Saturday, August 18, 2018

Book Tour: The Charly Stevens Series by Two Sharpe (Reviews+Excerpts+Giveaway)

The Charly Stevens Series Book 1
by Two Sharpe
Genre: Cozy Mystery

What do you do when tragedy comes into your life and takes everything away? Charly Stevens’ life was turned upside down when a drunk driver took her beloved husband Kevin from her, making her a widow at 24. Charly has two choices, stay in the dark pit of despair that has become her life for almost a year, or take a chance and enter the world of the living and move forward again. Lucky for Charly, she has some excellent friends who support her, but she will also have to face the next step in her life when a man from her past reappears and shows definite interest. Charly gets caught up in a murder investigation with some unusual help from her rescue dog, Lola. After Kevin was taken, he finds a way to help Charly realize her place in the world again with Lola’s help.

Mrs. Paulson was just sitting down at the table with a cup of coffee in front of her, and there was a second cup sitting in front of the chair across from her, steam rising from the cup.

“Take a seat dear, I won’t bite.”

I smiled and slid into the chair across from her, all the while trying to figure out how she knew I was coming, there is steam coming out of the cup meant for me!

She lifted her eyes to meet mine, “When did you lose him?”

“Almost a year ago,” stuttering at first. Just saying it out loud felt like someone just stuck an ice pick in my chest. “How did you know?”

Mrs. Paulson, “EJ” as she told me to call her again, began “I was married to a wonderful man, Harold, for 36 years. We were never blessed with children, but Harold and I loved animals something fierce and we spent our love on our animals. Harold was such a wonderful man, he would give you the shirt off his back...actually, that’s how we met,” she said with a wicked little smile.

I chuckled as EJ continued, a sparkle in her eyes, “Harold was always helping people, he would deliver meals to people who were sick or injured. We both volunteered at the local animal shelter to help them find people to adopt the animals that came in. One night, Harold was on his way home after delivering meals and a drunk driver came careening through a red light and struck my Harold broadside, he died instantly according to the police.”

I made an audible gasp and my hands started shaking while tears fell down my cheeks. EJ smiled a half smile and put her hand over mine, “Harold and I had 36 beautiful years together, I can’t complain.”

I grabbed a napkin from the holder and dried my face and blew my nose. I was just about to say something when EJ continued.

“I took Harold’s death hard, he was my everything. I didn’t handle it well at all, I kind of checked out for a while. About a year after Harold’s death, I began having this vivid dream with Harold and me. It was the same dream every night. Then one night the dream changed. Harold said something in the dream that he never had before. I didn’t think much about it at first and then I found that the things he was saying to me in the dream, were real.”

My eyes bulged almost out of my head when she said this, and she smiled, knowingly at me.

“It took me some time, but I eventually pieced together what he was telling me, and I ended up finding Pookie. He was abused, emaciated, and in terrible shape, but I found him just where my Harold told me to look in my dreams. That was 15 years ago.” EJ looked over at me and smiled, then she patted my hand and said, “You can take a breath now dear.”

I didn’t realize I was holding it as I let out my breath loudly and took several more to steady myself. This was unbelievable, EJ had just given voice to what I have been thinking for several days, I thought I was just going mad!

Taking another breath, I said, “That is a lot to take in. I have to say I have been having a similar experience, but I thought I was going crazy.”

EJ started laughing and said, “Dear, do you think I thought I had all my cookies in the jar after all that happened to me? It took me a long time to let my mind accept what was happening.”

“Is that it, is that all that happened? You found Pookie?” I asked after taking a few moments to process.

“I figure that each of us that have been given this gift are given the responsibility that goes along with it. It was not only for my benefit that this happened. Over the years Pookie and I have helped rescue over 100 animals that were lost or being abused. And over those same years I have asked myself all the time why this ability, this gift? All I can think of is that Harold and I shared a love and passion for animals. I think maybe when someone is taken suddenly, the way Harold and your Kevin were, their love, or at least some of it, stays here with us. Maybe that is how this connection or bond is formed.

“Harold came to me in my dreams until I found Pookie and then believe it or not, Pookie was the one that helped me find the others. I think Harold might be speaking to me through Pookie. If you pay close enough attention, they are speaking to you in their own way. I stopped asking questions a long time ago and just started paying attention and trusting my instincts...and Pookie’s.” She smile

**Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.**

Awakening is Book 1 in the Charly Stevens series. The story starts with the loss of Charly’s husband and then we step into Charly’s life as she’s trying to figure out what life is like now as a single woman. Charly works at a veterinarian office and quite a bit of the story takes place in that setting. We get great, in-depth detail of every person Charly works with and their friendships. With the death of her husband, her friendships in her workplace grow. Charly also begins dating an old acquaintance, Riley and we experience the difficulty of moving on. Charly also meets a new friend EJ, whose husband is still watching over her.

There are four POV’s in this story and I was not a fan of the multiple POV’s because it caused the same incident/story to be told several times. Something would happen between two characters and in one scene we would get the perspective from one character and then we’d get a new chapter, from a different character, and would get the same incident over again but from this person’s perspective. This makes the story boring and repetitive and it seems to just be filler taking up space.

This is a mystery and I was really disappointed by the police procedure parts of it. The detectives, who are just the best at their jobs, bring their suspect in to question him. They have very little evidence, ask a couple of questions and then let him go. Maybe some investigating before bringing him in to question and letting him know you’re aware of him would have been better. After releasing him, then the detectives decide they need to get more information on him. Either the detectives really suck at their job, or the authors didn’t do their due diligence. And, truthfully considering the suspect kidnaps a person while a police detective is right there, seems that it may be the police aren’t very good at their jobs.

The dead husband ghost in this story was not my thing. Had I know it had paranormal elements with a “ghost” in it, I would have passed on reading it. But, if you like stories with ghosts in it, this one had them on the fringe so it may not be as involved those of ghost lovers would like. But, if you want to believe that your dead spouse is there to protect you and watch over, then you’ll find comfort in this story.

The story lacked cohesiveness and didn’t flow easily for me. In one paragraph, Charly is saying something and everything is dramatic. The next paragraph is the killer’s POV who is not in the same room. There’s no divide to break it up, it just goes from one POV to the next which makes reading the story difficult. It really pulls you out of the story when you have to go back to reread and make sure you didn’t miss something.

This is the first book in a new series, and sometimes the first books are not my favorites. A lot of time is spent on character development and getting everyone introduced which can just be overwhelming. It feels like we have to know everything about every one of the characters instead of just gradually learning them but it also preps us for future books and interactions.

Rating: 3.5 stars

The Charly Stevens Series Book 2

Charly Stevens has come to accept that it is time to move forward with her life, so she and Lola are plowing straight ahead… into even more mystery and intrigue. With the help of her faithful friends Hadley and EJ, the team takes on a case to find a missing dog and they inadvertently cross paths with Charly’s new love interest, Riley Jordan. Riley and his partner, Tank, are investigating a string of break ins in the surrounding area and find clues that link back to the murder of Riley’s father, when Riley was young. Working together to help solve the case is exhilarating for the new couple, but it also places both of them in harms way. Come along on this next adventure in the Charly Stevens series: Acceptance.


Tank walked with me to Riley’s door and she squeezed my shoulder, then went down the hall to the nurse’s station. I stood at that door taking deep breaths trying to pull myself together until, with a shaking hand, I pushed the door open. When I saw the big strong man that had become such a big part of my life lately lying in that bed with tubes hanging out of him and the machines making noise all around him, I sucked in a ragged breath and the tears started falling again.

I saw movement and then Riley lifted his head and turned toward me and as soon as he saw me, that brilliant smile lit up his face. I slowly made my way to his side and when I got there and looked down into his eyes, I started sobbing. His eyes were puffy and his face was pale with multiple small lacerations. Riley lifted his arm, the one without the splint on it and took my hand and pulled it to his lips. His lips were dry and the kiss was weak.

He smiled again and said, “It’s ok Charly, I’m going to be ok, alright?” looking up at me to make sure I believed him.

I just bent down and laid my head on his shoulder as he brought his arm around me holding me to his chest, letting me cry it all out. When I finished, not sure how long it took but I finally was able to pull myself together, I pulled my head up and looked him in the eye.

“You promised not to break my heart, getting yourself killed certainly qualifies as breaking my heart,” I said, but there was no hostility there, something else entirely.

I didn’t realize until right this moment just how much Riley has taken over my heart. I am in love with this man and the realization of that slammed into me like a truck going 100 miles an hour. How have I gone from where I was, to this place so quickly. Then I thought how long it has been and realized it has taken quite a bit of time to get to where I was at that moment, to allow me to feel something for someone again. I am just going to have to accept that to love someone is to live with the chance that you can lose them. If my past taught me anything, it was to show those who you love how much they mean to you each and every day. To take chances when they arrive and never second guess your feelings. Life is short.

I brought my lips down to his and I made sure he understood what he means to me. And then to torture him for almost giving me a heart attack I leaned into his ear.

“It’s too bad you got hurt, I just put clean sheets on my bed, but I guess you have your own clean sheets here,” then I gently bit his earlobe and a moan escaped his lips and when I pulled my head back I saw goosebumps on his arm. I finally let myself smile at him as he returned the smile.

“Sure, hit a guy while he’s down. Trust me, I will get my revenge,” he said as he took my hand to his lips and placed a gentle kiss on it. Now I had goosebumps.

Absolution: Coming soon

**Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure in hopes of an unbiased opinion, a review was not a requirement.**

Acceptance is Book 2 in the Charly Stevens series. Charly is still moving forward and finding her way. This book had the same issue with head hopping as the first one, and that was a disappointment. One paragraph is from Charly’s POV and then the next is Riley’s. There’s nothing that distinguishes the “I” POV so it interrupts the story while I’m trying to figure out what’s happening.

In this book Charly, Hadley and EJ are spending more time together and bonding. They’re strengthening their friendship while using Lola’s gift (guided by Charlie’s dead husband) in helping dogs in need. The one thing I questioned was the decision her husband made to help animals in need. EJ’s dead husband had already been doing this through his dog, so why didn’t Charlie’s husband come up with a different way to help, why the same cause? ← Those thoughts probably revealed too much of my weirdness, but I seriously kept wondering this, lol.

The authors did a better job with the writing of Riley and Tank in their work as detectives in this book. I didn’t feel that they were as incompetent as they came across in the first book. I liked these characters in the first book and in this one as we get to know them more, they just didn’t seem very good at their jobs the first time around. And, Riley gets the chance to solve the case of his father’s murder from when he’s a child in this book and the detective work is well done.

I would definitely recommend reading this series in the appropriate order. This series is about the same characters and I think you’ll get more enjoyment starting at the beginning. To read this series you really need to like animals, and in particular dogs, as there are a lot of them involved in this series. I did enjoy this book a lot more than the first one and think the series has great potential.

Rating: 4 stars

Two Sharpe Publishing was created as a company to publish some books that my daughter and I wrote together.  This was not something Amanda nor I had ever even dreamed of, but then life has a way of sending you down the path that it wants… regardless of where you were planning on going.
On September 16, 2015, Amanda’s husband Kevin was on his way home from work late one night and was waiting for traffic to clear in the left turn lane about a mile from their home.  A drunk driver coming from behind Kevin, at what was estimated 75 mph in a 45 mph zone, veered out of the travel lanes and struck Kevin in the rear of his Dodge Neon with a full-size SUV.  Kevin was killed instantly in the crash.
Several months after Kevin’s death, Amanda wrote an autobiography of her life with Kevin called Stolen and she asked me if I would help edit the book.  Once we put the finishing touches on Stolen, we decided we would cowrite a fictional series called The Charly Stevens series.
People deal with the loss of a loved one in many different ways. After starting the Charly Stevens Series, we came up with another fictional series called Road Rage The Blog. It is a real time blog written by Simon, a man who has a great deal of rage, especially when he gets in a car.
Once we had an idea for the above projects, we needed a Social Engineer to handle publishing, website development, cover art, and social media for our company.  We were lucky enough to convince Kris Spoon to join our team.  Kris has a wide range of experience in the world of publishing and social media and has used those unique skills to create a platform for not only the works we have created to date, but for those to come.  We hope in the future to be able to help other authors bring their works to life through our company.
Thank you for reading about Two Sharpe Publishing!
-Amanda, Kris, & Scott-

Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!