Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Trailer on October 12, 2017

Game Changer by Charissa Stastny

Meridee Mansford wants nothing to do with the popular crowd. She’s comfortable being invisible. But that doesn’t stop her from dreaming about the hunky football player who visits the campus ice cream shop where she works. Still, she’s smart enough to know he’d never notice a girl like her, and she’d never want him even if he did. Too much unwelcome attention.

Parker Harrington basks in the glory that’s been his since the game-changing passes he caught that pushed his team into the national spotlight. Sticky Fingers is his media moniker now, and the cheerleaders who used to ignore him when he sat the bench have become his most devoted fans. But when he accidentally crashes into a quiet coed and covers her in orange chicken, it throws off his offensive game.

As fate, ice cream, and orange chicken throw the opposites together, will Parker continue keeping company with women he knows are only using him for his fame, or will he change up the game and risk his heart on a genuine girl who despises the attention he craves?

Praise for the Book

“A fun and flirty new adult romance. It’s a sweet indulgence that keeps you turning pages. The start to what is sure to be a great new series. – Jennifer Peel, author of Pianos and Promises series

“Opposites attract when the overlooked sweet girl lands herself the popular football star in this quasi-Cinderella story. It’s the perfect read to keep you up way past your bedtime…”Taylor Dean, author of Chasing Fireflies

 

 

Excerpt

Twiddling my fingers, I waited for Ken to make up his mind. I hoped he’d order without looking up so he didn’t recognize me. Not that he would. But just in case, I kept my chin tucked as I stared at the counter.

“Um, let’s see.” His head stayed bowed. “I’ll have a triple waffle cone with a scoop of caramel cashew and…” He paused and scratched his head as though solving a physics problem. “…a scoop of huckleberry ripple, and, umm…I guess I’ll try a scoop of that…”

When he paused, I peeked up to see if he pointed at a flavor. Instead, I found him staring at me.

“Y-you,” he sputtered.

I cringed and wished a hole could open up in the floor and swallow me.

“You’re the girl I crashed into in the CUB yesterday, aren’t you?”

My cheeks burned and my throat felt like sandpaper. “W-what was the last flavor you wanted?” He hadn’t finished ordering.

“Oh, uh, yeah. Um…” His gaze dropped, but shot right back up to stare at me again.

“What’s your last flavor?” I determined to keep him on task.

His brows furrowed. “I guess I’ll have the licorice since it’s new.”

I shuddered, and attempted to ignore the infuriatingly sexy man gaping at me as though I had horns sprouting from my head. The tightening in my chest and labored breathing proved I tried in vain.

 

 

About the Author

Charissa Stastny is an avid reader, happy writer, wasp-hater, iris-lover, and food connoisseur (especially sushi and chocolate, but not together). She was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada, but has never pulled a handle of a slot machine and can’t shuffle cards to save her life. She is married to her high school sweetheart and has four children that make her smile and laugh all the time. She called Idaho her home for years, but has recently moved to Utah, where she was thrilled to discover dozens of flavors of hot chocolate to keep her happy in the winter. The cherry one might be her favorite (this week). She is the author of five books and ‘imagine-eer’ of many more.

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amazon or paypal$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 11/5/17

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery, paranormal on October 10, 2017

 

Title: WICKEDLY EVER AFTER: HALLOWEEN HIJINKS
Author: Lotta Smith
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 213
Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery

Synopsis

As the new Mrs. Rowling, life is supposed to be easy for former FBI Special Assistant Amanda Meyer. Marriage to her drop dead gorgeous boss Rick is everything she dreamed of, unfortunately she can’t sleep, and she can’t even blame the ghost of his late stepmom Clara for popping up in the middle of the night with a tricky request.
Someone staged mechanic Fynn’s death to look like a suicide, and now his unhappy ghost is keeping Clara and her dead friends awake all night. Proving he was murdered will keep the newlyweds hopping, and the real trick will be staying alive in this hilariously wicked book in the Manhattan Mystery Series.

 

Excerpt

At exactly three o’clock in the morning, I was in bed, turning over for the umpteenth time. For some unknown reason, I couldn’t fall asleep. In fact, I didn’t have even a blink of sleep.

Okay, so I was pretending not to know the reason for my difficulty, but I could come up with possible reasons. For starters, I had a little too much espresso cake after dinner and a few more cups of strong green tea than the recommended amount at lunch. Also, in the past few hours alone, I had at least thirteen people visit me, asking about the whereabouts of their personal belongings and if I thought their spouses were cheating on them. All of them happened to be former residents of this upscale condo on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, where I called home. The last straw was Mrs. Williams, who kept demanding I return her hearing aid. I kept telling her that I wasn’t the evil woman who hid her belongings, and I shared my hunch that her family might have forgotten to put her hearing device with her; however, she didn’t seem to fathom what I was trying to say—perhaps because she didn’t have her hearing aid.

By the way, did I mention that all those people who visited me during these ungodly hours had been dead for years?

My name is Amanda Rowling, née Meyer, a part-time secretary for my husband and mostly a stay-at-home housewife, and people, including but not limited to my husband Rick, usually call me Mandy.

Anyway, I was trying my best to grab some sleep before dawn, not that I had to get up early and go to work in the morning, but Rick had been busy since joining USCAB—United States Cover All Bases, a security-based conglomerate owned and run by his dad—and I wanted to do my best to be his super-supportive partner. Cooking power breakfasts for him and myself had become my ritual since I moved in with him at this condo over a year ago, and I was determined to continue this ritual. Anyway, using knives and a hot oven in a sleep-deprived status wasn’t high on my to-do list. I tended to commit faux-pas in the kitchen, like scorching eggs and bacon to a crisp, whenever I was short of sleep.

Before marrying him, I used to work for the FBI’s New York City headquarters as a special assistant. At first, I was just an assistant with a mission to keep my then-boss Rick Rowling, the sexy, arrogant loose cannon who loved nothing more than trouble, from wreaking havoc and destroying NYC. However, a little after starting my FBI career, I developed a special skill of seeing dead people and communicating with them, and my tasks expanded to interviewing murder victims and dead witnesses.

When Rick, who was the head of Paranormal Cases Division and the only colleague I had, left the feds to join his family business, I followed his suit and resigned from the feds.

Even though Sheldon Hernandez, the head of the FBI’s New York City headquarters, offered me a lucrative consulting contract, I declined. At that time, leaving my life with the FBI, communicating with dead people and dodging frequent temper tantrums thrown at me by the deceased, and concentrating on being Mrs. Rowling seemed like a fabulous idea. But after the wedding and returning from our honeymoon, I wasn’t sure if I made the right decision. At that time, I presumed I’d stop encountering the spirits of dead; however, things didn’t go as I’d hoped. I was still having as many ghostly visitors as before.

And, recalling my past life as an FBI assistant, I was horrified to found myself sort of missing my days dealing with the murderers, crooks, and dead people. Okay, so having nothing to do with criminals should be the norm for most people, and when I left the feds, I couldn’t wait to spend my days without worrying about being assaulted by evil ghosts and bad humans, but…

About the Author

Lotta Smith is the author of Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery series. She fell in love with mystery the moment she developed consciousness. She is especially fond of lighthearted murder mystery stories with a little sprinkle of romance.

She went to medical school hoping to see real corpses and sexy professors. Back then, she was into this kind of mystery series about a smokin’ hot forensic medicine professor and a quirky female student going a-sleuthing, cracking unsolvable cases. Lotta truly, madly wanted to team up with a superhot professor and crack a difficult murder or two. (Note; she got to see the corpses, but sexy professors were nonexistent.)

Lotta loves to hear from her readers. Feel free to drop her a line at lottasmith_author@yahoo.com.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | Facebook

Giveaway

Lotta Smith is giving away a collection of six books:

Wickedly Ever After: Halloween Hijinks by Lotta Smith

Trick or Treason by Kathi Daley

A Witchmas Carol by Amanda M Lee

Dark, Witch & Creamy by H Y Hanna

Curse of the Day by Annabel Chase

Dead Man Talking by Jana DeLeon

 

Thank-you for your participation prize: Everyone receives a free ebook copy of:

Whoever Finds the Wicked: Rick Rowling’s Secret File (Paranormal in Manhattan Mystery Prequel) Whoever Finds the Wicked: Rick Rowling’s Secret File

Terms & Conditions:

  • By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
  • One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive the book collection.
  • This giveaway ends midnight October 13.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on October 16.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

ENTER TO WIN!

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Posted in Christian, excerpt, fiction, romance on October 4, 2017

Hello. I’m Excited. This is one of my stops during the one month tour for Sons of Ishmael Reintroduction Tour: The Danjuma Brothers. This virtual book tour is organized by Write Now Literary Book Tours. This tour runs September 11 – October 5, 2017.  Follow the tour here.

Genre: Christian Fiction/Romance

A SCOOP OF LOVE~ SONS OF ISHMAEL BOOK I

Synopsis

The oldest of the Danjuma brothers, Rasheed was a self-made man. He’d learned at an early age that love and commitment brought with it complications he didn’t want to deal with. His single-minded focus had paid off. He was able to step into the shoes of his absentee father by taking care of his mother and twin brothers. But just when he thought he could stop carrying the weight of his family on his shoulders, he gets a call that could change the trajectory of Rasheed’s life.

Ibiso Jaja, a professional caterer, had gambled on the love of a man and lost. Through the redeeming love of God, she had picked herself up and was now living her dream as the owner of Bisso Bites, a bistro in the heart of Abuja. However circumstances conspire to threaten the bistro and bring her face to face with the type of man she has vowed to avoid. The attraction is instant.

Once again, Rasheed is forced to do something he has done all his life – put the needs of his family ahead of his own. This time however, he crosses path with the sassy, independent, Jesus-loving caterer who is bent on making him see the power of forgiveness and God’s love. Just when Rasheed lets his guard down, a deadly sabotage causes old demons to rise. Will Rasheed continue to pursue power and success or surrender to the light of God’s love?

 

Excerpt

Rasheed Danjuma sighed aloud at the sight of another unwanted email from the law

offices of Ezekiel and Stanley. These lawyers were beginning to work his last nerve. He placed his finger over the touchpad of his laptop, directed the cursor to the delete icon and pressed it.It had been six months since Zayd Danjuma, the man that contributed to his genetic makeup had passed away. And his lawyers were still hounding him. Rasheed had thought his non-attendance of the funeral service was a clear indication of his disinterest in anything they had to say about his so-called father.

Determined not to let the email ruin his day, he picked up the receiver and dialed his

assistant’s extension. She picked up at the first ring.

“Yes, Rasheed?”

“Have you heard anything back from those clients in the United States?”

“No, I didn’t,” she said. “But while you were on your conference call, your mother

called.”

Rasheed felt a strange rise in his stomach. His mother almost never called him on his office phone unless she wanted to reach him in a hurry. “Did she leave a message?”

“No, she just said to let you know she called.”

“Okay, thank you.” He disconnected the call.

Rasheed walked over to his jacket and pulled out his cell phone. Looking out of the large window of his Hyde Park office, his sense of unease grew. He checked, and there were three missed called from his mother. His voice mail was empty. What was going on? He dialed his mother. She answered on the third ring.

“Mama, you tried to reach me. Is everything okay?”

“Nna, I really don’t know how to answer that.”

His mother used her term of endearment, Nna, for her sons when she wanted to ask for something she knew they didn’t want to give.“What is it?”

“Those lawyers from your father’s estate came to see me today,” she said. “Rasheed, I don’t want those men in my shop or house. I’m asking you again to come home and see what they want.”

Rasheed’s jaw set. How dare those lawyers hound his mother? Why was it so important that he and his brothers attend the stupid will reading? Even though it had been twenty-five years since their father had walked out of their lives, the memory of that morning was still vivid. Their father didn’t care about them in life, so why was he so concerned about their well-being in death? Squaring up against those lawyers himself was one thing, but when they involved his mother, it was totally different. He wouldn’t have it.

“You mean they came to your shop?” Rasheed asked as though he didn’t hear her the first time. Anger shot through his feet as he began to pace the length of his office.

“Yes.” His mother’s voice sounded shaky. “It’s one thing for them to call but to show up,I don’t appreciate it. They almost scared my customers away.”

After his mother had retired as a school administrator, she had decided she couldn’t sit idle. Her love of fashion led to the opening of a boutique in the heart of Abuja’s business district. Within months, the business had flourished. Rasheed had supported her because whatever made his mother happy made him happy, too. After many years of living in pain, she deserved to live her life in peace. They all did.

Rasheed’s mind went back to the email he’d received earlier in the day. Since these

lawyers were playing hardball, it was clear he had no choice but to travel to Nigeria. “If those lawyers call you again, tell them I’ll be there soon.”

His mother’s sigh expressed her relief. “God bless you, my son.”

“It’s okay, Mama. They better make it worth my while. If not, I won’t be held responsible for my actions.”

ANCHORED BY LOVE~ SONS OF ISHMAEL SERIES BOOK II

Synopsis

When cardiac surgeon, Jabir Danjuma met Damisi Odinga at the University of Michigan seven years ago, it wasn’t necessarily love at first sight. With love comes commitment and he knows that’s not a promise he could keep, after all he is his father’s son. However, their attraction can’t be denied. Their ensuing one year romance is passionate and intense, and he begins to feel the forbidden emotion—love. Just as he starts to let his guard down, Damisi breaks up with him and moves half way around the world to Lagos, Nigeria. He knows immediately that the demise of their relationship has something to do with that church she joined. She becomes unrecognizable and wants to change him into something he is not. His studies are the most important thing to him, so he did what any sane man would do, let her go.

Popular television personality Damisi Odinga, needs to end the fourth season of her show Becoming Ruth, with a bang. The trending topic in the country is the fairy-tale wedding of the heir to the Danjuma empire. The family has been shrouded in secrecy ever since the unknown sons resurfaced in the country last year. Coverage of the wedding weekend will give her show the boost it needs and seal its number one rating. No one can get an interview with the couple but she had a way in, her ex man, Jabir Danjuma. So what if he broke her heart and she hasn’t been able to get over him? This was kingdom business, right?

Years ago, Damisi left him without an explanation and now Jabir has her just where he wants her. Their encounter sets off a series of events that leave them both with fresh pain and hurt. Angry, they leave Abuja to their destinations. If they didn’t set eyes on each other again it would be too soon. But little did they know that fate has another thing planned. Will they stick it out long enough for the Potter to perfect their scars and pain for His purpose or will distance and time steal the day.

Excerpt

Thirty minutes later, Jabir was in the KTN lobby waiting for Damisi. He got curious stares from the receptionist and guard. He didn’t know whether it was because he looked like Kamal—someone they’d recognize—or because Damisi never received male visitors. He hoped it was the latter.

The space was decorated in light colors, and the walls were decorated with paintings or pictures of guests of their shows. He walked to the one the one that had Damisi in it. She was on the set of her show and looked beautiful. She had a microphone in her hand and was smiling. From the picture, he could see she loved what she did. His eyes saddened at what the scandal would do to her career. If they acted fast, she might have a chance of salvaging it, but she was too stubborn, and his approach wasn’t helping either. He had to get her to see reason.

“What are you doing here?” she whispered behind him.

Jabir turned around and marveled at how gorgeous she looked. He smiled inwardly.

“I figured you could use breakfast.” He handed her the smoothie and the box of pastries.

She took it from him slowly, her eyes softening with gratitude. “Thank you, but you shouldn’t be here.”

Jabir frowned. “Why? Expecting someone?”

She grabbed his wrist and tried to pull him to the corner. He resisted at first, but caved when he saw the plea in her eyes. “I really appreciate the breakfast, but I thought you were supposed to be on your way to Badagry. I really don’t need any rumors started.”

He lifted his brow. “Rumors? I’m not doing anything but making sure you’re fed. The baby needs to eat.”

She looked around in shocked horror. “Shhhh. Do you want to say it a little louder?” She rolled her eyes at him and he chuckled. “Jabir, please you can’t be here. In case you forgot, you look like one of the most recognizable Nigerian soccer players. I can’t do the rumor mill now.”

He wanted to dismiss her argument, but he was running late, and she was right. But then he had another idea. “Okay, I’ll leave on one condition.”

“Really?”

“Really.” He smirked.

Some people walked past them and did a double take. Damisi panicked. “What is it?”

“Have dinner with me when I get back.”

Damisi hesitated, then someone she knew walked over to say hello to them. By now, he could see the fury in her eyes. The daggers in them were aimed at him. He raised his eyebrow.

“I can’t believe you. Okay. Go,” she said hurriedly and turned away. He watched her go, but smiled when she walked back his way. “Thank you, and please drive safe.”

Yep. This new approach just might work. There was hope.

About the Author

Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents, Unoma Nwankwor is an award winning, international best-selling author of several fiction titles, and a champion of purpose. She is the recipient of the Nigerian Writers’ Award 2015 for Best Faith Based Fiction Writer. At the end of 2016, she was short listed for the Diaspora Writer of the Year. She was also recently named as one of the “100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40”

When she is not writing fiction, she empowers women of faith to remain rooted in hope by building confident expectations in the promises of God. She’s the host of the Anchor Talk Podcast, the COO of KevStel Group LLC and Founder of Living A Life of Expectancy.

Unoma resides in Atlanta with her husband and two children.

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Spotlight on October 2, 2017

Synopsis

Witness a tale unfold before your very eyes. In the land of Nether, a magical world where magic is alive and real. A land where heroes raise and monsters fall. Where mystery and untold truths lurk beneath the surface. After all the world of Nether is a magical place, even so magic is not embraced by all. In truth people fear magic and magical creatures save for the brave men and woman who train to defend the land from their vile evil.

And Trent is one such brave young man, well at least he tries to be. Trent Bartholomew Albinus the 3rd, a student at the heroic Gilgamesh academy faces the everyday challenges one might expect a warrior in training to face. As well as challenges that not even he was expecting.

This is the story of his journey. This is Trent’s chronicles.

A tale of magic, self-discovery and most importantly dragons. Join Trent on his journey and witness the Chronicles of Nether.

Excerpt

Within in a large wheat field there was a lone figure making his way across the vast landscape. He was hooded and wore a dark gray robe which concealed the rest of his body. The only thing the robe could not conceal was the man’s bright golden reptile like eyes, they were slit. You may ask why this was and I will answer you, this very man in particular was a Dragon.

I know when we think dragon we think large scaly reptile with wings that breathe fire and yes that is a typical dragon and so was this man. To differentiate the two I will refer to human dragons as dracominus-basically dragon being or dracon for short and normal dragon as the standard dragon. Dracon are typically believed to be dragons in human form, something that I now have actually information on but we’ll elaborate further on when necessary.

This dracon whose name happened to be Alaric, something I would learn later. Anyway Alaric was traversing through the wheat fields just outside my village of Taren, he was headed to the castle. It wouldn’t take him long to reach the castle just a couple hours actually but before he reached it. He would have to make his way through a group of Guard Saints that were galloping on horseback toward him. They had appeared out of nowhere but in reality they had been lying in wait for their chance to ambush Alaric.

Unfortunately for them it was near impossible to get the jump on a dragon, sorry dracon. He had smelled them a mile away only playing the fool in an attempt to get them to lose their guard and show themselves, which they did.

Alaric was a steady fellow who wasn’t prone to worrying in battle even if he was outnumbered. There were four Hallowed Knights approaching swords drawn they leapt from their horses just as they reached Alaric. He swayed to the side to avoid the first slash from the closest knight while the others began encircling him.

“Dragons are not welcome in this land. You should leave while you still have your head.”

Alaric looked unfazed at the man’s comment. “Do you have a family?” He said the words in a quiet voice barely a whisper.

“What did you say? Beast!”

Alaric looked at the man seemingly uninterested in him. He turned his attention to the others before looking into the eyes of the man who spoke.

“You think because you have me outnumber that it’s the same as having me outmatch. How I envy your naiveté.” Alaric’s words were calm and quick.

The Hallowed Knights gave each other quick glances, they were becoming unsure of themselves only their leader whose name I believed to be Thomas had ever faced down a dracon before. The others had no idea what they were getting into but they were about to learn and it would be a grave lesson indeed.

“Well are we not going to begin?” Alaric asked calmly.

“Silence beast! I will cut out your boastful tongue and carry it in a pouch as a trophy.”

Thomas was getting mad, Alaric smiled under his robe standing perfectly still as two of the knights charged him. They held their swords high bringing them down with as much force as they could. Alaric jumped back lightly avoiding their slashes then he dashed toward the furthest knight. Grabbing him by the head, Alaric slammed him into the ground embedding it there. Smoke rose from Alaric’s hand as he removed it from the man’s head. The knight was wearing nethermetal armor so it was only natural that it would burn. Even so Alaric didn’t mind the sting it was the least of his worries just like the knights in front of him who were in over their heads.

“Oh God! He killed him! The monster killed him!”

It was one of the remaining Hallowed Knights that was panicking, he took a few steps back revealing his fear. Alaric glanced in his direction while Thomas rushed at Alaric and began slashing at him violently. Slash after slash, Alaric evaded with ease making sure never to break eye contact with his attacker. He was doing this to unnerve him and it was working.

“I will have your head….blaaaaa”

Thomas’s words were cut short by the hand that plunged through his stomach. Blood ran down Alaric’s hand while smoke rolled off it in plumes still Alaric held it there to make a point.

About the Author

My name is Adeleke Kayode

Writing is my passion. Something I wouldn’t have discovered if it wasn’t for my brother. He told me I couldn’t write a story so I took out a notebook and pencil that day and began writing.

And now I’m here. By taking that notebook that day I started something and learned something about myself. As I wrote and brainstormed. And changed things within the story I noticed that I was really enjoying it.

I loved the idea of creating my own story, characters, worlds. And now I want to be able to share some of those characters, stories and worlds.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on September 29, 2017

Synopsis

TONIGHT, SHE PLANS TO LET GO.

Dressed up and anonymous, Sadie Liberato feels powerful, sexy and free. Where better to lose herself than a masked party?

Gear Blackstone’s cheating ex and scheming best friend have managed to spin his life into a serious downward spiral. At least with a mask on he can cut loose for one night. And cut loose he does—with the sexiest, snarkiest chick he’s ever met.

After a scorching-hot encounter, Sadie and Gear are desperate to find each other in real life. But can the heat last when the masks come off?

Excerpt

A large, muscular man with tattoos, ear gauges, and a Mohawk standing inside the foyer bro-hugged Elliot, gave Sadie a refreshing once-over to let her know she was indeed a woman, and then let them continue inside.

The music grew louder the farther they walked into the party. But not so loud Sadie couldn’t hear Elliot’s apparent shock. Or rather, his continued shock.

“I have no words.” Elliot stared at her as if Sadie had grown two heads.

“You keep saying that…which is kind of ironic, don’t you think?”

“Just…no words.”

She sighed. “What?”

“You’re…hot. I mean, really sexy in that getup. Ew, I think I threw up in my mouth a little.” Elliot pretended to gag. Dressed as the Phantom of the Opera, her brother looked magnificent. The half mask he wore emphasized the vivid green of his eyes and the square line of his jaw. But now, inside and adjusting to the festivities, Sadie saw more beautiful people, making Elliot appear almost normal.

“You know, I can look good when I put my mind to it.”

“I see that.” He smiled.

She glanced around at men and women in costumes a lot more revealing than hers. She’d been annoyed enough that she’d decided to go as a warrior princess, complete with a fake sword she considered using on her brother. Sadie’s costume showed a lot of skin but kept the important parts covered. Nothing less than what she wore at the gym, to be honest. A short skirt of fake leather and a matching halter top that bared a good bit of her toned stomach, complete with a scabbard at her back. Fake-gold armbands tightened around her biceps, while quality leather boots with tufts of faux fur around the tops looked authentic enough to be part of the costume. In reality she’d borrowed them from Rose.

Sadie had left her hair long with a single braid on each side of her face, and she’d darkened her eyes and lips with black makeup. A few fake war-paint lines under her eyes and across her cheeks apparently made her look authentically man-eating—or so the drunk guy brushing by her thought out loud.

Not bad. If he hadn’t been so sloshed, she might have considered trying him on for size. She had a leather satchel belted to her waist containing some money, a few condoms, and her phone.

“Oh my God. Is that who I think it is?” Elliot dragged her around the packed dance floor and up a half level toward the rear of the home leading out into the patio, where the crowd was thin enough to see a small gathering under bright lights. Space heaters and tall tables had been placed around a slate-slabbed yard, while strategically placed minibars provided drinks.

“Who are you talking about?” She rubbed her arms, feeling the chill before Elliot squeezed them in next to two couples by a space heater. Before she could ask again, her brother shushed her.

To the small group near them, he asked in a low voice, “Is that Gear in the Joker costume? And B-Man with Sahara?”

“Yeah” came a low reply from one of the men. “See the camera guy standing just behind the tall Batman? And the other one, the lighting guy there, is wearing scrubs, but he’s no doctor. Dude is working to keep the lights on in this clusterfu—”

“Foley,” the redhead next to him chastened.

“Come on, Cyn. This ain’t the place for reality TV. I just wanna party.”

Sadie glanced at the guy and blinked. The large man had dark hair, a muscular build—the way she liked them—and amazing gray eyes. Dressed as a sexy cop, he exuded menace more than law and order. Très sexy. Before Sadie could close her mouth, Cyn, the stunning redhead wearing an orange prisoner jumpsuit that clung to her curves, whispered something into his ear. He chuckled, and Sadie turned away, knowing she could never compete with a woman that pretty. Not that she’d ever try to break up a relationship, but with that woman, she’d stand no chance.

“Look, Sadie,” Elliot whispered with excitement. “It’s the guys from Motorcycle Madnezz.”

“Oh, right. Birdman and Glock.”

“B-man and Gear,” he growled.

“Whatever.” She wanted to turn away, but their dialogue sucked her in.

Gear, the bodybuilder mechanic  from the TV show, wore white makeup and a green wig, and had a Joker grin painted in red over his lips, making him seem both perpetually smiling and sneering at the same time. The purple pin-striped suit he wore seemed painted onto his larger-than-life body. He looks damn good was all  she could think, wondering when she’d become so desperate that now maniacal clowns turned her on.

“Jesus, he shaved off his beard.” Elliot fanned himself. “I’m in lust.”

“I know.” Cyn sounded in awe until her boyfriend grunted. “I mean, I’m surprised about the beard.” She coughed. “It’s so sad they broke up, isn’t it, Foley? Gear and Sahara were perfect for each other.”

He shrugged. “Too bad about the show. They sure made some killer bikes.”

Next to them, another guy agreed while his girlfriend called Gear some unflattering names. Her boyfriend started to argue with her, defending the mechanic.

“People, we’re getting ready to roll.” A man holding a large mic over the TV combatants glared at the onlookers. “Quiet.”

The growing crowd around Sadie and Elliot grew silent.

Elliot gripped Sadie’s hand. “They’re starting. Oh my God. Best. Night. Ever.”

Illuminated and surrounded by heat lamps, standing across from each other with the mediator seated on a barstool between them, the three leads of Motorcycle Madnezz—Gear as the Joker, with B-Man and Sahara as Adam and Eve—faced off.

 

About the Author

Caffeine addict, boy referee, and romance aficionado, MARIE HARTE is a confessed bibliophile and devotee of action movies. Whether hiking in Central Oregon, biking around town, or hanging at the local tea shop, she’s constantly plotting to give everyone a happily ever after.

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Posted in excerpt, romance on September 27, 2017

Synopsis

Meet cute…

Run for the hills—temporarily. That’s Colbie Albright’s plan when she flees New York for San Francisco. Wrangling her crazy family by day and writing a bestselling YA fantasy series by night has taken its toll. In short, Colbie’s so over it that she’s under it. She’s also under the waters of a historic San Francisco fountain within an hour of arrival. Fortunately, the guy who fishes Colbie out has her looking forward to Christmas among strangers. But she’s pretty sure Spencer Baldwin won’t be a stranger for long.

Make merry…

Spence’s commitment to hiding from the Ghosts of Relationships Past means he doesn’t have to worry about the powerful—okay, crazy hot—chemistry he’s got with Colbie. Just because she can laugh at anything, especially herself… just because she’s gorgeous and a great listener…just because she “gets” Spence immediately doesn’t mean he won’t be able to let Colbie go. Does it?

…and hope for a miracle.

Now the clock’s ticking for Colbie and Spence: Two weeks to cut loose. Two weeks to fall hard. Two weeks to figure out how to make this Christmas last a lifetime.

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Excerpt

At the unexpected sight of Spence, Colbie startled hard. How was it that he was the one who needed glasses and yet she’d not seen him standing against the window? “No, I don’t kill a lot of people,” she said cautiously because she was wearing only a towelin front of a strange man. “But I’m happy to make an exception.”

He laughed, a rough rumble that was more than a little contagious but she controlled herself because, hello, she was once again dripping wet before the man who seemed to make her knees forget to hold her up.

“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said and pushed off the wall to come close.

She froze, but he held up his hands like, I come in peace, and crouched at her feet to scoop up the clothes she hadn’t realized she’d dropped.

Leggings, a long forgiving tee, and the peach silk bra-and-panty set that hadn’t gotten so much as a blink from the TSA guy.

But it got one out of Spence. He also swallowed hard as she snatched them back from him.

“Hold on,” he said and caught her arm, pulling it toward him to look at her bleeding elbow.

“Sit,” he said and gently pushed her down to a weight bench. He vanished into the bathroom and came back out with a first aid kit.

It took him less than two minutes to clean and bandage the scrape. Then, easily balanced at her side on the balls of his feet, he did the same for both her knees, which she hadn’t noticed were also scraped up.

“You must’ve hit the brick coping as you fell in the fountain,” he said and let his thumb slide over the skin just above one bandaged knee.

She shivered, and not from the cold either. “Not going to kiss it better?” she heard herself ask before biting her tongue for running away with her good sense.

She’d raised her younger twin brothers. Scrappy, roughhouse wild animals, the both of them, so there’d been plenty of injuries she’d kissed over the years.

But no one had ever kissed hers. Not surprising, since most of her injuries tended to be on the inside, where they didn’t show. Still, she was horrified she’d said anything at all. “I didn’t mean—”

She broke off, frozen like a deer in the headlights as Spence slowly lowered his head, brushing his lips over the Band-Aid on her elbow, then her knees. When he lifted his head, he pushed his glasses higher on his nose, those whiskey eyes warm and amused behind his lenses. “Better?”

Shockingly better. Since she didn’t quite trust her voice at the moment, she gave a jerky nod and took her clothes back into the bathroom. She shut the door and then leaned against it, letting out a slow, deliberate breath. Holy cow, she was out of her league. He was somehow both cute and hot, and those glasses . . .

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras full of quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental. Look for Jill’s bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold and visit her website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Time Travel on September 27, 2017

Title: A SHAPE ON THE AIR
Author: Julia H. Ibbotson
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Pages: 267
Genre: Medieval Timeslip Romance

Synopsis

Unlocking a love that lasts for lifetimes … and beyond …

Dr Viv Dulac, a lecturer in medieval studies, is devastated when her partner walks out (and with her best friend too) and it seems that she is about to lose everything. Drunk and desperate, her world quite literally turns upside down when she finds herself in the body of the fifth century Lady Vivianne. Lady V has her own traumas; she is struggling with the shifting values of the Dark Ages and her forced betrothal to the brutish Sir Pelleas, who is implicated in the death of her parents. Haunted by both Lady Vivianne and by Viv’s own parents’ death and legacy, can Viv  unlock the mystery that surrounds and connects their two lives, 1500 years apart, and bring peace to them both? Can the strange key she finds hold the truth? A haunting story of lives intertwining across the ages, of the triumph of the human spirit and of dreams lost and found.

Excerpt

Prologue

1500 years before

Lady Nymue, her mother, is rising from the mere like a spirit: tall, slow like a dream, over-gown falling in slim folds from her waist. Vivianne sees her in a haze of mist, like magic, an illusion. She feels it, that enchantment, and it is enfolding her, but making her shiver, too. Her life-giver, robes dry despite the water, is coming towards her as she stands anxiously on the bank, waiting impatiently, calling out urgently, hopping from one foot to the other, tangling her feet in her earth-sweeping kirtle, longing to rejoin her playmates who are chasing around the village pretending to be Roman soldiers. Her mother, reaching out a hand to her, is shaking her head, but laughing. Be more patient, my little Lady Vivianne, she says, I have not completed my rituals, but let me wrap you in my cloak, for I must return to the mere. But she is only a little girl and something is making her feel cold, frightened. No, she calls, sticking out her lower lip, I want to play! I want to be Honorius this time! They promised! Eleanor will play my wife – or maybe my lady servant.

Her mother is ruffling her soft curls. Well, then, she smiles, I will return later to finish. She is lifted onto her mother’s horse, in front, held close. Dry, warm, comforting. Riding back to the village. Her care-giver is taking her back to play with her friends again. Her mother turns to the special hall which her father, Sir Tristram, called “sacred” and where she is only allowed to go sometimes.

And then, fire, flames, the acrid smell of smoke. Looking across to the great hall, terror strangling her heart, stealing her breath. Running towards the wooden building, through the ash and cinders and the roaring, screaming now, choking. Someone holding her back, pulling her.

Darkness.

Waking up in her little bed. A big red-faced man in the shadows, haloed with a fair unruly beard and thick wild hair, telling her that her parents were dead, burned in the fire. Her mother and her father, both of them. An accident with tallows. She knows those tallows; they are always on the altar in the sacred hall. They are only spoken of in whispers. But this man is speaking in a strange way, loud, too loud, and it seems to her, sneering, as she peers at him through the darkness.

About the Author

Award-winning author Julia Ibbotson is obsessed with the medieval world and concepts of time travel. She read English at Keele University, England (after a turbulent but exciting gap year in Ghana) specialising in medieval studies, and has a PhD in linguistics. She wrote her first novel at 10 years of age, but became a teacher, lecturer and researcher, and a single mum.  Julia has published four books, including a children’s book S.C.A.R.S (a fantasy medieval time slip), a memoir, and the first two novels of her Drumbeats trilogy (which begins in Ghana).  Apart from insatiable reading, she loves travelling the world, singing in choirs, swimming, yoga, and walking in the English countryside.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on September 23, 2017

Title: Last Gentleman Standing

Author: Jane Ashford

Pub Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis

A fortune hunter’s dream…

Miss Elisabeth Elham is an unlikely heiress. She never knew the curmudgeonly uncle who died suddenly and left her a fortune. She’s proud, outspoken and independent—a definite challenge for London’s fortune hunting suitors.

As various determined gentlemen vie for her attention at balls, routs, picnics and parties, Elisabeth finds herself embroiled with a charming rake, a mysterious nabob, and an elegant neighbor. This would all be great fun, if only she wasn’t so fascinated by the one man in London who’s not trying to woo her…

Rediscover this classic Regency romance!  Originally titled Bluestocking, this classic story has been unavailable for over 25 years and is now returning from the vault!

 

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Excerpt

Elisabeth had recrossed a stile and was traversing an open field when she heard hoofbeats behind her. Turning, she was just in time to see the rider urge his magnificent chestnut up and over the fence she had just climbed. The form of both was flawless, and she forgot herself in her admiration of the jump, watching unself-consciously, as the horseman approached her.

The chestnut had white feet and was one of the most beautiful and spirited animals she’d ever seen. He moved with the ease and power of a true thoroughbred and might have made almost any rider appear insignificant, but the man on his back matched his quality. He looked to be tall, and his figure was well-molded and athletic. His buckskin breeches fitted him to perfection, and his coat fairly cried out its fashionable origin in the workrooms of a Weston or a Stultz. Elisabeth had seen a few gentlemen of the haut ton in Bath, and she knew enough to recognize that the deceptive simplicity of the folds of his cravat and the carefully casual arrangement of his hair were the signs of a veritable tulip, a top-of-the-trees corinthian. At that moment, she met his slightly mocking gaze and looked down in confusion, recalling herself with annoyance. She had been gaping like a schoolgirl, she thought.

The rider pulled up before her. “I almost feel I’ve been in a competition,” he said. His voice was deep and resonant. “I hope you gave me full points for that jump.”

Elisabeth looked up. His eyes were pale blue, she noted, in spite of his black hair and rather dark complexion. “I was staring quite rudely, I know,” she replied. “I beg your pardon. But I was transfixed by the way your horse took that fence.”

The man patted the chestnut’s neck, “He’s wonderful, is Tristram.”

“Tristram?” repeated Elisabeth, smiling. “That’s an uncommon name for a horse. Do you take it from Tristram Shandy?”

The rider looked at her with much more interest than he’d first shown. “Yes, I’m fond of Sterne.”

“Oh, it is my favorite of all books. I thought hardly anyone read it now.”

He smiled back at her somewhat quizzically. “And I should hardly have thought it fit reading for young ladies.” He surveyed her. He was the despair of his mother and several aunts, who had all at one time or another introduced to him dazzling debutantes calculated to urge him into marriage. But though he’d treated them politely, he’d been extremely bored in their company and really had very little notion of what to say to conventional young women. Seeing that Elisabeth was a bit uncomfortable under his gaze, he continued, “But then I rarely find young ladies wandering about my land unattended. So I can’t quite make you out. Are you someone’s governess, perhaps? Do you teach your pupils from Sterne?” His amused smile faded as he went on before she could answer. “No, that doesn’t seem right.”

Looking down at her drab garments, Elisabeth laughed. “I’m sure I don’t know why you say so. I do look very like a governess. In fact, until a few weeks ago, I was a teacher at a seminary for young ladies. Now that my uncle has obligingly left me his fortune, I shall have to change my style of dress.”

“Uncle?” he asked. His eyes narrowed. “You can’t mean old Anthony Elham? I heard of his death.”

“Yes. I am Elisabeth Elham. Though it is not at all the thing to go about introducing oneself to strange men,” she told herself reflectively.

The rider laughed. “I hope I’m not strange. But I beg pardon. I should have made myself known to you immediately. I am your neighbor, Derek Wincannon. Do you mean to say that old Elham has left you Willowmere?”

Elisabeth shrugged. “It is part of the estate. And a very ramshackle part, I must say. I have never seen so neglected a house.”

“It’s the scandal of the neighborhood,” said Mr. Wincannon. “Your uncle was a shocking landlord and a worse neighbor.”

“From what I heard of him,” answered Elisabeth,  “he was uniformly shocking. I’m rather sorry I never met him.” The man laughed again. “But in any case, you may inform the neighborhood that I shall be putting the place to rights as soon as I may.”

“That’s good news. Will you be settling there?”

“No. At least, not immediately. I shall live in London for a time, at Elham House.”

“For the season, I assume.”

“Yes, I’ll be bringing out my cousin.”

“You are bringing out someone? I’d have thought it would be the other way about.”

“Oh, no,” Elisabeth smiled. “I’m beyond that sort of thing. Quite on the shelf, in fact,” she added lightly.

“I see it now,” he responded dryly, “a veritable antique. How can I have mistaken you for girl in her twenties?”

She laughed. “Well, I daresay I shall attend a few parties also, if I’m asked.”

He smiled. “There can be little doubt of that, I should think. You’ll wish to sample the gaities of the season and attend the assemblies at Almack’s.”

“Almack’s? Oh, no, I shouldn’t think so.”

He raised his eyebrows.

“My father used to tell me stories about London, and he was most severe on Almack’s. He called it the Marriage Mart and painted such a vivid picture of the trials young girls undergo as they are catalogued and labeled according to their faces and fortunes that he gave me quite a horror of the place. I don’t at all wish to go there now.”

Mr. Wincannon’s interest was definitely caught. “Now?”

“Well, of course I might have done so some years ago had I been offered the opportunity,” Elisabeth explained obligingly. “When one is thrown penniless upon the world at the age of nineteen, one is willing to try any shift to come about again. I was very willing then to marry to make my fortune. But I wasn’t given the chance, and how fortunate that was, really. For now, you see, there is no need.”

Derek Wincannon laughed. “You are a most unusual girl,” he said.

“Because I prefer to order my own life now that I have the means to do so?” asked Elisabeth. “I’m persuaded you can’t really think so. Would you give up your independence without need? No indeed. When I was desperate and might have married, no one dared offer for me. I certainly won’t encourage anyone to do so now that I have an income.”

“Much good that will do you, I should say.”

About the Author

Jane Ashford discovered Georgette Heyer in junior high school and was captivated by the glittering world and witty language of Regency England. That delight led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. Her historical and contemporary romances have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, Slovenia, and Spain, as well as the U.S. Twenty-six of her new and backlist Regency romances are being published by Sourcebooks. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She is currently rather nomadic.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on September 21, 2017

Title: The Last Outlaw

Author: Rosanne Bittner

Series: Outlaw Hearts, #4

Pub Date: September 5, 2017

Synopsis

True Love Never Dies

Times have changed, and the old Wild West is a thing of the past. Nestled in his beautiful Colorado ranch, surrounded by family, infamous former outlaw Jake Harkner’s hung up his guns for good and finally found a measure of peace—but dark memories haunt the woman who has always been his strength, and not even Jake is certain he can save his beloved Miranda this time.

All he can do is swear to remain by her side. But it takes more than a hope for peace to outrun a past defined by violence, and it isn’t long before Jake is embroiled in a rescue mission he simply can’t refuse. Life has brought him back full circle as he rides into Mexico to save a young girl from a dreadful fate…leaving Miranda behind one final time, fearing that the man she loves more than anything is destined to die the way he’s always lived—by the gun.

 

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Excerpt

A note from Rosanne: THE LAST OUTLAW opens with a love scene between the hero (Jake Harkner, a notorious gunman) and his wife Miranda (Randy).  Because of a prologue to this first chapter, readers will know a gang of bank robbers is headed for Boulder, Colorado, which is where Jake and Randy are on a shopping trip and staying in a hotel. They will know Jake is bound to get involved in the gunplay that follows. 

In this opening, readers realize these two, whose love story is incredibly beautiful, are having personal problems stemming from an event in Book #3, LOVE’S SWEET REVENGE.  You will have to read that book to learn what happened, but I think here you will sense the incredibly loving relationship these two share, Jake’s adoration of his long-suffering wife, and you will realize something needs to happen later in this story to “fix” the current underlying problems they are having.  I think readers will be surprised later in the story to find out how this problem is solved.  It’s VERY sexy, and also very beautiful.

 

Jake trailed his tongue over his wife’s skin, trying to ignore his fear that she could be dying. Her belly was too caved-in, her hip bones too prominent.

She’ll get better, he told himself. The taste of her most secret place lingered on his lips as he moved to her breasts, still surprisingly full, considering, but not with the same breasts he’d always loved and teased her about, with the enticing cleavage that stirred his desire for her.

He would always desire her.  This was his Randy.  She was his breath.  Her spirit ran in his veins, and she was his reason for being.  God knew his worthless hide had no business even still being on this earth.

He ran a hand over her ribs, which were too damn easy to count.  Sometimes he thought he’d go mad with the memory of last winter, the reason she’d become more withdrawn and had nearly stopped eating.

He met her mouth, and she responded.  Thank God she still wanted this, but something was missing, and he couldn’t put his finger on it. He thought he’d made it all better, thought he’d taken away the ugly.  He’d feared at first she might blame him for what happened, but it had been quite the opposite.  She’d become almost too clingy, constantly asking if he loved her, not to let go of her, asking him not to go far away.

He pushed himself inside of her, wanting nothing more than to please her, to find a way to break down the invisible wall he felt between them, to erase the past and assure her he was right here, that he still loved her.  How in hell could he not love this woman, the one who’d loved him when he was anything but loveable…all those years ago?  She’d put up with his past and his bouts of insanity and all the trouble and heartache he’d put her through…this woman who’d given him a son and daughter who couldn’t make a man prouder and who loved him beyond what he was worth … six grandchildren who climbed all over him full of such innocent love for a man who’d robbed and killed, and worst of all … killed his own father.

He moved his hands under her bottom, pushing himself deep inside her, relishing the way she returned his deep kisses and pressed her fingers into his upper arms in an almost desperate neediness.

That was what bothered him.  This had always been good between them, a true mating of souls, teasing remarks back and forth as they made love. But now it was as though she feared losing him if she didn’t make love often, and that wasn’t the sort of man he was. It had always been pure pleasure between them. He’d taught her things she would never have thought of, helped her relax and release every sexual inhibition. He knew every inch of her body intimately, and she’d loved it.

This was different.  And it was harder now, because not only did he hate the idea of feeing like he was forcing her, but he was also terrified he would break something.  She was so thin and small now.  He out-weighed her by a good hundred and fifty pounds by now; she couldn’t have weighed more than eighty or ninety pounds.

He surged deep in a desperate attempt to convince himself he wasn’t losing her. And through it all, he was screaming inside.  Sometimes he wanted to shake her and make her tell him what else he could do to bring back the woman he’d known and loved for nearly thirty-two years. He missed that feisty, bossy woman, the only person on this earth who could bring him to his knees.

He’d faced the worst of men as a lawman in Oklahoma, and run with the worst of men the first thirty years of his life.  He’d spent four years in prison under horrible conditions.  He’d been in too many gunfights to count, taken enough bullets that he had no right still being alive.  He’d ridden the Outlaw Trail and defied the odds. His reputation followed him everywhere, and a reporter had even written a book about him – Jake Harkner: The Legend and the MythMyth was more like it.  And the legend wasn’t one he was proud of.

And this woman beneath him … this woman he poured his life into this very moment … she’d been there for most of it.

He relaxed and moved to her side.

“Don’t let go yet, Jake.”

 

About the Author

RosanneBittner

 

USA Today bestseller and award-winning novelist Rosanne Bittner is known as the “Queen of Western Historical Romance” for her thrilling love stories and historical authenticity. Her epic romances span the West—and are often based on Rosanne’s personal visits to each setting. She lives in Coloma, Michigan, with her husband and two sons.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on September 19, 2017

Title: Highland Flame

Author: Mary Wine

Pub Date: September 5, 2017

ISBN: 9781492602538

Synopsis

NEWLY MINTED LAIRD SEEKS WIFE, PREFERABLY RICH

Laird Diocail Gordon has just inherited his uncle’s run down castle and rag-tag clan. He knows the sorry sight of the castle would send any woman running, but is determined to find a wife to help return his home to its former glory.

Widowed lady Jane Stanley is determined to return to England, even if she has to tromp through the Scottish Highlands on foot to get there. Her travels lead her straight into the midst of a troop of dangerous Highland warriors. The mysterious, brawny laird forbids his men to harm her, and the spark between them is immediate. The only way Diocail can keep her safe is to take her home with him, but will the miserable state of his clan douse her newly ignited Highland flame?

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Historical facts you should know

  1. A reverence was the proper greeting for this era, sometimes called courtesy. You stepped back with one foot, bent at the knee, keeping your back straight and ‘lowered’. If you were the higher ranking person, you would do the same and it was called ‘offering courtesy’, meaning it was a polite way of greeting one another. Even Queen Elizabeth Tudor lowered herself before the archbishop of Canterbury.
  2. Every house had a buttery….it was where the butts of ale were stored.
  3. A butler was the man who kept the keys to the buttery. In this period, he was huge and someone who could defend those keys with his brawn because ale was essential to survival in winter.

Excerpt

They both fell silent again as they consumed more of the food and faced a topic neither of them had any experience with. Not many a man did. It was why men wed, and women too, because together a man and woman might combine their knowledge to make a successful home. He’d been taught the logistics of defense and negotiation needed to foster relationships with other lairds.

But how much fare to put on the tables?

He had no idea or even how to go about making sure there were ample hands to prepare the food. Diocail felt his brain throbbing as he contemplated all the things needed to run a kitchen, and those were only what he knew about. What truly nauseated him was that he knew damned well how lacking his knowledge was. He knew how many men to ride out with, how many horses, and his education continued on to include how many blacksmiths it took to make sure those horses were shoed, how many stable lads it took to make certain those animals were fit to ride, how much feed and what sort was needed to maintain a horse’s strength.

A hundred details, and a kitchen was no different. No wise man made the mistake of thinking it an easy thing to keep running smoothly. Their current circumstances were proof of that surely enough.

“Ye need a wife, one raised with the education to see this place set right. No’ that any decent girl would have this house as it is,” Muir added. “Try to contract one, and she’ll run home to her father the moment she sees the condition this castle is in. But ye need one. A wife, that is.”

“I hoped to have a bit of time before getting down to that part of being laird,” Diocail groused.

“Best set yer secretary to sorting through the offers in Colum’s study.” Muir didn’t offer him any respite.

“Do nae hold out any hope,” Diocail replied. “There is a decade of letters sitting there. Any offers are long past their time of opportunity.”

His new lairdship was proving to be far more challenging than he’d ever thought it might be. Somehow, in all the times his mother had spoken to him of the day he’d take over the Gordon clan as laird, she had never mentioned just how complicated the duty was. There was building to consider, horses, men, training—and the list went on. All things he’d been taught as a man.

Now there was the kitchen, and God only knew what else went along with running one

smoothly.

Well, not God.

He let out a grunt. Here was something he knew less about than the Lord above.

Women.

And, more precisely, a lady and the duties she would have been trained to do.

There were reasons a laird wed a woman from a highborn family, and one was that she would come with an education as diverse as any given to a laird’s son. Running a kitchen was more than turning bread; it was knowing how much bread to set out to rise in the morning so that the supper table was full and how much grain was needed to make it through the winter and how many hands were needed to produce it all. His head began to ache. He didn’t know what went into bread, much less how much was needed to see an entire castle through a day, but as laird, his duty was to make certain the tables were laid with fare.

Nor did he know anything at all about helping a lady settle into the place he hoped she’d make into a home.

Muir was correct; she would run back to her father before sunup.

Diocail took another swig of the whisky, wishing it would dull his senses.

But all it did was warm him enough to make him conscious of the draft coming through the holes in the roof. He tipped his head back and discovered stars peeking at him where tiles were missing, likely from the winter storms. Colum was a bastard for leaving his people to such circumstances.

Laird of the Gordons. Diocail’s mother’s dream.

And his nightmare, it would seem.

About the Author

Acclaimed author Mary Wine has written over 30 works of Scottish Highland romance, romantic suspense and erotic romance. An avid history-buff and historical costumer, she and her family enjoy participating in historical reenactments. Mary lives in Yorba Linda, California with her husband and two sons.

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