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Loretta Jackson & Vickie Britton
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When Elaine Sands auditions as a singer for the Wind River Band, her wildest dreams seem to be coming true. But soon it is clear that someone is out to ruin her success. During her first night on stage, Elaine barely escapes receiving a fatal electrical shock. Threatening phone calls suggest she has become the target of some obsessed fan. Yet Elaine notes undercurrents of resentment directed at Rex Tobin, handsome singer and part owner of Craft Music Productions. Rex, not Elaine, might be the actual target. Elaine is shattered when she finds out Rex has a reason to want her out of the way—and may have hired her for the sole purpose of staging her death. What started out as a once-in-a-lifetime adventure suddenly becomes a tour of fear.
Amid the buzz of excited talk and laughter, Elaine waited tensely for the audition to continue. She felt a thrill of excitement as the man in charge strode center-stage to survey the crowd.
Again, she marveled at how striking the famous country singer of the Wind River Band appeared in person. Rex Tobin's muscular build in Western shirt, well-fitting denims and dark boots, gave him a natural, unaffected appearance.
Coal black hair, thick and ruffled, added an appealing element of ruggedness the magazines and even TV cameras had failed to capture. For an instant his piercing blue eyes locked on Elaine and she felt a catch in her breath.
Rex Tobin's lingering gaze, the reassuring warmth of his smile, seemed momentarily just for her. Was he about to call her name? Elaine's stomach tied in knots as she waited. “Next on the list,” he said, “Derrick Klein.”
Feeling dizzy with relief, Elaine glanced toward her companion. Everyone always thought of them as a pair, although Derrick and she considered themselves only friends. When Derrick had learned about today's auditions at Craft Music Productions, of course he had wanted to try out too. She watched as Derrick made his slow, easy way toward the stage.
With languid confidence, he paused to smooth his hair. His shoulders hunched as he leaned his tall frame closer to the microphone. His voice carried a ring of nonchalance that Elaine had always before considered appealing. As she listened now, she wasn't so sure.
Elaine tried to take her mind off the fact that she would probably be next, wondering for the thousandth time at her friend's apparent lack of nervousness. She knew that, when her turn came, she would stand on stage feeling as though her body were held together by tightly stretched wires. But she wouldn't think of that now.
She concentrated, instead, on Derrick. Usually she admired his abundant ease, but today this characteristic seemed twice magnified, and instead of working in his favor seemed to mark him as an amateur. Elaine knew she didn't even qualify for that label. She had almost no experience singing before an audience!
Her father's death, three months ago, had brought chaos and financial ruin to her. Although she was a songwriter, not a singer, the stacks of medical bills, the pressure of increasing debt, had prompted her to sign up for the audition.
Derrick's second selection had ended. He smiled, ducked his head lazily, and left the microphone. Elaine stole a glance at Rex Tobin, who now stood on the outskirts of the stage next to a distinguished man with silver hair. She thought she read some negative decision in his smoky blue eyes before he glanced at the paper in his hand and called out, “Elaine Sands.”
Elaine rose; so tense she was unable to even smile in answer to Derrick's wink as he passed her. Panic suddenly seized her. What was she doing here? She belonged back at the desk in her room, content to work alone, unnoticed, lost in notes and verses. To calm her nervousness, she took a deep breath. She would give this her best try. After all, she was the daughter of the great writer and singer, S.S. Sands.
“I would like to do one of my own songs,” she said into the microphone.
She turned anxiously to the three backup musicians up on the stage who, with instruments ready, waited.
“I am changing the order of the numbers I gave you, if you don't mind. I want to do the second selection first.”
The youngest band member had begun tuning his guitar and the man beside him, a tall, brawny red-head, gave no acknowledgement that they had even heard her. But the third musician, a big, middle-aged man, who played the steel guitar, smiled and nodded.
“I like that one best, too.”
His fingers moved expertly over the strings as he spoke.
"BITTER MELODY has all the right ingredients for a chart-topping novel. Elaine comes across as a vulnerable woman, learning how to stand on her own two feet, and that makes her a character you can identify with. Rex is a tough-nosed businessman with a sensitive side that he has no qualms about showing to the woman he loves. Throw in a disgruntled band member and a couple of ex-flames, and you’ve got a story with some surprising twists and turns in the plot. BITTER MELODY is a sweet story with a suspenseful edge that will tug at your heartstrings long after you finish the last page." Reviewed by Tracy Atencio, Romantic Interludes
"BITTER MELODY is a story by Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton about Elaine Sands and Rex Tobin. Elaine Sands is used to being in the background but circumstances lead her to accept a position as a singer with Rex Tobin. Fighting attraction and for her life, Elaine is brought into a world where the glitter of fame is as sharp as the knife of betrayal. Not knowing whom to trust, Elaine sees everyone as a suspect. As the concerts continue from town to town, so do the unexplained accidents. Ms. Jackson and Ms. Britton expertly weave mystery with a blend of romance. The secondary characters were witty and kept the story going. Trying to figure out who the culprit behind all the ominous accidents and threats is a brainteaser. Up until the end I never guessed. The final revelation was satisfying and unexpected.
I would recommend Bitter Melody to any reader who enjoys a good mystery with that dash of romance." - Reviewed by M. Jeffers
Book Publisher: Whiskey Creek Press
No. of Pages: 184
Paper Weight (lb): 8.0
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