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Change. I've learned to embrace it, ride it out til the end. Sometimes I'm kicking and screaming, other times weeping with my eyes clinched tight. Once in awhile I ride like a dog in a car, head out the window snorting what life has to offer. Mother to young adult children, a marriage of thirty years, and a desert to mountain to valley waltz with God have shaped me into someone I never imagined I'd be. Life is short and I want to live it. Tears, sighs, laughter and change. Every morsel granted to me. Scrambled, shaken or stirred.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Super Cinema Saturday A Little Early ~ Love Happens and Did You Hear About the Morgans?




Love Happens

This film worked as a study in grief. The characters were sensitive, tried real hard, and worked through some heavy stuff. The idea of a bestselling author/speaker running seminars on grief when he had a few not-so-hidden bones rattling around in his closet was very intriguing. And I really liked the way it all played out.

What didn't work for me was the Eloise (Aniston)/Burke (Eckhart) romance aspect. I didn't understand why, in the midst of his struggle/depression, he became so passionately fascinated with her. I also didn't understand much of their relationship overall and why there was such interest on both sides. Many of their moments together just felt painful.

There was no sex but there were a few token comments. Overall pretty clean with some moderate language. If you like introspective relationships or exploring the fascinating world of mourning, or Eckhart or Aniston you might like it. I'd suggest a rental first if you are unsure.





Did You Hear About the Morgans.

This film is a solid three-star, middle-of-the-road film. Adequately entertaining, charming and amusing in some spots and predictable and annoying in others.

I viewed it with four twenty-something girls. They all liked it better than I did and thought it was funny and sweet and all thought that the negative reviews were overdone.

The negative reviews I've heard were mostly about the lack of spark between the Morgans, Paul and Meryl. I thought Grant (Paul) and Parker (Meryl) did okay with the subject matter. Not great, but okay. For starters, this isn't a cutesy chick-flick where boy meets girl, they fall in love, one of them does something stupid or misreads the other followed by the sweet scene that pulls them back together when they discover they can't live without each other. This is a film that deals with a very broken marriage with some pretty hefty issues. The lack of spark was understandable the first half or so of the film. The issue for me was the quick resolution and some roller coaster emotional backlash. Didn't quite make sense and the challenges faced by the couple kind of sucked the funny potential out of it.

Beyond the relationship issues is a life and death plot and the secondary characters. Neither made the film a must see either. Again there are moments of attention grabbing or humor, but moments of blah to frustrating, too.

The film was pretty clean, with a few curse words and a bit of sexual conversation. Mild stuff for the most part. If you love one or the other of the actors, you will probably want to see it. I'd recommend a Red Box rental before buying. If you need a fun chick-movie, this one could scratch some itches, but again, you might want to give it a rent before buying.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Shred Reviewed




Goal accomplished.

30 days of Jillian Michael's 30-Day Shred later I'm reporting results.
For the record, I did not follow any sort of diet or dieting rules and didn't go to her website. If I wanted something I pretty much ate or nibbled or shared it, including a small Blizzard and some boneless buffalo wings. Of course, on the flip side I often ate low-fat yogurt, oatmeal or Cheerios for supper or lunch. But that was because that's what I wanted at the time. Also, I didn't follow any other exercise program or add additional workouts to Shred. Any "success" is likely from doing Shred alone.

Shred kicked my booty on several different levels. An exercise buddy and I committed to doing it all 30 days with each of the three levels lasting ten days. We just methodically did them and when it was time to move on, we did, whether we were afraid or ready or whatever.


My buddy didn't do all the days so I'm just going to report my results. I lost 2 inches off my hips, 2 inches off my waist and an inch from my chest. Not only did the tape measure report that, I feel it in my clothes. Now. As I've discussed this with others and we laughed about Jillian's level 3 comment "You should be seeing that six-pack right about now." we've decided that under the "bubble wrap" I've got hanging around, that there is definite change and toning in those abdominal muscles. I can feel them move. My core is much stronger and the moves have gotten easier to do.

Definition and strength clearly happened in my arms, legs and behind as well.
Overall I lost 3.3 pounds. Not significant, but not awful either. I'm not trying to break weight loss speed records, just get in better shape and working on becoming healthier. So I'm very pleased with that for 30 days of 20 minute work-outs. Now.

Here's the nitty gritty.
I hated listening to Jillian's explanation every day. You can't cut to the chase, you have to go through her 2-3 minute intro. Annoying. Sometimes the comments got a little annoying as well. The visual was nice because the camera hit mostly full body and traveled from the high-intensity model to the lower-intensity model during each move while Jillian explained what was going on and why. I loved that Jillian explained why some exercises were Level 3 and how they worked the muscles, and what was being accomplished etc. The music was a little annoying, too, but I was able to ignore it most of the time. I would've liked to see some different cool-downs because the warm-ups were different for each level.

Many of the exercises are high intensity and I felt a lot of them in my knees both during and after. Level 3 is really high intensity with plyometrics (explosive movements, i.e. jumping) like jump squats, rock stars, sumo squats, jumping jacks with weights, mountain climbers, jumping lunges. In the 10 days we did this level I was not able to do the entire session at the higher level intensity. My body got used to it and my knees aren't barking anymore but be warned. I had a shoulder that yelled at me the first few days I did Level 1 but it hasn't bothered me since. I really felt the squats and other intense moves in my rear-end. So much so that the only relief I got in Day 3 of Level 3 was to do Shred for the day. The ab workouts were mostly painful and did their job, covering every stinking muscle (according to my complaining abs anyway).

I loved, loved, loved that this is an intense 20 minute workout and it's a keeper. I can always put in 20 minutes. No excuses. I am going to give Jillian's Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism DVD a shot. It's 40 minutes and I'd like to see the difference in results.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Ugh. Really?


In honor of 23's soon departure to Chile, I thought I'd share this link with you.

I'm pretty sure she's safe from this horror though. She is packing her own roll of T.P. though.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Scribble and Scrambles ~ Parts is Parts






Pictures are worth a thousand words, and are a nice Plan B when I either have nothing to say or no time to say it. Or both.

Hmmm. Do I have a weird bent for close-ups from unusual angles? Don't know what appeals to me, but, whatever does, does.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Super Cinema Saturday A Little Early ~ The Blind Side



I loved this film.

Why? Because I left the theater feeling encouraged. Blind Side shows that there is hope, even in the roughest of places, and that a different life is just a few choices away. And it manages to do it without uber-cheese and contrived emotional set-ups.

Michael spends his nights at the mercy of people, and if he finds no mercy he makes do. That's just what his life is, the hand he has been dealt. Leigh Anne is a wealthy electrically-charged wife, mother, business owner who doesn't listen to excuses or consider anything contrary to what she wants as a final answer.

When Leigh Anne finds Michael headed toward the high school gym on a night where there was no mercy available, she takes him home and into her family. Day by day, realization by realization, each of them are changed and their lives meld together.

There are tearful moments and ones filled with laughter and often both at the same time. The fact that this story is based on a true one makes it all the more uplifting.

Parents need to be aware of a little language and some rough scenes in Michael's old neighborhood.

Blind Side was so much better than I expected it to be and I had really high hopes.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Keeping Kids Safe Podcast

(Part of me hesitates to post this just because I don't want to even think about it. But.)

Learn about effective ways to keep your children safe from harm and find out what you can do to help stop crimes against kids on Friday February 19th at 11-12 CST on Kitchen Chat.

Margaret McSweeney will interview Marc Klaas, father of Polly Klaas who was kidnapped and murdered in 1993. As a legacy to his daughter, Marc founded KlaasKids Foundation to help stop crimes against children. Please tune in to Kitchen Chat with Margaret McSweeney Friday at 11:00 am CST!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Fortunately, Unfortunately, Finally


Let me share a bit about my alarm apprehension. I don't know why a black cloud of terror comes over me when I face a security alarm. Maybe it has to do with my not liking to be told what to do. Or maybe I've just not had great experience in this area. For a short period of time I worked in a huge house that was converted into a non-profit organization. I'd occasionally have to put on a program after everyone else had left for the day. My job required me to enter the dark building, head to the little beeping box on the wall and to punch in a code. I did set the alarm off once when I panicked and reversed numbers. And another time because, why, I don't remember. I talked to the very nice alarm guys more than those times as well when I called to report an oops.

I always felt this horrible anxiety drop over me the second I put the key in the keyhole and I'd rush to the box to silence it before bad things happened. But it's not like I ever had a Swat Team loosed on me.

So on my unfortunate Sunday morning. Without the benefit of coffee and with a time limit. I balked at the whole idea of the alarm.

Fortunately, the call to a shower and a toilet was stronger than my fear of setting off the alarm. 23 carefully explained that the red button was bad. Very bad. We must not push it. Then she went on to describe the other three buttons. Fortunately, three out of four were our friends. She gave us a pep talk, went over the magical colors and what they meant and sent us on our way. As she headed out the door, before it banged shut she turned. Fortunately. "Hey, here's the security code word in case something goes wrong."

Unfortunately, all sorts of visions danced through my head. Cold gun muzzles against my throat, tear gas gagging me and clouding my vision, me, weeping in a pile on the floor followed by fingerprinting, strip searches. Least of all was the realization that, unfortunately, I was riding in the car in pajamas that were tucked into my sweat pants, my hair was in an unruly smash-sided mess and my legs were unshaved. I didn't even stop to consider the shape of the elastic on my underwear.

Fortunately, we made it to the house without any mishaps that would require the exchange of information with unprepared motorists. Fortunately I remembered the instruction about the red button. We neared the door. I pressed white and then we unlocked the door. Beeping sounded from inside the quiet tomblike home. Unfortunately, that did not sound right. Shouldn't it have stopped. "Rob. It's beeping."

Unfortunately, he looked nervous. "She said it beeped when you shut it off. It's probably okay." I hit the white button again and braced. Surely it would stop. Right? Well. Technically. (But NOT fortunately.) It did. The friendly little "I'm here. Don't forget about me." beep disappeared. But it was replaced with it's big brother. The bellow. The "WHO ARE YOU?" screamed through the house.

UNFORTUNATELY.

Frantic and nervous displays of panic and energy followed as I went to the wall box and pushed the off button. Unfortunately that didn't stop it. Then. The. Phone. Rang. Unfortunately. The alarm company wondered if everything was okay. Fortunately, we could say, yes, yes it was. Unfortunately they didn't release us on our own merits. We needed proof. Fortunately, we had it. The last magic word 23 blurted when she second-guessed our ability to handle the security system.

So. No more danger of the Swat Team. And we finally figured out how to turn off the alarm. Fortunately. Showers. Check. Coffee. Check. Fortunately.

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ I Feel Good.


Did I set off the alarm? More tomorrow.

Today.

Today I'm reporting that 23 and I moved to Shred Level 3 and survived. Seriously, I'm proud of myself. Plank moves, high-impact, abdominal-wrenching moves. And not only did I survive I'm not even miserably sore today. Oh, I feel the muscles I never knew I had, and the ones I've been punishing every day for the past 20 days. But they kind of remind me that I'm making some way better choices...ones to be healthier and to get fit. I never thought I'd ever say that I like how exercise makes me feel. But. I think I do.

That's my Wii Mii doing some sweet moves at the finish line. She's currently sleeping...but I'm not going to post an actual picture of me doing any moves. Not pretty.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Fortunately, Unfortunately


Sunday morning I woke up early, looked at my clock, told my bladder to go back to sleep and quit whining and I passed out for a few more minutes. My bladder didn't stay asleep long, and when I opened my eyes to check how stinking early it was, I noticed that there were no red numbers on my clock.

I turned and looked at Rob's. Nope. None. Our electricity was out. There was not a new foot of snow and gale force winds were not whipping through the trees. Hmmm. Why? Unfortunate, methinks.

We have a well. And electronic ignition on our stove and furnace. No electricity = no heat, no water, NO COFFEE!!!! This is serious.
Fortunately, my bladder woke me so we could possibly get going, arrive on time, and still get coffee in us.

Unfortunately, I didn't plan for the electricity to take a powder and didn't know where the nearest flashlight was. Fortunately, there was just enough light that I might be able to read the power company's phone number. Unfortunately, dim lighting and font the size of insect footprints was not a good combination.

Fortunately, the others knew where a flashlight was. Unfortunately, we all needed showers (did I mention coffee?). Fortunately, 23 was pet-sitting at two houses, and she had to go to one of them anyway. She packed up her stuff (including her snacks for her Sunday School Valentine's Day party) and headed out. She gave us the keys and the alarm information for the second house. (Does this foreshadow anything for you?) I grabbed personal items and shoved them into a bag while Rob did the same. Unfortunately, this house was the one I grew up in and I knew it only had one shower. (Don't know how the five of us did that.) Fortunately, we were both wide awake and no one was likely to sleep during shower time. Fortunately, the alarm has this sweet key chain with four buttons. One you don't push unless you've been kidnapped or hijacked. That's the red button. 23 made sure to tell me multiple times about the red button. "Do NOT push that one!"

To be continued. Hey. I have to go to work.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Borrowed Book


Click to visit a brand new Christian fiction blog. Giveaways, interviews and reviews.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Fresh Air Coming Soon




Looking to make a difference for a kid this summer? Click on the picture. Fresh Air Fund is seeking host families.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Happy, Happy, Whipping



Sanguine is the next temperament I'm going to attempt to squeeze into a mere kitchen tool.

Sanguine is the party personality, the stay out late and sleep-in, pass the chips and dip temperament. Easily distracted, but oh-so-much fun. Short projects, tiny deadlines, things requiring direct, positive and to-the-point details, sanguines are your team cheerleaders.

So I've decided the kitchen whip is my best picture of sanguine.

Whips are used to froth, fill with air, fold and usually make some awesome party food. A meringue? You gotta whip it. Souffle? Ditto.

You aren't going to use the whip for comfort foods like stews and sauces or casseroles. You won't need a whip when preparing dinner or for grilling out. But, the whip brings color, sweetness and fun via sides and desserts. A party isn't a party without something fluffed or folded. Not essential to the basics or life and death issues, but essential for life as it is designed to be lived with colors, spices, scents, laughter and joy.

Kind of makes me want to go hang out with a sanguine. Just for a fresh breath, a new way of looking at things. Whip in the new and whoosh out the old air, quit looking at the clock and the deadlines and responsibilities for a bit.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Road Escapade ~ The New Interactive Game


For the moment, I'm disagreeing with Forrest Gump's Mama. Life isn't like a box of chocolates.

It's more like a high-stakes interactive video game.

While attempting to go from Point A (home base) to Point B (work) I believe I wracked up about 10K in points.

This is how.

Iowa Road Escapade, the game.

Rules:

1. Try to dodge obvious items on road. This can be people, animals and debris.

2. Try to avoid the hidden openings that will grab tires and, if you hit enough, will take you to another level altogether. The hidden openings are often referred to as potholes. Many are a foot deep and some will spread nearly across the entire lane of traffic requiring the driver to use evasive stunt-driving techniques or to just grit teeth and brace for contact.


3. The lives you get depe
nd on your tread, car size, wear and tear and how darn deep the pothole is.


Today's game:

While dodging potholes, hidden under chunks of snow, along the edge of roads, at apexes of driveways and disguised like simple black ice, I encountered a gaggle of turkeys. ( I was unable to take a picture due to the extremely dangerous encounter. But I am NOT kidding.)

Turkeys which I had to avoid.

This was not easy as they were meandering across one of our busier main through-ways. When I say meander, I mean meander. Slow turkey shuffles. An obvious entourage of one understudy male, a handful of adoring females and one alpha male with tail in full fan.

Yeah.

After the turkey encounter I dodged and weaved making it to work with only one direct hit.

Got to love Iowa roads. And I'm just thankful I'm not way northeast of here.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Melancholy Stew For You



So. I've decided that there are probably kitchen tools (also other types of tools, but since I'm a woman and I spend lots of time in the kitchen, kitchen tools it is.) that fit each type of temperament and describe the pros and cons of each type pretty darn spot-on.

Since I'm very familiar with Melancholy, and this particular kitchen tool, we'll start there.

A slow-cooker aka Crock-Pot is a fabulous tool. I use all three of mine often. And I also have two teeny-tiny ones because you never know when you might need to simmer a small portion of something or other. I use my slow-cookers in the winter and fall. Spring and summer just don't quite cut it. Too many delicious and crispy green things, I guess. But in winter and fall, this little buggar is my right hand.

The beauty of this fabulous tool is that you can throw so many parts and pieces into them and shut the lid and then forget about it. Low for hours and hours and hours can bring forth the most tender meat and the best soups and sauces you'll ever let past your lips. Frozen, odds and ends, scraps, all of these tossed in to one of these ends up making a meal. Christmas Eve is soup night at my house and I'll sometimes start a soup on the afternoon of the 23rd just so the flavors marry and mix into true deliciousness. Chili and Pizza Soup. Stew. Hamburger/Potato soup. Spaghetti sauce. All of these scream for a slow-cooker.

But. Here's where the melancholy and slow-cooker collide. What's true of the slow-cooker-magic and not-so-much-magic is true for the melancholy. Melancholy's tend to take in all those odds and ends in life, things like comments, a non-verbal sign, interpretations, hurts -- and they pack them in their inner thoughts and kick on the heat. Sometimes, if the ingredients are good for a stew, what comes out is a very, very good thing. But other items make for a very, very bad combo and the length of cooking time can be death to relationships, not just an overcooked mush of a meal.

We melancholy's need to occasionally go outside ourselves and look for a nice salad. We don't need to pick up everything we see, every thoughtless comment, every issue outside of our control, every hurt, misunderstanding and slight and put it in our little Crock-Pot brain and cook it to death. There is a big world beyond what we can see and smell and taste and understand. Use your little slow cooker for good. It's a wonderful tool but it isn't appropriate for all meals or all seasons.

Put that in your pot and simmer it.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Sitting in the Corner, Writing a Poem by Candlelight



I've been thinking about personalities and personality conflicts of late.

Excuse me for a moment.

(Stop it...I'm not talking bout you, and you know who you are!)

Back to regularly scheduled comments.

I'm prone to melancholy, especially when I've had a run in with either a super melancholy, which leaves me wadded up in a corner like a much used bath towel, or a choleric which makes me feel a little like a pin cushion.

Let me give an overview of the four temperaments (Based on disgusting body fluids, mind you.) (Gag. Blood, biles and phlegm, should you want to know this information.)

Sanguine is the life is a party type.

Phlegmatic is the grown up first cousin to Sanguine. Has a lot of the even tempered sweetness but is a little more dependable and able to get right to the point when needed and the job done.

Choleric, well, these are your Type A classic first-borns, my way or the highway kind of people.

Then the melancholy's, those who wrestle with their thoughts, and others thoughts and sometimes spout something grand, but often are seen wearing black, brooding in the corner and writing poetry by the light of a candle. (I can poke fun since my bad days are spent here. and because it's my blog. ) : )

So. Think about this. I'll be back with more tomorrow. Not through running the thoughts through my Melancholic brain, or was it that I just saw something that looked like it might be more fun?

Friday, February 05, 2010

Super Cinema Saturday ~ Whip It




My Review:

Teen drama and quirk lovers, this one's for you.

Bliss (Ellen Page) lives in dead-end Texas working at the local, home-of-the-Squealer BBQ joint. Her mother (Marcia Gay Harden) knows her daughters tickets out of town include beauty and brains and she promotes this via beauty pageants. Bliss hates this endless parade while her younger sister grabs hold of it. (Begin teen drama.) One day Bliss discovers the big, wild world of Roller Derby and embraces the idea that she can be her own hero. So, she grasps her new dream. (Intensification of teen drama.) Bliss becomes Babe Ruthless, finds her special niche, adds new life to the "We're Number 2!" Hurl Scouts -- slackers of the Roller Derby world, and meets her nemesis on wheels. Bliss embraces the one thing that makes her feel alive, meets the guy of her dreams and then discovers that the big beauty pageant is on the same day as the final Roller Derby face off. (Explosion of teen drama begins here.)

The drama is predictable but the characters are fun and the sports anti-hero concept is fresh. The Roller Derby action keeps the film speeding over film obstacles. My favorite parts of the film all included coach Razor (Andrew Wilson) and his hilarious, dry delivery. Pure entertainment with some laughs and a few feel good, awww moments.

Notes for parents. Teen drinking is an issue, however, there are consequences. One sexual conversation is especially verbally graphic in a scene where Bliss helps gross out her friend so she vomits.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Girl Talk


My male boss sent this e-mail forward to me today. I laughed out loud. Then I found him. He was standing in the lunch room. I said, "Thank you!" He glanced at me, smirked, looked down at the floor then nodded. I said. "Hmmm, reread number 7."


NINE PHRASES WOMEN USE


(1) Fine : This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

(2) Five Minutes : If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.


(3)Nothing : This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.


(4) Go Ahead : This is a dare, not permission Don't Do It!

(5) Loud Sigh : This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)

(6) That's Okay : This is one of the most dangerous statements a woman can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.


(7) Thanks : A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you're welcome. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says 'Thanks a lot' - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'you're welcome' , that will bring on a 'whatever')


(8) Whatever : Is a woman's way of saying GO TO H**L!

(9) Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to # 3.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Kickin My Own Behind-Literally


I have completed 1/3 of a goal. Yay. 23 and I decided to do Jillian Michael's Shred DVD every day for 1 month. Today was day 10.

I have got to tell you, though, my muscles hate me.

Not dislike, not feel crabby at, not annoyed with...they hate me. But it's good for them. They are getting stretched and snapped and squeezed and one day they will thank me.

I'm not going to step on the scale til the end. But I have a sneaking suspicion that the workout is actually taking something off in parts that I wouldn't mind being less than...if ya know what I mean.

And I'm running into a muscle here and there that actually feels rock hard. And I think I don't mind sweating.

Hmmmm.

I think I need to move on to the next level.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Scribbles and Scrambles ~ Lily and Lola Get Schooled



Smack down.

135 lbs of doggie attitude vs. 8 lbs of pure unadulterated cat rage. No contest.

Freckles the cat hid the first two years after the black trio invaded the house.

Methinks she was horrified that not only did we bring two dogs in, but a feisty black kitten as well.

She became like a ghost cat. We'd maybe catch a glimpse or hear the pitter-patter of her little kitty paws, then we'd turn and there would be nothing there at all. She'd come out for affection when she couldn't stand her self-imposed isolation one more second. But usually, it was only when the dogs were on the lower level of the house.

But one day it changed. She must have had one of those "I'm mad as heck and not going to take it anymore moments." Because, all of a sudden, a hissing, spitting, yeouwling hair ball shot out from underneath a bed and she schooled those girls but good.

Now. The girls give her WIDE berth and mucho space and seem to always be checking over their shoulders, wondering if the scary kitty might be hiding, just waiting for a misstep.

Monday, February 01, 2010

Serials and Scenarios ~ Beguiled



This week, the




Christian Fiction Blog Alliance




is introducing




Beguiled


by


Deeanne Gist


and
J. Mark Bertrand






ABOUT THE AUTHOR:



Deeanne Gist, the bestselling author of A Bride Most Begrudging and The Measure of a Lady, has a background in education and journalism. Her credits include People magazine, Parents, and Parenting. With a line of parenting products called "I Did It!® Productions" and a degree from Texas A&M, she continues her writing and speaking. She and her family live in Houston, Texas.


J. Mark Bertrand has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston. After one hurricane too many, he left Houston and relocated with his wife Laurie to the plains of South Dakota.




ABOUT THE BOOK



In the shadows of Charleston, someone is watching her... Rylee Monroe, a dogwalker in Charleston's wealthiest neighborhood, never feared the streets at night. But now a thief is terrorizing the area and worse, someone seems to be targeting her.



Reporter Logan Woods is covering the break-ins with the hope of publishing them as a true-crime book. The more he digs, the more he realizes this beguiling dogwalker seems to be at the center of everything. As danger draws ever closer, Logan must choose: Chase the girl, the story, or plunge into the shadows after the villain who threatens everything?



If you'd like to read the first chapter of , go HERE





Check out their video:





My Review:

Two authors with very different voices and genres have combined their skills and created a nearly seamless read that kept reminding me of the movie version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

Characters crafted in the style of classic detective stories fill in the background and intensify the plot as we enter the life of Rylee. Rylee, a beautiful onetime would-be grand lady of Charleston now lives in a rat-trap of an apartment and walks dogs to pay for a luxurious nursing home for her only living relative, her grandmother.

Rylee's parents left her with few resources and in need of help from her father's former law partner. An "older brother," the partner's playboy son, begins to turn his attention toward the all grown-up Rylee in a whole new way, think the movie Sabrina. Meanwhile items, strange items, begin to disappear from Rylee's clients. The Robin Hood thief takes one less valuable treasure, ignoring many worth thousands more, then he donates it to a charity. Soon, circumstantial evidence makes Rylee a suspect.

Reporter Logan Woods is writing about the notorious Robin Hood thief. But Robin Hood is only one of the colorful criminals throughout Charleston's history. His research leads him to the possibility of a contract for a book. But, his involvement in investigating the crimes leads his heart toward Rylee.

Full of fleshed-out characters and plenty of romance and suspense, this novel is a terrific marriage of the talents of Bertrand and Gist. A very enjoyable and touching read with loads of color, fascinating detail and dimension.