WHAT’S WITH ROMANCE THESE DAYS?

The great romance author, Mary Balogh was kind enough to allow me to reblog this great post from her website. Enjoy 🙂

My blog may be a bit controversial this week, but I will be interested to hear what you have to say.

I don’t read much romance. Yes, I know! There are two main reasons: (a) Reading romance is too much like what I do for a living each day. I prefer to relax with a mystery or mainstream read. (b) I don’t want to be influenced by what I read into following any trends or–worse–unconsciously plagiarizing. I prefer to follow my own vision. I have nothing against romance as a genre (obviously!) and I do actually read some. If an author is tried and true, I will read her books. If I read a review that catches my attention, I may try the book. And if I am asked to read a book with a view to recommending it, I will do it. And let me stress that I am more often than not happy with what I read and eager to come back for more from that particular author. BUT…

image-24

 

Oh, there is a but, and it has little to do with the picture above, which I actually love and find very romantic. All too often these days I am finding that romances are filled cover-to-cover with sexual tension and sexual innuendo and sex, sex, sex. It is as if too many writers have been to too many workshops where they have heard how important these elements are to a romance and how to achieve the desired effect. I am finding characters who are literally panting for each other every time they set eyes upon each other–and even sometimes when they don’t. I find heroes getting erections all over the place and heroines  having the feminine equivalent. I find authors who use every excuse they can think of to get their characters in bed with each other, and even when this can’t be done, then said characters are imagining having sex–in excruciating, graphic detail. And this applies even to historicals, even to Regency heroes and heroines. These characters are totally sex-mad. They are addicted to sex. They need to be in rehabilitation! And I am not even exaggerating too, too much. Is it just me? Have I just happened to hit upon the few books like this that are out there? Or is this the trend now in romance? And I won’t even get into cover art, for which the authors are not always or even often responsible.

Is this what readers want? Is this what authors are being urged to write? What is it with authors of romance these days? (Not all, I repeat!). Romance novels, very generally speaking, should have the three components of sex, romance, and love. Sex is very much a part of a romantic relationship and certainly has its place in a love story. But what about the sheer romance that can make a novel utterly magical? And incidentally it is the romance of a relationship that has given its name to the whole genre. What is romantic about two characters who have the unrelenting hots for each other, even when they scarcely know each other or are caught in a dangerous, potentially life-threatening situation? And what about love? Is the assumption being made that when two characters have had a certain amount of sex with each other and perfected the art of giving and receiving orgasms ad infinitum they therefore love each other and will live happily ever after? What about the gradual building of a real love relationship, moving through romance and sex to something steady and wonderful and likely to last for an eternity?

Give me a wondrously romantic love story any day of the week, even if the most daring foray it makes into sex is a kiss the hero feathers over the heroine’s fingertips (Georgette Heyer’s Frederika) rather than the endless sex romps that sometimes (or maybe often?) intrude into the genre. Right, your turn. What do you have to say? And do feel free to really disagree with me!

www.facebook.com/AuthorMaryBalogh

http://www.marybalogh.com

Advertisements

Riddles and Triggers

I was flying high most of the day yesterday. I had finally finished my latest book, one who is a little darker than what I normally write and had been giving me some trouble. I also got the chance spend some time with wonderful friends that evening. By the time I got home I was lighthearted and happy. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long.

My husband was clicking through the channels looking for something to watch and for some reason he settled on this movie with Keanu Reeves which I hadn’t ever heard of. I wasn’t watching. I was trying to read my novel and begin the major “fixing up” I’m sure it needs, but I just couldn’t escape the dialogue in the movie; the cursing and the plain ugliness of the plot and the characters. I asked my husband to change it a few times but that didn’t happen. The longer I was exposed to the absolutely horrible, gratuitous, violent, and base content of the movie the more disturbed and angry I became. To the point I couldn’t handle it anymore. I snapped! I went to bed feeling awful and had one of the most restless nights of the year.

knock knock

I’m not sure why I react like this to certain movies, or news, or sometimes even music. It’s a real riddle to me. I have a visceral reaction to certain types of violence which can come in many forms; a scene in a movie or show, an angry song, an act of random violence. When other people love horror movies I abhor them. Not because I’m scared, but because most horror movies of today are just an excuse for creative (or not so creative) acts of mind-blowing violence.

When I was younger I used to think that maybe I had been a victim of a violent crime in another life and that these scenes, or music, or certain words had become triggers for memories I didn’t even know I had.

Music can do it as well. If you want to irritate me in the space of a few seconds play some hard rock loud. Something like Metallica or AC/DC makes me feel like scratching somebody’s eyes out in anger. I grew up with metal so why can’t I ever listen to it without feeling a quickly burning wrath inside of me? Another riddle.

guitarist-539981_1280

Anybody who knows me also knows I am possibly the least angry person they have ever met. I’m a great believer in second chances and I normally find ways to excuse even the worst of behaviors. Why do these things anger me so then? As a writer I want to believe that maybe it is indeed a reflection of a past life. There’s an interesting premise for a story, right?

What kind of things make you irrationally angry to the point of making your heart hurt? And do you know why that is? Can you help me solve this riddle?

RAGING FIRE- New Release

✦✦✦ ‪#NEWRELEASE #NOWLIVE #GIVEAWAY #SIGNEDBOOK ✦✦✦

The Guarded Secrets Series is BACK!
RAGING FIRE by Sara Schoen: http://amzn.to/2aSPeI9

Sara Schoen - Raging Fire Cover

Blurb:
CIRA agent, Spit Fire, has a mysterious past.…
No one knows what she went through before joining the agency, just like she wants. She walked away, she survived, or did she? Even after establishing a life at the agency, there’s something she can’t let go of—the need for revenge. She fights to keep innocent lives safe, but in her world, safe is only an illusion.
Especially when Camden Cardoza reveals her worse nightmare has come true…
Her stepfather, now under the alias of Harley Sanchez, is the new leader of the Cardoza Cartel. Harley knows she’s an agent, he’ll be expecting an attack from CIRA, but he won’t expect her to come alone. Spit Fire isn’t willing to risk more lives than the Cardoza Cartel has already destroyed. She’ll put an end to him to give others a chance to live. After all, he ruined her life and now she’s hell bent on returning the favor.
Revenge and the need to protect other members of the CIRA have always been her first priority.
For Spit Fire, this is her life and her family.
Family…that was always the problem.

Screen Shot 2016-07-10 at 11.26.54 PM.png

Suicide Mission: FREE ON AMAZON!!

Covert Operations: On sale! 1.99

Left For Dead: On sale! 2.99

Raging Fire: NEW RELEASE! ❤

===================================================
GIVEAWAY! To win a SIGNED copy of the book by not only me, but every author who atteneded of RVA Romance Authors (the authors of the scandalous Richmond Readers Rehab event) go here and enter (closes September 18th): https://goo.gl/PHOjCg

13932957_10208423255116245_8090515004376960340_n
===================================================

Unbreakable (HoA #3)-Release Blitz

 

Unbreakable (HoA #3)

Heroes of Arcania Trilogy

RELEASE DAY BLITZ

August 18th, 2016

30296890

True heroes refuse to be broken.

Nova started the fight against Fortune for simple revenge, but now it’s turned into something much bigger. Arcania’s criminals are at each other’s throats, putting the city right in the middle of a warzone. She’ll have to work with a few unlikely allies to end Fortune’s games once and for all. Nova thought she understood what it meant to be a superhero, but will she have to lose herself to truly defeat Fortune?

Fortune has given Cole a choice, one with unbearable consequences. When Cole takes matters into his own hands to save his sister Penelope, he realizes too late he’s another pawn in Fortune’s games. Fortune will use Cole’s gift against his enemies…including Nova. Cole will have to become the hero he always wanted to be if he’s going to protect the love of his life.

Nova and Cole could finally save Arcania from Fortune’s deadly games, but are they willing to sacrifice each other?

BUY IT ON AMAZON

Haven’t Started the Series Yet?

HoA Trilogy Release Sale

~*~ABOUT LIZ~*~

12471331_1021016457957374_3649225354684299378_o

Liz Long is a proud graduate of Longwood University. Her inspiration comes from action and thriller genres and she spends entirely too much time watching superhero movies. Her day job includes writing for a magazine publisher in Roanoke, VA.

The Donovan Circus series has best been described as “X-Men meets the circus.” Adult horror story Witch Hearts tells the tale of a serial killer hunting witches for their powers. New Adult PNR A Reaper Made is about a teen Reaper who gets caught between falling in love or saving her sister’s soul. All titles are available for paperback or ebook on Amazon.

To learn more about Liz (including more information on her books, plus writing, marketing, and social media tips), visit her website: http://lizclong.com.

Want to Meet Liz?

HoA Book Signing Flyer

Desert Jewel – Coming Soon

***COMING SOON***

Hot Tree Publishing Presents

Desert Jewel

by Natalina Reis

Rebellion brews inside Milenda’s heart as the date for the Trials approaches. As the heiress to the throne of Natale, she is forced to choose a consort from the survivors of the grueling quest across the desert.

Milenda’s heart belongs to Jaali and wants no part in the ancient and cruel ritual, but the Elders—the true rulers of Natale—will not back down.

Jaali was brought from the far North as a child slave. His only chance to be with the woman he loves is to volunteer for the Trials, no matter how dangerous or how much Milenda objects.

Together they begin their journey of discovery and rebellion against the Elders. But will their love be enough or will they lose everything they’ve fought for?

 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/31123668-desert-jewel

To kill or not to kill, that is this writer’s question

 

“In writing, you must kill your darlings.” –William Faulkner

 

Even though I am perfectly aware of the true meaning of William Faulkner’s words now, as a second language learner I took them very literally for a very long time. It was not easy. I did not want to kill my little darlings (which I at the time took to be my characters). I wanted to write happy-go-lucky stories with happy endings and pretty bows on top. I hate violence so why would I inflict it on my darling characters? It just didn’t make sense to me.

Growing up in to my teens and early twenties I was an avid reader of mysteries (thanks Dad) and these writers definitely killed a lot of their darlings…so should I? Would that put a little more grit and a little less fluff into my stories?

splatter-303569_1280

When I started writing The Hawk, a historic/paranormal romance years ago I decided I was going to kill…something. It didn’t take me long to figure out I was not going to be able to kill anything major in the story. In fact I couldn’t even get myself to kill an animal much less a human being. So I compromised. I thought, “Since I can’t bring myself to killing them, maybe I’ll just hurt them a little bit.” I did. I put an arrow through my main character’s leg and had him bleed to near-death. After that I was on a roll. Poor Hawk went on to suffer from terrible hallucinations that crippled him physically and emotionally. In my next novel, In Her Eyes, I put the poor guy through hell and back, victim of a race crime. I was getting the hang of this even though I had changed the old adage to “In writing, you must torture your darlings”.

Neither of the two aforementioned novels ever saw the light of day. They are still in my drawer, half-typed, half-handwritten manuscripts that I may (or not) resurrect someday.

killer-820017_1920

Of course in the meantime I learned the true meaning of that advice and I do indeed spend a lot of my revising/editing time “killing my darlings”, but ever since my second-language blooper I have stuck to the idea that my darlings must suffer…at least a little bit.

In We Will Always Have the Closet, both the female MC and the male go through some scary, life-threatening events. In my upcoming novel, Desert Jewel, I outdid myself and put my poor male MC through hell. In Loved You Always (out for adoption right now) both MCs have their lives turned upside down in more ways than one. And in my WIP, a dystopian romance (yes, it’s a thing)…well, I think the genre says it all.

One thing hasn’t changed. I still wrap all my novels in a pretty bow of hope and promises of a better, very happy future. Do you kill your darlings?pexels-photo-14117

Where Love Went- New Release

    99c New Release Sale 
Title: Where Love Went
Series: Sequel to Then Comes Love
Where Love Went Release Banner (1)

Genre: ChickLit

Release Date: August 13, 2016
Publisher: Hot Tree Publishing

Editor: Hot Tree Editing

Designer: Claire Smith

 Add to Goodreads
Sometimes unexpected miracles can shift your life off course.A year ago, Amelia, Annie, and Charlotte found second loves in unexpected places. Now, everyone’s life seems to have fallen into place… until a late night knock on Charlotte’s door shakes up everything.

Love rarely goes as planned…

Unexpected news leaves Amelia confused and worried. She loves Owen but is not sure what her future holds, especially with them living the tour life. As the months pass by and Amelia begins to question everything, she wonders if her relationship with Owen can truly last forever.

Sometimes a first love creeps back in…

While helping Amelia sort out her life, Annie finds new problems of her own. A visitor from her past threatens to overturn her relationship with Joe. Annie must make some difficult choices.

As the three women face new complexities in the sequel to Then Comes Love, they learn the fairy tale can fade, leaving you to question everything you thought you knew. However, family and friendship can sometimes be the link you need to find what you want.

 On sale for 99 cents 
Amazon: US | UK | AU | CA 
 
Then Comes Love
(book 1)
 Half-price SALE 
Amazon: US I UK I AU I CA
iTunes I Nook I Kobo I ARe


An high school English teacher, an author, and a fan of anything pink and/or glittery, Lindsay’s the English teacher cliché; she love cats, reading, Shakespeare, and Poe.
She currently lives in her hometown with her husband, Chad (her junior high sweetheart); their cats, Arya, Amelia, Alice, and Bob; and their Mastiff, Henry.
Lindsay’s goal with her writing is to show the power of love and the beauty of life while also instilling a true sense of realism in her work. Some reviewers have noted that her books are not the “typical romance.” With her novels coming from a place of honesty, Lindsay examines the difficult questions, looks at the tough emotions, and paints the pictures that are sometimes difficult to look at. She wants her fiction to resonate with readers as realistic, poetic, and powerful. Lindsay wants women readers to be able to say, “I see myself in that novel.” She wants to speak to the modern woman’s experience while also bringing a twist of something new and exciting. Her aim is for readers to say, “That could happen,” or “I feel like the characters are real.” That’s how she knows she’s done her job.
Lindsay’s hope is that by becoming a published author, she can inspire some of her students and other aspiring writers to pursue their own passions. She wants them to see that any dream can be attained and publishing a novel isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

DARK REDEMPTION-Cover Reveal

 

DARK REDEMPTION by Sarah Marsh
Broken Souls Series, #1
Release Date: August 30, 2016
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Cover Designer: Redbird Designs

SYNOPSIS:
Sofia Boon was ready to make changes in her life, but she didn’t see this coming…Taking a chance, she finds the nerve to ask out her handsome neighbor, but when he doesn’t show up for their date, Sofia knocks on his door and meets a man claiming to be his roommate, and she soon realizes she’s made a horrible mistake.

Eitan Kent is a tortured man, haunted by a death he was unable to prevent…

Eitan believes he is unworthy of being loved. He buries himself in his work and takes a job to track down a wanted criminal, Ben Donovan. He locates Donovan’s apartment, but finds it empty—until Donovan’s “date” shows up.

Eitan doesn’t know what to make of sweet, curvy Sofia, but she’s the only lead he has…

Feeling he has no choice, Eitan decides to take her with him to see if she can somehow lead him to Donovan before it’s too late—or if her innocence is all an act and she’s involved in the bastard’s crimes.

Sofia is terrified and tries to explain to the dark stranger that she barely knows her neighbor and has no idea how to track him down, but Eitan knows exactly how to get the truth from her. Who knew a little torture could be so sweet?

Coming August 30th!
PRE-ORDER TODAY: http://amzn.to/2b8b90v

“Who says it’s always the damsel who needs to be rescued?”

DarkRedemption jacket.jpg

ABOUT THE AUTHOR — Sarah Marsh
Hello there, you’d think that writing the “about” info on myself would be the easy part of this exercise but wow. Not so much. I’ve only been writing stories for the last couple of years, I’ve been a huge fan of science fiction and romance novels for a long time and one day my over active imagination just wouldn’t seem to quit so I got on the computer, started typing and eventually ended up with my first book! It’s an odd career turn for me as I also currently work in an office in an accounting capacity, but I’ve also been a pastry chef as well so perhaps this is a little closer to getting back to the creative outlet that I’ve been missing. It’s great to be able to put little pieces of yourself into these heroines that you perhaps don’t get to show the world or even wish you were more like, its a liberating experience. At the same time, writing is such a personal thing that putting yourself out there to the world to be judged by publishers, reviewers, readers, basically everyone that reads your work is a really scary thing for a lot of people. It was a terrifying thing for me and I am grateful that I have some very supportive family and friends, thank you most of all to Marissa who has always been there right from the start no matter what I put in front of her to read!

I currently live in British Columbia, I’m a bit of a hobby-a-holic. At the moment I am obsessed with scarf knitting, to the point that I had to open my own Etsy store to unload my stock pile of scarfs….I mean how many scarfs can a girl really justify keeping for herself? I also am a painter, mostly abstract in acrylics. With the pastry arts background I spend a decent amount of time still creating recipes and baking, much to the delight of my co-workers who I use as lab taste testers, I love making home made chocolates as well. In the spring and summer I love to plant things and tinker in the garden, and spending time with friends and family.

Sarah.
limitless publishing blue 3

The Virgin Queen-Sale

 

The Virgin Queen

By Jennifer Allis Provost

 

Virgin Queen

☆.•°*°•.☆ SALE ☆.•°*°•.☆

The Virgin Queen – book 2 of The Chronicles of Parthalan

by Jennifer Allis Provost

If you haven’t read The Virgin Queen by Jennifer Allis Provost now is your chance! It’s on sale for 99c, 68p in the UK! Grab it now – book three in the series, Rise of the Deva’shi, will release this fall! #fantasy #romance #sale #99cents @parthalan

 THE VIRGIN QUEEN

Jennifer Allis Provost

The Chronicles of Parthalan #2

Genre: Fantasy/Romance

Publisher: Bellatrix Press

SYNOPSIS:

A broken queen. A friendship mired in deceit. Can one man from the desert help hold the realm together?

Asherah, Queen of Parthalan and Lady of Tingu, has led her people through eight centuries of prosperity. That peace shatters when Mersgoth, the mordeth thought long dead, attacks Teg’urnan. In the aftermath a new warrior emerges: Aeolmar, a man as secretive as he is deadly.

Asherah and Aeolmar race across Parthalan in pursuit of Mersgoth, and track the beast to the High Desert. While they’re gone, Harek, now Prelate of Parthalan, conspires with the Dark Fae against the elves…Against Leran, the king of the elves and Asherah’s son in all but blood. Will Asherah see the truth of Harek before it’s too late, or will he bring down the fae once and for all?

 

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2aJqfoE

Cover Designer: Veronica Jones http://www.vvjones.com/

 

About the author:

Jennifer Allis Provost writes books about faeries, orcs and elves. Zombies too. She grew up in the wilds of Western Massachusetts and had read every book in the local library by age twelve. (It was a small library). An early love of mythology and folklore led to her epic fantasy series, The Chronicles of Parthalan, and her day job as a cubicle monkey helped shape her urban fantasy, Copper Girl. She spends her days drinking vast amounts of coffee, arguing with her computer, and avoiding any and all domestic behavior.

 

GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2975887.Jennifer_Allis_Provost

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/copperraven/

WEBSITE: http://authorjenniferallisprovost.com/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/parthalan

 

 

Enter to Win

Newspaper

ANNOUNCING TWO CONTESTS FOR AMAZON GIFT CARDS

AND AN EXCLUSIVE ANTHOLOGY

BOTH CONTESTS END ON AUGUST 31

 

Only Newsletter Subscribers are eligible to enter

Subscribe at https://debbiedelouise.com or email debbiewriter@yahoo.com with your address to ask to be subscribed. Prizes will only be awarded if a minimum of 10 people enter.

 

PHOTO CONTEST FOR a $10 AMAZON GIFT CARD

 

Submit a photo of you, a friend, or even a pet with my book, A Stone’s Throw. All photos submitted to me by email at debbiewriter@yahoo.com by August 31st. will be entered in a random drawing for the $10 Amazon gift card. Those who submit photos agree that they may be used on social media.

 Debbie

PURCHASE LINKS FOR A STONE’S THROW

 

Amazon U.S.: http://amzn.to/1MjaJgN
Amazon Australia: http://bit.ly/1Sdh82D
Amazon Canada: http://amzn.to/1SdheHi
Amazon U.K.: http://amzn.to/1QutXBW
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/1nQPyv4
Kobo: http://bit.ly/1KGYHep
Also available on iTunes and Ingram

 

 Debbie Teaser

Anthology Contest + $5 AMAZON GIFT CARD

For a $5 Amazon gift card and an anthology of romances written by 16 authors including myself, read the excerpt below and answer this question: What magical power did the stone have? Send your reply by August 31st. to debbiewriter@yahoo.com. Only newsletter subscribers are eligible to win, and this contest is not sponsored by Mailchimp or Yahoo. The winner will be announced in the September 1st. newsletter.

Excerpt from The Seashell and the Stone by Debbie De Louise (c) 2016 Debbie De Louise

As Virginia and Stephen made their way toward the end of the boardwalk, the merry-go-round music that drifted along their path changed to a loud cacophony of whistles and horn blasts announcing “the greatest show on earth.” A man on stilts came hobbling toward them, his wide yellow polka-dotted pants flapping in the breeze off the ocean. “Good day, Ma’am. Good day, Sir,” he greeted them. “Right this way to the midway.” He chuckled at his use of words.

Up ahead, Virginia spotted the circus tents lined on the beach and the acrobatic high-wire strung high across two tall poles. 

“I guess you need to find the person in charge to ask about selling here.” 

Mr. Granger was scanning the crowd seated on folding chairs by the first tent where a magician was performing some tricks to the rapt audience. “Let’s look around first. Would you like to sit and watch the show?”

Virginia was pleased that he seemed more interested in her company than the business that brought him there. “No, but I would enjoy going there.” She pointed toward a tent that displayed the sign, “Madame Marie, Fortune Teller.”

“Are you serious? You know these carnival mystics are not worth the money.”

Virginia felt her anger flare again as it had when he had criticized her for feeding Seashell table scraps. “It’s my money to spend and that’s how I wish to spend it.” Her father had given her a $1 note as well as a few silver coins for carnival expenses. 

“Very well.” Mr. Granger followed her reluctantly toward Madame Marie’s tent. The psychic sat behind a round table covered in red velvet. She wore a matching red kerchief in her long dark curly hair. Several rings graced her hands as she sat turning over tarot cards and gazing into a crystal ball. At their approach, she lay down the cards and beckoned them with a smile missing several teeth. Virginia could smell the lady’s foul breath, onions mixed with garlic. She lay down one of her coins, but the woman pushed it away. “For you, I will tell a fortune for free. Please have a seat.”

Mr. Granger stood waiting by the side of the tent as Virginia took the chair opposite Marie. “Why are you not charging me?”

Marie shuffled the cards and placed them face down in a pile. “Direct your energy on the cards and then choose one,” the woman instructed ignoring Virginia’s question.

Virginia followed her directions while Mr. Granger stood with a bored look on his face shuffling from foot to foot.

“Ah,” Marie said as she turned over the card Virginia picked to reveal a man and woman with an angel above them. “The Lovers. How appropriate.”

“Does it mean I’ll be wed soon?” Virginia asked.

“Yes, my dear. There is a special gentleman in your life or will be soon.” She placed the card at the bottom of the deck and tapped the glass ball in front of her. “If you’d like to know more or ask a question, it will be 1 greenback, please.”

“Wait one moment,” Mr. Granger interrupted. “You told the lady your predictions were free.”

The psychic smiled showing her missing teeth again. “The tarot reading is free. There’s a charge for the crystal ball.”

“I guess you have to make money somehow. Come on, Miss Vance, let us move on.”

“Wait.” Virginia did not like being ordered around, and she was curious as to what Madame Marie would see in her crystal ball. She had her fortune told at the circus last year but by a gypsy man. Marie seemed to be new to the troop. “I told you I’ll spend my money the way I wish.”

A fire flared in Mr. Granger’s blue eyes. “You mean your father’s money, but, go ahead. She will only tell you what you wish to hear and what she observes from your reactions. I am sure the Tarot card was planted too. Most young women are looking for love. You don’t have to be a psychic to know that.”

Virginia stood up. As much as she disliked his words, she knew he had a point. None of the predictions made for her last year proved to come true. “Thank you, Madame Marie, but I may return after seeing more of the circus.”

“As you wish.” Marie glared after Stephen as he walked away with Virginia.

“If you really want to know your future,” he said as they passed several more tents, “I have something that can help.” 

“Whatever do you mean?” 

“I was not exactly honest with you about my occupation.” Virginia felt excitement flood through her at the thought that Mr. Granger was about to share the information she sought without her having to resort to any of her tricks to pry it out of him.

“Let’s sit on a bench for a moment,” he suggested guiding her away from the crowd.

He seemed to hesitate briefly as if he regretted his haste in revealing what he was about to say. Then he reached into his trouser pocket and retrieved a translucent stone. For a second she thought it was a Cape May diamond, the crystals that resembled the real jewels that Cape May residents and visitors searched for along the beach. However, they had not spent any time on the sand, and he had just arrived in town.
“You may have wondered why I did not bring along my merchandise to show the circus leader.”

Her eyes were focused on the glittery stone. “I thought they were too heavy to carry on our walk.”

“I would’ve at least brought a sample.”

“But what is that you have in your hand?”

“This is the reason I’m here. I’ve been following carnivals and circuses along the East Coast to offer my services, and this stone is one of my tools.”

“Your services?” This was more intriguing than she expected. “What exactly are your services?”

He smiled and, unlike Madame Marie, exhibited perfect white teeth. “I’m a psychic. A genuine one, but I need the stone to aid me. It was passed down to me from my father who received it from his own father. I believe it was originally found by my great grandfather.”

Virginia was not convinced. “Are you saying that rock guides you in telling the future?”

His smile deepened, and she saw a dimple appear in his cheek. “I guess that’s a way of putting it. If I rub the rock and ask a question, the answer appears in my mind.”