Summer Sunday, A Little Las Vegas, and Lake Taneycomo

From the summer desk of Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy overlooking a still, hot July day.......

It's the first day of July, a summer Sunday beneath cloudless skies with no chance of rain for at least a thousand miles or so.  Heat arrived early this season and came to stay.  For the second summer in a row, it seems heat records are breaking almost daily.  Dust rises to hang in the air and it's too hot to even swim beneath the brutal rays of the relentless sun.  The Fourth of July approaches here in the US but falls in the middle of the week which doesn't allow for much of a holiday weekend.  For my family, it's the vacation week for my husband's employer but between the heat and the holiday we haven't decided what - if anything - we may do.  Later this summer I plan a trip "home" to my native St. Joseph and in August, I hope to be in Los Angeles around the 23rd.

The heat wave interrupts my sitting out on my deck beneath a star spattered sky - it's just too hot even after dark.  So I drink my wines - at the moment I'm into reds - within the close confines of my house and dream about cooler seasons, other places.  Reading is an option and so I'm diving into some old favorite books, reading new novels, and reading several biographies.  I read both on my Kindle as well as traditional in hand books.

If you're like me and you'd like to escape to another time or place, maybe you'd like to explore my backlist. My tagline these days is I write from sweet to heat, contemporary to historical, time travel to suspense.  I have full length novels out there in the world, three in paperback and another coming out sometime this month.  I have shorter novellas too, a length for every preference. 

Maybe you'd like a little Las Vegas to while away the summer hours.  How about Las Vegas circa 1956 in the company of none other than the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley? Take a little taste and see if it tempts:

Long Live The King
May 7, 2012
Champagne Books

Lacie Logan is just another Delta raised beauty until her attempts at a movie
career fail and leave her working as a professional escort in Las Vegas. She
doesn't like it, but what's a girl to do? Then, during an unexpected
thunderstorm, she walks into a coffee shop and is suddenly back in April 1956.
When she meets Elvis Presley, she's sure she must be dreaming but when their
chance encounter becomes a full-blown romance, she realizes that she has the
chance to both win the King of Rock and Roll's heart and change history.


Back at her room, she began preparing for the show and last of all, she donned
the dress. The navy blue organdy fit her like a glove, sleeveless with a petal
neckline and a full skirt made stiff with the crinoline slip the sales clerk
insisted she must have. She sprayed the Tabu perfume she'd bought and donned the
shawl from the previous night, now dry, before taking her ticket and going down
to the show.

Entering the Venus Room felt surreal, like a vintage movie. Dozens of small
tables dotted the floor, facing the stage. Pink toned curtains covered the walls
and the sounds of conversation wafted toward her in waves. Thankful for the
dress that made her the equal of anyone in the crowd, Lacie slipped through the
tables to a small one on the far right side of the room. When a waiter appeared,
she ordered a Coke, wanting to keep her head clear so she could enjoy Elvis as
he performed. Cigarette smoke hung in the air above the tables and when Elvis
stepped on stage, few people stopped talking until he began to sing.
Lacie had listened to his voice all her life, first on scratchy old LPs, later
on CDs with no hiss or pop. She watched videos of him from his early years to
the last painful ones, but she had never seen him perform live. None of the
multiple biographies she read prepared her for the impact of Elvis live on
stage. Elvis, live, came across as awesome in the extreme and she loved it. As
expected, he shook his legs, twitched as if electricity made him dance, and
moved in his unique manner.

Even if he hadn't ignited a flame inside her with his kiss, she would've found
him sensual and sexy. In his stage persona, she glimpsed the kind, amusing, and
sometimes-quiet young man she was fast getting to know but on stage, he came
across larger than life, enhanced in a way she could not begin to explain or
define. Elvis on stage impacted her hard, hit her as deeply as his kiss in a
different way.

As Lacie watched, he gave himself to the crowd, gave with everything he had,
body and soul. Some ethereal magic shimmered between him and the audience
although, as he had told her, much of the crowd had no more than a lackluster
response. Lacie failed to understand because he fired and inspired her on every

The last song was his Heartbreak Hotel, always a plaintive, soulful song but it
was more poignant and sad now, sung just a few feet away. If she remembered
right, he had not yet released a record of the song but when it was out, it
would soar up the charts and be his biggest hit yet.
Although most of the time he kept his concentration fully on the song, Elvis
glanced at her several times, with the famous curl of his upper lip and a smile
teasing the edges of his mouth. That melted her heart all the more.
At the end, he pulled her up on the small stage and in front of the Vegas
audience, his band, and Colonel Parker, Elvis kissed her again. Although this
kiss lasted just seconds, she felt the same wild pull, the desperate need, and
the desire for more. Self-conscious of the lighting, the people, and Elvis's
entourage, Lacie blushed as the crowd, unmoved by the songs, went wild clapping
at that kiss.

"Thank you, thank you very much," he told the audience in his deep voice, both
humility, and gratitude genuine. Then Elvis took her by the hand and led her
from the stage while Colonel Parker glowered at them both. His band members
grinned as Elvis called back over his shoulder, "I'll see y'all tomorrow."
Outside, as a warm desert breeze ruffled through her hair and touched her bare
shoulders, Elvis sighed. "Baby, I'm glad it's over. It's hard working a crowd
like that one."

"You were awesome, though," Lacie said. She meant it, too. "On stage, you have
so much energy and power flowing out of you. I don't even know how to describe

Elvis went still as a rabbit poised just before taking flight before he spoke,
"But you like it."

His voice dropped down so quiet she struggled to hear as she replied,
"I loved it."

Elvis lifted his head and his grin was back, incandescent as the neon lights of
Vegas. "Good. You give me confidence, girl. I'm hungry--let's go eat."
He took her out for steak and eggs at the little coffee shop where they met.
Over eggs done just as good as her mama could make them and steak so tender she
really could cut it with her fork, she talked to Elvis. This Elvis wasn't the
icon she grew up with or the popular image but a real man, one with dreams and
desires and worries like anyone else. They talked until dawn broke over Vegas,
dimming the neon with the sun's natural splendor, and separated so they could

"I'd stay up anyhow," Elvis said, yawning as he walked her down the corridor to
her room. "But the Colonel's going to give me noise about it now. Go buy a
swimsuit and come down to the pool this afternoon. I will be there with Scotty,
DJ, and Bill--you can meet them. Okay, baby?"\
Link to Manic Readers Review

Coming August 3 from Rebel Ink Press:

After St. Louis TV weathercaster Cole Celinksi loses his almost estranged wife and three children in a car crash, his boss orders him to take a leave of absence.  He heads to the quiet side of Lake Taneycomo in the Ozarks, to a resort he visited as a child.  On arrival Cole learns that his old summer friend Maggie runs the place and before long mutual attraction ignites.  Before he can heal, he must learn to deal with his loss and to see if he can create a new family with Maggie and her children.  It’s a task he’s not sure he can handle but if he wants to be with Maggie, he must.  A near tragedy brings them all together into a close knit unit and afterward, Cole may be able to make his dreams reality.


Popular Posts