Salve for Souls

Thursday, October 17, 2019


Hurricane Steve is on his way.
So is When Love Becomes Obsession, Book 2 in the Castle in the Sun romantic-suspense series.
As an approaching hurricane gusting in Florida's palm trees and crashing waves to the shore signals danger, Steve's stalking and harassment signals trouble.
Art by diversepixel
Liz and Carlos are planning a romantic wedding at
St. Augustine, Florida's legendary Love Tree.
Will "Hurricane Steve" foil their plans?

His ex-wife Liz is about to marry Carlos and Steve is hell-bent on stopping them. 

A rash decision Liz makes against her better judgement adds to the tempest. Can Steve get past Jack and his motorcycle buddies to stop the wedding? And how does a tiny acorn lead to a big surprise?                                      

It all unfolds in When Love Becomes Obsession, (coming soon) Book 2, in the Castle in the Sun romantic-suspense series, by award-winning journalist and novelist, Flora Reigada.

Art by Daniela
Liz can feel her ex-husband's cold, blue eyes
watching her every move. 

But Liz and Carlos' love story beings in
"Elizabeth's Secret,"Book 1 in the series.

Monday, September 2, 2019

I Thoroughly Enjoyed It, 5-Star review by L. Paul

The book title to me meant the book would be somewhat of a thriller, but its a mystery intertwined with a love story that touches upon family conflict, faith, and forgiveness in an eloquent way. It starts with a pulse-pounding chapter as the main character encounters danger while out in the woods and in her rush to get away from it falls, finding an old locket that's been hidden among stones - for likely a generation or two. The locket contains clues to star crossed lovers from long ago, people Elizabeth is determined to find. After that opening, the book slowly evolves into a gentle, intricate read as Elizabeth puts past hurt behind her and takes a chance on love and reconciliation. It wasn't quite what I expected but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
It starts with a pulse-pounding chapter.
E-book ONLY $1.99

Wednesday, August 28, 2019


Imagine someone saying the following to you:
Liz's husband Steve looks at her with disgust as he tells her she's too fat
and her butt is too big.

"I wasted my youth on you! You've let yourself go. Look at you! I don't even want you anymore!"
That's what Steve Cavanaugh said to his wife, Liz, before leaving her for Gloria, a twenty-something plaything.
Seeing the anger in Liz's eyes, he bolts for the door as she hurls a vase at him. Barely missing his head, the vase smashes into the wall.
He mocks her. "You broke it! I was going to give that to Gloria."
This fictional scenario sets the stage for Elizabeth's Secret, Book 1 in my "Castle in the Sun" romantic-suspense series.
Although Steve has redeeming qualities, such as being a good father and provider for the twin sons he had with 
Liz, he says and does many hurtful things. This continues even after Liz begins a relationship with Carlos Martín, a brilliant, sophisticated and of course, handsome Presidential aide. But Steve just cannot bear to see Liz happy, especially with someone so accomplished.
When I started the series, I didn't expect Steve to play a major role. He was supposed to be a background character, the ex-husband referred to in passing.
As I wrote, however, Steve kept stepping out from the shadows and I realized he has an important role. He is the antagonist or villain essential to every story. He represents the challenges we need to overcome.
Who can better appreciate home's warmth than one who has struggled through cold, wind and rain? Who can better appreciate success, then one who has tasted the bitterness of failure? And who can better appreciate hearing I love you, than one who has been rejected?
Whatever or whoever the "Steves" in our lives may be, they test us, just as the character in my book tests Liz and Carlos' relationship. These people and problems can embitter us or make us flex our mental and spiritual muscles to grow stronger.
A friend who reviewed my book had her own take on Steve. "He's a control freak, wanting to manipulate Liz and Carlos like puppets on a string."
Here is what Steve said to Carlos after learning about the motorcycle accident that nearly killed him. "Too bad about the Harley. Maybe it was just too much bike for you."
 E-book ONLY $1.99
So where did I get the dialogue for this character? Much of it came from my mild-mannered husband, Dan. 
Might there be a little bit of Steve inside every one of us?
Meet Steve and other characters in the pages of  Elizabeth's Secret, first in the Castle in the Sun romantic-suspense series,
Book 2, coming soon.
Cover art by:

Wednesday, August 21, 2019


Excerpt from Chapter 1: Elizabeth's Secret
There seemed to be nowhere to run in the vast forest.

Liz forced her thoughts back to the sights and sounds of the forest. She realized something had changed. The forest was quiet … too quiet. The wind had stilled. Birds were no longer singing. Liz paused, her eyes darting one way, then another. As a cloud moved over the sun, a sense of danger crept over the landscape.Suddenly, a snapping twig shattered the stillness and a flock of birds launched into the sky, their chirping and flapping wings fading away. Then, a growl seemed to shake the ground beneath Liz.
She froze, almost afraid to breathe. Is this how it’s going to end for me?
Fear tingled up and down Liz’s spine as her eyes drifted to a clearing, where a black bear was sniffing the air.
She saw two cubs, partly concealed by brush. Her heart pounded in her chest.
Steve’s warnings screamed across her mind. Bears have a keen sense of smell. If you see one, don’t try to run away. Back away slowly. Yell at the bear. Firmly tell it to leave. Get out of here! Especially beware of a mother bear with cubs.
Then, in one horrible moment, the bear charged in her direction. In a blind panic Liz also ran, forgetting everything Steve had told her. Though the episode lasted scarcely a minute, time seemed to move in slow motion.

What will happen to Liz? Find out more in Elizabeth's Secret: Left for Dead in the Forest. E-book ONLY $1.99.

Friday, July 12, 2019

The BIG Mistake

If only I had paid attention in math class during my school days, maybe I would not have made my BIG mistake.
And if only I had not been in such a hurry . . ..
But numbers always bored me, and in school,
I much preferred gazing out the window and making up stories in my head.
Flash forward many years, when I am writing and publishing those stories, most recently my Castle in the Sun romantic-suspense series, with Kindle Direct Publishing. (KDP).
Book 1, Elizabeth's Secret, was already available as an e-book. But I needed paperbacks to offer at a book-signing, hosted by the New Beginnings Christian Bookstore in Titusville, Florida.
Publishing the paperback involved choosing from suggested book sizes. One looked reasonable, so I choose it and ordered copies of my book.
When the books arrived, I struggled to drag the unusually large and heavy box inside.
I opened it to a BIG surprise--huge, textbook size books from the dimensions I had sent.
I stared in shock!
What could I do? The book signing was just days away. There was no time to correct my mistake and order smaller books.
After my initial shock wore off, I had a good laugh.
My husband, Dan did too, when he saw the results of my measurement mishap.
"Will you offer the books at a discount?" Dan asked.
I knew what I had to do.
"Yes!" I exclaimed. "I'll have a GIANT book sale."
I'm happy to report that the book signing went well.  Afterwards, I easily carried a much lighter box of books to my car.
I am now in the mind-numbing process of readjusting the size of my book with KDP. This isn't as easy as it sounds, because the size is locked in.
What have I learned? Little errors and hurry can cause big problems.
The BIG Book:Find Out More

Monday, July 8, 2019

29 Reviews and Counting!

The latest 5-Star review of
Elizabeth's Secret: Left For Dead in the Forest.
Award-winning journalist and novelist Flora Reigada
An Enjoyable Christian Mystery/Romance 

The book title to me meant the book would be somewhat of a thriller, but its a mystery intertwined with a love story that touches upon family conflict, faith, and forgiveness in an eloquent way. It starts with a pulse-pounding chapter as the main character encounters danger while out in the woods and in her rush to get away from it falls, finding an old locket that's been hidden among stones - for likely a generation or two. The locket contains clues to star crossed lovers from long ago, people Elizabeth is determined to find. After that opening, the book slowly evolves into a gentle, intricate read as Elizabeth puts past hurt behind her and takes a chance on love and reconciliation. It wasn't quite what I expected but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

L. Paul
Go to:

Tuesday, June 18, 2019



Cover art by
That Christmas evening in rural New York State could not have been more perfect for Liz Bertelli, enjoying a holiday celebration at best friend, Rosa Ramirez’s old farmhouse. Its big, drafty rooms with their high ceilings, vintage light fixtures and crown molding, lent a rustic charm.
Liz and her fiancé, Carlos Martin, cuddled on a loveseat by a living room window. Even with snow falling outside and the Christmas tree twinkling nearby, the couple sat lost in each other’s gaze.
Liz had thought she could never love again after her ex-husband, Steve, left her for another woman. Carlos had proven her wrong and just that afternoon, he surprised her with a proposal, slipping a diamond and emerald ring on her finger. She gladly accepted and seemed to enter a fabled world of knights and romance, she never thought existed; now it had become real.
Rosa and Carlos’ brother, Jack, helped make the engagement a reality. It involved an elaborate ruse and Liz smiled to herself, remembering how it unfolded.
The guys flew here from Florida and hid in Rosa’s house for three days. They hiked a mile through the forest, then waited for me near the old stone wall—hiding there too. It was sooo romantic when Carlos came out to propose.
The location was chosen for its significance.
One day I walked there to forget my troubles, but soon I was running from a bear.
Escaping its clutches, Liz discovered an old locket and mysterious love letter hidden in the wall.
Solving their mystery put her and Rosa on the trail of star-crossed lovers that led to Florida, a castle and the strong arms of the lovers’ sons, Carlos and Jack.[1]
Several months had since passed and though it was only six-o’clock, winter’s evening curtain had been drawn over the glittering hills.
Rosa and Jack were in the kitchen with Rosa’s daughter Laura, preparing a Latin-American holiday feast of roasted pork with yellow rice and beans. Their distant voices and clatter of pots and pans seemed to float in the fragrances of meat and spices.
Liz and Carlos kissed and resumed gazing at each other—she drinking-in his Latin good looks and he, her honey-brown eyes and hair that flowed to her shoulders like a chocolate fountain.
It never failed to amaze Carlos that although in her thirties like himself, Liz had grown sons and a granddaughter.
She would tell him, Rosa and I were kids with kids. But we supported each other and we grew up fast.
Carlos kissed her locks. “Sweet.”
The couple’s reverie was interrupted by Laura’s two tots bursting from the kitchen, with Rosa’s pair of dachshunds playfully yipping close behind.
The flustered young mom would occasionally poke her head from the kitchen to shout at the little ones. “Olivia! Noah! Be quiet!”
They would simmer down, only to start up again, louder than before.
After a while, Jack emerged to playfully scoop up the children and hoist one atop each of his broad shoulders. The children laughed with delight as he trotted them around the house, leaving their mother to cook in peace.
Liz smiled as they passed her way—barely able to tear her gaze from Carlos and her ring, sparkling in the Christmas lights. Love glowed in Carlos’ dreamy green eyes. They wandered over Liz’s form-fitting red sweater.
“Not only are you beautiful, you’re a gifted artist,” he whispered, referring to her latest creation—a painting she had shown him earlier that day.
Illustrating their journey to one another, it depicted the old stone wall where Carlos proposed. The wall faded away to a castle (the Castillo de San Marcos) in Carlos’ hometown of St. Augustine, Florida, where clues in the locket led Liz and Rosa. Their lives would never be the same.
Carlos motioned to the fitness watch on his wrist. “Thank you for the Christmas gifts. I really did need those shirts and the watch is just what I wanted.”
“Thank you,” Liz said, admiring her ring.
She stroked his thick black whiskers. “I like the beard and moustache you’re growing. They’re rugged and masculine—like you.”
He smiled, brushing his whiskers against her face. Liz laughed, kissing his eager lips.
 She had already sent her twin sons, Tony and Stevie, photos of the engagement ring. She included pictures and videos of herself with Carlos and of the others as well. One video captured Rosa and Jack, chasing each other in a playful snowball fight, then wrestling, laughing and rolling in the snow.
After Carlos excused himself to help Jack expand the heavy old dining room table, Liz accessed her phone to watch a video from her sons, celebrating Christmas with their father in Daytona Beach.
The young men extended Christmas greetings and congratulated Liz and Carlos on their engagement.
“Best wishes! That’s some big rock! We love you and hope to see you soon.”
Tony added a postscript. “Steph and I are looking forward to closing the deal on Carlos and Jack’s family home and making it a bed and breakfast here in sunny Florida.”
The camera panned to Liz’s beloved granddaughter, Ashley. To Liz’s delight, the video captured the happy child playing with her Christmas toys. She stopped to point at her mother’s swollen stomach. “Baby brother in there!”
However, Steve and his wife Gloria had made their way into some of the frames, especially when Ashley scampered over. She waved at the camera. “Hi Gwamma!”
Someone offered Steve a piece of cake.
“I’ll pass, thank you,” he said. “The holiday food is great. But it goes straight to the thighs.”
He snickered as his cold, blue eyes looked directly into the camera. “You know what I mean.”
Knowing that calculated remark was meant for her, it stabbed at Liz’s heart, dredging up memories of the criticism Steve had leveled at her post-baby body, throughout their marriage. But his words also ignited Liz’s anger. She could have jumped through the phone and smashed the cake into his smirking face. Still, her eyes misted.
The hatred Liz felt for Gloria when Steve left, had long since dissolved into pity.
That poor woman. Steve’s an idiot. I’m glad to be rid of him.
Yet, Liz could not shake the hurt. It hung over her like a cloud when Rosa called everyone into the dining room for the meal, which began with salad, followed by the main course and warm bread. Carlos offered Liz a crispy piece of meat.
“This is the cuerito (skin) my favorite part. You can taste the spices in which the meat was marinated. My father used garlic, oregano, cilantro, salt, pepper and lemon.”

Liz took a bite, chewing it slowly, letting the perfect blend of crunch and spice, caress her taste buds.
Drinks flowed. They included apple cider and coquito; an eggnog-like drink made from rum, coconut milk and sweetened condensed milk. For dessert, apple pie was topped with vanilla ice cream and served with café con leche.
Even in the festive glow of the holiday and with Carlos at her side, Liz could not get Steve’s steely blue eyes and critical remark out of her head. She pasted on a smile, but Carlos knew something was wrong.
“What’s the matter?” he asked. “You look sad and disconnected.”
Leaning close to keep the conversation private, Liz told him what Steve had said.
She saw the anger boil in Carlos’ face.
“Don’t pay any attention to that imbecile. Your curves are gorgeous and so are you.”
 His words warmed Liz’s heart. “Thanks honey, you always make me feel better. But I know Steve and I just can’t shake the feeling that he’s up to no good.”
After the meal when everyone was satisfied and the dishwasher humming, Liz and Carlos returned to their loveseat by the Christmas tree. From there, they could look into another room, where Jack was snoozing on a couch, with a child sleeping on either side.
Laura was reluctant to wake the little ones when it came time to go. But she knew it was inevitable, because they were expected at a relative’s home early the next day.
Liz and Carlos were close enough to overhear a conversation that Laura and Rosa were having about Jack.
The daughter began. “He might just be a keeper, Mama. You’ve been telling me how he’s fixing things around the house. Look how great he is with kids. He can cook too. Then he’s so handsome in that Greek sculpture sort of way. And I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”
Rosa took a deep breath. “Even though your father’s been gone almost two years, I still love him. Who would have thought he had an undetected heart defect? He was never sick. He never went to the doctor.”
“Yes, it was a terrible shock,” the daughter replied. “And we’ll always love Papa. But he’s in heaven now and you’re only in your thirties. Like Liz, you had your kids when you were a kid yourself. Maybe the time has come to move on. Papa would understand. He loved you so much that he would want you to be happy.”
“I do find myself caring for Jack,” the mother confessed.
When Laura and the children were gone, Jack and Rosa returned to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on the cleanup. Their distant chatter reached Liz and Carlos, who resumed gazing at each other—stopping only to look outside at snowflakes swirling around the lamppost.
Beyond it, Liz’s house could be seen several hundred feet up the country road. The colorful Christmas tree in its window shone through the wintry night. Seeing her home, made Liz remember the Rottweiler she kept for protection.
“Oh my! I need to get home. I let King out this time every night. He must be waiting anxiously by the door.”
She rose to get her coat for the walk.
Carlos stood too. “I’ll go with you. I can’t let m’ lady walk up that lonely road alone.”
“I appreciate that,” Liz said with affection. “But it’s freezing outside here in the Adirondack foothills and a Florida boy like you isn’t used to the cold. I do this all the time and I’ll be right back.”
Carlos would not hear otherwise and was soon going out the door with her. While Liz was unfazed by the cold, snow driven by moaning winds, stung Carlos’ face. Twenty-degree temperatures also aggravated pain in the femur he shattered in a near-fatal motorcycle accident. Trying not to limp, he let out a vaporous breath.
“It feels like Moscow in winter. I went there once with the Vice President.”
Snow crunched under their boots as they walked across Liz’s back porch to the kitchen door, where King was waiting just inside. Hearing Liz’s voice, he issued a few whiney barks.
Unlocking the door, she gave him a quick petting and released him into the yard.
She motioned to Carlos. “Come in. I’ll make coffee so you can thaw out.”
For a while, the two chatted over coffee. Carlos warmed his hands on the cup and breathed-in the steam.
Once back inside, King fell asleep on a throw rug.
After Liz brought out snacks, she and Carlos talked and laughed for a couple of hours.
Finally, he noticed the time. “I guess I should be getting back up the road.”
“I’ll drive you,” she offered, reaching for her coat. “I know how much the cold hurts your injury.”
He drew her into a deep kiss, and then searched her eyes with his. “Well, we can go back out in the cold—or I can stay ….”
That frank statement caught Liz by surprise. She almost could not speak, but finally managed. “Wouldn’t that create an awkward situation for Rosa and Jack?”
He brushed her lips with a kiss that tickled like a feather. “I discussed the possibility with them and they wouldn’t mind. Let’s just say they have been very chummy since Jack and I arrived. I think they might appreciate some time alone before Jack flies home. He’ll be starting a job, moving into his new condo and representing our family at the sale of our parents’ home.”
“Aren’t you returning with him?”
“That depends on you.”
Liz hesitated. In her heart she wanted to say “stay,” but there were so many reasons she should not. She thought of the moral implications, wondering what her sons would think—especially “born again” Stevie. Then there were her late parents, who would be turning in their graves. And Steve? His snide remark still ached in her bosom and his icy glare had left her with a sense of foreboding. Yet she would not let him intimidate her.
Against her better judgment, she tried to set aside her concerns and made what would prove to be a fateful decision. She tilted her face up for a kiss. “So, what would you like for breakfast?”

[1] Described in Elizabeth’s Secret-Left for Dead in the Forest, Book One in the Castle in the Sun romantic-suspense series, available on Amazon.