Posted in excerpt, fiction, Giveaway, Historical, Spotlight on December 15, 2016

LOVE GIVE US ONE DEATH

  Bonnie and Clyde in the Last Days

by

Jeff P. Jones

**WINNER: 2016 Idaho Author Award**

**WINNER: 2015 George Garrett Fiction Prize**

Genre: Historical Fiction

Publisher: Texas Review Press

Date of Publication: October 25, 2016

Number of Pages: 232

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Bonnie and Clyde are the most famous outlaw pair in American history. Frank Hamer, the legendary Texas Ranger, was hired to stop them. Part prose, part verse, with historical artifacts interwoven, the well-researched novel tells the story of their deaths on a lonely Louisiana back road, as well as their bloody and short lives together. Its many voices invite the reader to become a ghost rider along with Bonnie and Clyde, while it also exposes the forces of injustice and greed that created them.

 PRAISE FOR LOVE GIVE US ONE DEATH

“If you are a fan of historical fiction, you must secure a copy of his debut novel in which Jones ‘added, subtracted and distorted facts’ adroitly and creatively in his re-telling of Bonnie and Clyde’s last days. There are very few writers who can write like Jones — in many voices and in various forms — but he choreographs his work like an award-winning producer, designating him as unique as the members of the Clyde Barrow Gang.” -Idaho Statesman

“Love Give Us One Death delivers not only a knock-out story of brutal adventure, and love, across the heartland of the Great Depression, but a story about the very character of the republic itself.” -Robert Wrigley, Poet

“This is the history of love and destruction you didn’t know you needed. In a time of Public Enemies, we see the last legs of a journey between the violent and manic Romeo and Juliet-like pair. The last public outlaws are riding away into their last sunrise, and this book serves as its journal.” -Atticus Books

“The language is absolutely stunning. Characterization, historical setting, ambience are all accurate and depicted with great clarity. A terrific achievement.” -Mary Clearman Blew, Author of All But the Waltz

“This is historical fiction raised boldly to the level of myth.” -Tracy Daugherty, Author of The Last Love Song

Love Give Us One Death: Bonnie and Clyde in the Last Days

Excerpt from Chapter 1, “Love’s Kingdom”

By Jeff P. Jones

The two teenagers were together in the tiny kitchen, Clyde at a spindly table, Bonnie orbiting around the stove. In the corner stood a battered wooden icebox. From the other side of the swinging door erupted voices and laughter.

Clyde was puzzling over the mystery before him. Her face was lovely, but he couldn’t luxuriate in its full light. He hadn’t gotten past her hands, which seemed to contain all of her, and which held the paradox of Bonnie Parker in all her petite ruggedness. They were tiny, the fingers as slim as pencils and the skin oiled and smooth, yet when she picked up the kettle or closed them around a cup, green veins piped around the bones and tendons sprang to the surface.

Then there was the ring she wore.

“Be careful, it’s hot,” she said and held out a steaming mug.

He wrapped both hands around the cup. Inhaled the steam threads. Then, he couldn’t help himself, he reached out and caressed her hand, and the stiffness in his fingers registered the warm liveliness of hers, and something else. She acknowledged the breach with a smile and withdrew her hand. There was delicacy wed to strength in her face. Lively mouth. Aquiline nose. Warm but fleeting eyes that said she was keeping something back.

“My, your fingers are cold,” she said.

He took a sip, felt the warmth flow through his icy shell.

“Sweet enough?”
“Never tasted better.”

Click here to read the full first chapter!

JEFF P. JONES’s ancestors were sharecroppers in east Texas. He was born in Denver, and was educated at the University of Colorado at Denver, the University of Washington, and the University of Idaho. He’s a MacDowell Fellow, and his writing has won a Pushcart Prize, as well as the Hackney, Meridian Editors’, A. David Schwartz, Wabash, and Lamar York prizes. He lives on the Palouse in northern Idaho. This is his first book.

 

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12/13 Guest Post Country Girl Bookaholic
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12/15 Excerpt StoreyBook Reviews
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12/17 Review Missus Gonzo
12/18 Excerpt Kara The Redhead
12/19 Illustration Forgotten Winds
12/20 Review Book Chase
12/21 Author Interview Syd Savvy
12/22 Review Reading By Moonlight

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Posted in excerpt, fiction, humor, Spotlight on December 14, 2016

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Title: ON TOP OF THE WORLD (UNTIL THE BELL CHIMES)
Author: David Lamb
Publisher: Woolly Mammoth Books
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Contemporary Romance/Multicultural/Humor/Satire

Synopsis

2016 BEST FICTION-Pacific Book Awards. FROM THE FUNNY AND NATURALLY BRILLIANT DAVID LAMB, award-winning playwright of the New York Times celebrated play, Platanos Y Collard Greens, comes a modern spin on Dickens’ classic tale that perfectly combines humor and romance in a story re-imagined for our digital, consumerist age.

This version of Scrooge and Belle is familiar, yet unlike any you’ve come across before. Scrooge, or rather Scrooje, is music’s biggest superstar, with one hundred million albums sold, fifteen million devoted YouTube subscribers, two and a half million Facebook likes, and twenty-five million fanatical Twitter followers known as Scroojites.

Belle, is a legal shark who gulps down her opposition voraciously and whose beauty and stunning figure causes traffic accidents as she zips through the sidewalks of Manhattan stylishly adorned and taking no prisoners.

They never imagined being music’s most powerful couple, but that’s exactly what happened when Belle fell head over heels and gave the Coke-bottle glasses wearing, plaid and stripe attired, scrawny, biggest nerd on her college campus the ultimate makeover, turning him into a fashion impresario whose style sets trends from Milan to NY Fashion Week and who can be seen courtside at the NBA Finals sporting a perfectly-fitted cashmere suit.   Then it happens. Belle realizes too late that she’s created a chart-topping monster as Scrooje’s ego explodes and he starts acting a fool.

Now, it’s been three years since they ve spoken. But tonight at Hollywood s biggest red carpet event, with the whole world watching, they’ll be given a second chance.   Will Scrooje listen to the ghostly-advice of Marley, his best friend since the fourth grade, who at the time of his untimely drowning at his Brazilian poolside birthday bash was as big a star as Scrooje? Will Scrooje finally do right by his number one artist, Cratchit, a genius comedian, who Scrooje invariably rip offs every chance he gets?   And with twenty-five million viewers tuned in will Scrooje finally shed his ego, jeopardize his image and declare his love for Belle, the one he betrayed and let slip away?   Second chances don’t often come around. Will Belle even give him a chance?

Mixing heart, soul, bling and romance in a fresh, original satire about race, class and celebrity worship Lamb establishes himself as one of the most talented and amazing writers today. And leaves no doubt that the Pacific Book Awards chose wisely when they selected On Top Of The World as the year’s Best Fiction.

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Excerpt

The devil doesn’t wear Prada, he wears Sean John and I was the idiot who taught him how to shop.

That was what I got for reading Frankenstein in college. I’d been turned into a mad scientist without even realizing it. Just my luck, I was a math major and the one literature course I took had tricked me into creating a monster.

When I first met Scrooʝe, he—like most humans with XY chromosomes—was a fashion emergency. Awkwardly walking around campus—lost, desperately in need of a haircut, and for some strange reason wearing glasses so big he looked like an owl hunting for prey. He was just plain pitiful.

But I have to confess, from the moment I saw him my heart sang a happy song and I couldn’t look away. Something between us was magnetic.

Hey, what can I say, I was always the kind of girl who liked rescue projects. When I was eight years old, I turned my family’s garage into a makeshift animal shelter, and damn near gave my father a heart attack when a hungry pack of strays rushed at him as he pulled into the driveway.

So naturally, one look into Scrooʝe’s sad puppy dog eyes and I felt right away—he was the one.

Before I knew it, we were college sweethearts and best friends. Of course, I had to clean him up, but after a few months under my tutelage everyone noticed his transformation. They saw that with his gorgeous toffee skin, deliciously full lips and sexy broad shoulders he was the cutest boy on campus.  Pretty soon I had girls telling me I needed to start a makeover service.

That was how it all started. Who could have known that a simple makeover would unleash the devilish genius of the sweetest, shyest, most socially awkward boy I’d ever met, and transform him into music’s biggest superstar with an ego the size of Texas yet more fragile than an egg yolk? And a whole lot messier! Not me.

Without a doubt we’ve traveled a long crazy road together. Scrooʝe was the first boy I gave my heart to. Our relationship went from me rescuing him in college, to him rescuing me in law school, to our emergence as music’s power couple. He was the artist/entrepreneur, and I was the best lawyer love could buy.

And now, we’re strangers.

It’s been three years since we’ve seen or spoken to each other, and sometimes, against my better judgment, I find myself thinking about him and feel a smile creep across my face.

This morning was one of those times when my thoughts turned to Scrooʝe. Normally I’d tell myself off for not letting go, but today I gave myself a break. After all, it isn’t every day that you might not just run into your ex, but do it live on television at Hollywood’s biggest event.

“Everything’s gonna be fine, girl,” I told myself as I contemplated everything that could go wrong if we ran into each other at The Awards. I was especially dreading an untimely re-emergence of my long-standing “klutz curse”.

My whole life, I’d been jinxed with “inopportune clumsiness”. As the ring girl at my parents’ vow renewal, I stumbled, fell in the grass, and lost the rings. As a tiny ballerina, I was the best in my class, until the day of the recital when I went tumbling down like Humpty Dumpty.

Now with the whole world watching, I simply could not afford such an embarrassing spill.

As I sat in the back of a sleek limousine on my way to the ceremony, gazing up at the L.A. skyline, nervously checking my hair in the mirror for the dozenth time in half a dozen minutes, I tried to push down the queasiness threatening to erupt from the pit of my stomach. The last thing I needed was to step onto the red carpet covered in this afternoon’s lunch. The paparazzi would surely have a field day with that one.

Well, like I said it was exactly three years to the day that I stomped out of Scrooʝe’s life, but tonight we were both nominated for Awards. I knew God worked in mysterious ways, but now I was convinced she also had a sense of humor.

I never thought I’d be nominated for anything, but life had other plans. After we broke up, I quickly discovered that the best cure for PTRS—post-traumatic-relationship-stress—was writing. By the time I finished hammering those computer keys, I was author of an award-winning, best-selling, drama-filled, tragically comic novel that Hollywood just had to have. Now here I was nominated for an Award as one of the producers of the year’s biggest movie.

Once word got out that I was nominated, I was immediately blessed (or cursed depending on your view) with a merry-go-round of opinions. From my hair to my makeup to my shoes to my dress, from my eyebrows to my voice, to making sure I didn’t have ashy knees—everyone had an opinion. Normally I was unflappable, but with so many people giving so many conflicting opinions I was suddenly a nervous wreck. Finally, I stopped answering the phone because I couldn’t take any more unsolicited advice. If someone did manage to reach me on the phone, before they could even say a word I’d say, “No, I don’t know what I’m going to wear, and no, I don’t know how I’m doing my hair,” before abruptly clicking off. Unbelievable, Russell Simmons can show up without a tie and wearing sneakers, yet still be a style icon. But let a woman have one eyelash out of place and it’ll be the lead on the evening news.

Two nights before The Awards, I tried to veg out with an episode of Soccer Moms From Hell. But before I could lose myself in the drama, my cell phone buzzed with a text. “Oh, come on!” I yelled, throwing my hands up unnecessarily dramatically. Then I looked at it. It was from my father. He wrote simply—Be you.

At least there was one man in the world I could still count on.

Two days later, on my way to The Awards I tried to wrap my head around the idea that I’d soon be standing on the stage with millions watching. This was not part of the plan. I was a behind-the-scenes kind of gal, not at all attracted to the limelight. So, as I pulled up to The Awards, my nerves fluttered in my stomach like butterflies. But despite my anxiety, when I last checked the mirror I didn’t look too shabby. Thank God, Michelle Obama isn’t the only one who looks perfect in a Carolina Herrera gown.

As I climbed out of the limo and walked the red carpet, waving at the crowd gathered to cheer on their favorite artists, I thought about everything that had led up to this moment and even though I was anxious on the inside, on the outside I smiled as if I weren’t the least bit concerned all while praying for two things—please, dont let me fall in front of all these people, and please, please, dont let me run into Scrooʝe.

About the Author

david-lambDavid Lamb is a native New Yorker, born and raised, bitten with the writing bug since he was in elementary school and had handwriting nobody could decipher. Like Charles Dickens, David grew up a poor boy in the big city who found that the pen really is mightier than the sword. In middle school Lamb’s hero was David Lampel whose velvet voice could be heard reporting the news over David’s grandmother’s radio. Whenever he heard him on the radio, David would substitute Lamb for Lampel and pretend he was delivering the news. Sure that he was destined to be a famous reporter David was happy to go to a high school with a journalism program. Like most kids, by the time he finished high school he had a whole new career in mind. After high school he went to Hunter College and majored in Economics because he wanted to be cool like that college kid who came to speak at his last year of high school. He was an Economics major, he was dressed sharp and above-all the girls thought he was the man! So like any unreasonable high school boy fueled by overactive hormones David figured if he majored in Economics they’d think he was cool. After finishing college David went on to law school at NYU, but all the time writing was still his heart. While working as a lawyer by day, at night he transformed into a writer and eventually wrote and produced the award-winning hit off-Broadway romantic comedy Platanos Y Collard Greens. Being a writer and having the chance make people laugh out loud while challenging them to think about the world around them, and inspire each of us to believe in the power of love and our own ability to overcome life’s challenges is a great gift that David truly enjoys and thanks you for allowing him to share with you in On Top Of The World (Until The Bell Chimes).

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Posted in excerpt, Fantasy, Giveaway on December 14, 2016

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Guardian of the Way by Diane Moat

It’s been two centuries since someone murdered the last Guardian of the Way, closing off this world from the many realms of magic and fae.

Cassiopeia “Cass” Wilson is an eighteen-year-old living on her own for the first time. The only magic she’s interested in is the kind that will help her pay the bills on time. Little does she know that a trip to the hospital after a fainting spell will change her life forever.

Cass soon learns she may be fae, and everything points to her being the next Guardian of the Way. There’s just one problem: whoever—or whatever—killed the last Guardian wants Cass dead too.

Cass quickly runs into problems, and an attack by djinn is just the first. But Cass joins forces with a wrath daemon, were-creatures, and fae on a quest to reach the Lighthouse—the site of the Way.

Cass soon learns about wizards desperate to keep the Way closed to serve their dark purposes, and she comes to a crossroads: will she take the test to become the new Guardian and leave her normal life behind? Or will the Way remain closed to all who need it?

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Praise for Guardian of the Way

“Cass Wilson takes us right along with her in this journey, revealing a world she never knew existed, with a diverse new tribe of companions, protectors, and friends. A must read for anyone who wonders what else is out there beyond what we can see.” by C.S.

“A strong story, full of surprises. Getting there is half the fun, but is she meant for this challenging job between many worlds? Quite worth a read.” by M. Hayden

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Excerpt

A massive lighthouse sits off the coast of Maine near the town of Cutler. The building has stood empty for over two-hundred years. Those who can make out the edifice view a tower of stone and paned glass unlike any other lighthouse they have ever seen. The specific dimensions are hard to determine as this structure, unlike most lighthouses, is not a single tower. Instead, it has a broader base than usual, with what appear to be turrets at the top. The construction may even consist of two buildings connected at the middle. But not many people question this odd lighthouse, or even wonder why it remains vacant.

This is because most Humans can’t actually see the Lighthouse. A few who have a drop of Fey, Were or “Other” blood may perceive an ordinary lighthouse. And some instinct guides these souls to avoid the building, though they wouldn’t be able to voice why if they were asked. True Fey, Were, Vampires, and other supernatural beings can certainly identify the building known to them as the Lighthouse, but none of them dare try to enter. Those genuine descendants know the Way is blocked, and has been for the two-hundred years the Lighthouse has stood dark.

The place has sat empty since the most recent Lighthouse Guardian died one horrible night at thepinnacle. The Guardian had only been Guardian for four-hundred years and was killed well before his time. Inside the Lighthouse lies the only permanent causeway (the “Way”) between the worlds of magic and the world of the mundane. Fey, Were, Vampires and other non-Humans, despite the barrier to journeying across from inside the Lighthouse, could still travel between these two worlds using costly magic spells—but such a trip is difficult and dangerous. The entrance to the Way closed at the time of the Guardian’s death, and neither magic nor mundane had been able to open it since.

On one late evening in particular, a large man sat under a tree just outside of Cutler, eating the stew his mate had made earlier and placed in a storage dish. The season was early fall, but already the nights had a bite to them. The man was on his third shift of watch duty in a row. He had pulled this job ten months previously and was glad the rotations were only a year long. He would be back home in Louisiana before the truly bitter winter was well underway.

The man was suddenly blinded by a light coming from the very top of the Lighthouse. The man’s reflexes were frighteningly quick, but even so he dropped his stew. Flabbergasted, he stared directly at the light for a full twenty seconds, until he no longer cared about the meal. He turned away from the brightness, and shedding his clothes, he found his legs shortening and his arms lengthening. In less than a minute, a large dark-grey Wolf shook himself once, then again. Glancing back for a final look at the Lighthouse, the Wolf began running toward the town.

He wouldn’t stop running until he was at his pack leader’s house. From there, word would spread like a virus. Everything was different now. For somewhere in this ordinary domain, two minutes before, a brand-new Guardian had been born.

 

dianeAbout the Author

When not creating fantastical worlds of young adult fiction, Diane Moat spends her time in Tennessee as an animal rescuer and nurse. Her various rescue dogs often assist her in the creative process.

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

 

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, mystery, Spotlight on December 13, 2016

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Book Series: Death by Cupcake, Book 3 

Genre: Cozy Mystery, Humor

Published: December, 2016

Synopsis

Kristie is kind with a capital K, so it’s quite the surprise when she wakes up next to a dead man with no recollection of the previous night. Even worse? She’s naked. Kristie may be a sweetheart out to save the world, but sticking her nose into an investigation of rapes across campus makes her the target of a murderer. Before she knows it, Callie is smack dab in the middle of a murder investigation with her colleagues Callie and Anna. If that’s not enough to drive a sane person up the wall, a friend has decided he’s going to keep her safe whether she wants him to or not. And, oh yeah, he’s her man and that’s that.

Come join us at Callie’s Cakes, where murder investigations are on the menu. You are most welcome, but you may need to serve yourself as our barista Kristie is busy trying to save the world.

Warning: Although there are plenty of moments that will make you shake your head and laugh at the antics of the ladies of Callie’s Cakes, the subject matter – rape on college campuses – is very real and somewhat darker than your usual cozy mystery.

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Excerpt

I assumed that, as soon as we got back to my apartment, everyone would take off, and I’d be left alone to contemplate what happened. Contemplate. I snort to myself. Freak out’s more like it. Unfortunately, when I open the door and turn around to thank everyone, the men push their way in and collapse on my sofa. My sofa, heck my apartment, was not made to house the two oversized detectives.

I don’t shut the door but stand at the entrance with my mouth opening and closing in my best imitation of a fish. Think, think, think. Oh yeah, I have the perfect excuse for keeping them out. “Should you be in here? Doesn’t CSI or whatever it’s called in real life need to do their thing? Find clues or fingerprints or something?” There! That sounded reasonable. Not at all like I’m trying to kick everyone out.

Logan snorts. “You watch too much TV.”

Luckily, Ben takes pity on me and explains. “They’ve already come and gone. And even if they hadn’t, it wouldn’t matter.” The confusion must show on my face. The big detective smiles. “We were all here this morning.” I nod my head in understanding but don’t move away from the door.

Anna sits on Logan’s lap and I cringe as my sofa creaks. “You might as well shut the door and come in here.” Oh great, the troublemaker is on the case. Looks like I don’t have a choice. I shut the door and walk the short distance to my living room. I collapse in the chair across from my friends and close my eyes. Let the questions begin.

“So why were you in that bar anyway? You don’t drink. Or at least the few times we’ve gone out, we nearly had to force-feed you beer.” Callie’s voice actually sounds hurt.

I shrug and try to evade giving away the real reason for my visit to the bar. “Am I not allowed to go to a bar on a Friday night?”

“That’s not what I meant and you know it,” Callie immediately snaps. Darn it! I suck at the secret spy mission stuff.

“Sorry, I’m not feeling well.” There, that’s not a lie.

“We just need you to answer a few questions and then we’ll leave you alone,” Ben insists in a gentle but firm voice. Obviously, I’m not getting out of answering some questions and considering I woke up naked next to a dead man, I should probably be grateful I’m getting grilled by my friends instead of cuddling up to some jailbird named Bertha.

About the Author

de haggertyI grew up reading everything I could get my hands on from my mom’s Harlequin romances to Nancy Drew to Little Women. When I wasn’t flipping pages in a library book, I was penning horrendous poems, writing songs no one should ever sing, or drafting stories which have thankfully been destroyed. College and a stint in the U.S. Army came along, robbing me of free time to write and read, although I did manage every once in a while to sneak a book into my rucksack between rolled up socks, MRIs, t-shirts, and cold weather gear. A few years into my legal career, I was exhausted, fed up, and just plain done. I quit my job and sat down to write a manuscript, which I promptly hid in the attic after returning to the law. Another job change, this time from lawyer to B&B owner and I was again fed up and ready to scream I quit, which is incredibly difficult when you own the business. Thus, I shut the B&B during the week and in the off-season and started writing. Several books later I find myself in Istanbul writing full-time.

 

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on December 13, 2016

last-chance-cowboysTitle: Last Chance Cowboys: The Lawman

Author: Anna Schmidt

Series: Where the Trail Ends, #2

ISBN: 9781492612995

Pubdate: December 6, 2016

Genre: Historical Western Romance

Synopsis 

From acclaimed author Anna Schmidt comes a sweeping historical Western romance about the unbreakable bonds of family, second chances, and a whole lot of heart in the Wild West.

“This is me, Addie,” Jess murmured. “You and me, the way we always were.”

But it wasn’t, no matter how much she wished it were true. They were different now. She would always love him…

But can she trust him not to break her heart?

Jess Porterfield fled to the big city after his father’s sudden death, leaving behind his family ranch-and his childhood sweetheart. Now Jess has returned as the local lawman, determined to prove his worth…and win back the one woman he could never live without.

Young frontier doctor Addie Wilcox was devastated when Jess left her behind. Now he’s back and it’s difficult to remember why she should keep her distance. But with the town’s richest man set to see her hang for a crime she didn’t commit, Addie must put her faith in the lawman who broke her heart-and trust that together they’ll find their second chance at love.

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Sometimes characters I think are minor speak up. (Sometimes they pretty much grab me by the shoulders and shout, “I want to tell my story!”) That was the case with Dr. Addie Wilcox. So when her childhood sweetheart and love-of-her-life Jess Porterfield returns at the end of The Drifter, I knew what the second book in the series would be. In The Lawman, Addie has to fight her lifelong attraction to Jess, determined that he won’t break her heart again. Trouble is, once he gets appointed to serve as the town marshal and is pretty much living down the street from Addie and her family, avoiding his good looks, charming smile and determination to win her heart becomes pretty much impossible.

The story of Addie and Jess is all about first love and second chances. Here’s an excerpt that I hope sends you running to the store or your computer to read more…

Excerpt

Addie could not for the life of her figure out why she continued to allow that man to get to her. Why couldn’t she be more like Jess’s younger sister and her good friend, Amanda—calm and sophisticated?  She searched the gathering for Amanda, but hesitated when she saw her friend surrounded by the usual trio of admirers.  Amanda had been planning this party for weeks now. She certainly deserved to enjoy herself and not have to sympathize with Addie. Besides, Jess was Amanda’s brother, newly returned to the fold from his travels following his father’s death—a death everyone now knew had not been the accident they’d first thought.

Addie stopped dead in her tracks. Her hand flew to her mouth. What was she thinking?

Poor Jess. Did he know? Had anyone told him? Of course not. Jess had a temper, and if he knew what everyone now knew—that his father’s death was not the accident they’d first thought–he’d likely be off trying to track down the killer.

Maybe Jess had overheard some of the talk. Maybe that was why he was talking about applying for the marshal’s position. After all, Jasper Tipton had built that big house in town to please his bride, Pearl, and his brother, Buck, lived there as well. While the local marshal had no jurisdiction outside the town limits, Jess might just think the fact the Tiptons resided in town opened the door for him to go after them. More than likely he would get himself killed in the bargain. Her head was spinning as she tried to think the issue through from every side.

“This is not one of your medical cases,” she muttered to herself. “This is Jess.” And when it came to figuring out what Jess Porterfield might be thinking, she fully appreciated that logic was not part of the process.  She was still mad at him for leaving all those months ago but that didn’t mean she didn’t care about him and, knowing his temper, he was bound to get into trouble.  With a sigh, she headed off to find her father. Maybe he could talk some sense into the man—the man she had fallen in love with, planned a future, with and then rejected.  But as she moved through the throng of party guests pausing now and then to exchange a greeting, it wasn’t her father she saw—it was Jess.

He wasn’t spoiling for a fight at all. No, he was laughing and flirting with Sybil Sinclair. Sybil with her blonde curls and her bright blue eyes and a cupid’s bow of a mouth that made her look like a porcelain doll. Sybil with her tiny waist and her flawless skin and giddy laugh that actually came out as Tee-hee-hee.

“My brother is trying to make you jealous,” Amanda murmured, coming to stand next to her. “Do not let him know that it’s working.”

“It’s not,” Addie insisted, pushing her glasses more firmly onto the bridge of her nose. She straightened to her full height, which was still a good three inches shorter than Sybil’s willowy five foot four.  She brushed back a lock of hair that had come loose from the practical bun she preferred and tried not to think about how her stick-straight locks would look worn down like Sybil’s long curls. “I really couldn’t care less if your brother wants to make an utter fool of himself with that…”

“Good to know you aren’t affected,” Amanda said wryly.

Thoughts from Anna

When authors aren’t hard at work crafting books readers can fall in love with, like readers, they enjoy unwinding with a good book, movie or television program. Maybe the writing is inspiring, or maybe it’s just nice to escape the real world for a little bit. I asked Anna about her favorite stories, ones from popular books, movies, and television shows that many of us probably know too. Read on to see what she had to say!

AS TIME GOES BY (vintage PBS Series that thankfully enjoys reruns!)

Anna: My late husband and I so loved this series, and frankly, I want to be Judi Dench in my next life!

Interestingly enough, Anna takes inspiration, not just from other books, but from film and television most of all. She says:

That’s the way I write. My characters are actors on a stage or in a movie, and they walk around doing whatever they please while I try to get it all down!

About the Author

Award-winning author Anna Schmidt delights in creating stories where her characters must wrestle with the challenges of their times. Critics have consistently praised Schmidt for her ability to seamlessly integrate actual events with her fictional characters to produce strong tales of hope and love in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She resides in Wisconsin. 

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on December 11, 2016

highlander-cover

Title: How to Train Your Highlander

Series: Broadswords and Ballrooms, #3

Author: Christy English

Pub Date: December 6, 2016

ISBN: 9781492612933

Synopsis

She’s the Hellion of Hyde Park…

A foolproof plan to avoid marriage:

  1. Always carry at least three blades.
  2. Ride circles around any man.
  3. Never get caught in a handsome duke’s arms.

Wild Highlander Mary Elizabeth Waters is living on borrowed time. She’s managed to dodge the marriage banns up to now, but even Englishmen can only be put off for so long…and there’s one in particular who has her in his sights.

Harold Percy, Duke of Northumberland, is enchanted by the beautiful hellion who outrides every man on his estate and dances Scottish reels while the ton looks on in horror. The more he sees Mary, the more he knows he has to have her, tradition and good sense be damned. But what’s a powerful man to do when the Highland spitfire of his dreams has no desire to be tamed…

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Excerpt

In which Harry proposes for the first time, then kisses Mary Elizabeth on a roof after a tot of the whisky:

“Harry, what did you want to ask me?”

“I want you to marry me.”

Mary Elizabeth did not seem impressed with the moment, momentous as it was. She looked at him with a squint of suspicion, and then she said, “You’ve no head at all for whisky, do you?”

“I do not, but that does not signify. I asked you a question, and I would like an answer.”

“Harry, you asked a daft question, and I will not answer it. Only yesterday you told me in the picture gallery of this very hall that you could not marry me, nor even kiss me. And now you are on a roof, asking me to wed. Are you mad, then?”

“I am,” Harry said. “I am mad for you.” He knew he was making a botch of it, and he wondered if he should start over, begin again by telling her that he was the duke, lord of all he surveyed, a man who could keep her happy and warm and set up with fine whisky and sharp blades for the rest of her life.

“Harry, we had better go in. You’re not in a fit state of mind to be speaking with a lady.”

“I am in the best state of mind to be speaking to you. You’re the only lady I want to speak with. I love you. You are wonderful and funny and filled with life. Marry me, and make me the happiest man ever to walk these halls.”

Mary Elizabeth sighed and moved to the window. He caught her by the skirt to hold her with him and she glared at him over her shoulder. “Let go, Harry. You’re foxed from two tots, and I am going in.”

“No,” he said. “I’m not foxed. I swear.”

They both slipped a little then, down the slanting roof. Harry caught himself with his slippered foot against the gable rim, and caught her to him so that she would not slide any farther. The heat of his body seemed to speak better for him than his words did, for Mary Elizabeth raised her arms over his shoulders and clasped her hands behind the back of his neck, burying her fingers in his hair.

“You’re talking daft, and I won’t hold you to it come sunrise, if you won’t hold me to my promise until then either,” she said.

He was not sure what she meant until her lips were on his, her luscious breasts pressed against the front of his dress coat. He could feel the heat of her body through the layers of clothes that separated them and knew that if they had been in a bed, or even safe on a rug somewhere, he would have drawn her skirt up and taken her right there. As it was, his foot lost its purchase, and they slid a little farther down the roofline.

Harry would not have cared, but Mary Elizabeth was pulling away from him.

“Harry, you daft man. Let me go before we fall.”

He obeyed her at once, though his body was screaming to touch her again. Separated from her, he looked down and saw that, indeed, they were actually in peril. He turned his mind from his lust to try and figure a way to get them both safely off that roof without sliding down it any farther when he saw Mary draw out a knife from God alone knew where and slice off the gold sash that had displayed her breasts all evening.

It seemed there was a good deal more material than just the section that made her breasts stand out so beautifully. At least six feet of cloth of gold was in her hands, which she deftly secured to the roof with her dagger, placing the blade between two shingles and burying it deep in the wood beneath.

“This is what comes of canoodling on a roof,” she said almost to herself as she cut away the ribbons on her dancing slippers with a second blade and kicked them off, so that they went sliding down the roofline and into the garden below.

Harry expected her to cry a little at their loss, as any other woman might have done, or perhaps simply to cry from fright at the danger they were in, but Mary Elizabeth Waters did not cry. She shimmied carefully out of her stockings, letting both stockings and garters fall down the same path as her shoes.

“Is that a yes, then?” Harry asked.

“Shut your fool mouth, Harry, and let me work.”

She used her now-bare feet to gain purchase on the roof’s slippery surface. She took hold of the gold sash and yanked it hard twice, as if to test its strength.

She spoke to him then as to a simpleton, slowly and clearly. “Harry, I am going to climb back up to the window. I need you to stay here and not move. At all. Do you understand me?”

He found himself smiling back at her. “Yes, ma’am.” He snuck a hand toward her supple calf and ran his fingertips along it, almost meditatively, reveling in the softness of her skin.

“Harry, I swear, if we live to get off this roof and tell this tale, I may very well kill you.”

 

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About the Author

 

Ever since Christy English picked up a fake sword in stage combat class at the age of fourteen, she has lived vicariously through the sword-wielding women of her imagination. A banker by day and a writer by night, she loves to eat chocolate, drink too many soft drinks, and walk the mountain trails of her home in North Carolina.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on December 9, 2016

soul-of-a-seal-cover

Title: The Soul of a Seal

Series: West Coast Navy SEALs, #4

Author: Anne Elizabeth

Pub Date: December 6, 2016

ISBN: 9781492622246

Synopsis

Love may be the toughest battle of all

Captain Bennett Oscar Sheraton Navy SEAL, the best of the best

Dr. Kimberly Warren Brilliant engineer, founder of secret space program

When scientists on Dr. Warren’s super-secret space mission start dying, Navy SEAL Captain Sheraton is sent in as an astronaut candidate with a hidden agenda—find the person sabotaging the program.

Kimberly and Bennett’s instant attraction may prove to be a major distraction—or it might be the key to both of their dreams coming true…

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Interesting Seal Fact

FAKE SEALS don’t know the history of the Teams from Scouts and Raiders thru to SEALs or the year that SEAL Team was founded. FAKE SEALS cannot GIVE you information about their time in the Team, because if they did…they’d have to KILL you. That’s not true. This person is FAKE.

Excerpt

Her eyes lifted to his. She had no words as a flush that began in her toes rose to the top of her head. If she were to walk four feet to the mirror and look, she knew she would see herself as red as a cherry tomato. “Uh…s-s-sorry…” she finally said. What a time to stutter! Rubbing her hands together, she walked to the glass-enclosed shower, opened the door, turned on the water, and then took off her silk teddy and matching silk panties. It was time to be bold.

Glancing over her shoulder, it was her turn to smile. His jaw was practically on the floor.

“Can you hand me my loofah?” She turned toward him and pointed to the shelf next to the sink. “The fluffy pink one.”

He nodded his head, but it was several seconds before he turned and complied with her request. As he closed the distance between, she congratulated herself on being courageous…for changing the rules and making the playing field between them level. She’d seen his, and now he’d seen hers. That was out of the way, and they could move forward.

She put out her hand for the loofah, her smile smug and delighted. What she hadn’t prepared for…was him pulling her gently, and oh, so tenderly, against him so the heat of his body seared hers, and then kissing her until she was gasping for air as her hands held on to his biceps for dear life.

Time froze and the kiss lasted forever, or maybe it was only several seconds. It was hard to tell, because all thought had fled from her mind. When he urged her against the shower wall and slowly pulled away, she saw his smile—one of such male satisfaction that anger bloomed inside of her.

“That’s why they call me…Boss. Well, one of the reasons.” He waited, as if he wanted her to respond.

She couldn’t believe the idiot was just standing there. Why did he have to speak? Why doesn’t the male species know when to leave well enough alone? That kiss had been amazing! If only he’d chosen to be a gentleman, and mute. She sighed as she gave in to her emotion.

“Out!” she said indignantly. Men! She’d get him back in less than half an hour, when his first duty of the morning would be regurgitating his breakfast onto his lap.

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About the Author

Anne Elizabeth is a romance author, comic creator, and a monthly columnist for RT Book Reviews magazine. With a BS in Business and MS in Communications from Boston University, she is a regular presenter at conventions as well as a member of The Author’s Guild and Romance Writers of America. Anne lives with her husband, a retired Navy SEAL, in the mountains above San Diego.

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery, Spotlight on December 8, 2016

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literally-dead-cover

Literally Dead (An Empty Nest Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Self Published (September 30, 2016)
Paperback: 218 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1940795386
E-Book ASIN: B01LWCW5C1

Synopsis

After her last disastrous episode as an amateur sleuth, Gracie Elliott is back. The budding romance writer has spent the past year crafting her first novel. Her hard work and determination pay off when her manuscript wins the Cream of the Crop award, a contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the Society of American Romance Authors. First place entitles her to attend the organization’s annual conference, normally open only to published authors.

With husband Blake in tow, a starry-eyed Gracie experiences the ultimate fan-girl moment upon entering the hotel. Her favorite authors are everywhere. However, within minutes she learns Lovinia Darling, the Queen of Romance, is hardly the embodiment of the sweet heroines she creates. Gracie realizes she’s stepped into a romance vipers’ den of backstabbing, deceit, and plagiarism, but she finds a friend and mentor in bestselling author Paisley Prentiss.

Hours later, when Gracie discovers Lovinia’s body in the hotel stairwell, a victim of an apparent fall, Gracie is not convinced her death was an accident. Too many other authors had reason to want Lovinia dead. Ignoring Blake’s advice to “let the police handle it,” Gracie, aided by Paisley, begins her own investigation into the death. Romance has never been so deadly.

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Excerpt

The wheels of my suitcase couldn’t spin fast enough as I pushed through the revolving door of the Crown Jewel Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Once inside the lobby, I stopped short and gazed awestruck, soaking in the writerly atmosphere. My heart pounded so fast I could hear it reverberating in my ears. Or maybe that was the din of the voices from hundreds of romance authors filling the forty-story marble and glass atrium.

My eyes bugged out as I scoped the room. “Oh my God, Blake!” I reached for my husband’s hand and squeezed it. “That’s Liz Phillips,” I released my grip on my suitcase handle and pointed in the direction of the bar off to my right. “And Elise Robertson.”

“Friends of yours?” asked my husband.

“I wish! They’re two of the most successful romance writers in the world. I can’t believe I’m standing only a few yards away from them!” Talk about a fan girl moment! One more superstar sighting and I just might need a brown paper bag to ward off imminent hyperventilation.

“Hurry!” I pulled him along, nearly tripping over my Kate Spades as I race-walked toward the shortest of several lines that serpentined from the hotel registration desk around the chic silver, white, and gray lobby.

Blake grabbed me, preventing me from executing a face plant. Then he spun me around and settled his hands on my shoulders. Lowering his head until our foreheads nearly touched, he said, “I know you’re excited, Gracie, but take a deep breath. Slow down. The conference doesn’t start for several hours. You’re not going to miss anything.”

I humored him by continuing at a jog instead of a sprint until I reached the back of the line. “I can’t believe I’m here!” I squealed, bouncing on the balls of my feet.

A year of slaving over my manuscript had finally paid off. “Just think, by this time next year I’ll probably be returning as Gracie Elliott, published romance author.”

“Don’t you mean Emma Carlyle?”

“Right. Sorry.” Since Blake didn’t think the stuffy old academics of the university governing board would take too kindly to a faculty wife writing sensuous romances—not that my writing rose anywhere near Fifty Shades level—I’d promised to publish under a pseudonym. Thus, Gracie Elliott would become Emma Carlyle on bookstore shelves.

“Besides, aren’t you forgetting something?”

“Like what?”

“You need to sell your book first.”

Leave it to Mr. Logical to burst my bubble. “Yes, of course, but I’m sure I’ll have plenty of offers here at the conference. After all, I’m the winner of the Society of American Romance Author’s Cream of the Crop writing competition. That’s a huge award. You should be excited for me, Blake. And proud of my accomplishment.”

“I am excited for you, sweetheart, and I’ve always been proud of you. You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met. You set yourself a goal, and you work until you accomplish it.” He pecked my cheek. “I just don’t want to see you disappointed.”

“Why would I be disappointed? You just said I always accomplish my goals, didn’t you?”

“Yes, but some goals take longer than others. Did winning this contest guarantee you a publishing contract?”

“No, but—”

“The win gives you the opportunity to attend this writing conference, nothing more. Let’s keep everything in perspective, okay?”

“Fine. But you’re going to eat those practical words of yours by the end of these three days.”

“I’d love nothing better than to see you prove me wrong.”

We inched our way up in line. “Notice anything odd?” he asked above the cacophony of conversations around us.

I glanced up at my husband, then around the massive lobby. “Odd?” Although this was my first writing conference, I’d attended my share of business conferences and conventions over the years. Prior to the industry downsizing that outsourced my job as a fabric designer overseas and left me jobless and pension-less, I’d spent many hours cooling my Kate Spades and Christian Louboutins in long, slow-moving hotel check-in lines. “Not really.”

“It’s a veritable estrogen brigade here, Gracie!”  My normally unflappable husband suddenly looked like the clueless hero of a fish-out-of-water romance novel.

About The Author

lois-winstonUSA 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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check out the other great blogs on this tour

December 1 – A Date with a Book – REVIEW

December 2 – Author Annette Drake’s blog – INTERVIEW

December 3 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST

December 4 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

December 4 – Community Bookstop – INTERVIEW

December 5 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

December 5 – I Read What You Write – REVIEW

December 6 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW

December 7 – Texas Book-aholic – REVIEW

December 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

December 9 – Island Confidential – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

December 10 – A Holland Reads – CHARACTER GUEST POST, SPOTLIGHT

December 10 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – SPOTLIGHT

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance on December 7, 2016

this-is-our-song-cover

Synopsis

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Samantha Chase crafts a tender, hopeful family-centered romance

She knows him by reputation

Riley Shaughnessy knew that to stand out in his large family, he’d have to go big. Making a name for himself as a musician wasn’t easy, but he followed his dreams to rock-star success. But the relentless expectations of fans is not helping the slump he’s in now. So of course the person who attracts him is the woman who is not impressed by fame.

Which gives Riley Shaughnessy a lot to prove

Entertainment reporter Savannah Daly is completely unfazed by pretty-boy rock stars. She’s just here to get her interview and write her story. But spending an entire month with the Shaughnessys is going to show Savannah a side of Riley she never could have guessed.

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Thoughts from Samantha/Playlist

I’m one of those people who can multi-task.  To a point.  I do like almost complete silence while I write with the exception of my Sounds of the Ocean soundtrack playing.  I can have twenty tabs open online and be on social media while I’m writing, but please don’t make me listen to anything!  But amazingly enough, on most of my books I do end up with a playlist that helps me get the job done.

I just don’t listen to it while I’m writing.

I turn to it when I’m blocked – when I’m stuck in a scene and need to get hyper-focused on my characters.  This is Our Song was kind of easy to have a playlist to because Riley is a musician.  There were songs that I felt like I could imagine him singing or that the lyrics really applied to him.

So what was on my list and why?  Here’s just one of the songs that was on my This is Our Song playlist!

Our Song by Matchbox Twenty:

This was the song that was inspiration for the title of the book.  I love the song and it makes me happy and when I was trying to think of something fun for Riley and Savannah, this was my obvious choice!

Favorite line:  I don’t know if someone else could handle me
I don’t know what I’m suppose to be
You’re the only one who really sees
You get me

I was lucky with This is Our Song because of Riley’s career.  Some books it will just be a single (as in one) song that is on my playlist to help me over the humps.  And sometimes I’ll have to listen to that song like five times in a row to get me in the proper mindset to write what I need to write.

Happy listening and I hope you enjoy This is Our Song!!

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Excerpt

He didn’t just beat her in the best of three.

Oh, no. That would have been too easy.

No, Savannah—who realized too late that she was a very sore loser—kept egging him on until he finally put the paddle down after beating her in twelve games. Twelve! Why did she have to keep taunting him? Even while they were playing she couldn’t make herself ask him anything important. They talked about useless stuff—favorite bands, favorite foods—hell, at one point she’d even asked him his favorite color.

She hung her head low in defeat and put her paddle on the table. Riley had excused himself and went to get them each a drink. She prayed it was vodka. Something to make her forget this humiliation.

His prize at the end of the first three games was that she’d stay and have dinner with him.

After the next three she’d stay for a movie.

She really thought she was going to beat him in the third round. Unfortunately, it had been her biggest loss, and he’d simply chuckled and said he’d have to think about his reward. And he’d repeated that after the fourth and final win.

Riley cleared his throat when he walked back into the room and handed her a glass of ice water. They drank in silence for a few minutes. “That was fun,” he finally said, and Savannah realized he wasn’t being obnoxious and he wasn’t gloating. He genuinely looked like he’d had a good time.

And despite all the losing, Savannah would have to agree. It was fun.

“How do you feel about salmon for dinner?”

“It’s one of my favorites,” she said and was relieved he wasn’t gloating.

“It’s kind of early yet. Maybe we can watch a movie first?”

That was a reasonable request, and she agreed. Together they picked out a classic Neil Simon movie from 1967, Barefoot in the Park. “Ooo…Robert Redford.” She sighed. “Another favorite.”

Tucked away in a corner was one of the biggest flat-screen TVs Savannah had ever seen. Riley noticed her stunned look. “It’s one hundred ten inches. They don’t come any bigger than this right now. The picture’s great too.”

Two oversized recliners were centered in front of the screen and they each sat down. Riley started the movie and within minutes Savannah was more relaxed and they were both laughing along with the story.

She kicked her sandals off and tucked her feet up on the chair beside her. Next she pulled the clip out of her hair so she could relax her head against the back of the comfortable chair. Looking to her right, she saw Riley was watching her. His expression was intense and for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out what was wrong. “Is everything okay?”

He didn’t answer right away.

“Riley?”

“I still have to decide what I get for winning those last two rounds,” he said, his voice low and gravelly.

Savannah nodded, hypnotized by the way his eyes had gone so dark.

“I’m going to combine them into one request,” he said, and it sounded more like a warning than a statement.

“Okay.” Her own voice was almost a breathy whisper.

Leaning closer, Riley’s eyes zeroed in on her lips before meeting her eyes. “Savannah?”

“Hmm?”

“I’m going to kiss you. Twice.”

“Oh.”

His hand snaked out and around her nape and slowly drew her closer to him. And then his lips touched hers and Savannah’s brain simply stopped functioning.

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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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on December 6, 2016

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author-becky-banks-serendipity-of-fate

Synopsis

It’s been two years since Cason McPherson watched his best friend die in his arms. With shrapnel in his hip and a war behind him, he keeps focused on building a civilian life and not on what he wants most: the woman of his dreams, Savannah. If only she’d stop bringing up topics he has to keep secrets about.

Savannah Sparling has no time for baggage, and Cason McPherson brought home a matching set in scathing green—with a carry-on duffel bag full of lies. He’s the childhood friend who enlisted with her brother. He came home, and her brother didn’t.

Balancing work with demanding clients while fulfilling a personal vendetta against Cason consumes Savannah’s already full schedule—until a series of unstoppable events leads to a collision between Savannah’s work and personal lives. Her carefully structured path in the world is crushed, her own blood is spilled, and passion between her and an unlikely bedfellow ignite.

Cason and Savannah find the only the people strong enough to save them from themselves is each other. But will either one of them accept the help—and the love—that’s offered?

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Excerpt

Scene setup: Cason has an attack of conscience and needs to apologize to Savannah for his behavior the day before. He goes to Savannah’s posh condo before work and to his surprise catches her in the midst of her morning routine.

When it didn’t open after a few minutes, he knocked again and called her name. Cason looked down as he waited. There on her step, damp from morning dew, was a package from her cell company. He bent over, grimaced at his hip, and picked it up just as the muffled padding of footsteps sounded inside.

The door yanked open, slamming against its chain. “What?” she asked.

“Oh,” he said, taken aback, looking at her from bare foot to robe to towel on her head.

“Yeah, I’m getting dressed, but nothing you haven’t seen before. What do you want?”

Cason knew then, looking at her, that he was kidding himself on why he was there and felt instantly grateful for the bargaining chip he had just picked up. “I’ve got something to say,” he said, holding up her package, “in exchange for your cell.”

Her eyes narrowed in irritation. “You can put that back down and leave. I don’t need another demeaning lecture this morning on how to be a better person from Mr. Military Hero McPherson, so buzz off.”

“I know,” he said, believing he had earned that comment.

She looked at him, and there was a brief second when he was optimistic she’d not slam the door in his face.

“Can I come in? I’ll be nice,” he added for good measure.

After a long pause, she shut the door in his face. He heard the chain being removed, and then the door cracked open. The padding of her footsteps sounded on the polished hardwoods, walking away from the door.

Cason slowly opened the door, feeling the tenuous truce between them, and then closed it behind him. He scanned the room as he took his boots off. The floors were dark polished wood. Huge white leather couches in the middle of the room looked out over the golf course woods. There was a white fur rug on the floor, and on the far side of the room a metal-and-clear-plastic dining set with a whacked-out ruffled white chandelier thing hanging over it. The kitchen was open to his left; a white marble-topped bar ran the length of it. Polished stainless-steel appliances dominated; the rest of the condo was all windows and black-and-white photographs. It was icy cold compared to Savannah’s mother’s house, which felt like a warm, straight-from-the-oven cookie.

He saw her across the condo go back into the bathroom and begin putting on her makeup; she’d changed into one of her starched white collared shirts that fit her snugly. He felt a tug in his belly when he realized she’d hastily buttoned it, but only halfway. It was untucked over one of her kneelength black skirts. He was definitely interrupting her morning routine, and it felt like just because he was there she wasn’t going to alter it one iota. And he didn’t blame her; if it were him, he would have already punched himself in the face.

She turned her head to look at him. “You can put that on the counter and go,” she said and then turned back to the mirror.

Cason did put the package on the counter, but he wasn’t going; he still had something on his mind. Instead, he busied himself. She had a fancy coffeemaker, but it hadn’t been programmed to make coffee that morning. He spotted the coffee grounds next to the machine and set to work. As he dumped grounds into the filter and added water, he felt his palms begin to sweat.

What am I doing?

A few moments later, Savannah, her hair wet but her shirt now buttoned and a black knee-length skirt on, came out to the kitchen. She tore open the cell phone box. “You’re still here. So, what is it that you wanted to tell me?” She powered the phone on.

Cason wanted to start with an apology but couldn’t. “Did you know your mom is dating?” he asked, resting his good hip against the counter and crossing his arms. As he looked at her, he remembered the way they were before he’d been discharged. They’d been friends. Good friends. Maybe even best friends. Being friends, high-fiving good platonic friends wouldn’t break the promise. Before he could think better of it, Savannah responded, eyebrows raised as she looked up at him, making his gut do that thing again.

“Are you kidding me?”

“Last night I got back to the house—she was doing the crossword with some guy.”

Savannah’s warm-chocolate gaze studied his face. He felt himself swallow, as if gulping down words that would get him into hot water of the non-platonic kind.

About the Author

beckybanksBecky Banks grew up, like the generations of Bankses before her, in the Hawaiian Islands. With the islands as her roots, Becky was raised within the time-honored tradition of “talking story” before a backdrop of grassy fields, blue waters, and cloud-clad mountains. She moved to the mainland after high school to attend Oregon State University, where she studied forestry, natural resources, and science education. One fateful day she realized that her decades of scribblings promised the makings of a romance writer. Becky’s first novel, The Legend of Lady MacLaoch, achieved the Night Owl Reviews Top Pick Award and Amazon’s Best Seller for Historical Romanc

Becky lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, Keith, and their wild toddler, Sammy.

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