Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on November 4, 2017

Seashells, Spells & Caramels by Erin Johnson
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Self Published
Release Date – October 29, 2017
286 Pages

Synopsis

Imogen’s spent her twenties in Seattle, saving every penny and missing every party, to follow her dream of opening her own bakery.

When that dream goes up in flames, she accepts a spot in a mysterious baking contest—one she doesn’t remember entering. She travels to a bustling, medieval village off the coast of France and discovers an enchanting world of magic and mystery, and learns that she, too, possesses powers.

Unable to so much as cast a spell, Imogen struggles to keep up with the other witches and wizards who have come from all over the magical world to the Water Kingdom’s big competition. She juggles relationships with a sweet new friend, a snarky baking fire, and a brooding, handsome baker. As Imogen falls for this bewitching world, she fears she won’t master her magic in time to win the job of Royal Head Baker, and will be forced to return to the shambles of her non magical life.

It only gets worse, when a competitor drops dead in the middle of the big white baking tent, and Imogen’s the prime suspect. Now, she’ll not only have to survive the vampire and psychic judges, but also clear her name by finding the real murderer, before they strike again.

With a killer on the loose, a missing prince, and the Summer Solstice Festival fast approaching, Imogen will have to bake like her life depends on it- because it just might.

Review

I really enjoyed this first book in a new series. It is whimsical and intriguing at the same time. Plus it didn’t hurt that it was a easy and fast read. I didn’t want to put it down at night!

I can’t imagine going through life being adopted but not feeling really connected to anyone. That is the position Imogen is in…and then she meets some interesting people that convince her to enter a baking contest. Doesn’t matter that she has never heard of the country, she creates a delectable dessert and manages to win a spot. Of course it is one issue after another before she actually reaches where she needs to be for the contest. I don’t want to spoil anything so am not sharing too many details there. In a way it is like Imogen’s life is a mess but this could be a fresh start.

Imogen is definitely going through a discovery place in her life and ending up at the Water Kingdom is just a small part of it. There are mythical creatures and people that add character, so if you like paranormal you will probably enjoy this book. Imogen learns a lot about herself but not too much…I am hoping that perhaps her parents are from this Kingdom/world and she will find out more in upcoming books.

We give it 5 paws up!

Recipe

Erin was kind enough to share one of the recipes from the book with me to share with you!  These look delicious and I need to try them soon.

About the Author

A native of Tempe, Arizona, Erin spends her time crafting mysterious, magical, romance-filled stories that’ll hopefully make you laugh.

In between, she’s traveling, napping with her dogs, eating with her friends and family, and teaching Pilates (to allow her to eat more).

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Check out the other blogs on this tour

October 29 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

October 29 – A Chick Who Reads – REVIEW

October 29 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf – INTERVIEW

October 30 – Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – Brooke Blogs – REVIEW

October 31 – Readsalot – RECIPE, SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

October 31 – Books a Plenty Book Reviews – REVIEW

November 1 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 1 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

November 1 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

November 1 – Celebrating Authors – SPOTLIGHT

November 2 –  The Montana Bookaholic – REVIEW

November 2 –  Varietats – REVIEW

November 2 –  Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

November 3 – Sapphyria’s Books – REVIEW

November 3 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – RECIPE

November 3 – Socrates’ Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW, RECIPE

November 4 – A Holland Reads – RECIPE, SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Southern, Texas, Trailer on November 3, 2017

A GOOD GIRL

by

JOHNNIE BERNHARD

  Genre: Southern Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Review Press

Website    Facebook

Date of Publication: March 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 288

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A Bible’s family tree and an embroidered handkerchief hold the key to understanding the past as six generation Texan, Gracey Reiter, prepares to say goodbye to her dying father, the last surviving member of the Walsh-Mueller family. The present holds the answer and the last opportunity for Gracey to understand her father’s anger, her mother’s guilt, and her siblings’ version of the truth.

The Walsh-Mueller family begins in Texas when Patricia Walsh leaves the famine of nineteenth century Ireland, losing her parents and siblings along the way.  She finds a home, love, and security with Emil Mueller in a German settlement near Indianola on the Texas Gulf Coast.  They begin their lives on a small cotton farm, raising six sons. From the coastal plains of Texas, five generations survive hurricanes, wars, The Great Depression, and life, itself.

An all-encompassing novel that penetrates the core being of all who read it, A Good Girl pulls back the skin to reveal the raw actualities of life, love and relationships.  It is the ageless story of family.

Sales benefit Port Lavaca, Texas! Much of the setting of A Good Girl, a six generation Texas saga, is set in Port Lavaca, Calhoun County. During the Lone Star Book Blog Tour, all author’s royalties will be donated to the Calhoun County Museum of Port Lavaca in its recovery effort after Hurricane Harvey. Texas Proud! Port Lavaca Strong!

 

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Texas A&M University Press

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Praise for A Good Girl

*2017 Kindle Book Award Finalist*

*Over 50 5 Star Reviews*

One of 2017’s best will surely be A Good Girl by author Johnnie Bernhard, who as much as any writer since Flannery O’Connor and Walker Percy, offers a breathtaking tour of the human heart in conflict with itself, desperately searching for grace and redemption in the face of unremitting loss.  Bernhard’s sentences are filled with the stuff of what blues and country music singers refer to as “soul” and “high lonesome.” –Jim Fraiser, The Sun Herald Newspaper

Relatable and real, A Good Girl speaks to the heart of what it means to be human and that generations come and go, but love binds us together. –Kathleen M. Rodgers, author of The Final SaluteJohnnie Come Lately, & Seven Wings to Glory

A Good Girl is a raw, real, and relatable gift to the soul on every level. Ms. Bernhard’s writing is so descriptive, reading this book is truly a visceral experience. One cannot help but reflect on their own family legacy and life journey. Prepare to be riveted by this heartbreaking, yet healing story about family, self-discovery and learning how to love. –Eva Steortz, SVP, Brand Development, 20th Century Fox

A beautiful debut novel across oceans and time, with a clear, objective yet poignant Southern voice. A timeless voice much like Doctorow’s RagtimeA Good Girl is a true Southern American story. A story of one family spanning generations, dealing with love and loss, despair, and redemption, that leaves its readers with a timeless lesson. -Kathryn Brown Ramsperger, Author of The Shores of Our Souls and Moments on the Edge. 

I have found Johnnie Bernhard’s book to touch a powerful chord in my heart.  Masterfully written with deep insight into the journey of family and forgiveness, I’m a better person for having read this book. -Cynthia Garrett,  The London Sessions & The Mini Sessions (airing regularly on TBN Network),  Author of The Prodigal Daughter

 

Gracey opened the door to room 605, and the first person she saw was sixty-eight-year-old Irma Novosad. Sitting directly in front of Henry, clad in a pant suit with large pockets in front, Irma had arranged her body as a brace to keep Henry from slipping out of a green vinyl chair. Her pockets were bulging with used Kleenexes, a jewel-tone cigarette purse, peppermints, and tooth picks. On her head was a blue sun visor with a yellow rose embroidered above the words, “Yellow Rose of Texas.” In the eight years Gracey had known her, she had never seen Irma without a sun visor, rain or shine, summer or winter; it was a permanent part of her wardrobe.

Johnnie Bernhard, a former AP English teacher and journalist, is passionate about reading and writing. Her works have appeared in the following publications: University of Michigan Graduate Studies PublicationsHeart of Ann Arbor MagazineHouston Style MagazineWorld Oil MagazineThe Suburban Reporter of HoustonThe Mississippi PressUniversity of South Florida Area Health Education Magazine, the international Word Among UsSouthern Writers Magazine, Gulf Coast Writers Association Anthologies, The Texas Review, and the Cowbird-NPR production on small town America. Her entry, “The Last Mayberry,” received over 7,500 views, nationally and internationally.

A Good Girl received top ten finalist recognition in the 2015 William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, as well as featured novel for panel discussion at the 2017 Mississippi and Louisiana Book Festivals.  It is a finalist in the 2017 national Kindle Book Award for literary fiction and a nominee for the 2018 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize.

Her second novel, How We Came to Be, is set for publication in spring 2018. It is a finalist in the 2017 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition.

Johnnie is the owner of Bernhard Editorial Services, LLC, where she writes book reviews for Southern Literary Review, as well as assists writers in honing their craft.  Johnnie and her husband reside in a nineteenth century cottage surrounded by ancient oak trees and a salt water marsh near the Mississippi Sound. They share that delightful space with their dog, Lily, and cat, Poncho.

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Johnnie will be on the road with A Good Girl at the following locations:

October 26         Southern Bound Book Store, Biloxi, MS, 5 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

October 27-28     Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge, LA, state capitol

November 4      Peter Anderson Festival, Ocean Springs, MS, Poppy’s on Porter, Washington Avenue

November 13     Live on KSHU Radio 1430 AM, Houston, Texas, 8 a.m.

November 16     Calhoun County Historical Museum, Port Lavaca, Texas, 5 p.m.

November 18    River Oaks Book Store, Houston, Texas, 3 – 5 p.m.

December 6 – 8    Words & Music Literary Feast, New Orleans, LA

December 10        Barnes & Noble, New Orleans, noon – 2 p.m.

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October 26-November 4, 2017

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26-Oct Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
27-Oct Review Texan Girl Reads
28-Oct Author Interview Reading by Moonlight
29-Oct Guest Post Tangled in Text
30-Oct Review Missus Gonzo
31-Oct Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
1-Nov Review Syd Savvy
2-Nov Scrapbook Page Forgotten Winds
3-Nov Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
4-Nov Review The Librarian Talks

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Science Fiction on November 3, 2017

Title: Perfect Gravity

Author: Vivien Jackson

Series: Wanted and Wired, #2

ISBN: 9781492648192

Pub Date: November 7, 2017

Synopsis

Second in a snarky, sexy sci-fi romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heart, and heat.

Kellen Hockley usually keeps quiet about his past, but once upon a time he loved a girl named Angela. He hasn’t seen her in a decade, but now he has to break the news to her that his team of rogue treasure hunters accidentally killed her husband. He’s had better days…

It’s not the news that’s delivered to Angela Neko that breaks her apart—it’s the rumbly, Texas drawl delivering it. She can’t believe she’s hearing Kellen’s voice again. But there’s no time for distractions. When Angela’s own life is threatened, yielding up all of her lies and secrets, she and Kellen must figure out how to reverse the geopolitical firestorm she lit to save the world, to save Kellen’s cat…and just maybe to save each other.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | IndieBound

Excerpt

He took her down to the skywalk, second-guessing himself the whole dadblamed time. Nothing was tidy about having Angela here in the Pentarc. Angela who now knew Chloe existed and could definitely do something about that if she chose to. Angela whose mech-clone assistant scared the crud out of her, probably for a very good reason, which he was going to get to the bottom of sooner rather than later.

Angela who he wanted very much to take back to her room, as she’d suggested. He happened to know that unit contained a giant bed and locks to keep the whole rest of the world out.

It wasn’t like showing her his global mechanized critter network was going to unhook any of those complications. Was more likely to knot them up further. But he had said he’d help her get the information she wanted. Well, this was his best way of fulfilling that swear.

She chatted as she walked. About the scenery, about the on-again, off-again drought that plagued this area, about some of her buddies from school who she insisted had also been his. They hadn’t. Nobody in the entire hoity, posh academy had welcomed the hick kid from Texas who didn’t even know what a quinoa was. Nobody but her.

He knew she nattered on because it brought her comfort, probably because there were other things on her mind, and he knew he ought to halt her ramble, make her welcome, settle her. But damn, he’d missed her voice. Not the public voice but the one she’d saved for him, laden with expletives drifting downward from contralto.

The concrete subfloor on the transition from the skywalk to the North tower got a little rough from time to time. Nobody had ever finished out this tower, and it was skeletal in most places, dusted with sand and weather-roughed. The view was downright gothic when you approached it like this, in the middle of the air with nothing but twilit desert all around.

When Angela stubbed her slipper on a patch of uneven floor, Kellen caught her elbow without even thinking. “Watch your step here.”

She paused, looked up at him. An expression fluttered over her face, but he couldn’t lock it down. Fear? Exhaustion? “Where exactly are you taking me?”

“Right here. North Tower.” Actually not far at all. His furry feline general liked this floor best, with its combination of not a lot of people and that permaglass skywalk. She was something of a sun worshipper.

Angela’s fine eyes narrowed. “For what purpose?”

“To show you where I get all my information and why the firewall doesn’t matter.”

She searched his face for a long time, then looked away and shook her head. “I’m sorry. It’s so hard to trust. I just saw all those empty rooms, most with no windows and long drop-offs into nothing…”

Oh. Well, that stung. She thought he was bringing her here, to an abandoned, witness-free area, to do her harm. Jesus. That was not him. Not even a little bit. How come she didn’t know him better than that?

His first reaction was anger, raising spikes, tightened belly, ready to tussle. Defensive reaction. Visceral. He took two deep breaths, forced himself to continue to the second reaction. Which was a deep soul-pulling wish she would trust him, completely and inherently, as maybe one time she had. Now she did not. That was the naked fact.

When his logic brain kicked in, he admitted anybody who survived an assassination attempt had better be cautious to the point of paranoia. What did she really know about him? That he associated with outlaws and murderers. That he still nursed a grudge.

And lord, what he was about to show her wasn’t going to make him look any better. If anything, it would bolster her image of him as a loose cannon, dangerous and walking the teetery edge of bioethics.

“Listen, princess,” he said, sliding his hand up from her elbow, along satin skin, “you don’t have any specific call to trust me. It’s been a long time since we…well, since you knew my mind. And lord knows we’ve both changed plenty. You probably look at me and don’t even know who I am, what I’ve become. I can’t ease your worry on that score, but I can promise you one thing: I will never hurt you. And if folk around me ever try, I will end them.”

Her mouth opened, but she didn’t speak.

About the Author

VIVIEN JACKSON is still waiting for her Hogwarts letter. In the meantime, she writes, mostly fantastical or futuristic or kissing-related stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s performing a sacred duty nurturing the next generation of Whovian Browncoat Sindarin Jedi gamers, and their little dogs too. With her similarly geeky partner, she lives in Austin, Texas, and watches a lot of football.

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, paranormal, Spotlight on November 2, 2017

DEATH IN D MINOR

by

ALEXIA GORDON

  Genre: Paranormal Mystery / African American Sleuth

Publisher: Henery Press

Date of Publication: July 11, 2017

Number of Pages: 236

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Gethsemane Brown, African-American musician and expatriate to an Irish village, solved a string of murders and got used to living with a snarky ghost. She can rest easy now. Right? Wrong. The ghost has disappeared, her landlord’s about to sell to a developer, and her brother-in-law’s come to visit. She scrambles to call her spectral roomie back from beyond and find a way to save the cottage from destruction. But real estate takes a backseat when her brother-in-law is accused of stealing a valuable antique. Gethsemane strikes a deal with an investigator to go undercover at a charity ball and snoop for evidence of a forgery/theft ring in exchange for the woman’s help clearing him. At the party, she accidentally conjures the ghost of an eighteenth-century sea captain, then ends up the prime suspect in the party host’s murder. She races to untangle a web of phony art and stolen antiques to exonerate herself, then the killer targets her. Will she bring a murderer to justice, or will her encore investigation become her swan song?

 

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PRAISE FOR DEATH IN D MINOR

Gethsemane Brown is everything an amateur sleuth should be: smart, sassy, talented, and witty even when her back is against the wall. In her latest adventure, she’s surrounded by a delightful cast, some of whom readers will remember from Gordon’s award-winning debut and all of whom they won’t forget. Gordon writes characters we want resurrected. – Cate Holahan, author of The Widower’s Wife and Lies She Told

Erstwhile ghost conjurer and gifted concert violinist Gethsemane Brown returns in this thoroughly enjoyable follow-up to last year’s Murder in G Major. Facing eviction from the historic seaside cottage she calls home, Gethsemane must clear her brother-in-law’s name – as well as her own – when a priceless artifact goes missing and the wealthy dowager to whom it belonged is “helped” over a high balcony railing.  With the help of a spectral sea captain she accidentally summoned, Gethsemane tries to unravel the mystery as the murderer places her squarely in the crosshairs. – Daniel J. Hale, Agatha Award-winning author

A writer since childhood, I put literary endeavors on hold to finish medical school and Family Medicine residency training. Medical career established, I returned to writing fiction. I completed SMU’s Writer’s Path program in Dallas, Texas. Henery Press published my first novel, Murder in G Major, book one of the Gethsemane Brown mysteries, in September 2016. Book two, Death in D Minor, releases July 11, 2017.

Murder in G Major won the Lefty Award for Best Debut Novel, was nominated for an Agatha Award for Best New Novel, and was selected one of Suspense Magazine’s Best Debuts. I listen to classical music, drink whiskey, and blog at www.missdemeanors.com, voted one of Writers’ Digest magazine’s 101 best websites for writers, and featured on Femmes Fatales.

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GRAND PRIZESigned Copy of Death in D Minor + Whisky Field Guide, Sea Salt & Bay Rum soy candle, Notepad, $20 Starbucks Gift Card

2ND PRIZE: Signed Copy of Death in D Minor, Ceramic Skull Coffee Mug, $20 Amazon Gift Card

 

October 25-November 3, 2017

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25-Oct Review Hall Ways Blog
25-Oct Notable Quotable Texan Girl Reads
26-Oct Top 5 List Books and Broomsticks
27-Oct Review Momma On The Rocks
27-Oct Playlist 1 Texas Book Lover
28-Oct Review Chapter Break Book Blog
29-Oct Excerpt A Page Before Bedtime
30-Oct Author Interview The Librarian Talks
30-Oct Review Forgotten Winds
31-Oct Playlist 2 Syd Savvy
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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, Guest Post, mystery on November 2, 2017

The Tarkington Treasure (The Charlotte Ross Mysteries)
Cozy Mystery
4th in Series
Self Published
Paperback: 338 pages

Synopsis

“In the world of logic, it’s always our assumptions that lead us astray.”

A spooky old house, rumors of a hidden Civil War treasure, a neighbor’s murder, and an ex-fiancé falling unconscious at her feet—Charlotte Ross has her hands full when she’s invited to stay at her friend, Jane Marshall’s home while her apartment is being renovated.

Jane and her new fiancé have sold everything to move to the large estate she’d just inherited near the small town in Illinois, where she grew up. She’s always loved the house, but the cost of living in, and fixing up, a deteriorating old mansion is more than both their incomes combined. If she can’t come up with the money for the next property tax payment, she’ll be forced to give it up.

Charlotte is intent on winning back her ex, but her efforts are stymied when he’s suspected of murder.

The two couples soon discover the rambling old house holds more than one secret when they join forces to find the real killer—and the elusive, Tarkington treasure.

Guest Post

Today we welcome Evelyn and she gives us her thoughts on if it is possible to get away with murder.  

How Do You Get Away With Murder?

I have to confess, as a mystery author I have no idea. When I write a mystery, I always have the solution in mind before I begin, and then I write the story around it, so that my villains never get away with murder. If they did, it wouldn’t be a very good end to the story… or would it? Characters in a novel sometimes do. In Agatha Christie’s, And Then There Were None, the murderer does get away.

As a former member of the Agatha Christie Society, I’ve dissected many of her novels. It was interesting to see how she thought about murderers. According to her, most murderers are thoroughly nice people. Just ordinary folks like you or me. Very often it turns out these nice, ordinary people were in a tight place, or they wanted something very badly and had to kill to get it because there seemed to be no other way.

What about hatred as a motive for murder, you might ask? She says: Highly unlikely. You wouldn’t go around murdering people just because you disliked them. You might feel like it, but you wouldn’t actually go through with the evil deed.

Would a jealous hatred be different? Yes: That arises out of passion and frustration. People more often kill those they love than those they hate. Possibly because only the people you love can make your life truly unbearable.

And then there are times when murder turns out to be purely accidental.

I’m sure you’ve read mysteries containing one of these motives for murder: people caught in a tight place, a jealous hatred, or a murder that was accidental. Each of my mysteries has at least one of these motives. The Tarkington Treasure, has two of them, but I’m not going to tell you which two they are. You’ll have to find that out for yourself.

About the Author

Evelyn Cullet has been an author since high school when she wrote short stories. She began her first novel while attending college later in life and while working in the offices of a major soft drink company. Now, with early retirement, she can finally write full time. As a life-long mystery buff, she was a former member of the Agatha Christie Society, and is a current member of the National Chapter of Sisters In Crime. She writes cozy mysteries with warm romance and a little humor. When she’s not writing mysteries, reading them or reviewing them, she hosts other authors and their work on her writer’s blog.  She also plays the piano, is an amateur lapidary, and an organic gardener.

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October 30 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

October 30 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

October 31 – Books,Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT

November 1 – Connie’s History Classroom – REVIEW

November 2 –  StoreyBook Reviews – GUEST POST

November 3 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 4 – Laura’s Interests – GUEST POST

November 5 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

November 6 – Varietats – REVIEW

November 7 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW

November 8 – A Holland Reads – GUEST POST

Posted in christmas, excerpt, Giveaway, romance on November 1, 2017

Title: A Very Cowboy Christmas

Author: Kim Redford

Series: Smokin’ Hot Cowboys, #3

Pub Date: October 3, 2017

Synopsis

Third in a spicy contemporary cowboy series from acclaimed author Kim Redford. Sydney Steele needs to wrangle cowboy firefighters to model for her charity Christmas calendar, and Dune Barrett—who she has in mind for Mr. December—is just the man for the job.

There’s nothing like a firefighting cowboy to keep you toasty warm this Christmas…

Christmas is coming up, and single mom Sydney Steele is determined to make this a holiday to remember for Wildcat Bluff County. She still has to get those pesky, reluctant—and deliciously attractive—firefighting cowboys to pose for her charity calendar. They claim they’re too busy pursuing an unknown arsonist to take a break.

Dune Barrett has been flirting with Sydney for months, so he jumps at the chance to give her a hand. And when he agrees to pose as Mr. December, she couldn’t be happier. But to really win her over, Dune will have to convince eleven other guys from his crew to exploit their good looks for charity…a task much easier said than done.

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A note from Kim Redford

As a holiday tradition, imagine a big, roaring bonfire with red and orange flames leaping upward along with spirals of pale smoke. I’ll be in my chair beside the fire, along with family and friends, in an open meadow surrounded by the sight and scent of evergreen trees. Bright stars twinkle in the canopy of dark sky above us. Dogs and cats lounge here and there. Guitar and flute and voice serenade us with favorite Christmas carols and old-time country songs that stir fond memories of our close community of loved ones, as well as those who are no longer with us or who are too far away to be there. We drink hot apple cider, roast marshmallows, cook hotdogs, and make s’mores as we sing and visit while making plans for another wonderful year.

And just so you know, there’s always room for one more at our bonfire.

Excerpt

Sydney felt the heat of Dune’s gaze and glanced up at him. He’d moved closer. She inched toward Celeste, her 1959 pink Cadillac, but if she backed up any farther, she’d be impaled on the tinsel-wrapped longhorns. Drat that gleam in his blue eyes. He had it whenever he was around her, and it had a tendency to strike sparks in her.

“You want me to look under the hood?” He leaned forward with a little quirk of his sensual lips.

So kissable. She squashed that thought and immediately was swamped with another one that had him looking under her skirt instead of the hood. What was wrong with her? She definitely did not want him looking anywhere but at her convertible. She had to get her mind back on business.

“Are you in a hurry?”

“Yes!” She was in a hurry to get away from him, or she’d be wearing tank tops instead of sweaters this Christmas.

“You want to step away from Celeste?”

How could she when he was right in front of her? If she made a single move, she’d be right up against his body. If she could’ve, she would’ve looked into the distance to try to clear her mind of unacceptable thoughts, but she couldn’t see over his broad shoulders. He totally filled her world with his presence.

“Guess you’ve got a lot on your mind.”

She rolled her eyes. He didn’t know the half of it. She caught her lower lip with her upper teeth in frustration.

He reached out, tugged her lip free with the pad of his thumb, and gently rubbed back and forth as if to soothe a hurt. “No need to worry. I’m here to help you now.”

She felt chills run up her spine at his gentleness and concern. She didn’t mean to do it—and wouldn’t have been so bold if he hadn’t short-circuited her brain—but she flicked the tip of her tongue over the edge of his thumb and tasted the essence of him. All male.

“Now, why’d you go and do something I can’t resist?” He eased his thumb across her lower lip, down her jaw, and captured the back of her neck with his fingers to hold her head in place as he lowered his face toward her.

She knew a kiss was coming—right on the side of Wildcat Road in front of the whole county—and she knew she should say something or do something to stop him, but she wanted his kiss more than anything else she could imagine at that moment. It’d been so long since a man had held her or kissed her that she wasn’t sure she even knew how to respond anymore.

When his lips finally touched hers—just a gentle brush really, as if he was gauging her response—she felt swept up in a blazing wildfire.

And yet she sought to keep her wits about her. She should focus on business, not her own sudden need. She put her hands flat against his broad chest to push him back, but she quickly realized she couldn’t budge him because he was so much bigger and stronger. She felt a little shock. She was five ten—although she’d claimed to be six feet tall since her high school basketball days when height was critical—and sported enough muscle to work a ranch, but he made her feel almost petite.

She intended to push him away—absolutely, no doubt about it. Instead, she found her hands slowly sliding up his chest, making her hyperaware of the soft cotton of his shirt as his muscles hardened under her touch. All her senses came shockingly alive. She heard a mockingbird’s song, caught the tangy scent of cedar trees, and Dune’s taste still lingered on her tongue. He didn’t move a millimeter, as if he’d waited a lifetime for her to touch him.

When she reached his shoulders, he gave her another feather-light kiss that promised more than it gave. Not nearly enough, not now that her mind had given way to her body. She sighed against his soft lips and clasped his shoulders to pull him closer. He groaned—as if the ragged sound was torn from his gut—at her response to him. She returned his kiss, teasing his lips with the tip of her tongue until she tore another groan from him, and he plunged inside while he crushed her against him, holding her head in one hand and her waist in the other as if he’d never let her go.

She moaned as she thrust her fingers into his thick hair, shivering with heat as he plundered her mouth and made her weak in the knees. She quickly realized that she had an answer to her question. No, indeed, she hadn’t forgotten how to give or receive a kiss, particularly one of this magnitude.

Finally, when she was putty in his hands, he raised his head and looked at her with eyes the color of midnight. She simply blinked in response, unable to articulate a single word.

“If you let me into your life—even a little bit—I promise not to disappoint you.”

About the Author

KIM REDFORD is an acclaimed author of Western romance. She grew up in Texas with cowboys, cowgirls, horses, cattle, and rodeos. She divides her time between homes in Texas and Oklahoma, where she’s a rescue cat wrangler and horseback rider—when she takes a break from her keyboard.

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