--Readers' Favorite Book Reviews

In glittery 1980's Los Angeles, once-famous Broadway lyricist Beau Kellogg is disillusioned, unhappily married and yearning for one last musical hit, while he writes advertising jingles for quick money. Meanwhile, idealistic young singer Amanda Harary works a demanding day job at a charming New York hotel.

 They weren't looking for each other... but what they find together is a once-in-a-lifetime understanding, impossible joy and piercing heartache... until they learn that some connections, however improbable, are meant to last forever.

STEALING FIRE is a story for romantics everywhere, who believe in the transformative power of love.

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eBook: $4.99

Paperback: $14.99



Autumn 1963

Her mother liked to sing show tunes to her, putting old records on her battered record player and singing along with the tinny recorded sounds of Broadway orchestras. She’d wanted to be a singer on the musical stage, her mother, but settled for marriage and children the first time it was offered and spent the rest of her life droning unhappily to her daughters about the opportunities she’d missed.

Still, in between complaints there was a lot of good music. Her mother’s voice was sweet and almost always on key, and she sang the words clearly, so even little Amanda understood what the song was about. By the time she was five she knew all of Rodgers & Hammerstein, not just the mammoth hits but also the more modest ones, like Flower Drum Song, right down to the flops no one remembered: Pipe Dream, Me & Juliet, Allegro. Even her mother was astounded at how accurately she could pipe the songs along with the records.

“I haven’t heard this in awhile. I used to love it,” her mother murmured, almost to herself, one rainy fall afternoon, as she took a long-playing black vinyl record from its cover and put it on the turntable.

Six-year-old Amanda wandered over to the table and picked up the album cover. The name of the show, The Life and Times, was printed in bold letters across the top, with a pencil sketch of a black top hat and neatly folded white gloves in the middle. A splashy yellow sun, its rays streaming diagonally, filled the rest of the cover. At the bottom were other names. Her mother had explained carefully that those were the people who made up the tunes and the words and the stories of the shows. Amanda glanced at these now, but could not quite sound them out; she was just spelling her way through the Dick & Jane books, and while she could read the title, these names were longer and harder. She forgot about them altogether, though, as the record began to play.

She loved it instantly.

“Again, Mommy, again!” she said excitedly when the first song ended.

Her mother shook her head. “Listen to the rest first.”

Amanda sat down on her favorite soft footstool near the big brown rocker and listened. She loved it all.

There was one song especially that she liked. It was about blowing bubbles:

“A prick in time, a pin to pop—

The bubbles burst, the glories stop.

So fragile is the joy of night—

Like bubbles bursting into flight.”

She didn’t understand the verse, but she sang along with the chorus:

“… Bubbles bursting, bursting bubbles…

Breaking dreams with every blow.

I’ll remember each dream burst

Till the final bubbles go.”

She didn’t really understand the song, but it seemed sad to her. She had bubble set, like most little girls, and sometimes, something hurt deep inside her when she watched a brightly-colored bubble pop, just out of the reach of her eager fingers. She thought she knew what the words meant.

As with most show scores, Amanda asked to hear the record again and again, till she’d memorized all the music, lyrics and orchestrations. As her reading skills improved, she also studied the names on the album cover. A few months later her older sister Josie, tossing a ball carelessly around the room, smashed the record as it was coming out of its cover, on its way to the turntable.

Amanda cried and asked her mother to please buy it again, please. Her mother explained regretfully that she had gotten it as a gift. The show had been a ‘flop’ years before, and no record store nearby had any copies to sell. No one was interested in buying it anymore.

Amanda cried harder and said she wanted to buy it; please couldn’t they take the money in her piggy bank and find a store that would sell it? Her mother said no, decisively now. There were no copies around, and Josie hadn’t meant to smash it; it was an accident. “Stop crying now, Amanda,” she said sharply.

She listened to her mother and stopped crying. And as the years went by, she learned many more show tunes—by Rodgers & Hart, Cole Porter, George Gershwin, Jule Styne, Frank Loesser and others.

But she never forgot the record album with the streaming sunrays and the top hat, or the song about bursting bubbles.