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Review blog with emphasis on graphic novels and YA & MG fiction.
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About One More Kiss
ONE MORE KISS . . .
Betty Lindholm doesn’t know whether to laugh or cry. The banner advertising the new shipment of satin at her fabric store finally arrived and now the entire town of White Pine is up in arms. How was she supposed to know there’d be a typo? Now the entire town thinks she’s proclaiming “Satan is here!” Even the gorgeous pastor with his steel-grey eyes and sexy smile . . .
. . . IS NEVER ENOUGH
Pastor Randall Sondheim is always on the lookout for excuses to drop by Betty’s shop and gaze into her lovely blue eyes. The latest is her crazy sign-could that be a sign of something more? Sweet Betty brings out the best in him but it’s the worst in him, his dark secret tragedy, that worries Randall. Can this man of God conquer his own demons to win a match made in heaven?
Betty Sondheim studied the fresh-baked apple pie in her shopping cart and wondered what in the world was happening to her. The golden-colored filling looked rich enough to be called buried treasure, the way it was artfully folded under all that flaky crust. And the bottom of the tin was still deliciously warm: No doubt the pie had just been baked that morning by Arleen Raider, who had won White Pine’s most recent Fourth of July dessert contest. Even now, she caught a glimpse of Arleen behind the Lumberjack Grocery’s bakery counter piping frosting onto cakes, her experienced baker’s hands moving with graceful ease.
This pie was going to be delicious. Arleen’s pies were always delicious.
So why did Betty suddenly want to throw the whole tin across the room and never touch another bite ever again?
Audrey Callaghan rolled her cart next to Betty’s. “Get everything you needed?” her friend asked. The pair were picking up a few extra items for that evening’s Knots and Bolts recipe exchange. Betty would never bring a store-bought pie to a recipe exchange, but she would bring one home to her husband, Randall Sondheim.
“I just need to grab some cream of tartar, then I’m done,” she said. She eyed the pie warily as she spoke. Sometimes she and Randall had Arleen’s pies with their coffee in the morning, sitting in their sun-soaked kitchen and appreciating the fact that life was too short to always eat dessert last.
She took a breath as her heart thudded, thinking of Randall and how lucky they were to have each other. Arleen’s pies were more than just dessert—they were a symbol of all that was good between them.
Her stomach roiled and she nearly dropped the tin.
So why did she feel like what was good between them suddenly made her sick?
Audrey reached out and grabbed Betty’s elbow. “Are you okay? You look pale.”
Betty set the pie back down. “I’m—I’m fine. I just don’t think I should be buying this right now. We’re trying to watch our waistlines.”
She swallowed, hating the lie but not knowing what else to say. Because deep down was the sudden realization that maybe this wasn’t about pie at all. Maybe this was about something much more exciting. And terrifying.
She forced herself to smile at Audrey, whose lovely brown eyes were watching her carefully.
“You go on and check out,” Betty said. “Let me grab the last of what I need and I’ll meet you up front.” The two women were slated to return to Betty’s when they were done at the store, to prep their food for that evening. Betty was supposed to show Audrey how to make homemade strudel dough, though her brain felt so scrambled at the moment that she wasn’t sure how she could brown toast, never mind tackle anything more complicated.
“All right,” Audrey said hesitantly. “I’ll be right up front. If you’re not there in five minutes, I’m coming to find you.”
Betty waved her off. “I’m fine. Go get one of those Hollywood magazines you like and read about the latest plastic surgery fiascos until I get there.”
Audrey smiled and headed for the front. Betty pushed her cart away from the bakery section, telling herself she was making a big deal out of nothing. Right? The fact that she didn’t want the pie didn’t mean anything else was going on.
And yet there was a fluttering in her stomach that she couldn’t lock down. She clutched the top of the cart more tightly and steered it through the store, trying to get to the spice and baking aisle as quickly as possible. But her steps slowed when her eyes landed on the aisle with toilet paper and toothpaste and…something else.
She turned her cart and stopped in front of a small row of white boxes.
She gripped the cart until her knuckles were white. That couldn’t be it, could it?
It would explain the pie, anyway. And why couldn’t it be possible? She and Randall had started trying, after all. It’s just that it had only been…well, barely a few weeks. She’d figured that it would take months, maybe even years, since she was approaching her mid-thirties. But maybe her ovaries were as impatient as the rest of her tended to be.
She glanced around to see if Audrey was anywhere nearby. When the coast was clear, she grabbed one box—then another—and stuffed them into her cart under a bag of spinach.
She steered toward the front of the store, wondering how she was ever going to check out without Audrey seeing the tests. Not that she didn’t want to tell her friend. It’s just that their other friend Willa was pregnant and due in another few weeks, and she wanted Willa to have the spotlight to herself for as long as possible. And who knew if Audrey was trying now too, what with her recent marriage to Kieran Callaghan and the dazed-in-love look she wore most days.
Betty knew spilling news about babies and pregnancy could be complicated. Women had funny reactions to it all sometimes.
She took a steadying breath. Bigger than all that, though, was the fact that she wanted to tell Randall everything first. She wanted to pull her husband close and feel his strong arms around her, and have it be just their secret. For a time anyway.
If she even was pregnant.
It was a huge if. After all, everything she was feeling could be indigestion. Gas. Heartburn from all that spicy chili she made earlier in the week.
Audrey waved as Betty approached the check-out. Audrey’s wedding ring glinted under the bright store lights. Her shopping bags were resting on the floor by her feet. And now, standing next to Audrey, was her sister Casey, who’d just moved to town recently. Snow fell gently outside the windows facing the grocery store parking lot, blanketing the blacktop in white.
“Look who I found!” Audrey said, bumping her sister with her shoulder. “Looks like we’re all here trying to get ready for tonight’s recipe exchange.”
“Hi Casey,” Betty said, trying to sound like it was a regular Thursday afternoon and she didn’t have two pregnancy tests shoved into the bottom of her cart. “You settling into town okay?”
“So far so good,” Casey said, looking like a carbon copy of Audrey—but with more beige in her wardrobe. She shifted the bags in her hands. “The job is great, and I’m unpacking slowly but surely. Audrey here tells me you’re teaching her to make strudel.”
“That’s just it,” Betty said, turning to Audrey, “I’m, ah, not feeling so hot, and I think you’d better just drop me off at home. Sorry about that, Audrey. We can do the strudel next week.”
Audrey nodded sympathetically. “It’s absolutely fine. Let’s get you into bed. You looked like you were going to pass out back there in the bakery.”
“Maybe you could pull the car around?” Betty asked, eyeing her items again. She didn’t want to put them on the conveyor belt in front of her friend. “I’d appreciate it.”
“Of course,” Audrey said. “I’m all checked out. It’s no problem.”
Audrey gave her sister a quick hug. “See you later, Casey.”
Casey opened her mouth to answer, then closed it sharply. Her golden-brown eyes widened and she swallowed visibly. Betty and Audrey followed her gaze to a nearby end-cap of cereal where a tall, broad-shouldered man was checking out nutrition labels. He picked up a box and frowned at the small print, the cardboard seeming small and flimsy in his massive hands.
Betty realized it was Abe Cameron, their local fire lieutenant.
As if he knew he was being watched, Abe turned around and spotted the cluster of ladies. He nodded and smiled at them, teeth flashing bright white. His gaze lingered for a few long moments. Was it Betty’s imagination, or were his eyes locked onto Casey’s?
Next to her, Casey stiffened. Nervous energy was radiating off her. There was a crackle in the air Betty couldn’t hear—but she could sure feel it. After a long moment, Abe broke the stare and turned away. But Casey’s eyes kept tracking on Abe, even as he pushed his cart away, down toward the frozen food section. And no wonder. His ass was gloriously tight and high as he walked along.
“Some view,” Betty said. “I bet you could bounce a quarter off those cheeks.”
Audrey chuckled. “Casey looks like she could watch him leave all day.”
Casey blushed so red, Betty swore she could feel heat radiating off the poor girl’s face.
“Next,” the cashier said, jolting them all out of their fireman reverie.
“I’ll get the car,” Audrey said, grabbing her bags and fumbling for her keys.
“I’ll join you,” Casey said, tearing her eyes away from the retreating form of Abe. “I’m all set here, too.”
Betty let out a small breath, watching them go. She unloaded her cart quickly, shoving the pregnancy tests on the belt between some clementines and oatmeal, her foot tapping out a steady rhythm on the floor. Now that the idea of being pregnant was in her head, all she wanted to do was to find out for sure—one way or another. Gray areas never sat well with her. Finally, she paid the cashier, then bundled everything into her canvas shopping bag.
Outside, Audrey pulled up to the front doors, and Betty dashed through the falling snow to meet her. She pulled the car door shut against the cold and kept her shopping bag clutched on her lap. Drive fast, she begged Audrey silently as her friend pulled away from the Lumberjack Grocery and toward home.
About Kim Amos
Kim Amos is a romance writer whose Midwestern roots run deep. You can usually find her hanging out in a state that borders the Great Lakes. She is married to an artisan ice cream maker, which is a dangerous complement to her enduring love for cheese. Learn more at www.kimamoswrites.com.
The second and third books in Laurie McBain’s Dominick Trilogy are finally available! Enter for your chance to win the entire series!
Chance the Winds of Fortune Excerpt
Rhea blinked in disbelief. “What an insufferable man you are. And whether you are, as you would have me believe, a marquis, or whether you are a tinker, I would still find you the rudest, most vulgar individual I have ever had the misfortune to encounter.”
“I am impressed by this splendid show of ladylike disdain, feigned though it be, but well done nonetheless. But the light of truth has revealed you in my cabin. Now, how do you explain yourself out of that?”
Dante glanced down at the map, which was lying at his feet. “Since the map is still here, I must deduce that was not your intended object in stealing on board the Sea Dragon. Rather, you wanted to make my acquaintance. Perhaps you imagined that a marquis makes love differently from other men you have known. I assure you, except for my own personal preferences, I am no different from any other man.”
Dante eyed the girl up and down, noting with distaste her limp hair and dirty clothes, and guessed she was eighteen or older. Probably older to have so arrogant a demeanor and the derring-do to beard the lion in his den. But one thing was for certain, she was old enough to be held accountable for her misdeeds. She needed to be taught a sobering lesson, one that she would not soon forget, Dante decided, for he was in no mood tonight to show leniency to anyone. Besides, odds were, if she’d had a pistol tucked away somewhere, he would be lying dead at her dainty, secondhand shoes right now.
“So, you wish to get to know me better,” Dante commented. “You have been rather inept at engaging anything more than my displeasure thus far. If your scheme is to succeed, then you will have to make a few concessions to me. You should have taken more care to learn my likes and dislikes. I am a very particular fellow about whom I let into my bed. And right now, you haven’t a ghost of a chance to fulfill that wish of yours.” Dante was pleased to see an expression of concern passing across her grimy face.
“However, that can be remedied quite easily,” he continued. “I’ve never been one to stand in the way of another’s ambition, as long as it does not interfere with mine.” He sounded almost friendly, but Rhea was not deceived, for his painful grip on her wrists had not lessened.
“Either you are hard of hearing or extremely obtuse,” Rhea declared furiously. “I despise the very sight of you and would find the burning fires of hell preferable to sharing a bed with you. I do not care if you have an arm’s length of titles to your wretched name, whatever that might be. All I desire is to get off this ship, and away from you.”
“Ah, come now, no more protestations against sharing my bed, for we both know how hollow they are,” Dante responded easily. His smile was forced, though, for this insolent chit had a way with words that cut deeply into a man’s self-esteem, and his had already been inflicted with a few jabs of late.
Dante’s gaze clashed with the violet eyes that were glowing with hatred of him, and he resented the fact that such beauty should belong to a dirty little street urchin, who would spit in his face if she thought she could get away with it unscathed. Her contempt for him was visible in every quivering ounce of her, and yet she was the one who had set out to entrap and deceive him. He was the one with the grievances, although to look at her one would think she had been the victim of foul play.
Dante allowed his eyes to linger on the contours of her face for a moment longer, a moment which seemed endless to Rhea. Then he smiled, and it was a strangely beautiful smile in spite of its coldness. Abruptly, he released her wrists, picked up the map, and walked away from her.
Titles: Dark Before the Rising Sun and Chance the Winds of Fortune
Author: Laurie McBain
Series: Dominick Trilogy books #2 and #3
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Imprint: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Chance the Winds of Fortune
Lady Rhea Claire, kidnapped and shipped to the Colonies as an indentured servant, manages with wits and courage to escape…straight into the arms of a ruthless English pirate.
For all his worldly ways, Dante Leighton, Marquis of Jacqobi and captain of the Sea Dragon, never expected to discover his redemption and his greatest treasure within the amethyst eyes of a beautiful English refugee.
Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1FBdXwa
Dark Before the Rising Sun Summary
Newly-wed, Lady Rhea Claire and Dante Leighton must return to England, where their reception is anything but warm.
Now armed with wealth and power, Dante is a target for the murderous smugglers who despoiled his family home, while Rhea’s father, the powerful Duke of Camareigh, vehemently rejects their marriage.
The two lovers thought themselves invincible together. But in the riveting conclusion of McBain’s epic trilogy, Dante’s determination to reclaim his family seat and Rhea’s desperation to win over her father threaten to cause an insurmountable rift that could break them apart forever.
Buy Link: http://amzn.to/1iCYvVG
Laurie McBain became a publishing phenomenon at age twenty-six with her first historical romance. She is a winner of the RT Reviewers’ Choice Award for Best Historical Romance Author. All of her romances were bestsellers, selling over 11 million copies. Laurie’s books have been out of print for over 5 years.
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This October the second in Gwyn Cready’s Sirens of the Scottish series, First Time with a Highlander, comes out! To celebrate, Gwyn’s here to tell us a little bit more about the inspiration behind her time-travel romances AND play a quick game of “Would You Rather.”
“People often ask me why I like to write time travel romance, and it’s a two-part answer, because there are really two questions in there—why do I like to write romance, and why do I like to write time travel.
I began to write with the intention of getting published in June, 1997 to honor my younger sister, who was a poet and photographer and who had died suddenly the month before. The sort of book I wanted to write was a book like the one a friend had given me a few months earlier—Outlander. At that time, I’d never read a romance before, and I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN. Jamie is the best sort of hero—devoted, funny, brave, smart, and supportive of the heroine. I was so hopped up on the first three Outlander novels, it was pretty much all I could talk about in the spring of 1997—and it was one of the things I talked to my sister about since her college boyfriend had been named Jamie and like the heroine in Outlander, my sister’s name was Claire. It was the last conversations I ever had with her.
So there I am, in 1997, wanting to honor my sister with a book, and certain the book I want to write is a romance like Outlander. Time travel fit in nicely for me. Outlander is a time travel novel, of course, but I’d been a time travel fan before that. The Back to the Future movies are my holy grail of time travel. I loved Somewhere in Time, of course, as well as the Terminator movies, Time After Time, and Groundhog Day. Time travel lets you quickly throw your character into adversity and see if he/she sinks or swims. The question you want readers asking in romance novels is “How, with all these challenges, will the hero and heroine still end up together?” Time travel adds another layer to that tension, specifically, “How will they end up together when each is destined to be in his/her own time?” In my mind, one of the most heroic things a character can do is give up his own time in order to be with the person he/she loves, and that’s always a tender and gripping moment to write in my books.
Which brings us to First Time with a Highlander. Serafina and Gerard were such fun characters to chase through a novel. As with Just in Time for a Highlander, the first book in the Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series, I wanted to shake things up a bit by having the hero be the person who travels to the past. Gerard is an ad man—and since I spent twenty years working in brand management at a big pharma company, I know what ad men are like. The women in this series hold positions of unusual power for women in the eighteenth century, and Serafina is no exception. She inherited a shipping concern from her father, but her blackguard of an ex-fiancé has run the business into the ground. He’s ruined her socially and financially, but Serafina is not one to take things lying down. She uses herbs she’s, ahem, “borrowed” from a famed spell-caster to summon a man to help her claim the cargo from the ship’s final voyage before her fiancé can get his hands on it. She only needs a man for one night and…well, you can imagine what that leads to in the hands of an inexperienced spell user. But Serafina is willing to pay the price—in fact, she’s quite willing once the smart, dashing Gerard appears.
Would You Rather Question: Would you rather be able to shape-shift or time travel?
I’ve always wanted to be a hawk. They’re so beautiful and hang on the breeze with barely a movement. The downside, of course, is eating mice—gah! Time travel, of course, would be great, too. And there’s always the chance to find Jamie Fraser before Claire does. I’m pretty divided on this one. I think life should be measured by the experiences we gather, and either of these scenarios would have to top.
Title: First Time with a Highlander
Author: Gwyn Cready
Series: Sirens of the Scottish, #2
Pubdate: October 6th, 2015
From the “master of time travel romance”, award-winning author Gwyn Cready continues her steamy Sirens of the Scottish Borderlands series.
She needs a man—but only for a night
What do you get when you imbibe centuries-old whiskey—besides a hangover the size of the Highlands? If you’re twenty-first century ad exec Gerard Innes, you get swept back to 18th-century Edinburgh and into the bed of a gorgeous, fiery redhead. Gerard has only a foggy idea what he and the lady have been up to…but what he does remember draws him into the most dangerous and exhilarating campaign of his life.
Be careful what you wish for…
Serafina Seonag Fallon’s scoundrel of a fiancé has left her with nothing, and she’s determined to turn the tables. If she can come up with a ringer, she can claim the cargo he stole from her. But the dashing man she summons from the future demands more than a night, and Serafina finds it easier to command the seas under her feet than the crashing waves he unleashes in her heart.
Gwyn Cready is a writer of contemporary, Scottish, and time travel romance. She’s been called “the master of time travel romance” and is the winner of the RITA Award, the most prestigious award given in romance writing. She has been profiled in Real Simple and USA Today, among others. Before becoming a novelist, she spent 25 years in brand management. She has two grown children and lives with her husband on a hill overlooking the magical kingdom of Pittsburgh.
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DANCES UNDER THE HARVEST MOON
Heartache, TN #3
Releasing Oct 1st, 2015
Heartache—the best place to heal
It’s finally Heather Finley’s moment. After spending years looking after her mother in the tiny town of Heartache, Tennessee, Heather’s about to follow her dream of singing country music. She can nearly hear the audiences hollering…until the town’s handsome mayor, Zach Chance, comes to her with troubling questions about her late father’s past. Once again, Heather has to choose: protect her family or chase her heart’s desire? Zach is determined to help, and to convince Heather that she belongs in Heartache—with him. But is he just another distraction? Or could he be the one to show Heather how a small-town love can make her big-time dreams come true?
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Three-time RITA nominee Joanne Rock has never met a romance sub-genre she didn’t like. The author of over seventy novels enjoys writing contemporary romance and medieval historicals alike, recently exploring Young Adult romance under a pseudonym. An optimist by nature and perpetual seeker of silver linings, Joanne finds romance–in all its forms– fits her life outlook perfectly. When she’s not writing, Joanne enjoys travel, especially to see her favorite sports teams play with her former sports editor husband and three athletic-minded sons.
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A LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE
A LITTLE THING CALLED LOVE
Marrying the Duke #0.5
Releasing Sept 22nd, 2015
Grandmother, grandmother, who shall it be
Who shall it be who will marry me?
Duke, Earl, a powerful marquess?
When my heart is given to Fyclan Morris…
In New York Times bestselling author Cathy Maxwell’s new novella, beautiful Jennifer Tarleton has no lack of noble suitors, but the only man who captures her attention is the one her father will never let her marry: Fyclan Morris. He’s a brash adventurer, witty, courageous…and Irish! Even worse, her father blames her for their reversal of fortune…
And it’s a fortune—or rather his grandmother the fortune teller—who foretold that Fyclan would meet “the one”, a love prophesied in the stars. He vows nothing will stand in the way of making Jennifer his bride, but is the price too high? Or is a thing called love worth every challenge?
Most gently bred young ladies of her age would be just finishing the morning toilettes after a night of balls and routs. Not this one. Crossing the street ahead of Fyclan, she walked with purpose. She glanced at her scrap of paper repeatedly as if searching for an address. Her maid had to scamper to keep up with her. Her aggrieved footman held out his arm to protect her from the heavy traffic and unwarranted advances.
Fyclan crossed the street as well, wanting to keep her in his sights.
He didn’t quite know how he would approach her or gain an introduction, but reach her he would—
His friend Bishard laid both hands on his arm and swung him around. He kept hold of Fyclan’s jacket as he waved his hand in front of his face. “Are you not listening to me? Damn it all, Morris, I’ve never seen you chase a woman before, and now you charge off like a hound on the trace of a scent.”
Fyclan laughed. “Only yesterday you chastised me for not being more aware of the fair sex. Well, now I am aware. Very aware. And I’m about to lose her, so excuse me—”
Bishard held fast. “She’s not for you.”
Those were fighting words. “And why not?”
His friend glanced around as if those on the pavement around them would be keenly interested in what he was about to say. His voice lowered. “Stowe has spoken for her.”
He referred to the marquess of Stowe, one of the wealthiest men in London. The directors of the Company were keenly interested in him. Not only did they want his money for investment, they also needed his political patronage.
Bishard’s warning did give Fyclan pause. He looked in the direction of his goddess. She was moving steadily away, a bright blue gem weaving in and out amongst a sea of drab, hard working men and women, people whose lives held no room for such a lively color.
And he knew he must not lose her. “Who is Stowe to me?” he said and would have charged off again in pursuit but his friend held on.
“She is also Miss Jennifer Tarleton, Colonel Russell Tarleton’s daughter.”
“The fool who cost us Konkan?” Fyclan referred to the battle the Company had fought against the Maratha rulers over the northern provinces. Fyclan had been the Company officer in charge and had removed the man from his command. Fyclan had lead the counter offensive himself, barely saving the Company from a humiliating defeat.
“The same. And still just as foolish. From what I understand, he is in dun territory. His only hope is to marry his daughter to a trunk full of gold. Trust me, Morris, you don’t want this one.”
“I have money.”
“But not as much as Stowe,” Bishard answered.
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New York Times Bestselling Author, Cathy Maxwell, spends hours in front of her computer pondering the question, “Why do people fall in love?” It remains for her the great mystery of life and the secret to happiness. She lives in beautiful Virginia with children, horses, dogs, and cats.
THE MATCH OF THE CENTURY
Marrying the Duke #1
Coming November 24th
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Mimi Jean Pamfiloff
Released Sept 15th, 2015
From New York Times Bestseller Mimi Jean Pamfiloff Comes a New Stand-Alone Story.
UGLY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER…
My name is Lily Snow. I am twenty-five years old, and despite being born with an unattractive face, I have never doubted who I am: smart, driven, and beautiful on the inside.
Until I met Maxwell Cole.
He’s handsome, excessively wealthy, and the owner of Cole Cosmetics. It’s been my dream to work for this man for as long as I can remember. The good news is he wants to hire me. The bad news is he wants me for all the wrong reasons. Ugly reasons.
In exchange, he’s offered me my dreams on a silver platter. The job. The title. A beautiful future. But this man is as messed up and ugly as they come on the inside. I’m not sure anyone can help him, and he just might take my heart down with him.
“So I just ran without a shirt for a quarter mile and would’ve gotten to go anyway?”
“Not really. But I wanted to make you feel bad. By the way, has anyone ever told you you’re completely mad?”
I laughed and turned around to unravel my tank top and slip it over my head, a huge smile on my face. “So, what time do we leave for the air—”
I suddenly felt his hot sweaty body pressed up against my back, his one hand on my bare waist, the other sweeping my long hair to one side. “No need to put that back on.”
My breath caught in my throat. “Wha-wha-what are you doing?” I whispered, feeling his hands slide up the front of my body and begin touching my breasts over my bra. He was hard. Really, really hard, and straining against my lower back.
“I think that’s fairly obvious; keeping our deal,” he said, his hot breath tickling my neck.
I was about to say something to explain how I didn’t really want him to do what he was doing, but it would’ve been a lie. The heat of his skin on my back, his hard cock pressing into me while his hands massaged my breasts felt better than anything I’d ever experienced.
His lips trailed down the side of my neck and stopped right on the little spot where my shoulder started.
How was this happening? Because wasn’t he…didn’t he have that problem with…?
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New York Times and USA Today bestselling Romance author, host of the radio talk show, Man Candy, on Radioslot.com.
When San Francisco native Mimi Jean went on an adventure as an exchange student to Mexico City, she never imagined the journey would lead to writing Romance. But one MBA, one sexy husband, and two rowdy kids later, Mimi would trade in corporate life for vampires, deities, and snarky humor.
She continues to hope that her books will inspire a leather pants comeback (for men) and that she might make you laugh when you need it most.
She also enjoys interacting with her fans (especially if they’re batshit crazy). You can always find her chatting away on Facebook, Twitter, or saying many naughty words on her show MAN CANDY on Radioslot.com !
Find out more about Mimi and upcoming books at www.mimijean.net
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THE LEGEND OF LYON REDMOND
Pennyroyal Green #11
Julie Anne Long
Releasing Sept 29th, 2015
Bound by centuries of bad blood, England’s two most powerful families maintain a veneer of civility…until the heir to the staggering Redmond fortune disappears, reviving rumors of an ancient curse: a Redmond and an Eversea are destined to fall disastrously in love once per generation.
Rumor has it she broke Lyon Redmond’s heart. But while many a man has since wooed the dazzling Olivia Eversea, none has ever won her—which is why jaws drop when she suddenly accepts a viscount’s proposal. Now London waits with bated breath for the wedding of a decade…and wagers on the return of an heir.
It was instant and irresistible, forbidden…and unforgettable. And Lyon—now a driven, dangerous, infinitely devastating man—decides it’s time for a reckoning. As the day of her wedding races toward them, Lyon and Olivia will decide whether their love is a curse destined to tear their families part…or the stuff of which legends are made.
Three weeks later …
Olivia Eversea sighed in the soothing, well-sprung recesses of her family’s barouche, grateful for the solitude if only for the duration of the drive from St. James Square to the Strand.
It was perhaps an acknowledgment of how insufferable she’d been lately that her family had let her go to Madame Marceau’s alone.
The discussion over whether she ought to have silver trim on her wedding dress, like poor Princess Charlotte, or perhaps even beading along the hem, which would be much more expensive, but wouldn’t she just glow like an angel (her mother’s words) in it, had become absurdly impassioned, and subtle insults may even have flown, and her even-tempered sister, Genevieve, may even have slammed a door. Or, rather, shut it emphatically, which was close as Genevieve ever came to throwing a tantrum.
Minutes of sullen silence later, they had fallen into each other’s arms, all apologies.
Olivia knew she was being difficult and prickly and she was somehow skillfully bringing out the worst in everyone she knew, herself most particularly. She was doing all of them a mercy by taking herself off to the modiste’s alone.
And she still didn’t know what kind of trim she wanted.
Did no one see the irony in choosing the same trim as the poor doomed Princess Charlotte, who had married the man she wanted to marry, rather than the man her father preferred her to marry? She had promptly then died horribly in childbirth, casting all of England into mourning.
Olivia wondered how many parents in England used Charlotte as a cautionary tale. See what awaits you if you don’t listen to me?
Olivia was satisfied that she, at long last, had made a sensible choice from the years of suitors. Everyone in her family approved of him.
She peered out the window as the Eversea barouche rolled through the noisy, colorful, lively throngs of the Strand. Pye men and puppeteers and costermongers and pickpockets wove in and out of gorgeously dressed men and women aglow with wealth and flawless breeding. The Strand’s lively dissonance would resonate nicely with her mood and she expected to find it soothing. And she liked Madame Marceau’s shop, she truly did. It was a hushed, feminine paradise. It was just that she’d had so many fittings she’d begun to feel a bit like a calf being measured for chops.
She was to have silk petticoats and fine lawn night rails, traveling dresses and walking dresses and riding habits, gloves both kid and cotton, stockings both silk and woolen, ball gowns in silks and satins in glowing, muted jewel tones, along with fascinators and feathers and furbelows. It was a veritable avalanche of finery, or perhaps a bulwark of finery, she thought dryly, for surely abandoning it would inspire such crippling guilt that Olivia wouldn’t dream of fleeing?
Not only that, but nearly every relative from both sides of her family would be convening upon Pennyroyal Green, Sussex, in May, and there would be not only a wedding, but a ball. Reinforcements was what she called these relatives, but not out loud.
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Julie Anne Long originally set out to be a rock star when she grew up, and she has the guitars and the questionable wardrobe stuffed in the back of her closet t prove it. When playing to indifferent crowds at midnight in dank clubs lost its, ahem, charm, she realized she could incorporate all of the best things about being in a band—namely, drama, passion and men with unruly hair—into novels, while at the same time indulging her love of history and research. So she made the move from guitar to keyboard (the computer variety) and embarked on a considerably more civilized, if not much more peaceful, career as a novelist.
Julie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with a fat orange cat. (Little known fact: they issue you a cat the minute you become a romance novelist.)
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KEEPING WHAT’S HIS
Porter Brothers Trilogy #1
Releasing September 29th, 2015
Young Ink Press
The Porter Brother’s were raised to live and die by Three Rules
One, a Porter stands his ground
Two, a Porter leaves no enemy standing
Sutton Creech was a cheat and a liar. Tate Porter had found that out when he was eighteen, and he had no intention of letting her make a fool out of him again. He didn’t care how much pain he saw in her eyes or how old memories tugged at his unforgiving heart until, the night a hidden secret is revealed and everything Tate had believed about their past is shattered, proving he had let the woman he loved get away.
Between trying to protect his family and running their pot growing business, Tate doesn’t have time to play the “Nice Guy”. He’d just have to remember the most important rule his father had given them: A Porter always keeps what’s his.
“How long you staying?”
“I haven’t made up my mind yet,” Sutton answered.
“Your parents must be glad you’ve come home for a visit.”
Sutton remained quiet as she turned back to the door, placing her hand on the door knob. “Thanks again for helping me inside.”
Tate’s brow rose at her abrupt dismissal. Going back through the door, he placed a hand on it before she could close it behind him.
“I wouldn’t stay out here too late. It’s not safe,” he warned.
This time, it was her turn to lift a brow in his direction. “Don’t tell me you’re still growing weed and keeping poachers away.”
Tate’s face flushed angrily. “When did you become a bitch?”
Sutton gave him a mocking smile. “I’m not eighteen anymore.”
His eyes roved over her body insultingly. “No, you’re not. I hope you’re not planning on seeing Cash while you’re in town. He’s married to Rachel now, and I don’t want you causing trouble for my sister.”
“I know, and I have no intention of seeking out Cash.” Sutton lost her smile. Cash wasn’t why she was here.
“Good. They’re happy, and they don’t need you trying to stir up trouble.”
“Since you want to talk straight, I’ll reciprocate. I’ll repeat what I said: I have no intention of seeing Cash. I won’t say it was good seeing you again, Tate, because it wasn’t.” Sutton slammed the door and locked it. She held her breath, listening for sounds from the other side of the door. It was several minutes before she heard him walking away.
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“I was born in a small town in Kentucky. My family began poor, but worked their way to owning a restaurant. My mother was one of the best cooks I have ever known, and she instilled in all her children the value of hard work, and education.
Taking after my mother, I’ve always love to cook, and became pretty good if I do say so myself. I love to experiment and my unfortunate family has suffered through many. They now have learned to steer clear of those dishes. I absolutely love the holidays and my family puts up with my zany decorations.
For now, my days are spent writing, writing, and writing. I have two children who both graduated this year from college. My daughter does my book covers, and my son just tries not to blush when someone asks him about my books.
Currently I am writing five series of books- The Last Riders, The VIP Room, Predators MC, Biker Bitches, and The Dark Souls.
All my books are written for one purpose- the enjoyment others find in them, and the expectations of my fans that inspire me to give it my best.”
Message From The Authors Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann
Mel: Wild Sky is a paranormal story, set in Florida, approximately fifty years in the future. In this world, a small percentage of people, mostly girls and young women, are born with a chemical in their blood that gives them superpowers like telekinesis or extraordinary strength.
Suz: Nicknamed “Greater-Thans” or “G-Ts,” these girls have been targeted for kidnapping by bad guys who harvest their blood and use it to manufacture a drug called “Destiny.” Destiny is extremely expensive, highly addictive, and ultimately fatal, but before the user dies from it, the drug reverses the aging process, heals illness and injury, and gives the addict super powers, too.
Mel: It’s pretty scary stuff! Oh, and just an FYI: Although Wild Sky is the sequel to Night Sky, you don’t have to read Night Sky for Wild Sky to make sense!
Suz: All you really need to know is that in Night Sky sixteen-year-old Skylar Reid discovers that she’s a Greater-Than with some serious superpowers.
Mel: And that Sky and her best friend Calvin–a really upbeat kid who’s spent most of his life in a wheelchair–have some dangerous adventures with another tough-girl G-T named Dana, and Dana’s extremely (ahem) attractive sidekick Milo.
Suz: Sky and Milo really hit it off, so in Wild Sky, they’re a bit of an item.
Mel: A bit! In Wild Sky, Sky and her friends get into more trouble as they search for Dana’s sister, Lacey, who disappeared years ago and has been presumed dead.
Suz: But now Sky’s got reason to believe Lacey’s being held captive in a Destiny “farm.” And of course, high jinks ensue, and our beloved character Calvin is put into extreme danger–although throughout most of it, he holds onto his crazy sense of humor!
Mel: We both love Calvin very much!
Suz: And Sky does, too! When we developed the Night Sky series, we wanted to center it around a main character we could easily relate to. And even though we grew up in very different circumstances –
Mel: Mom has an older sister, I have a younger brother. My dad was a lawyer, my mom a writer. My mom’s parents were both teachers.
Suz: I grew up listening to the Beatles –
Mel: Christina Aguilera.
Suz: Watching Star Trek.
Mel: Full House.
Suz: Paul Newman!
Mel: Bradley Cooper!
Suz: But despite all of those superficial differences, Mel and I shared experiences far too common to teenage girls. Waves of self-doubt, with occasionally soul-crushing periods of insecurity.
Mel: Yet even at our lowest moments, we knew that there were things we were really good at.
Suz: And that’s where Sky came from. A young woman whose primary goal is to fit in with her peers, but whose G-T status makes that virtually impossible. Or so she believes.
Mel: Of course, her friends recognize Sky for who she really is – a funny, loyal young woman with a huge heart — whose superpowers only add to her awesomeness. But for Skylar, nothing comes easy. Everything seems to be on shaky ground – her budding romantic relationship with Milo, her ability to help Dana find Lacey, even her friendship with Calvin.
Suz: It’s that very human mix of vulnerabilities and strengths that make Skylar so special.
Mel: We hope readers see Wild Sky as not just a really exciting, action-packed adventure, but a story about Skylar’s quest – and really every teenage girl’s quest — to own her awesome.
Suz: Because we truly believe that everyone is born with abilities that – no matter how seemingly small or insignificant — should be recognized and celebrated! It is our differences that make us Greater-Than.
Wild Sky Excerpt
I wish I could say I’d never witnessed a windshield shatter before, but I’d been in a terrible car accident a few years back, so I knew exactly what it looked and sounded like.
There’s a weird silence that happens immediately after something like that, in which everything seemed to occur in slo-mo. I forced my mouth to move.
“Gunshot!” I shouted, because I could see both Cal and Garrett looking wildly around, trying to process exactly what that noise was and what had just happened. “Bullet to car window! Over to the right.”
The broken windshield belonged to a beat-up sedan parked two slots down from us in the Sav’A’Buck lot. Someone had fired a gun, just once, probably from somewhere near the grocery store’s front doors, judging from that broken front window. Shards of glass made tinkling sounds as they careened off the front of the car and onto the pavement.
“Gunman at the store door, get down get down get down!” Calvin shouted, and I stupidly turned to look instead of diving onto the floor of his car, and he grabbed me by the shirt and yanked me down just as the shooter must’ve flipped the switch from one shot to massacre, and the gun began going off, popping bullets through the air.
BOOM BOOM BOOM POP BOOM!
I braced for them to hit Cal’s car, covering my head as I prepared for a rain of glass, but the man with the giant gun must’ve been pointing it in a different direction, because I heard the ping of punctured metal and breaking glass, but it wasn’t from our car.
I could hear someone screaming—high-pitched and frantic—even as Garrett yelled, “Calvin, drive!”
“Don’t,” I told Cal as I closed my eyes and focused on that glimpse I’d seen before he’d pulled me to relative safety.
Single gunman. Carrying…
A big gun. And something else…?
I focused on calling up the image, and yes, he was carrying some- thing under his left arm, some kind of brightly colored sack, with his assault rifle tucked into his right elbow—this tall, broad man, maybe twenty years old, buzz cut, scar above his eyebrow.
That screaming—it had been a child’s voice. She was silent now, but I realized with a flash that I hadn’t seen a colorful bag but instead the cheerfully patterned clothing of a little girl. That man with the gun was abducting a little girl. And I bet I knew why.
“Gimme!” I said and reached back to grab one of the water guns from beside Garrett.
“Sky!” Cal exclaimed. “Don’t—”
I didn’t wait to hear what he thought I shouldn’t do. I’d yanked my hood up over my head, hiding my red hair and as much of my face as I could, and I was already out of the car and on the asphalt, heading toward the man who was still firing that gun. He was using it not to kill, thank goodness, but to keep the little girl’s family from following him. I could see with just one glance that she was unconscious, as he tossed her none too carefully into the passenger seat of his shiny black Bimmer. He had a nice car. And I was pretty sure I knew how he’d paid for it—by kidnapping little girls like this one, like Sasha, too, and selling them to the Destiny makers.
“Hey! ” I belted out. But my voice was buried beneath the cacophony of his weapon. I had to move fast, or he was going to get into his snazzy car and that little girl would be gone.
I took a deep breath and concentrated. Water versus bullets? Not normally much of a contest there.
But I could do this. Couldn’t I?
Suddenly, I heard Dana’s voice in my head, shouting Fail! Fail! What are you doing, Bubble Gum? You have no backup, you have no plan!
What was I doing? This was insane.
Still thoughts. I closed my eyes and pictured Milo. I breathed him, I felt him, I heard him. Still thoughts, Sky. Just let it go…
And in that moment in which I was specifically not thinking about what I was about to do or what the consequences would be if I failed, I felt and then saw my enormous pile of plastic water pistols—there were sixteen of them total—shoot out from the backseat of Calvin’s car and through the passenger side window that I’d left open. They streamed toward me like metal particles toward a magnet.
Then, just as quickly, all but one—a little green one—swooped in front of me before lining up and hovering in midair.
The little green plastic water gun zoomed over to the man with the real gun and smacked him in the face.
“What the hell…?” He fumbled his weapon as he turned to see me standing there—me and that collection of water guns—and his eyes widened.
“Holy shit, Sky!” With the noise from the assault weapon silenced, I could hear Garrett shouting, and I winced inwardly because he’d used my name.
But whatever he said next was muffled, and Cal’s voice rang out instead. “Hoshitski, look out!”
It was an intentional misdirect, and I tried to stand like a Hoshitski might, no doubt surly from years of being teased. I pitched my voice lower and ordered, “Drop it! Now!”
The gunman’s wide eyes narrowed, and we both knew he wasn’t going to drop his weapon, so before he could turn and kill me, I let loose my TK and blasted him. All of those plastic guns shot water from their barrels with the intensity of sixteen narrow but powerful fire hoses, and it sent the man down onto the ground so hard that I heard his head as it smacked against the pavement.
The gun he’d been holding clattered to the ground.
All of my weapons ceased water-fire and dropped onto the pavement in front of the unconscious shooter.
The silence that followed was eerie. I felt a little dazed, standing there with a single, silly-looking pink water gun still in my hand, staring at the downed man and his big real gun, and then over at the bullet-riddled storefront of the Sav’A’Buck.
Title: Wild Sky
Authors: Suzanne and Melanie Brockmann
Release Date: October 6, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal)
Book Cover: Attached
Author Photo: Attached
Skylar is a girl with extraordinary power. A girl with a mission to use her Greater-Than gifts to stop the makers of Destiny from getting people hooked on their deadly drug. But Sky is still mastering her new abilities, and her first mission to destroy a Destiny lab leaves her best friend addicted to the drug. For a few days Cal will be able to walk again – until it kills him. Time is running out for Sky to save the world without sacrificing her friends, to become truly Greater-Than…
Amazon – http://bit.ly/YAWild
Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/1WpnUkB
iBooks – http://apple.co/1PFLKEO
Suzanne Brockman, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author, has won 2 RITA awards, numerous RT Reviewers’ Choice, and RWA’s #1 Favorite Book of the Year three years running. She has written over 50 books, and is widely recognized as a “superstar of romantic suspense” (USA Today). Suzanne and her daughter, Melanie Brockmann, have been creative partners, on and off, for many years. Their first project was an impromptu musical duet, when then-six-month-old Melanie surprised and delighted Suz by matching her pitch and singing back to her. Suzanne splits her time between Florida and Massachusetts while Mel lives in Sarasota, Florida. NIGHT SKY is Mel’s debut and Suzanne’s 55th book. Visit Suzanne at www.SuzanneBrockmann.com.
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Please give a warm welcome to Dixie Lee Brown!
Top Five Reasons Why Military Heroes are Hot by Dixie Lee Brown
I’m excited to be here at the Manga Maniac Café today to talk about my top five reasons military heroes are HOT! However you prefer your heroes, maybe you’ll identify with some of these.
5) What makes military men hot? The uniform, of course! A man all cleaned, pressed, and buttoned up automatically lets our heroine know that, if nothing else, he should be able to pick up his dirty clothes and throw them in the hamper. Right? But it goes far beyond that. Even a man in fatigues seems to do it for our heroine. It tells her he’s disciplined, he pays attention to detail, he’s protective, and fresh from the fight.
Remember these great lyrics from this song, Holding Out For a Hero, sung by Bonnie Tyler in the movie, Footloose?
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night.
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight.
A hero fresh from the fight is hot! Of course, it doesn’t hurt if the uniform he’s wearing showcases broad shoulders, thighs of steel, and a chest that screams lean-on-me.
4) The military hero is in top physical condition due to the nature of his job. Garrett, the hero in my new release, is an Army Ranger. Ranger school is grueling by itself, but that’s not the end of a Ranger’s training. When they’re not deployed on a mission or on leave, they’re learning new techniques or improving old ones. These heroes have strong muscles and mad skills! Who wouldn’t go for a hero like that?
3) Military men learn to operate as a unit. The team is crucial. They come to rely on the man next to them and would do anything to protect that man. To the heroine, the no man left behind adage is very sexy! It shows the ability to commit.
2) Our hero exudes integrity and courage. He commands respect with action, words, and bearing. The idea that he will stand firm in the middle of a crisis, and that our heroine can count on him for safety and security makes him a true hero in her sight. Nothing is hotter than knowing your man has your back when it counts.
1) The top reason military men are hot becomes evident when the uniform comes off. No, I’m not talking about those rock-hard abs…or those amazing buns. (Although that sounds pretty good too!) I’m referring to the sensitive man who appears when he removes his armor. The man who can love his woman unselfishly and with abandon, but who might need a little help to realize he’s a hero to her. If you love strong and sensitive heroes, you’ll love my new book.
Woot! That was fun. Thanks for stopping by and please leave me a comment and tell me about your favorite hero.
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RESCUED BY THE RANGER
RESCUED BY THE RANGER
Dixie Lee Brown
Releasing on Sept 8th, 2015
Protecting those in trouble is what Army Ranger Garrett Harding does best. But after helping a feisty redhead toss a couple of losers from her Idaho bar, the woman is anything but grateful for his assistance—in fact, she seems to know him. Worse, she almost certainly hates him.
The only thing Rachel Maguire wants is to send this smart-mouthed, muscled military man packing. She knows Garrett has his own reasons for staying, so when he offers Rachel a deal—two days to prove his worth or he leaves—she reluctantly agrees. Despite wanting to loathe him, Rachel finds herself drawn to his quiet confidence…and the way he fills out a t-shirt.
But when Rachel receives a phone call from the past, everything changes. The stalker who destroyed her life ten years ago is closing in once more. Refusing to put anyone else in harm’s way, Rachel hits the road hoping to lure danger away from those she loves. But Garrett won’t leave this sexy spitfire to face her stalker alone. He’ll do anything to protect her. Even if it means risking his life—and his heart.
She stood with elbows braced against the far side of the bar, drawing down on the kid with the rifle she gripped like a modern-day Annie Oakley, and Garrett didn’t doubt her threat for a minute. Clearly, however, the dimwitted kid didn’t have the sense to take her seriously. Shit. It chapped his ass to have to take this worthless scum’s side. “Uh . . . Rachel is it? Maybe we should let the police handle this.”
A disbelieving laugh burst from her. “The police are worse than Riley here.”
With her attention solely on the young Riley, Garrett sidled up to the bar, shoved the barrel of the rifle up, and pulled it from her hands. “Trust me. He’s right about this. You don’t want to do that.”
Riley picked that moment to laugh.
“Damn it. Shut up, kid, if you know what’s good for you.” Garrett’s patience was at its breaking point.
Rachel inhaled sharply, and Garrett’s attention jerked back to her. She stared at the door.
“Drop the rifle, Mister.” The new voice was deep and raspy, and it was followed by the sound of footsteps moving closer.
Garrett slowly turned to see the two men from the old Ford pickup standing one on each side of the swinging panels. Both carried sawed-off shotguns. They reminded him of Darryl and Darryl, two no-doubt inbred brothers from an old sitcom he’d watched once. These two weren’t quite as funny, though.
Riley hooted, strode toward Garrett, and confiscated the Winchester. “What the hell are you boys doin’ back here? I told you to go pick up the supplies.”
“We saw this yahoo park and go inside. Thought there could be some trouble.” Darryl #1 smirked as though that’s what he’d been hoping for.
Riley gave him a playful shove. “Oh, and you didn’t think I could handle it by myself?”
“Naw, Riley. Just didn’t want you havin’ all the fun.”
Darryl #2 chewed on a toothpick as he studied Rachel, then swept his gaze to Garrett. “Thought we was just supposed to git the girl. What we gonna do with him now?” The older of the two jabbed his shotgun toward Garrett.
“What d’ya think?” Riley smirked.
What the hell was going on here? This wasn’t some awkward kid trying to coerce a kiss out of a reluctant girlfriend. Not even close. Both parties seemed willing to kill over whatever the stakes were in this little game, and Garrett was sadly out of the loop. He met Rachel’s gaze and cocked an eyebrow in question.
“I’d say I told you so, but the satisfaction would be short-lived. Bet you wished you’d stayed on the interstate now.” She lowered her eyelids, and it appeared she was studying something below the level of the bar, then she slowly opened them again until she was looking into his once more. There was a message in her green depths—if he could only figure out what it was.
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DIXIE LEE BROWN lives and writes in Central Oregon, inspired by what she believes is the most gorgeous scenery anywhere. She resides with two dogs and a cat, who make sure she never takes herself too seriously. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, movies, and trips to the beach.
DREAMS OF HER OWN
Dreams Come True #3
Releasing November 2015
Soul Mate Publishing, LLC
Can even the unlikeliest of dreams come true?
He sees a spinsterish misfit.
If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for the world’s most boring life, Millie Stephens knows she would hold the record. After the plain, strait-laced personal assistant is saved by a total stranger from becoming New York City’s latest traffic fatality, she has a disheartening epiphany: her life’s highlight reel didn’t exist. Determined to step out of the shadows and take a walk on the wild side, she starts Millie-style – by making a list.
She sees a stereotypical thug.
That total stranger, bad boy Ian Brand, is more than the sum of his parts. Beneath that sexy, tattooed exterior is a man with a painful past who’s desperate to both hide and overcome his disability in the pursuit of his dreams. But his decision to bid on a large construction project could both lead to his downfall and reveal his secret.
Will Millie and Ian look beneath the surface and see there’s more to each other than meets the eye?
If the Guinness Book of World Records had a category for the world’s most boring life, Millie Stephens knew she would hold the record.
Bundled up in her brown wool coat against the chill of a New York fall, she hurried down the Brooklyn sidewalk to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription for her boss.
As personal assistant for best-selling romance author, Darcy Butler-Ryan, Millie kept her calendar, edited her manuscripts, handled her social media, and through her agent, Gloria Madison, scheduled her public appearances, among other duties. Since Darcy had become pregnant, Millie had also taken it upon herself to run errands and generally oversee Darcy’s health and well-being.
Thus, the trip to the pharmacy for Darcy’s anti-nausea medication.
She consulted the day’s to-do list to see what other errands were on it. Lists were her life. They provided organization, structure, and a sense of accomplishment. She loved ticking things off her list so much that if she accomplished something that wasn’t on the list, she’d write it down just so she could have the pleasure of marking it off.
She had a list for everything. Errands. Tasks. Books to be read. Special dates to remember. If something needed doing, she had a list for it, all appropriately categorized, of course. Shoving her errand list into her coat pocket, she stopped at the corner and waited for the walk signal. As soon as the light changed, she stepped out into the pedestrian crosswalk, anxious to get to the pharmacy and out of the cold. She glanced to her left and froze, as a delivery truck barreled down the street as if the red light meant nothing. And as if she truly were invisible.
Fear stole her ability to move and she scrunched her eyes closed hoping death would at least be quick. She strived for invisibility, but now she’d give anything to stand out.
Next thing she knew she was yanked from behind and hauled up against a hard object, bands of steel around her waist, her feet dangling in the air.
“Are you okay?” a gruff male voice asked, his breath warm in her ear.
She nodded, unsure if she could do any more than that.
“I’m going to set you back on your feet. Do you think you can stand?”
Nodding again, she realized the hard object at her back was a man’s chest, and the steel bands were his arms. She slid down his body and felt the sidewalk beneath her feet. A wave of dizziness washed over her.
“Breathe,” her rescuer encouraged. He turned her to face him, his hands on her shoulders, and she looked up and into eyes the color of a winter-gray sky, earnest with concern. His already tousled sandy blond hair ruffled in the wind whipping around the corner, and his chin bore the stubble so many women were fond of.
She inhaled deeply, drawing in the scent of something spicy and leathery. “Better?”
She nodded, still speechless.
“You should always wait after the signal changes before you cross a street. I’ve got an appointment. You’re sure you’re okay?”
“Be more careful next time,” the stranger in the leather jacket said before he turned to walk away.
Millie managed to put one foot in front of the other for another block before coming to a bus stop and collapsing onto the bench. Her legs shook, her hands quivered, and she struggled to take in a deep breath. All she could think about was how your life was supposed to flash before your eyes when confronted with a near-death experience, and hers . . . didn’t. Instead it was like a film projector that had run out of film – just a blank screen.
What did that mean?
It meant, Millicent Grace Stephens, that your life has been so boring that the highlight reel was nonexistent. Her thirtieth birthday was right around the corner, and what had she accomplished with her life?
Not much, that’s what.
Sure, she had a bachelor’s in literature, summa cum laude, with a focus on the Middle Ages from Sarah Lawrence College. She had a job she loved. And she could support herself. Other than that, she might as well have become a nun for all the excitement her life held.
She recalled the hard strength of her rescuer’s chest against her back. The rough and tumble look of him. She’d bet her first edition autographed copy of Edith Wharton’s Age of Innocence, that his life wasn’t boring. That if he had a near-death experience he’d have a highlight reel worthy of an action movie.
Rising on still-wobbly legs, she drew in a long, slow breath, and resumed her errand in an I-almost-died daze.
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Rebecca Heflin is an award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister snuck a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’ Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job as a practicing attorney.
Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.
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SIT! STAY! SPEAK!
Annie England Noblin
Released Sept 9th, 2015
Echoing the novels of Mary Alice Monroe, Allie Larkin, and Holly Robinson, this charming debut novel tells the unforgettable story of a rescue dog that helps a struggling young outsider make peace with the past.
Addie Andrews is living a life interrupted. Tragedy sent her fleeing from Chicago to the shelter of an unexpected inheritance—her beloved aunt’s somewhat dilapidated home in Eunice, Arkansas, population very tiny. There she reconnects with some of her most cherished childhood memories. If only they didn’t make her feel so much!
People say nothing happens in small towns, but Addie quickly learns better. She’s got an elderly next door neighbor who perplexingly dances outside in his underwear, a house needing more work than she has money, a best friend whose son uncannily predicts the weather, and a local drug dealer holding a massive grudge against her.
Most surprising of all, she’s got a dog. But not any dog, but a bedraggled puppy she discovered abandoned, lost, and in desperate need of love. Kind of like Addie herself. She’d come to Eunice hoping to hide from the world, but soon she discovers that perhaps she’s finding the way back—to living, laughing, and loving once more.
She sighed and pushed her blond hair off her neck, piling it high on top of her head. Her thoughts went back to Chicago. To Jonah. To what life had been like before she’d inherited a house that needed more work than she had money. Jonah would have liked this house, she thought. Addie knew that if he were here, they would have stayed in town after the funeral. Jonah would have picked through each piece of furniture, each knickknack. He would have asked for stories about each one, stories Addie had long forgotten.
She rested her head against the coffee table. It had a glass top, something her aunt had brought all the way down here from Chicago. It wasn’t worth much, as far as Addie could tell, but her aunt loved it and stuck cards from relatives underneath the glass. Each time Aunt Tilda had a visitor, she’d tell them about whichever relative happened to be resting underneath that visitor’s coffee mug. Today there was no coffee, and there were no visitors. There was no Jonah. Addie let her hair fall back down onto her sticky neck and said out loud to no one, “I’ve got to get out of here for a while.”
The Mississippi River in Eunice, Arkansas, looked nothing like it had when she’d crossed the bridge in Memphis. It was smaller, tranquil almost. Addie stood with her toes touching the water. She hadn’t been down to the levee since the last time she’d visited Eunice. Even this close to the water, it was hot outside. She found herself wishing she’d just stayed inside with all the unopened boxes and dusty furniture—at least there was air-conditioning.
Gazing around, Addie realized that this was no longer the nice, clean picnic area that her aunt had taken her to during her childhood visits. The tables were overgrown with weeds, and there was an obvious odor of trash in the air. This place hadn’t been taken care of in a long time.
Addie bent down to wash out her flip-flops when she heard a noise coming from behind her. She turned around to face a small wooded area. The noise grew louder. It sounded like a whimpering, but all she saw were bushes. She shoved her feet into her shoes and walked over to the direction of the noise. She pushed her way into the first set of bushes, where a thin layer of trash covered the ground. Off to one side there was a large, black trash bag.
The trash bag was moving. Addie crept closer to the bag. She bent down and touched the plastic. It had been tied in a tight knot. Digging her fingers into the plastic, Addie ripped the bag wide open. The object in the bag stirred, whimpering slightly. It lifted its head and tried to move, but failed. It was covered in blood and blood-soaked newspaper and dozens of crumpled packages of Marlboro Reds.
Addie was looking at a dog.
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Annie England Noblin graduated with an M.A. in Creative Writing from Missouri State University and currently teaches English for Arkansas State University. Her poetry has been featured in such publications as the Red Booth Review and the Moon City Review. She lives with her son, husband, and four rescued bulldogs in the Missouri Ozarks. In addition to her writing, Noblin started working with rescue organizations across the country ten years ago, and has never looked back. The work she does serves as an inspiration in everyday life, as well as in her writing.
May Contain Spoilers
I’m so glad my local library received this book so soon after release date! I actually had an eARC, but a Kindle version wasn’t available, and I could not get the ePUB file to load on my iPad. Talk about frustrating! Vengeance Road was probably my most anticipated summer read, and having that broken file on my tablet was driving me nuts. Turns out the library saved the day! This book is so good, I urge you to run to your own library and borrow it right away!
After Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the no good Rose Riders, she does what any brave frontier woman would do. She vows to chase them to purgatory, dresses like a boy, and sets off after them. She makes a short stop on the way, because she promised her father that if anything ever happened to him, she’d seek refuge with his friend Abe. Only she learns that Abe’s dead, kicked in the head by a horse. His sons give her a letter, written by her father, that they had been keeping in case she ever showed up. Discovering that her parents had discovered a gold cache in the Superstition Mountains before her mother’s death, Kate, pretending to be Nate, loads her guns and heads off in search of the gold. Where there’s gold, she figures, there will be a thieving, murderous band of outlaws.
Kate gets unexpected company when Abe’s sons, Jesse and Will, stubbornly join her. They argue that three riders are safer than one, and they can keep an eye out for each other, since they are traveling in the same direction. They’ll ride with her until they have to veer off for a cattle drive they’ve been hired for, and since she can’t get rid of them, Kate reluctantly agrees that some company won’t be too bad. Will it?
Kate is one angry young woman. Her rage consumes her. All she can think of is riding down the Rose Riders and killing them, slaughtering them as callously as they murdered her pa. She rebuffs Jesse and Will’s overtures of friendship, afraid that they’ll figure out she’s a girl, and that they’ll cause headaches for her that she doesn’t need. When the three are ambushed by the Rose Riders, Kate reluctantly fills them in on her missions, and the thought of all of that gold gets Jesse’s attention. He’s tired of scrabbling in the dry earth to feed his siblings, and some gold would help make improvements to their homestead. Despite Kate’s reservations, they head off for the mountains, looking for the gold cache and the outlaws Kate wants dead. What she doesn’t tell Jesse or Will is that she has no regard for her own life; as long as she achieves her revenge, she’ll die a content woman.
Kate is the type of heroine I love. She doesn’t sit back and wait for someone else to solve her problems; she fixes things herself. Even when she makes a muck of things, she still focuses on achieving her goals. Does she let her anger get the best of her? Heck, yes. Is her goal productive, or going to make her happy? Heck, no! But still she charges forward, convinced that her pa’s spirit can’t rest, that she can’t rest, until the Rose Riders are dead.
Vengeance Road is packed with lots of great action, features a vivid Western backdrop, and is full of challenges, challenges, challenges everywhere Kate goes. This immersive story is high octane reading at it’s best. Highly recommended.
Review copy borrowed from my local library
When Kate Thompson’s father is killed by the notorious Rose Riders for a mysterious journal that reveals the secret location of a gold mine, the eighteen-year-old disguises herself as a boy and takes to the gritty plains looking for answers and justice. What she finds are devious strangers, dust storms, and a pair of brothers who refuse to quit riding in her shadow. But as Kate gets closer to the secrets about her family, she gets closer to the truth about herself and must decide if there’s room for love in a heart so full of hate.
In the spirit of True Grit, the cutthroat days of the Wild West come to life for a new generation.
May Contain Spoilers
My Mercy Thompson obsession continues. Blood Bound picks up shortly after the events in Moon Called. Mercy receives a late night call from Stefan, asking for her help. Since she indebted herself to him while searching for Adam’s kidnapped daughter, she doesn’t really have much choice than to accompany him on an errand. One of the things I love about Mercy is that her word is her bond, and she won’t go back on a promise or a debt unless dire circumstances force her to.
Stefan is on a mission from his Mistress; he’s to confront a vampire that’s just arrived in town to discover why he hasn’t informed Marsillia that he’s in her territory. Stefan wants Mercy to go with him because she is immune to most vampire powers. The encounter quickly devolves, and Mercy, in her coyote form, is helpless to assist Stefan when he is overpowered or the human the vampire has kidnapped. A narrow escape that leaves Mercy injured and with nightmares and many questions follows. Sam is furious with Stefan for putting her in that position, and that’s when Stefan reveals that the vampire is a demon-ridden sorcerer. There is an evil demon sharing his body, and if they don’t kill him soon, there will be many, many lives lost. Stefan is a very powerful vampire, and he was quickly under the other vampire’s control, so Stefan is going to need help to subdue him.
The sorcerer is a powerful foe, and Mercy is warned to back off and let the vampires and werewolves handle him. Unfortunately, the team sent after him gets their butts handed to them. When Sam, Adam, and Stefan disappear, Mercy knows that she has to do something, on the off chance that they are still alive. This is another thing I like about Mercy – she knows that she’s hopelessly outmatched, but she still is driven to do the “right” thing. She won’t be able to live with herself if she could have saved her friends, but didn’t act because she was too frightened. Instead, she gathers up her courage and a few magical gifts from friends and heads off on a demon-possessed vampire hunt.
One difference in Blood Bound is that Mercy is forced to work with the vampires. While they don’t like her kind, they realize that her powers may prove useful in tracking down the rogue vamp. Mercy’s clear confusion when dealing with them gave her an added challenge. While she could read the werewolves well and understood their pack structure, the vampires and their politics are a complete mystery to her. Can she trust them? Will they use her and turn on her? The werewolves can be hard to like given their brutal behavior, but the vampires are so much worse because they are so alien and it’s so hard to understand their motivations. Their blatant disregard for human life is alarming, but I guess that makes sense because they’re dead!
I’m finding the series very entertaining, and I’m looking forward to the next book.
Grade: B+ / A-
Review copy borrow from my local library
Mechanic Mercy Thompson has friends in low places-and in dark ones. And now she owes one of them a favor. Since she can shapeshift at will, she agrees to act as some extra muscle when her vampire friend Stefan goes to deliver a message to another of his kind.
But this new vampire is hardly ordinary-and neither is the demon inside of him.
Take the fun quiz below, then enter the awesome giveaway!
Spotlight Feature: Which Hot Hero in Uniform Would You Fall For? By Sara Humphreys
This month, author Sara Humphreys launches her first contemporary romance series The McGuire Brothers. Featuring five brothers, all men in uniform, the devotion that these siblings have for each other is matched only by their commitment to service, and eventually to the women they fall in love with. Readers will meet all five of the men in Book 1 Brave the Heat … and heat is right! The McGuires are protective, loyal, steadfast, and sexy. To get you in the mood for meeting Fire Chief Gavin McGuire, the featured hero in the series starter, Sara has written a quiz to see which type of uniformed hottie is right for you.
The Hottie Heroes in Uniform Quiz
1. Where would your uniformed hero take you for a surprise vacation?
a. A hot tropical beach with cool blue oceans.
b. A sexy long weekend in the Big Apple.
c. Home. It’s his favorite place.
2. Which of these drinks would you share with your hot man in uniform?
a. Flaming Sugar Lips
c. Stealth Bomber
3. When he arrives to pick you up for your first date, he’s driving a:
a. Well-worn Ford Bronco with flashing lights
c. Harley Davidson
4. On your first date, he takes you….
a. To his favorite BBQ joint, the hotter the better.
b. To dinner and then to the top of the Empire State building for a romantic view of the city.
c. On a hike in the wilderness for a picnic.
5. He surprises you with concert tickets to go see:
a. Red Hot Chilipeppers
b. The Police
c. Zac Brown Band
6. What hobby does he love and want to share with you?
a. Cooking a great meal for a big crowd.
b. Murder mystery dinner theater is his guilty pleasure.
c. He loves to spend time at the shooting range and he hits the bullseye every time.
7. His favorite meal is…
a. 5 alarm chili
b. New York strip steak
c. Anything that doesn’t come in a MRE pouch
Okay, here are the results…
If you chose mostly A’s then your perfect man in uniform is a Fireman: He’s hot to trot but definitely a low maintenance man. No muss and fuss for this family oriented guy.
If you chose mostly B’s then your perfect uniformed hottie is an NYPD Officer: This guy is savvy and loves the big city, in spite of what he has seen on the job. He moves fast and plays hard. Can you keep up?
If you chose mostly C’s then your uniformed guy is in the Army: He’s traveled the world to protect our county but his favorite spot is home. This devoted patriotic man loves nothing more than seeing you smile, especially since he has to be away from it for months at a time.
Title: Brave the Heat
Author: Sara Humphreys
Release Date: September 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
The only fire he can’t put out…
Jordan McKenna is back in town, and Fire Chief Gavin Maguire’s feelings when he sees her after all these years are as raw as the day she left. Then he was just a kid wearing his heart on his sleeve. Now he spends every day trying to atone for the tragedy he couldn’t prevent.
Is the torch he carries for her
Jordan’s life has not exactly worked out the way she expected. A divorced mother of two with a failed acting career, Jordan’s biggest concern about coming back to Old Brookfield was seeing her first love. But when a series of suspicious fires breaks out, Jordan and Gavin realize that dealing with the sparks between them may be the least dangerous of their problems.
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Sara Humphreys is the award winning author of the Amoveo Legend series. The third book in the series, UNTAMED, won two PRISM awards–Dark Paranormal and Best of the Best. The first two novels from her Dead in the City series have been nominated for the National Readers Choice Award. Sara was also a professional actress. Some of her television credits include, A&E Biography, Guiding Light, Another World, As the World Turns and Rescue Me.
She loves writing hot heroes and heroines with moxie but above all, Sara adores a satisfying happily-ever-after. She lives in New York with Mr. H., their four amazing sons, and two adorable pups. When she’s not writing or hanging out with the men in her life, she can be found working out with Shaun T in her living room or chatting with readers on Facebook.
Social Networking Links
Website – http://sarahumphreys.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sarahumphreysauthor
Twitter – https://twitter.com/authorsara
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2909019.Sara_Humphreys
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THE BILLIONAIRE’S PURSUIT OF LOVE (Book #1)
THE BILLIONAIRE’S PASSIONATE REVENGE
Billionaire Romance #3
Jennifer St. George
Releasing Sept 15th, 2015
Penguin Books Australia
Heiress Lady Zara Ravensdale and Xavier Hunt, the gardener’s son, were once inseparable. But before their romance had a chance to bloom, it was crushed by scandal and betrayal.
Xavier is now an international celebrity and sexier than sin while Zara is deep in debt, running Ravensdale Manor as an upmarket hotel to make ends meet. Unable to forget the past, Xavier returns to the manor, determined to exact his revenge on the Ravensdale family – once and for all.
Together again, passions reignite and the old chemistry becomes impossible to ignore. But Xavier and Zara are both keeping secrets and neither can forget their troubled history. Will they be able to uncover the truth of that night or will Xavier’s need for revenge tear them apart forever?
The Billionaire’s Passionate Revenge is the third book in the Billionaire series by bestselling romance author, Jennifer St George. If you love billionaire romance, don’t miss this passionate read!
Xavier fixed his face with the smile he knew annoyed her the most. ‘Jealous are we, Little Lady R?’
She whirled about and expelled a breath. ‘Don’t be ridiculous. And don’t call me that.’
‘Don’t get me wrong. I like a bit of jealousy,’ he said, leaning back in his chair and enjoying the pink that imbued her cheeks. ‘It suits you. Brings out that passion you think you’ve buried.’
‘Passion is for fools.’
‘That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.’
She put her hands on the table and leaned toward him. The fire in her eyes was clear evidence of the emotions that boiled beneath the surface. He had to wrestle with control. He wanted to pull her in his arms, kiss her, take her, here on the kitchen table.
‘Passion leads to broken vows. Passion leads to forbidden love. Passion leads to ending up dead.’ She banged the table with the palm of her hand. ‘Passion leads to a daughter growing up without a mother.’
He breathed hard. Did she really think she was the only one affected? That night had destroyed them both.
‘Passion didn’t kill your mother or my father,’ he said in a low, steady voice. ‘That was a simple act of nature. The worst blizzard in fifty years. Black ice killed our parents. Not their affair.’
‘Passion was the reason they were there.’ The timbre of her words spoke of years of unresolved torment.
Xavier shook his head. Her logic was insane.
‘Are you telling me that because of some tragic freak accident you’re living your life between the lines? Safe. Solid. Secure. No risk. No passion. No life.’
‘I’m living an honest life.’ The emphasis on the word honest was clearer than a fresh running stream. The implication . . . still clearer. Nasty, red-hot anger flooded his body. He drew in a calming breath, and another.
‘You still believe I did it, don’t you?’
THE BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE SERIES
The Billionaire’s Pursuit of Love
Tempted by the Billionaire Tycoon
The Billionaire’s Passionate Revenge a Rafflecopter giveaway
Jennifer St George is a best-selling romance author whose sexy stories feature courageous, career-minded heroines and strong heroes in glamorous international settings. She has six books published with Penguin Book’s digital-first imprint, Destiny Romance. Jennifer spent the first 25 years of her career in the corporate world travelling the globe. Many of the exotic locations she’s visited feature in her stories. Jennifer now lives in gorgeous Byron Bay, Australia and writes to the sound of the waves with a view of the beach.
May Contain Spoilers
I enjoyed the first book in this series, so I decided to read more. Dancing in the Moonlight is about Jake Dalton, the doctor (and the least interesting brother for me, at first glance, at least), and Maggie Cruz, a wounded vet returning home after being injured in Afghanistan. Maggie is angry and wounded, pushing away the help offered to her by her concerned family and caring neighbors. She is independent and wants to do everything for herself, even when it’s physically painful and not the smartest path to follow. She’s determined to do everything on her own, but pesky Jake keeps interfering and getting under foot and on her nerves. Maggie’s rage and her fears for the future are emotionally examined as she struggles to help her mother run their ranch.
Maggie was angry before her tour of duty. She has blamed the Dalton’s for her father’s death for years and has avoided and snubbed them at every opportunity. When she’s wounded in Afghanistan, she’s hurting again. She doesn’t believe her life can ever be normal now that she’s not, and she’s quit the job she loves to return home to the family ranch. Still in pain after spending months in the hospital, she is reeling from the rejection of her fiancé, a hot-shot doctor, when he’s confronted with her injuries. Afraid of facing that look of revulsion ever again, she’s accepted that she’s going to spend the rest of her life alone, with the only person she can count on – herself.
A flat tire just a short distance from her mom’s home has her struggling to change the tire, in the dark. Jake sees her vehicle at the side of the road and is surprised to see Maggie. He didn’t know that she was coming home. Maggie’s reception to him is less than friendly, but Jake insists on changing the tire for her. That’s when he notices that she’s trying to hide how much pain she’s in. Jake is a doctor, too, and he takes his job seriously. The only doctor for miles and miles, he takes pride in the skillful care he gives to his rural patients. Maggie isn’t having any of his doctoring, though, and storms off home to surprise her mom with her arrival. At loose ends, Maggie didn’t even call her mom to let her know that she was moving back home.
What I liked best about this book was Jake’s patience. He is a saint when it comes to Maggie’s brush offs. All he wants is to ensure that her pain is manageable, but she doesn’t want to have anything to do with him or his doctoring. What Maggie doesn’t know is that Jake has loved her since he was a teen, and he’s not about to give up on her, or let her give up on herself. She survived a bombing and saved other people’s lives, all at a terrible cost to herself. While everyone in their small ranching community looks at her as a hero, Maggie sees herself as broken and damaged beyond repair. Jake slowly helps her to heal emotionally, so she can see that she does have a bright future waiting for her, instead of the bleak one she had resigned herself to.
Doctors are not my favorite heroes, but I’ll make an exception for Jake. He’s caring, kind, and a part-time cowboy. He’s also one of the most patient romance heroes I’ve run across. Maggie is nothing but a black cloud of rage (justifiably), and she’s letting it diminish her plans for herself. She no longer thinks she’s capable of continuing her own medical career, which she found fulfilling and satisfying. With Jake’s help, she accepts that while she will never be how she was before her injury, that doesn’t mean that she can’t be whole and happy again.
Review copy borrowed from my local library
LIEUTENANT MAGDALENA CRUZ HAD COME HOME…
But it wasn’t the way she’d envisioned her return. And though all she wanted was to be alone, infuriatingly handsome Dr. Jake Dalton—of the enemy Daltons—wouldn’t cooperate. And she needed him to, because the walls around her heart were dangerously close to crumbling every time he came near…
Jake had spent most of his life trying to get closer to Maggie, with little to show for it. But she was the woman he’d always wanted, and no injury in the world could change that. Now if only he could convince her that the woman who stood before him was beautiful, desirable, whole…and meant to be his…
May Contain Spoilers
This was an extremely challenging book for me. I was drawn to the title because the heroine is a horse trainer, and I’ve had previous success with Sarah M Anderson’s books. Once I read “horse trainer” I didn’t read any further. The plots of category romances can get pretty interchangeable. A prince here, a billionaire there, or a millionaire cowboy; sometimes it seems that the only thing that changes are the locations or the characters names. Tempted by a Cowboy felt like a completely different read, and there were times I didn’t like it.
I found Phillip a difficult man to like. When he meets Jo, he’s three sheets to the wind, with a pair of bimbos plastered to his side. She’s just arrived to the job that’s going to make or break her career. Phillip just purchased a 7 million dollar stud that nobody can get near, let alone train. With a reputation for “fixing” even the most foregone horses, Jo is counting on this job to give her a hefty deposit on some hand, as well as a killer reference. When she meets Phillip, her sense of self-preservation goes into overdrive. Phillip is everything that she has sworn off for the last ten years, and she’s afraid he’s going to drag her back down into the nightmare she only barely escaped. Besides, she doesn’t save people, only horses.
Jo is a recovering alcoholic, and Phillip is denying that he has a drinking problem. Jo gave up blackouts and anonymous hookups by turning her back on both men and liquor. The thought of wallowing back into her addiction has her terrified, but when Phillip is sober, he’s sweet and irresistible. It’s when he’s not that they have a problem. Phillip, a second son, was largely ignored for his older brother, and then for his younger half-siblings. He sought attention from a young age by acting out, and he’s never stopped. To make matters worse, his family owns a brewery, and it’s his job to be entertaining at corporate events, ensuring that everyone is having a grand old time drinking the family’s beer. Talk about a recipe for disaster. Phillip won’t acknowledge that he has a problem, he shifts the blame for his mistakes on others, and his family isn’t there to support him. Instead, they push all the wrong buttons to send him on another drinking binge.
I’ll be honest. I don’t believe that Phillip was the right guy for Jo. I don’t believe in their HEA. I believe that they are happy for now, but geez, what’s going to happen when Phillip has another bump in his road? He can’t stay on the ranch forever, and as he’s already learned, his plans for sobriety can shatter as easily as a dropped glass.
Still, this was an emotionally gripping read. I couldn’t put it down. Even when I thought Jo was making a mistake, I understood her reasons for it. Phillip, I just couldn’t relate to at all. He is easily the most unstable hero I’ve ever encountered, and it took a lot of work on my part to give him a break.
Because this book was so unexpected, and it surprised me, as well as kept me glued to the pages, I highly recommend it.
Grade: B / B+
Review copy borrowed from my local library
How can she resist the cowboy’s smile when it promises so much pleasure?
Phillip Beaumont likes his drinks strong and his women easy. So why is he flirting with his new horse trainer, Jo Spears, who challenges him at every turn? Phillip wants nothing but the chase…until the look in Jo’s haunted green eyes makes him yearn for more…
Sure, Jo’s boss is as jaded and stubborn as Sun, the multi-million-dollar stallion she was hired to train. But it isn’t long before she starts spending days and nights with the sexy cowboy. Maybe Sun isn’t the only male on the Beaumont ranch worth saving!
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The Hornsby Brothers #1
Releasing Sept 1st, 2015
No offer is more daring…
An Intriguing Proposition
Passion. Seduction. Pleasure. These are the qualities of any courtesan worth her salt. As owner of The Starling Club, London’s most notorious house of ill-repute, Madame Philomena McGrattan has seen it all, heard it all, done it all. There is little that surprises her anymore, and even less that excites her. So when she is presented a chance at an irresistible seduction, she can’t help but rise to the challenge.
A Dangerous Game
Studiousness. Practicality. Discipline. Such are the attributes of a good scholar, and such are the principles Lord Spencer Hornsby has built his life around. Alone in the Welsh countryside, with only his wolfhounds for company, Spencer has thrown himself into his work. There is little time for the pleasures of society, not even to think of the joys of the fairer sex. But when an unexpected guest arrives at his isolated hunting lodge, Spencer cannot help but be baffled by the presence of this dangerously beautiful woman. And when he discovers the reason for her arrival, and the pleasures she promises, he cannot help but find himself irresistibly intrigued . . .
Finally, he asked, “And who are you, her replacement?”
Her? A housekeeper? Should she pretend to be a servant? Bugger that. “Hardly. I believe the old hag had plans to leave anyway as her bag was packed and at the ready. I’m here at the invitation of two of your acquaintances. Mr. Jacob Williamson and Mr. Clive Christopher.”
The professor frowned. At least she thought he did. It was hard to read his expression under the wiry thatch of hair surrounding his mouth. He rifled through a pile of unopened correspondence. “Oh? I do not recall any recent note from those gentlemen.”
“I believe I am to be a surprise present for your birthday tomorrow.”
His owl eyes blinked rapidly as if he could not process what she said. “I do not require a maid, though you tell me Mrs. Brickell has departed. It appears I could use a housekeeper…”
He had absolutely no idea why she came to him. His mind did not even consider the fact it could be for carnal reasons. What a sheltered life he must lead. “I’m no servant, though you need tidying up as much as your home does. You bear a striking resemblance to a painting of a French Canadian trapper I saw in a book once. All wild and shaggy—all that is missing is the plaid coat and the beaver pelts.” She gave him a sweet, smug smile.
With his lips pressed into a straight line, he sat back and regarded her. “Oh? You read a book once?” His elegant voice dripped with self-righteous sarcasm.
“Touché, Professor. Well aimed. A direct hit.” Phil pointed to the dogs who still stared at her. Their unblinking attention followed her every minute move. “Should I be afeared for my life? Your animals are intimidating.”
“Justinian. Theodora. Easy.” The hounds relaxed at his command, laying their heads on their paws. “They are Irish Wolfhounds. ‘Gentle when stroked, fierce when provoked.’”
Phil placed a hand on her hip. “Does that saying apply to you as well, Professor Hornsby?”
Did he smile slightly? Again, hard to tell under the facial hair. Phil pulled a chair toward the desk and placed it a few feet away. She raised one leg to the chair.
“Now, I don’t claim to be a blue-stocking, but I am able to read.” Phil grasped the hem of her green striped gown, and with a slow, deliberate movement, raised it past her ankle boots. She glanced at the beast behind the desk. His gaze remained steady as it slid down to where she continued to raise her petticoats to reveal one of her shapely legs. At least she’d been told they were shapely. No matter. Running her hand over the sheer white stocking, she lingered near her silk garter. “I do not think they are blue. You better come closer and inspect the shade of my stockings for yourself…Professor.”
He coughed and looked away. She made him uncomfortable, and she would wager to guess–a little aroused. No sound could be heard in the room except a whimper from one of the dogs and the huge clock in the corner ticking away the awkward minutes.
Hornsby faced her. “Who are you, madam, and why are you here?”
She continued to fondle and caress her leg, and having the unkempt man watch her caused a slow roll of heat to travel through her. Again, his voice. Like molten gold or a cello played by a master that vibrated with life, power, and resonance.
“My name is Philomena McGrattan. I am indeed a madam and hired to relieve you of your virginity.”
There was no further reaction from the professor whatsoever. This did not bode well.
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Karyn lives in a small town in the western corner of Ontario, Canada. She whiles away her spare time writing and reading romance while drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea. Tortured heroes are a must. A multi-published author with a few bestsellers under her belt, Karyn loves to write in different genres and time periods, though historicals and contemporaries are her favorite.
As long as she can avoid being hit by a runaway moose in her wilderness paradise she assumes everything is golden. Karyn’s been happily married for a long time to her own hero. His encouragement keeps her moving forward.
This morning I have a review of Jodi Thomas’ Ransom Canyon, but first, Jodi dropped by the virtual offices with a special greeting for all of you!
Greeting from Jodi:
The idea for RANSOM CANYON came from living in the Texas Panhandle. I wanted to write about the real west of today. I wanted my people to be like the men and women I grew up with, honest and true. Not the cowboy on a book cover who has never been on a horse, but the cowboy who gets up at five to load his own horse and make it to the ranch before dawn. He doesn’t work by the hour, but by the day.
As I began my first book in the series Staten Kirkland jumped off the page. He’s strong and good, a rancher everyone looks up to, but he’s broken and only one woman can calm his heart. Shy Quinn asks nothing of him. She offers understanding amid the storm of his life.
Their friendship develops into a gentle, loving affair that grows to rock both them with its depth. Staten will have to learn to love again and Quinn will have to open up to someone. The whole town watches the birth of passion and love as Staten stands beside her letting her be strong and quiet Quinn discovers one man’s love can wash away all the pain in her past.
Readers will feel, not like they came to visit, Crossroads, Texas, on the edge of Ransom Canyon, the town will start to feel like home. My goal as a writer is to keep you up late reading because you have to know what happens next.
So come along with me on a series set in today’s West. You’ll love it.
May Contain Spoilers
One of the aspects of a Jodi Thomas novel that I enjoy is getting to know all of the characters. There are usually 5 or 6 major characters, and their personal stories are told from alternating points of view. Because of the small town setting, their lives often intersect, so we get so see how others perceive them, too. Ransom Canyon takes place in Crossroads, Texas, a tiny town that most people just pass through without a second glance. Staten Kirkland’s family has lived there for generations, running a large cattle ranch and investing their time and money supporting the small, close-knit community. The story is mainly Staten’s struggle to learn how to live again after the tragic deaths of his beloved wife and teenage son.
Staten wasn’t my favorite character. He’s emotionally detached because of his heartbreaking past, and I thought he was just taking advantage of Quinn, a childhood friend who has become his buddy with benefits. Quinn was his wife’s BFF. After Staten’s wife succumbed to cancer, and his son died in an accident just a few years later, his world crumbled. He found himself seeking comfort from Quinn, a reclusive woman he’s known all his life. Whenever the weather turned dark and stormy, just like the night his son was taken from him, he visits Quinn. She never turns him away, and more times than not, they end up in bed. Then Staten steals quietly from her small house and heads back home, firmly putting any feelings or deeper meaning to their hookups out of his mind.
Quinn has loved Staten since grade school. She has kept it a secret, because her best friend and Staten had already formed an unbreakable bond. After Staten loses his family, Quinn is content to give what comfort she can, knowing that Staten will never return her feelings. When unplanned complications arise, their friendship is put to the test. This is when I decided that I really didn’t like Staten all that much. The guy is completely clueless. Quinn lives like a hermit, and she is uncomfortable around other people, so for him to voice his doubts like he did got him exactly what he deserved. While he eventually manned up, I wasn’t completely won over by his contrite apology.
The other characters are Lucas and Lauren, high school students who both have their stuff together. Lucas wants to make something of himself, so he works on ranches, moving the cattle from one pasture to another, riding fence lines, and saving every penny he earns. He has big dreams, and he’s not going to let anything get in the way of them. He has a crush on Lauren, the sheriff’s daughter, but because she’s younger than him, and because the timing isn’t right, he decides that their friendship is going to be more important, right now, than dating her. Lauren’s also an intelligent, caring young woman, and she agrees with Lucas. They both have things to accomplish before they can even consider a romantic relationship. Sometimes you meet the right person at the wrong time, and that is the theme of their relationship. Of all the couples in the story, though, I thought they have the soundest foundation for a lasting relationship, and I hope we see more of them in later installments.
Yancey rounds out the cast. He’s a young ex-con, in town looking for an opportunity to score a little cash and move on. His plans are interrupted when his backpack and all of his meager possessions are stolen, and if it weren’t for the kindness of the small local retirement community, he’d be up a creek without a paddle. Yancey is a fun character because he has so few practical life experiences. He’s spent most of life on the wrong side of the law, in and out of jail because he can’t catch a break. When the seniors take him under their wing, he finally discovers a sense of belonging that had been missing in his life. It helps to ground him, and finding steady employment and a group of people who care for him make all the different in the world. He’s goofy, naïve despite his rough edges, and he was probably my favorite character.
If you are a fan of Jodi Thomas, Ransom Canyon won’t disappoint. If you haven’t read her yet, give it a try. I find her books fast, soothing reads. Despite how messed up a character’s life may appear at first, you can be confident that they will find the right person to love them and give them their HEA.
Review copy provided by publisher
About the book:
From New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas comes the first book in a compelling, emotionally resonant series set in a remote west Texas town—where family can be made by blood or by choice
Rancher Staten Kirkland, the last descendant of Ransom Canyon’s founding father, is rugged and practical to the last. No one knows that when his troubling memories threaten to overwhelm him, he runs to lovely, reclusive Quinn O’Grady…or that she has her own secret that no one living knows.
Young Lucas Reyes has his eye on the prize—college, and the chance to become something more than a ranch hand’s son. But one night, one wrong decision, will set his life on a course even he hadn’t imagined.
Yancy Grey is running hard from his troubled past. He doesn’t plan to stick around Ransom Canyon, just long enough to learn the town’s weaknesses and how to use them for personal gain. Only Yancy, a common criminal since he was old enough to reach a car’s pedals, isn’t prepared for what he encounters.
In this dramatic new series, the lives, loves and ambitions of four families will converge, set against a landscape that can be as unforgiving as it is beautiful, where passion, property and pride are worth fighting—and even dying—for.
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Birmingham Rebels #1
Releasing Sept 1st, 2015
Perfect for fans of Shayla Black and Lexi Blake, the deeply sensual new Birmingham Rebels series introduces an unforgettable team of chiseled football gods—and the daring, provocative games they play behind closed doors.
Birmingham Rebels offensive linemen Beau Perez and Cass Zielinski are inseparable, on and off the field. Cass, the captain with the cowboy swagger, is a loose cannon. Beau, the veteran tight end, is cool under pressure. And ever since they were caught on tape in a steamy threesome, their exploits have fueled more than a few tabloid headlines—and naughty fantasies.
Marian Treadwell knows all about the video. And now that she’s the Rebels’ new assistant offensive coach, she can’t look at Beau and Cass without picturing their hard, naked bodies—with her pressed in between. Marian would like nothing more than to indulge those impulses, but she knows better than to get too close to her players, a bunch of adrenaline-fueled alpha males who don’t always follow the rules. Just the thought of sharing the gorgeous yet guarded Marian drives Cass wild. At first, Beau isn’t sure she’s right for them . . . and lately, all he desires is a little alone time with Cass to explore their new intimacy. But it’s only a matter of time before Cass breaks through both of their defenses. Because when seduction is the game plan, he always plays to win.
Broken Play is intended for mature audiences.
“Get. In. Here.” Marian spoke in that one-word-sentence staccato that had become so popular on television and that she’d sworn she’d never imitate. Now she knew it wasn’t a choice. She was simply so mad she couldn’t get more than one word out at a time. Beau didn’t argue. He simply slid sideways in through her office door, past where she stood holding it. She started to close it, but a hand grabbed it from the hallway and pushed it open again. Cass. Of course. “Can’t I even yell at him without your presence?” she asked coldly.
“Nope. Team captain. Got to be here.” Cass turned and closed the door behind him, then leaned against it, his arms crossed, that damn cowboy hat in one hand.
“Fine,” Marian said. “Since you piss me off, too, you can share the punishment.”
“I don’t take punishment,” Cass said, his usual charming smile gone as he gave her a heated stare that made sweat pop out along her spine. “I give it.”
It took Marian a moment to get past the images that flashed through her head at that outrageous claim. “On the field, not in my office,” she said a little unsteadily.
“Anywhere I choose,” Cass told her calmly.
“Maybe I should go,” Beau said from behind her.
Marian jumped and spun around to face him. She hadn’t been paying attention. She couldn’t believe she’d let him flank her like that.
“Settle,” Cass said quietly but firmly. “There’s no threat here.”
“You just made threats,” she countered, backing up until her back hit the wall a few feet off to Cass’s left.
“No,” he said, the charm back in his voice, a sexy little drawl making it sound like Naw. “Those were promises.”
She actually felt a bead of sweat slip down her cleavage, and she shivered.
“Stop it,” Beau said. “You’re scaring her.” She glanced at him and he looked a little sad, his eyes big and golden brown, and soft with some emotion she couldn’t name. Instinctively she knew he wasn’t the threat here, which threw her into confusion. Wasn’t he the one in charge?
“I’m not scared,” she said. It was a knee-jerk reaction, something she’d said so often in the past few years—to others and to herself—that it was second nature.
Cass sort of rolled himself along the wall toward her until he was leaning over her, not quite pressed against her, his hands on either side of her head, one still holding his hat. “Good,” he said, his voice rough and heavy with wanting. “I don’t want you scared.”
She was breathing too fast. “Move your arms,” she said, and she winced at the panic in her voice.
“Cass,” Beau said. She saw his hand on Cass’s shoulder and her heart nearly beat out of her chest. She had to put her hand up to her chest and press against it to make sure it didn’t.
“You know I’d never hurt you,” Cass said softly. He turned and tossed his hat onto the couch, against the opposite wall. Then he dropped both arms to his sides. He didn’t move back, though. He stayed close enough that she could feel his heat and smell his cologne and a hint of his sweat and deodorant and laundry detergent and shampoo, all the things that combined to be Cass’s scent. She hadn’t realized she knew his smell so well. It was an odd thought and made her frown at him. He frowned back. “Don’t you?” he asked.
It took a moment to remember what he’d said. “Yes.” She did know it. But that didn’t make her heart slow down, because she wasn’t afraid of him. She was afraid of herself, and what she’d let him do if she let go.
“Yell at me.” Beau’s soft words were lost in Cass’s gaze for a second and then they sank in.
“I should,” she said, standing straighter and tugging on the hem of her shirt nervously. “What in the hell do you think you were doing out there?” She pushed on Cass’s chest, but he wouldn’t budge, so she stood on tiptoe and glared at Beau over his shoulder.
“Speaking my mind,” Beau said. He walked over and dropped down on the couch, easily within her sight, making sure not to crush Cass’s hat. “It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to do that.”
“So you decide to do it on my watch?” Marian said in a strangled voice. “Gee, thanks.”
“On your watch?” Beau asked, obviously getting angry. “Now you’re my babysitter, too? Jesus, how many do I need?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Cass said, turning to glare at Beau, hands on his hips.
“Don’t try to distract me with a lovers’ quarrel,” Marian warned them. “I’m still pissed about Beau’s big mouth.”
Cass slowly swung his head back around and pinned her to the wall with his stare. He had the bluest eyes, and they could go cold and hard as fast as they could turn hot and heavy-lidded. “Lovers’ quarrel?” he asked quietly. Too quietly. Marian tried to slide sideways along the wall, out of his reach.
“That’s right,” she said, full of false bravado. She thought for a second that this must be what the canary felt like before the cat pounced.
Suddenly Beau laughed loudly, a harsh bark that sounded more incredulous than amused. It broke Cass’s stare and Marian quickly moved over to lean against her desk, facing them on more solid ground. “What’s so funny?”
“We”—he gestured between him and Cass—“are not lovers. We’re friends and we fuck women together. That’s it.” He didn’t sound happy about it. Or was he unhappy that people thought they were?
“Beau.” This time it was Cass trying to yank on the leash with a warning in his voice.
“Forget it,” Beau said flatly. “I’ve come out of my shell today. I’m not crawling back in.”
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Samantha Kane lives in North Carolina with her husband and three children, two boys and one girl. With a master’s degree in American history, she spent seven years as a high school history teacher before becoming a full-time writer and mom.
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Flight or Fight #1
Re-Releasing Sept 8th, 2015
In the debut of Ashley Suzanne’s blistering-hot Fight or Flight series—perfect for fans of Monica Murphy and J. Lynn—two sparring partners put their hearts on the line and push their bodies to the edge.
Rian Fields is done being a punching bag. When Rian was thirteen, her only friend walked out on her, leaving Rian alone to mourn when she lost her mother three years later. Then he came back into her life senior year, igniting new desires—and breaking her trust permanently when he enlisted in the army. Now Rian has finally found an outlet for her rage against the world: mixed martial arts. But just as she’s learning the ropes, Garrett Rhodes turns her life inside-out one more time.
As much they hurt each other, Garrett never got over Rian. So when he gets the call that she’s in jail, he bails her out, no questions asked. The years have toughened her. Made her harder. Sexier. All she needs to make it as an MMA fighter is the right coach, and Garrett’s man enough to train her. He just has to go toe-to-toe with “Raven,” the fearless woman who takes control in the ring . . . without falling for Rian, the vulnerable girl who still drives him crazy.
After twenty-four grueling hours of interrogation by the police, the prodding and poking of doctors, and the analysis of every thought in my head by therapists, I’m finally cleared to go home. I’m not sure if I even have a home to go back to. My momma hasn’t called or checked in on me. Thankfully, my aunt Elaine had the decency to keep an eye on me, since I’m still a minor and all.
Walking into my house, I wasn’t expecting it to look the same as it did when I had been detained—the blood stains still on the carpeting, the coffee table kicked over, everything scattered across the living room, and clumps of my hair sticking out from under the sofa.
I didn’t realize at the time, but Tom got in a few good licks while I was going bat-shit crazy. The doctors had to suture a cut above my eyebrow and a gash on my forearm, and address the giant bald spot I had in the middle of my head. I checked out all right, but seeing the aftermath just drilled the point home.
The cops told me that Tom was going to be fine. As bad as he looked when he was being wheeled away on a gurney, he had nothing more than a concussion, a broken nose, a cracked rib, and a few cuts that needed some stitches. He’d spend a day in the hospital, maybe two. They also told me that they would be picking him up directly from the hospital, as they wanted to press charges on him for beating up my mother. Thankfully, you didn’t need a victim to come forward in a domestic violence case; the state could prosecute all by itself—as long as it had enough evidence.
“Mom,” I call, walking into the kitchen to avoid the recent crime scene.
As I make my way down the hall, I pause outside my mother’s bedroom and an eerie feeling washes over me. I push the door open and find my mother lying in bed on her back, still wearing the same clothes as when I left. The bruise on her cheek has turned a nasty yellow and shows the clear imprint of a large hand.
“Momma? Are you okay?” I whisper, sneaking through the door and climbing in bed with her.
No turn of the head, no flutter of eyelids—just nothing.
“Momma, please talk to me,” I plead, lying down on a pillow and scooting as close to her as possible without actually touching.
“What did you do, Rian? What did you do?” Tears well in her eyes and I don’t understand it, but guilt crashes over me like a tidal wave.
“I’m sorry,” I mutter, trying to find the strength to not run out of this room. She should be the one comforting me, not the other way around.
“What did you do?” she repeats. Finally we have movement, but it breaks me into pieces. Gripping the side of her pillow, my mother rolls away from me, curling into a ball. Her shoulders violently shake with the tears she’s letting flow. I’d bet money that she hasn’t cried since yesterday, holding it all in until she knew . . . I don’t know what she needed to know . . . but she probably needed some sort of reassurance before she let the dam break.
“It’s okay. Shhhh.” I cover her with my body, holding her, giving her some time to grieve whatever it is that she’s grieving. Her husband being in the hospital? That she let him put his hands on her? That her sixteen-year-old daughter protected her against a grown man? Her daughter being arrested?
I’m not sure. The only thing I know is that I want my carefree hippy mom back.
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Ashley Suzanne has been writing for as long as she can remember. As a youngster, she was always creating stories and talking to her imaginary friends. Thankfully, her parents also carried this love of fiction, and helped her grow into the bestselling author she is today. When Ashley isn’t coming up with her next story, you’ll most likely find her on the couch, telling her husband all about her new book boyfriend, or spending quality time with her two gremlins . . . er, adorable children.
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LOVE IN THE VINEYARD
Releasing Sept 10th, 2015
From USA Today bestselling author Pamela Aares comes Love in the Vineyard, the seventh book in the Tavonesi family series featuring passion, mystery, and well-won love!
A one-night stand brought Natasha Raley the greatest gift of her life—her son. She wants to give him a better life than she had, but a gambling bet lands both of them in a homeless shelter. When the shelter director gives her a ticket to a masquerade ball, Natasha finds herself dancing with the most intriguing and mysterious man she’s ever met.
Adrian Tavonesi is creating a paradise on earth in Sonoma California, determined to be worthy of his vast fortune by making the world a better place. Convinced women only like him for his money and his status, he invents an anonymous relationship with the beautiful Natasha to create a dream world for both of them.
As passion flares into an all-consuming affair, the lies Adrian and Natasha have told each other threaten to ruin everything. Adrian is kind, generous, and sincere—Natasha knows he would be the ideal father for her son. But will her past and the devastating gamble she once made destroy her new world? Or will betting on the truth this time lead to the perfect, ever-lasting love?
Tasha was more beautiful than Adrian remembered.
And just as skittish.
Whatever she was hiding, the continued anonymity she was proposing suited him just fine. He liked the idea of being seen as an everyday man, just another guy living in Sonoma. And he liked a woman who could ask for what she wanted.
“I’ll play,” Adrian answered. “But just exactly what rules are you suggesting we follow?”
He had to admit her proposal added an edge of raciness to the day, an edge of challenge and the allure of fantasy. Maybe she wasn’t afraid, as he’d first thought she was. And maybe, like him, she too wanted to be liked for who she was in this time. In this moment.
In Rome, almost everyone he ran into knew he was from one of the oldest Roman families. They knew his cousins and cousins of cousins. Knew of the vast Tavonesi wealth. When he first moved to the Bay Area with his father and siblings, he’d loved that they’d all had a degree of anonymity.
But now that he’d started to revamp the vineyard, in the Napa and Sonoma circles he traveled, he’d lost the privacy of those early days. His worth, his prospects, his heritage were on the surface, easy for anyone with a computer to access. Though notoriety came with success, with moving forward with his plans, he resented the assumptions and prejudices that accompanied the details of his life, as though a map of his past set out every possibility for his future. He was charting new waters and didn’t want to be bound by history or prejudice or presumptions. His sisters Zoe and Amber had cut themselves free and were pursuing their dreams. And so were his American cousins Alex and Alana.
But what he disliked most about his wealth was the feeling of being targeted. Of being a catch. Wealth drew people to him; that was another fact of his life. But he didn’t want to be seen through that lens, to be pursued for his bank account. Wealth made it hard to know whom to trust. Especially when it came to women.
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Pamela Aares is a USA Today Bestselling, award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance novels. Her contemporary series, The Tavonesi Series, explores the lives, loves, friendships and sizzling romances of the Tavonesi family.
Her popularity as a romance writer continues to grow with each new book release, so much so, that the Bay area author has drawn comparisons by reviewers to Nora Roberts.
Pamela Aares writes romance books that she loves reading, particularly those that entertain, transport and inspire dreams while captivating and tugging at the heart. She takes her readers on a journey with complex characters in both contemporary and historical settings who are thrown in situations that tempt love, adventure and self-discovery.
Before becoming a romance author, Aares wrote and produced award-winning films including Your Water, Your Life, featuring actress Susan Sarandon and NPR series New Voices, The Powers of the Universe and The Earth’s Imagination.
If not behind her computer, you can probably find her reading a romance novel, hiking the beach or savoring life with friends. You can visit Pamela on the web at http://www.PamelaAares.com.
This morning I have a spotlight and giveaway for The Highlander’s Bride by Amanda Forester!
Meet the Hero, Gavin Patrick
Full Name: Sir Gavin Patrick
Nickname (if applicable): Gavin
Hair Color: Dark brown
Eye Color: Brown
Originally from: born in 1337 near Balquidder, Scotland
Describe yourself in 200 words or less: Hullo. I am Sir Gavin, pleased to make yer acquaintance. I hail from the Highlands, under the clan MacLaren, where my uncle is laird. I came to France several years ago on a quest, which remains undone. It grieves me to leave it unfinished, but I was ‘requested’ (neatly tricked, if ye care for the truth) to escort the spoiled Lady Mary Colette to the Highlands to her new husband. When I saved the life o’ the duc de Bergerac and he promised me a rich reward, escorting his brat of a daughter, wasna exactly what I had in mind. But, I am a man o’ my word, so the lady will be deposited wi’ her affianced husband as soon as may be. And trust me, it canna be too soon.
What matters the most to you in your life? Beyond serving the Good Lord, as every knight is sworn to do, my family and my clan are the most important things in my life. That is why I sought this quest, to find the resting place o’ my father, who died in battle in France, and mark it wi’ the honor that is his due. I regret I have not been able to find this place. And yet, in my return, I ken my mither will be greatly pleased to see me, so I shall be content in that. Perhaps when I return to the Highlands I shall find a bonny lass o’ my own and start a family. As soon as I can rid myself o’ the Lady Colette, that is.
What is your favorite way to pass the time? I have’na had much time to pass in leisure, truth be told. Since I have been in France I’ve been busy lending my sword to help the French fight against the increasing presence o’ the English. They are clever bastards they are, and they know how to fight, I’ll give them that. Back home, I did enjoy a bit o’ fishing. It shall be good to get back to the quiet life—if I can manage to sit still long enough to enjoy it!
If money was no object and you had 3 weeks free of responsibility what would you do with your time? That is a question that is. I am looking forward to seeing my clan again. ‘Tis not easy being a Highlander in the French court, wi’ some little noble always looking down their nose at me, or actually looking up their nose at me for I am taller here than any other knight I’ve met. And yet, I’ve got a bit o’ the wanderers soul to me, and I would no’ mind travelling a bit to see the world. Though I prefer to travel alone and no’ saddled wi’ this French lady and all her ladies and all her belongings. Saints preserve me!
Lady Marie Colette had one chance. She needed to secure the Highlander’s agreement to decline marrying her, and she needed to do it quickly, before her father returned. She had never before defied her father, but if he thought he could protect her by arranging a marriage with a Highland warrior and send her far away to Scotland of all places, he was much confused.
In truth, Sir Gavin was a fine specimen of a man. She was fair enough to admit it. He was a young man and built on a large scale, towering over most men. He had broad shoulders and a muscular chest, well-defined beneath the formfitting surcoat. His dark brown hair hung down to his square jaw and had a bit of a thick wave to it. He was clean shaven, a surprise considering he was a barbaric Highlander.
“I have heard rumors o’ yer beauty, but ye’re bonnier than anything I heard described.” Sir Gavin spoke in a rich tone with a lyrical accent, pleasing to her ears. However, if he thought he could win her over with compliments, he was much mistaken. She had been told so often she was beautiful that the words no longer had meaning.
“Please understand. It is impossible for me to marry you. But if you make an arrangement with me now, you will not leave empty-handed. Name your weight in gold to walk away.” Her heard pounded to make such a blunt offer. In truth, she would never have made such a crass offer to a French knight, whose honor would have been greatly impinged, but Sir Gavin was a foreigner. A Highlander. Were they not only here in France to profit off of the long war?
Sir Gavin’s eyebrows rose for a moment before falling back down in resignation. “I will no’ take the fortune of a lady, nor will I force anyone to marry me.” He spoke in a careless manner, as if what she offered was nothing to him.
Colette released a breath she had not realized she was holding. Had he just agreed not to marry her? Would he simply walk away? “So you will tell my father you will not marry me?”
A wry smile played about his lips and she had the distinct impression he was not taking the situation as seriously as she thought it deserved. “I am yers to command. If ye wish me to leave, I will go.”
Relief washed over her. She would not be banished to the wilds of Scotland with some strange, albeit attractive, man. “Thank you, Sir Knight. My father, he wished to protect me by sending me far, but I cannot see myself in such a wild, foreign place. We would be most unequally yoked.”
Gavin leaned a shoulder against the stone wall and stared out the dark window into the night. “The Highlands are a rugged place and my home is no’ nearly as grand as this fine castle. ’Tis a wild place, but in the evening, when the sun’s rays touch the high peaks, setting them aglow with the fiery light, ’tis so beautiful it robs yer breath. No finely decorated hall could ever compare.”
Colette opened her mouth but no words came.
He turned back to her, appraising her finery with a critical eye. “Someday, God willing, I shall take my bride there, a bride who chooses me above all men. We will no’ be surrounded by courtiers or pageantry or fancy clothes or ridiculous pointed shoes.”
Colette swallowed, heat creeping up the back of her neck. Had he seen the points of her shoes?
He stepped close to her, moving with a fluid grace that made her heart beat faster. “In the Highlands we dinna have all yer comforts, but what we do have we fiercely defend.”
“What do you have?” she asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
“Freedom. In the Highlands, m’lady, ye would be free.”
Free? She stared up at him. He dangled before her the one thing all her riches could never buy. He offered her freedom.
He leaned nearer and her eyes fell to his lips, which inexplicably appeared soft. She could not help but respond to the irresistible pull of his inviting mouth. He moved slowly, bending down so that their lips drew dangerously close. She breathed in the scent of him, an intoxicating mix of wood smoke, fine wine, and pure man.
The door creaked and her father strode back in the room as both Colette and Gavin jumped away from each other. The duc de Bergerac spread a scroll out on a table. “This is the marriage accord I have made with the Baron of Kintail.”
“Wait…who?” Colette tried to gather together her swirling thoughts in order to form speech. She glanced at Sir Gavin. The careless smile was gone. They had both made the wrong assumption.
Gavin wasn’t meant for Colette at all.
Title: The Highlander’s Bride
Author: Amanda Forester
Series: Highland Trouble, #1
Pubdate: September 1st, 2015
Their attraction is forbidden
All Highland warrior Gavin Patrick wants is to get back to his native Scotland. But before he can leave the battlefield, he’s given a final mission—escort Lady Marie Colette to her fiancé. Under no circumstances is he to lay hands on the beautiful, clever-tongued heiress…no matter how desperate the temptation.
Their desire, undeniable
Forced to pose as a married couple to make their escape from France, Gavin and Marie Colette find themselves thrown into peril…and each other’s arms. As the danger mounts, so does their forbidden passion. But it isn’t until Marie Colette is taken from him that Gavin is forced to decide—is he willing to lose the woman who stole his heart, or will he jeopardize his honor, defy his promise, and steal her in return?
Amanda Forester holds a PhD in psychology and worked many years in academia before discovering that writing historical romance was way more fun. A Publishers Weekly Top Ten author, her books have been given starred reviews from Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Whether in the rugged Highlands of medieval Scotland or the decadent ballrooms of Regency England, her novels offer fast-paced adventures filled with wit, intrigue, and romance. You can visit her at www.amandaforester.com.
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The Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba of The Caffeinated Book Reviewer. This is a weekly meme where we can share news of the week and highlight new books received.
Forgive my absence for the last week. I had my hip replaced on 9/1. After a rather unpleasant few days, I am walking without a cane or walker, pretty much pain free. I was extremely nauseated from the anesthesia, and then again over Labor Day weekend from the pain meds. Once that was all figured out, it was full steam ahead.
I could barely walk with a walker the first few days because my leg was on fire, but by the weekend I was chugging along without any aids. My hip pain is gone, and there’s only a little pain left at the surgical site. I don’t have much energy yet and spend a fair amount of time napping. I hope the doctor gives me the okay to drive when I see him for my two week post-op. It’s very frustrating being dependent on someone else for running errands. I still hope to be back in the saddle by the middle of October.
I’ve read some great books since my surgery. I strongly recommend Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson books, and I’ve only read the first two so far. They are so good! What are you reading this weekend?
Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews to share new additions to our library. Click here to learn more about it.
New Arrivals at the Café:
Books received over the past two weeks -
This Monstrous Thing
High Couch of Silistra
A Wedding in Truhart
Return Once More
Montana Hearts: Her Weekend Wrangler
Tower of Thorns
A great big thanks to the publishers for their continued support!
What did you get? Please leave links and share!
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