Today we have the blog tour for Lexi C Foss’ SCARLET MARK!
Check it out and be sure to grab your copy of this sexy romance today!
Title: Scarlet Mark
Author: Lexi C. Foss
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Ninja Newt Publishing, LLC
May 23, 2019
Deceit requires punishment.
But what happens when the mark is innocent?
Killian “Dagger” Bedivere
My latest assignment has evolved into a game of deciphering whom to trust—the renowned politician who hired the Cavalieri Della Morte, or the runaway bride?
She’s gorgeous, conniving, and everything I crave in a woman.
She’s also my target.
Rule number one: Never fall for the mark.
Rule number two: Fuck rule number one.
Amara “Scarlet” Rose
I never wanted this world, but the decision wasn’t mine to make. I always belonged to him. Now there’s a new player on the board—one hell-bent on destroying all my plans.
He’s lethal, handsome, and everything I should fear.
Rule number one: Don’t trust anyone.
Rule number two: Do everything you can to survive, even if it means breaking rule number one.
And rule number three: When in doubt, kill.
“Are you going to your knees, Amara?” His voice held a rough quality that skated across my skin, scattering goose bumps down my arms. Definitely a man used to being in charge in every way. My kryptonite.
My gaze lifted to his as I licked a trail downward between his impressive pecs, my thighs sliding slowly across his legs. The blade moved with me, gliding upward along my ribs, his pupils engulfing his irises.
His grip on my neck tightened, halting my movements as I reached the base of his sternum. And the knife lifted to my throat, the razor edge a clear threat against my sensitive skin.
“Don’t test me, darling. You might be worth more alive, but I will hurt you if you hurt me.”
“Worried I might bite?” I teased, smiling. “Or worried I won’t?”
Intrigue darkened his features. “Oh, you’re definitely playing a dangerous game.”
“What’s life without a little excitement?” I countered, licking my lips. “And you’re the one who told me to use my mouth.”
“Indeed I did.” He released my neck, but the blade remained. “Continue if you dare.”
Oh, I dare.
And you’ll regret ever challenging me.
Lexi C. Foss is an award winning and bestselling author of paranormal romance. She loves complex plots, twists and turns, and writing fantasy with strong, realistic elements. Many of her readers comment on how her worlds feel real, and she not-so-secretly wishes they were—at least some of them.
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The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club
by Ann Warner
Genre: Cozy Mystery
When Thomas died, I discovered he’d shifted control of our assets to our son, and one of Jeff’s first decisions was where I would live. It was obvious from the speed with which he accomplished my move, he’d been planning it for some time.
Had he asked my opinion, I certainly wouldn’t have picked Brookside Retirement Community. For one thing, there’s no brook, and for another, the cutesy bird-and-flower theme is simply annoying. Although I have an apartment and I’m free to interact with other residents, or not, as I choose, I still wouldn’t have chosen to live here.
The hallways are lined with both fussy bird prints of dubious quality and flamboyant floral bouquets in need of dusting. Each wing of the complex (there are five) has a combination bird-and-flower name. I live in the Morning Glory-Mourning Dove wing—or GloryDove for short. I suppose that’s better than the Snapdragon-Titmouse wing. I’ve already noticed people who live in SnapTit tend to hesitate when asked which wing they’re in.
Carrying the theme beyond pictures and floral arrangements, each wing has its own glass-fronted cage filled with tiny birds that dart about and tweet continuously.
Next to the mandatory enclosure of birds in the front lobby sits a morose parrot in a cage so small it can’t even spread its wings, let alone do a quick flit. I feel sorry for the parrot who, like many of the residents here, is in his nineties, but I do steer clear of him. He has a reputation for biting, not that I blame him. If someone confined me to a small cage next to the roomier quarters of luckier members of the species and forced me to listen to all their nonstop celebrating, I’d bite too.
So far, the only bright spot has been Lillian Fitzel. When I told Lill that, she laughed that deep, rich chuckle of hers.
“Me a bright spot, Josephine? Why, I’m as black as the bottom of my granny’s favorite cooking pot.”
Lill’s the one who said Brookside should be rechristened Babbling Brook, a tongue-in-cheek reference to both the nonexistent waterway as well as the more irritating residents.
Jeff parked me here because he considers me elderly, but I’m only seventy. Much too young to be shut away with a bunch of old people, fake flowers, and birds.
I’ve decided I won’t have it. I’ve spent fifty years living a life of duty and restraint, and I’m not wasting another minute. As soon as I get my financial and legal affairs in order, I’m out of here.
~ ~ ~
Shortly after Lill and I struck up our friendship, she invited me to become the fourth in a group that plays cards two days a week. I’m not crazy about card games, but I decided it might be a welcome distraction. At least until I get my next move figured out.
Unfortunately, I quickly discovered it wasn’t going to provide as much of a distraction as I’d hoped since the other two women in the group are both as dull as case knives. Not a sliver of intellectual curiosity between the two of them.
Myrtle, who would make two of Edna or three of Lill, is never seen in public without makeup and carefully styled hair. She favors flowing garments in bright colors that flutter when she moves. It makes me tired just to look at her.
In contrast, Edna’s makeup ends at her chin, and her scanty hair often looks like a gerbil has been playing in it. Setting off polyester pantsuits that should have been sent to a landfill forty years ago is a strand of yellowing pearls she’s never without.
When it was finally my choice what to play next, I simply couldn’t resist the imp sitting on my shoulder, and the words “strip poker” tumbled out.
Myrtle sat back and thumped the table. “You can’t choose that.”
“Why can’t I? You picked hearts.” And if there’s a stupider game, I don’t know what it is, although in the interest of ongoing relations, I refrained from sharing that opinion out loud. “At least strip poker will be interesting.”
Myrtle’s bosom heaved, something that always makes me want to move rapidly out of her vicinity.
“Well, I never. Josephine Bartlett, you’re just, just—”
“What kind of poker?” Lill chimed in. “Strip poker can be played any number of ways.”
“How about five-card draw?”
“I don’t think poker is a very ladylike game,” Edna said, her nose elevated.
Edna’s a priss, if I do say so, although I can’t take credit for coming up with the descriptor since her bizarrely appropriate last name, Prisant, got there first.
“And what exactly has being ladylike gotten any of us lately?”
“I don’t know about you, Josephine,” Myrtle said, “but Bertie Teller came over and sat next to me at the last movie night and held my hand during the scary parts.”
“If Bertie Teller tried to hold my hand, I’d deck him. Not that it would take much. The old fart totters around here cackling like a demented hen.”
“You’re just jealous because nobody wants to sit with you.” Edna always seems to have two cents ready to pitch into any conversation.
“Better off alone than stuck with a Bertie,” I said. “Are we going to talk or play?”
Edna lowered her nose with a sniffy noise. “But really, strip poker? I’m quite certain nobody wants to see you naked.”
“They won’t since I plan to win.”
Myrtle placed a finger in the corner of her mouth and cocked her head. “I think it could be amusing.”
I sometimes wonder if she practices expressions in the mirror.
“Nobody wants to see you naked either, Myrtle. Trust me on that,” Edna said with another sniff.
I was tempted to hand her a tissue, but doubted that would go over very well.
Myrtle turned her head and gave Edna what I’ve labeled her Queen Elizabeth stare. “I think they’d rather see me than you.”
“Whatever.” Edna has at least one grandchild and proves it by keeping up with the latest slang.
“How about nobody gets naked,” Lill said. “That is, not literally.”
Lill is skinny enough she could be planted in a field to scare off crows, but she has this deep, resonant voice that never fails to startle me.
“After all,” she said, “the staff won’t stand by and let the four of us strip without stepping in with the meds. But perhaps metaphorically?”
“What exactly do you mean, metaphorically?” Edna sniffed again; I suspect golden retriever genes in there somewhere. “And yes, Ms. Vocabulary, I do know what metaphorically means. I just don’t see what it has to do with strip poker.”
But I did. It was as though Lill and I had discussed this ahead of time. And she was right. There is more than one kind of naked.
“How about the biggest loser at the end of the afternoon pays up with a personal story,” Lill said, confirming what I’d guessed she was going to say. “And it should be something that isn’t all sweetness and light.”
“I absolutely agree,” I said, jumping back in to take control of what was, after all, impulsive or not, my idea. “And I want to hear something down and dirty I won’t forget in five minutes.”
Edna huffed. “You never forget a thing, Josephine. It’s one of your least attractive qualities. And what are we going to use to keep track, anyway?”
“Doesn’t matter. Toothpicks, pills, dust bunnies.”
Edna snorted. I suspect she doesn’t like me. And just to be clear, if I could vote her out of the group, I would. Unfortunately, she was here first. And fair is fair.
“Never mind that,” Myrtle said. “If we’re going to do this, you have to tell us the rules, Josephine.”
“Okay, how about this? We’ll all start out with the same number of toothpicks or whatever. Then the one with the fewest left by the end of the afternoon has to tell a story.”
“I think Myrtle means the specifics,” Edna said with a frown. “You know. What beats what. Aren’t there flushes and pairs and full houses and the like?”
Truly, Edna is such a pain sometimes.
“Well, a flush and a full house beat a straight,” I said.
Lill was obviously trying not to chortle. Unsuccessfully, I might add.
“I don’t see what’s so funny,” Edna said, giving Lill a sour look.
Edna has no sense of humor, which, while we’re on the subject, is her least attractive quality.
“As you very well should know, Lillian, there are no stupid questions.”
Edna’s voice, with its upper pompous notes and its underlay of whine, always grates on me. If she did indeed once teach American youth the fundamentals of English usage beyond four-letter words, she would know that most questions are either stupid or show a lack of attention by the questioner.
It took a further fifteen minutes of wrangling, but we finally managed to get through the list of what beat what with Myrtle demanding excruciating detail and writing it all down. Then Edna suggested we liberate a box of paper clips from the associate activities director’s desk to keep track. By that time, I was profoundly regretting my suggestion.
My mood was not improved when the best I could muster on that first hand was a pair of treys. I folded early, conserving my resources. Myrtle won that hand with the full house she’d telegraphed by running her finger over the list of what beat what and settling it near the top.
In succeeding hands, the gods of poker continued to favor Myrtle. But although I couldn’t beat her with cards, I was able to stem my losses by watching where on her list her finger ended up.
“About time for a story, isn’t it?” Myrtle reached out plump hands to pull the latest pot to her side of the table, leaving the rest of us with dribs and drabs.
I did a quick count. “Edna has the fewest clips left, so she’s the one who has to tell a story.”
Edna sniffed. “If a person didn’t know better, Josephine, they might suspect you kept folding just so you wouldn’t have to tell a story.”
I have to admit, Edna in her own vague and annoying way sometimes has a point.
“So. Okay. A story.” After sniping at me, Edna appeared eager, which in my view, did not bode well. “Well, then. When I was nine and my sister—Helen was her name—was ten, she’s dead now, you know. Of the cancer, about fifteen years ago.” She pulled out a tissue and dabbed at her nose. Finally.
I sighed, wondering if she would ever get to the point.
“Anyway, as I was saying, Helen and I were given a cocker spaniel puppy that Christmas. We were supposed to share her. I named her Jonquil, and I loved her with all my heart. She was my best friend. When we got home from school, she always came to me first. And she slept on my bed and followed me everywhere.”
Satisfaction made Edna’s voice even more annoying than usual. Although I wouldn’t call the look on her face a satisfied one. It changed as she spoke to something much more complex.
“Then one day, Helen took Jonquil for a walk into the woods next to our house. When I went looking for them, I found them in the small clearing where we often played. Helen was tying a rope around Jonquil’s neck, and when I asked her what she was doing, she lifted the rope with Jonquil dangling on the end.” Edna paused and blinked with a far away look in her eyes.
“There was a tussle. I ended up with Jonquil, but Helen had a bad scratch on her cheek and bruises on her arm and she’d ripped her dress. She ran away while I comforted Jonquil.
“When I got home, Mother came rushing out. She grabbed me by the arm, and before I could say a word, she started thrashing me. You see, Helen told her that I’d attacked her when she tried to pet Jonquil, and Mother believed her.” Edna paused, and for an instant, seeing the expression on her face, I could tell the story still pained her.
“After that, I wasn’t allowed to pet Jonquil or take her for walks. And Helen…” She shook her head and sniffed. “Helen always told Mother the instant I got near Jonquil. It went on…” Once again she paused to compose herself. “For years. But I finally got back at her.” A smile crept over Edna’s face, and it wasn’t a nice smile.
“What did you do?” Myrtle said, sounding breathless.
“I seduced her fiancé, then I told him I was pregnant so he had to marry me.”
We all sat blinking at Edna. Her story was more down and dirty than I, at least, was expecting.
“And then what?” Myrtle said. “What happened after that?”
“What do you mean, nothing?” Myrtle said. “Were you pregnant or not?”
“Of course I wasn’t.” Edna gave a so, there huff.
“What happened when he found out you weren’t?”
“I just told him I’d had a miscarriage. But not until after we were married. He never knew it was a trick.”
Myrtle frowned. “How do you fake a miscarriage?”
“Oh my, you do have a lot of questions. But I only owed one story, isn’t that right, Josephine?”
Mesmerized, I nodded, and Edna closed her mouth and made the sign for zipping her lips.
I might just have to revise my opinion of Edna. It appears she’s a pistol, as we used to say. None of the young people today know what that means. To them a pistol is just something they use to shoot someone.
As we gathered up cards and clips, one of the staff stopped by our table and reminded us there would be a concert beginning in fifteen minutes. Edna’s story had so preoccupied me, I hadn’t even noticed the slow shuffle of other residents taking the seats nearby. But now I did.
The perverse mood that had led to my suggestion we play strip poker dissipated, leaving behind a bad taste in my mouth. Unfortunately, the next time we played cards, it was Edna’s turn to choose what we’d play, and she chose the Naked Poker Game, as she called it.
“After all,” she said, “I shouldn’t be the only one who has to tell a story.”
So that’s how it started, and I have no one to blame but myself.
***Get it FREE!!! ***
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Raised in an Air Force family, Ann grew up to be a clinical chemist, toxicologist, and university professor, but her life took an unexpected turn in 2001, when she began writing fiction. Her debut novel, Dreams for Stones, was a finalist for the Indie Next Generation Book Award in 2007.
Ann's novels about strong characters facing interesting challenges take advantage of the many unusual settings she's traveled to or lived in including New Zealand, Australia, Peru, San Francisco, Alaska, Colorado, Boston, and Puerto Rico. As well, her experiences as a toxicologist have added fillips of intrigue to many of her stories.
In Ann's novels, the consequence of choosing to love or not to love is an underlying theme, as characters face crises and complications that force them to dig deep within themselves to discover their own resilience.
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The Last Snowfall
Standing Tall #2
by Kathleen Gilles Seidel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Pub Date: 5/21/2019
After racking up serious injuries, world-famous snowboarder Nate Forrest returns to the West Virginia coal town that has been his family’s home for generations. The transition’s a challenge, but there’s nothing more beautiful than snow. Except maybe Dr. Lacey Berryville. How can Nate resist this tender-hearted vet who adores every living creature and isn’t the least bit fazed by his celebrity?
Just what Lacey doesn’t need is for this larger-than-life, adventurous Olympic medalist to melt her caution away during the season’s last snowfall. She’s spent her girlhood moving from place to place, and soon she’ll be leaving again. So, what’s she supposed to do about the avalanche of feelings Nate is unleashing in her? Can she leave West Virginia’s tree-covered mountains behind—with Nate giving her the best reason of all to stay?
Metal screeched against metal. Nate jerked forward against his seat belt. The pickup spun, the road disappeared from the windshield, and they were sliding, going down. A gunshot exploded, something slapped hard into his chest and face. His ears started to ring. He was trapped against a big white balloon.
“What the hell was that?” The balloon was deflating with a hissing whine. He started coughing. The air was thick with something powdery and white.
Pete was coughing too. He was batting his airbag down, trying to twist in his seat to check on Hex. “That was a rig that accelerated when it was passing us. The back end of his trailer whipped out and hit us.”
“What’s this white crap?” It certainly wasn’t snow.
“It’s talc. They pack the airbags with talc so the folds don’t get stuck.”
Nate kicked his airbag under the dashboard and used his sleeve to wipe the grit off his face. This was a different adventure than he had been hoping for. Pete was getting out of the truck. Nate opened the passenger door and sank to his bootlaces in the snow. The pickup was angled into the ditch, its headlights sending a faint glow from inside a snowdrift.
Nate shuffled through the snow up to the road. Grainy white pellets whipped against his face. Pete was shining a flashlight on the rear of the pickup. Hex was next to him, a dark dog-shape amid the swirling snow.
The back tires of the pickup were on the shoulder, leaving the rear of the truck almost in traffic.
“How bad is it?” Nate asked. “Any chance we can get out without a tow?”
“Nope. That’s why I drive a company truck. Stuff like this happens all the time.”
“How long will it take for a tow?”
“Forever. And we aren’t calling. The tow trucks need to be taking care of people who are in real trouble, not us.”
Oh, right. Good old West Virginia self-reliance didn’t rely on tow trucks. A fellow looked out for himself around here.
Hex suddenly let out a warning yip and shoved at Pete’s thigh, forcing him to grab the pickup to keep from falling. Over the whine of the wind, Nate heard a rumble. The rumble grew louder. He stumbled and slid down one side of the pickup while Pete and Hex skidded down the other. Pete shone the flashlight on the road, alerting the oncoming hauler to their presence. Not slowing at all, it lumbered past with a blast from its air horn, missing the end of the pickup by only a foot or so.
Two near-death experiences within ten minutes…they hadn’t managed that even when they had been a pair of teenage idiots.
“So, what was this about us not being in real trouble?” Nate made his way back to the road.
“Okay, I should have said ‘people without resources.’” Pete dropped the tailgate. “We have resources. The usual advice is to stay with your vehicle, but we’re too likely to be hit again. So, let’s grab some stuff and hunker down in the burnt-out barn. It’s not that cold. We will be fine until we can find someone to come get us.”
And they would have beefy jerky, cheap chocolate, and bad memories. “There were lights on at the Byrd place. What about if we cut across the field and throw ourselves on old Mrs. Byrd’s mercy? Is she still alive?”
“She was at Christmas.”
Pete handed Nate the gas cans, telling him to put them in the ditch away from the truck. No point in making a collision even worse. Nate then reached into the truck and scooped up his backpack.
“Any chance we could get lost?” he asked while Pete was setting the flares. Standing in the bed of the pickup, they had been able to see Mrs. Byrd’s lights, but they’d lose them once they started walking. “It’d be a
shame to end up frozen in a haystack, two little orphans lost in a snowstorm.”
“We aren’t orphans, no one makes haystacks anymore, and we have a dog. We won’t get lost.”
“It feels like Cheri ought to be here.” They might not have liked girls when they were eleven and starting barn fires, but soon enough they had discovered that their summer adventures were more fun if Cheri was with them.
“Easy for you to say,” Pete answered. “You’re not the one who would have to carry her if she was wearing the wrong shoes.”
He had a point there. Not that Nate would mind bending his knee and having Cheri put a foot on his thigh to swing up on his back, but Pete was her husband.
They crossed the road, slip-slided down the other ditch, and set off across the pasture, letting Hex guide them. Their flashlights carved yellow tunnels of light through the snow. Except for the back of Pete’s coat and an occasional glimpse of Hex’s dark hindquarters, the world was white.
In a few minutes they reached the crest of the field. Along the ridge was a windbreak, the line of cedars planted to break the power of the wind. It was quieter within the protection of the trees, and the snow was less deep. They could walk side by side. At the end of the trees, they had to go back to trudging single file. Hex led them up a little swell. Mrs. Byrd’s yard lights appeared, one suspended from an iron arm arching off the side of the hog barn, another on top of the old steel windmill.
The wind had scraped parts of the farmyard almost clear, driving the snow against the sides of the outbuildings in drifts as high as the latches. The faint tracings of one set of car tracks led to a brick outbuilding that must be used as a garage. The driver’s footprints leading to the back door were now only little hollows in the powdery snow.
Hex led them to the back door. Nate knocked, using the side of his hand to get a deeper sound. The wind was loud enough that a person of any age might have trouble hearing a knock, and old Mrs. Byrd had been “old Mrs. Byrd” for long as he could remember.
An outdoor light came on. The curtain covering the window in the back door twitched. Nate ducked so that Mrs. Byrd could see Pete’s more familiar face. The door opened.
This was not old Mrs. Byrd. This was so not old Mrs. Byrd.
THE ENDLESS SEASON
Freelance graphic artist Caitlin McGraw is living the hipster life in San Francisco when a jury summons brings her home to North Carolina. But doing her civic duty wasn’t supposed to include a reunion with Seth Street, the celebrity Olympic medalist—and Caitlin’s teenage love. She fell hard for Seth at thirteen, only to lose him when he left in the middle of that third summer . . . when everything changed between them.
You never forget your first love, and a decade of fame and fortune as the face of professional snowboarding hasn’t dimmed Seth’s memory of seemingly endless, perfect summers. Now, sequestered with Caitlin on a high-profile case, could Seth have a chance to rekindle those feelings of the past? Amid family conflicts and hard-hitting revelations in and out of the courtroom, Seth and Caitlin face some tough hurdles. With so much at stake, can they trust in what they’ve reawakened in each other and turn this season of change into a lifetime of love?
Kathleen Gilles Seidel is a bestselling author of contemporary romances¸ two of which have won RITAs from the Romance Writers of America. She has a Ph.D. in English literature from Johns Hopkins. She grew up in Kansas and lives in Virginia. She and her late husband have two adult daughters.
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Firefighter romances were my thing when I first started to read e-books, I loved them, I devoured them, the more the heat and angst from the dangers of the job, the better. And Leora Gonzales' books have reignited that fire for these stories in me. I can't get enough of them!
Ms. Gonzales has such an enjoyable way to tell a story, the humor and laugh-out-loud moments balance the deep sorrow, angst, and despair. The banter is spirited, the flirting is filled with titillating innuendoes, the love scenes are filled with deep emotions, tenderness, adoration, and hot-hot-hot sexual tension.
In Still Burning, the accidental roommates + second chance romance + brother's best friend romance, Sasha Kendall and Jack Turner have all the feels, connection, chemistry - everything that one could think that a relationship requires, yet they have to dig deep to find the courage to trust life to deliver moments meaningful enough to balance the danger of losing each other one day.
Add to that mix the serial arsonist keeping all the fire station personnel on their toes, and Jack's mentally unstable ex-girlfriend who comforted him after Sasha walked away -- you got all the feels, heat, humor, threat and danger in a well-twined tale that entertained.
Even though I am not a fan of the third person drama in my romance, here it worked, and towards the end made an excellent plot twist.
For those sunny, summer beach days, binge reading in the garden, or however you want to do it, Braving the Heat series entertain your romantic mind while providing the best of friends, tight brotherhood, humor, heart, laughter, danger, and swoon-worthy moments in ardent, entertaining romance tales...
~ Four Spoons
Today we have the blog tour for White Collar Rancher by Marie Johnston!
Check it out and be sure to grab your copy now!
Title: WHITE COLLAR RANCHER
Author: Marie Johnston
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: May20, 2019
A hoard of seasoning bottles was clustered next to the crockpot. He succumbed to watching as she added a dash or two here and sprinkled some there. Then she grabbed a spoon and tasted the broth. As her red lips closed around the utensil, he stared, his heart doing a slow slam against his ribs.
She was clinical about the whole process. Efficient. Critical. And he was as enthralled as if she were in a lacy negligee, dancing around and swiveling her hips.
Heat engulfed him with that image. Swamped him until his heart pounded. They were just friends.
“Can you save it, Doc?” He had to break the silence—and the power one little thought had over him.
“This, I can save.” Another cryptic comment. It wasn’t in what she said, but what she didn’t say. Something was going on in her life and he had a no-access pass.
That bothered him.
After Maisy, she’d been as no-nonsense as she was about the roast. She saw what needed to be done and did it. But with each passing day, she was dealing with something she couldn’t fix. A professional like her? It must be eating at her.
He would know. He used to be the same way.
Until he’d moved home. He’d rather deal with the changing sheep market and finicky Mother Nature than play people games in the boardroom—and in the bedroom.
She started digging in his cupboards. “I’ll just add some noodles, if you don’t mind. It won’t take long.”
“Of course I don’t mind.” She ate what he made, and he rounded out his meals better. For her. “I’ll go lay him down.”
She arched a brow. “Is he going to stay asleep after being hugged against you?”
“Probably not. But as much as this baby-wearing thing is growing on me, I can’t afford to have a parasite stuck to me day and night.”
Her lips quirked. She put the lid back on the crockpot and turned it to high. “Parasite?”
“Like one of those fish that stay suctioned to the sides of fish tanks.”
She laughed, throwing her head back, and he couldn’t look away from her graceful neck. What would it be like to nuzzle her skin? To hear her breathy sighs, feel the way it’d make her writhe?
Marie Johnston writes award-winning paranormal and contemporary romance and is a RITA® Finalist.
Before she was a writer, she was a microbiologist. Depending on the situation, she can be oddly unconcerned about germs or weirdly phobic. She’s also a licensed medical technician and has worked as a public health microbiologist and as a lab tech in hospital and clinic labs. Marie’s been a volunteer EMT, a college instructor, a security guard, a phlebotomist, a hotel clerk, and a coffee pourer in a bingo hall. All fodder for a writer!
She has four kids and just as many cats.
Connect with Marie:
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To Tame a Wild Cowboy by Lori Wilde
Series Cupid, Texas
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date May 21, 2019
New York Times bestselling author Lori Wilde’s series set in Cupid, TX continues as one free-wheeling cowboy discovers he has a child—and a chance at real love with the last woman he expected.
What would it take to tame a wild cowboy?
One minute, Rhett Lockhart is a love ‘em and leave ‘em bull rider with a slow, sexy smile, a swagger, and not a care in the world. The next, he learns his free-wheeling days are over: a baby has been abandoned in the hospital, and there’s no question: he’s the father. But from the first moment he gazes into his daughter’s eyes, he knows the moment has come to say ‘no’ to no-strings. It’s time to grow up.
Standing in his way is the baby’s foster mother, Tara Alzate, who doesn’t quite believe Rhett is ready to change his ways. Still, she’s not not immune to his considerable charms. So when he proposes a marriage of convenience and shared custody, against her better judgement, she says “I do.” Can Tara tame this wild cowboy and make her own, long-buried dreams come true?
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of TO TAME A WILD COWBOY by Lori Wilde, we're giving away a paperback set of Love With a Perfect Cowboy & Million Dollar Cowboy by Lori Wilde to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of Love With a Perfect Cowboy & Million Dollar Cowboy by Lori Wilde. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Books. Giveaway ends 6/4/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Lori Wilde
A fifth generation Texan, LORI WILDE is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of 82 works of fiction. She’s a three-time nominee of the Romance Writers of America prestigious RITA award and has won numerous other awards. She holds a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Texas Christian University, and a certificate in forensics.
She is also a certified Hatha yoga instructor, and runs a yoga/creativity retreat for artists at Epiphany Orchards in Weatherford, Texas, the Cutting Horse Capital of the World.
The Matchmaker’s Surrender by Tammy L. Bailey
Series Matchmaker Book Two
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publication Date May 20, 2019
Miss Jane Dalton, one of London’s most successful matchmakers, would rather bring couples together than choose a gentleman for herself. In fact, she could not think of anything more frightening than falling in love.
Fate, however, disrupts her plans to remain a single matchmaker when Mr. Nicholas Waverley, her brother’s best friend, is forced to kidnap her after she becomes entangled in an assassin’s web.
Brought together under dangerous circumstances, Jane realizes her true feelings for Nicholas. In the end, however, is her love for him worth the fall?
With perspiration gathering in the most delicate of places, Jane discarded her shawl and went to join her aunt. She sank hesitantly onto a scroll-end sofa with a gold satin stripe, and, anchored to her seat, watched Mr. Waverley shuffle out his remaining guests, much to the chagrin of his mother. Mr. Waverley and his unhappy mother’s conversation echoed into the room Jane and her aunt occupied, seemingly forgotten in the flurry of departing ladies.
“How could you dismiss everyone so cruelly, Nicholas? You know I’ve been planning to hold a party here.”
“Yes, a ball, later in the season. Tonight, you were supposed to return to Oxfordshire.” He paused to draw in an impatient breath. “You knew the location of my townhouse was private and undisclosed. Now, I will most likely need to move.”
He exhaled and ran a hand through his thick blond hair. “Besides, shouldn’t there be a balance of ladies and gentlemen in attendance? What you arranged was an intimate audition of single females to see who would best suit me as a wife.”
“I had to do something. I’ve heard several ladies dare to call you a libertine! Don’t you know you cannot flirt your entire life or charm your way into a lady’s good graces?”
“You cannot force fate on them either.”
Just then, Jane’s aunt gave a loud sort of snort, startling Mr. Waverley and his mother. They turned toward Jane.
His mother whispered what seemed like words of disapproval before Nicholas strode toward Jane, stopped, and towered over her, breathing exasperatedly. “You’re not very good at following directions are you, Miss Dalton?”
“Nicholas Vincent Waverley! Apologize to her at once,” his mother scolded from the other room.
He sent his mother a sheepish look before nodding toward Jane with a tight smile. “Please forgive—”
Jane held up her hand for him to not waste his time. “I think I liked you better when you were predictable and unpretentious, Mr. Waverley.”
His jaw dropped, and she stood, lifting her gloved hand to tap his chin closed. “Good night, sir.”
Jane curtsied to Mrs. Waverley who was preparing to leave the townhouse. “It was a pleasure to meet you. Dinner was lovely.”
Mrs. Waverley sent her son a displeasing look before returning her attention back to Jane. “Thank you.”
On her aunt’s arm, Jane left the house, disappointed and confused. Not once in the short time Jane had known him had Mr. Nicholas Waverley ever appeared so anxious and uncharismatic.
By the time both Mrs. Waverley and Jane’s carriage was brought around, it was almost one in the morning. Her body felt heavy, and her mind raced with questions and curiosity. Her interest grew the moment her carriage pulled away: she noticed another vehicle rumble by to stop just outside Mr. Waverley’s door. She watched curiously, hoping to see who was arriving so late at night, but Jane’s carriage drove away before she could see who got out.
Discontented, Jane sat back and tried not to dwell on her feelings or his bizarre actions. Perhaps the cab held a lady whom Mr. Waverley didn’t want anyone to see. Jane’s heart squeezed in her chest from the very thought.
“Poor lady,” Jane grumbled. She had sulked for quite a few minutes before she shivered—she’d left her shawl at Mr. Waverley’s townhouse. She glanced back, tempted to force the carriage around.
“Oh, Jane, be reasonable,” she scolded herself aloud. After all, what good would come of her arriving unannounced and stumbling upon Mr. Waverley with a lady of ill repute?
Nauseous from her own imaginings, she grasped her stomach. No matter her curiosity, she didn’t wish to catch a glimpse of Mr. Waverley without a stitch of clothing. Oh, perfect. Now she was going to picture Mr. Waverley without his clothes.
She closed her eyes to keep the image of his striking and powerful form from flitting through her mind. It didn’t work. Heat rose from her chest to her cheeks, consuming and shocking.
“Jane, do be still,” her aunt scolded her from her napping position.
“I’m cold,” she lied. “I…I left my shawl at Mr. Waverley’s place.”
Her aunt thought for a moment with her eyes closed. “We are not too far away. We shall return to retrieve it.”
Her aunt straightened and tapped the top of the carriage, leaning her head out of the window to call to the coachman. “Return to Grosvenor Square at once.”
“This isn’t necessary, Aunt Sophia,” Jane begged.
“Neither is you dying.”
Knowing it was useless to argue, Jane waited until the carriage stopped in front of Mr. Waverley’s house again. The black vehicle she’d seen earlier was gone. As well, all the lights inside his townhouse were snuffed out.
“Go on, Jane. A footman should still be awake to assist you.”
A knot of apprehension tightened in Jane’s belly. Still, she stepped out of the carriage and to the door, knocking twice. After a few moments of silence, she backed away, relieved. Who returned to retrieve a shawl this late and without an invitation? Well, apparently, she did. Embarrassed, she shifted back toward the carriage when the wide door clicked open.
“May I help you, Miss?”
Jane twisted around to find—instead of Mr. Waverley’s footman—the short, slight build of the housekeeper, Mrs. Fielding.
“Oh, I hope I didn’t wake you,” Jane said.
“No, Miss. Is the Master expecting you?”
Jane shook her head. “I…I left my shawl here earlier.”
Mrs. Fielding nodded and waved Jane inside, shutting the door behind her, and led Jane into the sitting room.
“Please, wait here,” she said. “I’ll be back soon.”
Jane stood still until heavy footsteps sounded on the staircase behind her. She turned just in time to see Mrs. Fielding bustling up the stairs, a candle in one hand and Jane’s shawl clutched in the other.
“Mrs. Fielding?” Jane called, but the housekeeper continued away from her.
“Oh, what are you about?” she whispered.
While sensibility begged Jane to remain where she stood, curiosity drove her forward and up the stairs. Light was scarce, and she crept at a cautious pace until two carved gilt-wood wall sconces illuminated her path on the landing.
When a cold draft flitted across the nape of her neck, she shivered and turned back the way she had come.
“I’ll buy another shawl,” she murmured. However, before she could take one step, a door clicked behind her, luring her to retrace her steps.
Jane leaned forward, following a blood-red carpet runner down the muted hallway with her gaze. Like a snooping child, she tiptoed onward, both terrified and intrigued at the same time.
When she came to an open door, she peered inside. The room appeared empty except for a few chairs placed around a small round table illuminated by the flickering of a single half-melted candle.
“Hello?” she called, her voice breaking on the word. Her heart pounded inside her ears as she slipped across the threshold.
“I’d just like my shawl back,” she said.
In the hallway, the clomp of footsteps echoed on the runner carpet. Before she could turn around, a hand clamped over her mouth and hauled her into the darkest part of the room.
“I beg of you, do not move, do not breathe, do not blink.”
To celebrate the release of THE MATCHMAKER’S SURRENDER by Tammy L Bailey, we're giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open internationally. One winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Tammy L. Bailey. Giveaway ends 5/26/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Author will deliver the prize to the winner directly.
A LEO wife, mother, and military veteran, Tammy began writing when the shows and movies she watched didn't end the way she wanted them to end. Whether it's historical or contemporary, for her, there must always be a happy ending.
When she's not writing, she's spending time with her husband and two boys near Cleveland, Ohio. Without their sacrifice and understanding, she believes she would have never been able to pursue her passion of writing or her accomplishment of becoming a published author.
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Expected publication: June 17th 2019
When trouble walks in, there’s no choice but to hold on tight for the ride.
Two years before, Shaw Woodward watched the love of his life walk down the aisle to another man. Since then, life has kicked him in the balls and lifted him up several times. Just so happens he’s on the downward dip of that cycle right now.
After a difficult mission in the Ranger Ops unit, he’s struggled to keep his focus, and his captain is forcing him to seek help. He just never expected to walk into the shrink’s office to find the woman he loved seated behind the desk in sexy secretary glasses with her blonde hair in a confining bun he wants to unravel.
Atalee Franklin has experienced a lot of highs and lows lately—a marriage and a divorce to name a couple. As a psychiatrist, she’s passionate about helping people through their most difficult moments, but then in walks Shaw, the gorgeous, muscled friend of her ex-husband, and also the reason her marriage failed.
With another shot at a relationship in his sights, can Shaw actually get his head in order enough to feel again? Leaving the Ranger Ops isn’t even a possibility—the only way they’ll strip him from the unit is by putting him in the ground. Atalee sees no way to help the man she cares for without giving her professional opinion to quit the special ops force, but could her heart be impairing her judgment in this case? Losing him a second time isn’t even an option…
Em Petrova was raised by hippies in the wilds of Pennsylvania but told her parents at the age of four she wanted to be a gypsy when she grew up. She has a soft spot for babies, puppies and 90s Grunge music and believes in Bigfoot and aliens. She started writing at the age of twelve and prides herself on making her characters larger than life and her sex scenes hotter than hot.
She burst into the world of publishing in 2010 after having five beautiful bambinos and figuring they were old enough to get their own snacks while she pounds away at the keys . In her not-so-spare time, she is fur-mommy to a Labradoodle named Daisy Hasselhoff and works as editor with USA Today and New York Times bestselling authors.
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Welcome back to Petal, Georgia in this spin-off of the Chase Brothers series by Lauren Dane.
Getting lost in the arms of a bad boy never felt so good
Time—and the military— have made Joe Harris a better man than he was when he left Petal, GA ten years ago. Now that he’s back, all is wants is to take care of his dad, get his garage up and running and spend time with his dog.
He has no plans for a relationship, especially one with his best friend’s kid sister, no matter how much she tempts him.
And boy does she ever.
Previously published; newly refreshed by author—including bonus chapters!
From falling in love to heartbreak to family drama and dealing with aging parents with issues and how it affects your life, I was immersed in this tale and at times I felt the pain of the protagonists in my heart like it was my own.
Joe Harris just spoke to me, it was so easy for me to understand his struggles and the way he felt about his parents and everything he tried to do, to hold the family above the waterline and not drown into the sea of mental illness and dementia, issues within the family, PTSD, and everything else life was throwing at him.
Beth Murphy was a notoriously strong woman. She knew what she wanted and wasn't shy about going after it. There was that daring recklessness in her spirit when it came to Joe, and I loved it. I also loved the tight hold the Murphy siblings have, and how they were there for each other. The things they have survived and still were thriving, successful, healthy human beings was nothing sort of amazing and admirable.
The spark between Joe and Beth took off fast, setting out hot flames. What I really enjoy about this series - that is a bit different than what I often read in the romance genre - is that there is more to the story than just falling in love. The author tells a story that is spread over time, and she shows the difficulties to balance life, business, responsibility, family drama, and a new, budding relationship. Life is not always easy, and we do not always get what we want, and sometimes love and desire alone is not enough, you have to find the guts to dare to share, trust, and open up to build something lasting.
Beth showed that even in heartbreak and during the stormy weathers of life, you do not abandon your loved ones. Those scenes were not easy, the pain is palpable, the angst is high, and there are so many directions the story could take, and my gosh, the ache was real and raw, tangible in the air.
Petal, Georgia is well represented in the story, the meddling townfolks, and the extended family brings a lot of characters into the play. It helps to keep a track of everyone if you have read all the books, it is not necessary, but like said, it helps.
I loved the remakes of the original series with the Chase brothers, and this spinoff remake is proving to be just as potent, passionate, and entertaining.
So much emotion, life, drama, and triumph, fitted into a smoothly flowing, heartfelt tale.
~ Four Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
Today we have the excerpt reveal of SOUR by Jennifer Woodhull!
Check it out and preorder your copy now!
Author: Jennifer Woodhull
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Release Date: June 4th
Tall, handsome, and eternally optimistic Noah has dated a string of gorgeous women. His best friend Elle has outlasted them all. Of course, he has no idea she's been in love with him for years. Why would he? It's not like she's going to tell him. After all, she's short and awkward, and as he's fond of reminding her, has a sour disposition.
When Elle takes off on her annual ten-day vacation with her family, Noah comes to a startling realization. She's the woman who is by his side day in and day out, whose office is across the hall, and whose house is around the corner. She has called him on his shit when he gets too cocky, and he has held her in her arms when her heart was broken. Absence must make the heart grow fonder because while she's in Germany with her parents, he realizes that everything he has ever wanted was right there all along. Now he's on a mission to make her realize that romance won't ruin their friendship, but platonic friendship is ruining their relationship.
I’m a guy, and as a guy, I am a great appreciator of the female form in all its glory. I’ve met women who could easily be supermodels, but who were unattractive because of their personalities, intellect, or lack thereof. I have dated women who were what some guys might consider average looking, but who blew me away with their intelligence, wit, or sense of humor, and that made them sexy as hell.
One thing I’m certain of is that finding a woman who is gorgeous, intelligent, funny, doesn’t take herself too seriously, and has a kind heart, is nearly impossible. It’s like finding a unicorn in the middle of an island full of mermaids while standing on a hill made up of all the gold from the lost city of Atlantis. Well, I happen to be the luckiest son-of-a-bitch on the planet, because I have found exactly that. My personal unicorn is named Ariel Bailey, but she answers to Elle.
I’ve liked Elle since we first met while she was in college. I was visiting my brother at school, and he was dating a friend of hers. She was only twenty-three then, and I had graduated a few years before. I liked her and I could’ve tried to make a move on her back then, but it seemed a little weird to me to date someone who was still in college when I was starting my first real job. We became friends, and stayed in touch after she graduated. When a position opened up at my company, I couldn’t call her fast enough.
We all need moments of escape. With all the demands on us day in and day out, we each need something just for ourselves. Perhaps nothing provides a private moment - a brief respite from every day - like escaping into a great story. When you pick up one of my books I hope you find that place that you can escape to. Explore the streets of Paris with new heroines or fly around the world to reclaim your lost love with a favorite hero. Whether it's the romance that takes your breath away or those climactic encounters that make your pulse race, I hope you find that solitary moment of enjoyment while lost in one of my stories.
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Enter Jennifer’s Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway
Today we have the exciting new release from Hallmark! Check out the blog tour for Beach Wedding Weekend by Rachel Magee and be sure to grab your copy today!!
Title: Beach Wedding Weekend
Author: Rachel Magee
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publishing: May 15th, 2019
You’re invited to a sunny beach town for a witty, heartwarming romance.
When Brody broke up with Paige and went to Europe, he suggested that someday, they’d pick up right where they left off. A hopeless romantic, she believed him.
But when they meet again, Brody’s dating a gorgeous actress.
They’re all going to attend the same wedding, and Paige plans to win Brody back. She even enlists her best friend’s brother, Aiden, to pretend to date her and make her ex jealous. A breezy, charming restaurant owner, Aiden actually avoids serious relationships, but as a fake boyfriend, he’s perfect.
As old friends and exes take part in wedding preparations and enjoy the beauty of the Florida coast, they begin to see themselves—and each other—in a new light.
This summer romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for BBQ Brisket Tacos with Sunshine Slaw.
“They’re protecting something.” Paige’s expression turned more serious and she looked out to study the rest of the dolphin pod. “Do you have a baby with you?”
Aiden scanned the group as well. What he’d thought was a pod of six had now grown, and he counted at least ten. And that’s when he saw it. It was so precious it could have softened the hardest heart. “Yep. A tiny one, right there next to its mom.”
The tiny dolphin stayed just below the surface. He was hard to spot because he hovered close to the front flipper of the larger dolphin Aiden assumed was his mother.
Both of Paige’s hands went to her heart and she made a muffled cooing sound. “Oh, Aiden, have you ever seen anything so adorable in your whole life?”
As if the mother had heard her, she swam a little closer, showing off the calf. The baby couldn’t have been more than three feet long and had a sort of clumsy newness about him. Aiden wouldn’t have been surprised if he was only a few days old.
“What a treat,” Paige whispered. The mistiness in her eyes glistened and joy glowed around her. Aiden agreed. This moment was a treat. And what was even more surprising was the realization that there wasn’t anyone else he would’ve wanted to share it with.
They sat there like that for at least ten minutes with the waves gently rocking them, encompassed in a bubble of wonder, escorted by a pair of large dolphins while they watched the rest of the pod play in the water next to them.
Finally, Paige turned her attention to their escorts. “What a precious little baby. Thank you for sharing him with us.”
The one in front popped up, smiling right at them as if to acknowledge the compliment, and then both escorts joined the others and the whole pod disappeared into the darker waters.
She reached back and covered his hand with hers. The warmth of her touch flowed through him, which caught him off guard. He stared at her hand in amazement for a moment before looking up at her. The peaceful expression on her face washed over him, too.
“Dolphins are my favorite animal, and I’ve never been this close to them in the wild. Weren’t they spectacular?”
Aiden shrugged and tried to look humble. “I arranged for them to be here as a thank you for helping me.”
She playfully pushed his hand away and turned her full attention back to where the dolphins had been, breathing out a contented sigh. “It doesn’t get much better than this, does it?”
No. No it didn’t.
Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren't impressed with her stick figures, so she dropped the dream of becoming a world-famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she's not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets.
Connect with the Publisher & Author:
Hallmark Publishing Twitter | Hallmark Publishing Facebook | Rachel Magee Twitter
Tamsyn is a 28 year old bestselling author, editor and publishing graduate. When she’s not reading, writing, or editing, she’s binge-watching one of her favorite shows on Netflix, and spending time with her family and three furbabies.
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Today we have the blog tour for Layback by Jennifer Rebecca! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy today:
Author: Jennifer Rebecca
Genre: Sports Romance
Not too long ago, I had one goal: Win an Olympic Gold Medal but an injury took me out of the running for the Ladies Figure Skating competition at the last Olympic Games. Nancy Kerrigan was grandfathered in. I was not.
Translation: I was disqualified. DQ’d. I was out in the cold on my keister.
But when an offer to fill a spot on a pairs team lands in my lap, I take it. It seems like an answered prayer—that is until a competitor is found brutally murdered in her room at the competitor’s village and my partner is the number one suspect.
I’m going to have to take matters into my own hands. Again. Sweet Kristi Yamaguchi, save me from overly cocky men.
My name is Sophia Eleonore Dubois and holy mother of Dorothy Hamill my life is still complicated . .
Those words echo in my head, pinging around like a pinball. You’re safe with me. And I know that I am. Kane won’t
let anything happen to me. I am totally taken care of, so I do what he says and close my eyes to sleep.
Kane has it covered here. Tomorrow will be better.
I can only hope.
Too bad I would only find out how very wrong I was . . .
Jennifer is a thirty something lover of words, all words: the written, the spoken, the sung (even poorly), the sweet, the funny, and even the four letter variety. She is a native of San Diego, California where she grew up reading the Brownings and Rebecca with her mother and Clifford and the Dog who Glowed in the Dark with her dad, much to her mother’s dismay.
Jennifer is a graduate of California State University San Marcos where she studied Criminology and Justice Studies. She is also an Alpha Xi Delta.
10 years ago, she was swept off her feet by her very own sailor. Today, they are happily married and the parents of a 8 year old and 6 year old twins. She can often be found in East Texas on the soccer fields, drawing with her children, or reading. Jennifer is convinced that if she puts her fitbit on one of the dogs, she might finally make her step goals. She loves a great romance, an alpha hero, and lots and lots of laughter.
Meet the do-or-die warriors who’ll do anything for justice
Introducing the Mission Medusa series
Years of intense training have prepared Tessa Wilkes to become a Medusa—part of an elite, women-only Special Forces team.
But all the mental prep and physical training in the world can’t prepare her fully to take on one of the world’s most dangerous men.
The ultimate operative, Tessa teams with trainer Beau Lambert to track her target, but even if she survives, will her heart?
I love the idea of the series the all-female special forces team. I haven't had a chance to read the previous series on the Medusa, yet I was super excited to read this and get an introduction to the new series.
The topic of equality is very relevant right now worldwide, and the misogyny in the military is brought up here as well as the female recruits fight against the patriarchic hierarchy of the US military. When even the hero has to be educated and brought over to support the idea of women being capable to carry their weight in special ops, you know the road is all uphill for the female soldiers. I actually loved how the author underlined the fact that equality between genders, does not mean that all are necessarily capable to do everything, but that each soldier is used to best of their abilities with the talents and capabilities they have, and not been discriminated because of their gender.
While most of the story is focused on the training, preparations, and the flammable, intense physical attraction between the protagonists, the last fifth of the story is an action-packed, potent fight for survival while completing the mission.
The connection between Tessa and Beau is palpable, the relationship has that tabu vibe as it is absolutely forbidden for a trainer to have intimate relations with the trainee - anywhere in the work world. The discussion might not be if they care for each other but do they care enough to risk their careers and future for each other.
I liked the story, especially the ending and conclusion, and I am intrigued by the concept - and I am invested to see how the personal relationships are played into the dark and dangerous world of dark ops and special forces. The author has a unique voice that she uses to tell the story, and she dares to take on some very sensitive topics, and for that I applaud her.
~ Three Spoons with a teaspoon on the side
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over sixty books, 2-time RITA winner and five-time RITA finalist, Cindy Dees writes military romance and romantic suspense.
A former U.S. Air Force pilot and part-time spy, she draws upon real-life experience to fuel her stories of love on the edge.
When she's not heavily caffeinated and typing like a maniac, she can be found walking her Doberman Pinscher puppy named Waffles, reading, gardening, and traveling.
A Naughty Jolly Christmas
The Holiday Chronicles Book 1
by Denise M. Wheatley
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher eXtasy Books Inc
December 28, 2018
Sasha Williams is an African-American public relations powerhouse who’s come a long way from the tough streets of Chicago to glamorous Los Angeles. While she loves her LA life, she hasn’t forgotten her roots and always goes back home to celebrate Christmas with her tight-knit family.
This year, however, Sasha’s holiday plans are nixed when she’s forced to accompany her sexy, notoriously naughty new client, Drake Lancaster, on the press tour for his upcoming Christmas movie.
Sasha’s furious, yet finds herself overcome with lust when Drake strolls into her office. She’s surprised, considering she’s never dated a white man. Drake’s attraction toward her is just as intense, and the pair partake in a hot, steamy sex session right there in her office.
Despite Sasha’s promise to keep things all business during the press tour, their sensual trysts heat up even further while out on the road. In the end, Sasha must decide whether their cultural differences, along with her secret painful past and Drake’s playboy reputation, are worth her risking her heart and career—especially without knowing whether this is the real thing or a racy fling.
Drake appeared in Sasha’s office doorway, up close and personal, in all his sexy glory. He slowly eyed her from head to toe. Judging by the look of admiration in his penetrating gaze, he liked what he saw.
“So,” Drake began, his titillating tone filled with flirtation, “you’re the notorious Sasha Williams who’s been hired to clean up my image and take me to the next level…”
Drake’s smooth, deep voice sent shivers through her eardrums straight down to her panties. And just like that, her self-control slipped away.
Sasha struggled to compose herself. She managed to force a smile and extend her trembling hand. “Hello, Drake. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
He gently took her hand in his and bowed slightly, kissing it softly. “The pleasure is all mine.”
Drake straightened up but didn’t let go of her hand. His firm grip and rugged skin sent delicate tremors straight up her arm. He slowly studied her face. Then he shamelessly became transfixed on her breasts, licking his lips hungrily.
Sasha froze. She felt lost underneath the spell of his intoxicating stare and stimulating touch.
Drake sauntered over to the door and locked it.
Sasha swallowed hard. “Can I, uh, can I get you something to drink?”
“Nope. I’m good. I’ve got everything I need right in front of me.”
Sasha’s heart thumped erratically. She watched Drake head over to the other side of her office.
“Should we take a seat on the couch so you can tell me everything you’re going to do for me now that I’m officially your client?”
Drake didn’t wait for her to respond. He wrapped his arm around her waist and led her over to the couch. When she bent forward to sit down, his hand slid past her hip and cupped her ass.
Sasha gasped as Drake sat dangerously close to her. She moved over a few inches to put some space in between them, but he promptly moved in even closer.
“You’ve got such a beautiful complexion, Sasha. And I love your hair,” he murmured, lightly running his finger over her cheek.
She leaned back and eyed Drake suspiciously. “Do I really? Wait, let me guess what’s coming next. You’re going to tell me how exotic I look, then ask if you can touch my hair, right?”
“Actually no, I was—”
“Because, newsflash,” Sasha interrupted, now in full rant mode, “I’m just your typical, standard-looking African-American woman. My complexion, my hair…my entire look is the norm where I’m from.”
Sasha was so worked up she was beginning to perspire. She hadn’t meant to go off the deep end, but she was tired of that same old narrative of being viewed as some sort of foreign object—as if her form of beauty was somehow atypical. But Drake actually appeared somewhat amused.
“You made mention of where you’re from,” he said. “Where’s that?”
“Chicago. South side.”
“Please don’t call it that.” Sasha giggled. “It sounds so basic.”
“All right then, the Windy City. Great town. I shot a movie there last year. Fantastic food and even better people. Oh, and I hate to break this to you, Sasha Williams, but here’s my newsflash. There’s nothing typical about you, and you don’t resemble any other woman, period. You’re absolutely stunning.”
The compliment flipped Sasha’s feelings from offended to flattered within seconds. She looked into Drake’s eyes and saw nothing but sincerity, then felt herself falling under his spell once again. “Thank you,” she replied quietly.
“And no, I’m not going to ask to touch your beautiful hair, unless you want me to, of course. But your hair is not some sort of peculiar phenomenon to me. You’re not the first woman of color I’ve encountered. My guess is that you’ve never been with a white guy, though, have you?”
Sasha shifted in her seat. She wasn’t comfortable having such a personal, race-related conversation with this man she’d just met. “I’m sorry, Drake. But we’ve really gotten off track here. Why don’t we get back to business?”
“Sure. Whatever you want…”
Drake’s jeans rubbed against Sasha’s bare leg. He placed his arm behind her along the back of the couch, then let it slip forward over her shoulder, his fingertips practically brushing across her hardened nipples. If she moved an inch, her breast would fall right into his hand. Her entire body stiffened up.
“I’m sure you already heard about the altercation I had at the Hollywood Hills Resort last weekend. Do you think you could spin the story to somehow make me look like the victim? Because I’ve been slaughtered in the press, and when we go out on this press tour for Deck the Halls with Love, I need to have the fans’ sympathy and support.”
Sasha cleared her throat and allowed herself to slowly exhale, somehow managing to avoid having her hardened nipple graze Drake’s lingering fingertips.
“Well…” she began, struggling to steady her trembling voice. “The so-called fans who mobbed you at the resort were obviously trying to pick a fight. Their goal was to record the incident and upload it onto social media for likes and followers. I’ll counter the negative press by saying your actions were simply a matter of self-preservation. You were being attacked and had no security with you, so you had no choice but to protect yourself.”
Sasha was pleased with her impromptu response. And apparently Drake was, too, because she glanced down at his crotch and noticed he was fully erect.
“Wow, Ms. Williams. That was a very impressive answer.”
Sasha gazed into his eyes and saw a glimmer of insatiability. She became so memorized that when he slid his hand onto her thigh and gripped it firmly, she didn’t stop him. He boldly took her chin in his hand, pressed his soft, moist lips against hers, and slipped his tongue inside her mouth.
Her rigid body slowly relaxed. She couldn’t believe this was happening and was even more shocked by the fact that she was actually kissing Drake back.
When his hand glided up her leg, underneath her dress, and he slid her panties to the side, Sasha’s first instinct was to close her legs and deny him. But desire overtook her, and she instead opened her legs wider to give him easier access…
Interracial entertainment industry it couple Sasha Williams and Drake Lancaster are still going strong. Her impeccable publicist skills have kept him on the A-list, helping Drake land the lead role in a major Valentine’s Day movie. When filming wraps, the couple plan on heading to Cabo San Lucas, inviting both their families along to meet for the first time.
But plans go astray when Drake reverts back to his bad boy ways during filming and gets into a huge altercation with the director. He’s booted from the movie and replaced by Mitch Morrison, a hot young African-American actor who’s recently taken Hollywood by storm.
While Drake struggles to repair his image, Mitch hires Sasha to help manage his burgeoning career. The move infuriates Drake, but Sasha insists it’s a great business opportunity. She doesn’t realize Drake’s threatened by Mitch’s good looks and charismatic personality and is worried the pair will bond over their African-American heritage.
The stress of it all puts a strain on the couple’s relationship, especially when Mitch admits to Sasha that he’s developed feelings for her and she realizes the sentiments may be mutual. With the pressures of Sasha and Drake’s rocky union continuing to mount, the anticipation of their families meeting, and Sasha’s elusive affections towards Mitch, the couple can’t help but wonder whether their once booming relationship is about to crash. In the end, they must figure out whether their love is strong enough to withstand these challenges and carry them through this Valentine’s Day.
Sasha sped along the Pacific Coast Highway with her car top down and music blaring. The crisp ocean wind whipped through her hair while the setting sun warmed her skin. She readjusted her sunglasses and leaned back, relishing the moment. Sasha was happier than she’d been in quite some time. Life was good. As a matter of fact, life was great thanks to today, because everything had suddenly taken a turn for the better.
After she’d knocked her presentation out of the park that morning, Sasha received a text from Drake letting her know he had gotten the part. She’d screamed so loudly that Lori came tearing into her office, thinking something had happened to her. Drake then informed her he’d made dinner reservations at Hinata Sushi, the most exclusive restaurant in Malibu, and afterwards they’d check into the royal suite at The Malibu Oceanside, where they would spend the rest of the evening indulging in dessert and one another.
Sasha had something in store for Drake as well. That afternoon, she’d solidified plans for their Cabo vacation after deciding she would rather spend the evening reconnecting with him than coordinating the trip. She made some executive decisions on her own and created an elaborate agenda confirming the exact travel dates, resort location, and list of activities. Sasha sent the agenda to both sets of parents, and just as she’d expected, they got lost in the fancy presentation and agreed to everything.
She stopped at a red light and grabbed her phone, activating the voice-to-text feature then sending Drake a message asking whether he wanted to drive out to Malibu or arrange car service. She hadn’t heard from him since early that after noon, which was strange after they’d been communicating nonstop all morning. Sasha assumed he had gotten caught up in the whirlwind of preparing for his shoot and figured they’d hash things out when she got home.
She turned down her block and approached her house, expecting to see Drake’s car parked outside. When she didn’t, Sasha pulled into the driveway and tried calling him. She got his voicemail.
“Hey, babe, it’s me. Tell your film director Lee that he’s going to have you all to himself in Ontario soon enough and you need to take a break from your meeting to call your girl. But anyway, I just got home. Getting ready to freshen up and pack for our night. I’m so looking forward to this. Love you.”
Sasha disconnected the call and practically floated inside the house. She set her tote down on the couch, then walked over to the closet to grab her suitcase. On the way there, she saw a printout lying on the bar. She picked it up and squint-ed while trying to make out exactly what she was looking at. Upon further inspection, Sasha realized it was a dark, grainy photo of her and Mitch, sitting in the booth at the Diamond VIP Bar. Her stomach dropped to her knees. She trembled all over as beads of sweat formed along her hairline. Sasha held her breath, then read the blurb underneath the photo.
Our sly sleuths here at Gotcha! strike again, this time catching powerhouse publicist Sasha Williams cozying up to A-list actor Mitch Morrison. Sasha, who’s known for mixing business with pleasure, is also Mitch’s new publicist. So does this mean it’s a wrap for her and Drake Lancaster? Apparently so, making it Drake’s second humiliating termination in recent weeks after he got booted from King Gary Rosen’s latest blockbuster production, On Bended Knee. What’s worse is that Mitch was hired to re-place Drake on the film. Ouch! Will Sasha and Mitch make it down the aisle? Will Z-listed Drake go back to waiting tables? Stay tuned, as we here at Gotcha! work to getcha all the latest scoop!
Sasha leaned against the wall and slid to the floor. Tears streamed down her face. She looked down at the article again. A note from Drake was scribbled at the bottom.
Of all the guys you could’ve replaced me with, you chose Mitch Morrison? And I had to find out through some trashy blog? I thought we were better than that. Guess I was wrong.
Sasha balled the article up and threw it across the room. Her chest heaved with remorse. She sobbed for several minutes before grabbing her phone and dialing Drake again. The call went straight to voicemail. She hung up and sent him a text, apologizing profusely and asking him to please call her. Right when she hit send, a message came in from Nick.
In a meeting and can’t talk, but I got a call from Drake saying he wants to sign with a new publicist, effective immediately. What’s going on?
Sasha swallowed the bile that was creeping up her throat and struggled to steady her breathing. “This isn’t happening. This isn’t happening,” she said to herself over and over again.
She closed Nick’s message without responding and sent Amanda a text, telling her she had an emergency and asking if she could come over ASAP.
Amanda replied immediately.
I’m on my way.
Denise N. Wheatley is a lover of romance, happy endings and the art of storytelling. She used to cry as a three-year old child when her mother read to her because she so badly wanted to read the books herself! Once she learned, Denise constantly had her nose in a novel (especially the ones she’d sneak from her mom’s bookshelf). She’s been writing for as long as she can remember and draws inspiration from Chicago, the city where she was born and raised, as well as Los Angeles, which is one of her favorite places in the world. Denise has published several books and novellas with Simon & Schuster, Red Sage Publishing, eXtasy Books and independently, has written screenplays and teleplays, and has ghostwritten for some of your faves. When she isn’t sitting behind her computer, you can find Denise in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.
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