Posted in 5 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, Monday, mystery, Review on March 13, 2017


Fatality by Firelight (A Cat Latimer Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
2nd in Series
Kensington (February 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496704375
E-Book ASIN: B01GBAG6VO

Synopsis

Cat Latimer’s Colorado bed-and-breakfast plays host to writers from all over. But murder is distinctly unwelcome . . .

To kick off a winter writing retreat, Cat and her handyman boyfriend, Seth, escort the aspiring authors to a nearby ski resort, hoping some fresh cold air will wake up their creative muses. But instead of hitting the slopes, they hit the bar—and before long, a tipsy romance novelist named Christina is keeping herself warm with a local ski bum who might have neglected to tell her about his upcoming wedding.

Next thing Cat knows, her uncle, the town sheriff, informs her that the young man’s been found dead in a hot tub—and Christina shows up crying and covered in blood. Now, between a murder mystery, the theft of a rare Hemingway edition, and the arrival of a black-clad stranger in snowy Aspen Hills, Cat’s afraid everything’s going downhill . .

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Review

I have really enjoyed this spinoff of the author’s Tourist Trap series. This is the second book n the series and I want to visit this town in Colorado and stay at this retreat even though I am not a writer.

There are several mysteries happening in this series. The first is one that will be seen in probably all of the books until solved, what happened to Cat’s ex-husband Michael. We gain a little more insight in this book as to what he might have been involved in or with whom.

The main mystery is the death of a local Lothario (or so he thinks) and of course one of the retreat visitors, Christina, was considered as the killer. She had some other issues back home and that seemed to add to the issue. It wasn’t a huge surprise who the killer was because this character was a bit odd/suspicious to me. I also did figure out another aspect having to do with Christina’s issues back home.

I like seeing Cat and Seth’s relationship continue. However, there is the introduction of Dante, that while it isn’t likely to become a love triangle, he does seem to be actively pursuing Cat. And how exactly does Dante fit into the story about her ex-husband? Only future books will tell us I think!

Overall great book and can’t wait to read more.  We give it 5 paws up

About the Author

USA Today and New York Times, best-selling author, Lynn Cahoon is an Idaho native. If you’d visit the town where she grew up, you’d understand why her mysteries and romance novels focus around the depth and experience of small town life. Currently, she’s living in a small historic town on the banks of the Mississippi river where her imagination tends to wander. She lives with her husband and four fur babies.

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March 1 – I Wish I Lived in a Library – REVIEW

March 2 – Classy Cheapskate – REVIEW

March 2 – Author Annette Drake’s Blog – INTERVIEW

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March 7 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 8 – Books, Dreams, Life – SPOTLIGHT

March 8 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 9 – Bea’s Book Nook – REVIEW

March 10 – A Holland Reader – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – The Bookwyrm’s Hoard – REVIEW, CHARACTER GUEST POST

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Posted in Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Pets, Review on March 11, 2017

Death by Chocolate Lab (Lucky Paws Petsitting Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Kensington (February 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 304 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1496707383
E-Book ASIN: B01GBAG2T0

Synopsis

Pet sitter Daphne Templeton has a soft spot for every stray and misfit who wanders into the quaint, lakeside village of Sylvan Creek. But even Daphne doesn’t like arrogant, womanizing Steve Beamus, the controversial owner of Blue Ribbon K-9 Academy. When Steve turns up dead during a dog agility trial, Daphne can think of a long list of people with motives for homicide, and so can the police. Unfortunately, at the top of the list is Daphne’s sister, Piper—Steve’s latest wronged girlfriend.

Certain that Piper is innocent, in spite of mounting evidence to the contrary, Daphne sets out to clear her sister’s name—and find Axis, Steve’s prize-winning chocolate Labrador, who went missing the night of Steve’s death. Aided by Socrates, her taciturn basset hound, and a hyperactive one-eared Chihuahua named Artie, Daphne quickly runs afoul of Detective Jonathan Black, a handsome and enigmatic newcomer to town, who has no appreciation for Daphne’s unorthodox sleuthing.

Can a free-spirited pet sitter, armed only with a Ph.D. in Philosophy and her two incompatible dogs, find the real killer before she becomes the next victim?

Includes recipes for homemade dog treats!

Review

I thought this was a great start to a new series…it contained one of my favorite things, dogs! There is a basset hound named Socrates and a chihuahua named Artie that is so ugly he is cute. There are a few other dogs including 3 rottweilers named after Shakespearean characters and a retriever named Axis.

The murder doesn’t happen right off the bat, but I will say I guessed who was killed before it was revealed. Now I’m sure you are thinking – but the synopsis says who was killed. Ok this is true, but I didn’t read that before I started reading this book. So I still give myself lots of credit for guessing that part!

Daphne is a free spirit. I love that she drives an old VW bus – perfect for hauling dogs around, as long as she remembers to fill up the gas tank. It was a shock to realize she had a PhD (in Philosophy) so she had to have had some sort of drive to accomplish that degree; however, her actions lead you to think otherwise. I think she is still lost in what she wants to do with her life. Her sister, Piper, is the opposite. Piper is very down to earth and organized, probably why she makes a great vet.

The mystery of who killed Steve was well written and I suspected a few other people but was totally shocked when the killer was revealed. Looking back there might have been one or two subtle clues but otherwise I really had no idea.

Of course you can’t have a mystery without a little potential romance. Detective Jon Black keep showing up trying to help solve the crime. I think he fancies Daphne and she might like him a little too despite dating Dylan, another free spirit. Although I don’t think she likes him quite that way.

We give this book 5 paws up.

About the Author

Bethany Blake lives in a small, quaint town in Pennsylvania with her husband and three daughters. When she’s not writing or riding horses, she’s wrangling a menagerie of furry family members that includes a nervous pit bull, a fearsome feline, a blind goldfish, and an attack cardinal named Robert. Like Daphne Templeton, the heroine of her Lucky Paws Mysteries, Bethany holds a Ph.D. and operates a pet sitting business called Barkley’s Premium Pet Care.

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March 7 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

March 8 – Melina’s Book Blog – REVIEW

March 8 – Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting – REVIEW

March 9 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW

March 9 – Texas Book-aholic – SPOTLIGHT

March 9 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW

March 10 – My Reading Journeys – REVIEW

March 10 – The Book’s the Thing – SPOTLIGHT

March 10 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

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March 11 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 11 – Sleuth Cafe – SPOTLIGHT

March 12 – The Power of Words – REVIEW

March 12 – Mystery Thrillers and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 13 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

March 13 – Cozy Up WIth Kathy – INTERVIEW

March 14 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 14 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, &, Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT

March 15 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on March 9, 2017

Kneaded to Death (A Bread Shop Mystery)
Cozy Mystery
New Series
Kensington (February 28, 2017)
Mass Market Paperback: 352 pages

Synopsis

Everyone swears by Yeast of Eden, the Mexican bread shop in town. But tonight, the only thing on the menu is la muerte . . .

Struggling photographer Ivy Culpepper has lots of soul-searching to do since returning to seaside Santa Sofia, California. That is, until the thirty-six-year-old enters a bread making class at Yeast of Eden. Whether it’s the aroma of fresh conchas in the oven, or her instant connection with owner Olaya Solis, Ivy just knows the missing ingredients in her life are hidden among the secrets of Olaya’s bakery . . .

But Ivy’s spirits crumble when a missing classmate is suddenly discovered dead in her car. Even more devastating, the prime suspect is Olaya Solis herself. Doubting the woman could commit such a crime, Ivy embarks on a murder investigation of her own to prove her innocence and seize the real killer. As she follows a deadly trail of crumbs around town, Ivy must trust her gut like never before—or someone else could be toast!

Review

I always enjoy checking out a new cozy series, especially when there is food involved! This series revolves around a bakery called Yeast of Eden and the author does a great job of making my mouth water when she describes all the different breads. I especially enjoy the tips on baking bread because even though I don’t bake bread often, the tips are very handy to keep in the back of my mind.

There are several mysteries that need to be solved in this book. Of course there is the main murder of Jackie, a local cooking school owner. Why was she killed? The reason will surprise you because it sure did surprise me. The author takes you down another path and while there is some merit it isn’t all it seems to be. Then there is Ivy’s mother that was killed 6 months prior. All seems to reflect a hit and run, but Ivy just can’t accept that there isn’t more. Could it have been murder? And if so, are the deaths tied together?

When it came time to revealing the killer I was quite surprised because this person was not even on my radar. I don’t think there were any clues to tip us off that it was this character. In fact, I was starting to suspect one of the main characters (not going to tell you who, you’ll have to read the book because this character might become a suspect in your mind too!) but was very relieve it was not her.

This book also focuses on grief – from Ivy and her father over losing her mother, to Miguel’s loss of his father and even Jackie’s daughter. I hope that in future books knowing the truth about Ivy’s mother will help her family move on past the grief.

Lastly, there is a hint at a possible romance being rekindled between Ivy and Miguel. They dated in high school and then he left town. Ivy’s heart was broken but will she get past that hurt? I think probably so.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

The indefatigable Winnie Archer is a middle school teacher by day, and a writer by night. Born in a beach town in California, she now lives in an inspiring century old house in North Texas and loves being surrounded by real-life history. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with both yoga and chocolate, adores pumpkin spice lattes, is devoted to her five kids and husband, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams.

Winnie Archer Website

Winnie Archer is the pseudonym for national bestselling author Melissa Bourbon.

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March 1 – Cinnamon, Sugar, and a Little Bit of Murder – REVIEW

March 1 – Bookworm Mom – REVIEW

March 2 – Reading Is My SuperPower – REVIEW

March 2 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – INTERVIEW

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March 3 – Rainy Day Reviews – REVIEW

March 4 – Shelley’s Book Case – REVIEW, GUEST POST

March 4 – Island Confidential – INTERVIEW

March 5 – Laura’s Interests – REVIEW

March 5 – Bibliophile Reviews – REVIEW

March 6 – Valerie’s Musings – REVIEW

March 6 – Book Babble – REVIEW

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March 11 – Lisa Ks Book Reviews – REVIEW, INTERVIEW

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Posted in Cozy, excerpt, Giveaway, mystery on March 8, 2017

Facials Can Be Fatal (A Bad Hair Day Mystery)

Cozy Mystery
13th in Series
Five Star Publishing (February 22, 2017)
Hardcover: 286 pages
ISBN-13: 978-1432832827

Synopsis

During the frenzy of the December holidays, the last thing salon owner Marla Vail needs is a dead body slathered in a green facial mask at her new day spa. The victim, Valerie Weston, was a major donor for Friends of Old Florida, a historic building preservation society. Marla’s stylists are scheduled to work backstage at their upcoming gala fashion show, but Val’s demise might put a crimp in their plans. Hoping to salvage her reputation, Marla determines to track down the suspects. As she learns more about Val, she realizes the benefactress might have stumbled onto secrets others would kill to keep. She’d better prepare for a body count that has nothing to do with hot stone massages and everything to do with murder.

Excerpt

A blood-curdling scream pierced the air. “Oh, my God, what is that?”

Without hesitation, Marla sprinted toward the sound. She came to an abrupt halt further back among the maze of rooms where people formed a semi-circle. They faced a man slumped against the wall, a screwdriver-type tool sticking from his chest. Crimson stained his dress shirt.

“It’s Jason Faulks,” Marla said, recognizing him. “Is he dead?”

“I think so,” squeaked a trembling woman in a housekeeping uniform. She must have been the person whose shrieks had summoned them.

“Stay calm, the police will want to talk to you. That goes for everyone here. And stop taking videos, please.” Horrified that some of the onlookers were filming like they had at her day spa after Val’s death, Marla personally knocked down a few of the people’s raised arms.

“What’s going on?” Dalton’s voice thundered from behind.

With a whoosh of relief, she spun to face him. “It’s about time. Where have you been?”

“I was interviewing folks.” His gaze swung toward the object of people’s fascination. “Oh, no. Don’t tell me you’ve found another one.”

She gave a hysterical half-laugh. “Not me. That maid was first on the scene.”

Dalton was already pulling out his cell phone. He barked a few orders to the crowd and then stepped aside for privacy while he called for assistance.

Marla’s glance returned to the photographer who wouldn’t be covering these events any longer. And speaking of coverage, where was Jason’s camera? His camera bag lay open on the floor, but a quick glance told her it was empty. The camera had been too bulky to fit in a pocket.

She scanned the area, wishing the onlookers would disperse but knowing the cops had to get their statements and contact info first. The space was cluttered with furniture needing repairs, heavy-duty cleaning equipment, extension cords, and other miscellaneous items that would make a search difficult. Her stomach sank. It also meant Dalton might not be home for hours.

About the Author

Nancy J. Cohen writes the Bad Hair Day Mysteries featuring South Florida hairstylist Marla Vail. Titles in this series have made the IMBA bestseller list and been selected by Suspense Magazine as best cozy mystery. Nancy has also written the instructional guide, Writing the Cozy Mystery. Her imaginative romances, including the Drift Lords series, have proven popular with fans as well. A featured speaker at libraries, conferences, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who’s Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets. When not busy writing, she enjoys fine dining, cruising, visiting Disney World, and shopping.

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

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March 4 – Readeropolis – REVIEW

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March 6 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – INTERVIEW

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March 8 – The Mysterious Ink Spot – GUEST POST

March 8 – StoreyBook Reviews – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 9 – The Book’s the Thing – REVIEW

March 10 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Texas on March 8, 2017

Synopsis

One cowboy. One cowgirl. One ranch.

Who will win the Double Deuce by the Fourth of July?

Adele O’Donnell knew that Double Deuce Ranch had to be hers the second she walked onto the property. Freshly divorced, she sees it as the perfect spot for her and the kids to start a new life. Remington Luckadeau was always a carefree playboy…until his suddenly orphaned nephews became his responsibility. The Double Deuce Ranch would be the perfect place to raise two boys. But some fiery woman is fighting him for it, and Remington is not sharing—no matter how the sparks fly when he and Adele are together.

Excerpt

The gleam in the old cowboy’s blue eyes and the way he rubbed his chin were Adele’s first clues that he definitely had something up the sleeve of his faded, old work shirt. He glanced first at her and then over at Remington Luckadeau.

She bit back a groan. The good old boys’ club was about to rear its head. They’d argue that ranching took brawn and muscle and that a woman couldn’t run the Double Deuce all alone, that women were respected in the ranching business these days, but when it came right down to it, he would feel better selling to a man.

No, sir!

She didn’t hold out any hope that the old toot would sell the ranch to her.

“Well, now.” Walter Jones gave his freshly shaven chin one more rub. “I expect we’ve got us one of them dilemma things, don’t we?”

That sly smile on Remington’s face said he already knew she would be going home empty-handed. With that mop of blond hair that kissed his shirt collar, those steel-blue eyes, and his chiseled face and wide shoulders—Lord have mercy—any woman would roll over and play dead to give him what he wanted.

But not Adele.

She wanted the Double Deuce, and she’d do whatever it took to get it so she could have a place to raise her daughters. Remington Luckadeau could spit on his knuckles and get ready for a fierce battle.

The Double Deuce Ranch was absolutely perfect in every aspect. The two-storied, four-bedroom house couldn’t have been better laid out for Adele and her two daughters, Jett and Bella. The acreage was big enough to make a living but small enough she could manage it on her own, for the most part. And it was close to her family—the O’Donnells over around Ringgold, Texas.

“You both want the ranch, but I can only sell to one of you. I talked to my lady friend, Vivien, about it. I talked to God about it before I went to sleep, and I talked to my old cow dog, Boss, about it this mornin’ before y’all got here.”

“And?” Adele asked.

“And not a one of them was a bit of help, so I don’t know which one of you to sell this place to any more than I did yesterday, after you’d both come and looked over the place and left me to think about it.”

Adele had known there was another person interested in the ranch. Walter had been up-front about that, saying he’d talked with Remington Luckadeau that morning and he was ready to meet Walter’s asking price.

“We can’t both buy it, so I guess you’ll have to make a decision,” Adele said.

Remington nodded.

***

Remington slid down in the kitchen chair so he could study the red-haired woman sitting in front of him. The hard Texas sunlight flowing through the kitchen window brought out every cute, little freckle sprinkled across Adele’s nose. Faded jeans, a chambray shirt worn open over a bright-yellow tank top, and cowboy boots worn at the heels said she was a no-nonsense rancher.

Those two feisty girls out there on the porch with his two nephews were dressed pretty much the same way as their mother. Any other time, he might have tipped his hat and given her the option to buy the Double Deuce, but not today. The ranch was the perfect size for what he had in his bank account. The house would be just right for him and his two nephews, Leo and Nick, the boys he’d inherited when his brother and sister-in-law were killed in a car accident several months ago. And besides, it wasn’t far from his Luckadeau relatives in Ringgold and Saint Jo, Texas.

So today, Adele O’Donnell was going to have to walk away disappointed. Too bad, because he’d always been attracted to redheads, and he’d have loved to see how she felt in his arms on the dance floor of the nearest honky-tonk.

“So.” Walter cleared his throat. “I’ve come to a decision.”

Remy straightened up in his chair.

“The Luckadeaus are my friends, but so are the O’Donnells. So I can’t sell this to either of you on the basis of friendship. Vivien and I have planned a monthlong cruise, and we are leaving in one week. We fly out of Dallas on the last day of May and get back home on the last day of June.”

“I’ll beat your asking price,” Remy said quickly.

“It’s not got to do with money. Here’s what I am willin’ to do, though. You both move in here on the morning that me and Vivien leave. Y’all take care of this ranch for me for a month. When I get back, whichever one of you is still here can have it. If you both still want it, we’ll draw straws or play poker for it. If you decide you can’t work together or that the ranch ain’t what you want, you can call Chet to come take over for you. His number is on the front of the refrigerator. Only rule I’ve got is that you’d best take good care of Boss. He’s been a good cow dog, and he likes leftovers from the table, so cook a little extra at each meal. He’s not real picky. He’ll eat most anything a human will, but he doesn’t like pizza. And you have to take real good care of Jerry Lee.”

“Who is Jerry Lee?” Adele asked.

“He’s my rooster. Pretty little thing, but he never has learned to crow in the morning. He’s a late riser, so he crows either in the middle of the day or about dinnertime. I named him Jerry Lee because he’s got swagger and he sings real pretty like Jerry Lee Lewis.”

“I’ll take good care of your dog and your rooster,” Adele said, shooting a defiant look right at Remy.

“So will I.” Remy nodded coolly. “What about the one who doesn’t win the luck of the draw?”

“Then that one gets a decent paycheck,” Walter said.

“I don’t need to think about it,” Adele said quickly. “I’m in.”

Remy nodded. “I don’t have to think about it either.”

Walter pushed back his chair and stood. “Good, then I’ll look for you both to be here a week from today. You’ve seen the place. There’ll be hay to cut and haul, fields to plow, and planting to do, as well as the everyday chores with feeding and taking care of the cattle and ranch. I’ve made a list of what I want done before I get back, and I’ll leave it stuck to the refrigerator door.”

“I’m not afraid of hard work,” Adele said. “One question, though. How does Boss feel about cats?”

“Strange as it seems, he loves them. My wife, God rest her soul”—Walter looked up at the ceiling—“used to have an old barn cat that had kittens real often. Boss thought he was their grandpa.”

“Then you don’t mind if we bring our cat?” she asked.

“Not a bit. You got a problem with that, Remy?” Walter asked.

Remy shook his head.

“Thank you,” Adele said softly.

Crap! Remy didn’t hate cats, and thank God the boys weren’t allergic to them, but that soft, sweet, southern voice could easily distract him from his mission. Remy would have to keep on his toes every day for the entire month of June, and that wouldn’t be easy. For years, every woman had been a potential notch on his bedpost. Six months ago, Remy had been the resident bad boy of the Texas Panhandle. He’d spent his weekends in local bars, dancing and sweet-talking the pretty girls into his bed. Then his whole life turned around when his two nephews were tossed into his life. Since he’d started taking care of them, dating had slowed down. Now, he’d be forced to live with a woman he was clearly attracted to.

Walter started toward the door. The meeting was over. “Just bring your personal things. When I sell this place, it goes lock, stock, and barrel—furniture, equipment, everything but my own keepsakes,” he said. “Vivien and I are leaving at nine o’clock. If one of y’all ain’t here, then the other one will automatically get the place.”

Adele pushed her chair back, and in one fluid motion, she was on her feet. He’d figured she was tall when he sat down across from her and his long legs almost touched hers under the table. But when she stood up, he got the full effect of the way her hips curved out from her small waist, and for a split second, he could feel her in his arms.

Remy shook the image from his head. He had a long, hot month ahead of him, and he needed to think of Adele as an adversary, not a potential date.

“Do we move?” Nick asked when Remy stepped out onto the porch.

“We are moving onto the ranch to take care of it for Mr. Jones for a month. If we do a good job, he might sell to us in time for the Fourth of July party we’re planning.” Remy told his fourteen-year-old nephew.

“Mama?” asked the smaller of the two girls that Adele had brought along with her.

“Same thing here, girls. We’ll be moving here in one week to live for a month. Then Mr. Jones will decide which of us gets to buy the ranch,” Adele answered.

“You”—the girl pointed at Leo and wiggled her head like a bobblehead doll—“are going down. You don’t know jack squat about a ranch, so you might as well give up before you even start.”

“Jett!” Adele chided.

“Well, it’s the truth,” Jett said. “He don’t even want to live on a ranch. He’s a city boy who don’t even know who Billy Currington is. He’d hate living on this ranch.”

“Just because you lived on a ranch don’t mean you’re that smart,” Nick shot back. “Uncle Remy can teach me everything about ranching in one afternoon. I’m a fast learner.”

“Me, too.” Leo combed his carrot-red hair with his fingertips and tipped up his chin three notches.

“Okay, boys. It’s one thing to say something; it’s another to do it. Let’s get on home and get our things in order so we’ll be ready to move next week. There’s only four bedrooms, so you’ll have to share.”

Leo, who had already left the porch, kicked at the dirt. “Uncle Remy, Nick gripes if I even leave a wrinkle in the bed. He’s so neat that he shoulda been a girl.” He sighed.

“No!” Nick raised his voice. “Leo never picks up anything and—”

“Enough,” Remy said. “Into the truck. We’ve got a lot to do and a short time to get it done.”

Leo crawled into the big, black, dual-cab truck. Just before he slammed the door, he caught Jett’s eye and stuck out his tongue.

“Young man, you’re going to have to live in the same house and work with those girls,” Remy said sternly.

Leo rolled his eyes upward. “They are so bossy. Living in the country isn’t going to be easy, but living around those two prissy girls…” He sighed. “Do we really have to do this, Uncle Remy?”

“We’ll come out stronger men,” he said.

A picture of Adele’s full, kissable lips flashed through his mind. Prissy wasn’t a word he’d use to describe any of the O’Donnell women.

Nick groaned. “If we live through it.”

“We are Luckadeau men. We’ll take the bull by the horns, look him right in the eye, and dare him to charge at us.” Even as the words came out, Remy wondered if he was talking to his nephews or himself.

“I’d rather fight a bull,” Leo grumbled. “And they ain’t bulls. They’re girls, and we’re Luckadeaus.”

“Daddy used to tell us that when a Luckadeau sets his mind, it’s set forever,” Nick said.

“Your daddy was right.” Remy nodded.

Moving the boys from their house in the middle of Denton, Texas, to a ranch would be tough on them, but Remy could not live in town. He’d been fortunate enough to sell his brother’s house for enough to pay off the existing mortgage and put a little into savings for the boys’ college funds.

Remy had worked for the past fifteen years on a ranch out in the Texas Panhandle. He’d started as a hired hand and worked his way up to foreman. Today, he had enough money in his bank account to buy the Double Deuce, and it was the perfect place for the boys to have a brand-new start. It damn sure wouldn’t be easy to live in the same house with a woman like Adele and not flirt, but it was doable with the ranch as a prize at the end of the road.

“So you boys going to help me make those women see that they don’t really want our ranch? Or are we going to let them win?” Remy asked.

“Ain’t no way I’m going to back down from them two,” Nick declared.

Leo chimed right in. “Me either.”

***

“Let’s look at another ranch. I don’t want to live in the same house with those two obnoxious boys,” Bella said as they drove away from the Double Deuce.

Adele smiled. “You must really not like those boys to be pulling out your four-dollar words.”

“That tells you how much, Mama,” Bella said.

“We don’t have time to train them,” Jett added.

Adele didn’t think they’d have to do much training. Not with a cowboy like Remy Luckadeau for an uncle. That man was comfortable in his skin, and there wasn’t a doubt in her mind that he’d know the business every bit as well as she did. In any other circumstance, there could be chemistry between them. He was exactly what she’d always been attracted to, with his blond hair, blue eyes, and cowboy swagger, but then he was also what she’d been running away from when she’d married Isaac Levy.

You see how that turned out, the smart-ass voice in her head said.

Yes, she did see how it turned out. Isaac was the only son of a family who had dealt in diamonds right in the middle of Dallas, Texas, for more than fifty years. When they’d married, he’d moved Adele into his penthouse apartment, and she’d lived the life she’d thought she wanted.

Right up until Bella was born two years after the wedding. And then she’d started to yearn for her country roots. A child needed fresh air and sunshine, not parties and nannies. Isaac had loved her enough to buy a two-hundred-acre ranch between McKinney and Blue Ridge. The commute wasn’t bad because he had a driver, but after Jett was born, he spent more and more weeknights at the penthouse.

“Why do we have to move from our ranch anyway?” Jett folded her small arms over her chest.

“The same reason we had to change our last name to O’Donnell,” Bella answered. “Father has a new wife and a son, and we don’t matter anymore.”

Her daughter’s tone created a lump in Adele’s throat that she couldn’t swallow down. Tears welled in her eyes, but she kept them at bay. Bella had put it into the simplest language possible, but the story was far more complex than that.

“Your father will come to his senses someday,” she said softly.

“But it might be too late,” Bella declared. “He’s mean, making us move off the ranch.”

It wasn’t the time or the place to tell the girls that part of the marriage problems had been her fault. Isaac thought he was getting a socialite who loved the fast lane, and he never would have asked her to marry him if he’d realized she wasn’t ready to break all ties with her country roots.

“We are going to love this new ranch so much that we’ll never look back at the old one. Even though they don’t have any ranching experience, I just wonder if you two are big and mean enough to show those two boys that nobody can outwork three tough O’Donnell women.”

Jett unfolded her arms, leaned up from the backseat of the bright-red, dual-cab truck, and patted her mother on the shoulder. “They ain’t got a chance in hell.”

“Jett!” Bella scolded.

“Well, Uncle Cash says that, and nobody fusses at him. Besides, I believe it. We’re tough and mean, and we can out-ranch any old boy in the state of Texas,” Jett said.

“We’ve got a week to pack all our things, put them in storage, and load up the truck with just what we need for a month,” Adele said as she turned east toward Gainesville.

Adele’s cell phone rang. She saw a picture of her sister, Cassie, smiling at her. She answered it on the fourth ring and hit the Speaker button.

“We have not bought the ranch yet,” she said and went on to tell her sister the deal that Walter had come up with.

Cassie giggled the whole way through the story.

“What’s so funny about that?” Adele asked.

“Those boys don’t stand a chance. Not any one of them—the grown one or the two kids,” Cassie said. “I’ll put my money on my sister and my nieces any day of the week.”

“Yes!” Bella and Jett squealed at the same time.

“Thank you, Aunt Cassie. We won’t let you down,” Jett said.

“What are you doing today?” Adele asked her sister.

“Haulin’ hay, but I’d rather be doing something else in the hayloft with my boyfriend,” Cassie said.

“Cassandra Grace O’Donnell!” Adele raised her voice.

“Don’t you double name me. Only Mama gets to do that, and I was talking about kissing my boyfriend. He’s really good at kissing.” Cassie laughed.

“I miss y’all,” Adele said wistfully. “If I get to buy this ranch, I’m having a big Fourth of July party to celebrate. Y’all had better be there.”

“Wild horses couldn’t keep me away. Is this new cowboy sexy? Maybe I’ll visit for a weekend between now and then,” Cassie said.

“No!” The girls’ loud voices bounced around in the truck cab.

“Why? Don’t you want to see me?” Cassie asked.

“We love you,” Bella said. “But we don’t want Remy Luckadeau in the family at all, and if he sees you, then he’ll fall in love with you. Besides, we like Clinton just fine. Go kiss on him in the hayloft, and stay away until the ranch belongs to us.”

“If you promise to work hard and show Mr. Jones that you are the right people to sell his ranch to, then I’ll stay away until you’ve run those old boys off your land. But, girls, Clinton and I broke up a while ago,” Cassie said seriously. “The new man in my life is Dusty Dillard. We’ve only been on two dates, but I like him a lot.”

“Is he as pretty as Clinton?” Bella asked.

“No, but he’s a lot nicer,” Cassie said.

“I thought Clinton was nice, and I like his name better than Dusty,” Jett said.

“Wait until you meet him. Are you taking Blanche?” Cassie asked.

“Of course,” Jett answered quickly. “We wouldn’t leave her behind. Mama, please tell me that man didn’t say we couldn’t bring Blanche.”

“I asked about bringing a cat and he said it was fine,” Adele said.

Cassie laughed again. “The old hussy would die if you left her. Besides, isn’t she about ready to pop out another litter in the next couple of weeks?”

“Yes, she is,” Bella said. “And I hope both of them boys hate cats.”

“And you, Sister Adele? How do you feel about living with a cowboy?”

“I’m not living with him. I’m sharing a house with him for a month. And don’t call me Sister Adele. I’m not a nun,” Adele said curtly.

“These past two years you have been. Promise you’ll call me often,” she said. “Got to go. The hay wagon is here, and it’s time to stack bales.”

Adele hit the End button, and the screen on the phone went dark. She caught a movement in her peripheral vision and glanced over to see two little boys glaring at her from the windows of a black truck. A whole month with those two smart-ass kids just might make her move all the way to Wyoming or Montana.

She looked in the rearview mirror, and there was Jett, giving the boys the old stink eye. In seconds, they sped on past her, whipped over in front of her truck, and moved on ahead pretty quickly. No doubt about it—this was going to be a long month!

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author and RITA Finalist, Carolyn Brown, has published more than seventy books.  These days she is concentrating on her two loves:  women’s fiction and contemporary cowboy romance. She and her husband, a retired English teacher, make their home in southern Oklahoma.

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Posted in 4 paws, Cozy, Giveaway, mystery, Review on March 7, 2017

Pressed to Death (A Perfectly Proper Paranormal Museum Mystery)
2nd in Series
Publisher: Midnight Ink (March 8, 2017)
Paperback: 336 pages
ISBN-13: 978-0738750316
Kindle ASIN: B01FOR0Z7G

Synopsis

Paranormal museum owner Maddie Kosloski thinks she has the perfect paranormal exhibit for the harvest festival—a haunted grape press. But when she’s accused of stealing the press, and her accuser is found murdered, all eyes turn to Maddie.

Maddie knows well the perils of amateur sleuthing and is reluctant to get involved. But her mother insists she investigate. Does her mom have a secret agenda? Or is she somehow connected to the murder?

Facing down danger and her own over-active imagination, Maddie must unearth the killer before she becomes the next ghost to haunt her museum.

Review

This series is a great combination of mystery and paranormal – the paranormal is very light as it is a paranormal museum and there is no telling if the items in the museum are actually haunted or not. Although the museum cat, GD, apparently can sense spirits.

The great thing about this series so far (as it is just the 2nd book) is that Maddie solves the crimes in the present and in the past. In both books there are unsolved crimes that are resolved as they seem to tie into main story line. This time it is a haunted wine press and Maddie purchases but the seller ends up dead after claiming it was stolen. Of course Maddie is a suspect and one of the police detectives, Laurel Hamilton, is definitely out to get Maddie. Laurel holds a grudge and does what she can to make Maddie’s life miserable. I’m actually surprised that she gets away with what she does, but it is a small town and sometimes those small towns have a different outlook.

The mystery itself was well written as I didn’t quite figure out who the killer was and the why was a surprise too. I do like that Maddie doesn’t try and confront the killer herself and brings in the police to apprehend the perpetrator.

Maddie does have a love interest, Mason, but some things come up with him and a person from his past and a situation that he has to deal with. While we don’t know what exactly the situation is until about 3/4 of the way through the book, I did figure out why this person was back in town. It does put a crimp in their relationship so we will have to see how it pans out in coming books.

Overall I enjoyed the book and can’t wait for the next book to come out.  We give it 4 paws up

About the Author

KIRSTEN WEISSKirsten Weiss grew up in San Mateo, California. After getting her MBA, she joined the Peace Corps, starting an international career that took her around the fringes of the defunct USSR and into the Afghan war zone. Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.

She writes paranormal mystery and suspense, blending her experiences and imagination to create vivid worlds of magic and mayhem.

Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching ghost Whisperer re-runs and drinking good wine.

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March 10 – Queen of All She Reads – REVIEW

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Posted in 4 paws, Giveaway, Literary, Review on March 5, 2017

FOY: ON THE ROAD TO LOST

by

GORDON ATKINSON

  Genre: Literary Fiction

Publisher: Material Media LLC

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Date of Publication: March 1, 2017

Number of Pages: 194

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Gordon Atkinson, of the popular blog RealLivePreacher, brings us Foy, a recently- divorced, recently-resigned pastor in the midst of redefining personal meaning. As Foy travels to New Orleans, hoping to find a new identity separate from the church, he keenly observes the everyday, rendering ordinary moments unexpectedly significant. Atkinson’s own background as a preacher and blogger inspires Foy’s confessional voice, the voice which characterizes this story about how our own experiences impact the universal search for meaning.

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PRAISE FOR FOY: ON THE ROAD TO LOST

“If the magnitude of difference between the stars and humankind is the purest of religions, reminding us of our insignificance (so thinks Foy), then that magnitude is collapsed in the hands of Atkinson, whose words elevate the most insignificant of objects, acts, and characters to startling heights. A key shifted on a desk, a communion cup offered to an old woman despite a philosophical mismatch, a baby’s bottle first ignored and then retrieved for a frazzled stranger on a bus. Each commands, each arrests, each persists. And we suddenly remember that what we create with mere words can be as lasting as the luminaries.”  — L.L. Barkat, author of Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing, twice named a best book of 2011

“Few writers can match Gordon Atkinson’s ability to tell stories about the sacred in our everyday lives. Foy is a work of power, beauty, and clarity–I saw myself and the world more clearly after reading it. I think you will too.”  — Greg Garrett, author of The Prodigal and Entertaining Judgment

“I really, really like Gordon Atkinson’s Foy. I like the character Foy himself. He’s Everyman and he’s me and he’s Gordon, all at the same time. Nice trick. I like Gordon’s writing — straightforward, but with a simple elegance. But what I really like is the no-holds-barred honesty. This feels real because it is real. Foy at his worst, Foy at his best, Foy at his most wonderful/awful. It’s an on-going series, just like life. I look forward to the next chapter.”  — Robert F. Darden, author of Nothing but Love in God’s Water, Volume II: Black Sacred Music from Sit-Ins to Resurrection City

New Novel by Gordon Atkinson Foy: On the Road to Lost, to be released March 1 from Material Media on Vimeo.

Books in the Literary Fiction genre seem to be hit and miss with me.  However, Foy surprised me and I found this introspective look back at his life very fascinating.  The book starts off and Foy is being let go from the church where he is a pastor.  I think it is something of a shock, and like most people that are let go, he seems to stumble around trying to figure out what he should be doing with his life.  The following chapters are a flashback of his life and how he got to this point.  I liked that each chapter was more of a snapshot of an influential time in his life, whether he knew it or not at the time.  It seems like he was meant to be a preacher from his early days, but was that because he was emulating his father?

This book also peeks inside Foy’s relationship with God and religion, and perhaps it causes the reader to also consider how they feel or what they believe when it comes to God and religion.  One paragraph (or close) made me think a little.  This is from the Bearing Witness chapter – “I think hell is a place where God is not.  And if people don’t want to be with God, then he honors that choice and they can be away from God for eternity.  If that’s what they choose, he’ll give it to them.  But I think hell must be a terrible place if God is absent from it.”  This gave me pause and actually changed my thinking on how to perceive hell (whether there is one or not is a whole other topic!)

Another paragraph that stood out to me is from The Sermon chapter.  “The thing about forgiveness is, we don’t even know what the hell it means.  People are always saying “Forgive me” or “I forgive you”, but we don’t define it.  That’s a problem.”  This is tied to a biblical verse that talks about forgiving someone not seven times, but seventy times seven.  If you think about it, that is a lot of forgiveness.  What could someone do 490 times (70 x 7) that you would forgive them every single time?  For most people it would never get that far before they had enough of the situation.

The only thing I don’t really like in this book is the use of the f* bomb.  Ironically there is a chapter titled F-Bomb and there is a bit of humor in that chapter tied to this word, but there were many other uses of the word in this book that weren’t really necessary.  Maybe I grew up in a sheltered household, but I don’t recall this word being used much in the 70’s and 80’s.  I could be wrong though.

The book doesn’t really end and in the notes from the author it seems that he is working on a Part II that will pick up where this book ends.

Overall I give it 4 paws and if you are looking for a book that will make you think, then check out this one.

Atkinson is the author of the books RealLivePreacher.com (Wm. B. Eerdmans), Turtles All the Way Down, and A Christmas Story You’ve Never Heard.  He was a contributor for the magazine Christian Century and founding editor for the High Calling website, which brought together hundreds of independent writers and featured their work.

His writing career started on Salon where he was among the most read bloggers on the site.  One of his essays was chosen to be included in The Best Christian Writing 2004 (Jossey-Bass) and his book RealLivePreacher.com won the Independent Publisher Book Award in the creative non-fiction category.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, romance on March 3, 2017

Title: Her True Match

Author: Paige Tyler

Series: X-Ops, #6

ISBN: 9781492625926

Pubdate: March 7, 2017

Genre: Paranormal

Synopsis

FORCED TOGETHER

When feline shifter Dreya Clark is escorted from the police interrogation by two secret agents, she thinks she’s dodged a bullet. That sexy detective Braden Hayes caught her stealing red-handed. When she finds out what she has to do to stay out of jail, suddenly she’s missing the hot cop with the piercing gaze. She’s being recruited for her shifter abilities by the Department of Covert Operations.

WILL DANGER RIP THEM APART?

Braden has been chasing the smart-mouthed cat burglar for years. But when Dreya’s taken away, he knows their game of cat and mouse has turned deadly-serious. There’s no way he’ll let her go off alone. Fur flies and temperatures flare as Braden realizes Dreya is much more than she appears. Thrown together on a dangerous covert mission, this unlikely pair will have to rely on each other to make it out alive.

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Little Known Fact from Her True Match

Thorn wants to send DCO agents Landon Donovan and Ivy Halliwell up to Maine to look for a doctor (Kamal Mahsood) who may have finally figured out how to make functional hybrids. Landon and Ivy have no idea why Thorn wants to get his hands on a hybrid, but they know they have to stop him. Handling this side arc and the main arc with Dreya and Braden added a lot of timeline complexity to the story, and definitely kept hubby, who’s my writing partner, and me on our toes from a brainstorming and advanced planning perspective.

Excerpt

“How do you know I wasn’t testing the security system?” Dreya asked, her lips curving into a coy smile.

Braden sat across from the beautiful thief in one of the burglary section’s interrogation rooms, working hard to keep from smiling back at her. Even though he knew her record backward and forward, he was still having a hell of a time maintaining a professional detachment. He was good in the interrogation room, but Dreya was better. She charmed, she flirted, and she controlled where she wanted the conversation to go. Braden had already been forced to toss Mick out of the room. His partner had come damn close to asking their suspect out on a date, even though she was sitting at the table wearing a pair of handcuffs.

Though Braden had to admit she made the cuffs look good. Even now, she was sitting at the table with her long, blond hair cascading around her shoulders, talking animatedly with her hands as if the heavy stainless steel cuffs were a fashion accessory. He wasn’t even sure when she’d gotten her hair out of the braid it had been in before, but he had the crazy urge to run his fingers through it. He resisted—barely. Dreya had been saying since they’d brought her in that this was all a big misunderstanding and that she could straighten this out if she could talk privately with the owner of the art piece they seemed to think she’d stolen. Like that was going to happen. Something told Braden that putting her in the same room with some rich playboy would be an incredibly bad idea. All she had to do was bat those hazel-green eyes at him a few times and tousle her hair with her fingers, and the guy would agree with anything she said. Hell, the guy would probably give her the silly blue balloon dog thing sitting on the table between them as a gift.

“If we’re going to talk about security systems, Dreya, let’s start with how you managed to climb the wall of that apartment on the south side of M Street. Because I gotta tell you, that was damn impressive.”

He expected her to deny it had been her—or beam with pride at the compliment—but her eyes widened in shock. For the first time that night, there was fear on her face.

“You saw that?” She darted a nervous glance at the one-way glass mirror to her left, the one Mick was standing behind.

He nodded. “Sure did. In fact, we have it all on video. The climb, the walk across the cable, the jump you made to the balcony.”

On the other side of the table, her face went pale. Shit, was she starting to hyperventilate?

“How many people have seen the video?” she demanded.

Braden frowned. Why the hell was a second-story thief worried about how many cops had seen her display her talents? That made no sense.

“Just my partner and me,” he assured her. “But while the video is amazing, it doesn’t explain how you were able to scale that wall. Were you using something on your hands to get a grip? I searched your bag but didn’t find anything.”

Dreya swallowed hard. In all of the previous occasions he’d questioned her, she’d been confident and posed, but suddenly it was like she’d been hit by lightning. She seemed off balance…lost.

“You can’t let anyone else see the video,” she said.

He shrugged. “That’s not really up to me.”

She stared at her cuffed wrists, her shoulders slumping in a defeat he hadn’t seen coming. “What if I confess?”

She said it so softly he wasn’t sure he’d heard her correctly. “What?”

Dreya lifted her head to look at him, that usual glimmer missing from her eyes now. “If I confess right now, will you destroy the video?”

Braden hoped to hell his mouth wasn’t hanging open. Being interrogated by the cops could make people say strange stuff, but Dreya had to know that even with the evidence they had on her, a woman with her background and clean record could likely get a case like this whittled down from the standard five to seven to less than two years. Why would she agree to a written confession? What the hell was on that video she was so terrified of letting anyone see?

He knew he needed to be careful, but right then it was hard to think of Dreya as the hardened criminal he’d always believed. He was smart enough to know she wasn’t a saint, but there was something going on here. She was so terrified she was on the verge of tears.

The sudden aura of vulnerability had his heart beating hard and fast. The urge to protect her from whatever was freaking her out was impossible to ignore. Part of the reason he’d become a cop was to help people in trouble, and Dreya definitely seemed to be in trouble.

About the Author

Paige Tyler is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of sexy, romantic fiction. Paige writes books about hunky alpha males and the kick-butt heroines they fall in love with. She lives with her very own military hero (a.k.a. her husband) and their adorable dog on the beautiful Florida coast.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on March 2, 2017


Keeping Kinley by Annette K. Larsen

He’s noble. She’s common. It’s complicated.

Kinley is content with her common life until a chance meeting with an old friend—a noble—brings the possibility of love. Though Rylan pursues her with a charming carelessness, she doesn’t dare hope that their relationship will be accepted. When Kinley’s livelihood is threatened, she is thrust into his world as a servant, but the Rylan she encounters there isn’t the quirky friend she thought she knew. Can she trust him, or will she be forced to accept that her dreams are only that—dreams?

Excerpt

My breath caught as soon as he said the name and my eyes searched his features, looking for the little boy I had known in the man that stood before me. “Rylan?” I breathed and he nodded, still with that familiar grin in place. “Oh…my,” was all my idiot brain could say as I took in his fine horse and his fine clothes and his fine eyes.
I probably still had pear juice on my face.
“How are you, Miss Kinley?” he asked with the same light in his eyes that he used to have whenever he would tell me about his favorite part of a lesson.
“I am…well,” I answered in a breathless sort of stuttering. “Very well, thank you. I hope all is well with you and your family. How are Lord and Lady Baylor?”
“My father runs his business affairs with an iron fist and my mother coddles the staff, so everything is as it should be.” He grinned.
“Good.” I had to ignore the grin so that I could speak. “And Master Welsley and Tayana?”
“Welsley takes life too seriously, but is ready to take over for father at a moment’s notice. Tayana is soon to be married.”
“Good, good. That’s very good.” It was so very awkward to be standing in front of this man who had befriended me as a child. How was I supposed to act?
“And what of your family?” he asked eagerly. “It was your brother, was it not? That married…”
“Princess Ariella, yes.” No one seemed to be able to say it out loud, worried that if they were wrong, I’d somehow be offended. I was used to finishing the thought.
He gave a crooked smile. “That must have been an interesting adjustment.”
I laughed, surprised at how succinct that description was. “It was a surprise and an adventure, and I really do adore her.”
“I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting her, but everyone seems to have an opinion one way or the other.”
“I can only imagine.” While most of the common folk had accepted Ella and Gavin, I knew that the nobility had not been so easily convinced when she’d stooped to marry a commoner.
He smiled, so casual, so comfortable.
I felt the need to fill the silence. His horse bobbed its head, trying to get Rylan’s attention. I pointed to him. “And who is this?”
He reached up, stroking the horse behind its ear. “This is Apollo. Say ‘Good day,’ old man.”
The horse actually nodded its head up and down. I was reminded of Herman, who I had abandoned.
“I should go.” I gestured awkwardly down the lane. “It was a pleasure seeing you.”
“Wait, can I see you tomorrow?”
My confusion made the corner of my mouth quirk up. “Why would you do that?”
“Because I’d like to speak with you again,” he said as if it was the most normal thing in the world.
“Oh, um.” He was nobility, and I was decidedly not. “I have to get Herman. My pony, he’s—” I pointed behind me as if that would explain my inability to speak coherently, then turned to walk back the way I had come.

 

 

About the Author

I was born in Utah, but migrated to Arizona, Missouri, and Virginia before settling in Idaho.

Though I dabbled in writing throughout school, being an author seemed like an unattainable dream. It took me seven years to write my first book, Just Ella. During that time, I taught myself how to write a novel. Not the most time effective method, but it gave me an education I wouldn’t have received from a class or a how-to book. Something about the struggle of writing without a formula or rules worked for me.

I write clean romance because I love it. Jane Eyre is the hero of my youth and taught me that clinging to your convictions will be hard, but will bring you more genuine happiness than giving in ever can.

I love chocolate, Into the Woods, ocean waves, my husband, and my five littles. And I love books that leave me with a sigh of contentment.

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Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Giveaway, romance on March 1, 2017

Synopsis

Forget all those other best-friend romances you might have read.

Jace and Isabella have only known each other…since kindergarten. And he hasn’t been secretly in love with her…for more than six or seven years. She doesn’t make him bristle with jealousy when she goes out with other guys…that he’ll admit to. And she doesn’t get all flustered and confused when she starts to find him incredibly sexy…too often.

But they definitely don’t transform their friendship into romance…right away.

Isabella has known Jace all her life, and she’s been best friends with him since high school, when she used to date his best friend. Now she’s ready to settle down and get married, and she’s decided that her sister’s wedding in three months is her deadline. She’s going to find the man of her dreams in time to take him to the wedding.

Now if only Jace would stop acting strange and territorial so he could help her.

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Excerpt

An excerpt from Speed Dating

Copyright © Noelle Adams and Samantha Chase 2017

She stared at him fixedly until she saw the corner of his mouth twitch just slightly.

“I knew it! You’re bluffing!”

“Never.” He was obviously still trying to hold onto his composure, but his eyes were brimming with humor, and he was having trouble hiding a smile.

“Cheater!” Bursting into laughter, she tackled him, playfully pushing him down so he was lying on his back on the floor. “You’re cheating, and you know it, so you have to forfeit the game.”

She realized her mistake when Jace’s hard, lean body started to rub against hers. Her heart began to race with excitement as her breath quickened and shivers of excitement ran up and down her spine.

His hand slowly slid down her back until he was cupping her hips, almost—almost—touching her bottom. “I’ll never forfeit. I’ll go to my death declaring that Zoroastrian is a perfectly legitimate Scrabble word.”

Despite his light tone, his expression had changed again. His eyes were hot. So hot. As hot as she felt.

She couldn’t stop herself from rubbing against him again, and she suddenly realized how tense his body was.

Tense. And tight. And hard.

So hard.

All of him hard.

He shifted beneath her weight, and every little move he made against her fired all of her sensitized nerve endings.

She wanted him to roll over on top of her. Sink into her completely.

She wanted him to bury himself in her and never come out.

Jace closed his eyes and took a slightly shaky breath, and she knew now why that was.

He was aroused beneath her. She could feel it very starkly when she rubbed her pelvis against his.

She made a breathless noise at the realization, and she trailed her hand down his chest to his belly.

Jace jerked in what looked like surprised pleasure.

“Jace?” she whispered, her hand grazing down even further.

It felt like there was some sort of magnetic force drawing her hand down toward the bulge of his erection. He was sweating a little—she could see it—and his breath was blowing in and out in short huffs.

He grunted, not really forming a complete word.

Isabella’s hand had reached his belt, and she idly played with the supple leather. Maybe it was the wine. Or maybe she’d been holding back for too long.

But she heard herself saying, “I know that we’re just friends, and that we said that kiss didn’t mean anything. I know touching like this is really against the rules.”

Her hand slipped down even lower, brushing against the bulge at the front of his trousers. Jace let out a soft strangled sound in response, as if he were desperately trying to hold himself back.

The knowledge was all she needed to know.

He wanted this just as much as she did.

“But I was wondering,” Isabella continued, lifting her upper body so she could look down on his strained face, “if maybe we could break that rule… a little.”

About the Authors

Noelle handwrote her first romance novel in a spiral-bound notebook when she was twelve, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. She has lived in eight different states and currently resides in Virginia, where she reads any book she can get her hands on and offers tribute to a very spoiled cocker spaniel.

She loves travel, art, history, and ice cream. After spending far too many years of her life in graduate school, she has decided to reorient her priorities and focus on writing contemporary romances.

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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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