The Food of Love: It’s NOT All About Me!

writerGood morning. Well, the sun is shining and it’s a balmy 10 F and according to the weather network, there’s a chance we may see the Northern Lights in this region between now and Tuesday. How cool would that be!

Now that the annual hoopla around Valentine’s Day has ended, we have a romantic trough to fill. St Patrick’s day is next, and it really isn’t usually associated with love and romance. Following that, we’ll have spring and weddings–you get the picture. Love will definitely be in the air.

This morning, I’d like to talk about a short story anthology released by Solstice at the beginning of February. The book, The Food of Love, is comprised of ten short stories by some of Solstice’s authors, including myself. The contributing authors are: Mya O’MalleyRocky RochfordSusanne MatthewsRachael StapletonElle MarlowVanayssa SomersMargaret EgrotCynthia LeyRebecca L. Frencl, and K.C. Sprayberry.

Food of LoveAbout the Book:

Food entices the senses just as love entices the soul. We take chances, we share new beginnings, in hopes of making that special someone part of our lives, now and forever. Solstice Publishing presents ten tales of love, each with a recipe our authors consider part of their love story. We hope they can be part of yours too.

The Way to a Man’s Heart, by Mya O’Malley involves a cooking class for singles and a set of twins who make one too many switches.
Him & Her, by Rocky Rochford is a ‘he said, she said’ about a shy boy’s first date with the girl of his dreams.
There’s Always Tomorrow, by me, Susanne Matthews, is a reunion story with a second chance at love for Iris, a former supermodel crippled in an accident.
Dinner in the Dark by Rachel Stapleton describes a sensory experience meal with a twist at the end you won’t see coming.
The Heart of Stone by Elle Marlow, written in her signature cowboy way is all about a chance meeting with a Good Samaritan and hope for the future.

Love, Food, and Heaven, by Vanessa Somers is a story of remembered love and the wonder of becoming your own person.
Chains of Magic by Margaret Ergot is a brilliant take on Shakespeare’s Othello, describing the first meeting between Desdemona and the Moor.
The Moon and The Daystar by Cynthia Ley is a sweet story of best friends who share a common love for the beauty of the day and art.
Wine and Magic, by Rebecca L. Frencl is  also a second chance at love for a couple brought back together by a mutual loss

New Future by K.C. Sprayberry is another “he said, she said” story, but this time the characters are twins, trying to get on with their lives after a shattering experience, hoping to find love and happiness.

All of the stories are fresh and unique. The recipes are delicious. This is a wonderful way to get to meet these authors and sample a taste of their writing style. I feel privileged to have been allowed to participate in this.

The Food of Love is available from Amazon.


Look Who Dropped By Today: Margaret Egrot

Hello again! Do you remember your teen years? Were you among the less than perfect who suffered from acne? I vividly recall praying that the dreaded spots wouldn’t come out before significant events–like every day of the week! The ones on my nose were the worse. My dad would name them after famous singers from my record collection. As I recollect, Mama Cass took over a week to go away. No amount of cover-up helped.

My guest this morning is Margaret Ergot and her latest YA book title brought back memories of John, Paul, George, and Ringo along with a host other favorites from my teen years. But it also made me smile–acne, the great constant. It’s nice to know some things will never change, and no matter which side of the pond you dwell on, teenagers will always be the same too.

And Alex Still Has Acne

And Alex -cover

Life for fourteen year old Alex is OK most of the time. He enjoys school, has a best friend Sam, and a pretty and only mildly irritating younger sister, Nicky. But then Sam starts acting strangely, and so does Nicky – and both insist on sharing secrets with him and making him promise not to tell anyone. Then Nicky goes missing and only Alex feels he knows where to find her. But is Sam anywhere around to help?


Chapter 1.

        The school bell rang to mark the end of the first lesson of the afternoon. Without showing a trace of sarcasm Miss Smith, the French teacher, thanked the class for being such an attentive bunch and, with a sigh of relief, gathered up her books and retreated for the staff room. A pity, she thought, that smoking was banned everywhere on school grounds – she could really do with a cigarette now. Year 10 were always hard work, especially first thing on a Friday afternoon.

Several students let out a whoop of delight as she left. In her rush to get out of the classroom, Old Smithers (she must have been at least 50) had forgotten to set them homework again. No doubt they would each get an email telling them to revise French verbs or something in time for the lesson on Monday, but they could always deny opening the email on the grounds they never switched on their computers at the weekend. As if!

Sam Rainsworth was slower than the others to collect his books and pens and stuff them into his school bag. He had hardly registered the start of the lesson, let alone the end. And Miss Smith, glad to have a quiet pupil not causing any trouble, had been happy to let him sit dreamily at the back of the class. He got up thoughtfully and left the classroom without speaking to anyone. At the corner of the corridor he found his friend, Alex, waiting for him.

“You OK? Thought you’d gone to sleep in Old Smithers’ class just then.” Alex loomed over him. A year ago both boys had been the same height, Sam just a little thicker set. But Alex had been going through a growing spurt and was now almost a head taller. He hadn’t grown out sideways though and looked chronically under-nourished despite an enormous appetite. ‘Legs like knotted string,’ his mother often said about him, much to his embarrassment.

Sam looked up at his friend. “Yep, I’m fine. I was just thinking, that’s all.”

Sam carried on down the corridor instead of turning left towards the labs.

“Hey, where are you going?”

“Dunno, home I s’pect.”

“It’s not home time yet, we’ve got double physics, remember?”

Sam gave a mirthless smile. “It’s an infringement of my human rights to have double physics last thing on a Friday. Besides I haven’t done the homework.”

“I have…”


“No, I mean you can copy mine during the lesson and hand it in at the end – Parky never takes the books in till the end.”

Sam paused for a moment, as if thinking about it. He leant down and pulled at one of his socks, then the other. Then he ran a hand through his hair, ruffling it up even more than usual. Finally he looked up at his friend and shook his head.

“Thanks, but no thanks. I’m not in the mood.”

He turned from his friend and set off back down the corridor. He wasn’t surprised though to hear lolloping footsteps behind him and to feel a hand on his shoulder. He knew who it was without turning round.

“So, you can resist the lure of physics too then?”

“I like physics, believe it or not,” Alex said. “But you don’t look right – I’m coming with you.”

“Suit yourself.”

Sam shrugged and continued walking in silence out of the school building, across the yard and down the short drive to the main road.  Alex walked along beside him, hunched into his parka hood and whistling softly under his breath.

“I wish you’d cut that.”


“That stupid whistling.”

“Sorry, nervous tic. I was worried someone might spot us and haul us back.”

“Well, you’re safe now so you can shut up. You need more practice.”

“Someone’s going to catch up with you soon and write to your parents and then you’ll be for it.”

“As if they’ll care …”

“So your dad’s really gone then? For good?”

“None of your business.”

“Sorry, only my dad says …”

“None of his business either.”


The pair walked on in silence for a couple of minutes. Then Sam felt inside his parka and drew out a couple of cigarettes and a lighter.

“Want one?”

“Where’d you get those from?”

“Mum. She’s started smoking again since Dad’s gone.”

“Won’t she notice two missing?”

“Nah. I took them from different packets earlier in the week. She couldn’t tell.  She’s too pissed to notice much by bedtime these days.”

“You mean she’s drinking? I never thought your mum would do anything like that. She seems so…”

“Refined? Me neither. Never saw her drink anything more than a small glass of wine with a meal before. She’s different now – sort of lost.”

The boys continued for a while again in silence. Alex couldn’t help noticing that his friend too had a lost look about him. But he had no idea what to do about it. Perhaps just sticking with him for the rest of the afternoon would be a start. After a few long minutes he said: “Well, what are we going to do? No point going into town – I’m skint.”

“Me too, almost. Could we go over to your place?”

“Nah. Dad’s home. He’d slaughter me if I came home from school too early. He’s into school in a big way at the moment. Wants me to do well in GCSEs and so on and go to university. It’d be like his world had fallen in if he found out I’d bunked a lesson. What about your place?”

“Nah, not yet. Too empty when Mum’s not there; too gloomy when she is. Later perhaps – let’s go out on the town first. I’ve probably got enough for a burger and Coke at McDonald’s.”

“That’s settled then. I’m starving.”

“Why am I not surprised?” Alex’s appetite was legendary.

They turned their feet in the direction of the golden arch, a new sense of purpose quickening their step. McDonald’s was pretty full, plenty of people their own age, though their grammar school uniforms, badly concealed under their parkas, marked them out from the other customers. But, after chasing the last crumbs out from the burger wrappers and draining their cans, both boys felt better. Sam even smiled.

Alex belched as he finished his last drop of Coke.

“Oops, pardon – could do with another one of those,” he waved his empty Coke tin in Sam’s direction.

“Sorry, no can do,” he put all his money on the counter between them and counted it. “Only got 60p to my name until I see Dad.”

Suddenly his mobile rang – “Speak of the devil,” he said to no-one in particular and answered the phone. “Hello Dad.”

Alex leant back so as not to eavesdrop, and attentively brushed a mass of crumbs off his chest onto the floor. He watched as his friend grunted and nodded his head to the faint mumbling he could hear coming from the phone.

“Yeah, great,” Sam said eventually, without any visible sign of enthusiasm. “See you same time and place on Sunday.”

He switched off and turned back to his friend. Alex could see from Sam’s face that he didn’t want to discuss the call further. He straightened up in his seat as Sam concentrated on gathering up all their food wrappers and depositing them in the waste bin. He looked with mock horror at the ring of crumbs around Alex’s seat.

“God Alex, you’re a messy eater! Well what’ll we do now?”

Alex shrugged. “Dunno. It’s still too early to go home.”

“You can come back to my place for tea if you like. It’s not so bad really, and I’m still hungry.”

“Me too. What you got to eat at home?”

“Nothing, unless Mum’s stocked the fridge since breakfast this morning, which, I think not. We’ll have to get something on the way home.”

“But you haven’t got any money.”



“So, what?”

“Sam, you’re not going to nick stuff are you?”

“All property is theft. Weren’t you paying attention in history last week? At least that’s what I think that Marx bloke said. I need to eat to live and if Mum is too drunk to shop, I’ve got to find other ways of feeding us.”

“Does your dad know?”

“Of course not! Do you think I’m going to shop her to him? Or myself for that matter.”

“I see. But surely he could do something about it, if he knew?”

“Mind your own business, will you? This is my problem and I’ll sort it in my own time. Now, are you coming back to my place for more food or not?”

Alex sat silently for several minutes. He had never knowingly broken the law before, apart from cycling on the pavement – but then his mother preferred him to do that than run risks on the road. He didn’t like the idea at all. But Sam was his friend, and he didn’t like to abandon him either. Moreover, despite himself, he felt a tingling of excitement at what Sam was proposing. Anyway, he could never knowingly give up an opportunity for more food these days.

“Where?” Sam knew his friend was not enquiring where his house was, and felt a glow of pleasure that Alex was in on this with him. He too felt a tingle of excitement, plus a mixture of guilt and fear – but not enough of either to stop him.


Buy links: 

And Alex … is also available on

Margaret also has a short story in the newly released The Food of Love anthology from Summer Solstice.

Food of LoveChains of Magic is a delightful short story based on an imagining of Desdemona’s plotting to woo Othello through food (or magic if needs be). Whether this is a good idea or not on her part is left to Shakespeare to explore in his play!


Margaret has lived in the United Kingdom all her life. She has worked with the Probation Service, the Police Authority, as a charity boss, and as a free lance child protection consultant. She currently sits on the boards of two charities: one that runs assessment centres for families experiencing problems, and one that provides services for the elderly (well, you’ve got to think ahead…)

She enjoys reading and the theatre. She tries to keep fit by swimming and racing her cairn terrier round the park. He usually wins.

Media links:

Twitter: @meegrot

Mid-Week Tease: There’s Always Tomorrow

MWTease15Good morning and welcome to the last Wednesday in February. It’s milder today, 18 F, 7 F with the wind, but that’s a far cry from the -28 F we had two nights ago. It’s snowing at the moment, but there’s no significant accumulation expected. I’m fed up with winter–it seems like the one we had last year never really ended since we didn’t get much of a summer, but I’m looking forward to spring, now only 24 days away.

Thanks again to Sandra Bunino for setting this up each week, and to all of you who read my offerings.

This week, I’d like to share from the short story, There’s Always Tomorrow, which is part of The Food of Love, an anthology of short stories, all 5K and under, written by Solstice authors. Each story revolves around a meal and contains the recipe for a significant dish from the story. Mine is Spicy Pumpkin Soup,but you’ll find recipes for everything from  chocolate martinis to Grandma’s meatballs.

There’s Always Tomorrow is a second chance at love story.Food of Love

Enjoy this tease.

Iris laughed for what she was sure was the first time in years. “People can make soup out of just about anything, Finn. I used to make a cauliflower and cheese soup Dad said was to die for.”

“Well, I love cauliflower and cheese. When can I come to dinner?” Iris looked at him, expecting to see the teasing humor on his face. Instead, she saw sincerity and an eagerness that astonished her.

“I don’t make too many things from scratch these days,” she said apologetically.

“Why not? You have to eat,” he said, polishing off the rest of his soup as the others did. He lowered his voice to keep the conversation between them. “Aren’t the cupboards and counters at the right level for you? I went by the measurements your dad gave me, but if they aren’t right, I can fix them. It would only take a day or so.”

“You’re the one who renovated my grandmother’s house for me?”

“I did. There are still a few things I’d like to add, but you moved in before I could get to them. I was planning on coming to talk to you, and then Rosie called last week and asked me to round out the party tonight… Don’t be too angry with her. She’s been really worried about you—we all have.”

“I’m not angry, surprised maybe that you’d be willing to give up your time for me. What about your wife or girlfriend…”

“If that’s your way of asking if I’m free, the answer is I have no wife or girlfriend, at least not yet, but I’m hoping to change that in the near future. Now, what about those cupboards?”

Iris felt the heat burn her cheeks. “No, I didn’t mean it like that, I…” She saw the muscle in his jaw tense as he fought not to laugh at her. “Damn you, Finn Bowman. Everything is fine. I just didn’t realize you’d done the work. The bill was a lot less than I’d expected.”

“I didn’t charge for the labor. You can get a good size tax break on the materials.”

Iris’s jaw fell open and then snapped shut. It had taken several weeks and at least two hundred man-hours to get that house ready for her. Both bathrooms and the kitchen had been modernized. An elevator had been installed and there wasn’t a nook or cranny inaccessible to her. Outside, the front walk had been reconfigured to take her to the side of the veranda where a lift moved her from street level to the first floor, all done without taking anything away from the picturesque façade of the Queen Anne styled house. At the back, a ramp led from the yard to the back veranda, and another gave her access to the in-ground pool. Everything had been done to make the place as handicapped accessible as possible, but she vowed she’d be able to walk and climb stairs under her own power again one day.

Conversation around the table grew general as the empty soup dishes were replaced by plates of Caesar salad.

“Red or white?” asked Finn as the waiter came to the table with the wine.

“Neither, thanks,” she replied, noting the white was one of her favorite chardonnays.

“Don’t you like wine?” he asked as the server filled his glass with white wine.

“I like it, but I don’t want to take any chances tonight. The last thing I want to do is lose my balance and fall.”

Finn leaned so close to her she could feel his breath tickle the fine hairs on her neck. “Red or white? What kind of an escort would I be if I let you fall?”

I’ve already fallen. Fifteen years ago, and now I’m down for the count.

Don’t miss these other great teases:

Look Who Dropped By Today: LM LeFerrur

It’s my pleasure to welcome LW LeFerrue to Living The Dream this sunny winter morning. The temperature outside is frightful -28F with the wind, but inside we’re nice and warm,and Rekindled Heat, from Secret Cravings Publishing  is guaranteed to heat you right up. This erotic paranormal short story, is a quick, enjoyable read.


She had loved and lost…and gained.

Drea Tate had loved once. One night shattered her world. Left alone and pregnant, Drea moved to Second Chance, Pennsylvania and began a new life for her and her son.

Bail Enforcement Agent Micah Bridges lands the opportunity to score some quick money catching a bail jumper in a sleepy town in Pennsylvania. Little did he know that he’d find the woman he’d loved…and a son he didn’t know had existed.


Five Years Ago


The Appalachian Mountains of Pennsylvania

 He collapsed next to her, his body sated. The breath sawed in and out of his lungs.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” she purred.

He rolled onto his side, leaned on his elbow, and rested his head in his palm. Her body glowed in the firelight. His breath caught in his throat, and he stared for a few moments before he spoke. “Never. Soon, we’ll be able to meet like this as often as we want.”

“You’ll be alpha of your pack.”

“Not quick enough. I want every day and night with you. To make love to you whenever the mood strikes.”

She laughed, the sound husky and alluring. It lightened his heart. He’d known her for six months and was head over heels in love with her.

Which posed a problem. But only a temporary one.

After completion of the first change from man to wolf, he’d take over leadership of his pack from his father, who was a traditionalist.

At the moment, mixed matings were taboo. A lycanthrope, or lycan, had to mate with another lycan. A lycan and a fae joining would be unheard of.

But that would change as soon as he reigned. She would lead by his side. As his mate.

He considered himself a visionary. He’d move the Bridges Pack from the twentieth century to the twenty-first. Gone would be the “same old shit, different day” bull crap. Lycans would be free to mate with whom they chose, find employment outside of pack-owned establishments, or even leave to live their lives as they saw fit. He’d be the alpha, but he wouldn’t control anyone.

A slow grin spread across his face. So much would change.

She, too, rolled onto her side. “Penny for your thoughts?”

His fae was stunning. Long, straight, black hair hung around past her shoulders, draping over her breasts and brushing her flat stomach. One hand rested on delicately flaring hips.

Yet, it was her face that had captured him. Wide, vivid, violet eyes took center stage. A pert, turned up nose drew his attention to lips still swollen from his kisses. Her features were perfectly suited to her heart-shaped face.

Everything about her was flawless.

And soon, she’d be his. Always. Forever.

There wasn’t anything anyone could do to change his mind. They’d have to kill him first.

Buy Links:

Amazon –

Barnes and Noble – Barnes and Noble –

Secret Cravings Publishing –

All Romance E-books –

Barnes and Noble –

Author Bio:

I’m a writer of sexy romances with a kick of heat! Though my contracted stories are paranormals, I haven’t discounted writing a contemporary or two.
I live in Pennsylvania just a hair shy of the Maryland border. I live with a family I adore which includes two furry feline children and a furry canine daughter.

In my spare time, I’m more than likely watching television. I watch Bones, Blue Bloods, NCIS:New Orleans, or some sort of car show like Wheeler Dealers.

I’m a huge sports fan, football in particular. During the fall/winter, I’m watching Notre Dame or Penn State on Saturdays and the Saints or Colts on Sunday.

I’ve been known to have my nose buried in a book. Nora Roberts/JD Robb and Clive Cussler are favorites of mine. I know, I know…Clive Cussler isn’t a romance author. The man can weave a tale of adventure like no other!

Find me at:



Amazon Author Page


Look Who Dropped By Today: Karen King

Good morning, as February draws to a close, I look outside and smile. It may be cold, -22F with the windchill again, and we’ve shattered all the cold records set as far back as the Seventies, but it doesn’t seem so bad if the sun’s shining and the sky is clear. I take solace in the fact Spring will arrive in 26 days. It probably won’t be here on time, but at least I’ll know it’s on its way.

My guest this morning is Karen King, one of the many talented authors from Summer Solstice, one of my publishers.

sapphire blue  coverCan love survive death?

“No one has ever walked out of Red. Once the Soul Catchers get you they don’t let you go.” Denny’s words scare me but I have no choice. If Will is in Red that’s where I have to go.

I’ve never really thought what it was like when you died. I’m only 16, too young to worry about that. At least I thought I was. I’ve heard about Heaven and Hell, of course, but it doesn’t look like I’m in either of them. All I know is that Will is here too and I need to find him. I can’t face spending eternity without him.

Excerpt from Sapphire Blue

My mind is a mess. I can’t leave Will. I’ve got to help him. But how can I? I don’t know this world. If I don’t go with Grandpa and my family, I’ll be on my own. The Soul Catchers might get me too.

Soul Catchers. The very name makes me shudder. Have they got Will? What are they doing to him?

Will and I promised to love each other forever. How can I go without knowing he’s safe? I can’t leave him. But if I stay, how can I help him? My head is such a mish-mash of thoughts and fears I’m hardly aware of Grandpa leading me over to the silver bus, of climbing up the steps to board it.

It’s crowded so we have to go right at the back to find a seat. Grandpa gently pushes me into the seat by the window. I look out and see the guy still waiting on the steps. He’s not giving up on his sister. How can I give up on Will so easily?

That guy belongs here. He knows his way around, I remind myself. I’m new. I need to stay with Grandpa. Besides, the zone guides will find Will.

What if they don’t? I might never see him again.

The realization smacks me like a punch to the stomach, momentarily winding me.

I can’t go. Going with Grandpa might mean leaving Will forever and I can’t do that.

I can get another bus and meet up with Grandpa later, when I find Will. He could be on his way here, right now. I think of him walking in alone and confused like I was, of running to greet him, hugging him, letting him know that even though we’re here we still have each other. I have to wait for him.

I get up from my seat, almost jumping over Grandpa in my haste to get off.

“I’m waiting for Will,” I shout as I race down the aisle toward the closing door.

I can hear Grandpa and Aunt May calling me to come back but I ignore them. The doors are closing. With a final burst I reach them, slip through the narrowing gap and leap out, landing sprawled out on the ground. I hear the doors slide shut behind me and a loud whoosh. Scrambling to my knees I swivel around just in time to see the silver bus rise up and soar off into the sky, swiftly disappearing behind the clouds. Okay, so that’s why it’s called a sky-bus. Now what the hell do I do?


The guy’s standing in front of me, arms crossed, looking cool as chilled lemonade on a burning hot day.

 Buy Links

Amazon UK


Author Bio

Karen King has had over one hundred children’s books published. She’s written for many children’s magazines too including Sindy, Barbie, Winnie the Pooh and Thomas the Tank Engine. She writes for all ages and in all genres; story books, picture books, plays, joke books and non-fiction.  Sapphire Blue is her second YA novel. She also writes romance novels under the name of Kay Harborne.

Author Links


Author Facebook page:!/KarenKingAuthor


Twitter: @karen_king

Amazon Author page:



Look Who Dropped By Today: Heather M. Gardner

writerOne of the best things that has happened since I decided to become an author has been meeting other similar-minded people who truly understand the challenges being a writer involves. I met Heather through our now defunct publisher who stole royalties from us and left us all in a lurch. Did we rollover and play dead? No. We’ve risen out of the ashes like phoenixes. Nothing can keep a good writer down!

This morning, I’d like too introduce you to Heather’s novel, One Good Catch, A Maguire’s Corner novel, Contemporary Romantic Suspense, published by InkSpell Publishing. The cover artist Najla Qamber Designs did an excellent job. One Good Catch will be released: March 13, 2015

HMGardner One Good CatchAbout the book: 

Ignoring a recent trauma that is affecting her everyday life, ER Doctor Kate Maguire engages in some high risk activities, but putting herself in these dangerous situations isn’t enough to feed her edginess. She needs something more. When her brother’s high school best friend comes back to town, it’s her chance for a ‘no strings attached’ fling with the man who still headlines in all her best dreams.

Rhys MacGrath’s days of one-night-stands are long over. The pro-football player might be side-lined at rehab for a shoulder injury, but that doesn’t mean he can’t admire and desire the all-grown-up, so-damn-hot, version of the tomboy he once knew. His sudden interest in Kate might be aggravating his best friend, who doesn’t approve, but it’s her indifference that’s driving Rhys crazy.

Everything heats up when Kate’s nosy nature sets her in the line of fire of an arsonist forcing them to deal with more than just the sparks igniting between them.

About the author:

Heather M. Gardner’s love of books began on the hand-woven rugs of her small town library where her mother worked. There she had a never-ending supply of stories to read at her fingertips. As a teen, her favorite genres to curl up with were romance and mysteries. When she started to create her own stories, they were the perfect fit.
Heather resides in New York with her best friend who is also her husband, plus her talented and handsome son. She is currently owned by four stray cats. Heather’s a full-time mom, works part-time from home, a chocolate enthusiast, coffee junkie, cat addict, book hoarder and fluent in sarcasm.

Blog: The Waiting is the Hardest Part

Twitter: @hmgardner

Goodreads: HMGardner
Facebook: HeatherWritesRomance Bottom of Form

Look Who Dropped By Today: Mike Coyle

6a90f-blog_tour_badge_85_x_55It’s been a while, but I’m back with some of the great books available through Secret Cravings Publishing. Today’s blog tour visitor is Mike Coyle with his latest novel, The Best of What’s Left. 

About the Book:

Would an able bodied man choose a paraplegic woman . . . if he can look beyond the wheelchair and see the soul of the person in it?

bestWhen paraplegic Mandy Sorensen, who is an engineer for the Air Force, meets Lew Pecci she doesn’t expect love or adventure. His warning of a serious flaw on an experimental fighter plane sends them on an adventure to stop the first test flight and save the life of the pilot. They fail and the pilot is seriously injured. Mandy helps the pilot’s wife understand his predicament and reactions to the injury. As they work together they fall in love. Lew’s friends and family don’t understand his attraction to Mandy. His mother would prefer a South Philadelphia girl who is Italian and Catholic. Lew’s old girlfriend, Jessica Marrozi, fills the criteria and is more attractive. Mandy wonders if her limitations would prevent her from being the right choice for Lew. Will his tenderness and affection for Mandy let her choose The Best of What’s Left in her life?

Excerpt from the book: 

Mandy shook her head and looked at Victoria. “That’s when I thought he was an idiot. So many people just ignore me. But, after we talked awhile, I got the feeling he has a deep concern for the pilot. I like that.”

Victoria waited momentarily before making up her mind. She seemed skeptical.

“This time I’ll take a hunch. You’re a reasonable person. If you suspect something, I can ask for a test. I’m surprised he ignored you. I’d think you would be more attractive than a teenager.”

“Most men ignore me. They just don’t see women in wheelchairs as real people. If they have to talk to us, they’re polite, but they never see potential dates. I’m used to it, but it bugged me.”

“You thought he was a jerk, and you still believed him.”

“It annoyed me that he couldn’t see that I was a twenty-seven-year-old woman. I wasn’t expecting a boyfriend. Life is lonely when nobody wants to date me because they think I’m helpless.”

“You would like to have a boyfriend, wouldn’t you?”

“I would, but I’ve adjusted to the idea I won’t.”

“Could this guy be a prospect?”

“I doubt it. He ignored me until he was told who I was. I expect Lew went back home to Philadelphia. He might call, but I won’t be seeing him again.”

“Making a life for yourself is important. I tried marriage twice. Men don’t like women who are bigger than they are. My two husbands were both taller and stronger than me. They thought I should be a retiring little pipsqueak. I don’t want to be dominated. I want someone who will be an equal. I haven’t found it.”’

“An equal sounds good, but I don’t know that I’ll ever find that either.”

“Don’t underestimate yourself, Amanda. You’re an attractive young woman.”

“Not to most men. They look over the girls, and if they see nice bodies, then they see date material. They can’t evaluate my butt because I’m in the chair, and I don’t have what you would call an ample bosom.”

“You have a decent figure.”

“I’m not ugly, but I’m not any spectacular beauty. My bra size sounds like it belongs in the Air Force museum, a B-34. There is nothing about me that makes them look past the wheelchair.”

“You have a pretty face. It’s symmetrical. Symmetry is supposed to be the essence of beauty, isn’t it?”

“Men aren’t into geometry. They don’t see me as a suitable partner.”

“How did your game go over the weekend?”

Victoria often changed the subject to relax her employees. Mandy knew the tactic worked with her.

“The kids won.”

“You never take credit for a win.”

“The coach can lose a game, but the kids have to win it.”

Mandy went back to her desk. In about two hours, Victoria was back with the letter. She had a few changes to Mandy’s letter.

“I think you shouldn’t say why you want this done. Without proof, you shouldn’t accuse Quaker City of anything.”

“You’re right. A subtle approach is better.”

Later in the afternoon, she got a call from Lew.

“How did you do?”

“I put in a request to test the system. It will be awhile before I get an answer.”

“What are you doing for dinner tonight?”

“I was planning to fix something at home. Are you still in town?”

“I’m staying at a motel. I’m going through the want ads. I need a job. Do you want to go somewhere to eat?”

“Okay. Something light. Is there a restaurant near your motel?”

Mandy thought it might be fun. Lew had probably asked her because he was in town by himself and a little lonely.

“I thought I’d pick you up at your place.”

“It’ll be easier if I drive. That way I won’t have to transfer the chair.”

Although he seemed nice, Mandy preferred not letting him know where she lived. She wished she had used a better excuse than transferring the chair.

“If it will make it easier, you can pick me up here. It’s off Interstate 675, near a college.  I’m across the street from their arena.”

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 Author Bio


Mike Coyle is retired from a career with the US Department of Defense. He lives in southwest Ohio with his wife. They have been married for 43 years and have two sons, two daughters-in-law, and one granddaughter.

He is an enthusiastic reader. He likes contemporary and classic fiction, history and science non-fiction. He is an avid skier and enjoys hiking, playing chess, and writing. The Best of What’s Left is his first novel.