A Rose in the Highlands by Heather McCollum
Series Highland Rose School Series
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Entangled Amara
Publication Date September 24, 2018
1684, Scottish Highlands
Englishwoman Evelyn Worthington is resolved to build a school for ladies in her brother's newly purchased Scottish castle. But when she arrives, not only does she find the castle scorched by fire, but a brawny Highlander bars her entry.
Clan chief Grey Campbell would rather die than see his family home, Finlarig Castle, fall into English hands, so Grey must win the battle of wills with the beautiful Sassenach who flashes a bill of sale before him.
When the war between Evelyn and Grey escalates, passions flare. But outsiders have their own plans for Finlarig. After secrets are revealed, and muskets are lit, the fates of the Campbell Clan, the school, and a possible future for Grey and Evelyn are in as much jeopardy as their lives.
The slowing rain tapped upon her lips. She rubbed them together. Lord, she was thirsty and exhausted. They needed to get inside. Yanking the bill of sale out of her leather receptacle, Evelyn flashed it up at the Highlander before hiding it in her cape to keep the ink from running in the rain. “Proof that the Worthington family of Lincolnshire owns Finlarig Castle and the fifty acres surrounding it. Now kindly step aside,” she said, though she doubted the huge man was given to any type of kindly action, unless one was a pup.
In the quickest of movements, the Highlander turned to shove the puppy back in through the door, shutting it. He grabbed up the torch. “Show me this proof,” he said and stepped to the side to give her room to join him under the narrow eaves.
Finally. First obstacle met and nearly conquered. Evelyn’s knees felt weak with relief. She climbed the steps, her sodden slippers squishing in obvious ruination. Bumps rose along her arms, and she shook from the cold. Coming level with him, she realized that the top of her head barely reached his chin, which was covered with the short growth of a beard. A slight steam came off the hot, bare skin of his shoulders where the dampness hit.
God help her, just being close to the half-naked, brawny man made her stomach flip. The girls back at court would surely swoon from such raw male power, although Evelyn was quite above such ridiculous attraction. It was a man’s mind and convictions that interested her.
As she drew out the document that had been signed by the solicitor, the king’s representative and Nathaniel, she stepped closer into the light of the man’s torch. Evelyn opened her mouth to breathe, expecting the man to stink of sweat or some off putting odor, like everyone else they’d encountered on their journey. But as she came into his circle of light, she realized that his hair was damp, and the skin of his face and neck were clean. The faint smell of pine and rosemary came from him. He’d obviously just bathed. With soap.
She swallowed. Just because a man bathed and was gentle with a puppy, did not make him safe or honorable. She looked down into the pool of madly flickering torchlight, and unfolded the document, the royal seal still attached to one edge. “Once we settle all of this, you can explain to me what happened to my castle.” She barely kept the chill-induced chatter from her words, and her heart thumped hard in her chest.
A low sound, almost like a growl, issued from deep within the man, but he didn’t say anything, just held out his large hand for the paper.
Evelyn held it up so he could see it. “I will read it to you.” She touched it with her fingertip. “Right there. Finlarig Castle and—”
The man snatched the paper out of her fingers and, without a glance at it, lifted the brittle paper to the torch flame. Evelyn’s lips fell open in numbed shock as the parchment caught fire. The Scotsman stretched his arm high above his head, holding it out of her reach as the fire ate up the paper, blackening it.
Evelyn stared, her entire being, body and spirit, trapped in motionlessness. Was this really happening? Had she packed books and teaching utensils, planned for a new life, traveled in dangerous territory for weeks, argued in the freezing rain only to have her future turn to ash before her eyes? She couldn’t even draw in breath as the horror washed through her.
The man kept the paper aloft and glanced down to capture her gaze. His voice was deep, stern, and powerful. “Finlarig Castle has always, and will always, belong to the Campbells of Breadalbane.”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of A ROSE IN THE HIGHLANDS, we’re giving away for a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will be chosen to receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 9/28/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Entangled Publishing will send one winning prize, Pure Textuality PR will deliver the other. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Heather McCollum
HEATHER MCCOLLUM is an award winning, historical paranormal and YA romance writer. She earned her B.A. in Biology, much to her English professor’s dismay. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and the Ruby Slippered Sisterhood of 2009 Golden Heart finalists. The ancient magic and lush beauty of Great Britain entrances Ms. McCollum’s heart and imagination every time she visits. The country’s history and landscape have been a backdrop for her writing ever since her first journey across the pond. When she is not creating vibrant characters & magical adventures on the page, she is roaring her own battle cry in the war against ovarian cancer. Ms. McCollum recently slayed the cancer beast and resides with her very own Highland hero, rescued golden retriever & 3 kids in the wilds of suburbia on the mid-Atlantic coast.
A small-town Texas Christmas story, where hearts are lost, love is found, and family always brings you back home.
Griffin Holloway is desperate: the Maverick Ranch has been in his family for generations, but lately, it’s a money pit. He’d sooner marry one of his horses than sell the ranch. Marriage, though, could be a solution. If he can woo a wealthy bride, he might save the ranch—just in time for Christmas.
Jaxon O’Grady likes his solitude just fine, thank you very much. But when a car accident brings the unexpected to his door, he realizes just how much one person can need another.
Crossroads is the perfect place for Jamie Johnson: avoiding nosy questions about why she’s single, she’s happy to keep to her lakeside home. So she’s baffled when she gets the strangest Christmas present of all, in the form of a Mr. Johnson, asleep on her sofa. Who is he, and why does everyone think he’s her husband?
In this uplifting novel, three unlikely couples discover just what Crossroads, Texas, can offer: romance, belonging, and plenty of Christmas spirit.
I read hundreds of books each year, and there are a few authors who stand out from the crew, each for different reasons with their own style of writing. Jodi Thomas is a true storyteller. She has such a handle on the words, the ways to pull the readers into the tale, to build up characters that are easy to connect with and fall in love with, care for like they were your best friends. The vivid images she paints with her words draw the pictures so clear that they come to live in the reader's mind. I adore this series and Mistletoe Miracles, it was just as marvelous as the rest of the books, with three couples finding their destinies, love, and soulmates over the miraculous time of Christmas.
Each of these tales is unique. The lives the characters have lived have been challenging, their lone existence in a way satisfying yet the longing for a mate is there somewhere deep in their souls. Nothing comes easy, each couple has to face their own challenges, and with some, it is an instant connection under false pretenses, with other a marriage of convenience, and with the third, it takes a longer time to heal the wounds in their souls and bodies before they are ready for a new relationship. Yet in each story, there is the magical wonder of the holidays, where everything seems possible, and falling in love seems so natural.
The book is build so that each couple takes turns to tell their tale of falling in love. The intervals are clearly marked, and there is never a question who's story it is at the hand. With the intertwined tales, the interest, and intrigue of the romances allure, and I inhaled the book at once, smiling, sighing, swooning, and even tearing up several times because of the touching, compelling, nearly spellbinding way the stories unfold.
With the clean and sweet romance stories, this book is easy to recommend to all romance readers.
From heartbreak to dreams come true, from saving lives to risking them, from small-town charm to adorable four-legged friends, the book with its three couples and their stories covers life, loving, and living in a fluently flowing, brilliantly written, pleasing tale that delighted, captivated, and mesmerized all at the same time
~ Five Spoons!
Jodi Thomas is running a contest for a reader to spend a vacation in her New Mexico condo where she spends time writing.
USA TODAY bestselling author Janie Crouch writes what she loves to read: passionate romantic suspense. She is a winner and/or finalist of multiple romance literary awards including the Golden Quill Award for Best Romantic Suspense, the National Reader’s Choice Award, and the coveted RITA© Award by the Romance Writers of America.
Janie recently relocated with her husband and their four teenagers to Germany (due to her husband's job as support for the U.S. Military), after living in Virginia for nearly 20 years. When she's not listening to the voices in her head (and even when she is), she enjoys engaging in all sorts of crazy adventures (200-mile relay races; Ironman Triathlons, treks to Mt. Everest Base Camp) traveling, and movies of all kinds.
Series Dare to Defy Series
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Impulse
Publication Date September 11, 2018
Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders, has secrets and ambitions of his own. Although under pressure from his mother and gravely ill father to marry his cousin, Charles cannot find the words to propose. But this fascinating American visitor does not figure into his plans, either.
Thrown together unexpectedly at Trevelyan Manor, Madeleine and Charles struggle to rise above their intense attraction. But as things heat up between them over a summer that becomes increasingly scandalous, Madeleine and Charles will both be forced to make a difficult choice. Can two dreamers dare to defy convention and find their own happily ever after?
Bolton, Cornwall, England
June 21, 1889
The brisk wind bit Madeleine Atherton’s cheeks as she stepped down from the train. Cornwall might be known for its temperate climate, but it felt more like November than June. At least the rain had stopped—for the moment.
The rural station at Bolton was much smaller than Madeleine had remembered. Just a redbrick building that resembled a cottage, with a single wooden bench facing the tracks. The platform was empty. Beyond the station stretched a single street lined with small houses and shops. Beyond that, wide green meadows were bisected by a narrow road as far as the eye could see. There was no sign of an approaching carriage.
Where was Alexandra?
Madeleine had spent the entire seven-hour train ride from London thinking about this moment, how wonderful it would be to see her sister again, and how happy Alexandra would be that Madeleine had dared to come. But no one was here to meet her.
Madeline pulled her velvet cloak more closely about her, worried. She had sent a wire yesterday to inform her sister of her plans. I’m stealing away, she had written, just like you did last year. Well, stealing wasn’t exactly the right word. She had simply left a note, packed a trunk, donned her best green traveling suit, and slipped out of Brown’s Hotel early that morning while her mother was sleeping.
As the second of three daughters of one of the richest men in the United States, Madeleine understood that she was expected to make an exceptional match. The quest for a titled husband might be her mother’s ambition, to further the family’s standing in New York society, but Madeleine had agreed to give it a try. It had worked out so well for her sister, after all. Alexandra had fallen madly in love with Thomas Carlyle, the seventh Earl of Longford, and was now happily married and a countess.
Madeleine wasn’t actually opposed to the man her mother was urging her to marry. In fact, she rather liked him. The problem was, unlike most of the girls unleashed on the London Season, Madeleine wasn’t a wide-eyed, immature debutante. She was twenty-four years old. She was a college graduate. This was her second Season in London, taking into account last year’s half Season, when she’d hastily crossed the Atlantic to take part after Alexandra’s impromptu exit.
And Madeleine had specific goals in mind.
Like her sister, Madeleine wanted love to figure into the equation in any match she made. And not just any love. Madeleine wanted a man who adored and respected her, but who also understood her and would be supportive of her dreams.
Was Lord Oakley that man? She wasn’t certain.
Her abrupt departure from town would no doubt enrage her mother, but Madeleine desperately needed a few weeks away to clear her head. She had a life-altering decision to make. And she needed her sister’s advice.
“Is this everything, then?” The query from a mustachioed porter broke into her thoughts. He and another man had deposited Madeleine’s trunk and two bags onto the platform.
“Yes, thank you so much.” Madeleine tipped both men, who touched their caps in thanks.
She was trying to decide what to do, when she caught sight of an approaching carriage on the horizon. Thank goodness. Alexandra was coming at last!
Just then, from another car further along the train, a tall, well-dressed gentleman descended, carrying a leather satchel. Madeleine’s breath caught in her throat.
It was Charles Grayson, the Earl of Saunders. The best friend of her sister’s husband.
A man she had no desire to see, much less speak to.
But he had already spotted her. His eyes widened in surprise as he closed the distance between them, then greeted her with a bow. “Miss Atherton!”
Madeleine gave him a terse smile and a dutiful curtsy. “Lord Saunders.”
“I had no idea you were on this train.” His voice was just as deep as she’d remembered, just as cultured and refined. He regarded her with calm detachment and a hint of something like curiosity, as if unsure where he stood with her or what to make of her. “I spotted you last month at the Fitzhughs’ ball,” he added, “and another time at the races. But each time I sought you out, you seemed to disappear.”
“Did I? I’m sorry,” Madeleine replied noncommittally. There was a good reason he hadn’t connected with her on either of those occasions. She’d gone out of her way to avoid him.
Looking around, he asked, “Did you travel alone?”
“Yes.” She knew it wasn’t the “done thing” for a woman to travel by train unaccompanied, but she’d had little choice in the matter. She and her mother were sharing the same lady’s maid while in England, and Madeleine couldn’t very well have robbed her mother of her only servant. She silently dared Lord Saunders to reprove her. But he only said:
“So did I. My man Evans came up yesterday with most of my things. But why have you left the Season? I pray you are in good health?”
“I’m fine, thank you.”
A cloud of steam emanated from beneath the great locomotive, and the smokestack belched a dark, filthy blast.
“I hope you are not here to see your sister?” he further prodded.
His expression and tone sparked another dash of worry within her. “Why do you say that?”
“Because I received a wire from Longford yesterday morning. He and his wife and sisters are away at Bath.”
“Oh!” Madeleine’s spirits sank. “Then Alexandra never received my telegram.” What a fool she’d been to leave London on such short notice, without waiting for a reply! But it had never occurred to her that her sister wouldn’t be home. Alexandra was seven months pregnant, and had said she intended to remain at home until her child was born.
A new thought worried her. “People go to Bath for their health, don’t they? Do you know if my sister’s all right?”
“I haven’t heard otherwise. Bath is also a popular holiday destination.”
Madeleine wished she felt more reassured. The train whistle blew, a bell clanged, and the huge wheels began to turn. With a rhythmic chug-chug-chug, the locomotive moved out of the station. Leaving Madeleine alone on the platform with Lord Saunders.
“Do you know how long my sister and Lord Longford intend to be away?” she asked.
“A fortnight, I believe.”
Two weeks! Madeleine’s mind worked on the problem. If she could learn where Alexandra was staying in Bath and contact her, maybe her sister would return earlier. Assuming—praying—that she was all right. If not, Madeleine would go to Bath. In the meantime, she could wait at the Longfords’ estate, Polperran House. The carriage she’d noticed earlier was making its approach.
“Well,” Madeleine observed, “it looks as though the staff at Polperran House opened my telegram, and have sent a coach for me.”
“I am afraid that is my coach, Miss Atherton,” Saunders pointed out.
Indeed, as the coach—a smart equipage, painted red and black, with large glass windows—drew up, Madeleine recognized the Trevelyan coat of arms and the coronet of a British marquess emblazoned on the side.
“Please, do not distress yourself.” Saunders’s smile was polite. “It would be my honor to escort you to Trevelyan Manor. You will be most welcome to stay there until Longford and his family return from Bath.”
“Thank you, but no,” Madeleine replied quickly. She had no desire to spend time with this man, nor to stay at his family’s estate. “I would not wish to impose.”
“It would be no imposition, I assure you.”
“I appreciate the offer, my lord. But I would rather find a way to get myself to Polperran House and remain there, while I send word to my sister.”
He nodded. “In that case, pray allow me to offer you a ride thither.”
Madeleine considered. It was a two-hour drive from the Bolton station to Polperran House. She could try to find a cab, but she knew it would not greatly inconvenience Lord Saunders to do her this favor. Although she’d never been to Trevelyan Manor, Alexandra had told her that it was situated near the coast some five miles beyond Polperran House, which was more or less on the way.
Still. Did she want to be cooped up in a carriage with this man for such a long period of time? It was bad enough that she’d traveled unaccompanied all the way from London. But to ride in a closed carriage with a man to whom she wasn’t related or engaged? An Atherton girl, her mother would insist, did not behave that way.
Noticing her hesitation, Saunders added: “There are no more trains today. Your only alternative is to take shelter at the Inn at Bolton—and I would not wish my worst enemy to stay at that establishment, nor even have a meal there. Unless you are absolutely famished?”
“I had something to eat on the train,” Madeleine admitted.
“Well, then?” He quirked an eyebrow. His eyes, she noticed, were an arresting shade of hazel. As he looked at her, it seemed as though he was working hard to take the measure of her, as if she were a problem that needed to be solved. Despite herself, she felt a ripple of sudden interest run the entire length of her body from her head to her toes.
Don’t let him charm you, Madeleine.
She’d spent the past two months at endless balls and parties, subjected to the calculating scrutiny of every fortune-hunting bachelor in London. She’d learned to grin and bear it, and after meeting Lord Oakley, to actually enjoy it. But Lord Saunders’s gaze made her feel self-conscious somehow. And . . . rattled.
A low rumble of thunder rent the air, recalling her attention to her predicament. Raindrops began to patter against the pavement. It was quite apparent that no one was coming for her. It seemed she had little alternative but to accept his offer.
Madeleine swallowed a sigh. “Thank you. I’d very much appreciate a ride to Polperran House.”
Lord Saunders directed two porters to load Madeleine’s luggage onto the back of the carriage. As the men struggled under the weight of her trunk, Saunders asked her, “What have you got in here? Bricks?”
He eyed her with amusement as the coachman secured the trunks and covered them with a tarpaulin. “Did you bring an entire library?”
“Not quite.” She’d only packed two dozen or so of her favorites novels in with her clothes. All the other books she’d brought from New York, she’d been obliged to leave at Brown’s Hotel. In truth, she felt a bit bereft without them. But, she reminded herself, this was a short trip. She’d be back in London in a few weeks.
“May I assist with your satchel?” Saunders gestured toward the tapestry bag Madeleine carried.
Instinctively, she clasped the carryall to her chest, feeling the weight of the precious cargo within. “No thank you.”
He smiled agreeably, then offered his gloved hand to help her board. She took it. His grip was strong and firm, and once again, she felt a sizzle of sparks dance up her arm. Drat the man for being so charming.
She climbed inside, withdrawing her hand and settling on the forward-facing upholstered seat. Saunders took the seat opposite. As the carriage pulled out of the station, rain began pouring down in earnest. Saunders removed his top hat and set it down beside him. Madeleine dared a glance at him across the carriage.
She had to admit, he was very good-looking. His nose wasn’t perfect, but its slight bend gave it character. His cheekbones were, well, high. His curly hair looked soft and was a lovely shade of dark caramel brown. His three-piece suit was perfectly tailored to his broad shoulders, trim waist, and long legs. It was too much, really. No wonder the debutantes had called him “swoon-worthy.”
Madeleine had no intention of swooning before any man, however. Especially this one. No matter what the other ladies had said about him, as they tittered and gossiped behind their fans.
“It is a shame that he makes such infrequent appearances during the Season, and is so skittish about settling down,” one of her acquaintances had intoned breathlessly at a dinner party. “He is still young, just a year shy of thirty, and he will one day inherit the title of Marquess of Trevelyan. The way he flirts! Why, he almost married an American heiress a few years ago! Thank goodness that did not come to pass.”
Madeleine knew all about that scandalous affair. It was the reason she disliked him.
“So,” Saunders quipped, breaking into her reverie as his eyes lifted to hers, “have you run away from town as your sister did?”
His voice held a teasing lilt to it. Madeleine realized she’d been caught staring and in embarrassment looked away, the question setting her on the defensive. “No! I haven’t run away. I have merely taken . . . a small break.”
“In the middle of the Season? How unusual. What prompted your departure? Other than a sudden impulse to visit your sister?”
“What prompted yours?” she challenged.
His smile fled. After a pause, he replied: “My father is unwell.”
“Oh!” Madeleine had only met Lord Trevelyan briefly, the summer before, but had the impression that he was well-liked and respected in the community. “I’m so sorry.”
“He has been ill on and off for years, but never this seriously. It is why my parents remained in the country this Season. The physician and my mother are very concerned.”
“I’m very sorry,” Madeleine said again. “I do hope he recovers fully and quickly.”
Saunders sat in worried silence as the carriage rumbled along, rain beating against the windows. Madeleine felt bad that she’d deflected his question with one of her own. Hoping to fix her mistake and lighten the mood, she said, “You asked my purpose in coming to Cornwall.”
He replaced his frown with a look of genuine interest. “I did.”
“I’ve come because I’ve had an offer of marriage.”
“Congratulations! Who is the lucky gentleman?”
“The Marquess of Oakley, eldest son of the Duke of Courtenay.”
“Ah! I know him well.”
“We roomed together for a year at Oxford. Philip is an excellent fellow.”
Madeleine hesitated. “Yes, he is.”
“You sound uncertain.”
“I don’t mean to. I’m honored by his proposal.” Lord Oakley was handsome, upright, intelligent, thoughtful. Everything Madeleine wanted in a husband. Her mother was thrilled with the match, and Madeleine knew that where titles were concerned, she couldn’t do better than the eldest son of a duke. “But it’s a big decision,” she added.
“Indeed it is.”
“He’s gone off on a tour of the Continent, so I have time to consider the matter. I didn’t want to accept until I’d discussed it with my sister.”
“I understand why. The Countess of Longford is a paragon among women. I should very much like to consult with her myself before making a decision, were I a woman.”
The comment made Madeleine’s hackles rise again. “Were you a woman?”
Her tone seemed to take him aback. “Er . . . Yes.”
Madeleine reminded herself to see the humor in the situation. He was, after all, a man. Most men viewed the world as though it were their exclusive dominion, convinced that women were a weaker, less worthy, less intelligent gender. “Are you saying that a man can only turn to another man for advice? That you would never seek a woman’s counsel on any matter?”
“I . . . did not say that.”
“Yet you implied it.”
“Forgive me, Miss Atherton. That was not my intention.”
“If you think about it carefully, you will see that what you said was condescension, thinly veiled.”
He nodded solemnly as he considered her remark. “Perhaps it was. Again, forgive me. I see that I shall have to mind my p’s and q’s with you.”
“P’s and q’s. That is such an interesting expression.”
“It is, isn’t it? Now that I said it, I realize I have no idea what it actually means.”
“It’s thought to be a schoolroom phrase,” Madeleine told him. “When pupils were taught to write the alphabet, they were reminded to place the letters in the proper order. P comes before Q.”
“That makes sense.”
“There are two other theories, though, that I recall.”
“Please enlighten me.”
“One is that it’s short for ‘mind your pleases and thank-yous”--the latter of which sounds a bit like the letter Q. My favorite insists that the phrase derives from English pubs of the seventeenth century, when bartenders were obliged to keep an eye on the pints and quarts their patrons consumed.”
Saunders chuckled. “How on earth did you come to know all that, Miss Atherton?”
“I had a rather remarkable English professor in my second year at Vassar.”
He paused. “Ah, yes. Your sister mentioned that you just graduated from college. May I congratulate you on your accomplishment?”
He cocked his head slightly, regarding her with what appeared to be a mixture of esteem and curiosity. “I find you most unusual, Miss Atherton.”
“Do you? Why?”
“Your father is one of the wealthiest men in America. You have no need to work. Yet you chose to attend university.”
“Every member of the peerage goes to college,” she pointed out, “and you don’t engage in a profession.”
His brows furrowed at that and he seemed perturbed. After a moment, he commented, “Yes, but that’s different.”
“Why is it different? Why shouldn’t I educate myself? Because I’m a woman?”
An awkward laugh escaped him now and he seemed incapable of a reply.
Madeleine leaned forward in her seat, passion fueling her words. “Women are just as smart as men, my lord, and sometimes smarter. We are equally as capable. We can do anything men can do.”
He studied her. “Is that so? Anything?”
“Anything. Women are doctors and surgeons now—highly skilled ones. And we have women lawyers now in America.”
“So I have heard,” he admitted. “But you must admit, there are some limits as to what women can do.”
“Well, for example, a woman could not dig ditches.”
“Give me a shovel, and I will prove you wrong.”
His eyes twinkled. “Something tells me you would. All right, then. A woman could not be a police officer.”
“She does not have the physical prowess the job requires.”
“I beg to differ. You’d be surprised how strong a woman can be, my lord, when the circumstances demand it.”
He took that in, seemingly considering it, but shook his head. “I do not see it. In the same vein, a woman could never serve in the military or go to war.”
“Untrue!” Madeleine protested. “Absolutely untrue.”
“How so?” He pointed a finger at her. “And pray do not use Joan of Arc as an example. She was an anomaly.”
“Joan of Arc was not an anomaly. Women have served in combat since the dawn of history!”
“Have they? Who?”
“Chinese General Fu Hao, for instance, a woman, led thousands of people into battle in the thirteenth century BCE, and defeated the Shang. In the eleventh century CE, Matilda of Tuscany, an accomplished archer, commanded armies to defend the pope and made kings kneel before her. In our American Civil War, hundreds of women concealed their gender so they could fight alongside their Union and Confederate counterparts. And that’s barely scratching the surface of the—”
“Truce! Truce!” Lord Saunders laughed again and raised his hands in defeat. “I stand corrected. This is clearly a subject which you have studied and I have not.”
“Given the opportunity, women can accomplish great things, Lord Saunders. And one day—I hope to see it in my lifetime—we will have that opportunity. When we have the vote, men like you will be obliged to accept us as your equals.” She paused, conscious that she’d put a somewhat negative emphasis on the words men like you, and worried that she’d gone a bit too far. After all, she was a guest in his carriage, and beyond expressing doubts about women’s physical capabilities, he hadn’t said anything too terribly chauvinistic.
He went quiet for a moment as he stared at her. “Miss Atherton, since the first time we met, I have had the sense that you do not like me very much.”
“Oh, my dislike for you began long before we met, Lord Saunders.” The words tumbled from Madeleine’s mouth before she had a chance to stop them. She stifled a gasp at their brazenness, instantly regretting them. “Forgive me, I should not have said that.”
“No, I appreciate honesty, Miss Atherton,” was his astonished reply. “But pray tell me, what did I ever do to give you offense, before we had even met?”
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of SUMMER OF SCANDAL by Syrie James, we’re giving away one paperback copy of Runaway Heiress!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Runaway Heiress by Syrie James. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 9/24/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About the Author
SYRIE JAMES is the bestselling author of the critically acclaimed Nocturne; Dracula, My Love; The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte (Great Group Read, Women’s National Book Association; Audie Romance Award, 2011), and the international bestseller The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen (Best First Novel 2008, Library Journal.) An admitted Anglophile, Syrie loves paranormal romance and all things 19th century. She lives in Los Angeles and is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America.
And yet he’s the last man she wants to see….
Paige Riddell never expects her relaxing hike to end in gunfire…or in Rob Allerton’s strong arms.
The handsome DEA agent arrested her troubled brother years ago. Now he suspects a connection to a prominent Colorado developer’s death.
The feisty blonde vows to prove her brother’s innocence, until she becomes the murderer’s target. But when her greatest adversary becomes her live-in bodyguard, protecting her 24/7, Paige wonders what will be the cause of her undoing: the killer…or her fierce attraction to Rob.
The energy between Paige Riddell and Rob Allerton is sizzling. The attraction between them is strong, nearly visible force, even though Paige is doing all in her power to deny it.
Paige is a strong, smart, passionate woman who loves her brother, her hometown, and the environment surrounding it. She is known as a straight-talking activist, who avoids relationships after being burn in a marriage.
Rob loves her passion, her ability to stand up for herself, and the fierceness she looks after her brother.
Parker, Paige's brother, turns out to be as protective of his sister, as well. I loved how Parker formed a relationship with Rob, how he didn't hold his own past mistakes against Rob, who arrested him.
All the main characters are charismatic and likable, the supporting cast and crew having important roles in the development of the tale, as the plot thickens and the mystery surrounding the Eagle Mountain Resort gets new twists.
I enjoyed the story, and the romance developing between Rob and Paige had the spark and fire that I have come to expect in the relationships in this series. There wasn't that much about the background of Rob revealed, just that he was dedicated to his career, loved his extended family, and was a charming and protective man.
The mystery and suspense were twisted and deadly, yet all the strings are brought together at the end, every crime and the culprits coming to the light all the way from the beginning of the series.
A fiery and violent crime spree in a small mountain town comes to a tense conclusion. An entertaining series that held me captive from the very start with heightened tension, sharp twists in the plot, and ardent romance stories that warmed the hearts of the readers.
~ Four Spoons
Former president of San Antonio Romance Authors, Cindi is a member of Romance Writers of America, Novelists Inc., and Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers.
She and her husband and their two dogs live in the mountains Southwest of Denver. When she's not caught up in creating new characters and stories, Cindi enjoys reading, quilting, gardening, skiing and hiking. She's also in demand as a speaker, teaching workshops and making presentations to both local and national writing groups.
She knew the exact night she’d conceived the baby. Her body had felt ‘different’ after the lovemaking session with Henry that had lasted the better part of a late winter night after they’d won a particularly challenging case. At first she hadn’t been able to pinpoint it and blamed her exhaustion on prenuptial jitters. The week before the wedding her breasts swelled, her nipples became sensitive to the shower spray, and she’d felt as though her period was about to start at any moment. But of course it hadn’t. She’d known two days before the wedding for sure. Thank God she’d only shared it with Poppy. If Henry had known she didn’t think she’d have been able to walk away from marrying him as she had.
The memory of leaving her soulmate at the altar made the pastry feel heavy in her stomach and she paused, closing her eyes and breathing in and out slowly to ward off a wave of nausea. Anytime she remembered their wedding day she felt sick all over again.
“Is it that good?” Her eyes flew open at the sexy baritone that only a few weeks ago had coaxed an orgasm out of her as he spoke dirty words into her ear while he moved over her, inside her, again and again.
“It’s delicious.” She put the croissant down on a napkin, next to her stack of files. Henry’s gaze dared her to look away and she never backed down from anyone, so she stared back. A quick flash of disgust shadowed his face before Henry looked away and sat in the seat opposite her, reaching over for his files. Usually they sat together, ready to work until whenever it took to get the day’s items checked off. It wasn’t going to get easy, ever, to know he thought so little of her. Knowing she deserved it for something he didn’t even know about yet—the baby—made it worse.
“I imagine you need time to go over these.” A deft verbal pitch to see how she’d react. Would she go high, admit she should have been back in the office last week, or go low and blame him for her staying away, or ignore it? “Alesia sent me the files last week. I’ve read through them all.”
He had to be playing her—Alesia told Henry everything. He’d know she’d had copies to analyze. Their roundtrip tickets to Bali had gone unused, so it wasn’t as if she’d been out of the country and unable to do any work.
“Any concerns?” He kept his face low, focused on the paperwork, but she saw the blood vessel just above his collar, pulsing in rhythm to his heartbeat. Whenever Henry was agitated that was his tell. She used to like to lick it right before he came. Heat erupted between her legs and made her squirm. Apparently her guilt over not telling him about the baby wasn’t the only reaction she couldn’t shake. She clasped her legs together under the heavy mahogany table, grateful Henry didn’t have x-ray vision.
“No, nothing to speak of.” Her voice was low and throaty and she wished she’d tendered her resignation. It would be so much easier, especially now when every damned hormone in her body was setting off emotions she didn’t even know she was capable of. But a deft noncompete clause she’d signed when his father had hired her prevented her from going out on her own just yet.
Brilliant blue eyes watched her with usual alertness. “You sure about that, Sonja? You’re acting like something’s not sitting right with you.”
“It’s just this.” She motioned very slighting between them, using her finger. “Awkward with a capital ‘A,’ am I right? We didn’t talk about it as much as we probably should have this morning.”
Of course dearest Deidre’s appearance had shut down any chance of the conversation they needed to have in private. The curiosity in his eyes turned to frosted crystal.
“Let’s get it out on the table, then.” He splayed both hands on the dark polished surface, and she wondered if he’d forgotten about the time they’d both arrived to work early, too early. They’d ended up here, naked, in under five minutes. Did he see her naked body as she’d knelt on all fours, waiting for him to take her?
“There is nothing here. Whatever we shared was wiped out when you decided to ignore my attempt to explain my actions to you.”
“Wait a min—”
“No, hold up.” He shot down her attempt to interrupt him with a flick of his hand. “You made your choice. And you’ve decided to continue on at this firm. We both need to raise the funds to get the house rehabbed well enough to sell. Fine, I get it. But don’t think for one minute that there is anything other than our working relationship at stake. We’ve always enjoyed that, correct? And I’m willing to work with you, until the day you decide to leave the firm. Because, let’s face it, I’m not going anywhere. This is my family firm. You, you’ll go out on your own or take a better offer elsewhere. That’s okay. Until then I expect the best you have to offer, and for you to kindly refrain from referring to what we shared. It’s over.”
Sonja stared at the man who’d hung the moon for her and only saw the stamp of Boudreaux on his expression. The same look his father had when she’d told him to take the money and referral he’d offered her to quit when she and Henry announced their engagement and shove them up his tight white racist ass. He’d never fire her, not as a black woman in his otherwise very white, very male firm. And regardless of his racist views, Sonja brought in a lot of business for their firm that they’d otherwise never catch. She’d expected Henry’s father to give her a hard time, but not so much Henry. She’d been a fool.
“Our professional relationship never had anything to do with our personal life. Why should it now?”
Henry didn’t respond but instead glared at her. He may as well have thrown a machete at her for how his silent gesture pained her.
The door clicked open and Alesia entered with trays of lunch food, followed by two clients and Rick, the firm’s other NOLA attorney. As she and Henry stood to greet them she eyed her almost-husband. Her ex-fiancé. The man who’d broken her heart.
Henry was tall and professional looking, whether dressed in a classic suit as he was now or in cargo shorts and a t-shirt like yesterday. He’d been born to inherit his father’s firm, a lawyer’s mind part of his gene pool. And until their wedding weekend, she hadn’t seen that he’d also inherited the insatiable need to make everything appear perfect. Hence the pristine wedding they’d almost gone through with.
Henry wasn’t a people pleaser though, especially not to his parents. He’d bucked their sensibilities and desires by choosing to marry her, a black woman from a bayou family. Henry had never seen her as anything other than the woman he’d decided to marry. She believed that. What Henry had refused to see, however, was that his father was never going to leave the firm to Henry as long as Sonja was his wife. The firm was going to be dissolved and all of his father’s money given to charity, eschewing being generous to either of his sons. Henry’s younger sister, a social worker, was in the naval reserves and somewhere overseas, so she wasn’t even on the family radar. She hadn’t gone to law school; neither had Henry’s younger brother Brandon. It wasn’t about the money, which was significant, but about family legacy. Henry was the man to change it, to turn the law firm into a contemporary, relevant part of the community, serving diverse clients and causes. He saw that corporate law didn’t have to mean serving the same good ol’ boys his father had.
But Henry would never have the chance to improve upon his family legacy if she were around. The younger siblings had gotten the hell away from the family dynasty. But not Henry. Henry needed to be part of his father’s legacy in a way the other two didn’t. Because Sonja saw this, saw the need in the man she loved so desperately, she’d had no choice but to back out of their marriage. She’d do anything for Henry’s happiness, and Henry would never be happy without knowing he’d made a difference in what his father had began. He’d never forgive her for leaving him the way she did and that was all right. Sonja didn’t want Henry’s forgiveness. She’d wanted his love, understanding and trust, but her expectations had been too much.
Henry didn’t have it to give.
And as she watched him, the one man she’d ever pinned all her hopes on, she had to face the cold hard truth. She was as unworthy of trust as Henry.
…even if it costs him his life.
Five million dollars for rescuing a kidnapped heiress?
To reclusive Jason Hunt, the job’s about redemption, not money.
But when the troubled former marine finds megarich Samantha Eddington, opposites attract as they escape her captors. Odds are they won’t survive the brutal Teton Mountains or the mercenaries after them.
And if they do, will Jason’s reward be redemption or heartbreak?
Samantha Eddington might have access to more money than most, but she is very down to earth kind of person. She is smart, capable, kind-hearted woman. She is funny, she is witty, and when sorting out her thoughts, she talks a mile a minute, not necessarily expecting you to listen to her mumbling.
Jason Hunt is reclusive and anti-social, yet he has dedicated his life to helping others, rescuing people from the wilderness, his atonement, after losing the woman he loved and his teammates in an ambush at the war.
I loved the chemistry between Sam and Jason, while completely opposite of each other, they complimented each other well. Together they made the perfect unit, a team, partners that got each other. The attraction is obvious and tangible. They do not have much time to build a relationship while on the run for their lives, but the author cleverly wraps up the story so that the relationship and romance between Sam and Jason get a fair and believable chance, a truly swoon-worthy ending to the explosively exciting story.
A smoothly yet rapidly flowing tale of severe action while vigorously running for your life and being fervently attracted to the one rescuing you and saving your life. A fragile relationship that started in the midst of danger and fear yet gets a chance to prove that it is lasting and true.
Julie Miller always delivers unputdownable, well-written tales with charming and intriguing characters that are easy to fall for and cheer throughout the tale
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Defeated, Rhea slid back behind the wheel and began racking her brain to try and remember the remaining directions. How far was she? Could she make it on foot? She remembered her oversized suitcase and its wheel-less base. If she had to, she would make the trek, but she had to know where she was going first. Perhaps there was a store up ahead she could stop in and ask for directions. She looked out the windows and only saw farmland to her left and the River Shannon to her right. And rain. “Okay, Rhea, think. Think, think, think, think, think.” Jitters began to take over and she absentmindedly drummed her fingers on the steering wheel. A knock sounded on the window and she jumped in her seat with a small squeal as a man peered into the car. The hood to his raincoat covered most of his face, but a pair of teeth flashed in a warm smile. “You alright there, lass?”
Rhea stared a moment before she realized the man was standing in pouring rain waiting for her response. She reached for the window and rolled it down. “My tire is flat.”
His brow furrowed as he looked at the tires on the passenger side of the vehicle. He then held up a finger as he rounded her car and looked at the other two. Nodding, he made his way back to the passenger window. “Definitely have a puncture back there,” he motioned towards the direction of the tire. “Whereabouts are you headed?”
Rhea shrugged and pointed to the sloppy stack of papers next to her. “Those were my directions.”
He motioned for her to get out of the car. “Best give you a lift then, come along.” He did not wait for an answer but expected her to climb out in the middle of a storm and drive away with a stranger. Rhea continued to sit in her car. He appeared on her side of the vehicle and opened her door and she jumped in her seat. “I see you have some bags, I’ll grab those if you want to just head towards my lorry.” He motioned to the vehicle parked on the other side of the road. She didn’t move.
“Not here to hurt you, lass. Just trying to help.” He offered his hand and then turned away to yell as a vehicle sped by and splashed him in its wake. Turning back towards Rhea he waved her out. “Come along, I haven’t all day.”
She caught a glimpse of the devastatingly handsome face beneath the hood and felt herself sliding out of the car. “I have bags in the trunk as well.”
“Aye, I’ll fetch them. Hurry now, before you get soaked.”
Rhea darted across the road and hopped into the passenger seat, only it was not the passenger side. Rolling her eyes, she quickly darted back into the rain to slide into the opposite seat.
A deep laugh filtered through the door as the man opened it. “Yanks always take time to adjust to the vehicles.” He handed over her purse. “I’ll go get the rest of your bags.”
She watched as he patiently walked back across the road unaffected by the downpour and grabbed her two giant suitcases out of the back seat of her rental. She heard them plop into the bed of his truck. He then fetched her remaining bags out of her trunk and tossed them into his truck bed as well. She then saw him unroll a blue tarp to cover them. He slid into the truck and heaved a contented sigh. “That ought to do it.”
“Thank you,” Rhea said.
He turned as he slipped off his hood and his bright blue eyes sparkled as his raven hair dripped with what little rain bombarded him beneath his hood. “Riley O’Rifcan, at your service.” He held out a hand and she shook it.
“Rhea,” she introduced.
“Nice to meet you, Rhea. Based on the vehicle and the luggage, I am assuming you just arrived in Ireland?”
“You would be correct.” She reached into her purse and pulled out her cell phone. The screen lit up. Pursing her lips, she slipped it back into her bag.
“No service here, lass. You will have better luck closer to town.”
“Where exactly am I?” She grimaced at the stupid question, but the stranger responded in kind.
“You’re at the county crossing, love.”
“The county crossing? As in Clare to Limerick?”
“That would be the one.” Eying her, he turned to face her. “I take it that is not where you planned to go?”
“Well, yes and no. I know I’m supposed to be near here, but in County Clare.”
“Do you have a village name for me?”
“No, unfortunately I don’t. All I know is that I was to cross the O’Brien’s Bridge and head northeast. I’m to stop at a bed and breakfast there.”
“Would it be Sidna’s Bed and Breakfast you’re after?”
Relief washed over her face. “Yes! Yes, that’s it!” She gripped his hand as if he were her lifeline. Realizing her action, she dropped it immediately. He grinned before turning to face the front. “It just so happens I just left the B&B. We aren’t too far off the mark.”
She placed a hand over her heart. “Thank you. Thank you for stopping to help me and for knowing where I am.”
He laughed. “I’d best know where you are. I grew up here.”
He nodded as he drove, the sound of the windshield wipers and peddling rain filled the silences.
“Do you still live around here?”
“Aye, but closer to Limerick. My family is all about though. In fact, I imagine you will meet plenty of them in a few minutes.”
Confused, she glanced over at him and he smiled. Rhea couldn’t think of ever seeing a man so handsome, even when he was dripping wet.
“Sidna is my mam.” He chuckled at her surprise. “She’ll be pleased I stumbled upon her guest.”
Dani Capelli seized a chance to start over in a small town with her daughters. Now, facing her first Christmas in Haven Point, she wonders if leaving New York was a mistake. Dani loves working alongside veterinarian Dr. Morales, but her two children aren’t adjusting to small-town life. And then there’s Dr. Morales’s son, Ruben—Dani’s next-door neighbor. Gorgeous, muscled and dependable, the deputy sheriff is everything she secretly craves and can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.
Ruben never pictured himself falling for a big-city woman like Dani. But beneath her prickly facade, she’s caring and softhearted and she needs all the love and protection he can give. When Dani’s teenage daughter starts acting out, Ruben draws on family traditions to show the girls just how magical a Haven Point Christmas can be. But can he convince Dani that she’s found a home for the holidays—and forever—in his arms?
The Christmas season is part of the story yet set at the background, so it didn't bother me to read holiday romance this early in the year. The romance story is filled with love and adoration with no physical lovemaking on the pages of the book. And yes, the book is part of a series but easily to be read as a stand-alone story.
The characters are engaging and easy to like and relate to. Dani Capelli hasn't had an easy life, but she has made the most of it, accomplished great things in her life, and as a smalltown vet, she has been able to build a life to her daughters that many in her situation couldn't have. Dani can come off as a little distant, even prickly at times, hiding her past that she feels ashamed of, choices she had made in the past better not shared with the people in Haven Point to spare herself and her daughters from the judgment and blame.
Dani's daughters are delightful, a sweet bit of sunshine six years old and on the verge of a teenage angst thirteen years old, who gets into trouble bringing the deputy sheriff on their doorsteps.
Deputy sheriff Ruben is a solid man, a kind and generous neighbor, who has had his admiring eye on Dani ever since she moved into the town. The chemistry and attraction between Dani and Ruben is a tangible force, like a live wire in between them, yet Dani's past press her to keep Ruben at the arm's length, even when the whole Capelli family falls for him head over the heels.
The story is warmhearted and endearing, with the dash of teenage angst and the difficulties and temptations youth get into while trying to fit in and make friends in a new town. The story is well written, with a natural flow and charm that you can count on Ms. Thayne's books.
A great, entertaining and uplifting kickoff for the holiday readings this year
~ Four Spoons
#1 Publishers Weekly, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including seven RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine.
A bead of sweat broke out on his brow, and he wiped it away with his sleeve. Despite the cool air, he was roasting in his black camouflage gear.
She should be home and in bed by now. Last Saturday night she’d been home by midnight, and even earlier on other nights of the week that he’d conducted surveillance. His pulse beat steadily against his eardrums with impatience. It didn’t matter. He’d be waiting for her when she decided to come home. There was no chance in hell he was backing out of this job now.
Headlights cut through the night as a car pulled up to the front gate.
Determination tensed his muscles, and his lips curved.
It’s about damn time.
The passenger door opened. He sunk lower in the shadows, pressing his back against the outside of the garage. He was out of sight, but still had a direct view of his target. Satisfaction brought his breath to a steady pace. Once she got inside, he’d give her some time to fall asleep, and then he’d make his move. Her delicious bare leg stepped out of the car, revealing a barely-there miniscule dress. She laughed hysterically and pitched forward, nearly doing a face-plant on the pavement. He closed his eyes and shook his head. Just great. She was wasted.
Series Boston Fire Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Carina Press
Publication Date August 28, 2018
When faced with the opportunity to change shifts while staying in the same house, veteran firefighter Derek Gilman jumps at the chance. His new schedule means not working Saturdays, which means more time to spend with his two kids. His divorce may have been amicable, but being a firefighter and a single dad is a lot to juggle. And when fate brings a gorgeous, wealthy woman into his life, he’s pretty sure he can’t handle more than he already is.
Olivia McGovern loves plans. She planned to start her own business and planned its growth. It’s earning her seven figures now, but her personal life simply doesn’t exist. Getting trapped in a broken elevator figures in exactly nowhere, and freaking out in front of a sexy firefighter definitely isn’t on the agenda. Especially not one with two kids and an ex.
What would have been a random incident with an attractive stranger becomes something more when a charity event brings them back together. They’re from different sides of the tracks, literally—with friends, family and careers to consider. But as Derek and Olivia are discovering, chemistry doesn’t allow for plans, and love doesn’t bother with logistics.
But it was her looks that captured Derek’s attention. He only got a glimpse of her profile before she turned, but she had delicate features and dark blond hair drawn up off her neck in a loose bun. Her navy suit looked as if it had been tailored specifically for her body, and the coat flared slightly, accenting the curve of her hips. Her legs were long, and his gaze lingered on her calves before sliding up to the soft spots behind her knees that were playing peekaboo with the hem of her skirt.
And he’d never realized how sexy the click of high heels on a marble tile floor could be. When he was a kid, he’d hated the sound because the high heels usually belonged to an angry teacher he was following down the hallway to the principal’s office. But following this woman as she walked down the hallway with long, confident strides was a hell of a lot more enjoyable.
Of course, she reached the elevator just as the door opened and a man stepped out. Because he’d slowed to leave enough space to appreciate the view, Derek knew there was a good chance the door would close before he reached it and there was no way in hell he was taking the stairs if he didn’t have to.
“Hold the door, please,” he called as the woman stepped in and pushed a button on the panel.
She looked up at him and he saw the hesitation in her body language. She didn’t want to, but he watched the fact he was a firefighter register, plus it would be rude to pretend she hadn’t heard him after making eye contact. He smiled as she hit the button to hold the doors.
“Thank you.” The button for the lobby was already lit, so he stepped back as the doors slid closed.
She only nodded and pulled her phone out of the back pocket of the leather journal she was holding, which was stuffed with notebooks and paper from the looks of it. But Derek could see her reflection in the highly polished metal door and she was looking at him. And not a quick glance to make sure the stranger was staying on his own side, but a lingering look.
He should say something, but he wasn’t sure what to say, since women wearing power suits in the Back Bay were way out of his league. The floors were ticking past like seconds on the clock, though, and he was running out of time.
She was taking a step forward, probably in anticipation of reaching the lobby level soon, when there was a grinding sound and the elevator lurched to a stop. Off-balance, she stumbled and—thanks to good reflexes and maybe some good luck—he ended up with an armful of beautiful woman.
Apparently he was getting an extension.
She tilted her face up to him, and he saw the distress in her pretty greenish-blue eyes. “What’s happening?”
“We stopped,” he said, hoping she’d find the obvious answer funny. In his experience, humor relaxed people. She didn’t even crack a smile, and he cleared his throat before continuing. “There are a few reasons it could happen, but the system probably has a problem or a malfunction somewhere and it shut the elevator down to be safe.”
“This is not safe.” She wasn’t in a full-blown panic, but her anxiety practically crackled around her, and she was clutching his arm so tightly he could feel her grip through the heavy bunker coat. “And what do you mean by a malfunction? So something could be more wrong than the fact we’re not moving anymore?”
“Everything’s fine.” He had to let his arms fall away from her as she backed away, wincing a little. “Are you hurt?”
“No.” He wasn’t reassured by the quick way she said it, as if it was a reflex and maybe not the truth.
He pulled out his phone to send a quick group text to Danny Walsh—Engine 59’s LT—and Rick Gullotti. Elevator’s stuck. Why? Then he peeled off the heavy coat and tossed it on the floor, dropping the helmet on top of it while she sent a text message of her own to somebody. “We’re okay in here. Just try to stay calm and we’ll be out in no time.”
“Stay calm,” she muttered as her phone vibrated and she sent another text. “That’s easy for you to say. Being brave in the face of death is part of your job.”
That was a little dramatic, but she wasn’t totally wrong. About his job, anyway. “You’re not facing death. I promise.”
His phone vibrated with a response from Walsh. Working on it. Stand by.
The woman’s face was slightly flushed. “Shouldn’t you… I don’t know. Go up through the ceiling hatch and climb up the cable or something?”
Derek managed—barely—not to laugh outright at her, but he couldn’t hold back a short chuckle. “I’m a firefighter, not John McClane.”
“Who’s John McClane?”
Oh, she did not just ask that. “The greatest action hero of all time? The guy from Die Hard?”
“I’ve heard of those movies, but I’ve never seen any of them.”
If he’d needed any more of a definitive sign this woman wasn’t his type, that was it. There were six movies, so she had to work at not seeing any of them. “You’re missing out. So, what’s your name?”
“Pretty name.” Classic and elegant, and it suited her. “I’m Derek.”
“Can you pry open the doors?” she asked, clearly not in a place to be distracted by small talk.
“With my bare hands?” He held them up, showing off his lack of tools. “I work out a little, but not that much.”
Her gaze flicked over his body, and he stood up straighter and sucked in his gut. Not that there was much to suck in, but he wasn’t in his twenties anymore. Hell, he was barely still in his thirties. “You work out more than a little.”
Her tone of voice made it sound like just an observation, but he didn’t miss her gaze lingering for a second on his chest or the way her eyebrow lifted as her mouth curved into a hint of a smile. She wasn’t flirting, but she liked what she saw and he’d take the win. He’d need all the ego boosting he could get once the other guys started giving him shit for having to rescue him from an elevator.
Then she shifted her weight and, when she winced again, Derek gave her a stern look. “You’re hurt.”
“No, I’m not. I twisted my ankle a little when the elevator stopped.”
“You need to get those shoes off and let me look at it.”
She laughed and shook her head. “I don’t care how nice this elevator is, I am not touching the floor with my bare feet.”
Derek picked up his coat, letting the helmet roll free, and—with a flourish—spread it over the floor in front of her. “Your carpet, milady.”
Under Control is an ardent story that I easily related to. The past hurt and disappointments sometimes make us hold on to the little control we can actually have in life. Compromises are not always easy, the risks of trusting and loving with your whole heart can be scary, and veteran firefighter Derek Gilman and businesswoman Olivia McGovern learn their lessons the hard way.
Derek and Olivia live in different worlds, on the opposite sides of the town. But it is not only the physical distance that is a challenge in their relationship, they seem to be the opposite in every possible way. Yet, the attraction between them is a sizzling, tangible force that keeps pulling them together, despite everything that is pulling them apart.
I loved the energy between Olivia and Derek. I loved the honesty they shared, the connection between them had this aura of trust, flirtiness, and adoration that just pulled all the feels to the surface. I loved that Derek was such a loving, caring father and that the relationship between Olivia and his kids took time to develop, like it does in the real world, as well. I loved that while the story is realistic, it has that magical, whimsical wonder of falling in love, utterly, helplessly, and completely out of our control.
Under Control was an unputdownable, emotional, intense, and fervent story that kept me up late at night. It is a story about family, second chances, giving up the tight hold of control we sometimes hang on to too long, learning to make compromises, and risking it all to fall utterly and completely in love.
A wondrously enjoyable tale
~ Five Spoons
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of UNDER CONTROL by Shannon Stacey, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Carina Press. Giveaway ends 9/11/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Shannon Stacey
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author SHANNON STACEY lives with her husband and two sons in New England, where her two favorite activities are writing stories of happily ever after and off-roading with her friends and family. You can contact Shannon through her website, www.shannonstacey.com, as well as sign up for her newsletter.
She edged to a long table dressed in flowers and several punch bowls full of pretty pink liquid. Picking a glass from the far end, Paige reached for the ladle of the closest crystal bowl.
"Please, allow me."
She glanced up, hand hovering above the silver ladle. "I, uh, thank you."
Paige held a cup as Grey Richards poured the punch. "You and your friend were at the shoot today, right?"
She nodded. "Yes, for a little while. During the car chase."
"I remember. That's great. I love meeting my biggest fans."
A soft smile dressed her lips. "I can't say I'm your biggest fan. I mean ... I ... I enjoy your movies, but ... I ..." The heat in her cheeks burned her flustered nerves. "I'm sorry, I ... " She took a sip of the punch. A polite retreat was all she needed.
Grey laughed and tucked a hand in the tuxedo pants. The material flowed and hung, obviously not a rental.
A man like him probably has a closet full of top of the line tuxedos, she thought. She didn't want to venture a guess at the price tag that came with each one. It was likely to be more than she'd make in a lifetime at her job.
"Honesty. I like that. Don't get a lot of it where I come from."
Paige kept her gaze trained on the cup, heat spreading like wildfire.
He leaned back a little, gaze traveling up and down Paige's body, feet to head, and back again. Paige shifted her weight to one foot, then the other.
"You're uncomfortable around me."
She met the trademark gray-charcoal eyes. "I imagine you get that a lot."
Steady in his stare, she felt like he was drinking her in. "What's your name?"
She drew in a steadying breath. "Paige Reed."
"Paige Reed." He watched her. "Paige Reed." He turned her name in the smooth steely voice every fan knew well. "Pretty name for a pretty lady."
What a line. But he doesn't need practice with lines, she bet. She took a sip of punch, thankful the trumpeting thought didn't pass through her lips. "Thank you."
"So," he said, taking a drink of punch, "what kind of movies do you enjoy if you're not my biggest fan?"
She swallowed hard and coughed. "I didn't say I didn't like your movies."
"No, of course, you didn't." He turned to the punch and poured a second cup, took a drink. "You wouldn't admit that much, would you? I ask again, what are your favorite movies? I bet you're a romance fan."
"And if I am?"
He chuckled, hand held up in retreat. "Nothing wrong with romance. I've been looking at a couple scripts myself, but nothing's come my way that has caught my
attention. What's your favorite, if you had to choose?"
" Pride and Prejudice. The one with Keira Knightley."
He nodded. "Historical romance, huh?"
Her turn to nod.
"Good film. Good cast. And I bet you're wondering what the actors are like in real life?"
She smiled and shrugged. "No. You wouldn't tell me even if I were, and really, I'm not a National Inquiry kind of girl anyway. They're just people, who happen to make good movies. And you, you're just another person who happens to make good movies."
His smile widened. "I like that. And yet, when I first came over here, you struggled to talk to me. If I'm just another person, why was that?"
She glanced over her shoulder to the table, where Lil stood, frozen and slackjawed. Paige giggled.
"Something funny?" He glanced over her shoulder. "You're friend looks like she might be a National Inquiry kind of girl."
Paige gritted her teeth. "My sister. She's a good person, who just might be one of your biggest fans. Are you that callous towards all your biggest fans?"
"Oh, no. I didn't mean any offense." He shifted his weight. "I should let you get back to your sister. It's been interesting talking to you, Ms. Reed." He held out a hand.
"Nice talking to you, Mr. Richards." Paige shook his hand, eyes widening as he brought the back of her hand to waiting lips, eyes trained on her.
Wait. Men still do that?
A quick goodbye and he disappeared into the crowd at the front of the room.
Paige stood, hand hanging in the air, staring at his retreating figure
Series Diamonds in the Rough
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date August 28, 2018
Lady Juliette Matthews longs to be much more than just another pretty ornament in society. But using her recently acquired fortune to do some good is more complicated than she anticipated. Young ladies are not expected to risk their safety in helping the less fortunate. And the one gentleman who could help in her mission is stubborn, infernally handsome—and far too honorable to act on their mutual attraction.
And in a desire impossible to deny…
Florian Lowell has suddenly been made heir to the Duke of Redding—a far cry from his status as a dedicated physician. Yet even with his new role as the country’s most eligible bachelor, the beautiful, fearless Juliette is utterly beyond his reach. The scandalous circumstances of his birth would destroy both their reputations if they became known. But when a more urgent danger threatens Juliette’s life, Florian must gamble everything…including the heart only one woman can tame.
“—I mean, to think we could be so lucky is almost too much,” one of the women on the other side of the screen was saying. “Our debuts looked positively dismal with no chance to snatch up a duke.”
“Until now, that is,” the other woman said in a dreamy voice that made Juliette roll her eyes. She glanced at Vivien and had to force down a laugh.
“Can you believe our good fortune?” the first woman said.
“Well, he’s not a duke yet. Is he?”
Juliette straightened and tilted her head. They were obviously talking about Florian Lowell, the physician Raphe had sent for when she’d been sick with the measles the previous year. News of his recent change in status had been the subject of great discussion at Huntley House the previous evening when Raphe had returned home with the announcement.
Juliette still wasn’t sure she understood how the title or the inheritance had come about, but it did look as though Florian would one day outrank his older brother, Mr. Lowell, who was set to become Viscount Armswell one day.
“Either way, I could easily get used to the idea of marrying Florian,” one of the women was saying. “He’s ever so handsome.”
Both women burst into giggles. Muted whispers followed and then the sound of the door opening and closing plunged the room into silence. Juliette looked at Vivien and grinned. “Well, I wish them luck. In truth I don’t believe I’ve ever met a man more unapproachable than Florian.”
“He does look rather starched,” Vivien muttered. She stood and adjusted her gown. “Mind you, I’ve only seen him once or twice, so I could be wrong.”
“No. I don’t believe you are. In fact, my impression of him is not much different. He’s an excellent physician who seems to take his work very seriously. One cannot fault him for that, though I do wonder what it might be like to see him smile.”
“Do you now?” Vivien asked with a smirk as the two returned to the hallway and started making their way back toward the ballroom.
Juliette nudged her friend with her shoulder. “Oh, you know what I mean, Viv!”
“All I know is that you wondering what it might be like to see him smile will likely pester you until you find a way to make it happen.” They entered the ballroom. “Of all the people I have ever known, none are as determined as you when you set your mind to something.”
“Well I—” A wave of chatter cut Juliette’s thought process short. She glanced around, aware of the agitation rolling through the ballroom like tremors threatening to toss all the guests up into the air. “What on earth is going on?”
“Look,” someone said as Juliette pushed her way between a few people, pulling Vivien along by her hand.
“There he is,” another voice muttered.
Shouldering her way past a cluster of women who craned their heads and stared toward the ballroom entrance, Juliette caught a sudden and very unexpected glimpse of the man she and Vivien had just been discussing.
Her breath caught and her heart slammed hard against her chest. Because there he was and dear God if he didn’t look superb! Dressed in evening black, his copper streaked hair was neatly combed, though a single stray lock slashed roguishly across his brow. She’d never seen him like this before. The last time they’d met at a ball he’d been wearing an unremarkable suit cut from brown wool, if memory served. Now, however, he looked like the dukely title would fit him as well as the perfectly tailored jacket and trousers he wore. They seemed to accentuate his masculine physique in a way she’d never considered. It was almost as if his shoulders were broader, his build a little taller and . . .
Juliette blinked. No. She would not be like all the other silly girls swarming toward him and vying for his attention. He was just a man, after all, even if he was capable of saving the sick and putting a broken body back together again, which was admittedly something to be admired. But that didn’t mean she would ever be able to look past his stern demeanor or want anything from him besides medical advice and possibly friendship.
And yet, while she thought of all this, Florian’s head turned in her direction and his gaze locked with hers. The moment was fleeting, no more than a second perhaps, but it was exactly the right length of time required for Juliette’s pulse to leap and for an unfamiliar flutter to fill her stomach.
She sucked in a breath and deliberately turned away. Fresh air was what she needed, that was all. The stuffy heat in the ballroom had obviously affected her senses. So with this in mind, she maneuvered her way toward the French doors and slipped out onto the terrace, breathing a sigh of relief as the cool night air cleared her head.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of THE ILLEGITIMATE DUKE by Sophie Barnes, we’re giving away a paperback bundle of The Most Unlikely Duke & The Duke of Her Desire!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback bundle of A Most Unlikely Duke and The Duke of Her Desire by Sophie Barnes. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 9/7/2018 @ 11:59pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Sophie Barnes
Born in Denmark, SOPHIE BARNES spent her youth traveling with her parents to wonderful places all around the world. She’s lived in five different countries, on three different continents, and speaks Danish, English, French, Spanish and Romanian. But, most impressive of all, she’s been married to the same man three times-in three different countries and in three different dresses. When she’s not busy dreaming up her next romance novel, Sophie enjoys spending time with her family, swimming, cooking, gardening, watching romantic comedies and, of course, reading. Visit Sophie Barnes at www.SophieBarnes.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter (@BarnesSophie).
When Lindy Parker lost her cheating husband, she gained a vineyard. She’ll do anything for Grassroots Winery, including teaming up with the hottest devil she knows, rancher Wyatt Dodge. Wyatt is her ex’s friend and has an ego as big as the bulls he rides. But in spite of that, disciplined Lindy has always wanted him…
Lightning struck Wyatt Dodge the first time he saw Lindy Parker. But there were two problems with that: she was married to his friend, and Wyatt doesn’t do strings. But now Lindy is free, and the two of them can finally explore the heat that’s burned between them for so long. But can Lindy make this good time cowboy decide on forever?
Lindy Parker and Wyatt Dodge have one of those connections that is tangible sizzling each time they just think of the other. The energy and attraction between them are palpable, undeniable, and fervent. They get each other, they recognize in the other the past hurt, disappointments, and heartache. There are moments between them that had me swooning hard and moments that brought tears to my eyes, there is an a-ha moment with Lindy that just blew me away, one of my favorite scenes in a book maybe ever. It just raddled me to the core.
The family drama is heartbreaking. How the parents' choices shaped their children's lives even after childhood was long behind them, and still affected their decision making and even their happiness, was an eye-opening moment, so realistic and revealing.
I have yet to read a book by the author that wouldn't have had me completely enamored. Maisey Yates writes about life and relationship in a way that readers all over the world can relate to the stories and reflect on them. She mixes deep emotions, life's struggles, humor, and romance in a perfect balance, always delivering the goods, leaving readers long for the next book. Thankfully, the wait is never that long.
Good Time Cowboy was one of those stories that I have eagerly anticipated, and Lindy and Wyatt, they won my heart over ten-fold while they entertained and had me alternately laughing, swooning, and in tears holding my breath waiting to exhale. Absolutely a marvelous tale, just like all the other books in the series.
~ Five Spoons!
Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light sexy contemporary romances set practically in her back yard.
She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.
Connect with Maisey Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram