Posted in Christian, Giveaway, Historical, Interview, romance on December 7, 2016

FOR THE RECORD

by Regina Jennings

  Genre: Historical Romance / Christian

Publisher: Bethany House

Date of Publication: December 6, 2015

Number of Pages: 336

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synopsis

 

for-the-record-coverRather Than Wait for a Hero,  She Decided to Create One

Betsy Huckabee has big-city dreams, but nobody outside of tiny Pine Gap, Missouri, seems interested in the articles she writes for her uncle’s newspaper. Her hopes for independence may be crushed, until the best idea she’s ever had comes riding into town.

Deputy Joel Puckett didn’t want to leave Texas, but unfair circumstances have made moving to Pine Gap his only shot at keeping a badge. Worse, this small town has big problems, and masked marauders have become too comfortable taking justice into their own hands. He needs to make clear that he’s the law in this town–and that job is made more difficult with a nosy reporter who seems to follow him everywhere he goes.

The hero Betsy creates to be the star in a serial for the ladies’ pages is based on the dashing deputy, but he’s definitely fictional. And since the pieces run only in newspapers far away, no one will ever know. But the more time she spends with Deputy Puckett, the more she appreciates the real hero–and the more she realizes what her ambition could cost him.

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PRAISE FOR FOR THE RECORD

“Jennings creates a perfect blend of love, mystery, and wit in this 19th-century romance.” —Publishers Weekly starred review

“Jennings’ latest is a delightfully entertaining historical romance featuring charismatic humor, unpredictable thrills, and vigilante justice. The plot is tense and exciting, and the novel sparkles with the wit and charm of its spirited heroine. It is more romantic and less stuffy than your average inspirational, and Jennings uses classic western touches like six-shooters, spurs, and white Stetsons to land readers squarely in the Ozark Mountains of 1885.” —Booklist

“This is such a delightful read with an adorable romance and a fun and entertaining story line. . . The interactions and dialogue between the main characters are sheer perfection. The mystery and drama with the hero’s backstory and the masked marauders keep the momentum of the story going at a nice pace and allows for no dull moments. There is so much to love here in this little gem, it is easily one of Jennings’ best.” —RT Book Reviews

AuthorInterview

What projects are you working on at the present?

My next series is set in Indian Territory just a few miles from my home in Oklahoma. The series is going to kick-off with a story about a dance hall singer who gets mistaken as a governess by the commander of Fort Reno. There’s going to be a lot of dashing cavalrymen, cowboys, Indians, and outlaws. Look for the first book, “Holding the Fort” in December of 2017.

Do you have any strange writing habits you’d like to share with your readers?

I’m not much on tradition or ritual. I pretty much have to write when I can, which usually means toting the laptop to basketball or football practice. That’s me, the anti-social one sitting in the car while the rest of the moms are visiting in the stands.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

You write about Betsy making the perfect hero…and then she realizes that the perfect man isn’t perfect. What are the key ingredients for a perfect hero?

For me, the first thing a hero must have is character. If he’s dishonest, unfaithful or unkind, he can’t be a good match for the heroine, no matter how handsome, talented or rich. And I think the perfect hero is also able to laugh at himself. Laughing at yourself shows confidence, and nothing is more attractive than confidence.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I have this conversation with my kids about once a week. While it would be noble to request the gift of healing, I have to say having instant teleportation would be a lot more fun. (And since this is make-believe, let’s have fun!) Can you imagine how cool that would be? I want to see the Eiffel Tower this afternoon…boom! I’m there. I want to take tea at Piccadilly Circus? Cheers! I’d probably even use it daily to run errands with the kids. How handy would that be?

My second choice would be time travel, but you still need teleportation to make it feasible. It’d be hard to time travel if you always end up in the exact place you left.

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

My problem is that there are very few places I’ve traveled to that I don’t want to visit again. In fact, visiting somewhere usually makes me want to go back even more. If I’m visiting again, I’d say England and Scotland. If I’m limited to a country I haven’t been to, let’s try Australia. It looks so beautiful in the pictures and I hear that the people are very friendly.

If you could speak with any accent from anywhere in the world, what would you choose? What? You mean besides my Oklahoma accent? What’s wrong with that? OK, British I suppose. Probably north England, or Scottish. Nothing too posh.

What’s something fun or funny that most people don’t know about you?

Well, you see I’m Baptist and my parents were pretty strict, so I never got to take any dance classes or even gymnastics when I was growing up. Judging from an 8mm film of me dancing at four years old, I think that if I would’ve just had a few lessons I might have won the first Nobel Prize for a dancer. It would’ve changed the world. At least that’s what I thought until I actually tried it.

After I was married with kids my cousin and I enrolled in a dance class at the local community college, but not just any dance class… a belly dancing class. We had a great time, but I realized that my parents did not deprive the world of the next prima ballerina. They just saved them from some really awkward recitals.

What’s your funniest flaw?

I’m a morning person. I don’t know if that’s funny to some people, especially those who go to church camp or mission trips with me, but I find it amusing how the world caters to those who stay up late and punishes those of us who are evening-challenged.

Instead of high school football games that last until 10:00 or 11:00 pm, why not have them at 4:00 a.m. instead? Then we could celebrate the win and go off to work for the day. Same with firework celebrations. Why wait around on those long summer nights for it to get dark? I’m so sleepy! Let’s shoot off the fireworks at 5:00 a.m. before the sun is up. That sounds like a great way to start the day!

 

about the author

regina-jenningsRegina Jennings is a graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University with a degree in English and a history minor. She is the author of Sixty Acres and a Bride, Caught in the Middle, and At Love’s Bidding and contributed a novella to A Match Made in Texas. Regina has worked at the Mustang News and First Baptist Church of Mustang, along with time at the Oklahoma National Stockyards and various livestock shows. She now lives outside Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, with her husband and four children.

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

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Synopsis

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

She knows him by reputation

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

Which gives Riley Shaughnessy a lot to prove

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

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Thoughts from Samantha/Playlist

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

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

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

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

Our Song by Matchbox Twenty:

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

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

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

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

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Excerpt

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

Oh, no. That would have been too easy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“How do you feel about salmon for dinner?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

He didn’t answer right away.

“Riley?”

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

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

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

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

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

“Hmm?”

“I’m going to kiss you. Twice.”

“Oh.”

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

About the Author

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

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Posted in 4 paws, Review, romance, women on December 6, 2016

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unraveling-the-pieces

Title: Unraveling the pieces
Author: Terri DuLong

Release Date: November 22, 2016

Publisher: Lyrical Press

Genre: Women’s Fiction

Format: Ebook/Paperback

Synopsis

“DuLong reminds me of a Southern Debbie Macomber but with a flair all her own.” –Karin Gillespie

New York Times bestselling author Terri DuLong casts on her newest tale of heartbreak and hope in Ormond Beach, Florida, a sun-dappled haven where one woman finds the comfort she’s always needed…

Petra Garfield has no real attachments tying her down to one place. She’s ready for an adventure, so what could be better than an extended stay at Koi House with new friends and old in enchanting Ormond Beach. Having recently lost her mother, Petra is riddled with questions about the father she never knew. She certainly never thought she’d begin to find the answers in a tiny town in Florida…

As much as she wants to search for the truth, Petra knows she can’t spend all her time wallowing in the past, and her friends at the Dreamweaver yarn shop aren’t about to let her. The ladies encourage her to volunteer at a local animal shelter, where she hits it off with a young boy–and his handsome father. Tangled in secrets she didn’t even know she had, Petra must learn to stitch her life back together even as she unravels lifelong mysteries–and perhaps she’ll find unexpected happiness along the way…

Includes An Original Knitting Pattern!

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Review

Such an enjoyable romance novel! This is the third in a series and you don’t have to read the first two to enjoy this book, but it would help to explain some of the other character’s back stories and understand some of the dialogue.

Petra is quite an interesting woman and I could appreciate her desire to find out about her father since she was told he died shortly after she was born. I know it had to be a hard thing for her mom to do considering the times (late 60’s early 70’s) and being an unwed mother wasn’t easy. It is too bad that as she got older that her mother couldn’t tell her the truth about her father. She did leave some clues in case Petra decided to really look for him.

I also liked that Petra was older (late 40’s) and had never been married. I could relate to her in a way because my life was somewhat similar in that regards. She had her issues to battle when it came to relationships, but I liked her strong character and kindness towards friends and dogs. But she does find love and they take their relationship slow because they both have a past to come to grips with before they can truly move forward.

While some of the story was predictable (or obvious as to where a story line would go), it was still very enjoyable book and it touches the heart.

We give this 4 paws up.

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About the Author

terri-dulongBorn and raised north of Boston, Terri DuLong was a previous resident of Cedar Key, Florida. She now resides on the east coast of the state in Ormond Beach with her husband, three dogs and two cats. A retired Registered Nurse, she began her writing career as a contributing writer for Bonjour Paris, where she shared her travel experiences to France in over forty articles with a fictional canine narrator. Terri’s love of knitting provides quiet time to develop her characters and plots as she works on her new Ormond Beach novels.

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

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Synopsis

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

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

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

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

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Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What am I doing?

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

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

“Are you kidding me?”

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

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

About the Author

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

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

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Posted in Book Blast, Christian, excerpt, romance on December 5, 2016

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Title: Sight Unseen
Author: Erin Leigh Crisp
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 198
Genre: Christian Romance

Synopsis

Emilia Phillips is looking for a career and a way out of her day job. She is not looking for a man to rescue her heart.

Asher Mason wants his life back. He lost his sight and the hero-life he loved in a millisecond. He no longer trusts his instincts, especially about women. But the sweet-smelling waitress in his favorite café tempts him to trust. As Emilia helps Asher relearn everyday activities, the two find themselves falling faster than either expected.

Can a woman love a blind soldier? Will she want a man who doesn’t recognize himself anymore? As Asher’s shortcomings become more apparent to him, the wedge forced between he and Emilia widens. Can Asher trust the same God that took his sight to direct his future?

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Excerpt

“How long has it been?” Emilia could have bitten off her own tongue.

His eyes glanced over again, but they didn’t see her. He gave one huge breath and shrugged, like it wasn’t important. “Three months.”

Only three months? And he was walking around town and ordering coffee? No seeing-eye dog, no dark glasses? She wanted to compliment him, but she figured he wasn’t the type of man to take it for what it was. Instead, she eased her hand onto his shoulder for a split second and went for humor instead.

“I should have noticed when you didn’t wink back at me earlier.”

His head shot up, and his cheeks tinged the darkest pink.

Emilia covered her giggle and shook her head. “I swear I’m kidding. I wasn’t flirting with you, but I really should have noticed earlier. My brother was born blind. He’s seventeen.”

The man looked curious, but he was still blushing and she decided not to press him. “Anyway, if you need anything, my name is Emilia. I’ll be here all week.”

His lips turned up in the smallest smile. She reminded herself that she wasn’t looking for a man. She took three steps away before he called her name.

Her feet stopped. “Yeah?”

He swallowed hard, his fingers linking on the tabletop. His eyes searched for her face. “I’m Asher Mason. Thank you, again.”

“It was my pleasure.” She turned and walked away, but the damage was already done. Her heart thumped crazily. Her cheeks heated. Her teeth bit down to stop the smile that threatened. And I’m in a load of trouble, she thought.

About the Author

Erin was born and raised on the Florida/Alabama state line in a small farming community which has served as inspiration for her novels. She believes the heart of a happy ending is God and His plan for the lives of His people.

In 2014, Erin published her first novels for sale.  She currently has eight full-length novels and one novella for sale on Amazon. Erin makes her home in Northeast Georgia with her husband, four children and two fish. Erin has a bachelor degree in Christian Counseling and enjoys photography in her spare time.

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Posted in excerpt, paranormal, romance on December 4, 2016

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Synopsis

A Divine Grace has been kidnapped…Words that send terror rushing through the heart of another Divine Grace, Avery McClain.

Now she’s rising up, taking her place as a warrior, and standing beside the Elite Thracians, protectors of the Olympians. Banding together, they have a sole mission–to find the woman who is destined to be a Queen. The massacre at the Ralpha Clinic and a deadline from the gods force them to use every asset in their arsenal–including one who literally fell at their feet.

Keona Nadal must find her twin. Piper is in the hands of the enemy and they show no mercy. This leaves Keona in a position where she must trust the very people whom she has feared her entire life. Her rare and coveted gift as a teleporter will be tested and her loyalty shaken, both leaving her to ask what is more important: serving the greater good or saving her sister?

Can they rescue Piper before she disappears forever?

Start your journey with Divine Awakening!

Divine Awakening #1

Divine Destiny #2

Divine Judgement #3

Divine Encounter #4

 

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Excerpt

from Chapter One

Ryse Castille, son of the Grand Deities, Troy and Dynasty Castille, Master of the Thracians armies and heir to the throne of North America, raised his sword. The blade shone under the watchful eyes of the gods. Zeus and all the gods of Olympia witnessed the blade fall from the sky and slice through the neck of Princess Salina Avondale, daughter of Charles and Filene Avondale, Deities of Europe.

Hayden’s hand stopped in his writing. He studied his words carefully. Zeus commanded him to record the events of the day and he wanted to do it while it was fresh on his mind. Based on the shaking in his knees and hands, it might be too fresh. It was his duty to record the events of the last few months, and as a trained historian, he enjoyed it. But this was, by far, the hardest period of Olympian history to record. Every time he closed his eyes, he could see Salina’s blond hair stained with the deep red of her blood. Bile rose in his throat when he remembered the way her head rolled across the stage and landed at the feet of her parents. Filene Avondale’s screams haunted his soul. Auras of the Olympians who filled the arena flared with anger, anguish, and fear, assaulting Hayden with the battering waves of their emotions and energies.

More than any of these things, burned deeper into his brain than the color of the blood, the sound of the screams, or the waves of auras, Hayden could recall every detail about his brother, Ryse

From the moment the Master Thracian stepped out onto the stage, the crowd quieted. Mothers pulled their children closer and ducked into the safety of their husbands’ arms. Awe-filled eyes tracked his every movement and faces went slack. Ryse Castille was larger than life; he was legend made of flesh. Blessed by both Zeus and Ares, he held not only the power of Olympian royalty, but of Thracian warfare. He was part king, part killer.

Hayden inhaled deeply and let out a shaky breath. He tossed his pen aside and ran his fingers through his hair.

Not now. He couldn’t relive everything just yet.

About the Author

JoAnna Grace lives in a world of alpha males and strong females where true love conquers all–at least in her mind!

From the time she started holding a crayon she began to create magical worlds. Her first book was a series of pictures about a puppy princess. The story changed each time she told it, but there was always a happy ending! Her first written story was about girls who changed into tigers.

Hmmm… Guess some concepts stick around even into adulthood. Now those stories have become a bit more complex!

JoAnna’s tales are spun at her home in East Texas where she lives with her husband, three kids, a couple dogs and a few fish. When not hiding behind the computer screen you can find her camping, boating, and shopping.

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Posted in excerpt, Giveaway, paranormal, romance, Spotlight on November 30, 2016

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Title: Wolf Unleashed

Author: Paige Tyler

Series: SWAT, #5

ISBN: 9781492625988

Pubdate: December 6, 2016

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Synopsis

SHE BRINGS OUT THE WOLF IN HIM

Lacey Barton can’t deny her crazy attraction to Alex Trevino, but that doesn’t mean she has time for the gorgeous SWAT officer. She’s hell-bent on discovering who’s behind the brutal dogfights sending countless mauled animals to her veterinarian office. The trail leads Lacey to a ring of vicious drug dealers and suddenly she’s in way over her head—right smack in the middle of a SWAT stakeout.

With Lacey in danger, Alex’s wolf side is unleashed. But when she witnesses Alex shift, she’s even more terrified… Now it’s up to Alex to crack the case—and earn back Lacey’s trust and, ultimately, her heart.

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Q & A with Paige

In Wolf Unleashed, the fifth installment in Paige Tyler’s sexy and suspenseful SWAT series, Lacey, the heroine, is determined to uncover the perpetrator behind the brutal dogfights that are sending countless dogs into her vet practice. She fearlessly dives into the case even though it’s extremely dangerous!

We asked Paige Tyler about her favorite fearless female protagonists from pop culture.  So, who are her favorites?

Wonder Woman. Back when Wonder Woman debuted, all the super heroes were men. It was a “Man’s World” and we women were just living in it. But Diana Prince changed all that. She had the strength, heart, and courage to stand her ground with any supervillain—or superhero—out there. And when it came to Batman, Superman, and all the other testosterone-laden superhero egos, more often than not it fell to Wonder Woman to hold the Justice League together. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t say that another reason I love Wonder Woman is for those cool accessories! I’d love to have those bullet deflecting bracelets and golden lasso.

Excerpt

Excerpt from Wolf Unleashed

Dr. Barton was bent over rummaging through a bottom drawer of the built-ins on the far wall. Even though Alex did his best not to stare, it was impossible not to notice that she had an incredibly spectacular ass. He’d always been a leg man, but one look at her derrière and he suddenly decided he’d been missing out.

Then she stood up, turned around, and flipped her long, wavy blond hair over her shoulder, and he realized that the rest of her was equally stunning. While her baggy white lab coat hid a lot, he could still tell that she had an athletic build and some really nice curves. It was her face that made his heart beat faster, though. She had the most captivating pair of blue eyes he’d ever seen and full red lips just begging to be kissed. From this moment forward, whenever he pictured an angel, he would think of the beautiful Dr. Barton.

Alex smiled, and when she smiled back, he heard her heart thudding a little quicker. But then she looked down at Tuffie, and her entire expression changed. Hurrying over, she dropped down to one knee beside Tuffie, gently examining her ears and face.

She gave Alex an angry glare. “Please tell me you arrested the people who put this beautiful girl in a dogfighting ring. Even better—tell me you shot them.”

If Alex had thought her heart was beating fast before, it was nothing compared to the way it was thumping now. Clearly, Dr. Barton was very passionate about protecting dogs. In his book, that made her even more beautiful than she already was.

“I wish I could, but unfortunately, we never found the people who did it,” Alex said. “We rescued Tuffie when her owner was killed. He died trying to protect her from a psychopath armed with a rifle.”

Dr. Barton’s gaze went back to Tuffie, her expression turning from anger to sadness as she ran her fingers down the fresh scars along the dog’s chest and side. “Looks like she got shot anyway.”

“Yeah. It’s a miracle she lived long enough for my teammate and me to get her here in time for Doc Jones to save her. Thank God for sirens. I think we ran every red light in town.”

The veterinarian straightened, gracing him with another dazzling grin, and Alex felt his knees go a little loose. Damn, what a smile.

“I knew there was something I liked about you the second you walked in.”

Alex felt his face flush. “It wasn’t a big deal. I’m a cop. Saving people—and dogs—comes with the job description.” He cringed the moment the words left his mouth. Had he really just said something that lame?

Thankfully, the beautiful Dr. Barton didn’t seem to notice the cheesy line. Or if she had, she was too polite to laugh at him.

“And is bringing Tuffie to her appointments also in your job description?” she asked, her eyes twinkling.

Was her heart beating even faster than before? Unless it was his own heart pounding in his ears. That was a definite possibility. Because it seemed like he had a real thing for Dr. Barton.

He smiled. “It is if the rest of the SWAT team and I adopted her and gave her a new home.”

Alex knew it was a shameless grab to get further into the doctor’s good graces, but he couldn’t seem to stop himself.

“Not only did you save her life, but you adopted her too? I think Tuffie hit the lottery with you, Officer…?”

“Trevino,” he said, filling in the blank and offering his hand. “But please, call me Alex.”

She took his hand and gave it a shake. “Nice to meet you, Alex. I’m Lacey Barton.”

Her hand was small in comparison to his, her skin soft and warm, and Alex found himself holding on a bit longer than was customary. Lacey didn’t seem to mind. In fact, she appeared just as reluctant to let go as he did.

She pushed her hair behind her ear and cleared her throat. “I guess we ought to get on with Tuffie’s checkup. So you can get back to saving the world and everything.”

“Yeah, of course.”

Reaching down, Alex gently picked up Tuffie and set her on the stainless steel exam table.

“Nice muscle tone,” Lacey murmured.

Alex felt the compliment go right to his head. “Thanks.”

“Actually, I was talking about Tuffie,” Lacey said as she tenderly ran her hands over the dog’s shoulders.

“Oh.”

She looked up at him from beneath her lashes. “But yours is pretty good too.”

Alex chuckled. Damn, this woman was good. He had her by a foot in height and more than a hundred pounds in weight, yet she was playing him like a fiddle, and he didn’t mind one bit. He couldn’t remember ever having such an immediate and intense reaction to any woman he’d ever met. Suddenly, he wanted to know everything there was to know about her—and then some.

Lacey was more than accommodating, telling him about how she’d recently gotten a job here after working several years at a place on the west side of Dallas closer to Arlington.

“I loved it there, but this place is closer to my apartment,” she told him as she continued to examine Tuffie. “I’ve cut my commute time by about an hour and a half each way, so it’s like getting a whole extra day off to do stuff I want to do instead of sitting in traffic.”

“And what do you like to do with all this extra time?” he asked.

Lacey leaned over to read something in Tuffie’s medical records. Alex tensed, worried she’d found something wrong, but after a moment, she merely nodded to herself, then went back to checking Tuffie. “I do a lot of volunteer work at one of the nearby animal shelters,” she said. “I’m also on call to help out both Animal Services and the DPD Animal Cruelty Squad when they run into injured dogs.”

Whoa. A woman who spent her days taking care of dogs for a living, then did it during her spare time for free? That was definitely a woman Alex could appreciate.

“It’s pretty amazing that you give so much of your time to animal causes,” he said. “Getting called out at all hours of the day and night must be tough on your boyfriend, though.”

Lacey urged Tuffie over on her back, pressing carefully along one of the long scars that ran all the way from the base of her rib cage to the middle of her cute pink tummy.

“I don’t have a boyfriend right now,” she said, the corners of her mouth turning up. “My life is a little too busy for that at the moment.”

Bingo! Alex had already noticed she wasn’t wearing a ring. Now he knew she wasn’t seeing anyone. Could this get any better?

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 4 paws, Christian, christmas, Giveaway, Review, romance on November 17, 2016

bnr-sleigh-bells-rvsd

SLEIGH BELLS RING 

Four Contemporary Romance Novellas

by

Sandra D. Bricker, Lynette Sowell,

Barbara J. Scott, & Lenora Worth

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Gilead Publishing

Date of Publication: October 14, 2016

Number of Pages: 320

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synopsis

cover-sleigh-bells

Santa Claus is coming to town, and so are the Tucker sisters.

Never mind a pony. The Tucker girls have inherited their father’s horse farm for Christmas. Make that . . . a run-down horse farm. It needs some serious TLC in order to make it sell-ready. Joanna knows that by recruiting her sisters and one handsome ranch hand they can fix up the place and even celebrate one last Christmas while they’re at it. However, to Isabella, returning to their home in Kentucky bluegrass country for Christmas seems like an impossible hurdle. Can her Chicago boyfriend make life merry and bright again?

One thing’s for sure—nothing is peace on earth for Sophia as a new beau brings up old wounds. And when the fate of the horse farm is put in jeopardy because Amy accidentally fraternizes with the enemy, tensions rise. But it’s not like the land developer stole Christmas . . . just her heart.

Can the Tucker sisters have themselves a merry little Christmas?

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Review
4 novellas about the Tucker sisters that come home to KY for Christmas after receiving letters from their father that passed away shortly before that. Each sister has their own issues with their father, but with faith and each other they are able to overcome and forgive him. And of course each sister finds love, so that doesn’t hurt either!

I don’t know if anyone stands out more than the other but I do like how the authors worked together so even though these are 4 stories they run together seamlessly. I wondered how that would work, if they all collaborated on the town and certain points or if one author set up the background and they all used it to create their stories.

When it comes to the romance side, two sisters reunite with past loves/crushes, one sister deepens her relationship with her boyfriend and the last sister finds love again after being widowed. I do think in Amy’s case (the widow) that the love happened awfully fast, but it is a novella and sometimes love does strike that quickly.

This book will lift your spirits and leave you with a good feeling.

We give it 4 paws up!

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AboutTheAuthors

Writing is usually a solitary act, but reader-favorite authors (and friends) Sandra D Bricker, Barbara J. Scott, Lynette Sowell, and Lenora Worth got a happy Christmas miracle when invited to work together on Sleigh Bells Ring.

Watch for Author Spotlights to learn more about each of the Sleigh Bells Rings authors!

Sandra Bricker * Lynette Sowell * Barbara Scott * Lenora Worth

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5 COPIES OF SLEIGH BELLS RING SIGNED BY ONE OF THE AUTHORS!

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November 14 – November 23, 2016

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11/19 Author Spotlight Country Girl Bookaholic
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Posted in christmas, excerpt, Giveaway, romance on November 17, 2016

mistletoe-cover

Synopsis

Two gorgeous stories about the most romantic time of the year…

The holidays don’t have to be fraught with tension, as lifelong friends Lily Cavanaugh and Cameron Greene discover in Mistletoe Between Friends when they cook up a scheme to fool their family and friends.

The Snowflake Inn shows rivals Grace Brodie and Riley Walsh that Christmas is a time when dreams come true—even if you’ve given up on those dreams long ago.

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Excerpts

Mistletoe Between Friends

Monday morning came way too soon for Lily. She’d given herself multiple pep talks and reminded herself how important it was to do the right thing for Cam.

It just sucked that the right thing for Cam was going to be torture for her.

Ever on time, Cameron arrived to pick Lily up at exactly 7:00 a.m. Knowing he was a stickler about time, she’d made sure that she was ready and waiting for him. But she could tell by the look on his face when she opened the door that he was surprised she was ready.

“What?” she asked.

Cam looked her up and down and then at the suitcase beside her. “You’re ready,” he said with just a hint of disbelief.

A shy smile crept across Lily’s face. “You told me you’d be here at seven, so I was ready for seven. Actually, I was ready at six forty-five. Impressive, right?”

His eyes narrowed slightly. “You’re never ready when I tell you what time I’m coming to pick you up. I build a cushion for Lily time.”

The smile shifted to playful annoyance as Lily cocked a hip and crossed her arms over her chest. “If it would make you feel better, I can change clothes and decide that I want a bowl of cereal before we leave.”

“No, no,” he said with a slight chuckle. “I’m sorry. I guess I should have just said thank you, right?”

“No,” she corrected. “You should have offered to put my suitcase in the car because all this chitchat will make us late.” Without another word, Cameron reached beyond Lily and grabbed her case while she locked up her condo. “I watched the Weather Channel last night while I was packing, and they said it’s going to snow while we’re up there. Won’t that be beautiful? We can see snow in Central Park!”

Cam shrugged; he’d never given much thought to snow in Manhattan and didn’t care about it now. They lived just outside of Raleigh, so it wasn’t as if they’d never seen snow before. But that was just one of the things about Lily he adored—that the little things in life made her happy.

Lily had a bigger heart than anyone he’d ever known. He knew that even though she made light of it, she was easily hurt by her family. It didn’t help that her parents always made her feel like she wasn’t living up to her full potential, or that she had an older sister everyone seemed to think walked on water. Cam knew the real Lily. If anyone took the time to get to know her and saw beyond her inability to find a career, they’d see a person who’d give them the world.

For as far back as Cameron could remember, he’d been in love with Lily Cavanaugh. While everyone else around them treated him like a freak because of his intelligence, Lily always considered him Cam, her friend. He’d never once thought about telling her how he felt because the last thing he wanted was to lose Lily as his friend. Most days, she was the only one who kept him sane.

And now he was going to have her to himself for nearly a week.

Once they were on the road, Cam glanced over at Lily and saw the serene smile on her face. “What are you thinking about right now?” he asked.

“Actually, I was wondering if we were going to play the part of boyfriend and girlfriend during your conference or if we were waiting to kick it into gear when we got back.”

He nodded and then pondered the situation. “I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to try out the act around my colleagues before we return home.” His tone was rather cut and dried, like he was talking about a root canal.

“How about a little enthusiasm, champ?” she asked sarcastically. “This was your idea, remember? And if we’re going to pull this off and get four months of freedom from our parents, you can’t talk about our relationship like it’s a chore.”

Cam turned to look at her as if she were crazy. “Talk about our relationship? It’s seven fifteen in the morning, Lil. We haven’t been around anybody except each other. What do you want me to do?”

She sighed. “You’ll need to show a little more excitement if you’re going to be believable as my boyfriend.”

What had he gotten himself into? “Why, exactly, do I have to do that?”

“Cam, everyone who knows me knows that I’m a fairly happy-go-lucky person. You and I are complete opposites. I’m going to have to tone it down a little, but on the flip side, you’re going to have to kick it up a notch. You know, crack a smile or a joke once in a while. Laugh.” She looked at him quizzically. “You have no idea what I’m talking about, do you?”

Honestly, he didn’t. When he had devised the plan to have a make-believe romance with Lily to survive the holidays, Cam had simply thought that by saying they were involved, people would get off their backs. But as Lily explained the complexities of the situation, he realized he was greatly unprepared.

And that was simply unacceptable.

Taking a fortifying breath, he said, “Okay. It’s not like we have to play twenty questions to know each other better. We already know everything about each other. What do you suggest?”

“Well,” she said, “it would probably help if we held hands when out in public.”

Cameron considered her suggestions and—without reacting in any way, shape, or form—decided that this wasn’t going to be such a bad thing after all. He’d finally have the opportunity to touch Lily, to kiss Lily, and it was all her idea. He really was brilliant.

“Seems simple enough,” Cam said. “Done.” He reached for her hand and held it while he focused on the road and drove one-handed. He wouldn’t normally do that because safety dictated that he drive with his hands in the ten-and-two position. It took all of thirty seconds for him to start to squirm.

“This is physically painful for you, isn’t it?”

“What? No,” he denied although he was lying through his teeth. He wanted to concentrate on the feel of her hand in his, but couldn’t when they were on the road.

Lily pulled her hand away and almost burst out laughing at how quickly Cam’s hand went back to the steering wheel. “Okay, baby steps. We’ll only hold hands when we’re walking. How does that sound?” She smiled at the annoyance on Cam’s face.

“Safety isn’t something to take lightly, Lily.”

“Of course it isn’t,” she agreed. “I mean, driving twenty miles under the speed limit and one-handed? What was I thinking?”

“It’s a little early for all of this sarcasm,” he said dryly. “So other than hand-holding, what am I supposed to do?”

Was he kidding? At this rate, she could probably convince him to act out every one of her fantasies that she’d ever had about him. But that would be wrong.

Wouldn’t it?

Yes, yes, yes. Bad Lily! What were you thinking?

“Kissing,” she said before she could stop herself. “We’ll probably have to kiss in front of people from time to time. And none of that buddy-buddy, on-the-cheek stuff. Like…real kissing.”

Bad, bad Lily!

She saw him considering the idea from all sides as usual. He never agreed to anything without thinking it through. “I guess I can,” he said, seeming bored with the idea.

“That’s the spirit,” she said and was relieved to see them turning onto the exit ramp for the airport. If all went well, within a matter of hours she would be walking around Manhattan with Cam and presenting the image of a happy couple.

Project Girlfriend had begun!

The Snowflake Inn

She was feeling the burn and could clearly see the light at the end of the tunnel—or in this case, the clearing in the trees that meant the parking lot was close—when it happened. Her knee buckled. A cry of dismay escaped before she could help it, and next thing she knew, she was on the ground.

“Dammit,” she cried, pulling her knee to her chest as she rocked. “Why now?” Tears threatened to fall, and all she could think about was the walk to the car and how painful it was going to be. As much as her physical therapist had told her recovery would take time, Grace felt like her body had betrayed her.

“Are you all right?” a deep male voice said from behind her.

Uh-oh… Cute Angry Guy is here, and he’s talking to me! Looking up…and up…and up, her eyes finally met his. Holy cow.

“Miss?”

Oh, right. He asked you a question. “What? Oh, sorry… Um… Yes, I’m fine,” she stammered and tried again to stand. But her darn knee wasn’t quite onboard with the rest of her, and she went down again. She muttered a curse and felt a blush creep up her cheeks in embarrassment.

He quirked a brow as he looked at her. “You don’t look like you’re fine,” he said seriously and crouched beside her. “Did you hurt your knee?”

Grace nodded. “About six months ago in a skiing accident. I was in rehab and physical therapy for months. I just decided to try to go back to my jogging routine—at a slower pace, of course—and I thought I was doing okay. Until about five minutes ago.”

Cute Angry Guy nodded. “You probably just pushed yourself a little too hard.”

She shook her head. “In therapy, I can run twice as long without any issues.”

“That’s on a treadmill. This is an uneven jogging path. It’s completely different.”

Now she glared at him. “Thanks for pointing out the obvious,” she snapped. If she had better luck, she’d be able to jump to her feet and walk away with a sassy sway to her hips.

Clearly, she had no luck. On her third attempt at standing, Cute Angry Guy wrapped a strong arm around her back and helped her to her feet. “Thank you,” she said quietly and did her best to disengage from his embrace. But he didn’t let her go. Looking up, Grace found herself trapped by the bluest eyes she had ever seen. Her breath seemed to catch, and she couldn’t speak, couldn’t breathe. The only thing saving her from complete and total embarrassment was the fact that he seemed just as mesmerized by her as she was by him.

“Can you walk?” he finally asked, his voice sounding rough to her ears. Nodding weakly, unwilling to break their eye contact, she tried once again to move away, but his arm seemed to tighten around her. “I’ll walk you to your car.”

He clearly wasn’t big on conversation. At the moment, that suited Grace just fine because she was having a hard time remembering how to form words. Cute Angry Guy was big and a feast for all of her senses, but she had to be careful to remember that he was a stranger. She knew nothing about him, and as much as she wanted to ask him at least a dozen questions, there was something to be said for companionable silence.

And walking really close together.

Deciding to just enjoy the moment, Grace pressed herself more firmly against his warm, solid frame and began to walk slowly with him toward her car. With the way they had been seeing each other all around town for the past couple of days, she figured he’d know which car was hers without her saying anything.

Sure enough, he did.

As they approached her little white sedan, they stopped and Grace pulled her keys out of her jacket pocket. It was then that she realized what a complete mess she must look like: black leggings, white jacket, and a green wool scarf to match her green socks…ugh. And then there was the hair.

She was so not going to think about the hair.

Normally after her jog, Grace would take a few minutes in the car to relax and apply some lip gloss and fix her hair before going anyplace else. That was why she hadn’t been worried about approaching him the other day in Starbucks. But now that he’d seen her in this—well, in all her ill-fated glory—she was certain her current appearance had killed any attraction (real or imagined).

Quickly and painfully.

Awesome.

“So, um…thanks for the help,” she said, feeling awkward. She fidgeted with her hair, doing her best to tame it, and cursed herself for refusing to wear a hat. At least a hat could have camouflaged the flyaway mess.

His lips twitched with an almost-smile as he watched her fidget around. “Are you going to be okay to drive?”

Grace ran her hand through her hair and cursed when it got stuck. With a wince, she pulled it out and forced herself to play with her keys and try to remain calm. “Yes,” she said, wishing that the parking lot would just open up beneath her and take her away. “I’ll be fine. I’ll go home and do the whole ice-and-heat thing, take some ibuprofen, and call it a day.”

“You should probably call your therapist and let him take a look at it.”

She shook her head. “I don’t have one here.”

“Then you should set up an appointment for when you get home.”

Grace gave him an odd look. “Get home? I am home. I live here.”

Now it was Cute Angry Guy’s turn to give her an odd look. “You live here?”

She nodded. “I just moved here about six weeks ago. I thought I was done with therapy, so I haven’t bothered to look up a therapist. But I guess I’ll have to now.” She shrugged and turned to unlock her car. Once the door was open, she turned and forced a smile on her face. “Anyway,” she said and did her best to relax, “thank you for the help.”

“My pleasure.” His voice was deep and a little rough, and Grace almost wanted to purr. Hearing the word pleasure come from that mouth—which was pretty spectacular too—had her heart rate going into overdrive.

“Well, I guess I’ll see you around,” she said brightly and sat in the car, wincing slightly as she bent her leg.

“Don’t wait to find a therapist. Call the one you know and see if you can get a referral.”

“Thanks, I will.” She was just about to ask his name, but he turned and walked away. And the rear view was as enticing as the front one. Grace almost had to fan herself. Her first instinct was to call out to him, but really, it was probably better not to. If he had been following her these past couple of days, wouldn’t he have asked for her name or phone number? The fact he hadn’t just proved Grace was imagining things. Bad hair and wardrobe aside, the man couldn’t seem to get away from her fast enough.

With a depressed sigh, Grace pulled the car door shut and decided to cut her losses and go. The drive through the small downtown area didn’t take long, and when she saw Starbucks coming up, she decided she could deal with the pain for a little bit longer. A white-chocolate peppermint mocha would go a long way in helping her deal with it, of that she was certain.

It didn’t take long to park, and then she was surrounded by people she was coming to know. She smiled and made small talk while she waited her turn in line at the coffee shop. When one person was left in front of her, Grace felt an odd tingle go down her spine. Turning her head, she had to suppress a grin. There in the doorway stood Cute Angry Guy, and if her eyes weren’t deceiving her, he was doing his best to suppress his own smile.

She wished he’d stop trying to hide it. With a face like that, he had to have a smile that was positively breathtaking. Certain she’d never really know, Grace turned her attention back to the counter and placed her order as she made her way to the register to pay. She was mentally congratulating herself on the fact she hadn’t turned around again. Self-control—she’d known she had it in her somewhere.

“Thank you,” Grace said with a smile as she took the hot beverage from the young barista. Turning slowly in the crowd, she made her way carefully to the door, still doing her best to not look around and see if cute-angry-smirking-guy was still there. I guess I’ll never know, she sighed inwardly and headed back out to her car.

If her knee hadn’t been in so much pain, Grace was certain she’d have a little pep in her step. Being rescued by a sexy stranger was certainly a great way to start her day. A quick glance at her watch showed she needed to get moving or she’d be late for work. And with so much on the line, the last thing she wanted to do was mess that up.

Although she doubted anyone would blame her if they had seen the sexy reason for her delay.

Abut the Author

New York Times and USA Today Bestseller Samantha Chase released her debut novel, Jordan’s Return, in November 2011. Teaching creative writing to students from elementary through high school motivated Samantha to take that step as well. Since then, she has become a NYT and USA today bestselling author. She lives with her husband of 24 years and their two sons in North Carolina.

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Posted in christmas, excerpt, Giveaway, romance, Spotlight on November 16, 2016

true-blue-coverTitle: True-Blue Cowboy Christmas

Series: Big Sky Cowboys, #3

Author: Nicole Helm

Pub Date: October 4, 2016

ISBN: 9781492641537

Synopsis

BIG SKY CHRISTMAS

Thack Lane has his hands full. For the past seven years, he’s been struggling to move on from his wife’s tragic death and raise a daughter all by his lonesome. He doesn’t have time for himself, much less a cheerful new neighbor with a smile that can light up the ranch.

Christmas spirit? Bah, humbug.

With Christmas right around the corner, Summer Shaw is searching for somewhere to belong. When her neighbor’s young daughter takes a shine to her, she is thrilled. But Thack is something else altogether. He’s got walls around his heart that no amount of holiday wishes can scale. Yet as joy comes creeping back to the lonely homestead, Summer and Thack may just find their happily ever after before the last of the Christmas miracles are through…

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Excerpt

Summer started walking, but Thack took the guitar case from her. “Here, let me help.”

It wasn’t necessary, but it was awfully nice. Especially when his free hand took hers, their fingers intertwining. It was like the culmination of so much desperate belief—that not all men were like the men Summer had met through her mother. That something sweet and easy and normal could exist, and that it could be something she might earn. She swallowed at the lump in her throat. How silly she was to be emotional over something so…little.

The frigid, dark air helped her get her bearings. She led him to where her car was parked, and he helped her load the guitar in the back. When she shut the door, she turned to look at him and managed her best flirtatious-if-nervous smile. “So. Walk?” Though she didn’t know how long they’d last in the freezing temperatures, she thought she might tempt frostbite if it meant spending time with him.

“Yeah. Just…one thing first.”

Before she could even ask what, his mouth was on hers and she sighed into the kiss, leaning into him. She loved the way his hands tangled in her hair, that even though they weren’t exactly at ease around each other one hundred percent of the time, this was easy.

No, easy wasn’t the right word. It just worked. Their bodies fit and somehow his mouth always knew exactly how to move against hers, like they had been built to match in all of the right places—two puzzle pieces that on the surface hadn’t looked like they would fit together.

But the surface was never the whole story, and while for the past two years she’d desperately tried to make the layers fit, she couldn’t erase those first twenty years of her life.

Somehow, kissing Thack in the middle of a dark Montana town, she found she no longer wanted to erase the experience of those years. It was a part of her, a part of how she’d gotten here, to this place where his kiss, his hands, he felt like magic.

She wanted more. He wanted more. They wanted each other. She didn’t want to freeze her butt off on a walk down Main Street. Not when, for the first time, their time together was truly just the two of them. No matter where this took them, that was something to grab with both hands and not waste.

“We could skip the walk,” she said, holding on to his coat, ignoring the press of the car door handle in her back.

His eyes narrowed as if he wasn’t quite certain she was suggesting what he thought she was suggesting. “Um. What exactly would we do instead?”

“You could take me home.” She sounded breathless and probably ridiculous, but she didn’t care. This was something she’d dreamed about. Over the years, she had put a great deal of thought into the details—when and how, and what type of person would be the one she would want to give those last pieces of herself to.

Thack wasn’t exactly what she’d pictured, but at the same time, he was more. Strong, steady, dedicated. Everything about him awed her. He had her pressed against a car door, and she was deliriously excited with it. How could she not want to jump in feet first?

“But we have two cars and… I’m taking this too literally, aren’t I?”

She couldn’t stifle the laugh, both happy and nervous. “You are. I mean, if you have to get back to Kate, I understand. But you could escort me home. If you have the time. If you want.”

“Dad said he’d call if he and Mrs. Bart needed me, so I could take you home. You know, I…I’m kind of curious about what the inside of that thing you live in looks like.”

“I’ll give you a tour.”

“Thank you for being ten times better at this whole flirting thing than I am.” He brushed a kiss against her mouth.

She smiled up at him. “Luckily, you make up for the bad flirting in the kissing department.”

He gave a short laugh. “Not a bad trade.”

She took a deep breath and mustered all of her courage and all of her determination. She set goals, and she reached them. Thack didn’t have to be any different. “So, follow me home?”

He gave a short nod and held the driver’s side door open for her as she slid in. She started the old clunker, only partially sad when it actually started. It would have been kind of nice if he’d been able to drive her home.

Oh well. “Parked around front?”

“Ah, yes. Meet me there?”

“Yup.”

He hesitated again, then smiled. “I’ll see you soon.” Carefully, he closed her door. In the rearview mirror, she watched him walk away, her heart pounding wildly. She’d invited him to her place. She’d offered a tour, which she hoped was obviously more euphemism than reality.

Well, it didn’t matter. Because tonight…tonight she was going to go after exactly what she wanted.

 

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Guest Post

Top Five Holiday Traditions

I admit it, I’m a Christmas junkie. I used to take boxes of Christmas decorations to my college dorm/apartment every year. I have three trees in my basement and a plethora of tubs of ornaments, books, sparkly things, decorative plates and the like. December is all Christmas music all the time. I love Christmas.

Which was why it was fun to mix the magic of Christmas and the magic of romance in True-Blue Cowboy Christmas. My favorite part of Christmas is family, which is why I brought the whole crazy Shaw clan together for this final book in my Big Sky Cowboys series.

To me, the holidays are all about love, so my favorite holiday traditions are either done with family or because they remind me of family.

  1. Watching It’s A Wonderful Life. When I was growing up, this was something we always did on Christmas Eve (much to the complaints of my younger sisters). But It’s A Wonderful Life is by far my favorite Christmas movie, and in my adulthood no one will watch it with me, so I usually watch it late Christmas Eve night when I’m wrapping up the kids’ presents, and that’s actually become one of my favorite traditions in it of itself. Though I love the holiday season because I get to see family and spend time with loved ones, it’s nice to have a few hours of quiet in the midst of all the visiting to enjoy a movie about finding hope and peace while I’m creating magic for my guys.
  1. Christmas Lights Looking. Every year, at least once, we go to one of the parks in our area completely decorated in Christmas lights. It’s always fun to see what people can do and the cute displays different parks come up with. My kids ooh and ahh over the blinking, giant lights, the radio plays soft Christmas music, and we all get to be together experiencing something beautiful.
  1. Go to Iowa. This probably isn’t on everyone’s favorite traditions list (but if it is, Iowa fist bump), but my extended family is mostly in Iowa, which means every year since my family moved away we make the trek up the Avenue of Saints to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. This was always my favorite part of Christmas as a kid, and now as an adult I love sending my kids down to the basement with my cousins’ kids to play, because that’s what my cousins and sisters and I all did as kids. Eating cookies my grandma gets from her church cookie swap, or letting them run out into the yard to play in the snow with my grandpa’s dogs—just like I did as a kid.
  1. Making Sugar Cookies. I can vividly remember standing on a chair in my grandma’s kitchen and decorating sugar cookies cut out into different Christmas shapes, and it just isn’t Christmas without spending a day making edible snowmen, snowflakes, santa hates and the like. These days, it’s usually my own kitchen with my mom and boys, or my mother-in-law’s kitchen with my sisters-in-law. Either way, there’s something special about making and decorating things together, and I hope my kids remember it as adults.
  1. Eating! I’m sorry, it’s true, I love eating through the holidays! There are a lot of one-time treats that come out at my house, or in the houses we visit. I love to make Kringla, but it’s a pain, so I only make it at Christmas time. My grandma always has gingerbread cake, which feels especially like Christmas to me, plus the afore-mentioned sugar cookies. My mom or I make Swedish Rye Bread. My tastebuds are always very happy the week of Christmas. And all these eating usually happens with some of my favorite people in the world, which makes it that much more fun.

There are a million other things I love to do around Christmas time as well, but I’ll spare you my never-ending list. True-Blue Cowboy Christmas features a few (Rudolph, tree trimming, etc), and if you’re looking for a heart-warming Christmas read, I hope you’ll check it out.

About the Author

NICOLE HELM writes down-to-earth contemporary romance specializing in neighbors who don’t live close enough to be a problem. When she’s not writing, she spends her time day dreaming about someday owning a barn. She lives with her husband and two young sons in O’Fallon, Missouri.

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