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The Theory of Happily Ever After – Book Excerpt Part 2

THE THEORY OF
HAPPILY EVER AFTER
by
KRISTIN BILLERBECK
  Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: May 1, 2018
Number of Pages: 288
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According to Dr. Maggie Maguire, happiness is serious—serious science, that is. But science can’t always account for life’s anomalies, like why her fiancé dumped her for a silk-scarf acrobat and how the breakup sent Maggie spiraling into an extended ice cream–fueled chick flick binge.
Concerned that she might never pull herself out of this nosedive, Maggie’s friends book her as a speaker on a “New Year, New You” cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Maggie wonders if she’s qualified to teach others about happiness when she can’t muster up any for herself. But when a handsome stranger on board insists that smart women can’t ever be happy, Maggie sets out to prove him wrong. Along the way she may discover that happiness has far less to do with the head than with the heart.
 
Filled with unforgettable characters, snappy dialogue, and touching romance, The Theory of Happily Ever After shows that the search for happiness may be futile—because sometimes happiness is already out there searching for you.

PRAISE FOR THE THEORY OF HAPPILY EVER AFTER: 

“. . .the sweet will-they-or-won’t-they of Sam and Maggie’s courtship will please readers. . .”
                        —Publishers Weekly
“Billerbeck returns with a light Christian chick-lit novel just in time for the summer beach-read season, taking on stereotypes of femininity, intellect, and worth within an exciting cruise-ship setting with plenty of sunshine and gelato.”
                        —Booklist
“Billerbeck’s latest is full of memorable characters and witty dialogue. . . .The overall story reminds the reader that sometimes happiness will find you, no matter what you may do to avoid it.”
RT Book Reviews  Four Star Review

 

 
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64b37-excerpt

 

EXCERPT CHAPTER ONE, PART TWO OF

THE THEORY OF HAPPILY AFTER

BY KRISTIN BILLERBECK

 

Click to read Chapter One, Part One on Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/22/18 Tour Stop!

 

A harsh reality is better than a false fantasy. Life is not a fairy tale.

The Science of Bliss by Dr. Margaret K. Maguire

 

He doesn’t stop here though. Apparently he hasn’t completely destroyed me emotionally and professionally. “I’ll be back from our honeymoon on the 27th. I’ll see you in the lab on the 28th and we’ll work on your presentation skills. Anichka is anxious to meet you. I think you’d be a great mentor to her.”

Then he hangs up on me. He hangs up on me! I’m left shaking with rage, obsessing over everything I should have said.

I clamp my eyes shut and mumble some divinely inspired mantra to get his voice out of my head.

I am enough.

I am worthy of love and respect.

I choose success.

I forgive Jake as a gift to myself.

But it’s no use. The murderous thoughts don’t stop coming, and I’m pretty certain that my Lord Jesus along with all decent people would frown upon that. Without looking, I press the volume button on the television until the sickly-sweet movie channel, and not the positive thought mantras, quiets the phone call.

It isn’t five minutes until my peace is once again shattered. My front door slams against the wall with a loud crash, and a framed photograph falls from the top of the TV. Ironically, the picture in the silver frame is of my two best friends, and they are now standing across my living room by the open front door. A flash of blinding sunlight forces me to shut my eyes again, but there’s no mistaking their distinctive forms. When I open my eyes the tall, muscular outline of Kathleen and the petite, girlish figure of Haley begin to take shape in shadows.

“Go away,” I moan.

“Enough of this.” Kathleen’s bark is like a drill sergeant’s. “Get up!” She’s pushy like that. A personal trainer by day, she gives marching orders as if protests are not allowed. Usually Haley and I follow blindly, but not today. Today I want one more bite of gelato and to finish my movie.

As I lift the spoon toward my mouth, Kathleen yanks it away, and ice cream splatters onto the dingy brown carpet. Neon is there to lick it up.

“You’re in my way,” I say, trying to see the television screen. I try to watch around her, but Kathleen has a booty and fills out her yoga pants well, so I can’t see around her Nicki Minaj impression.

I love my friends. They’re amazing for being here and trying to rouse me from my binge-watching stupor, but I’m not ready yet. It’s not time.

“I’m blocking the screen on purpose,” Kathleen says, too loudly through my sugar hangover. “We’ve given you more than enough time to wallow. It’s time to get up. Jake’s moved on, and you’ve got no choice but to move on too.”

I point at the television. “The hero just found that dog. Look how sweet. It just appeared like that, and there’s no one to take care of it. He’s going to take care of it because there’s no one else to do it. Where are the men like him?”

“Are you crying?” Haley asks. She has the sweetest voice to match her tiny, pixie figure, and I wish I possessed an ounce of her honeyed charm. Maybe Jake would still be here. Maybe he wouldn’t have been out scouting the circus talent that had come to town. “Maggie, this is insanity! This TV hero wouldn’t take care of the dog if it wasn’t scripted that he had to take care of the dog. Let’s go.”

Kathleen moves my legs onto the floor and scares the cat in the process. I do my best to ignore her, thinking she will eventually give up and leave me be. I try to explain the importance of the moment—the dog, the hero . . .

“The hero is going to fall in love with the heroine because of the dog. Isn’t that the sweetest thing? I mean, who doesn’t love a dog?”

“You’re going to get bedsores from that sofa,” Haley warns, bending over me with her long strawberry-blonde hair that I’ve coveted since childhood. She pets Neon. “Maggie, whose cat is this?”

I shrug, but my eyes widen.

“You stole that little old lady’s cat from outside, didn’t you?” Kathleen’s face settles into incredulous accusation.

“I didn’t steal it. He meowed at me, and he wanted some attention, so I left the door open and he wandered in. There’s raccoons and stuff out there. Maybe even a bobcat or two.” Orange County, though in the heart of Southern California, was still very rural in places.

“There is a little old lady outside on a walker looking for that cat.” Haley picks up Neon, opens the front door, and gently deposits him on the porch.

“That was mean,” I tell her. I call to Neon, but he ignores me and shoots out of sight.

“Don’t bother talking to her.” Kathleen shakes her head and sighs. “She’s gone. She stole a cat. What sane person does that?” She pulls my slippers off. “Just go get her packed. I’ll force her into the shower.”

“Shower?” I sit up quickly. “I don’t want a shower! Oh.” I zone back into the screen and try to block out the chaos around me. “Look at the dog. Who could give up a dog like that?”

“No one,” Kathleen says gruffly. “That’s a two-thousand-dollar dog. Only a TV movie thinks we will believe that a two-thousand-dollar designer dog is a mutt running loose in town needing to be rescued. This is fantasy, Maggie. Reality is better than fantasy. You said it yourself. Page 218.” She points to my book on the shelf. “I looked it up.”

 

Click to finish reading Chapter One!

 

Kristin Billerbeck is the author of more than thirty novels, including What a Girl Wants and the Ashley Stockingdale and Spa Girls series. She is a fourth-generation Californian who loves her state and the writing fodder it provides.
WEBSITE   FACEBOOK    TWITTER   
 
 
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
GRAND PRIZE: Copy of The Theory of Happily Ever After + Bookish Beach Towel, Tumbler, & Book Sleeve
2ND PRIZE: Copy of The Theory of Happily Ever After
+ $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3RD PRIZE: Copy of The Theory of Happily Ever After
+ $10 Starbucks Gift Card
(US ONLY)
  August 22-31, 2018
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
8/22/18
Excerpt, Part 1
8/22/18
BONUS Post
8/23/18
Excerpt, Part 2
8/24/18
Review
8/25/18
Playlist
8/26/18
Review
8/27/18
Scrapbook Page
8/28/18
Review
8/29/18
Author Interview
8/30/18
Review
8/31/18
Review
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Justice Betrayed – Excerpt 2

JUSTICE BETRAYED
A MEMPHIS COLD CASE MYSTERY, #3
by
PATRICIA BRADLEY
Genre: Fiction / Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 5, 2018
Number of Pages: 352
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It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators—one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken—she’s forced to reevaluate. Is there some connection between the two unsolved cases? And could the recent break-in at Vic’s home be tied to his obsession with finding his friend’s killer?
When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four?
The third installment of Bradley’s Memphis Cold Case series focuses on a cold case related to a homicide detective’s past…Bradley includes the unique character of Erin who seems as if she is a real person and takes great care to portray her respectfully.”
RT Book Reviews
 
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64b37-excerpt

EXCERPT: CHAPTER 1, PART 1

JUSTICE BETRAYED

BY PATRICIA BRADLEY

(used with permission)

Click to read the Prologue on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/15 tour stop!

1

August 2017

Elvis is in the building, and he wants to see you. 🙂

Homicide detective Rachel Sloan stared at the screen on her phone and then glanced at the clock. Four fifty-five on Friday after­noon was no time to joke around about the possibility of staying late.

She frowned and rolled her chair so she could see around the partition that boxed her in. Her heart sank at the sight of an aging Elvis look-alike in a white sequined jumpsuit standing at office manager Donna Dumont’s desk, talking to one of the sergeants in Homicide.

The middle of August in Memphis meant Elvis Week and a city full of Elvis wannabes, but why did one of them want to see her? And where was Donna?

She rolled back to the desk she’d just cleared off for the weekend and dialed the number on the text. “What does he want?”

“He won’t say, just that he needs to see you,” the detective said.

“He called me by name?” She slipped off the heels she’d worn for the court appearance earlier in the afternoon. It’d been the DA’s idea for her to wear the heels with a knee-length skirt and white blouse under her suit jacket. He’d said it would make her look professional, but the two male jurors ogling her hadn’t escaped her attention.

“Yes. He actually asked for Det. Rachel Winslow Sloan . . . oh, and his name is Vic Vegas.”

“You’re kidding.” She wiggled her toes. “Tell him to give me five minutes,” she muttered and glanced toward the cubicle across the aisle. Her gaze collided with Lt. Boone Callahan’s dark brown eyes as he stood in his doorway. The air between them crackled with electricity, and Rachel quickly dropped her gaze.

She thought he’d left for the day. No, she’d hoped he’d left. She and Boone had gone out a few times before she joined the Homicide division, but then she broke it off with him. Since then, they’d mostly avoided each other, him working the shift opposite hers until this week.

“Do you need something?”

His rich baritone sent shivers down her arms. “No. I thought you’d left for the gym.”

“Gym?”

“Yeah, getting ready for tomorrow’s competition.” He was determined to beat her time. But that had never happened and wasn’t happening tomorrow, either.

Rachel had inherited her father’s competitive gene, a trait that had surfaced before kindergarten. Even as a four-year-old, she had to be the best dancer, then in school she went after the top honors, and athletically, she pushed herself, practicing until she was the top player, no matter the sport. That hadn’t changed when she became a cop, and tomorrow would be no different.

“I’m ready for you,” he said with a slow smile. “Tomorrow I’m taking that trophy.”

 

“Not happening, Boone.” She tried to ignore the way her heart beat against her rib cage like a bird trying to escape.

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.” He nodded. “See you tomorrow.”

“You’re the one with the bad math,” she called after him. Her shoulders slumped as he turned the corner. If her heart kept whacking out every time he spoke to her, it would be impossible to work the same days as Boone, but there was nothing she could do about it. She was on loan from Burglary and had no seniority. And it was clear she still had feelings for him. But he was her supervisor now. As long as she was in Homicide, there could be no relationship. It was against the rules. She’d known that when she
trans­ferred in.

She waited until she was certain Boone had left, then walked up to the front entrance where Vic Vegas waited.

“Miss Rachel?” the man asked, a questioning smile on his full lips. Then he nodded and hooked his thumbs in the huge rhinestone belt encircling his ample waist.

“Yes. We can talk at my desk.”

Once they were in her cubicle, he said, “The last time I saw you, you reminded me of a colt—all legs and trying to get your feet under you. I understand you married . . . and that your husband died. So much tragedy in your life. I’m sorry.”

A chill shivered down her spine. How did he know so much about her? She didn’t remember ever seeing this man before in her life. The creepiness factor even overshadowed the usual lead weight of guilt that settled in her stomach when Corey was mentioned. “Do I know you?”

His shoulders drooped. “You don’t remember me?”

She studied him. A faint memory tickled her brain. Her mom with an Elvis look-alike on either side of her. One of them had called her Miss Rachel. “Maybe. It was a long time ago.”

“Seventeen years,” he said.

“A charity event,” she replied, still searching her memory bank. “An Elvis tribute affair . . .”

“That’s right. For St. Jude. It was a competition at the convention center. I’m on my way now to one being held at Blues & Such tonight.”

Rachel sneaked a peek at her watch. “How can I help you?”

He indicated a chair beside her desk. “May I sit?”

She mustered a smile. The day had just gotten longer. “Of course.”

He settled in the straight-backed chair and arranged the white cape attached to his jumpsuit so that it didn’t wrinkle. Then he took a photo from his shirt pocket and handed it to her. “This was taken the last time I saw you.”

Rachel stilled. Her fingers shook as she examined the picture. Four Elvis impersonators stood beside her mother and Rachel, who was presenting a trophy to the winner. She remembered exactly when the photo was taken because later that night, her mother had died. The gala was the last thing they had done together. She swallowed. Her entire life had changed the night her mother was murdered.

She’d been pushing memories of that night away for the past week.

Focus. Trying not to look at her mother, Rachel studied the men in the photo. It took a second look to recognize that the man standing next to the winner was the one sitting across from her. He appeared to be in his late thirties in the photo, but the intervening years had not been kind to Vic Vegas. Seventeen years would only put him in his midfifties, but he looked older. Maybe it was the jet-black pompadour and long sideburns . . . or the forty pounds he’d added. She lifted her gaze. “I’m not sure I understand.”

“It’s the last time we were all together. I’ve written everyone’s name on the back,” he said.

She tried again. “I still don’t understand.”

“A few nights after this was taken, Harrison Foxx was murdered. He’s the one you’re handing the trophy to. His murder has never been solved.”

 

Click to read Chapter 1, Part 2, coming on the Lone Star Book Blog Tours 8/22 tour stop!

 

Patricia Bradley is the award-winning author of Justice Delayed and Justice Buried, as well as the Logan Point series. She is cofounder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc., and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Mississippi.
 
 
 
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GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!  GIVEAWAY!
GRAND PRIZE: All Three Books in the Memphis Cold Case Series + Elvis Umbrella + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
2ND PRIZE: All Three Books in the Memphis Cold Case Series
+ $15 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3RD PRIZE: All Three Books in the Memphis Cold Case Series
+ $10 Starbucks Gift Card
(US ONLY)
August 15-24, 2018
 
CHECK OUT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
8/15/18
Excerpt Part 1
8/15/18
BONUS post
8/16/18
Excerpt Part 2
8/17/18
Review
8/18/18
Author Video
8/19/18
Review
8/20/18
Character Interview
8/21/18
Review
8/22/18
Excerpt Part 3
8/23/18
Excerpt Part 4
8/24/18
Review
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