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A Small Fortune (Fortune Series Book 1) Kindle Edition

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Editorial Reviews Review

Book Description
When Celia Donnelly’s husband, Jonathon, surprises her with a family vacation to Mexico, the harried book editor couldn't be happier. She is overworked and exhausted, a situation that has taken a toll on her eighteen-year marriage, not to mention her relationship with her teenaged son. Escaping the perpetually rainy Pacific Northwest for the sugary sands of Mexico could be just what the doctor ordered. Yet shortly after their arrival south of the border, a chance encounter with a stranger sparks illicit memories of a former affair. The moment passes, but that brief encounter proves enough to change her life forever. Hours later, Celia is lured from the beach and abducted off the street. At first a seemingly random victim, Celia quickly realizes her captors know exactly who she is. Desperate for news of her family and devastated by the betrayal of someone she trusts, Celia, along with an unlikely ally, is soon running for her life. Pursued from the balmy shores of Mexico to the steamy thickets of the jungle, to the crisp, cold mountains of Zurich, Celia will stop at nothing to find her way home.

Amazon Exclusive: Getting to Know Audrey Braun

Question: Your debut novel, A Small Fortune, is a steamy suspense novel that has become a bestselling e-book. How did you dream up the storyline?

Audrey Braun: I read an article in the New York Times about how well genre books were weathering the recession. I had never tried to write a genre book and half-jokingly toyed with the idea. My husband and I made up a ridiculous plot over dinner one night and the next day I began to write, still half-jokingly, the story we had cracked ourselves up with over a bottle of wine. The joke was really on me. The novel ran out of me like a spell flushed out from who knows where. A Small Fortune is more mainstream than genre and not even close to the story my husband and I made up, but it is the result of that funny conversation.

Question: Did you know right away, or have an idea, how you were going to end the story? Or did it come to you as you were in the process of writing?

AB: I thought I knew but of course that's just a starting point to begin. Novels tend to take on their own unexpected twists and turns while the writer runs along behind. There is nothing quite like the feeling of falling back in my chair and thinking “Oh no, she is going to do this,” or “Oh my god, THAT is why he's done this to her.” Those moments are precious for so many reasons. You can't plan them, have no idea where they come from, and know that if you, as the writer, never saw what was coming, chances are the reader won't see it coming either.

Question: The book takes place in Portland, Puerto Vallarta, and Zurich – why those three locals? Did you do on-site research?

AB: I have spent a great deal of time in all of these places so that certainly helps. One of my favorites parts about writing is creating a sense of place. I enjoy the texture of going to other locales, if only in my head. I enjoy sending other people off as well.

Question: What is the best thing about being a writer?

AB: Make no mistake, this is really hard work that takes a tremendous amount of self-discipline and faith. Having said that, there are so many things that make writing fulfilling:

Working in pajamas.

Spending all day making stuff up as if it really matters. And then it does.

Having imaginary people in your head come alive through reader's thoughts and opinions and personal life experiences. A wonderful symmetry happens. Conversations spin, new ideas emerge. Something HAPPENS between you and other people after all those hours, days, months, and years you spent alone, half-crazed, in your pajamas.

But best of all might be when readers tell me they were so caught up in the book that they forgot to feed their own children or got sunburned after five straight hours of reading in the sun while having no idea how much time had passed. Yes, I inadvertently contribute to children going hungry and second degree burns, but knowing I succeeded at pulling a reader into the dream of the story is immensely satisfying. That's the point. And nothing quite compares.

Question: You actually write under two names: Audrey Braun and Deborah Reed. Reed specializes in literary fiction while Braun writes globe-trotting, steamy suspense novels. Do your writing processes for both ever overlap or do you keep them entirely separate? How do you switch from one voice to the other?

AB: When I write as Deborah Reed I am fairly critical of every choice I make and painstakingly edit as I go. This can slow things down tremendously. It's important for me to get the sound and texture of a sentence or paragraph close to my vision before I can move too far ahead. Rhythm is extremely important to me as well. When I write as Audrey Braun the ideas come much quicker as my focus is often on plot. I can then go back during the rewrites and bring the language up closer to where I like it. But having said that, I think I have the best of both worlds. The focus on language and place from my literary side helps to elevate the suspense writing on the sentence and conceptual level, and the focus on plot from the suspense side helps to form the structure and, hopefully, keep the pages turning in my literary work.

Question: Your next book up is Carry Yourself Back to Me from Deborah Reed. Tell us a little bit about it—specifically, what will readers of A Small Fortune like best about the book?

AB: Carry Yourself Back to Me is a melodic, somewhat southern novel about Annie Walsh, a singer-songwriter who has lost everything that has ever meant something to her, including her music. She is holed up in her rural Florida farmhouse until a crime related to her estranged yet beloved brother Calder, forces her back into the world where her past begins to unfold through alternating chapters meant to illuminate the present. There is an element of suspense going all the way back to when Annie and Calder were children, and I think that readers of A Small Fortune will really appreciate this. There are multiple love stories as well, both past and present, and each is attached to painful and poignant self-realizations. Annie, like Celia in A Small Fortune, is a strong female character at the center of the story. But unlike A Small Fortune, some of the chapters in Carry Yourself Back to Me are told from the point of view of male characters, so readers will get quite a variety this time.


"Add equal parts thriller, romance, and suspense, with a shot of fiery romance and you get a vacation or weekend read that you will be unable to put down. Well plotted, edited, and crafted, it is hard to imagine another new author churning out anything better." —San Francisco Book Review

Product Details

  • File Size: 617 KB
  • Print Length: 289 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0547858647
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (July 19, 2011)
  • Publication Date: July 19, 2011
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004FPZ26S
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,886 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Audrey Braun is the pen name of novelist Deborah Reed. Deborah Reed is the author of the novel, Carry Yourself Back to Me, a Best Book of 2011 Amazon Editors' Pick. She is also the author of the bestselling thriller, A Small Fortune and its sequel, Fortune's Deadly Descent, written under the pen name, Audrey Braun. All three novels have been translated or are forthcoming in German. Her next literary novel, Things We Set On Fire will be published in fall 2013. Deborah holds a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing (fiction) and teaches at UCLA's Extension Writing Program, as well as workshops and conferences around the United States and in Europe. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Find out more at her website:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

175 of 182 people found the following review helpful By Jessica P. Morrell on April 25, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
Sometimes along comes a novel that once you pick it up, you simply can't set it down until you've finished it. The kind of novel that so thoroughly engages your imagination that time passes without notice, and interruptions like needing to prepare or eat dinner are seen as annoying, as meantime, bedtime is postponed to keep reading. That's the sort of captivation found in A Small Fortune by Audrey Braun.

The story opens with a Portland, Oregon family about to jaunt off to Mexico for a week in the sun. Which is where Celia Donnelly's troubles start and the story then takes off like champagne exploding from a bottle that was shaken. Make that trouble with a capital T. Because by day two of their vacation while running along the beach, she's shanghaied, or more accurately kidnapped. Trouble is, the kidnappers are tied to someone close to her, and should have known better. I won't reveal their exact relationship, but this is a cautionary tale and suggests that you should rethink the times when you're feeling trusting, but your gut was telling your something different. Because Celia should have known so many things that don't come clear until the harrowing misadventure finally plays out, her past is uncovered, truth is faced, and love delivered.

But here I am in the third paragraph of this review already and I've forgotten to mention the dreamy and enigmatic Benicio. He's more tequila than champagne, a sexy, complicated man and part of the story that requires unriddling. Along with romance, nerve-grinding suspense, and a slew of twists and surprises the reader doesn't see coming, the book features terrific, realistic dialogue. And then along the way you'll find the story strewn with jewels of beautiful writing and apt metaphors--enough to bring on a case of writer's envy.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Crisp on March 28, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
This book immediately pulled me in. A page turner for sure. As each character was introduced I quickly became immersed in this fast paced, delightful read. Riding the fence between the romance and crime genres, A Small Fortune is an interesting story about female empowerment which still allows it's female characters to remain feminine. While the story skirts believability at times, this is the very thing that makes it such an entertaining book. I was saddened to reach the end, as I could have easily continued to be a voyeur into the life of Celia Donnelly.
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51 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Patto TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The plot is the best thing about this book. It carries us from Oregon to Mexico to Switzerland. It encompasses kidnapping, murder, erotic scenes in unusual settings, a terrifying chase through the jungle, mother love, feminist subthemes and shocking discoveries at every turn.

The scenes are cinematic, the suspense non-stop - and the good-looking heroine and hero have tan, taut bodies that would film beautifully. Hollywood could make a blockbuster movie of this book.

To make the barest allusion to the storyline, copyeditor Celia Donnelly is abducted while on a family vacation in Mexico. As certain sinister facts emerge about her situation, she loses trust in everything she's believed for the last eighteen years. Escaping her captors is just the beginning of a desperate struggle to stay alive and protect those she loves.

But much as I admired the momentum, I have mixed feelings about A Small Fortune. I found the characters lacking in depth, and I didn't care for the writing style. A Small Fortune falls clearly into the category of thriller rather than literature. That's not a plus for me, as I like to see these genres overlap.

A Small Fortune is meant to be a page-turner, and it is. I'm sorry the book didn't click with me, but I'm sure many readers will enjoy it for its thrills and chills and exotic setting.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A. J. Houston on March 30, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
The sexy strength and witty resilience of our heroine is captivating, making it an instant page turner. Celia is charged with the task of confronting her past and reengaging with the present in order to live to see her future. A great Spring Break read-I can't wait to join Celia on her next caper!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Audrey Braun's novel "A Small Fortune" intrigued me with its lightly and deftly drawn writing. Braun doesn't bog the reader down with cumbersome scene-setting, and the heroine's inner monologue is thankfully concise and sometimes enigmatic. The descriptive language is brief and vivid--like flashes of light that make you blink.
The intrigue begins with Celia, a woman who seems to have it all--a ruggedly handsome husband who takes care of her, a son she adores, a job as an editor that she clearly loves. However, she also has a inexplicable feeling that something is wrong . . . something is missing. She valiantly tries to fight this feeling, blaming it on overwork and stress. She is about to leave for a vacation to hopefully heal her troubled relationships and mind. A week of utter relaxation by the beach in Mexico is just what the doctor ordered, and just what her ever thoughtful husband has planned. But this idyll in paradise is shattered when Celia is suddenly abducted by strangers who seem to know who she is all too well. The plot winds its way through past and future, filled with the deepest betrayals of love and blood, but also with moments of unlikely redemption. Celia is betrayed by some of those she holds closest, but she also finds kindred spirits in strangers, who embrace her as a new friend, and willingly do anything to help her find her way back home.
I did love the heroine. She is the right mix of reflective and impulsive. Passionate, smart, sensitive, and confused--she seemed so real. Nothing like the typical passive, blushing damsel in distress. She is clearly the strongest character but she doesn't have to prove this to anyone. She simply naturally assumes this position. The other characters are also delightfully complex.
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