June 30, 2014

Release Day Blitz: SOMEONE FOR ME by Addison Moore



Puchase via: Amazon | B&N

Kendall and Cruise ignite the pages in the final installment of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling series Someone to Love.

Kendall Jordan knows she doesn't need an elaborate wedding with a Vera Wang dress and a three-tiered cake. All she needs is the love of her life, the hot and romantic Cruise Elton. But she's been dreaming of a picture-perfect wedding since childhood, and so with her finances in peril and a rock band squatting in the Elton B&B, Kendall must take extreme measures. She decides to pen a book about the kinky sexcapades of one Penny Whoredon and Cruz Belton, but in order to do the writing justice she’ll need to conduct some sexy research with the love of her life. It looks like Kendall might just pull it off—but when her protective older brother and Cruise's jealous ex-girlfriend get involved, tempers and insecurities rise, threatening not just her dream wedding but the possibility of having a wedding at all.

Addison Moore is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author who writes contemporary and paranormal romance. Her work has been featured inCosmopolitan magazine. Previously she worked for nearly a decade as a therapist on a locked psychiatric unit. She resides with her husband, four wonderful children, and two dogs on the West Coast where she eats too much chocolate and stays up way too late. When she's not writing, she's reading.

Connect with Addison: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram



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Release Day Blitz for Molly O'Keefe's Never Been Kissed



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Perfect for readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson, Molly O’Keefe’s second novel in her exciting new series—The Boys of Bishop—features an irresistible romance and unforgettable characters in a page-turning story that delivers equal parts emotion and humor . . . with a little edge to boot.

As the daughter of a wealthy politician, Ashley Montgomery has had enough of her parents’ expectations for her future and is going her own way, volunteering to work at a refugee camp in Africa. But her act of charity turns dangerous when she takes a boat trip and is abducted by Somali pirates. Enter Brody Baxter, who was a bodyguard for the Montgomery family ten years ago and doesn’t think twice about coming to Ashley’s rescue. Handsome and tough, Brody has always done what needed to be done. So he swoops in, saves Ashley, and brings her to a place where she can rest and recuperate without the glare of the press and her demanding family: Brody’s small hometown of Bishop, Arkansas. But Ashley soon realizes that she’s not the only one in need of healing.
Holed up with Ashley in a tiny apartment over his brother’s bar in Bishop, Brody is tempted and torn in ways he never anticipated. Beautiful Ashley, vibrant despite her ordeal, fearless enough to love him beyond his wall of self-punishment, is now determined to save him. But with a little faith and a lot of love, they just may find happiness in each others’ arms.



Molly O'Keefe is the RITA Award winning author of over 25 books and novellas. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two kids and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

Connect with Molly: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Amber Hart's After Us Cover Reveal


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“What I want is for you to want me like I want you!” 


I clamp a hand to my mouth. Regret slaps me in the face.

Javier pulls my hand away. His stare takes in all of me. My eyes. My lips. I’m embarrassed by what I said. I’m embarrassed by my ridiculous heart, which thumps loudly, echoing his every touch.

“You want me, mami?”

Yes. In the deepest parts of my bones, yes. 

“Answer me.” His voice is demanding.

“No,” I say, stubborn.

A grin crawls across his face.

“I owe you an apology,” he says. “I couldn’t talk to you earlier. Wanted to. But I couldn’t. You understand?”

“Not at all.”

Javier’s warmth reminds me of the water. Of wanting to jump in. I’d do anything to cool off.

“If I explain it to you, will you remember in the morning?”

“Probably not,” I answer honestly. “But then again, you’re hard to forget.” 

AFTER US is expected to release December 30, 2014.



About BEFORE YOU (Before & After Us #1)


Some say love is deadly. Some say love is beautiful. I say it is both. 

Faith Watters spent her junior year traveling the world, studying in exquisite places, before returning to Oviedo High School. From the outside her life is picture-perfect. Captain of the dance team. Popular. Happy. Too bad it’s all a lie. 

It will haunt me. It will claim me. It will shatter me. And I don't care. 

Eighteen-year-old Diego Alvarez hates his new life in the States, but staying in Cuba is not an option. Covered in tattoos and scars, Diego doesn’t stand a chance of fitting in. Nor does he want to. His only concern is staying hidden from his past—a past, which if it were to surface, would cost him everything. Including his life. 

At Oviedo High School, it seems that Faith Watters and Diego Alvarez do not belong together. But fate is as tricky as it is lovely. Freedom with no restraint is what they long for. What they get is something different entirely. 

Love—it will ruin you and save you, both.

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Goodreads


Amber Hart grew up in Orlando, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia. She now resides on the Florida coastline with family. When unable to find a book, she can be found writing, daydreaming, or with her toes in the sand. She's the author of BEFORE YOU, AFTER US, UNTIL YOU FIND ME, and sequel to UNTIL YOU FIND ME (untitled as of yet). Represented by Beth Miller of Writers House.
Connect with Amber: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

Gennifer Albin's Teaching Roman Release Day Blitz


Purchase via: Amazon 

Jessica Stone has her life in perfect order until her perfectly boring boyfriend Brett puts things in perspective. So when she receives a call to action from her heartbroken best friend Cassie, she ditches her plans for Winter Break in gloomy Olympic Falls and sets off to Mexico for some fun in the sun.

Determined to use her oceanview to prep for her MCATS, she doesn't plan to run into anyone from Olympic State, least of all the cute communications prof she's been crushing on for a year. When he unexpectedly saves the day, the two are thrown together in a distinctly extracurricular activity.

Roman Markson doesn’t expect to run into anyone he knows from Olympic Falls while visiting his family in Puerto Vallarta, especially not a former student. Although Jess Stone has a way of catching men’s attention, a relationship with her is strictly off-limits. However, the rules feel less strict in Mexico, so they agree to a plan: one week in paradise and nothing more.

But avoiding each other back on campus is harder than they anticipated, especially when they can’t stay away from one another. Neither is sure what they have to learn—and lose—before life teaches them a lesson they’ll never forget.


Connect with Gennifer: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads 

Book Blitz: Chrysoprase by B. Kristin McMichael


Chrysoprase by B. Kristin McMichael 
(Chalcedony Chronicles #2) 
Publication date: February 1st 2014
Genres: Time-Travel, Young Adult
Purchase via Amazon

Mari’s return to the present was not exactly what she expected. As the goddess predicted, there are always consequences to going into the past. Now, with the help of her friend Ty, Mari must find a way to get her loved ones back. Unfortunately, it may require the assistance of an ex-boyfriend whom she never wished to see again. He just might be the key to learn how to time travel on her own, or he might have another motive. Mari is left to decide, can he be trusted to help?

A new player is introduced into Mari’s already complicated world: 

I looked up. It felt like someone was watching me. I glanced around the room. The door was still closed, and no one was around. I hadn’t heard anyone enter. Their maids were silent, but not that silent. I looked back around the room. The feeling was still there, but I was alone. 

My focus went back to the documents scattered around the room in glass cases. One toward the far window caught my attention. The carnelian lines around my hand pulsated as if to tell me I was going in the right direction. The tingles in my arm felt much like they did when I was around Seth. I missed him so much, and I was nowhere near knowing how to get him back. It was like Seth was sending me a sign even though we were far apart. I moved slowly down the line of books. Something was calling to the stone that was now imprinted into my arm. I stopped at each book as I passed. Why was one calling to me and all the others not? As I got close to the one I really wanted to see, I paused again. I still felt like someone was watching me. I looked down at the words on the page in the box in front of me. They weren’t the ones calling to me, yet were pretty all the same. 

“Figured this would be where you ran off to,” Logan said quietly from somewhere in the room. 

I was sure I didn’t hear him enter, and I had no clue how long he had been there. He stepped out of the shadow he was hidden in and slowly slunk across the room. Logan had always puzzled me. Around everyone else, you would think he was just another very friendly jock, but alone, he was completely different. His movements were always perfect and graceful, but he kept that hidden from everyone else. I remember the first time I was alone with him. Logan was exciting, and he made me feel like I was the one he had spent his life hunting. I still felt that vibe from him, but now it was just confusing. I didn’t have feelings for him anymore, beyond the annoyance I still felt about our last date. That would probably last forever. The reason I didn’t trust guys in general, and rightfully so, was standing in front of me now. Having him slowly analyzing me was strange. I still got butterflies in my stomach—anyone would get that when someone as hot as him was looking at you. But I didn’t have the loving feelings that once went with those butterflies. 

And new mysteries to be solved: 

I was going to do it right this time. I pictured the Jones house library, and the book that called to me at the party over Thanksgiving. By the time I finished thinking of the book we were there, standing in front of it. Ty took a breath and moved a few feet away from me. 

“I’ve never done that more than a once in a day. That was a bit weird,” Ty commented, shaking out the hand that had been touching the stone. 

I nodded and looked down at the book with the ancient text. I still felt a hum coming off the book. I wanted to touch it and see if the pages were humming like I felt they would be. I peered into the box and looked at the weird lines. It was nothing I could understand. I looked up and around the room. Logan wasn’t there. I really wanted to touch the book. 

“What is it?” Ty asked, stepping behind me and looking over my shoulder. 

“I don’t know. Something about the book makes me feel like I should touch it. Like if I touched it I would know the secret it’s trying to tell me,” I explained. “Gosh, that sounds weird,” I added as I turned around. 

“Weird? Yes. But I’ve seen a lot of weird things happen since we first found these stones,” Ty said, holding his up. The glow I normally saw off the stone was gone. I looked down to my arm. The lines were faded around the edges. We were going to have to wait until the power returned, or for Logan. 

I looked up at Ty. I really wanted to see why I should touch the book. Ty nodded to me. It didn’t matter how weird it was, I was going to try. I looked around the room one more time. Ty stayed right behind me, he was so big that if anyone was in the room they would be blocked from actually seeing me while I touched the book. It felt like I was stealing, or doing something wrong. These texts were old and priceless. Oils from your hands could damage the paper, but I still had to know. The longer I stood there, the more the book pulled at me. I lifted the glass case only enough to get a finger in to touch the text. I slid my finger in and felt the shock as I touched it. I quickly pulled my hand out in surprise. 

I turned back to Ty to tell him what happened when the shimmer of Logan traveling into the room caught my eye. 

And true love to reunite with: 

I leaned forward and pulled his head down to meet mine. I kissed him again. I needed to. I needed to feel that he was real. Each time he went away, and my memories changed, it felt like I lost a part of him. In losing him, I was losing part of me. He was everything I ever wanted. It was scary to feel that way about one person, but it was true. Even Logan and our past couldn’t compare with the feelings floating around inside me at just the touch of Seth’s lips to mine. He was everything I needed. 

“And you?” he asked as he pulled back a little. 

“Me what?” I asked, looking up into his eyes. The desire I saw there was surely mirrored in my own. 

“How long has it been in your time?” Seth asked as he eyed me over, looking for any change in me. 

“Five weeks,” I replied, watching his eyes roam over my body. When most men looked at you like that it was creepy, but the way he looked made my stomach tumble. 

“And Ty was with you there?” Seth asked, finally bringing his eyes up to mine. 

“Yes,” I answered, looking up at him. Did he really want to just talk after all this time apart? 

“But he didn’t come with you,” Seth replied to my answer. 

He balanced on the wall with only one hand, allowing his free hand to reach up and touch my face. I closed my eyes and tried to memorize his touch. No matter how I was with him now, it would never last. I had a feeling we would always have to fight to be together. 

“No,” I responded, feeling his body press up against me. His lips met mine again, and I rested my hands on his bare chest. There were a few perks to the Egyptian military clothing, or rather lack of clothing. 

“Why,” Seth began as he moved his kisses to my ear. “Are.” He kissed down my neck, sending tingles to my toes. “You.” He reached the indent where my neck and shoulder met. “Here?” 

He finished asking his question, but the kisses continued as he pushed the fabric of the multiple tunics I wore out of the way to continue kissing down a line. He began moving back up my neck slowly as he waited for a response, but I was having trouble even remembering the question. It was hard to carry on a conversation when we couldn’t keep ourselves apart. 

Originally from Wisconsin, B. Kristin currently resides in Ohio with her husband, two small children, and three cats. When not doing the mom thing of chasing kids, baking cookies, and playing outside, she is using her PhD in Biology working as a scientist. In her free time she is hard at work on multiple novels; as each day passes, she has more ideas for both current and future novels.

Connect with Kristin: Email | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


June 29, 2014

The Trouble With Flying - PROMO Blitz By Rachel Morgan




The Trouble With Flying - PROMO Blitz
By Rachel Morgan
Young Adult/New Adult
Date Published: June 24, 2014

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When introvert Sarah boards a plane to fly home after an overseas holiday, the last thing she expects is Aiden, the guy sitting next to her who’s never flown anywhere before and refuses to shut up. Hours of random conversation later, they part ways. Sarah can’t stop thinking about Aiden, though, and wondering if she made a terrible mistake letting him go. Should she abandon her safe, predictable life and go in search of him, or would she be chasing a happily ever after that could never exist in real life?




CHAPTER ONE

I don’t make friends on aeroplanes. I know there are people who like to strike up a conversation with the complete stranger sitting next to them, but that’s not me. It’s not that I’m an unfriendly person. It’s more the fact that the conversation centre of my brain seems to seize up in the presence of strangers, and I can’t for the life of me figure out what to say. And even if the other person is happy to simply babble on while I pretend to listen and be interested, I’d really rather be doing something else. Like reading. Or watching a movie. Or sleeping. Or trying to figure out how to stop crying.

Yes. Crying. Because if being shy and awkward isn’t enough, today I’m adding red eyes, tears, and suppressed sobs to the embarrassing mix.

I stare out the tiny, oval window at the patches of reflected light on the wet runway and silently ask God to leave the seat next to me empty. I can’t deal with a chatty neighbour right now. I’d rather watch the black sky and incessant rain until we reach cruising altitude. Then I’ll close my eyes and let sleep take the pain away.

Oh, STOP IT. It’s not like someone died.

I wiggle around a bit in my seat and sniff, trying to listen to my inner pep-talk voice. Think of the good things, I tell myself. I’m on my way home. I’m leaving behind the dreary, wet weather for a sunny, summer climate. That, at least, should make me happy. But thinking about home leads to thoughts ofwho I’m flying towards, and that only makes my stomach twist further.

I hear the sound of a bag being dumped onto the seat at the end of my row. There are only three seats between the window and the aisle—mine and two others—so there’s a fifty-fifty chance this person is about to plonk him or herself down right next to me.

I angle myself more towards the window and swipe my fingers beneath my eyes. I start the furious tear-banishing blinking. Stop crying, stop crying, stop crying. All I need now is for someone to see my blotchy, wet face and start asking me what’s wrong.

I hear someone settling into a seat. I don’t feel movement right beside me, so it must be the aisle seat. Fantastic. I send up a quick thank-you prayer and remind God that it would be spectacularly awesome if He could keep the seat next to me empty.

A tickle inside my left nostril alerts me to the fact that my nose is dribbling. I sniff, but it doesn’t help.Crap, where are my tissues? I lean forward and reach down by my feet for my handbag. Brown strands of hair fall in front of my face and block my vision, but if I can just get the zip open and feel past my purse to the tissues—

No. Too late. Now it’s trickling down my lip and I’m digging around in the bag and I can’t feel the stupid tissues and a drop of tear-snot just landed on my hand and yuck! I haul the ridiculous handbag—I told Jules I didn’t need something so big—onto my lap with one hand while holding the back of my other hand to my nose. And there the tissues are. Right next to my purse. Perfectly easy to find. I rip one from the packet and jam it against my nose to stop the tear-snot flood.

And that’s when I catch a glimpse of the guy sitting in the aisle seat. A quick sideways glimpse, but enough to tell me he’s cute. Excellent cheekbones, a strong jawline, and perfectly messy dark brown hair. Terrific. My nose is dripping snot in front of a cute guy. Not that I should care that he’s cute, or that he’s a guy, because it’s not like I’m going to talk to him, and it’s not like I’m even available—am I? I don’t actually know. And thinking about that makes me want to cry all over again—but STILL. I don’t want to look blotchy and snotty in front of a cute guy.


Rachel Morgan was born in South Africa and spent a large portion of her childhood living in a fantasy land of her own making. After completing a degree in genetics, she decided science wasn't for her--after all, they didn't approve of made-up facts. These days she spends much of her time immersed in fantasy land once more, writing fiction for young adults.

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GIVEAWAY

A $20 Amazon gift card for one winner

E-copy of THE TROUBLE WITH FLYING for two winners

  


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June 28, 2014

Bloomsbury Spark’s Six Month Sparkiversary



DELIVER ME
Bloomsbury | AmazonNook | Kobo | iTunes 

The Sound of Us

The Art of Falling

Positively Mine

Until We End

Pride’s Run

Secret of Isobel Key

Her Secret Inheritance

Road to Somewhere
Bloomsbury | AmazonNook Kobo 

Beyond Our Stars
Bloomsbury Amazon | NookKobo 

My Soon-To-Be-Sex Life

MapMaker’s Daughter
Bloomsbury |  Amazon | Nook | KoboiTunes  




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June 27, 2014

Molly O'Keefe's Wild Child Chapter Reveal Blitz

Purchase via: Amazon | B&N
Perfect for readers of Susan Elizabeth Phillips and Rachel Gibson, this sizzling romance tells the story of a sexy small-town mayor and a notorious “bad girl,” who discover that home really is where the heart is. 

Monica Appleby is a woman with a reputation. Once she was America’s teenage “Wild Child,” with her own reality TV show. Now she’s a successful author coming home to Bishop, Arkansas, to pen the juicy follow-up to her tell-all autobiography. Problem is, the hottest man in town wants her gone. Mayor Jackson Davies is trying to convince a cookie giant to move its headquarters to his crumbling community, and Monica’s presence is just too . . . unwholesome for business. But the desire in his eyes sends a very different message: Stay, at least for a while. 

Jackson needs this cookie deal to go through. His town is dying and this may be its last shot. Monica is a distraction proving too sweet, too inviting—and completely beyond his control. With every kiss he can taste her loneliness, her regrets, and her longing. Soon their uncontrollable attraction is causing all kinds of drama. But when two lost hearts take a surprise detour onto the bumpy road of unexpected love, it can only lead someplace wonderful. 

“Molly O’Keefe is a unique, not-to-be-missed voice in romantic fiction.”—New York Times bestselling author Susan Andersen




NEVER BEEN KISSED, the next installment in the Boys of Bishop series, will be released July 1st, 2014.

Pre-order Links: Amazon | B&N


Chapter 1 

Six months ago 

Jackson Davies knew better. He really did. There were friends you could do free hard labor for, and there were friends you couldn’t. 

Sean Baxter was decidedly a friend you couldn’t. And yet Jackson managed to be shocked when Sean sat down to watch TV while Jackson was still sanding drywall. 

“You’ve got to be joking!” Jackson threw down the sandpaper. He was covered in dirt and grime and sweat. He itched. Everywhere. Agreeing to help Sean renovate his family’s old dive bar, The Pour House, had seemed like a good idea four months ago—a little physical labor, some laughs with friends. 

But so far Jackson and Brody, Sean’s brother, were doing all the work. 

Why are you surprised? It’s grade school all over again. 

“I just want to see this clip on America Today.” 

Sean’s face mask was pushed up into his red hair, revealing a clean circle of skin around his lips. No doubt Jackson and Brody looked equally ridiculous. Jackson needed to shower before heading to City Hall. “Monica Appleby is going to be on. You know, that writer—” 

“You know, I’ve actually got work to do. Real work.” Jackson took off his tool belt. Behind him, Brody kept scraping away at the mahogany bar he was refurbishing. Brody was in town for a week between jobs and he’d committed to slave carpenter labor for that time. 

Jackson couldn’t help the man. 

“I’m sure Bishop will do just fi ne without you on a Friday morning.” 

“I’m mayor, Sean. I can’t just take the whole morning off.” And the truth was, working out here at The Pour House was easier than going into City Hall today and almost every other day. 

Bishop, Arkansas, was dying. Slowly, from a financial wound Jackson didn’t know how to fix. And Jackson took a lot of pride in being able to fix anything. 

At least sanding walls made him feel like he was doing something. 

“I’m out,” Jackson said. “I’ve got a meeting with the city council, and . . .” 

“Shhhhh, there she is!” Sean turned the volume up, and even Brody was forced to stop his relentless work and watch the screen. 

Monica Appleby sat on the couch in the America Today green room. The reality-star-turned-author was everywhere these days. And every time Jackson caught a glimpse of her on a magazine cover or TV show, he thought the same thing: that girl is trouble. 

Her black-haired, purple-eyed beauty was diamond bright but lined in smoke and sin. Something about Monica managed to put a spotlight on every single wrong and dirty thing he’d abstained from in the last seven years. Expensive bourbon, cheap tequila, beautiful women whose names he didn’t want to know, steak dinners, the Las Vegas strip, unpaid parking tickets—all of it. 

She was the human and stunningly gorgeous personification of everything he wanted and couldn’t have. 

It hurt to look at her. 

“Remember her?” Sean asked. “From when we were kids?” 

A terrified six-year-old, clinging to her battered mother’s legs. 

“Of course I remember her,” Jackson said. That girl’s brief nightmarish stay in Bishop was a low point, for him and for the town. It had turned them all into voyeurs, decent people with better things to do than lining up outside the police station for a glimpse of Monica and Simone Appleby and all their pain. 

“I loved that show she was on with her mom,” Sean sighed. 

Jackson did not want to get into the reality-television horror show that Monica and Simone Appleby had inflicted upon the world, years ago. Monica had been a nightmare teenager, and Simone’s inability to control her had made for hugely popular though short-lived television. 

Simone had her own show now, by all accounts equally bad. 

“I gotta go,” Jackson said. 

“See you later?” Brody asked, his black hair held back with a bandana. He looked badass, as much as his brother looked like a leprechaun with drywall dust in his hair. 

“I’ve got to pick up Gwen after school. She’s got an interview down at Ole Miss.” 

“I can’t believe your sister is old enough to go to college,” Brody said. 

She wasn’t. But she was smart enough. And he was just desperate enough to let her go. 

“Can you guys cut the chatter?” Sean asked. “I’m trying to listen here.” 

“We’ll talk with Monica Appleby right after we discuss one CEO’s effort to bring industry back to small-town America,” said Jessica Walsh, the America Today host. 

“Oh, Jessica, I always knew you were a tease,” Sean said, and he grabbed the remote to turn down the volume. 

“Don’t,” Jackson said. Industry and small-town America were kind of his current obsessions. “Leave it.” 

Riveted, Jackson stepped closer to the TV, as a handsome man with sharp blue eyes and shaggy blond hair that made him look like a cross between a surfer and a movie star filled the screen. His teeth were like pearls. Little white Chiclets. 

“Dean Jennings, CEO of Maybream Crackers, makers of Crispity Crackers and Maybream Crème cookies, is moving his factory from South America back to the United States,” Jessica said, managing to make crackers sound sexy. 

“Those cookies are gross,” Sean said. 

“I like them,” Brody answered. 

“You would.” 

Jackson grabbed the remote and cranked up the volume. 

“But that’s not all,” Jessica said, working her long blond hair like a stripper dancing around a pole. “He wants to bring his factory back to small-town America. Can you tell us about that decision, Dean?” 

“Maybream was started in a small factory outside of New York. Twenty years ago we moved it down to South America.” Dean’s earnest-salesman charm played well on the screen—Jessica could barely keep her eyes off the man. “But all across America right now there are factories lying empty and American workers are without jobs. And I just realized . . . I couldn’t stand by and watch American industry vanish, not when I could do something about it. Now, I’m a small company and I can’t change the economy, but I realized I could change one small town by bringing the Maybream Cracker headquarters and factory back to America.” 

“This is all really exciting,” Jessica said. “But I think the most exciting, and frankly, PR savvy, part about it is that you are teaming up with us, America Today .” Jessica smiled into the camera. “And you, our viewers, get to choose the lucky town.” 

“It is exciting and I don’t know about savvy, but I thought it would be fun.” Dean made it sound like saving a small town was a trip to the seashore. 

“Tell us how it works.” Jessica leaned forward across the desk, hanging, it seemed, on Dean’s every word. Or perhaps just hypnotized by his teeth. 

“The application to nominate a town is available online, and my staff and I will look through every entry,” Dean said. “We will pick six that best match what we need in a factory and community. Once we have our six semifinalists, America Today will travel with me to take a good, hard look at those towns.” 

“That’s an interesting aspect of this contest,” Jessica said. “What are you looking for in a community?” 

“Well,” Dean sighed. “Since we’ll be moving our headquarters and staff, we need a place where people would want to raise a family. Someplace wholesome but forward-thinking, with opportunities for kids and parents. With a factory.” 

Oh, God, it was like the man was singing Jackson love songs! 

“That guy wouldn’t know wholesome if it bit him in the ass,” Sean muttered. 

Jackson shot a scowl over his shoulder. 

“What?” Sean cried. “The guy’s a sleazeball—anyone can tell.” 

Behind him, Brody was nodding. 

Jackson dismissed them both, because his heart was about to burst. 

We’re wholesome, we’re forward-thinking. 

And best of all, Bishop had a factory: an okra-processing plant that had been closed for five years. It just sat there, empty, on the south side of town. A reminder of what this town used to be. A graveyard to nearly one hundred lost jobs. 

Jackson had been trying for three years as mayor to bring in new business, new industry that would keep this town afloat—but he’d never dreamed of getting the factory open again. 

“After I narrow down my choices from six to three and make sure the top three have factories that can be retrofitted for Maybream Crackers,” Dean said, “I’m going to let America vote which town wins. And together we will change that town’s future.” 

“Deadline for applications is the end of the month,” Jessica pointed out. “So if you know a town that you think would be a good fi t for Maybream Crackers, check out our website.” A website address scrolled along the bottom of the screen. 

“Give me a pencil,” Jackson said, holding out his hand toward his friends. “Now. Now before it’s gone.” 

“Christ, man,” Sean said, slapping a small oblong carpenter’s pencil into his hand. “You can google that shit, you know.” 

Jackson scrawled the information on the wall he’d just been sanding. It would be painted over, but that didn’t stop Sean from moaning as if Jackson were defacing the Taj Mahal. 

“Dean,” Jessica continued, “thanks so much for coming in today and partnering with us on this great project. I hope more American companies take note and bring their factories back to U.S. soil.” 

“Me too, Jessica. Thanks for having me.” One last movie-star smile and Dean Jennings was gone. 

The show cut to commercial, and Jackson turned down the volume before facing his friends. 

Their wary expressions bounced right off his ebullient mood. 

“Did you hear that? It’s like he was talking about Bishop!” He punched the air in victory. It felt so good, so right, that he did it again. There hadn’t been a whole lot of reasons for fist-pumping these days. “This is it!” he cried. “This is exactly what Bishop needs.” 

“A TV show?” 

“Someone to reopen the factory. Bring back jobs. New jobs. For Bishop!” Jackson was light-headed with relief and excitement. “Oh my God, can you believe that? It’s perfect.” 

“It’s a long shot,” said Brody. 

“I believe in long shots,” Jackson said. “I am the king of long shots.” Not entirely true, but he was riding a wave here. 

Sean, who made being a cynic his life’s work, frowned. 

Now Jackson’s good mood was dented. 

“Just because you don’t like the guy after a clip on television—” 

“Guys who look like that can’t be trusted. It’s a fact. They get everything they want,” Sean said. 

“Bishop is dying, Sean. Dying. We need this.” 

“But a TV show?” Sean asked. “And letting America vote? That shit is always rigged.” 

“You want people coming into The Pour House?” Jackson asked. “Not just the regulars, but new business? Young people? Hot girls?” 

“Hot girls would be nice.” 

“You want your kids—” 

“I don’t have kids.” 

“But you will someday, and you’re not going to want to bus them to school an hour away, are you? If we don’t change our tax base, we lose the schools. That’s it. A chance like this might not come again. The town is in a bad way, Sean. A third of our population has left—” 

“You don’t have to tell me.” Sean held up his hands in surrender, but he didn’t lose that scowl. 

“Then what’s your problem?” 

If Jackson were the punching kind, he would have punched Sean Baxter years ago. In kindergarten, maybe. And probably another hundred times since. For that face alone. Always the doubting Thomas. Always the fly in the soup. 

“Remember when we played baseball in high school?” Jackson shot a “can’t you help me here, he’s your brother?” look at Brody, who only went back to sanding. 

"Of course I remember, Sean. We had the worst record in the state.” 

“We sucked. It’s true. But you know what I remember about you?” Sean asked. 

“I can’t even imagine.” 

Sean leaned over the bar, through sunlight and a snowstorm of dust in the air, catching Jackson in the crosshairs of his light blue eyes. 

“You swung for the fences, every time. Even when a base hit would have sufficed, you went after that ball like it had insulted your mother. Like the fate of the world rested on you knocking the leather off that damn thing.” 

“That’s why I led the team in home runs.” 

“And strikeouts.” 

True. 

“What’s your point, Sean?” 

“I thought you were nuts when you decided to run for mayor, but I supported you. But this show . . . this idea . . . It feels like you’re swinging for the fences.” Jackson stepped forward and poked his old friend in the chest. “That’s exactly what I’m doing, Sean. And 

"I’m doing it right now.” 

He glanced at the wall and memorized the website he’d scrawled there. 

The whole texture of his day had changed. He had to get on that application process, and quick. He wasn’t even sure who had keys to the factory. Shelby Monroe’s mother used to run it; maybe she had the keys. He grabbed his wallet from the windowsill where he’d left it and walked out of the bar into the bright Arkansas morning. 

As mayor of Bishop, population 4,200, he’d been working hard to fix what was wrong with the community, all so that he could leave it. 

And this show might just be his ticket out of here.


Molly O'Keefe is the RITA Award winning author of over 25 books and novellas. She lives in Toronto, Canada with her husband, two kids and the largest heap of dirty laundry in North America.

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