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Monday, October 24, 2022

Just Like Family by Barbara Casey - Book Tour - Guest Post - Giveaway - Enter Daily!

Hi, lovelies!!  It gives me great pleasure today to host Barbara Casey and her new book, “Just Like Family,” here on FAB!!  For Barbara’s other stops on her Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour, please click on the banner above or any of the images in this post.

Be sure to make it to the end of this post to enter to win a $25 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card!!  Also, come back daily to interact with Barbara and to increase your chances of winning!!

Thanks for stopping by!!  Wishing you all lots of good luck in this fabulous giveaway!!

Just Like Family

by Barbara Casey


GENRE:  Contemporary Romance



All in one day, thirty-five-year-old Hallie Marsh learns that the man she loves, works for, and is living with has found someone else and that she no longer has a job or a place to live.  She is also involved in a car accident.  She retreats to her parents' home in the northern part of Florida to be consoled and to decide what to do with the rest of her life only to find out that her mother is planning to leave her father for another man.  Embittered, filled with anger, and wanting revenge, Hallie decides to take a year's sabbatical and write a novel that would reveal the unethical, if not illegal, real estate business practices of her former boss and lover.

Determined and focused, Hallie buys a house in the neighborhood where her two best friends and former co-workers live:  Carol Mathews and Gordon Sebastian Cooney.  It is through Gordon and Carol that Hallie comes to know four neighbors, one of whom is Carol's Vietnamese mother who carries a doll and talks into reflective surfaces.  These four neighbors--Cora, Suong, Charlie, and Vince--are all elderly, peculiar, and alone at this stage in their lives until Vince comes up with a plan:  The four of them will form an alliance, buy the old Braswell estate which is located just down the road, fix it up, and live in it almost like family.  Hallie is fascinated by these four people, and rather than write a tell-all book she begins writing about their alliance.  With this new focus and the friendship of Carol and Gordon, Hallie overcomes her feelings of rage, she is able to cope with her mother's sudden death, and she finds true love.



Cora wasn’t able to sleep a wink for thinking about all that Vince and Charlie had talked about.  That and all those chips she had eaten while visiting with Suong the day before.  She even thought about calling Suong on the telephone at some point and asking her to come over right then.  But she decided against it owing to the lateness of the hour and thinking, also, it might be better to plan out what she was going to say to Suong when she came over this morning.  And she needed to bake some more cookies anyway.  Now in the light of a new day she was glad that she had waited to talk to Suong.  After all, she had just met her, and Cora wasn’t sure how she would take to the idea, being Vietnamese and all.  But Suong had seemed open-minded enough during the brief time Cora spent with her, and Cora had gotten the definite feeling when visiting with her that Suong really didn’t want to live with her daughter and son-in-law.  Situations like that were usually difficult at best.

She opened the vertical blinds on her front window to the position where they stood straight out and she could see anything that moved within a two-block radius.  Then she hobbled back to her chair and sat for several minutes thinking and vigorously kneading the necks of KittyPussy.  Vince and Charlie had certainly presented her with an interesting proposition, but they were expecting Cora to come up with another woman to join them.  Cora knew a lot of women, but none she would dare approach with such an idea.  Suong was different.  The funny way she dressed for one thing, and that pitiful excuse for a doll she drug around with her everywhere she went.  But she also had a strong streak of independence that Cora had recognized immediately.  Cora respected that.  Suong was a little forgetful at times, but as far as that goes, so was Cora.  She was forever forgetting where she had placed her eyeglasses.  Suong could sew, too.  She made all of her own clothes and Ngoc Tuyet’s.  And she was smart.  It hadn’t taken her any time to figure out what was going on in the stories.  In fact, Cora really liked Suong.  So no matter what, Suong would have to agree to the plan as well or Cora wouldn’t go along with it.

She reached for the pad of paper and pencil she kept on the table next to her chair for the purpose of making notes to herself.  Vince apparently had plenty of money.  Charlie, on the other hand, had nothing but a little income from a retirement fund coming in each month.  Cora had her hefty monthly alimony, some insurance, and some savings.  Even though Suong didn’t tell her a whole lot about it, Cora figured that she was getting some sort of payment from the government each month, like a death benefit maybe from her late husband or an annuity.  It probably wasn’t much, but it wouldn’t take much to live on if the house was paid for and the four of them split up all of the expenses.  Suong’s contribution would be her sewing.  And judging from the appearance of Vince and Charlie, there would be plenty of that.  Cora could do what she loved—cooking.  Charlie would take care of the yard.  And Vince would keep things fixed as well as put up the money for buying the house and any initial repairs.  And, as he explained it, the property would be listed in each of their names in equal shares.  If one of them died, that share would be divided among the others.

Cora could feel the excitement bubble inside of her.  Of course she wanted to see the property.  Vince had explained that it was big enough for each of them to have all of the privacy they needed, and that with a little paint and wallpaper and a few new downspouts, and maybe some shutters, he could make it into a showplace.  But Cora believed that houses put out auras just like people.  There were friendly houses and there were unfriendly houses.  And she sure didn’t want to spend the rest of her life in an unfriendly house.  She would be able to tell once she walked through it as to which kind of house it was.  And then, assuming the house had a friendly aura, and Suong was agreeable, and the four of them felt like they could get along with each other all living under the same roof, then it might work out.

No one had mentioned furniture.  Cora knew that Suong had very little, and she suspected that Charlie had rented his apartment already furnished.  Vince had his own, because Cora had watched him move it from his house into the apartment he rented.  Of course, she had her lovely antiques plus all of that furniture still in storage.  Some of it had been her mother’s.  So that along with Vince’s furniture and what she had in her own apartment would go a long way toward furnishing a house.  That is, if its aura was good, of course.

Cora heard Suong’s tiny little shuffling steps.  A glance out the verticals confirmed it.  By the time Suong reached the front door, Cora was there inviting her and Ngoc Tuyet to come in.  Smiling, Suong presented Cora with the hanky she had made.  After several minutes of thank you’s and you shouldn’t have’s, exclamations over Suong’s wonderful sewing talents and generous nature, and reassurances that Suong suffered no difficulty in finding Cora’s apartment, Cora positioned Suong and her doll on the sofa where Vince had made his offer the day before.  Not wanting Suong to be distracted while she talked, she waited while first Kitty, then Pussy, growled at Ngoc Tuyet, smelled her, and eventually settled down next to her.  Then she threw out, in a manner of speaking, the whole idea.  For unlike Vince who felt as a gentleman he must cloak the plan in such a way as not to offend the genteel lady from the South, Cora simply blurted out everything as she understood it, as one mature woman to another looking for something better in life than to spend her remaining days living alone in the Palm View apartments.

There were a few things, owing to the different cultures and backgrounds of the two ladies, that were confusing to Suong.  For even though she had learned to speak the English language and used it fairly efficiently, an occasional phrase or expression, or perhaps an unusual word, would sometimes give her difficulty—words such as alliance, fishy, aura, and diuretic.  But, undaunted, Cora shoved on until the whole matter was as clear to Suong as it was to Cora, even up to the point of what Cora was planning to serve all of them for lunch the next day before driving over to “the property” to look at it.  And it was to Cora’s great delight that Suong too liked the idea.



Using Emotion to Develop a Scene

In my novel Just Like Family, there is a feeling of light-heartedness and humor resulting from the personalities of the characters but also because quite often life’s most serious moments can produce a giggle (often inappropriate) or a moment of happiness and relief. Vince, Charlie, Cora, and Suong find themselves struggling in their later years, each living alone, and trying to face life’s challenges. When they decide to buy an old mansion, fix it up, and live in it together just like family, there are naturally adjustments to be made. But these people understand that this is the best thing that can happen to them. They adjust; they accept each other totally; and they are happy because of it.

Naturally, there are problems to crop up. Because life always produces challenges, there is a scene in the book where Vince, the alpha male in the foursome, after a particularly stressful day, suffers a heart attack. Cora is the only one equipped mentally to handle the situation, and she takes charge by telling Charlie and Suong what they must do. The entire event still brings tears to my eyes, and I would like to share it with you.


     Cora served lunch in the dining room the way she had planned, but it wasn't a very happy occasion.  No matter how much Suong told them it wasn't their fault, Vince, Charlie, and Cora felt they had let their friend down by somehow offending Carol.  After eating about half of what he normally ate, Vince excused himself, saying he felt a little tired and thought he would go take a nap.  Charlie mumbled something about needing to water the plants in his room and followed Vince up the stairs.  Suong and Cora sat in silence at the table staring at the dirty dishes and uneaten food.  Suddenly they heard Charlie yell.  Cora threw down her napkin and hurried up the stairs with Suong right behind her.  Charlie ran out of Vince's room waving his arms.

     "Hurry.  Somethin's wrong with Vince!  Oh, gawd," said Charlie, wringing his hands and hopping from one foot to the other.

     Vince was lying on his bed gasping for breath.  His face was an ugly red and his hands were clawing at the sheet.

     "Go call 9ll, Suong, and tell them to send an ambulance to the old Braswell home off of State Road 9," Cora said as soon as she saw Vince.  Suong ran out of the room.

     "Loosen his belt and trousers, Charlie," ordered Cora, and she began feeling inside Vince's pants pockets.

     "Oh gawd," Charlie kept repeating, and he was trembling all over.  Finally after several attempts he managed to get the snap undone on Vince's trousers.

     "I can't find his bottle of nitroglycerin pills," said Cora now fumbling in Vince's shirt pocket.  "Loosen his tie and open his shirt, Charlie," she told him and she rushed into Vince's bathroom.  A few seconds later she ran back into the bedroom carrying a little brown bottle.  Charlie had unbuttoned Vince's shirt and taken off his tie.

     "We gotta do somethin'," Charlie yelled. "Cora!"

     Cora emptied out two small white pills into her hand and tried to open Vince's mouth.  But his teeth were clenched tightly together, and he was holding his breath.

     "Oh, sweet Jesus, Cora, we gotta do somethin'," Charlie repeated frantically.

     Suong, who had gone to get Ngoc Tuyet after calling 9ll, now ran back into the room.  She stood on the other side of the bed crushing Ngoc Tuyet in her arms.

     "Charlie, now you listen to me."  Cora grabbed his arm.  "We must get Vince's mouth open so I can put these pills under his tongue.  Do you understand?"

     Charlie put his hand under Vince's jaw and poked his thumb between his lips, but he couldn't get Vince's mouth open.  Cora stood ready with the two pills in her hand.  He pressed harder, trying to work his thumb between Vince's teeth.  Still he couldn't get Vince's mouth open.  The veins on Vince's neck and temples started swelling.

     "Charlie!" yelled Cora.

     "Breathe you son of a bitch," yelled Charlie.  "Breathe!"

     Just then Vince slowly let his breath out, and when he did, he relaxed his jaw muscles.  It was just slightly, but Charlie felt it.  He immediately jammed his thumb between Vince's upper and lower teeth and held it there until Cora could slip the pills under Vince's tongue.  In the distance they could hear a siren.  Suong ran downstairs to open the front door.

     After several minutes the three members of the emergency crew managed to get a heartbeat and moved Vince from the bed onto a stretcher.  Cora rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital.  Charlie and Suong followed behind in the pickup.  Once they got to the hospital, Cora, Charlie, and Suong had to wait in a separate room while the doctor worked on Vince.  After an hour, the doctor came in and told them that Vince had been taken into surgery for an emergency bypass.

     They waited four more hours, sitting and holding hands, and taking turns holding Ngoc Tuyet.  Finally, the doctor came back in and told them Vince was out of immediate danger.  The operation had been successful, he felt, but he would know more after a couple of days.  Vince would be kept in recovery for the rest of the night.  They would be able to see him the next day.  There was nothing else they could do for now.

     Charlie, Cora, and Suong drove back home too exhausted to even talk.  It was well past midnight when they finally got there.  Wearily they all went upstairs to their rooms.

     Cora dressed for bed and crawled between the cool sheets.  She tried to go to sleep, but her eyes wouldn't stay closed.  She felt so frightened and helpless and weak.  Vince was the strong one of the alliance.  Without him . . .  There was a light tap on her door.  Cora turned on the lamp next to her bed.

     "Come in," she said.

     Suong opened the door and shuffled over to Cora's bed.

     "Is fine if Ngoc Tuyet and Suong asleep with you?" asked Suong.

     "Of course it is," said Cora.  "I don't much feel like sleeping by myself either."

     Suong slipped under the covers, placing Ngoc Tuyet between her and Cora so that the doll could share the pillow.  Cora tucked the covers around Suong and Ngoc Tuyet and turned out the light.  Then she lay there, staring into the darkness.  In a few minutes there was another tap on the door.  Cora raised up on one elbow and turned the lamp back on.

     "Come in," she said.

     Charlie opened the door and hovered there, his eyes filled with tears and KittyPussy doing figure eights around his legs.

     "It's all right, Charlie," said Cora.  "You can sleep in here with us tonight."

     Charlie climbed in next to Cora and turned on his side.  He didn't want the women to see him crying.  Cora reached over him and once more turned off the lamp. She pulled the blanket up around Charlie's shoulders and kissed the back of his head.

     "Good night, Charlie," she said, and once again she lay in the darkness.

     And then, quietly, Suong began to sing,

     Con oi hay ngu cho ngoan me thuong,

     Baby goes to sleep, so Momma loves you.

     Niem chiem bao con no doi moi dep xinh.

     In your dreams you have a little smile.


     Something she remembered from her childhood when she lived in the small village with the river nearby,

     Nhieu mong lanh hom nay se den voi con,

     May many sweet dreams come to you,


     before the plane came trailing the white smoke.

     Nhu binh minh len sang tuoi,

     Just like a beautiful sunrise,

     Con uui ay long me uui.

     You are happy, so I am happy.


  When she finished, Cora closed her eyes.  This time she was able to sleep.



Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels and book-length works of nonfiction for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories. Several of her books have been optioned for major films and television series.

In addition to her own writing, Barbara is an editorial consultant and president of the Barbara Casey Agency. Established in 1995, she represents authors throughout the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Japan.

In 2018 Barbara received the prestigious Albert Nelson Marquis Lifetime Achievement Award and Top Professional Award for her extensive experience and notable accomplishments in the field of publishing and other areas.

Barbara lives on a mountain in Georgia with three cats who adopted her: Homer, a Southern coon cat; Reese, a black cat; and Earl Gray, a gray cat and Reese’s best friend.









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Barbara will be awarding a $25 Amazon OR Barnes and Noble Gift Card (Winner’s Choice!!!) to a randomly drawn winner via Rafflecopter during the tour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

**This post contains affiliate links and if clicked and a purchase is made, I may receive a small commission to help support this blog.  This does not cost you anything, it just helps pay for all those fabulous community outreach projects and awesome giveaways on here**

This contest is sponsored by a third party. Fabulous and Brunette is a registered host of Goddess Fish Promotions.  Prizes are given away by the sponsors and not Fabulous and Brunette. The featured author and Goddess Fish Promotions are solely responsible for the giveaway prize.


  1. Ally, it is wonderful to visit with you again. Thank you so very much for following my books and for your interest. I wish you and your bloggers all my best. ~Barbara

    1. Barbara ~ Good morning!! Welcome back to FAB!! It is always a pleasure to have you here!! Congrats on your new book and good luck on the book tour!! :)

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, Rita. I am so happy you are following this tour of my new book.

  3. Replies
    1. It is beautiful, isn't it? It is the artist's concept of "after" - once my characters were able to renovate an old mansion into their home.

  4. I really like the cover and think the book looks good.

    1. Thank you, Sherry. I hope you get a chance to read it.

  5. I love the cover reminds me of home...

    1. Thank you, Michele. It reflects the love and respect four elderly people develop for each other in spite of being from totally different backgrounds and their conflicting personalities.

  6. I enjoyed the guest post, Babara and Just Like Family sounds like a great book to read! Good luck with your book and the tour!

    Thanks for sharing it with me and have a terrific day!

  7. That is so nice of you, Stormy. I always enjoy being a guest on Fabulous and Brunette especially because I meet such nice people. Thank you for your comment.