Among the Branded
by Linda Smolkin
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
While attending Valor of the ’40s, art director Stephanie Britain stumbles upon a flea market selling letters from the war. She buys a handful, hoping they’ll inspire the redesign for a client’s website at her branding and design firm. She’s at first drawn by the lost art of penmanship, but soon discovers a hidden treasure nestled inside declarations of love from homesick soldiers. Stephanie enlists a coworker to translate one and realizes it’s not a love letter after all. When a shocking discovery about a client causes Stephanie to question her principles and dedication to her firm’s business, she’s forced to make a difficult decision—one that could give her peace of mind, yet ruin her career in the process.
Contemporary fiction with elements of suspense, Among the Branded explores family life, an unexpected friendship, and moral conflicts that make us wonder what’s more important: our livelihood, or our beliefs.
It all started with the Moo Shoo Chicken, wreaking havoc on one of the moms in the upstairs bathroom. I felt for Jane, but had no desire to wear the shaggy costume meant for her. Svetlana stood next to me while the kids ran around, some playing tag, others spilling punch on the kitchen floor.
“Hey, guys,” she said, “put down the juice boxes, or somebody’s going to get hurt.”
She grabbed a sponge and bent down to clean up the mess.
“Rockin’ party,” I joked.
“More like raucous. Put a bunch of four-year-olds together, and I’m having a love fest with the linoleum.”
Sveta, as I’d called her for years, stood up and gave me a mischievous look, as if she was about to share some juicy gossip about a neighbor on her cul-de-sac. Instead, she asked me to take Jane’s place and dress up as Ripsie the Retriever. She asked twice then begged. It brought me back to when we first met, and she insisted I tag along for a Thursday-night Happy Hour.
“Why can’t you wear it?”
“Because I’m reading the book. And you’re taller—it’ll fit better.”
I washed my hands and reached for some pretzels. “Uh-huh, great excuse.”
There wasn’t enough birthday cake to make me agree. I’m claustrophobic, I could say. I’m allergic to dogs, crossed my mind, even though I had my own version at home, a German Shepherd named Ginger. But the more I thought about it, I couldn’t disappoint Sveta’s grandson, Evan, on his fourth birthday. So on a Sunday afternoon, I became Ripsie.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Linda Smolkin always wanted to be a writer—ever since she saw her first TV commercial and wondered how to pen those clever ads. She got her degree in journalism and became a copywriter. Linda landed a job at an advertising agency, where she worked for several years before joining the nonprofit world. She’s the author of the novels Among the Branded (May 2017) and The Arrival of Elsa (March 2018). When not in front of the computer, she’s behind the drums (slightly) annoying her husband, son, and their 70-pound dog. She grew up on the East Coast and currently calls Virginia home.
Among the Branded on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XSYWYL2/
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