by Trice Hickman

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Troublemaker by Trice Hickman

Unexpected Love Series

Every joy has its challenges. . .

After twenty years, childhood best friends Alexandria Thornton and PJ Brightwood have reunited--and fallen in love. Alex's artistic nature as a spoken word artist, and PJ's success as a talented surgeon promise a bright future. But their happiness brings unexpected complications for those they care about most. . .

A devoted wife, loving mother, and successful businesswoman, Victoria Thornton is a pillar of her suburban Atlanta community. But when her daughter, Alexandria, becomes engaged to the son of Victoria's former lover, her past mistake threatens her orderly life. As the impending marriage reunites both families, it reignites old feelings that test all of their relationships--and all of their boundaries. . .

Praise for the Unexpected Love Series

"Trice Hickman is an amazing writer and storyteller!" –Kimberla Lawson Roby

"Looking for Trouble is a fantastic saga about family, friendship, love, status and destiny." –RT Book Reviews

"A humorous and entertaining novel." –Urban Reviews on Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies

"Hickman hits all the high notes in this charming modern romance where love and loyalty trump race." –Publishers Weekly (starred review) on Unexpected Interruptions

Read an Excerpt from Troublemaker by Trice Hickman



"You can never go wrong doin' right" Allene Small whispered to herself as she thought about the events that were about to unfold. She couldn't count the number of times she'd repeated those words during the nine decades she'd lived on earth, or in the six that she'd spent as a spirit waiting to reemerge into the world she'd once known.

Allene had enjoyed a rich, full life in her day. She'd experienced ups and downs, joys and heartbreak, and eventually, the calm peace that living ninety-eight years had brought her. She'd been widowed at a young age, outliving her beloved husband and eventually all her siblings and her children, as well as some nieces and nephews. She'd witnessed fiery crosses burning in the night, emblazoned with hatred and fear. She'd endured oppression before joining activists who fought for justice, civil rights, and social change. She'd watched one decade roll into the next as presidents and heads of state came and went, by consequence of elections or death. And she'd seen men ride in horses and buggies, fly planes in the sky, drive motorized vehicles along busy streets, and then miraculously walk on the moon.

Allene felt grateful and blessed to have lived long enough to experience things that many had not. She was also thankful that for as long as she could remember, she'd known an invaluable truth most couldn't fathom—that there was life after life. The peace she'd found in that knowledge had comforted her during times of trouble.

Now as she sat in her trusty old rocking chair, surveying the colorful flowers that graced the large wrap-around porch where she'd been sitting all morning, her heart held excitement and caution about what she knew lay ahead. She took a deep breath and inhaled the sweet fragrance of the rose, azalea, and magnolia bushes flanking the front of the house. "This old place sure 'nuff has stood the test of time," she said with a smile. "Isaiah and Henrietta would be right proud, God rest their souls."

Allene loved being back in Nedine, South Carolina, the small town where she'd lived out the best parts of her days. She looked out as far as her eyes could see, noting that while some things had changed, so many had remained steadfastly the same. The large, white placard displaying THE SMALL PROPERTY in black calligraphy still towered at the edge of the road a few hundred feet away, announcing to visitors that they had reached the grounds of the grand residence that her son, Isaiah Small, had built from the ground up.

At the time, Isaiah's had been one of the largest homes in Nedine as well as the two surrounding counties, and today it proudly continued to hold that distinction. This was a huge feat for a black man, then and now. After Isaiah died, Allene had moved from her tiny house a few miles up the road, and settled into the quiet comfort of living with Isaiah's devoted widow, Henrietta, whom Allene had loved as her own daughter.

After Henrietta passed away, John, Isaiah's and Henrietta's son, cared for the house with great love and attention. Even though John had moved away to Raleigh, North Carolina, to start a banking empire and carry on in his father's successful footsteps, he'd made sure to preserve the family homestead where he'd been born and had many fond memories of growing up. Several times a year, John, along with his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Victoria, would return to Nedine to make sure the house was well maintained and that any necessary repairs were made.

Once John's age and declining health prevented him from making trips to his beloved hometown, he'd hired a property management company to oversee the upkeep. After his death, his daughter, Victoria, had picked up the torch and seen to it that her father's birthplace was kept in good order. Allene was proud that her son's legacy was still intact, along with much of the land, rental properties, and other real estate holdings that had been passed down from one generation to the next.

"They're all gonna be here soon. Even the ones who ain't supposed to come," Allene said with reserve. "But then again, I reckon that ain't such a bad thing, 'cause nothin' happens by mistake. There's a plan for everything, we just gotta play it out to the end."

Allene nodded to herself as she looked up into the gray, stormy sky. It had been raining nonstop since early this morning. Heavy at times and light at others. Allene felt happy every time she heard the pitter-patter sound and the fresh smell that God's liquid glory created in its wake. She remembered back to the days she'd spent in her tiny home, and how she'd loved to listen to the rain dance atop her roof and beat against her windows. The natural rhythm had been soothing, and always made her feel a sense of peace—as if whatever had been wrong could be made right by the water that came and washed things away.

Allene wished so badly that the rain could clear out the troubles awaiting her family. Having the gift of prophecy, she was able to see some of the challenges that were on the horizon, and the struggles her loved ones were surely going to face. She wanted to intervene by warning them of what was coming, and tell them what they needed to do in order to avoid the problems heading their way. But age, wisdom, and experience had taught her that some things couldn't be interfered with, or manipulated. Only time, patience, and living through the situation could rectify whatever was wrong.

This was why Allene knew that choosing to do the right thing would never lead her down the wrong path. She'd been a witness to situations that had borne out that evidence time and time again, and she knew without a doubt that bad intentions could easily lead to devastating consequences. Conversely, she also knew that if one had good intentions and did what was fair and just, regardless of the circumstances, things would eventually unfold into a favorable outcome.

Allene knew that some of her family members were carrying heavy burdens, and to her disappointment, one in particular was plotting a hidden agenda, heading in the wrong direction by ignoring what was right. "Lord, help me guide Alexandria so she can help our family," she whispered aloud, looking up into the sky. "I waited a mighty long time to come back, and now, I'm ready. I just hope they're ready, too."

It had been nearly a year since Allene had first made her spirit form known to anyone in the land of the living. She'd reached out to Alexandria, her great-great-granddaughter, because she'd known it was time to make contact. Alexandria was a special young woman, who, like Allene, and Allene's great-grandmother before her, possessed the gift of prophecy.

The gift of prophecy was a precious ability that had been passed down through the generations, only by way of the female members of their family, dating back to the Akan people of Ghana, West Africa. The gift was a sacred and valued treasure that people both revered and feared within Allene's family, as well as the outside community.

During Allene's lifetime, her gift had allowed her to foretell events in advance of them happening. She could discern good from bad in the blink of an eye. She could sense when danger was approaching or when peace would prevail. She knew people's thoughts without ever having to engage them in conversation. And she could accurately declare good fortune or disappointing loss for those seeking her advice on any given situation.

Now as a spirit in the land of flesh and blood, she possessed those same abilities along with the added benefit of being able to exist between two worlds. Allene walked within the supernatural realm, able to communicate with others who shared the gift, like her great-grandmother, Susan. Even though she was able to see family and friends who'd passed on, she couldn't communicate with them unless they possessed the gift of prophecy. The living world was much the same way, only there, things were more complicated because life was still happening, unfolding in real time, which always presented challenges.

After years of patiently watching and waiting, Allene was glad when the time finally came that she could return to the world she'd once known. She was there to help Alexandria, who had struggled with her abilities for most of her life, but had now come to terms with the extraordinary gift she'd inherited. Just as Susan Jessup had been Allene's guide on her life's journey, it was now Allene's turn to do the same for Alexandria.

Allene continued to watch the sky and listen to the rain fall as she thought about what was going to happen two weeks from now. She could see the blessings, as well as the trouble that was going to ensue once everyone gathered under one roof. Tempers would flare and hearts would be hurt by deception. Long-held secrets were going to be revealed, weaknesses would be exposed, and a devious plot to steal and control was going to be uncovered. Allene could also see that there would be heated moments and tension between family members and friends.

"Sometimes people just got to go through things in order to make a change," Allene said to herself.

She knew that hearts, minds, and loyalties would be tested when her family came together for a grand celebration two weeks from now, and unfortunately, someone was going to meet their demise before the weekend came to an end.

"I'll see you soon, baby girl," Allene whispered into the air, sending words of love and comfort to Alexandria. "You just hang in there and know that everything's gonna be all right."

( Continued... )

Excerpted from Troublemaker by Trice Hickman. © 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, Trice Hickman. This excerpt is used for promotional purposes only. Do not reproduce, copy or use without the publisher's written permission. Copyright infringement is a serious offense. Share a link to this page or the author's website if you really like this promotional excerpt.

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Intimate Conversation with Trice Hickman

Trice Hickman is a self-proclaimed Southern girl, and award-winning, bestselling author. Trice’s love of reading and the power she recognized in the written word inspired her to become a writer. After receiving rejection letters from every agent and publisher she submitted her work to, Trice was determined to bring her stories to life. She self-published her first three novels to great success, and shortly thereafter, landed a multi-book deal with Kensington (Dafina Books) where she is currently published. When she’s not busy writing and reading, Trice enjoys cooking, traveling, decorating, and meeting good people.

BPM: What motivated you to sit down and actually start writing this book?

The motivation to write, TROUBLEMAKER (which is the fourth book in the Unexpected Love Series) was inspired by the characters from, LOOKING FOR TROUBLE. I had to finish telling the story of these complicated, vibrant people who have given readers so much enjoyment throughout the series. Some of the things that happen in this book are also inspired by real life. This family saga explores the many facets of love, heartache, betrayal, and addiction, which are all things I’ve personally witnessed in my own family. I hope readers will take away a spiritual lesson from this book—that love and forgiveness can mend whatever is broken.

BPM: What motivated you to become an indie author?

I initially self-published my first book, UNEXPECTED INTERRUPTIONS, because every agent and publisher I submitted my manuscript to turned it down. I knew that if I wanted my story to be published and widely read, I would have to take control and do it myself. Self-publishing was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It was a great learning experience and the insight I gained taught me so much about how the publishing industry works. Although I’m now signed with a publishing company, I still utilize many of the same grassroots marketing and promoting techniques I used when I was self-published.

BPM: Does your upbringing or life experiences inspire your writing?

I believe my upbringing and life experiences have directly impacted the subjects about which I write. Most people write what they’re familiar with. I grew up in a small, Southern town, and my writing is starting to reflect that more and more.

BPM: Do you write full-time? Do you write every day? Do you have a special time to write?

I’ve been writing full-time since 2007, which is a real blessing. I make every effort to write each day, even if I’m only re-writing what I’ve already written; I consider that writing. Sometimes it’s hard to write every day though, because there are so many other things a writer has to do, like market, promote, and sell our books. That part of publishing can be more challenging and time-consuming than actually writing. I’ve found that my most productive and creative writing takes place at night and during the wee hours of the morning. I’m a nighthawk and that helps.

BPM: Where do your book ideas come from? Are your books plot driven or character driven?
My ideas for my books come from a combination of real life experiences, insight, and my vivid imagination. I love coming up with interesting twists on ordinary situations. I think that’s how most things unfold in real life. My books are definitely character driven and the characters carry the plot of the story based on their actions. I create a detailed biography for each one of my characters so that I know them inside and out, which also allow me to write in their voice and not my own.

BPM: Introduce us to your current work. What separates this story from the millions of other books on the shelves? Is this book available in digital forms like Nook and Kindle?

My current novel TROUBLEMAKER, takes readers on a fast-paced ride with the Small family during the course of a weekend trip that reveals hidden secrets, betrayal, blackmail, and an addiction that threatens to tear them apart. I believe one of the things that sets TROUBLEMAKER apart from many other books in the women’s contemporary fiction genre, is the setting. Most storylines in the genre are set against the backdrop of big cities and even exotic locales overseas. This book is set in a small, sleepy Southern town that has a personality all its own. As one who hails from a small town in the South I can attest first-hand that the juiciest twists and most salacious scandals take place in small towns…’cause folks don’t have much to do but cause or get into trouble! My books are available in paperback as well as ebook, and some are also available in audio.

BPM: Give us an insight into your main characters. What makes each one so special?

My main characters are beautifully flawed women and men who are searching for what we all ultimately want, which is love, happiness, and peace of mind. They are good people who sometime make bad choices, but in doing so they always search for the best way of recovery, as that’s what life is about. I believe the beauty of what makes my characters special is that they genuinely care about the larger world and have a deep love for humanity.

BPM: Can you outline some areas where your characters dealt with issues that are in current affairs?

One issue that the family in TROUBLEMAKER deals with is the struggle of addiction, and in particular, substance abuse. Christian, who is Victoria’s and Ted’s son, is struggling with drug addiction. He’s a functioning addict, and while he presents a nice looking package on the outside, he’s torn up on the inside. I don’t know one single family that hasn’t been affected by addiction of some kind, or know of someone who is struggling with it. I provide information in the back of the book that lists resources people can contact for help.

BPM: What topics are primarily discussed? Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?

The topics discussed in TROUBLEMAKER range from infidelity, to blackmail, to dealing with addiction. The primary topic or theme of this story that I believe readers will take away from the book is the ability to love unconditionally and forgive with an open heart.

BPM: What would you like for readers to take away from your writing? How do you go about reaching new readers?

I always want readers to feel as though they were entertained while reading my books and when they finish, I want them to have gained a new or different understanding of how to look at life from with a broader view that dispels stereotypes. I love meeting new readers and I’m constantly seeking ways to grow my audience by utilizing social media and good ol’ fashion face-to-face hellos. I love attending book club meetings and literary events where I can meet people up close and personal. There’s nothing like the personal touch!

BPM: What defines success for you, as a published author? What are your ambitions for your writing career? What would you like to accomplish after the book is released?

Success for me as a published author means developing a literary career that will give readers enjoyment for decades to come. When I hear readers say that they enjoyed my books so much that they read them over and over, or that they can’t wait to introduce my work to their daughter, or niece, or friend, it gives me a great deal of satisfaction and lets me know that my work will live on. That’s an awesome feeling!

BPM: Were there any challenges in bringing this story to life?

My biggest challenge in bringing this story to life was finding the time to write it. Writing a book requires discipline, daily commitment, and hours upon hours of uninterrupted time. Many days I didn’t leave the house, phone calls didn’t get returned, and errands were not done because I had to write. Exercising focused discipline is the only way you’re going to complete a book. When you have a busy life filled with activities that can easily distract you, it can be challenging to find the time to write each day. I had to prioritize and develop a writing schedule that allowed me to divide my time between living my life and writing my book. Balance is necessary.

BPM: What are your expectations for this series of books?

I would like to see this series become a #1 Book Club designated read across the country, and eventually make it to the big screen. The nuances of family dynamics, race relations, and class stratification all make for interesting discussion and jaw-dropping drama that I’m sure readers and audiences will enjoy. Also, I throw in a little steamy romance that adds spice to my stories.


Books by Trice Hickman

Purchase Troublemaker (An Unexpected Love Novel)
by Trice Hickman. Go here:
Available in all ebook formats and wherever books are sold

Unexpected Love Novel Series by Trice Hickman
* Unexpected Interruptions
* Keeping Secrets & Telling Lies
* Playing the Hand You're Dealt

* Looking for Trouble

* Troublemaker

To learn more about Trice Hickman and her books, please visit her website at If you’re interested in taking your first step toward becoming a published author, please contact Trice for a one-on-one coaching session by clicking on the Writer’s Corner page on her site.


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