G I V E A W A Y   E N D E D

@Versatileer Welcomes the Dear Prudence by Karen Janowsky #BookBlitz + eBook Copy #Giveaway
@XpressoTours Blog Tours –  August 28th to September 1st
Blitz-wide giveaway (INT), 18+ – Open until September 6, 2023

Dear Prudence by Karen Janowsky

Book & Author Details:
Dear Prudence by Karen Janowsky
Publication date: July 18th 2023
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Provided by Xpresso Book Tours


Two lost souls find a tether in the power of love.

Pru Blum’s life hasn’t been easy, but working as a cellist with the Lower Georgia Symphonic Orchestra is her solace. She depends on her friends and uncle for support, but she’s resolved to become stronger and more independent. However, avoiding her abusive ex, Cliff, isn’t easy… especially since he’s a member of the orchestra too. His overbearing personality and unwanted attention stop her in her tracks each time she tries to move forward.

Shawn Levinson’s life seems disjointed, almost as though it’s someone else’s. His parents adore and expect him to marry his girlfriend, Helena, and for him to work for her father’s corporation. Deep down, he knows their relationship is a sham. Besides, sitting at a desk and wearing a tie forever isn’t his dream. Whenever he tries to follow his own path, though, everyone dismisses his hopes as foolish. He doesn’t have the strength to oppose two families, so he escapes to Georgia to work on his parents’ retirement home and look for some clarity.

When these two lost souls literally collide, sparks fly, but neither wants the complication of a relationship. And Shawn hasn’t mentioned anything to Pru about Helena. No matter how hard they try to distance themselves, they can’t seem to keep away from each other. By the time they’re ready to admit their feelings, their pasts and secrets are poised to blow up in their faces. Falling in love may be exactly what they need… if they can each get out of their own way.

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Author Bio:

Karen Janowsky has loved superheroes and ancient mythology since the first time she saw the Super Friends on television in 1970’s. Because flying an invisible jet was never a viable career option, and because running around in a cape, swimsuit, and bright red boots is not socially acceptable for adults, she teaches yoga and writing at the College of Southern Maryland. Her stories and poems have been featured in several anthologies and literary magazines since 1991. She received her master’s degree in English from Florida State University.

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Excerpt 1, chapter 21:
They didn’t say much in the car, but it was only about a ten-minute drive. Pru leaned her head against the window and closed her eyes. Her breathing slowed right away, and her body was limp by the time he pulled up in the driveway.

Shawn twisted around to look at Matilda. “So, what do you think, Mattie?” he said, keeping his voice down. “Can you help me figure her out? What do you do for her? How can I make up for the rest?” Matilda hopped onto the floor from the back seat and leaned her head over the console. She licked his hand.

Pru remained asleep as Shawn let his car idle. Tommy’s car was gone. It was hard to reconcile the confident, elegant person he saw playing the cello with the trembling, rain-soaked stranger, the nervous, awkward yoga student, and the emotionally spent woman before him.

What would he be like if he got his wish and his family didn’t bother him anymore? It seemed like every conversation he had with his father for the last ten years had devolved into a disagreement. He tried to imagine the man being gone from his life forever—especially with so much unresolved. Shawn remembered vacations—just him and his parents or with extended family. He’d grown up with holiday celebrations and Saturday afternoons kicking a soccer ball in their large backyard with cousins and uncles. He remembered countless tearful conversations with his mother about math homework and girlfriends. His throat tightened.

Pru opened her eyes. “Anxiety,” she mumbled, pushing her hair back and sitting up. “Mattie is a service dog for almost constant, life-disrupting anxiety. It doesn’t even have to be triggered sometimes. The symptoms just kick in. That’s why I shake so much.”

Shawn felt the blood rush from his face. “I shouldn’t have said—”

“I was mostly asleep, so it’s okay. Not many people ask my dog before they do me.” She smiled at him, and he saw the woman from the party again—the one who looked content and happy while playing her cello. “I’d better go inside and lie down. Thank you, Shawn. Thank you for this afternoon.”

He got out without turning off the car. She and Matilda followed him to the trunk. “Do you need help bringing these in?” He held up her grocery bags.

“No, but I appreciate the offer.” Pru’s shirt had become untucked from her skirt, and both were rumpled. Like last time, that strong wisteria smell hung in the air. Everywhere he saw or smelled it now, he automatically conjured the image of her, drenched in front of her house. Shawn wasn’t sure if Pru was shaking, but he certainly was.

He took a step forward, and she met him halfway for a hug. Her hair was starting to stick out from the braid, nearly poking up his nose, and he picked up the faint scent of salt from her sweat with the flowers. They each moved to peck each other on the cheek and their mouths landed closer than intended, like falling feathers. They stood stock-still until she lifted her chin by the smallest fraction, a natural, involuntary movement rather than something deliberate.

Please, don’t let this stop.

Pru took the tiniest breath, and he registered her earlier tears layered in Earl Grey tea. He let the bags drop to the ground.

Shawn, you’re a moron.

Her lips were warm on his skin, just a fraction of an inch from the corner of his mouth.

Shut up. I don’t care right now. This has to happen.

He swallowed. Her jaw contained none of the tension he’d noticed earlier today. They swayed as their heads made tiny movements, gliding their closed mouths back and forth like skaters floating across the ice. Her breath pirouetted down to the bottoms of his lungs.

Don’t stop. Don’t think.

Cupping his hand behind her head, they added more pressure against each other’s lips and their mouths parted slightly. The tips of their tongues touched.

After a few seconds, she pulled back. Her brow knitted for a second, but the blue rays in her gray eyes glinted when she bit her lip and smiled at him. She picked up her bags.

“Anytime you need someone, I’m a phone call away,” Shawn half whispered, touching her arm. “I mean it.”

She reached for his hand, and he gave it a quick squeeze. “Okay.” She hurried up the porch steps and waved from her door’s threshold.

After waiting to make sure she was safely inside, Shawn pulled back onto the road. As he began to drive away, he thought he saw her watching him from her window.

He shouldn’t have let that happen. Yet he put his fingers to his lips, as if he could hold the kiss there longer.


Excerpt 2, chapter 23:
She shouldn’t have kissed him when he was just trying to be nice to her. For the past few days with hardly any contact, she wondered what had possessed her to do so.

Her train of thought was distracted by Timéo, the owner’s cousin. He stood at the table in his black button-down shirt and matching slacks, pen and pad readied to jot down their order. She rattled off in French what she and Shawn wanted.

“Is this handsome man your boyfriend?” he asked, still in French, raising his salt-and-pepper eyebrows.

“I’m not sure, but when I find out, you and Claudette will be among the first to know,” Pru replied in the same.

“Oui, bien.” He winked before he walked away.

Shawn smirked. “You just said you were barely passable in French.”

“Here, I’m usually fine. I’d be pretty lost in France though, I bet.”

“Have you ever been?” He twirled some cheese onto his spoon.

Pru nodded. “With my grandmother and uncle when I was eleven, for Uncle Barney’s business trip. Somewhere around the house is my little Eiffel Tower souvenir.” She smiled. “What about you? Have you been to Europe?”

“Nope. I’ve never even gotten a passport. Everyone keeps saying I should before I get back with…”

He shivered and trailed off, took a big spoonful of soup and looked like he nearly choked on it. Grabbing his wine glass, he took a few swallows.

An hour later, as they waited for their boxed leftovers, Pru had had enough of their evening-long, stiff, halting conversation. They’d gone stumbling gracelessly from topic to topic, with Shawn constantly looking down and frowning. She was shaking badly enough to have trouble holding her water glass in the end, but he hadn’t seemed to notice.

It was still light outside as they made their way down the cracked, weedy sidewalk toward their cars. They’d met here instead of coming together. They passed the older, less well-maintained brick stores, a 7-Eleven gas station, and a florist that had been in business since the thirties as they walked in tense silence. The humidity was mercifully light this evening, but something heavy hung in a thick cloud between and around them just the same. He hadn’t even held her hand or hugged her all evening.

When they reached the public parking lot, Pru stopped and looked at him. “You’re upset about something. Was it what happened when you drove me home a few days ago? I’m really sorry about that. I promise I’ll—”

“Me too.” Shawn shut his eyes and exhaled. “We shouldn’t have done that. I think we need to take a couple of steps backward.” He reached into his pocket and put on his mirrored sunglasses.

Pru gripped her upper arms and shivered. This was why they’d gone out in the first place, to somewhere neutral. In retrospect, this place had been a bad choice. What had she been thinking, suggesting a romantic atmosphere to ask for a platonic relationship? “Okay. I mean, yeah, you’re right.” She dug her fingers in hard enough to know she’d probably be bruised later.

He leaned back on his car, his hands hanging at his sides, shoulders slumped. “You told me you needed to try to be independent, and the thing is, I like you a lot, but my life’s pretty complicated right now.” He sounded tentative and resigned, and he wouldn’t look at her. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if you got hurt because I was careless.” The declaration came out as a half-whispered mumble.

“Shawn.” He lifted his head. She had no idea what she wanted to say next, even though she’d rehearsed the conversation in her head. All she could think about was the time he’d recited Robert Frost to her impromptu as a rainstorm began. His mouth was a tight, straight line. He inhaled with a small shudder, and she saw her distorted reflection. It seemed a perfect image of how she was feeling. “It’s all right. I was thinking the same thing for a similar reason, you just brought it up first. I like you a lot too, and I wasn’t sure how to say any of it without hurting you.”

He pulled the corners of his mouth back. “We’re on the same page, then. Are we good?”

Focusing on looking resolute as her legs and chest shook, she opened and closed her mouth a couple of times before she was able to get any sound out. “We’re absolutely fine,” she managed. “Except for that one thing, nothing’s really changed, has it? Two friends kissed for a minute. Not a big deal, right?”

“Of course not.” He smiled for real this time and hugged her. His chest was warm, and his heart was racing.

Pru shuddered and put all her energy into holding off tears. She stepped back, and they dropped their arms. “Okay,” she said. She walked around to her own driver’s side door and opened it.

Shawn got into his car. “I’ll see you around, Pru.”

This was for the best. This was what they both wanted. Nothing had changed.

She pretended to do something on her phone while she watched him drop his head back on his seat, shut his eyes, and then straighten, take a big breath, and drive away.

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