Title: Stumble Stones: A Novel
Author: Marilyn Baron
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Hallelujah Weiss, writer for the steamy sudser, As the Planet Spins, gets a second chance at love when she flees to Italy to get over her recent divorce, courtesy of her cheating ex-husband’s credit card. A woman scorned, Hallelujah has sworn off men and is determined to reinvent herself. The new Hallelujah is eager to live life on the edge, more like Polly, a character she writes and idolizes.
Lonely Berlin hedge fund manager, Alexander Stone, a number cruncher who puts his faith in numerical data, still believes in destiny, despite the fact his fiancée just dumped him. Always a man with a plan, Alexander did not plan on Hallelujah.
After a chance encounter on a flight to Rome, the unlikely pair faces danger when they team up to return to their rightful owner a stash of WW II vintage jewels. The hidden diamonds hold the key to an unsolved mystery and a promise of love.
Life was better in Business Class, especially when your cheating ex-husband was paying for it. Hallelujah couldn’t wait until Lloyd got the bill—for the airline ticket, the set of top-of-the-line TUMI luggage, the fashionable, Italian-worthy wardrobe, a two-week stay at a first-class hotel in Florence, an expensive day of pampering at the hotel spa, dinner in the city’s finest restaurant, and front row seats to the Il Volo concert. It’s not like Lloyd Evans couldn’t afford it. It would hardly make a dent in the bastard’s bank account.
Her short-term plan was to spend as much of Lloyd’s money as she could before his skanky secretary/fiancée Olivia Brewster got her greedy little hands on it. Polly would be proud of me.
But she wasn’t Polly. Polly lived life on the wild side, and she had a vindictive streak. Hallie Evans was practical. She believed in playing it safe and paying her own way. But she deserved this final fling. She had scraped together the last of her savings, and she would use those funds when Lloyd’s credit card was tapped out. Then she would go back to the single life and the single paycheck and try not to dwell on how much her ex had hurt and humiliated her. But right now, Polly was in the pilot’s seat. And, from now on, she was determined to live life on the edge, just like Polly.
Settling into her roomy Magnifica seat, she signaled the Alitalia flight attendant for another amaretto sour before the plane took off. Getting properly sloshed mid-air was a strategic and recent addendum to the plan. Oh, and part of her plan was to swear off men.
Now that she was free and clear of Mr. Wrong, her long-term plan was to reinvent herself and revert back to her maiden name—Hallelujah Weiss. Lloyd was so cavalier he couldn’t be bothered to use her birth name, so he had insisted on shortening her given name, Hallelujah, which she thought was distinctive, to Hallie. Like she wasn’t worth the effort. So naturally, while Parker was conducting his affair with his secretary, he had stopped calling his wife Pollyanna and shortened it to Polly.
Hallelujah was expecting a nice settlement from her ex, but who knows what terms the lawyers would finally hammer out. She was convinced he’d hidden his assets, so her lawyer had hired an accountant to get to the bottom of that particular barrel, but she didn’t expect to get a fraction of what was coming to her. Already Lloyd had gotten custody of their condo, and she had nowhere to live at the moment.
She’d always fantasized about living in Italy. She could write soap opera scripts from anywhere in the world. Have laptop—will travel. She’d taken two weeks off from her job as a writer for As the Planet Spins to get herself together, so she was free and clear to go wherever she wanted. When would she ever get a chance like this again? Her life was a blank slate—perfect for making a clean break. She didn’t relish living on the same continent as Lloyd and Livia. Cutler’s Ridge, California, was a small community, and she couldn’t face running into the newly happy couple every time she went to the grocery store to binge on gelato to drown her sorrows. Not a pretty picture.
And speaking of pictures, when she was clearing out the condo before Lloyd and Livia returned from Paris, she accidentally helped herself to the Monet painting. Maybe running off with the Monet was a little over the top, but Lloyd had run off with Olivia, hadn’t he? Was taking the Monet legal? Probably not. Was cheating on her with his secretary legal? Who knew? Who cared? It certainly was immoral. Morality aside, the Monet was rightfully hers. Lloyd had purchased the small oil painting on canvas for her in a gallery near their hotel on their honeymoon. He didn’t appreciate fine art, and he didn’t appreciate her.
She was sophisticated, open to new possibilities. Like Pollyanna Winthrop, or Polly, the soap opera character she wrote for the long-running sudser As the Planet Spins.
Speaking of Pollyanna, the absurdly perky flight attendant was back with yet another sweet-smelling, mind-numbing cocktail. She couldn’t wait until this flight got off the ground. Flying was not one of her favorite things.
“Grazie,” said Hallelujah, slurring her Rs. She stored her Italian language book in the seat pocket in front of her, downed her second cocktail, and watched the flight attendant scurry off to fluff another passenger’s pillow before filling her drink order. This was a record for her, and it didn’t include the countless drinks she’d already put away on the transatlantic flight from California to Berlin. Only one leg of the trip to go and she’d be in Italy—her happy place.
Every time she told someone what she did for a living, they would snigger as if it weren’t a respectable profession. She had studied creative writing in college and wanted to become a serious writer, perhaps write a novel. But she needed a high-concept idea. She hoped she would find one on this trip to Italy. Now that she was on her own, she didn’t think it was wise to quit her day job.
A tall, lanky, well-dressed man in a neat goatee took the seat next to her. A tall, lanky, attractive man. Hallelujah studied the hottie surreptitiously, her gaze traversing his face. Moving past the thick black glasses framing enigmatic, steel-gray eyes, she was stopped her in her tracks by the facial hair. Normally, she wasn’t attracted to men with beards, but life after divorce was anything but normal. This man had possibilities, if he’d shave his beard. Was it too early into their relationship to suggest it? Probably. What would Polly do? She knew what Polly would do. Polly would have this man eating out of her hands before the plane reached cruising altitude.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
The Wild Rose Press https://www.thewildrosepress.com/books/stumble-stones-a-novel
Why is your featured book a must-read?
In Stumble Stones, a dark and humorous Romancing the Stones-style suspense, set in contemporary and 1940s Europe, a hidden cache of priceless diamonds holds the key to an unsolved mystery and a promise of love.
Stumble Stones: A Novel was The Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Award in the Romance category.
The novel is inspired by the real-life Stumble Stones Holocaust memorial project in Europe.
The photo above shows a copy of my book with a stumble stone taken in Berlin, courtesy of TripFiction.
Enter to win an e-book bundle of all 23 books featured in the Super Reads Bookish Event:
Runs September 22 – 27, 2020.
Winner will be drawn on October 5, 2020.
Marilyn Baron writes in a variety of genres, from women’s fiction to historical romantic thrillers and romantic suspense to paranormal/fantasy. She’s received writing awards in Single Title, Suspense Romance, Novel with Strong Romantic Elements, and Paranormal/Fantasy Romance. She was also The Finalist in the 2017 Georgia Author of the Year Awards (GAYA) in the Romance Category for her novel, Stumble Stones, and The Finalist for the 2018 GAYA Awards in the Romance category for her novel, The Alibi. Her short story, Stracciatella Gelato: Melting Time, which was released April 20, 2020, by The Wild Rose Press, is her 26th work of fiction. Marilyn is a member of Atlanta Writer’s Club, Georgia Romance Writers and Romance Writers of America. A public relations consultant in Atlanta, she is immediate past chair of the Roswell Reads Steering Committee and serves on the Atlanta Authors Series Committee. Website: www.marilynbaron.com/
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