Zero Balance

Zero Balance

Author: Ashley Fontaine


Defiled, attached, spirit mutilated, raped: Audra would never be the same. A young CPT devoted to her job and about to be promoted to minority partner of an accounting firm, but at what cost. Dedication at what price and at your own risk? Managing partner Olin Kemper had his own agenda in mind when meeting with Audra. The end result a blood-riddled body covered in black and blues, bruises, torn and tattered clothing and an inner being, soul forever raped as well. Winscott and Associates had its own form of sorority or fraternity initiation held in their own backroom. Silence is often golden. Rewards are pricy and others will come back at you and the payment quite dear. Audra will bide her time, make her move just when things fall right into place. Accountable to None is about one young girls journey back into life and how she will make those responsible for what happened Accountable to All. Zero Balance picks up where Accountable to None ended with Audra’s rise to the top of the company. Five years later Audra would serve what they deserve and if I were you I would not want to be invited to this party. Revenge is great when you know how to orchestrate your plan and take down those that deserve your wrath. There were many that worked in the accounting firm that she now runs who crossed her one who raped her and others who went along with what Olin Kemper did. Recounting her life before all of this happened, where she was now Audra Tanner would execute the rest of her plan. Recounting her life, what happened to her as a child, her parents, losing a child the author reminds the reader of why she enacted the revenge on those working in accounting firm. Where will she go from here and what will happen when the balance of the scale tips in another direction and just what is that Zero Balance?


Crushing dreams that are vivid and do not allow her to sleep or rest though the night even though Olin is in prison the past seems to becoming back into her present. Business prospects falling through, clients leaving and going with other firms and only one other person stepping up to plate to try and rebuild what was once a thriving accounting firm. The author reminds the reader of what Audra’s past was like and for those who did not read Accountable to None you will learn about her life before she took over this company, her wronged relationships, her fall out with her family and the loss of her child.


The author continues with the first character named Piper who seems to have a vendetta to carry but first she needs to get what one unsuspecting doctor has that will help her carry out her plan. Pretending to be a reporter for a new start up magazine called Reptiles Today our elusive “Piper,” lures her way into the office of Dr. Moore whose primary goal in life is to create anti-venom for anyone bitten by a poisonous snake. Armed with several syringes and one filled with Ambien she manages to enter his office, fill his coffee cup when she feigns felling sick and knocks the poor man out. Removing several vials was easy deciding to make sure he never woke up her revenge. Not because he did anything to her but because he reminded her of someone else that was cruel to her and brought back memories of that she chose to forget so breaking the glass on the cages of the venomous snakes not really a hard choice as she leaves the same way she came unnoticed. But, our mystery killer is not done yet as her next victim is Robert. Robert Fulton had to die. He was the next victim of this avenger. Anyone who came in the direct path of convicting Olin and making sure he stayed in prison would have to be eliminated. Robert’s body was found but the connection to the doctor’s death would be made in a unique and unexpected way. Next victim was Audra’s assistant who thought she was meeting with someone from the Castle where she hoped she was going to have her wedding. Instead just like the doctor she was duped by our delusional killer and eliminated. The killer did not waste any time and the victims never thought to check her credentials. The doctor glad to have someone doing a story on his research and Gabrielle hoping to sign a contract for her wedding. Next, we hear from our killer in jail Olin who has plans of his own for our Piper and who recounts how she became and equity partner and her husband’s relationship with Ralph.  Blackmail goes a long way and suicide made it easier. Piper is crazy and thinks that by eliminating everyone in Olin’s way she will have him for herself. Just why Ralph killed himself with a little help from Olin you have to read for yourself because an incriminating tape left in Nick’s car would explain it all.


Audra gets a call from Gabby’s future husband and does not realize that she is the killer’s next victim. Thinking she may have cold feet about her marriage she shrugs off the call and tells Jeff where she was planning to go and with who. But, Steve Ronson, Audra’s detective boyfriend would get a call from a prison guard that would change the complexion of the investigation and hopefully lead them to the murderer. Remembering something about Dr. Moore’s death helps Steve learn more about Robert’s. Lies, betrayals and deceits and one dangerous killer whose venom is more deadly than the poison she stole from the doctor, the snakes that bit him to death and the lethal dose she gave Robert.


Author Ashley Fontaine goes inside the mind of a serial killer who feels justified to kill for love and the mind of one man who feels wronged and cannot believe he has to pay for a murder over 30 years old. Each character’s motives, reasons, justifications and thoughts are told to the reader as he/she commits the acts they feel are justified on those that wronged them. At times the killer or another character or flashback adding to the suspense of the novel and the dramatic and frightening conclusion that you will never expect interrupts these thoughts. The author reveals to the reader the links among the many characters, the tormented mind of Piper and her rationale for what she did. But, was she alone and who was really behind the killings, the revenge and the final outcome for so many. Audra learns that her assistant Gabrielle is missing and the end result not only endangers someone close to Audra but others too. The lies, betrayals, murders, revenge and cast of characters that are so intertwined and the end result you just won’t believe. As Steve learns that Audra is in trouble and the truth behind who really wants everyone dead, include Audra is revealed you will learn that not everything and everyone is what they appear to be. You will learn that sometimes those that are good follow a different path to take care of the evil and the bad. Snake venom, poisonous personalities and a group of people that needed to reduce the balance and the books to ZERO before all is said and done. But, there is much more as the ending will leave you wondering what is next for some of our characters and what will happen when the final chapter is written. Once again author Ashley Fontaine pens a novel so intricate, so tense and so spellbinding that once you start reading you won’t stop until you find out who takes the final blow.


Fran Lewis: reviewer









One Book in the Grave

One Book in the Grave

Author: Kate Carlisle




Brooklyn Wainwright loves books. Her job as a bookbinder is more than just challenging to her it excites her. When summoned to the Covington Library to see her close friend and curator Ian McCullough a rare and special edition of a book she thought lost forever is replaced in her hands. Max Adams was a handsome and charismatic man whose goal in life was to create different types of paper for books. Max loved what he did and had many followers including Brooklyn and her many friends. Max loved books and when getting engaged to a woman named Emily Brooklyn decides to present them with a special gift of a first edition of Beauty and the Beast. To many these might sound trite and not an appropriate gift but to Max it meant the world. Thinking of himself as the ultimate Beast to Emily’s beauty he endorsed the book in his special way and presented it to her as a special gift. Emily was never seen without the book, which she held close to her heart. What does this have to do with the present and Brooklyn’s meeting with Ian? Ian requested her presence to rebind this very book that she thought stolen. Learning the history behind it and knowing where he purchased it and from whom, Brooklyn literally bursts his bubble when she relates the story and that the book was once really hers. Needless to say Ian is quite upset and wants to find out more about the origin of the sale from his seller. Brooklyn is aiming to learn that for herself as she leaves Ian to find the man who sold him this rare first edition. But, what she finds when she arrives is anything but what she hoped for. What happens when she enters the office of the man and finds him stabbed to death? Joseph Taylor lied on his Persian Carpet dead. Eyes starring up at her and throat slit. But, Brooklyn is not one to take things lightly and when she realizes the killer just might be in the same room with her she investigates to learn more. Returning to the crime scene, calling the police and waiting for them to arrive she investigates even further and finds the murder weapon. Calling herself, “ The Angel of Death,” seems apropos as dead bodies seem to follow her.


Getting caught up in the murder scene and realizing she has a similar knife she decides to call her love interest Derek Stone. Derek owns Stone Security dealing in protecting art objects, valuables and anything that requires safekeeping. Joe is a bookstore owner and found dead in his antiquarian room. When Inspector Janice Lee arrives words are exchanges, daggers fly between them, remarks are shared and one homicide detective is anything but thrilled to see Brooklyn. But, the event heats up even more when it becomes personal. Brooklyn and Derek are about to leave the crime scene and Joe’s office when they realize the tires on Brooklyn’s car have been slashed. Even more telling is the weapon or knife used to slash the tires inscribed with the name Max giving her and the detective more than an eerie feeling that someone is sending a message from the great beyond. Just what that message is and who is sending it remains within the binding of a rare book. Realizing that she might need some support and guidance she and Derek head for her family’s home or commune hoping to see Guru Bob and get some insight on the events and how to proceed. Learning more about Guru Bob and his insight about why Brooklyn seems to be a dead body magnet is quite startling to say the least. Understanding the rationale behind what he says interesting to say the least. As he states that the dead just might be pulling towards her in order to find justice. Feeling like she is part of an Agatha Christie murder mystery what she learns next will really change everything as Guru Bob reveals that Max is alive. What follows is definitely not what you would expect in a supposedly serene environment. Everyone reacting at once, truths told and the reason Max staged his own death, where he might be and why. The next step would be to go to the safe house where Max is hiding and learn more. Using the book, Beauty and the Beast as Brooklyn states as the catalyst they hope to find out who is behind Joe’s death, why Brooklyn is being targeted and if any other bodies are waiting to be found.

Told in the first person narrative in Brooklyn’s own voice you learn her inner most thoughts, how she sees the investigation going and what her feelings are toward each character and her reactions to every incident related. Ten years ago, Max Adams fell in love with Emily, gave her the copy of this rare book as a symbol of his love. But, when he died in car crash Brooklyn was distraught so why did he fake it? Who does she suspect and will she return the book to Emily? With characters so unique, colorful and definitely out of the ordinary Brooklyn needs to find the answers before she becomes one of the bodies. Just how this murder might be linked to Max’s disappearance still remains to be seen.


Learning the truth about Max and his death sparked the three friends into action to learn just why he faked his death and who might have been behind the attempts on his life. Max’s ex- girlfriend, Angelica who has a strange way of showing her affection and an ex- boss named Solomon who is not quite normal either. Both seem to want to taunt Max in different ways but which one is more deadly and why? With help from his friends from the Dharma Max hopes to find out who is taking shots at him, how they knew where he was hiding out and just what the connection is to his friend Brooklyn? With her inquisitive and eager mother, a father who had a hand in Max’s disappearance and a whole lot of colorful and quirky friends Brooklyn, Derek and Gabriel hope they can solve the murder of the bookstore owner and much more before her not so favorite police detective is back on the scene.


Our bibliophile or lover of rare books will not give up until she gets the answers she wants but who will be next, who is at risk just being near her? What is really unique about this book is the author’s inclusion of the bookbinding process where Brooklyn describes how she is going to restore the first edition of Beauty and the Beast and several others that she has received the commission. It is a tedious and precise process that is described and adds to the character’s credibility as a bookbinder and allows the reader to understand the character even more.


When the team realizes that Max is in even more danger and another warning is left, Brooklyn decides to have him stay with her in order to keep him safe. But, will it? Where is Emily and why did she take a leave of absence from her job and just what happened to Angelica? Well! How about a special delivery to Brooklyn of the dead kind? Just what was delivered and who was sent COD: Dead on Delivery I won’t tell. You have to read the book to find out for yourself and just what happens when Emily shows up? Added to the mix is one lunatic named Minka who hates Brooklyn, wants her share of her commissions and shows up unexpectedly and of course unwanted.


When all of the pieces or threads of a bookbinder’s skills are put together what is created you just won’t believe as the ending will surprise you and the twists in the plot will definitely unnerve the reader when you find out just who was behind the murders, who was standing in plain sight and definitely blindsided our Brooklyn. Emily is kidnapped. Minka is taken and it’s up to Derek, Gabriel and Max to save them. But, will they or is it the chocolate trail? One book you definitely want to read. One book bound book that keeps you bound to the printed page. One great novel. To learn the ending, which I am bound not to give, away you will have to buy the book, read it and see just how clever our Brooklyn Wainwright is and learn what lies between these binded pages.


Fran Lewis: reviewer



The Power of Change

 The Promise of Change

Rebecca Heflin



Sarah likes her life organized, compartmentalized and adheres to a perfectly created daily schedule. Married and divorced, hoping to seek her father’s approval every step of the way she can’t seem to divorce herself from analyzing and scrutinizing her decisions and life every step of the way. When offered a great promotion at work she had to think and rethink over the offer before agreeing to an interview. Sarah hates change. But, with change sometimes-great things happen and with rigidity and the same old same old come boredom, complacency and no real challenges that life affords you. When Sarah finally appears in front of the committee for the interview although her performance is sterling she does not get the job. Wanting someone with litigation experience to handle the more difficult areas of the law firm they hire a barracuda and Sarah’s own nemesis from law school, which turns out to anything but wonderful for those in the company. Patricia seems on the outside to have it all together but in reality the only way she makes her mark is by destroying the confidence and self-esteem of others. Becca is Sarah’s sister and Ann her best friend are there every step of the way to guide and support her decisions. When going out with them she was approached by a young man to go for a drink but refused. Her not wanting to date strangers is really not a bad rule. However, she was reluctant to give anyone a real chance after her divorce and her desire to win her father’s approval hanging over her head at all times.


A trip to England and the classes she was taking would change everything. Bored with her life and quitting her job when an ultimatum forced her to make a snap decision, she enters an entire new world in England. Sitting in class she is invited to tea by what one might call the Matriarch of Oxford whose real motive has yet to come out. Uniformity, consistency and no changes are what Sarah is about. Offered a job as an assistant literary agent and hoping to have her first novel published seems to be not what she wants and put on the back burner. Lady Clara appears to have her own agenda for Sarah. Enter Alex Fraser into the pub where she was with several of her classmates. Not realizing who he was or his title Sarah does what would do in America refuse to date a stranger or even have a drink with him. Little did she know he would reenter her life, as he is the Earl of Rutherford and Lady Clara’s grandson? As the relationship blooms she learns more about Alex and soon comes face to face with his brother Robert whose opinion of Alex is anything but sterling. Alex is an actor by profession and although he cares about Sarah his duties to his family and the tabloids stalking him overtake what could be a great relationship. Learning Alex was dating the Prime Minister’s daughter, seeing pictures of her ex-husband in the paper and learning about his impending marriage and honeymoon on a yacht seemed to shake Sarah’s inner core. Despite her friendship with Lady Clara and Alex’s definitely honest affection for her the brief encounter with his brother, the rudeness that ensues and the end result sends her back to the states and back to square one. Not only does she lose Alex but also now she still has to decide on a job. After a whirlwind courtship, plays, dinners and much more Sarah feels deflated even with the support of her sister and her best friend Ann. Trying to find his place as an actor and not looked at only as the Earl of Rutherford, he learns more than he wants when his brother insists he give up his career to tend to family business and concern about the estate. Learning about Emma, his mother, her yen for travel and how she handles being a countess, give Sarah much pause for thought. Change is not something she can readily handle and surprises, although he gave her many were at times not really welcome. Reality sets back in and she returns to the states and one year later she finds herself with Alex back in her life.


Sarah finally learns the truth behind her father’s actions and what is more important is his definition of what he hopes and wants for her. Sometimes semantics or just one word can change everything. Parents need to communicate their thoughts in a way that is understood as Sarah learns that she no longer has to vie for her father’s approval she always had it. When Sarah faces a major change in her life as she is offered the job that she was turned down for. What happened to Patricia was you have to read it for yourself as sometimes what goes around definitely comes around and in this case she definitely got just about what she deserved and hopefully more. But, Sarah decides to finally take a different route and polish that manuscript and hope for the best. When she learns that not only is the novel being published but made into a movie she leaves for England and is thrilled to reunite with Lady Clara. But, when casting the movies she is surprised as to the actor playing the lead. Will she allow herself to deal with Alex? How will she feel when she sees him again? Walking into an elegant Georgian townhouse along with director Michael Williams she meets Alex. Meeting with him and the lead actress difficult and yet cause for a “flash of distain” from Alex. Why? His actions were so distant and angry? What was the reason? Reason: One director and his jealousy. The rest still remains to be seen as misunderstandings and misconceptions seem to go a long way in this novel. Learning more about the director and handling his advances in a professional light, did not help how Alex reacted to her or her to him. But, when a scene goes wrong and she interjects her opinion upon his request what happens next will definitely change the complexion of their fragile relationship and hopefully spark some mutual interest.


Sarah finally realizes that change might not be a bad way to go and explains her feeling to Alex but what comes next is surprising even to her as she learns more about her inner most thoughts observing the lead actress and Alex. But, there were many similarities and definite parallels between the relationship of the leads in the movie and their real life relationship. Just what they were and how they would play out in their real life still has many more scenes to go. Watching the ones between Amelia and Christian did not do much for Sarah, as she felt tense and uneasy watching them act. But, what happens next will enlighten the reader to perhaps the final scene in his or her own special movie. But, the leading lady would produce a special scene and script of her own. What would Sarah’s next move be when she learns the truth behind how and why the movie was being produced and made? Would she do what she normally does? Run or would she listen and realize the truth? As Sarah decides to take ride in the tube something happens and her life is in jeopardy and the reunion in the hospital might change it all as an accident caused by an explosion would bring more than the flames to light. The tabloids enjoy writing about Alex but when it includes them both things need to change and will the person causing the notoriety pay?


A visit from the past brings her perspective back to the present and teaches her that some things never do change and that some men will always be who they are. As Sarah finally have the last word or final say in a scene that was over long before it started. If you want to know who the leading man was in this one you need to read Chapter fourteen in part three of this novel for yourself before the director says the final cut and print. What Alex does will definitely endear you to him and where he winds up and what happens will make you laugh and definitely smile to what lengths some men will go to curb their jealousies. But when the truth behind what Adrian thought comes out you almost wish it wasn’t. Will she embrace change and find a life that will embrace excitement, love and unpredictability or will she decide that the promise of change is not certain and too unpredictable?


Author Rebecca Heflin gives the reader much pause for thought as betrayals come full circle, misunderstandings come to light, promises are broken and others are made proving that The Promise of Change is the promise of excitement, great things to come and what’s more a great novel that promises to keep the reader riveted to the printed page until the final scene is played or in this case written.


Fran Lewis: reviewer 

Spotlight: Author Fran Orenstein

PLEASE WELCOME FRAN ORENSTEIN: FRAN is the author of Gaia’s Gift her latest release. I would like to spotlight this novel and her career as a writer.

Please join in the discussion and leave some questions for Fran and some comments. I am your host for this interview: Fran Lewis

Title of your novel and a short summary

My newest novel is Gaia’s Gift, a contemporary novel: Rachel Wells loses everything she cherishes in a brief summer storm off the coast of Florida. Haunted by the ghosts of her past, driven to the point of insanity by survivor’s guilt, Rachel turns her back on the world and retreats to a deserted island with her cat. Here she plans to live out her life in isolation, frozen behind an impenetrable veil of pain. That is, until she receives a gift from the sea that opens a slit in the veil and allows the world to intrude. Ignoring her conscience, Rachel learns too late that some gifts are not meant to be kept forever, and that forgiveness and redemption sometimes require sacrifice. The gods and spirits watch as the many layers of love unfold to reveal a complex finale.


How did you choose the main topic or theme for your book?

Four years ago, when my granddaughter, Rachel was nine, she called with an idea for a children’s book, which was the age group I wrote for at the time. I loved her idea, but then realized that it would work better from the perspective of the woman as the main character. I incorporated most of Rachel’s ideas and added some more paranormal and metaphysical overtones and the result is Gaia’s Gift, a contemporary novel, written  especially for women.


Which character do you love the most? Which one would you like to kill off or change something about?

I love all my characters, but probably Abigail, the child whose story spans 11 years in the book. I have some ethical problems with the choices made by the protagonist, Rachel, but I understand her and why she did what she did. I’m non-violent, so there is no character I would kill off, even those whom Rachel perceived as betraying her.


Where does your story take place and why?

The story takes place off the Southwest Coast of Florida in an unnamed, fictitious location. I live in the area and wanted to write a book that took place in my adopted place of residence.

What makes your book stand out above the rest? Why is your story unique?

It’s a story that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of us all and the choices we make every day to survive. It’s about a woman with different ideas in a metaphysical and environmental sense, and who maintains those beliefs despite the world around her. She creates an environment conducive to these beliefs and raises the child in that world. The paranormal aspects of the book add an element of the supernatural. The essence is still a love story on many levels and the sacrifices one woman makes for love.

What has been the most surprising part of your journey as a writer?

The evolving nature of my books from ‘tween to YA to adult and the different genres I’ve chosen. It’s an exciting journey that leaves me open to diversity in the subject matter and for the age group. I also write poetry for adults and children, as well as short stories.

How many new ideas do you have? Do you keep a list or are your thoughts on your computer?

I have enough ideas, beginnings, and plots to write for the next ten years without stopping. I have a file on my computer, where I keep a list of storylines, plot ideas, and just general notes. I also have scraps of paper all over the office, which turn up every so often, crying to be computerized.

What are the main or essential qualities of a good novel? How do you keep the reader pinned to the printed page throughout the novel?

The writer has to keep the novel moving with action, sub plots that move it forward, tension, and evolving characters. I don’t use fillers, such as pages of description. My books are concise, because I believe that less is more and keeps the reader involved. As a reader, I will often skip technical parts and descriptions because I want to read a story not a manual or travel brochure.  

How do you create an ending that no one will get?

When I was in my teens, one of my favorite authors was O’Henry, who always left the reader wondering and imagining at the end of his stories. That’s what I try to do. I want readers to ask me if there will be a sequel so they can find what else is going to happen. That to me is the best review I can get. It meant they got involved enough to care about the characters. I leave the book open-ended to trigger the reader’s imagination and desire for more.

How have you marketed your books? Which strategies have worked and which have not?

Marketing is every author’s nightmare. It takes up so much time that it’s hard to find time to write. Just answering questionnaires like this one, and I have done a number of these, takes time away from writing. However, if the book is ever going to be read and succeed, people have to know about it. The follow list seems to work: make contacts by joining organizations, professional societies, giving out pr material like bookmarks, doing book sales and signings, sending email announcements, creating and maintaining a website, Facebook and other on-line sites, having a marketing-savvy publisher, and developing helpful friends who will exchange publicity events. Everything works in its own way, but if you can afford it, hire a publicist to do some of the marketing.

During long road to publishing your novel what obstacles did you face?

Over the past 20 or so years, I’ve had unscrupulous publishers, agents who did nothing for me, and two file drawers of rejection slips that I finally shredded this past year. I finally decided that publishing with small, POD publishers was the route to go if I ever wanted to see my writing in print and read.

What made you decide to become a writer?

My mother was a story-teller from the time I was very little. I grew up in libraries because she was an inveterate reader. My initial foray into writing was around age eight, when I wrote my first poem after reading Bambi, which moved me very much. I’ve always wanted to write, sending out my first submission of a short story to a magazine when I was twelve. I worked on school newspapers, worked for a national magazine as an editor/writer, and wrote speeches, brochures, newsletters, and presentations for the State of NJ.

When you write do you outline each chapter or do you just write and see where the character takes you?

I need to let my imagination take me where it will. I use a story board for reference to define the characters and the general scope of the story, then I go where my mind leads me.

What are three things your character would like to tell you if he/she could speak to you in person?

Thank you for telling my story. Thank you for bringing me to life. Thank you for giving me Abigail and Ben.

Where can we find your book, your blogs, websites and what are all of your titles?

Gaia’s Gift is published by World Castle Publishing and is currently on and Kindle until the middle of April, when it will be on all ebook readers and other on-line publishers. It can be ordered from the publisher, through my website and on order from bookstores. Please join me in Fran’s World at You can read my bio and all about the eight published books I have written, my award-winning poetry and short stories, blogs by me and other authors, events I am attending, and where my books can be found.  Stop by and visit.