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Hey, Everyone! It’s Samantha Chase and I am super excited to be here today with all of you at the Manga Maniac Café and talking about the newest book in the Montgomery Brothers series, “I’ll Be There”. This is book six in the series and we are looking at the crankiest member of the family – Zach Montgomery. He has a good reason to be that way, but he’s making life crazy for everyone around him. You see…well, I’ll let him tell you about it.
Hey, ladies! Zach Montgomery here. I don’t know about you, but I am a total adrenaline junkie. Or…at least I used to be. I’m not jumping out of planes any time in the near future but man oh man did I have some great trips doing that sort of thing and more! I have some amazing memories from each and every one of my trips but I’ll give you some highlights – you know, just in case you’re looking for your own adrenaline rush!
1. Great Barrier Reef dive – I’m normally more of a land – or sky – adventurer, but when I’m in Australia, the water calls! There is so much to see beside the reef itself – scorpion fish, parrot fish, fusiliers, sea snakes, crabs, shrimp, starfish and octopus…just amazing!
2. Whitewater Rafting in Zambia – No two white water rafting trips are the same and I’ll try it wherever I travel to. A great day excursion while visiting Victoria Falls is an amazing way to view the scenery and also have a thrilling adventure.
3. CN Tower EdgeWalk – I have to admit, I wasn’t so sure about this one but I’m glad I did it. The world’s highest full-circle, hands-free walk lets you stroll the top edge of the Lookout Level pod, more than 1,150 feet above the streets, held by nothing but a safety harness. Just don’t look down!
4. Bungee Jump Stockhorn: Bernese Oberland Mountains Plunge – There is never too many bungee jumping options! And bungee jumping in the Alps is an incredible experience. Dive more than 400 feet from a gondola in the Swiss Alps on one of the world’s most amazing bungee jumps. Plummet towards a lake during the free fall with the Bernese Oberland Mountains as your backdrop before you’re lowered into a waiting boat.
5. Zapcat powerboating – When I heard inflatable, I didn’t think they’d be exciting. Boy was I wrong! These inflatable catamaran hulls decked out with powerful racing engines are built purely for speed, and therefore thrills. The Gs can be brutal, and the jumps will make you wonder whether you’re sailing or flying, but there are few things on water that beat these bad boys for bragging rights!
Book #6 in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Chase’s popular Montgomery series
This Montgomery Has a Head for Business
Working for Zach Montgomery is challenging on many levels-coming from a wealthy and powerful family, he lives by his own rules and doesn’t answer to anyone. But Gabriella Martine has no intention of backing down. She’s used to handling stubborn men, and it doesn’t hurt that Zach is smart, charismatic…and gorgeous.
And a Heart for Adventure
Zach’s perfect world is turned upside down when a climbing accident leaves him broken, angry, and maddeningly dependent. In his slow quest for recovery, Gabriella is always there to help…but as Zach comes to see his beautiful assistant in a new light, he is forced to re-evaluate what it really means to be a man worthy of Gabriella’s love.
Montgomery Brothers Series:
Wait for Me (Book 1)
Trust in Me (Book 2)
Stay with Me (Book 3)
Return to You (Book 4)
Meant for You (Book 5)
I’ll Be There (Book 6)
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About A Midnight Clear
Dr. Tom Crawford isn’t feeling the spirit of the season when he arrives in Last Chance. Far from friends and family, he’s the odd man out in this town of gossiping, tight-knit Southerners-until he meets a sweetly sexy single mom who makes him feel welcome. Suddenly the handsome doctor is thinking he’s finally found a place to call home.
Local florist Teri Summers has her hands full of mistletoe in preparation for the holiday, yet finding someone to kiss is her last priority. But when the gorgeous new doctor makes a connection with her special needs son, Aiden, Teri finds herself wondering if she’s finally found happiness in this season of joy. For Teri and Tom, Last Chance may be their best chance at love.
About Hope Ramsay
Hope Ramsay grew up on the North Shore of Long Island, but every summer Momma would pack her off under the care of Aunt Annie to go visiting with relatives in the midlands of South Carolina. Her extended family includes its share of colorful aunts and uncles, as well as cousins by the dozens, who provide the fodder for the characters you’ll find in Last Chance, South Carolina. She’s a two-time finalist in the Golden Heart and is married to a good ol’ Georgia boy who resembles every single one of her heroes. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia, where you can often find her on the back deck, picking on her thirty-five-year-old Martin guitar.
“She turned to look over her shoulder. “Doctor Crawford, are you asking me out on a date?”
He couldn’t tell if she was shocked or surprised, so he gave her a nonchalant shrug. Maybe he could fool her into thinking he wouldn’t be disappointed if she declined. “I am. I was wondering if you would introduce me to the barbecue in this town. I’ve heard it’s excellent.”
“It is excellent. Much better than anything you’ve got in Boston.” She turned all the way around to face him. “But I’m afraid I’m busy tonight.”
“Oh, all right. Some other time then.” He backpedaled, and his prosthesis almost tripped him up. He stifled the urge to massage his knee. He was just proud enough not to want Teri to know about his missing leg.
He’d lost it as a result of bone cancer at the age of seven. His “peg leg” as Jimmy liked to call it, had been with him for a long, long time, and he was mostly steady on his feet. In truth, his scars from that time were far less visible.
He took another step back, steadier on his one foot. Luckily, Teri hadn’t noticed his awkwardness. Good.
“I’m putting up my own Christmas tree tonight,” Teri said in a rush, as if she was trying to explain her rejection. “Well, anyway, I’m going to try. But you know Aiden might not like it, so I was just going to, you know, put up something small and maybe put some angels on it or something. So I . . .” Her voice trailed off. Her face got redder.
“I see,” he said.
“Uh, well, Aiden and I are going to be on our own this Christmas, you know. And I need to put up a tree. I haven’t done that in a long, long time. I’m not sure how Aiden will react.”
“Want some help?”
She stood silent for the longest moment, either trying to compose herself or weighing the pros and cons. “You’d do that?” she finally asked.
He opted to play this scene straight. No need to give her a speech about his past. The less said about that the better. “I’m pretty good at putting up Christmas trees. Although”—he looked around at the mess—“I might not be up to your professional standards.”
Her mouth quirked as if she were trying to keep it from trembling. “My professional standards mean ”
Her mouth quirked as if she were trying to keep it from trembling
“My professional standards mean nothing. Aiden has definite likes and dislikes, and this year I thought I’d try to tailor Christmas to his standards, instead of forcing him to celebrate the holiday by everyone else’s.” She bit her lower lip.
“Sounds like a good plan to me.” Man, she had one kissable mouth. Too bad he hadn’t caught her under the mistletoe that she was clearly planning to hang before the day was out.
“Yeah,” she said with a little nod, “it does sound like a good plan, doesn’t it? I have no idea where this is going to lead though.”
Neither do I. “I’m adventurous.”
“I think that’s true. You came all the way from Boston to the middle of nowhere to do battle with Lillian Bray and the rest of the busybodies in this town. That takes courage.”
He was surprised. Ma had told him that joining the NHSC had been an act of supreme stupidity. “So, what time?” he asked.
“Uh, well, I guess about six.”
“Six it is, then.” He turned and made the quickest of getaways before she realized that he’d just sort of invited himself over.”
The second in Jade Lee’s saucy Rakes and Rogues series, One Rogue at a Time, comes out this December! To celebrate, Jade played a quick round of ‘Would You Rather?’ with us and sent an excerpt from the book to share.
Would you rather never be able to speak again or only be able to speak in pig Latin? Never speak again. I’ve never managed pig Latin even though I’m counted quite clever at times. Plus, I mostly write and text these days anyway. It would be easy to adapt to an electronics-enhanced life that speaks for me. (Or is that cheating?)
In this excerpt our heroine (nicknamed Bluebell) is angling for our hero to take her to London where she can meet her father for the first time. She’s bargained for speaking lessons, and now she’s bartering for a ride to London. But she isn’t prepared for the price he demands.
“You want me to take you to Oxfordshire and then on to London,” Bram accused. “You want me to dress up this fine carriage and let you appear before your relations like a fine lady. You’ve been planning that from the moment you met me.”
“Ooo, an’ me a simple maid from ’Ull. Wot makes ye think I could muster all that?” She exaggerated her accent such that his back molars ground together in disgust.
“Admit it. That’s what you want.”
She lifted her chin. “And what if I do? You’re free t’ say no.”
“There. Fine. Ye’ve said it. But I can pay—”
He grabbed her chin, pulling it—and her—toward him. Part of him thrilled at finally touching her pristine skin. Part of him watched how her eyes widened and the pupils darkened, her mouth slipping open on a gasp. Was she afraid of him? Yes. Obviously. And he tried to care. He tried to tell himself that he didn’t want to punish her for crimes she hadn’t committed. But she was a schemer just like the others, and so he damned her all the same.
“I will take you to London,” he said, his voice low, his breath hot.
She didn’t answer, and he didn’t care.
“But there’s only one payment I’ll take.”
“No,” she whispered. “I’m a lady.”
“Say it all you like, Miss Bluebell, but I know the truth.”
She swallowed, trying to pull herself back, but she was still sitting on the barrel, so she had nowhere to run. She stilled and her eyes narrowed.
“Wot truth? That I want to go to London? That I want proof o’ my father? Or that you’re nothing but a man with ruttin—”
He kissed her. He wasn’t slow, and he wasn’t remotely gentle. And the fact that she was completely untutored in the way of kissing infuriated him even more. She was a lie. She deserved all the pain he could give her. She was…
She was an innocent, and he had to soften. He had to become gentle with her, and so he did. He didn’t want to, contradictory beast that he was. He liked his anger. Stoked it to a hot flame, but not against her.
So he softened. He gentled.
Where before he had simply wrenched her mouth to his, he now petted her chin. And though he had forced his tongue into her, he eased his penetration. He teased her and then pulled back.
“You are a lie,” he said to her panting chest.
“You are a brute,” she answered, anger vibrating out of her.
“Yes, and worse. I’m a bastard.”
“You’re not even ashamed.”
Oh, he was. He was riddled with shame, but he wouldn’t let her see it. She had to know the truth about him before she tried to play her games. “I’ll take you wherever you want to go, Miss Bluebell. But I’ll be taking you as I do it.”
He felt the impact of his words on her body. She shuddered, but she also licked her lips. Part of her wanted him, brute though he was.
“I am a lady.”
“Ladies spread their legs for me all the time.”
“Then I’ll not take you anywhere.”
He felt her accept the truth of his words. Her body bowed, and her shoulders drooped. But when she spoke, her voice was strong with conviction.
“I don’t need you to take me. I’ve coin eno’. The mail coach goes to Oxfordshire and London.”
“You’ll be prey to every bloke who sees you.”
She finally jerked her chin away from the stroke of his fingers. “’At’s been true since I first started filling out a dress.” And then before he could anticipate her move, before it even registered that he was in danger, she lifted her knee.
How she’d maneuvered it so perfectly, he didn’t know. But one moment he was hard as a rock, still thinking of ways he could make her willing. The next there was a blinding flash of white-hot pain, and he was crumpled onto the ground.
He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t think. He just knew pain. And one word:
Title: One Rogue at a Time
Author: Jade Lee
Series: Rakes and Rogues, #2
Pubdate: December 1st, 2015
USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee continues her saucy, vibrant Rakes and Rogues Regency romance series with a high-society outsider who may have met his match…
A brown-eyed bastard with nothing to lose
As the illegitimate son of a duke, Bramwell Wesley Hallowsby grew up tough, on the fringes of society, learning to hide his hurt and cynicism with charm and Town polish. He’s carved out a place for himself as a mercenary, serving as bodyguard and general strong arm for the peerage. Bram has nothing to lose… and he’s exactly what Maybelle “Bluebell” Ballenger needs.
Meets his match in a blue-eyed beauty with everything to hide
Maybelle needs a mentor to teach her to speak and act like a lady, so she can claim the place in society she was denied. As they team up to take on the ton, Bram knows she’s hiding something even from him. Despite the deception he sees behind those sparkling blue eyes, Bram wants to believe that Maybelle’s love is no lie. But it seems fate has served him up his just desserts in the likes of this determined damsel.
USA Today bestselling author Jade Lee has been crafting love stories since she first picked up a set of paper dolls. Ballgowns and rakish lords caught her attention early (thank you Georgette Heyer), and her fascination with the Regency began. An author of more than 40 romance novels and winner of dozens of reader awards, she brings laughter into the sexy nights of England’s elite. Quirky characters and sexy banter are her hallmarks. Find out more at her website www.JadeLeeAuthor.com, or check out her wild contemporary half at www.KathyLyons.com.
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This book is a gem and a gift, and in order to avoid spoilers I'll say up front: Parker is blind. The dots on the cover are Braille. And now you know ...except, it's not a big secret. Really, Parker would be the first to say, "So? And get over... Read the rest of this post
Katie MacAlister dropped by the virtual offices to answer a few questions! Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!
Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?
Oh, mercy, just line my books up and start reading off the hero names. I’ve said before that I write books for myself first, and that’s absolutely true. I love all of my heroes, and it’s only because publishers won’t let me write all the heroines as me that I bother with writing those dishy men females who are worthy of them.
Outside of my books, I was one of those girls who grew up with the hots for Sherlock Holmes. As an adult, I’ve been quite fond of several of Georgette Heyer heroes, particularly those who give in to their senses of humor (Sir Tristram from Talisman Ring, and Freddy Standen from Cotillion).
What are five books on your night stand/bookshelf?
This is going to be a very disappointing answer, I fear. Right now on my nightstand are Sol y Viento (a Spanish textbook), Art: A Brief History by Marilyn Stokstad (an art history textbook), History of Italian Renaissance Art by Frederick Hartt and David Wilkins, Introduction to Forensic Science by Richard Saferson, and Step Aside, Popsm a Hark! A Vagrant Collection by Kate Beaton.
What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?
I think the scene where Gary meets Jim is one of my faves. Especially since Gary is showing off, and Jim is instantly jealous of Gary’s toys.
If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?
Roar by Katy Perry. The need to rise above people who want to put you down is pertinent to both hero and heroine. Plus I can see them both singing it loudly.
Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?
I’m lucky in that my publishers have excellent art departments who take a few bits of scattered ideas that I pry out of my brain, and turn them into gorgeous covers, usually involving lick-worthy men. And this cover is no different. It’s not a bad thing to find yourself stroking a book cover, is it?
Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?
I’ve always told myself stories, so writing is really just an extension of that. My inspiration is my muse, who I picture as a bon-bon eating diva who reclines of fainting couches a lot, waving a languid hand whenever she wants something, and basically ruling me with threats of going away on vacation if I attempt to work her too hard. I seldom use real people in my books, since the people in my head are much more flawed and thus suitable for me to torment, but I do use as many real locations as I possibly can. I rely heavily on past trips to Europe as the source of many locations, and those I haven’t visited I usually research by finding people who live there, and haunting online webcams, and photo galleries.
Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?
When my arthritic hands let me, I like to spin wool into yarn, knit, and sew a variety of things that never quite turn out as I’ve envisioned. I’m a gamer girl, as well, so I’m online in games like World of Warcraft, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars The Old Republic, Hearthstone, Lord of the Rings Online, and way too many other games.
I’ve also decided to go back to school, and am enjoying online classes at Fort Hays State University so I can add a history degree to my list of credentials.
Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?
Oh, she’d be thrilled that I’ve survived the last few years, since they included everything from the death of my husband to moving to a new house. And I think she’d be quite happy with the body of work I’ve produced in the last ten years, although I know she’d tell me I should stop insisting on having time off between books, and instead write non-stop.
About Dragon Storm
TURN ON THE CHARM
According to some (including himself), Constantine is one of the greatest heroes of dragonkin who ever lived. Too bad he’s now lonelier than ever and his biggest adventure involves a blow-up sheep-until he has an opportunity to save his kind once again. All Constantine has to do is break into a demon’s dungeon, steal an ancient artifact, and reverse a deadly curse. The plan certainly does not involve rescuing a woman . . .
TURN UP THE HEAT
Bee isn’t sure whether to be infuriated or relieved when Constantine pops up in her prison. The broody, brawny shifter lights her fire in a way no one ever has before, yet how far can she really trust him? Their chemistry may be off the charts, but when push comes to shove, Constantine will have to make a crucial choice: to save the dragons or the woman he’s grown to love with fierce intensity.
About Katie MacAlister
For as long as she can remember Katie MacAlister has loved reading, and grew up with her nose buried in a book. It wasn’t until many years later that she thought about writing her own books, but once she had a taste of the fun to be had building worlds, tormenting characters, and falling madly in love with all her heroes, she was hooked.
With more than fifty books under her belt, Katie’s novels have been translated into numerous languages, been recorded as audiobooks, received several awards, and are regulars on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. A self-proclaimed gamer girl, she lives in the Pacific Northwest with her dogs, and frequently can be found hanging around online.
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By: Lizzy Burns
Blog: A Chair, A Fireplace and A Tea Cozy
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, Amy Spalding
, young adult
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Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding. Poppy. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.
The Plot: Riley and Reid walk in on our their band mates Lucy and Nathan -- to their surprise, Lucy and Nathan are together. Together-together.
Riley is stunned, especially because Lucy is her best friend and Lucy never said a word. Riley and Reid both resolve to pursue love (and kissing and maybe even sex), and to share each detail, and to help each other out.
The top of Riley's list is her crush, Ted Callahan; Reid's is Jane.
How successful is their plan? Well, there will be kissing. Of Ted Callahan, and other guys.
The Good: This is primarily Riley's story, but because Riley and Reid share notes and progress reports and suggestions in a Passenger Manifest journal, and part of that is written by Reid, it's both their stories.
Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley shaking herself into action. Oh, she's hardly passive. Her goal is rock star, so her time has been taken up with the band. And her best friend is Lucy, and she's friends with Reid and Nathan, but she's been satisfied, kind of, with that.
Riley isn't satisfied anymore. And confiding in Reid, instead of her usual Lucy, helps push her to do things like offer Ted Callahan a ride home. Or kiss Garrick. Or call the number of the cute boy she met at the CD store. Riley goes from zero love interests to three. Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley (and Reid) navigating teen age dating, figuring out the difference between like and love and lust and love, wondering just what is right to tell someone if there isn't any real commitment yet.
Reid's story in some ways mirrors Riley's The first girl he pursues turns out to already have a boyfriend, and Riley doesn't really make the connection to her own situation. The next girl is -- well, it's a bit funny, because Reid makes a list of potential girls. Ones who talk to him, ones he likes, who has potential? Unlike Riley, he's not acting on a crush. It's more that he wants someone, and there is something very sweet and likable in how he keeps himself open to any possibility rather than requiring a crush first. It's also very honorable that he pursues a girl he likes being with, ignoring that his friends don't really like her.
At one point, rather late in the story, their Passenger Manifest goes missing and Riley and Reid have to deal with the consequences. For Riley, that ends up being the consequences of not having conversations and not talking. Kissing and sex may create a connection but it doesn't replace talking. Yes, there is a sex scene, butwhile Riley may be kissing three boys there is only one that she really likes. No, I won't say who.
What's nice about the emphasis on communication is that it is clear from the beginning that Riley's failure at spoken honesty, and desire to not confront, isn't something that just happens with boys. Remember Lucy? Part of what drives the whole book is Riley's continuing inability to talk with her best friend, Lucy. Part of Riley's growth is realizing she has to have the tough conversations, whether it's about the status of a friendship or of a relationship.
I also like how this explores attraction and relationships (both friendship and more), and that Riley (and Tom and Garrick and Milo) is not just about who she is dating or kissing but is about creating real friendships and how those friendships are made. Lucy, Riley, and Reid have known each other since kindergarten and those types of friendships sometimes means someone has a hard time making new friends -- they don't have the skills. Riley is developing those skills, though admittedly mainly because she is seeking a boy. And mainly because she assumes that Lucy's changed relationship with Nathan means that Lucy's friendship with Riley is different.
Finally! It's also about a band, and I loved how being part of the band is used for the story, from being what ties Riley and her friends together, to her passions and interests, and also the time it takes outside of school. Their dedication is clear.
One final thing: this may be a spoiler, so stop reading if any type of spoiler bothers you. This is not the type of book where Riley looks at her good friend Reid and sees him in a different light while he has an unrequited crush. This is about two people who are friends, whose friendship grows stronger but whose friendship remains a friendship.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
This December, debut author Susanne Lord releases the first in her London Explorers series, In Search of Scandal! To celebrate, Susanne is here to share one of the facts she uncovered while researching for this adventurous new series:
Explorer Fast Fact: In 1850, the fastest clipper ships to deliver explorers from England to Asia could travel at a rate of up to 20 knots (approximately 23 mph), while steamships could manage only around 12 knots/13 mph.
Title: In Search of Scandal
Author: Susanne Lord
Series: London Explorers, #1
Pubdate: December 1st, 2015
A DARING EXPLORER
All of London is abuzz with the tale of Will Repton. The lone survivor of a massacre in Tibet has returned to England a hero, but the traumatized explorer has no time for glory. Another dangerous expedition awaits. Nothing will deter him from his quest, and no one will unearth his secret—until Will meets Charlotte Baker.
IS NO MATCH FOR AN ADVENTUROUS HEART
Vivacious Charlotte Baker also has a mission—to find a man whose bold spirit matches her own. When she meets Will Repton, she immediately recognizes him as her soul mate, and she’s naively willing to turn her back on the rules of propriety to ensnare him. Will is torn between his fascination with Charlotte and his vow to finish his quest. He knows what it is to risk life and limb—but what if his most perilous adventure doesn’t lie across an ocean, but within his own lost heart?
Susanne Lord is a writer of Victorian-era romance and author of the London Explorer series published by Sourcebooks. Originally from Okinawa, off-base and on, she now makes her home in Chicago where she is an active member of Chicago North RWA. When not writing, attending theater or reading, she enjoys hiking the English countryside and visiting historic homes and gardens.
Charlotte caught her breath and unclenched the grip she had taken upon his hand. “You cannot pretend to like me, Mr. Repton. I just wonder—I have always wondered what I have done to offend you.”
His arm tightened and his lips were right back to hovering over her ear. “Wait…”
More silence. Honestly! She would not stand here and let him trample her heart.
She ripped herself from his arms. “It is fine. I hardly require every man to like me, Mr. Repton. Be assured I am aware of your feelings and you will not have to suffer my attentions anymore.”
She whirled to leave but a steel hand gripped her arm.
“God! Blast it! Now what have I done?” he growled, his blue eyes wintry in the moonlight. “I thought we were getting on. I wouldn’t mind being your friend, as long as you understand that’s where it ends.”
“Wouldn’t mind? I have more friends than I can count, I hardly need—”
He yanked her hard against him. “Then what do you want?”
“I…I will not argue—”
His hands gripped her waist. “What do you want, Charlotte?” He growled. “What do you want me to do?”
Her words died in the face of his rising frustration. What did she want? What had she ever wanted but him? She wanted him still. From the first sight, the first instant. Every day, every hour, she wanted him. In a deep, tender, precious place she could not touch with reason. And all he did was sneer and push her way.
“Why didn’t you ignore me as you normally do?” she asked hollowly. “Why did you talk to me at all tonight?”
He said nothing. He didn’t move. Something furious and wild thundered through her breast. “You don’t belong here!” Her fist clenched, wanting to slap that frozen look off his face. “Say something!” She launched against him, gripping him about his hard neck. “Say anything!”
But his stubborn lips were sealed, and before she could stop herself, she mashed her mouth against them.
Instantly, she regretted it. Their chins knocked, their teeth scraped, and a grunt of surprise sounded from his throat.
Oh God, what was she doing? She didn’t know how to give a kiss and he certainly didn’t want hers. His hands dropped off her and she sobbed sharply against his mouth. Mortified, she crumpled against his neck.
Oh God, oh God, how will I face him?
A hard hand seized her neck and forced her head up. Blue eyes blazed into hers. “Damn it all!”
Warm lips clamped to hers expertly. Shocked, she sank to her heels but his arm tightened and locked her against the hard wall of his body.
His deep groan shook her.
But it was a sound of surrender.
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Anna Harrington dropped by to answer a few questions and share an excerpt of her release Dukes Are Forever. Be sure to enter the giveaway, too!
1. What would readers be surprised to find out about you?
I have a pilot’s license. I took flying lessons at Chicago Midway and eventually earned both my private license and instrument rating in Chicago Center and my complex/high-performance sign-off at Gary Regional Airport. (And I deeply apologize to Southwest Airlines and to the tower controllers for any problems I might have caused.)
2. Tell us about your writing process. Do you start with an idea or a character? Do you know what’s going to happen from the beginning or do you figure it out as you write?
I usually start with a problem and work out from there, creating the characters, places, and conflicts that radiate from that central problem. For DUKES ARE FOREVER, the problem was simple: what if a new duke was forced to take a ward who wasn’t a child but a full-grown woman? Then, the ideas just ripple out from that like circles in a pond. The first thing I do is sketch out the external and internal conflicts, then I write out the basic plot and backgrounds for the two main characters, which is usually about 2 – 3 pages long. I then start filling in details. When I’m finished, I’ll have what I consider the “outline draft”—about 20 single-spaced pages. Then, I start writing. And 95K words later, I’m finished and dive into a big bowl of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream!
3. Who gave you the one piece of writing advice that sticks with you to this day?
Dr. John Stratton, my college writing instructor, who told us repeatedly, “Writing isn’t about you. You’re just the author. What matters is the reader. If you’re not giving the reader what he or she wants, then you’re not writing.”
4. Is there one thing you have to have when writing?
COFFEE!!! And during the season, I keep a vase of cut flowers from my garden on the table where I write. It’s in my sunroom, so I have wonderful views of the yard, the wooded hill behind the house, and the creek.
5. How did you choose the names of your characters?
For DUKES ARE FOREVER, I picked Katherine because I’ve always loved that name. It’s feminine and classic but also strong, and the nicknames for it are perfect for reflecting different parts of her personality: the nickname Kate sounds so fiery and no-nonsense, but when the servants call her Katie, there’s affection and love in it. As for Edward…well, when I pictured him in my mind, he just LOOKED like an Edward. Aunt Augusta because she could ONLY be an Augusta. Edward’s brother Stephen was named after King Stephen.
6. How has music played a role in your life and in your writing?
I love all kinds of jazz and symphonic music, and I always have music playing in the background while I’m writing. What I listen when I write, however, depends on the type of writing task I’m working on that day…music to set the mood.
7. When was the moment that you knew you had to be a writer?
I was in third grade, and we were supposed to write a paragraph about an everyday. I don’t know why, but I wrote about a hammer owned by President Jimmy Carter and the story of that hammer’s life…from the hammer’s first-person POV! My teacher read it to the entire class and gave it a place of honor on the board for the upcoming parent-teacher conferences. At that point, I was hooked. I had a talent for writing, and the praise was addictive. I started writing then, filling spiral Mead notebooks by the dozen, and in my early teens I had my first publications, contest wins, and two one-act plays staged by a local drama club. I was hooked. I haven’t stopped writing since, although the genres have certainly changed over the years.
8. Do you have any favorite book boyfriends of your own?
Well, of course Mr. Knightly from Emma! But other favorites include Sullivan Waring from Suzanne Enoch’s After the Kiss and Sebastian Carlisle from the book I’m currently writing (and brother of Josie Carlisle in HOW I MARRIED A MARQUESS). And although he’s a based-on-a-book-TV boyfriend, I’m desperately in love with Ross Poldark from Masterpiece’s Poldark series.
9. What are five books on your night stand/bookshelf?
Georgette Heyer’s Regency World by Jennifer Kloester, The Groucho Letters by Groucho Marx, Cottage Living, Catch-22, and a book by whatever Regency romance writer I’m currently reading.
10. What’s your favorite quote or scene from your book?
My favorite bit occurs when Kate tries to explain to Edward why he’s the type of man not used to being told No, only to dig herself deeper into embarrassment. The attraction between them sizzles, so do the back-and-forth barbs and Edward’s cool as he rakishly lets out just enough rope for to hang herself. (But I also like the running joke about the boy’s breeches she wears.)
11. If your couple’s relationship had a theme song, what would it be?
“Good Things” by the Bodeans
12. Tell us about the cover process. Is this what you had in mind?
I love that she’s holding a rose in her hand! I have a rose bush in my garden that exact same shade. It’s a David Austin rose called Grace, and it’s the pride of my garden.
13. If your book was being made into a movie, who would you include in your dream cast?
For Kate, I’d pick Amy Adams—she has the red hair and the feistiness but can still portray a feminine vulnerability that Kate has. For Edward, Aidan Turner. For Aunt Augusta I always picture the stepmother from Walt Disney’s Cinderella—Augusta isn’t evil, of course, but she had that same regal, imperial bearing as the stepmother…but I’d settle for Dame Judi Dench. J
14. Where do you find inspiration for you writing? Do you use real people/places as a foundation?
Creating atmosphere is important, so I try to I use real places where I’ve been for the settings. Because my novels are set in Regency England, and I lived in London during college, I’m fortunate to have first-hand experience with the atmosphere of the city, the look of the countryside, and the wonderful people who live there. I’ll often find a house or building which strikes me, and then the story might take off from there. I don’t use real people as models for the characters, but the characters seen to evolve organically from the places.
15. Do you have any hobbies or activities that you enjoy outside of writing?
During the past two years, since I’ve moved into my new house, I’ve taken up gardening, and I love working outside in the beds, especially with the roses. I’ve planted all kinds of trees, azaleas, hydrangeas, roses, and even blueberries and strawberries. I also love to travel and visit every museum and tourist trap I can, and I like dreaming that someday I might also take a photography class or two so I can take better pictures. I also love to hike and go trekking by all kinds of means—I’ve been pony trekking in Wales and elephant trekking in Thailand, and I’ve love to go camel trekking in Morocco. I love history and archeology, and I love visiting ancient ruins and new cultures all over the world.
16. Would the 10 year-old version of yourself kick your butt or praise you for what you’ve accomplished in life?
The 10 year-old version of me would say, “Well, this life is exactly what we planned, teaching and writing and experiencing adventures all over the world…minus the pony.”
About DUKES ARE FOREVER
ALL’S FAIR IN LOVE
Battlefields and barrooms hold much more interest for Edward Westover, Duke of Strathmore, than a little girl’s fondness for dolls and lace. When he takes possession of his enemy’s estate, everything that villain held dear-including his daughter-belongs to Edward. Hire a governess, arrange a dowry, give a few reassurances, and be off on his way-that’s Edward’s plan. But he’s in for the shock of his life. For his new ward is a beautiful, impetuous, and utterly irresistible woman . . .
. . . AND WAR
Kate Benton is stunned. Who is this arrogant, infuriating man who’s invited himself into her home and taken over her life? Her vow: to do everything in her power to convince him to leave her-and Brambly House-alone. Yet as chilly days melt into sultry nights, Kate sees glimpses of kindness underneath Edward’s cool façade . . . and a passionate nature that takes her breath away. There’s so much she doesn’t know about this man. But does she dare trust this devilish duke with her heart?
About Anna Harrington
Anna is an English professor in Chattanooga Tennessee and a lover of all things chocolate and coffee. She’s a member of RWA and when she’s not hard at work writing her next book or planning her next series, she’s watching BBC and piloting her own aircrafts.
“If she isn’t downstairs in five minutes,” Edward warned Mrs. Elston through gritted teeth, “I will go up to her room and drag her down myself!”
The old governess bristled. “As I told you, Miss Kate is feeling unwell—”
A sharp curse exploded from him, telling her exactly what he thought of Miss Kate’s sudden illness.
“Your Grace,” her brows shot up, offended, “with all due respect—”
He rolled his eyes, knowing that whatever she was about to say would lack all respect.
“—you have swept into our home without warning, upset both my little Katie and the entire household, and are now making demands as if you own the place.”
“I do own it,” he drawled.
“Brambly House is entailed,” she informed him pointedly. “It is owned solely by Miss Kate to be relinquished only to the gentleman she marries.” Her emphasis clearly implied that despite his title, she found him to be no gentleman. “If she wishes to forgo your company, you should have the decency to give her peace!”
She stood squarely in front of him and blocked the stairs like a bulldog guarding its dinner. While ordinarily he would have found that loyalty admirable, tonight he was ready to throttle her for it.
“Mrs. Elston,” he growled, tired from a long day of traveling and now hungry since dinner was an hour late, “if Miss Benton doesn’t come downstairs, I swear I’ll—”
“You will do what, your Grace?” a soft voice challenged from the landing.
He glanced up, and when he saw her, the rest of the threat vanished from his lips. Sweet Lucifer, she was a vision. Although a decade out of fashion, the ice-blue silk gown she wore was cut just carefully enough to tantalize without being improper, with its fitted bodice accentuating her slender waist and its neckline revealing a hint of firm breasts beneath. As she descended toward him, her upswept red hair shining like fire, the dress shimmered enticingly over her curves with each move.
She stopped two steps from the bottom, her eyes level with his and just the hint of a self-assured smile at her lips. The sweet scent of honeysuckle wafted down to him like a cloud, and his gut clenched with unbidden arousal.
The disheveled woman who greeted him earlier had transformed into a beautiful woman, like a caterpillar into a butterfly. She left him speechless.
“You’ll do what?” she pressed.
His lips twisted impishly at his now-empty threat. “Throw you over my knee and spank you.”
“Your Grace!” Mrs. Elston swung her gaze at him, appalled that he would even suggest such a thing.
Kate raised her head defiantly, her green eyes blazing. “I’d like to see you try.”
Good God. His cock twitched at the temptation.
“Miss Kate!” Mrs. Elston blurted out, aghast at her charge’s scandalous behavior.
Ignoring the old governess and fighting back an amused chuckle, Edward held out his hand. “Truce?”
“Until dessert at least?”
She placed her gloved hand into his and allowed him to help her down the last two steps and toward the dining room as she conceded, “Until dessert, your Grace.”
“Edward, please,” he corrected.
“Then you must call me Kate,” she insisted, a mischievous glint in her eyes. “All my guardians do.”
“You have a lot of guardians, do you?” he asked dryly.
“Oh, yes.” She gave a flippant wave of her hand, the mocking gesture indicating how ludicrous she found their situation and her desire to be free of it. “Lately, it seems there’s a new one dropping by every day.”
He paused in mid-step, then slid her an irritated sideways glance as she continued walking, slipping her hand away from his arm to proceed him into the room. As his gaze roamed down her backside, the curves beneath the gown and the soft sashay of her hips once again reminded him that this was no child in need of a guardian. This was a woman.
Worse, he thought grimly as the man now responsible for guarding her reputation, she was beautiful. The moment she debuted, every man would set his sights on her. And it wouldn’t be with the intention of marrying her.
Heaven help him, he was in serious trouble.
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THE WINTER LAIRD
Mists of Fate #1
Releasing November 17th, 2015
Successful matchmaker Brianagh O’Rourke believes in happily-ever-afters…just not her own. She’s convinced passion only exists in her dreams. When she reluctantly accepts a marriage proposal, Bri decides she needs a vacation?but she didn’t expect it to be in 13th century Ireland.
Laird Nioclas MacWilliam just wants peace for his clan. The time for him to marry has come, and after waiting years for his ally to present their daughter, he’s agreed to marry another. But on the eve of his nuptials, a daring rescue brings his missing betrothed right into his arms.
And she does not want to be there.
Brianagh has to return to the future. Nioclas has to marry. He offers a solution for the both of them: She marries him and stays for three months, and they work together to convince his clan they are a love match. In return, he vows to safely return her home. But as the days turn to weeks, they both begin to see what a happily-ever-after could be. And when the time comes, does Brianagh return to the life she’s built, or does she remain in the past for a chance at true love?
“The women are spying on us from under the benches,” Aidan said as he bounced on the balls of his feet, waiting for Nioclas to finish his drink. Admiring his sword, he added, “Been there for about ten minutes or so. I give them another twenty before they get cold and head back into the castle.”
Nioclas sighed. “I’m unsurprised. Does Erin still think no one knows about her forays into the lists?”
Aidan shrugged and quickly crossed swords with his brother. “Of course. I’m certainly not going to tell her. She’ll skewer me on the end of her sewing needle whilst I sleep.”
“Are you that afraid of a wee lass?” Nioclas mocked, jumping back and just avoiding the tip of Aidan’s blade. “I don’t think Donovan has much trouble with her.”
“Oh, I’m sure Donovan has complete control over his wife,” Aidan replied, and they both grinned as they hacked away at each other. “I don’t think he’s ever been privy to the full extent of Erin’s talents, though.”
Nioclas ducked and rolled out of Aidan’s path, springing back up and crossing blades once more. “I—oof—doubt he would’ve agreed to marry her, had he known.”
“Marriage. I don’t envy you, brother. Shackled for life. I hope she is worth it.” Aidan ducked, narrowly avoiding the at of Nioclas’s blade, then spun to avoid it again. “Saints, Nick, I was only—oof— is there something you care to talk about?” he asked sardonically as Nioclas’s attack intensified.
“No,” Nioclas replied curtly, swinging his arm relentlessly.
“Hmm. I believe there’s a tale there.” Aidan plunged his sword toward his brother, who leapt backward.
“None I care to tell you,” Nioclas replied, wiping the sweat off his forehead with the back of his hand.
“Well, you’re putting on quite a show for her.” They circled each other. “Mayhap this will be a love match yet—” Aidan’s sword went flying. He watched, open-mouthed, as it soared through the air. Someone called out, and men scattered as the blade went hilt-over-tip, landing about twenty feet from where they stood.
He looked at his brother in alarm. Nioclas had never bested him by forcing his sword from his hand. That was something they’d agreed long ago was unnecessary between them. War was never far, and neither wanted the other without his sword if it broke.
“Love is for fools,” Nioclas growled before stalking off.
It was a rare thing for Nioclas to lose his temper, especially in the lists. Bemused, Aidan watched him go, then threw a wink over to the source of his brother’s obvious discomfort.
Smirking at the feminine gasps, Aidan collected his sword and sauntered off.
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Born and raised near Boston, Massachusetts, Nancy Scanlon wrote her first romance novel at age 16, when she realized that fictional boyfriends were much easier to figure out than real ones. In the time since, she managed to earn a degree in English, obtain a graduate certificate in creative writing from the University of Cambridge, and marry the man of her dreams (but she still holds tight to her fictional boyfriends).
Currently, she resides in Puerto Rico with her husband, two children, and two dogs. When not writing, Nancy spends her time reading, reviewing and blogging about romance novels, watching too much HGTV, and taking care of her family.
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MY LADY GLORIANA
Releasing Nov 24th, 2015
In this twist on the Pygmalion story, a duke makes a wager that he can bed the uncouth Lady Gloriana. But the bet takes on a life of its own…
The year is 1725. Lady Gloriana Baniard is a beautiful fish out of water. Brought up on the mean streets of London, she is a brash, blunt, obscene force of nature. But thanks to a brief marriage to a disgraced aristocrat, she is forced to live with his noble family and endure the humiliating process of learning to be a lady. Rebelling, she runs away to Yorkshire, where she intends to be a blacksmith, a skill at which she excels. She knows she’ll need a manservant to front for her. When John Thorne appears, she hires him, stirred as much by his irresistible attraction as by his strength.
John Haviland, Duke of Thorneleigh, is an arrogant, indolent gambler and womanizer. Having seen Gloriana just once, he yearns to make her his own. When he learns she has run away from her family, he makes a wild bet with his wastrel companions?he will find the lady and bed her. Disguised as a humble servant, he becomes her assistant, learning the blacksmith trade. The clash of wills between these two proud people creates more sparks than a blacksmith’s anvil, as Gloriana learns to be a lady, Thorne learns humility?and desire deepens to love.
(John Haviland, duke of Thorneleigh, has gone for a midnight walk in the country.)
The night was more glorious than he would have imagined. The sweet scents of new grass and spring flowers filled the air with their delicate perfume, soothing his troubled soul. Impulsively, he rolled up his sleeves, then laughed and pulled off his shirt completely. He half-expected to hear the voice of his long-ago nursemaid, chiding him for common behavior that didn’t suit the heir to an ancient dukedom. Gentlemen didn’t go around half-clothed.
“Rest in peace, Nurse,” he murmured, recalling her with tenderness. He’d stripped naked many a time since those days—and for far less innocent reasons. It was a mild night. Maybe he’d further scandalize Nurse’s memory by going for a swim.
He felt young, adventurous, free—yet strangely sad and melancholy. What had happened to the carefree lad he once had been? What had turned him into this idle dissolute? Surely there was a moment he had missed—a turning point that might have taken him in a different, more satisfying direction.
No. Tonight, with the earth wrapped in silvery moonlight, was for magic. He felt as though something extraordinary was about to happen. Something that would change his life, lead him to a path more splendid and glittering than the moon-dappled one he now followed.
He pulled off his shoes and stockings and stripped off his breeches. The sensual night air caressed his nakedness like a harlot’s hand; he felt a quivering and stirring in his groin. He suddenly ached for a woman. But not a clumsy slattern, like the innkeeper’s wife. Nor even a perfumed beauty who strolled St. James’s Park by day and slept on satin sheets by night. He wanted a goddess, as magical and lovely as this moon-kissed midnight.
He heard the soft whinny of a horse, the gentle thud of hoofs upon packed earth. The sounds seemed to be coming from the far end of the clearing. He shrank back against the tree trunk, concealing his naked body, and waited. The woman galloped onto the sand, magnificent upon her horse—a vision of perfection that took his breath away.
His longed-for goddess.
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Award-winning author Sylvia Halliday’s first historical novel, written as Ena Halliday, was chosen by Pocket Books to launch their Tapestry line. She subsequently wrote for Popular Library/Warner and Harlequin Historicals under the pen name of Louisa Rawlings, the name of her maternal great-grandmother. She has written for Kensington/Zebra under the pseudonym of Sylvia Halliday. She has published 14 historical romances. Her FOREVER WILD earned 5 stars from RT Book Reviews and Affaire de Coeur, and was a RITA finalist for the Romance Writers of America. Her latest offerings, published by Diversion Books, are MARIELLE (The French Maiden Series, #1), LYSETTE (The French Maiden Series, #2), DELPHINE (The French Maiden Series, #3), DREAMS SO FLEETING, GOLD AS THE MORNING SUN, THE RING, and SUMMER DARKNESS, WINTER LIGHT. FOREVER WILD, STOLEN SPRING, and PROMISE OF SUMMER, written by her as Louisa Rawlings, are available from Samhain Publishing.
A Night to Surrender (Spindle Cove) by Tessa Dare. Avon. 2011. And sequels. Library copies.
The Plot: 1813, England. Victor Bramwell is a lieutenant colonel in the army, and he's been wounded, and all he cares about is getting back into the army. So he'll do anything to prove that he is fit to return.
The Plot: 1813, England. Victor Bramwell is a lieutenant colonel in the army, and he's been wounded, and all he cares about is getting back into the army. So he'll do anything to prove that he is fit to return to service.
Susanna Finch lives in Spindle Cove, along with her father. Spindle Cove has earned itself the nickname Spinster Cove, because it's so well known as a bit of a dumping ground for ladies who don't fit into society. It's full of spinsters, ha ha ha.
And Susanna wants to keep Spindle Cove that way. She doesn't want people to know the truth about Spindle Cove: it's not a last resort. It's the best resort; a place where women who don't fit into society, or have been excluded, find a home and acceptance.
Bram's mission to start a local militia is going to be tough -- even more difficult because, well, Spindle Cove is full of women. Not military service ready men. Will Susanna be able to get rid of Bram and his soldiers in time to save Spindle Cove?
The Good: Spindle Cove! The shy and the introverted, but also the outspoken. The brainy. They are welcome and embraced and accepted at Spindle Cove -- at least, for now. A Night to Surrender is the first in a series, each about a different woman of Spindle Cove. Each there for a different reason. And, because of these reasons, it means the heroines of the series are each pretty unique, and independent. And it means that the heroes are those who value the unique. Spindle Cove is about women learning to be themselves, to be confident, and finding men who prize that. It's a feminist series, set in a time that isn't very feminist. The combinations are also interesting, because what matters are who the people are not what they are. Examples: a beautiful young woman and the local blacksmith. A Duke and a serving girl from a pub.
Spindle Cove is also very funny. I confess, I didn't see it as much in A Night to Surrender, but the second, A Week to Be Wicked, had me laughing out loud. And after that, I saw a lot to laugh about.
Also: hot and spicy!
While Spindle Cove is about a safe place, it doesn't hide that the world itself can be harsh. There is a reason, after all, why a refuge like Spinster Cove is needed. The backstory in A Lady by Midnight shows what happens to a young woman without resources or family, who has no options, but who still has to live and to provide for her child.
I have really enjoyed this series; so far there are four books and two novellas, with another novella this December and a new book next year. One nice thing about my recent romance reading is finding series like these, in which there are plenty of books in the series so I can power read one right after another.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
A SEAL Forever by Anne Elizabeth
West Coast Navy SEALs, Book 3
Release date: December 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Even a hero needs someone to believe in him…
Parkour instructor Maura Maxwell has always denied her attraction for her bachelor neighbor because she’s seen his revolving door of women and doesn’t want to become another notch on his belt. But the man who rescues her from a sudden storm isn’t the one she thinks she knows—he’s Master Chief Declan Swifton of SEAL Team Five, and he literally sweeps Maura off her feet.
Just as his teasing and tenderness start to work their way into Maura’s heart, Declan and his team are called in for a dangerous op in the Middle East. The man who returns is facing the toughest fight of his life, and he needs Maura by his side more than ever…
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New York Times bestselling author Anne Elizabeth is an award-winning romance author and comic creator. With a BS in business and MS in communications from Boston University, she is a regular presenter at conventions as well as a member of The Author’s Guild and Romance Writers of America. Anne lives with her husband, a retired Navy SEAL, in the mountains above San Diego.
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A Navy SEALs Fun Fact from Anne Elizabeth
Navy SEALS do not act out of need for recognition, rather they do so out of courage and duty. Notoriety is shunned as it affects your ability to operate in the field.
Master Chief Declan Swifton of SEAL Team Five rolled over the side of the Rigid-hulled Inflatable Boat and slid soundlessly into the Pacific Ocean. The RIB took off without even a comment from the operator, leaving Declan to sink farther into the drink.
The temperature cooled as he swam away from the surface. Fish skirted the edges of his thighs, small shimmers of movement against his skin. He scissor-kicked his way forward. The ocean currents caught him, dragging him in the direction they wanted to go, toward shore. He lay with his arms at his sides, frog-kicking only. Above him, he could see the afternoon sunlight glistening and frothy foam chasing away the glassy surface. Down here things were different…calmer. Peaceful, in a way few souls would understand, and yet he knew that even he would have to surface soon.
His lungs would start to ache and burn, his gut would begin to feel as if it would cave in, and that would force him to either head topside or drink in the salt water. But there was still time. This was the water in front of Imperial Beach and the apartment he lived in. He knew it very well.
Scanning the ocean floor, he gauged it would be about thirty seconds until he reached one of the many rocky sandbars out here. He’d have to pull up before then, or the force of the current would smack him against the side.
As his body began to complain, he used both arms and legs to draw himself upward. Breaking the surface, he opened his mouth and drew in air like a thirsty man would gulp water.
The waves bounced him like a buoy. The tide was coming in and the wind was picking up momentum. Looking at the sky to the east, he could see that there would most likely be a storm today. Over his should, to the west, he spied a wave coming his way large enough to take him to shore. It would reach him in about thirty seconds.
Dec took a long, slow breath and appreciated the sun dropping into the horizon. The colors were extraordinary; orange and gold dappled the horizon as the blazing ball of light attempted to sink before the moon lifted higher in the sky.
His hands flexed, cupping the water. It had been a hot day, and the sun’s rays had heated the top of the ocean, making the surface feel like a warm bath, loosening his muscles. Three months ago, he’d been in waters so frigid, with actual ice caps—the memory still made him cold. But here, the Pacific Ocean off California’s Imperial Beach, was a slice of heaven.
Coming in from the east were some nasty-looking cumulonimbus clouds. Seeing the lightning arc way off toward the distant desert, he decided it was time to go in, and right on cue, here came a perfect wave.
Swimming at top speed, Declan pushed his way through another changing current, one that sought to drag him into faster-moving waters. He went over a higher sandbar, having no intention of going to Mexico today, and increased the reach of his stroke. With single-mindedness he worked his way into the more placid surf as he homed in on a large stretch of beach.
The SEAL felt a few sea lions swimming around him, and one nosed him in the gut and another in his back a few times, assessing whether or not he’d play. Not this time, my friends. He continued swimming without engaging. If he stopped to play, he’d be out there for hours.
Switching to the breaststroke, his arms protested. His platoon had switched their training this month to desert-warfare techniques, and he’d been sweating his balls off in the heat. He managed to learn a thing or two, even now, after all of his years in the Teams. But it felt good to be back in the ocean, his element. He’d live in the deep blue like a Jules Verne character if he could.
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Blog: The Children's Book Review
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SOULPRINT is a fantastic modern thriller by Megan Miranda. Miranda has previously published three novels, including FRACTURE, HYSTERIA and VENGEANCE.
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COMING APART AT THE SEAMS
Riley O’Brien & Co #2
Releasing Dec 1st, 2015
Love can take some time to break in…
Teagan O’Brien, heiress to the Riley O’Brien & Co. denim empire, is anything but a spoiled rich girl. She’s worked hard to secure her place in the family business and can hold her own, in and out of the office. Only one man has ever been able to get under her skin—sexy football star Nick Priest. Years ago they crossed the line from friends to lovers, but he left her heartbroken. Since then, she’s been determined to keep him at arm’s length—no matter how tempting he looks in his jeans…
Nick has fortune, fame, and looks that make most women hot and bothered. But he doesn’t have the woman he really wants. He knows he screwed up when he walked away from Teagan, and now that he has a second chance, he’ll do whatever it takes to win her over—no matter how tongue-tied he gets…
What? No, you don’t!
Her robe fell open as she measured coffee into the coffeemaker, and he exhaled, in relief, not disappointment, damn it, that she wore something underneath it. But then she turned to fill the coffeepot with water, and he got a good look at her pajamas. A scrap of black material barely covered her tits, and a tiny pair of matching shorts barely hid her crotch.
The color made her skin look like fresh powder at his favorite ski resort, and he could see the hard points of her nipples against her top and the enticing indention of her belly button above the waistband of her bottoms.
He tore his eyes away, but it was too late. The hard-on he’d woken up with had returned, and he cursed under his breath.
Her head jerked toward him at the sound, her eyebrows winging up her forehead. “What?”
“Nothing,” he mumbled.
He enjoyed Teagan’s company, but if his body kept acting this way whenever he was around her, he was going to have to stop hanging out with her. It was impossible to avoid touching her altogether, and walking around half hard wasn’t comfortable.
He’d always had complete control over his body, unlike his mouth, and he didn’t know why it got excited around Teagan. She was his friend and his best friend’s little sister.
He’d been having sex four times a week, sometimes five, with a couple of women he’d met at the gym, so it wasn’t as if he were sex-deprived. He might need to add another woman to the rotation, maybe someone dark-haired and blue-eyed.
Teagan pulled her robe closed and cinched the tie around her waist before leaning against the counter. She yawned, not one of those delicate ones that women give behind their hands, but a jaw-popping one.
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Jenna Sutton spent most of her career as an award-winning journalist covering business-related topics including healthcare, commercial real estate, retail, and technology. Nowadays she writes about hot, lovable guys and the smart, sexy women who make them crazy. It’s the culmination of a lifelong dream, and she feels so lucky to be able to do it.
Jenna has a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Texas Christian University and a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University.
Jenna and her husband live in a 103-year-old house in Texas.
Guest Post: 5 Things a Lady Trickster Never Leaves Home Without by Alissa Johnson
I’m delighted to introduce A Talent for Trickery, the first book in my new Victorian-set “Thief-takers” series. Our hero, Private Investigator Owen Renderwell, is on the hunt for a thief and murderer. And he knows just how to catch his man. All he needs is a little help from our heroine, Miss Charlotte Walker-Bales. The daughter of an infamous confidence man, Lottie is in a unique position to offer insight into the mind and motives of a hardened criminal. There’s just one flaw in Owen’s otherwise excellent plan. Lottie hasn’t spoken to him in eight years. She has no interest in working alongside a man of the law, and certainly not the one who betrayed her trust, endangered her family, and broke her heart.
To celebrate Lottie’s unusual background, I’ve compiled a list of five things Lottie would never leave home without.
1. Lock Picks. Two of the earliest lessons Lottie learned from her father were how to open a locked door, and how to free herself from a set of manacles. Good lock picks are an essential tool in every thief’s bag of tricks. Hair pins, however, will do in a pinch.
2. Hidden pockets. These days, Lottie is focused more on keeping her family safe than she is on fleecing an unsuspecting population, but there was a time when she would have had hidden pockets sewn into all her gowns. Those filched goodies had to go somewhere.
3. If going a long distance – A carriage. There are a lot of things Lottie does well, but riding a horse is not one of them. If she has reason to go further than her legs can take her, she goes by horse-drawn carriage or railway.
4. Her accomplice. Lottie never worked alone.
5. A cover story. Few people know that Lottie, Esther and Peter Bales are, in reality, the Walker family—children of the late, but still reviled confidence man, William Walker. They have an entirely fabricated family history, and Lottie needs to remember every detail of it. All the time. One slip-up, and the entire house of cards she built to protect her siblings could come crashing down.
Title: A Talent For Trickery
Author: Alissa Johnson
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Genre: Historical Romance
Series: The Thief-takers, Book 1
The Lady is a Thief
Years ago, Owen Renderwell earned acclaim-and a title-for the dashing rescue of a kidnapped duchess. But only a select few knew that Scotland Yard’s most famous detective was working alongside London’s most infamous thief…and his criminally brilliant daughter, Charlotte Walker.
Lottie was like no other woman in Victorian England. She challenged him. She dazzled him. She questioned everything he believed and everything he was, and he has never wanted anyone more. And then he lost her.
Now a private detective on the trail of a murderer, Owen has stormed back into Lottie’s life. She knows that no matter what they may pretend, he will always be a man of the law and she a criminal. Yet whenever he’s near, Owen has a way of making things complicated…and long for a future that can never be theirs.
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/BNTalentTrickery
Alissa Johnson is a RITA-nominated author of historical romance. She grew up on Air Force bases and attended St. Olaf College in Minnesota. She currently resides in the Arkansan Ozarks where she spends her free time keeping her Aussie dog busy, visiting with family, and dabbling in archery.
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It’ll take more than a badge to get her to confess her secrets.
Kit Wainwright only meant to stop the thief making off with his beloved uncle’s ashes. He wants to hang up his gun, become a law-abiding citizen and leave his violent past behind. But the mayor takes notice of his sharpshooting skills, slaps a badge on his chest and puts him in charge of cleaning up this lawless town. Starting with tracking down the notorious Velvet Grace.
Bordello owner Cora Reilly never meant to become a crusader. But after shooting the last corrupt sheriff in self-defense, she’s spent the last few months turning her hastily donned disguise into a local legend to defend the girls in her town from riff-raff.
There’s no way Cora can trust the handsome new sheriff. Yet Kit’s kisses leave her wanting to open her arms—and her bedroom—to soothe his grief. Even if it brings him too close to the truth that could send her to the gallows.
Warning: Contains a reluctant sheriff with a keen eye for a moving target, and a take-no-crap madam who isn’t about to let him get close. Okay, maybe just a little bit closer. Just this once…
The gun, still warm from shooting the sheriff, fit just right against Cora Lynn Reilly’s
ribs, wedged beneath her breasts between her corset and her blouse. Her heart thundered
like a cannonball as she looked for a way to exit the room that wouldn’t require going near the body on the floor, but unfortunately, there wasn’t one. The sound of the blast would likely bring someone upstairs to check on the man, and she couldn’t be caught alone with him.
Balancing on her toes to miss the blood spreading across the boards, she stepped over the first booted leg, her skirt spanning Bill Sidlow’s bloated thighs. She lifted her hem to avoid dragging her petticoat across the man’s torso, now damp and crimson, and set her left foot down with care between his side and his spread-eagle arm.
Don’t look, don’t look. But morbid curiosity got the better of her. She had to be absolutely
certain the bastard was dead, so she glanced down at Sidlow’s face. His sightless eyes stared back at her, familiar enough to make a frisson of terror run down her spine again after he’d cornered her against his apartment wall with demands of sex.
“Shoulda known better,” she scolded beneath her breath. But whether she’d directed her
words at the sheriff or herself, she wasn’t sure.
He gave no response, his flaccid mouth and sagging jowls glistened with spittle—no
different than in life, she supposed. When he’d visited the club earlier that night, he’d pulled her aside to invite her here to his place for a private word, and even then his breath against her ear had been wet and disgusting.
She’d assumed he wanted to talk about business away from the girls and their customers,
because if he’d wanted to make any advances of a sexual nature, where better than the
Willows, the popular social club she owned on the Row? But she’d been wrong. The sheriff had wanted more than to talk. He’d wanted to take, and that was something Cora wouldn’t allow.
Now, one mistake and a bullet later, she had to get out of his apartment fast before
anyone found her here.
Tearing her stare away from the sheriff ’s corpse, she set her body in motion for the
door, but the sudden tread of boots on the stairs outside stopped her in her tracks.
“Sheriff? Was that your gun I heard?” Mrs. Murphy, wife of the boarding house owner,
called from a short distance below.
Cora’s pulse raced. She scanned the room again. There was a window, but she didn’t
recall seeing a way down. She was certain no one else had seen her enter the building. She
couldn’t let Mrs. Murphy find her now, for who would believe a bordello madam who’d shot the sheriff with her pearl-handled pistol in his own bedroom?
No way would she allow anyone to hang her for the likes of Bill Sidlow. She’d never shot
anyone else in her life and hadn’t even taken her gun out of its case before tonight. The only reason she’d brought the weapon was in case she was accosted by one of the drunks in the streets outside.
Besides, her girls needed her. Especially now that there would be no one to keep the
town’s worst ruffians from their doorstep, and God knew, Fort McNamara had its share of those.
She swept another glance around the room for something she could cloak herself
in. The bed was stripped to the sheet, but a long blue velvet drapery hung above the lone
window. It would have to do.
A knock sounded at the door. “Sheriff? You all right?” Mrs. Murphy asked again.
Cora vaulted over the body and yanked the heavy fabric from the rod. Returning to
the door, she swirled the drape around her head and shoulders until she’d fully cocooned
herself, then she waited for a chance to escape.
The door metal rattled. When Mrs. Murphy peeked in, Cora threw her weight against
the wood panel, knocking the woman outside off balance, and then barreled past. She
descended the stairs, running as fast as she could in the tight wind of her drapery cloak.
As she reached the front door of the boarding house, she heard the woman’s shriek of
horror at discovering her boarder’s remains. “Murder! Help, the sheriff ’s been murdered!”
Bursting outside into the darkened street, she kept to the shadows, holding the fabric
closed at her neck as she dodged drunken cowboys looking for good times. She averted her face, praying no one would recognize her until she made it back to the bordello.
One thing she knew for certain, after this night, she had better get used to carrying her
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Sandra Jones is a multi-published author of historical romances. A former bookseller and librarian, she’s always had her nose in a book.
When not researching or writing her next novel, she enjoys being with family, reading, cooking for her husband, and watching British TV. At home in the South, her house overlooks a river and a farm, where most days you can find her working to the sounds of wildlife and cattle.
Don’t Miss the first in the River Rogues Series
HER WICKED CAPTAIN
By: JOANNA MARPLE,
Blog: Miss Marple's Musings
(Login to Add to MyJacketFlap
2015 Diversity Reading Challenge
, New Adult
, young adult
, binary identity
, Robin Talley
, starting college
, WHAT WE LEFT BEHIND US
, Add a tag
Title: What We Left Behind
Author: Robin Talley
Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2015
Themes: Gender, binary identity, lesbianism, transgender, genderqueer, pronouns, starting college, relationships, romance
Genre: Contemporary YA/NA
Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. (Quotes from the ARC therefor subject to change.)
October … Continue reading
This December starts off with a bang as M.L. Buchman releases TARGET ENGAGED, the first in his brand new (and action-packed) Delta Force series! To celebrate his new release, Sourcebooks Casablanca is sharing the first six chapters of Target Engaged for FREE! Click here to download the first six chapters and check out a special note from M.L. Buchman below.
A Note from M.L. Buchman
Welcome to my newest series: the first women of Delta Force. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun this was to write.
Most of us know little more about Delta Force than the Chuck Norris movies (which leave a lot to be desired) or perhaps we only know the name. In researching my Night Stalkers series, I kept running into these guys. They are the elite of Special Operations Forces. They are at a level of SEAL Team 6, and most would argue they were even beyond that. They are the ghost and shadow warriors who helped take down drug lord Pablo Escobar, capture Noriega, were undoubtedly behind the locating of Saddam Hussein, and are the main reason that Al-Qaeda abruptly stopped being a topic in the Iraq War when over three thousand of their leaders were swept off the board.
Yet the Pentagon states that they don’t exist. Fascinating.
And while they often work with undercover female operatives, no woman has yet managed to kick in the front door on one of the most arduous selection programs in the military.
I decided to change that.
Carla Anderson stepped forward to take the challenge. She is a not a woman out to prove she can match any man, she’s out to prove that she can beat them at their own game. And that was the first thing that I loved about writing this series.
In the Night Stalkers, the women were strong, excellent, and determined.
To be a Delta Force woman, Carla had to add enough attitude and drive to plow through all obstacles which just made her so much fun. Nothing was off the table when it came to her attitude or her actions.
And that was the second thing I came to love about this series launcher, Target Engaged. Being Delta Force, they really do operate outside so many bounds. They are sent to do the tasks that no one else can. To that I added the additional challenge that Robert Ludlum gave to Jason Bourne (though I’m quoting the movie): “I don’t send you to kill. I send you to be invisible. I send you because you don’t exist.” I’m pretty convinced that this is part of Delta’s mission.
It is occasionally said by retired Delta Force operators (as the on-duty ones never speak): “If we’d been sent in to take down bin Laden, you still wouldn’t know how it was done.” To bring that to life gave me a permission as a writer to run my characters into hard and strange places and be just a little gonzo doing it.
But writing is a give and take, and I can’t begin to tell you how much the characters I created shaped my telling of this story. I like to think that they had as much fun as I did bringing this story to life.
I hope that you enjoy the reading even half as much as I enjoyed the writing!
M.L. Buchman (the Oregon Coast, November 2015)
Get to know the Carla, and the entire Delta Force team by reading the first SIX chapters of TARGET ENGAGED for free! Just click here to download them! To get you started, we’ve included the first few pages below:
Title: Target Engaged
Series: Delta Force, #1
Author: M.L. Buchman
Book 1 in M.L. Buchman’s thrilling NEW Delta Force series
Delta Force: The most dangerous elite counter-terrorism force on the planet
• The deadliest shooters •
• The most out-of-the-box thinkers in any military •
• Will die to get the mission done •
Sergeant Kyle Reeves: The premier soldier of the new recruits
Sergeant Carla Anderson: The first woman of Delta Force
If the training doesn’t kill them, their passion may—but Kyle Reeves and Carla Anderson blast right in. Show no fear. Have no fear. Then they get the call. The most powerful drug-smuggling ring in Venezuela needs a takedown, and Delta’s newest team leaps into the deep jungle to deliver. Giving their all? Not a problem. Giving their hearts? That takes a new level of courage.
M. L. Buchman has over 40 novels in print. His military romantic suspense books have been named Barnes & Noble and NPR “Top 5 of the Year,” nominated for the Reviewer’s Choice Award for “Top 10 Romantic Suspense of 2014” by RT Book Reviews, and twice Booklist “Top 10 of the Year” placing two of his titles on their “The 101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” In addition to romance, he also writes thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction.
In among his career as a corporate project manager he has: rebuilt and single-handed a fifty-foot sailboat, both flown and jumped out of airplanes, designed and built two houses, and bicycled solo around the world.
He is now making his living as a full-time writer on the Oregon Coast with his beloved wife. He is constantly amazed at what you can do with a degree in Geophysics. You may keep up with his writing by subscribing to his newsletter at www.mlbuchman.com.
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Diana Gardin is celebrating the release of Last True Hero, and she stopped by the virtual offices to share a Top 5 list.
Five Things You’d Never Find in Dare Conners’ Bedroom
Jewelry. Dare isn’t flashy. He wears his dog tags around his neck to remind him of what he’s been through and of the fact that he loved serving his country, but you’ll never find anything shiny lying around Dare’s room.
Girl’s underwear. Dare doesn’t do one-night-stands in his bedroom. There’ve been plenty of women while he traveled around the country and the world with his unit, but bringing women back to his place? That never happened…until Berkeley.
Artwork. Dare never cared about art before. He never even gave it a second though until he met Berkeley and realized it was her first love.
Stuffed animals. Because Dare grew up in the foster system, he never was able to grow attached to a sentimental toy. He’s always been a loner.
A woman who isn’t Berkeley. Dare is a one-woman kind of guy since meeting Berk. He would never betray her, and you won’t find a woman in his room who isn’t her.
About LAST TRUE HERO
Army Ranger Dare Conners has been through hell. He’s left combat behind, yet the memories that refuse to fade are proving just as dangerous. Ordered to take R&R, he joins his buddy for beaches, beers, and babes-if that can’t cure him, nothing will. But when he meets Berkeley, a woman who affects him like no one else, a new kind of battle begins . . .
An Admiral’s daughter, Berkeley knows her life has been planned since birth. The right school, the right boyfriend-and now that she’s graduated-the right marriage. But after years of being right, Berkeley is ready to be a little wrong. And Dare Conners has wrong written all over him. The sexy soldier has a body built for sin and secrets he won’t share. What starts as a fling quickly grows into something more. But summer can’t last forever, and when the truth comes out, both Berkeley and Dare could be in for quite a fall.
About Diana Gardin
Diana Gardin is a wife of one and a mom of two. Writing is her second full time job to that, and she loves it! Diana writes contemporary romance in the Young Adult and New Adult categories. She’s also a former Elementary school teacher. She loves steak, sugar cookies, and Coke and hates working out.
I had wondered myself why someone like her would be working as a waitress. Hell, I would never knock someone’s job options or choices, and I don’t look down on any profession. Everyone has to make ends meet. But for Berkeley to be waiting tables when she drives an Escalade, I had to wonder. Now, seeing how put-together and affluent her parents look, I’m wondering even harder.
What makes this girl do the things she does?
And that question sets off a spark of intense interest in my brain. My brain is interested in Berkeley now, not just my body.
The tigress sends her parents packing, and by the time she makes it back to my booth, I’m chuckling. I rub a hand over the stubble on my chin and meet her eyes.
“That was interesting,” I remark, giving nothing away.
“Trust me, Dare. You want no part of my parents right now. I don’t introduce them to guys I date.”
“Never. They’re more trouble than they’re worth.” She blows out a frustrated breath, which sends that cute stray strand of hair hanging over her eye flying skyward.
“I’m going to want to know more about that at some point. But what do you want to do tonight?”
“Honestly?” She puts out a hand and pulls me to my feet.
I reach out and brush the stray strand behind her ear. Just the small amount of contact sends heat coursing through my body, landing with an aching twitch in my groin. “I always want honesty from you, Berkeley.”
I’ve been preparing myself for this all day. I’m ready to take her to see a movie, or to some swanky-ass wine bar on the oceanfront.
“Okay.” A mischievous gleam enters her eyes. “I worked a double today, and my feet kind of hurt. All I really want to do tonight is kick off my shoes and drink a beer. And look at the stars.”
I reach up and pull on my earlobe a few times, wanting to make sure my ears are functioning properly. She wants to…what the fuck? Finally, I speak. “For real?”
She nods firmly. “Absolutely.”
I grab her hand and begin pulling her quickly out the door.
“What are you doing?” Her question is blurred by giggles and squeals. All of which I like.
“I’m getting you out of here fast, before you change your mind and tell me that what you actually want to do is go wine tasting or see a chick flick.”
I stop in my tracks as I survey the tiny gravel lot. Cars are spilling out onto the street beyond. “Where’s your car?”
When I look at her, she’s smiling a coy smile that lets me know my guess earlier about her being an evil vixen siren was correct. “I had my friend Mea drop me off. I’m with you tonight, soldier.”
It’s way too soon for a first kiss. It’s way too soon for a first kiss. This is my mantra as I stare at her, my eyes wandering from her eyes, to her amazingly sexy hair, to her lips, to her cute button nose, back to her lips…
When she pulls the bottom one into her mouth, my gaze is stuck to that spot. I’m telling myself that if I kiss her right now, I’ll scare her away and ruin everything I suddenly want to build. I manage to tear my eyes away from the succulent lip and take her hand again.
“My truck is this way.”
I’m not a small guy, around six feet, three inches. Berkeley is about a foot shorter than I am. Rather than watch her struggle to simply make it up the step rail, I grip her around the waist and lift her up into her seat. Her eyes meet mine as she settles into the leather, and we remain locked as I pull her seat belt and cross it over her torso, sliding it into the buckle on the other side of her. When I pull back, I swear I see a trail of sparks that follow. Heat explodes in my gut, and I can’t remember the last time a woman made me feel like I needed to douse myself with cold water from a mere graze of skin. I close her door and take a deep breath as I walk around to my side of the truck.
When I’m seated with the engine running, I ask her where I should go. “To the 7-Eleven for our beer, and then…where do you live? Is it on the beach, by any chance?”
I smile and pull out of the lot. “It’s pretty damn close.”
“Perfect. Let’s go to your place.”
I drive. As I pull into the 7-Eleven parking lot, I glance at her. She’s lounging in her seat, perfectly at home in my truck. I swallow thickly, trying to dispel the ball of instant attraction still stuck somewhere between my chest and my dick.
This girl might be the slow, epically painful death of me. But damn, what a way to go.
THE BRIDE WORE CRIMSON by Adrianne Lee (November 10, 2015; Forever E-book; The Weddingville Series #2)
EVERY BRIDE WANTS A KILLER WEDDING
Weddingville, Washington, is in the throes of its annual bridal fair. For Daryl Anne Blessing, that means soothing the high-strung brides-to-be who have taken her family’s dress shop by storm. Hunky photographer Seth Quinlan is around to provide eye candy and witty repartee-but it’s no laughing matter when a diamond ring set disappears from the Ring Bearer Jewelers, followed by a designer gown from Blessing’s Bridal Shop.
Daryl Anne hopes the thefts are just the work of a prankster poking fun at the wedding fever that’s overtaken the town. But Weddingville’s shopkeepers can’t afford for the bridal fair to lose its luster. Then business takes a dark turn when a bride is found dead in Flower Girl Shop’s fridge. Now, with Weddingville’s romantic reputation on the line, Daryl Anne and Seth turn up the heat on their own simmering attraction-and a killer determined to make bridezillas a dying breed . . .
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About the author:
Adrianne Lee lives with her husband of many, many years on the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State in a pole barn building her husband transformed into an upstairs apartment with a shop below for his hot rods. Adrianne creates her stories on her laptop, in her recliner with her adopted cat, Spooky, curled between her calves, snoozing.
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It always feels like I’m walking into a secret garden when I enter a floral shop. Green everywhere. Take another step and bursts of color catch the eye. But the first sensation is the ambrosia scent, a mix of different blooms that I can never quite define. Sweet. Pleasant.
This was the Flower Girl. The narrow entrance, like walking through a trellis, opened to a wide room that held racks and displays and an array of accessories for garden and home, just as Jenny had described. The mesh of voices, however, robbed the sense of a secret garden today.
Customers milled throughout the display racks, oohing and aahing at the variety of arrangements. Several were almost nose-touching the glass cooler case, peering in at myriad bouquets in a riot of hues that could suit any wedding theme.
As I worked my way toward the counter, I spied Flora working the cash register. Her daughter, Violet, and another person I didn’t recognize were in the work area behind her, putting together arrangements.
Flora looked up, spotting me in line. She was in her late forties with thick glasses, straight blond hair going gray, and a penchant for oversized jeans and men’s plaid shirts. She waved me forward, leaned across the counter, and said, “Daryl Anne, your mother’s roses are in the cooler in the storeroom. Just go on back and get them.”
“Sure.” I retreated along the line of buyers waiting to pay for treasures they’d found or to place an order for that something special that would add to their own perfect ceremony. At the end of the day, I thought, there are worse jobs than fulfilling someone’s dreams. I cut across the room to a doorway marked EMPLOYEES ONLY, humming “Here Comes the Bride.”
I entered a short hallway that opened into a ten-by-twenty-foot windowless room. I suppressed a shudder, telling myself it wasn’t some creepy basement, just a storeroom. But the sputtering fluorescent lighting overhead did not alleviate my unease. I hummed a little louder. My gaze darted to the shelves at one end of the room, stuffed with boxes, vases, planters, and big plastic buckets. Nothing there to cause the hair on my nape to stand on end. And yet it was.
My arms were even goose bumpy. Stop it, Daryl Anne. All the talk about locking doors and no one feeling safe in this town had me scaring up nightmares in the daytime. Nothing scary, except maybe a spider or two. My gaze went to the two refrigeration units at the other end of the room. The glass front of the larger cooler seemed frosted, but as I neared, I realized it was just steamed up, as if someone had let too much warm air into the interior by holding the door open too long.
I peered into the smaller cooler first. Baby’s breath, lilies, carnations, even lilacs, but no roses. I moved to the other cooler, grabbed the handle, and pulled the door open. Chilled air rushed out to greet me. I stared at the calamity inside, not comprehending what I was seeing. It looked as if someone had taken a baseball bat to the glass shelving, vases, and flowers, smashing everything. Shards of glass clattered to the concrete, onto my sandal-clad feet, cutting into my toes.
I didn’t feel it. Not then. My attention zeroed in on the mound of rose petals and broken stems on the bottom of the cooler. A fisted hand rose from the heap as if reaching toward me. I recoiled. I wanted to run. But what if this person was alive? Needing help. I leaned forward to touch the wrist and felt cold, rubbery flesh. Someone started screaming. It might’ve been me.
Kate SeRine dropped by the virtual offices to share a Top 10 list!
Top 10 Items You’ll Never Find in Kyle’s Bedroom
Kyle Dawson is the youngest of the Dawson brothers and definitely has cocky, confident swagger to spare. But beneath that swagger is an intelligent, caring, ambitious guy who’s dealing with a lot—both personally and professionally. And what better way to get to know a guy than by taking a peek at what’s in his bedroom—or, in this case, what’s not. So here are ten things you’ll never find in Kyle’s bedroom…
Lots of hipster hair/body products. Kyle’s pretty low-maintenance.
Anything related to work. Leave it at the office—whether that’s the actual office or the home office. Gotta have a sacred space where the cases can’t intrude or the job will kill you.
A varied wardrobe. Pretty much the same kind/color of suit, shirt, and tie every day. It’s an FBI thing.
Work out equipment. He stays in shape running and going to the gym to workout. If he relied on working out at home it’d be too easy to just sit on his ass after a long day on the job.
Books. Kyle loves to read, but his favorite place to do so is stretched out on the couch with Abby snuggled up beside him.
Decorative anything. A bedroom is for sleeping—or not, depending on who’s with you.
Television. See #6.
Food of any kind. Unless it’s being licked from Abby’s skin. Then all bets are off.
Clothes on the floor—unless they were tossed there in his haste to get naked with Abby…
Sexual enhancement products. Kyle doesn’t need any help pleasing his woman. He’s got this.
Title: Stop at Nothing
Author: Kate SeRine
Series: Protect & Serve, #1
Pubdate: November 3rd, 2015
When a high-profile investigation goes wrong, FBI Agent Kyle Dawson is transferred back home where he is forced to confront his demons…and the only woman he ever loved. Three years ago, Kyle and Abby Morrow shared a wild, passionate summer—then Abby broke his heart.
Now she needs his help
Kyle never stopped loving Abby. So when Abby uncovers evidence of a human-trafficking ring, leading to her sister’s kidnapping, he swears he’ll stop at nothing to bring her sister home and keep Abby safe. Caught in a lethal game of cat and mouse and blindsided by their own explosive desires, they must set aside the past before it’s too late.
Kate SeRine writes award-winning romantic suspense and paranormal romance. A past recipient of an Emily Award and the National Readers Choice Award, she has also been a finalist in the Fire and Ice Contest, Finally a Bride Contest, and the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence. She lives with her husband and two sons outside Indianapolis, Indiana. Connect with Kate at www.kateserine.com.
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How to Love by Katie Cotugno. Balzer & Bray. 2013. Review copy from publisher.
The Plot: Three years ago, Sawyer LeGrande ran away, leaving behind family and friends. Leaving Serena Montero, his girlfriend.
His pregnant girlfriend.
Reena has put the pieces of her life back together, including making peace with her disapproving father. Instead of her dreams of college, she's raising a two year old, going to the local college, working. She has a new boyfriend, she has good friends.
And Sawyer comes back to town.
The Good: A romance with a lot of appeal.
The story flips back and forth between Sawyer and Reena's intense, high school love three years ago and the present reality of betrayal, hurt, and attraction. So the reader gets two stories, one of first love and one of second chances.
I liked Reena because, well, she was in a tough place and she did what she had to do. When she got pregnant, and decided to have and keep the baby, she reorganized and adjusted her dreams. Though I kept thinking, if she had had more support from the families, if there was less judging and more compassion -- but there wasn't. And she's at a good place when Sawyer returns.
Sawyer, who by leaving town managed to escape the consequences Reena had to face and had to live with, is back. As I said, this is also a second chances love story, with Sawyer and Reena working through their feelings and family complications, as well as learning about who each other is now, not who they were. Not who they remember them as.
With the ages of the main characters, and the two stories at two time periods, this has appeal for both teen readers and New Adult readers.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
Lynnette Austin dropped by the virtual offices this morning to celebrate the release of The Best Laid Wedding Plans. Please give her a warm welcome!
Top 5 Things You Will Never Find in Jenni Beth’s Purse
The Best Laid Wedding Plans is the first in my new series, Magnolia Brides! I’m so excited to be here with you today talking about it and Jenni Beth Beaumont. Her story is about a person finding her way through difficulties and coming out stronger for them. She’s been working as an event planner at Chateau Rouge in Savannah, but things at home in Misty Bottoms are going from bad to worse.
Her parents are struggling with the loss of their son, Magnolia House, her family’s antebellum home, is crumbling, and Misty Bottoms, Georgia, like so many small Southern towns, is dying. She decides to turn her family home into a wedding destination, hoping to help her parents, save Magnolia House, and bring new jobs to the area in one fell swoop.
Jenni Beth and Cole Bryson have a history—and it’s not pretty! Right now, their future isn’t looking very promising, either. She wants to restore Magnolia House while he, an architectural salvager, wants to deconstruct it and sell it off in pieces. A storm is brewing!
Jenni Beth is very dedicated and assumes responsibility for both her family and the entire town of Misty Bottoms. But she loves to have fun, too. She doesn’t love lightly and is very loyal to her friends.
What a woman carries in her purse says a lot about her. But what about what she doesn’t carry in her Gucci bag? I think that speaks volumes, too! So what wouldn’t Jenni Beth ever have in her purse? Hmmm…
1. An expired driver’s license. Jenni Beth is a rule follower. Period.
2. A notebook without a huge list of to-dos. This woman is seriously busy and seriously organized. She’s a little like Santa. She makes a list and checks it twice! So you can be sure that notebook in her purse contains list after list.
3. Nail polish. Between scraping peeling paint from the house and fixing up the rose garden, her nails would just end up chipped. She has too much to do to waste her time with polish—until she has an appointment with clients! At that point, she’ll probably run into town for a quick fix at Frenchie’s Salon.
4. A bunch of crumpled old receipts. I’ll admit you’ll find exactly that in my purse. I am totally disorganized when it comes to things like this. But Jenni Beth? No way. Those receipts will remain uncrumpled as they’re carried home where they will be filed for future reference. Oh, there are days I wish I was more like Jenni Beth!
5. Loose change. Any change she has goes immediately into her bank when she gets home. With the renovation of Magnolia House, every little bit counts. One year for Christmas, her grandmother gave her the bank and a roll of pennies, along with the advice, “If you watch the pennies, the dollars take care of themselves.” She’s always carried those words with her. Now, more than ever, she needs to be frugal.
I’ve enjoyed every minute I’ve spent with Jenni Beth and Cole and their friends. We’d love to have you come visit us in Misty Bottoms, Georgia. We’re a small town, but we have a lot of heart!
See you there!
The Best Laid Wedding Plans by Lynnette Austin
First in the new Magnolia Brides series
Release Date: November 3, 2015
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
SOME DREAMS ARE WORTH WHATEVER IT TAKES
Jenni Beth Beaumont left her broken heart behind when she took her dream job in Savannah. But after her brother’s death, Jenni Beth returns home to help mend her parents’ hearts as well as restore their beautiful but crumbling antebellum mansion. New dreams take shape as Jenni Beth sets to work replacing floors and fixing pipes to convert the family homestead into the perfect wedding destination. However, some folks in their small Southern town are determined to see her fail.
Cole Bryson was once the love of Jenni Beth’s life, but the charming architectural salvager has plans of his own for the Beaumont family home. As the two butt heads, old turmoil is brought to the surface and Cole and Jenni Beth will have to work through some painful memories and tough realities before they can set their pasts aside and have a second chance at their own happily ever after.
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The luxury of staying home when the weather turns nasty, of working in PJs and bare feet, and the fact that daydreaming is not only permissible but encouraged, are a few of the reasons middle school teacher Lynnette Austin gave up the classroom to write full-time. Lynnette grew up in Pennsylvania’s Alleghany Mountains, moved to Upstate New York, then to the Rockies in Wyoming. Presently she and her husband divide their time between Southwest Florida’s beaches and Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. A finalist in RWA’s Golden Heart Contest, PASIC’s Book of Your Heart Contest, and Georgia Romance Writers’ Maggie Contest, she’s published five books as Lynnette Hallberg. She’s currently writing as Lynnette Austin. Having grown up in a small town, that’s where her heart takes her—to those quirky small towns where everybody knows everybody…and all their business, for better or worse.
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Blog: HOMESPUN LIGHT
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, Ella Enchanted
, fairy tale
, Gail Carson Levine
, young women
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Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine is a creative retelling of Cinderella. As a baby, Ella was cursed by a fairy to obey any orders that were given to her, no matter what they were.
So when her mother dies and her father remarries, Ella must live with her stepsisters, Hattie and Olive. Quickly, Hattie discovers that Ella will obey her and uses that knowledge to her advantage. Instead of being treated as an equal, Ella is forced to be her stepfamily's servant.
Ella meets Prince Char. Together, they have exciting adventures. Slowly, they fall in love, but she knows that if she marries him, an enemy of the throne could command her to do something awful to him. She struggles to protect him and break the curse, but it seems impossible with such a burden as hers. Will she ever gain the freedom required to be with her true love?
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New Indulgence titles from Entangled hit shelves this week, including one of my favorite authors, Victoria James. Check them out!<?P>
Stay warm as the weather turns cool with four hot new Indulgence novels from your favorite authors!
Beauty and the Boss by Diane Alberts
Researcher Maggie Donovan has no luck with men, and it doesn’t help that she can’t keep her eyes off of her sexy boss – the one everyone else in the office calls The Beast. Relationships in the office are forbidden. So no one is more surprised than Maggie when she pretends to be his fiancée to save him during a difficult situation. Not only has she put her job on the line, but the future of the company.
Billionaire Benjamin Gale III doesn’t believe in love or romance, but the look on his mother’s face when Maggie tells her that she’s his fiancée is worth millions. Instead of firing her for her insubordination, he goes along with the ruse. In his arms–and in his bed–she’d be everything he could ever want…which is why he can’t have her.
But if he doesn’t let her go, they’ll lose everything…
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Blurring the Lines by Marisa Cleveland
Real estate development CEO Blake Whitman is an Aquarius with a philanthropic nature, but when it comes to work, he’s driven and focused, and he would never, ever mix business with pleasure. As far as he’s concerned, office romance is off the table.
He also never backs down from a challenge, and Kira Layton just accused him of ruining the community. What better way to get her on his side than to hire her?
But the more he tells himself to keep his hands off his new, sexy secretary, the harder it is for him to come up with reasons why office romances never work and why it’s a bad idea to cross the line…
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The Billionaire’s Christmas Proposal by Victoria James
She’s everything he wants for Christmas…
Social worker Allison Barrington’s home went up in smoke, literally, a month before Christmas. Now the guardian of her teenage sister and a crazy pup, she shows up on the doorstep of the only man in the city she can trust. Resisting Ethan Dane had never been easy, but luckily, Allie isn’t into cutthroat playboy businessmen. And Ethan is as driven as they come.
Ethan Dane has wanted Allie since the moment he laid eyes on her at their best friends’ wedding. Having her in his home is the perfect chance to prove to her that their chemistry can’t be denied, but when he finds out that the biggest business coup of his career means destroying the youth center where Allie works, Ethan is forced to decide what kind of man he wants to be…
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The Greek’s Stowaway Bride by Alexia Adams
Egyptian heiress Rania Ghalli is desperate to free her political prisoner uncle before it’s too late. Hoping to make it to North Africa, she stows away on the yacht of Greek millionaire Demetri Christodoulou. But when Egyptian agents board the boat, she can either jump overboard…or claim she’s Demetri’s new bride.
Tired of being no more than the bastard disgrace to the Christodoulou name, Demetri intends to build a luxury resort below his grandfather’s house so the old man has no choice but to acknowledge that Demetri has made something of himself. But first, he needs a wife to complete the land purchase.
With Rania now at his mercy, a plan comes together. He’ll play along, protecting her and helping to free her uncle, but in exchange, he demands a real marriage. But keeping the vivacious heiress out of his heart will be a lot harder than keeping her on his ship…
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Plus, you can grab this reissued novella just in time for the holidays!Secret Santa Baby by Robin Covington
Tessa Stoneman hasn’t been able to get long-time friend and business partner Nicholas Boone out of her head since they shared a single kiss in college. Even when she dated Nicholas’s best friend. Now that she’s giving up her position at GameNerdz to strike out on her own—and now that she’s single—maybe it’s the right time to see if there’s still something between them.
Nicholas knows once Tessa leaves the company she helped found, they might drift apart. Before she starts her own company in the new year, he wants to woo the woman he fell in love with during college. So he poses as her Secret Santa, gifts her with items from the song “Santa Baby,” and plans a big reveal at the company holiday party. But when his best friend wants to rekindle his romance with Tessa, will Nicholas lose his last chance?