Posted in Book Release, excerpt, Giveaway, romance, women on May 12, 2017

Synopsis

She’s never had a home
Growing up in a troubled foster home, Mercy Dane knew she could never rely on anyone but herself. She’s used to giving her all to people who don’t give her a second glance, so when she races to Blessings, Georgia, to save the life of an accident victim, she’s flabbergasted when the grateful town opens its arms to her. She never dreamed she’d ever find family or friends—or a man who looks at her as if she hung the stars.

Until she finds peace in his arms
Police Chief Lon Pittman is getting restless living in sleepy little Blessings. But the day Mercy Dane roars into his life on the back of a motorcycle, practically daring him to pull her over, he’s lost. There’s something about Mercy’s tough-yet-vulnerable spirit that calls to Lon, and he will do anything in his power to make her realize that home isn’t just where the heart is—home is where their heart is.

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Excerpt

From Chapter One

From childhood, Mercy Dane viewed Christmas Eve in Savannah, Georgia, like something out of a fairy tale. The old, elegant mansions were always lit from within and decorated with great swags of greenery hanging above the doorways and porch railings like thick green icing on snowy white cakes.

The shops decked out in similar holiday style were as charming as the sweet southern women who worked within. Each shop boasted fragrant evergreens, plush red velvet bows, and flickering lights mimicking the stars in the night sky above the city.

And even though Mercy had grown up on the hard side of town with lights far less grand, the lights in her world burned with true southern perseverance. Now that she was no longer a child, the beauty of the holiday was something other people celebrated, and on this cold Christmas Eve, she no longer believed in fairy tales. So far, the chapters of her life consisted of a series of foster families until she aged out of the system, and one magic Christmas Eve with a man she never saw again. The only lights in her world now were the lights where she worked at the Road Warrior Bar.

The yellow neon sign over the bar was partially broken. The R in Road was missing its leg, making the word look like Toad. But the patrons who frequented this bar didn’t care about the name. They came for the company and a drink or two to dull the disappointment of a lifetime of regrets.

Carson Beal, who went by the name of Moose, owned the bar. He’d been meaning to get the R fixed for years, but intention was worth nothing without the action, and Moose had yet to act upon the thought.

Outside, the blinking neon light beckoned, calling the lonely and the thirsty into the bar where the beer was cold and the gumbo and rice Moose served was hot with spice and fire.

Moose often took advantage of Mercy’s talent for baking after she’d once brought cupcakes for Moose and the employees to snack on. After that, she’d bring in some of whatever she’d made at home. On occasion Moose would ask her to bake him something special. It was always good to have a little extra money, so she willingly obliged.

This Christmas Eve, Moose had ordered an assortment of Christmas cookies for the bar. When Mercy came in to work carrying the box of baked goods, he was delighted. Now a large platter of cookies graced the north end of the bar.

The incongruity of “O Little Town of Bethlehem” playing in the background was only slightly less bizarre than the old tinsel Christmas tree hanging above the pool table like a molting chandelier.

Because of the holiday, only two of his four waitresses were on duty, Barb Hanson, a thirtysomething widow with purple hair, and Mercy Dane, the baker with a curvy body.

Mercy’s long, black hair was a stunning contrast to the red Christmas sweater she was wearing, and her willowy body and long, shapely legs looked even longer in her black jeans and boots. Her olive skin and dark hair gave her an exotic look, but being abandoned as a baby, and growing up in foster care, she had no knowledge of her heritage.

Barb of the purple hair wore red and green, a rather startling assortment of colors for a lady her age, and both women were wearing reindeer antler headbands with little bells. Between the bells and antlers, the music and cookies, and the Christmas tree hanging above the pool table, Moose had set a holiday mood.

Mercy had been working at the bar for over five years. Although she’d turned twenty-six just last week, her life, like this job, was going nowhere.

It was nearing midnight when a quick blast of cold air suddenly moved through the bar and made Mercy shiver. She didn’t have to look to know the ugly part of this job had just arrived.

“Damn, Moose, play some real music, why don’t ya?” Big Boy yelled as the door slammed shut behind him.

Moose glared at the big biker who’d entered his bar. “This is real music, Big Boy. Sit down somewhere and keep your opinions to yourself.”

The biker flipped Moose off, spat on the floor, and stomped through the room toward an empty table near the back, making sure to feel up Mercy’s backside in passing.

When Big Boy suddenly shoved his hand between her legs, she nearly dropped the tray of drinks she was carrying. She knew from experience that he was waiting for a reaction, so she chose to bear the insult without calling attention to it.

As soon as he was seated, Big Boy slapped the table and yelled at the barmaids. “One of you bitches bring me a beer!”

Moose glanced nervously at Mercy, aware that she’d become the target for most of Big Boy’s harassment.

Barb sailed past Mercy with a jingle in every step. “I’ve got his table,” she said.

“Thanks,” Mercy said, and delivered the drinks she was carrying. “Here you go, guys! Christmas Eve cheer and cookies from Moose!”

One trucker, a man named Pete, took a big bite out of the iced sugar cookie. “Mmm, this is good,” he said.

“Mercy made them,” Moose yelled.

Pete shook his head and took another bite. “You have a fine hand with baking. I’d ask you to marry me, darlin’, but my old lady would object.”

Mercy took the teasing with a grin. The men at this table were good men who always left nice tips. In fact, most of the patrons in the bar were men with no family or truckers who couldn’t get home for Christmas. Every now and then, a random woman would wander in to have a drink, but rarely lingered, except for Lorena Haysworth, the older woman sitting at the south end of the bar.

She’d been coming here since before Mercy was born, and in her younger days she and Moose had been lovers before slowly drifting apart. She’d come back into his life a few months ago and nightly claimed the seat at the end of the bar.

Barb took the first of what would be multiple beers to Big Boy’s table, along with a Christmas cookie and a bowl of stale pretzels, making sure to keep the table between them.

Big Boy lunged at her as if he was going to grab her, and when she turned around and ran, he leaned back and laughed.

Mercy returned to the bar with a new order and waited for Moose to fill it.

“Sorry about that,” Moose said, as he glanced toward the table where Big Boy was sitting.

Her eyes narrowed angrily. “How sorry are you? Sorry enough to kick him out? Or just sorry his money is more important to you than me and Barb?”

Moose’s face turned as red as his shirt. “Damn it, Mercy. You know how it goes,” he said, and pushed the new order across the bar.

She did know. The customer was always right. Trying not to buy into the turmoil, she picked up the tray and delivered the order with a smile.

The night wore on with Big Boy getting drunker and more belligerent, while Barb and Mercy dodged his constant attempts to maul them, until finally, it was time to close.

It was a few minutes before 2:00 a.m. when Moose shut down the bar. There were only three customers left. Big Boy, who was so close to passed out he couldn’t walk, Lorena, who was waiting to go home with Moose, and a trucker who’d fallen asleep at his table.

Mercy headed for the trucker, leaving Moose to wrestle Big Boy up and out.

The trucker was a small, wiry man named Frank Bigalow who fancied himself a ringer for country music star Willie Nelson. He was dreaming of hit songs and gold records when Mercy woke him.

“Frank. Frank. You need to wake up now. We’re closing.”

Bigalow straightened abruptly, momentarily confused as to where he was, then saw Mercy and smiled.

“Oh. Right. Sure thing, honey. What do I owe you?” he mumbled.

“Twelve dollars,” she said.

Bigalow stood up to get his wallet out of his pants then pulled out a twenty. “Keep the change and Merry Christmas,” he said.

“Thanks,” she said, and began bussing his table as he walked out of the bar.

Moose had Big Boy on his way out the door, and it was none too soon for Mercy.

She handed Moose the twenty when he returned. “Take twelve out. The rest is mine,” she said, and pocketed the change Moose gave her.

Within fifteen minutes, the bar was clear and swept, the money was in the safe, and Barb and Mercy were heading for the door.

“Hey! Girls! Wait up!” Moose said, then handed them each an envelope, along with little bags with some of Mercy’s cookies. “Merry Christmas. We’re not open tomorrow so sleep in.”

“Thank you,” Barb said, as she slid the envelope inside her purse.

“Much appreciated,” Mercy added, as she put her envelope in one of the inner pockets of her black leather bomber jacket. It was old and worn, but it was warm.

Then she grabbed her helmet and the cookies and headed out the door behind Barb and just ahead of Moose and Lorena. Once outside, she paused to judge the near-empty parking lot, making sure Big Boy and his Harley were at the motel across the street.

The air was cold and the sky was clear as she stashed the cookies, then put on her helmet and mounted her own Harley. Seconds later the quiet was broken by the rolling rumble of the engine as she toed up the kickstand, put the bike in gear, and rode off into the night.

The empty streets on the way to her apartment were a little eerie, but she was so tired she couldn’t work up the emotion to be scared. The streetlights were draped with Christmas garlands and red bows, but they were all one blur as Mercy sped toward home.

A city cop on neighborhood patrol saw her, recognized the lone bike and biker, and blinked his lights as she passed him.

She waved back and kept going.

When she stopped for a red light and realized she was the only person on this stretch of street, she didn’t breathe easy until the light turned green, and she moved on.

Finally, she was home. She eased up on the accelerator as she rolled through the gates of her apartment complex and parked the motorcycle beneath a light in plain view of the security cameras. She ran up the outer stairs to the second level and down the walkway to her apartment carrying her helmet and the cookies. No matter how many times she’d done this or how many times she’d moved since it happened, the fact that she’d once come home late at night to find out she’d been robbed, she never felt safe until she was in the apartment with the door locked behind her.

She tossed the helmet onto the sofa and took the cookies into the kitchen. Curious as to how much of a bonus Moose was giving this year, she was pleased to see a hundred-dollar bill.

“Nice,” she said, and took it and her night’s worth of tips to the refrigerator, opened up the freezer, and put the money inside an empty box that had once held a biscuit mix.

She wasn’t sure how much money she had saved up, but last time she’d counted it had been over two thousand dollars. It should have been in a bank, but these days, banks cost money to use, and she didn’t have any to spare, so she froze her assets.

The place smelled of stale coffee and something her neighbor across the hall had burned for dinner. She was tired and cold, but too wired to sleep, so she went to her bedroom, stripped out of her clothes, and took a long hot shower.

She returned to the kitchen later to find something to eat. One quick glance in the refrigerator was all the reminder she needed that she still hadn’t grocery shopped. She emptied what was left of the milk into a bowl of cereal and ate it standing by the sink, remembering another Christmas in Savannah, her first all on her own.

About the Author

SHARON SALA has over ninety-five books in print and has published in five different genres. She is a seventime RITA finalist, four-time Career Achievement winner from RT Book Reviews, and five-time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate. She lives in Norman, Oklahoma.

Website * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook

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Posted in Book Release, Giveaway, romance on May 12, 2017

Synopsis

When pro surfer Zach Ellis isn’t traveling the world-wide competition circuit, he works as a Renegade stunt double for the hit TV series, Hawaiian Heat. After years of tangling with the ocean, his body has paid the price. So when he gets a shot at a star roll on the show, Zach’s all in. He celebrates the career opportunity by taking a chance on a woman who’s not his usual island-girl type, only to discover he can’t bear to let her go.

Tessa Drake belongs mired in legislation battles in Washington DC, not standing on the sidelines of a filming set in Maui like a wannabe starlet. But even more important than her law career, Tessa needs Zach Ellis’s signature on legal papers. Papers that relinquish his parental rights so Tessa can adopt the girl who already calls her mommy. When she discovers Zach has slipped out of town before she makes contact, Tessa takes solace in the sexy star of Hawaiian Heat. A man whose warmth and dazzling grin makes her Mensa-level IQ vanish into thin air.

After an electrifying night together, Tessa is horrified to discover just who rocked her world.  Zach is stunned to learn he’s a father. And both find themselves caught in a riptide pulling them in the opposite direction of their dreams.

About the Author

Skye’s New York Times bestselling novels are all about enjoying that little wild streak we all have, but probably don’t let out often enough. About those fantasies we usually don’t get the opportunity to indulge. About stretching limits, checking out the dark side, playing naughty and maybe even acting a little wicked. They’re about escape and fun and pleasure and romance. And, yes, even love, because Skye is ultimately a romantic at heart and a happily ever after kinda gal. Skye also writes romantic suspense as Joan Swan, weaving fast paced novels of passion, danger and suspense.

Skye is a California native recently transplanted to the East Coast and living in Alexandria, Virginia, just outside Washington DC with her husband and rescue pup. She has two grown daughters in college in Colorado and Oregon. In her free time she’s always taking classes in the arts, cooking and knitting or rowing on the Potomac.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, romance on May 10, 2017

Title: Dating the Undead

Author: Juliet Lyons

Series: Undead Dating Service, #1

ISBN: 9781492645306

Pub date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis 

WOMAN SEEKING VAMPIRE:

Likes to keep things casual

Absolutely no poetry

Zero romance required.

Silver Harris is over clingy men—maybe men altogether. But when she shares a toe-curling kiss with a sexy Irish vampire on New Year’s Eve, she wonders if maybe it’s human men she’s fed up with. Silver turns to the popular vampire dating site, V-Date, only to discover that vampire men are just as unimpressive as their mortal counterparts. And her mysterious hottie? He’s nowhere to be found.

Can’t a girl catch a break?

Logan Byrne can’t get that sassy redhead—or that kiss!—out of his head. When his boss assigns him to spy on V-Date, he meets Silver again. Turns out, the police are recruiting humans to snitch on vampires through the dating site. As the snark and sparks fly, feelings between Silver and Logan deepen. But, when old demons resurface—literally—Logan isn’t sure he can shield either of them from the dangers that have been lying in wait for centuries.

Buy the Book (multiple formats)

10 ways to tell if your date is actually a vampire

1. They only want to meet at night, using the excuse that they’re not ‘a morning person’.
2. On a date to the beach, you catch them harassing the lady in the mini mart to check the stock room for Hawaiian Tropics factor 500.
3. When you get a papercut, they’re oddly excited.
4. They’re still not over their ex. Even though the latter has been dead for two hundred years.
5. Every time you mention a church wedding they recoil in horror*.
6. They often refer to Eric from True Blood as someone who ‘has their shit together.’
7. They drink a lot of red wine, but never seem drunk. Wait—is that actually wine?
8. They have pale, flawless skin despite the fact you’ve never once seen them cleanse and/or moisturise.
9. When watching any kind of sporting event, they constantly scoff and sneer at the athletes. ‘Please! Is that the best they can do?’
10. They are particularly keen to remind you that the neck is a top five erogenous zone…

*Does not necessarily mean they are a vampire. Mortals—particularly males—are also prone to behaving in this way.

Excerpt

I freeze in terror. What a waste of Dad’s money those self-defense classes turned out to be.

“Silver, it’s just me,” a lilting Irish voice says at my ear, the hand dropping from my shoulder.

I turn around to find myself nose to nose with my vampire from New Year’s Eve, his bright green eyes piercing mine.

I’m struck by several conflicting emotions all at once—anger, relief, and in a tiny measure—happiness. Anger wins out. On impulse, I slap him hard across the face, pointing with a white, clenched hand to the garden I’ve just sprinted across.

“I thought I was about to be murdered, asshole,” I hiss through my teeth. “I ripped my coat. My heels are ruined. All because you thought it might be fun to follow me home.”

He smirks, nonplussed, sliding his hands into the deep pockets of his navy pea coat. “I wasn’t following you,” he says, eyes twinkling.

“Oh, that’s right,” I say, voice dripping with sarcasm. “You were just walking me home again. Except this time from fifty yards behind and without me knowing.”

Before he has a chance to reply, the front door flies open and my landlady Vera emerges in a long, silky, oriental dressing gown. She is wigless for once, a Pucci scarf twisted into a makeshift turban covering her head. In her right hand, she holds a meat cleaver.

“Step away, you rapist bastard!” she yells, holding the large knife shakily aloft.

I glare at the vampire, expecting him to either throw his hands in the air or take a step backwards. Instead his brows knit together and his mouth drops open. “Etta Marlow?” he asks, staring at her as if she just walked on water.

The meat cleaver lowers a fraction. “What’s it to you?” Vera demands, her voice losing some of its previous menace.

I roll my eyes. Of course he remembers her. He’s probably seen all her films.

“It is you!” he erupts, wagging a finger in her direction. “You’re Etta Marlow! You played Susie De Sousa in Girl Uptown with Gregor Lane. I love that movie.”

The meat cleaver drops, forgotten, to her side as she pats her turban, eyelashes fluttering. “Fancy you recognizing me,” she mutters happily.

“Excuse me, Vera,” I interject, “but there’s still a potential rapist on your doorstep here.”

Vera looks back to the vampire, who shakes his head, smiling. “A misunderstanding, Etta. I was making sure Silver here made it home safely. She got the wrong end of the stick.”

Vera, or Etta as she was once known, glances over at me. “Do you know this charming fellow, dear?”

I scowl at them both. “Well, yes, but— “

“Well then, you must come in, dear boy. I could show you my Oscar, if you like?”

The Vampire looks as if he’s about to pee himself with excitement. “You mean the one you got for Days Like These with Vic Stevens?”

She holds out a thin hand towards him, gold bangles jangling on her wrist. “The very one, dear. Come, come in.”

I watch, stunned, as he takes her hand, green eyes lit up in excitement.

Before stepping through the door, he hangs back. “Ms. Marlow, I’m afraid it’s only courteous to let you know before I enter that I’m not human. I’m a vampire.”

Vera’s tinkly laugh echoes around the street like a bicycle bell. “Oh, you’re so sweet. Didn’t you know I’ve met dozens of vampires? They’re two a penny in Hollywood, darling.”

Following her across the threshold, he flashes the cockiest of grins. “Coming, Silver?”

My jaw drops in disgust. I’m tempted to sulk off to my basement flat, but instead, I trail after them and slam the door.

We follow Vera along an elegant gold and cream hallway into her immaculate, monochrome front room. Even though I’ve been here on numerous occasions, I’m always mesmerized by the sheer extravagance of the place—buttery white leather sofas, cream fur rugs, one wall is painted black and white to resemble piano keys. It should look tacky, but somehow, it works.

“You two make yourselves at home whilst I go and make myself presentable.” Vera says. “Then I’ll dig out that old Oscar of mine.”

I know, of course, the Oscar will not have to be ‘dug’ out of anywhere. It’s always on display in the den, alongside her film stills and other memorabilia.

“I didn’t catch your name,” she croons to the vampire before she leaves.

He puts a hand on his chest. “Forgive me, I should have introduced myself. Between the meat cleaver threat and getting slapped by Silver here, I seem to have forgotten my manners. I’m Logan. Logan Byrne.”

For strange and unfathomable reasons, my stomach flips. Logan. It suits him.

“Charming,” Vera says. “Don’t you go anywhere, Mr. Byrne.”

As soon as Vera disappears from the room, Logan collapses into one of the white leather arm chairs and puts his crossed feet onto the cut glass coffee table.

I’m still standing, one brow arched, arms folded across my chest. “So, Logan,” I hiss. “What the hell is this?”

He grins, dimples putting in their first appearance of the night as he gazes up at me. “Did anyone ever tell you, you’re particularly beautiful when you’re angry?”

“Oh, cut the crap,” I say,  ignoring the hot flush climbing my neck. “Why did you follow me?”

“Like I told Etta, I wanted to make sure you got home safely, that’s all. Though I’m a little confused as to why you have three houses.” He holds up fingers to count. “The one I left you at on New Year’s, the one Nathaniel dropped you at, and now this—cohabiting with an aged 1940’s screen siren.”

“It’s none of your business,” I say, chin in the air. “And anyway, how do you know Nathaniel?”

He shrugs. “I know most of the vampires in London.”

I humpth. “I bet you do.”

In the blink of an eye, he is towering over me, face inches from mine. I inhale his clean, masculine scent like a drowning person coming up for air, and as he leans closer, I find myself gravitating towards him—a flower reaching for sunlight.

He pulls the collar of my coat aside and peers into the gap. As his fingers brush my jaw, an uncontrollable shiver zings through me. I disguise it by stepping out of reach and batting his hand away.

“He did a messy job on your neck,” he says, in a low voice.

“What’s it to you?” I snap.

Before I realize what’s happening, he closes the gap between us. One hand cupping my cheek, he bends over, lips brushing the place Nathaniel bit me, tongue gently swiping the puncture holes.

“That should stop the bleeding,” he says, pulling away. “But you’ll still have a bruise in the morning.”

I rub my neck and look at my fingers. No blood. “So, you can heal wounds? Just another of your unique skills along with beating up drunk men and following young women home for kicks?”

He sinks back into the armchair. “You’re a sexy girl, Silver. I’m glad we’ve met again.”

I snort incredulously, trying, without success, to forget the warmth of his hand on my face. “Well, you certainly made sure we did.”

“And of course,” he continues, pretending to examine a photo on the coffee table. “I’m hugely flattered I’ve managed to turn your head towards my kind.”

“You didn’t turn anything,” I say tartly.

He cocks a brow, gaze burning through my clothes like a laser. I feel a sharp twitch between my legs, as though he’s controlling my private areas by some invisible string. “Are you sure about that?”

About the Author

JULIET LYONS is a paranormal romance author from the UK. She holds a degree in Spanish and Latin American studies and works part-time in a local primary school where she spends far too much time discussing Harry Potter. Since joining global storytelling site Wattpad in 2014, her work has received millions of hits online and gained a legion of fans from all over the world. When she is not writing, Juliet enjoys reading and spending time with her family.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, Historical, romance, Spotlight on May 9, 2017

Title: Nothing Like a Duke

Author: Jane Ashford

Series: The Duke’s Sons, #4

ISBN: 9781492621652

Pub date: May 2, 2017

Genre: Historical Romance

Synopsis

He wants her.

She has no intention of wanting him.

But even Flora has to admit…

There’s nothing like a Duke.

Lord Robert Gresham has given up all hope that the beautiful and independent Flora Jennings will ever take him seriously. He heads to an exclusive country house party to forget about the beauty haunting his thoughts.

Too bad the lady in question has no intention of being forgotten.

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Excerpt

A protruding bit of bramble caught the side of Flora’s pelisse. She twisted to reach for it, and a whole raft of briars shifted with her, entangling the other side of her skirts, her right arm, and the brim of her bonnet. If she pulled away, it would rip the cloth. She struggled a little; more thorns dug in. “Blast it, I suppose you were right, you wretched dog,” she exclaimed, and discovered that Plato was gone.

Flora lifted a hand to free her hat. The movement tipped another part of the bush, which swayed and seemed to grab at her. A second branch lodged in her bonnet. She felt several claw at her back. A stem lashed across her neck. That one drew blood. She tried to step back, and was pricked by more thorns, through her clothes, from all directions.

Flora went very still. She saw that the path petered out just ahead. Or perhaps this hadn’t been a path at all, but merely a deceptive opening in the vegetation. She hadn’t been paying attention. She tried again to move. She was trapped in a sea of briars. The thorns were long and wickedly barbed. They pricked the skin of her neck, her arm, her back, her side.

She became aware of a rustling in the leaves near her feet. What next? The badgers? Snakes? No, of course not snakes. It was far too cold.

A small black-furred head poked through an opening at the base of the briars. Evading the thorns with no visible effort, Plato emerged and stared up at her. “Oh, you’re back, are you?” said Flora. He sat down at her feet. “Come to gloat? Point out that if I’d followed you, I wouldn’t be in this predicament?”

Plato looked at her. Not judgmentally, because that was impossible.

“Go fetch help,” commanded Flora. The dog didn’t move. “Some clever gardeners. A footman from the house. Anyone. Go!”

“Plato? Where are you, you dratted animal?” called a voice nearby.

“Lord Robert?” she called.

There was a short silence. “Flora?”

“Yes. I’ve, ah, become entangled in some brambles. Plato doesn’t appear to care in the least. Or, actually, he’s staring at me as if it was all my fault.” She frowned down at the dog.

“Does he ever blink? He’s really a bit uncanny, don’t you—”

Robert appeared on the path. “Good God!” He started forward.

“Be careful! It’s very easy to get caught. If you touch one branch, the whole mass moves.”

“I see.” He examined the arching stems. “You really are caught, aren’t you?” His lips twitched.

“If you laugh, I’ll…make you sorry,” Flora promised. Plato made one of his odd grumpy gargling sounds. “And you! I’ll find a badger and hand you over to him.”

Robert choked. “So, would you say you’re in need of rescue?”

“Just get me out!”

Robert moved a few steps closer. He could see that the thorns had barbs like fishhooks, ready to rip and tear if not removed very carefully. There was a trickle of blood on Flora’s neck. After a moment of calculation, he eeled between two branches. He had to stop once and detach thorns from his sleeve before he reached her side.

“These things are diabolical,” she said. “When I turned to pull loose, they seemed to…sort of lunge at me.”

“Stay very still.”

“I know!” She let out a huff of breath. “I beg your pardon. This is…rather irritating.” She smiled an apology.

Robert felt a catch in his chest, as if his heart had stumbled briefly. “Right then. Move back, Plato,” he said. For once, the little dog obeyed him, slipping easily out to a more open spot.

He began on the closest branch, embedded in the skirts of Flora’s pelisse. He had to kneel to reach it properly. His knife was small for the tough fibers. The bush swayed as he sawed at the branch. A spray of thorns rasped across his hair, but didn’t catch hold.

Robert soon pricked his skin. There was no way to hold the branch still without being stuck, and he’d left his gloves indoors when he’d seen Plato shoot wildly out of the bushes and then go haring off again.

Blood made the blasted thing slippery. Robert got out his handkerchief, used it to wrap the branch, and went back to work. At last, he was through. The severed stem sprang back a little, he was glad to see, giving him a few inches of working room. He looked up. “One down,” he said with a smile.

The heated gaze he encountered went through him like a thunderbolt. He was suddenly acutely aware of his position, right in among her skirts. His shoulder rested against her thigh. The scent of her—flowery perfume and sheer female—enveloped him.

“You’ve hurt yourself,” she said.

“It’s nothing.” Intensely aroused, Robert eased to his feet. Flora smiled at him again. Her fierce blue eyes raked him. He knew, absolutely, that she was remembering their kisses.
The next branch was wrapped around her far sleeve. He had to press close to her to avoid the briars at his back as he reached for it. And stay there while he cut through the stringy fiber of the bramble. The feel of her—curve of breast and hip, her cheek resting on his chest—made him clumsier. At one point a thorn drove deep into the pad of his index finger, and he stifled an oath.

Flora was having trouble breathing. She could feel his heartbeat, so near her ear, accelerating in tandem with her own. She could feel his muscles shift against her as he cut at the brambles. If she looked up, carefully, she could see his face—handsome, intent. The lips that had thrilled her were only inches away. But she couldn’t move enough to offer her own again. She had to remain very still, plastered against him.

About the Author

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

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Posted in 4 paws, Historical, Review, romance on May 2, 2017

Synopsis

Cassie, the youngest of six daughters in the Wilton family, is bold, bright, and ready to enter society. There’s only one problem: her older sister Lenora, whose extreme shyness prevents her from attending many social events. Lenora is now entering her third season, and since their father has decreed that only one Wilton girl can be out at a time, Cassie has no choice except to wait her turn.

Evan Glenside, a soft-spoken, East London clerk, has just been named his great-uncle’s heir and, though he is eager to learn all that will be required of him, he struggles to feel accepted in a new town and in his new position.

A chance meeting between Evan and Lenora promises to change everything, but when Lenora proves too shy to pursue the relationship, Cassie begins to write Mr. Glenside letters in the name of her sister. Her good intentions lead to disaster when Cassie realizes she is falling in love with Evan. But then Evan begins to court Lenora, thinking she is the author of the letters.

As secrets are revealed, the hearts of Cassie, Evan, and Lenora are tested. Will the final letter sent by the vicar’s daughter be able to reunite the sisters as well as unite Evan with his true love?

Review

For me historical romance novels can be hit or miss, but The Vicar’s Daughter was a definite hit! Times were so different then and it is always interesting to see how the author handles the different aspects of gentry in that time period.

Not only is this a peek into life in this time, there is a lesson about pride and willfulness and that sometimes life isn’t what you expect it to be and there is so much more. I couldn’t blame Cassie for wanting to be presented in society, but her family’s custom was that each daughter had to have a match in order of birth for the next daughter to be presented….and poor Cassie has been waiting for 3 seasons on her sister Lenora who is afraid of her own shadow! But as the book progressed I learned that it was partially the fault of the parents and family for sheltering her, pretty much like we see a lot in today’s society.

Evan is caught between two sisters. Thinking that Lenora has another side to her when it is really Cassie’s words that strikes a chord in his heart. On top of that he is not used to being a part of the gentry and society and it is a whole new world for him. Evan isn’t familiar with customs and such and finds himself in a few predicaments.

I enjoyed being swept away to another time and imagining what it would have been like to live then with more stringent rules. I also like the interactions of the family with each other and others in their church family.

We give this book 4 paws up.

About the Author

Kilpack, Josi-1Josi S. Kilpack hated to read until her mother handed her a copy of The Witch of Blackbird Pond when she was 13. From that day forward, she read everything she could get her hands on and credits her writing “education” to the many novels she has “studied” since then. She began writing her first novel in 1998 and never stopped. Sheep’s Clothing won the Whitney award for Mystery/Suspense in 207 and Wedding Cake, book twelve in the Sadie Hoffmiller Culinary Mystery series won in 2014. Josi was also the Best of State winner in Fiction for 2012. Josi currently lives in Willard, Utah, with her husband, children and super-cute – but not very friendly – cat.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on April 26, 2017

Synopsis

Undercover cop Clay Navarro left the Sultans biker gang a changed man. Its ringleaders may be awaiting trial, but he wears the memory of every brutal act he was forced to commit tattooed across his skin. He doesn’t have space in his messed-up life for anything gentle—not now, maybe not ever.

Dr. Georgette Hadley is drawn to the damaged stranger’s pain, intimidated but intrigued by the warmth that lies beneath Clay’s frightening exterior. But when the Sultans return looking for revenge, she finds herself drawn into the dirty underbelly of a life forged in violence…that not even her touch may be able to heal.

Excerpt

He’d fallen asleep. Either that or he’d gone to that place, wherever it was, that he seemed to go on her table. Only this time, George’s hands were on him. She felt heavy and warm, and his back was big and strong and supple, but so sweet, laid out for her, waiting, needing…

Dear God, what’s wrong with me?

He was numb by now. He had to be—as numb as the cream would make him, which wasn’t very. Another dip, another swipe, and his flesh rippled beneath her touch. Maybe not asleep?

She wanted to put her hand on his head again and push him down, but there was nowhere to go. She wanted to lean into him and over him and maybe just stretch herself across all that muscle and bone. Desire settled into her pelvis as she stroked his shoulders, ran a hand a little too far down an arm that had absolutely no need of numbing cream. None.

What the hell is wrong with me?

But still, she couldn’t quite convince her body to stop. Slowly, she kneaded her thumbs around those beautiful scapulas, felt him shudder slightly, and pulled away, hyperaware of how strange her actions were—how unethical and wrong, but maybe…maybe just…

“Don’t stop,” he mumbled, and honestly, that was all she needed.

His back—this solid, robust plane—was like the culmination of all of the backs she hadn’t had the pleasure of touching over the years, and goodness, she wanted it. She wanted his back.

Wanted his back?

Was this how it felt to go crazy?

George stepped away, embarrassed and more than a little worried for her sanity. Was she really, truly, going to cave in and do things she might very well—no, would definitely—regret over some stranger’s back?

He grunted—or maybe it was more of a groan—and twisted his neck so one shadowed eye peeked out at her.

“’S the best thing that’s happened to me in fu…frickin’ years.” His voice came out low, almost on a whisper.

“This is…” George couldn’t get the words out, she was breathing so fast. “This is weird. I can’t… I don’t—”

“No. Feels good. So damn good.”

“Just…me touching you?”

“Yeah.”

There was hardly any hesitation at all, and then the succubus wearing her skin stepped forward. Closer, until her belly was level with his hand. “Are you numb?”

She reached out and stroked him, right on that horribly defacing burn, wondering if he could feel her.

Wanting him to.

“No,” he said, even breathier now. “No, the opposite. Numb when I walked in. Now. Shit. Now, it’s all nerves.”

The weight in George’s belly turned liquid, spread out on a wave of shivery sensation that she hadn’t felt since she’d been just a kid, squished in the backseat of Dylan Dean’s bright-red Mustang with nothing between her legs but his hand, and nothing in her head but blind teenage lust.

“Here?” Her fingers caressed him where his skin had melted into unsightly whorls, tracing the jagged surface and wishing he’d let her do more. Although, even as she thought that, she wasn’t sure if she meant more as in treatment for the burn, or more right now, to his body.

To him.

“Yeah. There. Just…” He groaned, then begged, “Please.”

Possessed, she caressed him, up his side, almost to his armpit and its tuft of dark hair. It looked sexual, that hair, like something she wasn’t supposed to see. Then tracing along the top of his shoulder to the back of his neck and down, down, down his spine, the bumps adding texture along the way, the rocky road of his body the most enticing thing George had ever seen.

More sounds escaped him, little grunts that said he liked what she did, and those fueled her even more.

Lord, she wanted to flatten herself on top of the man, to cover him, and… What? Hump him? No. Not really.

Make him feel good? Touch every little bit of him? Heal him? Protect him from whatever hell he’d been through?

With a snap that surprised even her, she removed the glove that separated his skin from hers and lightly—oh so lightly—felt the reality of his flesh without the barrier of Nitrile in between. The noises were hers this time, and the contact was kinetic, burned the air, turned the heat up, ate out her brain.

His hand, right there on the edge of the table, somehow turned until his palm rested flat against her belly—not pushing, just…absorbing, fingers taking in her softness, exploring her the way she was him.

Before she knew it, she’d curled her palm around that hunk of a shoulder, leaned in until more than her lab coat pressed against the man, her breathing shaky and short. “I don’t know what I’m doing,” she whispered, in a dream. The bridge of her nose skimmed his hairline, and she took him in, smelled him, got a bigger dose of what she’d only guessed at until now. And it was good, elementally good, unexplainably, animalistically perfect. A smell she could dive into and live off of.

She pulled back. “Got to stop. I’ve got to stop.”

“Hang on.” His hand reached for hers, grasped it, skin to skin, and held on tight. “Don’t know what the hell you’re doing to me, but it’s making me crazy.”

“I don’t know; I don’t know. I’m not… This isn’t me,” George muttered, eyes clearing. She pulled hard at her hand, blinked hazily at the man laid out before her, and moved toward the door. “I’ll be…I’ll be right back.”

About the Author

Adriana Anders has acted and sung, slung cocktails and corrected copy. She’s worked for start-ups, multinationals and small nonprofits, but it wasn’t until she returned to her first love—writing romance—that she finally felt like she’d come home. Today, she resides with her tall French husband, two small children and fat French cat in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she writes the dark, gritty, steamy love stories of her heart.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Science Fiction on April 21, 2017

Title: Wanted and Wired

Author: Vivien Jackson

Series: Tether, #1

ISBN: 9781492648161

Pubdate: April 4, 2017

Genre: Science Fiction Romance

Synopsis

A rip-roarin’ new snarky, sexy sci-fi paranormal romance series with the perfect balance of humor, heat, and heart. Now that Texas has seceded and the world is spiraling into chaos, good guys come in unlikely packages and love ignites in the most inconvenient places…

Rogue scientist • technologically enhanced • deliciously attractive

Heron Farad should be dead. But technology has made him the man he is today. Now he heads a crew of uniquely skilled outsiders who fight to salvage what’s left of humanity: art, artifacts, books, ideas—sometimes even people. People like Mari Vallejo.

Gun for hire • Texan rebel • always hits her mark

Mari has been lusting after her mysterious handler for months. But when a by-the-book hit goes horribly sideways, she and Heron land on the universal most wanted list. Someone set them up. Desperate and on the run, they must trust each other to survive, while hiding devastating secrets. As their explosive chemistry heats up, it’s the perfect storm…

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You might be a futuristic biohacked hottie if…

When dieting, you no longer weigh yourself. The mechanical augmentations in your body skew weight anyhow, and your health stats and biometrics are tracked on the cloud. Put down the artificially sweetened protein bar. Put it down.

Excerpt

She popped her bubble gum and leaned against a Plexiglas route map. Cool as a daiquiri was Mari.

He waited for the bus to pull away from the stop and then rolled his car to the curb, about a meter from her mud-caked wellies. Green ones, with tiny sunflowers on the pull loops. He moved one hand off the steering wheel, signed a command, and her door shished open.

She leaned in, twirling the parasol, flinging errant raindrops all over his contrast-piped leather interior. Cool sprinkles, like cupcake dusting. A dimple tucked itself next to her flirty smile. “Hey, stranger. Goin’ my way?”

Heron pressed his lips into a line. “No funning, please. Get in. Quickly.”

“No kiddin’ no fun,” she muttered under her breath, probably forgetting that her com was subvocal. Although she was sharp as a shiv when her hands were on a gun, she could forget crucial things on planning and extraction. Or she deliberately relied on him to keep all that sorted.

Either way, Heron didn’t mind. He reached through the wireless and shut down her com.

She closed the umbrella, tossed it to the floorboard, and folded herself into the passenger seat. Heron had the door down as soon as her skirt was clear of the seals.

He’d examined this sector extensively in planning and had every escape route timed down to the second. He hadn’t counted on the law enforcement response being so fast, though, almost instantaneous. Road blocks and drones were popping up like dandelions every time he polled the mirror, and he had no defenses set up to counter them.

He knew precisely the speed at which information flowed, and there was no way within normal parameters the authorities could know her identity and location this quickly. Clearly, Mari had been set up. He even had a good idea who’d done it. The cloud, with its delicious glut of information, hovered just beyond his vision, tempting. He could see her doom erupting, 33.3 milliseconds behind real time, and he couldn’t do a damn thing to stop it.

No, that wasn’t true. He had a range of options, but the only one he allowed himself, the only one that made sense, was to get her away from here. Get her somewhere safe. Hide her.

Traffic became a torment, not just because his escape was slowed or capture crept closer with each passing second, but also because…she was here. Close. Too close. Within touching distance close. He could practically feel her vibrating with postjob adrenaline. Just eight blocks to the expressway entrance ramp. He endured them. Every bloody inch. Every stroke of her naked hands on the cushion. Every drip of skin-warmed rainwater from her ponytail, teasing its way down between her shoulder blades and along the seatback. Every push of her breath against damp synthetic cashmere. Every distant siren, every rolling update from his mirror… Interpol had her bios now, but he suspected the UNAN agents would find her first.

No. Over his goddamned corpse they would.

He hit the entrance ramp at 120 and blew into the cruise lane. The wireless exchange with the bus earlier had reminded him of another closed system, off-cloud. A bigger one. Private. Safe.

“Thought our exit vector was south. Cabana down in Cabo San Lucas and an endless tab of mojitos? This ringing a bell, partner?” Mari craned to see a road sign too blurry to read with naked eyes.

Heron cataloged the sign, crossed three lanes, and slung the car onto a flyover, taking them decidedly not south.

“I told you our plans had changed. No cabana this time, but don’t worry. I’m taking you someplace safe.”

“What place? Your place?” She waggled her eyebrows.

He inhaled deliberately. She doesn’t mean it the way it sounds. It is not an invitation. You know how she is. Bald come-hithers and poor timing were typical of her postjob process. Everybody had a different way of ramping up and down for jobs like this, and hers was invariable. A peek at her biometrics showed elevated hormone levels in her blood. Flight or fight or f*, and Mari had an unnatural ability to suppress the first.

Any other job, he’d have her on a plane by now and off to the hired harem of cabana boys she needed to seduce to prove she was still alive. But this wasn’t any other job. This was a botch. On a contract held by Texas. She was in danger, and he didn’t have time to wrestle with her attempts to make him into another of her temporary playthings.

Temporary, because the only time she’d be able to stomach f*ing a post-human would be right after a job. And then she’d hate herself after. He knew what she thought about people with implanted tech. Cyborgs. No better than machines.

And he sported a metric shitload of implanted tech.

So he’d kept their relationship purely professional, and there had never been a reason to alter that structure. Until today. Now, to keep her safe, he was willing to suffer a lot more than her derision. He was willing to lay bare his most deeply held secrets and hope she didn’t heckle. Or worse, send him away.

He accelerated through fourth gear, and the car lowered, uncomplaining, hugging the asphalt.

F* it all—he was taking her home.

About the Author

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

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Posted in Giveaway, Interview, romance, women on April 19, 2017

Title: My Kind of You

Author: Tracy Brogan

Pub Date: April 18, 2017

Publisher: Montlake Romance

Series: Trillium Bay, #1

Synopsis

Emily Callaghan never expected to spend another summer on Wenniway Island. Yet here she is, back in her quaint northern Michigan hometown of Trillium Bay, divorced, flat broke, and dragging along her precocious twelve-year-old. It’s a simple arrangement: Emily, a house flipper, will renovate one of her grandmother’s rental properties in exchange for a much-needed loan. Once a wild child, the reformed Emily also hopes to remodel her reputation and show her family she’s all grown up.

But coming home is never simple. Emily’s dad is more distant than ever. Her younger sister is dating a much older man, and Emily’s worried it’s a mistake. The cottage remodel grows increasingly daunting. And then there’s handsome out-of-towner Ryan Taggert…

Ryan has his own family drama. A smart, ambitious land developer, he’s come to Wenniway to rescue his father from the grips of a new girlfriend and protect their family business. But he’s quickly distracted by gorgeous, witty Emily Callaghan.

There’s no denying the attraction between Emily and Ryan. But will their conflicting interests destroy any chance at love? Or will Emily finally get the chance to rebuild her life—and repair her heart?

Interview with Tracy

1)    In My Kind of You, your heroine Emily Callaghan is returning to her small hometown of Trillium Bay in Michigan. Is this out of necessity or is she longing to get back to her roots?

She has actually been avoiding her roots! Or at least her father. They had a falling out when she ran away at nineteen to get married, but now she is back out of necessity. Emily is a house flipper and a bad business decision left her broke. Her grandmother has hired her to renovate a cottage back in Trillium Bay. Emily realizes this job was just a way for her Gigi to get Emily back home, but she’s willing to give it a try. Because she is THAT broke.

2)    She has a lot going on in her life including running her own business and raising a pre-teen. Does she think she has time for romance?

Emily is a busy, independent woman who has convinced herself she doesn’t have time for romance. Once bitten, twice shy. Her disastrous first marriage left her cautious and a little suspicious. She’s had some boyfriends but none of them have really gotten past her defenses.

3)    How does the handsome Ryan Taggert change her mind?

Ryan and Emily have a shared goal that causes them to work together. Time, proximity, great sexual chemistry, and things were bound to head in the direction. Neither one of them thought a fling was a great idea, but moonlight over the lake has a way of making people forget that.

4)    What first draws Ryan to her and visa versa?

Ryan is immediately attracted to Emily’s beauty, and as he gets to know her, he falls for her determination to do the right thing, and her self-deprecating sense of humor. He’s also drawn to warm, genuine affection he sees between Emily and her daughter. Of course, he doesn’t realize more of this at the time. He thinks his feelings are just about manly instinct. But we readers know better.

As for Emily, she fights her attraction to his “business-like hotness” because she really has no place in her life for romance, and she doesn’t want more heartbreak. When she finally decides to trust him, things go awry and he must prove himself to her all over again. Does he succeed? Of course he does, but the fun of romance novels is finding out HOW he succeeds.

5)    What is Emily’s family’s reaction to a new man in her life?

They keep their relationship a secret for quite a while because Emily’s family is so distracted by the relationship her younger sister Lilly has fallen in to. That one is pure scandal so Ryan and Emily are able to fly under the radar for a bit.

6)    You are really well known for writing realistic characters and settings that readers can relate to. Do you draw your inspiration for your writing from real life? Is there anyone in your life similar to your characters in Trillium Bay?

Thank you for saying that! I’m glad to hear it. As for inspiration and real life scenarios, I use everything around me. My friends and family all know that anything they say can and will be used in a book someday. I love taking a rather ordinary moment from life and writing about it in a way that will make people laugh. I also entertain myself by creating eccentric characters who do and say things that I would secretly like to say or do. There’s always at least one character in every one of my books who is brutally blunt or who has no filter.

7)    What can readers expect next from this series?

Readers can expect love, laughter, nostalgic family moments, and insightful growth from the characters. In this series they’ll find a May-December romance, a father and daughter learning to forgive each other, hot kisses at the top of a lighthouse, secret rendezvous, a crazy librarian, a martini-swilling grandmother, and a bee-keeper. Oh, and also horses, buggies, boat, bicycles, bats, the evil Mahoney sisters… yeah, there’s a little bit of everything in this series. I hope readers enjoy it!

About the Author

Tracy Brogan is an award-winning, bestselling novelist who writes fun and funny stories about ordinary people finding extraordinary love, and also lush historical romance full of royal intrigue, damsels causing distress, and the occasional man in a kilt. She has been nominated by Romance Writers of America for a prestigious RITA® Award for her debut novel, Crazy Little Thing, and was nominated by RWA for two Golden Heart Awards. She’s a Booksellers Best Award recipient, along with two Golden Quill Awards in both contemporary and historical romance. Unapologetically devoted to romance, Tracy lives in Michigan with her often-bemused husband, their gloriously above-average children, and their two intellectually challenged dogs.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, women on April 18, 2017

Title: Back to Your Love

Author: Kianna Alexander

Series: Brothers of TDT, #1

ISBN: 9781492646983

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

Genre: Contemporary

Synopsis

Xavier Whitted, CPA and city council candidate is excited to get away to the Crystal Coast for his best friend’s wedding. He is shocked when he runs into his high school sweetheart there, the only woman he ever truly loved.

Dr. Imani Grant is just about ready to open her own dermatology practice when a serious wrench is put in her plans—in the form of Xavier Whitted. Old feelings resurface along with old secrets from the past. Imani isn’t willing to go there, until Xavier starts a new campaign: win Imani back—no matter what it takes.

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Playlist

There are lots of ways to say “I love you,” but which actions are part of Imani and Xavier’s love language?

Most Saturdays Imani wakes up to breakfast in bed.

Excerpt

Xavier stepped to the glass door and swung it open. “After you, Imani.”

She stepped outside, and immediately lamented the loss of air conditioning. The air was thick with the heat and humidity customary for early summer in North Carolina. The tart aroma of the salty waters lying just beyond the hotel property permeated the air. Lush tropical plants filled the small courtyard, some blooming with bright-colored flowers. In the center of it all, three stepping stones led to a wrought iron bench positioned among the leaves and vines.

He sat, patted the empty space next to him. “Come sit with me. I won’t bite unless you ask me to.”

The sexy wink he threw her made her traitorous nipples pebble again beneath her dress. Ignoring her body’s reaction as best she could, she eased into the spot.

Gently, he draped his arm around her bare shoulders.

The feel of his touch radiated through her, the growing warmth inside her far exceeding the temperature of the sultry June night. Being in his arms again didn’t feel foreign, the way it should have after so many years. His touch felt as natural and familiar as her own heartbeat. She noticed the rapid pace of her breathing, and wondered if he noticed it as well.

The low timbre of his voice broke the silence. “If I’m making you uncomfortable, just say so. That’s the last thing I want to do, baby.”

So he had picked up on her nervousness. She shook her head. While her mind told her not to let him get behind her defenses, her heart didn’t want him to withdraw his touch. Instead, she answered him, but kept her eyes directed at her lap. “No. It’s all right.”

“If you say so. I brought you out here to talk, so let’s talk. What have you been up to these last ten years, other than growing more beautiful?”

She felt the smile creep over her face at the smoothly-delivered compliment. “Let’s see. I did undergrad in biology at Spelman, then med school at Meharry, then my dermatology certification—”

“Whoa. Are you telling me all you’ve been doing for the last decade is being a student?”

She shrugged. “I guess so. But I had a goal in mind, and hard work and lots of school were the only ways to reach it.”

That drew a low, rumbling chuckle from him. “I can’t say I’m surprised, you always were intelligent and determined. I’m glad to see you’re accomplishing your goals.”

She took a chance and raised her gaze to his. His rich, dark eyes held the same sincerity she’d detected in his words. “Thank you, Xavier. I appreciate that.”

A silent moment passed between them, their gazes connecting.

When his scrutiny became too intense, she broke the silence. “So, uh, what have you been up to? I heard from Mama that you’re doing a lot of good work in the community.”

A broad smile spread across his face. “I’m glad to know Ma Alma speaks of me so highly. When I’m not in the office handling the books for my clients, I volunteer at a youth center in the old neighborhood, and I do a little work at Second Harvest Food Bank from time to time. I’m no saint, but I do what I can for the community.”

Listening to him talk about his good works in such a modest way, she realized he still had a wonderful heart. In the few weeks she’d been home, her mother had gone on and on about Xavier’s activism. As an all-star athlete and scholar in high school, he could have chosen any career path he’d wanted. But instead of taking some high-paying, high-profile position, he’d chosen to make a modest living so that he could give back to the community that had nurtured him as a child. Yes, Xavier Whitted was a rare bird, and if the look in his eyes were any indication, he was ready to build a nest.

There, beneath his searching gaze, she could feel her very soul opening up. Once upon a time, she’d been certain she’d marry this man. Now, she felt like an inexperienced adolescent. No matter how she tried, she couldn’t look away from him.

The heartbreak she’d suffered at Xavier’s hands had colored her perception of men. He’d been her first love, and had shown her a first glimpse of real pain. Maybe she should thank him for that, because it had allowed her to focus on her goals, rather than be consumed by chasing after a suitable mate.

“Imani, I’m going to kiss you. Is that all right?”

She heard his soft words, and even as her brain yelled at her to back away before she lost her heart to him a second time, no words would come. All she could manage was to look into the endless pools of his eyes.

An instant later, his lips touched hers. The sweetness of his kiss and the buttery softness of his lips made her eyes shut. Her body overtook her brain once again, and she pressed herself closer to him. He pulled her close, surrounding her with his strong arms, and she loved it, God help her. The kiss deepened, and as his skilled tongue stroked against the interior of her mouth, she felt her insides melting down into her shoes like hot wax.

About the Author

Like any good Southern belle, Kianna Alexander wears many hats: loving wife, doting mama, advice-dispensing sister, and gabbing girlfriend. She’s a voracious reader, history nerd and craft fanatic. Kianna lives in North Carolina with her husband, two kids, and a collection of well-loved vintage 80’s Barbie dolls.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Western on April 12, 2017

Title: Texas Homecoming

Series: Night Riders, #1

Author: Leigh Greenwood

Pub Date: April 4, 2017

ISBN: 9781492648796

Synopsis

She’s his last chance to find peace…

Cade, Captain of the Night Riders, is determined to lead his men home to Texas to recover from a long and brutal war. But when a fellow Rider betrays the team, Cade sets aside his hopes for peace and swears he will hunt down the traitor no matter what it takes…

He has a foolproof plan to use the feisty Pilar diViere to lure her traitorous brother out of hiding. And yet when he takes the dark-eyed beauty into his arms, Cade can’t help but remember the passionate past they shared. He would do anything for a chance to rekindle that flame…even spare her brother’s life.

The war has changed them all, and each of the Night Riders must decide what is more important: love or revenge?

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Excerpt

“Let’s go for a walk instead.”

“I don’t want to walk,” she said, angry he’d forced her to leave the fiesta. “I can do that any time.”

“We can walk along the river. The moonlight on the water makes it look like a river of silver.”

A walk sounded awfully dull compared to dancing, but she’d never seen a river in the moonlight. Young ladies of aristocratic lineage weren’t supposed to be interested in such things. Cade made it sound very pretty. “Okay, but if I don’t like it, I want to go back to the fiesta.”

The fruit drinks had undoubtedly contained more tequila than she suspected. She had never felt so uninhibited, so unfettered by tradition, so unrestrained by her grandmother’s strictures. It felt absolutely marvelous.

“Have you walked along rivers in the moonlight with a lot of girls?” she asked.

Cade chuckled softly. “You should ask Owen that question.”

“I’m not interested in Owen. I’m interested in you.” She didn’t mean it quite the way it sounded, but it was too much trouble to explain.

“No one seemed particularly interested,” Cade said.

Pilar couldn’t understand that. To her, Cade seemed like exactly the kind of man a woman would want to walk with in the moonlight. He was strong, handsome, and dependable, everything a young woman would look for in a man.

“I can’t believe the young women you knew were so silly.”

“Young ladies want excitement, clever words, flattery,” he said.

“They’d want something very different if they’d been driven out of their home and forced to cook for a living.” She hadn’t meant to mention that, but what he said seemed so frivolous, she couldn’t help herself.

“Some lost more than you. They just wanted to forget.”

She would never forget. “Let’s not talk about the war. Pretend I’m one of those silly women who pant after Owen. Tell me I’m pretty and you get lost in my eyes.”

Pilar felt herself flush with embarrassment. She didn’t know where those words had come from. She’d never even thought anything so foolish in her entire life.

“You’re not pretty,” Cade said.

That’s what she got for putting words into a man’s mouth.

“You’re beautiful. Any man would give his right arm to be able to drown himself in your eyes.”

Pilar didn’t know what more those Virginia beauties could want. Manuel had never said anything half so poetic.

“Your fiancé should be cut into small pieces and fed to the coyotes for leaving you unprotected. If I had been your fiancé, not even loyalty to my country could have been enough to make me leave you.”

Pilar was wise enough to know that no man ever valued his wife above his loyalty to his country; his money or his children perhaps, but never his wife. But the effect on her was the same as if it had been the truth. She’d never felt so important in her life, and she liked it.

“Would you really have stayed in Texas if I’d been your fiancée?”

“Maybe not, but I’d have made sure you were safe before I left.”

“Why?”

“A man protects what he values. Nothing is more valuable than the woman a man loves.”

Pilar had never expected to be loved by her husband, but when she was alone and faced with the future, she couldn’t help dreaming about it. Respect and all that stuff about lineage and money didn’t seem enough in a world that could turn cold and cruel at any moment.

“How would you show a woman you loved her?” Pilar asked.

“Like this.” Cade took her in his arms and kissed her.

Pilar knew that some part of her must have been wanting this, hoping for it, but a part of her was shocked to find herself in Cade’s embrace. That same part was even more shocked to discover how much she wanted it, welcomed it, moved forward to meet him. Nor did she back away from the kiss when it turned from a genteel brushing of lips to an unbridled expression of pent-up emotions.

She didn’t know what was responsible for the feeling that her life had suddenly turned in a new direction, had taken on a different meaning. She didn’t know how to account for the emptiness inside her, or the conviction that Cade was the only one who could fill it.

She only knew she’d been swept up in Cade’s powerful embrace, and it was the most wonderful feeling of her whole life.

She’d never imagined that anything could feel as wonderful as this kiss. His lips were full, his mouth soft. His tongue darted between her teeth before she knew what was happening. But even as her conscious mind started to reject the idea, her body’s response was the opposite—and enthusiastic. Her own tongue rose to duel with Cade’s, entwining sinuously around his, plunging deep into his mouth.

Gradually Pilar became aware that other parts of her body were reacting to Cade’s embrace. Her breasts—pressed hard against his chest—had become extremely sensitive, her nipples swollen. A feeling unlike anything she’d ever experienced uncoiled deep in her belly, then began to spread through her limbs, causing her muscles to go limp. Instinctively she clung still more tightly to Cade.

Without warning, Cade broke the kiss, took her by the shoulders, and thrust her away from him.

The shock was total.

“We have to go back to the hotel before I forget you’re a lady I’ve promised to protect,” Cade said.

Pilar’s brain refused to function. She couldn’t understand what Cole was saying. She could only understand that all comfort had suddenly been torn from her. “What would you do if I weren’t a lady, if we didn’t have to go back to the hotel?”

About the Author

Leigh Greenwood is the USA Today bestselling author of the popular Seven Brides, Cowboys, and Night Riders series. The proud father of three grown children, Leigh resides in Charlotte, North Carolina. He never intended to be a writer, but he found it hard to ignore the people in his head, and the only way to get them out was to write.

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