The Marriage Pact
(2011), Regrets Only (2012), and Baggage Check (2013)
M.J. (Manda) Pullen studied English Literature and Business at the
University of Georgia in Athens, and later Professional Counseling at
Georgia State University in Atlanta. She practiced psychotherapy for
five years before taking time off for writing and raising her two
young boys. Since high school, she has also been an executive
assistant, cashier, telemarketer, professional fundraiser, marketing
guru, magazine writer, grant-writer, waitress, box-packer, HR person,
and casual drifter.
She reads and writes across many genres, and learns something
from everything she does. No matter what she’s writing, M.J.
believes that love is the greatest adventure there is, and that
hopeless romantics are never really hopeless.
She loves to hear from readers and
other writers – so drop her a line!
Author Links -
One set of autographed paperback copies
of the Marriage Pact trilogy (winner can choose a custom inscription
for the first book). US Only, Ebook International
Book Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Flourish Publications (Self)
Release Date: June 2011
Marci Thompson always knew what life
would be like by her 30th birthday. A large but cozy
suburban home shared with a charming husband and two brilliant
children. A celebrated career as an established writer, complete with
wall-to-wall mahogany shelves and a summer book tour. A life full of
adventure with her friends and family by her side.
Instead, Marci lives alone in 480
square feet of converted motel space next to a punk rock band,
hundreds of miles from her friends and family. She works in a
temporary accounting assignment that has somehow stretched from two
weeks into nine months. And the only bright spot in her life, not to
mention the only sex she’s had in two years, is an illicit affair
with her married boss, Doug. Thirty is not at all what it is cracked
up to be.
Then the reappearance of a cocktail
napkin she hasn’t seen in a decade opens a long-forgotten door,
and Marci’s life gets complicated, fast. The lines between right
and wrong, fantasy and reality, heartache and happiness are all about
to get very blurry, as Marci faces the most difficult choices of her
her mind, she had ended it a thousand times. She would spend hours
rehearsing three versions of the parting speech:
I can’t do this anymore. Neither of us intended this to happen, but
it has to stop. I love you [should
she say that?], but
I can’t be responsible for breaking up a marriage, however unhappy
it might be. I deserve better than this. I need someone free to make
a life with me, and you are not. I know in my heart that part of you
still loves Cathy, and I think you should return to her and really
invest in your marriage.”
Doug. This has been wonderful; it really has. But it’s wrong and
it’s been wrong from the start. It’s tearing me apart. I am not
an adulteress; I deserve to be more than ‘the other woman.’ I
can’t live with myself for another day this way, and I can’t let
you do it, either. Go back to your wife, your home, the life that you
chose all those years ago. I will treasure our time together and you
have my word that I will never tell anyone about us.”
and generally pissed off:
your little weekend getaway with your wife gave me time to get
clarity and realize that I am better than this situation, and better
than you. If you loved me, you would no longer be married. If you
loved your wife, you would not be with me. You act like this is
torture for you, but really you’re just a typical cheating
sleazebag who wants to have his cake and eat it, too. I want you out
of my life forever. If you try to speak to me again, I will call
Cathy and tell her everything. Get out.”
last version was the most emotionally satisfying. She would march
into work armed with these words, confident, resolute and ready to
take back her life.
she saw him. She’d find a sticky note on her keyboard: “It was
awful. I missed you.” Or he would pick her up at lunch, and instead
of going back to her place, they would drive to the top of Mount
Bonnell and look over the Texas hill country and talk. She would
feebly threaten to end it, crying pathetically and remembering none
of her kickass speeches.
they limped along in a relationship netherworld—not together, not
apart, each day full of the twin possibilities of limitless passion
or goodbye forever. With stacks of invoices and mindless tasks in
front of her each day, Marci had entirely too much time to
contemplate both ends of the spectrum.
was no different, except for the fact that she was officially no
longer wasting her late twenties in a hopeless relationship. Thirty
had arrived, and a new decade was waiting. And there was an e-mail
Book Genre: Women’s
Publisher: Flourish Publications (Self)
Release Date: July 2012
At thirty-three, Suzanne Hamilton has
it all. A successful party-planning business with an elite
client list. A swank condo in a hot Atlanta neighborhood and a
close group of friends – especially her longtime best friend Marci.
A list of men a mile long who have tried to win her heart and failed.
Plus, she’s just landed the event that will take her career and
social status to the next level. What could she possibly have to
Then a freak accident changes
everything, and Suzanne discovers that her near-perfect life is just
a few steps away from total disaster. She is humiliated and at
risk of losing it all… except the surprising support of her newest
celebrity client. With nothing else to go on, Suzanne follows
him into an unexpected job and unfamiliar territory. Soon she will
question everything – her career, her past, her friendships, and
even her own dating rules.
But when her catalog of past
relationships turns into a list of criminal suspects, she is faced
with the horrifying possibility that she may not live to regret any
smiled broadly at him, remembering to show her teeth the way she’d
been instructed before beauty pageants as a child. She could almost
taste the Vaseline her mother made her rub on her top teeth to ensure
they didn’t get smudged with lipstick. Smile.
returned the smile with warmth. He also seemed to notice he’d been
talking about himself for too long. “So tell me how you got started
in the party planning business.”
recounted briefly how she had been an art history major at the
University of Georgia, desperately wanted to work as a museum
curator, and how she’d taken the job on the event staff at the High
Museum right after college. “Originally, I hoped the foot in the
door at the museum would land me a job in procurement or something,
but it never happened.”
I’m sorry,” Rick said sympathetically.
shrugged. It turned out she had a knack for event planning. Something
about the combination of creativity and crisis response. After a
couple of years at the High, she had been hired away by a large event
planning agency. She stayed there for a few years before creating her
own boutique agency. Now she had one of the most successful,
prestigious agencies in the city. People were often shocked to
discover she and Chad were the only permanent staff. “We actually
won an award last year,” she told Rick.
like you are quite the little rock star in the event planning world,”
he said. “Or do you just plan events for rock stars?”
very discreet about her clients, Suzanne couldn’t resist the
opportunity to brag a little. “Actually, I am doing a benefit in a
couple of weeks for Dylan Burke. Of course, he’s more a country
I was kidding about the whole rock star thing.”
Southern lady is always modest,
her mother’s voice chided her. “Well, it’s not that big of a
deal,” Suzanne hedged. “It’s at my old stomping grounds at the
High, which is probably why I got the job.”
sell yourself short,” Rick countered enthusiastically. “That’s
awesome. He’s totally famous.”
waved away the words with a manicured hand, but Rick was undeterred.
“Seriously, you should be really proud of yourself. That’s a huge
deal. Obviously you’ve earned quite a reputation for someone like
Dylan Burke to choose you.”
eyes held hers sincerely. Okay,
Rick, ease up. We’ve already slept together. You can dial it down a
his manager chose me. I haven’t actually met him yet. We’ll see
how it turns out,” she said, and pretended to be engrossed in the
highlights of spring training on the TV over the bar. “How do you
think the Braves will do this year?”
Book Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
Publisher: Flourish Publications (Self)
Release Date: November 2013
At thirty-five, Rebecca Williamson is
surrounded by happy endings. Her friends Suzanne and Marci are
living out their own personal fairy tales in Atlanta, Georgia. But
despite Rebecca’s best efforts four years ago, her adorable college
friend Jake Stillwell has officially slipped through her fingers and
broken her heart. Even though her job as a flight attendant fits
perfectly with her orderly nature, and brings her into contact with
lots of eligible men, she can’t seem to find a man who is Jake’s
Then a frantic phone call from her
mother in Oreville, Alabama turns Rebecca’s structured life on its
ear. She will find herself back in the tiny town she worked so hard
to leave behind, and thrown together with Deputy Alex Chen, a face
from the past who’s made it clear he thinks of Rebecca as more than
just an old friend’s kid sister.
But Alex is nothing like what Rebecca
had in mind; and in the meantime, she has other battles to fight,
including her painful family history. Can she navigate the chaos and
get her life back to normal? Will Alex prove himself to be the friend
she's always needed? Or will she discover that the door to Jake is
not as tightly closed as she thought?
Williamson picked up a smooth, rust-colored clay bowl for the fifth
time in as many minutes. She ran her hand along the sloping curve
from the base to the rim, and then bounced it lightly in her arms for
heft. It was two pounds, she decided. Maybe two and a half once they
had wrapped it for the plane. She put it down again and stepped back
to look at the rest of the artist’s display, dusting her hands
just buy it already!” Valerie said from a few feet away. “I’ve
gotten married after shorter courtships than you’re having with
don’t need it,” Rebecca said.
would look nice on your kitchen table. You never buy anything,
Becky.” Valerie had been calling her “Becky” since she joined
the airline three years before. For the first several months, Rebecca
had corrected her. Now she just accepted it.
would I do with it?” Rebecca said. “I mean, you can’t serve
food in it, not that I ever cook anyway. I don’t have anything to
store in it. And I’m never home to look at how my apartment is
decorated. How is a red clay bowl necessary?”
rolled her eyes and patted Rebecca’s shoulder with a veined hand.
“Life needs beauty, doll. Every girl should have something
beautiful and useless in her life. Like my first husband, for
example. That man was pure eye candy, but the poor idiot couldn’t
change a light bulb.”
laughed. She had never asked outright how many husbands Valerie had
been through, but her current guess was four, and at least two of
them had been pilots. Valerie was in her late sixties, ancient by
flight attendant standards, and a legend among all the younger women
they worked with. Rebecca had been paired with her during the first
week of training and they had flown together more often than not
since then. At first, Rebecca had resisted becoming Valerie’s
protégé, but through sheer force of will and nonstop chatter,
Valerie had become Rebecca’s only real friend at work. Tonight,
they were in an artists’ co-op in New Mexico, killing time during
an overnight layover.
you ready to go to the bar?” Rebecca asked her.
your hurry?” Valerie said. “You never take anything home from
start with that.”
Come on, you know I’m right. And don’t use me for an excuse,
either. I may be an old lady but I know how to make myself scarce
when I see a brassiere on the doorknob.”
aproned woman behind the counter looked up, smirking.
Rebecca hushed. But even she could not help but smile at the way
Valerie said “brassiere on the doorknob” in her New York accent.
Rebecca herself had never used this signal, but it had been a
frequent sight in the sorority house at the University of Georgia.
She tried to imagine finding one of Valerie’s big beige
contraptions hanging on their hotel room door and shuddered.
to go?” she asked again.
alright,” Valerie said. “Just let me add this to my collection.”
She held up a blue-glazed mug that had been formed to look like the
squished-down face of an old man.
of Rebecca’s coworkers kept little collections from places they
visited—postcards, spoons, shot glasses, snow globes, you name it.
There was a sort of unspoken code that it was only acceptable to
collect items from cities you had truly visited, meaning you had to
leave the airport for more than a couple of hours. Even so, Rebecca
could not understand this tradition. Yes, it was cute in the moment,
but they went so many places. What did you do with all that
crap? Put it in a box so you could re-live your glory days of passing
out peanuts? Have it gather dust on the shelves while other people
pretended to be interested at parties?
or twice, something had caught Rebecca’s eye, particularly when
they flew to exotic locations. A tiny but exquisite crystal vase from
Waterford in Ireland. Hand-carved candlesticks painted black and
inlaid with gold in Toledo, Spain. A set of Russian dolls in Moscow.
Each time, she had stood paralyzed in the gift shop, debating why she
needed this thing and where she would put it and how often she would
really look at it. Then she would sigh, and to the dismay of each
patient shop owner, return the item to the shelf and walk out. Except
for an irresistible silk scarf from Milan and an emergency t-shirt
she’d been forced to buy in New York, Rebecca had not bought
souvenirs anywhere. Once in a while she regretted this, but never for
long. She would deposit the amount of the foregone purchase into her
savings account with satisfaction and move on. Always move on.