LASR Anniversary Scavenger Hunt: At Face Value by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Thanks for joining us on our 16th anniversary scavenger hunt! There are two ways to enter to win and it’s easy to play– first read the blurb below, then answer the question on the first Rafflecopter. You might win a $100 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC (along with other prizes). Follow and visit authors’ social media pages on the second Rafflecopter and you’re entered to win another $100 Amazon/BN GC (along with other prizes)!

His little niece calls him “Uncle Beast” after her favorite fairytale. Former Marine Nicholas Reilly, severely scarred from surviving a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, calls his isolated home “Beast’s Lair”. He’s reclusive, suffers from PTSD, and has a lonely existence until he meets Maribel Barbier, who goes by Belle. He rescues her after her car slides off the road during an ice storm and brings her home. Unlike any other woman, Belle sees the man behind the scars. Their attraction is there from the first night and deepens as they realize this is something more than either one expected. He battles PTSD but with Belle at his side, Nicholas learns to live a little more each day. They have more to overcome together than his PTSD but he comes to believe what Belle tells him – scarred or not, it’s just a face, it’s not the man. Together, they seek a future and a life where looks don’t matter at all.

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Winter Blogfest: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of a eBook or paperback copy of Scrooge And Marlee.

Scrooge and Marlee by Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

If there is one must-see Christmas movie for me, it’s A Christmas Carol.

There are many versions, and I will watch at least two of them. I’ll also reread Dickens’ novel – in time for Christmas Eve. That lifelong holiday favorite became the inspiration for one of my 2022 releases, Scrooge and Marlee from World Castle Publishing.

Most of my novels begin with a “what if?” question. Scrooge and Marlee is no different. One day, because I am a devoted fan of Dickens, I wondered what if someone had the surname Scrooge now, in the 21st century. And, what if that individual had been teased about it throughout his life, to the point he loathes the story and has refused to read it or watch one of the many movies based on the book. Then, I added to the intrigue by thinking what if he got a little miserly himself, so much that it affected his love life. Theo Scrooge, like the fictional Ebenezer, isn’t fond of Christmas. Any resemblance ends there for the chef and proprietor of Bah Humbug!.

That inspired me to write the two opening paragraphs and then the story grew from there…

” He wasn’t old and most of the time he wasn’t cranky but in one way he was like the fictional Ebenezer – Theo Scrooge disliked Christmas. He hadn’t always – as a child, he’d loved the holiday with all the traditions and trimmings, but as he grew up, that changed.

Theo didn’t care much for Charles Dickens, either. In lit classes, he’d been forced to read classics like Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities, but he balked at reading A Christmas Carol, taking a F on a class assignment in high school which brought his grade down by a full letter.  He wished the author had chosen any other surname for the miserly old character who had a life changing revelation after three ghosts came to set him straight. If Dickens had just called him Ebenezer Smith or Sands or Sims, things would have been different for Theo.”

The story is set in the lovely little Missouri town of Hermann, a small city with distinct German flavor. It’s one of my favorite places to visit and to stay for a few days – or longer. Some of my own German ancestors settled in the region, known as the Missouri Rhineland, before moving to other corners of the Show-Me State. Despite the ties to Christmas, it’s a story that can be enjoyed at any season, whether or not the reader is a fan of Charles Dickens! It’s available in eBook, hardback, paperback and audio – something for everyone!

Theo Scrooge, like the fictional Ebenezer, isn’t fond of Christmas. Any resemblance ends there for the chef and proprietor of Bah Humbug! but his love life is almost nonexistent until he meets a teacher who plans to relocate to the small German flavored town in the Missouri Rhineland.

When Marlee falls into the turbulent Missouri River, Theo rescues her. As their relationship grows, so do the obstacles in Theo’s life until his worries about making money and his profit margin overshadow their romance. He’s changed but it’s not an improvement. On the eve of Christmas, Marlee offers him an ultimatum and a copy of Dickens’ book to read. Whether or not Theo will reorganize his priorities will affect if Marlee and their love can both survive.

About the Author

From an early age, Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy scribbled stories, inspired by the books she read, the family tales she heard, and even the conversations she overheard at the beauty shop where her grandmother had a weekly standing appointment. She was the little girl who sat at the feet of the elders and listened.

As an author, she has published more than fifty novels and novellas writing as both Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy and as Patrice Wayne for historical fiction. She is also the author of a new Faery Folk series from Evernight Publishing writing as Liathán O’Murchadha. Her books are found in many places, online and in brick-and-mortar stores including some in both Ireland and Australia. As of October 2022, she currently has six upcoming titles from World Castle Publishing, Evernight Publishing and The Wild Rose Press.

She spent her early career in broadcast radio, interviewing everyone from politicians to major league baseball players and writing ad copy. In those radio years she began to write short stories and articles, some of which found publication. In 1994 she married Roy Murphy and they had three children, all now grown-up. She was widowed in 2019. Lee Ann spent years in the newspaper field as both a journalist and editor and was widowed in 2019.

She teaches 7th and 8th graders each Sunday at church.  In late 2020, she hung up her editor’s hat to return to writing fiction. A native of St. Joseph, Missouri, she lives and works in the rugged, mysterious, and beautiful Missouri Ozarks.

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Winter Blogfest: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win one eBook copy of Coal Black Blues AND a special ornament so that the winner can start their own tradition and collection!

Decorating the Tree

Decorating the tree is not a simple event in my house. Before we can begin, I must unpack several boxes of special ornaments, some dating back to my childhood and earlier. My mother began the custom when I was a baby and it has continued to add my siblings and my children. Her inspiration was a hand-blown bird ornament that traveled with my great-grandfather from Germany that we always hung near the top of the tree. As I unwrap each ornament, I find a memory. These days, I also have ornaments for those who are no longer with us and for a few special friends.

Since  real life often inspires my fiction, I thought I would share an excerpt from my novel, Coal Black Blues

 Caroline unpacked the decorations her grandmother had packed away. Most were wrapped in bits of tissue paper or newspaper, but as each one emerged, she would exclaim with delight. The oldest ones were a set of stars and snowflakes that dated to her great-grandparents’ time. Only a few remained and so each was a treasure from the past. Dime-store garlands decked the evergreen with still bright colors. Fragile glass balls were hung beside straw-haired angels and homemade cookies, made with salt instead of sugar. Each one had been hand painted with a hole for a piece of yarn to thread into a loop to hang on a branch. There were a few hand-whittled ornaments Caroline’s grandfather and great-grandfather had made at leisure and several hand-crocheted bells in vivid dark green. Preserved pine cones had been kept, and paper chains Caroline had made in childhood were still intact. Rob, at Neil’s insistence, had bought two boxes of large, multi-colored lights and before he settled into the recliner, Neil twined them through the branches of the cedar.

Caroline crowned the tree with the homemade star that had graced the top of many Christmas trees in the Reaburn family. Her great-grandfather had carved it from a piece of walnut and hollowed out enough to fit on the top branch. Someone had painted it white, and although it could use a touch-up coat, it remained beautiful. Last, she opened the boxes of traditional red-and-white striped candy canes, another item on Neil’s shopping list, and hung them on various branches. When she finished, she stepped back to admire the tree.
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“It’s perfect.”

A death in the family and a divorce brought Caroline Reaburn back to the mountains of West Virginia, to her hillbilly heritage and Coaltown. Prepared to start over in a familiar place, Caroline never expected her first love, Neil McCullough, to come back into her life. Twenty years earlier, Caroline’s family moved away, breaking the relationship and both their hearts.

From the first time Caroline meets Neil again, it’s obvious that they still have a connection. But Neil has scars, inside and out, and carries a lot of emotional baggage. There’s no doubt about the love they share but they have many obstacles to overcome, everything from Neil’s PTSD to a community tragedy. It’s a long, rocky road but if anyone can manage to find happiness, it’s Neil and Caroline.


Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy is the community editor and reporter for two newspapers in southwest Missouri. Her fiction is written from the heart and deals with everyday people often caught up in extraordinary circumstances. She writes from sweet to heat and is currently working on a new novel.

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