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Sleight of Mind
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ISBN-10: 1-55404-272-0
Genre: Romance/Mystery
eBook Length: 270 Pages
Published: July 2005

From inside the flap

While working a smuggling case for Astute Investigations, Denver detective Wil Bregon is drawn to San Franciscoís rollicking Barbary Coast. Formerly an Eastern lawyer and experienced gun for hire, Wilís not daunted by outlaws and ruffians or prowling foggy dockside taverns. But he isn?t prepared for ghostly visitations from his dead wife or finding himself powerfully attracted to a young blonde who bears a noticeable resemblance to his late spouse. Harmonie Ashlar is a charlatan, a girl with a local reputation for staging pranks for monetary gain. Is she purposely masquerading as Wilís deceased wife as part of some confidence scheme? Has someone paid her to threaten Wilís sanity, or is his own imagination playing tricks on him, in an eerie, inexplicable Sleight of Mind? Wil Bregon seems to be everything Harmonie has always yearned for: a man whoís handsome, resourceful, rugged, and shrewd. Heís also deeply troubled?and there is someone watching the pair. Someone willing to do anything to keep them apart. Caught in a web of deceit, can Harmonie and Wil escape the danger looming over them and the lingering phantom of Wilís turbulent past?

Reviews and Awards

Sleight of Mind is an engaging mystery with a subtle twist that the reader almost overlooks. Ms. Biondine has penned an enthralling whodunit with her own unique twist. She has portrayed Hermonie as strong progressive female who has perhaps found the man of her dreams and is undecided as to whether or not the rewards equal the hard work such a relationship will require. Wil is an unsettled soul, haunted by the past. He has become a jack-of-all-trades in order to outrun his own perceived misdeeds. Sleight of Mind had me completely boggled trying to figure out who or what was behind Wilís mysterious incidents concerning Noelle. This is another excellent addition to the tried and true world of mystery.

Reviewed by: Joletta

Harmonie is on her way from stopping a wedding when she runs smack dab into P.I. Will Bregon. She is notorious for getting paid to perform pranks that stop weddings from taking place. He is tracking down some jewel thieves, on the run from the law. They both end up thrown in jail for their shenanigans. She is attracted to him, although she tries to deny the fact even to herself. He can?t get over how much she resembles his dead wife.

Their predicament is even further complicated when he begins getting visits from his dead wife. What is she trying to tell him? Who is this woman that so shockingly resembles his dead wife, and what does she want from him? Is Will being deceived by Harmonie? Harmonie is attracted to Will, he is everything that she has ever wanted in a man, yet he is haunted by his dead wife. He doesn?t believe that she isn?t out to deceive him. Can Harmonie convince Will that she is who she says she is, and that they can overcome his past? Why is someone out to get them, and how far will they go to succeed?

SLEIGHT OF MIND is an amusing read with an undertone of paranormal romance. The characters are funny and slightly madcap, while the storyline is rich with all of the elements necessary for a good romantic read. There is a little bit of everything in this one, zany characters, an interesting storyline and an unstoppable romance. A thoroughly enjoyable read that leaves nothing out.

Reviewed by Ansley Velarde for The Road to Romance

Sleight of Mind (Excerpt)

- Chapter 1 -

San Francisco, California
Spring, 1888

Harmonie Ashlar slipped unnoticed into the back of the Methodist church. All eyes focused on the couple in front, every ear strained to hear the ministerís words as he performed the marriage ceremony. Harmonie plumped the front of her dress and waited for her cue.

Then it came. The obligatory moment when the minister asked the rhetorical question, and glanced out at the assembly, saying, "Speak now or forever hold your peace."

Harmonie lumbered forward. "I know of a danged good reason!" she asserted, waddling up the side aisle toward the gaping clergyman. "That fella Huberts put a child in me. I should be marryin? him, if anybodyís going to!"

San Francisco society matrons gasped in outrage, swooned, or demanded to be removed at once from what one proclaimed, "this absolute travesty of a religious occasion." The brideís mother let loose a howl to set dogs barking for five miles. Her husband balled up a fist and punched the groom squarely in the face.

"Blast you!" the hapless groom bellowed, clutching his nose. "I?ve never laid eyes on that harlot before in my life! I don?t know what sheís about, but I?m certainly not to blame for her...misfortune."

"Oh, listen to him!" Harmonie wailed. "A child, Godís most sacred gift?a misfortune, he calls it? Oh mercy and macaroni! I?ll thank you all to just forget I ever came here!"

Harmonie realized she?d gotten a bit too theatrical with the false histrionics. People stared and moved toward her. That wouldn?t do. Before the well-meaning guests of the aborted ceremony could grab her elbow or attempt to console her, she dashed for the churchís side exit.

She heard shouts behind her, but wasn?t concerned.

She merely needed to follow the stone path around the corner into an alleyway. There she?d get rid of the pillow and grimy sack dress, uncovering a sedate dark skirt and plain white blouse. A couple pins repositioned in her hair, and no one would ever guess she was the same female who?d just wrecked the wedding that had been the talk of the town for weeks.

She dashed through the door, down the stone walkway, and emerged onto the sidewalk. Just in time to smack into a doddering old man wearing glasses so thick they totally obscured his eyes. Harmonie and the fellow collided and tumbled into the street, causing a horse to rear and upset his vegetable wagon.

Harmonie surged to her feet. The pillow fell from under her dress, leaving her noticeably less pregnant than she?d been two minutes before.

The manís spectacles had flown off. His white wig sat askew, revealing a thick head of rich, tawny hair.

A policeman ran onto the scene. He took in the disheveled pair on the ground, the churchgoers ranting or wringing their hands, the crateloads of onions rolling downhill toward the Pacific, and promptly blew his whistle.

A stranger in a dark blue pinstripe suit rushed over. He jabbed an index finger at Harmonie. "Officer, arrest this woman. She claimed to be with child and purposely ruined my nieceís wedding."

The grocer tore at his hair. "My goods! Look at this! Whoís gonna want food thrown into the street, eh? Aw, no!" A lumber wagon rolled over the last intact crate of tomatoes.

Harmonie glared at the old fool?who was obviously just a plain fool, not elderly at all. He?d caused this disaster. If not for him, she?d have been quietly strolling down the street and none of this would be happening. Well, in fairness, perhaps the groomsmen would still be shouting. And the brideís father would doubtless still be ready to murder the profligate groom.

But she wouldn?t be surrounded by gawking, confused strangers. Or vegetables. No, she?d staged disruptions before, and never encountered problems with spilled vegetables blocking the street.

A paddy wagon, summoned by the shrill police whistle, rattled to a halt. More officers erupted out of the back, scowling, looking to their comrade for guidance.

"I don?t know what the hellís going on," he growled. He pointed his nightstick at Harmonie. "Except these folks insist she feigned pregnancy and disrupted a wedding inside the church. Both of them are either purposely disguised or mighty late for All Hallows Eve."

His stick shifted to indicate the fool. "He frightened that horse in order to block the street, creating a massive diversion."

One of the more recent officers on the scene shouted, "All of you, check your pockets and reticules!" He nodded to the first policeman. "This pair of pickpockets might have cleared out half the social registry in one afternoon. Criminy! The bodacious nerve of criminals these days."

Harmonie found herself riding in the paddy wagon across from the fool. Who, now that he?d lost his disguise, struck her as an irritatingly handsome man. She would have taken umbrage no matter what he looked like, botching everything as he?d done. But for pityís sake, he was...lean, broad-shouldered, with hair the color of sunshine on bottled honey. Life just wasn?t fair! She had a soft spot for men with his physique. Then he raised his tawny head and glared.

She couldn?t breathe, couldn?t hear the clanging of the police bell or the clopping of the horses or the pounding of her own heart. And pounding it most surely was.

The eyes she hadn?t been able to see before snapped at her with bright green fire.

Didn?t that just put the icing on the cake of her miserable day?

For years she?d had a cherished mental image of the perfect man. He?d be lean and muscular. He?d have silky hair with sun-burnished streaks in it. He?d have moss green eyes. Ha! The joke was on Harmonie.

This man had all of the above, yet was nothing like she?d dreamt.

Of course, young girls had plenty of longings and yearnings destined to shrivel along with the passage into adulthood. The ideal man coming along was just another casualty in the war of common sense and reality over daydreams. Harmonie had seen too many unhappy women, heard too many tales of woe about romances gone awry. She couldn?t believe in idyllic perfection any longer. So she?d ignored her dream, almost forgotten her childish fantasy, for the most part.

Then he had to go remind her!