” I say as I move toward Timber.

As we begin a friendly game of pool, I try my best to concentrate on beating her ass, but each time she bends over to shoot the ball, my mind goes straight to the gutter. Damn, it’s been too long if I can’t get Timber out of my head.

“Let’s see you do that, big boy,” she challenges as she makes me look like a fool then takes a swig of her beer. I do my best and hit only one ball in the corner pocket, which is better than nothing.

We finish our game and then take a seat at the bar. “So what made you come back?”

“Daddy’s retiring and I’m taking over. He hasn’t told anyone yet, but I’m sure most people have figured it out already. Why else would I be back?”

“Maybe because you were tired of Texas.”

“Never. Weston, ohmygawsh, it’s amazing out there. Not only was I in the city, which is crazy in itself, but I got to work the rodeo,” she pauses and smiles like she’s remembering a part of her life she never expected but couldn’t imagine not having experienced.

“What you thinkin’?”

“I always thought one day, I’d see you ride out there. Stupid, I know.” As she slightly blushes, I see a softer side to the Timber tornado that’s usually around.

“Well, those days are done.”

“You can’t be serious. You’ve still got time. Besides there’s one in three weeks and I’m going to be the on-duty vet.”

“I said those days are gone. I can’t leave my daughter without a mama or a daddy.”

She lays her hand on my leg. “I’m sorry, Weston. I wasn’t trying to start something. I thought you were considering it.”

“What?”

“I heard our daddies talking. Your dad said there’s a few spots open and he thought you were considering it.” I feel my blood begin to boil and give her a stern look. “Simmer down, Cowboy. He said considering. Hey, Marsha, I think we need a couple of shots, and the stronger the better.”

As the shot glasses are placed in front of us, I get a massive lump in my throat. It’s been over ten years since I took one with a girl by my side and it got me in a world of trouble.

“Hello?” she says, waving her hand in my face. “What in the hell are you thinkin’ or do I even want to know?”

“I’m gonna pass on the shot.”

“My ass you are! It’s been a long time since we threw ‘em back.”

“It’s been over ten years since I took a shot of anything.”

“Oh… well, you can bet your bottom dollar you’re not getting in these pants tonight,” she says confidently.

She takes the shot glass in her hand, and I do the same. We clink them together, tip them back, and I slam the glass on the table. Then I motion for Marsha to bring another one.


Casey Peeler grew up in North Carolina and still lives there with her husband and daughter.

Growing up Casey wasn’t an avid reader or writer, but after reading Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston during her senior year of high school, and multiple Nicholas Sparks’ novels, she found a hidden love and appreciation for reading.  That love ignited the passion for writing several years later, and her writing style combines real life scenarios with morals and values teenagers need in their daily lives.

When Casey isn’t writing, you can find her near a body of water listening to country music with a cold beverage and a great book.

Connect with Casey