Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on December 6, 2017


TANGLEWOOD SERIES by Rachael Anderson

Three charming tales of tangled deception and love.

Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practise to deceive!
—Sir Walter Scott, Marmion

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THE FALL OF LORD DRAYSON – When handsome and arrogant Lord Drayson awakens from a fall with no recollection of who he is or whence he came, the fiery and headstrong Miss Lucy Beresford takes it upon herself to humble him.

EXCERPT

He stared at her incredulously, as though she had escaped Bedlam. “Are you in your right mind, woman?”
Lucy leaned forward and planted her palms on his bed so that her eyes were level with his. “My name is Lucy Beresford. I have lived in Askern all my life. I’m the sole daughter of a vicar and a seamstress who lived most happily despite their differences in station. When my father passed away, I came here, to this dower house. So yes, I am in my right mind. It is you who are not.”
The earl’s jaw clenched, and Lucy took some pleasure at the sight. Perhaps he would come down off his high horse and show at least a small amount of kindness or respect.
“I may not know who I am or where I came from,” he finally said, “but at least I do not feel the need to tell tales.”
“Tell tales?” Lucy gaped at him. Was he accusing her of telling untruths? Her, of all people?What untruths? How dare he!
Lord Drayson glanced down at his fingers, frowning when he spotted grime under his nails. He began to scrape it out as he spoke. “Claiming to be the daughter of a vicar and seamstress is all very romantic, but it cannot possibly be the truth.”
“And why not?” she asked.
His gaze returned to hers. “In my experience, the daughter of a vicar would behave with more decorum, would know how to make a palatable broth, and would never allow herself to be alone in a room with a man who is not her relative. If there is one thing I know with absolute certainty, it is that you are no relation of mine.”
Lucy’s jaw clenched as she fought to control the rage building inside her. Ever so slowly, she pushed herself up to standing and glared down at the earl. “You are correct in thinking I am no ordinary vicar’s daughter. I do not love unconditionally. I show decorum only when I wish to. And I despise those who care for no one but themselves. But I do not tell tales.”
He actually chuckled, but it was more of a scoff than a show of humor. “Did you learn those traits from your father?”
“Do not speak of my father.”
“I would prefer to speak of myself, but you do not seem to share that preference, so perhaps we should speak of your father instead.Where is he, by the by? I would very much like to meet him.”
Lucy’s fingers became fists while her conscience became a battleground between all that was good and evil inside her. It was a short battle, with evil making a quick triumph.
Ever so slowly, her body still trembling with anger, she lifted her chin. If he was going to accuse her of telling tales, then tell them she would. “Very well, Collins. If you must know, I am your employer. And though you may not remember me, or this house, or your position in it, or the fact that you are perfectly susceptible to coming off a horse, just like any other human, I still expect some kindness and respect from you.”
“What on earth are you talking about? What position?”
There was not a hint of hesitation in her voice when she answered. “You are a servant in this house.”

 

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THE RISE OF MISS NOTLEY – To escape an unwanted marriage, Miss Coralynn Notley must give up her riches for rags and become a servant in the household of the daunting and mysterious Mr. Jonathan Ludlow.

 

 

EXCERPT

Cora nodded and followed Mr. Ludlow into the parlor. He closed the doors and stood in front of them with his arms folded, looking far more intimidating than he had during their last meeting. He said nothing, merely lifted an inquiring eyebrow and waited.
Caught unprepared, Cora stared at him, trying to organize her thoughts into words.After a few moments of awkward silence, he lost patience. “What is it you wished to speak with me about, Mrs. Notley? Or are we to stand here staring at each other all afternoon?”
Not knowing how else to begin, Cora blurted, “Why have you hired me, sir?”
He blinked a few times before frowning. “I believe I have made that perfectly clear. You are to be the housekeeper, are you not?”
This was going to be more difficult than she had imagined. “Yes, of course, but there has been some talk about, or rather concerns expressed . . .” How did one put this delicately?
“About . . .?” he prodded, obviously not thrilled that his morning regime had been waylaid.
“About the reasons I have been offered the position,” she quickly said, hoping that would be enough to make him understand her meaning.
Unfortunately, his brows drew together in confusion. “What are you saying, Mrs. Notley? I have hired you to do certain duties that will hopefully make my household run more smoothly. What other reason could I possibly have for offering you the position?”
“You have hired me to do a job I am untrained to do,” she said. “While I am grateful for the opportunity, I also find it necessary to clarify that I have come here to be a housekeeper and only a housekeeper. Even though I am young and . . .” Her voice drifted off. Had she almost referred to herself as pretty? Goodness, this was proving to be very awkward indeed.
“Beautiful?” he finally guessed, not looking at all pleased with the direction the conversation was taking.
“I was going to say not repulsive,” she fibbed.
“Very well,” he said. “Even though you are young and not repulsive . . .” He moved his hand in a circular gesture, urging her to finish her thought.
Cora straightened her shoulders and forced herself to continue. “I am not the sort of girl who would ever . . . fraternize with her employer.” Her face infused with heat, but she forced her gaze to remain steady.
“I see.” He walked slowly towards her, rubbing his chin with his hand. A few steps away,he stopped and eyed her quizzically. “Have I made any improper advances towards you?”
“No, sir.”
“Have I spoken to you in an unprofessional manner?”
“No.”
“Have I looked at you in a way that has made you feel uncomfortable?”
“No.” Cora suddenly wished she had not felt the need to clarify anything. He made her feel as though she had put the cart before the horse when what she had been trying to do was see that the cart and horse simply stayed in their proper places. Was that so wrong?
“Might I ask who, exactly, has led you to believe that I am the sort of man capable of–how did you put it? Fraternizing with my help?”
“I, er, would rather not say, sir.” Though Cora felt no loyalty towards Sally, she refused to bring Mr. and Mrs. Shepherd’s names into the conversation. “I did not mean to besmirch your name or cause any offense, Mr. Ludlow. I merely wanted to make my feelings on the matter clear.”
“And you have.”
“Good.” Cora dropped into a quick curtsy, anxious to get away. “I shall go and find Watts now.”
She was almost to the door when his voice stopped her. “Once again, you are attempting to scuttle away before we have completed our conversation.”
Slowly, she turned around and lifted her eyes to his. “I never scuttle, sir.”
“What would you call that rapid walk of yours?”
“A rapid walk.”

 

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THE PURSUIT OF LADY HARRIETT – Lieutenant Jamison is arrogant, ungentlemanly, and irritating. When Lady Harriett Cavendish sets out to put him in his place once and for all, she discovers there is more to him than meets the eye, and when it comes to matters of the heart, she has no control whatsoever.

 

EXCERPT

The corners of the man’s eyes crinkled in a mild show of amusement. “Lady Harriett, I presume?” Rather than look at her with appreciation as most men did, he appeared amused.
At her nod, he tucked his hands behind his back, remaining a few steps above her. “I am Lieutenant Christopher Jamison, an old friend of Jonathan’s.”
“I was expecting you days ago,” she answered. “Lord Jonathan charged me with the unhappy task of informing you he and his new bride are currently away on their wedding trip. He is sorry he cannot be here to meet with you and has asked that I relay his apologies.”
“May I inquire as to how long they will be away?” he asked.
No, you may not, she wanted to say. Her neck was beginning to ache from looking up at him, but she forced her gaze to remain steady. “They expected to be gone a fortnight, sir.”
“And they have been gone how long, exactly?”
She felt an unaccountable hesitancy to tell him. “A week.”
“Ah.” He sounded disappointed but seemed to take the news in stride, glancing at Charlie as though wondering whether he ought to retrieve his horse or not. Harriett prayed that he would.
When his gaze strayed back to her, he took the unwelcome, and ungentlemanly, liberty of perusing her figure. When his eyes met hers again, his lips twitched into a slight smile. “Forgive me, my lady, but you appear to have had a run-in with a mud puddle and lost.”
How kind of him to point that out. Harriett kept her hands at her side rather than attempt to brush the dirt from her face and pelisse yet again. The damage was done, and no amount of brushing or shaking would remove the muck. What she needed was a hot bath and a change of clothes.
“Actually, sir, I was merely an innocent bystander.”
“Indeed?”
She picked up her skirts and ascended the steps, stopping on the stair above him so that she was eye level with him. “Are you always such a reckless rider, sir? Do you not pay heed to your surroundings?”
“Of course I do.”
“If you had, you would have seen me standing at the side of the road and, I would hope, thought to slow your animal down so as to not splash mud all over my pelisse.” Her chilly set down did not have the desired effect. He did not appear the least bit repentant. Rather, he looked ready to burst into laughter.
“And your face, apparently.” He leaned forward and squinted. “If I’m not mistaken, there is a splash or two of mud on your bonnet as well.”
Harriett glared at him. “How observant you are, Lieutenant Jamison. One can only wonder why you didn’t put that skill to good use earlier. If you had, perhaps my pelisse, face, and bonnet would still be clean.”
“I am always observant, my lady,” he said. “But might I suggest that if you would like to be noticed at the side of the road, you should wear a color that does not blend so perfectly with your surroundings. That particular shade of green looks quite lovely on you, but only someone with the eyes of an eagle would have spotted you in front of a landscape of evergreens.”
Harriett opened her mouth to respond, but no words were forthcoming. The man did not even attempt to behave like a gentleman. How could he be so . . . so . . .
“Have you no apology to offer, sir?” she finally spluttered.
“Oh, did I not apologize? Forgive me.”
“For what? Forgetting to apologize or for not doing so in the first place?”

 

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Praise for the Tanglewood Series

“Thoroughly enjoyed this series. The dialogue between characters is delightfully witty and the stories are rich with color and depth.” (M. Michelle Condie, Amazon.com)

“I loved . . . the entire Tanglewood series! Every time I started reading, I escaped to a different time and place. I laughed a lot and even cried a little.” (Emily R., Amazon.com)

“Five stars for this author and the Tanglewood series! This series were the first books I’ve read by this author and I was not disappointed. Her characters come alive in her books and you can’t help but be drawn into their world. I’m always sad to see a good series like this one end.” (Simply Me, Amazon.com)

“Rachael Anderson has a unique ability to keep the reader intrigued with her characters. She writes with a sense of humor,knowledge of period she’s writing,about ,and sprinkles with Christian values.” Carolynn D., Amazon.com)

 

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Coming Spring 2018

My Sister’s Intended by Rachael Anderson

For as long as Prudence can remember, it has been understood that her sister will one day wed the eldest son of their nearest neighbor. Such an alliance will benefit both families and bring a great deal of joy to all parents involved.

Unfortunately, Prudence has never been able to feel as joyful. She believes her sister is mad to consider marrying a man she hardly knows, even if he will one day make her a countess. Titles and wealth shouldn’t factor into matters of the heart, and as an aspiring romance novelist, Prudence cannot fathom how anyone could even think of settling for less than love. She certainly wouldn’t, and she doesn’t want her sister to either.

Unable to stand by and do nothing, Prudence sets out to help the awkward couple discover the best in each other with the hope that they will eventually find love. What she neglected to foresee, however, was that she might fall in love with Lord Knave herself.

 

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About the Author

A USA Today bestselling author, Rachael Anderson is the mother of four and is pretty good at breaking up fights, or at least sending guilty parties to their rooms. She can’t sing, doesn’t dance, and despises tragedies. But she recently figured out how yeast works and can now make homemade bread, which she is really good at eating.

 

 

 

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Also by Rachael Anderson

 

 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/19/17

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 excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on December 5, 2017

Title: The Lord Meets His Lady

Author: Gina Conkle

Series: Midnight Meetings #3

Pub Date: December 5, 2017

ISBN: 9781492651901

Synopsis

Lord Marcus Bowles has stained his family’s reputation for the last time. Only after spending a scandal-free year restoring some far-flung property can this second son return in good graces. But Marcus isn’t one to abandon a lone damsel on a dark country lane.

One stolen kiss and Genevieve Turner’s handsome midnight savior disappears. Typical. No matter, Gen is finally on the way to her new post, and hopefully to finding her grandmother as well. Instead she finds her mischievous hero is her new employer. Surely a few more kisses won’t hurt…

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How to Create Page Turning Dialogue by Gina Conkle

Dialogue is a much-debated topic in romance. One day you’re at a conference and a bestselling author spouts rules of dialogue. The next day, you’re reading another bestselling author’s book, and she’s broken every one of those rules.

How do you navigate writing with mixed signals?

It’s maddening…like driving in Italy. My one trip to Florence highlights this point. Our car had the green light. We started to go when another car zoomed through a red light. My husband’s Italian colleague slammed the brakes and shrugged it off with, “Red lights. They’re suggestions.”

The same phrase was said in the movie Under the Tuscan Sun. Maybe it’s an Italian thing, but the spirit of those words stayed with me. In writing, it’s good to learn the rules. Then you can break them. After all, your job is to woo your reader, draw them into the world you created.

This is why one rule guides me: Don’t get in the way of your story.

But every traveler needs a roadmap. Here are five suggestions:

  1. To Tag or Not to Tag

You may have heard the only dialogue tags you need are said and ask. It’s true. You can get by with said and ask. But where’s the fun in that? I use whisper, coax, call, cry, murmur, or nothing at all. You know when dialogue sounds clunky. It can happen as easily with said and ask as yell or whimper.

The point is, tell your story. If an offbeat dialogue tag does the trick, be judicious, but go with it. It’s your voice. Don’t be afraid to drive outside the lines.

  1. Nonverbal cues speak louder than words

Less than 10% of our communication comes from what we say. The next tier (more than 30%) comes from vocal elements such as tone, pitch, and rate of speech. The final tier (more than 50%) is pure body language with hands and eyes top contenders.

Here’s a challenge. Grab some paper and create columns for nonverbal cues: tone, pitch, rate of speech, breathing, eyes, eyebrows, mouth, nose, hands, fingers, chin, etc. Then, go through a current manuscript and put a hash in each nonverbal cue column. Did you discover certain writer habits? I once had a reviewer nab me for too much “head snapping” and you know what? She was right!

Mix up your nonverbal cues—like the boob shoulder. Marilyn Monroe made this pose famous: a woman’s coy glance past her shoulder (bare is better). Men view it as sexual. Women generally view it as favorable and friendly.

Actions speak louder than words in life and on the page. From page one to “The End” vary the body language.

  1. Be aware of gender differences in speech patterns and behavior

Men tend to be less profuse with their facial expressions. They will tease or use more vocal cues such as sarcasm in dealing with sensitive topics, while women are more stream of conscious talkers. Men give less eye contact during conversation and frown or squint more. It means they’re mulling over what’s being said. They prefer being shoulder to shoulder in conversation while women prefer being face to face. Women tolerate interruptions more than men.

Don’t be afraid to turn gender norms upside down. While the above is scientifically proven, consider the outliers. There are blunt women and effusively verbal men. Consistency is the key to character authenticity.

  1. It’s in the voice

Do all your characters speak like east coast college grads? If they are east coast college grads, fine. Now dig deeper. Look at their verb choices. Do they have pet phrases? A manner of speaking which reveals personality?

If number three above was the how of character speech, number four is the what. In one of my books, the hero was a well-educated man while the heroine was self-educated. She is fighting tooth and nail for every bit of progress. I made sure her voice reflected that on the page.

Men use commands more often than woman, and in a problematic situation, women ask more questions (to the chagrin of the males in the room). And that brings us to the next interesting point.

  1. Dyads are it

Do you feel overwhelmed when writing a scene with three or more people? It’s a lot to juggle. Intimacy can get lost in the shuffle of setting and action. And what do you do when you’re writing, say a band of brothers series? Secondary characters need to shine for your readers to fall in love with them but not take over the book.

Dyads foster intimacy. In interpersonal communication theory, this means communication really is between two people and two people only. Person A speaks with person B and vice versa. They are both aware Person C is with them, but communication is always between two people. Person A can shift to Person C (thus creating a new dyad and Person B is out of the connection). This is why small group scenes can overwhelm. Ever had feedback like “There was too much going on” or “It was too much of XYZ characters”?

How does this translate to say a boardroom or ballroom scene?

Be aware of the dyads you create. More than ever, each word matters in an ensemble scene. You’ve heard the wisdom, if you show the reader a bat in chapter one, it better come back at later in the story (i.e. foreshadowing). Likewise, with your secondary characters and their dialogue, make it count.

Ask yourself, if their words reveal character? Move the story forward? Or feed the conflict?

If you find you’re writing group scenes, and the heroine and heroine’s arc is drifting, shift gears. Bring them together. Focus on a private moment in a crowd before returning to the ensemble cast. Your reader will feel the connection.

And that’s what dialogue in romance is all about.

Thanks for hosting me here on StoreyBook Reviews and a lesson in Romance University ~ Gina

Excerpt

She yanked the door wide open, blinking at bright sunlight and an even brighter man.

Her breath caught. “Lord Bowles.”

“Miss Turner, how nice to see you again.” His greeting alone could be a proposition the way his voice caressed her name.

She stood mutely, the floor uncertain beneath her feet. Behind him the Beckworth geese waddled through the yard, their orange beaks poking the ground. The rogue followed her?

Her mind spinning, she blurted, “What are you doing?”

Hazel eyes glinted beneath his black tricorn hat. “I’m standing on your doorstep. Will you let me in?”

“No.” She stuffed the crumpled letter in her pocket. “Mr. Beckworth and his brothers aren’t here. They have business in Learmouth Village.”

Creases deepened at the corners of his friendly eyes. Lord Bowles wasn’t put off. There had to be a social nicety for this, but where she came from, if you didn’t want someone at your door, you told them.

“I know they aren’t.” His voice dropped lower. “I came early to see you.”

What was she supposed to do about this? A polite refusal formed, but his lordship’s vision snagged on her cleavage before popping back up to her face.

A scoundrel always showed his true colors.

She crossed her arms and leaned against the doorjamb, all pretense of a proper servant gone. “And who’d be calling? The honorable vicar?”

Lord Bowles chuckled. “I apologize for the surprise. Mr. Beckworth and I are longtime friends. I started to tell you about the connection when we repaired the coach brace.” He paused and took a measured tone. “But our road side conversation went in a new direction before I had the chance.”

She smarted when he said a new direction, a stinging reminder she’d pleaded with him to hide her true identity…from his friend no less. What a neat bit of trouble this was. Did his lordship think she was here to steal the family silver? A laughable thing since the humble Beckworth cottage had none.

“Then you would be the old army friend coming to dinner,” she said flatly.

“I am. Worse for the wear but not…so old.”

She shoved off the doorjamb, her mind assembling all the pieces. His lordship’s gentle humor was a balm in this clumsy moment. Lord Bowles was tonight’s honored guest and the reason for the small feast she was preparing in the kitchen. She wanted to tell him to come back later, but Mr. Beckworth might take offense if she did. What would a proper housekeeper do? There was also the matter of her character, such as it was. She didn’t want Lord Bowles thinking ill of her.

Mildly chastened, she clasped dough-flecked hands together. “I am not a thief, milord. If that’s your concern, please know I’d never cause harm to Mr. Beckworth or his family.”

“I believe you.”

Never had three words sounded so lovely. They’d rolled off his tongue without a second’s hesitation. She hesitated. Shutting the door on Lord Bowles wouldn’t be wise. Letting him in didn’t work either.

“I knew there was a possibility our paths might cross,” she said, stalling in hopes wisdom would strike.

“And you thought I’d pretend we’d met for the first time should we be introduced in the village.”

“Yes.”

Lord Bowles nodded, hands clasped behind his back. “While I don’t believe you’re out to harm Mr. Beckworth, this still makes me complicit in your deception…against my friend.”

Her status hung in the balance. Did he have concerns about her circumstances? Or was he in search of a dalliance? Power was his.

“Does that mean you’ll not mention my real name or The Golden Goose to Mr. Beckworth?”

“I already gave my word.” He flashed a disarming smile. “Now will you let me in?”

She was doomed. Lord Bowles was trouble on two legs. He knew how to open doors with his smile alone. A sculpted lower lip balanced his thinner upper lip, a scale of sensuality and wit. Her solitude and better judgement were about to be breached by a consummate flirt wielding his version of honor. Men were by no means a novelty. She was skilled at brushing them off or being unnoticed when the mood struck, but she’d have to face facts.

London allowed obscurity. Cornhill-on-Tweed would not.

“No harm in showing you to the parlor. Mr. Beckworth and his brothers should return within an hour.”

He stepped inside and passed his hat to her, sunshine crowning his chestnut-colored hair. “Any chance you’ll sit with me awhile?” He stretched free of his black redingote, the collar brushing curls at his nape.

“None. I clean the parlor, milord I don’t sit in it.”

He laughed at her bald rejection, and a single lock slipped free of his queue’s black ribbon. The curl hid behind his ear, the strands a sun-kissed contrast to the rest of his brown hair. The vulnerable lock of hair begged to be neatened. She hung his hat and coat on pegs, glad for her hands to have something to do. Lord Bowles stood less than an arm’s length from her at the cross roads of proper and intimate, a winsome smile on his face.

And her wish to be a respectable domestic slipped a notch.

About the Author

Gina Conkle writes sensual Georgian romance and lush Viking romance. Her books offer a fresh, addictive spin on the genre, with the witty banter and sexual tension that readers crave. She grew up in southern California and despite all that sunshine, Gina loves books over beaches and stone castles over sand castles. Now she lives in Michigan with her favorite alpha male, Brian, and their two sons where she’s known to occasionally garden and cook.

Website * Twitter * Pinterest * Facebook * Goodreads

Giveaway

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on December 5, 2017

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The Christmas Groom by Taylor Hart

Nathan Pennington, aka billionaire attorney, had only one idea on his mind the week before Christmas…forget about the past year and enjoy the beautiful Park City ski slopes. His plan was working, until some annoying ski bunny sprayed snow in his face. Her rudeness wasn’t something he could let slide. Nathan chases the woman down the hill intent on chewing her out, but when face-to-face, he’s struck by the vulnerability and anger in her eyes.

Storm Goodman has heard every weather joke in the book—and she’s not in the mood for another. Lately her life has lived up to her name. After a year of personal setbacks in her skiing career and her grandfather passing, she thought the worst of it was over until Four days before Christmas her lawyer tells her she can’t inherit the ranch her grandfather left her—unless she’s married by noon on Christmas day. Good thing she has a guy to marry—too bad he’s also the same guy who cheated on her last year. She’ll have to put up with him if she wants to keep the land from being turned over to the BLM.

When a mysterious guy shows up, chewing her out for spraying snow on him, she never would have imagined she’d end up on a date with him. Or kiss him! Why does her life have such rotten timing? After night skiing, soaking in the hot tub, and dancing at an old folk’s home, Storm begins to wonder if she can really go through with the marriage to her ex.

Now she and Nathan are faced with a choice—walk away or let the timing of love sync up once and for all.

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Praise for The Christmas Groom

I’m a big fan of the Bachelor Billionaire Romance Series. I read it all in one day and loved every word! Park City is one of my favorite places, and I loved the spunky interaction between Nathan and Storm. I highly recommend. It’s the perfect book to read this Christmas!—Jennifer Youngblood

This was another Billionaire success! The characters were fun, the location was awesome and I loved that it was a clean romance.—Donna C.

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“So don’t stand here and give me life lessons, okay? When people like you already have their millions, they can say anything they want.”

He decided not to correct her statement by informing her he was a billionaire. Instead, he turned for the tent opening.

She sighed. “I’m sorry. Look, it’s just been one of those days, okay?”

He turned back.

She shook her head and reached for another coat, letting out a derisive laugh. “It’s kinda been one of those years to tell you the truth.”

He paused and then moved back, offering his hand. “Let’s start over. I’m Nathan.”

Letting out a puff of air, she looked at his hand, but shook her head.

“Really, let’s start over. I’m Nathan.” He insisted.

“You’re not going to leave until I give you my name, are you?”

He had to smile at her brashness, her sarcasm with a bit of pissed off sprinkled in. Every woman he’d dated for the past few years had been the political type—polished, schooled in the right topics, dressed in the right clothes, and they always said the right things. This woman was refreshing. “Nope, not gonna leave without a name.”

Shaking his hand, she gave him a little smile. “I’m Storm.”

Oh yeah, that fit her.

She pulled back. “And I’m not in the mood for weather jokes, okay? My mother grew up here and was fascinated by the storms that blew through.”

The information interested him, but he didn’t push her. “Nice to meet you.”

She studied him for a moment before grinning. “Man, that’s a practiced smile.” Cocking her head to the side, she lifted an eyebrow. “Completely fake.”

Finding all thoughts of aches and pains and hunger gone, he realized he wanted to know more about her. “Really?”

“Completely.”

“How do you know?”

She gestured to him. “’Cause I’ve been talking to you, and I’ve seen the real one.” She stuck her chin out. “When you were teasing me. Now it looks like you’re running for president.”

Thoughts of his father flashed through his mind. His gut twisted, and he felt himself wincing.

“I’m sorry.” She was giving him an intense look.

He quickly changed the subject. “Tell me about this bad day or year.”

A derisive laugh escaped her as she opened another bin and loaded more merchandise into it. “Ah, no. It’s … complicated.”

Taking a chance, he put his bag of stuff down and moved next to her, folding one of the coats the way she was doing.

She shook her head, but kept packing. “Now you’re helping me?”

“Why not?” He leaned over the table and put it neatly in her bin. Then he reached for another. “It’s the Christmas spirit, right?”

Lifting her eyebrows, she put another coat in the bin and closed it. “So you’re a Mr. Do-Gooder, are you?”

He was the completely opposite kind of guy, and he knew it, but he just grinned and said, “Yep, that’s me.”

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About the Author

Taylor Hart has always been drawn to a good love triangle, hot chocolate and long conversations with new friends. Writing has always been a passion that has consumed her dreams and forced her to sit in a trance for long hours, completely obsessed with people that don’t really exist. Taylor would have been a country star if she could have carried a tune—maybe in the next life.

 

 

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Also by Author Taylor Hart

Nathan’s story’s is a stand alone book. But, there’s more other fun bachelor billionaires who have already fallen in love.
If you wanted to read Bachelor Billionaire Romances in order it would go like this:
The Football Groom
The Country Groom
The Unfinished Groom
The Barefoot Groom
The Masquerading Groom
The Christmas Groom
The Lost Groom
The Undercover Groom
The Lone Star Groom



 

Last Play Romances:
Last Play
The Rookie
Just Play
A Player for Christmas
End Zone
Hail Mary


 

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Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/18/17

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 excerpt, Giveaway, romance on December 4, 2017

 

Trouble in Loveland by Jennifer Peel

What does dating the boss + meddling ex-wife + most adorable three-year-old ever equal? Trouble in Loveland.

At seventeen, Charlee Jensen packed her bags and left her beloved hometown of Loveland, swearing she would never have anything to do with the men that left her heartbroken: her father, the man that taught her heroes can fall; and Ryan Carter, her much older neighbor and teenage crush.

Now eight years later, Charlee has two degrees she never wanted and no job prospects, forcing her to swallow her pride and come home to work for her father’s accounting firm—the same firm where newly divorced Ryan Carter is now a partner.

But trouble starts to stir when Ryan realizes the girl next door is all grown up and completely smitten with his adorable three-year-old. Ryan finds it hard to resist his beautiful, yet annoyingly charming neighbor and coworker, but is torn between his feelings and trying to keep the peace with his ex-wife, the mother of his child. It’s a recipe for trouble. Will Charlee and Ryan find the formula for success?

 

Praise for Trouble in Loveland

“Jennifer Peel’s writing captures you from the start and pulls you in. Trouble in Loveland is a fantastic book and was the perfect escape that I look for when I read. It has it all! Drama, humor, and romance. Highly recommend!” – Becky Monson, Author of The Spinster Series ★★★★★

“I absolutely loved this book! I just discovered Jennifer Peel, and I’m so glad I did. Her writing is fun, the dialogue witty, and her character development brilliant. Trouble in Loveland is the third book I’ve read by this author and it won’t be my last. I am definitely a new fan!!” Cindy Roland Anderson,Author of Under a Georgia Moon ★★★★★

 

 

Trouble in Loveland Excerpt

My heart pounded erratically as Ryan looked up at me and smiled. The butterflies were beyond excited and swearing like sailors. I bit my lip nervously and watched Ryan walk my way. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I knew it didn’t mean anything to him, but not to sound cheesy, it was like a dream come true for me. All I needed was some fog behind him as he sauntered over to me.

He held out his hand as soon as he approached me. “Will you give me the pleasure of dancing with me?” I think that was the sexiest thing I’d ever heard in my life.

I couldn’t talk very well, which was saying something. I always had something to say. I nodded my head and held out my hand, that I prayed wasn’t sweaty. Before he led me away, I tossed the bouquet to Amy, who wore a sly grin.

As we made it to the middle of the floor, I heard the DJ say, “Now don’t they make a lovely couple? Maybe there will be another love connection tonight.” I think I turned about ten shades of red. Ryan didn’t seem fazed by it as he pulled me to him and held me firmly, but gently. His hand rested on my mid-back. With his other hand he took my hand, and instead of holding it out, he brought it in, more intimately, against our bodies. Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” began to play. Ryan was obviously an experienced dancer as his steps kept in time with the rhythm of my new favorite song.

Ryan’s eyes seared into mine. “I was hoping I would get to dance with you tonight.”

“You were?”

“Yes, but you’ve been quite popular.” He pulled back a tad and looked down at my dress. “You look very …”

“Please don’t say grown up.”

He smiled and shook his head. “I wasn’t going to say that, I was going to say …” he tried to think of something.

“You were going to say it, weren’t you?”

He sighed. “Charlee, you really know how to make a guy feel inadequate, don’t you?”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I find I like it.”

“You do?”

He nodded his head. “I also find you to be very …” he hesitated.

“Very what?”

“Beautiful and annoyingly charming.”

“How can somebody be annoying and charming at the same time?”

“See what I mean?” He held me close.

 

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More Trouble in Loveland by Jennifer Peel

Another Timeless Single Romance! Join Jennifer Peel for MORE TROUBLE IN LOVELAND, a companion story to the beloved romance TROUBLE IN LOVELAND.

Charlee Jensen-Carter has been looking forward to her first Christmas with her new husband, Ryan, and her adorable stepson for weeks. Not only is her dad tying the knot, but she’s looking forward to two weeks of no exes, no drama, and especially no trouble. At least that’s what she thinks.

First, she gets talked into wearing red hooker heels again. Next, she finds herself trying to save her dad’s wedding. And if that isn’t bad enough, more than one ex shows up, and she’s suddenly in the middle of more trouble than she ever bargained for.

Will she ever find the right moment to give Ryan the best Christmas present ever? Or will her Christmas hopes and dreams die a fiery death in this comical holiday tale?

Praise for More Trouble in Loveland

“Are you in the mood for a Christmassy book full of love, laughter and swoon worthy moments? Then look no further than More Trouble in Loveland! It’s the perfect afternoon read!” – Kathy Jo, KJ’s Book Nook ★★★★★

“Jennifer Peel’s holiday-themed contemporary romantic comedy novel, More Trouble in Loveland, is a humorous and enjoyable tale . . . highly recommended.” Jack Magnus, Readers Favorite ★★★★★

“I’ve been eagerly awaiting a return trip to Loveland with some of my favorite characters. Oh how I’ve missed Charlee and her very active, sighing and swearing butterflies! Even in the midst of heaping family drama, Charlee and Ryan’s love is the stuff happy sighs are made of.” – Aimee Brown, Getting Your Read On ★★★★★

 

Excerpt

Before I finished up the case and psychotherapy notes, I pulled out my phone and called my favorite number. “I love you.” I didn’t even let him say hello.

“Rough sessions today?”

“How did you know?”

“Because I know you.”

The butterflies in my stomach still erupted when he talked to me like that. Some of them had been on a 24/7 bender ever since we were married six months ago.

“I could move some meetings around and come have lunch with you,” Ryan offered.

“Sounds perfect, but I have my last study group in an hour. I can’t wait until finals are over at the end of this week. And then we get Josh all to ourselves for two weeks. It’s going to be perfect.”

“Even with all the wedding chaos?”

“Thanks for reminding me.” My dad and Felicity were finally getting married on Christmas Eve. Their love affair had been a series of ups and downs. They had planned on getting married in May, but they broke up in April, only to rekindle in June at my surprise wedding. Summer was mostly good for them. The beginning of fall was iffy, but supposedly this was a done deal. I wasn’t so sure, but I was trying to keep my personal and semi-professional feelings out of it. I loved Felicity. I loved my dad. But they had more trouble in Loveland than most couples, as my dad liked to say. Not unlike Danica and Jake, my dad and Felicity had insecurities too. Unfortunately, a lot of them were fueled by Felicity’s mom. That dear needed to get a new hobby and stop bashing my dad. But I couldn’t think about it right now. I had finals, a husband who adored me, and a stepson I loved to pieces.

“I’m sorry. Take a breath, Charlee. I love you. And if you aren’t too tired tonight after Josh’s Christmas concert, I’ll show you exactly how much.”

The butterflies were now swearing. “I’ll do my best. Sorry I’ve been so exhausted lately, you know it’s not you, right?”

“I’ve been wondering,” he teased. “I know you’ve had a lot on your plate lately.”

My schedule had been insane. Between school, practicum, wedding, Ryan, Josh, Victoria (Ryan’s ex-wife), my best friend Krissy and her baby Taylar Ann (Krissy reneged on naming the baby after me. She went with her mom instead. What could I say to that?), I was wiped out. I fell asleep every night as soon as my head hit the pillow. I was being a pitiful newlywed, which was a shame because I loved every part of Ryan, and he was a rock star in the bedroom. “You’re always my main course.”

“I love it when you talk dirty to me like that.”

I laughed. “I love you. I’ll see you tonight.”

“You have no idea how much I look forward to it.”

Believe me, I did.

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About the Author

Jennifer Peel is the award-winning bestselling author of the Dating by Design and Women of Merryton series, as well as several other contemporary romances. Though she lives and breathes writing, her first love is her family. She is the mother of three amazing kiddos and has recently added the title of mother-in-law, with the addition of two terrific sons-in-law. She’s been married to her best friend and partner in crime for a lot longer than seems possible. Some of her favorite things are late night talks, beach vacations, the mountains, pink bubble gum ice cream, tours of model homes, and Southern living. She can frequently be found with her laptop on, fingers typing away, indulging in chocolate milk, and writing out the stories that are constantly swirling through her head.

 

 

Also by Author Jennifer Peel

 

 

Giveaway Details

$25 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway

Ends 12/17/17

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 excerpt, romance on December 2, 2017

Synopsis

Welcome back to New York Times bestseller Sandra Hill’s Cajun country, where love heats up the Louisiana bayou . . .

Former Chicago cop Simone LeDeux is back home in the bayou, sharing a double wide in the Pearly Gates trailer park to help her mama recover from surgery. Her one rule: no Cajun men. Loved and left by too many double-crossing Cajuns, Simone puts bad experience to good use by opening Legal Belles: an agency that uncovers cheating spouses.

Suddenly she’s confronting a two-timer about to swindle his wife out of millions and antagonizing New Orleans bigwigs over an illegal sex club. Adam Lanier learns of the dangerous game Simone is playing . . . and the sexy single dad comes to her aid. Known as a rogue in the courtroom and a player in the bedroom, the ragin’ Cajun has Simone triply on guard.

With their crazy chemistry, danger on their trail, and infamous LeDeux relative Tante Lulu working her magical matchmaking, the bayou has never been this steamy.

Google Play * Indiebound

Excerpt

“I’ve been attracted to you from the first moment we met.”

“I’m surprised that you would admit that. Kind of lessens your odds.”

“You’re assuming this is a game. I’m too old to play games. Actually, they never interested me

much. How about you?”

“Oh, games can be fun sometimes.”

“Tease!” Adam said with a chuckle and nipped her on the chin with his teeth.

It wasn’t a kiss or a bite, but she felt it all the way down to “Red-dy and Willing,” the color of her toenail polish.

Simone remembered her bad history with Cajun men and her resolution to avoid them in the future.

“Um, I think it’s time to cut this flower in the bud. I am not going to do this again.”

“Do what, darlin’?”

That damn “darlin’ ” again! “Get involved with another Cajun man.”

“You’re going to give me the boot just because

I’m Cajun?”

She nodded.

“Well, lucky you, babe, because I’m only half Cajun.”

About the Author

 

Sandra Hill is a graduate of Penn State and worked for more than ten years as a features writer and education editor for publications in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Writing about serious issues taught her the merits of seeking the lighter side of even the darkest stories.

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Comments Off on Excerpt – Cajun Crazy by Sandra Hill @SandraHillAuth #romance #cajunmen
Posted in 5 paws, excerpt, Historical, Review, romance on December 1, 2017

Synopsis

Armed with her six-shooter, Ava De La Vega dips the pen into the inkwell and etches her name on the Esmeralda County tax record book. A formidable force, that’s what her peers have called her. The woman in a man’s world, what did she know of mining ore, silver, and copper? Plenty. And it’s this knowledge that makes her of the richest miners in Nevada in 1903. Of course, it also makes her a target.

Traveling back and forth from Tonopah, Nevada and San Francisco, Ava blazes the trail from the dirt and grime of her mines to the fanciest hotel rooms, enjoying the finest wines, the most decadent meals, and the company of attractive young men.

Unfortunately, for Ava, she doesn’t see Craig Harrison coming.

A miner from the snowy Klondike, Craig has traveled from the harsh Canadian mountains down to city streets of San Francisco. Not looking for work, he’s happy with the comfortable life away from the deep mines, the dirt, and the ever sought-after gold.

Unfortunately, for Craig, he doesn’t see Ava coming.

Review

I was in a reading funk until I picked up this book and was pulled into a story of love, loss, adventure and deception.

I have many thoughts about Ava and her character. She is very strong willed, and at times I thought too strong. However, Ava does have a softer side it just isn’t revealed as much because she is a woman in a man’s world in 1899. Because she owns many mines, she has to be tough and aware of what is going on around her and of those that want to take what she has away.  This does not stop her from enjoying women’s couture.

Craig’s character is a bit deceptive – but not in a bad way. He meets Ava and falls for her right away and perhaps he lets her be the alpha in the relationship in the beginning, but i think that is to break through her defenses and learn to love him and what he can bring to their relationship. While many may consider him a “pretty boy”, he offers wisdom and knowledge to the mines and some issues that have appeared.

The relationship between Ava and Craig seems fast, but then who is to say how long it takes to find your soul mate? While they may be lovers it takes longer for them to admit their feelings and talk about their past with each other. The tension between the two made it harder for me to put the book down.

Overall I really loved this book – imagining life in Nevada as a miner, having a woman own so many mines, a lonely past for both Ava and Craig and the desire to make their lives better.

We give this 5 paws up.

Excerpt

Face after face fluttered past my vision until I finally found the oval one I’d been searching for, a familiar one amongst a sea of strangers.

Sitting in the corner just as John had mentioned, Walter McCoy flipped through the pages of the latest issue of the San Francisco Chronicle. The newspaper glowed with the sunlight, making the parchment appear almost translucent and the black letters jumble together. Dressed in his usual cream-color suit, his sandy blond hair was flecked with silver gray strands that showed his age and matched the salt and pepper color in his handlebar mustache.

My grip tightened on the handbag in my arms so tight my knuckles whitened. Although I desired to cause a scene, doing so would only reflect poorly upon me, not him. Instead, I needed to remain calm and reserved—the picture of sophistication, and yet, still holding the disposition of someone not to underestimate. Reflections of polite behavior I’d learned long ago that would bring me what I wanted faster than raving like a lunatic who would be denigrated to nothing more than a pathetic woman.

“Good afternoon, Mr. McCoy,” I said as I approached him. My stride deliberately calculated with each step.

“Why Miss De La Vega, this is quite the surprise seeing you at the Cliff House, of all places.” Although Water smiled as he peered around yellow parchment, a darkness that clouded through the blue hue of his irises and seemed to deepen his sonorous voice.

Always the man of statute, he spoke and moved slowly, as though he believed this display of eloquence propelled him to a higher social standing above everyone else. In my youth, I thought it did too, but the older I became and the more knowledgeable about the man Walter was, I just found it annoying.

“Are you really so surprised, Mr. McCoy? I mean, we both frequent the place when we are in town, so it’s almost inevitable for us to see one another, isn’t it?”

“I suppose that is so . . . or perhaps, it’s as simple as some of your little messengers around the city informed you of my whereabouts.”

He folded his newspaper, laying it on the table before he fetched his glass of sinfully red wine and took a sip, letting out a satisfied breath.

Anger seethed through my veins.

“At least my spies didn’t follow you around at night while you are going to dinner, or wait around in your hotel lobby for you to leave your room.”

His lips twitched with my accusations, claims he ignored as he asked. “What brings you to San Francisco, business or pleasure?”

“Actually, business. Rather important business.”

His interest piqued, sparkling in the arch of his brow as though he didn’t expect my answer. “Oh really? I believe that is a first for you, is it not? Aren’t you usually in town to . . . enjoy the pleasures of the city and the men living in it?”

“And why would I not enjoy myself if I am here to see to my bank accounts or take pleasure in some rest and relaxation? Honestly, Walter, you act as though you are jealous of me.”

“Sorry to disappoint you, but jealousy isn’t in my nature. It shows weakness, and I am not weak.”

I shrugged my shoulders, hinting to the fact that I also shrugged off his words.

“May I sit for a moment?” I grabbed the back of the chair and slid onto the cushion before he answered my question.

“Well, since you left me no choice, I suppose then it would be my pleasure to enjoy the company of a woman, even if it has to be one such as yourself.”

I laughed. “Oh, Walter, I always have found it amusing that you believe your words can wound me when they don’t.”

His shoulders tensed as his lips curved into a scowl. He grabbed the bottle of wine sitting on the table and filled the empty glass sitting in front of me.

“So what is this important business?” he asked.

“A little of this, a little of that.” I clutched the glass in my fingers and took a sip, toying with his curiosity in order to torture him, even if it was just for a few seconds. Always privy to the gossip, not knowing information bugged him the most in life.

“And is this business with anyone in particular?”

As I cocked my head to the side, my eyes narrowed. “As a matter of fact, it’s you.”

“Me?” He ever so slightly jerked his head. A faint smirk lit his expression and he gulped the rest of the wine in his glass. “Are you finally ready to sell me your land and all your claims, then?”

I placed both of my elbows on the table and clasped my hands together. Tension brewed between us, darkening over the table with an invisible thick haze that I wanted to bathe in. I loved making him squirm inside, believing—even if it was just a moment—that he might finally have what he’d always desired most in life: my land.

“For the rock bottom price you keep offering me? Not a chance in hell.”

“My offers have always been fair market value. It’s not my fault that you have unrealistic expectations when it comes to the net worth of what you own.”

“Fair market value is double what you offered me. Don’t think for one second that I haven’t researched my deeds.”

“I’ve always said the mines are no place for a woman.” Walter poured himself another drink, tapping the top of the bottle against the rim to fend off spilling a single drop. “Rough and rugged, mining requires a strength that the fairer sex just doesn’t possess. You really should consider one of my offers.”

“Ah, yes, the notions that a dainty female shouldn’t own, excavate, or protect a claim.” I leaned back in my chair and crossed my arms. “And yet, here I am, one of the richest land owners in the Tonopah basin—even more than yourself.”

“I suppose you are one of the lucky ones, then.”

“Yes, because it’s luck that keeps me in business.”

He rolled his eyes as though my words were nothing more than a preposterous notion. “If you are not here to sell me your land, then what can I do for you today, Ava?”

“You can stop ordering Billy Jack and your men to attack my homestead.”

Accused of a crime, tautness built through Walter’s chest. Words swam in wrinkles of his face, deepening with every slight twitch of his lips or the furrowing of his brow as though he was thinking of different excuses to lie at my feet. Which would he use? Which untruth would speak from his evil lips? Would he create an elaborate story or simply deny it? Given he had done both in the last few years; the chance ran right down the middle.

“I’m afraid that I have no idea what you are talking about,” he said.

I lifted my glass and sipped the wine again, clicking my tongue as I set it back down. I knew the back and forth game about to occur between us, a battle of wits, a battle of landowners.

I fought to protect my land.

He fought to steal it.

“Is that the stance you are going to take, then?” I asked. “That you know nothing of the recent attack on my homestead?”

“Well, when one isn’t involved then usually they know nothing of the events that transpired.”

“Isn’t involved?”

“That is what I said, isn’t it?” He paused for a moment as if to exaggerate his defense. “Billy Jack and his men haven’t worked for me in over two years. I have no more control over that man than you do. What he does is his own business. I know nothing of his actions, nor do I order him to do my bidding anymore.”

“I highly doubt that.”

“You know, one shouldn’t hold onto resentment and anger when it comes to the past.”

“I don’t hold concern over what happened all those years ago anymore, and I haven’t for a long time.”

The smirk on his lips told me that a rebuttal sat on his tongue, and yet, he didn’t utter a word. Ah yes, another method of denial—silence—as if to say how dare I come at him with this. Did I not know who he was? Did I not know what he was capable of?

I did know, though.

It was he, who didn’t know what I was capable of doing.

“Is there anything else I can do for you today, Ava?” he finally asked. Indifference breathed through the tone of every word.

“I beg your pardon?”

“I’m rather busy and, quite frankly, I do not wish to waste any more of my time speaking with you if you are only going to accuse me of actions I know nothing about.”

“I know you calculated the attack on my homestead.”

He slightly shook his head. “As I told you before, I didn’t.”

“I know you did.”

“But you can’t prove it.”

I rose to my feet and yanked dozens of red satchels from my handbag, dangling them in my fingers for a few minutes before I tossed them on the table. A few of them fell open and coins rolled from the material, dropping to the floor with a few clangs.

Walter scrutinized the bags, but didn’t move an inch. A detail he hadn’t seen coming. A detail that pinned him to the crime. Evidence he couldn’t refute and that condemned him as though he was there that day.

“I’m sorry to inform you that you lost all of your men in the attack,” I continued. “I know you ordered the attack on my homestead.”

I stepped forward until I stood next to him. I leaned down, my face inches from his, and my hot breath whispered against his skin.

“And if you plan another one, I promise that I’ll gun you down myself.”

About the Author

Growing up in Nevada, reading was always a pastime that took second place to trail riding and showing horses. When she did find the time in her youth to curl up with a book, she found enjoyment in the Saddle Club Series, the Sweet Valley High series, and the classics of Anne of Green Gables, The Box Car Children, and Little House on the Prairie. Although, writing always piqued her curiosity, it wasn’t until September 2009 that she worked up the courage to put her passion to paper and started her debut novel.

When she’s not writing, Angela spends her days from dawn to dusk as a stay at home, homeschooling mom. She also works in her garden and takes care of her many farm animals, as well as loves to bake and cook from scratch. She doesn’t show horses anymore, but she still loves to trail ride her paint horse, Honky, as well as enjoys teaching her daughters how to ride their horses, Sunny and Cowboy.

In December 2014, Angela launched Long Valley Press.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on November 29, 2017

Title: The Duke Knows Best

Author: Jane Ashford

Series: The Duke’s Sons, #5

ISBN: 9781492621683

Pub Date: December 5, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

They’re wrong for each other, for all the right reasons…

Lord Randolph Gresham has come to London for one reason only-to find a suitable wife. Verity Sinclair may be intelligent, beautiful, and full of spirit, but her father knows a secret about Randolph that makes her entirely unsuitable as his bride. Not right for him at all, never, not a chance.

Verity knows that Lord Randolph lives in a country parish, and she wants nothing more than to escape to town. He may be fascinating, attractive, rich, and the son of a duke, but she’ll never marry him, nor will she talk to him, flirt with him, walk with him, or dine with him. She’ll sing a duet with him, but only this one time, and only because everyone insists.

But one duet invariably leads to another.

 

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo | Google | IndieBound

Excerpt

Looking around the front hall of Langford House, with its soaring stair and rich marble floor, Verity judged it the grandest house she’d ever entered. Light poured down from high windows, glittered in a huge crystal chandelier, and gleamed in the gold stripes of the wallpaper. A hint of potpourri scented the air, along with beeswax and lemon. The clatter of the London streets didn’t penetrate the gracious silence. “Goodness,” murmured her mother. Verity was determined not to be intimidated.

A liveried footman led them through two beautiful reception rooms to the back of the house. He opened a door and stood back. Verity and her mother stepped over the threshold into a perfectly splendid music room. For a moment Verity forgot everything else as she took in the fine instruments waiting to be played, the older ones adorning the walls, and the piles of expensive sheet music. She could spend hours in a place like this and be blissfully happy, she thought.

And then a tall, stately woman came forward to greet them, and Verity was making her curtsy to the duchess, as well as wondering where Lord Randolph could be.

He hurried in on the heels of that thought. “I beg your pardon,” he said. “I was just… Mama, this is Mrs. Sinclair and Miss Verity Sinclair. Ladies, my mother.”

“Your Grace,” they murmured.

The duchess said, “Welcome to Langford House.” And with the warmth in her blue eyes and the ease of her smile, Verity felt the atmosphere in the room change from grandiose to relaxed. Or perhaps it was simply her own mood that had shifted, she thought. As they sat down and exchanged remarks about the weather and the season, she found she could talk to Lord Randolph’s mother with surprising ease.

“I know you have musical matters to discuss,” said the duchess after a while. She rose. “I will leave you to it. But I wanted to make sure you have all you need, Mrs. Sinclair.”

“You’re very kind.”

“I’ve seen to the arrangements, Mama,” said Lord Randolph.

“Sponge cakes and macaroons?” she asked.

“What else?”

The humorous look they exchanged gave Verity a glimpse into the Gresham family, which seemed a pleasant place. The door opened, and a maid came in with several sturdy working candles. “You said you’d bring some embroidery,” said Lord Randolph to Verity’s mother. “I wanted to make certain you had good light.”

The duchess gave him an approving nod and went out. Lord Randolph made a great production of getting Verity’s mother settled with the candles set just so and a cushion for her back and offers of tea or other refreshment. “So kind,” she murmured as she was settled in the front corner of the room.

Verity noticed that it was the corner farthest from the pianoforte. And that the special candles and cushions—which a less observant person might dismiss as finicky items for a man to consider—effectively rooted Mama at a distance. It was unlikely that she would overhear much of what they said, unless they started shouting. Which she might, if Lord Randolph tried to maneuver her in a similar way. And where had he acquired such skill at diverting chaperones?

“I’ve pulled out piles of music,” he said when they were at last free to begin. He led the way over to the table where the sheets were displayed. “I was thinking we should choose popular pieces rather than anything too complicated. Perhaps even repeat the song we did at Lady Tolland’s.”

Their eyes met, mirroring memories of that astonishing experience. Verity’s cheeks grew hot. A self-conscious silence stretched out. She could actually hear her mother’s needle prick the embroidery canvas.

Lord Randolph cleared his throat. “Ah, our audience at Carleton House will be varied,” he went on. “Not all will be particularly musical. But I’m eager to hear your opinion about the program, of course.”

He stopped and waited for her to speak. He gazed at her as if he actually wanted to know her views, and wasn’t just pausing to give the appearance of listening before telling her what to do. It was a point in his favor. “What about some Italian songs, varied with Scots or Irish ballads?” she suggested. “How long need we sing, do you think?”

“Long enough to satisfy the prince’s wounded vanity,” he responded wryly.

Verity looked down to hide a smile. “That sounds rather difficult to measure. An hour?”

“No more, certainly. We are doing a favor, not putting on a full concert. Shall we say six pieces? With one in reserve in case they insist on more?”

Verity agreed, and they looked through Mozart’s and Haydn’s arrangements of popular tunes and sheets of songs by Robert Burns and Thomas Moore. Langford House appeared to possess any piece one could desire, and Verity envied the bounty. She had to ration her purchases of sheet music on her allowance. The money her grandfather had left her was in trust until she married. And why was she thinking of that now? “‘Robin Adair’ would make a lovely base for a set of variations,” she said.

They bent over the music together. “It would indeed,” said Lord Randolph. He sat at the pianoforte and began to play the simple melody, and then to embellish it. Verity hummed along, following his elaborations. “Just here,” he said, playing intricate series of notes. She caught the idea at once. Spontaneously they sang a verse with the new adornments, their voices blending in a twining harmony. By the end they were staring at each other, mutually astonished.

“Very pretty,” said Verity’s mother from the corner.

It was as if he could predict exactly what she meant to sing, Verity thought. Or, perhaps, his musical impulses ran in precisely the same direction. The phrase in tune took on a whole new meaning as they ran through the entire song, consulted briefly, and then tried it again. The result was equally lovely and interesting, but different with the varying choices of the moment. This must be what it was like to be intoxicated, she thought, as she fell into the music and a give and take with this man she barely knew— somehow they vibrated to the same pitch.

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 was part of what led her to study English literature and travel widely in Britain and Europe. She has written historical and contemporary romances, and her books have been published in Sweden, Italy, England, Denmark, France, Russia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Spain, as well as the United States. Jane has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award by RT Book Reviews. She lives in Beverly Hills, CA.

 

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Posted in Christian, excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on November 27, 2017

TOO FAR DOWN

Cimarron Legacy Book 3

by

MARY CONNEALY

  Genre: Western Historical Christian Romance

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Date of Publication: October 3, 2017

Number of Pages: 322

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With Danger Drawing Ever Closer, The Boden Clan Risk Losing Their Ranch Forever

Having returned home to the ranch, Cole Boden finds himself caught between missing his time back east and appreciating all that New Mexico Territory offers. Sure, he fights with his siblings now and then, but he does care for them. He enjoys his new job running the mine and, when he’s honest, he admits that Melanie Blake captures his interest in a way no other woman ever has.

Melanie has been a friend to the Bodens forever. A cowgirl who is more comfortable with horses and lassoes than people, she never expected to find herself falling for someone, particularly for refined Cole Boden, a Harvard graduate who can’t seem to make up his mind about staying in New Mexico.

When a deadly explosion damages the CR Mining Company, the Bodens realize their troubles are not behind them as they thought. Shadowy forces are still working against them. Melanie is determined to help Cole and the family finally put an end to the danger that’s threatened all of them. But will putting herself in harm’s way be more dangerous than anyone expected?

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Praise for Too Far Down

“Connealy crafts relatable characters who will inspire readers with their love, loyalty, and fortitude, and the mystery remains intriguing until the end.” Publishers Weekly

“Recommended for those who enjoy a fast, smart historical-set suspense.” RT Book Reviews

EXCERPT: CHAPTER ONE, PART ONE

TOO FAR DOWN

BY MARY CONNEALY

 

Skull Gulch, New Mexico Territory

February 1881

 

An explosion brought Cole Boden to his feet. His chair slammed backward into the wall. Cole ran for his office door and ripped it open.

Murray Elliot, his assistant, rounded his desk in the outer office. “What happened?”

A second explosion rocked the whole building.

Cole didn’t bother responding. He charged outside into the winter chill, just in time to duck flying rocks from the mountaintop. He threw himself back inside as stones blasted right over his head with the force of cannonballs.

“Murray, get down!” Cole grabbed at the man who’d responded much more cautiously and was well behind. He tackled Murray to the floor just as another explosion went off.

The log wall of the office buckled. This building was small but solid, so the rocks were coming with terrific force. Rocks sprayed in through the open door and smashed into Murray’s desk.

“What is happening?”

“I don’t know.” Cole glared at the man. “Something blew up. We’re not blasting today, are we?”

“Nope, but we just got a supply of dynamite in.”

“Where is it?” Cole imagined a wagonload of dynamite, and explosion after explosion. But no, that’d be just one big explosion.

“It’s stopped.” Murray lifted his head.

“Is the dynamite stored in that big cave?”

“Just like always, boss.”

Cole knew explosives, and he knew they brought them in by the wagonload. And they stored them in a cold cave a good distance from where anyone worked. Even if they exploded, they shouldn’t have done anything but rock that cave. At the worst it might seal the mouth of it.

Three explosions and nowhere near a wagonload had blown—which meant there was plenty more to come.

“I’m heading for the big cave. You stay in here.”

“No, I’m coming with you.”

“You aren’t.” Cole heaved himself to his feet. “It’s my mine and my risk.”

“I’m coming, Cole.” Murray was up.

A fourth explosion sent a rock the size of Cole’s head slamming through the roof.

Murray fell onto his backside, then scrambled into the kneehole of his desk. He’d been hired for his brains, not his guts.

Cole was glad he’d been delayed from running outside. But he also knew he was going now, and it was most likely a blamed fool idea.

“Stay under there until we’re sure the explosions have stopped.” He hoped Murray stayed put under the solid oak desk. It should protect him even if the whole building collapsed.

Cole raced out the door to see the smoldering ruins of the newly opened mine only about a hundred yards from his office. The entrance was collapsed, and he knew men were trapped inside. Before he could deal with that, though, he had to make sure the dynamite was done blowing up.

He charged toward the cave.

He hoped and prayed his men inside the new mine were all right. If they’d been far enough in, around the corner from the blasts, out of the line of any flying debris, they should still be alive. The entrance had collapsed, but they’d shored the mines up with thick timbers. There was a good chance the inside of the mine was still intact.

Once he got near the cave, grit and dust filled the air. Choking, Cole jerked his kerchief out of his pocket and covered his mouth. His eyes burned, but he had to see. Cole raced faster, thinking of all that could have gone wrong, all the men who could be hurt.

He saw one still form on the ground, so covered with dust he couldn’t identify the man. Yet Cole could see clearly enough to know the man was beyond help.

Running, stumbling over rocks, barely able to breathe, Cole finally reached the cave. Outside it was a burning fuse, heading for a wooden box, torn open, full of explosives.

He slid on his knees to beat the fuse from burning down. It ran shorter by the second. Cole fumbled for the knife he kept in his boot as he crawled the last foot through the rubble. He caught the fuse only inches from burning down. He slit the sparking fire with one slash.

He looked down the side of the mountain. The office of the CR Mining Company was near the top of Mount Kebbel, with only its snowcapped peak higher. The CR leased claims to many men, all spread over a hundred square miles. A few dozen of them were right here close to headquarters.

Cole’s eyes swept down the long, steep slope dotted with mine entrances and saw boxes of dynamite burning at a bunch of them. Enough to account for nearly every box they had in storage. Cole could never reach them all in time.

Yards away, he saw the next fuse burning toward a wooden box. Thinking furiously, he saw this fuse was longer. Whoever’d done this wanted the explosives to go in separate blasts, and the boxes were far enough apart not to be set off by an earlier explosion. Men were deep in their mines, so they might hear the explosions, and they might not.

This time, with the men inside, was deliberate. Midmorning. All the miners were hard at work at this time of day and very few were outside. The explosions would bury them alive.

(Click to read PART TWO on the 11/29/17 Lone Star Book Blog Tours stop with A Novel Reality blog.)

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

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 Blog ║ Facebook

 

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery on November 21, 2017

Death at the Midnight Dragonfly
Argent Ocean Publishing (November 10, 2017)
Paperback: 216 pages

Synopsis

On the fourth day of Christmas,
In Mercy, Mississippi….

Four suspects lying,
Three sleuths a sleuthing
Two clues a hiding
And a very, very dead body.

It’s the Christmas season in Mercy, Mississippi. But things are far from jolly.

For Vlad Templeton the sleepy little town where he spent his childhood provides the perfect place to conduct his state funded sleep study. But when the local bank manager, who was participating in the study, is found dead on his doorstep, is it a set up…or is Vlad somehow involved?

But, when someone makes an attempt on Lily Gayle’s and Dixie’s life, the two realize they better move fast….or they might end up sleeping forever.

Excerpt

Bah Humbug. I thought to myself as I stood in the chilly December air of downtown Mercy later that evening. Across the parking lot, in the old train depot building, party goers dressed in their Christmas best gathered in groups beyond the un-curtained windows.

Folks must have already been into the Christmas punch based on the animated conversations that appeared to be going on inside. Big smiles. Arms waving. Oops! I saw a splash of the punch swish over the side of a cup being waved around and splash onto the reindeer sweater of Marlene from the newspaper. Marlene screamed, jumped back and slammed into someone I couldn’t see from my angle. She looked to be apologizing pretty hard to whoever it was.

I sighed, wishing I felt more animated about attending the Mistletoe Magic Extravaganza, as the annual Mercy Christmas Party was called.

But I just didn’t seem to be in the Christmas spirit. I’d had a very busy couple of months with dressmaking. Everything from Renaissance to Old South for women belonging to various historical groups wanting new dresses for their own Christmas celebrations. Maybe that had made my personal Christmas cheer go out the window because I seemed to be over the whole merry and bright thing even though Christmas wouldn’t be here for two more weeks.

Why, I hadn’t even put up my Christmas tree or stockings. And forget about any seasonal display on my big front porch. A shocking state of affairs according to my best friend, Dixie. She’d been over to the house just yesterday complaining about my lack of enthusiasm. I’d poo-poo’d her words, but deep down, I knew she was right.

And now, here I was, lurking outside the annual town Christmas party in a decidedly non-merry state of mind. The party was pretty much a command performance though. I kicked the tire of a truck in frustration. The only effect it had was to scuff the toe of my brand new leather boots.

I sighed again. Maybe a cup, or two, of Miss Edna’s special recipe Christmas punch might set me up right for the party. Good thing this was an adults only party and those who didn’t care for alcohol in the punch brought their own drinks. Funny how traditions come about in small towns.

However, Miss Edna came with Miss Edna’s punch. And ever since she’d worked with Dixie and me a few weeks ago to help solve the mystery of who killed Luxen Natolovich up at the Midnight Dragonfly Inn, and who killed the wolf man before that, she bout near drove me crazy wondering when our next ‘case’ would come along.

Personally I thought she was grieving over her old flame and how everything had come out about his life that prevented him from asking her to marry him all those years ago. I considered myself lucky that she hadn’t brought any of that stuff up again at the breakfast this morning. Guess she got distracted by the information about Vlad and his sleep study.

Oh, Lordy. Would Vlad be here at the party? I sure as shootin’ didn’t want my first meeting with him after all these years to be in full view of most of the town.

About the Author

Susan calls McNairy County, TN her home ground even though she has moved away. It was here, at Bethel Springs Junior High School that she began her writing career with two friends. They formed their own little writers group that was so secret they were the only ones who knew it existed. She still has some of the stories they wrote carefully preserved in a loose leaf binder and tucked away for safety.

She has worked in retail management, briefly for the Census Bureau and for many years in the investment/insurance industry in the regulatory compliance arena. All of which are left brain activities. So she exercises her right brain activity with reading and writing…just to keep both sides even.

Reading has been a passion since she was very young. As a toddler, her mother read to her from her ‘baby books’ and her Mother tells a story about her holding one of them upsidedown and ‘reading’ by repeating the story verbatim from memory.

Susan writes mysteries set in the big city of Memphis, TN and the fictional small town of Mercy, Mississippi.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on November 16, 2017

Title: The Right Kind of Reckless

Author: Heather Van Fleet

Series: Reckless Hearts, #2

ISBN: 9781492658511

Pub Date: November 7, 2017

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Synopsis

Maxwell Martinez

I’m in love with a woman I can’t have, and there’s absolutely nothing I can do to stop myself from falling.

The problem? Her brother’s my best friend.

I shouldn’t want her this much. Not when it goes against the bro code. Not when I’ve never been able to commit to a woman for longer than a night.

But one look into her eyes and I’m a mess for her. She’s my everything. And I have to walk away with nothing.

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Excerpt

Addie and I watched the guys play round after round of Skee-Ball, while Chloe jumped and cheered and stole the occasional ball from each of their rows. No matter what my state in life was, I was happy the three of them had found one another.

“Here, let’s get our picture drawn.” Knocking me out of my woolgathering, Addie guided me toward one of the caricature sketchers who sat just outside the carnival gates. The man had a unibrow the size of Lake Michigan’s shoreline, and his mustache was curled at the end, handlebar style. But his work was amazing. Charcoal sketches with colored eyes, balloon- shaped heads with movie-s tar hair.

“How much for both of us?” Addie asked, fishing through her purse. We sat on the stools, as directed, our shoulders touching.

“Thirty- five,” the guy said, his fake French accent too thick to be believable.

I groaned and looked at my friend. “Seriously? That’s too much.”

Seriously. We have to do this.” Addie mocked me. “Look at how cute those are.” She pointed to a couple with a heart surrounding their heads. Little doves swooped in the air around them, carrying heart balloons in their beaks. Had to hand it to the guy. He was talented.

“I’ve got this, ladies.” I looked up at the sound of Max’s deep voice, finding him searching through his wallet. He pulled out the money, handed it to the artist, then lifted his gaze to meet mine. A soft smile covered his bow-shaped lips, and everything inside me stirred to life at the view.

Addie faked a cough, then pressed a hand over her stomach. “Oh…oh no. I don’t feel very good, guys.”

I faced her and narrowed my eyes as she stood. Don’t, I mouthed, already knowing her game.

Ignoring me, she looked at Max and said, “You’ll take my place, won’t you, Max?” She batted those brown eyes and twirled a lock of her dark hair. No doubt her way of getting anyone and everyone to say yes to her. “Lia here was dying to get her picture drawn.”

Oh, the little liar…

Max nodded, immediately taking her empty seat to my right. With an extra hop in her step, Addie walked away, her ponytail swinging back and forth more the closer she got to Collin and Gavin and Chloe. I wanted to pull it out of her head.

“All right, look this way.” I blinked at the sound of the artist’s voice, my body far too aware of Max’s heady scent.

God, why did he have to smell so good? Fit so perfectly against me?

“You’re much too stiff.” The artist tsked from behind his easel. “Here, wrap your arm around zee pretty lady’s waist, like so.”

I sucked in a breath as Max’s hand was guided along my back, ending at my side with his fingers tucked just under the edge of my T- shirt. I swallowed, shifting in my seat and instantly remembering our kiss— the way he’d moved his mouth over mine.

Warmth pooled low in my stomach, drifting in between my thighs. His touch was like adrenaline, kick- starting my orgasm-starved body to life.

“Chin on her shoulder, lips close to her ear…” I shuddered as Max followed the artist’s directions to a T, the stubble on his chin igniting a stormy thunder inside me. Max seemed unaffected, his chest rising and falling at an even rate, while mine was suddenly in asthmatic mode.

“Relax,” Max whispered in my ear, his warm breath grazing my neck. “I’m not gonna bite ya.”

I shut my eyes and shifted once again, the ache between my thighs becoming unbearable. “I didn’t want to do this,” I finally murmured, refocusing on the artist.

Max laughed softly, his chest vibrating against my back and shoulder. “I know you didn’t.”

My eyebrows pushed together in annoyance. “Then why did you agree to sit here?”

“Because Addie wouldn’t give up until I did.” He sighed, far too relaxed compared to me.

I was jumping, itching, crawling with…something, yet he was unaffected. Which only further emphasized that he didn’t want me the way I did him.

“Plus, she folds my underwear, remember? Gotta make sure she doesn’t stick ants in them or something.”

“Yeah, like Addie would ever stoop to your level.” I couldn’t help but grin, my nerves easing slightly.

He squeezed my ribs. “You would.”

I turned to face him, our noses inches apart. “Damn right I would.”

A slow nod later, he moved even closer, our bodies in sync…

My smile fell away. “Maxwell,” I whispered, so lost in his dark eyes that I couldn’t concentrate. The apology was there on my tongue like earlier, but the need weighing me down was even heavier. How could I ever be just friends with a guy who was likely to break my heart, no matter what we were to each other?

“Tell me why you kissed me that night.” He looked at my lips, a serious glint in his eyes.

Blood rushed to my face at his out-o f- the- blue question. My composure slipped as confusion took its place. Why was he asking me this?

“Because I…” I gulped. “I owed you, remember? For bailing me out and for keeping me safe from those guys.”

Something shifted in his eyes. Disappointment? I squeezed my eyes shut at the thought. When I looked back at him, I knew I was imagining things, because flirty, fun Max was back, winking at me. “Well then.” He cleared his throat. “That’s good to know.”

“What’s good to know?” I frowned.

“That you still owe me.”

About the Author

Contemporary romance author Heather Van Fleet is a stay-at-home-mom turned book boyfriend connoisseur. She’s a wife to her high school sweetheart, a mom to three little girls, and in her spare time you can find her with her head buried in her Kindle, guzzling down copious amounts of coffee. Heather was born and raised in Moline, Illinois, where she lives with her wonderful family.

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