Posted in christmas, excerpt, romance on November 14, 2017

Synopsis

It’s Christmastime again in Heartbreaker Bay!

When Sean O’Riley shows up at the Hartford Bed & Breakfast for his older brother’s bachelor weekend, he’s just hoping to make it through the weekend. What he’s not expecting is to come face to face with the woman he lost his virginity to a decade ago—a woman he’s never really forgotten.

The last time Lotti Hartford saw Sean, she told him she loved him while he said nothing. Now, ten years later, she’s just looking for a good time. For once, she wants to be the wild and free one, and Sean – the good time guy – is the perfect candidate.

But as the weekend continues, Sean realizes that after a lifetime of being the hook-up king, he’s ready to find happily-ever-after, and he wants it with Lotti. But will she open her heart to him again? As Christmas sweeps through the little B&B, he can only hope love and magic are in the air.

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Excerpt

At the empathetic tone in Sean’s voice, Lotti’s heart and stomach and head all clenched in unison. “What do you mean you can’t give me what I want?” she asked. “All you have to do is walk away.”

“Tried that already,” he said. “And it was the biggest mistake of my life.” He brought her hand up to his mouth and met her gaze over their entwined hands.

He was looking at her like . . . well, she wasn’t sure what was going on in his head, but her thoughts were racing along with her pulse.

“You’re incredible, Lotti. I hope you know that.” Very slowly, clearly giving her time to object, he pulled her into him.

Her breath caught at the connection and his eyes heated in response as he slid a hand up her spine and then back down again, pressing her in tight to him from chest to thighs and everywhere in between. His nose was cold at the crook of her neck, but his breath was warm against her skin. She felt his lips press against the sensitive spot just behind her ear and she shivered. “You’re trembling,” he said, his voice low. “Are you cold?”

“No,” she whispered. Try the opposite of cold . . .

“Nervous?”

“No.” Not even close. The way his mouth moved across her skin was making her warm all over. Not that she could articulate that with his body pressed to hers and his fingers dancing over her skin. She was literally quivering as the memories of what it felt like to be touched by him washed over her, as if no time at all had gone by.

Yes, she’d let him think that their time together had sucked for her. But it hadn’t. Not even close. That long-ago night he’d evoked feelings and a hunger in her that she’d never forgotten. “I’ve just had a long day,” she said.

“I know. I’m going to make it better.” He pressed a kiss at the juncture of her jaw and ear before he made his way to her lips for a slow, hot kiss, his mouth both familiar and yet somehow brand-new. She was so far gone that when he pulled back she protested with a moan, but he held her tight, staring down at her with heated eyes. “Just checking,” he murmured.

“Checking what?”

“That you want this as badly as I do.”

 

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 Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, Monday, mystery on November 6, 2017

Scrapbook of Murder (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
6th in Series
Self Published (October 2, 2017)
Print Length: 171 pages

Synopsis

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but “normal” deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

Excerpt

“Lupe called me at work this afternoon,” I told Zack. We had escaped after dinner to his apartment. Situated above my detached garage, it afforded us a spot out of earshot of my mother-in-law Lucille, whose contempt for Zack grew exponentially with each passing day. Being permanently saddled with the woman was hard enough on a good day. Today was not a good day.

Zack finished pouring two glasses of chardonnay and handed one to me. I wandered over to the sofa and curled up in the corner. He followed, taking a seat next to me. The seconds ticked by. He shifted his body to face me. I suppose he was waiting for me to say something further, but my brain had stopped sending signals to my mouth.

Zack continued to wait. And wait. And wait some more. Finally he asked, “Should I run an errand during this extremely long, pregnant pause, or are you planning to elaborate sometime soon?”

I heaved a sigh, then polished off half my wine before answering him. “She asked if she could come over this evening to talk.”

“About?”

I speared him with my best duh! look. “Isn’t it obvious?”

“You have to stop blaming yourself, Anastasia. You’re not responsible for what happened.”

Right. And the captain of the Titanic wasn’t responsible for steering his ship into a giant iceberg. “Carmen is dead because of me. How can Lupe not blame me?”

Lupe Betancourt is Carmen Cordova’s daughter. She grew up down the street from me. Years ago she occasionally babysat my boys. Now they often babysit her kids. Or they did. I doubt Lupe will want any of us Pollacks in her home ever again.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago Lawrence Tuttnauer, my mother’s sixth and latest husband, was arrested for orchestrating the cold-blooded murders of two of my neighbors, Lupe’s mother Carmen and Betty Bentworth. He’d never met either of them. His hit man had chosen them at random because Lawrence wanted my attention diverted from the suspicious death of his daughter Cynthia. I didn’t know it at the time, but I’d poked my nose into the wrong person’s business.

As it turned out, so had Cynthia, but she’d gone a step further and threatened her old man. So Lawrence did what any connected guy in New Jersey would do—he took out a contract on her. No Father of the Year Award for him.

Although I had no regrets over the role I’d played in bringing Lawrence Tuttnauer to justice, guilt consumed me regarding the deaths of Betty and Carmen—especially Carmen. Not that nasty Betty Bentworth deserved a bullet to the skull, but no one had shed any tears over her demise, unlike the neighborhood’s reaction to Carmen’s gruesome death days before Halloween.

It doesn’t help that every time I look at Lupe, I see a younger, thinner version of her mother. She’s a living reminder of my culpability in her mother’s death.

Mama and Lawrence married a month ago after a whirlwind courtship. She said he owned a commercial laundry. Turns out his enterprise laundered greenbacks, not linens, and he serviced only one client—the mob.

My name is Anastasia Pollack, and less than a year ago I led the life of a typical suburban, middle-class working mom. That all changed the day my husband dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. I thought he was at a sales meeting in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I also thought we were debt-free with a comfortable nest egg squirreled away.

Instead, I discovered Karl Marx Pollack, now dubbed Dead Louse of a Spouse, had carried on a long-standing affair with Lady Not-So-Lucky. Karl not only gambled away our savings and our teenage sons’ college funds, he’d taken out a second mortgage on the house, failed to pay our taxes for the last few years, maxed out our credit cards, and allowed his life insurance policy to lapse.

Strapping me with debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan wasn’t the worst of his sins, though. Nor was the homicidal loan shark he’d stiffed for fifty thousand dollars who demanded I pay up—or else. No, Karl’s worst sin was sticking me with a communist mother-in-law from Hades.

I stared into my half-empty wineglass, avoiding eye contact with Zack, and forced my brain out of stall-mode. “I asked Lupe to meet me here.”

“In my apartment?”

“I hope you don’t mind.”

The apartment used to be my home office. Zack is an award-winning photojournalist. Possibly a spy. Probably both. Anyway, prior to moving above my garage, he lived in Manhattan. However, he’d suffered through one too many police raids due to suspicious neighbors claiming he was operating a meth lab in his darkroom. He was on the hunt for a quiet suburban location without shared walls; I was desperate for rent money. The apartment over my garage fulfilled both of our needs.

Less than a year ago we were complete strangers. Now we’re much more—the one and only good thing to come out of Dead Louse of a Spouse’s betrayal.

“Do you want me to stay, or should I go run that errand?” asked Zack.

“You really have an errand to run?”

“No, but I’m sure I can find something to do.”

“Are you kidding? Don’t you dare leave me alone. I need all the moral support I can get.”

About The Author

USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. newsletter at

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November 1 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

November 2 –  My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

November 3 – Cozy Up With Kathy – SPOTLIGHT

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

November 5 – A Blue Million Books – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

November 6 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

November 7 – Teresa Trent Author Blog – SPOTLIGHT

November 8 – Varietats – REVIEW

November 9 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

November 10 – Jane Reads – REVIEW

November 11 – A Holland Reads – SPOTLIGHT

November 12 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW

November 13 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

November 14 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in excerpt, Middle Grade, Spotlight on November 5, 2017

Synopsis

Pounce and the Riddle of Fire is a middle grade fantasy novel. It tells the story of a tiger-folk cub that undertakes a grand quest to earn his name of maturity and the right to lead the tribe. The quest he is given seems impossible. How could anyone find the lost Saber tribes of the Eastern Jungles? And if he doesn’t, he’ll be banished forever.

With no other choice, Pounce begins his journey across the treacherous realm of Fire, but soon finds he is not alone. A human girl with a secret and two gazelle-folk trying to reach the city of Torch View decide to join him. The four unlikely companions find themselves battling elemental monsters and fierce Fire creatures. Unable to turn back, Pounce must rely on the help of his new friends to uncover the secret of the Riddle of Fire as he continues his quest.

This fantasy adventure is the second book in the Battlemental universe and combines action and humor to show that people from different backgrounds often make the best friends. Several interior illustrations depict the heroes and some of the strange creatures they meet.

Excerpt

Sneer had a forty-yard lead on me. He raced toward the side of the mountain that sloped straight up to the cave mouth. Going in from that direction made it more likely that the mother Slam-Slide would see him approaching, but that also allowed him to use his longer stride to quickly outdistance me.

Even though all of the cubs in the village had been told how dangerous it was to play anywhere near the Slam-Slide cave, the warning had only served to increase our interest. I had climbed nearly to the top enough times with Tumble and Doze to know that if I scaled the back side of the mountain I would eventually come across a rough path that led to the cave.

That was a great idea except for the fact that the rocks on the backside of the mountain were loose and if I made one mistake I’d tumble down the rocky cliff and probably die. But that was my only chance to beat Sneer. There was no way I could keep up with him in a straight-out race.

“I guess Pounce is giving up on the challenge already,” one of Sneer’s friends called out. The laughter from the rest of the group followed me as I sprinted to the section of mountain I was familiar with.

The first fifty feet weren’t any real problem. Plenty of large boulders had crashed down the mountain and I was able to spring from one to the next, going higher and higher with each leap. One of the rocks rolled out from under me as I pushed off from it. I flailed with my claws and managed to sink them into a mountain cleft above me.

My chest heaved as I struggled to catch my breath, but I refused to let that slow me down. Sneer had to be close to the top by now—unless he planned to charge straight into the cave. And nobody was that stupid.

By the time I climbed half-way up the mountainside, my arms and legs burned with the exertion. If I hung from the rock in an effort to rest I might not be able to continue climbing and Sneer would win the challenge. I pushed myself to continue.

I reached up to pull myself over a ledge and my claw slid along the stone, causing me to lose my balance. One second I was scaling the side of the mountain like an eight-legged rock monkey and the next I’m hanging from one claw. A fall from this height wouldn’t hurt me—it would kill me.

Deep in my chest, a roar swelled in power until I couldn’t contain it any more. I let loose with a sound that felt as if it shook the very stone in front of me. Renewed strength, however temporary, flowed into my arms and legs. I reached up and grabbed the ledge with my other claw and pulled myself up.

There was just enough room on the ledge for me to rest on my side. I gulped great lungfuls of air and hoped I didn’t pass out and fall over the edge. My mind screamed that I needed to move. Every moment I stayed here put Sneer closer to winning the challenge.

With my arms and legs still aching from the climb, I managed to stand up and slide my feet along the thin stone path. My muscles trembled with each step. With my night vision, the path ahead of me shone light gray against the blackness of the sky.

After about twenty feet, the path widened enough for me to walk as long as I kept my shoulders twisted away from the mountainside. I was still breathing heavily when the trail leveled off and joined the broad, open area in front of the cave.

My breaths sounded like a tornado in my ears. Any moment now, I expected the mother Slam-Slide to hear my panting and wheezing. If she did, I had nowhere to go . . . except down.

Then I spotted Sneer. He was nearly to the mouth of the cave, slinking from boulder to boulder. His head turned in my direction and his eyes locked with mine. He froze in mid-slink. The jaw-dropping, wide-eyed expression he gave upon seeing me was worth every bit of ache and strain it took to reach the top of the mountain before him.

He mouthed, “Eat my smoke.”

Without waiting for me to respond, Sneer tensed his muscles and charged into the cave. I hadn’t thought he was that stupid, but apparently I was wrong. A moment later, a thunderous bellow sounded from inside the cave. It was the kind of blood-thinning roar that any Saber would be proud to have made.

Except it wasn’t a Saber roar. That was the Slam-Slide mother announcing her intention to turn Sneer into tiger paste.

Sneer bolted out of the cave, running full speed down the incline.

The Slam-Slide flew after him, sending chips of stone flying everywhere as her massive hooves struck the mountain rock. She was at least ten feet tall, had dark brown skin that was cracked like dried mud, and a pair of shiny brown horns that were lowered to skewer her foe. Slam-Slides were humanoid creatures of Earth and despite her large size she was less likely to trip and fall going down the mountain than a Saber.

Sneer was in some serious trouble.

I watched as the Slam-Slide lurched forward and slammed her fists on the ground. A wave of stone rolled down the mountainside, tossing Sneer in the air. Fortunately for Sneer that put him farther away from the upset mama battlemental. As long as he kept running he should be able to outdistance the Slam-Slide.

And while the two of them were busy getting to know one another, I snuck inside the cave and searched for the skull-shaped birth fragment that would permit me to win the challenge. Fragments were scattered everywhere. It took more time than I wanted to spend inside before I found the right one—and the baby Slam-Slide.

The oversized baby was standing almost on top of the necessary birth fragment. I shuffled forward, hoping a slow approach would keep me from scaring the young battlemental. Apparently, that wasn’t really a concern. The Slam-Slide baby screeched at me and then wobbled forward on unsteady legs.

These guys were some cranky battlementals.

I stepped off to one side as the young Slam-Slide lunged at me. The Slam-Slide hit the cave floor and slid a couple of feet. I reached down and grabbed the fragment and was almost out the cave entrance when the baby started wailing. It sounded like a couple of rocks being scraped against one another.

Climbing down the rocky face of the mountain would be trickier than making the trip up here. If I took the same path as Sneer and the Slam-Slide I could veer off to one side to avoid being seen and then sprint to the finish line. Besides, Mama Slam-Slide seemed pretty focused on catching Sneer.

Using my legs to slow my descent just enough to avoid tripping, I sailed down the path. Up ahead of me, Sneer dodged a clumsy attempt from the mama Slam-Slide to grab him. He looked in my direction. I smiled, waved, and continued past him.

The slope leveled out. A few hundred yards ahead of me stood the Saber gathering that had been watching the contest. They were still too far away for me to see the expressions on their faces, but their body language told me that none of them were particularly happy to see me win.

Then I heard a scream.

About the Author

RANDY LINDSAY is a world traveler. Which sounds impressive until you realize the worlds he visits exist only in his mind and on the pages of his novels. He claims to prefer this method of sightseeing because he can stop at any time, go to the kitchen, and indulge his ice cream addiction. When he isn’t busy making things up he likes going to movies with his wife to watch what other people have made up and plays board games with his children who are in the habit of making up the rules as they go along.

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

A GOOD GIRL

by

JOHNNIE BERNHARD

  Genre: Southern Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Review Press

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Date of Publication: March 7, 2017

Number of Pages: 288

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

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

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

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

 

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Praise for A Good Girl

*2017 Kindle Book Award Finalist*

*Over 50 5 Star Reviews*

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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October 26-November 4, 2017

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26-Oct Excerpt Hall Ways Blog
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28-Oct Author Interview Reading by Moonlight
29-Oct Guest Post Tangled in Text
30-Oct Review Missus Gonzo
31-Oct Notable Quotable Texas Book Lover
1-Nov Review Syd Savvy
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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Science Fiction on November 3, 2017

Title: Perfect Gravity

Author: Vivien Jackson

Series: Wanted and Wired, #2

ISBN: 9781492648192

Pub Date: November 7, 2017

Synopsis

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

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

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

 

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Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Her mouth opened, but she didn’t speak.

About the Author

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

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

Title: A Very Cowboy Christmas

Author: Kim Redford

Series: Smokin’ Hot Cowboys, #3

Pub Date: October 3, 2017

Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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A note from Kim Redford

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

“Are you in a hurry?”

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

“You want to step away from Celeste?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About the Author

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

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance on October 27, 2017

Synopsis

Ewan Mostyn thinks a job as a duke’s daughter’s bodyguard will be easy—but Lady Lorraine has a few tricks up her sleeve that spark an undeniable passion

Fiercely loyal to his friends and comrades, Ewan Mostyn is the toughest in a group of younger sons of nobility who met as soldiers and are now trying desperately to settle back into peaceful Society. Ewan trusts his brawn more than his brains, but when he’s offered a job watching the Duke of Ridlington’s stubbornly independent daughter, he finds both are challenged.

Lady Lorraine wants none of her father’s high-handed ways, and she’ll do everything in her power to avoid her distressingly attractive bodyguard—until she lands herself in real trouble. Lorraine begins to see Ewan’s protectiveness in a new light, and she can only hope that her stoic guardian will do for her what he’s always done—fight for what he loves.

Excerpt

Lady Lorraine manages to sneak off to meet Francis, her would-be-lover in the garden. Ewan Mostyn tracks them down and interrupts Lady Lorraine trying to convince Francis to kiss her.

_______________________________________________________________

“Kiss me,” she said, looking up at Francis with adoring eyes the bastard did not deserve in the least. “I could wait forever if you would but kiss me.”

It was perhaps the silliest speech Ewan had ever heard. It was the sort of thing he expected one of Beaumont’s women to say, and yet despite the melodrama of the sentiment, at that moment Ewan hated Francis more than he ever had when his cousin had been his daily tormentor.

His loathing was so strong and so incomprehensible that Ewan regained control of his body and stepped out from behind the topiary.

Francis saw him first, and he stiffened and stepped back, putting a respectable distance between himself and Lady Lorraine. His expression was wary and, to Ewan’s satisfaction, frightened. The lady spun around as well, but her face showed no fear, only annoyance. She gave a long sigh. “Mr. Mostyn, I believe you know your cousin, Mr. Mostyn.”

“Ewan.” Francis looked him up and down. “We seem to keep meeting. Run along now. Lady Lorraine and I were having a private word.”

Ewan held out his hand to Lady Lorraine. “Come.”

“I see your vocabulary remains much the same,” Francis remarked. “As I’m certain you will use your simple grunts and growls to inform His Grace about this meeting, be sure to mention that I did nothing improper.”

“More’s the pity,” Lady Lorraine muttered. “At least the lecture and scolding would have been worth it.”

Ewan had the urge to laugh. Instead, he beckoned her with his outstretched hand. She did not take it. “I am not a dog, Mr. Mostyn. You needn’t crook your finger at me.”

Francis bowed. “I see I am no longer needed. My lady, sleep well tonight. I will see you…soon.” With what Ewan perceived was to be a meaningful look, Francis marched in the direction of Carlton House.

Since the lady seemed to have such an objection to them, Ewan folded his arms across his chest. He waited for her to speak. He felt he should say something, but he was not certain what that something should be. He had supposed Francis to be taking advantage of the lady, while it appeared she was the one intent on ruination. Francis was no paragon of honor and virtue, and Ewan would have liked little more than to beat the man to a pulp. But he could not fault his cousin for the scene he’d witnessed tonight.

“You won’t tell my father, will you?” Lady Lorraine finally broke the silence.

Ewan let out a breath of surprised air—half laugh, half incredulity.

The lady grasped his forearm. “If you do, it will not only doom me, but it will reflect badly on you as well.”

Ewan inclined his head, acknowledging the point. He’d made mistakes before, and he always took his punishment like a man. He was not much of a gentleman, but he had retained enough of his upbringing to know that one did not lie or cheat to avoid trouble. One faced the consequences of his mistakes with head held high. “Then so be it.”

She gaped at him. “You do not even care? You will be dismissed.”

Ewan blew out a breath. He did care. He cared very much, much more than he wanted to admit to.

Her hand on his forearm tightened, and he looked down at her. The damned chit was shivering with cold. Ewan was impervious to all but the coldest temperatures, but she looked almost blue. “Very well. Tell him. Nothing happened anyway.”

“Not for your lack of trying. I should tell your father you don’t need a bodyguard. You need to be locked in a convent.”

Now her eyes narrowed, and she released his arm as though it were filth she could not bear to touch any longer. “So now I am to be censured by you?”

He frowned at her. “Why not me?”

“Are you married?”

The question took him off guard. Conversation with women generally had the effect of unsettling him. He could never predict where their maze-like minds might wander. Conversation with men began at point A and ended at point B. Women often meandered to C then R and back to L before coming to the point.

“It is a simple question, Mr. Mostyn. Are you married?”

He shook his head.

“I didn’t think so. Are you a virgin?”

Ewan gaped at her. The question was so wildly inappropriate that, in his opinion, she had abandoned the points of the alphabet all together.

She waved a hand. “Yes, I know I am not supposed to ask you that, but humor me. I am making a point. Just answer yes or no.”

He shook his head as he did not trust his voice at the moment.

“Of course you are not. And yet no one thinks anything of the fact that you have bedded a woman who is not your wife. If I had to guess, with those eyes and those shoulders and chest”—she looked him up and down, and he actually felt himself heat at her frank perusal—“I imagine you have bedded more than your share of women.”

Ewan’s head was spinning at the rapidity of her speech, but what he did understand was that she had just complimented him. She admired his body, and the thought of her eyes on him caused him to have to take a breath. His chest felt tight and he lifted his hand to loosen the goddamn cravat before he remembered where he was.

“Of course,” she went on, “it is seen as perfectly natural for a man to want to kiss a woman, touch her, undress her, take her to bed, and—”

Ewan cleared his throat, not only because the already inappropriate conversation had descended beyond the pale, but because her description of the intimacies between men and women made him think of doing those things with her. And now the woman had not only fired his blood but stirred his rod. If she continued in this vein, his state of growing arousal would be evident to both of them.

“My point,” she said—and thank God she was finally reaching it—“is that it is considered natural for men to want these things, but when a woman wants them, then we should be locked away.” She gestured wildly with her hand, losing hold of her wrap so it slid to the ground and trailed after her as she paced. “What is so wrong with wanting a man to kiss me?” She gave Ewan a direct look, challenging him to give her an answer.

About the Author

Shana Galen is the national bestselling author of fast-paced adventurous Regency historicals, including the RT Reviewers’ Choice The Making of a Gentleman. Her books have been sold in Brazil, Russia, and the Netherlands and featured in the Rhapsody and Doubleday Book Clubs. A former English teacher in Houston’s inner city, Shana now writes full time. She is a happily married wife and mother of a daughter and a spoiled cat and lives in Houston, Texas.

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Posted in excerpt, romance, Spotlight, women on October 26, 2017

The highly anticipated and epic conclusion to the Chasing Red duology

THE RIVETING CONCLUSION TO RED AND CALEB’S EPIC STORY
Veronica “Red” Strafford’s painful past has made trusting Caleb Lockhart difficult. But Red might have pushed Caleb away one too many times…

I want you to fight for me. Just as I fought for you. But you wouldn’t.
I stood there, staring after him, tears pouring down my face.

 

Chasing Red Duology:

Chasing Red (Book 1)

Always Red (Book 2)

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Excerpt

We were back at the beach. It was past midnight, and the place was deserted, as if it had been waiting for us all day.

As if it had been waiting for this moment.

We lay on the sand, on the same blanket he’d brought when he took us here the very first time. It seemed like a long time ago. Before, he would have reached for my hand, threading his fingers through mine.

Not this time.

I turned onto my side so I could look at Caleb. His eyes were closed. The breeze blew a lock of his bronze hair against his forehead, and I wanted to brush it back so badly.

“I miss you, Caleb.”

He didn’t respond. His eyes remained closed, but I knew he heard me because I saw his breath catch in his chest.

I had hurt him badly, and he was probably still angry at me. He must hate me, but I would rather have that than a cold shoulder.

I needed to explain. I needed to tell him what I really felt.

I took a deep breath, gathering courage. “All my life I had to work hard to get the things I wanted. To reach the places I needed to be. I had to be strong—stronger than most people. Because I had to be. I shut out everyone. And why not?”

I rolled onto my back and looked up to the dark velvet sky, at the bright half-moon and the stars glittering like diamonds. It was so beautiful, so peaceful with the sound of the lapping waves. But a storm was brewing inside me.

“People are selfish,” I continued. “They always want something from you, and when they get it, they leave. So I never let anyone in. But then…I met you. You made me feel. You made me want things that I never allowed myself to want before. And it scared me. It scared me so much. So I didn’t trust you. I didn’t allow myself to. Every time I felt myself getting close to you, I pulled away.”

“Why?” he asked, his voice low and quiet. “Because…because it hurts to hope for the impossible. How can someone like you want to know someone like me? All I have is a suitcase of sad stories and a broken heart. My walls are high and impossible to break down, and I won’t let anyone in. But I felt your warmth…seeping through the cracks. How did you know where to find me?” My voice broke. “No one else ever worked to find me, Caleb. No one else stayed long enough to even try”—I felt a tear slide down my cheek— “until you.”

I sat up, pulling my legs close to my chest and burying my face in my arms. I felt him sit up and move closer to me.

“I didn’t trust what you felt for me,” I admitted. “I was scared. I kept waiting for you to disappoint me. Everyone else did. And I think that…that…somehow there’s something wrong with me. Something missing. That I’m not enough to make you stay, that somehow, someday you’re going to get bored with me and leave.” I sobbed. “All my life, my dad told me it was my fault. That I was the reason for all the bad things…” I swallowed. I didn’t want to talk about him. I didn’t even know why I’d mentioned him.

“I wish he was in front of me so I could hurt him,” Caleb said. “More than he hurt you.”

I heard the anger in his voice. He paused for a moment, and I could hear him breathing slowly, trying to calm himself. When he spoke again, his voice had softened.

“Red,” he whispered. “Do you know how I felt when you left me?”

I lifted my head and looked into his eyes. The emotion I saw in them—the intensity and the tenderness—filled my throat.

“I felt ruined. You ruined me. There is anger, but every time I see you, my anger fades away. And there is pain, but what is love without pain? Because, Red, every time you break me apart, you put me back together. And I always come out better than before. So.” He cupped my face, stroking my cheek with his thumb. “Ruin me.”

 

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Posted in excerpt, Spotlight, Thriller on October 24, 2017

Title: DEAD COLD
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: JEC Press
Pages: 326
Genre: Crime Thriller

Synopsis

What happens when one California community has a disturbing spike in homicides? It catapults cops into a deadly game of murder. Frozen human body parts hideously displayed at the crime scenes offers a horrifying interpretation that only a sadistic serial killer could design—and execute.

On the hunt for a complex serial killer, vigilante detective Emily Stone must face her most daring case yet. Stone’s proven top-notch profiling skills and forensic expertise may not be enough this time.

Young and ambitious, Detective Danny Starr, catches the homicide cases and discovers that it will test everything he knows about police work and the criminal mind. Can he handle these escalating cases or will the police department have to call in reinforcements—the FBI.

Emily Stone’s covert team pushes with extreme urgency to unravel the grisly clues, while keeping their identities hidden from the police. With one last-ditch effort, Stone dangles someone she loves as bait to draw out the killer. She then forces the killer out of their comfort zone with her partner Rick Lopez, and with help from a longtime friend Jordan Smith. A revelation of the serial killer’s identity leaves the team with volatile emotions that could destroy them.

The killer continues to taunt and expertly manipulate the police, as well as Stone’s team, and as they run out of time—they leave behind everyone and everything—in Dead Cold.

Excerpt

ESCAPE WAS IMPOSSIBLE. TEARS STREAMED down her face as she sat in the darkness and waited for the man to return. There was no other choice—but to wait.

She hadn’t eaten anything in three days and had only a limited amount of water—her strength continued to fade with every hour. With her wrists and ankles secured with duct tape, her skin stung with pain every time she struggled to move. At least the man had peeled the tape from her eyes and mouth so that she could see something besides pitch-blackness.

Even if she could escape, the only way to safety was jumping into the frigid water, but she could not swim and would drown before ever reaching the shore.

The only thing thirteen-year-old Kayla Swanson thought about was home. Fond memories flashed through her mind of her parents, her little brother, and her dog Charlie. She was never going to see them again. Their smiling faces were forever etched in Kayla’s mind, and she constantly held them close to her heart.

The boat rocked, and seemed to sway more violently as the tide flooded in and out of the harbor. Kayla could hear a consistent clanking noise above her as the boat rolled back and forth. The sound had a hypnotic quality, and kept her mind on something else besides when the man would return and what he would do next.

Her lips were dry and cracked as she bordered on dehydration. Even her tears dried on her cheeks, leaving her skin stiff and drawn. Her body began to shake, not only from fear, but also because of the extreme exhaustion and the constant dampness all around her.

The boat rocked more, but this time it shifted from the opposite sides. Kayla heard soft footsteps above, which she knew wasn’t her captor’s heavy walk. She strained her eyes in the darkness and thought she saw a thin shadow stealthily move along the upper deck.

Was it a ghost?

Kayla remembered a television series where a team of people hunted ghosts and they had said that ghosts could occupy any type of space, house, property, and even a boat.

She blinked her eyes several times and hoped that she could catch a glimpse of the ghost again. With every ounce of declining strength, Kayla scooted her body closer to the narrow stairs leading to the upper deck.

Painfully craning her neck, she strained to see something up in the darkness.

The dark shadowed areas played tricks on her eyes—it was there, then it wasn’t.

She waited for several minutes.

Nothing appeared.

The only sounds she heard were the usual boat noises she had grown accustomed to hearing. Whatever she thought she heard was gone now. It was most likely her imagination trying to give her some hope and a few moments break from her dire circumstances.

As she relaxed her shoulders and leaned back against the wall, the reality of her world pressing down hard. Tears streamed down her face. She tasted the saltiness that settled around her mouth. Her last moments were approaching, and there was nothing she could do.

About the Author

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning crime fiction author and consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent sociopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on October 20, 2017

Synopsis

As soon as the mistletoe goes up, that’s when life gets really interesting

Darcy Shaughnessy has gotten used to her overbearing brothers chasing away any man she wants to date. But a chance meeting with a brooding – and deliciously handsome – artist is about to make this holiday season one to remember.

There’s only one thing Benjamin Tanner loves more than his woodcarving: solitude. Then he gets snowed in with Darcy in his cozy cabin in the woods, and their heated feelings begin to melt the icy barrier between them.

With Ben’s need for privacy and Darcy’s love of family and social life, will opposites still attract once the snow clears and the holiday festivities come to an end?

Excerpt

This was not what he had planned.

Maybe it was what he had fantasized about, but this was not what he had planned.

But the instant Darcy’s lips touched his, Ben was lost. From the first time he’d laid eyes on her, he’d wondered how she’d feel in his arms.

Now he knew. Amazing.

From the first time he watched her move, he wanted to know how she’d feel moving against him.

Now he knew. Incredible.

From the first time he’d seen her smile, he wanted to know what her lips would feel like as he kissed her.

Now he knew. Sexy as hell.

His arms banded around her waist until he made sure there wasn’t even room for a breath between them. She went up on tiptoes to press even more intimately against him—which he totally appreciated—and it allowed his hands to linger and cup her denim-clad bottom.

And what a denim-clad bottom it was.

Gently, he squeezed it and even considered grabbing it harder and lifting her onto the counter, but he wasn’t ready to let go of the full-body contact just yet.

It was insanity. One minute, she was frustrating the hell out of him in a nonsexual way, and the next, he was so consumed with need for her that he almost didn’t recognize himself. This wasn’t the man he normally was. He didn’t pounce; he didn’t even think of initiating anything physical in a situation that was so mundane.

And breakfast was pretty mundane.

When Ben chose to sleep with a woman, there was, well, there was a certain protocol to it for him. There were the required three dates. There was the kiss good night that would build in heat over the course of the dates, and then it was normally at her house. Never here. Never in his bed. His home was just that—his. It was his sanctuary, and he was possessive of it. But right now, all he wanted—almost more than his next breath—was to have Darcy in his bed.

Under him.

Over him.

Another growl escaped before he could stop it.

For a moment, he allowed his lips to leave hers, because he was desperate to taste her in other places. His mouth trailed along the delicate line of her jaw, her throat, and up to nip at her ear, a spot he quickly learned made her knees buckle and had her gasping.

Good to know.

But she wasn’t having any of it for long. With her hand firmly anchored in his hair, she let him know the instant she wanted to kiss him again, and he went willingly. Over and over, his mouth slanted over hers until he thought he’d simply consume her. Tongue tangled with tongue. Breath mingled with breath. Never had the act of kissing seemed so carnal. So indecent and so damn erotic.

And that’s when he knew standing at the kitchen sink was no longer cutting it. He needed her. Wanted her. And from the sounds she was making and the way she was moving against him, Darcy felt it too.

This time when he reached down and cupped her ass, he lifted her up onto the counter. Stepping in close until he was firmly pressed against the juncture of her thighs, he cursed their clothes. Cursed the fact that the nearest soft surface was so damn far away. And cursed the fact that she tugged at his hair as she pulled away from him.

“Ben, wait,” she panted.

Well, shit.

A little dazed, he forced himself to open his eyes and focus on her. Her lips were wet and red and a little swollen, and her skin was flushed.

So. Damn. Sexy.

Resting his forehead against hers, he took a minute to catch his breath.

Was he supposed to apologize? Step away and start shoveling? Hell if he knew, but he was going to stay quiet and let Darcy say whatever it was she was thinking. So he didn’t move, and once his breathing was back to normal, he almost felt as if he was holding it.

“What are we doing?” she asked quietly.

Was she serious? Those were some fairly obvious moves going on, on both their parts! How could she be questioning it? And on top of that, she was the one who had initiated it! Lifting his head, he looked at her.

“I thought we were kissing,” he said simply.

She blushed, and it was sexy as hell to see. His fingers twitched with the need to touch her cheeks and feel the heat there.

“I…I know, but…I guess I’m just a little confused as to where that all came from.”

She was confused? Because now he was a little beyond that himself. Taking a step away, he frowned. “Why don’t you tell me?” he began levelly. “Since you were the one who reached up and pulled me into the kiss in the first place.”

The blush was instantly replaced by a look of mild annoyance. Darcy jumped from the counter, placing her hands on her hips. “I guess I got caught up in what I thought was a moment. I mean you came over and crowded me into the cabinets and then started touching me—out of the blue, might I add—so I guess I thought you were into it too.”

Oh yeah. He had forgotten about that part. Once she had reached up and kissed him, Ben had pretty much forgotten about his own actions leading up to it. “Fine. Yes. I came over here and—” He stopped and cursed, raking a hand through his hair. “I don’t know. I wanted to do that since you first showed up here.”

 

About the Author

Samantha Chase, a creative writing teacher, released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Since then, she has published seventeen more titles and has become a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She lives with her husband of twenty-four years and their two sons in North Carolina.

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