Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fortune for Fools: A Merchant Street Mystery #3

Thrilled to announce the release of my latest book! And at such an appropriate time. July 24th is Pioneer Day here in Utah, and this book has a back story about a pioneer couple, Robert and Abigail Dalton, who traveled by wagon in 1849 from Nauvoo to Salt Lake City. You won't believe what happens to them.

Story-line:  Risk-taker Zeke Abberley knows how to be bold when it comes to his antique shop on Merchant Street in Salt Lake City, Utah. He successfully bid on a collection of 1800s antiques in Nauvoo, Illinois that may contain a valuable Hayez painting. However, love is another matter. Afraid that all women are users, he’s always injuring his dates, particularly Lavinia Vega, who works at her father’s art gallery.

Studious Lavinia Vega is tired of proving to Zeke that she has no ulterior motives. When Zeke brings her a damaged painting to restore and authenticate, she is eager to help but not get involved. When she uncovers a hidden map behind the painting that leads to valuable buried coins, the game plan changes. Or so Zeke thinks.

Will the mysteries Zeke, Lavinia and her Poodle, Vivete, uncover teach them that fortunes are for fools and love is everlasting? 

Sweet Cravings Publishing:
The ebook will be released on third-party sites next week and in paperback in 3 months.

Chapter One Excerpt:
Zeke Abberley stared at the damaged 1859 painting with a scowl on his face. Why me? He had bid on the Illinois estate sale as a whole specifically because of this piece and now it had arrived damaged, with a crunched frame and punctured canvas. He had been assured the painting was in perfect condition. He bit his lip, continuing to stare at the entrancing image of the unrecognizable couple from the Middle Ages embraced in a kiss with shadowy forms lurking in the background. Although one of Francesco Hayez’s best known works, this was not the most famous rendition of the pose or lighting—but still the mastery of Hayez. From Zeke’s research, it seemed this particular rendition had never been seen on the market.

That is, if it is an original Hayez. Zeke tapped his index finger on his lips. It still needed to be authenticated by an expert. The family selling the contents of their attic had no desire or time to search for appraisals and had posted the estate sale as a whole. Imagine finding a Hayez.

Although it appeared there were other prized antiques in the collection, Zeke hadn’t understood why he had wanted to purchase an out-of-state collection, especially with their antique shop overflowing as it is and sales down due to the economy. Something had possessed him, though, and this painting had something to do with it.

Aunt Adele walked into the room and set a box of pastries on the conference room table. “You’re looking down in the mouth. What’s happened?”

“Can you believe it? Can you just believe it?” he said, shaking his fist at the painting.

Life was definitely not going smoothly for Zeke. He and his younger brother, Zach, had that confrontation with Pop which had ended up with Pop walking out on them and the business.  Then Zach and Holly had married and left on a very long honeymoon. And he couldn’t forget Aunt Adele suddenly marrying Kipp Waterbury at their annual street BearBQ where they barbequed a bear. Aunt Adele hadn’t been around to help with the business, either. His disastrous relationship with Lavinia Vega, the break-ins on the street, and now the damaged painting did not bode well for Zeke either. He sighed. Yeah, most of them were happy events for those involved, but he had taken the blunt of everyone’s absence and had been working double duty for weeks on end. Sure everyone was back and the long winter blues were over, but all the lovebirds kept wandering off.

Trying to manage Abberley Antiques, Zach’s thrift shop, and Kipp’s clock shop had run him ragged. No wonder he was a basket case and his and Lavinia’s relationship had ended. It would have never worked out anyway, not with the way her father felt about his family and not with how reclusive Lavinia kept herself. After all their secret dates, she still hadn’t opened up to him. She was a closed book, albeit a beautiful, gorgeous closed book.

The memory of her attractive, vanilla blonde bob, soft, full lips, delicate curves, and hint of lilac perfume sent his senses tottering and his libido hopping. However, no one, and he meant no one, would ever penetrate that armored fortress guarding her frozen heart. Futile. Utterly futile.

“Did you hear me?” Aunt Adele asked.

“Oh, sorry. What did you say?” He laid the painting down on the table and pinched his chin.

“Do you think the shipping company damaged it?”

“Most likely. I viewed the painting on Skype and didn’t see the damage. Of course, it could have been masked. Just my luck.”

“It’s The Kiss by Francesco Hayez, isn’t it?” Aunt Adele said, moving to the small fridge for a quart of milk to go with the pastries.

“Yes, well, no. This is one of the five renditions Hayez did with different lighting, but not the most known. I don’t think this one has surfaced before. That is, if it really is a Hayez.”

“So I guess you know what you have to do.”

“What’s that?” He wrapped the painting back in brown paper and bubble wrap.

“Take it to Lavinia.”

He fumbled the painting as he tried to slide it into the box. It landed on the floor, and he accidentally kicked the painting across the carpet as he reached to pick it up. “Are you joking?”

“I can’t even mention her name without you turning into a spaz.” She smiled and shook her head. “Holly’s right. You have that—what did she call it?—pistanthrophobia.”

So, have you read the previous books in the series?

Worth the Wait: A Merchant Street Mystery Prequel
Barnes and Noble:

Story-line:  Dependable Adele Abberley is tired of seeing to everyone else’s responsibilities. When idealistic Kipp Waterbury drops by her antique store, will his romantic nature help her to view the world in a brand new light?

Time Will Tell: A Merchant Street Mystery #1
Sweet Cravings:
Barnes and Noble:

Story-line:  Holly just can’t figure out all the mystery on Merchant Street. Will her imagination run wild when people are willing to kill for a worthless clock and a sexy homeless man just isn’t all that destitute? Only time will tell. 

Hunting for Happenstance:  A Merchant Street Mystery #2
Sweet Cravings:
Barnes &Noble:

Story-line:  Daniela is tired of waiting for love and life to come to her. When her Uncle Benito goes missing while out deer hunting, she asks Duston with his expert dogs to help find him. Will they both stop waiting for happenstance and shoot for what they want—love and happiness?

Can you name the dogs and their breeds in these three books? Please leave your answers in a comment along with your email, and I will enter you in a drawing for an ebook copy of any one of the books in the series. Good luck!

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Fire Inside

The heat assaulted me in waves and left me strangled for air.  I had never tolerated heat well. My sister had a casserole bubbling in the oven which only added to the discomfort.  The family had converged at the farm for second crop hay hauling.  For the first time in my life, I’d been left out.  I was more than annoyed.  I was totally ticked off.

Yes, everyone was looking out for me.  My health hadn’t been good for some time, the doctors couldn’t figure out why, and my family was concerned.  However, I’d grown up with everyone pitching in and didn’t like sitting on the sidelines.  In fact, I detested it, especially during hay hauling.  The least I could do was drive, but no one would let me.  A fire burned inside me.  A fear of the unknown, of what might be in store for me with my health.  With wringing hands, I paced around the kitchen table until my sister wanted to throttle me.

I slammed out the back screen door, a wave of heat hitting my face.  The cheatgrass had taken over around the square cement encasement covering the well and all along the clothesline.  I’d spent many years watching my dad burn ditches with nothing but a lighter and a pitchfork.  If I couldn’t haul hay, I could at least burn the weeds so the dogs didn’t end up with foxtails in their ears.

With deliberate strides, I went in the house, grabbed a lighter, and then headed for the stackyard to retrieve the pitchfork. No one was going to tell me I couldn’t be useful. Honestly, sitting around while everyone else was working made me feel as worthless as a pen without ink.

I bent down, lit a patch of grass, and raised my whole height, rocking back on my heels.  I’d have this taken care of in no time. The fire fizzled and went out. Humph.  I tried again, but the same thing happened.  I moved closer to the concrete well cover and lit the grass again.  This time, the cheatgrass crackled and sucked oxygen.  Like a strike of lightning, the fire burst and the flames took off.  I tried desperately to pound out the fire with the pitchfork, but obviously to no avail. What was I thinking?  I needed a shovel.

I rushed to the tool shed, but the door was locked.  I turned as the whole area by the well exploded into flames.  I rushed back to the garden hose connected near the well.  The fire had already reached it and burned the hose in two.

Looking to the fields, I screamed for help.  The men folk couldn’t hear me, and they hadn’t spotted the blaze.  The flames were nearing the back door of the house. 

What have you done?  You should have waited.  You had no business starting a fire.  What were you thinking?  Every time you get over-confident and smug you do something stupid.  Just because you watched Dad burn ditches, doesn’t mean you have the expertise to do it.

The heavy railroad ties above the well, which held a heavy metal pulley, were now ablaze.  My face burned with fear, humiliation and the heat. My sister run out the back door with a rug and started beating the flames.  I ran to her and pulled the rug from her hands, pounding at the flames myself.  I didn’t want her to get burned or hurt. This was all my fault.

I’m a total idiot. A cocky, stupid, idiot. I swallowed hard, the heat burning my throat. I heard the screen door slam, and then my sister was back by my side, beating at the flames with another rug.  God was watching over me that day.  I’m not sure how the two of us managed to extinguish the out-of-control flames.  In fact, the rest of the ordeal is still a blur.

I remember my sister and I agreed to pretend we’d had everything under control, but from the charred railroad ties, burned hose and several other burned items that had been on top of the well, anyone could see we’d lost control.  I can’t remember what the men folk said when they came up from the fields with a load of hay.

The shock and my stupidity shamed me back into the house where I should have stayed in the first place.  I learned a lesson of humility that day and a real respect for fire.  It also gave me the emotions and the authenticity to write about the power of fire and to create a believable heroine who is fearful but willing to overcome those fears in my book, Braving the Blaze.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

Copyright: adogslifephoto / 123RF Stock Photo

Friday, July 18, 2014

Dogs vs. Mankind

Andy Rooney and his daughter's dog
“The average dog is a nicer person than the average person.” ―Andy Rooney

Recently, there were two articles in the local news about animal abuse.  It got me thinking about how often times we assume that just because we love our pets, everyone else does.  I can’t even imagine abusing an animal.  It is as foreign to me as space aliens.  I guess we as human being tend to judge others by ourselves, but that can be dangerous.

I was watching a classic television show the other day and the character said, “If them folks have dogs, then them there are good people.”  I marveled at the number of times I have thought the same thing, but all you have to do is listen to the news to find out differently.  The same day, my husband emailed me a link to a news article about an elephant that had been abused for fifty years.  So sad.

As Mark Twain said, “If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and man.” 

Again, I am grateful to those who dedicate their lives to helping abused and abandoned animals around the world.  Thank you.

Here are a few classic movie stars who loved their dogs.  Let’s smile with them.

Audrey Hepburn and her Yorkie

Don Ameche and his Irish Setter

Elizabeth Taylor and her Cocker Spaniel

Randolph Scott and his Great Danes

Roy Rogers and his German Shepherd

Shirley MacLaine and her Boxer

Janet Leigh and Tony Curtis with his Poodle

Marilyn Monroe and her Maltese

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs!
Fly into a good book at:

Andy Rooney photo:

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sleeping with the Fishes

On a beautiful camping day, I found myself fishing alone on, what we call, Cow Reservoir.  All my family had wandered off on hikes but, me being the avid fisherman of the family, I stuck with drowning poor worms.

Cow Reservoir is really Yellowstone Power Diversion Reservoir up Hells Canyon in Duchesne, County.  Yeah, I like the name Cow Reservoir better too.  I was fishing just before the dam right by the gate wheel that fed an eight-foot diameter pipeline leading to a hydro power plant.  Pockets of calm water along the bank proved right nice fishing before the water spilled over the dam and down the river.  I had my full attention on fishing.  I wanted to catch my limit before my family returned, and I couldn’t wait to see the surprise on their faces.  I could just taste the fish fry we would be enjoying that night. And then my fishing line tangled beneath the water. I pulled my pole back and reeled in, but the line wouldn’t release.  I didn’t have time to cut the line and set up my rod all over.

I stared at the small, square, concrete water gate that was surrounded by a metal railing and jetted out over the water.  If I could climb out on it, I might be able to free my line.  I climbed on the outside of the rail, held onto it with one hand, and leaned out over the water, while holding onto my pole with the other hand and trying to whip the line free.  I grabbed the rail and whipped, grabbed the rail and whipped, grabbed…

My hand came up with air.

That moment really did freeze.  My eyes bulged, my muscles tightened, and a gasp left my throat.  I dropped my pole and dog paddled air to reach the railing.  Then came the fall into the cold, rushing water just before the dam. The weight of the moving water felt incredibly strong as I fought my way back up to the surface.  I gasped for air.  Something pulled me under again.  I fought and kicked as the water drug me toward the bank instead of over the dam.

What is happening?

With the next kick, I felt it.  Metal.  I kicked again and again, banging my feet against the metal grate covering the upper portion of the pipeline.  I was going to be sucked into that pipe and carried all the way to the hydro power plant. My body would never be recovered, and my family would never know what happened to me.

I fought desperately to untrap my legs and surface for air.

This couldn’t be happening.  Am I really meant to die right here and now?

I couldn’t fathom the idea.  I had so many things to do, see, and experience.  My head bobbed up like the bubble on my fishing line.  I screamed my sister’s name and swallowed a mouthful of fishy water.

Alone.  No one is going to save me.  It’s just me.  Alone, frightened, and about to die.
The flow pulled me under the grate once again, trapping my feet.  I refused to be sucked down that pipe, but the fight against the powerful water continued to weaken me.

Is this all you had planned for me, God? Is this the end?

“Fight,” a man’s voice said.

I struggled again to free my bruised, tired feet and legs.

This time when I surfaced, I heard, “Lean back.”

I tipped my head back and my legs came to the surface.  I backstroked the short distance to the bank and pulled myself out of the water, dazed, confused…and surprised.

Who had called out to me?  I looked around for my family.  Instead, I saw the rushing water, green pines, majestic mountain, and blue sky. 

I’d never really been alone, and I realized I never would be.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at:

Copyright: damedeeso / 123RF Stock Photo

Saturday, July 12, 2014

All Genre Back List Blog Hop

Just because a book was released a couple of years ago, doesn't mean it's not new to you!

We at Secret Cravings are celebrating awesome books that were released before 2012. I have three 4.5 to 5 star books for you to enjoy. I write sweet (clean) romance with humor, suspense...and dogs! All three of these make great, fun summer reads. You can purchase from any retailer, but if you purchase directly from Ssecret Cravings, I can donate more to help abused and abandoned dogs. And our publisher has many different ereader formats.

How would you like one of my ebooks for FREE? Just leave a comment telling me your favorite bred of dog, and I will randomly select 2 winners at the end of the hop. Make sure you leave your email so I can contact you.

Storyline: All portrait artist Lizzie Cantrell wanted was a change in careers to avoid consoling bereaved families and dealing with death. She didn’t know she’d end up stealing a dead body and a casket full of heroin and running from the drug cartel. She also didn't know she’d end up on the 6 o’clock news wanted for grand theft auto, robbery and assault on a police officer. And to top it off, she must deal with her sister's Chinese Crested, stowaway dog and a stiff-necked funeral director to boot.

Buried away as a funeral director for the past two years because of an accident that left him scarred, Phillip Van Dyke finds himself in a grave situation involving a military drug smuggling operation. Worse yet, his accomplice is a beautiful portrait artist who’s managing to exhume the remains of his deceased heart.

Sweet Cravings:

Storyline: Who said it would be easy for Tatum to leave her over-protective father, buy a 1911 bungalow, and start her own business at the same time? When things fall apart, literally, she hires a hunky home restoration specialist named Ryan to come to her rescue. She never dreamed he’d have his own ideas about protecting her...namely sabotaging her dates.

Sweet Cravings:

Storyline: Single-minded Dean Harward is going to become a veterinarian if it kills him. He’s worked summers as a volunteer wildfire fighter to earn big cash for college. Just his luck, a pyrophobic woman gets assigned to his team. He’s certain she’ll get him killed before he can graduate. Ginger Warby is a walking firestorm as accidents continually spark around her. Or are they accidents? Can Dean keep the flames of desire he reluctantly feels for her under control long enough to keep them and his Yellow Labrador alive?

Sweet Cravings:

Have a wonderful day and enjoy the rest of the hop!
Click the link below and visit other blogs
 to win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Cindy A. Christiansen
Sweet Romance, Humor, Suspense...and Dogs! 
Fly into a good book at: