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Please welcome today’s awesome guest, Barbara Bretton. She’s talking secrets and her new e-release, JUST DESSERTS. (If the book sounds familiar, it’s because Berkley previously published the print edition.) And after dessert…what else? A giveaway! Welcome, Barbara!

Barbara Bretton: Family Secrets and “Just Desserts”

Once upon a time, Hayley had believed that a good woman (her) could turn a bad boy (her ex) into a knight in shining armor (pure fantasy). Ten years of marriage had finally drummed the truth into her head. In the real world bad boys didn’t turn into knights in shining armor. Bad boys grew up to be even worse men and the world would be a much happier place if little girls were taught that basic fact along with their ABCs.

Hayley Maitland Goldstein knew all about how these things worked. First a girl giggled, then she sighed, and the next thing you knew she was in Vegas taking her wedding vows in front of a red-haired Elvis with an overbite. You knew you had made a bad choice when Elvis slipped you his divorce lawyer’s business card while you were still shaking the rice from your hair.

But then Finn Rafferty came into her life and everything changed.

Story ideas are everywhere. Most writers know that. A newspaper article, An overheard conversation. A hint of perfume in the air that sends your memory spiraling back to another time and place.

And sometimes you find them a little bit closer to home.

I grew up an only child. Only grandchild. Only niece … or nephew, for that matter! I lived in a world of adults and for the most part I was a very happy kid. But there was a part of me, hidden away, that longed for more family. I had a recurring dream where there would be a knock at the door and I’d open it wide to brothers and sisters and cousins I never knew existed.

Although it didn’t happen quite that way, many years later I stumbled on a family secret that turned my perception of who I was and where I came from upside down.

My grandmother was a natural born storyteller. From the time I was a little girl until the day she died when I was thirty-nine, she regaled me with stories of her English birth, her New Zealand childhood, her Upstairs/Downstairs adventures in 1920s New York City, and her two beloved husbands. I knew chapter and verse about the grandfather who died three weeks before I was born. His kindness. His love for animals. His talent for writing. I grew up believing that much of who he was lived on in me and that fact made me very happy.

Except it wasn’t true. Oh, he lived on in me but not in a biological sense because, as it turned out, my grandmother had been keeping a whopper of a secret, one that I didn’t uncover until twelve years after she died.

It turned out that Grandpa Bert wasn’t her first husband after all or my biological grandfather. Grandma had had three husbands, not two, and husband Number One was the husband whose DNA had made my existence possible.

And all I had left of him was a name (Max) and a birth place (Romania) and enough questions to overflow a 1T hard drive.

Family secrets. Where would we be without them?

When down-on-her-luck baker and single mother Hayley Maitland Goldstein meets Finn Rafferty, she has no idea that her life is about to change forever. Not only is Finn the great-guy-in-bad-boy clothing she’d always dreamed about but he holds the key to a family secret her mother has been hiding for more than thirty years. A secret that thrusts Hayley from sleepy anonymity on the Jersey Shore to paparazzi target on an international scale.

Want to know Hayley’s secret? Love stories filled with steamy romance, family secrets, and major laughs? Then pick up a copy of Just Desserts. I know you’ll love it!

Praise for “Just Desserts”

“Very few romance writers create characters as well developed and realistic as Bretton’s. Her books pull you in and don’t let you leave until the last word is read.”—Booklist (starred review)

“Once again Bretton produces a wonderful, heartwarming story full of strong emotion, humor, charming pets, delightful characters and a lovely romance. There’s also a poignant secondary romance. The way Bretton brings all this to life and pulls it all together for a satisfactory conclusion are what make her a wonderful storyteller.”   —Susan Mobley, ROMANTIC TIMES

“Good pacing and dialogue make this warm-hearted story one that readers are sure to relish. The romances have both serious and funny elements. If you like light-hearted, feel good, romantic tales, you are sure to enjoy reading JUST DESSERTS.”  —Marilyn Heyman, ROMANCE REVIEWS TODAY

“There are surprising, funny twists to this story and a lot of touching episodes to pique the emotional side. I found Barbara Bretton’s JUST DESSERTS to be highly entertaining, cleverly written and hard to put down. Being a witty and warm read, I recommend JUST DESSERTS and look forward to reading other novels by this author.” —Kay Quintin, FRESH FICTION

“If you’ve not ever read Ms. Bretton then you are in for a real treat with Just Desserts.” –Sandi, A Romance Review

“Just Desserts is a fun, romantic read. I enjoyed it and recommend it for all those who like a great story filled with humor and romance.”–Victoria Kennedy, Midwest Book Review

“JUST DESSERTS is a warm family drama filled with tender humor . . . Fans will appreciate Barbara Bretton’s invasion of South Jersey as everyone receives their JUST DESSERTS.” —Harriet Klausner, Genre Go-Round Reviews

“Ms. Bretton gives her readers an easy, yet not bland, story with wonderful, vibrant characters and wholly believable situations. You’ll want her backlist in your library, if it’s not there already.”--Amanda Killgore, Huntress’ Book Reviews

Just Desserts | Excerpt

Trish, one of the high school girls Hayley was currently mentoring, burst into the kitchen looking like she had just bumped into Justin Timberlake and then ricocheted off Johnny Depp.

“There’s two guys outside who want to see you and they’re unbelievably hot!” Trish was seventeen, the age when the arrival of any biped with a Y chromosome rated a breathless announcement. “One of them looks like a rock star from, you know, way back in the eighties.”

Ouch. She had been Trish’s age in the eighties.

“A rock star?” she asked, lifting a brow. Rock stars were in short supply in Lakeside.

“A rock star,” Trish confirmed. “And he’s wearing leather.”

There was only one reason an aging leather-clad hottie would show up at Goldy’s Bakery at three o’clock on a Wednesday afternoon and it had nothing to do with brownies, cheesecake, or bagels.

“Tell him Mr. Goldstein doesn’t live here anymore.” And that Mrs. Goldstein couldn’t be happier about it. Not even sending him his monthly share of the store’s profits dimmed her joy.

“But he didn’t ask for Mr. Goldstein. He asked for you.”

Why did that surprise her? She was the Goldstein with a bank balance, after all. It had been a while since someone had come looking for her ex but the knot in her stomach was painfully familiar. The faint stench of danger still lingered in the air. She wished she had a dollar for every angry enabler who had shown up at Goldy’s in search of the reluctant Mr. Goldstein. She’d be able to buy him out once and for all and still have money to spare.

“Then tell him I’m not here.”

“But, Mrs. G., I already told him you were.”

“Then tell him the truth,” she said. “I’m busy working on a cake that should have been finished an hour ago. I can’t spare a second.” And here she’d thought her life would settle down after Michael moved to Florida to mooch off his mother. The man’s problems had the half-life of uranium.

Trish rearranged her pretty features into an even prettier frown. “He really wants to see you, Mrs. G. Maybe—”

Hayley could feel the hot breath of the Cumberland County Association of Female Realtors on the back of her neck. She whipped out The Look, the same look every mother on the planet had down cold, aimed it in Trish’s direction, then hoped for the best.

“I’ll tell him,” Trish mumbled, then pushed through the swinging door to deliver the bad news.

The Look had stopped working on Lizzie when she was seven, but it was nice to know she still had enough maternal firepower at her command to keep her young staff in line.

She pressed her ear against the swinging door but she couldn’t make out Trish’s words, just a high apologetic string of female sounds that was followed by a male rumble. Leather Boy had a good voice, baritone, a little smoky. She couldn’t make out his words either but Trish’s answering giggle conjured up some painful memories of herself at that age.

First a girl giggled, then she sighed, and the next thing you knew she was in Vegas taking her wedding vows in front of a red-haired Elvis with an overbite. You knew you had made a bad choice when Elvis slipped you his divorce lawyer’s business card while you were still shaking the rice from your hair.

She listened closer. Trish said something girly. Leather Boy rumbled something manly. This time Rachel, her other counter girl for the week, giggled too, a sound that sent Hayley’s maternal early-warning system into overdrive.

Rachel Gomez was a serious straight-A student bound for Princeton next year on full scholarship. She needed the paycheck more than any mentoring Hayley might have provided her. Rachel had probably never giggled before in her life.

If Rachel giggled, then even Lizzie might not be immune. Fourteen was when it started, that fizzy sensation in your veins, the yearning for things you couldn’t define, the sudden realization that boys were infinitely more interesting than global warming or the fate of the humpback whale.

Fourteen was also when young girls parted company with their self-confidence and traded in their love of math and science for a date for the prom.

Sometimes she wanted to lock Lizzie away in her room with her computer, her books, and a cell phone (maybe), and not let her out again until she was twenty-one. Thirty sounded better but even fantasies had their limits. The advisor at Olympia Prep had suggested that Lizzie might be better served intellectually by skipping the rest of high school and starting college in the fall but Hayley was dead set against it. Lizzie might be brilliant when it came to science but when it came to life, she was still only fourteen.

The world could be a scary place. A mother did her best to protect her kid from fast cars, drunk drivers, broken bones, flu, the common cold, but there was nothing she could do to protect her kid from growing up. No matter what you did or how well you did it, your little girl wasn’t going to stay a little girl. Right before your eyes she was going to grow up on you anyway and all you could do was pray she didn’t follow in your foolish footsteps.

Once upon a time, Hayley had believed that a good woman (her) could turn a bad boy (her ex) into a knight in shining armor (pure fantasy). Ten years of marriage to Michael Goldstein had finally drummed the truth into her head. People didn’t change with time. They just became more of who they were to begin with.

In the real world bad boys didn’t turn into knights in shining armor. Bad boys grew up to be even worse men and the world would be a much happier place if little girls were taught that basic fact along with their ABCs.

Why didn’t women teach their young how to cope with the things that were really important instead of how to walk in their first pair of heels? Why didn’t they make a point of sitting their girl children down and telling them the truth about men instead of letting some guy in a leather jacket seduce them over a tray of black-and-white cookies?

That was one of the many reasons why she had helped institute the mentoring program at the high school. Lizzie claimed her overflow worrying needed an outlet but it went far deeper. She saw herself in those girls, insecure, struggling, hungry for love, and ready to hand over their futures to the first guy who came along.

Those idiot girls out there were like ripe fruit on a very low-hanging branch. The slightest breeze would be enough to shake them from the tree and into the waiting arms of Leather Boy or someone just like him and their entire lives would be changed forever.

Except it wasn’t going to happen on her watch. With apologies to the good real estate agents of Cumberland County, it was time to prepare for battle.

About the Author

Oh, how I hate bios! All of that deadly dull information about name (Barbara Bretton) and date of birth (June 25) and geographical data (born in New York City; lives near Princeton, NJ), marital status (many years married), and hobbies (who has time??). How do you gather up all of those dull, dry facts and turn them into something interesting?

No wonder I tell lies for a living.

I considered weaving a story for you about life on a houseboat on the French Riviera. Or maybe my years as a concubine, hidden away in a golden pleasure palace in the shimmering desert. Then I decided to do the unthinkable and tell you the truth.

When I sold my first book and my life changed forever. I sent in my manuscript on Thursday February 21, 1982 and four days later the telephone rang and I heard the amazing words, “We want to buy your book.” How I wish you could have seen me. I was standing by the kitchen door of our North Babylon house, the picture of cool sophistication, as I listened to Vivian Stephens explain the terms of the deal to me. You would have thought I’d sold a first book every single day of my life. Yes, I said. Sounds wonderful. Thank you so much for calling. I look forward to our association. That cool sophistication hung on until I hung up the phone, took a deep breath, then promptly threw up on my shoes.

I was thirty-one years old, unagented, unschooled, unfamiliar with anything to do with the business of publishing. To put it mildly, I was in shock. My husband was working in Manhattan at the time (and finishing up his degree at night) so it would be hours until I could break the news to him. This was too exciting to waste on a phone call. I wanted to see his face when I told him that my dream had finally come true — and came with a $6000 advance!

He pulled into the driveway at midnight. I was waiting in the doorway, holding a bottle of champagne and two glasses. I didn’t have to say a word. He knew right away and the look of joy and pride in his eyes warms me now, years later, long after the advance faded into memory.

A lot has happened to me in the years since that first sale. I’ve learned that this is a difficult and demanding business (it takes a tough writer to write a tender book) and that I am happiest when I am most ignorant. I’ve also learned that a good friend, a writer and pal who truly understands, is worth her weight in good reviews and royalty checks.

I fell madly in love with Skye O’Malley in early 1982 and wrote an unabashedly gushy fan letter to our beloved Bertrice Small. By the time Sunny answered, I had joined the ranks of the published and Sunny became friend and mentor, guide and confidant. She has held my hand through broken dreams, disappointments, family illnesses, and accepted my bizarre need to go underground from time to time with great affection and understanding. Over the years I’ve come to understand the difference between the writer and her work, that loving the book doesn’t guarantee that I will love the author. But what a joy it is when you discover that the author of a beloved favorite is even more wonderful and witty and wise than the characters she creates.

So this bio is for you, Sunny, for being the best of friends during the worst of times and — even more wonderful — during the good times as well.

And now for the statistics:

Barbara Bretton is the USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of more than 40 books. She currently has over ten million copies in print around the world. Her works have been translated into twelve languages in over twenty countries.

Barbara has been featured in articles in The New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Romantic Times, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Herald News, Home News, Somerset Gazette,among others, and has been interviewed by Independent Network News Television, appeared on the Susan Stamberg Show on NPR, and been featured in an interview with Charles Osgood of WCBS, among others.

Her awards include both Reviewer’s Choice and Career Achievement Awards from Romantic Times; Gold and Silver certificates from Affaire de Coeur; the RWA Region 1 Golden Leaf; and several sales awards from Bookrak. Ms. Bretton was included in a recent edition of Contemporary Authors.

Barbara loves to spend as much time as possible in Maine with her husband, walking the rocky beaches and dreaming up plots for upcoming books.

Giveaway

For a chance to win one of two Kindle Paperwhites, click here to enter via Rafflecopter!

Book Info

  • Genre: Contemporary Romance
  • Publisher: originally Berkley; this is a digital indie reprint
  • Date of Publication: print 2008; digital 2013
  • ISBN: 9781940665047
  • ASIN: B00G2EE306
  • Number of pages: approx. 320
  • Word Count: approx. 88000
  • Cover Artist: Erin Dameron-Hill
  • Smashwords     Amazon    iTunes    BN

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