Action & Adventure

The Artisan Way

By

This book will launch on Apr 20, 2021. Currently, only those with the link can see it. 🔒

Loved it! 😍

Literal twists and turns, compelling characters, and an overall joy to read!

Synopsis

A road trip, a misguided girl with dangerous habits, and a target on the loose. One trip to Las Vegas can change it all for two people on opposite sides of the spectrum.

I received an Advance Reader Copy of The Artisan Way. I was intrigued by the concept, even with the short synopsis, and felt this was a book I had to read.


I was not disappointed!


Nandra Hoffman brought two compelling characters to life in The Artisan Way: Keith and Lyah. While I identified with neither character fully, I loved both of their unique and completely different lives.


Lyah is a young woman raised in a household devoid of love (at least from her perspective). She's created a life for herself by stealing what she needs from the targets she finds along the road.


Keith is a rigid college student who has his whole life laid out before him. His parents tell him what to do and when to do it. Except for now, when he's embarking on a cross-country road trip to crash his ex-girlfriend's wedding.


Keith and Lyah are thrown together outside a motel in Pennsylvania where they begin a week that will change both of their lives forever. The conversations and growth that happen along the way are wonderful, Hoffman building her story with plenty of nods to her romance days.


The action in The Artisan Way is easy and thrilling. It's a story that left me wanting more - not to mention that cliffhanger of an ending!!


For an action-packed book, there were two moments of serendipity that felt like they best belonged in a romance novel, but it wasn't a bad thing. Just moments that made me feel, "of course this is what's happened" in the entire United States.


The big thing for me in this story was how much both character's perceptions, priorities, and outlooks on life changed, however dramatically. It just goes to show that you can rise up from your past and choose to live a different life than you ever thought possible.


Hoffman has a way with words that made this not only an easy read, but one I wanted (and did) devour in a day. I genuinely, thoroughly enjoyed The Artisan Way.


I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a light-hearted action novel about two people who meet each other and change their lives.

Reviewed by

I'm an avid YA/Fantasy reader who's very, very slowly working on my first novel. I used to read exclusively mystery books and still love them, too!

I write terribly good Harry Potter fanfiction, explore Skyrim, Azeroth, and Northern Ireland, crochet any & everything, & cook epic vegan meals.

Synopsis

A road trip, a misguided girl with dangerous habits, and a target on the loose. One trip to Las Vegas can change it all for two people on opposite sides of the spectrum.

God, she loved the dress, but damn was it annoying. If it rode up one more time, she’d consider doing some damage to it. She didn’t care whether she was in a bar or not. For the umpteenth time that night, she pulled the sides down as she scoured the tables for something—or rather someone.

Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome had been avoiding her all night, she suspected. Lyah wasn’t dumb. She felt he wasn’t particularly keen on her advances, but she refused to let him escape her sights tonight. She wanted something from him, and she was hell-bent on getting it. Never one to give up, she looked around for his dark curls before smiling to herself.

Ignoring the dirty looks from the female patrons and the suggestive looks from the opposite sex, Lyah hurried to the bar’s dark corner where her brooding hero stayed hidden. He didn’t see her approach from behind.

Throwing her arms around his neck, Lyah pressed herself against his back and whispered in his ear, “Where did you go so fast?”

He jumped from her touch and yanked her off him a bit roughly. Oh, he was angry. Seething even, if the dark look in his eyes were any indication. He wasn’t in the mood for her antics tonight. Ignoring his flare, she put on her best pout and tried to touch his arm, but he smacked it away. She let out an “ouch,” not expecting the sting that came from it. Abusive much?

“What the hell does it mean to you when someone says to leave them alone? I don’t fuck with prostitutes. Leave me the hell alone!” His words came out a lot harder with each sentence and catching the other customers’ attention at the bar. The bartender gave her a stern look as if telling her he wouldn’t mind throwing her out. It wouldn’t be the first time.

Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome pushed his chair back with a loud scrape and left her cradling her hand as he walked out the bar. Lyah wanted to yell at him about his misinterpretation. She hadn’t slept with anyone in over a year and a half, but she wasn’t about to waste her breath. They always thought she was a prostitute, but she never gave them any reason to think otherwise.

“Well, that most certainly didn’t go well,” she mumbled to herself. Giving up, she hopped on the chair he abandoned. It was still warm with his body heat. Most of the customers had already lost interest in her debacle and had gone on to nurse their drinks.

All except one.

He seemed a bit drunk by the way he was two-stepping his way over. Lyah giggled as she noticed he slipped off the chair as he tried to sit beside her. He wasn’t exactly her type with a crooked nose and freckles plastering his face. His eyes were a black hole, and his hair looked like he never quite understood what hair care products were. He would have to do for the night.

Ah, Target #32.

“Just wanted you to know I would never turn down anythin’ from you,” he slurred as he appreciated the way the dress barely passed her mid-thigh. She wanted to roll her eyes, but instead, she gave him a flirty smile. He seemed like an easy target. Why the hell not?

“Nothing?” Lyah flirted. He was already scooting—or trying to—the chair closer to her while still nursing his beer. His breath smelled awful and reeked of alcohol, which indicated he probably was drinking for at least a couple of hours already.

Lyah wrinkled her nose at his smell and proximity but forced herself not to comment on it. She needed to stay focused on the end goal. “Nothin’.” She couldn’t quite place his accent or whether it was the liquor tuning it for him. Southern, perhaps?

It wasn’t until a little after two in the morning she felt the urge to go back to her room at the motel down the street. After nursing two beers herself and trying to coax her unsuspecting drunken participant, Lyah felt like the night was a bust. If she had to hear him talk about himself anymore, she’d consider drowning herself in her drink.

She got up to leave in the middle of him still yammering about some trip to Colorado he needed to take for business—whatever that was— and started toward the door. She turned around and noticed he had begun to follow her, unfortunately. A little annoyed, she stopped as he stammered toward her with a lazy yet unappealing smile.

“Where you goin’?” he slurred.

“Home. And I’d prefer it if you didn’t follow,” Lyah answered. Hoping he got the point, she turned away only for him to tug her arm.

“Lemme come witchu,” he said. “Or at least drive me to your place to crash until I call my men?”

His men? She shook her head. No way in hell was that happening tonight. Or ever.

“Maybe you should call your ‘men’ now. Or an Uber, perhaps?”

“What’s the matter, babe? You don’t want me to know where you live? I promise I’ll take real good care of ya tonight,” he winked at her as he shuffled closer but took a misstep and fell to his face.

A pile of cash dropped from his pants pocket, catching Lyah’s interest. From what she could see, there were several hundred-dollar bills. Enough to get the hell out of the city and away from him. Realizing his mistake, he swiped it up quickly and stuffed it back into his pocket. Looking down at his pitifully drunken self, Lyah promptly devised a plan in her head.

With newfound interest, she offered him a hand, which he gladly took.

“You know what? Let’s grab a motel room. It’s getting late, and I may need someone strong to protect me,” Lyah offered, her voice dripping with honey.

His suggestive smile widened. “I can be all that and more.”

Lyah swallowed the sarcasm that threatened to leave her lips. “Just come,” she said as she made her way out of the bar.

“I can do that too.”

She ignored him and watched from the corner eye as he stumbled and tried to keep up with her with his eyes half shut. He was close to passing out. She needed to get him in a room. Fast.

The motel was a hole-in-the-wall but was a place to stay temporarily until her next move. If everything went according to plan, she’d be out before he realized she wasn’t a drunken dream.

Making her way to the dingy motel lobby, she turned to her target of the night and smiled. “A real man pays for the room he’s about to get laid in.”

At some point during the walk, Lyah decided to get another room for them. She wouldn’t dare let him know where her room was or that she even had one at the motel. It only cost fifty bucks a night.

The motel clerk gave her a once-over look but said nothing as Lyah gave her the information she needed. Her target took the bait. Sloppily, he rummaged through his pockets for the cash as if he forgot where he put it. After checking the same pocket twice, he finally pulled out a one-hundred-dollar bill.

The clerk took it and gave them a key without so much as a thank you.

The clerk must’ve been new because she wasn’t there when Lyah checked in days ago. Not dwelling on it, she made her way to the room with her drunken guest for the night.

The room looked exactly like hers but reversed. It was small with a countertop refrigerator and a mounted TV above the desk in front of the bed. The pale pink wall color reminded her of something she watched on television that was depicted in the 1980s. It was gag worthy.

“You don’t mind if I—”

Lyah turned to find him passed out in the single loveseat near the window. One shoe laid on the floor, and the other hung from his foot as he spread across the couch on his stomach.

“This will be easier than I thought,” she mumbled to herself.

Quietly, she made her way to him to check if he was really asleep. A grunt followed by a loud snore confirmed her suspicions. With tentative fingers, she slid her hand in the pocket he had pulled out the hundred-dollar bill. Feeling a bundle, she slowly pulled it out to find a handful of hundreds.

Jackpot.

Mentally, Lyah danced, but she couldn’t celebrate for long. She debated whether she should risk looking for more.

Might as well, she thought as she slipped her hand into his other pocket. She frowned when she pulled out a squishy package with what felt like hard sand. It took her a few moments of staring at the white substance to figure out what it was.

Eyes enlarged, Lyah pulled out two more bags from his pocket, each a little larger than a fun-sized M&Ms bag.

His pockets were deep; she thought as she weighed the three bags of drugs in her hand. She’d never done drugs minus a little weed, nor did she plan on it anytime soon. She’d never sold on the streets either.

What could she do with the bags?

“First time for everything,” Lyah mumbled. If she was going to steal it, she might as well profit from it.

Careful not to wake him, she slipped the cash and drugs into her bra, taking out the stuffing she had in there for looks. She knew it would come in handy someday.

Before taking off, Lyah decided to freshen up in the bathroom. No use in walking out shabby.

She closed the door behind her, splashed cold water on her face, and patted her cheeks to stay alert.

Taking advantage of people was exhausting.

It wasn’t like she chose this life—okay, maybe she did—but she had no other choice. Being on the streets for two years alone was enough to make anyone want to off themselves. But Lyah wasn’t just anyone.

She was built differently.

Not a tear had shed since the last time she let someone penetrate her forces. She promised never to let anyone else take advantage of her. That’s why she did it to them first.

Lyah looked at the unkempt mirror and smiled. Tonight, she’d leave the motel and find a better one across town after hitching a ride. The stack in her bra was at least two bands. It would last her about a week or two until her next target.

Finally, she could afford a good meal, maybe get a new wardrobe or two. The dress she had on was great for clubbing and catching targets, but frankly, she was tired of wearing it. Not to mention, it was irritating.

Feeling sticky just thinking about it, she made her way out of the bathroom and abruptly stopped as she stared at the barrel of a pistol in her face.

“You thought chu’d get away with it, huh? I may be out of it, but I’m not stupid,” her target said as he rubbed the sleep from his eye.

Could’ve fooled me, she thought. She didn’t dare say it out loud.

“Who do you work for? Is it Presley, the little shit? That’s my load, and he ain’t gettin’ it. Give it back now.”

Who the hell was Presley? Such a preppy name for a potential drug dealer.

Lyah knew it was dumb, but if his half-lidded eyes were any indication, she’d guess that the barely standing man with the pistol in his hand was two seconds away from falling to the floor.

She decided to try her luck before her nerves got the best of her. Inching closer, Lyah put on a slightly uneasy smile. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but maybe we should have a seat. I didn’t finish what I started before you fell asleep on me.”

Her answer earned her an unexpected blow to the side of her head with the pistol. Swearing to herself, she cradled her throbbing head. She needed an escape and fast. He had her with her back to the bathroom on the opposite side of the room. He stood right in front of the path to the room door.

“I don’t play about my money and or my powder. I don’t think you understand who the fuck you’re dealing with. Get on the bed.” He sounded soberer now than he did a minute ago. His slurred speech was almost gone, and his words were clearer. Was he playing her?

He motioned with the gun for her to move to the bed and sit, which she had no choice but to oblige. She gulped when he approached her, the gun pushing closer to her face, his eyes looking more alert. He licked his dry lips and appraised her body.

“I also don’t play about sex. Now, I believe you owe me something. You want my money? You’re gonna have earn it.”

If he were smart, he’d take the drugs and money from her now, but alas, he was thinking with the wrong head.

Lyah’s eyes carefully accessed the bulge staring at her face. She didn’t make a move, nor did she flinch when he began to unbutton his jeans.

This part was familiar to her. She didn’t have sex with these men; many have tried and failed to get her to do what she didn’t want. Usually, she’d take this time to “get comfortable” in the bathroom and leap out of a window, or she’d “forget” something outside and never return. Most of the time, they were high or drunk on their own accord, and she’d walk right out the door with her “earnings” for the night. But being caught wasn’t her game. She always found a way out of it; this time should be no different.

Except it was.

It wasn’t until the pistol had found its way under her chin and his hands began to skate across her chest did panic start to set in. She’s really done it now. She needed a plan and fast.

“Wait!” Lyah exclaimed, momentarily distracting him. “I’ll give it all back. I-I have it in my bra.”

If she had never seen a sinister smile before, she definitely did then. “Oh, I plan to get everything that’s mine. Take off your clothes before I rip it off.”

The pressure of the pistol hardened as she started to tremble a little. There was no escape at this point.

What had she gotten herself into? Her control had slipped, and now she was paying for it. This was supposed to be an easy job.

Still determined not to make him see her slight panic, Lyah slowly lowered the straps of her dress and halved it by her waist, her white bra the only thing still between them.

The baggies and money spilled into her lap as she undressed her shoulders. With her eyes still on him, she noticed his gaze had trailed to the baggies on her lap. His grip on the pistol faltered for only a second.

That second was her chance.

Saying a quick prayer, Lyah swiftly picked up the bags and threw them across the room, two of them bursting as they came in contact with the edge of the television.

He leaped for the bags, the pistol falling from his hand onto the bed beside her, but he was too late. White powder dusted the entire dresser and parts of the floor.

Lyah grabbed the cash and the gun and made a run for the front door, but a loud growl had momentarily paralyzed her.

Without notice, he grabbed the back of her head and slammed it against the closed door, causing her to fall to the floor. The pistol slid into the corner of the room. A burst of pain seeped through her head, and she struggled to lift herself from the ground.

“You thought you could win one over on me, huh? Do you know how much fuckin’ money you just cost me?!” he shouted. His dark eyes were aflame. If she didn’t get out quick, there’d be nothing but trouble.

He lifted a boot and kicked her in her chest. She collapsed again and coughed up blood into her hand. He hurried to grab the pistol and pointed it at her head as she lay still on the floor.

“I should’ve killed you when I had the chance,” he said as he stood over her.

Thinking quick, Lyah saw her opportunity to kick him in the groin with the heel of her shoe.

“Fuck!” he yelled as he doubled over in pain.

Without thinking, Lyah grabbed the cash and tore through the door, running as fast as she could down the hall and ignoring the pain shooting through her body. She could hear him trying to catch up with her as she barreled out the motel gates and onto the street.

A fresh patch of air hit her chest, and it wasn’t until she looked down at herself did she realize she was still half-naked. Pulling her dress up, she searched for a place to hide.

A shot rang out behind her, and she stumbled as she tried to see how far he was. She was in the line of fire though he didn’t seem to see her as he looked in another direction.

“You can’t run forever, you thieving bitch!”

But she could damn well try.

Lyah dove beside a station wagon that was sandwiched beside another car when another shot zipped past her head and into the window. The bullet shattered the glass and her eardrum. She clutched her ears as they continued to ring for a while.

She covered her head as glass shards bounced off her head. The ringing finally settled in her ears in place of silence for a moment, and she wondered where he had gone. With a quick shuffle to the back of the car, Lyah craned her neck to see if he was close. She gasped when she realized he was on the other side.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are…” he sang as glass crunched beneath his feet. “This’ll be a lot easier if you come on out now. You see, I coulda forgave you for stealing the money, but you fucked up my cash flow with the coke, not to mention my reputation. You’re gonna pay for that.”

Looking across the quiet street, Lyah thought out a plan to dash as he got closer but stopped short when a shout from one of the motel rooms caught both of their attention.

“What happened to my car!”

Lyah could hear footsteps moving away and used that distraction to catch her breath. Should she run now?

“I suggest you find your way back into that motel room, or I blow that head of yours off!”

Lyah snuck a peek at the unsuspecting savior and saw him in front of an open room door, his hands slowly going up in surrender. If she weren’t in such a panic, she’d mentality berate his PRINCETON sweater and overly baggy jeans. He looked timid with an oversized pair of glasses perched on his face. The only thing that looked nice was his short golden-brown hair, although even that was pushing it as it sat haphazardly on his head as if he’d just woken up in a panic.

Not her type, but if she didn’t make it through this alive, no one else ever would be.

But what was a guy like that doing in such a sketchy area? He certainly did not look like a local and seemed to stand out in his preppy-looking clothes.

“You just blew out my driver’s side window! What is wrong with you?” He was bold, that was for sure.

“You watch your goddamn mouth. Don’t forget who’s holding the gun here.”

“Kid has balls,” Lyah said to herself in approval.

A shouting match ensued between the two, which bought her time to brainstorm her plan better. She could run across the street and be in plain sight and have more of a chance of getting shot or—she looked at the station wagon in appraisal—she could take her chances with the beaten old car.

Thankfully, she had learned how to hotwire a car when she was dating bad-boy Jason freshman year of high school.

With discretion, she opened the passenger car door and slipped in. The door creaked as she tried to close it, causing her to pause momentarily before closing it all the way. She hurried to the driver’s side, looked around the floorboards, found what she needed, and then sparked the wires.

The sound of the car huffing on made her heart leap with joy, but it was short-lived.

“Hey! Get out of my car!” Preppy Guy yelled.

It happened so fast, Lyah could only watch in shock from the driver’s side as the gun swung in her direction, but he didn’t get a chance to fire. Out of nowhere, a brick hit him on the back of the head, and he tumbled to the ground.

Preppy Guy rushed to the driver’s side, where she was. “Get the hell out of my car!”

Still paralyzed, she could only stare at him, which only seemed to anger him more. He opened the door and tried to drag her out, but she gripped the steering wheel tight. “I need this, please! He’ll kill me!”

“I just hit him on the back of the head with a brick. I’m pretty sure he’ll be out looking for the both of us. Now get out of my car!”

A loud groan caught both their attention as the guy rose from the ground with one hand still holding the gun and the other nursing his head. He looked up and saw the two and started toward them, the gun raised.

“Fuck it, scoot over!”

Coming to her senses, Lyah finally let go of the steering wheel and crawled to the passenger side in time for Preppy Guy to jump into the driver’s side and punch the gas. Lyah fell back into her seat as a clink sounded against his bumper as they drove out of sight.

About the author

Nandra Hoffman is a Canadian American who lives in sunny Florida with her family and pretends the hot weather keeps her pushing. She spends her days with her adorable husky, Dakota, and loves helping others with all their writing needs. Author of Love Me Blind view profile

Published on April 20, 2021

Published by Nandra Publishing, LLC

60000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Action & Adventure

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