Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Awake (Book 1) and Second Chances (Book 2) of A Midlife Romance

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

A Midlife Romance Series. Friendship and passion, lost and found again by chance. Lori, an affluent wife and mother, has sacrificed her career for the sake of her family and the expectations to build a "perfect" family. Brandon, an FBI agent, is smart, committed, and protective of the women in his life, but struggles as a single parent. Despite living on opposite coasts, and the competing responsibilities that accrue in midlife, Lori and Brandon take a shot at romance.

Synopsis (from Amazon):  Awake begins in the shame and pain of a marital desertion. Lori is reluctant to let Brandon into her life, afraid to be hurt again. Once she opens that door wider, Lori experiences an explosive awakening. With Brandon's help, Lori rediscovers her sexual power and, through that, confidence and hope. Yet three-thousand miles separate suburban Maryland and Seattle. Their intense but infrequent visits are disorienting, particularly as Lori feels pressured towards a more suitable post-divorce life. When Lori makes an impulsive decision to take her kids on a trip to Seattle, she sparks a chain of conflicts that might end their still-precarious romance.

Synopsis (from Amazon) of Second Chances (Book Two):

Second Chances continues the story of Lori and Brandon's bicoastal romance. Their sexy, fun weekends, crisscrossing the country to see each other, are bookended by the challenges back home. For Lori, that's a new home, job search, divorce proceedings, and conflicts with her teenage kids. With newfound confidence, helped by Brandon's skills in the bedroom and as handyman, cop, and father, Lori revels in a budding independence. Still, there's no avoiding that their time together is scheduled around the competition (exes, kids, and bosses). Brandon's aversion to risk, his loyalty to his daughter, and Lori's increasingly complicated life in Maryland all loom as potential, insurmountable obstacles, and Lori fears that shuttling between disparate worlds will break her. After a particularly empowering sexual encounter, Lori finds the courage to ask for what she wants-a second chance to build a brave new life with Brandon-but taking that risk could mean losing everything.


Amazon links:


Second Chances


Goodreads links:


Second Chances

Lisa Battalia is an attorney in the field of gender equity and a writer. She is the mother of two newly launched young adults; a lifelong east-coaster who recently launched her own new life on Whidbey Island, WA. 


Her other novels and short stories can be found at www.lisabattalia.com.





Excerpt: Lori woke, uncertain of the time, in exactly the same position. Brandon was curled around her from behind, still holding her tight. She listened to his steady breath and could feel it blow softly across her shoulder. Tears welled again. When had she last spent the whole night, any part of the night, tucked into someone's arms?

            Lori reluctantly extracted herself, though, because she really needed to pee. She climbed awkwardly over Brandon to get to the open side of the bed. Thankfully, a couple of candles remained lit, and she made her way through the unfamiliar room and into the hallway. She could see through to the living room dimly lit by the glow of street lights, and she noticed Brandon's t-shirt on the floor.

            She went and pulled it on. Passing over her nose, she breathed deeply to smell his smell, just like she used to do with her kids' clothing. A stolen snuffle as she gathered up miniature shirts and jeans and sundresses, hoping in those whiffs of sweat, spilled food, and grass stains, that she might catch hold of their fleeting joys. Brandon's scent was different, still familiar, the aroma of deep compatibility. She wondered if smell could reveal such a thing? Her nose detected a trace of Brandon's cologne, woodsy, leathery, sensual, something almost animal- like that she remembered well. It felt intoxicating that he was so near.

            On route back to the bedroom, Lori took a quick glance at her phone to make sure there were no texts from the kids.

            Jeanette was inviting her to see a movie. Lori would have to make up an excuse. It was three in the morning, she noted, six in the morning east coast time. That seemed to trigger her appetite, and Lori poked through Brandon's refrigerator. She spotted a container of Greek yogurt. After several wrong picks, she found the drawer with the silverware, leaned against the countertop, removed the cover, and, half-aware, started to eat. It seemed a sudden recognition, her bare feet starting to feel the cold of the floor, she was three thousand miles away from her kids, just slept in a man's bed, not her husband, a strange bed, but one that felt, well, kind of like home.

            Brandon appeared then as a shadow at the kitchen entrance. He turned on the light. When she flinched, he quickly adjusted the dimmer. He was as naked as in bed, yet she felt like she was seeing all of him for the first time. When they were young, Brandon was tall and very thin. Clearly, he worked out—just the right amount. Not over the top muscles like some boys gave themselves, looking awkward and bulky, arms so thick they no longer rested comfortably against their bodies.

            She appraised Brandon, trying not to look obvious, the sculpted shoulders and biceps; slim and strong-muscled legs, relaxed at the moment; a well-defined stomach, no six-pack. Still, there were indents in all the right places, highlighting musculature and triangulating his sweet spot, which, with a quick peek, revealed a three-quarters-erect penis.

            “What you lookin' at?” Brandon asked, smirking.

            “I'll assume that's a rhetorical question.”

            He laughed softly, such a warm, cozy sound in the dark,

early morning. “Have you been up long?” He walked over, tipped up her face, and kissed her on the nose.

            “No, just a few minutes. I was suddenly wide awake and hungry.”

            “Jet lag can be tough, and we forgot to eat.” Glancing at the yogurt in her hand, he said, “you probably need something more than that.”

            “I just wanted a little something. This is perfect. It's my favorite brand.” Lori took another bite. “Want some?”


            She scooped up a spoonful and fed it to him.

            “You look good in my shirt, by the way, very sexy.” Brandon's mouth was half full, so the words sounded slightly garbled and sweeter.

Lori gave a twirl to acknowledge his compliment, then made a slight curtsy, pulling out the bottom hem. With her bowed head, she could see that her legs were still shapely, bare skin extending down from where the bottom of the shirt hit high on her thighs. She was frowning, though, when she looked back up.

            “Peter hated when I wore his clothes.”


            “God knows. I told him I did it to look sexy. He said he

didn't like other people touching his stuff.”

            “Wow. Okay.” Brandon leaned back against the countertop

so that they were side by side. “Were you thinking about him right now? About home?”

            “Actually, I was thinking about how strange it feels to be so comfortable here, with you, in your bed.”

            “Why strange?”

            “It's been so long since we've seen each other or even talked. Our “real” lives, our grown-up lives, happened apart. I thought you'd feel like someone I don't know.“ She glanced sideways, catching his eye. “You don't.”

            “That's the thing about us,” Brandon said as he put an arm around her. “We knew each other before we started making up shit, before we did all the stuff that was expected of us.” He touched her cheek and turned her face back to him. “I bet I know the real Lori, the one maybe no one else sees.”

            “That's interesting,” she said, shifting from his gaze, “because I'm not sure I know who Lori is anymore.”

            “You knew back then.”

            “Did I?” She looked at him again fiercely. “I can't remember it at all.”

            “You were so smart, Lori. You were gonna save the world.”

            “Wow. Should that make me laugh or cry?” Lori turned away. “It's funny; I always felt most alive when you and I were fighting some cause, being big fat pains in the world's ass. In the end, though, you scared me.”

            “What? How?” He backed off the counter so he could regard her directly.

            “You were uncompromising,” she said, “and restless. I was afraid where you would take me.”

            Brandon gazed at her, not understanding.

            “I guess I wanted my fights to be manageable, family- friendly affairs.” Lori smiled, even as she shook her head. She'd never quite put those old feelings into words before. “Instead, I've managed myself into, what? Boredom? Irrelevance? I don't want to sound melodramatic. I just don't feel like there's much left that's me anymore.”

            “You're an attorney. You went to one of the best law schools in the country.”

            “Yeah. My point exactly. I can hardly call myself a professional these days.”

            “Stop that. Education doesn't just fade away, not unless you let it. You're a mother too. That's the most important job, even if our hypocritical society only pays it lip service.” Brandon lifted her chin, forced her to look at him.

            “You're right. Being a mom has been my greatest happiness,” Lori paused, “and my undoing.” She looked down again, and went back to a silent place. After a few moments, she spoke to him with puzzlement. “I still can't believe you have a kid. You were so adamant you didn't want that.”

            “I surprised myself,” Brandon said, leaning back again against the counter. “I think the reason I said those things was because I was afraid. My parents weren't great role models. I didn't want to repeat their mistakes.”

            “Our kids will say that about us one day; you know that, right?”

            Brandon laughed. “It's true.” He paused as if to elicit a memory. “One day, I'm sure it was more gradual than that; I only remember waking to a sudden, overwhelming need to have a child. It felt like the most important thing, more important than having a wife, though one kind of went with the other.”

            “Is that why you married Jocelyn?”

            “It was a big part of it. She and I were on and off again for so many years. We either had to break up for good or get married. Never the best circumstances to say, 'I do.' Of course, you were already taken.”

            “Were you ever happy as a couple?”

            Brandon gave a tired sigh. “Yeah. Maybe. Sometimes. Let's save that conversation for daylight. Do you think you can sleep a little more?”

            “I think so.”

            “I'll take you out for coffee in the morning. Have you heard we have a very intense relationship with our coffee in Seattle?”

            “I've heard something about that.”

            The brief banter made Lori feel light on her feet and sleepy. She followed him back to the bedroom. Brandon lifted the covers, climbed in after her, tucked her shoulders inside his own, her head under his chin. Lori was sure she must have tossed and turned, as she often did. Brandon was still holding her just as faithfully when they woke.


Sunday, December 11, 2022

Witcha Gonna Do?

 ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

SynopsisA witch with no magical abilities and her know-it-all nemesis must team up in the first of a new, hot romantic comedy series from USA Today bestselling author Avery Flynn.

Could it possibly get any worse than having absolutely no magical abilities when you’re a member of the most powerful family of witches ever? It used to be that I’d say no, but then I keep getting set up on dates with Gil Connolly whose hotness is only matched by his ego. Seriously. I can’t stand him. Even if I also can’t stop thinking about him (specifically kissing him) but we’re going to pretend I never told you that part.
So yeah, my life isn’t the greatest right now, but then it goes straight to the absolute worst hell when I accidentally make my sister’s spell glitch and curse my whole family. And the only person who can help non-magical me break the spell? You guessed it. Gil the super hot jerk. 
Now we have to work together to save my family and outmaneuver some evil-minded nefarious forces bent on world domination. Oh yeah, and we have to do all that while fighting against the attraction building between us because I may not be magical, but what’s happening between Gil and I sure feels like it.

USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling romance author Avery Flynn has three slightly-wild children, loves a hockey-addicted husband and is desperately hoping someone invents the coffee IV drip. She lives outside of Washington DC with her family, Dwight the cat, and a pack of five dogs all named after food. If she’s not reading romance or binging reality TV, she’s most definitely plotting to take over the world so she can banish Crocs from existence.


Saturday, December 10, 2022

The Opportunist

  ~ I received no compensation and opinions are 100% my own or my family. ~

Synopsis:  A deliciously sly, compulsively readable tale about greed, power and the world’s most devious family.

When Alana Shropshire’s seventy-six-year-old father, Ed, starts dating Kelly, his twenty-eight-year-old nurse, a flurry of messages arrive from Alana’s brothers, urging her to help “protect Dad” from the young interloper. Alana knows that what Teddy and Martin really want to protect is their father’s fortune, and she tells them she couldn’t care less about the May–December romance. Long estranged from her privileged family, Alana, a hardworking single mom, has more important things to worry about.

But when Ed and Kelly’s wedding is announced, Teddy and Martin kick into hyperdrive and persuade Alana to fly to their father’s West Coast island retreat to perform one simple task in their plan to make the gold digger go away. Kelly, however, proves a lot more wily than expected, and Alana becomes entangled in an increasingly dangerous scheme full of secrets and surprises. Just how far will her siblings go to retain control?

The Opportunist

Author: Elyse Friedman

ISBN: 9780778386957

Paperback Original 

Publication Date: December 6, 2022

Publisher: MIRA

Buy Links:



Barnes & Noble




Elyse Friedman is a critically acclaimed author, screenwriter, poet and playwright. Her work has been short-listed for the Trillium Book Award, Toronto Book Award, ReLit Award and Tom Hendry Award. She has also won a Foreword Book of the Year Award, as well as the 2019 TIFF-CBC Films Screenwriter Jury Prize and the 2020 TIFF-CBC Screenwriter Award. Elyse lives in Toronto.

Excerpt: When the calls started up again, Alana ignored them. Ditto the texts and emails, including ones with red exclamation points attached. She had a part-time job that felt full-time and a daughter who required around-the-clock care. She had neither the hours nor the inclination to delve into family drama. And she already knew why her brothers were so desperate to reach her. The younger of the two, Martin, had been messaging sporadically for months about the “skank” their father had taken up with—a nurse, hired by the eldest, Teddy, to tend to the old man’s needs as he grew increasingly infirm and cranky. Nurse Kelly, a woman forty-eight years their father’s junior, a gold digger, obviously, and a clever one according to Martin. Pretty sure she had him at the first sponge bath. Alana was more amused than disturbed. She told her brothers she couldn’t care less. She had more important things to worry about. Eventually, they stopped contacting her.

Then a few weeks ago an oversize envelope had arrived in Alana’s mailbox. Thick creamy paper, her name embossed in swirling gold script—an invitation to the wedding of Edward Shropshire Sr. and Kelly McNutt. Ha! Clever indeed. She felt a fizz of satisfaction, even as she braced for the onslaught from her siblings, who would be outraged at the prospect of losing any portion of their massive inheritance. Alana hated her father and felt nothing but disdain for her brothers. She had no interest in “protecting the family investments” or “presenting a united front” or “having Dad’s back” or any of the increasingly urgent drivel that trickled in from her greedy siblings. She had been estranged from her father for decades and had no stake in this game. It was frankly a shock that she had been invited to the wedding. It must have been Kelly McNutt who insisted on that. The calls, texts and emails started up again with renewed fervor. When Alana finally concluded that her brothers would not leave her in peace until she responded, she composed a simple three-word text, not exactly a family joke, but something they would recognize and understand: BEYOND OUR CONTROL. She added a laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying emoji and sent it to Teddy and Martin.

She stopped hearing from them after that.

It was a rough night. Lily’s BiPAP alarm had gone off twice. She could breathe without the machine, but not as well, and Alana was programmed to leap into action from the deepest slumber. The first time it sounded, around 1:00 a.m., it was a mask-fit alarm. A quick adjustment and back 

to bed. The second was more annoying: a leak alarm at 4:28 that took forever to rectify—no matter how much she fiddled, the alarm kept sounding. She finally got it fixed and Lily was able to get back to sleep, but Alana couldn’t. She lay in bed, her brain churning. At 5:40 she got up, made coffee, and bolted two cinnamon buns in quick succession, an act she immediately regretted, even as she was scraping the last bits of hard white icing from the aluminum pan into her mouth.

It was a workday, so she woke Lily early, helped her dress, and did her hair in French braids. Ramona was coming for the day and Lily liked to look nice for her favorite support worker. Unlike Alana, Ramona was big into girlie stuff: hair, nails, fashion. She would give Lily mani-pedis, and they would flip through Harper’s Bazaar and Teen Vogue and critique the outfits. Ramona had been with them since Lily was three years old, and Alana trusted her completely. She was hugely competent and a ton of fun. Lily was an earnest child, but when Ramona was around, she let herself be silly and boisterous. It would not be unusual for Alana to come home and find them both with teased-up hair and full-on glitter makeup, binge-watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. Ramona was what Lily called “chill.” Pretty much the opposite of Alana, who was always stressed out and exhausted.

“What time will you be home?” Lily asked.

“If all goes well, five thirty.”

“When does all ever go well?”

Alana laughed. “It’s rare, but it has been known to happen. I was home on time twice last week.”


“And you have Ramona.” 

“OK. But try.”

“I always try, lovey. But if someone shows up out of the blue at four thirty, I can’t just leave. I have to help them.”

“I know.”

Alana worked part-time at the RedTree Shelter, which offered emergency housing for victims of domestic abuse. It was a foolish job for her to have: low-paying and high stress. Not what she needed in practically her only hours away from managing Lily’s health. She should have taken employment that was easy on the soul, like flower arranging—some vaguely pleasant, not overly cerebral activity that would give her time to refresh and restore. She often fantasized about becoming a professional dog walker or making perfect heart shapes in foamy coffees all day, but she stayed with RedTree. It was important work that made her feel a little better about herself. She sometimes wondered if her motivations were selfish at root.

When Ramona arrived, Alana kissed Lily goodbye and left for work. On her third try she managed to get her Stone Age Honda Odyssey to start and was backing out of the drive when a Lexus pulled in behind her, blocking her way. She tapped the horn—a polite “I’m actually leaving here” signal. Nothing. The car just sat there. She honked again, harder, wondering why it always seemed to be a Lexus or a Mercedes or a BMW that cut her off in traffic, or jumped its turn at a four-way stop, or blocked her driveway when she was trying to get to work, for fuck’s sake. She curbed an impulse to ram her SUV into the shiny roadster, and instead left the Honda running while she strode toward the offending vehicle, getting ready to unleash years of pent-up luxury-car-inspired fury on the entitled asshole behind the wheel. But before she could bang her fist on the tinted window, it slid down smoothly, revealing her brother Martin talking on a cell phone. He had it resting flat on an upturned palm held in front of his face. “OK,” he said. “I know. I’ll take care of it.”

“What the hell, Martin? I have to go to work.” It had been years since she had seen him, but he looked pretty much the same—a slightly higher hairline, maybe a few extra pounds. He was still conventionally handsome, fair and blue-eyed with their father’s chiseled chin, but he now had the slightly puffy face of a drinker, the lightning-bolt blood vessels on the side of his nose. He smelled faintly of good cologne with a top note of leather from the luxury rental car’s seats.

He gave Alana the “I’ll-just-be-one-second” finger. “Listen, Damian, I gotta go. I’ll call you in an hour.” Martin pocketed the phone and smiled at his sister. “Sorry about that.”

“What are you doing here?”

“You didn’t get my texts? I need to speak to you. You have a minute?”

“Not at the moment, no.”

“I flew across the country to talk to you. You can’t give me two minutes of your time?”

“I have to go to work, Martin. If you want to ride with me, you’re welcome to. Just let me out, then you can park in the drive and Uber back.”

Martin eyed the dented Odyssey that was belching out exhaust. “Why don’t I drive you and give you cash to cab home?”

“No, thanks.”

He smiled tightly. “Fine.”

Alana returned to the SUV to wait for her brother. When Martin climbed in, he was carrying a stiff white envelope with a button-and-string closure and an airport gift-shop bag.

“Here, I got this for…your daughter.”

“Her name is Lily.”

“I know that. Of course…you named her after Lillian.”

A demented-looking doll with stiff blond ringlets stuck out of the tissue paper.

“Thanks,” said Alana. “She’s a little old for dolls though.”

“Oh. How old is she now?”


“Wow. Time flies. But I thought…”


“You know… I figured she’d still be into dolls.”

“She’s not slow, Martin. Her brain is fine.”

“Oh. So…?”

“She has a rare form of muscular dystrophy. Well, rare for girls, common for boys.”


“She’s inside, by the way. You want to meet your niece?”

Her brother looked confused and pained, as if she’d asked if he wanted to donate a kidney or breastfeed a cat. “I thought you were in a hurry?”

“I am. I’m just messing with you.” Alana eased the Odyssey out of the driveway. She knew Martin wouldn’t want to meet Lily. And she didn’t want Martin to meet Lily.

“Can you turn the AC on?” Martin fanned himself with the white envelope. “It’s so freaking humid in this city.”

“Sorry, it’s busted.” Alana opened the rear windows to 

let in more air but felt a perverse pleasure in depriving her brother of climate control.

“So, look, I understand you don’t care about Dad’s wedding—”

“I really don’t and I’m not going.”

“I don’t give a shit if you go or don’t go, but I’m here to tell you that you should care, actually.”

“And why is that?”

“Because this Kelly woman is seriously messing with Dad’s head.”

“His head or his assets?”

“Both. She’s got him wound around her finger. They’re in the process of setting up a charitable foundation.”

“And that’s a bad thing because…?”

“Because guess who’s going to run it and have access to three hundred million dollars?”

“Kelly McNutt?”

“Yes, Kelly McFucking Nutt. It’s a problem. This girl is dangerous.” A harp gliss sounded from Martin’s pocket. He switched his phone to silent mode.

“Well, it’s not my problem. And anyway, how do you know she won’t use the funds charitably and wisely?”

“Very funny.”

“I’m serious.”

“The same way I know that a twenty-eight-year-old nurse doesn’t fall madly in love with her seventy-six-year-old patient.”

Alana shrugged. “Unlikely, but you never know. I saw his picture in Forbes a few weeks ago. He still looks like Charlton Heston on steroids. Maybe she has daddy issues.” 

“It would have to be more like granddaddy issues. I doubt she gets off on adult diapers.”

“He wears diapers?”

“He’s been incontinent for years.”


“You must have seen a pre-stroke picture in Forbes.”

“Dad had a stroke?”

“Yes. I told you that last year, Alana.”

“You did?”

“Jesus. Don’t you read your emails?”

“Sometimes the family stuff slips through.”

“Anyway, between that and the prostate surgery, I doubt he can even get it up for Miss McNutt.”

“OK, you know what? I don’t want to talk about this. I’m sorry you and Teddy are going to lose a chunk of your inheritance. But I’m sure there’s more than enough to go around.”

“Yeah, in a perfect world, we’d all be satisfied with our piece of the pie. He’s had playthings before, right? And wasted money on them. But this is different. This one is setting off alarm bells. She isn’t satisfied with having the run of the house and getting a Ferrari and—”

“He bought her a Ferrari?” Alana laughed.

“An 812 GTS. I don’t even want to tell you what that costs.”

“Like how much?”

“A lot.”

“Like a hundred Gs?”

“Try four times that.”


“Yeah. You think she’d be happy with the lifestyle, right? And some agreed-upon sum in a prenup that would effectively let her retire in high style eight years out of college. But no. Apparently, there isn’t going to be a prenup because he trusts her.”

“Really? That’s surprising.”

“I know. This is what I’m saying. Because she makes him exercise and eat his greens, he actually believes she has his best interests at heart. The woman is very savvy, and basically on a mission to alienate us from Dad. She’s been trying to discredit us from the beginning. And she’s subtle about it. She’s supersmart. He’s already given her power of attorney for personal care. How long before she’s in charge of his property too?”