About the Books

Three book series with a single mission to educate, entertain, inform, & inspire


Gripped Part 1: The Truth We Never Told

The Gold Winner for “Best Teen Book” in the 2022 Readers’ Choice Book Awards

In high school, Taylor Dunkin broke more records than any other athlete to step foot in Montgomery, Massachusetts. As a sophomore in college, he was ranked by ESPN as one of the NFL’s top 100 prospects. However, his aspirations came to a jarring halt when a season-ending injury sent him spiraling into a dark world of pain, depression, and addiction.

One year later, Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential investigation headed by the Boston Police Department. He has entangled himself in a crime ring notorious for pushing drugs on local college campuses. Montgomery’s hometown hero has fallen hard, and he’s taking a lot of people down with him.

Luke Davids has become the middleman between Taylor and teens in Montgomery who want to buy drugs. Freshmen Cathy Kagelli, Chris Dunkin, and Jason Davids are just a few of the students at Montgomery Lake High who have fallen victim to the benzos and opiates supplied by Taylor and Luke.  

When Taylor’s youngest brother Marc discovers that Taylor is behind the copious amount of pills circulating around his high school, he sets off to not only reverse the damage Taylor has caused, but also save his lifelong role model from becoming a casualty of America’s deadly opioid epidemic.

“Invigorating, engaging and a must read. The characters in The Gripped Series diligently tackle the essence of forces that can limit greatness within.” – LaTonya Pinkard of Netflix’s Emmy-winning series ‘Last Chance U’

Gripped Part 2: Blindsided

“What other drugs have you tried?” Lisa asked.

“Weed, mushrooms, ecstasy, mescaline, acid, Adderall, Xanax, Klonopin, and Vicodin, but this one is, by far, the best,” Chris replied without any hesitation.

Lisa widened her eyes. “Wow. You’ve tried a lot of stuff since we broke up.”

Fourteen-year-old Chris Dunkin is known for being the life of the party and everyone’s favorite friend. Despite his amicable nature, he carries around deep-seated pain from his childhood that he frequently numbs with alcohol and drugs.

After hosting a party, Chris wakes up with a strange vibe running through his body and no recollection of the previous night. When he learns the horrifying truth of what his night entailed, the trajectory of his life is changed forever.

Gripped Part 3: The Fallout

After a near-death experience, Chris Dunkin begins surrounding himself with positive influences and putting his efforts towards living a clean lifestyle. However, the night before school starts, his best friend Jason convinces him to host a party that shows Chris more about himself than he actually wants to know.

Eighteen-year-old Marc Dunkin has received word from a detective that his oldest brother Taylor is a person of interest in a highly confidential case headed by the Boston Police Department. They know Taylor’s clean; they know he wants out of the game; and they want to help make that happen. However, their “help” will come at a cost—one that may put Taylor and his entire family in grave danger.

Twenty-three-year-old Taylor Dunkin is trying to get his life back in order after an opiate addiction wreaked havoc on his once promising athletic future. Getting clean was a difficult feat, but breaking free from the Bilotti crime ring will present an even greater challenge.

Gripped Part 4: Smoke & Mirrors

After spending her first month of high school grounded, Cathy Kagelli is finally allowed to socialize and uncover what her boyfriend, Jason Davids, has been up to without her. When Cathy realizes Jason has been experimenting with a variety of drugs, she devises a plan to save him from himself… but she just may lose herself in the process.

Meanwhile Taylor Dunkin finds himself playing a game with even higher stakes because his life, his reputation, and the safety of everyone he loves are all on the line. Taylor’s two younger brothers, Jordan and Marc, have been at odds for years, but they are brought together to decipher the mysterious clues Taylor is leaving regarding his whereabouts. As secrets are revealed, the Dunkin boys’ relationships will be changed forever.

In Taylor’s weakest moment, he made a deal with the devil, and now there is a reckoning. But who will pay the price?

Gripped Part 5: Taylor’s Story

The Silver Winner for “Best Teen Book” in the 2022 Readers’ Choice Book Awards

Taylor Dunkin is missing.
The last message Jordan Dunkin receives from Taylor leads him to Taylor’s abandoned Jeep. Each of Taylor’s family members holds a piece of the puzzle, and as the Dunkins begin putting the details together, they are awakened to the possibility they may never see Taylor again.

No one can find Missy Kent.
Missy’s boyfriend Luke Davids last saw her dancing with their friends at a nightclub, but she hasn’t responded to anyone’s texts or calls for hours.

Everything is connected.
Taylor and Missy’s friends are dangerously close to learning the truth, but their ignorance might be the only thing keeping them safe. Every clue is leading them closer to peril.

The fifth book in the Gripped series moves through details at a thrilling pace. Secrets are revealed and lives are at stake. Taylor, Missy, their friends, and their families must figure out who they can trust before it’s too late.

Montgomery Lake High

Montgomery Lake High #1: The Right Person

Growing up in the shadow of two NFL-destined cousins, Chris Dunkin has high hopes for his own future in football. However, a drug addiction threatens to destroy everything he has worked hard to attain. When Chris meets Courtney Angeletti—the mayor’s straightedge Christian daughter—he believes she could be the source of inspiration he needs to overcome his destructive lifestyle.

Courtney, however, has other ideas.

The desire to rebel has been tugging on Courtney’s heartstrings for some time, and Chris’s “bad-boy” reputation draws her to him like a moth to a flame. After all, he is a central part of the most popular clique in her high school. Will Chris pull Courtney away from her faith or will Courtney inspire him to overcome his rebellious lifestyle?

“I recommend The Right Person to teenagers entering into or already in high school. There are important lessons in this book about the impacts of peer pressure and the ensnaring trap of drugs and alcohol. Under all the darkness of painful heartbreak and mistakes, there is a glimmer of the greatest hope available to mankind.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia

“The Right Person depicts the struggles many kids encounter during their high school years through the eyes of compelling characters. I recommend this book to both students currently in high school and middle schoolers preparing for these tricky years. It is a reminder of God’s presence in our lives and the importance of seeking strength through him in times of uncertainty.” – Kelly Mitchell, University of Notre Dame

Montgomery Lake High #2: When Darkness Tries To Hide

Students at Montgomery Lake High believe the ominous clouds and impending storm will only bring a temporary interruption to their regularly scheduled lives. However, when the tempest grows worse and a classmate’s life hangs in the balance, students must pull together to support each other and seek help for their friend. As the lines between cliques dissolve, dark secrets are revealed and hearts are transformed.

“The second installation in the ‘Montgomery Lake High’ series takes an honest look into the social lives of affluent high school students who are beginning to learn that popularity is not fulfilling their need for happiness. This book is desperately needed for its unapologetic look into the effects of drugs and alcohol in the lives of teenagers, as well as their journeys to escape such a destructive lifestyle.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia

“The struggles of the young adults are authentic and reflect many of the issues that teens face today-bullying, drugs, sex, self-worth, and making good choices. I particularly liked how the author instills hope throughout the book and shows the reader how Jesus Christ truly can make all the difference.” – Lorilyn Roberts, award-winning Christian Author

“The theme of light and darkness is relevant to everyone. No matter how old or young you are, the struggles of Jason, Chantal, and Chris will be applicable to your life.” – Isabelle Semas, best-selling author of The Crash

Montgomery Lake High #3: The Aftermath

At age fifteen, Jason Davids appears to have nearly any worldly thing that promises enjoyment at his disposal. Despite this, there is a persistent emptiness inside his heart. After failing to fill the void with achievements, relationships, and illicit substances, Jason finds himself intrigued by Jessie Robins: the daughter of a local pastor. How is it possible that she stands for everything his lifestyle opposes yet possesses the one thing he has been searching for all along?

“It is rare to find a narrative that is equally entertaining and educational, yet The Aftermath seems to have mastered this impactful combination. The accuracy in which the book immerses the reader into the mind and thought processes of teenagers and the bubble that is high school is so important. I would recommend this book and the entire MLH series to all middle and high school age students!” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“The Aftermath, Book 3 in the Montgomery High Series, continues with the same cast of characters and delves deeper into the lives of the protagonists, including the good and the bad that ranges from hope to despair. I’ve developed a sense of who these teens are as people and how God is working in their lives in a deep and personal way – when the coming-of-age young adults are willing. The Montgomery High Series is realistic and meaningful and something that all teens who are searching for truth and meaning in today’s chaotic world would greatly enjoy. I look forward to the next book in the series.” – Lorilyn Roberts, Christian Author

Montgomery Lake High #4: The Battle For Innocence

Jon Anderson and Chantal Kagelli are trying to live moral lives, but temptations are plaguing them in and out of school. Will they continue to be lights in their best friends’ lives or will they get pulled into the darkness?

“I would highly recommend this eye-opening book to any teen and any teen’s parent. The story demonstrates how important faith and spirituality can be to teens at this impressionable time in their lives. The teens who look to their faith to guide them through difficult situations have a much better outcome than those who do not.” – J. Dakoyannis

“The Battle for Innocence offers incredible insight and even more character development than the previous books within the MLH series. The flashbacks to the characters in middle school give detailed explanations as to why and how the many characters are the way they are in the present day; something that I have seen very few book series do. I found it very captivating to see multi-dimensional characters and related to them in a whole new way.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

“The Battle for Innocence is an extremely impactful book and an important read for teens today. It is an unfortunate truth that teenagers are confronted with so much darkness and danger in social situations on a regular basis. Stacy Padula’s writing brings dark situations to light and airs out dramatic grievances from characters’ pasts.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia

Montgomery Lake High #5: The Forces Within

After being trapped inside his own body, unable to communicate with anyone but his own thoughts, Andy Rosetti finally wakes up from the coma that controlled his life for one month. But upon awakening, Andy finds himself and his friends in an unfamiliar setting: a mansion riddled with secret passages and supernatural forces. As his friends fall prey to the entities surrounding them, Andy must figure out if the darkness lies within the mansion’s walls or within the people surrounding him.

“A mixture between “The Screwtape Letters” and a Nancy Drew novel, “The Forces Within” takes a poignantly authentic look at spiritual warfare – albeit disguised as a metaphor. A group of high school freshmen find themselves taking refuge in an old abandoned mansion deep in the woods. As mysterious occurrences begin to take place, the teenagers realize that the battle is for their lives – and their hearts. A shocking reminder of a too-often overlooked battle, this book is desperately needed to educate today’s generation.” – Mackenzie Wells, University of Georgia 

“I recommend The Forces Within to all teenagers, especially those who are currently struggling with identity and social pressures. It would be useful to read the other books in the MLH series before reading The Forces Within to fully understand the characters and their relationships to one another. The story is filled with suspense and drama, something that kept me glued to each page. High school is a time for teenagers to discover themselves and this story does a great job of describing some difficulties that are very relatable, and how to get through those daunting situations.” – Elizabeth Harvey, Emerson College

On the Right Path

Co-authored with NBA Coach Brett Gunning

NBA Coach Brett Gunning and award-winning author Stacy Padula have teamed up to create the On The Right Path (OTRP) book series. OTRP is also a non-profit organization created by Brett Gunning to guide inner-city youth on the right path to achieving their maximum potential through education, mentorship, and basketball skill development. The core principles of OTRP are guidance, inspiration, and creativity. The book series focuses on six life-skill pillars: Loving Others, Being Unselfish, Staying Healthy & Strong, Showing Respect, Showing Forgiveness, and Having Fun.

“The On The Right Path book series is one that should be read in every household. The life lessons shared through entertaining stories of basketball and faith are invaluable to young minds.” – Joel Osteen, Pastor of Lakewood Church

“The On The Right Path book series is a slam dunk! The stories are rich with important lessons that kids will enjoy reading. It belongs in every home.” – Mike D’Antoni, NBA Coach

“The On The Right Path books belong in every school, library, and home, as they teach invaluable life lessons to children in an entertaining and relatable way.” – Kevin McHale, NBA Hall of Famer