Denise Devine

About Denise Devine

Denise Devine is a USA TODAY bestselling author who writes sweet romantic comedy and inspirational romance. She is currently writing two series, Forever Yours (Inspirational) and Counting Your Blessings (Christmas romantic comedy). You can visit her at www.deniseannettedevine.com.

Sneak Peek of “Lisa” – by Denise Devine

Sneak peek of Denise Devine’s newest release

Prologue

Lisa’s message in a bottle…

To Whom it may concern,

I’m an adventurous girl, who’d love to see the world, but I don’t have the money or the time.

If I met someone, though, who liked to travel for fun, he’d become a best friend of mine.

I love the mountains, the seas, the rocks and the trees, and the Cairo Museum of Antiquities.

I’ve never seen a polar bear, visited The World’s Fair, or climbed the Eiffel Tower in France.

I want to see pyramids, ride a tram atop a rainforest, and learn the Flamenco dance.

Do you like pińa coladas and strolling in the rain? Is there a special place in the world you’d love to see again?

If you’re a guy who loves to fly, or cruise on the mighty sea; then give me a shout, tell me what you’re all about, ‘cause you might be the one for me.

IslandGirl#1@…

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Chapter One

Enchanted Island, East Caribbean

The Month of July

Lisa Kaye sipped her wine and stared at the blank page in front of her, wondering how to compose a message to a man she’d never met.

The twelve women in her group, The Romantic Hearts Book Club, had chosen to spend their last night vacationing together on Enchanted Island working on a “spur-of-the-moment” project. The group had read and discussed many romance novels since the club’s inception and each woman had a favorite hero from the book of her choice, a man she would love to call her own. Lisa didn’t know who had suggested the concept, but after a spirited discussion and a couple rounds of cocktails, the group had concluded that each woman would compose a personal message to her “dream hero,” stuff it into a bottle and throw the bottle in the Caribbean. In Lisa’s opinion, the chance of anyone—much less the perfect man—finding her bottle and taking the message seriously seemed ludicrous, but everyone else had agreed to do it so she decided to go along with the plan.

After dinner, the women gathered at the poolside bar to take in the balmy air of their last evening together at the Hideaway Cove Resort. The atmosphere vibrated with the jaunty, percussion-like sounds of Reggae music played on steel drums. A small group of people played a lively game of volleyball in the adjacent pool.

Sitting at a round table for two, Lisa rested her chin on the heel of her hand and tried to come up with something clever to put in her message. The harder she tried to concentrate, the more her mind stubbornly refused to cooperate.

The young woman sitting across from her sipped a glass of Chablis, studying her. “How are you doing on your message?” The warm Caribbean breeze ruffled a few wisps of hair from Clair’s French braid. Her dark locks contrasted against her magenta sundress. “Are you making any progress?”

Lisa slid the blank paper toward Clair and sighed. “I can’t even get started. How are you coming along with yours?”

“I need to work on mine, but I’m not putting a lot of effort into it. I don’t see the point in writing a message to a complete stranger when I already have a dream hero back at home.” Clair’s fine brows drew together in annoyance as she leaned closer. “If you ask me, the idea is pretty silly.”

Lisa nodded. “It’s risky, too. What if the wrong person finds my bottle and begins to stalk me on line?”

Clair’s brown eyes widened with an incredulous stare. “You’re not going to put your personal email address on it, are you?”

Lisa shook her head. “No way, I’ve created a new one specifically for this purpose and I’m not using my real name. If anyone replies, I’ll know the person has the bottle.”

“I did the same thing,” Clair replied. “I don’t want anyone getting hold of my personal information.” She slid the sheet of paper back to Lisa. “Think of your ideal man and write to him.”

Lisa chuckled. “As a kid, I had a crush on Indiana Jones. I used to run around the house wearing my dad’s Fedora with a brown vest and carrying a makeshift whip, pretending that Indy and I were exploring the treasures of the world together. I’ve read quite a few books with that type of character and I’ve loved them all.” She doodled on the paper, drawing a crude outline of a small treasure map. “Sometimes I wish I’d pursued a degree in archaeology instead of business administration. Maybe I’d be doing something more exciting with my life now, instead of supervising the Personal Lines Department of an insurance agency.”

Clair grabbed a business card off another table and flipped it over to the blank side. “I’ll use this to write my message. Do you have a pen I could borrow?”

She handed Clair a pen and went back to work, racking her brain to come up with something suitable.

After twenty minutes, another glass of wine and three sheets of paper, Lisa showed her message to Clair. “It sounds more like a Dr. Seuss book than a memo to Mr. Right, but that’s the best I can do.”

Clair picked up the sheet and scanned the words. “It’s cute. And totally you. I like it.” She slid it back across the table. “What are you using for a bottle?”

“Gosh, I forgot to get one.” Lisa began to fold the paper into a narrow strip. “I wonder if I can get something from the bar.”

But when she went to the bar and asked for a bottle to use, the bartender refused, warning her that the resort forbade throwing any trash into the bay.

A couple days ago, on a shopping trip through the island’s historic downtown area, she’d purchased an antique bottle from a small curio shop, but she certainly didn’t want to use that one. The cobalt bottle had attracted her, embossed with “Owl Drug Company” and a figure of an owl sitting upon a mortar with one claw clutching the pestle. The shopkeeper had remarked that he came by it after a local resident had fished it out of the bay. She had planned to use it for a vase and hated the thought of throwing it back in there!

Unless I don’t actually toss it—just make it look like I threw it…

The early evening sun dipped low in the sky, hanging over the endless horizon of the Caribbean like a crimson ball of fire. The twelve women laughed and talked as they walked through a grove of palms in an undeveloped area next to the resort. Tara and Meg led the way along the well-trodden trail to a remote strip of shoreline, far enough from the resort so no one in the area could see them tossing their bottles into the water. Jenny and Faith were next in line. They vowed to organize another group getaway and smacked their palms together in agreement. Behind them, Nina and Hope joined in, laughing as they offered a few suggestions.

Lisa and Clair hung back, trailing the group so they could chat.

“Ouch! Wait a minute.” Clair stopped and pulled off one of her silver flip-flops to remove a tiny fragment of coral stuck in the ball of her foot. She looked up. “Are you leaving tomorrow with us or are you staying on to visit with your aunt?”

“I came a few days early and spent time with her,” Lisa said as they stood on the sandy trail. “She wants me to move here permanently to take over her bed and breakfast hotel.”

Her Aunt Elsie Dubois lived in a large white house with blue trim on the edge of the island’s business district. Lisa had poignant childhood memories of time spent here, roaming the cobblestone streets of “old town” Morganville and playing on the beaches with her cousins. The thought of living here permanently tugged at her heartstrings, but…

“Are you serious?” Clair slipped her flip-flop back on and resumed walking. “That sounds like a dream come true! Are you considering it?”

Lisa sighed with regret, knowing an opportunity like that would never come along again. “I’d love to accept the offer, but I have too many obligations back home to just drop everything and move here.” She leaned close to Clair to keep their conversation private. “I love this island, but I need to go home. The last time I talked to Rob on the phone he said he had something important to tell me and I need to find out what it is.” She didn’t know what Rob wanted to discuss because he wouldn’t elaborate. The more she thought about it, however, the more uneasy she became. Ever since he had started a new job several months ago, they’d been seeing less and less of each other. Rob always blamed it on his workload. Over time, his excuses had worn her patience, causing her to wonder if they were right for each other.

Clair gave her a brief, knowing smile. “I’ve had a great time here, but I’m getting a little antsy to get home, too.”

Though she didn’t say any more, Lisa understood that Clair missed the “hero” in her life and wanted to see him again.

They walked out of the palm grove and along the rocky shore until they reached an area that looked suitable to toss their bottles.

“Okay, everyone,” Tara said as the group lined up. “On the count of three, throw ‘em in.”

Clair shook her head and mumbled, “Here goes nothing.”

Lisa drew the small blue bottle from her purse that held her message. She stood poised to throw it, but intended to merely go through the motion then quickly slip it back into her purse before anyone noticed.

“One…two…three!”

An assortment of glass in a blend of colors, sizes and shapes flew through the air and dropped into the sea in a succession of loud plunks and splashes. Lisa clutched her bottle and swung her arm, but the bottle had something slippery on it and the oily liquid squished through her fingers. The cap on the sunscreen lotion she carried in her purse must have loosened and leaked all over everything. Darn! The bottle suddenly flew from her hand and sailed through the air like a missile then disappeared into the water, leaving only a circular wave of ripples in its wake.

Shocked, she stared across the surface of the aqua water, disappointed that she would never see that cute little bottle again.

“Lisa” is available on Kindle or Kindle Unlimited

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B071F9P1W7

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Grab your beach hat and a towel and prepare for a brand-new series brought to you by twelve New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors…

Beach Brides! Fun in the summer sun!

Twelve heartwarming, sweet novellas linked by a unifying theme. You’ll want to read each one!

https://www.amazon.com/Beach-Brides/e/B071HW8F9H

BEACH BRIDES SERIES (Lisa)

Twelve friends from the online group, Romantic Hearts Book Club, decide to finally meet in person during a destination vacation to beautiful Enchanted Island. While of different ages and stages in life, these ladies have two things in common: 1) they’re diehard romantics, and 2) they’ve been let down by love. As a wildly silly dare during her last night on the island, each heroine decides to stuff a note in a bottle addressed to her “dream hero” and cast it out to sea! Sending a message in a bottle can’t be any crazier than online or cell phone dating, or posting personal ads! And, who knows? One of these mysterious missives might actually lead to love…

Join Meg, Tara, Nina, Clair, Jenny, Lisa, Hope, Kim, Rose, Lily, Faith and Amy as they embark on the challenge of a lifetime: risking their hearts to accomplish their dreams.

This is Lisa’s story…

When Lisa Kaye loses her job and her boyfriend, she returns to Enchanted Island, the idyllic place of her childhood, and finds true love through a message in a bottle.

Meet all of the Beach Brides!

Meg (Julie Jarnagin)

Tara (Ginny Baird)

Nina (Stacey Joy Netzel)

Clair (Grace Greene)

Jenny (Melissa McClone)

Lisa (Denise Devine)

Hope (Aileen Fish)

Kim (Magdalena Scott)

Rose (Shanna Hatfield)

Lily (Ciara Knight)

Faith (Helen Scott Taylor)

Amy (Raine English)

Beach Brides Series Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beach-Brides/e/B071HW8F9H

 

Easy Cheesy Baked Rigatoni by Denise Devine

easy-cheesy-baked-rigatoni1 box (16 oz) rigatoni
1 jar spaghetti sauce (any of the cheese-added variety)
½ ring of sausage (such as Hillshire, etc.)
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1 soup can of milk
1 cup sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese (parmesan or mozzarella)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Cook rigatoni in a large saucepan, drain and pour immediately into a lasagna pan.

Pour spaghetti sauce, soup, milk and sour cream into large saucepan and heat, stirring occasionally. In the meantime, thinly slice sausage and add to mixture. When sauce is smooth and bubbly, pour over rigatoni noodles, top with shredded cheese and bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted and pan is bubbling.

Let sit for 10 minutes then serve.

As always, any recipe can be modified to your tastes. Feel free to experiment!

Note:  This recipe makes a lot of sauce, but trust me, it’s not too much. Rigatoni absorbs a lot of moisture when baked and this casserole (or hot dish, as we call it in Minnesota) will come out of the oven very creamy, but that is what makes it so good. As it begins to cool, it will thicken.

So This is Christmas by Denise Devine – From the Love, Christmas Boxed Set #mgtab #holidayromance

so-this-is-christmas_denise-devineSo This is Christmas is one of the twenty stories included the Love, Christmas boxed set.

I picked the title So This is Christmas, by John Lennon, because I have always loved this song. The passionate lyrics and melancholy tone is reflective of the man himself. Listening to words, I get the feeling he’s pouring his innermost thoughts on the paper as he writes. It’s Christmas, another year has ended and you’re about to start another one. So, what have you done in the past year? Have you accomplished anything worthwhile?

The main character in my story, Annabelle Lee, does a bit of reflecting on the past herself. She’s given up everything to build her photography business and it’s going well, but lately she has begun to wonder if it was really worth the sacrifice. Her annual Christmas weekend with her best friends—the girls she’s known most of her life—is coming up, so she decides to arrive at the cabin a few days early to relax in front of a crackling fire, sip wine and contemplate her future. When she arrives, however, things don’t turn out the way she has planned.

But, then, do they ever?

Annabelle Lee—She’s looking forward to a weekend of catching up, munching cookies and enjoying Christmas cheer with her childhood girlfriends. She hasn’t had a vacation since this time last year and desperately needs the time off. Her business has taken a toll on her life, leaving her exhausted and questioning the price of success. She arrives early at Ellie Stone’s family cabin to relax and decide the direction of her future, but to her dismay, she’s not alone. Ellie’s twin brother is also there and declares he isn’t leaving until Friday.

Christopher Stone—He’s the boy who mercilessly teased her when they were kids. He’s grown into a handsome man with a career in professional baseball and a pop-star girlfriend. He appears to have an idyllic life, but the longer they talk, the more Annabelle suspects his love life isn’t as perfect as he claims. She can’t deny her attraction to him and knows he’s attracted to her as well.

Best Friends Forever—Will this week proceed like old times or turn out to be the beginning of a new chapter in her life?

~     ~     ~     ~

So this is Christmas is one of the twenty stories in the Love, Christmas boxed set. It’s on pre-order now at only 99 cents. It goes live on Tuesday, October 18th so reserve your copy now!

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Nook

Kobo

iTunes

 

Hey, there! We’re having a Facebook party on October 17-18 (1 pm to 6 pm EST) to celebrate the launch of Love, Christmas, and you’re invited! Two fun-filled days of appearances by all of the Love, Christmas authors, games and lots of prizes. Come and join us, and bring a friend!

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See you at the party!

Chapter One – 2016 Love Christmas Collection – So This is Christmas – by Denise Devine #mgtab

 

So This is Christmas_Denise Devine

Chapter 1

Monday, December 10th

Winter in Minnesota didn’t rate high on my list of seasons, but I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas anywhere else. The pristine snow, the crisp, fresh air and the rainbow-colored lights decorating snow-covered roofs reminded me of a Hallmark movie. I loved shopping at the Mall of America for gifts and watching the Holidazzle electric light parade in downtown Minneapolis, but my favorite event always happened on the second weekend in December. That’s when I met up with my best friends for three days of good wine, more food than we could ever eat and lots and lots of laughter. We’d grown up in the same northeast Minneapolis neighborhood—Ellie, Jeanette, Ginny, Sarah and me—and through the years, were inseparable until our careers took us in different directions. Now that we’d hit our mid-thirties, it had become more difficult than ever to schedule a “girls only” weekend, but we’d made it a priority.

We always spent the weekend at Ellie Stone’s family cabin in Breezy Point, Minnesota. Frankly, I didn’t know why they called it a cabin. The multi-level monstrosity had six bedrooms, four baths, a den, two kitchens and two living rooms. In the lower kitchen, the Stone family cooked all their meals. The upper kitchen, the one with the beautiful view of Gull Lake, they used to stock all their booze.

I decided to drive up to Breezy Point a few days early this year. Ellie’s family had always considered me “one of the bunch” and had no problem with my coming up ahead of time. I needed to take a break from my photography business, something I hadn’t allowed myself to do for a long time. Lately, though, I’d begun to question the price of success. I had a thriving business, but the toll it placed on my life was slowly burning me out. The thought of spending four days alone in that big house with nothing to do but sip wine in front of a crackling fire would be good for me; it would also force me to give some serious thought to the dismal state of my love life.

I arrived at the house around noon. Driving up the snow-covered alley, I pulled into the back and parked in the driveway in front of the tuck-under garage. Thankfully, someone had cleared away the snow and shoveled the sidewalks. I slid out of the car and drew in a deep breath of fresh air, taking a much-needed stretch from the two-hour drive from Minneapolis. Even though the sun shone brightly in a clear blue sky, the temperature hovered around twenty degrees. Anxious to get out of the cold, I grabbed my bag and the tote containing my four-week-old kitten and bounded up the cement stairway. The Stone family always hid a spare key under the planter next to the back door. I let myself in through the screen porch to the lower level kitchen and living room.

The tote with my sleeping kitten fit on the seat of the rocking chair. The rest of my gear landed on the sofa in front of the fireplace before I dumped my coat and made my way to the bathroom. I turned on the water in the tub and stripped down to my undergarments. A nice hot bath sounded like the perfect way to kick off my vacation.

Suddenly, a loud thumping noise echoed from inside a room across the hallway. My heart slammed into overdrive as a frightening thought raced through my head.

Is there someone else in this house?

No time to get dressed—I grabbed the fuzzy robe hanging on the back of the door and wrapped it around myself then peeked through a narrow crack in the opening. I didn’t see anyone in the living room but finding the immediate area empty didn’t bolster my courage. I needed to call 9-1-1 and my phone lay tucked in my purse across the room.

Now what do I do? No way can I lock myself in here and hope the intruder just goes away.

My brilliant, lightning fast mind said, “Get the phone. Run. Now.”

Slowly, I opened the door and crept out, hoping the rushing water from the bathtub faucet made enough noise to mask my footsteps. I scurried over to my purse and snatched the phone then made a beeline back to the bathroom. Got the door open and almost made it inside when a large hand gripped my shoulder.

“A-h-h-h-h-h!” The shrill scream shot out of me so fast I hardly knew I’d opened my mouth. My body shuddered and the phone went flying as the strong hand pivoted me, bringing me face to face with my aggressor.

My breath caught in my throat as the fear gripping me transformed into jaw-clenching anger.

Christopher Stone! You scared me half to death! What are you doing sneaking around the house?”

I hadn’t spoken to him since twelfth grade, but the gap in time did nothing to cool my foaming-at-the-mouth resentment of the kid who’d spent the entirety of his youth teasing me.

Ellie’s twin brother stood before me wearing nothing but a pair of skin-tight jeans, barely zipped with the top snap gaping open. I’d seen him wearing less at the beach, but even his favorite chino shorts had never looked this good on him. Before I knew it, my gaze quickly traveled from his slim waist to the width of his broad shoulders and smooth, muscular chest. Embarrassed by my obvious curiosity, I looked away. This body did not match the scrawny kid I used to wrangle with growing up. When did all this happen? I mean, I knew most ball players worked out to gain strength and boost their power to hit a baseball for a living. I’d watched Chris on television and on the big screen at the ballpark, but I never imagined him looking this good up close…

He didn’t seem to care about his half-naked appearance as he yawned and ran a hand through his tousled dark hair. “I wasn’t sneaking around,” he said in a smooth, deep voice. “I was sleeping. You woke me up.”

I glared at him to mask the sudden flutter in my stomach. “Are you—are you alone?”

“W-h-a-a-a…of course, I’m alone.”

I stared boldly into his deep blue eyes. “What are you doing here?”

He shrugged. “What I always do when I need to get away from the crowds—I crash. What are you doing here?”

“This weekend is our annual Christmas get-together,” I said matter-of-factly and raised one brow to let him know he’d better crash somewhere else.

He frowned. “Aren’t you a little early? It’s only Monday.”

“No, I volunteered to do the housecleaning and put up the decorations so the place would look great when the girls arrive,” I said lying through my teeth. He didn’t need to know my real plans.

“Okay, great.” He sounded amused as he leaned over and picked up my phone. “I thought for a minute there you were trying to get rid of me.”

My patience wore thin. “Look, Chris, you’re going to be in the way. Don’t you have to get back to the cities to get ready for a hot date with your girlfriend or something?” Whoever she is this week…

He didn’t rise to the bait, but I noticed a muscle twitch in his cheek, as though the whole “date” situation didn’t set well with him. It didn’t surprise me considering the high-profile women he chased—Hollywood starlets, models and pop singers—Queen Bee Central. He changed girlfriends with the same frequency most men took their shirts to the laundry. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, but just the same…

“Tell you what, I’ll stay in my room while you vacuum and do whatever it is you need to do.” His eyes flashed when I shook my head. “What’s your problem?”

“It’s not what, it’s who.” I took my phone from his hand. “I’m not in the mood to spend the next four days dodging a guy who likes to play practical jokes on me. You know, like throwing water balloons, unscrewing the top off the salt and pepper shakers, flipping my glass of soda upside down on the table, hiding a whoopee cushion under a blanket on my chair,” and his crowning achievement, “putting a live snake down my shirt?”

He burst out laughing. “Are you still mad about that? I did those things when we were kids.”

The fact that he still thought them funny still made me mad and I didn’t trust him one bit. “Yes,” I said in my snippiest voice, “and I’m soooo not in the mood for any of your antics this week.”

“I’ll be good.” He held up both hands. “I won’t cause an ounce of trouble. I promise.” His gaze suddenly dropped to the front of my body and his eyes widened. “Uh, but I can’t say the same for you.”

I looked down and found my robe gaping open, my pink with black polka dot Victoria’s Secret undies in full view. “A-h-h-h-h-h!” My scream this time had more to do with frustration than fright. I jerked my robe shut and stormed into the bathroom, determined not to give my childhood nemesis the satisfaction of seeing my face turn crimson like he had so often in the past.

His triumphant laughter propelled me all the way.

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