New York Times bestselling author Donna Grant brings you another sizzling Dark Kings novella.
Born to rule the skies as a Dragon King with power and magic, Cináed hides his true identity in the mountains of Scotland with the rest of his brethren. But there is no respite for them as they protect the planet and the human occupants from threats. However, a new, more dangerous enemy has targeted the Kings. One that will stop at nothing until dragons are gone forever. But Cináed discovers a woman from a powerful, ancient Druid bloodline who might have a connection to this new foe.
Solitude is sanctuary for Gemma. Her young life was upended one stormy night when her family disappears, leaving her utterly alone. She learned to depend solely on herself from then on. But no matter where she goes she feels…lost. As if she missed the path she was supposed to take. Everything changes when she backs into the most dangerously seductive man she’s ever laid eyes. Gemma surrenders to the all-consuming attraction and the wild, impossible love that could destroy them both – and finds her path amid magic and dragons.
**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**
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She glanced in the direction that her dog had run. She hated storms. Her parents and Kyle knew that. Why hadn’t they helped her? Anger seethed within her. They hadn’t helped because they wanted to leave Daisy behind.
Well, Daisy was hers, and if she had to leave her friends and her home, she wasn’t leaving her dog.
She ignored both her parents, who were now shouting her name as she raced after Daisy. If she had to carry the forty-pound dog to the boat, then that’s what she’d do. Just as soon as she found Daisy.
Another flash of lightning bathed the land in light, giving her just a glimpse of the dog as she headed toward the house. Gemma ran as fast as her seven-year-old legs would carry her. She reached the house and Daisy.
“Hey, girl,” she said to the terrified dog. “It’s going to be all right.”
It took her four tries before she was able to lift the dog. She shook badly, but at least she wasn’t trying to get free. Gemma knew her parents were going to be furious with her. She didn’t know why they were sneaking away in the middle of the night in a storm, but the fear in her father’s voice and her mother’s face let her know that the questions would have to wait.
In less than two hours, they had packed up all they could and put it on the boat her father owned. She’d asked where they were headed, but her parents hadn’t answered and her brother had shot her an irritated look.
Once she got on the boat with Daisy, she hoped someone would tell her something. She hated not knowing what was going on. Kyle didn’t care. He always said that their parents would tell them when they needed to know.
Gemma stumbled and fell to her knees. She pitched forward so that she had to release Daisy in order to catch herself, but she managed to keep a tight hold of the leash and pull the dog back to her. Daisy seemed to like being held, so she didn’t put up a fight.
“I’m coming!” Gemma shouted, hoping her family could hear her.
She couldn’t see the dock through the driving rain and dark. Which was odd. There was supposed to be a light on the dock. She knew the way to the water, so she hadn’t gone the wrong way. But...why wasn’t the light on?
About DONNA GRANTNew York Times and USA Today bestselling author Donna Grant has been praised for her "totally addictive" and "unique and sensual" stories. Her latest acclaimed series, Dark Kings, features a thrilling combination of dragons, Fae, and immortal Highlanders who are dark, dangerous, and irresistible. She lives with her two children and an assortment of animals in Texas. Website / Facebook / Instagram / Goodreads
One Night Gamble by Katherine Garbera
Series Jokers Wild Book One
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Entangled Brazen
Publication Date January 14, 2018
Talia Spencer’s life is the epitome of boring and predictable. But then she meets him…
The first time she meets Casey Waltham, she’s buying condoms…for her grandmother. And of course drops them accidentally at his feet. Face plant.
The second time she sees him, she’s this close to landing her dream job and is celebrating at a club. Two chance encounters in the same day--that’s got to be a sign, right?
He’s charming and flirty and just what Talia needs for the night.
But it was just supposed to be a hook-up. At least, that’s what she thought...until he turns out to be her new boss...
Talia Spencer glanced down at her leg and then cursed again. The run in her pantyhose had spread all the way up her leg. She’d considered going without them, but she hadn’t had time to shave her legs this morning and she was all Chewbacca down there. She glanced at her watch as she drove down the highway. The interview was in thirty-five minutes.
She couldn’t be late. The Jokers Wild Casino was the newest on the Vegas Strip, and she desperately wanted a job there. She’d been intrigued the moment she’d first heard about it. The casino was co-owned by three Las Vegas mavericks—a gambler, an illusionist, and a daredevil stunt performer. Even now, her stomach churned when she thought of some of the stuff the third partner had done.
As much as she hated Las Vegas and resented the casinos that had been such a dominant part of her childhood, she needed a good paying job that she could use to springboard herself out of Nevada.
Sami Shroft, her best friend, had heard about the job through the office grapevine and put Talia’s resume in for her. Sami liked to push and Talia was the first to admit that she needed a shove every now and then. She’d been raised by her grandmother—and her father, when he was flush with money.
He had been a charmer when Lady Luck was on his side, and he would splash out money like a high roller, even though he had only been a small-time gambler compared to the whales that frequented casinos. That had led to her dad getting in deep with several loan sharks. It had only been after his death from lung cancer, just days before her eighteenth birthday, that they’d learned how much he’d gambled.
The Jokers Wild Casino was probably one of the few on the Vegas Strip where she could enter without her last name being recognized. Most of them had repeatedly kicked her father out after he’d lost too much and become belligerent.
She signaled to change lanes, cutting off a sports car whose driver honked at her, but she just waved and muttered thanks under her breath, then turned just as the light switched to yellow.
Of course, there were no spaces near the front of the grocery store she’d promised her grandmother she’d stop at before her meeting, and she really didn’t have time to drive up and down looking for a good spot, so she pulled into the first empty one she saw and then grabbed her purse as she got out. This was insane.
Her phone was blowing up with messages from a group chat she was in with the Sexy Silvers. It seemed her Gran had a hot lunch date with Glen View retirement village’s version of Zac Efron. He was charming, good-looking and had managed to use those two things to work his way through many of the women in the senior community. Gran was susceptible to his charm—she’d mentioned more than once that she thought he was hot. Talia shook her head and grudgingly smiled. Yeah, her Gran wasn’t the sit home and knit type. She kept her hair dyed jet black and styled, and wore cooler clothes than even Talia did. But as hip as Gran thought she was, Talia knew she was also a bit old-fashioned when it came to men. Gran’s date was at six. The charmer didn’t eat during the early-bird menu hours, so that meant that Talia would have time to make it home before her grandmother left, if she hurried.
She picked up another pair of stockings so she could change before her interview, then walked toward the area of the store where she knew they sold condoms. Gran didn’t need a STD.
She paused in front of the selection. There were a lot of choices.
She grabbed her phone and texted her best friend Sami.
Talia: Which condoms are the best?
Sami: Hot damn, girl! Do you have a date?
Talia: Gran does. I’m late for my interview. Wine and whine tonight?
Sami: Yes. I don’t know on the condoms. Most guys have a preference. I guess you can’t get Gran to ask. <laughing eyes emoji>
Talia: No. TTYL
She grabbed the first box her fingers touched as she turned on her heel and bumped into someone solid. The impact jarred her entire body and she felt the box slip from her fingers as she glanced up into eyes that were blue. The kind of blue that dominated the sky on a clear spring day. He had thick lashes and his eyebrows were dark brown and neatly groomed, she noted, as one of them arched.
She backed away and shook her head.
“I’m sorry. In a bit of a hurry,” she said, bending to pick up the condoms. Then she realized he might think she was rushing to have sex. “It’s not what you think.”
He winked at her. “None of my business.”
She just shook her head and moved around him and down the aisle toward the self-checkout. She glanced at her watch.
Five minutes later, she was opening the door to her ten-year-old hatchback that had seen better days. She stood next to the car for a minute, letting the heat escape, then glanced up at the sound of the low growl of an expensive engine. She’d worked the car show one year as a model when she’d been sixteen, so she was pretty sure the vehicle was a Bugatti Veyron. She’d been thrilled when her father had gotten her the gig…until she’d found out that she’d been working to pay off one of his debts.
The car pulled to a stop next to her and the passenger window slid down slowly. “Need a lift?”
“Uh, no. Thanks. Just letting my car cool down before I get in,” she said. “Nice ride.”
“I won it in a card game last weekend,” he said.
A wave of disappointment went through her and she shook her head. Of course he was charming and hot, but none of that mattered now.
“You’re a gambler,” she said. Gran said not everyone who placed a bet was like her dad, but she wasn’t going to take the chance.
“Wow. I’ve never heard so much loathing in one word before,” he said.
He was driving a Veyron and was no doubt flush most of the time. Not like her father, who hadn’t ever really had money unless he’d been to visit one of his loan sharks.
“I’m a responsible—”
“Let me stop you there,” she said. “I know that gambling only hurts those with no self-control.” She turned to look inside her car. “I think I’m good to go now. It’s been interesting meeting you.”
“You too, brown eyes,” he said before he drove away. She watched him leave for another minute before she got in her own car and drove away.
Her pre-interview session was due to start in fifteen minutes, so she had to hurry to the Jokers Wild Casino. She ran inside and checked in before asking for the ladies’ room. She changed her hose and then touched up her lipstick.
She needed this job.
Just like her dad had needed the dice to hit seven or eleven every time he threw them. Desperation. She had to shake it off.
She looked at herself in the mirror, meeting her own brown gaze.
“You got this.”
Jokers Wild was the key to her finally getting out of Vegas. And that was something she’d wanted for a long, long time.
Casey Waltham was a poker playing phenomenon and had won his first million days after his eighteenth birthday. In the last ten years, he’d made more money than even he knew what to do with. He had the best toys that money could buy, and had learned that real friends hung around when life got shitty. In his case, those friends were his blood brothers—Darien Mitchell and Nicholas Pine.
They’d purchased one of the older casinos on the strip that had been in desperate need of a revamp. They’d torn it down and then invested in the areas where they all excelled. Casey was in charge of the day-to-day operations and running of the casino. Currently, he was in the process of introducing a new high-stakes poker room, with a game that would be played at the end of the month. But for it to be as successful as he knew it could be, he needed to hire a new social media/community manager.
Darien had overseen the design and construction of the high-stakes stunt stadium. It was state of the art and would be used for Darien’s show during the winter months. He wasn’t ready to give up touring during the summer yet. So, instead, during the hotter months, Darien had booked a few monster truck shows and other motor-based sporting events.
Nicholas’s arena was taking slightly longer because of the intricacies of illusion and magic—stuff that Casey didn’t understand but knew was important to ensure that Nicholas could complete his showstopping illusions every night. Once it was finished in about six months, the Jokers Wild would be officially complete and open for business.
So far, they were getting good press but the publicity manager wanted someone who understood social media in a way that he didn’t. And since none of them knew how to delegate, they had the human resources department vetting applicants before they conducted the final interviews.
“Did you look at the list? I still don’t think I’m going to be able to add anything to the interviews,” Darien said as Casey walked into the executive office suite filled with floor to ceiling glass windows that offered an unobstructed view of the strip.
Darien wore his blond hair longish in a way that Casey’s new assistant said made him look like a rogue and had a tattoo sleeve on one arm that was part memorial to his deceased father and part tribute to the legend that Dare had become. Darien had followed in his father’s footsteps and was a badass motorcycle stuntman who took his show all over the world.
“We’ve already discussed this. Either we are all in or we hire a management company,” Nicholas said from the corner. Tall, with close cropped black hair, Nick tended to dress all in black because he said it made his eyes seem more mercurial since they were an icy gray color. Nick was a master illusionist who was world-renowned for both his street magic and his arena shows. Casey figured that appearing mercurial only added to his mystique.
“Calm down, Houdini, I’m not saying that,” Dare said. “You know I’m not really good with people.”
“What’s that got to do with the interviews?” Nick asked.
Dare rubbed the back of his neck. “Nothing. I just thought I’d throw it out there and see if you two would give me a pass.”
“Nice try. But we’re not going to let you just do the fun stuff,” Casey said. “The files are over here. I think we should review them and have some questions ready for each of the candidates tomorrow.”
They all settled around the large table in his office. It was a poker table, but for now, it was serving as a conference table until he decided what his office should look like. Casey tried to concentrate on the candidates, but he kept remembering the girl from the grocery store—the one buying condoms.
Why he was interested, he didn’t know. She’d pretty much made it clear she didn’t like gamblers, and he’d made his fortune playing poker. Vegas was like that—a mixed bag of those who believed in luck, and those who had been dragged along with them. He rubbed the back of his neck.
“We need to talk before the hiring manager comes in,” Casey said, pulling his thoughts back to the business at hand. It was time to forget about her smile and those long legs that had kept him in a state of fascination as she’d walked away from him.
“We need a list of things we want to communicate about each of our lines of business,” Casey said.
Darien shifted in his chair, stretched out his legs, and pulled a piece of paper from his pocket. “I’ve got a list I compiled with Rio’s help. He has been good at getting the crowds at our shows this summer to engage.”
Rio was Dare’s younger brother and had been the one who’d pushed Dare into joining him and Nick on the casino. Rio hated living on the road and since they were the only family the other one had, Dare had decided to make their traveling show a permanent one in the Jokers Wild Casino. It would be a stunt bike spectacular.
“He also wants to offer some classes on stunt riding to our guests. It’s something he hopes the new social media manager will set up, as well as create and manage a community,” Dare added.
“I have a list as well,” Nicholas said, producing it with a snap of his fingers.
“Do you have to do that?” Dare asked, annoyed.
“Yes,” Nicholas said. “It’s part of who I am.”
Darien just shook his head. “That’s like saying I should have roared off the elevator on my Harley.”
“You could have, but that’s not the same as what I did,” Nicholas said, an odd look coming over his face. “It’s second nature to me now.”
“I think it’s fun,” Casey said. “Definitely do it when we meet with the candidates. As for me, I need the new hire to focus on the big poker tournament that we are hosting to open the high-stakes room and a few other things.” He paused and looked at his friends. “A lot depends on us making a good hiring choice here. We should have a final list for Friday. Send your stuff to my assistant and I’ll have her forward it to the candidates so they can be prepared.”
“I can’t be here for the final interviews,” Darien said. “Do you care if Rio sits in for me?”
“Why not?” Casey asked.
“I have to meet with the team about the new show, as well as finish talking to our bike supplier.”
“Can’t Rio do that?” he asked.
“Yeah, but he’s better with people. Besides, he’s the one who will have to work with this person,” Dare said.
“It’s fine with me,” Nick said. “But you can’t delegate everything to Rio, you know.”
“Okay,” Casey said, bringing the group’s focus back to business. “The World Poker Championship is going to take a lot of my energy right now. Winning the bid to host it was a huge win for Jokers Wild. I want to make sure that it’s better than anything anyone has ever seen.”
“You will. Are you playing?”
“Hell, yeah. I’m not about to invite the best players in the world to my backyard and not test myself against them.”
After getting some ribbing about his lack of confidence, Casey wrapped up their meeting and walked down the hall to his office. He couldn’t seem to get his mind off the girl at the grocery store. He wished he’d gotten her name and number, just in case. In a city as big as Vegas, the odds of them running into each other again were slim.
She had mentioned baggage, leading him to assume that she’d been involved with someone who’d had a gambling addiction. He understood how easily that could happen. Luckily, he had always known his own limits, but there were dealers in Vegas—and at tables all over the world—who preyed on those who couldn’t resist trying to change their luck. In fact, that was why he’d come home.
His mom had been one of those people. From a very early age, Casey had realized he needed to learn how to bluff and play the odds, just to keep a roof over their heads and her out of jail.
Some of the people who had fed her addiction were on his list of players confirmed for the tournament. And Casey was going to make sure they didn’t ruin the lives of anyone else.
The pre-interview had gone well. And if she didn’t feel like it was bad luck, she’d even admit to herself that it had gone really well. Ms. Adana at the Jokers Wild Hotel and Casino had been really impressed with her resume and had approved her for the next step—a meeting with the owners at ten a.m. tomorrow. She glanced at the poster that hung on the side of the building, which showed the three owners. The first was Casey Waltham, poker player extraordinaire. He’d won his first multimillion-dollar jackpot before he was twenty-one, and had a reputation for being cold as ice at the table and away from it. The poster portrayed his trademark look—Armani shades and a dark hoodie hiding his features.
She assumed there were people who’d met him and never had a clue who he was.
Then there was Nicholas Pine, master illusionist. He had silver-colored eyes and always dressed in all black. For his shows, he favored designer suits, but for his street magic, he usually wore black jeans and a fitted T-shirt. She’d actually seen him a few years ago doing his act outside the Bellagio. He’d made someone’s cell phone disappear, then reappear in the base of one of the streetlamps. She still couldn’t figure out how he’d done it.
The third partner was Darien Mitchell. He looked like a badass, and had a smoldering sexuality about him that, no doubt, had women falling at his feet. But to Talia, he seemed like he’d be a lot of fun for a short time and then a lot of work. He was the son of famed motorcycle stuntman Ken Mitchell, and he had grown up in his father’s shadow. Then three years ago, he’d surpassed his father by pulling off a stunt that was as dangerous as it was legendary.
If everything went according to plan tomorrow, she’d be working for them. Her job would be to make sure that they were putting out the right message on social media and creating a community around the casino that would be entertainment-focused.
She wasn’t going to lie—she was damned excited about the thought of getting this job. But right now, she had an errand to run. Gran had texted that she needed a bottle of Schnapps so she could make her famous Sex on the Beach cocktail for Mr. Edmonds before they went out, so Talia dashed into the liquor store on the corner, texting with Sami as she waited to pay for the bottle.
Sami: Let’s celebrate your new gig by going out tonight. Don’t say you can’t. I already called your Gran and she’s got a hot date with Mr. Edmonds.
Talia: I know. That’s why I had to pick up condoms earlier. But I don’t have the job yet…
Sami: I’m sure it’s a done deal. They’d be stupid not to hire you. So meet me at my place at eight. Let’s go out and let loose before you get overwhelmed by all the work at your new job.
Sami: Can’t you pretend to be happy.
Talia: <a string of emojis and a gif of girls partying> Better?
Sami: It’ll do, donkey.
Talia: Where are we going?
Sami: Let’s check out the Jokers Wild. I have some comps for drinks that they gave out at work.
Talia: But I might be working there.
Sami: You will be working there. All the more reason to go out tonight, before you have to be on your best behavior.
Sami had a point, but then, she usually did. Talia and Sami had been friends since the sixth grade, when Sami’s family had moved to Hendersonville—a Vegas suburb—and Talia had been assigned to show the new girl around. Now, Sami was doing the same for her. Talia would have a better idea of how the casino worked if she’d been there with Sami beforehand.
Talia: Sounds good to me.
Sami sent back a thumbs up, which Talia knew meant that her friend’s boss was back in the office. Sami worked in the cash control vault for one of the other casinos on the strip. She was a payroll clerk and spent all day matching deposit receipts to the cash and credit card slips that were sent in.
Her job sounded incredibly boring to Talia. But her friend, who was of Indian descent and drop dead gorgeous, and always got offers for modeling work whenever they went out, seemed to love it. She liked numbers, and said they could be trusted.
But Talia knew they couldn’t. Not when they were on the lighted screen of a slot machine or on a pair of dice being thrown on a green velvet table.
“Next,” the cashier said.
She pocketed her cell phone and put the bottle on the counter. She’d drop off the Schnapps and the condoms and Gran should be good to go.
Once she’d paid, she went to leave. But as she did, someone held the door open for her.
“No problem. Looks like you’ve got a fun night planned, brown eyes,” he said.
It was the gambler with the sexy smile.
She didn’t believe in luck, having seen it turn false more than once. “I guess you wouldn’t believe me if I told you it wasn’t for me.”
“Not judging,” he said.
But his mouth was. He had a wry smile on his face and she couldn’t help but notice the shape of his lips. They were full and looked incredibly kissable… She shook her head. She’d spent too much time thinking about Gran’s hot date.
“Goodbye,” she said.
“Catch you around, brown eyes,” he said.
She glanced back at him. “I have a name, you know.”
“Let’s see if we meet again. Then we can exchange names.”
“Fate,” he said.
She shook her head. Of course he believed in fate. He probably thought luck existed too…just not the bad kind. Really, she should be glad he didn’t want to know her name. She didn’t need another gambler in her life. She’d just managed to climb out of the hole her father had left her in.
Tour Wide Giveaway!
To celebrate the release of ONE NIGHT GAMBLE by Katherine Garbera, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
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 Entangled Publishing. Giveaway ends 1/18/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Katherine Garbera
USA Today bestselling author KATHERINE GARBERA writes emotionally sexy contemporary romances. An Amazon, BN & iBooks bestseller, she is also a two-time Maggie winner and has more than 7 million copies of her books sold worldwide.
Today we have the blog tour for Melissa Foster’s TRAILS OF LOVE! Check out this fantastic new contemporary romance and be sure to grab your copy today!
Title: TRAILS OF LOVE
Author: Melissa Foster
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About TRAILS OF LOVE:Discover the magic of New York Times bestseller Melissa Foster's writing, and see why millions of readers have fallen in love with the Bradens and the rest of the Love in Bloom big-family romance collection. In TRAILS OF LOVE... When Graham Braden travels to Oak Falls, Virginia to attend the wedding of his buddy Reed Cross to Grace Montgomery, he sticks around to help with renovations to Reed's new theater. The last thing he expects is to be asked to assess and possibly invest in Grace's sister Morgyn's business endeavor. Graham is a careful, keen businessman, and Morgyn is impulsive, disorganized, and more interested in the energy flow in her eclectic retail shop than in the accuracy of her records. While Graham isn't ready to open his pockets to the sassy, sexy business owner, he may be ready to open his heart.
Morgyn clutched Graham’s hand and leaned over the edge to give it to her. Her dress crept up the backs of her legs, barely covering her ass. She didn’t seem to notice or care as she popped upright, looking sexy as sin and carefree as the wind.
“You might need that hat later,” he pointed out.
“And you think too much.” She waved her hand dismissively. “I’ll just borrow yours.”
“I’d build you a shelter before I’d part with my lucky hat, sunshine.”
She made a pouty face that was freaking adorable, and then her eyes narrowed and she crossed her arms, studying him. “What’s so special about that hat?”
“You want my secrets? You’ve got to give me some of yours.” The hat had been his father’s, and it had always brought Graham luck. He wasn’t about to tell her that he’d never met a woman he wanted a long-term relationship with, and until that happened, his lucky hat would remain solely in his possession.
“I don’t have secrets, so you can keep yours.” She leaned closer and, lifting the strap of his green duffel bag over his head, said, “Ready to live dangerously, Mr. Risk Assessor?”
He tossed his duffel to the ground as she began shimmying and swaying to the beat of the country song, her eyes locked on him, and in that moment, he didn’t give a rat’s ass about his hat. When the beat quickened, she kept pace, dancing with seductive confidence, like she was born with rhythm in her blood. Her allure was too strong to resist, and he began moving without thought. As an engineer and an investor, he did careful research, planning, and execution for everything he did, and that carried over to the extreme sports he took part in. Doing anything without thought was a first for him, but he wasn’t about to fight it because Sunshine was watching him like she wanted to disappear into him, and he sure as hell wanted to disappear into her.
He swept an arm around her, drawing her against him again, and her eyes flamed, but there was no hint of a blush on her cheeks. A bolt of heat shot through him. There was nothing sexier than a confident woman.
He put his mouth beside her ear as he said, “For your information, I thrive on danger.”
About Melissa Foster:Melissa Foster is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling and award-winning author. She writes sexy and heartwarming contemporary romance, new adult romance and women's fiction with emotionally compelling characters that stay with you long after you turn the last page. Readers adore Melissa's fun, flirty, and sinfully sexy, award-winning big family romance collection, LOVE IN BLOOM featuring the Snow Sisters, Bradens, Remingtons, Ryders, Seaside Summer, Harborside Nights, and the Wild Boys After Dark. Melissa's emotional journeys are lovingly erotic and always family oriented. Melissa also writes sweet and clean romance under the pen name Addison Cole. Melissa has painted and donated several murals to The Hospital for Sick Children in Washington, DC. Her interests include her family, reading, writing, painting, friends, helping others see the positive side of life, and visiting Cape Cod. Melissa is available to chat with book clubs and welcomes comments and emails from her readers. Visit Melissa on social media or her personal website. Never miss a brand new release, special promotions or inside gossip again by simply signing up to receive your newsletter from Melissa.
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About DEEP IN THE HEART (January 8th)
She's mending guitars and her life. He's trying to forget the war with music. Will one broken instrument make their love a smash hit?
Jenna Olsen isn't sure she'll ever escape her terrible choices in love. Becoming a skilled guitar craftsperson helped with the anxiety, but she dreams of the day when she can trust someone again. When an up-and-coming country star asks for a custom guitar in an impossible time-frame, Jenna falls for the challenge… and the man.
Camden Grace loves his music and adores his fans. His passions help him cope with the physical wounds he sustained in Iraq, but he remains haunted by his fractured family history. After his latest angry outburst leaves an expensive guitar shattered, he doesn't expect to find a strong-willed woman whose struggle echoes his own.
As the instrument and their feelings start to come together, an old would-be flame attempts to sabotage their relationship with increasingly aggressive behavior. Will a jealous rival kill more than their careers or will Jenna and Camden rise above the rage to heal their hearts forever?
I cradled the phone between my ear and my shoulder, mainly because my hands shook too hard for me to hold the device in place.
“Hello?” Cam’s deep voice caused a pleasant ripple through my belly. Not caring about my dates the last few years made the situation both easier and harder— I didn’t know how to deal with my flutters or the heat sweeping through my torso.
“Hi. Cam?” Breathy Marilyn Monroe and I had never met before this moment.
“Speaking. Is this Jenna?”
Much as I wanted to clear my throat, that seemed worse than going with the breathy version of my voice. “It is.” Wrong. I cleared my throat. “I’ve picked out some samples for you to approve. After you have the wood chosen, we can go over the schedule for the build out.”
“I’m tied up until five-thirty, maybe a little longer. Want to meet up then?”
Pop-pop liked to take off at four for his weekly bingo game. The thought of spending another hour or more in Cam’s company, sans supervision both thrilled and terrified me.
I drew in a deep breath through my nose.
This was a sale. Another instrument I’d create, get credit for. That thrill proved stronger than the fear.
“It may take a couple of hours,” I said. “Maybe it’d be best—”
“I don’t have anywhere else I need to be this evening, and I got the sense you wanted to jump on this project fast.”
“True. I’ll need every minute of the next few weeks to get this right. In fact, that’s one of the details I’d like to go over with you.” I pressed my lips together to stop more words from pouring out of my mouth. Cam waited, as if knowing I wasn’t finished. “So, Pop-pop’s packed up by four. Why don’t you call me to let me know you’re out front? I can unlock the door and disarm the system.”
“Glad to hear you’re taking precautions. See you then.”
My grandfather looked over and smiled, dipping his head in approval. What had I just agreed to?
I wandered back to the studio, inhaling the sharp tang of fresh cut wood, sawdust and the wood protectant Pop-pop developed and patented back in the sixties. While the guitars were a source of joy and creativity, the three patents my grandfather held were the main source of the business’s income.
For the first time in years, my heart rate picked up at the mere thought of a man. My body ignited at the memory of our one touch. I settled back onto my stool, forcing Camden Grace’s gravelly voice, those thick biceps and luscious brown eyes from my mind. Which meant I must stop dwelling on the fact I wanted to spend more time with Cam. I pulled my hands from the table and balled them into fists. I had work to do. Work that required focus. Desiring Cam was one thing. Acting on it another.
I would not act on my newfound crush. Because Cam might well turn out to be another Robbie. Or, worse, another Ben or Charles.
Then, he’d be one of the long line of men who screwed me over.
Been there, done that. Not looking for a repeat.
Deep in the Heart is a new adult contemporary romance with a melody of music. If you like sizzling chemistry, raw emotions, and wounded heroes, then you'll love Alexa Padgett's compelling novel.
Buy Deep in the Heart to strike a chord of love today!
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About Alexa Padgett
With a degree in international marketing and a varied career path that includes content management for a web firm, marketing direction for a high-profile sports agency, and a two-year stint with a renowned literary agency, award-winning author Alexa Padgett has returned to her first love: writing fiction.
Alexa spent a good part of her youth traveling. From Budapest to Belize, Calgary to Coober Pedy, she soaked in the myriad smells, sounds, and feels of these gorgeous places, wishing she could live in them all—at least for a while. And she does in her books.
She lives in New Mexico with her husband, children, and walk-loving Great Pyrenees pup, Ash. When not writing, schlepping, or volunteering, she can be found in her tiny kitchen, channeling her inner Barefoot Contessa.
Love Under Contract
Jenkins and Sons Construction Series Book 1
by Sharon C. Cooper
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Timing is everything.
Sumeera Robinson refuses to settle for less than she desires, even if what she craves is the sexy, smart, and charming Nicolas Jenkins-Moore. At her age, she wants marriage and a family, not the empty promises Nick offers. Yet, there is just something about the man that makes moving on nearly impossible.
As the new senior manager of Jenkins & Sons Construction, Nick’s five-year plan is on track with marriage and starting a family at the bottom of the list. Sumeera is as beautiful inside as she is on the outside, but not even she can entice him to abandon his carefully plotted road to success. That is until she walks away without looking back, leaving him yearning for her presence in his life.
Nick is determined to convince Sumeera that he wants the same things she wants. But will an unexpected development keep them from the life they desire? Or will fate bring them closer than they’ve ever been before?
Sumeera dropped her compact back into her purse as a loud rumbling motor sounded outside. She went back to the window and tilted the aluminum slat of the blinds down, willing herself to remain calm when she spotted Nick’s truck. There was a time in her life when she’d only been attracted to a man in a suit and tie, clean shaven, with a runner’s body. But nothing about Nicholas Jenkins-Moore resembled that picture.
Just over six-feet tall with dark soulful eyes and skin the color of toasted almonds, Nick, a sheet metal worker by trade, ran one of the largest construction companies in Cincinnati. Her heart pounded against her ribcage as she observed him standing behind his truck taking in his surroundings. He reminded her of a poster boy for everything rugged and powerful.
She wasn’t sure why he parked on the street instead of in the driveway, but it gave her a chance to admire him from a distance. He wore a dark wool cap pulled down low and sunglasses shielded his eyes. Even in his work coat, one could tell he had wide shoulders and a broad chest. His tree-trunk-like legs were encased in his customary blue jeans and dusty steel-toe boots covered his feet.
Sumeera remained rooted in place as desire hummed through her veins while she watched him. His long, easy gait carrying him up the driveway toward the house. With a diamond stud earring in each ear, his sexy goatee and tattoos that she knew covered his forearms beneath his coat, he was everything her prim and proper mother would disapprove of. Yet, Sumeera was crazy in love with the man. Hence, her biggest problem at the moment.
She and Nick had dated for seven months until she made the mistake of falling in love with him. It was a mistake because he had made it clear up front that he wasn’t looking for a serious commitment. Like so many women, Sumeera thought she could change him. Didn’t happen. Then she thought she could handle being in a relationship without knowing if it would amount to marriage, but quickly realized she couldn’t handle that either. And she definitely didn’t want to end up like her mother. Mona had stayed with Russell, who promised marriage, but thirty-five years later he was still making promises and they still weren’t married. That’s why Sumeera had put some distance between herself and Nick. She wanted a different life than her mother’s.
Sumeera stepped away from the window and closed her eyes, willing away the slight headache trying to creep in. She knew her constant tiredness and the random headaches were from working more than she’d been sleeping, and lately she’d been paying for it.
Nick rang the doorbell, and Sumeera opened her eyes. She wiggled her shoulders to relieve some tension, then ran her fingers through her hair hoping it looked alright.
“Okay. I’m ready.” She exhaled before opening the door. But no amount of preparation could have readied her for coming face to face with the man she’d dreamed about during many lonely nights over the last few weeks.
Nick removed his shades, placing them in the top pocket of his jacket that rested over his heart. She swallowed hard when their gazes collided. He studied her for what felt like hours. His sexy brown eyes scrutinized, doing a slow crawl down her body, and then back up again. Heat consumed her, making her want to fan herself, but she didn’t move.
“Hello, Sumeera.” His rich, deep voice washed over her like a gentle breeze, nipping at her skin, and her heart rate inched higher. His cologne, a woodsy scent, brought back memories of romantic nights and happier times. She hadn’t seen him in a month and a half, but there hadn’t been a day that went by that she didn’t think of him.
Award-winning and bestselling author, Sharon C. Cooper, is a romance-a-holic - loving anything that involves romance with a happily-ever-after, whether in books, movies, or real life. Sharon writes contemporary romance, as well as romantic suspense and enjoys rainy days, carpet picnics, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. She's been nominated for numerous awards and is the recipient of an Emma Award for Romantic Suspense of the Year 2015 (Truth or Consequences), Emma Award - Interracial Romance of the Year 2015 (All You'll Ever Need), and BRAB (book club) Award -Breakout Author of the Year 2014. When Sharon is not writing or working, she's hanging out with her amazing husband, doing volunteer work or reading a good book (a romance of course).
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Christmas Camp Wedding by Karen Schaler
Series n/a; standalone
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance
Publisher Morrow Impulse
Publication Date January 8, 2018
After finally becoming partner at her advertising agency, Haley Hanson barely has time to plan her Christmas Eve wedding with her fiancé Jeff. When their perfect location falls through at the last minute, they need to find a new venue, fast. But everything is booked for the holidays, except for the place where Haley and Jeff fell in love, Christmas Camp.
With time running out to transform the inn into a winter wonderland, Trisha, a top wedding planner is brought in to help; she also just happens to be Jeff’s ex-girlfriend.
Will Jeff and Trisha’s Christmas past get in the way of Haley’s Christmas future, or can Christmas Camp still work its magic for a holiday happily ever after?
Haley Hanson was right in the middle of one of those once-in-a-lifetime moments every girl supposedly dreams of. She was trying on a spectacular wedding dress. But looking at herself in the mirror, instead of feeling overjoyed, she almost felt—guilty, because this had never been her dream.
A successful career woman and the youngest partner at one of Boston’s most prestigious advertising agencies, Haley had always been more of a realist than a fairy-tale kind of girl. But somehow, in the most unlikely way, she had found her HEA, her Happily Ever After.
Meeting Jeff had changed everything.
Even as she thought about him now, she had to catch her breath. He had a way of doing that to her, taking her breath away. His love, his kindness, his dedication to family, his passion for life and his work, and most of all, his unconditional love for her had opened a door to a future she had never dared dream of. The fact that he was also incredibly handsome was just a bonus.
From the moment she had met Jeff and his dad, Ben, at Christmas Camp a year ago, the path she had always been on shifted. With Jeff, her journey to find love had been far from easy. There were bumpy roads, wrong turns, detours, and delays, but in the end, she knew that right now, even if this hadn’t been a dream she’d grown up with, she was exactly where she was meant to be, standing on a dressing room platform, inside one of Boston’s beautiful boutique bridal stores.
As she did a slow spin in front of the mirror, taking in her stunning silk-sheath wedding dress, she still couldn’t believe how trusting her heart had led her here.
It was really happening.
She was marrying Jeff in forty-eight hours, on Christmas Eve!
She still couldn’t believe how fast the last year had flown by. The last few months especially were a blur, planning the wedding while helping Jeff’s dad franchise his Christmas Camp concept.
When she first pitched Ben the idea, she believed it would be successful, but nothing had prepared them for the overwhelming response of people wanting to do the Christmas Camps, not just in the United States but in Europe, as well.
Working in advertising, she knew one of the keys to being successful was creating something people needed. She had learned firsthand just how powerful and life changing a Christmas Camp experience could be. She knew the day she had given up a prestigious national account to help Ben launch the Christmas Camp franchise idea that she was doing the right thing, just like she knew now, two days before her wedding, that she was marrying the right person for all the right reasons.
The fact that she had no doubts left her with an incredible sense of gratitude and wonder at how this could now be her life. She had gone from being nicknamed the Grinch to having her own Christmas miracle.
As her sparkling oval-cut engagement ring caught the light, she smiled remembering how Jeff had proposed to her at the same place his dad had proposed to his mom, at Star Peak, overlooking a breathtaking snow-covered mountain range.
Jeff had started off by having them both look for a pinecone so they could make a Christmas wish together, a tradition in Jeff’s family. After he had helped Haley pick the perfect pinecone, she had found a stunning engagement ring tucked inside. Jeff had told her it was his dad’s idea to use diamonds from his mom’s wedding ring to have a special ring created just for her, to continue the tradition of true love. He had then gotten down on one knee and proposed, saying how much he loved her and that he wanted to spend every Christmas together for the rest of their lives.
Knowing that Jeff had proposed to her at Star Peak, just like his dad had proposed to his mom, meant everything to her. Now that his mom had passed away, she knew it was even more important to him to honor her memory by keeping special traditions like this alive.
Haley would be the first to admit that when she first met Jeff and his dad, Christmas traditions weren’t exactly her thing. That’s why her boss, Larry, had sent her to Holly Peak Inn, to Christmas Camp, to find her Christmas spirit, hoping it would help her land a huge new holiday advertising campaign.
For years, Haley’s idea of celebrating Christmas meant getting out of town and taking her parents to the Caribbean to avoid all the Christmas craziness and celebrating the holiday. While her parents would vacation on the beach, she would always work, using the time not celebrating Christmas to get ahead, while her competitors took time off.
But as soon as Haley had arrived at Christmas Camp, she quickly found there was no avoiding the Christmas craziness there. She was surrounded by Christmas 24–7, from the decorations, to the activities, to the meals, you name it. If it had anything to do with Christmas, it was happening at Christmas Camp. Haley had desperately wanted to escape, but when her boss insisted she stay the entire week, all she could do was try to find ways to avoid all the holiday hoopla. But every time she tried to take a shortcut, she kept running into one big roadblock.
Jeff’s dad, Ben, owned the inn and ran the Christmas Camp, so Jeff had made it his personal mission to keep an eye on Haley. He’d known she didn’t want to be there and had told her he wanted to make sure she didn’t wreck the other guests’ experiences. That’s when she had nicknamed him the “Christmas Camp Police.”
But what had started out as Christmas Camp chaos had turned into something much more meaningful for Haley. Through Christmas Camp, she was able to learn what mattered most at Christmas—family, friends, community, and love—and was then able to open her heart to finding her Christmas spirit and finding true love.
If someone had told her back then that the following Christmas she’d be marrying the “Christmas Camp Police,” she would have laughed them all the way to the North Pole.
But yet, here she was, wearing a wedding dress. It was crazy. Christmas crazy, in a good way.
Haley twirled around one more time in front of the mirror. “So what do you think?” She looked over at her best friend, Kathy, who was enjoying the posh surroundings, lounging on a white velvet settee, sipping champagne.
Kathy lifted her glass in a toast. “I think it’s perfect for you. It’s simple but chic, classy but not stuffy, expensive but not showy. It’s totally you. I love it!”
Haley smiled brightly. “So do I. They did a great job with the alterations.”
“It’s going to be perfect for the pictures,” Kathy said.
“I hope so.” Haley reverently touched her silky dress. “You know, at first, I only agreed to do all of this—the designer dress, the fancy cake, and all the flowers—because my mom and dad needed some promotional pictures to get ready to open their B&B. But now, honestly, I’m really getting into it. I guess it’s happened. I’ve officially caught bridal fever.”
“And why not?” Kathy said. “You only do this once. You deserve this.”
“I’m just glad I was able to get everyone to donate everything in exchange for all the publicity this will hopefully bring them.”
Kathy nodded. “Your parents are lucky they have a brand specialist for a daughter who can work her magic and make all these things happen.”
“I’m just thankful all the renovations are finally done at the Money Pit, in time for the wedding, and to open after Christmas,” Haley said.
Kathy gave her a look. “Hey, remember, you’re not supposed to call it the Money Pit anymore? That’s bad karma. It’s now your parents’ beautifully restored Victorian that’s going to be one of the hottest B&Bs in Massachusetts.”
Haley laughed. “As long as I’m still paying the bills on it, I’m calling it the Money Pit.”
“Fair enough,” Kathy said and smiled back at her.
A pretty salesclerk walked over to Haley holding a fabulous bejeweled tiara and veil. “Are you ready to try this on?” she asked.
Haley nodded, excited.
As the salesclerk arranged the veil, Haley shut her eyes.
“Okay, you can open your eyes now,” she said.
When Haley opened her eyes and looked at her reflection in the mirror, she let out a small gasp. As she fought back tears of happiness, she couldn’t believe this was really her life. She was getting married to a man who was better than any dream she’d ever had. “I feel like . . .”
“Cinderella?” Kathy asked.
“No,” Haley laughed, breaking the spell. “I could never do those glass slippers.” She thought about it for a moment, then smiled. “I feel like Meghan Markel in my own fairy tale.”
They all laughed.
When Haley struck the perfect princess pose, Kathy snapped a quick picture with her phone. “Well, no one deserves a fairy tale more than you and Meghan.” Kathy lifted her glass of champagne for a toast. “To the fairy tale . . .”
Haley held out her empty hands. “Wait, where’s my champagne?”
Kathy was already pouring her a glass. “After you get out of your dress.”
“I think that’s our cue,” the salesclerk said to Haley, as she led her back into the dressing room and carefully help her out of her dress. Haley, with a grateful smile, handed her the veil and tiara. “Thank you, this is all perfect.”
The salesclerk smiled back at her. “We’ll have it all ready for you up front. You’re going to look beautiful. This dress is perfect on you. We can’t wait to see the pictures.”
“Thank you, again, for everything.” Haley gave her a grateful smile.
A few minutes later, Haley came out of the dressing room wearing chic black pants, strappy high heels, and a sapphire-blue leather coat. She looked every inch the success she was.
When Kathy handed her a glass of champagne, they clinked glasses. “Now we can toast together. To my best friend getting married, chasing her dreams, and creating her own happily ever after. You’re my inspiration.
Haley gave Kathy a heartfelt hug. “And thank you for being here and doing all this with me.”
Kathy sipped her champagne, smiled. “You’re my best friend. Where else would I be? Plus, I love the dress I get to wear.” Kathy walked over to a gorgeous burgundy velvet cocktail dress that was hanging up.
“Only the best for my best woman,” Haley said. “It really is going to look amazing on you.”
“I love that you’re not calling me your maid of honor,” Kathy said. “The word ‘maid’ is too close to the word ‘old maid,’ and I don’t need to be reminded . . .”
Haley laughed. “We’re only thirty-three. You’re not an old maid.”
“Yeah, well tell that to my dating app where all the guys only want to date hot twenty-year-olds.”
“Then you need to find a better place to meet guys,” Haley said.
“Well, one of those places is supposed to be a wedding, but then you decided to have this small, intimate wedding, so you’re not helping me out one bit.”
Haley laughed. “So, you’re saying I should have done a big wedding so you could meet someone?”
Kathy poured herself more champagne. “Exactly. You’re supposed to help me get my HEA.”
Haley put her arm around her. “I’m sorry I let you down on this one, but I know your happily ever after is just around the corner. Jeff’s dad always says at Christmas anything is possible. You just have to believe.”
Kathy laughed. “And to think a year ago I was calling you Grinchy.”
Haley grinned back at her. “I guess my heart has grown three sizes, just like the Grinch’s.”
“And then some,” Kathy agreed.
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Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of CHRISTMAS CAMP WEDDING by Karen Schaler, we’re giving away one paperback copy of The Christmas Camp!
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of The Christmas Camp by Karen Schaler. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 1/11/2019 @ 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 Karen Schaler
KAREN SCHALER is a three-time Emmy award-winning writer, author, screenwriter, journalist, and national TV host. She has more than a decade of experience working as a national TV correspondent and host, traveling to more than 65 countries. She is currently the creator and host of Travel Therapy TV, which was inspired by her book, Travel Therapy: Where Do You Need to Go?
Today we have the re-release blitz of THE EVERYTHING SERIES by A.K. Evans! Check it out and be sure to grab your copy of this series now!
Everything I Need
Charley Meadows has lost nearly everything she loves.
Coming face-to-face with adversity more times than she cares to admit, she moves from the place she's always called home. Determined to move past the events that shattered her world, Charley abandons her true calling in life and replaces it with exhausting days of mindless, unfulfilling work.
But she never expected to have her newfound peace disrupted by Wes Blackman.
Wes is a hometown hero. Snowboarder extraordinaire turned business owner, Wes' focus is on making Blackman Boards the industry leader in snowboard production. Sadly, running a successful business has prevented him from keeping up with his passion for riding. But with his company set to launch a new series of boards, Wes finds himself back on the mountain.
What he hadn't expected to find was a mysterious girl with a battered heart.
Charley is afraid to take a risk, knowing where it could lead. However, Wes is irresistibly charming. If she opens her heart to vulnerability, she's worried tragedy may strike again.
Wes wants the opportunity to prove that no matter what happens, he'll always be there to pick up the pieces.
Everything I Have
Emme James lives in darkness.
Ever since her abusive relationship ended in heartbreaking tragedy, she's kept herself secluded to protect herself and those she loves. Unfortunately, Emme's plans to remain unattached fall apart the moment Zane Cunningham sets his sights on her.
A professional snowboarder at the top of his game, Zane does not need a distraction. But when Emme walks into his life, he can't fight the pull he feels toward her and will take her any way he can get her.
Emme struggles to resist Zane's persistent efforts to turn their friendship into something more. Having lived a charmed life, Zane is devastated when he learns the truth about the tragic incident in her past. Realizing the ugliness in her life hasn't deterred Zane, Emme finally gives into the attraction between them.
Just as Zane brings light and laughter into Emme's life, her trouble finally catches up to her and threatens her newfound happiness. Zane promises he'll keep her safe, no matter the cost.
Because he knows that if he can't, Emme may be lost in darkness forever.
Everything I Want
When starry-eyed dancer, Monroe Archer, meets professional snowboarder Xander Stone, she believes she's found the man of her dreams. Searching for her fairytale romance since she was a little girl, Monroe uproots her life and goes after what she wants.
Stone is a grief-stricken man. At a young age, he learned that forever doesn't exist. Ever since, he's been a tortured soul, living his life devoid of any new personal attachments.
Not long after Monroe moves to town, she's shocked to discover that despite their attraction, Stone is unwilling to offer anything more than just friendship. Just as Monroe tries to move on, Stone realizes his attraction to her isn't something he can so easily deny. Powerless to resist her any longer, Stone starts something with Monroe knowing he is incapable of giving her forever.
With her sweet and charming disposition, Monroe sets out to heal the wounds left on the heart of the man she loves. But it isn't long before Monroe realizes that sometimes those that love you most are the ones that hurt you the worst.
Everything I Love
Nikki Drake was just nine years old when she experienced her first heartbreak. Sixteen years and many betrayals later, she’s learned that life is what you make of it. While her past hasn’t stopped her from working hard and becoming a genuine and confident woman, it has affected one small part of her. Nikki refuses to give her heart to anyone ever again.
Luke Townsend is a man most women dream about. Underneath his tall, handsome exterior he’s charming, compassionate, sensitive, and loyal. A dedicated snowboarder, Luke knows what it means to work hard for what he wants. And what Luke wants is Nikki.
When Luke tells Nikki he’s fallen in love with her, she’s devastated to think she’s going to hurt him the same way others have hurt her. Having resolved to live a life without romantic love, Nikki rejects him. Luke walks away, vowing to find a way to win her heart.
Three months later, Nikki decides to take a chance on Luke. He is patient and understanding while she struggles to be vulnerable and to find the courage to trust he won’t hurt her. But when Nikki finally hands her heart over to him, Luke shatters her world with the truth.
A.K. Evans is a married mother of two boys residing in a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania. After graduating from Lafayette College in 2004 with two degrees (one in English and one in Economics & Business), she pursued a career in the insurance and financial services industry. Not long after, Evans realized the career was not for her. She went on to manage her husband’s performance automotive business and drive the shop race cars for the next thirteen years. While the business afforded her freedoms she wouldn’t necessarily have had in a typical 9-5 job, after eleven years she was no longer receiving personal fulfillment from her chosen career path. Following many discussions, lots of thought, and tons of encouragement, Andrea decided to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.
Between her day job, writing, and homeschooling her two boys, Evans is left with very little free time. When she finds scraps of spare time, she enjoys reading, doing yoga, watching NY Rangers hockey, dancing, and vacationing with her family. Andrea, her husband, and her children are currently working on taking road trips to visit all 50 states (though, Alaska and Hawaii might require flights).
Connect with A.K. Evans Today:
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Plain Jane and the Hitman by Tmonique Stephens
Series The Plain Jane Series
Genre Adult Contemporary Romance & Romantic Suspense
Publication Date January 1, 2019
A LOVE STORY WITH A BODY.
Trained by the best in the business, Emmet Streeter is nobody’s babysitter, until his mentor’s secret daughter needs a bodyguard. She’s everything he doesn’t want: mouthy, obstinate, temperamental, and untouchable. So why can’t he keep his hands off her?
The unwanted daughter of a hitman, Bailey Monroe has kept a low profile until Emmet barges into her life. He’s a killer sent to protect her from a killer. She’s intrigued instead of terrified by his cold eyes, hard face, and his deadly aim.
A carbon copy of the father she hates, she has every reason to fear Emmet, but desire grows in the strangest places under the strangest circumstances.
She shouldn’t trust him, shouldn’t sleep with him and definitely shouldn’t follow him into the jaws of hell to save a father who never loved her.
The market was more like a bazaar filled with every colorful item imaginable and every exotic scent Bailey had ever inhaled. But it was the people that fascinated her. The pleasure on their faces when she asked for permission to take their photos. The joy at viewing the result. She loved taking pictures of the children. Something about capturing their youth, a moment when happiness is all they felt, inspired her.
She bought a beef patty with coco bread from a vendor along with a ginger beer to quench her thirst as she wandered the stalls purchasing decorative earrings, a seashell necklace, and bracelet. A dance troupe sashayed by in their colorful, yet scanty outfits. She captured the fluidity of their bodies, their gaiety and the ecstasy in their movements. They danced around her, made her join in, though she couldn’t keep up and made a complete fool of herself.
And she loved it, this small piece of faux freedom where nothing mattered except the sun on her skin, the wind in her hair, and the good food in her tummy.
Something tugged on her waist and her fanny pack slid free. She spun, expecting it to be near her feet. Instead, it was running away, carried by a kid as fast as a cheetah. She took off after him, darting around people, pushing some out of her way and screaming an apology as she struggled to keep the kid in sight. A woman blocked her, and the kid vanished down an alley off the main square.
This was a bad idea, but she followed. Her passport and wallet were in her fanny pack. She had to get it back. The alley was filled with a network of shanties made of leftover aluminum and wood and anything else the occupants got a hold of. That’s how it was on most of the island. Luxury and poverty residing feet apart. Present, yet tucked out of sight away from the tourists. The boy ran into one of those shanties. Ordinarily, she wasn’t one to barge into someone’s house unannounced, but the kid had her shit.
At full speed, she barreled toward the open doorway, and nearly bounced off the chest of a man. She backed up and noticed the man wasn’t alone. Others came out of the shanties to watch.
She raised her hands in mock surrender. “I don’t want any trouble. I just want what belongs to me.”
“This what you want?” he said in a thick accent as he signaled to someone inside the shanty. The boy came out carrying her fanny pack in one hand and a smug grin on his face.
“It’s mine.” She held out her hand.
The man unzipped the pouch and peered inside. “Valuable stuff inside. I see a passport. No cash, though. You want it back?”
Nah, you can keep my passport and credit cards. I don’t need them. “Yes. I want them back,” she said calmly as more gathered to watch. Or to join? She wasn’t sure.
“What you give me for it?” He haggled like a professional thief.
“How can I give you something when you have everything?” She gritted out the words through her teeth.
His grin was a black hole of missing teeth. He gave her that “I’m hungry and you’re a piece of meat” look that made her want a bath. “I know what you can give me.”
Not happening. Bailey stepped back. The man stepped forward, reaching for her. It would be the last thing he ever reached for.
“Step away from the woman.” A voice cracked like a whip and echoed in the alley.
She didn’t move. She kept her focus trained on the asshole holding her fanny pack. Whoever the voice belonged to, she’d thank him for the distraction later.
Footsteps sounded behind her. Steady, the precise pace brought another man to her right. He swept in front of her without pause. Crisp white short-sleeved shirt stretched over a well- defined broad back. White male, black crew cut fade. Tall, the way she liked them.
She reared back, flustered at his proximity and nerve. One doesn’t step into an altercation that’s none of one’s business.
“Who are you?” her would-be thief asked.
And she concurred. Who was he? She moved to the left for a better view and wasn’t disappointed. His profile was as fine as the man. For a fraction of a second, his gaze cut to her— blue, ice blue. A chill ran down her spine, not just from his artic gaze. Everything about the man was hard, cold, and hostile, deadly to anything with a pulse. Yet, contained on a low simmer, under a thin veneer of slightly tanned skin. I think I’ve found Daisy’s perfect non-blond man.
His gaze returned to the would-be thief. And just like that, the Caribbean sun heated her blood. “The pack, it’s not worth losing an arm,” her newfound protector said. She liked his voice, the sexy, low timbre hummed along her skin.
“I ain’t afraid of you.”
Liar. She could hear the fear in his voice, even with more people filling the alley. Whoa! Her protector had moved so fast, she’d missed the fight but not the result. The thief was sprawled on the ground. Un-fucking-conscious. Talk about a glass jaw. Her hero bent down and plucked her fanny pack free. He still didn’t turn to face her, instead, he stepped in front of her again and pulled a gun from beneath his shirt.
“We got a problem here?” he faced the crowd, meeting their hostile eyes. One by one, they turned away and cleared a path out of the alley.
He took her arm, his fingers rough and warm, and strong on her skin. He didn’t give her a choice, not that she would’ve chosen differently, as he guided her out of the alley. Back on the main thoroughfare, she pulled free and spun.
She’d seen him before. Last night, at the pool party. He sat at a table tucked into a corner in the back, observing everyone while he sipped on a clear drink. Could’ve been vodka but she suspected club soda. She didn’t know why the thought occurred when it and he were none of her business. He’d seemed out of place with his brooding dark looks, intense stare, and general don’t fuck with me vibe. He carried himself like he knew how to deliver pain, or pleasure, depending on the circumstances.
No one fucked with him. Including most of the women. Oh, some brave souls sauntered up to him in their bikinis and clear heels. Their breasts high, their pelvises forward, strutting like they were on a runway. With a flick of his fingers, he sent them on their way.
Now, he stared at her with the icy blue eyes. Did that color have a name? “I didn’t need your help.”
He cocked his head to the side and she noticed he had a touch of salt mixed in with his coal black hair at his temple. His brow lowered to two angry slashes over those eyes, he stated matter-of-factly, “You did. Accept it and move on.” His lips formed a grim slash that she suspected were full if he ever smiled. She couldn’t tell if his jaw was squared or sharp due to a full beard and mustache, but she wanted to know.
Hand to the small of her back, he guided her through the throng. She had no idea where he led her and didn’t fight it. Out of the crowd was good enough for now. People cleared out of their way when they saw him coming. She didn’t like his familiarity, his hand on her body, heating her skin through the thin barrier of her shirt, or her body’s reaction to that heat. She certainly didn’t approve of the way he took over. For the moment, she kept that opinion to herself. He guided her out of the bazaar to a small compact car parked on a side road and opened the passenger door. “Get in,” he ordered, assuming she’d obey as he rounded the front of the car. Such a gentleman. Not that she cared.
“I was taught to never take a ride from a stranger.”
He leaned on the hood, arms splayed, knuckles pressed onto the metal, those cold eyes of his latched onto her. “Good lesson. Doesn’t apply today. Get in the car.”
An eyebrow shop up and his head cocked to the side.
She got the sense no one questioned him. That this was a first for him. “You want to stay and deal with that guy when he wakes up, since you didn’t need my help?”
“Don’t threaten me.”
His brow arched. “You consider that a threat? Babe, when I threaten you, you’ll know it.”
Babe? Hackles rose on the back of her neck. The last thing she needed was to be alone in a car with this man. The hotel shuttle coasted by them and stopped at the end of the street, a block away.
“Thanks for the offer of the ride and getting my stuff back.” She slammed his car door closed and headed for the shuttle. Don’t know why, but she expected footsteps coming up behind her. There weren’t any. She made it to the open-air shuttle and parked her ass on the bench, along with the other hotel guests who visited the bazaar.
Five minutes later, the shuttle pulled away and she bounced along with the rest of the people, aware of the car trailing them.
Don’t turn around. Don’t turn around.
She locked her muscles down and refused to give in. Something was wrong. This guy wasn’t a Good Samaritan. He didn’t rescue her out of the kindness of his heart. He had an agenda. What she didn’t know, but whatever it was, he would be disappointed.
His name! She hadn’t gotten his name. Also, he hadn’t asked for hers, yet he ordered her around as if he had the right to do so.
She hopped out of the shuttle as it coasted to a stop in the circular drive of the hotel and noted the compact continuing down the road to the rear of the hotel.
Her gut churned. He may not know her name, but how difficult would it be to find out when they were staying at the same hotel? Especially for him, a handsome asshole used to getting his way.
Tour Wide Giveaway
To celebrate the release of PLAIN JANE AND THE HITMAN by Tmonique Stephens, we’re giving away a $25 Amazon gift card to one lucky winner!
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 Tmonique Stephens. Giveaway ends 1/7/2019 @ 11:59pm EST. Limit one entry per reader. Duplicates will be deleted. CLICK HERE TO ENTER!
About Tmonique Stephens
TMONIQUE STEPHENS writes passionate novels about Fallen Angels seeking redemption, Egyptian demi-gods finding their powers and average girls landing the hot guys. In her world, Passion Changes Everything!
Dare to Love a Duke by Eva Leigh
Series The London Underground
Genre Adult Historical Romance
Publisher Avon Books
Publication Date December 24, 2018
For a dashing duke and the proprietress of a secret, sensual club in the London Underground, passion could lead to love… if they dare.
Thomas Powell, the new Duke of Northfield, knows he should be proper and principled, like his father. No more dueling, or carousing, or frequenting masked parties where Londoners indulge their wildest desires. But he’s not ready to give up his freedom just yet. The club is an escape, a place where he can forget about society and the weight of his title… and see her, the woman he’s wanted forever.
Lucia—known as Amina—manages the Orchid Club, a secret society where fantasies become reality. But for Lucia, it’s strictly business, profitable enough to finance her dream: a home for the lost girls of the streets. Surrounded by lovers, she only observes, unwilling risk her future for any man. No member has ever intrigued her...until him, the masked stranger whose heated looks sear her skin. After months of suppressed longing, they dare to give in to temptation…
But the late duke’s legacy comes with a shocking secret, and the scandal threatens to destroy everything Tom loves… his family, the Orchid Club, and even Lucia.
She sensed someone’s gaze on her like a velvet glove stroking down the back of her neck.
Lucia looked around to find the source of the sensation. Her breath stuttered and her pulse came in a
quick flutter when she saw its origin.
A rangy, dark-haired man in a blue mask strode purposefully toward her. He moved with fluid, masculine
grace, his body muscular and strapping. The direct way he approached captivated her—as though nothing could keep him from being near her.
Lucia’s pulse leapt again. She shook her head, trying to dismiss her reaction to the guest’s approach. Clients often turned their interests toward her. Yet there was a palpable sensuality to the way he walked and the interest in his gaze. It held frank erotic intent, and the confidence that he could give her extraordinary pleasure.
Even at a distance, his eyes said, I. Want. You.
About Eva Leigh
EVA LEIGH is the pen name of a RITA® Award-nominated romance author who writes novels chock-full of smart women and sexy men. She enjoys baking, Tweeting about boots, and listening to music from the ‘80s. Eva and her husband live in Central California.
One soldier’s long-lost secret is alive and well
Regan Black’s thrilling new miniseries: The Riley Code
When a security snafu turns his world upside down, Major Matt Riley reunites with his long-lost son.
And fourteen years later, the military man is still captivated by his ex, Bethany Trent.
Matt must convince her that their new family bond is for keeps—but first, he must keep them alive…
An emotional and inspirational family drama in the middle of an intense hunt for revenge from a savage culprit who likes to hang back and makes others deliver his evil intentions, malice, and torture.
I have been reading Regan Black's stories for a few years now, and I can honestly say, there's not a one that I have not liked but enjoyed them all immensely. The stories have passion, tension, and deep emotions. The characters have this deep maturity, wisdom, honor, and sense of right and wrong that stands out within the hundreds of romance novels I have read. To say that A Soldier's Honor is most likely my favorite book of hers so far gives you now a better sense how much I actually enjoyed this story.
I loved the characters, respected the tough choices they had to make, the sacrifices they had made, and how despite all, they managed to hold on to kindness, gentleness, amicability and loving feels towards each other, and it just made me appreciate them so much more.
The way Major Matt Riley and his ex, Bethany Trent handle the whole situation, of their past, of their present challenges, of their son, of the danger they are facing, and the family drama that is developing --- It is a roll-a-coaster of emotions, there is more angst than I expected, the feels going from elation to resentment to fear and then to the real danger to their lives and future. It is a story that I didn't want to put down and wanted to linger within, in that enchanted world that the author had created.
The families, their interactions, the drama between Matt and Bethany, their past, how they handled the secret baby in a refreshingly different way, it is all heartfelt with such raw beauty and realistic feel that I wanted to inhale the tale while savoring each moment.
With everyone's personal and family life imbalanced with the secrets coming out, the constant danger on the edge of the reality, and how the reader is more aware of it than the characters cause the evil, revengeful mastermind has his own voice and point of view, gives the already amazing story another dimension that just blew me away.
I loved every moment and absolutely everything about this book, what a way to end the year's reading with an intense, explosive way, and can't wait to see where the author will take us with this new intriguing and emotional series where danger will come up, close, and personal for the Riley family.
~ Five Spoons!