Return to Poughkeepsie: Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway

Return to Poughkeepsie blog tour banner

Beckett Taylor is a murderer. His calling, his craft are destruction and intimidation—whether he wants it that way now or not. He left Poughkeepsie to keep his brothers safe, to keep Eve safe. Set up with happy lives to live, they’re better off without him, right?

But all his willpower crumbles when he hears his brother Blake’s frantic voice on the phone. An unknown enemy has moved in on his old territory, and Livia’s been taken. In an instant, Beckett knows it will take an attack only he and Eve can execute to bring her back. All his self-imposed embargoes are torn to shreds, perhaps along with the new man he’s struggled to become.

“Brother, call Eve. I’ll be there soon.”

In this emotional and action-packed sequel to Poughkeepsie, Debra Anastasia conjures a tale of love at its most raw and ragged. With Beckett and Eve, how could we expect anything less? But even when it’s messy, not magical, true love perseveres. Real love finds a way—for better or for worse until death does part.
Return to Poughkeepsie cover large

Debra Anastasia Author2013_edited-1Debra Anastasia is busy, just like every other mom. There’s dinner, the dogs, the two kids, the two kids, and her ongoing battle with…ahem… digestive issues, which combined with her adolescent boy sense of humor makes for colorful and sometimes cringe-worthy social media updates. Her first love and crowning achievement is her thriving career as the weirdest mom on the block.

Her writing started a decent handful of years ago when–along with the animals and humans in her house–the voices of characters started whispering stories in Debra’s ear. Insomnia was the gateway to plots that wouldn’t give up, wouldn’t let go. Now they stalk her everywhere. Halfway through making lunches, a twist takes hold and–fingers full of peanut butter–she finds somewhere, anywhere to write it down.

She’s eternally grateful to Omnific Publishing, which has now published four of her books: two in the Seraphim Series and two in the Poughkeepsie Brotherhood Series, as well as her novella, Late Night with Andres. That one is special because 100% of the proceeds go to breast cancer research. (So go get it right now, please!) She also very much appreciates her open-minded readers, who embrace everything she has to offer, with a focus on anti-heroes and bathroom humor.

Debra lives in Maryland with her family. You can find her at and on Twitter @Debra_Anastasia. But be prepared.

My Review:

More than a year ago, it came out that Debra Anastasia was writing a sequel to Poughkeepsie. I put the tentative release date on my calendar and waited. And waited. And now, I have my own site and the privilege of reviewing this book.

Yes, I’ve been a fan for a long time. Don’t ask me how long, because I don’t remember. It goes back to the days when a cardboard piano was making a world tour.

Blake's cardboard piano


So, this is the second book in the series, and it’s not for the faint of heart. This world is gritty and stark, black, white, blood red and murky gray. There are three brothers who grew up in foster care. Beckett (the lead male in this book) is the leader and provider. He’ll do anything –even go outside the law- to protect the people he loves and ensure that they have everything they need to live successful, safe lives. Blake found his solace in music with Livia, and Cole found his in religious faith and the love of a girl named Kyle. But Beckett has no personal comforts; he’s a Mafioso, a murderer, with his fingers in a dozen illicit pies. And –sad day- he’s in love with a lady assassin who’s not quite sure whether she’d rather love him or kill him.

First, I adore the cover. It’s striking. Just thought I’d get that out of the way!

This book is gripping. The second I got my hands on the ARC, I had to start reading. I stayed up half the night, finished it, set it down, went to bed and when I got up the next day, I picked it up and read it again. The characters are all beautifully developed and the storyline is first rate. If I ever get to sit Debra down and pick her brain (and I will!), I’ll ask her how she researched it. This is a tough universe and obviously, quite foreign to my experience. For one thing, Beckett and Eve can be simultaneously tender and brutal to each other.

“These violent delights have violent ends
 And in their triumph die, like fire and powder,
 Which as they kiss consume.” (Romeo and Juliet Act 2, Scene 6)

As Father Callahan tells Kyle, God does give us more than we can handle. Life is full of trials and how we respond to those trials affects their outcome. That’s actually a comfort, because we all know that nobody’s life is easy. That’s especially true of the characters in this book. They all have difficult circumstances to endure.

Other supporting characters are fascinating. Ryan, for instance.  He’s a straight-shooting cop who’s unlucky in love. When his ex, Trish, changed all his phone contacts to highly apropos names from Fifty Shades of Gray, I did cackle. But, wow, is she vindictive. It amazes me that someone could spend that much effort on spite.

It’s good to see Mouse’s memory kept alive in this story. I like it that Livie uses the afghan that he knitted. I LOVE it that Beckett prays to Mouse (calling him his personal saint). I truly liked Mouse and Beckett’s affection and loyalty to him is pleasing.

Beckett and Eve are no fairy tale lovers. The closest comparable couple I can think of is Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Some couples love each other and yet get so frustrated that they might fantasize about beating each others’ head against the wall. Beckett and Eve? Well, they might actually do it. Their dynamic is appalling, and yet their love is so real it leaves an aftertaste.

Five stars.



The Perfect Christmas

On this day, there can be a lot of pressure to make Christmas perfect.

The Perfect Gift:












The Perfect Tree:





The Perfect Dinner:













The Perfect Family:


















And yet, our Christmases are often far from perfect and it makes us unhappy. Perhaps we need to remember the very first Christmas:
















Doesn’t look like the perfect place to have a baby, does it!


God didn’t send Jesus because we were perfect, yet we try to make everything perfect on Christmas Day.


Lost Found (Olsen)

Lost Found (Olsen)








Ironic, isn’t it?

So maybe we ought to remember the reason for the season, and forget about trying to be perfect.



imperfect cookies












And instead of fretting about presents, let’s focus on being present (maybe not with our loved ones, but with other people, animals, or in worship).




Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


Thanks for spending time with me this year. Merry Christmas!






Silly Dragon!

Christmas is almost here and I thought I would share one of my most amusing (and useful) gift ideas with you. My husband bought me Dragon Naturally Speaking 12 for my birthday, and I love it. And on the upside, it’s on sale for Christmas! Rather than typing, I can dictate text to the computer via a headset, which saves a lot of wear and tear on wrists. This would make a great gift for a writer, anyone with impaired vision or tendonitis.

That said, Dragon doesn’t always understand me, and the result can be hilarious. I don’t know whether that’s my fault for mumbling or if Dragon has a hard time understanding my Ontario accent. At any rate, I thought you’d enjoy reading some silliness and as an added bonus, you get a tiny peek at some of the characters from my current manuscript, “Mommapocalypse.”

Dragon’s interpretations are written in bold, and the correct text is in normal text. I hope you think these are as much fun as I do! If I don’t get to talk to you tomorrow,  Merry Christmas!


© Palto | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images


Paul comes through the front door and quickly sets his box down on Kyle. “You okay?”

Paul comes through the front door and quickly sets his box down on the pile. “You okay?”


Vince shrugs. “House jock?”


“Pretty good, I guess. I don’t see him a lot now. We still get along really well, but he likes to go to the clubs and vaccine isn’t for me anymore.”


Vince shrugs. “How’s Jock?”

“Pretty good, I guess. I don’t see him a lot now. We still get along really well, but he likes to go to the clubs and that scene isn’t for me anymore.”



“Just remember that there are kids involved in this picture and don’t suck sysop.”


“Just remember that there are kids involved in this picture and don’t f*** this up.”

(Yeah, author muses, and Paul shouldn’t suck sysop either. What is sysop anyway?)




Thanks to take it back off the fetuses found hurries up to Trish’s store “breakfast!”


Paul grabs the takeout bag off the seat beside him and hurries to Trish’s door. “Breakfast!”




Dani picks up her box and not just Trish with her elbow. “I would convert him, if I were you.”

Dani picks up her box and nudges Trish with her elbow. “I would convert him, if I were you.”




Gloria opens a mouse and nothing comes out.

Gloria opens her mouth and nothing comes out.


confused babyConfused_baby2












Sin starts to look Kyle all over his face. “Do not flex in like your face,” Trish instructs him. “Donkey kisses are kind of dirty.”

Finn starts to lick Kyle all over his face. “Do not let him lick your face,” Trish instructs him. “Doggy kisses are kind of dirty.”




Cover Reveal: Under These Restless Skies by Lissa Bryan

Coming soon, a new historical romance from Lissa Bryan set in the days of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Under These Restless Skies.


Will Somers has always thought himself unlovable. When he encounters a creature of myth and magic, he seizes the chance to finally have a wife and family of his own. Emma is a selkie—one of the immortal fae-folk of the sea—bound to Will by the magic of her kind, and eager to learn about life on land. She has to learn to adapt quickly to human customs, because Will is headed for the court of Henry VIII, to serve as the king’s fool. It’s a glittering, dangerous world, where a careless word can lead to the scaffold and the smallest of gestures is loaded with political implications. Anne Boleyn is charmed by Emma’s naïveté and soothing selkie magic and wants Emma for her own fool. Can Will protect his newfound love from the dangers that lurk in every shadow? Circa regna tonat: around the throne, the thunder rolls.


Release Date: February 20, 2014

And now, for the cover!


They came to the doorway of the presence
chamber. Fermor gave his name to the steward.
The man flipped through a list. “Oh, aye.
“Correct, my lord. I am come to bring His Majesty
a gift.”
“A fool, was it?”
Fermor gestured at Will. “And a fine one at
The steward did not seem impressed. “Go and come
again tomorrow. His Majesty is in a temper today.”
The king’s visit with his sister must not
have ended well. Fermor sputtered, panicking as he saw his chances slip away.


“ ’Twould seem the best time for him to be
regaled by a fool’s antics,” Will noted.
The steward stared at Will for a moment and
then gave a slight smile. “This way.” He led them through a tapestry-covered
door through the empty presence chamber. Will paused, awed by the sight of the
throne—the symbol of the king’s power—wide and heavy, gilded and jeweled, set
on a carpeted dais. Beside it was a smaller throne for the queen, and over both
were canopies bearing the coat of arms of each. The steward bowed to the empty
throne as they passed, and they copied him before continuing out into a smaller
“Tarry here,” the steward instructed. “The
king is at cards with the Lady Pembroke. You will be called to him when he is
Will’s stomach churned. He’d never felt less
amusing in his life, and his wits were logy. A horrifying thought occurred to
him. If he was unable to persuade the king to take him on, he wouldn’t be able
to keep Emma. He couldn’t take her with him if he returned to the comedy
troupe. Panic made his mind blank for a moment, and he did not hear his name
called. Fermor elbowed him, and Will stumbled to his feet and followed the
steward into a chamber.
Will didn’t have much of a chance to survey
his surroundings. He had an impression of tapestries over dark wood paneling
and the glitter of gold, but his eyes were on the floor in front of two figures
seated in x-shaped chairs. He knelt.
“Your Majesty, Lady Pembroke, if it pleases
Your Graces, I present Master Richard Fermor and Will Somers.”
“Rise,” the king said. Will stole a glance
at him and saw a large, but still muscular man with thinning reddish-blond
hair, dressed in a dark brown velvet doublet, ornamented with pearls and gold
frogs. The king had gained weight in the last few years, and to disguise it he
had widened the shoulders of his surcoats. Will had to admit the effect was
powerful. His large codpiece jutted up from the center slit of his doublet,
also meant to convey power, or at least, virility. His eyes were small, a
piercing blue-gray. Will caught a glimpse of them before he lowered his gaze to
the floor.
“So, Fermor, you have brought me a fool.”
The king’s voice was low and gruff, and he didn’t sound much interested. The
lady seated at his side wore a French hood and an initial pendant attached to
her strand of pearls, the letters “AB” twined together. She was garbed in a
dressing gown of brilliant scarlet, trimmed in ermine. It was casual raiment
only the highest nobility was entitled to wear outside their own bedchamber,
but Anne Boleyn was now royal in all but name. Just weeks ago, the king had
created her Marquess of Pembroke, the highest noble title in the land. She
patted the small dog in her lap.
“Aye, your majesty,” Fermor said. “If it
pleases Your Grace.”
“Well, fool, what can you do?”
Will was startled. He hadn’t expected the
king to speak to him. “I—I can juggle, Your Majesty,” he croaked. “I can make
jests, tumble, and sing a little.”
“Let us see it, then.”
Will’s hands trembled as he withdrew the
balls from his bag. “If it pleases Your Majesty,” he started. He straightened
his shoulders as best he could, and said in his haughtiest tone, “I, Will
Somers, am the best juggler in England.”
The king snorted and Will hoped it was from
amusement. He fell into his act, bragging about his abilities while seeming to
lose track of his juggling and keeping the balls in the air seemingly by
accident alone. He was grateful he had performed this particular act so many
times, because he thought he’d completely forgotten his lines, but they slipped
from his mouth of their own accord, and his limbs seemed to move themselves.
The king guffawed a couple of times, and he thought he heard Anne laugh at one
point. Will ended with one of the balls balanced on the tip of his nose, before
dropping it into his hands and sweeping low into a bow.


“Well done, Master Fool,” the king said, and
he seemed a bit more jovial than he had when Will first entered the room. Or
perhaps it was wishful thinking on Will’s part. “But tell me this: I have fools
already who can juggle and make jests. Why would I wish to have you at my
court? What have you to offer that they do not?”
The answer popped from Will’s mouth as
though he had rehearsed it. “Because I will do something none of your council,
lords and ladies, nor servants will do.”
The king lifted an eyebrow. “And what might
that be?”
“I will tell you the truth, Your Majesty.”
Fermor gasped. Anne burst into laughter.
“Oh, I do like him.”
The king cast an amused glance at her. “Is
that so, Master Fool? Then perhaps you are worth it, after all.”
“But you must make an oath to me,” Will
The king’s eyes narrowed a bit, but he
calmed when Anne giggled at Will’s audacity. “What?”
“You must swear it, as the word of a
Christian king.” Will’s mouth was as dry as paper and his heart thudded in his
chest, but he continued. “You must swear to me, on your honor, you will never
hold it against me when I tell you the truth.”
The king stared at Will, his mouth agape,
and then he burst into laughter. He slapped his knee and elbowed Anne, who gave
him a sharp glance at being prodded by his arm, before she laughed along with
him as a courtier trained to echo the king’s mirth.
“You have my word,” the king said, as he
accepted a perfumed handkerchief from one of his serving lords to wipe away the
tears seeping from his eyes. “Or must I write it out and put my royal seal to
“Your word is sufficient for me,” Will
“I am flattered at your trust, Master Fool,”
the king said in solemn tones and burst into guffaws once again. “Go and have
my steward find you rooms. Have you a wife?”
“I do.” Will’s mind whirled. He hadn’t
expected this, and he didn’t want Emma to live at court, but there was nothing
he could do. Refusing lodgings offered by the king would be a gross insult.
“Bring her tomorrow,” the king commanded. “I
wish to see what the wife of a fool looks like.”
“Much like every other wife in England,”
Will said, and that sent the king into laughter once more.
“Go, and come back on the morrow.” The king
waved a hand at the steward. “Find him some decent garb, and some for Milady
Fool as well.”
Will bowed deeply and followed the steward
from the room. “And for you, Fermor,” he heard the king begin before the door
was shut behind them. Will’s knees gave out and he collapsed to the floor. His
head swam in sick circles. He sat back on his heels and looked up at the
steward. “Pray, pardon,” he rasped.
The steward gave a slight smile. “You are
not the first to react in such a manner.” He held out a hand and Will stared at
it in surprise. The steward was a lord, and here he was, offering a hand to a
baseborn commoner. Will took it, and the steward helped him to his feet and
drew him near.


“If ever a man needed to hear the truth,”
the steward whispered, “ ’tis that man in there.” He drew away again, and
his manner was once more brisk and officious. “Follow me.”



Find the book on Goodreads ~ Author’s Website ~Book Website ~ Author’s Facebook ~
Author’s Twitter ~ Author’s Youtube

Review: Gabriel’s Redemption by Sylvain Reynard










From the author of the New York Times bestsellers Gabriel’s Rapture and Gabriel’s Inferno comes the epic conclusion to the captivating romantic trilogy.


Professor Gabriel Emerson has left his position at the University of Toronto to embark on a new life with his beloved Julianne. Together, he’s confident that they can face any challenge. And he’s eager to become a father.


But Julianne’s graduate program threatens Gabriel’s plans, as the pressures of being a student become all consuming. When she is given the honor of presenting an academic lecture at Oxford, Gabriel is forced to confront Julianne about the subject of her presentation—research that conflicts with his own. And in Oxford, several individuals from their past appear, including an old nemesis intent on humiliating Julia and exposing one of Gabriel’s darkest secrets.


In an effort to confront his remaining demons, Gabriel begins a quest to discover more about his biological parents, beginning a chain of events that has startling repercussions for himself, Julianne, and his hope of having a family.



Bio: I’m interested in the way literature can help us explore aspects of the human condition – particularly suffering, sex, love, faith, and redemption. My favourite stories are those in which a character takes a journey, either a physical journey to a new and exciting place, or a personal journey in which he or she learns something about himself/herself.


I’m also interested in how aesthetic elements such as art, architecture, and music can be used to tell a story or to illuminate the traits of a particular character. In my writing, I combine all of these elements with the themes of redemption, forgiveness, and the transformative power of goodness.


I try to use my platform as an author to raise awareness about the following charities: Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep Foundation, WorldVision, Alex’s Lemonade Stand, and Covenant House. For more information, see my Twitter account.


Buy Links:

Amazon Kindle

Amazon Paperback

Barnes & Nobel Nook

Barnes & Nobel Paperback

iTunes iBook

Chapters Indigo Paperback

Chapters Indigo Kobo


Social Media Accounts





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FYI, the Louboutin winner will be gifted a Neiman Marcus gift card with shipping included. All prizes are international.

Gabriel’s Redemption: My Review

I’ve been a fan of Sylvain Reynard for some years, right back to his days of fan fiction. Gabriel’s Inferno is one of my go-to reads when I want to lose myself in a heady romance with an alpha male. I own paperbacks of these books.

The content of this volume was entirely new, which I enjoyed immensely. The illustrations and quotations greatly enhanced the text and as always, I loved the references to Dante. We get familiar characters, and we get to see how previous events turned out for them. But there are a lot of new plot points that are beautifully raised and addressed. Both Gabriel and Julianne evolve a lot in this book.

There’s something unique about Gabriel Emerson and it comes across in his diction (he picked up a bit of an accent in England when he worked there. I’d like to know where he picked up his romantic nature and his tendency to wax poetic. ). He’s a learned academic and I don’t think it’s off the mark to call him an aesthete. And you know what? I’ve met not a few Canadian artistic types who greatly resemble him.

Way to go, Canada!

One of Gabriel’s tragic flaws is his condescending attitude. He’s got a touch of a superiority complex that can rub off on his relationships. I was really impressed with how that was addressed in this book.

Gabriel’s dad, Richard is pretty smart when it comes to ‘how to get along with a spouse’. This is something from which not just characters, but readers, can benefit.

For a fair portion of the book, Gabriel wasn’t having a good time dealing with his skeletons. Every experience plays on his insecurities. At one moment, he almost breaks, and I just wanted to say, “Silly Gabriel! All will be well.” But in this book, he learns how to cope, have faith in God, himself and Julianne, and practice some optimism.

This is going to be another book that I read and reread. To ice the cake, SR has a new series coming out that touches on part of this story and I can’t wait to read it.

Much thanks to Penguin Berkley and Sylvain Reynard for including me on the tour and granting me an ARC. Five stars.