Heather Gray

Flawed...but loved anyway.

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Wordy Wednesday

February 8, 2017

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!  Share an excerpt fewer than 500 words from your family friendly book in the comments below.  Be sure to include the title and one buy link.  Then go spread the word about this post so even more people will find it.

Happy reading (and writing)!!

Here's an excerpt from Queen

"Lord Rutherford needed an American investigator to help, and I made sure he hired me. I learned about the package during my work for him. As for the coded message, I wrote it. The key is a nursery rhyme out of an American schoolbook. No Englishman would ever consider the key might be American in origin.ʺ Her cheekiness hit its mark if Owen's wince was any indication.

"Was Rutherford aware he was hiring a woman?"

Isabel couldn't blame him for the many questions and gave him a saucy wink. "George Melbourne from the investigative agency of McHugh and Associates at your service. As for the other, this plot has been in motion a long time. I thought it best to let Rutherford intercept the package himself and on British soil.ʺ

Owen lifted an eyebrow. "George Melbourne?ʺ

Isabel laughed. "How else was I supposed to make a living? My skill set is limited and specific. Besides, can you imagine me bored to distraction pursuing any of the normal ladylike pursuits?"

"What about the globe? When you tripped in the study and knocked the globe over?ʺ

ʺVery few things I do are on accident."

Owen took to his feet. The still way he held himself bespoke his cautious reserve. ʺWhat do we do now?"

"Blend in and remain unnoticed until the Âne Hurlants makes port."

His eyes wandering toward the door, Owen asked, "And your associates?ʺ

Isabel crossed her arms and stared at him. "Anonymity is our best ally, and Iʹll cut you down myself before Iʹll let you compromise it."ʺ

Owen ran his hand across the lump on the back of his head. ʺI think I got your point."

"I didnʹt mean for that to happen," she grudgingly admitted.

"He didn't see who was trying to take me. If heʹd realized it was you, he might have used a gentler touch."

ʺHe? You have a protector?" The judgment in Owen's voice soured Isabel's stomach. Before she cut him down for his assumption, he hurried on. ʺThat came out wrong. I… You're obviously capable, but my memories of you as a young girl… I can't help but worry about you." Owen's words came to an awkward, stuttering stop that almost had Isabel feeling sorry for him.

"You knew me once upon a time, and I may even think you're a good man, but if you compromise me, youʹll meet your end at my hand.ʺ Bitterness simmered below the surface of Isabel's words.

Owen's eyes filled with questions. "I can't compromise what I don't know.ʺ



Go Back

Competing with the Star
by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I headed into the bathroom and the dark brown stain was so apparent on my jeans. There was no blotting it and going on with my night. And what was worse, I could feel it on my underwear. Ugh. I just wanted to go home and delete this night from everyone’s memory. I could wash my stupid jeans, but I couldn’t erase the picture in my mind that Reagan had planted of how she and Nick had obviously spent every movie date making out. I couldn’t have felt more jealous if I tried. And he hadn’t made any attempts to even hold my hand in the theater. I knew he liked me, but obviously he didn’t like me the way he had liked her.

The bathroom door opened and Asia walked in. “What was that?” she asked.

“I know. Could this night get more awkward?”

“Did you want to hit her with the pitcher or was that just me?”

“The word bludgeon does come to mind,” I said. “Were they…you know…did they…ugh! I don’t want to know, but…”

Asia hugged me. “I know, I get it. You don’t want to know, but now it’s out there and you can’t help but wonder what went on. I mean, yeah, Reagan is a little more…well, she was always in Nick’s lap. Like always. But in some ways I think she annoyed him a bit. She was clingy and I don’t think he was into that.”

So she was all over him when they were going out?”

“Kinda.” Asia shifted. “But he’s with you now. Not her.”

“Was that make out thing with Lucas because she likes him or to get back at Nick?”

“Probably a little of both. But again, he likes you.”

“Yeah, it’s obvious by the way he got so flustered by the reminder of their relationship that he tried to drown me while pouring a soda.”

Asia burst out laughing. “You know what I mean. Here, stand under the hand dryer. It’ll get the worst of it.”

“I hate my life.” Between dealing with Nick’s ex’s little comments and the fact I felt so immature next to her, I also had the fact that Simone was acting odd around him too.

My sample comes from “One of Forty”. Buy at Amazon:

She needed this job—for her, for Jacie.

She continued along the hallway keeping her head down. The heat she’d felt moments before had dissipated. Joshua must have moved away. His stare had been palpable.

Joshua Lowe. There was a nice-looking gentleman. His wavy brown hair had highlighted his brown eyes. His suit had stretched taut across his chest and arms. However, for all his strengths he had seemed rather skittish. It was probably her. She hadn’t made any new friends and she’d lost a few since her mistake. Just as well. She didn’t have time for them anyway.

She rounded the corner.

Main Office

The sign wasn’t very original but it was where she needed to be.
She straightened her shoulders and turned the knob. She plastered a smile on her face as she was greeted by a middle-aged woman with salt and pepper hair. The desk plate read Mrs. Ronald.

“May I help you?”

It was now or never. “Yes. I have an appointment with Mr. Morgan.”

“Oh, you must be Melody Watkins.”

“Yes.” It wasn’t a dream; she was expected.

“Just have a seat. Mr. Morgan will be right with you.”

A couch with a woven tapestry design and several chairs with flowery cushions and cherry wood arms lined the wall behind her. Long-legged beauty queens filled the chairs. Two gentlemen coveted the ends of the couch. That left only one spot empty – the middle of the couch. She’d be wedged between two men dressed in pinstripe suits and black patent dress shoes. There was no alternative.

She drew in a deep breath and got as close to the coffee table as possible.
“Excuse me.” The men moved easily enough and she settled on the edge between them.

“Why are you here?” The gentleman to her left wasn’t exactly friendly.

She wouldn’t be intimidated. “I’ve been hired by Mr. Morgan.”

Escape the Pain to Survive (1 of 3: The New Waiver trilogy)

Christian YA action/suspense (NA cross over)

All profits will be donated to the veteran organization 22KILL through March 31st.

Paperback (free ebook included):

Amazon kindle:

A door at the back of the room bursts open. I gasp at the terrifying sight. Three human forms enter. They’re dressed the same as that scary guard —black combat boots, black cargo pants, black military-style jacket, and black leather gloves. Most unnerving of all is that black cloth they each have tied securely around their faces like they’re a band of dangerous outlaws.The black ball caps just ice the cake.

My heart skips and thuds inside my chest. My mouth gets dry while my hands turn cold and clammy. It was terrifying enough to see one dressed like that. Now there are three more. Seeing nothing but their eyes just completely creeps me out. They’re hiding from us. Why would they need to hide from us? They don’t do that in boot camp.

Confidently they close the distance like lions stalking their prey, preparing for the kill. They stop in unison about ten feet from our position.

My heart pounds harder  .  .  .   faster. I can’t even swallow. I can barely breathe. Everything about this doesn’t seem right. I want to turn around and run, but there’s no going back now.

The person in the middle is the shortest of the three. He sports a stocky build and heartless eyes. Slightly taller and thinner, the one on his right appears to be a woman. Then again, it’s hard to tell when I can only see her stone cold brown eyes between the top of the black cloth and the brim of her black cap.

Those two don’t scare me though, at least compared to the sub-human, giant of a man on their left. He towers over them, his broad shoulders and confident, commanding presence just adding to his intimidating persona. Even more terrifying are his eyes, such an eerie yet alluring bright blue, piercing into anything and everything they fixate upon. One by one, he focuses on each of us as if he’s looking right into our souls, determining our strengths and weaknesses . . . or maybe just strategically planning his first attack. They land on me.

I cringe but then quickly focus my eyes directly at his. It’s all I can do to make him think I’m not scared.

Like lasers his eyes cut right through me beyond the shallow surface of my flesh and into the depths of my terror-ridden soul.

He sees fear. He knows I’m beyond scared.

He studies me as if he’s reading a book. His eyes shift, but not to the next person. Instead, they scan down my trembling body, landing on my torn, damaged shin. He appears puzzled . . . perhaps intrigued.

I want to curl up and hide.

“Welcome to day one!” announces the short, stocky man in a gruff, stone cold tone. “Today and moving forward, you will learn your purpose in life. You will find your family. Above all else, you will protect and serve your country and community."

"Finding Home" by Caroline Denny


Christian Women's Fiction.

You can't go home again. Or can you?

Sixty-year-old widow, grandmother, and lottery winner Marianne Campbell left behind her successful interior design career in Richmond, Virginia, to return to her economically battered hometown of Bartlett, Indiana. The Persimmon Creek neighborhood she loves has been hit especially hard. Most of the early twentieth century homes are in less-than-desirable condition, but she is determined to buy and renovate her childhood home. The problem is that the Yoders live there now.

To hide her extreme wealth, Marianne invents an alter ego, Barbara Rose. Barbara Rose conquers feral cats and escaped convicts to flip other houses in the neighborhood while Marianne ponders how to convince the Yoders to sell. Can Marianne use her wealth to help the community anonymously when under the inspection of a nosy TV reporter and a rival realtor?

A humorous and heartwarming adventure to refute the claim that you can't go home again.


Max and I were finally able to live in the half-completed house at 334 Sycamore View.

The ginger kitten from the closet litter joined our family. I named him Butterscotch but his name quickly changed to Bubba because, as Tom said, he was ‘about two sandwiches short of a picnic’. He did the usual kitten things like wrestle with a leaf or bat an acorn around but it was Max who fascinated him.

Max’s nose had been out of joint since I brought Bubba, his food, and his litter box home. Bubba seemed not to notice, or if he noticed he did not seem to care. He loved to climb up on the back of an overstuffed chair, and jump onto Max’s back whenever the dog trotted by. Max reacted approximately the way a young horse would react the first time he felt a saddle on this back. He bucked. He growled and bared his teeth. He barked. He turned his head to try to get Bubba off his back and wound up chasing his tail while all three-and-a-half pounds of Bubba hung on, apparently enjoying the ride.

Then, suddenly, there was peace. When I woke up one morning and found Bubba curled up in what looked like a nest made by Max’s paws, I knew my boys accepted each other.

The bonus with Bubba came not from his ability to catch mice, which was pretty much non-existent, but from his ability to ride in my truck. I bought him a small dog car seat. With his bright blue harness secured to the car seat by an attached lanyard, Bubba rode as easily as Max.

The kitchen was coming along more rapidly than I’d hoped. The antique jadeite sink was a trial to install but eventually we got it right. It was a piece Sophia Palumbo would have loved, and Sarah went absolutely over the moon when I sent her a photo. Brendon Marshall, the genius who was Peggy’s husband, installed the dishwasher so the door appeared to be just another three drawers, which meant the sink was still the star. On the opposite side of the work triangle was Sophia’s vintage gas stove. Bill knew a man who refurbished old appliances so they not only looked beautiful, they worked like brand new units.

Sophia’s beloved floor-to-ceiling cabinets remained, although somewhat altered. Similar cabinets were in our house when I was growing up. I hated them because you either had to get on your hands and knees to locate something in the back of a lower cabinet, or you were forced to use a ladder to get things from the highest part of the cabinets. Brendon solved the issue with the lower cabinets by fabricating slide-out shelves. The uppers would still require a ladder so he built a library-style ladder that rolled around the corner of the unit into its own snug storage space when it was not in use. Clever, that man. I considered sending Peggy poisoned cookies from Tanya’s Treats so I could marry him once she keeled over, but I decided against it. We needed her in the office to make sure our contracts complied with state law.

The half-bath in the hidden room was complete. We were unable to salvage enough vintage tiles to create a floor so I bought new vintage-look ‘penny’ tile for the floor. Once the wine racks and refrigerators were removed, there was plenty of room to build in a good-sized storage closet. Margie had a five-panel door with the original Russell and Erwin brass-colored steel Eastlake doorknobs and hinges that was a perfect fit for the closet. I opted for painted bead board instead of tile on the lower portion of the walls. It brought a texture to the room that would have been missing, while allowing a stained-glass window to remain the star of the space.
Lucy wandered over one afternoon and fell in love with the room.

“You open the door by pushing acorns.” She laughed as she did it and entered the room. “I never would have believed… Ohmigosh! This window is a work of art.”

The stained-glass window, which I had learned was a hand-made piece depicting tropical birds sitting on a branch with berries, had been cleaned, restored and re-installed. The striking blues and dark red in the window dictated the color of the towels and accessories in the room. Light fixtures complimented the lead holding the pieces of colored glass together. Its insurance value was astronomical. My insurance agent tried her best to talk me into removing it and replacing it with what she called a ‘normal’ window but I refused. “I told her the window is original to the house, it’s been here for over ninety years and it hasn’t been stolen, damaged or vandalized yet.”

Lucy gently ran her fingers over the beautiful glass. “It’s magnificent. I’ve never seen anything by this designer except in a church in Philadelphia when we went to my aunt’s for Christmas when I was ten or eleven. I loved the way the light came through it.”

“Come on upstairs. Not everything is done up there but I want you to see something.”

Jackie’s bedroom was my shabby chic masterpiece. A crystal chandelier Margie rescued when a hotel in Carrollton was demolished, glistened. I had found a queen-size metal bed that was a larger reproduction of an early 20th Century antique double bed. It was not the most cost-effective purchase I could have made but this was Jackie’s room, and perfection was a requirement. A yard sale provided two sets of sheets by the same famous shabby chic designer who created the shade on the pink Depression glass lamp. The sheets were too white for my taste, so I had lightly tea-dyed them. A blanket the same color as the green that would finish out the bathroom, and Lucy’s double wedding ring quilt, protected the lush pillow-top mattress that made the bed extra high, requiring the king size quilt to cover it properly. The bed linens were complimented by a couple of soft blue throw pillows accented with vintage ivory lace. Under the window on the right side of the bed sat the French-style desk and side chair that had been part of the home’s furnishings. After being cleaned and conditioned, the finish on the 1970s pieces emanated a delicate luster impossible to duplicate in new furniture. Placing the pink Depression glass lamp on the desk made me realize that, even though she might not understand what the renovation of the room meant to me, it suited my fifteen-year-old granddaughter as perfectly as it would have suited Jackie when she was in her teens.

The awful mixture of candle wax and who-knows-what-else in and on the black carpet had not damaged the wood. The restored floor glowed in the early autumn sunlight as Lucy gazed upon the home her exquisite quilt had found.

“Other than ours, this is the first time I’ve seen one of the quilts I’ve made on a bed. I’ve only been able to imagine how they look in someone’s home.” Her words were soft and gentle, but the hug she gave me was fierce. “You should decorate homes for a living.”

“I did, for several years after Sean retired from the military. My degree is in interior design.”

The tiles in the upstairs bath were completely revived, thanks to Bill and Margie, who had a source for the material I needed. The tiles caused me to change my mind about the location of the rescued, newly re-glazed claw-foot tub. Where a 1950s pink tub once resided, the rescued tub would soon have pride of place. I planned to paint the outside of the tub celery green and hang towels in a similar shade to complete the room.
Johnny’s bedroom was my next project. My nine- and eleven-year-old grandsons would love this sunny room. I looked around. It was big enough. If I could find what I wanted…

The Seven Days of Christmas (Days of... Series, Book 1
Contemporary Christian sweet romance
(Free Kindle w/ Print purchase)

Rick pulled back from their embrace. He looked directly at Caroline with a hint of a smile. “Oh, I just wanted to bring a little something by for you guys. I decided the house could use a little Christmas cheer.” Resting his index finger under her chin, tenderly he added, “And I thought maybe you could, too.” He stepped back and swept his hand in the direction of the young man who’d entered behind him.

Jackson had already let him in the house, closed the door and was leading him toward the living room. Rick explained, “That’s Caleb Puchansky, the new intern I was telling you about.”

Caroline followed Rick’s gaze toward Jackson and Caleb as they wound their way through the maze of furniture and boxes in the living room. They chatted amiably. Jackson always had an easy time putting new people at ease and making anyone feel like an old friend. Although Caroline also knew that they had already met. Caleb carried a small table top Christmas tree, complete with burlap root ball, tiny lights and cute little package and bow ornaments. Jackson cleared off a space on one of the TV trays. Caleb placed the little tree on the stand while Jackson fumbled around with an extension cord. Once he found an empty space, he plugged in the festive little tree.
While Caroline stood and stared, Rick watched her reaction. Caroline’s eyes began to well with tears.

“Oh, come on, Sunshine, it was supposed to make you smile, not cry.” Rick bridged the small gap between them and wrapped her in a playful embrace.

“Looks like I’ll just have to wrestle you into some laughter.”

Caroline held on tight so as not to fall over. Just as quickly as the tears threatened to fall, they faded away and she giggled into his chest. “Please, no, Ricky! I’m not dressed for wrestling!”

With his arms securely around her waist, he leaned out just far enough to look down and notice her shorts and tank top pajama set underneath her bulky fleece robe. Her fuzzy purple slippers skated along the floor. Rick took in a breath and he felt a peace wash over him as he realized, This is it, this is my moment.

With a glint in his eye Rick asked her, “Are you dressed for hugging?”

She closed her eyes and held him tight; her arms wrapped around his head. She whispered in his ear, “Yes, I think I’m dressed for hugging. Thank you, Ricky.”

The Debutante Bride - a sweet, regency romance
~ First comes marriage, then comes love. ~


As she came to wakefulness, Beth held herself very still, momentarily surprised to find herself in a strange bed, but then it all rushed back into her consciousness. She was a married lady. A countess at that. And she had only met her husband thirty-six hours before.

The thrill of freedom flowed through her as she reminded herself once more that she would never again have to return to the house she grew up in unless she so chose. Of course, she would want to see her mother again, but she allowed herself to bask in the contentment she was experiencing. She wiggled her toes and stretched her arms, reveling in the new sensation.

The unknown factor of her new husband was obviously of concern, but so far he had been remarkably even tempered. She would even go so far as to describe him as kind, at least what she had seen of him in their short acquaintance. Beth could not decide how she felt about how handsome he was. He was deliciously attractive, but she was unsure if that could be trusted. No doubt other women would find it to be a point in his favor.

Available wherever ebooks are sold, including Amazon:

~ Happy reading :-) ~

The Lady Fugitive
By Ada Brownell
A suspenseful historical romance set in 1908. How does a respected elocutionist become a face on a wanted poster?
Jenny Louise Parks, 17, escapes from the coal bin, and her abusive uncle offers a handsome reward for her return. Because he is a judge, he will find her or he won’t inherit her parents’ ranch.
Determination to remain free grips Jenny, especially after she meets William and there’s a hint of romance. But while traveling about the country peddling household goods and showing one of the first Passion of the Christ moving pictures, he discovers his father’s brutal murder.
Will Jenny avoid the bounty hunters? Can she forgive the person who turns her in?
2015 Laurel Award runner-up.
#Review The Lady Fugitive. You’ll laugh, bite your nails; wish you had a gun to help.

Excerpt from "Insurrection" by Kadee Carder

“Hold on, then,” he said over his shoulder, pulling a pair of silver, reflective aviator sunglasses out of his jacket pocket, sliding them over his nose and ears in a smooth motion with one hand.

“Um. Where. Where?” I held out my palms, looking for handles or hidden machine parts to grip. Tucker’s warm, assured hands gripped my wrists, wrapping them around his stomach, crisscrossing them against his buttons. I pulled tight, grabbing the jacket. Again I was thankful for, and jealous of, the thick material, somewhat grateful it held together my liquefying resolve to remain in human form.

“Ready?” he asked over his shoulder, breath warm on my cheek, the sunglasses mirroring the curvy silhouette of his jaw.

I rested my temple against his firm back and nodded. Forget what I said to Logan—I wanted to be Tucker’s sunglasses. He adjusted his leg, kicking off the ground and whipping his boot onto the pedal. The motorcycle jerked us forward. Clenching tighter with my arms and gripping his chest, oh-so-afraid I would slip off the back like a bumbling idiot klutz, I wanted to scream like a giddy schoolgirl from the bubbling frenzy in the pit of my stomach.

Wind swept us along the rocky path, jarring us up and down for several minutes, until Tucker paused the bike at a perpendicular intersection meeting a paved road. “Sorry about the gravel,” he called over his shoulder. “The terra firma will be quite a bit better.”

I nodded again, recapturing my grip on his torso.

“If we take a right here, we’d get to the shipyards,” he shared, nodding toward the road.

“What’s to the left?” I asked.

“Heaven on earth!” he replied. “Just wait till you see it.”

“Fantastic! Hey, hope I’m not squeezing you too much,” I shouted over the growling engine.

“Nevah!” he said, those dimples inclined toward me.

I replanted my cheek against his jacket, blinking. Holding my breath when the engine thundered, we pulsed to life as Tucker pulled out on the road. My shadow waved at my future self, blowing a kiss in the sunshine.


Insurrection (volume 1) available now, and Incomplete (volume 2) will be available on February 28!

Need a good adventure? Join Saylor in the Caribbean! Mysterious military bases, secret armies, and hunky Australians. Only $4.99 on Kindle, Nook, iTunes, and more!

I have One of Forty by Felicia Rogers and am eager to read it. This excerpt sounds very intriguing. Okay I just read through all of the excerpts and all of these books sound really good. Excited about finding new authors.

These all sound like great stories!