Saturday, April 15, 2017

New #review for Unholy Alliance #Tirgearrpublishing #romanticsuspense

Thank you, reviewer Sky Rae, for your generosity of time to read and review Unholy Alliance, a new release from Tirgearr Publishing. It is still 99 cents over the weekend. 

April, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

Friday, April 14, 2017

#eggcerpt fun for your basket #contemporary #romance @authortinagayle

Please welcome talented writer of romantic and complex relationships, Tina Gayle.  I'm honored to spotlight her free book, My Future Step Brother. If you love the Executive Wives' Club books, get this one now while it's free!

Here is the blurb for My Future Step Brother
Lyndsey Turner only wants to have fun.  She doesn’t care if her dad marries Travis Clark’s mother. Travis is super-hot and sets her body on fire every time he steps near her.
Travis has other ideas. He understands Lyndsey’s wild streak and wants her attention on him. All seems to be working according to his plan until his mother discovers she may have breast cancer.
Now, Travis wants to solidify his relationship with Lyndsey and start planning for their future.
Will Lyndsey commit to be his alone or does he have to play the dating game a while longer?

If you love romance, don’t miss this short story from the popular Executive Wives Club series


Frustrated by his answers and his standoffish attitude, she rose onto one knee and swung her leg over his to straddle his lap. She rested her hands on his shoulders. “And if he still doesn’t like the fact we’re dating?”
She rubbed his chest, enjoying the soft texture of his cotton T-shirt. “Though in truth, I’m not sure we can claim we’re doing anything other than sharing the same space.”
Grinning, he circled her waist and his fingers toyed with the hem of her top. “You’re just cranky because you’re still recovering from the concert last night. I told you when we booked it we wouldn’t get home until late.”
Lyndsey smiled, remembering the wonderful music. The only drawback being the long drive back from the casino in Iowa and the early wake-up call this morning to get ready for work. Tuesday night was not the best night to party. She’d survived, but today, her patience with his aloof attitude had hit ground zero.
“That’s not the problem.” She dropped her hand to the zipper of his jeans and cupped his length through the stiff fabric. “I’m tired of playing around. I want this bad boy deep and making me scream.”

Other books in the series
Marketing Exec’s Widow
IT Exec’s Baby
CFO’s Affair
CEO’s Widow
Read 1st Chapter at

Tina Gayle’s Bio

Her first romantic novel published in 2008, Tina Gayle has written over thirty romantic books under two different pseudonyms. Her novels span several different genres from contemporary to fantasy and sweet to erotic. She enjoys the challenge of drawing a reader into a story and having them travel down the same road as her hero and heroine. Married thirty years, she enjoys spending time with her husband on the golf course. Find out more about Tina on her website
Twitter -!/AuthorTinaGayle
Facebook -

Monday, April 10, 2017

Review #newrelease #Thriller #romanticsuspense

Thank you, Robecca Litman, for your review of Unholy Alliance at Lovestoryreaders Soiree.

Rebecca Litman, Storyteller’s Soiree Reviewer:
Fantastic!  Enthralling for readers who love romantic suspense.
Unholy Alliance begins on the day Tori Morningstar (the name she goes by now) is released from jail for a crime she didn’t commit.  One horrible night Tori and her cousin, Vivienne, were having dinner at an Irish American restaurant in Long Beach, California.  They witness a brutal murder.  Both were mobster’s daughters who’d lived privileged lives and wanted to leave “the life” behind them.  Tori paid for that decision by being framed for the murder, and Vivienne ran out the back of the restaurant.  Tori ‘s convinced Vivienne is being held by the sadistic thug who’d framed her.
When her attorney Grady Fletcher, who’d successfully appealed her case, defends a client accused of a similar murder, he consults Tori.  From this point on, hold tight —the author Kathleen Rowland puts you in the front seat and hits the gas.  You’ll experience a sometimes funny, past-paced, romantic story.  Rowland brings in her imagination and details as you wonder what will happen next.

The hero, Grady, is compelling as he pursues a twisted criminal with the help of FBI agent Gary Guhleman (from book 1 of the series, Deadly Alliance).  Grady has chemistry with Tori, who works her own case as a sleuth running a food truck. Heroine Tori is a wonderful character as well with plenty of courage and intelligence.  They have differences of opinion mostly about Vivienne.  Their love scenes are exciting without seeming misplaced or excessive, and their relationship is developed in a way that feels natural and true.

There is also plenty of humor to break up the tension, not only between Tori and Grady but with secondary characters, Finn and Amy Donahue, from Deadly Alliance.  Unholy Alliance has danger, suspense, lust, love, revenge, justice and even an adorable old bloodhound, Sherlock.

Buy Link: 

Friday, April 7, 2017

#amwriting #Tirgearrpublishing Creating a #villain for romantic suspense!

Welcome to my discussion about villains in romantic suspense.

If you plan to write a romantic suspense, create a villain your readers love to hate.  In RS the staring characters are the hero and heroine, but a well-characterized and realistic villain gives readers a chill and propels the story. A villain needs at least one good quality. In UnholyAlliance (book2 of the Donahue Cousins series) Seamus McGinn exhibits opportunistic intelligence when he takes over the Irish gang in Long Beach, California. A vacancy had opened up after the murder of the mob boss in book1, Deadly Alliance. Seamus is middle-aged, handsome, and fascinating to a secondary character.  He is also a psychotic killer with a temper. 
There are three bad guys in Deadly Alliance, but one villain masterminds the greatest evil. Readers enjoy guessing his identity.
Where is your villain’s hideout? The basement in an old mansion is a great one, but I wanted to write a fresh hideout, a tiny island for Unholy Alliance which is set in Long Beach, California. Seamus McGinn bought a vacant island off the coast.  The THUMS (standing for Texico, Humble, Mobile, and Shell) islands still exist and are oil platforms built close to the water level made to look like little islands.  On McGinn’s (fictitious) island there’s one actual house but other buildings are fake but used to conceal drilling equipment.  Find a way to reveal the location.  Tori's mode of transportation is sailing.

In Deadly Alliance the villain holes up in an abandoned cabin in a remote area above Lake Arrowhead, California.  The cabin is isolated and eerie, a perfect spot for this withdrawn angry villain.

Here are a couple of things not to do when writing your villain’s point of view.  Don’t have him or her talk too much and take over the novel. If you use a tried-and-true (such as the serial killer, the drug dealer, the stalker, or the psychotic ex-husband) make him a family man.  A good villain is led by dark motivations. Revenge is a possible motive for villains, but only if the villain is going to all that trouble because he was wronged in a big way. Greed, anger, jealousy, and the lust for power make great motivations, but make it personal.  In Unholy Alliance Seamus McGinn framed heroine Tori Morningstar for murder.  Now she’s out, and he’s concerned she’ll find him.  
Wishing you success as you write your Romantic Suspense!

Monday, April 3, 2017

#eggcerpt exchange #contemporary #romance, Bedeviled spotlight on @madisonmichael

Please welcome author Madison Michael. I have the spotlight on Bedeviled, book #3 of the Beguiling Bachelor Series.

Charlotte is on the run...
Charlotte Roche escaped dangers lurking in Boston by accepting a job in Chicago. A new name, a new beginning - all built on lies. Thinking she is safe, Charlotte drops her guard and sets her sights on her ruggedly handsome and wildly sexy running partner, Alexander Gaines. Can she advance their relationship from the track to the bedroom and still maintain her charade, or will Alex's probing questions pierce her carefully rehearsed story? 
Alex, with unrevealed secrets of his own, struggles to hold the irresistible Charlotte at arm’s length. But when Charlotte sustains a suspicious injury, Alex seizes the opportunity to cuddle up to the sassy beauty. Does he dare risk his reputation, his fortune, his friends, and his heart?
With exposure imminent, they appeal to their friends for help. Join Alex and Charlotte, along with characters you’ve met and loved in “Bedazzled” and “Beholden”, as they tackle the maze of half-truths and cover-ups threatening the lovers.
How can they build a bond with deceit on both sides? With malevolent forces advancing, is their love Bedeviled


“You look so beautiful,” he told her in a husky voice. “I have been wanting to do this all night.”
His head lowered to hers, pulling her close against him as he leaned back until all her weight was leaning on his and she had no choice but to twine her arms behind his head or the tree trunk. His lips captured her slowly, softly pressing against hers. One hand rested low, on the curve between her back and her behind. The other came up to tangle in her short hair, holding her head still as he deepened the kiss. His lips demanded response, plundering her mouth with his tongue. He tasted of expensive wine and Alex as his tongue explored the recesses of her mouth, hot and insistent. Her breasts were flattened against his rock-hard chest, her hips tight against his as he held her to him.
When he lifted his head, shadowed by moonlight behind him, Charlotte was unable to read his expression. Unsure and unsteady, she waited, catching her breath. Blood was coursing through her veins, hot and urgent. Her heart was pounding from just one kiss.
“God, I want you,” he rasped, the words torn from him, raw and insistent before he dipped his head to kiss her again. She returned the kiss, opening her lips to his insistent ones, entwining her tongue with his, increasing the pressure against his mouth as she ran her hands up into his hair. She held fast to him, feeling his hand move from her hair to the nape of her neck, down along her bare arms, tracing a pattern there with his fingers. The feel of his hands on her skin was warm, strong and sure. She had longed for his touch and now desired it everywhere.
Alex lifted his head reluctantly. “If we don’t get back in that car now,” he told her, his voice hoarse with longing, “I will not be responsible for my actions.”
He lifted her away from his body, steadied her and then hefted himself away from the tree and wrapped his arm around her shoulders to lead her back to the car.
She felt bereft without the solid warmth of him hard against her. Neither of them said a word until he opened her car door and closed it again, without allowing her inside. Instead, he pushed her gently against it.
“Sorry, I can’t make it home without one more.” Alex took Charlotte’s mouth in a searing kiss that took her breath away, sucking her lower lip into his mouth then sliding his tongue over it and into the moistness of her mouth. He kissed her senseless until she would have happily made love there in the sand, and the world be damned. She wanted this man as she had never wanted anything before.
Charlotte kissed him passionately, running her hands up and down his muscular back as she tightened her hold on him, wanting to get closer, to feel his bare skin, until finally they mutually agreed to some restraint and dragged apart from one another. He kept his fingers touching her lightly until she got in the car and he closed the door behind her.
“Jeez,” he stated with a rough chuckle as he folded himself into the bucket seat, “I hope there are no cops out, cause I am planning to break speed records getting you home.”

Available on Amazon

Other books in the Beguiling Bachelor Series – a steamy, Comtemporary Romance Series
Bewildered – a prequel, short story  How can Sloane choose between two hunky millionaires?
Bedazzled – Can Wyatt overcome tradition and family to seize Kelli for his own?
Bedeviled – Randall is just not part of Sloane’s plan when she claws her way back into society, but she is definitely part of his.

Bio for Madison Michael
Madison Michael traded 28 years in Fortune 500 tech and management positions for a chance to spend her days with sassy heroines, sexy, rich heroes and nothing but happy endings. Growing up the daughter of a librarian, she learned to love books, especially classics and romances, and spent winters cuddled under blankets losing herself in books.
Madison is the author of three novels in the Beguiling Bachelor series, as well as several short stories. She is a member of Romance Writers of America.
After living in the northeast, southeast and the west, Maddy returned to her Midwest roots. She lives in Evanston, IL with two feline editorial assistants and great views of Chicago’s famous skyline.
Madison welcomes your feedback at

Sunday, April 2, 2017

#review for Unholy Alliance #newrelease from #Tirgearrpublishing

Thank you, M.J. Neary for your awesome review on your CtcoMommy Blogspot yesterday! I'm thrilled you enjoyed and thought so highly of Unholy Alliance that you awarded five stars.  Click above or read it here:

Every once in a while I like to challenge myself by reading work outside of my comfort zone. Being sarcastic and pessimistic, I don't generally read books that have "romantic" in the genre, because you know there is going to be steamy sex between consensual adults, pillow talk and some semblance of a happy ending. Nevertheless, every once in a while a review copy lands in my lap. Anything that has to do with the Irish mob is fascinating. The Irish mob does not get as much coverage in fiction. Kathleen Rowland's Unholy Alliance is a second book in the Donahue Cousins series. The first book Deadly Alliance is the first one in the series, and I haven't read it yet, but there is enough of a back story in the second book to set the scene. Given that Unholy Alliance is a romantic suspense, a genre piece, there is only so much latitude the author can allow herself. It means that the rough edges have to be smoothed over. The crime cannot be too seedy, and the sex cannot be too smutty or kinky (although, there are some rather explicit descriptions of various body parts fitting into each other). The novel's protagonist, Tori/Victoria, has a criminal past, but it has to be for a crime she did not commit. So Tori is not a sympathetic redemption seeker. She is, essentially, a damsel in distress with a veil of martyrdom around her. And the man who pulls her out of jail, Attorney Grady Fletcher, whose only blemish is being a divorced guilt-ridden dad, is her knight in shining armor. So if you take comfort in this particular genre, then Unholy Alliance will prove a very satisfying read.

find Unholy Alliance here:

Friday, March 31, 2017

#amwriting #Tirgearrpublishing Are flawed #heroines in vogue these days or not?

          Are unlikable heroines are in vogue? We might wonder with the huge success of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, an alcoholic, but remember her good and pure intentions.  The lean female character in GONE GIRL was an evil antagonist, not a heroine.  These two books do not fall into the Happily Ever After genre.

          As a writer of romantic suspense, my heroine wants the dashing hero, usually some kind of alpha protector. She must stand up to the hero and must have backbone.  
          Amy Kintyre in Deadly Alliance works for Finn Donahue, but this job is a stepping stone while she gets her sportswear design business back on track.  Reviewer Diane Schwarz had this to say about Amy:
Along comes Amy Kintyre, the late partner's girlfriend who applies for an open book keeping job. All she wants is a fresh start, but Finn suspects she has information about the missing money. She witnesses a fight between terrorists and the Irish gang, and Finn protects her. Amy finds him difficult. He makes her mad, makes her cry, but has this soothing voice... Okay, you get it. They're attracted. Big time, but what kind of alliance can these people possible have? The plot is seamless and amazing. I loved the writing.
          Tori Rourke in Unholy Alliance searches for her missing cousin in spite of Grady warning her against it. This is a new release, and here is what reviewer Vikki Vaught wrote about Tori:

Tori’s character has an interesting story. I can’t imagine spending ten years in prison for a crime I did not commit. What amazed me, is that she is not a cynical character. She gained my empathy from the beginning. Her only concern upon her release is finding her cousin. Her loyalty to Vivienne is actually astonishing. There are several heart-warming scenes between her, the hero and his son that only made me like her even more.
          Readers want the heroine to be strong enough to handle him even if he does something crushing.  She’s feisty with inner strength and at times might be his worst nightmare. That’s because he is falling for her but can’t control her actions. While strong and self-respecting, she must be kind and must complement rather than overwhelm.
Let’s discuss her flaws because readers like real people.  Is she driven by work or afraid to commit in spite of the wonderful intimacy she and the hero share?  Or has she been abused in the past and afraid of sex?  Heroines react against turmoil, suffer inside, and experience self-doubt.  The strong hero will reject, act like a jerk, but ends up caring. A deeply flawed heroine needs to be paired with a patient hero.  A raw heroine is a greater challenge to write than a deeply flawed hero—she can’t be selfish.  Readers won’t identify with her.  Yes, this double standard exists!

Remember that the relationship between the heroine and hero is at the heart of your book.  He won’t want a too-stupid-to-live heroine who tosses out common sense and does dumb stuff to move the plot.  Flaws are fine, but she needs to work at overcoming them. 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

#Tirgearrpublishing #fantasy #romance Spotlight on Touched @abbeymacmunn

 Today I have the honor of spotlighting a romantic fantasy, TOUCHED by talented writer, Abbey MacMunn who writes for Tirgearr Publishing, Ireland. 


When inquisitive antique dealer Cami Wilson learns she’s the revered offspring of an immortal mother and a mortal father, it’s not just her hybrid status that has her all flustered. The title comes with her very own super-sexy guardian.
Jaded immortal Joseph Carlisle has only one thing on his mind; his sworn duty to protect the hybrid from those who wish her harm. Anything else would be complicated. That is until they meet. 
Chemistry sizzles between them but there’s a problem—the hybrid’s curse. Cami’s touch, skin to skin, proves near fatal to her and all immortals, Joseph included.
But the fated lovers discover her curse is the least of their concerns when a friend’s deadly betrayal threatens to tear them apart forever.


He might have just saved her life, but pinned to the freezing concrete by some wannabe hero was not her idea of fun. Cami Wilson shoved the unyielding wall of his chest, fighting not only him but the rising panic. ‘Get the hell off me!’
The guy remained on top of her, using his large frame to protect her from the chunks of smouldering metal hurtling to the ground around her. Icy air met with fiery heat and smoke infused the atmosphere like the fifth of November, but there were no sparkling fireworks to admire, only the flaming inferno, which seconds earlier had been her car.
Maybe if she hadn’t been so intrigued by the antique brooch she held in her hand or distracted by the weird, periodic buzzing emitting from it, she might have seen him coming at her in full, rugby tackle mode.
He lifted a little, easing the crushing pressure on her ribs, but remained inches from her face. Glacier-blue eyes met hers, captivating and intense. ‘Are you hurt?’
His gravelly voice did something tingly to her insides. She went to speak, but no words came. Nothing came to mind. Not the explosion. Not the contents of her shopping trolley strewn all over Morrisons’ car park. Not the fact she could have been killed. Somehow, none of it registered.
She gawped back at him like a doe-eyed teenager, taking in the angular sweep of a jawline peppered with dark stubble, and well-defined lips that parted invitingly as he drew in his breath.
His gaze lingered on her mouth in a breath-taking moment right out of one of those soppy rom-coms she liked to watch.
Forget burning cars and curious brooches… hel-lo, future husband.
Somewhere to her left, an engine revved loudly, and he turned his head towards the sound. Overlong, tousled hair tickled her cheek, and she got a faint whiff of citrus shampoo.
Hmm, lovely…
A second later, his attention returned to her. His grave expression burned with an urgency that brought her down from the clouds. ‘Dammit! I asked if you were hurt.’
‘No, I…’
In a move so swift it wasn’t humanly possible, he leapt to his feet and hauled her up beside him. The brooch slipped from her gloved hand and landed on the ground.
The man cursed under his breath and stooped to retrieve it. With an exasperated look, he waved it in front of her as though she were a baby dropping her dummy for the hundredth time. ‘You need to take more care of this. Don’t you know how important it is?’

Sudden indignation flared. Cami snatched the jewel from his grasp and slipped it back into her coat pocket. Okay, the guy rocked the sexy, just-rolled-out-of-bed look, but his patronizing attitude set her teeth on edge. What right did he have to tell her what to do? And what on Earth did he know about a weird, vibrating brooch she’d been given by her adoptive mother, the only clue she had to her past?
Buy links:

Author Bio:
Abbey MacMunn writes paranormal, fantasy and sci fi romance. She lives in Hampshire, UK with her husband and their four children. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
When she’s not writing, she likes to watch films and TV shows – anything from rom-coms to superheroes to science fiction movies.

Contact links:

Sunday, March 26, 2017

#eggcerpt exchange new release! #parnormal #romance @gemwriter

Please welcome talented author Claire Gem.  I have my spotlight on book #2 of her amazing haunted voices series, Spirits of the Heart.


An addiction counselor and a security guard struggle to free a little girl and her father, two lost spirits trapped inside an abandoned mental asylum.

Addiction counselor Laura Horton returns from college to move in with an old friend and start her career. But her homecoming is jarring. Her friend moves out, leaving Laura alone with the gorgeous but intimidating ex-boyfriend—in a house that snugs up to an ancient graveyard.

Officer Miller Stanford is a man with a shattered past. His alcoholic dad destroyed their family, a weakness Miller is terrified will consume him too. The last thing he needs is a sexy, blonde addiction counselor watching his every move. When he begins to see specters in the dark, he starts questioning his own stability.

But Laura sees her too—a pathetic child-spirit searching for her father. When Laura starts digging into old asylum records, the eerie events escalate . . . Can Miller and Laura uncover the secrets of Talcott Hall without jeopardizing their love—and lives—in the process?


“Hey. Little girl. Let me help you,” Miller tried again, and the child finally lowered her hands. She was younger than he’d first thought—ten, maybe. Tears streaked her reddened cheeks, glistening in the beam of his headlights. Her pale, golden hair was baby fine and wispy, but tousled and disheveled. As though it hadn’t seen a brush in good long time.
She met his gaze with eyes like the man’s, clear and blue and strangely luminescent. The sadness Miller saw behind them made his chest ache.
“Where did your friend go, sweetheart? The man who came out with you. Where did he go?”
She stared at him with lips quivering before her face crumpled again. “I don’t know. I don’t know where Daddy is. I’ve been looking and looking for him. Every time I think I’ve found him, he goes away.”
Miller swallowed. Yeah, that’s one way to describe the mysterious vanishing act.
He drew in a breath and tried again. “What’s your name, sweetie? Was that your daddy with you?”
Head bobbing, the tears flowed freely now, and she wouldn’t take her eyes off Miller’s face. He felt a lump growing in his own throat, as though she was somehow transferring her pain to him. His hands, clasped in front of him, began to shake.
When she spoke again, her voice took on an echoed quality, as though she were receding into an empty culvert. “I’m Greta. And I’m looking for my daddy. He used to live here. But I keep coming back to find him, and nobody knows where he is.” She dropped her chin to her chest and ground her knuckles against her eyes.
“Greta,” he repeated, a stab of pity piercing his gut. So freaking pathetic. A forlorn little girl . . .his own memories rose up like foul-smelling steam. Swallowing hard, he pressed on. “Greta, honey, what’s your last name?”

When she looked up, Miller gasped. Behind her, against the fence, a bright red McDonald’s French fry box clung to the base of the chain link. Directly behind her, yet he could see it clearly. That’s when he realized he could see .  . .right . . .through her.

About Claire Gem--

Claire is a multi-published, award winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.

Her paranormal/romantic suspense, Hearts Unloched, won the 2016 New York Book Festival. Her latest release, The Phoenix Syndrome, won the women’s fiction division in FCRWA’s The Beacon Contest.

A New York native, Claire has lived in five of the United States and held a variety of jobs, from waitress to bridal designer to research technician—but loves being an author best. She and her happily-ever-after hero, her husband of 38 years, now live in central Massachusetts.

    ~ Amazon Top 100 Seller in Suspense>Ghosts & Paranormal>Psychics ~ 
Website         Facebook        Twitter

Author of Contemporary Romance & Romantic Suspense

Friday, March 24, 2017

#eggcerpt exchange #romance spotlight on Innocent Tears @_iris_b

Please welcome author Iris Blobel 
I have the spotlight on her book

Advice is what we ask for when we already 
know the answer, but wish we didn't.”

♥♦♥  SYNOPSIS ♥♦♥ 

Becoming a parent can be daunting at the best of times, but for Flynn, a business lawyer in Melbourne, it almost pulls the feet from right underneath him. He’s become a father to six-year-old Nadine literally overnight! He had no idea about her existence, and the news throws him into chaos, even more so when he is asked to take over custody. 

With the help of Emma, an employee at the hotel where Nadine and her grandparents are staying, and his parents, Flynn tries to do the right thing. Yet, the right thing in his eyes differs from his parents’, and Emma is voicing her opinion as well. And right in the middle is little Nadine, still grieving the loss of her mother and finding a wonderful friend in Emma. There’s no doubt she’s afraid where and with whom she will settle. 

But in the end, it’s a letter Flynn receives that helps him figuring out what to do.

♥♦♥  ~  OUT NOW  ~  ♥♦♥ 


Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she met her husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only emerged recently, but now her laptop is a constant companion.

Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her two beautiful daughters.

Next to her job at a private school, she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.

Social Media Links:

♥♦♥ EXCERPT ♥♦♥

“My Mum is dead.”
Somewhat startled by this statement, Emma peeked over the reception desk into beautiful green eyes that belonged to a cute little girl with brown curly hair and a freckled button nose. She couldn’t help but smile. There was something in the girl’s eyes that held a hint of mischief and curiosity, as well as some sadness, and Emma was drawn to her instantly.
The stern voice of an elderly woman approaching the reception caused Emma to flinch. The girl stiffened with eyes wide open.
“My apologies for that,” the woman said to Emma, though her expression didn’t actually reveal any signs of apologies. The woman’s face reflected a life of bitterness, the lines appearing deep and weathered.
Emma smiled. “No need to.”
An elderly man joined them, and after a brief nod of acknowledgement she asked, “May
I help you?”
“Yes. We would like to check in. Gibbs. William and Teresa Gibbs,” the woman replied.
Emma typed the name on the keyboard, and while she waited for the details, she smiled at the girl, and asked, “Holidays?”
Nadine’s face spread into a small smile, but it was enough to show she had her two top teeth missing.
“And I see the tooth fairy has been to see you recently.”
“Excuse me–” Mrs. Gibbs glanced at Emma’s name badge. “–Emma. Can we proceed with the check-in please?”
“My apologies, ma’am.” Emma read the details on the screen, made a few notes and turned around to activate the automated door card in the back office. All the while, she felt Mrs. Gibbs’ glare on her and instinctively pulled on her navy uniform skirt feeling slightly uncomfortable.
Emma sighed inwardly. In her early twenties and she still lacked confidence in what other people thought of her. Tucking an escaping strand of her tawny hair behind her ear, she tried to keep a positive attitude because, after all, she loved working at the All Stars Hotel in Melbourne. It was something she always wanted to do—to greet people to this beautiful city and make their stay as comfortable as possible. And she was often told how popular she was with staff and guests alike for her positive attitude, her generous heart, and kind spirit.
“Ma’am, that’d be room five-o-two. If you go to the right over there, take the lift to the fifth floor and follow the hall to the near end, you will find room five-o-two on your right.”
Teresa Gibbs took the card from Emma and turned it in her hands.
“Ma’am, you slide that into the door instead of a key. I’m happy to ask someone to come with you and show–”
“I’ll be fine. Thank you.” And Mrs. Gibbs turned to go.
Emma leaned across the counter and smiled at Nadine. “Enjoy your holidays,” she said and winked. “And come see me sometime to tell me about the tooth fairy.”

“We’re not on a holiday,” the girl said in almost a whisper. “We’re here to meet my dad.”